Paramount Pictures’ scrapped April 3 theatrical release The Lovebirds is going straight to Netflix — and apparently not to transactional VOD, retail or rental, according to a source familiar with the situation. The romantic comedy stars Kumail Nanjiani (“Silicon Valley”) and Issa Rae (“Insecure”).
As Hollywood studios adjust to shuttered theaters globally in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, many have expedited theatrical titles into retail channels —not third-party SVOD.
Indeed, there is no mention of the title on digital retail channels such as iTunes, Amazon, Vudu or Fangdango Now. The same for Redbox.
Follow us on Instagram
Paramount fast-tracked theatrical release Sonic the Hedgehog for digital purchase on March 31 from Paramount Home Entertainment. The film, which made $306.8 million at the global box office, will be available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and for rental on demand or disc May 19.
But The Lovebirds is not a proven theatrical release or franchise, and with the pandemic wreaking havoc across myriad distribution channels, taking third-party SVOD money probably seemed like a better bet.
Indeed, Netflix in 2017 acquired The Cloverfield Paradox, a science-fiction horror film Paramount had pulled from its theatrical slate. The streamer reportedly paid the studio $50 million for the rights and released it on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018.
Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!
In Paramount’s most-recent fiscal period, Paramount Home Entertainment generated more revenue from retail than the studio did from theatrical.
Netflix has not disclosed when it plans to release The Lovebirds.
Netflix’s much-hyped post-Super Bowl LII streaming debut of former Paramount Pictures sci-fi sequel The Cloverfield Paradox generated a streaming audience of 5 million over seven days, according to Nielsen.
By comparison, Netflix’s buddy cop sci-fi original, Bright, starring Will Smith Joel Edgerton, generated 11 million views in its first three days.
Nielson, which last October bowed a SVOD content rating service, says it can track viewership of Netflix original content – a claim Netflix denies. Netflix does not disclose original content rating for competitive reasons.
Separately, Netflix original sci-fi series, “Altered Carbon,” generated 5.9 million viewers on average in its first seven days. By comparison, critical hit, “Stranger Things,” generated 4 million average viewers for the show’s second season.
Following an underperforming legacy film slate, Paramount Pictures jumped at the chance to offload sci-fi drama The Cloverfield Paradox to Netflix, according to Viacom CEO Bob Bakish.
The subscription streaming video behemoth — which reportedly paid $50 million for the rights — promptly streamed the third installment in the franchise (following 10 Cloverfield Lane in 2016) globally at the conclusion of Super Bowl LII — after paying millions more for a TV commercial aired during the game. A first for a major Hollywood movie.
During the Feb. 8 fiscal call, Bakish described the arrangement —that bypassed theatrical distribution — as “bit of a one-off” deal.
“This was a unique situation that we thought was the right fit for the franchise,” Bakish told analysts. “It allowed us to take advantage of an attractive audience and really create some pretty compelling economics.”
With the domestic launch of the Paramount Network the lone positive for the studio (narrowing operating loss 28% was another) in Q1, the studio has its sights on upcoming tentpole releases Mission: Impossible — Fallout, Top Gun: Maverick, World War Z 2, branded films from Paramount Players (What Men Want, Dora the Explorer) and Paramount Animation (SpongeBob The Movie), and Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog.
Cloverfield Paradox, which received poor reviews and was slated for April release, apparently didn’t make the cut.
“We’re going to continue to focus the vast majority of our releases on traditional theaters, and we see a great opportunity there to take share driven by our ’19 slate and beyond,” Bakish said. “But, given our production capabilities and the landscape, we’re going to continue to look broadly and creatively for opportunities to create additional value for Paramount.”
For football fans, it was the Philadelphia Eagles denying a trademark New England Patriots rally to win its first Super Bowl (discounting a 1960 NFL Championship) in a thrilling contest, 41-33.
For Hollywood, the marquee televised event (111 million viewers in 2017) provided massive eyeballs for movie trailers/teasers reportedly costing more than $5 million to air.
Netflix went a step further, using the Super Bowl’s typical 100 million household audience to announce that its acquisition of former Paramount Pictures’ sequel, The Cloverfield Paradox, would be available to stream globally following the game.
The SVOD pioneer reportedly acquired the movie after Paramount pushed back its theatrical release to April, and then abandoned the idea. Netflix and Paramount previously partnered on Annihilation, a sci-fi action horror film starring Natalie Portman and Jennifer Jason Leigh.
This marked the first time a major motion picture was made available almost immediately following its Super Bowl commercial.
Early results from comScore cited spots from Walt Disney’s Marvel Avengers: Infinity War, Universal Pictures’ Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and Disney’s Lucasfilm Solo: A Star Wars Story generating the most social media buzz.
comScore said Fallen Kingdom and Paramount Pictures’ Mission: Impossible – Fallout generated 3.56 million and 2.09 million views, respectively on Facebook and YouTube.
The Cloverfield Paradox generated the most buzz among subscription streaming video services, followed by Universal’s Skyscraper, starring Dwayne Johnson, and Quiet Place (Paramount) and Red Sparrow (Fox).
Amazon Studios ran a spot for “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan,” starring John Krasinski, while Hulu ran a trailer for new series, “Castle Rock,” starring Sissy Spacek and Bill Skarsgard, among others.
HBO ran a spot for the second season of “Westworld.“