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Disney’s ‘Onward’ hits digital early – could ‘Black Widow’ be next?

Updated Mar 20th, 2020 4:02PM EDT
Black Widow Release Date
Image: Marvel

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Manufacturing, travel, restaurants, and entertainment are just a few industries that will take massive hits in the near future due to the coronavirus pandemic. Some of them can adapt to weather the storm. Restaurants can deliver food, and entertainment can move online. To that point, Universal announced earlier this week that several of its 2020 theatrical releases will be available online on the day they hit theaters, which is an interesting development for the movie business.

Most companies have delayed the premieres of their upcoming releases, and some theater chains have already closed, which means other films scheduled to launch during this period will have to find somewhere new to launch. Disney is apparently ready to do a bit of both, and it’ll be interesting to see what it means for one of its biggest films of the year, Marvel’s Black Widow, which was originally scheduled to launch on May 1st.

Black Widow is now indefinitely delayed, and many people are wondering whether the film could launch on Disney+ and other streaming services in the coming months, especially if the coronavirus lockdowns last much longer. The film is expected to make at least $1 billion at the box office, a figure that seems impossible to reach online. Disney+ isn’t widely available right now. Disney+ will launch in plenty of European markets next week, but Disney’s streaming service is far from matching Netflix’s worldwide availability.

That’s not to say that Disney can’t make it happen. The company made a surprise announcement on Friday about its newest Pixar release. Onward launched just weeks ago to great reviews, winning the box office with a total of $68 million. This was before a national emergency was declared in the US, and before other countries in Europe took similar measures to shut everything down and stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Onward will be available online on Movies Anywhere starting at 8:00 PM ET on March 20th, and will then hit Disney+ on April 3rd, less than a month after its theatrical release. You can pay $19.99 to own Onward on a variety of platforms starting tonight, which is in line with similar offers from Universal.

Disney’s announcement says the film will be available in the US, so it’s unclear whether international buyers will be able to purchase it ahead of the April 3rd launch on Disney+.

While Onward likely wouldn’t have matched Black Widow’s overall take at the box office, it’s still a Pixar film, and they usually do quite well in theaters. The Good Dinosaur, launched in 2015, made $332.2 million globally, and that’s Pixar’s lowest-performing animated feature to date.

With that in mind, Onward could prove to be a good test for Disney. Should lockdowns and quarantines stay in place for months to come, the studio might consider launching other movies online first. In addition to Black Widow, Disney also postponed The New Mutants and Mulan.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.