Anytime Marvel boss Kevin Feige sits down to talk about the state of the industry, people tend to sit up and take notice. Feige’s films are the new gold standard of Hollywood blockbusters; any list of the highest-grossing movies of all time is littered with Marvel productions, from the original ‘Avengers‘ movie to last year’s “Captain America: Civil War.” So it’s no surprise to find out that Feige is a big proponent of the theatrical experience, arguing that VOD cannot replace the communal spirit found at your local multiplex.
The big quote here is Feige’s defense of theatrical distribution. As Deadline notes, unlike some of the other major studios, Disney is not a huge fan of the current trend towards releasing movies on VOD alongside their theatrical release. Feige specifically calls the potential loss of the theatrical experience “pretty sad,” noting that the communal experience of seeing movies in theaters is what makes their industry great.
I prefer to watch movies in a theater with a lot of people, and the loss of that experience would be pretty sad. The movies we make are best enjoyed on a big screen with a crowd… I hope that communal experience of going to the movies remains for a long time and we make movies that are worthy of getting into the car and worth going to a parking lot.
Feige also wants to make movies that fans will obsess over, specifically pointing to this year’s live-action adaptation of “Beauty and the Beast” as the type of theatrical experience he tries to create each and every time. While the studio understandably tries to sell as many tickets as possible, Feige views return customers — those who will see a movie like “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” multiple times in theaters — as the bread and butter of the exhibition industry.
If you look at a film like “Beauty and the Beast” you don’t get to those numbers unless there’s a significant amount of people viewing. We make movies to be seen multiple times, not just because we want people to keep buying tickets, which we do, but we’ve grown up obsessing over the movies we love. It’s fun to revisit and revisit movies again and again.
Of course, when you operate at Marvel’s level, you have the luxury of demanding — and getting — a big push for your theatrical release. VOD has never been a one-size-fits-all approach to the industry, with smaller films that will never see a wide release connecting with audiences online. Regardless of what the future holds for exhibitors, we can at least expect Marvel’s movies to play at a theater near us for a long time to come.