The current COVID-19 pandemic has shaken up businesses and industries worldwide. One of the biggest challenges that many companies in the world of entertainment have had to face is how to release films in a world where many movie theaters are either closed down or are suffering through low attendance.
Disney has managed to find alternate solutions through their streaming service, Disney+. The company released several new films on Disney+ at no additional charge, but they also launched Premier Access, which allows Disney+ members to watch a new movie as many times as they would like, so long as they pay $30 fee to purchase it.
Now, as theaters begin to reopen, Disney is beginning to release certain films both in theaters and on Premier Access, giving viewers the choice to either go to the theater if they are comfortable or to watch the film at home.
Back when the pandemic began, Universal released Trolls World Tour to video on demand for purchase, forgoing its theatrical release as theaters shut down. The film did incredibly well making over $100 million, which heavily upset AMC, so much so that AMC banned all Universal films from their theaters.
Since then, the two companies have come to an agreement, but now, similar to what happened with Universal, there appears to be a feud between AMC and Disney.
Credit: UniversalAccording to the Wall Street Journal, it seems that AMC is not very happy to see Disney films premiere both in theaters and on Disney+ at the same time, as it removes the exclusivity that once belonged to movie theaters.
Disney is not forgoing the theatrical release of films like Black Widow as Universal did with Trolls World Tour, however, Universal’s new deal with AMC notes that all films will have a theatrical exclusive debut before they become available to stream, which is not what Disney is doing.
AMC’s CEO Adam Aron said:
“We haven’t made any threats…[But] it is widely known that AMC has threatened not to play movies if we could not find business terms that we found acceptable.”
Adam went on to note that what happened with Universal is not exclusive to just Universal. But given his sentiments, it seems that AMC is targeting Disney. When movie-goers are given the option to head to the theater to watch a film or stay home, it severely cuts into the profits made by theaters, as their audience inevitably dwindles. But because Disney is giving consumers the choice between watching a film in theaters or streaming it on Disney+ — and they have those options from the beginning — it means that Disney as a company is able to profit no matter how fans decide to watch the movie.
The simultaneous release is something we have seen with Raya and the Last Dragon, and we will again see it with Black Widow debuting July 9, as well as Cruella. It will be interesting to see if AMC tries to negotiate similar terms with Disney as they did with Universal to re-obtain exclusivity of the film’s release in theaters.
Disney is a mogul, but personally, I would predict that it would be tough for Disney to ever accept that a major movie theater chain such as AMC would not play their movies. As the pandemic begins to subside with the worldwide rollout of vaccines, movie theaters could likely regain the popularity they previously held, and Disney will likely want to be a part of that.
On the other hand, movie theaters would lose a lot of profit if they chose to forgo all Disney releases — given just how many films The Walt Disney Company (including Walt Disney Animation Studios, Walt Disney Studios, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, 20th Century Studios, and more) produces in any given year) — which is something AMC cannot afford to do.
For now, it seems AMC is complying with the current deal they have with Disney, but we shall see if anything changes as Disney moves forward with the plan to release some films in theaters and on Disney+, or even to forgo some theatrical releases altogether.
Do you think that AMC would ever ban Disney releases from their theaters?