‘Ava,’ ‘Antebellum’ Top Vudu, FandangoNow Charts

The actioner Ava topped the Vudu chart while the premium VOD release Antebellum again topped the FandangoNow chart for the week ended Oct. 4.

Both are transactional video-on-demand services owned by Fandango.

Vertical Entertainment’s action film Ava, starring Jessica Chastain, became available for TVOD Sept. 25. It follows a deadly assassin who works for a black ops organization, traveling the globe specializing in high-profile hits. When a job goes wrong, she is forced to fight for her own survival. It came in at No. 2 on the FandangoNow chart.

From Lionsgate and QC Entertainment — the producer of Get Out and Us Antebellum stars Janelle Monáe in a thriller about a successful author who finds herself trapped in a horrifying reality. It fell from No. 1 to No. 2 on the Vudu chart for the week.

Lionsgate’s The Secret: Dare to Dream, which became available for digital sale Sept. 15 after a PVOD run, took the No. 3 spot on the Vudu chart and landed at No. 6 on the FandangoNow chart. The dramatic romance stars Katie Holmes and Josh Lucas and is based on the best-selling book The Secret.

Taking the bronze on the FandangoNow chart and coming in at No. 5 on the Vudu chart was the Magnolia Pictures thriller Alone, about a killer who hunts a widow in the wilderness after she escapes from his remote cabin.

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Vudu’s top 10 titles for the week ended Oct. 4, in terms of revenue, were:

  1. Ava
  2. Antebellum
  3. The Secret: Dare to Dream
  4. Bill & Ted Face the Music
  5. Alone
  6. Hocus Pocus
  7. 2067
  8. Beetlejuice
  9. The Tax Collector
  10. Mama

 

FandangoNow’s top 10 titles for the week ended Oct. 4, in terms of revenue, were:

  1. Antebellum
  2. Ava
  3. Alone
  4. Bill & Ted Face the Music
  5. Then Came You
  6. The Secret: Dare to Dream
  7. Welcome to Sudden Death
  8. Death of Me
  9. The Tax Collector
  10. The King of Staten Island

Magnolia Gerrymandering Doc ‘Slay the Dragon’ Launches Digitally April 3

Magnolia Pictures’ documentary Slay the Dragon, which tackles gerrymandering in the United States, will launch on demand digitally April 3.

The digital release moved up due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Directed by Academy Award nominee Barak Goodman and Emmy Award Nominee Chris Durrance and an official selection of the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival, Slay the Dragon maintains there was a calculated campaign in 2010 to manipulate our electoral system to consolidate political power for the next decade. It alleges that after the 2008 election, a secretive, well-funded partisan initiative poured money into state legislative races in key swing states to gain control of their redistricting processes, and used high-tech analytics to dramatically skew voting maps based on demographic data. Gerrymandering, the practice of redrawing electoral maps to serve the party in power, has been around for centuries. But in today’s hyperpartisan political environment it has been taken to unprecedented extremes, the documentary contends.

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The film also looks at how redistricting affects the political system today, following a handful of citizens groups after the 2016 election.

Discovery Touts Overseas HGTV, Food Network Launches for Driving Revenue Increase

Media giant Discovery Feb. 27 reported fourth-quarter (ended Dec. 31, 2019) revenue increased 2% to $2.8 billion, with U.S. advertising and distribution revenue up 1% and 5%, respectively. International advertising and distribution revenue increased 5% and 10%, respectively.

Discovery’s portfolio of premium brands includes Discovery Channel, HGTV, Food Network, TLC, Investigation Discovery, Travel Channel, MotorTrend, Animal Planet, Science Channel, and the forthcoming multi-platform joint venture with Chip and Joanna Gaines, Magnolia, as well as OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network in the U.S., Discovery Kids in Latin America, and Eurosport, home of the Olympic Games TV broadcast across Europe.

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Specifically, Discovery attributed revenue gains in part to the globalization of domestic media brands HGTV and Food Network. In 2019, HGTV and Food Network launched in more than 30 new countries and territories combined.

Total share of viewing in 2019 for Discovery’s top 10 international markets increased 2%, on average. The company continued to establish foothold across existing and new direct-to-consumer platforms in Europe, including Dplay in 10 markets, TVN Player in Poland, and Joyn in Germany.

Discovery said it was the most-watched pay-TV portfolio in the U.S. among women 25-54 and 18+ for both primetime and total day in 2019. TLC delivered its best year ever globally, improving both international share and viewership by 8%, and in the U.S., TLC was the fastest growing ad-supported cable network among women 25-54 and 18-49, with its best primetime performance in 16 years.

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“2019 was a year of promises made and promises delivered,” CEO David Zaslav said in a statement. “Our differentiated local content strategy and global scale, coupled with our unique free cash flow conversion profile, provide distinct financial flexibility that allows us to adapt to changing media consumption habits.”

 

‘Love, Gilda’ Available on Demand and Digital From Magnolia

(L-R) Tom Schiller, Gilda Radner, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin. (Photo courtesy Magnolia Pictures)

‘Love, Gilda,’ a documentary on the late comedian Gilda Radner, is available now on demand, iTunes and Amazon Prime Video from Magnolia Pictures.

The film is also in theaters.

Director Lisa D’Apolito, working with the Radner estate, unearthed a collection of diaries and personal audio and videotapes documenting Radner’s childhood, her comedy career, her relationships and ultimately, her struggles with cancer. The never-before-seen-or-heard footage and journal entries form the narrative spine of the documentary.

The film features appearances by Andrew Alexander, Anne Beatts, Chevy Chase, Bill Hader, Janis Hirsch, Judy Levy, Melissa McCarthy, Lorne Michaels, Laraine Newman, Marcus O’Hara, Amy Poehler, Michael Radner, Maya Rudolph, Stephen Schwartz, Paul Shaffer, Martin Short, Rosie Shuster, Cecily Strong, Jordan Walker-Perlman, Pam Zakheim and Alan Zweibel.

Indie Suppliers a ‘Blessing’

If you really want to get an idea of how fast the home entertainment industry is changing, talk to any of the independent suppliers who are still going at it, competing with the big studios and their theatrical blockbusters.

As Ringo Starr would say, it don’t come easy.

Studios generally release their films on all the major platforms: Blu-ray Disc, DVD, digital, on demand, and, increasingly, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.

Indies, however, typically have to pick and choose, because just as not all movies warrant a wide theatrical release, when it’s time for them to be sent home some platforms work better than others, depending on the film.

And yet despite the challenges and obstacles, our industry is still blessed with a handful of indie stalwarts, from Cinedigm and Magnolia to Random Media, a film company headed by Eric Doctorow, who from 1983 to 2003 was president of worldwide home entertainment for Paramount Pictures.

I say “blessed” because without indies, home entertainment would consist primarily of big-budget blockbusters already familiar to viewers from their successful theatrical runs.

Independent home entertainment suppliers add variety to the mix. They also give independent filmmakers a chance to find an audience and maybe even make some money so they can continue to produce quality films and documentaries that otherwise might never be made.

And we must never forget that the indies are the ones who built this business. The home entertainment industry might have been launched more than 40 years ago when Andre Blay licensed 50 movies from 20th Century Fox and released them on videocassette under the Magnetic Video banner.

But the industry didn’t begin to grow and prosper until mom-and-pop video rental stores began to spring up all over the country, their growth fueled through the against-the-grain concept of “consumer dissatisfaction.”

Not only were the big studios dead-set against retailers renting their movies to the public, but when the courts ultimately ruled in favor of the retailers Hollywood had a hard time keeping up with the demand. Retailers soon discovered that the public’s appetite for movies was so voracious that if the latest studio hit wasn’t available, they’d be perfectly content with picking up something else. Shrewd mom-and-pops invested heavily in a broad selection of product and purposely limited the copies of the hits they brought in — figuring, correctly, that if customers were immediately “satisfied” with the latest theatrical hit, they’d rent it and leave. But if customers didn’t find what they were looking for, they’d pick up one or two or even three other movies, based on box art, posters or personal recommendations from movie-savvy clerks.

This successful, albeit unconventional, business model collapsed after the big chains got involved. Blockbuster, in particular, figured it could put the little guys out of business by promising consumers guaranteed availability of the latest theatrical hits — failing to realize it was merely sealing its own doom. “Big Blue” ran expensive ad campaigns and built massive “new release” walls packed with the latest theatrical hits.

I am convinced this focus on the hits led to a decline in consumer rental spending and paved the way for DVD, with studios jumping at the chance to sell their movies to consumers instead of rental dealers. Indie product suffered even more: consumers who used to rent three or four movies a week for $10 from the local video rental store were now spending twice that amount to buy the latest theatrical hit at Walmart or Best Buy. Yes, they were digging deeper into their pocketbooks, which made Hollywood very happy. But they were watching fewer movies.

Ultimately, the DVD bubble burst — and we all know the rest.  So thank God for the persevering indies who are keeping the spirit of the business alive – and independent film makers in business.