During the Q&A at Disney’s annual share holder meeting today, a girl scout from Peoria, AZ took the mic to ask Chapek, “My girl scout troop just finished its cookie sale and we planned to use some of the funds to rent a theater to see Raya like we have done with other Pixar and Disney films over the years. But our local theater chain said they are not getting to show the film because they couldn’t work out a deal with the Walt Disney Company. So my question is, how does the Walt Disney Company decide which theaters get to show the films it releases?”
Harkins is one of the theater chains in the Peoria, AZ market that didn’t play Raya over Disney’s stiff rental terms. We broke the story last week that Cinemark, Harkins and Canada’s Cineplex refused to play Raya after Disney wouldn’t budge on their terms for the feature which was also available to Disney+ subscribers at the extra cost of $30.
In response to the girl scout’s question, Chapek’s response was…well, he gave her the company line:
“We agree with you that Raya is a fantastic film and the audience scores universally have been really spectacular. So we are thrilled with what our creative teams have been able to come up with [in] Raya. In terms of what films play in what theaters, that’s really a function of the exhibitors that own those theaters and whether or not they agree to the terms that the Walt Disney company lays out in terms of the economics for those particular theaters.”
Deadline heard that Disney’s rental terms for Raya required a two-week minimum play with a scale that starts at a 50% rental should the movie gross between $0 and $37.5M, and then 51% if the domestic gross finals between $37.5M and $50M. Warner Bros has eased some of its rental terms for exhibition as they compete with the studio’s streaming service, HBO Max, which is making the studio’s 2021 theatrical slate available to subscribers for free. Disney’s response to those exhibitors asking for a deal: If you don’t like the terms, don’t play the film.
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Chapek continued to explain to the girl scout, “So, we hope that all theaters would agree to play Disney films but in the cases that they chose not to we’ve been able to make our films available also on Disney+ under the premiere access window, so one way or another…we’ve got the guarantee that our consumers and our viewers and fans like yourself can see the films whether the local theater is playing that film or not. But we hope to be able to in the future have all theaters playing all Disney films.”
The girl scout wasn’t finished in quizzing Chapek, adding, “And one little request, release Mulan and Soul to theaters so everyone can see them on the big screen. They are amazing films.”
Both films were made available on Disney+, with Mulan at the extra cost of $30 to the streaming service’s subscribers.
As we recently told you, Chapek duly confirmed today that Marvel’s Black Widow remains on track for a May 7 theatrical release.