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Bob Chapek’s New Streaming Moneyball

hocus pocus 2
In many ways, Hocus Pocus 2 has become perhaps the quintessential title for understanding much of the anxiety in the industry. Credit: Matt Kennedy/2022 Disney Enterprises, Inc.
Julia Alexander
November 8, 2022

Hocus Pocus 2 has astounded the town with its opening weekend Nielsen numbers on Disney+—in particular, more than 2.7 billion minutes watched, or the equivalent of some 26 million completed views. But this being Hollywood in 2022, analysts and executives and critics couldn’t help but simultaneously count the tens of millions of dollars in revenue that was forfeited by not sending the movie to theaters first. In many ways, Hocus Pocus 2 has become perhaps the quintessential title for understanding much of the anxiety in the industry. If a movie this successful on streaming isn’t going to theaters, what does that mean for other films in the pipeline at Disney? 

Streaming versus theatrical is, of course, the debate at the center of Hollywood’s ongoing identity crisis. On one side there is Warner Bros. Discovery C.E.O. David Zaslav, who doesn’t believe there’s a reason to bypass theaters, especially when films can be monetized on HBO Max after only 45 days. On the other side is Netflix co-C.E.O. Ted Sarandos, who is expectedly adamant that movie franchises can be born out of streaming, and has only recently begun to test limited theatrical runs. NBCUniversal C.E.O. Jeff Shell is somewhere in the middle—open to experimenting, as he did with the Halloween franchise, which has been simultaneously released in both theaters and on Peacock.