Features and Columns · Movies

Disney and the Movie Theater Monopoly of Madness

Why does Disney’s vice grip on movie theaters feel so threatening these days?
the star of Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness
Walt Disney
By  · Published on May 30th, 2022

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay that looks at how and why Disney monopolizes movie theater screens.


Earlier this month, ScreenCrush editor Matt Singer tweeted a screengrab of the screening schedule for Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness at the AMC theater in Times Square, New York. The schedule boasted an overwhelming wall of time slots. And you’d be forgiven for thinking that the latest Marvel flick was the only thing playing at the theater.

A couple of caveats: running a movie theater in this, the post-pandemic year of our dark lord 2022, is an uphill battle. More and more folks are content to watch new releases from the comfort of their homes once they hit streaming services. And, depending on your access to indie cinemas, going to your local multiplex is becoming more of a luxury than a way to spend a casual lazy Saturday. There are a good handful of folks who only go to see films at the theater if there’s guaranteed spectacle or if they want to get ahead of potential spoilers. I certainly don’t begrudge theater owners from doing what they need to do to survive financially. And I don’t hold it against audience members who don’t feel like shelling out the big bucks to watch a crummy DCP preceded by thirty minutes of car ads.

And before the Disney stands crawl goblin-like out of the woodwork, this isn’t a high versus low art thing. This is a Disney makes almost all of the contemporary franchise films thing. And when a new Star War rolls into town, best believe that that’s what’s going to be showing on almost every screen at the multiplex.

Today’s video essay takes a look at why Disney having a monopoly on movie screens isn’t such a good thing. If you’re familiar with your Hollywood history, you’ll know that there was once a great deal of concern about keeping distributors and exhibitors separate to promote diversity and creative competition. While streaming services (which both create and exhibit their own content) have been muddying these waters for some time, I think there’s definitely a case to be made that Disney’s screen-monopoly is verging into the waters Hollywood forefathers once feared.

But enough from me, check out the video essay below and make up your mind for yourself:

Watch “Why Disney Is Destroying Movie Theaters”:


Who made this?

This video essay on why Disney’s movie theater monopoly should scare us is by Karsten Runquist, a Chicago-based video essayist. You can check out Runquist’s back catalog and subscribe to his channel on YouTube here. You can follow Runquist on Twitter here.

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Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).