EXCLUSIVE: Sony’s $106.4M global box office weekend for Uncharted was another reminder to a streaming-obsessed entertainment industry that the tried-and-true business model of theatrical features still works, and that there’s an audience for them.
Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group Chairman and CEO Tom Rothman underscored this in a company-wide email today following the success of the Ruben Fleischer directed, Tom Holland-Mark Wahlberg-starring movie this past weekend, and extolled staffers for delivering a blockbuster hit.
Rather than sell the $120M production off out of financial desperation during the pandemic, Sony believed in the event movie, protected it and waited for the proper time to release it.
The box office results from such actions? Uncharted was suppose to do $30M over four days at the domestic box office; it wound up doing $51M, sending its current worldwide take to $139M. Key words in Rothman’s note below, is that he’s already declared Uncharted “a new hit movie franchise.” When we spoke to Fleischer, he was hopeful about a sequel.
While other studios have been going day-and-date with their movies or shaving down the theatrical window, Sony continues to protect the 45-day window on big event films such as Spider-Man: No Way Home, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, Ghostbusters: Afterlife Uncharted, and since theaters reopened last year from Covid has grossed a huge $3 billion-plus at the global box office.
Uncharted, as Rothman explains here, was the first major production shut down entirely by Covid. Fleischer told us on Deadline’s Hero Nation podcast that Uncharted, from pre-production to post, took two years.
Sony also had more bragging rights at the Presidents Day weekend B.O. as Spider-Man: No Way Home ranked 3rd in its tenth weekend of release, making $9M and raising its running stateside gross to close to $772M. Industry estimates believe that Spider-Man: No Way Home has a good shot at getting to a final domestic of $800M.
Here’s Rothman’s memo:
It is Presidents Day in America, but we are open in most places around the world today and we have another global triumph to celebrate.
With over $100M in box office worldwide in just one weekend, and a 90% positive audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, Uncharted is a new hit movie franchise for the company.
This marks a great victory for every single division of the company, as the film was our first major production entirely shut down by the advent of Covid, yet we persevered to complete a picture the audience loves and marketed and distributed it with strategic verve worldwide, despite the pandemic.
The ensuing impact is proof once again of the unmatched cultural power of real movies. On the heels of Venom: Let There Be Carnage, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, and Spider-Man: No Way Home, Uncharted is yet another blow to the theatrical naysayers and further proof of the efficacy of our model.
I want to thank all of the filmmakers, the wonderful cast and crew, and especially our friends at PlayStation Studios and Sony Interactive Entertainment for their support. And of course, I want to thank each and every one of you for your creativity, dedication and belief.