Universal Q4 Home Entertainment Revenue Drops

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment Jan. 23 reported fourth-quarter (ended Dec. 31, 2019) revenue of $276 million, which was down 12.4% from revenue of $315 million in the previous-year period.

After a promising start to the fiscal year, the home entertainment studio saw fiscal declines in Q3 and Q4 to end the year with $957 million in revenue, compared with $1.05 billion in 2018.

The studio’s top DVD/Blu-ray Disc release in 2019 was DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.

Overall, it was a disappointing year for Universal Pictures. Filmed-entertainment Q4 revenue decreased 21% to $1.6 billion, primarily reflecting lower theatrical revenue.

Indeed, box office revenue plunged 59.1%, reflecting the volume and strength of releases in last year’s fourth quarter, including The Grinch and Halloween (where’s Michael Myers when you need him?). Pre-tax earnings fell 48.9% to $91 million in Q4partially offset by lower programming and production costs.

With M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass ($247 million) and Jordan Peele’s Us ($255 million) as top-performing box office releases, Universal Pictures saw 2019 revenue decline 9.2% to $6.5 billion compared to 2018, partially offset by higher content licensing revenue.

Indeed, pre-tax earnings increased 13.5% to $833 million from $734 million in 2018, reflecting lower revenue, more than offset by lower operating expenses.

‘Captain Marvel’ Tops Redbox Disc Rentals for Third Week

There wasn’t much movement among the top titles on Redbox’s disc rental and on demand charts the week ended June 30.

Disney’s Captain Marvel spent its third consecutive week in the No. 1 spot on the Redbox disc rental chart, which tracks DVD and Blu-ray Disc rentals at the company’s more than 40,000 red kiosks.

The horror film Us, from Universal Pictures, spent its second week at No. 2. The horror film is director Jordan Peele’s follow-up to Get Out.

The top newcomer on the disc chart at No. 3 was Lionsgate’s The Poison Rose, a crime thriller featuring John Travolta and his daughter alongside Morgan Freeman.

Paramount’s animated Wonder Park slipped to No. 4 on the physical rental chart.

Disney’s live-action remake of Dumbo debuted at No. 5 after a $114 million run at the domestic box office.

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The Redbox On Demand chart, which tracks digital transactions, including both electronic sellthrough and streaming rentals, saw Us remain in the top spot for a second consecutive week.

The Upside, from STX and Universal Pictures, jumped up to No. 2, while Wonder Park dropped to No. 3.

Sony Pictures’ Holmes & Watson moved up to No. 4, while Lionsgate’s Five Feet Apart slid to No. 5.

The Disney-distributed titles are among several releases not available through Redbox On Demand.

Top DVD and Blu-ray Disc Rentals, Redbox Kiosks, Week Ended June 30:

  1. Captain Marvel — Disney
  2. Us — Universal
  3. The Poison Rose — Lionsgate
  4. Wonder Park — Paramount
  5. Dumbo (2019) Disney
  6. The Upside — Universal
  7. A Madea Family Funeral — Lionsgate
  8. Five Feet Apart — Lionsgate
  9. Isn’t It Romantic — Warner
  10. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World — Universal

 

Top Digital, Redbox On Demand, Week Ended June 30:

  1. Us — Universal
  2. The Upside — STX
  3. Wonder Park — Paramount
  4. Holmes & Watson — Sony Pictures
  5. Five Feet Apart — Lionsgate
  6. A Madea Family Funeral — Lionsgate
  7. Isn’t It Romantic — Warner
  8. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald — Warner
  9. Aquaman — Warner
  10. What Men Want — Paramount

Merchandising: ‘Wonder Park,’ ‘Us’ Gain Slight Retail Interest

For the week of June 18, most stores still had their displays focused on Blu-rays of Walt Disney Studios’ Captain Marvel, released the previous week. Still, a couple of the week’s new releases managed to earn exclusive editions at some of the big retailers.

Walmart’s ‘Wonder Park’ Blu-ray with plush

Walmart was selling a gift set of the Blu-ray Disc combo pack of Paramount’s animated Wonder Park that included a plush “Wonder Chimp Backpack Clip” for $24.96.

Best Buy offered a Steelbook edition for the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack of Universal Pictures’ horror movie Us for $32.99.

Best Buy’s ‘Us’ 4K Blu-ray Steelbook

Best Buy is also taking preorders on a slew of upcoming Steelbook editions for movies that are still in theaters. Titles listed at $34.99 include 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbooks of Fox’s Dark Phoenix, Disney’s Avengers: Endgame and Aladdin, Warner’s Shazam! and Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Paramount’s Rocketman and Pet Sematary, Universal’s The Secret Life of Pets 2, Lionsgate’s Hellboy, as well as a 3D/4K combo pack of Fox’s Alita: Battle Angel.

There’s also a listing for a $59.99 Steelbook 4K Blu-ray of HBO’s Game of Thrones: Season 8.

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Universal Puts Bonus Content Menus Front and Center on New Blu-ray Disc, DVD Releases

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment aims to drum up consumer awareness of Blu-ray Disc and DVD bonus content, which the studio believes is a key selling point for its physical product.

Beginning with the urban horror film Us, which arrives on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray on June 18, the studio is introducing a new “bonus features” menu that is prominently displayed on the opening screen, instead of being buried behind layers of disc menu options.

The new menu also features compelling visual clips, rather than mere lines of text, that can be accessed with a single click of the remote.

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To further drive consumer awareness of a disc’s bonus content, supplemental features will begin playing automatically after film’s credits.

Hilary Hoffman, EVP of global marketing for Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, told Media Play News that the studio is playing up bonus content because a new Attitude & Usage study indicates that bonus content continues to be an important selling point for home entertainment enthusiasts, especially among the premium formats.

Heavy buyers are influenced the most, with 34% saying they check for bonus content before they buy a disc. The percentage is even higher (52%) among 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray buyers.

“Our consumers have clearly indicated that bonus content is a vital part of the physical disc offering,” Hoffman said. “By continuing to evolve our products and create a greater, more enhanced viewing experience, we reinforce for them the value in ownership and keep them connected and engaged to our products and the category.”

In addition, Hoffman said, bonus features are often the deciding factor in whether a consumer buys instead of streams. Forty percent of buyers choose to purchase rather than stream because they want the bonus content.

“Only through change and innovation can we hope to keep pace with our consumers’ ever-evolving habits and preferences,” Hoffman said. “We are optimistic that Universal’s latest design enhancements will serve to further buoy consumer engagement in our products. Our hope is to see the entire industry move in this direction.”

At least one other studio also is looking at ways to increase the visibility of bonus content. “Paramount is always looking at improving the experience consumers get when they purchase our movies on Blu-ray or digitally,” said Vincent Marcais, EVP of marketing for Paramount Home Entertainment.  “We are evaluating the bonus menu options while continuing to focus on 1) providing even better ‘extras’ such as alternate endings and deleted scenes on the upcoming  Pet Semetary and 2) presenting our extras on digital platforms so our customers can have even more incentive to purchase.”