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The Real Reason Disney Won't Release Strange World Theatrically In France

In June 2022, Disney finally released a teaser trailer for its upcoming animated film "Strange World," showcasing the imaginative action-adventure film co-directed by Don Hall and Qui Nyugen. 

Hall previously made "Big Hero Six," and the same duo collaborated on 2021's "Raya and the Last Dragon" for the studio. "Strange World" promises to showcase exactly what's in its title — a strange world, with bizarre creatures and landscapes that move in weird ways. According to Variety, the pulp-influenced "Strange World" centers on the Clades, a family of explorers who set off on their most dangerous mission ever. The teaser indicates that the main character will be Searcher Clade, voiced by Jake Gyllenhaal. As opposed to his fearless and adventurous family members, Searcher can be heard affirming that he's a farmer, not an explorer (though of course, it seems he'll assume that role by the time "Strange World" has its way with the character). 

As appealing as "Strange World" looks, Disney enthusiasts in France may not have the opportunity to see it in theaters at all when it releases in November — and this decision all has to do with the French government's odd film distribution rules.

Disney won't release Strange World in French theaters, and here's why

It appears that Disney is declining to release "Strange World" theatrically in France due to the country's strict rules regarding the window between when films receive theatrical releases and land on streaming services. 

According to Variety, the French government created new rules in January and determined that Disney must allow four months to pass after its films' theatrical releases in France before it can release a movie for pay video-on-demand. France now also requires Disney to wait 17 months after a theatrical release to place a new film on a streaming subscription service (i.e. Disney+). France's guidelines also mandate that Disney temporarily pull its releases from its own streaming platforms after five months to allow other French channels an exclusive window to air those films for free.

As a result, "Strange World" will release directly to Disney+ in France instead of hitting movie theaters like it will in the rest of the world this fall. In a statement to Variety, Disney called France's distribution rules "anti-consumer." The company said those rules ignore how viewing behaviors have changed, and also ignores the increased risk of piracy for major films like "Strange World," were Disney to follow France's orders.

France's new rules were put in place in January 2022. According to Variety, its previous guidelines were even more strict and set a 36-month window for SVOD after a film's theatrical release. Netflix was reportedly the only major streamer to sign an agreement with France when the country released its new guidelines (via Variety). 

Unless something changes, French Disney fans will have to check out "Strange World" on Disney+, rather than theaters. Disney, Netflix, and other streaming giants have an opportunity to re-negotiate with France starting January 23, 2023.