Disney’s ‘Cinderella’ Waltzes to Digital June 18, Disc June 25 for Its 70th

For its upcoming 70th anniversary, Cinderella will waltz into the Walt Disney Signature Collection on digital HD (including Movies Anywhere) June 18 and Blu-ray and DVD June 25.

Recently added to the National Film Registry, the animated classic centers on kind and hardworking Cinderella, who is ordered around by her cruel stepmother and her awful stepsisters. When an invitation to the royal ball arrives, Cinderella is left at home. Just when Cinderella believes all is lost, her Fairy Godmother appears and with a wave of her wand transforms her night.

Cinderella is the ninth title to join the Walt Disney Signature Collection, which includes Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Beauty and the Beast, Pinocchio, Bambi, The Lion King, Lady and the Tramp, Peter Pan and The Little Mermaid.

The anniversary edition of Cinderella offers two new extras: Cinderella trivia and fun facts, hosted by Ruth Righi and Ava Kolker from Disney Channel’s “Sydney to the Max,” and “In Walt’s Words: Enhanced Edition,” a special edition of Cinderella featuring production details, original storyboards, archival photos, thumbnail sketches and transcripts throughout the feature film.

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Hours of previously released bonus materials celebrate the animation, music and impact of Cinderella, showcasing Walt Disney’s core group of animators, the art of Disney legend Mary Blair, the original demo recording of the film’s title song and Cinderella’s iconic glass slipper. They include:

  • Diane Disney Miller Cinderella film intro, in which Miller describes how Cinderella helped launch a studio renaissance;
  • “The Real Fairy Godmother,” about the real-life inspiration for the Fairy Godmother, Mary Alice O’Connor, wife of Disney layout artist Ken O’Connor;
  • “Behind the Magic: A New Disney Princess Fairyland,” showing how Imagineers created a Fantasyland at Walt Disney World featuring each of the Disney princesses; and
  • “The Magic of the Glass Slipper,” in which world-famous shoe designer Christian Louboutin creates a very exclusive “Glass Slipper” in honor of the Disney classic.

Report: Amazon in Talks to Buy Majority Stake in Yankees’ YES Sports TV Network

Amazon and Sinclair Broadcast Group are reportedly in early discussions about a joint bid to acquire the New York Yankees’ YES regional sports TV network.

The Wall Street Journal, citing sources familiar with the situation, said Amazon and Sinclair would be acquiring the 80% stake currently owned by The Walt Disney Co. – and valued from $5 billion to $6 billion. The Yankees own the other 20%.

Other possible YES suitors include pay-TV operator Altice USA and investor group RedBird Capital.

Amazon, unlike Netflix, is no stranger to live sports. It currently streams NFL Thursday Night Football on Prime Video, in addition to other sports internationally.

The talks are in the preliminary stage and face several challenges, including Major League Baseball’s streaming video platform, MLB.tv, and existing pay-TV distribution deals between the Yankees and Comcast, Altice and Charter Communications.

Disney assumed control of Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network LLC following its $71 billion acquisition of select 21stCentury Fox assets. In addition to carrying Yankees baseball, YES airs the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets basketball games, among other content.

Fox owns 21 another regional TV sports networks across the country, valued at around $15 billion.

Disney’s ‘Christopher Robin’ Coming to Disc and Digital Nov. 6

The family film Christopher Robin will come out on digital (including Movies Anywhere) and on Blu-ray and DVD Nov. 6 from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.

In the live-action adventure, A.A. Milne’s characters from the Hundred Acre Wood — Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo, Rabbit and Owl —venture into mid-century London to help grown-up Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) and remind him to appreciate the simple pleasures in life.

The film made $98.3 million in theaters.

Bonus features on Blu-ray combo pack (Blu-ray, DVD and digital) and digital include: “In Which … A Movie Is Made for Pooh ,” a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the movie; “In Which … Pooh Finds His Voice,” featuring voice actors; “In Which … Pooh and Walt Become Friends,”  exploring the legacy of Walt Disney’s first encounter with Pooh; and “In Which … Pooh and Friends Come to Life,” about the special effects of bringing the stuffed characters to life. The digital release includes the exclusive bonus feature, “In Which … We Were Very Young,” about the original teddy bear given to Christopher Robin Milne 98 years ago. Bonus features may vary by retailer.

Peter Pan: Signature Collection

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Disney;
Animated;
$39.99 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘G.’
Voices of Bobby Driscoll, Kathryn Beaumont, Hans Conried, Paul Collins, Tommy Luske.

One thing Disney has been doing more frequently with its Blu-ray re-releases of its animated classics is making the legacy bonus material available through the digital edition, for which a code is included with the disc. So featurettes or deleted scenes that were available on the previous disc version of the film are accessible through Movies Anywhere or other digital retailers, though the content tends to vary depending on who’s offering it.

The degree to which this material is left off the disc tends to vary, however, depending on how much the new material takes up space on the disc. This could be somewhat frustrating to fans and collectors who want the new extras but may be wary of swapping out the version they have in their collection because they like having those extras on physical media, just in case.

For the new “Signature Collection” of 1953’s Peter Pan, it seems most of the previously released material managed to survive the cut to be included on the latest disc, which should be a relief to collectors for the most part, even though there are a few extras that didn’t make it to the latest round.

Compared with the 2013 “Diamond Edition” Blu-ray, the most notable omission is the introduction by Walt Disney’s daughter, Diane Disney-Miller. However, since she passed away in 2013 a few months after that Blu-ray came out, it’s perfectly understandable why it wouldn’t be included this time.

The other notable extra that was left behind is the “Disney Intermission” function, during which a secondary video depicting fun activities will start to play whenever the movie is paused. Given that this somewhat defeats the purpose of pausing the movie, leaving it out also makes sense.

But almost all the rest of the legacy material is here, from comprehensive “Backstage Disney” documentaries to deleted scenes, and even the optional “DisneyView” that frames the movie between illustrations based on the film rather than the black bars that would appear on widescreen TVs because the film was cut in the 4:3 standard of its era.

The animation remains bright and vivid, and appears to be the same transfer from the 2013 version, though the film has garnered some attention in recent years for how its depiction of Indians rubs up against the PC sensibilities of an expanding sub-culture of social media.

The new material amounts to a few short supplements that reflect on the making of the film and why Walt wanted to do it. The most prominent is the latest of the “Stories From Walt’s Office” vignettes that have been appearing on these Signature Collection releases. This one is called “Walt & Flight” and is a four-minute look at Walt’s love of airplanes and flying in them.

The disc also turns up the sentiment with “A Darling Conversation With Wendy & John,” a new, eight-minute retrospective conversation between actors Kathryn Beaumont and Paul Collins, who voiced Wendy and John in the film.

The disc also includes sing-along versions of two songs: the film’s signature theme “You Can Fly” and the deleted sequence “Never Smile at a Crocodile.”

The sing-alongs should be fun for younger viewers, while the healthy mix of old and new bonus material should satisfy older fans looking to add this to their collection or upgrade from the 2013 version.

Atom Tickets Bows First National TV Ad Featuring Anna Faris

Atom Tickets, the online movie ticket service funded by Lionsgate, Disney and 20th Century Fox Film, among others, May 23 rolled out its first national marketing campaign, which includes a TV spot featuring actress Anna Faris (“Mom”), and directed by Peter Berg (Lone Survivor, The Kingdom, Patriots Day).

Designed to appeal broadly to all audiences, the campaign positions Atom as a fan’s passport to an “elevated experience” that can only be delivered by the platform’s app – and social media.

The spot showcases Faris playfully scanning her Atom digital ticket to enter the theater, enjoying popcorn in her seat, and feeling thoroughly delighted by the experience.

“The campaign reinforces our key value propositions of share-ability, flexibility and convenience in purchasing movie tickets using Atom,” Amber Tarshis, head of marketing for Atom Tickets, said in a statement.

The ad will also run in theaters and online on Hulu and YouTube. Additionally, Atom is partnering with ESPN and PopSugar to specifically target the entertainment male and female audience.

The campaign follows actor Dwyane Johnson, his ex-wife and business manager Dany Garcia, and their production company, joining Atom’s advisory board.

Court Denies Disney Injunction Against Redbox

In what Redbox ‎director of marketing communications Kate Brennan calls “great momentum” for the kiosk disc rental operator, a federal court in Los Angeles on Feb. 20 rejected the Walt Disney Co.’s motion for a preliminary injunction to stop selling movie download codes.

Disney is the only studio that won’t sell product to Redbox. As a result, Redbox staffers buy Disney DVDs and Blu-ray Discs at retail, and then rent the discs while selling the codes – included in Blu-ray Disc combo packs – separately.

Last November, Disney filed suit, seeking to prohibit Redbox from selling codes to titles such as like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Moana at a discount to what digital copies sell for on Amazon or iTunes.

Disney argues that the sale of download codes violates copyright law. Disney includes a warning on combo packs that “codes are not for sale or transfer” – a warning underscored in the terms of use, which say the “sale, distribution, purchase, or transfer of digital copy codes …  is strictly prohibited.”

The judge, however, ruled that the warning does not constitute a contract restricting what a consumer can do with product purchased at retail.

In a critical finding, Judge Dean Pregerson ruled that “this improper leveraging of Disney’s copyright in the digital content to restrict secondary transfers of physical copies directly implicates and conflicts with public policy enshrined in the Copyright Act, and constitutes copyright misuse.”

The preliminary injunction was granted because the court agreed with Redbox’s contention that Disney was unlikely to prevail on its case.  According to the ruling, “Disney has not demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of its contributory copyright infringement claim.”

“From Redbox’s perspective, the court’s decision was a common-sense application of the law of contracts to the unenforceable fine print on the outside of Disney’s combo packs,” Brennan said.

However, the court did rule that “at this stage of proceedings, it appears to the court that the First Sale Doctrine is not applicable to this case” – a critical cog in Redbox’s January countersuit against Disney, in which the kiosk operator maintains Disney digital codes should not be treated any differently than physical discs that it is legally entitled to rent.

The First Sale Doctrine, which video retailers used in the early 1980s to establish their right to rent videocassettes over strong studio opposition, says a copyright owner cannot prohibit a purchaser from reselling a copy of a work, such as DVD.

According to Pregerson’s ruling, “Redbox urges this court to conclude that Disney’s sale of a download code is indistinguishable from the sale of a tangible, physical, particular copy of a copyrighted work that has simply not yet been delivered.”

Specifically, the judge said that regardless what Disney’s representations on the disc case may suggest about whether or not a ‘copy’ is being transferred, he disagreed that a ‘particular material object’ exists, let alone could be transferred, prior to the time that a download code is redeemed and the copyrighted work is fixed onto the downloader’s physical hard drive.

Instead, Pregerson contends Disney appears to have sold something akin to an option to create a physical copy at some point in the future. Because no particular, fixed copy of a copyrighted work yet existed at the time Redbox purchased, or sold, a digital download code, the judge ruled the First Sale Doctrine inapplicable in the case.

The two parties will again square off in court on March 5, in a hearing on Redbox’s motion to dismiss the case.

Disney Readying ESPN OTT Video Service for Spring Launch

The Walt Disney Co. this spring is launching a standalone ESPN over-the-top video service, a $4.99 monthly platform powered by the media giant’s recent $3.75 billion BAMTech acquisition. Disney will also launch its first domestic OTT video in late 2019.

The move comes as Disney reported 11% drop in first-quarter (ended Dec. 30, 2017) ad revenue at ESPN. The company attributed the decline in part to the timing of the NCAA college football playoffs. ESPN broadcast six bowl games in Q1 last year compared to two games this year.

Speaking on the Feb. 6 fiscal call, CEO Bob Iger explained that the revamped ESPN app would feature live (authenticated) streaming, scores, highlights, news, stories, etc.

A third component, dubbed ESPN Plus, will feature on-demand content, including the entire library of ESPN’s award-winning “30 for 30” series.

“We plan to invest further in the direct-to-consumer feature, adding more live games and produce sports programming, along with even greater personalization in the years ahead,” Iger said.

Should Disney’s $52 billion acquisition of 20th Century Fox go through, it plans to incorporate movies from Fox 2000 and Fox Searchlight for OTT video – a strategic move Netflix follows.

“As a company, when combined, we’ll have far more production … to flow into our traditional distribution businesses, that being TV channels and the motion picture exhibition business, as well as the capability to create product for our direct-to-consumer businesses,” Iger said.

He said that with Disney, Marvel, Pixar and Star Wars brands, the studio won’t try and emulate Netflix’s 80 feature-film production goals.

The demand for those [Disney] brands, we believe, will give us the ability to spend less on volume,” Iger said.

Netflix Streams ‘The Cloverfield Paradox’ Following Super Bowl LII

For football fans, it was the Philadelphia Eagles denying a trademark New England Patriots rally to win its first Super Bowl (discounting a 1960 NFL Championship) in a thrilling contest, 41-33.

For Hollywood, the marquee televised event (111 million viewers in 2017) provided massive eyeballs for movie trailers/teasers reportedly costing more than $5 million to air.

Netflix went a step further, using the Super Bowl’s typical 100 million household audience to announce that its acquisition of former Paramount Pictures’ sequel, The Cloverfield Paradox, would be available to stream globally following the game.

The SVOD pioneer reportedly acquired the movie after Paramount pushed back its theatrical release to April, and then abandoned the idea. Netflix and Paramount previously partnered on Annihilation, a sci-fi action horror film starring Natalie Portman and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

This marked the first time a major motion picture was made available almost immediately following its Super Bowl commercial.

Early results from comScore cited spots from Walt Disney’s Marvel Avengers: Infinity War, Universal Pictures’ Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and Disney’s Lucasfilm Solo: A Star Wars Story generating the most social media buzz.

comScore said Fallen Kingdom and Paramount Pictures’ Mission: Impossible – Fallout generated 3.56 million and 2.09 million views, respectively on Facebook and YouTube.

The Cloverfield Paradox generated the most buzz among subscription streaming video services, followed by Universal’s Skyscraper, starring Dwayne Johnson, and Quiet Place (Paramount) and Red Sparrow (Fox).

Amazon Studios ran a spot for “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan,” starring John Krasinski, while Hulu ran a trailer for new series, “Castle Rock,” starring Sissy Spacek and Bill Skarsgard, among others.

HBO ran a spot for the second season of “Westworld.