‘Soul’ Ascends to Top of Disc Sales Charts

Disney’s Soul debuted at No. 1 on the NPD VideoScan First Alert chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales, and the dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart the week ended March 27.

The latest release from Pixar Animation Studios, Soul bypassed a theatrical release as a result of the pandemic and instead became available through the Disney+ streaming service Dec. 25, though it did make $116.8 million at the international box office in territories where Disney+ isn’t available.It also won the Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature and is nominated for the Academy Award for the same category.

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The week’s No. 2 seller on both charts was Universal Pictures’ News of the World. The Western stars Tom Hanks as a Civil War veteran who makes a living reading newspapers to people in frontier towns, whose travels get sidetracked when he is encounters a young white girl who had been captured and raised by Indians, and is tasked with returning her to her family. It earned $12.6 million at the domestic box office. News of the World sold about 91% as many overall copies as Soul, but only about 49% as many Blu-ray Discs.

Blu-ray Disc formats accounted for 77% of total Soul unit sales compared with 42% for News of the World; 4K Ultra HD comprised 11% of total Soul sales and 8% of News of the World.

The title that had topped the charts the previous four weeks, Universal’s The Croods: A New Age, fell to No. 3 on both charts, with Sony Pictures’ Monster Hunter pushed to No. 4.

Warner’s 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray re-release of 2014’s Godzilla landed at No. 8 overall and No. 5 on the Blu-ray chart. The new 4K edition accounted for 97% of all sales of Godzilla for the week.

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On the Media Play News rental chart for the week ended March 28, News of the World was No. 1, pushing The Croods: A New Age to No. 2.

Monster Hunter remained No. 3 and Redbox’s SAS: Red Notice was No. 4. Universal’s Promising Young Woman dropped to No. 5.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 3-27-21
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 3-28-21
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 3-27-21
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 3-27-21
Sales Report for Week Ended 3-27-21
Digital Transactions Snapshot for Week Ended 3-29-21

‘News of the World’ Tops ‘Watched at Home’ Chart; ‘Soul’ Debuts at No. 4

Universal Pictures’ News of the World climbed to No. 1 on the weekly “Watched at Home” chart the week ended March 27, bolstered by its March 23 release on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD. It had been No. 13 the previous week and No. 11 the week before that following its March 9 bow via digital sellthrough.

The Western stars Tom Hanks as a Civil War veteran who makes a living reading newspapers to people in frontier towns, whose travels get sidetracked when he is encounters a young white girl who had been captured and raised by Indians, and is tasked with returning her to her family. It earned $12.6 million at the domestic box office.

Universal Pictures’ The Croods: A New Age, which had topped the Watched at Home Chart for four straight weeks, dropped to No. 2.The DreamWorks Animation sequel features the voices of Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds and Peter Dinklage, and follows the caveman Crood family as they encounter the more civilized Bettermans.

That pushed Sony Pictures’ video game adaptation Monster Hunter, starring Milla Jovovich as the leader of a military unit battling deadly creatures from another world, to No. 3 on the Watched at Home chart, which tracks transactional video activity (both digital and on DVD and Blu-ray Disc, but not premium VOD or disc rental).

The week’s top newcomer to the list was Disney’s Soul, the lauded Pixar Animation Studios film that as a result of the pandemic bypassed theaters and was released directly through the Disney+ streaming service Dec. 25, though it did make $116.8 million at the international box office in territories where Disney+ isn’t available. Soul was made available through disc and digital sellthrough March 23.

Rounding out the top five was Universal Pictures’ Promising Young Woman. The revenge thriller starring Carey Mulligan slipped a spot from the previous week.

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Warner’s Wonder Woman 1984, which became available for digital sellthrough March 16, dropped two spots to No. 6, but should get a boost in the coming week thanks to its release on all disc formats March 30.

Warner’s 2014 Godzilla movie made its first appearance on the Watched at Home chart at No. 17 thanks to a March 23 re-release of the film on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray in the lead-up to the March 31 U.S. release of Godzilla vs. Kong in theaters and on HBO Max.

No. 20 was another newcomer, Vertical Entertainment’s The Devil Below, a monster movie about four amateur explorers who pay a visit to Shookum Hills, a town in the remote Appalachian Mountains that was abandoned decades ago due to a mysterious coal mine fire. It has been available for digital purchase and VOD since March 5.

  1. News of the World (Universal)
  2.  The Croods: A New Age (Universal)
  3.  Monster Hunter (Sony Pictures)
  4. Soul (Disney)
  5. Promising Young Woman (Universal)
  6. Wonder Woman 1984 (Warner)
  7. Girl in the Basement (A+E)
  8. Greenland (Universal/STX)
  9. Harry Potter: Complete 8-Film Collection (Warner)
  10. Wrong Turn (2021) (Lionsgate)
  11. Tenet (Warner)
  12. Yellowstone: Season 3 (Paramount)
  13. Let Him Go (Universal)
  14. Yellowstone: Season 1 (Paramount)
  15. Fatale (Lionsgate)
  16. Crisis (Quiver)
  17. Godzilla (2014, Warner)
  18. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (Warner)
  19. Yellowstone: Season 2 (Paramount)
  20. The Devil Below (Vertical)

 

Source: DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group
Includes U.S. digital sales, digital rentals, and DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD sales for the week ended March 27.

Soul

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Disney;
Animated;
$29.99 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $43.99 UHD BD.
Rated ‘PG’ for thematic elements and some language.
Voices of Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Graham Norton, Rachel House, Alice Braga, Richard Ayoade, Wes Studi, Fortune Feimster, Zenobia Shroff, Phylicia Rashad, Donnell Rawlings, Questlove, Angela Bassett.

A music teacher with dreams of jazz glory nearly unlocks the secrets of the universe in Soul, which is about as profound a rumination on the nature of existence as one is likely to find in an animated movie.

Soul is another film from Pixar, like Inside Out and Monsters, Inc., before it, that explores mysterious aspects of how reality works by breaking ontological concepts down into cute and cuddly characters children can relate to, framed in a story their parents are more likely to appreciate.

Jamie Foxx voices Joe, a middle-aged jazz pianist whose stagnant music career has been supplanted by the routines of a middle school band teacher, leaving him artistically unsatisfied. One day, a former student offers him a gig in the quartet of a well-known jazz performer, which Joe sees as his big break. In his excitement over the opportunity, however, Joe slips into an open manhole, and before he realizes what has happened he finds himself a disembodied soul in a black void floating toward the bright light of the Great Beyond.

Unwilling to accept death just as he’s on the verge of realizing what he considers his purpose in life, Joe runs from the light and winds up in a different part of the spiritual realm, the Great Before, where young souls are nurtured until ready to experience life on Earth. The powers that be mistake Joe for a mentor for the new souls, and assign him a troublesome student named 22 (Tina Fey), who for thousands of years has shown little interest in proceeding to Earth. Learning of Joe’s situation, however, 22 agrees to help him return to his body.

And this is pretty much what the film’s marketing materials made the story out to be. But things get a bit more complicated than a trip through the afterlife. The pair journey to an astral plane where 22 knows a meditating guru who specializes in saving lost souls, but a mishap sends both of them to Earth. When 22 awakes in the hospital in Joe’s body, and Joe in a nearby cat, Soul quickly turns into Pixar’s version of a body-swap movie. As they work to correct the mistake, Joe the cat instructs 22 on getting ready for the gig, while 22 as Joe begins to experience true life and its simple pleasures for the first time.

Here it becomes clear that the film’s integration of jazz into the plot is more than a stylistic choice, but a clever narrative shorthand that builds upon the improvisational nature of the musical form to symbolize and express many of the motifs the film is exploring.

Soul is one of those movies that uses big ideas to teach simple lessons. The way the film depicts the relationship between the real and spiritual worlds might open the door to quite a few questions about just what is going on with Joe’s body, and may even prompt a few frank discussions between parents and children — but as a plot device it’s best not to delve into the mechanics of it too deeply. The film itself knows this, which is why the spiritual constructs are always described as an “illusion” and “hypothetical.”

However, the realm of the Great Before provides a great excuse to depict the kind of colorful setting Pixar excels at. It’s a beautiful, ethereal place of calming blues, serene golden light and soothing new age music. Pixar is no stranger to wistful films, but this is certainly one of its most beautiful, and a terrific reminder to slow down and appreciate the simple pleasures life has to offer.

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The Blu-ray presentation offers a bevy of bonus materials typical of a Pixar release.

Included with the film on the standard-Blu-ray Disc is an informative commentary with director Pete Docter, producer Dina Murray, and co-writer/co-director Kemp Powers. Also included on this disc are a couple of featurettes: the eight minute “Astral Taffy,” about designing the soul world; and the 10-minute “Not Your Average Joe,” about crafting Pixar’s first black lead character.

The 4K disc includes just the film presentation without any extras.

A dedicated standard-Blu-ray bonus disc includes a number of interesting behind-the-scenes featurettes that delve into the challenges of crafting the film’s complex subject matter into a digestible narrative. These include the six-and-a-half-minute “Pretty Deep for a Cartoon,” about the film’s heady themes; the eight-minute “Into the Zone,” about finding the film’s musical identity with Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and John Batiste, the latter helping incorporate jazz into the film’s visual style; the three-minute “Jazz Greats,” in which a number of jazz musicians discuss what music means to them; and the seven-minute “Soul, Improvised,” which chronicles the creative team’s challenges of working from home to finish the film during the pandemic. (The same featurettes are included with the movie on Disney+ as well.)

Also included on the bonus disc are 22 minutes of deleted sequences showcasing earlier, different concepts for telling the story, providing some good insights into the story process, plus several of the film’s trailers in various languages.

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