‘The Mule’ Battles ‘Bumblebee’ on Redbox Charts

Warner’s The Mule was a stubborn competitor for Paramount’s Bumblebee on the Redbox charts for the week ended April 7.

The Clint Eastwood drama took the No. 1 spot on the Redbox kiosk chart, which tracks DVD and Blu-ray Disc rentals at the company’s more than 40,000 red vending machines, and the “Transformers” reboot topped the Redbox On Demand chart, which tracks digital transactions, including both electronic sellthrough and streaming rentals. The Mule, meanwhile, came in at No. 2 on the digital chart while Bumblebee finished second on the disc chart.

Both titles were new releases on disc for the week. Bumblebee, starring Hailee Steinfeld, earned $127.2 million at the box office while The Mule took in $103.8 million.

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Warner’s Aquaman, the No. 1 title on both charts in the previous week, slipped to No. 3 on the two Redbox charts while the Jennifer Lopez comedy Second Act fell from second place to fourth on both charts.

Vice, a disc new release from Fox, finished at No. 6 on both the disc and digital charts. The Oscar-lauded film, starring Christian Bale and Amy Adams, chronicles the life and legacy of vice president Dick Cheney.

Top DVD and Blu-ray Disc Rentals, Redbox Kiosks, Week Ended April 7:

  1. The Mule (New) — Warner
  2. Bumblebee (New) — Paramount
  3. Aquaman — Warner
  4. Second Act — Universal
  5. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse — Sony
  6. Vice (2018) (New) — Fox
  7. Mary Poppins Returns — Disney
  8. Instant Family — Paramount
  9. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald— Warner
  10. Ralph Breaks the Internet — Disney

 

Top Digital, Redbox On Demand, Week Ended April 7:

  1. Bumblebee — Paramount
  2. The Mule — Warner
  3. Aquaman— Warner
  4. Second Act — Universal
  5. Instant Family — Paramount
  6. Vice (2018) — Fox
  7. A Star Is Born (2018) — Warner
  8. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse — Sony
  9. Green Book— Universal
  10. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald— Warner

Bumblebee

 BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 4/2/19;
Paramount;
Sci-Fi;
Box Office $127.2 million;
$29.99 DVD, $31.99 Blu-ray, $34.99. UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of sci-fi action violence.
Stars Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., John Ortiz, Jason Drucker, Pamela Adlon, Stephen Schneider, Glynn Turman, Len Cariou. Voices of Dylan O’Brien, Angela Bassett, Justin Theroux, Peter Cullen.

It’s hard to deny that the five live-action “Transformers” films have just about worn out their welcome even among the most avid fans of the franchise and toy line on which it’s based. With the movies for the most part having devolved into spectacles of mind-numbing action, incomprehensible plotting, unrecognizable characters and a jumble of references to the iconic “Transformers” lore established in the old cartoons and comic books, it was clear a change in direction was in order.

Bumblebee, directed by stop-motion animation veteran Travis Knight, is just the creative spark the franchise needed to re-connect with the audience, returning to the basics of the brand’s premise without over-complicating the story with an abundance of jokey characters and a fetish for the military industrial complex.

As the sixth live-action “Transformers” film, Bumblebee could be seen as either a prequel to the other five, or as a reboot, depending on what direction producers decide to take it in the future. There are obvious references to the other films embedded throughout, so if further movies didn’t materialize then it plays pretty well as a prequel, with some mental gymnastics employed to explain away moments where the story seems to completely ignore what has been established in the earlier films.

It’s somewhat evident that an earlier iteration of the movie was meant to more closely align with Bay’s world, particularly since a comic book prelude released before the film depicts Bumblebee working with the British secret service in the 1960s, playing off his involvement in World War II in the fifth film. Bumblebee, on the other hand, shows him landing on Earth in 1987, which isn’t necessarily inconsistent, but raises a few questions. An alternate opening sequence — included among the Blu-ray’s 19 minutes of deleted scenes — is a bit more vague about Bumblebee’s arrival on Earth.

So, in the same vein as X-Men: First Class, it wouldn’t be surprising if future sequels didn’t bother connecting to the existing continuity, though, recently one of the film’s producers indicated future installments would lean more toward the Bay continuity after all.

Bumblebee plays like a throwback to a 1980s Steven Spielberg movie, while the story is somewhat of a gender-swapped version of the set-up to the 2007 film, in which Shia LeBeouf came across Bumblebee in a used-car lot.

Fleeing from the Decepticon conquest of his home planet of Cybertron, Bumblebee crashes on Earth and loses his memory. Having taken on the disguise of a 1960s Volkswagen Beetle, he is discovered in a junkyard by Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld), a mechanically inclined rebellious teenager looking for meaning in her life following the sudden death of her father. She repairs Bumblebee and learns that he’s an alien robot with the ability to transform into a car. And he’s being pursued by the U.S. military and Decepticon bounty hunters. With Charlie’s help, Bumblebee starts to regain his identity enough to remember the mission given to him by Autobot leader Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) to protect Earth from the Decepticons so the Autobots can use it as a base to regroup.

The film comes to life with seamless visual effects that look great on Blu-ray, and a soundtrack peppered with some of the top hits of the 1980s.

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The girl and her living car angle might also bring to mind Herbie: Fully Loaded, which itself was an attempt to freshen up a shopworn franchise. For the most part, though, Bumblebee offers up a good chunk of the kind of “Transformers” fun that fans have been waiting to see since the 1980s, particularly the battles on Cybertron.

The Blu-ray also comes with a mini-comic featuring Bumblebee’s next adventure, in which he tussles with another Decepticon who has come looking for him. One of the extras on the disc is a motion comic containing this story with an extended ending that more explicitly ties Bumblebee to the events of the first Bay movie.

The disc also contains 10 minutes of outtakes, a four-minute profile of various “Transformers” characters with their “Generation One”-inspired designs, and 47 minutes of decent behind-the-scenes featurettes.

Paramount’s ‘Bumblebee’ Shoots to Top of FandangoNow Chart

Paramount’s Bumblebee fought its way to No. 1 on FandangoNow’s chart of top movies for digital rental and purchase for the week ended March 24.

FandangoNow is movie site Fandango’s transactional VOD service.

The “Transformers” franchise reboot, which earned $127.2 million in theaters, stars Hailee Steinfeld in an origin story about the Autobot warrior Bumblebee. It debuted on digital March 19.

Warner took the second spot on the FandangoNow chart with another new digital release, the Clint Eastwood starrer The Mule, about a broke man in his 80s who unwittingly signs on as a drug courier.

The studio also managed a third-place finish with Aquaman, which sank two spots after two weeks at No. 1. The DC Comics superhero feature earned $334.8 million at the box office.

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Sony’s Best Animated Feature Oscar winner Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse hung in at No. 4 for another week, while Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns, which stars Emily Blunt, remained in the fifth spot.

The top films to purchase and/or rent on FandangoNow for the week ended March 24 were:

  1. Bumblebee — Paramount
  2. The Mule — Warner
  3. Aquaman — Warner
  4. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse — Sony
  5. Mary Poppins Returns — Disney
  6. A Star Is Born (2018) — Warner
  7. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald — Warner
  8. Green Book — Universal
  9. Instant Family — Paramount
  10. Creed II — Warner

 

Fandango is celebrating the upcoming April 2 digital release of Glass by hosting an exclusive clip featuring scenes from the film and an interview with the film’s star James McAvoy and director M. Night Shyamalan across its various channels.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street Date 3/19/19;
Sony Pictures;
Animated;
Box Office $189.87 million;
$30.99 DVD, $38.99 Blu-ray, $45.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG’ for frenetic sequences of animated action violence, thematic elements, and mild language.
Voices of Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Lily Tomlin, Luna Lauren Velez, Zoë Kravitz, John Mulaney, Kimiko Glenn, Nicolas Cage, Kathryn Hahn, Liev Schreiber, Chris Pine.

One of the Holy Grails of adapting a comic book to film is the idea of evoking the feeling of reading a comic while watching the story play out. Filmmakers have tried different techniques over the years to achieve this, such as brighter colors or hyper-stylized action, to varying effect, with the best results often focusing on just telling the story in a way that brings the spirit of the work into a different medium.

Animation would seem to be closer to the artistic foundations of comic books, but often present challenges of their own.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is probably the closest a movie has come to finding that sweet spot between telling a comic book story while immersing the viewer in the fantastic art that is often unique to the panel-to-panel format.

Its innovative animation style, layering hand-drawn animation over CGI, combined with a thrilling story of self-discovery are just a few of the reasons Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature at the 91st Academy Awards.

The film is a deft blending of self-parody with an ambitious attempt by Sony Pictures to explore new aspects of the Spider-Man concept while the live-action version of the character is on loan to Marvel Studios.

In particular, the film is an adaptation of the Miles Morales version of the character, a mixed-race teenager who gains the powers of Spider-Man in an alternate reality in which Peter Parker is killed.

In the film, Miles (voiced by Shameik Moore), stumbles upon a plot by the villainous gangster Kingpin (Live Schreiber) to open a portal into alternate dimensions in search of replacement versions of his recently deceased wife and son. The plan goes awry when versions of Spider-Man from a variety of realities began to appear, and they team up to help Miles learn how to control his new powers and figure out how to return home before Kingpin’s machine damages the multiverse.

The alternate versions of Spider-Man really let the creative team shine with the parody aspects of the film by introducing characters in a variety of styles. There’s a late-30s Spider-Man (Jake Johnson) who has become depressed after years of being a hero has left his personal life in shambles; there’s Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld), a teenage girl version of Spidey; there’s Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage), a black-and-white private detective from the 1930s; there’s an anime version involving a little girl and her pet robot from the future; and there’s Spider-Ham (John Mulaney), essentially Porky Pig in a Spider-Man costume.

The combination of the various versions offers not only some of the best laughs ever to be had with a superhero movie, but make for a terrific tribute to what has made Spider-Man such an iconic character over the years. There’s also a post-credits sequence that really takes it up a notch in that regard.

It’s enough to thrill longtime fans of the character, particularly the Miles Morales version, while providing enough nods to the aspects of the mythology that most average viewers would already be familiar with so as not to need to be an avid comics reader to follow along.

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The Blu-ray is loaded with a ton of bonus material, including the new animated short “Spider-Ham: Caught in a Ham,” which serves as a prequel to the film in showing us a Spider-Ham adventure that was interrupted when he gets pulled into Miles’ reality.

In addition, there’s an “Alternate Universe Mode” for the movie in which some scenes are replaced with storyboards of earlier concepts, as a way for the filmmakers to ponder how the film could have turned out. It runs about 26 minutes longer than the theatrical cut (which comes in at 117 minutes) and even starts with the Spider-Ham short.

The regular version of the film includes a commentary with the filmmakers, which is a nice guide to how the various creative decisions evolved to get to the final movie, including casting decisions and the re-imagining of certain well-known characters.

Many of the topics are covered in specific featurettes as well.

The eight-minute “We Are Spider-Man” examines the key messages of the film, while the five-minute “Spider-Verse: A New Dimension” deals with the animation style and techniques for adapting the comics.

The 15-minute “The Ultimate Comics Cast” showcases the actors involved in the film and what makes them such a good fit for their characters. The two-part “Designing Cinematic Comics Characters” offers an eight-minute look at the design of the heroes, and five-minutes devoted to the creation of the villains.

“The Spider-Verse Super-Fan Easter Egg Challenge” is a five-minute video that points out some of the references hidden throughout the film, while inviting viewers to look for more.

There’s also the eight-and-a-half-minute “A Tribute to Stan Lee & Steve Ditko,” the co-creators of Spider-Man who both passed away in 2018. Stan Lee recorded one of his famous cameos for the film.

Finally, the disc includes music lyric videos for two songs, “Sunflower” and “Familia.”

There are also some digital-exclusive bonus featurettes. The three-minute “Another, Another Times Square” provides a primer on the concept of alternate realities, the minute-and-a-half “Meanwhile, in a Gassy Universe” is a juvenile montage of various clips from the film with dialogue replaced by fart sounds (no doubt the work of Spider-Ham).

Vudu has a minute-long “An All-Star Cast” promotional video, while Movies Anywhere provides videos for how to draw Miles and Gwen, about three minutes for each character.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

‘Transformers’ Spinoff ‘Bumblebee’ Due Digitally March 19, on Disc April 2 From Paramount

Paramount Home Media Entertainment will release the latest live-action “Transformers” movie, Bumblebee, through digital retailers March 19, and on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray April 2.

The film from director Travis Knight follows an earlier mission of the Autobot warrior Bumblebee, sent by Optimus Prime to protect Earth  from the Decepticons following the fall of Cybertron. Damaged in battle and unable to remember his true identity, he forges a friendship with Charlie Watson (Hailee Steinfeld), a teenager trying to find her place in the world who discovers and repairs the battle-scarred robot after finding him in 1987 disguised as a Volkswagen Beetle. Meanwhile, a military group led by Agent Burns (John Cena) makes a pact with Decepticon bounty hunters to seek out any Autobots seeking refuge.

The film earned $125.9 million at the domestic box office.

The digital and Blu-ray releases include Sector 7 Adventures: The Battle at Half Dome, a new motion comic following Bumblebee on his next adventure. The Blu-ray combo packs will include an exclusive printed version of the new motion comic for a limited time.

The motion comic is part of the “Sector 7 Archive” along with “Agent Burns: Welcome to Sector 7.”

Other Blu-ray and digital extras include deleted and extended scenes, including the original opening sequence; outtakes; a “Bee Vision” look at Generation 1-inspired Transformers characters on Cybertron; and several “Bringing Bumblebee to the Big Screen” featurettes, including “The Story of Bumblebee,” “The Stars Align,” “Bumblebee Goes Back to G1,” “Back to the Beetle” and “California Cruisin’ Down Memory Lane.”

The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and digital releases will feature Dolby Vision HDR and a Dolby Atmos soundtrack remixed specifically for home theaters.

Paramount Home Entertainment Posts 12% Quarterly Domestic Revenue Gain

Paramount Home Media Distribution Feb. 5 reported first-quarter (ended Dec. 31, 2018) revenue of $178 million, down less than 3% from revenue of $183 million during the previous-year period.

Domestic revenue increased 12% to $111 million, while international home entertainment sales declined 20% to $67 million.

The lower home entertainment revenue reflected a decrease in the sales of DVDs and Blu-ray Discs, partially offset by digital sales growth.

The studio’s top-selling home entertainment release in 2018 was Mission: Impossible – Fallout, which generated $18.7 million in combined DVD/Blu-ray Disc sales, according to The-Numbers.com.

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Theatrical revenue increased 49% to $149 million from $100 million due to the performances of Bumblebee and Instant Family compared with releases in the prior year quarter.

Bumblebee, starring Hailee Steinfeld, has grossed more than $450 million at the global box office to date, and is “solidly” profitable, according to Viacom.

Domestic box office revenue increased 44% to $89 million, while international revenue grew 58% to $60 million.

License revenue from television production increased 84% due to the first quarter release of Netflix’s “The Haunting of Hill House,” and season three of “Berlin Station” on Epix, among other titles.

Last November, Paramount entered into an agreement with Netflix to produce original films for the streaming service.

Overall license revenue increased 3% to $220 million from $213 million last year.

“Paramount delivered double-digit topline growth and an eighth straight quarter of improved year-over-year adjusted operating results, driven by worldwide theatrical gains, continued momentum at Paramount Television and international theme park revenue,” Viacom CEO Bob Bakish said in a statement.

China’s Tencent Partnering With Paramount on ‘Bumblebee’ and ‘Top Gun’ Theatrical Releases

Tencent, the Chinese multinational entertainment conglomerate, Dec. 5 announced a partnership and co-financing deal with Paramount Pictures for the studio’s upcoming Bumblebee theatrical release, in addition to next year’s Top Gun sequel featuring Tom Cruise.

Tencent, which operates numerous entertainment ventures in China, including Netflix knockoff Tencent Video, separately filed a $1.4 billion IPO for its Tencent Music branded streaming service.

As an investor and co-marketing partner, Tencent Pictures will assist with the marketing and promotions of Bumblebee in mainland China. Hasbro, creator and owner of the Transformers brand on which the film franchise is based, is also a co-financier on Bumblebee.

Starring Hailee Steinfeld (Pitch Perfect 3The Edge of Seventeen), John Cena (Blockers, Trainwreck), and Jorge Lendeborg Jr. (Love, Simon, Spiderman: Homecoming)Bumblebee is an Autobot character set in 1987 as a prequel to the Transformers franchise.

Bumblebee represents Tencent’s first international project after Warner Bros.’ Venom and its first collaboration with Paramount. Other Hollywood domestic collaborations include Warcraft, Kong: Skull IslandWonder Woman, La La Land and Ready Player One.

“Tencent’s involvement in many high-profile international projects has demonstrated its strong capacity in marketing campaigns in China,” Jim Gianopulos, CEO, Paramount Pictures, said in a statement.

 

Hasbro Movie, TV Streaming Deals Soften Toys R Us Revenue Loss

Entertainment licensing of TV shows and movies proved a fiscal lifeline for venerable toy maker Hasbro.

The company Oct. 22 reported third-quarter (ended Sept. 30) net income of nearly $264 million, about equal to net income of $265.5 million during the previous-year period. Revenue fell 12% to $1.56 billion from $1.79 billion last year.

Revenue loss was in large part due to lingering effects of the shuttering of major retailer Toys R Us, ongoing changes in consumer shopping behaviors and foreign exchange — the latter having a negative impact of $32 million, or 2% of Q3 revenue.

Hasbro managed to offset the declines in part to the entertainment and licensing segment, which saw revenue increase 45% to $84.8 million compared to $58.4 million in 2017. Operating profit increased 99% to $33.7 million, or 39.7% of net revenue, compared to $16.9 million, or 28.9% of net revenue, in 2017.

Segment revenue benefited from a multiyear digital streaming deal for Hasbro television programming and revenue from the 2017 My Little Pony: The Movie.

In addition, the adoption of new accounting rules concerning revenue from contracts favorably impacted the timing of revenue recognition in the quarter. Higher revenue and a favorable mix, coupled with cost reductions, drove higher operating profit and operating profit margin in the quarter.

Brand revenue decreased 5% to $847.7 million, due in part to My Little Pony and Transformers: The Last Knight theatrical releases occurring in 2017.

Last November, Paramount Pictures and Hasbro updated a pact to produce and distribute content based on Hasbro brands, as well as original stories. The companies have partnered on five “Transformers” movies to date, as well as two “G.I. Joe” films, and the first “Transformers” spinoff, Bumblebee, slated for theatrical release on Dec. 21.

The movie co-stars Oscar-nominee Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) and John Cena (Blockers), and is directed by Travis Knight.

“Global retailers have ambitious programs this holiday season … including programs behind our feature film, Bumblebee,” CEO Brian Goldner said in a statement.

“Hasbro remains in a strong financial position, including good operating profit margins, $907 million in cash and quality inventory to support our business this holiday season,” added CFO Deborah Thomas. “As we manage through a very disruptive environment, the strength of our brands and our business allows us to continue to invest to drive profitable growth in future years.”