Disney has opted to skip the French theatrical release of Strange World, which was slated to hit local cinemas on November 23. The decision has been taken due to windowing rules which have provoked outrage among French exhibitors.
The writing for the movie has been on the wall for the studio since late January, when France announced its revised and still extremely severe windowing restrictions, which placed Disney’s subscription-based streaming window at 17 months after a film’s French theatrical debut.
An official statement from Disney+ has been release.
Strange World will be available to all Disney+ subscribers in France, forgoing 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 putting 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.
Disney has also expressed dissatisfaction with the fact that it has temporarily remove content from its platforms five months later in order to enable unrestricted networks to have their own exclusive window. Following months of intense disputes with other industry stakeholders, the French government enforced the limitations on the studio despite the fact that it had not yet signed the deal.
According to a FNCF spokesperson, Disney is using the premiere of Strange World as leverage to secure better terms for its windowing regulations, which will be renegotiated in January 2023.
From what we understand, Disney is unhappy with the fact that they have to pull out their titles from their service to allow free-to-air channels to have their exclusive window, so what we are telling them is, ‘Instead of putting pressure on cinemas, please come and discuss with TV channels.
Disney previously clearly stated that it was not consumer-friendly and did not provide a balanced or proportionate framework amongst the many companies in the French audiovisual ecosystem.