Merchandising: ‘Black Widow,’ ‘Boss Baby’ Get Exclusive Treatment

Two big Sept. 14 releases — Disney’s Black Widow and Universal’s The Boss Baby: Family Business — arrived at retail with a couple of exclusive editions.

For Black Widow, the Marvel Cinematic Universe entry could be had at Target with a filmmaker booklet packed into the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack for $34.99. However, copies of the exclusive may be at short supply in some locations, and by Tuesday night it wasn’t listed on the chain’s website either.

Best Buy, as usual, offered the Black Widow 4K combo pack in Steelbook packaging for $34.99.

Best Buy’s ‘Black Widow’ 4K Steelbook

Amazon.com, which often has issues offering Disney discs, didn’t take preorders for any of the Blu-ray Widow discs and didn’t have a listing for them on release date, aside from some foreign editions listed by third-party sellers.

DreamWorks Animation’s The Boss Baby: Family Business was available at Target with a filmmaker booklet packed with the Blu-ray/DVD combo pack at $24.99.

Walmart’s ‘The Boss Baby: Family Business’ Blu-ray with puzzle

Walmart had the Blu-ray combo pack packed with a 63-piece puzzle for $24.96, just two bucks more than the wide-release version.

Among other promotions for the week, Best Buy also offered a 4K Steelbook combo pack of Warner’s The Shawshank Redemption at $31.99.

Best Buy’s ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ 4K Steelbook

Meanwhile, Target held a sale offering select Blu-rays from Disney’s Pixar for as low as $15.

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‘Black Widow,’ ‘Boss Baby 2,’ ‘Forever Purge’ Top List of Sept. 14 Disc and Digital Releases

Marvel Studios’ Black Widow and DreamWorks Animation’s The Boss Baby: Family Business lead the slate of new Blu-ray Disc and DVD releases Sept. 14, while Universal’s The Forever Purge becomes available for digital purchase.

Black Widow, distributed by Disney, arrives on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. The spy thriller stars Scarlett Johansson as her “Avengers” character Natasha Romanoff, whose reunion with former colleagues forces her to confront a past she thought she left behind. The cast also includes Florence Pugh, David Harbour and Rachel Weisz. It is the top earner at the domestic box office so far in 2021 with $183.1 million and has $372 million globally, It was also available concurrently as a $29.99 Premier Access add-on to the Disney+ streaming service, a fact that led Johansson to sue the studio on the theory that the online release undercut the film’s box office, causing her to miss out on millions of dollars of potential bonus earnings based on the box office.

The Boss Baby: Family Business is available on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Sept. 14 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. The sequel welcomes back the Templeton brothers — Tim (voice of James Marsden) and his Boss Baby little bro Ted (Alec Baldwin) — who have become adults and drifted away from each other. Enter new boss baby Tina (Amy Sedaris) determined to bring them together again and inspire a new family business. The voice cast also includes James Marsden, Ariana Greenblatt, Jeff Goldblum, Eva Longoria, James McGrath, Jimmy Kimmel and Lisa Kudrow. The film earned $57 millon at the domestic box office.

Two of animation’s top canine characters team up in Straight Outta Nowhere: Scooby-Doo Meets Courage the Cowardly Dog, a new, full-length animated family film now available on digital and DVD from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. Produced by Warner Bros. Animation, Straight Outta Nowhere: Scooby-Doo Meets Courage the Cowardly Dog finds the teen sleuths in the town of Nowhere, Kan., where they meet Courage the Cowardly Dog. There they investigate what makes the backwoods hometown of Courage and his owners Eustace and Muriel Bagge one of the weirdest places on Earth. The canine colleagues sniff out a strange object, putting the team on the trail of a giant cicada monster and her winged warriors.

The documentary The Human Factor Sept. 14 becomes available for digital purchase, and on DVD and Blu-ray Disc from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. With unprecedented access to the foremost American negotiators, The Human Factor offers a behind-the-scenes story of how in the past 25 years the United States came within reach of securing peace between Israel and its neighbors. The documentary, an official selection at the Telluride Film Festival, features Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk, Gamal Helal, Aaron David Miller, Daniel Kurtzer and Robert Malley.

The Chinese boxing-meets-mixed martial arts drama Crazy Fist arrives on Blu-ray, DVD and for digital purchase Sept. 14 from Well Go USA Entertainment. First time feature film director Guo Qing (who also appears in the film) directs Dragon Blade-alums Steve Yoo and Wang Wei, plus Collin Chou (Matrix II, III), Xiaoming Huang (Ip Man 2), Wei Zhao (Mulan: Rise of a Warrior) and retired professional bodybuilder Kai Greene (“Stranger Things”). In the film, after an opponent dies mid-match, a prominent MMA champion swore never to fight again, instead retiring to run his family’s international business. However, when his best friend dies under suspicious circumstances during another tournament, he has no choice but to step back in the ring to help uncover the truth.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment releases the HBO limited series Mare of Easttown on DVD Sept. 14. A Blu-ray Disc edition is available from Warner Archive Collection. The seven-part drama stars Kate Winslet as Mare Sheehan, a respected small-town Pennsylvania detective investigating a local murder while also balancing her own personal life, which is rapidly falling apart around her. The cast also includes Julianne Nicholson, Jean Smart, Angourie Rice, Evan Peters, Guy Pearce, David Denman, Joe Tippett, Cailee Spaeny, John Douglas Thompson, Patrick Murney, James McArdle, Sosie Bacon, Neal Huff, Kate Arrington, Ruby Cruz, Eisa Davis, Enid Graham, Justin Hurtt-Dunkley, Izzy King, Mackenzie Lansing, Cameron Mann, Kiah McKirnan, Jack Mulhern, Anthony Norman, Drew Scheid and Madeleine Weinstein.

The Shawshank Redemption debuts on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack and digital Sept. 14 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. The 1994 film received seven Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Morgan Freeman), Best Original Score and Best Screenplay, and marked the feature directorial debut of its screenwriter Frank Darabont, nominated for his adapted screenplay. Based on Stephen King’s novella Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, the drama tells the story of Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), a prominent banker unjustly convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment at Maine’s Shawshank Prison. He is befriended by longtime convict Red (Freeman) who’s been in long enough to know the ropes and helps him cope with the frightening realities of prison life.  As the two men grow closer, so does the sense of hope that can truly set them free.

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CBS and Paramount Home Entertainment release Magnum P.I. — Season Three on DVD Sept. 14. A remake of the 1980s series, “Magnum P.I.” stars Jay Hernandez as Tom Magnum, an American hero and Navy SEAL returning from war who uses his military skills to become a private investigator in Oahu, Hawaii. Magnum lives in a guest cottage on Robin’s Nest, the luxurious estate where he works as a security consultant to supplement his P.I. business.

Mill Creek Entertainment releases “The Ultraman” and “Ultraman 80”  in their North American DVD debut Sept. 14. Mill Creek Entertainment has licensed the available “Ultraman” back-catalog via international distribution company Indigo Entertainment from Tsuburaya Productions. “The Ultraman” is the eighth original entry in the “Ultraman” series. This DVD collection includes all 50 episodes. In the animated series, across the planet Earth, strange glowing objects in the form of an unknown language appear in the skies. In order to investigate these strange phenomena, the Earth Defense Forces form the Science Guard Agency. The ninth original series is “Ultraman 80.” This 50-episode series follows Takeshi Yamato, a 22-year-old young man who lives a double life. During the daytime, he is a rookie but popular science teacher at a junior high school in Tokyo. But after school and on Sundays he works as a member of the elite UGM (Utility Government Members), an Earth defense organization that tackles difficult situations such as alien invasion and attacks from monsters.

The documentary Fish & Men comes out on DVD, VOD and digital sellthrough Sept. 14 from Virgil Films. Fish & Men explores the high cost of cheap fish in the modern seafood economy, and the forces threatening local fishing communities as well as the public health.

The horror film Companion will come out on on demand Sept. 14 from Level 33 Entertainment. In the film’s plot, in 2030, society fell as malicious entities appeared around the world. The survivors fight each other and the dead. In this landscape, Ella Grace’s burden of guilt is exposed. The past, and the horrors of what she will become, force Ella to kill what she loves in order to discover the terrifying meaning of the ghosts that feed on her fear.

Breaking Glass Pictures Sept. 14 releases The Influencer, a comedy thriller starring real-life social influencer and comedian Kasia Szarek (A24’s Pleasure) and Shantell Yasmine Abeydeera (Girls Like Magic, Dating in Place), on DVD and for digital purchase. From first-time director Meghan Weinstein, The Influencer is a tale that examines the life of a vain social media influencer named Abbie, who is known for her fashion, lifestyle, and makeup videos. She signs a coveted contract with Nutrocon, a cosmetic company known to pollute, test on animals, and treat female workers unfairly, and almost immediately she is accosted and tied up by a group of activists in her home. They force her to film a video advertising a mysterious new makeup kit, and as their plan unfolds, we learn the real reason for their visit and Abbie’s façade begins to fade.

Also this week, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Sept. 17 will make director James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad available for premium digital ownership. Written and directed by Gunn, the film is based on the DC Comics series about imprisoned supervillains who are recruited by the U.S. government for covert operations, and have a bomb implanted in their heads that will explode if they don’t comply. A sequel to 2016’s Suicide Squad and the 10th film in the DC Extended Universe franchise, the film finds government agent Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) sending the team to infiltrate the island nation of Corto Maltese to eliminate a potentially dangerous weapon. Among the recruits this time around are Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), the sharpshooter Bloodsport (Idris Elba), the jingoistic Peacemaker (John Cena), team leader Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian), Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), and King Shark (voiced by Sylvester Stallone). The film will be released on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Oct. 26.

A complete list of new disc and digital releases, compiled each week by the Media Play News market research team, can be found here.

Black Widow

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 9/14/21;
Disney/Marvel;
Action;
Box Office $183.1 million;
$29.99 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $43.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for intense sequences of violence/action, some language and thematic material.
Stars Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, David Harbour, Rachel Weisz, O-T Fagbenie, William Hurt, Ray Winstone, Olga Kurylenko.

The 24th movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe canon finally puts the focus on Black Widow, the enigmatic member of the Avengers whose primary character arc has been seeking redemption for past misdeeds from her life as a Russian spy and assassin.

The film is mostly set in between the events of 2016’s Captain America: Civil War and 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War, when Black Widow, aka Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) is on the run after betraying Black Panther during the feud between Iron Man and Captain America that shattered the Avengers superhero team.

We also learn more about Natasha’s backstory, thanks to an opening flashback to her youth when she was posing as the daughter for a family of Russian sleeper agents in Ohio. When the mission ends, she and her “sister” Yelena are sent to the Red Room, a secret Russian program that has been re-conditioning young girls into deadly secret agents for decades.

Natasha believes she destroyed the Red Room when she defected from Russia, but soon learns from the adult Yelena (Florence Pugh) that not only does it still exist, but it has refined its methods for brainwashing its army of girls. Yelena has come across a chemical that can restore their free will, but is now on the run herself, pursued by the Taskmaster, the Terminator-esque enforcer of the Red Room.

To stop the Red Room once and for all, Natasha and Yelena must recruit their former “parents” (David Harbour and Rachel Weisz) for an explosive family reunion.

In both style and story, Black Widow positions itself as a sequel to Civil War and a spinoff of the “Captain America” movies. Director Cate Shortland takes a lot of cues from how the Russo Brothers established the espionage thriller tone of their corner of the franchise in both Civil War and 2014’s Captain America: Winter Soldier.

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While Black Widow has a wealth of comic book source material to draw from, it plays less like a superhero movie and more like a female-centric homage to James Bond, with story points and action sequences that seem directly inspired by the long-running spy franchise (aside from an opening sequence that is more in line with “The Americans”).

This seems to have set off a divide among online fans. A number of comic book fans have been complaining about unfulfilled expectations about adapting the comics lore. Meanwhile, those who might not be as familiar with the comic books and are fans because of the movie side of things are more likely to see this as a fun action thriller, though it’s hard to deny it resorts to some narrative shortcuts in its final act.

Still, it’s a fun movie that looks great and offers some fantastic action. Johansson does a nice job fleshing out a character mostly relegated to a supporting role before now, but the MVP of the film is Pugh, whose Yelena character is now well established to carry forward in the MCU.

Be warned, though. This being the new era of MCU on Disney+ means that viewing the Disney+ Marvel shows will give a better appreciation of how the post-credits scene pushes the new phase of the MCU forward.

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The Blu-ray includes a one-minute introduction to the film from Shortland, who discusses how she wanted to explore Natasha’s character  by giving her a family. To this end, the five-minute featurette “Sisters Gonna Work It Out” explores the relationship between Natasha and Yelena, and the actresses who play them.

The nine-minute “Go Big if You’re Going Home” featurette covers more of the making of the film in general, giving a glimpse of the film’s on-location shooting, its visual effects and its complicated stunts.

The Blu-ray also includes a three-minute gag reel, plus 14 minutes of deleted scenes that offer a few quiet character moments but mostly expand upon concepts that are already in the film.

The extras are contained on the regular Blu-ray Disc of the film included with the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack. The 4K disc offers just the movie.

Originally published as a theatrical review July 12, 2021.

‘Black Widow’ Tops Vudu Chart, Bumping ‘F9: The Fast Saga’ to No. 2

Marvel Studios’ Black Widow, newly available to own in 4K UHD, debuted at No. 1 on the list of the 10 most popular movies on Fandango’s transactional VOD service Vudu the week ended Aug. 15.

The film, which with a domestic theatrical gross of more than $178 million is the year’s biggest box office hit, knocked Universal Pictures’ F9: The Fast Saga to No. 2 after two weeks in the top spot.

Black Widow was released to all major digital platforms Aug. 10 following a concurrent run in theaters and as a Disney+ Premier Access PVOD add-on. In the film, Scarlett Johansson reprises her role as Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, and confronts her darker parts when a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her past arises. Hounded by a force that will stop at nothing to bring her down, Natasha must deal with her history as a spy and the broken relationships left in her wake long before she became an Avenger.

Along with Johansson, the cast includes Florence Pugh as Yelena, David Harbour as Alexei/The Red Guardian and Rachel Weisz as Melina.

Black Widow has also courted legal controversy, as Johansson is suing Disney over the film’s profits, claiming the box office take was diminished by the simultaneous PVOD strategy, thus lowering her potential earnings from the movie.

F9 is the ninth installment in the main “Fast & Furious” franchise. The film became available for premium rental July 30.

Lionsgate’s sequel Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard slipped to No. 3 from No. 2. The action comedy starring Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson and Salma Hayek debuted for digital purchase July 27.

The horror sequel A Quiet Place Part II, from Paramount Pictures, also slipped a notch to No. 4, while Warner’s Mortal Kombat finished the week at No. 5.

Vudu’s top 10 titles for the week ended Aug. 15, in terms of revenue, are as follows:

  1. Black Widow
  2. F9: The Fast Saga
  3. The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard
  4. A Quiet Place Part II
  5. Mortal Kombat
  6. Joe Bell
  7. The Forever Purge
  8. Nobody
  9. Wrath of Man
  10. Pig

‘Black Widow,’ ‘Batman: The Long Halloween — Part II,’ ‘The Misfits’ Lead List of Aug. 10 Digital and Disc Releases

Aug. 10 sees Marvel’s Black Widow become available for digital purchase, while new disc releases include the second half of Batman: The Long Halloween from Warner, and heist movie The Misfits, from Paramount.

Black Widow, from Disney-owned Marvel Studios, arrives early on all major digital platforms Aug. 10 following a concurrent run in theaters and as a Disney+ Premier Access PVOD add-on. Scarlett Johansson reprises her role as Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, in this action-packed spy thriller in which she confronts the darker parts of her ledger when a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her past arises. Pursued by a force that will stop at nothing to bring her down, Natasha must deal with her history as a spy and the broken relationships left in her wake long before she became an Avenger. Along with Johansson, Florence Pugh stars as Yelena, David Harbour portrays Alexei/The Red Guardian and Rachel Weisz is Melina. Black Widow, the first film in Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is directed by Cate Shortland and produced by Kevin Feige. The film is the top-grossing U.S. earner with $174 million and counting, and has earned $360 million worldwide. But it has also courted legal controversy, as Johansson is suing Disney over the film’s profits, claiming the box office take was diminished by the simultaneous PVOD strategy, thus lowering her potential earnings from the movie.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment releases Batman: The Long Halloween — Part Two on Blu-ray Disc Aug. 10. It is already available as a digital download. The film continues the storyline from Part One, released June 22. It is based on the 1996-97 comic book miniseries that takes place early in Batman’s vigilante career, as the young crimefighter forms a pact with the city’s only two uncorrupt lawmen, police Capt. James Gordon and DA Harvey Dent, to take down organized crime in Gotham City, only to be tested by a serial killer who murders his victims on holidays throughout the year. The voice cast includes Jensen Ackles as Batman, Josh Duhamel as Harvey Dent, Billy Burke as Jim Gordon, Katee Sackhoff as Poison Ivy, Titus Welliver as Carmine Falcone, David Dastmalchian as Calendar Man, Troy Baker as Joker, Amy Landecker as Barbara Gordon, Julie Nathanson as Gilda Dent, Fred Tatasciore as Solomon Grundy, Jim Pirri as Sal Maroni, Alastair Duncan as Alfred, and the late Naya Rivera as Catwoman in one of her final performances, recorded before her death in 2020. A 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of Batman: The Long Halloween will arrive in 2022 with both parts combined into a longer film.

The action film The Misfits comes out on Blu-ray and DVD Aug. 10 from Paramount Home Entertainment. Directed by Renny Harlin, The Misfits stars Pierce Brosnan, Rami Jaber, Hermione Corfield, Jamie Chung, Mike Angelo, Tim Roth and Nick Cannon. The story follows a band of modern-day Robin Hoods known as “The Misfits,” who recruit renowned thief Richard Pace (Brosnan) to help them pull off the heist of the century to steal millions in gold bars stashed underneath one of the world’s most secure prisons.

The thriller Profile arrives on and Blu-ray Disc and DVD Aug. 10 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. Inspired by true events, Profile follows an undercover British journalist on her quest to bait and expose a terrorist recruiter through social media, while trying not to be sucked in by her recruiter and lured into becoming a militant extremist herself. The unconventional thriller directed by Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted) plays out entirely on a computer screen in the screen life format.

Liosngate releases the Australian sci-fi actioner Occupation: Rainfall on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Aug. 10. A sequel to the 2018 film Occupation, written and directed by Luke Sparke, the film chronicles humanity’s fight to survive two years into an intergalactic invasion of Earth. While casualties of the desperate ground war mount by the day, the resistance — along with some unexpected allies — uncovers a plot that could bring the war to a decisive end. The cast includes Daniel Gillies, Dan Ewing, Mark Coles Smith, Temuera Morrison and Ken Jeong.

The thriller Till Death, starring Megan Fox, will arrive on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Aug. 10. It is already available for digital purchase from Screen Media. Fox plays a woman stuck in a stale marriage who is surprised when her whisks her away to their secluded lake house for a romantic evening on their 10th anniversary. But everything changes when she wakes up to discover herself handcuffed to his dead body. Trapped and isolated in the dead of winter, she must fight off hired killers to escape a twisted that gets more sinister at every turn. The cast also includes Callan Mulvey, Eoin Macken, Aml Ameen and Jack Roth.

Lionsgate releases the coming-of-age romantic drama Finding You on DVD and as a Blu-ray/DVD/Digital combo pack Aug. 10. Based on the young-adult novel There You’ll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones, the film stars Rose Reid as aspiring violinist Finley Sinclair, who signs up for a semester abroad program in Ireland after her audition for an elite New York conservatory goes awry. Staying in a quaint Irish coastal village, she encounters charming heartthrob movie star Beckett Rush (Jedidiah Goodacre of “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”), who is there to film the next installment of his medieval fantasy-action franchise. As Beckett’s free-spiritedness helps Finley find the heart and passion that was missing from her music, Finley’s honesty inspires Beckett to pursue his true passion, and they discover that a change of scenery may be all they need to find themselves — and true love. The cast also includes Katherine McNamara, Vanessa Redgrave, Tom Everett Scott and Saoirse-Monica Jackson.

MPI Media Group Aug. 10 releases Scenes from an Empty Church on DVD. In a locked-down New York City, two priests open their church doors to those seeking salvation during the pandemic. From the commonplace to the truly metaphysical, their visitors reflect the full spectrum of personal crises of spirituality. Throughout their encounters with the city’s sweetest, wildest and weirdest, the two priests learn the importance of connection, empathy and open-mindedness.

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Two horror films, Lust and Through the Shadow, and the science-fiction fantasy I Am Toxic come out on DVD Aug. 10 from Jinga Films and MVD Entertainment Group.

In the Spanish-language Lust, a famous crime writer becomes a victim after a crazed fan brutally attacks her. Isolated in her apartment she tries to recover but continues to feel threatened after experiencing strange events. Her psychiatrist believes that it’s all in her mind, a result of post-traumatic stress, but she is convinced that her attacker is stalking her and resorts to extreme violence to protect herself. Extras include behind-the-scenes featurettes, stills and a trailer.

The Portuguese-language Through the Shadow follows prim and assuming Laura who moves to the countryside of 20th century Rio de Janeiro and is unprepared for life on an isolated plantation. Hired as a nanny for two young orphans who live on their uncle’s coffee farm, she soon notices that things are not all as they seem. Confronted with continual apparitions, and noting the children’s increasingly ambiguous behavior, Laura becomes convinced in the presence of hostile spirits whom she believes are intent on taking possession of her young charges. With growing concerns for their safety, she strives to unravel the mysteries of her new home without realizing that it may be herself who is in mortal danger. Based on Henry James classic novel The Turn Of The Screw.

In the Spanish-language I Am Toxic, a man wakes in a world ravaged by biological warfare with no memory of his previous life. Taken prisoner by scavengers he meets a young woman who helps him escape. As the scavengers pursue them through barren wastelands he discovers that he must make the ultimate sacrifice to save her.

Nickelodeon’s Are You Afraid of the Dark? — Curse of the Shadows, a follow-up to 2019’s reimagined limited series horror anthology, comes out on DVD Aug. 10 from Paramount Home Entertainment and Nickelodeon Home Entertainment. Based on the ‘90s kids’ cult classic and featuring a  new story, the second season includes six hour-long episodes that follow an all-new group of kids as they tell the tale of a curse that has been cast over their small seaside town, haunted by a villain named the Shadowman. After their leader goes missing, it’s up to the remaining members of the Midnight Society to break the curse and free the Shadowman’s victims, before they too disappear into the shadows.

The Friday the 13th 8-Movie Collection arrives on Blu-ray Aug. 10 from Paramount Home Entertainment. Set for release before the only Friday the 13th of the year on Aug. 13, the horror series following psychotic killer Jason Voorhees includes newly remastered versions of the first four films and hours of previously released special features including deleted scenes, making of featurettes and commentaries. The set also includes access to digital copies of all eight movies, including the “uncut” edition of the original Friday the 13th.

A complete list of new disc and digital releases, compiled each week by the Media Play News market research team, can be found here.

Disney/Marvel’s ‘Black Widow’ Moves Atop 2021 Domestic Box Office

Entering the Aug. 8 weekend, Disney/Marvel’s Black Widow moved past Universal Pictures’ F9: The Fast Saga to become the top-grossing year-to-date domestic box office release with $171.5 million. F9 had $170.5 million, according to industry figures.

The movies have grossed $348 million and $644.3 million worldwide, respectively. The former has become a legal issue for Disney.

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Despite its current No. 1 standing in the U.S., Black Widow is seen by some observers as having underperformed theatrically in the U.S. — most notably by lead star Scarlett Johansson. The actress last month filed a lawsuit against Disney alleging the studio deliberately co-released the movie on its Premier Access platform to Disney+ subscribers in an effort to reduce its compensation to her.

Disney said it generated $60 million in PVOD revenue on Widow’s opening weekend, followed by $30 million over the second weekend. It’s not known what, if any, Johansson’s contract included PVOD sales, though Disney attorney Daniel Petrocelli told Variety Aug. 6 that the studio did include the Premier Access release in Johansson’s bonus as if it were box office cash.

Exhibitor trade group National Association of Theatre Owners blasted Disney for its hybrid box office/streaming distribution strategy, arguing the move undercut the media giant’s long-term financial possibilities, including home entertainment.

Disney would argue the concurrent releases were due to the ongoing pandemic that has left theaters operating at reduced capacity, moviegoers wary of the Delta variant, the politics of vaccinations, a desire to grow Disney+ subscribers and take advantage of PVOD’s higher profit margins than theatrical.

Disney+ subs paid a $29.99 add-on for SVOD access to Black Widow. The movie is set to become available on transactional digital platforms Aug. 10 and  on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc, Blu-ray and DVD on Sept. 14.

Scarlett Johansson Sues Disney Over ‘Black Widow’ PVOD Release

In a significant development, Scarlett Johansson, star of Disney/Marvel Studios’ Black Widow, has filed a lawsuit against Disney for its concurrent theatrical and Premier Access VOD release of the Marvel superhero movie earlier this month.

The suit, filed in U.S. Superior Court in Los Angeles, alleges her contract with Marvel Entertainment and Disney was breached by the distribution strategy that seeks to release select movies simultaneously in a (shortened) 45-day theatrical window and into consumer homes via premium VOD.

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Black Widow was marketed to Disney+ subscribers as a $29.99 add-on, which resulted in Disney reporting more than $60 million in incremental revenue over the same weekend the theatrical release generated $80 million at the domestic box office and $78 million internationally. The dual-release strategy angered some distributors who claimed the PVOD release took revenue away from exhibitors and undermined the movie’s box office lifespan.

To Johansson, whose financial compensation is tied to box office revenue of Black Widow — not streaming — the move resulted in a direct hit on her compensation. A media report suggests the PVOD release cost Johansson $50 million in compensation.

“Disney intentionally induced Marvel’s breach of the agreement, without justification, in order to prevent Ms. Johansson from realizing the full benefit of her bargain with Marvel,” read Johansson’s complaint.

Disney, the global box office champ in 2019 with more than $11 billion in ticket sales — largely from Marvel movies — quietly transitioned some movie releases to Premier Access, beginning with Mulan last Labor Day — as a way of combating the pandemic’s impact on moviegoers and theatrical attendance.

In a media statement, Disney claimed there is “no merit whatsoever” to Johansson’s litigation. It went further to lament the actress’ filing, reportedly saying the actress had already been paid $20 million in compensation for Black Widow.

“The lawsuit is especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Disney’s statement read.

Disney’s upcoming Jungle Cruise is slated for concurrent theatrical and Premier Access release.

Disney isn’t the only studio to fall in the crosshairs of actors, producers and directors. When WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar unilaterally decided to release Warner’s entire 2021 theatrical slate concurrently on HBO Max, many players within the studio system said they were blindsided by the move, in addition to being impacted financially. To meet contractual obligations for films such as Wonder Woman 1984, Warner reportedly paid $200 million in talent bonuses based on projected box office had the movie releases not been impacted by the pandemic.

Kilar says Warner will return to the theatrical window in 2022, while also releasing 10 movies concurrently on HBO Max.

Disney/Marvel’s ‘Black Widow’ Arrives Early on Digital Aug. 10, and 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray Disc/DVD Sept. 14

Disney-owned Marvel Studios has announced that superhero theatrical/PVOD hit Black Widow is arriving early on all major digital platforms on Aug. 10, and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray Disc and DVD on Sept. 14.

The movie, starring Scarlett Johansson, generated $322 million at the global box office, including $155 million domestically. It also generated more than $60 million in Premier Access revenue its first weekend as an add-on to Disney+. The retail release will be available in Ultra HD and immersive Dolby Atmos audio, along with never-before-seen bonus footage, including nine deleted scenes, bloopers and featurettes.

In the action-packed spy thriller, Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, confronts the darker parts of her ledger when a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her past arises. Pursued by a force that will stop at nothing to bring her down, Natasha must deal with her history as a spy and the broken relationships left in her wake long before she became an Avenger.

Along with Johansson, Florence Pugh stars as Yelena, David Harbour portrays Alexei/The Red Guardian and Rachel Weisz is Melina. Black Widow, the first film in Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is directed by Cate Shortland and produced by Kevin Feige.

Extras include:

  • Bloopers — Take a look at some of the fun mishaps on set with the cast and crew of “Black Widow.”
  • Deleted Scenes
    • Grocery Shopping — Natasha heads into a grocery store to prepare for her journey through Norway. After a long drive, she arrives at her destination: a mysterious trailer in the middle of nowhere.
    • Bike Chase — Tailed by assailants, Natasha and Yelena speed through the city in order to escape their nemeses.
    • Gulag Fight — Alexei squares up against several enemies and is quickly overpowered. When all hope seems lost, Natasha leaps in to lend a hand in the fight.
    • Smile — The Taskmaster protocol is activated in a tense moment, and an iconic helmet is unveiled.
    • Come After Me — Secretary Ross and Mason discover an important message Natasha left behind.
    • Walk and Talk — Alexei and Melina have a playful exchange. The Taskmaster arrives and faces off with Alexei.
    • Widows in Training — Yelena and Alexei awaken in captivity. Melina hands the Taskmaster vials while the Widows train.
    • Kiss — Alexei and Melina reunite after the action. Natasha grieves over an untimely demise in the brutal aftermath.
    • Ohio — Natasha witnesses the carefree nature of the Ohio suburbs through the neighborhood children.
  • Filmmaker Introduction Featurette — Director Cate Shortland introduces the film and her vision for it.
  • Sisters Gonna Work It Out Featurette — Watch Scarlett and Florence as they train, fight, and bond to become the sister duo in Black Widow. Listen as the cast and crew discuss the characters, rigorous training, and building the dynamic between the two fearsome siblings.
  • Go Big If You’re Going Home Featurette — Step back to appreciate the size and scale of “Black Widow”’s solo film. Shot around the world, the film balances family and drama with mind-blowing action. The cast and crew reveal the intricacies of stunts that made the film so action-packed.

Theater Group Slams Disney’s ‘Black Widow’ PVOD Release Strategy Following Box Office Drop

NEWS ANALYSIS — Following the 80% drop at the domestic weekend box office for Disney/Marvel Studios’ Black Widow, which saw Warner Bros.’ Looney Tunes sequel Space Jam: A New Legacy, featuring NBA superstar LeBron James, finish No. 1 in ticket sales, one interested party is blaming Disney+ and PVOD.

The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) has long been a champion of the theatrical window — the 90-day exclusive period enriching exhibitors and studios while laying the groundwork for secondary distribution channels such as packaged media retail, digital and pay-TV.

Disney, via Marvel superhero movies, dominated the last pre-pandemic theatrical year in 2019 with more than $11.1 billion in global box office revenue. But the times have changed, and with vaccinations becoming politicized and moviegoers now presented with earlier in-home movie access via HBO Max (Warner) and premium VOD (Disney, Universal, Lionsgate) and Paramount+ and Peacock (NBCUniversal), NATO is fuming at the fiscal repercussions.

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Indeed, Warner is releasing its entire 2021 theatrical slate — including Space Jam: A New Legacy — concurrently for free to subscribers on Max. Disney has made select movies (i.e. Black Widow) available for $29.99 purchase on Disney+.

Citing Black Widow’s excellent reviews, positive word of mouth, and strong previews and opening day total ($13.2 million/$39.5 million), the trade group was surprised by the movie’s 41% second-day drop in ticket sales, a weaker-than-expected opening weekend, and a stunning second weekend collapse in theatrical revenues.

“Why did such a well-made, well-received, highly anticipated movie underperform?,” the group asked in a July 18 statement.

NATO contends that despite assertions that the pandemic-era improvised release strategy was a success for Disney and the simultaneous home entertainment release model, the legacy exclusive theatrical release window translates into more revenue for all stakeholders in every cycle of the movie’s life.

Based on comparable Marvel titles, and other successful pandemic-era titles like F9: The Fast Saga and A Quiet Place Part II opening day to weekend ratios, NATO says Black Widow should have opened to anywhere from $92 million to $100 million. Based on preview revenue, compared with the same titles, Black Widow could have opened to anywhere from $97 million to $130 million.

Widow opened with a $80 million domestic box office weekend.

NATO contends early analysis pointed at the $60 million in Disney’s Premier Access (PVOD) revenue and compared it to the domestic theatrical of $80 million and suggested a success, especially since Disney keeps every dollar of home release.

“It does not,” writes NATO. “Approximately 15% of revenue goes to the various platforms through which consumers access Disney+. It ignores that Premier Access revenue is not newfound money, but was pulled forward from a more-traditional PVOD window, which is no longer an option.”

The trade group pointed out the average number of people per household in the U.S. is 2.37 — a number considered to be higher among family-oriented Disney+ households.

“How much password sharing is there among Disney+ subscribers?,” asked NATO. “Combined with the lost theatrical revenue and forgone traditional PVOD revenue, the answer to these questions will show that simultaneous release costs Disney money in revenue per viewer over the life of the film.”

Piracy no doubt further affected Black Widow’s performance, and will affect its future performance in international markets where it has yet to open.
Pristine digital copies became available within minutes of release on Disney+. Black Widow was the most pirated movie for the week endedJuly 12. It was also available on myriad illegal streaming sites all over the Internet.

NATO said similar digital piracy/password sharing occurred for all simultaneous releases, including Wonder Woman 1984, Godzilla vs. Kong, Cruella and Mortal Kombat).

“This did not happen for F9 or A Quiet Place 2,” wrote NATO. “How much money did everyone lose to simultaneous release piracy?”

The trade group suggests that the many questions raised by Disney’s limited release of streaming data opening weekend are being “rapidly answered” by Black Widow’s “disappointing and anomalous” performance.

“The most important answer is that simultaneous release is a pandemic-era artifact that should be left to history with the pandemic itself,” wrote NATO.

‘Space Jam 2’ Slam Dunks ‘Black Widow’ in Weekend Box Office Upset

Warner Bros. Pictures’ Looney Tunes live-action/animation hybrid sequel Space Jam: A New Legacy, with LeBron James taking over Michael Jordan’s role in the 1996 original, is projected to dethrone Disney/Marvel Studios’ blockbuster Black Widow after just one stint atop the domestic weekend box office.

Industry estimates peg A New Legacy generating from $32 million to $35 million across almost 4,000 screens over the three-day weekend ending July 18. Widow, starring Scarlett Johansson in the title role, is projected to generate about $25 million across nearly 4,300 screens, bringing its total around $130 million.

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While the weekend box office won’t come near the $100 million threshold, Space Jam and Widow grosses are relatively strong considering the renewed government mask mandate in theaters in Los Angeles, and both titles being available to consumers in the home. A New Legacy is streaming for free for 31 days to subscribers on HBO Max, while Widow is available as a $29.99 add-on for Disney+ subscribers.

Among other releases, Sony Pictures’ freshman thriller Escape Room: Tournament of Champions is projected to generate more than $8 million, according to the studio. Universal Pictures/Focus Features’ Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain is expected to top $1 million, while Neon’s Pig, featuring Nicolas Cage as a truffle farmer in search of his lost truffle-sniffing hog, could top $500,000.

Mainstay holdovers such as F9: The Fast Saga and The Boss Baby: Family Business are projected to sustain their theatrical momentum, with the former generating another $6.7 million in ticket sales, and the latter $4.4 million. F9 joins A Quiet Place Part II topping $150 million in domestic business.