Universal Q4 Home Entertainment Revenue Drops

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment Jan. 23 reported fourth-quarter (ended Dec. 31, 2019) revenue of $276 million, which was down 12.4% from revenue of $315 million in the previous-year period.

After a promising start to the fiscal year, the home entertainment studio saw fiscal declines in Q3 and Q4 to end the year with $957 million in revenue, compared with $1.05 billion in 2018.

The studio’s top DVD/Blu-ray Disc release in 2019 was DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.

Overall, it was a disappointing year for Universal Pictures. Filmed-entertainment Q4 revenue decreased 21% to $1.6 billion, primarily reflecting lower theatrical revenue.

Indeed, box office revenue plunged 59.1%, reflecting the volume and strength of releases in last year’s fourth quarter, including The Grinch and Halloween (where’s Michael Myers when you need him?). Pre-tax earnings fell 48.9% to $91 million in Q4partially offset by lower programming and production costs.

With M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass ($247 million) and Jordan Peele’s Us ($255 million) as top-performing box office releases, Universal Pictures saw 2019 revenue decline 9.2% to $6.5 billion compared to 2018, partially offset by higher content licensing revenue.

Indeed, pre-tax earnings increased 13.5% to $833 million from $734 million in 2018, reflecting lower revenue, more than offset by lower operating expenses.

Reimagined ‘Twilight Zone’ on Blu-ray Feb. 18

Paramount Home Entertainment will release CBS All Access’ reimagined version of “The Twilight Zone” on DVD and Blu-ray Feb. 18.

The Twilight Zone: Season One includes all 10 episodes from the 2019 version of the anthology series.

The remake was developed by Simon Kinberg, Jordan Peele and Marco Ramirez, based on the original 1959 television series created by Rod Serling.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Peele hosts and narrates tales of science fiction, fantasy and the occult, exploring humanity’s hopes, despairs, prides and prejudices in metaphoric ways.

Follow us on Instagram

Toy Story 4

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street 10/8/19;
Disney;
Animated;
Box Office $433.06 million;
$39.99 Blu-ray/DVD, $44.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘G.’
Voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Tony Hale, Jordan Peele, Keegan-Michael Key, Keanu Reeves, Ally Maki, Joan Cusack, Bonnie Hunt, Kristen Schaal, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Blake Clark, June Squibb, Carl Weathers, Jeff Garlin.

While the prospect of a fourth “Toy Story” movie was exciting news for fans of the franchise, there were some questions about whether the adventures of Woody, Buzz and the gang might have run their course. After all, the third movie from 2010 was an emotional rollercoaster that seemed to provide a decent, if bittersweet, sense of closure for the characters.

Of course, the question about what stories were left to tell had already been answered long before the fourth movie was announced, not only through three short films, but also two half-hour television specials. So, yeah, there’s more than enough material to mine.

There would still be the challenge of making any new film feel like an event worthy of the franchise. The movies should at least be somewhat transformational, redefining the status quo of the characters beyond what can be accomplished in a short film.

Well, the team at Pixar Animation Studios certainly achieved that goal, and then some. Toy Story 4 isn’t the best film in the franchise, but it might be the most cathartic. Where the previous film was a bit of a gut punch, this one offers more of a natural progression for the characters.

After a flashback that shows how Woody’s love interest, Bo Peep (Annie Potts) was given away (mentioned in Toy Story 3), we check in to see how the toys are doing with their new owner, Bonnie. While she exhibits a rich imagination, she tends to leave Woody (Tom Hanks) sidelined, leaving him to wonder what his place in her life is.

Bonnie then creates a new toy, named Forky (Tony Hale), out of trash at school, and when he would rather return to the garbage than play with Bonnie, Woody assigns himself the task of educating the new toy and making sure he’s available for her. Woody’s task gets more complicated when Forky manages to jump out of the RV on a family road trip. In retrieving him, Woody comes across an antique shop and reunites with Bo. But Forky is captured by a doll at the shop who wants to trade him for Woody’s pull-string voice box to replace her own defective one, hoping the fix will help entice a kid to want to play with her.

Bo, on the other hand, presents another option for life as a toy: roaming free, with no owner, never worrying about being played with or not and determining her own fate. Meanwhile, Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) sets out on a mission to find Woody, bolstered by a hilarious running gag of him activating his own voice feature so he can get advice from his “inner voice.”

So, yes, the movie does return to the “recover a lost character” motif that has been a staple of the franchise (and, indeed, most Pixar films), putting a few new spins on the formula along the way. The antique shop and a nearby carnival are wonderful settings for toy-level adventures with inventive new characters, such as Canadian motorcycle-jumping daredevil Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves), and a pair of game-prize plushes voiced by Key & Peele.

The only area of concern, really, is that each passing movie runs the risk of potentially piercing the suspension of disbelief about the toys being alive, which some of the characters actually joke about in this one. One need to simply look no further to the living vehicles of the world of “Cars” to see how much such questions can distract, and detract, from the narrative.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The “Toy Story” movies have all been visual marvels, and the fourth one is no exception, advancing the state of CGI to render fantastic textures and details on the toys and their environments. The carnival offers a great excuse for bright colors and warm lights, while the antique shop provides a trove of subtle references.

The Blu-ray is loaded with a lot of great behind-the-scenes material, including an insightful feature-length commentary track by director Josh Cooley and producer Mark Nielsen in which they discuss all sorts of challenges to crafting a fourth “Toy Story” film.

Some of the more pivotal sequences get their own callout in the form of “Anatomy of a Scene” videos in which the filmmakers discuss and joke about making them. The disc includes a nine-and-a-half-minute look at the playground scene, while a seven-minute deconstruction of the prologue serves as a digital exclusive.

The disc also includes 28 minutes of deleted scenes, still in storyboard form, that show some of the unused concepts for the film, including an unused ending that would have pretty much negated the film’s message of finding your own place in the world.

The digital version of the film includes an additional seven-minute alternate opening sequence depicting Bonnie’s playtime fantasy using the toys.

The various featurettes included offer interesting glimpses of the production with the usual interviews with cast members and filmmakers, but often show them interacting in ways not typically presented in such videos.

There is a six-minute “Bo Rebooted” video about how Bo’s character was expanded into a major role for the film. Another, three-and-a-half-minute piece, spotlights the relationship between Woody and Buzz.

The new characters are shown off in a series of “Toy Box” videos that run 13 minutes, while an additional six-minute featurette focuses on new castmember Ally Maki and her pint-sized character.

One of the more nostalgia-infused featurettes is a five-and-a-half-minute “Toy Stories” piece in which several of the cast and crew recall the toys they played with as children.

Among some of the more random video bits are a few minutes of animation showing off the carnival and the antique shop roof from the toys’ perspectives, plus a series of promotional videos including character vignettes and trailers from around the world.

Some digital retailers, such as Vudu, also offer a two-and-a-half-minute “Toy Story Rewind” video in which the cast and crew reflect on the previous movies.

 

‘Toy Story 4,’ From Disney, Pixar, Gets Home Release Dates

Toy Story 4, the year’s No. 4 movie at the box office, will become available for home viewing in October, the Walt Disney Co. announced Aug. 22.

The animated film, with a domestic gross of $425 million, will arrive on digital Oct. 1, with a Blu-ray Disc, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and DVD release following on Oct. 8.

The fourth film in the “Toy Story” franchise is a sequel to 2010’s Toy Story 3, which took in $415 million in North American movie theaters. The franchise was launched in 1995 with Pixar’s original Toy Story, the world’s first fully computer-animated feature film. Disney purchased Pixar in 2006.

Toy Story 4 features an all-star voice cast that includes Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Jordan Peele, Keanu Reeves and Joan Cusack.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The home editions of Toy Story 4 contain more than an hour of bonus features celebrating Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the franchise’s other iconic characters. Extras includes deleted scenes such as an alternate ending; a new featurette that chronicles Woody and Buzz’s friendship through the years; studio stories shared by members of the Pixar team; a nostalgic look back at the creation and first storyboard screening of Toy Story with filmmakers; and a documentary on the pioneering efforts of Pixar artists who created the sets, characters, look and feel of the original film.

In Toy Story 4, Woody (Hanks) has always been confident about his place in the world, and that his priority is taking care of his kid, whether that’s Andy or Bonnie. So, when Bonnie’s new craft-project-turned-toy Forky (voiced by Tony Hale) calls himself “trash,” Woody decides to teach Forky how to embrace being a toy. But a road-trip adventure, including an unexpected reunion with his long-lost friend Bo Peep (voiced by Annie Potts), shows Woody how big the world can be for a toy. New additions to the cast of animated characters include carnival prizes Ducky (voiced by Keegan-Michael Key) and Bunny (Peele) bring a new level of fun to the film.

The fourth installment in the “Toy Story” series will be packaged several ways for home consumption. Toy Story 4 arrives home a week early on digital 4K Ultra HD, HD and SD with two exclusive extras, including a deleted scene, “Bonnie’s Playtime.”

A week later, fans will be able to buy physical copies of the film on disc, also in various incarnations: as a 4K Ultra HD combo pack (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and digital code), a Blu-ray combo pack (Blu-ray, DVD and digital code) and a single DVD.

Also available is a digital bundle of all four films.

‘Captain Marvel’ Soars on FandangoNow Chart

Disney’s superhero blockbuster Captain Marvel was the top film purchased and/or rented on FandangoNow for the week ended June 16.

FandangoNow is movie site Fandango’s transactional VOD service.

Captain Marvel, which earned $426.8 million in theaters, stars Brie Larson as the Marvel Comics character Carol Danvers.

Universal’s horror film Us landed at No. 2. Writer-director Jordan Peele’s followup to Get Out, the film stars Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke and Emmy winner Elisabeth Moss. It earned $175 million at the box office.

Another Universal title, The Upside, took the third spot. The comedy stars Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston as an out-of-work ex-con and a wealthy quadriplegic who unexpectedly come together and help each other bring back their zest for life. It earned $108.2 million in theaters.

In fourth place was Lionsgate’s romance Five Feet Apart, about two teens with cystic fibrosis who fall in love but are forced to stay apart because of their illness. It made $45.7 million in theaters.

Rounding out the top five was Paramount’s animated adventure Wonder Park. It’s the story of a young girl named June who makes an incredible discovery — the amusement park of her dreams has come to life filled with wild rides operated by fun-loving animals. It features the voices of Jennifer Garner, Mila Kunis, John Oliver, Kenan Thompson and Ken Jeong, among others, and made $45.2 million at the box office.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The top 10 films purchased and/or rented on FandangoNow for the week ended June 16 were:

  1. Captain Marvel * (Disney)
  2. Us* (Universal)
  3. The Upside * (Universal)
  4. Five Feet Apart * (Lionsgate)
  5. Wonder Park * (Paramount)
  6. Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral * (Lionsgate)
  7. Captive State * (Universal)
  8. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World * (Universal)
  9. The Mustang * (Universal)
  10. The Kid * (Lionsgate)

*Available in 4K

 

Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ Emerging on Digital June 4, Disc June 18 From Universal

Academy Award winner Jordan Peele’s followup to Get OutUs —is coming to digital (including Movies Anywhere) June 4 and 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD June 18 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film, which earned $172.9 million at the box office, stars Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o (Black Panther, 12 Years a Slave), Winston Duke (Black Panther), Emmy winner Elisabeth Moss (“The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Mad Men”) and Tim Heidecker (The Comedy, “Tim & Eric’s Bedtime Stories”).

Set along the North California coastline, the story follows Adelaide Wilson (Nyong’o) who reluctantly returns to her beachside childhood home with her family and finds that she is haunted by unresolved trauma from her past along with a string of eerie coincidences. As darkness falls after a tense day at the beach, the Wilsons discover four figures standing in their driveway. They soon realize this is only the beginning of their troubles as they find that the four figures are terrifying and uncanny opponents: doppelgängers of themselves.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Special features include:

  • “The Duality of Us,” in which Peele goes in-depth on some of the key themes and imagery in the film, including Doppelgängers, Hands Across America, The Nutcracker dance scene, rabbits and the infamous 11:11 coincidence;
  • “The Monsters Within Us,” which examines how cast members were able to find their characters, whether they were playing one of the Wilsons or their sinister doppelgängers;
  • “Tethered Together: Making Us Twice,” about the difficulties of making a movie where all the main cast members play dual roles;
  • “Redefining a Genre: Jordan Peele’s Brand of Horror,” in which cast and filmmakers highlight what makes Peele so unique, as well as the filmmaker’s own thoughts on his inspirations and the relationship between horror and comedy;
  • “Becoming Red,” a closer look at Nyong’o’s performance as “Red”;
  • deleted scenes;
  • “We’re All Dying,” funny outtakes from the conversation between Duke and Heidecker on the beach;
  • “As Above, So Below: Grand Pas de Deux,” an extended version of the dance sequence from the film.

 

Special features exclusive to 4K UHD, Blu-ray and digital include scene explorations, about the making of three iconic scenes from the film, the Tyler house massacre, Jason’s abduction and Adelaide’s underground flashback.

CBS All Access ‘Twilight Zone’ Producers Discuss Reimagining the Series

Taking on a reboot of the iconic “Twilight Zone” series from Rod Serling was daunting, but executive producer Jordan Peele (Get Out, Us) made it simple.

“Jordon said to me, ‘Dude, “Twilight Zone’s” not broken. The more that we can honor the original, the more that we can be humble about the lessons we learned from Rod Serling in the original series, the better this show will be,’” said executive producer Win Rosenfeld.

Subscribe HERE to our FREE daily newsletter!  

Producers discussed the reimagining of the iconic series March 30 at WonderCon in Anaheim, Calif., and the influence of Peele. The series debuts on CBS All Access April 1.

“He’s just a deeply ethical and moral person who really cares about the world that we live in, and I think the reason he’s become, he’s gotten the accolades and the attention he’s gotten in the last few years, is he also happens to be a master of genre,” Rosenfeld said of Peele on a panel during WonderCon.

Questions from immigration to guns to violence and corruption are ripe for the genre treatment, panelists said.

“What Jordan is great at is realizing the best way to address these things is through science-fiction and fantasy,” Rosenfeld said.

Fellow producer Glen Morgan noted that Serling had always been focused on society’s ills.

“Rod serling was writing dramas on TV and the networks were telling him you can’t talk about that, and that’s why he did ‘The Twilight Zone,’ so he could talk about those things, about bigotry and greed and warnings about upcoming technology,” Morgan said.

“The advantage of genre is actually — and in a way it gets underestimated — is you can slip things under the radar,” added writer Alex Rubens.

Reimagining the score had to include the legendary “Twilight Zone” theme, co-composers noted.

“The first thing we thought was we gotta keep the theme,” said co-composer Marco Beltrami. Co-composer Brandon Roberts commented it would be “musical suicide” to redo or reject the theme music. But they added new and old (including a theremin) influences into the musical score.

But the music isn’t the only thing recalling the old series.

“We’re Easter egg junkies, and there’s certainly a lot of that in there,” said Rosenfeld.

Producers went so far as to borrow a prop from an old “Twilight Zone” episode, the dummy Willie. The nearly century-old dummy (from Vaudeville times) was owned by David Copperfield.

“This thing is worth half a million dollars,” noted Morgan. Copperfield generously lended it to the series for a mention.

“He’s sitting in the green room in an episode,” Morgan said.

CBS COO: We ‘Cannibalize Up’ Cord Cutters

In an era of cord cutting and fragmentation of home entertainment and television distribution, CBS says its total viewership data has grown.

Speaking March 6 at The Deutsche Bank 2018 media, telecom & business services confab in Palm Beach, Fla., COO Joesph Ianniello said combining traditional pay-TV subscribers with online TV and direct-to-consumer has resulted in more total subs for CBS than a year ago.

“Not a lot of media companies can say that,” Ianniello said, adding CBS is available on the “broadest tier” of distribution channels.

With more than 5 million combined subs for its over-the-top video platforms (Showtime OTT, CBS All Access), the COO contends the services have “really taken off,” in addition to enabling CBS to sell content to new distribution channels at a significantly higher price than traditional MVPDs.

“So, the value proposition we think we’re bringing to [pay-TV] distributors is compelling,” Ianniello said.

Indeed, with increasing numbers of consumers shunning pay-TV for alternative channels, Ianniello says CBS is able to “cannibalize up” those consumers in the same way Internet Service Providers increase revenue by hiking up broadband access fees.

“If a consumer switches to YouTube TV or CBS All Access, each leg [or service] we get more money the way we’ve priced it,” he said.

Ianniello said the learning curve on OTT has been significant, contending premium channel Showtime never had a real subscriber until bowing an OTT platform.

Specifically, the executive said Showtime’s pay-TV distributor, in addition to third-party broadcast ratings tracking services such as Nielsen had all the consumer data.

“Now, [via OTT] we have perfect information in terms of consumption, what [subs] watch [and] how they watch,” he said. “It makes us smarter in our programing and [makes] advertising much more effective.”

CBS All Access, which costs $5.99 monthly with limited ads; $9.99 without, will launch upwards of seven original series in 2018, including a new season of “Star Trek: Discovery” and pending reboot of “The Twilight Zone” from Oscar-winner Jordan Peele (Get Out) – in addition to select live TV, NFL game telecasts and catalog programing.

“Netflix doesn’t do live,” Ianniello said. “Netflix doesn’t have the library we have. From a value perception, we’re feeling pretty good.”

Best Picture Winner ‘Shape of Water’ Among Oscar Honorees Ready to Score on Home Video

The Shape of Water won the big prize at the 90th annual Academy Awards ceremony March 4, taking Best Picture among its four trophies, in addition to Best Director for Guillermo del Toro, Best Original Score and Best Production Design. The film is available now digitally and comes to Blu-ray and DVD March 13 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Fox’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri won Best Actress for Frances McDormand (who previously won 20 years ago for Fargo) and Best Supporting Actor for Sam Rockwell. The film is now available on Blu-ray, DVD and digitally from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, available on disc and digital from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, won three Oscars — Best Editing, Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing.

Best Actor went to Gary Oldman for his performance as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour, available on home video from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. The film also won best Makeup & Hairstyling, primarily for the work transforming Oldman into Churchill.

Best Supporting Actress went to Allison Janney for I, Tonya, which was released digitally March 2 and arrives on Blu-ray and DVD March 13.

Pixar’s Coco, available on home video from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, won Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song for “Remember Me.”

Netflix’s Russian-doping documentary Icarus won Best Documentary Feature. It’s Netflix’s second-ever Oscar, after winning Best Documentary Short last year for The White Helmets.

Universal’s Get Out won Best Original Screenplay for Jordan Peele.

Sony Pictures’ Call Me by Your Name won for Best Adapted Screenplay for James Ivory, who became the oldest-ever Oscar winner at age 89.

Warner’s Blade Runner 2049 won two Oscars, for Best Visual Effects and Best Cinematography for Roger Deakins, his first win in 14 nominations.

Phantom Thread won for Best Costume Design. Universal releases the film digitally March 27 and on Blu-ray and DVD April 10.

A year following one of the biggest snafus in awards-show history, which saw the announcement of the wrong Best Picture winner, the Oscar ceremony offered a measure of atonement for presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway (now marking the 51st anniversary of Bonnie and Clyde), who were brought back again to give out the top award of the night. This time things went off without a hitch, no doubt helped by envelopes with the correct categories written on them twice in big bold gold letters.

A complete list of winners is available at Oscars.com.