NBCUniversal Reportedly Considering Distributing All Movies Through Peacock After Normal Theatrical, Transactional Runs; Netflix Grabs ‘Knives Out’ Sequel

Taking a page out of the Disney over-the-top video playbook, NBCUniversal is reportedly considering diverting all future Universal Pictures releases to proprietary SVOD platform Peacock — rather than Netflix and HBO Max —  after their theatrical and transactional home entertainment runs.

Citing sources familiar with the situation, Bloomberg reports Universal’s existing distribution deals with HBO for movies such as Fast & Furious 9 and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom nine months after their box office debut, and with Netflix for Illumination titles (i.e. Despicable Me, Sing), both expire at the end of this year. This would give the studio and NBCUniversal the option to channel original movies exclusively to Peacock.

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In the build-up to the launch of its own SVOD service, Disney in 2017 began holding back movies previously earmarked for Netflix distribution. Five years prior, Disney and Netflix inked a landmark agreement affording the SVOD platform exclusive access to original Disney movies — an agreement many observers say contributed to Netflix’s burgeoning appeal.

While nothing has been decided, forgoing third-party distribution could see Universal passing up hundreds of millions of dollars in annual licensing revenue for a SVOD subsidiary with 33 million account sign-ups (not subscriptions) since launching last summer.

Universal also has deals in place with exhibitors AMC Theatres and Regal that enable it to distribute movies to premium VOD as early as 17 days after their theatrical debuts, depending on box office.

At the same time, Netflix has aggressively sought to produce its own movies, including about 60 titles annually. The streamer led all studios with Oscar nominations. And HBO Max has exclusive access to Warner Bros. Pictures theatrical releases for the first 31 days.

Separately, Netflix reportedly secured sequel rights to Knives Out, the 2019 critically acclaimed ensemble murder mystery distributed by Lionsgate in a one-picture deal with Media Rights Capital, the production company behind Netflix’s “House of Cards” and “Ozark.” The $400 million to $450 million deal would be the most Netflix has ever paid to license a movie. Knives Out generated $331.3 million worldwide theatrically on a budget of $40 million.

Knives Out

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sony Pictures, Lionsgate Partner on Multiyear Physical Home Entertainment Distribution Agreement

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and Lionsgate Feb. 26 announced a multiyear agreement in which Sony will handle distribution of Lionsgate’s DVD/Blu-ray Disc releases in the U.S. and Canada beginning in July. Lionsgate’s North American packaged-media distribution has been handled by the former 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, which was acquired in 2019 by Disney.

Lionsgate will continue to maintain its own independent sales and marketing teams, while leveraging SPHE’s supply chain and distribution services. The agreement was jointly announced by Jason Spivak, EVP of distribution at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, and Ron Schwartz, president of worldwide distribution for Lionsgate motion picture group.

“By working together, we can identify and leverage efficiencies in the supply chain that will benefit not only our respective studios, but also retailers and, ultimately, the millions of consumers who enjoy Sony Pictures and Lionsgate feature films and TV programs in the 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD formats,” Spivak said.

Schwartz said the collaboration makes both studios’ home entertainment businesses stronger and more competitive.

“Our new agreement enhances our ability to serve the retail community and consumers with innovation, adaptability and strong content slates in the years to come,” he said.

Lionsgate Home Entertainment Revenue Up Through Nine Months of Fiscal Year

Lionsgate home entertainment continues to see a digital lifeline as the pandemic undermines major new movie releases due to theatrical closures and limited seating.

The studio Feb. 4 reported third-quarter (ended Dec. 31, 2020) motion picture revenue of $250 million, down almost 48% from revenue of $474 million during the previous-year period. Segment operating income, which includes home entertainment, inched up 2% to $50 million from $49 million last year — despite higher theatrical and ancillary revenue in the prior-year quarter.

Like other studios/distributors, Lionsgate attributed the motion picture decline to the pandemic that has seen 65% of major market theatrical screens shuttered and major releases backlogged, curtailing packaged-media and digital releases.

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“Our success in generating strong returns from early PVOD, multiplatform, and hybrid models for the films FataleAntebellumRunI Can Only Imagine and The Secret speaks to our ability to monetize current films, while at the same time working with our theatrical exhibition partners to plan for the future,” CEO Jon Feltheimer said on the fiscal call.

The studio said five feature films have returned to production, three new film productions have started, and in the coming months Lionsgate will begin shooting the Wonder sequel White Bird from director Marc Forster; Shotgun Wedding, starring Jennifer Lopez and Josh Duhamel; Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret from producer James L. Brooks; Borderlands, teaming Kevin Hart and Cate Blanchett; and John Wick 4, starring Keanu Reeves for 2022 release.

Total home entertainment movie revenue in the quarter fell 16.5% to $159.5 million, from $190.9 million during the previous-year period. DVD/Blu-ray Disc sales tallied $36.2 million, down almost 52% from $75.4 million in the previous-year period. Digital revenue increased 6.5% to $123.1 million from $115.5 million last year.

Through nine months of the fiscal year, home entertainment movie revenue is down 6.4% to $476.8 million from $509.1 million last year.

Top-selling packaged-media releases in 2020 included Midway and Knives Out.

Television production in Q3 saw operating income swing to black with $30 million on revenue of $228 million. That compared with an operating loss of $6 million and revenue of $189 million the previous year.

Television home entertainment content sales skyrocketed to $61.1 million, from $10.6 million the year before. Disc sales topped $3.1 million, up from $600,000. Digital revenue reached $58 million, up exponentially from $10 million in the previous-year period. Through nine months, home entertainment sales of TV content is up 150% to $124.7 million from $49.8 million a year earlier.

In spite of the challenges, Lionsgate is currently shooting 19 scripted television series and, another 20 unscripted shows around the world.

Through nine months of the fiscal year, total home entertainment revenue topped $601.5 million, up about 2% from revenue of $589 million during the previous-year period.

Meanwhile, Lionsgate’s move into over-the-top video distribution continues to grow. The Santa Monica, Calif.-based studio saw global subscribers, including StarzPlay Arabia, a non-consolidated equity method investee, increased to 28 million, with global OTT subscribers increasing 900,000 to 14.6 million, 52% of the total. StarzPlay International OTT subscribers grew 26% in the quarter and domestic OTT subscribers posted gains of 300,000 subs.

Starz SVOD subs in the U.S. increased to 9.5 million, up 31% from 5.6 million during the previous-year period. International subs increased to 2.4 million from 700,000. Spanish-language based SVOD Pantaya ended the period with 900,000 subs, up 50% from 600,000 subs a year ago.

“From the Starz acquisition four years ago, through the international rollout that began in 2018, we’ve been converting and scaling Starz into a modern, data-driven global subscription leader that has become the first ‘traditional’ service to have more over-the-top than linear subscribers, a critical digital inflection point,” Feltheimer said. ” By the end of next quarter, we expect streaming revenue to surpass traditional for the first time as well.”

 

IMDb: Ana de Armas (‘Knives Out’), Anya Chalotra (‘The Witcher’) Top Stars in 2020

Amazon-owned IMDb Dec. 1 unveiled the Top 10 Stars and Top 10 Breakout Stars of 2020. Topping the lists, respectively, Knives Out star and Golden Globe nominee Ana de Armas and Anya Chalotra from Netflix’s “The Witcher.”

Rather than base its annual rankings on small statistical samplings, reviews of professional critics, or box office performance, IMDb determines its Top 10 lists using data from proprietary data, which is based on the actual page views of more than 200 million monthly visitors to IMDb.

“Our lists … highlight the actors and actresses our fans and professional customers were most excited and curious about this year,”  Matt Kumin, head of IMDbPro, said in a statement.

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Chalotra received an IMDb “Breakout” STARmeter Award for her standout performance as Yennefer in “The Witcher,” which ranks as one of the most popular TV Shows on IMDb this year. Chalotra has been a strong performer this year on the IMDbPro STARmeter chart, spending four consecutive weeks in the No. 1 spot and an additional four weeks in the Top 10. IMDbPro STARmeter rankings are determined by page views of more than 200 million monthly visitors to IMDb worldwide. IMDb STARmeter Awards have proven to be a keenly accurate predictor of stars who are about to have a breakthrough career moment.

Previous IMDb STARmeter Award recipients in the “Breakout” category include Nicholas BraunOlivia CookeJacob ElordiPom KlementieffBrie LarsonDacre Montgomery and Miles Teller.

Cuban-born Ana de Armas, who appears with Knives Out co-star Daniel Craig in the next James Bond installment, No Time To Die, cut her teeth in Hollywood in 2015 erotic thriller Knock Knock with Keanu Reeves.

IMDb Top 10 Stars of 2020

  1. Ana de Armas
  2. Julia Garner
  3. Anya Chalotra
  4. Millie Bobby Brown
  5. Erin Moriarty
  6. Margot Robbie
  7. Aidan Gallagher
  8. Anya Taylor-Joy
  9. Linda Cardellini
  10. Henry Cavill

 

IMDb Top 10 Breakout Stars of 2020

  1. Anya Chalotra
  2. Aidan Gallagher
  3. Maria Bakalova
  4. Lauren Lapkus
  5. Victoria Pedretti
  6. Jurnee Smollett
  7. Alba Baptista
  8. Golshifteh Farahani
  9. Freya Allan
  10. Diana Silvers

 

Lionsgate Home Entertainment Drives Record $600 million FY Catalog Revenue

Strong home entertainment sales of DVD, Blu-ray Disc and digital catalog titles helped Lionsgate report record $600 million in catalog revenue for the fiscal year ended March 31.

The studio also saw strong retail sales from new releases Midway and Knives Out, the No. 6 and No. 10 top-selling movies in 2020, respectively, according to the NPD Group’s VideoScan tracking service.

The motion picture segment reported $393 million in revenue in the fourth quarter, up nearly 10% from $358 million in revenue during the previous-year period. For the year, revenue topped $1.67 billion, a 14% increase from revenue of $1.46 billion in the previous fiscal-year period. Segment profit was $101 million.

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The only new theatrical release in the quarter, I Still Believe, was in theaters for only four days before exhibitors ceased operations due to the coronavirus. Lionsgate pivoted quickly to launch the title in the $19.99 premium video-on-demand window to mitigate lost theatrical revenue.

Television production segment revenue was $258 million and segment profit was $22 million driven in part by strong library sales.

“We reported a strong quarter to end a solid fiscal year despite the disruption posed by the COVID-19 global pandemic,” CEO Jon Feltheimer said in a statement.

‘Frozen II’ Tops Redbox Disc Rentals; ‘Knives Out’ Remains Atop On Demand List

Disney’s Frozen II took over the No. 1 spot on the Redbox kiosk disc rental chart the week ended March 8. The Redbox disc rental chart tracks DVD and Blu-ray Disc rentals at the company’s more than 40,000 red kiosks.

The animated sequel had debuted a week earlier at No. 2 on the rental chart.

The previous week’s top disc rental, Lionsgate’s Knives Out, slipped to No. 2 on that chart, but did remain at No. 1 on the Redbox On Demand chart, which tracks digital transactions, including both electronic sellthrough and streaming rentals.

Lionsgate’s war drama Midway stayed at No. 3 on the disc chart and slid to No. 5 on the digital chart.

The week’s top new-release on Redbox’s charts was Universal’s Queen & Slim, which was No. 4 on the disc chart and No. 3 on the digital chart.

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Another new release, Universal’s Dark Waters, debuted at No. 2 on the digital chart and No. 8 on the disc chart.

Fox’s racing drama Ford v Ferrari stayed at No. 5 on Redbox’s kiosk disc rental and dropped to No. 4 on the On Demand chart.

Top DVD and Blu-ray Disc Rentals, Redbox Kiosks, Week Ended March 8:

  1. Frozen II — Disney
  2. Knives Out — Lionsgate
  3. Midway (2019) — Lionsgate
  4. Queen & Slim — Universal
  5. Ford v Ferrari — Fox
  6. 21 Bridges — Universal
  7. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood — Sony Pictures
  8. Dark Waters — Universal
  9. Playing With Fire — Paramount
  10. Joker — Warner

 

Top Digital, Redbox On Demand, Week Ended March 8:

  1. Knives Out — Lionsgate
  2. Dark Waters — Universal
  3. Queen & Slim — Universal
  4. Ford v Ferrari — Fox
  5. Midway (2019) — Lionsgate
  6. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood — Sony Pictures
  7. 21 Bridges — Universal
  8. Zombieland: Double Tap — Sony Pictures
  9. Joker — Warner
  10. Playing With Fire — Paramount

 

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‘Frozen II’ Dominates Disc Sales

The Disney animated hit Frozen II dominated home video sales the week ended Feb. 29, topping both NPD VideoScan’s First Alert chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales, and the dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart.

The sequel to 2013’s Frozen earned $477.1 million at the domestic box office and $1.45 billion worldwide, making it the highest-grossing non-photorealistic animated film of all time. The first film spent nine weeks as the No. 1 seller when it hit disc in 2014, including eight consecutive weeks upon its debut.

Lionsgate’s Knives Out debuted at No. 2, selling about 14% as many copies as Frozen II. The murder mystery from writer-director Rian Johnson earned $164.8 million at the domestic box office.

The previous week’s top seller, the war film Midway from Lionsgate, slipped to No. 3 on both charts in its second week.

Also in its second week, the Mr. Rogers docudrama A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood fell to No. 4 on both charts.

No. 5 on both charts was the racing drama Ford v Ferrari, from Disney-owned 20th Century Fox.

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Blu-ray Disc formats accounted for 78% of total unit sales for Frozen II, with 9% of its overall tally coming from the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray edition. For Knives Out, 66% of its total came from Blu-ray, with 17% of its total from 4K Ultra HD.

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On the Media Play News rental chart for the week ended March 1, Knives Out took the top spot, with Frozen II at No. 2.

Midway dropped to No. 3, while Universal Pictures’ 21 Bridges took No. 4, and Ford v Ferrari was No. 5.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 2-29-20
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 3-1-20
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 2-29-20
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 2-29-20
Sales Report for Week Ended 2-29-20
Digital Sales Snapshot for Week Ended 3-2-20

‘Knives Out’ Cuts to No. 1 on Redbox Charts

Lionsgate’s Knives Out debuted in the No. 1 spot on Redbox’s kiosk disc rental and On Demand charts the week ended March 1.

The Redbox disc rental chart tracks DVD and Blu-ray Disc rentals at the company’s more than 40,000 red kiosks. The Redbox On Demand chart tracks digital transactions, including both electronic sellthrough and streaming rentals.

Another newcomer, Disney’s Frozen II, bowed at No. 2 on the disc rental chart. Redbox doesn’t offer Disney titles through its On Demand service.

The previous week’s top title on both charts, Lionsgate’s war drama Midway, slipped to No. 3 on the disc chart and No. 2 on the digital chart.

Universal Pictures’ 21 Bridges slid to No. 4 on the disc rental chart and stayed No. 4 on the digital chart.

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Fox’s racing drama Ford v Ferrari dropped to No. 5 on Redbox’s kiosk disc rental and No. 3 on the On Demand chart.

Sony Pictures’ Mr. Rogers docudrama A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood dropped to No. 6 on the disc chart and No. 5 on the digital chart.

Top DVD and Blu-ray Disc Rentals, Redbox Kiosks, Week Ended March 1:

  1. Knives Out — Lionsgate
  2. Frozen II — Disney
  3. Midway (2019) — Lionsgate
  4. 21 Bridges — Universal
  5. Ford v Ferrari — Fox
  6. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood — Sony Pictures
  7. Playing With Fire — Paramount
  8. Joker — Warner
  9. Doctor Sleep — Warner
  10. Jojo Rabbit — Fox

 

Top Digital, Redbox On Demand, Week Ended March 1:

  1. Knives Out — Lionsgate
  2. Midway (2019) — Lionsgate
  3. Ford v Ferrari — Fox
  4. 21 Bridges — Universal
  5. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood — Sony Pictures
  6. Playing With Fire — Paramount
  7. Joker — Warner
  8. Jojo Rabbit — Fox
  9. Zombieland: Double Tap — Sony Pictures
  10. Harriet — Universal

 

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Merchandising: A Flurry of Options for ‘Frozen II’ and ‘Knives Out’

Retailers lined up exclusives for two big Feb. 25 home video releases: Disney’s Frozen II and Lionsgate’s Knives Out.

For Frozen II, Target offered a couple of exclusives. First was a limited-edition 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack containing a filmmaker gallery and storybook, at $34.99.

Target’s ‘Frozen II’ 4K Blu-ray with storybook
Target’s ‘Frozen II’ 4K box art

The other was a Blu-ray Disc double feature of the two “Frozen” movies, at $39.99.

Best Buy offered a 4K Ultra HD Steelbook of Frozen II for $34.99.

Best Buy’s ‘Frozen II’ Steelbook

Walmart’s Frozen II 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray had a slipcover with exclusive box art, and the combo pack came with two exclusive Vudu digital bonus featurettes, “Frozen Fashion” and “Olaf: Older and Wiser.” The set is listed online at $32.96 but some stores had it for $29.96.

Walmart’s ‘Frozen II’ 4K Blu-ray

For Knives Out, had the Blu-ray for $19.99 packed with a copy of the unpublished novel mentioned in the movie.

Target’s ‘Knives Out’ Blu-ray with bonus booklet

Best Buy had a 4K Ultra HD Steelbook of Knives Out for $29.99.

Best Buy’s ‘Knives Out’ Steelbook

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Lionsgate Ups Q3 Motion Picture Segment Profit; Streaming Video Costs

Liongate’s motion picture group, which includes home entertainment, Feb. 6 reported third-quarter (ended Dec. 31, 2019) operating income of $49 million, which was up 12.5% from operating income of $43.5 million in the previous-year period.

Revenue increased 30% to $474 million from $362.6 million during the previous-year period. The studio attributed much of the gain to the box office success Knives Out, which is expected to top $300 million at the worldwide box office, as well as the continued outsized ancillary home entertainment performance of John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum.

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Knives Out, which features an ensemble cast, has generated more than $294 million at the global box office since launching Nov. 27, 2019.

Separately, Keanu Reeves actioner, John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum, finished 2019 as the ninth best-selling DVD/Blu-ray Disc release according to VideoScan tracking data.

“Our Motion Picture Group turned in a strong performance in the quarter,” CEO Jon Feltheimer said in a statement.

At the same time, Lionsgate continues to push over-the-top video distribution — specifically Starz and StarzPlay internationally. The streaming services ended the period with more than 8.6 million subscribers. The company has projected StarzPlay international subscriber growth from 15 million to 25 million over the next five years.

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The legacy pay-TV businesses Starz, StarzPlay Arabia and Pantaya reached 28.5 million subs in the quarter. The overall global total reflected an increase of 2.1 million subscribers, up 8% year-over-year. Total domestic Starz subs declined 1.2 million year-over-year to 24.1 million.

Rollout of StarzPlay International and Starz OTT continue to balloon costs and negatively impact the bottom line. StarzPlay posted a segment operating loss of nearly $40 million, while streaming services lost $9.8 million. Both units lost a combined $5.8 million in the previous-year period.