Disney Delays Theatrical ‘Black Widow’ Release to May 2021; Exhibitor Stocks Drop

In another blow to the beleaguered exhibitor business, Walt Disney Studios Sept. 23 announced it would delay the planned Marvel Studios’ Black Widow actioner theatrical release, starring Scarlett Johansson, to May 2021 from the previous Nov. 6 launch date.

Disney is also delaying by 12 months a reboot of West Side Story from director Steven Spielberg to Dec. 1o, 2021, and Kenneth Branagh’s Death on the Nile, a sequel to 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express, to Dec. 18 from Oct. 23.

The moves by the box office’s perennial leader represent another dagger in the heart of exhibitors looking to jumpstart the moviegoing consumer from the coronavirus pandemic shutdown — albeit without much content. While 70% of domestic screens have re-opened with social distancing and mask requirements, many analysts predict 2020 will achieve a record low at the box office with revenue down more than 80% from 2019.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Warner Bros.’ Tenet, which was supposed to bring consumers back to theaters, has generated about $250 million at the box office, mostly overseas. Domestic ticket sales have wilted from the Christopher Nolan-directed thriller’s opening $20 million weekend over Labor Day to a cumulative tally around $36 million.

Eric Handler with MKM Partners says the sluggish domestic box office is in part due to ongoing theater closures in California and New York.

Tenet’s U.S. results definitely showed us that middle America cannot carry a tentpole film. You need the coasts,” Handler wrote in a note.

With no COVID-19 vaccine ready for consumption, Michael Pachter, media analyst with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, says consumers remain leery.

“People may be eager to visit the theaters once they feel safe doing so, but we think it is unlikely crowds will return to any semblance of normal before a vaccine is widely distributed, particularly in urban and suburban markets,” Pachter wrote in note earlier this year.

Indeed, the latest delays sent exhibitor stocks into a tailspin, with AMC Entertainment down 5.5%; Cinemark down 4.1%; Imax down 5.6%; Marcus (-3%); Reading International (-0.9%) and National CineMedia down 0.9% in midday trading.

ABC TV’s Commercial-Free Broadcast of ‘Black Panther’ Tribute to Late Actor Chadwick Boseman Generated 6 Million Views

Disney-owned ABC Television’s commercial-free Sunday night (Aug. 30) broadcast of Marvel Studios’ Black Panther following actor Chadwick Boseman’s death on Aug. 28 after a lengthy battle against colon cancer, generated more than 6 million viewers — tops among all networks.

The subsequent tribute, “Chadwick Boseman: A Tribute for a King” generated 4.7 million viewers. The program featured numerous Black Panther co-stars, Marvel Studios CEO Kevin Feige and Disney executive chairman Bob Iger, among others.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“He was having this immense success, in a strata of his own, humble hardworking, always smile on his face,” actor Robert Downey Jr., who plays Iron-Man in the Avengers franchise, said about Boseman. Downey called Black Panther “the crowning achievement” of the Marvel cinematic universe.

‘Black Panther’ Star Chadwick Boseman Dead at 43

Actor Chadwick Boseman, who generated acclaim for his portrayal of strong black characters and the lead in Disney/Marvel Studios’ groundbreaking Black Panther, died Aug. 28 at age 43 after a lengthy battle against colon cancer.

Boseman died at his home surrounded by his wife and family, according to a statement by his publicist Nicki Fioravante on social media. The actor had been diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016, which had worsened to stage IV.

“It is with immeasurable grief that we confirm the passing of Chadwick Boseman,” the statement read. “A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much. From Marshall to Da 5 Bloods, August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and several more, all were filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy.”

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Boseman is most well-known for playing King T’Challa in Marvel Studios’ 2018 superhero movie Black Panther, which went on to win three Oscars and generate more than $1.347 billion at the global box office. The movie was the top-grossing release of the year, besting Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War, Pixar’s Incredibles 2 and Universal Pictures’ Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Boseman originated the role in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, and reprised it in Infinity War and 2019’s Avengers: Endgame, the latter becoming the highest-grossing box office film of all time (unadjusted for inflation).

His performance in Black Panther earned an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture, and a Screen Actors Guild Award as part of the ensemble for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. He also won MTV Movie Awards for Best Performance in a Movie and Best Hero.

Follow us on Instagram

Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson in ’42.’

Boseman first came to mainstream attention playing Jackie Robinson in the 2013 film 42, which depicted the civil rights icon’s breaking of the Major League Baseball color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Coincidentally, the MLB had been celebrating Aug. 28 as Jackie Robinson Day, marking the day in 1945 Dodgers GM Branch Rickey told Robinson he was being prepped for integrating the league (baseball’s usual Jackie Robinson Day to mark his MLB debut on April 15 was wiped out this year when the league delayed starting its season as a result of the coronavirus pandemic).

Aug. 28 is also the birthday of Black Panther co-creator Jack Kirby.

TNT to Air Network Premiere of Marvel Studios’ ‘Avengers: Infinity War’

WarnerMedia’s TNT will air the network television premiere of Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Infinity War on June 27. There will be an encore presentation on June 28 as a part of TNT’s “Big Ticket Movies” content promotion.

To further “eventize” the broadcasts, TNT is promoting a sweepstakes where 20 winners will receive a copy of the Avengers: Infinity War soundtrack on vinyl and a Crosley record player to be provided by Disney Music Emporium and Crosley Brands.

Follow us on Instagram

In Infinity War, Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk and the rest of the Avengers unite to battle their most powerful enemy yet — the evil Thanos. On a mission to collect all six Infinity Stones, Thanos plans to use the artifacts to inflict his twisted will on reality. The fate of the planet and existence itself has never been more uncertain as everything the Avengers have fought for has led up to this moment.

The 2018 release generated more than $2 billion at the global box office, including $679 million domestically.

TNT, TBS, and truTV Airing ‘Black Panther,’ ‘Just Mercy’ Special Combo Event to Promote Social Justice

In an affort to continue dialog on social justice, WarnerMedia’s TNT, TBS, and truTV June 19 are partnering for a special one-night-only on-air broadcast of critically acclaimed movies, Disney/Marvel Studios’ Black Panther and Warner Bros. Pictures’ Just Mercy, along with reflections from distinguished guests about the personal impact these films had on their lives and the culture.

With limited commercial interruption, Black Panther, which won three Oscars in 2019, will air at 7 p.m., followed by Just Mercy.

Host Anthony Anderson (“Black-ish”) will be joined by guests, including Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative (whom Just Mercy is based on), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and CNN’s W. Kamau Bell. Additionally, Andra Day will perform her Grammy-nominated song “Rise Up.”

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Reginald Hudlin, who wrote for the “Black Panther” graphic novel series, serves as executive producer of the special content, along with executive producer Phil Gurin and co-executive producer Byron Phillips.

In Black Panther, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns home to the hidden high-tech African nation of Wakanda to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king, following the death of his father. But when a man named Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) appears, T’Challa’s mettle as king — and Black Panther — is tested when he’s drawn into a formidable conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. Pitted against his own family, the king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and embrace his future as an Avenger.

Follow us on Instagram

Just Mercy is based on the thought-provoking true story of young lawyer Bryan Stevenson (Jordan) and his history-making battle for justice. After graduating from Harvard, Bryan had his pick of lucrative jobs. Instead, he heads to Alabama to defend those wrongly condemned or who were not afforded proper representation, with the support of local advocate Eva Ansley (Brie Larson). One of his first, and most incendiary, cases is that of Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx), who, in 1987, was sentenced to die for the notorious murder of an 18-year-old girl, despite a preponderance of evidence proving his innocence and the fact that the main testimony against him came from a criminal with a motive to lie. In the years that follow, Bryan becomes embroiled in a labyrinth of legal and political maneuverings, as well as overt and unabashed racism as he fights for Walter, and others like him, with the odds — and the system — stacked against them.

Entertainment One Inks Deal With Former Marvel Exec Jeremy Latcham

Entertainment One has entered into a first-look agreement with producer and former Marvel Studios executive Jeremy Latcham.

Hasbro recently acquired eOne.

The first project announced under the deal is a film for “Dungeons & Dragons,” which is managed by Wizards of the Coast, a Hasbro subsidiary that also manages “Magic: The Gathering.” Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley are attached to write and direct the film, which is co-produced by eOne, Hasbro’s global entertainment studio, and Paramount. This film marks the first project for eOne with Paramount since eOne’s acquisition by Hasbro.

“Jeremy is a massively talented producer with a track record of creating true-to-brand films with size and scope that resonate with audiences and excel on a global scale,” Nick Meyer, eOne president of film, said in a statement. “In our exciting new era with Hasbro, we’re thrilled to begin this new partnership and look forward to sharing the amazing projects that are to come.”

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“Nick and the entire eOne team have welcomed me into the fold with open arms,” Latcham said in a statement. “Hasbro’s incredibly rich library of beloved brands in addition to the opportunity to develop original material makes for a very exciting next step for me as a creative producer. My passion for telling stories steeped in heart, humor and spectacle aligns with D&D’s decades of immersive, adventure-driven storytelling, and I am beyond excited to help John and Jonathan, eOne, Paramount, and Wizards of the Coast bring this rich world to filmgoing audiences.”

Follow us on Instagram

Latcham most recently produced 2018’s Bad Times at the El Royale. Previously, Latcham spent 13 years at Marvel Studios, where he executive produced Spider-Man: Homecoming, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Guardians of the Galaxy and The Avengers. Latcham was the associate producer on Iron Man and co-producer on Iron Man 2.

Hasbro’s additional film properties include the “Transformers” and “G.I. Joe” film franchises.

Disney+ Bows YouTube Clip Showcasing 2020 Content

SVOD service Disney+ Jan. 1 launched a social media blitz offering a sneak peak into coming content in 2020.

“New year, new stories — and some familiar ones!,” the service tweeted. From Toy Story 4 and Aladdin to “Lizzie McGuire” and Marvel Studios’ WandaVision, here’s a look at the blockbusters and originals coming to #DisneyPlus in 2020.

Follow us on Instagram

The service launched on Nov. 12 reportedly has more than 15 million registered users — many of whom using third-party promotions such as 12 months free service to any Verizon subscriber.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Disney+ includes content from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic.

The promotion for new programming comes as the service hopes to retain subscribers following the end of the first season of “The Mandalorian.” Several “Star Wars” fans took to Twitter the final week of the year vowing to cancel their service until the second season debuts in the fall.

Disney’s Record $10B Global Box Office Suggests Rosy Home Entertainment Future

Walt Disney Studios set a record $10 billion in worldwide box office ticket sales through Dec. 8 with current theatrical hit Frozen II — a notable milestone achieved without a “Star Wars” movie or breakout 20th Century Fox title.

Disney in July broke its previous $7.6 billion box office haul. Fox Studios’ theatrical titles topped $2 billion at the box office.

For home entertainment, Disney’s fiscal largess is a gift that keeps on giving despite ongoing consumer migration toward over-the-top video distribution.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Disney titles have historically performed well in sales of DVD and Blu-ray Disc, and more recently in digital sellthrough as well. Despite launching a branded SVOD platform featuring original movies, Disney will continue to stream new releases after their retail window.

And that’s a no brainer when looking at recent movie sales.

Follow us on Instagram

Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Endgame is the top-selling disc in 2019, according to VideoScan. Captain Marvel, Bohemian Rhapsody (Fox), Toy Story 4 and Aladdin all rank among the top 10 this year.

It’s a trend Disney Home Entertainment has driven the past four years.

In 2016, Disney led all studios at retail disc sales with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, supported by Pixar’s Finding Dory, Zootopia and Captain America: Civil War.

The next year Disney again topped retail disc sales with Moana and Beauty and the Beast.

In 2018, Disney home entertainment outdid itself, spearheaded by Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Coco and Thor: Ragnarok.

Last November, CEO Bob Iger Iger gave a shout out to home entertainment — his first in years — which he said continued to deliver strong retail results in the face of OTT.  At the time Iger suggested there was ongoing internal strategy about putting theatrical content into retail channels sooner.

“The home video window continues to be quite important to us,” he said. “You’ll likely see us protect that as well, although there’s going to be discussion around whether there’s an opportunity to move product into that window maybe a little sooner.”

To date, Disney’s 90-day theatrical window remains largely intact.

 

 

 

Merchandising: Mixed Reviews for Best Buy’s ‘Infinity Saga’ Set

Best Buy Nov. 15 released its exclusive The Infinity Saga collection of the first 23 Marvel Cinematic Universe films, from Iron Man to Avengers: Endgame. The pricey set included the films in both Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, plus digital codes for each, in collectible display packaging and an exclusive bonus disc with never-before-seen deleted scenes from several of the Marvel films.

Limited to about 4,000 units available at $549.99 each, the collector’s set quickly sold out, with copies showing up on secondary markets such as eBay commanding asking prices well above $1,000. Some online reviews of the set, however, indicated poor quality control both in the assembly of the set and the shipping of it, with reports of damaged boxes and missing movies. The discs themselves come in paper sleeves, with some reviewers reporting glue from the packaging seeping onto the discs.

It should also be noted that the set does not include the 3D versions of any movies that had been released on disc in 3D, and extra bonus discs from the earlier movies also were not included.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Dec. 3 Best Buy had a piece of another massive collector’s set, that being Fox’s The Simpsons: The Complete Seasons 1-20 Limited Edition. The 79-DVD set (no Blu-ray, even though some of the seasons were released in the HD format) was reportedly limited to a run of just 1,000 units, with copies available through Best Buy, Amazon and Walmart. Each retailer’s website had the boxed set listed for a $499.99 sale price the day prior to its official street date.

The 19th season, which aired in 2007 and 2008, also arrived on DVD for the first time Dec. 3, completing the run of the first 20 seasons. The show is currently in its 31st. Fox in 2015 announced it wasn’t releasing any more “Simpsons” DVDs, at a point when it had released discs of just seasons one through 17 and season 20. Season 18 was released on DVD in 2017 following fan demand for more discs.

Based on the producers’ statements in 2015, and rumors swirling that Disney may end the series (which it purchased as part of its acquisition of the 20th Century Fox studio and catalog) after 32 or 33 seasons, the next DVD or Blu-ray release of the series could possibly be a complete-series set a few years from now, if such a disc release is even contemplated at all. The first 30 seasons of the series are available for streaming on the new Disney+ service.

Follow us on Instagram!

The biggest disc release of Dec. 3, however, was HBO’s “Game of Thrones” eighth-season and complete-series releases.

For exclusives on the eighth season set, however, HBO committed one of the biggest pet peeves among collectors — splitting exclusive featurettes among different retailers — as opposed to offering a variety of packaging options or pack-on collectibles, with any bonus content consolidated with one retailer so fans who just care about having all the available content aren’t tempted to buy the same release twice just for a few extra minutes of bonus material that isn’t offered anywhere else.

Best Buy “Game of Thrones” season eight exclusive sigil box art

For Game of Thrones: The Complete Eighth Season, Target offered the Blu-ray at $39.99 with an add-on “How the Storm Was Born” featurette, taking a look at the making of the penultimate episode and the razing of King’s Landing.

The featurette was included on a separate disc packed onto the standard season eight case.

Walmart’s exclusive bonus disc with the Blu-ray offered the featurette “From Renderings to Reality: The Visual Effects of Season 8.” The chain had it at $37.96 with the same packaging as Target, a separate thin Blu-ray case packed with the regular season eight Blu-ray, but availability was spotty from store-to-store, with some locations not even bothering to put any of the week’s new titles on shelves even into the evening of Dec. 3.

Interestingly, the VFX featurettes for the first seven seasons are included on the bonus disc with the Game of Thrones: The Complete Series Blu-ray. So fans who buy the complete series and want that final VFX featurette will have to buy a second copy of season eight separately.

Best Buy offered the season-eight Blu-ray with exclusive three-eyed-raven sigil box art for $44.99.

 

Bob Iger: ‘If Steve (Jobs) Were Alive,’ (Disney, Apple) Would be Combined Companies

Pending retirement and 20/20 hindsight can do wonders for the printed page.

With his departure from The Walt Disney Co. set for 2021, CEO Bob Iger has already authored a memoir on his long-running stint heading the world famous brand.

The book, “The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company,” is available everywhere Sept. 23, including Amazon.

In excerpts disclosed on Vanity Fair’s website, Iger delves into his relationship with late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and how he was stunned to find out 10 minutes before announcing Disney’s $7.4 billion acquisition of Pixar in 2006 that Jobs’ cancer had returned.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Iger suggests that had Jobs lived (he died in 2011), he believes — surprisingly — that the two would have facilitated a merger of sorts between Disney and Apple.

It’s an interesting revelation, if not unrealistic considering who Jobs was.

The mercurial executive was a majority shareholder of Pixar and a member of Disney’s board. He was also notoriously self-centered in his vision for Apple and the world revolving around it — not the other way around.

While fighting a return of terminal cancer (despite being one of the richest people on Earth) would cloud anyone’s judgment, when it comes to streaming video and content IP, Jobs’ insolence toward the emerging distribution model and owning content was glaring.

Despite pioneering music, TV show and movie distribution through iTunes, Jobs infamously dismissed Apple TV as a “little hobby,” to be re-evaluated in the distant future.

That attitude contributed to Apple (with more than $200 billion in cash) sitting on the sidelines as Iger-led Disney swooped in to buy Pixar, Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm (Star Wars) — the latter two properties for a combined $8 billion.

Disney has made more than $18 billion on its Marvel investment. The first four Star Wars movies produced by Disney-owned Lucasfilm have already paid for that acquisition. And Pixar’s Toy Story 4 is the fourth film from that studio to top $1 billion at the global box office.

It seems doubtful that had Jobs lived, Apple would have jumped into content ownership. Jobs’ successor Tim Cook has only now decided to push Apple TV into the SVOD ecosystem.

Indeed, Iger, in his book, said Jobs had grown frustrated dealing with the Disney culture and former CEO Michael Eisner.

“Among his many frustrations was a feeling that it was often too difficult to get anything done with Disney,” Iger wrote.

Yet, today Apple has ratcheted up original content, spending Netflix-like billions on programming featuring ‘A’-list talent such as Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon.

The move has generated headlines but comes as Disney, AT&T/WarnerMedia, Comcast and Viacom all bow separate and competing over-the-top video platforms.

Instead of being an innovator as it was with the PC, iTunes, smart phones and tablets, Apple is chasing the competition, a reality noted earlier this year by Netflix’s Ted Sarandos.

“We’ve been competing with 500 channels of cable and penetrated nearly every household in the world for a long time,” Sarandos told the media in March. “So, it’s the same stable of competitors [Apple, Disney, AT&T, Viacom]; just very late to the game.”