‘Birds of Prey’ Flies to Top of Disc Sales Charts

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment’s Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn debuted at No. 1 on the NPD VideoScan First Alert chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales, and the dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart the week ended May 16.

The latest movie based on DC Comics characters features Margot Robbie reprising her role as Harley Quinn from 2016’s Suicide Squad, and earned $84.2 million during a domestic theatrical run that was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.

No. 2 on both charts was another new disc release, the latest adaptation of Jack London’s The Call of the Wild. The film, which stars Harrison Ford and a CG-animated dog, earned $62.3 million at U.S. theaters.

The previous week’s top seller, Sony Pictures’ Bloodshot, slipped to no. 3 on both charts.

The faith-based I Still Believe, from Lionsgate, was No. 4 on the overall disc chart and No. 6 on the Blu-ray chart.

Sony Pictures’ Bad Boys for Life, in its fourth week, was No. 5 on both charts.

The No. 4 Blu-ray seller was Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which was No. 6 on the overall sales chart in its seventh week on shelves.

Another newcomer, Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island, was No. 7 on both charts after a $26.4 million run in U.S. theaters. The film is a horror-fueled adaptation of the classic TV series.

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Blu-ray Disc formats accounted for 64% of first-week Birds of Prey sales, compared with 57% for Call of the Wild and 46% for Fantasy Island. The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray version comprised 17% of Birds of Prey‘s total, and 7% of Call of the Wild.

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Birds of Prey also debuted at No. 1 on the Media Play News rental chart for the week ended May 17. The previous week’s top rental, Bloodshot, dropped to No. 2.

Fantasy Island debuted as the No. 3 rental, followed by Call of the Wild at No. 4, and Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog, an early disc release at Redbox, and No. 5.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 5-16-20
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 5-17-20
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 5-16-20
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 5-16-20
Sales Report for Week Ended 5-16-20
Digital Sales Snapshot for Week Ended 5-18-20

Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 5/12/20;
Warner;
Action;
Box Office $84.16 million;
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $44.95 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for strong violence and language throughout, and some sexual and drug material.
Stars Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, Ella Jay Basco, Chris Messina, Ewan McGregor.

The most significant aspect of the 2016 Suicide Squad movie was undoubtedly the popularity boost it gave to the character of Harley Quinn, as played by Margot Robbie. While she had always been a fan favorite, the film made her a pop culture sensation, as Harley Quinn cosplay dominated the comic book convention circuit more than ever before, and there was little doubt the character would be popping up in her own movie soon enough.

Those plans hit a bit of a snag, however, as the creative direction of the DC Comics shared movie universe began to unravel a bit following the disappointment of 2017’s Justice League. Subsequent projects would put more focus on the individual films while de-emphasizing the potential for interconnected stories.

And with that, Harley Quinn would end up fronting a loose adaptation of the “Birds of Prey” comic book that shined a spotlight on some of the female heroes of Gotham City. Being the girlfriend of the Joker, Harley was usually cast as an antagonist, but her popularity spurt resulted in her being positioned as more of an anti-hero.

As such, the film finds Harley (Robbie) having just broken up with the Joker, a change in relationship status that makes her an open target for every criminal in Gotham City with a bone to pick with her. In her efforts to establish herself as an underworld authority in her own right, and find a quiet moment to enjoy an egg sandwich, Harley finds herself protecting a teenage pickpocket (Ella Jay Basco) who stole a jewel encoded with the account numbers of a vast mafia fortune, attracting the attention of a mob boss nicknamed Black Mask (Ewan McGregor).

Along the way, and with nary a mention of Batman, Harley tussles with a hotshot cop (Rosie Perez) who treats her job like an ’80s action movie; the Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), a lounge singer with sonic powers; and Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a crossbow-wielding vigilante who seeks vengeance on the crime lords who killed her family.

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Described by one of the visual effects supervisors in the bonus materials as Pulp Fiction meets Clockwork Orange, the film seems trying to set itself up as something of a girl power version of Deadpool, intersplicing some decent action scenes with broad comedy in service of several story threads connected by narration from Harley that jumps back and forth through time. Also like Deadpool, the film tries to play in the ‘R’-rated playground, but the attempt seems more like an excuse for excess rather than anything intrinsically necessary for the characters, story or humor.

Unfortunately, in an effort to be quirky, the film was saddled with the mouthful of a title Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn, which when shortened to the obvious Birds of Prey doesn’t speak much to Harley’s involvement in it. So, after the film’s initial disappointment at the box office (also not helped by limiting the audience with its ‘R’ rating), the studio tried to re-christen it Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey for marketing purposes (a move further made understandable by the fact that they couldn’t get the full name right in their own press release for the home video). They probably just should have called it Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey to begin with.

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With the coronavirus pandemic cutting the film’s box office run short, it made an early debut through digital retailers, which offered a variety of bonus features that also made their way to the Blu-ray edition.

The primary extra is the Birds Eye View Mode, a viewing option that plays the film with a mix of filmmaker commentary, pop-up trivia and picture-in-picture behind-the-scenes footage.

More behind-the-scenes details are offered in six featurettes that run a total of 42 minutes, with some repetition of material between them and with the viewing mode. Most of the emphasis is on the physical look of the film, such as the production design and the costumes. There’s also a significant amount of time devoted to the style of the characters and finding the right actors to play them. One of the more unintentionally funny clips involves Winstead heaping praise upon the talents of McGregor — who reportedly left his wife for her while they were co-starring on the “Fargo” TV show just before signing on for this movie.

Finally, there’s a two-minute gag reel that, while amusing, is hard pressed to make an impact given all the silliness that ended up in the movie.

First Season of ‘Harley Quinn’ Due on DVD June 2

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release Harley Quinn: The Complete First Season on DVD June 2.

The DVD will include all 13 episodes from the first season of the animated series that debuted on the DC Universe streaming service. The show is currently in its second season on DC Universe.

Based on the character from Batman’s rogues gallery, the show stars Kaley Cuoco (“The Big Bang Theory) as the voice of Harley Quinn, who has broken up with the Joker and vows to become the Queenpin of Gotham City with the help of her fellow villain Poison Ivy (Lake Bell) and a crew of minor criminal characters. Her ultimate goal is a seat at the biggest table in villainy — the Legion of the Doom.

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The voice cast also includes Jason Alexander as Sy Borgman, Tony Hale as Doctor Psycho and Felix Faust, J.B. Smoove as Frank the Plant, Alan Tudyk as Joker, Ron Funches as King Shark, Wanda Sykes as Queen of Fables, Christopher Meloni as Commissioner Gordon, Jacob Tremblay as Robin, and Diedrich Bader as Batman.

Bader previously voiced the Caped Crusader on “Batman: The Brave and the Bold.”

‘Birds of Prey’ on Disc May 12

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD May 12.

Margot Robbie reprises her role from Suicide Squad as Harley Quinn, the Joker’s former girlfriend who sets off on her own and finds the entire criminal underground of Gotham City is out to get her. She ends up protecting a girl named Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco) from the gangster Black Mask (Ewan McGregor). The cast also includes Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Huntress, Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Black Canary, Rosie Perez as Renee Montoya, and Chris Messina as Victor Zsasz.

The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc of Birds of Prey will feature Dolby Vision HDR and HDR10+. The 4K and Blu-ray discs will also include a Dolby Atmos soundtrack.

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Bonus materials include a “Birds Eye View Mode” with pop-up facts and video while the movie plays, a gag reel, and the featurettes “Birds of Prey: Birds of a Feather,” “Grime and Crime,” “Wild Nerds,” “Romanesque,” “Sanity is Sooo Last Season” and “A Love/Skate Relationship.”

The film was released early through digital retailers March 24.

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‘Stranger Things’ Remains Atop Parrot’s Originals Chart Through Feb. 22

Netflix’s “Stranger Things” remained No. 1 on Parrot Analytics’ digital originals rankings the week ended Feb. 22.

A “digital original” is Parrot’s term for a multi-episode series in which the most recent season was first made available on a streaming platform such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu or Disney+.

Still fueled by the hype for the upcoming fourth season after a Feb. 14 trailer, “Stranger Things” registered 87.4 million average daily Demand Expressions, the proprietary metric used by Parrot Analytics to measure global demand for TV content. That was up 16.3% compared with the previous week.

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In fact, the top three remained unchanged from the previous week, and the top 10 originals remained the same as well, albeit in a different order.

The Disney+ series “The Mandalorian” stayed at No. 2 for a second week. It had 65.7 million expressions, down 8% from the previous week.

The DC Universe animated series “Harley Quinn” held onto the No. 3 spot, with expressions down 2.8% to 58.6 million. While the Birds of Prey movie featuring a live-action version of Harley Quinn has been underperforming in theaters, the season finale of the show’s first season became available Feb. 21.

Parrot listed the Netflix series “Narcos” as No. 4 on its originals chart, moving up from No. 8 the previous week, with expressions up 51.6% to 56.4 million. All 10 episodes of the second season of spinoff “Narcos: Mexico” became available Feb. 13. Parrot tracks “Narcos” and “Narcos: Mexico” as a single series (the first season of “Narcos: Mexico” was rebranded from the intended fourth season of the original show).

Netflix’s “The Witcher” slipped to No. 5, with 55.6 million expressions, down 5.7% from the previous week.

The animated series “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” rose three spots to No. 6, up 46.2% in expressions to 53.1 million. The first episode of the show’s seventh season, the first season presented as a Disney+ original since the streamer revived the series, debuted Feb. 21.

The CBS All Access series “Star Trek: Picard” slipped one spot to No. 7, though its expressions rose 11.1% to 49.1 million.

Rounding out the top 10, DC Universe’s “Titans” slipped three spots to No. 3, Netflix’s “Bojack Horseman” rose a spot to No. 9, and Netflix’s “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” dropped three spots to No. 10.

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The Demand Expressions metric draws from a wide variety of data sources, including video streaming, social media activity, photo sharing, blogging, commenting on fan and critic rating platforms, and downloading and streaming via peer-to-peer protocols and file sharing sites.

Media Play News has teamed with Parrot Analytics to provide readers with a weekly top 10 of the most popular digital original TV series in the United States, based on the firm’s  proprietary metric called Demand Expressions, which measures global demand for TV content through a wide variety of data sources, including video streaming, social media activity, photo sharing, blogging, commenting on fan and critic rating platforms, and downloading and streaming via peer-to-peer protocols and file sharing sites.

‘The Witcher’ Switches Spots With ‘Mandalorian’ on Parrot’s TV Demand Charts

Netflix’s “The Witcher” returned to the No. 1 spot on not only Parrot Analytics’ digital originals rankings the week ended Jan. 11, but also the data firm’s overall list of TV series from any platform, including broadcast and cable, again pushing the Disney+ “Star Wars” spinoff “The Mandalorian” to No. 2.

A “digital original” is a multi-episode series in which the most recent season was first made available on a streaming platform such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu or Disney+.

“Mandalorian” was No. 1 most of the last couple of months of 2019 before “The Witcher” took over the last week of the year. “The Mandalorian” took the top spot back the first week of 2020.

For the week, “The Witcher” registered 118.4 million average daily Demand Expressions, the proprietary metric used by Parrot Analytics to measure global demand for TV content. That was down 10.5% in expressions compared with the previous week, when it was No. 2.

“The Mandalorian” was close behind, with 115.8 million expressions, down 18.5% from the previous week.

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Netflix’s psychological thriller “You” stayed at No. 3 on the digital originals chart, with expressions down 10.9% to 83.2 million.

Netflix’s “Stranger Things” stayed No. 4, registering 73.6 million expressions, down 6.8% from the previous week.

DC Universe’s “Titans” held onto the No. 5 spot on the digital originals chart, with expressions up 3.5% to 56 million.

DC Universe’s “Harley Quinn” animated series made a big move on the originals chart to No. 9, from No. 13 the previous week. Expressions rose 2.6% to 29.99 million. The season finale is due Jan. 17.

Netflix’s “Narcos” jumped to No. 10, from No. 14 the previous week, with expressions up 3.9% to 29.96 million. A new season of “Narcos: Mexico” debuts Feb. 13.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The Demand Expressions metric draws from a wide variety of data sources, including video streaming, social media activity, photo sharing, blogging, commenting on fan and critic rating platforms, and downloading and streaming via peer-to-peer protocols and file sharing sites.

Media Play News has teamed with Parrot Analytics to provide readers with a weekly top 10 of the most popular digital original TV series in the United States, based on the firm’s  proprietary metric called Demand Expressions, which measures global demand for TV content through a wide variety of data sources, including video streaming, social media activity, photo sharing, blogging, commenting on fan and critic rating platforms, and downloading and streaming via peer-to-peer protocols and file sharing sites.

Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street 4/10/18;
Warner;
Animated Action;
$19.98 DVD, $24.98 Blu-ray, $39.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for strong bloody violence throughout, sexual content, brief graphic nudity, and some drug material.
Voices of Christian Slater, Billy Brown, Liam McIntyre, Kristin Bauer van Straten, Gideon Emery, Tara Strong, Vanessa Williams, C. Thomas Howell, Dania Ramirez, James Urbaniak, Julie Nathanson, Jim Pirri, Greg Grunberg.

This ain’t the “Super Friends.”

There have been ‘R’-rated movies from the DC Universe brand before, but Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay pushes the limits of its rating more than those previous installments, and not just by increasing the level of violence. The film also has a lot of fun turning the dial up on sexual material and nudity in a way viewers might not have expected from a comic book movie.

Then again, this is a “Suicide Squad” movie, and that’s probably going to bring a harder edge by default. As comic book fans would have known even before the live-action movie version came out in 2016, the Suicide Squad is a team of supervillains assembled by a shady government operative named Amanda Waller to undertake dangerous missions for which they can take the blame if anything goes wrong. And they follow orders because Waller installs explosives in their head that she can detonate if they betray her.

For this mission, Waller wants the team to retrieve a mystical artifact that can guarantee the soul of whomever is holding it will go straight to heaven. But it will only work once, which makes for some great plot dynamics since anyone who wants it can’t get it from someone who has it by killing them.

Waller’s not the only one seeking the “Get Out of Hell Free” card, providing plenty of opportunities for action as several teams of bad guys confront each other to take control of it. The plot also allows for a nice connection to the previous DC movie Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, which paved the way for this string of 10 movies that share a continuity.

The lineup includes a few characters familiar to those who have seen the live-action version, including the assassin Deadshot (excellently voiced by Christian Slater), the snarky Captain Boomerang (Liam McIntyre) and, of course, Harley Quinn (Tara Strong), whose primary contribution to the team seems to be her immense popularity.

This is a much more satisfying treatment of the material than the live-action attempt. The ‘R’ rating has lifted the constraints from the creative team, and everyone seems to be having a lot of fun pushing the material as far as they can. And with bad guys versus bad guys, there’s a lot of ways to push, and no reason to expect that any of them can’t be killed off at any time (except for Harley, maybe).

And that brings us to the commentary track by producer James Tucker and writer Alan Burnett, who wrote the script as one of his last projects before retiring. They can’t help but talk about Burnett’s long career in superhero animation, dating all the way back to the squeaky clean “Super Friends” cartoons of the 1970s and ’80s. So it’s only natural that they would joke about how any 10 seconds of this movie would make the network standards-and-practices suits responsible for “Super Friends” blush.

Comic book fans will enjoy seeing appearances from some of the more obscure characters in the canon, including Tobias Whale, who can also currently be seen in live-action as one of the main villains on the new “Black Lightning” TV series. And another member of the team is Killer Frost (Kristin Bauer van Straten), a version of whom is part one of the heroes on the current “The Flash” TV show. Frost was also part of the team in another great Suicide Squad adventure, the 2014 standalone animated movie Batman: Assault on Arkham, the success of which supposedly helped get approval to make the live-action movie.

The Blu-ray also includes short featurettes about the histories of the Deadshot and Boomerang characters, as well as a 10-minute pontification about the power of the “MacGuffin” — a good plot device to set the story in motion.

Finally, the Blu-ray offers a sneak preview of the next DC Universe movie, The Death of Superman, which will be the first of two films to adapt the legendary comic book storyline that was the basis (in a much abridged form) for the first DC Universe animated movie, Superman: Doomseday, back in 2007.