Shang-Chi will be getting a Disney Plus release – but Marvel fans shouldn’t expect it to arrive in the next few weeks.
The latest MCU movie, which has dominated the box office during its opening weekend, is expected to land on Disney’s streaming platform at some point.
However, if you want to watch Shang-Chi in the comfort of your own home, you’ll have a six-week wait on your hands. That’s because Shang-Chi has a 45-day exclusive theatrical window – something we reported on in August – so it won’t be available to view on Disney Plus until mid-October.
Speaking during the company’s Q3 earnings call last month, Disney CEO Bob Chapek revealed that Shang-Chi would only arrive in theaters on its September 3 launch date. Collider reported from that earnings call, though, that it would only be 45 days until it was available at home in some form. “We think it’s actually going to be an interesting experiment for us,” said Chapek, “because it only has a 45-day window for us [before it heads to streaming.]”
This approach differed from Black Widow, which launched simultaneously on Disney Plus and in theaters on July 9. The move has proven to be controversial since, though, with Scarlett Johansson suing Disney for an alleged breach of contract.
If you’re waiting to watch Shang-Chi on Disney Plus, you’ll have another month and a half before you can do so. Taking the film’s September 3 release into account, Shang-Chi shouldn’t arrive on the streaming giant until October 18. Given that this date is a Monday, though, we suspect that Disney may bring it forward to October 15 so MCU fans can view it over the following weekend.
We wouldn’t expect Shang-Chi to be a Premier Access release – but Disney hasn’t elaborated either way on its specific plans for the movie’s release on the streamer. For now, you’ll have to see it in theaters.
Analysis: Shang-Chi’s box office performance should bring an end to Disney’s in-flux release strategy
It’s unsurprising why the likes of Disney and Warner Bros. have experimented with day-and-date movie releases. With the Covid-19 pandemic continuing to disrupt the film industry, it makes sense that studios have provided audiences with choices regarding how they watch new movies.
Despite Covid-19 Delta variant cases climbing worldwide, though, Disney opted to release Shang-Chi exclusively in theaters – and they’ve been justified in that decision.
Per Deadline, Shang-Chi has currently amassed $127.6 million at the global box office. With the US celebrating the four-day Labor Day weekend, the Marvel movie is tracking to end with a total of $139.7 million by Monday’s end.
Breaking those numbers down further reveals that Shang-Chi has shattered a number of records, too. The MCU flick has made box office history with its $71.4 million domestic haul (a new Labor Day weekend record), as well as posting the highest UK opening weekend during the pandemic era with a $7.7 million taking.
Add in Shang-Chi having the best September industry opening weekend in Hong Kong, and Marvel’s first Asian superhero-led movie is more than holding its own.
Disney, then, should pay attention to Shang-Chi’s box office success when it comes to making a firm decision on how it releases Marvel movies moving forward.
Of course, the studio’s interchangeable release strategy is still somewhat skewed. Despite releasing simultaneously in cinemas and on Disney Plus, Black Widow pulled in more money than Shang-Chi did during its opening weekend.
Johansson’s final outing as Natasha Romanoff, though, will have been helped by the character’s popularity. Black Widow has been a pillar of the MCU for over 10 years, so fans were expected to flock to see her belated solo movie. Black Widow’s July release also came when Delta variant cases were lower, too, which will have aided the film’s theatrical performance.
So Disney has a decision to make over its release strategy. Yes, that would be a disappointment to some fans, who would feel safer watching new MCU movies at home, if they forgo dual Disney Plus and theatrical launches. But Marvel films are made to be seen on the big screen – seeing them with friends and family beats watching them on a laptop or TV at home.
Disney is likely to remain flexible for the time being. Covid-19 cases could rapidly rise again, so it’ll want to be adaptable enough to any such changes.
In order to stave off customer confusion about when and where fans can catch future Marvel movies, though, Disney needs to settle on a permanent blueprint – regardless of which one it chooses.