The results of Beasts of No Nation’s opening weekend are in: the picture opened on 31 screens and averaged $1,635 per screen for a total box of office of $50,699. A “horrendous results”, right; WRONG!
There have been several reports about this box office result which seem to strongly denigrate the Netflix initiative to that of being a loser in the field. And comparatively, sure, the results stink. But here’s the thing, you can’t compare. This isn’t a comparison you can make and I’m all but certain that Netflix is thinking the same thing.
The streaming service was able to pump Beasts of No Nation into 40 million homes. And, with the tough subject matter of the film, it’s going to be a difficult draw to theatres regardless. But, here’s why I think that Beasts of No Nation is a success for Netflix.
1) CRITICAL SUCCESS
Consider this, the first mega Netflix film has garnered a 90% Rotten Tomato Rating. That’s with over 80 reviews from critics. And the audience rating is 95%. These are fabulous results. Any distributor would be happy to have that kind of critical success.
As Netflix’s first foray into large theatrical titles, they want to make a critical splash so that they can establish themselves as being able to produce awards heavy product. Obviously, we haven’t got to awards season but that’s #2 on the list.
2) AWARDS BAIT
When Netflix first came out with House of Cards they had some of the best creative minds in the business and went out to make a splash with a product that would be respected industry wide. No one will tell you that they didn’t accomplish that. And with Beasts of No Nation, I gather it’s going to be hard to argue this point as well.
While the awards season is upon us, you can bet that a large part of the strategy was to do what was necessary to qualify for an awards picture regardless of the box office. If Beasts of No Nation pulls off any of the big awards season hardware, then it will only further add fuel to the fire that this film was a success.
3) SUBSCRIBERS = MORE
Awards success, if it comes to that, will lead to great subscriber retention and likely more subscribers. Keep in mind that the street is largely concerned with subscriber data because it’s one of the only hard metrics that Netflix discloses to the public. Audience viewership data is behind a firewall that the industry would just love to get their hands on. But because they can’t, the street relies on “new subscribers” as a marker for success when it comes to quarterly results.
Having the film play in theatres increases visibility for the Netflix brand of theatrical product. Consumers who want to see the film, especially amidst all the press that is being written about – awards notwithstanding – will likely subscribe. If not for this theatrical title, then for the next, and the one after that.
4) DOES NETLIX EVEN CARE ABOUT BOX OFFICE!
While it goes without saying that greater box office would have been nice, I’m circumspect as to what Netflix’s internal numbers were going into their opening weekend – that is, do you think they even thought they would do well. Guessing; I am, that Netflix probably had internal numbers that were very very modest. And by that, I mean extremely low.
The subject matter being what it is, the fact that the film was only put out on limited number of art house screen and, of course, that 40 million people already had access to the film in their homes, you can’t help but wonder if they even care about what the number is. Just that it got out there is likely enough.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Netflix’s estimates weren’t exactly what was achieved over the weekend because you can’t compare this release to anything that’s been done in the past.
So, there you have it — why I think Beasts of No Nation is a success for Netflix. Time will tell…
Here’s the trailer for the film: