Disney to Skip the French Theatrical Release of ‘Strange World’ in Response to Strict Streaming Regulations

French exhibitors are reeling from Disney’s sudden (but not unexpected) decision to forgo the French theatrical release of the upcoming Walt Disney Animation Studios film “Strange World” in favor of sending the film straight to Disney+, according to Variety.

Disney has its reasons for making this decision. Wall Street is keeping a sharp eye on new Disney+, Hulu, and other streaming service sign-ups. Currently, Disney has more to lose should sign-ups decrease due to an extended period between theatrical release and streaming.

This is exactly where France comes into the picture. The country has a mandatory four month window between which a movie can be released theatrically and when it can be added to a streaming service for pay-VOD, and a whopping 17 months for subscription-based streaming, with the intention of boosting local theaters. The law was introduced in January, with France joining Portugal as one of the very few countries to have such regulations in Europe.

Disney stated that the “new, cumbersome media chronology is anti-consumer, ignoring how behavior has evolved over the last several years and putting us at increased risk for piracy.”

Disney’s decision could have disastrous effects on the French film market. Disney films account for a whopping 23.4% market share of the box office.

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Disney’s decision has led to more talks on the subject of cutting down this four-month window in favor of finding a compromise that both the French government and studios can benefit from. The standard since the pandemic has largely shifted to around 45 days between theatrical release and streaming.

Read more on Disney’s upcoming film “Strange World,” which releases November 23.

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