Disney’s big holiday movie will skip French theaters during release window protest
To protest French content streaming rules, Disney has announcement than his holiday animated movie strange world (a.k.a Avalonia) will go straight to Disney+ and will not appear in theaters nationwide. He also made a strong statement to Deadline decrying the so-called media timeline rules.
“strange world will be available to all Disney+ subscribers in France, without a French cinema release. While we support French cinema – and have done so for decades – the cumbersome new media timeline is anti-consumer, ignoring how behavior has evolved in recent years and putting us at increased risk of piracy. We will continue to make decisions on a film-by-film basis and based on the unique conditions of each market,” a company spokesperson said.
French laws force studios like Disney to wait 17 months before they can release movies on Disney+ after a theatrical release, after a four-month purchase and an exclusive six-month Canal+ window. Disney+ can then only keep it for five months, because it is intended for free channels like TF1 and France 2 for a period of 14 months. Once that window is over (36 months after theatrical release), it returns to Disney+.
Before a new law implemented earlier this year, the situation was actually worse for streaming channels, with much longer release windows. Disney protested because the new rules favor Netflix, giving it a shorter 15-month window before movies can return to its streaming service. He also said the laws failed to take into account the new reality of content consumption in the age of COVID-19.
“We believe that the media chronology is not adapted to the consumer, nor does it establish a balanced or proportionate framework between the various players in the French audiovisual ecosystem. This is all the more frustrating as we increase our investments in the creation of original French content while also supporting French cinema through our theatrical releases,” Disney said at the time. (Engadget contacted the French media regulator to get feedback.)
The French Ministry of Culture and regulator CNC are juggling the needs of movie chains, studios, streaming services and consumers. At the same time, they try to encourage local production and original French content in general. This has been effective lately, with many productions like Emily in France slaughtered in the country. At the same time, original French series such as those from Netflix Lupine and Call my agent became hits in the United States and elsewhere in the world.