As Hollywood studios such as Lionsgate continue to tweak the theatrical window, including expediting some box office releases (Plane) into retail channels after just 20 days, the pending March 24 release of John Wick: Chapter 4 won’t be among them.
The fourth installment in the Keanu Reeves-starring franchise about a guy who re-entered the hit-man business in 2014 after his puppy beagle was murdered, is projected to be Lionsgate’s No. 1 tentpole release in 2023. As a result, don’t expect the movie to make a beeline to premium electronic sellthrough and PVOD, according to Joe Drake, chair of the motion picture group.
Speaking March 7 at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference in San Francisco, Drake said content windows are really a question of optionality and opportunity.
“We don’t think of it as a one-size-fits-all business model,” he said, adding that enhanced measurement and analysis tools help Lionsgate create so-called “bespoke” windowing models for each movie.
Drake said the business models differ between 2023 releases Plane, Jesus Revolution and John Wick: Chapter 4. While Plane has an abbreviated window, Revolution will have a 45-day window, and Wick 4 will stay in theaters for as long as possible.
“‘Wick’ is already a deeply established brand. … We can access our home entertainment revenue in many different ways, so we’re going to give it the longest theatrical window because that’s the most upside for us,” Drake said.
He said each of those titles will capture the full theatrical marketing value across the home entertainment market place without impacting the box office.
“That’s really important because our pay-TV rate cards are based on the theatrical box office,” Drake said. “The real win here is that we are able to leverage that marketing spend to impact the home entertainment market as well. It’s been a real game-changer for us.”
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Drake contends the motion picture distribution business has been turned on its head in recent years as titles generate differing margins across global markets, including 15% to 30% license increases internationally.
“The makeup of those [distribution] end users has really shifted,” Drake said. Citing the recent release of Shotgun Wedding, starring Jennifer Lopez and Josh Duhamel, Drake said the movie was distributed through traditional theatrical channels overseas, while stateside, the title was exclusively distributed as an original movie on Prime Video.
“The proliferation of platforms and appetites have given us way more opportunities and different ways to put these [distribution channels] together,” Drake said.
“We’re doing more business with streamers than ever before,” the executive said, alluding to the fact he believes streaming services are coveting theatrical titles sooner than rather than later.
“We see exceptional demand for what we do,” Drake said.