Former Disney boss admits streaming is a ‘severe injury’ to theaters

Mulan

We’re fast approaching two years since the pandemic came along and brought the theatrical industry to its knees, but barring a few notable exceptions, we’re still waiting on a sustained recovery that can bring business back to the levels we’d grown accustomed to.

Of course, plenty of titles have made a killing at the box office, but almost every single one of them is a big budget, effects-driven blockbuster that’s either part of an established franchise, or designed with the intention of launching a new one.

In fact, dating back to March 2020, the highest-grossing Hollywood movie to have hit the big screen that cost less than $100 million to produce and isn’t a sequel, reboot, or adaptation of some kind is Ridley Scott’s House of Gucci, which earned a shade over $150 million globally.

That’s not good, so it’s no surprise that former Disney CEO Bob Iger was open in admitting to The New York Times that the rise of day-and-date streaming releases, high-profile movies that run exclusively on-demand, and blockbuster-sized TV shows have had a huge effect on theaters.

“I don’t think it’s the death. I think it’s a severe injury that maybe doesn’t heal. And what I mean by that is, not fatal. It might be fatal to some. However, they will be much more, I think, discerning about what movies they want to see out of the home, where you’re likely, I think, to say or ask yourself, wait a minute, is this a movie I need to see on the big screen and do all that, or can I wait or not even wait, for that matter, and see it at home?

It’s not even about whether you watch a movie on the big screen or at home. It’s just, you have so many more choices in the home. Think about the number of TV series that we’re talking about— at a quality level that’s pretty good, much better, from a production-value perspective, than it used to be… Some of the TV shows that Disney has made— Mandalorian being one, the Marvel series, Falcon and the Winter Solider, Loki— each one of those is a movie. So just, movie theaters have much more competition than they ever had before.”

Iger was obviously part of the problem, with the likes of Black Widow, Cruella, Mulan, Jungle Cruise, Soul, Luca, and others either skipping multiplexes entirely, or arriving simultaneously on the big and small screens. We’re in a brave new world for cinema, one that’s here to stay, even if it might take a lot of getting used to.