Imax Boss Says Cannibalization Hurt ‘Black Widow’, Sees Return To Theatrical Window – Deadline

Despite Disney’s experiment with releasing motion pictures like Black Widow and Jungle Cruise day-and-date in theaters and within the dwelling on the PVOD tier of its Disney+ Premier, Imax CEO Rich Gelfond doesn’t consider the mannequin would be the new regular shifting ahead.

“Every studio has seen the same data that Disney has seen. What Disney did is experiment during the pandemic, which is what they said they were going to do,” the CEO stated through the large-format exhibitor’s Q2 2021 earnings name Tuesday.

“I remember [Disney CEO] Bob Chapek saying at one of their investor days that when times are normal, he thinks theatrical is important, exclusivity is important,” Gelfond stated, “and I think when he looks at his data and the pandemic is in the rearview mirror that he’ll come to the same conclusion that everyone else does: The way to maximize value is to have a theatrical window.”

Imax 2Q Sales Surge, Losses Narrow; CEO Rich Gelfond Says ‘Table Set For A Dramatic Rebound’

Imax CEO Rich Gelfond

“They used to sell the same property five times, and now they’re selling it once. They might be bringing some revenue forward, but there’s no proof points that it’s a better model.” He added that “a lot of same people, they will come to the same conclusion.”

Addressing the fallout from Black Widow, which reportedly made a mixed theatrical international field office and PVOD opening of $218 million (however solely $316.3M worldwide so far in pure field office), Gelfond stated: “There’s really no question in my mind that the combination of PVOD and a lot of piracy –people haven’t really talked about it that much– clearly there’s a lot of piracy that accounted for the cannibalization, and it significantly affected the box office at the end of the day.”

“It’s hard to quantify it, but some statistics I find interesting is that F9, which is the more traditional distribution model, will gross about $700M worldwide at the end of its run, and Black Widow will gross half of that,” the Imax boss stated. “Black Widow was a great movie, so when I think about it, there was no doubt a lot of money was left on the table.”

At the home field office, Black Widow dropped 68% in its second weekend, essentially the most for any Disney+ Marvel Cinematic Universe title; the consequence raised the ire of the National Association of Theatre Owners, which slammed the Burbank, CA-based studio for permitting the superhero origin title to be mowed down by piracy and truncating home windows.

Gelfond was upbeat about the way forward for moviegoing, forecasting that we’ll quickly see the return of the worldwide theatrical window tentpole in upcoming motion pictures like Venom: Let There Be Carnage, No Time to Die, Top Gun: Maverick and even Disney/Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of Ten Rings. 

“Every studio has a 45-day window next year,” Gelfond stated, however famous that “lower-cost releases will be put on streaming.” Meanwhile, Imax will proceed to profit from massive studio tentpoles.

In regards as to whether the Delta variant is poised to impression the field office, Gelfond stated “it’s too early to say,” whereas observing how field office in China and Japan boomed beneath an unvaccinated inhabitants.

“Among vaccinated people, there’s not a lot of reticence to go to theaters, there’s no indication of it,” he stated.

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