Craig and the Camel May Be Gone, But Transactional Marketing Still Going Strong

For me, the pinnacle of marketing at the height of the DVD era was Craig Kornblau on a camel.

It was the heyday of event marketing. DVD had become such a monstrous success that disc revenues were outpacing theatrical. DVD potential was even a factor in deciding whether to greenlight movies.

No wonder, then, that at a time when a hot new DVD release could sell 20 million copies or more, just in the first week, the release of a big theatrical film on disc was hailed as a big event — and marketed accordingly.

I remember Disney’s gala launch party for the Ratatouille DVD, with more than a thousand guests crowding a ballroom at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel for a gastronomical feast.

I remember flying to London for a party to celebrate New Line Home Video’s release of the Lost in Space movie.

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I remember Warner Home Video’s Superman party, where I joked to then-president Ron Sanders that the shindig probably cost the studio more than they were spending on advertising with Home Media Magazine all year.

I remember being flown to London by PolyGram to celebrate the DVD release of Phantom of the Opera, as well as three Super Bowls (thanks, Bill Sondheim!) to drum up excitement for the subsequent NFL Super Bowl DVD.

And then there was Craig Kornblau and the camel. The “event” was the 2002 DVD release of The Scorpion King, and amid a throng of beefy warriors, belly dancers and flame explosions I remember looking up and seeing Kornblau, at the time president of Universal Studios Home Video, and his top marketing executive, Ken Graffeo, riding down Sunset Boulevard on a pair of massive dromedaries. A Los Angeles Times article from October 2002 picks up the story from there: “Moments later, the entire caravan, writhing women, camels and all, crossed Sunset Boulevard to the Virgin Megastore across the street, where confused shoppers were rapidly overrun by belly dancers, snake handlers and jugglers.”

The reporter quoted Kornblau as saying the studio hoped to generate earn more than $36 million in the first week of sales, more than the first week of box office for the film’s theatrical release.

These days, physical and digital sales of movies, even combined, area fraction of DVD sales 20 years ago, due to the rise and domination of subscription streaming.

And yet studio marketers continue to “eventize” new transactional releases, although invariably some, if not most, of a campaign’s components take place virtually, often through tie-ins with social media influencers.

In this year’s Power Marketing report, our fourth annual look at the top marketing campaigns of the past year, we profile nearly a dozen standouts from the major studios — and as you’ll see, creativity and ingenuity are certainly not in short supply. Universal Studios Home Entertainment, for example, launched F9 into the home market by getting stars Vin Diesel and Ludacris to share custom content on their Instagram accounts, followed by F9 Fest, a huge press and social media influencer event with interviews, a rooftop zipline stunt experience and even an F9 museum, featuring vehicles from the film.

And Paramount celebrated the 50thanniversary of The Godfather, and the landmark film’s 4K Ultra HD debut, with all sorts of creative executions, strategic partnerships and publicity events. A press screening on the studio lot was preceded by a panel discussion with director Francis Ford Coppola and stars James Caan and Talia Shire — along with a street-naming celebration and the presentation of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame to Coppola.

Craig and his camel may be long gone, but “eventizing” home releases is certainly still a “thing.

‘F9’ Tops Redbox Charts for Third Week

Universal Pictures’ F9: The Fast Saga remained in the top spots on Redbox’s disc rental and digital charts the week ended Oct. 10.

It’s the third consecutive week at No. 1 for the latest entry in the “Fast & Furious” franchise on both the Redbox On Demand chart, which tracks digital VOD and sellthrough transactions, and the disc rental chart, which tracks DVD and Blu-ray Disc rentals at Redbox’s more than 40,000 red kiosks.

The No. 2 title on the disc rental chart was the newly released Space Jam: A New Legacy, from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. A reboot of 1996’s Space Jam, the new version casts LeBron James as the basketball superstar paired with Bugs Bunny in a world-altering basketball game. It earned $70.5 million at the domestic box office.

The No. 2 digital title, and No. 3 on the disc chart, was another newcomer, Sony Picture’s Escape Room: Tournament of Champions. The sequel to 2019’s Escape Room earned $25.2 million at the domestic box office.

The newcomers pushed Universal’s The Forever Purge to No. 4 on the disc chart and No. 3 on the digital chart.

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Marvel Studios’ Black Widow, from Disney, fell to No. 5 on the disc rental chart.

The No. 4 digital title was Paramount’s Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins. The No. 5 digital title remained MGM’s animated The Addams Family 2.

Top DVD and Blu-ray Disc Rentals, Redbox Kiosks, Week Ended Oct. 10:

  1. F9: The Fast Saga — Universal
  2. Space Jam: A New Legacy — Warner
  3. Escape Room: Tournament of Champions — Sony Pictures
  4. The Forever Purge — Universal
  5. Black Widow — Disney/Marvel
  6. Cruella — Disney
  7. The Boss Baby: Family Business — Universal/DreamWorks
  8. The Survivalist — Quiver
  9. Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard — Lionsgate
  10. Aileen Wuornos: American Boogeywoman — Redbox


Top Digital (VOD + Sellthrough), Redbox On Demand, Week Ended Oct. 10:

  1. F9: The Fast Saga — Universal
  2. Escape Room: Tournament of Champions — Sony Pictures
  3. The Forever Purge — Universal
  4. Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins — Paramount
  5. The Addams Family 2 — MGM
  6. The Boss Baby: Family Business — Universal/DreamWorks
  7. Free Guy — Disney/20th Century
  8. Venom — Sony Pictures
  9. The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It — Warner
  10. Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard — Lionsgate


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‘F9,’ Snyder Cut of ‘Justice League’ Lead New Digital and Disc Releases Sept. 7

Sept. 7 sees Universal Pictures’ F9: The Fast Saga become available for digital purchase, while Warner Bros. puts Zack Snyder’s Justice League on disc.

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment makes F9: The Fast Saga available for early digital ownership Sept. 7. It’s the 10th film in the “Fast & Furious” franchise and the ninth entry in the main series of films. In it, Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) leads his crew against his long-lost brother (John Cena) to stop a world-shattering plot. The film, which has generated more than $710 million worldwide, arrives on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Sept. 21.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment releases Zack Snyder’s Justice League on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Sept. 7. The film represents director Zack Snyder’s original vision for 2017’s Justice League. He famously left the production due to a family tragedy, and the studio brought in Joss Whedon to finish the film with reshoots and a theater-friendly two-hour cut. It ended up making $657.9 million, falling short of expectations, which led to a fan movement to petition the studio to release Snyder’s version. Those pleas remained confined to the realm of online debates until the advent of the HBO Max streaming service, which commissioned Snyder to finish his version. The “Snyder Cut” ended up being four hours long and was released on HBO Max in March. (Read a review here.) A sequel to 2016’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, the film finds Batman (Bruce Wayne) recruiting a team of superheroes, including Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), The Flash (Ezra Miller) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) to protect Earth from Steppenwolf, the harbinger of an invasion by the evil Darkseid, who seeks three ancient objects of immense power that may be the key to resurrecting Superman (Henry Cavill). The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc of Zack Snyder’s Justice League features a Dolby Atmos soundtrack remixed specifically for the home theater environment. However, the disc versions do not include a digital copy of the film, which remains exclusive to HBO Max.

Lionsgate releases the crime-thriller The Gateway on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Sept. 7 following its digital release Sept. 3. The cast includes Shea Whigham, Olivia Munn, Taryn Manning, Mark Boone Junior, Taegen Burns, Frank Grillo and Bruce Dern. Whigham plays Parker, a down-on-his-luck social worker who finds himself in over his head when he tries to protect his client from her recently paroled husband.

AMC Networks’ RLJE Films releases the horror film Slaxx on DVD, VOD and for digital purchase Sept. 7. Originally released through AMC’s horror streaming service, Shudder, Slaxx tells the story of a possessed pair of blue jeans brought to life to punish the unscrupulous practices of a trendy clothing company. Shipped to the company’s flagship store, the killer jeans proceed to wreak carnage on staff who are locked in overnight to set up the new collection.

Arriving Sept. 7 on DVD and Blu-ray Disc from Kino Lorber is Apocalypse ’45, a documentary the Military Times called an “unsanitized, unvarnished experience of the harrowing final year of the war in the Pacific.” Iinitially released last summer, the film features never-before-seen restored footage and the voices of 24 men who lived through these events. Bonus features include “Ford At Pearl,” a new featurette containing color footage directed by John Ford at Pearl Harbor in 1942, and the Oscar-nominated documentary “To The Shores of Iwo Jima,” from 1945.

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CBS and Paramount Home Entertainment release SEAL Team: Season Four on DVD Sept. 7. “SEAL Team” is a military drama that follows the professional and personal lives of the most elite unit of Navy SEALs as they train, plan and execute the most dangerous, high-stakes missions the United States can ask of them. David Boreanaz stars as Jason Hayes, the respected, intense leader of the Tier One team whose home life has suffered as a result of his extensive warrior’s existence.

Season four of “Frankie Drake Mysteries” comes out in a three-DVD set Sept. 7 from PBS Distribution. The season opens with our intrepid detectives Frankie Drake (Lauren Lee Smith) and Trudy Clarke (Chantel Riley) alongside their best gal pals, Mary Shaw (Rebecca Liddiard) and Flo Chakowitz (Sharron Matthews), traipsing through the woods on a scavenger hunt that quickly turns deadly. From the wilderness to the world of high society, from an underground cabaret to a candy factory, Frankie and Trudy investigate murders, kidnappings, heists and poisonings. Using her position as a morality officer, Mary is able to snoop through police files and be privy to non-civilian discussions, while Flo lends a hand with autopsy reports, science experiments and her newly acquired medical skills. As always, amid high-stakes danger, excitement, intrigue and friendship, the women find their balance in their lives outside of work. Frankie has a European race car-driving beau; Trudy’s dreams of home-sweet-home are closer than ever; Mary falls for the wrong fellow; and Flo starts a family.

Paramount Sept. 7 releases Star Trek: The Original 4-Movie Collection boxed set containing 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray versions of 1979’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture, 1982’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, 1984’s Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and 1986’s Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Newly remastered from original elements, each film is presented with Dolby Vision and HDR 10. The set also comes with a digital copy of each film, and a regular Blu-ray copy of each film with hours of previously released bonus content. Each of the original four “Star Trek” films will also be available individually on Blu-ray.

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

Universal’s ‘F9’ Portends Box Office Glory Return With $162 Million Foreign Opening Weekend

The movie blockbuster has returned. Universal Pictures’ latest installment in the “Fast & Furious” franchise, F9, roared to a $162 million opening weekend box office May 21-23 in eight countries outside the United States — including $135 million in China. The tally helped send the franchise pass the $6 billion global revenue mark. The car-themed action movie is slated to open in the U.S. June 25.

Meanwhile, in the States the pandemic-related malaise continues awaiting the upcoming Memorial Day and summer movie slate with the launches of Disney’s Cruella and Paramount Pictures’ A Quiet Place Part I, among others.

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Lionsgate’s horror release Spiral: From the Book of Saw topped domestic screens for the second consecutive weekend, generating $4.5 million across more than 2,900 screens, and $15.8 million since its debut 10 days ago.

MGM/ United Artists’ actioner Wrath of Man, starring Jason Statham, generated $2.9 million in ticket sales, $18.8 million since its debut three weeks ago. Angelina Jolie-starrer Those Who Wish Me Dead generated $1.8 million, bringing its 10-day box office to $5.5 million. The movie is also streaming for free to subscribers on HBO Max. Former weekend box office chart toppers, Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon and Warner Bros. Pictures’ Godzilla vs. Kong, generated $1.6 million and $1.3 million, respectively.

Notably, Funimation’s Demon Slayer: Mugen Train tallied $1.33 million, helping the Japanese movie become the No. 2 anime release in the U.S. all-time after Pokémon with $43.9 million.

Paramount’s ‘A Quiet Place Part 2’ Theatrical Release Bumped Up

In a switch, Paramount Pictures has moved forward the release date of oft-delayed sequel A Quiet Place Part 2 to Memorial Day weekend (May 28) from its previously delayed Sept. 4 debut.

The move means that the John Krasinski-directed follow-up to his original 2018 sleeper hit, A Quiet Place, starring his wife Emily Blunt in a post-apocalyptic world where sound can get someone killed, will stream earlier than expected on new subscription streaming service Paramount+. The first movie generated $340 million in global ticket sales, including $188 million domestically.

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A Quiet Place Part 2, along with Mission: Impossible 7, starring Tom Cruise, have both been tagged by Paramount with shortened theatrical windows (45 days) in order to expedite streaming access into consumer homes.

Paramount made the decision after Universal Pictures pushed back again the theatrical (and PVOD) release of F9, or Fast & Furious 9, from May 22 to June 25 due to the pandemic’s ongoing economic impact on movie theaters. F9 was originally slated to launch May 22, 2020. Universal also pushed the next installment in the “Despicable Me” franchise, Minions: The Rise of Gru, to 2022.

Paramount also moved the theatrical release of sci-fi thriller Infinite, co-starring Mark Wahlberg and Chiwetel Ejiofor, to Sept. 24.

Universal Delays ‘F9: The Fast Saga’ Theatrical Release a Third Time; Pushes ‘Minions: The Rise of Gru’ to 2022

Universal Pictures March 4 announced it is delaying for a third time the latest installment of the “Fast & Furious” franchise, F9: The Fast Saga, from May 22 to June 25. The studio also pushed back by 12 months Minions: The Rise of Gru until summer 2022.

The new delays come despite upbeat news coronavirus vaccinations now include people age 55 and older and are being administered more than 1.5 million times a day, according to the federal government. In addition, New York theaters are set to re-open March 5, operating at 25% seating capacity. It’s the first time theaters in the state and city have been open in a year.

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Universal has upped marketing for F9, which co-stars Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Dwayne Johnson and John Cena, among others, including running two Super Bowl commercials. The movie trailers reportedly tracked 44.5 million views, according to RelishMix. The franchise has generated nearly $5.9 billion in global ticket sales.

Home Release Dates Uncertain After Movie, Original Series Postponements and Production Halts

Movie release postponements as well as production suspensions for films and original SVOD series due to the mounting coronavirus health crisis will likely lead to significant shifts in the home release calendar for the rest of the year.

With movies typically becoming available for disc or digital delivery three months or so after their theatrical openings, delayed home releases include several big Hollywood movies, including the Walt Disney Co.’s live-action Mulan; Universal Pictures’ latest “Fast and Furious” film, F9; and the Paramount Pictures horror sequel A Quiet Place: Part II.

Meanwhile, such original digital series as the Netflix comedy “Grace and Frankie” and Marvel’s “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” on Disney+, will likely debut later than expected due to production halts.

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On the film front, Mulan’s scheduled March 27 theatrical opening has been called off, with no new date set — despite a star-studded premiere March 9 at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood that was attended by some 3,400 guests and a smaller London premiere March 12.

F9’s theatrical debut has been postponed by nearly a year, from May 2020 to April 2, 2021. According to a Twitter posting, “While we know there is disappointment in having to wait a little while longer, this movie is made with the safety of everyone as our foremost consideration.”

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A Quiet Place: Part II, slated to open March 20, has also been taken off the schedule, with no new date set.

The first big movie to be postponed was the latest James Bond film, No Time to Die, with Daniel Craig in his final turn as the fabled spy. On March 3 MGM, Eon and Universal Pictures announced that the planned April theatrical debut was off and the film, instead would open in the United Kingdom on Nov. 12 and in the United States on Nov. 25.

The companies said the decision came “after careful consideration and thorough evaluation of the global theatrical marketplace.”

Disney also pushed back the theatrical openings of two other movies, the horror film Antlers, original slated for April 17, and Marvel’s New Mutants, which was supposed to hit the big screen on April 3. No new dates have been set. New Mutants has already been delayed for years due to production issues and uncertainties associated with Disney’s buyout of Fox.

In addition to A Quiet Place: Part II, Paramount postponed the theatrical debut of The Lovebirds from April 3 to an unspecified date. The theatrical release of another Paramount film, Mission: Impossible VII, is up in the air after filming in Venice, Italy, was stopped in February due to the coronavirus outbreak there.

Also pulled from its originally scheduled theatrical release date is Sony Pictures’ Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway, which was supposed to open March 27 in Europe and in the United States on April 3. The film is now slated to open on Aug. 7.

Most recently, Variety on March 13 reported that Disney “for a short time” has halted production and pre-production on The Last Duel, The Little Mermaid, Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings, Home Alone, Nightmare Alley, Peter Pan & Wendy and Shrunk.

“While there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on our productions, after considering the current environment and the best interests of our cast and crew, we have made the decision to pause production on some of our live-action films for a short time,” according to a studio statement, the Variety story said. “We will continue to assess the situation and restart as soon as feasible.”

The day before, March 12, various media outlets reported that Skydance Television, producer of “Grace and Frankie,” halted production of the seventh and final season of the comedy, which stars Jane Fonda, 82, and Lily Tomlin, 80.

Two days earlier, USA Today reported that Disney shut down production of “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” in Prague.