Warner Bros.’ ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’ Available Worldwide in All Markets on March 18

WarnerMedia Feb. 19 announced that Warner Bros. Pictures’ pending release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League will be available globally in all markets concurrently with its U.S. March 18 debut on HBO Max.

The feature film will be available in each market via one of the following distribution options: PVOD, PEST, EST, SVOD, TVOD, HBO linear and on HBO Go (in HBO Europe and HBO Asia territories), or via a local TV provider.

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The movie features a team of well-known DC superheroes: Batman (Ben Affleck), Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and The Flash (Ezra Miller) inspired by Superman (Henry Cavill) and his ally, Diana Prince (Gadot), to fight a new global threat. The 2017 movie, which was finished by director Joss Whedon after Snyder dropped out due to his daughter’s reported suicide, generated $657 million at the global box office.

Warner’s ‘The Little Things’ Repeats Atop Sluggish Super Bowl Weekend Box Office

Warner Bros. Pictures’ detective drama The Little Things bested the traditionally sluggish Super Bowl weekend box office with an estimated $2.1 million in ticket sales across more than 2,200 screens nationwide, and another $1.4 million across foreign markets Feb. 5-7.

The weekend’s Top 10 movies tallied about $7.7 million in ticket sales, down 32.7% from the previous $11.1 million weekend (Jan. 29-31).

Little Things, co-starring Oscar winners Denzel Washington, Jared Leto and Rami Malek, has been No. 1 at the pandemic-addled box office since launching concurrently on HBO Max Jan. 28, as part of Warner’s 2021 theatrical/SVOD release strategy. Little Things, which landed Leto a Golden Globes Best Supporting Actor Award nomination, has generated upwards of $7.8 million domestically; $13 million worldwide.

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Jared Leto

Universal Pictures/DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods: A New Age remains a pandemic hit, selling $1.7 million in tickets to bring its domestic haul past $46 million ($147.6 million globally) — a noticeable achievement considering the movie is also available on PVOD.

Open Road Films’ drama The Marksman rounded out the weekend podium with $1 million in ticket sales, pushing its domestic total past $9 million,$11.5 million worldwide. Warner’s first hybrid theatrical/SVOD release, Wonder Woman 1984, took in another $905,000 to break $40 million in North America, $154 million globally.

Sony Pictures/Screen Gems’ sci-fi actioner Monster Hunter, starring Milla Jovovich, followed with $590,000 to brings its domestic take past $11 million, $20.8 million worldwide.

Other Top 10 chart toppers included Universal’s News of the World ($400,000); Focus Features’ Golden Globes nominated Promising Young Woman ($219,000); Lionsgate’s Fatale ($170,000); 101 Studios’ The War with Grandpa ($167,000) and Warner/New Line Cinema’s’ re-release The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring ($166,000).


Warner’s ‘The Little Things’ Tracked 1.4 Million HBO Max Households Opening Weekend

Warner Bros. Pictures’ strategy releasing 2021 movies concurrently in theaters and on HBO Max appears to be capturing market share — especially during the pandemic.

New data from Samba TV found the Jan. 29 debut of detective thriller The Little Things, the first Warner Bros. movie to hit HBO Max directly in 2021, coinciding with its theatrical release, attracted 1.4 million U.S. households. Samba tracks viewer program data — called “automatic content recognition” — from more than 13.5 million smart TVs in the United States.

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Viewership for the movie, starring Oscar winners Denzel Washington, Remi Malik and Jared Leto, peaked Jan. 30 with 678,000 households and remained high through Jan. 31, with 525,000 households, according to Samba. Meanwhile, the movie topped the domestic box office with $4.8 million in ticket sales.

Samba found that households making $50,000 or more over-indexed streaming The Little Things when compared with the U.S. overall, as did Black households (+30%) and households with people under the age of 55.

The tally is less than the 2.2 million households that watched Wonder Woman 1984 on Max over its Christmas opening weekend. The sequel starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine and Kristen Wiig, drew 986,000 household streams on Christmas Day alone, according to Samba TV, but declined every day over the rest of its opening weekend.

Notably, the audience that streamed WW84 over Christmas looked different from those who watched The Little Things. Households making $100,000 or more over-indexed for Wonder Woman when compared with the U.S. overall, as did households with people aged 25-54, Hispanic households (+17%) and Asian households (+14%).

PVOD Resonating With Consumers; Jury Still Out for Hollywood, Pundits

Premium video-on-demand, the expensive version of transactional digital movie rentals offering consumers in-home early access to theatrical titles, continues to see a renaissance.

With 65% of major theatrical markets shuttered due to the pandemic, new data through Feb. 1 saw $19.99 PVOD releases Greenland (STX Entertainment), News of the World (Universal Pictures), Promising Young Woman (Focus Features), The Croods: A New Age (Universal/DreamWorks Animation), Our Friend (Gravitas Ventures) and Fatale (Lionsgate) rank among the Top 10 digital movies rented by consumers across Apple TV, FandangoNow, Spectrum TV and Google Play.

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After a failed 2011 attempt by Universal Pictures to jumpstart PVOD by offering actioner Tower Heist directly in the home for $59.99, the distribution channel made a less-expensive ($19.99) comeback last year early in the pandemic when the studio disclosed it had generated $100 million in revenue from 5 million transactions in 28 days offering erstwhile theatrical sequel Trolls World Tour directly to consumers at home.

Thus, Universal took PVOD firmly by the horns, hammering out shortened theatrical window agreements with AMC Theatres and Cinemark in order to get its movies into home entertainment channels faster — and with good reason. Studios keep about 80% of all digital transactions, compared with 50% of theatrical.

“The results for Trolls World Tour have exceeded our expectations and demonstrated the viability of PVOD. As soon as theaters reopen, we expect to release movies on both formats,” said NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell.

Indeed, Universal released the Judd Apatow comedy The King of Staten Island on PVOD in June. It also rushed out early transactional VOD access to The Invisible Man, The Hunt, Emma and Never Rarely Sometimes Always, among others.

Other studios have tepidly followed, with Warner Bros. Pictures debuting Scoob! on  May 15, and Disney launching Mulan into the home on Labor Day weekend  — the latter initially as a $29.99 purchase-only option to Disney+ subscribers.

“The silver lining to 2020 from a theatrical perspective is that studios have had the opportunity to test the feared PVOD window, with the results not as compelling as many had expected, and not as damaging to the exhibitors as feared,” Michael Pachter, media analyst with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, wrote in a note.

Indeed, as PVOD has become normalized, scant information exists about actual sales generated by consumers. Nielsen recently announced it would begin tracking PVOD across living room televisions. Just released industry data from DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group did not include PVOD transactions among the $2.3 billion consumers spent renting movies and other filmed content through digital retailers in 2020 — up from less than $2 billion in 2019.

“We think that PVOD is here to stay, and it really is a big part of our business,” Fandango SVP Mark Young told a recent industry panel. NBCUniversal-owned Fandango operates transactional VOD services Vudu and FandangoNow.

Yet major theatrical distributor Imax believes PVOD remains a fluke driven by rollercoaster consumer behavior during a pandemic.

“To be unequivocal, PVOD is a failed experiment,” CEO Rich Gelfond told a virtual investor confab last September. “The numbers haven’t worked in a pandemic, so how would they work in a non-pandemic? Of the movies that were postponed, very few went into PVOD or streaming, and I should be clear I’m talking about the blockbuster movies — the movies that Imax does.”

Wedbush’s Pachter contends studios largely agree, continuing to postpone major releases into 2021 and later, showing they prefer a theatrical release over PVOD.

In the meantime, more movies are likely to go to subscription VOD platforms flush with cash and willing to spend it licensing content.

“We expect more films to shift to streaming as subscription services seek more video content after heightened consumption [and subscriber growth] coupled with several months of halted productions in the pandemic,” Pachter said.

Warner’s ‘The Little Things’ Helps Pandemic Weekend Box Office Top $10 Million

The little things do matter, especially during a pandemic. Warner Bros. Pictures’ criminal thriller The Little Things, starring Oscar winners Denzel Washington, Remi Malek and Jared Leto, topped the domestic weekend box office (Jan. 29-31) with an estimated $4.8 million in ticket sales across more than 2,100 screens.

The drama about a burned-out Kern County, Calif. deputy sheriff (Washington) who teams up with a Los Angeles County Sheriff detective (Malek) to nab a serial killer (Leto) proved successful with COVID-19 moviegoers despite launching concurrently on HBO Max as part of Warner’s 2021 strategy to release its theatrical slate simultaneously on the $14.99 monthly subscription streaming platform.

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“We are absolutely thrilled by how Warner Bros.’ The Little Things is performing on HBO Max — it immediately shot up to number one, where it currently remains,” said Andy Forssell, EVP and GM at Max, said in a statement. “Following the breakthrough success of WW84, The Little Things shows the insatiable appetite our audience has for high quality, feature films.”

Universal Pictures/DreamWorks Animation’s perennial pandemic box office champ, The Croods: A New Age, again proved a strong attraction on the big screen and home entertainment. The sequel finished No. 2 generated $1.8 million in ticket sales to bring its global tally to $144.3 million, including $44 million domestically.

Warner’s Wonder Woman 1984 rounded out the podium with $1.3 million in ticket sales, bringing the Gal Gadot-starrer past $152$ million at the global box office ($40 million domestically).

Previous weekend box office winner The Marksman saw the Open Road Films drama starring Liam Neeson generate $1.25 million in ticket sales for $8.5 million worldwide total since bowing Jan. 15. Sony Pictures’ Monster Hunter tracked $740,000 in ticket sales to up its global count near $20 million ($11.1 million domestically) since launching Dec. 18, 2020.

Pachter: PVOD Not a Threat to Theatrical

A common theme throughout the pandemic has been Hollywood’s quest to supplant theatrical releases to wary moviegoers with direct-to-consumer home entertainment options such as premium VOD and digital retail.

PVOD got an early boost last spring when Universal Pictures reported it generated $100 million releasing Trolls World Tour direct to consumers in the early days of the pandemic. The move was eyed as catalyst to jumpstarting PVOD — a distribution channel previously considered dead. Since then Warner Bros. Pictures and Disney have released high-profile movies Scoob! and Mulan on PVOD — the latter initially only to Disney+ subscribers — with little mention of revenue generated.

“The silver lining to 2020 from a theatrical perspective is that studios have had the opportunity to test the feared PVOD window, with the results not as compelling for the studios as many had expected, and not as damaging to the exhibitors as feared,” Pachter wrote in a Jan. 11 note.

Indeed, Disney made Mulan available to consumers shortly after then Disney+ exclusive, followed by release on DVD and Blu-ray Disc. Scoob! bowed on disc on July 21, 2020 — two months after its May 15 PVOD release.

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“Studios have opted to postpone major releases into 2021 and later, indicating that studios by and large prefer a theatrical release over PVOD, but will wait for a more normal environment,” Pachter wrote. “With that said, expect more films to shift to streaming as subscription services seek more content after heightened consumption coupled with several months of halted productions.”

While PVOD revenue remains largely a guarded secret by studios, the so-called “dynamic windows” ironed out between Universal Pictures, AMC Theatres and Cinemark, affording exhibitors a cut in digital revenue appears a better business model for all parties during the pandemic.

Under the deal movies with opening weekends over $50 million remain in theaters for 31 days (five weekends) and smaller films stay in theaters at least 17 days (three weekends), with a simultaneous theatrical/PVOD window for the remainder of the window (with downstream windows unaffected).

“We see the Cinemark-Universal model of to be the model on which most negotiations will be based in the coming months,” Pachter wrote. “We think this is the best solution for exhibitors, assuming the PVOD release is constructed as a revenue share between studios and exhibitors.”


Warner Bros. Revamping Movie Compensation in HBO Max Era

Following Warner Bros. Pictures’ decision to release its 2021 theatrical slate concurrently on subscription streaming service HBO Max in consumer homes (for 31 days) due to the ongoing pandemic, some content creators and talent representatives cried foul, claiming they and their clients were being shortchanged by the new policy.

Now the studio has reportedly implemented new guidelines aimed at better compensating talent and production during the pandemic, according to Bloomberg, which cited sources familiar with the situation. Warner will now pay producers and talent from fees generated by Max to offset lower box office revenue and performance-based bonuses.

Hollywood has often compensated producers and talent with upfront compensation and the potential for a lot more on the backend depending on a movie’s box office success. Actor Robert Downey Jr. reportedly earned $75 million from Disney/Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Endgame under such an arrangement.

But with the pandemic severely curtailing the U.S. box office, Warner’s decision to release movies direct to consumers all but ended that traditional compensation channels, angering filmmakers such as Christopher Nolan and Denis Villeneuve, whose movies Tenet and the upcoming sci-fi remake Dune are released through the studio.

“AT&T has hijacked one of the most respectable and important studios in film history,” Villeneuve told Variety. “There is absolutely no love for cinema, nor for the audience here.”

Talent agencies complained the Max/theatrical strategy “unilaterally determined” a financial value for their clients’ work to “benefit the long-term prospects of HBO Max and the finances of AT&T,” according to Richard Lovett, president of the CAA agency.

Michael Pachter, media analyst at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, contends the premium VOD distribution strategy hasn’t proven to be as much of a threat to exhibitors as previously thought. Indeed, Disney has yet to release financial data regarding its decision to offer live-action Mulan directly to Disney+ subscribers for an additional $29.99 fee.

“We think the exhibitors will aggressively negotiate for far fewer films to be released day-and-date on HBO Max, based on the timing of vaccine distribution instead of the full calendar year,” Pachter wrote in a Jan. 11 note.

WarnerMedia contends the situation remains fluid with Warner planning to return to the traditional theatrical window in 2022 following vaccine inoculation.

“Our orientation in these situations is always to be generous,” WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar said in a recent interview.

Report: More Than 3 Million U.S. Households Streamed ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ Through End of 2020

The nation’s most-hyped theatrical release, Wonder Woman 1984, was streamed by 3.03 million U.S. households through the end of the year, according to new data from Samba TV. WarnerMedia released the DC superhero movie starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine and Kristen Wiig on Christmas Day in theaters and on the HBO Max SVOD service.

Samba tracks viewer recommend program data — called Automatic Content Recognition — from more than 13.5 million smart TVs in the United States.

The company said about 250,000 homes tuned in each of the last three nights of the year, with female streamers over-indexing about 2% when compared to the overall. Asian households increased by 16%, Hispanic (+14%), and African American (+4%), as did households making more than $100,000, residents aged 25-54, and under 20 years old. Viewership remained strongest in Seattle (+72%), San Francisco (+67%), and Portland (+41%).

Meanwhile, Disney/Pixar Animation’s Soul continued its mastery over WW84 with 3.8 million domestic households streaming the movie on Disney+ in its opening week (Dec. 25-31), while nearly 487,000 U.K. households watched it. The peak in both countries was on Dec. 26 when just over 1 million and 136,000 watched it, respectively.

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In the U.S., households with incomes under $75,000 over-indexed, as did homes with streamers under 45 years old. Households with a female increased streaming by 5%, followed by black households (+7%), and Hispanic (+15%). Of the top 25 markets, the most over-indexing were Portland (+20%), Los Angeles (+19%), and Seattle (+13%).

Finally, Samba said 109,000 U.K. households and 427,000 U.S. homes streamed the live-action Mulan remake from Christmas to New Year’s Eve (Dec. 24 through Dec. 31). The peak in the U.K. was on Dec. 26 with nearly 20,000 homes watching it that day, while in the U.S. the peak was on Dec. 25, with nearly 85,000 households streaming it that day.

Disney has not released data on how Mulan fared on its PVOD debut over the Labor Day weekend and through the end of 2020.

Samba reported that U.S. households with residents 44 years old and younger over-indexed as compared to the country overall. Black households increased 3%, while Hispanic homes increased 20%. Notably, Asian households under indexed by 12%. Of the Top 25 markets, St. Louis (+54%) and Orlando (+32%) over-indexed the most.

New Year’s Weekend ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ Box Office Plummets 67%

Warner Bros. Pictures’ Wonder Woman 1984 generated an estimated $5.5 million in domestic weekend box office revenue through Jan. 3 — down about 67% from the previous weekend tally of $16.7 million, according to industry data. WW84, which stars Gal Gadot, Chris Pine and Kristen Wiig, has sold about $28.5 million in tickets in the U.S. and entered the weekend with more than $100 million in global revenue — about half of the movie’s production budget. The movie is playing in about 40% of available U.S. screens due to the ongoing pandemic.

The theatrical drop underscores the fact the sequel to the 2017 Wonder Woman is also available to stream on HBO Max for the next 21 days.

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Universal Pictures again dominated the majority of the first 2021 weekend Top 10 box office titles, led by The Croods: A New Age with an estimated $2 million in ticket sales. The DreamWorks Animation sequel has generated $34.4 million in the U.S.; $102 million worldwide since its release Nov. 25, 2020.

Other titles included Tom Hanks-starrer News of the World with $1.5 million ($5.2 million total); Screen Gems’ Monster Hunter ($1.1 million/$10.9 million globally); Focus Features’ Promising Young Woman ($630,000/$1.8 million); Lionsgate’s Fatale ($610,000/$3 million); Roadside Attractions’ Pinocchio ($743,000/$21.2 million globally); 101 Studios’ The War With Grandpa ($115,000/$31.5 million worldwide); Universal’s Come Play ($51,000/$11.8 million globally); and Freaky ($41,000/$14.8 million worldwide).

Walt Disney Studios’ re-release of 1979 sci-fi thriller Alien, starring Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton and John Hurt, generated $125,000 worldwide.

Meanwhile, Allan Reagan, CEO of the Flix Brewhouse theatrical chain in Texas, told CNBC he expects the moviegoing attendance to permanently decline from 15% to 25% in 2022 despite the various virus vaccine coming on the market.

“That’s the way we’re gaming this out permanently,” Reagan said.

Report: More U.S. Households Streamed Disney’s ‘Soul’ Than Warner Bros.’ ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ Over Christmas Weekend

While Warner Bros. Pictures’ Wonder Woman 1984 has generated the majority of headlines since its Christmas Day simultaneous bow in theaters and on HBO Max, Disney/Pixar Animation’s Soul quietly pulled an upset.

The jazz music-themed title was streamed by 2.4 million Disney+ households in the U.S. over the holiday weekend — 200,000 more than streamed WW84 domestically on Max, according to new data from Samba TV.

Samba TV reportedly tracks viewer recommend program data — called Automatic Content Recognition — from more than 13.5 million smart TVs in the United States.

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The Christmas weekend provided the first real test for how blockbuster movies might perform on streaming services when released in movie theaters at the same time. Disney’s Soul was pulled at the last minute from the theatrical slate and given as a freebie to 86.8 million Disney+ subscribers.

Samba said about 651,000 U.K. households streamed Soul, with the peak in both the U.S. and U.K. occurring on on Dec. 26, when just over 1 million households and 135,000 households streamed the movie, respectively.

By comparison, 2.2 million U.S. households streamed WW84 on Max, with viewership highest on Christmas (986,000) and progressively declining each day thereafter. The movie also generated $16.7 million at theaters, making WW84 the highest-grossing opening weekend theatrical release during the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Samba said Disney’s live-action Mulan was streamed by 62,000 U.K. households and 259,000 U.S. households through Dec, 27. The peak in the U.K. was on Dec. 26, with nearly 20,000 households watching it that day, while in the U.S. the peak was on Dec. 25, with nearly 85,000 households streaming it.