‘F9’ Now Available for On Demand Viewing

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment July 30 released F9: The Fast Saga for home viewing via video on demand digital rental at $19.99.

The ninth film in the “Fast & Furious” series and 10th in the franchise (including Hobbs & Shaw), the film has earned $165 million at the domestic box office since its June 25 premiere, and $624.5 million worldwide, having opened as early as May 19 in some territories.

The story involves Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) leading his crew on another worldwide adventure to stop an evil scheme by his brother (John Cena).

The film’s digital and disc sellthrough dates have not been announced.

Hulu Adds NFL Network to Live TV Channel Line-Up

NFL Network is now available to Hulu’s Live TV subscribers in the $64.99 a month subscription plan.

The addition of NFL Network to Hulu’s 75-plus live TV channel line-up  brings live NFL preseason games, exclusive live NFL regular season games, studio shows such as “Good Morning Football” and “NFL Total Access,” as well as “NFL GameDay Morning” and “NFL Now,” and original series such as “A Football Life,” “NFL 360” and “America’s Game.”

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Hulu has also launched a sports add-on featuring six sports networks with a collection of live games, recent highlights, sports news and events. For $9.99 per month, Hulu’s Live TV subscribers can add NFL RedZone, Outdoor Channel, Sportsman Channel, MAVTV Motorsports Network, TVG and TVG2 to their live TV line-up.

“With the launch of NFL Network and our new Sports Add-on, Hulu + Live TV continues to be the ultimate destination for sports fans to watch thousands of hours of live and on­demand sports programming,” Reagan Feeney, Hulu SVP of Live TV content programming and partnerships, said in a statement. “Starting today, viewers can bring even more game day action to their living room with live games and events, original shows, motorsports, horse racing and much more.”

“We are excited to bring NFL Network and NFL RedZone to Hulu + Live TV subscribers,” Hans Schroeder, EVP and COO of NFL Media, said in a statement. “One of our top priorities as a League remains broadening the distribution platforms for NFL content, and so we’re very pleased to bring our lineup of award-winning shows and live games to Hulu’s live subscribers.”

Gravitas Ventures Bows Doc ‘Finding Kendrick Johnson’ in Theaters and on VOD

Gravitas Ventures has acquired rights to distribute the documentary Finding Kendrick Johnson, directed by Jason Pollock, in the United States and Canada.

It bowed in 20 theaters around America and on VOD starting July 30.

The filmmaker cracks a major case dealing with the racially charged murder of a teen, according to a Gravitas release.

Kendrick Johnson was found dead rolled up in a gym mat in his high school in 2013. Since then, the state of Georgia has ruled his death an accident. Two independent autopsies have proven otherwise.

“The case of Kendrick Johnson is one of the most important in U.S. history,” Pollock said in a statement. “K.J. deserves justice, and hopefully our film will help his family get one step closer to that outcome.”

The documentary is narrated by Hollywood veteran Jenifer Lewis, who also serves as an executive producer. Other executive producers and producers include actor Hill Harper and Space Jam: A New Legacy director Malcolm D. Lee.

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“This is the most important film I’ve ever worked on,” Lewis said in a statement. “What this family has gone through is unspeakable but we must speak it so the public knows the truth. Jason has done a brilliant job on this vital story of injustice.”

Pollock’s previous film, Stranger Fruit, cracked the Mike Brown case open by releasing never-before-seen footage of Mike the night before he was killed by a police officer. Pollock promises that Finding Kendrick Johnson will also have evidence which will crack the case open, according to the press release.

“We have found a lot of new game changing evidence in K.J.’s case, and we’re looking forward to the public seeing everything and making up their own minds,” said Pollock in a statement.

“Gravitas is proud to partner with Jason Pollock again on his latest film, which now more than ever, reinforces the notion that justice and accountability should be vigorously pursued, no matter how long it takes,” Brendan M. Gallagher, Gravitas Ventures EVP and general counsel, said in a statement.

‘Black Widow’ Lawsuit Could Upend Talent Compensation Agreements

NEWS ANALYSIS — Scarlett Johansson’s breach-of-contract lawsuit — filed July 29 against Walt Disney Studios and Marvel Entertainment regarding the studio’s decision to simultaneously release Marvel Studios’ Black Widow in theaters and on the Disney+ subscription streaming platform — could upend Hollywood contracts with actors, producers and distributors.

Johansson alleges Disney made Black Widow available to Disney+ subscribers as a $29.99 Premier Access add-on in an effort to reduce its compensation to the actor, which was in part based on box office take. She reportedly is the highest-grossing and highest-paid actress in Hollywood.

Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff (aka Black Widow) character has been a mainstay within the Marvel Cinematic Universe since first appearing in Iron Man 2 in 2010. With the character getting her own solo movie, the financial stakes on the release were high. So high, Disney pushed back the theatrical debut three times from an original May 2020 launch due to the COVID-19 pandemic effectively shuttering much of the exhibition business.

From the gist of the lawsuit, Johansson claims she was assured Disney would follow an exclusive theatrical release strategy for Black Widow. With such a strategy in place, the studio delayed due to the pandemic, then instead chose to release the title concurrently in theaters and on its branded PVOD platform, Premier Access, a decision that earned the studio more than $60 million in incremental revenue in addition to the $80 million opening domestic box office.

Disney’s first-ever disclosure of Premier Access revenue suggested the haul was a fiscal home run. Disney first went with hybrid distribution for the Labor Day 2020 release of Mulan. That was followed in March this year with Raya and the Last Dragon and Cruella in May. Action adventure movie Jungle Cruise bows in theaters and Premier Access July 30.

However, Black Widow’s domestic box office take plummeted 68% in its second week, and another 55% in its third, a drop that led the National Association of Theatre Owners to blast Disney’s hybrid release strategy. The film also has yet to receive a release date in China, suppressing its potential international box office take. And, with a pristine copy made available online by Disney+, Black Widow quickly became the most pirated movie of the pandemic era, according to Torrent Freak. Many industry watchers also pointed to these factors as reasons MCU fans weren’t returning to theaters for multiple viewings of the film — a phenomenon typically required for a blockbuster film to sustain its box office legs.

Thus far, Black Widow has earned $159 million domestically and $160 internationally for a global total of $319 million, making it the second-lowest earner of the 24 MCU movies, on par with some of its earlier releases before 2012’s The Avengers made it a must-watch franchise, and certainly the lowest earner of any movie the character has appeared in, which previously was the aforementioned Iron Man 2 at $621 million.

In addition, Disney announced Black Widow would be available for digital purchase Aug. 10, giving it just a 32-day theatrical window, well short of the 90 days of a traditional theatrical release, and even the 45 days of newer agreements between studios and theaters that emerged during the pandemic. The announced Sept. 14 Blu-ray and DVD release date is just a 67-day window.

Apparently, Johansson’s contract with Disney/Marvel didn’t include a provision for PVOD distribution (and additional compensation). While Disney called the lawsuit “sad and distressing,” the litigation could redefine theatrical distribution in the age of COVID. Johansson’s lawsuit also has reportedly inspired other actors in Disney hybrid releases, such as Emma Stone of Cruella, and Emily Blunt of Jungle Cruise, to consider filing lawsuits of their own against Disney.

“Given how the pandemic has affected how movies are now released today, the court is going to look very closely at the contract between Ms. Johansson and the film company,” Krenar Camili, an attorney in Little Falls, N.J., told Esquire Digital. “If it was indeed a breach of contract for them to release the movie in both formats at the same time, then Johansson will need to prove that she suffered damages by their doing so.”

Indeed, Disney disclosed that Johansson had been paid $20 million for Black Widow, trying to undermine the actor’s claim of fiscal harm. Johansson’s agent, CAA, criticized Disney for disclosing their client’s financial agreement.

“They have shamelessly and falsely accused Ms. Johansson of being insensitive to the global COVID pandemic, in an attempt to make her appear to be someone they and I know she isn’t,” Bryan Lourd, co-chairman of the Creative Artists Agency, said in a statement.

But to Aron Solomon, head of strategy at Esquire Digital, the case centers on how actor/producer/director compensation agreements are written in the SVOD/pandemic era. Specifically, Solomon believes the case, regardless of the outcome, will see studios more narrowly define talent’s compensation dependent upon a movie’s distribution strategy.

“While Disney’s comments have far more of a theatrical rather than legal impact, they set the stage for a pandemic-centered battle Royale,” Solomon wrote. “Essentially, this case has the potential to redefine the entire notion of what ‘industry standard’ is today and what it could become tomorrow.”

Cinedigm Launches Three Channels on Sling TV

Cinedigm has placed three of its channels on Sling TV: the family friendly Dove Channel, pop culture channel CONtv and documentary channel Docurama.

Docurama is a streaming service dedicated to bringing audiences acclaimed, cutting-edge documentaries. Popular titles include Anthony Bourdain: A Cook’s Tour, Beatles: How The Beatles Changed The World and Kobe: The Life of a Legend.

The Dove Channel is a source for family friendly content, feature films and television titles suitable for all audiences. It features comedy classics such as “The Little Rascals,” young adult series “H20: Just Add Water” and “Dance Academy,” and faith favorites such as The Ultimate Gift.

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CONtv: carries a diverse range of film and television series focusing on the action/thriller, horror, anime and sci-fi/fantasy genres, including films featuring superstars such as Milo Gibson and Peter Facinelli (Gangster Land) and anime classics such as “Yu-Gi-Oh!”

Sling TV delivers live and on-demand television to compatible internet-connected devices through monthly subscriptions starting at $35 per month. Through its genre-based “Extras,” customers can pick their personal channel lineup.

“Since its inception, Sling TV has been at the forefront of live TV streaming,” Jennifer Soltesz, VP of business development and strategy at Cinedigm, said in a statement. “Working with Sling TV not only allows us to reach a diverse, new audience, but it gives us a partner with the same forward-thinking drive. We can’t wait to show these new customers the amazing networks Cinedigm has to offer.”

Report: Disney+ Hotstar to Top 46 Million Subs by End of Year

Disney ended its most-recent fiscal period with 103 million Disney+ subscribers. Of that total, 33% originate from India as a result of Disney’s $71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox, whose assets included the Hotstar streaming service, which features localized content and live cricket matches.

Now, new data from Media Partners Asia projects the Disney+ Hotstar platform will generate 46 million subs by the end of the year. Together with Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, the three platforms will total 89 million combined subs, or 80% of the Indian market. That compares with 57 million subs at the end of 2020.

MPA’s The Future of India’s Online Video Market: Focus on SVOD projects there will be 193 million subscription streaming video subs in India by 2026 — a small percentage considering the country is the second most populous with more than 1.3 billion residents.

The report brief suggests Indian SVOD revenue will top $1.8 billion by 2026, with ad-supported VOD totalling $2.4 billion in revenue.

India has a big mobile consumer base, topping 500 million handsets, with more than 1 billion video screens. Netflix, which launched Indian service in 2016, recently bowed a mobile-only subscription plan in the region. The SVOD pioneer reportedly trails Prime Video and Disney+ Hotstar in subscribers.

Disney Partners With Postable to Promote ‘Luca’ Home Entertainment Release

Disney is partnering with Postable to promote the transactional digital, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc, Blu-ray and DVD release of Pixar Animation’s Luca on Aug. 3.

To help market the retail release, Disney and Pixar are celebrating International Friendship Day by partnering with the online postcard snail mail sender to help friends say “ciao.” Movie fans can send physical postcards featuring movie characters Luca, Alberto and Giulia, with four greeting options each showing appreciation for companionship, adventure and acceptance while supplies last.

To send a Luca postcard, consumers can visit https://www.postable.com/luca, type a personal message, add their name and address, and Postable will mail the postcard free of charge.

Disney has also released a new Luca in-home trailer, which includes two alternate openings, deleted scenes and related bonus features.

Set in a seaside town on the Italian Riviera, Luca is a coming-of-age story about a young boy experiencing an unforgettable summer. Luca shares his amazing adventures with his friend Alberto. But their fun is threatened by a deeply held secret: They’re sea monsters from a world below the water’s surface.

Disney first released the erstwhile theatrical release June 18 exclusively to Disney+ subscribers for free.

Weekend Box Office: Disney Takes PVOD ‘Jungle Cruise’

Walt Disney Studios is re-entering controversial PVOD waters July 30. The studio will begin streaming the newly released feature film Jungle Cruise into Disney+ subscriber homes as a $29.99 add-on while simultaneously launching the ride-based action adventure, starring Dwyane Johnson and Emily Blunt, in theaters nationwide.

Disney’s last hybrid release — Black Widow — performed well its first weekend, generating $80 million at the domestic box office while generating another $60 million in lucrative Premier Access revenue to dominate the opening weekend.

Then things changed.

Second-week box office revenue plummeted, and this week the Marvel Cinematic Universe hero’s lead star, Scarlett Johansson, filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit against Disney over the PVOD release.

Black Widow has generated more than $319 million at the global box office, including $159 million domestically.

In a widely derided statement, Disney characterized the litigation as “sad and distressing,” even publicly questioning Johansson’s alleged “callous disregard” for the ongoing pandemic and its global impact on Hollywood, movies and distribution.

Johansson claims PVOD denied her the maximum financial compensation from a traditional theatrical window release, a contractual predicament Disney hopefully avoided with the Jungle Cruise stars. Following the fallout over the first-ever Premier Access revenue disclosure, it’s doubtful Disney will go public with Cruise digital sales.

Regardless, the movie has generated positive buzz on social media and among critics, and features the popular Johnson and Blunt, who is coming off a big success in A Quiet Place Part II. Industry estimates eye the movie generating upwards of $35 million over the three-day weekend. Pre-pandemic, Jungle Cruise was expected to generate $50 million on its opening weekend.

Other new releases include The Green Knight, A24’s medieval fantasy film starring Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander and Joel Edgerton, among others, and Stillwater, featuring Matt Damon as a rough and tough American trying to rescue his daughter in a foreign country.

The films are projected to generate from $2 million to $7 million on the low end, and $12 million on the high end in ticket sales.

‘Mortal Kombat’ Wins Round Two On Disc Sales Charts

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment’s Mortal Kombat remake spent its second consecutive week atop 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 July 24.

The week’s top newcomer was Lionsgate’s Spiral: From the Book of Saw, the ninth entry in the “Saw” horror franchise. It sold 78% as many units in its first week as Mortal Kombat did in its second. Spiral earned $23.2 million at the domestic box office. Blu-ray Disc formats accounted for 69% of its total sales (33% from 4K UHD and 36% from regular Blu-ray).

The No. 3 overall disc seller was Warner’s Space Jam, still riding a boost from the recent release of remake Space Jam: A New Legacy. It was No. 11 on the Blu-ray chart.

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The No. 4 overall disc seller, and No. 3 on the Blu-ray chart, was MGM’s Wrath of Man, the Jason Statham revenge actioner distributed on disc by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Warner also had the No. 5 overall seller in Godzilla vs. Kong, which was No. 4 on the Blu-ray chart in its sixth week.

The No. 5 Blu-ray seller, and No. 6 on the overall disc chart, was another newcomer, CBS and Paramount Home Entertainment’s Star Trek: Discovery — Season Three.

Another newly released TV show on disc, Lionsgate’s The Walking Dead: The Complete Tenth Season, was No. 8 on both charts.

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The Media Play News rental chart the week ended July 25 had Wrath of Man in first place for a second week.

Spiral debuted as the No. 2 rental, pushing Mortal Kombat to No. 3.

Rounding out the top five were the Redbox-exclusive Out of Death at No. 4, and Paramount’s The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run at No. 5.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 7-24-21
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 7-25-21
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 7-24-21
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 7-24-21

Season 7 of ‘The Flash’ Running to Blu-ray and DVD Oct. 12

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release The Flash: The Complete Seventh Season on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Oct. 12.

The collection includes all 18 episodes from the 2021 season of the CW series that chronicles the adventures of Barry Allen (Grant Gustin), who uses his super-speed powers to become the superhero known as the Flash, and his friends as they protect Central City from a variety of threats.

The cast also includes Candice Patton as Iris West-Allen, Danielle Panabaker as Caitlin Snow and Killer Frost, Carlos Valdes as Cisco, Tom Cavanagh as Wells, Jesse L. Martin as Joe West, Danielle Nicolet as Cecile, Kayle Compton as Allegra and Brandon McKnight as Chester.

Extras include the show’s 2020 DC FanDom panel, plus the featurettes “The Journey Ends: Carlos and Tom Cavanagh” and “Never Alone: Heroes and Allies.” Exclusive to the Blu-ray and DVD will be deleted scenes and a gag reel.

The season is also available to own from digital retailers. The Blu-ray will include a code for a digital copy of the season, redeemable in the United States only.

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