If you're into the blockbuster scene, then there's a pretty good chance that you're already gearing up for the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. With less than a month until Rian Johnson's science fantasy epic debuts on the big screen, fans of the franchise from the galaxy far, far away have already started pre-ordering tickets to see it in theaters. The film is expected to open wide when it debuts on December 15, but one theater in Des Moines, Iowa is refusing to show the movie at all. Why? The whole thing is a response to Disney's four-week theatrical requirement.
A report has indicated that Iowa's Elkader Cinema has refused to screen Star Wars: The Last Jedi when the blockbuster debuts next month. For those of you who don't know, Disney has made it a requirement that all theaters showing The Last Jedi run it on each theater's biggest screen for a minimum of four weeks. This deal should be manageable for the more prominent movie theaters chains like AMC or Regal, but smaller theater chains and mom and pop operations have spoken out against the requirement. Elkader Cinema's owner told The Des Moines Register that he doesn't think it's feasible for his theater to run a single movie (on its single screen) for that long of a period, so Elkader will instead opt to forgo The Last Jedi entirely and stick to the rest of 2017's major releases.
In addition to the four-week requirement for theaters that decide to screen The Last Jedi, Disney will also require an unprecedented 65% cut of the ticket revenue. Any cinemas that choose to pull The Last Jedi from its biggest screens will incur a penalty that results in bumping the cut up to 70%. Given how much of a box office draw The Last Jedi is expected to become (coupled with a general downward trend in movie theater attendance), the ball is apparently in Disney's court as the studio knows it has an almost-guaranteed hit on its hands.
The folks behind the Star Wars franchise have made demands similar to this before. When Attack of the Clones hit theaters back in 2002, Lucasfilm made a point to force many theaters to install digital projectors (at the time a burgeoning technology) to project the film for audiences. While one could pretty easily argue that was an example of Star Wars being ahead of its time, there's a case to be made this four-week arrangement for The Last Jedi is putting some smaller operations in a tight spot.
For the theaters that will screen the latest installment in the Star Wars franchise, The Last Jedi will premiere on December 15. Tickets are already available for pre-order, so get yours now and check out our The Last Jedi guide to educate yourself on everything that you need to know about the upcoming Star Wars adventure.