It's no secret that the box office has suffered in 2020 as movie theaters have been closed around the world for much of it. And even the ones that are open aren't doing much business outside of China and Japan. But Paramount Pictures has managed to make lemonade from lemons as they have made millions from selling some huge planned theatrical releases to streaming services, such as Eddie Murphy's Coming 2 America.
According to a new report, Paramount has earned, in total, around $450 million in 2020 from its first-quarter releases and selling some titles to streaming services. At the beginning of the year, the studio was off to a promising start as Sonic the Hedgehog was a box office hit, taking in $146 million domestically. But then theaters were forced to shut down in March. The industry has been in an adapt or die situation ever since. Paramount has managed to successfully adapt. At least in the short term.
The studio has unloaded several high-profile releases for large sums of money. Most recently, Coming 2 America was sold to Amazon. The much-anticipated sequel's price tag was said to be $125 million. Paramount also sold two movies to Netflix. The Trial of the Chicago 7, a likely Oscar contender, for $56 million, and the Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae comedy The Lovebirds in the $20 to $30 million range. Plus, they sold the rights to SpongeBob: Sponge on the Run and an untitled Ryan Reynolds movie that hasn't even been filmed yet. Amazon is also looking to cut a deal for Michael B. Jordan's Without Remorse.
It's tough to say what these movies would have done at movie theaters under normal circumstances. But there is no chance Paramount would have made it anywhere near $450 million. To do so, they would have had to hold onto all of these movies, possibly for a long time, to have any chance at achieving such financial success. It is an odd success story in a year that is short on wins for the movie business. Box office analyst Bruce Nash had this to say about it.
"So far, I think Paramount has done a good job making the best of a difficult situation. They're still holding on to the big films like Top Gun: Maverick and 'Quiet Place II' that they need to get a strong box office performance from but finding some form of replacement for the months of lost revenue that they really needed after the poor results last year."
Indeed, Top Gun: Maverick and A Quiet Place Part II are sequels that Paramount sees as more valuable as theatrical releases. And with good reasons. A Quiet Place became a surprise breakout hit in 2018, earning $340 million worldwide against a $17 million budget. As for Top Gun 2, having Tom Cruise back in a sequel to the 80s classic represents a possible huge global hit. Assuming enough theaters are open around the world to rake in the big bucks. This news comes to us via The Wrap.