Skip to Content

IMAX Exec Thinks Disney, Others Will Ditch Simultanous Streaming & Theatrical Movie Premieres

Jeff Kotuby

Despite strong showings from multiple films indicating otherwise, IMAX CEO Rich Gelfond thinks Disney, among other streaming companies, will ditch the dual launch and return to the traditional theatrical window release system.

During his company’s Q2 2021 earnings call, Gelfond says that Disney’s decision to release Black Widow as a Premier Access title on Disney+ and in theaters on the same day may have hurt it in the long run.

“The combination of PVOD … significantly affected the box office at the end of the day,” Gelfond said. “It’s hard to quantify it, but some statistics I find interesting, are that (Universal’s summer release F9), which uses the more traditional distribution model, will gross around $700 million worldwide at the end of its run, and Black Widow will gross around half of that. I have no doubt a lot of money was left on the table, but I can’t perfectly say what it is.”

Disney+

Disney+ is an ad-free video streaming service that offers exclusive series and films from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, The Muppets, and more.

The Disney streaming service costs $7.99 / month, or $79.99 / year ($6.67 / month). You can bundle it with Hulu and ESPN+ for just $13.99 a month (cheaper than Netflix).

The app supports unlimited downloads, four simultaneous streamers, up to 7 profiles, 4K streaming, and includes hundreds of avatars.

The service includes 25+ new original series, 10+ original movies, 7,500 past episodes, 100 recent movies, and 400 library titles including the entire Disney Vault. You can stream original series like “The Mandalorian”, “Falcon and the Winter Soldier”, “Loki”, and “Monsters at Work.”

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

Sign Up

Get Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ for just $13.99 a month ($7 savings).

Gelfond later again went back to Disney’s and Black Widow, saying that he believes companies will head back to theaters once a sense of normalcy is restored.

“I know that every studio has sort of seen the same data that Disney has seen,” Gelfond said, “and I think what Disney did was experiment during the pandemic, which is what they said they were going to do, and I remember (Disney CEO) Bob Chapek saying that. When times are normal, he thinks theatrical exclusivity is important. And I think when he looks at his data and the pandemic is in the rearview mirror, he’s going to come to the conclusion everyone else does, which is the way to maximize value is to have a theatrical window.”

In the short term, however, Disney seems to be winning with its dual-release strategy. Black Widow made $60 million in Disney+ Premier Access sales, the most for any film on the service and will likely remain the gold standard barring an insane, unprecedented opening for Jungle Cruise, which releases in theaters and on Disney Premier Access on July 30. The film’s success on Disney+ Premier Access likely resulted in a $50-70 million loss for theaters, according to Wall Street firm Cowen.

  • Black Widow

    July 7, 2021

    Natasha Romanoff, also known as Black Widow, confronts the darker parts of her ledger when a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her past arises. Pursued by a force that will stop at nothing to bring her down, Natasha must deal with her history as a spy and the broken relationships left in her wake long before she became an Avenger.

  • F9

    May 19, 2021

    Dominic Toretto and his crew battle the most skilled assassin and high-performance driver they’ve ever encountered: his forsaken brother.

Much of what Gelfond says elicits mental images of him sitting in a rocking chair, shaking his fist at the sky, saying “they’ll be back, they’ll all be back,” but seeing how the numbers from two established, high-octane franchises are so wildly different, it may be a case where the market dictates what path the industry takes moving forward.

If Black Widow generated far less revenue than F9 due to its dual release, could Disney and other distribution companies move away from that model in favor of an exclusive, theatrical release? The IMAX head seems to think so.

“You used to sell on the same property five times,” Gelfond said. “Now, you’re selling it once and you’re bringing forward some revenues maybe, some windows when you’re selling it. But I don’t think they’re proof points yet, that, that’s a better model. And I think there’s lots of smart people, and I think they’ll come to the same conclusion.”

The Streamable

The Streamable helps you find the best way to stream anything. Follow our daily streaming news, in-depth reviews on streaming services & devices, and use our tools to find where your favorite content is streaming.

When you shop through our picks, we may earn a commission.

© 2021 FOMOPOP, Inc. 301 Poinciana Island Dr, Sunny Isles Beach, FL 33160 – Privacy Policy

AT&T TV Cash Back

Let us know your e-mail address to send your $75 Amazon Gift Card when you sign up for AT&T TV.

You will receive it ~2 weeks after you complete your first month of service.

Sling TV Cash Back

Let us know your e-mail address to send your $10 Amazon Gift Card when you sign up for Sling TV.

You will receive it ~2 weeks after you complete your first month of service.