While the USA continues to impatiently await next Friday’s arrival of blockbuster Marvel sequel Avengers: Age of Ultron into theaters, it should be noted that the film has already opened in multiple international markets. One such market is Germany, which began showing the movie in theaters on April 23rd.
Unfortunately, it appears that not all of Germany’s population will have a chance to watch The Avengers assemble once again.
According to a recent report by the German website Deutsche Welle, theaters within nearly 200 small towns in the country have declined to show Avengers: Age of Ultron on a total of nearly 700 screens. Contrary to what one might first assume when they hear about a foreign boycott of a domestic film, this decision has nothing to do with Age of Ultron’s content and everything to with cold hard cash.
The theaters choosing to not screen Avengers 2 primarily cite the fact that Marvel’s parent company Disney has chosen to raise its fee for showing the movie from 47.7 percent to 53 percent of ticket sales. As if that wasn’t enough to annoy rural German theater proprietors, Disney has also cut its contributions to local advertising for the film, and refused to provide advances toward the purchase of glasses for viewers to use during Age of Ultron’s corresponding 3D presentation.
On the surface, it’s easy to think that this boycott won’t mean much to the goliath that is Disney. After all, Age of Ultron will surely make hundreds of millions – perhaps even billions – of dollars worldwide via the rest of the world markets that aren’t choosing to not show the film, and most of these German towns in question have a population of less than 50,000 people each.
Still, when you consider how universally popular Marvel’s films are, by playing hardball and not giving in to the demands of these German theaters, Disney is effectively agreeing to lose millions of dollars it could have made from those now nonexistent ticket sales. Also, the company is certainly not engendering good will with the everyday Germans who are now being forced to travel to a major city and pay higher ticket prices in order to take in Joss Whedon’s latest comic book spectacle.
Furthermore, there is the future to consider. Disney has Marvel’s Ant-Man coming out in July, and the enormous shadow of Star Wars: The Force Awakens looms in December. If Disney can’t come to terms with these German theaters, are they really going to be willing to lose that much money over the course of 2015? The ball seems to be in Mickey’s court on this one.
Avengers: Age of Ultron hits (domestic) theaters on May 1st, 2015.