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.
It’s still unclear when movie theaters will really open, and what was supposed to be the big “summer” opener, Tenet, has been pushed back two weeks to July 31st, so a regular box-office report may be at least another 5 or 6 weeks away. However, as far as new releases go, this weekend was probably the best of the pandemic, as two high-profile movies originally scheduled for theaters came out this weekend, as well as the latest from Spike Lee on Netflix.
First up, on the VOD market, there was finally some new blood, as Judd Apatow and Pete Davidson’s King of Staten Island — an At Home Premiere (and therefore a $20 rental) was the most watched movie on both Amazon’s charts and iTunes rental charts. Again, we have no idea what the actual revenue numbers are — we don’t even know what the budget for the film was — but we do know that it did better than Scoob! in its fifth week on VOD and Trolls World Tour in its third month.
It’s fair to say that it was probably at least modestly successful, but beyond that, we won’t know unless Universal release figures. King of Staten Island is a particularly important VOD release because — unlike the other major VOD releases during the pandemic — this one was a comedy and not a family film, and if it is a big success, it could pave the way for more comedies going straight to digital release, even after the pandemic is over. Then again, I don’t know if this was a great test case, either. It’s good — 71 percent on Rotten Tomatoes — but it’s very long (two hours and 17 minutes) and not that funny. Pete Davidson is a comedic actor, but Staten Island still more drama than comedy. In any respect, if Universal — which inexplicably pulled the movie from drive-in theaters — doesn’t release revenue figures, we’ll have to make assumptions based on how long it stays in the top runs of the VOD/rental charts.
There are a few other notables from the VOD/rental charts. Will Smith’s nearly forgotten Gemini Man jumped to number two on the iTunes rental charts (and also appeared high up on Amazon’s charts) after it was offered as a $.99 rental this weekend. Meanwhile, Gone with the Wind jumped to number six on the iTunes rental charts, probably as a spiteful response to HBO Max temporarily pulling it.
Meanwhile, three other movies didn’t debut particularly high on Fandango’s VOD charts, but they are worth noting, anyway: Kevin James (yes, that Kevin James) plays a Nazi in the home-invasion thriller Becky; Mia Wasikowska and Damon Herriman star in the very well-reviewed Judy & Punch; and Elisabeth Moss stars in Shirley.
We don’t have streaming figures for Disney+, but it’s probably fair to say that Artemis Fowl — previously scheduled for theatrical release — likely did very well for the streaming service, despite dismal reviews (it sits at 10 percent on RT). R.L. Stine, meanwhile, respectfully disagrees with critics.
Don't listen to the movie critics. Artemis Fowl is wonderful entertainment. Visually stunning, witty, and nonstop action. Your kids will love it. @disneyplus
— R.L. Stine (@RL_Stine) June 14, 2020
Netflix also saw the release of Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods, which unsurprisingly debuted at the top of its streaming charts. Spike Lee has been making the Zoom rounds and promoting the film heavily, and it’s also been on the receiving end of some very good reviews (92 percent on RT), with Delroy Lindo often being singled out for particularly high praise.
Meanwhile, the Polish erotic thriller 365 Days, which makes Fifty Shades of Grey look tame — jumped to number two, probably because of all the comparisons to Fifty Shades of Grey. That is followed by Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
This week’s “Where did that come from?” movie is The Guest, a spectacular but little seen 2014 action-horror film from Adam Wingard starring Dan Stevens (of Legion and Downton Abbey fame). It’s well worth checking out. Finally, at number five is The Night Clerk. It has an interesting cast — Tye Sheridan, Ana De Armas, and John Leguizamo — but reviews aren’t particularly good (35 percent on RT).
Next week on VOD, we can look forward to Miss Juneteenth and Babyteeth, while 7500, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s return to films after a hiatus to raise his family, debuts on Amazon Prime Video.