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Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Sticking to Theaters-Only Release, According to Disney’s Bob Chapek

Simu Liu in Shang-Chi

As the COVID-19 pandemic worsens once again, at an alarming rate, with the new Delta variant of the virus, we’ve all been thrown into confusion as to how that will affect the entertainment industry. Apparently, for Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, set to release on the rapidly approaching date of September 3, the answer is … not at all. The movie is sticking to its movie theater exclusivity.

That news comes straight from Disney CEO Bob Chapek, who revealed it on the company’s most recent earnings call, according to io9. As for the reason behind the decision to release a movie exclusively in theaters when going to movie theaters is a terrible idea for many people, Chapek reportedly indicated that contractual obligations in distribution deals and logistical issues would make a change of plans impossible at this point, so there’s really no other option.

Marvel has already run into contractual issues with releasing movies on Disney+ at the same time as theaters, with Scarlett Johansson suing the company over how Black Widow’s streaming release will affect the portion of her pay set to come from box office earnings, but this sounds like they’re also worried about obligations to movie theaters. However, the movie is not entirely getting a normal “only in theaters” release, either. Shang-Chi will land on some form of home streaming after only 45 days in theaters—a much smaller theatrical window than movies generally got before the pandemic, though the industry had already been grappling with shortening that window and shaking things up due to the popularity of streaming services.

Whether that “interesting experiment,” as Chapek called it, is good news for movies, the movie theater industry, or the earning potential of Shang-Chi specifically remains to be seen, but it’s at least a bit of good news for anyone who’s looking forward to this movie but understandably doesn’t think it’s safe to go to a movie theater right now. There won’t be quite as long a wait to see the movie at home, even if you do miss the experience of seeing it and discussing with the first wave of viewers and have to spend the next 45 days dodging spoilers. (Sorry.)

Although, at this point, I’m not entirely convinced the movie is actually coming out on September 3, especially if it’s sticking to movie theaters only. Chapek didn’t say anything to indicate a delay, and keeping the September 3 date would certainly fit in with seemingly everyone consistently overestimating just how much we have moved past the need for strict pandemic safety measures, but I also wouldn’t exactly be surprised if we were suddenly hit with a new wave of movie delays.

(via io9, image: Marvel Entertainment)

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Dan Van Winkle (he) is an editor and manager who has been working in digital media since 2013, first at now-defunct Geekosystem (RIP), and then at The Mary Sue starting in 2014, specializing in gaming, science, and technology. Outside of his professional experience, he has been active in video game modding and development as a hobby for many years. He lives in North Carolina with Lisa Brown (his wife) and Liz Lemon (their dog), both of whom are the best, and you will regret challenging him at Smash Bros.