Jeff Shell Upbeat on Concurrent Peacock, Theater Movie Release Strategy

When Universal Pictures released Halloween Kills on the Peacock subscription streaming platform the same time as the sequel’s box office debut on Oct. 15, the move marked NBCUniversal’s ongoing proactive steps to rejigger movie distribution in the streaming ecosystem.

Speaking on the Oct. 28 Comcast quarterly earnings call, NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said the decision to offer $9.99 monthly Peacock subscribers (not $4.99 free ad-supported subs) early access to Jaime Lee Curtis’ return as Laurie Strode and her cursed lifelong battle against Michael Myers, paid off.

“We added a few million more subscribers,” Shell said, adding that the move, coupled with the Tokyo Summer Olympics on Peacock, energized the platform. NBCUniversal gave no updates on Peacock subscriber data, which topped 54 million sign-ups and 20 million paid subs through June 30.

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Kills, which generated $49.4 million to lead all weekend new releases, was the second movie after The Boss Baby: Family Business on July 1 to have a concurrent streaming bow. The latter, a sequel to 2017’s The Boss Baby, also topped its opening weekend box office with $16 million in ticket sales.

Shell said the results underscore the reality that streaming and box office can co-exist without cannibalizing revenue streams. The executive was instrumental in Universal taking a hatchet to the 90-day theatrical window — now releasing some titles on premium VOD just 17 days after their exhibitor debut.

“We’ve seen across all streaming platforms that movies move the dial,” Shell said. “It shows that you can play in two different markets.”

In addition to releasing select titles on Peacock and in theaters at the same time, the SVOD service in 2022 will have exclusive access to all Universal titles four months after their box office debut as part of the studio’s new Pay 1 window distribution strategy.

Shell said he remained “really excited” about the status of Peacock going forward.

“We’ve been in business for just over a year, and we’re already more than a third of where Hulu is now, which is a service that’s been more than decades in the making,” he said.

Notably, Kelly Campbell, former president of Hulu, was hired by Shell to the same position at Peacock earlier this month.

Merchandising: ‘Black Widow,’ ‘Boss Baby’ Get Exclusive Treatment

Two big Sept. 14 releases — Disney’s Black Widow and Universal’s The Boss Baby: Family Business — arrived at retail with a couple of exclusive editions.

For Black Widow, the Marvel Cinematic Universe entry could be had at Target with a filmmaker booklet packed into the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack for $34.99. However, copies of the exclusive may be at short supply in some locations, and by Tuesday night it wasn’t listed on the chain’s website either.

Best Buy, as usual, offered the Black Widow 4K combo pack in Steelbook packaging for $34.99.

Best Buy’s ‘Black Widow’ 4K Steelbook

Amazon.com, which often has issues offering Disney discs, didn’t take preorders for any of the Blu-ray Widow discs and didn’t have a listing for them on release date, aside from some foreign editions listed by third-party sellers.

DreamWorks Animation’s The Boss Baby: Family Business was available at Target with a filmmaker booklet packed with the Blu-ray/DVD combo pack at $24.99.

Walmart’s ‘The Boss Baby: Family Business’ Blu-ray with puzzle

Walmart had the Blu-ray combo pack packed with a 63-piece puzzle for $24.96, just two bucks more than the wide-release version.

Among other promotions for the week, Best Buy also offered a 4K Steelbook combo pack of Warner’s The Shawshank Redemption at $31.99.

Best Buy’s ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ 4K Steelbook

Meanwhile, Target held a sale offering select Blu-rays from Disney’s Pixar for as low as $15.

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‘Black Widow’ Bites Big as Marvel Cinematic Universe Returns Atop Domestic Weekend Box Office

Disney/Marvel Studios super hero tentpole release Black Widow ended the domestic box office weekend (through July 11) as most of its Marvel predecessors did: at No. 1.

The Scarlett Johansson-starrer generated $80 million across 4,160 screens over the three-day period. The first Marvel theatrical release in two years saw $39.5 million in ticket sales on Friday July 9 — the 10th biggest opening night for a June movie release. Black Window had generated generated more than $22 million at the foreign box office entering the weekend, pushing the title’s global haul past $215 million.

The movie also generated more than $60 million on subscription streaming service Disney+, where it is available for $29.99 purchase only.

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Meanwhile, Universal Pictures’ trio of sequel releases that dominated the previous weekend’s box office continued strong, with F9: The Fast Saga generating more than $10 million, followed by The Boss Baby: Family Business with more than $8 million, and The Forever Purge with almost $7 million. Paramount Pictures’ enduring A Quiet Place Part II held strong with about $3 million — topping $150 million in domestic ticket sales.

The tallies suggest vaccinated moviegoers are returning to cinemas in greater numbers as business-as-usual returns to many public events following the pandemic — despite the increasing prevalence of the Delta variant in new COVID-19 infections.

(This story was updated on July 12)

Universal Dominates July 4 Weekend Box Office, Led by ‘F9’ Topping $100 Million in Domestic Revenue

Universal Pictures is projected to rule the July 4 weekend domestic box office, led by F9: The Fast Saga, which is expected to end the holiday weekend with $32.9 million across more than 4,200 screens. The ninth installment in the action franchise has totaled about $126 million in the U.S., and more than $460 million in revenue worldwide.

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With Disney/Marvel Studio’s Black Widow launching next weekend, Universal expedited rolling out sequels The Boss Baby: Family Business and The Forever Purge over the July 4 weekend, with the former generating a projected $26 million across 3,644 screens, while The Forever Purge generated about $16 million. Both movies exceeded industry estimates — underscoring the strength of the franchises and the box office’s return to normalcy following the pandemic as more moviegoers in major markets get fully vaccinated.

Among the top five movies over the weekend, Paramount Pictures’ enduring post-apocalyptic sequel A Quiet Place Part II generated an estimated $5 million, while Lionsgate’s The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard added another $4 million.

Despite Universal’s impressive weekend, Warner Bros. Pictures tops the year-to-date domestic box office with a reported $328.4 in revenue, followed by Universal with $192.4 million, and Paramount with $141.1 million. Warner’s tally is all the more impressive considering its entire 2021 theatrical slate has streamed concurrently for free to HBO Max subscribers.

July 4 Weekend Box Office Projections Favor Universal Pictures

NEWS ANALYSIS — With Universal Pictures set to dominate a second-consecutive domestic weekend box office with F9: The Fast Saga, the studio is rolling out two additional sequel titles over the extended July 4 holiday weekend.

Universal will debut kid-themed animated fantasy The Boss Baby: Family Business and horror sci-fi thriller The Forever Purge. The former is a follow-up to the 2017 box office surprise that generated $528 million globally, including $175 million in the U.S. The studio is estimating holiday weekend ticket sales from $13 million to $23 million — a tally that could see the Alec Baldwin-led voice cast movie head to premium video-on-demand after 17 days if the movie generates less than $50 million at the domestic box office.

Universal has a revenue-sharing agreement with select theater chains aimed at expediting new releases into the higher-margin PVOD direct-to-consumer retail channel.

The Forever Purge, obviously, is targeting a different audience. The fourth installment in the nightmarish-themed concept of an annual 12-hour period of sanctioned lawlessness (to make society safe for the rest of the year) sees it extended indefinitely by a group of marauders.

Universal is betting $6 million to $11 million worth of tickets are sold for the Blumhouse Pictures release before heading to PVOD. That would be less than the $31 million the first two installments each generated over their extended opening weekends. The franchise has generated $285 million over the four previous movies.

Regardless, F9 looks to control the holiday weekend theatrical market, despite a projected 60% drop from its opening $70 million weekend through June 27. The Vin Diesel-led ensemble cast actioner has generated more than $88 million in U.S. theaters and more than $425 million worldwide — the latter since its early May release in China.

Notably, since F9 has already topped $50 million at the domestic box office, the movie is set to bow on NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service by July 31 as part of the studio’s revenue-sharing agreement with exhibitors.

Meanwhile, weekend holdovers will be led by Paramount Pictures’ A Quiet Place Part II with $4.6 million in estimated ticket sales, Lionsgate’s The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard with $3.3 million, Sony Pictures’ Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway with $3.2 million, and Disney’s Cruella with $2.9 million — the latter also available through digital retailers.