‘Malignant’ Available for Premium Digital Purchase and Rental Oct. 22, on Disc Nov. 30

The horror film Malignant will arrive for premium digital ownership ($24.99) and rental ($19.99) Oct. 22 and on Blu-ray and DVD Nov. 30 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

From director James Wan (The Conjuring, Aquaman, Furious 7), the horror thriller stars Annabelle Wallis (Annabelle, The Mummy), Maddie Hasson (TV’s “Impulse,” TV’s “Mr. Mercedes”) and George Young (TV’s “Containment”). In the film, a woman is paralyzed by shocking visions of grisly murders, and her torment worsens as she discovers that these waking dreams are in fact terrifying realities.

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The disc releases include the featurette “Malignant: James Wan’s Visions,” in which Wan takes viewers behind the scenes for a look at the film.

‘Free Guy’ Wins Top Spot on Vudu Chart

Disney-owned 20th Century Studios’ Free Guy led the chart of the 10 most popular movies on Fandango’s transactional VOD service Vudu the week ended Oct. 3.

The film, which became available for digital purchase Sept. 28, stars Ryan Reynolds as a bank teller who discovers he is actually a background player in an open-world video game and decides to become the hero of his own story.

MGM’s animated sequel The Addams Family 2, which debuted for premium digital rental Oct. 1, landed at No. 2 on the chart. In the film featuring the voices of Charlize Theron and Oscar Isaac, Morticia and Gomez are distraught that their children are growing up.

Universal’s F9: The Fast Saga, the ninth installment in the main “Fast & Furious” franchise, fell from No. 2 to No. 3. The film is available for digital purchase and digital rental.

Coming in at No. 4 (falling from No. 1) was Sony’s psychological thriller Escape Room: Tournament of Champions, which became available for digital purchase Sept. 21. A sequel to 2019’s Escape Room, the film follows six people who unwittingly find themselves locked in another series of escape rooms, slowly uncovering what they have in common to survive and discovering they’ve all played the game before.

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Landing at No. 5 was Universal’s The Forever Purge, available for digital rental and purchase. It’s the fifth film in the “Purge” franchise that chronicles a dystopian future where society cleanses itself by abandoning all laws for one night.

Vudu’s top 10 titles for the week ended Oct. 3, in terms of revenue, were:

  1. Free Guy
  2. The Addams Family 2
  3. F9: The Fast Saga
  4. Escape Room: Tournament of Champions
  5. The Forever Purge
  6. PAW Patrol: The Movie
  7. Candyman
  8. The Green Knight
  9. The Suicide Squad
  10. The Protégé

Whip Media Hires Former Warner Exec Debbie Neveu

Entertainment software platform and data provider Whip Media has hired Debbie Neveu as VP of global enterprise client success.

In this newly created role, Neveu will further develop and grow the company’s content value management (CVM) platform customer relationships, including focusing on strategy, product adoption, sales assistance, and customer retention and support.

Neveu joins Whip Media with more than two decades of experience leading the accounting and financial reporting teams at some of the biggest companies in entertainment. Prior to joining Whip Media, Neveu served as the VP of accounting, financial reporting, financial systems and financial deal review at Warner Bros., where she spearheaded more than 300 deals and led the expansion of the company’s digital business into more than 130 countries. The areas of emphasis during her 15 years at Warner Bros. included the company’s digital sellthrough, VOD, PVOD, PPV and AVOD businesses. Before joining Warner Bros., Neveu served as the director of global operations at The Walt Disney Company for Disney’s interactive video gaming business.

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“Debbie’s invaluable knowledge of the entertainment industry and proven track record of success makes her an ideal fit for Whip Media,” Saj Jayasinghe, Whip Media’s SVP of global enterprise account management, said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to have her on board, and I know our media partners will feel the same way, too.”

“As a former client, I’ve spent years partnering with Whip Media and utilizing their CVM platform to automate, scale and streamline internal studio finance, rights and avails,” Neveu said in a statement. “Now that I am part of the Whip family, I look forward to bringing this knowledge to improve the satisfaction and success of our clients while also supporting the sales and product teams to refine and expand customer offerings.”

Universal Releasing ‘Halloween Kills’ Concurrently in Theaters, on Peacock

Universal Pictures Sept. 9 announced it would release horror movie Halloween Kills, the sequel to the 2018 reboot that re-introduced Jamie Lee Curtis to the franchise, in theaters and on the Peacock Premium SVOD platform on Oct. 15.

The move is the second hybrid box office/SVOD distribution strategy following The Boss Baby: Family Business in July. That sequel went on to generate $105.7 million at the global box office, including $57 million in the U.S.

The 2018 Halloween proved a successful hit at the box office, generating $255.6 million at the global box office, including $159.3 million domestically. The title saw an opening weekend (through Oct. 21, 2018) domestic box office of $76.2 million.

Universal was one of the first studios to aggressively shake up the traditional theatrical window, pushing to distribute theatrical titles into the PVOD channel within 17 days of box office release depending on opening-weekend results.

To cement the release strategies with exhibitors, Universal hammered out digital revenue-sharing agreements with AMC Theatres and Regal — North America’s largest exhibitors.

‘Snake Eyes’ Remains Atop Weekly Vudu Chart; ‘Respect’ Garners Weekend Top Spot

Paramount’s actioner Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins remained atop the list of the 10 most popular movies on Fandango’s transactional VOD service Vudu the week ended Aug. 29, while the Aretha Franklin biopic Respect, which debuted as a premium rental Aug. 27, led over the weekend.

Snake Eyes — the third live-action “G.I. Joe” movie rebooting the franchise following 2009’s G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and its sequel 2013’s G.I. Joe: Retaliation — became available for premium digital purchase and rental Aug. 17. Based on Hasbro’s G.I. Joe toy line, it delves into the backstory of the mysterious title character, a ninja warrior who conducts covert operations for the counter-terrorist military unit known as G.I. Joe. Welcomed into an ancient Japanese clan after saving the life of their heir-apparent, Snake Eyes (Henry Golding) joins the battle against the terrorist group Cobra. The cast also includes Andrew Koji as Storm Shadow, Úrsula Corberó as Baroness, and Samara Weaving as Scarlett.

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Repeating at No. 2 on the weekly chart was Marvel Studios’ Black Widow, which was released to digital platforms for premium purchase Aug. 10 following a concurrent run in theaters and as a Disney+ Premier Access PVOD add-on. In the film, Scarlett Johansson reprises her role as Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, and confronts her darker parts when a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her past arises. Hounded by a force that will stop at nothing to bring her down, Natasha must deal with her history as a spy and the broken relationships left in her wake long before she became an Avenger. Along with Johansson, the cast includes Florence Pugh as Yelena, David Harbour as Alexei/The Red Guardian and Rachel Weisz as Melina.

The Aretha Franklin biopic Respect, starring Jennifer Hudson and Forest Whitaker, landed at No. 3 for the week after leading over the weekend.

Universal’s F9, the ninth installment in the main “Fast & Furious” franchise, landed at No. 4. It became available for premium rental July 30.

At No. 5 on the chart was the horror film The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, available for digital purchase.

Vudu’s top 10 titles for the week ended Aug. 29, in terms of revenue, are as follows:

  1. Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins
  2. Black Widow
  3. Respect
  4. F9: The Fast Saga
  5. The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It
  6. Stillwater
  7. The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard
  8. Peter Rabbit 2
  9. The Green Knight
  10. Wrath of Man

DEG Panel: Transactional Business Strong Despite New-Release Slowdown

The home entertainment pie is getting bigger — and not just on the subscription streaming side, according to an Aug. 10 panel presented by DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.

“The story on SVOD services I think is really well told, and we’ve seen a lot of consumers come over through those subscriber numbers, but I don’t think there’s been much focus on consumers who’ve been coming into the transactional end of the business,” said Jim Wuthrich, president of home entertainment and content licensing at WarnerMedia.

After a year in 2020 that saw a big jump in at home entertainment viewing due to a pandemic, the transactional business — revenue from consumers who rent or buy titles either digitally or physically — has proven resilient, even though it has dropped from the pandemic highs of last year. Transactional spending was down 28.7% to an estimated $3.4 billion, from $4.8 billion in the first six months of 2020.

“I would say overall these numbers to me are remarkable,” said Michael Bonner, president of worldwide home entertainment at Universal Pictures.

Comparing the numbers to pre-pandemic 2019, transactional has grown its appeal, especially with catalog.

“We have evidence that the consumer adoption and engagement during the pandemic is up overall, and those levels are kind of maintaining,” Bonner said.

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“We had this big spike last year where consumers were looking for any content they could transactionally,” Wuthrich added. “This year we’ve come down, but we’re running against that big spike we had last year.

“The one drag that we’ve got for the first half of this year was really around new-release product because we don’t have a lot of new-release product.”

Still, Bonner noted that on a title-by-title basis, the new releases that have come out are performing well.

“If you look at it at on a title level, that product that is flowing in, it’s performing very well relative to historical,” he noted.

Then there’s premium rentals and sales (PVOD, PEST), which the DEG does not track. That segment of the business, which some industry pundits say helped the transactional market grow for the first time in a decade last year, has continued its appeal.

“Our estimate is there’s $1 billion of consumer spend that’s not captured in the numbers that you’re presenting,” Bonner said. “And those numbers are not insignificant. We’ve seen tremendous engagement from consumers on that product that’s made available early in its window. Again, some of that is to be expected — given where the box office has been over the past year — but the numbers, they’re fantastic.”

Wuthrich sees a strong last half of the year, as new releases flow into the transactional pipeline.

“Going into the back half of year, we’re pretty bullish around it,” he said.

“I think in Q3 and Q4, we’re not quite out of the pandemic yet, so I think there’s still going to be heavy engagement in the home, so I think the numbers should be strong again,” Bonner said.

While moves to put titles on streaming services early — and, in the case of Warner, on HBO Max concurrently with theaters — may shrink demand in the transactional realm, there are customers for every segment of the entertainment marketplace, said panelists.

“When it’s widely available on a streaming service, it does take some of the demand, but it also adds in other ways,” Wuthrich said.

“The reality is studios are all kind of making tradeoffs in terms of how to put product through different consumer offerings earlier than ever,” Bonner added. “We’re all trying to figure that out.”

Each segment of the business is finding an audience, panelists said.

“We see spikes in demand across each of those new offerings,” Bonner said. “There are consumers and there’s an audience out there for each of these.”

Even the physical business is holding its own, Wuthrich said.

“We found there are still over 35 million households in the U.S. that are still transacting in physical,” he said, noting that Warner entered into a joint venture, Studio Distribution Services (SDS), with Universal to serve the continuing physical disc consumer.

“One of the reasons that people continue to buy physical media is it’s a habit. Another reason though is quality. You can’t beat the quality to the television of physical media, particularly around 4K with HDR,” Wuthrich noted. He added that physical consumers span all demos, young and old. Close to 60% is in the age range of 25-44, he said.

And retailers have maintained a lot of that shelf space for physical during the pandemic.

“I think longer term, this is a mature category, and you’ll see continued consolidation,” Wuthrich said. “I think of the retailers that have, particularly the large ones that have exited or shrunk the category, we see stabilization in that space. And that’s where it was particularly encouraging, at least some of our retailers held most of the space, even through COVID, even though there wasn’t a lot of new product that was flowing in. And it was because it was something that was desired by their customer. They were looking for distractions and such. So maybe they were only shopping for diapers and popcorn, but they were still going by and picking up physical.”

‘F9’ Stays in the Lead on Vudu Chart

For the second consecutive week, Universal Pictures’ F9: The Fast Saga finished first among all titles on Fandango’s transactional VOD service Vudu for the week ended Aug. 8.

In F9, the ninth installment in the primary series of the “Fast & Furious” franchise, Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) leads his crew on another worldwide adventure to stop an evil scheme by his brother (John Cena). The film became available for premium rental July 30.

Lionsgate’s sequel The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard repeated No. 2. An action comedy starring Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson and Salma Hayek, The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard debuted for digital purchase July 27. In the film, the lethal odd couple — bodyguard Michael Bryce (Reynolds) and hit man Darius Kincaid (Jackson) — are back. Still unlicensed, Bryce is forced into action by Darius’s wife, the infamous international con artist Sonia Kincaid (Hayek). As Bryce is driven over the edge by the volatile spouses, the trio get in over their heads in a global plot and soon find that they are all that stand between Europe and a madman (Antonio Banderas).

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Paramount Pictures’ horror sequel A Quiet Place Part II, starring Emily Blunt, and written and directed by John Krasinski, took the bronze on the Vudu chart, rising from No. 4. The title is available for digital rental and purchase. In the film, following the deadly events at home, the Abbott family must face the terrors of the outside world as they continue to fight for survival in silence.

Universal Pictures’ horror thriller The Forever Purge, the latest installment in the dystopian “Purge” franchise about periods when all crime becomes legal, landed at No. 4. The film is available as a premium digital rental.

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Warner Bros.’ latest Monsterverse installment, Godzilla vs. Kong, is on sale and reentered the chart at No. 5.

Among the rookie titles on Vudu’s top 10 list for the week were Pixar’s fantasy adventure Luca, which previously debuted on the Disney+ streaming service at no additional charge and is available as a premium rental, and the Nicolas Cage indie Pig, about a truffle hunter in search of his kidnapped pig and available for digital rental and purchase.

Vudu’s top 10 titles for the week ended Aug. 8, in terms of revenue, are as follows:

  1. F9: The Fast Saga
  2. The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard
  3. A Quiet Place Part II
  4. The Forever Purge
  5. Godzilla vs. Kong
  6. Luca
  7. Wrath of Man
  8. The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It
  9. Pig
  10. Peter Rabbit 2

Fandango Unites TVOD Services FandangoNow and Vudu Under Vudu

Fandango has officially announced the combination of its two transactional movie and TV content services Vudu and FandangoNow under Vudu.

The newly updated Vudu replaces FandangoNow as the official movie and TV store on Roku. (Vudu uses Roku Pay.)

The new Vudu service will offer more than 200,000 new-release and catalog movies and TV shows to rent or buy digitally, including the largest collection of 4K Ultra HD titles and thousands of titles to watch for free with no subscription required, according to the Fandango press release.

Vudu, which was acquired by Fandango in 2020, is available in more than 75 million U.S. TV-connected device households, according to The NPD Group. The service has more than 60 million registered users and serves millions of consumers daily across smart TVs, connected devices, mobile and online, according to the release.

“At Fandango, we’ve been building a digital network that super-serves tens of millions of fans across the entire entertainment lifecycle, from movie and TV discovery with Rotten Tomatoes, to our three theatrical ticketing apps and now an even larger scale Vudu on-demand streaming destination,” Fandango president Paul Yanover said in a statement. “During a time where consumers have a myriad of viewing options, we’re proud to deliver a service that presents an unparalleled library of content, many titles that are not available on subscription services, and the flexibility to pay as you go.”

“Consumer excitement for premium video on-demand has grown significantly as users turn to streaming to access the latest movies and TV show releases,” Tedd Cittadine, VP of content partnerships at Roku, said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to continue our long-standing partnership with Fandango as we build a future where all TV will be streamed by creating a seamless experience for users to discover and enjoy premium video-on-demand releases.”

Vudu delivers multiple 4K Ultra HD audio-visual experiences, including premium formats such as Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision and is available on Samsung, LG and Vizio Smart TVs; the Roku platform; Amazon Fire TV; Apple TV; Xfinity X1 and Xfinity Flex; PlayStation; Xbox; TiVo; and more. Other benefits include personalized deals with “Mix & Match” bundles; family-friendly features such as “Kids Mode”; tools to manage digital collections, such as list-building; and the ability to transfer physical discs to digital.

“By bringing its two services together on Vudu, Fandango will be able to rapidly innovate and make bolder, faster enhancements to benefit consumers and partners, especially important during an ever-changing media landscape,” read the press release. “Vudu’s size, reach and breadth of content, paired with Fandango’s scale in theatrical ticketing, will provide even more opportunities for studios, brands and marketers to reach a massive high value entertainment audience.”

Starting now, FandangoNow customers can transfer their accounts and movie and TV collections to Vudu. Access to their libraries will thereafter be provided through Vudu. The Movie Store and TV Store on Roku devices will automatically update from FandangoNow to the new Vudu.

Vudu, as was FandangoNow, is part of the Movies Anywhere cloud-based library service.

Nicolas Cage Drama ‘Pig’ Hitting PVOD Aug. 3

The Nicolas Cage starrer Pig will be available for PVOD rental and sale Aug. 3.

In the dramatic thriller from Neon Films, Cage plays a truffle hunter who lives alone in the Oregon wilderness. He must return to his past in Portland after his beloved foraging pig is kidnapped.

The film, directed by Michael Sarnoski, also stars Alex Wolff and Adam Arkin. Released in theaters July 16, Pig has earned $2.6 million at the box office.

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‘F9’ Races to Top of Vudu and FandangoNow Charts

Universal Pictures’ F9: The Fast Saga topped both the Vudu and FandangoNow charts for the week ended Aug. 1.

Both Vudu and FandangoNow are transactional VOD services owned by Fandango.

In F9, the ninth installment in the primary “Fast & Furious” franchise, Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) leads his crew on another worldwide adventure to stop an evil scheme by his brother (John Cena). The film became available for premium rental July 30.

Lionsgate’s sequel The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard dropped to No. 2 on both charts. An action comedy starring Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson and Salma Hayek, The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard debuted for digital purchase July 27. In the film, the lethal odd couple — bodyguard Michael Bryce (Reynolds) and hit man Darius Kincaid (Jackson) — are back. Still unlicensed, Bryce is forced into action by Darius’s wife, the infamous international con artist Sonia Kincaid (Hayek). As Bryce is driven over the edge by the volatile spouses, the trio get in over their heads in a global plot and soon find that they are all that stand between Europe and a madman (Antonio Banderas).

Debuting at No. 3 on the Vudu chart (No. 4 on FandangoNow) was Sony Pictures’ family friendly Peter Rabbit 2, newly available for digital purchase. In the sequel to 2018’s Peter Rabbit, Bea, Thomas and the rabbits have created a makeshift family, but despite his best efforts, Peter can’t seem to shake his mischievous reputation. Adventuring out of the garden, Peter finds himself in a world where his mischief is appreciated, but when his family risks everything to come looking for him, Peter must figure out what kind of bunny he wants to be.

Universal Pictures’ horror thriller The Forever Purge, the latest installment in the dystopian “Purge” franchise about periods when all crime becomes legal, dropped to No. 3 on the FandangoNow chart (No. 5 on Vudu). The film is available as a premium digital rental.

Paramount Pictures’ horror sequel A Quiet Place Part II, starring Emily Blunt and written and directed by John Krasinski, slipped to No. 4 on the Vudu chart and No. 5 on FandangoNow’s chart. The title is available for digital rental and purchase. In the film, following the deadly events at home, the Abbott family must face the terrors of the outside world as they continue to fight for survival in silence.

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Other new titles on Fandango’s top 10 lists included Warner Bros.’ DC animated sequel Batman: The Long Halloween Part Two (No. 7 on Vudu) and Lionsgate’s Ireland-based romance Finding You (No. 10 on FandangoNow).

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Vudu’s top 10 titles for the week ended Aug. 1, in terms of revenue, were:

  1. F9: The Fast Saga
  2. The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard
  3. Peter Rabbit 2
  4. A Quiet Place Part II
  5. The Forever Purge
  6. The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It
  7. Batman: The Long Halloween — Part Two
  8. Nobody
  9. Wrath of Man
  10. Werewolves Within

 

FandangoNow’s top 10 titles for the week ended Aug. 1, in terms of revenue, were:

  1. F9: The Fast Saga
  2. The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard
  3. The Forever Purge
  4. Peter Rabbit 2
  5. A Quiet Place Part II
  6. The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It
  7. Wrath of Man
  8. Mortal Kombat
  9. Cruella
  10. Finding You