Disney could be changing its release practices going forward. Already we have seen them release the latest Pixar film Onward to digital and Disney+ way earlier than anyone would have expected. Soon to follow will be the big-budget adaptation of Artemis Fowl, which will go straight to Disney+ and not see release in theaters. Outgoing CEO Bob Iger has hinted in a new interview with Barron that they may not be done bypassing theaters with releases going forward. Not big tentpole stuff like Mulan or MCU related films like Black Widow, but mid-range budget fare for sure.
Disney Can Release Films However They Want
"There are some we've decided to put on Disney+. We already announced one, Artemis Fowl, that would have been released in theaters," Iger told Barron's in a recent interview. "Others we've simply delayed. In some cases, we've moved things onto Disney+ faster than we would have. Frozen 2 was one of them, but Onward would be the biggest example. It was in theaters when this happened. We moved to a pay-per-view period for a couple of weeks where people could buy it and own it. And then we ended up putting it on Disney+. In terms of movies going ahead after Artemis, there may be a few more that we end up putting directly onto Disney+, but for the most part a lot of the big tentpole Disney films, we'll simply wait for slots. In some cases, we've announced new ones already, but later on in the calendar."
Honestly, in this new reality going forward, this makes total sense. While big-budget, tentpole films will always get people into the theater, mid-budget titles are going to be hurt the most by this shutdown. As people come out of quarantine, you have to figure moviegoers will be pickier with what they spend their money on. But getting these films in front of eyeballs on Disney+ gives them a chance to build franchises on the service to keep them subscribing. Of course, Disney is in a unique position to do this type of thing. Who knows what other studios will do, as we navigate new territory in Hollywood going forward.