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Disney’s ‘Artemis Fowl’ will skip theaters and go straight to streaming on Disney+

The Disney+ home screen, shown on a tablet.
(Disney)

Walt Disney Studios’ live-action fantasy film “Artemis Fowl” will skip movie theaters and go straight to streaming on Disney+, the company said Friday.

Disney has not said when the movie will appear on the streaming service, which costs $6.99 a month. It was supposed to hit theaters on May 29.

The decision to dramatically change release plans for the big-budget film comes as theaters across the nation remain closed indefinitely because of government measures to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Studios including Disney have been forced to scramble their release schedules and find new dates to debut their would-be blockbusters when theaters reopen.

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For example, Disney on Friday also said its live-action remake of “Mulan” will hit theaters July 24, after canceling its originally planned March 27 debut because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Disney has also set new premieres for major films including Marvel’s “Black Widow” and “Eternals,” now planned for Nov. 6 and Feb. 12, respectively.

Disney set new release dates for numerous other high-profile pictures. “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is expected to launch in May 2021, after originally planning to debut next February. “Jungle Cruise,” starring Dwayne Johnson, was pushed back a year to July 2021. “Thor: Love and Thunder” and the next “Indiana Jones” installment were both intended for release next year, but are now delayed until 2022.

The company has still not set new release dates for a handful of movies that were hobbled by the coronavirus: Armando Iannucci’s “The Personal History of David Copperfield,” Searchlight horror film “Antlers,” psychological thriller “Woman in the Window” and X-Men spinoff “The New Mutants.” Disney inherited those films through its acquisition of 21st Century Fox.

But for “Artemis Fowl,” the Burbank studio decided to scrap the theatrical debut altogether. Instead, the film directed by Kenneth Branagh will launch on Disney+, the company’s pivotal subscription streaming service that launched in November and has drawn more than 28 million subscribers. Disney has accelerated the Disney+ debuts of “Frozen 2" and Pixar’s “Onward” because of the coronavirus shutdowns.

“With audiences largely unable to attend theatres in the current environment, we are thrilled to offer the premiere of ‘Artemis Fowl’ on Disney+,” said Ricky Strauss, president of content and marketing for Disney+, in a statement.

The move comes after Universal Pictures said it would debut DreamWorks Animation’s “Trolls World Tour” on digital rental services on the same day as its planned April 10 theatrical release. The “Trolls” about-face angered theater owners, who see any attempt to collapse the traditional theatrical window as a threat to their business model. Hollywood movies generally wait about 90 days from their multiplex debuts before they become available for home viewing.

This is not the first time release plans for “Artemis Fowl” have changed. The movie was originally slated to hit cinemas last August, but was pushed back to May.

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Disney’s movies have dominated the box office in recent years, especially with movies from brands such as Pixar, Marvel and “Star Wars.” However, the studio has at times struggled with live-action movies without obvious brand association, such as “A Wrinkle in Time” and “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.”

Based on the 2001 young adult book by Eoin Colfer, “Artemis Fowl” follows a 12-year old genius who embarks on a journey to find his father.


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