During the current worldwide pandemic, movie studios are no longer providing box-office figures because theaters have been shut down around the nation and the world. Because we are less interested in the actual figures themselves and more interested in what people are watching over the weekends, each week we will dive into Most Streamed and Bestseller Lists on Fandango, iTunes, Netflix, and Hulu to pinpoint the weekend’s most watched films.
While Christopher Nolan has been angling over the course of the pandemic to make Tenet the first major release after theaters reopen, the much smaller Solstice Studios has been planning all along to open Russell Crowe’s Unhinged two weekends before Tenet as a sort of test case for theaters. We are now less than two weeks away from the release of Unhinged, which I suspect will be when we start to finally get some real box-office numbers.
In the meantime, theater openings continue to progress in China. Now in its third weekend of release, Robert Downey Jr’s Dolittle, which was a bomb in the states, is now the top film of 2020 in China. Granted, it has only earned $15.4 million, and it only had to surpass the animated Spies in Disguise (a Christmas release in America), but at least RDJ can brag — for now — that he has the top movie of the year in the country with the second biggest box office in the world. In the meantime, the Interstellar reissue also opened in China as a tease for Tenet (and will also do so here in two weeks), and it earned $10 million at the box office, which is not bad for being in the middle of a pandemic.
Back in the states, it’s another fairly ho-hum week on the VOD and Netflix charts, as most of the buzz this weekend has been occupied by Seth Rogen’s American Pickle, which HBO Max snatched away from theaters to make available to home viewers (having seen it, it feels like a movie far more suited to the couch than the big screen, anyway). Critics so far have given it strong scores (75 percent), although audiences aren’t as keen on it (48 percent audience score). When a critical and audience split is that wide it is usually because the movie provides something that audiences aren’t expecting, and for those expecting a traditional, raunchy Seth Rogen comedy, American Pickle is decidedly not that — it is far more low-key and sweet than the comedies we typically associate with Rogen.
On the other streamers, Beyonce’s Black is King is no doubt continuing to play well on Disney+; it doesn’t appear anything has come along on Hulu to supplant Palm Springs as its top movie; and while it is hard to say what the top movie is on Peacock, The Big Lebowski is the top featured film on the service at the moment.
Meanwhile, on the VOD charts, Shia LaBeouf’s Tax Collector has taken the top spot on iTunes despite bad reviews (21 percent on RT) and some controversy surrounding the casting of LaBeouf in the David Ayer film. I haven’t seen the film yet, but I like to imagine that it belongs in the same universe as Ben Affleck’s The Accountant, and that the third in the series will be, The Insurance Adjuster.
Meanwhile, Capone jumped to number two on iTunes thanks to the $.99 rental charge, followed by The Outpost and Trolls World Tour. In at number five is Made in Italy, a film starring Liam Neeson and his son with his late wife, Natasha Richardson, Michael Richardson (reviews have been modest, 56 percent on RT).
On Fandango’s VOD charts, meanwhile, Katie Holmes’ The Secret: Dare to Dream — based on the self-help book, The Secret, is now the top film, despite being terrible. There’s not much else to report on that chart (Kevin Bacon’s You Should Have Left is number two followed again by Deep Blue Sea 3), except for those wondering what happened to Josh Hartnett. This mustache happened to Josh Hartnett, whose Most Wanted is #16 on the charts.
Finally, the Netflix charts this weekend are just weird, and very kid-and-teen friendly. The top film is a Netflix original dance film, Work It, which actually has very good reviews (80 percent on RT) based on a limited review count (15). 1993’s Dennis the Menace is number two, for some reason, followed by the original Jurassic Park (another 1993 movie), a Netflix original for kids called Malibu Rescue: The Next Wave and then Adam Sandler’s Mr. Deeds
Mid-August is usually dog days for films during normal times, and that hasn’t changed during the pandemic. Next weekend’s big feature film? Project Power on Netflix, starring Jamie Foxx, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Dominique Fishback. It’s about a magic pill that gives you superpowers … for five minutes.