Disney reportedly only has three weeks to decide whether or not Marvel’s upcoming Eternals will remain a theatrical exclusive or if it will receive a hybrid release. The upcoming film is directed by Academy Award winner Chloé Zhao and will introduce an entirely new group of heroes into the MCU, the second film from the franchise to do so this year after Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Still, a major question mark surrounding Eternals release, and much of the rest of the 2021 schedule, is whether or not it will face another delay or receive a hybrid release.
In July, Marvel kicked off their 2021 slate by releasing Black Widow in theaters and on Disney+ simultaneously. The move led Scarlett Johansson to sue Disney over loss of backend profits, a lawsuit that has prompted conversations in the industry around the ever-changing release landscape that has shifted during the pandemic. Still, reports indicate that Eternals‘ release is contingent on Shang-Chi‘s box office performance, making the upcoming weekend an all-important one for the future of Marvel’s slate.
Now, a new report from Yahoo indicates that Disney is still deciding what to do with Eternals – and they have about two to three weeks to make a decision. The studio is reportedly considering a hybrid release akin to Black Widow for the film and the report reaffirms that this decision could be contingent on Shang-Chi‘s box office performance.
Currently, Shang-Chi is tracking to break box office records this Labor Day weekend, but it’s unclear if that will be enough to shore up Disney’s confidence in an exclusive theatrical release for Eternals. Not only is the Delta variant continuing to spread around the US, causing moviegoers to be more cautious about going to the theater, but many major studios are beginning to delay their upcoming films or sell them off to streamers. Top Gun: Maverick was recently moved into 2022 and conflicting reports surfaced about whether or not Venom: Let There Be Carnage would stick with its October release date.
Disney also may have its own reasons for wanting to put Eternals on Disney+. Black Widow grossed a massive $125 million from the streamer, money that the studio doesn’t have to share with exhibitors. However, that movie had the advantage of featuring one of Marvel’s biggest names, making Eternals more of a question mark as it’s an untested property. Still, the sheer star power attached to the film should be enough to draw in a decent audience both in theaters and on Disney+ if the studio were to go that route.