The Covid shutdown forced film studios to make some tough decisions about when and how they were going to release some of their biggest movies during 2020 and 2021. The Walt Disney Company was one of those who, having their own streaming service at their disposal, made the most of the ability to put some of their lesser known movies straight to the platform to boost subscriber numbers while people were stuck at home during lockdowns and workplace closures.
However, with some of their biggest movies, such as Black Widow and Jungle Cruise, Disney instead adopted the Day and Date method of putting out movies in theaters and also on a pay per view Disney+ Premier Access streaming rental at the same time. However, while many of Disney’s movies have since seen theatrical only releases returning, Bob Chapek has noted in their Investor Relations call that the reluctance of some people to go back to cinemas just yet could still impact new film releases.
“What we’re seeing is some recovery of the theatrical exhibition marketplace, which is a good thing by the way,” Chapek explained. “At the same time, we’re watching very, very carefully different types of movies to see how the different components of the demographics of that market come back. And we’re watching very carefully our family films, as they are released over the next couple of months to make sure that that market will come back to theatrical exhibition as the general entertainment with say the films that appeal to a younger target audience have come back.”
Chapek went on, “So we’re sticking with our plan of flexibility, because we’re still unsure in terms of how the marketplace is going to react when family films come back with a theatrical first window. I should say that — you’ll notice that the films that we are putting into the marketplace, in theatrical, that are family films, have a fairly short window, at least in terms of any reference point to what history might have been. And we’re doing that so that we can get our films quicker to Disney+ and — but at the same time see if the theatrical market can kick back into full gear as we prime the pump with these films.”
While Chapek didn’t elaborate on exactly which movies fall into which category, he did note earlier in the call that there would be exclusive theatrical windows for Eternals and Encanto, before they head to Disney+ after a designated time. Of course Shang-Chi and the Legend of The Ten Rings was originally released in theaters at the beginning of September and is getting its Disney+ release tomorrow, November 12th as part of Disney+ Day. Previously, Disney announced that all Marvel movies would have at least a 45 day exclusive theatrical window, which Shang-Chi has gone well beyond and nothing Chapek said seems to suggest that they will be arriving on the streaming platform any sooner in future.
When it comes down to it, the decision about when and how movies are released going forward is going to come down to how it is going to look to the financial gurus. “We’re going to do what’s best for our shareholders ultimately,” Chapek said. “And we don’t announce our films that far in advance, like we used to because we know that we’re in a time of flux and change still. And while COVID will be in the rearview mirror, God-willing, I think changing consumer behavior is something that’s going to be more permanent. And so we’re reading that on a weekly basis and make our decisions going forward accordingly.” This news originated at ComicBook.com.