DOCTOR STRANGE continues to drive the global box office, grossing over $650M worldwide in its first 10 days. Even with this success, this latest Marvel blockbuster presents questions for both studios and exhibitors. Disney is finding it increasingly difficult to secure release slots in China for its major titles on the studio side.
During a Q&A session after presenting its most recent quarterly results, Disney’s Bob Chapek addressed the China topic directly, saying that he was bullish about the outlook for solid returns from the studio’s major releases even without access to the Chinese market. This was the first time Chapek has acknowledged publicly that the world’s largest studio can no longer count on China as a partner in its releases.
As for exhibitors, some are fretting over the increasing reliance on studio tentpoles for box office receipts. For example, Variety reported last week that the AMC Empire 25 in New York programmed a full 60 showtimes of DOCTOR STRANGE in a single day. While the short-term revenue bump is appreciated, reliance on these blockbusters comes with risk, should studios be inconsistent in pumping out a steady stream of mega-releases.
See also: Disney CEO Bob Chapek On The “Difficulty” Of Getting Films Released In China (Deadline)