The movie industry has certainly taken a pandemic hit. The first major movie event during the pandemic, a holiday weekend, along with LA & NYC reopening theaters, made for major ticket sales at the box office as Warner Bros./Legendary’s Godzilla vs. Kong decimated all industry projections with a 5-day box office of $48.5M after a $11.6M Saturday, +73%.
It is a fantastic sign for the movie business and for movie theaters that the pandemic hasn’t made moviegoing extinct.
A pro-streaming Hollywood executive might think that this is an opportunity to declare WarnerMedia’s theatrical-and-streaming HBO Max day-and-date model as a success.
Think of all the money that Godzilla vs. Kong could have made this weekend without HBO Max. Not to rain on Warner Bros.’ parade here because they truly made this a win in a way no other streamer could, but by having HBO Max in the mix it just subtracts ticket sales or depletes what might be another window. A sole theatrical release in all its Imax, PLF, or Dolby glory makes a piece of IP exclusive and premium.
A studio can then maintain some exclusivity on that title, create anticipation for those who may not have seen it, and sell it in another window, even if it’s getting more subscribers on HBO Max.
It has not been decided yet if Legendary’s other Warner Bros. title Dune will go day and date theatrical and on HBO Max, despite the fact that the latter streaming service keeps promoting it as part of their 2021 theatrical slate suite. The success here this past weekend of Godzilla vs. Kong makes a clear argument in Legendary’s negotiations with Warner to keep that all-star sci-fi movie strictly in theaters.