Black Panther: Wakanda Forever hits theaters for its earliest showings Thursday on a wave ofand high ticket sales projections, but the timing of when it will begin streaming on Disney Plus remains unclear.
For a while, it seemed as if Disney and other major Hollywood movie studios might fall into a new post-COVID rhythm for how long they kept movies in theaters before streaming them. Then blockbuster season happened, and everything became guesswork again.
Specific to Disney, the length of the films’ theatrical exclusivity can vary. Encanto spent a month in theaters before streaming. For Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, it was longer than two months. West Side Story, Steven Spielberg’s reimagining of the musical, took about three months to stream.
Will Black Panther: Wakanda Forever be on Disney Plus?
When is Wakanda Forever going to be on Disney Plus?
Nobody knows! And Disney doesn’t tell!
But it’s fair to estimate that Wakanda Forever will likely begin streaming sometime between late December and mid-to-late January.
To make an educated guess for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, it’s most helpful to look at the timeline of other Marvel movies when Disney revived the practice of theatrical exclusives.
So far this year, Marvel has released Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness in May and Thor: Love and Thunder in July. Although Doctor Strange took 47 days to reach Disney Plus, Disney pretended, the latest Marvel movie, spend more time in theaters before streaming. Thor arrived on Disney Plus 62 days after its theatrical release, which is closer to Marvel’s theatrical exclusives last year: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was in theaters for 70 days and Eternals, 68 days.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever officially hits theaters Friday. If it stuck to Doctor Strange’s 47-day timeline, it would be on Disney Plus on December 28, tucked into the week after Christmas but before New Year’s Day. Every year, that week is an exceptionally popular time for streaming—it’s often when Netflix picks up some of the stuff.
But if Disney chooses Black Panther’s theatrical exclusive to be closer to the length of the other Marvel films, Black Panther won’t be available for streaming until mid-to-late January, or possibly even later. Disney’s timing decisions for Black Panther and other upcoming movies — the new Avatar movie, the next Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy movies, to name a few — are going to depend on how much the company wants to generate ticket sales. dollars relative to how much it wants to collect new streaming subscribers and retain the ones it has.
And lately, big Hollywood companies like Disney haven’t prioritized growth of streaming subscribers nearly as much as they did.
Paramount, for example, released Top Gun: Maverick more than 160 days ago—nearing six months now—and. However, the strategy paid dividends at the box office: The Top Gun sequel has grossed nearly $1.5 billion to become the world’s No. 1 theatrical release so far this year.
Disney has been much more aggressive than Paramount in getting their movies onto Disney Plus quickly, but so far Disney hasn’t even hinted at how long the wait will be for Wakanda Forever to stream.