Data: ‘In the Heights’ Opened Strong on HBO Max

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Cheyne Gateley/VIP

Warner Bros.’ “In the Heights” wasn’t a box-office hit during its opening weekend, but the musical may be performing better on HBO Max than expected. 

That’s according to data provided exclusively to Variety Intelligence Platform by connected TV analytics provider TVision. The firm found that “In the Heights” finished second among the top 10 movies of 2021 through June 13 when measured by the share of time spent among TVision-measured streaming services within three days of premiere date. 

TVision measures viewing across all major U.S. SVODs and AVODs. The analytics company tracks viewing of nearly 25,000 titles among 5,000 households (14,000 individuals) across the U.S. on connected TVs.    

The only title to account for a bigger portion of time that TVision panel members spent with streaming during the three days following premiere date was Netflix’s “Thunder Force,” a comedy starring Melissa McCarthy, which represented 8% of time spent with streaming from April 9-12.  

Surprisingly, “In the Heights” accounted for a greater portion of time spent with streaming during the three days following its debut date than previous Warner Bros. day-and-date movies like ”Mortal Kombat” did during the three days following their premiere dates.  

But that doesn’t mean “In the Heights” was the most-watched Warner Bros. day-and-date film by sheer number of TVision eyeballs. TVision notes that a greater number of total viewers watched “Godzilla vs. Kong” in the three days following its debut than “In the Heights,” for example.  

The discrepancy between number of TVision viewers and percentage of time spent streaming during three days following premiere date could be due to more people overall streaming content during the weekend “GvK” debuted (i.e. the numbers likely reflect “In the Heights” accounting for a bigger portion of a relatively smaller pie, while certain previous Warner Bros. films likely had to compete for a slice of a bigger pie). 

That’s not a crazy idea to entertain given the rising number of vaccinations in recent months and gradual reopening of businesses in major markets like California and New York.  

Don't forget that just because a movie did relatively well on streaming doesn’t means it will cannibalize its box-office receipts. This is in line with what Warner Bros. distribution chief Jeff Goldstein recently suggested, and a sentiment a VIP survey uncovered years ago.   

One caveat: the panel size of TVision is smaller than some other third-party measurement firms. For instance, Samba TV recently reported that the three-day HBO Max viewership of “In the Heights” was much lower than previous Warner Bros. day-and-date films like “Mortal Kombat” and “Tom and Jerry.”  

TVision noted that it measures streaming viewership on devices beyond just smart TVs like Roku devices and gaming consoles, when asked why its figures may paint a different picture than Samba TV’s. 

But even with these caveats in mind, TVision’s numbers still give an idea of how HBO Max is performing at the start of its second year on the market.  

HBO Max was always advantaged by the rich film library of Warner Bros., but TVision's numbers suggest that the studio’s 2021 slate continues to serve as a differentiation factor for the service well after its launch.