‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’ Tops Redbox Digital Chart

Universal Pictures’ Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, a musical comedy based on the music of Swedish pop group ABBA, took the top spot on the Redbox On Demand chart for the week ended Oct. 28.

The Redbox On Demand chart tracks digital transactions, both electronic sellthrough (EST) and transactional video-on-demand (TVOD) streaming, the electronic equivalent to renting a DVD or Blu-ray Disc.

The film, a belated sequel to 2008’s Mamma Mia, debuted at No. 4 on the Redbox kiosk chart, which tracks DVD and Blu-ray Disc rentals at the company’s more than 40,000 red disc vending machines, typically positioned inside or outside of supermarkets and mass merchants like Walmart.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again grossed more than $120 million in North American theaters and features an ensemble cast that includes Lily James, Amanda Seyfried, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters, Pierce Brosnan, Andy García, Dominic Cooper, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgård, Jessica Keenan Wynn, Alexa Davies, Jeremy Irvine, Josh Dylan, Hugh Skinner, Cher, and Meryl Streep.

The Mamma Mia sequel was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on Oct. 23, two weeks after it became available for digital purchase or streaming.

On the Redbox kiosk chart, Walt Disney’s Ant-Man and the Wasp moved up to No. 1 in its second week of availability, knocking Universal Pictures’ Skyscraper to No. 2 after two weeks as the most in-demand disc rental.

Sony Pictures’ Hotel Transvylvania slipped a spot to No. 3 after two weeks in the second chart position.

Rounding out the top five on the Redbox disc rental chart was Universal Pictures’ The First Purge, which moved up a spot from No. 6 the prior week.

On the Redbox On Demand digital chart, Skyscraper and Hotel Transylvania 3 both slipped a spot, to No. 2 and No. 3, to make way for Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.

Warner’s Ocean’s 8 moved back up to 4 from No. 5 the previous week, with Universal Pictures’ Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom taking its place, down two spots from the previous week.

 

Top DVD and Blu-ray Disc Rentals, Redbox Kiosks, Week Ending October 28

  1. Ant-Man and the Wasp
  2. Skyscraper
  3. Hotel Transylvania 3
  4. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (new)
  5. The First Purge
  6. Sicario: Day of the Soldado
  7. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
  8. Reprisal
  9. Solo: A Star Wars Story
  10. Ocean’s 8

 

Top Digital, Redbox On Demand, Week Ending October 28

  1. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
  2. Skyscraper
  3. Hotel Transylvania 3
  4. Ocean’s 8
  5. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
  6. The First Purge
  7. Tag
  8. Sicario: Day of the Soldado
  9. Hotel Artemis
  10. Unfriended: Dark Web

 

Visit the Redbox website.

Buy or rent Redbox On Demand movies.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Posts Flat Q2 Revenue

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Oct. 30 reported second-quarter (ended Sept. 30) revenue of $159 million, down less than 2% from $162 million during the previous-year period.

Through the year-to-date fiscal year, home entertainment revenue is up nearly 9% to $393 million compared to $361 million last year.

Releases in the quarter included The Leisure Seeker, The Good Doctor: Season 1, The Blacklist: Season 5, Superfly andFraggle Rock: The Complete Series. Releases in the previous-year period included Smurfs: The Lost Village, Resident Evil: Vendetta, The Blacklist: Season 4, Rough NightandStarship Troopers: Traitor of Mars.

Top-selling SPHE discs in 2018 remain Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle with $56.7 million in revenue via more than 2.5 million combined DVD/Blu-ray Discs units sold; Peter Rabbit($17.4 million) through 932,000 discs, and Spider-Man: Homecoming($8.2 million, 630,000), according to The-Numbers.com.

Overall, Sony Pictures posted operating income of $23.5 million on revenue of $241 million. That compared to operating income of $7.7 million on $244 million during the previous-year period.

Theatrical revenue declined due to year-over-year comparisons with Spider-Man: Homecomingin the previous-year quarter.

The studio is projecting operating income of $50 million on revenue of $1 billion for the fiscal year, ending March 31, 2019. That’s up from $44 million and $990 million in revenue during the previous (July) projection.

Sony generated $41.1 million in operating incomes on $1.01 billion in revenue in fiscal-year 2017.

 

 

Netflix in Content Crosshairs

Lost in Netflix’s strong third-quarter subscriber growth numbers was the streaming media giant’s surprise revelation about the ownership status of its original content.

With Netflix spending upwards of $12 billion on original content in 2018 – underscored by $18 billion in third-party content obligations – the service said its alarming negative free cash flow is about to level off.

To assuage naysayers, Netflix (on page three of the shareholder newsletter), disclosed the ownership status of original programing – a dynamic that will continue to change as the Walt Disney Co. pulls original movies and related content from Netflix for its own pending over-the-top video platform.

Netflix says it has three major categories of content: licensed non-first-window content, such as “​Shameless​”; licensed original first-window content, such as ​“Orange Is the New Black”(​owned and developed by Lionsgate), “Ozark” (Sony Pictures Television) and “Insatiable” (CBS); and owned original first-window content from its own studio, such as ​“Stranger Things​.”

The latter category also includes “Big Mouth,” “The Ranch​,” “​Bright​,” “Godless,”​“The Kissing Booth​,” ​“3%,”​“​Dark,”​“​Sacred Games”​and “Nailed It​.”

Within those categories there are lots of subdivisions and per-territory treatments, but those are Netflix big three content buckets.

Netflix claims the classification of content will help reduce its reliance on outside studios, provide greater control over content it creates in-house (i.e., long-term global rights), increase brand/consumer product tie-ins, and lower costs (avoiding third-party studio mark-ups).

“To do this, we’ve had to develop new capabilities to manage the entire production process from creative support, production planning, crew and vendor management to visual effects, to name a few,” Netflix management wrote in the letter.

At the same time, Netflix is staking its future largely on proprietary content, whose popularity is at the whim of an increasingly fickle consumer.

Indeed, with the exception of Emmy-nominated “Stranger Things” and “Godless,” most of Netflix’s award-nominated original content is third-party sourced. The rest is a “hot mess,” according to Wedbush Securities media analyst Michael Pachter.

“We think it is downright quixotic of the company to presume that it can produce compelling content that will replace the licensed content it currently displays from major studios,” Pachter wrote in a note.

Pachter believes that should Netflix somehow default on its mushrooming debt, creditors would be hard pressed to convert any of the content into cash, particularly any of the capitalized content that is owned by others.

“It is simply impossible to comprehend how Netflix has been able to capitalize over $18 billion of its content spending with so few compelling owned original television series and films,” he wrote.

Sony Sets Digital, DVD, Blu-ray Disc Release Dates for ‘Alpha’

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has set home release dates for Alpha, a historical adventure film directed and co-written by Albert Hughes and written by Daniele Sebastian Wiedenhaupt.

The film, based on a story by Hughes, earned $35.5 million in North American theaters. Set in the last Ice Age, it stars Kodi Smit-McPhee as a young Cro-Magnon hunter who befriends an injured wolf, with Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson as his father.

The film will be made available on digital and redeemable via the Movies Anywhere App on Oct. 30 and on Blu-ray Disc and DVD on Nov. 13.

Alpha also stars Leonor Varela (Blade II), Marcin Kowalcyk (“You are God” and “Hardkor Disco”), Jens Hultén (“M15 Rogue Nation”), Natassia Malthe (Elektra) and Spencer Bogaret (Vincent).

The Blu-ray Disc and Digital release contain never-before-seen content, including a director’s cut, an alternate opening, alternate endings, three additional deleted scenes with director commentaries, and four behind-the-scenes featurettes. In “The Wolf Behind Alpha,” fans learn all about Chuck, the dog-wolf hybrid cast as Alpha. Audiences get an inside look into the training that Chuck and Smit-McPhee went through to create a real-life bond in “Boy & Wolf.” In “Building the World,” the cast and crew discuss creating the film with insights into the creation of the visuals with visual effects, new language, extensive research on artifacts, costumes and more. And in “Hero’s Journey,” Smit-McPhee leads the conversation about what it was like playing such an emotional character and his character’s development through the film.

The DVD release includes two of the featurettes, “The Wolf Behind Alpha” and “Boy & Wolf.”

Imax and DTS Form Home Entertainment Partnership

Imax Corp. and DTS, a wholly owned subsidiary of Xperi Corp., have announced a new home entertainment partnership with the launch of the Imax Enhanced program.

The new certification and licensing program combines the high-end consumer electronics products with Imax digitally re-mastered 4K HDR content and DTS audio technologies to offer consumers a new level of quality in immersive sight and sound experiences for the home, according to a press release from Xperi.

The companies also announced that a number of global consumer electronics and entertainment market leaders have joined the program as launch partners, including Sony Electronics, Sony Pictures, Paramount Pictures, and Sound United – parent company to Denon and Marantz.

To be accepted into the program, which launches this fall, consumer electronics manufacturers must design top-of-the-line 4K HDR televisions, A/V receivers, sound systems and other home theater equipment to meet a carefully prescribed set of the highest audio and video performance standards, set by a certification committee of Imax and DTS engineers and Hollywood’s leading technical specialists, according to the release.

Imax and DTS developed the program “to make it easier for consumers to select the products and content that will deliver the highest-quality, sharpest 4K HDR images and powerful, immersive sound at home,” according to the release.

“The companies are designing an Imax Mode for the enhanced devices that will be meticulously optimized to play digitally re-mastered content as the filmmaker intended in the home,” the release stated.

Consumers can access content from Hollywood studios as well as select Imax documentaries through the Imax Home Entertainment division. The company will also work with its global studio and other content partners to make available enhanced versions of blockbuster movies and additional programming, according to the release.

“While the Imax theatrical experience continues to be the gold standard in blockbuster movie-going, today we are launching an exciting new program that applies components of Imax’s and DTS’ technology and expertise to deliver consumers a level of quality never before experienced at home,” said Imax CEO Richard L. Gelfond in a statement. “This is a natural extension of our core business in experiential entertainment. By partnering with a well-established consumer electronics licensing leader, we can leverage both our brand and key technology innovations through DTS’ global licensing platform, without having to make the direct investments often necessary to build a new revenue stream. DTS will build that new business and we will share in the benefits from the program. We’re encouraged by the strong interest from our launch partner companies and look forward to working with DTS to grow the program further over time.”

“DTS has a rich history in delivering premium entertainment experiences to the theater and at home, and the Imax Enhanced program is an exciting opportunity to stay at the forefront of home entertainment,” said Xperi CEO Jon Kirchner in a statement. “Through the combined engineering and licensing efforts of the DTS and Imax teams, as well as support from a number of the world’s leading device and content partners, the Imax Enhanced program will bring a completely new, enhanced experience to the home while also supporting the continued penetration of DTS decoders, bringing premium sound to consumers’ devices.”

The program will use a proprietary post-production process developed by Imax to digitally re-master content to produce more vibrant colors, greater contrast and sharper clarity, according to the release. The companies will also partner with Hollywood sound mixers to use a special variant of the DTS:X codec technology integrated in home audio equipment to deliver an Imax signature sound experience.

Animated ‘Hotel Transylvania 3’ to Haunt Fans on Digital Sept. 25, Disc Oct. 9 From Sony

The animated Hotel Transylvania 3 will make its debut on Digital HD Sept. 25, and on Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD Oct. 9 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The family comedy has grossed more than $425 million in theaters worldwide.

In the third installment in the series, Mavis surprises Dracula with a family voyage on a luxury, haunted monster cruise ship. The unexpected happens when Drac falls for the ship’s human captain Ericka.

The voice cast includes Adam Sandler (Grown-Ups), Andy Samberg (TV’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”), Selena Gomez (Spring Breakers), Kevin James (Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2), David Spade (TV’s “Rules of Engagement”), Steve Buscemi (TV’s “Boardwalk Empire”), Keegan Michael Key (TV’s “Key and Peele”), Molly Shannon (TV’s “Saturday Night Live”), Fran Drescher (TV’s “The Nanny”), Kathryn Hahn (Bad Moms), Jim Gaffigan (Super Troopers 2) and Mel Brooks (Young Frankenstein).

Bonus materials include three sing alongs, “Dennis Had a Giant Dog,” sung by Dennis & Winnie, “Monsters Like to Party Down,” sung by Johnny, and “Oh These Wolf Pups,” sung by Wanda Werewolf; the featurette “Plan Your Own Spook-tacular Sleepover,” with details on snacks to crafts to games; a “Vampire Make Over: Mavis and Drac Tutorial,” about how to turn yourself into Hotel Transylvania 3 characters; “Behind the Screams – The Voices of Hotel Transylvania 3,” showing how the characters are brought to life in the recording booth; “Johnny’s Home Movies (Franchise Recap)”; “I See Love Monster Dance Party Dance Along”; “Drac’s Zing-tastic Read Along”; and two mini movies, “Puppy and “Goodnight Mr. Foot.”

Masters of Sex: The Complete Series

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Mill Creek;
Drama;
$54.98 DVD, $69.98 Blu-ray;
Not rated.
Stars Michael Sheen, Lizzy Caplan, Caitlin Fitzgerald, Teddy Sears, Nicholas D’Agosto, Annaleigh Ashford, Beau Bridges, Allison Janney, Rose McIver, Julianne Nicholson.

Several shows attempted to emulate the “Mad Men” formula of exploring modern themes through the lens of the mid-20th Century, and “Masters of Sex” was one of the better ones.

The key difference between the two shows, of course, is that the primary characters on “Masters of Sex” are inspired by actual people. Based on Thomas Maier’s 2009 book, the show explores the collaboration of William Masters and Virginia Johnson and how they came together to produce their landmark sex study in the 1950s and 1960s.

The series ran for four seasons from 2013 to 2016 on Showtime.

The first season takes place in 1956 and 1957, with famed obstetrician Masters (Michael Sheen, turning in Emmy-worth work that earned nary a hint of recognition at the time) undertaking the first steps of his sexual research, conducting his observations in brothels because the university won’t sanction his methods at first. He finds a partner in Virginia (the fetching Lizzy Caplan, also worthy of awards recognition), who starts out as his secretary but takes on a much more important role in the study, especially as Masters realizes he has developed lustful feelings toward her.

Sheen manages to play Masters as if Don Draper were Sheldon Cooper, using his sex study as an excuse to pursue titillation while sidestepping the typical judgments of society. Meanwhile, Caplan’s Virginia Johnson is a modern woman trapped in the 1950s, struggling to burst free of the traditional gender roles that are constraining her.

The sex and nudity is plentiful but hardly gratuitous, often tamped down by the clinical setting, with participants in the study hooked up to wires and surrounded by medical equipment.

The central conceit, of course, is that the sexual repression being unlocked by the study is a metaphor for the time period, with subplots that tease out other aspects of constrained American life of the 1950s. Most notable among these is Beau Bridges as Masters’ closeted gay boss, struggling with his sexuality while maintaining the façade of a family life, leading to a heartbreaking performance by Allison Janney as his long-suffering wife.

Subsequent seasons find Masters and Johnson linked both romantically and professionally, as they both publish their studies and open a clinic to further their research. After the early episodes set in the 1950s, the show jumps forward in time, sometimes months and years at a time, which allows it to use the Vietnam War as a backdrop for some of the stories (Virginia’s son enlists in the Army, much to her chagrin). The show also explores the sexual revolution in general, with Masters and Johnson’s work gaining the interest of Hugh Hefner.

The further the season goes, the more it deviates from the reality of its characters as well. According to the disclaimers prominently displayed with the episodes, the show is a highly fictionalized account of Masters and Johnson’s lives, focused more on the general idea of what they represented than who they actually were. As such, their family lives are almost entirely works of fiction, no more so than a pregnancy subplot in which Virginia has another baby with her ex-husband — a subplot supposedly mandated by the production’s legal team as a way to divert the show’s storylines from the reality of the duo’s actual children.

Still, the show is mindful about the better-known touchstones of Masters and Johnson’s lives, including their eventual marriage. The show was canceled after its fourth season, ending with an episode that, while not intended as a series finale, serves as a fitting conclusion to the various arcs. Not that the show couldn’t have continued, but the prevailing feeling at the time was that there wasn’t much more it needed to say.

During the show’s initial run on Showtime, production house Sony Pictures released just the first two seasons on DVD and Blu-ray in America (seasons three and four were released on disc overseas). So this Mill Creek collection is the first chance most of the show’s stateside fans will have to complete their collections of it.

Mill Creek has ported over the extras from the Sony releases, including deleted scenes that are grouped with their respective episodes in seasons one and two. There’s also a commentary on the pilot episode that really takes advantage of the winning chemistry between the cast (especially as they tease each other during sex scenes).

On the Blu-ray, the previously released featurettes have been clustered together as the bonus material for the two discs of the fourth season. (Season one’s featurettes on are season four disc one, season two’s are on season four disc two.)

One notable difference is that the episodes include the recaps of the previous episodes, where the Sony discs made viewing these optional.

The fact that the previous bonus materials are included is great news for those who already own the first two seasons and might otherwise be hesitant on fully replacing them with this new set. Since so many third-party re-releases don’t bother to carry over the older extras (for whatever reason, be it licensing, disc space or a general lack of interest), it’s to Mill Creek’s credit that they’re all included here, making this collection a no-brainer for collector’s in the modern golden age of television.

‘Fraggle Rock’ Complete Series to Make Blu-ray Disc Debut in Time for 35th Anniversary

In time for its 35th anniversary, the classic children’s series “Fraggle Rock” will be released in its entirety on Blu-ray Disc Sept. 25 by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Described by its creator, the late Jim Henson, as “a high-energy, raucous musical romp,” “Fraggle Rock” stars a cast of puppet creatures called Fraggles, quirky cave-dwellers who live in an underground world alongside their industrious green neighbors, the Doozers, and a family of enormous Gorgs. The series follows their adventures and features a unique mix of music from all genres including folk, blues, gospel, country and rock, all while embracing themes of friendship, tolerance, diversity and caring for the planet.

All 96 episodes in the 12-disc set from the show’s four seasons – which were broadcast on HBO from January 1983 to March 1987 – are fully remastered in high definition and presented with lossless audio on Blu-ray Disc. The set also is available in special limited edition “scrapbook” packaging, featuring rare behind the scenes photos and an introduction from Uncle Travelling Matt.

“Fraggle Rock: The Complete Series” offers hours of bonus content on Blu-ray, including the all-new “Fraggle Music Celebration,” with sing-alongs for every episode (100 songs). Also newly included on the Blu-ray Disc set is a rare personal glimpse behind the curtain with Henson, plus a 1993 throwback segment from “The Today Show” featuring Uncle Travelling Matt, along with more than eight hours of archival special features, including interviews with the cast and crew, featurettes, and assorted promos.

Also included is the complete “Fraggle Rock: The Animated Series,” a 13-episode spinoff that aired Saturday mornings on NBC for one season in 1987. Reruns were shown on The Disney Channel from 1990 to 1995.

“Fraggle Rock: The Complete Series” also will be available separately on digital and DVD, along with “Fraggle Rock: The Complete Animated Series.”

Season One of ‘The Good Doctor’ Due on DVD Aug. 7 From Sony

The Good Doctor: Season One is coming to DVD Aug. 7 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The TV series stars Freddie Highmore (“Bates Motel”) as Dr. Shaun Murphy, a young surgeon with autism and savant syndrome, who relocates from a quiet country life to join a prestigious hospital’s surgical unit. Shaun uses his extraordinary medical gifts to save lives and challenge the skepticism of his colleagues. The series also stars  Nicholas Gonzalez (“How to Get Away with  Murder”), Antonia Thomas (“Lovesick”), Chuku Modu (“Game of Thrones”), Beau Garrett (“Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce), Tamlyn Tomiat (“Teen Wolf”), Hill Harper (“Homeland”) and Richard Schiff (“Ballers”).

The set includes five discs with all 18 episodes, along with deleted scenes, a gag reel and two behind-the-scenes featurettes.

‘Final Portrait’ to Debut on DVD and Digital July 31 From Sony

Final Portrait, written and directed by Stanley Tucci and starring Geoffrey Rush and Armie Hammer (Call Me by Your Name), will debut on DVD and digital July 31 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Adapted from James Lord’s memoir A Giacometti Portrait, the film tells the story of famed artist Alberto Giacometti (Rush) who asks the American writer and art-lover James Lord (Hammer) to sit for a portrait, which takes much longer than either of them anticipate. The film also stars Tony Shalhoub (TVs “Monk,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”), Sylvie Testud (La Vie en Rose) and Clémence Poésy (In Bruges).

The DVD includes interview clips from the cast and filmmakers and behind-the-scenes footage from the set.