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Black Widow and Cruella will now debut in theaters and on Disney+ premium

By Josh Weiss

Disney attempted to outlast the coronavirus pandemic, but the latter has a real nasty habit of sticking around. The Mouse House was the first to blink today, announcing that it will provide dual theatrical and streaming rollouts for Black Widow and Cruella.

Both features will be available to watch in theaters or on Disney+ when they're released on July 9 and May 28, respectively. As with Mulan and Raya and the Last Dragon, streaming subscribers will have to shell out a "Premier Access" fee of $29.99 if they want to check out the films at home. Lastly, Pixar's next original effort — the Italian Riviera-set Luca — has decided to skip theaters in the U.S. for an exclusive Disney+ rollout on June 18.

“Today’s announcement reflects our focus on providing consumer choice and serving the evolving preferences of audiences. By leveraging a flexible distribution strategy in a dynamic marketplace that is beginning to recover from the global pandemic, we will continue to employ the best options to deliver The Walt Disney Company’s unparalleled storytelling to fans and families around the world,” Kareem Daniel, Chairman, Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution, said in a statement.

Helmed by Australian filmmaker Cate Shortland, Black Widow will make history as the first Marvel Studios feature to receive a digital release. The film, which takes place between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, was originally supposed to kick off Phase 4 last May (a responsibility that ended up falling to WandaVision). Once it became clear that the global health crisis was only worsening and theaters would remained closed for most of the summer, the movie was then delayed to November 2020 before being ultimately pushed to May of this year.

Disney CEO Bob Chapek recently said that a final decision surrounding Black Widow's release would be a "last minute" call situation. Just last month, the company reiterated its commitment to an exclusive theatrical debut for the Scarlett Johansson-led outing.

Cruella, which only dropped its first trailer last month, was initially set for release on May 28. Directed by Craig Gillespie (I, Tonya), the project serves as an origin story for Cruella de Vil (played as young woman by Emma Stone), who honed her stylish and conniving ways amid London's hip fashion scene, circa the 1970s.

Lastly, there's Luca, an animted romp about two sea monsters (voiced by Jacob Tremblay and Jack Dylan Grazer) enjoying a summer vacation in sun-soaked Italy. Enrico Casarosa, who won an Oscar in 2011 for his Pixar short "La Luna," directed.

In addition to the above-mentioned shifts to streaming, Disney also engaged in another round of release date musical chairs with Free Guy (from May 21 to Aug. 13); Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (from July 9 to Sep. 3 — about a month before Eternals); The King’s Man (from March 12 to Dec. 22); Deep Water (from Aug. 13 to Jan. 14, 2022); and Death on the Nile (from Sep. 17 to Feb. 11, 2022).