The recent lurch towards streaming amid the ongoing global situation has everyone worried about movie theaters and whether or not they will be able to weather the storm. Well, sadly it sounds like the situation could become worse as time goes on, with a top Disney investor now urging Disney to release the comic book blockbuster Black Widow straight to streaming. Dan Loeb, the hedge fund manager for Third Point, has recently said that sending high-profile releases such as Black Widow directly to Disney+ is the best idea moving forward as it would attract new subscribers while retaining current customers.
"What Netflix has is this immense subscriber base that allows it to invest in an enormous amount of content and amortize that to get more subscribers. Disney isn't there yet, but they need to get there as quickly as possible. If they don't get critical mass in their subscriber base, they will be permanently disadvantaged versus Netflix."
Loeb, who has roughly a $1 billion stake in the company, clearly believes that streaming is now the way to go, and is ultimately concerned that if Disney+ does not get the proper investment that it will be forever overshadowed by the streaming giant, Netflix.
Disney+ has been a huge success so far thanks to shows such as The Mandalorian, with thw streamign service suprassing 60 million subscribers since launching in November last year. By comparison, Netflix has 193 million paid subscribers, which is the kind of figures that investors like Loeb want to see. Evidently, Loeb believes that the way to achieve this is to skip theaters and instead send 2021-dated films like Black Widow straight to Disney+.
"My understanding is that the old-line executives don't want to go over the top with their big tentpole movies, which is why they announced they were pushing Black Widow and other movies to 2021," Loeb continued. "I don't think they appreciate the tiger they have by the tail, which is to say the value they can drive by moving into a subscription model, which has been adopted by everyone from Microsoft to Amazon. It's so value accretive."
Loeb even goes so far as to predict that, due to the ongoing circumstances, movie theaters will become nothing more than a "novelty experience," before saying that the world is "going to go largely toward online distribution."
Sadly, it is very possible that Loeb will be proven at least partly right, with Disney's recent reorganization moving steadfastly in that direction and putting more of a focus on a streaming. It is undeniable that, should the shutters come down on theaters permanently, a substantial part of the magic of movies will be tragically lost.
For now, Black Widow is set to open on May 7th, 2021, more than a year after it was originally scheduled to be released. Black Widow's new date has resulted in the entire Marvel line-up being pushed back, with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings moved from its May 7th, 2021 release date to July 9th, 2021. The Eternals, which was supposed to follow Black Widow is moving from February 12th, 2021 to November 5th, 2021. This comes to us from Variety.