Because of a French law requiring a 17 month wait between theatrical and streaming release, Disney is considering canceling its Black Panther 2 release in France.
Marvel fans in France may have to wait a good long while before seeing Black Panther 2. Because of a French law that requires a 17-month wait time between the theatrical and streaming releases of most films, Disney is considering skipping its French release of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. That’s the news coming from French sites like Le Film Francais (via The Direct).
If Black Panther 2 foregoes a French release, it won’t be the first time Disney has chosen to cancel a theatrical release rather than comply with the law. As DigitalTV Europe reported in June, Disney streamed Strange World (titled Avalonia in France) directly to France in Disney+ rather than bothering with a theatrical window to protest the country’s law. The company released a statement, calling the legislation “anti-consumer, ignoring how behaviour has evolved over the last several years,” while also saying it “puts us at increased risk for piracy.”
Believe it or not, the timeline being enforced in France has actually been significantly shortened. In January, as reported by ScreenDaily, the country announced a deal it had reached with streaming services shortening the previous period–36 months–between theater and streaming by a little more than half to 17 months. One of the only exceptions is Netflix, who bought themselves a slightly shorter window of 15 months by promising to invest $215 million annually to French film and TV.
Should Disney choose to withhold a Black Panther 2 theatrical release in France, it isn’t clear yet whether they will do what they did with Strange World and send it directly to streaming or delay its streaming in France to the same date as other regions in Europe. Considering the fanfare behind Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the former choice might present the best opportunity in the short term as more than likely some fans would be willing to subscribe to Disney+ just for the movie. In the longterm however, a tentpole film like this might serve better as a weapon to use against France’s laws.
A 17-month wait between Black Panther 2‘s theatrical and streaming release–or between releases for any film–does seem prohibitively extreme, even if you are as protective of your theatrical industry as the French. Even in the days when home releases were mostly for VHS and premium movie channels like HBO and Cinemax didn’t have streaming options, a 17-month delay between the theater and the living room would seem excessive; at least in the United States. If Blockbuster can beat your timeline, you might want to rethink things.
If Black Panther 2 skips France, the country’s viewers will miss out on what may very well be the most anticipated Marvel sequel since 2019’s Avengers: Endgame. With the tragic passing of Chadwick Boseman, fans are expecting not only a great superhero flick, but a cathartic tribute to the late actor. There’s also a lot of talk about who will take up the mantle of the Black Panther, with much of the speculation drifting in the direction of Letitia Wright‘s Shuri, Lupita Nyong’o’s Nakia, and even Angela Bassett’s Ramonda.