With 2021 having passed into the rearview mirror, Deadline’s Anthony D’Alessandro considers the road ahead for the industry and likes what he sees for exhibitors. He sees major studios moving away from day & date releasing, based on clear evidence that it holds down box office grosses.
A report from the independent tracking firm Samba TV shows that titles that open online on the same day as their theatrical release will have limited viewership in both places. All things being equal, movies released initially with an exclusive theatrical window outperformed day & dates releases.
While conventional wisdom has been that movies aimed at adult audiences will do best as streaming releases, Samba TV’s numbers show soft results for these titles online as well. Critically acclaimed movies such as KING RICHARD, IN THE HEIGHTS and JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH each attracted no more than two million viewers at home. As audiences over 45 once again get comfortable going to the movies, a theatrical release will once again become the most profitable way to distribute the dramas and musicals that have struggled during the pandemic.
Only Universal and Paramount have maintained their strategy into 2022 to open movies day & date. This is not because of a lack of faith in theatrical releasing, but instead out of the need to provide a boost to their struggling streaming services Paramount+ and Peacock. Meanwhile, studios with healthy online platforms such as Disney and Warner Bros. are re-focusing on the power of theatrical releasing.