"BLACK WIDOW" AND "CRUELLA" TO DEBUT SIMULTANEOUSLY IN CINEMAS AND ON DISNEY+ PREMIER ACCESS
FILM INDUSTRY NEWS WEEKLY DIGEST, SUNDAY MARCH 28TH
Black Widow' to Hit Disney+ Premier Access and Theaters Simultaneously
Disney has also decided to give 'Cruella' a dual release, underscoring the company's aggressive foray into streaming and a premium VOD price point of $30.
In its biggest pandemic-related streaming move yet, Disney has opted to make Marvel Studios' Black Widow available on Disney+ Premier Access at the same time it hits theaters. Ditto for Cruella, another big-budget tentpole. Black Widow is now slated for July 9, moving back from its previous May 7 date. It will be available to Disney+ subscribers for an additional $30. The studio previously released Mulan and Raya and the Last Dragon for $30 through the Premier Access tier.
...Disney hasn't released any Premier Access numbers for Raya or Mulan, but it's clear they generated enough business for the company to keep experimenting. A number of major circuits — including Cinemark in the U.S. — refused to carry Raya because they wanted more generous terms in exchange for the film playing day-and-date. It remains to be seen whether that pattern repeats itself with Black Widow and Cruella.
The move comes as Marvel Studios has enjoyed critical success on Disney+, with its first series WandaVision earning strong reviews and its latest show, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, premiering last week to what Disney touted as the streaming service's biggest audience for a series premiere.
Disney’s Day-And-Date ‘Black Widow’ & ‘Cruella’ Decision Creates Aftershock In Industry Aching For Box Office Normalcy
It is ironic that on the same day Warner Bros throws in the towel on its day-and-date HBO Max theatrical release plan (for 2022) that Disney would take one of its most highly anticipated Marvel movies, Black Widow, and move it to a day-and-date theatrical Disney+ PVOD plan after the muted performances of Mulan, Soul, and Raya and the Last Dragon on the service.
Disney Shifts ‘Black Widow’ & ‘Cruella’ To Day & Date Release In Theaters And Disney+, Jarring Summer Box Office
Just when it looked like studios were going back to a theatrical window release pattern with today’s news of Regal and Warner Bros’ deal, Disney has smashes that to bits. Disney said Tuesday that it is opening both of its key summer events pics Cruella and Marvel’s Black Widow simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access (which is usually $30 a purchase extra for subscribers) in most Disney+ markets on Friday, May 28 and Friday, July 9, respectively. It also shifted release dates on five other films.
Just as the good news was spreading for Los Angeles and New York City’s reopening, the moves are a sign that the No. 1 studio doesn’t have faith in exhibition just yet.
Here are all the theatrical release date changes Disney announced today:
Black Widow on July 9, 2021 (from May 7, 2021)
Free Guy on August 13, 2021 (from May 21, 2021)
Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings on September 3, 2021 (from July 9, 2021)
The King’s Man on December 22, 2021 (from August 20, 2021)
Deep Water on January 14, 2022 (from August 13, 2021)
Death on the Nile on February 11, 2022 (from September 17, 2021)
"There's Not Much Theaters Can Do": Disney's 'Black Widow' Tries Day-and-Date as Studios Experiment
All sides are resigned to the fact that every Hollywood major is trying different release models as long as the pandemic keeps up..."Black Widow is an expensive movie. It's not surprising they are pushing back the date," says Wall Street analyst Eric Handler of MKM Partners. "Disney isn't comfortable releasing a $200 million-plus movie when there is so much uncertainty." Handler and others believe foremost that Disney is using the pandemic era to test the appetite for premium video-on-demand. Black Widow and Cruella provide unique opportunities. "This year is all about experimentation," he says. "Disney isn't abandoning exhibitors."
Disney likewise offered Mulan and Raya and the Last Dragon to Disney+ subscribers for $30, but Black Widow is the first superhero pic to try its luck on premium video-on-demand in those countries where the streaming service is available. Analysts believe theater chains can't afford to pass up playing Cruella or Black Widow. Nevertheless, exhibitors like Cinemark and Harkins, both based in the U.S., are currently refusing to play Disney's Raya and the Last Dragon because the chains wanted better terms than usual since Raya is also playing on Disney+.
"Everyone has made their big moves. Businesses will look at what works, and then there will be more right-sizing," says one studio veteran. Adds another studio distributor, "There will no longer be a cookie-cutter approach and every film will be treated differently."
New data suggests Disney's 'Raya' was a streaming flop, but the studio is charging ahead with the same strategy for 'Black Widow'
Disney's new animated movie, "Raya and the Last Dragon," debuted in theaters and on Disney Plus this month, but it appears that it wasn't a hit. The movie received 20% fewer purchases on Disney Plus in the US over its opening weekend (March 5 to March 7) than the live-action "Mulan" did during its first weekend last year, according to new data from the analytics startup Antenna. The company pulls from a variety of opt-in panels like budgeting apps to track purchase and transaction data, which doesn't include free trials.
There was also a 30% decline in signups to Disney Plus in the US during "Raya's" first weekend compared to the previous four weekends, according to Antenna, while "Mulan" drove double the signups compared to the previous four weekends.
‘The Falcon And The Winter Soldier’: Disney+ Reports That Marvel Series Premiere Is Streamer’s Most Watched Ever
Disney+ says that The Falcon and The Winter Soldier ranks as the most watched series premiere ever for the streaming service during its opening weekend, Friday, March 19 – Sunday, March 22, and the most watched title overall for the same time period on a global basis, including in Disney+ Hotstar markets. No viewership numbers were provided whatsoever. Disney+ did not provide any degree of viewers for Falcon and the Winter Soldier specifically in regards to WandaVision‘s weekend premiere or The Mandalorian‘s season 1 or 2’s weekend premieres. The streaming service only mentioned that Falcon, WandaVision and season 2 of Mandalorian are the streaming service’s top three most watched weekend premieres.
SambaTV however reports that 1.7 million households tuned into Falcon and the Winter Soldier last weekend for at least five minutes besting the 1.6M who tuned into WandaVision‘s opening weekend. SambaTV collects data from terrestrial TVs. Disney’s latest Marvel TV show had 759k US HHs tune in on Friday, beating WandaVision‘s premiere day tune in (655k households on Friday, Jan. 15), but not quite the 1.0M US HHs that watched The Mandalorian‘s Season 2 premiere on the first day.
Cineworld to reopen US Regal theatres in April, strikes Warner Bros exclusivity deal
Cineworld is to reopen its Regal theatres in the US in April, for the first time in six months, and has struck a new release exclusivity deal with Warner Bros. The phased reopening will kick off with a limited number of cinemas opening for Warner Bros. Godzilla vs. Kong on April 2 and going wider with Mortal Kombat on April 16. Cineworld also plans to reopen in the UK, its second biggest market, in May, in line with government guidance.
In addition, Cineworld has struck a multi-year agreement under which films from Warner Bros. Pictures Group will be exhibited in Cineworld’s cinemas in the US as of their opening. Beginning in 2022, Warner Bros. theatrical releases will have a 45-day window of theatrical exclusivity, with certain provisions.
In the UK, Warner Bros. and Cineworld have agreed to an exclusive theatrical window of 31 days prior to PVOD, and an extended window of 45 days for films that open to an agreed upon box-office threshold.
Cineworld Boss Mooky Greidinger Says Group “Actively Negotiating” Evolving Theatrical Window Terms With Studios
Overall, Greidinger said, “We trust and believe at end of the day that theatrical exclusivity is of interest to all sides — exhibition, studios, moviemakers. Once the dust will settle a bit, there will also be much more stability in the windows issue...As long as theatrical exclusivity is kept in a way, we are going to do well and people will still run to movies in the cinemas. For studios, it’s clear the more a movie is successful in the cinemas the more successful and popular it is in the auxiliary markets, merchandising and parks, etc.”
Regal Owner Cineworld Posts $3 Billion Loss, Raises Cash, But Warns "Material Uncertainty" Remains
The cinema giant, led by CEO Moshe Greidinger, eyes a reopening of its U.K. sites from May, but reiterates continued uncertainty "around its ability to continue as a going concern."Exhibition giant and Regal owner Cineworld Group on Thursday reported lower 2020 financials, including its first-ever full-year loss, due to the coronavirus pandemic, which left cinemas in many parts of the world closed for large parts of the year.The U.K.-based company also said it has secured binding commitments for $213 million in additional cash via a bond to boost its financial flexibility "in the event of continued disruption as a result of COVID-19." The funding and an expected $200 million U.S. CARES Act tax refund "will provide the group with a liquidity runway to year-end in the event that cinemas remain closed," it said, but it also warned of continued challenges and questions marks caused by the pandemic.
Film Distribution Chiefs Talk Pandemic Takeaways: "The Old System Was Creaky"
Cinema chains have always insisted that a shorter window will hurt movie attendance. What have you learned in recent months?
ORR Croods was number one in its 12th and 13th weekends even though it had been on PVOD for weeks. There are different customers out there.
Warner Bros. sparked an uproar when it announced it would release its 2021 slate simultaneously on HBO Max and in cinemas. Disney debuted Raya and the Last Dragon day-and-date in theaters and on Disney+. Will you do similarly?
LOMIS We are, first and foremost, a big-screen company. We recognize the value of the small screen and exploit it. We can't properly monetize the big movies, like James Bond, without theatrical leading the way.
ARONSON ViacomCBS just launched Paramount+. Our CEO, Jim Gianopulos, made it very clear that Paramount Pictures believes in the theatrical window. He went to great pains to reinforce that point. That being said, we'd be naive if we didn't recognize that the theatrical distribution and exhibition industry has some pretty strong challenges ahead of it.
LOMIS I think you need to carve it out for each movie. We're probably going to experiment with [a window of] 17 days coming up on some films.
How do you compete with streamers for consumers' attention?
ARONSON Moviegoing attendance from 2010 to 2019 is down over 7 percent. In that same period, ticket prices have gone up over 16 percent. That's not the kind of diagram you want to see. That's just one aspect of this business that needs to be looked at. The tentpoles have always been a part of the theatrical business. But it's all the other films that make up the bulk of attendance. We'd be naive if we didn't recognize that our industry, the theatrical distribution and exhibition industry, has some pretty strong challenges ahead of it. Just like windows are changing, the entire business needs to be turned upside down and has to be reexamined, with the ultimate goal being, how do we get more people going to movies in movie theaters?... I think the takeaway is that the price-value ratio, has to be in order.
'Lord of the Rings' Trilogy Set for China Rerelease
Peter Jackson's beloved fantasy series is well known in China and could earn more on its second run than it did during its first back in the early 2000s.
The Fellowship of the Ring is scheduled to release April 4, followed by The Two Towers on April 16 and The Return of the King on April 23. If the LOTR gets a rerelease embrace at all similar to Avatar's, the films will likely earn more on their second pass through China's cinemas than they did on their first.
'Godzilla vs. Kong' sets highest China opening day by Hollywood release since onset of pandemic
Guy Ritchie & Jason Statham Action Pic ‘Wrath Of Man’ Takes Over May Weekend Vacated By ‘Black Widow’
Netflix unveils slate of 40 anime titles headed by ‘Record Of Ragnarok’
Netflix unveiled a slate of 40 original anime titles set to premiere in 2021, more than double its output last year, at the ongoing AnimeJapan 2021 virtual event. The slate is headed by Masao Okubo’s Record Of Ragnarok, an adaptation of the popular manga about the one-on-one battles between humans and gods to determine the fate of humanity. Set to premiere in June 2021, the series is produced by Japanese animation studio Graphinica.
Keanu Reeves To Star In ‘BRZRKR’ Film & Anime Series At Netflix Based On His Comic Books
Reeves will produce and star in the screen adaptations which will start with the story getting the feature treatment followed by an anime spinoff series. BRZRKR, based on an original idea by Reeves, is co-written by the John Wick star and New York Times bestselling writer Matt Kindt and illustrated by Marvel artist Ron Garney
'National Treasure' Series a Go at Disney+
Disney+ has greenlit a series based on the National Treasure movie franchise. The show, from writers Cormac and Marianne Wibberley — who wrote the screenplays to the two Nicolas Cage movies (along with Jim Kouf on the first film) — and producer Jerry Bruckheimer will follow a new set of characters and reimagine the franchise through the eyes of its lead character, a 20-year-old DREAMer named Jess Morales.
Amazon Prime Video Unveils Slate Of French Originals
Russell Crowe, Zac Efron Attached to Star in Peter Farrelly’s Vietnam War Movie for Apple
The Skydance project is based on the book by Joanna Molloy and John “Chickie” Donohue, The Greatest Beer Run Ever: A True Story of Friendship Stronger Than War. The movie tells the true story of Donohue, who left New York in 1967 for Vietnam to track down and share a few beers with his childhood friends serving in the Army.
Tracy Oliver Lands Eight-Figure Overall Deal With Apple
Tracy Oliver, the co-writer of Girls Trip and creator of The First Wives Club, has signed an overall deal with Apple...The deal includes television series and feature films and Oliver will develop and produce diverse and meaningful projects via her Tracy Yvonne Productions shingle.