Adult-Themed, Less-Action Movies May Not Need Theatrical Releases

What works well for certain movies in theaters may not work for other genres on streaming platforms. Analysts mused about where the trends are going.

Increasing the view is clearer: Adult-themed/less special-effect movies may need a different place to gain viewers versus  fantasy/superhero movies.

Do you want to watch “King Richard” or “The Many Saints of Networks’ at a big-screen movie theater? Well, it might be nice -- but not necessary. What about “Eternals,” “Black Widow” or “Venom”? Big screen viewing is key for fantasy movies.

Warner Bros. “King Richard,” about Richard Williams, father of tennis champions Serena and Venus Williams, only earned $5.7 million in its opening U.S. box-office weekend, way under expectations, according to analysts. At the same time, HBO Max, the sister premium service of Warner Bros., pulled in 707,000 households during a three-day window, according to TV researcher Samba TV. Is that good news?



If you figure roughly one to three living-room viewers in those homes, that could mean 1 million or so streaming viewers. At around $10 a ticket, the rough average price of a movie theater these days, that would have meant -- again roughly -- an additional $7 million to $10 million in box-office revenue.

That would mean a healthier $12 million to $15 million take. Conversely, at the same time, consider many at home may never have gone to the theater to see it.

Yet according to, Warner Bros. efforts made a strong promo effort for the movie.

Total TV airings for the movie, virtually all national TV commercials, were at 851 for the most recent two weeks ending Nov. 21 and 1,584 for the lifetime of the campaign, yielding 911 million impressions. By way of comparison, “Ghostbusters” has been estimated at 4,429 airings overall and 2,843 for the most recent two weeks, pulling in 1.3 billion impressions.

This isn’t to say movies simultaneously airing in theaters and streaming aren't positive. Does heavy national TV marketing also help stir interest on streaming platforms?

Many movies these days have a dual TV marketing approach -- including ending TV on-screen copy with messages such as “See it in Theaters. And on HBO Max.” That’s the tag for “King Richard” spots.

So what’s the bottom line? How many new long-term subscribers were there for HBO Max? In the near term, there will be way more streaming/theatrical questions to ask.

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