Would Prey Have Been A Box Office Success If It Released In Theaters?

The newest predator movie, preywas released exclusively for streaming on Hulu on August 5, but Disney may have made a mistake by not premiering it in theaters. prey (2022) is the fifth (or seventh) installation in the predator movie franchise, which is now owned by Disney following its massive acquisition of 20th Century Studios. The prequel film follows young Comanche warrior Naru (Amber Midthunder) in 1719, where she must protect her tribe in the Great Plains from a highly evolved alien – a Predator – that hunts humans.


While 2022 has been an odd year for the box office, many of the biggest studios are opting to debut their new films exclusively in theaters rather than the dual theatrical-streaming releases that became common in 2021. Surprisingly, Disney doesn’t own the highest -grossing movies of 2022 worldwide, as those records are held by Paramount’s Top Gun 2 and Universal’s Jurassic World Dominion. Franchises, sequels, and horror movies have arguably had the most reliable performances at the late-2021 and 2022 box offices, suggesting prey would have been a good contender for a theatrical release.

Related: Prey’s Biggest Unanswered Questions & Mysteries

The critical response to prey has been overwhelmingly positive, with the buzz around the predator prequel leading to conversations about what its chances would have been at the box office. Considering the 2022 box office has already proven that MCU and superhero audiences are no longer the only reliable sources of commercial success in the pandemic era, prey’s impressive streaming accomplishments indicate it could have had a far bigger impact had it been released in theaters. When taking into account the previous box office performance of the predator franchise, which genres have excelled at the modern box office, and the enthusiastic reviews for Dan Trachtenberg’s movie, Disney missed out on a big opportunity with prey (2022).

How Much Other Predator Movies Made At The Box Office

The very first predator movie, which debuted in 1987, made $98.3 million at the box office. Against a budget of only $15-18 million, the Arnold Schwarzenegger-starring predator was deemed a commercial success. predator 2 (1990) was nowhere near as successful as the original, as it only brought in $57.1 million at the box office against a budget of an estimated $30 million. However, predators (2010) rebooted the sci-fi/action horror franchise by earning $127.2 million at the box office with a budget of $40 million.

When the film series returned in 2018 with The Predator, it was once again a box office hit. The fourth movie in the predator franchise costs $88 million, but managed to make $160.5 million at the box office. With the exception of Predator 2the movies have been largely successful at the box office, which is a shame for the phenomenal prey considering it’s now the most-watched premiere of all time on Hulu.

What Prey’s Box Office Could Have Been (& Would It Be A Success)

Although prey‘s budget hasn’t been revealed, it’s assumed to be a much more humble number than its two recent predator predecessors. prey is a much quieter and smaller film with a cast that doesn’t boast any major Hollywood stars, so it certainly doesn’t come anywhere close to the $88 million budget for The Predator‘s far more elaborate action showcase. As the most-watched premiere on Hulu, it can be confidently inferred that prey would have performed relatively well in theaters; perhaps not as a box office smash, but a respectable exhibition. If it’s going against a smaller budget, prey could have earned back around $75 million at the box office and been considered a success.

Related: Which Language Should You Watch Prey In: Comanche Or English?

The Black Phone – which doesn’t come from a major horror IP – earned $144 million at the box office, while Jordan Peele’s original sci-fi horror film nope has neared the $100 million mark, proving well-made horror is a reliable genre in theaters. Considering the only other movies that premiered in theaters on August 5 were bullet train, Easter Sunday, Bodies Bodies Bodiesand sharp stick – all of which received less enthusiastic reviews than prey – the predator prequel movie could have reasonably opened in the top five at the box office alongside prior releases like nope, DC League of Super Petsand Thor: Love and Thunder.

Why Prey Didn’t Release In Theaters

While a relatively smaller budget for prey likely played a role in the decision to release it exclusively on Hulu, Disney has notably prioritized its streaming releases outside of big-budget IP projects. Disney came under fire for pulling the 2022 Pixar movie Turning Red from theaters to an exclusive Disney+ release, but when the animated studios triumphant theatrical return with light year backfired, it seemed inevitable that more movies would only see streaming premieres. At least with a streaming release, prey was able to be a big fish in a small pound, which wouldn’t have been the case in theaters.

Additionally, while Disney+ is a fast-growing streaming service, Hulu hasn’t had as many big hits, so a big IP streaming premiere like prey was likely used as a way to push subscriptions. However, prey‘s streaming success is apt to continue a revival of interest in the franchise, and can perhaps inspire Disney to release the next predator movie in theaters instead. Disney has notably lacked a reliable franchise in the thriller and horror genres, with predator offering an optimistic avenue for the studio to cover these bases in theaters.

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