Disney Movies May Spend Longer in Theaters Before Streaming
Disney has apparently been thinking long and hard about giving their animated features a longer window in theaters before moving them over to Disney+. This whole hybrid approach to releasing movies is still pretty new, and it seems like Disney still has some kinks to work out. While the animated features they've been putting out have been getting decent responses from critics and fans, they aren’t raking in the big bucks like Disney anticipates.
Perhaps the biggest examples of this whole issue are Lightyear and Strange World. Lightyear was in theaters for 47 days before it made its way over to Disney+, and during that time, it only narrowly made back its budget. But if you think that’s bad, check out what happened with Strange World... Despite stellar reviews pretty much all around, it was Disney's first box-office bomb since 2007’s Meet The Robinsons. Since the specific budget isn't public knowledge, it's difficult to pinpoint exactly how much money the movie lost. Given the range they were likely to have spent, the film could have lost them as much as $150 million dollars.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, as Disney reassess its strategies under its new (and former) CEO Bob Iger “there is talk of longer theatrical windows for Elemental (June 16) and Disney Animation’s Wish (Nov. 22).” They also blame “confusion in the marketplace” about when and where movies debut for some of the company’s recent box office woes.”
The weird thing about this whole situation, and where Disney may actually have the right idea, is that these movies go on to be fairly successful once they hit streaming services. In fact, Strange World became the most-streamed movie on Disney+ for a time. Using that information, it only makes sense that they wait much longer to put movies on streaming, as inconvenient as it would be for consumers who have gotten used to that model. At the very least, it would make sense if Disney waited about as long as they would when physical media like DVDs were still a huge driver of revenue.
Either way, it seems like Disney is desperate for some good news. Maybe that's why they recently announced sequels to Toy Story, Frozen, and Zootopia are all now in development.
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