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'Wakanda Forever' Isn't Set to Stream on Disney Plus for Weeks

Disney hasn't confirmed exactly when Black Panther's sequel will stream, but Marvel's past timeframes can help you make an educated guess.

Queen Ramonda, played by Angela Bassett, sits on the Wakanda throne surrounded by warriors and members of court.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever officially hit theaters Friday.
Disney

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever arrived in theaters Friday on a wave of positive reviews and fan anticipation, helping it to a strong showing at the box office -- but the timing of when it'll start streaming on Disney Plus is still unclear. 

For a while, it seemed like Disney and other big Hollywood movie studios might be falling into an new post-COVID rhythm for how long they kept movies in theaters before streaming them. Then the summer blockbuster season happened, and everything became guesswork again.  

For Disney specifically, the length of its movies' theatrical exclusives can vary. Encanto spent a month in theaters before streaming. For Marvel's Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, it was longer than two months. West Side Story, Steven Spielberg's reimagining of the musical, took about three months until it streamed. 

Will Black Panther: Wakanda Forever be on Disney Plus? 

Yes!

When will Wakanda Forever start streaming? 

Nobody knows! And Disney isn't telling!

But it's reasonable to estimate that Wakanda Forever will likely start streaming sometime between late December and mid- to late January. 

To make an educated guess for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, it's most helpful to look at the timeline for other Marvel films once Disney revived the practice of theatrical exclusives. 

So far this year, Marvel theatrically released Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness in May and Thor: Love and Thunder in July. Although Doctor Strange took 47 days to reach Disney Plus, Thor: Love and Thunder, its most recent Marvel movie, hit Disney Plus 62 days after its theatrical release. That's closer in length to Marvel's theatrical exclusives last year: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was in theaters for 70 days and Eternals, 68 days. 

If Black Panther: Wakanda Forever were to match Doctor Strange's 47-day timeline, it would be on Disney Plus on Dec. 28, tucked into the week after Christmas but before New Year's Day. Every year, that week is an extraordinarily popular time for streaming -- it's often when Netflix racks up some of its biggest hits of all time

But if Disney opts for Black Panther's theatrical exclusive to be closer in length to that of its other Marvel movies, then Black Panther won't become available to stream until mid- to late January, or possibly even later. Disney's timing decisions for Black Panther and other upcoming movies -- the new Avatar movie and the next Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy films, to name a few -- are going to hinge on how much the company wants to generate box office dollars versus how much it wants to reel in new streaming subscribers and keep the ones it has. 

And lately, big Hollywood companies like Disney aren't prioritizing streaming-subscriber growth nearly as much as they did. 

Paramount, for example, released Top Gun: Maverick more than 160 days ago -- approaching six months now -- and it still won't pin down when the blockbuster will start streaming. The strategy paid dividends at the box office, though: The Top Gun sequel has grossed nearly $1.5 billion to become the world's No. 1 theatrical release so far this year. 

Disney has been much more aggressive than Paramount in getting its movies onto Disney Plus quickly, but so far, Disney hasn't even hinted at the how long the wait will be for Wakanda Forever to stream.