Disney+ May Keep Premier Access Post-COVID

Disney+ May Keep Premier Access Post-COVID

August 3, 2021

If you're a Disney+ and Marvel fan, you may have been following the blow-up between Scarlett Johanssen and Disney over its decision to release the Black Widow movie on Disney+ Premier Access simultaneously with the theatrical release. Disney countered with a COVID-related rebuttal, but it does beg the question: Will Premier Access thrive in a post-COVID world? 

Streamer's Spotlight: Disney's Premier Access Was a Response to COVID. Will It Exist when the Pandemic Ends?

The closure of movie theaters during 2020 (and into 2021) was devastating for the movie industry. Most films got pushed back, but to help salvage some of its investments, Disney launched its Premier Access option in September 2020. For the cost of about two primetime movie tickets, Disney has allowed the movie releases to continue.

The roll-out of vaccinations resulted in more theaters opening nationwide. Yet with vaccinations lagging and the Delta variant raging, Disney has chosen to keep some releases using Disney+ and theaters. That's not gone over so well with theaters and

, but there are reasons to believe Disney may keep its Premier Access option going even post-COVID. 

1. Premier Access Saves Disney Money

When Disney releases movies only through theaters, it must share the revenue with the theaters. In fact, movie theaters earn around

 That's quite a large take. And even after that, Disney needs to pay the actors a royalty percentage of all of the ticket sales, alongside others who get a piece of the pie.

With a direct-to-consumer model, Disney can collect all of the revenue, bypassing that 40% take that theaters enjoyed. And that means Disney can still profit handsomely, even if going direct-to-consumer through its Disney+ service results in, say, 25% fewer sales than it normally would have. In a normal situation, 

2. Despite Cost, Premier Access Is Working

There's no end to the amount of complaining about the Premier Access cost. Still, data indicates that the option has been making Disney money. Black Widow, for example, netted

through Premier Access in the first week. And Mulan

on its opening weekend. 

3. COVID May Have Changed Consumer Behavior for Years

This aspect of Premier Access and its post-COVID viability is hard to ignore. Several studies indicate that even after COVID ends, as many as

have no desire to go back to movie theaters, and may prefer to watch movies at home. You have to imagine Disney is looking at numbers like this, as well as other long-term trends related to consumers and physical movies, and seeing that people really would rather stream content. 

The biggest issue Disney is going to have to contend with is pricing. Assuming it can bring the costs down, it may find that Premier Access is a big winner in a post-COVID world. 

This Week's Streaming Guide

1. Netflix True Crime Story 'Shiny_Flakes' Premieres

Based on a true story, this film explores how a teenager profited big selling drugs online. Streaming TODAY (Aug 3). -

2. Disney's Experimental Short Story Show 'Short Circuit' Returns for Season 2

Enjoy more Disney Studies artists hoping to make a break with unique and engaging short animated content. Streaming this Wednesday (Aug 4). -

3. 'Suicide Squad' Remake Premiers on HBO Max

The next iteration of the Suicide Squad streams this Friday (August 6) on HBO Max. -

4.  'Godfather of Harlem' Starring Forrest Whitaker Returns for Season 2

After a hiatus, the popular Epix crime drama makes its return to complete Season 2. Available this Sunday (Aug 8). -

News and Industry Developments

1. Scarlett Johanssen Files Suit Over 'Black Widow' Disney+ Release

Despite getting part of the cut, the actress' suit claims the streaming release cost her money. -

2. Hulu + Live TV Getting NFL Network and NFL RedZone

While not perfect, that's a win for NFL fans. -

3. YouTube Is Rivaling Netflix in the Streaming Wars

If size and usage numbers are the biggest factor, YouTube is certainly dominant. -

4. FuboTV Dropped 6 Popular Channels

Among them? A&E and History Channel. -

Join the conversation

or to participate.