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On PVOD, It’s ‘Spider-Man’ vs. ‘The Batman’ — but Maybe You’d Like a Nice HBO Max Subscription Instead?

"The Batman" dropped on HBO Max April 18 — the same day as PVOD, where it arrived without advance promotion or presale. That's intentional, but is it a smart strategy?

"the Batman"

“The Batman”

Jonathan Olley

Marvel and D.C. Comics will never team their two biggest superheroes, but this week sees Spider-Man and Batman go head to head at home. “The Batman” (Warner Bros./$29.99) is likely to displace “Spider-Man: No Way Home” (Sony/$19.99) as the #1 title on PVOD charts next week.

“Spider-Man” is #1 again for the fifth week on all three charts we follow, an unprecedented achievement and one that “The Batman” will not repeat. It’s the top-grossing film of 2022, but at $365 million that’s less than half of Marvel’s 2021 monster hit. “The Batman” also has more competition, and not just from upcoming releases like “Uncharted” and “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”

Its biggest competition is itself: Warners announced last week that the film would debut on HBO Max April 18. That’s the same day it became available on PVOD, but Warners provided no promotion for its same-day availability.

From a marketing perspective, Warners’ biggest film of the year is a major boost for its subscriber base. However, PVOD at $29.99 means more than $20 per purchase and ensures short-term financial gain along with separate hoped for revenue for their streamer with current and new subscribers. At $29.99, buyers can own the film as a digital download, usually not an initial option. The title was not available for presale, which only adds to consumer confusion.

Here’s one indication that the studio’s split-the-difference strategy has its drawbacks: As of Tuesday morning, iTunes shows “The Batman” as #2; shortly after its debut 24 hours earlier, it was #4. “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is still #1. It would be surprising if “The Batman” isn’t an across-the-board #1 next week, although that’s not a certainty; “Spider-Man” has no streaming alternative.

SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME, from left: Zendaya, Tom Holland as Spider-Man, 2021. ph: Matt Kennedy / © Sony Pictures Releasing / © Marvel Entertainment / Courtesy Everett Collection

“Spider-Man: No Way Home”

©Sony Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

Besides “Spider-Man,” two other films repeated their placement this week with near-permanent fixture “Sing 2” (Universal/$5.99) and “Moonfall” (Lionsgate/$19.99). There’s also the oddball selection of Antoine Fuqua’s “Infinite” (Paramount/$2.99), which skipped theaters last year; it saw placements at #2 and #3. The sci-fi thriller starring Mark Wahlberg (star and producer of “Father Stu,” now in theaters with mediocre results) is thriving at a reduced price. That makes its #3 spot at Vudu particularly impressive; $2.99 is a disadvantage for a platform that charts by revenue.

“X” (A24/$19.99) is the other new entry, showing up at Google Play and Vudu (it placed at iTunes earlier in the week). This came after four weekends in theatrical play.

The British horror film and Netflix Original “Choose or Die” starring Asa Butterfield and Robert Englund scored an immediate #1 at the streamer. Among the “new” recycled theatricals on the chart were

“New” recycled theatrical entries from their version of cineplex from hell include “Hop” (Metacritic: 41), “Cleaner” (49), and “Ouija: Origin of Evil” (65). Joining them was “The Taming of the Shrewd,” a Polish original rom-com starring Magdalena Lamparska, whom you might recall as the star of Netflix’s hit erotic kidnapping drama “365 Days” last year.

The most recent Netflix Original breakout, “The Adam Project” from Shawn Levy, returned to the top 10. Normally, even its biggest originals tend to drop from the charts never to be seen again.

iTunes and Google Play rank films daily by number of transactions. These are the listings for April 18. Distributors listed are current rights owners.

iTunes

1. Spider-Man: No Way Home (Sony) – $19.99

2. Infinite (Paramount) – $2.99

3. Sing 2 (Universal) – $5.99

4. The Batman (Warner Bros.) – $29.99

5. The Ten Commandments (Paramount) – $4.99

6. Moonfall (Lionsgate) – $19.99

7. The Passion of the Christ (Goldwyn) – $3.99

8. Marry Me (Universal) – $5.99

9. The Contractor (Paramount) – $19.99

10. House of Gucci (United Artists) – $5.99

Google Play

1. Spider-Man: No Way Home (Sony) – $19.99

2. Sing 2 (Universal) – $5.99

3. Infinite (Paramount) – $2.99

4. Ghostbusters: Afterlife (Sony) – $5.99

5. Venom: Let There Be Carnage (Sony) – $5.99

6. Sonic the Hedgehog (Paramount) – $2.99

7. Moonfall (Lionsgate) – $19.99

8. X (A24) – $19.99

9. Dog (United Artists) – $19.99

10. The Matrix Resurrections (Warner Bros.) – $5.99

Vudu

Vudu ranks by revenue, not transactions, which elevates Premium VOD titles. This list covers April 11-17

1. Spider-Man: No Way Home (Sony) – $19.99

2. Moonfall (Lionsgate) – $19.99

3. Infinite (Paramount) – $2.99

4. Sing 2 (Universal) – $5.99

5. The Contractor (Paramount) – $19.99

6. Dog (United Artists) – $19.99

7. X (A24) – $19.99

8. The Outfit (Focus) – $19.99

9. Jackass Forever (Paramount) – $19.99

10. Marry Me (Universal) – $5.99

CHOOSE OR DIE. Iola Evans as Kayla in Choose or Die. Cr. © CURSR FILMS LIMITED 2022

“Choose or Die”

© CURSR FILMS LIMITED 2022

Netflix Movies

Most viewed, current ranking on Netflix’s daily chart on Monday, April 18; originals include both Netflix-produced and -acquired titles they initially presented in the U.S. Netflix publishes its own weekly top ten on Tuesdays based on time viewed.

1. Choose or Die (2022 British Netflix original)

2. Hop (2011 theatrical release)

3. Cleaner (2007 theatrical release)

4. The Call (2013 theatrical release)

5. Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016 theatrical release)

6. The Adam Project (2022 Netflix original)

7. Shrek Forever After (2010 theatrical release)

8. The Taming of the Shrewd (2022 Netflix original)

9. Without a Paddle (2004 theatrical release)

10. The Blind Side (2009 theatrical release)

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