Singapore

Disney exec: Cinema-going experience can’t be replaced

Company remains upbeat about future of the big screen even as it launches its Disney+ streaming service here

With Disney+ being the latest to join a growing list of online streaming platforms available in Singapore and an increasing number of films forced to migrate to the small screen due to the Covid-19 pandemic, could the death of cinema be on the horizon?

Not so fast, according to Mr Amit Malhotra, regional lead of emerging markets at The Walt Disney Company APAC.

Movie theatres will continue to be relevant - despite the studio releasing recent films such as Mulan and Soul and the upcoming animated feature Raya And The Last Dragon simultaneously in theatres and on Disney+.

Warner Bros. Pictures had earlier shocked Hollywood by announcing that its entire 2021 slate of movies will be available in theatres and on HBO Max on the same day.

Mr Amit told The New Paper in an interview at a Disney+ press event yesterday: "The cinema-going experience is one that is going to stay, and I don't think that can ever be replaced.

"We are hoping that when Covid-19 passes, we can all return to the theatres. Cinema-going will come back. After all, Disney makes films for the big screen."

He added: "Disney+ is really about giving consumers the choice and flexibility to consume content where they want it and when they want it."

Disney+ launches in Singapore on Feb 23 and viewers can expect to watch over 650 movies and 15,000 series from six content brands - Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic and Star.

The service will be available on a wide range of mobile and connected devices, including gaming consoles, streaming media players and smart TVs.

In addition, existing and new StarHub Mobile, TV and Broadband customers will be able to enjoy up to two years of access to Disney+.

To watch new films like Raya And The Last Dragon, which premieres on March 5, Disney+ subscribers will have to pay an as-yet-undisclosed Premier Access fee, on top of the $11.98 a month or $119.98 a year.

Fans can expect to binge on Marvel spin-off TV series such as WandaVision, The Falcon And The Winter Soldier, Loki and Hawkeye, but will Black Widow and phase four Marvel Cinematic Universe movies be following the hybrid release model too?

All Mr Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios and chief creative officer of Marvel, who joined the event via livestream from Los Angeles, would say is that these titles will "eventually" end up on Disney+.

"But when and how? That will be for someone else to answer other than myself," he teased.

He added: "I have been concerned about (people's cinema-going habits) for a year. Humans want to be together and, when we are able to safely, I am sure we will. Nothing beats that experience (of) being in a theatre full of people. I hope that will continue in the not-too-distant future."

Movies