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Some Theaters Are Refusing to Show ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’

Lucasfilm
Lucasfilm

While Disney and Lucasfilm are preparing to unleash Star Wars: The Last Jedi in theaters on December 15, some theater owners aren’t feeling the Force — specifically, the demands Disney has in place for screenings and their cut of the profits. Although most moviegoers in larger markets with bigger theaters won’t have to worry about missing out on the next chapter in the Star Wars saga, fans in smaller cities might get burned.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the massive success of the Star Wars and Marvel franchises has emboldened Disney to make more aggressive demands with theaters regarding The Last Jedi. In strict terms that some owners are calling “the most onerous they’ve ever seen,” Disney is requiring 65 percent of ticket sales and a stipulation that the film be screened in the largest auditorium for at least five weeks.

This is in contrast to the 64 percent of profits and four-week runs in agreements for previous Star Wars movies. If a theater fails to keep their end of the deal, they’ll be subject to a five percent penalty (making Disney’s cut 70 percent, total). That may not seem like a huge deal to some, but there are a couple of things to keep in mind.

First, some smaller theaters — particularly those in rural areas — may only have two or three screens, so dedicating one entirely to The Last Jedi for five weeks isn’t exactly reasonable. That’s the other thing: Star Wars doesn’t own December. It’s a big month for new film releases, including a couple of major ones (Jumanji and The Greatest Showman) and buzzy awards contenders (The Disaster Artist, Phantom Thread, and Molly’s Game, to name a few).

Thankfully, the majority of fans won’t be left out in the cold on December 15, when The Last Jedi hits (most) theaters. But a few may have to take a little road trip to see the new sequel.

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