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Disney moves 'Black Widow' and more big titles to 2021 amid coronavirus concerns

By Ryan Faughnder, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

LOS ANGELES - In another setback for theaters, Walt Disney Co. has delayed the release of its highly anticipated Marvel Studios film "Black Widow" until next year, amid concerns about the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on moviegoing.

Burbank-based Disney on Wednesday said the Scarlett Johansson superhero blockbuster is now set to hit cinemas on May 7, 2021. It was previously set for Nov. 6, after an original release date of May 1 was delayed.

Disney also pushed back the launches for a host of other movies, including Kenneth Branagh's "Death on the Nile," Marvel's "Eternals," the Ben Affleck thriller "Deep Water" and Steven Spielberg's "West Side Story."

Of those titles only "Death on the Nile" is still scheduled to open this year, moving from October to Dec. 18. The lower-profile thriller "The Empty Man" actually moves up from a planned December opening to the Oct. 23 date vacated by "Nile."

The studio has left three other films in place on the 2020 schedule: the Pixar animation title "Soul" on Nov. 20, Searchlight's "Nomadland" on Dec. 4 and the Ryan Reynolds comedy "Free Guy" on Dec. 11.

"Black Widow's" retreat marks the latest major shuffle on Hollywood's release calendar since Warner Bros. opened Christopher Nolan's "Tenet" worldwide starting late last month. After the film's disappointing start in the U.S., Warner Bros. moved the premiere of "Wonder Woman 1984" from October to Christmas, leaving "Black Widow" as the next potential blockbuster.

 

Now that slot may be filled by United Artists' James Bond outing "No Time to Die," which remains scheduled to open Nov. 20.

Disney's decision was not surprising. Theaters remain closed in the two biggest U.S. markets, New York and Los Angeles. A rise in coronavirus cases in Europe has also given studios pause, and Latin America, another major region for Disney movies, remains hobbled by the pandemic.

In the U.S., about half of the moviegoing public is not ready to return to movie theaters right away, according to data firm NRG.

Here is the full list of release date changes Disney announced Wednesday:

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