France’s National Cinema Federation (FNCF), which represents exhibitors in the market, has said it “firmly protests” Disney’s decision to bypass French cinemas with animated adventure pic Strange World. As we reported earlier today, Disney has opted to forego theatrical and will release the movie directly on Disney Plus in France, taking a stance versus the country’s recently revised windowing system which the studio calls “cumbersome” and “anti-consumer.”
Reacting in a statement, the FNCF called Disney’s decision “a losing choice for everyone” that would “seriously undermine the economy of cinemas and the sector as a whole.”
France updated its arcane windows back in January this year, shortening the span between theatrical and the market’s long-held 36-month SVOD waiting period, but Disney was not among the signatories of an agreement between TV channels, streamers and the film industry.
Currently, Disney’s theatrical releases must wait 17 months after their debut in cinemas to go to Disney Plus, and for a period of just five months. At 22 months, they come off the service and go to free-to-air channels for a 14-month exclusive window before reverting to Disney Plus again after 36 months.
The FNCF today said that exhibition was being “instrumentalized” in the matter which it said is “totally unacceptable and terribly unfair.” It invited Disney to participate in meetings to be organized by national film body the CNC within the framework of the clause provided for in the media chronology agreement that was signed in January. It also called on public authorities to allow a rapid resolution of this “major problem… by leading a conciliation between the stakeholders, and by avoiding making spectators and cinemas the collateral victims of these disputes.”