Following the recent decision by Warner Bros. Pictures to release Wonder Woman 1984 on HBO Max simultaneously with a theatrical release on Christmas Day, the floodgates are open for more studio blockbusters to take the streaming route. At least that might be the case for some of the big movies that Warner Bros. has waiting in the wings. Word on the streets of Hollywood is that Godzilla vs Kong may be the next major movie to land a streaming deal with HBO Max being the likely recipient.
The Hollywood Reporter has news on Warner Bros. Pictures negotiating some kind of Godzilla vs Kong streaming release. Netflix reportedly made an offer over $200 million for the film, but WarnerMedia is instead looking to grab the movie in order to send it to HBO Max. Yes, Warner Bros. Pictures falls under the WarnerMedia banner, but they have their own finances, so the film still needs to be paid for, even if it’s intended for another entertainment arm within WarnerMedia, in this case HBO Max.
Netflix’s offer was huge, but it only would have paid for 75% of the film’s budget. The reason it doesn’t cover the entire budget is likely because Warner Bros. Pictures would still release the movie theatrically in China, where Netflix isn’t available and Godzilla is a bigger draw than in the United States. But even so, WarnerMedia is probably more keen on keeping a Godzilla vs Kong streaming deal in-house as another way to build the HBO Max subscriber base, which was a big driving force behind the decision to release Wonder Woman 1984 on the newer streaming service.
For what it’s worth, a Warner Bros. spokesperson says, “We plan to release Godzilla vs. Kong theatrically next year as scheduled.” While that might be true, that doesn’t preclude a streaming release. Currently, the sequel is slated for a theatrical release on May 21, 2021. It’s not likely that WB would release the movie on streaming so late in the year when a vaccine is expected to be available in the United States, so maybe the studio is planning to bump up the movie to an earlier theatrical release in 2021 while giving it a streaming release at the same time. Perhaps it will have a similar deal as Wonder Woman 1984 by only being available on HBO Max for 30 days while the movie continues to play in theaters.
This could be a smart decision for both Warner Bros. and WarnerMedia. The studio would recoup the budget of their movie without having to worry about big box office turnout, and WarnerMedia would have another big movie to draw subscribers to HBO Max. Though Godzilla earned nearly $525 million worldwide in 2014 and Kong: Skull Island followed with over $566 million worldwide, Godzilla: King of the Monsters only made $386 million globally. Combine that steep drop in the box office with the crowded 2021 release calendar of delayed 2020 movies, and Godzilla vs Kong may not stand a good chance of delivering good enough box office returns to turn a profit.
Since a deal is still being discussed, we likely won’t get official word on this for awhile. But we wouldn’t be surprised if at least a few more major studio releases scheduled for the next few months opt for a simultaneous streaming and theatrical release as we wait for a vaccine to make it safer to head back to movie theaters again.
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