In a potentially transformative experience in the way Hollywood distributes its films, WarnerMedia has announced that it will launch its hit sequel. Wonder Woman 1984 On Christmas Day simultaneously in theaters and on its HBO Max subscription streaming service.
By announcing the Wonder woman decision, Jason Kilar, CEO of WarnerMedia, positioned the movement as a fan-friendly experience in an extraordinary time.
“We see an opportunity to do something decidedly fan-centric: give them the power to choose between going to local theaters or opening on HBO Max,” Kilar wrote. “Superfans will likely choose both.”
Major theater chains have strongly resisted studio and Netflix’s past efforts
Launching a big franchise film like the sequel to Wonder Woman on a streaming service along with a theatrical release represents a big shift in Hollywood tactics that could have long-term impacts.
“Glass continues to shatter in the historically rigid sequential exit windows of the feature film industry,” wrote industry analyst Rich Greenfield of Lightshed Partners. in a post this week.
Wonder woman is one of the largest franchises in the WarnerMedia portfolio, the eponymous 2017 film that rebooted the franchise with gross sales of $ 821 million worldwide, just over half that of the United States. United.
The suite had to be even bigger. It probably cost over $ 200 million, with tens of millions already spent on marketing. And Kilars’ announcement follows other notable experiences and failures, amid pandemics of extraordinary dislocations.
While most Hollywood studios have pushed almost all of their big movies in 2021, WarnerMedia has released another potential blockbuster, Christopher Nolans. Principle, in theaters. This was in part because of the directors’ strong emphasis on a traditional version.
But Principle only grossed $ 56 million domestically after two months in theaters, far less than any recent Nolan movie. Even with an additional $ 297 million at the international box office, Principle was a huge financial loss for WarnerMedia.
Disney made the film version of Hamilton available for free on Disney + in July, after a theatrical release. The move worked wonderfully, resulting in some 7 million signups to the service that month at a time when Disney + had few other original new shows.
Then Disney put on the live-action Mulan on the service, but only for subscribers who paid an additional $ 30. Disney has not released any figures but Mulan is widely considered to have underperformed the costs of producing and marketing films. Now Disney + will debut the upcoming Pixar movie, Soul, also on Christmas day.
And NBCUniversal is using a revenue-sharing deal it signed with big movie chains AMC and Cinemark to bring eight films to its online outlets in as little as 17 days after their theatrical debut over the next few weeks. . Many of them are far low budget projects Wonder Woman 1984, whose production is estimated at 200 million dollars.
Greenfield has suggested that the WarnerMedia day-and-date plan could become a new normal, especially as the pandemic continues even as vaccinations slowly roll out across the country.
“Experiment or not, this is a really big deal for the global film industry,” Greenfield wrote. “It reminds us of the crack that starts in the movie Ice Age, when Scrat pulls the acorn out of the ice and ends up triggering an avalanche. “
Greenfield was among the loudest voices urging Hollywood studios to step up into the future of streaming. He even suggested in a separate post this week that WarnerMedia and NBCUniversal merge and their parent companies completely withdraw from the content business.
Greenfield said the move should boost HBO Max, which suffered from brand confusion and a sloppy launch that took place around the time Kilar took over as CEO. A former head of Hulu and the failing video startup Vessel, Kilar has since decided to restructure WarnerMedias operations to focus on streaming first, shedding hundreds of jobs and even entire units.
Kilar also shut down two apps built around the original pay-TV channel HBO, in an effort to reduce brand confusion. Statistics show that the confusion persists, with only 30% of HBO subscribers aware that they can also get all the extra programming on HBO Max for the same price that they already pay only for HBO.
Making a blockbuster available for free on the service (and not on HBO, at least in the initial window) should encourage conversions of existing HBO subscribers, new signups, and a reduced churn rate. All of this will be important as competition in the subscription streaming market becomes even tougher with the debut in the coming years of ViacomCBS’s enhanced and renowned Paramount + service and a Discovery service.
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