Christmas-Themed Movies and a ‘Glass Onion’ Topped Winter Holiday Weekend Streaming, TVOD

Christmas-themed movies — original and classic — resonated with consumers over the winter holiday weekend, while Netflix’s high-priced sequel, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, was the top streamed movie on the world’s largest SVOD platform.

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment’s Violent Night, which features a grumpy Santa Claus (David Harbour) ruining a band of home invading criminals’ plans, was the No. 1 movie for sale and rental on Vudu, iTunes and Google Play — while finishing fifth at the extended (through Dec. 26) theatrical weekend box office with another $3.5 million in ticket sales.

The duel distribution model underscores Universal’s strategy of releasing theatrical titles into digital retail channels after just 17 days if the title’s combined box office revenue is below $50 million. Through Dec. 26, the movie’s ticket sales had approached $42 million.

Of the top 40 movies tracked across iTunes, Vudu, Google Play and Netflix top 10 charts over the holiday weekend, 55% (22) were Christmas themed.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Classic titles that resonated the highest among digital consumers were Universal’s The Grinch and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment’s Elf, Christmas Vacation and The Polar Express.

Notably, the 1988 original Die Hard movie, starring Bruce Willis as a divorced New York policeman visiting his ex-wife at a high-rise Christmas Eve party, ranked No. 2 on iTunes and No. 4 on Google Play.

Top-streaming winter holiday movies on Netflix included original The Christmas Chronicles (2018), starring Kurt Russell as an adventurous Saint Nick, and the 2020 sequel, The Christmas Chronicles 2, which co-starred Russell’s longtime partner Goldie Hawn.

Other popular Christmas-themed movies on Netflix include 2017 theatrical release A Bad Moms Christmas (STX Entertainment), and 1954’s White Christmas, starring Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby.

DEG: Streaming Again Fuels Surge in Consumer Home Entertainment Spending in 2021

Consumer spending on home entertainment in 2021 rose nearly 8% from the prior year to a record $32.3 billion, fueled once again by a surge in subscription video-on-demand (SVOD), or streaming, according to estimates released Feb. 7 by DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.

The trade group says consumer spending on streaming climbed 20% to an estimated $25.3 billion, or more than 78% of the total.  

Consumer spending in all other segments declined in 2021, after rising significantly in 2020 due to movie theater closures and stay-at-home orders triggered by the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

DVD and Blu-ray Disc sales were down 19.5% to an estimated $1.97 billion, from $2.45 billion in 2020. Disc rentals fell 21.2% to $822.7 million, from $1.04 billion the prior year.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Digital transactional sales were off 19.2% to an estimated $2.42 billion, from nearly $3 billion in 2020, while digital transactional rentals slipped 23.8% to $1.77 billion, from $2.32 billion the year before.

The DEG cautions, however, that digital spending totals do not include premium video-on-demand (PVOD) revenue. The trade group pegs PVOD revenue at about $525 million, not counting Disney+ Premier Access. (Media Play News stopped carrying the weekly Watched at Home chart because Disney does not provide revenue for disc and transactional digital titles that were initially released to home audiences at a premium VOD price.)

In the fourth quarter, the DEG reported, total consumer spending on home entertainment rose more than 11% to $8.6 billion, the highest growth rate of the year’s four quarters.

Streaming once again led the way, with spending up more than 19% to an estimated $6.64 billion.

Transactional spending fared significantly better in the fourth quarter than in any of the year’s previous three-month periods, with digital sales down less than 3% and rentals down 6.2%. The DEG notes that “purchases of TV product were particularly strong in Q4, rising to $258 million, an 11% increase above the same quarter in 2020, and 54% over the 2019 quarter.” Season four of Paramount’s “Yellowstone” was the top revenue generator of the year across all transactional formats, with the “Yellowstone” franchise bringing more than $61 million in fourth-quarter consumer spending.

Digital rentals of theatrical new releases through internet retailers such as Vudu, Google Play and Redbox On Demand in the fourth quarter rose about 3% from the same period in 2020, and 29% over spending in the pre-pandemic fourth quarter of 2019.

Physical media also did much better in the fourth quarter, with sales down just 14.2%. Consumer spending on 4K UHD Blu-ray Discs, the DEG reported, was up more than 6% in the quarter.

Top titles across both physical and digital transactional formats included The Croods: A New Age; F9: The Fast Saga; Free Guy; Godzilla vs Kong; Harry Potter Complete 8-Film Collection; Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard; Monster Hunter; No Time to Die; A Quiet Place Part II; Venom: Let There Be Carnage; Wonder Woman 1984; and all four seasons of “Yellowstone.”

‘Croods 2,’ ‘Wonder Woman 1984,’ ‘Greenland’ Lead TVOD Charts

Croods: A New Age, Greenland and Wonder Woman 1984, just released via PVOD Feb. 12, topped the transactional charts for the week.

Universal Pictures/DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods: A New Age, available for non-PVOD transactional release Feb. 9, topped transactional revenue on FandangoNow for the past week, while tracking No. 2 and 3 on Apple TV and Google Play, respectively. The title also re-emerged atop the Presidents’ Day domestic weekend box office.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

STX’s Greenland, starring Gerard Butler and Morena Baccarin (Deadpool), continues to track among the top three digital sellers, finishing No. 1 on Apple TV and Google Play and No. 3 on FandangoNow.

Warner Bros.’ Wonder Woman 1984 tracked No. 2 on Google Play and FandangoNow and No. 5 on Apple TV. The title was released in theaters on Christmas Day, concurrently with a 31-day run for free to subscribers of HBO Max and just became available for PVOD as a $19.99 rental for 48 hours last week.

Lionsgate’s Barb and Star Go to Vista del Mar, released on PVOD Feb. 12, came in at No. 3 on Apple TV, No. 5 on Google Play and No. 4 on FandangoNow.

Universal’s Let Him Go, which debuted on EST last month and stars Diane Lane and Kevin Costner, tracked at No. 4 on Apple TV, No. 6 on Google and No. 7 on FandangoNow.

Apple TV (week ended Feb. 15)

  1. Greenland (STX)
  2. The Croods: A New Age (Universal/DreamWorks Animation)
  3. Barb and Star Go to Vista del Mar (Lionsgate)
  4. Let Him Go (Focus Features)
  5. Wonder Woman 1984 (Warner Bros.)
  6. Tenet (Warner)
  7. Freaky (Universal)
  8. Valentine’s Day (Warner)
  9. Love and Monsters (Paramount)
  10. The War with Grandpa (101 Studios)

Google Play (week ended Feb. 15)

  1. Greenland
  2. Wonder Woman 1984
  3. The Croods: A New Age 
  4. Tenet 
  5. Barb and Star Go to Vista del Mar 
  6. Let Him Go 
  7. The War with Grandpa
  8. Honest Thief (Universal)
  9. Love and Monsters
  10. Freaky

FandangoNow (week ended Feb. 14)

  1. The Croods: A New Age
  2. Wonder Woman 1984
  3. Greenland
  4. Barb and Star Go to Vista del Mar
  5. Willy’s Wonderland (Screen Media)
  6. News of the World (Universal)
  7. Let Him Go 
  8. Promising Young Woman (Universal)
  9. Freaky
  10. Fatale (Lionsgate)

Vertical Entertainment’s ‘Ava’ Tops Apple TV, Google Play Transactional VOD Charts

Jessica Chastain’s turn as femme fatale assassin in Vertical Entertainment’s Ava generated the most $6.99 transactional VOD purchases on Apple TV and Google Play as of Sept. 28.

The title, which was released on digital retail channels Sept. 25, finished second on FandangoNow to Lionsgate’s $19.99 VOD release of Antebellum. Both Fandango and subsidiary rank titles based on revenue generated; not transactions. Spectrum ranked Antebellum tops in transactions from Sept. 18-24.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Ava, which features Chastain as a hit woman for a secret black ops organization, also stars Common, John Malkovich, Geena Davis, Colin Farrell and Joan Chen. The movie had a limited theatrical run over the summer (due to COVID-19) in Hungary and other international markets, generating $2.1 million in ticket sales, according to Box Office Mojo.

Apple TV

  1. Ava (Vertical) – $6.99
  2. The Secret: Dare to Dream (Gravitas Ventures) – $5.99
  3. The Outpost (Millennium) – $0.99
  4. Father of the Bride (Disney) – $2.99
  5. Alone (Magnolia) – $6.99
  6. Antebellum (Lionsgate) – $19.99
  7. The Last Starfighter (Universal) – $3.99
  8. The King of Staten Island (Universal) – $5.99
  9. Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs (Lionsgate) – $5.99
  10. Irresistible (Focus) – $5.99


Google Play

  1. Ava (Vertical) – $6.99
  2. Antebellum (Lionsgate) – $19.99
  3. Alone (Magnolia) – $6.99
  4. Bill & Ted Face the Music (United Artists) – $13.99
  5. The King of Staten Island (Universal) – $5.99
  6. The Tax Collector (RLJE) – $6.99
  7. Sonic the Hedgehog (Paramount) – $4.99
  8. The Secret: Dare to Dream (Gravitas Ventures) – $5.99
  9. The Silencing (XYZ) – $6.99
  10. Trolls World Tour (Universal) – $5.99

Disney Offering ‘Mulan’ Access via Roku, Apple, Google Play

The Walt Disney Co. is a longtime champion of preserving the traditional theatrical window, eschewing industry efforts to push premium VOD in the home for new release movies.

As a result, the company’s decision to offer the live-action remake Mulan directly to consumers on Sept. 4 for $29.99 is a one-time bet requiring maximum distribution.

To that end, Disney will sell “premium access” to Mulan to Disney+ subscribers via Google Play, Apple and Roku. The move is significant considering that when CEO Bob Chapek first announced direct-to-consumer access to Mulan on the the company’s fiscal call, it was through Disney+ exclusively. Now Disney will share Mulan revenue with Apple, Roku and Google.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The move suggests Disney might be having difficulty convincing Disney+ subs to directly purchase the film on its app.

“Starting Sept. 4, with Premier Access, you can watch Mulan before it’s available to all Disney+ subscribers,” Disney said in its FAQ section. “Disney+ will offer Premier Access to Mulan for $29.99 on and select platforms, including Apple, Google and Roku. Once you have Premier Access to Mulan, you can watch as many times as you want on any platform where Disney+ is available. Your access to Mulan will continue as long as you are an active Disney+ subscriber.”

The movie thus far is not available through Amazon Fire TV, Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox, despite the platforms affording access to the Disney+ app.

Transactional Movie Marketing: How Big is Your Fan Base?

On Oct. 15, AMC Theatres — the world’s largest movie exhibitor — launched “AMC Theatres On Demand,” a transactional platform enabling its A-List members to purchase or rent studio (notably Paramount, Lionsgate) movies in the home on their retail release.

Key to AMC’s push into home entertainment is the exhibitor’s leverage of its 19-million Stubs A-List loyalty membership base in the same way Amazon Prime entices more than 100-million Prime members with access to movies, TV shows and third-party SVOD services via Prime Channels.

As the retail market embraces transactional VOD and electronic sell through in place of DVD and Blu-ray Disc, media companies are using pre-existing customer loyalty to jumpstart digital success.

When packaged-media kiosk operator Redbox launched Redbox Digital in 2017, its initial marketing thrust was to its 27 million Redbox Perks members.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Indeed, Redbox claims that nearly half (48% ) of all Americans find out what’s new in home entertainment from its kiosks. The company recently enhanced the Perks program to reward members for each rental night instead of per title.

“The updated loyalty program increases the value of each Redbox experience,” Ash Eldifrawi, chief marketing and customer experience officer at Redbox, said at the time.

Last spring, Fandango launched a loyalty-rewards program — Fandango VIP+ — offering monetary credits for every four movies tickets purchased on its platform. VIP members also have 21 days to use their credit to stream movies and TV shows on FandangoNow.

“We needed to seed the system … to give customers an array of options to redeem their points,” Fandango chief marketing officer Adam Rockmore said in an interview.

While Fandango has not released data on VIP+ signups, Michael Pachter, media analyst at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, believes AMC has the upper hand.

“AMC may have a competitive advantage over Fandango and others delivering in-home entertainment given the reach of its rewards program, loyalty of millions [of] A-Listers and studio partnerships,” he wrote in a note. “We see little downside to AMC’s new on-demand offering, given its reach to loyal customers.”

Then again, FandangoNow is part of Movies Anywhere, the movie marketing platform (supported by Warner Bros., Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures, Disney/Fox) directing its 8 million registered users to buy and rent titles from its retail partners, which include Apple iTunes, Prime Video, Walmart’s Vudu, Comcast’s Xfinity Store, Google Play, Microsoft Movies & TV — and just recently: Verizon.

Google Bows $4.99 ‘Play Pass’ Video Game Platform

Google Sept. 23 announced the launch of “Play Pass,” a $4.99 monthly service offering access to more than 350 apps and video games. All games are free of ads and upfront payments.

Subscriptions include a 10-day free trial. For a limited time (12 months), Play Pass costs $1.99/month, then $4.99/month thereafter.

Play Pass apps and games can still be found on the Play Store. All apps and games found on the Play Pass homepage or throughout the Play Store with the ticket are completely unlocked with your subscription.

“Play Pass helps encourage people to try new experiences they would not have otherwise,” Maria Sayans, CEO of Ustwo, said in a statement.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!



Report: Disney+ Offering Free Trial in the Netherlands

The Disney+ app has been released on Google Play with exclusive access for the Netherlands for a free trial through Nov. 12, according to a report from Droid Life.

The layout of the service includes home, search, download and account tabs at the bottom, according to the website, with recommendations and the ability to filter by category, including Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars.

The service also allows users to pick favorite Disney characters to influence results, according to the report.

The app offers unlimited access to classics, unlimited downloads, and up to seven profiles and four concurrent streams, according to the report.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Disney+ will formally launch Nov. 12 at $6.99 a month ($69.99 for a year). A special offer to D23 members (Disney’s fan club) who ordered a three-year subscription, let them receive the third year free, a savings of 33% or $23 per year for an effective monthly rate below $4.

Jim Henson Company Launches Kids’ Series for Download on iTunes and Google Play

The Jim Henson Company, in partnership with Premiere Digital Services, has launched several of its children’s series on iTunes and Google Play for download in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.

Content includes seasons one and two of the language acquisition series “Word Party,” (U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia); season one of the animated series “Dot.,” created by Randi Zuckerberg (U.S. and U.K.); and the puppet series “Pajanimals,” “Jim Henson’s Mother Goose Stories” and “The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss” (U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia). The classic Henson fantasy series “The Storyteller” and “The Storyteller: Greek Myths” are available for download in the U.S., Canada, U.K. and Australia.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“Partnering with Premiere Digital Services has allowed more beloved Jim Henson Company titles to be available to our fans than ever before,” said Jim Henson VP of global distribution Anna Moorefield. “Consumers can expect additional favorites as we continue to make our productions available to established and new audiences wherever and whenever they want to watch.”

“We are thrilled to partner with The Jim Henson Company and expand the reach of their timeless and iconic catalog in the transactional VOD space,” said head of Premiere business development Jeff Goldman. “Working together with The Jim Henson Company and our platform partners, we have the experience and relationships to bring these amazing shows starring some of the best-loved characters to fans of all ages around the world.”