During the weekend, Disney did something pretty unprecedented: he emailed reporters about his box office totals. Why? Well, it was also unprecedented: his latest Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, Black Widow, had grossed more than $ 60 million in video-on-demand sales on Disney +. This was on top of the $ 80 million the film made domestically and the $ 78 million it raked in international markets. Black Widow, it seems, has been successful – one of the first to use the hybrid cinema-broadcast release model, and the largest since Covid-19 restrictions shut down most theaters in 2020.
After more than a year of uncertainty in Hollywood about the future of the theater experience and how disruptive streaming would be, this news was huge. “In the past, many industry players feared that premium streaming or video on demand was entirely cannibalistic for movie theater revenues,” said Sarah Henschel, streaming analyst for Omdia. “Black Widow shows us that is not true. In other words, the gamble of releasing films in theaters the same day they are available for streaming or rental – a practice, more common in the world of independent cinema, which has been adopted for major studio releases. following Covid room closures – proved to be achievable. The twisting of the hands may subside.
But what is Black WidowDoes the global transport of more than $ 218 million mean, overall, for the future of film releases? It’s a bit more complicated. Yes, the studios – Disney in particular – are probably breathing a sigh of relief that it now seems possible to release movies on streaming services and in theaters simultaneously while making money. But not all studios are Disney, and not all movies are Black Widow– the last feature film of the Marvel juggernaut and a movie apparently liked by critics and the public.
Those looking for proof can’t look any further than, well, some of the other Disney releases this year. Cruel, for example, grossed around $ 21 million nationally in its opening weekend. Raya and the last dragon barely broke $ 8.5 million. Granted, the two came out in the spring when audiences were perhaps more wary of going to the movies, but they also didn’t spark email blasts about the money they did. they won on Disney +, so their streaming totals may not have been that impressive. Also of note, Warner Bros. ‘ Tom and Jerry, who came out a week before Raya, was available for free to HBO Max subscribers and grossed over $ 14 million, while Raya, like Black Widow, was a $ 30 rental. Until then this weekend Summer of the soul– Questlove’s 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival documentary – grossed around $ 1.4 million, although it was available to Hulu subscribers.
All this to say that it is a roll of the dice. The success of a movie in theaters and streaming depends on the type of movie and the audience it serves. While there’s no doubt that the traditional 90-day window between a movie’s theatrical release and its streaming / VOD debut is definitely closing, or at least shrinking, how the studios – and, for that matter, , movie channels – will navigate in which is full of open questions. For a movie with a built-in fan base like Black WidowIt’s a no-brainer: put it in theaters for big screen aficionados and send it to Disney + for families happy to deposit $ 30 so they don’t have to put everyone in the car or worry about Covid-19. For a movie like F9, which is part of a franchise built around the movie experience, keep it only in theaters, at least for a few weeks. Indies can go to art houses and stream the same day – moviegoers will find theaters, everyone will be using Netflix and chilling out. A movie like Dune, meanwhile, probably has enough hype to hit HBO Max on the same day as theaters and still make the money, since Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi classic is the kind of thing that longtime fans will want to experiment in a multiplex. These strategies are likely to move a movie to a movie, but the point is that movie release patterns won’t return to where they were before 2020. “I expect a lot of these hybrid release strategies will vary. depending on the title, “says Henschel,” but they’re here to stay. “