Ted Sarandos: 20 Million People Streamed ‘The Christmas Chronicles’ the First Week on Netflix

Netflix doesn’t release ratings or viewership data for original programming.

But that didn’t stop Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos from disclosing that 20 million people streamed original feature-length movie The Christmas Chronicles, starring Kurt Russell as a brash-talking (and singing) Santa Claus, during its first week of release.

Speaking Dec. 3 at the UBS 46th Annual Global Media and Communications confab in New York, Sarandos conveyed that Russell told him none of his movies had ever attracted that many viewers in the first seven days of release.

“That’s a testimony … we can bring to the market for storytellers today,” Sarandos said. “We probably couldn’t have done that 10 years ago.”

The executive used the anecdote to underscore his long-running battle against the 90-day theatrical window. A mindset that Sarnados believes all theatrical releases should be made available across all distribution channels simultaneously.

“If every one of those views was a movie purchase, that’s a $200 million opening week,” he said. “Even movies that go on to make $1 billion, don’t typically do that the first week. The ability to tap into that big audience differentiates us from everybody else.”

It’s controversial stance that has resulted in exhibitors, film festivals and Hollywood largely shunning Netflix films at the box office and awards circuit. Critics contend the SVOD giant is leaving money on the table, undermining content creators, producers and actors financially by streaming new-release movies globally to subscribers paying $9 a month for access.

Sarandos disagrees, arguing his approach to distribution simply bucks the tradition around the opening box office weekend.

“It’s saying, ‘I really want my movie in the culture. I want people to talk about my movie in line at Starbucks,’” Sarandos said. “I want to be the topic of discussion with my story that I’ve invested my entire life telling.”

Sarandos said studio executives grew up in a world where that was the definition of the Zeitgeist: Being the No. 1 movie at the box office.

Separately, the executive expressed little concern about pending over-the-top video platforms from Disney and WarnerMedia.

He said the new competition has been on management’s mind for a while and prompted Netflix’s foray into original programming years ago with “House of Cards,” “Orange Is the New Black,” “Lilyhammer,” “Arrested Development,” and “Hemlock Grove,” among others.

“They represented everything from comedy to drama to horror,” Sarandos said.

Netflix is now a global producer of on-demand content across all genres, including 20 original unscripted TV shows streaming this year compared to zero last year.

The service will stream 70 local-language original shows in 2019. Sarandos said local productions featuring local casts and language are becoming worldwide hits, including most-recently Germany’s “Dark,” Denmark’s “The Rain,” and India’s “Sacred Games”.

“They have been remarkably relevant in their home countries,” he said. “We’re not trying to make Hollywood content for the world. We’re trying to make content from anywhere in the world to the rest of the world.

Netflix just released “Bodyguard,” a joint venture with the BBC, underscoring the fact 80% of new subscriber growth is originating internationally, which mandates global – not Hollywood – content production, according to Sarandos.

“We’re better off deciding our own destiny and making our own choices with the consumer in mind than a bunch of competitors in mind,” Sarandos said. “Some of those things [third-party SVOD services] will successful, but not to the detriment of Netflix.”

 

 

 

 

China Streaming Video Service iQiYi Opens First On-Demand Movie Theater

Chinese online video platform iQiYi has launched what it claims is the first on-demand movie theater in the world.

Dubbed “China’s Netflix,” iQiYi May 20 officially opened the “Yuke” on-demand movie theater in Zhongshan, Guangdong, enabling consumers to select a movie online and watch it at a Yuke theater. The six-seat theaters include Dolby audio, reclined seating and other enhanced features not available in the typical Chinese household.

China is one of the largest film production countries in the world generating nearly a thousand films annually. In 2017, a total of 970 films were produced, yet only 487 of them were played in theaters, according to iQiYi. As the national income level continues to rise in China, consumer demand for cinema viewing is rising.

The company – which is owned by China’s online search giant Baidu and launched an IPO on Wall Street earlier this year – said it working to bring Yuke movie theaters to first- and second-tier cities throughout China.

“The development of on-demand movie theaters poses an exciting opportunity to increase the strength and overall scale of China’s film industry,” Yang Xianghua, SVP at iQiYi, said in a statement. “[We] will take advantage of our strong brand awareness, massive user base, popular content and advanced technology to contribute to the growth of this booming market and extend our premium viewing experience to offline consumers.”

At the end of March, iQiYi had 61.3 million subscribers. Going forward, iQiYi said it would combine online and offline subscriber bases to integrate retail services and offline consumption with related merchandise for purchase in cinemas.

MPAA Report: Worldwide Consumer Theatrical and Home Entertainment Spending Reached $88.4 Billion in 2017

Consumer spending for the combined theatrical and home entertainment markets reached $88.4 billion worldwide, according to new theatrical and home entertainment data released by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

The global box office reached a new record high of $40.6 billion in 2017 – up 5% from the previous year. Home entertainment consumer spending also increased globally in 2017 to hit $47.8 billion, up 11% from 2016.

That’s according to the 2017 Theatrical and Home Entertainment Market Environment report, or THEME, which includes new information on the home entertainment market in addition to global box office figures and a moviegoer demographic survey.

“With more stories and more storytelling mediums than ever, our industry continues to adapt to an ever-changing world,” said MPAA chairman and CEO Charles Rivkin. “The global entertainment market is expanding on multiple fronts, constantly innovating to deliver an unparalleled experience to audiences worldwide. In 2017, not only did the global box office hit yet another record high, the number of subscriptions to online video services around the world jumped 33 percent to reach 446.8 million.”

“With the global box office continuing to grow and movies drawing younger, more diverse audiences, we see a bright future for theatrical entertainment,” said John Fithian, president and CEO of the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO). “We are relentlessly innovating, investing in top-notch cinema infrastructure and advanced technology, to give audiences the very best movie experience.”

In 2017, global home entertainment consumer spending increased by 11% to $47.8 billion, and in the United States, the home entertainment market increased 5% from 2016 to $20.5 billion. Other findings:

  • The number of subscriptions to online video services around the world grew to 446.8 million in 2017 – a 33 percent increase compared to 2016.
  • Online video content viewing in the United States continued to increase in 2017, reaching 167.5 billion views and transactions – a 41 percent jump compared to 2016.
  • Americans now spend 49 percent of their media time on a digital platform.

 

The global box office’s record high was driven by a 7% increase in international markets ($29.5 billion), in large part due to growth in China. Japan, the United Kingdom, India, and South Korea rounded out the top five international markets after China. Cinema screens increased 8% globally in 2017, reaching just over 170,000, led by continued double digit growth in the Asia Pacific region (up 16%).

In the United States and Canada, while the domestic box office did not quite reach last year’s record of $11.4 billion, it matched 2015’s previous high of $11.1 billion. Other domestic findings include:

  • More than three-quarters of the population (263 million people) went to the cinema at least once last year.
  • The gender composition of this audience was even among men and women – 50-50.
  • More young people and diverse populations went to the movies in 2017. Audiences between the ages of 12 and 17 attended an average of 4.9 movies over the course of the year – more than any other age group, and closely followed by 18 to 24 year olds (4.7).
  • Per capita attendance was highest among Latino (4.5) and Asian (4.3) audiences.

MoviePass: $129 Million Generated for Oscar-Nominated Films

Helios and Matheson Analytics – corporate parent of MoviePass – Feb. 6 announced the subscription theatrical ticket service has generated $128.7 million for select Oscar-nominated since last November. In addition, it claims MoviePass contributed 5.7% to the total nationwide box office.

In addition to offering subscribers access to one theatrical screening daily for $9.95 monthly fee, MoviePass is banking its survival — and offsetting theatrical disruptor mantra — on moviegoer data. Information, it can market and sell.

The service said it contributed significantly to the nominees, keeping attendance up past opening week. It said the percentage of domestic revenue generated for Best Picture nominees, included Call Me By Your Name (8.79%), Lady Bird (6.18%), Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (6.89%), The Shape of Water (7.87%), and The Post (5.57%).

MoviePass also contributed 11.48% for I, Tonya, and 7.57% for The Square.

“MoviePass is actively driving movie-goers to the theater at a critical moment in the year,” Mitch Lowe, CEO of MoviePass, said in a statement. “At a time with ‘For Your Consideration’ billboards up all over Tinseltown, we are promoting these pictures to our MoviePass subscribers. I believe more people are connected with these films now and MoviePass has created more exposure for these nominees and the Oscars.”

Ted Farnsworth, CEO of Helios and Matheson Analytics, which acquired a majority stake in MoviePass in 2017, contends the service contributed 4.6%, 5.6%, and 5.7%, respectively, over the past three weeks to total nationwide box office.

“I believe we can serve as a catalyst for success in the entire movie industry,” said Farnsworth.