The upcoming The Last Jedi is one of the most anticipated films of the season, if not the entire year, and is sure to be a huge financial success. Despite the promise of the film turning profits, at least one theater in a small town in Iowa is refusing to screen the movie due to a number of regulations imposed by Disney.
"The biggest reason that I'm not going to show it is the four-week minimum play time," Elkader Cinema owner Lee Akin told the Des Moines Register. "My little town cannot afford to play any movie for that long of a time."
The theater has one screen, which is often more than enough to meet the demands of the community with a population of around 1,200. The theater often only has one show in the evening on weekdays and in the afternoon on weekends.
The latest installment in the Star Wars saga demonstrates that there's much more to the industry of exhibiting movies than just screening a movie multiple times a day and eventually whittling those showtimes back to meet demands of the audience.
Disney is requiring 65 percent of the revenue from ticket sales from theaters, up from 64 percent for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, in addition to a theater guaranteeing the movie play in its biggest theater for the minimum of four weeks. Huge theaters with a dozen screens can meet these demands easily, but it's much tougher on small theaters.
"I can't get the entire town in my auditorium in one week's time let alone four," Akin pointed out.
Were any theater to accept to these terms and then violate the agreement, they would be penalized by having to fork over 70 percent of their earnings to Disney instead of just the 65 percent.
Many might jump to a variety of conclusions about these mandates, but they aren't too far off from what most major studios demand with their films. Theaters often see very little profit from ticket sales, earning a higher percentage of returns the longer a movie screens, and rely mostly on profits from concession stands to keep the projectors on.
The Last Jedi will hit theaters on December 15th.
(h/t Des Moines Register)