“Strange World” Releasing Straight To Disney+ In France To Avoid Theatrical Distribution Regulations

The Walt Disney Company is foregoing a traditional theatrical release of the upcoming Walt Disney Animation Studios feature, Strange World, in France to get around “cumbersome” and “anti-consumer” distribution rules in the market, according to Deadline. 

What’s Happening:

  • Disney is set to release their upcoming new animated film, Strange World, this Thanksgiving. However, in France, that release will be direct to Disney+ to get around the country’s strict streaming video on demand regulations.
  • The decision to forego a theatrical release is seen as the Walt Disney Company taking a stance versus the country’s recently revised windowing system which the studio calls “cumbersome” and “anti-consumer.”
  • France updated their streaming regulatory windows earlier this year, shortening the span between theatrical and the market’s long-held 36-month SVOD waiting period, but Disney was not among the signatories of an agreement between TV channels, streamers and the film industry. Reportedly, neither was Amazon.
  • Currently, any film that Disney releases into theaters in France must wait 17 months after their debut in cinemas to go to Disney Plus, and for a period of just five months. At 22 months, they come off the service and go to free-to-air channels for a 14-month exclusive window before reverting to Disney Plus again after 36 months.
  • By releasing Strange World directly to Disney+, the film will be immediately available on the streaming service and will not have to abide by the chronology regulated under a theatrical release.
  • A Disney spokesperson said in a statement earlier, “Strange World will be available to all Disney+ subscribers in France, foregoing a French cinematic release. While we support French cinema — and have for decades — the new, cumbersome media chronology is anti-consumer, ignoring how behavior has evolved over the last several years and puts us at increased risk for piracy. We will continue to make decisions on a film-by-film basis and according to each market’s unique conditions.”
  • The French National Cinema Federation responded to Disney by saying that the exhibition was being “instrumentalized” in the matter which it said is “totally unacceptable and terribly unfair.” They invited Disney to participate in meetings to be organized within the framework of the clause provided by the agreement that was signed in January. It also called on public authorities to allow a rapid resolution of this “major problem… by leading a conciliation between the stakeholders, and by avoiding making spectators and cinemas the collateral victims of these disputes.”
  • The teaser trailer for Strange World dropped earlier this week (not in France, however) and Deadline reports that the film is set for a theatrical release in all the other markets, including a Thanksgiving theatrical debut domestically. Though it should be noted, that does not appear in the teaser trailer.  Directed by Don Hall (Big Hero 6, Raya And The Last Dragon) and co-director/writer Qui Nguyen (Raya And The Last Dragon), the movie journeys into an uncharted and treacherous land where fantastical creatures await the legendary Clades, a family of explorers whose differences threaten to topple their latest — and by far — most crucial mission.

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