Disney has decided to not release its upcoming animated feature Strange World in theaters and members of France’s National Cinema Federation are not happy. The move by Disney comes due to regulations on release windows for theatrically released movies. Originally, the film was set to be released in theaters on November 23, 2022.
Disney released the following statement on the decision saying, “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.”
As the regulations stand now if Strange World would have a very long road to making it to subscribers on Disney+. Four months after release, the movie would be available for purchase. After six months, the movie would be available on Canal Plus, a premium French television channel. At 17 months, the movie would then be able to head to Disney+ for five months. Then at 22-months, the movie would go off of Disney+ and go to free-to-air channels for 14-months. Finally, at 36 months, Strange World would make its way to Disney+ permanently for subscribers to view. Rather than work through this 36-month window system, Disney is bypassing it completely by not releasing Strange World in theaters.
France’s National Cinema Federation (FNCF) opposes the move and says it is “a losing choice for everyone” that will “seriously undermine the economy of cinemas and the sector as a whole.” FNCF also says that Disney is using Strange World as a bargaining chip for when the windowing rules will be up for re-negotiation in January. FNCF has called on France’s national film body, the CNC, to organize mediation on the matter for all involved. This includes theaters, studios, streaming services, and French TV broadcasters.
A study showed that the current regulations currently benefit Canal Plus and Netflix the most. Netflix had previously agreed to the new windowing regulations, but Disney did not. The rules were designed to help protect theatrical exhibitions and others along the process of the film’s release. However, in this case, it seems to have done the opposite as by going straight to Disney+, Disney can retain control of its Release timeline and destination.