The reopening of movie theaters may hit another speed bump.
Disney will likely delay “Black Widow,” the superhero adventure from Marvel that was slated to open on Nov. 6, according to multiple individuals with knowledge of the situation. The studio is also exploring various release options for Pixar’s existential cartoon “Soul.” The animated kids’ film is still scheduled to release on Nov. 20, but it is unlikely to move forward with those plans. The studio is even considering releasing it on Disney Plus.
A Disney insider disputed claims that “Soul” was moving to Disney Plus.
An impending “Black Widow” delay comes just days after Warner Bros. announced that “Wonder Woman 1984” will debut in late December instead of early October. STX also moved the Gerard Butler thriller “Greenland” out of September, while Universal pushed “Candyman” into 2021, depriving exhibitors of any major releases until James Bond sequel “No Time to Die” opens on Nov. 20. It is yet another sign that the U.S. box office won’t return to “normal” anytime soon.
A spokesperson for Disney declined to comment on this report.
Around 70% of U.S. cinemas have reopened, but many are having trouble attracting audiences. Compounding issues is the fact that major domestic markets such as New York City and Los Angeles are still closed. Theater owners hoped that Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” would usher in a return to moviegoing, but with so many major territories shuttered and consumers worried about coronavirus, the film has made a disappointing $29 million in North America after two weeks of release.
The sci-fi epic had found greater success at the international box office, where ticket sales have surpassed $177 million. But since the U.S. remains the biggest moviegoing market in the world, it is becoming increasingly difficult for studios to justify rolling out major blockbusters during the pandemic.
In any case, Disney’s live-action “Mulan” did little to instill confidence in the viability of movie theaters. The fantasy epic arrived below expectations in China, a market that the studio was counting on to deliver robust ticket sales. Though it opened at No. 1 on box office charts, it collected a muted $23 million during its initial weekend. “Mulan” had a hybrid release, skipping U.S. theaters to debut on Disney Plus for an extra $30. It’s unclear if “Soul” will be made available to Disney Plus subscribers free of charge or if users will need to pay a premium for access, as they did with “Mulan.” In the wake of the pandemic, Disney has moved numerous movies straight to its streaming platform, including “Hamilton,” “Artemis Fowl” and “The One and Only Ivan.”
“Black Widow” starring Scarlett Johansson, has been delayed multiple times since it was originally scheduled to debut in May. Disney has yet to figure out when “Black Widow” will open and what its move means for future Marvel releases, such as “Eternals,” “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” and “Thor: Love and Thunder.”
Matt Donnelly contributed to this report.