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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,...
Week three of no theatrical releases. That will technically change soon — Universal’s premium VOD-opening “Trolls World Tour” has a handful of still-open drive-ins to play don’t expect any grosses reported. But it was a week full of important stories, with particular interest in a series of release date adjustments. However, no date can be realized if theaters aren’t open, and nobody knows when that will be.
• Exhibitor trade organization NATO held a webinar Friday. President John Fifthian raised hope that some theaters might be open by late May or early June. AMC Entertainment CEO Adam Aron, who oversees the most screens in North America reiterated his hopes for mid-June.
• With the COVID-19 still in its early stages of national spread, uncertainty about the curve flattening, and signs that in China, which had the earliest outbreaks three months ago, that viral decline doesn’t equal viral defeat, the reality is it could be weeks before anyone can make a reasonable assessment on reopening.
• Countering industry optimism that after weeks indoors, people will flock to theaters is a survey by Performance Research about public attitudes on return to public events. It saw 49 percent of respondents saying feeling safe about returning to theaters ranged from in a few months to never, with 28 percent saying if they do return, it will be less often. That said: This is a snapshot taken nearly two weeks ago, and shouldn’t be considered predictive. It showed similar or worse results for sporting events, concerts, and theme parks.
• Sports league executives spoke with President Trump, who urged resumption as soon as possible. However, Dr. Alan Sills, chief medical officer for the NFL, cautioned it is premature to believe that football can return this fall. Governors in some states that aren’t fully shut down, like Nebraska, encouraged voluntary compliance — with the threat that if the virus isn’t contained, their ardent fans might not have a season. Sports, of course, demand close player and spectator contact, and are more vulnerable even than theaters to the ongoing threat of contagion. But the idea that it is conceivable the country could have a year with no more sports is even more shocking than disruption to theaters.
• The key takeaway from multiple studio release schedule changes is, in re-dating titles, they don’t expect theaters to be fully operational until July at the earliest. Though key June and July titles like Pixar’s “Soul” and Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” remain in those months, “Mulan” on July 24 is the earliest rescheduled date for any major title. Other date changes act as a diversion while theaters are closed, but the reality is everything is written in pencil, not pen.
The ugly news first: The weekend’s sole wide opener, “Playmobil: The Movie,” opened to $660,000 in 2,337 theaters, placing #14 overall with a $282 per-theater average.
Even with that burden, however, this wasn’t the worst weekend of 2019. The Super Bowl weekend took that honor at $73.4 million, the worst performance that date saw in 19 years. At $87 million, this weekend is slightly up from last year.
Two hit films, “Frozen II” and “Knives Out,” accounted for about 60% of the total, but several others helped keep grosses at parity. In its 10th weekend, “Joker” remains in the Top 10 and has already reached $321 million domestic. In its third weekend, “Frozen II” is at $338 million domestic.
And while grosses remain more than $500 million below 2018, expect that shortfall to decline through the rest of the year. Next week four wide releases debut, led by “Jumanji: The Next Level,” along with “Richard Jewell,” “Black Christmas,” and “Bombshell;” these will easily best the $60 million earned by three new films last year. And there’s the new “Star Wars” along with “Cats” and “Little Women” still to come. For Disney, this will likely mean another billion in box office by the year’s end.
“Knives Out” dropped 47%, which is terrific. Grosses are elevated post-Thanksgiving, and collapse right after. It’s passed $63 million and positioned for major Christmas play, making it a smart $40 million investment in Rian Johnson. Perhaps most valuable: It could make other franchise-successful directors pursue projects that bring them back to their creative roots.
We list “Queen & Slim” as tied for third for the weekend, with its estimated gross only $7,000 below “Ford v Ferrari.” Based on last Sunday’s comparative take, we expect “Queen” to end up third — but more importantly, at 45% it had the smallest drop this weekend among holdovers. And, compared to other films in the top five, it played at fewer than half the theaters. This film has momentum to spare.
Between the two other adult-appeal titles vying for longevity, “Ford v Ferrari” continues to have the edge with a 50% drop; “A Beautiful Day” dropped 56% and grossed $1.3 million less. Both will struggle to play through Christmas.
Behind them was the expansion of Todd Haynes’ “Dark Waters.” Focus saw an opening to get this to the widest possible...
The frequently circulated fun fact during the ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has been that Shakespeare wrote King Lear during a plague. It’s a piece of trivia that has become both a source of inspiration and a source of mockery, because who really wants to be productive during a pandemic?
But Disney Animation has shown us all up — and become the godsend for parents everywhere — by releasing a series of animated Frozen shorts, recorded and animated completely from home. At Home With Olaf, with dialogue recorded by Josh Gad, is a new digital animated series that will debut on Disney+ this week and make us all feel bad for not writing our novel while in quarantine.
The staff at Disney Animation just raised the bar on working from home. The animators, sound engineers, and Olaf voice actor Josh Gad have banded together to create the At Home With Olaf animated digital series, set to debut on Disney+ this week. Disney animation director Hyrum Osmond, who worked as head of animation on Disney’s Moana, spearheaded the project, which will follow the fan-favorite Frozen snowman on several adventures in a series of digital shorts.
Starting this week, enjoy an all-new original Disney Animation digital series with everyone’s favorite snowman, Olaf. #AtHomeWithOlaf created at home by Hyrum Osmond. Voiced from home by Josh Gad. #DisneyMagicMoments pic.twitter.com/gFFuHE8mev
— Disney Animation @DisneyAnimation April 6, 2020
The teaser for the digital series shows Olaf happily throwing snowballs when he accidentally throws the head of a little snowman friend. While there’s no dialogue in the short clip, that is clearly Gad making the little grunts and noises. Gad, who has also been contributing to coronavirus relief efforts and quarantined children’s boredom by reading books to Frozen fans online in his Olaf voice, revealed that he was approached by Frozen director Jennifer Lee and Osmond to record some dialogue for the shorts from home. The Disney Animation staff even helped him set up the appropriate sound equipment to get the best-quality sound, Gad revealed in a behind-the-scenes photo.
“My friends Jennifer Lee & Hyrum Osmond called me up one day & asked me if I would be able 2 record some dialogue & sounds as Olaf from home,” Gad said in a tweet. “These little shorts done from home by Hyrum & the Disney Animation team are so charming & hopefully provide a smile during these scary times.”
Here’s a behind the scenes look at me recording new Olaf dialogue from home for #AtHomeWithOlaf in conjunction with @DisneyAnimation led by @mrhyrum and the geniuses all working from homes to bring these new shorts to life. Also, guys, I’m now a sound engineer...