VOD Success for ‘Grinch’ and ‘Elf’ Suggests a New Streaming Future for Holiday Favorites

Older titles ruled this week's chart, including a trio of holiday faves whose success might inspire some fresh appraisals by their home studios.
"The Grinch"
"The Grinch"

It was a thin week on the video on demand charts: only 13 different titles, a record low, placed on the three VOD lists we follow and track. And while holdover successes like “No Time to Die” (United Artists/$19.99) and “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” (Sony/$19.99) returned to their #1 positions, the real story this week is the ongoing success of three “holiday classics.”

Though each film has placed on the VOD charts in recent weeks, these three older family-oriented titles — including “The Grinch,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” and “Elf” — are currently at their highest level of audience interest. “The Grinch” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (Universal/both $3.99) both placed among the top six films at Apple TV/iTunes, Google Play, and Vudu. The Will Ferrell-starring “Elf” (Warner Bros./$3.99) clocks in lower, but also appears  on all three. And, as Vudu ranks its titles by revenue intake, the films’ relatively low price points suggests an across-the-board level of elevated interest, particularly when pitted against newer films at higher prices.

Audiences seem unbothered by the relative age of the titles, or the fact that neither the “Grinch” series nor the standalone “Elf” are likely to get sequels in the coming years. And yet the clear public taste for both could suggest that their respective studios might have reason to recreate them. In particular, Universal’s Peacock and Warner Bros.’ HBO Max are hungry for home-owned IPs that have proven appeal, and whether “The Grinch” or “Elf” sequels could ever rebound as theatrical prospects seems unlikely. Fresh streaming content ideas, they are a-calling.

These holiday titles are, however, not alone on the VOD charts when it comes to older titles at a cheaper price; such films took 11 of the total 30 slots. Throw in a strong early showing for “The Hating Game” (Vertical/$6.99), #3 at Apple TV/iTunes and #4 at Google (it placed just under the top ten at Vudu, likely because its full-week chart only covers three days of its release), and nearly half of the positions for last week’s chart go to films that are older or have had only a token theatrical footprint.

“The Hating Game”

“The Hating Game,” a rom-com about rival co-workers who find attraction as they compete for a promotion, grossed under $5,000 in ten theaters in its debut this weekend. The film may not have been totally under the radar (IndieWire offered it a positive review), but it clearly made for a successful impulse rental, despite limited marketing or big name stars.

The interest in library titles even extended to a five-pack of “Ice Age” features (Universal/$4.99) actually listed as #1 at Google Play, ahead of all the individual titles we list. Among the recent theatrical releases the order rearranged, led by the Bond film returning to #1 on two lists, while “Venom” continues atop Googleplay. “No Time to Die” was boosted by its initial availability to buy; previously the film was rental only.

Both “The Last Duel” (Sony/$19.99) and “Dune” (Warner Bros./$19.99) dropped from initially higher slots last week. Ridley Scott’s medieval epic (still inexplicably missing from any listing at GooglePlay) fell to mid-range. It had been #1 at Google Play/iTunes last week. “Dune,” which earlier had five weeks home play for Max subscribers and is still in theaters, understandably doesn’t have the outstanding potential audience other hits have had.

While the other VOD charts saw mostly rearrangement as this week’s norm, Netflix had a major overhaul. The headlines are that the Sandra Bullock-starring original “The Unforgivable” a first-day #1, while Jane Campion’s “The Power of the Dog,” which initially had a full week leading the chart, has already dropped off. This is not unusual for the streamer, though it is a quicker fall than other recent films like Halle Berry’s “Bruised,” which at least stuck around for two weeks. In fact, only their very expensive all-star “Red Notice” is the only title among last week’s top five that is still listed.

Sony has no in-house streaming outlet, so their deal with Netflix continues to bear fruit. “The Shack” with Octavia Spencer, “Peter Rabbit 2,” and “The Stepmom” all popped up on their top ten this week.

Apple TV/iTunes and Google Play rank films daily by number of transactions, irrespective of revenue accrued. These are the listings for December 13. Distributors listed are current rights owners.

Apple TV/iTunes

1. No Time to Die (United Artists) – $19.99

2. The Grinch (Universal) – $3.99

3. The Hating Game (Vertical) – $6.99

4. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Universal) – $3.99

5. The Last Duel (Disney) – $19.99

6. Venom: Let There Be Carnage (Sony) – $19.99

7. Dune (Warner Bros.) – $24.99

8. Elf (Warner Bros.) – $3.99

9. Free Guy (Disney) – $5.99

10. Love Actually (Universal) – $3.99

Google Play

1. Venom: Let There Will Be Carnage (Sony) – $19.99

2. No Time to Die (United Artists) – $19.99

3. Free Guy (Disney) – $5.99

4. The Hating Game (Vertical) – $6.99

5. The Grinch (Universal) – $3.99

6. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Universal) – $3.99

7. Dune (Warner Bros.) – $24.99

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

9. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (Disney) – $5.99

10. Elf (Warner Bros.) – $3.99


Vudu ranks by revenue, not transactions, which elevates Premium VOD titles. This list covers  December 6 – 12

1. No Time to Die (United Artists) – $19.99

2. Venom: Let There Be Carnage (Sony) – $19.99

3. Dune (Universal) – $24.99

4. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Universal) – $3.99

5. The Grinch (Universal) – $3.99

6. The Last Duel (Disney) – $19.99

7. Copshop (Briarcliff) – $5.99

8. Free Guy (Disney) – $5.99

9. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (Disney) – $19.99

10. Elf (Warner Bros.) – $3.99

Netflix Movies

Most viewed, current ranking as of Monday, December 13; originals include both Netflix-produced and -acquired titles they initially presented in the U.S.

1. The Unforgivable (2021 Netflix original)

2. The Shack (2017 theatrical release)

3. Back to the Outback (2021 Netflix animated original)

4. Law Abiding Citizen (2009 theatrical release)

5. Peter Rabbit 2 (2021 theatrical release)

6. Red Notice (2021 Netflix original)

7. The Cat in the Hat (2003 theatrical release)

8. A Boy Called Christmas (2021 Netflix original)

9. The Christmas Chronicles (2018 Netflix original)

10. Stepmom (1998 theatrical release)

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