Lionsgate Will Bring ‘I Still Believe’ To PVOD A Week From Friday

Of the three wide releases to debut last weekend, I Still Believe was arguably hurt the most by the coronavirus pandemic.

By Scott Mendelson
March 19, 2020

Lionsgate just announced that Kingdom Story Company’s I Still Believe will debut on premium video-on-demand on all relevant platforms beginning Friday, March 27. While pricing will be determined next week, the film was one of three wide releases that opened last Friday amid the growing coronavirus pandemic. Of the three, I would argue that it was most impacted.

Blumhouse’s The Hunt opened with $5.3 million, below the $10 million projection but in line with recent Universal underperformers ($6.6 million for Cats and $4.7 million for Black Christmas). Sony’s Bloodshot was tracking at $10 million. As such, its $9.17 million domestic launch (on the heels or poor reviews and little buzz) was right in line with the likes of The Last Witch Hunter ($10.8 million in 2015).

Jon and Andrew Erwin’s faith-based drama was the arguable wild card. Yes, Lionsgate had been tracking for a $10-$12 million launch. That would have been fine an under-$15 million drama with a built-in fanbase and the likelihood of legs. But The Shack opened with $16 million in 2017 and I Can Only Imagine opened with $17 million in 2018.

As such, it wasn’t beyond the bounds of probability that this KJ Apa/Britt Robertson/Shania Twain/Gary Sinese romantic drama/music biopic might overperform compared to the arguably doomed Vin Diesel actioner and the controversial Universal action thrillers. Even the $9.1 million launch would have been okay, considering the A Cinemascore grade and 98% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. But you can’t have legs and post-debut buzz when all of the theaters are closed.

The Hunt will debut on “$20 for a 48-hour rental” VOD tomorrow (alongside The Invisible Man and Emma. Sony’s Bloodshot will be available via electronic sell-through (“$20 to own”) this coming Tuesday. I Still Believe will be available to watch at home next Friday.

They will join “early” VOD offerings like The Gentlemen (a Guy Ritchie gangster flick) and Birds of Prey (a DC superhero/supervillain action comedy arguably structured like a Guy Ritchie gangster flick)as those late January/early February titles debut in their first stop in the post-theatrical afterlife slightly earlier than otherwise intended. I wouldn’t be remotely shocked if Warner Bros.’ Ben Affleck vehicle The Way Back is the next recent release to go down this path.

The likes of Sony’s Bad Boys for Life, Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog and Universal’s Dolittle may stay within the theatrical window for now. The big variable is China, as Chinese theaters may be open in a few weeks. Otherwise, give or take Pixar’s Onward and 20th Century’s Call of the Wild, pretty much everything of note this year has been accounted for in terms of movies already in theaters prior to the shutdown.

A24 announced that it will re-issue First Cow in theaters at a later point when theaters are (safely) open again. Almost everything else of note in the 2020 theatrical releases is either already on VOD/DVD, on their way as scheduled or frankly too small in terms of the theatrical landscape to merit much concern. By next Friday, I Still Believe will cap off the year in theatrically-released feature films for 2020, at least until China opens the doors and starts playing new movies, be they foreign imports or delayed Chinese would-be blockbusters.