EXCLUSIVE: The No. 3 U.S. exhibitor Cinemark will not be playing Raya and the Last Dragon this coming weekend as Disney makes the title available both in theaters and as a $30 purchase on Disney+ on March 5. As the major studios experiment widely with theatrical windows during the pandemic, Raya is a clear case that not all exhibitors will just swallow whatever is thrown at them.
I hear that Cinemark isn’t the only exhibitor who isn’t booking the Don Hall-Carlos Lopez Estrada-directed feature. Harkins and Cineplex in Canada aren’t playing Raya either. Note, sometimes these negotiations can sometimes come down to the wire and titles can appear on marquees.
So, wait, what happened here? How can an exhibitor be cool with Warner Bros. day-and-date theatrical HBO Max titles, and not a Disney+ PVOD title? Essentially I hear from sources that Disney remained quite tough on their terms for Raya. If exhibition didn’t like the terms, well, then they don’t have to play the movie. On the flip side, I hear that Warners on their recent HBO Max titles, i.e. Wonder Woman 1984, Judas and the Black Messiah, The Little Things and Tom & Jerry lowered their rental terms, and hence that’s the reason why more exhibitors took to the titles.
Disney in their curtain raiser note reported that Raya will play in 2,000+ theaters this Friday, including 200 IMAX screens, 360 Premium Large Format screens, 160 3D locations, and 45 D-Box/4D screens. The opening for Raya and the Last Dragon is in the $6M-$7M+ range per industry estimates. Even though NYC is reopening with 25% capacity auditorium restrictions, Cinemark does not have any cinemas in the five boroughs. Raya will be up against Lionsgate’s YA sci-fi Tom Holland-Daisy Ridley movie Chaos Walking this weekend as well as the second weekend of Warner’s Tom & Jerry.
A Cinemark representative tells Deadline tonight, “In the current operating environment, we are making near-term booking decisions on a discrete, film-by-film basis, focusing on the long-term benefit of exhibitors, studios and moviegoers. While we are having conversations with The Walt Disney Company, we have not yet reached agreeable licensing terms for Raya and the Last Dragon. As we continue to work with our studio partners, we remain optimistic that we will reach mutually beneficial terms that will provide moviegoers the opportunity to see the exciting film lineup in our theatres.”
Deadline reached out to Disney. We’ll let you know if they comment.