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Disney delays Black Widow debut, adds streaming option in summer movie shuffle

Disney also said it would offer live-action movie Cruella for a fee to Disney+ customers on the same day it hits cinemas, which is scheduled for May 28, and that Pixar animated movie Luca would skip most theatres and debut to all Disney+ subscribers on Jun 18.

Disney delays Black Widow debut, adds streaming option in summer movie shuffle

This image released by Disney/Marvel Studios' shows Scarlett Johansson in a scene from Black Widow. (Photo: Marvel Studios/Disney via AP)

Walt Disney Co on Tuesday (Mar 23) delayed the worldwide release of Marvel Studios film Black Widow by two months until July and said it would offer the movie simultaneously in theatres and for a fee on the Disney+ streaming service.

US theatre operators had been hoping that Black Widow, starring Scarlett Johansson as the Russian-born spy-turned-superhero, would kick off a summer blockbuster season in early May and draw crowds back to theatres after extended closures due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Shares of AMC Entertainment, the world's largest cinema operator, slumped 16 per cent after the announcement.

Disney also said it would offer live-action movie Cruella for a fee to Disney+ customers on the same day it hits cinemas, which is scheduled for May 28, and that Pixar animated movie Luca would skip most theatres and debut to all Disney+ subscribers on Jun 18.

The Pixar film will play in theatres only in international markets that do not yet have access to Disney+. The service is available in much of the world but has just begun rolling out in Asia. It launched in Singapore on Feb 23.

Cruella and Black Widow will cost Disney+ customers an additional US$30 (S$40) each to stream at home.

"Today’s announcement reflects our focus on providing consumer choice and serving the evolving preferences of audiences," Kareem Daniel, chairman of Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution, said in a statement.

The company delayed a handful of other films, including Marvel film Shang Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings, which is now set to reach theatres on Sep 3 instead of Jul 9.

Movie theatre executives had been encouraged by recent cinema reopenings in Los Angeles and New York City, the two biggest moviegoing markets in the United States, and an increase in vaccinations across the country.

But Disney's changes are likely to dent box office sales during the summer as some moviegoers opt to watch Black Widow or Cruella at home, and in most cases will not have a chance to see the latest Pixar film in theatres.

READ: Disney+ celebrates Singapore launch with light shows, performances by JJ Lin and more

READ: All in the family: Vin Diesel’s 10-year-old son joins Fast & Furious 9

The next big-budget action movie on theatres' summer schedule is Fast & Furious movie F9, from Comcast Corp's Universal Pictures, on Jun 25.

The shifts are among several changes Hollywood studios have tested during the pandemic.

AT&T Inc's Warner Bros. is offering all of its 2021 theatrical films on the HBO Max streaming service on the same day.

On Tuesday, Cineworld Plc announced that Warner Bros had agreed to a more traditional release pattern in 2022 of showing movies only in theatres for a time, though the exclusive window will be shortened to as little as 31 days in Britain and 45 days in the United States.

(Source: Reuters)

Source: Reuters/sr

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