‘Steel Magnolias’ Debuting on 4K Ultra HD April 23 for 35th

The comic drama Steel Magnolias is debuting on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc April 23 for its 35th anniversary from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine, Daryl Hannah, Olympia Dukakis and Julia Roberts star as friends and family in the story of life, love and loss in a small Louisiana parish. At the center of the group is Shelby Eatenton (Roberts), newly married and joyfully pregnant, despite the fact that her diabetes could make childbirth life-threatening. Terrified and angry at the possibility of losing her only daughter, M’Lynn Eatenton (Field) looks to her four closest friends for strength and laughter as she battles her deepest fear of death in order to join Shelby in celebrating the miracle of new life.

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The release is newly remastered in 4K resolution from the original camera negative with Dolby Vision and new Dolby Atmos audio + 5.1 + 2-channel surround. Special features include the “Steel Magnolias” 1990 TV Pilot; a director’s commentary; “In Full Bloom: Remembering Steel Magnolias”;
10 deleted scenes; and the theatrical trailer.

Animated Comedy ‘Migration’ Flies to Disc Feb. 27

Illumination’s animated comedy Migration will be released on Blu-ray Disc, DVD, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and standard-priced digital Feb. 27 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film has earned $256.2 million at the global box office and has been available for premium digital rental and sale since Jan. 23.

The story follows the Mallard family as they embark on a journey south for the winter to Jamaica via New York City, only for their well-laid plans to go awry, leading to new friends and unknown horizons.

The voice cast includes Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick, Stuber), Elizabeth Banks (Pitch Perfect, The Hunger Games), Keegan-Michael Key (The Super Mario Bros. Movie, Keanu), Awkwafina (Ocean’s 8, The Little Mermaid), and Danny DeVito (Batman Returns, “Taxi”).

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Special features include the mini-movies “Fly Hard,” in which Chump sheds her tough-as-nails attitude, risking her life to fly through a blizzard and the harrowing streets of New York to return a prized possession to a kind woman from the park; “Mooned,” in which following the events of Despicable Me, Vector and a lost Minion are stranded on the moon, and struggle to get back to Earth; and “Midnight Mission,” in which the Minions try to help Agnes overcome her fear of the dark, even if it involves going into outer space. Also included are behind-the-scenes, making-of and kid-friendly craft project featurettes.

 

‘Wonka’ Headed to Premium Digital Jan. 30, Disc Feb. 27

The adventure Wonka debuts for premium digital purchase and rental on Jan. 30, and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD on Feb. 27.

The film has earned more than $544.2 million at the global box office.

Based on the iconic character at the center of Roald Dahl’s children’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Wonka, starring Timothée Chalamet in the title role, introduces audiences to a young Willy Wonka, as he becomes the world’s greatest inventor, magician and chocolate-maker.

Starring alongside Chalamet are Calah Lane, Emmy and Peabody Award winner Keegan-Michael Key, Paterson Joseph, Matt Lucas, Mathew Baynton, Oscar nominee Sally Hawkins, Rowan Atkinson, Jim Carter, Oscar winner Olivia Colman and Hugh Grant.

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The film is from Paul King, writer/director of the “Paddington” films; David Heyman, producer of “Harry Potter,” Gravity, Barbie and Paddington; and producers Alexandra Derbyshire (the “Paddington” films, Jurassic World: Dominion) and Luke Kelly (Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical).

‘Bad Biology,’ ‘Nightmare’ Among Cult, Horror Titles Available on Disc Jan. 30 From Severin and MVD

The cult film Bad Biology and the horror titles Nightmare, The Psychic and Danza Macabra Volume Two: The Italian Gothic Collection are available on disc Jan. 30 from Severin Films and MVD Entertainment Group.

Due on Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD, Bad Biology (2008) comes from splatter master Frank Henenlotter (writer/director of Frankenhooker, Brain Damage, “The Basket Case” trilogy). After 17 years, he returned with the most graphic, transgressive and jaw-droppingly depraved black comedy shocker of his career in Bad Biology. In the film, Jennifer (Charlee Danielson) is a homicidal nymphomaniac who spontaneously births mutant babies, and Batz (Anthony Sneed) has a monstrous penis with a mind of its own. In a city ruled by pleasure and pain, will two made-for-each-other freaks deliver the ultimate orgasmic horror? Eleonore Hendricks (Daddy Longlegs), radio host Rude Jude and director James Glickenhaus (The Exterminator) co-star in the film produced and co-written by underground hip-hop hero R.A. The Rugged Man Thorburn with F/X by Gabe Bartalos (Skinned Deep), now scanned in 4K from the camera negative. Special features include commentary with director Frank Henenlotter, director of photography Nick Deeg and actor Anthony Sneed; archival commentary with director Frank Henenlotter and producer R.A. The Rugged Man Thorburn; “Spook House,” interviews with director Frank Henenlotter, producer R.A. The Rugged Man Thorburn, production coordinator Michael Shershenovich, director of photography Nick Deeg, retired detective David Henenlotter and production manager Chaz Kangas; “In the Basement With Charlee Danielson,” an interview Danielson; “Deeg and Sneed,” a conversation between Nick Deeg and Anthony Sneed; “Swollen Agenda,” interview with makeup effects artist Gabe Bartalos; “Suck,” a short film By Anthony Sneed; “Legendary Loser,” a music video by R.A. The Rugged Man Thorburn; and an image gallery.

Due on Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD is the controversial and misunderstood genre film Nightmare (1981). In the film, when a homicidal mental patient (Baird Stafford) flees an experimental drug program, he leaves a five-day trail of psychosexual carnage from the peep shows of 42nd Street to the gore-soaked shores of Florida. Written and directed by Romano Scavolini, the film — with a U.K. release as Nightmares in a Damaged Brain led to the imprisonment of distributor David Hamilton-Grant — has been scanned from the internegative and various foreign print sources to create the most complete version ever assembled. Special features include audio commentary with star Baird Stafford and special effects assistant Cleve Hall moderated by Lee Christian and David DeCoteau; audio commentary with producer William Paul; “Kill Thy Father and Thy Mother,” an interview with director Romano Scavolini; “Dreaming Up a Nightmare,” cast and crew interviews; “The Nightmare of Nightmare,” an interview with erroneously credited special effects director Tom Savini; “The Stuff That Nightmares Are Made Of,” an interview with makeup artist Robin Stevens; “A Nightmare on Many Streets,” a locations tour with Rue Morgue writer Michael Gingold; the open matte peep show sequence; deleted scenes; a still gallery; and trailers.

Due on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray is The Psychic (1977), writer/director Lucio Fulci’s giallo masterpiece. In the film, Jennifer O’Neill (Scanners) stars as a woman tormented by violent visions of past slayings. Or are they premonitions of murders still to come? Gabriele Ferzetti (The Night Porter), Marc Porel (The Sister of Ursula), Gianni Garko (Night of the Devils) and Evelyn Stewart (Footprints) co-star in the film originally titled Murder to the Tune of the Seven; co-written by Fulci, Roberto Gianviti (Don’t Torture a Duckling) and Dardano Sacchetti (The Beyond); and scanned in 4K from the original negative. Special features include “Doom and Gloom,” an interview with co-writer Dardano Sacchetti with contributions from director Lucio Fulci; selected scene commentary with cinematographer Sergio Salvati and Freak-O-Rama’s Federico Caddeo; “Close Up on the Eyes,” an audio interview with camera operator Franco Bruni; “Elegant Ladies,” an audio interview with costume designer Massimo Lentini; “Cutting Moments,” an audio interview with editor Bruno Micheli; and the trailer.

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Due on 4K Ultra HD is Danza Macabra Vol. Two: The Italian Gothic Collection (1960s and 1970s). In this second collection of Italian gothic shockers, viewers enter cobweb-shrouded worlds of violence, madness and sexual deviance. Gothic goddess Barbara Steele stars in Antonio Margheriti’s Castle of Blood and its Italian version Danza Macabra, both restored and scanned in 4K and presented in UHD for the first time ever. Jekyll is 1969’s award-winning four-part RAI-TV sceneggiati from writer/director/star Giorgio Albertazzi that contemporizes the classic tale of man’s darkest impulses. Writer/director Corrado Farina reinvents the Dracula legend as a modern-day capitalist conspiracy with his startling and long out-of-print 1971 debut They Have Changed Their Face. Rosalba Neri is seduced by Satan himself in 1972’s The Devil’s Lover, finally available restored and uncut. All four titles are now presented in their North American Premieres, newly mastered from the best available elements with more than 13 collective hours of special features.

Disney’s Animated ‘Wish’ Headed to Digital Jan. 23, Disc March 12

Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Wish sing-along version will be released through digital retailers Jan. 23, and on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD disc March 12.

The film has earned $209.8 million at the global box office.

In the animated musical-comedy, Asha, a sharp-witted idealist in the kingdom of Rosas, makes a powerful wish that’s answered by Star, a ball of boundless energy. Soon, Asha and Star must face a formidable foe — the ruler of Rosas — to save her community and prove that when one brave human connects with the magic of the stars, wondrous things happen.

The voice cast includes Ariana DeBose as Asha, Chris Pine as King Magnifico, Alan Tudyk as Valentino, Angelique Cabral as Queen Amaya, Victor Garber as Sabino, Natasha Rothwell as Sakina, Jennifer Kumiyama as Dahlia, Evan Peters as Simon, Harvey Guillén as Gabo, Ramy Youssef as Safi, Niko Vargas as Hal, Jon Rudnitsky as Dario, and Della Saba as Bazeema.

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Bonus features include on-screen lyrics and song selection, a making-of featurette, the featurette “Once Upon a Studio,” the featurette “Wish D-Classified” about references to other Disney films in the film, outtakes, the deleted song “A Wish Worth Making,” deleted scenes, and outtakes.

The 4K edition is a Steelbook combo available exclusively from Walmart.

Walmart’s ‘Wish’ 4K Steelbok

Sony Celebrates Columbia Pictures’ 100th Anniversary With Disc, Digital Catalog Releases, Sales

In celebration of Columbia Pictures’ 100th anniversary, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment  will be presenting a variety of  catalog offerings throughout 2024, across the entire Sony Pictures Entertainment library of movies and TV shows.

January kicks off with both a physical disc sale at Amazon and  a “100 movies for $100” digital bundle.

The Amazon sale — featuring 4K Ultra HDs, Blu-rays and DVDs — begins on Jan. 10 and includes deals on major library titles such as Ghostbusters, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Lawrence of Arabia.

On Jan. 16, in addition to an overall digital movie sale, there will be a “100 movies for $100” digital bundle available at participating digital retailers, featuring such titles as The Lady From Shanghai, Tootsie, 2012 and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Consumers can visit 100for100sale.com for more information.

The 100th anniversary celebration will continue throughout 2024 with more details to come.

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‘Contagion’ Due on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc and Digital Feb. 27

Contagion, Steven Soderbergh’s 2011 medical thriller about a global epidemic and the people determined to keep it at bay, will be available to purchase on Feb. 27 for the first time on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc, as well as for digital purchase, from Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment.

In the film, when Beth Emhoff (Gweneth Paltrow) returns to Minneapolis from business in Hong Kong, what she thought was jet lag takes a virulent turn. Two days later, she’s dead in the ER and the doctors tell her shocked and grieving husband (Matt Damon) they have no idea why. Soon, others exhibit the same mysterious symptoms: hacking coughs and fever, followed by seizure, brain hemorrhage, and ultimately, death. The numbers quickly multiply as the contagion sweeps across all borders, fueled by the countless human interactions that make up the course of an average day. A global pandemic explodes.

As the death toll escalates and people struggle to protect themselves and their loved ones in a society breaking down, one activist blogger (Jude Law) claims the public isn’t getting the truth about what’s really going on and sets off an epidemic of paranoia and fear as infectious as the virus itself.

The film also stars  Marion Cottilard, Laurence Fishburne, Kate Winslet, Bryan Cranston, Jennifer Ehle and Sanaa Lathan.

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Special features on the Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc and digital include the previously released featurettes “The Reality of Contagion”; “The Contagion Detectives”; and “Contagion — How a Virus Changes the World.”

‘Trolls Band Together’ Sing-Along Edition Due on Regular Digital, DVD, Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD Jan. 16

DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls Band Together Sing-Along Edition will be released on regular digital (after a premium run), 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD Jan. 16 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film has earned $202.9 million at the global box office.

Highlighting a soundtrack of original and classic songs, the release presents more than an hour of bonus content, including a new original short “It Takes Three,” character drawing tutorials, deleted scenes, and behind-the-scenes features with the cast and crew including NSYNC’s reunion for the first time in 20 years.

In the latest chapter of DreamWorks Animation’s animated musical franchise, as Poppy (Anna Kendrick) grows closer to her now boyfriend Branch (Justin Timberlake), she discovers his secret past as a member of her favorite boyband BroZone with his four estranged brothers. When Branch’s bro Floyd is kidnapped for his musical talents by a pair of nefarious popstars, Branch and Poppy embark on a journey to reunite the other brothers and rescue Floyd. Along the way Poppy uncovers a family secret of her own, a long-lost sister named Viva (Camila Cabello).

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The film also features Zooey Deschanel (“New Girl”), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (“How to Train Your Dragon” Franchise), Icona Pop duo Aino Jawo and Caroline Hjelt, Kenan Thompson (“Saturday Night Live”), Grammy winner Anderson .Paak, Kunal Nayyar (“The Big Bang Theory”), and Ron Funches (“Harley Quinn”). New talent lending their voices to the franchise include Grammy nominee Camila Cabello (Cinderella), Eric André (Sing 2), Amy Schumer (Trainwreck), Grammy winner and Tony nominee Andrew Rannells (The Book of Mormon), Golden Globe nominee Troye Sivan (“The Idol”), Grammy winners Daveed Diggs (Hamilton) and Kid Cudi (Don’t Look Up), SAG Award nominee Zosia Mamet (“The Flight Attendant”), and 12-time Emmy winner RuPaul Charles (“RuPaul’s Drag Race”).

Home Entertainment 2024 — Transactional: PVOD, Collectors and Launch Parties

A growing number of studio executives and other industry observers say they believe transactional home entertainment — the traditional, a la carte method of bringing a movie or show into the home, either to watch or to own — may be in the early stages of a resurgence.

The realization that subscription streaming is not sustainable on its own has prompted studios to take a second look at what was once the primary “second window” for movies fresh off their theatrical runs, and the result is that more and more films are being released for digital or physical purchase or rental before they are handed off to the streaming services.

SEE ALSO: Home Entertainment 2024, Part 1 – Streaming: Bundling, Ads, Reruns and Live Sports

Through much of 2022, as the world was still grappling with fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, Warner, Disney and Paramount were still releasing the majority of their films to their streaming services on the same day as their traditional home entertainment release. Today, all three studios have brought back windows. New theatrical movies are typically available transactionally several weeks before their subscription streaming debuts.

Bob Buchi

“It’s about maximizing the content life cycle through windowing, just as it’s always been,” said Bob Buchi, president of Paramount Home Entertainment,

At Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, division president Michael Bonner notes that both The Super Mario Bros. Movie and Oppenheimer “yielded new benchmarks in digital and physical, demonstrating some of the highest transactional performance levels across the business that we have seen this year. The performance of The Super Mario Bros. Movie was especially standout, earning more digital revenue than any other theatrically released Universal movie ever. Results for Oppenheimer’s 4K Ultra HD release were equally notable, currently tracking in its debut window to be Universal’s biggest-selling 4K title of all time.”

David Decker, president of content sales at Warner Bros. Discovery, also said his division “had a successful 2023, driven by Barbie‘s ‘pink wave’ and the health of the WBD catalog, and punctuated by our ‘WB 100th Anniversary’ promotion. We are finishing the year with digital sales up over pre-pandemic levels.”

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Digital Deluge

Given the higher margins of digital releases — and fewer headaches because there are no manufacturing or shipping costs, not to mention returns — studios in 2023 began focusing on making films available for digital sale or rental much sooner than in the past, often at a premium price. This past year has seen a significant uptick in premium video-on-demand, or PVOD, releases, with films fresh from their theatrical runs becoming available to rent or buy at higher prices as early as 18 days after their big-screen debuts before the price is lowered to the standard transactional price of $5.99 for a rental and $19.99 for a sale. Universal Pictures Home Entertainment’s Trolls Band Together, for example, was released Dec. 19 — just one month after its theatrical debut — at a rental price of $19.99 and a purchase price of $29.99. Six days earlier, Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour was released for digital rental only at $19.89, also by UPHE, about 60 days after it opened in theaters — still much shorter than the traditional 90-day window.

Michael Bonner

Even Apple allowed its high-profile film Killers of the Flower Moon, directed by Martin Scorsese, to be released via PVOD prior to its debut on Apple TV+.

UPHE’s Bonner said 2023 “reinforced our view of the importance of the home entertainment category, led by some impressive title successes across both premium and traditional windows. When studios release titles under a compressed window framework that includes an exclusive home entertainment offering, consumer engagement for transactional formats is very strong.”

Taking Aim at Collectors

The disc business, meanwhile, continues to decline, kept alive by a growing reliance on the collector market and a hope among some for a vinyl-like resurgence.

“Initially, the disc market was driven by families with kids,” said one insider. “Now, the business is being driven by collectors, as evidenced by continued year-over-year growth in 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray sales.”

Still, 2023 was a tough year for the disc business, with total consumer spending this year expected to come at less than $2 billion — less than 10% of what consumers spent on DVDs and Blu-ray Discs in the peak year of 2006.

In early September, Ingram Entertainment, once the largest distributor of physical home entertainment product, announced it is getting out of the DVD and Blu-ray Disc business. “Expenses are exceeding sales [so it’s] time to exit,” chairman and CEO David Ingram told Media Play News. Later that month, Netflix shut its legacy disc-rental business and let customers keep whatever discs they had out. And in October, the Best Buy retail chain announced it would exit the DVD and Blu-ray Disc business beginning in the first quarter of 2024.

But things may be looking up for the disc, which once was such a crucial revenue stream that DVD sales projections were factored into the movie greenlighting process.

The streaming services’ content purge may prompt more consumers to consider a la carte options, studio insiders say. And the tendency of digital purchases to sometimes disappear from consumer libraries — a hurdle in getting more people to shell out $20 for a digital movie — may also drive disc purchases.

Critics contend a primary reason disc sales are in a protracted slump is studio indifference. They say the number of theatrical catalog releases has plummeted in recent years, paving the way for pirates. And while fresh new theatrical films continue to be released on DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD, special features are becoming increasingly scarce while quality issues abound.

“The studios have checked out,” said industry analyst Ralph Tribbey, who has been tracking discs sales through his DVD & Blu-ray Disc Release Report since DVD was launched in 1997.

But that’s not entirely true. Paramount continues to create collectible disc offerings for a wide array of titles in its vast and storied library, such as a deluxe anniversary package with hours of bonus content for Titanic, new additions to its acclaimed Paramount Presents line such as Terms of Endearment, and newly remastered 4K Ultra HD releases of classics from Roman Holiday to The Truman Show.

Demand for the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Oppenheimer was so great that retailers were running out of copies, prompting Universal Pictures Home Entertainment to issue a statement promising to “replenish those retailers quickly so fans can watch the film at home in the best picture quality possible.” Meanwhile, retail-exclusive editions of the film commanded big prices on the secondary market, with Best Buy’s 4K Steelbook edition of the film listed on eBay at an average asking price of well over $100.

And then there’s Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, the latest name for The Walt Disney Co.’s home entertainment operation. The division made headlines in August when it announced it is exiting the disc business in Australia. But just days later, Disney announced plans to roll out several of its popular Disney+ series, including “The Mandalorian,” “WandaVision” and “Loki,” as “Collector’s Edition” 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray Discs in Steelbook packaging.

Since then, Disney has packaged 100 of its animated films into a massive Blu-ray Disc boxed set retailing for $1,500 and issued Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first of its iconic animated classics, on 4K Ultra HD.

David Decker

WBD’s David Decker says the physical business “continues to represent a meaningful portion of our transactional revenue, and WBD remains committed to the category. We will keep reaching casual consumers and avid fans where and how they want our content: from best-in-class 4K Blu-rays to remastered and re-released films on 4K UHD from our 100-year library of titles.”

Independent film distributors such as Ed Seaman, CEO of MVD Entertainment Group, also see opportunity ahead.

“In disc sales, as studios and brick-and-mortar retailers continue to bail, the opportunity grows for both independent distribution and retail/e-commerce,” Seaman said. “Savvy dealers will pick up more and more great movies and shows and feed the strong demand for the end user, who has a huge appetite for collectible content.”

Keeping the Party Going

Studios have also resumed a practice that subsided years ago when streaming became the dominant form of home entertainment consumption: gala release parties celebrating the disc debut of high-profile new theatrical films.

Disney in January 2023 threw a release party for journalists and social-media influencers to promote the Blu-ray Disc release of the thriller The Menu. The party was held at the Blockbuster pop-up on trendy Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles and included as guests stars Aimee Carrero, Arturo Castro and Mark St. Cyr. Guests enjoyed drinks that they could order by presenting bartenders with an appropriately labeled Blockbuster videocassette box and “well-made” cheeseburgers from Irv’s Burgers, the historic West Hollywood burger stand.

In September, Disney hosted a dance party at the California Science Center in Los Angeles to celebrate the digital and disc release that day of the live-action feature The Little Mermaid.

And November saw two disc release parties. To promote the DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD release of Oppenheimer, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment held a screening of a making-of documentary, introduced by director Christopher Nolan, at the Linwood Dunn Theater at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study in Hollywood. And over in Venice Beach, Disney held a “Haunting in Venice … Beach!” party for A Haunting in Venice, highlighted by trivia for Agatha Christie and murder mystery fans, typewriter poets who wrote on-the-spot personalized poems for partygoers, and sessions with medium Christina Engelhardt.

Lastly, Paramount Home Entertainment in December held a party at Pizzeria Mozza to celebrate the 4K and Blu-ray Disc release of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem. Guests included filmmakers Seth Rogan, Evan Goldberg, James Weaver and Jeff Rowe.

Distribution Issues

One big development on the disc front that occurred in 2023 is word that Walmart, the biggest physical retailer of DVD and Blu-ray Disc with a market share of 45%, is looking to consolidate distribution through Studio Distribution Services (SDS), the joint venture formed by Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. back in April 2021 to sell and distribute DVDs, Blu-ray Discs and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs in North America. The venture is headed by Eddie Cunningham, a former president of UPHE, a steadfast champion of physical media.

Eddie Cunningham

Cunningham is calling for the elimination of the window — typically two weeks — between a film’s digital release and its physical release, a practice instituted more than a decade ago by the studios in the hopes of jump-starting the electronic sellthrough, or EST, business.

“I do think it is time to closely align disc and EST release dates,” Cunningham said. “While it was clearly the right decision to give EST a short window in the early formative, and massive growth, stages of that developing business, both EST and disc are now mature businesses. I would now let the consumer decide how they want to view content in home entertainment. I believe many of studio our partners are looking at this issue objectively and that we will see some significant movement in that direction in 2024.”

Speaking privately, studio executives say the key obstacle to such a move is one of logistics. Since so many new films are being released through PVOD, there simply isn’t enough time to prepare a disc release on the same day. Traditionally, films come to home entertainment about three months after their theatrical bow; with PVOD, the window can be as short as 18 days.

But Cunningham maintains that at the very least the window should be eliminated between a film’s disc and standard digital release, “where materials can be prepared early enough to work through the much more complex compression and authoring, manufacturing, and distribution challenges unique to the disc business.”

Prospects for 2024

Looking ahead, studio executives are looking at the transactional business with guarded optimism for 2024, particularly on the PVOD front.

 “We expect that extended studio and retailer support of early availability, in addition to strong consumer demand for accelerated theatrical-to-home releases, will continue to fuel meaningful growth of the premium window, offsetting the decline of physical and delivering significant value to the home entertainment ecosystem,” said UPHE’s Bonner.

Adam Frank

“We are seeing strong growth in the transactional marketplace across new releases as well as the weekly and monthly catalog run rate for our own business,” said Adam Frank, EVP of global partner management, sales and distribution for Lionsgate. “The industry is moving away from release-strategy fragmentation as studios prioritize a healthy ‘free-and-clear’ transactional window post-theatrical. This trend should lead to higher engagement from our core transactional audience and an influx of new consumers.”

Paramount’s Bob Buchi agrees. “We know that fans still love to own and collect their favorite films and television shows, which is why we continue to support the physical disc business,” he said. “At the same time, we live in an increasingly digital world so we are exploring some enticing and novel ways to augment both the collectability and gift-ability of digital content. There are exciting developments on the horizon, and just as the home entertainment industry has always done, we will continue to evolve and adapt to changing technologies and consumer behavior.”

Warner Bros. Discovery’s David Decker said that in 2024, WBD is looking to build “on our 2023 momentum. We have exciting new releases coming with titles such as Dune 2, Furiosa (the “Mad Max” prequel) and Beetlejuice 2.”

Decker added that he believes windowing of new releases “is finding its footing. Barbie had one of the biggest premium windows of the year, and the release strategy also helped the film’s historic box office success. We will evolve our strategy in 2024 with more data-driven analysis, working closely with our colleagues at WB Pictures and Max on each individual title. We are relentlessly focused on getting these incredible movies in front of as many people as possible, through the best possible viewing experiences, and at price points that satisfy consumer demands. For us, Barbie said it best: ‘It is the best day ever. So was yesterday, and so is tomorrow and every day from now until forever.’”

‘Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes’ Due on Regular Digital Jan. 30, Disc Feb. 13

The “Hunger Games” franchise prequel The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes arrives for regular digital purchase Jan. 30 (after a premium run) and 4K Ultra HD (plus Blu-ray plus digital), Blu-ray (plus DVD plus digital), and DVD Feb. 13 from Lionsgate.

The film has earned more than $325 million at the box office worldwide.

Based on the Suzanne Collins novel of the same name, the film stars Tom Blyth (Benediction), Golden Globe winner Rachel Zegler (Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, West Side Story, 2022), Emmy Award winner Peter Dinklage (Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, “Game of Thrones,” 2019), Hunter Schafer (“Euphoria”), Josh Andrés Rivera (West Side Story), Jason Schwartzman (Asteroid City), and Viola Davis (Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, “How to Get Away with Murder,” 2015; Grammy for Best Audio Book, Narration, and Storytelling Recording, Finding Me, 2023; Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, Fences, 2017; Tony for Best Actress (Leading Role – Play, Fences, 2010).

In The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, three-time Grammy Award winner and six-time nominee singer-songwriter Olivia Rodrigo joins the franchise, co-writing and performing the preeminent original song “Can’t Catch Me Now.”

Set 64 years before Katniss Everdeen volunteered as tribute, and decades before Coriolanus Snow became the tyrannical President of Panem, The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes follows a young Coriolanus as he unites with Lucy Gray Baird in the 10th Hunger Games, and battles his instincts for both good and evil.

Also on Feb. 13, Walmart will have an exclusive 4K Ultra HD (plus Blu-ray plus digital) Steelbook with special artwork.

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4K UHD / BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES

  • Audio Commentary with Producer-Director Francis Lawrence and Producer Nina Jacobson (Not Included on Digital)
  • “Predator or Prey: Making The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes” eight-Part Documentary (Not Included on Digital)
  • “The Hanging Tree” Song by Rachel Zegler
  • A Letter to the Fans
  • Theatrical Trailers (4K Only)

 

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES

  • Audio Commentary with Producer-Director Francis Lawrence and Producer Nina Jacobson
  • Featurettes: “Welcome Back to Panem,” “The Music of The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes,” “The Costumes of The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes” and The Casting of The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes”
  • “The Hanging Tree” Song by Rachel Zegler
  • A Letter to the Fans

APPLE TV SPECIAL FEATURES

  • Finding a Different Sound: The Music of The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes
  • Featurettes: “Welcome Back to Panem,” “The Music of The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes,” “The Costumes of The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes” and The Casting of The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes”
  • “The Hanging Tree” Song by Rachel Zegler
  • A Letter to the Fans

AMAZON BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVE SPECIAL FEATURES

  • Imagining a Retro Future: The Look of The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes
  • The Arc of a Tyrant: Creating Coriolanus Snow in The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes