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Here’s why straight-to-streaming blockbusters might never work

By Frank Pallotta, CNN Business

LeBron James took his talents to the movies this weekend and came away with a hit.

Space Jam: A New Legacy,” which stars James alongside the Looney Tunes, brought in an estimated $31.6 million in its North America opening this weekend. That exceeded industry expectations, which projected the film to bring in closer to $20 million for its debut.

That number is somewhat surprising for a few reasons.

For starters, the Warner Bros. film was widely panned by critics. The sequel to the 1996 family movie starring Michael Jordan, has a 31% score on review site, Rotten Tomatoes. (Warner Bros., like CNN, is owned by WarnerMedia.)

However, it looks like the reviews didn’t matter much to consumers, who gave it an 81% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes and an “A-” on CinemaScore.

James himself even commented on the bad reviews by tweeting out a story about the film’s positive box office totals alongside a comment that read, “Hi Haters!”

The other reason that the solid box office is a bit of a surprise is because “Space Jam” was also available on HBO Max.

The film, which reportedly had a $150 million production budget, was released on the streaming service at no extra charge to subscribers on the same day it was released in theaters. So audiences could have just stayed home to watch, but it looks like a good amount still went out and bought a ticket.

As for the rest of the weekend box office, Marvel’s “Black Widow” came in behind “Space Jam” with an estimated $26.3 million in North America for its second weekend.

The film, starring Scarlett Johansson as the avenging super-spy, is coming off a hit debut at both the box office and on Disney’s streaming service, Disney+. Its second weekend box office totals dropped 67% from last weekend.

So far, the superhero film has made $264 million at the worldwide box office, according to Disney.

™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - Business/Consumer

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