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Disney movie delays imply Americans are not ready to return to theaters

As the number of COVID-19 cases climb, the movie industry continues to delay the release of movies. Yahoo Finance’s Dan Roberts joins The Final Round panel to discuss how Disney’s recent announcement to delay the release of more movies will impact the movie industry.

Video Transcript

MYLES UDLAND: All right, let's switch gears here and talk a bit about what is going on in the movie theater space today. Getting a bunch of news on Disney delaying the release of several Marvel movies. And Dan Roberts, we've talked a lot through the summer about the process of reopening theaters, how much demand there must be. We have seen that it is quite underwhelming, at least here in the US. And Disney now kicking the can on a couple of films. And I kind of feel like this isn't going to be the last announcement, even for these specific set of films.

DAN ROBERTS: Yeah, that's interesting, yeah. Disney today announced five more delays. And most notably, the "Marvel Black Widow" delay, which has already been pushed a number of times now. It's being pushed from November into May 2021. So I guess your take, Myles, is that you think it'll get delayed even pass that. Three of these are Marvel movies, including the "Eternals" being delayed from Feb 2021 all the way till November 2021.

So I think you have to interpret this as Disney showing that it isn't very confident in the idea that movie theaters are back yet or about to be back anytime soon. And if the Disney delays are enough for you, one week ago, Warner Brothers delayed again, "Wonder Woman 1984," starring Gal Godot. And that's actually the sixth time that movie has been delayed, although only three of those delays were due to the pandemic.

But combined, these two studios, which had so many hopes on their shoulders that their movies would bring back movie theaters, are I think, even if they're not saying it explicitly, arriving at the same conclusion, which is that for the most part, even though there are some exceptions, and obviously, some people want to see "Tenet" here in the US, it grossed nearly $20 million in its opening weekend in the US, but that was very disappointing.

And that number even was massaged to include weekday preview screenings for the media. Some people are going back, but for the most part, most American moviegoers just aren't comfortable yet. And that's fine. Personally, as I've said on this show, I've gone to see two movies in theaters. We saw "The Personal History of David Copperfield" we also saw "Tenet." And we went in Connecticut theaters. In Connecticut, the cases are down big time and everyone wore mask and theater was very, very strict about wear the mask for the whole movie. The theater was very sanitized. There were only like 12 other people in the screening.

I felt safe, but I totally understand, and clearly the data is showing, that a large number of people just still don't feel comfortable doing that. I mean, it's a simple binary thing. They're indoors. And they think, you're indoors, you're not safe. So all these movies getting delayed. And then it has to make you wonder, are more big blockbusters going to go straight to streaming? Hard to say how well "Mulan" has done. Disney hasn't really put out specific numbers. All it said was, it's very pleased, which is meaningless.

But there was an estimate that something like 30% of US Disney Plus subscribers bought "Mulan." So that's fine. I mean, it made some amount of money. Of course, it looks like it's still going to become free for all Disney Plus subscribers in December. And because of those very bad reviews, including from Melody Hahm, who's on this show right now, I am not rushing to buy "Mulan" for $30. We're going to wait until December. But for the most part, as someone who loves movies and loves movie theaters and hopes they come back, all of these indications are sad to me. But it's the case, it's the truth, it's the reality.

MYLES UDLAND: Dan, would you like share your 10 second review of "David Copperfield" with the class?

DAN ROBERTS: Oh, we thought it was lovely. It really did justice to the Dickens, great characters. And by the way, especially right now with everything going on, great extremely diverse cast. So I recommend it when it inevitably hits Disney Plus very soon.

MYLES UDLAND: All right, there you have it. Dan Roberts with his latest movie review and the update on what is not coming to theaters near you soon.