Twentieth Century Studios (formerly Fox) Home Entertainment’s The Greatest Showman enjoyed renewed popularity among consumers in the United Kingdom, returning atop the weekly Official Film Chart through Feb. 10 – for the first time in more than two years.
Notching up the highest digital sales tally of the week, the movie starring Hugh Jackman has sold more than 3.27 million combined discs and digital, and lays claim to the most weeks on the Top 40 in Film Chart history with 109 non-consecutive weeks, 32 of which have been spent in the Top 10.
Meanwhile at No. 2 is this week’s highest new entry Saint Maud. This unnerving horror film stars Morfydd Clark as the eponymous nurse Maud, who makes it her purpose to save her terminally ill patient’s soul from eternal damnation. Flying back up the chart and landing at No. 3 is 1997 sci-fi classic The Fifth Element, while Godzilla: King of the Monsters (No. 4) continues to enjoy a stint in the Top 5 ahead of the release of Godzilla vs. Kong in theaters next month.
Black Panther zoomed up 24 spots this week to No. 6 following the release of a new Blu-ray Disc 4K Steelbook edition of the film. It lands just ahead of last week’s chart topper, Bill & Ted Face the Music at No. 7. Finally, Trolls World Tour rebounds into the Top 10 at No. 10, its highest chart placing since early December.
This week’s Official Film Chart online show features a preview of Alec Baldwin in Irish comedy-drama Pixie, available for download Feb. 15.
Netflix reportedly paid $4.4 million (£3.2 million) to HM Revenue & Customs in the U.K. in 2019, on revenue of $164 million (£120 million). It’s a major bill following years of tax avoidance in the famously tax aggressive country.
With around 13 million subscribers, the U.K. is Netflix’s No. 2 market following North America. The region has become a hotbed for content production, with the streamer spending in excess of $1 billion on programming in 2020. Netflix now operates three companies in the U.K., including Netflix Services U.K., Netflix Studios U.K., and Netflix Productions U.K. — underscoring the company’s push to legitimize its presence in the region.
The push to pay its fair share of taxes has taken baby steps. Until recently, Netflix lowered its U.K. taxes by paying subscription revenue through Netflix EMEA, based in Amsterdam, Holland. London-based research firm Ampere Analytics contends Netflix actual taxes in 2019 would have been around $34.1 million (£25 million) based on subscription revenue of $1.28 billion (£940 million).
Netflix last year announced its U.K. revenue and taxes going forward would be recognized in the U.K.
“We are proud to be increasing our investment in the U.K.’s creative industries — spending over $1 billion in the U.K. on new, locally-made films, series and documentaries in 2020 alone, helping to create thousands of jobs and showcasing British storytelling and culture to the world,” a Netflix rep said in a media statement. “We pay all taxes required and are committed to playing an active role in supporting British production and creative talent for the long term.”
Netflix, which generated a $2.76 billion profit on $25 billion in revenue in 2020, allocated $437.9 million in taxes for the fiscal year — up from $195.3 million in 2019.
Warner Home Video’s Tenet held on to the No. 1 spot on home entertainment’s first Official Film Chart of 2021 in the U.K. The time-bending epic starring David Washington had more than double the unit sales (physical and digital) of its closest competition, Disney/Marvel’s The New Mutants at No. 2.
The New Mutants entered the chart as the highest new entry of the week on digital downloads only. A dark spin-off of the X-Men series, the superhero horror movie stars Maisie Williams and Anna Taylor-Joy.
Roald Dahl’s The Witches (Warner) dropped to No. 3, as festive classic Love Actually (Universal) held on for another week at No. 4. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s Spider-Man: Far From Home re-entered the chart for the first time since October at No. 5. Bad Boys For Life (Sony) also returned to the Top 10, at No. 6, while Little Women (Sony) climbed to No. 7.
Last Christmas (Universal) dropped two places to No. 8, as Jumanji: The Next Level (Sony) rose to No. 9, and Warner’s Birds of Prey finished at No. 10.
The Official Film Chart Top 10 – Jan. 6, 2021
The New Mutants
Roald Dahl’s The Witches
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Spider-Man: Far From Home
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Bad Boys For Life
Little Women (2019)
Jumanji: The Next Level
Birds of Paradise and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn
Warner Home Video’s enduring 2003 catalog release Elf finished atop the Official Film Chart in the U.K. for the third consecutive week (ended Dec. 16) — driven by transactional VOD, which accounted for 75% of the title’s unit sales.
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment’s Last Christmas again finished No. 2, spurred by strong DVD and Blu-ray Disc sales. Separately, Universal’s holiday-themed releases The Grinch (No. 3) and Love Actually (No. 4) maintained their positions for another week.
Disney-owned 20th Century Home Entertainment’s Home Alone, and Warner’s The Polar Express moved up one spot, respectively at No. 5 and No. 6. Disney’s Mulan dropped two places to No. 7, while 1992’s The Muppet Christmas Carol entered the chart at No. 8 for the first time.
TikTok, the Chinese-owned social media video app, is coming to connected televisions for the first time. In a Dec. 14 announcement, TikTok said its app would be embedded in Samsung Smart TVs in the U.K., with further rollout across Europe planned in 2021. The deal does not include the U.S. for now. About 100 million Americans use the TikTok app on a monthly basis.
“The past year has dramatically changed the way we live, work and play,” Rich Waterworth, GM of the U.K. amd E.U. at TikTok, said in a statement. “More of us are spending time at home watching TV. This has led us to think about how we can bring the creativity and joy of TikTok to even more people across the U.K.”
Waterworth, a former executive at YouTube and ITV, said the app would not require registering an TikTok account. Viewers will have access to 12 content categories, including a portfolio of original content, including recipe hacks, comedy skits, and video challenges.
The app will be available on all Samsung Smart TV models from 2018, which include 4K UHD and 8K TVs as well as Smart Monitor, The Premiere, The Frame and The Serif.
“We strive to give our customers an unrivalled content offering to guarantee endless entertainment and the latest addition of TikTok to our app line-up unlocks a new entertainment experience,” said Dan Hastings, director of TV/AV at Samsung Electronics (U.K.) Ltd. “With our QLED technology, customers will be able to watch the TikTok content creations on a big screen with lifelike picture resolution to maximize their viewing experience.”
Christmas is officially here, as Warner Home Video’s Elf stands tall at No. 1 on the Official Film Chart in the United Kingdom through Dec. 9, as the 2003 comedy with Will Ferrell marks a second week atop the Top 10. The title added 30,000 unit sales, with 73% made up of digital downloads.
Meanwhile, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment’s Last Christmas improved one place to No. 2, just a few thousand sales behind, while the studio’s The Grinch inched closer to the top, rising five places to No. 3.
One of the U.K.’s most treasured Christmas flicks, Love Actually, entered the Top 10 for the first time, landing at No. 4, while Disney’s live-action remake of Mulan dropped three to No. 5. Home Alone (20th Century Home Entertainment) soared up 28 places to its highest peak yet of No. 6, and Warner’s The Polar Express climbed eight spots to No. 7. Sam Mendes’ critically acclaimed World War I drama 1917 dropped one place to No. 8.
A Christmas Gift From Bob — the sequel to 2016’s feel-good biographical film A Street Cat Named Bob — debuted at No. 9 following its release on disc by Lionsgate U.K. Finally, a 4K UHD Blu-ray Disc release from Warner of the TheLord of the Rings Trilogy entered the Official Film Chart for the first time at No. 10.
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment’s Elf climbed to No. 1 on the U.K. home entertainment Official Film Chart through Dec. 2. The 2003 movie starring Will Ferrell finished atop the weekly chart for the first time since the chart’s inception in 2018.
Disney’s live action remake of Mulan dropped to No. 2 after two weeks on the top rung. Last Christmas (Universal) held on at No. 3 as The Greatest Showman (20th Century) climbed seven spots to No. 4. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (Lucasfilm) soared 10 spots to No. 5 following the release of a new 4K UHD Blu-ray Disc Steelbook edition.
This week’s highest new entry was psychological thriller Unhinged (No. 6), starring Russell Crowe and Caren Pistorious. Entertainment One’s 1917 moved down one spot to No. 7, as did Jim Carrey in The Grinch at No. 8. Universal’s Trolls World Tour climbed seven spots to No. 9. Finally, Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis’ new festive rom-com, Happiest Season debuted at No. 10 on digital downloads only.
After signing a 10-year lease for original content production at Shepperton Studios in the United Kingdom, Netflix has significantly upped content spending across the Atlantic.
The streaming video behemoth is reportedly set to spend $1 billion (£750 million) on U.K. episodic and feature film productions in 2020, up from the £500 million spent in 2019 and spearheaded by “The Witcher,” starring Henry Cavill (Man of Steel).
Netflix, which launched streaming service in the U.K. and Ireland in 2012, topped more than 13 million subscribers in the region at the end of March.
“The U.K. is an incredibly important market to Netflix and we are proud to be increasing our investment in the U.K.’s creative industries,” a Netflix U.K. rep told The Guardian. “‘The Crown,’ ‘Sex Education’ and ‘The Witcher’ are among the shows that have been made in the U.K. this year and will be watched by the world. These shows are a testament to the depth of talent that exists here.”
Regardless, Netflix’s content spend still lags that of the BBC’s TV spend of £1.6 billion and ITV’s £1.1 billion, respectively. Both companies co-own BritBox, a competing SVOD service launched in the U.S. and now also operating in the U.K. and Australia.
New data from Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board found that 60% of U.K. households (17 million) now have subscription VOD service through September. That’s up from 3 million households in the previous-year period.
Notably, Netflix dominates among those homes with 14.8 million subscriptions, just behind Brazil’s 15+ million subs. By comparison, Disney+, which launched in the U.K. in March, has about 3.4 million subs.
Meanwhile, Amazon Prime Video, which acquired U.K.’s LoveFilm in 2011 to enter the by-mail DVD movie rental business, has 9.5 million subs. Amazon morphed streaming service LoveFilm Instant into Amazon Prime Instant Video — a precursor to Prime Video.
Netflix has named Anna Mallet to the position as VP of physical production in the United Kingdom, where she will be based in the streamer’s London office reporting to Ty Warren. Mallet, who formerly was COO and MD of production at BBC Studios, most-recently headed Independent Television News, an indie TV production company across the pond.
Mallet will be responsible for local-language content production in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Latin America and Asia -Pacific.
“Anna brings a wealth of global production experience and strategic expertise to our production team as we continue to expand our investment in original programming throughout the world,” Warren said in a statement. “I’m excited to work with her as we continue to stand up our productions and position the Netflix studio for its next stage of growth and success.”
Mallett is the latest high-profile executive move at Netflix, which also named Nne Ebong as VP of overall deals for original series. The streamer, which is approaching 200 million subscribers globally, is aggressively upping worldwide content production to stave off renewed competition from Amazon Prime Video, newcomer Disney+, pending foreign launches of HBO Max and Paramount+, in addition to regional SVOD competitors.
“Netflix is a creative powerhouse and I am looking forward to working with my exceptional new colleagues … to bring the very best films and series to audiences everywhere,” said Mallet.