Disney has made the decision to pull its upcoming animated feature, Strange World, from a theatrical release in France. The project will now debut on Disney+ in the territory, upsetting exhibitors.
France’s National Cinema Federation (FNCF) protested the decision on Wednesday, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. The FNCF says, “a losing choice for everyone” that would “seriously undermine the economy of cinemas and the sector as a whole.”
Strange World was set to hit French theaters on November 23, but Disney pulled the release, citing the country’s strict windowing regulations, which require a 17-month period between a film’s theatrical release and its debut on a streaming platform in France. Meaning, Strange World wouldn’t hit Disney+ in France until April 2024.
The regulations, which Disney has called “cumbersome” and “anti-consumer,” also limit that first VOD window to just five months. After that, the film shifts to a 14-month, exclusive free-TV window. Only then, fully 36 months after its theatrical debut, can the movie move back to Disney+. That compares to an average window of around 45 days between theatrical release and SVOD bow in most territories worldwide.
France changed its windowing laws in January, shrinking the theatrical-to-streaming window from 36 months to “just” 15 months, on the condition that distributors invest a portion of their revenue in French theatrical content. Netflix agreed to the French deal. Disney did not.
In a statement, Disney said the new regulations ignore how consumer behavior “has evolved over the last several years” and that the extended window puts the company “at increased risk for piracy.”
Strange World is set to star Jake Gyllenhaal (The Guilty, Spider-Man: Far from Home), who lends his voice to Searcher Clade, the son of a steadfast explorer. The original action-adventure journeys deep into an uncharted and treacherous land where fantastical creatures await the legendary Clades, a family of explorers whose differences threaten to topple their latest—and by far— most crucial mission. Additional casting announcements will come in the coming weeks.
The film is directed by Don Hall (Oscar®-winning Big Hero 6, Raya and the Last Dragon) and co-director/writer Qui Nguyen (co-writer Raya and the Last Dragon), and produced by Roy Conli (Oscar®-winning Big Hero 6, Tangled). Strange World hits U.S. theaters on on November 23, 2022.