The Post

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Fox;
Drama;
Box Office $81.88 million;
$29.99 DVD, $34.99 Blu-ray, $39.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for language and brief war violence.
Stars Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Bob Odenkirk, Carrie Coon, Bruce Greenwood, Jesse Plemons, Sarah Paulson, Tracy Letts, Bradley Whitford, Matthew Rhys, Alison Brie, David Cross, Zach Woods.

Even before seeing the movie, the obvious question surrounding The Post is why the filmmakers would decide to focus a story about the publication of the Pentagon Papers on the efforts of The Washington Post newspaper when the bulk of the material was broken by The New York Times.

After watching it, though, it’s a lot easier to understand some of the reasons director Steven Spielberg guided the film along the approach it took.

For one, there just seems to be much more storytelling to mine from the Washington Post perspective, whereas a Times POV would likely have been a more straightforward legal drama about the relationship between the press and government.

At the time, the Post was still seen as primarily a local D.C. publication without the broad national following it has now. Financially strapped, the paper issued an IPO that could have been threatened by any legal troubles encountered as a result of publishing the leaked documents copied from a classified report that exposed government deception in the conduct of the Vietnam War.

And that’s on top of the expected discussions of the role of journalism in a democracy and defending the First Amendment against government pushback, with the Times included in all those story points anyway.

There’s also an argument to be made that the primary interest of the film isn’t even about the Pentagon Papers to begin with.

Certainly, looking at the film from the prism of the Pentagon Papers as the subject matter makes it seem like it’s the story of a minor newspaper jumping on the bandwagon of a bigger newspaper to gain stature.

But keeping a bigger picture in mind, the film is much more about how the Post rose in prominence under the leadership of publisher Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep) and editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks), and that the Pentagon Papers just happened to be the catalyst.

From Spielberg’s perspective, it probably didn’t hurt that this approach also allowed him to devote significant screen time to Graham in depicting the ascension of a female publisher in a man’s world.

Spielberg also seems interested in positioning the film as a prequel of sorts to All the President’s Men, showing how the Post became the paper that drove coverage of the Watergate break-in.

As such, The Post is more fascinating for its procedural aspects and character dynamics for any actual history it’s trying to explore. The film also sees itself as an allegorical commentary on criticism of President Trump’s relationship to the media, and his tendency to label detractors as “fake news,” but these aspects of the film are really only going to appeal to choirs expecting to be preached to. One could be completely oblivious to such perceived messaging and still find the film immensely entertaining. The performances are terrific and the nitty-gritty details of classic print journalism are just fun to see, particularly contrasted with the digital simplicity of today.

The Blu-ray includes a number of good behind-the-scenes featurettes that detail the making of the film and explore the real-life circumstances being explored. This being a Spielberg movie, there’s also a featurette about the music composed by longtime collaborator John Williams, this being their 28th film together.

Sony Ups Q4 Home Entertainment Revenue

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment April 27 reported fourth-quarter (ended March 31) revenue of $290 million, which was up nearly 6% from revenue of $274 million during the previous-year period.

For the fiscal year, revenue dipped 5% to $982 million from $1 billion in the previous year.

Lone home entertainment release in the quarter – box office hit, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle– was released just 11 days before the end of the quarter.

Top-selling discs in the quarter included Spider-Man: Homecoming, which generated $1.7 million in combined DVD/Blu-ray Disc unit sales, according to The-Numbers.com. The title has generated $50 million in disc sales since its Oct. 17, 2017 retail release.

Baby Drivergenerated $16.7 million, while Josh Brolin’s forest fire bio-pic, Only the Brave, generated $5.6 million, and animated movie, The Star, generated $4.7 million.

Overall, theatrical revenue in the quarter increased 7% to $1.35 billion from $1.26 billion last year. Fiscal year revenue increased 8% to $4 billion from $3.7 billion.

Operating income for the fiscal year bounced back into the black at $841 million compared to a $962 million loss last year following an impairment charge.

 

 

‘Greatest Showman’ Encores Atop Home Video Charts

The musical The Greatest Showman, from 20th Century Fox, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi, from Walt Disney Studios, repeated as the No. 1 and No. 2 titles, respectively, on the national home video sales charts the week ended April 21.

Two newcomers took the next two spots on both the NPD VideoScan First Alert sales chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales, and the dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart.

Lionsgate’s The Commuter, an action-thriller with Liam Neeson confronting a conspiracy on a New York passenger train, too the third spot after a $36.3 million box office run in U.S. theaters.

At No. 4 was Fox’s The Post, a Steven Spielberg-directed docu-drama about the dilemmas facing The Washington Post newspaper around the time of the publication of the controversial Pentagon Papers in the 1970s. Starring Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, the film earned $81.9 million at the domestic box office.

No. 5 on both charts went to Sony Pictures’ Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle in its fifth week on disc.

The only other top 10 debut was Warner’s direct-to-video sequel Deep Blue Sea 2, which landed at No. 8 overall and No. 11 on the Blu-ray chart.

Blu-ray Disc accounted for 50% of Commuter unit sales, 48% for The Post and 35% for Deep Blue Sea 2.

On the Media Play News rental chart for the week ended April 22, The Commuter debuted at No. 1. Greatest Showman moved up to No. 2 after the end of its week-long delay at Redbox kiosks.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle dropped to No. 3 after four weeks in the top spot.

Rounding out the top five were The Post at No. 4 (skipping its week-long holdback) and Warner’s Father Figures at No. 5.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 04-21-18
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 04-22-18
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 04-21-18
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 04-21-18
Sales Report for Week Ended 04-21-18
Digital Sales Snapshot for Week Ended 04-23-18

Amazon Raising Annual Prime Fee to $119

With over 100 million members worldwide, in addition to global aspirations delivering movies, TV shows, music, books and merchandise to consumers, Amazon April 26 announced it is raising the annual Prime fee by $20 to $119.

CFO Brian Olsavsky, on the fiscal call, said the price hike reflected the increasing services available “for free” to Prime members.

“This is a better reflection of the cost value of the [Prime] program,” Olsavsky said.

He said the last Prime price hike (from $79 to $99 in 2014) occurred when the ecommerce giant offered 20 million items available to ship for two-day shipping. It now has more than 100 million items eligible for Prime shipping.

In January, Amazon raised the monthly Prime fee to $12.99 from $10.99; and added $1 to the $5.99 student fee. But left the annual fee unchanged.

With Amazon locked in a content arms race with Netflix, Amazon Studios is projected to spend upwards of $5 million on original content this year – almost 40% less than its rival. The latest fee hike could help pay for some that content spending.

Meanwhile, Amazon generated nearly $27 billion in first-quarter (ended March 31) online sales, up 18% from the previous-year period with $22.8 billion in sales. The tallies include digital media content from Amazon Instant Video.

 

Cinedigm Bowing Female-Centric SVOD Service

Cinedigm is launching what it claims is the first-ever women’s lifestyle subscription video-on-demand service (SVOD). The platform is expected to launch in the fourth quarter with distribution plans for Web and mobile, including both iOS and Android platforms.

Cinedigm is partnering with Gatherer Entertainment, an entertainment hub dedicated to providing women in the 35-54 demo with curated content.

The channel will offer one-stop-shop of content touching all aspects of a woman’s life, with topics ranging from news, beauty and fashion, to midlife women’s health and wellness tips, food, wine and cooking profiles, financial insights and planning, crafty DIY, technology updates, travel expeditions, and everything in between.

Original scripted content will feature episodes with breaks perfectly suited to fit viewers’ fast-paced lifestyles, while unscripted series will present news and information uninterrupted in two-minute formats, hosted by reliable, experienced, relatable women.

Launched by CEO Jenna Segal in 2017, Gatherer Entertainment spent a year researching viewing patterns and listening to women discuss how, where and when they watch video content. With increasingly busy schedules, balancing lives both at home and in the workplace, women 35+ are leading the OTT charge, eschewing cable and satellite in favor of regularly streaming their favorite shows, according to Cinedigm.

Segal’s credits include producing Broadway show GIGI and off- Broadway production, What We’re Up Against, as well as Web series, “Black Dynamite,” and “Lady Parts.” Segal previously served as director of production management at Viacom, working with MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon and Nicktoons.

Gatherer’s management team also includes co-founder and CMO Heidi Packer Eskenazi, founder of boutique firm HAP Consulting; and head of strategy and operations, Eric Sherman.

“Jenna and Heidi are smart, passionate leaders with a fantastic vision for building a content-centric community, and we look forward to helping them bring it to fruition,” Erick Opeka, EVP of Cinedigm Networks, said in a statement.

This latest OTT venture marks Cinedigm’s ninth video channel. The home entertainment distributor currently operates martial arts platform Combat Go, Docurama, CONtv, eSports lifestyle network WHAM, Asian music and pop culture service, HallyPop, a Chinese entertainment channel, and family-focused Dove Channel and DoveKids.

 

‘Jurassic Park 25th Anniversary Collection’ coming May 22 from Universal

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment will release the Jurassic Park 25th Anniversary Collection on May 22, in time for the theatrical debut of Jurassic Word: Fallen Kingdom, the fifth installment in the series due in theaters June 22.

Available for the first time ever in 4K Ultra HD and featuring newly remastered versions of the films, the collection also includes Blu-ray and Digital via the Movies Anywhere app. The set features book-style packaging and hours of bonus content, including deleted scenes, storyboards, interviews and behind-the-scenes featurettes.

Jurassic Park, based on the best-selling book by Michael Crichton, won three Academy Awards, spawned a series of sequels, and continues to be one of the highest-grossing franchises of all time, grossing more than $3 billion worldwide.

The set includes Jurassic Park and The Lost World: Jurassic Park, from director Steven Spielberg; Jurassic Park III, from director Joe Johnston; and Jurassic World, from director Colin Trevorrow. Among the films’ stars are Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard.

Bonus features include:

  • “Return to Jurassic Park,” a six-part documentary featuring interviews with the many of the cast members from the first three films, the filmmakers and Spielberg;
  • “Welcome to Jurassic World,” an in-depth look at the creation, look and feel of Jurassic World in whichTrevorrow and Spielberg discuss how the idea of the film came together and how the casting was decided with actors’ commentary on their roles and filming locations;
  • “Dinosaurs Roam Once Again,” behind-the-scenes look at the making ofJurassic World’s visual effects, how the dinosaurs came to life and how actors filmed scenes;
  • “Jurassic World: All-Access Pass,” in which Pratt and Trevorrow discuss key moments in the film, supported by behind-the-scenes footage and VFX breakdowns;
  • deleted scenes;
  • and more than 40 additional bonus featurettes from all four films.

The 4K Ultra HD combo pack includes 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray and Digital. The 4K Ultra HD disc will include the same bonus features as the Blu-ray version in 4K resolution.

‘Die Hard’ 30th Anniversary Edition Disc Coming in May

A 30th anniversary edition of the classic action film Die Hard is on the way from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

The studio on May 15 will release an all-new 4K Ultra HD remaster as well as a regular Blu-ray Disc.

The 1988 film, which launched a five-film franchise, stars Bruce Willis as a New York City police officer who flies to Los Angeles on Christmas Eve to visit his wife at a party in her company’s elegant high-rise (the same Century City building that is now headquarters for 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment). A group of terrorists seize the building and take everyone hostage except for Willis, who must single-handedly save the day.

Fox also has partnered with Walmart to issue the Die Hard 5-Film Box Set, a steelbook-encased collection of all five “Die Hard” movies: the 1988 original, Die Hard 2 (1990), Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995), Live Free or Die Hard (2007) and A Good Day to Die Hard (2013). The five-film set is also due May 15 and will be available only at Walmart stores.

The Blu-ray Disc reissue features no new bonus content, just the same extras as on a previous release:

  • Commentary by director John McTiernan and production designer Jackson DeGovia
  • Scene-specific commentary by special effects supervisor Richard Edlund
  • Subtitle commentary by various cast and crew members
  • “The News Casts” featurette
  • Interactive style gallery
  • Interactive articles from Cinefex and American Cinematographer
  • Full-length screenplay
  • Trailers and TV spots

Tribeca Film Festival Expands Brightcove Video Platform for Global Audience

The Tribeca Film Festival April 26 announced it is expanding Brightcove’s video platform for online viewers worldwide to 2018 Festival through April 29.

The independent film festival launched in 2002 by actor Robert De Niro and others, extended the core Brightcove platform and website by incorporating emotive, engaging, video experiences around trailers, festival programs, and film guides.

Tribeca relies on video content to extend brand visibility, increase viewership, drive ticket sales and boost partnership and sponsorship opportunities. With the Brightcove platform, Tribeca is able to deliver on all these objectives across its target audiences, according to David Speer, operations manager of the festival.

“At Tribeca, our goal is to be able to showcase and provide access to the independent film culture for audiences, wherever they may be,” Speer said in a statement. “With Brightcove, we have been able to deliver an exceptional experience for our viewers to not only watch on demand clips and highlights on our website but also view trailers of our festival films and other full features and shorts to press and industry members. We continue to be impressed with the technology from Brightcove that allows us to continuously reach a wide-ranging audience, while ensuring a premium end-user experience.”

The festival also partners with Lionsgate for Tribeca Short List, an over-the-top video subscription service featuring curated movies hosted by actors, directors and producers.

Warner Bros. Ups Q1 Home Entertainment Revenue

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment April 26 reported first-quarter (ended March 31) revenue of $396 million from the sale of packaged media and digital movies. The tally was up 7% from revenue of $368 million in the previous-year period.

Home entertainment sales of TV content, which includes HBO, declined 14% to $75 million from $87 million last year.

Specifically, Warner Home Video benefitted from strong retail sales of horror film, It, which has generated $31.5 million in combined DVD/Blu-ray Disc sales since its Jan. 9 retail release, according to The-Numbers.com. The title — based on Stephen King’s novel about pre-teens fighting an evil demon that poses as a child-killing clown — ranks No. 2 in disc sales in 2018 after Disney/Pixar’s Coco with $33.1 million.

Other top-selling Warner disc in the quarter included Oscar winners Blade Runner 2049 ($22.5 million since Jan. 18 street date) and Dunkirk ($7.6 million). The Christopher Nolan war film has generated $29 million in disc sales since its Dec. 17, 2017 retail bow.

Overall, Warner said operating income decreased 34% ($168 million) to $322 million primarily due to revenue declines – the latter decreasing 4% ($127 million) to $3.2 billion, due to lower television and theatrical revenue.

The decline in television revenue was primarily due to the comparison to the domestic licensing of certain library series in the prior-year quarter. Theatrical revenue decreased due to the mix and timing of releases, as the prior-year quarter included the releases of Kong: Skull Island and The Lego Batman Movie compared to the late quarter release of Ready Player One in the current year, partially offset by higher international licensing revenues.

From its opening on March 29 through April 24, Ready Player One grossed over $525 million at the worldwide box office and is Warner’s highest-grossing film ever in China.

Warner Bros. Television shows “The Big Bang Theory,” “Young Sheldon” and “Mom,” as well as “The Voice,” “The Bachelor” and “Ellen’s Game of Games.”

 

House Passes Updated Music Copyright Bill

The House of Representatives April 25 approved the Music Modernization Act (H.R. 5447), legislation intended to update music copyright laws and remuneration to artists and creators in the digital age.

The bill, which was introduced to the House on April 10 House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), would be the biggest update to music legislation in 40 years, if confirmed by the Senate, according to the Recording Academy.

To help gain passage of the bill, the Academy sent more than 100 Grammy winners, nominees and industry leaders to meet with lawmakers in the House and Senate April 18-19 as part of the Academy’s “Grammys on the Hill” grassroots initiative.

The Music Modernization Act unites provisions from four previously introduced bills — the Allocation for Music Producers (AMP) Act, the Classics Act, the Fair Play Fair Pay Act, and a songwriter-specific version of the Music Modernization Act —under one legislative umbrella to ensure advancement and protections for all music creators.

The Recording Academy has been championing the need for music reform in the digital age as public consumption of recorded music moves from transactional to subscription streaming. The Academy first established a lobbying presence in Washington, D.C., 20 years ago, according to CEO Neil Portnow.

“Passage of the Music Modernization Act in the House is a historic step forward for all music creators, ensuring that they are credited, paid, and shown the respect they deserve for the impact they have on our culture and daily life,” Portnow said in a statement.

A hearing is expected to be scheduled in the Senate within the coming weeks.