For the moment, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will debut this September.
During the Disney Q3 earnings call, company CEO Bob Chapek said they are staying the course for the film — which includes a wide theatrical release on September 3rd with a debut on Disney+ forty-five days later. At the same time, though, he said, “We value flexibility and value being able to make last minute calls in response.” That means it is possible the film could still be delayed or join Black Widow as a Premium Access offering on the streaming service. Even if the film comes to theaters without a COVID-19 related delay, Chapek said the shorter theatrical window will be a “interesting experiment for us.”
The call comes in the wake of Sony making the choice to delay Venom: Let There Be Carnage from September to October. Though the film is not part of Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe, December’s Spider-Man: No Way Home (distributed by Sony) is — requiring a certain amount of coordination between the two studios.
Even without the need to coordinate MCU releases, Sony’s move could lead to another wave of tentpole films clearing out of September, as seen earlier in the pandemic with Black Widow‘s constant delays.
Shang-Chi, staring Simu Liu as the title character, intends to introduce a new part of the MCU and finally introduce the Ten Rings as teased in Iron Man. It is also the first “true” Phase 4 film. But like Black Widow, it is now in the prime position as Disney considers its distribution choices on, seemingly, an hourly basis.