Disney boss says theatrical windows will shrink due to 'impatient' viewers

Watch: Raya and the Last Dragon trailer

With coronavirus having closed cinemas for the best part of year, the boss of Disney has said that shorter theatrical windows – the time between cinema and home release – will likely become the norm.

Bob Chapek, Disney's CEO, said that movie fans won't 'have much of a tolerance for a title, say, being out of theatrical for month', before reaching streaming platforms at home.

He made the comments at an online investment conference held by Morgan Stanley (via Deadline).

“The consumer is probably more impatient than they’ve ever been before, particularly since now they’ve had the luxury of an entire year of getting titles at home pretty much when they want them,” he said.

Read more: Disney boss says more movies could skip cinema release

“So, I’m not sure there’s going back. But we certainly don’t want to do anything like cut the legs off a theatrical exhibition run.”

Many studios have decided to take the unprecedented move of releasing movies direct to streaming in the wake of cinema closures.

Although there was early resistance – the row between Cineworld and Universal over the early release of Trolls World Tour among them – it appears that studios are now significantly less bashful about sending new movies direct to people's homes.

Pedro Pascal is The Mandalorian in the Disney+ series THE MANDALORIAN.
Pedro Pascal is The Mandalorian in the Disney+ series THE MANDALORIAN.

The move also fits with Disney's current entertainment focus - Disney+ - which has already seen dividends by expanded many of its franchises onto the small screen rather than the big one, from The Mandalorian in the Star Wars universe to Marvel's WandaVision.

Disney movies like Pixar's Soul and the big budget remake of Mulan have gone straight to streaming in recent months, with the upcoming Raya and the Last Dragon doing the same, via its premium access model.

The lockdown measures battered cinema revenues last year.

The US box office alone slumped a devastating 71%, to $12.4 billion, with the UK box office down by 76% from the previous year.

UK cinemas earned £322 million in 2020, compared with £1.3 billion in 2019.

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