Streaming vs theatrical launch will get its first main take a look at

Gal Gadot plays Wonder Woman in Warner Bros. “Wonder Woman 1984”.

Warner bros.

Last weekend was the first real test of the performance of blockbuster films on streaming services when released in theaters at the same time.

On Christmas Day, AT & T’s WarnerMedia premiered “Wonder Woman 1984”, the first film in his experiment to release its list of upcoming films simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max. The result? “Wonder Woman 1984” set a pandemic box office record in the United States and Canada with box office sales of $ 16.7 million.

But the streaming numbers were a bit fuzzy.

WarnerMedia did not provide exact figures. Almost half of HBO Max subscribers streamed the film on Christmas Day. This makes it difficult to pinpoint exactly how many people saw “Wonder Woman 1984” at home, since HBO Max’s retail subscribers make up only the small fraction of people who subscribe to the service directly rather than through their cable provider. (Many cable providers give you access to HBO Max if you already have a “regular” HBO subscription.)

So was the WarnerMedia experiment successful? It’s hard to say for sure. It’s a sample size of a movie and we’re forced to work with limited company data. But at least we have some good evidence that popcorn movies are in high demand.

Let’s summarize what this all means:

WarnerMedia was careful not to reveal too much about how “Wonder Woman 1984” performed while streaming. When the company made its bold announcement earlier this month, industry directors and producers immediately pushed the decision back. Patty Jenkins, the director of both Wonder Woman films, implied in an interview with the New York Times that she would not direct a third episode without a guarantee that it will be in theaters. (Jenkins apparently got what she wanted, and WarnerMedia announced on Sunday that she would be writing and directing the third film in the series.)

By blurring the streaming numbers, WarnerMedia was able to both herald the power of HBO Max and brag that it had the most successful theatrical release of the pandemic. That should make the filmmakers a little happy that the company isn’t giving up cinema releases entirely after the pandemic.

Millions of people were more likely to see Wonder Woman 1984 at home than in theaters.

The final number of “retail customers” for HBO Max is 3.6 million as of October. In total, HBO Max had 12.6 million subscribers in early December. Although WarnerMedia said only half of these retail subscribers watched on Christmas Day, there are millions more households who likely streamed the movie beyond that.

Rich Greenfield, a media analyst with LightShed, predicted on Twitter that “Wonder Woman 1984” was seen by more people in the US than the first film released in theaters in 2017. This assumes that several people in the average household were watching together.

There is a pent-up demand to go to the theater.

Even in the midst of the pandemic, the theatrical release “Wonder Woman 1984” proved that there was still a hunger to return to theaters to see a great superhero movie. That should inspire theater chains like AMC, which are preparing for a post-pandemic schedule later in 2021. The sales numbers that WarnerMedia released over the weekend pale in comparison to normal times, but it has still been proven that people will show up when and where it is safe.

We don’t know how another big release on Christmas Day, Disney and Pixar’s “Soul”.

Don’t sleep over the Christmas weekend in the other big movie release.

Disney also released its latest Pixar animated film, Soul, on Disney + on Christmas Day. The film was originally supposed to hit theaters but switched to Disney + instead. This is all part of Disney’s hybrid release strategy as it balances the profitable theatrical releases of franchises like Marvel and Star Wars with the pressure to keep expanding its streaming business. (The growth and upcoming content of Disney + has wowed investors more than anything, pushing the stock to all-time highs.)

Disney didn’t release any data on how “Soul” played over the weekend, and we’ll probably never know. The company tested Mulan earlier this year, a straight-to-streaming publication that Disney + subscribers could watch for a one-time fee of $ 30. It was never said how many people paid. So far, Disney has been able to reassure filmmakers with its targeted release strategy much better than WarnerMedia.

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