WSJ US Business‘Black Widow’ Sets Stage for Possible Clash With Theaters

April 3, 20210

A showdown over the debut of Marvel’s “Black Widow” is brewing between two longtime Hollywood partners: Walt Disney Co. and movie theaters.

At the end of March, theater owners were upset to learn of Disney’s decision to release the movie both in the cinema, and on its Disney+ streaming service for an additional $29.99 fee. Disney also delayed the film’s release to July. Now some theaters are considering ways to push back at the biggest studio in Hollywood over one of the summer’s most anticipated movies, according to people involved in the discussions.

The cinema owners’ aim is to secure better terms from Disney, such as a higher share of box-office revenue or a chance to show “Black Widow” exclusively, but their ability to fight the studio might be undercut by their need to lure moviegoers back to multiplexes after a year of closures and limited capacities.

“We haven’t made any threats,” AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. Chief Executive Adam Aron said in reference to “Black Widow.” But “it is widely known that AMC has threatened not to play movies if we could not find business terms that we found acceptable,” he said.

Disney declined to comment for this article, but said when it announced the “Black Widow” decision that the move gave consumers more options and reflected their preferences.

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