Disney has revealed the conditions local theaters have to abide by in order to show Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and much like the dealings of the Empire, Disney’s deal doesn’t shake out great for local business.
According to the Wall Street Journal, theater owners have to agree to a serious and unusual set of terms in order to earn the privilege of showing the new Star Wars movie. First, Disney is insisting on a 65 percent share of ticket-sales revenue, up from a standard 55 percent asked by most Hollywood studios, what WSJ calls “a new benchmark.”
Disney is also requiring theaters to reserve at least four weeks in the largest auditorium available exclusively for The Last Jedi screenings. And if a theater violates any of the above terms? Well, then Disney reserves the right to charge an additional five percent of ticket sales revenue as penalty for the violation. This includes if the theater cancels even one screening of the film without Disney’s consent.
And if you don’t like those terms, as a theater owner, there’s little to be done. Disney has outsized power in the modern theatrical market, with box-office sales down and Disney’s significant stake in the remaining releases—26 percent market share, as of last year—leaving theaters with little in the way of bargaining power. The Last Jedi is far too lucrative to pass up.
“They’re in the most powerful position any studio has ever been in, maybe since MGM in the 1990s,” the WSJ quotes one film buyer as saying. Like Lando Calrissian before the might of Vader, there’s not much to do for the business owners behind theaters except grin, bear it, and try to keep the Wookiee from choking anyone. Star Wars: The Last Jedi hits theaters December 15, 2017.
Clarification: Previous Star Wars films like The Force Awakens gave Disney 64 percent of ticket sales and included four-week theater holds, nearly matching the latest deal, but they reportedly did not include the 5 percent penalty for failing to meet the studio’s demands.