Animated ‘Spies in Disguise’ to Be Unveiled on Digital and Disc — Including 4K — March 10

The animated comedy Spies in Disguise will come out on digital, 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD March 10 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

In the film, super spy Lance Sterling (Will Smith) and scientist Walter Beckett (Tom Holland) are almost exact opposites. Lance is smooth, suave and debonair. Walter is none of the above. But this unlikely duo must team up for the ultimate mission to save the world when a “biodynamic concealment” experiment transforms Lance into a pigeon.

The film earned $163.5 million at the global box office.

Blu-ray bonus features include multiple making-of featurettes and two music videos as well as “Super Secret Spy Mode,” an immersive, in-movie experience that takes you deeper into the story with Easter eggs, facts and behind-the-scenes insights into the making of the film.

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Oscar Nominated ‘Jojo Rabbit’ Coming to Digital Feb. 4, Disc — Including 4K — Feb. 18

Writer-director Taika Waititi’s six-time Oscar nominated Jojo Rabbit will debut on digital Feb. 4 and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD Feb. 18 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

The World War II satire follows a lonely German boy (Roman Griffin Davis as Jojo) whose world view is turned upside down when he discovers his single mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their attic.

The film has been nominated for Best Picture Academy Award Nomination, a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy, a Critics’ Choice Award nomination for Best Picture, and a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. Star Davis, whose first-ever acting role was Jojo, won a Critics’ Choice Award for Best Young Actor, as well as a nomination for a Golden Globe in the category of Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy. Additionally, Johansson has received an Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actress, and BAFTA and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations for her performance as Rosie. Waititi has received Academy Award Nominations for Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture (with Carthew Neal), as well as nominations from the Directors Guild of America, the Writers Guild of America, the Producers Guild of America, and BAFTA (Adapted Screenplay). Earlier this year, the film was honored at the AFI Awards, making it onto AFI’s list of the Top 10 Movies of the Year for 2019. And the film also won TIFF’s highly acclaimed Grolsch People’s Choice Award, while Waititi garnered the Ebert Director Award at the festival’s tribute gala awards event.

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Bonus features include deleted scenes, outtakes, “Inside Jojo Rabbit,” audio commentary from Waititi and theatrical trailers.

Online TV Confronts Rising Carriage Fees

When launched in 2015, online TV services such as Sling TV, PlayStation Vue and DirecTV Now were championed as pay-TV saviors in the face of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu.

Now Vue is history, DirecTV Now has been rebranded AT&T TV and Sling remains stagnant with about 2.6 million subscribers. All the while, the carriage fees paid by distributors to content holders continue to rise, leading to programming blackouts for subscribers.

A carriage dispute is a disagreement over the right to “carry”, that is, retransmit, a broadcaster’s signal. Carriage disputes first occurred between broadcasters and cable companies and now include satellite and other multichannel video programming distributors such as online TV.

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Sports-themed fuboTV just announced it was dropping Disney-owned FX, FXX, FXM and National Geographic due to increased costs to carry the channels.

Disney reportedly is demanding $16 monthly in retransmission fees per subscriber to carry the combined channels, including ESPN — an amount deemed too expensive by fuboTV.

A fuboTV staffer recently went on Reddit to address the issue: “As many of you know, neither fuboTV nor any other distributor is able to license just ESPN from Disney; instead, distributors are required to license the ‘Disney bundle.’ There is no way around this. As such, we [opted] to make the difficult decision of building a channel lineup that is both differentiated and affordable to consumers.”

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The staffer contends the Disney bundle price would require fuboTV to revisit bundle pricing, i.e. raise prices.

“Additionally, it’d come with high penetration (user) requirements, which would limit our ability to offer a differentiated offer for different consumer cohorts,” the staffer wrote.

In a media statement, fuboTV said it has added dozens of entertainment networks to its base package, including channels from AMC Networks, WarnerMedia, Viacom and Discovery.

“fuboTV remains a leading platform for the best movies and TV shows across every genre — from comedy and drama to nature and reality — both live and on demand,” read the statement.

Last month, Sling TV raised its monthly subscription fees by $5 to $30 each for Sling Orange and Sling Blue to offset program distribution costs. A combined bundle fee costs $45 monthly.

“Sling doesn’t own the networks you watch — we have to pay programmers for their channels so that we can provide them to you, and the price of programming has been going up,” Warren Schlichting, president of the online service, wrote in a blog post. “Unfortunately, we have to share those rising prices with you, so we can continue to provide you with the same great experience you’ve come to expect from Sling.”

 

Merchandising: Mixed Reviews for Best Buy’s ‘Infinity Saga’ Set

Best Buy Nov. 15 released its exclusive The Infinity Saga collection of the first 23 Marvel Cinematic Universe films, from Iron Man to Avengers: Endgame. The pricey set included the films in both Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, plus digital codes for each, in collectible display packaging and an exclusive bonus disc with never-before-seen deleted scenes from several of the Marvel films.

Limited to about 4,000 units available at $549.99 each, the collector’s set quickly sold out, with copies showing up on secondary markets such as eBay commanding asking prices well above $1,000. Some online reviews of the set, however, indicated poor quality control both in the assembly of the set and the shipping of it, with reports of damaged boxes and missing movies. The discs themselves come in paper sleeves, with some reviewers reporting glue from the packaging seeping onto the discs.

It should also be noted that the set does not include the 3D versions of any movies that had been released on disc in 3D, and extra bonus discs from the earlier movies also were not included.

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Dec. 3 Best Buy had a piece of another massive collector’s set, that being Fox’s The Simpsons: The Complete Seasons 1-20 Limited Edition. The 79-DVD set (no Blu-ray, even though some of the seasons were released in the HD format) was reportedly limited to a run of just 1,000 units, with copies available through Best Buy, Amazon and Walmart. Each retailer’s website had the boxed set listed for a $499.99 sale price the day prior to its official street date.

The 19th season, which aired in 2007 and 2008, also arrived on DVD for the first time Dec. 3, completing the run of the first 20 seasons. The show is currently in its 31st. Fox in 2015 announced it wasn’t releasing any more “Simpsons” DVDs, at a point when it had released discs of just seasons one through 17 and season 20. Season 18 was released on DVD in 2017 following fan demand for more discs.

Based on the producers’ statements in 2015, and rumors swirling that Disney may end the series (which it purchased as part of its acquisition of the 20th Century Fox studio and catalog) after 32 or 33 seasons, the next DVD or Blu-ray release of the series could possibly be a complete-series set a few years from now, if such a disc release is even contemplated at all. The first 30 seasons of the series are available for streaming on the new Disney+ service.

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The biggest disc release of Dec. 3, however, was HBO’s “Game of Thrones” eighth-season and complete-series releases.

For exclusives on the eighth season set, however, HBO committed one of the biggest pet peeves among collectors — splitting exclusive featurettes among different retailers — as opposed to offering a variety of packaging options or pack-on collectibles, with any bonus content consolidated with one retailer so fans who just care about having all the available content aren’t tempted to buy the same release twice just for a few extra minutes of bonus material that isn’t offered anywhere else.

Best Buy “Game of Thrones” season eight exclusive sigil box art

For Game of Thrones: The Complete Eighth Season, Target offered the Blu-ray at $39.99 with an add-on “How the Storm Was Born” featurette, taking a look at the making of the penultimate episode and the razing of King’s Landing.

The featurette was included on a separate disc packed onto the standard season eight case.

Walmart’s exclusive bonus disc with the Blu-ray offered the featurette “From Renderings to Reality: The Visual Effects of Season 8.” The chain had it at $37.96 with the same packaging as Target, a separate thin Blu-ray case packed with the regular season eight Blu-ray, but availability was spotty from store-to-store, with some locations not even bothering to put any of the week’s new titles on shelves even into the evening of Dec. 3.

Interestingly, the VFX featurettes for the first seven seasons are included on the bonus disc with the Game of Thrones: The Complete Series Blu-ray. So fans who buy the complete series and want that final VFX featurette will have to buy a second copy of season eight separately.

Best Buy offered the season-eight Blu-ray with exclusive three-eyed-raven sigil box art for $44.99.

 

‘Lucy in the Sky’ Flying to Digital Dec. 17

The astronaut drama Lucy in the Sky will land on digital Dec. 17 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

The film stars Natalie Portman and Jon Hamm in a story inspired by true events ripped from the headlines. After star astronaut Lucy Cola (Portman) earns a coveted spot on a NASA mission, she’s moved by the transcendence of being in space. But when she returns to Earth, her everyday life feels too small. Soon, she engages in a reckless love triangle that threatens her career and her sanity.

Special features on the digital release includes four deleted scenes and four making-of featurettes.

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James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ Available on Disney+ at Launch Nov. 12

Director James Cameron’s 2009 box office hit Avatar will be available on Disney+ when the streaming service launches in the United States, Canada and The Netherlands on Nov. 12, followed by Australia and New Zealand on Nov. 19.

Disney+ will be the exclusive subscription streaming home to the film, which will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of its theatrical release on Dec. 18, according to a Disney release.

Disney+ is available now for pre-order in the United States for $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year.

Avatar was the first motion picture of its kind to utilize a new generation of special effects to deliver a fully immersive cinematic experience. The Oscar and Golden Globe-winning epic is the second-highest-grossing film of all time.

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Written by Cameron and produced by Cameron and Jon Landau, Avatar, originally released by Fox, takes place on Pandora, where a man embarks on an epic adventure, ultimately fighting to save both the people he learns to love and the place he now calls home. The film stars Sam Worthington, Zoë Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez, Giovanni Ribisi, Joel David Moore, CCH Pounder, Wes Studi and Laz Alonso.

Cameron recorded a greeting about the Disney+ debut:

Free TV Streaming Service ‘Locast’ Fights Back Against Major Broadcasters With Countersuit

Locast, the free New York-based service that streams broadcast television feeds online, on Sept. 27 filed a lawsuit against NBC, CBS, Fox and ABC, alleging the major broadcasts colluded to undermine its business, among other claims.

The service claims to have about 700,000 registered users/donors across 13 cities, including Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, N.Y., is counter litigation against against a civil complaint filed by broadcasters in July against Locast and its non-profit advocacy group Sports Fans Coalition NY parent, alleging the platform violated the content copyrights and revenue streams from pay-TV distributors.

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Locast founder David Goodfriend, in his countersuit, claims the networks colluded to put pressure on pay-TV operators in an effort to undermine his business model.

Under federal law, broadcasters must make their signals available to the public through a digital antennae. But pay-TV operators pay networks retransmission fees to distribute their signals.

Locast, as a non-profit, argues it merely acts as a “signal booster.”

“This is classic copyright abuse,” read the complaint. “[Networks] have misused copyrights to expand their market power beyond what those copyrights were intended to protect.”

Unique to the case is the fact Locast has received funding from major media companies such as AT&T ($500,000), which owns WarnerMedia, and Google’s YouTube.

The suit alleges the networks threatened YouTube with litigation if it enabled Locast to operate on its servers.

Yet, when AT&T’s DirecTV satellite distributor and U-verse pay-TV channel had a retransmissions fee dispute with CBS this summer, it directed its 6.5 million subs blacked out from CBS content to use Locast.

Indeed, Dish Network offers the Locast app to its satellite and Sling TV subs as alternative on its AirTV devices.

‘Stuber’ Motors to Digital Oct. 1, Disc Oct. 15 Including 4K From Fox

The comedy Stuber travels to digital Oct. 1 and 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD Oct. 15 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

The buddy comedy follows a mild-mannered driver named Stu (Kumail Nanjiani, “Silicon Valley”) who picks up a passenger (Dave Bautista, Guardians of the Galaxy) who turns out to be a cop hot on the trail of a brutal killer. Stu is thrust into a harrowing ordeal in which he desperately tries to hold onto his wits, his life and his five-star rating.

The cast also includes Betty Gilpin (“GLOW”), Iko Uwais (The Raid: Redemption), Mira Sorvino (Mighty Aphrodite), Jimmy Tatro (“American Vandal”), Natalie Morales (“Abby’s”) and Karen Gillan (Guardians of the Galaxy).

The film earned $22.4 million at the domestic box office.

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Bonus features include deleted scenes, a gag reel, audio commentary with director Michael Dowse (Goon) and Kumail Nanjiani.

More Fox, Disney Layoffs — Five Months After Closure of Sale

Two days after Media Play News reported head of marketing Julia Howe as the latest high-profile 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment departure, multiple sources Aug. 29 said the company — now owned by the Walt Disney Co. — has been racked by more layoffs, including division veterans Jennifer Chai and Kavita Smith.

Jennifer Chai

Chai held the title of SVP of worldwide brand marketing for the home entertainment arm. She led worldwide brand marketing and strategy for the entire Fox new release theatrical slate and third-party titles for both the physical and digital business. She also was involved with the cross-studio Movies Anywhere service as well as other digital strategic initiatives. Chai has been at Fox since 2000, joining after three years as brand manager at what was then Buena Vista Home Entertainment, the Walt Disney Co.’s home entertainment arm.

Smith was VP, global marketing communications and publicity. According to her LinkedIn profile, she joined Fox as director of publicity in November 2005 and was elevated to executive director in September 2012. She was promoted to VP in August 2014. She will stay on through October, sources said.

Reports say the layoffs — nearly 60 — have occurred in both the home entertainment and TV distribution divisions, encompassing both Disney and Fox employees. 20th Century Fox TV Distribution EVP of worldwide marketing Greg Drebin also is exiting.

Fox president of worldwide home entertainment Keith Feldman is staying on with Disney, sources told Media Play News, although his contract has not been finalized.

Howe is said to be leaving the company in November.

The new departures come on the heels of previous high-profile exits in the wake of the Disney acquisition.

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Mike Dunn, for years the top home entertainment executive at 20th Century Fox, was among a handful of high-ranking studio executives to leave the studio on March 21, a day after the acquisition closed.

A short time later, Janice Marinelli, head of home entertainment at Disney, set up an office at Fox, reportedly to acquaint herself with the studio’s home entertainment team and see how they operate. But July 16 the 34-year Disney veteran announced her exit.

Also in July, veteran division publicist James Finn, who recently had become co-head of marketing, quietly announced his departure in an email to friends and colleagues. “For nearly 20 years I’ve called Fox my home,” he wrote. “Thank you to my colleagues, my mentors, my family, my friends and my team for making it so much fun.”

After Fox’s sale to Disney closed in March, reports surfaced that as many as 4,000 people could ultimately lose their jobs.

Fox Fetes ‘Mayans M.C.’ Season One DVD

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment celebrated the DVD release of FX’s Mayans M.C.: The Complete First Season with a party Aug. 18 at Heroes Motors in Los Angeles. “Mayans M.C.” is the next chapter in Kurt Sutter’s “Sons of Anarchy” saga. The show takes place in the same fictional universe, and deals with the Sons’ rivals-turned-allies, the Mayans Motorcycle Club. (Photos by Dan Steinberg)