Sony Rom-Com ‘Anyone But You’ Tops Weekly Vudu Chart

The Sony Pictures rom-com Anyone But You topped the chart of the 10 most-popular films on Fandango’s transactional digital service Vudu for the week ended Feb. 25.

The film, which debuted for digital purchase Feb. 20, follows Bea (Sydney Sweeney) and Ben (Glen Powell), who look like the perfect couple. But after an amazing first date, something happens that turns their fiery hot attraction ice cold — until they find themselves unexpectedly thrust together at a destination wedding in Australia.

After three weeks at No. 1, Warner Bros.’ Wonka dropped to No. 2 on the chart. Based on the iconic character at the center of Roald Dahl’s children’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the musical became available for premium digital rental and sale Jan. 30. Starring Timothée Chalamet in the title role, the adventure introduces audiences to a young Willy Wonka, as he becomes the world’s greatest inventor, magician and chocolate-maker.

Debuting at No. 3 on the chart was Paramount’s musical remake Mean Girls (2024), which became available for premium digital purchase and rental Feb. 20. This version is based on the Broadway musical that was based on the 2004 film about high school girls written by Tina Fey. 

Dropping from No. 3 to No. 4 on the chart was the DC comics-based sequel Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, available from Warner Bros. for regular digital purchase after a premium-priced run. The superhero sequel follows Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa) as he is balancing his duties as both the King of Atlantis and a new father. Orm (Patrick Wilson), Aquaman’s half-brother and his nemesis, must now step into a new role as his brother’s reluctant ally. Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) is committed more than ever to avenge his father’s death by destroying Aquaman, his family and Atlantis.

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Dropping from No. 2 to No. 5 on the chart was A24’s wrestling drama The Iron Claw, available for digital purchase. The film tells the true story of the Von Erich family, who dominated professional wrestling in Texas in the 1980s. Under the shadow of their domineering father and coach (Holt McCallany), brothers Kevin (Zac Efron), Kerry (Jeremy Allen White) and David (Harris Dickinson) seek sports fame.

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Vudu’s top 10 titles for the week ended Feb. 25, in terms of revenue, were:

  1. Anyone But You
  2. Wonka
  3. Mean Girls (2024)
  4. Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom
  5. The Iron Claw
  6. The Beekeeper
  7. Trolls Band Together
  8. Migration
  9. The Marvels
  10. The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes

TVOD Service Vudu Changing Name to Fandango at Home

Vudu, Fandango’s transactional video-on-demand streaming service, is changing its name to Fandango at Home.

“In a few weeks, we’re changing our name to Fandango at Home, making Fandango your single destination for movie tickets and home entertainment,” read an announcement sent to customers. “This change won’t affect your streaming experience, and you library will stay right where it’s always been.”

“We are excited to unite our on-demand streaming service Vudu more closely with Fandango, into what will now be known as Fandango at Home,” said Cameron Douglas, SVP of OTT & Streaming, Fandango. “Our goal for the name change is to better align our products under one brand, reinforcing Fandango as the destination for premium entertainment at home and at the theater. For our loyal Vudu customers, no action is needed on their part, their movie and TV libraries and collections will be right where they’ve always been, at their fingertips and on their favorite screens. Fandango remains committed to super-serving fans with all their entertainment needs, and we are excited about the opportunities this rebranding brings to deliver a seamless and enjoyable service to our users.” 

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This isn’t the first time the service has instituted a transactional service name shift. In August 2021, after Fandango acquired Vudu from Walmart in 2020, the company combined its FandangoNow and the acquired Vudu under the Vudu moniker.

Customers with questions about the change can visit this link.

Warner Bros.’ ‘Wonka’ Again Tops Weekly Vudu Chart

Warner Bros.’ Wonka again topped the chart of the 10 most-popular films on Fandango’s transactional digital service Vudu for the week ended Feb. 11.

Based on the iconic character at the center of Roald Dahl’s children’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Warner Bros.’ Wonka became available for premium digital rental and sale on Jan. 30. Starring Timothée Chalamet in the title role, the adventure introduces audiences to a young Willy Wonka, as he becomes the world’s greatest inventor, magician and chocolate-maker.

Rising from No. 3 to No. 2 on the chart was the Jason Statham actioner The Beekeeper, which is available for premium digital rental. In the film, a former operative of a powerful organization known as the Beekeepers (Statham) upends his cover life and embarks on a brutal revenge mission to dismantle corruption at the highest levels of society.

Falling from No. 2 to No. 3 on the chart was the DC comics-based sequel Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, which became available from Warner Bros. for premium digital purchase and rental Jan. 23. The superhero sequel follows Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa) as he is balancing his duties as both the King of Atlantis and a new father. Orm (Patrick Wilson), Aquaman’s half-brother and his nemesis, must now step into a new role as his brother’s reluctant ally. Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) is committed more than ever to avenge his father’s death by destroying Aquaman, his family and Atlantis.

Remaining at No. 4 on the chart was the Illumination animated film Migration, available for premium digital rental and sale from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment starting Jan. 23. The comedy follows the Mallard family as it embarks on a journey south for the winter to Jamaica via New York City, only for their well-laid plans to go awry, leading to new friends and unknown horizons.

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Landing at No. 5 on the chart was Bleecker Street’s I.S.S., available for premium digital rental and sale. The sci-fi drama follows a fight between U.S. and Russian astronauts to take over the International Space Station as worldwide conflict breaks out on Earth.

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Vudu’s top 10 titles for the week ended Feb. 11, in terms of revenue, were:

  1. Wonka
  2. The Beekeeper
  3. Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom
  4. Migration
  5. I.S.S.
  6. American Fiction
  7. Wish
  8. Trolls Band Together
  9. The Book of Clarence
  10. Thanksgiving

Warner Bros.’ ‘Wonka’ Tops Weekly Vudu Chart

Warner Bros.’ Wonka debuted atop the chart of the 10 most-popular films on Fandango’s transactional digital service Vudu for the week ended Feb. 4.

Based on the iconic character at the center of Roald Dahl’s children’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Warner Bros.’ Wonka became available for premium digital rental and sale on Jan. 30. Starring Timothée Chalamet in the title role, the adventure introduces audiences to a young Willy Wonka, as he becomes the world’s greatest inventor, magician and chocolate-maker.

Falling from the top spot to No. 2 on the chart was the DC comics-based sequel Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, which became available from Warner Bros. for premium digital purchase and rental Jan. 23. The superhero sequel follows Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa) as he is balancing his duties as both the King of Atlantis and a new father. Orm (Patrick Wilson), Aquaman’s half-brother and his nemesis, must now step into a new role as his brother’s reluctant ally. Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) is committed more than ever to avenge his father’s death by destroying Aquaman, his family and Atlantis.

Debuting at No. 3 on the chart was the Jason Statham actioner The Beekeeper, which is available for premium digital rental. In the film, a former operative of a powerful organization known as the Beekeepers (Statham) upends his cover life and embarks on a brutal revenge mission to dismantle corruption at the highest levels of society.

Falling from No. 2 to No. 4 on the chart was the Illumination animated film Migration, available for premium digital rental and sale from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment starting Jan. 23. The comedy follows the Mallard family as it embarks on a journey south for the winter to Jamaica via New York City, only for their well-laid plans to go awry, leading to new friends and unknown horizons.

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Dropping from No. 3 to No. 5 on the chart was Disney’s animated Wish, available for digital purchase starting Jan. 23. In the musical comedy, Asha, a sharp-witted idealist in the kingdom of Rosas, makes a powerful wish that’s answered by Star, a ball of boundless energy. Soon, Asha and Star must face a formidable foe — the ruler of Rosas — to save her community and prove that when one brave human connects with the magic of the stars, wondrous things happen.

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Vudu’s top 10 titles for the week ended Feb. 4, in terms of revenue, were:

  1. Wonka
  2. Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom
  3. The Beekeeper
  4. Migration
  5. Wish
  6. Trolls Band Together
  7. The Marvels
  8. Night Swim
  9. The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes
  10. Napoleon

Superhero Sequel ‘Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom’ Tops Weekly Vudu Chart

The DC comics-based sequel Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom debuted atop the chart of the 10 most-popular films on Fandango’s transactional digital service Vudu for the week ended Jan. 28.

The superhero film, which became available from Warner Bros. for premium digital purchase and rental Jan. 23, follows Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa) as he is balancing his duties as both the King of Atlantis and a new father. Orm (Patrick Wilson), Aquaman’s half-brother and his nemesis, must now step into a new role as his brother’s reluctant ally. Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) is committed more than ever to avenge his father’s death by destroying Aquaman, his family and Atlantis.

Debuting at No. 2 on the chart was the Illumination animated film Migration, available for premium digital rental and sale from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment starting Jan. 23. The comedy follows the Mallard family as it embarks on a journey south for the winter to Jamaica via New York City, only for their well-laid plans to go awry, leading to new friends and unknown horizons.

Debuting at No. 3 on the chart was Disney’s animated Wish, available for digital purchase starting Jan. 23. In the musical comedy, Asha, a sharp-witted idealist in the kingdom of Rosas, makes a powerful wish that’s answered by Star, a ball of boundless energy. Soon, Asha and Star must face a formidable foe — the ruler of Rosas — to save her community and prove that when one brave human connects with the magic of the stars, wondrous things happen.

Dropping from the top spot to No. 4 on the chart was Disney’s Marvel Studios superhero sequel The Marvels, available for digital purchase. In the film, Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) has reclaimed her identity from the tyrannical Kree. When her duties send her to an anomalous wormhole, her powers are entangled with super-fan Kamala Khan, aka Ms. Marvel (Iman Vellani), and Carol’s estranged niece, astronaut Captain Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris). Together, the unlikely trio must team up and work together to save the universe.

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Finally, debuting at No. 5 on the chart was the horror film Night Swim, available for premium digital rental and sale from Universal. In the film, a collaboration between Blumhouse and Atomic Monster from the producers of M3GAN, Wyatt Russell stars as a former major league baseball player, forced into early retirement by a degenerative illness, who moves into a new home with his wife (Oscar nominee Kerry Condon) and their two children. The new home comes complete with a backyard swimming pool, but a deep secret surfaces and unleashes a malevolent force that will drag the family into the inescapable depths of terror.

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Vudu’s top 10 titles for the week ended Jan. 28, in terms of revenue, were:

  1. Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom
  2. Migration
  3. Wish
  4. The Marvels
  5. Night Swim
  6. Trolls Band Together
  7. Ferrari
  8. Napoleon
  9. Silent Night
  10. The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes

Superhero Sequel ‘The Marvels’ Tops Weekly Vudu Chart

Disney’s superhero sequel The Marvels debuted atop the chart of the 10 most-popular films on Fandango’s transactional digital service Vudu for the week ended Jan. 21.

In the Marvel Studios film, available for digital purchase, Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) has reclaimed her identity from the tyrannical Kree. When her duties send her to an anomalous wormhole, her powers are entangled with super-fan Kamala Khan, aka Ms. Marvel (Iman Vellani), and Carol’s estranged niece, astronaut Captain Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris). Together, the unlikely trio must team up and work together to save the universe.

Remaining at No. 2 on the chart was Universal’s Trolls Band Together, available for digital purchase. In the animated film, the third in the franchise, as Poppy (Anna Kendrick) grows closer to her now boyfriend Branch (Justin Timberlake), she discovers his secret past as a member of her favorite boyband, BroZone, with his four estranged brothers.

Falling from the top spot to No. 3 on the chart was the biopic Napoleon, Apple Original Films’ historical drama from director Ridley Scott. Available for premium digital rental and sale starting Jan. 9 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, the film stars Joaquin Phoenix as the French emperor and military leader. The film looks at Napoleon’s origins and his swift, ruthless climb to emperor, viewed through the prism of his addictive and often volatile relationship with his wife and one true love, Josephine (Vanessa Kirby).

Landing at No. 4 on the chart was Warner Bros.’ new take on The Color Purple, available for premium digital rental and sale starting Jan. 16. The film follows Celie (Fantasia Barrino in her major motion picture debut, reprising her 2005 Broadway role), who is torn apart from her sister Nettie (Halle Bailey) and her children and faces many hardships in her life, including an abusive husband simply called Mister (Colman Domingo). With the support of sultry singer Shug Avery (Taraji P. Henson) and stepdaughter Sofia (Danielle Brooks, Tony-nominated for the role on Broadway), Celie ultimately finds strength in the unbreakable bonds of a new kind of sisterhood.

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Dropping from No. 3 to No. 5 on the chart was Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes. Based on the Suzanne Collins best-selling novel of the same name, the latest installment in the “Hunger Games” franchise is available for premium digital rental and sale. The prequel, set 64 years before Katniss Everdeen volunteered as tribute, follows a young Coriolanus as he unites with Lucy Gray Baird in the 10th Hunger Games and battles his instincts for both good and evil.

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Vudu’s top 10 titles for the week ended Jan. 21, in terms of revenue, were:

  1. The Marvels
  2. Trolls Band Together
  3. Napoleon
  4. The Color Purple
  5. The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes
  6. The Boys in the Boat
  7. Oppenheimer
  8. Killers of the Flower Moon
  9. Next Goal Wins
  10. Thanksgiving

Universal’s ‘Trolls Band Together’ Again Tops Weekly Vudu Chart

Universal’s Trolls Band Together again topped the chart of the 10 most-popular films on Fandango’s transactional digital service Vudu for the week ended Jan. 7.

Available for premium digital rental and sale starting Dec. 19, the animated film is the third in the franchise. In the threequel, as Poppy (Anna Kendrick) grows closer to her now boyfriend Branch (Justin Timberlake), she discovers his secret past as a member of her favorite boyband, BroZone, with his four estranged brothers.

Remaining at No. 2 on the chart was Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes. Based on the Suzanne Collins best-selling novel of the same name, the latest installment in the “Hunger Games” franchise is available for premium digital rental and sale. The prequel, set 64 years before Katniss Everdeen volunteered as tribute, follows a young Coriolanus as he unites with Lucy Gray Baird in the 10th Hunger Games and battles his instincts for both good and evil.

Remaining at No. 3 on the chart was Universal’s Oppenheimer, available for digital rental and purchase. The Christopher Nolan biopic tells the story of theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy), whose landmark work as the director of the Manhattan Project’s Los Alamos Laboratory created the first atomic bomb.

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Remaining at No. 4 on the chart was director Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon, available for premium digital purchase and rental. Based on a true story and set in 1920s Oklahoma, the drama depicts the serial murder of members of the oil-wealthy Osage Nation, a string of brutal crimes that came to be known as the Reign of Terror. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Lily Gladstone, Jesse Plemons, Tantoo Cardinal, Cara Jade Myers, JaNae Collins and Jillian Dion.

Rising to No. 5 from No. 7 on the chart was Silent Night. available for premium digital rental and sale. Directed by John Woo, the film follows a father who, while recovering from a wound that costs him his voice, plots revenge after his son is killed in gang crossfire on Christmas Eve.

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Vudu’s top 10 titles for the week ended Jan. 7, in terms of revenue, were:

  1. Trolls Band Together
  2. The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes
  3. Oppenheimer
  4. Killers of the Flower Moon
  5. Silent Night
  6. The Bricklayer
  7. Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour (Extended Version)
  8. Thanksgiving
  9. Priscilla
  10. Freelance

Home Entertainment 2024 — Transactional: PVOD, Collectors and Launch Parties

A growing number of studio executives and other industry observers say they believe transactional home entertainment — the traditional, a la carte method of bringing a movie or show into the home, either to watch or to own — may be in the early stages of a resurgence.

The realization that subscription streaming is not sustainable on its own has prompted studios to take a second look at what was once the primary “second window” for movies fresh off their theatrical runs, and the result is that more and more films are being released for digital or physical purchase or rental before they are handed off to the streaming services.

SEE ALSO: Home Entertainment 2024, Part 1 – Streaming: Bundling, Ads, Reruns and Live Sports

Through much of 2022, as the world was still grappling with fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, Warner, Disney and Paramount were still releasing the majority of their films to their streaming services on the same day as their traditional home entertainment release. Today, all three studios have brought back windows. New theatrical movies are typically available transactionally several weeks before their subscription streaming debuts.

Bob Buchi

“It’s about maximizing the content life cycle through windowing, just as it’s always been,” said Bob Buchi, president of Paramount Home Entertainment,

At Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, division president Michael Bonner notes that both The Super Mario Bros. Movie and Oppenheimer “yielded new benchmarks in digital and physical, demonstrating some of the highest transactional performance levels across the business that we have seen this year. The performance of The Super Mario Bros. Movie was especially standout, earning more digital revenue than any other theatrically released Universal movie ever. Results for Oppenheimer’s 4K Ultra HD release were equally notable, currently tracking in its debut window to be Universal’s biggest-selling 4K title of all time.”

David Decker, president of content sales at Warner Bros. Discovery, also said his division “had a successful 2023, driven by Barbie‘s ‘pink wave’ and the health of the WBD catalog, and punctuated by our ‘WB 100th Anniversary’ promotion. We are finishing the year with digital sales up over pre-pandemic levels.”

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Digital Deluge

Given the higher margins of digital releases — and fewer headaches because there are no manufacturing or shipping costs, not to mention returns — studios in 2023 began focusing on making films available for digital sale or rental much sooner than in the past, often at a premium price. This past year has seen a significant uptick in premium video-on-demand, or PVOD, releases, with films fresh from their theatrical runs becoming available to rent or buy at higher prices as early as 18 days after their big-screen debuts before the price is lowered to the standard transactional price of $5.99 for a rental and $19.99 for a sale. Universal Pictures Home Entertainment’s Trolls Band Together, for example, was released Dec. 19 — just one month after its theatrical debut — at a rental price of $19.99 and a purchase price of $29.99. Six days earlier, Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour was released for digital rental only at $19.89, also by UPHE, about 60 days after it opened in theaters — still much shorter than the traditional 90-day window.

Michael Bonner

Even Apple allowed its high-profile film Killers of the Flower Moon, directed by Martin Scorsese, to be released via PVOD prior to its debut on Apple TV+.

UPHE’s Bonner said 2023 “reinforced our view of the importance of the home entertainment category, led by some impressive title successes across both premium and traditional windows. When studios release titles under a compressed window framework that includes an exclusive home entertainment offering, consumer engagement for transactional formats is very strong.”

Taking Aim at Collectors

The disc business, meanwhile, continues to decline, kept alive by a growing reliance on the collector market and a hope among some for a vinyl-like resurgence.

“Initially, the disc market was driven by families with kids,” said one insider. “Now, the business is being driven by collectors, as evidenced by continued year-over-year growth in 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray sales.”

Still, 2023 was a tough year for the disc business, with total consumer spending this year expected to come at less than $2 billion — less than 10% of what consumers spent on DVDs and Blu-ray Discs in the peak year of 2006.

In early September, Ingram Entertainment, once the largest distributor of physical home entertainment product, announced it is getting out of the DVD and Blu-ray Disc business. “Expenses are exceeding sales [so it’s] time to exit,” chairman and CEO David Ingram told Media Play News. Later that month, Netflix shut its legacy disc-rental business and let customers keep whatever discs they had out. And in October, the Best Buy retail chain announced it would exit the DVD and Blu-ray Disc business beginning in the first quarter of 2024.

But things may be looking up for the disc, which once was such a crucial revenue stream that DVD sales projections were factored into the movie greenlighting process.

The streaming services’ content purge may prompt more consumers to consider a la carte options, studio insiders say. And the tendency of digital purchases to sometimes disappear from consumer libraries — a hurdle in getting more people to shell out $20 for a digital movie — may also drive disc purchases.

Critics contend a primary reason disc sales are in a protracted slump is studio indifference. They say the number of theatrical catalog releases has plummeted in recent years, paving the way for pirates. And while fresh new theatrical films continue to be released on DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD, special features are becoming increasingly scarce while quality issues abound.

“The studios have checked out,” said industry analyst Ralph Tribbey, who has been tracking discs sales through his DVD & Blu-ray Disc Release Report since DVD was launched in 1997.

But that’s not entirely true. Paramount continues to create collectible disc offerings for a wide array of titles in its vast and storied library, such as a deluxe anniversary package with hours of bonus content for Titanic, new additions to its acclaimed Paramount Presents line such as Terms of Endearment, and newly remastered 4K Ultra HD releases of classics from Roman Holiday to The Truman Show.

Demand for the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Oppenheimer was so great that retailers were running out of copies, prompting Universal Pictures Home Entertainment to issue a statement promising to “replenish those retailers quickly so fans can watch the film at home in the best picture quality possible.” Meanwhile, retail-exclusive editions of the film commanded big prices on the secondary market, with Best Buy’s 4K Steelbook edition of the film listed on eBay at an average asking price of well over $100.

And then there’s Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, the latest name for The Walt Disney Co.’s home entertainment operation. The division made headlines in August when it announced it is exiting the disc business in Australia. But just days later, Disney announced plans to roll out several of its popular Disney+ series, including “The Mandalorian,” “WandaVision” and “Loki,” as “Collector’s Edition” 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray Discs in Steelbook packaging.

Since then, Disney has packaged 100 of its animated films into a massive Blu-ray Disc boxed set retailing for $1,500 and issued Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first of its iconic animated classics, on 4K Ultra HD.

David Decker

WBD’s David Decker says the physical business “continues to represent a meaningful portion of our transactional revenue, and WBD remains committed to the category. We will keep reaching casual consumers and avid fans where and how they want our content: from best-in-class 4K Blu-rays to remastered and re-released films on 4K UHD from our 100-year library of titles.”

Independent film distributors such as Ed Seaman, CEO of MVD Entertainment Group, also see opportunity ahead.

“In disc sales, as studios and brick-and-mortar retailers continue to bail, the opportunity grows for both independent distribution and retail/e-commerce,” Seaman said. “Savvy dealers will pick up more and more great movies and shows and feed the strong demand for the end user, who has a huge appetite for collectible content.”

Keeping the Party Going

Studios have also resumed a practice that subsided years ago when streaming became the dominant form of home entertainment consumption: gala release parties celebrating the disc debut of high-profile new theatrical films.

Disney in January 2023 threw a release party for journalists and social-media influencers to promote the Blu-ray Disc release of the thriller The Menu. The party was held at the Blockbuster pop-up on trendy Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles and included as guests stars Aimee Carrero, Arturo Castro and Mark St. Cyr. Guests enjoyed drinks that they could order by presenting bartenders with an appropriately labeled Blockbuster videocassette box and “well-made” cheeseburgers from Irv’s Burgers, the historic West Hollywood burger stand.

In September, Disney hosted a dance party at the California Science Center in Los Angeles to celebrate the digital and disc release that day of the live-action feature The Little Mermaid.

And November saw two disc release parties. To promote the DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD release of Oppenheimer, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment held a screening of a making-of documentary, introduced by director Christopher Nolan, at the Linwood Dunn Theater at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study in Hollywood. And over in Venice Beach, Disney held a “Haunting in Venice … Beach!” party for A Haunting in Venice, highlighted by trivia for Agatha Christie and murder mystery fans, typewriter poets who wrote on-the-spot personalized poems for partygoers, and sessions with medium Christina Engelhardt.

Lastly, Paramount Home Entertainment in December held a party at Pizzeria Mozza to celebrate the 4K and Blu-ray Disc release of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem. Guests included filmmakers Seth Rogan, Evan Goldberg, James Weaver and Jeff Rowe.

Distribution Issues

One big development on the disc front that occurred in 2023 is word that Walmart, the biggest physical retailer of DVD and Blu-ray Disc with a market share of 45%, is looking to consolidate distribution through Studio Distribution Services (SDS), the joint venture formed by Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. back in April 2021 to sell and distribute DVDs, Blu-ray Discs and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs in North America. The venture is headed by Eddie Cunningham, a former president of UPHE, a steadfast champion of physical media.

Eddie Cunningham

Cunningham is calling for the elimination of the window — typically two weeks — between a film’s digital release and its physical release, a practice instituted more than a decade ago by the studios in the hopes of jump-starting the electronic sellthrough, or EST, business.

“I do think it is time to closely align disc and EST release dates,” Cunningham said. “While it was clearly the right decision to give EST a short window in the early formative, and massive growth, stages of that developing business, both EST and disc are now mature businesses. I would now let the consumer decide how they want to view content in home entertainment. I believe many of studio our partners are looking at this issue objectively and that we will see some significant movement in that direction in 2024.”

Speaking privately, studio executives say the key obstacle to such a move is one of logistics. Since so many new films are being released through PVOD, there simply isn’t enough time to prepare a disc release on the same day. Traditionally, films come to home entertainment about three months after their theatrical bow; with PVOD, the window can be as short as 18 days.

But Cunningham maintains that at the very least the window should be eliminated between a film’s disc and standard digital release, “where materials can be prepared early enough to work through the much more complex compression and authoring, manufacturing, and distribution challenges unique to the disc business.”

Prospects for 2024

Looking ahead, studio executives are looking at the transactional business with guarded optimism for 2024, particularly on the PVOD front.

 “We expect that extended studio and retailer support of early availability, in addition to strong consumer demand for accelerated theatrical-to-home releases, will continue to fuel meaningful growth of the premium window, offsetting the decline of physical and delivering significant value to the home entertainment ecosystem,” said UPHE’s Bonner.

Adam Frank

“We are seeing strong growth in the transactional marketplace across new releases as well as the weekly and monthly catalog run rate for our own business,” said Adam Frank, EVP of global partner management, sales and distribution for Lionsgate. “The industry is moving away from release-strategy fragmentation as studios prioritize a healthy ‘free-and-clear’ transactional window post-theatrical. This trend should lead to higher engagement from our core transactional audience and an influx of new consumers.”

Paramount’s Bob Buchi agrees. “We know that fans still love to own and collect their favorite films and television shows, which is why we continue to support the physical disc business,” he said. “At the same time, we live in an increasingly digital world so we are exploring some enticing and novel ways to augment both the collectability and gift-ability of digital content. There are exciting developments on the horizon, and just as the home entertainment industry has always done, we will continue to evolve and adapt to changing technologies and consumer behavior.”

Warner Bros. Discovery’s David Decker said that in 2024, WBD is looking to build “on our 2023 momentum. We have exciting new releases coming with titles such as Dune 2, Furiosa (the “Mad Max” prequel) and Beetlejuice 2.”

Decker added that he believes windowing of new releases “is finding its footing. Barbie had one of the biggest premium windows of the year, and the release strategy also helped the film’s historic box office success. We will evolve our strategy in 2024 with more data-driven analysis, working closely with our colleagues at WB Pictures and Max on each individual title. We are relentlessly focused on getting these incredible movies in front of as many people as possible, through the best possible viewing experiences, and at price points that satisfy consumer demands. For us, Barbie said it best: ‘It is the best day ever. So was yesterday, and so is tomorrow and every day from now until forever.’”

Top 10 for 2023: The Biggest Home Entertainment Stories of the Year — Transactional

The year 2023 saw the entertainment business hit with two strikes — one by the actors and one by the writers — that slowed the production pipeline and added to the ongoing upheaval in the industry. Roiled by the walkout, ongoing disruption in the aftermath of the pandemic, the growth of streaming and the continued erosion of disc sales, the transactional business struggled to compete with the gush of streaming content.

Here is a countdown of the top 10 home entertainment news stories of 2023 in the transactional business — disc and digital — as selected and ranked by the Media Play News editorial staff:

10. Oppenheimer Shortage

The much-maligned disc business got a significant confidence booster in November when reports surfaced that demand for 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray copies of Universal Pictures Home Entertainment’s Oppenheimer was so great that retailers were running out. UPHE promised a quick restock, but in the meantime retail-exclusive editions of the film began commanding big prices on auction sites such as eBay, with copies of a Best Buy-exclusive Steelbook reaching asking prices in the $200 range by the end of the year.

9. Disney’s Epiphany

The Walt Disney Co., stung by its aggressive approach to streaming, appeared to rediscover the transactional business this year, giving films generous windows for digital purchase and no longer neglecting the physical disc. In August, Disney announced that several of its most popular Disney+ streaming series, including “The Mandalorian,” “WandaVision” and “Loki,” would be packaged into “Collector’s Edition” 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays and Blu-ray Discs chock-full of bonus features.  One month later, Disney announced its most extravagant Blu-ray Disc boxed set ever: The Disney Legacy Animated Film Collection, consisting of 100 classic on Blu-ray Disc, digital codes for each title, a copy of the original theatrical poster art, a collectible lithograph from Disney Animation’s new musical comedy Wish, and a collectible crystal Mickey ears hat with exclusive Disney 100 engraving. The retail price: $1,500.

8. Courting Collectors

While the DVD frenzy was initially fueled by families buying movies their kids would watch over and over again, the target audience for the mature, and much-smaller, disc business in 2023 was the collector. Studios were mining their libraries for classics they deemed worthy of 4K release and either issuing themselves or licensing them to independents; no surprise, then, that 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray sales were actually up, even though the overall disc business experienced another double-digit decline. Studios also revved up their retail exclusives, many of them handsomely packaged Steelbooks with gobs of extras.

7. No More Red Envelopes

Netflix in September pulled the plug on its legacy disc rental business, which birthed the company 26 years ago as well as the subscription model Netflix would later use to launch its streaming service. “Our goal has always been to provide the best service for our members, but as the DVD business continues to shrink, that’s going to become increasingly difficult,” Netflix said. “Making 2023 our final season allows us to maintain our quality of service through the last day and go out on a high note.” Renting DVDs and, later, Blu-ray Discs by mail was Netflix’s sole revenue source for its first 10 years in business, but after launching its streaming service disc revenue plummeted. The company generated less than $146 million from disc rentals in 2022, a 20% drop, while first-quarter 2023 rental revenue was just $32 million. The final rental, which shipped Sept. 29 in its signature red envelope: the Coen Brothers’ 2010 remake of True Grit.

6.  Distribution Disruption I

Ingram Entertainment, once the largest distributor of home entertainment products, in September announced it is getting out of the DVD and Blu-ray Disc business. “Expenses are exceeding sales [so it’s] time to exit,” chairman and CEO David Ingram told Media Play News. The La Vergne, Tenn.-based company had been one of the prime champions for a uniform Tuesday street date, and remained at the forefront of distribution through waves of retail consolidation and the transition of the business from VHS rental to DVD sellthrough. Ingram in 2019 became even bigger when it swallowed up its chief competitor, Baker & Taylor.

5. Party On

The gala launch parties in and around Hollywood for films making their DVD debuts were a staple of the late 1990s and early 2000s, but gradually faded away with the rise of streaming. In 2023, studios once again began celebrating the disc and TVOD release of their major films, beginning in January with Disney hosting a release party for The Menu at the Blockbuster pop-up on trendy Melrose Avenue. Since then, we’ve seen a dance party at the California Science Center for Disney’s The Little Mermaid, a making-of documentary screening for Universal Pictures’ Oppenheimer, a Venice Beach party for Disney’s A Haunting in Venice and a pizza party for Paramount’s  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, attended by Seth Rogan and other filmmakers.

4. Retail Retreat

Brick-and-mortar retail was even less kind to the venerable physical disc in 2023 than it had been in 2022, when the big story was Walmart cutting its DVD/Blu-ray Disc floor space by 20%. Media Play News executive editor John Latchem in September reported that the disc sections at most Target stores have been reduced to an endcap for new-release DVDs and Blu-rays, and about one aisle for catalog titles, “while 4K editions all but disappeared from the chain’s stores….” A month later, Best Buy, which in the late 1990s led the charge by big retailers to take over the DVD sellthrough business, announced it would be phasing out DVDs, Blu-ray Discs and 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays at its 1,000+ stores as well as online — including the exclusive Steelbooks prized by collectors.

3. Distribution Disruption II

In August, it was reported that Walmart was in talks with Studio Distribution Services (SDS) about helping manage parts of its physical media business. SDS is the joint venture formed by Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. in April 2021 to distribute discs in North America. The venture is headed by Eddie Cunningham, a former president of UPHE. Sources told Media Play News that Walmart issued a request for proposal (RFP) and selected SDS. Walmart reportedly gives other studios and independent suppliers a certain deadline to come aboard. Cunningham said that while SDS “was initially set up for Warner Bros., Universal and their partners, it was built in a way that would allow it to scale up easily.”

2. PVOD Redux

A major development in 2023 was a growing number of theatrical titles being made available for digital purchase or rental in as little as 18 days after their theatrical openings, at a premium price. What’s known as premium video-on-demand, or PVOD, has long been a studio dream, and one that became a reality in 2020 after the COVID-19 pandemic shut theaters, leaving Hollywood with no option other than to premiere films at home. But as the pandemic faded from the headlines, so did PVOD — until this year, amid the growing realization that streaming on its own was unsustainable.

1. Window Treatment

The top story in the transactional space in 2023 was the return of windows. Three studios that previously had released most of their big theatricals simultaneously to traditional home entertainment (digital and disc) and their sister streaming services — Max at Warner Bros., Paramount+ at Paramount and Disney+ at Disney — shifted back to the old way of doing things, making their films available for digital or physical purchase or rental several weeks before they were dispatched to streaming.

View Media Play News‘ top 10 streaming stories of 2023 here.

‘Super Mario Bros. Movie’ Tops Vudu Movie Revenue Chart for 2023

Universal Pictures’ The Super Mario Bros. Movie captured the No. 1 spot on Vudu’s top 10 movies of 2023 list, based on digital purchases and rentals, followed by the 20th Century Fox James Cameron sequel Avatar: The Way of Water at No. 2, and Lionsgate’s John Wick: Chapter 4 at No. 3.

Vudu, Fandango’s transactional video-on-demand (TVOD) service, also ranked the top five TV shows, horror/thriller movies and action movies.

Vudu’s Top 10 Movies of 2023, in terms of revenue, are: 

  1. The Super Mario Bros. Movie
  2. Avatar: The Way of Water
  3. John Wick: Chapter 4
  4. Fast X
  5. Transformers: Rise of the Beasts
  6. Barbie
  7. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
  8. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves
  9. Puss in Boots: The Last Wish
  10. The Flash

 

Vudu’s Top 5 Horror/Thriller Movies of 2023, in terms of revenue, are:

  1. M3GAN
  2. Meg 2: The Trench
  3. Plane
  4. Evil Dead Rise
  5. The Pope’s Exorcist

 

Vudu’s Top 5 Action Movies of 2023, in terms of revenue, are:

  1. John Wick: Chapter 4
  2. Fast X
  3. Transformers: Rise of the Beasts
  4. The Equalizer 3
  5. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

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Vudu’s Top 5 TV Shows of 2023, in terms of revenue, are:

  1. Yellowstone
  2. The Big Bang Theory
  3. Friends
  4. Game of Thrones
  5. Supernatural