‘The Croods: A New Age’ Beats Out ‘Tenet’ On VOD in Surprising Shakeup

With fewer than 40 percent of theaters open, and the COVID surge further depressing out of home activity, the usually lucrative pre-Christmas week — which usually yields some of the top grosses of the year — has shifted to a home-viewing experience. And that has shaken up our charts. For both VOD and Netflix, major new titles head up the lists.

In an unprecedented occurrence, the same three titles top the lists for Apple TV, Google Play, and FandangoNow. “The Croods: A New Age” (Universal), “Tenet” (Warner Bros.), and “Greenland” (STX), all available to rent at $19.99, lead whether the charts calculate by number of purchases or total revenue accrued.

Meantime, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” became the first of Netflix’s film awards contenders to open at #1 on their film chart (as well as on their broader listings). It has remained there for three days with clear indications that it has far more popular interest than several other highly touted entries.

The VOD results provide clues of the state of film distribution (or more accurately, where the money is at the moment. However, in a frustrating turn, we only have rankings and relative interest rather than financial details. That said, the clear success of “Croods” looks like a victory for Universal, at least for the moment.

The DreamWorks Animation sequel added PVOD after 23 days in theaters. That was a week earlier than initially planned, and for good reason. When Universal first told theaters the film would come out after four weekends, they didn’t know that both “Soul” (Disney) and “Wonder Woman 1984” (Warner Bros.) would be available for free and without time restrictions for their subscribers on their studios’ respective streaming sites.

“Croods” was a close #2 in theaters this weekend behind Sony’s new “Monster Hunters” in initial figures. It fell only by a third, with a $27 million gross so far. That will come with a return lower than what the studio takes in from PVOD (80 percent, though shared to an unknown degree with theaters depending on their individual deals).

Of course, “Tenet” has been in theaters since before Labor Day, with the notable exceptions of New York and Los Angeles. Warners still chose to go out with a premium price. It topped charts on its initial days, but then fell behind “Croods” by this weekend. And even where the full week is counted, “Tenet” fell behind. Figure that its ability to reach most of its core fans in theaters with perhaps some resistance to its high price for a what is now an older title played a role. Also, word of mouth, which has been mixed, could be muting interest.


Among those three new releases, “Greenland” is the sole true domestic original. With Gerald Butler in tow, the movie — an action-drama about a dad saving his family in the midst of a natural disaster — was intended as a theatrical release by producer STX. And it has enjoyed that life in much of the world, grossing close to $50 million total. However, it needs domestic response to get into profit (the production cost was $35 million).

Again, knowing the figures would help. But when comparing “Greenland” to “Monster Hunter” and its just over $2 million box office this weekend (again, lower return from theaters than PVOD), it’s hard to argue they weren’t right under current circumstances to make this move.

The rest of the charts are rounded out with multiple holiday-season perennials, led by “Elf,” “The Grinch,” and “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” All three of those were also among the Top Ten box office leaders this weekend.

“The War With Grandpa” (101) is also still in the theatrical list, despite its success there and a lower ($14.99) price fell short of the leaders. It placed #10 at Apple TV (though midweek got to #4). Its premium price elevated it to #4 at revenue based FandangoNow. 101’s well-intentioned plan to stay theater exclusive for 10 weeks may have hurt in the long-run.

The sole other new original is “Hunter Hunter” (IFC), which placed #8 at Apple. The Canadian-produced horror film stars Devon Sawa as a fur trapper who finds his family under siege by a wolf.

“Ma Rainey” wasn’t the only Netflix original to open well there. Before the weekend, the unheralded “A California Christmas” was #1 as well right off. The faith-based romance stars married couple Lauren and Josh Swickard, and was filmed during the pandemic. Meanwhile, less than two weeks into its availability, “Prom” has fallen to tenth place, and “Mank” remains absent as it has been for all but a few weekdays when it opened.

“The Croods: A New Age”


Apple TV

Ranked by number of transactions, with position as of Monday, December 21

1. The Croods: A New Age (Universal) – $19.99

2. Tenet (Warner Bros.) – $19.99

3. Greenland (STX) – $19.99

4. The Grinch (Universal) – $3.99

5. Elf (Warner Bros.) – $3.99

6. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (Warner Bros.) – $3.99

7. Love Actually (Universal) – $3.99

8. The Polar Express (Warner Bros.) – $3.99

9. Hunter Hunter (IFC) – $6.99

10. The War With Grandpa (101) – $14.99


Ranked by revenue accrued not transactions, for December 14-20

1. The Croods: A New Age (Universal) – $19.99

2. Greenland (STX) – $19.99

3. Tenet (Warner Bros.) – $19.99

4. The War With Grandpa (101) – $14.99

5. Honest Thief (Briarcliff) – $14.99

6. Songbird (STX) – $19.99

7. Let Him Go (Focus) – $19.99

8. Freaky (Universal) – $19.99

9. Love and Monsters (Paramount) – $4.99

10. Elf (Warner Bros.) – $3.99


Google Play

Ranked by number of transactions, with the daily position as of Monday, December 21

1. The Croods: A New Age (Universal) – $19.99

2. Tenet (Warner Bros.) – $19.99

3. Greenland (STX) – $19.99

4. Elf (Warner Bros.) – $3.99

5. The Grinch (Universal) – $3.99

6. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (Warner Bros.) – $3.99

7. The New Mutants (Disney) – $5.99

8. Love and Monsters (Paramount) – $4.99

9. Fatman (Saban) – $6.99

10. The Polar Express (Warner Bros.) – $3.99



Ranked by transactions between December 11-17; all priced $6.99 except where noted

1. Unhinged (Solstice)

2. Let Him Go (Universal) – $19.99

3. Love and Monsters (Paramount)

4.Fatman (Saban)

5. Wander (Saban)

6. Freaky (Universal) – $19.99

7. Wild Mountain Thyme (Bleecker Street) – $19.99

8. Buddy Games (Paramount)

9. The New Mutants (Disney)

10. Girl (Screen Media)


Netflix Movies

Most-viewed, current ranking as of Monday, December 21; originals include both Netflix-produced and -acquired titles

1. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020 Netflix original)

2. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2003 theatrical release)

3. A California Christmas (2020 Netflix original)

4. Braven (2018 DVD/VOD release)

5. The Christmas Chronicles 2 (2020 Netflix original)

6. Guest House (2020 Lionsgate VOD release)

7. Ava (2020 VOD release)

8. The Christmas Chronicles (2018 Netflix original)

9. Peppermint (2018 theatrical release)

10. Prom (2020 Netflix original)

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