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According to a Screen Engine survey, 23 percent of those viewing WW84 signed up for the streaming service in order to watch the superhero sequel over the Dec. 25-27 weekend. Among that group, 14 percent said they will continue to subscribe, while 9 percent are likely to cancel soon.
Pixar’s Soul was also a big Christmas draw for the fast-growing Disney+, which has amassed more than 87 million customers in its first year of operation. HBO Max, launching in May, finished the third quarter with an eligible customer base of 28.7 million.
WarnerMedia and Disney have not released Christmas weekend streaming numbers for their respective films, which are among numerous 2020 event pics forced to alter course because of the COVID-19 crisis.
According to Screen Engine, WW84 has already been watched more in its first week than any other 2020 SVOD movie, edging out Hamilton (Disney+) and Soul. Screen Engine, one of Hollywood’s leading research firms in terms of moviegoing and consumer habits, began polling home entertainment viewers in earnest after the pandemic struck.
Among existing HBO Max customers, 19 percent told Screen Engine they would likely have canceled their subscriptions had it not been for WW84, and will now likely remain customers for the time being.
Reteaming director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot, WW84 made history when shattering the theatrical window because of the pandemic, debuting day and date on HBO Max and in more than 2,000 North American cinemas.
WarnerMedia subsequently announced that it will do the same with its entire 2021 slate, based on guidance from epidemiologists. The move has prompted a loud outcry from filmmakers, Hollywood agents and theater owners.
Disney avoided the windows debate by launching Pixar’s family film Soul exclusively on Disney+ in the U.S. and other markets where the burgeoning streaming service is available.
Among those watching Soul, Screen Engine found that 13 percent signed up for Disney+ because of the Pixar offering (9 percent said they’ll continue to subscribe, while 4 percent will likely cancel soon). Another 20 percent said they were considering dropping their Disney+ subscription before watching Soul, but now plan to keep the service for the time being.
“Both films did about the same at keeping current subscribers from churning,” says Mark Orne, executive vp of Screen Engine’s Cross Platform Group.
WW84 was also a win at the multiplex, earning an estimated $16.7 million at the domestic box office over the Dec. 25-27 weekend. That’s the top debut of any film since the pandemic struck in March. Theaters in many major markets have never reopened, or have reclosed in recent weeks because of a surge in COVID-19 cases.
While WW84 fared well across a variety of demos on HBO Max, it appealed in particular to males and an older crowd, according to Screen Engine. Viewership was highest among males over 35. Over half of HBO Max viewers resided in suburban areas, above the norm. Not surprisingly, the movie over-indexed in top markets where cinemas are shuttered, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia.
As expected for a family film, Soul over-indexed among parents, particularly mothers. Children were strong influencers in the decision to watch the animated film, according to Screen Engine.
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The Tragedy of Macbeth