45 day theatrical window

During today’s investor call, Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Chapek announced that two of the company’s upcoming movies, 20th Century Studios’ action comedy Free Guy and Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, will receive a 45 day exclusive theatrical window.

Disney is taking a similar approach to Paramount in this regard: their cross-town rivals announced earlier this year that big-ticket films like A Quiet Place Part II and Top Gun: Maverick will be streaming on Paramount+ 45 days after they debut in theaters. Looks like a 45 day window is slowly becoming the new normal in Hollywood.

To be clear, Chapek didn’t specifically reveal that Shang-Chi and Free Guy would be available for free to Disney+ subscribers after 45 days, or even that the films would go to that service under the Premier Access umbrella which charges an extra price on top of the monthly subscription fee. There’s a chance these movies could end up going to some other PVOD platforms first, before eventually ending up on Disney+ weeks or even months later. But the big news is that Disney is establishing 45 days as a precedent, which is half of what the traditional theatrical exclusivity window used to be in the days before the coronavirus pandemic upended the entertainment industry.

I’ll wrap things up with this tweet from writer Scott Mendelson, who is one of the smartest analysts in the game:

It’s probably too early to be able to accurately predict audience trends as we slowly begin to emerge from the pandemic in the U.S., but Scott raises an interesting point. As viewers’ entertainment options have been splintered even further over the past 14 months, we’re all extremely curious to see what the state of moviegoing will be as vaccinated folks start to feel more comfortable with returning to theaters. Will there be a big burst, and then a huge drop-off? Have people developed such a longing for the big screen experience that they’ll make visiting the theater part of their regular habits? Something in between? If you have your own predictions, leave ’em in the comments.

Free Guy debuts on August 13, 2021 and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings hits theaters on September 3, 2021.

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