After Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings earned nearly $100 million on its opening weekend as the first Marvel film of 2021 to solely be released in theaters, it’s clear that Disney has noticed the perks of a theatrical release. Disney announced that its remaining movies to be released this year will be shown exclusively in theaters, per CNN.
“As confidence in moviegoing continues to improve, we look forward to entertaining audiences in theaters, while maintaining the flexibility to give our Disney+ subscribers the gift of Encanto this holiday season,” says Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution Chairman Kareem Daniel in a statement.
Encanto, that’s set to come out on November 24, will get a 30-day exclusive theatrical release before heading to Disney+. Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story remake, The Last Duel, Ron’s Gone Wrong, Kingsman prequel The King’s Man, and Marvel Studios’ Eternals, will all be in theaters exclusively for 45 days before heading to the streamer.
Eternals is the biggest Marvel Studios flick of the year, and fans’ reactions to the film, in part, determine how much Marvel will focus on these characters’ stories—so maybe Disney believes a hybrid release would be too big of a gamble right now. But while we get that Disney is likely trying to avoid another Black Widow situation, it’s still a questionable move to set all releases to be theatrical only while COVID is still going strong, with the Delta variant spreading rapidly globally. There was a brief period where it was safe to go to theaters while fully vaccinated and taking proper precautions, but it seems those glory days only lasted a few weeks. Who knows, though. If we’re lucky and people do their part to make sure the Delta variant doesn’t get out of control, we could go back to “normalcy” of enjoying MCU movies with strangers before the year ends.