- Liu took to Twitter to respond to head Bob Chapek, who said premiering the movie in theatres and on Disney+ shortly after would be new
- ‘Black Widow’ and ‘Jungle Cruise’ were released in cinemas and on Disney’s streaming service at the same time
Actor Simu Liu defended his upcoming Marvel film, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, after a comment from Disney CEO Bob Chapek suggesting the film’s release will be an “experiment” for the company.
Chapek, speaking to investors in a quarterly earnings call last Thursday, noted that amid the pandemic, Disney has made some of its films available in theaters, some straight to Disney+ and some a hybrid of the two, available on the streaming service for an additional cost (such as Marvel’s Black Widow and Jungle Cruise).
“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,” Chapek said. “So the prospect of being able to take a Marvel title to the service after going theatrical for 45 days will be yet another data point to inform our actions going forward on our titles.”
Liu wasn’t thrilled with Chapek’s characterisation and tweeted, “We are not an experiment.”
“We are the underdog; the underestimated. We are the ceiling-breakers,” the actor wrote in response on Saturday. “We are the celebration of culture and joy that will persevere after an embattled year. We are the surprise. I’m fired the (expletive) up to make history on September 3rd; JOIN US.”
Shang-Chi will be released in theaters on Sept. 3 and arrive on Disney+ as soon as Oct. 18.
During the call with investors, Chapek was asked why Disney’s latest releases, Ryan Reynolds’ Free Guy and Shang-Chi, were being released first in theaters amid moviegoers’ renewed hesitancy to head to theaters, given the delta variant. He noted that the latter film was intended to be released into a “much more healthy theatrical environment” but the studio was unable to make a last-minute change to a simultaneous release.
Liu’s comments come less than a month after fellow Marvel star Scarlett Johansson filed a lawsuit against Disney, alleging that her contract was breached when Black Widow was released on Disney+ at the same time as its theatrical debut.
In the lawsuit, Johansson said her agreement with Marvel Studios guaranteed an exclusive release in movie theaters and her salary was based in large part on box-office performance.
A spokesperson for Disney said the suit had “no merit whatsoever” and called it “especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.”