Marvel's Shang-Chi will stream 'free' on Disney Plus Nov. 12

Shang-Chi will be available to stream then at no added cost -- what some people refer to as "free," though Disney Plus always requires a paid subscription.

Joan E. Solsman Former Senior Reporter
Joan E. Solsman was CNET's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology. She's reported from locations spanning from Disneyland to Serbian refugee camps, and she previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. She bikes to get almost everywhere and has been doored only once.
Expertise Streaming video, film, television and music; virtual, augmented and mixed reality; deep fakes and synthetic media; content moderation and misinformation online Credentials
  • Three Folio Eddie award wins: 2018 science & technology writing (Cartoon bunnies are hacking your brain), 2021 analysis (Deepfakes' election threat isn't what you'd think) and 2022 culture article (Apple's CODA Takes You Into an Inner World of Sign)
Joan E. Solsman
2 min read
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings hit cinemas Sept. 3 with a 45-day window of availablity only in theaters. 


Marvel's Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will become available to stream on Disney Plus on Nov. 12 at no extra cost to subscribers, Disney said Tuesday. That's about a month later than previously expected but still much faster than Disney's theatrical movies would hit the streaming service before the pandemic, when they typically took five to eight months to start streaming. 

The streaming release of Shang-Chi is set to coincide with what Disney is calling Disney Plus Day, a marketing campaign that will make Shang-Chi first available on the service at the same time Jungle Cruise also becomes available to stream there at no added cost. The day will also mark the release of some standalone specials about Star Wars character Boba Fett and the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe on Disney Plus, alongside other promotional releases. 

Shang-Chi has been one of the biggest box office success stories of the pandemic, hauling in more than $305 million in ticket grosses worldwide in little more than two weeks. A major factor in that success was the film's streaming strategy, which was to hold it back from streaming officially at all. 

Unlike other movies Disney released during the pandemic, Shang-Chi wasn't available to stream on Disney Plus. Previously, several Disney movies -- typically midbudget live-action movies and its latest Pixar films, Luca and Soul -- skipped theaters entirely and were available to stream on Disney Plus at no extra cost. For the biggest films, Disney Plus introduced its Premier Access model to sell streaming access to new, big-screen movies. Disney Plus members could stream brand-new movies at home for a $30 fee on top of their subscription price. Disney has released five movies with Premier Access, notably Marvel's Black Widow in July.

Then as vaccinations widened, Disney reintroduced plans for theatrical exclusives. The first movie to hit theaters this way was Free Guy, a video game comedy from Disney's 20th Century Studios. It was released in cinemas Aug. 13, with a 45-day commitment to be available only in theaters. Shang-Chi was the second Disney film to became available in theaters exclusively since the start of the pandemic, arriving in cinemas Sept. 3 with the same 45-day theatrical window. 

In mid-August, Disney CEO Bob Chapek had indicated Shang-Chi would head to Disney Plus right after that 45-day window in theaters, setting up the Marvel flick to become available to stream there in mid-October. "The prospect of being able to take a Marvel title to the service, after going theatrical, [in] 45 days will be yet another data point to inform our actions going forward," Chapek said then. But Chapek also emphasized at the time that Disney values flexibility above all else as it decides how to release films during the pandemic, suggesting that plan was subject to change. 

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