Disney’s ‘Cruella,’ ‘Black Widow’ Bowing Simultaneously on Premier Access and in Theaters; Pixar’s ‘Luca’ Going Straight to Disney+

Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution March 23 announced new details for Walt Disney Studios’ upcoming slate of theatrical movies, including live-action Cruella, Marvel Studios’ Black Widow, and Pixar’s Luca, among others.

Following the recent $29.99 Premier Access (PVOD) releases of Mulan and Raya and the Last Dragon, both Cruella and Black Widow will launch simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access in most Disney+ markets on May 28 and on July 9, respectively.

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Similarly to the Christmas Day launch of Academy Award-nominated Soul, Pixar’s Luca will stream directly in homes worldwide exclusively on Disney+ beginning Friday, June 18, as a special offering to kick-off the summer season.  In international markets where Disney+ is not yet available, the film will be released theatrically, with premiere dates to be announced.

“Today’s announcement reflects our focus on providing consumer choice and serving the evolving preferences of audiences,” Kareem Daniel, chairman of Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution, said in a statement. “By leveraging a flexible distribution strategy in a dynamic marketplace that is beginning to recover from the global pandemic, we will continue to employ the best options to deliver [Disney movies].”

Additional shifted theatrical release dates include: Free Guy on Aug. 13; Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings on Sept. 3; The King’s Man on Dec. 22; Deep Water on Jan. 14, 2022; and Death on the Nile on Feb. 11, 2022.

Disney’s ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’ Remains Atop Domestic Box Office Concurrent With Premier Access in the Home

Disney’s animated Raya and the Last Dragon continues its strong pandemic box office run, reportedly generating an estimated $5.2 million in ticket sales across more than 2,200 domestic screens for the weekend ended March 21. The title has generated about $24.8 million ($71.6 worldwide) since its March 3 bow concurrently with premium VOD ($29.99) availability on Disney+. Raya is Disney’s second PVOD release following live-action Mulan.

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Among the weekend’s top-performing theatrical titles in the U.S., the usual suspects continue to resonate, including Warner Bros. Pictures animation release Tom and Jerry with $3.8 million ($32 million total; $70+ million global); Lionsgate’s Chaos Walking generated $2.2 million ($10 million; $15 million), followed by the studio’s newcomer, The Courier, starring Rachel Brosnahan and Benedict Cumberbatch, the latter as a businessman-turned-Cold War-spy, with $2 million. Universal Pictures/DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods: A New Age continues to shine, selling $620,000 in tickets ($55.2 million; $159.7 million) despite being available across multiple retail channels.

Oscar nominees A Promising Woman and Minari saw weekend ticket sales of $195,000 and $306,000, respectively, bring the movies’ total theatrical revenue to $5.7 million and $1.3 million.

The weekend saw most of the U.S. exhibition market re-open for business, albeit at 25% capacity (or 100 people per screen) due to ongoing government restrictions.

“This weekend showed solid results from holdovers, demonstrating the revenue generating horsepower of opening the biggest box-office market in North America,” Paul Dergarabedian, media analyst with Comscore, said in a statement. “Eager movie fans in Los Angeles showed up in solid numbers to enjoy the big screen experience once again.”

 

‘Raya and the Last Dragon’ Repeats Atop Domestic Weekend Box Office Concurrent With Disney+ Access

Walt Disney Studios’ strategy of simultaneously releasing films in theaters and on its branded subscription streaming service, at an additional cost, appears to be working.

Despite its availability on Disney+ at a $29.99 purchase price, Raya and the Last Dragon topped the domestic box office for the second weekend March 14 with a reported $5.5 million in projected ticket sales from more than 2,100 screens nationwide. That’s down just 35% from $8.5 million in domestic ticket sales in the previous-week period. So far, the animated Raya has generated $15.8 million in U.S. ticket sales and $52.6 million globally since debuting March 5.

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The remaining top theatrical releases mirrored the previous weekend, with Warner Bros. Pictures’ Tom & Jerry generating $4.1  million ($26 million total) from 2,434 screens; Chaos Walking (Lionsgate) with $2.25 million ($6.9 million total) from 1,995 screens; and Boogie (Universal/Focus Features) with $730,000 ($2.2 million) from 1,272 screens.

Impressively, The Croods: A New Age (Universal/DreamWorks Animation) continues to resonate across multiple platforms with $530,000 ($54.3 million) in weekend ticket sales. The title, which was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc Feb. 23, currently ranks as the top-selling packaged-media release in 2021, according to The NPD Group’s VideoScan tracking service.

In the meantime, with Los Angeles area theaters slated to re-open next weekend at 25% capacity, the box office is expected to continue a slow but steady return to normalcy as moviegoers get vaccinated. More than 101 million arms have received the COVID-19 vaccine through March 12, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The domestic box office was up 16.5% last weekend (March 5-7) from the previous-year period with $22.95 million in revenue; and up 166% Feb. 26-28 with $19.74 million.

Disney’s ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’ Tops Biggest Pandemic Weekend Box Office Since Christmas

Disney’s new theatrical/Premier Access release, Raya and the Last Dragon, topped the weekend domestic box office with a projected $8.6 million in ticket sales through March 7. That’s slightly more than the film generated in China at $8.4 million. The movie is tracking toward more than $26 million worldwide. The domestic box office topped $23.1 million — the largest tally since Christmas.

With some New York City movie theaters re-opening, the tally underwhelmed when compared to the previous-weekend’s $14.1 debut of Warner Bros. Pictures live-action/animation hybrid Tom & Jerry, which also bowed simultaneously on HBO Max. The movie took in $6.6 million in the No. 2 spot; $23 million since launching.

Lionsgate’s fantasy Chaos Walking, starring Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley, rounded out the podium with a reported $3.8 million — a far cry from the movie’s reported $100 million production budget.

Raya also underperformed compared with the opening of Universal Pictures’ The Croods: A New Age with $9.7 million last Thanksgiving, and Warner’s Wonder Woman 1984 with $16.7 million over Christmas weekend. Raya was hamstrung as Cinemark, the No. 3 exhibitor in the country, refused to screen the movie without a renegotiated distribution deal with Disney.

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Indeed, Raya was concurrently available to Disney+ subscribers for $29.99, the same price of Disney’s first Premier Access release, Mulan, over the Labor Day weekend. Disney has not reported financial details of that direct-to-consumer retail release. Notably, Disney keeps 100% of all Premier Access revenue while splitting theatrical revenue with exhibitors.

On a March 1 virtual investor event, Disney CEO Bob Chapek said the studio still believes in the theatrical business model but added the the consumer dynamic is changing.

“I think the consumer is probably more impatient than they’ve ever been before because now they’ve had the luxury of an entire year of getting [movies] at home pretty much when they want them,” Chapek said. “I’m not sure there’s a going back, but we certainly don’t want to cut the legs off a theatrical exhibition run.”

Disney Launching ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’ in Theaters and Disney+ Next March

Disney will launch the feature film Raya and the Last Dragon in theaters and on the Disney+ SVOD platform in March 2021. It marks the first time Disney is launching a new theatrical release on its branded streaming platform and in theaters concurrently.

It will be available on Disney+ as a Premier Access add-on for $29.99.

The company previously moved the live-action Mulan remake from its theatrical slate and into the home via premium VOD over the Labor Day weekend. Pending theatrical release Soul is now bowing on Disney+ on Christmas Day.

Raya and the Last Dragon is a computer-animated adventure fantasy film produced by Walt Disney Pictures and Walt Disney Animation Studios. Directed by Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada, the film is produced by Osnat Shurer and Peter Del Vecho and was written by Qui Nguyen and Adele Lim. The film features the voices of Kelly Marie Tran as the lead character, Raya, and Awkwafina as Sisu, the last dragon.

According to the Disney website, “Long ago, in the fantasy world of Kumandra, humans and dragons lived together in harmony. But when sinister monsters known as the Druun threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, those same monsters have returned and it’s up to a lone warrior, Raya, to track down the last dragon in order to finally stop the Druun for good. However, along her journey, she’ll learn that it’ll take more than dragon magic to save the world — it’s going to take trust as well.”