Disney Breaks Theatrical Window With 'Artemis Fowl' Debuting on Disney+

The film was slated for theatrical release May 29.

As movie theaters remain shuttered across major markets, Disney is forgoing the theatrical window for its family adventure film Artemis Fowl, opting to debut it on Disney+ at a future date. 

The film, based on Eoin Colfer's children's books of the same name and directed by Kenneth Branagh and starring Judi Dench, Colin Farrell and Josh Gad, was slated for theatrical release May 29. Now, as studios are forced to shift summer movies due to the movie theater shutdown caused by the global coronavirus pandemic, the theatrical slate for the latter half of 2020 is fast getting booked up. 

Disney opted to push forward several digital and VOD releases as theaters began shutting down last month, with Onward, The Call of the Wild and the home release of Frozen II going online early for purchase and rent.

But the studio has not broken the theatrical window until now, opting instead to push back its major summer movies such as Mulan, Marvel's Black Widow and Jungle Cruise to later dates (Mulan moves to July 24, Black Widow will debut in theaters in November, while Jungle Cruise moved back a year to July 2021). 

Artemis Fowl is the first Disney theatrical film that'll move directly to a Disney+ debut, as opposed to a premium VOD release. 

Disney is following in the footsteps of Universal Pictures, which announced last month that its family animated film Trolls World Tour, initially slated for theatrical release, will instead debut on VOD on April 10. The decision led to harsh words from John Fithian, chief of the National Association of Theatre Owners, who said, "Unlike every other distributor who must simply delay their releases in that time period, but still understand that theatrical release is essential to their business model, Universal on Trolls didn’t make that decision. Exhibitors will not forget this."