February 6, 2020
Late last year, Disney CEO Bob Iger said the company was considering steps to expedite access to select studio box office titles into retail channels — a move that could shorten the venerable 90-day theatrical window for new-release movies.
No sooner had he said that, Iger reiterated his ongoing support affording exhibitors such as AMC Theatres and Regal exclusive access to movies upon release.
“We have a studio that is doing extremely well and a [release window] formula that is serving us really well in terms of its bottom line,” he said last November.
Indeed, any mention of shortening Disney’s massive theatrical gravy train for the sake of earlier access on DVD/Blu-ray Disc and digital, seemed shortsighted.
Disney ended 2019 with seven movies each generating more than $1 billion at the global box office. The studio ended the previous fiscal year with nearly $10 billion in ticket sales.
Regardless, the seeds of doubt had been sowed, prompting one analyst on the Feb. 4 Q1 fiscal call to ask Iger if he would “recommit to the theatrical window.”
“The theatrical window is working for this company, and we have no plans to adjust it for our business,” Iger responded.
With upstart Disney+ streaming service getting every original studio release, domestic exhibitors saw a near 7% decline in tickets sold in 2019 compared to 2018.
Iger suggested the analyst’s question was a reflection how other studios are positioning their films and distribution business.
“We’re not the only movie company,” he said. “I suspect that [questions about the window are] not due to us or either a lack of conviction on our part or any suspicion that we might not be telling the truth. It’s working for us, and we have no plans in the foreseeable future to change it.”