The announcement reflects continued pandemic safety concerns, and signals that major Hollywood studios are still hedging their bets that audiences won’t be fully ready to return to theaters even as more people get vaccinated and Covid-19 restrictions begin to loosen.
While Cruella will keep its May 28th release date, Black Widow has been pushed from May 7th to July 9th; both will be available on Disney+ with “Premier Access,” which comes with a $30 rental fee. Disney and Pixar also plan to release their next offering, Luca, directly on Disney+ on June 18th.
“Today’s announcement reflects our focus on providing consumer choice and serving the evolving preferences of audiences,” Kareem Daniel, the chairman of Disney’s distribution wing, said in a statement. “By leveraging a flexible distribution strategy in a dynamic marketplace that is beginning to recover from the global pandemic, we will continue to employ the best options to deliver the Walt Disney Company’s unparalleled storytelling to fans and families around the world.”
As of right now, Disney appears to be a bit more optimistic about returning to normal theatrical releases by the end of the summer. It’s shifted several films around for the second half of 2021, including the Ryan Reynolds-starring Free Guy, which arrives August 13th; Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which was pushed to September 3rd; and The King’s Man, which will be released December 22nd. Disney’s early 2022 release schedule also boasts Deep Water for January 14th and Death on the Nile for February 11th.