Disney Sets Home Release Dates, Extras for ‘The Lion King’ Remake

The live-action-style, computer-animated remake of The Lion King is coming home in October.

The film, the year’s No. 2 movie with a $534 million domestic box office haul, will be released on Digital 4K Ultra HD on Oct. 11 and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and regular Blu-ray Disc on Oct. 22, the Walt Disney Co. announced Sept. 16.

The home release comes with over an hour of bonus features that showcase the technology behind the savanna and provide a closer look at the film’s music.

Directed by Jon Favreau, the summer blockbuster’s home release is highlighted by “The Journey to The Lion King,” a three-part documentary that explores the film’s creation. It features visits to the Playa Vista production facility where talent, including Donald Glover (voice of Simba) interpret the original animated classic’s iconic music; discussions with Favreau and team about the technology they used create photorealistic animals and environments; and filmmaker and cast reflections on the story.

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Extras also include “More to Be Scene,” featuring layer-by-layer progressions of some of the film’s key moments; a lyric video for “Never Too Late” by Elton John and music video for “Spirit” by Beyoncé; sing-alongs to the film’s other songs; and a feature on the “Protect the Pride” campaign, which focuses on protecting and revitalizing the lion population.

Consumers who order The Lion King digitally in advance will gain access to “Perfecting the Pride,” a feature highlighting the filmmakers’ research trip to Africa.

The digital version also includes an extra that conveys the importance of the dung beetle, both in the film and in real life, on the African savanna.

In The Lion King, Simba idolizes his father, King Mufasa, and takes to heart his own royal destiny. But Scar, Mufasa’s brother — and former heir to the throne — has plans of his own. The battle for Pride Rock ultimately leads to Simba’s exile. With help from a curious pair of newfound friends, Simba will have to figure out how to grow up and take back what is rightfully his. The all-star cast includes Glover as Simba, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter as Nala, James Earl Jones as Mufasa, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar, Seth Rogen as Pumbaa and Billy Eichner as Timon.

Disney says The Lion King “will be packaged and released in several different formats, ensuring each member of your family can view the film on a variety of different devices with no worries. Viewers can watch the film in Digital 4K Ultra HD, HD and SD, and bring home a physical copy of the film which will be released as an Ultimate Collector’s Edition (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and Digital Code), a Multi-Screen Edition (Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Code) and a single DVD.”

The original The Lion King is traditionally animated and was released in 1994. It sold 32 million VHS videocassettes and, years later, another 12 million DVDs and nearly 4 million Blu-ray Discs.

Confusing the Consumer

Remember when things were simple? The only way to watch movies at home, on demand, was on videocassette. Yeah, they were clunky. The pause function was a flickering joke. And you had to bring them back to the place you rented them from or risk incurring an onerous “late fee.”

But you knew what you were getting.

These days, it’s very, very confusing. We have three discs formats — DVD, Blu-ray Disc, and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. The content that’s becoming available on 4K Ultra HD truly is impressive. And yet you can’t watch the movie in true 4K Ultra HD unless you 1) have a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player and 2) own a 4K Ultra HD TV — and even then, you need to make sure it’s got HDR for the truly optimum viewing experience.

Complicating matters further is the presence of cheap players that promise an “upscaled” UHD experience. How many consumers have bought these, lured by the “UHD” acronym on the box, only to find they don’t even play 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Discs? Instead, they play standard Blu-ray Discs — and the difference is negligible, particularly since (and this is just my hunch) a fair number of these inexpensive players are being bought by people who haven’t yet upgraded to a UHD TV.

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And, oh yes, let’s not forget the buzz around 8K, with a flood of 8K Ultra HD TVs already on the market.

On top of that, Bill Hunt, editor of The Digital Bits, fears studios are sending “mixed signals.” “Disney on Sept. 10 released 10 4K Ultra HD titles on the same day — classics like Aladdin, the new Aladdin remake, and a number of beloved Pixar titles. Many readers of The Digital Bits are asking, ‘At $30 each, who can afford to buy them all?’ This happens almost monthly.

“Meanwhile, Amazon is having constant pissing-matches with the studios, which means preorders for major BD and 4K titles are disabled.”

Those in our industry with a vested interest in the transactional side of the home entertainment business — which includes every single one of the major studios — have a tough job. They need to promote digital transactions, which they see as their best hedge against complete domination by the streamers. But they also need to continue promoting physical media, since that’s still where the bulk of the revenue lies.

And 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, the newest and hottest kid on the block, is a natural for Hollywood’s promotional muscle.

I know, from speaking with many of my friends, that even though most of them now have a 4K Ultra HD TV, they don’t have a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player.

So the first thing we, as an industry, need to do is partner with the CE industry to really promote the hell out of the 4K Ultra HD players. We also need to do what we can to stomp out those dreaded “upscale” Blu-ray players — available, sadly, not just from obscure Chinese manufacturers, but also from some of the most respected names on the CE side.

Next, we need to simplify and clarify the message: Buy the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray because it’s far and away the best way to watch that movie.

We also need to play up the permanence of physical media. The ownership proposition, once so important in the early days of DVD, has been beaten down by digital (who hasn’t lost songs, or movies, on their Apple accounts?). On top of that, it’s not really clear what the consumer is buying — the movie, or merely rights to watch that movie.

Consumers may no longer feel compelled to build massive movie libraries. But everyone still wants to have at least a modest collection of favorites, and despite steady growth the fact remains that digital sales continue to be dwarfed by streaming and even packaged-media sales — simply because consumers don’t see the value proposition.

The value of a physical disc is clear — and that’s why, if properly marketed, 4K Ultra HD sales should have plenty of room for growth.

Uncertainty, and Another Key Departure, at Fox Home Entertainment

Five months after the Walt Disney Co. closed its acquisition of 20th Century Fox, the fabled film studio’s home entertainment division lumbers on in a protracted state of uncertainty.

New releases are marketed and promoted, often with publicity events to stir up consumer interest. Just last week, the DVD release of FX’s Mayans M.C.: The Complete First Season was celebrated with a party at Heroes Motors in Los Angeles.

And yet it’s hardly business as usual. No one seems to have any idea of how long their jobs will last — or whether they will be offered employment at Disney. Questions, too, remain about the fate of the division. Will it continue to operate as a standalone entity within the Walt Disney Co., or will it be integrated into Disney’s own home entertainment unit, which recently changed its name to Disney Direct-to-Consumer & International.

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“No one knows anything,” said one staffer who asked not to be identified. “There have been no discussions, no contracts – we’re all just doing our jobs without knowing for how long we’re going to have jobs.”

Mike Dunn

Mike Dunn, for years the top home entertainment executive at 20th Century Fox, was among a handful of high-ranking studio executives to leave the studio on March 21, a day after the acquisition closed.

A short time later, Janice Marinelli, head of home entertainment at Disney, set up an office at Fox, reportedly to acquaint herself with the studio’s home entertainment team and see how they operate.

In July, veteran division publicist James Finn, who recently had become co-head of marketing, quietly announced his departure in an email to friends and colleagues. “For nearly 20 years I’ve called Fox my home,” he wrote. “Thank you to my colleagues, my mentors, my family, my friends and my team for making it so much fun.”

Emails sent to his Fox account receive this reply: “James Finn is no longer with Twentieth Century Fox. For immediate assistance please contact Keith Feldman (keith.feldman@fox.com). Thank you.”

Feldman had been Dunn’s top lieutenant, appointed as president of worldwide home entertainment in February 2017 in the wake of his boss’s promotion to president of product strategy and consumer business development.

Feldman did not respond to emails.

James Finn

Finn’s departure was followed on  July 16 by the sudden, and unexpected, departure of Marinelli, a 34-year Disney veteran.

Marinelli had been vetting 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment team members, insiders told Media Play News, and her exit only intensified their confusion over their fate.

A Disney publicist subsequently told Media Play News that Julia Howe, who had been co-head of marketing, with Finn, for 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, was now sole head of marketing.

Two weeks later, it was revealed that Howe, too, would be leaving, with a departure date set for some time in November.

Howe had been considered one of Fox’s rising stars and one of the home entertainment sector’s top marketers.

Howe did not return calls or emails.

Julia Howe

Word of Howe’s departure came just one day after Disney CEO Bob Iger on a quarterly earnings call expressed surprise, and dismay, at a fiscal downturn at Fox — specifically, a third-quarter operating loss of $170 million, the opposite of a projected $180 million operating profit.

“One of the biggest issues we faced in the quarter was the performance of the Fox film business,” Iger said on the call. “It was well below what it had been and well below what we thought it would be when we did the acquisition.”

This week, Media Play News received a press release from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment for the Oct. 8 release, on DVD and Blu-ray Disc, of Vikings: Season 5 Vol. 2.

The boilerplate description of the studio has no mention of the Walt Disney Co. It reads exactly as it did before the acquisition: “Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, LLC (TCFHE) is a recognized global industry leader and a subsidiary of Twentieth Century Fox Film.”

Netflix Has Now Delivered 5 Billion Rental Discs

Netflix executives Aug. 26 took time out from prepping for a streaming war with Disney+ to celebrate a milestone: The delivery of 5 billion DVDs since the launch of its legacy disc-by-mail rental service more than two decades ago.

“The most heartfelt thank you to our incredible members that have been with us for the past 21 years of DVD Netflix,” the company announced on Twitter. “Five billion discs delivered is a huge milestone and we owe it all to our amazing members and team members.”

The 5 billionth disc: Paramount’s Rocketman.

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The milestone was preceded by a countdown at Netflix headquarters.

Netflix pioneered its celebrated monthly subscription service with DVDs back in April 1998, targeting Blockbuster and other traditional video rental stores with the promise of easier, cheaper transactions and no dreaded late fees, long the bane of video-renting consumers.

Less than 10 years later, Netflix shipped its billionth rental DVD around the same time it launched its streaming service.

Netflix last month (July) reported that its disc rental service ended the quarter with more than 2.4 million subs, compared to 2.9 million last year. The packaged media segment continues to be profitable, however, generating more than $45.8 million in contribution profit on revenue of $76.2 million.

Netflix currently operates 17 distribution centers to ship DVDs to subscribers — down from 50 at the height of the DVD rental business.

According to Netflix’s disc-rental website, DVD.com, the first disc that was shipped was Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice. At first, Netflix was a money-losing proposition. According to the Weminoredinfilm.com website, “At the end of 1998, Netflix posted an $11 million loss. A year later, it was up to $29.8 million. The year after that, $57.4 million, by which point the great dot-com bust was underway.”

In 2000, Netflix founder Reed Hastings offered to sell the fledgling disc-rental service to Blockbuster, the then-mighty video rental chain, for $50 million. No dice. Blockbuster subsequently launched its own disc-by-mail rental service.

That same year, Ted Sarandos, now chief content officer and Hastings’ top lieutenant, appeared at a trade show in Indian Wells, California, with Mitch Lowe, another early Netflix executive.

They explained the service’s concept — holding up a white plastic mailbox — and talked up its growing popularity, with 300,000 subscribers.

By 2005, Netflix was shipping an average of 1 million discs a day.

And in 2013, Netflix said it had shipped 4 billion discs.

Redbox, meanwhile, says it has rented 6 billion discs since launching its rental kiosks 17 years ago. Redbox now has more than 40,000 kiosks, many of them outside (or inside) supermarkets, drug stores and Walmarts.

‘Rocketman’ Returns to Dodger Stadium

Paramount Home Entertainment on Aug. 25 hosted a Rocketman-themed night at Dodger Stadium to commemorate Elton John’s historic concert there in 1975 — and to promote the film’s Aug. 27 release on Blu-ray disc and DVD. Bernie Taupin, Elton John’s long-time lyricist, and Jamie Bell, who portrays Taupin the film, were there to celebrate.  Rocketman has been available for digital purchase since Aug. 6. The film grossed nearly $100 million at the domestic box office, making it the second successful rock ‘n’ roll movie (after Bohemian Rhapsody) over the past nine months to appear in theaters and then become available for home viewing.

‘Toy Story 4,’ From Disney, Pixar, Gets Home Release Dates

Toy Story 4, the year’s No. 4 movie at the box office, will become available for home viewing in October, the Walt Disney Co. announced Aug. 22.

The animated film, with a domestic gross of $425 million, will arrive on digital Oct. 1, with a Blu-ray Disc, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and DVD release following on Oct. 8.

The fourth film in the “Toy Story” franchise is a sequel to 2010’s Toy Story 3, which took in $415 million in North American movie theaters. The franchise was launched in 1995 with Pixar’s original Toy Story, the world’s first fully computer-animated feature film. Disney purchased Pixar in 2006.

Toy Story 4 features an all-star voice cast that includes Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Jordan Peele, Keanu Reeves and Joan Cusack.

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The home editions of Toy Story 4 contain more than an hour of bonus features celebrating Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the franchise’s other iconic characters. Extras includes deleted scenes such as an alternate ending; a new featurette that chronicles Woody and Buzz’s friendship through the years; studio stories shared by members of the Pixar team; a nostalgic look back at the creation and first storyboard screening of Toy Story with filmmakers; and a documentary on the pioneering efforts of Pixar artists who created the sets, characters, look and feel of the original film.

In Toy Story 4, Woody (Hanks) has always been confident about his place in the world, and that his priority is taking care of his kid, whether that’s Andy or Bonnie. So, when Bonnie’s new craft-project-turned-toy Forky (voiced by Tony Hale) calls himself “trash,” Woody decides to teach Forky how to embrace being a toy. But a road-trip adventure, including an unexpected reunion with his long-lost friend Bo Peep (voiced by Annie Potts), shows Woody how big the world can be for a toy. New additions to the cast of animated characters include carnival prizes Ducky (voiced by Keegan-Michael Key) and Bunny (Peele) bring a new level of fun to the film.

The fourth installment in the “Toy Story” series will be packaged several ways for home consumption. Toy Story 4 arrives home a week early on digital 4K Ultra HD, HD and SD with two exclusive extras, including a deleted scene, “Bonnie’s Playtime.”

A week later, fans will be able to buy physical copies of the film on disc, also in various incarnations: as a 4K Ultra HD combo pack (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and digital code), a Blu-ray combo pack (Blu-ray, DVD and digital code) and a single DVD.

Also available is a digital bundle of all four films.

Disney+ Sets Key International Launch Dates, Pricing

The Walt Disney Co. on Aug. 19 said its much-ballyhooed new subscription streaming service, Disney+, will launch in Canada and the Netherlands on Nov. 12, the same day it launches in the United States.

The international rollout continues a week later with a push into Australia and New Zealand.

Initial pricing is similar to the United States, where the service will bow at what some analysts call a “Netflix-killing” low price of $6.99 a month.

In Canada, monthly subscriptions will cost CAD$8.99 per month or CAD $89.99 per year. In the Netherlands, subscriptions are 6.99 euros per month, or 69.99 euros per year.

In Australia, Disney+ will cost AUD$8.99 per month or AUD$89.99 per year and in New Zealand, the subscription price will be NZD$9.99 for a month and $99.99 for a year.

The Walt Disney Co. said more international territories will be announced on later dates, and that it expects to stream content through Disney+ in most major global markets within two years.

Disney also announced it has struck global agreements with most major platforms to distribute the Disney+ app across partner mobile and connected TV devices.

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At launch, consumers will be able to subscribe to Disney+ directly or via  in-app purchase and start streaming from the following partner platforms and devices (dependent on country):

  • Apple (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Apple TV, and fully integrated with the Apple TV app; customers can subscribe to Disney+ via in-app purchase);
  • Google (Android phones, Android TV devices, Google Chromecast and Chromecast built-in devices);
  • Microsoft (Xbox One);
  • Sony / Sony Interactive Entertainment (PlayStation 4 and all Android-based Sony TVs); and
  • Roku (Roku streaming players and Roku TV models).

Last week, Disney+ said it has tapped former Luke Bradley-Jones, a former Sky executive, as SVP, Direct to Consumer, and general manager of Disney+ for Europe and Africa, starting in 2020.

Also last week, Disney struck a new distribution deal with cable giant Charter Communications that “contemplates Charter’s future distribution of Disney’s streaming services, including Hulu, ESPN+ and the soon-to-be-launched Disney+,” according to a press release issued by Charter.

Disney+ is targeting 60 million to 90 million subs globally by 2024.

Women in Home Entertainment: Navigating the Channels of Change

The gender equality gap continues to make headlines, and with good reason: Nearly a century after the original Equal Rights Amendment was first introduced in Congress, there is still a great divide in both pay and leadership positions between men and women.

In a study released last month by Equal Measures 2030, a U.K.-based NGO that collects data on gender equality with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other private-sector organizations, the United States comes in at No. 28 on their gender index, which purports to take into account such factors as equal representation in powerful positions and gender pay gaps. And a World Economic Forum report concludes that even the best countries for working women don’t pay them fairly.

Hollywood continues to get its fair share of knocks. A recent Forbes report notes that the 10 highest-paid actresses in 2018 earned less than 30 cents for every dollar brought in by the top 10 male actors.

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For the second year, Media Play News is saluting the top women in home entertainment, with a special focus on the 10 “captains” who are driving the business — as selected by a panel of studio executives, key retailers, journalists and other industry leaders.

Our “captains” span a broad range of the home entertainment spectrum. We have several executives who focused on all forms of transactional VOD, a couple who are just involved with the physical disc, and one whose sole focus is streaming. And then there’s Andrea Downing, from PBS Distribution, who oversees the company’s entire home entertainment slate, from streaming to TVOD and disc.

Here’s what they have to say …

ANDREA DOWNING

CO-PRESIDENT, PBS DISTRIBUTION
Downing co-leads all facets of distribution worldwide. Her purview includes OTT channels, SVOD, transactional and physical goods, theatrical, international sales, and three direct-to-consumer premium services — PBS Masterpiece, PBS KIDS and PBS Living. Downing joined PBS in 2001. Education: B.A., Business, Michigan State University.

What do you do? I co-lead PBS Distribution, the leading for-profit media distributor for the public television community. We have a broad portfolio of businesses including three premium OTT channels, SVOD, transactional and physical goods, theatrical and international.

What satisfies you the most about your job? The people that I get to work with every day. They are smart, passionate about our mission, and instrumental to the success of our business.

What challenges you? Growing the business in a continuously changing media environment in the context of the larger public media system and its mission.

What was your first job and what did you learn from it? My first job after college was on a shipping dock at a picture frame factory. I learned that hard work gets recognized and new opportunities will present themselves if you’re open and leaning into your work.

How did you get where you are? It’s been a winding path from Chicago to Washington, D.C., but hard work and over-delivering have led me to where I am today.

Did you have a mentor along the way? Are you mentoring anyone? I’ve had some fantastic bosses and colleagues who I have learned from, and I’m currently participating in DEG’s Canon Club’s 4 Cups of Coffee program as a mentor. The most beneficial things I learned from others is to lead in a way that helps others excel and demonstrate that I’m willing to work as hard as I’m asking others to.

What’s the most memorable moment of your career? Jan. 1, 2009, when we officially formed PBS Distribution as a separate LLC with the goal of increasing revenue for video distribution for public television. It was such an exciting moment to put a stake in the ground and go after our vision.

How do we further the workplace goal of diversity and inclusion? We have a deliberate and considered approach to recruiting a diverse talent pool when we’re hiring for a new position. And we provide development and promotion opportunities to ensure that we have a broad range of voices across the organization and at our leadership level.

What advice do you have for anyone seeking a career in entertainment? There are many career paths in entertainment and all of them will require you to embrace change. No matter what path you’re on, work hard and deliver results!

If you could go back in time, who would you most like to have lunch with — and why? I would have lunch with Sarah Breedlove Walker, the first American woman to become a self-made millionaire. The first in her family to be born free, she was orphaned at age 7, widowed by 20, and overcame incredible sexism and racism to build an empire and become a generous philanthropist.

How do you spend your free time? Outside of spending time with my family, I enjoy pretty much anything physical! I like a variety of activities from biking and running to boot camp and paddle boarding, to my current favorite, solid core.

KATHLEEN GALLAGHER

EVP AND MANAGING DIRECTOR — NORTH AMERICA, UNIVERSAL PICTURES HOME ENTERTAINMENT
Gallagher leads UPHE’s physical home entertainment business, including sales, operations, finance, customer marketing and distribution partnerships across the United States and Canada. She assumed her present position in March 2018, after serving as SVP of sales, customer marketing and category management for UPHE’s U.S. physical sellthrough and rental businesses. She started at Universal in 2000 as assistant category manager and served in various sales, category management and customer marketing positions. Gallagher began her career in 1999 at Sony Pictures Entertainment (at the time, Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment).

What do you do? I lead UPHE’s North American physical home entertainment business, which encompasses a team of highly talented, passionate and inspiring specialists across sales, operations, finance, customer marketing and distribution partnerships.

What challenges you? Our industry as we know it continues to evolve markedly along with our consumers. To keep our category dynamic and thriving, we must keep pace with this evolution and continually identify ways to innovate in step with our retail and distribution partners and vendors.

How do we further the workplace goal of diversity and inclusion? Working for such a highly inclusive company as Universal puts me in an exceptional position to contribute to an extraordinary workplace culture based solely on talent and merit as well as to serve effectively as a steward of diversity and inclusion across the ranks of UPHE.

What advice do you have for anyone seeking a career in entertainment? While the entertainment industry is a unique business, I believe that being successful in any career emanates from within each of us. Aspire to be an expert in your field — be passionate, innovative and collaborative, and conquer your missteps. Know your industry, your business, your products and your competition — challenge yourself every day and, more importantly, have fun.

KARIN GILFORD

GM, MOVIES ANYWHERE
Gilford oversees all day-to-day operations of Movies Anywhere, the cloud-based entertainment service that brings the film libraries of five studios together in a virtual one-stop movie-watching shop. Gilford and her team brought the website and apps to market in October 2017. She manages product design, product development, engineering and strategic planning. Education: M.B.A., University of Southern California; B.S., Business Administration, California State University at Northridge

What do you do? I run Movies Anywhere, an app that makes owning, collecting and watching movies easier.

What satisfies you the most about your job? Working with my team. I love solving problems, developing ideas, and launching product features together.

What challenges you? The innovator’s dilemma. It always comes into play in digital media at a traditional media company. Everyone can see the disruption happening but it is scary to be the one to get ahead of it by risking a current business model. That is why I admire Bob Iger and the big moves he has made to modernize Disney.

How did you get where you are? By leading with nice, doing what I say I will do, and getting stuff done. Also by being true to myself and what makes me happy.

Did you have a mentor along the way? Are you mentoring anyone? I always look at my most recent leadership as potential mentors — they see you at your current career stage and you can learn so much by watching them in relatable situations. I have been very lucky in that regard, especially at Disney, where I have had leaders including Anne Sweeney, Paul Lee and Janice Marinelli as mentors. I don’t have a mentee assigned to me at the moment, but I always try to nurture talent when I see it, especially women who are really starting to come into their power in the workplace. I always look for ways to share what I have learned.

What’s the most memorable moment of your career? When I landed my first job out of business school. I was determined to work in entertainment, in the emerging digital space (it was 2000!), on the west side of L.A., and I had to be able to wear jeans to work. At that time, everyone thought I was crazy. But I landed my dream job at a music start-up in Santa Monica and never looked back. I have built my career over the past 19 years from that moment.

How do we further the workplace goal of diversity and inclusion? By making sure there are more women at the top, right now. I believe that things are changing and will fundamentally change with Gen Z. They don’t seem to have the same hangups about race, gender or sexuality that were passed down to us. They just seem comfortable with themselves and each other. In the meantime, women at the top is the only solution right now. I believe women don’t have time to overthink who we want to “be around” at work beyond who is going to meet us at our level, and efficiently kick ass to accomplish our goals.

What advice do you have for anyone seeking a career in entertainment? Work hard, and be nice to people. This is a relationship-driven business and a town where people work very hard to get their vision realized. It is a work-hard, play-hard culture where no one has time for slackers. You should absolutely crush it at work, but always treat people with respect and find balance between your work, outside passions and family.

If you could go back in time, who would you most like to have lunch with — and why? My old boss/mentor, Dave Goldberg. He passed away unexpectedly and much too soon. I always knew how much I relied on him. Even if we didn’t talk all the time, I knew he was there. I would do anything to have one more lunch with him, especially to tell him my son was going to NYU this fall. I had both of my kids while I worked for him and credit my success as a working mom to his guidance. I remember telling him that when my son got into college, I would feel like I made it.

How do you spend your free time? I exercise almost every day. I never pass up a chance to travel. And I am constantly plotting and planning ways to spend more time with my amazing group of girlfriends.

HILARY HOFFMAN

EVP, GLOBAL MARKETING, UNIVERSAL PICTURES HOME ENTERTAINMENT
Hoffman oversees strategic marketing and business strategy for UPHE and its distributed lines worldwide across new-release, catalog and TV properties for both physical and digital, focusing on the complete product lifecycle. Her responsibilities encompass defining go-to-market strategies and overall approach for consumer engagement, including developing and leveraging new platforms and technologies, as well as direct-to-consumer initiatives to drive profitable growth across all formats. Education: B.A., Media Arts and Business, University of Arizona.

What do you do? I work with an amazing group of talented people who are committed to finding creative ways to drive consumer engagement around the world.

What satisfies you the most about your job? I am inspired by the people I work with every day. I work in an amazing business with an incredible group of people who are passionate, inspiring and creative.

What challenges you? The challenges are obvious; the fun comes from finding creative solutions to those challenges — solutions that excite consumers and drive an emotional connection to the movies they love.

How do we further the workplace goal of diversity and inclusion? I consider myself very fortunate to work for a company like Universal where an executive’s measure of talent, success and accomplishment is never viewed through a gender-specific lens.

CINDY HOLLAND

VP, ORIGINAL CONTENT, NETFLIX
Holland is a 16-year Netflix veteran responsible for acquiring and launching original series. She was named to the 2018 Time 100 list of the most influential people, and according to the magazine, “in less than a decade, Cindy has helped orchestrate one of the biggest entertainment revolutions since the invention of the television.” Education: B.A., Political Science with Honors, Stanford University.

What do you do? I oversee English-language scripted series, and nonfiction content of all languages, for Netflix, the world’s leading internet entertainment service with more than 151 million memberships in over 190 countries.

What satisfies you the most about your job? It has been very satisfying to see our membership grow from less than 1 million DVD-by-mail members to more than 151 million streaming members globally, and I truly enjoy supporting artists as they create memorable programming that our members love.

What challenges you? I am challenged every day with how to scale our teams and the work they do as our business grows, while still maintaining an intimate, creative, and supportive environment for both our employees and artists.

What was your first job and what did you learn from it? My first job in entertainment was reading pre-publication book manuscripts and evaluating them for purposes of movie adaptation. I learned how to determine what stories can translate well from page to screen.

How did you get where you are? By following my interests, and having healthy doses of discipline and focus.

Did you have a mentor along the way? Are you mentoring anyone? I had several mentors, but the producer Paula Weinstein helped me realize that I had the skills to succeed, and she instilled in me confidence in my own ideas. I hope that I am a mentor for those I work closely with; in addition, I have a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles Women in Entertainment mentee, a program I highly recommend.

What’s the most memorable moment of your career? I hope it hasn’t happened yet! But the most recent was our final sendoff of “Orange Is the New Black,” which included cast from all seasons, and hundreds of true #OrangeForever fans at an event in New York City.

How do we further the workplace goal of diversity and inclusion? We have to dedicate ourselves to constant improvement — in hiring inclusively across all aspects of what we do and supporting their success, in commissioning stories which give voice to the historically underrepresented, and in celebrating their achievements.

What advice do you have for anyone seeking a career in entertainment? Follow what interests you and pursue it relentlessly (while knowing it is OK if those interests evolve), have confidence in yourself and your ideas, and don’t give up.

If you could go back in time, who would you most like to have lunch with — and why? Eleanor Roosevelt — such a fascinating and underestimated historical figure.

How do you spend your free time? I usually spend the little free time I have either riding my bicycle up a hill, spending time with my family and pets, and/or watching sports.

JULIA HOWE

HEAD OF MARKETING, 20TH CENTURY FOX HOME ENTERTAINMENT, DISNEY DIRECT-TO-CONSUMER & INTERNATIONAL
Howe is responsible for the go-to-market and consumer engagement strategies for 20th Century Fox’s new-release, catalog and TV businesses. Howe previously was co-head of marketing for Fox prior to its acquisition by Disney; before that, she worked for Fox in the United Kingdom and France, and for Universal Pictures in the United Kingdom. She also held positions at The Associated Press and Branded, a London brand and communications consultancy. Education: B.S. (Honors), International Business and Modern Languages, Aston University, U.K.

What do you do? I oversee global marketing for home entertainment. I am responsible for our go-to-market strategy, P&L and campaign execution for all new-release movies, TV shows and our library business.

What challenges you? Managing a team through industry disruption and the uncertainty of the Disney/Fox merger. The deal was announced in December 2017 and so for the past 18 months, the focus has been on keeping our team spirit and ensuring that we build an environment where people still want to turn up and do their best work every day for our production and distribution partners.

What was your first job and what did you learn from it? My first job was working for a company called Sundancer, which managed the rights for “Tintin.” The business had a small network of shops throughout the world, produced merchandise and licensed the IP to third parties. I learned the importance of brand values and brand integrity and an ability to turn my hand to everything from marketing to accounting to installing a new point-of-sale system in all our retail stores.

How did you get where you are? By not taking a fully traditional career path and being prepared to mix things up and put myself out of my comfort zone. I have switched from client side to agency, from B2C to B2B and back and enjoyed every experience.

Did you have a mentor along the way? Are you mentoring anyone? Mary Daily (president of marketing and distribution at Paramount) recruited me into 20th Century Fox in London in 1996 and got me started in this amazing business. Since then I have been lucky enough to work for Mary another two times, most recently here in L.A. at Fox. She has been an amazing mentor and advocate. I have been lucky enough to mentor some really bright executives as part of Fox’s mentoring scheme, which is really rewarding.

What’s the most memorable moment of your career? The day we released the #deadpole TV spot for the first Deadpool movie. The Internet and fans went wild. It was a unique spot, directed by Tim Miller, starring Ryan Reynolds that truly made the Blu-ray Disc the star of the spot like we’d never seen before in a home entertainment campaign.

How do we further the workplace goal of diversity and inclusion? Although every individual recruiting at every level in an organization can make diversity and inclusion a priority, in big corporations it is absolutely critical that diversity and inclusion starts at the top and is properly embedded in the values of the organization. True commitment from the CEO/chairman down has to be in place.

What advice do you have for anyone seeking a career in entertainment? Be prepared to work hard and go the extra mile. It is very competitive and employers can afford to take only the best. Stay on top of industry changes and keep your skills relevant. Keep working your network as it is a small world.

How do you spend your free time? I dabble in a lot of sports in an amateur fashion! I am a member of the Fox triathlon team and so we have a fun group that is always up for a bike ride or run and sometimes a sea swim! I try to play tennis a couple of times a week. In winter I am obsessed by skiing and finding powder snow!

KIM OVERALL

EVP, CONSUMER INSIGHTS AND INNOVATION, SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT
Overall is responsible for identifying and developing the studio’s capabilities to become a more consumer-centric, data-driven organization. Her group utilizes data analytics and consumer insights, enabling SPHE and SPTD to make better-informed decisions to satisfy consumer demand for content. Prior to her current position, Overall was SVP of SPHE’s United Kingdom, Northern Europe and EMEA partnerships. She joined SPHE in 2008 as the managing director for Australia and New Zealand.

What do you do? I seek to understand consumer, audience and viewer content behavior, to enable us to map content to where audiences are, based on what is relevant to them.

What satisfies you the most about your job? There are so many new and different ways to deeply understand what drives consumer and audience engagement with content. Exploring and discovering how they enable us to target the right person at the right time with the right offer is my current obsession, and I love it!

What challenges you? Finding new ways to solve for the ever-changing landscape we operate in.

What was your first job and what did you learn from it? I worked in a gas station, pumping gas in New Zealand when I was 13, and it opened my eyes to how many different people from different walks of life are all around you!

How did you get where you are? Curiosity and a desire to learn, wherever it took me in the world!

What’s the most memorable moment of your career? There are so many moments that were in equal parts scary and rewarding — every time I packed up and moved to a new job in a new country I never quite knew what to expect, but each adventure opened my eyes to things that I needed to learn and understand.

How do we further the workplace goal of diversity and inclusion? Genuinely understand who is sitting at the table and how their perspective will challenge what we think we know, and actively seek out their opinion. No one person can solve for the big challenges around us, but embracing our different perspectives will get us closer to figuring it out.

What advice do you have for anyone seeking a career in entertainment? Go for it! Figure out how your talents and super powers connect with, and enhance, the industry.

JESSICA SCHELL

EVP AND GM, FILM, WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT GROUP
Schell has global responsibility for all operations related to the physical and digital sales, marketing, distribution, finance and administrative functions of the studio’s home entertainment releases, including new theatrical titles and catalog films. She also identifies and engages new technology marketing opportunities and platforms. Prior to joining Warner, Schell spent nine years at NBC Universal, most recently as EVP of worldwide new media and digital entertainment for Universal Pictures. Education: M.B.A., Harvard Business School; B.A., American History and Literature, Harvard College.

What do you do? I work with a fantastic team of experts in consumer and trade marketing, promotions, publicity, sales, distribution, manufacturing, pricing, analytics, data, media and content creation. My job as GM is to leverage all of their skills to maximize WB films’ success in home markets while navigating a rapidly shifting competitive and technical environment.

What satisfies you the most about your job? The balance of business analytics and creative. I also love managing a team and having the opportunity to contribute to building a positive culture.

What challenges you? The distribution landscape has undergone a dramatic change, which requires not only continuous strategic calibration in how we manage our content in terms of windows, pricing, deals and how we use our marketing dollars, but also that we fundamentally up our game in serving consumers. That means how we think about fulfilling the needs of fan communities, creating extensions and ancillary products with our IP, tailoring marketing messages and content experiences to make them more meaningful to audiences.

What was your first job and what did you learn from it? After college I joined Disney’s Strategic Planning group, which meant that as a 21-year-old I entered a three-year analyst program in an advisory group to the CEO of Disney. I worked with many different business units and operational functions to assess major strategic decisions, like starting new digital cable networks. It was intense and stressful and I both loved it and was glad when it was time to go back to school! I had the opportunity as a very junior employee to work with incredible senior executives who had powerful visions of where they wanted to take the businesses they ran, and my job was to gather facts and comps and run analysis and try to quantify those visions into business plans and hard numbers. Which of course isn’t always feasible, but it grounded me in a philosophy of truth seeking: building up a point of view based on discovery and analysis. And I saw the power of being able to articulately defend a viewpoint by explaining how you came to your conclusions.

How did you get where you are? It certainly hasn’t been a linear path, but there have been underlying common themes throughout. I’ve always been interested in how changes in technology open up opportunities for new types of content and creative business models.

Did you have a mentor along the way? Are you mentoring anyone? Mentorship is critical. Adam Grant articulates it so well in his book Give and Take. It’s in all of our best interest to be and to foster a workplace of “Givers”— people who actively try to help others succeed without directly thinking about what’s in it for themselves. Equally critical, he says, is to be smart and efficient about it. It’s not the quantity of the time you put in but the impact of your actions. Making a critical introduction can take five minutes but be life changing for someone. There have been so many people who have mentored me, in big ways and small. They’ve developed organically, and they have fallen into two categories. First, the people I have worked for or with who have gone the extra mile to bring out potential they saw in me or just given me good advice. That’s more of a one-way mentorship that I try to give back through being there as a sounding board for and supporter of my current and former teams or younger people I’ve been impressed with when our paths have crossed professionally. And then there is what I’d call mutual mentorship — the friends who have grown up beside me in their careers. From my first officemate at Disney to business school classmates to fellow VPs at Allen & Co … we’ve been there for each other over the years as our careers go through ups and downs, providing emotional or practical advice and referring headhunter calls!

How do we further the workplace goal of diversity and inclusion? Pushing to always make sure we are considering diverse candidates for every role. Scrutinizing existing teams to find diverse candidates who can take on stretch roles and providing them with support and coaching to make the leap to the next level.

What advice do you have for anyone seeking a career in entertainment? There is such a diversity of roles, so try to get some clarity around what function appeals to you and fits your skills and go after it. If you want to be a creative, don’t take a job in film finance. The business and creative sides converge more the more senior you get, but you have to have some passion for the journey along the way. And then this may seem contradictory, but you have to get your foot in the door however you can and take it from there. It’s a tough industry to switch into later in your career, because who doesn’t want to be in the entertainment industry?

If you could go back in time, who would you most like to have lunch with — and why? What I’d give for an hour over a sandwich with my 20-year-old self, knowing what I know now. I could give that young woman some pretty great advice.

How do you spend your free time? Focusing on family, health and friendships. Or whatever my very opinionated 3-year-old daughter tells me we’re doing.

AMY JO SMITH

PRESIDENT AND CEO, DEG: THE DIGITAL ENTERTAINMENT GROUP
Smith heads the leading trade group for the home entertainment industry. The DEG promotes entertainment platforms, products and distribution channels that support the movie, television, music, consumer electronics and IT industries. A former White House communications advisor, Smith since 1997 has led the industry-funded organization through the industry’s wholesale evolution from videocassettes to DVDs, Blu-ray Discs and today’s digital age. Education: B.A., Communications, University of Pennsylvania Annenberg School of Communications.

What do you do? The DEG serves as the industry’s leading advocate to grow the digital media marketplace focusing on bringing movies and television programming to consumers at home and on the go. We provide forums for our members to get valuable information to help them make informed business decisions. We are also committed to supporting products in market with an aim of increasing consumer awareness and adoption as well as improving the consumer experience by creating efficiencies in the digital supply chain.

What satisfies you the most about your job? Working with smart people and being part of market transitions that affect how we all enjoy content.

What was your first job and what did you learn from it? I worked on political campaigns and quickly learned that everyone must jump in to do any task. You can learn just from being in the room and absorbing what is going on.

Did you have a mentor along the way? Are you mentoring anyone? Many of the DEG board members have mentored me. I’m particularly grateful for Bob Chapek, Mike Dunn, Steve Einhorn and Ron Sanders, who were always generous with their time and honest with me about how I could make the DEG more meaningful for the industry. That’s why we launched the Canon Club — because we recognize the importance of mentorship and would like to broaden the opportunities for our members.

What’s the most memorable moment of your career? Working in the White House and being in the center of the free world.

How do we further the workplace goal of diversity and inclusion? While we need to hire the right, qualified people for the job, we also should be sensitive about building a balanced team.

If you could go back in time, who would you most like to have lunch with — and why? I’d love the chance to sit with Jack Welch and discuss his management style and career highlights.

How do you spend your free time? I enjoy playing board games, betting on football games, reading biographies, playing pickleball and listening to podcasts on crime.

LEXINE WONG

SENIOR EVP, WORLDWIDE MARKETING, HOME ENTERTAINMENT, SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT
Wong leads Sony Pictures Television’s global home entertainment marketing team, charged with delivering marketing campaigns across a wide range of product from Sony Pictures Entertainment’s studio labels, spurring consumer engagement and driving transactions throughout the product lifecycle. Specific areas of oversight include consumer and brand strategy, creative advertising, media and digital, PR and strategic partnerships, content development for digital/physical product, and new product development.

What do you do? I focus on finding innovative ways to use data-driven strategies to create targeted, shareable content that will help consumers engage with our films and television properties in meaningful ways.

What satisfies you the most about your job? The fact that nothing stays the same! A constantly changing, dynamic marketplace provides challenges as well as opportunities.

What was your first job and what did you learn from it? My first career was in advertising, and getting things done quickly was what scored brownie points. The Group Director didn’t know my name, but she used to say, “Give it to the fast one,” which caused my account supervisor to give me the nickname “Cheetah.” It gave me a chance to work on a lot of interesting, high-profile projects.

How did you get where you are? By being curious and jumping in wherever I could. Back in the day, you didn’t have to “stay in a lane.” Being multi-faceted in all areas of the business allows you to better connect the dots and equips you with skills to be nimble in the face of challenges and changes.

Did you have a mentor along the way? Are you mentoring anyone? I have been fortunate to have many mentors over the course my career, working hard to foster a positive relationship with them and learn as much as I could. Because of those experiences, I’ve made it a priority to mentor as many others along the way. It’s always incredibly rewarding to see people grow in their careers and become effective leaders.

What advice do you have for anyone seeking a career in entertainment? When you are first starting out, try to meet as many people who will give you the time of day. Informational meetings often lead to job interviews. Do your homework and always be prepared to ask questions. Everyone loves to give advice!

If you could go back in time, who would you most like to have lunch with — and why? My grandmother on my mother’s side, who I never had the chance to meet. She was from Hiroshima, Japan, came to the U.S. and had seven children, was put into an internment camp during World War II and then took her whole family back to Hiroshima, where she stayed until she passed away at a relatively young age. Hearing the stories of her perseverance has always been an inspiration to me, so I’d love the chance to hear all her stories.

How do you spend your free time? Aside from my family and my kid’s crazy sports schedules, I recently made a resolution to do something fun and new as often as possible, whether it’s learning the cha cha cha, finding a new place to hike, going to a play or listening to live music. It’s all about experiences!

Click here for the 2019 list of Women in Home Entertainment

DEG: Home Entertainment Spending Posts 7% Gain in First Half of 2019

Consumers spent nearly $6 billion on home entertainment in the second quarter of 2019, a 7% gain from the same period last year.

The gain came despite a nearly 10% year-over-year decline in the box office value of movies that became available for in-home viewing during the quarter, according to DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.

Granted, the rising reliance of subscription streaming services like Netflix on original content, mostly digital TV series, has made comparisons between home entertainment spending and the box office earnings of movies a bit less relevant.

But the disparity still suggests a growing number of consumers prefer to enjoy their entertainment at home.

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For the first six months of the year, consumer spending on home entertainment came in at just over $12 billion, a 6.7% uptick from the first half of 2018.

The box office value of films released to the home during that same period, meanwhile, fell more than 15.5% to just over $5 billion.

As expected, increases in consumer spending on streaming were largely responsible for the gains in overall home entertainment spending.

DEG estimates consumers spent nearly $7.5 billion on subscriptions to Netflix, Amazon and other streaming services in the first half of this year, a 22% increase from the first half of 2018. Spending in the second quarter, which ended June 30, rose more than 23% to $3.89 billion.

The only other category to post an increase in consumer spending during the first half of 2019 was electronic sellthrough (EST), or the digital purchase of movies and other content, which generated an estimated $1.2 billion in consumer spending, up 3.3% from the first six months of 2018.

Breaking the numbers apart, DEG says first-half spending on theatrical EST was up nearly 8%, while spending on video on demand for theatrical movies rose more than 9%. Total transactional VOD spending in the first half of the year came in at just over $1 billion, a decline of nearly 4% from the prior year’s first half.

Combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc sales for the first half of 2019 amounted to an estimated $1.5 billion, down about 21% from the first six months of 2018. In the second quarter, disc sales generated $716 million in revenue, down 19.3% from the second quarter of 2018.

Combined disc and digital ownership for the half-year was $2.75 billion, down 11.8% from the previous year. Content ownership in the quarter was $1.27 billion, down 12.1% from the same period a year ago.

L.A. Retailers Roll Back Prices in Amazon ‘Mrs. Maisel’ Emmy Push

An Amazon promotion for the original series “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” was too marvelous for its own good.

Police shut down a promotion in which a Chevron gas station in Santa Monica, Calif., offered gasoline for 30 cents a gallon, the same price gas sold for in 1959, the year in which “Mrs. Maisel” is set, according to the local ABC affiliate.

The promotion, on the first day of voting for the annual Emmy Awards, was one of 28 similar price rollbacks at retailers around Los Angeles.

Barbershops, candy stores, theaters, hotels, bakeries and other participating businesses all participated in Amazon’s “Maisel Day” by scaling back their prices to 1959 levels. One user commented on the show’s Twitter page that the See’s Candy Store, which was selling one-pound boxes of chocolate for $1.50, was sold out; the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood was offering rooms for $40 a night. Art’s Deli in Studio City was selling corned beef on rye sandwiches for 99 cents, while the Hollywood Improv comedy club was selling tickets for just $1.

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The promotion was heavily promoted on social media, with Amazon offering a “Mrs. Maisel” filter on Snapchat

“Mrs. Maisel” has been nominated for 20 Emmy Awards.