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The rise and fall of Blockbuster and how it's surviving with just one store left


Following is a transcript of the video.

Irene Kim: At its peak in the late '90s, Blockbuster owned over 9,000 video-rental stores in the United States, employed 84,000 people worldwide, and had 65 million registered customers. Once valued as a $3 billion company, in just one year, Blockbuster earned $800 million in late fees alone.

But fast-forward a decade, and Blockbuster ceased to exist, having filed for bankruptcy with over $900 million in debt. So, what happened?

Blockbuster was founded by David Cook, a software supplier in the oil and gas industry. After studying the potential of a video-store business for a friend, he realized that a well-franchised chain could grow to 1,500 units. And so the first Blockbuster store opened in Dallas on October 19, 1985.

Andy Ash: According to David Cook, the opening night of that first Blockbuster store was a huge success. The story goes that they actually had to lock the doors because of overcrowding. The thing that really set Blockbuster apart at that time was their huge range of titles. Other independent video stores could only keep track of 100 or so movies. Blockbuster had an innovative new barcode system, which meant that they could track up to 10,000 VHSs per store to each registered customer, which also meant that they could keep an eye on those lucrative late fees.

Kim: Off the back of this success, Cook built a $6 million distribution center, not only so that new stores could pop up quickly, but also to house a huge range of titles, so that each store's inventory could be tailored to local demographics.

Commercial: Wow! Wow! Wow!

Kim: In 1987, Blockbuster received $18.5 million from a trio of investors, including Waste Management founder Wayne Huizenga, in return for voting control, but after two months of intense disagreements, Cook left Blockbuster and Huizenga assumed control. Under Huizenga, Blockbuster embarked on an aggressive expansion plan, buying out existing video-rental chains while opening new stores at a rate of one per day.

By 1988, just three years after the first store opened, Blockbuster was America's No. 1 video chain, with over 400 stores nationwide.

But as Blockbuster became a multibillion-dollar company in the early '90s, adding music and video-game rental to its stores, Huizenga was worried about how emerging technology like cable television could hurt Blockbuster's video-store model. After briefly considering buying a cable company and even receiving approval from the Florida Legislature to build a Blockbuster amusement park in Miami, Huizenga offloaded Blockbuster to media giant Viacom for $8 billion in 1994. In only two years under Viacom, Blockbuster lost half of its value.

While Blockbuster and its new boss, John Antioco, focused on brick-and-mortar video stores, technological innovations meant that competition was on the rise. In 1997, Reed Hastings founded Netflix, a DVD-by-mail rental service at the time, in part after being frustrated with a $40 late fee from Blockbuster. Two years later, having passed on an opportunity to buy Netflix for $50 million, Blockbuster teamed up with Enron to create a video-on-demand service. In a deal that saw Enron do most of the work, a robust video-on-demand platform was successfully built and tested with customers. But it soon became clear to Enron that Blockbuster was so focused on its lucrative video stores that it had little time or commitment for the video-on-demand business. As a result, in 2001, Blockbuster walked away from the first major development of wide-scale movie streaming.

Within a few years, Netflix and other competitors began to eat into Blockbuster's profits, not by undercutting it, but by reimagining video rental in the digital age.

Commercial: There's a better way to rent movies. Go to Netflix.com, make a list of the movies you wanna see, and in about one business day you'll get three DVDs. Keep them as long as you want, without late fees. Then, when you're done, look: prepaid envelopes. Return one and they'll send you another movie from your list. Netflix. All the movies you want, 20 bucks a month, and no late fees.

Kim: It took Blockbuster almost five years to introduce its own DVD-by-mail service and even longer to scrap late fees.

Commercial: No more late fees! No more late fees! No more late fees?

Kim: By that time, Netflix had amassed almost 3 million customers, had no store overheads, and was preparing to launch its revolutionary streaming service. Blockbuster's troubles continued through the mid-2000s. After parting from Viacom and experimenting with in-store concepts such as DVD and game trading, Blockbuster was in the midst of an identity crisis.

In 2009, Netflix posted earnings of $116 million. Meanwhile, Blockbuster, with its continuing business problems and legal battles, lost $518 million. On July 1, 2010, Blockbuster was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange. Its foray into video-on-demand streaming came too late, and over the next three years, Blockbuster died a slow and painful death. DVD-by-mail services stopped, its various partnerships folded, and stores worldwide were rapidly plunged into administration.

Its 9,000-strong chain had been reduced to one single franchise in Bend, Oregon. As a result of Blockbuster's complete shutdown, one can only speculate about what could have been for the once home-movie giant.

Ash: They were too busy making money in their video stores to imagine a time when people would no longer want or need them. And in a bid to rescue their business, their answer at the time was to fight fire with fire. At one point they even opened up rental kiosks, a little bit like a vending machine, but all of these attempts were based on either outdated technology or outdated business models, whereas Netflix at the time, they did the opposite; they streamlined, they were able to see the future of video rentals and then innovate for that future. Blockbuster, they didn't seem to understand how the next generation, particularly millennials, who grew up in a world without hard-copy media like DVDs and CDs, how they would react to video-on-demand as technology improved. And that's why Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, and Hulu, they're still all in business, whilst Blockbuster got left behind.

Kim: According to Netflix's former Chief Financial Officer Barry McCarthy, as part of the failed 2000 Blockbuster-Netflix buyout, Reed Hastings proposed that Netflix would run the Blockbuster brand online. If that deal had been successful and Hastings had replicated Netflix's innovation for Blockbuster, the face of home video would likely still be blue and yellow. The last-ever Blockbuster movie was rented on November 9, 2013. Fittingly, the film in question was "This Is the End."

EDITOR'S NOTE: This video was originally published in January 2020.

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How movie theaters are ruining your movie

  • Movie theaters aren't doing enough to ensure that their audience is seeing a movie the way it is meant to be seen.
  • Many theaters have little quality control over things like screen masking and projector brightness, and it has begun to hurt the moviegoing experience.
  • We talked with two projection experts to help us understand what is going on inside the booth.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: Which looks better? This, or that? Well, what if I told you that you may have been paying a premium to see the worst version.

You know those black bars you sometimes see on the top, bottom or sides of a movie? They occur because movies are filmed at different frame sizes, or aspect ratios. "Lady Bird", shot in widescreen should appear differently than "Star Wars", which was shot in Cinemascope. A Cinemascope movie on your TV will have black bars on the top and bottom, while a movie theater masks the frame with retractable curtains. These curtains at Night Hawk Cinema in Brooklyn absorb the light and create a frame around the projected image. But take away the curtains and...

Chapin Cutler: When you don't have masking what happens is you've got this gray area of screen which isn't reflecting picture, it's not reflecting the image. It just sort-of sits there and looks ugly. There is a move afoot by some theater circuits, I guess in order to save money, that have decided that, that's a waste of money and they're not gonna do it.

Narrator: That's Chapin Cutler. He's been working in the projection and theater business for over 40 years. The empty screen space can be distracting and takes away from the immersive experience of seeing a movie on the big screen.

Another problem? Projector brightness, which can be affected by the age and cleanliness of the bulb, along with any dirt or smudges that may be on the window of the projection booth. Some "Solo" attendees reported seeing extremely dark almost unviewable projections with a few saying that they had to struggle to see what was on screen.

Chapin Cutler: If the standard that's been established for the amount of light that is supposed to be on the screen isn't there, then not only does the picture look dark but you don't see anything that goes on in the shadows. All of that information disappears.

Narrator: And if there was a 3D showing in the theater before a standard 2D showing a lens meant only for 3D movies may still be on the projector making the image two thirds darker than it should be.

Joe Muto: Showing something like that with a very low light level is gonna take away from it. If that's the experience you walk away with that's going to impede your positive judgment of the film, and that's just gonna ruin it for you.

Narrator: Hurting both the team behind the movie and its viewers, and possibly creating customers who may not come back to that theater for a sub-par experience.

The issues aren't limited to "Solo." The past few years have seen numerous reports of theaters not doing enough to ensure quality screenings. Standard 2D movie tickets average about $9.00 in the U.S. And almost twice that in places like New York City. But is the price of admission worth seeing a movie that is not being shown the way it is meant to? You can get a full 4K movie for 15 bucks. Why bother with what may be a questionable theater presentation if you can get cinema-like quality at home?

The picture may be bigger, and the sound may be better but if you're having a bad theater experience, take note. If a theater has a dark blurry picture or leaves empty areas of the screen unmasked try a different theater. Many are still working hard to bring you the best picture possible.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This video was originally published in July 2018.

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The top 9 movies on Netflix this week, from 'Jurassic Park' to 'Work It'


Jurassic Park T Rex

  • "Jurassic Park" is a hit on Netflix after leaving Peacock, and Netflix's original movie "Work It" is popular with users.
  • Netflix introduced daily top lists of the most popular titles on the streaming service in February.
  • Streaming search engine Reelgood keeps track of the lists and provides Business Insider with a rundown of the week's most popular movies on Netflix every Friday.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

"Jurassic Park" quickly departed NBCUniversal's new streaming service Peacock for Netflix this month and the beloved Steven Spielberg movie is one of the streaming giant's most popular movies now.

Netflix introduced daily top 10 lists of its most viewed movies and TV shows in February (it counts a view if an account watches at least two minutes of a title).

Every week, the streaming search engine Reelgood compiles for Business Insider a list of which movies have been most prominent on Netflix's daily lists that week. On Reelgood, users can browse Netflix's entire movie library and sort by IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes ratings.

Netflix's new original movie, "Work It," is also popular with subscribers.

Below are Netflix's 9 most popular movies of the week in the US:

SEE ALSO: Should you pay for Peacock? Data reveals you can watch most of its movies and TV shows on the free version.

9. "Acts of Violence" (2018)

Description:"When his future sister-in-law is kidnapped by human traffickers, a military veteran joins forces with his brothers and a world-weary cop to rescue her."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 0%

What critics said: "It's too tasteful, if that's the word, to consistently exploit the more lurid implications of its sensationalist scenario. Which I suppose speaks well of the filmmakers as people. But not that well."— New York Times

8. "We Summon the Darkness" (2019)

Description: "A night at a 1980s heavy metal concert hits a grisly note when new friends find themselves in the middle of a satanic murder spree."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 69%

What critics said: "An appealing cast and slick period production values make this an entertaining enough retro bloodbath."— Hollywood Reporter

7. "The Lost Husband" (2020)

Description: "Looking to start anew, a widow retreats with her children to her aunt's goat farm, where the ranch's manager helps her navigate country life and loss."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 60%

What critics said: "An old-fashioned but charming movie that affirms that maybe romantic dramas aren't dead after all."— RogerEbert.com

6. "Malibu Rescue: The Next Wave" (2020, Netflix original)

Description: "As summer returns to Malibu, Team Flounder takes to the beach to host — and unexpectedly compete in — the International Beachmaster Competition."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: N/A

What critics said: "Malibu Rescue has more than enough kid laughs to get your preteen hooked. And the cast is appealing enough that you won't want to go to another room while your kid watches."— Decider

5. "National Security" (2003)

Description: "Two mismatched security guards — a former cop and a police academy washout — find themselves working together to bust a smuggling ring."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 11%

What critics said: "Is it a thoroughly offensive attempt to disguise a reactionary view of African-Americans as manipulative, self-serving, serial complainers as 'comedy'? Definitely."— BBC

4. "Mr. Deeds" (2002)

Description: "After inheriting a media empire, humble Longfellow Deeds moves to the Big Apple — where a reporter and a company bigwig are waiting to pounce on him."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 22%

What critics said: "A remake so bad it will make your gums bleed."— Guardian


3. "Jurassic Park" (1993)

Description: "A multimillionaire unveils a theme park where visitors can see live dinosaurs, but an employee tampers with the security system and the dinos escape."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 91%

What critics said: "Jurassic Park shows us a director in transition, and the film captures his transformation in its own kind of cinematic amber."— Vulture

2. "Dennis the Menace" (1993)

Description: "Mr. Wilson looks to mischievous Dennis to help find a valuable collection of gold coins that go missing when a shady drifter comes to town."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 27%

What critics said: "Its unholy mixture of peppy sadism and pious, self-righteous sentiment comes straight from Hughes' crabbed cinematic heart."— Entertainment Weekly

1. "Work It" (2020, Netflix original)

Description: "A brilliant but clumsy high school senior vows to get into her late father's alma mater by transforming herself and a misfit squad into dance champions."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 85%

What critics said: "There's little in the way of originality in 'Work It,' but there's a fresh, upbeat, infectious vibe to the silliness, thanks in large part to the talented and likable cast of young actors."— Chicago Sun-Times

Major movie-theater chains like AMC and Regal are reopening this week, but a new survey suggests only a small fraction of US consumers are ready to return



  • Major theater chains like AMC Theatres and Regal are set to reopen in the US this week.
  • But a new Morning Consult survey, which polled 2,200 US adults, found that only 17% said they'd be comfortable returning to a movie theater immediately.
  • Fifty-one percent of those surveyed said they would feel comfortable going to a movie theater only within the next six months or longer.
  • Warner Bros.' "Tenet," scheduled to open in select US cities on September 3, is billed as the first major test to see whether audiences will return to theaters for a blockbuster movie.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Major theater chains like AMC Theatres and Regal are planning to open their doors in the US this week after five months with the lights off during the coronavirus pandemic. But most US consumers seem unlikely to return quickly.

AMC says it will open 100 US locations on Thursday, with Regal planning to reopen its theaters on Friday, with health-related safety protocols in place such as limited seating capacity and requirements that guests wear masks when not eating or drinking.

But not even safety guidelines or 15-cent tickets — which AMC is offering on opening day — may be enough to drive audiences back to the movies amid coronavirus concerns, a new Morning Consult survey suggests.

In its latest survey on US adults' comfort level with certain activities, conducted Friday to Monday, Morning Consult found that most respondents were more comfortable with other activities like going out to eat or going to a shopping mall. Morning Consult surveyed 2,200 US adults, and just 17% said they would be comfortable going to the movies immediately, a dip from about 20% earlier this month.

Twenty-two percent of the 565 millennial respondents said they were comfortable returning to movie theaters right away, a decrease from nearly 30% a couple of weeks ago. Thirteen percent of the 750 baby-boomer respondents said the same.

Movie theaters' prospects for the remainder of the year look bleak. Fifty-one percent of the total respondents said they would feel comfortable going to a movie theater only within six months or more. Twenty-five percent said they would be comfortable going within two weeks to three months. The remaining 24% weren't sure or had no opinion.

After being pushed back multiple times, the Warner Bros. film "Tenet," directed by Christopher Nolan, is scheduled for release in select US cities on over Labor Day weekend on September 3 (after an international debut on August 26).

Other movies, including the long-delayed "X-Men" spinoff "New Mutants," are set for release before that, but "Tenet" is widely viewed as the first major test of whether audiences are willing to return to theaters for a hotly anticipated blockbuster.

Disney decided not to take that risk with "Mulan." Earlier this month, the company announced that the live-action remake would debut on its streaming service, Disney Plus, for an additional $30 fee, at which point audiences will always have access to the movie as long as they have a Disney Plus subscription.

SEE ALSO: Disney's decision to debut 'Mulan' on Disney Plus for $30 could mean big changes for movie theaters, but the economics of high-price digital releases are daunting

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The first 'Harry Potter' movie just hit $1 billion at the global box office 19 years after it was released


harry potter quidditch sorcerer's stone smiling

  • "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," which was first released in 2001, crossed $1 billion at the global box office this week after being rereleased in China, where theaters have started to reopen.
  • The movie earned $13.6 million on 16,000 screens in China over the weekend.
  • It's the second movie in the franchise to hit the milestone, joining "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," the first "Harry Potter" movie released in 2001, finally joined the billion-dollar club 19 years after first hitting theaters.

Warner Bros. released a 4K 3D restoration of the movie in China over the weekend, where cinemas have started to reopen after being closed for months due to the coronavirus pandemic. The movie pulled in $13.6 million over the weekend on 16,000 screens, Deadline reported. Now, it's total global gross is just over $1 billion, according to Box Office Mojo.

It's the second "Harry Potter" movie in the franchise to hit the milestone, joining the final entry, 2011's "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2," which grossed $1.4 billion.

Theatrical releases in the US may face greater challenges at the box office.

Major chains like AMC Theatres and Regal are set to reopen their doors in the US this week ahead of movie releases like "New Mutants" and "Tenet." But a new Morning Consult survey on Tuesday showed that audiences are hesitant to return. Of 2,200 US adults surveyed, only 17% said they would be comfortable going to the movies immediately.

All eight "Harry Potter" movies are currently streaming on WarnerMedia's HBO Max, but will leave the service next week. They'll be available on rival NBCUniversal's new streaming service, Peacock, in October.

NBCUniversal initially held the digital rights to the movies through 2025, but WarnerMedia struck a last-minute deal for them to be available on Max at launch. The movies will be available on Peacock in windows over six months starting in October.

SEE ALSO: Major movie-theater chains like AMC and Regal are reopening this week, but a new survey suggests only a small fraction of US consumers are ready to return

Join the conversation about this story »

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The rise and fall of Blockbuster



Before there was Netflix, HBO Go, or Amazon Prime, there was Blockbuster. 

Throughout the '90s and early 2000s, Blockbuster was the top video-rental company in the US, but that didn't last forever. As other, more dynamic services emerged and customers complained about late fees, Blockbuster eventually went bankrupt. Today, just one store remains in Bend, Oregon.

Here's what happened in Blockbuster's 35-year history in the movie-rental business.

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David Cook opened the first Blockbuster in 1985.

After working in computer software, Cook decided to open his own video-rental store in Dallas, Texas. His company was different than other rental stores because it offered customers a selection of 8,000 VHS tapes with the help of a modern, computerized check-out process, while other, smaller rental stores could only offer a couple hundred movies. 

One year later, Cook expanded Blockbuster by opening three more stores.

At the time, rental stores, like Blockbuster, were the only way people could watch movies that had left theaters without buying the VHS tapes themselves. 

In 1987, three major investors took Blockbuster to the next level.

They invested $18.5 million in Blockbuster, according to Quartz. Later that year, Cook left the company, as the headquarters moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. 

Under new management, the company bought up local video stores and opened new ones under the Blockbuster branding.

In 1988, Blockbuster became the leading video-store chain in the US with 800 stores.

In the '90s, Blockbuster hit a major milestone when it opened its 1,000th store.

In 1992, the company also expanded overseas when it bought out video-rental chain Ritz in the UK. At this time, there were 2,800 Blockbuster stores. 

In 1994, Viacom bought the video-rental company for $8.4 billion.

Five years later, Viacom took Blockbuster public, as the number of stores reached 6,000 globally.

But trouble was on the horizon in 1997, as Blockbuster's future competitor, Netflix, was founded.

Blockbuster was known for charging customers a fee for every day they were late returning a movie rental. In fact, Blockbuster said it made $800 million in late fees, or 16% of its revenue, Quartz reported. This frustrated many customers, including Netflix founder Reed Hastings. 

Hastings said he founded Netflix because he did not want to pay the $40 fine he acquired at Blockbuster. In its early stages, Hastings' company, which had no late fees, would send DVDs straight to your house for a flat monthly rate.

In 2000, Blockbuster made the first mistake that would mark its demise: The company decided not to buy Netflix.

Blockbuster considered buying the popular Netflix service for $50 million, but the company decided to not make the purchase. Netflix went on to become even more popular and more profitable than Blockbuster. 

In 2002, Blockbuster's other big competitor, Redbox, launched.

Redbox's addition to the market reinforced the idea that people wanted quicker rental options with no late fees, so Blockbuster had to make a change. 

Despite the rise of Netflix and Redbox, Blockbuster was at its peak in 2004.

That year, Blockbuster had 9,000 stores globally, according to Business Insider, and it earned $5.9 billion in revenue.

But the company started making major changes in the early 2000s that would ultimately lead to its downfall.

In 2004, Viacom parted ways with Blockbuster. That same year, the company launched Blockbuster Online, but it was already years behind Netflix.

At the same time, Blockbuster decided to end late fees. It was estimated that it would cost the company $200 million to stop collecting late fees and another $200 million to start the new venture, Blockbuster Online, according to a Harvard Business Review article by former CEO John Antioco.

In the following years, Blockbuster's market value dwindled, hinting at its bleak future.

From 2003 to 2005, the company lost 75% of its market value, Forbes reported.

In 2010, the rental company filed for bankruptcy after Netflix's popularity continued to grow.

In an attempt to wipe out $1 billion of debt, Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy, and the company was delisted from the NYSE.

The following year, Dish Network bought the company out of bankruptcy for $320 million in hopes of keeping 600 stores open. 

However, Dish Network announced in 2013 that it would close the remaining Blockbuster stores.

At the time, there were only 300 Blockbuster stores still in operation, Business Insider reported.

Today, the Blockbuster franchise has dwindled to just one store in Bend, Oregon, which has been turned into an Airbnb.

The standalone Blockbuster says it's still in operation because of its loyal customer base, citing the fact that they have 4,000 accounts and sign up new customers each day. The store also said a large number of tourists visits the store to reminisce about the former rental company. 

In 2020, the lone store plans to open its doors for overnight guests by partnering with Airbnb. Starting September 18, fans can stay up to three nights with four of their friends for just $4 per night in the Oregon Blockbuster. 

At its peak, Blockbuster had 9,000 stores globally and made $5.9 billion, but today the once-famous video rental company has shrunk to a single store in a small town. 

AMC, Regal, Cinemark, and Marcus Theaters are reopening, and the first movie they're showing is 'Unhinged'


amc theaters

  • AMC, Regal, Cinemark, and Marcus Theaters are partially reopening Thursday.
  • The coronavirus pandemic has clobbered the movie business, with theaters shuttering and studios forced to push back major summer releases.
  • "Unhinged"— a road-rage thriller starring Russell Crowe — will be one of the first films on the big screen at these cinema chains.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Starting Thursday, movie lovers in the US can once again catch a flick at national movie theater chains like AMC, Regal, Cinemark, and Marcus Theater.

CNBC reported that 100 AMC Theater locations have been attempting to attract viewers with 15 cent tickets for hit films like Marvel's "Black Panther." Theaters will also begin screening a new release on Friday: "Unhinged," featuring actor Russell Crowe.

The newly reopened theaters won't offer moviegoers a pre-pandemic experience, however. Social distancing will be enforced through limited seating. Popcorn and soda won't be sold, and guests will be required to wear masks.


The entire movie business has been disrupted by the coronavirus. Movie theater chains throughout the country closed locations in the face of the virus. Major production studios, as a result, have been forced to hold onto major releases. Two notable examples are Disney's "Mulan" and Christopher Nolan's "Tenet" which have had premiere dates pushed back this year.

AMC itself has skirted on the edge of bankruptcy due to the pandemic. Yet the company's reopening this week may not attract many viewers immediately. A Morning Consult study found that only 17% of 2,200 survey respondents would be comfortable catching a movie in theaters right now.

SEE ALSO: Major movie-theater chains like AMC and Regal are reopening this week, but a new survey suggests only a small fraction of US consumers are ready to return

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: How movie theaters are ruining your movie

Russell Crowe's 'Unhinged' is the first major movie to open in US theaters during the pandemic. The studio head behind it explains his strategy.


unhinged movie

  • Solstice Studios' "Unhinged," which hits theaters Friday, is the first new wide release in the US in more than five months, as theaters reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Business Insider talked with Solstice CEO Mark Gill about why the company is releasing "Unhinged," the studio's first movie, at this moment and the potential safety concerns audiences may face at a theater. 
  • Gill also talked about the future of the theater industry and where Solstice fits as major studios experiment with digital releases.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Movie theaters in the US have been closed for more than five months as the coronavirus pandemic ravages the entertainment industry.

That changes this week when major chains like AMC Theatres and Regal Cinemas reopen their doors to the public in regions where local governments have allowed, with health guidelines in place, such as limited seating and mask wearing.

But will that be enough to entice audiences to return? That's the hope of Mark Gill, the president and CEO of Solstice Studios.

Solstice, a company founded in 2018, is set to release its first movie this weekend: "Unhinged," a Russell Crowe-starring road-rage thriller that was moved up from a September 4 release and then delayed multiple times amid the pandemic.

Now, Solstice's first movie will also be a test for the releases that follow.

Business Insider talked with Gill about why Solstice is releasing the movie now and what the future of movie theaters may look like.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

Unhinged Solstice Studios

Travis Clark: What was going through your head when theaters shut down? Did you think we'd still be dealing with this five months later?

Mark Gill: The problem with this whole thing is that nobody knows anything, right? [laughs] You didn't know if it would be a few months or a few years at that early stage. It looked pretty bleak. California shut down early and then unfortunately blew the reopening, but you saw other places like New York that were devastated. It was really scary. So, for a while, we were hiding in the bunker.

Eventually, by May, we thought there might be a way out of this. As it relates to our movie, we were sitting on a September 4 date, but a number of spring movies were delayed, including "A Quiet Place 2" and it landed right on our date [it has since been delayed to next year]. That was a super tanker coming and we're a little speed boat about to get crushed [laughs]. So we started looking later in the fall and winter and even into the spring of next year, but it looked really crowded. There were a number of movies obviously there from pre-COVID, but then also the postponed movies. It didn't look to us that there would be any room for us to release our movie later, so that's when we thought about going earlier.

Clark: This movie has a pretty moderate budget [$33 million]. Was there ever any discussion to release it to an alternative to theaters, like digital or streaming?

Gill: No, we set the company up to be a theatrical company. And we had sold this and other movies internationally to other distributors and one of the requirements of those contracts was to release the movie wide in the US in theaters. 

Clark: What are your expectations in terms of the box office this weekend and what is the long-term strategy? 

Gill: I have no clue what the first weekend holds. In the full run of North America, if we get to $30 million or better, we're happy. The question is, how do you get there? And there are a number of different examples to point to because we've already opened the movie in 20 countries around the world. Australia and the Netherlands were strong, the rest were solid. 

In Australia, it's made about $2 million, which is a good result, but it took a while to get there. We're a little more than three weeks in. But it has room because there aren't going to be 15 new releases every month. 

The European example is a little more modest. Canada is the third way to think about it. Canada restricted theaters to no more than 50 people per theater, which is pretty stringent. In the US, it seems like it will be mostly 50% capacity. The average theater size is around 350 people, so that's 175 people per theater versus 50. The $601,000 we made in Canada [this past weekend] is modest in normal times, but with only 50 seats per theater, that seems good. 

It's impossible to know if any of this is applicable to the US. But Canada normally drafts pretty heavily off of US marketing spend and we held 60% of our US marketing spend in the last week because the date kept moving and we didn't want to waste all the money.

This is just the most baffling thing ever. There are no comparisons. We'll be somehwere near 2,000 screens this weekend and a few hundred more next weekend. It's possible, I suppose, that we could have a small drop here or hold steady. There's a reason nobody else did this. There are so many unknowns. 

mark gill

Clark: I'd be remiss if I did not ask about the public health concerns of releasing a movie right now.

Gill: There's a lot of be said. My first call about this was to John Fithian [president of the National Association of Theatre Owners] and to epidemiologists that have been advising them. That made us feel more comfortable, along with the strictness of the protocols being applied nationwide — masks, social distancing, online ticketing, and so on. There were a couple things that the epidemiologists said that I thought were quite interesting. You've got filtration systems that are much better than most offices and if you didn't, the theaters would stink. And there's nobody talking, or singing, or whatever you would do in other venues, from churches to gyms to bars. Everybody is looking in the same direction, not facing each other. 

All of those things combined for these people to say that it's not no risk, but it's moderate risk. If you think about it, every time that you get in your car, that's the riskiest thing we do. It's much more risky than getting on a plane. But we've accustomed ourselves to take a bit of risk because we want to get out of the house. It's less risky than a bar or restaurant. But if you want no risk, you should stay at home. 

Clark: Obviously there's plenty of criticism against studios trying to release movies to theaters now. Some experts say going to a movie theater is the last thing you should do right now.

Gill: Well, I just don't think that's true. Going to a sporting event or a bar is the last thing you should do right now. There's no social distancing and in many cases no masks. I just don't agree with that. 

Clark: People will be eating and drinking in a theater without masks.

Gill: What's supposed to happen is that people can take them off while eating and then put them back on when they're not, but you're correct to say that it would be a concern. Hopefully is that it would be well enforced. What I'm hearing from theater owners is that they'll have people to enforce the safety provisions. 

We did a survey in May, asking about July, to see whether people would go and in that case 80% [of 2,000 moviegoers] said yes. But National Research Group has done a weekly poll that looks at how comfortable people are going to the movies based on the public-health situation. The more clarity people had on the details of the safety protocols, the more comfortable they were. At a certain point, people are willing to take modest risks. 

Clark: I guess that depends on the research you're looking at. Throughout all of this, I've seen surveys that have varied in terms of how comfortable people are, depending on the month, the demographics, whatever. 

Gill: If you're asking moviegoers, it's very different than if you ask all Americans. If I ask my brother whether he wants to go to the movies, his answer is the same this summer as last summer, which is "no"[laughs]. So to me, the most interesting thing to look at is moviegoers, because there are people who go six times a year or more who aren't massive attendees, but they're comfortable to go. The most telling statistic is whether moviegoers would turn up. 

Clark: Morning Consult released a new survey of 2,200 US adults this week, and only 17% said they would be comfortable going to a theater right now. 

Gill: That's the problem with Morning Consult. I have to call them out on this, but their surveys are sh--. What are they doing? They're asking all Americans? You've got to be fu--ing kidding me. It's just not applicable. We have a former professor of statistics who is our head of marketing, and he looked at that data and said it was a poorly designed study.

[In response to Gill's comments, a Morning Consult spokesperson told Business Insider: "Our data intelligence regularly identifies trends around the world and has proven its accuracy time and time again, including correctly calling the 2016 presidential election within one percent of the final popular vote margin. In a world of misinformation, it's critical that industry leaders learn to read and understand data, even if it tells a story they may not want to hear."]

Clark: Of course avid moviegoers are going to say they're ready to go to a theater. But in a real-life situation, are they really going to becomfortable?

Gill: We're about to find out. When polling is done, and it's all Americans versus regular voters, the differences are significant. And it's regular voters that predict who wins. It's the same for the movie business. Every poll I've ever seen that's done of "all Americans" is not predictive at all of what will happen. It may be the broad sentiment across the country but it's not relevant. 

Clark: One more question on this topic then we can move on: broadly, what do you say to those who are critiquing studios for releasing movies right now and potentially putting people at risk? 

Gill: There's a little risk every morning when you wake up. There's a lot of risk when you get in your car every day. I view movie theaters as a relatively moderate risk with tremendous ability to mitigate that risk.

unhinged movie

Clark: Well, I appreciate the candor [laughs]. Moving on, how did you approach the marketing for this movie?

Gill: There were certain things not available, like in-theater advertising. Up until recently, sports on television were not available. Outdoor advertising isn't what it's like in normal times. But because not all of the country is open, we've doubled down on local markets. People might be confused about whether theaters are opening their town, so we've done a lot with local media in each market. Candidly, the rest of it is the bread and butter of what you normally do: showing people enough of the movie through publicity clips or what have you so they can decide whether it's something they want to see. Seeing is believing. 

Going first was not for the faint of heart but it had one big advantage. Normally on a movie this size you'd have 50 million impressions (non-paid advertising) in the media, whether it be through people like yourself or social media. We're up to 500 million on this movie. Obviously that's a function of the story being not just about this movie but also movie theaters opening. 

Clark: Did you learn anything that may be applicable to future releases?

Gill: I'm not sure yet. We'll have to see what the results are. It's too early to tell. 

Clark: Bouncing off of that, regarding the future, you said that Solstice is committed to theaters. But post-COVID, it seems like there will be a balance of theatrical and PVOD [premium video-on-demand] releases. AMC Theatres and Universal struck that deal [to shorten the theatrical window]. Disney is releasing "Mulan" straight to Disney Plus. Do you see that as the future and where does Solstice fit into that?

Gill: That's definitely where the trend is heading for the major studios, which is to have a mix of in-theater and video-on-demand. That's undoubted and I think COVID just accelerated it. You could see it coming. 

Therein lies the opportunity. About 10 years ago, people said the mid-budget movie is dead. The theory was that everyone was moving toward either super tanker [big-budget blockbuster] movies or arthouse films. The middle got hollowed out. I thought that's where the opportunity was as long as you didn't spend $80 million to make them. And I've had a good run at it. That was evident this last fall when you had mid-budget hits like "Knives Out,""Hustlers," and "Downton Abbey." It doesn't look like those are dead.

I think you're right. There will be fewer wide-release movies in theaters and I think that means there is more opportunity for our movies to find an audience.

People say it's an "either/or." But it's an "and." Just because people like watching movies at home doesn't mean they don't want to leave their house. 

Clark: Do you foresee Solstice ever making a pivot to streaming?

Gill: I don't. I guess you could say that anything is possible but at this point, for the next five years or so, I think the theatrical business looks like the place to be.

Clark: On that note, I know you're really focused on "Unhinged" right now, but do you have anything you want to tease? 

Gill: We had a film on preproduction that got shut down, a Ben Affleck movie called "Hypnotic." It's a sci-fi thriller that we were going to film in Los Angeles in April. We're looking to try to get back to it this fall. We're looking to do three to five movies a year, but it takes a while to get going. If I had certainty on the others I would feel better, but they're still coming together. But the premise [for Solstice] is basically all wide-release movies with somebody starring that you'd heard of before, and generally speaking, in the $30 million to $60 million budget range. That's the game. It's what I've been doing for the last 10 years with a variety of movies and it's worked fine, so I might as well keep doing it.

SEE ALSO: Major movie-theater chains like AMC and Regal are reopening this week, but a new survey suggests only a small fraction of US consumers are ready to return

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Russell Crowe's 'Unhinged' had a promising opening weekend at the US box office, but its biggest venues were drive-in theaters


unhinged movie

  • Russell Crowe's new movie "Unhinged" opened in the US over the weekend with $4 million, as major chains like AMC and Regal opened their doors for the first time in five months amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Despite the encouraging box office, the movie's five biggest venues — all drive-ins — suggest that audiences may not be comfortable returning to traditional theaters just yet.
  • A Morning Consult survey of 2,200 US adults released last week found that just 17% would go to a theater right now.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Russell Crowe's new road-rage thriller, "Unhinged," hit theaters in the US over the weekend as the first major theatrical wide release since theaters shut down more than five months ago because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The movie earned an encouraging $4 million from just over 1,800 screens, but its biggest venues suggest that audiences are largely still uncomfortable with going to a theater amid the pandemic.

According to the Exhibitor Relations senior media analyst Jeff Bock, the top five venues for "Unhinged" were all drive-ins and four of them were in California, where traditional theaters remain closed due to rising coronavirus cases this summer.

"Paramount DI in Los Angeles was the #1 venue in the US, and has just 2 screens--beating out other traditional Top 10 venues that have anywhere between 15-24 screens," Bock tweeted

Ahead of major theaters chains like AMC Theatres and Regal reopening their doors last week, Morning Consult released a survey of 2,200 US adults that found that just 17% would go to a theater right now. 51% of those surveyed said they would feel comfortable going to a movie theater only within the next six months or longer.

In an interview with Business Insider last week, Mark Gill — the CEO of Solstice Studios, the new studio behind "Unhinged — said that if the movie makes its production budget of $30 million in its full North American run, that will be a success.

"This is just the most baffling thing ever," he said. "There's a reason nobody else did this. There are so many unknowns."

"Unhinged" was originally slated for release in September. Solstice moved it to July when "A Quiet Place Part II" initially took that date (it's since been pushed to next year) and the rest of the theatrical calendar looked crowded. It was delayed several times amid the pandemic.

With a modest budget, why didn't Solstice do what some major studios have done and release it to digital platforms?

"We set the company up to be a theatrical company," Gill said. "And we had sold this and other movies internationally to other distributors and one of the requirements of those contracts was to release the movie wide in the US in theaters."

The movie has received mostly negative reviews from critics and has a 48% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes. Vulture said it "isn't worth getting COVID-19 for." 

"Despite its bullet-point nods to toxic masculinity and some glib armchair sociology about the rage-fueled society we have become, 'Unhinged' doesn't have much on its mind," Justin Chang wrote for The Los Angeles Times

Read Business Insider's full interview with Solstice Studios CEO Mark Gill about "Unhinged"

Russell Crowe's 'Unhinged' is the first major movie to open in US theaters during the pandemic. The studio head behind it explains his strategy.

Join the conversation about this story »

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Every confirmed DC Comics movie coming to theaters, including 'The Batman' and 'The Suicide Squad'


the batman robert pattinson

  • Warner Bros. and DC showed off upcoming DC Comics movies over the weekend during the virtual DC FanDome event. 
  • It gave fans a peek at the future of DC movies over the next few years, with new details and footage for anticipated releases like "The Batman,""Wonder Woman 1984," and "Black Adam."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Warner Bros. and DC pulled the curtain back on some anticipated theatrical releases over the weekend during the virtual DC FanDome event, revealing new details and footage for "The Batman,""Wonder Woman 1984," and more.

DC movies have been trending upward since the DC Extended Universe experiment backfired with 2017's superhero team-up movie, "Justice League," which disappointed at the box office after extensive reshoots and was blasted by critics. Between then and now, "Aquaman" and "Joker" both grossed more than $1 billion worldwide and "Shazam!" debuted to favorable reviews.

While the coronavirus pandemic has upended some of DC and Warner Bros.' plans — notably by pushing release dates or stalling productions — the FanDome event highlighted the scope of future movies. 

We rounded up every DC movie with a confirmed release date, with new details from FanDome (of course, the dates could change as the pandemic continues to shuffle the theatrical release calendar). An "Aquaman" spinoff, called "The Trench," is also in the works, but hasn't been dated yet.

Fans can expect plenty of DC content outside of theatrically released movies, too. The long-awaited "Snyder Cut" of "Justice League" hits HBO Max next year. After "Justice League" flopped, fans clamored for Snyder's director's cut and now they're getting it.

Max is also developing original DC shows like a prequel to "The Batman" focused on the Gotham City police and a Green Lantern series.

This story was originally published in December 2019 and has been updated with info from DC FanDome.

Below are seven DC movies with confirmed release dates hitting theaters:

SEE ALSO: The 8 most significant superhero movies of the decade that changed Hollywood

"Wonder Woman 1984"— October 2, 2020

The "Wonder Woman" sequel reunites director Patty Jenkins and stars Gal Gadot and Chris Pine, but shifts the story forward from World War I to the 1980s. The first movie was a critical and box-office hit, raking in $821 million worldwide. 

It was originally slated for release in November, 2019, but then pushed back to June. Amid the pandemic, Warner Bros. delayed it again to October. 

Watch the new trailer. 

"The Suicide Squad"— August 6, 2021

Margot Robbie will again play Harley Quinn for this "Suicide Squad" sequel from director James Gunn, who was hired by Warner Bros. after Disney fired him from the third "Guardians of the Galaxy" movie (he was then re-hired, but is finishing "The Suicide Squad" first).

Gunn has assembled a team of new and old faces and the full cast was showcased during FanDome. Returning are Robbie's Quinn, Jai Courtney's Captain Boomerang, and Viola Davis' Amanda Waller. Out is Will Smith, who played Deadshot. Newcomers include Idris Elba as Bloodsport and John Cena as Peacemaker.

Gunn called it "by far the biggest movie" he's ever made during a behind-the-scenes look at the movie. Watch it here.

"The Batman"— October 1, 2021

Robert Pattinson will play Batman in a new film from "War for the Planet of the Apes" director Matt Reeves. Pattinson takes over from Ben Affleck, who played the Dark Knight in "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" and "Justice League." Reeves has assembled an all-star cast that also includes Zoe Kravitz as Catwoman, Colin Farrell as the Penguin, Paul Dano as the Riddler, and Jeffrey Wright as James Gordon.

During FanDome, Reeves said that "The Batman" is a "year two" story for a young Batman and acts as an origin story for many of his villains.

He also teased the HBO Max spinoff series, calling it a "Year One" story focused on the corruption within the Gotham Police Department amid the emergence of Batman.

"Year One is the beginning of the emergence, it's the first appearance of this mass vigilante that starts to unsettle the city," he said. "And you start to see the story through the point of view of these corrupt cops and one in particular. And the story is actually a battle for his soul."

Watch the first trailer for "The Batman."

"Black Adam"— December 22, 2021

After years of teasing his attachment to the movie, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is opening up about "Black Adam," a frequent foe of Shazam in the comics but also an anti-hero of sorts.

It was revealed during FanDome that the movie would introduce the Justice Society of America, which preceded the Justice League in the comics. 

"Black Adam has been with me for a very long time," Johnson said during FanDome. "One of the main things I always loved about Black Adam is that he was an anti-hero. I love that he has his own sense of Black Adam justice. I also love the fact that his origins are that of a slave ... he felt the burdens and the pressures of a larger entity holding him down until you can't take it anymore."

"The Flash"—June 2, 2022

The "Flash" movie, from "It" director Andy Muschietti, has gone through several different directors and release dates. But it finally came into focus during FanDome.

Muschietti called it a "time-travel story" and writer Christina Hodson said that the "cinematic multiverse will be born out of this movie."

The event debuted concept art that teased Michael Keaton's return as Batman (he originally played the character in Tim Burton's "Batman" and "Batman Returns").


"Shazam! Fury of the Gods"— November 4, 2022

With $364.5 million worldwide, "Shazam!" wasn't a box-office smash like "Wonder Woman" or "Aquaman." But it was successful enough for Warner Bros. to greenlight a sequel for 2022. "Shazam!" was a hit with critics and has a 90% on Rotten Tomatoes.

The full title, "Shazam! Fury of the Gods," was revealed at FanDome.


"Aquaman" sequel — December 16, 2022

2018's "Aquaman" grossed over $1 billion globally, so a sequel was inevitable. It will hit theaters in 2022, topping off what will be a busy year for DC movies. Director James Wan is returning. 

Wan said during FanDome that the sequel will be "a little bit more serious, a little bit more relevant to the world we're living in today."

The X-Men spin-off 'New Mutants' hits theaters this weekend after years of delays, but its box-office prospects are grim


the new mutants

  • The X-Men spin-off movie "New Mutants" hit theaters on Friday after several release changes before and during the pandemic.
  • Originally scheduled for release in 2018, the movie was delayed multiple times "ostensibly" due to the Disney-Fox merger, Vulture reported.
  • Vulture's Chris Lee reported this week that the movie went through various script rewrites, with pushback from director Josh Boone.
  • Box Office Pro's chief analyst, Shawn Robbins, projected the movie would make $7.5 million this weekend, writing that it "lacks a unified marketing identity."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

"The New Mutants," Fox's long-delayed X-Men spin-off movie, finally hit theaters on Friday during a tumultuous time for Hollywood and the theatrical industry. 

Major theater chains like AMC Theatres and Regal Cinemas opened their doors in select US markets last weekend for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic shut theaters down five months ago.

Originally scheduled for release in April 2018, the troubled movie kept getting pushed back on the release calendar, first from 2018 to February 2019, just ahead of when Disney would finalize its acquisition of Fox's movie studio in March. Then it was pushed to last August, then to April 2020.

Of course, the coronavirus upended that April release, and now the movie is seeing the light of day as the US still grapples with the pandemic.

Vulture's Chris Lee reported on Wednesday that "The New Mutants"— about a group of teenage mutants discovering their powers while trapped at a secret facility — went through several script rewrites ahead of production, struggling to balance the right tone between horror movie and teen movie, with regular pushback from director Josh Boone. Eventually, Fox decided the movie needed to be straight horror, according to Vulture, and the script was further reworked.

Vulture's report noted that the prolonged Disney-Fox merger was "ostensibly responsible for several of the film's release delays." Reports swirled last year that the movie had undergone extensive reshoots, which Boone has denied. He told Entertainment Weekly in March that if there were no Disney-Fox merger, reshoots probably would have taken place "the same way every movie does pickups." But by the time the merger was finalized, "everybody's older," he said.

Now that "The New Mutants" is out in the world, it faces an uphill battle at the box office, even moreso than it would have under normal circumstances. Last year's "X-Men" movie, "Dark Phoenix," was a failure, grossing just $252 million worldwide off of a hefty $200 million production budget and was largely responsible for a $170 million third-quarter operating loss for Disney last year.

Box Office Pro's chief analyst Shawn Robbins projected that "The New Mutants" would earn $7.5 million this weekend, down from its pre-pandemic estimate of $17 million in February. However, "New Mutants" had the lowest production budget of any "X-Men" movie.

"Compounding the unique situation of the current time, this is a film that was already facing the challenge of releasing soon after 'Dark Phoenix' — a film that underwhelmed at the box office in a notable way for such a big franchise," Robbins wrote on Thursday. "'Mutants' also lacks a unified marketing identity for casual moviegoers given the widespread fan knowledge that it has nothing to do with the Marvel Cinematic Universe curated by Disney, who are now distributing this film after inheriting it in the Fox deal."

Russell Crowe's road-rage thriller "Unhinged" opened last weekend as the first wide release in five months. It earned $4 million in the US, but its top five venues were all drive-in theaters, suggesting that audiences may not be completely comfortable returning to traditional theaters yet. 

"The New Mutants" has received few reviews so far and doesn't yet have a Rotten Tomatoes score. Disney didn't offer advance press screenings and declined to offer screening links for the movie amid the pandemic, according to several outlets, including AV Club and Indiewire, who have refused to review it for these reasons.

The Hollywood Reporter called it "generic and, at its best, straining to be heartfelt" in its review.

SEE ALSO: Russell Crowe's 'Unhinged' is the first major movie to open in US theaters during the pandemic. The studio head behind it explains his strategy.

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The top 9 movies on Netflix this week, from 'The Sleepover' to 'Drunk Parents'


Project Power Netflix

  • "Project Power" and "The Sleepover" are some of Netflix's most popular movies this week. 
  • Netflix introduced daily top lists of the most popular titles on the streaming service in February.
  • Streaming search engine Reelgood keeps track of the lists and provides Business Insider with a rundown of the week's most popular movies on Netflix every Friday.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The Netflix original superhero movie "Project Power" continues to be a hit with audiences. 

But a new Netflix original, "The Sleepover," and the 2019 comedy "Drunk Parents," starring Alec Baldwin and Salma Hayek, have also gained popularity this week. 

Netflix introduced daily top 10 lists of its most viewed movies and TV shows in February (it counts a view if an account watches at least two minutes of a title).

Every week, the streaming search engine Reelgood compiles for Business Insider a list of which movies have been most prominent on Netflix's daily lists that week. On Reelgood, users can browse Netflix's entire movie library and sort by IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes ratings.

Below are Netflix's 9 most popular movies of the week in the US:

SEE ALSO: The X-Men spin-off 'New Mutants' hits theaters this weekend after years of delays, but its box-office prospects are grim

9. "Kill the Irishman" (2011)

Description: "This true crime tale charts the rise and fall of mobster Danny Greene, who faced down the Mafia to gain control of organized crime in 1970s Cleveland."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 61%

What critics said: "The problem is that writer-director Jonathan Hensleigh doesn't do much beyond filling in the template; he's telling the specific, true-life tale of mob decline in 1970s Cleveland, but every character and setpiece feels like it fell off a truck."— AV Club

8. "Seventh Son" (2015)

Description: "In the 18th century, apprentice exorcist Tom Ward is the lynchpin in a battle between good and evil when imprisoned witch Mother Malkin escapes."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 12%

What critics said: "It's lively and daft, and you find yourself wondering: all this expertise, and the best anybody could think to do with it was this?"— Guardian


7. "Despicable Me" (2010)

Description: "Villainous Gru hatches a plan to steal the moon from the sky. But he has a tough time staying on task after three orphans land in his care."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 81%

What critics said: "It is a good sturdy family film, and Steve Carrell gives an engaging performance as a supervillain."— io9

6. "The Lost Husband" (2020)

Description: "Looking to start anew, a widow retreats with her children to her aunt's goat farm, where the ranch's manager helps her navigate country life and loss."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 60%

What critics said: "Wight delivers a sedated Hallmark-y effort that just hints at heightened emotions - the very kind of rush underserved romance viewers come to this fare seeking - only to repeatedly interrupt and abandon them in puzzling ways."— Variety

5. "1BR" (2019)

Description:"Seeking her independence, a young woman moves to Los Angeles and settles into a cozy apartment complex with a disturbing sense of community."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 87%

What critics said: "Drawing on a fascination with cults and utopian communities, the director and co-writer, David Marmor, has created a mildly entertaining survival story whose depiction of psychological indoctrination far outstrips its generic dips into torture."— New York Times

4. "Mr. Peabody and Sherman" (2014)

Description: "Resurrected from the 1960s animated series 'Rocky and Bullwinkle,' canine genius Mr. Peabody and young Sherman take a dizzying ride through time."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 81%

What critics said: "Back in his day, Mr. Peabody was a dog whose over-civility had bite. Now he's a genius you want to cuddle with."— Entertainment Weekly

3. "The Sleepover" (2020, Netflix original)

Description: "What do you do if your parents are kidnapped by a crew of international thieves? You begin a wild overnight adventure — complete with spy gear."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 70%

What critics said: "[Ken] Marino steps up to turn a largely thankless role into the movie's most interesting subject."— Polygon

2. "Drunk Parents" (2019)

Description:"Two desperate parents go to extreme lengths to hide their dire financial straits from their daughter and friends."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 0%

What critics said: "Even with a cast this stacked, nothing about Drunk Parents works."— Decider

1. "Project Power" (2020, Netflix original)

Description: "An ex-soldier, a teen and a cop collide in New Orleans as they hunt for the source behind a dangerous new pill that grants users temporary superpowers."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 60%

What critics said: "'Project Power' is the kind of action/sci-fi bone-cruncher where the cast is better than the material, the characters are more interesting than the premise, and the dialogue chugs along in the middle."— Boston Globe

How to watch 'Bill & Ted Face the Music' — Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter return as the iconic duo in the new sequel streaming now on VOD services


Bill and Ted Face the Music Orion

If you're searching for a most excellent new movie to stream from the comfort of your home, "Bill & Ted Face the Music" could be just the rental for you. The film, which stars Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter as the iconic title duo, arrives on VOD at the same time it's premiering in select theaters. 

"Bill & Ted Face the Music" is the third entry in the "Bill & Ted" franchise, following 1989's "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" and 1991's "Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey."

Though once heralded as the musical saviors of the future, William "Bill" S. Preston Esq. (Alex Winter) and Theodore "Ted" Logan (Keanu Reeves) are now middle-aged musicians struggling to fulfill their destiny. With the help of their daughters, the pair embark on a time-traveling and dimension-hopping adventure to save the universe. 

Kristen Schaal, Samara Weaving, Brigette Lundy-Paine, and William Sadler also star. The movie is directed by Dean Parisot, and is written by Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon. Matheson and Solomon previously wrote the first two entries in the series. 

"Bill & Ted Face the Music" has received positive reviews from critics. The movie currently holds an "82% Fresh" rating on review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, as well as a score of 66/100 on Metacritic

How to watch "Bill & Ted Face the Music"

"Bill & Ted Face the Music" is now available to buy or rent through a variety of VOD digital retailers, including Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, FandangoNow, Apple TV, and Google Play. The movie currently costs $19.99 to rent or $24.99 to own.

If you rent "Bill & Ted Face the Music," you have 30 days to start streaming the film. After you start watching, the rental will last for 48 hours. Digital purchases of "Bill & Ted Face the Music" will remain in your library for as long as your chosen retailer continues to offer the movie. 

To watch "Bill & Ted Face the Music" through any of the aforementioned services, you'll need to sign up for an account to the retailer of your choice, enter valid payment information, and have access to that retailer's streaming app. Apps for Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, FandangoNow, Apple TV, and Google Play are available on many mobile devices, smart TVs, and streaming players. Click on the link for each service to see a full list of supported devices. 

The movie is available in standard definition (SD), high definition (HD), and 4K Ultra HD resolution through all of the listed services. Pricing is currently the same no matter which version you rent or buy. 

In addition to VOD services, "Bill & Ted Face the Music" is also currently playing in select theaters nationwide. You can check theater listings and purchase tickets here.  

How to watch "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" and "Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey"

If you'd like to catch up on the exploits of Bill and Ted before streaming the new movie, you can currently watch 1989's "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" through the Starz streaming service or pay-TV network. A Starz streaming subscription costs $8.99 a month, and new members can receive a free seven-day trial. 

Unfortunately, the 1991 sequel "Bill & Ted's bogus Journey" is not currently available on any subscription streaming service. You can, however, rent or buy the movie to stream through Amazon, Vudu, FandangoNow, Google Play, or Apple TV. If you don't have a Starz subscription, you can rent or buy the first movie through these retailers as well.

What other in-theater movies can I watch at home?

In addition to "Bill & Ted Face the Music," there are several other brand-new movies you can buy or rent at home. As many theaters remain closed across the US due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, studios continue to release new titles via VOD platforms. 

Disney, Universal, Sony, Lionsgate, Paramount, and Warner Brothers have been offering streaming rental or purchase options for select titles that were originally planned for theaters. "In-theater" digital rentals or purchases can be made through a variety of services, including Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Vudu, FandangoNow, and Google Play.

For more information about digital rentals, check out our guide to streaming rental services.

Join the conversation about this story »

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Renting a movie online is as simple as a few clicks — here's a full breakdown of all the major streaming rental services


Movie rental services 4x3

  • If you're looking for a great movie to watch at home, there are a number of online services you can rent streaming films from.
  • Popular digital movie retailers include Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Google Play, Vudu, and FandangoNow.
  • These platforms offer a mix of recent releases and classic films to choose from.
  • Some studios are even releasing brand-new movies for early streaming in the comfort of your home. 
  • You can download many of these apps right now on a variety of devices, and completing a rental is as simple as a few clicks.

Remember when renting a movie meant going to a store? Times have changed awfully quick for the movie industry. With video rental chains a relic of the past, online streaming has become the new standard for renting movies to watch at home. 

With multiple services to choose from — including Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Vudu, Google Play, and FandangoNow— it's never been easier to find a film worth renting on a smart TV, media player, or mobile device. These platforms all allow you to browse through a large catalog of digital films, enabling you to pay for rentals individually rather than as part of a subscription.

And, since most theaters are now closed as a result of preventive measures being taken to help stop the spread of coronavirus, several studios are even renting brand-new movies to stream from the comfort of your living room. 

Sitting on the couch and picking up your remote control is your trip to the video store today. While I will always hold onto my ever-growing collection of Blu-rays, I have to admit that the convenience of digitally renting a movie for a few bucks instead of blind buying one at full price is handy. I've saved a small fortune through $5.99 rentals with a simple click of my thumb. 

To help make your next movie night at home more enjoyable, we've broken down some of the basics of renting streaming films from a variety of services. So, put a bag of popcorn in your microwave and pick up your controller or tablet — there are a lot of great movies out there waiting to be discovered. 

Updated on 8/28/20 by Steven Cohen: Added new in-theater movie titles that are now available to rent or buy.

What services can I rent streaming movies from?

While popular subscription streaming services, like Netflix, Disney Plus, and Hulu, offer film fans a nice catalog of movies to choose from, not everything is available necessarily when you want to watch it. The titles available on subscription platforms are typically limited to certain studios, and newer movies usually take several months to be added.

This is where a digital movie retailer comes in. Instead of offering a select library of films as part of a subscription, platforms like Vudu, Google Play Movies, Apple TV, and FandangoNow all offer a comprehensive assortment of movies that you can rent individually. Amazon Prime Video, meanwhile, actually offers individual rentals in addition to its subscription library for Prime members. 

Once you've created an account with any of the above services and added your payment details, renting a title is as simple as a few clicks. In most cases you can simply browse through the platform's website or download the service's app on a variety of smart TVs, mobile devices, and streaming players. After finding the title you want, you simply click on the movie and complete the instructions to confirm the rental. 

How much do streaming movies cost to rent?

Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, Apple TV, FandangoNow, and Google Play all let you rent movies for as little as $2.99, though most newer releases top out at $7.99 depending on the resolution you choose. You get 30 days to start watching a title once you rent it, and after you press play you have 48 hours before your rental expires.

If you want to keep a digital movie, you usually also have an option to buy a title so you can stream it whenever you want. Digital movie purchases typically range in price from $4.99 to $24.99 depending on how new a film is. 4K Ultra HD versions of movies are also usually more expensive than HD or SD versions. 

It should be noted, however, that digital purchases aren't quite as permanent as buying a disc copy of a movie. When you make a digital movie purchase, you're essentially buying the license to keep streaming that title from the service you've selected. But, if that service somehow goes out of business or it loses the rights to the title you bought, it's possible that you'll lose access to your digital copy. 

Can I rent brand-new movies still playing in theaters?

When states began issuing stay-at-home orders as a result of the current health crisis, movie theater chains across the country began closing their doors in the interest of public safety. Several studios have now adjusted to the current situation and are allowing people to rent or buy brand-new streaming movies that would otherwise still be playing in theaters.

Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Vudu, FandangoNow, and Google Play all offer these "in-theater" titles. Disney Plus is also experimenting with "Premier Access" titles, like "Mulan," that can be added to a subscription for an additional fee. Depending on the studio, however, some titles might only be available to rent, while others are only currently available to buy.

Universal and Lionsgate, for instance, initially only allowed viewers to rent their new movies, with prices as high as $19.99 per title. This may seem pricey if you're planning to watch Universal's "The Invisible Man" on your own, but if you're a parent with a passel of kids who would have otherwise spent a small fortune to see "Trolls: World Tour" in a theater — this is a steal. Rental prices are also reduced over time — "Trolls: World Tour," for instance, is now just $5.99 to rent.

On the other hand, studios like Paramount, Sony, and Warner Brothers, are only allowing people to buy their newest streaming movies, with prices as high as $24.99. In many cases, however, rental options are also being rolled out a few weeks after movies are initially offered for purchase. 

invisible man

Some notable early-release and "in-theater movies" currently available to rent or own through Vudu include:

With so many brand-new movies and classic titles available to rent, picking a platform to use really comes down to choosing the service that works best on the devices you own. Below, we've broken down some key details for all of the major digital movie retailers to help you choose which one is right for you.

Apple TV

Apple currently offers a large selection of movies to rent through its Apple TV app on a variety of connected devices. With that said, the Apple TV app lacks the ability to actually complete transactions on many smart TVs. This means that you'll have to complete your rental on an iPhone or web browser before you can watch it through most smart TV apps. The Apple TV app is also not currently supported by Android TV or Chromecast devices. 

On the plus side, the Apple TV app is a strong performer when it comes to general video and audio quality. When Apple upgraded its streaming devices to 4K, it made a big splash by upgrading streaming movie libraries to 4K automatically. This means that any SD or HD digital films you purchase via iTunes get upgraded to 4K at no extra cost (if a 4K version is available). They also wrestled the price point down so competitors like Vudu and FandangoNow have had no choice but to lower their prices as well.

Even now, Apple offers one of the largest 4K rental selections, giving you the best overall AV experience for your dollar. As a bonus, the Apple TV app is also home to Apple's new Apple TV Plus streaming service. You have to pay a subscription fee of $4.99 per month to unlock the Apple TV Plus content, but it's a nice option to have in addition to the service's library of streaming rentals. 

  • Device support: Apple TV, iOS mobile devices, computers, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, as well as smart TVs from LG, Samsung, Vizio, and Sony
  • Video resolution: up to 4K
  • HDR support:HDR10, Dolby Vision
  • Audio format: Dolby Digital, Dolby Atmos


Vudu maintains a massive inventory of titles to rent at various price points. Unlike Apple, however, Vudu does occasionally charge more for 4K quality versions of its titles. It should also be noted that while Vudu is readily available on many platforms, it's one of the few notable apps missing from Amazon Fire TV devices. 

Where Vudu has a feather in its cap, however, is with its "Free With Ads" selection. This collection of titles rotates practically every week, and though there are ads, breaks are rarely lengthy or too intrusive. So, if you're trying to entertain on a budget and don't feel like paying for a rental — this is one of the best options available.

  • Device support: Chromecast, Apple TV, Android TV, Roku, PlayStation, Xbox, Tivo, iOS and Android mobile devices, as well as smart TVs from LG, Samsung, and Vizio
  • Video resolution: up to 4K
  • HDR support:HDR10, Dolby Vision
  • Audio format: Dolby Digital, Dolby Atmos

Browse the Vudu rental selection


Like all of the digital rental stores on our list, FandandgoNow offers a large selection of movies to choose from. The platform is also available on most connected devices, with the only major holdout currently being the Apple TV.

The service has been in the 4K streaming game a long time now and they do an impressive job bringing high quality picture and audio to homes. FandangoNow is also the only streaming service currently offering support for the IMAX Enhanced format. This tech offers specially optimized HDR picture and DTS sound on supported Sony TVs. If you have a Dolby Vision compatible TV or a Dolby Atmos audio setup, however, you'll likely want to opt for Vudu or Apple TV since FandangoNow does not currently support those formats. 

  • Device support: Chromecast, Android TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Xbox, Tivo, iOS and Android mobile devices, as well as smart TVs from LG, Samsung, Vizio, Sony, and Hisense
  • Video resolution: up to 4K
  • HDR support:HDR10 (IMAX Enhanced on Sony TVs)
  • Audio format: Dolby Digital, DTS (IMAX Enhanced on Sony TVs)

Browse the FandangoNow rental selection


Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime Video does a lot of things right, and it provides an impressive list of digital rentals. If you're a Prime member you also gain the added benefit of a massive number of movies and shows as part of your subscription. On top of that — similar to Vudu — Amazon Prime offers a small selection of "Free With Ads" titles sponsored by IMDB.

Prime Video is also one of the only digital retailers currently offering support for the HDR10+ format. Similar to Dolby Vision, HDR10+ offers enhanced colors and contrast on compatible TVs. With that said, the platform's Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos support is sorely lacking as there are very few titles that offer those features. 

On that note, my main problem with Prime Video is its inconsistent viewing experience. Even with a wired connection, 4K HDR10 or HDR10+ viewing options aren't always available and it's not even always clear whether a title is supposed to include those features or not. You often have to hunt specifically for the 4K UHD version of the movie or show.  

  • Device support: Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, Apple TV, Android TV, Roku, Tivo, PlayStation, Xbox, iOS and Android mobile devices, as well as smart TVs from LG, Samsung, Vizio, Sony, and Hisense
  • Video resolution: up to 4K
  • HDR support: HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision
  • Audio format: Dolby Digital, Dolby Atmos

Browse the Amazon Prime Video rental selection

Google Play Movies

When it comes to movie selection, Google is basically on par with the other services on our list. The Google Play Movies app is also available on a good number of connected devices, but official app support is missing from the Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV. You can, however, still watch movies purchased through Google Play via the YouTube app on Fire TV

While I like what Google is trying to do, the app for my Samsung and LG TV is clunky at best. It's not always clear which titles are in 4K and/or what if any HDR support is available. The interface for my phone is terrific, however, easily allowing me to find what titles I have in my digital library and what titles offer 4K, as well as navigate new rentals and purchase options, shop deals, and browse what new "in-theater" titles are available. 

In other words, I want that phone app interface on my big screen. For now, though, Google's smart TV app is a bit lacking compared to the competition. The service also lacks Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos support, which might be an issue for those who want the best video and audio performance. 

  • Device support: Chromecast, Android TV, Roku, iOS and Android mobile devices, as well as smart TVs from LG, Samsung, and Vizio
  • Video resolution: up to 4K
  • HDR support:HDR10, HDR10+
  • Audio format: Dolby Digital

Browse the Google Play rental selection

The yellow Rolls-Royce driven by Robert Redford in 'The Great Gatsby' could fetch $2 million at auction — take a closer look at the famed car


1928 Rolls Royce 40:50hp Phantom I Ascot Dual Cowl Sport Phaeton_15

  • The 1928 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Phantom I Ascot Dual Cowl Sport Phaeton used in the 1974 film "The Great Gatsby" is headed to auction via Classic Promenade Auctions.
  • From 2011 to 2019, it underwent a ground-up restoration that cost $1.2 million.
  • It is estimated to sell for between $1.5 million and $2 million.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Scott Fitzgerald fans rejoice: You'll soon have a shot at owning the iconic yellow Rolls-Royce famously featured in the 1974 film "The Great Gatsby," which starred Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. 

The 1928 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Phantom I Ascot Dual Cowl Sport Phaeton will be auctioned through Classic Promenade Auctions starting on Monday, October 12, Hagerty first reported. An emailed press release claims that this example is believed to be the only Ascot Sport Phaeton built with the dual cowl to match the description in The Great Gatsby: "…terraced with a labyrinth of windshields that mirrored a dozen suns."  

In the interest of accuracy, the car was repainted in this creamy yellow color and its interior dyed green in order for it to make its film debut. 

Classic Promenade is giving the car a pre-sale estimate of between $1.5 million and $2 million. Keep scrolling to see more.

SEE ALSO: This Is The Car That Should Have Been Used In 'The Great Gatsby'

This 1928 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Phantom I Ascot Dual Cowl Sport Phaeton is the one famously used in the 1974 film “The Great Gatsby.”

In the movie, the car is driven by Jay Gatsby, who was played by Robert Redford.

Author F. Scott Fitzgerald gave Gatsby a Rolls-Royce because it represented the utter opulence and extravagance that the character surrounded himself with.

In the book, it is described as having “a rich cream color, bright with nickel” and “a sort of green leather conservatory.”

For the movie, the car was repainted yellow and its interior dyed green to match the book’s description.

It will soon be up for online auction through Classic Promenade Auctions, which is based on Phoenix, Arizona.

You can view the listing here.

The car underwent a ground-up restoration between 2011 and 2019.

In total, the cost of the restoration was about $1.2 million.

It was even shown at the 2019 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.

The car has appeared with Redford on magazine covers, as well as in GQ and Vogue articles.

Because of its big-screen fame, literary association, and restoration, this is a Rolls-Royce unlike any other.

Classic Promenade gives the car a pre-sale estimate of between $1.5 million and $2 million.

It shows 73,848 miles on the clock.

And looks to be truly a massive car in person.

The car was originally delivered to and owned by Mildred Loring Logan of New York City.

Later on, it was owned by George Washington Hill, the president of American Tobacco Company.

The Gatsby Rolls will be available via online auction from Monday, October 12, through Sunday, October 25.

Bidding begins at 10 a.m. PST.

Experts say 'Tenet's' strong start at the box office should give Warner Bros. confidence to release 'Wonder Woman 1984' and 'Dune' to theaters this year


tenet john david washington robert pattinson

  • Christopher Nolan's "Tenet" grossed $53 million internationally over the weekend.
  • It hits theaters in the US this weekend. Analysts say that Nolan's name recognition and the promise of a big-screen blockbuster could lure audiences back to theaters this weekend, but the long-term box office is less clear.
  • Box Office Pro projected "Tenet" to earn between $15 million and $35 million in the US this weekend.
  • Experts told Business Insider that the movie's global success could give Warner Bros. the confidence to release "Wonder Woman 1984" and "Dune," which are still on the release calendar for this year.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

All eyes are on "Tenet."

Christopher Nolan's latest hits theaters in the US this weekend after several coronavirus-related delays and an international rollout last week that is giving experts hope for movie theaters.

The movie's $53 million haul at the international box office over the weekend is a "win for the theatrical experience and the drawing power of a high-profile, big ticket blockbuster," Paul Dergarabedian, the Comscore senior media analyst, told Business Insider. Shawn Robbins, the Box Office Pro chief analyst, said that the numbers "provide a major boost of optimism" for the theatrical industry.

But the major test will be in the US, where coronavirus cases continue to rise and major theatrical markets like New York and Los Angeles remain closed. 

Adding to the potential complications, audiences remain wary of returning to traditional theaters. A recent Morning Consult survey of 2,200 US adults found that just 17% would be comfortable returning to theaters right now. The top venues for recent releases like "Unhinged" and "The New Mutants,"have been drive-in theaters.

Warner Bros. is betting on Nolan's name recognition and the promise of a big-screen spectacle to lure audiences back to theaters for the $200 million blockbuster. Jeff Bock, the Exhibitor Relations senior media analyst, said that it could work, but the implications won't be immediately felt. 

"There may be a huge rush to theaters opening weekend and a bigger drop-off than normal over the next three to four weeks," Bock said. 

"Let's get through Labor Day first," he added, "and a couple weeks after to understand the scope of everything."

On Friday, Box Office Pro projected an opening weekend range in the US for "Tenet" of between $15 million and $35 million. 

Robbins noted that "Tenet" and other movies should be judged by their entire runs and not only their opening weekends, saying that they "will play in theaters longer than we're used to seeing."

"Tenet's" international success could be good news for Warner Bros.' theatrical calendar for the rest of the year, Robbins added. "Wonder Woman 1984" is slated for October after being pushed back from June and August. "Dune" is still set for a December release.

Warner Bros. did not return a request for comment to this story.

"We can never say never to more shifting release plans during the pandemic era, but the global performance of 'Tenet' so far should provide even more confidence for Warner Bros. to keep its remaining tentpole films on the slate for 2020," Robbins said.

Similarly, Dergarabedian said that the "positive momentum created by 'Tenet' should pave the way for the other films on Warner Bros.' slate to have their shot at worldwide big screen glory." 

SEE ALSO: Pirated versions of 'Tenet' have appeared online ahead of the movie's US debut

Join the conversation about this story »

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A new book showcases real-life places around the world that look straight out of a Wes Anderson film — here's an early look at the fantastical dupes


Accidentally West Anderson 4x3

  • The founder of the popular Instagram account Accidentally Wes Anderson is releasing his first-ever book highlighting 200 of the "most idiosyncratic and interesting locations on Earth."
  • Images in the book span every continent and echo filmmaker Wes Anderson's distinctive and whimsical visual style.
  • Titled "Accidentally Wes Anderson," the book is available now for preorder and will be released on October 20.
  • Founder Wally Koval and his wife, Amanda, also plan to launch a searchable database of Wes Anderson-inspired images close to the book's release date.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The places in Wes Anderson films are the stuff of travelers' dreams.

Take The Grand Budapest Hotel, a perfectly symmetrical, pastel pink structure perched on mountains in the Republic of Zubrowka that looks like its windows are frosted in icing. It has 370 reviews and a close-to-five-star rating on Tripadvisor.

The only problem? It doesn't actually exist. "This is a fictional place ... Please do not try to book a visit here," Tripadvisor writes at the top of The Grand Budapest Hotel's listing.

This hasn't deterred Brooklyn-based traveler Wally Koval from searching for Anderson-esque places anyway.

Since 2017, Koval and his wife, Amanda, have spent countless hours combing Instagram for images of real places around the world that emulate Anderson's distinct visual style and posting them to their Instagram account "Accidentally Wes Anderson." In each caption, they include a brief history of the place as well as details about its location.

What started out as an account with 15 followers has transformed into a community of 1.1 million followers. Now they're releasing their first book, "Accidentally Wes Anderson."

Currently available for preorder and releasing October 20, the book features 200 of the "most interesting and idiosyncratic places on Earth," whittled down from 15,000 submissions. The images, submitted by photographers hailing from over 50 countries, span every continent, Koval told Business Insider. They range from grand palaces to grandstands in the middle of nowhere and are accompanied by in-depth stories about how each place came to be.

More than half of the images in the book have never been featured on the Instagram feed before, and those that have date back to the account's early years, Koval said.

While the Accidentally Wes Anderson aesthetic has certain bread-and-butter qualities — symmetry, pastel colors, and a straight-on perspective — there is a certain je ne sais quois that Koval hasn't quite put his finger on

Whatever that je ne sais quois is, it has the real Wes Anderson's stamp of approval: "The photographs in this book were taken by people I have never met, of places and things I have, almost without exception, never seen — but I must say: I intend to," the filmmaker writes in the forward

As for the 14,000-plus images that didn't make it into the book, they won't go unseen. Around the book's release date, Wally and Amanda plan to launch an online database, where visitors can look up Accidentally Wes Anderson images by location, color, and photographer.

The website will cater to the evolving Accidentally Wes Anderson community. "People aren't just exchanging information about their travels," Koval said. "People are also utilizing what we've created for their design — interior design and mood boards and things — which I never expected."

Ahead of the book's release date and the database launch, Koval shared a selection of images and snippets of stories behind the images with Business Insider.

From a mustard yellow funicular railway car in Lisbon to bright pink cottages in California, here's an early look at some of the destinations featured in "Accidentally Wes Anderson":

SEE ALSO: Wes Anderson has written a foreword for a book of photography inspired by his trademark style

NOW READ: A woman spent years combing through Google Street View to find photos of the most remote destinations in the world. Here are 22 of the most striking scenes she's witnessed.

Roberts Cottages

Location: Oceanside, California


From the book:"Today, these rental bungalows still stand, representing an important moment in Oceanside's nascent days, a time when the town enticed visitors with the tremendous promise that 'If you long for a beautiful country, with a matchless climate, come to Oceanside, where life is worth living.'"

Source: Accidentally Wes Anderson

Hotel Opera

Location: Prague, Czech Republic


From the book: "A hot-pink confection of Bohemian Neo-Renaissance style, the Hotel Opera stands in the less touristy Nové Město, or 'New Town,' quarter of storied Prague. It is a five-minute walk from historic Old Town — an apt reflection of Prague's nonlinear relationship to time. This romantic city is a unique meeting ground for old and new, historic and modern. Miraculously preserved buildings established in the fourteenth century are squeezed beside ultramodern constructions, like a Frank Gehry–designed glass building that resembles a dancing couple. And yet nothing feels out of place in this enchanted, haunted city — including the bright pink Hotel Opera ... which is not particularly near the Opera."

Source: Accidentally Wes Anderson

Ascensor da Bica

Location: Lisbon, Portugal


From the book:"One of three funicular railway cars in Lisbon, Ascensor (or Elevador) da Bica climbs 800 feet up one of the city's steepest hills."

Source: Accidentally Wes Anderson

Post Office

Location: Alaska


From the book:"In this community of 3,000, there is a Post office, and a Postmaster (per the sign on the door), but no one delivers the mail."

Source: Accidentally Wes Anderson

Crawley Edge Boat Shed

Location: Perth, Australia


From the book:"The numbers of tourists have grown so overwhelming that in 2019 the city of Perth decided to spend $400,000 on a solar-powered toilet facility to serve them."

Source: Accidentally Wes Anderson

Amer Fort

Location: Amer, Rajasthan, India


From the book:"Built in 1592, the massive royal palace & military stronghold, features incredibly absurd attention to clever details you would never know about from looking at the exterior architecture."

Source: Accidentally Wes Anderson

White Cyclone Rollercoaster

Location: Nagashima Spa Land, Kuwana, Mie, Japan


From the book: "Wooden coasters are extremely rare in Japan, a country with strong regulations on tree felling; the Cyclone was constructed with enough timber to build nearly a thousand homes."

Source: Accidentally Wes Anderson

Central Fire Station

Location: Marfa, Texas


From the book: "Marfa, Texas was founded in 1883 as a water stop to replenish the steam engines running trains between San Antonio and El Paso. Its name actually means 'Martha' in Russian and was named for an unlikely character."

Source: Accidentally Wes Anderson

Cologne Cable Car

Location: Colgone, Germany


From the book:"The Cologne Cable Car company (Kölner Seilbahn or Rheinseilbahn) carries bright-red four-seat gondolas on a fifteen-minute, half-mile journey above the Rhine River."

Source: Accidentally Wes Anderson

Glenorchy Wharf Shed

Location: Glenorchy, New Zealand


From the book:"By the mid-1950s, the 250 full-time citizens of the town came together and initiated a push for a road to connect Glenorchy to Queenstown. Though supported by many, the execution of the project was engineered by two remarkable individuals, each fueled by willpower and love ... with extra assistance from a nudge of fate."

Source: Accidentally Wes Anderson

Koval takes pride in offering moments of escapism to followers of Accidentally Wes Anderson, he told Business Insider.

"What we try to put out there is this moment of delight," he said of the images he and Amanda post. "It doesn't have to put a giant smile on your face. It doesn't have to make you jump up and down for joy. It's not this, you know, big experience. It's just [exhales sigh of relief] 'Oh, that's nice.' That's not something that we get anymore. Nobody has that. In the world, it's not a normal feeling anymore."

Calls to boycott 'Mulan' are gaining steam as the new movie lands on Disney Plus


mulan liu yifei

Summary List Placement

Pro-democracy activists across Hong Kong, Korea, and Thailand have renewed their calls for a boycott of Disney's live-action "Mulan" movie. The film was released for $30 on Disney Plus on Friday, reviving outrage over a social-media post shared by the film's star, Liu Yifei, voicing support for Hong Kong's police.

The prominent Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong on Friday tweeted, "Disney kowtows to Beijing, and because Liu Yifei openly and proudly endorses police brutality in Hong Kong, I urge everyone who believes in human rights to #BoycottMulan."

At the time of writing, Wong's post had 11,000 retweets and 16,000 likes. Since the start of the controversy in August last year, the #BoycottMulan movement has expanded to Korea and Thailand, where activists have staged protests and held signs reading #BanMulan, according to Fortune.

On Friday, the hashtag #BoycottMulan was trending in the US. 

In August 2019, amid pro-democracy protests across Hong Kong, Yifei shared an image on the popular social-media platform Weibo that said, "I support the Hong Kong police. You can all attack me now. What a shame for Hong Kong."

The post angered many pro-democracy protesters, who said the Hong Kong police's crackdown on those demonstrating against a new extradition law was draconian. Hong Kong's police responded to protesters with "arbitrary arrests, brutal beatings, and torture," according to a report from Amnesty International.

In July, Yifei addressed the controversy in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, saying, "I think it's obviously a very complicated situation, and I'm not an expert. I just really hope this gets resolved soon ... I think it's just a very sensitive situation."

But while the protests might affect viewership in Hong Kong, Thailand, and Korea, Disney is courting audiences in mainland China, where the film will premiere in theaters on September 11, according to Fortune.

The Mulan team cast popular Chinese actors, tested the film with Chinese audiences, and made sure to get the script approved by Chinese authorities in a bid for a slice of mainland China's $9 billion in box-office revenues.

The calls for a boycott are the latest in a series of challenges for the film's release. Mulan, which had a budget of $200 million, was originally slated to open in theaters on March 27 and has been delayed multiple times because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Without a deal in the US to bring the film to theaters, the China market represents the largest theater-going audience for the film.

Disney did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the controversy. 

On Friday, the movie became available for purchase for Disney Plus' 60 million subscribers, who can pay $30 (on top of their $7 monthly subscription) to view the film. The film will be available for free to Disney Plus subscribers on starting December 4.

SEE ALSO: Disney's decision to debut 'Mulan' on Disney Plus for $30 could mean big changes for movie theaters, but the economics of high-price digital releases are daunting

DON'T MISS: Pirated versions of 'Tenet' have appeared online ahead of the movie's US debut

Join the conversation about this story »

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The top 9 movies on Netflix this week, from 'The Frozen Ground' to 'Quantum of Solace'


the frozen ground

Summary List Placement

A new James Bond movie, "No Time to Die," is set to hit theaters in November, but Netflix users aren't wasting any time getting their 007 fix.

2008's "Quantum of Solace," Daniel Craig's second outing as the character, is a hit on the streaming giant. But it's not as popular as the 2013 Nicolas Cage-starring thriller, "The Frozen Ground," or the Netflix original superhero movie, "Project Power."

Netflix introduced daily top 10 lists of its most viewed movies and TV shows in February (it counts a view if an account watches at least two minutes of a title).

Every week, the streaming search engine Reelgood compiles for Business Insider a list of which movies have been most prominent on Netflix's daily lists that week. On Reelgood, users can browse Netflix's entire movie library and sort by IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes ratings.

Below are Netflix's 9 most popular movies of the week in the US:

SEE ALSO: 'The Umbrella Academy' has become Netflix's biggest hit series since 'The Witcher'

9. "Boss Baby: Get That Baby!" (2020, Netflix original)

Description: "Think you've got what it takes to be the boss? This interactive special puts your skills to the test and matches you up with one of 16 jobs at Baby Corp."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: N/A

What critics said: N/A

8. "1BR" (2019)

Description: "Seeking her independence, a young woman moves to Los Angeles and settles into a cozy apartment complex with a disturbing sense of community."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 85%

What critics said: "Real-life details culled from ex-members' accounts of life in groups like Scientology and NXIVM give the film an edgy ripped-from-the-headlines quality, as well as reinforcing the sheer L.A. of it all."— AV Club 

7. "Due Date" (2010)

Description: "Days before his pregnant wife's due date, Peter lands on the 'no-fly' list, forcing him to drive across the country with an irritating slacker."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 40%

What critics said: "The most offensive bodily fluid being hurled around in Due Date are the tears that Phillips dishonestly tries to wrest from the audience's eyes."— Slate

6. "The Sleepover" (2020, Netflix original)

Description: "What do you do if your parents are kidnapped by a crew of international thieves? You begin a wild overnight adventure — complete with spy gear."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 70%

What critics said: "The kind of vanilla, disposable product one imagines might've played on the Disney Channel around the turn of the century."— The Hollywood Reporter

5. "Quantum of Solace" (2008)

Description: "Picking up an hour after the events of 2006's Casino Royale, this James Bond adventure finds 007 tracking a traitor who's infiltrated Britain's MI6."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 65%

What critics said: "Much has been made of the absence of Bond's signature quips, but there's something else that's absent: interest."— Time Out

4. "Drunk Parents" (2019)

Description: "Two desperate parents go to extreme lengths to hide their dire financial straits from their daughter and friends."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 0%

What critics said: "Hey, you sign on to a movie co-written and directed by the guy nominated for a Razzie for the heinous script to 'Grown Ups 2,' you take your chances."— Movie Nation

3. "The Smurfs" (2011)

Description: "When evil Gargamel tries to capture them, the Smurfs flee their woodland home, pass through a magic portal and find themselves stranded in New York."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 21%

What critics said: "Filmgoers who enjoyed the cartoon (or comic strips) as a kid will very likely be left with the taste of sour Smurfberries."— Screenrant

2. "Project Power" (2020, Netflix original)

Description: "An ex-soldier, a teen and a cop collide in New Orleans as they hunt for the source behind a dangerous new pill that grants users temporary superpowers."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 60%

What critics said: "The undercooked plot works just well enough to fuel this vehicle for Jamie Foxx and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, mashing up old movies in a fast-paced package."— CNN

1. "The Frozen Ground" (2013)

Description: "In this fact-based thriller, an Alaska state trooper pursuing a serial killer teams with a 17-year-old-prostitute who escaped the predator's clutches."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 61%

What critics said: "'The Frozen Ground' trucks in cliche, as most serial killer and police procedural films do, but the strength of the acting (from the leads down to people with only one or two lines) helps ground the film."— RogerEbert.com

'Mulan' viewership data from connected TVs provide a snapshot of how much money it made in its first weekend on Disney Plus


mulan 2020

Summary List Placement

Disney's big-budget, and controversial, "Mulan" remake hit Disney Plus on Friday, a surprising move as the coronavirus pandemic continues to shake the entertainment industry.

The movie was watched by 1.12 million US households over the four-day Labor Day weekend, from Friday to Monday, according to analytics company Samba TV. It cost an additional $29.99 for Disney Plus subscribers to buy "Premiere Access" to the movie, which means it earned at least $33.5 million, according to the estimates. It has earned $6 million at the international box office in territories where it opened in theaters, according to Box Office Mojo.

A Disney representative told Business Insider it does not have viewership data at this time.

Samba TV measures viewership on connected-TV devices, which includes smart TVs, Roku, and gaming consoles, but not mobile or laptop viewing. But the data provides a snapshot of how "Mulan" performed in its opening weekend, as Hollywood grapples with release strategies for tentpole films.

In a contrasting strategy, Warner Bros. released Christopher Nolan's "Tenet" in the US over the weekend where theaters are open, which didn't include New York, a major theatrical market that remains shut down due to the pandemic. The movie earned a lukewarm $20 million over the holiday weekend and has grossed more than $150 million globally.

Both "Mulan" and "Tenet" cost $200 million to produce, meaning they'll need to make substantially more money to earn a profit, but they represent dueling visions for big-budget releases. Warner Bros. remained committed to theaters, pushing the "Tenet" release back several times from its original July date.

Disney also pushed "Mulan" back, until it finally decided to debut the movie on its streaming service for a premium fee. However, it opens this weekend in China, which is expected to be a major market for the movie.

"Mulan" will be available to all Disney Plus subscribers in December at no extra cost, meaning there's a three-month window after "Premiere Access." The short window could have hindered "Mulan's" success over the weekend, as consumers may be waiting for the movie to drop the additional pricetag. 

The movie has also been enveloped in controversy. Activists and others have slammed the movie for filming parts in China's Xinjiang region, where authorities have been implicated in human-rights violations against Muslim Uighurs. The end credits offer a "special thanks" to Chinese officials in Xinjiang.

SEE ALSO: Disney filmed parts of 'Mulan' in China's Xinjiang, where millions of Muslims are being spied on and locked up

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