‘In the Heights’ underwhelmed at the box office, but new data suggests it’s not HBO Max’s fault

in the heights usnavi
“In the Heights.”

  • “In the Heights” underwhelmed at the domestic box office over the weekend with $11 million.
  • But data suggests it also underperformed on HBO Max compared to other Warner Bros. movies this year.
  • That means a low theatrical turnout isn’t necessarily streaming’s fault, in this case.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

“In the Heights,” the new movie based on the musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda, underwhelmed at the US box office over the weekend with $11.4 million.

Its haul was below projections that placed it closer to $20 million, and it failed to top “A Quiet Place Part II,” which has been in theaters for two weeks.

The Warner Bros. film, which was directed by “Crazy Rich Asians” filmmaker Jon M. Chu, was released simultaneously on the WarnerMedia streaming service HBO Max over the weekend, as are all of Warner Bros.’ films this year.

But data suggests that it’s not Max’s fault that the movie disappointed at the box office. It also underperformed on the streaming service compared to other new Warner Bros. movies.

693,000 US households watched at least five minutes of “In the Heights” on HBO Max over the weekend via connected TVs, according to estimates from the analytics company Samba TV. Samba TV tracks viewership on connected TVs, which include smart TVs, streaming devices like Roku, and gaming consoles (WarnerMedia declined to provide viewership numbers for “In the Heights.”)

Other Warner Bros. releases this year, which have performed better at the box office than “In the Heights” in their opening weekends, also drove more viewership on Max, according to Samba TV data. It suggests that streaming viewership doesn’t necessarily cannibalize theatrical attendance.

Here are four Warner Bros. movies this year that debuted in theaters and on Max simultaneously, and how their opening weekends compared on Max (via Samba TV estimates) and at the box office in the US:

  • “Mortal Kombat” – 3.8 million households on Max / $23.3 million at box office
  • “Godzilla vs. Kong” – 3.6 million households on Max (five-day weekend) / $48.5 million at box office (five days)
  • “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It” – 1.6 million households on Max $24 million at box office
  • “Tom and Jerry” – 1.2 million households on Max / $14.1 million at box office

Warner Bros. head of domestic distribution Jeff Goldstein also implied “In the Heights” had underperformed relative to other releases in comments to the Associated Press on Sunday.

“Our experience, which is backed up on ‘In the Heights,’ is that if the movie hits a high level in theaters, it hits a high level on the service,” Goldstein said. “If it hits a low level in theaters, it hits a low level on HBO Max. They’re really very comparable.”

While “In the Heights” didn’t attract as big an audience in its debut as other Warner Bros. releases this year, it’s been a hit with critics and has a 97% Rotten Tomatoes critic score. Viewers who did see the movie also seemed to love it; it has a 95% Rotten Tomatoes audience score and an A from CinemaScore, which surveys theatrical audiences on a movie’s opening night. That means the movie could pick up steam from word-of-mouth buzz.

Warner Bros. has largely dominated the box office so far this year despite its movies also streaming, and “In the Heights” seems to be an exception.

The box office could look more balanced as more studios release delayed tentpole films this summer, though, including Disney’s “Black Widow” and Universal’s “Fast and Furious 9.”

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