Happy birthday, Redbox! The DVD rental service turns 15 this week.
From its humble beginnings as a mere branch of the McDonald’s megacorporation to its blossoming into a large corporation in its own right, Redbox has been a disruptive force in the movie industry since its inception. But enough about them, who cares. We’re here to find out which movies Americans have been renting the most.
Surely, it’s not that bad.
Okay. Not a great start. A Roland Emmerich-directed Channing Tatum action film, wherein Tatum saves the president from disgruntled soldiers. It’s not really clear to us why a mediocre movie boasting mediocre thrills and mediocre writing so thoroughly piqued America’s interest it became the fifteenth most-rented movie, but hey, maybe the next one’s better.
Another mediocre action movie in our top 15. This time, the lesser of the two big YA adaptations you saw a million trailers for in recent years. Teens are going to Redbox to catch up on the movie versions of their favorite books—who knew?
In what is already a marked trend for this list, World War Z was a solid hit at the box office with a mixed critical reception. There isn’t too much else to say about it. Even Brad Pitt seemed bored with it.
Ah, and here’s the other YA franchise, come to join the party. “Hey, Divergent,” it seems to say. “How’s it going in that 14 spot? Is it fun, knowing that even here, you play second fiddle to me? You are like dirt, like dust. I trample you in all things.”
Huh. Where’d this one come from? An Oscar contender starring Tom Hanks? It doesn’t seem like Paul Greengrass’ tense thriller fits with the movies that came before—can you imagine it rubbing elbows with the likes of White House Down? At Redbox’s birthday party, Captain Phillips would be standing in the back, reflecting on its meaningful journey through trauma, while the YA adaptations get drunk off two glasses of boxed wine and sing along to pop songs.
See? America isn’t so badly off that its list of most popular movies doesn’t include some real films. The fact that they’re renting Martin Scorsese’s three-hour meditation on the endless, callous greed of stockbrokers shows—oh, you’re telling us that these rental numbers were likely driven by frat boys wishing to emulate Jordan Belfort in his uncaring lifestyle that constantly victimizes others? Hm.
And we have our first Adam Sandler movie, ranked just higher than the Scorsese movie. There we go. After that two-film sojourn into quality, we were worried we might never get back to soul-crushing mediocrity dressed up as cinema.
This time, the soul-crushing mediocrity adds Chris Rock! Hi, Chris Rock! How does it feel that this is by far the most popular movie you’ve made in the last decade, with the only possible exception being the children’s franchise in which you voice a zebra? (Madagascar did not make this list.)
This one baffles us. Flight is a movie about Denzel Washington piloting a plane so miraculously well that he saves nearly everyone onboard in a thrilling sequence, and then proceeding to contend with his alcoholism for the remaining hour of the movie. It’s not a bad film, but one man dealing with substance abuse doesn’t exactly scream blockbuster entertainment. Still, it certainly fits the trend of unspectacular box office hits with somewhat mixed reviews. Maybe that’s why it’s ranked so high.
Melissa McCarthy makes her first appearance on the list. The Heat is a buddy cop film starring McCarthy and Sandra Bullock. It has a 65 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. It is perfectly fine.
Gonna level with you, folks. Didn’t remember what this one was. Wikipedia says it’s a comedy starring Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston, directed by the guy who directed recent “huh?” hit Daddy’s Home 2. It made $270 million at the global box office, because apparently people adore Sean Anders’ forgettable garbage comedies. And Jennifer Aniston’s second on the list! Hooray, Jennifer Aniston.
The one and only superhero movie on the list. Not satisfied with its $1.5 billion at the box office, The Avengers swoops down and crashes the party, slurping up as much money as it possibly can for Disney. It eats everything at Redbox’s birthday party. Everything.
Adam Sandler may be the king of this list, but Melissa McCarthy is the queen, and her power dwarfs Sandler’s. Identity Thief is where McCarthy steals perennial straight man Jason Bateman’s identity. Wrote Tyler Chase in his review for Paste, McCarthy’s “range is criminally misused here—it’s almost as if someone stole her comedic identity and committed a bad film in her name.”
Hey, 21 Jump Street is here! Maybe this party isn’t so bad after all. Another hit at the box office, this movie bucks the overall trend of the list by being a critical darling in addition to its commercial success. It also represents the end of an arc of redemption for Channing Tatum. He began this list with White House Down, a silly, bad, forgettable movie. Look at him now.
And we’ve found it. The most popular kid at the birthday party. The queen bee. The Hunger Games reigns over us all. We can never escape the franchise’s icy grip. All hail Jennifer Lawrence, all hail Katniss.
So there you have it. America’s most-rented movies. A list stuffed to the brim with run-of-the-mill blockbusters, bad comedies and mega-franchises. If nothing else, this list should confirm to you that yes, Americans really do enjoy their mediocre blockbuster entertainment. They aren’t all that interested in good movies—so long as a film has some CGI explosions or some well-liked white comedic actor, they’re down to rent it.