• Josh Martin-Jones

Christmas Day 2020 - The New Normal?

Updated: Dec 31, 2020

Now that the festivities are slowly beginning to conclude, it's time to look back at Christmas Day and how big of a day it really was for streaming. December 25th 2020 saw the release of four major titles through streaming globally.

WW84 released theatrically worldwide on 16th December where possible, then later released in the US in theatres and on HBO Max on the same day on Christmas. This marks the first of HBO Max’s upcoming same day releases which sees Warner Bros films premiere on the service for one month only, the same day as its theatrical release. These titles will include Godzilla v Kong, The Conjuring 3, In the Heights, and Dune.

Disney+ debuted their latest Pixar release Soul originally set for theatrical release in June 2020, but was delayed to November due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was later decided that it would not release theatrically but instead delayed the release again so the film was an exclusive Christmas Day Disney+ premiere.

Netflix debuted the first of their exclusive Rhondaland titles Bridgerton, a period drama produced by Shonda Rhimes' production company who Netflx signed a multi-year development deal with back in 2017. Rhimes previously had a deal with Disney/ABC which led to the production of shows such as Grey’s Anatomy, How to Get Away with Murder, and Scandal. They also debuted Robert Rodriguez’ new family superhero movie We Can Be Heroes - a stand alone sequel to his 2005 movie The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl.

Interestingly, this release was originally skated for a New Year’s Day 2021 release - but was moved forward at the start of the month. The Soul moving to D+ announcement was made on 8th October, the WW84 announcement then made on the 18th November - interesting that Netflix made the decision to move it to Christmas Day considering the day was already busy anyways.

I myself watched 3 of the 4 titles, with my family over the festive season and it was definitely something I reccomend. Especially being locked inside, being able to sit down and watch a new release with the family was really great, and I imagine a lot of the world over the past few days have watched Soul especially.

Netflix did it first!

Christmas has been a popular release window for Netflix over the past few years, however this is the first time that Christmas Day has fallen on a Friday for a few years - the traditional day for Netflix Original releases. Netflix started using Christmas as a flagship release window a few years back in 2016 with the debut of Trollhunters - a Dreamworks Animation series directed by Guillermo del Toro, a series developed from the deal which Netflix and Dreamworks Animation signed in 2013, which saw Netflix become the home of exclusive content including 3 Movies and 22 series - this deal has since expired with Hulu snatching the deal off Netflix.

The following year saw the debut of Will Smith’s urban fantasy action film, Bright - directed by David Ayer. The film was released worldwide on Netflix on December 22 and was met with largely negative reviews, however has become one of the streaming services most streamed movies ever. The following week, Netflix debuted their fourth season of the hit show Black Mirror - two big debuts releasing within a week of each other!!

2018 saw the release of Bird Box, which debuted on the 21st of the month, which as of today is the second most watched Netflix original movie, with 89 million views. Black Mirror: Bandersnatch followed the week after, which was Netflix’s first live action interactive special, where viewers had the option to choose what happened within the special, something Netflix had previously attempted with titles such as Puss in Boots, Minecraft, and Stretch Armstrong

Finally, Christmas 2019 was another release window for Netflix with Season 2 of the popular series YOU debuting on the service, which has amassed over 54 million viewers. The Witcher Season 1 also debuted, which has since reached a whopping 76 million viewers.

Sky Cinema - Christmas Promotions

In recent years, Sky Cinema have focused on a big Christmas promotion every year, where they usually release the biggest titles over the festive season from the past 6-12 months. Past years have seen the latest blockbusters premiere, including the Avengers films, the latest Disney films, the complete Harry Potter collection among other films from the past calendar year. Usually, Sky will advertise this alongside a special deal, where a customer could get 50% off for the first 3 months in a 12 month contract, for example.

Is there a future for Christmas Day releases for streaming?

To summarise, I do see a good chance that Christmas Day could become a bigger day for streaming - but then it all depends on how the pandemic plays out over the next 12 months. Netflix seem confident in the release window, as seen in previous years and Christmas has proved to be a great theatrical window in the past, it was only a matter of time before streaming caught up. Pandemic or no pandemic - we could see Disney releasing a film every year over the festive season similar to what they've done with Soul, and it is no question at all that Netflix will continue to release during the holiday season - with potentially YOU Season 3 being one of their flagship releases next Christmas...

Star Wars, The Hobbit, and Jumanji being the biggest franchises to operate in the December theatrical window, with Disney keeping their track record with the upcoming Avatar sequels taking the December spots for release.

Did you watch any releases on Christmas Day, and if so - which were they? You can let me know in the comments or over on Twitter

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