2020 was an absolutely bizarre year for movies. There simply weren't as many of them as we're used to seeing, certainly not of the major blockbuster variety. Beyond that, it's somewhat difficult to even gauge which movies we did get were "hits" and which were not. Even if a film was released in theaters, its box office was certainly smaller than what it would have been under other circumstances. And many movies never even got a box office total, releasing as video on demand titles or on streaming services. However, it seems Hollywood has decided Gerard Butler's Greenland was a big enough hit, because it's sequel just sold for big money.
Deadline reports that Greenland: Migration, the follow up to last year's disaster movie, has been picked up by STX for $75 million, the biggest deal of this year's Cannes virtual market. $25 million gives STX the domestic distribution rights to the film, and the balance covers all international markets. There were apparently several other interested parties so a bidding war ensued over the upcoming film, which is looking to begin filming early next year.
While Greenland didn't have a domestic box office, it debuted as a VOD title, and it only made about $50 million internationally, the film was still something of a surprise hit. It got solid reviews from critics and those that did see it. The movie starred Gerard Butler and Morena Baccarin as a family trying to find shelter from an impeding comet impact on earth. The sequel, as the title implies, will see the characters emerge from the shelter in Greenland and attempt to cross a now desolate and dangerous planet-- looking for a new place to call home.
Following the film's VOD release it was released on HBO Max in what was apparently a quite lucrative deal. That may be what gives STX the confidence that a sequel can be equally successful without the traditional metric of the box office to judge. It shows how the landscape of Hollywood is potentially changing. The box office, while still vital, is not the only arbiter of what makes a movie a financial success.
Considering there were other high profile films on the auction block, including a new Vin Diesel action movie and Zoe Kravitz directorial debut Pussy Island, the fact that the Greenland sequel was the hot commodity is saying something. This is the movie that studios think has the potential to be the biggest winner, at least from a business standpoint.
It will certainly be interesting to see how Greenland: Migration performs in a couple of years when the movie industry is, one assumes, back to normal. Will it reveal that the original film would have been a box office hit if only given the chance? Or could it be that Greenland success came because of, and not in spite of the circumstances of its release?