STXfilms’ The Mauritanian will debut on premium VOD March 2 at $19.99 for a 48-hour rental period.
The film earned Golden Globe nominations for leads Tahar Rahim and Jodie Foster.
Directed by Kevin Macdonald, The Mauritanian is based on the book Guantanamo Diary by Mohamedou Ould Slahi. It’s the true story of Slahi’s fight for freedom after being detained and imprisoned without charge by the U.S. Government for years. Alone and afraid, Slahi (Rahim) finds allies in defense attorney Nancy Hollander (Foster) and her associate Teri Duncan (Shailene Woodley) who battle the U.S. Government in a fight for justice that tests their commitment to the law and their client. Their controversial advocacy, along with evidence uncovered by a military prosecutor, Lt. Colonel Stuart Couch (Benedict Cumberbatch), uncovers shocking truths.
The film also stars Zachary Levi and Saamer Usmani.
Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar, from co-stars and co-writers Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo (Bridesmaids), will debut on PVOD Feb. 12 from Lionsgate.
The comedy follows lifelong friends Barb and Star, who embark on the adventure of a lifetime when they decide to leave their small Midwestern town for the first time ever. The trip includes romance, friendship and a villain’s evil plot.
The film also stars Jamie Dornan, Damon Wayans Jr., Fortune Feimster, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Rose Abdoo, Vanessa Bayer, Phyllis Smith and Kwame Patterson.
A December survey of American consumers found 67% would prefer to watch recently released movies at home after the pandemic instead of going to the movie theater.
Meanwhile, 12% said they would prefer to watch recently released movies in the theater, according to the Savanta survey of 500 Americans.
Half (50%) said they are likely to pay to watch a recently released movie on a streaming platform, but about one-third (32%) said they are not likely to pay to watch a recently released movie on a streaming platform (17% said they are neither likely nor unlikely to pay to watch a recently released movie on a streaming platform).
The survey found respondents are willing to pay on average of $14 to watch a recently released movie on a streaming platform — with 46% willing to pay less than $10, 30% willing to pay $10 to $19, 15% willing to pay $20 to $30, and 8% willing to pay more than $31.
Half said they weren’t sure when they would return to a movie theater. Meanwhile, 17% think they would go to a movie theater in the next six months, 13% think they would go to a movie theater within the next month, 11% think they would go to a movie theater within the next two-three months, and 8% think they would go to a movie theater within the next four to five months.
Savanta is a New York-based research and advisory firm.
Universal’s The Croods: A New Age topped the FandangoNow and Vudu charts for a second consecutive week.
Both are transactional VOD services owned by Fandango.
Taking the top spot again for the week ended Dec. 27, the animated sequel became available for premium rental at the services Dec. 17. In the film, in search of a new home, the Croods encounter the more sophisticated Betterman family. A new threat forces the two families to set aside their differences to avoid extinction. The sequel features the returning voices of Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Clark Duke, and Cloris Leachman, with new cast members Peter Dinklage, Leslie Mann, and Kelly Marie Tran.
Coming in at No. 2 on both charts was Greenland, available for premium rental Dec. 18. The action thriller follows a family who fights for survival as a planet-killing comet races to Earth. John Garrity (Gerard Butler), his estranged wife, Allison (Morena Baccarin), and young son, Nathan, make a perilous journey to their only hope for sanctuary.
Tenet, available for early digital purchase Dec. 15, took the No. 3 spot on both the Vudu chart and the FandangoNow charts. The latest mind-bending adventure from director Christopher Nolan stars John David Washington as a secret agent, known as “the Protagonist,” who manipulates the flow of time to stop a third World War. The film’s ensemble cast also includes Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Dimple Kapadia, and Martin Donovan, with Michael Caine and Kenneth Branagh.
The STX Films sci-fi thriller Songbird, produced by Michael Bay, will premiere in the United States as a premium VOD release Dec. 11.
The film will be available at $19.99 for a 48-hour rental.
Songbird is the first film to shoot in Los Angeles entirely during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the studio.
Directed by Adam Mason (Into the Dark), the film is about fighting for love at the end of the world. It stars K.J. Apa, Sofia Carson, Craig Robinson, Bradley Whitford, Peter Stormare, Alexandra Daddario, Paul Walter Hauser and Demi Moore.
Songbird will bow on a “major streaming service” in 2021, according to the studio.
The Informer topped both the Vudu and FandangoNow charts for the week ended Nov. 8.
Both are transactional video-on-demand services owned by Fandango.
The crime thriller, available on PVOD beginning Nov. 6, stars Joel Kinnaman, Rosamund Pike and Common. It follows an informant for the FBI working to help dismantle the Polish mafia’s drug trade in New York. When the operation goes wrong, he is coerced into returning to prison to take down the cartel from the inside.
Blumhouse’s The Craft: Legacy, which debuted on PVOD Oct. 28, took the No. 2 spot on the Vudu chart and came in at No. 3 on the FandangoNow list. A continuation of the 1996 film The Craft, in which aspiring teenage witches get more than they bargained for as they lean into their newfound powers, the film is written and directed by Zoe Lister-Jones and stars Cailee Spaeny (Bad Times at the El Royale, On the Basis of Sex), Gideon Adlon (The Society, Blockers, The Mustang), Lovie Simone (Selah & the Spades, Greenleaf), Zoey Luna (Pose, Boundless) and Nicholas Galitzine (Cinderella), with Michelle Monaghan and David Duchovny.
Unhinged, starring Russell Crowe, took the silver on the FandangoNow chart. In the thriller, Crowe plays a mentally unstable man who pursues a female driver in an extreme case of road rage. That title landed at No. 6 on the Vudu chart.
Disney’s Mulan topped the Vudu chart and Paramount’s Love and Monsters led the FandangoNow chart the week ended Oct. 18.
Both are transactional video-on-demand services owned by Fandango.
Mulan, the live-action remake of the Disney animated classic, became available for $29.99 premium purchase at the services Oct. 6. The title had previously been exclusively available via Disney+. It came in at No. 2 on the FandangoNow chart.
Love and Monsters, available via premium VOD and digital purchase Oct. 16, takes place seven years after a “monsterpocalypse” — giant monsters taking over the Earth’s surface — forces all of humanity to move into underground colonies. It came in at No. 2 on the Vudu chart.
The horror thriller Spell will be released on PVOD and digital Oct. 30, in time for Halloween, from Paramount Home Entertainment.
The film will also be released in select theaters.
Omari Hardwick (“Power,” Sorry to Bother You), Loretta Devine (“Black-ish,” Crash) and John Beasley (The Sum of All Fears, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks) star.
In the film, while flying to his father’s funeral in rural Appalachia, an intense storm causes Marquis (Hardwick) to lose control of the plane carrying him and his family. He awakens wounded, alone and trapped in Ms. Eloise’s (Devine) attic, who claims she can nurse him back to health with the Boogity, a Hoodoo figure she has made from his blood and skin. Unable to call for help, Marquis desperately tries to outwit and break free from her dark magic and save his family from a sinister ritual before the rise of the blood moon.
The frightening thriller Antebellum from Lionsgate and QC Entertainment — the producer of Get Out and Us — was fittingly inspired by a bad dream.
Filmmakers Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz trace the origins of the film to a nightmare Bush had. “This nightmare was about a woman named Eden,” Bush recalls. “The experience was horrific and so real that I immediately wanted to talk about it with Chris. It felt like my ancestors had visited me to tell me the story. We thought it had the makings of an exciting short story and film.”
Through Eden (Janelle Monáe), Antebellum — which became available through premium VOD Sept. 18 — explores a nightmare from which America seems unable to awake: the country’s original sin of slavery.
The story centers on Veronica (also played by Monáe), a Ph.D. sociologist and best-selling author whose books explore the disenfranchisement of Black people in the United States. Veronica travels to New Orleans for a speaking engagement and uncovers a horrific secret that connects her to the enslaved Eden.
“I felt like I know, love and respect so many women who reminded me of Veronica — powerful, community-serving, strong-willed women who refuse to have their voices silenced as they represent those who are marginalized,” Monáe says. “I wanted to take on a character that could make us feel proud, especially in today’s climate.”
As a speaker and writer, Veronica’s voice takes on a symbolic power.
“The concept of silencing Black people is pure horror,” Monáe explains. “Chris and Gerard leaned into the framework of a psychological thriller to depict these horrors.”
As in any horror tale, there are villains on the plantation where Eden is enslaved — played by Jack Huston, Eric Lange and Jena Malone (“Hunger Games” franchise).
“The way that Chris and Gerard move between these two worlds is not only clever, but necessary to tell the story,” Malone says. “They pull the rug out from under you so you can view these really intense things in a new way.”
A world away from Eden’s plantation life, and before embarking upon her own harrowing journey, Veronica meets up with two friends, Dawn (Gabourey Sidibe) and Sarah (Lily Cowles), for a night on the town in New Orleans. Sidibe (Academy Award nominee, Precious) describes Dawn as “affluent and filled with black girl magic.” Her character lends a levity to the proceedings, but the frivolity of the trio’s night out is interrupted by moments of tension that create an ominous mood.
“There’s a repeated micro-aggression that’s aimed at Veronica and Dawn — the two women of color — that Sarah is aware of but perhaps doesn’t completely understand,” Cowles says.
Throughout the production is the ominous feeling that history is encroaching on the present — made all the more potent by the fact that scenes were filmed on a real plantation, the Evergreen Plantation, located on the Mississippi River, about 40 miles northwest of New Orleans.
“We actually wanted and had committed to finding and identifying a real plantation, and honoring the ancestors,” Renz points out. “As soon as we arrived at Evergreen for a location scout, we knew we had to film there. The ghosts of enslaved people are stained on the trees and on the blades of grass. It’s in the air and soaked into the wood of those cabins. You can feel that energy; it’s palpable.”
“The past is never dead. It’s not even past,” reads the William Faulkner quote that begins the film.
While Antebellum was meant to be a mind-bending mystery that unfolds as a metaphor for the current climate of racism, the filmmakers did not anticipate how the sins of the past would jump to the fore again in the current political climate.
“When we conceived Antebellum, we did not — could not — envision the way that systemic racism would break through to force the meaningful conversation we desperately need. But it has,” says Bush. “What we did intend was for the film to force the audience to look at the real-life horror of racism through the lens of film horror. We’re landing in the middle of the very conversations that we hoped Antebellum would spur. So to release the film in this environment is all we could ask for — as artists, we’re grateful to have the opportunity to add our voices in this cultural moment.”
With Disney’s inaugural premium VOD launch of the live-action remake Mulan set for Sept. 4, the movie reportedly could be available for free to Disney+ subscribers three months later on Dec. 4.
The later release date was observed on a screen shot for the movie’s $29.99 Premium Access purchase price in the United States on the Disney+ app and first reported by ScreenRant. The December date has subsequently been removed from the purchase link. Scuttlebutt has long suggested Mulan would not be available for free (with a Disney+ subscription) until 2021.
Disney earlier in August announced the controversial decision to forgo a theatrical debut for Mulan after repeated exhibitor re-opening delays prevented the $200 million budget movie from releasing. The title was initially slated to debut in theaters on March 27, then pushed back to July and again to this month before being removed from the release schedule. The movie will still have a theatrical presence in markets without Disney+ access.
While studios such as Universal Pictures have embraced PVOD and transactional VOD in response to the pandemic, Disney has steadfastly supported the 90-day theatrical window underscored by the studio’s global box dominance in recent years through Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm (Star Wars) and Pixar Animation titles.