Disney Plus Shovels More Dirt on Dying Movie Theaters

Disney Plus Shovels More Dirt on Dying Movie Theaters

In case you haven’t heard, movie theaters aren’t doing so well and big streamers like Disney Plus figures they need to adapt. In enterprise commerce terminology, that means roughly, “Screw those theaters. If they’re going to fade away, we need a new business model and eventually step on their corpses to see the horizon.”

(Hey, it’s Halloween month. We need to wax a little morbid, right?)

In short, Disney Plus executives are preparing themselves for life after movie theaters. And that is so…damn…sad! Yet, when was the last time you saw Disney give two turds over the not-yet-dead of some other business?

This major shakeup is not going to be the death knell for movie theaters, as AMC Theaters and Cinemark are still trying to fight COVID-19. You know, unlike Cineworld and Regal Movies as of this moment. #RIP

Disney Plus: Going With the “Stream”

Disney Plus is about to help bury movie theaters following COVID-19 with major shake-up.
Credit: Catherine Falls Commercial 

First, it was Hamilton. It was just an innocent live recording that could have been a movie but Disney Plus gave it to their streaming audience. Then, came the announcement of Mulan avoiding the Coronavirus delays and go straight to VOD for “a premium audience.”

(Definition: Pay $30 or you ain’t seeing it until December.)

And only a few days ago, we discovered Pixar’s latest effort, Soul starring the voices of Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Phylicia Rashad, and Angela Bassett, would avoid the cancellation Olympics and hit Disney Plus post haste. This is not looking good for movie theaters, but chin-up, that vaccine is coming, right?

Well, just in case, CNBC reports that Disney is still on course for global entertainment domination as the House of Mouse is “restructuring its media and entertainment divisions, as streaming becomes the most important facet of the company’s media business.”

And much to Mickey’s greedy ess-eating grin, shares of The Walt Disney Co. “jumped more than 5% during after-hours trading following the announcement.”

Yeah, that sound you hear is everyone at AMC Theaters checking their 401K. Check out what Disney Plus is doing with this news…

Disney Plus Making Cinephiles Sad

Illustration: GQ.com, Nov. 2019

When Disney Plus got into the streaming competition, they knew their focus would be direct-to-consumer (D2C) but they haven’t been too entirely successful doing that. Most geeks have seen the Marvel catalog. Many families have seen all Pixar and Disney have to offer. And then, National Geographic have some pretty amazing, but not watched much, stuff.

In short, they need more content to survive against the likes of Netflix, Prime Video, and Hulu. Centralizing a model into a single hub for content, ad sales, and all things Disney pretty much shores up that gamble.

In the meantime, Mickey is mooning all movie theater companies. Was this all a response to COVID-19? Of course it was, even though Disney Plus CEO Bob Chapek doesn’t agree.

I would not characterize it as a response to Covid. I would say Covid accelerated the rate at which we made this transition, but this transition was going to happen anyway. We are tilting the scale pretty dramatically [toward streaming]

Bob Chapek to CNBC’s Julia Boorstin on “Closing Bell”, October 2020

Is Disney going to forego launching its films in theaters for VOD exclusively? No way. They would be stupid to do that considering they own two of the most necessary to theater screen franchises ever in Marvel and Star Wars. However, all the muscle Disney has will focus on streaming first.

Not the six-week theatrical run. And not the long lines at the cinema for all the adoring fans. Now, they will put on their VOD headset equipped with VR so they can imagine just how close they can get to your cash.

[Consumers] are going to lead us…Right now they are voting with their pocketbooks, and they are voting very heavily toward Disney+. We want to make sure that we are going the way the consumers want us to go.

Bob Chapek to CNBC’s Julia Boorstin on “Closing Bell”, October 2020

If by “consumers,” you mean “bougie stockholders who believe the last time they were actually inside a theater to see a film was during the Reagan administration” then yes, Bob… that is what your “consumers” are saying…


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I write for a living, among other things in the digital journalism and analytics universe. So I'm a little like a nerd unicorn. But no bronies. Move along.
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