Disney’s hybrid model has caused more than a little controversy, at least as it pertains to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Dwayne Johnson may have said it was important for audiences to have the opportunity to watch Jungle Cruise on Premier Access, but Scarlett Johansson ended up suing the Mouse House for breach of contract. And Simu Liu wasn’t happy with CEO Bob Chapek referring to Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings as an experiment.
Kevin Feige moved quickly to claim it was all a big misunderstanding, but it may have been somewhat telling that the architect of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was unwilling to confirm or deny whether or not Chloe Zhao’s Eternals will play exclusively in theaters, especially when Shang-Chi is tracking for the franchise’s lowest-ever opening weekend and the intergalactic epic is slated to arrive just nine weeks later.
With that in mind, we’re hearing from our sources—the same ones who told us Ben Kingsley would be returning as Trevor Slattery long before it was confirmed by Ben Kingsley’s attendance at the world premiere —that Disney could be considering more hybrid releases in the event of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings bombing at the box office, which is a scenario that definitely can’t be ruled out.
One silver lining is that the studio doesn’t have too many high profile projects slated to hit theaters before the end of 2021, with Eternals being joined by Walt Disney Animation’s Encanto as the only big budget blockbusters on the calendar.
However, Disney subsidiaries Searchlight Pictures and 20th Century Studios are also distributing biopic The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel, the animated Ron’s Gone Wrong, Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch, Guillermo del Toro’s Nightmare Alley, Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story, and Matthew Vaughn’s The King’s Man, so it’ll be an interesting situation to keep an eye on.