By Stephen Ippolito | March 22, 2020
The Coronavirus has had a massive impact on the film industry. Nearly all of the U.S.’s 40,000 theaters have been closed due to the pandemic. Studios have been forced to push back their releases. Marvel Studios’ Black Widow, has fallen victim to this. The film was set to launch the MCU’s Phase Four on May 1st, but now it’s unclear when the film will be released.
Because of the delays, some studios have decided to release their movies straight to VOD. Most of these films, like Disney’s Onward and Universal’s The Hunt, had already been released for at least a week. Speculation has begun on if Black Widow will follow this same path. Some are even wondering if Disney would forgo VOD and release it straight to Disney+. Well, not to be a buzzkill, but unfortunately, I cannot see this happening.
Going into 2020, Black Widow was one of the most anticipated movies of the year, if not the most. Coming off a year in which Marvel Studios saw three films, Captain Marvel, Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man: Far From Home (co-produced with Sony), gross over $1 Billion at the World Box Office, the Scarlett Johansson led film was expected to do the same. Surely Disney does not want to lose out on that kind of revenue, especially since they are reportedly losing $20 Million a day with their U.S. parks closed.
Disney has also spent a good amount of money marketing the movie. With two trailers released and a 30 second $5.6 Million Super Bowl spot, the studio has already spent tens of millions of dollars, if not in the hundreds. The house of mouse would not even come close to recouping any of that money if they were to release it on VOD or Disney+ first. Other than perhaps The Incredible Hulk, MCU films have never not turned a profit. Black Widow would undoubtedly join that list if it’s not released in the theaters first.
Yes, I know it would be the ultimate gift to fans if they released it on Disney+ right away. I understand that the entire Phase Four slate could potentially also be moved back. However, one thing I also know is that Disney is not a charity, it’s a business. Their number one job is to make money, not please Marvel fans, that’s secondary, even if that. By forgoing theater release, there’s no question Disney would take a big hit. But By delaying a few months, there quarterly earnings will fall, but their yearly profit and beyond would not. From a business perspective, delaying is the obvious solution.