Warner Bros. Q1 Home Entertainment, Games Revenue Down Slightly

WarnerMedia April 22 reported first quarter (ended March 31) revenue from Warner Bros. home entertainment and video games of $349 million, down about 4.5% from revenue of $365 million during the previous-year period.

It should be noted that the COVID-19 pandemic struck near the end of the first quarter of 2020, with the World Health Organization’s March 11 declaration of a global pandemic, which was followed days later by the closure of theaters. Home entertainment releases during the quarter were thus largely unaffected.

Warner’s top-selling packaged-media releases in the first quarter of 2021 included Tenet and Harry Potter: The Complete Collection.

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Meanwhile, WarnerMedia, whose properties include Warner Bros., HBO, HBO Max, TBS, TNT, TruTV and CNN, saw total revenue increase 9.8% to $8.5 billion, from $7.7 billion in the previous-year period. Revenue was driven by higher subscription, advertising and content sales, reflecting the partial recovery from prior-year impacts of COVID-19.

Subscription revenue increases reflected growth of direct-to-consumer domestic HBO Max and HBO subscribers, and, to a lesser extent, the May 2020 acquisition of the remaining interest in the HBO Latin America Group. Advertising revenue improved when compared to the prior year, resulting from the return in 2021 of the NCAA Division I Men’s Championship Basketball Tournament.

Additionally, content revenue increased due to higher sales to Max for theatrical product and “basic networks” licensing, partly offset by lower television product licensing from prior-year licensing to Max. In 2021, all Warner Bros. theatrical releases are streaming concurrently on Max for 31 days.

Operating expenses totaled $6.6 billion, up 13.9% when compared with the first quarter of 2020, driven by higher programming and marketing costs for Max and higher programming, including NCAA sports costs, partially offset by lower bad debt expense. Direct costs supporting DTC revenue were $1.7 billion in the first quarter of 2021, versus $911 million in the year-ago quarter.

WarnerMedia segment operating contribution was $2 billion, up 0.8%. The WarnerMedia segment operating income margin was 23%, compared with 25.7% in the year-earlier quarter.

Godzilla vs. Kong

STREAMING REVIEW:

Warner/HBO Max;
Sci-Fi;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for intense sequences of creature violence/destruction and brief language.
Stars Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Shun Oguri, Eiza Gonzalez, Julian Dennison, Kyle Chandler, Demian Bichir.

The title fight between two monster-movie heavyweights delivers pretty much what one might expect from such a premise: a lot of spectacle, flashy visual effects, rampaging destruction on a massive scale, and a completely disposable story to provide the flimsiest of excuses to set it all up.

The clash between Godzilla and King Kong is a rematch of sorts, the pair having faced off in 1962’s King Kong vs. Godzilla, a Japanese production from the “Godzilla” creative team (and the third “Godzilla” movie to that point). But this is their first encounter in the new “Monsterverse” franchise that began with 2014’s Godzilla remake, which got a sequel in 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters featuring Godzilla battling several of his traditional enemies. This Kong was introduced in 2017’s Kong: Skull Island, a 1970s-set adventure film in which humanity discovered the giant ape and all the strange creatures of his mysterious homeland.

Godzilla vs. Kong is under no illusions that it exists for any reason other than to put the two titans together. It even structures the opening credits as a tournament bracket showing which creatures each defeated in the previous movies.

The story, such as it is, involves Godzilla attacking research facilities of a company called Apex and putting the local population in danger. Apex wants to access the power source of the mythical “Hollow Earth” (a hidden underground world) to power a defense against Godzilla, and recruits a scientist named Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgård) to lead the expedition. To access Hollow Earth, they need two things: special vehicles that can withstand the gravitational fluxes of the subterranean barrier, and a Titan to locate an entrance. Lind knows a scientist (Rebecca Hall) who runs a facility on Skull Island where in the past 40 years they’ve managed to entrap Kong and keep him contained in a giant dome.

Anyway, the plan is to take Kong to Antarctica to locate a portal. But since Godzilla can sense the presence of other Titans, he can track Kong once the ape leaves the dome. So Godzilla attacks the fleet transporting Kong, and the Titans have their first throwdown on the deck of an aircraft carrier, and it’s pretty awesome.

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Meanwhile, Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) from King of the Monsters joins up with a conspiracy podcaster to investigate why Godzilla would be attacking cities again, since she believes Godzilla is meant to protect the world. So they look into Apex and discover the company is building Mechagodzilla, the famed giant robot version of Godzilla.

Anyway, through some more plot mechanics, Kong ends up in Hollow Earth and finds his ancestral homeland and an ancient axe his ancestors once used to fight Godzilla’s ancestors in some ancient war between the Titans. The axe allows Kong to harness the same radiation Godzilla uses, which evens the playing field a bit since Godzilla is a lizard that can fire nuclear blasts from his mouth, while Kong isn’t much more than a big monkey.

But he’s a smart one, too, and to speed things along the movie treats Kong as another protagonist, communicating with a little deaf girl from his island in order to join forces with the humans against Godzilla.

So, Godzilla attacks the Apex facility that is building Mechagodzilla, and Kong returns to the surface to fight him again, and glorious destruction of many neon buildings ensues. It’s quite a sight to behold. And the facility is in Hong Kong, because of course King Kong has to end up in Hong Kong or else what is even the point of it all?

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While it plays in theaters, Godzilla vs. Kong is available on HBO Max until April 30.

‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ Tops $80 Million North American Box Office

Warner Bros./Legendary’s Godzilla vs. Kong monster mash continued its domestic box office rule, adding an estimated $7.7 million across 3,000 screens through the April 18 weekend to bring its North American total to $80.5 million through three pandemic weekends.

The number is even more impressive considering most theaters are operating at 50% capacity and the movie has been available to HBO Max subscribers since its theatrical debut.

The movie has topped $350 million in worldwide box office receipts.

Universal Pictures’ Nobody, starring “Better Call Saul” lead Bob Odenkirk, took No. 2 on the domestic screens with $2.5 million; $19 million total ($34 million globally). The title is also available on PVOD for $19.99 due to Universal’s rev-share retail agreement with AMC Theatres and Cinemark.

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Sony Pictures’ The Unholy finished No. 3 with $2 million/$9.5 million total, which is slightly ahead of Disney/Pixar’s Raya and the Last Dragon with $1.9 million, $37 million total. The movie is available to Disney+ subs for a $29.99 add-on.

Finally, Warner’s live-action animated hit Tom & Jerry topped $100 million at the global box office with $1.1 in domestic ticket sales, $42 million total, to finish No. 5.

‘Tom & Jerry’ Coming to PVOD April 16, Digital and Disc May 18

The animated and live action comedy Tom & Jerry will be available via premium VOD rental April 16, followed by release on digital, Blu-ray and DVD May 18 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

The film, which previously debuted simultaneously in theaters and on the HBO Max streaming service, is directed by Tim Story (Fantastic Four, Think Like a Man, Barbershop) and features Chloë Grace Moretz (Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, The Addams Family), Michael Peña (Cesar Chavez, American Hustle, Ant-Man) and Colin Jost (How to be Single, TV’s “Saturday Night Live”).

In Tom & Jerry, the iconic mouse Jerry moves into New York City’s finest hotel on the eve of “the wedding of the century,” forcing the event’s desperate planner (Moretz) to hire Tom to get rid of him. The ensuing cat and mouse battle threatens to destroy her career, the wedding and possibly the hotel itself. But soon, an even bigger problem arises: a diabolically ambitious staffer conspiring against all three of them.

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Special features include deleted scenes, a gag reel and several featurettes.

TV Time: Warner’s ‘Mortal Kombat’ Most Anticipated Movie in April

Warner Bros.’ Mortal Kombat was the most anticipated movie in April on the TV Time chart.

Based on the video game franchise of the same name, the film follows Shaolin Monk Liu Kang, from Earth, who gets invited as a competitor in a mysterious, intergalactic tournament of ancient martial arts. It premieres April 23 in theaters and on WarnerMedia’s HBO Max streaming service.

A Whip Media company, TV Time is a free TV viewership tracking app that tracks consumers’ viewing habits worldwide and is visited by nearly 1 million consumers every day, according to the company. TV Time’s “Anticipation Report” is based on data from those users.

Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse, premiering on Amazon Prime April 30, took the second spot on the chart. The action thriller is based on the 1993 novel of the same name by Tom Clancy and is a spin-off of the Jack Ryan film series.

Coming in at No. 3 was Netflix’s Thunder Force, premiering April 9 on the streaming service. Starring Melissa McCarthy, Octavia Spenser and Jason Bateman, the film follows two childhood best friends who reunite as an unlikely crime-fighting superhero duo when one invents a formula that gives ordinary people superpowers.

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Also from Netflix, Stowaway, premiering April 22, took the fourth spot on the chart. In the film starring Anna Kendrick, Daniel Dae Kim, Shamier Anderson and Toni Collette, a three-person crew on a mission to Mars faces an impossible choice when an unplanned passenger jeopardizes the lives of everyone on board.

Another space story, Lionsgate’s Voyagers, landed at No. 5. Starring Colin Farrell, Tye Sheridan, Lily-Rose Depp and Fionn Whitehead, the film follows a crew of astronauts on a multi-generational mission who descend into paranoia and madness, not knowing what is real or not. It hits theaters April 9.

Rounding out the chart at No. 6 was Concrete Cowboy, which began streaming on Netflix April 2. Starring Idris Elba and Caleb McLaughlin (“Stranger Things”), it follows a rebellious teen, sent to live with his estranged father for the summer, who finds kinship in a tight-knit Philadelphia community of Black cowboys.

 Most Anticipated April Movies

  1. Mortal Kombat – April 23 (Warner Bros., theaters and HBO Max)
  2. Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse – April 30 (Amazon Prime)
  3. Thunder Force – April 9 (Netflix)
  4. Stowaway – April 22 (Netflix)
  5. Voyagers – April 9 (Lionsgate, theaters)
  6. Concrete Cowboy – April 2 (Netflix)

 

TV Time features a global community of 16 million users who have reported more than 18 billion views of TV and movie content across 230,000 titles.

Wonder Woman 1984

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Warner;
Action;
Box Office $46.1 million;
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $44.95 UHD BD;
$35.99 3D BD Warner Archive;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of action and violence.
Stars Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Pedro Pascal.

The 2017 Wonder Woman movie is pretty commonly regarded as the best of the otherwise mediocre DC Comics shared movie universe. The sequel might have some fans wondering if the first one was a fluke.

Probably not. But while Wonder Woman 1984 unmistakably shares the DNA of the original, it certainly isn’t a retread.

Taking place in a stereotypical movie version of 1984, 65 years after the World War I setting of the first one, the film finds the ageless Diana (Gal Gadot) now working in the antiquities wing of the Smithsonian while going out as Wonder Woman on a lark to stop local crimes. One, a jewelry heist, uncovers a black market smuggling ring that brings Diana into contact with an ancient stone inscribed with the power to grant wishes by an ancient trickster god of lies (one who isn’t Loki, since he plays for the other team).

Diana’s wish is for the return of her lost love Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), and sure enough he pops up in a way that raises some questions the movie isn’t interested in answering.

However, the stone attracts the attention of Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal), a con man selling shares in a phony oil company. He wants the power to wish himself into greatness, but as we are told in a flashback prologue set during Diana’s time as a young girl participating in the Amazonian sports of Themiscyra, “greatness is not what you think.”

Diana’s attempts to stop him put her at odds with a co-worker named Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig), a wallflower whose wish to be more like Diana inadvertently imbues her with superpowers she’s now unwilling to give up on her path to becoming the supervillain Cheetah. However, tying such a seminal Wonder Woman villain’s origins to this story almost seems like a waste.

On the flip side, Diana discovers the price of her wish is the gradual decline of her own abilities, and as the wishing power spreads, plunging the world into chaos, she is forced to make the difficult decision most movie superheroes have to make at some point: love or duty.

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The film is visually dazzling and offers some moments that will make any superhero movie fan smile, and Wonder Woman fans in particular. For example, the film finds a neat way to work in the invisible jet that isn’t just a transparent plastic model with a doll in it.

But the film runs a bit long at two-and-a-half hours, and the over-reliance on wishes as the central plot device gets rather tedious after a while.

Even in a universe where magic is already established — Diana is the daughter of the Greek god Zeus, after all — the presentation of the wishes being granted just seems a step beyond the plausible since the movie only pays the slightest lip-service to how they are supposed to work. In a screenplay underlined by progressive misunderstandings of Reagan-era politics, the wishes serve whatever basic story points the writers require, and stand up to little scrutiny beyond that.

Which is all a means of saying the individual elements of the story as assembled don’t quite result in a completely satisfying whole. The two-villain team up is practically a superhero sequel tradition at this point, even when their pairing doesn’t seem to make sense. Tonally this type of plot wouldn’t seem too out of place in the 1970s “Wonder Woman” TV show (which, fittingly, is teased in the Blu-ray bonus materials).

The 1980s setting would seem to suggest the story is intended as a screed against the kind of selfishness and greed that are often attributed to the ’80s but are pretty universally present in any time period. But, really, the film’s message of honest work over shortcuts to achievement, and not expecting everything you want to just be handed to you, is an easy one to embrace.

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Since we’ve seen present-day Diana in Batman v Superman and Justice League, a sequel set before those films could have been a story about what brought her back to dabble in superheroism before retreating from humanity’s problems again before BvS. As it stands, WW84 doesn’t necessarily knock against the established DC movie timeline per se, but the two “Wonder Woman” movies definitely stand on their own apart from the greater franchise.

It’s especially hard to reconcile the plot of WW84 with the 2017 Justice League team-up movie, particularly the theatrical cut. It fits in a bit more with Zack Snyder’s Justice League director’s cut, but not by much. (One can only imagine what a teenage Bruce Wayne would have wished for.)

While some of its logical issues are hard to ignore, Wonder Woman 1984 does play better on multiple viewings, mostly because it’s easy enough with Blu-ray and digital copies to just go to the few good scenes. And really, whatever problems the movie has are almost an afterthought to the pure joy of a mid-credits cameo that should serve as the basis of a third film.

Wonder Woman 1984 played in theaters and streamed on HBO Max through Jan. 24, after which it was available exclusively in theaters until hitting PVOD a month before its traditional home video run.

The Blu-ray edition of Warner’s latest “Wonder Woman” adventure includes more than 90 minutes of bonus materials, consisting of a number of detailed behind-the-scenes featurettes and a few fun extras for the fans.

The best is the aforementioned 1970s tie-in, presenting footage from WW84 in the style of the 1970s “Wonder Woman” TV series, complete with the original theme song and animated transitions — and it’s also the first time we get to see Gadot do the classic “Wonder Woman spin.”

Among the other amusing extras are a six-and-a-half-minute gag reel and the raw minute-and-a-half footage from Max Lord’s in-movie “Black Gold” infomercial.

A couple more focus on the teaming of Gadot and Wiig: There’s a five-minute video about them starring together, which leads to a minute-long clip of the pair goofing around on set in the form of a “Saturday Night Live”-style video sketch (no doubt Wiig’s comedy background contributed to this one).

The primary making-of documentary runs 36 minutes and gives a good overview of the production. Tying into this are two “Scene Study” featurettes: a five-minute video focused on the opening mall rescue scene and six-minutes exploring the Middle East truck chase. The most notable aspect to these videos is how dedicated the crew was to re-creating the 1980s — building out several levels of a vintage mall with fully stocked stores, and using old-school practical stunt-work with a minimal reliance on CGI.

The rest of the footage deals with the making of the scenes at the amazonian island. There’s a 21-minute “Meet the Amazons” virtual panel from DC Fandome featuring discussions with director Patty Jenkins and a number of the women and stunt performers who played Amazonian warriors participating in the elaborate games sequences that open the film. Rounding out the presentation is an 11-minute profile of actress Lilly Aspell, who reprises her role as the pre-teen Diana from the 2017 film. The featurette includes some cute audition footage of the enthusiastic Aspell from 2015, showing off how well she makes for a younger version of Gadot.

Originally published as a streaming review Dec. 28, 2020.

DEG Panel: Transactional Business Still Hardy — and Poised for Takeoff

Despite being squeezed by the pandemic, the transactional business is still sturdy and is poised to take off once new releases in the pipeline grow from a trickle to a steady stream.

That’s according to Galen Smith, CEO of Redbox, and Eddie Cunningham, the former Universal Pictures Home Entertainment president who now runs Studio Distribution Services, the Universal-Warner Bros. disc distribution joint venture. The two executives spoke on a virtual DEG Expo panel March 24 moderated by Media Play News publisher and editorial director Thomas K. Arnold.

As industry pundits have observed, content in the transactional arena, which includes physical disc and digital purchases and rentals, dwarfs what consumers can find via subscription or other streaming services. That content has helped the transactional business survive recent jolts, the executives said.

Even the Blu-ray Disc and DVD business, which has been steadily declining for the last decade, remains a viable business, Cunningham said.

“In 2020 despite a pandemic and despite all the pressure of retail closures around the world … and pretty much no new releases after the first couple of months of the year — there’s still a $7 billion retail market, globally,” Cunningham said of the disc business.

“Obviously the last few months, there haven’t been that many new releases. But as that starts to come back in the second half of this year I think you’re going to see a real resurgence,” Smith added, noting that Redbox, with kiosk rentals driven by new releases, is looking forward to a more consistent flow of new content.

Cunningham said he’s been getting a similar message from the big retailers.

“Everybody’s incredibly excited about the new releases starting to come back into this business,” he said. “And I think we feel good about the fact that the big retailers … seem very, very committed to this category. We’ve got new titles every single week. We spend marketing money. We drive people into stores. We introduce fun. We introduce theater into the stores. … So a lot of them are pretty excited about us getting back into the new-release business. … Maybe we could even find a way of sort of growing this [physical] business or certainly hugely flattening the decline over the next year or two after the numbers we made during the pandemic.”

In the meantime, Cunningham said catalog has been picking up the slack, with such series as “Harry Potter,” “Game of Thrones,” “The Office” and even children’s stalwart “Curious George” selling well despite streaming availability.

“If content is available on subscription services, you can still sell a lot of content physically on those same franchises,” Cunningham noted.

“Then there’s a huge amount, about 40% of consumers, who’ve never ever until this day ever transacted digitally, so they’re a huge target for us,” he said, adding “I think physical’s going to be around for a long time to come.”

The disc rental business, which Redbox dominates with thousands of kiosks in the United States, is here to stay as well, added Smith.

“We obviously have a view that it’s going to be sustainable for the long term,” he said. “It’s a great value to consumers. It’s incredibly convenient. … The fact that we’ve got 41,000 kiosks around the U.S. really helps with that. I think what we’ve been able to do is augment that experience. We’ve got this massive loyalty program with over 37 million people in it, and so we’re rewarding them for behavior and then rewarding them with things like free content and so it gives up a great opportunity for us to reinforce that value ecosystem.”

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Redbox marketing makes sure to let consumers know when new releases are available and doesn’t discriminate between the different ways a consumer might access content. The company offers consumers both physical and digital transaction options, letting them choose.

“We’re communicating with them on a regular basis in terms of what are those [new release] movies, and again, however you want to watch it, physically or digitally, we can be there to serve you with that,” he said.

Even though the company is offering a digital alternative, physical transactions aren’t suffering, Smith noted.

“Even when our customers started to transact digitally, it didn’t mean they stopped transacting physically,” he said. “They actually started transacting physically more. It reminded them again of all these great new movies that are available.”

As head of the disc distribution joint venture, Cunningham said he’s tasked with creating efficiencies and providing a focus on the physical business. The joint venture’s mantra is “two plus two equals five,” to make a bigger whole from the combined parts, he said.

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“The coming together of Universal and Warner and other third-party distribution partners is going to enable us to do things like share boxes coming out of Technicolor, which in turn saves a lot of in-store labor, transport costs and so on,” he said. “I think we’re in a position to start maybe talking a bit more again about some front-of-store displays in some of these big retailers where we’ve lost that.”

Two plus two equals five also means finding ways to leverage the studios’ combined content.

“Over the next year or 18 months you’re going to see some amazing things coming out of [the joint venture],” Cunningham said. “There’s going to be huge opportunities on Middle Earth, DC, Bond, classic monsters. It’s actually the 90th anniversary of Dracula coming up, so we’ve got an opportunity around anniversaries. ‘Fast and Furious,’ ‘Jurassic,’ ‘Dune,’ ‘Halloween,’ there are huge opportunities to draft off these kinds of things.”

He also envisioned boxed sets of titles from different studios as an added bonus for consumers.

“We’re going to work incredibly hard to see how we can put the two studios’ content promotions together and make something bigger,” he said.

Redbox, too, is looking to combine the advantages of different businesses. In addition to its digital and physical transactional offerings, the company also has ad-supported streaming and even a content acquisition and production arm.

“In terms of Redbox Entertainment, we have a ton of data obviously about what actors work, what genres work, and so what we want to do is say, ‘OK, we’re seeing a little less product from the studios, let’s go ahead and buy it, acquire it, produce it ourselves,’” Smith said. “We’re basically making sure that we program to our consumers what we know they are going to want. And we’re agnostic so we’re releasing it across all the digital retailers and then we’re actually selling it to streamers as well on the backend. We just want to make sure there’s good content made for consumers.”

Hollywood Mourns Death of Beloved Publicist Ronnee Sass

Veteran Hollywood publicist Ronnee Sass, who left her mark on home entertainment through lavish release campaigns for classic Warner Bros. movies such as Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz — and an engaging, ebullient personality that made her a favorite among talent and journalists alike — died March 20 at the age of 72 after a battle with leukemia.

She is survived by her husband of 23 years, Evan Diner, a brother and two nieces.

See also: Remembering Ronnee Sass in pictures

Acclaimed director Richard Donner (The Omen, Superman, The Goonies, Lethal Weapon) said of Ms. Sass, “In all my years at Warner’s, many of the brightest days were dealing with Ronnee Sass, because she cared for the people as much as the project. And she cared for both a tremendous amount.”

Ms. Sass began her home entertainment career at what was then Warner Home Video in 1995, after working in film distribution and co-founding an independent PR and advertising agency in Baltimore — Wolff, Freed and Greenberg.

Ronnee Sass

For most of her Warner Bros. career, Ms. Sass’ focus was on publicizing the studio’s rich library. Over the next 20 years Ms. Sass was instrumental in big anniversary campaigns for such storied classics as Citizen Kane, Gone With the Wind, Singin’ in the Rain, Casablanca, Blade Runner and The Wizard of Oz. She even brought the surviving Munchkins to Beverly Hills for a gala DVD release party for the latter film’s 65th anniversary in 2004 — and to New York five years later for the movie’s 70th anniversary release, a campaign that included a nationwide balloon tour. In January 2006 Sass was promoted from executive director of publicity and promotion to the newly created position of VP of publicity and promotion for theatrical catalog, under Jeff Baker.

“She was the best, most passionate, most beloved publicist in the history of home entertainment, up there with my friend Fritz Friedman from Sony,” Baker recalls. “You lived to see and experience her persona — what a woman! While many of our projects and events were worth covering, Ronnee took them to new heights and the press was never disappointed as she always delivered.”

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Other former colleagues of Ms. Sass agree.

“Ronnee was a consummate professional, working across the industry to bring the Warner Bros. library to fans everywhere,” said Jim Wuthrich, president of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. “But more importantly, she was a ray of sunshine, always smiling, lighting up any room she entered. She will be missed.”

“Ronnee had multiple talents that included the professional characteristics of an excellent journalist, and a unique forte in relating to people of all walks of life, from the most important celebrity to the average person,” said former Warner Home Video president Warren Lieberfarb, the father of DVD. “She will be missed, but always remembered.”

Ron Sanders, a longtime Warner Bros. executive who most recently served the studio as president of worldwide theatrical distribution while remaining president of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, said, “Ronnee was that rarest of breeds who was so effortlessly good at solving the communications crisis of the moment, while being a genuinely wonderful human being. She always had a smile or a laugh and made all of us enjoy life more.”

Ronnee Lynn Sass was born in Baltimore, Md., on May 26, 1948. She graduated from Pikesville High School in Baltimore and went on to attend the University of Maryland, College Park. In the early 1980s she worked in film distribution for studio field agencies in Baltimore.

“I first met her in 1982,” said publicist Carl Samrock, who worked for Warner Bros. from 1982 to 1997. “I remember her incredible personality, her ability to relate to people — she just had this way about her, and when I had my own agency between 1997 and 2017, she was our first client. It was just amazing the way she dealt with people like Clint Eastwood, Dick Donner and Billy Friedkin.

“I still remember an event with Warren Beatty — we took a picture of Ronnee with Warren and hung it up on our wall with the caption, Ronnee and Clyde.”

After she left her Baltimore agency and joined Warner Bros., Ms. Sass initially handled aspects of the studio’s theatrical Oscar campaigns. Each year, publicity team members throughout the department would be assigned to staff the broadcast/event, and the Warner costume department would lend out dresses for the women and suits, if needed, for the men.

Ms. Sass left Warner Bros. in 2014.

As word of her death spread, tributes flowed in to her Facebook page, many from the home entertainment community.

Amy Jo Smith, president and CEO of DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, wrote, “Ronnee’s smile could light up any room. Such a wonderful and lovely person. She will be missed by all but never forgotten.”

Smith was at Warner Bros. in 1997 when DVD was launched and the DEG was founded as the DVD Entertainment Group.

Producer-director Chris Roe, who has produced documentaries on “Creepshow” and The Night of the Living Dead and currently represents legendary actor Malcolm McDowell, wrote a lengthy tribute to Sass.

“Words cannot express the extreme sadness I feel at this time after learning that my good friend Ronnee Sass passed away today,” Roe wrote. “Ronnee was an extremely extraordinary human being. She was the best publicist I ever worked with. We became very close friends during A Clockwork Orange’s 40th anniversary activities for Warner Bros. 10 years ago.

“Ronnee was a force of nature. … In a business where so many go out of their way to brag about how good they are, Ronnee simply showed her brilliance through her thoughtfulness, creativity and work. She had a fierce work ethic. She would work around the clock to get things perfect. … She was a shining example of excellence in her profession.”

Karen Penhale, a longtime associate of Samrock, wrote that Ms. Sass “was a stellar publicist for Warner Bros. who led us through countless amazing and successful publicity campaigns for all of the studio’s great classics. We worked hard, traveled together, laughed, cried, got yelled at by some talent and applauded by others and became dear friends in the process. Having worked with many of the best film directors in Hollywood, we were looking forward to lots of lunches in the future to remember all our great adventures together. I will miss her as will so many, many others as her friends and family now do. RIP dear friend, RIP.”

Ms. Sass was an avid gardener, creating elaborate flower arrangements and centerpieces whenever she could.

In addition to Mr. Diner, Ms. Sass is survived by her brother, Steven, of Baltimore, and nieces Lauren Sass Jacobson of Baltimore and Felicia Greenfield of New York City.

A private family service will be held, followed by a celebration of Ms. Sass’s life, to be scheduled at a later, safer date. Donations in her memory may be made to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Imax Extending Warner’s ‘Tenet’ Theatrical Run

Imax March 22 announced it would extend the current theatrical run of Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi thriller Tenet until March 30, following 3D screen debuts in New York and Los Angeles with more than 30 sold out shows.

Shot using a mixture of Imax and 70mm film, Tenet debuted on four Imax screens New York on March 12 and another eight screens in Los Angeles on March 19 — pushing the film’s total Imax gross to $42.2 million since its initial release in August 2020.

Filming ‘Tenet’ in 70mm Imax digital

The extended run includes the exclusive 70mm presentation at AMC Lincoln Square and at AMC Universal City, as well as its “Imax with Laser” presentation across locations in New York and Los Angeles until March 30.

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Since last weekend, Tenet has sold out Imax screenings at five of eight Southern California locations on both Friday and Saturday night prime performances, including AMC Century City, Burbank, Universal City, Norwalk, and Ontario Mills. Both New York and Los Angeles theaters currently are limited to 25% capacity.

MOD Service Allied Vaughn Releases First 4K Ultra HD Title, Warner’s ‘Batman v Superman’

Manufacture-on-demand service Allied Vaughn is bowing its first 4K Ultra HD title, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice — Ultimate Edition, March 23.

The extended cut of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice includes 30 more minutes of story and action not seen in theaters. The disc set also includes the theatrical version of the film and more than two hours of bonus content.

Directed by Zack Snyder, the film stars Ben Affleck as Batman/Bruce Wayne and Henry Cavill as Superman/Clark Kent in the characters’ first big-screen pairing. Fearing the actions of a god-like superhero left unchecked, Gotham City’s own formidable vigilante takes on Metropolis’s most revered, modern-day savior, while the world wrestles with what sort of hero it really needs. With Batman and Superman at war with one another, a new threat quickly arises, putting mankind in greater danger than it’s ever known before.

This new edition of the “Ultimate Cut,” which was released on Blu-ray in 2016, has been remastered by Snyder to include scenes shot for Imax screens in a 4:3 ratio rather than the cropped 16:9 for most widescreen TVs. This will better match it to Snyder’s footage for his upcoming four-hour director’s cut of 2017’s Justice League which premieres on HBO Max March 18. The remastered BvS — Ultimate Cut also arrives on HBO Max March 18.

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