Nearly three weeks later, “Downton Abbey” has trounced them them all, grossing $137 million worldwide. On the surface, it seems like an oddity: How did the Countess of Grantham hold her own against a well-trod genre franchise and one of the last remaining movie stars?
The answer may be that the dowager had a first-mover advantage. TV dramas could become a primary source of what fuels box office today: Audiences responding to familiar concepts in slightly unfamiliar circumstances.
It’s a sentiment that Netflix will also test with this weekend’s theatrical release of “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie,” which will happen day and date with its October 11 Netflix premiere.