Is Disney Using ‘The Force Awakens’ To Bully Competition?
As ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ shatters global box-office records over the Christmas holiday, serious claims about Disney potentially strong-arming other December releases are made by ‘The H8ful Eight’ director Quentin Tarantino.
According to Tarantino via Howard Stern’s SiriusXM show, Disney gave Cinerama Dome and the people at Arclight an ultimatum. The ultimatum? If Cinerama Dome plans on showing ‘The Hateful Eight’ concurrent to ‘The Force Awakens’ over the Christmas holiday, then Disney would not allow Arclight to show the latest ’Star Wars’ film in ANY of its Arclight theaters.
Disney came to the Arclight people and said ‘no, you are going to play ‘Star Wars’ in the Cinerama Dome for the entire holiday season, and if you don’t, if you honor your deal with the ‘Hateful Eight,’ we will not allow you to have ‘Star Wars,’ the biggest movie in the world, we will not allow you to show it at any of your Arclight movie theaters.
Now keep in mind there has been no substantiation to this that I have seen and it is essentially Tarantino’s word against Disney. At the same time, what would motivate Tarantino to provoke the entertainment colossus on a national and top performing radio show such as Howard Stern’s? Perhaps the even more important question becomes, could Disney really be using ‘The Force Awakens’ to bully theaters into dropping films and consuming screen space to shut out others?
Watch a video clip of Quentin Tarantino’s December 16th interview on ‘The Howard Stern Show’ below:
How saturated is ‘The Force Awakens?’ Among New York City’s more sizable theaters the latest ‘Star Wars’ installment is playing on upwards of four concurrent screens per theater. When putting that into perspective relative to the single screen almost all other movies are showing on, it would seem like Star Wars could potentially be obstructing the visibility of other films talking screen space alone.
In terms of visibility and box office performance ‘The Force Awakens’ is proving to be on its own tier of cinematic triumph, boasting a domestic box-office revenue of 1.3 million per minute of runtime over it’s opening weekend and over a Billion earned at the global box-office. ‘The Force Awakens’ is after all the 7th installment to an undoubtably iconic franchise. So, where is the smoking gun? Looking at the numbers, both ‘The Revenant’ and ‘The Hateful Eight’ are well-postured to do well per their limited release.
According to a report by Deadline, it was indeed a VERY limited release for ‘The Revenant’ in only four New York and Los Angeles theaters for its Christmas weekend launch. But apparently, that is a good thing. The visceral frontier film starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy grossed a hearty $471K, producing roughly $117K per theater and the achieving the year’s second best premiere performance over it’s opening weekend. Even with it’s seemingly meager release ‘The Revenant’ is Iñárritu’s most successful launch to date, even topping his own 2014 Best Picture Oscar-winner ‘Birdman’ which raked in $106K per theater for it’s four-theater release in October 2014.
‘Kill Bill’ creator Quentin Tarantino’s highly anticipated 70mm presentation of the offbeat Western movie was showing in 100 theaters on Christmas weekend. That’s a small release when your talking upwards of 2,500 theaters for a full-nationwide release. Tarantino’s ‘The Hateful Eight’ also displayed a promising limited release by accruing over $4.5 Million, or roughly $45K per theater, for it’s limited 100 theatre 70mm Roadshow release.
As per the showtimes listed for today, Cinerama Dome is playing ‘The Hateful Eight.’Could it be that Tarantino’s accusations and Stern’s plea for Disney and JJ Abrams to reconsider their alleged bullying paid off, or is it that Tarantino was just trying to build a bit of media attention at the expense of the Billion Dollar Global Box Office behemoth that is ‘The Force Awakens?’ Is Disney’s aggressive booking for ‘The Force Awakens’ justified and is their sizable presence actually even pushing other anticipated December films into the shadows?
Whatever the case may be for Tarantino, it seems ‘The Revenant’ actor Leonardo Dicaprio does not seem to think it’s too big of a deal. In a recent interview with Yahoo Movies, Dicaprio shrugs off any sense of competition; even commenting on his intentions of being in a seat to take in the latest ‘Star Wars’ flick himself.
Hopefully, it just means more people are excited to go to the movies. I think that people know this time of year is where a lot of great pieces of art are going to come out. I would never think that we’d be able to compete with ‘Star Wars,’ that’s something that’s embedded in our cultural DNA. But I think when people begin to hear about [‘The Revenant’], they’ll want to go see it. And that’s all we can hope for.
Whether or not Disney has in fact be using the worth of ‘The Force Awakens’ as a tool for extortion as claimed by Tarantino, it seems that films like ‘The Hateful Eight’ or ‘The Revenant’ are still poised to do well. Despite the $1 billion dollar global box-office shadow cast by the 7th Star Wars installment, the preliminary numbers seem to indicate that the smaller movies are still reaching their market.
Then again ‘Steve Jobs,’ 2015’s #1 limited release, brought in $521K, for a per-screen average of $130,250, the 15th highest per-theater figure in history, only to tank its opening weekend with $7.3 Million (Via Variety). Only time will tell what kind of run ‘The Revenant’ and ‘The Hateful Eight’ will have on the Box-Office come their national release weekend.