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‘Black Widow’ might debut online instead of in theaters

Published Mar 31st, 2020 3:55PM EDT
MCU Phase 4 Timeline
Image: Marvel
  • Black Widow is one of Disney’s biggest 2020 blockbusters, but the film’s release date has been postponed because of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
  • The film might launch on Disney+ launch instead of in theaters, a report claims.
  • It’s unclear how Disney would go about launching Black Widow online, given that Disney+ has yet to arrive in every major region.
  • Visit BGR’s homepage for more stories.

The novel coronavirus outbreak will significantly damage the worldwide economy. Millions of people lost their jobs in a matter of weeks as governments around the world instituted various social distancing measures. Commercial activity came to a halt in various countries where only hospitals, pharmacies, grocery stores, and essential services operate.

The entertainment business has taken a serious hit as well. Sporting events have been canceled, and cinemas were shut down in a global effort to flatten the curve. Even late night hosts are recording their shows from home, using iPhones as their cameras. While the internet can’t save the Olympics, it can certainly help movie studios launch some of their coming attractions online, even big blockbusters like Marvel’s Black Widow.

Rather than see if the virus subsides in the coming weeks, some studios have opted to postpone their movies to later this year or to 2021. The list includes Sony’s No Time to Die and Universal’s Fast 9. Other movies, however, will get an online release instead of a theatrical one, including some of Universal’s 2020 films. Disney pushed the online launch of Onward forward, but has postponed other releases, such as Black Widow.

Just a few short weeks ago, the concept of Black Widow being delayed seemed implausible. The movie is part of Marvel’s massive Phase 4, which includes no fewer than 14 titles. But social distancing didn’t just hit theaters. It also forced movie productions to pause their activity, including some of the MCU TV shows that were supposed to hit Disney+ this year. Postponing Black Widow won’t hurt the MCU Phase 4 timeline if everything else has to be delayed as well.

But YouTube host Grace Randolph said a few days ago that Disney is considering releasing Black Widow on streaming. Not only that, but Disney might do the same thing with the live-action Mulan remake:


Black Widow could have been another billion-dollar movie for Disney, with early projections saying the film was on track for a massive $130 million opening weekend. It’s unclear how Disney plans to profit from an online-only launch, or how much money it can make with online-only launches of some of its biggest 2020 blockbusters.

Also, it’s unclear how Disney would go about making the film available internationally. Disney+ is only available in the US, Canada, and a few European markets. On the other hand, nobody knows how long the theaters will be out of commission, and Disney might want to make some money off of its hottest properties as fast as possible. It’s not just the film delays that are hurting Disney’s bottom line right now — all of its revenue streams save for Disney+ are hurt. The parks are closed as well as retail shops that sell Disney merchandise, and the cruise line business is also halted.

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.