- Experts say “Godzilla vs. Kong,” the best opening show in the face of the pandemic, is promising for theaters, but they urge caution.
- The movie was also a hit on HBO Max, but WB plans to drop day-and-date releases after this year.
- Still, a studio executive said WB is in talks with exhibitors to shorten the theatrical window.
- See more stories on the Insider business page.
After more than a year, the US theater industry finally had some good news.
Warner Bros.’s new monster battle “Godzilla vs. Kong,” and Legendary’s “MonsterVerse,” earned $ 48.5 million at the domestic box office in its first five days, and $ 32.2 million during the three days. Easter weekend days (a pandemic). better opening. So far it has made more than $ 285 million worldwide (it cost $ 200 million to produce).
It’s more impressive considering the movie, like all Warner Bros. ‘movies this year, also debuted on the WarnerMedia streaming service.
the same day it hit theaters.
Does that suggest that viewers will continue to watch movies in theaters, whether they are broadcasting or not?
“Many audiences actively seek the big screen, great sound, and shared experience [of movie theaters]”Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros. president of national theatrical distribution, told Insider.” With the right properties, theatrical display can significantly ignite a cultural moment and increase the entire value chain. ”
But while the numbers indicate some hope for movie theaters that have been rocked by shutdowns related to the pandemic, experts warn that the industry is not out of the woods just yet.
“It’s difficult to determine anything concretely from a single movie, especially after the year we’ve had it,” said Jeff Bock, Senior Media Analyst for Exhibitor Relations.
He added that cinemas “just have to continue to provide a safe and engaging environment for audiences, as ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ certainly shows that people are ready to come back for the right movie.”
“While the film saw a large increase in box office performance relative to ‘Wonder Woman 1984,’ we are still well below how films had performed prior to the pandemic and there remain concerns that a significant portion of viewers now prefer streaming at home, “said Joe McCormack, an analyst at research firm Third Bridge.
The National Association of Theater Owners (NATO), the largest theater trade group, warned that while theaters in the US are heading in the right direction, markets in Canada, Europe and Latin America are still struggling.
“We are a national and global industry, and we need many of those markets to rebound to secure the greatest box office potential for global hits,” a NATO spokesperson told Insider in a statement.
While cinemas still have a long road to recovery, the film suggests that theatrical and streaming distribution strategies can coexist.
Theatrical windows will never be the same again
“Godzilla vs. Kong” wasn’t just a box office hit. HBO Max said the film had the highest ratings in its first four days of any title since the service launched last May.
In response to the performance of “Godzilla vs. Kong,” some analysts praised WarnerMedia’s day-and-date release strategy, which received backlash from Hollywood after it was announced in December.
Rich Greenfield of Lightshed Partners indicated on Twitter that Max was the number one app in Apple’s app store on Sunday and said “the future is the day and date of releases.” B. Riley Securities analyst Eric Wold improved his stance on shares in AMC Theaters, the world’s largest theater chain, from “neutral” to “buy.”
Warner Bros.’ The strategy reflects a major shift in film distribution amid the pandemic.
But NATO, the theater’s trade group, is not convinced it will have lasting consequences.
“Exhibitors, of course, are concerned about significant changes to launch models, including the length of the unique theatrical window,” the NATO spokesman said. “It’s important to understand that pandemic release models, driven in part by the need for studio revenue right now, may bear little resemblance to what comes next, when the theatrical market can operate at full capacity. part of the studio movie production just doesn’t make sense, or benefit, without a solid theatrical performance. “
Still, there are already signs that the traditional theatrical window, typically 75 to 90 days before the pandemic, could be a thing of the past. Warner Bros. isn’t the only movie studio to accept streaming during the pandemic and it could have lasting ramifications for theaters.
Major studios like Warner Bros., Universal, and Paramount have struck deals with exhibitors to drastically shorten the window beyond 2021. That doesn’t mean day-and-date releases like the ones Warner Bros. is doing now, but it does mean that movies could end up on streaming or digital rental platforms sooner than ever.
Warner Bros., for example, struck a deal with Cineworld (which owns Regal Cinemas) to reduce the window to 45 days from 2022. Goldstein, the studio’s head of national theatrical distribution, told Insider that Warner Bros. .is in discussions with other exhibitors for similar offers.
He suggested that the day and date model is for 2021 only, which Warner Bros. had previously emphasized.
“Our strategy for the day and date was right for us given the market is limping at the moment,” Goldstein said. “Our plan for 2022 makes sense for that time frame.”