All Amazon really needs is for “Air” to get back the money they spent marketing the movie. While no specific figure has been quoted, it seems likely that a finish near $90 million worldwide would put that marketing money back to Amazon Studios. At that point, the theatrical release becomes a huge awareness campaign for the launch of Prime Video. That’s the point, and that’s why Amazon plans to invest $1 billion annually for theatrical releases starting this year.
The traditional Hollywood studio math that determines whether a movie is a hit or a bomb doesn’t apply here. If you’re Sony Pictures, say, and you release a $90 million movie, you need it to make a lot more money and make a profit. Typically, theaters pocket about half of the profits, which means that $90 million at the box office would only return about $45 million to the studio. Unfavorable math, to be sure. However, Amazon is all about Prime Video and gaining subscribers for viewers to spend money on Amazon using their Prime membership. The same math does not apply.
What we’ve seen in recent years is that movies released in theaters, even if they don’t make a profit, are in high demand once they hit streaming. That’s why Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav pretty much gave up on movie streaming. Speaking at CinemaCon this year, the executive had this to say:
“We don’t believe in streaming movies. Movies [in theaters] They do substantially better when we bring them to HBO Max than any of the direct-streaming movies. We said it nine months ago and we said it six months ago. We’ve never felt stronger about it.”