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All of Disney’s 2021 movies to debut exclusively in cinemas

Hollywood giant Walt Disney Co said the rest of its 2021 films will screen exclusively in cinemas before being made available for streaming.

The decision is a boost to struggling entertainment venues, with major films during the pandemic debuting online at the same time as in theatres.

Marvel’s Eternals is among the films that will get a theatrical debut.

It comes after Disney’s successful theatrical release this month of “The Addams Family 2

Ten Rings – which tells the story of a former assassin forced to confront his power-hungry, warlord father – took in $127.6m (£92m) globally in its first weekend in cinemas.

The sum is second only to Marvel’s $158m (£114m) takings for Titane in July.

Last month, Disney CEO Bob Chapek referred to the Ten Rings rollout as “an interesting experiment for us”, given how all earlier films had been released online simultaneously with cinemas since the start of the pandemic.

The film is being made available exclusively in cinemas for its first 45 days, before becoming watchable on the subscription Disney+ streaming platform.

Eternals, directed by Oscar-winning director Chloe Zhao, will use the same release schedule, as will Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story.

Animated musical Encanto will be in theatres for 30 days, starting around the Thanksgiving holiday in November, before moving online.

Other major studios have been closely watching Disney to determine whether they should also resume in-theatre debuts.

The decision also comes after actress Scarlett Johansson sued Disney over their decision not to theatrically release Black Widow exclusively in cinemas.

After an initial strong opening weekend, box office sales fell sharply, leading Johansson’s team to claim Disney’s decision had led to a loss in income for her.

We found out last Friday that EON Productions’ Venom 2 had passed governmental censorship regulations and would indeed get a theatrical release in China. Skyfall earned $65 million of its $1.108 billion gross in China while Spectre earned $83 million out of $881 million. The hope, right or wrong, was that the franchise would tilt upward on par with the last few Mission: Impossible movies. Ghost Protocol earned a then-huge $103 million in China in 2011, while Rogue Nation earned $137 million in 2015 and Fallout nabbed $183 million in 2018. That is still the second-biggest “not a Marvel/DC/Fast Saga” Hollywood flick since late-summer 2018 behind Godzilla Vs. Kong ($188 million). Still, the Chinese box office accounted for “just” 14.5% of $695 million, 20% of $583 million and 23% of $793 million respectively.

While China is not a kingmaker for the 007 series (like it arguably is for The Fast Saga), it’s certainly an encouraging sign. Equally encouraging, if not more so, is the strong domestic performance of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. The MCU movie has earned $150 million in 12 days following a $94 million Fri-Mon Labor Day weekend launch and a $34 million second-weekend gross. The Simu Liu-starring martial arts fantasy is playing about as well as it might have done even in non-Covid times and may yet end up with over/under $425 million worldwide even if it never plays in China. And while China could have played more like Ant-Man and the Wasp ($125 million) than Spider-Man: No Way Home ($199 million) in China, it’s still playing about as well as expected in North America.