Home Business Disney says ‘Eternals,’ ‘West Side Story’ will be released to theaters only

Disney says ‘Eternals,’ ‘West Side Story’ will be released to theaters only

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(L-R) Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lauren Ridloff, Salma Hayek, Lia McHugh, Don Lee, Angelina Jolie, and Barry Keoghan of ‘The Eternals’ took part today in the Walt Disney Studios presentation at Disney’s D23 EXPO 2019 in Anaheim, Calif.

Jesse Grant | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

The rest of Disney’s 2021 slate will all arrive in theaters exclusively, the company said Friday.

For the first half of the year, Disney opted to make many of its new films available in cinemas and on Disney+ either for free or for a $30 fee. These decisions were made well before vaccination rates were on the rise and before the delta variant was running rampant in the U.S.

It has become clear, however, that the dual release has led to cannibalization of theater ticket sales.

With the success of the theatrical-only releases of 20th Century Studio’s “Free Guy” and Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” at the domestic box office, Disney appears confident that consumers are ready to return to cinemas and that the future of its blockbuster features is on the big screen.

With a box office haul of $75.5 million over Friday, Saturday and Sunday, “Shang-Chi” had the second-highest domestic debut since the pandemic began. Its total box-office haul for the four-day holiday weekend topped $90 million, nearly triple that of the previous Labor Day weekend record holder.

“Free Guy,” an original concept film, has garnered around $240 million globally since its Aug. 13 debut, the fifth highest worldwide haul of 2021.

Disney’s new animated feature “Encanto,” which is slated for release around Thanksgiving, will have a 30-day exclusive theatrical release before becoming available on Disney+ on Dec. 24.

“Eternals,” “The Last Duel,” “Ron’s Gone Wrong,” “West Side Story” and “The King’s Man” will all have a minimum 45 day exclusive theatrical release.

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” was not included in this list, but will likely also have an exclusive theatrical release. It is co-produced by Disney and Sony. Sony does not have its own streaming platform and has released all of its 2021 theatrical movies in cinemas exclusively.

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