Warner’s ‘Scoob!’ Fiscal Results: It’s a Waiting Game

This much is certain: Warner Bros.’ PVOD release Scoob! was a big hit on major digital transaction charts.

In its first three days of availability, the erstwhile animated theatrical release, issued May 15 for rental or purchase at a premium price, finished atop the FandangoNow, iTunes, Google Play and Amazon Prime charts.

The movie also featured prominently as the first “theater at home” releases available on Vudu and Comcast’s Xfinity Movie Premiere.

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The title, which bypassed theatrical distribution when exhibitors shuttered in March due to the coronavirus, is available to rent for $19.99, and to purchase for $24.99.

How much Scoob! has generated in revenue is anyone’s guess. That’s because unlike the traditional weekend box office tally, digital rental/retail industry numbers and how to market them during a pandemic remains a work in progress.

Universal Pictures set the bar high last month when it revealed to much media attention that its animated Trolls World Tour sequel generated $100 million in digital revenue after three weeks. Unless Scoob! tops that tally sooner, it’s a waiting game when Warner will make a fiscal announcement — if at all.

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In the meantime, Trolls World Tour continues to resonate with cinema-starved consumers stuck at home with children. The feature remains near the top podium on most charts except iTunes. Newcomer Capone, from Vertical and starring Tom Hardy as the cigar-chomping title gangster, has resonated with consumers on FandangoNow and iTunes in the No. 4 position.

Early digital release holdovers, including Sony Pictures’ Bad Boys for Life, Bloodshot and Fantasy Island; Universal’s The Invisible Man; Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog; and Warner’s Birds of Prey continue to sell — albeit at reduced price points.

Indeed, Bloodshot is the No. 1 seller on Charter Spectrum, while Lionsgate’s Arkansas ranks sixth. Knives Out (Lionsgate) sits in eighth on Amazon Prime.

Disney has refused to play the PVOD game, opting instead to move some theatrical releases to Disney+ or delay box office debuts until the COVID-19 dust settles. To fill the void, Disney has pushed catalog titles, including Fox’s The Greatest Showman (No. 5 on Amazon) and Tombstone (No. 7 on iTunes).

And then there’s the elephant in the room: Netflix. With the largest SVOD subscriber base in the U.S. and worldwide, new original movie release The Wrong Missy, from Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions, and starring David Spade and Lauren Lapkus, ranks No. 1 on the streamer’s U.S. chart. Netflix ended the most recent fiscal period with 70 million domestic subs.

Warner Cautiously Entering PVOD Window

Warner Bros. May 15 dips its toes into the controversial premium video-on-demand waters, releasing previously earmarked animated theatrical release Scoob! directly into homes for $19.99 for a 48-hour rental, or $24.99 for digital purchase.

The movie is the only major theatrical title Warner has thus far switched from the box office distribution direct to home entertainment retail. Other titles such as Wonder Woman 1984 have had their cinema debuts pushed back.

“While we’re all eager to be able to once again show our films in theaters, we’re navigating new, unprecedented times, which call for creative thinking and adaptability in how we distribute our content,” studio boss Ann Sarnoff said in a statement last month. “We know fans are eager to see Scoob! and we’re delighted we can deliver this feel-good movie for families to enjoy while they’re home together.”

Warner is hoping the movie resonates with consumers in the home the way Universal Pictures’ Trolls World Tour did. The sequel to Trolls generated $100 million in revenue, prompting Universal to declare it would revisit PVOD as a simultaneous distribution option with theatrical.

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That announcement caused a firestorm among exhibitors with AMC Theatres (and Regal Cinema) angrily declaring it would no longer screen Universal (or any studio) movies with concurrent digital distribution.

Warner parent AT&T this week sought to head off any controversy with CFO John Stephens telling a virtual investor conference the studio remained firmly behind the theatrical window — for now.

“We’ll learn from [Scoob!],” Stephens told the MoffettNathanson 7th Annual Media & Communications Summit. “We’re interested in new ideas, whatever’s good for consumers, but we’ll continue to work with our [exhibition] partners.”

With theaters nationwide remaining shuttered due to the coronavirus and lack of new-release movies, PVOD money talks. And Warner Bros. & Co. are listening.

Warner Sticking With Theatrical Window — For Now

After Universal Pictures set off an industry firestorm announcing it would pursue simultaneous theatrical/PVOD distribution for new movies, the CFO of Warner Bros. parent AT&T told an investor event the studio is sticking with the 90-day theatrical window for now.

Speaking online May 12 on the virtual MoffettNathanson 7th Annual Media & Communications Summit, John Stephens sought to quell any notion Warner Bros. would upend industry norms as the movie theaters remain shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic.

That said, the studio on May 15 will launch its first skipped theatrical/PVOD release with Scoob!. The movie becomes the second major animated family film after Universal Pictures’ Trolls World Tour to bypass theatrical release in favor of digital release. Trolls World Tour reportedly generated $100 million through VOD, the digital equivalent of rental. Scoob! will be available either as a digital rental or purchase.

“We’ll learn from [Scoob!],” Stephens said. “We’re interested in new ideas, whatever’s good for consumers, but we’ll continue to work with our [exhibition] partners.”

Major exhibitors such as AMC Theatres and Regal Cinemas have vowed not to screen any theatrical movie concurrently available to digital channels at launch.

NBCUniversal’s Peacock Streaming Service Bowing on Apple Devices in July

Peacock, NBCUniversal’s new streaming service, May 6 announced it would be available on Apple devices, including iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD, when it launches nationally July 15.

The distribution is noteworthy as Apple has its own streaming service, Apple TV+, including original programming, also available on its hardware devices.

At that time, Peacock will offer a free, ad-supported tier featuring more than 7,500 hours of movies, shows, and timely live and on-demand programming across news, sports, reality and late night.

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Peacock Premium will be available for $4.99 per month and features more than 15,000 hours of content. Viewers may also upgrade Peacock Premium to ad-free for an additional $5.00, or $9.99 per month.

Peacock will be fully integrated with the Apple TV app, so users can stream across all Apple devices and find content in the “Watch Now” section, add shows, movies and live sports to “Up Next,” to ensure they never miss a thing, and use Siri to search for Peacock content.

Users will be able to sign up for Peacock Free or upgrade to Peacock Premium directly within the Peacock app on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Apple TV using an in-app purchase.

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“Our priority is to bring Peacock’s unrivaled collection of content to people across major distributors and device platforms,” Matt Bond, chairman of content distribution at NBCUniversal, said in a statement.

In addition to current-season programming from NBC and Telemundo, Peacock users will have access to Universal Pictures movies, including the “Jurassic Park” franchise, E.T., Meet the Parents and Shrek; TV shows “Parks and Recreation,” “30 Rock,” “Saturday Night Live,” “King of Queens,” “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Two and a Half Men,” “Frasier,” “George Lopez” and “Cheers”; dramas “Law & Order: SVU,” “Downton Abbey,” “Yellowstone,” “Friday Night Lights,” “House,” “Battlestar Galactica,” “Psych,” “Parenthood,” “Monk” and “Heroes”; kids programing including “Curious George,” “Where’s Waldo?” and “Cleopatra in Space,” in addition to Peacock original movies and shows (titles available at premiere yet to be announced).

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“Apple will be a key launch platform for Peacock,” said Maggie McLean Suniewick, president of business development and partnerships for Peacock.

The Peacock app will also feature daily programming highlights from “Today,” “NBC Nightly News,” “Meet the Press,” “Noticias Telemundo,” MSNBC, CNBC, NBC Sports, E! News and “Access Hollywood,” and 75 streaming channels, including clip-based channels like the best Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers comedy sketches, the best sketches from the “SNL” vault, plus news channels from NBC News Now and Sky News, and genre channels like True Crime, Reality Check-In and 80s Mix Tape.

Last month, Peacock rolled out early access to eligible Comcast’s Xfinity X1 and Flex customers. Peacock will also be bundled and included at no additional cost for eligible Cox Contour customers later this year.

Blu-ray Disc, DVD Release Sends ‘Bad Boys for Life’ to Top of ‘Watched at Home’ Chart

The Blu-ray Disc and DVD release of Sony Pictures’ Bad Boys for Life propelled the  action comedy into the top spot on the “Watched at Home” chart for the week ended April 25.

The third “Bad Boys” film was released digitally on March 31 after earning more than $200 million in North American theaters, making it the top box office earner in the franchise, which stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the final installment in Disney’s “Star Wars” sequel trilogy, slipped to No. 2 after three weeks at No. 1 on the weekly chart, which tracks transactional video activity compiled from studio and retailer data through DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.

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Like Bad Boys, The Rise of Skywalker captured the top spot on the chart — which measures disc sales, digital purchase (electronic sellthrough, or EST) and digital rental — after it became available on disc.

Another Universal Pictures film, The Gentleman, rose to No. 3 from No. 7 the prior week, also in the wake of its release on Blu-ray Disc and DVD. The action comedy follows an American expat, played by Matthew McConaughey, as a successful marijuana dealer in London who is attempting to cash out. The film’s ensemble cast includes Michelle Dockery, Colin Farrell, Henry Golding, Hugh Grant, Charlie Hunnam, Eddie Marsan and Jeremy Strong.

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Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog slipped to No. 4 from No. 3, while  Sony Pictures’  Jumanji: The Next Level remained at No. 5 for the third week.

Independent supplier Well Go USA scored its first entry on the “Watched at Home” chart with IP Man 4: The Finale, which debuted at No. 16.

  1. Bad Boys for Life (Sony)
  2. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (Disney)
  3. The Gentlemen (STX/Universal, 2019)
  4. Sonic the Hedgehog (Paramount)
  5. Jumanji: The Next Level (Sony)
  6. Dolittle (Universal)
  7. The Call of the Wild (Disney, 2020)
  8. Underwater (Fox)
  9. 1917 (Universal)
  10. Birds of Prey (Warner)
  11. Little Women (Sony, 2019)
  12. Bloodshot (Sony, 2020)
  13. The Way Back (Warner)
  14. Like a Boss (Paramount)
  15. Knives Out (Lionsgate)
  16. IP Man 4: The Finale (Well Go)
  17. Just Mercy (Warner)
  18. Fantasy Island (Sony, 2020)
  19. Spies in Disguise (Fox)
  20. Ford v Ferrari (Fox)


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 April 25

Universal: ‘Trolls World Tour’ Generated $100 Million in Digital Revenue

Universal Pictures reportedly has generated almost $100 million in revenue from the animated movie Trolls World Tour since its April 10 release on premium VOD for $19.99.

The Wall Street Journal, citing Universal’s corporate communications, said the studio generated another $60 million from the combined transactional VOD releases of The Invisible Man, The Hunt, Emma and Never Rarely Sometimes Always.

Universal Pictures sources later confirmed both figures to Media Play News — and noted that they are domestic (United States and Canada) only. The film will be released theatrically in most international markets in the fall.

“The results from Trolls World Tour have exceeded our expectations and demonstrated the viability of PVOD,” NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell told The Wall Street Journal. “As soon as theaters reopen, we expect to release movies on both formats.”

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Universal April 27 announced it is releasing previous Judd Apatow theatrical title The King of Staten Island, about and starring “Saturday Night Live” cast member Peter Davidson, on June 12 on PVOD.

Trolls World Tour, the sequel to Trolls, was originally intended to premiere in movie theaters April 10.

But with movie theaters shuttered in the wake of the March 11 declaration by the World Health Organization (WHO) of a global coronavirus pandemic, the film instead was released directly to premium VOD at a $19.99 rental price for 48 hours.

The film was also released to about 25 drive-in movie theaters on that same day, a Universal Pictures spokesperson told Media Play News — where it reportedly generated another $100,000 in total revenue.

The sequel, featuring the voices of Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Rachel Bloom, James Cordon and Kelly Clarkson, among others, was widely seen as a test case for PVOD.

Richard Greenfield, co-founder/analyst with Lightshed Partners, discussed the move to digital delivery on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” April 9, the day before the film’s release.

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“It’s a pretty monumental day in the film industry where a mainstream consumer movie in Trolls is going to skip the theaters,” he said. “I give [NBCUniversal CEO] Jeff Shell and the team at Universal Pictures a lot of credit for being willing to try this. It’s a unique circumstance. A lot of the marketing dollars had already been set in motion for Trolls, but you got kids stuck at home, families stuck at home — $20 for Trolls, direct-to-consumer … is really interesting. I’m certainly rooting for them to do well because I think this is an important model for the industry.”

Universal’s ‘The King of Staten Island’ Bowing on PVOD

Universal Pictures is sending another planned theatrical release straight to retail due to the ongoing coronavirus shutdown.

The King of Staten Island, a semi-autobiographical fictional movie about/starring “Saturday Night Live” cast member Peter Davidson from director Judd Apatow, is going to premium video-on-demand on June 12 — a week before the movie’s original theatrical release date.

Marisa Tomei, Bill Burr and Maude Apatow (the director’s oldest daughter and co-star with her mom, Leslie Mann, in TV commercials) co-star in the film.

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Davidson and Apatow joked about the release April 27 on social media.

“Dude, what is going on with our movie?” Davidson asked Apatow. “Am I still going to get an Oscar?”

Davidson, who has had his share of off-camera notoriety, lost his father — a firefighter — during the 9/11 World Trade Center attack.

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“He really is a sweetheart guy,” Apatow said about the 26-year-old comic in a media interview. “He’s so creative and smart. He’s been through things that no one on earth should ever have to go through.”

The movie marks Universal’s second PVOD release following Trolls World Tour on April 10, which the studio claims set digital retail records.

Universal Grabs ‘Lego’ Movie Rights From Warner Bros.

Universal Pictures April 23 announced that it has entered into a five-year exclusive agreement with the Lego Group to develop, produce and distribute theatrical releases based on its intellectual property and original ideas. The announcement was made by Donna Langley, chairman of the Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, and Jill Wilfert, head of entertainment at the Lego Group. Wilfert will serve as producer on all Lego projects developed and released by Universal.

Lego, which had licensed its IP to Warner Bros., reportedly moved to Universal after a planned Warner movie didn’t materialize. Lego branded movies include The Lego Movie, The Lego Batman Movie, The Lego Ninjago Movie and The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, which have collectively grossed nearly $1.1 billion at the worldwide box office — for Warner Bros., which retains rights to those titles.

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Universal and Lego have previously collaborated on the television special Jurassic World: The Secret Exhibit and the 13-episode miniseries Lego Jurassic World: Legend of Isla Nublar.

“The Lego System in Play gives people the ability to build worlds and create stories that they carry throughout every phase of their lives,” Langley said in a statement. “To partner with such an iconic brand that remains relevant and is constantly evolving allows for creativity in storytelling.”

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‘Trolls World Tour’ PVOD Release No. 1 on iTunes, Amazon Video

Universal Pictures/DreamWorks Animation’s groundbreaking PVOD release of Trolls World Tour topped digital charts, including No. 1 on iTunes, Amazon Video and Redbox On Demand, among others (through April 12), following its April 10 launch. Financial results have not been released.

The sequel to the 2016 original Trolls movie was released on PVOD for $19.99 on the same day it had been scheduled to debut in theaters prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

With movie theaters shuttered globally to reduce the spread of the virus, studios have either postponed launch dates for tentpole titles or expedited a movie’s retail distribution, including Universal’s The Invisible Man, Paramount Pictures’ Sonic the Hedgehog and Sony Pictures’ Bloodshot, among others.

Disney has said it would debut Artemis Fowl on its branded subscription streaming video platform — the first of several other undisclosed titles.

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“The measures being taken right now are because of the unforeseen circumstances,” Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with Comscore, told Business Insider. “And consumers have an appetite for new content. We are literally stuck at home.”

Michael Pachter, media analyst with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, doubts PVOD has much of a long-term shelf life. He says studios cannot recoup production/marketing costs of big-budget movies for $20 to households.

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“One off and unsustainable,” Pachter said in an email. “We have been trained to wait for $5.99 digital rental. [Studios] will scrap the idea once the pandemic is behind us.”

Comcast Expecting ‘Material Adverse’ Impact on Business

With its amusement parks business shuttered, Hollywood movies on hiatus and Olympics coverage postponed, Comcast issued a warning to investors that its myriad business segments could have “material adverse” impact in the short-term — including the first quarter ending March 31.

The warning mirrors what The Walt Disney Co. is going through, with some observers speculating Bob Iger’s sudden decision to hand over CEO duties to Bob Chapek revolved largely around his realization of what was in store financially for the Mouse House.

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Comcast Treasurer William Dordelman, in the filing, said the company has closed all theme parks, and delayed Universal Pictures’ distribution of films both domestically and internationally, in addition to the disruption in production and availability of movies and television programming in the United States and globally, postponement of sports events, including the Olympics, and suspension of entertainment content production.

Dordelman said the global situation will “materially exacerbate” Sky’s previously deteriorating economic environment and advertising market in the U.K. and Europe.

“Our Comcast Cable business, while our network performs well to meet the challenge of business and schooling from home, will not be unaffected either as economic stress impacts our residential and business services customer base,” he wrote.

The CFO expects the “ultimate significance” of the impact of COVID-19 on businesses will vary, but will generally depend on the extent of governmental measures affecting day to day life and the length of time that such measures remain in place to respond to the virus.

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Dordelman said it is impossible to predict the extent and duration and the degree to which supply and demand for Comcast products and services, including advertising, will be affected.

“This uncertainty makes it challenging for management to estimate the future performance of our businesses, particularly over the near to medium term. However, the impact of COVID-19 could have a material adverse impact on our results of operations over the near to medium term,” he wrote.