Disney will ease its way back into theaters with the release of Free Guy and Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings later this year. But the company is abandoning the typical 90-day release window for these movies, opting for a 45-day theatrical runtime before the titles move to Disney+ and digital rental services.
Most movies make the bulk of their revenue within a few weeks of their release. By cutting its theatrical window to just 45 days, Disney will still make its box office profits, but new movies won’t lose their hype as they arrive on Disney+. The move should help Disney maximize box office and streaming profits, or at the very least, give Disney+ customers a reason to stick around as they wait for a popular theatrical release to arrive on streaming services.
But Disney isn’t alone. Several corporations, including Warner Bros (HBO Max), Paramount (Paramount+), and NBCUniversal (Peacock) have announced plans to shorten the theatrical window for upcoming movies. Most of these theatrical windows run from 30 to 45 days, but some NBCUniversal movies that open to less than $50 million will leave theaters after just 17 days.
It seems that these corporations, which rushed to enter the streaming game while theaters were closed, are now forced to juggle the box office and their respective streaming platforms. Disney+ reported lower-than-expected subscriber counts during its Q2 earnings call earlier this week, a sign that Disney (and the corporations that are following its game plan) may need to rethink their approach to streaming.
Source: Disney via The Verge