The sci-fi thriller Chaos Walking, starring Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley, will come out via premium VOD rental April 2 from Lionsgate.
In the film — based on the best-selling novel The Knife of Never Letting Go and set in the not-too-distant future — Todd Hewitt (Holland) discovers a mysterious girl named Viola (Ridley). She has crash-landed on his planet, where the women have disappeared and the men are afflicted by “The Noise,” a force that puts all their thoughts on display. In this dangerous landscape, Viola’s life is threatened and, to protect her, Todd must discover his inner power and unlock the planet’s dark secrets.
The Academy Award-nominated Judas and the Black Messiah will be available as a premium VOD rental April 2, for digital purchase April 27, and on Blu-ray Disc and DVD May 4.
The film came out in theaters and on HBO Max simultaneously Feb. 12.
Judas and the Black Messiah is nominated for six Academy Awards, for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Daniel Kaluuya, LaKeith Stanfield), Best Cinematography (Sean Bobbitt), Best Original Song (“Fight For You,” music by H.E.R. and Dernst Emilie II, lyrics by H.E.R. and Tiara Thomas), and Best Original Screenplay (screenplay by Will Berson & Shaka King, story by Will Berson & Shaka King and Kenny Lucas & Keith Lucas). Kaluuya also won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor — Motion Picture.
Directed by Shaka King, marking his studio feature film directorial debut, the film stars Kaluuya as Fred Hampton and Stanfield as William O’Neal. The film also stars Dominique Fishback, Jesse Plemons, Ashton Sanders and Martin Sheen.
The story follows FBI informant William O’Neal, who infiltrates the Illinois Black Panther Party and is tasked with keeping tabs on their charismatic leader, Chairman Fred Hampton. A career thief, O’Neal revels in the danger of manipulating both the Panthers and his handler, Special Agent Roy Mitchell (Plemons). Hampton’s political prowess grows just as he’s falling in love with fellow revolutionary Deborah Johnson (Fishback). Meanwhile, a battle wages for O’Neal’s soul. Will he align with the Panthers? Or subdue Hampton and the Panthers by any means, as FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover (Sheen) commands?
Special features on Blu-ray include “Fred Hampton for the People,” in which the filmmakers and cast discuss why telling Chairman Fred Hampton’s story is more important now than ever before, and “Unexpected Betrayal,” in which the filmmakers and cast discuss William O’Neil’s complexities and his eventual betrayal of Hampton. “Fred Hampton for the People” is an extra on the DVD.
A Judas and the Black Messiahimpact campaign, designed by Participant, educates audiences with a more comprehensive history of the Black Panther Party, connecting its legacy to today’s movement for Black lives and empowering audiences to join local organizations advocating for Black communities. To learn more, visit www.LiveForThePeople.com.
Warner’s Wonder Woman 1984 lassoed the top spot on the Vudu chart and The Little Things, also from Warner, topped the FandangoNow chart for the week ended March 21.
Both are transactional VOD services owned by Fandango.
The Little Things, available via premium VOD rental March 19, is a psychological thriller starring Denzel Washington, Rami Malek and Jared Leto. It follows a Kern County deputy sheriff (Washington), who is sent to Los Angeles for a quick evidence-gathering assignment, but instead becomes embroiled in the search for a killer who is terrorizing the city. The titled landed at No. 4 on the Vudu chart.
The DC comic-based Wonder Woman 1984, starring Gal Gadot, topped the Vudu chart after becoming available for digital purchase March 16 following its PVOD rental run. It also came in at No. 2 on the FandangoNow chart.
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run — available as a premium VOD rental March 4 (and also to Paramount+ streaming subscribers) — took the silver on the Vudu chart and the bronze on FandangoNow. In the CGI-animated adventure with live action elements, SpongeBob’s beloved pet snail Gary goes missing in a plot hatched by Plankton to get the Krabby Patty recipe, and he and his friend Patrick head to the Lost City of Atlantic City to retrieve him. It features appearances by Keanu Reeves and Snoop Dogg, among others.
Universal/DreamWorks’ blockbuster animated sequel The Croods: A New Age landed at No. 3 on the Vudu chart and No. 4 on the FandangoNow chart for the week. Available for digital purchase and rental, it’s a follow-up to 2013’s The Croods that finds the prehistoric family facing a new challenge when they encounter a walled-in paradise created by the sophisticated Betterman family. As they try to coexist, the differences between the two families escalate into a full-blown feud, until a new threat forces them to work together. The voice cast includes Ryan Reynolds, Emma Stone, Nicolas Cage, Peter Dinklage, Kelly Marie Tran and Leslie Mann.
Coming in at No. 5 on both charts was Monster Hunter, based on the video game franchise and available for digital rental and purchase. It stars Milla Jovovich as Capt. Artemis, whose unit is caught in a sandstorm that transports them to a world ruled by dangerous and powerful monsters. As they fight to survive, they encounter the mysterious Hunter (Tony Jaa), whose unique skills allow him to stay one step ahead of the powerful creatures.
Two recent Oscar-nominees, Universal’s Promising Young Woman and A24’s Minari, climbed the charts. The revenge thriller Promising Young Woman jumped from No. 10 to No. 6 on the Vudu chart and made its first appearance on the FandangoNow chart, also at No. 6. The five-time Oscar nominee is available for digital rental and purchase. Minari, about a Korean-American family that moves to an Arkansas farm, moved up to No. 8 from No. 10 on the FandangoNow chart. The title, available as a premium VOD rental, earned six Oscar nods.
Disney’s animated Raya and the Last Dragon continues its strong pandemic box office run, reportedly generating an estimated $5.2 million in ticket sales across more than 2,200 domestic screens for the weekend ended March 21. The title has generated about $24.8 million ($71.6 worldwide) since its March 3 bow concurrently with premium VOD ($29.99) availability on Disney+. Raya is Disney’s second PVOD release following live-action Mulan.
Among the weekend’s top-performing theatrical titles in the U.S., the usual suspects continue to resonate, including Warner Bros. Pictures animation release Tom and Jerry with $3.8 million ($32 million total; $70+ million global); Lionsgate’s Chaos Walking generated $2.2 million ($10 million; $15 million), followed by the studio’s newcomer, The Courier, starring Rachel Brosnahan and Benedict Cumberbatch, the latter as a businessman-turned-Cold War-spy, with $2 million. Universal Pictures/DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods: A New Age continues to shine, selling $620,000 in tickets ($55.2 million; $159.7 million) despite being available across multiple retail channels.
Oscar nominees A Promising Woman and Minari saw weekend ticket sales of $195,000 and $306,000, respectively, bring the movies’ total theatrical revenue to $5.7 million and $1.3 million.
The weekend saw most of the U.S. exhibition market re-open for business, albeit at 25% capacity (or 100 people per screen) due to ongoing government restrictions.
“This weekend showed solid results from holdovers, demonstrating the revenue generating horsepower of opening the biggest box-office market in North America,” Paul Dergarabedian, media analyst with Comscore, said in a statement. “Eager movie fans in Los Angeles showed up in solid numbers to enjoy the big screen experience once again.”
Transactional VOD, or the digital rental or sale of titles, is here to stay — including the higher-priced COVID-induced newcomer PVOD — said panelists during the OTT.X spring summit.
“It’s still, if you actually include the declining physical part of the business, it’s still a $10 billion business,” said Fandango’s Cameron Douglas, who oversees transactional services FandangoNow and the recently acquired Vudu. “It also was the first year, last year, that you actually saw growth, combined physical and digital business en masse. So I absolutely think that there’s a continued appetite for consumers for transactional video whether it’s Blu-ray and DVD or TVOD.”
“It’s absolutely here to stay, and the reason for that is that is consumers cannot afford to sign up for every single subscription service that’s out there, and there’s no way that you can replicate the selection that’s available on transactional platforms,” added Jill Allen, SVP of Sony Pictures Entertainment. “It’s just ubiquitous. It’s on every platform. And if you want to watch a movie, you generally know that it’s available to rent or buy somewhere. And then in addition TVOD has various benefits in terms of the windows, too, getting the earlier window. So in the near term I see it continuing. Even though it’s definitely benefited from COVID, looking forward I see it still being a very vibrant, large business.”
Transactional services also offer a deeper library of content than subscription services, panelists noted.
“I don’t know how many pieces of content Peacock has or Netflix has but it’s relatively small compared to a transactional platform,” Douglas added. “I think Vudu, at last count, has 225,000 movies and TV shows. I promise you that even the biggest services on the subscription side have nothing that size library.”
The studio leap into premium VOD (PVOD), usually a $20 one-time rental, has been successful as well, panelists noted, with Premier Digital’s Michele Edelman saying that a friend had shared a story about watching a first-run film at home.
“She said, ‘I treated myself to a theatrical movie in my house,’” Edelman said. “’I’d just had dinner, and I watched Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar.’ She said, ‘It was the best experience.’”
Edelman noted that “everyone’s screens are bigger,” making watching movies at home more theater-like.
“They’re creating this really great theatrical experience where they are,” she said.
Roku’s Mike Gamboa agreed.
“Consumers love new release movies,” he said. “I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon, but I think they have been demanding the flexibility to watch either in theaters or at home. And I think from our perspective, the success of Trolls [World Tour on PVOD] and Scoob! [also on PVOD] kind of demonstrated that consumers love new-release movies at home, and the economics and technical infrastructure is in place to support that business model. So we do see opportunity and viability of PVOD and TVOD to support the new-release movies.”
Sony’s Allen, too, noted that PVOD produced changes in how the teams at the studio worked together.
“We’ve never collaborated so closely with our theatrical team,” she said.
Indeed, Douglas noted, PVOD titles were able to benefit from theatrical marketing as never before.
“I’m looking forward to a real PVOD title,” Douglas said. “We really haven’t had one. Premium VOD in its initial incarnation was meant to be a theatrical movie that has a short window to home entertainment. Because theaters haven’t really opened up yet, a real PVOD title is going to be the real test.”
With the windows shifting during the pandemic and studios experimenting with different windows and pricing, the calculus in how to release a title has become complex during the past year, Allen said.
“You now have to navigate around a whole new set of competitive windows and, internally, as a content provider, you have to look at when your content is going into other windows as well, too,” she said. “So it’s become a little bit more complex.”
Allen said she has to look at individual release plans for each of her studio’s own titles and also what windows the other studios’ titles are employing.
“You had Wonder Woman  that had multiple new-release windows,” she noted. “If you’re competing against the third new-release window of that, is that now a big deal? So understanding the competitive landscape, very, very complex. Even within each studio, if you have a title that’s on a subscription service. If I have a Christmas-themed movie, and I have it available on an SVOD service, can I sell that movie right now?”
While new releases have been few and far between during the pandemic as the pipeline shrank to a trickle, TVOD services and studios leaned on catalog to fill the gap, panelists noted.
“We’ve seen huge growth in [catalog] the last year because of the dearth of new release content,” Douglas said, adding the services have noticed “people rediscovering their favorites, collecting them, adding them to their library, including full series of television shows, where they’re buying almost the entire series of ‘Married With Children’ or ‘M*A*S*H’ or ‘The Office.’”
Sony, too, has been mining catalog while production slowed.
“It’s been our lives since COVID started,” Allen said.
Indeed, consumers are responding by collecting digitally, noted Edelman.
“I just heard the other day, someone said, ‘I started building my digital library,’” she said. “’I now have in my library my absolute favorite films, and I’m buying them at these really discounted prices because it was worth it.'”
“It’s the best subscription service you could ever have,” added Douglas.
The crime drama The Little Things is coming to premium VOD rental March 19 at $19.99, digital sale April 20, and Blu-ray and DVD May 4.
The film debuted in theaters and on WarnerMedia’s HBO Max SVOD service Jan. 29.
The psychological thriller stars Academy Award winners Denzel Washington (Training Day, Glory), Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody) and Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club). It follows Kern County Deputy Sheriff Joe “Deke” Deacon (Washington), who is sent to Los Angeles for what should have been a quick evidence-gathering assignment. Instead, he becomes embroiled in the search for a killer who is terrorizing the city. Leading the hunt is L.A. Sheriff Department Sergeant Jim Baxter (Malek), impressed with Deke’s cop instincts, unofficially engages his help. But as they track the killer, Baxter is unaware that the investigation is dredging up echoes of Deke’s past, uncovering disturbing secrets that could threaten more than his case.
Paramount held an in-vehicle, drive-through and drive-in screening for The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run Feb. 26 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. Attendees proceeded through multiple experiential environments with digital interactions and photo moments along the way. In addition to a screening of the new “SpongeBob” movie — available March 4 on the studio’s new streaming service Paramount+ and via premium VOD rental — attendees also got a sneak peek clip of the new Paramount+ series “Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years.”
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run debuts March 4 as a premium VOD rental, and for a limited time, fans who rent the movie on Vudu and FandangoNow can get a code for 50% off the purchase of more than 25 select family titles on the two Fandango transactional VOD services.
Titles include the previous “SpongeBob” movies (The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie), Sonic the Hedgehog, Love and Monsters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Wonder Park, Sherlock Gnomes, Dora and the Lost City of Gold, Bumblebee, The Rugrats Movie, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, Harriet the Spy, Hotel for Dogs, Imagine That, Good Burger, Snow Day, Clockstoppers and a number of other family classics.
Transactional movie revenue across pay-TV and digital platforms, excluding premium VOD, increased 14% in 2020, exceeding $6 billion for the first time, according to new data from London-based research firm Omdia.
Despite the growth in TVOD revenue due the pandemic, consumer spending was unable to offset declines in box office revenue caused by shuttered theaters. Total spending on movies in theaters, TVOD and packaged media was down 43% compared with 2019, but remained flat with the addition of subscription streaming video, i.e. Netflix & Co.
As a result of the pandemic, many studios have put greater emphasis on their own direct-to-consumer streaming services as well as experimenting with traditional release windows. This approach has meant that some studios with a D2C platform are able to use new release movies to drive SVOD uptake and generate recurring revenue. However, SVOD availability not only breaks the transactional video window but significantly reduces the lifespan of a movie, according to Omdia.
In a survey, more than 57% of U.S. online adults stated that they were willing to pay extra for early access to new movies with the average maximum spend totaling $15.16 — about $1 more than the average cost of a digital retail movie. However, among households with children, 71% are willing to pay no more than $20.07 for PVOD. Among respondents who frequented theaters more than six times annually before the pandemic, most are willing to pay no more than $28 — about the cost of a family movie ticket.
“It is clear that the demand for content is continuing to increase across all consumers and whilst studios are reacting to this demand by providing more new content to SVOD, there is a balancing act that needs to continue,” analyst Fateha Begum said in a statement.
Indeed, about 93% of respondents who sampled PVOD in 2020, nearly 50% said they were willing to repeat the transaction. However, for studios to match the $10.7 billion box office in 2019 through PVOD, each household would have to make at least 5.5 PVOD transactions equating to 700 million transactions within one year. This rises to 17 PVOD transactions per family for households with four children.
“PVOD presents a great opportunity for studios however, it is not a magic cure to recoup lost revenues through the global pandemic,” Begum said. “It should not be viewed as an alternative to the cinema but an accompaniment.”
Increase in Demand for content:
In 2020, consumer demand for online video content increased across all business models. The year saw an influx of new TVOD users, a rise in VOD consumption as well as increased SVOD conversion and uptake. Contrary to popular belief, consumers that engage more with subscription online video services are more likely to visit the cinema than the average consumer, as well as being more likely to purchase or rent via digital video stores.
Omdia found that willingness to pay for premium titles increases with the number of online video subscriptions, in particular among those consumers with 4 or more video services. This highlights the opportunity for studios to use new release movies to generate incremental TVOD revenues while driving subscriptions and retention on D2C services.
“In response to the global pandemic, studios have been able to experiment with theatrical windows and release times, but once things go back to normal, we anticipate that whilst consumer demand remands for new releases, release windows will go back to resemble those pre pandemic,” Begum said.
For a second consecutive week, Sony Pictures’ action-adventure Monster Hunter led the Vudu and FandangoNow charts for the week ended Feb. 28.
Both are transactional VOD services owned by Fandango.
Available for early digital purchase Feb. 16, Monster Hunter, based on the video game franchise, stars Milla Jovovich as Capt. Artemis, whose unit is caught in a sandstorm that transports them to a world ruled by dangerous and powerful monsters. As they fight to survive, they encounter the mysterious Hunter (Tony Jaa), whose unique skills allow him to stay one step ahead of the powerful creatures.
The Universal/DreamWorks animated sequel The Croods: A New Age, newly available to own Feb. 9, again took the silver on the Vudu chart and the bronze on the FandangoNow chart. It’s a followup to 2013’s The Croods that finds the prehistoric family facing a new challenge when they encounter a walled-in paradise created by the sophisticated Betterman family. As they try to coexist, the differences between the two families escalate into a full-blown feud, until a new threat forces them to work together. The voice cast includes Ryan Reynolds, Emma Stone, Nicolas Cage, Peter Dinklage, Kelly Marie Tran and Leslie Mann.
Warner Bros.’ Wonder Woman 1984, which was released Feb. 12 as a 48-hour PVOD rental after debuting on WarnerMedia’s SVOD service HBO Max, again took the No. 2 spot on the FandangoNow chart (No. 4 on Vudu). A sequel to 2017’s Wonder Woman, the follow-up reunites director Patty Jenkins with star Gal Gadot and moves the setting from World War I to 1980s America, where the DC Comics heroine confronts the challenges of the Cold War.
New to the charts was Lionsgate’s horror reboot Wrong Turn, available for digital purchase Feb. 23. The film, which was No. 3 on the Vudu chart and No. 4 on the FandangoNow chart, follows a group of friends who set out to hike the Appalachian Trail. Despite warnings to stick to the trail, the hikers stray off course — and cross into land inhabited by The Foundation, a hidden community of mountain dwellers who use deadly means to protect their way of life.