Disney Attributes Black Widow's Same-Day Streaming Release To Box Office Hesitancy

Vaccines are rolling out faster than ever, but theaters aren't filling up just yet.

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You know the old saying--which came first, the movie theater, or the audience? That's the conundrum that studios like Disney are experiencing in our post-pandemic world, and Disney CEO Bob Chapek addressed that question in an interview at JP Morgan's Technology, Media, and Communications conference this week, via The Hollywood Reporter.

"As we have seen with the domestic box office, and to some extent the international box office, we are seeing some hesitancy to return that wouldn't look anything like normal in 2019," Chapek said. This led to the company's decision to release the upcoming Marvel Studios film Black Widow to both theaters and streaming this July.

"We didn't want to delay Black Widow again but we couldn't put all our eggs in the theatrical distribution basket," he said. Just like that line from Field of Dreams, "if you build it, they will come," Chapek says that Disney "needed to prime the pump" with big movies.

Disney's next Marvel Studios film, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and Ryan Reynolds' Free Guy, meanwhile, are currently set to head exclusively to theaters.

"That is later in the summer when we hope...that the theatrical marketplace will recover more fully, and that type of distribution makes sense," Chapek said. "At some point, you have to step off the dock and onto the boat."

Chapek addressed a number of other topics in the interview, as well, from how theme parks and streaming services might synergize to the company's response to the WarnerMedia-Discovery merger.

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