Disney Hires Away Netflix Film Executive for Pending Streaming Service

It’s been a tough day for Netflix.

On the same day NBC Universal announced it would re-acquire the streaming rights to “The Office” from Netflix in 2021, media reports say Disney has hired away Matt Brodie, director of original film at Netflix.

Brodie becomes SVP of international content development for Disney+, the SVOD service launching Nov. 12.

Matt Brodie

Brodie will be responsible for movie and TV show productions outside the U.S. market — reporting to Ricky Strauss, president, content & marketing, Disney+, according to Deadline.com, which first reported the move.

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At Netflix, Brodie spearheaded movie acquisitions Set It UpTo All the Boys I’ve Loved BeforeIbiza and Sierra Burgess is a Loser, among others. He was also involved in the acquisitions of Oscar-winner Roma and Mudbound.

“As we look to rollout Disney+ beyond the U.S. over the next several years, Matt will play a critical role in the execution of our content strategy,” Strauss told the website. “He is a proven executive with the right creative instincts and experience to help make Disney+ a place where talent can create original, high-quality content for audiences worldwide.”

‘Cinderella’ Waltzes Into National Film Registry

In support of the upcoming 70th anniversary of Cinderella and the film’s induction into the National Film Registry, The Walt Disney Studios and the Library of Congress held a screening of the film along with a Cinderella Ball June 20 in Washington, D.C. The film is currently available on digital and Movies Anywhere and will be available on Blu-ray and DVD June 25.

‘Captain Marvel’ Powers Up On Disc Sales Charts

Marvel Studios’ Captain Marvel, distributed by Disney, dominated the home video charts the week ended June 15.

The 21st film in the blockbuster Marvel Cinematic Universe debuted at No. 1 on the NPD VideoScan First Alert chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales, and the dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart by a wide margin, outselling the next 44 titles combined.

Captain Marvel, which is set in 1995 and serves as a prequel to the “Avengers” movies, earned $426.7 million at the domestic box office.

Lionsgate’s A Madea Family Funeral slid to No. 2 on the overall sales chart, selling 8% as many copies as Captain Marvel during the week. The latest Tyler Perry-directed comedy was No. 10 on the Blu-ray chart.

No. 3 on the overall sales chart and No. 2 on the Blu-ray chart was Warner’s Aquaman in its 12th week on shelves.

DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, distributed by Universal Pictures, dropped to No. 4 on the overall chart and No. 5 on the Blu-ray chart.

The new release Five Feet Apart, a romantic drama distributed by Lionsgate, debuted at No. 5 overall and No. 9 overall.

Blu-ray Disc formats accounted for 73% of first-week Captain Marvel sales, compared with 40% for Five Feet Apart. The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format comprised 17% of total Captain Marvel unit sales.

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On the Media Play News rental chart for the week ended June 16, Captain Marvel also debuted at No. 1.

The previous week’s top rental, A Madea Family Funeral, slipped to No. 2.

Five Feet Apart debuted at No. 3, followed by Universal’s The Upside at No. 4 and Dragon at No. 5.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 6-15-19
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 6-16-19
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 6-15-19
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 6-15-19
Sales Report for Week Ended 6-15-19
Digital Sales Snapshot for Week Ended 6-17-19

 

‘Captain Marvel’ Awes Redbox Charts

The week ended June 16, Disney’s Captain Marvel debuted in the No. 1 spot on the Redbox disc rental chart, which tracks DVD and Blu-ray Disc rentals at the company’s more than 40,000 red kiosks.

The superhero film stars Brie Larson as the Marvel Comics character Carol Danvers, alongside Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Annette Bening and Jude Law. Captain Marvel has grossed more than $1.1 billion worldwide, making it the first female-led superhero film to pass the billion-dollar mark.

The previous week’s top rental, Lionsgate’s A Madea Family Funeral, slipped to No. 2.

Lionsgate’s Five Feet Apart, a romantic drama about two young cystic fibrosis patients who fall for each other despite having to keep a distance between them, debuted at No. 3.

Rounding out the disc chart were two Universal Pictures releases: The Upside at No. 4 and How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World at No. 5.

Other newcomers to the top 10 included Vertical’s The Professor and the Madman at No. 6 and Universal’s Captive State at No. 9.

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The Redbox On Demand chart, which tracks digital transactions, including both electronic sellthrough and streaming rentals, saw Paramount’s What Men Want take the top spot. The comedy has been available digitally since April.

Five Feet Apart landed at No. 2 on Redbox’s digital chart, followed at No. 3 by The Upside, No. 4 by A Madea Family Funeral, and No. 5 by Warner’s Isn’t It Romantic.

 

Top DVD and Blu-ray Disc Rentals, Redbox Kiosks, Week Ended June 16:

  1. Captain Marvel — Disney
  2. A Madea Family Funeral — Lionsgate
  3. Five Feet Apart — Lionsgate
  4. The Upside — Universal
  5. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World — Universal
  6. The Professor and the Madman — Vertical
  7. Isn’t It Romantic — Warner
  8. Cold Pursuit — Lionsgate
  9. Captive State — Universal
  10. Drunk Parents — Lionsgate/Quiver

 

Top Digital, Redbox On Demand, Week Ended June 16:

  1. What Men Want — Paramount
  2. Five Feet Apart — Lionsgate
  3. The Upside — STX
  4. A Madea Family Funeral — Lionsgate
  5. Isn’t It Romantic — Warner
  6. The Mustang — Universal
  7. Captive State — Universal
  8. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World — Universal
  9. Cold Pursuit — Lionsgate
  10. Fighting With My Family — MGM

Hulu CEO Eyes Ad Growth, Clarity Under Disney Ownership

With Disney agreeing to acquire Comcast’s 33% stake in Hulu, the subscription streaming video service with 28 million subscribers is now under the direction of one company instead of four (Disney, Fox, Comcast, WarnerMedia).

In an interview with CNBC, Hulu CEO Randy Freer said consolidation among the platform’s corporate owners offers increased clarity on the service’s objectives, strategic planning and voice going forward.

Randy Freer

“We’re super excited about the opportunity,” Freer said.

The executive added that Disney’s plan to incorporate Hulu, ESPN+ and Disney+ into a possible SVOD bundle sold to consumers and distributors offers additional opportunities.

“I think it’s another way for Hulu to extend and grow its already fast-growing subscriber base,” Freer said.

With Hulu the only major SVOD service streaming advertising on its basic subscription plan, Freer said marketers are looking for consumer access in over-the-top video ecosystem dominated by ad-free players Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

“I think the opportunity at Hulu … with huge audiences … long engagement times, a young audience, 20-to- 25 years younger than network television … is a huge for brands to come in and talk to the consumers that they’re looking to reach the most,” he said.

At the same time, Freer cautioned that marketing Hulu as a service with half the ads of broadcast TV is not “okay anymore.”

“We have to find new ways to integrate brands into the ad,” he said.

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Indeed, Hulu has launched a number of new ad formats, including “pause ads,” which displays a static ad when a viewer pauses programming; and “Friends with Benefits” featuring “Easter eggs” hidden on the site that offer special deals from brand partners when clicked.

“There [are] all kinds of ways to make the customer experience on Hulu better than any of our competitors,” Freer said. “And we can’t forget that the most important thing to consumers is choice. What’s more important is giving them the option of an ad service and the option of an ad-free service so they can determine what’s the best experience to view things.”

Dumbo (2019)

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street Date 6/25/19;
Disney;
Family;
Box Office $114.03 million
$29.99 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray, $39.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG’ for peril/action, some thematic elements, and brief mild language.
Stars Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Eva Green, Alan Arkin, Nico Parker, Finley Hobbins.

With a running time of just 64 minutes, Disney’s original 1941 animated classic Dumbo is a bit thin on the source material required for a full-bore live-action remake.

To pad out the details, Disney turned to screenwriter Ehren Kruger, veteran of several “Transformers” movies, and director Tim Burton, who previously directed 2010’s Alice in Wonderland for the studio.

The end result is a remake that is equal parts reimagining of and sequel to the original classic.

The core of the story still focuses on the baby circus elephant named Dumbo who learns to use his oversized ears to fly. After his mother is locked up for aggressively defending him from the crowds picking on him for his large ears, he yearns to reunite with her.

However, whereas the bulk of the original film dealt with Dumbo learning how to fly and building his confidence, in the new version he figures out how to fly relatively quickly. Instead of a mouse to handle him, he is looked after by returning World War I veteran Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) and his two young children, and soon becomes a star for the small traveling circus run by Max Medici (Danny DeVito).

Dumbo’s exploits gain the attention of entrepreneur V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton), who offers to buy out Medici in order to make Dumbo the headliner of his circus-themed amusement park, Dreamland. Meanwhile, the children hope to use Dumbo’s earnings to find his mother and bring her back to him.

The Vandevere storyline gives the film the air of self-parody, as his theme park is clearly an analog for Disneyland. What’s more, the plot turns on a corporate merger in which the smaller company is to be swallowed up and the bulk of its staffers laid off — a detail rife with parallels to the Disney-Fox merger that was completed shortly before this film hit theaters.

Keaton playing the slimy businessman is also a bit of a switch from his pairing with DeVito in another Burton film, 1992’s Batman Returns, in which DeVito was the one playing the bad guy.

These are clever details for what is ultimately a kids movie, and while Burton’s visual flair and penchant for oddity may amuse adults in the audience for a time, the film mostly settles in as a piece of inconsequential family fare that should keep younger viewers entertained.

Hardcore Disney fans can also take it to the next level in searching for the many subtle references to Disney history, particularly the 1941 film, layered throughout. To this end, the Blu-ray includes a four-minute “Easter Eggs on Parade” featurette.

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Other featurettes include the eight-minute “Circus Spectaculars,” featuring interviews with the cast and filmmakers; “The Elephant in the Room,” a six-minute recount of the process of updating the story of the animated film; and “Built to Amaze,” an eight-minute look at the film’s production and costume design.

The Blu-ray also includes nine deleted scenes running eight minutes in total; a two-minute “Clowning Around” gag reel; and a “Baby Mine” music video featuring Arcade Fire’s update of the Oscar-nominated song from the original film.

The digital copy of the film available through Movies Anywhere and select digital retailers also includes a breakdown of the creation of the Dreamland parade sequence.

VidAngel Hit With $62.4 Million Damages Ruling for Copyright Infringement

A California District Court jury June 17 ruled bankrupt VidAngel must pay Disney, Warner Bros., Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox, among others, $62.4 million in damages for illegally altering/filtering plaintiff’s DVD/Blu-ray Disc movies for its proprietary streaming video service.

VidAngel, based in Provo, Utah, had taken the discs and filtered out content it deemed objectionable, including nudity, profanity and violence, and then made the content available for streaming to subscribers.

“We disagree with today’s ruling and have not lessened our resolve to save filtering for families one iota,” Neal Harmon, CEO of VidAngel, said in a statement. “VidAngel plans to appeal the District Court ruling and explore options in the bankruptcy court. Our court system has checks and balances, and we are pursuing options on that front as well.”

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Studios in 2016 filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Vid Angel, alleging the service circumvented anti-pirating safeguards embedded on DVD and Blu-ray Disc movies.

VidAngel responded with an antitrust counter-suit, which was denied. A federal judge ordered a preliminary injunction against the service, ordering it to remove the studio movies. An appeal by VidAngel to the Ninth Circuit of Appeals failed as well.

To the studios, the issue wasn’t censorship as much as it was infringement.

“The jury today found that VidAngel acted willfully and imposed a damages award that sends a clear message to others who would attempt to profit from unlawful infringing conduct at the expense of the creative community,” studios said in a statement.

Merchandising: Marvelous Merch for ‘Captain Marvel’

Best Buy and Target stores offered exclusive editions of Disney’s Captain Marvel 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc combo pack upon its release June 11.

Best Buy sold the set with Steelbook packaging for $34.99.

Best Buy’s ‘Captain Marvel’ 4K Blu-ray Steelbook

Target offered the combo pack with a limited-edition 40-page filmmaker book, also for $34.99.

Target’s ‘Captain Marvel’ 4K Blu-ray combo pack
Target’s ‘Captain Marvel’ Blu-ray with booklet

Among other titles, Walmart offered a Blu-ray of Universal’s Get Out paired with a digital copy of Us. The Blu-ray of Us arrives June 18.

Best Buy’s weekly promotions included a Father’s Day sale under the banner “Dad’s Kind of Movies,” with Blu-rays for $6.99 and $9.99 each, and 4K UHD Blu-rays for $14.99 each.

Best Buy is also taking $34.99 preorders for a Steelbook 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray of Warner’s Shazam!, due July 16 on disc.

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Hulu, FX Getting Lionsgate Movies

Disney-owned Hulu and FX reportedly are getting pay-TV access to select Lionsgate movies beginning in 2020.

Epix, the pay-TV channel owned by MGM Studios, currently has the rights to Lionsgate movies, which include Oscar winner La La LandThe Hunger Games and Saw franchises, among others.

The John Wicks franchise starring Keanu Reeves is licensed separately to HBO through 2021. Twentieth Century Fox, which Disney recently acquired, also has a deal with HBO through 2022.

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Lionsgate co-owned Epix with Viacom and MGM, until selling its stake to the venerable studio in 2017.

The two-year deal, first reported by The Information, enables Santa Monica-based Lionsgate to migrate its movies to Starz Play, the subscription streaming service launched in 2016.

Lionsgate acquired Starz in 2016 for $4.4 billion.

Notably, it was Starz that started licensing studio movies to OTT services through an exclusive deal with Netflix in 2008 that gave the SVOD pioneer access to 2,500 movies for pennies on the dollar from Disney, Sony Pictures and others.

Six years later, then-CEO Chris Albrecht would call the Netflix agreement “terrible,” as it helped the streaming service generate subscribers looking for cheaper access to Hollywood movies.

“For a very low price [Netflix] got access to all our stuff and it devalued our wholesale and resale prices,” Albrecht told an investor group. He left Starz earlier this year.

Report: 22% of U.S. Households Likely to Subscribe to Disney+ Streaming Service

The Walt Disney Co.’s upcoming subscription streaming service Disney+ will reportedly attract 22% of U.S. households when it launches in November, according to new data from Ampere Analysis.

The London research firm, which cited data based on a survey of 1,003 Internet users in the U.S., said 27% of respondents are familiar with Disney+ streaming service, despite minimal promotional activity to date. 

There is greater awareness among the two audiences Ampere has identified as key for the Disney SVOD: 45% of 18 to 24-year olds and 36% of households with children were aware of Disney’s plan to launch a new streaming service.

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The report found that nearly two thirds of these people fall into two distinct audiences – those in the 18 to 24-year old bracket, and households with children – with minimal crossover between them.

“There’s no question of a strong appetite for the Disney+ service – particularly amongst two distinct target audiences: households with children and 18 to 24-year olds,” Minal Mocha, consumer research lead at Ampere, said in a statement. “Away from this core group, there’s also a clear opportunity to broaden the content offering and attract a new audience by leveraging the Fox movie catalogue with titles such as Bohemian Rhapsody and The Post to reach an older audience.”

Ampere found that Marvel, Disney’s catalog of animated films, and Pixar titles were perceived as the most valuable content to gain access to via Disney+. Programmes available via broadcast or basic cable channels, such as the Simpsons and National Geographic were considered less crucial.

Marvel was ranked as the most important content to have as part of Disney+ for those 18 to 24.

The 25 to 34-year age group have the most affinity with Disney’s animated films. This age group not only is significantly more likely to have children in their household, but also to have built an emotional connection with these films in childhood.

Those aged 35+ are more likely to value Star Wars compared to younger audiences where it underperforms. The franchise will be key to attracting older audiences to the service – these groups of consumers may be less influenced by Disney’s animated titles, and by the Marvel franchise.