While movie theatres may have been shut down for a short period, production studios found a separate way to make bank off of entertaining the masses. As Hollywood begins to learn more and more about the premium video-on-demand options, the industry is seeing massive gains in revenue. By utilizing streaming platforms to sell their newest flicks, Hollywood could see profits upwards in the billion!

VOD Takes Over

Records from the Digital Entertainment Group’s half-year data show a $15.7 million gain in revenue from Hollywood’s home entertainment sectors. That’s 5 percent higher than the year preceding and a whopping 32 percent higher than the records of three years ago. Though the performance of VOD isn’t included in this amount, its undisclosed numbers are said to add a rather hefty portion to Hollywood’s movie-making pocket.

“Our estimate is there’s a billion dollars of consumer spend not captured in the numbers you’re presenting,” Universal Home Entertainment’s president Michael Bonner told Forbes in response to Hollywood’s half-year numbers.

This was, in fact, one of the very few occurrences in which the veil of the successes that premium video on demand has ushered into the market was lifted. It’s clear that the industry’s freshly ignited love for VOD has helped carry it afloat throughout the pandemic.

“COVID didn’t introduce new trends to entertainment,” Jim Wuthrich, president of Warner Media, tells Variety, “but it did accelerate what was already happening.” Wuthrich knows a thing or two about accelerating trends to an even international scale, as Warner Media was a pioneering studio that brought premium video-on-demand services to China back in 2011.

Marvel’s Black Widow is a prime example of just how well a movie can do within this form of distribution. According to The Wrap, the Scarlet Johannsson starring superhero flick made $60 million within its first week on the Disney+ Premium Access platform. Though, not everyone is happy about the way Black Widow’s being sold.

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Some Actor’s Aren’t Too Pleased

If you keep up with entertainment news, you’d know that Scarlet Johansson made what many would consider being a courageous move by suing Disney. She took umbrage at the way in which Black Widow was released onto the company’s streaming service along with its theatrical debut. While this made big numbers for PVOD, the film suffered a blow the following week of its debut as fewer and fewer audiences made trips to the theaters. This, in turn, negatively affected the actress’ pay. It was agreed upon that Johansson’s salary would be indicated by how well Black Widow did in the box office. Seeing as how the PVOD release of the film stunted its theatrical performance by two-thirds, the star and her team felt that Johansson would get a bum deal. Her lawsuit ended in a settlement, with the logistics of the agreement yet to be disclosed.

Countless actresses, like Emma Stone of Cruella and Emily Blunt of Jungle Cruise, have found them in similar predicaments as Disney continues these hybrid releases.

Post The Pandemic

While premium video on demand has helped Hollywood get through the pandemic, does it have a shelf life once COVID is no longer a problem?

“Whether or not [Premium Access] becomes a big part of our strategy going forward is really going to be up to consumers,” Disney’s president Bob Chapek explains in an interview with Bloomberg, “You know, they vote with their pocketbooks. They are going to tell us how they want to watch movies and we are going to be responsive to the consumer.”

The trajectory of premium video on demand’s value within future Hollywood distribution can only be speculated. No studios have made hard stances on being one hundred percent on whether or not they will continue PVOD business as usual when the world finally goes back to normal. For now, they’re basking in the ever-increasing revenue that the strategy racks in.

“We’ve learned a tremendous amount in terms of consumer behavior and demand across these windows,” says Michael Bonner, “Each studio has its own strategy. The consumer engagement is much greater now than it’s ever been, just earlier on the life cycle.”

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Sources: TV Rev, Forbes, Variety, Phys.org, Bloomberg

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