Tag: VOD

The Best Films of 2020 So Far

href=”//screencrush.com/author/mattsinger/” rel=”author” title=”Matt Singer”>Matt SingerUniversal/A24/Netflix

2020 is already half over. Can you believe it? Time flies when you’re trapped in an endless quarantine in the midst of the worst pandemic in a century!

I kid because the first six months of 2020 has been the longest and most challenging 15 years of my life. But I’m still here! And so are the movies, even if movie theaters themselves have seen better days. In years past, I would limit any sort of “best of” list to films that only got theatrical releases. The pandemic may have finally done away with that long-standing rule — and it’s certainly blurred the already flimsy line between film and television. At this point, the only thing those two words describe is length and format. Very few movies are shot on film (and almost none are projected on it), and “television” is increasingly watched on devices other than TVs. Words are weird.

So whether they did screen in theaters, premiere on VOD, or go straight to streaming, here are the ten best “films” I saw in 2020 so far. All in all, it’s been a pretty good year for cinema, even if it’s been a bad year for literally everything else. I can’t wait to see what the remaining 40 months of 2020 hold in store!

Gallery — The Best Films of 2019:

The New ‘SpongeBob’ Movie Will Skip Theaters, Go Straight to VOD

href=”//screencrush.com/author/mattsinger/” rel=”author” title=”Matt Singer”>Matt SingerParamount

To the growing list of family films that have abandoned theatrical releases in favor of video on demand during the coronavirus pandemic, we can now add The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run. This third SpongeBob SquarePants movie — the first rendered in 3D CGI style — was originally scheduled to open in theaters on the winter of 2019. It was pushed back several times until it arrived at a May 22, 2020 debut that was then postponed because of the pandemic.

Sponge on the Run was previously rescheduled for a release on August 7, but now it will instead premiere on VOD before it becomes available exclusively on Viacom’s CBS All Access streaming service in 2021. The site is also touting that it will soon add SpongeBob SquarePants episodes as part of an “expansion” of its catalog.

The move comes after several other high-profile spring and early summer family films skipped theaters and did relatively well on VOD, including Universal’s Trolls World Tour and Warner Bros.’ Scoob. Movie theaters around the country are preparing to reopen in mid-July in time for blockbusters like Mulan and Tenet, but even as those plans are underway coronavirus cases are beginning to rise again in numerous parts of the United States.

Here was the official synopsis of Sponge on the Run:

After SpongeBob’s beloved pet snail Gary is snail-napped, he and Patrick embark on an epic adventure to The Lost City of Atlantic City to bring Gary home. As they navigate the delights and dangers on this perilous and hilarious rescue mission, SpongeBob and his pals prove there’s nothing stronger than the power of friendship.

Also Keanu Reeves is in it. Hopefully he’s okay with this decision.

Gallery — The Best Childrens Shows in History:

Edgar Wright’s ‘Last Night In Soho’ Announces New Release Date

href=”//screencrush.com/author/claireepting/” rel=”author” title=”Claire Epting”>Claire EptingFocus Features

Edgar Wright’s upcoming psychological thriller Last Night In Soho is the latest film to be pushed back due to the coronavirus. According to Focus Features’ official statement, the movie was supposed to be released on September 25. But outside forces have caused Last Night In Soho to be rescheduled to April 21, 2021. The news was shared by Wright himself via Twitter:

Set in London, Last Night In Soho stars Anya Taylor-Joy (Emma), Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie (Jo Jo Rabbit), and Matt Smith (The Crown). Wright co-wrote the script with Krysty Wilson-Cairns, known for her work on Penny Dreadful. Nira Park produced the film.

In recent weeks, we’ve seen a few different movies head to VOD months earlier than usual. Trolls World Tour decided to jump off the theatrical release ship entirely and premiere on VOD. However, many filmmakers are holding out for the day when their movies can be shown in theaters, the way they were intended to be viewed. Plus, movie theaters rely on high-profile releases to stay in business. This is why so many movies, including the upcoming James Bond installment No Time to Die, have pushed their premieres to the fall. But with Last Night In Soho, it seems as if the delays are beyond that. Filming for the picture wrapped in August of 2019, but we haven’t seen a trailer yet.

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‘Tenet’ Trailer: Christopher Nolan’s Time-Twisting Thriller

href=”//screencrush.com/author/mattsinger/” rel=”author” title=”Matt Singer”>Matt SingerWarner Bros.

We’re now less than two months from July 17. It doesn’t seem like movie theaters will be fully ready to receive massive crowds by then. But maybe Christopher Nolan knows something we don’t. Or maybe time just doesn’t work in his world the way it does in ours. That’s certainly what it looks like in the trailer for Tenet, Nolan’s latest high-concept thriller. Exactly what happens in the movie is still not completely clear — there isn’t even a detailed plot synopsis for the movie — but there is enough of it happening onscreen to know that somehow people are moving forward and backwards in time. How and why? Who knows!

Watch the new Tenet trailer now:

While the trailer only says “Coming to Theaters,” the YouTube page for the trailer confirms the movie is “coming to theaters 7.17.20.” (I’m going to assume the trailer doesn’t have a specific date so that it’s evergreen even if the date does change.)

Tenet is one of the few movies left from this summer that hasn’t budged from its original release date. While every major movie between April and late June has either been delayed or gone straight to VOD, Nolan has fought to not only finish the movie on time but be the first movie to greet patrons as they return to movie theaters after mass closures following the rise of the coronavirus. So for now, Tenet opens in theaters on July 17, 2020.

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Disney Will Decide on Theatrical or VOD on a “Case-By Case” Basis

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The coronavirus has drastically altered the movie industry as we know it. As theaters remain closed in most places around the country, studios are scrambling to figure out a release strategy that keeps up with these new changes. After Universal saw success with their digital release of Trolls World Tour, they’re now looking to incorporate "Premium VOD" into their future business model. And movie theaters aren’t happy about it. But where does Disney stand on the matter?

On Disney’s Q2 earnings call yesterday, CEO Bob Chapek discussed the company’s stance on Premium VOD as a potential option for movie releases. He stated that Premium VOD would not replace Disney’s theatrical releases at all. However, other changes will manifest over time, including the decision to debut certain titles on Disney+ or other digital platforms. Said Chapek:

We very much believe in the value of the theatrical experience overall to launch blockbuster movies… But we also believe that either because of changing and evolving consumer dynamics or because of certain situations like COVID, we may have to make some changes to that overall strategy just because theaters aren’t open or aren’t open to the extent that anybody needs to be financially viable. So, we’re going to evaluate each of our movies as a case-by-case situation, as we are doing during right now during this coronavirus situation.

So far, Disney has decided to shift their upcoming release, Artemis Fowl, from theaters straight to Disney+ later this June. That’s the only title so far to face that change — everything else has been delayed until theaters are allowed to reopen. But now that we know Disney is open to the idea, we may see other non-blockbuster movies receive the same treatment. However, Marvel and Star Wars movies will almost certainly continue to be released in theaters, just as they were intended to be.

Gallery — The Most Surprising Movies on Disney+:

‘Trolls 2’ Made More on VOD Than The Original Did in Theaters

href=”//screencrush.com/author/screencrushstaff/” rel=”author” title=”ScreenCrush Staff”>ScreenCrush StaffDreamWorks

For additional context to the news yesterday that Universal is sending another one of its planned summer releases to VOD instead of waiting for the end of the coronavirus pandemic and the reopening of global movie theaters, check out this story in the Wall Street Journal. Examining the financial results of Universal’s first straight-to-VOD blockbuster, this spring’s Troll World Tour, they found that the movie was an enormous — and possibly groundbreaking — success.

The Journal writes that Trolls World Tour’s success at home was comparable to the first movie’s success in theaters:

Trolls World Tour has racked up nearly $100 million in rentals. With nearly five million rentals, the digital release has in three weeks generated more revenue for Universal than the original “Trolls” did during its five-month theatrical run, according to a person familiar with the matter.

There are some important caveats to this news. The first Trolls made a significant amount of money in theaters — and then even more on home video and VOD. Trolls World Tour may have grossed the equivalent of a theatrical release on VOD, but it’s safe to say it probably would have made that much in theaters and then made even more during its traditional run on the secondary home market. Plus, some of Trolls World Tour’s success surely has to do with the fact that parents were desperate for entertainment options for their kids — the movie had almost no competition among new releases at the time, or from most other means of family entertainment, since parents and kids were trapped at home.

Basically, Trolls World Tour has done very well, and perhaps as well as any movie could possibly have done under extraordinary circumstances, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that when all of this is over theaters are going to go the way of the dodo. There are some movies that are so big they could never make enough money just on VOD to justify their cost. You are going to have to wait until movie theaters reopen to see those kinds of films again.

Gallery — More Movies That Got Early VOD Releases:

Judd Apatow’s ‘King of Staten Island’ Going Straight to VOD

href=”//screencrush.com/author/mattsinger/” rel=”author” title=”Matt Singer”>Matt SingerUniversal

When the coronavirus pandemic began to affect life around the country, Universal was one of the first companies to push their theatrical movies straight to video on demand. They quickly moved one of their big spring releases, Trolls World Tour, to VOD — and had (at least according to their official press releases) a record-breaking opening day for a digital movie.

Apparently, that release was successful enough that they’re ready to expand the strategy to more films. The King of Staten Island was originally scheduled to premiere at the 2020 South By Southwest Film Festival. Then South By Southwest was completely canceled by the pandemic. And King of Staten Island — which pairs Saturday Night Live star Pete Davidson with writer/director Judd Apatow — was in limbo.

Today, Apatow announced on his Twitter feed in a video with Davidson that The King of Staten Island was headed to VOD a week before it was originally scheduled to open in theaters:

The King of Staten Island is loosely based on Davidson’s own early years growing up on Staten Island. Like the real Davidson, his character’s father died in 9/11, deeply affecting the rest of his life. In the film, his mom (Marisa Tomei) starts dating a firefighter (Bill Burr), and apparently forces Davidson’s Scott to take stock of his mess of a life.

Previously, most of the big Hollywood films that were bypassing theaters for VOD and streaming were family films — like Trolls World Tour, Warner Bros.’ Scoob!, and Disney’s Artemis Fowl. The King of Staten Island is very much aimed at an older audience, so it will be interesting to see how the film is received on VOD. With all due respect to Apatow’s extremely funny filmography, he doesn’t necessarily produce movies that demand to be appreciated on the big screen for their incredible visuals. People love watching his stuff over and over on home video anyway. So this could be a savvy move.

Gallery — More Movies With Early VOD Releases Due to Coronavirus:

‘The Simpsons’ New Short Film Arrives on Disney Plus Tomorrow

href=”//screencrush.com/author/mattsinger/” rel=”author” title=”Matt Singer”>Matt SingerFox

Earlier this spring, approximately 15 years ago, Disney surprised folks who went to see Pixar’s Onward in theaters with a brand new short film from The Simpsons. Titled “Playdate With Destiny,” it was just the second theatrical short from The Simpsons team in their 30 years producing the beloved animated series.

Well, a lot has changed since then. Coronavirus has swept the globe. Movie theaters are closed. Onward quickly went to VOD, and then to streaming on Disney+. And starting tomorrow, “Playdate With Destiny” will join it, as the company has announced on Instagram that the short will be made available for streaming on April 10.

Here’s the note that was posted from series creator Matt Groening and the rest of the “Playdate With Destiny” creative team:

And this is how the press release describes “Playdate With Destiny”:

The film begins on a day that seemed like just another day at the park for Maggie Simpson. But when Maggie faces playground peril, a heroic young baby whisks her from danger — and steals her heart. After a blissful first playdate, Maggie can’t wait to see her new baby beau again the following day, but things don’t go exactly as planned.  Will fate (or Homer) get in her way?

This is a nice treat, although right now shorts aren’t really what we need — we need lots and lots of long content. And we’re still waiting for Disney+ to fix the aspect ratio of the first two decades of The Simpsons; supposedly that is coming by the end of May. But I’ll definitely watch this tomorrow. It’s not like I have anything else on my schedule.

Gallery — The Best TV Of the Decade:

‘The Trip to Greece’ Trailer: The Best Franchise in the World Returns

href=”//screencrush.com/author/mattsinger/” rel=”author” title=”Matt Singer”>Matt SingerIFC Films

One of my first articles here at ScreenCrush was a lengthy and passionate essay about The Trip, the series of films (technically British television shows condensed to films for the American market) about comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, playing themselves, taking food tours through beautiful European locales. In 2014, I called The Trip “the best current movie franchise on the planet.”

Six years later, I see no reason to dispute that — especially now that we’re close to getting the fourth installment in the series, The Trip to Greece. This time, Coogan and Brydon are retracing Odysseus steps, adding a extra layer of meta fun to the usual celebrity impressions, food porn, and middle-aged angst.

Here’s the trailer for the film. My only issue with it is that it makes it clear this is going to be the final movie in the series, which I find totally unacceptable.

Here’s the film’s official synopsis:

When Odysseus left Troy it took him ten years to get back to his home in Ithaca. Steve and Rob have only six days on their own personal odyssey in THE TRIP TO GREECE. On the way they argue about tragedy and comedy, astronomy and biology, myth, history, democracy and the meaning of life! Featuring locations such as: Temple of Apollo at Delphi, the Ancient Agora of Athens, the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus, the unique island of Hydra, the Caves of Diros, Nestor’s Palace, Niokastro Fortress in Pylos, and Ancient Stagira, as well as a lot of shooting in restaurants and hotels in Athens, Hydra, Lesvos, Chalkidiki, Pelion, Kavala, and at the Peloponnese.

The Trip to Greece opens in theaters (maybe?) and on VOD on May 22.

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