“One of the things we’ve learned is that flexibility is good,” he said of the coronavirus pandemic. “We really celebrate that flexibility… we’re trying to give consumers more choice.”
Marvel’s Black Widow is set to debut July 9 in theaters and for a $ 30 bonus for Disney + subscribers. The Premier Access option was used to Mulan last year and Raya and the last dragon and March.
Chapek made the comments during a virtual appearance at JP Morgan’s 49th Annual Technology, Media and Communications Conference.
Disney restructures and expands technical media and entertainment distribution team to support digital growth
Asked about the company’s box office tonnage, he said it remained “fairly weak” in the United States, but had shown strength in a few international markets. “We see some reluctance to come back” from some moviegoers, he said. About two-thirds of North American theaters are open again, though that number is increasing as major releases line up for their summer turns.
Chapek has called the current moment a “middle period” in terms of how theater fits into the larger revenue strategy, although he reiterated past comments about the importance of theater to Disney. Since absorbing most of 21st Century Fox in 2019, the company’s movie studios have controlled about half of the US box office, but haven’t been at full throttle for a long time yet. The first adjustments to the Fox pipeline were accompanied by the once-in-a-century impact of the pandemic.
JP Morgan media analyst Alexia Quadrani moderated the 40-minute session, which oddly didn’t address AT & T’s merger deal for WarnerMedia and Discovery. She asked Chapek how the company determines the release strategy to deploy on a given film. There are now several types of deployments – the day and date view with Black Widow, the broadcast option only used for Hamilton and Soul last year and this summer with Pixar’s Luca; and the exclusive 45-day theatrical showcase
“There are a whole bunch of data points that we have to assimilate to make these decisions,” Chapek said. “The first consideration is, is this a big tent theatrical franchise? If so, something like a Marvel movie or a Lucas movie, something that’s going to have legs, fits into a larger mythology. “
He added: “We have already delayed Black Widow on several occasions we didn’t want to delay it again. Yet at the same time, we always knew that there was a risk that the exhibition would not be fully developed or that consumers would not want to go back and sit in theaters. So we realized we had to kind of prime the pump and give a theatrical show a chance. We couldn’t put all of our eggs in the theatrical show basket because we knew that in the weeks leading up to the decision, the domestic market would not return. And it’s still pretty low. So we are convinced that we made the right choice there.
Chapek defied the tsk-tsking to put movies directly into streaming in general. The purpose of restructuring the company last fall, he noted, is to ensure that each platform has its own content – and in sufficient quantity – separate from Covid or State of Theaters. . Luca going to Disney + next month is an example of this larger strategic mission. The idea is to “make sure all the channels have a full range of offers to keep everyone happy.” But nowhere is this more the case than for Disney +, ”he said.
Soul gave Disney + a “huge boost”, Chapek said, although he didn’t quantify it. Disney + had 103.6 million subscribers worldwide as of April 3, the company reported.
As the company continues to constantly assess the pandemic / box office conundrum, agreeing with exhibitors to reduce windows to 45 days this fall for Shang-Chi and Guy gratuit. “We know that the market will recover more fully and that this kind of exclusive distribution will make more sense,” he said. “Flexibility is a good thing. At some point, though, you kind of have to get out, as I like to say, off the dock and get on the boat. These, we will try.
Regarding the outlook on windows and revised splits with movie theater owners, Chapek said Disney plans to take their time to develop longer-term plans. “The consumer drives the shortest windows,” he says. “If you have a movie that spends four weeks or six weeks” in theaters, “there’s not a lot of reason to sit on it for the next six to seven months. The consumer realized that he had the power and that he could basically make those calls. We are a friendly company and we will follow their example. “
Asked whether a significant number of moviegoers might be inclined to wait until the “46th day” – that is, the day a new film migrates from theaters to streaming – Chapek does not seem concerned. “Forty-six days, six weeks is a long time to wait,” he said. “If you are a Black Widow fan, you won’t wait that long. “
Disney + ‘s performance was a helpful guide in terms of defining theatrical strategy, Chapek said. “When we publish new content, people line up at midnight” to watch it as soon as it is uploaded to the streaming service, he said. “I don’t think people have that much patience.”
Jill Goldsmith contributed to this report.