Universal started the ball rolling with “Trolls World Tour,” and Warners went the biggest with their entire 2021 slate going day-and-date, but Disney has written its own chapter in the great streaming film release experiments of the past two years.

Disney sent five films to its ‘Premier Access’ service which saw day-and-date theatrical releases on the Disney+ service for those willing to pay premium pricing. Others like “Soul,” “Luca” and less prestigiously “Artemis Fowl” were sent straight to regular Disney+ without any additional cost.
This week, speaking to investors during a fourth-quarter earnings call, Disney CEO Bob Chapek says they’ll continue to be flexible with their strategy towards exclusive theatrical windows as opposed to other studios who have made re-affirmations towards exhibitors:

“We’re sticking with our plan of flexibility. We’re still unsure in terms of how the marketplace is going to react when family films come back with a theatrical first window… While Covid will be in the rearview mirror, God willing, I think change in consumer behavior will be more permanent.
We’re watching very, very carefully different types of movies to see how the different components of the demographics of that market come back. You’ll notice that the films we are putting into the marketplace that are theatrical and are family films have a fairly short window.
We’re doing that so we can get our films quicker to Disney+, but at the same time, see if the theatrical market can kick back into full gear as we prime the pump with these films.”

Chapek also says those days of big presentations (ala Marvel’s ‘phase’ slate announcements, last year’s “Star Wars” investor day presentation) are pretty much over as the studio will hold its cards closer to its chest in the future:

“We’re going to do what’s best for our shareholders ultimately. We don’t announce our films that far in advance like we used to because we know we’re in a time of flux and change.”

Disney has more recently committed to theatrical-exclusive releases with some working out (eg. “Shang-Chi” with $430 million), and some not (eg. 20th Studios’ “The Last Duel” with $26 million).
It also recently experimented with PVOD strategies as several Premier Access titles like “Cruella” and “Jungle Cruise” arrived on PVOD services like iTunes and Amazon one month after their Premier Access releases and 2-3 months before their regular Disney+ releases. On the other hand “Shang Chi” opted to try a simultaneous PVOD (on other services) and regular no additional fee Disney+ release this week.
Source: Slashfilm

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