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Will Disney+'s Premier Access Continue After Jungle Cruise? Here's What Disney’s CEO Says

Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt and Jack Whitehall in Jungle Cruise

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The film industry has been scrambling for the last year and a half to simply figure out how to continue to do business. Many major releases have been, and continue to be simply delayed, in hopes that things will be better in the future. Other films have been sent to VOD and streaming services rather than theaters. Others have done both at the same time. Disney, however, took a very unique path, in releasing four films through Disney+ Premier Access. This put the movie on the streaming platform the same day it was in theaters, but also added an up charge to see the film, like a VOD platform. While there are no plans for any future Premier Access titles, Disney CEO Bob Chapek is leaving that door open.

Speaking on The Walt Disney Company's Q3 Earnings Call, CEO Bob Chapek talked about the way that the company has been handling movie distribution in different ways due to the global pandemic. While there were no plans announced to release any upcoming movies as Premier Access titles, Chapek was clear that it could still happen, as "all available options" remain on the table. According to the CEO...

Distribution decisions are made on a film-by-film basis based on global marketplace conditions and consumer behavior. We'll continue to utilize all available options going forward, learn from insights gained with each release, and innovate accordingly, always doing what we believe is in the best interest of the film and the best interest of our constituents.

Following this statement, Bob Chapek ran through most of the major releases for Disney's remaining fiscal year and fiscal year 2022. Each of them was specifically discussed as a theatrical release, with no mention of Disney+, so at least for the moment it seems that's the plan for these movies, but the company clearly wants to leave the door open to the possibility they could reverse course if there's a feeling that's where consumer behavior is trending.

One movie that seems unlikely to go to Premier Access is Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. When asked why the film isn't taking the same path to market as Black Widow, Bob Chapek explained that part of the reason is specifically to see what happens when a similar movie takes a different path. It's basically an experiment to see how two Marvel movies fair when they go through different channels. After Disney has the data on this, the company can make better decisions about what to do with future movies.

And this is likely why Premier Access hasn't been written off yet. If the data comes back and it looks like Premier Access really works for Disney, then we're more likely to see it again. It doesn't appear that the plan is to make Premier Access the new normal right now, but it still could be down the road.

Dirk Libbey

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.