Mirrored from desmoineregister
A thistle to Walt Disney’s demands on theaters to show the upcoming “Star Wars” movie. The plot of “The Last Jedi” is under wraps, but film-goers are certain to see a plucky band of resistance fighters struggling against a merciless, all-powerful empire.
If only the little guys won in real life. Behind the curtain, Walt Disney Co. is demanding unprecedented requirements on theaters to show the movie. The Hollywood studio will receive about 65 percent of ticket revenue from the film, a record, and is requiring theaters to show the movie in their largest auditorium for at least four weeks.
As Darth Vader said, resistance is futile. If a theater violates any part of the distribution agreement, Disney can take an additional 5 percent cut.
The film is expected to make more than $500 million at the box office in the U.S. alone.
The terms may be worth it for big theater chains, given the film’s expected popularity. The demands mean even more problems, however, for the last of an American icon: independent and small-town theaters, such as the Elkader Cinema in northeast Iowa.
“The biggest reason that I’m not going to show it is the four-week minimum play time,” owner Lee Akin told the Register. “My little town cannot afford to play any movie for that long of a time.”
Does Disney care? Perhaps it doesn’t have to, as it controls more than a quarter of the market share at the box office, and theaters have lost leverage as ticket sales have fallen.
But if Disney heeds the lessons of the “Star Wars” films, it should understand the dangers of unlimited power and greed. It should know that even mighty empires have weaknesses.
“Star Wars” fans are legion, and maybe they have the power to get Disney to change its demands — and bring a little balance back to the Force.