Universal says on-demand movie strategy has grown audiences

Universal says on-demand movie strategy has grown audiences

Premium VOD revenue is small compared to box-office sales. But it’s definitely better than nothing.

“The Super Mario Bros. Movie” has generated more than $75 million in premium VOD revenue since May 16, Universal said. “Jurassic World: Dominion,” “The Croods: A New Age” and “Sing 2” each made more than $50 million. Universal said 14 films, including “News of the World”, a period drama starring Tom Hanks, and “M3Gun”, each grossed more than $25 million.

Focus’s films, including “Belfast” and “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris,” each earned about $5 million. For some art films, a theatrical release is mostly for premium VOD rentals and purchases, according to Julia Alexander, director of strategy at Parrot Analytics, a research firm. valued as a “tool”.

Like DVD sales in the 1990s and 2000s, premium VOD has begun to provide a financial safety net of sorts on box-office misses. “Focus titles, especially,” said Peter Levinsohn, chief distribution officer for Universal Filmed Entertainment Group. “Those little movies that catered to the older movie watchers have become, I wouldn’t say dependent on, but they’ve benefited greatly.”

It’s also about flexibility, Mr. Levinsohn said. The studio often decides that 17 days (three weekends) of a theatrical exclusivity is sufficient. Sometimes, depending on ticket sales, it allows more time. “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” ran exclusively in theaters for 41 days.

“We’ve also taken back control over the decision of when to make our content available in the home based on the most optimal time for an individual movie,” said Mr. Levinsohn. NBCUniversal in January said that revenue from its studios (both film and TV) was projected to rise 23 percent to $11.6 billion in 2022 from a year earlier.

Every studio is trying to find creative ways to maximize movie profits in a rapidly changing business. Part of Universal’s challenge is anticipating what kind of impact premium VOD might have on streaming: if movies were sold more widely before arriving on a streaming service (in Universal’s case, on Peacock and Netflix). Or does that make movies less valuable if they’re rented as tools to encourage people to sign up for streaming services?

“The impact on streaming is not as large as people might have expected, but it is still notable,” Ms Alexander said.

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