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Marvel Studios’ final film of 2022 and Phase 4 is the MCU’s long-awaited sequel to the 2018 box office hit, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
Starring Letitia Wright, Danai Gurira, and Winston Duke, Black Panther 2 will show how T’Challa’s family and allies struggle to defend Wakanda and chart a new path in the wake of the hero’s death.
This particular plot is unique in that it mirrors what the actual cast and crew of Black Panther 2 had to do following the tragic passing of T’Challa’s Chadwick Boseman.
The fact that this sequel film exists, given the loss of its title star and having to contend with COVID-related challenges, is a huge achievement and hard-won victory.
However, it seems that Wakanda Forever has one more challenge to face thanks to a new international law concerning theatrical releases.
As reported by Le Film Francais via Booska-P, Disney is considering canceling Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s theatrical release in France.
This is due to a French law requiring theatrically-released films to wait 17 months before releasing on a subscription-based streaming platform.
Currently, none of the MCU movies from Phase 4 have made it onto the streaming service in France, likely because of the rule.
The window to release on a streamer for an additional charge, such as in the case of Disney+ Premier Access, is 4 months.
It is understood that the purpose of this wide window is to allow free-to-air channels to broadcast programming first.
In regard to France’s law, Disney issued the following statement which has been transcribed:
“The media timeline forces us to evaluate our theatrical releases film by film. We have not yet made a decision on the release of Black Panther.”
This isn’t the first time Disney addressed this particular legislation, and the company has already shown that it will cancel a theatrical release as a result.
Back in June, Disney announced that the upcoming animated film, Strange World, would not receive a theatrical release in France but would go straight to Disney+.
While audiences are growing accustomed to shorter theatrical release windows and direct-to-streaming debuts, France is only one instance of opposition to these industry changes.
Reportedly, those at Pixar have been frustrated with Disney forgoing theatrical releases for its films in favor of Disney+, and theater chains, in general, have expressed concern over the shift.
It’s also worth noting that Strange Worlds was expected to release in France on November 23 while Black Panther 2 is set to release in the U.K. on November 11 and in Italy on November 9.
Given the fact that Disney has yet to make a decision for a film that was set to debut ahead of Strange Worlds, it would seem that the Black Panther decision is a difficult one for Disney and/or a potential means of strategy.
After all, Disney and Marvel Studios won’t be the only players struggling with this particular regulation. If Disney chooses to send Wakanda Forever to streaming, French cinemas and their employees will suffer as well.
As to whether they will blame Disney or the French legislation, however, is unknown.
As Black Panther 2’s release date approaches, Disney’s decision is bound to be made in the next few weeks.
And, as theaters and studios enjoy post-pandemic box office success, it’s unlikely that this is the last time Disney is forced to confront the issue of release windows and its own direct-to-consumer streamer.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is set to release in U.S. theaters on November 11.