With Halloween Ends now in theaters and streamable on Peacock, Freaky director Christopher Landon took to Twitter to beg studios to please stop releasing films simultaneously in homes and theaters.
He says the release strategy — known as Day & Date — hurt the box office for his body-switch horror movie starring Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton, which earned $16 million total. It was released in theaters on Nov. 13, 2020, and three weeks later on video on demand.
Halloween Ends hasn’t performed as well as expected at the box office in its opening weekend, scaring up about $43 million so far, and raising questions about whether the simultaneous Peacock release was to blame. Studios embraced the idea of releasing films simultaneously or almost simultaneously in theaters and on streaming when COVID made many people afraid to venture out to theaters.
Warner Bros. famously (or infamously, in the minds of some directors) released all 17 films on its 2021 slate on HBO Max, drawing the ire of filmmakers like Dune director Denis Villeneuve. Others, notably Tom Cruise, have held of on releasing their films until they could be seen in theaters. Cruise was rewarded for his patience when Top Gun: Maverick became the top-grossing film of 2022, pulling in nearly $1.5 billion so far.
“Ooooooh I feel another rant coming on: Today it’s the Day & Date release strategy for Halloween Ends,” Landon tweeted Saturday. “Stop doing this. Please. It doesn’t work. Studios: stop gambling with filmmakers and their movies to try and prop up your fledgling streaming services. This happened to me on Freaky and it destroyed us. We worked SO HARD to make a fun movie. Blood sweat and tears. Months away from our families. And for what? They love to use the term: ‘two bites of the apple’ but that’s just another way of saying ‘we’re gonna use your movie as a Guinea pig’ for our streaming service. Sorry. I begged the studio not to do this. Either circle the wagons and protect it for theatrical or just go all in on streaming. Don’t split hairs.”
He also said the Halloween team were at least compensated fairly financially. “We got hosed. So yeah…bitter subject,” he added. “PTSD.”
And in case his feelings were clear enough, he ended with a colorful anaology. “Dear studios: stop trying to s— two d—s at the same time. Honor the sanctity of the theatrical experience. End rant.”
And in case you’re wondering, yes: Christopher Landon is the son of Michael Landon, who certainly never used such shocking language on Little House on the Prairie. Horrors!
Main image: Kathryn Newton in Freaky, directed by Christopher Landon.