Disney delays ‘Black Widow’, Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’

Jake Coyle

NEW YORK (AP) – The Walt Disney Co has further postponed its next mega-movies from Marvel, including Black Widow, while also postponing Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story a full year in the company’s latest recalibration due to the pandemic.

Ten of Disney’s top films shuffled release dates on Wednesday, uprooting several of the company’s major fall releases.

The Scarlett Johansson Marvel movie Black Widow, last set for November 6, heads to May 7 of next year.

Instead of opening next month, Kenneth Branagh’s murder mystery Death on the Nile moves to December 18.

That was the date set for West Side Story, but Spielberg’s musical will instead debut in December 2021.

Disney didn’t entirely abandon the season. The Pixar release Soul remains on the calendar for late November.

This image released by Disney/Marvel Studios’ shows Scarlett Johansson in a scene from ‘Black Widow’. PHOTO: AP

The Empty Man, a horror release from the former 20th Century Fox, is moving up from December to October 23.

But the delays of Disney’s upcoming blockbusters reinforce the growing exodus from 2020 among the blockbusters that hadn’t already uprooted to next year.

Following tepid ticket sales for Warner Bros’ Tenet in a United States (US) theatrical marketplace where about 30 per cent of cinemas remain closed, Warner Bros’ Wonder Woman 1984 moved from October to Christmas and Universal Pictures’ Candyman postponed to next year.

Given the interconnected nature of Marvel releases, the latest delay of Black Widow had a domino effect on other films. Destin Daniel Cretton’s Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, starring Simu Liu as the martial arts hero, is now slated for July 9, 2021, instead of May 7.

Chloé Zhao’s Eternals, with Angelina Jolie, Gemma Chan and Kumail Nanjiani, moves from February to November 5, 2021.

“Marvel made the right and responsible decision,” Nanjiani said on Twitter. “There’s a pandemic. Nothing is more important than health and lives. I can’t tell people to go to a movie theatre until I feel safe going to one.”

The Ben Affleck-Ana de Armas thriller Deep Water was also pushed from November until August next year.

Notably, Disney didn’t announce any films were pivoting to its streaming platform, Disney+. Since the pandemic began, the company’s Mulan, Hamilton and Artemis Fowl have gone direct to streaming, with Mulan made available for a USD30 premium purchase by subscribers.

Disney has declined to share digital grosses for Mulan, though the live-action remake has underperformed in theatres overseas.