‘1917’ Back Atop U.K. Home Video Chart

Entertainment One’s 1917 returned to the No. 1 spot on the Official Film Chart following its release on DVD, Blu-ray and 4K UHD. The three-time Oscar-winning World War I movie from Universal Pictures and director Sam Mendes sold 146,000 DVD/Blu-ray Disc units for the week ended May 27, knocking last week’s chart-topper Bad Boys For Life from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment down to No. 2.

Disney/Pixar’s Onward maintained  the third spot while Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker climbed two places to No. 4. Little Women (Sony Pictures) dropped one spot to No. 5.

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Disney’s The Call of the Wild entered the chart in sixth. The Harrison Ford-starring reboot about a dog named Buck whose life is uprooted when he is removed from his home and ends up in the wilds of the Alaskan Yukon during the 1890s Gold Rush, was released on disc in the United States on May 12 by Disney/Fox.

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Universal Pictures Home Entertainment’s Cats debuted at No. 7 featuring Taylor Swift, James Corden, Jason Derulo and Dame Judi Dench as a tribe of cats, with one of them ascending for yearly reincarnation.

Finally, Disney’s Frozen II (8), Sony Pictures’ Jumanji: The Next Level (9) and Dinesy/Fox’s Jojo Rabbit (10) remained in the Top 10 for another week.

ESPN Looking to Replicate ‘Last Dance’ Doc Success with ‘LANCE’ Armstrong

Without live sports to showcase, analyze and endlessly promote, ESPN has resorted to televising and streaming documentaries and classic games from the past. On the heels of its success (5.6 million viewers per episode) with the Michael Jordan-themed documentary ‘The Last Dance,” the Disney-owned sports network is hoping to come close with new “30 for 30” doc “LANCE,” as in disgraced Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong.

ESPN says the two-part series (May 24/31) showcases the story of the cyclist’s rise out of Texas as a young superstar cyclist; his harrowing battle with testicular cancer; his recovery and emergence as a global icon with his seven consecutive Tour de France titles; and then his massive fall after he was exposed in one of the largest doping scandals in history.

While all true, the series more importantly reveals just how angry Armstrong remains seven years after his spectacular fall from grace following admission of systemic use of performance enhancing drugs to Oprah Winfrey, the subsequent vacating of his record seven Tour titles by French officials, and loss of tens of millions of dollars in endorsement deals.

With filters removed per his and doc director Marina Zenovich’s request, Armstrong, 49, quips and disses on everyone from his mother’s parenting, stepfather’s discipline, antidoping officials who pursued him and disloyal former teammates — except himself.

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The Plano, Texas, native remains controversial largely due to his outsized ego and competitive drive to excel in a sport historically dominated by Europeans — and in the process sell lots of bikes, kits, books and yellow fighting-cancer Livestrong wrist bands to corporate America and weekend warriors who might otherwise have swung a golf club, tennis racket or gone jogging.

“Lance’s fans pay retail,” said one bike shop owner.

The Texan’s current podcasts — The MOVE (about bike racing) and The Forward Podcast — the latter showcasing eclectic subjects fielding questions from Armstrong — underscore his singular talent to engage people with charm and swagger.

A glimpse into Armstrong’s cunning is revealed early (age 16) when he bends the rules to enter his first triathlon: “Forge the certificate, compete illegally, and beat everybody,” he brags.

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Armstrong isn’t remorseful about cheating (“I wouldn’t change a thing,” he says), he’s angry he came out of retirement (for more glory) and got legally outmaneuvered by government investigators in the process. For years, Armstrong and his team of high-paid lawyers had threatened and harassed anyone who suggested his story wasn’t actually about beating testicular cancer and becoming an iconic champion through grit and hard work.

Ironically, a few years after the Winfrey mea culpa, Armstrong found himself being booed in an Austin, Texas, restaurant.

“Some people just can’t chill the fuck out,” he said. “They’re pissed still, and they’ll be pissed forever.”

Merchandising: ‘Onward’ to a Slew of Exclusives

Target and Best Buy offered a slew of exclusives for several of the new titles hitting shelves May 19, particularly for Disney’s Onward and Warner’s Justice League Dark: Apokolips War.

For Onward, the latest Pixar release, Target offered a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with a gallery booklet and slipcover for $34.99. Best Buy had a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbook edition for the same price.

Best Buy’s ‘Onward’ Steelbook

Onward arrived at retail without much fanfare, as Disney did little to promote the disc version after the studio’s prominent announcement the Pixar fantasy would be available on the Disney+ streaming service in early April. Stores then offered the DVD, Blu-ray and 4K editions without the so-called first-week discount, typically $2 to $5 off new releases. That is, the stores that bothered to actually put them on shelves. A clerk at a Target in Tustin, Calif., found the box of the store’s entire inventory hidden in the stockroom after being prompted to search for them by customers wondering why the shelf spaces allocated for them were empty despite other new releases having been put out, and the Target website indicating all versions were in stock at that store.

Further, the lack of a slipcover for the regular 4K and Blu-ray editions motivated several Pixar collectors to take to message boards to complain that their absence, in addition to the lack of early discount, would lead them to forgo buying the title until it goes on sale for the holidays. (Slipcovers, often sought by collectors, are typically only included with new discs in their early shipments to stores.)

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Moreover, Onward was also apparently not for sale through Amazon.com except via third-party sellers, and even then finding the disc versions wasn’t particularly easy to do through Amazon’s search function.

Onward’s lack of presence on Amazon is similar to another Disney-owned title, Fox’s The Call of the Wild, which didn’t have a disc listing at the online retailer until several days after its May 12 street date. This may relate to longstanding issues Amazon often has with studios such as Disney over distribution agreements for new titles, leading to Amazon not to take preorders for such titles.

Similarly, the newly released disc of Disney-owned Fox’s Downhill was almost nowhere to be found not just on Amazon (where it was offered by marketplace sellers, essentially Amazon’s version of eBay), but any physical store shelves, being relegated to the online stores of the major retailers.

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For Justice League Dark: Apokolips War, Target offered a Steelbook edition of the Blu-ray/DVD combo pack for $19.99, while Best Buy offered a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray gift set that included a figurine of the Teen Titans’ Raven character for $29.99.

Best Buy’s ‘Justice League Dark: Apokolips War’ with figurine

Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog was offered as a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbook by Best Buy for $32.99.


Best Buy’s ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ Steelbook

Best Buy also offered Universal’s new The Blues Brothers 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release as a Steelbook edition for $19.99.

Best Buy’s ‘Blues Brothers’ 4K Steelbook

Another Best Buy promotion lets customers buy Warner’s The Way Back Blu-ray at $19.99 and get $5 off another Warner Blu-ray.

Finally, Best Buy is already taking preorders for Warner’s Scoob!, which was released through digital channels May 15. The digital version is available now for $24.99, and Best Buy is offering the DVD at $17.99, Blu-ray at $19.99 and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray at $27.99, though no street date for the discs has been announced.

Disney Streaming Boss Kevin Mayer Jumps to China’s TikTok as CEO

In a surprise move, Kevin Mayer, chairman of Disney’s direct-to-consumer & International unit, is leaving to become COO of the corporate parent of Chinese-owned social media platform TikTok, effective June 1.

Mayer, who has spent 25 years at Disney, will report directly to Yiming Zhang, founder/CEO of ByteDance. He will be charged with driving the global development at ByteDance, as well as overseeing corporate functions, including corporate development, sales, marketing, public affairs, security, moderation, and legal.

In his role as COO, Mayer will lead music, gaming, Helo, emerging businesses, and will also serve as CEO of TikTok, leading the rapidly growing platform as it continues to build its global community of creators, users, and brands.

“Kevin’s wealth of experience building successful global businesses makes him an outstanding fit for our mission of inspiring creativity for users globally,” Zhang said in a statement.

As chairman of Disney’s revamped home entertainment unit, consumer products and international business, Mayer oversaw rollout of Disney+, the company’s flagship subscription streaming video service. Additionally, Mayer led the company’s other direct-to-consumer businesses, including Hulu, ESPN+, and India’s Hotstar, as well as overseeing Disney’s international operations, global ad sales, and global content sales.

“Like everyone else, I’ve been impressed watching [ByteDance] build something incredibly rare in TikTok — a creative, positive online global community,” Mayer said.

The executive said he is grateful to Bob Iger for his visionary leadership and mentorship over many years, and Bob Chapek, whom Mayer said he greatly admires.

Alex Zhu, the current president of TikTok, will transition to ByteDance VP of product and strategy, where he will focus on his primary passion overseeing strategy and product design.

Kelly Zhang and Lidong Zhang will continue to lead the business as CEO and Chairman of ByteDance China, respectively, reporting to Yiming Zhang, as ByteDance’s global CEO. They manage a range of products, including Douyin, Toutiao, and Xigua, in addition to their duties leading the business and operational teams in China.

In the management restructuring, TikTok said its national and regional management leaders would remain in their roles with their current responsibilities, reporting to Mayer.

‘Star Wars’ Tops April Disc Sales; ‘Frozen II’ Remains Year’s Best

Disney-owned Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was No. 1 on the domestic top 10 list of combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales for April 2020 according to the NPD Group’s VideoScan tracking service.

The latest “Star Wars” installment was released on disc March 31, and had been the No. 3 seller in March based on its single day of sales alone. Its April tally, when it spent three weeks atop the weekly charts, helped pushed it up two spots on the year-to-date list to become 2020’s No. 2 top seller.

The No. 2 seller in April is Sony Pictures’ Bad Boys for Life, the action sequel that arrived on disc April 21 and spent two weeks as the top seller. That wasn’t enough to place it on the top 10 yearly list though.

Universal’s Dolittle, an April 7 release, landed at No. 3 on the monthly chart, while Sony Pictures’ Jumanji: The Next Level ended up at No. 4, down two spots from the previous month.

Another Sony Pictures’ release, Greta Gerwig’s lauded Little Women remake, debuted at No. 5 on the monthly chart.

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Universal’s 1917 slid two spots from the previous month to be April’s No. 6 seller.

Other April releases to crack the month’s top 10 include Warner’s Just Mercy at No. 8, Well Go USA’s Ip Man 4: The Finale at No. 9, and Universal’s The Gentlemen at No. 19.

The Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Frozen II dropped to No. 7 in April after being the top seller the previous two months, though it remains the year’s top seller overall.

The rise of Skywalker on the annual list pushed Warner’s Joker down a spot to No. 3 for the year, and Jumanji: The Next Level to No. 4.

Otherwise, the list of the year’s top sellers was relatively unchanged from the previous month, with the exception of 1917 taking over the No. 9 spot. That and good sales for Lionsgate’s Knives Out (which remained at No. 10) pushed Fox’s Ford v. Ferrari dropped off the yearly top 10 list.

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According to NPD, the April 2020 top 10 by units sold were:

  1. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (Disney/Lucasfilm)
  2. Bad Boys for Life (Sony Pictures)
  3. Dolittle (Universal)
  4. Jumanji: The Next Level (Sony Pictures)
  5. Little Women (2019) (Sony Pictures)
  6. 1917 (Universal)
  7. Frozen II (Disney)
  8. Just Mercy (Warner)
  9. Ip Man 4: The Finale (Well Go USA)
  10. The Gentlemen (Universal)


Year-to-date Top 10 (through April 2020):

  1. Frozen II (Disney)
  2. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (Disney/Lucasfilm)
  3. Joker (Warner)
  4. Jumanji: The Next Level (Sony Pictures)
  5. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (Disney)
  6. Midway (2019) (Lionsgate)
  7. Zombieland: Double Tap (Sony Pictures)
  8. Terminator: Dark Fate (Paramount)
  9. 1917 (Universal)
  10. Knives Out (Lionsgate)


‘Frozen II’ Tops Disc Sales in March

Disney’s ‘Zombies 2’ Arrives on DVD May 19

Disney Media Distribution on May 19 will release the musical Zombies 2 on DVD.

The sequel to the 2018 Disney Channel movie picks up as cheerleader Addison and zombie football player Zed are prepping for Seabrook High’s prom. But when a group of mysterious teenage werewolves unexpectedly arrive in search of an ancient life source buried somewhere in Seabrook, a fearful city council reenacts Seabrook’s anti-monster laws, making it impossible for Zed and Addison to attend prom together. The film follows their efforts to stick to their plan to be the first zombie/cheerleader couple to go to the prom.

The film’s cast includes Milo Manheim as Zed; Meg Donnelly as Addison; Trevor Tordjman as Bucky; Kylee Russell as Eliza; Carla Jeffery as Bree; Chandler Kinney as Willa; Pearce Joza as Wyatt; Ariel Martin as Wynter; Kingston Foster as Zoey; and James Godfrey as Bonzo.

Zombies 2 was directed by Paul Hoen and written by David Light and Joseph Raso.

Bonus material, exclusive to the DVD, includes bloopers and five deleted scenes. Also included are a music video of “The New Kid in Town” (performed by Baby Ariel), two dance tutorials and six sing-alongs.

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Disney Media Distribution is the new name for the business unit within Disney’s Direct-to-Consumer and International (DTCI) segment that manages content licensing and marketing for domestic multichannel subscription distribution; global direct-to-consumer platform content distribution; broadcast licensing for local ABC stations; global syndication of television and film studio content; and in-home content through digital platforms, multichannel distributors and physical retail sales.

Disney Updates Terms of Use, Including Digital Movie Codes

With more than 90 million over-the-top video subscribers across Disney+, Hulu+ and ESPN+, Disney has begun informing customers about updates to “Disney Terms of Use” in the United States and Canada.

The media giant said the updates, which include Disney, ESPN, ABC, Marvel, Pixar, Lucasfilm (Star Wars), ABC News, FX and other brands, are intended to make the “Terms of Use” easier to understand, including rephrasing and reorganizing some of the legalese and its applications to Disney products and services made available through third-parties.

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In particular Disney cited the use of digital codes included in branded DVD, Blu-ray Disc and Blu-ray 4K UHD releases as proprietary only to the customer of the original packaged media purchase.

Disney said the codes could not be sold separately and must be redeemed only by an individual who obtains the code in the original disc package that contains the code, or by a family member of that individual.

“Digital codes are not authorized for redemption if sold separately,” Disney said in the updated terms of use. “You may use digital movie codes to obtain licensed access to digital movies only as specifically authorized under this agreement and the terms and conditions of the participating provider of digital content through which you access or download the digital movie.”

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Disney said movie codes sold, distributed, purchased, or transferred inconsistent with this agreement would be invalidated.

In 2019, Disney and Redbox reached a settlement in a two-year-old lawsuit in which the kiosk vendor agreed not to separately sell digital download codes for movies included with combo disc packs.

Redbox, which doesn’t have a distribution deal with Disney, had been removing the codes from packaged-media purchases and selling them separately — claiming the move was protected under the “first sale doctrine” that allows legal consumers of a disc to sell or dispose of the intellectual property on their own.

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Disney in 2017 filed litigation for breach of contract and other charges. Redbox countersued, accusing Disney of anticompetitive conduct to protect its pending streaming service, Disney+.

In the updated terms, Disney said anyone not willing to agree to movie code conditions could return the disc/code package for a refund subject to conditions provided in this link.

Disney Streaming Services Top 90 Million Subs

Lost in The Walt Disney Company’s subdued financials was the fact its upstart branded subscription streaming services — Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ — are catching on with consumers.

The three services collectively exceeded 90 million subscribers in the second quarter (ended March 28), up from 63.5 million in Q1, putting them in the ballpark with Amazon Prime Video’s 100+ million Prime members — and about halfway up the ladder to industry pioneer Netflix.

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The surge in OTT video revenue — upwards of $4.1 billion — ballooned costs as well, surpassing $812 million in the quarter, from $385 million in the previous-year period. Disney’s direct-to-consumer and international segment topped studio operations in revenue, and finished the period within 25% of parks, experiences and products.

“Disney’s streaming empire is beginning to compete with the likes of Netflix,” Danyaal Rashid, thematic analyst at GlobalData, said in a statement.

But with ongoing uncertainty about when its studio business will re-start, London-based GlobalData re-positioned Disney’s place in its “Music, Film and TV Thematic Rankings” from seventh to 10th — below all of its major streaming competitors from both the West and Asia, including Netflix (1st), Amazon (2nd), iQiyi (3rd) and Tencent (4th).

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Rashid said Disney will weather the storm until a time comes when it can re-gain its physical assets — underscored by a SVOD empire.

“There is not a lot that Disney can do at the moment but keep up its strong presence in the streaming market and wait for the effects of COVID-19 to lessen so that it can re-open its parks,” Rashid said.

‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ Tops Disc Sales for Third Week

The top titles on the NPD VideoScan First Alert chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales, and the dedicated Blu-ray Disc chart were relatively unchanged the week ended April 18 compared with the previous week.

For the third week in a row, the top seller on both charts was Disney’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, though it sold about half as many copies as it did in its second week.

No. 2 on both charts for the second week in a row was Universal’s Dolittle, the latest adaptation of the stories of the Victorian doctor who can talk with animals, this time with Robert Downey Jr. in the title role.

Up a spot on both charts to No. 3 was Sony Pictures’ Jumanji: The Next Level.

The No. 4 overall seller and No. 5 Blu-ray was Sony Pictures’ latest Little Women remake. It had been No. 3 the previous week.

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The week’s top newcomer was Warner’s Just Mercy, which landed at No. 5 overall and No. 7 on the Blu-ray chart. The legal drama earned $36 million at the domestic box office.

Universal’s 1917 slipped to No. 6 on the overall sales chart but moved up to No. 4 on the Blu-ray chart.

The only other new release in the top 20 was the thriller Underwater, from 20th Century Fox. It debuted at No. 7 overall and No. 6 on the Blu-ray chart after a $17 million haul at the domestic box office.

Blu-ray Disc accounted for 43% of first-week Just Mercy sales, and 55% of Underwater‘s tally.

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On the Media Play News rental chart for the week ended April 19, Dolittle repeated at No. 1, while Underwater debuted at No. 2 and Just Mercy came in at No. 3. Jumanji: The Next Level slipped a spot to No. 5, and 1917 came in at No. 5.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 4-18-20
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 4-19-20
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 4-18-20
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 4-18-20
Sales Report for Week Ended 4-18-20
Digital Sales Snapshot for Week Ended 4-20-20

Disney Stock Down After Furloughs, Analysts Downgrade

After news Disney is furloughing 100,000 employees — half its workforce — because of business shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic, Wall Street April 20 at the opening dropped the media giant’s stock more than 3%.

Disney, which is telling affected staff to seek state and federal financial assistance, said the furloughs would save the company $500 million monthly while it continues to pay employee healthcare and related benefits.

Wall Street analysts responded in force.

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John Hodulik with UBS downgraded the stock to “neutral” from “buy,” cutting his price target to $114 from $162. The analyst contends Disney is facing a long road to recovery, especially in its theme park and cruise businesses — both, he believes, will not be fully operational until Jan. 1, 2021.

“[They] will be impaired for a longer period of time,” Hodulik wrote in a note.

Meanwhile, Credit Suisse dropped its rating to “neutral” from “outperform” due to similar concerns about Disney’s amusement parks business.

Analyst Doug Mitchelson remains positive on Disney long-term, saying liquidity issues appear overblown and eyeing a return to $160 per share from its current $102 price.

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“We expect a full rebound in theme park and Hollywood operations over time,” he wrote with the caveat that the mid-term outlook remains challenged. “We expect Disney will remain in a more narrow trading range given a remarkable lack of operational visibility, expected severe cuts coming to street estimates, and a now more equally balanced mix of positive and negative catalysts.”