As we were just celebrating the fact that the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) finally seemed to be gearing back into action, the inevitable has happened. Disney has announced a slew of release date changes today, and the biggest one is Black Widow getting pushed from its Nov. 6 spot to May 7, 2021. That date is when Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was scheduled to land, so it has subsequently been moved to July 9, 2021. That’s not the biggest delay, however. Eternals is suffering a nine-month delay, moving from its Feb. 12 release date (now occupied by The King’s Man) to Nov. 5, 2021.
This delay has been in the making for a good while now since Tenet tested the U.S. blockbuster waters and came up lacking. That’s scared multiple studios out of the year-end time frame, and Disney was pretty much the last big one to fall. The studio had barely been marketing Black Widow and the film’s stars were hardly out promoting, so this delay was clearly in the works for a while.
Interestingly, Pixar’s Soul and 20th Century Studios’ Free Guy have not been moved from their Nov. 20 and Dec. 11 release dates. There was word that Soul may make the jump to Disney+ as Mulan did, but it appears that Disney is content to let these two films drop in theaters as more tests for the market. The loss of Black Widow is a major blow to theater companies across America that are desperate for big films to draw audiences back in, but Soul and Free Guy, alongside No Time to Die, could at least tie them over a bit.
These delays aren’t all up to Tenet‘s poor performance in the U.S. Production on a host of MCU properties has been held up by the pandemic, and since everything is interconnected it means that Disney has to be careful about what they release when. Eternals, for instance, was done shooting and could have made its original release date, but it’s possible that production delays on other Marvel projects, coupled with a glut of other films now landing early in the year, forced the delay.