May 15, 2020
Warner Bros. May 15 dips its toes into the controversial premium video-on-demand waters, releasing previously earmarked animated theatrical release Scoob! directly into homes for $19.99 for a 48-hour rental, or $24.99 for digital purchase.
The movie is the only major theatrical title Warner has thus far switched from the box office distribution direct to home entertainment retail. Other titles such as Wonder Woman 1984 have had their cinema debuts pushed back.
“While we’re all eager to be able to once again show our films in theaters, we’re navigating new, unprecedented times, which call for creative thinking and adaptability in how we distribute our content,” studio boss Ann Sarnoff said in a statement last month. “We know fans are eager to see Scoob! and we’re delighted we can deliver this feel-good movie for families to enjoy while they’re home together.”
Warner is hoping the movie resonates with consumers in the home the way Universal Pictures’ Trolls World Tour did. The sequel to Trolls generated $100 million in revenue, prompting Universal to declare it would revisit PVOD as a simultaneous distribution option with theatrical.
That announcement caused a firestorm among exhibitors with AMC Theatres (and Regal Cinema) angrily declaring it would no longer screen Universal (or any studio) movies with concurrent digital distribution.
Warner parent AT&T this week sought to head off any controversy with CFO John Stephens telling a virtual investor conference the studio remained firmly behind the theatrical window — for now.
“We’ll learn from [Scoob!],” Stephens told the MoffettNathanson 7th Annual Media & Communications Summit. “We’re interested in new ideas, whatever’s good for consumers, but we’ll continue to work with our [exhibition] partners.”
With theaters nationwide remaining shuttered due to the coronavirus and lack of new-release movies, PVOD money talks. And Warner Bros. & Co. are listening.