Sony’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife was the top title over at Vudu over the weekend, following its EST (priced to buy) release last Tuesday. That was day 46 from the film’s November 19 theatrical release, meaning Sony has quietly gone along with the whole “45 days is the new 90 days” new normal in terms of theatrical windows. Warner Bros. has promised that its theatrical releases, including The Batman and Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, will get at least 45 days in theaters before heading to VOD and/or streaming destinations, while Paramount gave A Quiet Place part II a 45-day exclusivity window this past summer. Barring an exception to the rule, 45 is indeed the new 90. And judging by A Quiet Place part II earning 85% of its predecessor’s $341 million gross, that might be enough.
We have seen some exceptions already. Not just the “bad” exceptions (Disney sending Encanto to Disney+ after a month and practically begging audiences to wait until streaming to see it) but also “good” exceptions, like Shang-Chi arriving on Disney+ 71 days after its debut and Eternals arriving on EST and Disney+ this very week between its tenth and eleventh weekend in theaters. I’m not big on Universal’s “send the movie to PVOD in as little as 17 days” plan (Sing 2 ranked #2 this weekend after its Friday streaming premiere), but they seem to be aware enough of how a film’s theatrical strength can bolster streaming and post-theatrical revenue streams to make sure the successful films (The Croods: A New Age, Candyman, etc.) don’t drop dead theatrically on day 18 or (for $50 million-plus openers) day 32.
Sing 2 dropped right on day 17 because it opened on a Wednesday and thus day 17 was Friday the 7th, but the jukebox musical sequel still passed $100 million domestic (the first toon to do so since Frozen II) and earned another $11 million over the weekend. Likewise, Ghostbusters: Afterlife wasn’t a monster hit, but the Jason Reitman-directed legacy sequel earned $125 million domestic and (thus far) $191 million worldwide. Yes, it might have earned a little more in non-Covid times (probably tying with the $229 million global cume of Ghostbusters: Answer the Call in summer 2016), but its $75 million budget (versus the sky-high $144 million spent on the gender-swapped remake) means it didn’t have to break records to break even. Just make sure the sequel doesn’t cost more than $110 million.
When Snake Eyes bombs as badly as it does ($38 million domestic from a $13.3 million debut), I can’t blame entirely Paramount for sending it to PVOD just under a month after its theatrical opening day. I’ve long argued that there could be flexibility when theatrical releases like (to use three 2105 flops) Victor Frankenstein, Jem and the Holograms or We Are Your Friends just flame out instantly. If Universal threw The 355 onto PVOD tomorrow, I wouldn’t exactly protest. Although, ditto something like Snake Eyes they are still better off just waiting until day 21 (the Friday of its fourth weekend) or day 46 (usually a Tuesday) for consistency. Since every studio has a different window, which they can break for any given title, audiences don’t know what films are available when and where.
The ten prior Spider-Man flicks (the Raimi trilogy, the Webb reboots, the MCU flicks, the Venom films and Into the Spider-Verse) make up 25% of the top 40 in every VOD chart. Conversely, and this may be a red herring or a grim foreshadowing, the four Scream films are entirely absent or way down in the various VOD charts. The other Vudu chart-toppers, and this was mostly the case with the other platforms as well, includes No Time to Die, The Last Duel (*now* people are realizing how good it was), Clifford the Big Red Dog (despite concurrently existing on Paramount+), King Richard (another terrific “Hollywood never makes these anymore” that proved why Hollywood may soon stop making them), Antlers, the fourth season of Yellowstone and Resident Evil: Welcome to Racoon City.