During a Q2 company earnings call on Thursday, Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Chapek announced that the upcoming Marvel film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings would open exclusively in movie theaters — but only for a 45-day window. That range also applies to 20th Century Fox’s Free Guy starring Ryan Reynolds.
The announcement is noteworthy for two reasons. For one, this is the first time Disney has announced that a pandemic-era movie would go exclusively to a theater without simultaneously premiering on Disney+, as has been the model for films like Raya and the Last Dragon, Cruella, Jungle Cruise, and Black Widow. For another, there’s traditionally been a 90-day exclusive theatrical window that studios have needed to adhere to before transitioning to streaming or home video. But with the way COVID-19 has changed the theater industry, that 90-day window seems like it could be a thing of the past.
The announcement is a hopeful optimistic sign that things are improving when it comes to movie releases, as theaters across the country open again and more people get vaccinated. But it also doesn’t mean that the hybrid model is completely over when it comes to movie releases. While Chapek noted that the decision to put both movies in theaters was a sign of increased confidence in moviegoing he also made it clear that things might be flexible as the world returns to something resembling a new normal.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings opens September 3 and Free Guy opens August 13.
What do you think of the new 45-day exclusivity window for theatrical releases, at least from Disney’s end? Let us know!