As theater audiences, box office sales dwindle, streaming services expand

Global Business

As theater audiences, box office sales dwindle, streaming services expand

King Arthur, Legend of the Sword cost $175 million to make, but it grossed less than $40 million in the U.S.

No love for the $177 million sci-fi movie Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets either. It, too, grossed just under $40 million.

And even franchise favorite, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales fell well short of previous installments.

CGTN’s May Lee reports.

According to media tracking reports, this will be the worst summer box office season in more than a decade.

So what’s happening? Online video streaming, that’s what. As theater audiences dwindle, streaming viewership is expanding. Netflix has more than a 100 million subscribers worldwide.

That shift is having an impact on how filmmakers are creating and distributing content. Kevin Foxe, Executive Producer of indie-horror film “The Blair Witch Project, which cost just $60,000 to make, but grossed nearly $250 million worldwide, says streaming platforms are becoming the outlet of choice.

“I used to go to Sundance and I would bring a film and I would look for the usual suspects, right. The big studios had either the smaller distribution platform or the studio itself,” says Foxe. “In the past two years or let’s say even a year, the big buyers at any festival are all streaming services.”

But there’s a big difference in selling to streaming services versus a traditional studio. There are no back end deals, which means no chance for additional profits after the release and there’s no data.

“When Netflix makes a deal, they pay top dollar up front, which is good because there’s no numbers. They don’t report any numbers, so the filmmaker doesn’t have any intelligence around how their film performed, where it performed, what numbers it got, but they’re paid and they’re paid at a level that the other distributors cannot compete with,” Dana Harris, Editor in Chief of IndieWire said.

There’s another advantage to streaming services that you can’t get at a theater and that’s shelf life. A movie is shown at a theater for a couple of weeks at best. But with streaming, you have a lot more time to watch and you can do it from the comforts of your own home.