‘A Star Is Born’ Shines on Home Video Charts

In a big week for music-heavy movies, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment’s Blu-ray and DVD release of the latest remake of A Star Is Born topped the national home video sales charts the week ended Feb. 23.

The story, involving an older star discovering and falling in love with an up-and-coming starlet, was previously filmed in 1937, 1954 and 1976. The fourth Hollywood version , this time starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper (who also directed), earned $211 million at the domestic box office and just won an Oscar for the song “Shallow.”

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The previous week’s top seller, 20th Century Fox’s Bohemian Rhapsody, dropped to No. 2 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.

Bohemian Rhapsody picked up four Oscars, including Best Actor for Rami Malek as Queen frontman Freddie Mercury. It sold about 52% as many copies in its second week as A Star Is Born sold in its first.

Debuting at No. 3 on both charts was another remake, Lionsgate’s Robin Hood. The critically derided retelling of the classic story — which stars  Taron Egerton as Robin Hood, Jamie Foxx as Little John and Ben Mendelsohn as the Sheriff of Nottingham — earned just $30.8 million at the domestic box office.

Universal Pictures’ animated The Grinch landed at No. 4 on the overall sales chart and No. 5 on the Blu-ray chart, down from the second spot on both a week earlier.

Another newcomer, Paramount’s Overlord, took No. 5 on the overall chart and No. 4 on the Blu-ray chart. The World War II-based horror film earned $21.7 million in U.S. theaters.

Blu-ray Disc accounted for 53% of first-week Star Is Born sales, with 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray accounting for 8% of its sales. By contrast, Robin Hood had 61% of its sales from Blu-ray, with 12% from UHD BD, while Overlord had 72% from Blu-ray and 18% from UHD BD.

On the Media Play News rental chart for the week ended Feb. 24, A Star Is Born debuted at No. 1, followed by Bohemian Rhapsody at No. 2 and Robin Hood at No. 3.

Rounding out the top five rentals were Paramount’s Nobody’s Fool at No. 4 and Overlord at No. 5.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 2-23-19
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 2-24-19
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 2-23-19
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 2-23-19
Sales Report for Week Ended 2-23-19
Digital Sales Snapshot for Week Ended 2-25-19


Oscar Foreign Language Entry ‘Burning’ and Horror Film ‘Accident’ Coming to Disc from Well Go in March

Burning, South Korea’s official entry for Best Foreign Language Film for the 91st Academy Awards, and the horror film Accident are coming on disc from Well Go USA Entertainment in March.

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Due on Blu-ray combo pack and DVD March 5 is Burning, based on the short story “Barn Burning” by Haruki Murakami. The psychological tale of all-consuming jealousy follows the story of three individuals, an alienated young man, Jongsu (Ah-in Yoo); Haemi (newcomer Jong-seo Jun), a spirited woman who offers romantic possibilities; and Ben (Steven Yeun, “The Walking Dead”), a wealthy and sophisticated young man who returns with her from a recent trip. When Jongsu learns of Ben’s mysterious hobby and Haemi suddenly disappears, his confusion and obsessions begin to mount, culminating in a stunning finale. Special features include the behind-the-scenes featurette “About the Characters.”

Due March 19 on Blu-ray is the horror film Accident, the first feature-length film from writer-director Dan Tondowski. Stephanie Shield (Death Race 2), Roxane Hayward (Death Race: Inferno), Tyrone Keogh (Starship Troopers 3: Marauder) and Keenan Arrison (upcoming Tomb Raider) star in this thriller about a group of teenagers trapped at the bottom of a ravine with a psycho out to kill them. When a foursome “borrows” a car for a night of fun, what starts as a wild joy ride turns into a nightmare. After a violent crash, they discover that being stuck at the bottom of a ravine in an overturned car is the least of their problems. The psychotic owner of the car that they stole has them in his crosshairs and will stop at nothing to get both the car and its contents back.

HBO Boss Richard Plepler Departs

Longtime HBO executive Richard Plepler is leaving the pay-TV channel, following a series of management changes underway at WarnerMedia that reportedly include bringing in former NBC Universal executive Bob Greenblatt as a senior executive reporting to CEO John Stankey.

Plepler, who joined HBO in 1992, helped greenlight myriad hits for the platform, including “Game of Thrones,” “True Detective,” “Veep” and “True Blood.” He also oversaw the launch of HBO Now, the standalone subscription streaming service.

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“Hard as it is to think about leaving the company I love, and the people I love in it, it is the right time for me to do so,” Plepler wrote in a memo to staff as reported by Variety. “In the past weeks, I’ve thought a lot about the incredible journey of this company in the nearly 28 years that I have been blessed to be here. It’s a journey of great pride and accomplishment because so many of you, and many others before us, have made HBO a cultural and business phenomenon.”

Plepler’s departure comes 48 hours after a federal appeals court upheld AT&T’s $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner. It also comes a day after AT&T CFO John Stephens told an investor group that the telecom’s senior management did not wish to upend the culture at the entertainment unit that includes HBO, Warner Bros. and Turner with further personnel changes.

“They [had] a CFO [Howard Averill] and we have a CFO. Those kinds of head-counting synergies have been achieved,” Stephens said.

Of course, the handwriting was on the wall ever since AT&T first closed the acquisition last summer. Stankey, in a town hall meeting with employees and Plepler, strongly intimated that the status quo at HBO would not continue.

The executive said he sought to make HBO programming habitual in a market driven by portable devices that capture consumer attention “every 15 minutes.”

“It’s going to be a tough year,” Stankey said at the time. “It’s going to be a lot of work to alter and change direction a little bit.”


Subscription Streaming Driving Waves of Change in Entertainment Market, Speakers Say

LOS ANGELES — The enormous cachet and power of subscription streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon — and the proliferation of like services — are major drivers in entertainment market disruption and are giving content creators increased clout.

That was the opinion of speakers at the Entertainment Finance Forum presented by Winston Baker Feb. 27.

“It’s never been a better time to be a content creator,” said Michael Lee, CFO, Perfect World Pictures (USA), but he added for his company it’s also “getting incredibly more difficult to greenlight a film” with all the competing entertainment outlets. That means the company must get more involved in getting closer to and helping film creators.

“It is very scary for us that are still part of the establishment,” added Ron Hohauser, CFO, Legendary.

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While subscription streaming is the future, he noted adding up all of the charges for the different services can amount to “a car payment.”

With the proliferation of subscription services “your car payment goes from a Prius to a Porsche,” Lee added. “Consumers aren’t going to want to have 32 subscriptions.”

What is developing is “a content bubble that’s going to be paid for by a lot of investors,” Hohauser said.

For the time being, capital from the American stock market that funds the big streamers “makes them formidable competitors,” said Eric Briggs, CFO and chief strategy officer at media company Macro, adding “they can buy whatever they want.”

But that, too, could change.

“I do think investor-funded content creation will come to an end at some point,” added Ambereen Toubassy, CFO at Quibi, a short-form content subscription entertainment company backed by Jeffrey Katzenberg. “Content will need to be economically feasible.”

“Chasing Netflix is a lose proposition,” noted Adrienne Becker, CEO of Level Forward, which backs projects driven by women and people of color. She supports concentrating on serving underserved communities with content.

On the content side, Toubassy added there are ripe opportunities in the short-form arena, which Quibi plans to mine when it launches as a subscription service to consumers in 2020.

“The reason we’re so excited about the short form video market … is it’s a huge market,” she said, citing YouTube’s 1.9 billion users.

Quibi plans to bring premium content to those short-form content viewers used to settling for grainy, underproduced YouTube fare. That includes everything from scripted storytelling in 10-minute chapters to tell a two-hour story to “quick bites” of reality programming, documentaries or content from young, lesser known filmmakers to “daily essentials [that are] meant to be habit-forming news programming,” she said.

Indeed, content must become more premium to succeed, noted Adhrucia Apana, an executive with Creative Wealth Media, as the entry of so many subscription players has raised the bar for all entertainment companies.

“No longer can you make Dude, Where’s My Car? and expect that to be a blockbuster,” she said. “You’re seeing the bar on all of those platforms go up.”

Mill Creek May 2019 Slate Includes ‘Eyes of Laura Mars’ Blu-ray

Mill Creek Entertainment’s slate of home video releases for May 2019 includes Blu-rays for films such as Eyes of Laura Mars, Anaconda and Ghosts of Mars, plus ‘Aladdin’ and ‘Robin Hood’ tie-in DVDs.

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Among the titles due May 14:

  • Eyes of Laura Mars Blu-ray — Faye Dunaway stars in this 1978 film as a controversial fashion photographer who has a premonition about people she knows being murdered, drawing the attention of a police detective played by Tommy Lee Jones.


  • Anaconda Blu-ray/DVD combo — A 1997 thriller starring Jennifer Lopez, Eric Stoltz and Jon Voight as a documentary film crew searching the Amazon River for a mysterious tribe and encountering a giant snake. The cast also includes Ice Cube, Owen Wilson, Kari Wuhrer and Danny Trejo.


  • Ghosts of Mars Blu-ray — Directed by John Carpenter, this 2001 film involves a mining operation on Mars uncovering an ancient civilization whose warriors are systematically taking over the bodies of the human colonists.


  • A Thousand and One Nights: The Story of Aladdin DVD — Includes eight adaptations of the “Arabian Nights” folk tales. The collection includes 1945’s A Thousand and One Nights, 1959’s 1001 Arabian Nights, 1951’s The Magic Carpet, the 2000 TV miniseries Arabian Nights, the 1990 Aladdin TV musical, a 1960 “Aladdin” cartoon, the 1934 cartoon Aladdin’s Wonderful Lamp and the 1939 cartoon Popeye Meets Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp.


  • The Adventures of Robin Hood: The Complete Series DVD + Digital — The 1955-60 series starred Richard Greene as Robin Hood, whose band of Merry Men fought the tyranny of Prince John and the Sheriff of Nottingham in Sherwood Forest for 143 episodes.


  • Becoming Evil: Serial Killers DVD + Digital – a seven-part documentary series that profiles some of history’s most notorious mass murderers, including John Wayne Gacy, David Berkowitz, Richard Ramirez, James DeAngelo, Aileen Wuornos, Jeffrey Dahmer, Andrew Cunanan and Ted Bundy.


  • Black Hawk Down: The Untold Story DVD + Digital — a documentary about the heroic efforts of the American soldiers who fought to rescue the special operations forces pinned down at the crash site of a military helicopter during the Battle of Magadishu in Somalia in 1993. The documentary includes never-before-seen footage, with stories told directly by the troops who were on the ground, as well as commentary by General Mark A. Milley, the 39th Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army.


  • A Hero’s Welcome: Documentary Collection DVD + Digital — A trilogy of documentaries honoring the sacrifices of America’s greatest heroes. Includes Until They Are Home, about the search for the remains of U.S. Marines killed during the Battle of Tarawa in the South Pacific during World War II; Return to Tarawa, about a World War II veteran returning to the famous battle site; and Never Surrender, the story of the last mounted horse cavalry charge in U.S. military history during an offensive in the Philippine jungle.


  • The Shield: The Complete Series DVD — featuring the 2018 cast reunion with creator Shawn Ryan and the ATX Festival writers panel that were included with last year’s complete-series Blu-ray boxed set.


AMC Theatres Ticket Service Tops 700,000 Subscribers

AMC Theatres said its Stubs A-List subscription ticket service added 100,000 subscribers in January and February to increase its membership base above 700,000.

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AMC Theatres launched A-List (priced from $19.95 monthly) on June 26, 2018 and was originally expected to hit 500,000 members 12 months after launch. Membership includes access up to three movies per week, in every available AMC showtime and format, including Imax at AMC, Dolby Cinema at AMC, RealD 3D and Prime at AMC.

AMC said its conventional Stubs A-List membership program has totaled 14 million attendees, including the purchase of traditionally-priced tickets for family and friends.

AMC Stubs Premiere and A-List members receive a $5 credits for every 5,000 points earned, which translates to a 10% credit toward future AMC purchases.

“With every passing milestone, Stubs A-List is proving to be a huge benefit to our guests, our studio partners and our shareholders,” CEO Adam Aron said in a statement. “Members are watching more movies than they did before A-List was created, and they’re bringing their friends and family members along, who are paying for their tickets at full price.”


Tubi Inks NBC Universal Catalog Deal

Ad-supported streaming video service Tubi Feb. 28 announced a content deal with NBC Universal, adding nearly 400 television episodes and movies. The deal is part of a strategy to invest over nine figures into content acquisitions in 2019.

Tubi users will have free access to catalog series, “Xena: Warrior Princess,” “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys,” “The A-Team,” “Punky Brewster,” “The Incredible Hulk,” “Quantum Leap” and the original versions of “Magnum, P.I.,” “Battlestar Galactica,” “Bionic Woman” and “She-Ra: Princess of Power,” among others.

“We’re excited to be a home to this robust library of content … that appeals across generations,” chief content officer Adam Lewinson said in a statement. “We are aggressively working to expand our library, and this is one of many deals to come for Tubi.”

Tubi’s content library contains more than 12,000 movies and TV series –  claiming to double Netflix’s at 40,000 hours. The service’s app ranks as one of the most watched on Amazon Fire TV, Roku iOS, Android, and Xfinity X1, among others.

San Francisco-based Tubi ended 2018 with more than four-times the content on the service over the previous year. Viewers last December streamed nearly as much content as was consumed in all of 2017.


Research: Netflix Could Be Losing at Least $2.3 Billion a Year From Account Mooching

Netflix could be losing potential revenue of at least $2.3 billion a year (or $192 million a month at the base subscription price) because an estimated 24 million users mooch off of others’ accounts.

That’s according to a new survey of more than 1,000 conducted by Cordcutting.com.

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At base subscription prices, Amazon Prime Video is losing at least $540 million a year (or $45 million a month) from 5 million moochers and Hulu at least $480 million a year (or $40 million a month) from 5 million sharers, according to the study.

Still, more than half of Netflix moochers (59.3%) would pay for the service if they lost free access, while 27.6% of Amazon moochers would pay and 37.8% of Hulu moochers would pay if they lost access.

A parent is the top source for moochers of Netflix and Amazon, while a “significant other” is the top source for Hulu.

BAFTA Nominee ‘The Prisoner,’ Noir ‘Phantom Lady’ Among Titles Coming to Blu-ray in March From Arrow and MVD

British Academy Film Awards nominee The Prisoner, the Sister Street Fighter Collection, the noir Phantom Lady and a slate of horror films are due on Blu-ray in March from Arrow Films and MVD Entertainment Group.

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March 5 comes the two-disc Sister Street Fighter Collection, which includes all three films in the Japanese exploitation film trilogy. In the first film, Li (Etsuko Shihomi) travels to Yokohama to investigate the disappearance of her brother. Li returns in Sister Street Fighter: Hanging by a Thread, this time in search of a woman that has been kidnapped by a group of diamond smugglers. The series comes to a close with Return of the Sister Street Fighter, with Li once again hoping to locate a missing person, this time a kingpin’s mistress.

Also coming March 5 is Robert Siodmak’s 1944 noir Phantom Lady. Ella Raines stars as a secretary willing to put her life on the line in an effort to prove her boss did not murder his wife. Special features include the archival documentary Dark and Deadly: 50 Years of Film Noir, featuring the contributions of Robert Wise, Dennis Hopper and more; a 1944 hour-long radio dramatization with Ella Raines and Alan Curtis; and a gallery of stills and promotional materials.

Due March 12 is the late 1990s booby-trap slasher Kolobos about a group of strangers trapped in a deadly house. They arrive at a snow-covered house under the guise of participating in an experimental film. With the entire property fitted with cameras, their every move will be recorded. But when the house locks down, trapping them within, it soon becomes clear that something sinister is afoot. The new 2K restoration that includes an audio commentary, interviews and more.

Also due March 12 is Peter Glenville’s The Prisoner (1955), which was nominated for five BAFTAs, including best film. The tense drama puts Alec Guinness and Jack Hawkins in a room and has them square off in mental battle that tests the human spirit. Special features include a new video appreciation on the Oscar winning Guinness from author and academic Neil Sinyard.

Coming March 19 is a new 2K restoration of Strip Nude for Your Killer, an Italian giallo about a series of vicious murders in a Milanese fashion house that leave Edwige Fenech and Nino Castelnuovo to solve the case. Special features include a new audio commentary by horrorpedia.com’s Adrian J. Smith and David Flint, video essays, interviews, two versions of the opening scene, and an image gallery.

Finally, on March 26 comes the boxed set Blood Hunger: The Films of Jose Larraz, which contains three films — Whirlpool, Vampyres and The Coming of Sin — from the early part of director Jose Ramon Larraz’s career. All films come newly restored in 2K with new bonus features.

Brazil Approves Disney/20th Century Fox Merger

Brazil regulators have approved The Walt Disney Co.’s $71.3 billion acquisition of 20th Century Fox Film and related businesses — paving the way for consummation of the Hollywood mega-merger first announced in December 2017.

The slow-moving antitrust hurdle represented one of the last challenges to Disney’s merger with Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox entertainment division.

Brazilian authorities sought and achieved Disney’s divesture of Fox Sports channel in the South American country. Disney also owns ESPN Brazil channel. Fox Sports owns rights to key soccer competitions in the region.

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A similar situation exists in the U.S. where the Justice Department ruled Disney has to sell off its stake in 22 regional Fox Sports channels since it owns ESPN.

European Union officials ordered Disney sell its European — not U.S. — stake in A&E Networks.

“Currently, there is only one big-screen rival capable of competing with these channels,” Brazil’s Administrative Council for Economic Defense said in a statement as reported by the Los Angeles Times. The agency said separating Fox Sports from Disney “aims to eliminate competitive concerns in the pay-TV sports channel market.”