Disney's 2021 films to debut exclusively in cinemas

The company has experimented with different release strategies during the pandemic.

The remainder of Disney’s 2021 film releases will debut exclusively in cinemas, the entertainment giant has said.

Movies including Marvel’s Eternals, Sir Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel and Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story remake will all arrive in theatres for a 45-day window before being made available on digital platforms.

The move hands a boost to the beleaguered cinema industry, which has struggled to entice fans back inside amid fears over the more contagious Delta variant of Covid-19.

And it comes on the heels of the success of Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings – the first Marvel film to launch exclusively in theatres in more than two years.

The superhero movie has so far grossed more than 166 million dollars (£120 million) worldwide, one of the best pandemic-era performances at the box office.

In August, Disney CEO Bob Chapek described the 45-day cinema exclusive release of Shang-Chi as “an interesting experiment for us” – a comment criticised by Simu Liu, the film’s leading man.

The movie’s success appears to have influenced the studio’s theatrical strategy for the rest of the year.

Scarlett Johansson
Scarlett Johansson sued Disney over its release strategy for Black Widow, alleging it cost her earnings from box office receipts (Ian West/PA)

While Eternals, The Last Duel and West Side Story will all have a 45-day window, animated musical Encanto will play in theatres for 30 days upon its release in November, before arriving on the Disney+ streaming service.

Disney had been experimenting with simultaneous theatre and streaming releases for some of its biggest films during the pandemic, notably Marvel’s Black Widow and origins story Cruella.

The Black Widow strategy prompted a lawsuit from star Scarlett Johansson, who alleged the move cost her earnings from decreased box office receipts.

Disney issued a fiery response and the legal action remains ongoing.

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