LOS ANGELES: Will audiences pay to see a new movie on the big screen if they can see the same title at home from their comfort? Before the pandemic, the reaction of theater operators and cinema purists would have been a resounding ‘no’.
‘The Little Things’, a crime thriller starring Denzel Washington and Rami Malek, topped the box office charts, debuting $ 4.7 million from 2,171 venues in North America. At the same time, it was available to HBO Max subscribers at a monthly fee that is less than one movie ticket in some parts of the country. “The Little Things” is one of 17 films by Warner Bros. which appears simultaneously in cinemas and on the HBO Max streaming service.
In normal times, the cash reception would cause disasters. But today is actually one of the stronger opening weekends of the COVID era. HBO Max did not report how many viewers chose to stream ‘The Little Things’. Warner Bros. and its parent company WarnerMedia, however, said the film was “recorded immediately after number 1” on HBO Max. It is unclear what the criterion means.
“We are absolutely delighted with how Warner Bros. ‘The Little Things’ performed on HBO Max – it immediately shot up to number one, where it currently stands,” said HBO Max CEO and general manager Andy Forssell.
“After the breakthrough success of ‘Wonder Woman 1984,’ ‘The Little Things’ shows the insatiable appetite we’ve heard for high-quality feature films.’
John Lee Hancock directed ‘The Little Things’, in which two police officers try to catch a serial killer. Overseas, where HBO Max is not yet available, ‘The Little Things’ starts with $ 2.8 million from 18 countries.
The R-rated action film had the strongest showing in Russia with $ 1.1 million in sales, followed by Saudi Arabia with $ 871,000.
These are still gloomy times for movie theater operators. Any film exhibitors hoping to get ticket sales back to pre-pandemic levels by 2021 have been stimulated by another round of delays with the launch date. Earlier in January, MGM postponed the James Bond sequel “No Time to Die” from April to October.
This prompted rival studios to re-release their films that were planned in early 2021, such as ‘Morbius’, ‘Ghostbusters Afterlife’, ‘Cinderella’ and ‘A Quiet Place Part II’. It is also widely expected that Universal ‘Fast & Furious’ will delay delivery ‘F9’ (on May 28) and that Disney will bump up the Marvel adventure ‘Black Widow’ (May 7), which will clear the movie calendar to at least. June. If that happened then it would be a devastating blow to those on the big screen. By the summer, it will be more than a year since theaters operate at normal levels. Most American places have gone ten months without much – if any – income.