Once is simply an occurrence. Twice, perhaps, a coincidence. When something happens three times in quick order, that’s a trend.
That’s what we have with Universal Pictures Home Entertainment in the post-Covid, return-to-normal theatrical distribution world. Unless it is a blockbuster, new theatrical releases are being transitioned in 46 days to the home entertainment packaged media marketplace. This, in order to set up a day/date with the Peacock streaming platform.
This process began in January with the theatrical launch of 355 on Jan. 7. $14.6 million in ticket sales and 46 days later it heads home. The same with Redeeming Love, Marry Me, The Northman (which we thought odd since it pulled in $34.1 million), Firestarter (announced last week) and now, this week, director Simon Curtis’ Downton Abbey: A New Era.
A three-SKU product launch has been targeted for July 5, which yields an ARR of just 46 days for a film that has generated $40.4 million in domestic box office receipts.
The moment Downton Abbey: A New Era begins streaming, a pristine master is delivered to pirates to openly compete with the studio’s own DVD, Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD product offerings. Why not give home entertainment a 46-day window as well?
In the world of retail, there has traditionally been the mantra of “Promo, Better, Best” distribution. Best, for the movie-business, is theatrical where each person paying to see the film is accounted for.
Better, would be packaged media, where each sale is recorded — sure, there could be multiple viewings, but the studio has collected the revenue from each SKU moved into the marketplace.
Finally, Promo, the streaming of the film, which puts it out there for multiple viewings, code sharing and piracy.
In the publishing world, hard cover, paperback … download. You simply don’t do it the other-way-around to maximize profits.
It is a fair question. Will the Peacock streaming service, or for that matter, any studio-based streaming service, lose subscribers if new theatrical releases are delayed 92 days?
With that said, Downton Abbey: A New Era arrives on July 5 as Combo Pack editions for the 4K Ultra HD (with Blu-ray) and Blu-ray (with DVD) formats, plus a stand-alone DVD purchasing option.
Bonus treats include commentary from director Simon Curtis (The Art of Racing in the Rain, Goodbye Christopher Robin, Woman in Gold, My Week with Marilyn) and a half-dozen featurettes — “Good to be Back,” “Return to Downton Abbey: The Making of a New Era,” “Creating the Film within the Film,” “Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia,” “A Legendary Character” and “Spill the Tea (Time).”