Has Disney pulled a Darth Vader, choking movie theater owners in an attempt to shake them down for more profit from the next Star Wars movie?
According to the Wall Street Journal, Disney is making unprecedented requests of theater owners and some are forming a Resistance of their own.
Before exhibitors can begin screening “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” this December, they must first commit to a set of top-secret terms that numerous theater owners say are the most onerous they have ever seen. Disney will receive about 65% of ticket revenue from the film, a new high for a Hollywood studio.
Disney is demanding that theaters show The Last Jedi in their biggest auditoriums for at least a month, and failure to comply could result in an additional 5% penalty.
BizJournals.com elaborates on how studios usually split the box office take with theaters…
Usually the studios take more of the box office at the beginning of a film’s run and less further down the line. The average split between distributors and exhibitors works out to be 55/45 or up to 60/40 for blockbusters.
Keeping The Last Jedi on the biggest screens for over a month means that there won’t be room for competing films like the latest Jumanji or or Pitch Perfect 3… and that might be the point.
Slashfilm notes that Disney’s terms will prevent smaller theaters from playing more movies this holiday season.
Well, we all know the holiday season is prime moviegoing time, and tiny one or two-screen theaters in small towns – like Lee Akin’s one-screen independent theater in Elkader, Iowa – would actually be hurt by keeping The Last Jedi in theaters for four weeks and not being able to screen other releases on those screens instead.
While The Last Jedi is all but guaranteed to be a massive hit, some theaters might actually decline to show it so as to avoid these issues.
Will theaters pass the buck?
With theater prices surpassing $10 in many areas, it’s very possible that theater owners may increase ticket prices this holiday season to offset the cost of running major blockbusters like The Last Jedi. While it may sound like a good short-term solution, in the longterm it would likely harm theater attendance which is already in a major slump.
Banking on a Billion
Why is Disney being so tough with theaters? Likely because The Last Jedi is money in the bank, and Disney could use another billion dollar box office hit. By taking in a higher share of the (almost guaranteed) profits and simultaneously blocking the competition from prime real estate, Disney’s Machiavellian move could potentially result in the biggest box office hit of all time.
But that’s just a theory.
I doubt this will result in anyone boycotting the movie as a matter of principal.
I mean, it’s Star Wars. Anyone who’s anyone will still be there opening weekend.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens on December 15, 2017.[Source: Wall Street Journal]
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