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‘Respect’ Gets an Earlier Than Expected PVOD Release — and a Strong Initial Response

"Respect" is both the name of Aretha Franklin's biopic and a description of how distributors feel about early Premium VOD — it helps them.

Respect

“Respect”

MGM/UA

Respect” (United Artists/$19.99) was released on the big screen on August 13 to high praise for Jennifer Hudson’s portrayal of Aretha Franklin but a disappointing gross of $17 million in its first two weeks of play in over 3,200 theaters. That meant the film got an unusually quick transition to home platforms on August 27. Early results show the film could return a higher amount to the distributor that way than via its theater play.

The biopic, appealing primarily to an older audience, and thus more of a challenge for getting people in seats, added Premium VOD on Friday. It is #2 on iTunes, trailing only the much cheaper “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” (Lionsgate/$5.99) in total number of transactions. Google Play, which usually lags a day or two in capturing activity, has it at #4. Vudu, which calculates by revenue, places it at #3 for the seven day period ending Sunday, but #1 over the weekend.

The quick transition to home viewing shows again that with the exception of Universal (which has a nearly inviolable policy of Premium VOD release after the third weekend for most titles), flexibility and a case-by-case policy remains an option for most distributors. And that’s even reinforced by disappointing theatrical performers, which can cash in on the marketing from theater play via a very quick availability at home. It can be a smart way to improve a struggling film’s financial results. And with the return higher to the studio from PVOD — the normal take is 80 percent of $19.99 — the $55 million budgeted “Respect” has a better chance of eventually breaking even.

“The Green Knight” (A24/$19.99) and “Stillwater” (Focus/$19.99) added PVOD after three weekends, with Focus as part of Universal’s three-weekend plan. This overall remains an unsettled issue, particularly with consumers, who can’t be expected to know when to anticipate home platforms when a film is released to theaters. “Free Guy” (Disney) has clearly been helped by the emphasis on a longer window in media reports and in part of the studio’s marketing. But it is easier to break through to the public for one hit film than for every one of the (often multiple) new releases each week. And this trend toward quick transition has to enter into decisions by some potential ticket buyers about whether to venture into theaters.

Vudu, which always has a higher-cost PVOD release at #1 since it calculates based on revenue not purchases, has “Snake Eyes” (Paramount/$19.99) repeating for their full-week rankings. It, along with “Respect,” “The Green Knight,” “Wrath of Man” (United Artists/$5.99), and “F9” (Universal/$19.99), placed on all three charts. Overall, continuing a recent trend toward a small number of films seen last week, only 14 films charted on at least one list.

“No Man of God” (RLJE/$6.99) and “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It” (Warner Bros./$19.99) were the only other two new entries. “No Man,” #8 on iTunes, a direct-to-VOD release after its premiere at Tribeca 2021, stars Elijah Wood as an FBI agent who gets serial killer Ted Bundy to reveal details about his murders. “The Conjuring,” consistent with other Warner Bros. titles that debuted in theaters and HBO Max at the same time, is out on other platforms a few weeks after leaving streaming. It placed #5 at Vudu.

The Green Knight

“The Green Knight”

Courtesy of A24

In its second week on PVOD, “The Green Knight” placed on three lists to just two for “Stillwater.” However on the two that had both films, “Stillwater” ranked higher. The Matt Damon drama was #3 at iTunes, and actually did manage to be ahead of “Knight” at Vudu, where both charted.

Netflix’s top 10 again showed heavy turnover. Their two highest originals were the gender-flipped comedy remake “He’s All That” immediately reaching #1, while “Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal and Greed,” a documentary about the painter who starred on PBS for years before his death in 1995 is #4. The latter has seen interest increased by reports of controversy from some of his associates about the portrayal.

New this week, at #2, is “SAS: Rise of the Black Swan,” an earlier VOD action release from Britain about an attempt to hijack a train under the English channel. A cast including Sam Heughan (“Outlander”) likely enhanced its appeal.

Of note: “The Kissing Booth 3,” the third in Netflix’s rom-com franchise, dropped off the chart after only two weeks. Meanwhile, their animated “Vivo” is still at #6 at the end of its third week of viewing.

iTunes and Google Play rank films daily by number of transactions, irrespective of revenue accrued. These are the listings for Monday, August 30. Distributors listed are current rights owners.

iTunes

1. The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (Lionsgate) – $5.99

2. Respect (United Artists) – $19.99

3. Stillwater (Focus) – $19.99

4. The Green Knight (A24) – $19.99

5. Snake Eyes (Paramount) – $19.99

6. Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway (Sony) – $4.99

7. Spider-Man: Far from Home (Sony) – $3.99

8. No Man of God (RLJE) – $6.99

9. Wrath of Man (United Artists) – $5.99

10. F9 (Universal) – $19.99

Google Play

1. The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (Lionsgate) – $5.99

2. A Quiet Place Part II (Paramount) – $4.99

3. F9 (Universal) – $19.99

4. Respect (United Artists) – $19.99

5. Snake Eyes (Paramount) – $19.99

6. The Green Knight (A24) – $19.99

7. Spider-Man: Far from Home (Sony) – $3.99

8. Wrath of Man (United Artists) – $5.99

9. Black Widow (Disney) – $29.99

10. Mortal Kombat (Warner Bros.) – $5.99

Vudu

Vudu ranks by revenue earned, not transactions, which elevates Premium VOD titles. This list covers August 23-29

1. Snake Eyes (Paramount) – $19.99

2. Black Widow (Disney) – $29.99

3. Respect (United Artists) – $19.99

4. F9 (Universal) – $19.99

5. The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (Warner Bros.) – $19.99

6. Stillwater (Focus) – $19.99

7. The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (Lionsgate) – $5.99

8. Peter Rabbit 2 (Sony) – $5.99

9. The Green Knight (A24) – $19.99

10. Wrath of Man (United Artists) – $5.99

HE'S ALL THAT (L to R) TANNER BUCHANAN as CAMERON KWELLER and ADDISON RAE as PADGETT SAWYER in HE'S ALL THAT. Cr. KEVIN ESTRADA/NETFLIX © 2021

“He’s All That”

KEVIN ESTRADA/NETFLIX © 2021

Netflix Movies

Most viewed, current ranking as of Monday, August 30; originals include both Netflix-produced and Netflix-acquired titles they initially presented in the U.S.

1. He’s All That (2021 Netflix original)

2. SAS: Rise of the Black Swan (2021 VOD release)

3. Sweet Girl (2021 Netflix original)

4. Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed (2021 Netflix original documentary)

5. The Loud House Movie (2021 Netflix animated original)

6. Vivo (2021 animated Netflix original)

7. The Old Ways (2020 festival premiere)

8. The Water Man (2021 theatrical release)

9. The November Man (2014 theatrical release)

10. Really Love (2020 festival premiere)

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