Disney has moved its next big Marvel Studios theatrical release, Black Widow, from November 6, 2020 to May 7, 2021.
The move was widely rumored and expected as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to play havoc with the theatrical exhibition business. There was even speculation that the Mouse House could premiere Black Widow on its Disney+ streaming platform, as it did this month with Mulan.
Black Widow’s shift also comes as part of a larger, major shake-up in Disney’s overall release schedule, with the company also moving other Marvel titles like Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Eternals, as well as releases such as Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story remake and Kenneth Branagh’s Death on the Nile.
The release of Christopher Nolan’s Tenet earlier this month, while fairly successful overseas (over $200 million), has been a slow-rolling disaster in North America. Heralded as the tentpole-style blockbuster that would lure audiences back to theaters in a big way, Nolan’s sci-fi thriller has earned just $36 million here in three weeks, indicating that while many theaters around the nation are now open (although operating at reduced capacity), audiences are still not coming back.
Those results have spooked execs at the studio backing Tenet, Warner Bros., which has since shifted the release of upcoming spectacles like Wonder Woman and Dune. That’s also when the talk began that Disney and the other major Hollywood players would begin moving their late 2020 releases around as well.
With Disney moving Black Widow and October’s Death on the Nile (which is now coming out in December), there are no crowdpleasers coming out until November 20, when the James Bond entry No Time to Die is still scheduled to arrive — unless that moves too.
Black Widow, which will fill in what late Avenger Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) was doing between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War (as well as some of her back history), was originally slated to come out last May and kick off Marvel’s Phase 4 sequence. While every theatrical Marvel release is now arriving in 2021 at the earliest, the Marvel Cinematic Universe will make its first original foray into the Disney+ space when WandaVision premieres there this November.
Other films on the Marvel slate include the aforementioned Shang-Chi and Eternals, as well as Thor: Love and Thunder, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Captain Marvel 2, Ant-Man 3 and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.