Why One Major Theater Chain Is Refusing To Show Disney's Raya And The Last Dragon

Raya and the Last Dragon Raya crouched, with sword in hand, ready to fight

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Even in the current climate of theatrical exhibition, to pass on a movie like Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon feels like something akin to leaving money on the table. But that’s exactly what Cinemark, one of the three major theater chains on the domestic circuit, is about to do, as the company is refusing to show Disney’s latest flick. The answer as to why this is happening won’t shock you, as Cinemark and Disney are at loggerheads when it comes to the terms and conditions of showing the film theatrically.

The news of the chain’s decision to refuse to show Raya and the Last Dragon was reported by Deadline, which spoke with sources alleging that attempted negotiations to change the rental terms to be more beneficial to the theater chain were less than successful. Faced with an ultimatum to accept those terms or refuse to play the film, Cinemark opted for the latter. As Raya and the Last Dragon is slated to open in theaters, as well as show on Disney+ Premier Access this Friday, this truly is an 11th hour development.

It’s a story that brings back memories of that time Star Wars: The Last Jedi saw such prime demands being made, including 65% of ticket revenues and a commitment to a four-week run, being leveled against theater chains. Under normal circumstances, and with a movie like a Star Wars sequel, that could be seen as tight, but survivable. However, as the current climate is far from ideal, with reduced capacity and moviegoers partaking in more streaming options than ever, one can see how Cinemark would want to counter such conditions.

Even without knowing the exact specifications that Raya and the Last Dragon has been tied up in, there’s still some news that throws this scenario between Cinemark and Disney into sharper relief. Apparently Warner Bros has actually played ball with movie theaters and offered more amenable rental terms for titles like Godzilla vs. Kong, which are part of that studio’s 2021 initiative to debut every title on this year’s slate with an upfront streaming window. As that studio’s streaming platform, HBO Max, doesn’t include the $30 buy-in that Disney+ subscribers will have to put out for this latest animated adventure, the contrast between these examples is more interesting; especially when Tom and Jerry put up better theatrical numbers than expected, with a simultaneous streaming release, in these trying times.

Realities in a world still dealing with safety and adjusting to doing business in a pandemic mindset are just as concrete as they were in the before times. Cinemark and Disney are not the only parties that have, or will, do battle when it comes to securing favorable positions for movies like Raya and the Last Dragon. But what is known is that whatever the outcome of this particular moment yields for both sides, it surely won’t be forgotten when negotiations for a film like Black Widow come into play.

Luckily, if you’re a Disney+ subscriber, or if a theater near you is showing Raya and the Last Dragon, you’ll be able to enjoy that very movie starting this Friday. However, the Premier Access option will be an additional $30 rental for subscribers, so keep that in mind as you make your weekend plans. And if you’re not a Disney+ subscriber, then you might want to change that and sign up today, just in case you’re ready for this trip into a colorful fairy tale.

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Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

Mike Reyes is the Senior Movie Contributor at CinemaBlend, though that title’s more of a guideline really. Passionate about entertainment since grade school, the movies have always held a special place in his life, which explains his current occupation. Mike graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, but swore off of running for public office a long time ago. Mike's expertise ranges from James Bond to everything Alita, making for a brilliantly eclectic resume. He fights for the user.