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Disney Black Widow sets the stage for a possible clash with theaters

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At the end of March, theater owners were upset to learn of Disney’s decision to release the film both in theaters and on its Disney + streaming service for an additional fee of $ 29.99. $. Disney has also delayed the release of the films in July. Now, some cinemas are considering ways to push back Hollywood’s biggest studio during one of the summer’s most anticipated films, according to those involved in the talks.

The movie owners’ goal is to get better deal from Disney, like a higher share of box office revenue or a chance to show Black Widow “exclusively, but their ability to fight the studio might be. compromised by their need to attract moviegoers to multiplexes after a year of closures and limited capacity.

We made no threats, ”said Adam Aron, Managing Director of AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., referring to Black Widow. But it is well known that AMC threatened not to release films if we could not find commercial terms that we found acceptable, ”he said.

Disney declined to comment for this post, but said when announcing Black Widow’s decision that the move gave consumers more options and reflected their preferences.

Some theater owners were already pissed off at Disney’s decision to release Raya and the Last Dragon “in theaters and on Disney + in March. I’m playing Raya, but it’s probably the last Disney title I’m going to play,” said Tony Beaverson, owner of Big Horn Cinemas, a theater in Cody, Wyo.

Cinemark Holdings Inc., America’s third-largest theater chain, chose to boycott Raya “in March, a bold move given that theaters had few attractive titles to offer their customers at the time and viewers were still reluctant to go. come back Harkins Theaters, which has more The nations second largest chain, Cineworld Group PLCs Regal Entertainment Group, which reopened 20 theaters this weekend, did not offer Raya “in most places.

When Raya “debuted, Disney called for a 52% revenue split, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Cinemark and Harkins did not respond to requests for comment on Black Widow “and Raya”. Regal declined to comment.

The recent tension highlights the shifting dynamic between movie studios and theaters as the Covid-19 pandemic has pushed some movie channels out of business and consumers and studios alike have turned to streaming entertainment at the House. In the past, Disney has had a higher percentage of ticket sales at theaters during windows where they show movies exclusively, especially for the lucrative Marvel films. When Disney offers movies on its digital platform, it can keep all of the revenue. Company CEO Bob Chapek has been steadfast on Disney’s commitment to bring its entertainment as directly to consumers as possible.

Mr Beaverson said the titles available in July would play an important role in determining whether pushing back Disney’s terms for Black Widow, “which stars Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh, is worth it. Two possible blockbusters are coming up. ahead of the Marvel Movie: The Fast & Furious F9 Sequel “on June 25 from Comcast Corp’s Universal Pictures. and Top Gun: Maverick “on July 2 from Paramount Pictures by ViacomCBS Inc ..

Well take it as it comes, “he says. I have to think about the city I live in and my business people want to watch it” on the big screen.

Disney has not released online sales data for the two films offered on Disney + for an additional fee. The company will release the live-action Cruella “in theaters and on Disney + for an additional $ 29.99 on May 28.

Disney announced in March that the service has more than 100 million subscribers, at $ 7.99 per month in the United States, and said it was on track to meet its projection of 260 million subscribers. by 2024. Disney dominated the box office in the years leading up to the pandemic. , with seven of the highest grossing movies of 2019, including Marvels Avengers: Endgame. “

Still, some theater owners have said privately that they are ready to fend off Black Widow, “even though it is a Marvel movie. The franchise is a heavyweight in Hollywood, and fans have been waiting for more than two years since Disney released a new Marvel. In 2019 alone, two of Disney’s Marvel titles, Captain Marvel “and Avengers: Endgame” grossed nearly $ 4 billion worldwide.

Theaters bristling with Disney’s efforts to use its influence to gain advantage are not a new phenomenon. In 2013, AMC and Regal refused to sell tickets online for the sequel to Marvel’s Iron Man 3 “after Disney demanded a higher share of ticket sales. The issue was eventually resolved, but the terms didn’t work. not disclosed.

A few years later, Disney flexed its muscles again with another highly anticipated film, the sequel to Star Wars The Last Jedi. The studio asked theaters to pay 65% ​​of the revenue from ticket sales, more than traditional theaters 50-50 split are used with most movie releases.

Disney is not alone in its efforts to develop its digital platform. The Warner Bros. film studio AT&T Inc. surprised Hollywood and theatrical owners in December by announcing the release of all of its 2021 films, including Matrix 4 “and a Dune remake,” in theaters and on its streaming service, HBO Max. The company said it only plans to continue the strategy this year.

Most movie theater owners have agreed to play the studio films, including Godzilla vs. Kong, “which is in theaters this weekend, as the company softened the deal by giving theaters slightly better terms than they did. ‘a 50-50 split, according to people familiar with the matter.

For theater owners, the revenue outlook is improving as studios again release more and more big-budget movies. The country is gradually reopening and the population is vaccinated. Theaters are open in all 50 states, giving owners hope that theaters will bounce back, although most are still limited by capacity restrictions.

Recent signs of a possible revival make Disneys decide not to give Black Widow “an exclusive theatrical run all the more difficult to accept.

We believe that what they did was at odds with their previously expressed belief in the importance of the theatrical experience and suggest to us that they are an unreliable partner of the show, ”said Byron Berkley, President of the Independent Cinema Alliance, a professional association of independents. theater operators, adding that he does not speak for everyone in the group Mr. Berkley owns the 4-star cinema in Kilgore, Texas.

This story was posted from an agency feed with no text editing.

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