Ron Sanders Exits WarnerMedia, After Storied Career, in Management Reorganization

Veteran Warner Bros. Home Entertainment executive Ron Sanders is among a group of key executives who are leaving the company in the wake of a management restructuring implemented by new WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar.

Sanders, president of Warner Bros. worldwide theatrical distribution, and president of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, has been an integral part of the studio’s retail management for nearly 30 years.

Sanders joins Jeffrey Schlesinger and Kim Williams as the latest high-profile executives among a reported 600 employees let go following the Aug. 7 departure of Bob Greenblatt and Kevin Reilly.

The latest cuts were first reported by The Wrap.

Sanders was named president of worldwide distribution for the entire motion picture group in January 2018, retaining his responsibilities as home entertainment chief. In that role, which he assumed in 2013, he oversaw the global distribution of home entertainment products from Warner Bros. Pictures Group, Warner Bros. Television Group and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. He was also responsible for the studio’s video game publishing business, and helped build WBHE into the industry’s largest digital distributor of films and TV shows through VOD and EST.

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“Ron is an exemplary executive and Warner Bros. was lucky to have him as one of their senior leaders for so long,” said Amy Jo Smith, president and CEO of DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, where Sanders had held several key leadership roles, including chair. “Ron played a key role in guiding and growing DEG and we will also be grateful for his involvement, his support and his scruples. He’s such a good guy.”

Sanders joined what was then Warner Home Video in 1991 and learned the business from some of the most talented executives of the day, led by then-division president Warren Lieberfarb.

“I hired Ron from Procter & Gamble, where he was a regional sales manager, and nurtured his growth,” said Warren Lieberfarb, hailed as the “father” of DVD. “I promoted him over the years, and he was eminently qualified. I am sure the future will offer him many more opportunities.”

According to a column by Media Play News publisher and editorial director Thomas K. Arnold, “The 1990s were a remarkable time in home entertainment: We saw the rise of sellthrough, the development of direct sales and, of course, the launch of DVD, birthed at Warner by Lieberfarb and his team. … Anyone who knows Ron Sanders, who has worked alongside him, knows how incredibly hard it is to dislike him. When he says something, he means it. When he makes a promise, he follows through. He looks you in the eyes when he speaks to you; he is passionate about the industry, about Warner Bros., about business, about life.”

Sanders ran Warner’s rental business during the tumultuous mid-1990s period of consolidation and copy-depth incentives. He moved into consumer sales just as DVD was taking off and in July 1998 was sent to London as managing director of the United Kingdom and Ireland divisions. A year and a half later, he was promoted to head of the entire EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) region, overseeing Warner’s home video operations in 28 territories.

He returned to the United States in 2002 and was appointed president of Warner Home Video in October 2005. In May 2013 he was named president of Warner Bros. Worldwide Home Entertainment Distribution, with oversight of the global distribution of home entertainment products from Warner Bros. Pictures, Warner Bros. Television, and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (WBIE).

“Throughout this well-deserved rise, Sanders has remained remarkably grounded,” Arnold wrote in his column. “He and I used to swap stories about chauffeuring our kids to soccer games. … Mindful of his experience living with his family in London, Sanders endowed a study abroad program at his alma mater, Auburn University, where he also served on the Harbert College of Business Advisory Council.”

Disc Puts ‘Birds of Prey’ Atop U.K. Film Chart

With scant new releases due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Warner Home Video’s Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn re-entered the U.K.’s Official Film Chart in the No. 1 position for the first time for the week ended June 24 following its release on 4K UHD Blu-ray Disc, Blu-ray and DVD.

Originally peaking at No. 3 from its digital release in April, the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) standalone sequel to 2016’s Suicide Squad stars Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and chronicles the character’s adventures after splitting up with the Joker. Quinn teams up with superheroes Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and tough cop Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) to save a young girl being targeted by nefarious crime lord Roman Sionis/The Black Mask (Ewan McGregor).

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Universal Pictures’ Dolittle moved up to the No. 2 spot, ahead of eOne’s 1917. The Personal History of David Copperfield (Lionsgate U.K.) jumped 20 spots to No. 4. Set in the 1840s, this modernistic adaptation of Charles Dickens’ semi-autobiographical classic was written and directed by Armando Ianucci and stars Dev Patel as the eponymous character.

The previous week’s No. 1 release, Sonic the Hedgehog (Paramount Pictures) fell to fifth, ahead of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s perennial Top 10 placer Bad Boys for Life. Animated feature Onward (Disney) dropped to seventh, just ahead of Disney/Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which returned to the Top 10 in eighth position.

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Disc also helped Disney/Fox’s The Call of the Wild re-enter the chart in ninth, while Sony Pictures’ Jumanji: The Next Level remained in the Top 10 for the 12th straight week.

‘It: Chapter Two,’ ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ Debut Atop Disc Sales Charts

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment’s It: Chapter Two debuted at No. 1 on both the NPD VideoScan First Alert chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc units sales, and the dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart the week ended Dec. 14.

The second part of the adaptation of the popular Stephen King Novel focuses on the adult versions of the characters shown fighting the fear monster in 2017’s It: Chapter One. The film earned $211.6 million at the domestic box office.

A collection of both films was No. 18 on the overall sales chart and No. 14 on the Blu-ray chart.

Sony Pictures’ Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was a close No. 2 on both charts, selling 74% as many total copies as the horror sequel, and 86% as many Blu-rays. The latest film from Quentin Tarantino, which re-creates Hollywood in 1969, earned $141 million from U.S. theaters.

The previous week’s top seller, HBO’s Game of Thrones: The Complete Eighth Season, slipped to No. 3 on both charts.

The No. 4 overall seller and No. 5 on the Blu-ray chart was Disney’s Toy Story 4.

Universal Pictures’ Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw was no. 5 overall and No. 4 on the Blu-ray chart.

A third newcomer, Universal’s Hustlers, was No. 7 on both charts. The film, based on the true story of a team of strippers who conspire to rip off their Wall Street clients, earned $105 million at the domestic box office.

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Blu-ray Disc formats accounted for 63% of total It: Chapter Two sales compared with 72% for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and 52% for Hustlers. The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc format accounted for 15% of It: Chapter Two‘s total, 21% for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and 7% for Hustlers.

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On the Media Play News rental chart for the week ended Dec. 15, It: Chapter Two was No. 1, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was No. 2, and Hustlers was No. 3.

The previous week’s top rental, Lionsgate’s Angel Has Fallen, was No. 4, while Fox’s Ready or Not was No. 5.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 12-14-19
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 12-15-19
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 12-14-19
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 12-14-19
Sales Report for Week Ended 12-14-19
Digital Sales Snapshot for Week Ended 12-16-19

TCM to Celebrate Doris Day With 24-Hour Movie Marathon

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will celebrate the life and career of actress, singer and animal activist Doris Day with a 24-hour, 13-film tribute June 9.

Day, who passed away May 13 at the age of 97, started her career as a singer. Her first hit was 1945’s “Sentimental Journey,” which was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998. In 2008, the Recording Academy honored her with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for her “outstanding artistic significance to the field of recording.”

She went on to become one of the biggest film stars of the 1950’s and 60’s, starring in 39 movies and earning an Academy Award nomination for Pillow Talk (1959) with Rock Hudson. Day had a lifelong love of pets and founded the Doris Day Animal Foundation in 1978.

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Day’s movies are also available DVD, including “TCM Greatest Classic Legends Film Collection: Doris Day,” and “Doris Day: The Essential Collection,” both from Warner Home Video. And “The Doris Day Show: The Complete Series,” from MPI Video.

TCM Remembers Doris Day schedule – June 9

6:00 a.m. Romance on the High Seas (1948)- A singer on a Caribbean cruise gets mixed up in a series of romantic problems.

8:00 a.m. My Dream is Yours (1949) – A talent scout turns a young unknown into a radio singing star.

10:00 a.m. Tea for Two (1950) – An heiress has to say no to every question for 24 hours if she wants to star on Broadway.

11:45 a.m. On Moonlight Bay (1951)– A small-town tomboy falls for the boy-next-door in the years before World War I.

1:30 p.m. Carson on TCM: Doris Day (1976)– Doris Day joined Johnny to discuss why she decided to set the record straight about her life and write her autobiography. She shot down her screen image as a virgin (which she found boring), revealed why she never wanted to be an actress, and why she thought that couples should live together before marriage.

1:45 p.m. Love Me or Leave Me (1955)– True story of torch singer Ruth Etting’s struggle to escape the gangster who made her a star.

4:00 p.m. Calamity Jane (1953)– The Wild West heroine helps bring a star attraction to Deadwood and finds love.

6:00 p.m. Please Don’t Eat the Daisies (1960) – A drama critic and his family try to adjust to life in the country.

8:00 p.m. Pillow Talk (1959) – A man and woman carry their feud over the telephone line they share into their real lives.

10:00 p.m. Lover Come Back (1961) – An ad exec in disguise courts his pretty female competitor.

12:00 a.m. Move Over Darling (1963) – Five years after a woman disappeared in the sea after a plane crash, her husband remarries and sets off to be with the new wife only to be confronted by the woman he had pronounced legally dead.

2:00 a.m. The Glass Bottom Boat (1966) – A woman writing a scientist’s biography is mistaken for a spy.

4:00 a.m. Julie (1956)– A stewardess is stalked by her psychotic estranged husband.

Director John Singleton Movies Live On at Retail

Pioneering director John Singleton, who died April 29 at age 51 after suffering a stroke last week, was the first African American (and youngest) nominated for an Academy Award for 1991 seminal hit, Boyz in the Hood.

Filmed in South Central Los Angeles where Singleton grew up, the teen hood drama starred Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr., Morris Chestnut, Laurence Fishburne, Nia Long, Regina King and Angela Bassett.

The movie, which was the acting debut for Ice Cube and Chestnut, was selected for preservation by the U.S. Library of Congress in the National Film Registry.

Singleton’s theatrical movies — spearheaded by 2 Fast 2 Furious in 2003 (Universal Pictures) — generated nearly $780 million in global ticket sales when adjusted for inflation.

2 Furious, sequel to original The Fast and the Furious (2001) was Singleton’s top-grossing international release — in addition to home entertainment seller.

The Universal Pictures Home Entertainment title featuring the late Paul Walker and Tyrese Gibson, sold about $6 million combined DVD/Blu-ray Disc units, according to The-Numbers.com.

Other home video releases include Four Brothers, Baby Boy, Poetic Justice, Higher Learning, Abduction and Shaft.

Four Brothers, starring Mark Wahlberg, Gibson, Andre Benjamin and Garrett Hedlund, was released on disc by Warner Home Video in 2005.

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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in 2012 released “The John Singleton 4-Movie Collection” combo pack on DVD featuring Higher Learning, Baby Boy, Boyz n the Hood and Poetic Justice.

Paramount Home Media Distribution released Singleton’s Shaft reboot, starring Samuel L. Jackson, in 2000 on DVD and later on Blu-ray Disc.

Paramount included the title in a 3-Pack titled “Samuel L. Jackson Ultimate Collection,” also featuring Coach Carter and Rules of Engagement.

Lionsgate released Abduction, starring Taylor Lautner and Lily Collins, on disc in 2012.

 John Singleton — Hollywood’s Best Film Directors from documentarian David Freydt is available on Amazon Prime Video.