No Streamer, No Problem: Lionsgate and Sony Movies Thrive at Home Without Them

With six of the top eight film distributors committed to their own streaming sites — and all the expenses that come with them — the two studios that operate without a streamer continue to elevate home viewing without that heavy investment.

Universal has three films occupying eight positions this week, led by the just-released “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” that’s #1 on all three VOD charts. Lionsgate also has three films in eight slots, while Sony has three films in six slots — plus, three more films in the Netflix top 10.

Multiple placements aren’t unusual for Universal; it has high volume as well as a consistent PVOD policy that often sees titles surface in a month or less. For the scrappier Lionsgate, this achievement demanded a lot of smart strategy. Both “Operation Fortune: Russe de Guerre” and “Sisu” showed limited interest in theaters (each grossed around $7 million). Yet each has shown strength on PVOD, ahead of films that did much better.

“Sisu” is a Finnish World War II film that sounds like the kind of international action title that Netflix debuts regularly, usually to brief attention. It premiered at Midnight Madness at last year’s Toronto, with Sony Worldwide taking rights including North America, then turning over distribution to Lionsgate. That the film is clicking at home — #2 at both iTunes and Vudu — suggests its theatrical play raised awareness to an audience that was eager to see a new war-themed title. (Our David Ehrlich places it firmly in the “they pissed off the wrong guy” genre.)

“John Wick: Chapter 4”Murray Close/Lionsgate

Lionsgate released both films to home audiences before “John Wick: Chapter 4,” which opened in theaters weeks earlier. It comes to PVOD Tuesday (according to iTunes’s daily chart, pre-sales place it at #10). Don’t be surprised if it supplants “SMB,” at least initially. Universal is charging an elevated $24.99 for rental, $29.99 to download making the profit even greater.

Four other titles placed on all three sites. Sony’s “65,” with a reduced $5.95 price, is as high #3 (iTunes), with still-$19.99 “The Covenant” (MGM), “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” (Paramount, #2 at Google Play), and “Evil Dead Rise” (Warner Bros. Discovery) completing the list.

Two other debuting titles are “To Catch a Killer” (Vertical) and “Big George Foreman” (Sony). Starring Shaillene Woodley, “To Catch a Killer” is the American debut from Damián Szifron, the Argentine director of “Wild Tales.” It had a minimal theatrical run and placed as high as #5 on iTunes at $6.99. “Foreman,” which flopped badly in theaters, debuted on VOD at $19.99 after its third weekend. That price helped it make Vudu’s chart, since it scores by revenue not transactions.

“Missing”©Sony Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

“Missing ” is the latest Sony film to score a #1 ranking at Netflix; it’s the sequel to 2018’s “Searching,” a $7 million sleeper that grossed $37 million after its Sundance premiere. “A Man Called Otto” is still #3; it’s joined in the top five by “The Son,” the Sony Pictures Classics follow-up to “The Father” that caused barely a ripple in theaters ($450,000 gross) despite Hugh Jackman in the lead. Its response looks like another case of Netflix’s millions of viewers clicking play when they find a film they know nothing about but with a big star.

“The Mother” with Jennifer Lopez is #2 in its second week. Two other originals debuted as well — the documentary “Anna Nicole Smith: You Don’t Know Me” and from the Netherlands “Faithfully Yours,” a thriller.

iTunes and Google Play rank films daily by number of transactions. These are the listings for Monday, May 22. Distributors listed are current rights owners. Prices for all titles are for rental.

iTunes

1. The Super Mario Bros. Movie (Universal) – $24.99

2. Sisu (Lionsgate) – $19.99

3. 65 (Sony) – $5.99

4. The Covenant (MGM) – $19.99

5. To Catch a Killer (Vertical) – $6.99

6. Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (Paramount) – $19.99

7. Operation Fortune: Russe de Guerre (Lionsgate) – $5.99

8. Evil Dead Rise (WBD) – $19.99

9. John Wick: Chapter 4 (Lionsgate) – $19.99

10. Avatar: The Way of Water (Disney) – $19.99

Google Play

1. The Super Mario Bros. Movie (Universal) – $24.99

2. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (Paramount) – $19.99

3. Evil Dead Rise (WBD) – $19.99

4. Sisu (Lionsgate) – $19.99

5. The Covenant (MGM) – $19.99

6. Avatar: The Way of Water (Disney) – $19.99

7. 65 (Sony) – $5.99

8. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (Disney) – $19.99

9. The Pope’s Exorcist (Sony) – $19.99

10. Renfield (Universal) – $19.99

Vudu

Vudu ranks by revenue, not transactions, elevating premium VOD titles. This list covers May 15-21. 

1. The Super Mario Bros. Movie (Universal) – $24.99

2. Sisu (Lionsgate) – $19.99

3. Evil Dead Rise (WBD) – $19.99

4. Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (Paramount) – $19.99

5. The Covenant (MGM) – $19.99

6. The Pope’s Exorcist (Sony) – $19.99

7. To Catch a Killer (Vertical) – $6.99

8. Big George Foreman (Sony) – $19.99

9. Renfield (Universal) – $19.99

10. 65 (Sony) – $5.99

Netflix Movies

Most viewed, current ranking on Netflix’s daily chart on Monday, May 22. Originals include both Netflix-produced and acquired titles it initially presents in the U.S. Netflix publishes its own weekly top 10 on Tuesdays based on time viewed.

1. Missing (2023 theatrical release)

2. The Mother (Netflix original)

3. A Man Called Otto (2022 theatrical release)

4. Ted (2012 theatrical release)

5. The Son (2022 theatrical release)

6. Anna Nicole Smith: You Don’t Know Me (Netflix original documentary)

7. Faithfully Yours (Netherlands Netflix original)

8. The Croods (2013 theatrical release)

9. The Ugly Dolls (2019 theatrical release)

10. ¡Que viva México! (2023 theatrical release)

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