Merchandising: Best Buy Closes Out 2020 With Bundle Sale

Without much in the way of new releases Dec. 29, most retailers were content to coast into the new year without much fanfare on the home video front.

Best Buy however did continue to offer a number of deep discount promotions to clear out its inventory.

Among the deals were discounts on anime titles, such as Shout! Factory’s 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Weathering With You set for $74.99 (regularly $89.99); Blu-ray Steelbooks for Spirited Away and Castle in the Sky for $18.99 each (regularly $19.99); the 4K Steelbook of the 1996 Ghost in the Shell animated movie from Lionsgate for $14.99 (regularly $19.99); and the My Hero Academia: Two Heroes Blu-ray for $12.99 (regularly $24.99).

Movie and TV bundles offered included the “Die Hard” five-film Blu-ray collection for $22.99 (regularly $27.99); Lionsgate’s eight-film “Saw” Blu-ray collection for $12.99 (regularly $14.99); Lionsgate’s five-film “Rambo” Blu-ray set for $24.99 (down from $29.99); Disney’s three-movie “Santa Clause” Blu-ray set for $19.99 (regularly $29.99); Universal’s Back to the Future Trilogy 35th anniversary Blu-ray for $24.99 (regularly $34.99); and Universal’s eight-movie “Fast & Furious” Blu-ray collection for $41.99 9down from $61.99).

Best Buy also continued its 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc sale and had regular Blu-ray movies for as low as $4.99.

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Crime Thriller ‘Coming From Insanity’ Heading to Digital and On Demand Jan. 12 From Level 33

The crime thriller Coming From Insanity will be released on digital and on demand Jan. 12 from Level 33 Entertainment.

The film — based on the true story of a notorious currency counterfeiter with genius-level intelligence — follows Kossi, one of many children trafficked and sold into servitude in Nigeria. He grows up and becomes frustrated with his life as a domestic worker. Dreaming of a better life, he turns to his natural abilities and masters the art of counterfeiting U.S. dollars. Floating the most flawless bills in town, he lands on the radar of a determined currency agent who will stop at nothing to bring him to justice.

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The film won the Programmer’s Best First Feature Narrative at the Pan African Film Festival; Best Screenplay at the Five Continents International Film Festival; Best Thriller Feature at the Five Continents International Film Festival; and the Audience Choice Award Best Feature at the PressPlay Film Festival. It picked up a Special Mention, Team Performance Feature Film, at the Five Continents International Film Festival and was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize Best International Narrative Feature at the American Black Film Festival.

LG to Bow QNED Mini LED TVs at Virtual CES

LG Electronics will introduce its first-ever QNED Mini LED TVs at the virtual CES 2021 as part of its 2021 premium LCD TV lineup.

The 2021 lineup includes 10 new 4K and 8K models covering screen sizes of up to 86 inches.

“As the first TVs to combine quantum dot and NanoCell technology in one product, LG QNED Mini LED TVs produce incredibly accurate colors while the advanced LED backlight offers better contrast and deeper blacks for images of exceptional vibrancy and realism,” according to the press release.

The TVs have a refresh rate of up to 120Hz, according to the company.

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LG’s Mini LED backlighting comprises up to almost 30,000 tiny LEDs that produce a contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1 when paired with up to 2,500 dimming zones and advanced local dimming technology for the 86-inch 8K QNED.

“Our new QNED Mini LED series is a premium home entertainment option that expands and improves the LCD TV space and gives consumers another terrific viewing choice,” Nam Ho-jun, SVP of R&D at LG’s Home Entertainment Company, said in a statement. “These TVs deliver an experience that set them apart from other LCD TVs and speak to our commitment to innovation and pushing the standard forward.”

LG’s 86-inch 8K QNED TV will be on display in LG’s virtual exhibition booth during CES 2021 starting Jan. 11.

‘Honest Thief,’ ‘The Last Shift’ Top Slate of New Releases Available for Home Viewing Dec. 29

Universal Pictures’ Honest Thief and Sony Pictures’ The Last Shift top the slate of new releases available for home viewing on Dec. 29.

Also out are Two Ways Home, from Gravitas Ventures, and, on DVD only, a batch of music videos from Bayview Entertainment, among them The Beatles: Meet the Beatles; Elvis Presley: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Years; and Stevie Nicks: Broadcasting Live.

Honest Thief, a drama starring Liam Neeson as a guilt-conscious bank robber who confronts FBI agents wanting to rob him, arrives on Blu-ray Disc and DVD two weeks after it became available to rent or buy through digital retailers such as FandangoNow, Redbox On Demand, Google Play, Microsoft Movies & TV and ROW8. Written, directed and produced by Mark Williams, the film stars Neeson as a notorious bank robber who turns himself in after falling in love, only to be double-crossed by a pair of corrupt FBI agents. The merciless agents soon discover there’s nothing more dangerous than an elite criminal mastermind seeking justice. Honest Thief earned $13.5 million at the domestic box office.

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The comic drama The Last Shift makes its debut on Blu-ray Disc and DVD as well as through digital retailers. In the film, aging fast-food worker Stanley (two-time Oscar nominee Richard Jenkins) plans to call it quits after 38 years on the graveyard shift at Oscar’s Chicken and Fish. He spends his last weekend training his replacement, Jevon (Shane Paul McGhie), a talented but stalled young writer whose provocative politics keep landing him in trouble. Stanley, a high school dropout who has watched his life pass by his drive-through window, proudly details the nuances of the job while Jevon, who considers himself too smart to be flipping patties, contends their labor is being exploited. A flicker of comaraderie sparks during the long overnight hours in a quiet kitchen.

Two Ways Home, making its Blu-ray Disc and DVD debut on Dec. 29, is a drama about a troubled young woman living with bipolar disorder who returns to her hometown in rural Iowa to reconnect with her estranged 12-year-old daughter. Her plan to stay with her grandfather is thwarted when she discovers he has suffered a heart attack and is being kept at a nursing home by her parents. Conflict with her family intensifies when her teenage daughter’s reaction to seeing her echoes the feelings shared by the whole family: they were happier when she was out of their lives.

Top 10 of 2020: The Best-Selling Disc Releases

Consumers stuck at home due to coronavirus pandemic quarantines gave home entertainment a boost as a valuable tool to pass the time. While digital delivery was the main beneficiary, physical media got a brief boost as well as a result of impulse buys and deep discount bins providing quick and easy entertainment for bored shoppers.

However, as studios began delaying their blockbuster releases and new-release options began to dwindle over the summer, the list of the year’s top-selling movies on disc became dominated by movies from 2019 released in the first few months of 2020.

For those titles that did get a release as 2020 rolled on, the general move toward digital delivery made it less likely physical media sales of those titles could match the tallies of the year’s early successes. The pandemic further limited options for shoppers wanting physical media by restricting store access and hampering production and distribution channels. The number of replication facilities already being down to a minimum due to the years-long decline of the disc market meant initial runs of discs couldn’t be mass-produced in the same numbers they had before.

Seven of the year’s top 10 titles have been on the list since April. Eight have been on the list since May. And the top four titles have been the same since March, and in the same order since April.

Here are the top selling movies in terms of combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales as reported by NPD Group’s VideoScan tracking service. (Updated Jan. 12, 2021)

1. Frozen II (Disney) — The 2013 original Frozen had been the highest-grossing non-photorealistic animated film of all time until the sequel topped it with $1.45 billion worldwide as 2019 came to a close. And with the first film among the most successful DVD and Blu-ray sellers of the past decade, the sales success of Frozen II came as no surprise, and it has pretty much been the year’s top seller since it hit shelves Feb. 25. It spent three weeks at No. 1 from February into March, making it the top seller for both months. And it had enough to secure the year’s top spot before it became available on streaming service Disney+ March 15, the studio offering it to subscribers months ahead of schedule as a result of the pandemic.

2. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (Disney/Lucasfilm) — The ninth and supposedly final episode of the “Skywalker” saga earned $515 million at the domestic box office, the lowest of Disney’s three sequels George Lucas’ classic “Star Wars” films. The March 31 disc release of Rise of Skywalker arrived just as pandemic lockdowns were taking hold. That and tepid fan response to the sequel trilogy in general likely prevented consumers from buying it in the types of droves the original and prequel films received upon their home video releases. As with Frozen II, most of its top 10 sales strength came from its initial release, as it hasn’t been among the top titles shoppers were picking up later in the year. It still managed to top weekly sales for three weeks in April, and was the top seller overall for that month.

3. Joker (Warner) — The controversial comic book adaptation based on the famed Batman villain kicked off the year as the top seller for the month of January after earning $335 million from U.S. theaters and more than $1 billion worldwide. On the weekly chart, however, it was No. 1 only for the week after its Jan. 7 disc debut, and again 10 months later when it led Thanksgiving week disc sales.

4. Jumanji: The Next Level (Sony Pictures) — The third “Jumanji” movie didn’t quite match the levels of its 2017 predecessor, but at $320 million domestically was still a massive hit, and has been a consistent staple of the home entertainment top 20 since its March 17 disc release.

5. 1917 (Universal) — Director Sam Mendes’ artfully crafted and very personal tale of a pair of couriers trying to prevent a hopeless battle during World War I picked up a number of Oscars prior to its March 24 disc debut, and has been one of the more popular discs as the pandemic continued, particularly resonating during the weeks of Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

6. Trolls World Tour (Universal/DreamWorks) — DreamWorks Animation’s sequel to 2016’s Trolls was the first big hit of the pandemic era, as it mostly eschewed theaters in favor of a premium VOD strategy that reportedly earned it more than $100 million. After it arrived on DVD and Blu-ray July 7, it was the top seller for the month of July, and has spent a combined four weeks at No. 1 — two weeks in mid-July and two at the end of August, when it danced into the yearly top 10. It is thus far the only disc release of a post-pandemic theatrical or VOD title to climb into the top 10.

7. Sonic the Hedgehog (Paramount) — Released on disc May 19 after a better-than-expected $146 million domestic box office haul, Sonic would seem to have been the right disc at the right time as the highest-profile theatrical-to-disc amid a pandemic drought. It spent six consecutive weeks as the weekly No. 1 seller, the most since the original Frozen spent eight weeks at No. 1 in 2014. That made Sonic the top seller in June, but wasn’t enough to give it a spot in the top 10 sellers of the year just yet, a sign of how much the pandemic tilted sellthrough to the digital side of things. In fact, it wouldn’t be until November until it took its place among the year’s top 10 disc sellers, after getting an end-of-year boost when Paramount re-released it as a limited-edition Blu-ray with pack-in character poster cards.

8. Midway (Lionsgate, 2019) — As with 1917, director Roland Emmerich’s film about U.S. Naval campaigns in World War II from Pearl Harbor to mid-1942 likely benefited from the audience’s appreciation of the military as the pandemic raged on. The film, released on disc Feb. 18, hadn’t been much of a box office performer at the end of 2020, earning just $56.8 million domestically and $126.7 million worldwide against a reported $100 million budget.

9. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (Disney) — The sequel to 2014’s Maleficent, continuing the story of the Sleeping Beauty villain as played by Angelina Jolie, earned $113.9 million domestically in its late-2019 theatrical run. It has been sliding down the top 10 disc sellers list since its Jan. 14 DVD and Blu-ray debut, ending January as the No. 2 title behind Joker. But it hasn’t gotten the same holiday sales season bump as Joker and some of the other titles on the list that have maintained their spots or moved up.

10. Bad Boys for Life (Sony Pictures) — The third “Bad Boys” film, coming 17 years after the second, was a big box office hit, earning $206 million domestically after bowing in theaters in January, which thanks to the pandemic held up as the top domestic grosser of the year. So it’s hardly a surprise that it would be a top seller on disc as well, arriving on DVD and Blu-ray during the early stages of the pandemic April 21.

2020 Retail Winners: E-Commerce, Consumer Electronics

To say online shopping boomed in 2020 would be an understatement,, especially during a pandemic. The trend toward e-commerce isn’t new. It’s been a reality of retail for awhile as stores big and small embrace transacting over the Internet as a means of dealing direct with the consumer and better competing against Amazon.

New data from eMarketer suggests that lost pre-pandemic spending on restaurants, bars, salons, travel, live events, movie theaters, etc., contributed to a $100 billion uptick in e-commerce spending, notably on consumer electronics.

In January, eMarketer forecast total e-commerce sales would reach $675 billion in 2020. Now, that estimate is closer to $795 billion.

Consumer electronics were particularly well suited to serve the needs of a population suddenly stuck at home managing unexpected work, school and leisure time. Online CE sales are tracking toward $179.3 billion, up from pre-pandemic estimate of $150.1 billion.

“That’s $29.3 billion in unanticipated online spending on devices to help us work, learn, [entertain] and play from home,” analyst Ethan Cramer-Flood wrote in a Dec. 29 note.

Indeed, tech spending on hardware and services during the 2020 holiday season (October-December) is projected to reach $135 billion in revenue in the United States — a 10% increase from a year ago, according to the Consumer Technology Association.

Projected top-selling CE devices over the holidays include smartphones, laptops, next-generation video game consoles, TVs and wearables.

“The 2020 holiday season will bring economic, safety and political unknowns — but the consumer desire to give and receive technology gifts is certain,” said Lesley Rohrbaugh, director of market research at CTA. “With consumers forgoing budgets for travel and experiences this year, more dollars will go towards technology gifts that support connection, productivity, health and home entertainment, as technology has been a critical asset to so many during the ongoing pandemic.”

Perhaps no CE retailer has better adapted to the pandemic than Best Buy, which saw a near 174% increase in e-commerce revenue and entertainment in the most-recent fiscal quarter. The nation’s largest CE retailer was quick to offer online purchases with curbside pick-up during the early days of the pandemic.

The chain’s entertainment segment, which includes products such as DVD/Blu-ray Disc movies, video game hardware and software, books, music CDs and computer software, saw same-store sales increase 17.5% compared with a 20.8% decline during the previous-year period. The division generated 5% of domestic revenue, or $542.5 million, compared with $448.2 million last year.

Domestic online revenue of $3.82 billion increased 173.7% on a comparable basis, and as a percentage of total domestic revenue, online revenue increased to approximately 35.2% versus 15.6% in 2019.

CEO Corie Barry said the pandemic has underscored Best Buy’s purpose to “enrich lives through technology,” and the capabilities the chain is “flexing and strengthening” to benefit sales going forward.

NFL: Arizona Cardinals vs. S.F. 49ers Most-Exclusively Streamed Football Game

The Dec. 26 NFL game between the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals was the first professional regular season football game to be exclusively streamed online without a national broadcast. The week 15 matchup was viewed in part by 11.2 million people, including 4.8 million “average minute audience” on Amazon Prime Video and Twitch — a record for an NFL game. The game was also broadcast locally in San Francisco and Phoenix — upping the “average minute audience” to 5.9 million.

Notably, the NFL said that viewers streamed more than 800 million combined minutes of the game, which would rank it among Nielsen’s weekly Top 10 streaming content chart tracking Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and Disney+.

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Prime Video is the current streaming partner for “NFL Thursday Night Football,” which is broadcast nationally by Fox Sports.


Netflix Original Movie ‘The Midnight Sky’ Tops Streamer’s Most-Popular Chart for Five Days Over Christmas Weekend

Netflix original movie The Midnight Sky, starring and directed by George Clooney, has quietly topped the streamer’s most-popular chart for five consecutive days since its Dec. 23 launch. With Netflix’s 73 million U.S. subscribers required to stream just 120 seconds of Sky to register as viewers, according to the SVOD pioneer, odds are high the movie surpassed streaming viewership for Wonder Woman 1984 on HBO Max and Soul on Disney+.

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The sci-fi film, based on the novel Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton, follows a scientist (Clooney) who must venture through the frozen Arctic with a young girl to warn off a returning spaceship following a global catastrophe. Co-stars include Felicity Jones, David Oyelowo, Tiffany Boone, Demián Bichir, Kyle Chandler and Caoilinn Springall.

While Sky was surpassed during the day (Dec. 28) by Shonda Rhimes’ original British period drama “Bridgerton,” the movie outlasted Netflix’s Oscar hopeful Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom by two days atop the streamer’s Top 10 chart. The latter stars Oscar winner Viola Davis in the title role and features the late Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther) in his final role.

‘Tenet’ Home Video Debut Dominates Disc Sales Charts

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment’s Tenet 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 Dec. 19.

The thriller from director Christopher Nolan earned $57.9 million from a domestic box office run subdued by the coronavirus pandemic. The film deals with a secret agent who manipulates time in an effort to prevent World War III.

Blu-ray Disc formats accounted for 82% of first-week Tenet sales; 46% of the total was the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc version.

The No. 2 title on both charts, 1989’s National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, sold 40% as many copies as Tenet, 18% as many Blu-rays.

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Tenet was also No. 1 on the Media Play News rental chart for the week ended Dec. 20, pushing Paramount’s Fatman to No. 2.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 12-19-20
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 12-20-20
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 12-19-20
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 12-19-20
Sales Report for Week Ended 12-19-20
Digital Transactions Snapshot for Week Ended 12-21-20


‘Mandalorian’ Season 2 Finale Dominates Parrot’s TV Charts

The Disney+ live-action “Star Wars” series “The Mandalorian” topped Parrot Analytics’ digital originals rankings for the 10th straight week the week ended Dec. 26, and also held onto the top spot on Parrot’s list of all TV shows for an eighth week.

The action-packed finale of the second season of “The Mandalorian” debuted Dec. 18 and featured the return of a classic character that had fans gushing, and crying, all over the Internet. This resulted in a 23.4% surge in demand expressions, the proprietary metric Parrot uses to gauge a show’s popularity, pushing “The Mandalorian” to a whopping 154.7 times the demand of an average TV series for the week, the best performance for a digital original relative to other originals for a week since Parrot switched to the metric in May, and more than 100 points over the No. 2 digital original.

That No. 2 series happened to be another “Star Wars” spinoff, the animated “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” which continues to receive a bump from synergy with the Disney+ flagship series. Season two of “The Mandalorian” featured several characters who originated on “Clone Wars” and even picked up a few storylines from it. Disney+ also recently debuted a trailer for a “Clone Wars” spinoff called “The Bad Batch” which featured a younger version of the Fennec Shand character, an assassin and mercenary played by Ming-Na Wen who debuted on “Mandalorian.” In rising a spot in the rankings from the previous week, the show’s demand expressions were up 10.4%, giving it 52.5 times average demand. “Clone Wars” was the No. 7 overall TV series on Parrot’s rankings.

Netflix’s perennially popular “Stranger Things” slid to No. 3, with 47 times average demand and expressions down 5.9%. It was No. 8 on the overall TV show list.

Meanwhile, Netflix’s “Cobra Kai” jumped a spot to No. 4 on the digital originals chart, with 42.6 times average demand as fans prepare for the Jan. 1 premiere of the third season, which Netflix recently announced it had moved up a week from Jan. 8. The first two seasons, which premiered on YouTube Premium, have been available on Netflix since the summer. Demand expressions for “Cobra Kai” were down 5.5% for the week.

Hulu’s “Animaniacs” revival slipped a spot to No. 5 with a 9.2% dip in demand expressions and 41.3 times average demand.

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A “digital original” is Parrot’s term for a multi-episode series in which the most recent season was first made available on a streaming platform such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu or Disney+.

After “Mandalorian,” The No. 2 overall TV series was “Saturday Night Live,” with 91.4 times average demand. “SpongeBob SquarePants” slipped to No. 3 overall with 89.7 times average demand.

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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, based on the firm’s proprietary metric called Demand Expressions, which measures demand for TV content in a given market 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. Results are expressed as a comparison with the average demand for a TV show of any kind in the market.