Disney’s “Raya and the Last Dragon” hit theaters this weekend. The long awaited film was pushed back from an original November 2020 release date. If you didn’t want to risk going to the theaters to see the new film, you could stream it through Disney Plus’ Premiere Access. But, is Disney’s new pandemic distribution plan doing more harm than good?
Thanks to New York City’s reopening of theaters, “Raya and the Last Dragon” was able to bring in $8.6 million at the domestic box office. However, this is far less than other animated films released during the pandemic. “Tom & Jerry” recently turned heads when it grossed $14 million. “Raya” is a more acclaimed film than “Tom & Jerry,” so why did no one see it?
Disney Plus’ Premiere Access is to blame. On top of Disney Plus’ $6.99 month fee, you can get Premiere Access for an additional $30. Disney’s hope is that by charging an additional fee, they can recoup some money lost from the box office. However, this distribution plan led to less box office success. Major theaters, such as Cinemark, did not show the film because they disagreed with Disney’s rental strategy. Perhaps with the additional screens, “Raya” would have far surpassed “Tom & Jerry” revenue.
Additionally, how badly do fans want to see these new releases? “Raya and the Last Dragon” was supposed to be released four months ago. How many of us are willing to pay an additional $30 to the already $7 Disney Plus subscription when the film will be streaming on the platform for free in June? In a pandemic where many of us have been dipping into our savings, surely we can wait another three months to see the newest Disney film.
Disney Plus Premiere Access is a temporary fix to problems that arose due to the pandemic. Once things return to the “new normal” Disney should again reign supreme. Until then, it seems like Disney is shooting themselves in the foot with Premiere Access.