It’s been a tough year and a change for the theatrical window, that near-mystical arrangement between studios and theaters designed to prevent home video from (hypothetically) completely crushing the movie release and viewing industry. Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, Disney has tried to walk a middle line on the issue of movie releases in a world where there is nowhere to release movies: not quite the approach Universal’s “delay everything except a handful of VOD releases”, but also not the “Fuck it, everything is on air for free” approach used by Warner Bros. and HBO Max. Instead, Disney chose the path of compromise, dropping films like Soul directly on its Disney + service, while retaining larger versions (Mulan, Raya and the last dragon) behind a premium paywall designed to keep a semblance of “the theatrical experience is paramount!” decorum in place.
And while Mouse Place still holds some of its greatest movies, most notably Black Widow, scheduled for July 9, and Cruella, 28 May– to this hybrid strategy, it is also starting to temporarily schedule real films for real cinemas which will not have to share their opening day buzz with Disney +. Specifically, Deadline reports as Ryan Reynolds’ video game comedy Guy gratuit and Marvel martial arts film Shang-Chi will both receive full theatrical releases, without Disney + support. Who had a thud?
Admittedly, the two films are a little later than Cruella, Widowor July 30 Jungle cruise: Guy gratuit, about a video game NPC who starts battling abusive players, is slated for August 13, while Simu Liu’s Shang-Chi does not land until September 3. But it’s still the clearest sign of confidence in theaters the company has shown to date, from when it gave up last year on jumping its movies back in the timeline whenever it turned out. clear (again) this COVID was not going anywhere.