‘Black Panther’ Tops DVD and Blu-ray Sales for May

Marvel Studios’ Black Panther was the top title for the month of May in terms of combined Blu-ray Disc and DVD units sold according to the NPD Group’s VideoScan tracking.

Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, Black Panther was released on disc May 15 and spent its first three weeks atop the weekly VideoScan sales charts.

Universal’s Fifty Shades Freed, released a week earlier on May 8, finished the month as the No. 2 seller. The top seller from April, 20th Century Fox’s The Greatest Showman, dropped to No. 3.

The strong debut of Black Panther gives Disney the top four spots on the year-to-date disc sales chart through the end of May, with Star Wars: The Last Jedi maintaining the lead it took the previous month.

Pixar’s Coco is No. 2, followed by Marvel’s Thor: Ragarnok at No. 3 and Black Panther at No. 4.

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

  1. Black Panther (Disney)
  2. Fifty Shades Freed (Universal)
  3. The Greatest Showman (Fox)
  4. Peter Rabbit (Sony Pictures)
  5. Red Sparrow (Fox)
  6. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Disney)
  7. 12 Strong (Warner)
  8. Thor: Ragnarok (Disney)
  9. Game Night (Warner)
  10. Batman Ninja (Warner)

 

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

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

 

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

Warner Bringing Season 11 of ‘Big Bang Theory’ to Disc Sept. 11

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Eleventh Season on Blu-ray and DVD Sept. 11.

The two-disc sets will include all 24 episodes plus a gag reel and three behind-the-scenes featurettes: “The Maturation Imperative,” “The Big Bang Theory: The Blueprint of Comedy” and “A BBT History of Time.”

The Blu-ray will also include video from the show’s panel at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con International.

Apple Inks Content Deal With Oprah Winfrey

Apple June 15 unveiled a multi-year content partnership with Oprah Winfrey, “the esteemed producer, actress, talk show host, philanthropist and CEO of OWN,” the tech giant announced.

Winfrey and Apple will create original programs that “embrace her incomparable ability to connect with audiences around the world,” according to Apple.

Winfrey’s projects will be released as part of a lineup of original content from Apple.

Demand Rises for ‘Sense8,’ ‘Handmaid’s Tale,’ ‘Kimmy Schmidt’

The airing of the series finale episode of “Sense8” gave the Netflix science-fiction drama  a 43% increase in demand for the week ended June 9, moving it up a notch on the digital originals chart to No. 6, according to Parrot Analytics Demand Expressions data.

The controversial teen drama series “13 Reasons Why,” also on Netflix, remains No. 1 on the digital originals chart, although demand for the series – season two is now out – slipped 10% from the prior week.

Rising up to No. 2 was Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” despite a slight drop in demand of less than 5%.

The dystopian series displaced YouTube’s “Cobra Kai” from the second spot, which with a nearly 23% drop in demand slid down the digital originals chart to No. 5.

The first half of Season 4 of the web sitcom “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” premiered on Netflix May 30 and led to a 30% uptick in demand – and a jump on the digital originals chart to No. 7 from No. 11 the prior week.

The second half of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” is expected to debut January 25, 2019.

“Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia,” a computer-animated fantasy television series created for Netflix by Guillermo del Toro and produced by DreamWorks Animation, slipped to No. 8 on the digital originals chart from No. 6 the prior week, after a 9% drop in demand.

The series entered the top 10 the prior week on the heels of the May 25 debut of Season 3, which led to an an 87% spike in demand.

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.

AT&T Boss Sends Mixed Messages Following Time Warner Acquisition Close

NEWS ANALYSIS — Following consummation of AT&T’s $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson sent out a staff memo welcoming Time Warner — which includes Warner Bros., Turner and HBO — to the fold.

“As different as our businesses are, I think you’ll find we have a lot in common,” Stephenson said, adding, “We’re big fans of your talent and creativity. And you have my word that you will continue to have the creative freedom and resources to keep doing what you do best.”

Commonality is always a slippery slope in corporate mergers. Shared interests often translate into operational redundancies that require fiscal cutbacks and eliminated positions.

AT&T projects $1.5 billion in annualized cost “synergies” by end of the third year of the acquisition.

Indeed, in a separate statement, AT&T said Time Warner would be folded into the telecom’s media business segment headed by John Stankey, with a new brand name to be announced.

As previously reported, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes will continue for a limited time as a senior advisor during the transition. All of Bewkes’ direct reports now answer to Stankey, which include Kevin Tsujihara, CEO of Warner Bros., John Martin, CEO of Turner, and Richard Plepler, CEO of HBO.

“We’re going to bring a fresh approach to how the media and entertainment industry works for consumers, content creators, distributors and advertisers,” said Stephenson.

How that “fresh” approach works out for Warner remains to be seen.

Tsujihara, in May, initiated a string of management changes that included the promotion of Jim Wuthrich to president of worldwide home entertainment and games. Wuthrich reports to Ron Sanders, president of worldwide theatrical distribution and home entertainment.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment reported a near 6% increase in fiscal 2017 revenue to $1.56 billion from physical and digital sales of movies — up from $1.48 billion in 2016. Sales of TV content on disc and digital declined 11% to $418 million from $470 million.

The Quarter-Billion-Dollar Spat

In the corporate annals of executive buyouts, few are as crazy as Metro Goldwyn Mayer’s (MGM) decision to purchase the equity stake of fired CEO Gary Barber for $260 million.

That’s on top of the $15.4 million golden parachute Barber got after unexpectedly getting the axe in March – just five months after privately-held MGM extended his employment contract through 2020.

Media reports suggest there had been friction between Barber and Kevin Ulrich, the boss at investment group Anchorage Capital — MGM’s largest investor — over the future of the studio.

Apparently, it was a quarter-of-a-billion-dollar rift.

Indeed, as part of the buyout — which involved MGM tapping into its credit facility — Barber agreed to customary “standstill provisions” that prohibit him from competing directly on MGM-related matters for a three-year period.

If Barber, who, since his ouster, had reportedly been trying to line up creditors to acquire MGM, was such a threat, why not keep him on the payroll?

Barber, together with Roger Birnbaum, helped MGM Studios emerge out of bankruptcy in 2010 through the usual cost-cutting restructuring taken by companies under Chapter 11 protection or in M&A crosshairs.

The executive in 2017 spearheaded complete ownership of premium TV network Epix from partners Lionsgate, Viacom and Paramount Pictures. Barber revitalized the “James Bond” franchise with box office hits Skyfall and Spectre. The next installment — Bond 25 — is slated for release in 2019.

Barber hired reality TV whiz Mark Burnett (“The Voice,” “Survivor,” “Shark Tank”) as president of the TV group and digital.

In home entertainment, Barber distributed MGM’s vaunted catalog and new releases to the highest bidder, with 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment winning rights to SpectreSkyfall, Death WishEvery Day, RoboCop, Poltergeist, “Vikings,” “Get Shorty,” “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Teen Wolf,” among others. The Fox agreement expires June 30, 2020.

Notably, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment will distribute Bond 25 in packaged media thereafter. The studio’s parent, Comcast recently inked a direct-access deal with Epix for its cable operations.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment distributes the “Jump Street” franchise and The Magnificent Seven, while Warner Bros. Home Entertainment distributes the “Hobbit” trilogy, CreedMaxMe Before You, Tomb Raider and Everything, Everything.

Paramount Home Media Distribution has DVD/Blu-ray rights to Sherlock Gnomes and Ben-Hur.

Regardless, home entertainment revenue in 2017 dropped 55% to $91.9 million from $206.5 million in 2016.

Hardly enough to pay off Barber.

‘Wrinkle in Time’ Bumps ‘Black Panther’ From Top of Disc Sales Charts

After three weeks in the top spot, Marvel’s Black Panther was overtaken on the national home video sales charts by another Walt Disney Studios release, A Wrinkle in Time, the week ended June 9.

A family fantasy based on the popular novel of the same name, A Wrinkle in Time debuted at No. 1 on the NPD VideoScan First Alert chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales, and the dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart, following an underwhelming domestic box office run that brought in $98 million.

Black Panther slipped to No. 2 on both charts, selling about two-thirds as many discs in its fourth week as Wrinkle sold in its first.

Debuting at No. 3 on both charts was director Eli Roth’s remake of Death Wish, with Bruce Willis starring as the man who seeks revenge on street crime after his family is brutalized during a robbery. The film earned $34 million at the domestic box office.

Landing at No. 4 on the overall chart, and No. 7 on the Blu-ray chart, was another newcomer, Lionsgate’s The Hurricane Heist, an action thriller about a group of thieves attempting a bank robbery during a category five hurricane. The film earned just over $6 million in U.S. theaters.

Rounding out the top five overall, in its ninth week on shelves, was 20th Century Fox’s The Greatest Showman, which was the No. 6 Blu-ray.

On the Blu-ray chart, No. 4 went to Disney’s new “Signature Collection” Blu-ray re-release of the 1953 animated classic Peter Pan, followed at No. 5 by Paramount’s Annihilation.

Anticipation for the theatrical release of its sequel drove Disney’s The Incredibles back into the top 20, aided by a newly released 4K UHD Blu-ray edition of the 2004 animated superhero film. It rose back to No. 12 overall and No. 11 on the Blu-ray chart, with 44% of its total sales attributed to the new UHD Blu-ray edition.

Blu-ray Disc accounted for 71% of Wrinkle in Time first-week unit sales, with 4% of its total coming from 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. Death Wish saw 58% of its tally come from Blu-ray, while Hurricane Heist had 46% of its total come from Blu-ray and 7% from the 4K disc format.

On the Media Play News rental chart for the week ended June 10, Death Wish took over the top spot, bumping Warner’s Game Night to No. 2.

Black Panther slipped to No. 3, with Fox’s Red Sparrow at No. 4 and Hurricane Heist debuting at No. 5.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 06-09-18
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 06-10-18
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 06-09-18
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 06-02-18

Comcast, Activision Team for ‘Call of Duty’ Multiplayer Early-Play Promotion

Comcast and Activision are partnering to provide gamers with a chance to play the Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 multiplayer before its official release Oct. 12.

Xfinity and Activision made the announcement at the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles.

Starting June 14 and continuing through the end of August, people online can enter a sweepstakes for a chance to play Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 multiplayer at select Xfinity stores in Washington D.C., Boston, Philadelphia, Houston, Seattle, Chicago, Indianapolis and Atlanta.

“This year, Xfinity has elevated the consumer experience by offering Call of Duty fans a chance to play Black Ops 4 through the Xfinity store sweepstakes before its official release on Oct. 12,” said Tyler Michaud, VP, product management at Activision, in a statement. “Gamers will get a sneak peek at the engaging gameplay and depth of content that makes Black Ops 4 a blast to play together with your friends, and we thank Xfinity for the continued support in celebrating gamers throughout the U.S.”

In each location, Xfinity plans special events. For instance, professional basketball player Gordon Hayward (Boston Celtics) will join players at the new Cambridge Xfinity store event in Boston, where he will play Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 alongside the city’s sweepstakes winners. Hayward will also partner with Xfinity on other gaming and esports initiatives throughout the year.

“Fast internet is a must-have for every gamer and as a longtime Xfinity customer, I can vouch for the speed and seamless gameplay it delivers,” said Hayward in a statement. “I’m excited to team up with Xfinity to bring early access of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 to fans and I can’t wait to join my fellow gamers in Boston.”

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is part of a top-selling series that’s had more than 200 million players and more than 15 billion hours played, according to the companies.

“Multiplayer features gritty, grounded combat, along with new levels of customization and tactical gameplay, and a variety of new weaponry, maps and modes,” according to a press release. “’While Zombies’ mode debuts an entirely new and unprecedented experience that’s the biggest Day One offering in franchise history — with three fully-featured Zombies experiences at launch. Black Ops 4 also delivers Blackout – the new battle royale-style experience that combines Black Ops’ signature fast, fluid, guns-up combat, with fierce new levels of survival competition across iconic Black Ops settings re-imagined at a colossal scale in an experience that only Black Ops could deliver.”

“We’re excited to partner with Activision and Call of Duty in an even bigger way for fans this year,” said Todd Arata, SVP of brand marketing at Comcast, in a statement. “Xfinity is proud to offer our Internet customers this special opportunity to get in early and play what is no doubt one of the world’s most anticipated video games of the year, plus it reinforces our Internet speed and capabilities that maximize the gaming experience.”

For official rules and regulations, as well as a complete list of locations, visit xfinity.com/CallofDuty. Dates for the promotion vary by location.

This marks the second consecutive year Xfinity has partnered with Activision to provide its Internet customers with early access to one of the world’s best-selling video game franchises.

Melissa McCarthy Comedy ‘Life of the Party’ Due on Digital July 24, Disc Aug. 7 from Warner

Life of the Party, starring Melissa McCarthy as a divorced mom who goes back to college, arrives on digital (including Movies Anywhere) July 24 and Blu-ray combo pack and DVD Aug. 7 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

On Aug. 7, Life of the Party will also be made available digitally on VOD services from cable and satellite providers, and on select gaming consoles.

When her husband suddenly dumps her, longtime dedicated housewife Deanna (McCarthy) turns regret into reset by going back to college, landing in the same class and school as her daughter, who’s not entirely sold on the idea.

The film also stars Gillian Jacobs (Don’t Think Twice, “Love,” “Community”), Maya Rudolph (Bridesmaids, Sisters), Julie Bowen (“Modern Family”), Matt Walsh (“Veep,” Ghostbusters), Molly Gordon (Love the Coopers, “Animal Kingdom”), Stephen Root (Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates), Oscar nominee Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook, “Animal Kingdom”), Jessie Ennis (“Better Call Saul”), Adria Arjona (“True Detective,” “Emerald City”), Debby Ryan (“Jessie”) and Jimmy O. Yang (“Silicon Valley”). McCarthy and director Ben Falcone co-wrote the screenplay and produced through their production company On the Day Production.

Life of the Party will be available on Blu-ray combo pack at $35.99 (with DVD and digital) and DVD at $28.98.

Special features on the Blu-ray combo pack include “’80s Party,” “Mom Sandwich,” “ Line-O-Rama,” “Bill Hate-O-Rama,” a gag reel and deleted scenes. Special features on the DVD include “’80s Party.”

Bram Stoker’s ‘Shadowbuilder’ Due on Blu-ray for First Time Aug. 28 From MVD

MVD Entertainment Group will release the Bram Stoker horror story Shadowbuilder for the first time on Blu-ray Aug. 28 as part of its MVD Rewind collection.

Shadowbuilder front cover

In the film, a demon is summoned to take the soul of a young boy, who has the potential to become a saint. If the demon succeeds, it will open a doorway to hell, blazing a terrifying trail of destruction, possession and mayhem and destroying humanity. The fate of the world hinges on the final outcome of a renegade priest’s battle with the soul-eating Shadowbuilder.

The cast that includes Michael Rooker (Guardians of the Galaxy), Leslie Hope (Crimson Peak), Kevin Zegers (Dawn of the Dead) and Tony Todd (Candyman).

Shadowbuilder reversible cover art

Bonus materials include the original 2.0 stereo audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray); audio commentary from director Jamie Dixon; a new “Making of Shadowbuilder” featurette with director Jamie Dixon, writer Michael Stokes, and stars Andrew Jackson (The Shadowbuilder) and Todd (Covey); a new “Shadowbuilder: Visual Effects” featurette; a new “Shadowbuilder: Kevin Zegers” featurette; reversible, two-sided artwork; Spanish subtitles; the original theatrical trailer; and a collectible poster.