The Fabelmans, by Steven Spielberg, is already available on VOD

In the United States, the filmmaker’s latest film flopped, and its premature rental release revolutionized the box office in its own way.

“Is Steven Spielberg done with the box office?” First asked the question at the end of November when he discovered the low scores of The Fabelmans in the United States, while the filmmaker has had enormous success in the past: Jurassic Park crossed the billion dollar mark in the world in the 1990s, AND the 800 million a decade earlier, War of the Worlds the 600 million in 2005… IndieWire also wonders about the astonishing scores of this autobiographical film at a time when it is already arriving on VOD in the USA, but formulating it differently: “As Jaws before him, The Fabelmansby Spielberg, could rewrite box office history.” In 1975, the release of this shark film had effectively changed the way of counting receipts and defining success for several decades, earning more than 470 million dollars worldwide, of which more than half in domestic alone. , while it had officially cost only 7 million dollars to Universal. It has since been considered the first summer blockbuster in history, the first Hollywood production of the summer to have moved audiences to theaters so much thanks to its innovative concept and intriguing promotion.

Jaws: When Spielberg railed live against the 1976 Oscar nominations

With The Fabelmansit’s the opposite: you would have thought that the new Spielberg was going to be a hit when you saw it win the Audience Award at the Toronto festival, a trophy that usually heralds future Oscar winners (this doesn’t hold true every time, but it’s still a good barometer of future success). Except that it has only been offered in 600 theaters in the United States since Thanksgiving weekend, which is a holiday and usually considered a good time for Hollywood studios. The promotion put in place by Universal was minimal: a poster, a trailer, a few teasers… movie lover, while his parents, played by Michelle Williams and Paul Dano, were in the process of separating), his exit went almost unnoticed. And this while its reviews were generally positive. This is all the more striking since just a year ago, his new version of West Side Story was already registering disappointing scores at the box office: 76 million dollars worldwide alone, while receiving rave reviews.

The Fabelmans there is also a risk of recording even less: in the United States, it only earned 6 million dollars in one month, and it will be visible today in PVOD. Will offering the film for rental a fortnight before Christmas allow the studio to limit damage? Even to become a success? These poor results in theaters are partly explained by the fact that since the Covid epidemic, older audiences go to the cinema less, although they were clearly targeted here: with The Fabelmans, Spielberg plays the nostalgia card thoroughly. Will having the possibility of renting it very quickly and viewing it quietly in his living room make him reach this audience?
Beginning of November, Steven Spielberg had criticized this kind of exit strategy, half-cinema/half-streaming, targeting more particularly that set up by Warner Bros, which is taking advantage of a reduction in the broadcast window in the USA to offer its films very quickly on HBO Max, even in the event of receipts important on the big screen. He then specifically mentioned the case of senior spectators: “The pandemic has created an opportunity for streaming platforms to increase their subscriptions to record levels, but it has also sacrificed, tossed under the bus, a lot of my director friends, because their films have not been able to offered a theatrical release, and it was done unceremoniously. Once paid for, their films could be relegated to HBO Max, in the example I’m thinking of (which he won’t cite). there, everything started to change. (…) I think the older audiences were relieved that they didn’t have to walk on sticky popcorn. But I also think that those same older audiences, once seated in the cinema, feels that magic of having a social event with a handful of strangers. It’s an invigorating feeling, and it’s up to the movies to be good enough to make viewers want to talk about it once the lights come back on. “

The Fabelmans by Steven Spielberg
Universal

In recent years, Steven Spielberg seems to favor projects that are close to his heart rather than those that could be a hit at the box office, with the exception of Ready Player One (2018), his last real blockbuster. For example, he left his place as director to James Mangold on Indiana Jones 5while this sequel is likely to be a hit in the summer of 2023, to delve into The Fabelmans, which he had dreamed of shooting for several decades. Then he will continue with a film about the making of Bullitt. But the question of the flops of the smallest productions, even made by renowned filmmakers, goes far beyond the case of Spielberg at the moment. IndieWire cite the examples of City of Lightby Sam Mendes, who comes from start very weak in “limited release” or some Banshees of Inisherinby Martin McDonagh, who earned only $8.5 million in the United States, while the director had triumphed at the Oscars thanks to his previous film, 3 Billboards, the panels of revengeand that he seems once again on the right track for this awards season (this new project with Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, his flagship duo of Kisses from Brugess, leave favorite at the Golden Globes). Another even more obvious example: Armageddon Timean autobiographical story, again, signed James Gray (The Night belongs to us, Ad Astra), earned less than $2 million in the United States.

So, are intimate dramas now destined to be mainly broadcast on VOD? This is the question posed in the background by the flop at the box office of The Fabelmans, which is likely to be a success in rental, failing to have moved the public to the cinema. His home scores will no doubt be watched closely in the coming weeks…

In France, the film will be released on the big screen on February 22, 2023. Here is its trailer:

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The Fabelmans, by Steven Spielberg, is already available on VOD