Elkader Cinema, a single-screen movie theater located in the town of Elkader, Iowa, will not show Star Wars: The Last Jedi this holiday season as a response to the strict terms Disney has laid out for locations interested in screening the sequel. Earlier this month, the Mouse House made waves when a list of outrageous Last Jedi guidelines for theaters was publicized in a report. Among the requirements are forking over 65 percent of the ticket sales to the studio, never pulling a showing without Disney's permission, and keeping Episode VIII in the largest auditorium for a period of four weeks. With box office figures declining, Disney had all the leverage in negotiations and used that to their full advantage (however unfair this may be).
In the case of nationwide chains with multiple auditoriums, this is a minor inconvenience, but the regulations put smaller theaters in a tight spot. Obviously, The Last Jedi is going to be one of 2017's biggest blockbusters, with its opening weekend projected at over $200 million. In a year that's seen the box office go on a stark decline, many theater owners are anxiously awaiting the boost in business the galaxy far, far away will bring, but Star Wars fans in Iowa are out of luck.
According to the Des Moines Register, Lee Akin, owner of Elkader Cinema, has not agreed to Disney's terms, saying, "The biggest reason I'm not going to show it is the four-week minimum play time. My little town cannot afford to play any movie for that long of a time." Akin said he would have difficulty getting all members of the town to his theater over the course of one week, so keeping a single movie for an entire month would be bad for business. Elkader Cinema shows films each day at 7 pm on weekdays and in the afternoon on weekends.
It's easy to understand where Akin is coming from, since he can only screen a single film each day. Judging by Elkader Cinema's showtime listings on Fandango, they keep the same title for about a week before moving on to the next one. For instance, comedy sequel A Bad Mom's Christmas is the featured movie starting tomorrow, November 17. By skipping The Last Jedi, Akin will be able to diversify a little bit during the lucrative holiday movie season by showing a variety of titles that will appeal to multiple demographics. Some of the biggest Christmas releases looking to hang tough amidst the Star Wars onslaught are Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Pitch Perfect 3, and The Greatest Showman. Elkader Cinema hasn't ironed out a December schedule yet, but it stands reason to believe all of those will be shown.
For Star Wars fans living in Iowa, it looks like they will have to travel out of state to see the Skywalker saga continue. Per Fandango, the next closest theater in the area is Prairie Cinema in Prairie Du Chein, Wisconsin. This seems to be something the people of Elkader are familiar with, however, as Akin has made the rather curious decision to not show Justice League during its opening week. This whole situation is frustrating for multiple reasons, but those who want to see The Last Jedi come December will find a way to do so.
Source: Des Moines Register
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019