There’s a new chapter in the great rewriting of film distribution rules. Raya and the Last Dragon, the latest feature from Walt Disney Animation Studios (WDAS), has come out simultaneously in theaters and for a $30 premium fee on Disney+. This is Disney’s first such release, and the initial results are a little underwhelming.
Raya debuted at the top of the still-tiny domestic box office, taking an estimated $8.6M from 2,045 theaters. It opened with around 39% less than Tom & Jerry last week, which took $14.1M, even though Disney’s release was better-reviewed than Warner Bros.’s hybrid cat-and-mouse reboot. What’s more, Tom & Jerry launched day-and-date on HBO Max — for free. Of course, it had world-famous characters on its side, while Raya is an original story.
Then there’s the fact that Raya wasn’t played by Cinemark, the U.S.’s third-biggest theater chain. Disney’s terms were reportedly unappealing to the company, which told Deadline: “While we are having conversations with The Walt Disney Company, we have not yet reached agreeable licensing terms for Raya and the Last Dragon.”