Doc ‘Explorer’ Headed to Digital and On Demand Aug. 30

The documentary Explorer, a portrait of Sir Ranulph Fiennes will be available via digital and on demand Aug. 30 from Universal Pictures Content Group.

The documentary peels back the layers of the explorer’s life to go beyond his record-breaking achievements and reveal the man behind the myth. Fiennes is credited with the sensational title of being the World’s Greatest Living Explorer. Amongst his extraordinary achievements, he was the first to circumnavigate the world from pole to pole, crossed the Antarctic on foot, broke countless world records and discovered a lost city in Arabia. He has traveled to the most dangerous places on the planet, lost half his fingers to frostbite, raised millions of pounds for charity and was nearly cast as James Bond (He also happens to be a cousin to Ralph and Joseph.).  

The film also features appearances from HRH Charles, Prince of Wales, and fellow explorer Bear Grylls, as well as exclusive access to Fiennes, his film archive, preserved and cared for by the BFI National Archive, covering decades of expeditions and contributions from life-long friends and colleagues.

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“In Explorer, I wanted to create a compelling portrait of the real man behind the myth, and between the cracks of the ordinary and the extraordinary, I hope audiences see for themselves an intimate side to his personality and the motivations that drive him,” said director Matt Dyas in a statement.

Explorer is a Good Productions film in association with the British Film Institute (BFI) and Universal Pictures Content Group.

 

Vudu Offering Exclusive Clips, Gift Cards, Game Discount for ‘Rise of Gru’ Debut

Vudu is offering fans exclusive behind-the-scenes clips of Steve Carell at Vudu and Fandango.com as Universal and Illumination’s Minions: The Rise of Gru debuts on the transactional digital service. 

The title is available for premium digital purchase and rental.

Vudu is also providing a guide to activities, games and crafts, including activity sheets that feature instructions for making a Minions pet rock and how to create an origami ninja star, minions badges and minion popsicle stick puppets, as well as access to coloring sheets and a banana split recipe.

Vudu is also offering seven Minions: The Rise of Gru-themed gift cards.

In addition, for a limited time, consumers purchasing Minions: The Rise of Gru on Vudu will get a discount code good for 50% off the new Exploding Minions family game, the Minions-themed version of the popular Exploding Kittens, featuring new cards and illustrations. Here’s how to play the game and see here for details on the offer.

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Broken Windows: Studios Still Tinkering With the Dating Game

It’s been a chaotic couple of years in home entertainment.

As the pandemic began to spread in early 2020, the home entertainment business was already facing waves of change, with dominant streamers Netflix and Amazon finally getting some high-profile competition. Both the Walt Disney Co.’s Disney+ and Apple’s Apple TV+ had launched the previous November. Warner’s HBO Max was preparing to start streaming in May 2020, with NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service close behind in July.

ViacomCBS in September 2020 announced that its existing CBS All Access streaming service would be rebranded Paramount+ with the promise (since fulfilled) of top-tier studio product.

Meanwhile, premium-priced, in-home transactional viewing of first-run movies got a boost as studios looked to serve consumers locked out of theaters or wary of going to the cineplex as the pandemic swelled.

Never before had there been so many ways consumers could watch movies and other filmed content at home — just as a pandemic kept everyone there.

The result: a lot of broken windows.

Films hit theaters and premium VOD or streaming services simultaneously or landed on PVOD or streaming services in a matter of weeks after their theatrical bow — and generally entered the home earlier and in more varied ways than ever before.

Theaters — the traditional first stop for top films — faced their biggest threat to their exclusive window yet.

“The window has been shrinking for the last 20 years,” says analyst Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles. “It used to be nine months, then 180 days, then 135, then 105, then 90, then 70. Pre-pandemic, the theater owners had some leverage by refusing to exhibit films that had a shorter window, but that leverage evaporated when theaters were closed altogether. The studios experimented, with Universal shifting to 17-day windows (three weekends) and with Warner going day-and-date on HBO Max for all of 2021. Disney screwed up mightily with day-and-date PVOD — nobody cared about Mulan, but they cared very much about Black Widow.”

Disney, in fact, was sued by Black Widow’s lead actress Scarlett Johansson over her alleged losses over the PVOD move, and the studio settled.

Two years later, as the pandemic moves into a new phase, the experimentation seems to have waned, but it’s unclear (as it is with COVID-19) whether home entertainment has reached a “new normal.”
“When the pandemic impact began to fade, studios and theater owners found a 45-day middle ground,” Pachter says. “That appears to be an unwritten rule, and it is unclear if it will apply equally to all movies. I suspect that films like Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way of Water will have 70- to 105-day windows, and films like Elvis and Nope will have 45-day windows, with movies like Lightyear and Jurassic World: Dominion perhaps being available on their owners’ proprietary streaming services before being made available for VOD elsewhere.”

Theater owners are looking back to the future. On April 26 at CinemaCon in Las Vegas, John Fithian, CEO of the National Association of Theatre Owners, proclaimed the death of the concurrent theatrical/streaming video movie-release business model. He cited piracy as the leading cause of demise for a distribution strategy born in part by the pandemic. “When a pristine copy of a movie makes its way online and spreads, it has a very damaging impact on our industry,” Fithian told conference attendees, adding that upwards of 20% of the box office revenue could be lost to piracy. While digital piracy is a concern, it is not new or the primary driving factor for studios’ changing theatrical release strategy. Profits are.

“It’s an evolving landscape, and fortunately, the studios are all into maximizing profits,” Pachter says.

In looking at the top box office releases of 2021 and the first half of 2022, window patterns are starting to take shape. Studios with their own streaming services are favoring them with top hits, but others without a streaming outlet are playing the field and letting their biggest titles maximize profits theatrically and in the transactional home entertainment windows. Premium digital sales and rentals have an evolving place in the window succession, but it’s not for every studio or title. Disc release windows are all over the place, from less than 50 to well over 100 days after theatrical release.

“Studios continue to experiment with different ‘flavors’ of windowing, trying to find that optimal balance between theatrical, transactional, pay and downstream windows — as well as first-party service subscription goals, if they have their own streaming service,” Cameron Douglas, VP of home entertainment at Fandango, home to the transactional service Vudu, told Media Play News in February. “We think that experimentation will continue well into next year.”

Indeed, each studio has taken a different tack over the past two years, depending on its overall company aims.

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The Walt Disney Co.

Disney CEO Bob Chapek has continued to straddle the distribution fence, saying the media giant would pursue distribution channels dependent upon each movie’s market potential, among other factors. But as Disney+ took off, the streaming service got the lion’s share of studio attention.

Disney’s first major broken theatrical window occurred with the live-action Mulan, which was offered Sept. 4, 2020 — at the height of the pandemic, with theaters still shuttered — to Disney+ subscribers for an additional $29.99 in an offer called Premier Access. The release scheme became part of a three-pronged strategy in 2021 that consisted of theatrical-level titles released directly to Disney+, and a hybrid of concurrent theatrical release and Premier Access release (just to Disney streamers) for Raya and the Last Dragon, Cruella, Jungle Cruise and Black Widow.

Speaking last August on the company’s quarterly earnings call, Chapek said the alternative release strategy was prompted by the unprecedented impact of the pandemic on the traditional theatrical window.

“We needed to find alternatives to provide movies to consumers while theaters were closed,” Chapek said at the time, adding that once theaters began to re-open, moviegoers remained home, reluctant to return without a vaccination and other assurances.

“One of the things we learned is flexibility is good because there’s two dynamics going on: One is people’s willingness to return to theaters, and theaters’ ability to return in a meaningful way,” he said. “And then the second is the change in consumer behavior that’s happening naturally, with COVID probably acting as a bit of a catalyst, but was going to happen anyway.”

Disney returned to the movie theater last summer with exclusive (and curtailed) 45-day windows for 20th Century Studios’ Free Guy and Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. The films marked Disney’s first exclusive theatrical releases since the Aug. 26, 2020, release of The New Mutants.

“We’re trying to offer consumers more choice as they gain confidence in how they want to go ahead and return to theaters,” Chapek said.

Of the dual Premier Access/theatrical strategy, he said, “We realized we had to sort of ‘prime the pump’ and give theatrical exhibition a chance, but we couldn’t put all our eggs in the exhibition basket because we knew that in the weeks leading up to the decision, the domestic market was not coming back and [remained] fairly weak.”

The June 17, 2021, release of Pixar Animation’s Luca directly to Disney+ (sans the $29.99 purchase fee for Black Widow and others) surprised some observers. Chapek said that decision was driven by the need to keep Disney’s evolving distribution channels stocked. The Pixar title’s debut was an indication of the importance of the growing Disney+ streaming service to the company.

“We’ve increased our investment in creative content to ensure that all channels have a full complement of offerings to sort of keep everybody happy,” he said. “We want to make sure, given the importance of Disney+ in the marketplace and to our shareholders, that we keep feeding that machine.”

As theatrical distribution returned, the 2021 Marvel titles Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Eternals rushed to streaming 70 days and 68 days, respectively, after theatrical release, concurrent with their release on transactional platforms for digital sellthrough. The animated musical Encanto (which later won an Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film) was released on Disney+ on Christmas Eve 2021, just 30 days after its theatrical release, again concurrent with release for digital purchase.

“We do not subscribe to the belief that theatrical distribution is the only way to build a Disney franchise,” Chapek said in February on another earnings call, citing Disney’s success with Encanto.

“This quarter audiences proved us right as Encanto became a phenomenon within days of its arrival on Disney+, after families’ continued reluctance to return to theaters resulted in a muted theatrical performance,” he said.

Chapek said Encanto became the fastest title on Disney+ to reach 200 million hours streamed.

In June, Chapek, speaking on another fiscal call, said the studio had been able to successfully release its theatrical slate, showing a return to a theatrical window. Still, the supremacy of Disney+ in the content pipeline remains.

Indeed, Disney continued to rush titles to streaming in 2022, with Marvel’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness hitting Disney+ 47 days after its theatrical release (again concurrent with digital sellthrough). Even 2022’s Death on the Nile, a 20th Century Studios title that Disney+ had to share for streaming with Warner’s HBO Max due to a deal that preexisted Disney’s acquisition of Fox’s studio assets, streamed 46 days after its theatrical release. (Free Guy, another 20th Century title released theatrically in 2021 under the same streaming agreement, had a whopping 194-day window, perhaps showing Disney’s strategy to slow-walk giving HBO Max such a big title.)

As for the disc window, physical media took a back seat on major Disney titles throughout 2021 and the first half of 2022 as the studio concentrated on boosting its streaming service. The shortest disc window (60 days) was for Free Guy, again a title not exclusive to Disney+ for streaming. Marvel’s Black Widow had a 67-day disc window, but that was also 67 days after its Premier Access debut on Disney+. Premier Access releases Cruella and Jungle Cruise logged whopping 116-day and 109-day disc windows, respectively — well after their availability on both streaming and digital sellthrough. Once theatrical windows opened in fall of 2021, disc windows consistently lagged behind streaming, which — concurrent with digital transactional sale — was the first home entertainment stop. Disc windows ranged from 76 days for the family friendly (and collectible) Encanto to a whopping 102 for Marvel’s Eternals.

Paramount Pictures

As the pandemic took off in 2020, Paramount — at the time without a branded streaming outlet — rushed its hit Sonic the Hedgehog to digital purchase on March 31, shortening the theatrical window. But the strategy changed as that studio’s parent company, too, got into streaming. Late to the studio-branded streaming game, Paramount sent its top titles to boost Paramount+, which launched on March 4, 2021.

Less than two months earlier, in January, Paramount had announced its summer theatrical release, the animated The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, would premiere on Paramount+ on launch day. It debuted the same day on PVOD as a $19.99 rental.

During a Feb. 24, 2021, Paramount+ media presentation, Paramount disclosed that the platform would stream first-run Paramount Pictures theatrical releases as early as 30 days after their box office debuts.
Speaking March 2, 2021, at a Wall Street analyst event, CEO Bob Bakish said he supported making movies available on the Paramount+ streaming service 30 to 45 days after their box office debut — beginning with A Quiet Place Part II.

“I believe that is a sustainable offering,” Bakish said at the event, alluding to exhibitor concerns an abbreviated theatrical window would undermine the industry. “Some of these other film moves that have been made, it’s not clear that they’re sustainable.”

Bakish said industry data suggested most movies’ box office withers after 30 days, if not sooner.

“This move puts the titles in the theaters so people that want to get a big-screen experience can do that. Moving 45 days later to an in-house streaming service works for constituents and certainly for us,” he said. “We believe it’s the right model for the future, and as we implement it, the facts will prove that out.”

Paramount Pictures’ August 2021 theatrical release Paw Patrol: The Movie was the studio’s first concurrent box office/Paramount+ streaming debut — a strategy the studio plans to employ going forward on family movies. The film subsequently was made available for digital purchase (Sept. 21) and on DVD and Blu-ray Disc (Nov. 2).

Speaking Sept. 22, 2021, at a Goldman Sachs conference, Bakish said while Paramount would stick to a shortened 45-day exclusive window for major releases such as A Quiet Place Part II, Top Gun: Maverick and the upcoming Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning, family films were another matter. The executive said the simultaneous release of Paw Patrol: The Movie on Paramount+ made the movie the most-watched original title on the platform and helped drive box office.

“The combined release strategy drove incremental performance,” Bakish said. “We think that’s actually a good [distribution] model for kids and family films, particularly in these COVID times. It gives consumers optionality, where they feel most comfortable. We did a bunch of research on that.”

Also at the September event, Bakish said the studio planned to release Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin exclusively on Paramount+. “We think exclusive availability, particularly at lower-budget-level movies, is a compelling value creation opportunity for streaming,” Bakish.

Windows for streaming on Paramount+ and available for transactional digital purchase ranged between 45 days and 54 days for Paramount’s top titles in 2021 and the first half of 2022 — though it remains to be seen what the studio will do with mega-hit Top Gun: Maverick. Paramount disc windows for its top releases during the period ranged from 60 days for 2021’s A Quiet Place Part II to 123 days for more recent hits Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and The Lost City.

“Windowing strategies continue to shift and vary greatly between studios due in large part to distinct corporate priorities and objectives, particularly with regard to proprietary streaming services,” says Bob Buchi, Paramount’s president of worldwide home entertainment. “We are absolutely thrilled and encouraged by the return to theaters and will continue to experiment around the world as we all work to refine our content distribution strategies that deliver for both consumers and our individual businesses.”

Sony Pictures

Josh Greenstein, president of the Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group, has said theatrical remains at the core of the studio’s distribution strategy.

“Streaming is additive to our business; it’s not our core business,” Greenstein said in a media interview. “We participate in the streaming economy strategically with certain films. We’ve licensed some films to streamers during COVID, but our long-term big business model will always be driven by theatrical.”

With no proprietary streaming service, Sony in 2021 inked separate exclusive pacts with Netflix and Disney+ for distribution of its theatrical titles, beginning in 2022. It was a shrewd move by Netflix, considering Sony, at the time, had shelved all of its major theatrical releases due to the pandemic. The agreement, which replaced Sony’s output arrangement with Lionsgate-owned Starz, provides Netflix with an 18-month exclusive window for all Sony movies. Thereafter, Disney+ will have access to the movies.

The Pay 1 distribution deal does not apply to recent Sony hits Spider-Man: No Way Home, Venom: Let There Be Carnage and Ghostbusters: Afterlife, which all streamed on Starz long after their theatrical, digital transactional and disc release.

The streaming pact with Netflix includes Morbius, as well as expected 2022 theatrical follow-ups for the “Jumanji” and “Bad Boys” franchises. Netflix is also licensing rights to select titles from SPE’s movie library.

“Netflix has been a terrific partner as we continue to expand our relationship,” Keith Le Goy, president of worldwide distribution and networks for Sony Pictures Entertainment, said in April 2021. “This exciting agreement further demonstrates the importance of that content to our distribution partners as they grow their audiences and deliver the very best in entertainment.”

Without a branded streaming service to boost with theatrical hits, Sony’s top pictures in 2021 and the first half of 2022 came out first for digital sellthrough followed by disc release, an established pattern pre-pandemic. Digital windows ranged from 46 days to 88 days (for mega-hit Spider-Man: No Way Home). Disc windows ranged from 74 days to 116 days (again, for Spider-Man: No Way Home).

Universal Pictures

Long before the pandemic hit, Universal Pictures had been interested in shaking up windows. Nearly a decade ago, in 2011, the studio tried to jumpstart PVOD by offering actioner Tower Heist early in the home for $59.99. The strategy was quickly shelved when theaters threatened to boycott the movie. With the pandemic making theatrical distribution untenable, Universal made a less-expensive move to PVOD at the lower price of $19.99. On March 16, 2020, the studio announced it would release its current theatrical slate into home entertainment distribution channels via PVOD. Movies included The Invisible Man, The Hunt and Emma., among others. At the same time, Universal announced plans to release the much-anticipated DreamWorks Animation sequel Trolls World Tour through PVOD on the same day as its scheduled theatrical release, April 10, 2020.

Speaking on an April 2020 earnings call, NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said PVOD would continue as a “complementary offer” to consumers when theaters re-open to the public, doubling down on his previous comments to The Wall Street Journal after Trolls World Tour generated $100 million in PVOD sales.

“The majority of our movies, whether we like it or not, are being consumed at home,” Shell said. “It’s not realistic to assume that we’re not going to change, that this part of the business isn’t going to change like all parts of the business are going to change.”

Exhibitors squawked and Universal offered them a deal for shortened theatrical windows in exchange for a share of revenue from PVOD. Generally, if a title earns less than $50 million at the box office, Universal can offer it into homes with a 17-day PVOD window. If the box office exceeds $50 million, the theatrical window is extended to 31 days.

PVOD windows for top movies in the past year-and-a-half have ranged from 16 days for Sing 2 to a still short 35 days for megahit F9: The Fast Saga.
With the launch of NBCUniversal’s own streaming service in July 2020, however, Universal films had another avenue to the consumer.

Some top Universal titles were subject to other deals that prevented them from going to Peacock. Sing 2, from Illumination, inked a streaming deal with Netflix, which followed other home entertainment windows, including disc. Universal’s megahit of 2021, F9: The Fast Saga, came under a Universal deal that allowed HBO to get the studio’s movies nine months after theatrical release. That deal ended in 2021, but it resulted in F9 streaming on HBO Max a whopping 252 days after its theatrical release.

Universal’s unencumbered films were used during the pandemic’s height to boost the newly minted Peacock streaming service. Going straight to the service concurrent with its Oct. 15, 2021, theatrical release was Halloween Kills, the much-anticipated latest installment in the famous “Halloween” horror franchise.

Speaking that month on parent company Comcast’s quarterly earnings call, Shell said the decision to offer $9.99 monthly Peacock subscribers early access to Halloween Kills paid off.

“We added a few million more subscribers,” Shell said.

The horror film, which opened at No. 1 with a debut weekend gross of $49.4 million, was the second movie after The Boss Baby: Family Business on July 1 to have a concurrent streaming bow. The latter also topped its opening weekend box office with $16 million in ticket sales.

Shell said the results showed streaming and box office can co-exist without cannibalizing revenue streams.

“We’ve seen across all streaming platforms that movies move the dial,” Shell said. “It shows that you can play in two different markets.”

Marry Me, the romantic comedy pairing Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson, also bowed concurrently in theaters and on Peacock on Feb. 11, 2022. Other big titles in 2022 got a window — albeit short. The Michael Bay actioner Ambulance hit Peacock 45 days after its theatrical release on April 8, 2022.
Universal movies now go to Peacock in a new Pay 1 deal. Specifically, Peacock has exclusive access for the first four months and last four months of the 18-month Pay 1 window. Select third-party streamers and/or the streaming service have access to the movies during the middle 10-month period.

“Since launching Peacock just one year ago, we have seen incredible viewership of movies and continue to expand our catalog with a range of films for every fan and occasion,” Matt Strauss, chairman of direct-to-consumer and international at NBCUniversal, said in a July 2021 statement.
More recently, on June 14, 2022, at the virtual Credit Suisse Entertainment confab, Shell seemed sold on movies’ quick move to Peacock.

“I’m very excited about the movie part of Peacock,” he said, adding, “I think in the next three, four, five quarters, you’re going to see a real impact on movies going in their first window on Peacock, along with some selected kind of originals. So movies [are] a key part of the strategy.”

He also reiterated support for PVOD.

“For us, as a company, what I’m particularly proud of is the PVOD window, the premium video-on-demand window, which kicks in for us at day 17,” he said. “And we’re doing that in partnership with the distributor, the exhibitors, right? So, the more screens you put us on in the theatrical release, the bigger share you get of the digital window, which I think is a great model for us. And what we’ve seen is a significant increase in how much money we’re making in the home entertainment window really driven by that premium video-on-demand window, $19.99 or $24.99 at home from day 17 to when we go to Peacock.”

Warner Bros.

Like other studios with company-owned streaming services, Warner Bros.’ top theatrical films were used to boost its corporate sister, HBO Max, during the pandemic as theatrical distribution dried up.

WarnerMedia (now Warner Bros. Discovery) made headlines during the pandemic with its strategy of releasing the entire 2021 Warner Bros. theatrical slate concurrently on HBO Max for a movie’s first 31 days of release. The strategy kicked off in 2020 with the Christmas Day release of the highly anticipated Wonder Woman 1984. The simultaneous release strategy continued with such big titles as Godzilla vs. Kong, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, Space Jam: A New Legacy and Dune: Part One.

Former CEO Jason Kilar, speaking on the company’s July 2021 earnings call, said of the controversial move, “We feel very good about the response that consumers have given it in the home.”

Afterwards, Andy Forssell, tapped last year by Kilar to be EVP and GM of Max, said Warner’s singular streaming strategy would be tweaked in 2022. Still, the days of the traditional theatrical window were not likely returning.

“You’re going to see in 2022 a lot of experimentation that’s going to be far more wide-ranging than it would have been without COVID,” Forssell said.

The executive said studios would apply a mixture of PVOD/SVOD and theatrical distribution depending on the movie, current events and market conditions.

“We’ll see experimentation across the board,” Forssell said. “You’ll see everybody trying almost all [distribution] models next year.”

He did, however, note that the strategy of rushing top films to streaming had benefited the audience for HBO Max and the films. He said the simultaneous release of Wonder Woman: 1984 on Max saw two-thirds of the movie’s streaming audience also watch the entire first season of original series “The Flight Attendant,” starring Kaley Cuoco, intimating that it helped boost other streaming content. He also said that the streaming audience for the second Warner movie release on Max, The Little Things, attracted a wider audience via Max than it would have strictly through theatrical.

“In other words, The Little Things really enjoyed the benefit of a huge wave of audience,” he said.

Premium digital viewership, too, became a part of Warner’s strategy as the pandemic closed theaters. The studio on May 15, 2020, dipped its toes into the marketplace, releasing Scoob! directly into homes for $19.99 for a 48-hour rental, or $24.99 for digital purchase. The studio has since released top titles for premium digital ownership and rental. It, like Universal, inked deals with cineplex companies for shorter theatrical windows (for Warner, as few as 45 days). That 45-day window took shape with top titles Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore and The Batman, which hit HBO Max and premium digital at the 45-day mark.

In April 2022, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav, speaking on a Discovery fiscal call, eschewed killing the theatrical window.

“The data is starting to show, ‘No way,’” Zaslav said. “When you open a movie in theaters, it has a whole stream of monetization. More importantly, it’s marketed. It builds a brand so when it does go to a streaming service there’s a view that [the title] has a higher quality that benefits the streaming service.”

He cited the multi-window success of Warner’s biggest box office release in 2022 thus far, The Batman, which bowed March 1 in theaters, generating $700 million in ticket sales.

The Batman did extremely well in generating viewership and interest even though it was in movie theaters first,” Zaslav said. “It’s a great sign for the motion picture business.”

As far as the final stop in the content pipeline, disc windows for Warner’s top movies ranged from 74 days for the recent title Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore to 95 days for Wonder Woman 1984, its first streaming experiment back in 2020.

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An Ongoing, Inevitable Experiment

While the pandemic accelerated window breaking, the upheaval of the home entertainment business model was already in process before COVID-19.

“I was very frustrated back in 2019 — I really felt that the business was anti-consumer and leaving a lot of money on the table for people like us that made great movies with the way movies were distributed,” Universal’s Shell said last June. “I love what’s happened over the last couple of years. I think the whole business has reached a new water level, really driven by two things. Number one, the streamers realizing that movies drive platforms. I mean, we saw this at HBO Max and other places. But movies drive platforms and I think it’s not just a U.S. phenomenon, but around the world. We’re having a robust licensing business for our movie content, which is making the whole business more profitable.

“And then the second thing is how the windows have kind of evolved rapidly. It took a little bit to do that. But we got to a different place. And what’s happened is consumers can watch movies in the home much sooner than they could pre-pandemic.”

He noted that Disney is moving top titles, such as Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, to streaming quickly, like Universal and others.

“I think the whole model is better now,” he said. “I don’t think it’s settled into a particular calcified model. I suspect that someday it will settle. It will be more bespoke by studio and by movie, where older adult movies — which will all have a harder time getting box office — might go sooner on the platforms and big family movies that have this PVOD potential may wait a while to get on the streaming platform.

“I think it’s going to kind of ebb and flow a lot over the next kind of couple of years until we find the right economic equation, and that could be different by each market, by the way.”

Indeed, predictably arranged windows look to be a thing of the past.

“What we’ve clearly learned is that there is no one-size-fits-all distribution model; the new entertainment landscape calls for multiple windowing strategies, and the good news is that multiple platforms can not only coexist but thrive,” sums up Paramount’s Buchi.

Additional reporting by John Latchem and Erik Gruenwedel

Post-Theatrical Windows, Select Titles 2020-22

Title Studio Theatrical Release Date Streaming Service PVOD Window (Days) Streaming Window (Days) Digital Sellthrough Window (Days) Disc Window (Days)
Wonder Woman 1984 Warner December 25, 2020 HBO Max 49 0 81 95
Godzilla vs. Kong Warner March 31, 2021 HBO Max 51 0 51 76
A Quiet Place Part II Paramount May 28, 2021 Paramount+ 45 46 60
Cruella Disney May 28, 2021 Disney+ 0 91 28 116
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It Warner June 4, 2021 HBO Max 49 0 49 81
F9: The Fast Saga Universal June 25, 2021 HBO Max 35 252 74 88
Black Widow Disney July 9, 2021 Disney+ 0 89 32 67
Space Jam: A New Legacy Warner July 16, 2021 HBO Max 49 0 49 81
Jungle Cruise Disney July 30, 2021 Disney+ 0 105 32 109
Free Guy Disney/20th Century August 13, 2021 Disney+ & HBO Max 194 46 60
Candyman (2021) Universal/MGM August 27, 2021 Amazon Prime Video 21 287 67 81
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Disney September 3, 2021 Disney+ 70 70 88
Venom: Let There Be Carnage Sony Pictures October 1, 2021 Starz 203 53 74
No Time to Die MGM/Universal October 8, 2021 Amazon Prime Video 32 245 60 74
Halloween Kills Universal October 15, 2021 Peacock 20 0 60 88
Dune Part One Warner October 22, 2021 HBO Max 0 42 81
Eternals Disney November 5, 2021 Disney+ 68 68 102
Ghostbusters: Afterlife Sony Pictures November 19, 2021 Starz 178 46 74
Encanto Disney November 24, 2021 Disney+ 30 30 76
Spider-Man: No Way Home Sony Pictures December 17, 2021 Starz 210 88 116
Sing 2 Universal December 22, 2021 Netflix 16 182 69 97
Scream (2022) Paramount January 14, 2022 Paramount+ 54 46 81
Jackass Forever Paramount February 4, 2022 Paramount+ 46 53 74
Death on the Nile Disney/20th Century February 11, 2022 Hulu & HBO Max 46 46 53
Marry Me Universal February 11, 2022 Peacock 0 30 46
Uncharted Sony Pictures February 18, 2022 Netflix 147 67 81
The Batman Warner March 4, 2022 HBO Max 45 45 81
The Lost City Paramount March 25, 2022 Paramount+ 46 46 123
Morbius Sony Pictures April 1, 2022 Netflix TBD 46 74
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Paramount April 8, 2022 Paramount+ 46 46 123
Ambulance Universal April 8, 2022 Peacock 21 45 45 67
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore Warner April 15, 2022 HBO Max 45 45 45 74
The Bad Guys Universal April 22, 2022 Peacock 70 20 60
The Northman Universal April 22, 2022 Peacock 21 42 45 46
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Disney May 6, 2022 Disney+ 47 47 81
Downton Abbey: A New Era Universal May 20, 2022 Peacock 21 35 35 46

‘Jurassic World: Dominion,’ ‘Memory’ Top Redbox Charts

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment’s Jurassic World: Dominion debuted at No. 1 on the Redbox On Demand chart the week ended July 17. The sixth entry in the cloned dinosaurs running wild “Jurassic” franchise was released for digital sellthrough and VOD July 15.

Universal Pictures’s Memory for the second consecutive week topped the Redbox disc rental chart, which tracks DVD and Blu-ray Disc rentals at Redbox’s thousands of red kiosks. It dropped two spots to No. 4 on the Redbox On Demand chart, which tracks digital VOD and sellthrough transactions. Memory stars Liam Neeson as an expert assassin caught in a moral quagmire.

The previous week’s top digital title, Vertical Entertainment’s action-thriller Last Seen Alive, dropped to No. 2 on that chart, and remained No. 2 on the Redbox disc rental chart. The film stars Gerard Butler as a man searching for his estranged wife after she mysteriously disappears during a stop at a gas station. It is available on disc exclusively from Redbox until its wide release Aug. 9.

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment’s The Bad Guys held the No. 3 spot on the Redbox disc rental chart. The film from DreamWorks Animation is based on the Scholastic children’s graphic novels of the same name, and follows five villainous friends who set out to fool the world into believing they’ve gone good.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s comic book adaptation Morbius remained No. 4 on the Redbox disc rental chart and dropped three spots to No. 6 on the Redbox On Demand chart.

Rounding out the top five disc rentals for a second week was Warner’s Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, the third installment of the “Harry Potter” prequel series, and the 11th “Wizarding World” entry. It was No. 7 on the digital chart.

The top six disc rentals remained unchanged from the previous week, with Sony Pictures’ Father Stu holding firm at No. 6. It was No. 10 on the digital chart. The drama stars Mark Wahlberg as a former boxer who decides to become a priest following a life-altering accident.

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No. 3 on the Redbox On Demand chart was Universal’s The Black Phone, a thriller about a kidnapped teenager who finds a mysterious telephone that allows him to talk to previous victims of his captor, played by Ethan Hawke.

No. 5 on the Redbox On Demand chart was Paramount’s The Lost City. The romantic adventure comedy stars Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum and Daniel Radcliffe.

Top DVD and Blu-ray Disc Rentals, Redbox Kiosks, Week Ended July 17:

  1. Memory — Universal
  2. Last Seen Alive — Redbox
  3. The Bad Guys — Universal
  4. Morbius — Sony Pictures
  5. Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore — Warner
  6. Father Stu — Sony Pictures
  7. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent — Lionsgate
  8. Uncharted — Sony Pictures
  9. Everything Everywhere All at Once — Lionsgate
  10. Dog — Warner/MGM

 

Top Digital (VOD + Sellthrough), Redbox On Demand, Week Ended July 17:

  1. Jurassic World: Dominion — Universal
  2. Last Seen Alive — Redbox
  3. The Black Phone — Universal
  4. Memory — Universal
  5. The Lost City — Paramount
  6. Morbius — Sony Pictures
  7. Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore — Warner
  8. Everything Everywhere All at Once — Lionsgate
  9. Uncharted — Sony Pictures
  10. Father Stu — Sony Pictures

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‘The Bad Guys’ Headed to Digital, 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD June 21

DreamWorks Animation’s The Bad Guys will be released for digital purchase and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD June 21 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. 

Based on the Scholastic children’s graphic novels, the film follows five infamous friends — Mr. Wolf, Mr. Snake, Mr. Piranha, Mr. Shark and Ms. Tarantula. After years of countless heists and being the world’s most-wanted villains, the gang is finally caught. Mr. Wolf brokers a deal to keep them out of prison and the Bad Guys set out to fool the world into believing they’ve gone good.

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The voice cast includes Academy Award winner Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Marc Maron (“Glow”), Craig Robinson (“Hot Tub Time Machine” franchise), Anthony Ramos (In the Heights), and Awkwafina (Crazy Rich Asians) as the bad guys, alongside co-stars Zazie Beetz (Joker), Lily Singh (Bad Moms), Emmy winner Alex Borstein (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”), and Richard Ayoade (Paddington 2).

The Bad Guys  collector’s edition extras include a new original short, deleted scenes, interviews with cast and crew, Mr. Snake’s frozen pops recipes, character drawing tutorials, feature commentary with filmmakers, and more.

‘Firestarter’ Due on Digital June 12, Disc June 28

The newest film adaptation of the classic Stephen King thriller Firestarter will arrive on digital June 12 and on Blu-ray and DVD June 28 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The Blumhouse suspense thriller follows a girl with extraordinary pyrokinetic powers. Protected by her parents (Zac Efron and Sydney Lemmon), Charlie (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) has lived her childhood on the run and has kept her extraordinary powers in check. But now that she’s turning 11, the flames are harder to control, and sinister forces are seeking to capture her. Charlie must learn to embrace the fire from within and fight to control it in order to protect her family and freedom.

The release features a never-before-seen alternate ending and exclusive bonus content which includes deleted and extended scenes, a gag reel, and a feature commentary with the director.

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Viking Saga ‘The Northman’ Headed to Digital June 6, Disc June 7

The Viking saga The Northman will be available on digital with exclusive bonus content June 6, and on 4K Ultra HD Collector’s Edition, Blu-ray Collector’s Edition and DVD June 7 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

From director Robert Eggers (The Witch, The Lighthouse), the film stars Alexander Skarsgård, Nicole Kidman, Ethan Hawke, Anya Taylor-Joy, Willem Dafoe, Claes Bang and Björk.

In the film, after witnessing first-hand the murder of his father, a Viking prince (Skarsgård) devotes his life to avenge his father’s death, save his mother and reclaim his kingdom.

Bonus features include nine deleted and extended scenes and behind-the-scenes featurettes.

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May 17 New Releases Include ‘Licorice Pizza,’ ‘Infinite’ on Disc, ‘Morbius’ on Digital

Titles new to DVD and Blu-ray Disc May 17 include Licorice Pizza and Infinite, while Morbius becomes available through digital retailers.

MGM’s Oscar-nominated Licorice Pizza will be released on Blu-ray Disc and DVD May 17 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. From multi-Oscar nominated director, writer, producer and cinematographer Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Phantom Thread), the film was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Picture. It stars Alana Haim, Cooper Hoffman, Sean Penn, Tom Waits, Bradley Cooper and Benny Safdie. It’s the story of Alana Kane (Haim) and Gary Valentine (Hoffman) growing up, running around and falling in love in the San Fernando Valley in 1973. 

The sci-fi actioner Infinite will arrive for digital purchase April 12 and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD May 17 from Paramount Home Entertainment. Starring Mark Wahlberg and Chiwetel Ejiofor and directed by Antoine Fuqua, the film is based on the book The Reincarnationist Papers by D. Eric Maikranz. The film follows characters who must use memories and skills from past lives to protect the future of humanity in a race against time in the fight between good and evil. Wahlberg plays Evan McCauley, who is haunted by skills he has never learned and memories of places he has never visited. As he is self-medicated and on the brink of a mental breakdown, a secret group that call themselves “Infinites” comes to his rescue, revealing to him that his memories are real — but they are from multiple past lives. The Infinites bring Evan into their extraordinary world, where a gifted few are given the ability to be reborn with their memories and knowledge accumulated over centuries. With critical secrets buried in his past, Evan must work with the Infinites to unlock the answers in his memories in a race against time to save humanity from one of their own (Ejiofor) who seeks to destroy it. The film also stars Sophie Cookson, Jason Mantzoukas, Rupert Friend, Liz Carr, Toby Jones and Dylan O’Brien.

The third season of “Succession” will be released on DVD and digital May 17 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. Season three of “Succession,” the HBO original series that follows the saga of a powerful media family, includes all nine episodes. The drama series tracks the lives of a wealthy patriarch and his four grown children who control one of the biggest media and entertainment conglomerates in the world.”Succession” explores themes of power and family dynamics through the eyes of patriarch Logan Roy (Brian Cox) and his children Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Siobhan (Sarah Snook), Roman (Kieran Culkin) and Connor (Alan Ruck). The series’ second season won a total of seven Emmys, including Outstanding Drama Series. Season three finds Logan in a perilous position, scrambling to secure familial, political, and financial alliances after he was ambushed by his rebellious son Kendall. After Kendall’s impulsive decision to expose the company’s sprawling scandal, the family is left to each contemplate their own future. Tensions rise as a bitter corporate battle threatens to turn into a family civil war, with the Roy family navigating the looming questions of who will take over in a post-Logan world.

The Marvel Comics-based action film Morbius will be released for digital purchase May 17 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. In the film, Oscar winner Jared Leto plays the enigmatic antihero Michael Morbius, who is dangerously ill with a rare blood disorder. Determined to save others suffering his same fate, Dr. Morbius attempts a desperate gamble. While at first it seems to be a radical success, a darkness inside him is unleashed. It arrives on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD June 14.

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Season one of the History series “Great Escapes With Morgan Freeman” arrives May 17 on DVD from Lionsgate. Hosted and narrated by Morgan Freeman, the series takes a deep dive into the inner workings of some of the most notorious prison escapes in history throughout the world. The eight-part docuseries explores prison escapes from Alcatraz and Rikers Island to Germany’s Stalag Luft III and HM Prison Maze in Belfast. Featuring recreations and cutting-edge visual effects, along with interviews with some of the prisoners themselves, their families, their cell mates and guards who were there, “Great Escapes with Morgan Freeman” uncovers every step of the most intricate and daring escapes — by convicted criminals, POWs and political prisoners — and the exhaustive manhunts that ensued.

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The Western The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance will arrive May 17 for the first time ever on 4K Ultra HD with high dynamic range (HDR) as part of the Paramount Presents line from Paramount Home Entertainment. Four-time Academy Award-winning director John Ford brought together an all-star cast for what is considered by many critics to be a quintessential — and yet pioneering — Western late in his storied career. Starring James Stewart and John Wayne (together for the first time), alongside Vera Miles, Lee Marvin, John Carradine and Lee Van Cleef, the film tells the story of a senator (Stewart), his old friend (Wayne), and a despicable outlaw called Liberty Valance (Marvin). Adapted from a short story by Dorothy M. Johnson, the screenplay by James Warner Bellah and Willis Goldbeck gave us the often-quoted line “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

The Eddie Murphy action-comedy Beverly Hills Cop II will be released on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray May 17 from Paramount Home Entertainment for its 35th anniversary. Directed by Tony Scott, who followed up Top Gun with this sequel, Beverly Hills Cop II was originally released on May 20, 1987. Produced by Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, it was a box office success, earning more than $153 million domestically and becoming the No. 1 film of 1987. The movie also earned Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for Best Original Song for “Shakedown.” In the film, Axel Foley (Murphy) is back where he doesn’t belong, this time going “deep, deep, deep undercover” to stop a gang of international munitions smugglers. Also returning are Judge Reinhold and John Ashton as Murphy’s crime-busting sidekicks. The release includes Dolby Vision and HDR-10 and Dolby 5.1 DTS Master Audio.

Vestron Video’s 1987 action Western Extreme Prejudice, starring Nick Nolte, is being released on Blu-ray Disc May 17 from Lionsgate. In addition to Nolte, the film, directed by Walter Hill (The Warriors, 48 Hrs.) with a story co-written by Academy Award nominee John Milius (1979, Best Writing/Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, Apocalypse Now), also stars Powers Boothe, Maria Conchita Alonso (The Running Man, Predator 2, Spread), Michael Ironside (Starship Troopers, Total Recall, Top Gun) and Rip Torn. The gritty, modern Western follows Texas Ranger Jack Benteen (Nolte) who locks horns with a former friend, Cash Bailey (Boothe), now a ruthless drug kingpin. Though they’re on opposite sides of the law, they share a love interest in the sensual Sarita (Alonso). When a crew of rogue soldiers descends upon the border town for an off-the-books mission, all roads lead to a bloody, to-the-death showdown, as loyalties shift and the lines between good and evil are blurred. 

Kino Lorber May 17 releases the 1970 revenge thriller Violent City, starring Charles Bronson, Telly Savalas and Jill Ireland. The film, which predates his iconic “Death Wish” franchise, finds Bronson playing a former hitman framed by his ex-boss and left for dead. He tracks the shooter and his beautiful mistress (Ireland) to New Orleans. But when he takes both revenge and the woman, he finds himself blackmailed by a powerful crime boss (Savalas) who wants the fiercely independent gunman to join his organization. He refuses, and finds himself the target of another hit.  The two-disc set includes both the original Violent City — in a 2K restoration in English and Italian with optional English subtitles — and the 1973 U.S. cut, The Family.

Belle, the critically hailed anime film from Academy Award-nominated director Mamoru Hosoda, is available as a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack May 17 from GKIDS and Shout! Factory. A heartfelt story of growing up in the era of social media, Belle also will be available in a Steelbook edition exclusive to Target.

The foreign coming-of-age drama The Fashion Lover will be released through digital retailers May 17 from Ariztical Entertainment. In the Italian film, young Sardinian shepherd boy Giovannino dreams of becoming a fashion designer. Unfortunately, his small rural town is a long way from the bright lights. With his cheating father out of the picture, Giovanni must reckon with an angry mom. But two friends, a fashion teacher with connections and a buddy who’ll do anything for him, give Giovanni hope. Directed by Marco Pollini, the film stars Pino Ammendola, Frencesco Desogus, Mariandrea Cesari, Valentina Sulas and Davide Garau.

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

Comedy ‘Doula’ Available for Digital Purchase and Rental June 20

The comedy Doula will be available for digital rental or purchase June 20 from Universal Pictures.

Troian Bellisario (“Pretty Little Liars”) stars in the film about a pregnant couple who reluctantly hires a male doula.

After dating for a matter of months, thirtysomethings Deb (Bellisario) and Silvio (Arron Shiver) are expecting their first child. When their elderly midwife Penka passes away suddenly, Silvio makes the hasty decision to hire Penka’s son, Sascha (Will Greenberg), as their live-in doula. Deb is nonplussed, as Silvio didn’t consult her before hiring, but before long, Sascha’s unconventional style wins her over. As Deb and Sascha grow closer, and the pregnancy nears its inevitable conclusion, Silvio starts to feel like the odd man out. His continued efforts to exert control over the pregnancy lead to a blow-up fight in which he forces Deb to choose between him and Sascha.

Rounding out the cast is Chris Pine, who stars as Deb’s doctor, with Amanda Walsh, Ally Maki, Elyse Levesque, Alex McKenna and Robert Baker.

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Doula marks the first feature film produced by Pine and his new production company Barry Linen Motion Pictures, produced in association with Vacation Theory and Universal Pictures Content Group.

“Making Doula was a dream come true,” Pine said in a statement. “It’s written by one of our best friends, directed by one of our best friends, starring a bunch of our best friends. The film was a ton of fun to make and we hope audiences see that when they’re watching it.”

‘Jackass Forever,’ ‘Cyrano’ Headline April 19 Disc Releases; ‘The Batman,’ ‘Dog’ Now on Digital

Titles new to DVD and Blu-ray April 19 include Jackass Forever, Cyrano and The King’s Daughter, while new digital releases include The Batman, Dog and Blacklight.

Paramount Home Entertainment releases Jackass Forever on DVD and Blu-ray April 19. Actor Johnny Knoxville and the gang are back for another outrageous round of stunts and bad ideas. with new friends and loads of celebrity guest stars, the crew take pranks to ridiculous lengths where absolutely no one is safe, and all senses are frayed.

Cyrano, nominated for an Oscar for Best Achievement in Costume Design, arrives on Blu-ray and DVD April 19 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. A re-imagining of the timeless tale of a heartbreaking love triangle, the film follows Cyrano de Bergerac (Peter Dinklage), who dazzles with both ferocious wordplay and brilliant swordplay but is convinced that his appearance makes him unworthy of the love of his devoted friend Roxanne (Haley Bennett). Roxanne has fallen in love at first sight with Christian (Kelvin Harrison Jr.).

The Pierce Brosnan adventure The King’s Daughter arrives on Blu-ray and DVD April 19 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment and Gravitas Ventures. In addition to Brosnan, the film features Kaya Scodelario, Benjamin Walker, Pablo Schreiber, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Fan Bingbing, William Hurt and Julie Andrews as the narrator. In the film, King Louis XIV’s (Brosnan) quest for immortality leads him to capture a mermaid’s life force, but his immovable will is challenged when his long-hidden illegitimate daughter (Scodelario) forms a bond with the magical creature.

Based upon his 2015 Tony Award-winning play of the same name, writer-director Stephen Karam’s debut drama The Humans arrives on DVD and Blu-ray (plus digital) April 19 from Lionsgate. The story follows Erik Blake, who has gathered three generations of his Pennsylvania family to celebrate Thanksgiving at his daughter’s apartment in lower Manhattan. As darkness falls outside and eerie things start to go bump in the night, the group’s deepest fears are laid bare. The Humans explores the hidden dread of a family and the love that binds them together. The cast includes Academy Award nominee Richard Jenkins (2017, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, The Shape of Water), Tony Award winner Jayne Houdyshell (“Only Murders in the Building”), Primetime Emmy nominee Amy Schumer (2019, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, Inside Amy Schumer), Beanie Feldstein (Booksmart, “American Crime Story: Impeachment”), Academy Award nominee Steven Yeun (2020, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, Minari), and June Squibb (2013, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, Nebraska).

The thriller The Desperate Hour arrives on DVD April 19 from Vertical and Distribution Solutions. Unfolding in real time, the thriller, directed by Phillip Noyce, follows recently widowed mother Amy Carr (Naomi Watts), who is doing her best to restore normalcy to the lives of her young daughter and teenage son in their small town. As she’s on a jog in the woods, she finds her town thrown into chaos as a shooting takes place at her son’s school. Miles away, on foot in the dense forest, Amy desperately races against time to save her son.

The supernatural horror thriller The Exorcism of God arrives on Blu-ray plus digital and DVD April 19 from Lionsgate. The film follows Father Peter Williams, an American exorcist, who hides a dark secret. Possessed by a demon he was trying to expel, he committed a terrible sacrilege. To atone for this sin, Peter devotes his life to charity work in a small town in Mexico. Eighteen years later, his deeply buried secret comes to light when the demon from his past returns, possessing a girl and unleashing a deadly disease. Now Peter must choose between saving his own soul and saving the people he loves most in one final, epic battle against the evil within.

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The DC Comics-based film The Batman became available for digital purchase and for streaming on HBO Max April 18. The film is directed by Matt Reeves from a screenplay by Reeves and Peter Craig, based on characters created by DC, and stars Robert Pattinson (Tenet, The Lighthouse). In the film, more than a year of stalking the streets as the Batman (Pattinson), striking fear into the hearts of criminals, has led Bruce Wayne deep into the shadows of Gotham City. With only a few trusted allies — Alfred, Lt. James Gordon —amongst the city’s corrupt network of officials and high-profile figures, the lone vigilante has established himself as the sole embodiment of vengeance amongst his fellow citizens. When a killer targets Gotham City’s elite with a series of sadistic machinations, a trail of cryptic clues sends the masked crusader on an investigation into the underworld, where he encounters such characters as Selina Kyle, the Penguin, Carmine Falcone and the Riddler. As the evidence begins to lead closer to home and the scale of the perpetrator’s plans becomes clear, the Batman must forge new relationships, unmask the culprit, and bring justice to the abuse of power and corruption that has long plagued Gotham City. The film also stars Zoë Kravitz (TV’s “Big Little Lies,” Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald) as Selina Kyle; Paul Dano (Love & Mercy, 12 Years a Slave) as Edward Nashton, aka The Riddler; Jeffrey Wright (No Time to Die, “Westworld”) as Gordon; John Turturro (the “Transformers” films, “The Plot Against America”) as Falcone; Peter Sarsgaard (The Magnificent Seven, “Interrogation”) as Gotham D.A. Gil Colson; Jayme Lawson (“Farewell Amor”) as mayoral candidate Bella Reál; Andy Serkis (the “Planet of the Apes” films, Black Panther) as Alfred; and Colin Farrell (The Gentlemen, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) as Oz, aka The Penguin. It arrives on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD May 24.

The buddy comedy Dog will becomes available for digital purchase April 19 from MGM. The film, starring and co-directed by Channing Tatum, follows the misadventures of two former Army Rangers paired against their will on a road trip. Army Ranger Briggs (Tatum) and Lulu (a Belgian Malinois dog) buckle into a 1984 Ford Bronco and race down the Pacific Coast in hopes of making it to a fellow soldier’s funeral on time. Along the way, they drive each other crazy, break a small handful of laws, narrowly evade death, and learn to let down their guards. It arrives on Blu-ray Disc and DVD May 10 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

The Liam Neeson action thriller Blacklight will be released for digital purchase April 19. From Briarcliff Entertainment, the film follows a troubled off-the-books agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation who finds himself in the middle of a deadly conspiracy. Travis Block (Neeson), a freelance government “fixer,” is a dangerous man whose assignments have included extracting agents out of deep-cover situations. He knows his hands are dirty, but he’s aiming to change. When an agent is killed after infiltrating a group espousing violent societal upheaval, Block discovers a shadowy program called Operation Unity is striking down ordinary citizens for reasons known only to Block’s boss, FBI chief Robinson (Aidan Quinn). As Block gets closer to the truth, he enlists the help of a journalist (Emmy Raver-Lampman), but his past and present collide when his daughter and granddaughter are threatened. It arrives on Blu-ray and DVD May 3 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The 1981 animated sci-fi classic Heavy Metal heads to 4K Ultra HD April 19 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Based on the illustrated magazine of the same name, Heavy Metal is an animated fantasy in which producer Ivan Reitman enlists the help of some of Hollywood’s animation masters to create the otherworldly tale of a glowing green orb from outer space that spreads destruction throughout the galaxy. Only when encountered by its one true enemy, to whom it is inexplicably drawn, will goodness prevail throughout the universe. Richly and lavishly drawn, the vignettes of the orb’s dark victories include the character voices of John Candy and Harold Ramis and a soundtrack by Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, Cheap Trick, Devo, Donald Fagen, Don Felder, Grand Funk Railroad, Sammy Hagar, Journey, Nazareth, Stevie Nicks, Riggs and Trust.  The feature is presented in 4K resolution with Dolby Vision, reviewed and approved by Reitman and features a new 2022 Dolby Atmos soundtrack supervised by Reitman. The release also includes the 2022 mix in 5.1 and the original 1981 theatrical Dolby Stereo audio. The release is presented in a limited edition Steelbook, including the film on 4K Ultra HD disc and Blu-ray, plus the exclusive Blu-ray debut of Heavy Metal 2000.

Writer-director Drew Goddard’s 2011  horror-thriller The Cabin in the Woods arrives April 19 in a 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + digital Best Buy exclusive Steelbook from Lionsgate. Produced and written alongside Joss Whedon, The Cabin in the Woods features Kristen Connolly (The HappeningThe BayRevolutionary Road), Chris Hemsworth (The AvengersThor: RagnarokSnow White and the Huntsman), Anna Hutchison (Robert the BruceEncounterVengeance: A Love Story), Fran Kranz (MassThe VillageTraining Day), Jesse Williams (TV’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2Brooklyn’s Finest), two-time Oscar-nominated actor Richard Jenkins (2017, Best Supporting Actor, The Shape of Water; 2008, Best Actor, The Visitor) and three-time Primetime Emmy Award winner Bradley Whitford (2019, TV’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”; 2015, TV’s “Transparent”; 2001, TV’s “The West Wing”). In the film, a rambunctious group of five college friends heads to a weekend of debauchery in an isolated country cabin, only to be attacked by horrific supernatural creatures in a night of terror and bloodshed. As the teens begin to exhibit standard horror-movie behavior, a group of technicians in a control room are scrutinizing, and sometimes even controlling, every move the terrified kids make.

Kino Lorber April 19 releases its 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray edition of 1967 Best Picture Oscar winner In the Heat of the Night. The film, from director Norman Jewison, stars the late Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger, who gives an Oscar-winning performance as a sheriff from small-town Mississippi who finds himself in an uneasy alliance with a black homicide detective from Philadelphia (Poitier). In the course of investigating the crime, the two strong-willed men must reconcile their inherent prejudice toward each other. The final result is justice—and an unlikely but touching mutual respect. Other cast members include Warren Oates and Lee Grant. The film features an evocative score by Quincy Jones and vivid cinematography by Haskell Wexler. The 4K Ultra HD set includes, as a bonus, the 1970 sequel They Call Me Mr. Tibbs and 1971’s The Organization.

The exploitation classic Girl on a Chain Gang (1966) will be released on special-edition Blu-ray and DVD April 19 from Cinedigm’s The Film Detective, Something Weird Video and MVD Entertainment Group. From famed shlock distributor-producer-director Jerry Gross, who made his directorial debut with Girl on a Chain Gang, the stirring feature about small-town hate stars William Watson, Julie Ange and Ron Charles. It follows three young people who are framed, arrested and tossed into jail by corrupt Southern police. Gross — who produced everything from Blaxploitation films to features about teen pregnancy — exercised his social conscience in this drama about racist Southern cops. Made the year after three civil rights workers were murdered in Mississippi, Girl on a Chain Gang addresses a subject Gross must have believed worth exploiting into drive-in theater fare. True to his low-budget roots, the movie was filmed nowhere near the South, but in Long Island, N.Y.​

The documentary Brothers in Football will arrives for digital sale and rental April 19 from Virgil Films. The film follows a team of amateur footballers who attempt to fulfill a mission never completed on the eve of the first world war. Their ensuing adventure sees them travel around the world to face the FIFA World Champions in front of millions — to honor and commemorate their forefathers who fell in record numbers on the battlefields of France.

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The feature-length documentary Where Are You, Jay Bennett?, on the renown multi-instrumentalist and recording studio savant, has its Blu-ray Disc and pay-per-view release on April 19 from MVD Entertainment Group. Four days later on April 23, it will have a “Record Store Day” release featuring the film on DVD along with Bennett’s last two albums Kicking at the Perfumed Air and Whatever Happened I Apologize available for the first time on vinyl. As a member of Wilco, Bennett was a large part of the genius behind their three seminal albums. He joined the band prior to the recording of their second album Being There and subsequently co-wrote most of Summerteeth and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot with Jeff Tweedy (and has been called the sonic architect of both albums). Bennett was also instrumental in the recording of the Mermaid Avenue/Woody Guthrie sessions with Billy Bragg, and went on to a critically acclaimed solo career before dying tragically at the age of 45. Directors Gorman Bechard and Fred Uhter use a mixture of audio interviews with Bennett, never-before-seen performance footage, animation, and extensive interviews with those who knew him best to give an account of the artist’s life. The offers a look at the other side of the narrative that had been created in the media once Bennett had been asked to leave the band.

Studio Ghibli and GKIDS on April 19 will release limited-edition Steelbooks of  Only Yesterday and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, two animated films from Academy Award-nominated director Isao Takahata.

Only Yesterday will also be available as a Blu-ray Disc and DVD combo pack, and The Tale of The Princess Kaguya as a single DVD/two-Blu-ray Disc package. Only Yesterday follows the story of 27-year-old Taeko, who, having lived her whole life in the city, decides to visit relatives in the countryside. As she travels, memories of her youth resurface, and after meeting young farmer Toshio, she wonders if she’s been true to the dreams of her childhood. Bonus features include a making-of documentary, a behind-the-scenes featurette with the voice cast, an interview with the English dub team, feature-length storyboards, trailers and TV spots.

In The Tale of Princess Kaguya, a young girl who is found inside a shining stalk of bamboo by an old bamboo cutter and his wife grows into an exquisite young lady. The mysterious young princess who enthralls all who encounter her is forced to confront her fate and embark on a transformative journey. Bonus features include a feature-length documentary, “Isao Takahata and His Tale of the Princess Kaguya,” the official announcement of the completion of the film, trailers, and TV spots. In addition to the bonus features, the Steelbooks also include a booklet with art, as well as statements from the filmmakers.

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