And with that, the 2020 Blockbuster season is almost entirely gone.
Both films will now open a full year after their original release dates: Black Widow kicks off summer of 2021 on May 7, and West Side Story will compete in the 2021 awards season when it opens on December 10, 2021. (And incidentally, I’d argue that makes the 2020 Oscar race even more interesting, not less).
In a surprising stay, Disney announced that it is sticking to its November 20 release date of Pixar’s Soul.
With the Black Widow shift, the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe shifts along with it. However, in an intriguing move, the order of release has now changed.
Originally lined up as Black Widow / The Eternals / Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, the latter two will sequentially flip. Shang Chi will follow Black Widow on July 9, 2021, then The Eternals after that on November 5, 2021 (one full year after its original date).
This swap would seem to emphasize Marvel’s intention to make the next few MCU adventures largely stand-alone efforts as the brand slowly rebuilds toward Avengers 2.0.
These delays seem even less surprising in light of the recent debut trailer for WandaVision, the MCU Disney+ series starring the characters Scarlet Witch and Vision (Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany) that is expected to debut later this year. The concept looks very ambitious, and not one I could have ever predicted or dreamed of if I had been asked to guess what a series concept might look like for those two romantically-linked superheroes (and former villains). It’s legitimately intriguing, and should be more than enough to satiate MCU fans who’ve been starved for nearly 18 months of new content.
In addition to these moves, Disney also announced that Twentieth Century Studios’ Death On The Nile will bump from October 23 of this year to December 18, where West Side Story was originally perched. The Kenneth Branagh Poirot mystery sequel will go head-to-head with Warner Bros. Dune, assuming that film holds.
These announcements, while not surprising, are a veritable death blow to struggling theaters worldwide, and perhaps especially in the United States. With the James Bond thriller No Time To Die and Pixar’s Soul not scheduled to open until November 20, the best that theaters can hope for between now and the end of the year are four tentpoles (Bond, Soul, Dune, and Wonder Woman 1984) and one mid-range, older-skewing prestige piece (Death on the Nile). The rest will be smaller Awards Season indies.
In bullet point, here are the new release dates:
- Death on the Nile: December 18, 2020
- Black Widow: May 7, 2021
- Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings: July 9, 2021
- The Eternals: November 5, 2021
- Untitled Disney Event Film originally slated for July 9, 2021 is removed from schedule
- Untitled Twentieth Century Studios Event Film originally slated for August 13, 2021 is removed from schedule
- West Side Story: December 10, 2021