Disney CEO Bob Chapek Said Theatrical Releases Will Be Forever Changed
Disney CEO Bob Chapek recent gave a talk at Morgan Stanley where he revealed The Walt Disney Company has plans to shrink exclusive theatrical release periods. This, Chapek argues is due to the way customers expect access to media after a year in quarantine.
Chapek said, “The consumer is probably more impatient than they’ve ever been before.” The CEO sighted COVID-19 saying “particularly since now they’ve had the luxury of an entire year of getting titles at home pretty much when they want them. So, I’m not sure there’s going back. But we certainly don’t want to do anything like cut the legs off a theatrical exhibition run.”
With this in mind, Disney may be considering more a middle of the road approach which was hinted add when Chapek said that moviegoers won’t “have much of a tolerance for a title, say, being out of theatrical for months” and “just sort of sitting there, gathering dust” before it finally shows up on streaming services a year later.
As DEADLINE said in a recent report, Hollywood has been reeling from an “existential crisis’ since the pandemic forced theaters to close last year. The total domestic box office fell by $11.4 billion in 2019 and it is unlikely to return to its formal self until at least 2022 or 2023 according to analysts.
With Raya and the Last Dragon making its debut on Friday (March 5), Disney is following a similar model to what it did for Mulan before it and release the film in theaters and on streaming simultaneously. However, similar to Mulan, Raya will not be free to Disney+ subscribers. Rather households are asked to pay a $29.99 Premier Access fee.
So what might the theatrical release schedule look like in the future? Chapek wasn’t willing to go into specifics at this time. However, it is certainly going to be big topic in Hollywood and with analysts throughout 2021. As DEADLINE points out for instance, Warner Brothers has done away with theater exclusives altogether. Companies like Paramount and Universal have either shrunk or have plans to cut back on the classic window of 74 days for a theatrical release down to as little as a month.
In the chat, Chapek highlighted that the company earned $11 billion in theatrical releases in 2019 and for that reason they aren’t ready to go the way of Warner Brothers just yet while at the same time saying “We realize that this is a very fluid situation.”
At the same time Disney has BIG plans for Disney+ with the streaming network already surpassing expectations with over 90 million subscribers! The company obviously wants this momentum to continue catching up to Neflix’s 200 million subscribers over the next three years. Chapek attributes the rise of Disney+ to many factors including the fact that the brand still managed to appeal to adult audiences who don’t have kids. Chapek said that non-families accounted for nearly 50% of subscribers. “What we didn’t realize was the non-family appeal that a service like Disney+ would have,” he said. “That is the big difference.”
This is a story that we’ll continue to follow here at MickeyBlog, readers are encouraged to keep checking in with us for further news and updates.
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