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Paramount CFO: 45 Days is ‘Default’ for Movies Hitting Streaming; ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Will Be Exception

Matt Tamanini

The relationship between movie theaters and studios has changed dramatically over the past two years. Obviously, COVID-19 shut down the former’s entire operations for a significant period of time in 2020 and into 2021, but as the entertainment industry emerges from the pandemic, despite ongoing consumer concerns, priorities have changed for all involved.

Since March 2020, many movie studios have either launched or significantly increased their investment in streaming services, making it even more important to maximize their most high-value content. While HBO Max released their entire 2021 slate day-and-date in theaters and on streaming, and Disney+ experimented with Premier Access, Paramount+ has become one of the leaders in shortening the window between films’ cinema and streaming debuts.

On Thursday at MoffetNathanson’s 9th annual Media and Communications Summit, Paramount’s executive VP and CFO Naveen Chopra discussed the calculus of dramatically shortening movie windowing and how each film presents its own unique situation.

“I think what we’ve learned is that we really like this 45-day fast-follow as sort of the default,” he said. “The reason we like it is that it allows us to capture the vast majority of the box office revenue … And it allows us to then move that content on to a streaming platform when it’s still fresh and new and can benefit from all of the marketing investment that was invested in the theatrical release.”

So far in 2022, Paramount has released what Chopra called “modest-sized movies” on Paramount+ a month and a half after their premiere in theaters and they have done very well in terms of driving subscriptions and engagement on the streaming service.

“Take a movie like ‘The Lost City,’ which was released earlier this spring, did better than most expectations in the box office,” he said. “We then used our fast-follow strategy to bring it to Paramount+ 45 days later … It’s doing very well there as a driver of both starts and engagement.”

Paramount has also done the same for “Scream” and “Jackass Forever,” but that doesn’t mean that the company will stick to this plan religiously. Instead, the studio will take each movie on a case-by-case basis. For example, Paramount will finally be bringing “Top Gun: Maverick” to theaters over Memorial Day weekend, and the long-awaited sequel is expected to do major business at the box office.

Related: When Will 'Top Gun: Maverick' Stream on Paramount+? Not Any Time Soon if Tom Cruise Has His Way

The film’s star and producer Tom Cruise is reportedly not a fan of the quick turnaround for films going from theaters to streaming, and it sounds like in this case, Paramount agrees.

“We do still look at it on a case-by-case [basis]. There are certain movies that are really made for the theatrical experience,” Chopra said. “‘Top Gun [Maverick]’ is a great example of that. You should see that movie in a theater, and it will stay in the theater for a longer period of time.”

While the CFO didn’t provide any further details as to when the new “Top Gun” will land on Paramount+, here at The Streamable, we are predicting somewhere far closer to Labor Day than the Fourth of July. No matter when Maverick, Iceman, and Goose’s son hit Paramount+, the company seems to be committed to bringing the vast majority of its films to streaming when interest is still high.

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