For the first time since July 8th, we have a new film at the top of the awareness chart. AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER surrenders the #1 spot, but not to BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER, BLACK ADAM, or HALLOWEEN ENDS. No, the film that takes the top spot with 65% awareness is none other than HOCUS POCUS 2.
For several weeks we’ve been watching WAKANDA edge closer and closer to AVATAR. As it turns out, we’ve been watching the wrong film. In a stunning 11th-hour surge, HOCUS has climbed from 60% to 65%, propelling it to the top spot.
Of course, HOCUS will be retired from The Quorum once it debuts on Disney+ at the end of the week, so its time at the top will be short-lived. And, with the narrowest of leads, it’s possible that AVATAR: THE WAY OF THE WATER, on the heels of the re-release of the first AVATAR this past weekend, may claim the top spot when it’s fielded on Wednesday. But even if HOCUS slips from the summit, it will go down as the first streaming title to claim the #1 spot in awareness in the post-pandemic era.
It is not, however, the first streaming title to ever reach the summit. WONDER WOMAN 1984 held the top spot towards the end of 2020. A few weeks later, Amazon’s COMING 2 AMERICA climbed to #1 ahead of its March 2021 debut. But that was peak pandemic when there were no big theatrical titles. HOCUS has reached the top among several big theatrical releases.
On the interest side, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, VOL. 3 and WAKANDA hold the slimmest of leads on HOCUS. It wouldn’t be surprising at all to see the three beloved witches claim the top spot by the end of the week. Interestingly, AVATAR sits outside the top five at #6 on the interest chart.
Truth be told, it’s not entirely surprising to see HOCUS at the top. Awareness for the film was already above 40% when we first started tracking it last November. And its interest score never dipped below 5.5. It was clear that there was an audience for the film.
What has always been less clear is why Disney has been so steadfast in its decision to release this film on Disney+. As The Quorum has pointed out before, this film had theatrical written all over it. And while we’ll never know how it would have performed in theaters, these tracking numbers are higher than MINIONS: THE RISE OF GRU. That film debuted to $107M with an awareness of 65% and an interest score of 6.4. GRU now sits north of $900M worldwide.
For those who advocate and support theatrical, Disney’s decision to keep this exclusive to its streaming service is especially frustrating. The box office is in a seven-week slump mainly because the studios haven’t released any tentpoles. And if there’s one thing we know about family films in general and HOCUS POCUS in particular, it’s that they get enormous repeat viewership. If ever there was an opportunity for multiple bites at the apple, this film is it.
As we can see from the data, audiences would no doubt pay the price of admission to see this film in a theater, and given its profile for repeat viewership, fans would also watch it again on Disney+ a few months down the road. That’s a win-win for Disney.
The studio is clearly looking at a different calculus. One wishes, though, that Disney would have taken inspiration from Paramount’s decision to shift SMILE from streaming to theatrical and given fans the opportunity to see HOCUS POCUS 2 on the big screen.