In time for the Sonic the Hedgehog 30th anniversary, Sonic Boom: The Complete Season 1 is available on Blu-ray Disc from Mill Creek Entertainment and NCircle Entertainment.
In the TV series, the anthropomorphic blue hedgehog Sonic (along with friends Tails, Knuckles and Sticks, as well as frenemy Doctor Eggman and Buster, a slime-belching robot dog) boosts, spins and peels out through a dystopian future.
The series, based on the Sonic the Hedgehog video game that debuted 23 years earlier, aired from 2014 to 2017.
Paramount Home Entertainment Feb. 24 reported fourth-quarter (ended Dec. 31, 2020) revenue of $176 million, an increase of 14%, or $21 million, from $155 million in the previous-year period. For the fiscal year, sales of packaged and digital movies and TV shows topped $706 million, up 14%, or $86 million, from $623 million in 2019.
The studio said home entertainment revenue was driven by higher sales of catalog and Miramax titles. Indeed, Sonic the Hedgehog was the studio’s top-selling DVD/Blu-ray Disc title in 2020.
Q4 2020 revenue decreased 3% year-over-year, reflecting the decline in theatrical revenue, partially offset by growth in licensing and home entertainment revenue. Theatrical revenue was immaterial in the quarter as a result of the closure or reduction in capacity of movie theaters in response to COVID-19.
Licensing revenue grew 39% year-over-year due to higher licensing of catalog titles. Adjusted pre-tax earnings was $18 million, compared with a loss of $119 million in the prior-year quarter as lower revenue was more than offset by lower distribution costs from fewer theatrical releases.
Consumers love catalog and Miramax movies. That’s the bottom line as Paramount Pictures Nov. 6 reported that sales of packaged-media and transactional digital movies reached $533 million, which is up 13.8% from revenue of $468 million during the previous-year period. In the quarter, revenue topped $150 million, essentially flat with the $153 million generated in the previous-year period.
Primary sales drivers in the quarter included Paramount catalog and Miramax movies. Top-selling Paramount titles include Terminator: Dark Fate, Sonic the Hedgehog, and the original Top Gun.
On the flipside, the famed studio generated just $6 million at the box office, underscoring ongoing fiscal challenges to the theater business due to the coronavirus pandemic. For the nine months of the fiscal year, revenue is down 58% to $176 million, from $418 million in the previous-year period. Parent ViacomCBS deemed theatrical revenue “immaterial” due to the closure or reduction in capacity of movie theaters in response to COVID-19.
To CEO Bob Bakish, the immediate future for Paramount lies in the 2021 rollout of SVOD platform Paramount+ and recent unification of ViacomCBS’s global streaming organization.
“Our company’s transformation is ahead of schedule and we are incredibly excited by the opportunities ahead,” Bakish said in a statement.
As expected, theatrical revenue flatlined to $3 million due to theater closures, with half-year revenue at $170 million, down 52.4% from $324 million through the first six months of 2019.
Licensing revenue decreased 20% due to lower sales from licensing of catalog titles, as well as the timing of deliveries of programs produced for third parties. Notably, pre-tax studio earnings increased 22%, reflecting lower distribution costs resulting from the absence of theatrical releases in the quarter, as well as the strong performance of Hedgehog in the home entertainment market.
The animated Scoob! debuted at No. 2 on the weekly “Watched at Home” chart the week ended July 25, with demand for the film skyrocketing in the wake of its release on Blu-ray Disc, 4K Ultra HD and DVD.
The Warner Bros. film was the first full-length animated Scooby-Doo movie intended for theatrical release, but with the mid-March closure of theaters due to the COVID-19 pandemic the film instead debuted digitally, on premium VOD and EST, on May 15.
Another rerouted animated movie, Trolls World Tour, from DreamWorks Animation, remained at No. 1 for the fourth consecutive week on the “Watched at Home” chart, which tracks transactional video activity compiled from studio and retailer data through DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.
Scoob! was available for streaming on the new HBO Max SVOD service prior to its release on physical media.
Paramount’s three seasons of “Yellowstone” again rounded out the top five.
With no new theatrical product entering the home entertainment pipeline, home viewing demand remains high for recent high-profile feature films such as Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog, Universal Pictures’ The Invisible Man and Sony Pictures Jumanji: The Next Level, which finished at Nos. 7, 8 and 9, respectively.
Another PVOD release, Universal Pictures’ The High Note, starring Dakota Johnson and Tracee Ellis Ross, debuted at No. 10 after its release through regular digital channels. The film becomes available on Blu-ray Disc and DVD on Aug. 11.
Also new to the chart: Lionsgate’s Capone, a multi-platform release about the notorious gangster Al Capone (No. 18), and the British science-fiction film Archive, released digitally to home audiences by Vertical Entertainment (No. 20).
Trolls World Tour (Universal/DreamWorks)
Scoob! (Warner Bros.)
Yellowstone: Season 1 (Paramount)
Yellowstone: Season 3 (Paramount)
Yellowstone: Season 2 (Paramount)
The Outpost (Screen Media)
Sonic the Hedgehog (Paramount)
The Invisible Man (Universal)
Jumanji: The Next Level (Sony)
The High Note (Universal)
Force of Nature (Lionsgate)
Bad Boys for Life (Sony)
Batman Beyond: Seasons 1-3 (Warner)
Harry Potter: The Complete 8-Film Collection (Warner)
Birds of Prey (Warner)
The Hunt (Universal)
Fantasy Island (Sony Pictures)
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 July 25
Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog was No. 1 on the domestic top 10 list of combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales for June 2020 according to the NPD Group’s VideoScan tracking service.
The result is unsurprising considering the video game adaptation topped the weekly disc sales charts for six consecutive weeks following its May 19 physical media release, including every week in June. Sonic had been the No. 2 seller in May.
June’s No. 2 seller was Universal’s The Invisible Man remake, which had been No. 9 the month before after its May 26 disc release.
Disney’s Onward, another May 19 disc release, rose to No. 3 in June after debuting at No. 4 in May.
The top seller in May, Warner’s Birds of Prey, slipped to No. 4 in June.
June’s No. 5 disc seller was Disney’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, a March disc release that had been No. 8 in May.
The only newcomers on the monthly chart were a pair of classic movies celebrating anniversary re-releases.
Paramount’s Top Gun from 1986 grabbed No. 7 after the film was released on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray in late May in anticipation of the upcoming theatrical sequel, which had been slated for June but was rescheduled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
No. 8 was 1975’s Jaws, which Universal re-released in early June on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray to mark the film’s 45th anniversary.
Sonic the Hedgehog‘s six-week reign atop the disc sales chart has come to an end. For the week ended July 4, Lionsgate’s Force of Nature debuted at No. 1 on the NPD VideoScan First Alert chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales.
Paramount’s Sonic slipped to No. 2 for the week, selling 79% as many copies as the newcomer. However, Sonic did manage to remain at No. 1 on the dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart for a second consecutive week, its sixth time atop the HD rankings in the seven weeks since its disc release.
Force of Nature, a thriller with Mel Gibson about a heist during a hurricane in Puerto Rico, was No. 2 on the Blu-ray Disc chart, with 39% of its total unit sales coming from the HD format.
On the Media Play News rental chart for the week ended July 5, Force of Nature also was No. 1. No. 2 was the thriller Becky, a Quiver Entertainment release with exclusive early disc-rental availability through Redbox.
Universal’s The Hunt, which had been the top rental the previous three weeks, slid to No. 3.
Rounding out the top five rentals were Universal’s The Invisible Man at No. 4 and Sony Pictures’ Bad Boys for Life at No. 5.
Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog spent its sixth consecutive week atop the NPD VideoScan First Alert chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales, the week ended June 27. The video game adaptation also returned to No. 1 on the dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart.
The six weeks is the longest a title has topped overall disc sales since Frozen spent eight straight weeks at No. 1 in 2014.
The week’s No. 2 disc seller was Paramount’s Top Gun. The 1986 action movie was recently re-released by the studio on 4K Ultra HD disc, though the UHD version accounted for just 7% of the title’s sales. With 26% of its total sales coming from Blu-ray Disc, Top Gun was No. 16 on the Blu-ray chart. A sequel, Top Gun: Maverick, is slated to hit theaters later this year.
No. 3 on the overall sales list and No. 2 on the Blu-ray list was Disney’s Onward.
Universal’s 1917 held steady at No. 4 overall and climbed a spot to No. 3 on the Blu-ray list.
The No. 5 overall selling disc was Universal’s remake of The Invisible Man, which was No. 10 on the Blu-ray chart.
The No. 4 Blu-ray was Disney’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which came in at No. 7 on the overall sales chart.
The No. 5 Blu-ray seller was Netflix’s first season of “Stranger Things,” which is available exclusively at Target. Copies of the season have been heavily discounted of late, with Target clearing them out at $3 each, which likely explains the recent spike in sales for the title.
Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog is the big hit of the coronavirus pandemic.
The animated feature is one of a handful of high-profile titles that received an early digital release, at a premium price, at the end of March.
It was subsequently released through traditional digital channels, as well as Blu-ray Disc and DVD, and has held onto the top spot on the weekly physical media sales charts, published by NPD VideoScan, for five weeks.
One of the more interesting aspects of Paramount’s marketing campaign for the film, based on the popular video game franchise, was an app that, through augmented reality technology, allowed users to create their own videos with characters and other elements from the film, and then post the results on social media.
The result was a flurry of TikTok videos in which fans appeared to “dance” or otherwise interact with Sonic — including one, with more than 125,000 likes, in which Sonic keeps appearing on a girl gamer’s Fortnite screen until she finally says, “All right, Sonic, you win — I’ll watch your movie.” In all, the campaign reached tens of millions of consumers in the United States in a few short weeks.
The augmented reality (AR) component of the Sonic campaign is the work of a company called Fuseit, whose patented AR platform specializes in brand content creation.
Partnering with clients that range from Coca-Cola to Old Spice/Procter & Gamble to the major Hollywood studios, the company’s AR technology lets anyone create a professional-looking video with whatever image or icon the client brand chooses — all in real-time, with just one click.
Fuseit was launched in 2017 by Liat Sade-Sternberg, an Israeli businesswoman and entrepreneur who now lives in Los Angeles. Prior to launching the company, Sade-Sternberg was the first Israeli woman to win MIDEMLAB, the leading startup competition of the music industry. She also served as the VP of sales and marketing at Babylon, an Israeli public company that provides translation software.
“The concept behind Fuseit is to utilize content in innovative new ways to significantly increase consumer awareness and fan engagement with brands, and generate a solid ROI,” Sade-Sternberg says. “While current consumer engagement on social platforms has sagged to 1% or less, we understand that advertisement methods must change, and augmented reality can boost advertiser results 50% or more while they gain a deeper engagement with their consumers/fans.”
Fuseit’s AR technology has been previously utilized by Warner Bros. to promote the theatrical releases of The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part and Godzilla: King of the Monsters.
“It really comes from an understanding that marketing and social media have changed, and will continue to change, rapidly, and so much of the advertising is really not working,” Sade-Sternberg says. “Marketers are spending more and more money on Facebook and Instagram and other social platforms, but they’re getting less and less impactful results than they used to. Consumers desire real engagement. These days, when brands are boycotting Facebook ads, adopting digital innovations such as Fuseit is more important than ever.”
She also believes Fuseit’s technology is more relevant than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic since shelter-at-home orders, business closures and event cancellations have led to a steep decline in live engagement opportunities.
“If you want to really engage with your customers, and with your fans now,” Sade-Sternberg said, “the only way to do it is through augmented reality. Now you can meet consumers in their homes and on their social feeds, and do it fast, easily and cost-effectively utilizing the content the brands already have.”
With the slate of major new DVD and Blu-ray releases coming to a near standstill as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog is running past the competition.
The video game adaptation spent its fifth consecutive week atop the NPD VideoScan First Alert chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales, the week ended June 20.
Sonic‘s four-week run atop the dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart came to an end, however, as it fell to No. 3 for the week. Warner’s Birds of Prey jumped back into the top spot there, up two spots from a week earlier.
Birds of Prey also moved up to No. 2 on the overall disc sales chart, selling about 96% as many copies as Sonic during the week.