You don’t have to go far in Hollywood to find creatives with strong opinions about movies that are released directly on streaming services. However, despite these strong opinions, Freaky director Christopher Landon tweeted an unsurpassed heater about simultaneously sending movies to theaters and streaming. He used the release of “Halloween Ends” as a starting point, but also touched extensively on “Freaky” starring Vince Vaughn, which received a similar interpretation.
In short, Universal has once again decided to show “Halloween Ends” in theaters and on its Peacock streaming service on the same day. The day and date strategy evoked a lot of bad memories for Christopher Landon, as Freaky was shown in theaters during the pandemic, but also became available on Video OnDemand a few weeks after its release. Here’s what he wrote on social media…
Ooooooh I feel another rant coming on: Today is a strategy release Day & Date for the Halloween Ends. Stop doing that. You are welcome. It doesn’t work. Studios: Stop playing with filmmakers and their films to try to support their new streaming services. It happened to me on Freaky and destroyed us. We worked SO HARD to make a funny movie. Blood, sweat and tears. Months away from our families. And for what? They like to use the term “two pieces of apple”, but this is just another way of saying “we’re going to use your movie as a guinea pig” for our streaming service. Apologize. I begged the studio not to do it. Either go around the vans and protect them for theatricality, or just go all-in on streaming. Do not separate the hair. At least the Halloween people have recovered. We were hosed down. So yes… a bitter topic. PTSD. Dear studios, stop trying to suck two dicks at the same time. Honor the sanctity of the theatrical experience. End of the rant.
There is something to unpack here. Let’s start with the end of Halloween. Back in 2021, “Halloween Kills,” the second film from the recent “Halloween” trilogy, abruptly changed course and released the film on the same day both in theaters and on “Peacock.” This decision was largely seen as related to Covid, as many were still very uncomfortable with personal matters. It raised $50 million domestically in its first weekend, which was much less than the $75 million plus the previous installment, but still a really strong indicator for a pandemic.
The numbers haven’t been officially released yet this weekend, but we know the premiere was pretty strong. According to preliminary estimates, “Halloween Ends” will gross about $43 million this weekend. It’s a good weekend for most movies, but for this franchise, it’s another flop. Many, of course, point to the fact that the film was on Peacock as one of the reasons why the total gross income fell again.
As for Freaky, the situation with this movie is a bit different. The film was released at the very beginning of the pandemic (November 2020). It won the first two weekends at the box office, and OnDemand was simultaneously released on the fourth weekend. Looking back, I don’t quite understand what the studio should have been doing there, other than completely delaying the movie. Movie theaters desperately needed content to keep their doors open, and the $16 million it raised worldwide was a huge help. But as Landon mentioned in his tweet when he said that people on Halloween have “recovered,” there are a lot of incentives and various points in people’s contracts based on box office receipts, and the industry hasn’t even come close to figuring it out. how streaming should play a role in all of this.
I do not know what is the correct answer to any of these questions because there are so many competing priorities. Is the goal to create a streaming service or just to get as many dollars as possible? There’s so much uncertainty in the industry right now, so we end up with movies like “Hocus Pocus 2” going straight to streaming and breaking records, movies like “Get Knives 2” from Netflix getting an unexpected theatrical release and creators.