How’s this for an Oscar bounce? “Parasite” (Neon), per IndieWire sources, grossed $501,000 Monday. It placed as the #4 film overall, with the highest per-screen average of any non-platform release. That’s up from #11 for the weekend, where it grossed $1,560,000. That puts it at $36 million and counting.
It did $159,000 last Monday, so on the same number of screens the gross tripled. Its Sunday gross was $433,000, with an average Monday normally seeing a 70% or greater drop. Instead, it improved. The number appears to be a bigger figure than any day after Best Picture win since “The King’s Speech” in 2011.
And that comes at the same time both Amazon and iTunes list “Parasite” as the #1 movie rental on their home viewing sites. Though not unusual for a next-day response, a subtitled film leading these charts is nearly unprecedented.
That compares to its rival “1917,” which grossed over $800,000 Monday after $9.2 million over the weekend. And of course, “1917” is a theater-only release for now.
“Parasite” is expected to expand to over 1,800 theaters this weekend, its widest count by far for its whole run. That could place it back in the Top Ten with its best-ever weekend gross. And based on the Monday numbers, a $10 million or greater additional haul could be possible.
In recent years, it has been standard for films that debut by mid-November to transition to home platforms by the time they win. But theaters are happy to cater to viewers who prefer seeing winners on screen, although often with truncated schedules. For the last seven years, only one Best Picture added more than $7 million post win: “Green Book.” That film was overall the biggest hit since “Argo,” and had a staggered release pattern that brought it to $69.6 million by Oscar night, then added another $14.5 million (just over 20%) to reach $85 million. But again, “Parasite” did better its day after winning.
“Parasite” winning four Oscars, including Best Picture (the first non-English language film to do this), will have effects well beyond the film itself. In the meantime, It will significantly raise revenue for Neon and its overseas producers.
With $35,532,000 in through Sunday in its 18th week, “Parasite” already lapped earlier independent Best Picture winner “Moonlight” by over $7 million. It is around $10 million under “Spotlight” four years ago, a bit less behind “Birdman,” and far ahead of “The Hurt Locker” which adjusted to current ticket prices did around $21 million.
None of these had the perceived consumer handicap of subtitles. “Moonlight,” “Birdman,” and “Spotlight” had runs that included prime theatrical play parallel to its nominations (“The Hurt Locker” moved to home viewing after a summer release, so was in less position to benefit). Monday results for “Parasite” suggest that it will add much more post-win than any of these.
But what’s just as impressive as the initial theatrical response is the performance of the various ancillary market. The monetary value is harder to estimate, since distributors don’t reveal the revenues. But this could provide as much or more revenue than theatrical, where Neon will likely get somewhat under 50% of the take (long awards runs tend to mean much of the rental decreases). For home rental platforms, industry sources suggest a distributor gets to retain 65%-70%, with minimal costs including advertising.
Then there are hard-copy sales and rentals. Netflix still has an active DVD-by-mail operation. Their queue lists “Parasite” as now having a long wait (normally only happening during the first week or so of a film’s release).
More benefits come from contracts for cable and other platforms, which include clauses for bonuses with Oscar wins, along with usually increased payments based on box-office performance. And winning a Best Picture Oscar places a film as a catalog perennial with a minimum value to its rights owner forever.
The film has opened in nearly all the world, with a total approaching $170 million, $72 million of that in South Korea alone. But France and Japan each have kicked in $12 million so far. Amazingly, the film only opened in the U.K./Ireland last week, with around $1.7 million in under 200 theaters, and a wider release planned for this Friday. The wins will certainly propel renewed interest and spur further countries, though this seemed always an unlikely release in China even before the coronavirus scare.
Whatever domestic level “Parasite” reaches, don’t be fooled by the mantra repeated in nearly all other reports about its placement among all-time subtitled releases. The list relied on for this only starts in 1980, after several post-war decades when the art film market for foreign films thrived much more than today. “La Dolce Vita,” “Z,” “La Cage aux folles,” “I Am Curious, Yellow” are among titles that exceeded $100 million in gross when adjusted, and multiple other successes did better than $50 million converted to current prices. And some of the ones listed at levels that “Parasite” could achieve because of lower prices in the past also did significantly better than $50 million. (And these lists don’t include Mel Gibson’s two historical films, with “Passion of the Christ” the biggest non-English language film ever domestically).
But that was then. Now, when $5 million for a specialized subtitled film is a rarity, $10 million thought to be a thing of the past, one has already more than tripled that and is headed for more. It is likely not to be easily repeated, but these numbers even before the Oscars will encourage more risk taking as well as widening the potential audience, particularly among younger viewers. That’s a win for everyone.
And more relevant — if it can approach $50 million, it will have outgrossed half of the five most recent winners. That’s the most valid comparison. And great company to be in.