In late July, actress Scarlett Johansson accused Disney of breaching the contract regarding her compensation for the movie “Black Widow.” The actress had a guaranteed share in the profits from the cinema distribution of the film, meanwhile, this went not only to the cinemas, but also to the Disney + streaming service, as a result of which his revenues in traditional distribution significantly decreased. Johansson was to lose $ 50 million.
In response, Disney stated, inter alia, that “there is no basis for this action. The lawsuit is sad and disturbing because of the soulless disregard for the terrifying and long-lasting global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. ” Johansson’s response was to “shock”. There have been rumors that Emma Stone and Emily Blunt want to follow in the footsteps of the actress with their own lawsuits (for the hybrid distribution model of “Cruelli” and “Jungle Tours” respectively).
Now, Giantfreakinrobot.com reports that Disney has decided to terminate its cooperation with Johansson following the lawsuit. This means resignation from joint projects, because the actress was supposed to produce a film based on one of Disneyland’s attractions, “Tower of Terror”, in which she was also supposed to play.
“Sooner or later we will see Scarlett in Disney productions”
– It is natural that when the market consensus changes, such friction is inevitable – comments Michał Kozicki, former president of HBO Polska. – Until now, it was known exactly who earns what and when. The actors and their agencies knew how and in what area they could monetize their participation. The market situation did not force any sudden changes – he adds in an interview with Wirtualnemedia.pl.
But that’s a thing of the past. – Disney needs to adapt to changing market conditions. You have to understand that it is looking to monetize what it does. On the other hand, it is necessary to understand artists who feel that the division of values resulting from their involvement is not adequate – emphasizes the expert. And he adds that in the current dynamic situation, “some decisions of ecosystem participants may cause a sense of loss on the part of other participants”.
– Each side tries to build a negotiating position. I am convinced that sooner or later we will see Scarlett in Disney productions. I am calm about that – emphasizes Kozicki. In his opinion, both sides will reach a compromise because “they have too much to lose”. – Unless there is, for example, the aspect of discrimination against women, then we are no longer talking about business, but about a conflict of values - she reserves, however.
A machine without stars
The essayist and film critic Jakub Majmurek wonders what the reaction of Disney fans to the decision to stop working with Johansson might be. – We’ll see if Disney notices they’ve made a mistake, or if the entire massive Marvel franchise that has swept through cinemas over the past decade, bringing in billions of dollars in revenue and changing the movie landscape, can go on without stars because it doesn’t need stars. – states in an interview with Wirtualnemedia.pl.
As Majmurek reminds us, Hollywood was based on the “star system” from the very beginning. – There were big names. The audience loved them or hated them or both. They attracted audiences to cinemas and sold films. And perhaps this is changing now – emphasizes the critic. Majmurek cites a discussion of experts who are wondering whether the current dispute is not a border point, beyond which a new era awaits us. – Where no more movie stars, but intellectual property sells movies. Experts disagree as to whether this is actually the case, but maybe it’s Marvel’s characters and mythology that draw audiences to cinemas, not big names. Was Doctor Strange a success because he’s a Marvel comic character or because he was played by Benedict Cumberbatch? – he asks. It’s hard to tell if a Marvel crew like Johansson, Cumberbatch, Robert Downey Jr. Or Mark Ruffalo, he does not have his audience, who would come to theaters in less numbers if it were not for the stars embodying the characters. It is not known how this will be resolved. Does Hollywood really need movie stars? Majmurek wonders.
Closing cinema window
Will the gap between the release of films in theaters and their appearance on VoD platforms (cinema window) shrink or disappear? – I would bet that it will probably not be there or at least it will decrease. Digital media will dominate. There is no return to the world as it was. Everything was arranged there: each window was followed by another, everyone knew when who monetized who – estimates Michał Kozicki.
As a consequence, cinemas may become a more elite form of entertainment. – They will be more expensive, we will pay for elitism, the rooms will be of a better standard, there will be new services – Kozicki predicts.
According to Jakub Majmurek, the issue of theatrical window is very important for the future of the film industry. – Until now, the movie ecosystem has been based on the alternation of distribution windows: first there was the cinema distribution window, then VoD, DVD and Blu-ray, and finally television. However, even before the pandemic, there were processes that disrupted this order. Big streaming platforms bought movies and immediately uploaded them to their websites, bypassing the cinema window. This sparked protests, and there was a discussion in France as to whether Netflix films that were not distributed in theaters could participate in the Cannes festival. And the French cinematographers fought that they could not. Compromise solutions were also developed: films introduced simultaneously in the cinema and on platforms, or introduced to cinemas for a short time, in limited distribution. Only to qualify for the Oscars, for example, reminds Majmurek.
The pandemic accelerated these processes, especially since the cinemas were closed periodically. – In the USA, even the Spanish pandemic, World War II or September 11 did not close the cinemas. COVID-19 was the first time in history that a tired American could not go to the cinema after work and escape from problems. It changed the habits of the audience in a natural way. And it gave an additional impetus to platforms to look for profits in exploitation on VoD, adds the film critic. And he emphasizes that this trend will continue. Especially in the blockbuster segment. – They seemed to have to have theatrical distribution, yet a hybrid system was created: films do enter theaters, but at the same time are available on premium service on VoD platforms in some countries for an additional fee. The old order of distribution windows has been seriously disturbed – emphasizes Majmurek.
“The ecosystem will become much more concentrated and much less diverse”
This, in turn, may have far-reaching consequences. – The disturbance of order threatens an important part of the film ecosystem which were film distributors. It also favors market concentration. VoD platforms are large-capitalist, wealthy enterprises. There are several people that can earn from streaming: Amazon, Netflix, Disney + and HBO Go, i.e. Warner Bros. And this is a completely different situation than a system in which each country has many distributors, even if some of them are branches of international companies. When the market takes over several platforms, the ecosystem will become much more focused and much less diverse, warns Majmurek.
The expert adds, however, that “these processes are not yet closed”. – Far from being settled. I would not answer in which way the whole situation will eventually develop. Nevertheless, we are seeing a significant change that started before the pandemic, which it no doubt accelerated, he says.
However, according to Majmurek, rumors about the imminent death of cinema can be put among fairy tales. – Going to the movies is still deeply ingrained in people. The year of the pandemic weakened them, but not entirely. We have Uber Eats in our cell and we can order food, but that doesn’t mean the restaurants don’t exist. It’s more pleasant to go, especially in company, to eat in a restaurant than at home, ordering through the app. And it is the same with cinemas. They have a social, escapist function, and provide an incomparably better quality of projection than the most advanced home theater systems, which only a few can afford. The cinema market will not collapse, people will go to the cinemas. The VoD screening does not provide social qualities related to cinema. People just need to leave the house – concludes Majmurek.
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Time for VOD
Disney + service launched in November 2019. The library has series, companies and programs produced, among others by Walt Disney Studios and Walt Disney Television, and under the Marvel, National Geographic, Pixar and Star Wars brands.
Currently, Disney + is available in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Austria, France, Spain, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Monaco, Germany, Great Britain and Italy.
See you it is still not known when the platform is to debut on the Polish market, although recently Polish users organized an action on the social network Twitter, in which they demanded the launch of Disney + in our country. The American company, however, has been consistently silent on this matter.
Read also: “Loki”: bisexuality of the hero of the Disney + hit officially confirmed
Disney + brakes in America, grows in India
In May this year. it was reported that in early April on Disney + the account had 103.6 million subscribers globally. This result was lower than expected by Wall Street analysts – they predicted that the website’s base will have approx. 110.3 million customers.
Average revenue per subscriber decreased by 29%. up to $ 3.99 per month due to the introduction of a cheaper version of the platform in India (under the name Disney + Hotstar).
Now The Informaton website released unofficial figures according to which currently the global number of Disney + subscribers exceeds 110 million.
According to this information, at the beginning of July this year. In North America, 38 million subscribers used Disney +. It means that in the last six months, only one million new users of the platform came to this market.
It is completely different in India, where Disney + takes place within six months recorded an increase in subscribers at the level of 12 million, which makes this country one of the key development areas for the website.
Read also: Purely Report: Streaming content spending exceeds $ 220 billion annually
According to the Mediapanel survey, Netflix remains the undisputed leader in VoD services in Poland, ahead of CDA Premium and Player.