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“Hollywood studios have the control as to how they release movies. The Big Q is, how does the business evolve?” — Paul Ebeling
Most big budget tent poles are being held back for a big-screen release, higher-priced home entertainment fare is becoming the industry standard for a wide array of titles that cannot wait out The China Virus chaos.
Hollywood returns to original form when it comes to grosses for PVOD (premium video on demand), a platform that came into its own when the novel coronavirus chaos resulted in cinema closures and the closing of theatrical windows.
Studios are declining to reveal their PVOD earnings, sans for the lone case of Universal and Trolls World Tour. Trolls cost $19.99 for a 48-hr rental, which has quickly become an industry standard.
This lack of disclosure prevents analysts from judging a film’s standing, it is crystal clear that big tent poles with a budget of $100-M+ need a theatrical release to be financially viable, which is why almost every mega-event pic slated for Y 2020 has been delayed for theatrical release.
The reach of the global box office in terms of merchandising, establishing franchises and generating billions in ticket sales cannot be replicated.
Conversely, smaller and mid-range titles may be able to recoup an acceptable amount of their cost if they do well on PVOD.
Yet no one is sure.
“Are these PVOD titles doing well? I have no idea. If they were really good, I would think studios would beat their chests about it,” says a Wall Street analyst from MKM Partners.
To date, the only 2 mega budget Hollywood t entpoles that have braved debuting during the medical emergency chaos are Warner Bros.’ Tenet and Disney’s Mulan, each of which cost $200-M to produce before marketing.
They debuted in the US over Labor Day weekend.
Global grosses for Tenet, which received a traditional run in theaters, stood at $334-M through 18 October. The vast majority has come from overseas. In North America, where theaters remain closed in such major markets as New York City and Los Angeles, Christopher Nolan’s epic has limped to $50.6-M. Film financing sources say Tenet must clear at least $400-M at the box office to break even, which is not likely to happen.
Mulan, directed by Niki Caro, premiered on Disney+ in the US and select international markets at a premium price of $29.99. In regions where the streaming service isn’t available, such as Asia, Mulan was made available to theaters. All told, Mulan has grossed only $66.8-M internationally.
According to Screen Engine’s ongoing survey of PVOD titles premiering during the chaos, Mulan tops the list of the most viewed title among potential home entertainment viewers, followed by Trolls World Tour, Warner Bros.’ Scoob!, Universal’s Invisible Man, MGM/Orion’s Bill and Ted Face the Music and Lionsgate’s Antebellum.
Universal has been an undisputable beneficiary of PVOD with titles such as Trolls World Tour and Judd Apatow’s King of Staten Island, among other films launched on PVOD since C-19 struck, including Focus Features’ entries Irresistible and The High Note. The Trolls sequel cost $90-M and generated $100-M in PVOD revenue in its 1st 3 wks of play in the US, while The King of Staten Island, which cost $35-M to produce before marketing, generated $40-M in PVOD revenue to date.
Have a healthy weekend, Keep the Faith!