Warner’s ‘Tenet’ Generates $53 Million International Weekend Box Office

Hollywood got its first sense of normalcy at the box office after Warner Bros.’ espionage thriller Tenet, from director Christopher Nolan, generated more than $53 million Aug. 26 to 30 at the international box office. The film opens in the U.S. and China next weekend.

The much-hyped (and delayed) movie has been pegged by exhibitors and studios as a key barometer whether consumers return to the movies in the COVID-19 era. Tenet is the strongest international opening weekend (in 41 markets, including Canada) for a Nolan movie, which includes The Dark Knight.

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Tenet, which stars John David Washington and Robert Pattinson, among others, opened biggest in the United Kingdom with $7.1 million in ticket sales, followed by France ($6.7 million), Korea ($5.1 million) and Germany ($4.2 million).

With Nolan a fan of 70mm films (and 4K UHD Blu-ray), Tenet performed well at Imax screens, generating more than $5 million in revenue.

“People have been very anxious to get back to the movies,” Megan Colligan, president of Imax Entertainment, told Variety. “These results speak to that.”

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Toby Emmerich, chairman of Warner Bros. Pictures Group, said the return to box office normalcy is a marathon, not a sprint. Some Wall Street analysts contend consumers won’t feel comfortable returning to the box office without a COVID-19 vaccine is available.

Regardless, Emmerich believes Tenet has a long theatrical run ahead.

“We are off to a fantastic start internationally and couldn’t be more pleased,” he said in a statement. “Christopher Nolan has once again delivered an event-worthy motion picture that demands to be seen on the big screen.”

Analyst: Imax ‘Insulated’ From Streaming, PVOD Threat

With its massive 72 feet by 53 feet screen — about 10 times bigger than 35mm film — Imax theaters deliver oversized movie screen images with surround sound. Those attributes are what some observers believe makes the company immune to threats from streaming and premium VOD.

The company reported second-quarter (ended June 30) revenue of $8.9 million, which was down 92% from revenue of $104 million in the previous-year period.

Michael Pachter, media analyst with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, said Imax’s financials remain unimportant until the pandemic ends. He expects the exhibitor to resume “impressive top and bottom-line” growth once a vaccine is found and introduced into the market.

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“We do not think Imax’s survival is at risk,” Pachter wrote.

Additionally, with AMC Theatres upending the traditional box office window by allowing Universal Pictures to deliver new-release movies into consumer homes just 17 days after their theatrical bow, the analyst says Imax’s unique consumer offering makes it immune from PVOD and subscription streaming services.

“Imax screens are largely insulated from the threat of streaming services, we expect [the company] to resume expanding its market share,” Pachter wrote. “We think Imax is best positioned within theatrical exhibition for a full rebound.”

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That said, the analyst contends the overall health of the box office is key to Imax’s return to screen growth and could take some take time. Pachter said Imax would benefit if more studios choose to release films internationally and in China before domestically.

“Should screen growth resume earlier, we would expect the [Imax] share price to materially improve,” he wrote.

Imax Documentaries Headed to Hulu

With most movie theaters, including Imax screens, still shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic, Imax has reportedly inked a deal with Disney-owned Hulu to stream a slate of 16 theatrical documentaries on the SVOD platform beginning this summer.

Titles include Pandas, Into the Deep, Space Station and A Beautiful Planet, Superpower Dogs, the Oscar-nominated Fires of Kuwait, Galapagos, Hail Columbia! and Journey to the South Pacific, among others.

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“With people at home there is an immense and growing desire for discovery, particularly for students, families and children. For years Imax has helped share the power of the natural world and the potential of human existence, and now, together with Hulu, we can bring those incredible, enlightening experiences to millions more,” Megan Colligan, president of Imax Entertainment, said in a statement.

Since the first Imax film, Tiger Child, debuted at Expo ’70 in Osaka, Japan, Imax has helped transport audiences into realistic screen images across more than 75 documentaries using proprietary technology. Imax originals have been nominated for Academy Awards (Fires of Kuwait 1992), traveled to the depths of the sea (Journey to the South Pacific 2013), and ventured into space 24 times.

Hollywood’s stars lending their voices to Imax docs, include narrations from Tom Cruise (Space Station 2002), Jennifer Lawrence (A Beautiful Planet 2016), Kristen Bell (Pandas 2018), and more. The forthcoming Asteroid Hunters is narrated by Daisy Ridley.

Many of the Imax docs headed to Hulu have also been filmed or digitally remastered with brilliant, proprietary visual and audio technology.

Colligan says that despite Hulu featuring Imax’s coveted screen and sound features, it will still be able to convey to streamers specific world experiences and information about science and exploration, among other topics.

“[Hulu is] absolutely crafted for immersive sound and the immersive screen,” she said. “School has ended and many kids and families across the country are searching for co-viewing content.”

Shout! Factory Sets Home Release Date for Imax D-Day Doc

Shout! Factory has announced a May 5 home release date for Imax D-Day: Normandy 1944, a Tom Brokaw-narrated documentary that will be available for home viewing on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray Disc.

The documentary was specially filmed for Imax and giant-screen theaters.

Disc one includes the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray widescreen version and disc two includes the regular Blu-ray 1080p HD widescreen version. The release also includes an original music score performed by the London Symphony Orchestra.

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D-Day: Normandy 1944 covers the critical World War II developments of late 1943 to August 1944, detailing the events that led up to, as well as the aftermath of, the famous June 6, 1944, Allied invasion of Normandy, France. Exploring history, military strategy, science, technology, and the enduring human spirit, the film allows audiences of all ages to discover, from a new perspective, how this landing changed the world.

Bonus features include separate interviews with director Pascal Vuong, narrator Tom Brokaw, and historical advisor Pete Herrly, and two behind-the scenes featurettes — one on Normandy and the other on sand animation.

 

FandangoNow Adds Imax Enhanced Titles

FandangoNow, Fandango’s transactional VOD service, is growing its library of Imax Enhanced movies.

The service by Jan. 14 is adding Paramount’s Terminator: Dark Fate, the Russell Crowe-narrated documentary Turtle Odyssey and the Jennifer Lawrence-narrated doc A Beautiful Planet, featuring views from the International Space Station.

FandangoNow is the exclusive U.S. digital retailer for Imax Enhanced titles, working in partnership with DTS.

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In October, FandangoNow launched its Imax Enhanced program, which combines exclusive, digitally remastered 4K HDR content and DTS audio technologies with high-end consumer electronics products. FandangoNow meets Imax Enhanced’s standard for 4K HDR streaming and uses a special variant of the DTS codec technology integrated in home audio equipment to deliver an Imax signature sound experience with more immersive, powerful sound.

 

Xperi Repositioning DTS Brand, Adding Imaging Tech

On the eve of CES Jan. 7-10, Xperi announced that its FotoNation imaging technology will be offered under the DTS brand along with its audio solutions.

“DTS will now move forward under a single premium brand inclusive of audio, imaging and sensing solutions,” according to an Xperi press release.

“Building upon DTS’s foundation of innovation in audio, our brand repositioning reflects our view that consumers will delight and engage in even more immersive and intuitive ways with their favorite content as we bring more integrated and advanced imaging and sensing technology to optimize content presentation and device playback,” said Kevin Doohan, Xperi’s chief marketing officer. “We are strategically pushing the DTS brand beyond the outstanding sound solutions customers and consumers have always known it to stand for, while integrating FotoNation’s trusted innovative technology and solutions under the redefined DTS brand.”

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At CES, Xperi will demonstrate:

  • Imax Enhanced, the premium home entertainment certification and licensing program from Imax and DTS available on four streaming platforms in seven countries worldwide and 17 device manufacturers;
  • DTS:X TV, a comprehensive immersive audio solution for televisions supporting decode, playback, and transcode of DTS:X bitstreams with full backward compatibility for streaming and disc-based DTS bitstreams;
  • DTS Virtual:X, which creates an immersive home theater experience using only a sound bar, TV speakers, or through speakers connected to an A/V receiver;
  • DTS Play-Fi, which brings wireless audio features such as surround sound, whole-home TV audio streaming, multi-room music, and app-based wireless headphone support to the entertainment hub of every room; and
  • DTS:XPro, an advanced audio decoder solution that brings greater spatial resolution to premium home cinema systems with support for up to 30.2 channels of audio in nearly any practical speaker layout.

 

Shout! Factory Sets Home Disc Release Date for ‘Turtle Odyssey’ Doc

Indie home entertainment distributor Shout! Factory has set a Dec. 3 release date for Caspar Mazzotti and Paul Phelan’s film Turtle Odyssey: Bunji’s Big Adventure. The 2018 documentary will be available as a 4k Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack with regular Blu-ray, and on DVD.

The Australian film, which is narrated by Russell Crowe, features the unique lifecycle of a sea turtle named Bunji and her journey across the ocean. The film follows Bunji from a hatchling into adulthood as she swims thousands of miles, meeting various different creatures and having some wild encounters. She eventually migrates back to the  beach she was born to lay her eggs that are the foundation for the next generation.

Turtle Odyssey, which grossed over $135,000 in the Australian box office, utilizes the new Imax Enhanced technology, which offers an expanded aspect ratio and immersive sound for an enhanced viewing experience.

 

FandangoNow Launches Imax Enhanced

FandangoNow, the transactional VOD service from Fandango — in collaboration with Imax Corp. and DTS — Oct. 1 announced the launch of Imax Enhanced on select Sony 4K Android TVs in the United States.

Additional devices will be added in the coming months.

Imax Enhanced combines exclusive, digitally remastered 4K HDR content and DTS audio technologies with the high-end consumer electronics.

Starting Oct. 1, fans can rent Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Spider-Man: Far From Home — featuring 45 minutes of Imax’s exclusive expanded aspect ratio. In addition, Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and The Angry Birds Movie 2, as well as Paramount Pictures’ Bumblebee, among other blockbuster movies, will be part of FandangoNow’s exclusive line-up of Imax Enhanced titles.

The collaboration with Imax Enhanced will add dozens of new titles to FandangoNow.

FandangoNow meets Imax Enhanced’s standard for 4K HDR streaming and uses a special variant of the DTS codec technology integrated in home audio equipment to deliver an Imax signature sound experience with more immersive, powerful sound, according to the company.

Imax Enhanced is supported by participating studios such as Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and Paramount Pictures, as well as a roster of 15 device partners across televisions, projectors and A/V receivers — all of which have met performance requirements set by Imax, DTS and leading technical specialists throughout Hollywood.

Sony, Paramount to Offer Imax Content in the Home

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and Paramount Home Media Distribution, among others, in a deal with Rakuten TV, FandangoNow, and Imax, is set to offer Imax content on select smart televisions in the United States, Europe and China.

Imax and DTS have launched a license program enabling third-party consumer electronics manufacturers to offer digitally remastered 4K HDR content with DTS audio in the home.

“We are thrilled to support our collaborators to bring ‘The Imax Experience’ into the home with this new and exciting format,” Pete Wood, SVP/Digital Sales, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, said in a statement.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is offering movies Venom, Spider-Man Homecoming, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Spider-Man: Far From Home — the latter including 45 minutes of Imax expanded content.

Paramount Home Media Distribution’s Bumblebee will be the studio’s first addition to the expanding collection of Imax Enhanced titles for streaming platforms, followed by Crawl, Pet Sematary (2019), and Rocketman, all of which will include Imax signature sound.

Imax content on Bravia TVs will be offered through the Rakuten TV streaming service this month in U.K., Spain, Germany, France and Italy.

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Bravia models with Imax Enhanced certification are the Master Series ZG9 8K HDR Full Array LED and AG9 4K HDR OLED sets, as well as the XG95 Series 4K HDR Full Array LED TV.

“Today’s announcement continues our efforts to usher in a new level of quality in home entertainment by pairing digitally re-mastered 4K HDR content with breath-taking images and immersive sound as the filmmakers intended for the home,” said Francisco Navarro-Sertich, SVP/Strategy at Imax Corp.

Separately, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment also will release a series of new titles on Imax Enhanced physical 4K Ultra HD disc, beginning with The Angry Birds Movie 2.

This is in addition to Imax Entertainment’s release of Space Station on Imax Enhanced UHD Blu-ray in July, which is available for purchase through Amazon and other major retailers.

 

‘Space Station’ Circulating to 4K UHD From Mill Creek

Space Station, the first cinematic journey to the International Space Station, is soaring to 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and digital combo pack July 9 from Mill Creek Entertainment.

Audiences can experience life in zero gravity aboard the space station in this top-grossing Imax documentary narrated by Tom Cruise that explores the orbiting laboratory where astronauts develop technologies to make possible future voyages to Mars and provide solutions to earthbound problems.

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The release includes one hour of bonus footage, including interviews with Tom Cruise, director Toni Myers and the astronauts aboard and two tours of the station.