This week’s home viewing results are anything but static. Three new to Premium VOD offerings, all released in theaters in the past month, did well, led by “Snake Eyes” (Paramount/$19.99), available after its fourth weekend. “Stillwater” (Focus/$19.99) and “The Green Knight” (A24/$19.99) both also got immediate interest, each after three weekends of exclusive theater play.
Though these films added freshness, the overall results on iTunes and Google Play (both ranking by number of transactions irrespective of price), and Vudu (which calculates by total revenue, favoring the more expensive Premium VOD releases) include only 13 titles. That’s the fewest seen since we started listing the results. This suggests that consumers might be narrowing their choice of what to watch, or maybe it’s just a result of a high number of popular titles that have broad appeal at the moment.
Eight films made all three, with “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” (Lionsgate/$6.99) #1 on two. “A Quiet Place Part II” (Paramount/$4.99), “F9” (Universal/$19.99), “Black Widow” (Disney/$29.99), and “Wrath of Man” (United Artists/$6.99) complete the list of titles that placed on all of the charts.
Only chart positions are available to us, not volume of purchases. But increasingly it appears that within VOD releases, there are two distinct release patterns, each possibly returning revenue to studios (who retain a higher percentage from VOD than theaters pay in film rentals). Only they know the exact numbers, but it appears the public — and possibly not always overlapping segments — respond at different times to recent releases. One core element of course is the initial theater play elevating them.
Disney, as part of its counterattack on Scarlett Johansson’s claims of contract violation and alleged potential loss of pay, revealed new results for “Black Widow.” Along with its $370 million box office take so far, it says the film has taken in an additional $125 million in streaming revenue. Their return for this will be far higher a share than that from theaters, possibly equivalent to a $600 million or higher box office total. This sort of calculation is risky, because apart from being imprecise, we are uncertain of film rental terms, as well as what remaining streaming revenues exist for the film compared to what the total might have been for a pre-Covid release strategy. Still, it’s a crumb for hungry box office analysts to ponder.
“Snake Eyes” appearing on streaming so soon was a surprise. Theaters were alerted after the third weekend (normally they are informed of the likely date before release), with sources indicating that objections were muted, since by this point most were pulling the low grossing film. It does suggest that the studio, which emphasized a 45-day window for streaming on Paramount Plus — with for many the implication that that would be the initial date for ending theater exclusivity — craves the bounty available with early PVOD. The film’s initial response (#1 at Vudu, top five elsewhere, though it opened midweek at #1 at iTunes) validates the thought that even a flop will get a response with an early release.
“Stillwater” was expected after three weeks, per its PVOD plan from Focus (part of Universal). “The Green Knight” was not publicly announced as going this early, though theaters were told in advance. For more specialized titles like these, getting out early close to the initial marketing is critical, and the initial response again shows the logic. The two films ranked closely, with “Stillwater” at this point doing slightly better. The key, even more than in-theater performance, is whether they can sustain multi-week interest.
Whether Netflix programs new originals with an eye to competing with theaters and VOD, or what rival platforms show (Apple now in the second week of “CODA,” Amazon Prime new with “Annette,” “PAW Patrol” on Paramount Plus same day as theaters all had an unknown response), they are out in force with eight of their top 10 movies all home-grown or at least initial domestic premieres.
CLAY ENOS/NETFLIX © 2021
Leading the Netflix pack is “Sweet Girl” starring Jason Momoa. Here he ventures beyond his comic book and fantasy characters to play a man seeking justice after his wife dies because a drug company makes a fatal decision. His actions place his daughter in jeopardy, putting this firmly in the genre of family-death revenge thrillers that have been a staple of theaters and now streaming for some time.
But right behind — perhaps timed to counter “PAW Patrol” — is “The Loud House Movie,” like “PAW” a feature version of an animated TV series with roots in Nickelodeon. “Vivo,” also a cartoon original, is having sustained interest, at #3 in its third week.
Of note is that “The Killing Booth 3,” a live-action Netflix franchise, dropped to #4 quickly after debuting at #1 last week. The streamer has not yet mastered the art of sequels beyond immediate interest, so it will be interesting to see if they continue with them. “Beckett,” their American tourist-in-peril drama with John David Washington, #1 the previous weekend in its debut, dropped to #5. It’s not exactly an embarrassment of riches, but in a week where three of the four new theatrical releases all failed to gross over $3 million in the U.S./Canada (roughly 300,000 or fewer customers each), it’s possible they are all good enough to make potential theatergoers figure they might as well stay home.
iTunes and Google Play rank films daily by number of transactions, irrespective of revenue accrued. These are the listings for Monday, August 23. Distributors listed are current rights owners.
1. The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (Lionsgate) – $6.99
2. Stillwater (Focus) – $19.99
3. The Green Knight (A24) – $19.99
4. Snake Eyes (Paramount) – $19.99
5. The Courier (Roadside Attractions) – $0.99
6. A Quiet Place Part II (Paramount) – $4.99
7. F9 (Universal) – $19.99
8. Black Widow (Disney) – $29.99
9. Wrath of Man (United Artists) – $5.99
10. Pig (Neon) – $5.99
1. The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (Lionsgate) – $19.99
2. A Quiet Place Part II (Paramount) – $4.99
3. F9 (Universal) – $19.99
4. The Green Knight (A24) – $19.99
5. Snake Eyes (Paramount) – $19.99
6. Wrath of Man (United Artists) – $5.99
7. Black Widow (Disney) – $29.99
8. Stillwater (Focus) – $19.99
9. Mortal Kombat (Warner Bros.) – $5.99
10. Pig (Neon) – $6.99
Vudu ranks by revenue earned, not transactions, which elevates Premium VOD titles. This list covers August 16-22
1. Snake Eyes (Paramount) – $19.99
2. Black Widow (Disney) – $29.99
3. The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (Lionsgate) – $6.99
4. F9 (Universal) – $19.99
5. Stillwater (Focus) – $19.99
6. The Green Knight (A24) – $19.99
7. Cruella (Disney) – $29.99
8. A Quiet Place Part II (Paramount) – $4.99
9. The Forever Purge (Universal) – $19.99
10. Wrath of Man (United Artists) – $5.99
Most viewed, current ranking as of Monday, August 23; originals include both Netflix-produced and Netflix-acquired titles they initially presented in the U.S.
1. Sweet Girl (2021 Netflix original)
2. The Loud House Movie (2021 Netflix animated original)
3. Vivo (2021 animated Netflix original)
4. The Kissing Booth 3 (2021 Netflix original)
5. Beckett (2021 Netflix original)
6. Memories of a Murderer: The Nilsen Tapes (2021 Netflix original documentary)
7. The Vault (2021 VOD release)
8. Walk of Shame (2014 theatrical release)
9. Black Island (2021 Netflix German original)
10. Major Payne (1995 theatrical release)