As theaters are reopening in major markets such as Los Angeles and New York, Hollywood studios have been ready, shifting their online trailers and promotions from streaming-only projects to films that also (or only) will get in-person screenings.
It’s a big shift, and a welcome one for the film community of creators, exhibitors and fans after 13 months of bottom-line-bruising lockdowns.
It looks, finally, like things are beginning to shift, judging from the latest list of the biggest new movie trailers on YouTube, as measured by Tubular Labs. The list shows the studios are beginning to push hard on action and horror movies that can draw a crowd to an in-person experience.
The shift comes at a time when blockbusters have largely avoided theaters, with the exception of Warner Bros.’ 2021 slate, which is debuting in theaters and on streaming service HBO Max simultaneously. WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar has already said the company will end the day-and-date experiment after this year, and shift back to shortened exclusive windows for big movies in theaters.
Godzilla vs. Kong Hybrid Success
So far, the WarnerMedia experiment has appeared successful in a difficult time. The March 31 debut of Godzilla vs. Kong proved the most successful expression yet of that hugely controversial move, generating $80 million in domestic gross in its first three weeks, and $390 million worldwide.
That’s easily a pandemic-era record for a Hollywood film, though one that in earlier times would have been considered a, ahem, gross underperformance for a film with two of the biggest stars in film history.
And in fact, the spectacle of the two mega-beasts duking it out is one best seen on the biggest, most immersive screen available. But third-party reports (WarnerMedia hasn’t disclosed streaming figures) suggest the film was also heavily watched online, though the real measure of success will be in new signups and reduced churn for HBO Max.
Other studios have largely held off putting their blockbusters in theaters, shifting launch dates repeatedly, but it’s clear from the latest trailers that the mix is shifting. The trailers hitting social video now are promoting films that largely can be seen in person too, or will be available only in theaters, according to the Tubular data.
The one exception in the top five biggest movie trailer on YouTube (since March 15), Without Remorse. It features a batch of big names including Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther, Creed) in a Tom Clancy adaptation from Paramount and Skydance that will be released April 30 on Amazon Prime Video.
Amazon acquired the film from Paramount and Skydance last year, then signed a long-term output deal with Jordan’s Outlier Society for films, episodic series and other content.
Amazon is already the home of another Clancy adaptation, featuring another destructive dude named John. In that case, the episodic series Jack Ryan, starring John Krasinski, has proved one of the streaming giant’s biggest hits, though the pandemic has complicated filming of the series’ third season. .
Without Remorse is envisioned as the first in an ongoing series of films centering on Tom Clancy’s John Clark character, a special forces operative whose wife was killed under mysterious circumstances. Amazon clearly is hoping John Clark can become John Wick with high-tech gear and an even bigger chip on his shoulder.
Action and Horror Head To Theaters
Two other projects in the top five this past week are headed for exclusive runs in theaters. Both are from smaller studios, MGM and Lionsgate, including director Guy Ritchie’s latest explosive team-up with Jason Statham (Wrath of Man), and yet another installment in the long-running Saw horror franchise (Spiral – From the Book of Saw).
The top five also includes trailers for two big additions to major superhero franchises.
Disney’s repeatedly delayed next installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Black Widow, starring Scarlett Johansson, now has what looks like a solid debut date in July. Not incidentally, its latest trailer was among the most eagerly viewed YouTube videos since March 15.
Black Widow will be getting a hybrid release, Disney announced in pushing the debut back again a couple of weeks back. When it finally arrives, the film likely will be one of the biggest theatrical debuts since the pandemic hit. It also will be available through Disney’s still-nascent premium VOD streaming window for Disney+ subscribers willing to pay an additional fee for early home access.
Meanwhile, WarnerMedia’s latest installment in the DC narrative universe, the sequel to The Suicide Squad, is also getting a hybrid release similar to that of Godzilla vs. Kong.
The Top Five Trailers
Per Tubular, the top U.S. and U.K. movie trailers on YouTube since March 15 are:
- Amazon Prime Video: Without Remorse – Final Trailer (21.4 million views)
- MGM: Wrath of Man | Official Trailer (11.9 million)
- Marvel Entertainment: Marvel Studios’ Black Widow | New Trailer (11.4 million)
- Movie Coverage: THE SUICIDE SQUAD Trailer (2021) Suicide Squad 2 Movie (8.4 million)
- Lionsgate Films: Spiral – From the Book of Saw (2021 Movie) Official Trailer (7.7 million)