‘Grinch,’ ‘Widow,’ ‘Girl in the Spider’s Web’ Debut in Top Three Spots on Redbox Disc, Digital Charts

Three new releases took the three top positions on both Redbox charts the week ended Feb. 10, led by Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch, the latest take on the classic children’s Christmas story from Universal Pictures.

The Grinch debuted at No. 1 on both the Redbox kiosk chart, which tracks DVD and Blu-ray Disc rentals at the company’s more than 40,000 red vending machines, and the Redbox On Demand chart, which tracks transactional video-on-demand (TVOD), both electronic sellthrough (EST) and streaming.

Bowing at No. 2, also on both charts, was 20th Century Fox’s Widows, a heist film with an ensemble cast headed by Viola Davis and Michelle Rodriguez.

And debuting in third place on both Redbox charts was Sony Pictures’ The Girl in the Spider’s Web, an action thriller that is both a reboot and a sequel to the critically hailed The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

The computer-animated Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch earned just over $270 million in U.S. theaters and is aimed at a younger crowd than its darker, live-action predecessor, 2000’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas, which earned slightly less in North American theaters ($260 million).

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Widows, about a band of women who turn to crime so they can pay back a crime boss after their husbands are killed in a botched $5 million heist, scored a domestic gross of $42.4 million.

And The Girl in the Spider’s Web, a theatrical underperformer with Claire Foy in the lead role as the avenger of battered women, took in just $14.8 million at the box office.

High demand for these three new releases pushed Lionsgate’s Hunter Killer to No. 4, also on both charts. The action film, about a squad of Navy SEALs who save the kidnapped Russian president from a military coup, had debuted at No. 1 the prior week.

Rounding out the top five on the Redbox disc-rental chart was Universal Pictures’ First Man, a biopic about Neil Armstrong’s celebrated 1969 moon landing. The film finished at No. 6 on the Redbox digital chart. The week before, First Man had been No. 2 on both charts, after a No. 1 debut the previous week.

On the Redbox On Demand, the No. 5 spot went to 20th Century Fox’s The Sisters Brothers, a Western comedy from 20th Century Fox with John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix as brothers Eli and Charlie Sisters, two assassins in the California Gold Rush.

The film – which earned just over $3 million in a limited theatrical release – also was the fourth new disc release to debut in the top 10 on the Redbox kiosk chart, coming in at No. 10.

Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch, Widows, The Girl in the Spider Web and The Sisters Brothers were all released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc Feb. 5 and for digital sale Jan. 22.

 

Top DVD and Blu-ray Disc Rentals, Redbox Kiosks, Week Ending February 10

  1. Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch (new)
  2. Widows (new)
  3. The Girl in the Spider Web (new)
  4. Hunter Killer
  5. First Man
  6. Night School
  7. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
  8. Halloween (2018)
  9. Venom
  10. The Sisters Brothers (new)

 

Top Digital, Redbox On Demand, Week Ending February 10

  1. Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch
  2. Widows
  3. The Girl in the Spider Web
  4. Hunter Killer
  5. The Sisters Brothers
  6. First Man
  7. The Hate U Give
  8. Crazy Rich Asians
  9. Venom
  10. Halloween (2018)

 

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Lionsgate’s ‘Hell Fest’ Only New Release to Crack Redbox Top 10

Lionsgate’s newly released Hell Fest is the only new release to make the Redbox charts for the week ended Jan. 13.

The slasher film,  about a group of teens who are stalked by a serial killer at a Halloween carnival, debuted at No. 9 on the Redbox kiosk chart, which tracks DVD and Blu-ray Disc rentals at the company’s more than 40,000 red vending machines, and No. 10 on the Redbox On Demand chart, which tracks transactional video-on-demand (TVOD), both electronic sellthrough (EST) and transactional streaming.

Universal Pictures’ Night School once again scored a double win, remaining at No. 1 for the third consecutive week on the Redbox kiosk chart and the second week on the digital chart.

Venom, a superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name, remained at No. 2 on the kiosk chart but slipped to No. 4 on the digital chart.

Universal Pictures’ The House With a Clock in Its Walls, a family fantasy about a young boy who is sent to live with his uncle in a spooky old house, remained at No. 3 on the kiosk chart but slipped to No. 9 from No. 5 on the digital chart.

White Boy Rick, from Sony Pictures, moved up to No. 4 on the Redbox disc-rental chart after debuting at No. 7 the prior week.

Bowing at No. 5 was 20th Century Fox’s Bad Times at the El Royale, which became available to Redbox one week after its street date.

On the Redbox digital chart, Paramount’s Book Club, released back in August, reappeared in the top 10 at No. 2.

Bad Times at the El Royale was No. 3, with White Boy Rick rounding out the top five.

 

Top DVD and Blu-ray Disc Rentals, Redbox Kiosks, Week Ending January 13

  1. Night School
  2. Venom
  3. The House With a Clock in Its Walls
  4. White Boy Rick
  5. Bad Times at the El Royale
  6. The Equalizer 2
  7. The Predator
  8. Peppermint
  9. Hell Fest (new)
  10. Smallfoot

 

Top Digital, Redbox On Demand, Week Ending January 13

  1. Night School
  2. Book Club
  3. Bad Times at the El Royale
  4. Venom
  5. White Boy Rick
  6. A Simple Favor
  7. Peppermint
  8. The Equalizer 2
  9. The House With a Clock in Its Walls
  10. Hell Fest

 

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‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Gets Home Release Dates

The much-ballyhooed biopic on the rock band Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody, is coming home.

The film – a celebration of Queen, their music, and lead singer Freddie Mercury (portrayed by Rami Malek) – was a surprise box office hit for 20th Century Fox, with a domestic gross of $189.2 million and global theatrical earnings of $702.6 million.

The film will be released on digital Jan. 22, followed by a Feb. 12 release on DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.

Nominated for two Golden Globe Awards (Best Motion Picture – Drama and Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama) and two SAG Awards (Outstanding Performance by a Cast Motion Picture and Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role), Bohemian Rhapsody follows Queen’s meteoric rise and unique sound – as well as Mercury’s battle with AIDS. The film also chronicles the band’s highly acclaimed 1985 performance at the Live Aid benefit concert in England in 1985.

The home release versions of Bohemian Rhapsody include the complete Live-Aid movie performance, featuring two never-before-seen songs (“Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and “We Will Rock You”) that according to Fox are “packed into a 22-minute collective experience recreating the original event.”

In addition, on Blu-ray Disc and digital, fans will get a look behind the making of the film including interviews with Queen, the cast and creative team.

2018: Getting Along in a Multi-Platform World

Back in 1989, a State Department official named Francis Fukuyama wrote a controversial essay on the “end of history,” opining that the collapse of the Soviet Union and Eastern bloc communism, the reform movement in China, and the reunification of Germany signaled a triumph for Western democracy and a very real promise of freedom and liberty for all.

Fukuyama’s vision of a global utopia didn’t last long, but for a brief moment in time cultural and political differences seemed to be set aside in favor of everyone working together to make the world a better place.

Similarly, in 2018 the various factions in home entertainment seemed to set aside their differences and recognize that we’re living in a multi-platform world — and that a peaceful coexistence between disc and digital, subscription and transactional, was, indeed, possible.

“2018 saw the continued integration of technology and content at an even more accelerated pace, and, with that, the opportunity to engage fans with more focused and meaningful experiences that extend the life of our film and television properties,” said Keith Feldman, president of worldwide home entertainment for 20th Century Fox.

Indeed, studios cut back on selling content to Netflix — most notably Disney, which pulled all its movies off the service by the end of the year — in favor of issuing it on their own platforms. They rallied behind Movies Anywhere, a digital movie storage “locker” launched in October 2017, and saw digital movie sales soar, with an 18% gain reported in the third quarter of 2018, according to DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group numbers.

Netflix, meanwhile, vowed to spend $8 billion in 2018 on producing its own shows, with the goal of making its content library 50% original.

Studios that once sued Redbox for renting DVDs and Blu-ray Discs, claiming the kiosk vendor was cannibalizing disc sales, struck distribution deals in which prior holdbacks were either sharply cut back or eliminated. They also rallied behind Redbox On Demand, a digital movie store launched in December 2017.

On the retail front, big-box chains like Best Buy and Walmart put discs back into the spotlight, buoyed by the emergence of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.

And digital retailers like FandangoNow and Google Play revved up their promotional muscle and pumped up the message that they had fresh movies for sale or rent. FandangoNow even put up a notice on its home page, touting the fact that it offers “New releases not on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime subscriptions.”

It was all part of a bigger picture, in a year dominated by major media mergers — AT&T buying Time Warner, Disney buying 20th Century Fox — suggesting it was high time to come together and restructure existing business models to reflect changing consumer habits.

Content, as always, was king, but the feuding fiefdoms of the past were at last coming to peace with each other — and with themselves.

Subscription streaming continued to dominate the home entertainment business in 2018. Indeed, in the first nine months of this year, according to DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, consumer spending on Netflix and other subscription streaming services rose more than 30% to $9.4 billion, nearly $2 billion more than consumers spent on all other forms of home entertainment combined– disc purchases ($2.79 billion) and rentals ($1.37 billion); digital purchases, or electronic sellthrough (EST, $1.8 billion),  and digital rentals, or transactional video-on-demand (TVOD, $1.57 billion).

But where Hollywood once saw a threat, in 2018 the studios saw an opportunity. As consumers, thanks to streaming, became increasingly accustomed to viewing movies and other content electronically, studios focused on moving them toward on-demand digital purchases or rentals — driving home the message that new releases aren’t typically available through subscriptions.

“Our comprehensive and strategic efforts to drive digital ownership and bolster engagement such as leveraging the early window, offering exclusive extras and emphasizing the best viewing experience possible are proving to be very effective as consumers continue to move toward and embrace the digital experience,” said Chris Oldre, EVP of pay TV, digital and international distribution at Walt Disney Direct-to-Consumer and International.

“Movies Anywhere has had a tremendous impact on transforming digital consumption and is a testament to the strength of the studios and digital retailers that have joined forces on an unprecedented scale. This year Disney once again experienced remarkable growth as our digital sales exceeded expectations in conjunction with the studio’s unrivaled box office success. Disney has the top three bestselling digital titles to date with Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok. We’re also incredibly proud of our celebration of Marvel’s 10-year anniversary this year.  We promoted the Marvel Cinematic Universe home entertainment catalog with a special sales promotion across digital, which undoubtedly helped propel Avengers: Infinity War to the No. 1 live-action spot on the all-time digital sales chart in a record-setting period.”

Ron Schwartz, president of Lionsgate Worldwide Home Entertainment, said that as consumer habits evolve, digital movie sales and rentals – electronic sellthrough (EST) and transactional video-on-demand (TVOD) — remain a priority. “We saw a significant increase in industry spending in this area in 2018, up 20%, and we will continue to collaborate with our retail partners on fresh ideas to keep consumer interest alive,” he said. “We see a large and growing market with multi-platform and specialty releases and will continue to build our leadership in this area.”

At the same time, Schwartz notes, “Disc sales remain robust … 4K UHD BD is rapidly gaining in popularity, as spend is on track to double this year versus last. We are committed to serving our audiences across the full spectrum of the digital   and physical business and we will continue to be a first mover in adapting these businesses as they continue to evolve.”

For Bob Buchi, president of worldwide home media distribution at Paramount Pictures, 2018 was the year of 4K.

“More than 42 million homes now have a 4K Ultra HD television and roughly 400 titles are available on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc and over 600 on Digital 4K,” Buchi said. “The numbers keep growing and for good reason: 4K brings home entertainment to life like never before, delivering content that better represents filmmakers’ original vision.  We’ve seen this play out with the week one 4K sales of Mission: Impossible — Fallout, which delivered our highest number of UHD discs sold, as well as the highest percentage of our physical sales ever.”

Disney’s Oldre agrees. “4K Ultra HD is a robust line of business for us and we’re experiencing healthy growth,” he said. “We continue to receive solid support from our physical retail partners and are confident it’s a market that our customers will continue to embrace given the format’s premier resolution.”

Catalog sales were another bright spot in 2018, Buchi said. “We’ve seen our digital catalog sales growing in markets around the world, including a 35% increase domestically through October, which indicates that more and more consumers have become comfortable with the format and are returning to the concept of building collections.  In addition, physical catalog sales have exceeded our expectations, as we continue to make concerted efforts to celebrate anniversaries of classic titles and strategically promote films from our library.”

Retailers certainly did their part in pushing the transactional business. At Best Buy and Walmart, the emergence of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray led to bigger disc sections and, in the case of Best Buy, placement back in the center of the store.

Redbox in 2018 relaunched its brand, which included some major ad campaigns and sponsorships, including the Redbox Bowl college football game on New Year’s Eve at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. The company also revamped its loyalty program; negotiated more favorable distribution deals with studios; and expanded the availability of previously rented movies and video games at kiosks.

The Redbox On Demand digital service, meanwhile, celebrated its first birthday in December with a new app on Vizio SmartCast TVs. The company also expanded its selection to 12,000 titles, from 7,000 at launch. CEO Galen Smith in December told Media Play News that Redbox On Demand has “surpassed major milestones to become a real player in the competitive digital home entertainment space. We’re seeing hundreds of thousands of customers, including bringing back folks we haven’t seen in a while.”

FandangoNow, a business unit of movie-ticket seller Fandango, struck deals with most major studios that allow it to package movie rentals into “binge bundles” that let consumers watch multiple movies at a lower price. The new offering launched on the Labor Day weekend with more than 100 bundles.

FandangoNow also cross-promotes digital movie sales and rentals with ticket sales. In December, just before the holidays, consumers who spent $20 on FandangoNow received $8 toward a movie ticket.

In the end, studio executives agree, it all comes down to keeping consumers engaged — which requires constant work.

“From a functional solution like Movies Anywhere that allows consumers to build and enjoy a streamlined digital library, to premium viewing with 4K HDR, to story extensions through virtual reality and other emerging formats, keeping consumers invested and engaged requires constant experimentation and innovation,” says Fox’s Keith Feldman. “Our ongoing challenge is to exceed consumer expectations today and simultaneously deliver next-generation offerings that will continue that engagement in the future.”

Fox Releases ‘Predator’ Holiday Special

As part of its promotional efforts for the newly released Blu-ray of The Predator, 20th Century Fox has released The Predator Holiday Special.

The two-minute video features stop-motion animation depicting an alien hunter from the “Predator” franchise waging war against Santa’s reindeer, and even features a literal “Alien” Easter egg.

The special aired Dec. 19 during an episode of “BoJack Horseman” on Comedy Central.

‘Home Alone’ Revisited With Google Assistant

A crossover promotion between 20th Century Fox and Google revisits the 1990 holiday comedy Home Alone with a modern twist.

A new ad features Macaulay Culkin reprising his role as a now 38-year-old Kevin McCallister re-enacting scenes from the film with the aid of Google Assistant-enabled devices.

 

 

The adult McCallister uses his voice-activated Internet devices to pay for a pizza delivery, order new aftershave and control the elaborate traps he sets up to scare away the Wet Bandits.

For a limited time, fans can use Google Assistant to discover interactive Easter eggs by asking specific questions beginning with “Hey Google …” to trigger a response of one of the lines from the film:

  • “Did I forget something?” to hear the iconic “KEVINNNNN!” scream;
  • “How much do I owe you?” or “It’s me Snakes. I got the stuff,” to recreate a back-and-forth dialogue from the movie Kevin watches, Angels With Filthy Souls.
  • “The Wet Bandits are here” to hear what Kevin would do.
  • “I’m the man of the house” to hear what happens when Kevin puts aftershave on his face.

 

Fox reported that Home Alone searches on Google trend during the holidays, spiking 1900% in a month last year. Home Alone is available on Blu-ray and DVD, as well for digital purchase at Google Play and other online retailers.

Fox Innovation Lab Releases 5G Study on U.S. Open Trial

The Fox Innovation Lab has released a 5G study with Fox Sports, Intel, AT&T and Ericsson, highlighting the project at this year’s U.S. Open Golf Championship.

5G is the next-generation mobile technology.

The study, “5G at the U.S. Open: Live Streaming Without the Handicap,” outlines the results of the companies’ trial in June to put 5G to the test, streaming 4K video to Fox Sports national broadcast. The study reveals how the companies were able to deliver higher amounts of data with no delay and remove the cost of running fiber around the Shinnecock Hills golf course and reduce personnel and equipment needed on site. The study also showed the process could improve backhaul transmission costs to the distribution center. 

“While this was a fairly simple trial, it indicated that 5G is a technology that could drive the savings of millions of dollars over the course of a production year in terms of fiber deployment and backhaul transmission, after it is fully deployed over multiple types of sports broadcasts,” stated Mike Davies, FOX Sports SVP of technical and field operations, in the report. 

“From the Lab to on-location, we worked with our partners to integrate the capabilities of 5G into the workflow of a large-scale sports production, resulting in performance learnings that inform future, more complex use cases,” stated Danny Kaye, EVP of 20th Century Fox and managing director of the Fox Innovation Lab.

Nexstar Media Group Acquires Tribune Media Company for $6.4 Billion

Nexstar Media Group Dec. 3 announced it has entered into a definitive merger agreement with Tribune Media Company to acquire all outstanding shares of Tribune Media in a cash deal valued at $6.4 billion, including the assumption of Tribune Media’s outstanding ($2.3 billion) debt.

The transaction makes Irving, Texas-based Nexstar the largest local TV station owner in the country, including 216 stations in 118 markets – reaching approximately 39% of U.S. television households. Tribune also owns 31% stake in Food Network.

The combined entity will be one of the nation’s leading providers of local news, entertainment, sports, lifestyle and network programming through its broadcast and digital media platforms with annual revenue of approximately $4.6 billion.

Notable Tribune stations include WGN America in Chicago and KTLA in Los Angeles. WGN became one of the first local broadcasters to ink production deals for original (now cancelled) series, including “Salem” from 20thCentury Fox, “Manhattan” (Lionsgate), and “Underground” (Sony Pictures), among others.

The deal is expected to close by the third-quarter next year following regulatory approvals.

“Nexstar has long viewed the acquisition of Tribune Media as a strategically, financially and operationally compelling opportunity that brings immediate value to shareholders of both companies,” Perry Sook, CEO of Nexstar, said in a statement.

Sook said the transaction offers synergies ($160 million in the first year) related to the enhanced scale of the combined broadcast and digital media operations and increases the company’s audience reach by about 50%.

The deal follows the scuttled $3.9 billion merger attempt between Tribune and Sinclair Broadcasting Group, which imploded following allegations the politically conservative Sinclair would have positioned Tribune stations as far-right partisan mouthpieces.

The new transaction reflects a 15.5% premium for Tribune Media shareholders and a 45% premium to Tribune’s closing price on July 16, the day FCC Ajit Pai issued a statement regarding his intention to hold a hearing on the Sinclair offer.

The Nexstar/Tribune deal faces its own regulatory hurdles under the current FCC and Department of Justice, which together under the direction of the Trump Administration, have taken stronger approaches toward media mergers as seen in the DOJ’s ongoing appeal of the AT&T/Time Warner pact.

Indeed, Nexstar said it intends to divest certain TV stations necessary to comply with regulatory ownership limits and may also divest other assets it deems to be non-core.

 

 

HDR10+ Announces First Certified Products, Adopters

HDR10+ Technologies, a joint venture among 20th Century Fox, Panasonic Corp. and Samsung Electronics, has announced the first certified products and first adopters for the loyalty-free HDR10+ license program.

Panasonic and Samsung are also among the first to announce firmware has been deployed to select 2018 television models enabling support of HDR10+ for consumers.

HDR10+ advances High Dynamic Range (HDR) and HDR10 TV formats by adding dynamic metadata to each frame. It enables advanced chipsets to create a true-to-life picture across a wider range of displays.

The HDR10+ license program and logo ensure that HDR10+ compliant products meet high standards for picture quality and that the true intent of filmmakers is preserved within these key parameters:

  • The display performance certification qualifies requirements on the display mode, peak luminance level, peak luminance stability, transfer function and white point tracking performance and color gamut coverage.
  • The metadata processing certification qualifies carriage and accuracy of metadata over interfaces. The display management performance certification qualifies tone-mapping based on HDR10+ Metadata such as shadow preservation.
  • The Ultra HD Blu-ray player certification qualifies the processing and accuracy of HDR10+ Metadata carriage over the HDMI interface.

Depending on the category of adopter, certification can be obtained by self-certification or through an Authorized Testing Center (ATC) such as Allion and TTA — the first centers verified for HDR10+ certification. Adopter categories include UHD Blu-ray player manufacturers, OTT set-top box manufacturers or services, display manufacturers, SoC vendors, content companies and tool vendors.

More than 80 companies have already applied or completed the license program.

“A standardized licensing process has allowed partners, including content creators, television and device manufacturers, to easily incorporate HDR10+ technology,” said Danny Kaye, EVP of 20th Century Fox and managing director of the Fox Innovation Lab, in a statement. “We’re encouraged by the interest of early adopters and an expanded HDR10+ ecosystem that will improve the viewing experiences for all audiences.”

20th Century Fox has committed to incorporating HDR10+ in its upcoming new release slate.

“Panasonic is happy to announce that through the deployment of a firmware update, the majority of our 2018 4K models are now HDR10+ certified meaning that our viewers will be able to enjoy content even closer to the intentions of the filmmakers,” said Toshiharu Tsutsui, director of Panasonic’s TV Business Division, in a statement.

“We are thrilled that the majority of our 2018 lineup will be fully certified for HDR10+,” said Bill Mandel, VP of Industry Relations at Samsung Research America, in a statement. “We are collaborating with other HDR10+ adopters globally who are making tools, developing their own SoCs and/or TV line-ups to be HDR10+ compliant to provide consumers broad access to a great HDR experience.”

“We are so excited to be a part of this promising new technology standard that is HDR10+,” said Denver Mishima, head of Standards & Compliance Division of Allion Japan Inc, in a statement. “As a third-party Authorized Test Center, Allion always strives to provide value proposition to prestigious organizations such as HDR10+ Technologies and its adopters. Providing adopters a better testing and certification experience is our mission and commitment in this venture.”

“TTA is pleased again to be working with the display and media industries to launch the newest HDR technology with HDR10+ LLC adopters,” said Park Yongbum, VP of TTA. “We are looking forward to providing testing and certification services for this latest logo program.”

More on the certification requirements and application process can be found here.

Companies adopting HDR10+ are listed on the website.

Companies can learn more about the HDR10+ license and logo program, including final specifications and adopter agreements here.

Fox Doubles Fiscal-Year Hulu Equity Loss

Hulu, the SVOD service co-owned by The Walt Disney Co., Comcast, 21st Century Fox and WarnerMedia, may have 20 million subscribers, an Emmy-winning series (“The Handmaid’s Tale”) and an online TV component. It also has burgeoning costs for its corporate owners.

Fox on Aug. 8 disclosed it generated a $127 million fourth-quarter (ended June 30) equity loss for its 30% stake in Hulu. That was up 135% from an equity loss of $54 million during the previous-year period.

For its fiscal year, Fox posted a Hulu equity loss of $445 million – more than double the $215 million equity loss last year.

With Disney assuming Fox’s Hulu stake (for 60% controlling stake) as part of its $71 billion acquisition of 20thCentury Fox Film and other Fox assets, expect the Mickey Mouse company’s equity loss to increase.

Disney CFO Christine McCarthy alluded as much on the company’s Aug. 7 fiscal call.

“The higher losses at Hulu were primarily driven by higher programming and labor costs, partially offset by higher subscription and advertising revenue,” McCarthy said

Indeed, Disney attributed a $49 million second-quarter equity loss to Hulu, which mushroomed to a $193 million through the first six months of the year.

Hulu lost $920 million in 2017 compared to a loss of $531 million in 2016. The fiscal loss is reportedly projected to reach $1.7 billion this year as the service ups original content spending on “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Marvel’s Runaways,” “Future Man,” and “The Doozers,” among others.