By Eunice Shin, Managing Director, Manatt Digital | Farnaz Zanjani, Manatt Digital
If that title doesn’t make you want to sing the rest of the Annie soundtrack, we really can’t be friends. In any case, the holiday season is always an exciting time for the movie business, yet it’s also filled with high anxiety over the new holiday releases at the box office, which many will help to make or break a studio’s theatrical year. It’s set to be a great holiday season this year with highly anticipated openings across these next two months. However, the theatrical performance stakes seem to be higher than ever before, certainly when a $94M opening weekend is considered “disappointing” for a pre-Thanksgiving release. When a tent pole film’s global box office is expected to well-exceed $500M but is still concerning, it just goes to show how complicated the success formula for studios has become. Shrinking windows, premium SVOD for features, and flat growth in attendance are all added pressure points in today’s theatrical market. Though it’s a tough market, the recent box office success of Wonder and Thor: Ragnarok, and the anticipated openings of Coco and Star Wars: The Last Jedi, are proof positive that the right movies can still drive a massive number of audiences to the theaters, buying popcorn and selling out screens.
This month’s newsletter is all about the movie business. We cover the evolving market of international theatrical distribution, the disruption and opportunities for exhibitors, and the latest in interactive cinema. And if you have the time, after you’ve read through our newsletter of course, Vanity Fair published a recent piece on “Netflix, the Oscars, and the Battle for the Future of Film”—an interesting read no matter which side of Hollywood you may practice yoga on. The booming market for original episodic content on streaming services is yesterday’s news, and film is apparently ready to take on a bigger role in the originals streaming game. Netflix announced plans to release 40 original films on the service by the end of this year, and is doubling down with 80 films planned for 2018. Breaking that down, it is on average a new release every four and a half days in 2018. With a content budget of $7–8B and an increasing focus on original content, Netflix is going to output more films than any other major studio in one year. In a town of “majors” and “minis,” “giant” is perhaps a new category carved out by Netflix. Not to be ignored, Amazon, YouTube, Disney, Apple, and Fandor are also making moves to offer original features with sizable feature budgets on their current or soon-to-be launching streaming services.