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Winners And Losers Of Direct-To-Streaming Movies

Hollywood Reporter Theatres 2021

Big news: Two major theatrical movies premiered on streaming over Christmas and took the top two spots for streaming minutes.

Top movies/shows on streaming over Christmas week (12/21 – 12/27) by minutes viewed according to Nielsen:
1) Wonder Woman 1984 (HBO Max) – 2.3B
2) Soul (Disney+) – 1.7B
3) The Office (Netflix) – 1.7B
4) Bridgerton (Netflix) – 1.7B
5) The Midnight Sky (Netflix) – 1.7B

Quick math on Wonder Woman 1984 streaming:
1) 2.3B minutes of viewing
2) 151 minute run time
3) ≈15M complete plays

Why this matters: Wonder Woman 1984 and Soul’s success is a bright spot in a year that saw box office revenue reach a 40-year low (adjusted for inflation).

U.S. movie ticket revenue (YoY growth) according to Box Office Mojo + The Numbers:
1) 2010 – $10.6B
2) 2011 – $10.2B (↓ 4%)
3) 2012 – $10.8B (↑ 7%)
4) 2013 – $10.9B (↑ 1%)
5) 2014 – $10.4B (↓ 5%)
6) 2015 – $11.1B (↑ 7%)
7) 2016 – $11.4B (↑ 2%)
8) 2017 – $11.1B (↓ 3%)
9) 2018 – $11.9B (↑ 7%)
10) 2019 – $11.3B (↓ 5%)
11) 2020 – $2.1B (↓ 82%)

Opening weekend comparison for U.S. ticket revenue according to Bloomberg:
1) Wonder Woman (2017) – $103M
2) Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) – $17M

Flashback: No Theaters, No Problem? Disney Will Release First Blockbuster Direct To Consumers

Big question: How do direct-to-streaming releases impact the economics of movie stars/directors?

Quick answer: Substantially. For decades, movie stars/directors have generated income from both salary and profit-sharing. The problem with using tentpole releases to drive streaming subscriptions is that no specific profit can be tied to a particular movie.

Quick math on profit sharing for Avengers: Endgame:
1) Total gross for the film – $2B
2) Total profit for Disney – $900M
3) Profit sharing % for Robert Downey Jr. (RD) – 2.5%
4) Profit sharing $ for RD – $22.5M
5) Guaranteed salary for RD – $52.5M
6) Total compensation for RD – $75.0M

Top movies on streaming in 2020 by minutes viewed according to Nielsen:
1) Frozen II (Disney+) – 14.9B
2) Moana (Disney+) – 10.5B
3) Secret Life of Pets 2 (Netflix) – 9.1B
4) Onward (Disney+) – 8.4B
5) Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch (Netflix) – 6.2B

Top Streaming Movies 2020

More #1: 2020’s Big Plot Twist: How ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ Came to Upend Hollywood’s Future

More #2: Why Video on Demand Data Won’t Be Public Any Time Soon

More #3: Movie Equations: Soul’s win in China

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