NATO Says Shorter Theatrical Window Leads to Lower Home Video Revenue

Shorter theatrical windows could lead to lower home video revenues, the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) warns.

The trade group in an April 15 news release cited data from an Ernst & Young study it commissioned that examines the effect of the length of the theatrical window on revenues in the home, in theaters, and overall.

The study found that a 1% longer window between a film’s theatrical opening and its availability for home viewing could boost home video sales by $56,000.

The study comes as studios have been accelerating the home release of films to counter movie theater closures due to the coronavirus pandemic. The most pronounced example was Trolls World Tour, which was released digitally at a premium “rental” price of $19.99 the same day it was supposed to open in theaters.

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NATO warned that such early release patterns should be temporary, until the pandemic subsides and theaters reopen, lest studios leave money on the table.

“With movie theaters shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, studios have accelerated home release for some titles that were already in theatrical release when the industry shut down,” NATO said in the press release. “Without theaters available, the release window was temporarily irrelevant for those movies. These unique circumstances, however, do not signal a change to the theatrical release model.”

NATO noted that three films unreleased at the time of the shutdown were released digitally, directly to home audiences. “Yet the vast majority of theatrical releases scheduled from March through June have been rescheduled for theatrical release — 37 of them, with six more delayed with no set release date — rather than rushed to the home,” NATO said. “Studios clearly believe it is in their financial interest to have exclusive theatrical releases.”

NATO said the findings of the new Ernst & Young study “are significant, as shrinking revenues in the home have put pressure on distributors to find a way to boost the fortunes of a home segment in secular decline. Shrinking the length of the theatrical release window has been the mechanism most often cited as a means to that end. This study finds that shorter release windows not only damage theatrical revenues — as expected — they damage home revenues as well.”

NATO said the study also finds that “without controlling for the influence of other variables, the length of theatrical run is more highly correlated to home sales than to box office sales.”

Total home video transactional revenue slipped 30% between 2012 and 2017, the period of the study, NATO said, citing DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group numbers. “The study finds the average percentage of transactional home revenue to total combined home and theatrical revenue per movie has declined even more — 32% — from 40% to 27% over the same period,” NATO said.

Nielsen: Asia Offers Post COVID-19 Media Snapshot

In the timeline of the coronavirus pandemic, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea were among the first to feel the effects of social distancing and quarantining.

The regions are now the first to see a possible light at the end of the tunnel. Nielsen, which released new data showing that, similarly to the United States, in-home media consumption increased about 60% during the crisis, and from an advertising perspective, brands and agencies will need to both adjust which products are being marketed, as well as the tone in which they’re delivering their messages to consumers.

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During the first three weeks of the pandemic, Taiwan’s TV audience grew by 1 million viewers, for a total viewing population of approximately 21 million. News channels and programs were the primary beneficiaries of the increased penetration, followed by children’s programming.

In Hong Kong, as more consumers stayed home, Nielsen found that TV ratings for all day and all time periods increased by 43% in February compared with the same time period in 2019, while primetime ratings during the same period increased by 44%.

“The impact of COVID-19 is absolutely substantial,” said David Yeung, VP of marketing communications, consumer group, at HKT Limited, said in a statement. “Almost all industries have been badly hit, with lots of closure for retail outlets, restaurants, etc. The key to survival is to adapt to the changing business environment very quickly and to ensure threats are turned into opportunities by tapping into technology and data.”

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While China’s traditional communist-driven social safety nets have been challenged by a rising middle class and increased dependence on commerce with the West, As Zod Fang, head of GroupM Knowledge, GroupM China, said the government is increasing new policies to stimulate the economy and consumer consumption as the region emerges from the pandemic.

“This will lead to greater demand,” Fang said. “Therefore, brands need to get prepared. Work with agencies to have an overall plan including sourcing, logistics, marketing and sales to fully seize the opportunity.”

China did try to jumpstart the domestic theatrical market on March 24 in Shanghai — a move it quickly reversed, shuttering 600 theaters with no explanation given.

The China Film Group, the state-backed distributor that controls all movie release dates in the country, had reportedly planned to re-release box office hits Wolf Warrior 2 and The Wandering Earth, in addition Disney/Marvel The Avengers franchise movies.

All that’s back on hold for now.

Netflix Announces Expanded Korean Content Slate

Netflix March 23 announced a new slate of Korean shows — from reality to crime and sci-fi to romance and dramas, among others. The SVOD pioneer, which has long embraced South Korean content, next month (April 10) will bow the first Korean language original movie, Time to Hunt, since the 2017 release of Okja.

“From K-pop and K-food, to K-zombie and K-content, we’ve seen how much people in different parts of the world love Korean cultures and stories,” Minyoung Kim, VPt of Korean content at Netflix, said in a statement. “By making it easy for people to watch films and shows from other countries, we can help them build empathy and develop a shared understanding of the world”.

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Last year, Netflix’s “Crash Landing on You,” a romance about a couple from the two Koreas (North and South) showed the popularity of K-content making the top 10 list in the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand.

Earlier this month Netflix began streaming the second season of “Kingdom.” The K-zombie series has again become one of the Top 10 titles in almost every Asian country, according to Netflix.

New Content includes police drama “Rugal,” premiering March 28 in Korea/APAC/all English speaking countries/Latin America; and on May 24 in Japan and the rest of the world. Main cast members include Choi Jin-hyuk and Park Sung-woong.

“Extracurricular,” about a group of high school students who have chosen a life of crime,” streams on April 29, starring Kim Dong-hee, Jung Da-bin, Park Joo-hyun.

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“The King: Eternal Monarch” is a romantic fantasy drama that revolves around relationships of the people from two parallel universes. Cast includes Lee Min-ho, Kim Go-eun, Woo Do-hwan, Kim Kyung-nam, Jung Eun-chae.

“It’s Okay to Not Be Okay” is about an unusual romance between two people who end up healing each other’s emotional and psychological wounds. The show premiers in June starring Kim Soo-hyun and Seo Ye-ji, among others.

Netflix series in suspended production include: “Twogether,” featuring two top celebrities from Seoul and Taipei who go on a trip to several cities in Asia to meet their fans and become friends. Cast: Lee Seung-gi, Jasper Liu.

In “The School Nurse Files,” a newly appointed high school nurse discovers secrets and mysteries with her supernatural abilities of chasing ghosts. Cast: Jung Yu-mi, Nam Joo-hyuk.

“Sweet Home,” about a reclusive high school student, moves into an old apartment complex after the tragic death of his entire family. He soon realizes complex residents, including himself, are trapped and surrounded by monsters in various forms of distorted human desires, which are about to sweep away mankind. Cast include Song Kang, Lee Jin-wook, Lee Si-young.

Currently streaming: “Itaewon Class,” about a group of youths, held together by their mutual stubbornness and bravado, start a “cool” revolt against an irrational world.

“Hyena,” about a jaded female lawyer willing to use every last sexy trick in the book to make money, no matter how evil the means can be. Other titles include, “Hi Bye, Mama!,” “Hospital Playlist,” “Kingdom S2” and “My Holo Love.”

 

IMDb: ‘Birds of Prey’, ‘Star Trek: Picard’ Most Anticipated Movie, TV Show in 2020

Online movie/TV database IMDb.com has announced the Top 10 movies and TV shows of 2019, as well as the most anticipated movies and TV shows of 2020.

Rather than base its rankings on statistical samplings or critic reviews, Amazon-owned IMDb determines its list by the actual page views of the more than 200 million monthly visitors to the website. The data is derived from the subscription-based IMDbPro movie and TV rankings, which are updated weekly throughout the year.

IMDb Top 10 Movies of 2019
Joker (Warner Bros.)
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Sony Pictures)
Avengers: Endgame (Disney/Marvel)
Captain Marvel (Disney/Marvel)
It: Chapter Two (Warner Bros.)
The Lion King (Disney)
Spider-Man: Far From Home (Sony Pictures)
Alita: Battle Angel (Disney/Fox)
Aladdin (Disney)
Us (Universal Pictures)

IMDb Top 10 TV Shows of 2019
“Game of Thrones” (HBO)
“Chernobyl” (HBO)
“Stranger Things” (Netflix)
“The Umbrella Academy” (Netflix)
“The Boys” (Amazon Prime Video)
“Black Mirror” (Netflix)
“The Walking Dead” (AMC Network)
“Peaky Blinders” (Netflix)
“Sex Education” (Netflix)
“You” (Netflix)

IMDb Most Anticipated Movies of 2020
Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (Warner Bros.)
Sonic the Hedgehog (Paramount Pictures)
Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount Pictures)
No Time to Die (MGM)
Black Widow (Disney/Marvel)
Mulan (Disney)
Wonder Woman 1984 (Warner Bros.)
Dune (Warner Bros.)
The King’s Man (Disney/Fox)
Fast & Furious 9 (Universal Pictures)

IMDb Most Anticipated New TV Shows of 2020
“Star Trek: Picard” (CBS All Access)
“The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” (Disney+)
“The New Pope” (HBO)
“The Walking Dead: World Beyond” (AMC Network)
“Snowpiercer” (TNT)
“The Stand” (CBS All Access)
“The Outsider” (HBO)
“Stargirl” (DC Universe, The CW)
“Hunters” (Amazon Prime Video)
“Katy Keene” (The CW)

For comparison purposes, the IMDb 2018 year-end Top 10 lists are available here: www.imdb.com/best-of/2018.

Vudu Cutting 4K Movie Pricing 50% Through Black Friday

Walmart-owned movie streaming service Vudu is offering 4K UHD movies 50% off normal pricing for 48 hours through Black Friday.

Movies in 4K UHD typically cost between $14.99 and $19.99 per title.

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The special promotion, which requires access to a 4K-compatible television, includes 222 titles, including Shazam!, John Wick 3, Bumblebee, Mission: Impossible – Fallout, Venom, Long Shot and Godzilla: King of the Monsters, among others.

 

Netflix Ups Nordic Movie Production

Netflix has increased original movie production in Scandinavia, including productions in Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

The SVOD behemoth Nov. 14 at the Stockholm Film Festival announced titles include Swedish thriller, Red Dot; Norway’s horror pic, Cadaver and Denmark’s World War II film, Shadows in My Eyes.

The news follows Netflix’s move into original feature film production in Holland with The Battle of the Scheldt.

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“We are very happy to be taking this exciting step in offering our members in the Nordics more local content, as well as bring more great content from the Nordic region to our global members,” Lina Brouneus, director of licensing and co-productions for Netflix in Northern Europe, said in a statement.

Norway is home to Netflix’s first original production, “Lilyhammer,” starring Steven Van Zandt, which began streaming in 2012.

Last year, Netflix inked a deal with Danish producer Kim Magnusson for original movies from the Nordic region.

“These three films are all unique in their own way: strong genre films with engaging plot lines that are driven by talented creatives,” Brouneus said. “Together they form a strong package of different genres which will showcase the versatility and high quality of Nordic movies.”

Netflix Testing Speeding Up Movie Playback on Mobile Devices

Users of portable media devices gravitate toward short-form video. It’s the premise for the Quibi SVOD start-up.

Now Netflix has begun testing playback of movies up to 1.5 times their original speed.

“We’re always experimenting with new ways to help members use Netflix,” the company said in a boilerplate response to media inquiries.

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Indeed, Netflix pioneered binge viewing making all episodes of a series available at launch, launched the first recommendation software and ushered in Q&A fiscal webcasts devoid of perfunctory balance sheet readings.

The concept has produced blowback from some content holders, including longtime Netflix fans such as director Judd Apatow and “Breaking Bad” star Aaron Paul.

“No @Netflix no. Don’t make me have to call every director and show creator on Earth to fight you on this. Save me the time. I will win but it will take a ton of time. Don’t fuck with our timing. We give you nice things. Leave them as they were intended to be seen,” Apatow tweeted.

Netflix contends the app helps viewers seeking to consume longer form content on the go.

“As with any test, it may not become a permanent feature on Netflix,” said the company.

Actor Paul hopes so.

“There is NO Way Netflix will move forward with this,” he tweeted. “That would mean they are completely taking control of everyone else’s art and destroying it. Netflix is far better than that. Am I right Netflix?”

MoviePass to Shut Down Sept. 14

Subscription theatrical movie service MoviePass will shut down Sept. 14 at 8 a.m. (EST), according to a letter from CEO Mitch Lowe on the site.

“Over the past several months, MoviePass worked hard to relaunch its groundbreaking subscription service and recapitalize the company,” he wrote. “While we were able to relaunch the service for some of our subscribers with an improved technology platform, our efforts to recapitalize the company have not been successful to date.”

He wrote that subscriptions will be refunded.

“MoviePass will be providing subscribers with appropriate refunds for their period of service already paid for,” he wrote. “Subscribers will not need to request a refund or contact MoviePass customer service to receive a refund. Subscribers will not be charged during the service interruption.”

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The future of the service remains uncertain, according to the letter.

“At this point, we are unable to predict if or when the MoviePass service will continue,” Lowe wrote.

Owned and operated by Helios Matheson Analytics, the service at its peak generated more than 3 million subscribers paying $9.95 for daily access to theatrical releases.

Nielsen’s Gracenote Launches ID System for Movies, TV Programs

Gracenote, a Nielsen company, is bowing a new “video ID distribution system” enabling creators and owners of media programming to more easily distribute their movies, TV shows, short-form videos and other related content to global over-the-top video services, smart device manufacturers and cable and satellite TV providers.

Using the system, studios and networks will be able to register their content with Gracenote‘s Video Database and obtain connected identification markers to enable better search and discovery in program guides, interfaces and OTT catalogs.

Content creators and owners can submit movies, TV programs or short form video content for inclusion in Gracenote’s Video Database, which brings together metadata, linear schedules and VOD/OTT catalogs for more than 85 countries.

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In addition, content holders can submit their own descriptive metadata, tags and imagery, which Gracenote will editorially review and prepare for broad distribution.

“The new system will help creators and owners secure the broadest possible distribution of their programming while providing leading VOD and OTT services a means to easily identify and access relevant metadata for next-generation search and discovery experiences,” Simon Adams, chief product officer at Gracenote, said in a statement.

With the entertainment industry is in the midst of a massive change as new services, platforms and devices compete for audiences and mindshare, the volume of video content grows exponentially.

Gracenote says OTT video services require improved descriptive metadata and universal identifiers to ensure their catalogs are well-organized so that viewers can easily search for and find what they want to watch.

With major video streaming services home to around 40,000 TV episodes and movies, long-tail programming can face “discoverability” challenges, according to Gracenote.

The company says its new software also enables short-form videos to have the power to captivate existing fans and attract new users to services.

Using connected metadata and content IDs from Gracenote, displaying episodes of the short-form video content alongside episodes of related long-form content is simplified. This enables video services to drive deeper engagement with viewers and provide a one-stop shop for all related content, according to Gracenote.

Gracenote IDs and metadata provide common links between TV series, seasons and episodes, as well as related TV and movie genres, celebrities, and other descriptive information.

This promises to improve how Hollywood movies, independent films and short-form videos alike are distributed to and surfaced in pay TV and OTT catalogs, as well as accessed by consumers.

Gracenote is showcasing the new software at IBC in Amsterdam (Hall 14, G29) from Sept. 13 – 17.

Redbox Research: Watching Movies at Home Makes You Hungry

New Redbox research finds that watching movies tends to stimulate the appetite.

The retailer, which rents Blu-ray Discs and DVDs through a national network of kiosks and rents and sells digital movies online, says 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.

The surveys were part of Redbox’s “Back to the Movies” initiative, launched in August 2018 to encourage people to watch movies together, with family or friends. The promotion includes tie-ins with quick-casual or fast-food restaurants and a pledge for consumers to put away their phones, laptops and other electronic distractions and simply share a movie at home with others.

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Redbox claims to host more occasion-based movie nights than any other home-entertainment retailer — several hundred million movie night occasions annually. Redbox kiosks alone account for more transactional home movie nights than iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, and the large cable video on-demand providers.

The company coined the term “at-home concessions” to capture all movie night food-pairing options.

In 2018, Redbox estimates that its customers spent between $3.5 billion and $4 billion on at-home concessions, and projects customers will spend between $14 billion and $17 billion on at-home concessions in the next five years.

The Redbox surveys, conducted in May and June 2019 with more than 1,000 responses, also were used to determine where customers purchased their at-home concessions, and if a Redbox promotion could drive even more sales.

For a one-night free movie promotion (value of $1.75), Redbox found it could influence over 60% of the market by getting customers to switch their original choice for at-home concessions. For example, 41% of the service’s customers would switch from their preferred pizza provider to a Redbox partner, 63% would switch coffee shop loyalty, 74% would switch in the Mexican food category, and a whopping 88% would switch in the burger category.

Redbox provided some share-shift specifics within categories. In the burger category, for example, for a free movie 57% of Burger King loyalists would switch to McDonald’s, 66% to Wendy’s, 43% to Sonic and 47% to Five Guys. In the Mexican food category, 61% would switch from Taco Bell to Chipotle, while 59% would switch the other way.  In the coffee and donut category, 73% would leave Starbucks for Dunkin’ Donuts, while only 59% would go the other way. For pizza, 55% of Pizza Hut customers would leave for Domino’s, 45% for Papa John’s and 39% for Little Caesars.

This summer, Redbox is partnering with meal-delivery service DoorDash to offer customers three free movie nights and free delivery on their first three orders through DoorDash.

“Redbox believes this is a prudent first step to gain valuable data and benefit our customers while we flesh out our partnership strategy in light of all this new data,” said Ash ElDifrawi, chief marketing and customer experience officer at Redbox. “For example, should we create an open marketplace for any restaurants to partner with us, or pick strategic partners in each category to provide them with significant competitive advantage and share gain?”