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Disney gives up on releasing Black Widow exclusively in movie theaters

Disney is giving Black Widow one last delay — but this time, it's headed to streaming.

The studio announced Tuesday that Marvel's highly anticipated blockbuster Black Widow will hit both Disney+ and theaters simultaneously on July 9, after it was previously expected to debut only in theaters on May 7, according to Variety. Like with Mulan and Raya and the Last Dragon, the film will cost $30 to stream.

Disney also said it will release its Cruella de Vil movie Cruella on Disney+ for $30 at the same time that it hits theaters on May 28, while the next Pixar film Luca will debut on Disney+ for no additional cost and will no longer even be released in U.S. theaters.

This was a change of course for Disney, which previously had Black Widow slated for an exclusive theatrical debut, and the announcement came as a major blow to reopened theaters. After all, Black Widow looked set to be the first major movie of the summer blockbuster season — assuming one is even possible this year — and theaters hoped it could draw audiences back in significant numbers. Prior to the pandemic, Black Widow was expected to be one of the top grossing films of 2020.

But Disney is seeming to signal it doesn't believe moviegoing will return to the pre-pandemic normal in the immediate future, at least not to the degree that a traditional theatrical release for such a major blockbuster would be profitable, as theaters continue to operate at a limited capacity. Indeed, The Washington Post's Steven Zeitchik wrote, "it appears what Disney is doing is throwing in the towel on theaters before the fall." Just like with last year's initial round of movie delays, all eyes now turn to whether the studios behind other blockbusters like the ninth Fast & Furious, which is currently scheduled for an exclusive theatrical release in June, will do the same.