Getting 'Butts In Seats' - In Movie Theaters

Morning-morning quarterbacking might offer up how absurd it was that Universal Studios' "Super Mario Bros. Movie" was intended exclusively or otherwise for a streaming platform.

It has scored nearly $900 million at the theatrical box office globally. That's around the net loss of most premium streamers per year from legacy media companies' platforms -- Peacock, Paramount+, whatever.

Remember when streaming exclusively was a thing? Its heyday was just after WarnerMedia's new HBO Max launched in May 2020, which then had a plan to stream -- exclusively -- mostly everything that was intended to go theatrically. (Yes, this was partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which closed theaters).

Back to "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" -- it now has the best result for Universal Studios for an animated movie -- and third-best domestically overall ever behind “Jurassic World” and “ET.”



All this confirms publicly a major reversal of what Warner Bros. Discovery has been trying to do recently, for the better part of a year or so: It now looks to monetize all content -- TV, movies and otherwise -- outside of HBO Max, soon to be re-launched as just Max.

Some of the initial Warner Bros. TV/movie library, which was placed exclusively on HBO Max, has now been sold to other parties under license deals.

Putting theatrically intended movies exclusively onto streaming doesn't even get headlines -- only for some “movies-made-for-TV” quality content.

Movie studios -- while they are seeing traditional moviegoers steadily returning to the big screen -- still haven’t gotten to their usual number of “butts in seats” (A movie marketer's sometimes key phrase).

Still, proponents of streaming might say all these early efforts -- from WarnerMedia -- did in fact help pull in and sustain subscribers.

Perhaps some research should track -- if possible -- what happens to those theatrical moviegoing subscribers? Are they really back in theaters? On the sidelines? 

Some might say the theatrical moviegoing audience is more segmented than ever before.

While the young crowd still loves the out-of-home experience, the older in-theater movie customers realize they could stay at home with their big screens and seemingly endless choice of movies and TV shows.

This is especially true of those big action adventure/fantasy/animated movies for those young audiences. Movie studios would say “Mario” still pulled in older consumers -- as part of succeeding in getting their target “four” quadrant audience.

But if premium streaming marketing is to be believed, big-time movie and TV content can be available -- almost always, and as soon as possible -- on CTV.

So maybe -- for the time being -- home is where the movie heart is.

1 comment about "Getting 'Butts In Seats' - In Movie Theaters".
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  1. Roy Moskowitz from Reciprocal Results, April 26, 2023 at 6:27 p.m.

    Butts in the seat should be the preferred metric over box office to properly compare movie success because ticket prices always increase.  A larger box office for a current film does not mean more people saw it than an older production.

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