Disney has re-arranged its movie release schedule as the prospects for movie theaters start to look up. According to a report by Variety, the new plan will still put the 101 Dalmations prequel Cruella on Disney+ on its scheduled date on May 28, but its theatrical release stands a better chance than previously thought. Meanwhile, a handful of other movies have been shuffled around.
Cruella will still play in theaters and stream on Disney+ on Friday, May 28, as previously announced. Disney has also confirmed that Cruella will now be a "Premier Access" title, meaning it will cost an additional $30 to rent it, on top of the subscription price. Other than that, Disney has changed the release dates and release schedules for several of its biggest movies of 2021. The biggest change might be Marvel Cinematic Universe's Black Widow, which has been pushed back to July 9, instead of its previous date on May 7. However, the movie will now premiere simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+.
Black Widow will also be a Premiere Access title, as Disney tries to make the most out of a dismal year for the movie industry. It will displace the next MCU movie, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which was previously scheduled for early July. Now, it has reportedly been scheduled for Friday, Sept. 3, for a theatrical release only. It is not expected to premiere early on any streaming services.
On the other end of the adjustment, spectrum is Disney-Pixar's Luca, which is now premiering on streaming only, not in theaters. It will hit Disney+ on June 18, with no Premier Access price tag. Disney executives have repeatedly said that the company is exploring its options with streaming-only releases, but has no intention of abandoning theaters altogether. Chairman of Disney Media and Entertainment distribution Kareem Daniel reiterated that sentiment on Wednesday, saying the rescheduling "reflects our focus on providing consumer choice and serving the evolving preferences of audiences."
"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," he added.
Cruella hits theaters and Disney+ on Friday, May 28. Black Widow follows in July, as the coronavirus vaccines are expected to make public spaces safe again.