‘Parasite’ Rakes in Box Office Even While Streaming, and That’s a Gamechanger

The Best Picture winner is breaking new records, and could soon outgross "The King's Speech" for post-Oscar box office.
Parasite Rakes in Box Office While Streaming, and That's a Gamechanger

For “Parasite,” Oscars were not the end of its achievements. It will have the biggest post-win gross of any Best Picture since “The King’s Speech” in 2011. And, it will take in the majority of its box-office gross while streaming, selling more tickets as a first-run release while viewable at home than any release ever.

Before we dive too deeply into praise: With the Bonghive following post-Oscar grosses for “Parasite” as if they share personally in the bounty, there’s a risk of “Parasite” becoming the specialized version of last year’s “Avengers: Endgame,” which claimed to be the biggest all-time grosser. (No, “Parasite” is not the fourth-biggest subtitled release. That would require ignoring adjusted ticket prices, as well as films released before 1980 — the golden age of foreign-language films.)

With that out of the way: The real achievements of “Parasite” post awards are significant and worth celebrating. As of February 9, Oscar night, “Parasite” grossed $34 million. As of February 18, it stands at $44 million; after next weekend, $48 million. Given its current strength, it should keep most of its top theaters and cross $55 million. Even $60 million isn’t impossible (although less likely).


Nearly $30 Million in Box Office While Home Viewing Available

As of January 13 (the morning Oscar nominations were announced), its gross stood at $25.5 million — nearly four times as big as any specialized subtitled release since 2011, and the best overall since 2006. On January 14, “Parasite” was available for streaming purchase; streaming rentals, along with DVD/Blu-Ray, followed on January 28. Never in history has a first-run release done this well in theaters in the face of these cheaper alternatives.

Boosted by nominations and wins, Oscar films can have extended releases that go past 90-day windows and create day-and-date theater/streaming. Even so, with many people choosing theaters for an event film even while it can be purchased for viewing for $3.99 on ITunes (#2 at the moment, behind “Frozen II”), that has to get the attention of studio executives eager to create more flexible theatrical windows. It’s proof that co-existence, under certain circumstances, works.

A film that can gross as much as $30 million and most of its take while streaming is a historic and important moment. Theaters probably won’t see it that way. Still: At some point, expect a distributor to announce that theaters have the option of playing their top release with possible home availability after 45 or 60 days.

Post-Oscar Box Office: $20 million

At $20 million, “Parasite” would make $5 million more than any Best Picture winner since “The King’s Speech.” If it gets to $25 million post Oscars, it will be the clear winner. Although “Green Book” added $14.5 million, the Best Picture norm is to add $5 million-$6 million (“Green Book” was also already streaming last year.)

“Parasite” is no ordinary Oscar winner, of course. It’s historic; the news coverage has been relentless (and, positive); its victory hit the top of page 1 of the New York Times The film was at the lower end of grosses when it won, so it had room to grow. Its sense as a particularly strong communal experience may have helped theaters. Perhaps the idea of seeing subtitles on a large screen rather than straining at home (particularly for older viewers) aids the surge. And it’s possible new viewers add to the strong word of mouth that boosted this since the start.


“Parasite” generated massive numbers in its home country, terrific showings of around $12 million in France and Germany, and reasonable takes elsewhere in advance of the awards. But weirdly, the U.K. release came just two days before the Oscars. Now in its second weekend, “Parasite” doubled its still-limited theaters to 400 and it jumped to #2 in the country with $3.25 million, behind “Sonic the Hedgehog.” It’s grossed about $6.5 million to date — well on its way to taking the no. 3 slot in worldwide performance.

That, of course, comes with no U.K. home viewing yet available. Nine months after its Cannes premiere, it is still a hot title with many more viewers to come.

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