Star Wars: The Last Jedi Opening Weekend Canada Interview
Interview with Greg Mason, VP of Marketing at Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Canada
With this being the second Biggest Canadian opening (exactly 17 million), is Disney satisfied with the release gross and critical response to the film?
Greg: Absolutely, we’re thrilled. It’s just nice to see Carrie Fisher’s final performance being embraced by so many folks. We had high hopes for the film, but I do think this exceeds all expectations. Especially in Canada, it’s just been phenomenal. We’re really happy.
Is The Last Jedi opening similarly well across the domestic market and worldwide?
Greg: It is, it’s opening very well everywhere and it’s got a wonderful global reception.
Do you anticipate the film to hold the top spot against the many releases that follow it in its second week?
Greg: I would hope so, but you never know. As a betting man I would say yes we have a very good shot of that. You never know how the box office gods are going to treat you.
It's impressive to the have the top 5 Canadian openings, do you anticipate a Star Wars anthology film taking one of those spots in the future?
Greg: Well we have big hopes for a new Star Wars Anthology. You probably saw we have Rian Johnson to do that which speaks volumes to his skill set. Considering we did that before the film even came out, we weren’t even waiting for that. So we do have high hopes for a new trilogy in the future for lots more in the Star Wars universe. Where it lands box office wise consumers will tell us that and we certainly have high hopes for more Star Wars stories in the future
Is the film expected to continue with its momentum throughout the holidays and do you feel that over time these winter Star Wars releases might become a natural part of everyone's winter season?
Greg: Well it’s funny; if you’ve seen the comic someone has drawn, a funny comic where they’re counting down to Christmas, but instead they’re counting down to Star Wars. It is becoming a sort of nice holiday tradition we have with the films. It’s about every two years that it’s lining up. I think through the holidays, especially Canadians tend to go to more movies during the week between Christmas, New Years and Boxing Day. We go to more films than any other time of the year.
I think this is a film, there are certain films you have to see on the big screen that warrant multiple viewings and I think this does both of those things. I’ve seen it three times already and I noticed things I hadn’t seen the first couple times. There are always little hidden things that are really special in that film. I do think that it will play long and well and people are going to enjoy seeing it multiple times.
With this being the last Disney film of the year, does it help wrap up a successful selection of releases?
Greg: It has been a terrific year, absolutely. We kicked it off with Beauty and Beast and finished with The Last Jedi. Very privileged to have those two films along with everything in between. I do love the strategy that the company has taken; getting behind some bigger, larger tent pole films and taking a big swing. It seems to be working and I hope it continues into the future.
Is Disney expecting similar results with the 2018 line up of scheduled films?
Greg: I think it’s how they’re embraced. I mean results are certainly important. Obviously we’re making the films to entertain and delight but we certainly like the box office results to go along with that. More than anything I think this is a very fortunate time to be at Disney. We have all of our areas firing at all cylinders. Lucasfilms doing well, Marvel, Pixar, even Disney animation and so is Disney live action with films like Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast. It’s a privileged time to be at the Walt Disney company and have all these divisions at all cylinders. Producing such first rate product, so looking ahead I have a lot of faith in the calendar and what lies ahead. I do believe we’re going to have another terrific year.
Looking to next year Infinity Wars and Solo release close together, is there any worry of an overlap for the two films?
Greg: Not overlap, I think it will be a busy movie going time period. If you look at any May calendar throughout the ages, go back any year. There has always been multiple big tent pole type films in multiples dates in May. It just happens there are two from the same company. We’re very confident with both pictures, we’re very excited and think they will do well.
The release of Solo is scheduled rather close to Episode 8 since they're around five months apart, do you feel there might be any Star Wars fatigue felt there in terms box office reception?
Greg: I mean time will tell, I think it’s hard to use the word fatigue after the second biggest opening. One would hope not, I think what our film makers are doing really well is concentrating on telling really great stories. Characters you love and embrace, I would never bet against Ron Howard he’s a remarkable film maker and what he’s doing and how he’s wrapping up this film. It’s incredible. I have a lot of faith in him and the audience is going to tell us if we’ve done the right job or not.
In 2018 are there any particular Disney films we should look out for or be watching?
Greg: I think there’s a couple that are obvious as you’ve mentioned The Avengers, Solo folks are ready for that. The Incredibles 2 is going to be very exciting. I think the ones to watch for that will be interesting is A Wrinkle in Time, that film has something special. Ava DuVernay putting that together with Oprah, Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling.
I’m really anxious to see how that will turn out, I think that will be something special in March. I’m also very much looking forward to Christmas time next year when we release our version of The Nutcracker. Which we just put out a new poster, there’s a new trailer coming and I think that will give people sort of a flavor. I haven’t felt this way about a film since Narnia in terms of that fantasy escape. It feels very much like how I felt when I worked on the Chronicles of Narnia.
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