‘Supercon’ to Hit Theaters, Digital on Same Day

The comedy Supercon, about a washed-up former child star who teams up with a rag-tag group of fellow has-beens and comic book artists to rob a comic book convention, will be released theatrically as well as digitally on April 27, with a DVD release following on June 5.

The film is distributed by Archstone Distribution through Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.  Directed by Zak Knutson, Supercon stars Ryan Kwanten (“True Blood”), Maggie Grace (the Taken franchise, “Lost”) and Mike Epps (The HangoverResident  Evil: Apocalypse), with special guest John Malkovich.

The digital and DVD editions of Supercon come with two commentary tracks, one with director Knutson and production designer Freddy Waff and the second with Knutson, the editor and the writers.

Supercon has a run time of approximately 98 minutes and is rated ‘R’ for strong crude sexual content throughout, pervasive language, and drug use.

Paramount Readies Jerry Lewis Film Collection for June 12 Release

Paramount Home Media Distribution has assembled a collection of 10 classic movies starring the late comedian Jerry Lewis and will release the 10-disc set on DVD only on June 12.

The Jerry Lewis 10-Film Collection has no suggested list price, but features the same 10 movies as a similar set Paramount released in 2005 called The Legendary Jerry Collection, which is only available from third-party sellers for $389.99.

The marquee title is 1963’s The Nutty Professor, which celebrates its 55th anniversary this year. Considered by many to be Lewis’ most memorable film, The Nutty Professor has Lewis portraying a socially awkward professor who invents a serum that turns him into the handsome but obnoxious Buddy Love. The film  was included on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 funniest American films of all time and was selected for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2004.

The 10-DVD set also includes the following:

  • The Stooge (1951)—Features one of Lewis’ earliest pairings with Dean Martin as a musical-comedy duo
  • The Delicate Delinquent (1956)—A “teenage terror” is recruited for the Police Academy
  • The Bellboy (1960)—Lewis plays a friendly but clumsy bellboy in this slapstick classic
  • Cinderfella (1960)—Lewis’ take on the classic Cinderella story
  • The Errand Boy (1961)—Paramount enlists a bumbling Lewis to spy on their productions in this hilarious film studio comedy
  • The Ladies Man (1961)—A girl-shy man finds work in a women-only hotel with uproarious results
  • The Disorderly Orderly (1964)—Lewis wreaks havoc in a private rest home
  • The Patsy (1964)—Lewis directs and stars as a novice recruited to replace a big-time comedian
  • The Family Jewels (1965)—Lewis directs and plays seven distinct roles in this family inheritance farce

Lewis died on Aug. 20, 2017, at the age of 91. His final film was released the year before: Max Rose, a drama that also stars Kevin  Pollak, Kerry Bishe, Dean Stockwell and Claire Bloom.

Lewis plays the title character, an aging jazz pianist who discovers that his wife of 65 years may have been unfaithful to him. The discovery sends him on a journey through the past as he seeks to find out the identity of the mysterious suitor.

 

One Thing Leads to Another

Getting people to buy movies and TV shows continues to be a hard sell.

Physical disc sales continue to decline, a problem partially of our own making. If we’re not excited about new releases, how can we expect consumers to be?

One studio executive recently stated, in public, that no one should be spending more than 5% of his or her time on the physical side of the business. I don’t get that — disc sales may be down, but they still generate a lot more revenue than digital sales.

Retailers, too, are snubbing the category — which only serves to accelerate the decline. The big box stores are devoting fewer and fewer square feet of floor space to DVDs and Blu-ray Discs, and the hardware end is suffering as well — despite the promise of UHD. At the local Walmart, I couldn’t find a single Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc player — unless you count a $59.95 Samsung machine that won’t play Ultra HD Blu-ray Discs, promising, instead, to “upscale” regular Blu-ray Discs.

And we wonder why consumers are disinterested — and confused.

Digital sales, meanwhile, have yet to take off because consumers simply don’t see the value proposition — not when a single new release costs more than a month of Netflix.

Back in the waning days of video rental, the industry banded together for a generic “awareness campaign.” Whether it worked or not is unclear, as DVD came along to save the day.

But I do believe it’s time to resurrect that idea, especially now that we have a gleaming white knight — Movies Anywhere — with so much promise, so much potential.

Movies Anywhere makes the digital movie purchase proposition simple, easy and appealing. Collectively, we need to spread the word.  Thanks to Big Data and analytics, targeted advertising has never been easier. Won’t someone take the lead and rally everyone together to really promote this marvelous new service in a big, big way?

We also need to recognize that just like back in the day when the video business was purely physical, there’s a rental component as well as a purchase component. Subscription streaming — which we in the industry call SVOD — is on everyone’s tongue. Transactional video-on-demand, or TVOD, is where the money’s at, and we need to promote both aspects of the transactional business and use digital movie rentals to spur digital movie sales.

Amazon and Redbox (with its recently launched Redbox On Demand service) both do a good job of this, giving consumers the option to stream a movie or buy it — but, again, more promotion is needed. Studios need to advertise their new releases and play up their availability not just for digital purchase but also for digital “rental,” as both Amazon and Redbox do on their respective websites.

Real-life example: A year ago, my kids had no idea they could buy or rent movies online — they either watched Netflix or YouTube, or ran down to see if I had gotten any new releases on disc.

Now, they’re at the point where they go online and rent movies all the time, even older ones. My youngest even rented the first Austin Powers movie for $2.99 from Redbox On Demand even though we have a physical copy in our library. He was simply too lazy to walk down stairs.

A week later, he bought all three, and they’re now living happily ever after on Movies Anywhere.

Our industry needs to take a big-picture look at TVOD and promote the whole ball of wax, not just the purchase option. Invariably, inevitably, one thing is going to lead to another.

‘La Casa De Papel’ Tops Digital Originals Chart, Parrot Analytics Says

The Spanish limited series “Money Heist” (“La Casa De Papel”) vaulted to the No. 1 spot on the digital originals chart for the week ended April 14, a week after it debuted at No. 3.

The crime heist drama posted a 21% spike in popularity, according to Parrot Analytics’ Demand Expressions data.

Netflix bought global distribution rights to the series earlier this year and re-edited the original run of nine episodes into 15 different untitled episodes, released as two seasons. Netflix released the second season on April 6 with a runtime of 40 to 50 minutes instead of the original 70 minutes per episode.

“Stranger Things,” also a Netflix series, slipped to No. 2 on the top 10 digital originals chart, with demand dropping 17.9%.

A third Netflix digital original, “On My Block,” slipped to No. 3 as demand fell a modest 5.4%. One week earlier, the coming-of-age series – which debuted on Netflix on March 16 – shot up to No. 2 from No. 5, with a 12.5% demand increase.

New to the digital originals chart is “Trailer Park Boys,” which debuted at No. 8, on the heels of a new season bowing on Netflix on March 30.

Meanwhile, on the overall TV series chart, “Spongebob Squarepants” and “The Walking Dead” remain at No. 1 and No. 2 for the third consecutive week. Demand for “Spongebob” was only down a fraction of 1%, but demand for “The Walking Dead” was off 7.5%.

Moving up to No. 3 on the overall TV series chart was “American Idol,” with demand up 7.7%. A week before, “American Idol” posted an 8.4% increase in demand and moved up the chart to No. 4 from No. 5.

New to the top 10 the week ended April 14 was NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” bowing at No. 4. The series posted the highest bump in demand from the prior week, 63%. It’s prior-week ranking was No. 17.

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. Parrot Analytics uses a proprietary metric called Demand Expressions, which measures global demand for TV content 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.

 

‘Red Sparrow’ Coming Out on Disc May 22

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment has set a May 22 release date for Red Sparrow, a suspense-driven spy drama starring Jennifer Lawrence.

The film will be released on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray Disc, and DVD.

As of April 15, Red Sparrow has earned $46.5 million in U.S. theaters.

Lawrence portrays Dominika, a former ballerina forced to enter Sparrow School, a secret government program that thrusts her into a treacherous espionage game between Russia and the CIA. She emerges trained as a lethal agent, but is trapped in a world she desperately wants to escape.

The film was directed by Francis Lawrence (Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Mockingjay Parts 1 & 2) and features a supporting cast that includes Joel Edgerton, Jeremy Irons, Matthias Schoenaerts, Mary-Louise Parker, Charlotte Rampling and Joely Richardson. Bonus material takes viewers inside the making of the film, exploring source material with the author, cast and director commentary, deleted scenes and more.

All three disc releases comes with director commentary and deleted scenes (with optional commentary by director Lawrence). The 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray Disc also include the following:

  • “A New Cold War: Origination and Adaptation”
  • “Agents Provocateurs: The Ensemble Cast”
  • “Tradecraft: Visual Authenticity”
  • “Heart of the Tempest: On Location”
  • “Welcome to Sparrow School: Ballet and Stunts”
  • “A Puzzle of Need: Post-Production”
  • Movies Anywhere Digital Code

    

Kino Lorber Appoints New PR Chief

David Ninh has joined arthouse film distributor Kino Lorber as director of press and publicity, the company announced April 17. He starts April 23. Ninh will report to Wendy Lidell, Kino Lorber’s SVP of theatrical and non-theatrical distribution and acquisitions, and CEO Richard Lorber (for corporate communications).

Ninh previously worked at Kickstarter as senior communications specialist overseeing press and publicity outreach for crowdfunding company’s Film and Arts & Culture categories (including Art, Performance, Publishing, Music, Food and LGBTQ communities). He also worked on company launches such Kickstarter’s DRIP funding subscription tool for creators and helped manage the company’s partnership with the Sundance Institute to collaborate with filmmakers on launching campaigns. As Kickstarter’s first film media relations executive he advised filmmakers, artists and creators on engaging and building community during the initial funding stages of many notable film and arts projects.

Before Kickstarter, Ninh spent four years at the Film Society of Lincoln Center as a member of the publicity team, promoting the organization’s year-round programming, theatrical new releases and repertory programming. He worked on the organization’s film festivals, including the New York Film Festival and New Directors/New Films, and led press initiatives for special retrospective film series such as “Fifty Years of John Waters: How Much Can You Take?” and “Foxy, the Complete Pam Grier.”

Prior to his tenure at Lincoln Center, Ninh was an account executive at PMK-BNC, working on major national media and corporate accounts. Earlier, he was an entertainment and style staff writer for The Dallas Morning News.

Kino Lorber recently opened Sophie Fiennes’s Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami, Rüdiger Suchsland’s Hitler’s Hollywood, Bill Gunn’s restoration of Personal Problems, and Rachel Israel’s Keep the Change.

With a library of 2,000 titles, Kino Lorber has been a leader in independent art- house distribution for 35 years, releasing over 30 films per year theatrically under its Kino Lorber, Kino Classics, Zeitgeist and Alive Mind Cinema banners. In addition, the company brings more than 350 titles annually to the home entertainment and educational markets through disc and digital media releases. Kino Lorber handles releases in ancillary media for Zeitgeist Films, Carlotta USA, Adopt Films, Raro Video, and others, placing physical titles through all wholesale, retail, and direct-to-consumer channels as well as direct distribution to all major and many new VOD platforms.

Toys ‘R’ Us, Once a Big Seller of Discs and Games, Winds Down Operations

Toys ‘R’ Us is winding down operations, even as a last-minute attempt to save the struggling toy chain – once a significant player in the DVD/Blu-ray Disc and video game sellthrough market – is gaining a fair amount of press attention.

The Wall Street Journal on April 13 reported that billionaire toy maker Isaac Larian, founder of Bratz dolls maker MGA Entertainment Inc., said he had submitted a bid of $890 million for U.S. and Canadian Toys ‘R’ Us stores.
The offer came after a public crowdfunding campaign to salvage parts of the distressed chain “failed to gain much traction,” the Journal said, noting that Larian has also “dismissed suggestions that the bid was a publicity stunt.”

Meanwhile, Toys ‘R’ Us has employed “sign twirlers” to stand at high-traffic intersections near some of its stores, promoting the liquidation at prices up to 30% off.

At an Oceanside, California, Toys ‘R’ Us – one of the older stores, with side-by-side entrance and exit doors and a metal divider separating those coming in from those coming out – the toy shelves were surprisingly full Monday night.

But the movie and video game department – set off in a corner, store-within-a-store style – the cupboards were nearly bare.

The video game section, in particular, was virtually depleted, with catalog games for the big three consoles priced at 15% off the list price.

Discs are even more deeply discounted, at 20% off. But the selection was a shadow of what it used to be, and the rack was about half empty.

Still awaiting purchase: a plethora of budget cartoons and family movies as well as a smattering of marquee titles, including Walt Disney combo packs of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and the live-action Beauty and the Beast, each stickered at $29.99: Universal Pictures’ The Fate of the Furious (pre-discount sticker price $19.99); and Warner’s Justice League (also $19.99, even before the discount $5 less than what Amazon is charging).

Larian launched a $1 billion crowdfunding plan last month to save at least a portion of the retail chain. So far the effort has raised $59,000, on top of the $200 million he said he already raised toward the goal from himself and traditional investors. He had set a deadline of May 28 to raise the funds for the bid.

Toys ‘R’ Us was founded by Charles Lazarus in 1957, nine years after he launched a children’s furniture store, to which he gradually added more and more toys. Toys ‘R’ Us subsequently expanded into a chain and ultimately operated around 800 stores in the United States and roughly the same number abroad.

The chain was so successful that it birthed sister chains Babies ‘R’ Us and Kids ‘R’ Us. In 2001, Toys ‘R’ Us opened a 110,000-square-foot flagship store in New York’s Times Square at a cost of $35 million.

But with the rise of discount chains like Walmart and Target Stores, with their sizeable toy departments, toy specialists found it increasingly hard to compete. The rise of the Internet and the surge in e-commerce made things even more difficult. K·B Toys and FAO Schwarz were among the casualties (although Toys ‘R’ Us picked up both chains’ remains), while Toys ‘R’ Us limped along, closing stores and negotiating with toy makers for better deals.

A $7.5 billion leveraged buyout in 2005 by Bain Capital, KKR & Co. and Vornado Realty Trust loaded Toys ‘R’ Us with debt, weakening the chain’s position even further.

After years of trying to find a buyer, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States on Sept. 18, 2017, and has also filed for bankruptcy protection in Canada.

On March 14, 2018, Toys ‘R’ Us announced that all of its stores in the United Kingdom would close. The next day, it was announced that the U.S. operations of Toys ‘R’ are us were going out of business as well and all 735 of its remaining U.S. locations would be shuttered.

Lionsgate Sets Home Release Date for ‘An Ordinary Man’

Lionsgate has set a June 12 digital and DVD release date for An Ordinary Man, currently available only on demand. The film stars Oscar winner Ben Kingsley as a notorious war criminal and former general, on the run from international authorities, who is suddenly oved to a new hideout.

There, he develops a relationship with the maid who looks after him, only to make a drastic decision once he discovers she is actually an agent hired to protect him.

An Ordinary Man was written and directed by Brad Silberling, the director of City of Angels and A Series of Unfortunate Events. The DVD carries a suggested list price of $19.98.

EMA at NAB

The Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) had a strong presence at this year’s National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) convention in Las Vegas. The trade association hosted a Digital EMA Forum on April 10 that was attended by more than 80 leaders in OTT video. The forum focused on the benefits and challenges of adoption of specifications for exchanging information in the digital supply chain.  Amazon Video’s Erol Kalafat; Darcy Antonellis, CEO of Vubiquity; Jason Pena of Google Play; and Craig Seidel of MovieLabs addressed the group.

Netflix’s ‘On My Block’ Sees Big Spike in Demand, Parrot Analytics Data Shows

Netflix’s “Stranger Things” solidified its hold on the No. 1 spot on the top 10 digital originals chart for the week ended April 7, with a nearly 7.3% spike in demand, according to Parrot Analytics’ Demand Expressions data.

A new Netflix digital original, “On My Block,” shot up to No. 2 from No. 5 the previous week, with a 12.5% demand increase.

The coming-of-age series was created by Lauren Lungerich,  Eddie Gonzalez, and Jeremy Haft. The first season, with 10 episodes, debuted on Netflix on March 16.

The series has been hailed by critics and fans alike for its storylines, acting and cast, featuring young black and Latino actors such as Sierra Capri, Jason Genao, Brett Gray, Diego Tinoco, Ronni Hawk, and Jessica Marie Garcia.

Starting with “13 Reasons Why” a year ago, Netflix has made a conscious attempt to reach teens and young adults with a string of new series.  Last fall, the streaming service released the second season of “Stranger Things” and continued this year with high-profile additions like “The End of the F…ing World,”  “Everything Sucks” and “On My Block.”

“On My Block” and “Alexa & Katie” (No. 40 on the digital originals chart the week ended April 7), in particular, represent Netflix’s ambition to dominate the sanitized teenage television category with realistic and heartfelt dramas.

New to the top 10 digital originals chart is the Spanish limited series “Money Heist” (“La Casa De Papel”), which bowed at No. 3.  Netflix bought global distribution rights to the heist drama earlier this year and re-edited the original run of nine episodes into 15 different untitled episodes, released as two seasons. Netflix released the second season on April 6 with a runtime of 40 to 50 minutes instead of the original 70 minutes per episode.

The top of the overall TV series chart remains mostly unchanged from the prior week, with “Spongebob Squarepants” and “The Walking Dead” still perched at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively (although “Spongebob” experienced a 9% drop in demand).

A 13.8% spike in demand sent “Supernatural” up to No. 3 from No. 4 the prior week, replacing “Game of Thrones,” which slipped to No. 6 after a 5.8% drop in demand.

ABC’s “American Idol” rose to No. 4 from No. 5, driven by an 8.4% increase in demand.

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. Parrot Analytics uses a proprietary metric called Demand Expressions, which measures global demand for TV content 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.