The recently released Hulu venture, Prey, which serves as a prequel and the fifth installment in the Predator franchise, has seen tremendous appreciation on the Internet. Beyond the general audience and their love for the film, the critics too have proclaimed their admiration for director Dan Trachtenberg and his brilliance. With a Rotten Tomatoes score of 92%, the latest Predator endeavor has surpassed its earlier installments, even the original 1987 Predator. Hence, it can be stated with a full assertion that the prequel has reinvigorated a franchise that was on the brink of death.
What makes the 2022 film stand apart from the other films in the franchise and how would it have fared if 20th Century Pictures aimed for a theatrical release? Chances are the Amber Midthunder-led attempt would not have sufficed, due to earlier mishaps of the franchise. It is a question of whether or not word of mouth would have been strong enough to make Prey a box-office hit.
The Power Of Word Of Mouth
When it comes to the well-received Predator prequel, many fans of the franchise were wary of this attempt at breathing new life into a dying series. Following the disappointment of The Predator (2018), fans wondered how Prey would manage to quip their interests. Many had expressed their presumed criticism of the film before it even saw the light of day, as having a female lead made certain folks ascertain that the franchise will depend on “woke propaganda.”
The Hulu film, which was released on August 5, 2022, utterly shocked the long-time audience beyond any comprehension. And frankly, in the best way possible. The future of the Predator franchise was changed in an instant. A big thanks to the film’s success also goes to the initial critics’ reviews which shaped people’s perception and promised a worthy premise to look out for.
People got pleasantly taken aback by the film, and its brilliance. As more people spoke up in a positive light, Prey got the attention of curious film connoisseurs and the otherwise disengaged Predator fans. The power of word of mouth and a tremendously positive reception cemented the future of the franchise. And who knows? The upcoming days may even witness a second installment to Prey itself. The Dan Trachtenberg-directed film has finally and successfully achieved what previous successors to the original 1987 film couldn’t.
What If Prey Was Released In Theatres?
Word of mouth may not always be enough for a theatrical release. The history of film has witnessed many such endeavors where even excellent storytelling and a marvelous character progression could not do much for a box-office hit. Many film analysts believe that Prey having a theatrical release would’ve been beneficial amidst what people are calling a slow month of box-office endeavors. Only with the release of Bullet Train, featuring Brad Pitt, has August managed to create some box-office buzz.
Under such circumstances, a movie like Hulu’s Prey could have presumably become a huge breakout success this month at the box office. However, these are just assumptions of a “what if” scenario. Looking at it from an empirical perspective, the earlier Predator releases may have been a potential hindrance to Prey’s theatrical release. But why so?
The History Of Predator Films
Let’s take a brief look at the franchise’s history. With the first film, the franchise truly cemented itself on what it could promise for its future. It was a critically acclaimed box-office hit, and the audience of that time thoroughly enjoyed the premise. The film was so successful that it surpassed its initial budget in box-office earnings by a huge mile. The future seemed promising. Alas, the sequel to the first film, Predator 2, was a fluke in comparison to its first installment. At the box office, the result was subpar.
Then came a period where the franchise could barely survive, with no movies being made. This followed for years until some reinvigorated hope for the franchise came with the release of Aliens vs. Predator. However, on its own, Predator still required a stand-alone bounce back. With the release of Predators in 2010, the franchise did see a favorable box office outcome but it wasn’t exactly the kind of hit big production companies look forward to. Then, in 2018, came the seemingly final blow to the franchise: The Predator. While international fare was great, it couldn’t manage to garner itself the status of a domestic box office hit.
The budget for The Predator was far greater than the returns. The franchise was supposedly on its last leg… until, of course, now.
While we will never know what would’ve happened to Prey if it aimed for a theatrical release, it can be assumed that the prequel would’ve fared a similar return much like the earlier Predator releases. Could it have surpassed the opening weekend of Bullet Train? Maybe, maybe not. Irrespective of how the opening weekend would’ve been, the question depends on whether or not the film could have managed to cement its worth in the upcoming weeks at the box office. The Hulu film’s word-of-mouth might have been its strongest advantage, as that would encourage more viewers to buy the tickets.
However, with the convenience of an OTT release, would people have gone to the theatres in the first place? Perhaps, in the following weeks. There has also recently been a trend where movie-goers, as ironic as it is, strictly prefer the consumption of content from the comfort of their homes. Hence, presumably, a streaming release is the definitive better choice. Then again, perhaps the slowness of August films and the strong critic’s reception may have given Prey an edge. Maybe, that would have been a reason strong enough to garner an actual movie-going audience.
What can be ascertained, though, is the fact that the Amber Midthunder-led film has clearly surpassed its predecessors and maybe, would’ve been a better fare at the box office in comparison to the other installments of the franchise.
What the future brings for Predator is yet to be seen. Maybe the fans would be rewarded with a theatrical release for a potential sequel to Prey. And perhaps, Dan Trachtenberg will usher in a new and better age of Predator films. Only time can tell.