UPDATE: Disney has announced that calling the Mulan VOD a rental was “a mistake.” Now it’s a flat-out “purchase.” Which makes more sense because (a) those that rent, won’t rent more than once at that price and (b) a straight sale will likely move more units. Especially if Disney includes “exclusive bonus content.”
Can I call’em or can I call’em?
Disney’s Q3 earnings call was this Tuesday. Unsurprisingly, Disney lost 4 billion over the last three months. There is still no new productions being shot, sports have failed thanks to Team #takeaknee, so ESPN is delivering nothing. And of course the parks are a disaster.
Consequently, Disney has finally made a decision about films they already had in the pipeline.
Here’s a quick recap of the controversy surrounding Trolls: World Tout.
“I mean who would pay $20 to RENT a movie?
Turns out the answer is a father who doesn’t want to pay $100 for Family Movie Night.
If you take in an evening show, tickets for two adults and three kids, plus a smattering of treats you are indeed going to be shelling out nearly a C-Note. At that point a twenty buck rental makes sense.
Now how about on studio’s side of things? Does it make sense there?
That is a more difficult question. Trolls World Tour is unquestionably a success. It was launched on March 11th and Universal has still not seen fit to lower the rental price. This is on top of the fact that for three weeks Trolls World Tour was number one on Amazon digital. And by that, I mean it was number one in the store. No qualifiers needed, it was just flat out the most rented or purchased digital video on Amazon. And Universal got most of the money. There was no theater split.
Trolls Wrold Tour’s success doesn’t mean the end of movies in general. But at this point Mickey the Great and Terrible has to be thinking long and hard about how he is going to be releasing Soul when the all-clear sounds.
Family movies in theaters may shortly be a thing of the past.
This leaves the question, what about the rest of the movie categories?
A date night flick is probably a different story. While it’s not a cheap date at this point, it’s not dinner at the French Laundry either. And it’s still a reasonably low pressure environment for a girl. Let’s face it, if you get a girl to come over your place to watch a movie you’ve got better things to do than watch a movie and so does she.
I recently discovered something. That the money the studios gets from the theaters is on a sliding scale. During the opening week the studios get a criminal 90% of the revenue. With the box office take shifting toward the theaters in the next few weeks of release. Ideally, this works out to something like a 50/50 split in the end with the studios using the early lion’s share to retire the junk debt they used to finance the movie.
The problem for the theaters is, what happens if the second and third weeks box office crashes through the basement?
Imagine how happy the theaters were with Ghostbusters (2016)? Or John Carter? Or Cats? Bombs hit the theaters a lot harder than they used to.
On top of that, the studios are gobbling each other up. Which means the films aren’t competing with each other like they used to on the grounds that the studio doesn’t want to eat it’s own lunch. Which means there are a lot less big tent poles coming out. Which means that the theaters are making less and less money per screen.Which means they have to raise the prices (ticket price averages are up 105% over the past twenty years).Which means they sell less tickest.Which means they make less money.Which means they have to raise the prices Rinse and repeat until the nickelodeon collapses. There was a reason the theater owners were so pissed at Univeral.“
At the time of the Trolls world Tour controversy, Disney made a lot of noises about how they still believed in the “exhibition model” and how they were standing shoulder to shoulder with the theater owners in their time of troubles.
But that was four billion dollars ago.
Mickey the Great and Terrible was indeed paying attention. And he appears to have decided, “screw the theaters, my own ass is on the line.”
Live-action Mulan will be coming to Disney Plus next month. However, it will not be available to the regular subscribers. Mickey the G&T isn’t interested in driving subscriptions, he wants a shit-ton of money NOW.
Consequently, Mulan will be a VOD exclusively available to Disney Plus subscribers…for THIRTY FREAKING DOLLARS PER RENTAL!!!
Apparently, they decided, “forget about a double saw buck we are fucking Disney! It will be thirty smackers and the peasants will damn well like it!“
Either Chapek has decided that Disney is now luxury brand or he thinks (perhaps correctly) that it’s easier to go high out of the gate and scale back at need if the rentals aren’t moving.
Regardless, this is probably the last nail in the theater chains coffins.