Disney’s CEO Discusses Theatrical Releases With COVID in “Rearview Mirror”

in Entertainment, Movies, Movies & TV

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Credit: Disney

During the pandemic, we must admit we did a lot of binge-watching! From classic Disney films to Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars, Disney Junior shows, and everything in between, Disney+ was a necessity for our family. As COVID-19 cases dwindle and we’re all learning to navigate a new “normal”, we’re finding ourselves enjoying more family outings. Yes, we’ve finally gotten to go back to the movie theater to watch a film or two! Disney is now redirecting its previous format of Disney+ exclusive releases back to the theaters for future films and Disney CEO, Bob Chapek, discusses the adjustment in further detail.

Disney+ Menu
Credit: Disney Plus/CNET

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With Disney+ Day upon us, we’re seeing many Disney+ exclusives hit the streaming giant on November 12, with more to come soon. Two new original series including Marvel’s Hawkeye (November 24) and The Book of Boba Fett (December 29) are highly anticipated Disney+ exclusive releases. Disney hasn’t forgotten about the theaters, however, as Marvel’s Eternals hit the box office this past weekend. Plus, we’re excited about the Thanksgiving holiday weekend exclusive theatrical release of Disney’s animated film, Encanto, with the release date of November 24. But, is the adjustment back to theaters from Disney+ a good move for The Walt Disney Company?

Encanto
Credit: Disney

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On November 10, 2021, The Walt Disney Company held its fiscal year and fourth-quarter financial results meeting via a live audio webcast. One of the topics of discussion was the company’s films going back to exclusive theatrical releases. Christine McCarthy, Disney’s CFO, noted during the meeting, “We are excited about the 9 theatrical releases we have slated for the first quarter of fiscal ’22.

Black Panther 2
Credit: Marvel Studios

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Bob Chapek, The Walt Disney Company Chief Executive Officer discussed the theatrical release for films in great detail as noted in the meeting transcript:

We have reached flexibility in terms of making decisions on distribution as we recover from the pandemic and in the mix of changing consumer behaviors. And the extent to which we had a number of titles released going to theatrical will eventually go to Disney+. But what we’re seeing is some recovery of the theatrical exhibition marketplace, which is a good thing, by the way, for not only Disney, but also for the industry.

And because most of the franchises that we’ve had as a Walt Disney Company have been built through the theatrical exhibition channel of distribution. 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’re released over the next couple of months to make sure that that market will come back to theatrical exhibition as the general entertainment, let’s say, the films that appeal to a younger target audience have come back. And 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 sort of kick back into full gear as we prime the pump with these films. But we’re going to do what’s best for our shareholders ultimately. 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.

bob chapek onstage
Bob Chapek (Credit: Disney)

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Are you ready to once again watch Disney, Star Wars, and Marvel films in movie theaters? Let us know in the comments.

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