DEG: Streaming Again Triggers Surge in Consumer Home Entertainment Spending While Catalog Keeps TVOD Afloat

U.S. consumers spent an estimated $15.7 billion to watch movies, TV shows and other filmed content on home and mobile platforms in the first six months of 2021, DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group reported Aug. 10.

The trade group reported the total spend was up 5.2% from the first half of 2020, when consumer spending on home entertainment was pegged at $14.9 billion.

The big winner, as expected, was subscription streaming, which posted a 21.4% gain to an estimated $12.2 billion.

The transactional segment, which includes a la carte disc and digital purchases and rentals, was down a whopping 28.7% to an estimated $3.4 billion, from $4.8 billion in the first six months of 2020.

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This reflects the pronounced lack of new product available to buy or rent in the first half of this year, when uncertainty about COVID-19 prompted the studios to hold back releases until they had more clarity. New theatrical releases, the DEG stated, have “historically [been] a key driver of home entertainment spending.” In January, virus cases were surging to record highs. Then came the vaccine and a swift drop-off in new cases, resulting in a gradual reopening of theaters. Movie houses in Los Angeles, the center of the film industry, didn’t begin to reopen until March.

Another key reason for the sharp decline in consumer transactional spending reported by the DEG is that the trade group does not track revenue generated from a premium rental or sales window that studios adopted in lieu of a theatrical release, even though this, too, is money spent on home entertainment consumption.

In a DEG presentation Universal Pictures Home Entertainment president Michael Bonner estimated “there’s a billion dollars in consumer spending that is not captured” in the trade group’s numbers.

“And those numbers are not insignificant,” he said. “We’ve seen tremendous engagement from consumers in that product that’s made available in early windows.”

Given the lack of theatrical new releases, spending on library titles “is notably strong,” the DEG stated. Over the past two years, digital catalog sales have grown at an annualized rate of 17%, a record high.

Popular catalog titles in the period included the eight “Fast & Furious” films and “The Office” TV series from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, Warner’s “Game of Thrones” and Harry Potter Complete 8-Film Collection DVD and Blu-ray Disc collections, Lionsgate’s John Wick Triple Feature disc set, and Paramount Home Entertainment’s A Quiet Place and “Yellowstone” sets.

The DEG noted that the 5% increase in U.S. home entertainment spending in the first half of 2021 came amid a nearly 88% drop in box-office performance for the films released in the period, due to prolonged movie theater closures due to the pandemic.

Looking at the DEG’s defined home entertainment market that excludes PVOD revenue, subscription streaming’s share of total home entertainment revenue rose to 78% by the end of June 2021, up from a 67.6% market share a year ago.

That means that the disc market (sales and rentals) fell to 8.8% of the home entertainment picture in the first half of 2021, down from 12.4% a year ago, while transactional VOD (digital sales and rentals) was down to 13.2%, from 20% a year ago.

Disc sales on their own were down to 6% in the first half of 2021, down from 8.6% a year ago.

Among just transactional home entertainment sources, disc sales and rentals comprised 40%, up about 1.73% from a year ago, with TVOD comprising 60%.

‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’ With ‘Magical Movie Mode’ to Bow on Disc and Digital Aug. 17

The 2001 family film Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone will be released on digital, Blu-ray and DVD Aug. 17 with “Magical Movie Mode,” a new way to experience the film, from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment for its 20th anniversary.

The “Harry Potter Magical Movie Mode” allows fans the ability to discover filmmaking secrets, spell incantations, creatures, magical artifacts, trivia, and more in a collection of activities and curiosities.  “Magical Movie Mode” includes director’s commentary from director Chris Columbus offering candid insight and amusing anecdotes from the production of the first film, deleted scenes, quizzes testing knowledge of a vast array of topics from the film, graphics, and audio during select scenes in the film.

In the first film in the franchise, Harry Potter finds out he is the orphaned son of two wizards and embarks on an amazing journey. During his first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry learns he is destined for great things and discovers a dark wizard is determined to destroy him.

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The two-disc Blu-ray set of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone — Magical Movie Mode will be available at $19.98 and includes the theatrical film and the “Magical Movie Mode” version of the film in high-definition. It will also be available on DVD as a two-disc set at $16.98 and includes the theatrical film and “Magical Movie Mode” version of the film in standard-definition.  The film will also be available digitally on participating digital platforms where you purchase movies.

HBO Max, Cartoon Network and TBS to Premiere Unscripted ‘Harry Potter’ Specials

WarnerMedia Kids & Family will celebrate the 20th anniversary later this year of the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone film with two new unscripted Wizarding World specials — a limited Harry Potter fan quiz competition series and a dedicated retrospective special — to premiere on HBO Max, Cartoon Network and TBS in the United States.

The unscripted game show and retrospective will help to find some of the biggest self-proclaimed fans to celebrate and test their Wizarding World knowledge. Produced by Warner Bros. Unscripted Television in association with Warner Horizon, the limited series will include four one-hour quiz challenges followed by the film retrospective.

Casting is now underway in the United States. Fans can visit wizardingworld.com to learn more about the show.

Viewers will also be able to take advantage of a play-along component.

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“To celebrate the dedicated fans old and new who have passionately kept the Wizarding World magic alive in so many forms for decades, these exciting specials will celebrate their Harry Potter fandom in a must-see multiplatform TV event,” said Tom Ascheim, president of Warner Bros. global kids, young adults and classics.

Holiday and Catalog Fare Continues to Dominate ‘Watched at Home’ Chart, Led by ‘Harry Potter’

The Harry Potter Complete 8-Film Collection climbed to No. 1 on the weekly “Watched at Home” chart for the week ended Nov. 14, a period dominated by catalog titles and winter favorites.

The “Harry Potter” set, from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, had been No. 6 the previous week on the weekly “Watched at Home” chart, which tracks transactional video activity (both digital and on DVD and Blu-ray Disc) compiled from studio and retailer data through DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.

A mishmash of movies and TV content, the list does not account for disc rentals or premium VOD movies.

Romantic drama After We Collided, from Open Road Films, dropped to No. 2 after three weeks in the top spot.

Holding steady at No. 3 was Lionsgate’s Antebellum in its second week, while political documentary Trump Card, from conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza, remained No. 4.

Rounding out the top five was the first season of Paramount Networks’ “Yellowstone,” a contemporary Western drama starring Kevin Costner that is centered on the conflicts between a cattle ranch, an Indian reservation and land developers, all of whom share common borders. Season two was No. 8 and season three was No. 12.

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Among the winter-themed, holiday and seasonal catalog fare on the list are Disney-owned 20th Century’s Home Alone at No. 6, Warner’s Elf at No. 11, Disney’s Frozen II at No. 13, Warner’s National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation at No. 19, and Warner’s The Polar Express at No. 20.

Warner’s “Game of Thrones” complete series collection, recently released as a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray boxed set, dropped from No. 2 to No. 18. Meanwhile, Universal’s The Office: The Complete Series, which was re-released as a Blu-ray set Nov. 10, was on the chart at No. 16.

Interestingly, neither of the major new DVD and Blu-ray Disc movie releases for the week — Disney’s like-action Mulan remake and Warner’s disc of MGM’s BIll & Ted Face the Music — made the DEG’s top 20. Mulan was the top-selling disc during the same time period, according to the NPD Group’s VideoScan tracking service.

  1. Harry Potter Complete 8-Film Collection (Warner)
  2. After We Collided (Open Road)
  3. Antebellum (Lionsgate)
  4. Trump Card (D’Souza Media)
  5. Yellowstone: Season 1 (Paramount)
  6. Home Alone (20th Century)
  7. Jumanji: The Next Level (Sony Pictures)
  8. Yellowstone: Season 2 (Paramount)
  9. Paw Patrol (Paramount/Nickelodeon)
  10. Trolls World Tour (Universal)
  11. Elf (Warner)
  12. Yellowstone: Season 3 (Paramount)
  13. Frozen II (Disney)
  14. Sonic the Hedgehog (Paramount)
  15. Ava (Vertical)
  16. The Office: The Complete Series (Universal)
  17. My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising (Funimation)
  18. Game of Thrones: The Complete Collection (Warner)
  19. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (Warner)
  20. The Polar Express (Warner)

 

Source: DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group
Includes U.S. digital sales, digital rentals, and DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD sales for the week ended Nov. 14.

 

‘Harry Potter’ Collection Leads U.S. Disc Sales

With the coronavirus pandemic having the duel effect of both limiting the depth of new home video releases and leading to fewer disc sales in general, TV DVD and catalog content have had a much easier time of late reaching the top spots on the national sales charts. The week ended Oct. 17 saw a “Harry Potter” boxed set take a turn in the top spot.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment’s Harry Potter Complete 8-Film Collection, first released in 2011, was No. 1 on the NPD VideoScan First Alert chart, which tracks combined Blu-ray Disc and DVD unit sales in the United States, and the dedicated Blu-ray Disc chart. It had been No. 24 overall a week earlier.

In fact, almost the entire top 20 overall disc sales chart consisted of catalog and TV content, and the two new releases that did find a spot on it were reworkings of previously released material.

The No. 2 overall disc seller, and No. 4 on the Blu-ray chart, was Disney’s Hocus Pocus, the perennial Halloween-season seller that had topped the charts the previous two weeks.

Another Disney Halloween favorite, the 1993 animated movie The Nightmare Before Christmas, came in at No. 3 overall and No. 8 on the Blu-ray chart.

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The week’s top debut was Shout! Factory’s new deluxe-edition boxed set of the 12 “Friday the 13th” movies, featuring new bonus materials and restorations of some of the films. It came in at No. 4 overall and No. 3 on the Blu-ray chart. A boxed set of all the films was previously released in 2013 by Warner (which controls the most-recent four films in the franchise that were made by New Line Cinema; Paramount made the first seven).

The No. 5 overall disc seller was Universal’s The Office: The Complete Series, a DVD set that has been re-released several times since 2014.

The No. 2 Blu-ray Disc seller, and No. 7 overall, was another newcomer, Warner’s Batman: Death in the Family, a collection of DC Showcase animated shorts. The centerpiece of the new disc, Batman: Death in the Family, is an interactive feature that allows viewers to choose whether Robin is killed by the Joker, and to see which different paths the story could take after that. In many respects, however, the short is a reworking of the 2010 movie Batman: Under the Red Hood, with some new footage to provide a prequel to the movie and some alternate story possibilities.

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On the Media Play News rental chart for the week ended Oct. 18, Lionsgate’s The Doorman, an actioner with Ruby Rose, debuted at No. 1 (for perspective, it was No. 55 its first week on the sales chart).

The Redbox-exclusive disc of Ava, which had been the top rental the previous two weeks, dropped back to No. 2, where it debuted a month earlier.

RLJE Films’ The Tax Collector was No. 3, followed by two titles from Lionsgate: The Silencing at No. 4 and The Secret: Dare to Dream.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 10-17-20
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 10-18-20
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 10-17-20
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 10-17-20
Sales Report for Week Ended 10-17-20
Digital Sales Snapshot for Week Ended 10-19-20

Warner Bros. Responds to J.K. Rowling Controversy

Warner Bros. late June 10 issued a statement pertaining to comments “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling made last weekend about transgender identity. In a series of posts on social media, Rowling said women should be identified by their biological sex rather than gender identity.

“If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction,” Rowling wrote on her website. “If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn’t hate to speak the truth.”

Rowling’s comments produced pushback on social media from the LGBTQ community and supporters claiming the author was advocating against her own message of inclusivity and empathy found in many “Harry Potter” books.

“Potter” stars Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe, in addition to “Fantastic Beasts” star Eddie Redmayne took to social media in support of the transgender community.

“Transgender women are women,” Radcliffe wrote on a post. “Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations who have far more expertise on this subject matter …”

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Warner said the events in the past several weeks affirmed its resolve as a company to confront difficult societal issues — including fostering a diverse and inclusive culture.

“We deeply value the work of our storytellers who give so much of themselves in sharing their creations with us all,” the studio said in a statement. “We recognize our responsibility to foster empathy and advocate understanding of all communities and all people, particularly those we work with and those we reach through our content.”

For Warner, the controversy comes as Rowling is writing the script for Fantastic Beasts 3 and other projects near and dear to the studio’s bottom line. The “Potter” movie franchise has resulted in more than $6.5 billion at the global box office, in addition to millions more in home entertainment sales.

‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ Tops ‘Watched at Home’ Chart for Third Week

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the final installment in Disney’s “Star Wars” sequel trilogy, was No. 1 for the third consecutive week on the “Watched at Home” chart the week ended April 18.

The film’s run at the top of the weekly chart, which tracks transactional video activity compiled from studio and retailer data through DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, has been extended by the lack of any high-profile theatrical releases coming into the home video pipeline, due to the closure of movie theaters more than a month ago as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic’s stay-at-home orders.

The Rise of Skywalker vaunted into the top spot on the chart — which measures disc sales, digital purchase (electronic sellthrough, or EST) and digital rental — three weeks ago in the wake of its release on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD.

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Sony Pictures’ Bad Boys for Life shot up to No. 2 from No. 4 on the “Watched at Home” chart, its popularity perhaps fanned by marketing in support of the film’s April 21 debut on disc. The third “Bad Boys” film was released digitally on March 31 due to the pandemic but had already grossed more than $200 million in North American theaters, making it the top box office earner in the franchise.

Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog slipped to No. 3  on the “Watched at Home” chart after two weeks in the second spot. The film, based on the iconic video game character, was another early digital release (March 31) and is scheduled to come out on Blu-ray Disc and DVD on May 21.

Universal Pictures’ Dolittle, a fantasy comedy adventure film about a veterinarian (played by Robert Downey Jr.) who can communicate with animals, slipped to No. 4 from No. 3, while Sony Pictures’  Jumanji: The Next Level remained at No. 5 for the second week.

Fox’s Underwater and Warner’s Just Mercy both debuted in the top 20 for the first time after they were released on Blu-ray Disc and DVD.

Underwater, which bowed at No. 13 on the “Watched at Home” chart, is a science-fiction horror film, starring Kristen Stewart, that grossed just over $40 million at the domestic box office.

Just Mercy, which entered the chart at No. 15, is a legal drama starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx with a $50 million North American theatrical take.

Stay-at-home orders also appear to be making people rediscover older movies, as evidenced by the “Watched at Home” chart debut, at No. 20, of Harry Potter: The Complete 8-Film Collection, from Warner. The boxed set also is No. 1 on Amazon’s “Kids & Family” best sellers.

  1. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (Disney)
  2. Bad Boys for Life (Sony)
  3. Sonic the Hedgehog (Paramount)
  4. Dolittle (Universal)
  5. Jumanji: The Next Level (Sony)
  6. The Call of the Wild (Disney, 2020)
  7. The Gentlemen (STX/Universal, 2019)
  8. Birds of Prey (Warner)
  9. 1917 (Universal)
  10. Little Women (Sony, 2019)
  11. Bloodshot (Sony, 2020)
  12. The Way Back (Warner)
  13. Underwater (Fox)
  14. Knives Out (Lionsgate)
  15. Just Mercy (Warner)
  16. Ford v Ferrari (Fox)
  17. Spies in Disguise (Fox)
  18. Onward (Disney)
  19. Frozen II (Disney)
  20. Harry Potter: The Complete 8-Film Collection (Warner)

 

Source: DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group
Includes U.S. digital sales, digital rentals, and DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD sales for the week ended April 18

Warner Bros. To Open First-Ever ‘Harry Potter’ Flagship Store in New York

Warner Bros. says it will open the first official “Harry Potter” flagship store later this year in the heart of New York City next to the Flatiron building at 935 Broadway.

The retail store will house the largest collection of “Harry Potter” and “Fantastic Beasts” products in the world under one roof with everything from personalized robes, DVDs and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, to a brand-new range of house wands with a design exclusive to the New York location.

Spanning three floors and over 20,000 sq. ft., the space will provide fans of the J.K. Rowling novels and franchise movies with a number of exciting retail experiences that evoke the magic of the Wizarding World.

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“This will be the largest dedicated Harry Potter store in the world and will become a must-visit fan destination where Harry Potter enthusiasts can engage with interactive experiences and numerous photo opportunities as they step into the magic,” Sarah Roots, SVP of worldwide tours and retail at Warner Bros., said in a statement. “We are very excited to be opening in New York. It’s the ideal city in which to launch with so many dedicated Wizarding World fans, a cutting-edge retail environment and a community that embraces innovative experiences.”

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Sony Seeking Fiscal Partner for Crackle

Sony Pictures Entertainment reportedly is looking for a fiscal partner to help expand Crackle.com, the ad-supported streaming video service it acquired in 2006 for $65 million.

In an employee email first reported by Deadline, Mike Hopkins, former CEO of Hulu and now chairman of Sony Pictures Television, said that the right minority partner could help “drive scale and position [Crackle] to be more competitive.”

“Crackle is a tremendously valuable asset for us, and with premium [ad-supported VOD] getting more and more traction as advertisers seek high value online advertising opportunities, we feel there is room for greater growth for our OTT business,” Hopkins wrote. “With the right partner – one that could bring additional content or users or leverage existing assets for advertising and promotion – we feel we can expand Crackle’s audience and significantly increase revenue.”

The streaming platform is recent years has moved into original programming to better compete against Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and Roku’s ad-supported channel, among others.

Original forays included “The Art of More,” and “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” featuring Jerry Seinfeld playing hooky with various celebrities, including then-President Barack Obama. The series has since been acquired by Netflix.

Crackle just announced it will begin streaming the second season of original series, “Snatch,” starring Harry Potter’s Rupert Grint, who is also an executive producer of the 10-episode drama.