At this point, nearly all 2020 wide-release films — as well as key specialized titles — are either available for home viewing, or soon will be. And the initial impact is dramatic. Based on the charts at iTunes and Amazon Prime, which are updated daily, premium sales (largely priced at $19.99) are flying high.
Both charts show strong performances for Vin Diesel’s sci-fi cyborg revenge actioner “Bloodshot” (Sony) and for Pixar’s “Onward” (Disney); at iTunes, initial results also are strong for “Birds of Prey” (Warner Bros.).
All of this must come with a caveat: Unlike theater box-office revenue, which is verifiable and comes from independent sources, these charts are created without oversight. However, assuming that they accurately reflect consumer choices, they give a sense of what the shelter-in-place public is willing to pay for.
Here are what both services show today (March 26), the price, and the ranking the day prior. (Prices are the lowest available; lower ones usually are for 48 hour rentals).
iTunes (feature films only)
|3.||Birds of Prey||Warner Bros.||$19.99||2|
|6.||Jumanji: The Next Level||Sony||$5.99||5|
|7.||The Fittest||Gravitas Ventures||$4.99||8|
|10.||The Way Back||Warner Bros.||$19.99||–|
Amazon Prime (feature films only)
|2.||Jumanji: The Next Level||Sony||$5.99||2|
|4.||The Greatest Showman||Fox||$3.99||4|
|9.||Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker||Disney||$24.99||10|
The charts aren’t absolutes. It’s possible that Amazon’s list lags a day or more behind iTunes. (We’ve noticed that the latter seems to show a quicker response to new entries.) iTunes users also seem to have more willingness to spend on premium items. The two services may serve different demographics with Amazon possibly more mass market, less niche.
Universal was first, but not best. Universal was the first to announce, and release, their premium titles (“The Invisible Man,” “The Hunt,” and Focus’ “Emma”), but they found little to no Top 10 placement. The more recent offerings are doing much better.
The ground is moving, quickly. Figure all studios are ingesting this data already, and making plans accordingly. Exhibitors are grateful that the all-industry benefits in the congressional relief package apply to them. In the meantime, studios are still receiving a major influx of revenue.
What is “The Fittest”? It’s a two-hour documentary about the CrossFit games, a competition to select the fittest male and female athletes in the world. It had no theatrical play (IMDb still lists it as an April release), but Gravitas Ventures is usually a day/date release company. They clearly found gold with a competition/exercise interest audience to break through (at a slightly lower than normal price).
“1917” hit #1 at $5.99. The top placement on iTunes comes at the end of the film’s 90-day theatrical window, when the price dropped from two weeks of premium VOD pricing at $19.99.
“The Gentlemen” is $14.99. It’s the first new release to price slightly below $19.99. The just-announced dates of “The Call of the Wild” (Disney) at $14.99 and “Downhill” (Searchlight) at $9.99 suggest distributors are experimenting. Previously, the understanding with theaters had been $19.99 or higher was the lowest price for 75-day window premium releases. For now, those rules have changed.
Disney makes money hand over fist. It continues to accrue revenue even when cheaper alternatives exist. “Frozen II” is already on Disney+, streamed free for subscribers, and “Onward” will soon land there as well.
Low-cost titles rank high. Amid the new releases, older films are rating high. Steven Soderbergh’s 2011 “Contagion” also places close to the top 10 on Amazon as well as higher on iTunes, and “The Greatest Showman” continues to click at Amazon with its family appeal.