Beasts of No Nations isn’t just a welcome Idris Elba showcase or the latest from True Detective (season one!) director Cary Fukunaga; it’s an experiment in simultaneous releasing, as the film hit 31 theaters in major markets on the same day in began streaming on Netflix. And how did that go? Well…
In both overall box office and the all-important-for-limited-release per-screen average, Beasts came in at the back of the herd, grossing a rather anemic $50,699, with $1,635 per screen. That latter number puts it well behind all of the week’s other limited releases: Room ($30K/screen), Steve Jobs ($25K), Truth ($12K), The Assassin ($12K), All Things Must Pass ($10K), etc., etc.
Of course, that lengthy rundown of titles reveals one possible stumble in this strategy: Netflix (and theatrical distributor Bleecker Street) released Beasts to theaters during one of the busiest weekends of the fall, with not only the aforementioned high-profile indies but grown-up-geared studio fare like Bridge of Spies and Crimson Peak vying for attention. A week earlier, and it might’ve been a different story.
Or maybe the big chains that boycotted Beasts are right, and people just won’t go see a movie they can stream at home for free. And maybe that doesn’t matter anyway, since Netflix was basically using the theatrical release an ad campaign for their service. In a statement on Sunday, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos said, “Whether in theaters this week or on any Internet-connected device now or in years to come, people all over the world are getting a unique opportunity to appreciate this film.”
And as per usual, they won’t tell us exactly how many people watched Beasts over the weekend, but a Netflix rep told Deadline, “We aren’t issuing any metrics on the film’s performance on Netflix but on background, I can tell you we are very happy.” So we can just take their word for it, right?