Disney Shifted Its Theatrical Release Strategy. Here’s What It Means

Screenshot from Eternals
Screenshot from "Marvel Studios’ Eternals | Official Teaser" via Marvel Entertainment/YouTube

2021 has been a rocky year for theaters, and Disney tried to bypass this problem by simultaneously releasing their projects in theaters and through Disney+. They’re ready to change their theatrical strategy, but what can be expected from their latest change?

Bigger Theatrical Windows

Instead of being released simultaneously on Disney+, many of the studio’s upcoming movies will get a 45-day exclusive run in cinemas. This shift will apply to Marvel’s Eternals (November 5), and 20th Century Studios projects The Last Duel (October 15), Ron’s Gone Wrong (October 22), West Side Story (December 10), and The King’s Man (December 22). Disney’s animated feature Encanto will get a 30-day exclusive theatrical window on November 24 before heading to Disney+.

Reasons Behind the Big Shift

According to Kareem Daniel, the chairman of Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution, they decided to update their theatrical plans due to “the tremendous box office success of [their] summer films” and expressed hope that the confidence in movie-going will continue to improve.

Daniel didn’t name any films in particular, but one of the movies she’s obviously referring to is Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. This superhero flick shattered Labor Day records in the middle of the pandemic, but Black Widow, Cruella, and Free Guy also had a strong showing in the theaters.