‘Tax Collector,’ ‘Secret Garden’ Top Weekly Slate of New Disc Releases; ‘Mulan’ Now Available Through Other Digital Retailers

RLJ Entertainment’s surprise hit The Tax Collector and Universal Pictures’ The Secret Garden top the slate of new disc releases available Oct. 6, while the Walt Disney Co.’s live-action Mulan remake becomes available through digital retailers such as FandangoNow for purchase at $29.99 after a month-long Disney+ PVOD exclusive.

Also newly available, on Blu-ray Disc and DVD and through digital retailers, is MGM’s remake of the 1983 comedy classic Valley Girl, while 300, from Warner Bros., and Shutter Island, from Paramount, are making their 4K Ultra HD debuts.

The crime drama The Tax Collector was released through digital retailers on Aug. 7 and the following week  debuted at No. 1 on the “Watched at Home” chart, knocking DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls World Tour from the top spot it had occupied for five weeks. Directed by David Ayer, the film stars Shia LaBeouf and Bobby Soto as “tax collectors” working for a Los Angeles crime lord who find their safety threatened by a rival of their boss.

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STX Films’ The Secret Garden is based on the 1911 fantasy novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Set in England in 1947, the film follows a young orphan girl (Dixie Egerickx) who, after being sent to live with her uncle (Colin Firth), discovers a magical garden on the grounds of his estate. The cast also includes Julie Walters, Isis Davis and Amir Wilson. The film was released through digital retailers on Sept. 22.

Valley Girl, distributed to home audiences by Warner Bros., is a musical romantic comedy from MGM’s Orion Pictures that was directed by Rachel Lee Goldenberg. The film stars Jessica Rothe, Mae Whitman and Judy Greer (13 Going on 30Ant-Man27 Dresses) as Diana. The film, a musical romantic comedy adaptation of the 1983 classic starring Nicolas Cage and Deborah Foreman, follows a pair of young lovers from different backgrounds who defy their parents and friends to stay together.

Also on Oct. 6, Universal Pictures is releasing American Pie: Girls’ Rules on DVD and through digital retailers. The film is the latest direct-to-video installment in the popular franchise, which began with the 1999 theatrical release of American Pie, about a group of high school boys out to lose their virginity before graduation. Girls’ Rules is the ninth film in the franchise and the first since 2009. It also is the first “American Pie” movie without Eugene Levy, whose career in recent years was reborn with the hit comedy series “Schitt’s Creek.”

A complete list of new disc and digital releases, compiled each week by the Media Play News market research team, can be found here.

Nielsen: ‘Mulan,’ ‘The Boys’ Enter Weekly Top 10 Streaming Chart

Netflix’s total domination of Nielsen’s weekly Top 10 streaming video chart ended for the period from Aug. 31 to Sept. 6, when the Disney+ premium VOD release of Mulan and Amazon Prime Video’s “The Boys” debuted at No. 10 and No. 3, respectively. Netflix had filled all 10 spots on Nielsen’s chart since it launched a month ago.

Netflix’s “Cobra Kai” topped the chart with 2.17 billion minutes viewed, followed by Lucifer with 1.42 billion minutes and Prime Video’s “The Boys” with 891 million. “Cobra Kai” is an original action comedy-drama series based on “The Karate Kid” movie franchise.

The live-action movie remake Mulan, which Disney launched exclusively to Disney+ subscribers at a $29.99 purchase price, logged 525 million minutes — suggesting the PVOD (or Premier Access, as Disney calls it) release resonated stronger with consumers than expected.

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Scott Brown, GM of audience measurement at Nielsen, said the chart underscores the fact streaming video is growing in popularity. Brown said that among homes that can stream video, 25% of their TV viewing is spent accessing over-the-top content.

“Compelling content certainly helps to drive audiences to these streaming services,” Brown said in a statement, adding that the data showcases content’s appeal to diverse audiences.

“We look forward to the continued expansion of streaming measurement and providing the industry with this much-needed competitive insight,” he said.

  1. “Cobra Kai” (Netflix), 2.17 billion minutes viewed
  2. “Lucifer” (Netflix), 1.42 billion
  3. “The Boys” (Amazon), 891 million
  4. “The Office” (Netflix), 843 million
  5. “Criminal Minds” (Netflix), 675 million
  6. “Shameless” (Netflix), 639 million
  7. “Away” (Netflix), 631 million
  8. “Grey’s Anatomy” (Netflix), 616 million
  9. “The Legend of Korra” (Netflix), 541 million
  10.  Mulan (Disney+), 525 million

Disney Expanding ‘Mulan’ PVOD Access to FandangoNow, Vudu

Disney’s high-profile premium video-on-demand (Premier Access) experiment, releasing the live-action movie Mulan to Disney+ subscribers, is now expanding to FandangoNow and Vudu.com.

Disney will make the movie available Oct. 6 on Vudu and FandangoNow, with pre-orders available now for the same $29.99 purchase price in SD, HD or 4K UHD currently offered to Disney+ subscribers.

Consumers pre-ordering Mulan on Vudu will get a $3 credit toward other movies and TV shows on the platform upon the film’s release. The movie was first released on Sept. 4.

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In mid-September, Yahoo! Finance, citing data from 7Park Data, reported that the movie had been purchased by 9 million Disney+ subscribers for $29.99 each through Sept. 12. That figure suggests the $200 million budget movie generated an impressive $270 million in direct-to-consumer revenue. A representative form 7ParkData later clarified on Twitter that they had estimated Mulan was watched by 29% of people watching Disney+ over the debut weekend, not total subscribers, which lowered estimated revenue to about $60 million to $90 million.

Unlike a typical PVOD transaction that gives a viewer a limited time period, usually 48 hours, to watch the movie, Premier Access is set up to allow Disney+ subscribers to pay the premium fee to unlock the movie on Disney+ for as long as they are subscribers, effectively giving those who pay early access to the movie before it becomes available to all subscribers in a few months.

Warner’s ‘Tenet’ Leads Slumping Weekend Domestic Box Office With $3.4 Million in Ticket Sales

The U.S. box office continues to suffer under constrained openings due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Despite the release of three significant studio titles, exhibitor revenue remains down 75% from the previous-year period.

Warner Bros.’ Tenet, the international espionage thriller from Christopher Nolan, remained the top draw, generating $3.4 million in revenue from 2,800 screens through Sept. 26, or $41.2 million since it debuted in the U.S. four weeks ago. That was down 26% from $4.59 million generated during the previous-weekend three-day period, according to industry numbers.

The movie has generated $283.2 million worldwide — leading some observers to wonder when Warner would release the movie on HBO Max or a third-party platform via PVOD or transactional VOD. The movie has generated 85% of its box office abroad.

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Notably, the top domestic screens for Tenet included largely drive-ins and Imax theaters such as Paramount Drive-In in Los Angeles; Capitol 6 Drive-In and Solano Twin Drive-In in San Francisco; Regal Irvine Spectrum Imax and AMC Block Orange with Imax (Orange County, Calif.); Cinemark Redwood 20 in San Francisco; Alamo Drafthouse in Ashburn, Va.; Cinemark Huntington Beach (Calif.) Bella Terra; and Sacramento (Calif.) Drive-In.

Meanwhile, Disney/20th Century’s The New Mutants finished second with exhibitors, generating $1.1 million in ticket sales, which was down 31% from $1.59 million during the previous weekend period. The movie has tallied $19.4 million over the the past five weeks.

Disney’s live-action Mulan, which has only been released in theaters outside the U.S., and on Premier Access via Disney+ domestically, generated $3.4 million, or $64 million globally since its Sept. 4 debut. Disney has not disclosed the movie’s PVOD revenue numbers.

Report: Disney+ Generated $270 Million in ‘Mulan’ PVOD Sales

The Walt Disney Co.’s calculated foray into premium VOD distribution for original movie Mulan reportedly has been a fiscal home run. Yahoo! Finance, citing data from 7Park Data, contends the movie has been purchased by 9 million Disney+ subscribers for $29.99 each through Sept. 12. That tally would suggest the $200 million budget movie, which was released on Sept. 4, has generated an impressive $270 million in direct-to-consumer revenue.

Unlike a typical PVOD transaction that gives a viewer a limited time period, usually 48 hours, to watch the movie, the Disney PVOD system, dubbed Premier Access, is set up to allow Disney+ subscribers to pay the premium fee to unlock the movie on Disney+ for as long as they are subscribers, effectively giving those who pay early access to the movie before it becomes available to all subscribers in a few months.

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App download tracking firm Sensor Tower previously disclosed that downloads of the Disney+ app skyrocketed 68% through the Labor Day weekend (Sept. 4-6), compared with the previous-week time period. Samba TV, which tracks viewership on smart TVs, reported that 1.1 million U.S. households watched Mulan on Labor Day weekend.

Disney has not officially released any Mulan sales data, but CFO Christine McCarthy Sept. 10 told an investor group the media giant was “very pleased” with PVOD sales data thus far.

The results, if true, would be another dagger to the theatrical window and suggests that Disney’s theatrical brand resonates (at significantly higher margin) as much with consumers in the home as at movie theaters. Disney generated a staggering $11.1 billion at the global box office in 2019 — including 33% of all domestic box office ticket sales. It was the first time a studio had controlled that much of the North American box office since 1999, according to Comscore.

Regardless, the movie, which stars Liu Yifei in the iconic Mulan role, had received middling reviews, plenty of controversy over filming locations in China accused of violating the human rights of ethnic Muslims, and lackluster box office sales in the Communist country.

‘Mulan,’ ‘Tenet’ Boost Global Box Office Ticket Sales

The Walt Disney Co.’s live-action Mulan remake opened at No. 1 in China this weekend with an estimated box office gross of $23.2 million, Disney announced Sept. 13 — bringing its total theatrical earnings to $37.6 million.

Domestically, the film bypassed theaters and instead premiered on streaming service Disney+ Sept. 4, at a premium access price.

Also this weekend, Warner Bros.’ Tenet crossed the $200 mark globally, but in the North American market — the United States and Canada — the film earned $6.7 million in its second week of release, a 29% drop from week one. While more than 70% of all U.S. theaters are now open, capacities are limited due to COVID-19 restrictions and in certain key markets, including Los Angeles and New York, theaters remain dark.

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In its third weekend, Disney’owned 20th Century’s The New Mutants earned an estimated $2.1 million domestically, bringing its domestic cume to $15.3 million, Disney reported.

Internationally, the thirteenth and final installment in the “X-Men” franchise expanded to 36 “material” markets, Disney said, including opening in Germany and Korea, earning an estimated $3.8 million over the weekend.

Disney CFO Takes High Road in ‘Mulan’ Film Credits Controversy

In the highly partisan political landscape, a growing controversy has emerged regarding locations and local authorities in China where some of Disney’s live-action Mulan was filmed.

With the $200 million budget movie set to open in Chinese theaters, in addition to the current Premier Access on Disney+ in the U.S. and other territories, human-rights activists have raised questions about Disney’s cooperation with local authorities in China’s Xinjiang region, where allegations of abuse and re-education internments against ethnic Muslim Uighur minorities originate.

In response, there have been growing calls on social media to boycott Mulan over the issues.

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Mulan is a patriot but she shouldn’t be placed in Xinjiang because patriotism has been forbidden in Xinjiang,” Abduweli Ayup, a Norway-based Uyghur activist, wrote in a post. “In China, patriotism is loving the Chinese Communist Party.”

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) weighed in on the matter, accusing Disney of “whitewashing genocide” by allegedly cooperating with Chinese police working at the camps.

“Your decision to put profit over principle, to not just ignore the CCP’s genocide and other atrocities, but to aid and abet them, is an affront to American values,” Hawley wrote in Sept. 9 letter to Disney.

Liu Yifei, the lead actress in Mulan, added fuel to the controversy when she tweeted support for police crackdowns on pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

Speaking Sept. 10 on the Bank of America Securities Virtual Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference, Disney CFO Christine McCarthy said she had no interest in discussing international politics. Instead, the executive reiterated that production on Mulan involved numerous international locations — most notably in New Zealand.

“The real facts of Mulan [are] that it was primarily shot in — almost the entirety in New Zealand. And in an effort to accurately depict some of the unique landscape and geography of the country of China for this historical period piece drama, we filmed scenery in 20 different locations in China,” McCarthy said.

The CFO said it is standard procedure that when filming in China or any foreign country, that permits must be obtained. And in China, that permission comes from the central government in Beijing. McCarthy added that it is also common practice in Hollywood to acknowledge the appropriate agencies, authorities and governments in a movie’s credits.

For Mulan, Disney reportedly thanks eight government entities in Xinjiang, including security in the city of Turpan, where the government allegedly operates the camps. Disney also credits the publicity department of CPC Xinjiang Uighur Autonomy Region Committee, an agency that reportedly produces state propaganda.

McCarthy said it is common practice in movies to also acknowledge  national and local governments, which for Mulan included both China as well as New Zealand.

“I would just leave it at that,” she said. “But that’s generated a lot of issues for us.”

Disney CFO on ‘Mulan’ Bypassing Theaters: ‘Would a Family Go? Probably Not’

Calling the unprecedented decision to launch $200 million live-action movie Mulan direct-to-consumer via premium video-on-demand “not an easy decision,” Disney CFO Christine McCarthy told a virtual Wall Street event that a lot of factors played into the release strategy.

Speaking Sept. 9 online at the Citi 2020 Global Technology Conference, McCarthy said the decision to release Mulan as a $29.99 “Premier Access” title to Disney+ subscribers on Sept. 4 revolved around the fact that just 68% of theaters were re-opened for business, and internal data suggested consumers were hesitant to return to the cineplex during the coronavirus pandemic.

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“We know what the statistics are on consumer behavior when people are asked, ‘Would you go to a theater?'” McCarthy said. “It’s gone up a bit in the last month, but a lot of that has to do with what demographic you’re in.”

McCarthy said the pandemic has taught management to “take the opportunity that this crisis is presenting,” and re-evaluate how the business units operate. For example, when internal data showed that just 40% of typical moviegoers would frequent screens at the moment, with older consumers less likely to return and younger audiences, whom McCarthy characterized as more likely doing non-approved activities such as social gatherings and partying, more likely to return to the theater — the move toward PVOD became more clear.

“Would a family with young kids go [to the theater]? Probably not,” McCarthy said.

The executive said Disney would release Mulan on Disney+ (without Premier Access) in select markets will soon have access to the SVOD platform. McCarthy said financial results for the film would be disclosed on the next fiscal call in November, adding the film’s  exclusivity on Disney+ contributed to increased subscriber growth, which pleased senior management.

“But that wasn’t the driving force [for PVOD],” McCarthy said.

She said theme parks, movie and TV production return to normalcy remains on a slow path — with much dependent on the rate of COVID-19 infections and development of a vaccine.

“These are unprecedented times. We’ll have to ebb and flow as the rate of infection hopefully will stay low, but if it creeps back up, we may have to adjust accordingly,” McCarthy said.

‘Mulan,’ ‘Cinderella’ Among Top Content Streaming on Disney+

The Walt Disney Co. has not released sales data for the highly-publicized Sept. 4 release of the live-action remake of Mulan on Disney+ at a premium rental rate of $29.99.

But app research firm Sensor Tower told Yahoo Finance that downloads of the Disney+ app rose 68% between Sept. 4 and Sept. 6 compared with the prior weekend. Consumer spending in the app soared 193%, a gain attributed to the Mulan rental.

Other observers contend the $200 million production ranked among the top titles streaming on subscription streaming video-on-demand service’s top trending content through Sept. 6 — behind the 2015 live-action Cinderella and “The Simpsons” — the latter finishing No. 1, according to blogger WhatsonDisneyplus.com.

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Mulan generated about $6 million in theatrical releases in select foreign regions without Disney+. Heading into last weekend, Omdia found that 17% of survey respondents said they would pay a premium to watch Mulan at home, compared with 21% who said they would rather see the movie in theaters opening weekend. Omdia polled consumers in the U.S., U.K., Australia, Mexico and China.

The Aug. 28 passing of Black Panther actor Chadwick Boseman resulted in renewed consumer interest in several Marvel movies featuring the late star, including Captain America: Civil War (No. 30), Avengers: Infinity War (No. 28), Avengers: Endgame (No. 13) and Black Panther (No. 6).

Cinderella was added to Disney+ just ahead of Mulan and moved into the second spot, while Mulan was also able to make the podium despite requiring subscribers to pay a significant fee to access the movie ahead of its “free” access on Dec. 4.

Jeremy Conrad with MCUCosmic.com contends Mulan PVOD results could determine whether Disney releases upcoming Marvel’s Black Widow, starring Scarlett Johansson, early direct-to-consumer or in theaters on Nov. 6.

The trending chart with previous-week standings in parenthesis:

  1. The Simpsons (-)
  2. Cinderella (New)
  3. Mulan (New)
  4. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (3)
  5. Phineas and Ferb: Candace Against The Universe (New)
  6. Black Panther (re-entry)
  7. Moana (4)
  8. Phineas & Ferb (-)
  9. Frozen 2 (5)
  10. Jessie (9)
  11. Beauty and the Beast (5)
  12. Frozen (11)
  13. Avengers: Endgame (21)
  14. Hamilton (12)
  15. Toy Story 4 (13)
  16. Star Wars: The Clone Wars (15)
  17. Puppy Dog Pals (-)
  18. Aladdin (23)
  19. Star Wars: The Mandalorian (18)
  20. The One And Only Ivan (2)
  21. Incredibles 2 (7)
  22. The Greatest Showman (10)
  23. Avengers: Infinity War
  24. Toy Story (25)
  25. Onward (14)
  26. Coco (Re-entry)
  27. Alice Through The Looking Glass (Re-Entry)
  28. Avengers (New)
  29. Cars (Re-entry)
  30. Captain America: Civil War (New)

International Box Office: ‘Mulan’ at $6 Million

No numbers are in for Mulan’s U.S. premium video-on-demand (PVOD) debut on Disney+, but Walt Disney Studios did release box office figures it says show “a strong opening … in just a handful of smaller international markets, representing only around 6% of normal international footprint.”

In those nine new markets — Croatia, Czech Rep, the Middle East, Slovakia, Turkey, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand — the live-action remake of the popular animated film earned a total of $5.9 million.

In the Middle East, Mulan opened at No. 1 in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia (with an estimated $800,000 in each market). In Asia, Mulan opened at No.1 in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand — markets where Disney estimates 90% of movie theaters are open, albeit at reduced capacities ranging from 30% to 50% of normal.

Next weekend, Mulan opens in China and Russia.

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Meanwhile, Fox’s The New Mutants in its second weekend earned an estimated $3.5 million in North American theaters, bringing its total take to an estimated $12.3 million. Disney estimates 68% of domestic screens are open, although major markets including Los Angeles and New York are still closed.

Internationally, The New Mutants expanded into 30 markets, including the U.K., Mexico, Australia, Russia and Italy, where it earned an estimated $4.2 million for the weekend.