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.
We are now in our third week of inspecting the most watched movies at home, and it’s interesting how much more movement there is in the VOD market than in the traditional box office. That may be more of a function of our current situation, however, where theatrical movies released earlier this year are heading to VOD in a much faster clip to take advantage of the increased movie consumption at home. They’re probably also trying to recoup some of their losses, as well.
In our first two weeks, we’ve been eyeballing the iTunes and Google Play lists to come up with the most watched VOD movies, but Fandango’s most watched VOD movie seems to be a very good compromise between the two lists. In either respect, most of the lists suggests that the two most popular VOD movies this weekend were the home debuts of the two biggest films released in theaters in 2020, Bad Boys for Life and Sonic the Hedgehog. The two movies add to their $204 million and $146 million theatrical box office. Meanwhile, Pixar’s Onward comes in third now that it is being offered for $5 rental instead of $20 purchase (note families: It’s free on Disney+, which cost $6 a month, and if you are spending $5 to watch Onward, you probably live in a family that could use Disney+ to help get through the next couple of months. This is not a plug. It is a lifeline).
Invisible Man is still going strong even at the $20 rental price point, but it’s still doing extraordinarily well, even as other movies have debuted and fallen below it, like Knives Out and Jumanji. e don’t have exact figures on Invisible Man on VOD, but it’s safe to say that it has been a resounding success. Excluding Trolls World Tour (which is on presale), Invisible Man is number four, while Harrison Ford’s Call of the Wild — which was also ousted from theaters early — debuts at a middling #10, ahead of the original Bad Boys and two other movies still only available for purchase, Ben Affleck’s The Way Back and Robert Downey, Jr.’s Doctor Dolittle, which isn’t even doing well on the VOD market with families starved for movies.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell’s Downhill, which bombed in theaters, is likewise not making much noise on the VOD market, where it debuted at number 24. Meanwhile, I am only seeing it on the iTunes list (#11), but the critically acclaimed indie flick Never Rarely Sometimes Always seems to be doing well. I haven’t seen it yet, but a lot of critics are calling it the best movie of 2020, so far (Mike Ryan also spoke to the director about the film).
Elsewhere, there is not a lot of churn on Hulu’s Most Popular Movies list, so I may abandon it next week, as Pete Davidson’s Big Time Adolescence — a Hulu original — remains in the top spot for the third week. The rest is a mix of familiar, mostly older comfort titles, although it’s always interesting to see what kinds of movies bubble to the surface, like for instance The Escort, a 2016 movie about a sex-addicted journalist who throws himself into the world of high-class escorts. It sounds like a lot of teenagers were browsing Hulu after their parents went to sleep this weekend.
Finally, over on Netflix, there is a lot of movement as titles come on and off and the algorithm does its magic. Last week’s top film, The Platform, dropped to number seven this week, making way for a new number one, the Netflix original Coffee & Kareem with Ed Helms and Taraji P. Henson. It does not look good; in fact, both critics (14 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) and audiences (48 percent RT Audience score) agree that it is lousy. I’m not sure if it because of Helms’ in Coffee & Kareem, but his The Hangover is also now the 5th most watched movie on the streaming service this weekend, too.
Number two, however, is a headscratcher. The Roommate is a 2011 film starring Leighton Meester, Minka Kelly, and Cam Gigandet about an obsessive, stalking college roommate. Two of those actors barely have a career these days, so I have no idea why the movie is suddenly popular, except that there are probably thousands and thousands of people in America right now who have been trapped indoors with their roommates for a very long time. The film miraculously made $37 million upon its release in America, despite a Rotten Tomatoes score of 4 percent. Are we that hard up for entertainment already?