‘Scoob!’ Surges in Home-Viewing Demand After Blu-ray Disc, DVD Release

The animated Scoob! debuted at No. 2  on the weekly “Watched at Home” chart the week ended July 25, with demand for the film skyrocketing in the wake of its release on Blu-ray Disc, 4K Ultra HD and DVD.

The Warner Bros. film was the first full-length animated Scooby-Doo movie intended for theatrical release, but with the mid-March closure of theaters due to the COVID-19 pandemic the film instead debuted digitally, on premium VOD and EST, on May 15.

Another rerouted animated movie, Trolls World Tour, from DreamWorks Animation, remained at No. 1 for the fourth consecutive week on the “Watched at Home” chart, which  tracks transactional video activity compiled from studio and retailer data through DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.

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Scoob! was available for streaming on the new HBO Max SVOD service prior to its release on physical media.

Paramount’s three seasons of “Yellowstone” again rounded out the top five.

With no new theatrical product entering the home entertainment pipeline, home viewing demand remains high for recent high-profile feature films such as Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog, Universal Pictures’ The Invisible Man and Sony Pictures Jumanji: The Next Level, which finished at Nos. 7, 8 and 9, respectively.

Another PVOD release, Universal Pictures’ The High Note, starring Dakota Johnson and Tracee Ellis Ross, debuted at No. 10 after its release through regular digital channels. The film becomes available on Blu-ray Disc and DVD on Aug. 11.

Also new to the chart: Lionsgate’s Capone, a multi-platform release about the notorious gangster Al Capone (No. 18), and the British science-fiction film Archive, released digitally to home audiences by Vertical Entertainment (No. 20).

  1. Trolls World Tour (Universal/DreamWorks)
  2. Scoob! (Warner Bros.)
  3. Yellowstone: Season 1 (Paramount)
  4. Yellowstone: Season 3 (Paramount)
  5. Yellowstone: Season 2 (Paramount)
  6. The Outpost (Screen Media)
  7. Sonic the Hedgehog (Paramount)
  8. The Invisible Man (Universal)
  9. Jumanji: The Next Level (Sony)
  10. The High Note (Universal)
  11. Force of Nature (Lionsgate)
  12. Bad Boys for Life (Sony)
  13. Bloodshot (Sony)
  14. Batman Beyond: Seasons 1-3 (Warner)
  15. Harry Potter: The Complete 8-Film Collection (Warner)
  16. Birds of Prey (Warner)
  17. The Hunt (Universal)
  18. Capone (Lionsgate)
  19. Fantasy Island (Sony Pictures)
  20. Archive (Vertical)

 

Source: DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group
Includes U.S. digital sales, digital rentals, and DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD sales for the week ended July 25

Comic-Con@Home Panel Plumbs the Depths of Shooting Underwater in ‘Deep Blue Sea 3’

There were several challenges when making the third installment in the “Deep Blue Sea” feature franchise, including overcoming the usual difficulties with shooting on water (a la Steven Spielberg’s legendary struggles with Jaws) and coming up with a new premise that didn’t involve an underwater lab, as the two previous movies had.

Global warming came to the rescue on the script. Screenwriter Dirk Blackman did some research on small islands sinking as the oceans rise and had a moment of inspiration.

“I thought, ‘Let’s sink the town,’” he said during a July 24 online panel at Comic-Con@Home for the July 28 digital and Aug. 25 Blu-ray combo pack and DVD release of Deep Blue Sea 3 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

The film follows Dr. Emma Collins and her team, who are spending the summer on a sinking island studying the effect of climate change on great white sharks. Their routine is disrupted when a team led by her ex-boyfriend and marine biologist Richard shows up looking for three rogue bull sharks.

Director John Pogue discussed the logistics of shooting four major underwater action sequences at the South African location.

“We figured out a way to be 360 with our water set so that we could have all of the sets gathered around this cove and most of the rest of everything else was made up digitally,” he said.

The underwater scenes got an assist from some professionals.

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“There are so many additional safely issues with shooting around water, from what can happen with electricity to people falling in, so safety was paramount,” Pogue said. “We were very fortunate in that we had this incredible South African team called the Frog Squad that do underwater projects all over the world. They are essentially South African SEALs that also make movies.”

The actors spent time training and getting scuba certified before the shoot, noted Emerson Brooks, who plays Shaw, a sort of brother/father figure for Emma.

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“I think all the training that we did, all the real underwater experience … that really added to it, that put you in it, certainly,” added Tania Raymonde (Emma).

The water in the winter in South Africa was cold, and “we were always wet, always wet,” she recalled.

Shooting in water posed challenges for the director as well.

“I think about 30 % of the time it went as planned— so many things would break,” Pogue said. “The communication underwater is super challenging. You’re basically talking to 20 people with a giant underwater megaphone that no one can really understand.”

Mumbling like the teacher a “Charlie Brown” special, Nathaniel Buzolic (Richard) demonstrated what the actors could hear underwater.

“There was this underwater megaphone that looked like something from the Victorian era, which is like a box with a string on it that was threaded all the way down into the water,” added Raymonde. “Once you suit up and you’ve got your regulator and they make sure you’ve got air in the tank and check all your levels and you’ve got everything on and you go under, it’s kind of a pain to get back up to the surface, take everything off, go get notes from John and come back in. So once we were in the tank and underwater, we were pretty much underwater and stuck and that was it. … And when you’re under there, you don’t hear anything because your regulator is so loud. Every time you take a breath there are bubbles everywhere, you can’t hear anything.”

The Frog Squad helped interpret by using a sort of “sign language,” she said.

“[The process] definitely influenced the tone of the movie in that there’s a more realistic as opposed to a controlled, stylized feel to the movie, where we’re trying to sort of use those happy accidents that happen as a result of this chaos,” Pogue said.

He credited the cast for being game to go the extra mile in shooting the action sequences.

“During the casting process, one of the things that we talked about was, given the resources that we’ve got, that you’re going to have to do your own diving and your own stunts,” he recalled. Deep Blue Sea 3 wasn’t “one of those movies where we just sort of stop everything and bring in your double,” he said.

“In many of the key sequences, it was very important that we see your faces, we see you experiencing what’s happening in the action,” he said.

Bren Foster, a martial arts expert who plays Lucas, noted the action on land was equally intense.

“You kind of bring it above the water, and all hell breaks loose,” he said.

Inspired by another shark movie The Deep, screenwriter Blackman added a fight.

“I don’t expect to see a fight, necessarily, in a shark movie, so we have a fight,” he said.

‘Scoob!’ Rolling Out Internationally in July Via Theatrical and Premium In-Home Release

Warner Bros. Pictures will roll out Scoob! internationally via a combination of theatrical exhibition and premium in-home release through premium VOD and premium digital ownership.

The international theatrical release will begin on July 8 in France, Holland and Switzerland, with additional countries rolling out over the summer months.

Premium home offerings will begin on July 1 in Australia and New Zealand.

With theaters closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the animated Scoob! debuted for both rental via PVOD and for digital ownership in the U.S. and Canada May 15. The film is now the No. 2 digital release of all time and the No. 1 digital release for Warner Bros., according to the studio. Scoob! June 26 became available in the U.S. on WarnerMedia’s recently launched streaming service HBO Max.

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“Our decision to release Scoob! as an in-home offering in May came during an unprecedented time in history, and we are delighted by the success of the film and the way it was embraced by long-time fans of this iconic character, families and children,” said Ron Sanders, president of worldwide theatrical distribution and home entertainment, and EVP of international business operations for Warner. “Following its strong domestic debut, our international strategy will combine both theatrical and in-home releases to make it easily accessible to worldwide audiences.”

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The film, which will be released on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray July 21 in the U.S., recounts the meeting of Scooby-Doo and his best pal Shaggy, and how they joined with young detectives Fred, Velma and Daphne to form Mystery Inc. Now, after hundreds of adventures, Scooby and the gang encounter the larger world of the Hanna-Barbera universe, teaming with Blue Falcon and Dynomutt to stop Dick Dasterdly from unleashing the legendary ghost dog Cerberus upon the world. The voice cast includes Will Forte, Mark Wahlberg, Jason Isaacs, Gina Rodriguez, Zac Efron, Amanda Seyfried, Kiersey Clemons, Ken Jeong, Tracy Morgan, Simon Cowell and Frank Welker.

Wuthrich: Transactional Spending Surged 38% After Stay-at-Home Orders Took Effect

The growth in the home entertainment and games businesses have been “one of the few bright spots” in the COVID-19 pandemic, said Jim Wuthrich, president of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and Games.

Wuthrich, speaking at the virtually presented DEG Expo April 16, presented numbers “live from my son’s bedroom” to introduce the expo.

“I feel very fortunate to have a job that allows me to work from home, and one that brings a little bit of joy to people sheltering at home during this crisis,” he said.

He presented numbers from Warner research showing the growth in home entertainment spending after stay-at-home orders took effect.

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“Pre leading up to that period, home entertainment spending overall from a transactional standpoint was down about 5% in total consumer spend,” he said. “Since March 14, that mid-March time frame, home entertainment transactional spending is now up 38%.”

Jim Wuthrich, live from his home

The growth took off in triple-digit percentages as the pandemic measures took effect.

“Our digital sellthrough business as an industry — which we call EST here at Warner Bros. — it’s been up over 100% each week since safer at home began.”

Physical, too, has seen a lift, Wuthrich said.

“Physical has continued to be challenged, but it’s interesting that now even in this environment, with stores that are closing and such, physical has shown great resiliency,” he said. “Since post safer at home, the physical business has been trending stronger than what it was doing prior to that.

“We just had a title launch this week, Just Mercy, in physical and we actually did better than what we had been planning. I had to ask the team did we correct it for a post-COVID world and we hadn’t. The fact that people are still in stores shopping for the essentials at Walmart, Target and Best Buy has been helpful in holding up the physical. And of course Amazon and the online retailers have all done well in that space.”

Wuthrich noted that the pandemic has had effect on what titles consumers are watching.

“The top catalog title for the industry year to date is a title that many of you may have watched yourself. It became a bit of a cultural swelling, and that movie is Contagion,” he said. “The movie’s been out for a number of years, but obviously a lot of interest in it. It’s uncanny how it kind of mimics what’s going on in the real world today. That is actually outselling our ‘Harry Potter’ collection, Jumanji, Avengers: Endgame, World War Z. So basically people are binging on franchise and apocalypse movies.”

Wuthrich stressed how important theaters are to the overall business.

“It’s really unfortunate that theaters had to close because of the crisis, and we are looking forward to when we can get the theaters back in business. I just want to comment on that,” he said. “This is all an ecosystem, and it’s a very important ecosystem, having theaters open, driving people into theaters, eventizing films and providing the traditional windows that come from that. So that fact that the theaters are closed is a big hit to our business. We’re looking forward to getting back into business with our exhibition partners.”

Still, home entertainment and games have helped stem the losses in theatrical revenue, he noted.

“Games and home entertainment, increases in those businesses have nearly offset the loss of what we’ve seen in the industry from moviegoing,” Wuthrich said. “So there’s a lot of growth happening in entertainment and games.”

‘Gretel & Hansel’ Coming to Digital April 7, Disc May 5 From Warner

Gretel & Hansel arrives on digital April 7 and Blu-ray and DVD May 5 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Directed by Osgood Perkins, the film is a terrifying reimagining of the Brothers Grimm fairytale for a new generation: a long time ago in a distant fairy tale countryside, a young girl leads her little brother into a dark wood in desperate search for food and work, only to stumble upon a nexus of terrifying evil.

The film stars Sophia Lillis (It) as Gretel, newcomer Samuel J. Leakey as Hansel and Alice Krige (Star Trek: First Contact) as the witch.

The film made $22 million at the global box office.

The Blu-ray and DVD include the “Storybook” special feature.

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Drama ‘Just Mercy’ Coming to Home Video From Warner

The drama Just Mercy, based on a true story, arrives on digital March 24 and Blu-ray and DVD April 14 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Michael B. Jordan (Creed, Black Panther) and Oscar winners Jamie Foxx (Ray, Baby Driver, Django: Unchained) and Brie Larson (Room, Short Term 12, Captain Marvel) star in the story of young lawyer Bryan Stevenson and his history-making battle for justice. After graduating from Harvard, Bryan (Jordan) has his pick of lucrative jobs. Instead, he heads to Alabama to defend those wrongly condemned or who were not afforded proper representation, with the support of local advocate Eva Ansley (Larson). One of his first, and most incendiary, cases is that of Walter McMillian (Foxx), who, in 1987, was sentenced to die for the notorious murder of an 18-year-old girl, despite a preponderance of evidence proving his innocence and the fact that the main testimony against him came from a criminal with a motive to lie. In the years that follow, Bryan becomes embroiled in a labyrinth of legal and political maneuverings, as well as overt and unabashed racism as he fights for Walter, and others like him, with the odds — and the system — stacked against them.

The film, which earned $45.1 million at the global box office, is directed by Destin Daniel Cretton (The Glass Castle, Short Term 12) from a screenplay he co-wrote, based on Bryan Stevenson’s bestselling memoir.

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The cast also includes Rob Morgan (Mudbound, TV’s “Stranger Things”) as Herbert Richardson, a fellow prisoner who also sits on death row awaiting his fate. Tim Blake Nelson (Wormwood, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs) as Ralph Myers, whose pivotal testimony against Walter McMillian is called into question. Rafe Spall (The Big Short, The Ritual) as Tommy Chapman, the district attorney who is fighting to uphold Walter’s conviction and sentence. O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Straight Outta Compton, Godzilla: King of the Monsters) as Anthony Ray Hinton, another wrongly convicted death row inmate whose cause is taken up by Bryan, and Karan Kendrick (The Hate U Give, Hidden Figures) as Walter’s wife, Minnie McMillian, who stands by her husband.

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Special features on Blu-ray include “Making Mercy,” “This Moment Deserves,” “The Equal Justice Initiative” and deleted scenes. The DVD includes “Making Mercy.”

(UPDATE 3-17-2020: Warner moved up the digital release date to March 17)

‘The Wizard of Oz’ 80th Anniversary 4K Release Is the Ultimate Makeover, Say Warner Execs

The Wizard of Oz has gotten a facelift for its 8oth birthday 4K debut, and it looks better than ever, according to Warner executives.

“Never before has a film this old been released in the 4K HDR format,” said George Feltenstein, SVP of theatrical catalog marketing at Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, during an Oct. 28 presentation about the restoration on the studio lot. “This is really a huge leap for our company, but it’s representative of the commitment we have for the finest presentation of one of our crown jewels.”

The 1939 classic is being released on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack and 4K digital Oct. 29. Directed by Victor Fleming and starring Judy Garland, The Wizard of Oz received five Academy Award nominations, two Oscars, Best Song (“Over the Rainbow”) and Best Original Score, plus a special award for Outstanding Juvenile Performance by Garland. Adapted from L. Frank Baum’s children’s tale about a Kansas girl’s journey over the rainbow, The Wizard of Oz also stars Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr and Jack Haley. The film appears on multiple AFI lists, and in 1989, was part of the inaugural group of films selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

The studio went back to the original three-strip negative (retrieved from storage at the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, N.Y.) to achieve clarity and color suitable for the new home entertainment format. The classic’s nitrate negative is stored offsite because of its flammability, and the Warner lot can only protect a limited amount of nitrate.

“You’ve heard the term, ‘Fire in a movie theater.’ That’s where it came from,” noted Bob Bailey, VP of operations and sales at Warner Bros. Motion Picture Imaging, which handled the new scan.

Warner improved on the 8K, 10 bit scan made 10 years ago for the Blu-ray HD release with an 8K, 16 bit scan and used updated technology.

“You’re going to see a panoply of colors that you could never see before, and yet it is faithful to what was captured on the negative in 1938 when the film was shot,” said Feltenstein.

The process was overseen by Warner Bros. Motion Picture Imaging colorist Janet Wilson, who has supervised every remaster of The Wizard of Oz for the past 20 years.

“With this format, I can have the full range of color that’s available to me in a Technicolor element,” said Wilson.

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As in the HD restoration, those working on the new version had to make judgment calls about when to remove wires that showed up in the more detailed picture, but they left in much of the original work, including the makeup details.

“That we left, we didn’t touch,” Wilson said. “Because part of the sort of handmade quality of this film is seeing some of those edges on the makeup, and some of those details you don’t want to obscure. You can see things like the burlap on the face of the Scarecrow and the rivets on the head of the Tinman. If you start smoothing out too many things you start to lose some of the details that are there that you want to preserve.”

Improvements in technology also allowed Wilson to better color correct complex scenes such as the move from sepia tone to color when Dorothy first opens the door to Oz.

“Some of the satisfaction doing it this time for me was that I had better tools, and I could see things better,” she said.

The result, Warner executives said, is a version of the film that stays true to the original while making it look fresh.

“I’d like to think that the people who made this film 80 years ago would see this and be amazed by what they see and see that their artistic work was recreated with reverence because we haven’t changed anything,” Feltenstein said. “We’ve just made it look better than it’s ever looked before.”

The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc will feature Dolby Vision HDR.

“It’s really unprecedented that a film of this age is being released using this cutting-edge state of the art technology,” said Feltenstein. “The disc right now is the highest form of quality of reproduction in the home. And unless you are in a Dolby Vision cinema, you can’t even see it look this good in a theater.”

Special features on the 4K Blu-ray disc include commentary by John Fricke with Barbara Freed-Saltzman, Margaret Hamilton, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, John Lahr, Jane Lahr, Hamilton Meserve, Dona Massin, William Tuttle, Buddy Ebsen, Mervyn LeRoy and Jerry Maren, as well as the 1990 CBS Special “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: The Making of a Movie Classic.”

Special features on the Blu-ray (included in the combo pack) include:

  • “The Making of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”;
  • “The Wonderful Wizard of OzStorybook” (narrated by Angela Lansbury);
  • “We Haven’t Really Met Properly: Frank Morgan”;
  • “We Haven’t Really Met Properly: Ray Bolger”;
  • “We Haven’t Really Met Properly: Bert Lahr”;
  • “We Haven’t Really Met Properly: Jack Haley”;
  • “We Haven’t Really Met Properly: Billie Burke”;
  • “We Haven’t Really Met Properly: Margaret Hamilton”;
  • “We Haven’t Really Met Properly: Charley Grapewin”;
  • “We Haven’t Really Met Properly: Clara Blandick”;
  • “We Haven’t Really Met Properly: Terry”;
  • a music and effects track;
  • the original mono track;
  • sing along tracks;
  • an audio jukebox;
  • the “Leo is on the Air” radio promo;
  • the “Good News of 1939” radio show;
  • the 12/25/1950 Lux radio broadcast;
  • stills galleries; and
  • trailers.

80-Year-Old ‘Wizard of Oz’ Gets Makeover for 4K

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment hosted a presentation on the studio lot Oct. 28 to talk about the restoration of The Wizard of Oz for the 4K UHD release. The studio went back to the three-strip Technicolor negative to restore the film in 8K, 16 bit resolution for the film’s 80th anniversary release.  The classic debuts Oct. 29 on 4K UHD with HDR, including Dolby Vision, on Blu-ray Disc and digital.

‘It: Chapter Two’ Stalks to Digital Nov. 19, Disc Dec. 10 Including 4K

The horror sequel It: Chapter Two will arrive on digital Nov. 19 and 4K UHD combo pack, Blu-ray combo pack and DVD Dec. 10 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Evil resurfaces in Derry as director Andy Muschietti reunites the Losers Club in a return to where it all began with the conclusion to the highest-grossing horror film of all time. The sequel made $209.9 million at the domestic box office.

It: Chapter Two, based on the novel by Stephen King, stars James McAvoy as Bill, Jessica Chastain as Beverly, Bill Hader as Richie, Isaiah Mustafa as Mike, Jay Ryan as Ben, James Ransone as Eddie and Andy Bean as Stanley. Reprising their roles as the original members of the Losers Club are Jaeden Martell as Bill, Wyatt Oleff as Stanley, Jack Dylan Grazer as Eddie, Finn Wolfhard as Richie, Sophia Lillis as Beverly, Chosen Jacobs as Mike and Jeremy Ray Taylor as Ben. Bill Skarsgård returns in the role of Pennywise.

In the sequel, set 27 years after the Losers Club defeated the shape-shifting clown Pennywise, he has returned to terrorize the town of Derry once more. Now adults, the Losers have long since gone their separate ways. However, people are disappearing again, so Mike, the only one of the group to remain in their hometown, calls the others home. Damaged by the experiences of their past, they must each conquer their deepest fears to destroy Pennywise once and for all.

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The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc of It: Chapter Two will feature Dolby Vision HDR and HDR10+, both sporting dynamic metadata for better picture, as well as Dolby Atmos sound.

Special features on the Blu-ray and 4K release include five featurettes and commentary with Muschietti. The DVD includes the five featurettes.

Mob Drama ‘The Kitchen’ Due on Digital Oct. 22, Disc Nov. 5 From Warner

The female-driven mob drama The Kitchen arrives on digital (including Movies Anywhere) Oct. 22 and Blu-ray and DVD Nov. 5 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Based on the Vertigo comic book series from DC Entertainment, the film stars Oscar nominee Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids, Tammy), Tiffany Haddish (Girls Trip, Night School) and Elisabeth Moss (TV’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” TV’s “Mad Men”) as three 1978 Hell’s Kitchen housewives whose mobster husbands are sent to prison by the FBI. The three women take business into their own hands by running the rackets and taking out the competition.

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The film, which earned $12.2 million in domestic theaters, is written and directed by Andrea Berloff, who was nominated for an Oscar for Original Screenplay for Straight Outta Compton.

Extras on Blu-ray include “Running Hell’s Kitchen,” “Taking Over the Neighborhood,” and a deleted scene. “Running Hell’s Kitchen” is included on the DVD.