Mill Creek Entertainment will release a 20th anniversary Blu-ray Disc of the 2000 sci-fi movie Battlefield Earth Sept. 15.
Based on L. Ron Hubbard’s best-selling book, the story takes place in the year 3000 where Earth is ruled by a vicious alien race known as the Psychlos that have stripped the planet of its resources and eradicated most the human population. One of the few surviving humans, Jonnie Goodboy Tyler (Barry Pepper) is in pursuit of a better place to live, but is soon captured by a Psychlo slavemaster to join fellow “man-animals” in mining efforts. Jonnie eventually gains the attention of the evil Psychlo security officer Terl (John Travolta) and his assistant Ker (Forest Whitaker) who have discovered a vein of gold which they are unable to recover without the assistance of humans. While Terl attempts to makes Jonnie his personal slave, Jonnie uses his position to rally the other humans and unite in a plot to destroy the aliens and restore the human race to its former glory.
A notorious box office flop in its day, Battlefield Earth received seven Razzie Awards, including Worst Picture.
One positive trend that has emerged during the pandemic, home entertainment studio executives say, is that consumers seem to be gaining a better understanding of the difference between transactional and subscription streaming and are realizing that not everything they might want to see is available on Netflix or the other big SVOD services.
“Because consumers are spending so much watching digital video at home, they are acutely aware of which titles are available on the various platforms,” says Jason Spivak, EVP of U.S. distribution at Sony Pictures Television Distribution.
“It has become clear that consumers sheltering at home not only have become increasingly engaged in our catalog offerings to keep entertained, but also have progressively grown to become more savvy in navigating the spectrum of formats,” says Hilary Hoffman, EVP of global marketing, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. “As such, we have continued to invest and reward consumers to stay engaged in the category and have been working in lockstep with our digital and physical retail partners to ensure that we remain hyper-focused on delivering the broadest access and best possible in-home experience.”
“Consumers have become much more receptive to different price points,” adds Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s senior EVP of worldwide marketing Lexine Wong. “They realize not everything’s on Netflix, and it’s worth it to them to pay a transactional amount for something they really want to watch. They really have embraced all the ways to consume digital video.”
That includes the physical disc. “We are encouraged by the resilience,” Spivak says. “When you think of the structural impediments, stores being closed, online ordering taking longer to fulfill — consumers who love the physical disc are persevering and that business is holding up quite well.”
Studios were fortunate that two of the biggest retail sellers of DVDs and Blu-ray Discs, Walmart and Target, were able to remain open throughout the pandemic because they also sell groceries and thus were deemed “essential” businesses. Alanna Powers, SVP of brand marketing, catalog, at Paramount Home Entertainment, says studio marketers have already met with Walmart to discuss fourth-quarter plans, with a focus on catalog.
“We went through a whole planning session with the Walmart team,” Powers says.
But the biggest lift to DVD and Blu-ray Disc sales, studio marketers say, comes from e-commerce sellers such as Amazon.
“We’ve seen quite a boom in e-commerce,” Powers says. “Initially we were unsure about the supply chain and how retail would react, but we kept all our new-to-Blu-ray titles on the calendar and saw a very positive response so we’ve continued to fill the slate with additional titles.”
Indeed, in addition to monthly waves of “Paramount Presents” releases, Paramount recently has come out with a 25th anniversary edition of the Alicia Silverstone comedy Clueless and 40th anniversary editions of horror classic Friday the 13th and John Travolta’s Urban Cowboy. Clueless and Friday the 13th also are available in limited edition steelbooks.
“We’re really leaning more into the collector’s market,” Powers says. “That’s where e-commerce really shines.”
It’s not just movies, either. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment enjoyed a banner spring with TV product, says Jeff Brown, EVP and GM, Television. “The second quarter was a panacea for transactional television content, physical as well as digital,” Brown says. “Our business grew over 40%, year on year. And if you exclude ‘Game of Thrones,’ which had an extraordinary performance last year with the final season broadcast and transactional release, our business nearly doubled. This really shows peoples’ appetite for television content, and while obviously stay-at-home behavior contributed to this, there were several other opportunities we were able to capitalize on.”
One was the fact that Warner now distributes TV content from HBO and Turner digitally as well as physically.
Another is a strong slate of product, released just in time for viewers to enjoy while encouraged by state and local governments to stay in their homes. “Our top drivers included ‘Rick and Morty,’ ‘Friends’ and ‘The Big Bang Theory,’ as well as the animated original movie titles Justice League Dark: Apokolips War, which was probably our best-performing DC animated movie since Batman: The Killing Joke and Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge,” Brown says.
The third factor behind Warner’s strong TV quarter is a series of “Entertaining the World” promotions, Brown says, with a menu of promotional actions for digital retailers such as Amazon Prime Video, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu and FandangoNow.
“We promoted shows such as ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,’ ‘Two and a Half Men,’ ‘The Sopranos,’ ‘The Wire,’ and Hanna-Barbera and DC animated classics,” Brown says. “We were able to look at the total Warner-HBO-Turner TV and animation library and come up with compelling retail programs, and we coordinated this on a semi-monthly ‘wave’ basis to provide an abundance of promoted content to retailers in a timely manner.”
Editor’s Note: This is part three in a four-part series, “Restocking the Shelves: With No Theatrical Releases, Studio Home Entertainment Marketers are Getting Creative.” The complete story will be available in the July print and digital editions of ‘Media Play News.’
Lionsgate will release the car-racing drama Trading Paint on Blu-ray, DVD and digitally May 21. The film is current available on demand.
John Travolta and Toby Sebastian star as a father and son racing duo who have a falling out after their winning streak ends. The rift grows when the son takes an offer to race for a rival team, pitting the two against each other in a high-stakes showdown.
Universal Pictures continues its run on top of the Redbox charts, with the latest installment in the gruesome “Halloween” horror movie franchise debuting at No. 1 on both charts the week ended Jan. 20.
Halloween, the 11th installment that began with the 1978 original also called Halloween, topped both 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 Redbox On Demand chart, which tracks transactional video-on-demand (TVOD), both electronic sellthrough (EST) and streaming.
The new Halloween earned nearly 160 million in North American theaters. It comes full circle, following Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) 40 years after she survived Michael Myers’ initial killing spree chronicled in the first movie.
Halloween bumped another Universal Pictures film, Night School, out of the No. 1 spot it had held for the past three weeks on the Redbox disc-rental chart and two weeks on the Redbox On Demand digital chart.
The Kevin Hart-starring comedy, which earned $77.3 million in North American theaters, slipped to No. 3 on both charts.
Debuting at No. 2 on both charts was another new release, Goosebumps 2, from Sony Pictures. Like Halloween, Goosebumps 2 was released theatrically in time for Halloween. A sequel to 2015’s Goosebumps, the followup racked up a $46.7 million domestic gross.
Venom, a superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name, slipped to No. 4 from No. 2 on the kiosk chart, and to No. 6 from No. 4 on the digital chart.
Rounding out the top five on the Redbox disc-rental chart was a third new release, Speed Kills, from Lionsgate. The film stars John Travolta as a rich speedboat racing champion who leads a double life that gets him in hot water with both the police and a team of drug lords. It’s the latest in a string of theatrical flops starring the one-time ‘A’ list star.
On the Redbox On Demand digital chart, Lionsgate’s A Simple Favor moved back up to No. 4 from No. 6 the prior week, while the No. 5 spot went to 20th Century Fox’s Bad Times at the El Royale, down two spots from the previous week.
A fourth new release, Warner’s A Star is Born, debuted at No. 8 on the Redbox digital chart. The film – which received eight Oscar nominations, including a nod for “Best Picture,” won’t be available on DVD and Blu-ray Disc until Feb. 19.
Top DVD and Blu-ray Disc Rentals, Redbox Kiosks, Week Ending January 20
Halloween (2018, new)
Goosebumps 2 (new)
Speed Kills (new)
White Boy Rick
The Equalizer 2
The House With a Clock in its Walls
Top Digital, Redbox On Demand, Week Ending January 20
Lionsgate will release the notorious biopic Gotti on Blu-ray and DVD Sept. 25. The Blu-ray will include a digital copy.
The film, which stars John Travolta as New York mobster John Gotti, earned $4.3 million at the domestic box office. The film was famously acquired by MoviePass prior to its release and stirred some controversies when it hit theaters June 15 by how it was marketed.
After Gotti earned a 0% critics score on RottenTomatoes.com, the site began to receive a large number of positive audience reviews of the film, prompting an ad campaign that claimed critics were wrong. After the audience score began to drop, some industry observers noticed that many of the positive reviews came from recently created accounts that reviewed only MoviePass-owned films, prompting speculation that the site was being manipulated for marketing purposes (any involvement in which MoviePass has denied).
NEWS ANALYSIS — Gotti, the Italian crime boss biopic starring John Travolta dropped by Lionsgate and acquired (partially) by MoviePass, generated $1.67 million during its opening box office weekend.
Media reports say the movie subscription service owned by Helios and Mathenson Analytics (HMNY) accounted for about 40% of the $10 million budgeted film’s tickets sold. That’s a bigger percentage than the $135,000 opening weekend for American Animals, the indie heist film HMNY’s MoviePass Ventures acquired last year at Sundance.
While Gotti infamously generated a 0% score on Rotten Tomatoes, the reality is that MoviePass essentially bought four out of every 10 tickets sold to its own movie. That’s because the service pays theater operators face value for every ticket “purchased” by its 3 million subscribers, who pay $9.95 monthly for access.
The margins might actually be better since MoviePass has leveraged ticket price discounts with many indie exhibitors in exchange for generating foot traffic.
“It used to be in distribution, we’d all gossip whether a studio was buying tickets to their own movie to goose their opening. But in the case of MoviePass, there’s no secret: They’re literally buying the tickets to their own movie!” an unidentified indie studio executive told Deadline.com.
But for how long? HMNY is spending more on tickets monthly than it generates in subscriber revenue — an economic reality that has plummeted the stock price to 35 cents-per-share.
Paramount Pictures hosted a screening of Grease at this year’s Cannes Film Festival in France to celebrate the film’s 40th anniversary. Star John Travolta and director Randal Kleiser took part in the Cinéma de la Plage event May 16 where the restored film was shown to fans an outdoor screening on the beach. Grease: 40th Anniversary Edition is now available on Blu-ray, DVD, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and digital.
Theatrical ticket subscription service MoviePass reportedly has acquired a stake in Gotti, the biographical crime drama starring John Travolta as infamous New York mobster John Gotti.
The acquisition – announced at CinemaCon in Las Vegas – marks the second deal for MoviePass’ financing arm, MoviePass Ventures, following pickup of indie drama, American Animals, at Sundance Film Festival in February.
Gotti, which features Kelly Preston (Travolta’s wife) as Gotti’s wife Victoria and was directed by Kevin Connolly (HBO’s “Entourage”), was originally slated to be released last December by Lionsgate Premiere, the specialty film unit that distributes titles theatrically, on video-on-demand and streaming – sometimes concurrently.
But just 10 days before release, Lionsgate sold the distribution rights back to the movie’s producers – a move that sparked speculation in the media and a public outcry from Travolta.
Gotti is now slated for a June 15 theatrical launch targeting MoviePass’ 2+ million subscribers, which the service believes will help theaters generate increased foot traffic and concession sales, among other ancillary revenue.
“Acquiring a stake in Gotti is exciting for MoviePass Ventures, because … [it] equates to an even larger, positive impact on downstream revenue such as theatrical domestic and international distribution rights, streaming rights, DVD rights, transactional rights, on-demand, and foreign movie rights,” Ted Farnsworth, CEO of MoviePass parent Helios and Matheson, said in a statement as reported by Deadline.
American Animals is slated for a June 1 theatrical debut.
The Church of Scientology March 12 is launching a branded television network that will be streamed on Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Roku, in addition to being broadcast on DirecTV.
The app is available on the App Store and Google Play.
The church’s online TV platform is slated to bow at 8pm ET, 5pm Pacific from its two-year-old Scientology Media Productions in Los Angeles.
Created by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard in 1954, the Church of Scientology has generated controversy over years, in addition to several high-profile members, including John Travolta, Tom Cruise, Kristie Alley, Elisabeth Moss, Laura Prepon, Juliette Lewis and Jenna Elfman, among others.
Critics contend the church is a cult, described in a 1991 Time cover story as a “hugely profitable global racket” that subjects members to psychological and even physical abuse. The religion has failed to achieve legal status in Germany due in part to ongoing political and social reservations.
Actress Leah Remini famously broke from the church after 30 years in 2013, writing a book about her experiences, and more recently appearing on the A&E show, “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath.”
The church has characterized the show as the musings of a “bitter ex-Scientologist,” alleging that “bitterness and anger” now dominate Remini’s life.
“[Remini] needs to move on with her life instead of pathetically exploiting her former religion, her former friends and other celebrities for money and attention to appear relevant again,” reads a statement the ScientologyNews website.
In promoting its online TV platform, the church says, “It’s time for us to tell our story.”
Paramount Home Media Distribution is readying a 40th anniversary edition of the musical Grease for April 24 release on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc, Blu-ray Disc, DVD and Digital.
Featuring star-making performances from John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, Grease has given the pop-culture world such memorable songs as “Greased Lightnin,” “Look At Me, I’m Sandra Dee,” “Summer Nights,” “Hopelessly Devoted To You,” “Beauty School Drop Out” and the title track.
Paramount says it worked with director Randal Kleiser to restore Grease “to its original vibrancy, with the highest quality sound, picture resolution and color.” The original negative was scanned and received extensive clean up and color correction using previously unavailable digital restoration tools such as high dynamic range (HDR) technology. In addition, the audio was enhanced from a six-track mix created for the film’s original 70mm release, giving the music more clarity.
The Grease 40th anniversary edition 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray Disc combo packs include the fully restored version of the film plus an all-new, in-depth exploration of the little-known origins of what would become a Broadway play and then a feature film. “Grease: A Chicago Story” features new interviews with writer Jim Jacobs and original cast members of the Chicago show. In addition, the discs include the original song the title sequence was animated to and an alternate ending salvaged from the original black-and-white16mm work print discovered by director Randal Kleiser.
Both the 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray Combo Packs also feature more than an hour of previously released bonus material, including a sing-along, vintage interviews with the cast, deleted scenes and more. Plus, the Blu-ray Combo comes in collectible packaging with 16 pages of images laid out like a high school yearbook. In addition, a Grease Collection will be available in a Steelbook Locker, which includes the 40th anniversary Blu-ray of Grease, as well as Grease 2 and Grease: Live! on Blu-ray for the first time.