COVID-19 has changed how Hollywood does business. Blockbusters that once enjoyed huge marketing budgets and theatrical releases have switched gears.
Either they find global markets where it’s safer to have a limited theatrical run or they move to streamers as hyped content or PVODs (“Trolls World Tour,” “Scoob!”).
The latest example is Netflix, which is finalizing the acquisition of “The Woman in the Window,” starring Amy Adams. Originally slated for May, Disney now is selling to a major streamer.
Similarly, Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods” was set to premiere at Cannes this year, before a May-June theatrical release. Instead, Netflix debuted it June 12. In its Q2 earnings, Netflix reported the film at been viewed 27 million times since release.
Upcoming Netflix pickups include “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” a legal drama written and directed by Aaron Sorkin (“The West Wing”). Originally slated for theaters September 25, Netflix expects to drop it before the election November 3.
The work revolves around the activist group Chicago 7, accused of inciting riots during the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, when anti-Vietnam War protestors took to the streets.
The cast includes Sacha Baron Cohen, Eddie Redmayne, Jeremy Strong, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Frank Langella, William Hurt, Michael Keaton and Mark Rylance.
“WarnerMedia’s streaming service, HBO Max, bought two movies from Sony. Amazon took on films from Universal Pictures and STX Entertainment,” notes Quartz. STX’s “My Spy” went to Amazon, while Paramount/MRC’s “The Lovebirds” headed to Netflix.
That trend has been repeated at Apple+, which picked up Tom Hanks’ “Greyhound” for $70 million and aired it July 10. The WWII drama was initially slated for a theatrical release June 12, until Sony Pictures opted for the streaming route.
A future trend was cemented when Universal and Focus Features announced they would keep their films in an AMC theater for at least 17-days before a PVOD run.