During the Walt Disney Companies quarterly financial results investors call, Disney CEO Bob Chapek spoke about how the current Coronavirus situation is impacting its movie release schedule and about the need to have flexibility in releasing movies in theaters or digitally.
Disney has already shuffled around its movie reschedule, moving Black Widow and Pixar’s Soul back to November, Mulan has been pushed back to July and Artemis Fowl is heading directly to Disney+.
Bob Chapek said:
“We very much believe in the value of the theatrical experience overall for large blockbuster movies. We also realize that either because of changing and evolving consumer dynamics or because of certain situations like COVID, we may have to make some changes to that overall strategy just because theaters aren’t open or aren’t open to the extent that anyone needs to be financially viable. We’re going to evaluate each one of our movies on a case-by-case situation,”
This comment is an indication that if audiences don’t return to cinemas after they reopen or if the cinemas don’t reopen as planned, Disney could release movies quicker onto video on demand platforms and Disney+. It has already released Pixar’s Onward earlier this year early on video on demand platforms and have released, Frozen 2, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and Onward earlier than planned on Disney+.
Bob Chapek’s comments continue the debate over movies being released differently, as recently Universal released Trolls: World Tour as a premium rental, which was a huge financial success, leading to Universal say they plan to release movies digitally at the same time as they are released in cinemas. This led to huge backlash from theater companies, AMC and Regal, who said they just won’t show Universal movies, if they decide to do so.
While Disney has reshuffled its release schedule, the Marvel movie, The New Mutants wasn’t included on the new release schedule, prompting many to believe this movie will be released outside of theaters.
Disney Chairman Bob Iger has previously stated that they would be looking to shorten the release window schedule, especially with home video releases and how quickly titles are added to Disney+.
Do you think Disney will release more movies digitally earlier?