When Disney completed their all-consuming acquisition of 20th Century Fox earlier this year, they inherited a slate of films that were already in the can and jostling for release. So as well as an enormous amount of archived content that would bolster the launch of Disney+ (The Simpsons), they also had to handle the marketing and distribution for the likes of The Art of Racing in the Rain, X-Men: Dark Phoenix, and Ad Astra. It doesn’t take an expert to see a pattern emerging with those titles, and now Disney chief creative officer and co-chairman Alan Horn has been addressing the “disappointing” performances during Variety’s Business Managers Breakfast.
On the weekend when the latest of their inherited titles, Le Mans ’66 aka Ford v Ferrari, is set to buck the trend and over-perform at the US box office to the tune of $30 million, Horn called the past performances “disappointing”, but that “everyone learns from failure. I certainly experienced failure in my career. We were disappointed at the results of those films.”
He went on to provide further clarification on the handover process of the films in question, stating that “Before the acquisition, we were not allowed to see them because of the so-called gun jumping rules. We are not allowed to interact with them, give them advice, tell them what to do or what not to do. We were completely hands off, it was up to them. But it’s the movie business. I don’t want to be critical. Some of these pictures, I enjoyed them. I liked them. The Art of Racing in the Rain, I enjoyed the movie. It’s just rough out there. It’s competitive. It’s more challenging than ever before. There are good films that will lose money and there are films that are not so good that will make money. Who knows.”
Whatever you think of Disney’s monopolisation of the market, it doesn’t appear to bother the money men. Horn addressed this directly by saying “We do have an out-sized share of the market for sure, that’s because people get up, go to the theatre, pay their money and watch our movies. I think, for me, I can’t apologise for the collective market share we enjoy. I know we enjoy a huge segment of the market share available, but I don’t want to apologise for it. I think our films are very different from one another, but it’s fair to say, ‘Gee whizz, these guys and ladies enjoy a very hefty percentage of the box office.’ But that falls outside of my job description, my job is the shepherd the making of these movies as best I can.”
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