Disney has released a number of movies since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in a variety of ways.
Some films have gone straight to Disney+, others have had a combined release between Disney+ and theaters, and some are set to be released solely in theaters in the future. Recently, Disney’s CEO commented about how the company makes their decisions regarding the release of films and talked about the arrangements it has made with its stars.
The release style for Disney’s films has become an issue of contention as Scarlett Johansson has brought a lawsuit against Disney surrounding the impact of its decision to release Black Widow in theaters and Disney+ (through Premier Access) at the same time.
In reference to Disney’s films, during today’s third quarter earnings call for fiscal year 2021, CEO Bob Chapek noted at the beginning of the earnings call that Disney adopted a 3-prong strategy for releases: theatrical releases, direct to Disney+, and the hybrid of theatrical releases with Disney+ Premier Access. Chapek noted that he and Bob Iger, “along with the distribution team, determined this was the right strategy to enable [them] to reach the broadest possible audience.”
Today, one individual also noted that the pandemic has had a big impact on streaming and asked how the company thinks about the success of a film, and how to attract and compensate talent.
In response, Bob Chapek, Disney’s CEO, noted that the world has been disrupted by COVID-19 and that they’re trying to react to a very fluid situation. Chapek said that he was grateful they could take a lot of titles to theaters and Disney+ (through Premier Access).
During the conference, Chapek also said “We’ve said from the very beginning that we value flexibility in being able to make…last minute calls.” Chapek shared that the decisions regarding how to release a film will be “made on film by film basis based on global marketplace conditions and consumer behavior.”
When discussing talent compensation, Chapek noted that, just as they’ve done before, they’ve figured out ways to fairly compensate their talent so that everyone feels satisfied, no matter the business model.
Chapek said that since COVID-19 started, Disney has entered into hundreds of talent arrangements and that, by and large, they’ve gone smoothly. Chapek noted that he expects that will be the case moving forward. Chapek did not, however, directly mention anything about the Black Widow lawsuit.
He also shared that they’re trying to do the best thing for all constituents and make sure that everyone in the value chain feels like they’re having their contractual commitments reached.
We’ll continue to keep an eye out for more updates and let you know what we find.