For the past few months, Disney has been experimenting with a new content delivery option available from its streaming service, Disney+ Premier Access, which allows viewers to watch new releases the same day they arrive in theaters. However, there has been a backlash against the service from both theater owners and actors, leaving some fans wondering if the next big MCU release, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” will be a part of the program or not.
So far, Disney has released four films through Premier Access, including the most recent Marvel film, “Black Widow.” The new service got off the ground with “Raya and the Last Dragon” when the major animated movie went straight to Disney+ the same day it arrived in theaters — March 5, 2021. Unlike a similar program from Warner Bros. that premiered films such as “The Suicide Squad” on HBO Max the same day they arrived in theaters for no additional cost, viewers need to pay a whopping $29.99 to watch Premier Access movies.
The entire program has been controversial. Scarlett Johansson even sued Disney, claiming that Premier Access negatively impacted ticket sales and cost her millions in additional earnings tied to the film’s box office revenue. The program’s future is now in doubt, leaving Marvel fans wondering how they will see “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” Thankfully, a recent shareholder meeting offered an answer to that question, although it may not be the one everyone was hoping for.
Marvel’s Shang-Chi will not be offered on Disney+ Premier Access
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During a company quarterly earnings call on August 8, Disney CEO Bob Chapek said in no uncertain terms that “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” would debut exclusively in theaters, and would not be featured on Premier Access (via Deadline). That doesn’t mean it will be a typical, pre-pandemic release, though.
When “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” arrives in theaters, it will remain there exclusively for 45 days, half of the traditional 90-day theater exclusivity arrangement that was standard before COVID-19 became a reality. Chapek said he looked forward to the “interesting experiment,” which he hopes will deliver “another data point” as Disney seeks to find the best way to adapt to the continuing pandemic.
However, the film will face two new issues as it arrives in theaters exclusively. Disney’s CEO acknowledged that rising COVID cases could cause new challenges for theaters, and left open the possibility of reverting to the Disney+ Premier Access program for future Marvel releases. Chapek said that there is “nothing in stone” regarding future releases from Disney or Marvel Studios, which means that if “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” does poorly, fans might see another pivot in the franchise’s release strategy.