I really think now is the time.
With April 24th approaching rapidly, and Black Widow looking down the barrel of a more significant quarantined situation, Walt Disney has a pretty unique opportunity to test something out that the rest of Hollywood never dared to try in all these years of their ultimate game of day-and-date chicken.
Some studios had tried it before. Those who are old enough now probably remember the Tower Heist test that Universal experimented with; giving audiences the opportunity to pay-per-view the film at home the same day as the theatrical release for an inflated price point of around thirty bucks.
It didn’t go over too well. But that was because it was, well, Tower Heist.
Do you even remember who was in Tower Heist? I mean, other than you, Ben Stiller — who we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that a very suspicious Red Hour Pictures e-mail address has subscribed to every single post on SNTS.
But we digress.
There have always been a lot of day-and-date releases of movies that no one really, honestly cares much about; nor do they generate any real significant amount of box office. No, day-and-date films rarely get there, with the exception of a few isolated winners like It Follows and Mandy. It’s a rarity.
But now, there’s a real reason to try it.
There are over twenty-five million subscribers to Disney Plus. They are paying somewhere in the neighborhood of seven dollars a month. Now what do you think would happen if Disney suddenly surfaced a brand-new offer in a few weeks that gave subscribers the opportunity to subscribe to a brand-new tier of programming?
For $14.99 a month, users could subscribe to the Ultimate Disney Plus tier, granting them a minimum of four first-run theatrical releases via Disney Plus, the same day they released in theaters…
Black Widow. Soul. Jungle Cruise. Eternals.
Think about the numbers. At least one theatrical release each quarter. All the consumers will end up paying a total incremental amount of $96 annually, which estimates to around $24 dollars per film. That’s less than, ahem, Tower Heist but significant enough to cover the one or two or three extra people that might slink into the background of so-and-so’s basement to catch the latest Pixar or Marvel or Disney flick.
But those movies won’t be available eternally (ha!), they’ll be available for the opening weekend while the film is also in theaters.
And what about the theatrical exhibitors? Won’t they sic the National Theater Association’s Mob after the studios?
No. Because coronavirus.
Despite the horrible situation we’re in, no theatrical exhibitor or corporation is going to want to get sucked down into the bad PR story about blocking quarantined people at home from watching a movie that Disney made available to them.
There’s some extra money in there to get spread around the theatrical exhibition space, just to keep them from getting too loud about it.
It’s a genius idea. With very little blowback. And an opportunity to test, for the first time in the history of Hollywood, what would happen if a major studio with a major release, made it majorly (ha!) available for consumers who couldn’t (for whatever reason) make it out of their house.
If Bob Iger was still CEO, I would tag him on this post so he could make this happen immediately and give SNTS credit for the idea, that potentially, they’ve already talked about internally.
What would be the reason to not do it?
Heck, the U.S. Government is about to announce giving something back to Americans to make the next few months palatable. Easier. More reasonable. Why not ingratiate the American public to you, Mr. Mouse House? Why not gain data, understand cannibalization of the theatrical window, and grow your subscriber base in the process.
Because those twenty-five million current subscribers?
With our new plan? That would be fifty.
Don’t believe us? Try it.
We dare you.