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Summer Blockbusters Have a Halo Effect on Streaming Catalog Films

Roku’s Audience Insights team explores how franchises impact theatrical and streaming releases, and how marketers can utilize these trends

Courtesy of Roku

So far in 2022, nine of the 10 biggest grossing films are either sequels or part of a franchise. And, as excitement built for the new releases, the number of people catching up on previous films in the series on streaming services spiked.  

New research from Roku — America’s No. 1 TV streaming platform in terms of hours streamed — shows that a franchise’s full catalog sees the benefits of a theatrical release even when it falls short of a box office blowout, presenting a big marketing opportunity for both studios and streaming services.  

When looking at the impact of new releases, Roku’s Audience Insights team found searches for prior releases of a franchise more than doubled when new titles were released – a trend distributors could leverage to build theatrical buzz in the weeks leading up to a film’s debut.  

It’s a trend that also opens up opportunities for marketers, notes Roku’s theatrical ad marketing manager Erica Atkins. 

“Older titles in a franchise return to relevancy when a new installment hits, so it’s a miss not to promote them alongside the new title,” says Atkins.  

Since the start of a title’s streaming window isn’t always clear, viewers often need help finding content. To ensure a smooth transition from theater to streaming at home, ramping up post-release marketing can help studios, as well as streaming services, build on box office excitement to maximize viewership potential.  

Similarly, a successful box office run can increase viewer interest in a film when it lands on streaming platforms — for example, “The Batman” saw a 554% increase in Roku searches when it hit theaters on March 4 (2022), and a 270% increase when it became available on streaming on April 18.  

While not all searches translate into views, streaming can give films a second life. “Downton Abbey: A New Era” — which underperformed at the box office — saw a 71% increase in searches when it landed on the platform. “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” — which did very well at the box office — saw a 244% increase in Roku searches when the title hit theaters; once it became available via streaming, search interest skyrocketed 1,231%.  

What the Numbers Show 

Roku’s research reveals how much, and how early, demand for older titles in a franchise increases as promotion ramps up for new installments. Teasers, trailers and, eventually, the release of new installments in theaters all pique audience interest.  

When the first trailer for “The Minions: The Rise of Gru” was released in 2020, “Despicable Me” saw a 32% increase in searches, “Despicable Me 2” saw a 34% increase, “Despicable Me 3” saw a 27% increase, and “Despicable Me: Minion Madness” saw a 68% increase.  

With “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Jurassic World: Dominion” ruling the box office in June, both the first “Top Gun” (1986) and its 2022 sequel, as well as previous films in the “Jurassic Park” franchise, were among the Top 20 searched titles on Roku. 

For marketers, this means it’s never too early to promote a franchise — fans are eager to revisit stories and characters weeks — even months — before a theatrical release. 

Here’s how the numbers were impacted with other recent releases: 

  • “The Batman” – Searches for “Batman,” “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight” jumped 38%, 43% and 46%, respectively. 
  • “Downton Abbey: A New Era” – Searches for “Downton Abbey” surged 113%.  
  • “F9” – Being part of a franchise with as many entries as “Fast and Furious” sparked a cross-the-board increase that was even more impressive. Though some previous films in the saga were more popular than others, all saw jumps in search interest:  
    • “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift”: 104%  
    • “2 Fast 2 Furious”: 80% 
    • “The Fast and the Furious”: 67% 
    • “The Fate of the Furious”: 49% 
    • “Fast Five”: 41% 
    • “Furious 7”: 41% 
    • “Fast & Furious 6”: 39% 
    • “Fast & Furious”: 35% 

Leveraging Streaming and Theatrical Synergy  

It’s clear streaming and theatrical can work together to help programmers engage audiences. While social media, linear television ads and online (or in-theater) trailers are still the biggest drivers of awareness, a new Roku survey found 38% of users typically learn about a new release promotion on a TV streaming device; 60% said their Roku streaming device made it easier for them to discover new films. For films released in theaters or streaming, marketers can maximize viewership by messaging the same streamers across the entire content lifecycle journey – from theater to rental/purchase to direct-to-streaming. 

Streaming can also satisfy the ongoing hunger for new releases. Almost half Roku’s users (45%) want to see a new movie within the first month, with 19% saying they want to see it as soon as possible; their reasons include wanting to avoid spoilers and being able to participate in conversations about it. More than half of respondents said they are comfortable going to a movie theater again; only 22% said they were uncomfortable as the pandemic continues to cast a shadow.  

The genres they want to see in theaters, however, are limited. Roku’s survey found audiences prefer to see action/adventure and sci-fi/fantasy films over other genres in theaters, while international and crime/horror films are most likely to be streamed at home.  

While consumer attitudes continue to evolve, theatergoing and streaming can coexist. “If a movie delivers a strong box office performance, it drives buzz and brings a halo effect to streaming services. People who missed it are more inclined to catch it on streaming. On the flip side, for films that don’t do well — or even genres that are not theatrical draws at this point – consumers know it will eventually end up on streaming, so they’re willing to wait,” says Roku’s senior director of global ad sales, media and entertainment, Jon Goodstadt. “Marketers can leverage this dynamic to grow a franchise’s audience.” 

June’s Top 10 Searches on Roku 

June’s top searches underscore the relationship between catalog films and new releases. As “Top Gun: Maverick” soared at the box office, the 1986 “Top Gun” dominated searches by Roku users (the 2022 release ranked eighth). Meanwhile, the release of “Jurassic World: Dominion” elevated three previous installments in the franchise to the top 10. 

  1. “Top Gun” 
  2. “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” 
  3. “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” 
  4. “Jurassic World” 
  5. “Yellowstone” 
  6. “Jurassic Park” 
  7. “P-Valley” 
  8. “Top Gun: Maverick” 
  9. “The Lost City” 
  10. “Spider-Man: No Way Home” 

 

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