‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’ Coming to Digital Feb. 4, Disc — Including 4K — Feb. 18

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, starring Tom Hanks as the venerable Fred Rogers, will debut on digital Feb. 4 and 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD Feb. 18 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Hanks, who picked up an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for the role, portrays children’s television icon Mister Rogers of “Mister Rogers Neighborhood” in this film based on the true story of a real-life friendship between Rogers and journalist Tom Junod. After a jaded magazine writer (Matthew Rhys) is assigned a profile of Rogers, he overcomes his skepticism, learning about kindness, love and forgiveness from America’s most beloved neighbor.

The film also stars Susan Kelechi Watson and Chris Cooper.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood made $60.9 million at the global box office, all but about $300,000 of it in U.S. and Canadian theaters.

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Bonus features on the 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD include more than 15 minutes of additional scenes, a blooper reel, an all-new featurette starring Daniel Tiger, filmmaker commentary and a behind-the-scenes look at the film.

Oh, What a Year — With Transformational Changes, Home Entertainment in 2019 Got Smaller — and Bigger

The phrase “transformational change” has been used so much it’s become a cliché — and yet there really is no better way to describe what happened in not just home entertainment, but also the entertainment industry overall, in 2019.

The completion in March of the Walt Disney Co.’s purchase of 20th Century Fox saw the number of major studios drop to five from six. Some of the home entertainment sector’s most familiar faces were suddenly gone, including Mike Dunn, the longtime leader of Fox’s home entertainment unit, and Danny Kaye, the visionary behind Fox Innovation Labs. Later, in the summer, Janice Marinelli, Disney’s home entertainment chief, also exited in a surprise move, given that she had opened an office on the Fox studio lot and was reportedly screening staffers.

In November, two new streaming giants emerged to take on longtime leader Netflix, Apple TV+ and, most significantly, Disney+.

Meanwhile, a new flavor of streaming gathered momentum: free to consumers, paid for by advertisers. Among the heavyweights jumping into what’s known as “AVOD” are ViacomCBS, with its Pluto TV acquisition, and Comcast Corp., which in December was reported to be in advanced talks to acquire Xumo TV, which boasts more than 140 digital channels of programming across 12 genres, including sports, news, kids and family entertainment.

The overall impact of all these developments on home entertainment: It got smaller — and bigger.

Smaller, because the traditional transactional business model that has defined home entertainment since its birth more than 40 years ago has increasingly come under fire, with subscription streaming, in particular, gobbling up more and more consumer attention — and dollars — that previously would have gone toward buying or renting movies, either on disc or through digital retailers.

But also bigger, because streaming, in its various incarnations, is now widely accepted as being part of home entertainment — which is now broadly defined as people watching what they want, on demand. There’s even a new name for all of this — direct-to-consumer — which was first adopted by Disney and is now used interchangeably with “home entertainment.”

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Bob Buchi, president of Paramount Home Entertainment, says 2019 “was the year of transition.”

“From media mergers and changing consumer viewing habits to the explosion of streaming services, the landscape has shifted dramatically,” he says.

The Nov. 1 launch of Apple TV+ marked the tech giant’s entry into the content business, with nine original series. One of them, “The Morning Show,” picked up several Golden Globe nominations from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), a first for a new streaming service.

Less than two weeks later, Disney launched its much-ballyhooed Disney+, with a full menu of in-demand movies and series — including the “Star Wars” spinoff “The Mandalorian.” Disney said more than 10 million people signed up for the service in the first 24 hours. By the end of November, the service had 24 million subscribers, according to estimates from Wall Street firm Cowen & Co. (Netflix as of October had more than 60 million domestic subs.)

“It’s an exciting time and we believe we have a unique and significant role to play,” Ricky Strauss, president of content and marketing for Disney+, told Media Play News on the eve of the service’s launch. “Disney+ will compete based on the unparalleled strength of our brands, the quality of our intellectual property, and expertise in high-quality video streaming.”

And yet industry insiders insist that despite streaming’s growth, there’s room for transactional — largely because new theatrical films, particularly the blockbusters, aren’t available on SVOD services. This distinction has prompted FandangoNow, one of the big digital retailers, to boldly proclaim on its home page, “New releases not on Netflix, Amazon Prime or Hulu subscriptions.”

“Because we’re the first point of entry for fans to see movies in theaters, and first at home, we’ve seen a significant growth among consumers who are excited to own movies as soon as they’re available digitally,” says Cameron Douglas, head of FandangoNow. “Fans looking for high-quality content right out of theaters, including 4K HDR movies, don’t have to wait until they arrive later on subscription services, and innovative deals like rental binge bundles and the availability on new platforms keep them coming back to transactional digital services like our own.”

“New movie releases continue to be sought out by consumers during the first window in the home amidst the frenzied buzz around new streaming services,” adds Michael Bonner, EVP of digital distribution for Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. “While there’s no denying the landscape is becoming more competitive, this business has successfully co-existed with abundant availability of non-transactional content for a long time and we expect it to continue to do so.”

“There is space — and demand — for both transactional content as well as streaming — just as there is consumer interest in both digital and physical,” says Amy Jo Smith, president and CEO of trade association DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.

Beyond new releases, streamers have a limited selection of older films and TV shows, particularly with their increased focus on original content.

“For many consumers, their streaming options are good enough,” says Mark Fisher, president and CEO of home entertainment trade association the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA). “But just like the days when the first video rental stores opened and made it easy for the consumer to watch anything they wanted to watch when they wanted to watch it, online VOD retailers offer that same opportunity to the consumer. I know that every time I see a montage of old movie clips, I’m driven to watch titles that aren’t new releases — and these are titles not readily (or easily) found on the streaming services.”

Sales of digital movies, in particular, were a bright spot, with consumer spending up nearly 7% in the first nine months of 2019, according to trade association DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.

“We’ve continued to see growth in EST (electronic sellthrough) — both in our new releases and in our catalog,” says Jason Spivak, EVP of distribution, for Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. “Certainly the enhanced consumer experience enabled by Movies Anywhere is part of that, as is increasing consumer connectivity in their homes. EST continues to gain prominence in our marketing planning, release data scheduling, and retailer partnerships.”

Ron Schwartz, president of Lionsgate Home Entertainment, says Lionsgate EST revenue grew 30% this year, “four to five times faster than the overall industry. With increased collaboration between studios and retailers, and more offerings such as dynamic bundling, customers are starting to build their lockers up to 10-plus titles. Recent data shows that once a customer gets to between 10 and 12 titles in their locker, their EST purchasing behavior doubles.”

In addition to selling movies, digital retailers also offer them for a la carte streaming, the digital equivalent of a physical movie rental. Redbox remains the only retailer to offer both digital and physical rentals, the former through an e-commerce site and the latter, through a network of more than 40,000 kiosks situated outside (or inside) large retailers like Walmart, convenience and drug stores, and other retailers.

“Redbox owns the transactional space with more transactions across physical and digital formats — for rental and purchase — than any other transactional provider,” says Redbox CEO Galen Smith.

In 2019, he said, Redbox expanded its offering of 4K Ultra HD discs into new markets, and stepped up promotions as well, with its Back to the Movies campaign and a joint Dinner & A Movie offering with meal delivery service DoorDash.

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In addition, Redbox Entertainment, a new content acquisition and production division, has further transformed Redbox into a multi-channel content provider and programmer. Launched in October, the new division is headed by Marc Danon, who spent eights at Lionsgate, most recently as SVP of acquisitions and business development.

Disc sales in 2019 continued to decline in the low double digits, with DEG reporting that in the first nine months of the year, combined 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray Disc, and DVD revenues were down 18.5% to an estimated $2.3 billion — exactly half what they amounted to five years ago, in 2014.

But studios continued to support the disc. And while a trend among smaller titles is to release them only on DVD and digital, bypassing Blu-ray Disc, major new releases are still getting significant marketing campaigns behind them, particularly for the 4K Ultra HD editions. The UHD disc also made headlines last August when the UHD Alliance, along with leaders in consumer electronics, the Hollywood studios and members of the filmmaking community, announced collaboration on a new viewing mode for watching movies called “Filmmaker Mode,” designed to reproduce the content in the way the creator intended. Filmmaker Mode, bowing next year, will allow viewers to enjoy a more cinematic experience on their UHD TVs when watching movies by disabling all post-processing (e.g. motion smoothing, etc.) so the movie or television show is displayed as it was intended by the filmmaker, preserving the correct aspect ratios, colors and frame rates.

“For the time being, 4K UHD is still the gold standard for at-home content,” says Jim Wuthrich, president of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment & Games. “With hardware costs dropping and television functionality such as Filmmaker Mode being made available next year, there is still a great value proposition in owning content in 4K UHD, both physically and digitally, as is still represents the best home-viewing experience.”

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“As evidenced by the exceptional growth of 4K UHD to date, it is clear that there is a sizable appetite for premium high-definition products, and that format plays a meaningful role in boosting retail traffic,” says Eddie Cunningham, president of Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

Retail partnerships are key, Cunningham adds. “Given that physical and digital transactional consumption rates are remaining steady year over year and that disc purchases are making up more than half of that consumption, there’s no question that movie buyers continue to be vitally important to retail,” he says. “At no other time in our industry has it been more critical to ensure that we work together to retain the loyalty of movie consumers, creating urgency for our products and delivering the utmost value, quality, accessibility and convenience possible.”

 

‘It: Chapter Two,’ ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ Debut Atop Disc Sales Charts

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment’s It: Chapter Two debuted at No. 1 on both the NPD VideoScan First Alert chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc units sales, and the dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart the week ended Dec. 14.

The second part of the adaptation of the popular Stephen King Novel focuses on the adult versions of the characters shown fighting the fear monster in 2017’s It: Chapter One. The film earned $211.6 million at the domestic box office.

A collection of both films was No. 18 on the overall sales chart and No. 14 on the Blu-ray chart.

Sony Pictures’ Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was a close No. 2 on both charts, selling 74% as many total copies as the horror sequel, and 86% as many Blu-rays. The latest film from Quentin Tarantino, which re-creates Hollywood in 1969, earned $141 million from U.S. theaters.

The previous week’s top seller, HBO’s Game of Thrones: The Complete Eighth Season, slipped to No. 3 on both charts.

The No. 4 overall seller and No. 5 on the Blu-ray chart was Disney’s Toy Story 4.

Universal Pictures’ Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw was no. 5 overall and No. 4 on the Blu-ray chart.

A third newcomer, Universal’s Hustlers, was No. 7 on both charts. The film, based on the true story of a team of strippers who conspire to rip off their Wall Street clients, earned $105 million at the domestic box office.

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Blu-ray Disc formats accounted for 63% of total It: Chapter Two sales compared with 72% for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and 52% for Hustlers. The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc format accounted for 15% of It: Chapter Two‘s total, 21% for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and 7% for Hustlers.

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On the Media Play News rental chart for the week ended Dec. 15, It: Chapter Two was No. 1, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was No. 2, and Hustlers was No. 3.

The previous week’s top rental, Lionsgate’s Angel Has Fallen, was No. 4, while Fox’s Ready or Not was No. 5.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 12-14-19
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 12-15-19
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 12-14-19
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 12-14-19
Sales Report for Week Ended 12-14-19
Digital Sales Snapshot for Week Ended 12-16-19

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.

Sony Pictures Sets Home Release Dates for ‘Zombieland: Double Tap’

Sony Pictures has set home release dates for Zombieland: Double Tap, the zombie comedy sequel that hit the big screen earlier this year — 10 years after the original Zombieland.

The film, which grossed an estimated $72.2 million in North American movie theaters, will be released on digital Dec. 24 and on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Jan. 21, 2020.

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Bonus materials for the home edition include audio commentary by director Ruben Fleischer, a blooper reel, nine alternate and extended scenes, and several behind-the-scenes featurettes about the making of the film.

Returning cast members include Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Abigail Breslin  and Emma Stone. They are joined by newcomers Rosario Dawson (TV’s “The Defenders”), Zoey Deutch (TV’s “The Politician”), Luke Wilson (Old School), Avan Jogia (Shaft), and Thomas Middleditch (TV’s “Silicon Valley”).

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Set one decade after the events of the first film, Zombieland: Double Tap finds Tallahassee (Harrelson), Columbus (Eisenberg), Little Rock (Breslin), and Wichita (Stone) working together to kill zombies from their new home in the now-vacant White House.

A full list of bonus materials:

  • Extended bloopers and outtakes
  • Alternate and extended scenes
      • “The Beast is Gone”: Tragedy falls upon Tallahassee.
      • “Van Rides”: A vehicle says a lot about a person.
      • “Would Have Never Met”: Wichita and Columbus discuss what their lives would have been like if not for the zombie apocalypse.
      • “In Bed”: Tallahassee gets randy
      • “Breakfast at Babylon”: Cruelty-free breakfast and conversation.
      • “Car Ride”: Road trips were made for family bonding.
      • “Melting Gun”: Tallahassee says goodbye to another friend.
      • “There’s a Party Tonight”: Hanging out with a bunch of hippies.
      • “Alternate Proposal”: Love is the perfect mix of cool and uncool.
  • “The Doppelgangers”: From stunts to special effects, this in-depth piece breaks down doppelgangers Flagstaff and Albuquerque through interviews, demonstrations, and multiple cameras.
  • “The Rides of Zombieland”: From the Beast to Big Fat Death (and a hated Pontiac Trans Sport in between) this short focuses on the cars the zombie killers use to get around.
  • “Rules of Making a Zombie Film”: A documentary on the rules of making a zombie film.
  • “Making Babylon”: Explore the climactic third act location in the film. known in Zombieland as Babylon.  Part fortress, part freshman dormitory, Babylon is the safe-place for a generation of misguided peace-loving retro-hippies.
  • “New Blood”: Profiles on new cast members Rosario Dawson, Zoey Deutch, and Avan Jogia.
  • “Single Take Doppelganger Fight”: Director Fleischer shares the camera monitor during the Doppelganger fight sequence.
  • Commentary with Fleischer.
  • “Zombieland Ad Council”

‘Chicken Soup’ Ups Q3 Fiscal Revenue, Loss

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment dramatically upped its profile earlier this year when it acquired majority ownership of ad-supported streaming service Sony Crackle from Sony Pictures Television.

The company said the acquisition increased third-quarter (ended Sept. 30) revenue 157% to $17 million from $6.6 million in the previous-year period. It also ballooned the company’s net loss to $13.3 million compared to a net loss of $200,000 in the year-ago period and a net income of $200,000 million before preferred dividends.

Online networks, which includes Crackle, Popcornflix and Pivotshare, generated $14.4 million in revenue compared to $1.8 million in the year-ago period.

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The quarterly operating loss reflected certain non-cash or one-time expenses, including $4.7 million in non-cash amortization, $1.6 million of transitional expenses related to the Crackle Plus joint venture, and $1.2 million in film library amortization.

CSSE noted that if the aforementioned expenses were excluded from SG&A or cost of revenue, Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment  would have reported a quarterly operating loss of $2.1 million.

“Our record third quarter results show the early promise of our transformation of our company into a leading AVOD network operator,” CEO William J. Rouhana Jr., said in a statement. “Crackle Plus is performing as expected, and our new original series ‘Going From Broke’ provides initial evidence of our growing network reach and engagement potential.”

The Ashton Kutcher-produced series has generated more than 5 millions views since launching on Oct. 17.

Rouhana said the company is “reinventing” its distribution and production business to focus on “innovative” studio launches, library content acquisitions and sponsor-funded original productions.

“We already see significant positive business momentum in the fourth quarter, where we expect to see a combination of all our primary strategic pieces in place for the first time, setting the stage for potentially significant growth in 2020,” he said.

‘Angry Birds 2’ Goes to the Zoo

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment celebrated the home entertainment launch of The Angry Birds Movie 2 Nov. 9 at the Los Angeles Zoo. The sequel was available Oct. 29 on digital and debuted Nov. 12 on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. (Photos by Jamie Phan)

Mike’s Picks: ‘David Crosby: Remember My Name’ and ‘My Favorite Year’

David Crosby: Remember My Name

Sony Pictures, Documentary, $25.99 DVD, $24.99 Blu-ray, ‘R’ for language, drug material and brief nudity.
Featuring David Crosby, Cameron Crowe, Roger McGuinn, Jackson Browne.
2019.
Filmmaker A.J. Eaton had apparently been working with Crosby for a while fashioning what came to be a combo confessional, irresistible rock-memories clip show and something of an L.A. tourist road movie that veers off into footage of its subject on the road trying to survive the grind of touring to small venues while in his late 70s. Then rock-journalist-turned-auteur filmmaker Cameron Crowe entered the picture to sign on as one of the producers and also as off-camera interviewer. The result displays the savviness toward its subject and milieu that we’d naturally expect from someone of Crowe’s origins.
Extras: In addition to deleted and expanded scenes, there’s a half-hour Q&A with Crowe joining Crosby on stage for questions after a pre-release showing of the film.
Read the Full Review

My Favorite Year

Available via Warner Archive
Warner, Comedy, $21.99 Blu-ray, ‘PG.’
Stars Peter O’Toole, Mark Linn-Baker, Jessica Harper, Joseph Bologna.
1982.
Richard Benjamin struck gold as a director in a way he never would again in 1982’s My Favorite Year, a modest but transcendently sweeter-than-ever comedy.
Extras: The Warner Archive Blu-ray includes a commentary from Benjamin carried over from the old DVD.
Read the Full Review

‘Spider-Man’ Ups Sony Pictures Theatrical, Home Entertainment Q2 Revenue

Sony Pictures again pulled out its perennial ace card, Spider-Man, with predictable results.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Oct. 30 reported second-quarter (ended Sept. 30) revenue of $160 million, up $1 million from revenue of $159 million during the previous-year period. One of its biggest home video sellers was Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which was released to retail March 19.

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Sony Pictures theatrical revenue topped $2.1 billion, a 31% increase from revenue of $1.6 billion driven largely by the webslinger.

Spider-Man: Far From Home led with $1.1 billion at the global box office since its July 2 debut, while Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood added $390 million. The Angry Birds Movie 2 contributed $125 million.

This compared with Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation ($516 million); The Equalizer 2 ($187 million); Slender Man ($52 million) and Searching with $65 million in the previous-year period.

Merchandising: ‘Spider-Man’ Brings Exclusives Home

The big retailers trotted out their usual exclusive add-ons for the Oct. 1 Blu-ray release of Sony Pictures’ Spider-Man: Far From Home.

Best Buy offered the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray of the superhero film in Steelbook packaging for $32.99.

Best Buy’s ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ 4K Steelbook

Target had the Blu-ray/DVD combo pack with a 48-page mini-book for $24.99.

Target’s ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ Blu-ray with mini-book

And Walmart packaged the Blu-ray combo pack with a Night Monkey retro action figure for $27.96.

Walmart’s ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ Blu-ray gift set with Night Monkey figure

Also at Walmart, fans looking to prepare for the 2020 debut of the new season of “Doctor Who could pick up the DVD of BBC Studios’ Doctor Who: The Complete Eleventh Series as a gift set with a collectible 3-inch figure of the Doctor for $29.96.

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