Amazon Studios Won't Report Box Office Grosses for Some of Its Films

The Report - Telluride Film Festival - Publicity - H 2019
Telluride Film Festival

The new policy — which mirrors Netflix’s strategy — will apply to such awards contenders as 'The Report' and 'The Aeronauts.'

Don't bother asking Alexa if it knows what the box office numbers are for The Report, Amazon Studios' post-9/11 CIA drama starring Adam Driver, Annette Bening and John Hamm. Taking a cue from Netflix, Amazon won't report grosses when the pic opens Friday in select theaters across the country.

Until now, Amazon Studios' movie division has honored the theatrical window, but under the leadership of Jennifer Salke, it has decided to truncate the release of some titles in order to make them available to Amazon Prime customers almost immediately.

Amazon has suffered a string of film misses, including Late Night, which grossed $22 million domestically after being picked up for a hefty $13 million at the Sundance Film Festival in January. And that doesn't include a hefty marketing spend.

The Report, which is set to debut on Prime on Nov. 29, is the first of those movies, followed in early December by The Aeronauts.

But other Amazon awards contenders, including Shia LaBeouf's Honey Boy, which launched over the Nov. 8-10 weekend to glowing numbers, are getting a traditional release and reporting grosses.

"Maybe Amazon is being emboldened by Netflix to decide when, where and how they report theatrical box office grosses," says Comscore analyst Paul Dergarabedian.

While Netflix and the major theater chains remain at odds, exhibitors so far aren't criticizing Amazon. But they won't play The Report or other films that won't adhere to the 72- to 90-day window. So, like Netflix, Amazon will have to pay a handsome fee to indie theater chains to rent space, known as "four-walling."

Amazon insiders say the new policy ensures that a film is made widely available to both moviegoers and Prime customers. The Report, for example, is slotted to open in theaters in the top 25 markets.

As Salke noted of the pic's release plan during The Hollywood Reporter's Oct. 30 Executive Roundtable, "It's a case-by-case situation."

Netflix movie chief Scott Stuber also participated in the roundtable, during which several studio heads expressed frustration over hinging a movie's success — or failure — on box office grosses.

So far in the U.K., The Aeronauts, starring Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne, is turning in dismal numbers at the box office — less than $1.3 million since its Nov. 4 launch — affirming Amazon's decision for its U.S. release plan. The period adventure pic is set to bow in select theaters on Dec. 6, two weeks before premiering on Prime.