‘Blade’ Coming to 4K Dec. 1

The 1998 vampire thriller Blade will be released on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack and digital on Dec. 1 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Directed by Stephen Norrington (The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) and written by David S. Goyer (the “Dark Knight” trilogy), the film, based on the Marvel comic, stars Wesley Snipes, Stephen Dorff, Kris Kristofferson, N’Bushe Wright, Donal Logue, Udo Kier and Sanaa Lathan.

Snipes stars as Marvel’s iconic half-vampire, half-human vampire hunter Blade. With all the strengths of a vampire, and none of their weaknesses, the Day Walker uses his incredible gifts to hunt his enemies in his search for the one that killed his mother and turned him into the monster he is. Blade’s fight leads him to Deacon Frost (Dorff), a rising force in the vampire world, set on raising a vampire God bent on destroying mankind.

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The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc of Blade will feature Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos sound.

Extras include commentary with Snipes, Dorff, Goyer, Theo Van De Sande, Kirk M. Petruccelli and Peter Frankfurt and an isolated score with commentary by composer Mark Isham.

WarnerMedia Planning to Cut Workforce Upwards of 20%

WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar is continuing to clean house since being hired earlier this year by AT&T CEO John Stankey to run the former Time Warner entity. Kilar, who formerly headed Hulu, reportedly is seeking additional entertainment cuts approaching 20% of the company’s workforce since eliminating 500 positions in August. Those layoffs included Ron Sanders, president of Warner Bros. worldwide theatrical distribution and president of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. Cuts in the coming weeks are expected at Warner Bros., HBO, TBS and TNT.

“Like the rest of the entertainment industry, we have not been immune to the significant impact of the pandemic,” a WarnerMedia spokesman told The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the restructuring. “We are in the midst of that process and it will involve increased investments in priority areas and, unfortunately, reductions in others.”

WarnerMedia reportedly had 26,000 employees when it was Time Warner. With the entertainment sector in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, and studio and TV production in slow motion, WarnerMedia is putting much of its resources into HBO Max, the recently-launched SVOD and pending AVOD platform.

Max had about 4.1 million people activate the app in the first month since launching on May 27. When combined with a negotiations impasse with Roku regarding placement of the Max app on the streaming media manufacturer’s platform, the SVOD and pending AVOD platform significantly lags behind rivals Disney+, Amazon Prime Video and Netflix.

In addition, Warner Bros. continues to push back theatrical releases to 2021, including most recently sci-fi reboot Dune, from December to next year. Robert Pattinson starrer The Batman has been bumped from 2021 to 2022. Patty Jenkins sequel Wonder Woman 1984 has been bumped three times to the current Dec. 25 release.

“There’s nothing that’s sacred anywhere in the business,” Stankey told The Journal earlier this year. “WarnerMedia is no exception to that.”

HBO Max, Warner Bros. Begin Production on New Steven Soderbergh Crime Thriller

HBO Max and Warner Bros. Pictures Sept. 28 began production on one of the studio’s first feature films during the COVID-19 era. The film, No Sudden Move, is directed by Oscar/Emmy winner Steven Soderbergh. The cast and crew is operating under strict pandemic safety protocols with a priority on the health and safety of all employees and production partners, according to Warner Bros. and HBO Max.

Produced under Soderbergh’s overall deal with HBO Max, the movie, set in 1955 Detroit, centers on a group of small-time criminals who are hired to steal what they think is a simple document. When their plan goes horribly wrong, their search for who hired them — and for what ultimate purpose — weaves them through all echelons of the race-torn, rapidly changing city.

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The cast includes Don Cheadle (Black Monday, Ocean’s Eleven), Benicio Del Toro (The French Dispatch, Sicario), David Harbour (Stranger Things, Black Widow), Amy Seimetz (The Comey Rule, The Girlfriend Experience), Jon Hamm (Baby DriverMad Men), Ray Liotta (The Many Saints of Newark, Marriage Story), Kieran Culkin (SuccessionIgby Goes Down), Brendan Fraser (Doom Patrol, Crash), Noah Jupe (The Undoing, Honey Boy), Bill Duke (Black LightningHigh Flying Bird)Frankie Shaw (SMILF, Mr. Robot) and Julia Fox (Uncut Gems).

“It’s a pleasure to begin production on another project with Steven Soderbergh,” Casey Bloys, chief content officer for HBO and HBO Max, said in a statement. “We have an incredible partner in Warner Bros. Pictures and an extraordinarily talented cast.”

“Steven is a prolific, forward-thinking director who has a two-decade history of making movies at Warner Bros. We look forward to continuing his legacy at WarnerMedia with his intense crime thriller,” added Toby Emmerich, chairman of Warner Bros. Pictures Group.

Soderbergh most-recently directed HBO Max’s upcoming feature Let Them All Talk, starring Meryl Streep, as well as films, The Laundromat and High Flying Bird for Netflix. He earned the Academy Award in 2000 for directing Traffic, the same year he was also nominated for Erin Brockovich. Soderbergh earlier gained an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay for sex, lies, and videotape, his feature film directorial debut. The film also won the Palme d’Or at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival.

Warner’s ‘Tenet’ Leads Slumping Weekend Domestic Box Office With $3.4 Million in Ticket Sales

The U.S. box office continues to suffer under constrained openings due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Despite the release of three significant studio titles, exhibitor revenue remains down 75% from the previous-year period.

Warner Bros.’ Tenet, the international espionage thriller from Christopher Nolan, remained the top draw, generating $3.4 million in revenue from 2,800 screens through Sept. 26, or $41.2 million since it debuted in the U.S. four weeks ago. That was down 26% from $4.59 million generated during the previous-weekend three-day period, according to industry numbers.

The movie has generated $283.2 million worldwide — leading some observers to wonder when Warner would release the movie on HBO Max or a third-party platform via PVOD or transactional VOD. The movie has generated 85% of its box office abroad.

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Notably, the top domestic screens for Tenet included largely drive-ins and Imax theaters such as Paramount Drive-In in Los Angeles; Capitol 6 Drive-In and Solano Twin Drive-In in San Francisco; Regal Irvine Spectrum Imax and AMC Block Orange with Imax (Orange County, Calif.); Cinemark Redwood 20 in San Francisco; Alamo Drafthouse in Ashburn, Va.; Cinemark Huntington Beach (Calif.) Bella Terra; and Sacramento (Calif.) Drive-In.

Meanwhile, Disney/20th Century’s The New Mutants finished second with exhibitors, generating $1.1 million in ticket sales, which was down 31% from $1.59 million during the previous weekend period. The movie has tallied $19.4 million over the the past five weeks.

Disney’s live-action Mulan, which has only been released in theaters outside the U.S., and on Premier Access via Disney+ domestically, generated $3.4 million, or $64 million globally since its Sept. 4 debut. Disney has not disclosed the movie’s PVOD revenue numbers.

HBO Max Greenlights ‘Suicide Squad’ Spinoff Series ‘Peacemaker’ Starring John Cena

HBO Max ordered the production of eight episodes for new action-comedy series “Peacemaker,” starring actor and WWE superstar John Cena, reprising his character from the upcoming Warner Bros. movie, The Suicide Squad.

The movie’s writer-director, James Gunn, will write all eight episodes of “Peacemaker” and will direct multiple episodes, including the first. Gunn and The Suicide Squad producer Peter Safran will serve as executive producers of the series, with Cena as co-executive producer.

John Cena

Based on characters from DC Comics, “Peacemaker” is scheduled to begin production in early 2021, prior to Gunn beginning work on the next Disney/Marvel Studios Guardians of the Galaxy film.

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While details about “Peacemaker” are being kept under wraps, the series will explore the origins of the character that Cena will play in the upcoming film, a man who believes in peace at any cost — no matter how many people he has to kill to get it. The series will extend the world that Gunn is creating for The Suicide Squad movie, which is scheduled to be released in theaters by Warner Bros. Pictures on Aug. 6, 2021.

“‘Peacemaker’ is an opportunity to delve into current world issues through the lens of this superhero/supervillain/and world’s biggest douchebag,” Gunn said in a statement.

Casey Bloys, chief content officer for HBO and HBO Max, said Gunn has the unique ability to create an expansive universe while also bringing to life the soul and wit of each character.

“We look forward to a deep dive into the world of ‘Peacemaker,'” Bloys said.

WarnerMedia Launches Voter Engagement Platform

Seeking to make voting in the upcoming presidential election as easy as possible for employees and viewers, WarnerMedia Sept. 22 announced the launch of a nonpartisan voter engagement resource center, aimed at providing the tools necessary to take part in the Nov. 3 election. The center provides access to the company’s civic engagement efforts, including voter registration support, programming and key partnerships.

The AT&T unit, which includes Warner Bros., HBO and Turner, is encouraging registered voters to pledge to vote as well as enlist their friends, families and colleagues to do the same. To help make that a reality, WarnerMedia is collaborating with Rock the VoteVoto LatinoWhen We All VoteNAACP Legal Defense FundShe Se Puede and Color of Change.

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The move comes as the politically divided country prepares for the Nov. 3 election day, with allegations of voter suppression efforts in some parts of the country.

“In today’s climate, it is more important than ever to be prepared with a voting plan, make sure you are registered to vote, and know your state’s absentee ballot rules and regulations,” Dennis Williams, SVP of corporate social responsibility at WarnerMedia, said in a statement.

Williams said the media giant is coordinating its online voter engagement hub, programming and collaborations with third party organizations, to encourage all “our fans and employees around the country to engage in the democratic process and ensure their vote is counted.”

WarnerMedia’s brands featuring civic-minded programming and information include “Citizen by CNN,” the network’s civic engagement platform introducing tools that aim to connect users to personalized, local information about candidates, voting and issues. The tool will help users discover local information on where/how to vote, allow them to stay up to date on important changes to voting information, and empower them to get information to feel confident casting their ballot.

WarnerMedia is also helping make sure everyone is counted in the 2020 United States Census. Young children are missed in the census for a multitude of reasons, but confusion about who goes on the form is a major one. Nearly 40% of children under five live in complex households, where they may split time between homes, be cared for by foster parents, grandparents, or other relatives, or their caregivers may be housing-insecure. Uncertainty about who counts on the census questionnaire is only magnified if the child lives in a linguistically isolated household.

“Through a bilingual kit developed on ‘Sesame Street,’ we’re striving to close this gap,” Williams said.

WarnerMedia also has a series of related programming lined up with the goal being to increase participation in the election. A few of the productions include:A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote”; “On The Trail: Inside the 2020 Primaries”; “Siempre, Luis”; “Stockton on My Mind”; “John Lewis: Good Trouble”; and “American Utopia.”

“‘When We All Vote’ is on a mission to change the culture around voting, which means we have to reach people where they are,” Crystal Carson, VP of culture, communications and media partnerships for When We All Vote, said in a statement. “That’s why we are proud to collaborate with WarnerMedia to encourage eligible voters to register and make a plan to cast their ballot this election.”

Carolyn Dewitt, executive director of Rock the Vote, said working with WarnerMedia has help empower the media company’s employees and audiences with information and resources needed to make their voices heard in the 2020 election.

“WarnerMedia understands the power of its platform to reach millions of eligible voters and takes that responsibility seriously by creating a culture of civic engagement for all WarnerMedia family,” DeWitt said.

AT&T Continues to Hold Open the Theatrical Window

AT&T CFO John Stephens was one of many U.S. moviegoers who donned a mask and watched Christopher Nolan’s Tenet at the movie theater over the Labor Day weekend. The movie has generated about $150 million at the global box office despite continued theater shutdowns in key markets such as California and New York.

Speaking Sept. 9 on the virtual Bank of America Media, Communications and Entertainment confab, Stephens reiterated WarnerMedia’s ongoing support for the theatrical window — a stance undermined in recent months by the Walt Disney Co.’s decision to embrace premium video-on-demand for the live-action Mulan remake and Universal Pictures’ decision to entertain PVOD and theatrical releases for all new major studio films.

John Stephens

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Stephens said a movie on the scale of Tenet plays best on a large screen rather than in a consumer home. Indeed, more than 50% of the movie’s $20.1 million Labor Day weekend domestic box office occurred at Imax screens, the biggest of the big screens.

“I couldn’t have imagined being able to see [Tenet] and enjoy it in the same way here in my home,” Stephens said. “We understand the distribution model is going to evolve … so we’re going to continue to look at [PVOD], but in no way do I want to imply that we’re not going to continue to work with those theater owners.”

Tenet is on track to equal last year’s It: Chapter Two, which generated $211.5 million at the domestic box office for Warner to finish 2019 in the No. 10 spot, just behind the studio’s Oscar-winning Joker with $333.7 million.

Warner’s ‘Tenet’ Tops $20 Million at Domestic Labor Day Weekend Box Office

Warner Bros.’ major box office release Tenet generated $20.2 million at the weekend U.S. box office through Sept. 5 — the majority ($11.1 million) on high-definition Imax screens, according to industry data. The Christopher Nolan espionage thriller, which is seen by many as a harbinger to theatrical normalcy, has tracked almost $150 million worldwide.

“There is literally no context in which to compare the results of a film opening during a pandemic with any other circumstance,” Warner said in a Sept. 6 statement. “We are in unprecedented territory, so any comparisons to the pre-COVID world would be inequitable and baseless.”

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With many theatrical chains operating for the first time following months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic, key regions such as California and New York still have many screens shuttered, which led observers to project a $20 million opening box office — one of the worst for a Nolan movie.

Michael Pachter with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, said that despite AMC Theatres re-opening 70% of its domestic screens, COVID-19 worries among exhibitors would limit seating capacity, undermining the fiscal impact of Tenet.

“Pent up consumer demand with 50% [social distancing seating] capacity and 60% of moviegoers afraid of dying [of COVID-19]. I think [Tenet] will be a [U.S. box office] embarrassment,” Pachter said ahead of the weekend box office.

International Box Office: ‘Mulan’ at $6 Million

No numbers are in for Mulan’s U.S. premium video-on-demand (PVOD) debut on Disney+, but Walt Disney Studios did release box office figures it says show “a strong opening … in just a handful of smaller international markets, representing only around 6% of normal international footprint.”

In those nine new markets — Croatia, Czech Rep, the Middle East, Slovakia, Turkey, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand — the live-action remake of the popular animated film earned a total of $5.9 million.

In the Middle East, Mulan opened at No. 1 in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia (with an estimated $800,000 in each market). In Asia, Mulan opened at No.1 in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand — markets where Disney estimates 90% of movie theaters are open, albeit at reduced capacities ranging from 30% to 50% of normal.

Next weekend, Mulan opens in China and Russia.

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Meanwhile, Fox’s The New Mutants in its second weekend earned an estimated $3.5 million in North American theaters, bringing its total take to an estimated $12.3 million. Disney estimates 68% of domestic screens are open, although major markets including Los Angeles and New York are still closed.

Internationally, The New Mutants expanded into 30 markets, including the U.K., Mexico, Australia, Russia and Italy, where it earned an estimated $4.2 million for the weekend.

DC FanDome Returns Sept. 12

The DC FanDome virtual event is returning for a second installment Sept. 12. The first FanDome took place Aug. 22 and showcased movie and TV news from Warner Bros. and DC Comics properties.

Called “DC FanDome: Explore the Multiverse,” the 24-hour event will allow fans to create and control their own viewing experience from more than 100 hours of on-demand content from television, films, comics, games and more — highlighting the work of more than 500 artists, writers and other talented individuals from around the globe.

Fans can also access exclusive behind-the-scenes content across TV and film, an extensive DC comics library, as well as fan art and cosplay.

The content can be streamed exclusively at DCFanDome.com and is available globally, across desktop and mobile, in nine languages.

Among the offerings:

  • WatchVerse: Panels include the official introduction of WBTV’s “Batwoman,” as well as “Superman & Lois,” “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow,” “DC’s Stargirl,” “Black Lightning,” expanded versions of “The Flash” and “Titans” panels that debuted during the previous FanDome, plus breaking news throughout the day.
  • InsiderVerse: Fans can go behind the scenes with the master artisans who bring DC to life in all its forms, from comic books to games, TV, movies, theme parks, consumer products and more.
  • Blerd & Boujee: Blerd & Boujee programming celebrates Blerd (aka “Black nerd”) culture and its impact around the globe, featuring diverse artists, voices, musicians and content.
  • FunVerse: Read hundreds of free digital comics, strike a pose at the selfie station, explore the Joker Escape Room, and more.
  • YouVerse: Check out more than 17,000 pieces fan art, cosplay, and user-generated content submissions from around the world, and vote for your favorites.