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Media & Entertainment

Disney shift to online premieres is a spoiler for Japanese cinemas

Business model threatens to dent box office revenues at home and abroad

The Disney+ online platform is where movie fans will catch the premiere of "Soul," an animated film initially slated for theatrical release. (Photo by Emi Sato)

PALO ALTO, U.S./TOKYO -- As Japanese cinemas enjoy the box office windfall of a Demon Slayer franchise smash hit, a certain cartoon mouse threatens to play villain and spoil the fun.

Under pressure from investors, Walt Disney is preparing to release new films online as a majority of theaters in the U.S. remain shuttered or at lower capacity due to coronavirus restrictions. Such a business model, however, would harm cinemas in Japan, which are very much open to audiences.

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