With many studios on rocky ground when it comes to how and when to release their big movies, Paramount have made another unexpected move even by pandemic standards by announcing the release of Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins to digital and on-demand services will be tomorrow on August 17th, only 25 days after it released exclusively in theaters. While most movies premiering in cinemas without a dual release on a streaming platform have an exclusive 45 days before they air elsewhere, but now Paramount have bucked that particular short-lived trend with one of their first movies to attempt the strategy lasting less than half the exclusive period.
Although the movie was hyped up massively by the studio prior to its release, Snake Eyes didn't really live up to its potential, even when just stacked up alongside other pandemic releases. It is likely that this has been the driver behind Paramount's decision to bring the on-demand release forward from its expected September release. The movie will be made available on Blu-ray, 4K and DVD from October 19, and will include exclusive extras such as deleted scenes and a number of vignettes about the making of the movie and the origins of the characters and weapons featured in it.
The sudden move by Paramount highlight the very uncertain and volatile times we are still in when it comes to upcoming movie releases. Disney have just released Ryan Reynolds' new movie Free Guy to a sub-$30 million domestic opening due to it being released only in theaters thanks mostly it seems to some previously agreed contracts, and it looks like Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings is about to follow suit, and expected to hit around the $50 million mark on opening weekend.
Snake Eyes release will likely be seen as something of a failure in the eyes of the studio, even by pandemic standards, and what we are seeing now is the fact becoming clear that theatrical releases cannot be relied on to bring in the big budget movies need to make any profit from. Even with a dual release strategy, Black Widow managed to make only a fraction of what would be expected when Disney and Marvel first slated the movie, as following the MCU's phase three closing Spider-Man: Far From Home taking over $1 billion in total, under other circumstances Black Widow would have more than likely followed suit. As it is, the movie is likely to take less than half that across all formats.
With cinema still a shaky option, does Paramount's early release of Snake Eyes indicate that we are going to see the bullish "theatrical release only" card being played a little less in the immediate future, at least until vaccines are rolled out in greater volume and the Delta Variant and any subsequent variants are deemed to be less of a risk? Streaming platforms have seen a huge surge unlike any other marketplace, with Disney+, Netflix, Amazon Prime and many more building their audiences with families who would rather stay in the safety of their own home to enjoy a movie rather than risking potential health issues for the sake of watching a film on the big screen. This does not bode well for theaters in the immediate future, many of which have just opened in the last few months with the belief that the pandemic was behind them, but is instead another sign that things are a long way from normal in the industry and are likely to stay that way for a while yet.