NBCUniversal Reportedly Considering Distributing All Movies Through Peacock After Normal Theatrical, Transactional Runs; Netflix Grabs ‘Knives Out’ Sequel

Taking a page out of the Disney over-the-top video playbook, NBCUniversal is reportedly considering diverting all future Universal Pictures releases to proprietary SVOD platform Peacock — rather than Netflix and HBO Max —  after their theatrical and transactional home entertainment runs.

Citing sources familiar with the situation, Bloomberg reports Universal’s existing distribution deals with HBO for movies such as Fast & Furious 9 and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom nine months after their box office debut, and with Netflix for Illumination titles (i.e. Despicable Me, Sing), both expire at the end of this year. This would give the studio and NBCUniversal the option to channel original movies exclusively to Peacock.

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In the build-up to the launch of its own SVOD service, Disney in 2017 began holding back movies previously earmarked for Netflix distribution. Five years prior, Disney and Netflix inked a landmark agreement affording the SVOD platform exclusive access to original Disney movies — an agreement many observers say contributed to Netflix’s burgeoning appeal.

While nothing has been decided, forgoing third-party distribution could see Universal passing up hundreds of millions of dollars in annual licensing revenue for a SVOD subsidiary with 33 million account sign-ups (not subscriptions) since launching last summer.

Universal also has deals in place with exhibitors AMC Theatres and Regal that enable it to distribute movies to premium VOD as early as 17 days after their theatrical debuts, depending on box office.

At the same time, Netflix has aggressively sought to produce its own movies, including about 60 titles annually. The streamer led all studios with Oscar nominations. And HBO Max has exclusive access to Warner Bros. Pictures theatrical releases for the first 31 days.

Separately, Netflix reportedly secured sequel rights to Knives Out, the 2019 critically acclaimed ensemble murder mystery distributed by Lionsgate in a one-picture deal with Media Rights Capital, the production company behind Netflix’s “House of Cards” and “Ozark.” The $400 million to $450 million deal would be the most Netflix has ever paid to license a movie. Knives Out generated $331.3 million worldwide theatrically on a budget of $40 million.

Knives Out

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Nobody’ Tops Domestic Weekend Box Office as ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ Slays the World

It’s fitting that in a pandemic-challenged domestic weekend box office with limited seating capacity, a movie called Nobody would reign supreme.

Universal Pictures’ vigilante justice drama — starring unlikely action hero Bob Odenkirk (“Better Call Saul”) — generated a reported $6.7 million across 2,460 screens the weekend of March 26-28. That would be a dud during normal times, but reason to celebrate in a market undermined by weary moviegoers waiting to get vaccinated.

Nobody, which follows the industry trends of Lionsgate’s John Wick with Keanu Reeves and Liam Neeson’s Taken and The Marksman, among others, generated another $5 million in international ticket sales.

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That pales in comparison to Warner Bros. Pictures’ Godzilla vs. Kong, the big-budget CG-generated action film opening in the U.S. on March 31. The title generated more than $70 million at the Chinese box office — underscoring the franchise’s long-running appeal in the communist country. Kong: Skull Island sold $71.4 million worth of tickets in China in 2017, while Godzilla: King of the Monsters generated $66.7 million in 2019.

Worldwide, Godzilla vs. Kong has sold more than $121 million worth of tickets.

Meanwhile, a steady bill of pandemic regulars led by Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon and Warner Bros.’ Tom & Jerry drove the domestic box office. Raya, despite being available on Disney+, sold another $3.5 in tickets, bringing its total box office to $28.4 million, while Tom & Jerry, which is streaming on HBO Max, added another $2.5 million, $37.1 million total.

Lionsgate’s Chaos Walking took in another $1.2 million ($11.4 million), followed by The Courier with $1 million ($3.5 million), The Croods: A New Age ($540,000; $56 million) and The Marksman ($375,000; $14.8 million).

 

‘The Croods: A New Age’ Spends Third Week Atop Disc Sales Charts

Universal Pictures’ The Croods: A New Age continued its reign over the home video charts the week ended March 13. For the third consecutive week, the DreamWorks Animation sequel topped both the NPD VideoScan First Alert chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales, and the dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart.

In fact, four the five top disc sellers carried over from the previous week. No. 2 on both charts was Sony Pictures’ video game adaptation Monster Hunter, followed at No. 3 by the “Croods” two-film collection. No. 5 on both charts was STX Films’ Greenland, distributed on disc by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

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The week’s top newcomer, at No. 4, was Lionsgate’s Vanguard, a Chinese actioner starring Jackie Chan as the CEO of a security firm tasked with protecting a corrupt businessman who rats out his partner in an arms deal. Vanguard had 48% of its sales come from the Blu-ray Disc format.

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The Media Play News rental chart for the week ended March 14 had The Croods: A New Age return to the top spot it held two weeks earlier before dropping to No. 2 a week ago.

The intervening top rental, Monster Hunter, slipped to No. 2.

Quiver Entertainment’s Crisis, which is available on disc exclusively as a Redbox rental until April 20, climbed five spots to No. 3, pushing Lionsgate’s Fatale to No. 4, and Greenland to No. 5.

Vanguard debuted as the No. 6 rental.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 3-13-21
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 3-14-21
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 3-13-21
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 3-13-21
Sales Report for Week Ended 3-13-21
Digital Transactions Snapshot for Week Ended 3-15-21

‘Wonder Woman 1984,’ ‘Promising Young Woman’ Top Slate of New Digital, Disc Releases Available March 16

Wonder Woman 1984, Promising Young Woman, Songbird and Don’t Tell a Soul top the slate of new releases available for home viewing March 16.

Wonder Woman 1984, which was supposed to be one of last summer’s big theatrical tentpoles, instead became the poster child for the multi-platform release strategy triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The superhero film, starring Gal Gadot, was famously released to theaters and on the HBO Max streaming service on Christmas Day, followed by a  48-hour premium VOD rental window last month.

Now, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is releasing the film through normal digital retail channels on March 16, two weeks ahead of its debut on Blu-ray Disc, DVD, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and 3D Blu-ray.

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Promising Young Woman becomes available on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and on demand March 16, after an initial release for digital purchase. The Universal Pictures film, nominated for four Golden Globe Awards and five Oscars, stars Carey Mulligan as Cassie, whose promising future was derailed by a mysterious event. Wickedly smart and tantalizingly cunning, she’s now living a secret double life by night — and is eager to avenge the wrongs of the past.

Also making its Blu-ray Disc and DVD debut on March 16 is another Universal Pictures film, Songbird, a sci-fi thriller directed by Adam Mason (Into the Dark) and starring K.J. Apa, Sofia Carson, Craig Robinson, Bradley Whitford, Peter Stormare, Alexandra Daddario, Paul Walter Hauser and Demi Moore.

In the film, a devastating pandemic ravages the world and the United States is in its fourth year of lockdown. Infected Americans are ripped from their homes and forced into quarantine camps known as Q-Zones from which there is no escape, as a few brave souls fight back against the forces of oppression. Amid this dystopian landscape, a fearless courier, Nico (Apa), who’s immune to the deadly pathogen, finds hope and love with Sara (Carson), though her lockdown prohibits them from physical contact. When Sara is believed to have become infected, Nico races desperately across the barren streets of Los Angeles in search of the only thing that can save her from imprisonment or worse.

Don’t Tell a Soul, from Lionsgate, arrives on Blu-ray Disc and DVD March 16. Already available on demand and through digital retailers, the dramatic thriller stars Rainn Wilson, Fionn Whitehead, Jack Dylan and Mena Suvari. While stealing money to help their sick mother (Suvari), teen brothers Matt and Joey (Whitehead and Grazer) are surprised by Hamby (Wilson), a security officer who gives chase and is then trapped in a well. Over the next few days, Joey and Hamby forge an uneasy relationship. Hamby tells Joey he’ll keep quiet if Joey sets him free. But Hamby holds another secret, one that will threaten Joey and his family in this twist-filled, cat-and-mouse thriller.

Other new March releases of note include the werewolf horror film I Am Lisa, from Mill Creek, available on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and VOD; Shout! Factory Steelbook Blu-ray editions of Japanese anime classics Whisper of the Heart (1995) and The Cat Returns (2002); and Warner Archive Blu-ray Discs of Damn Yankees; Driving Miss Daisy; What’s Up, Doc; and Crossfire.

A complete list of new disc and digital releases, compiled each week by the Media Play News market research team, can be found here.

Disney’s ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’ Tops Biggest Pandemic Weekend Box Office Since Christmas

Disney’s new theatrical/Premier Access release, Raya and the Last Dragon, topped the weekend domestic box office with a projected $8.6 million in ticket sales through March 7. That’s slightly more than the film generated in China at $8.4 million. The movie is tracking toward more than $26 million worldwide. The domestic box office topped $23.1 million — the largest tally since Christmas.

With some New York City movie theaters re-opening, the tally underwhelmed when compared to the previous-weekend’s $14.1 debut of Warner Bros. Pictures live-action/animation hybrid Tom & Jerry, which also bowed simultaneously on HBO Max. The movie took in $6.6 million in the No. 2 spot; $23 million since launching.

Lionsgate’s fantasy Chaos Walking, starring Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley, rounded out the podium with a reported $3.8 million — a far cry from the movie’s reported $100 million production budget.

Raya also underperformed compared with the opening of Universal Pictures’ The Croods: A New Age with $9.7 million last Thanksgiving, and Warner’s Wonder Woman 1984 with $16.7 million over Christmas weekend. Raya was hamstrung as Cinemark, the No. 3 exhibitor in the country, refused to screen the movie without a renegotiated distribution deal with Disney.

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Indeed, Raya was concurrently available to Disney+ subscribers for $29.99, the same price of Disney’s first Premier Access release, Mulan, over the Labor Day weekend. Disney has not reported financial details of that direct-to-consumer retail release. Notably, Disney keeps 100% of all Premier Access revenue while splitting theatrical revenue with exhibitors.

On a March 1 virtual investor event, Disney CEO Bob Chapek said the studio still believes in the theatrical business model but added the the consumer dynamic is changing.

“I think the consumer is probably more impatient than they’ve ever been before because now they’ve had the luxury of an entire year of getting [movies] at home pretty much when they want them,” Chapek said. “I’m not sure there’s a going back, but we certainly don’t want to cut the legs off a theatrical exhibition run.”

Paramount’s ‘A Quiet Place Part 2’ Theatrical Release Bumped Up

In a switch, Paramount Pictures has moved forward the release date of oft-delayed sequel A Quiet Place Part 2 to Memorial Day weekend (May 28) from its previously delayed Sept. 4 debut.

The move means that the John Krasinski-directed follow-up to his original 2018 sleeper hit, A Quiet Place, starring his wife Emily Blunt in a post-apocalyptic world where sound can get someone killed, will stream earlier than expected on new subscription streaming service Paramount+. The first movie generated $340 million in global ticket sales, including $188 million domestically.

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A Quiet Place Part 2, along with Mission: Impossible 7, starring Tom Cruise, have both been tagged by Paramount with shortened theatrical windows (45 days) in order to expedite streaming access into consumer homes.

Paramount made the decision after Universal Pictures pushed back again the theatrical (and PVOD) release of F9, or Fast & Furious 9, from May 22 to June 25 due to the pandemic’s ongoing economic impact on movie theaters. F9 was originally slated to launch May 22, 2020. Universal also pushed the next installment in the “Despicable Me” franchise, Minions: The Rise of Gru, to 2022.

Paramount also moved the theatrical release of sci-fi thriller Infinite, co-starring Mark Wahlberg and Chiwetel Ejiofor, to Sept. 24.

Universal Delays ‘F9: The Fast Saga’ Theatrical Release a Third Time; Pushes ‘Minions: The Rise of Gru’ to 2022

Universal Pictures March 4 announced it is delaying for a third time the latest installment of the “Fast & Furious” franchise, F9: The Fast Saga, from May 22 to June 25. The studio also pushed back by 12 months Minions: The Rise of Gru until summer 2022.

The new delays come despite upbeat news coronavirus vaccinations now include people age 55 and older and are being administered more than 1.5 million times a day, according to the federal government. In addition, New York theaters are set to re-open March 5, operating at 25% seating capacity. It’s the first time theaters in the state and city have been open in a year.

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Universal has upped marketing for F9, which co-stars Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Dwayne Johnson and John Cena, among others, including running two Super Bowl commercials. The movie trailers reportedly tracked 44.5 million views, according to RelishMix. The franchise has generated nearly $5.9 billion in global ticket sales.

‘News of the World’ Coming to Digital March 9, 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD March 23

The Tom Hanks Western News of the World will be available for purchase on digital March 9 and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD March 23 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film was previously released as a premium VOD rental.

Set in the 1870s, the film stars Hanks as former Army captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, who moves from town to town as a non-fiction storyteller, sharing the news from the far reaches of the globe. In the plains of Texas, he crosses paths with a 10-year-old girl (Helena Zengel) taken in by the Kiowa people and raised as one of their own. Kidd agrees to deliver the child where the law says she belongs. As they travel hundreds of miles into the unforgiving wilderness, the two face tremendous challenges of both human and natural forces.

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The film is based on the best-selling novel and was nominated for two Golden Globe Awards and two Screen Actors Guild Awards.

The release will feature exclusive bonus content, including deleted scenes, feature commentary with co-writer/director Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips, “Bourne” Franchise), and an inside look into the relationship between movie veteran Hanks and newcomer Golden Globe-nominee Helena Zengel.

‘Greenland’ Climbs to Top of ‘Watched at Home’ List

STX Films’ Greenland, released on Blu-ray and DVD Feb. 9 by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, jumped up to the No. 1 spot on the weekly “Watched at Home” chart the week ended Feb. 20.

Greenland, in which Gerard Butler plays a man trying to get his family to get his family to a military shelter while comets threaten life on Earth, had been in second place a week earlier on the Watched at Home chart, which tracks transactional video activity (both digital and on DVD and Blu-ray Disc, but not premium VOD or disc rental) compiled from studio and retailer data and presented by DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group. This is its fourth week on the chart, having started in the fourth spot at the end of January and moved up one spot each week since.

The previous week’s most-watched title, DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods: A New Age from Universal Pictures, dropped to No. 2.

The top newcomer to the chart was No. 3 Monster Hunter, from Sony Pictures. Based on the video game franchise of the same name, the film stars Milla Jovovich as Capt. Artemis, whose unit is caught in a sandstorm that transports them to a world ruled by dangerous and monsters. As they fight to survive, they encounter the mysterious Hunter (Tony Jaa), whose unique skills allow him to stay one step ahead of the powerful creatures. Monster Hunter became available for digital sellthrough on Feb. 16, ahead of its March 2 release on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.

Rounding out the top five were Universal’s Let Him Go at No. 4 and Warner’s Tenet at No. 5.

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The only other title making its first appearance on the chart during the week was Vertical Entertainment’s Shadow in the Cloud. The film, which stars Chloë Grace Moretz as a World War II flight officer on a secret mission when her bomber is attacked by gremlins, was released through digital channels at the beginning of the year and is currently available on disc exclusively through Redbox (though the Watched at Home chart doesn’t account for disc rentals).

  1. Greenland (Universal/STX)
  2. The Croods: A New Age (Universal)
  3. Monster Hunter (Sony Pictures)
  4. Let Him Go (Universal)
  5. Tenet (Warner)
  6. Freaky (Universal)
  7. American Skin (Vertical Entertainment)
  8. Yellowstone: Season 1 (Paramount)
  9. Yellowstone: Season 3 (Paramount)
  10. Yellowstone: Season 2 (Paramount)
  11. Shadow in the Cloud (Vertical)
  12. Harry Potter Complete 8-Film Collection (Warner)
  13. Honest Thief (Universal)
  14. The War with Grandpa (Universal)
  15. Songbird (STX)
  16. Love and Monsters (Paramount)
  17. Synchronic (Well Go)
  18. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (Warner)
  19. Wild Mountain Thyme (Universal)
  20. Come Play (Universal)

 

Source: DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group
Includes U.S. digital sales, digital rentals, and DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD sales for the week ended Feb. 20.

Merchandising: Retailers Focus on ‘Croods: A New Age’

Target and Walmart brought out exclusive editions of DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods: A New Age, which was released on Blu-ray Disc, DVD, 3D Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Feb. 23 by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

Target offered the Blu-ray/DVD combo pack of the animated film with a 40-page filmmaker gallery book at $24.99.

Walmart had a gift set of the Blu-ray/DVD combo pack for $24.96 packed with a “Croods” water bottle and a 35-piece puzzle.

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‘The Croods: A New Age’ Walmart Blu-ray