You don’t need to look far in Hollywood to find creatives with strong opinions about movies being released directly onto streaming services. Even as those strong opinions go, however, Freaky director Christopher Landon dropped an all-time heater on Twitter about sending movies to theaters and streaming at the same time. He used Halloween Ends’ release as a jumping off point but also touched extensively on the Vince Vaughn-starring Freaky, which got a similar treatment.
In short, Universal once again decided to put Halloween Ends into theaters and on its streaming service, Peacock, on the same day. The day and date strategy brought up a lot of bad memories for Christopher Landon, as Freaky was released into theaters during the pandemic but also made available on Video OnDemand a few weeks after its release. Here’s what he had to say on social media…
There’s a lot to unpack here. Let’s start with Halloween Ends. Back in 2021, Halloween Kills, the second movie in the more recent Halloween trilogy, abruptly changed course and released the film on the same day in both theaters and on Peacock. The decision was largely seen as related to Covid, as many were still very uncomfortable doing in-person activities. It grossed $50M domestically its opening weekend, which was far less than the $75M plus the prior installment put up but was still a really strong number for the pandemic.
Numbers haven’t officially been released yet this weekend, but we do know it had a pretty strong opening night. Early estimates are saying Halloween Ends will put up approximately $43M at the box office this weekend. That’s a good weekend for most movies, but it represents yet another dip for this franchise. Many are, of course, pointing to the movie being on Peacock as part of the reason why the total gross fell again.
As for Freaky, that movie’s situation is a bit of an outlier. The film was released very early in the pandemic (November of 2020). It won its first two weekends at the box office and got a simultaneous OnDemand release in its fourth weekend. Looking back, I’m not really sure what the studio was supposed to do there, apart from delaying the movie entirely. Movie theaters desperately needed content to help keep the doors open, and the $16M it pulled in worldwide was a huge help. But as Landon alluded to in his tweet when he said the Halloween folks were “made whole,” there are a lot of incentives and various clauses in people’s contracts based on box office performance, and the industry hasn’t even come close to figuring out how streaming should play into any of that.
I don’t know what the right answer to any of this is because there are so many competing priorities. Is the goal to build up a streaming service or to just make the most total dollars possible? There is so much uncertainty in the industry right now, which is why we end up with movies like Hocus Pocus 2 going straight to streaming and breaking records, movies like Netflix's Knives Out 2 getting an unexpected theatrical release and creators like Christopher Landon frustrated by the entire process.
Enthusiastic about Clue, case-of-the-week mysteries, the NBA and cookies at Disney World. Less enthusiastic about the pricing structure of cable, loud noises and Tuesdays.
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