Black Widow Release Date Delay Imminent?

A new report suggests Disney is preparing to delay Black Widow for a second time, potentially taking the Marvel superhero movie out of 2020.

Florence Pugh and Scarlett Johansson in Black Widow
Photo: Marvel Studios

Is 2020 at all salvageable for major studio blockbusters? It’s appearing less likely after the recent disappointments surrounding Warner Brothers’ Tenet and Disney’s Mulan. And according to at least several anonymous sources talking to Deadline, it’s about to result in Marvel Studios’ hotly anticipated Black Widow being delayed yet again.

The report, which was filed Tuesday afternoon, states Disney executives are currently pondering a move of Black Widow off its current Nov. 6 release date, even though the studio has yet to settle on a new date. According to the trade, Black Widow could theoretically be moved to as soon as December… or it could be fully pushed to dates unknown in 2021. Disney has not responded to Den of Geek inquiries about the delay as of the time of writing.

Another delay for Marvel’s Black Widow may be inevitable given the current state of the movie industry. The film, which was previously slated to open on May 1, already moved out of its kickoff position for the summer movie season when the season was essentially cancelled by the coronavirus pandemic. While Disney elected to eventually move the superhero movie all the way to Nov. 6, displacing Marvel’s The Eternals and every other scheduled Marvel Studios superhero movie into 2022, the Mouse House was still hedging its bets on the hope that the pandemic would be under control by autumn.

While that is relatively true for some parts of the world, it is not so in the U.S., nor does it appear likely that the rampant rates of COVID-19 infection will trend significantly down in domestic markets by November. In fact, most of the biggest moviegoing markets in the U.S., including Los Angeles, New York City, and San Francisco, are keeping movie theaters indefinitely closed.

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Warners and director Christopher Nolan attempted to jumpstart an interest in moviegoing by releasing Tenet internationally at the end of August and in select U.S. locations on Sept. 3, but even under the constraints of socially distanced theaters keeping attendance down, its North American total of $29.5 million after two weekends in American theaters (and three in Canadian ones) is fairly dispiriting. Shortly after Tenet’s soft opening, WB moved its next blockbuster Wonder Woman 1984 from Oct. 2 to Christmas Day. It remains to be seen if theaters will be in better shape by then.

Disney conversely experimented with releasing a blockbuster in Mulan on its Disney+ streaming service at a high premium of $30. While we have no way to know the actual numbers generated by that PVOD rollout, the lack of cultural resonance the film has thus far generated in the U.S., as well as its subsequent box office disappointment in the Chinese market it was tailored for, likely leaves something to be desired by Disney. If Tenet proved audiences are a long way from feeling comfortable with returning to a movie theater, then Mulan showed a hybrid of a PVOD and theatrical rollout in select markets does not create the culture-penetrating excitement of a theatrical tentpole release… nor the international box office receipts.

For this reason, the future of when we see any number of highly priced blockbusters like Black Widow is seeming increasingly far off—even if that blockbuster is the follow-up to the highest-grossing movie of all-time. Indeed, Black Widow fills in the final hidden pieces to Natasha Romanoff’s storyline, which ended in Avengers: Endgame.

The film stars Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, as well as Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz, and David Harbour. The movie is directed by Cate Shortland. If it were delayed into 2021, there is every likelihood it could wind up on the weekend of Feb. 12, which is when Marvel’s The Eternals is currently slated to open.