Coronavirus Concerns Could Affect Marvel’s ‘Black Widow’ Release Date

The coronavirus has not only been a danger to public health but a danger to the bottom lines of movie studios. This past week, MGM delayed the release of the latest 007 feature  No Time to Die for seven months. Could the biggest franchise in Hollywood, the MCU, be next?

No announcement regarding the release of Black Widow has been made yet, with the movie still scheduled to open the summer movie season on May 1. However, fans are concerned the movie could meet the same fate as Bond, especially now that Austin’s SXSW festival has been canceled. 

Kevin Feige announces the Black Widow movie
Kevin Feige announces the Black Widow movie | Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney

James Bond moved to his old time slot

The virus, which has infected at least 100,000 people and killed more than 3,400 people, according to the World Health Organization, had already thrown a wrench in the release or production plans of a number of movies.

Disney postponed the release of Mulan in China where the story takes place, and where the outbreak started. The team making the seventh Mission: Impossible withdrew plans to shoot in Italy.

Even more so than some other movie franchises, James Bond depends on overseas dollars, so it was no great surprise when MGM announced this past week that the release of No Time to Die would be pushed back to November from April.

The studio’s statement said the decision was made “after careful consideration and thorough evaluation of the global theatrical marketplace.'” 

Ironically, this move may position the Bond movie to do even better than it had before. Ever since the release of Goldeneye in 1995, the Bond movies had always opened in November or December to very successful business.

However, if Black Widow were to be delayed, that would topple a lot of dominoes, including Marvel’s own. 

What are fans saying about Marvel?

Fans are definitely concerned on Reddit, with one writing, “Unfortunately, I think there’s a very high likelihood we’re looking at least a slight, and possibly a significant, delay. Also, this could be why we haven’t gotten even a whiff of news about a date for ticket pre-sales to start.” 

But another fan countered, “The reason we haven’t heard about Black Widow ticket sales is because Disney probably wants to wait until Mulan comes out before they start promoting Black Widow. I don’t think there will be any delays unless the coronavirus situation starts to get really bad.”

However, that comment was written before the cancellation of SXSW, the music/film festival in Austin that is not only a huge draw but is also a launchpad for smaller movies that might not otherwise get seen.

The impact of that cancellation is considerable. And with SXSW folding, could Marvel fold too?

What happens if ‘Black Widow’ moves because of the coronavirus? 

If Black Widow moves, it would create several after-effects. It would probably shuffle the release dates of other movies, with no other movie opening in wide release that weekend as it stands.

When Marvel opens a movie, the other studios get the heck out of the way. So whatever date Black Widow moves to would clear the decks for that weekend. 

Then there’s the matter of Marvel’s famous inter-connectivity. If Black Widow moves, does that mean The Eternals would have to move from its November slot? Or that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and WandaVision would have to move from their late 2020 debuts on Disney+? And would that in turn affect the future movies those shows are supposed to feed into, like Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness?

It all depends on how fast the disease spreads and how fast health organizations can get it under control. That story is turning out to be even more dramatic than anything in the Marvel movies.