Movie theaters are making a comeback. Disney has confirmed that some of their late Summer film releases will stick to at least a 45 day window in theaters before Disney+ adopts them for streaming. Among the first will be Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Five Rings and Free Guy, which will both premiere strictly in theaters for at least 45 days. The number of days is flexible, however, and it’s possible Disney decides to keep them in theaters for longer if they are doing well. In contrast, Disney’s upcoming films Cruella (May 28), Black Widow(July 9), and Jungle Cruise (July 30) will all have theater/Disney+ hybrid releases, meaning they will also be available to purchase on Disney+ for $29.99 on the day of release. This news comes to us from deadline.com.
Free Guy (August 13) and Shang-Chi(September 3) are the only Disney films currently announced for the 45 day theatrical release plan. If Disney+ continues to prove itself to be a viable movie premiere vessel, it’s possible that all future Disney films will follow this plan. On the other hand, if movie theaters return to their full strength, maybe the release plan will only be temporary. We will keep you updated if anything changes.
Other movie studios with similar 2021 plans are Warner Bros. and Paramount. Warner Bros. famously and controversially decided to release their entire 2021 slate in movie theaters and on HBO Max the same day of release. Godzilla vs. Kong and Mortal Kombat were the first to follow this plan, and they have both fared quite well at the box office in addition to drawing big numbers on the streaming service.
The company still plans to continue the current release plans. Paramount is executing a similar plan as Disney by releasing their films in theaters for exactly 45 days before moving them directly to their new streaming service Paramount+. A Quiet Place II (May 21) will be their first major film to test the release plan. It is interesting to see how different each major film studio has been with their plans. So far, there have no wrong answers.
Free Guy will star Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, Joe Keery, Lil Rel Howery, Utkarsh Ambudkar, and Taika Waititi. The film will follow a video game NPC (played by Ryan Reynolds) as he becomes self aware and learns he lives in a video game world. Ryan Reynolds has humorously discussed that it may be his favorite movie he has ever made, which is a pretty bold claim coming from the Deadpool star. It was originally supposed to premiere in theaters last July, but was significantly pushed back due to COVID-19. Free Guy will now officially release on August 13 only in theaters.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Five Rings will star Simu Liu as Shang-Chi, Awkwafina as Katy, Michelle Yeoh as Jiang Nan, Florian Munteanu as Razor Fist, Fala Chen as Jiang Li, Ronny Chieng as Jon Jon, and Tony Chiu-Wai Leung as Wenwu (presumably the Mandarin). Shang-Chi will historically mark the first major superhero film led by an all-Asian cast. It was originally supposed to release in February 2021, but Marvel Studios shifted their release schedules around after the pandemic. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Five Rings will officially release on September 3 only in theaters.