Fandango Celebrates 45th Anniversary of ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’

Fandango is celebrating the 45th anniversary of the cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show Sept. 26 with a curated playlist, movie sale, and video on the history of 20th century midnight movies.

Throughout the weekend, The Rocky Horror Picture Show will be on sale for digital purchase at $7.99 on both FandangoNow and on Vudu, Fandango’s transactional VOD services.

Fandango is taking a deep dive into the history of 20th century midnight movies with a celebratory trivia video entitled “Do the Time Warp.”

Also, FandangoNow has curated a special collection of cult classics.

Also this weekend, Fandango is launching a regular monthly feature devoted to “Staff Picks.”

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“Some forty-five years ago, Rocky Horror made an everlasting impact on the moviegoing experience, creating a demand for cult films with avid audience participation,” said Fandango managing editor Erik Davis. “While many of us wish we could celebrate the anniversary in full style at the theater, it’s always a film worth cheering on, so let’s do the time warp again from home.”

Analyst: Lackluster Weekend Box Office Could See Studios Further Delay New Releases

With Warner Bros.’ Tenet generating $30 million at the domestic box office over two weekends, and Disney’s Mulan almost surpassed by a local sci-fi film (The Eight Hundred) at the Chinese box office, the jury remains out on the state of the theatrical market’s return to normal from the coronavirus pandemic.

The third-quarter domestic box office is trending down 96.8% quarter-to-date to $101.1 million compared with the previous-year period, as theaters nationwide only recently began re-opening — and at reduced capacity. The latest box office weekend was 89% lower than the comparable weekend last year, according to industry figures.

The sluggish re-start, coupled with a majority of screens still dark in major markets New York and California, suggests studios will reconsider bowing major new releases in any great numbers in the near future, according to Michael Pachter, media analyst with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles.

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Indeed, Warner just pushed back again the theatrical bow of Wonder Woman 1984 from Oct. 2 to Dec. 25 — more than a year after the sequel’s original launch date. Subsequent release dates included June4 and Aug. 14.

Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Tony Vinciquerra last week told an investor event the studio would delay all major releases until 2021.

“What we won’t do is make the mistake of putting a very, very expensive $200 million movie out in the market unless we’re sure that theaters are open and operating at significant capacity,” Vinciquerra said.

Pachter says that trend will only grow as nervous studios contend with wary moviegoers and local government restrictions.

“We think the relatively lackluster second theatrical week for Tenet juxtaposed with the difficulty Disney has faced with Mulan has made film releases seem like a risky business in the current environment,” Pachter wrote in a Sept. 14 note.

The uncertainty is bound to increase pressure on studios to shorten the 90-day theatrical window and seek alternative distribution channels such premium and transactional VOD. The COVID-19 era has produced unusual circumstances (and opportunities) for studios, including dabbling in direct-to-consumer distribution.

The ongoing interest for at-home content could impact long-term decisions by studios regarding which content they send to theaters and which goes direct to streaming platforms, according to Pachter.

“This is particularly compelling for the studios that have launched or will soon launch their own subscription/ad-supported streaming video platforms,” he wrote.

 

British Up Digital Movie Transactions 87% During Pandemic Lockdown

New data from the British Association for Screen Entertainment (BASE) and compiled by The Official Charts Company shows that consumer spending on digital movie purchases grew by more than 87% during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown period through June 30 to £113 million ($148 million). The United Kingdom is the second-largest home video market in the world.

Examining the wider transactional VOD market, data from Kantar suggests 1.8 million new customers either bought or rented digital content during lockdown, taking the number of consumers transacting digitally in that period to a record high of 5.5 million.

Transactional Successes

In the 12 week period from March 28 when the British government introduced its “stay home” policy, digital purchases accounted for 51% of the market as consumers engaged with the depth of range of titles available through digital home viewing options, with 49% attributed to sales of physical media (DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K UHD Blu-ray). While growth in digital ownership was already evident, with its share at 29% in the same period in 2019 and at 37% in the 12 weeks prior to lockdown, the data suggests transactional VOD made huge gains at a time when many of consumers were forced to stay home.

Falling disc sales prior to the pandemic translated to an overall decline in the transactional video market, but the performance of digital transactional in lockdown has reversed that trend, with whole video market growth of 6.9% in value terms delivering a significant 21 point swing. During the lockdown period, disc proved to be remarkably resilient even in the context of many bricks and mortar retailers either being forced to close or to pivot to focus on essential provisions. Even with those challenges, with premium formats like Blu-ray and 4K UHD continuing to appeal and an increased engagement from consumers with TV box sets on disc, the disc market maintained a predominantly flat value position year-on-year.

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“With nearly 2 million new customers buying or renting entertainment content from a digital store during the lockdown period and contributing to the wider transactional video market returning to growth, the digital transactional market has been a beneficiary of the fact that the government’s Stay Home policy provided the right environment for it to flourish,” BASE CEO Liz Bales said in a statement.

Performance across the market can to some extent be attributed to a strong release slate, with a pipeline of theatrical titles becoming available early for purchase on digital platforms. During the lockdown period titles such as Jumanji: The Next Level, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, 1917, Bloodshot and Frozen II were joined on digital platforms by family-friendly releases such as Sonic the Hedgehog and Onward, as well as Knives Out and Jojo Rabbit, with average volume sales for digital purchase rising from more than 350,000 units per week in the 12 weeks from the start of 2020 to more than 565,000 units a week in the 12 weeks from March 28.

While the average selling price for a digital copy has risen year-on-year by 4.4% to £8.51 ($11.51), the fact that the ASP has fallen marginally against its pre-lockdown position suggests that consumers are also engaging with the value proposition offered by the breadth and depth of catalog content available through digital retailers alongside the pick of titles fresh from the cinema.

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The diverse range of older titles that digital customers have sought out during the pandemic includes classics such as Forrest Gump, Top Gun, Grease, Apocalypse Now and titles from the “Harry Potter” franchise, with titles released pre-2010 representing 38% of all digital sales during lockdown.

“Across both digital purchase and rental, numbers have boomed during the lockdown period, with new and existing customers contributing to some 7.9 million transactions, up more than 22% on the same period last year and more than the same period in 2018, which supports the story of the transactional video category returning to growth,” said Craig Armer, strategic insight director at Kantar.

Armer said the number of transactional VOD customers doubled, accounting for more than 28% of the transactional VOD market in lockdown versus around 13% for the same time last year.

Families Engage with Premium VOD

One area of innovation driven by lockdown was the debut of  premium VOD offerings, with titles earmarked for theatrical release appearing on VOD services early. Titles released in this model included Trolls World Tour, The Invisible Man, Emma, The Hunt and Military Wives, with PVOD offerings accounting for 6.2% of all digital rentals over the lockdown period according to data from Kantar. Due to the higher price point of these premium offerings, that figure translates to a 19% share of rental spend in the period, with Kantar estimating that more than half a million customers experimented with the new-release format.

In keeping with the PVOD success of Trolls World Tour, families have the largest share of spend and are accessing content through their TVs rather than through other devices, endorsing the popularity of the movie night in that continues to be a key occasion for transaction and, in lockdown, a welcome break from the situation the nation was dealing with.

“The fact that more than half of consumers anticipate they will maintain habits formed during lockdown, such as engaging more broadly with digital delivery, underlines the need for the video category to optimize around the opportunity delivered by the growth it has seen,” Bales said.  “Historically, home entertainment has proved robust in times of economic crisis and the addition of a meaningful number of new customers to digital transactional, alongside the resilience of the disc market, means the video category at large has plenty to build upon even as consumer confidence and discretionary spend potentially become challenged as we look to the future.”

Home Entertainment: Studio Fiscal Lifeline During Pandemic

NEWS ANALYSIS — Throughout the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, much has been reported about home entertainment’s fiscal resurgence as increasing numbers of consumers purchase or rent video entertainment in the home rather than frequent (now shuttered) movie theaters.

Last week the proof was in the pudding as the last of the major studios reported quarterly fiscal results for the three-month period that ended June 30 — and began April 1, two weeks after theaters closed.

Excluding Warner Bros., five studios (Sony Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate, Disney and Universal Pictures) reported combined theatrical revenue of $68.3 million.

By comparison, home entertainment segments of the aforementioned studios generated a combined $1.35 billion in revenue. That’s more than Warner’s outlying $1 billion in theatrical revenue. Studios’ theatrical segments remain under siege as the coronavirus pandemic keeps movie theaters largely closed and production idle.

Indeed, home entertainment results topped the previous-year period by 13.4%, when the five studios collectively generated $1.19 billion in Q2 revenue.

That means consumers actually spent more money on transactional home entertainment (from those five studios) during the second quarter of 2020 than they did in Q2 of 2019, when there was plenty of high-profile theatrical product available — including Aquaman, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, Bumblebee and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

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“As long as people are literally stuck in neutral at home, they are going to be consuming a much-greater-than-average number of over-the-top transactional rentals and sales because the [theatrical] options are so limited,” Paul Dergarabedian, analyst with Comscore, said in a statement.

Indeed, the second-quarter domestic box office ended down 99.9% year-over-year to $3.69 million, as most domestic screens remained closed throughout the quarter.

“Theatrical revenue was immaterial in the quarter,” Bob Bakish, CEO of ViacomCBS, said on his company’s fiscal call.

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Wedbush Securities media analyst Michael Pachter expects the 2020 box office to end significantly lower than the last two years as theater re-openings sputter and several tentpole movie releases were moved to 2021 or removed from the theatrical release slate indefinitely.

Following AMC Theatres and Universal Pictures’ landmark agreement to partner on premium video-on-demand releases in the home just 17 days after a movie’s theatrical debut, home entertainment is expected to get an additional, if not limited, boost going forward.

Pachter thinks the AMC/Universal deal is a band-aid for a mortal wound, trying to capture some revenue in an environment where theatrical exhibition is unlikely for the next six months.

“When the results are in, the other studios will adopt the model if successful, and will criticize Universal if not,” he wrote in a note. “I don’t expect it to succeed.”

Roku Saw Record Q2 Digital Movie, TV VOD Transactions; CFO Steven Louden to Continue

With more and more households streaming video, over-the-top device/platform pioneer Roku is reaping the benefit, helping consumers adopt Internet-delivered content, including movies and TV shows.

San Jose, Calif.-based Roku Aug. 5 announced it was the No. 1 connected device based on hours streamed for Disney+ in the week following the movie release of Hamilton, according to Comscore. Digital movie and TV rentals/purchases hit an all-time high in the second quarter, ended June 30, as direct-to-home feature movies Scoob! and Trolls World Tour helped more than double year-over-year subscriptions through “Roku Pay,” the company’s integrated billing platform.

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Longtime CFO Steve Louden, who earlier announced he was leaving to relocate in Seattle, Wash., is staying in his position and will telecommute.

Steve Louden

“Steve has proved that he is more than capable of performing the CFO role while residing in Seattle,” Woods wrote. “Hence, we are delighted that Steve will be staying on as Roku’s CFO and we have ended the search for his successor.”

Meanwhile, active account growth accelerated 41% year-over-year, with accounts topping 43 million, driven by sales of both players and Roku TV models. Player unit sales increased 28% led by growth in the U.S. and in certain international markets. Notably, existing Roku users added almost three million new Roku streaming devices to their accounts during the quarter. Roku TV sales accounted for one in three smart TVs sold in the U.S.

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The Roku Channel more than doubled its reach in the U.S., with the ad-supported VOD service watched by households with an estimated 43 million residents.

“We believe the pandemic has accelerated the long-term trend toward all TV being streamed,” founder/CEO Anthony Wood and CFO Steve Louden wrote in the shareholder letter.

Roku tripled its net loss to $42.2 million, from $10.4 million during the previous-year period — due in part to 36% increase in R&D costs; 75% uptick in sales and marketing; and 56% spike in general and administrative costs. Revenue increased 42% to $356.1 million, from $250.1 million a year ago.

The executives declined to give guidance on the current fourth quarter due to the increasing prevalence of COVID-19 infections around the world and the potential for disruptions and changes to historical consumer behavior and spending patterns during the back-to-school and holiday seasons.

“Q4 is the seasonally largest quarter for Roku and there is a wide range of potential outcomes given increased consumer interest in streaming on one hand, and the possibility of retailer, supply chain and advertising constraints at critical times on the other,” Wood and Louden wrote.

 

AMC Theatres Ups Transactional VOD Movie Presence

AMC Theatres CEO Adam Aron made waves a few years ago when he said the nation’s largest exhibitor would begin renting movies online, including physical discs in theaters.

Since then not much has evolved in the marketing ploy — until now. With the coronavirus pandemic shuttering the exhibition business since mid-March, AMC has jumpstarted its on-demand movie platform, offering studio 48-hour rental titles from $2.99, and purchases from $11.99 — on par with other digital platforms, including Redbox, iTunes, Google Play, FandangoNow and Amazon.

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“Our theater business is mature,” Aron said in an interview. “There is a high-growth opportunity in this digital expansion.”

The chain, which has more than 2,000 movies, has begun a “top rentals” list giving consumers a selection of what AMC says are the most-popular titles, such as Bloodshot, Bad Boys for Life, The Invisible Man, The Meg, 21 Bridges, The Hunt and The Last Full Measure, among others.

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“For us, it’s all upside,” Ron Sanders, president of worldwide distribution and home entertainment at Warner Bros., told The New York Times in 2019. “Most of our other big digital partners are focused on multiple categories — music, books. The great thing about AMC is that movies are the whole focus.”

Amazon Hits Another Fiscal Quarter Home Run, Media Revenue Up 48%

Amazon July 30 announced it generated $45.9 billion in second-quarter (ended June 30) online retail revenue, which includes physical and digital media content, books, music, videos, games and software. Sales include digital products sold on a transactional basis. The 48% increase compared with $31 billion in online revenue during the previous-year period.

Subscription revenue, which includes annual and monthly fees associated with Amazon Prime memberships, as well as audiobook, digital video, digital music, e-book, and other non-AWS subscription services, increased 29% to $6 billion, from $4.6 billion a year ago.

Total revenue across all operating segments totaled $88.9 billion, up more than 40% from $63.4 billion in the previous-year period.

“This was another highly unusual quarter, and I couldn’t be more proud of and grateful to our employees around the globe,” founder/CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement.

In entertainment, Prime Video launched Watch Parties, a feature that enables Prime members to interact with each other via chat on a desktop while watching Prime Video content, including TV shows and movies.

Prime Video introduced Prime Video Profiles, allowing customers to create and manage up to six profiles within a single account. Each profile offers individualized recommendations, season progress, and watchlists based on individual profile activity.

Amazon premiered several Amazon Original series, including “Upload” from Emmy-winner Greg Daniels, “Homecoming” season two, “Bosch” season six, and “Regular Heroes,” a docuseries focusing on COVID-19 heroes. Additionally, Amazon premiered several original movies, including Selah and the Spades, The Goldfinch, The Vast of Night, 7500 and the family action-comedy My Spy, along with local Indian movies Ponmagal Vandhal and Gulabo Sitabo.

Sale on TVOD Platform movieSpree Part of Ultraman Day Celebration

Mill Creek Entertainment’s transactional streaming platform movieSpree will celebrate Ultraman Day July 10 with a sale on “Ultraman” titles as part of a multi-faceted celebration of the classic Japanese superhero.

Customers can add complete “Ultraman” series to their digital streaming library for $7.10 each at  movieSpree.com/Ultraman.

Series on sale include “Ultra Q”; “Ultraman”; “Ultraseven”; “Return of Ultraman”; “Ultraman Ace”; “Ultraman X”; “Ultraman Orb – The Origin Saga”; “Ultraman Orb”; and “Ultraman Geed.”

The TVOD service also offers an array of “Ultraman” movies, several of which include English dub tracks in addition to the original Japanese language audio that also features English subtitles. Exclusive “Ultraman” bundles are also available for customers to rent or own.

With apps now available on RokuApple TV / iOSAmazon Fire TV, and Android devices, movieSpree (movieSpree.com) is available without long-term contracts, subscription fees or advertisements. Setting up an account is free and as an added bonus, users can redeem a curated assortment of 100 films to add to their accounts free of charge.

The Birth of Ultraman Collection, containing some of the best episodes of the original “Ultraman” series, is also coming to Blu-ray July 10 from Mill Creek Entertainment at $25.99.

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The sale and Blu-ray release are just a part of this year’s celebration of the classic Japanese superhero July 10. The day will include a series of virtual activations and talks with the leaders behind the “Ultraman” revival live on Shu.Watch. Ultraman Day will also feature the launch of the official online Ultraman Galaxy Store, which will display exclusive collectible Ultraman merchandise featuring the poster artwork of Marvel’s Alex Ross cover created for the comic book The Rise of Ultraman #1, on sale this September.

Ultraman Day kicks off on Shu.Watch at 10 a.m. PST and will feature a slew of celebrities, special guests, live artwork, giveaways, unboxing videos and more as the world celebrates 54 years of “Ultraman.”

Ultraman, created by Eiji Tsuburaya, the father of the Japanese monster movie genre, was born on July 10, 1966, when Tsuburaya Productions broadcast a memorable stage event called “Ultraman Eve: The Birth of Ultraman,” which was filmed before a live audience in Tokyo. The following week, the TV series “Ultraman” aired on Japanese TV. With Ultraman’s recent return to North America, Ultraman is being honored with an all-day celebration sponsored by Tsuburaya Productions, Elevated Games and Mill Creek Entertainment. Also supporting the event is Ultraman Galaxy, the official North America Ultraman platform spearheaded by Tsuburaya, with support by The Licensing Group and Starlight Runner Entertainment. The Licensing Group Ltd represents Ultraman for licensing, while Starlight Runner is supervising the new creative in America across all media.

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Ultraman Day will feature the following events:

  • A four-hour live show, comprising a number of special events streaming on Shu.Watch, produced by Ultraman licensee Jaron Hinds, CEO of Elevated Games, creators of the new Ultraman: Kaiju Kombat video game.
  • Bin Furuya, well known as the first actor to portray Ultraman, will demonstrate the correct way to do the Spacium Beam, recognized around the world as Ultraman’s signature move.
  • There will also be conversations with Marvel Comics editor-in-chief C.B. Cebulski, editor Tom Brevoort, and writers Kyle Higgins and Mat Groom, the team behind Marvel’s upcoming “The Rise of Ultraman” comic series launching in September; a chance to hear legendary toy manufacturer Marty Abrams of Mego Figures; contests, drawings, special merchandise, unboxing videos, and a sneak peak of the Beta Capsule.
  • Special guests will appear throughout the day, such as director of “Ultraman Z” Kiyotaka Taguchi and Koichi Sakamoto, director of “Ultra Galaxy Fight,” plus Ultraman actors Hiroko Sakurai, Susumu Kurobe and Bin Furuya.
  • The launch of the official North America Ultraman Galaxy Store, an opportunity for fans around North America to purchase exclusive Ultraman merchandise online. The store will offer July 10 products with special Ultraman designs and artwork available for a limited time.
  • A look at Mill Creek Entertainment’s The Birth of Ultraman on Blu-ray, which features the best episodes of the original “Ultraman” series, in Japanese with English dubbing, and the special and rare pre-premiere that took place July 10, 1966.

Comscore: Transactional VOD, SVOD Sales Peaked in April

The coronavirus pandemic has increased consumer consumption of home entertainment platforms such as subscription streaming video and transactional video-on-demand across all content genres.

New data from Comscore said TVOD sales peaked in April, but were consistently above 12 million for the months of March, April and May. The peak month of April represented a 33% increase in TVOD sales from February.

Subscription video-on-demand transactions followed a similar pattern, peaking in April 2020 with over 262 million transactions. But transactions declined in May 2020, potentially signaling a gradual return to pre-pandemic levels.

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Ad-supported VOD transactions, which Comscore said is the VOD category with the highest transaction rates, also peaked in April but held steady through May as well. AVOD transactions numbered approximately 518 million in April and approximately 515 million in May, which represents a less than 1% decrease month-over-month.

 

“When we look at year-over-year change by key genres, we see that April had the greatest year-over-year increase — confirming that April was likely the peak of VOD viewing during the coronavirus pandemic,” Comscore said in a statement. Across all categories, VOD transactions were up 24% in April over April 2019. Transactions declined in May, but still remained about 9% higher than May 2019.

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With a shutdown in live sports and fitness gyms, Comscore said sports and fitness VOD saw 232% and 486% increases, respectively, in transactions through April. The sports category continued its rapid growth in May, generating 925% more transactions than in May 2019.

“This underscores just how much Americans have missed live sports and fitness content during the peak months of April and May 2020,”Comscore said.

ViacomCBS Begins Selling TV Shows on Sky Store

Borrowing a page from Apple iTunes, ViacomCBS Networks June 29 announced it has begun selling its TV shows on Comcast-owned Sky Store in the United Kingdom. The deal, which includes programming across MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, enables users to purchase the digital content via the Sky Store app, online or on Now TV, without the need for a Sky pay-TV subscription.

Fifteen years ago, NBC, Disney-owned ABC and others began selling TV episodes for $1.99 on iTunes — after the Apple platform’s success selling 99-cents music singles.

“We are doing the same thing with video we did with music,” the late Steve Jobs said in a statement at the time.

The Sky Store line-up features all 23 seasons of Comedy Central’s “South Park”; the latest seasons of MTV’s reality shows, “Ex on the Beach,” “Celebrity Ex on the Beach,” “Geordie Shore” and “The Hills: New Beginnings,” in addition to Nickelodeon’s “PAW Patrol,” “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “Dora the Explorer” and “The Adventures of Paddington.”

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“U.K. households continue to show a very healthy appetite to own digital content and ViacomCBS’s franchises are consistently top-sellers,” Dan Fahy, VP, commercial and content distribution at ViacomCBS Networks U.K., said in a statement. “We’re constantly expanding consumer access points to our brands and content, and the launch of our Nickelodeon, MTV and Comedy Central franchises on Sky Store is an important new path for consumers.”

Sky Store, which also sells HBO and BBC episodes, includes a DVD in the mail for all movie purchases.