French exhibitors breathed a collective sigh of relief this week with the confirmation that Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe blockbuster Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will go ahead with its theatrical release in the country on November 9.
The Black Panther sequel was at risk of skipping French theaters altogether as Disney continues to express its discontent with the country’s new media chronology laws, which have hampered the studio’s roll-out of titles on its streaming platform, Disney+, in the market. While Disney is unconcerned with France’s theatrical exclusivity window, the public broadcast television window has proved challenging for the studio’s slate availability on its streaming platform. Disney pulled the theatrical release of Strange World, its upcoming animated title, from the French market due to these concerns.
“The public authorities have clearly recognized the need to modernize [France’s] media chronology and a precise timetable is now in place to discuss this. In this context, The Walt Disney Company has therefore decided to confirm the theatrical release of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever on November 9,” reads an official press release from the studio. “As previously stated, the current media chronology is not aligned with consumers’ viewing behaviors and expectations. It is counterproductive and puts all producers and artists at increased risk of piracy. For all these reasons, we share the opinion of the majority of players in our sector, who agree that the new media chronology must be completely revised. As we have done so far, we will contribute constructively to the reflections and debates during the next meetings with all the players in the sector, organized under the aegis of the CNC [France’s government-sanctioned cinema trade body], in order to define a new framework to go in effect in February 2023 that is fair, flexible, and incentivizes the release of films in cinemas. In the meantime, we will continue to decide the release strategy for our films on a case-by-case basis.”
Keeping the release of the Black Panther sequel on November 9 is good news for theaters, but the industry now faces the challenge of marketing the title weeks away from its debut in theaters. The original Black Panther registered over 3.7 million in France in its 2018 release, equaling over $33 million in box office.