High-Definition Redefined

A little more than a year after the grand opening of its new flagship store in the Westfield Century City mall, Video and Audio Center on April 17 held another showcase event. More than 200 invited guests at “High Definition Redefined” got the chance to preview Samsung’s latest 8K TVs, ranging in size from 65 inches to 98 inches. The new TV sets have built-in Artificial Intelligence (AI) processing to upconvert content to 8K. And that’s a critical factor, says Tom Campbell, Video and Audio Center corporate director and chief technologist. “Content is king,” he says. “Content drives our business.” Video and Audio Center carries a limited selection of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, currently the optimum way to view content in the home.

Gaspar Noé’s ‘Climax’ Available Digitally May 7, on Disc May 14

The horror film Climax from filmmaker Gaspar Noé will be released digitally May 7 from A24, and on Blu-ray and DVD May 28 from Lionsgate.

The film focuses on a troupe of young dancers who take sangria laced with LSD and descend into a passionate and violent delirium. It stars Sofia Boutella, Romain Guillermic, Souheila Yacoub and Claude GajanMaull.

The disc will include the featurette “A Visceral Experience: Making Climax.”

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FilmRise ‘Sprinter’ Screening

Filmmakers and cast members attended a screening for the film Sprinter at the Pacific Theatres at The Grove in Los Angeles April 23. The film, distributed by FilmRise, debuted in theaters April 24. Sprinter tells the story of a Jamaican teen whose rising star in track and field may help reunite him with his mother who is currently living in the United States. The film is executive produced by Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith. It also features a cameo by Usain Bolt.

Donnie Yen Actioner ‘Big Brother’ Coming to Disc May 21 From Well Go

Hong Kong action star Donnie Yen stars as a high school teacher in Big Brother, due May 21 on Blu-ray and DVD from Well Go USA Entertainment.

The film is available now on digital.

Martial arts legend Yen (“IP Man” franchise, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) plays a former soldier recruited for his toughest mission yet — teaching a class of teen delinquents. As he kicks his way into their school and home lives, it becomes clear that his unconventional teaching style might be just what they need.

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‘Mothra’ Hatches on Steelbook Blu-ray July 9 From Mill Creek

The 1961 sci-fi kaiju classic Mothra will be unleashed in a special edition steelbook Blu-ray July 9 from Mill Creek Entertainment.

This special edition release marks the North American Blu-ray debut of Mothra and includes both the U.S. theatrical cut as well as the original, extended Japanese version of the film. Special features include feature-length commentary with authors and Japanese sci-fi historians Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski, trailers, and a photo gallery.

The film is presented in a 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio with DTS-HD Master Audio for both English and Japanese tracks and English subtitles on a dual-layered Blu-ray disc.

“We are excited to offer Mothra on Blu-ray as a gorgeous steelbook release,” said Barrett Evans, VP of marketing for Mill Creek Entertainment, in a statement.  “The timing is ideal to present the original Mothra as new audiences will soon see the iconic character in the upcoming Godzilla: King of the Monsters movie.”

Mothra was produced by Tomoyuki Tanaka, directed by Ishiro Honda, with SFX directed by Eiji Tsuburaya — the same team that created the original Godzilla feature film.

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The gigantic moth became one of the most popular Japanese characters appearing in 14 feature films.

In Mothra, following reports of human life on Infant Island, the supposedly deserted site of atomic bomb tests, an international expedition to the heavily-radiated island discovers a native tribe and tiny twin female fairies called “Shobijin” who guard a sacred egg. The overzealous expedition leader kidnaps the Shobijin to exhibit in a Tokyo stage show but soon they summon their protector, hatching the egg and releasing a giant caterpillar. Mothra finally transforms into the ultimate beast, impervious to modern weapons.

Mothra stars Emi Ito and Yumi Ito (known as the popular singing duo “The Peanuts”), Hiroshi Koizumi (Mothra vs. Godzilla), Kyoko Kagawa (High and Low), Jerry Ito (The Manster) and Frankie Sakai (Shogun). Musical numbers by Emi and Yumi Ito are featured in the film as they sing “Mosura No Uta (The Mothra Song),” “Daughters of Infant Island” and “Mosura ya Mosura.”

Cinedigm’s CONtv, Docurama Available on Comcast’s Xfinity Service

Cinedigm April 26 announced that its subscription video-on-demand services CONtv and Docurama are now available on Comcast’s cloud-based Xfinity X1 platform.

X1 subs can stream CONtv’s roster of classic cult films and forgotten series, and Docurama’s library of award-winning documentaries directly on their televisions. The two Cinedigm properties follow faith-based network The Dove Channel, which launched on X1 last year.

CONtv and Docurama can be added to X1 customers’ service for $4.99 and $2.99 per month respectively, and Internet-only customers can also subscribe via Xfinity Flex.

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This month, X1 customers can enjoy CONtv’s newest additions such as childhood classics “Where on Earth is Carmen San Diego” and “Angela Anaconda,” as well as the art tutorial “The Joy of Painting” with Bob Ross, the sword-and-sorcery Arthur & Merlin, and Selena Gomez in the 2014 rock n’ roll comedy Behaving Badly.

Curated by the industry’s top experts and critics, Docurama delivers hundreds of hours of acclaimed documentaries suited to viewers of all tastes—boasting a content roster covering everything from personal profiles, sports, and music, to hard-hitting political exposés and insightful interviews.

“These launches further our commitment to redefining the traditional viewing experience and provide even more viewers across the country with the same programming that our networks are known for — appealing to viewers of all tastes, whether they’re sci-fi enthusiasts or looking for something a little more down-to-earth,” Erick Opeka, president of Cinedigm Digital Networks, said in a statement.

WWE Streaming Video Service Sub Count Down Slightly

World Wrestling Entertainment saw its namesake WWE Network subscription video streaming service generate 1.58 million first-quarter (ended March 31) subscribers — up 2% from the same period last year, but down slightly from 1.59 million subs in Q4.

For the current second quarter, WWE projects average paid subscribers of about 1.7 million, representing a year-over-year decline of 5%.The company’s primary focus for WWE Network is the launch of a new OTT platform partnership with Endeavor Streaming and Massive.

The enhanced platform promises to bring new “features and experiences,” to viewers including delivery of content in multiple languages.

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Media revenue, which includes OTT, transactional VOD and digital retail, increased to $135.4 million from $133.4 million in the prior-year quarter, primarily due to the contractual escalation of core content rights fees. The growth was partially offset by lower advertising sales, particularly on YouTube, and the unfavorable timing of advertising and sponsorship sales across other platforms.

The segment’s operating income declined nearly 55% to $16.3 million from $35.9 million.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Tops $1 Billion Fiscal-Year 2019 Revenue

Sony Pictures Hone Entertainment April 26 reported fourth-quarter (ended March 31) fiscal-year 2019 revenue of $300 million, up about 3.4% from revenue of $290 million during the previous-year period.

The studio topped $1 billion in revenue for the fiscal year — up 3.1% from revenue of $982 million in fiscal year 2018.

Top retail releases in the fiscal year included Peter Rabbit, Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, The Equalizer 2, Venom and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

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 Venom ranks the sixth-bestselling combined DVD/Blu-ray Disc title in 2019 with $13.1 million in revenue and 657,000 units sold, according to The-Numbers.com. The Tom Hardy-starrer generated more than $37.6 million in 2018 on 1.7 million discs.

The Equalizer 2 ranks 21st with $4.5 million in revenue and 256,000 units sold. The title, starring Denzel Washington, generated $16.3 million in revenue last year on 855,000 discs sold.

Peter Rabbit generated $18.4 million on 1 million discs sold in 2018. Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation sold $37 million worth of discs (2 million).

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was only released into retail channels on March 19.

Top 2018 release — Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle — sold more than $65 million in combined DVD/Blu-ray Disc unit sales.

Current quarter SPHE releases include A Dog’s Way Home, Holmes & Watson, Escape Room, Miss Bala and Never Look Away.

 

‘Picasso Trigger,’ ‘Savage Beach’ Coming on Blu-ray July 9 From Mill Creek’s ‘Bullets, Bombs and Babes’ Series

Mill Creek Entertainment is releasing two films on Blu-ray July 9 from its Malibu Bay Films “Bullets, Bombs and Babes” film series, Picasso Trigger and Savage Beach.

Picasso Trigger follows spy Travis Abilene and L.E.T.H.A.L. agents Donna and Taryn from Paris to Texas to Hawaii to Las Vegas as they attempt to thwart the insidious Salazar, a master of deception who is about to unveil his masterpiece: a plot to blast his enemies to kingdom come.

In Savage Beach Donna and Taryn return as federal agents whose latest undercover mission ends when their plane crashes on a deserted South Seas island. Their hope of a quick rescue is destroyed when they are captured by a group of U.S. Naval commandos who have come to the island seeking a fortune hidden there 50 years earlier. But a traitor has infiltrated their group. A band of terrorists storms the island, determined to grab the gold and leave no witnesses behind. Donna and Taryn are caught in the crossfire.

The director of the two films, Andy Sidaris, was a pioneer in sports television production, directing hundreds of live events ranging from nationally televised games to Olympic programs which earned him seven Emmy awards. In the mid-1980s, Sidaris with his wife Arlene produced 12 films affectionately referred to as the “Bullets, Bombs and Babes” series. The trademark of these action and humor-packed movies was casting models as the gun-toting secret agents tracking down muscle-bound bad guys also armed with heavy artillery. This formula of beautiful people in exotic locations with big production values and even bigger explosions set these films apart from other after-hours fare and has secured a loyal and devout fanbase.

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“The response from fans regarding the Blu-ray releases of Malibu Express and Hard Ticket to Hawaii has just been tremendous,” said Arlene Sidaris, producer of the Malibu Bay Films library, in a statement. “The 4K transfers that the American Genre Film Archive have produced allow our movies to be preserved and enjoyed all over again.”

‘Aquaman’ Tops Disc Sales Chart, Though More People Bought ‘Glass’

A retail exclusive had a big impact on the national home video sales rankings the week ended April 20.

Nominally, the NPD VideoScan First Alert chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales, saw Warner Bros. Home Entertainment’s Aquaman return to the top spot in its fourth week on shelves.

Debuting at No. 2 on the overall chart and No. 3 on the Blu-ray chart was Universal Pictures’ Glass, the latest thriller from M. Night Shyamalan that serves as a sequel to both 2000’s Unbreakable and 2016’s Split. It earned $111 million at the domestic box office.

However, Walmart offered an exclusive triple-feature Blu-ray containing the three films, an option chosen by many consumers to obtain their copy of Glass.

The standalone version of Glass sold 90% as many copies as the No. 1 overall title, and the trilogy sold 14%. Combined, that would mean more people bought Glass during the week than any other movie.

The top reported Blu-ray Disc seller was the newly released anime movie Dragon Ball Super: Broly, which earned $30.7 million at the domestic box office. Aquaman was No. 2 on the Blu-ray chart.

The standalone Glass sold 79% as many copies as Broly, while the trilogy sold 20%, so the combined tally wouldn’t have been enough to make it the top seller.

No. 4 on both charts was Sony Pictures’ Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, followed at No. 5 by Paramount’s Bumblebee.

Among the week’s other new releases, Warner’s direct-to-video animated movie Justice League vs. The Fatal Five debuted at No. 12 overall and No. 8 on the Blu-ray chart.

Fox’s The Kid Who Would Be King debuted at No. 11 overall and No. 13 on the Blu-ray chart.

Lionsgate’s sci-fi thriller Replicas bowed at No. 14 overall and No. 17 on the Blu-ray chart.

Blu-ray Disc accounted for 84% of first-week Broly sales, compared with 61% for Glass, 55% for Kid and 51% for Replicas.

Fatal Five, which was released only on Blu-ray combo pack formats, had 11% of its sales come from 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. UHD Blu-ray accounted for 12% of Glass sales and 6% for Kid.

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On Media Play News‘ rental chart for the week ended April 21, Glass debuted at No. 1, while Warner’s The Mule held onto the No. 2 spot.

Sony Pictures’ Holmes & Watson, the previous week’s top rental, fell to No. 3. Replicas debuted at No. 4 and Bumblebee slipped to No. 5.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 4-20-19
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 4-21-19
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 4-20-19
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 4-20-19
Sales Report for Week Ended 4-20-19
Digital Sales Snapshot for Week Ended 4-22-19