UPDATE, OSCAR NIGHT 2019: Universal/Participant Media/DreamWorks’ Green Book just won Best Picture at the Oscars and that means a theatrical Oscar halo will be in effect at the box office. The pic played at 1,253 theaters this weekend earning $2M in its 15th weekend with a running total of $69.6M. The pic is bound to final between $77M, possibly $80M. The movie also won Best Original Screenplay tonight and Best Supporting actor for Mahershala Ali’s portrayal of American classical and jazz pianist Dr. Don Shirley. In recent years, the Best Picture Winner has gone on to see another 11%-13% jump in its domestic B.O.
Tomorrow is when studio distribution departments hammer out their theater counts with exhibitors for the following weekend. Requests should also be coming in for Fox Searchlight’s The Favourite (current B.O. $32.1M) after Olivia Colman’s surprise Best Actress win, and 20th Century Fox/New Regency’s Bohemian Rhapsody despite the fact that the pic is already on DVD/VOD. The pic which won four Oscars including Best Actor for Rami Malek, has a stateside cume, propped by sing-along versions, of $213.1M. The pic has been in release since Nov. 2.
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In either case, Netflix is the winner in regards to eyeballs: Both titles are available to watch on the streaming service.
While SAG ensemble winner Black Panther, released a year ago, has tapped out $1.3 billion worldwide, Netflix/Participant’s theatrical-streaming release of Roma is a sign of what is yet to come during Oscar season, particularly how major indie features are handled: An obligatory exclusive theatrical release over a short period before becoming available on a streaming platform like Netflix, Hulu or Amazon.
As one rival major studio distribution boss told Deadline recently about Netflix’s handling of Roma, “They didn’t break any rules, in fact they played by them” in regards to the stipulations put forth by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences. The movie counts two Golden Globes for director Alfonso Cuaron and Best Foreign Film, and won the top prize at BAFTA and Critics’ Choice.
While Roma has been in theaters since Nov. 21 –the pic is booked at roughly 90 locations this weekend alone–Netflix has not reported grosses, nor have they reported streaming viewership numbers which is by and large the company’s policy. The initial first week’s run of Roma was four-walled at the IFC Center, and Landmark 57 in New York and The Landmark in Los Angeles. Following that when the pic hit streaming on Dec. 14, we heard that the feature was offered at generous terms in exhibitors’ favor (Like at 60% to 70% in exhibs’ favor). However, per Netflix sources we hear that the rental rate was akin to a regular film where it starts off around 40% to 50% for an exhibitor, with the latter’s share of the B.O. increasing thereafter week after week. During the post nom period Roma increased to 100 sites, 45 of those theaters being new locations.
Having navigated around the big theater chains such as AMC, Regal and Cinemark which bar short-windowed movies, especially those titles available on VOD or streaming, Netflix takes pride in those theaters that have held Roma since the start. Also, Roma was flat out rejected by the big three’s annual Oscar Best Picture showcases, as Deadline exclusively reported.
Some film distributors feared that Roma‘s awards season swath would spell the end of the independent feature theatrical release as we know it during future awards seasons. After winning two Golden Globes, we asked Roma director Alfonso Cuaron, and he was over the moon believing his personal black and white Spanish-language film had the best of both worlds: the widest audience possible in 70MM theaters and on streaming. Juxtapose this to Amazon’s black and white Polish language feature Cold War which has made $3.5M at the domestic B.O. with 270 theaters being its widest count (Amazon boss Jennifer Salke said at TCA last week that she’s considering the Netflix theatrical/streaming model for some awards-worthy titles in the future).
Should Universal/Participant/DreamWorks’ PGA Award winner Green Book wind up with Best Picture on Sunday, then yes, expect to see that post Oscars B.O. boost.
By Sunday, the Peter Farrelly-directed drama should be just under $70M and by the end of its run should see another 11% or 13% gain for a final domestic of $77M to $79M. Since the pic’s wide break over Thanksgiving at 1,063 theaters, Green Book has seen a near 13x multiple which speaks to how it resonates with audiences. In ComScore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak exits Green Book scored 4 1/2 stars, 91% positive with largely evenly split female-to-male ratio and 87% over 25. Netflix did not have Roma privately polled by CinemaScore nor was the feature monitored by PostTrak.
Some in distribution say that a box office halo following a film’s Best Picture win at the Oscars is a trajectory from a bygone era. With shorter theatrical windows, it’s been a while since we’ve seen huge percent jumps in a pic’s total running B.O. following the award ceremony, i.e. Best Picture winners like 1988’s The Last Emperor (+75% post show with a final of $43.9M), 2005’s Million Dollar Baby (+55% post Oscars with $100.4M) and 2008’s Slumdog Millionaire (+44% with final of $141.3M). Best Picture winners such as last year’s The Shape of Water, 2014’s 12 Years a Slave, and 2015’s Birdman have only seen post Oscar B.O. jumps between 11%-13%.
Instead distributors look to the post Nom frame to make all their moola and this year, in addition to Green Book, Annapurna’s Vice (just under $47M by Sunday) and Fox Searchlight’s The Favourite (around $32M) were the most notable gainers this season respectively with 18% and 38%. The reason why these three pics made recognizable increases is due to the fact that they were released later in 2018 and had more runway to keep grossing this year. All of the other Best Picture Nominees were released prior to Thanksgiving and had pretty much played out. Should Annapurna’s Vice and Fox Searchlight’s The Favourite win key awards, their respective studios will re-release them back into theaters.
Always remarkable coming away from Oscar night are those pics that lose in key categories, yet continue to rally at the B.O. American Sniper won only one Oscar for sound editing out of its six which included Best Picture, however, the Clint Eastwood-directed movie made another $30M following the 2015 Academy Awards for a final domestic of $350M. Hidden Figures saw another $17M after Oscar night 2017 for a final B.O. of $169.6M. However, the bread for these pics simply didn’t rely on their awards traction, rather their success stemmed from the fact that they spoke to a greater shared consciousness.
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