Families have been showing up to theaters for Croods: A New Age ever since it released over Thanksgiving weekend. The film has been #1 at the box office for at least half of its theatrical lifetime and has phenomenal week-to-week holds that carried it to a $52.3M cumulative total (despite being available to stream at home). If Croods can do it, so can Tom & Jerry. Even though the movie is also on HBO Max, Tom & Jerry debuted to $13.7M over the weekend – the second highest of the pandemic behind Wonder Woman 1984’s $16.4M. While Warner has not yet provided numbers or anecdotes about Tom & Jerry’s success on HBO Max, WB’s Domestic Distribution Boss Jeff Goldstein had this to say about the box office: “This is evidence that people are willing to go back to the movies when there is something they want to see”. Shocking.
After New York City movie theaters finally received the greenlight from NY Governor Andrew Cuomo – effective this Friday at 25 percent capacity (or a max of 50 people per auditorium) – all eyes turn to Los Angeles. Having both markets open would – excuse this bad pun again – be a shot in the arm for studio confidence and theater revenues. Together, NY and LA account for 15% of the total domestic box-office, and are often home to exclusive, arthouse/indie limited releases. So far, 11 out of 58 counties in California have re-opened at 25% capacity. While we wait for CA Governor Gavin Newson to make the call for LA, some exhibitors have already expressed optimism. Cinemark CEO Mark Zoradi believes CA to follow NY in two to four weeks.
Of note, Zoradi also reported to Deadline that private watch parties accounted for 24% of their box office in Q4 2020. More than half of the films were classics like Elf – films that could easily be enjoyed at home – but these numbers (together with the box-office records being set overseas in Asia) point to pent-up demand from moviegoers to experience films on the big screen. Just this weekend, Warner Bros reported over 10K private auditorium bookings for Tom & Jerry. Moviegoers are also willing to cash in on movie snacks. Zoradi pointed out that fourth quarter concession sales were in-line with that of Q4 2019.
Besides NYC’s green-light last week, there was another big announcement: Paramount’s upcoming theatrical releases will be available on Paramount Plus, the March 4th relaunch of the CBS All Access streaming platform. Viacom-CBS CEO Bob Bakish laid out plans to offer the “biggest, most anticipated new Paramount films” (like A Quiet Place II, Mission: Impossible 7, and Top Gun: Maverick) exclusively on Paramount Plus 30 to 45 days after their theatrical release. All other new Paramount and MGM movies (including No Time to Die) will keep to the traditional 90-day window before appearing on the platform. Exhibitors have not expressed any concerns thus far. Crunching the numbers, exhibitors most likely do not consider Paramount’s plan a threat to their revenues. As we have discussed before, the average film makes ~80% of its eventual box-office total within three weeks. Taking a Paramount film as an example, 2018’s A Quiet Place earned 84% of its $188M domestic total by day 30, and 94% by day 45.
This announcement is likely the sweetest deal exhibitors have gotten during this pandemic. Last summer, Universal signed deals with AMC, Cinemark, and Cineplex to shorten their theatrical exclusivity down 17 to 30 days. In December, Warner Bros dragged their entire 2021 slate into HBO Max – releasing films to its subscribers and theaters on the same day. Lastly, Disney is taking a title-by-title approach. They have not announced plans for films after Raya and The Last Dragon (which will hit theaters and Disney Plus this Friday), although some speculate that Black Widow may also get a day-and-date release.
At the footnote of February, the Golden Globes stumbled along. Of note, Chloé Zhao became the first director of Asian descent and the second woman ever (after Barbra Streisand 38 years ago) to take home the Golden Globe for Best Director for Nomadland (currently running in theaters as a limited release). The late Chadwick Boseman was awarded Best Actor in a Film Drama for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and Daniel Kaluuya won Best Supporting Actor for Judas and the Black Messiah. The 93rd Oscars will not return until April 25th, but some within the industry use the Golden Globes to gauge potential winners – the frontrunners this year including theatrical films like Nomadland and The Trial of the Chicago 7.