Paramount Ups Q1 Home Entertainment Revenue 13%

Paramount Home Entertainment May 7 reported first-quarter (ended March 31) revenue of $174 million, which was up about 13% from revenue of $154 million in the previous-year period.

Home entertainment revenue was driven by the mix of titles in release and higher sales of catalog titles. Licensing revenue grew 18%, fueled by original studio productions for third parties, as well as the licensing of The Lovebirds to Netflix.

Paramount’s top-selling packaged-media release in 2020 thus far is the Will Smith actioner Gemini Man.

For the fourth-consecutive quarter, home entertainment sales topped theatrical revenue as box office sales reached $167 million, which was down 3% from revenue of $172 million last year. Despite strong results from Sonic the Hedgehog, revenue was more than offset by prior year quarter revenues, which included carryover performance from Bumblebee.

Paramount Rolls Out Catalog Promotion, Aimed at Home Audiences, for ‘Top Gun’, Other Cruise Films

Paramount Pictures April 28 announced that the 1986 Tom Cruise classic Top Gun will become available for the first time on 4K Ultra HD Digital on May 13 — which fans branded as “Top Gun Day” more than a decade ago — with a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc release following on May 19.

The film, directed by Tony Scott, was a huge box office hit, earning $356 million — the equivalent of $840.2 million in today’s dollars. The U.S. Library of Congress in 2015 selected the film for preservation in the National Film Registry, finding it “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

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A sequel, Top Gun: Maverick, is scheduled for theatrical release on December 23, 2020. The release date was pushed back from June 24 due to the coronavirus pandemic, which led to the mid-March closure of movie theaters.

Top Gun has been newly remastered for its home release in 4K Ultra HD. Home releases also will include a brand-new featurette that explores the film’s legacy and continued popularity through new interviews with Cruise, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and members of the cast of Top Gun: Maverick, including John Hamm, Miles Teller, Glen Powell and more.

The home release also includes a retrospective segment from 2016 looking back at 30 years of Top Gun. Additional previously released bonus content on the disc includes commentary by Bruckheimer, director Scott, co-screenwriter Jack Epps Jr. and naval experts; “Danger Zone: The Making of Top Gun”; a look inside the real Top Gun; original theatrical promotional material; music videos; and more.

Paramount is also debuting on 4K Ultra HD two other Tom Cruise films on May 13 (digital) and May 19 (disc): Days of Thunder (1990) and War of the Worlds (2005).

Days of Thunder reteams Cruise with director Scott and producer Bruckheimer. Known for its spectacular racing action, the movie further cemented Cruise’s star status.  The new 4K Ultra HD release includes a brand-new featurette looking back on the production with Bruckheimer.

The Steven Spielberg-helmed War of the Worlds is a retelling of the H.G. Wells classic, which shot into notoriety in 1938 when a radio drama panicked listeners who thought it was real.

The film earned more than $600 million worldwide, the equivalent of nearly $800 million in today’s dollars.

The new 4K UHD/Blu-ray Combo Pack includes access to a digital copy of the film, along with over an hour of previously released bonus content, including multiple behind-the-scenes featurettes, production diaries, a look at the characters, and more.

Paramount Presenting Online Screenings of Classic Catalog With Guest Hosts

Paramount is presenting a series of virtual screenings that will be streamed online at CYA.LIVE, allowing viewers to watch and interact via text and video with other fans, as well as special guest hosts, for $1.99 per screening.

The first event will be a 25th anniversary screening of the Chris Farley comedy Tommy Boy hosted by the film’s director, Peter Segal (Get Smart50 First DatesNaked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult). The event will take place April 18 at 5 p.m. PST.

At the same time April 25, Paramount will screen Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan along with the hosts of the “Inglorious Treksperts” podcast, Mark A. Altman and Daren Dochterman. Altman is a television and motion picture writer/producer/director, as well as the author of the book The 50 Year Mission: The Complete Uncensored, Oral History of Star Trek. Dochterman has worked in the entertainment industry for more than 30 years and has more than 80 film and television credits. He is known for his work as visual effects supervisor on the director’s edition of Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

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The third event will feature a screening of director Blake Edwards’ classic Breakfast at Tiffany’s May 2 at 5 p.m. PST, just two days prior to Audrey Hepburn’s birthday on May 4. The screening will be hosted by Andrea Kalas, the head of the Paramount Pictures Archives.

ViacomCBS Closes Deal for 49% Ownership Stake in Miramax

ViacomCBS April 3 announced the closing of the previously announced deal for a 49% ownership stake in Miramax from beIN Media Group, which retains 51% majority ownership.

ViacomCBS, which owns and operates Paramount Pictures and Pluto TV, among other assets, plans to utilize the Miramax catalog (Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, Good Will Hunting, etc.) throughout its digital distribution channels. Miramax’s current leadership team will continue in their existing roles.

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ViacomCBS acquired the 49% stake for committed investment of $375 million. Approximately $150 million was paid at closing, while ViacomCBS has committed to invest $225 million — comprised of $45 million annually over the next five years — to be used for new film and television productions and working capital.

In addition, Paramount Pictures entered into an exclusive, long-term distribution agreement for Miramax’s content library; and an exclusive, long-term first-look agreement allowing Paramount Pictures to develop, produce, finance and distribute new film and television projects based on Miramax’s IP.

Miramax was founded in 1979 by brothers Bob and Harvey Weinstein, and was a major independent movie distribution and production company before it was acquired by The Walt Disney Company in 1993.

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Bob and Harvey Weinstein continued to operate Miramax until they left the company named after their mother, Miriam, in 2005, to start The Weinstein Company. That latter subsequently entering into a short-lived home entertainment distribution deal with Genius Products, headed by former Trump Administration official Steve Bannon.

In 2018, TWC and Genius settled a lawsuit with Weinstein paying now shuttered Genius Products a $2.5 million settlement.

Paramount’s ‘The Lovebirds’ Going Straight to Netflix

Paramount Pictures’ scrapped April 3 theatrical release The Lovebirds is going straight to Netflix — and apparently not to transactional VOD, retail or rental, according to a source familiar with the situation. The romantic comedy stars Kumail Nanjiani (“Silicon Valley”) and Issa Rae (“Insecure”).

As Hollywood studios adjust to shuttered theaters globally in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, many have expedited theatrical titles into retail channels —not third-party SVOD.

Indeed, there is no mention of the title on digital retail channels such as iTunes, Amazon, Vudu or Fangdango Now. The same for Redbox.

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Paramount fast-tracked theatrical release Sonic the Hedgehog for digital purchase on March 31 from Paramount Home Entertainment. The film, which made $306.8 million at the global box office, will be available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and for rental on demand or disc May 19.

But The Lovebirds is not a proven theatrical release or franchise, and with the pandemic wreaking havoc across myriad distribution channels, taking third-party SVOD money probably seemed like a better bet.

Indeed, Netflix in 2017 acquired The Cloverfield Paradox, a science-fiction horror film Paramount had pulled from its theatrical slate. The streamer reportedly paid the studio $50 million for the rights and released it on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018.

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In Paramount’s most-recent fiscal period, Paramount Home Entertainment generated more revenue from retail than the studio did from theatrical.

Netflix has not disclosed when it plans to release The Lovebirds.

‘Paramount Presents’ Label Launches to Celebrate Studio Library on Blu-ray, in Theaters

Paramount Pictures will introduce a new “Paramount Presents” label to recognize and celebrate films from the studio’s library on Blu-ray and in theaters.

The “Paramount Presents” banner will be used for a new line of Blu-ray Discs “incorporating a curated selection of enduringly popular movies, as well as films that had a cultural impact upon their release,” according to a Paramount press release. The label will also be used to bring classic films to select theaters for limited theatrical runs so audiences can experience them again on the big screen.

“Paramount’s library represents over a century of filmmaking and includes some of the greatest films in cinematic history,” Bob Buchi, president of worldwide home media distribution at Paramount Pictures, said in a statement. “We look forward to opening the vault and sharing some of our most treasured films with fans under the new ‘Paramount Presents’ banner, both in theaters and in our new Blu-ray collection, which has been crafted to offer something special to casual fans, dedicated film enthusiasts and collectors.”

The “Paramount Presents” Blu-ray Discs will include a diverse and eclectic array of films spanning all genres, according to the studio. The new collection will return each title to the spotlight with meticulously remastered releases that include new bonus content focused on the filmmakers. The discs will be presented in collectible packaging that includes a foldout image of the original movie poster and interior artwork featuring key movie moments. Each Blu-ray in the line will feature new interviews with filmmakers and/or film historian Leonard Maltin.

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“Movies have the power to hold a mirror up to the world. Sometimes they make us think about big issues and sometimes they simply reflect the times in which they were made,” said Maltin in a statement. “The ‘Paramount Presents’ banner encompasses a wide array of films that are worth revisiting because they captured something unique that resonated with audiences. Whether you’re watching them for the first time or the hundredth, you will see why these films have stood the test of time.”

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The first three films in the “Paramount Presents” Blu-ray line will be Fatal Attraction, which has been remastered under the supervision of director Adrian Lyne; 1958’s acclaimed Elvis Presley drama King Creole; and director Alfred Hitchcock’s romantic thriller To Catch A Thief, which celebrates its 65th anniversary this year. All three titles will be available beginning April 21. Fatal Attraction will also have a limited theatrical release in 2020 (details to be announced at a later date).

Additional titles scheduled to be released as part of the “Paramount Presents” Blu-ray line include newly remastered editions of FlashdanceAirplane! and Ghost, as well as several titles arriving on Blu-ray for the first time ever, including Pretty in Pink and The Golden Child.

ViacomCBS Expanding All Access SVOD Platform to Include Other Brands

ViacomCBS’s flagship subscription streaming service is moving beyond the CBS brand to include other properties within the media giant’s portfolio.

Speaking on the Feb. 20 fiscal call, CEO Bob Bakish said the All Access expansion would include incorporating content from Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, MTV, BET and Smithsonian, in addition to movies from the Paramount library.

The company also acquired a 49% stake in Miramax for $375 million, giving ViacomCBS digital properties access to long-term distribution rights to a catalog of more than 700 titles.

“We will do this at scale to the tune of approximately 30,000 TV episodes and up to 1,000 movies,” Bakish said.

The changes come as ViacomCBS domestic streaming and digital video revenue in 2019, which included subscription revenue and digital video advertising, increased 60% to $1.6 billion across Pluto TV, All Access and Showtime OTT.

The company expects domestic streaming and digital video revenue to increase 35% to 40% in 2020 based on SVOD subs reaching 16 million and domestic Pluto monthly average users topping 30 million by the end of the year.

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All Access is available in Canada and Australia, while ViacomCBS Networks International operates a Paramount+ service streaming in parts of Europe and Latin America offering both movies and TV shows.

Bakish said the All Access revamp would occur over the coming months to better “expand the value” of entertainment, news and sports content through on-demand and “live experiences” for subscribers around the world.

Launched in 2014, All Access, which is priced at $5.99 per month with ads ($9.99 without), is different from Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu by also offering live sports, including NFL football and more than 200 local CBS affiliate stations.

“We have designed this offering to be compatible with the evolving [over-the-top video] distribution landscape,” Bakish said. “We see it as a value creating opportunity to further broaden our partnerships with traditional distributors, akin to our recent Comcast relationship expansion to All Access.”

Paramount Home Entertainment Revenue Tops Theatrical as Movie Biz Returns to Profitability

Thank goodness for the sales and rentals of movies and TV shows.

ViacomCBS Feb. 20 reported that Paramount Home Entertainment generated revenue of $623 million in 2019, which was up almost 1% from revenue of $617 million in 2018. That was an increase of nearly 14% from theatrical revenue of $547 million.

Paramount’s top-selling packaged-media release in 2019 was Bumblebee, which was No. 14 overall according to the NPD Group’s VideoScan tracking service.

Box office sales dropped 26.5% from $744 million, which when combined with home entertainment, licensing and other revenue pushed total revenue to $2.99 billion — an increase of 1.1% from $2.95 billion in 2018.

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Fourth-quarter revenue was impacted by current year slate performance and the number and mix of film titles compared with the prior year.

Indeed, Viacom chose to focus on the 2020 film slate, which includes Sonic the Hedgehog ($116 million in worldwide box office in its opening weekend), holding the record for the best debut of a film based on a video game.

Pending releases include The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, A Quiet Place Part II and Top Gun: Maverick coming in the fiscal second quarter.

Home entertainment revenue in the fourth quarter (ended Dec. 31, 2019) dropped 13% to $155 million from $178 million.

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Content licensing revenue rose 5%, reflecting higher revenues from licensing library and original production to third parties.

At the bottom line, Paramount Pictures generated an $80 million operating profit — a turnaround from an operating loss of $33 million in 2018.

Underscoring consumer migration toward streaming video and digital transactions, domestic streaming and digital video business — which includes subscription revenue and digital video advertising — generated approximately $1.6 billion in revenue.

 

Paramount Cuts VR Movie Deal With Bigscreen

Paramount Pictures and Bigscreen Inc. Dec. 16 announced a multiyear agreement to distribute classic 2D and 3D films in 10 countries worldwide through the San Francisco startup’s social VR movie-watching platform.

“Bigscreen’s virtual reality platform offers a new way for fans to experience films in their homes,” said Bob Buchi, president of worldwide entertainment for Paramount Pictures. “We’re excited to be a part of this experiment using cutting-edge technology to give fans a new entertainment option.”

Bigscreen’s virtual world, entered through headsets, allows users to customize personal avatars, hang out in a virtual lobby, and voice chat with other movie fans. Movies are streamed on screens inside virtual cinemas, providing a social movie watching experience.

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Four new movies will premiere in Bigscreen every week. Movies run for one week with a new lineup of movies available the following week. Films are broadcast live on a pay-per-view basis with scheduled showtimes every 30 minutes. December’s lineup includes blockbuster hits like Interstellar and Star Trek. For the full list of upcoming screenings and showtimes, visit bigscreenvr.com/cinema/comingsoon.

“We are excited to enable fans around the world to hangout, chat, and watch films together in our virtual movie theater,” said Darshan Shankar, CEO and founder of Bigscreen.

Bigscreen’s virtual screenings will be available in 10 countries: the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Australia, and Japan.

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In addition to 2D screenings, Bigscreen will also broadcast select movies in 3D. Bigscreen’s rendering technology uses VR to create a 3D picture in each eye, producing a level of depth and detail that is not possible with traditional 3D glasses.

Bigscreen can be downloaded for free from bigscreenvr.com and runs on the Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift, Oculus Go, HTC Vive, Valve Index, all SteamVR headsets, and all Microsoft Windows Mixed Reality headsets.

Tickets can be purchased through Bigscreen’s website at bigscreenvr.com/cinema

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.