Disney Moves Black Widow, Cruella Day-and-Date, Pushes Luca Exclusively to Disney Plus

(l-r) Images courtesy Film Frame, ©Marvel Studios 2020 (Black Widow); © 2020 Disney/Pixar (Luca); Photo by Laurie Sparham. © 2021 Disney Enterprises Inc. (Cruella)

Disney’s latest round of scheduling updates to its distribution calendar comes with major ramifications for the movie theater industry’s recovery effort.

Marvel Studios’ Black Widow and Disney’s Cruella, previously slated for exclusive theatrical release on May 7 and May 28, respectively, will instead debut day-and-date in theaters and on Disney Plus—with Black Widow‘s release date shifting to Friday, July 9 and Cruella moving to Friday, May 28. As was the case with March release Raya and the Last Dragon, Black Widow and Cruella will debut on Disney Plus Premiere Access, meaning subscribers will have to pay a premium price to have access to them.

Pixar’s Luca, meanwhile, previously slated for a theatrical release on June 18, will go straight to Disney Plus with no premium charge on that same day. Disney’s Luca release strategy echoes that of their Thanksgiving release Soul, also from Pixar. In markets where Disney Plus is not available, Luca will get a theatrical run, though dates have not yet been specified.

“Today’s announcement reflects our focus on providing consumer choice and serving the evolving preferences of audiences.  By leveraging a flexible distribution strategy in a dynamic marketplace that is beginning to recover from the global pandemic, we will continue to employ the best options to deliver The Walt Disney Company’s unparalleled storytelling to fans and families around the world,” said Kareem Daniel, Chairman, Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution.

Other changes to upcoming Disney theatrical releases are:

  • Free Guy moves from May 21, 2021 to August 13, 2021
  • Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings moves from July 9, 2021 to September 3, 2021
  • The King’s Man moves from August 20, 2021 to December 22, 2021
  • Deep Water moves from August 13, to January 14, 2022
  • Death on the Nile moves from September 17, 2021 to February 11, 2022

With this current slate of changes, Disney remains consistent in their title-by-title approach to theatrical exclusivity. This represents a marked difference from studios Universal, Paramount, and, as of today, Warner Bros., which have made moves towards establishing a window that—though there are variations between studios—generally coalesce around the 30- to 45-day range.

(l-r) Images courtesy Film Frame, ©Marvel Studios 2020 (Black Widow); © 2020 Disney/Pixar (Luca); Photo by Laurie Sparham. © 2021 Disney Enterprises Inc. (Cruella)