2020 will be the first year since 2009 with a new film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Black Widow, the first film of phase four of the MCU, was originally scheduled for a May 1, 2020 release that was pushed to November 6 in April. Now, it’s been delayed again, and will (hopefully) make it into theaters on May 7, 2021, about 22 months after Spider-Man: Far from Home closed out phase three.
This rescheduling is part of a larger shake-up of the Disney release calendar, one that includes new delays for three other Marvel titles.
Eternals will move from February 12 to November 5 of next year. Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will vacate the May 7 slot Black Widow is filling in favor of a July 9 release.
The other big film getting a new release date is Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story, which will be pushed nearly a year from December 18 of this year to December 10, 2021.
It’s all pretty bleak news for movie theaters, and it comes at an already pretty bleak time. Tenet, the film that many hoped would revive the flagging industry, has made just $36 million domestically after its release was delayed several times. Studios have elected to release new films directly to video-on-demand platforms, bypassing studios entirely and creating a lot of bad blood.
The Disney+ release of Mulan is the biggest example of this kind of move, but the studio doesn’t seem ready to do the same thing to an MCU film.
Instead, the studio is choosing to push things back and hope that the COVID-19 situation changes enough that people feel safe returning to an enclosed room full of breathing strangers soon.