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‘Cruella’ Takes the ‘Mugen Train’ on ‘The Ice Road’: VOD Diversity Dominates the Movie Business

While "F9" boosts theaters, action is intense on home platforms. Liam Neeson joins Kevin Hart as movie mainstays now starring at Netflix.

THE ICE ROAD (L-R): BENJAMIN WALKER SCODELARIO-DAVIS as VARNAY, AMBER THUNDER ROSE MIDTHUNDER as TANTOO, MARCUS THOMAS as GURTY, LIAM NEESON as MIKE. CR: NETFLIX © 2021

“The Ice Road”

ALLEN FRASER/NETFLIX © 2021

This weekend, the strong $70 million opening for “F9” dominated theatrical box office headlines. Streaming stories lack that clarity; opaque platform reporting makes it impossible for any single title to dominate. However, with fewer films released in theaters — two titles sold 77 percent of this weekend’s tickets — VOD’s diversity may reflect a greater share of the movie business.

This week saw standout performances for “Nobody” (Universal) and “Demon Slayer – Mugen Train” (Funimation) each taking two #1 spots on the four charts we track. Netflix’s $18 million domestic-only deal for Liam Neeson acquisition “The Ice Road” seems to have paid off with a top slot. Totals for Pixar’s “Luca” are unknown, but figure it is strong at Disney+; the studio’s “Cruella” also shows well as a new $29.99 Premium VOD.

Multiple platforms, prices, and stages of release all contribute to an industry in flux. Google results for “F9 Netflix” suggest that consumer confusion could contribute to reluctance to buy theater tickets. (As the first Universal release to exceed $50 million in its first weekend, “F9” is expected to go PVOD in late July.)

Bob Odenkirk as Hutch Mansell in "Nobody," directed by Ilya Naishuller.

“Nobody”

Allen Fraser/Unive

“Nobody,” which grossed $26 million in theaters, thrived for weeks as a $19.99 PVOD. Now at standard price, it returned to first or second across the board. With the additional exposure, what might have been a routine theatrical release now looks like a potential franchise

Sony offshoot Funimation’s “Demon Slayer – Mugen Train” was another sleeper, this one grossing $47 million in domestic theaters. Two months later, it’s a PVOD release at $14.99 and leads on two platforms, including one that scores by transactions.

Disney held back its PVOD release of “Cruella” with exclusive access for Disney+ subscribers who pay $29.99. The offer now extends to non-subscribers and the title placed at #2 on two charts, with a third at #3. It also has the #5 box-office position; with $71 million to date, it currently is the third biggest grosser of 2021.

“Nobody” and “Demon Slayer” showed on all four charts, along with “Godzilla vs. Kong” (Warner Bros./$19.99). After its third weekend in theaters, “Spirit Untamed” (Universal/$19.99) was the top new PVOD release, showing up at #3 and #5 on two charts that rank by revenue.

Gangster drama “Lansky” (Vertical/$6.99) starring Harvey Keitel had the best showing among original releases, including #3 at Apple TV/iTunes. The animated “Batman: The Long Halloween Part One” (Warner Bros./$19.99) is unusual among DC Comics spinoffs with its higher price. It’s #6 at FandangoNow.

Neeson’s two most recent theatrical releases, “The Honest Thief” and “The Marksman,” were top VOD titles in the last six months. Now Netflix has “The Ice Road” and as expected it was an immediate #1. It replaced “Fatherhood,” with Kevin Hart. Both these stars have been steady performers in theaters, with an easy transition to home premieres.

“Good on Paper”

Netflix

Also just out on Netflix is “Good on Paper,” written by and starring Netflix comedy special veteran Iliza Shlesinger. It’s an offbeat romantic comedy — the sort of project that studios can no longer afford to back.

Apple TV/iTunes and Google Play rank films daily by number of transactions, irrespective of revenue accrued. These are the listings for Monday, June 28.

Apple TV/iTunes

1. Nobody (Universal) – $5.99

2. Cruella (Disney) – $29.99

3. Lansky (Vertical) – $6.99

4. The Misfits (Avenue) – $6.99

5. The Courier (Roadside Attractions) – $5.99

6. The Dry (IFC) – $6.99

7. Demon Slayer – Mugen Train (Funimation) – $14.99

8. The Hitman’s Bodyguard (Lionsgate) – $3.99

9. The Marksman (Open Road) – $19.99

10. Godzilla vs. Kong (Warner Bros.) – $19.99

 

Google Play

1. Demon Slayer – Mugen Train (Funimation) – $14.99

2. Nobody (Universal) – $5.99

3. Wrath of Man (United Artists) – $19.99

4. A Quiet Place (Paramount) – $2.99

5. Godzilla vs. Kong (Warner Bros.) – $19.99

6. The Marksman (Open Road) – $5.99

7. Mortal Kombat (Warner Bros.) – $24.99

8. Raya and the Last Dragon (Disney) – $5.99

9. The Hitman’s Bodyguard (Lionsgate) – $3.99

10. Spiral: From the Book of Saw (Lionsgate) – $19.99

 

FandangoNow and Vudu rank by revenue earned, not transactions, which elevates Premium VOD titles. These listings cover June 21-27.

FandangoNOW

1. Nobody (Universal) – $5.99

2. Cruella (Disney) – $29.99

3. Spirit Untamed (Universal) – $19.99

4. Wrath of Man (United Artists) – $19.99

5. Demon Slayer – Mugen Train (Funimation) – $14.99

6. Godzilla vs. Kong (Warner Bros.) – $19.99

7. Spiral: From the Book of Saw (Lionsgate) – $19.99

8. Lansky (Vertical) – $6.99

9. The Misfits (Avenue) – $6.99

10. Mortal Kombat (Warner Bros.) – $24.99

 

Vudu

1. Demon Slayer – Mugen Train (Funimation) – $14.99

2. Nobody (Universal) – $5.99

3. Cruella (Disney) – $29.99

4. Godzilla vs. Kong (Warner Bros.) – $29.99

5. Spirit Unchained (Universal) – $19.99

6. Batman: The Long Halloween Part One (Warner Bros.) – $19.99

7. Wrath of Man (United Artists) – $19.99

8. Mortal Kombat (Warner Bros.) – $24.99

9. The Unholy (Sony) – $5.99

10. Spiral: From the Book of Saw (Lionsgate) – $19.99

 

Netflix Movies

Most viewed, current ranking as of Monday, June 28; originals include both Netflix-produced and Netflix-acquired titles.

1. The Ice Road (2021 Netflix original)

2. Fatherhood (2021 Netflix original)

3. Good on Paper (2021 Netflix original)

4. Wish Dragon (2021 Netflix Chinese animated original)

5. The Seventh Day (2021 VOD release)

6. Home (2015 animated theatrical release)

7. The Mitchells vs. the Machines (2021 Netflix animated original)

8. Dog Gone Trouble (2021 Netflix animated original)

9. Murder by the Coast (2021 Netflix Spanish original documentary)

10. Rurouni Kenshin: The Final (2021 Netflix Japanese original)

 

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