The giant Disney will come out strangeworld, his end-of-year cartoon, in dark rooms all over the world… But not in France, where we will have to wait for his arrival on the platform of the firm with big ears. An untenable position for operators.
When Disney is unhappy, it makes it known. And rages. Disney has decided to deprive French theaters of its next animated film, Strange World (Avalonia in French), to broadcast this blockbuster directly on its platform at the end of 2022, the firm said on Wednesday June 8.
His end-of-year cartoon, acclaimed by families during the Christmas holidays, will therefore not be shown in French cinemas. A sanction against France. The American group would like our country to reform its media chronology – which governs the dates on which films can be broadcast in streaming and on television in particular – in order to obtain more flexibility for the distribution of its films in theaters and on Disney +.
The firm with big ears must wait 17 months before being able to exploit their films on their platform. Far too long for this Hollywood giant. “It is the consequence of the chronology of the media as practiced in France which we consider unfair, restrictive and unsuited to the expectations of our audiences”, told the echoes the French president of Disney, Hélène Etzi. So, in the meantime, they deprive the spectators of Strange World on the big screen.
In other countries, films can generally be released on platforms a month and a half after their theatrical release. Not in the land of cultural exception. The American entertainment giant also complains of an exclusivity window of only “five months” before seeing its film switch to free channels.
The cinema remains in crisis. Despite some bright spots linked to school vacation periods or the release of blockbusters like Spider-Man: No Way Home Where Dying can wait , the recovery in cinema attendance remains patchy at the end of the pandemic. Since the reopening of theaters in May 2021, 150 million admissions have been recorded, i.e. a drop in attendance of 28% compared to the 2017-2019 period, according to CNC estimates. In April 2022, the first month without any health restrictions, attendance rose painfully to -23%.
“You cannot use business to solve an institutional problem»
This is why this decision annoys operators all the more. The National Federation of French Cinemas (FNCF), expressed its dissatisfaction in a press release: “The FNCF stands up with the greatest firmness against this decision. It asks Disney to reconsider this choice and invites it to participate in the meetings that the CNC will organize within the framework of the meeting clause provided for in the agreement of January 24, 2022. It calls on the public authorities to allow a rapid resolution of this major problem for our sector by leading a conciliation between the stakeholders, and by avoiding that the spectators and the cinemas are the collateral victims of these disputes.
Marc Olivier Sebbag, general delegate of the FNCF, does not hide his exasperation. “Disney uses cinemas to influence its commercial negotiations”, he believes. Thus, according to him, the cinemas would be instrumentalized in an individual and economic conflict, over which they have no control. “The decision does not [Disney] not fit and they take out the atomic weapon. It’s a form of blackmail.” reacts Richard Patry, president of the national federation of French cinemas, in The Parisian .
Hoping that this decision is not definitive, Marc Olivier Sebbag insists on the frustration of the exhibitors because “beyond the disappointment, the problem encountered by Disney cannot be solved by the cinemas themselves and we cannot use business to solve an institutional problem“, he explains. The dark rooms would be according to him only the collateral victims of this disagreement.
“It is not normal that this film is not released in France.reacts disillusioned the general delegate of the FNCF, who denounces “absolutely unacceptable methods”. French cinemas are slowly recovering from the Covid crisis and the three to five million admissions planned for Strange World, is a significant loss. But this strategy of only putting movies on its platform is also risky for Disney. “It’s a decision that costs them dearly, accurate to Parisian Alain Le Diberder, media economist. The company makes 40-50% of its revenue from the box office. A Disney+ subscriber costs around one euro. While a film in theaters is 5 euros for Disney. And a film in theaters is a lot of derivative products.»
This is not the first time that the American firm has released a cartoon directly on Disney+. In December 2020, the film Mulan had been put on the platform without going through the dark rooms breakage. But this decision, taken in the midst of a health crisis, concerned all the countries of the globe.
Strange World must be screened between June 13 and 17 in Annecy, the biggest animation festival. “They will present a film which will not be released in France? We walk on the head», still indignant Richard Patry in the columns of the Parisian. Despite everything, Marc Olivier Sebbag tries to remain confident: “Disney’s previous deprogrammings were worldwide and known one or two months before the film’s release, there we have six months to find a solution.” The new Minister of Culture, Rima Abdul-Malak, who sticks to her duty of reserve before the legislative elections, has not yet reacted on this thorny issue.