The Academy Awards telecast may not have delivered big ratings, but they did provide a nominal boost to the big winners. Fandango and Vudu are reporting a solid spike in Monday-to-Monday revenue. In terms of combined revenue from both VOD platforms, Best Picture winner Nomadland jumped 129% compared to the previous Monday, while Best International Film winner Another Round (which is about to get remade with Leonardo DiCaprio in the Mads Mikkelsen role) jumped 600%.
That makes sense, since I’d imagine plenty of general moviegoers hadn’t heard of Another Round before last night. For folks who don’t mind subtitles, the wistful dramady about four men attempting to get their mojo back via regular recreational drinking is a perfectly enjoyable “mainstream” character play. Fair or not, I imagine the English-language DiCaprio remake will be at least as successful as Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston’s The Upside (a remake of The Intouchables which earned $127 million on a $37 million budget) in early 2019.
The jumps from Vudu and Fandango combined include Thomas Vinterberg’s Another Round (+600%), Anthony Hopkins’ The Father (+63%), Emerald Fennell’s Promising Young Woman (+63%), Youn Yuh-jung’s Minari (+37%) and Daniel Kuluuya’s Judas and the Black Messiah (+8%). Those five movies, along with Pixar’s Soul (+33%) and Searchlight’s Nomadland (which won Best Picture, Best Director for Chloé Zhao and Best Actress for Francis McDormand), represent the big winners in the relative “big deal” categories from last weekend’s ceremony.
So even amid an Oscar season mostly lacking in big Hollywood movies, Walt Disney still comes out somewhat ahead. Once again, to repeat a note I made yesterday, despite a season dominated by streaming nominees, the big winners were old-school theatrical/studio offerings. And to the extent it matters/counts in this entirely unique season, the two most mainstream of the studio contenders, Judas and the Black Messiah and Promising Young Woman, were the closest things to theatrical successes.
The Carey Mulligan rape-revenge black comedy earned $13.5 million worldwide plus solid PVOD business on an under-$10 million budget. Shaka King’s Judas and the Black Messiah earned $5.4 million domestic and $6.1 million worldwide. Like Focus Features’ Promising Young Woman, Samuel Goldwyn Films’ Another Round, A24’s Minari and even Sony Pictures Classics’ The Father (which has its bleak moments but is structured like a puzzle-box mystery thriller), Warner Bros.’ Judas and the Black Messiah would have been “just a damn good Saturday night at the movies” in a less franchise-centric time.
Judas is no theatrical hit on a $27 million budget, but that figure was entirely responsible back when it was presumed it’d be benefiting from a conventional awards season. However, Warner Bros. is now able to tout that one of their “in theaters and on HBO Max concurrently” titles was both very well-reviewed and an Oscar winner, two designations that don’t apply to Wonder Woman 1984, The Little Things, Mortal Kombat and (possible future tech wins aside) Godzilla Vs. Kong.
Of course, I’d imagine quite a few people who watched Nomadland did so not during its limited IMAX engagement or brief theatrical run but during its time on Hulu. Had The United States Vs. Billy Holiday and The Trial of the Chicago 7 remained Paramount theatricals as intended (as opposed to being sold to Hulu and Netflix), well, that’s one reason (along with a conventional slate of studio-backed awards season flicks) why what happened this year probably won’t happen next year.
Unless the studios are going to keep selling their awards-friendly flicks to streamers, then the streamers will have to build their Oscar war-chest with original films and festival acquisitions, same as everybody else. Even in a year where everyone mostly watched straight-to-VOD flicks and streaming material, a Disney-released “should be seen in IMAX” drama took the top prize. Will the next season be filled with more conventionally big theatrical releases?
That depends partially on quality, although an implicit “big movies that play better in theaters still matter” statement wouldn’t shock me. That obviously didn’t do much for Tenet, News of the World or even Netflix’s The Midnight Sky, and I’m not going to argue that F9 or Godzilla Vs. Kong are going to snag Best Picture nominations. But I do think under these circumstances, there’s a reason both In the Heights and West Side Story got trailers during Sunday night’s big show.