Disney says ALL its remaining films this year will open exclusively at theaters: Move comes after Scarlett Johannsen sued them for $50M in lost earnings after Black Widow was released online
Disney has announced all of its remaining films set to be released in 2021 will open exclusively in theaters following the success of their newest superhero flick and a lawsuit from Scarlett Johansson.
The Walt Disney Co. announced on Friday they would commit to theatrical releases only for the rest of the year after endless disruption due to the pandemic and the super-charged growth of streaming services. That saw big-budget blockbusters released on Disney's own streaming service Disney+ amid confusion over when cinemas would reopen, and if people would want to visit them.
Upcoming Disney releases include the highly-anticipated Marvel release 'Eternals' on November 5, Ridley Scott's 'The Last Duel' on October 15 and Steven Spielberg's 'West Side Story' due in theaters December 10.
'Following the tremendous box office success of our summer films which included five of the top eight domestic releases of the year, we are excited to update our theatrical plans for the remainder of 2021,' Kareem Daniel, chairman of Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution, said in a statement.
'As confidence in moviegoing continues to improve, we look forward to entertaining audiences in theaters, while maintaining the flexibility to give our Disney+ subscribers the gift of ''Encanto'' this holiday season.' he added.
All of the films will have a minimum run of 45 days in theaters before streaming. The animated fantasy 'Encanto' (Nov. 24) will head to Disney+ after 30 days, AP reported.
The decision comes as the media conglomerate faces a lawsuit from one of it's biggest stars who alleges she lost out on more the $50 million when they released her film in theaters while it was simultaneously available for streaming.
In her suit, actress Scarlett Johansson, 36, alleges she had been guaranteed that Black Widow would have an exclusive theatrical release, and that the bulk of her salary was based on the box office performance.
Black Widow took in $60 million on the streaming platform Disney+ on the opening weekend alone, the company previously announced in its first breakdown of steaming figures for a movie.
While Disney+ charges $8 a month for most of its content, it has started charging premiums for big box office movies released there first. Anyone wishing to view Black Widow on the streamer was charged an extra $30 to do so.
The movie set a pandemic-era record bringing in $218million worldwide over opening weekend earlier this month, including the streaming figures, plus $80million domestic box office and $78million internationally.
However, the movie's box-office performance dropped off sharply after the opening weekend, leading some analysts to question whether the Disney+ streaming release was taking a bite out of ticket sales.
Black Widow saw box office receipts plunge 67 percent after opening weekend, and ticket sales currently stand at $319 million globally, putting the film on track to become one of the lowest-grossing Marvel movies of all time.
The decision to pivot to theatrical release also comes only a year after the studio, with a few notable exceptions like the recent hit 'Free Guy,' premiered many of its releases both in theaters and on Disney+ in so-called 'day and date' releases.
Currently Warner Bros., which has released all of its 2021 films simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max, pledged to revert to exclusive theatrical runs next year.
That has shrunk to 45 days or less for most studios before appearing on a streaming service.
Hollywood is paying close attention to Disney, which is a dominant player in the movie industry that accounted for 38 percent of domestic moviegoing in 2019.
Cinema owners have been hoping for a return to form after the boost in streaming services lead to diminished ticket sales.
And, lately, the box-office returns - even during the recent coronavirus surge - have been promising.
Disney's Shang-Chi And The Legend of the Ten Rings brought home an impressive $90 million at the box office last weekend, breaking Labor Day opening records and making it the second-biggest debut of the pandemic.
The film has broken the Labor Day opening record last held by the 2007 film Halloween, which opened with $30.5 million, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The only other film with a larger three day opening weekend during the pandemic was Black Widow with $80 million, according to NPR.
Many in the industry have taken Shang-Chi's success as proof of the power of a theater-only release, and a positive sign for the fall movie season.
Sony Pictures immediately moved up the release of its Marvel sequel, 'Venom: Let There Be Carnage.'