HBO’s ‘Chernobyl’ Due on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Dec. 1

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the HBO miniseries Chernobyl on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Dec. 1. A limited-edition Steelbook edition will be available the same day exclusively at Best Buy.

The five-part series that dramatizes the explosion at the Soviet Union’s Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986 that spewed a cloud of radioactive gas over Ukraine and neighboring countries.

Jared Harris portrays Valery Legasov, a leading Soviet nuclear physicist who was one of the first to grasp the scope of the unparalleled disaster that occurred. Stellan Skarsgård plays Soviet Deputy Prime Minister Boris Shcherbina, who is assigned by the Kremlin to lead the government commission on Chernobyl in the hours immediately following the accident. Emily Watson portrays Ulana Khomyuk, a composite character representing Soviet scientists investigating the disaster.

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Best Buy’s ‘Chernobyl’ Steelbook

Chernobyl won two Golden Globe Awards and 10 Primetime Emmys, including Outstanding Limited Series in 2019.

The 4K Ultra HD combo pack will include the five episodes on both a 4K disc and a regular Blu-ray disc, and will include a digital copy of the miniseries. The Best Buy Steelbook packaging features artwork inspired by the Edvard Munch painting The Scream.

Extras, which are not available in 4K, include “Inside the Episode” featurettes, plus “Meet the Key Players,” “Behind the Curtain: Director Johan Renck,” “Script to Screen: The Divers” and “Pivotal Moment: The Trial.”

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New ‘Scooby-Doo’ Halloween Movie Coming Oct. 6 for DVD and Digital Release

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Oct. 6 will release the new animated film Happy Halloween, Scooby-Doo! on DVD and for digital sellthrough. The DVD is available for sale now at Walmart and for rent at Redbox kiosks.

When Crystal Cove is terrorized by a swarm of feisty flying jack-o-lanterns, Scooby-Doo and the Mystery Inc. gang team up with Bill Nye the Science Guy and Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, to solve the case.

Happy Halloween Scooby-Doo! features the familiar voice talents of Frank Welker as Scooby-Doo and Fred, Grey Griffin as Daphne, Matthew Lillard as Shaggy and Kate Micucci as Velma.

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Fandango Celebrates 45th Anniversary of ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’

Fandango is celebrating the 45th anniversary of the cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show Sept. 26 with a curated playlist, movie sale, and video on the history of 20th century midnight movies.

Throughout the weekend, The Rocky Horror Picture Show will be on sale for digital purchase at $7.99 on both FandangoNow and on Vudu, Fandango’s transactional VOD services.

Also, FandangoNow has curated a special collection of cult classics.

Also this weekend, Fandango is launching a regular monthly feature devoted to “Staff Picks.”

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“Some forty-five years ago, Rocky Horror made an everlasting impact on the moviegoing experience, creating a demand for cult films with avid audience participation,” said Fandango managing editor Erik Davis. “While many of us wish we could celebrate the anniversary in full style at the theater, it’s always a film worth cheering on, so let’s do the warp again from home.”

GOP Senators Question Netflix’s Planned Chinese-Based Sci-Fi Series

A group of Republican senators has sent a letter to Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos questioning why the SVOD behemoth plans to adapt Chinese sci-fi trilogy, “A Three-Body Problem,” by author Cixin Liu into an original series. “Game of Thrones” creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have been tasked with creating the series for Netflix about humanity’s first contact with alien civilization.

Liu is also author of the short story upon which Chinese sci-fi theatrical hit, The Wandering Earth, is based. The movie, which has topped Mulan in theatrical revenue, has generated more than $690 million at the Chinese box office. Netflix acquired SVOD rights to the movie for North America, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea.

Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Martha McSally (R-AZ), Rick Scott (R-FL) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) contend Liu is sympathetic to Chinese government’s forced re-education of ethic Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang region.

The Uighur Muslims have become political pawns for the Trump Administration and its allies in Congress seeking leverage in the government’s ongoing trade disputes between Beijing and Washington, D.C.

Earlier this month, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) took to social media, accusing Disney of “whitewashing genocide” by allegedly cooperating with Chinese police working at the Uighur camps, including crediting them in the live-action Mulan movie credits. Disney CFO Christine McCarthy said it was common practice in Hollywood to acknowledge local governments for a movie filmed abroad.

In the Sept. 23 letter to Sarandos, the senators are seeking answers to the following questions:

  1. Does Netflix agree that the Chinese Communist Party’s interment of 1.8 to 3 million Uyghurs in internment or labor camps based on their ethnicity is unacceptable?
  2. Were Netflix senior executives aware of the statements made by Mr. Cixin liu regarding the Chinese Communist Party’s genocidal acts prior to entering into an agreement to adapt his work? If so,
    please outline the reasoning that led Netflix to move forward with this project. If not, please describe Netflix’s standard process of due diligence and the gaps therein that led to this oversight.
  3. Does Netflix have a policy regarding entering into contracts with public-facing individuals who, either publically or privately, promote principles inconsistent with Netflix’s company culture and principles? If so, please outline this policy. If not, please explain why not.
  4. In order to avoid any further glorification of the CCP’s actions against the Uyghurs, or validation of the Chinese regime and agencies responsible for such acts, what steps will Netflix take to cast a critical eye on this project – to include the company’s broader
    relationship with Mr. Liu?

A Netflix representative was not immediately available for comment.

 

 

 

 

Netflix’s ‘Lucifer,’ ‘Cobra Kai’ Top Weekly Nielsen SVOD Rankings

Netflix dominated Nielsen’s weekly Top 10 SVOD rankings, again accounting for all 10 spots for the third consecutive week (Aug. 24 – 30) — or as long as Nielsen has published the chart tallying Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Hulu and Netflix programming.

“Cobra Kai,” which Netflix acquired the two seasons from YouTube TV, tracked 1.4 billion minutes streamed across 20 episodes during its first three days available. The streamer is set to streamed a third season in 2021. That trailed more 2 billion minutes streamed over 75 episodes of “Lucifer.”

Disc Sales Charts Led by Season 5 of ‘Outlander”

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s Outlander: Season Five 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 the week ended Sept. 19.

The popular Starz series stars stars Caitriona Balfe as a World War II nurse who finds herself transported back in time to the 18th century.

Disney’s Hocus Pocus jumped up to No. 2, from No. 18 the previous week. The perennial Halloween-season seller got a bit of a boost from a new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray edition, which comprised 18% of the title’s total unit sales. It was No. 4 on the Blu-ray chart.

Warner’s Beetlejuice, which topped the charts a few weeks earlier after the release of its own 4K disc, was No. 3 on the overall disc sales chart and No. 10 on the Blu-ray chart.

New release Weathering With You, an anime movie distributed in America by Shout! Factory, debuted at No. 4 overall and No. 2 on the Blu-ray chart.

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The previous week’s top seller, Warner’s direct-to-video animated movie Superman: Man of Tomorrow, slipped to No. 5 overall and No. 3 on the Blu-ray chart.

The No. 5 Blu-ray was Lionsgate’s new Vestron collector’s edition of David Cronenberg’s 1975 horror movie Shivers. Similarly, Lionsgate’s Vestron Blu-ray of the 1989 comedy Little Monsters was the No. 6 Blu-ray.

Warner’s Cats & Dogs 3: Paws Unite!, which arrives on Blu-ray and DVD Oct. 13 but is available for sale early at Walmart, was No. 14 overall. The Blu-ray version comprised 29% of its Walmart sales.

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The Media Play News rental chart for the week ended Sept. 20 had at No. 1 for the third straight week the Universal political comedy Irresistible, which on the disc sales chart has never cracked the top 50.

Lionsgate’s Rogue moved up to No. 2, swapping with Universal’s The King of Staten Island, which dropped to No. 3.

Redbox’s Hard Kill climbed a spot to No. 4, and Warner’s Scoob! moved up to No. 5.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 9-19-20
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 9-20-20
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 9-19-20
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 9-19-20

Walmart Increases Electronics Inventory, Plans to Start Holiday Sales Early

Walmart has increased inventory in electronics, with a focus on TVs, laptops and video games, in preparation for a holiday sales season that it plans to start early, the retailer announced Sept. 23.

Walmart research showed 87% of customers who shopped the chain over the past six months say they plan to seek out deals and great prices earlier this year to better prepare for the holiday season, with one in three customers planning to start their holiday shopping before early November.

The retailer announced plans to address three key shopping trends expected for a unique holiday season: an increase in online shopping, evolving wish lists, and the need for a fast, easy and safe shopping experience.

“Over the past six months, our customers have been shopping differently, and we expect that will continue into the most important shopping season of the year — the holidays,” Scott McCall, EVP and chief merchandising officer for Walmart U.S., said in a statement. “We’ve heard from our customers that many plan on starting their holiday shopping well before Black Friday and that they’re looking for gifts that fit their current lifestyle. So, we’ve adjusted our strategy to adapt to these new shopping preferences — we’re offering more of what they want now, earlier than ever, and all at the best prices.”

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Walmart is “promising an all-new Black Friday experience,” according to a press release, spreading traditional Black Friday savings throughout the season and will have more deals available online. More details will be shared soon, according to the release.

To prepare for an expected increase in online shopping this holiday season, Walmart will hire more than 20,000 seasonal associates in its ecommerce fulfillment centers across the country, the company announced.

“The holidays are always a special time, and this year, we think the season will mean even more to our customers. As more of them turn to online shopping, we want to ensure we’re staffed and ready to help deliver that special gift to their loved ones while continuing to fulfill our customer’s everyday needs,” Greg Smith, EVP for supply chain for Walmart U.S., said in a statement. “We’re also proud to be able to continue to provide employment opportunities across the country when it’s needed most.”

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In addition to electronics, the retailer is increasing availability of unexpected holiday gifts that reflect lifestyles in the “new normal,” according to the company. They include merchandise in athleisure, loungewear and sleepwear for the family, outdoor grills, bicycles and exercise equipment, outdoor sporting equipment, pet items, and kitchen items.

Over the past six months, the retailer has taken steps to help ensure a safe in-store shopping experience for both its customers and associates, which will continue through the holiday season, according to the company, including:

  • Reduced Store Hours: Walmart stores, Supercenters and Neighborhood Markets will continue to be closed to customers overnight to give associates extra time to clean and sanitize stores and stock shelves.
  • Required Face Coverings: Associates and customers will continue to be required to wear masks or other face coverings while in Walmart stores.
  • Sneeze Guards: Plastic barriers will remain in Walmart pharmacies, at checkouts and at other points of sale to distance customers and associates.
  • Traffic Management: To manage customer flow and traffic, Walmart has vestibules divided into separate entrances and exits, social distancing floor decals and airs overhead announcements urging proper hygiene and the need to socially distance.

Other initiatives include:

  • Contactless pickup and delivery services such as pickup and delivery on more than 160,000 items that can be picked up or delivered as soon as the same day; express delivery on a wide assortment of items delivered within two hours, pending eligibility and customer location; and free next day or free two-day shipping on online orders of more than $35, pending eligibility and customer location.
  • Contactless payment in stores: Customers can pay in a Walmart store contact-free on any register when using Walmart Pay via the Walmart app.
  • Walmart+ benefits: Customers can also sign up for a Walmart+ membership for $98 a year. With the membership, they receive unlimited free delivery from stores (including on gifts, such as electronics and toys), fuel discounts and access to tools, such as Scan & Go that let customers scan their items as they shop and pay using Walmart Pay.

Ex-RLJ Entertainment CEO Adds AMC+ to SVOD Duties

AMC Networks Sept. 24 announced that Miguel Penella, president of SVOD, is adding AMC+ to his portfolio of over-the-top video services, which includes Acorn TV, Shudder, Sundance Now and UMC. Penella joined AMC Networks following its 2018 acquisition of RLJ Entertainment, where he served as CEO.

Shudder recently became the second of AMC Networks’ SVOD services to surpass the 1 million subscriber milestone, following Acorn TV which reached that mark last September.

“Miguel is a seasoned executive with an extensive track record building successful SVOD products and brands and under his leadership our targeted SVOD services have had tremendous growth,” Ed Carroll, COO of AMC Networks, said in a statement. “We look forward to Miguel bringing his vision and deep expertise to AMC+ as we accelerate our ability to serve fans of our shows by embracing the new ways they are consuming our content.”

AMC+ is a $6.99 monthly service that brings together content from AMC Networks’ suite of premium brands. It includes original series from AMC and sister networks, ad-free with early premieres on demand, along with AMC Networks’ subscription video-on-demand services Shudder, Sundance Now, and IFC Films Unlimited, and also includes a premium linear network. AMC+ is currently offered to Comcast Xfinity and Xfinity Flex customers as well as to Dish Network and Sling TV customers.

Miguel Penella

AMC+ includes:

  • AMC – offers current seasons of hit series from AMC and its sister networks like IFC and SundanceTV anytime, ad-free, including The Walking Dead and NOS4A2, plus extras including bonus footage, sneak peeks of future episodes and exclusive behind-the-scenes features.
  • Shudder – with more than 1 million subscribers, Shudder offers fans of horror and suspense the largest uncut selection of series and films, including original hit series Creepshow and acclaimed documentary Horror Noire.
  • Sundance Now – offers a rich selection of original and exclusive series from true crime to heart-stopping dramas and thrillers from around the world, including “A Discovery of Witches,” “Riviera” and “Killing for Love.”
  • IFC Films Unlimited – offers a broad collection of theatrically-released and award-winning titles from IFC Films, the leader in quality talent-driven independent film.
  • Linear Network – includes an ad-free linear channel with some of the best programming AMC has to offer.

SVOD services also include:

  • Acorn TV – Acorn is North America’s largest streaming service specializing in British and international television with over 1 million paid subscribers in the U.S and Canada and subscribers worldwide in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Latin America.
  • UMC – the first subscription streaming service created for Black audiences, features a broad mix of original series, network TV shows, classic sitcoms, and feature films.

‘Outlander: Season 5’ Jumps to No. 1 on ‘Watched at Home’ Chart

The fifth season of the fantasy TV series “Outlander,” distributed by Sony Pictures, was the top title on the weekly “Watched at Home” chart for the week ended Sept. 19.

The Blu-ray and DVD edition of the season arrived in stores Sept. 15.

Also new to the list at No. 7 is the anime movie Weathering With You, released on Blu-ray and DVD Sept. 15 by Shout! Factory.

No. 12 saw the debut of Lionsgate’s The Secret: Dare to Dream, which became available for digital sellthrough Sept. 15. Based on the 2006 self-help book The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, the movie stars Katie Holmes as a widowed mother of three who meets a handyman (Josh Lucas) who inspires her with the power of positive thinking.

The other new release on the list, at No. 15, is Magnolia Pictures’ Alone, a thriller about a recently widowed woman who flees the city only to be kidnapped by a strange man and held captive in his cabin.

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The three seasons of Paramount’s drama series “Yellowstone,” which the previous week took the top three spots, dropped to second, third and fourth on the “Watched at Home” chart, which tracks transactional video activity (both digital and on DVD and Blu-ray Disc) compiled from studio and retailer data through DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group. Season three was No. 2, followed by season two then season one.

Warner’s eight-film “Harry Potter” collection rounded out the top five.

The Sept. 18 death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg inspired viewers to revisit two 2018 films about her: the documentary RBG, from Magnolia, at No. 10, and the biopic On the Basis of Sex, from Universal, at No. 16. In the latter, Felicity Jones plays a younger Ginsberg making a name for herself as a civil rights attorney.

  1. Outlander: Season 5 (Sony Pictures)
  2. Yellowstone: Season 3 (Paramount)
  3. Yellowstone: Season 2 (Paramount)
  4. Yellowstone: Season 1 (Paramount)
  5. Harry Potter Complete 8-Film Collection (Warner)
  6. The Tax Collector (RLJ Entertainment)
  7. Weathering With You (Shout! Factory)
  8. Trolls World Tour (Universal/DreamWorks)
  9. The King of Staten Island (Universal)
  10. RBG (Magnolia)
  11. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Warner)
  12. The Secret: Dare to Dream (Lionsgate)
  13. Irresistible (2020, Universal)
  14. Hocus Pocus (Disney)
  15. Alone (Magnolia)
  16. On the Basis of Sex (Universal)
  17. Guest House (Lionsgate)
  18. The Silencing (2020, Lionsgate)
  19. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Warner)
  20. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Warner)

 

Source: DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group
Includes U.S. digital sales, digital rentals, and DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD sales for the week ended Sept. 19.

Amazon Bows Cloud-Based Gaming Platform, New Fire TV Stick, Spherical Echo Speakers

Amazon Sept. 24 a series of new hardware devices that included updates on existing products such as the Fire TV Stick Lite and spherical Echo voice-activated speakers. The e-commerce behemoth also unveiled the Luna cloud-based gaming system, an in-home drone Ring security system, and Halo fitness wristband, among other products.

The $5.99 monthly Luna platform is compatible with Amazon’s Twitch streaming video/gaming service, and will be available on Fire TV, Mac, Windows PCs, iOS and soon Android operating systems. The platform is intended to compete with similar gaming systems operated by Google (Stadia) and Microsoft’s Xbox Live. Amazon is also going to offer a dedicated game controller for $49.99. Games can be played with a keyboard and mouse or Bluetooth-connected controller.

The rebooted Echo Show 10 speaker ($249.99), will come with a built-in shutter cover for privacy, with VOD support for Netflix, Zoom and Amazon Chime video calls.

The $29.99 Fire TV Stick Lite can only be controlled by voice-activation, in addition to rewinding, exiting and playing video options on the controller.