The COVID-19 pandemic has been a time of uncertainty for everyone, and the entertainment industry is no different. With theaters closed, studios have been forced to adapt new distribution models – to varying degrees of success.
And one of the studios managing to come out on top? Surprisingly, Paramount. According to The Wrap, Paramount’s 2019 US box office revenue stood at just under $564 million. That’s the second-lowest intake for the studio since 1995, and the second time in three years domestic revenue fell under $600 million.
In comparison, analysts now estimate Paramount’s brought in around $628 million in 2020 to date. How is Paramount turning things around in the middle of the pandemic? Let’s take a look.
Confusion! At The Theater
The major studios’ approaches to entertainment have varied wildly since the onset of the pandemic. When COVID started to hit hard back in March, studios cancelled red carpet events and delayed theatrical premieres. It was the obvious – and necessary – decision.
But as summer blockbuster season quickly approached, we started seeing different tactics come into play. Some movie theaters reopened. Others remained closed. Warner Bros. took the first real leap, opting to release Christopher Nolan’s Tenet in theaters around Labor Day. It didn’t go great.
Warner Bros. then opted to fall back on the delay tactic. Wonder Woman 1984 moved to October, and then to December (and will likely be pushed again).
Meanwhile, Disney similarly delayed the release of its superhero block, pushing back the entire Marvel slate. The studio also experimented with sending new movies directly to its streaming platform, Disney+. Even that approach had a split model: while The One and Only Ivan and Artemis Fowl went out to general subscribers, Mulan viewers had to drop an extra $30.
But Paramount? They’ve been selling.
Paramount Cashes In
First, we should note that Paramount did rake in some money from Q1 theatrical releases – about $178 million, in fact, mostly from Sonic The Hedgehog. But analysts estimate the studio has earned another $450 million from selling titles to streamers.
Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7? Paramount sold it to Netflix for a reported $56 million.
The Issa Rae/Kumail Nanjiani rom-com The Lovebirds? Paramount sold that to Netflix too, for somewhere in the high $20 million/low $30 million range.
Amazon’s lining up a $120+ million deal for Coming to America 2. They’re also buying a Jack Ryan spinoff, Without Remorse, starring Michael B. Jordan.
And Paramount isn’t just selling off movies. They’re also leveraging streaming platforms to cut production costs. Apple is chipping in an estimated $225 million for the production budget of Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon. In exchange, Paramount will grant Apple exclusive streaming rights.
But Paramount isn’t letting everything go. The studio has held back on potential theatrical blockbusters A Quiet Place 2 and Top Gun: Maverick.
Even though many taut the death of movie theaters, box office revenue is still king for studios. (If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t have to hear about new movies having their releases delayed every five minutes.)
Still, the entertainment industry will have to adapt to survive, just like everything else. Paramount’s increased streaming sales presents just one possible avenue for studios to stay afloat – for now.
Source: The Wrap