The coronavirus outbreak is taking a serious hit to the North American economy. Most non-essential businesses in the United States and Canada, including movie theaters, have been closed in an effort to flatten the coronavirus curve. Residents of some of the most populated states, including California and New York, are ordered to stay at home. Movie theaters are expected to be closed for at least another six to twelve weeks.
Soon after California announced its shelter in place order two weeks ago, many major Hollywood studios announced that they will be postponing the releases of their films. Disney’s Mulan and Black Widow, the former originally scheduled to be released in March and the latter in May, have both been postponed indefinitely. Warner Bros’ Wonder Woman 1984, originally scheduled to be released in June 2020, has been pushed back to August 2020.
Disney has yet to announce the postponed release dates of Mulan and Black Widow, but industry insiders are saying that the Mickey Mouse company is considering to release both films on demand (VOD).
On March 28th, Grace Randolph, co-creator of the YouTube channel Beyond the Trailer, tweeted to her followers that Disney executives are considering to release both films on demand, but she did not specify whether or not Disney will be releasing it on its own streaming platform, Disney+.
Describing the news as “developing”, Randolph wrote, “So I did some digging with all the chatter today, and apparently Disney IS considering releasing not just Black Widow, but also Mulan straight to streaming. Price points, purchase [versus] rental, when to DisneyPlus all still up in the air.”
Randolph added that movie theaters across the country may not open until the fall, so releasing it on demand is financially sound.
Film critics and the media are divided over this piece of news, with some arguing that a blockbuster film like Black Widow, which was produced at a budget of over US$150 million, is too expensive to be released on demand.
“Black Widow may not even recoup costs let alone stand a chance at accruing the many hundreds of millions in international box office to which Marvel Cinematic Universe films are accustomed,” wrote Rita Dorsch from CBR.com. “No movie is yet to charge Pay-Per-View level premiums for VOD, and Marvel probably doesn’t want to be the first to make that gamble, at least not with Black Widow.”
The fans of Black Widow also agree. Many have expressed that they rather watch the films in theaters than at home. “Imagine we wait 10 years for her movie and it’s straight to DVD,” wrote one Twitter user. “I will fight them.” Another Twitter user said, “No way Disney can throw away their $1 billion box office movies into streaming. They should know the moment they drop on net they’ll [be] pirated [and] floating around all torrent sites.”
Some fans, however, said that they’re not surprised Disney is considering the option. With the closing of Disney’s amusement parks and the lack of revenue coming from movie theaters, Disney will have to come up with a solution ASAP to make up operation losses.
Shortly after the nationwide closing of North American movie theaters, China announced its plans to gradually reopen over 600 movie theaters across the country due to the slowing of the COVID-19 spread. On March 27th, movie theaters were ordered to shut down again amidst fears of a second outbreak.
This article is written by Addy for JayneStars.com.