‘Last Jedi’ Takes Over Top Sellers for 2018; ‘Greatest Showman’ Leads April Disc Sales

The list of top sellers for 2018 shuffled a bit as the NPD Group announced VideoScan’s list of the combined Blu-ray Disc and DVD top sellers for April.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi, released toward the end of March, took over the top spot for the year through the first four months, pushing Coco to No. 2. Both films are distributed by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.

For the month of April, Last Jedi was the No. 2 seller, just as it was in March, as its late-March disc release divided the bulk of its early sales between the two months. The top spot in April went to 20th Century Fox’s The Greatest Showman, an April 10 disc release.

Fox’s Maze Runner: The Death Cure, released April 24, was the No. 3 seller for the month.

Sony Pictures’ Peter Rabbit, a May 1 disc release, landed as the No. 4 seller for April, likely owing to strong presales for the family film.

According to NPD, the April 2018 top 10 by units sold were:

  1. The Greatest Showman (Fox)
  2. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Disney)
  3. Maze Runner: The Death Cure (Fox)
  4. Peter Rabbit (Sony Pictures)
  5. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (Sony Pictures)
  6. Thor: Ragnarok (Disney)
  7. The Commuter (Lionsgate)
  8. Coco (Disney)
  9. The Post (Fox)
  10. 12 Strong (Warner)

 

Year-to-date Top 10 (through April 2018):

  1. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Disney)
  2. Coco (Disney)
  3. Thor: Ragnarok (Disney)
  4. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (Sony Pictures)
  5. Justice League (Warner)
  6. The Greatest Showman (Fox)
  7. It (2017) (Warner)
  8. Ferdinand (Fox)
  9. Wonder (Lionsgate)
  10. Blade Runner 2049 (Warner)

 

‘Thor: Ragnarok’ Conquers March Disc Sales

 

FCC Commissioner Sends Letter Asking Amazon and eBay to Help Stop Sale of Fraudulent Set-Top Boxes

FCC commissioner Mike O’Reilly May 25 sent a letter to Amazon chairman and CEO Jeff Bezos and eBay president and CEO Devin Wenig asking them to help stop the sale of fraudulent set-top boxes, many of which can be used to illegally view content.

“I am writing because certain manufacturers of video television set-top boxes are either failing to comply with Federal Communications Commission equipment authorization requirements or falsely using FCC branding on their devices,” O’Reilly wrote. “Although sufficiently disturbing on its own, these devices are particularly problematic as they are perpetrating intellectual property theft and consumer fraud. While the Commission has obligations on our end to prevent unauthorized set-top boxes from being available no matter their use, I seek your partnership in helping to remove these illegal products from the stream of commerce.”

FCC logo

O’Reilly noted that manufacturers using the FCC logo have demonstrated compliance with the commission’s regulations and that the logo’s use is required to market products such as set-top boxes in the United States.

“Disturbingly, some rogue set-top box manufacturers and distributors are exploiting the FCC’s trusted logo by fraudulently placing it on devices that have not been approved via the Commission’s equipment authorization process,” O’Reilly wrote. “Specifically, nine set top box distributors were referred to the FCC in October for enabling the unlawful streaming of copyrighted material, seven of which displayed the FCC logo, although there was no record of such compliance. Many of these sellers are attempting to distribute their non-compliant products through online marketplaces such as yours. Although outside the jurisdiction of the Commission, it is equally troubling that many of these devices are being used to illegally stream copyrighted content, exacerbating the theft of billions of dollars in American innovation and creativity.”

While recognizing the eBay and Amazon have taken steps to remove devices marketed as facilitating piracy from their websites, he asked for “further cooperation in assisting the FCC in taking steps to eliminate non-FCC compliant devices or devices that fraudulently bear the FCC logo.”

He also noted that many of the devices contain “harmful malware.”

MGM Studios Q1 Home Entertainment Revenue Plummets

Limited to catalog releases, MGM Studios Home Entertainment reported first-quarter (ended March 31) global revenue of $19.1 million, down 40% ($12.8 million) from revenue of $31.9 million for the previous-year period.

Home entertainment revenue for the prior-year quarter primarily included worldwide electronic sellthrough revenue for The Magnificent Seven and Ben-Hur, plus ongoing revenue from Spectre, the “Hobbit” trilogy, Creed and library content.

On the bright side, home entertainment revenue from television content topped $10.5 million, up $2 million (23.5%) from revenue of $8.5 million for the previous-year period.

The increase was primarily driven by the continued strong home entertainment sales of season 1 of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which streams exclusively on Hulu.

MGM distributes its content via several major studios, including 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment for Spectre, SkyfallDeath Wish, Every Day, RoboCop, “Vikings,” “Get Shorty,” “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Teen Wolf,” among others,as well as certain EST distribution rights feature films and television content. MGM’s agreement with Fox expires June 30, 2020.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment distributes the “Jump Street” franchise and The Magnificent Seven; Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is the physical home entertainment distributor for the “Hobbit” trilogy, Creed, Max, Me Before You, Tomb Raider and Everything, Everything.

Fox is the physical home entertainment distributor for Poltergeist; and Paramount Home Media Distribution is the physical home entertainment distributor for Sherlock Gnomes and Ben-Hur.

MoviePass Eyeing Content ‘Oasis’

NEWS ANALYSIS — Helios and Matheson Analytics (HMNY), the cash-poor corporate parent of theatrical ticket subscription service MoviePass, keeps swinging for the fences. Now it wants to buy a film production company.

HMNY May 30 announced it has acquired the option to acquire indie film house Emmet Furla Oasis Films (EFO Films), whose titles include Lonesome Survivor, Broken City and End of Watch, among others. If completed, HMNY would co-0wn with EFO new business subsidiary MoviePass Films.

With HMNY’s stock trading around 40 cents per share, the deal is another corporate Hail Mary with EFO’s Randall Emmett and George Furla serving as co-CEO’s of the new company.

HMNY would own 51% of MoviePass Films, with EFO Films owning 49%. HMNY CFO Stuart Benson would serve in the same position at the new venture, with Ted Farnsworth, CEO of HMNY, serving as chairman of the board.

Mitch Lowe, CEO of MoviePass, would have a seat on the board.

“Since we began disrupting the movie industry with our unprecedented low cost movie theater subscription service, MoviePass, we have envisioned owning and developing our own content and using the power of our several million subscribers to bolster the success of our films,” Lowe said in a statement. “I believe this partnership with EFO Films will accelerate those efforts.”

Indeed, MoviePass cut its teeth in the content business earlier this year acquiring rights to American Animals with Orchard, and John Travolta’s Gotti biopic — the latter after Lionsgate dropped the film from its release schedule. Both movies are slated to be released in June.

How owning a film production company will help MoviePass, whose loss-leader business model enables subscribers daily access to a theatrical screening for $9.95 a month, is anyone’s guess.

With more than 2 million subscribers, MoviePass is a hit with consumers and a fiscal goldmine for exhibitors. But the business is burning through more than $21 million on a monthly basis, which left HMNY with about $15.5 million in cash, according to its most-recent fiscal filing.

Hedge fund Citadel Securities apparently believes the hype. It acquired a 5.4% stake in HMNY May 29, for about $1.7 million.

Comcast, Fandango Partner to Sell Movie Tickets on the TV

In a unique inter-corporate marketing move, Comcast Cable and Fandango May 30 announced that Xfinity subscribers can now for the first time purchase movie tickets via the X1 set-top and voice remote on their television.

Fandango, which includes transactional platform Fandango Now, is part of the Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, which is a unit of NBC Universal and owned by Comcast.

Xfinity X1 customers can say “Get tickets” into their X1 voice remote while watching trailers to more than 30,000 theatrical screens in the U.S., including Universal Pictures’ Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,which debuts June 22. The companies expect to extend this feature to additional new releases throughout the year.

“Xfinity X1 enables us to continually explore one-of-a-kind experiences that complement the TV viewing experience, allowing viewers to interact with content where and when it is convenient for them,” Nancy Spears, VP, strategy and execution, Comcast Cable, said in a statement.

X1 customers who watch the Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom trailer on Xfinity On Demand will receive an on-screen notification prompting them to say “Get tickets” into their voice remote (or press the info button on the remote) to initiate the online ticket-buying process. From there, they’ll be able to review a list of showtimes at nearby theaters. Customers can opt to send the local showtimes to their mobile phone to complete the purchase via Fandango’s mobile app or website.

Prior to the launch of Fallen Kingdom and to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Jurassic Park, Xfinity TV customers can watch the entire Jurassic franchise through a new curated destination on X1 — accessible via the movies section on Xfinity On Demand or by saying “Jurassic World” into the voice remote.

Subs can rent or purchase any of the previous films, pre-order Fallen Kingdomhome entertainment release and access clips, trailers and other special content related to the film franchise.

“At Fandango, we are always looking for innovative ways to super serve movie fans, when they are engaging with movie content so that they can easily act on their interest and purchase a ticket to the theater on the platforms and devices they use,” said Mark Young, SVP, head of business development and strategy at Fandango.

 

 

 

’13 Reasons Why’ Flying High Among Digital Originals, Parrot Analytics Says

With a 58% spike in demand, Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why” remained in the No. 1 spot on the digital originals chart for the week ended May 26, according to Parrot Analytics Demand Expressions data.

Season two of the teen drama – centered on the aftermath of a teenage girl’s suicide – debuted May 18, making this the first full week in which episodes are available.

The series’ number of Demand Expressions soared to nearly 68 million, more than any other TV show – digital original or regular broadcast – during the week.

In the week leading up to Memorial Day, there were few changes to the digital series demand chart. However, Netflix is releasing more than 80 new titles in June, and Parrot Analytics says it expects demand chart fluctuations in the weeks to come.

The popularity of season two of “13 Reasons Why,” like the popularity of season one, is fuelled by controversy.

The finale of season one, showing a teenage girl taking her own life, prompted schools to issue warnings to parents to monitor their children’s viewing.

For season two, Netflix aired a “cold open” before the first episode featuring cast members read the following disclaimer: “‘13 Reasons Why’ is a fictional series that tackles tough, real-world issues, taking a look at sexual assault, substance abuse, suicide, and more. By shedding a light on these difficult topics, we hope our show can help viewers start a conversation. But if you are struggling with these issues yourself, this series may not be right for you or you may want to watch it with a trusted adult. And if you ever feel you need someone to talk with, reach out to a parent, a friend, a school counselor, or an adult you trust, call a local helpline, or go to 13ReasonsWhy.info. Because the minute you start talking about it, it gets easier.”

Elsewhere in the top 5, demand for “Cobra Kai” slipped 15%, but the series – a sequel the 1984 movie “The Karate Kid” – remains at No. 2 on the digital originals chart.

Following Martin Kove’s appearance in the season one finale, the “Karate Kid” alum is joining the cast in season two.

Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” and Netflix’s “Arrested Development” remain at No. 3 and No. 4, respectively, while “Orange is the New Black” shot up to No. 5 from No. 10, bumping “Lost in Space” out of the top 10.

“Orange is the New Black” experienced a nearly 32% uptick in demand, as Digital Spy revealed details about the upcoming sixth season of the women prison drama.

Looking at the bottom half of the top 10 digital originals chart, Netflix’s “The Crown” experienced a significant (54%) rise in demand during the week, lifting it to No. 9 from No. 28 the prior week.

The historical drama picked up a supporting actress award at the BAFTA television awards on May 13.

Rounding out the top 10, Netflix’s “Stranger Things” has reappeared in the top 10, at No. 10, after an absence of several weeks.

Media Play News has teamed with Parrot Analytics to provide readers with a weekly top 10 of the most popular digital original TV series in the United States. Parrot Analytics uses a proprietary metric called Demand Expressions, which measures global demand for TV content through a wide variety of data sources, including video streaming, social media activity, photo sharing, blogging, commenting on fan and critic rating platforms, and downloading and streaming via peer-to-peer protocols and file sharing sites.

 

Sony Promotion Includes Limited Edition Blue PS4

Sony Interactive Entertainment is bringing back its Days of Play PlayStation promotion, offering deals June 8-18 at participating retailers across the United States and Canada, while supplies last.

The promotion includes a blue-with-gold-symbol Days of Play Limited Edition PS4 system for $299.99 ($379.99 Canadian) starting June 8. The console features a 1TB hard drive and comes with a matching DualShock 4 wireless controller.

Hardware and peripheral discounts throughout the 11 days include:

  • Jet Black PS4 Pro – $349.99 ($449.99 Canadian)
  • PlayStation VR bundles – starting at $199.99 ($249.99 Canadian)
  • DualShock 4 wireless controller (all colors) – $39.99 ($49.99 Canadian)
  • PlayStation Move motion controller (2 pack) – $79.99 ($99.99 Canadian)
  • PlayStation VR Aim controller (U.S. only) – $49.99

 

PS4 and PS VR title promotions include:

  • God of War: $49.99 ($59.99 Canadian)
  • Gran Turismo Sport: $19.99 ($29.99 Canadian)
  • Horizon Zero Dawn: $19.99 ($29.99 Canadian)
  • MLB The Show 18: $39.99 ($49.99 Canadian)
  • Shadow of the Colossus: $19.99 ($29.99 Canadian)
  • Bravo Team (PS VR): $29.99 ($39.99 Canadian)
  • Farpoint (PS VR): $14.99 ($19.99 Canadian)
  • The Inpatient (PS VR): $14.99 ($19.99 Canadian)

 

The PlayStation Store will be offering promotions on games and network service memberships, including:

  • PlayStation Plus – $49.99 ($59.99 Canadian) for a 12-month PS Plus membership
  • PlayStation Vue (available in the U.S. only) – $10 per month off the Core plan standard price for the first two months ($44.99 per month thereafter)
  • PlayStation Store catalog titles

No ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ for Roseanne

Years ago, the predecessor to Media Play News (Home Media Magazine) interviewed Roseanne Barr regarding a pending DVD release. Barr, who was long past the original “Roseanne” TV show at the time, was charming, witty (“I’m only talking to you for the money”) and bored.

“I sit around the house and watch a lot of TV,” she chuckled. “I like ‘Nancy Grace.’”

Unfortunately for Barr, boredom these days apparently includes wading into the social media abyss — and leaving common sense to others.

Which is what happened to the former standup comic this morning, resulting in a tirade of offensive tweets, including a racist post about a former Obama Administration official. All that was missing was a noose.

Not even Nancy Grace could (or would) save Barr from the swift blowback in the media and on social media condemning her comments. Comic Wanda Sykes, a writer on the “Roseanne” reboot on ABC quickly quit the show in protest.

Barr apologized for her tweets, adding she would be leaving Twitter for good.

Of course, no one should really be surprised considering Barr’s questionable public statements in the past, unrepentant support of President Trump, who launched his campaign on the back of bigotry, and politically incorrect tone in the new “Roseanne” show.

Barr’s comments are protected under the First Amendment, not unlike the Second Amendment affording gun rights to individuals who should never have access to a firearm.

Indeed, Harris Faulkner, a black female host on Fox News, defended Barr.

“I don’t understand it to be anything other than free speech,” Faulkner said.

Yes, but free speech is a slippery slope. Just because you can spout bigoted thoughts, doesn’t mean you should. Especially when you are in the public eye — and advertisers are footing the bill.

ABC wisely canceled “Roseanne,” despite the show’s top ratings in a media landscape under siege by over-the-top video.

“Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show,” Channing Dungey, entertainment chief at ABC, said in a statement.

Barr’s agent, ICM Partners, agreed, dumping her as a client.

“We are all greatly distressed by the disgraceful and unacceptable tweet from Roseanne Barr this morning,” ICM said in a statement, as reported by The Wrap. “What she wrote is antithetical to our core values, both as individuals and as an agency.”

Paramount Network, TV Land, CMT and Hulu dropped airing/streaming “Roseanne” re-runs. The show is still available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.

And thus, in a matter of hours, Barr went from TV’s biggest comeback story to social outcast, joining “Seinfeld” legend Michael Richards (Kramer) – whose 2006 racist outburst during a standup gig sent the actor’s career into extinction.

Maybe, Barr should start watching “Dr. Phil.”

Universal to Release ‘Tully’ on Digital July 17, Disc July 31

Tully, starring Charlize Theron, will come out on digital July 17 and on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and On Demand July 31 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

In the comedy from director Jason Reitman (JunoUp in the Air) and Oscar-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody (JunoYoung Adult), Theron plays a mother of three who finds a savior in the form of a night nanny (Mackenzie Davis) with whom she develops a special connection. The film also stars Mark Duplass (Safety Not GuaranteedTogetherness”) and Ron Livingston (The End of the TourOffice Space).

Bonus features on Blu-ray, DVD and digital include “The Relationships of Tully” featurette, in which the filmmakers and cast unravel how the characters grow throughout the events of the film.

The film is also available digitally on Movies Anywhere.

From Universal Pictures Home Entertainment: Tully (PRNewsfoto/Universal Pictures Home Enterta)

‘Rampage’ Stomping to Disc July 17, on Digital June 26

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release Rampage digitally June 26, followed by disc releases on Blu-ray, DVD, 3D Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray July 17.

Based on the popular arcade game, the action-adventure movie stars Dwayne Johnson as a primatologist who must confront the results of an experiment that has mutated animals into gigantic creatures that destroy everything in their path.

The film re-unites Johnson with director Brad Peyton, the pair having previously worked together on San Andreas and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.

The cast of Rampage also includes Naomie Harris, Malin Akerman, Jake Lacy, Joe Manganiello, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, P.J. Byrne, Marley Shelton, Breanne Hill, Jack Quaid, Matt Gerald, Jason Liles, Demetrius Grosse and Will Yun Lee.

The film has grossed $94.2 million at the domestic box office and more than $413 million worldwide.

The Blu-ray and DVD versions will include the featurette “Not A Game Anymore,” about how the Midway video game inspired the filmmakers.

The Blu-ray versions will also include deleted scenes, a gag reel and additional featurettes: “Rampage — Actors in Action,” about the stunts; “Trio of Destruction,” about the visual effects; “Attack on Chicago,” about filming in the city; and “Bringing George to Life,” about creating the film’s central gorilla character.

The 3D and 4K Blu-rays of Rampage will feature a Dolby Atmos soundtrack remixed specifically for home theater environments. The 4K Blu-ray also features Dolby Vision HDR.