Simultaneously releasing movies on Disney + with Premium Access and in theaters that could afford it was the main measure of the House of the Mouse to combat the ravages of the pandemic, and stop postponing its releases. Mulan inaugurated this trend to the discomfort of exhibitors, and since then the model has remained inflexible with some exceptions that another (such as Pixar films, which have reached the streaming platform for free without going through theaters). At one point, however, the studio decided that Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings would have an exclusive premiere by mainstream media. Old fashioned.
The decision was motivated by the symptoms of improvement in the world situation, with the distribution of vaccines appeasing the virus … but in recent weeks this situation has worsened significantly. The Delta variant of the coronavirus is once again increasing the rate of infections and hospitalizations, to the point that in Hollywood there are already a couple of studios that have postponed their premieres again. They are (for the moment) Paramount with Clifford, the big red dog and Sony with Venom: There will be slaughter , but apparently Disney cannot do the same with Shang-Chi, which is scheduled to hit theaters this September 3 .
The film featuring Marvel’s first Asian protagonist was intended to spearhead Disney’s return to normal distribution channels, gradually moving away from Premium Access to maintain a 45-day window before streaming . And according to IndieWire , it definitely will be, but not because the executives of the House of the Mouse are very convinced of it. A few hours after the delay of Venom 2 became known , a meeting of Bob Chapek with his executives showed that the CEO of Disney regretted that Shang-Chi was going to be released exclusively in theaters under these circumstances.
If he had to make the decision now, Shang-Chi would probably have joined previous releases such as Jungle Cruise and Black Widow in signing up for the hybrid model, due to this “unfortunate” resurgence of COVID-19 that no one had seen coming. But it is no longer possible to back down or postpone the premiere, as it is not possible to do it with the other Disney film that came to raise a possible return to normality: Free Guy , an acquisition of Fox that the major premieres this August 20 .
“We believe that Shang-Chi will be an interesting experiment for us, but the title was scheduled to debut in a healthier environment,” Chapek said sadly. The proceeds from Shang-Chi could, therefore, affect Disney’s confidence in theaters and reaffirm the hybrid model as the best solution, also having as a precedent the disappointing reception at the box office of The Suicide Squad . Chapek, however, insists that each case will be studied individually, without having to advance a trend or motivate the rest of Marvel premieres to be affected.
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