Disney Boss Values “Flexibility” With Day-And-Date Release Model; ‘Shang-Chi’s 45-Day Window “An Interesting Experiment”

Disney CEO Bob Chapek continued to emphasize the flexibility of the studio’s controversial theatrical-day-and-date Disney+ Premier model given the uncertain times of Covid.

“We value flexibility in being able to make last minute calls,” said Chapek on today’s earnings call without indicating any additional future dynamic window releases beyond the studio’s recent summer handful of Cruella, Black Widow and Jungle Cruise. 

“Certainly when we planned we didn’t anticipate the resurgence of Covid,” he added, also indicating that there’s “nothing in stone” in regards to the distribution prospects of the studio’s future theatrical titles.

In regards to 20th Century Studios’ Free Guy respecting a theatrical window this coming weekend, Chapek acknowledged that the Fox merger acquired title came with a previous distribution agreement that Disney couldn’t veer from. As we indicated today, we heard that Disney kept Free Guy theatrical due to a previous pay one agreement with HBO; that’s the reason why they couldn’t send the Ryan Reynolds movie to Disney+ Premier, which is the upper tier of the streaming service where subscribers can purchase current theatrical titles for $29.99 each.

As far as the theatrical window for the upcoming Labor Day weekend release of Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of Ten Rings, Chapek called the 45-day frame for the pic before it hits Disney+, “an interesting experiment” and “another data point” for the studio as it juggles theatrical releases with its streaming service.

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Chapek also told analysts on the call that despite the theatrical-Disney+ Premier model being “a winning strategy” to date, exhibitor agreements on Shang-Chi prevented the conglom from going with a last-minute day-and-date strategy.

Should the pandemic by some chance avoid curbing ticket sales, the launch of Marvel’s first title over Labor Day weekend with Shang-Chi is an interesting one: Marvel titles have proven to open anywhere on the calendar before Covid, i.e. Captain Marvel in early March and even late April’s Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame. However, the four-day summer-end holiday in the U.S. hasn’t historically been a prime time for moviegoing.

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