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.
Christopher Nolan’s Tenet is set to open a day more than a month now, on the September 3rd Labor Day weekend (although, it will open a few days sooner in 70 other countries). Given Warner Brothers’ decision to do a rolling open as theaters open up around the country, and its decision to schedule it in the United States knowing that the pandemic will not be appreciable better by then, this all feels like it is almost set in stone.
Honestly, Tenet can’t come soon enough for those of us starved for good movies, because — aside from Disney+’s Friday release of Beyonce’s Black Is King, which undoubtedly did well with subscribers like Hamilton did — the situation is getting dire for at-home movie offerings. How dire? Six weeks after its VOD debut, a poorly reviewed Kevin Bacon and Amanda Seyfried film that would have opened on VOD in the best of times is the top film on both Fandango and iTunes. I honestly have no idea why You Should Have Left has suddenly risen to the top spot, although I very much doubt that it is word of mouth, since it boasts only a 41 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes (and an even more miserable 25 percent audience score).
There’s not that much to speak of in the rest of the VOD charts, either. Dave Franco’s The Rental continues to do well on iTunes, sitting at number four (and it is very good). Meanwhile, on the Fandango charts, the sequel to 2018’s Deep Blue Sea 2 opens on VOD at number three. Deep Blue Sea 3 comes two years after Deep Blue Sea 2, which came 19 years after the original.
In the seventh spot on iTunes is The Secret: Dare to Dream starring Katie Holmes and Josh Lucas, which looks like a Lifetime Network reject (side note: I had no idea it was based on the bestselling self-help book, The Secret). It scored 26 percent on RT with critics, but a whopping 97 percent with audiences, although it’s a very small sampling of both. Meanwhile, Yes, God, Yes, which I have heard very good things about, is at number eight on the iTunes rental chart (and it sits at 93 percent on Rotten Tomatoes).
Aside from Netflix, the other streaming networks don’t have anything particularly noteworthy, although one of the most criminally overlooked movies of this century, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, was recently added to HBO Max, and it is more than worth a look. It is a terrific film with one of the most impressive casts ever assembled. Peacock has a decent roster of films to choose from, as well. However, the movie I watched this weekend on the new streamer was Spellbound, Jeffrey Blitz’s 2002 spelling-bee documentary made available for the first time ever on a streaming network (to my knowledge, anyway). It holds up incredibly well.
Where it’s particularly depressing this weekend is in the Netflix top five, which doesn’t have a single decent movie for a reasonably intelligent person over the age of 18. Kissing Booth 2 continues to lead the way followed by the animated Animal Crackers. Kevin James’ Zookeeper is inexplicably at number three, despite being one of the worst films I have ever seen. Number four is the original The Kissing Booth followed by a new Netflix animated original, Latte and the Magic Waterstone, which has no buzz on it and only one review on Rotten Tomatoes, a rotten one from The NYTimes, which calls it “unimaginatively simple.”
Next weekend, at least, there is something to look forward to in Seth Rogen’s American Pickle on HBO Max. Unfortunately, that’s about it, and the rest of August similarly looks barren.