I have used this space every Sunday morning for the last four years or so to write about the weekend box office. There have been some exciting weekends, lots of broken box-office records, and some very dull weekends, too. This weekend, however, there was no box office to speak of. Very few theaters across the country remained open, there were no new wide releases, and the major studios made the decision to stop reporting box-office numbers for the foreseeable future.
If you’re an industry website, the box-office report is meant to report on the state of the movie industry. But for us here at Uproxx, it’s mostly about running down what were the most popular movies of the weekend, to check in on what everyone has been watching. I think I can still do that in some respect. Both Apple’s iTunes and Google Play list their most popular digital rentals, Netflix lists its ten most popular movies now, and Hulu lists its popular movies, too. Because we’re all watching movies at home now, these lists should be fairly reflective of the most popular movies over the weekend, more or less.
For Netflix, Spenser Confidential was the top movie over the weekend. The last five movies that Peter Berg have made as a director have all starred Mark Wahlberg, and at the box office, each has paid increasingly fewer dividends, from Lone Survivor to Mile 22. The two clearly love to work together, however, and their latest comes to Netflix and brings in the spectacular Winston Duke along for the ride, as they remake both an ’80s television show based on a massive series of novels created by Robert B. Parker. Critics gave the film 39 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, and audiences didn’t exactly give it great marks, either, with a 59 percent Audience score. Netflix, however, has done a really great job of putting Post Malone — who is probably a minor character in the movie — front and center on the streaming service.
The most popular movie over on Hulu this weekend is Pete Davidson’s Big Time Adolescence. The film from writer/director Jason Orley also stars Jon Cryer and Machine Gun Kelly. It premiered last year at Sundance. It’s well liked by critics (84 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) and audiences (an 82 percent audience score). This is supposed to be part of the beginning of a big year for Davidson, who also starred in The Big Lebowski spin-off, Jesus Rolls, has the semi-autobiographical King of Staten Island (directed by Judd Apatow) out over the summer, and will star in the next Suicide Squad movie in 2021. He also just released a stand-up special and appeared on Nathan Fillion’s The Rookie!
Unsurprisingly, the rental charts on iTunes and Google Play are being dominated by two movies that dominated at the theatrical box office for the last three months: Jumanji: Next Level and Knives Out, both of which offer great escapes from the current news cycle. Despite already being available on Disney+, Frozen 2 is also doing very well in the digital rental market, along with Ford v. Ferrari, Joker, and Best Picture winner, Parasite. A lot of families are renting Spies in Disguise, as well, while Robert Pattinson’s The Lighthouse and Taika Waititi’s Oscar nominated JoJo Rabbit seem to be doing the best among indie flicks.
With theatrical releases being interrupted by a pandemic, studios were quick to move several movies to the digital rental market, making them available for $20, and they seem to be doing well. Elisabeth Moss’ Invisible Man is the 13th most popular title on Google Play and the fifth most popular on iTunes, for an average of 9th place on the two charts, despite the steep rental cost. The controversial The Hunt, meanwhile, averaged 18th on the two charts, while the latest adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma averaged 32nd between the two rental services, although it actually did slightly better than The Hunt on iTunes.
Unfortunately, we don’t have actual figures, just placements on charts, so we have no way of knowing how well those movies are doing relative to their budgets. If movie viewers continue to watch everything from home, however, I’m sure the industry will figure out a way to tout their biggest hits and brag about their profitability. It’s what Hollywood does.
For the curious, there were a few older movies that also appeared high on the rental charts and on Netflix this weekend: The disaster film 2012 starring John Cusack; Wolfgang Petersen’s 1995 film Outbreak, about an attempt to contain the spread of a deadly virus; and, of course, Contagion. Some people watch movies to escape, and some people apparently just like to lean in.
Sources: Netflix, iTunes, Google Play, and Hulu