Lionsgate Heroes Get Dads Into Action for Father’s Day

Lionsgate has an army of heroes ready to ramp up the action for dads on Father’s Day, June 21. The studio’s catalog is filled with classics that feature iconic characters, including Rambo, John Wick and the Highlander; the genre’s top directors, including James Cameron, Paul Verhoeven and Roland Emmerich; and the genre’s biggest stars, including Sylvester Stallone, Keanu Reeves, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis and many more.

All five installments in the saga of Sylvester Stallone’s John Rambo are available on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital from Lionsgate. In First Blood (1982), Stallone originates the role of the war hero, an ex-Green Beret haunted by memories of Vietnam. In Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985), with a screenplay by Stallone and James Cameron (Titanic), Rambo’s survival skills are tested on a top-secret mission that takes him back to the jungles of Vietnam in search of American POWs. In Rambo III (1988), the veteran has finally begun to find inner peace inside a monastery — until his friend and men-tor Col. Sam Trautman (Richard Crenna) shows up to ask for his help on a top-secret mission in Afghanistan. Rambo (2008) finds the hero leading a group of battle-scarred, combat-hardened mercenaries on a mission to rescue aid workers in war-torn Burma. Finally, Rambo: Last Blood, billed as the last chapter of Rambo’s story, finds Stallone’s tortured warrior in a brief moment of relative peace before he must unearth his ruthless combat skills to exact revenge in a final mission.

Lionsgate’s catalog also includes the saga of another hero driven by vengeance, John Wick. Keanu Reeves stars as Wick in three chapters available on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital. In John Wick (2014), the ex-hitman comes out of retirement to hunt down the gangsters that killed his dog and took everything from him. The sequel John Wick: Chapter 2 finds Wick returning to the criminal underworld to repay a debt with a large bounty on his life. In John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum, Wick has a $14 million price tag on his head after killing a member of the High Table, the shadowy international assassins’ guild.

No action catalog is complete without Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Lionsgate has two of his iconic movies, Terminator 2, available on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital, and Total Recall, available on Blu-ray plus Digital HD, DVD and Digital. In the science-fiction classic Total Recall (1990), directed by Paul Verhoeven, Schwarzenegger plays a mild-mannered construction worker who takes a virtual vacation and finds himself embroiled in espionage on Mars unable to determine if the experiences are real. Director James Cameron’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) has the action star in another sci-fi classic, reprising his role as a robotic killing machine — this time on the side of humans Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and her son John (Edward Furlong).

Another classic 1990s action film, Universal Soldier, is available on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital from Lionsgate. The Roland Emmerich-directed science-fiction actioner (1992) pits Jean-Claude Van Damme against Dolph Lundgren in a story of military experiments gone wrong.

Lionsgate has two star-studded ensembles in 2010’s RED and The Expendables. RED, on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital, stars Bruce Willis as a former black-ops agent who reassembles his old team to battle an assassin. It also stars Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman and Mary-Louise Parker. Boasting a who’s who of action stars, The Expendables features Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren and many more in the story of a CIA operative who hires a team of mercenaries to eliminate a Latin dictator and a renegade CIA agent. It features an appearance by Schwarzenegger and is also available on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital.

Government intrigue also figures into Sicario, about an idealistic FBI agent enlisted by a task force to aid in a drug war at the border. Available on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital, the 2015 dramatic action film stars Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro.

Finally, Lionsgate’s catalog features action-filled adventures Cutthroat Island (1995) and Highlander (1986). Directed by Renny Harlin, Cutthroat Island, available on Blu-ray and DVD, stars Geena Davis as a pirate racing against rivals to find a hidden island harboring treasure. Highlander, also available on Blu-ray and DVD, stars Christopher Lambert as an immortal Scottish swordsman battling through time.

Lionsgate’s Silent Workhorse: Home Entertainment

NEWS ANALYSIS — To hear Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer on the recent fiscal call, the studio/distributor is pushing aggressively into the over-the-top video market via Starz and positioning itself as a major supplier of original television content.

While the longtime executive gave a shoutout to home entertainment for generating a record $600 million in catalog revenue for the fiscal year ended March 31, Feltheimer didn’t elaborate further on DVD/Blu-ray Disc and digital movies’ outsized impact on the company’s motion picture segment revenue — other than to mention Lionsgate’s penchant for “creating and owning iconic IP with tremendous evergreen value.”

Indeed, Lionsgate sold about $257 million in packaged-media product in the fiscal year, down about $500,000 from 2019. Disc sales of major feature movies increased nearly 43% to $154.8 million from $108.4 million in the previous-year period.

Packaged media/digital movies represented 42.2% of the motion picture segment’s $1.67 billion revenue for the year — twice the percentage of theatrical, according to Lionsgate’s 10K fiscal filing released May 27.  The tally is up 14.1% from revenue of $1.46 billion in fiscal 2019. The motion picture group represented 43% of Lionsgate’s consolidated revenue for FY 2020.

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Lionsgate packaged-media releases are distributed in North America by Disney-owned 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, and by Lionsgate U.K. internationally.

Lionsgate said it shipped 45 million combined DVD/Blu-ray Disc units in fiscal 2020, ranking sixth among all studios. In the 2019 calendar year, the studio held 9% market share in home entertainment, including a box office-to-home entertainment conversion rate 25% above the industry average.

Box office-to-home entertainment conversion rate is calculated as the ratio of the total of both first cycle DVD release revenue and total digital platform revenue for a theatrical release compared to the total North American revenue from such theatrical release.

Top-selling discs in the fiscal year included theatrical releases Cold Pursuit, Tyler Perry’s Madea Family Funeral, Rambo: Last Blood and Midway.

Bruce Willis Starrer ‘Survive the Night’ on Disc July 21

Lionsgate will release the home invasion thriller Survive the Night on Blu-ray Disc and DVD July 21. The film is currently available on demand. The Blu-ray edition will include a digital copy.

Bruce Willis and Chad Michael Murray star in the film about a disgraced doctor (Murray) and his family who are held hostage at their home by criminals who seek immediate medical attention after a botched robbery. For the family to survive the night, the doctor must team up with his father (Willis), a retired sheriff, to turn the tables on the criminals.

The cast also includes Shea Buckner, Tyler Jon Olson, Lydia Hull, Riley Wolfe Rach, Jassica Abrams, Sara Lynn Holbrook and Jef Holbrook.

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Lionsgate Eyeing Consumer-Direct Movie Option While Pledging Loyalty to Theatrical

With studios increasing distribution of select titles direct to consumers in the home while theaters remain largely shuttered worldwide, Lionsgate has dabbled in the PVOD window, releasing I Still Believe to consumers just weeks after its March 12 theatrical debut.

On a May 21 fiscal call, Joe Drake, chairman of the Lionsgate Motion Picture Group, was asked if the studio would consider distributing titles directly rather than through third-party platforms such as iTunes, Google Play, Vudu and Amazon, among others.

Drake, who said Lionsgate remains bullish on the theatrical business model, said the D2C concept, like a lot of the distribution status-quo during the COVID-19 pandemic, is being analyzed and tweaked, while remaining in solidarity with the theatrical window.

“One of the things [Lionsgate] prides itself on is being flexible and agile,” Drake said. “We still believe theatrical is a big driver of our business, and will continue to play aggressively in that space.”

Lionsgate’s first theatrical release is slated for Aug. 21 with horror film Antebellum.

At the same time, the executive said that when the studio sees an opportunity for distributing a movie direct to the consumer, it won’t hesitate. Drake didn’t directly answer whether that would include bypassing existing transactional VOD platforms in favor of Starz or another proprietary platform.

Lionsgate currently releases about 30 movies a year through digital channels, a strategy Drake said the studio would expand, but not at the expense of exhibition partners.

“I don’t think any company has done a better job exploiting niches and opportunities with audiences, and we’ll continue to do that,” he said.

Separately, Lionsgate said it is actively working with credit card companies such as American Express to include free Starz OTT service as part of a promotion. The studio/distributor currently has a Redbox promotion by which new Starz subscribers get nine free one-day kiosk disc rentals at a $5 monthly fee for 90 days.

“We think some of [those] consumer bases [with Redbox] overlap. We think there’s a great partnership there. We’ll continue to talk to almost anybody,” said Kevin Beggs, chairman of Lionsgate Television Group.

Lionsgate expects to generate upwards of 15 million combined Starz OTT, StarzPlay, Spanish-language Pantaya and StarzArabia subscribers by the end of the fiscal year. It ended the quarter with 10 million.

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.

‘Force of Nature’ Arrives on Disc and Digital June 30

Lionsgate will release the action thriller Force of Nature on Blu-ray Disc, DVD, digital sellthrough and VOD June 30.

The film finds a disgraced cop (Emile Hirsch), a doctor (Kate Bosworth) and a retired detective (Mel Gibson) teaming up to battle a murderous gang of thieves while trying to evacuate an apartment building during a brutal hurricane.

The cast also includes David Zayas, Stephanie Cayo and Will Catlett.

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Lionsgate’s ‘Think Like a Dog’ Due on Disc and Digital June 9

Lionsgate will release the family comedy Think Like a Dog on Blu-ray Disc, DVD, digital sellthrough and VOD June 9.

The film follows 12-year-old Oliver (Gabriel Bateman), a tech prodigy whose middle-school science fair experiment goes awry, creating a telepathic connection between him and his dog, Henry. The cast also includes Josh Duhamel and Megan Fox as his parents, plus Kunal Nayyar, Julia Jones, Janet Montgomery and Bryan Callen.

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The home video edition includes audio commentary by writer-director Gil Junger and an “Anything is Paw-sible: Making Think Like a Dog” featurette.

Power Marketing 2020: Home Entertainment’s Top Campaigns and the People Behind Them

Welcome to Media Play News’ second annual Power Marketing special report. Once again, we are profiling the campaigns behind some of the year’s top-selling disc and digital home releases — and the marketing executives and teams that made them happen.

See photos of the top marketing campaigns here.

The main feature and profiles can also be found here in the digital edition of our latest issue:

The following list also includes more Power Campaign profiles we couldn’t fit in our print issue:

The Power Campaigns

Avengers: Endgame — Disney Media Distribution

Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Endgame, the climactic conclusion to an 11-year cinematic journey, became the fastest-selling digital title in history in large part due to the efforts of the Disney in-home marketing team. Avengers: Endgame has also sold the second-highest number of digital units in home entertainment history.

Disney reports that preorders for Avengers: Endgame “were off the charts” leading up to its July 2019 digital release and August physical street dates after the in-home team kicked off an aggressive pre-sell marketing push with significant paid media and retail support just weeks after the film’s theatrical release. Leading up to launch, Disney had a robust presence at San Diego Comic-Con International with an in-home trailer debut, talent signings, press interviews and the IMDb Boat fan stunt to announce to fans the “We Love You 3000 Tour.”

The successful tour served as a thank you celebration to the fans and incorporated retail, talent and filmmaker participation. Fans lined up days in advance for the tour, which made stops in nine cities — Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, Miami, New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Minneapolis and Cleveland — resulting in 75 million impressions and 5 million active social engagements.

The media in-home team leveraged excitement around the film and created a three-day countdown with roadblocks across broadcast networks, live sports (NFL and MLB) and digital media to drive digital and physical sales.

Digital in-home marketing also partnered with celebrity dads on YouTube and Instagram to create the ultimate Avengers: Endgame movie night for kids. The campaign also collaborated with one of The Overwatch League’s top e-sports teams, the San Francisco Shock, on a one-month branded takeover that included banners on players‘ Twitch live-streams, branded game-day banners, custom themed videos and social media header takeovers.

Jumanji: The Next Level — Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

With more than $796 million in global box office earnings and predecessor Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle having broken box office and home entertainment records, the Sony Pictures Home Entertainment marketing team, led by Lexine Wong, was challenged to once again find breakthrough strategies to over-perform in a competitive post-holiday landscape.

After evaluating early social listening and data analytics, the team set to work creating all-new creative content inspired by fan chatter. A mock tourism ad, amplified on social media by cast members including Nick Jonas, Karen Gillan, Danny Glover and Ser’Darius Blain, invited consumers to journey to Jumanji, kicking off the home entertainment campaign.

As the release date neared, characters portrayed by Karen Gillan and Jack Black inspired shareable digital content — a mock trailer titled “Ruby Roundhouse: Killer of Men” and a standout Shelly Oberon/Jack Black music mash-up. The three videos generated 1.7 million views collectively, and inspired passionate fan reaction. Viewers on YouTube compared Ruby Roundhouse to their favorite comic book heroines, while users on TikTok were inspired to create their own videos using the mash-up video’s soundtrack.

To drive excitement for the product and incentivize purchase, Sony Pictures created an interactive augmented reality experience utilizing a map of Jumanji that was included in DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD products. The AR activation provided consumers with up to 10 minutes of all-new gameplay — the most extensive AR execution ever seen in a home entertainment release. Working with Walmart and two promotional partners, the team created an unprecedented, interactive, store-wide program, anchored by this custom AR experience, accessible via QR code on multiple touchpoints in and out-of-category. The initiative was supported by a marketing and influencer program that generated more than 800 million impressions.

Industry firsts also extended to the paid media campaign, which included the first-ever WWE game night integration for a film property, entailing custom content with WWE talent. Meanwhile, the publicity team took press and influencers on a Jumanji adventure inspired by the memorable ostrich chase scene from the film. Participants traveled to Solvang, Calif., alongside stars Madison Iseman, Morgan Turner and Rhys Darby to tour Ostrich Land USA, race dune buggies on Pismo Beach and take part in a truly unique press junket experience.

The reach of the campaign was amplified heavily by the massive social footprint of the cast, including Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart, who both supported efforts throughout. Johnson and Hart’s social channels alone contributed to nearly 3 million views of branded content promoting the release. The film raced to the top of the charts, overperforming and exceeding sales expectations.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World — Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

For the 2019 home entertainment release of How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, Universal’s global marketing team piloted a multi-dimensional campaign that ignited awareness around the world and helped lead to the film’s standout success across digital and physical formats. Traditional promotional tactics were augmented by marketing innovations spanning bonus content, publicity, social media, retail and other high-profile partnerships.

On the content front, Universal struck a global partnership with famed wildlife YouTube personality and host of “Brave Wilderness” Coyote Peterson to create exclusive film-themed bonus content that was leveraged across all formats as well as via the vastly popular channel. Separately, special custom-animated pieces with voice actor Kit Harington (Eret) were produced to further drive excitement for the release.

The publicity team assembled a global press event in Flåm, Norway, highlighting notable themes and locations from within the film. Accompanied by the movie’s lead voice actor, Jay Baruchel, and writer-director Dean DeBlois, Universal invited journalists and influencers around the world to travel to and experience the Hidden World, resulting in comprehensive press and social media coverage that generated millions of impressions for the home entertainment release. Additionally, the film was showcased at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival in France, with a special screening and fan/press Q&A with DeBlois.

Universal also collaborated with Deviant Art, the world’s largest online social community for artists and art enthusiasts, to launch a global custom art contest for fans of the franchise joined by the filmmakers, which ultimately generated more than 60 million impressions.

A special collaboration with Facebook Messenger extended a theatrically launched augmented-reality game into the home entertainment window. Accessed through an in-package insert, consumers were able to unlock new exclusive dragons. Universal further built upon the highly engaged AR experience by partnering with Walmart for an exclusive in-store AR experience to let the dragon fly. The release was also the first animated title to ever take over Amazon’s 4K store. In another digital first, the title was the first-ever movie title to receive placement on the games page of Google Play.

Finally, the campaign was supported by expansive national promotional partnerships with Popeye’s and Dippin’ Dots.

Friends — Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (TV)

With a year-long, multi-phase marketing and publicity campaign, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (WBHE) elevated sales of the popular sitcom “Friends” to new heights. The series remains the top-selling series across the entire home entertainment industry.

Beginning in July 2019, WBHE leveraged the series’ announced exit from Netflix, coupled with Warner Bros. Television’s global outreach, to drive new home entertainment distribution and promotions for the hit series in three key windows: Friends Week (July 30 – Aug. 4); Series Premiere 25th Anniversary (Sept. 22); and Friendsgiving/Q4 holiday (November/December).

Continuous retail promotions, timed with strategic beats, propelled strong consumer purchases across both digital and physical SKUs. The series ended 2019 as the top-selling off-air series in the home entertainment industry.

Following the series’ SVOD exit in January 2020, WBHE accelerated marketing efforts with an extensive integrated media campaign designed to drive awareness of sole transactional ownership availability via:

  • Heavily-trafficked “Friends” and WBHE social channels (more than 36 million reach) to connect directly with avid fans, highlighting specific retail purchase opportunities and leveraging fan-engagement opportunities;
  • Promotional partnerships with brands and networks including a WB-prizing sweepstakes promotion on TBS geared to core fans during TV Sweeps Month (May 2019) and crossover partnerships with consumer brands such as demographically-appealing Jones Soda, among others;
  • A comprehensive publicity campaign that has garnered more than 81 million impressions to date; and
  • A digital and linear advertising campaign beginning in February and continuing through the second quarter.

Marketing initiatives also featured the global refreshing of both digital and physical key art packaging for all 10 seasons, repackaging the “Friends” complete-series boxed set on Blu-ray and DVD, and the launch of two new digital compilations, “The One with the Guest Stars” Vol. 1 & 2. WBHE Japan and WBHE France also launched newly repackaged complete-series disc sets to great success.

John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum — Lionsgate

To promote the release of John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum, the Lionsgate home entertainment marketing team mounted an aggressive 360-degree campaign aimed at activating core audiences for the “John Wick” franchise, motivating consumers to engage in a piece of the “John Wick” world, and driving physical and digital sales of the latest film, which earned more than $171 million at the domestic box office. The team executed this campaign through three phases: a media blitz, strategic tactics to engage audiences through unique creative and fan-focused activations, and saturating the marketplace with high-volume media and extensive retail placements to drive sales.

To keep the franchise at the top of consumer minds through the lifecycle windows and to promote the home release of John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum, Lionsgate marketers executed a 12-stop cross-country road show in partnership with Best Buy stores and NASCAR. The road show featured John Wick’s classic Mustang, his motorcycle from the latest film, and props from all three movies. Consumers got up close and immersed themselves in the world of “Wick” through a photo op and branded premium items. Lionsgate gathered consumer data in order to retarget them for future “Wick” content.

Then, when John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum was readied for retail release, the Lionsgate team created exclusive editions for key retailers — four Steelbooks for Target, Best Buy (the new release plus a triple feature with all three films in the franchise) and Walmart; two mini-Steelbooks for digital release at Best Buy and Game Stop; and exclusive gifts-with-purchase for Walmart (JW3 with a black Adjudicator coin; the triple-feature with a Sophia Oath marker).

Lionsgate marketers also created a unique home entertainment trailer and exclusive TV spots that won them five Clio Entertainment Awards.

Lionsgate engaged Reddit users through a competition to caption stills from the film with what the infamous dogs were thinking. Top up-voted posts received silver, gold and platinum coins. Lionsgate also communicated with fans through a franchise text program, giving them access to content before it was released; drove deep into the world of “Wick” on social media by tapping into fan-favorite moments; created a four-part “in world” Web series, called “Truth Serum,” to engage fans; and launched a John Wick Hex game integration.

The publicity team, meanwhile, tapped director Chad Stahelski and co-stars Lance Reddick and Marc Dacascos to support the release through interviews and a themed press day leading to custom content. Remaining talent supported the release on social media with custom-made graphics.

Rocketman — Paramount Home Entertainment

Befitting the film’s larger-than-life subject, Paramount executed a multi-faceted marketing campaign for the epic musical celebration Rocketman. The team embraced the movie’s fantastical take on Elton John’s extraordinary life with a wide range of creative activities targeting cinephiles, music enthusiasts, the LGBTQ community, Elton John fans and general audiences.

A highly collectible release with extensive bonus content was augmented with multiple retail exclusives and in-store promotions. Capitalizing on Elton John’s enthusiasm for the film, Paramount’s marketing team enlisted the legendary performer to write a special message included in a booklet with the 4K and Blu-ray Combo Packs, and also heavily cross-promoted the film during John’s farewell concert tour and memoir release. In addition, a media campaign incorporating television, radio, print and digital advertising included targeted promotions such as a “Live Like a Rockstar” television sweepstakes and a month-long promotion with the Hard Rock Café, Hotel & Casino.

Digital activations included Rocketman-inspired influencer art, a piano app cross-promotion, virtual costume tours, and multiple debuts of exclusive footage from the bonus content.

The campaign culminated with two major events that generated widespread domestic and international publicity: a Rocketman-themed night at Dodger Stadium commemorating John’s historic concert there in 1975 featuring appearances by lyricist Bernie Taupin and actor Jamie Bell (who portrayed Taupin in the film), and a global press event and junket in London with director Dexter Fletcher, music producer Giles Martin, and costumer designer Julian Day.

The team’s combined efforts resulted in Rocketman blasting off on home entertainment platforms and becoming one of the most talked-about films of the year.

The Wizard of Oz 4K Ultra HD — Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

To celebrate the 80th anniversary year and the brand-new 4K UHD remaster and release of the iconic film The Wizard of Oz, Jessica Schell and her Warner Bros. Home Entertainment team conducted a press day at Warner Bros.’ Motion Picture Imaging (MPI) to highlight the technology that went into remastering the beloved classic.

Media outlets, bloggers and social media influencers were invited to the WB lot to tour MPI’s facilities and interview key players in the process, including colorist Janet Wilson, who has overseen every remaster of the film for the past 20 years. Using state-of-the-art technology, a new 8K 16bit scan of the original Technicolor camera negative became the basis for the 4K UHD scan, and guests were shown side-by-side comparisons of the new version of the film along with scenes from the original theatrical print and previous home entertainment versions. Other stops on the tour included the rarely-seen cold storage vault and negative scanning room. Guests were also able to take a picture with an original Technicolor three-strip camera from 1932 that was loaned to WB for the event.

The release campaign for the 80th anniversary-year of The Wizard of Oz kicked off in January with exclusive Fathom screenings across the country. Additionally, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment partnered with WB’s theatrical exhibition team and Dolby to create a new Dolby Vison remaster of the film for a week-long theatrical engagement timed to the film’s October home entertainment release, which included a special screening for press, bloggers and social media influencers.

Other campaign activities included a photo “selfie” tour featuring an eight-foot Ruby Slipper that visited high-visibility locations including Madame Tussauds in Hollywood, LA Live for a Los Angeles Lakers game, and the popular West Hollywood Halloween Carnival; a free Web-based augmented reality experience triggered by consumer assets such as product packaging and the home entertainment trailer; a Google partnership that displayed unique graphics and sounds triggered by searching “Wizard of Oz”; and support from Turner Classic Movies (TCM), which aired the documentary The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: 50 Years of Magic and provided digital and social media support.

Ford v Ferrari — Disney Media Distribution

The in-home marketing team for 20th Century Studios’ Ford v Ferrari set their sights on dynamic pre-sell tactics and a launch campaign targeting males 25 and up as well as racing enthusiasts. The film wound up raking in digital and physical sales nearly 50% above its initial goal.

The key ingredient to the campaign’s success was engaging and connecting with the core racing community by creating fan experiences nationwide, kicking off “The Perfect Lap Tour” at Daytona Motor Speedway with “pit” stops in Phoenix, Los Angeles, Chicago and Las Vegas. The tour engaged racing’s passionate fanbase by featuring meet-and-greets with the film’s stunt drivers, showcasing the real cars used during production and offering a pit crew experience. Using car enthusiast influencers also resulted in better-than-expected social impressions, video views and engagements with consumers across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

In-home marketing also timed media ahead of the Academy Awards to support Ford v Ferrari’s four Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, by encouraging consumers to catch up on nominees with “Watch Before the Awards” spots. The team also ran media in live sports and late-night to target the core male demo. Additionally, digital marketing partnered with The Infatuation to create a thematic foodie program. Utilizing American versus Italian themes featured in the films, a custom video called “Delivery Showdown” movie night was created to determine which food delivery service could deliver the fastest.

Frozen II — Disney Media Distribution

Leading up to the in-home release of Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Frozen II, the highest-grossing animated film of all time at the box office, the Disney marketing team crafted a comprehensive campaign to bolster awareness and consumer engagement. Frozen II experienced a significant boost in preorders, using targeted paid media and retailer support, right out of the gate.

For the February launch, Disney in-home marketing executed a multifaceted approach creating a “Frozen Weekend” with themed content, kid and parent influencer activations, and paid and organic social media impressions. In addition, Disney secured innovative partnership programs enlisting top brands including Drybar, FIDM, GoNoodle, So Yummy and Sparkling Ice to reach key audiences. In collaboration with creative marketing, publicity rolled out five days of bonus content debuts with top consumer-facing print, online and broadcast outlets.

Disney in-home marketing was also able to strategically leverage the film’s timely Oscar nomination for Best Original Song for “Into the Unknown,” as well as Idina Menzel’s acclaimed performance of the breakout hit featuring all the Elsas from around the world, to drive additional in-home digital and physical sales.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood — Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

The campaign for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was the result of seven months of collaboration between multiple divisions of Sony Pictures Entertainment, including home entertainment marketing, theatrical marketing, awards specialists, television distribution and exhibitor relations. With the film’s remarkable pedigree and Oscar buzz, the Sony Pictures Home entertainment marketing team, led by Lexine Wong, was able to take advantage of key award season milestones to create breakthrough marketing moments for consumers.

The campaign began during the film’s theatrical release, when the home entertainment team worked closely with global television distribution to produce “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Quentin Tarantino Present the Swinging Sixties,” a series of conversations between the acclaimed director and film historian Kim Morgan, discussing 10 films from the Columbia Pictures library that inspired director Quentin Tarantino’s newest film. Content was distributed to Sony Pictures Television’s networks in more than 60 territories and other partners around the world to promote the theatrical release and highlight the studio’s catalog titles. Digital retailers supported this concept by launching their own movie weeks, highlighting the same films leading into the digital release of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

To appeal to film collectors and eventize the first-ever release of a Tarantino film in 4K, the team worked ahead to manufacture a limited collector’s edition that would be worthy of the movie’s rich pop culture sensibilities. Custom packaging celebrating the characters contained the 4K Ultra HD film and bonus discs, plus a seven-inch vinyl record with two of the soundtrack’s songs (complete with turntable adapter), a collectible vintage poster for the in-world film Operazione Dyn-o-mite! and an exclusive Mad Magazine parody of the main character Rick Dalton’s TV Series, “Bounty Law.” Other exclusive gift-with-purchase offerings helped secure premium retail placement at major retailers, including “Rick Dalton” movie poster cards available at Walmart, a vintage-style film magazine with never-before-seen production photos available at Target, and a collectible Steelbook at Best Buy.

The team announced details of the home entertainment release and the collector’s edition in tandem with an October theatrical re-release, which helped to heighten awareness of the title and tease additional scenes that would be available for home entertainment consumers.

With a December home release date set, the home entertainment marketing team worked in lock-step with the studio’s awards team, ensuring consistent positioning in creative materials and efficient marketing spends across paid media efforts and digital marketing initiatives. Publicity efforts benefited from increased editorial demand for awards season content and generated a total of more than 193 million estimated impressions across creative activations including an immersive press day (with a bus tour of key filming locations, one-on-one time with production talent, a look at the film’s iconic costumes and a high-adrenaline stunt demonstration), an in-world mailer inducting press into the Rick Dalton fan club, and a star-studded home entertainment release party at old-Hollywood staple Musso & Frank Grill. Digital marketing helped cement the title as a collector must-have by highlighting the various available configurations in unboxing videos with key influencers.

The long tail of awards season helped keep the film relevant and consistently top of mind for consumers far past the release date through extended media flights and editorial drafting. By capitalizing on awards season and launching innovative and exciting marketing tactics, the film exceeded sales expectations and was named Media Play News’ Title of the Year.


The Power Marketers

Jeff Brown, EVP and GM, Television, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
For more than 23 years, Jeff Brown has been an instrumental member of the Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (WBHE) team. Brown’s team manages all digital and physical WarnerMedia television content, including WBTV, HBO, Turner and WB Animation, for both new-release and catalog on a global basis. The content lineup includes live-action TV series, non-theatrical family and animation programming, third-party partner relationships such as BBC, and development of original movies for the home entertainment market. In recent years, under Brown’s tenure, WBHE has achieved No. 1 TV distributor share; five years of television transactional share growth; the No. 1 made-for-video slate, including Media Play News’ top direct-to-video for 2019, Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; leadership in TV digital, with innovation in lifecycle pricing and promotion; implementation of new customer acquisition strategies and adherence to data-driven analytics; and leadership in “collection” offerings, including “Game of Thrones,” “The Big Bang Theory” and “Friends” complete-series sets. Year to date, digital sellthrough catalog sales for WBTV are up more than 100% from what they were a year ago.

Brown has paced WB’s television digital efforts for high-profile series as well as for evergreen animation brands. Brown further expanded WB’s success with an unprecedented expansion into made-for-video content, particularly with the ever-successful DC Universe line — which currently has more than 45 animated movies and shorts, and counting!

Early in his career, Brown was an instrumental member of the Warner Bros. team that led the DVD/Blu-ray revolution. He was later based in London as Warner Bros.’ head of EMEA where he helped engineer the company’s adaptation of a global franchise marketing planning process, resulting in historic sales milestones. He then moved back to the United States and assumed responsibility of WBHE’s television business unit.

Before joining WBHE in 1996, Brown worked in marketing management for General Mills and Nestle, as well as operating as GM /owner of two successful entrepreneurial ventures.

 Hilary J. Hoffman, EVP, Global Marketing, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Hilary Hoffman oversees strategic marketing and business strategy for Universal Pictures and its distributed lines worldwide across new-release, catalog and TV properties for both physical and digital. Hoffman has consistently shown a knack for leveraging creativity, data and intuition to craft marketing plans for the home release of some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters and franchises. With an eye on maximizing revenue, she defines go-to-market consumer strategies and the overall approach for consumer engagement, both through traditional media and through new platforms and technologies. Hoffman and her team focus on the complete packaged-goods and digital product lifecycle.

David Kite, SVP, Distribution Marketing, Disney Media Distribution
Kite oversees global marketing for the in-home release of studio and TV content distributed by The Walt Disney Studios and Walt Disney Television. He is responsible for the global in-home release calendar of new-release and catalog titles across physical and digital retailers, overall creative product strategy, linear and digital marketing and customer relationship management that drive sales, ownership and consumption of the company’s content. This includes the creation and implementation of all creative marketing and bonus materials. With nearly 20 years of experience at The Walt Disney Company, Kite has held leading roles in digital marketing, product management and distribution strategy. He joined Disney in 2002 as executive producer of the studio’s Moviebeam video-on-demand service, which launched the following year.

Vincent Marçais, EVP, Worldwide Marketing, Paramount Home Entertainment
Marçais has served as EVP of worldwide marketing for Paramount Home Entertainment for just over two years, overseeing brand, creative, media, customer marketing, international marketing and consumer research for all of the studio’s home entertainment releases on physical and digital. He reports to Bob Buchi, president of Paramount Home Entertainment.

Marçais previously served as EVP of worldwide brand and customer marketing for 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. In this role he oversaw the release campaigns for all transactional businesses (video-on-demand, DVD, Blu-ray Disc and Digital HD) and also managed joint consumer marketing efforts with digital retailers and U.S. and international operators. During his tenure Marçais was a key driver of the division’s transformation from a pure physical distribution company into a digital new media company. His marketing savvy helped spur sales to consumers of such films as The Martian, Joy, Brooklyn, and the “X-Men,” “Ice Age” and “Planet of the Apes” franchises.

Marçais began his career with French car manufacturer Citroën and joined Fox Video France in 1991, where he held numerous marketing and sales positions. From 2002 to 2006 he served as Fox’s VP of marketing for the European home entertainment operation. Marçais relocated to Los Angeles in 2006 to serve as SVP of international marketing for Fox and became EVP of worldwide brand and consumer marketing in 2012.

Amelia Rogers, SVP, Marketing, Home Entertainment and Digital Distribution, and Tom Gundred, SVP and Head of Worldwide Creative Marketing — Television, Home Entertainment and Digital Distribution, Lionsgate
Amelia McPartlon Rogers oversees overall marketing strategy, publicity, social media, research and paid media initiatives across all Lionsgate home entertainment and digital platforms. She leads her teams to develop a full 360-degree marketing strategy for the entire limited theatrical and multiplatform release slate; traditional 4K, Blu-ray Disc, DVD and digital releases of Lionsgate and Starz films and television programming; as well as the company’s third-party distribution companies.

Tom Gundred oversees worldwide creative marketing for Lionsgate’s television, home entertainment and digital distribution business. He directs the creative execution of the marketing strategy for limited theatrical and multiplatform release as well as the traditional 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray Disc, DVD and digital releases of Lionsgate and Starz films and television programming. He and his team develop award-winning AV, print, digital and social media creative materials in support of properties such as the recently released ArkansasI Still Believe and “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist.” In addition, he oversees and directs development of creative for sales and marketing materials for international and domestic markets such as MIPCOM and NATPE for Lionsgate’s international television sales team.

Jessica Schell, EVP and GM, Film, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Schell joined Warner Bros. in 2014 and has global responsibility for all operations related to the physical and digital sales, marketing, creative, distribution, finance and administrative functions of the studio’s film home entertainment releases, including new theatrical titles and catalog. Schell has been successful in combining traditional marketing strategies with her extensive background in digital marketing and new media to create cutting-edge campaigns for such titles as Wonder Woman, Aquaman, It, Ready Player One, Crazy Rich Asians, American Sniper and the “Lego” franchise, driving both digital and physical sales. Schell also identifies and engages new technology marketing opportunities and platforms for the studio’s home entertainment offerings, including virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality.

Schell oversees the continued growth of WBHE’s Blu-ray Disc business, and also manages the growing market for 4K UHD Blu-ray titles, including the top-performing 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner, The Matrix Trilogy and The Dark Knight Trilogy. She has been instrumental in the continued growth of the digital transaction business, including electronic sellthrough and VOD. During her tenure, Warner Bros. has been the No. 1 home entertainment theatrical studio with a 17% share, the No. 1 home entertainment theatrical catalog studio with a 20% share, and the No. 1 home entertainment physical 4K studio with a 22% share, with consumers spending more than $100 million in combined sellthrough and rental sales of WB 4K theatrical product.

Prior to joining Warner, Schell spent nine years at NBC Universal, most recently serving as EVP of worldwide new media and digital entertainment for Universal Pictures.

Lexine Wong, Senior EVP, Worldwide Marketing, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Wong leads Sony Pictures Television Distribution’s Global Home Entertainment marketing team and is charged with delivering breakthrough marketing campaigns across a wide range of product from Sony Pictures Entertainment’s studio labels and television series, with the goal of driving consumer engagement, transactions and viewership throughout the product’s lifecycle. Specific areas of oversight include consumer and brand strategy, creative advertising, media and digital, PR and strategic partnerships, content development and new product development for burgeoning business opportunities. Wong’s focus is on providing value and measurable impact for end consumers through entertaining, shareable and highly interactive experiences across all channels. Wong’s insights-driven marketing strategy is the foundation for product development and continued marketing innovation around new platforms critical for growth in the industry, such as Movies Anywhere, augmented reality, 4K UHD and other direct-to-consumer digital offerings.

With more than 25 years in advertising and consumer marketing, Wong began her career at Young & Rubicam before joining what would become Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, where she rose to EVP of worldwide marketing in 2001 and her present position in 2006. Under her direction, Wong’s team has been responsible for recent breakthrough marketing campaigns including Spider-Man: Far From Home, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Zombieland: Double Tap, Jumanji: The Next Level, Little Women, Bloodshot and Bad Boys for Life.

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The Power Teams


Erin Carter, SVP, Integrated Marketing, focuses on partnerships, catalog marketing, research and retail marketing.

Kathy Arendain, VP, Creative — Digital, runs social media and digital creative teams.

Aaron Gershman, VP, Creative — Art, oversees key art development and print creative.

Shannon Parker, VP, Creative — AV, oversees trailers, media spots and AV creative development.

Tiffany Olivares, VP, Publicity and Digital Engagement, runs publicity campaigns for limited theatrical and multiplatform releases.

Hallie Prince, VP, Integrated Marketing, oversees marketing for third-party partners and multi-platform releases.

Paramount Home Entertainment

Michele Bell, SVP, Worldwide Creative Services, is responsible for all of the division’s creative advertising materials.

Brenda Ciccone, SVP, Worldwide Publicity & Communications, oversees all publicity and corporate communications for the division on a global basis.

Melinda Froelich, SVP, International Marketing, is responsible for international marketing, advertising, public relations, promotions and release strategy.

Hilarie Hildebrandt, SVP, Customer Marketing, focuses on executing consumer-focused programs with each retail client.

Dina Marovich, SVP, Worldwide Media & Interactive Marketing, oversees all media planning and buying for the division.

Rozita Tolouey, SVP, Brand Marketing, drives the division’s global marketing strategies for new releases and acquisitions.

Leda Chang, VP, Digital Marketing, drives interactive initiatives.

Jacqueline Gustafson, VP, Home Media Content, supervises bonus material strategies.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Jennifer Anderson, SVP, Marketing, is responsible for leading the strategic development and execution of brand marketing and creative for all SPHE new-release and catalog business. She oversees a cross-functional team including brand and product marketing, promotions and creative advertising.

Jane Mohon, SVP, Marketing Services, is responsible for data-driven consumer strategy overseeing digital and social media marketing, traditional and digital media planning and buying as well as publicity. She finds synergies across paid, owned and earned media by connecting the dots among consumer activation opportunities.

Joe Burg, VP, Content Development, leads a team of content producers in the ideation and production of original content spanning home entertainment and downstream distribution windows. Burg also serves as lead producer on new technology initiatives.

Gregg Shack, VP, Creative Advertising, guides the team’s creative strategy, developing key art, print and audio-visual assets for ad campaigns.

Jana Simmons, VP, TV & Customer Marketing, partners with the commercial teams and customers to develop marketing programs for all of SPHE’s transactional retail partners.

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Pam Blum, SVP, UPHE Marketing, oversees creative marketing services and the development of value-added content for UPHE’s releases on a worldwide basis.

Lea Porteneuve, SVP, Global Publicity & Communications, oversees global business, technology and executive communications for UPHE, spearheading all strategic publicity initiatives in support of the studio’s digital and physical home entertainment offerings.

Jeff Ackermann, SVP, Global Brand Marketing, spearheads global strategic marketing, product development and management of new-release titles from Universal Pictures and the studio’s extensive catalog library.

Denise Haro, SVP, Global Consumer Insights & Strategy, oversees business insights, marketing data analytics, and UPHE’s consumer insights and research with a focus on aligning global commercial strategy around product, window, messaging and innovation.

Sandy Choi, SVP, Brand Marketing, North America Partnerships, manages the North American third-party partners, which include developing marketing campaigns for partner releases across both physical and digital platforms and leading the cross-functional team that oversees the overall management of partner relationships.

Stephanie Lutjens, VP, Global Brand Marketing, leads global strategic marketing, product development and management of family new-release, Focus Features, distribution partner eOne and TV, in addition to managing worldwide home entertainment promotions.

Joe Eibert, VP, Digital Marketing, leads digital marketing strategic planning and execution for UPHE releases.

Nadia Haney, VP, Global Marketing, Emerging Technology, is responsible for consumer-focused global strategic marketing for emerging formats.

Ted Chi, VP, Digital Marketing Strategy, is responsible for establishing and leading the strategy and execution of marketing for the Digital Distribution group.

Kelly Harrington, VP, Global Brand Marketing, Catalog, TV, 1440 Productions & Licensing, leads global strategic marketing and management of UPHE catalog releases, TV, Universal 1440 Productions originals, and commercial marketing for licensing.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

Kristina Fugate, SVP, Marketing, Film, handles all theatrical new-release and catalog brand marketing efforts across disc and digital platforms, which also includes creative advertising, franchise lifecycle management and global strategy.

Chris Baldwin, SVP, Worldwide Promotions & Partnerships, oversees all global promotions and partnerships for WBHE, including new-release, catalog, TV, family and animation titles.

Jack Walker, SVP, Media & Digital Marketing, oversees all media and digital marketing for WBHE, including new-release, catalog, TV, family and animation, and games. Walker reports to Jessica Schell and Jeff Brown.

Emily Zalenski, SVP, Worldwide Publicity, Film, oversees worldwide publicity, events and experiential marketing efforts for new-release and catalog titles. She also manages corporate communications for WBHE.

Nicole Coleman, SVP, Trade Marketing and Sales Integration, oversees the theatrical catalog P&L for the home entertainment group across the physical and digital retail landscape, and also leads trade marketing and sales planning for both physical and digital film and television content.

Laura Lupinetti, VP, Film Trade Marketing, is responsible for driving go-to-market strategy for WBHE’s new-release and catalog businesses, curating content and price variability to maximize sales and placement across various retail windows.

Rosemary Markson, SVP, TV Marketing, leads global marketing for Warner Bros. and HBO TV content across all transactional platforms, with responsibility for strategy development, product management, consumer marketing and business planning for current on-air series and library/catalog content.

Mary Ellen Thomas, SVP, Originals, Animation & Family Marketing, oversees product development and marketing for animated and live-action originals, episodic animation, Turner, and portfolio brands (Peanuts, Dr. Seuss, Viz Media and WWE).

Melissa Hufjay, VP, Worldwide Publicity, Television, oversees worldwide publicity, events and Con presence for all television, family, animation and live-action/animated originals.

Zandra Palmer, VP, Trade Marketing, provides strategic direction to field sales and brand marketing teams in the development of effective retail programs across all distribution platforms in North America, both physical and digital, to achieve or exceed financial objectives.

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Digital Retailer Campaigns

Two retail campaigns also are being highlighted.

Redbox’s ongoing “Dinner & A Movie” campaign, which launched last summer, is taking on added relevancy in light of the novel coronavirus pandemic and governmental stay-at-home mandates.

The campaign is aimed at getting consumers to watch a movie from Redbox, either rented at a kiosk or streamed online, while enjoying a takeout meal at home. The ongoing campaign has included partnerships, promotions, social media and PR campaigns. The first promotion kicked off in June 2019 with DoorDash to give customers up to three free Redbox movie night rentals (at the Box or On Demand) when they sign up for DoorDash.

Last August, Redbox said its latest customer surveys found that 72% of Redbox customers paired their movie night with a full meal, and 50% grabbed a snack or treat during their film.

Ash ElDifrawi, chief marketing and customer experience officer of Redbox, told Media Play News last year something that rings especially true today: “Simple things, nostalgic things, like dinner and a movie, can really bring us together … It’s about purposefully carving out time for shared experiences.”

FandangoNow, the on-demand streaming service from Fandango, also has an ongoing campaign called “FandangoNow Flashbacks,” focusing on iconic movie anniversaries.

In partnership with studios, FandangoNow leverages its catalog of more than 100,000 titles to bring entertainment fans beloved catalog movies celebrating key cinematic anniversaries. The most successful campaign within the Flashbacks program was the 80th anniversary of the iconic “Batman” character. To generate excitement about this milestone for the superhero franchise, the FandangoNow CRM team distributed email communications to fans, featuring creative trivia questions and exclusive deals for fans.

Further demonstrating the success of the Flashbacks program, FandangoNow has found that fans rent or purchase other related titles within the Flashbacks program after watching the anniversary title.

The campaign is being driven by Loran Helin, senior merchandising director, and Rebecca Black, senior merchandising manager. They help oversee the sales and marketing relationships of several film and television studios, and create and execute promotional programs and marketing strategies that optimize revenue growth, customer acquisition and customer retention.

Tragedy Tests Faith in ‘I Still Believe’

Love and faith are tested in I Still Believe, the true story of Christian music star Jeremy Camp and his first wife, Melissa.

In the film, Camp’s search for his artistic voice leads him to professional success and the love of his life, but his faith is put to the test when tragedy strikes. It stars K.J. Apa as Camp and Britt Robertson as Melissa. Directed by Jon Erwin and Andrew Erwin, the film was written by Jon Erwin and Jon Gunn and is produced by Kevin Downes and the Erwins.

I Still Believe became available on premium VOD March 27 and on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital May 5.

“It’s a really authentic story that shows young love going through some of the big-gest challenges that you can imagine,” says Andy Erwin in the extras.

At the heart of the story is Camp’s first love, Melissa, who fights cancer with the support of her husband and her Christian faith.

“The impact that she had on his life was so profound that it ended up launching this platform for his worldwide music ministry,” says Downes.

“She wanted to have the courage to endure something that would change people,” adds Robertson.

Camp expresses his faith and his love for Melissa through music, and to tell his story, Apa worked with music producers to hone his voice before filming.

“We had decided early on that we didn’t want to imitate Jeremy,” says Andy Erwin.

“The music that we had, that Jeremy wrote, we kind of made it our own,” adds Apa.

The result is a soundtrack that fans will enjoy, say filmmakers.

“I think fans of Jeremy Camp will hear something familiar but really unexpected as K.J. kind of reinterprets what Jeremy’s music is to him,” says Andy Erwin.

Camp wrote the song “I Still Believe” to reaffirm his faith and bare his soul. Singer-songwriter Shania Twain, who plays Camp’s mother, identifies with his songwriting dilemma.

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“You’re contemplating, ‘Do I share this intimacy or don’t I?,’” she says in the extras. “Jeremy felt it was more important to share.”

“He writes this beautiful song that begins his journey toward true healing,” adds Gary Sinise, who portrays Camp’s father.

The Erwins had Sinise in mind when they wrote the part.

“To have him on set I think everybody just raised their game,” says Jon Erwin.

Among the extras is a conversation between Camp and fellow Christian music star Bart Millard of MercyMe, the subject of Kingdom’s previous film I Can Only Imagine. They compare notes on their biopics and contemplate how their stories have inspired the world.

“Millions have been ministered to because of this,” Camp says.

Extras on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Include:

  • Audio Commentary with Andy and Jon Erwin
  • “Origin” featurette
  • “Casting” featurette “Music” featurette
  • “Music” featurette
  • “Bart & Jeremy” featurette
  • Deleted Scenes


Kingdom and Lionsgate: A Royally Successful Wedding

It was a great first date — the release of I Can Only Imagine— that was the genesis of the partnership between Kingdom Story Company and Lionsgate.

The origin tale about the Christian music breakout hit had been in “development hell,” notes Kingdom president Josh Walsh.

“At the time we didn’t really have a lot of street cred,” he says.

The filmmakers privately financed and independently produced the film and found a distribution partner in Lionsgate.

“Lionsgate really saw something in it, and took a chance to distribute it,” Walsh recalls.

The film went on to earn more than $17 million its opening weekend and tally $86 million worldwide for its theatrical run — and it spawned a marriage between Lionsgate and Kingdom — led by filmmakers Jon and Andy Erwin, Kevin Downes and Tony Young.

“Jon and Andy said, ‘We want to build a company, not to do one film here and there, but build a collective of artists to do something bigger than just a movie every couple of years,’” Walsh recalls. “[Lionsgate Motion Picture Group Chairman] Joe Drake really bought into that vision and supported it in a big way. And that would become the Kingdom-Lionsgate partnership, and we’ve had an amazing partnership thus far.”

This year’s follow-up to Lionsgate sister company Roadside Attractions’ I Can Only Imagine, the film I Still Believe is the first product of that union, and like the couple in the film, the movie had to weather hardship.

After it earned a promising $10 million at the box office its opening weekend, I Still Believe ended its theatrical run as the nation’s movie theaters closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The film would have to use a relatively new form of distribution, premium VOD, to continue to find an audience.

“As filmmakers, we are heart-broken that we can’t share I Still Believe on a big screen the way we intended,” stated filmmakers Jon and Andy Erwin at the time. “We make movies because we love movies and we stand firmly behind the nation’s theater chains, from the largest circuits to the smallest mom-and-pop indies that have been so dramatically affected by these unprecedented closures. But the safety of guests comes first, and we’re proud to have the opportunity to share online a movie whose inspiring message of love, hope and faith is perfect for these uncertain times.”

Lionsgate released I Still Believe on PVOD March 27, just weeks after its March 12 theatrical opening.

“We’re thankful for our exhibition partners for being understanding, and we’re thankful to Lionsgate for being innovative,” Walsh says. “We were really surprised and thankful with how that premium window went. We know it’s just new territory for the whole industry, so we are thankful for the audience that has showed up.”

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He notes Lionsgate’s marketing team turned on a dime to boost the new distribution strategy.

“With its loyal and passionate fan base and an uplifting message of hope for these uncertain times, it made perfect sense to shift gears and release I Still Believe in the premium video-on-demand space,” says Lionsgate worldwide home entertainment president Ron Schwartz. “We trust Kingdom to deliver quality films and they trust our ability to take full advantage of the marketplace. While we can hardly wait to return to theaters when it’s time, we’re pleased that our home entertainment marketing, operations and creative teams could pivot quickly to ensure that I Still Believe reached its audience, and we expect its strong performance to continue through its traditional home entertainment window as well.”

Walsh also looks forward to the disc release of the film, noting that the home entertainment window is “a big one” for Kingdom’s content — inspirational stories of faith and patriotism.

“With the premium VOD window, we learned the audience is still there and wants to see it,” he says. “I think in the next window of home entertainment, there’ll be an even bigger audience — so we’re excited.”

HBO Max Orders Adult Animated Series With Seth Rogen and Sarah Silverman

HBO Max has ordered the adult animated series “Santa Inc.” from Lionsgate, featuring voice performances by Sarah Silverman and Seth Rogen.

The eight-episode, half-hour series will be written by showrunner Alexandra Rushfield (Shrill) and will be produced by Rogen’s Point Grey Pictures as part of their multiplatform partnership with Lionsgate.

“Santa Inc.” is the story of Candy Smalls (Silverman), the highest-ranking female elf in the North Pole. When the successor to Santa Claus (Rogen) is poached by Amazon on Christmas Eve, Candy goes for her ultimate dream — to become the first woman Santa Claus in the history of Christmas.

“I have long dreamed of a taking a beloved holiday tradition and adding a feminist agenda and some ‘R’-rated comedy and when I read this script from Ali, with Seth and Sarah attached to voice, I knew that it was a perfect fit for us at Max.” Suzanna Makkos, EVP of original comedy and animation for HBO Max, said in a statement.

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“Sarah and Seth are the perfect comedy duo for this empowering and very funny animated series shepherded by the hysterical Alexandra Rushfield,” said Lionsgate head of scripted development Scott Herbst in a statement. “We look forward to diving into the world of animation with our Point Grey partners, and to bring the holidays to HBO Max in a totally unexpected and fresh way.”