MovieSpree, Mill Creek Entertainment’s transactional VOD service, is offering sales on several animated kids’ series to keep the little ones occupied while they stay at home.
On March 25, MovieSpree launched the complete first season of the animated kids’ series “Gigantosaurus,” on sale for $22.49 — 25% off of the regular price. In the series, young dinosaurs Rocky, Bill, Tiny and Mazu are growing up in the Cretaceous period where life is always an adventure — new volcanoes are popping up all the time, the long-necked brachiosauruses and enormous triceratops roam free, meteor showers light up the night sky, and the big, fierce Gigantosaurus reigns over it all.
Also on sale are several complete animated series at $2.99, including “Liberty’s Kids” (including all 40 episodes of the edutainment series), “Street Sharks,” “C.O.P.S.,” “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century,” “Archie’s Weird Mysteries” and “Horseland.”
Sonic the Hedgehog will debut early for digital purchase March 31 from Paramount Home Entertainment.
The film, which made $306.8 million at the global box office, will be available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and for rental on demand May 19.
The family film based on the video game character follows the incredibly speedy Sonic the Hedgehog (voiced by Ben Schwartz), aka The Blue Blur, who embraces his new home on Earth. That is, until he accidentally knocks out the power grid and sparks the attention of evil genius Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey). It’s super-villain vs. super-sonic in an all-out race across the globe to stop Robotnik from using his unique power for world domination. Sonic teams up with The Donut Lord, aka Sheriff Tom Wachowski (James Marsden), to save the plane.
Bonus features on digital, 4K Ultra HD combo pack and Blu-ray combo pack include commentary by director Jeff Fowler and Schwartz; “Around the World in 80 Seconds,” Sonic’s next adventure; deleted scenes; bloopers; the “Speed Me Up” music video; “For the Love of Sonic,” in which Carrey and the cast discuss what Sonic the Hedgehog means to them; “Building Robotnik with Jim Carrey”; “The Blue Blur: Origins of Sonic”; and “Sonic On Set,” a set visit with Schwartz.
The 4K Ultra HD Digital and 4K Ultra HD disc releases present the film in Dolby Vision with a Dolby Atmos sound.
As consumers around the world stay home during the coronavirus crisis, The Digital Entertainment Group: Nordic Committee (DEGN) March 23 is launching “Mega Movie Week,” a cross-category campaign to drive consumer engagement with the digital transactional market.
During “Mega Movie Week” DEGN members, including NBCUniversal, Nordisk Film, SF Studios, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and Warner Bros. Entertainment, will offer consumers a range of the latest digital movies at special prices for one week only with retailers including the Apple TV app, Google Play Store, Viaplay, SF Anytime, Blockbuster, PlayStation Store, Rakuten TV, Canal Digital, Altibox and Elisa.
“Inspired in part by shared learnings from two successful iterations of ‘Mega Movie Week’ managed in the U.K. by DEGN’s sister association, Digital Entertainment Group International, and by the evolution of previous Scandinavian consumer education campaigns, the DEGN’s ‘Mega Movie Week’ campaign drives awareness for a range of compelling consumer offers aimed at encouraging consumer trial of digital transactional services,” according to DEGN.
The campaign will be supported by a targeted, multi-territory online media campaign, with digital platforms driving further engagement through a range of on- and off-platform activity and a suite of CRM plans to keep new audiences engaged beyond the week-long campaign, according to DEGN.
“’Mega Movie Week’ represents an unprecedented collective vision from Nordic territories to embrace an opportunity to capitalize on the growth of digital transaction by encouraging engagement through a compelling, limited time offer,” said Johan Mannerhill, DEGN chair and managing director, Nordic, at Warner Bros. Entertainment, in a statement. “The campaign is the perfect way to drive engagement with the ease of digital purchase and to increase awareness of the benefits it offers. We hope to build upon the learnings from previous ‘Mega Movie Week’ activations spearheaded by the DEGI, at the same time developing a powerful activation wholly relevant to local markets.”
The LGBTQ coming-of-age drama The Experience will arrive on VOD, EST and DVD Nov. 5 from Random Media.
The film stars Allison Kove (Rotten), Ava Capri (Little Rituals) Shawn Christian (“Days of Our Lives”), Lou Ferrigno Jr. (“S.W.A.T”), Sabina Gadecki (“Entourage”), Brigitte Nielsen (Beverly Hills Cop II) and Gordon Thomson (“Dynasty”).
Set against the unique backdrop of a tough love wilderness program for the wayward children of the elite upper class, The Experience examines the life of Scarlet (Kove), a teenage girl whose ongoing behavior — partying, piercings and suicide attempts — has landed her at the Hills of Heaven wilderness camp, where she begrudgingly hauls a 40-pound backpack in the sweltering heat of an arid, hilly back country. When a mysterious girl named Dillion (Capri) arrives at camp, Scarlet begins to open up and maybe even fall in love. However, just when the girls are making a meaningful connection, they are forced to reconcile their reality in ways they cannot begin to fathom and question the very fabric of their own existence.
“The Experience is a powerful and offbeat coming-of-age story that has every emotion conjured for our teenage lead characters,” said writer-director Katerina Gorshkov in a statement. “We are particularly excited to have powerhouse Brigitte Nielson cast in the film, as her role is not her usual action-thriller villain.”
As the industry prepares for the impending launch of SVOD services Disney+ and Apple TV+ next month, Walmart is looking into selling its 15-year old Vudu on-demand video service, according to sources.
According to a report from The Information, citing people familiar with the situation, the retailer has concluded that it would have to make a substantial investment in Vudu to compete. It might make more sense to partner with media companies to offer content to customers, and the retailer has decided the on-demand service isn’t part of its core business, according to the anonymous sources in the report.
Vudu, which began as a company making set-top boxes in 2004, evolved into a video delivery service and was sold to Walmart in 2010. It rents and sells digital movies and TV shows (EST).
“Over the last nine years, we’ve built Vudu into an incredibly strong and growing business with an installed base of more than 100 million devices across America,” a Walmart spokesman wrote The Information. “We’re constantly having and [are] open to conversations with new and existing partners to explore opportunities for continued growth; however, we never share details of those discussions.”
Vudu is one of eight retail partners in the Movies Anywhere library collection service. The others are iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, Microsoft Movies & TV, FandangoNow, Xfinity and Verizon, which just joined the service about a month ago.
The documentary Dear Walmart will come out on DVD, VOD and EST Nov. 19 from Virgil Films.
Via in-store organizing and actions, Black Friday strikes, small group meetings, community outreach, national gatherings of workers, and online conversations with thousands of employees, Walmart workers have built a new labor movement that has compelled the retail giant to make changes, but not without setbacks.
Dear Walmart follows four characters in the OUR Walmart movement as it grows worker-by-worker, store-by-store and state-by-state, pushing for an historic win in 2015. While the film charts the national movement, it also reveals the personal side of standing up, as the characters transform not only Walmart, but themselves.
Packaged media is not dead down under. Consumer spending on TV and video in the home in Australia is projected to increase 4% in 2019, according to new data from Futuresource Consulting.
The London-based research firm said Australian consumers continue to show a preference for entertainment ownership, with electronic sell-through of movies to own (EST) continuing to outperform transactional VOD movies.
Notably, physical media (DVD, Blu-ray Disc) continues to play a role, generating nearly two-thirds of transactional home video spend in 2019. However, following global trends, the Australian market is moving towards digital with transactional digital spend exceeding physical by 2021.
“The Australian market is delivering a solid overall performance, but despite the continuing upsurge, its key components are experiencing wildly varying fortunes,” physical analyst David Sidebottom said in a statement. “SVOD is the country’s shining star, with our forecasts indicating a net subscriber increase of over 2 million expected in 2019 and consumer spend poised to break the AU$1 billion barrier for the first time.”
Sidebottom said Netflix is expected to increase its investments in Australia, as it seeks to maintain growth and increase ARPU. By 2023, the number of Australia households with at least one SVOD service is set to reach 80%.
“That’s one of the highest levels on the planet,” he said.
Futuresource found that Google Play and improved set-top box functionality for pay-TV operators have combined as key drivers in the digital transactional home video market.
“The increased visibility of movie purchasing on YouTube has also helped maintain healthy levels of EST movie growth, capitalizing on the significant YouTube audience,” Sidebottom said. “Our forecasts indicate consumer spend on transactional digital video will grow by 12% this year, the strongest year of growth since 2015, when the market was considerably more embryonic.”
Total video entertainment spend is projected to climb from AU$5.2 billion in 2018 to AU$6.1 billion by 2023, driven primarily by the rise of SVOD.
As Movies Anywhere approaches its second anniversary in October, the movie library collection service boasts 8 million registered users; 7,800 titles; and 200 million movies stored — and it is poised to add an eighth retail partner, Verizon.
Movies Anywhere GM Karin Gilford noted these milestones during a presentation at the Entertainment Merchants Association’s OTT_X@Pipeline 2019 conference in Los Angeles Sept. 25.
Retail partnerships, such as the new deal with Verizon, are important to improving the overall experience, she said.
“On a day to day basis, we are working with them so that how we connect to the overall ecosystem is smooth,” she said.
Details on the Verizon pact are to come.
A key mission of the Movies Anywhere is to “drive purchasing habits,” she said.
“We want to drive transactions, obviously, but we want to make it a habit,” Gilford said. “We want to make it fun to build a collection. We want to have a great place to house that collection. We want make it really accessible everywhere you are.”
Service research shows that “once people use Movies Anywhere … they buy more movies,” she said.
The service has recently stepped up marketing.
“We launched a new advertising campaign that just kicked off a couple of weeks ago,” she said.
The campaign has rolled out on TV/OTT (cable channels via Simulmedia, Roku, FireTV); in theaters (via National CineMedia); in airports (LAX, JFK digital signage plus the Boingo wifi service); and online channels including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. An advertorial campaign is rolling out through October on channels such as Vox, Fandom and Twitch.
The blitz is designed to plant a flag in an increasingly crowded digital entertainment universe.
“We want to establish [Movies Anywhere] as differentiated from the SVOD services that are coming,” Gilford said, alluding to the impending launches of Disney+ and Apple TV+, among others.
Gilford showed the new 30-second spot for the service, as well as aspects of the welcome page.
The service designed the welcome page to greet consumers with “a really conversational approach,” she said and to make clear what Movies Anywhere provides.
“A lot of consumers don’t understand the economics and the business models that power the entertainment industry,” she said. “Why do you have to have ads in these episodes? Wait, all of these movies aren’t free? Those things do still come up even in 2019, and so it is really important, especially for something like Movies Anywhere, to be very clear about what we’re doing, what type of content is in here and what the mission is.”
The service has added new features, including 4K with Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, and a “Deals” section that calls out special offers from partner studios and retailers. The “Deals” feature came out of an analysis of data from the service showing a usage spike when there were special offers in the marketplace.
Movies Anywhere is also using data to inform studios about usage patterns in a way previously unavailable and is beginning to use data to customize the user experience.
“Studios having visibility into that data is going to make for a more powerful home entertainment business and a more powerful EST business,” she said.
While Movies Anywhere is backed by several major studios (Disney, Fox, Sony, Universal and Warner) prominently featured on the welcome page, Paramount Pictures and Lionsgate are not part of the service, which also does not feature television programming.
Retail partners include iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, Walmart’s Vudu, Xfinity, Google Play, Microsoft Movies & TV and FandangoNow.
Walden: Life in the Woods, a re-imagining of Henry David Thoreau’s classic Walden, will travel to DVD, VOD and EST Oct. 1 from Virgil Films.
Taking place over 24 hours, the film interlaces Thoreau’s themes of solitude, friendship and society via three contemporary narratives about the trappings of modern life and the unlikely transcendentalists who dream dangerously of escape.
In “Solitude,” 80-year old Alice plays detective of the soul, wading through her murky past, trying to uncover a core memory, which leads her to attempt to break free from the walls of her dementia — and her nursing home. In “Friendship,” Luke leads his partner Guy on a surreal journey into the Rocky Mountains as well as into parts of himself he dares not confront. In “Society,” family man Ramirez moves through the morass of a middle-class existence —mortgage, health insurance, failing home appliances — and spends a biblically hilarious day navigating the bureaucratic inferno of civilized society.
Throughout the day, the ordinariness of the characters’ minutes ticking by collides with sudden sublime and surreal interruptions. As Thoreau knew, intuition comes in glimpses and flashes, fits and starts. The three narratives have literal intersection, yet they merge most pointedly in the climax of the film in a moment of spiritual epiphany at three different “ponds.” In moments of crisis, the characters confront what Thoreau thought was ultimately more profound than the wilderness: our inner wild.
The film stars Demian Bichir, Lynn Cohen, Erik Hellman, Tony Loverde, Chris Sullivan and T.J. Miller.
Lionsgate’s John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum, which debuted on digital Aug. 23 and on disc Sept. 10, has sold more than 3 million units on disc, EST and VOD, according to the studio.
The title is positioned to become Lionsgate’s highest-grossing home entertainment title in five years, since the release of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 in 2014, according to the studio.
The title is the studio’s biggest-selling EST title ever, passing John Wick: Chapter 2 in its first three days of EST release.
The release overindexed in the home entertainment market with sales comparable to a $250 million-plus domestic box office film, according to the studio. The film made $171 million in U.S. theaters.
“The popularity of the John Wick franchise continues to surge with strong growth across packaged media, electronic sellthrough and video-on-demand platforms,” said Lionsgate president of worldwide home entertainment Ron Schwartz in a statement. “The success of John Wick: Chapter 3 is a testament to the film’s incredible cast, led by Keanu Reeves, and amazing creative team, the efforts of our sales and marketing executives, and the vibrancy of the home entertainment business across all of its platforms.”