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‘F9’ and ‘A Quiet Place Part II’ Thrive in Theaters, but Home Is Where the Profit Is

Whether a movie's time in theaters is long or short, VOD is doing a lot of heavy lifting when it comes to the studios' bottom line.

(from left) Harry Mansell (RZA), Hutch Mansell (Bob Odenkirk) and David Mansell (Christopher Lloyd) in "Nobody," directed by Ilya Naishuller.

RZA, Bob Odenkirk, and Christopher Lloyd in “Nobody”

Allen Fraser/Unive

F9” deserves its headline as a success story, with more than $83 million domestic in its first four days. “A Quiet Place Part II” (Paramount) will reach $140 million by July 1. “F9” should be available on Premium VOD in late July (about 31 days after its release date), while “Quiet” will stream on Paramount Plus starting July 12, 45 days after it opened in theaters.

Meanwhile, three films that gave greater priority to nontheatrical platforms are also doing very well. Though we have limited data, their performance on streaming charts and elsewhere suggest that “Nobody” (Universal), “Godzilla vs. Kong” (Warner Bros.), and “Cruella” (Disney) all made major hauls. That success outside theaters is every bit as relevant as the box office.

“Nobody,” with a $14 million budget, grossed about $27 million in theaters. We can reasonably estimate that Universal will recoup $12 million-$14 million in film rental, and about the same for the international gross. There’s also significant marketing costs. Given what we know about the post-theatrical results, they suggest a lucrative performance. Based on the weekly VOD charts tracked by IndieWire, “Nobody” appears to be second only to “The Croods: A New Age” (also Universal).

The studio recoups 80 percent of each PVOD transaction — at the premium rate of $19.99, that’s about $16. “Nobody,” which spent three weeks only in theaters, then had two months as a very popular PVOD, followed by another strong run in VOD. A conservative estimate would suggest 2 million PVOD rentals (almost certainly more). Additional weeks at $5.99, which returns 70 percent to Universal. That’s $40 million straight to the studio.

Emma Stone as Cruella in Disney’s live-action CRUELLA. Photo by Laurie Sparham. © 2021 Disney Enterprises Inc. All Rights Reserved.

“Cruella”

Laurie Sparham/Disney

“Cruella” reflects how initial theatrical results tell an incomplete story. The live-action reboot of the “101 Dalmatians” films opened to $26.5 million over the four-day Memorial Day weekend — less than half of “A Quiet Place Part II.” Unlike that Paramount film, it wasn’t theater exclusive, but could be rented for $29.99 by Disney+ subscribers. It should gross more than $80 million — but actual revenue to Disney will be somewhere above $35 million, given the reduced rental terms that come with a same-day release.

On the home front, it had four weeks as a Disney exclusive with a $29.99 surcharge; and a source suggested it had about 700,000 rentals its first weekend. That would mean $21 million went to the studio. It then added other platforms (still $29.99, which sends $24 to Disney). Another million rentals on Disney+ feels conservative, which would represent $24 million more. Now, other platforms are also offering it (still $29.99, 80 percent to Disney).

On that basis, a $100 million VOD estimate appears reasonable — and it reinforces the Disney+ subscription base all the while. (Is there a calculus that might let us determine at-home multiples off of opening weekends? No idea.)

At the high end, that suggests a Disney domestic payout of up to $150 million. International action on PVOD is still in development, but in theaters it’s grossed $110 million. Budget estimates for the film are as high as $200 million, so it’s unclear if it would be in profit — but it might be close.

Now compare this to “A Quiet Place Part II.” Figure it to gross $160 million in theaters, with Paramount getting perhaps 55 percent (around $90 million). That means by July 12, when “Quiet” goes to Paramount Plus (PVOD plans unannounced, but they’re likely later and not as lucrative), Disney’s domestic take for “Cruella” will be greater than Paramount’s for “Quiet.”

Godzilla vs. Kong

“Godzilla vs. Kong”

Warner Bros./Legendary Entertainment

“Godzilla” has done well in theaters. It’s the second best for 2021 so far and should return up to $50 million in film rental to Warners. HBO Max benefits from the same-day release and it’s available on PVOD for $29.99. After five weeks, results are still strong and add an indeterminate amount to its take. With a total worldwide theatrical gross of $444 million and another $200 million budget, it all helps the film move closer to profit.

In the post-COVID world, there is no one “correct” model. Expect that films like “Quiet” and “F9,” with their 31-45 day delays for home access, to coexist with many that have shorter windows. For the right film, they all work. Theatrical exposure remains critical; it elevated “Nobody,” “Cruella,” and “Godzilla.”

There’s also potential benefits for theaters. Thanks to its strong at-home results, low-budget original “Nobody” could now become a franchise. Presumably, that will be another hot title for theaters — unless, of course, strategies shift in the interim. The new normal is that all is subject to change.

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