Disney to skip 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 forego the French theatrical release of Walt Disney Animation Studios’ upcoming film “Strange World” in favor of sending the film directly to Disney+ , according Variety.

Disney has its reasons for making this decision. Wall Street is keeping a close eye on new listings for Disney+, Hulu and other streaming services. Currently, Disney has more to lose if signups drop due to a long time between theatrical release and streaming.

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

Disney said “the cumbersome new media timeline is anti-consumer, ignoring changing behavior over the past few years and putting us at increased risk of 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 further discussions on the subject of reducing this four-month window in favor of finding a compromise from which the French government and the studios can benefit. The norm since the pandemic has largely moved to around 45 days between theatrical release and streaming.

Learn more about Disney’s upcoming movie “Strange World,” which premieres Nov. 23.

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