While Disney CEO Bob Chapek remains flexible about release strategies for movies between the big screen and the studio’s streaming service Disney+, he said today that Marvel’s long-awaited feature Black Widow is still set to be a pure theatrical release as mentioned back at the company’s December investor day.
However, “we’ll be watching to see the reopening of theaters and consumer sentiment in terms of going back to theater” said Chapek today on the studio’s FYQ1 earnings call. Black Widow is currently scheduled to kick off summer on May 7. Should the pandemic quell by then, and New York City and Los Angeles reopen movie theaters, the Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh feature will be the first tentpole to re-ignite exhibition. Fingers crossed.
Chapek was asked about the success of Soul in relation to Mulan, the difference between the strategies being the former Pixar movie went straight to the streaming service (with foreign theatrical distribution) on Christmas Day, while the latter was a premium Disney+ play in the states (with an offshore Asia release).
In regards to Soul, Chapek didn’t reveal any viewership figures, but merely said “we thought it was a nice thing to do for the consumers and subscriber base.”
As far as Mulan goes, Chapek says “it was successful to the extent that we’re also using that strategy on Raya and the Last Dragon.” Raya, which had a Super Bowl trailer on Sunday, is a bit different because it will be available on Disney+ for a premium rate in the states and theatrical. Mulan did not have a theatrical U.S. release, just offshore where it fizzled with $69.1M due to the Covid closure of theaters abroad. Raya debuts on March 5 in theaters and for the extra Disney+ premier price of $29.99.
Essentially, Disney will experiment with different release strategies as they try to hit certain data points. In addition says Chapek, whether a theatrical title goes on Disney+, “depends on our slate of titles and whether we need to put something on the service.”
Thanks to Soul and The Mandalorian season 2, Disney+ global subscribers hit 94.9 million in the quarter ending December 31.