Disney’s own experiment is over, and the results are in. Disney is going back to theatres. Last month, Disney CEO Bob Chapek referred to Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings as:

“…an interesting experiment for us…”

This was because they had already released Mulan and Black Widow to PVOD streaming via Disney+, and let Luca, Raya And The Last Dragon and Soul mix up their release strategies across platforms and theatres.


Shang-Chi was a big test of theatres viability as a revenue stream this late into a pandemic that isn’t going anywhere, and theatres reopening. The results were good. A minor-tier character took in $127.6m (£92m) globally in its first weekend in cinemas. The sum is second only to Marvel’s $158m (£114m) takings for Black Widow in July.

Disney has clearly decided there is life in theatres, as they have announced that the rest of their 2021 slate is going exclusively to cinemas for 45 days.

Marvel’s Eternals, directed by Oscar-winning director Chloe Zhao, will use the same release schedule, as will Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story. The animated Encanto will get a 30-day exclusive window while the three Fox titles The Last Duel, The King’s Man and Ron’s Gone Wrong will also follow the 45-day strategy.


Guillermo del Toro’s thriller Nightmare Alley will now get a wider release than originally planned.

The 2022 schedule is also set for theatres including Disney’s live-action remake of The Little Mermaid which is set for a May 26th, 2023 opening. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Pixar will have two 2024 releases on March 1st and June 14th, while two live-action films will arrive in 2024 on March 22nd and July 5th. All of these are set for cinematic release.

This news will please the producers of No Time To Die, who were nervously watching Disney’s performance to gauge how Bond’s next adventure may fare against the box-office headwinds. That movie has been boosted by the news that it will be granted an opening in China.

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