Following the company’s second quarter earnings call on Thursday, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav confirmed that the company is moving on from the previous regime’s ‘Project Popcorn’ plans.
These plans resulted in movies like “The Batman” and “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” arriving on HBO Max 45 days after their release — while simultaneously premiering as premium video-on-demand (PVOD) rentals/purchases on iTunes and Amazon.
Paramount and Disney have a similar arrangement with their films, with simultaneous SVOD and PVOD arcs. An important difference is that these studies have been a little more flexible in terms of dates. This allows films that prove to have legs in theaters to stay as theatrical exclusives for a few days or weeks longer.
Universal, on the other hand, is all in on PVOD – releasing their films at 17- or 31-day intervals after their theatrical runs on PVOD platforms, and holding off on releasing them on its own SVOD service Peacock until considerably later.
Warner Bros. Discovery is now adopting a new approach that is a hybrid of its competitors’ approaches. Starting with “Elvis” on August 9, the film will be released for rent or purchase on PVOD platforms at the 45-day mark.
However, an SVOD release on the same day has been scrapped. Instead, it will become available on HBO Max at a significantly later date that has yet to be specified. One scenario is the more traditional 90-day mark, which would be a late September release and would suit Baz Luhrmann’s wish that the film not be available on HBO Max until the fall.
PVOD provides an immediate financial return, as the studio keeps 80% of the revenue. More importantly, however, as has been demonstrated demonstrably with Universal’s PVOD releases this year like “The Black Phone” and “The Bad Guys,” the impact on box office sales is negligible as box office trash percentages remain stable on weekends after a movie becomes available on PVOD. However, the availability of SVOD appears to have a greater negative impact on box office returns and streaming sales/rentals.
The new approach theoretically allows for the best of both worlds — maximizing a film’s theatrical and digital sell-through potential before it joins its streaming library. “Elvis” currently stands at $238 million at the global box office.
Sources: Indiewire, Decider