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The Real Reason Why Eternals Will Reportedly Release Exclusively To Theaters

So far 2021 has been a wild year for Walt Disney Pictures and Marvel Studios. The pair came into the year with a handful of MCU streaming projects slated to hit Disney +, and four feature films set to hit the big screen. The first of those films was the long-overdue, and pandemic-delayed "Black Widow," which surprisingly received a day and date release on the streaming service. That decision might have played a part in the film underperforming on the theatrical front, which promptly led the Mouse House into a legal showdown with long-time Marvel star Scarlett Johansson over her back-end pay deal. 

Disney bosses have continued to experiment with the studio's release strategies amid ongoing pandemic concerns, giving "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings," their second Marvel release of 2021, a theatrical-only release. Said strategy has arguably bolstered Johansson's position as "Shang-Chi" shattered box office records in its Labor Day weekend debut despite ongoing public health and safety concerns, and has already pulled in more than $160 million in worldwide ticket sales. And according to industry insiders, the success of the fantastical martial-arts spectacular is likely to affect how Disney bosses release their next Marvel flick, Chloé Zhao's anxiously-anticipated "Eternals."

Shang Chi's box office success will likely lead to an exclusive theatrical launch for Eternals

It should be noted that, as of this writing, neither Disney, nor Marvel Studios have made any official statements regarding the November 2021 release strategy for "Eternals." As reported by IGN, the generally reliable industry insider Matthew Belloni claims in his most recent newsletter he's heard rumors that the overwhelming success of "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" is directly affecting how Disney C.E.O. Bob Chapek and Distribution Chief Kareem Daniels are eyeing the release of "Eternals." And according to Belloni, they've already decided "Eternals" will also release exclusively in theaters, as previously planned.

Of course, at the moment this is all conjecture. Disney and Marvel bosses have not released any official statement concerning plans to change the release of "Eternals." Still, with "Shang-Chi" proving moviegoers are ready to go back to theaters to enjoy their Marvel content, and "Eternals" fronting considerably more star-power in a sprawling ensemble that includes Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Kit Harrington, Richard Madden, Gemma Chan, and Kumail Nanjiani among others, it's hard to imagine Disney would opt to potentially hamstringing its box office potential with a simultaneous streaming release.

It obviously doesn't hurt that "Eternals" has a recently-minted Oscar winner occupying the director's chair in Chloé Zhao either. Star power aside, we'll just have to wait and see what Disney does with the release of "Eternals," but we should probably expect to hit the multiplex if we want to see it opening day — which is November 5, 2021 for those keeping track.