Disney to consider releasing new films at home despite Universal’s row with Cineworld

House of Mouse to evaluate each film ‘on a case-by-case basis’ before making a decision

Artemis Fowl - Teaser Trailer

Disney has joined Universal in saying it will consider releasing films at home once lockdown ends.

Despite Universal facing fierce opposition from cinema chains including Cineworld and Odeon, who will no longer show the studio’s films if they do not respect the 90-day theatrical exclusivity, Disney acknowledged it “may have to make some changes” to its overall theatrical strategy going forward.

“We very much believe in the value of the theatrical experience,” Disney CEO Bob Chapek said in an earnings call on Tuesday (5 May). “But we also believe that either because of changing and evolving consumer dynamics or because of certain situations like Covid, we may have to make some changes to that overall strategy.”

He continued: “We’re going to evaluate each of our movies as a case-by-case situation, as we are doing during this coronavirus situation.”

Disney is testing both options out in the coming months. Artemis Fowl is now bypassing a theatrical release altogether and will be available to buy at home on 12 June, while the live-action version of Mulan is set to be one of the first new films to be released in cinemas should they re-open in time for its 24 July release date.

Universal prompted backlash from cinema chains after​ NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell told Wall Street Journal that home release will be a part of its strategy once the pandemic ends.

“The question is, when we come out of this, what is going to be the model?” he said. “I would expect that consumers will return to theatres and we will be part of that.”

Following Shell’s initial comments, which AMC Theatres branded “unacceptable”, Cineworld said: “Today we make it clear again that we will not be showing movies that fail to respect the windows as it does not make any economic sense for us.”

Universal is the studio that distributes the Fast & Furious, Jurassic World and Halloween franchises. Cineworld’s decision means it will not be showing any future films from these series if they’re also released at home.

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