A struggling box office and the promise of PVOD returns mean the award contenders can’t wait for Christmas before giving up theatrical exclusivity.
Multiple sources confirm that PVOD platforms will debut two top award contenders on December 13th – “The Fabelmans” (Universal) and “The Banshees of Inisherin” (Searchlight). Bones and All (United Artists), an even more recent release, will also join them on that date.
For “Banshees” the date comes 53 days after it was first released. But for Fabelmans, it will be just 32 days after the Steven Spielberg drama goes into a theatrical platform release, and 23 days after it begins its wider release. Bones VOD date comes 25 days after Platform, 18 days after Wide.
Conclusion: The promise of Christmas fun is no longer enough. And waiting for the even bigger spike in Oscar nominations (on January 24 this year) seems impossible.
Competitors ‘TÁR’ (Focus) and ‘Till’ (United Artists) as well as ‘Armageddon Time’ (Focus) and ‘Triangle of Sadness’ (Neon) are also among October’s specialized releases already available for viewing at home. However, the early PVOD appearance of “Fabelmans” and “Banshees” rather than playing through the once-lucrative holiday season is a sign of a radically changed world for these films.
Compared to pre-COVID times, revenue for specialty films fares much worse than broad release studio titles. The PVOD placement is a disappointment at this make-or-break stage; Fall and the holidays are to these films what summer is to studios. Things look even worse after this summer’s very strong performance of Everything Everywhere All at Once (A24), which, with domestic sales of $70 million and four months of theatrical exclusivity, even swept Best Picture winner Parasite by surpassed 2020.
Assuming audience appeal for these films is similar to that of previous years’ releases, it appears that core audiences for films aged 40 and over have declined sharply. The films also face accelerated playoffs with fewer platforms and limited runs, earlier wide play, showings in far more theaters, followed by a rapid home run. All of this detracts from the urgency to see in cinemas.
Even after two awards seasons in which the top nominees were either not limited to any play (or, in most cases, were spotted at home early), this still feels odd. More than anything, it emphasizes that PVOD revenue is critical (approximately $14 of each transaction goes to the distributor). It’s hell for cinema windows, but it’s important to secure funding for similar films in the future.
Jonathan Hession/Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures
The VOD releases still come eight days after the Screen Actors Guild nominations, the day after the Golden Globes announced their nominations, and after the New York and Los Angeles groups chose their winners.
“Banshees” grossed less than $8 million, with only $342,000 over the three-day Thanksgiving weekend. Fabelmans went modestly far (638 theaters) last Wednesday, at an unimpressive $2.7 million for the three days and little sign of any daily improvement. Although “Bones and All” had more than four times as many theaters as Spielberg’s film, it grossed the same amount.
For “Fabelmans” it will open in most parts of the world next year. Digital screenings risk piracy. So take this as a sign that what could be lost is being offset by the potential premium of PVOD earnings. The studio spent about $40 million on production plus marketing; We’re still a long way from breaking even.
All of this has major implications for specialized core theaters, but none of it happens in a vacuum. It just underscores the fragility of this market.
https://www.indiewire.com/2022/11/fabelmans-banshees-of-inisherin-bones-and-all-pvod-december-13-1234786848/ Fabelmans, Banshees of Inisherin, Bones and All Go PVOD December 13th