Did ‘Mortal Kombat’ Do More for HBO Max Than ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’?

Yinchen Niu/VIP

“Mortal Kombat” serves as the latest example that WarnerMedia’s gutsy 2021 day-and-date strategy is paying off, but HBO Max has seen bigger bumps in usage in weeks other than when the live-action film debuted. 

That’s according to connected-TV analytics provider TVision, which provided data exclusively to Variety Intelligence Platform showing the share of time spent with video streaming services among panel members that HBO Max accounted for during the week of April 18 (“Mortal Kombat” debuted April 23) was the sixth highest since the streamer launched in May 2020. 

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.    

But the sixth-highest stat ranking also means that HBO Max accounted for more time spent with streaming services among TVision panel members in the weeks when other big Warner Bros. movies released, like “Wonder Woman 1984” (week of December 20) and “Godzilla vs. Kong” (week of March 28). 

Moreover, this share of time-spent stat during “Mortal Kombat” premiere week (4%) was only up roughly one percentage point from the week prior. Comparatively, HBO Max’s share of time spent was up 3.6 percentage points and 2.7 percentage points during “Wonder Woman 1984”and “Godzilla vs. Kong” premiere weeks, respectively.  

AT&T CFO Pascal Desroches on April 22 said “Godzilla vs. Kong” was the biggest HBO Max film by viewing audience since the streamer’s launch. 

So while HBO Max likely benefited meaningfully from the “Mortal Kombat” debut, it also may be tempting to interpret the data as indicating that “Mortal Kombat” was somewhat of a disappointment. But remember that the TVision-HBO Max share of time spent is not just dependent on individual film releases. 

Isolating the performance of each notable film debuting on HBO Max may give you a different sense of the Warner Bros. day-and-date movie pecking order. 

“Mortal Kombat” saw greater viewership among 2 million tracked users during the Friday-Saturday following its release than “Godzilla vs. Kong” did in the Friday-Saturday following its release, Reelgood data provided exclusively to Variety Intelligence Platform shows.  

At a glance, this dataset seems to jibe with Samba TV, which recently reported that “Mortal Kombat” was viewed by 0.2 million more viewers in the first three days following its debut than “Godzilla Vs. Kong” was in its first five days after debut.   

Still, be mindful of how comparing “Mortal Kombat” and “Godzilla vs. Kong” viewership can get slippery. 

For one, the box office performance of “Godzilla vs. Kong” should be taken into consideration. “Godzilla vs. Kong” generated over $32 million in domestic box office revenue in its opening weekend, a total that easily helped the film mark the biggest debut in the coronavirus era. 

And it’s likely some U.S. consumers didn’t watch “Godzilla vs. Kong” on HBO Max April 2-4 because they already saw it in theaters.  

The same — theatergoing affecting HBO Max viewership during opening weekend — could be said for “Mortal Kombat” (premiered to $22.5 million), but it’s possible some consumers viewed “Godzilla vs. Kong” as more of a film worth making the trip to the movie theater.  

Also worth nothing in the Reelgood ranking above is it doesn’t account for the viewership of “Godzilla vs. Kong” in the first two days following release, while other films that debuted on Fridays do see their stats account for (and likely benefit from) viewership in the first two days following release.  

Meanwhile, Deadline recently cited sources suggesting Samba TV may be understating the first five-day HBO Max audience of “Godzilla vs. Kong.” 

Either way, it’s seems apparent that the 2021 Warner Bros. day-and-date movies are gaining more traction on HBO Max as the year progresses: three of the top four titles in Reelgood’s ranking above dropped after the first half of March. 

Perhaps that’s partially due to more consumers getting conditioned to return to HBO Max monthly to check for new big movie releases.  

More consumers in the habit of checking HBO Max regularly bodes well for upcoming Warner Bros. titles such as “Those Who Wish Me Dead” (out May 14) and “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It” (out June 4).