SDS Inks DVD, Blu-ray, 4K UHD Distribution Deal With Retailers Fred Meyer and GameStop

Studio Distribution Services (SDS), the joint venture that distributes discs for Universal Pictures Home Entertainment and Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment, has established two new direct retail relationships with major retailers Fred Meyer and GameStop.

Under the deal, SDS will bring select 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray Disc and DVD titles to all 132 Fred Meyer grocery stores and 170 GameStop stores, as well as the GameStop.com e-commerce site. GameStop stores will merchandise the discs on a dedicated video wall space.

The relationship with Fred Meyer will kick off with the May 14 release of Dune: Part Two and expand to include standing retail floor stand fixtures. This dedicated space will feature recent releases, along with catalog, anime, and seasonal titles.

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“This new relationship with SDS will allow Fred Meyer stores to continue to offer the best and most exciting new releases to our customers. Together, SDS and Kroger are thrilled to bring the products consumers crave to where they conveniently shop,” said Austen Bates, category manager and buyer for The Kroger Co./Fred Meyer.

GameStop will introduce a dedicated video wall space with 20 title facings in 170 stores nationwide, and also will include an expanded online assortment on GameStop.com.

 “With gaming consoles offering both gaming and movie playback capabilities, this expansion makes perfect sense,” said Mark Lewis, SVP of sales at SDS. “SDS is excited to leverage our position as a leading physical media film distributor to bring consumers their favorite films where they already shop for their entertainment.”

SDS says the two new deals reflect a resurgence of interest by consumers in buying their favorite movies and shows on disc.

 “These relationships not only meet the demands of our dedicated fan base who are always asking for more, but they also represent a crucial step forward on the path to greater access to our products in the shifting retailer marketplace,” said SDS president Eddie Cunningham. “SDS is thrilled to continue to champion the physical media industry and we are confident that our loyal consumers will be delighted by the opportunity to discover new release films at additional and convenient locations around the country.”

‘Dumb Money’ Available Digitally Nov. 7

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will release the comedy Dumb Money through digital retailers beginning Nov. 7.

Based on the Book The Antisocial Network by Ben Mezrich, the film explores the true story of the people who manipulated the stock market by turning GameStop into the world’s hottest company in 2021.

In the middle of everything is regular guy Keith Gill (Paul Dano), who starts it all by sinking his life savings into the stock and posting about it. When his social posts start blowing up, so does his life and the lives of everyone following him. As a stock tip becomes a movement, everyone gets rich – until the billionaires fight back, and both sides find their worlds turned upside down. 

The film was directed by Craig Gillespie, with a cast that also includes Pete Davidson, Vincent D’Onofrio, America Ferrera, Nick Offerman, Anthony Ramos, Sebastian Stan, Shailene Woodley and Seth Rogen. It earned $13.9 million at the domestic box office.

Digital extras include filmmaker commentary, deleted scenes, and the featurettes “Fat Cats vs. The Roaring Kitty,” “Diamond Hand Ensemble” and “Join the Cast & Discover the Insane True Story!”

 

GameStop Fires CEO Matthew Furlong, Largest Shareholder Ryan Cohen Upped to Executive Chairman

GameStop, the nation’s largest video game retailer, has terminated the employment of CEO Matthew Furlong, nearly two years after the former Amazon executive was appointed to the position replacing George Sherman. Furlong, who also resigned his board seat, was let go without cause, meaning he will be eligible to receive full severance benefits.

The move comes despite GameStop narrowing its first quarter (ended April 29) fiscal loss to $50.5 million, from $157.9 million in the previous-year period. Revenue, which includes packaged-media games and hardware sales, declined more than 10% to $1.24 billion, from $1.38 billion a year before.

Matthew Furlong

Texas-based GameStop continues to struggle as the gaming market transitions from physical disc games to online, including subscription-based platforms operated separately by Sony (PlayStation), Microsoft (Xbox) and Nintendo Switch.

GameStop’s largest individual shareholder Ryan Cohen, who hired Furlong in 2021, was upped to executive chairman of the board. The company also named Mark Robinson, current chief counsel, its new general manager. Robinson’s responsibilities include administrative matters, corporate development,
legal affairs and support for GameStop’s holdings, including the oversight of other executive officers besides the executive chairman. He reports directly to Cohen, who founded the Chewy online pet retail platform, and will continue to serve as the general counsel and secretary of the GameStop.

Ryan Cohen

“We believe the combination of these efforts to stabilize and optimize our core business and achieve sustained profitability while also focusing on capital allocation under Mr. Cohen’s leadership will further unlock long-term value creation for our stockholders,” GameStop said in a statement.

Michael Pachter, who specializes in the video game market on Wall Street for Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, called Furlong’s firing “classless.”

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Pachter contends Furlong, along with two other Amazon executives, was hired to operate GameStop like Amazon, the world’s biggest e-commerce platform.

The analyst said he believes Cohen (and his hand-picked board) doesn’t understand that downloading dog food isn’t an alternative for consumers as it is for gamers, so the existence of physical retail sales channels was never threatened in the way GameStop’s existence has been.

“My best guess is that Cohen genuinely believes all businesses can thrive the way Chewy did,” Pachter said in an email.

The analyst said Cohen seemed to believe that a massive and rapid pivot to online sales was possible, staffed up with capable people who had done it at Amazon, and now the three have apparently been scapegoated for the lack of progress.

“The venom in the press release (‘the former CEO has been terminated’) and failure to either name Furlong or to acknowledge his contributions was classless,” said Pachter.

The retailer’s stock is down more than 22% in early morning trading.

GameStop Posts Surprise $48 Million Quarterly Profit

GameStop, the world’s No. 1 brick-and-mortar video game retailer, March 21 reported unexpected fourth-quarter (ended Jan. 28) net income of $48.2 million on revenue of $2.22 billion. That compared with a loss of $147.5 million on revenue of $2.25 billion during the previous-year period.

The Grapevine, Texas-based chain said it generated net sales of $5.93 billion for the fiscal year, compared with $6.01 billion for fiscal-year 2021. The company narrowed the fiscal loss to $313.1 million from a net loss of $381.3 million in 2021.

Matt Furlong

Hardware and accessories in the quarter accounted for 55.8% ($1.238 billion) of total sales compared to 52.7% ($1.185 billion) a year ago, while software sales fell to 30.1% ($668 million) from 34.9% ($785 million) a year earlier.

GameStop continues to make inroads into collectibles, generating 14.1% ($313 million) in sales of memorabilia, dolls, action figures, posters and T-shirts, among others, compared with 12.4% ($279 million) a year ago. The chain generated another $4.5 million in digital sales.

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“Collectibles is an area in which the company continues prioritizing long-term growth,” GameStop said in a statement.

On the fiscal call, CEO Matt Furlong said GameStop would continue exiting select European markets going forward in an effort to streamline operating expenses.

“Although there is a lot of hard work and necessary execution in front of us, GameStop is a much healthier business today than it was at the start of 2021,” Furlong said. “We have considerable cash on hand, negligible debt, streamlined inventory and a path to full year profitability. Our plan is to use this strong positioning to continue delivering a unique customer experience and long-term stockholder value.”

Wall Street jumped at the news, sending GameStop shares up almost 35% in after-market trading at $23.95 per share.

GameStop Launches NFT Marketplace

GameStop July 11 announced the launch of a marketplace to allow gamers, creators, collectors and other consumers to buy, sell and trade non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

The video game retailer’s NFT marketplace is a non-custodial, Ethereum Layer 2-based marketplace that enables parties to own their digital assets, which are represented and secured on the blockchain.

The NFT market revolves around collectibles, including digital artwork, sports cards and similar artifacts that can create market value based on consumer interest.

The marketplace, which can be accessed at https://nft.gamestop.com, allows parties to connect to their own digital asset wallets such as the recently launched GameStop Wallet. Over time, the marketplace will expand functionality to encompass additional categories such as Web3 gaming, more creators and other Ethereum environments, according to GameStop.

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GameStop, which most-recently posted a $147.5 million quarterly loss, is looking to transform from a legacy packaged-media retailer to digital and streaming gaming.

GameStop Fires CFO Amid Staff Cuts

GameStop Corp., the world’s largest video game retailer, has terminated the employment of CFO Michael Recupero — about a year after hiring him and CEO Matt Furlong from Amazon.

The company said Diana Saadeh-Jajeh, formerly chief accounting officer, would assume the CFO position, effective immediately. Saadeh-Jajeh previously held the CFO role on an interim basis in 2021.

She receives the same $200,000 base salary as Recupero and is eligible for $1.9 million in bonuses — a little more than half the reported $3.6 million in sign-on bonuses Recupero received.

The move comes amid ongoing staff cuts as GameStop attempts to reduce costs. The retailer posted a net loss of $157.9 million on revenue of $1.37 billion in quarter ended April 30. That was more than double the $66.8 million loss on revenue of $1.3 billion in the previous-year period.

“Everyone in the organization must become even more hands-on and embrace a heightened level of accountability for results,” Furlong reportedly wrote in a company memo.

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GameStop Ups Fiscal 2021 Revenue — and Loss

Game Stop’s first report card under new management suggests it still has a way to go in its quest to transition beyond its legacy retail footprint.

The nation’s largest video game retailer reported a fourth-quarter (ended Jan. 29) loss of $147.5 million on revenue of $2.25 billion. That compared with net income of $80.5 million on revenue of $2.12 billion in the previous-year period.

For the fiscal year, GameStop expanded its loss to $381.3 million on revenue of $6 billion. That compared with a fiscal loss of $215.3 million on $5 billion in revenue in 2020.

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When GameStop last year hired Chewy.com founder Ryan Cohen as its new chairman, the tech-savvy entrepreneur shook up senior management, transplanting the company’s brick-and-mortar retail focus with e-commerce and digital distribution, including hiring former Amazon executive Matt Furlong as CEO.

On the company’s March 17 earnings call, Furlong attributed the increased loss to growing pains as the company transitions away from packaged media to digital gaming and distribution. Indeed, the company plans to launch a branded non-fungible token marketplace by the end of Q2 in an effort to capitalize on the reported $40 billion NFT market.

The chain did up its “PowerUp” rewards membership program by 32% from 2020, ending last year with more than 5.8 million members.

“It is important to stress that GameStop had become such a cyclical business, and so capital-starved, that we have had to rebuild it from within,” Furlong said on the call. “We felt, and continue to feel, that investing in our customers and rebuilding brand loyalty right now is in the company’s best interest over the long term.”

Wall Street isn’t so sure. GameStop shares fell more than 7% in after-market trading.

GameStop Stock Doc ‘Gaming Wall St’ Debuts March 3 on HBO Max

The two-part Max Original documentary Gaming Wall St, about the GameStop stock controversy, debuts March 3 on HBO Max.
 
Narrated by Kieran Culkin (HBO’s “Succession”), the documentary explores the historic 2021 short squeeze of GameStop, and how a group of armchair investors and online vigilantes ultimately helped expose the dark underbelly of Wall Street.
 
Gaming Wall St peels back the layers of one of the most talked about news stories in 2021, revealing the systemic issues and underbelly of the financial world,” said Joanna Zwickel, SVP of documentary features and series at producer Gunpowder & Sky in a statement. “It’s an honor to have this series live on HBO Max.” 

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“I wanted to create a compelling documentary about a niche online community which grew into the movement behind GameStop and momentarily shifted the balance of power on Wall Street,” said director Tobias Deml in a statement. “I saw a great need for access to education about investing. We have the opportunity to right a decades-old wrong created by powerful firms that have been gaming the system to the detriment of society. I hope that viewers will feel empowered to see themselves as investors and be part of a much-needed reform to Wall Street.”

 

GameStop Ups Q3 Revenue, Widens Loss

GameStop, the nation’s largest video game retailer, reported third-quarter (ended Oct. 30) revenue of nearly $1.3 billion, up 30% from revenue of $1 billion during the previous-year period. The chain also realized a net loss of $105 million, which widened 460% from a loss of $18 million in the prior-year quarter.

Much of the loss was attributed to front-loading investments in inventory to meet increased customer demand and mitigate supply chain issues during the pandemic. Inventory in the quarter topped $1.14 billion, compared with $861 million at the close of the prior year’s third quarter.

GameStop saw a 62% jump in hardware sales to $670 million, driven by sales of new-generation game consoles from Microsoft Xbox, Sony PlayStation, as well the Nintendo Switch. Software sales dipped 2% to $434 million, while accessories sales increased 30% to $192 million.

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GameStop also opened new offices in Seattle and Boston, which are technology hubs with established talent markets. Under new senior management looking to jumpstart digital gaming and consumer electronics sales, CEO Matt Furlong, on the fiscal call, said the company would continue to focus on the long term.

“We will continuously prioritize growth and market leadership over short-term margins,” he said without elaborating.

Wall Street wasn’t impressed, sending shares down more than 4% in premarket trading.

Michael Pachter, media/gaming analyst with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, said he expects to see “flattish top-line growth” in 2022, while remaining “quite optimistic” about a return to profitability.

At the same time, Pachter is no fan of GameStop’s volatile stock, which has been the subject of a high-profile short squeeze by crowdsourced individual investors, coupled with ongoing support from certain retail investors.

“[The actions] have spiked the share price to levels that are completely disconnected from the fundamentals of the business,” Pachter wrote in a Dec. 9 note.

Indeed, the Securities Exchange Commission is investigating trading activity surrounding GameStop shares. On Aug. 25, the SEC issued a subpoena calling for additional documents, as a follow up to an initial request for information surrounding the events that led to GameStop shares skyrocketing in value.

“We are in the process of producing the documents and have been and intend to continue cooperating fully with the SEC regarding this matter,” GameStop said in a statement.

GameStop Opens Lower Following Mixed Financials

The day after world’s largest video game retailer GameStop posted mixed second-quarter (ended July 30) financial results, company shares trended down during early Sept. 9 trading.

Despite a retail footprint of thousands of stores, GameStop rebooted its senior management team, incorporating a team of e-commerce experts led by new chairman Ryan Cohen, founder of Chewy.com. The company is in the process of transitioning from physical retail to technology and online gaming.

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Cohen & Co.’s ascendancy has been fueled in part by crowdsourced-investors looking to manipulate GameStop shares for short-term gains. The strategy has worked thus far, with shares up 860% year-to-date based largely on non-business fundamentals. Quarterly revenue topped $1.18 billion, above an industry estimate of $1.12 billion.

Regardless, GameStop management conducted no Q&A during its Sept. 8 fiscal call — the second consecutive fiscal period it has done so.

As a result, much of the established Wall Street investment community has abandoned GameStop, except Wedbush Securities game expert Michael Pachter. The analyst questions when Cohen will live up to his hype.

“I am waiting for his brilliant strategy, and it’s not going to be brilliant,” Pachter told Yahoo Finance. “If it was brilliant, then he would have let us know, months and months and months ago. [Cohen] is trying to revolutionize an industry that has already passed him by. He’s audacious, and he’s wrong on this one.”