F.Y.E. Q2 Fiscal Performance Undermined by Fidget Spinners

Trans World Entertainment Corp. Aug. 30 said its f.y.e. (For Your Entertainment) entertainment retail chain posted a second-quarter (ended Aug. 4) operating loss of $6.6 million, which was up 22% from an operating loss of $5.4 million during the previous-year period.

Revenue for one of the last nationwide chains primarily selling packaged media topped $50.5 million – down almost 15% from $58.9 million last year.

For the fiscal year through Aug.4, f.y.e. has upped its operating loss 22% to $12 million compared to an operating loss of $9.8 million last year. Revenue is down 15% to $104.6 million from $123.9 million.

Trans World attributed the Q2 decline in part to a 10.4% decline in total stores in operation (241 vs. 269) and a 6.7% decline in comparable store sales compared to the same quarter last year.

CEO Mike Feurer had another culprit for the revenue decline: fidget spinners. Toy gadgets comprised of a ball bearing in the center of a multi-lobed (typically two or three) flat structure made from metal or plastic designed to spin along its axis with little effort. Fidget spinners became popular in April 2017.

“Our sales results were impacted by tough comparisons due to the performance of fidget spinners, which represented 4% of sales in the second quarter of last year,” Feurer said in a statement.

Regardless, Feurer said efforts to change f.y.e.’s merchandise “point of view” from DVD, Blu-ray Disc movies, TV shows, video games and music CDs to “unique, relevant, collaborative and exclusive merchandise” has begun to yield results as sales improved Q2 throughout the quarter with July comp sales down just 0.7%.

Meanwhile, eTailz.com, the e-commerce platform Trans World Entertainment acquired in 2016 for $75 million, posted an operating loss of $2.7 million, compared to operating income of $98,000 last year. Revenue increased 18.6% to $51.6 million from $43.5 million.

 

 

Horror, Samurai, Western Films, ‘The Day of the Jackal’ Coming on Blu-ray in September From Arrow and MVD

Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment Group have seven titles slated for September.

From Arrow Academy come two films. On tap Sept. 4 on Blu-ray Disc is Tomu Uchida’s Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji (1955), a road adventure about a samurai and his two servants who go on an epic journey. Praised by Japanese film critics and much admired by contemporaries Akira Kurosawa and Yasujirô Ozu, Uchida nonetheless remains little-known in the West. Extras include a new audio commentary by Japanese cinema expert Jasper Sharp, recorded exclusively for this release; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Corey Brickley; and for the first pressing only, an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic and filmmaker James Oliver.

Also due Sept. 18 from Arrow Academy is the Peter Fonda directed Western The Hired Hand, which experienced a bit of a renaissance in 2001 thanks to a release from the Sundance Channel. The film stars Fonda alongside Warren Oates. Extras include audio commentary by actor-director Fonda; The Return of the Hired Hand, a 2003 documentary containing interviews with Fonda, cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, composer Bruce Langhorne, actor Verna Bloom and others; deleted scenes; The Odd Man, Charles Gormley and Bill Forsyth’s 1978 documentary portrait of Scottish screenwriters, including Alan Sharp; an interview with Martin Scorsese; an audio recording of Oates and Fonda at the National Film Theatre in 1971; a stills gallery; trailers; TV spots; radio spots; and a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sean Phillips.

The Arrow Video label features several horror titles starting with a new 4K restoration of Dario Argento’s horror masterpiece Deep Red, coming Sept. 4 on Blu-ray. Bonus features include audio commentary by filmmaker and Argento expert Thomas Rostock; an Introduction to the film by Claudio Simonetti of Goblin; a new visual essay by Michael Mackenzie featuring an in-depth appreciation of Deep Red; “Rosso Recollections: Dario Argento’s Deep Genius,” the Deep Red director on the creation of a giallo masterpiece; “The Lady in Red: Daria Nicolodi Remembers Profondo Rosso”; “Music to Murder For!,” Claudio Simonetti on Deep Red; “Profondo Rosso: From Celluloid to Shop,” a tour of the Profondo Rosso shop in Rome with longtime Argento collaborator Luigi Cozzi; the Italian theatrical trailer; and a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx.

Another horror entry, The Baby, comes out Sept. 25 on Blu-ray. It’s a strange look at an eccentric family and the social worker assigned to deal with them. Bonus features include “Down Will Come Baby,”  a new retrospective with film professor Rebekah McKendry; “Tales from the Crib,’ an audio interview with director Ted Post; “Baby Talk,” an audio Interview with star David Mooney; the theatrical trailer; and a new commentary by Travis Crawford.

Horrors of Malformed Men, due Sept. 18 on Blu-ray, is a Japanese horror film from 1969 about a medical student that is perfectly sane but somehow ends up in an asylum. Bonus features include two audio commentaries by Japanese cinema experts Tom Mes and Mark Schilling; “Malformed Movies,” a new video interview with Toei exploitation movie screenwriter Masahiro Kakefuda; “Malformed Memories,” in which filmmakers Shinya Tsukamoto (Tetsuo the Iron Man) and Minoru Kawasaki (The Calamari Wrestler) discuss the career of director Teruo Ishii; “Ishii in Italia,” in which Ishii and Schilling visit the Far East Film Festival; a poster gallery; a theatrical trailer; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Dan Mumford; and for the first pressing only,  a collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Jasper Sharp, Tom Mes and Grady Hendrix.

The Pyjama Girl Case, due Sept. 18 on Blu-ray, comes from director Flavio Mogherini and is the only giallo to take place in Australia. It follows the true story of an unsolved Australian murder about a young girl that turned up dead on the beach in distinctive pajamas. Bonus features include new audio commentary by Troy Howarth, author of So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films; a new video interview with author and critic Michael Mackenzie on the internationalism of the giallo; a new video interview with actor Howard Ross; a new video interview with editor Alberto Tagliavia; an archival interview with composer Riz Ortolani; an image gallery; the Italian theatrical trailer; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Chris Malbon; and for the first pressing only, a collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas.

Finally, coming Sept. 25 on Blu-ray is Fred Zinnemann’s classic The Day of the Jackal. Based on a novel by Frederick Forsyth, this political thriller was nominated for six BAFTA awards, winning for best editing, and earned an Oscar nod. Bonus features include a new interview with Neil Sinyard, author of Fred Zinnemann: Films of Character and Conscience; two rare archival clips from the film set, including an interview with Zinnemann; a theatrical trailer; the original screenplay by Kenneth Ross (BD-ROM content); a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Peter Strain; and for the first pressing only, an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Mark Cunliffe and Sheldon Hall.

LG Introduces ‘World’s First’ 8K OLED TV

LG Electronics is introducing the world’s first 8K (7680 x 4320) OLED TV, according to a company press release.

Previewed at IFA 2018, the 88-inch, 8K LG OLED TV features more than 33 million self-emitting pixels to produce the “unmatched contrast ratio and true blacks that define OLED TV’s iconic picture quality,” according to the release.

OLED TV shipments in the market are expected to double in 2018 and reach more than 9 million units by 2022, with the 8K TV market expected to grow to more than 5 million units by 2022, the release stated.

“LG’s first 8K OLED TV is the pinnacle of technological achievement and the next evolutionary step in display technology,” said Brian Kwon, president of LG Home Entertainment Company, in a statement. “4K OLED played a major role in reshaping the TV industry, and LG is confident that 8K OLED will do the same.”

Rotten Tomatoes Expands Pool of Critics

Rotten Tomatoes, the movie and TV show recommendation service, has debuted revamped critics criteria for its popular Tomatometer rating system to include more voices.

The entertainment review aggregator, the Tomatometer reflects the collective opinion of thousands of Tomatometer-approved critics. Each Tomatometer score represents the percentage of positive reviews for a given film or television show.

Rotten Tomatoes’ revamped criteria have an increased focus on the critic’s individual qualifications and body of work, rather than basing Tomatometer approval primarily on their publication or employer. This strategy will allow for a wider and more diverse pool of critics’ perspectives to be included in the Tomatometer, according to the company.

In addition, the criteria have expanded beyond the written review to include newer media platforms. Now individuals and outlets that produce reviews for podcasts and digital video series with a strong social media presence and audience engagement will be considered for the Tomatometer.  Recently, more than 200 new Tomatometer-approved critics have been added with many more to come, according to the company.

The criteria can be found on the Rotten Tomatoes site, along with an application to become a Tomatometer-approved critic.

“Over the past few years, our team has added hundreds of new voices to the Tomatometer on top of the thousands we currently have, with the goal of creating a critics pool that closely reflects the global entertainment audience,” said Jenny Jediny, Rotten Tomatoes critics relations manager, in a statement. “We took another key step today by revamping our critics criteria that both shifts our focus to approving critics individually rather than through publications, and introduces updated guidelines for newer media platforms to be a part of the Tomatometer.”

To help critics gain access to key film festivals, Rotten Tomatoes has established a $100,000 grant program. Over the next year, Rotten Tomatoes will provide grants to non-profit organizations that help critics with costly expenses associated with festival attendance. The first grant of $25,000 will go to the Toronto International Film Festival’s Media Inclusion Initiative, which will help the organization bring almost 200 new journalists serving underrepresented groups to the Festival, running Sept. 6-16.

“Rotten Tomatoes plays an important role in connecting fans with trusted information and recommendations on what to watch in theaters and at home,” said Paul Yanover, president of Fandango, Rotten Tomatoes’ parent company, in a statement. “Advancing inclusion in criticism continues to be a priority for Rotten Tomatoes and we plan to expand our work with media outlets that hire critics, film festivals and other groups, so as an industry we can better serve consumers.”

New critics will be spotlighted on the Tomatometer Critics home page.  Rotten Tomatoes plans to introduce more new product features over the next year, the company announced.

DC Universe SVOD Service Bowing ‘DC Daily’ News Show

WarnerMedia’s pending subscription streaming video service DC Universe is launching a news show dubbed “DC Daily,” which bows Aug. 29 at 4:30pm PT and is hosted by director Kevin Smith.

The show’s debut will be live-streamed at FacebookTwitch and YouTube.The DC Universe SVOD platform is officially launching Sept. 15, and costs $7.99 monthly or $74.99 annually.

DC Daily pledges to offer DC Universe subscribers an added depth of news content that ties back to the original series, comics and community on the service.

The show will be hosted by a variety of faces familiar to DC fans, with special guests and other co-hosts joining as well. Currently, theformat is scheduled to include ‘Headlines,’ a run-down of daily news briefs; ‘Reports,’ a single-topic segment that may feature an in-depth interview or deep dive into an upcoming book, film or series; and ‘Talk,’ a panel discussion including in-depth analysis about today’s hottest topics and news, which will be available only to DC Universe subscribers.

DC Daily will be filmed and streamed daily from a 2,100 square foot set built especially for the show at a Warner Bros. Digital Networks studio location in Burbank, Calif. The custom-designed sets include original large-format panel artwork of iconic DC characters, as well as plenty of conversational seating, demonstration stations and stand-up viewing areas for hosts, guest commentators and special guests.

 

Facebook Watch Video Service Expands Globally

Facebook Watch, the social media behemoth’s streaming video platform launched a year ago, is expanding worldwide. The platform will be available to Facebook users globally beginning Aug. 30.

The move comes more than two years after Netflix launched globally, and Amazon followed expanding Prime Video to 200 countries in December 2016.

“This is a really important moment for us,” Fidji Simo, head of video at Facebook, said in a statement. “It’s been a year of real progress for Watch. Every month, more than 50 million people in the U.S. come to Watch, and the total time spent has increased 14 times since the start of 2018.”

Maybe, but according to recent data from The Diffusion Group, more than 50% of Facebook users don’t know what Watch is. And fewer still use it. A noteworthy statistic considering Facebook is spending upwards of $1-2 billion on original content for the platform.

Content includes access to select professional soccer and Major League Baseball games, “SKAM Austin,” an episodic teen drama series, based on the Norwegian Web series “Skam,” and “Red Table Talk,” a talk show starring Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith, and Adrienne Banfield-Norris that premiered on May 7 and reportedly has nearly 3 million viewers.

Matthew Henick, head of content planning and strategy and media partnerships at Facebook, said worldwide access to Watch would help third-party publishers and content creators better monetize their videos and better understand how their content is performing.

“[We’re] excited to bring a new distribution platform to our partners around the world,” he said.

 

IHS: Amazon Device Owners Consume More Prime Video

The adage, “When in Rome …,” appears to apply to owners of Amazon media devices such as Kindle, Echo and Fire TV more than among other streaming device ecosystems.

New data from IHS Markit found that more than two-thirds of Fire TV owners subscribed to Prime Video in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2018 — a higher penetration than for any other connected streaming device, including Roku, Apple TV and Google Chromecast.

This noteworthy as brand loyalty is especially important in video, because entry prices for streaming devices are relatively low, and all of them offer somewhat uniform content offerings, so consumers have a wide range of choices.

While Apple changed the music landscape by tying its transactional music service to hardware more than a decade ago, it is now hard to lock consumers into one content ecosystem.

Consumers expect flexibility and the ability to access their content across devices, so building a fluid ecosystem ensures higher brand loyalty and trust, resulting in increased usage of devices and services and the likelihood of future purchases.

Indeed, Fire TV owners are also more likely to select Prime Video as the “best video service for content on the go” and “flexibility of viewing.” More than 25% of Prime Video subscribers believe Amazon provides the largest content catalog.

They are also twice as likely to turn to Prime Video first when looking for video content to watch.

The findings are part of IHS’ “Connected Devices and Media Consumption” survey conducted in April.

The data would appear to highlight the importance of a proprietary device and user interface that allows consumers to gain access to a wide range of content services, while enabling the device manufacturer to control the user experience.

The value-added benefits of offering streaming devices and video services, in terms of perception and usage along with the ability to maintain their direct-to-consumer relationships and interfaces, has driven other operators and device manufacturers to follow Amazon’s lead, according to IHS.

Fire TV was one of the top sellers in Amazon’s Prime Day in July, and there are rumors of an upcoming user experience update, which is likely to result in improved consumer engagement with Prime Video.

Screen Media Signs Distribution Deal with Comedy Dynamics

Screen Media Films has signed a first-look deal to distribute content from Comedy Dynamics on DVD and Blu-ray in the United States.

Among the first titles slated under the new agreement are two stand-up comedy specials: Jim Gaffigan: Noble Ape and Kevin Smith: Silent But Deadly are scheduled to arrive on DVD and Blu-ray later in 2018.

In 2019 and beyond, Screen Media will annually release Comedy Dynamics’ comedy specials, feature films and TV shows, such as “The Toys That Made Us,” an eight-part documentary series that can currently be seen on Netflix about the history of iconic toy brands.

“Screen Media Films is very excited to work with and distribute Comedy Dynamics titles,”  said Laura Giampino, VP of sales at Screen Media Films. “Their properties are second to none and we are thrilled to bring these top-of-line features and stand-up specials to market. Our market base is still hungry for this type of physical product and it’s a win/win for both of our companies.”

“Partnering with Screen Media to release our content is symbiotic for so many reasons,” said Brian Volk-Weiss, CEO of Comedy Dynamics. “We are more than ecstatic to have them as an integral part of our company and its journey.”

‘Avengers: Infinity War,’ ‘Deadpool 2’ Top Redbox Disc Rental, Digital Charts

Walt Disney’s Avengers: Infinity War shot up to No. 1 on the Redbox’s kiosk rental chart, which tracks DVD and Blu-ray Disc rentals, for the week ended Aug. 27.

The superhero film, the year’s No. 2 box office hit, debuted on the kiosk chart the previous week at No. 3. Disney and Redbox are embroiled in litigation over Redbox’s sale of digital copy codes; the studio is the only one that won’t sell DVDs or Blu-ray Discs directly to Redbox, forcing the company to buy copies at retail.

On the Redbox On Demand chart, which tracks digital purchases (EST) and rentals (TVOD), the No. 1 spot went to 20th Century Fox’s superhero spoof Deadpool 2.

Digital copies of Avengers: Infinity War are still not available through the Redbox On Demand website.

The Melissa McCarthy comedy Life of the Party, from Warner Bros., is the No. 2 movie on both Redbox charts, after having spent the previous two weeks at No. 1. The film earned just under $53 million in U.S. theaters.

On the kiosk chart, Universal Pictures’ Breaking In slipped to No. 3 from No. 2. The revenge thriller, about a mother (Gabrielle Union) who must protect her children after the mansion of her recently deceased father is invaded by a quartet of burglars, earned $46.5 million in U.S. theaters.

On the digital chart, the No. 3 spot went to Lionsgate’s Overboard remake, unchanged from the prior week. Ready Player One, from Warner Bros., moved back up a notch to No. 5, replaced in that position by Breaking In.

On the kiosk chart, Overboard slipped one spot to No. 4.

Universal Pictures’ newly released Show Dogs debuted at No. 5 on the disc rental chart and No. 9 on the Redbox On Demand digital chart. Show Dogs, a buddy cop family film about a Rottweiler police dog and his human partner going undercover at a dog show to crack an animal smuggling ring, earned $37 million in U.S. theaters.

Two other new releases also debuted in the top 10 on the Redbox disc rental chart: Lionsgate’s Bleeding Steel at No. 8 and Paramount’s Action Point at No. 10.

Bleeding Steel, which stars Jackie Chan, is a 2017 Chinese  cyberpunk actioner directed and written by Leo Zhang

Action Point is Johnny Knoxville’s latest “Jackass” film and is filled with the obligatory stunts. The R-rated comedy tanked at the box office and posted the worst opening of Knoxville’s career.

 

Top DVD and Blu-ray Disc Rentals, Redbox Kiosks, Week Ending August 27

  1. Avengers: Infinity War
  2. Life of the Party
  3. Breaking In
  4. Overboard (2018)
  5. Show Dogs (new)
  6. Rampage
  7. Bleeding Steel (new)
  8. Ready Player One
  9. I Feel Pretty
  10. Action Point (new)

 

Top Digital, Redbox On Demand, Week Ending August 27

  1. Deadpool 2 (new)
  2. Life of the Party
  3. Overboard (2018)
  4. Ready Player One
  5. Breaking In
  6. I Feel Pretty
  7. Rampage
  8. A Quiet Place
  9. Show Dogs (new)
  10. Blockers

 

Visit the Redbox website.

Buy or rent Redbox On Demand movies.

Barnes & Noble Reveals Why Its Former CEO Was Fired

Barnes & Noble Aug. 28 issued a statement disclosing why it fired CEO Demos Parneros for cause on July 3 after 16 months on the job.

In a statement from the bookseller’s board in response to a wrongful termination lawsuit brought by Parneros, the company said the suit was “nothing but an attempt to extort money by a CEO who was terminated for sexual harassment, bullying behavior and [violating] other company policies.”

The board said that after advisement from its lawyers, it “unanimously terminated” Parneros’ employment in July following a “thorough investigation” that revealed “multiple examples” of significant misconduct.

Former Barnes & Noble CEO Demos Parneros

“Mr. Parneros not only violated his employment agreement, but also compromised the trust and respect that we strive to foster throughout our organization,” said the board. “Instead of accepting responsibility for blatantly inappropriate behavior, [Parneros] is lashing out against a former employer.”

In his complaint, Parneros alleges he was to meet with B&N chairman and founder Leonard Riggio about selling the company the day before he was fired. Instead of discussing a possible sale of the fiscally-challenged retailer, Parneros says Riggio told him he was being fired.

Parneros denies any wrongdoing.

Barnes & Noble, in its statement, made no mention of a possible sale. Instead, it reiterated that Parneros’ actions were unacceptable and not representative of the “high standards” by which Barnes & Noble operates.

“At Barnes & Noble, we are committed to providing an inclusive, welcoming, respectful and safe workplace,” said the board.