At this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, we questioned whether Adam Driver’s political thriller The Report could salvage Amazon Studios’ tough year at the box office. Now, we won’t ever really know. In a move that mirrors Netflix’s insulated movie methods, Amazon won’t report box office grosses for The Report when it opens in select theaters this weekend, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Up to this point, Amazon has mostly adhered to a traditional theatrical model with many of its films receiving exclusive 72 to 90-day windows before being made available via streaming. But studio head Jennifer Salke recently revealed that strategy will be taken on a case-by-case basis moving forward.
Starting with The Report, which will arrive on Amazon Prime on Nov. 29, certain films will play in theaters for just a few weeks before migrating online, similar to Netflix’s cinematic approach. This isn’t the case for all movies—Shia LaBeouf’s Honey Boy debuted in select theaters last weekend and will continue to rollout theatrically ahead of its Prime arrival next year—but a shift is understandable after Amazon’s struggles at the box office this year.
The studio spent more than $40 million at this year’s Sundance Film Festival acquiring Late Night, Brittany Runs a Marathon and The Report. The former two sold for a combined $27 million and have totaled just $28 million in ticket sales. Granted, the greatest value these movies can provide is increased attention given to the Amazon Prime subscription service rather than box office grosses. But the cost-benefit equation of such an effort is clearly out of balance to a degree.
Netflix has infamously clashed with exhibitors over its decision not to adhere to a traditional theatrical release window. Thus far, Amazon has not been hit with that same criticism. One reason streaming services agree to theatrical releases at all is for the opportunity to compete for Oscars. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ requires a film must run at least seven consecutive days at a commercial theater in Los Angeles County and be shown at least three times a day, with at least one screening between the hours of 6 p.m. and 10 p.m., to be eligible for Academy Awards consideration.
Amazon’s biggest box office hits include 2016’s Manchester by the Sea (which grossed $78 million worldwide) and 2017’s The Big Sick ($54 million). Since then, the studio has seen just one of its films exceed $20 million at the box office.