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U.S. moviegoers still have to wait until next Friday to see Avengers: Age of Ultron, but the latest Marvel entry has already opened in nearly 30 international markets. While most of these countries are showing the film without a hitch, Germany is encountering some trouble. 686 screens in 193 small towns, most of which are populated by less than 50,000 citizens, will not have the film screened, meaning that if you live in one of these towns, you’ll have to travel to a major city just to see Earth’s Mightiest Heroes battle the titular villain and his forces.
According to Deutsche Welle, the reason these theaters have opted not to show Avengers: Age of Ultron is due to Disney raising its rental fees from 47.7 to 53 percent of ticket sales. In addition, not only has Disney cut financial contributions to advertising, but advances for 3D glasses are also gone. These protests are primarily located in northern Germany, but have now spread across the entire country in areas like Upper Bavaria and the Rhineland.
This is just the latest in a series of problems that smaller German theaters have been dealing with, ranging from rising overhead to increased personnel costs. The rise in digital technology has also played a factor, and while there have been measures taken to update smaller theaters with public funds to keep them from going extinct, Disney’s new rules are building obstacles to keep these theaters afloat. This isn’t the first time that German theaters have boycotted a major film. Back in 2003, many wouldn’t show Hulk because of rental fees, just like now.
However, even with these theaters not showing Avengers: Age of Ultron, the film isn’t hurting, earnings-wise. At the time of this writing, Box Office Mojo listed the movie as having grossed nearly $45 million worldwide, and that amount will only continue to grow. That being said, every dollar (or in this case euro) counts in the grand scheme of things, so it remains to be seen whether progress will be made soon. Spokesman Karl Heinz-Reiner told DW that he believes that the boycott will make headway, but Disney isn't commenting on any of this.
Other Disney films leading the summer blockbuster season this year include Inside Out, Tomorrowland and Ant-Man, which will likely result in more boycotts if the matter isn’t settled. However, arguably Disney’s next biggest release this year following Avengers: Age of Ultron will be Star Wars: The Force Awakens in December. It will be interesting to see whether these issues can be resolved by then, or if many German moviegoers will have to travel elsewhere to visit a galaxy far, far away.