Frozen 2 is “winning” in the box office all over the world, but is it because Disney is using it’s power to block out the competition? The Public Welfare Committee, a non-government organization, in South Korea says “yes.”
The committee even filed a complaint with local prosecutors against Disney stating that Frozen 2 violates the countries antitrust act by dominating the available theaters. Their complaint falls “under a clause that defines any individual or company with more than half of the market share as a “market-dominant enterprise.” Currently Frozen 2 is being shown in 88% of the movie screens in the country. So yeah. I can see why that is a problem.
Having it set up that way earned Frozen 2 $61.2 million in Korea since it’s opening on November 23rd. It ended up being the third largest market after North America and China. But would it have done as well if people were actually given a choice? It seems Disney is taking the choices away to make sure they succeed.
This is not the first time Disney has thrown their weight around to make demands of screens and theaters.
When “The Last Jedi” came out theaters had to agree to give Disney 65% of the ticket sales and they had to agree to show the film on their biggest screen for at least four weeks. If they ignored the terms and a theater violated any conditions Disney set it up that they could charge an additional 5% to give themselves 70% of the sales. Disney is holding theaters hostage and it might get worse soon.
Prior to that, in 2015, The National Association of Theatre Owners issued a letter to Disney about the “avalanche of complaints” from theater owners about the “strict conditions placed on screenings of Avengers: Age of Ultron.” The requirements went as far as stopping matinee screenings of the film by 5PM and they had to charge “at least the national average price for a movie ticket” if they wanted to keep a cut of the film’s sales.
There is a clear history of Disney trying to manipulate the theaters for their films to have more screens with them taking more of the money. Now they are blocking Fox films from being replayed in theaters. Some theaters would do older films for summer or a holiday and those films are being vaulted. According to Vulture:
“In fact, in reporting this story, I found that Disney’s new policy is being applied differently from place to place. Several theater managers and film programmers (all of whom requested anonymity for fear of creating bad blood with Disney) said their requests to show older Fox titles had been either preemptively denied or revoked after the fact, despite fitting the description of a venue that should be allowed to do so. Sometimes no rationale was offered; other times, they were given a reason, but it didn’t jibe with what was happening at other venues.”
But they can’t demand too much right?
Currently the Department of Justice is looking into overturning the “Paramount Decree” established in 1948. This was put into place so the large studios could not engage in “practices like owning movie theaters; setting minimum ticket prices; demanding theaters license other films from a studio to get access to the movies they want, a practice known as block booking; and cutting deals for movies by theater circuit, rather than theater by theater, as the former would put small theater chains at a disadvantage.”
Now they want to remove the law which would allow studios like Disney to purchase theaters and set more unrealistic demands than they are already setting. As it is they own the majority stake in the ticket sale site Atom Tickets. Did you notice all the record breaking numbers articles about “The Rise of Skywalker” set by Atom Tickets and Fandango? By the way the CEO of Fandango, Paul Yanover, worked for 16 at Disney prior to this new position. Fandango controls Rotten Tomatoes, which has has a lot of new rules put in place recently, that happened to directly assist Disney films like Captain Marvel. Of course this could all be coincidence, but it does make one wonder.
Disney is already controlling many aspects tied to the theater and film industry and they might gain even more power. As it is the media often plays into the narrative. They don’t want to lose their media access. Then outside of the movies we are seeing similar practices with prices at the parks, the streaming wars, merchandise at stores and more. But South Korea’s PWC is fighting back. Maybe more of us should too?
What do you think? Comment and let us know!