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Black Widow, the 24th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, starring Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow alongside Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz, and others, is being released by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures (under the Marvel Studios label) on Friday, July 9, 2021 (with some early theatrical screenings on Thursday, July 8).
In Canada, Black Widow will be initially released both in theatres – where permitted to open, which as of July 7 includes indoor cinemas in all provinces except Ontario (where theatres will reopen on July 16) and Manitoba – and as a Premier Access release on the Disney+ streaming service, which requires an extra $34.99 fee on top of a Disney+ subscription (which is $11.99 per month or $119.99 per year).
If you're willing to wait a bit, you may be able to watch it at a lower price, as we'll explain below.
Where can I see "Black Widow" in theatres?
As noted above, as COVID-19 cases have dropped and vaccinations have increased across Canada, indoor cinemas – including locations of the Cineplex, Landmark, and Guzzo circuits – have re-opened in most Canadian provinces, though in some cases the kinds of capacity restrictions that were in place last summer have been maintained.
The two exceptions where theatres remain closed are the largest province of Ontario, where the provincial government is expected to allow indoor cinemas to reopen in Phase 3 of its reopening plan (now scheduled to come into effect on Friday, July 16), and Manitoba, with the government of that province currently indicating that existing measures will stay in effect until Monday, August 2.
However, drive-in theatres are open in Ontario, and we've confirmed that many such theatres will be playing Black Widow starting on July 9, including those in the Premier Theatres chain which has locations around the wider Greater Toronto Area including in Newmarket (Stardust), Oakville (the 5 Drive-In), Hamilton (Starlite), and Barrie (Sunset).
If you're in the Ottawa area, you now have the option of crossing the Quebec border to drive to a indoor cinema like the StarCité Gatineau. But until July 16, that's about it in terms of out-of-home options for Ontarians.
Can I watch "Black Widow" at home in Canada?
Yes, but be prepared to pay a premium price for the privilege, unless you're willing to wait a few months after the theatrical release.
Over the past year, most studios have offered "Home Premiere" premium video-on-demand (PVOD) rentals alongside (or shortly after) theatrical releases. These rentals have generally been available for a flat fee, typically about $25 or rarely $30, on services like iTunes, Google Play, and cable video-on-demand.
However, The Walt Disney Company, the parent company of Marvel, has gone its own way with Disney+ Premier Access. This requires both a subscription to the Disney+ streaming service – currently $11.99 per month or $119.99 per year – plus an additional one-time fee of $34.99 specifically to watch Black Widow. (All prices in this post are in Canadian dollars, and are before applicable sales taxes.)
There is, however, an important distinction from other PVOD rentals, which usually expire 48 hours after you first press "play". With the Premier Access fee paid, you can watch Black Widow as many times as you'd like from home, as long as you stay subscribed to Disney+.
That said, the movie will become available to all Disney+ subscribers on October 6 (and, as far as we know, will remain there indefinitely), so having paid for Premier Access will essentially become meaningless at that point.
Are there any options that don't involve Disney+?
If you are willing to wait a month or two, we expect that PVOD-style rentals will be available through other digital retailers in the months to come. For example, as of July 7, Cruella – which was released on Disney+ Premier Access on May 28 – has already been made available to purchase for $39.99 on the Cineplex Store.
Earlier Premier Access releases like Mulan and Raya and the Last Dragon were also made available to purchase through retailers like the Apple TV / iTunes Store and cable on-demand providers like Rogers a couple of months after their theatrical releases, for about the same price as they were offered on Disney+, but without the need to stay subscribed to that particular streaming service.
As with other studios' films, prices will eventually come down further – for example, Raya is now available to rent for $6.99, or purchase for $24.99, on Apple TV / iTunes and Prime Video (in addition to now being available to watch at no extra charge for Disney+ subscribers).
When I will be able to watch "Black Widow" on streaming in Canada?
As noted above, Disney has already confirmed that Black Widow will be available to all Disney+ subscribers at no extra charge on Wednesday, October 6, 2021.
Unlike some other studios' films which are available on different streaming services like Crave and Netflix in different time periods or "windows", we expect that Disney+ will be the only subscription streaming service that will carry new films from Marvel Studios and most other Disney divisions from 2019 onwards. (Some films from 20th Century Studios, which Disney bought in 2019, may continue to go to Crave first for a few more years under a pre-existing deal.)
Deals that Disney has had in the past with other services like Netflix have been largely wound down. Although some of those deals include stipulations that may allow past Marvel films to return to Netflix from time to time, we do not expect Black Widow to ever show up on Netflix, barring a major change in Disney's strategy (or a merger between the two companies).
Non-subscription, ad-supported streaming may be a different story, however. Some Marvel Studios films on Disney+ like Black Panther have also been made available for limited periods of times on the CTV website and app. However, this has typically been several years after these movies came out in theatres – so if you're waiting for similar availability of Black Widow, you'll probably have to wait until 2023 or 2024.