This past week, Disney held its quarterly investors call, and during a Q&A session, Disney CEO Bob Chapek revealed more details on the release of the upcoming Marvel Studios film “Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings”, which will be coming exclusively to cinemas for 45 days from Friday 3rd September and why it couldn’t be released on Disney+ Premier Access.

On Shang-Chi, we think it’s actually going to be an interesting experiment for us because it’s got only a 45-day window for us. So the prospect of being able to take a Marvel title to service after going theatrical with 45 days will be yet another data point to inform our actions going forward on our titles. But once again, I’ll refer back to my previous answer. When we plan Shang-Chi that title was planned on being in a much more healthy theatrical environment.  And at this point, unfortunately, due to distribution agreements that we have and due to just the practicalities of last-minute changes, it wouldn’t be possible.

Over the past 18 months, most films haven’t been released normally, with Disney shifting some films like “Soul” and “Luca” directly to Disney+. In comparison, “Mulan” was sent to Disney+ Premier Access first.  And the last few releases, including “Black Widow” and “Jungle Cruise”, were released simultaneously on Disney+ Premier Access and in theatres.   Making every major release in some way an experiment.

However, Bob Chapek’s use of the term “interesting experiment” hasn’t gone down well to Simu Liu, who is playing Shang-Chi in the upcoming Marvel film.  Who said on social media:

We are not an experiment. We are the underdog; the underestimated. We are the ceiling-breakers. We are the celebration of culture and joy that will persevere after an embattled year. We are the surprise. I’m fired the f**k up to make history on September 3rd; JOIN US.


This movie has a lot riding on it. It’s the first major Marvel film to feature an Asian cast and is the first major debut of a new character for a while.

With so much effort going into making these films, it’s not surprising to see the cast and crew becoming upset over their film’s release being called an “experiment”, especially if they have taken Bob Chapek’s words out of content.  Since ultimately, Disney is trying something different to see if it works.  If it’s successful, other films will follow, but should it fail, Disney+ Premier Access will likely continue to be used as a way of giving consumers choices.

Originally, Disney had expected the pandemic to be in a much better situation when it announced “Shang-Chi” would be a 45-day theatrical exclusive, but sadly the situation has gone backwards rather than forward due to the Delta strain.

Under normal circumstances, a theatrical exclusive release wouldn’t be a big deal, but right now, it’s a risk, and Disney continue to run experiments with its film releases to see what works best.  Most film studios are doing similar things, but with the backlash to the Scarlett Johansson lawsuit and desire by many to go back to normal, film releases simply aren’t.

Right now, it does seem, that no matter, however, Disney release a movie, in theatres, on Disney+ Premier Access or directly on Disney+, someone isn’t happy.

What do you think?  Is Simu Liu right to be upset?

Roger Palmer

Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom. Email: Twitter: Facebook:

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