Is this a surprise? Sadly, no. Another movie that could have been watched in theaters is now, quite unnecessarily we think, skipping the big screen.
Wondering how much it’s worth to be able to say an originally intended theatrical release movie is exclusively available on your streaming channel? HBO is giving us some insight with Greenland starring Gerard Butler.
As of now, “Greenland” will arrive on PVOD to purchase on October 13. The film will then be available to rent on October 27. Again, pretty typical stuff. But in early 2021, “Greenland” will make its way to HBO on the network and the company’s HBO Max streaming platform, exclusively. And to ensure that exclusivity, it’s being reported the network had to pay between $20 million and $30 million. For perspective, that’s way more than what HBO paid to land the distribution rights for “Bad Education,” starring Hugh Jackman, which was nominated for a bunch of awards and played last year’s festivals.
$20-30 million is around what Tenet has grossed domestically through the last four weeks in September ($33+ million to be precise, according to Box Office Mojo), and the studio cut a deal with HBO to grant them an exclusive release in 2021.
Now ask yourself if Greenland had released domestically in theaters with the current amount of roughly 70% reopened theaters, would it have made more than $20-30 million? If you think yes, it likely doesn’t matter because day and date releases (available on streaming as well as theaters at the same time) are not looked upon favorably by the top three chains. OK, sort of save for AMC and Universal (see: Good deal – AMC strikes historic deal with Universal to shrink theatrical window to 17 days)
Maybe we’re in the minority here — that’s not terribly unusual with some of our opinions — but we wanted to see Greenland in theaters as originally planned, then it could still be exclusive to HBO. You know, the way things used to work? Who cares about the past, it seems. What would have been the price tag? We’ll never know now.
Did you want to see Greenland in the theater? Or perfectly happy to drop your 20 bones — or whatever it will cost — and watch on October 13 on VOD? Or wait it out until early 2021 when HBO Max has it as an exclusive new title?
Mulan has a reported ~$200 million budget and, after hemorrhaging billions of dollars in its various business interests in Q3-2020, will be streaming for $29.99 and whatever theaters are open — and will show it — under lack of honoring the theatrical window on September 4.
The news of the release came as Disney released brutal quarterly results that showed the extent to which the company’s media empire was ravaged by the pandemic. The company reported that it had a net loss of nearly $5 billion in the third quarter this year.
To my understanding, unless something changes (entirely possible), Regal Cinemas will not be showing Mulan under these conditions. They are sticking by the “must respect the standard theatrical window” requirement. So, when and if Regal Cinemas open later this month, Mulan will not be part of the offering.
Curious, I surfed over to Regal Cinemas website to see if Mulan was showing as a “coming soon” movie? Nope.
Cinemark is the only other giant player and they seem to be following Regal’s plans regarding not showing movies that don’t respect the standard 90 day theatrical window.
Streaming to VOD dates haven’t been pushed around that much (at all?), so I think it’s fairly safe to assume Mulan will be released on September 4, as Disney announced. What sort of theaters are open and screen it? Whole other enchilada.
Will Disney+ subscribers pony up another $30 to see Mulan? If you’re a subscriber, will you? Unless our grandchildren really want to see this movie badly, like they wanted to see Trolls World Tour, I don’t think we’ll be breaking out the plastic for this one.
I think what has me pausing is just how darn fast Scoob went from VOD to available on HBO Max. I mean it seemed like only a few weeks later. Don’t know the specific amount of time, but it might have been less than the 17 days!
Why pay $30 for Mulan, if a few weeks later it appears on Disney+ for $0 extra? I think this is a problem if there is no reasonable VOD streaming window. The other part of this decision is will we be able to buy it for $30, or is that strictly rental only? Buying and owning the movie for $30 doesn’t sting as much as renting it, only to see an appearance for $0 extra shortly later.
We’re just speculating on when Mulan will move away from $30 price at Disney+, but it’s an intriguing move considering the movie’s large budget. Does Disney need to do this out of financial necessity or is it trying to throw customers a 30 dollar bone?
Your comments, as always are welcome. Will you be paying an extra $30 for Mulan on Disney+ or waiting out the inevitable release without the extra VOD fee?
One of the five movies I’ve most looked forward to watching in 2020 is the third Bill and Ted movie. Maybe not for the reasons some might expect. More on that shortly.
The original was the better than the sequel Bogus Journey, but I’ve been needing some more rock and roll from those crazy San Demis time travelers.
An official teaser dropped in June, giving us our first look at what the dynamic duo has been up to since their bogus journey. Answer: not much. They’re having a bit of a mid-life crisis, with Wyld Stallyns reduced to playing gigs “in Barstow, California, for 40 people, most of whom were there for two-dollar taco night,” as the future utopia’s Great Leader (Holland Taylor) observed. We got a brief glimpse of William Sadler’s Grim Reaper and Bill’s and Ted’s two daughters, Wilhelmina/Billie “Little Bill” Logan (Brigette Lundy-Paine, Bombshell) and Theodora/Thea “Little Ted” Preston (Samara Weaving, Ready or Not). Bill and Ted concoct a plan to travel to the future to steal the song that saves the world from themselves after they’ve already written it. (“How is it stealing if we’re stealing it from ourselves, dude?”)
The trailer makes me want to go back and rewatch the first two films. I like how many of their signature moves were included like them kneeling over and doing some heavy air guitar.
But does it work with their characters being older? That’s the main thing that makes me curious about this film. Does it work with an older Bill and Ted? Can it?
With the right story age shouldn’t matter.
Given, they aren’t high schoolers any more, which has their “dude!” juvenile personas losing a little — maybe a lot — of luster. Then again, maybe older Bill and Teds are just the kind of radical character change the franchise needs to keep a third adventure fresh?
We all grow older, even Bill and Ted, but maybe it’s the child in me wanting to keep Bill and Ted locked at a certain age.
The trailer and the obvious older ages of the actors makes this look slower than the original and sequel, too.
Can this work for the franchise? I don’t know. Not that I’m trying to be ageist, but age for characters that are intentionally immature is an obstacle that the script must somehow overcome. We all know know Keanu Reeves is a great actor, regardless of age and I’m not sure what Alex Winter has been up to but in the trailer he doesn’t seem out of character. George Carlin is gone, so no Rufus on this adventure, sadly. Carlin might be a vital missing ingredient.
What do you think? Do Bill & Ted have to be high schoolers to make films in this franchise work? Should we be glad they didn’t try to digitally de-age them? (actually, that could have been a very funny inside joke to play off of in 2020)
Bill and Ted Face The Music will be released in whatever theaters are open and streaming on VOD September 1, 2020.
The Pardoner is coming soon and it’s up to a familiar action hero to take him down.
Earlier today on FIRST LOOK Friday we looked at Endless (see: FIRST LOOK: Endless), scheduled to be released simultaneously on VOD and in theaters (if they are open). That’s a teen romance, now here’s an action film starring Diehard alum Bruce Willis.
Bruce Willis stars as tech billionaire Donovan Chalmers, who hires a team of mercenaries led by Jesse Metcalfe‘s Derek Miller to protect one of his most dangerous pieces of technology. But things go off the rails when a terrorist group kidnaps Chalmers daughters to try and get their hands on the tech, while Miller winds up face-to-face with an old enemy.
Honestly, it’s been awhile since I’ve seen an action film that’s been that good with Bruce Willis in it. He hasn’t fallen on as hard straight-to-video times as Steven Seagal, but he’s been in some stinkers no doubt, considering the former glory he once had.
I thought he might do a decent job as Paul Kersey in the reboot of Death Wish, but that script was a mess and he played that iconic Charles Bronson role too stoic and reserved. The whole idea of remaking that 70s classic film was bad, so maybe Willis shouldn’t be blamed.
This movie, as some others Willis has been in, looks somewhat interesting. Willis is 65, he’s not going to be doing much running and gunning. It looks like the Jesse Metcalf is getting the majority of the action and Willis is playing more of the boss/financier.
Same release circumstances as Endless, am curious what theaters will be showing this or if the big three will hold to the line that they won’t show day and date releases. This means we’ll be more likely to catch it on streaming.
Will we pay to see it there or wait for some streaming service to pick it up? Strong lean toward wait here, but maybe feelings change next month if theaters aren’t reopened. Vivarium (see: 22+ Vivarium Reviews – Eerie Social Isolation Timing, Better Suited as Anthology TV Episode) showed up on Amazon Prime Video pretty fast (it’s showing there now) after we purchased that on VOD. This is the problem with VOD releases, that people will wait for movies that don’t blow them away (this one doesn’t) with interest.
What was the last good movie you saw Bruce Willis in? Has it been awhile for you, too? I’m thinking Expendables as Church (?) His role in Motherless Brooklyn ⭐️⭐️⭐️½ in 2019 was too short to consider.
Hard Kill will be streaming on VOD and simultaneously released in theaters (if they are open) on August 28, 2020.
At some point with all these movie delays, moves and cancellations over the last few months confusion has set in.
As evidenced earlier today when I wrote a second FIRST LOOK for a movie I’d already previewed two months ago. No defense for my mistake, except to say that it’s starting to make my brain fuzzy and need to triple check my double checks for a site that is secondary to my actual job (which has been crazy busy lately — but that’s a whole other story).
Let’s talk about the newest Spongebob movie. You know that square cheese-looking (it’s a sponge, I know, I know!) character with pants and tiny legs, that Spongebob.
This new Spongebob movie which has not had a FIRST LOOK here before — yes, I triple-checked it, lol — has moved around several times and was supposed to be released in theaters on August 7, but that has been pushed back to a VOD (or PVOD) release in 2021 and then exclusively appear on CBS All Access according to the site below. Movieinsider.com (one of several sites I use for most current movie releases) still shows the release date as August 7, 2020 as a wide theater release as of this writing, but multiple sources (Variety, Syfy) are reporting this to be the case, including IMDB which simply lists “2021” as the most current release date.
“The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run,” Paramount and Nickelodeon’s animated adventure based on the absorbent underwater fry cook, is skipping its planned theatrical debut. It will instead launch on premium digital rental services in early 2021 before landing exclusively on CBS All Access, the streaming service owned by the studio’s parent company, ViacomCBS.
Have never been that much of a Spongebob fan. One of our children really likes Spongebob and even though he’s 30 (gasp!) he’s interested in seeing this, so I’ll probably throw down $$ and share watching the VOD with him. It looks about like any other Spongebob show I’ve watched (not many, admittedly) including all of Spongebob’s familiar friends.
The Spongebob Movie: Sponge On The Run does not have a release date in 2021, but as of this writing is being released straight to VOD and then exclusively streaming on CBS All Access.
Common sense here, I know, but yet I read some crazy things online.
Some come from conspiracy theorists on Twitter. and not going to link specific people or commentary here, because that just feeds the trolls, but will describe the circumstances.
Twitter can be a cesspool of negativity, so I try not to get too deeply involved in that site. Facebook? Yeah, I know that site has issues too, so many now that there is an ad boycott campaign.
Sure, I’m biased, but we’re better off spending our free time watching movies, reading reviews and following new movies coming out.
But one of the recent dustups I read about involves Vudu deleting movies you “own” without explanation or reason. I double-checked our library of movies we “own” and yes, they are all there.
As I read through the tweet comments and replies it sounds like since Vudu was purchased from Walmart by Fandango (see: Fandango Buys Vudu from Walmart – What Does This Mean For Both Services?) they are matching up email addresses to owned titles and those that don’t match are being removed from user libraries. Presumably this is some sort of license validation process. Probably the studios require this sort of validation. Legal stuff.
Guess this means get one email and keep it as long as you possibly can. If it’s tied to a domain, better hope it’s one of the major players (Google, Microsoft). Better if you have your own domain that you plan to keep for as long as you live. Whatever your strategy, moral of this story, use the same email address for your movie purchases.
My vote as of this writing and subject to change is both digital and physical media. If you want to truly own a movie, then buy the physical media. This still requires needing some way to play said media (DVD, Blu-ray, etc) and formats can/do/will become obsoleted (Betamax, VHS!). If you don’t have a player that plays the media type, then you don’t own a movie, you own a coaster.
We buy movies through three services: Amazon, Google Play and Vudu. I used to prefer Vudu, but that was because I didn’t think Walmart would sell them. Wrong. The last few movies we’ve purchased through Google Play. Amazon is probably the safest of the three, because Google does tend to cancel out services, but I don’t see financially Google or Amazon going anywhere any time soon. That’s the concern with movies you buy to “own” — will the company go out of business in your lifetime?
I’d wager that both Google and Amazon are pretty safe bets for longevity. Walmart, too, although they no longer own Vudu. Fandango? I’m not so sure about them long term. as they seem way too tied to movie theaters (and look at the current state of movie theaters, sadly), which means I have to hope that somebody buys Vudu from them if they do go under someday. That’s the only way the movies we “own” will remain accessible.
Some of these digital sites allow you to download the movie so you can play it locally, but again there is some sort of Digital Rights Management (DRM) that ties these movies to the website that authorizes the DRM. Without the website, the DRM will fail and your ability to play the movie may cease. If they removed the DRM then you could copy and redistribute the movie to anybody.
But physical copies have issues too. A major one is physical storage space. For a digital library you don’t need any physical space, it’s all in the cloud, all virtual. You can “own” tens of thousands of movies and don’t need a warehouse in your basement or backyard to store the media. Also, there’s convenience. The more titles you physically own, how the heck do you keep them organized? Library in your home, alphabetically is probably easiest but the more you own, the bigger the library, the bigger the dust, the upkeep, the work to maintain them. Digital? No physical upkeep.
And there are real world hazards to be concerned about with physical media.
What happens to your movies on DVD and Blu-ray if you have a fire? If you have insurance, you make a claim and then you receive money, less your homeowner or renters insurance deductible. You don’t ever just get your movies back. You get the money they are worth at the time of loss. This means you have to rebuy them, if you can rebuy them.
A fire won’t destroy your digital goods, but what if the company that you paid to “own” the movie digitally goes out of business? It’s the cyber version of a fire, only there isn’t any insurance — at least that I’m aware of.
For streaming purchases, the unfortunate fate of one’s collection is pretty straightforward: “Let’s imagine Amazon goes out of business,” said Siva Vaidhyanathan, a media studies professor at the University of Virginia. “In the case of streaming videos, yeah, you just lose it. It’s just not stored locally.”
So, do you ever really “own” any movie? Digital, physical, the answer is essentially the same.
You possess the ability to watch it based on a set of unknown future conditions. You can transfer the ownership through sale if you own the physical media, which increases the value.
Think I’ve laid out the many pros and cons.
We were huge collectors of movies and TV show seasons once upon a time. We still own hundreds, but we sold, gave away or donated the rest. We don’t need to own a bunch of “stuff” any more. Now the movies we really love to rewatch, we’ll either buy digitally (preferred) or in some cases the physical media (3D movies, for example which are very specialized format and not as widely represented online) or hopefully can subscribe to a service that shows. I’ve never owned Jaws, but right now have access to HBO Max which has Jaws available to stream. Gone With The Wind? Same thing. Star Wars? I have owned that in a couple different formats. We can watch it whenever we want on Disney+ — as long as we stay subscribed.
Conditions, conditions. There is no right answer to this. What do you do? Buy the physical copies? Buy digital? Both like us? Or none of the above, just subscribe to streaming services and watch/rewatch what you’re most interested in at the moment?
Whenever the movie theater experience returns from the pandemic, the new movie viewing environment during all of this for the disabled has at least been leveled.
While exhibitors love to preach the sanctity of the communal experience, that belief system often seems to neglect the fact that a portion of that community — 15 percent of the world’s population, to be exact — can’t participate. Those with disabilities who can’t visit a theater are often left to wait at least three months to see a movie. And when you’re already treated differently, any distance from normalcy takes on added significance. It’s understandable why people on social media mourn the loss of theaters, but imagine if you were never able to see a movie in a theater in the first place.
I’ve mentioned the disabled before as another key benefactor for VOD (or PVOD). Also, small children who are unable — and bless their little hearts (proud grandparent here!) — to stay still through an entire movie and/or disruptive.
At a minimum the public service value and proper business compliance with American Disability Act requirements, it seems to me the theaters (listen up, NATO!), studios and VOD streaming services can properly take care of these folks.
Honestly, I’m not sure why this hasn’t been an exception to the theatrical window already. I’m guessing NATO is arguing that these new releases would be hacked and/or cut into the box office revenue, but that’s bogus. At a time when civil rights are front and center, we need also to remember the rights of the disabled.
Scooby, Scooby Doo, we know where are you this weekend — on VOD (AKA as PVOD) and there is something unique about this formerly planned wide release theater movie going straight to streaming. See pictured above and headline.
It’ll cost you $19.99 to rent it or $24.99 for a purchase. Crikey. For a 94 minute children’s movie with sniffy reviews, I’d personally go for a rental before committing the additional $5, but the choice is yours. I appreciate that rapid release requires Warner Bros. to hike the price in order to recoup costs but still, both these prices seem a bit steep. If you’ve got money to burn though or lockdown’s become that boring, Scoob! might be for you.
Thankfully in 2020 there are still some theater chain owners unafraid of VOD.
“Cinema is not competing against VOD. It’s not competing against home entertainment. It’s competing against restaurants, comedy clubs and out-of-home experiences,” said League, over Zoom, after sharing, “At Arthouse Convergence years ago, Ira [Deutchman] gave a keynote address about the long history of the death of it, from television to cable to VHS to DVD, and everything had been wrong so far. People inherently as a society want to get out of the house and that is more true than ever right now.“
League is sort of correct. The bolding in the quote above is mine. It’s important to understand the movie theater experience is different than the at-home viewing experience. I’ve detailed the differences several times in the past here.
The other thing to understand is how much people are willing to pay for live events vs. pre-recorded events.
Movies are not epic live sports matches.
$100 is too expensive for watching a new movie. Studios might (crazily) try this price point and there might be some equally crazy takers, but the numbers won’t be there.
I don’t see how movies will ever be comparable to live events.
A play is a live event, but I can’t even see paying $100 to watch a play streamed live. In person, sure, if the seats are good, but not on TV. Live is, well, live. Something recorded and edited just has a different value to it. Not the same entertainment experience.
Sports are different. You need to see them live so you can share in the result. Like when Mike Tyson bit Evander Holyfield’s ear in their famous rematch (yes, we paid for this pay per view and saw this live)
Kevin Smith thinks the only way Black Widow goes straight to VOD instead of a theatrical run is if it Disney/Marvel could get $100 for the VOD. Sorry, but no way. $19.99 is a stretch (see: Yes, Some Are Paying $20 to Rent New Movies – But Is This The Right Price Point?), this isn’t a one of a kind live pay per view sporting event (which is about the only type of event that can command that kind of money).
In fact, he predicts it would force movie studios to abandon the theater model altogether. “If we all did that, that would change the world,” he said. “They’d be like, ‘F*ck movie theaters! Sell them these movies for $100 a pop.’” Considering the average movie ticket is $10 to $12, that’s a hefty price jump. Sure, people love the Marvel movies and flock to see them in droves. But do they love them enough to drop a cool hundred just to rent one?
Even if the pandemic renders movie theaters a place not as many will be going — we will be there as soon as they reopen — overpriced VOD/PVOD will not be the future.
I think the $19.99 price point was tested with Trolls World Tour. Any higher and the number of people that sign up will fall. This isn’t a Mike Tyson boxing event, which, ironically, he seems to be tooling up to box again in exhibition matches for charity. Would I pay to see $100 to see Tyson-Holyfield III live? Probably not, but $50 seems like an instant purchase.
No idea if that would ever happen, but if you think I’m just floating out fictional events, check your news feed with a search on Mike Tyson.
As for movies pushing VOD pricing? I think we’ve seen the ceiling. It’s $20, maybe a little higher. That isn’t going to generate a billion in 2020. This means we can expect to see movie theaters open again and showing new blockbuster movies. More and more people will come back to the theaters for a wide variety of reasons (see: One Big Reason Why Movie Theaters Will Be OK Compared To Streaming)
Summer will get hot and, hopefully, we’ll see theaters open again. July 17, 2020 seems like a target date we’ll be able to watch Tenet in theaters. Sure, that could change, but as of this writing anyway, that date — unless there are more pandemic setbacks — seems at least a little possible.
May 15, Warner Bros. will be releasing Scoob! straight to VOD.
An opportunity for those with children to dig into some Scooby cinematic snacks, possibly at the rental price of $19.99 for 48 hours (somebody get Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte to promote!), but maybe priced lower (or, gasp, higher).
Warner Bros. has announced that they will be releasing the animated Scoob on May 15 not in theaters as initially planned but on VOD. Like Trolls: World Tour, the commercially questionable (relatively speaking) animated flick will be offered as a prime “watch it at home while in quarantine” title in what is quickly becoming a non-existent theatrical summer movie season.
A pattern is emerging during the pandemic with theaters closing that, so far, only animated movies are skipping delayed theatrical releases and going straight to VOD. Because of the rewatchable nature for children, are these the only movies studios think will have rental $$$ legs?
It’s getting more challenging understanding when and where new movies we want to see will appear, but rest assured if you’re here reading and subscribed, we’ll continue to help stir through the movie release date soup for you. Stay tuned to the Coming Soon section.