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Why Different International Release Dates Just Don’t Work

In a world where everything can be posted and seen online, this does not exclude the online world of movie spoilers, leaks and pirated film copies. Yes, as film fans, we all love the medium of film and want to support the industry as much as we can. However, for the sake of our enjoyment, sometimes getting a pirated copy of the film is the only way that we can avoid spoilers or leaks of the big blockbusters.

Film For Thought, Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Avengers: Infinity War (2018) – source: Marvel Studios

This became a big issue when Avengers: Infinity War was being released. Originally, the film was going to be shown to a European audience one week before the USA were due to receive it. This is standard for most Marvel films, and has worked for them in the past. However, with massive plot points and spoilers filling this 2.5 hour flick, one minuscule rumour would have potentially ruined a cinema-going experience for the American audience, the biggest box-office potential in the world.

So, and rightfully so, they decided to give the entire world the same release date. Within that, they broke numerous box-office records, made it to the $2 billion club and kept the film’s biggest secrets under wrap all at the same time. In short, it was a smart move for Marvel to make.

So, why isn’t this standard practice in Hollywood?

The next film that the MCU had lined up was Ant-Man and the Wasp, a much smaller film but was coming from some huge success such as Avengers: Infinity War and Black Panther. Surely with a bit of an advertising campaign, a large audience would go out and see this film, even over events such as the World Cup per say.

Film For Thought, Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018) – source: Marvel Studios

Well Marvel didn’t believe in this film nearly as much, and therefore didn’t want to have it clash in the countries that were strong contenders in the World Cup. With Ant-Man and the Wasp, the USA got it on June 25th, and places like the UK had to wait over a month to see it, finally releasing on August 3rd. For a Marvel film with a pretty big spoiler in the end-scene credit to be held back for a large part of their audience for over a month, this was a bad decision in my opinion.

By that point, only a small amount of people were remaining to see it and therefore people assumed that spoilers were fair game. I was honestly shocked I hadn’t been spoiled myself. I’m normally the first out of my friends to see the movie, yet my boyfriend saw it in Dubai and my good friend from the Netherlands both got to see it before I did.

This isn’t even the only time that Walt Disney Studios had pushed the release of a film in the UK for the World Cup. One of my most anticipated movies of the year, Incredibles 2, was set to be pushed back by a month to avoid the tournament. This one was not a shock to me as Pixar has been known to push their releases back in the UK, but I will talk about that very soon.

Why a football tournament was going to affect the viewership numbers for a family film such as Incredibles 2 just baffles me honestly. A lot of people who love film and are regular cinema goers aren’t going to stop hitting the cinema purely for a game of football. In my opinion, the demographics are very different and it seems unfair to punish the film fans who don’t want spoilers or to wait longer for a movie just because of football fans.

Film For Thought, Incredibles 2 (2018)
Incredibles 2 (2018) – source: Pixar Animations

Now, in terms of Pixar Animations, that is a completely different story. I have remembered for years now that Pixar like to release their films a lot later in the UK. This can be up to 3 months, as it was with the likes of Coco and Inside Out. This has to do with holidays and target audiences. Pixar knows that a big majority of their box office comes from families and children, and unfortunately the UK and US celebrate very different holidays.

Coco was released around October 2017 in the USA, which is a time that is near Thanksgiving, the biggest holiday in the USA. However, the closest holiday to that for the UK is Christmas, and even then that is not a major cinema-going time. Alongside that, the UK had their own local children’s films that were blowing up such as Paddington. It is a game of strategy, but it just seems unfair that one country has to wait longer than others due to scheduling conflicts.

This isn’t even a concept specifically targeted at films and cinemas. This is even more guilty in the name of television. If you live outside of the USA, then finding the biggest TV shows the second they air is going to be near impossible. They may try to stop pirating or illegal streaming, but for a majority of us it is the only way a show is going to be watched. Yes, we have the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime that upload their shows worldwide at the same time, but that doesn’t mean the battle is far from over. Any network show is still a battle, and a lot of us are too impatient or worried about major spoilers to wait until the entire season is uploaded or shown in our home countries.

Film For Thought, Supernatural (2005-Present)
Supernatural (2005-Present) – source: The CW

Whilst I try my absolute hardest not to illegally watch films under any circumstance, with shows there is just no way I can stand by that. I will watch the likes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Supernatural the day after they are released in the USA, because there is no way I am waiting four to six months for them to get shown on E4 in the UK. Supernatural isn’t even on the UK Netflix or the likes of Now TV or Amazon Prime, so aside from E4 or the DVD boxset there is no way to get access to the show. Brooklyn Nine-Nine is about to be put Netflix worldwide, well of course aside from the UK (typical).

Avengers: Infinity War did a lot to help push forward an argument as to why there shouldn’t be separate release dates around the world. However, the World Cup threw that off and now we are left in a situation where I personally feel Ant-Man and the Wasp underperformed in the UK box office due to people thinking that the film had already been released, spoilers getting in the way of a rush to go out and see it and potentially a large chunk of their audience just illegally streaming it at home.

I know that things are improving, but a lot more needs to be done. Will it ever be perfect? No. It’s just not logistically possible. However, if we can get to a place where countries don’t have to wait months between each other for the same content, then that would be a great start. I don’t know about you, but I do not want to wait a month longer for Captain Marvel next year.

Do you agree with me that films and TV shows should be shown at the same time worldwide, or do you think that they should be shown at the best time for each country? Let me know your opinions in the comments below.

Until next time, that was some film for thought.

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