Exhibitors’ 2022 reprieve from head-to-head competition with streaming appears to be over, with Universal’s announcement that HALLOWEEN ENDS will open simultaneously on 10/14 both in theatres and streaming on NBC Universal’s Peacock.
This decision was both unexpected and unwelcome by exhibitors, amidst a lull in big-budget Hollywood releases between a successful early summer slate and the upcoming Holiday releases. Many believed that studios had moved on from day & date releasing of their major titles, now that the impact of the pandemic on moviegoing had relented.
Studios such as Warner Bros. and Disney have announced their intention to kick off the release of their big new movies with an exclusive, albeit shorter, theatrical window. Universal seemed to be on board with this approach as well, having successfully opened JURASSIC WORLD: DOMINION, MINIONS: THE RISE OF GRU, and NOPE in theatres. On the other hand, NBC Universal’s Peacock may be in need of a boost by offering subscribers exclusive new content. The future fate of Peacock may be in doubt, with the company just having reported an operating loss on the service of over $450M. HALLOWEEN ENDS will only be available initially to subscribers of Peacock’s premium tier of service, rather than the free, ad-supported tier.
After a spring and summer when the relationship between studios and exhibitors had begun to heal, Universal’s decision to go day & date with HALLOWEEN ENDS and Netflix’s decision to opt out of a wide theatrical release for its KNIVES OUT sequel may resurface some hard feelings by exhibitors against studios.