Why has Disney delayed all of its Marvel films in 2022 and 2023?

Sequels to 'Black Panther', 'Thor' and 'Doctor Strange' have all had their US release dates pushed back by a few months

Marvel Studios' BLACK PANTHER..Ayo (Florence Kasumba). Film Frame / Marvel Studios

Disney has overhauled its movie release schedule, delaying several films from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The schedule revision comes on the heels of the latest Marvel film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which is one of the top-performing films of the pandemic era, having taken almost $370 million at the global box office.

Films scheduled for 2022, including sequels to Black Panther, Thor and Doctor Strange, have all had their US release dates pushed back by a few months. Meanwhile, the follow-up to Captain Marvel will be released in 2023.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has been delayed from March 25 to May 6, Thor: Love and Thunder from May 6 to July 8, and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever from July 8 to November 11.

The Marvels, a sequel to Captain Marvel that was initially set to be released in November, has been moved to February 17, 2023. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, as a result, will open on July 28, 2023.

**FILE** In this undated promotional photo provided by Paramount Pictures, actor Harrison Ford comes face-to-face with a cobra in a scene from the first of four Indiana Jones adventure films, "Raiders of the Lost Ark."  (AP Photo/LucasFilms)

Disney also pushed back the release of the fifth instalment of the Indiana Jones franchise by almost a year. The Harrison Ford-starring project, which is yet to receive a title, was initially primed for July 29, 2022. The film will now be released on June 30, 2023.

Unnamed projects, including a live-action Disney film, a 20th Century Studios project and two Marvel features, have been removed from the 2023 line-up. Films billed for this year, including Eternals and Spider-Man: No Way Home, have not had their schedules changed.

The sequel to the James Cameron sci-fi epic Avatar is also still set for December 16, 2022, a surprising move given the numerous delays the film has already endured.

So why did Disney push back an entire arsenal of eagerly anticipated movies?

While part of the reason is because of the production setbacks caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, a domino effect is definitely at play here. To delay one film means to move them all, as concurrent releases may have a negative impact on box office numbers.

Disney is also rethinking its hybrid release strategy.

While films such as Mulan, Black Widow, Cruella and Raya and the Last Dragon were released on the company’s streaming service Disney+ on the same day they hit cinemas, coming films will only be available on the platform 45 days after the start of their theatrical runs.

Disney's hybrid strategy caused rifts between the company and its talents. Scarlett Johansson, a long-time actor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, initiated legal proceedings against Disney this summer alleging that the release of Black Widow ­on the Disney+ streaming service at the same time as in cinemas violated her contract. The dispute has since been reportedly settled.

Disney has still not made public its streaming plan for 2022. Whether the revised film schedule will also affect new Marvel TV offerings such as Loki and Hawkeye remains to be seen.

Updated: October 19th 2021, 11:50 AM