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Disney Will Use Longer Theatrical Windows for Upcoming Animated Films to Bring Families Back to Cinemas

David Satin

Disney’s strategies for getting its financial situation under control are becoming more clear every day. The latest details on the company’s new rules for enhancing profitability and curbing losses come from the Hollywood Reporter.

THR reports that Disney will likely extend theatrical windows for two of its upcoming animated features: “Elemental,” which is due out June 16, and “Wish,” which is scheduled to hit theaters on Nov. 22. By keeping the movies in cinemas longer, Disney is hoping to bring families back to the theatrical experience, which will help the company boost its profits more effectively than quickly shifting the movies to streaming on Disney+ would allow.

That means that fans should expect to see fewer cases like “Strange World” and “Lightyear,” both of which came to Disney+ less than 50 days after they debuted in theaters.

Disney is, of course, not the only major media company that’s re-thinking its theatrical windowing strategies these days. Every major outlet with a streaming service is being forced to pivot as the COVID-19 pandemic wanes, and the market is no longer rewarding gaudy subscriber numbers and hefty content spends that lead to big losses on balance sheets.

But Disney is in a more precarious situation than some, thanks to its recent reliance on expensive content from franchises like Marvel and Star Wars to bring customers into Disney+. The company is cutting back on Marvel series intended for Disney+, with an increased focus on quality over quantity.

The company has already shown its willingness to extend theatrical windows to enhance revenues. Recent Marvel releases have seen theatrical windows between 70-80 days, which is weeks longer than the minimum of 45 days that studios and theater operators have otherwise operated under. That trend will likely continue with the new “Ant-Man” movie, which Marvel fans shouldn’t expect to see on Disney+ before late spring.

There was good news in THR’s report for Star Wars fans. Disney has been quiet in regards to plans for new Star Wars films ever since it announced that Patty Jenkins’ “Rogue Squadron” was being put on the shelf. At the time, that was the company’s only Star Wars film scheduled for a theatrical release, but Disney will announce a new slate of Star Wars movies at its upcoming Celebration event in April.

It may not be the best news for Disney fans who would rather watch its movies from home, but extending theatrical windows for its movies is likely in the company’s best interests. Theaters have to pay studios to show their movies, and split ticket revenues with them as well, making theatrical releases highly lucrative so long as audiences actually go see them.


Disney+ is a video streaming service with over 13,000 series and films from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, The Muppets, and more. It is available in 61 countries and 21 languages. It is notable for its popular original series like “The Mandalorian,” “Ms. Marvel,” “Loki,” “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” and “Andor.”

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If you want all of Disney streaming services, they have two options for The Disney Bundle. The Disney Bundle Basic includes Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ (with Ads) for $7.99 / month. The Disney Bundle Premium (without Ads) for $19.99 / month.

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The service includes 25+ original series, 10+ original movies, 7,500 past episodes, 100 recent movies, and 400 library titles including the entire Disney Vault.

You can see the full list of available Disney, Disney Channel, Star Wars, Pixar, Marvel, Nat Geo shows and movies, or all available Disney+ content by checking out our Disney+ Streaming Movie List.

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