Tag Archives: universal pictures

Theaters Take on Premiere Video on Demand as Universal’s Trolls World is a Hit

Trolls World Tour

Things are getting testy between theaters and studios as the opening of theaters looms on the horizon and studios are rethinking releases. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous studios pulled their films choosing instead to release them video on demand or shrinking the release windows from theaters to digital.

The most high profile release so far was Universal‘s Trolls World Tour. Things escalated after a Wall Street Journal report says the film earned $95 million domestically in its first 19 days. The original film earned $153.7 million domestically for its entire run and $120.9 million after 19 days.

The National Association of Theatre Owners sent out a statement:

This performance is indicative of hundreds of millions of people isolated in their homes seeking entertainment, not a shift in consumer movie viewing preferences. It is not surprising that people under shelter-in-home ordinances for weeks on end with increasingly limited entertainment options would take advantage of the movie’s direct-to-VOD move to keep children entertained, even at a premium price.

We’ll ignore the blatant falacy of “increasingly limited entertainment options.”

They also emphasized:

Universal heavily marketed the title as a theatrical release, in theaters and elsewhere, for weeks on end. That is unlikely to recur in normal times, and those costs haven’t been disclosed. While Universal may be pleased with the PVOD results of Trolls World Tour, this outcome should not be interpreted as a sign of a ‘new normal’ for Hollywood.

We’ll also ignore the weird tangent about marketing. As marketing is marketing and there might be a stronger marketing plan to be made emphasizing its exclusiveness to video on demand.

After the success of Trolls World Tour, Universal decided to release the Judd Apatow/Pete Davidson comedy The King of Staten Island in homes June 12, skipping its original June 19 theatrical release.

Warner Bros. is skipping theaters as well with Scoob! going digital on May 15, STX is taking My Spy to Amazon, Paramount/MRC‘s The Lovebirds is going to Netflix, and Artemis Fowl is releasing on Disney+. None of these films would likely have been blockbusters and will likely play well to their niche audiences on demand.

NATO also argued that the optimum price point for movie rentals are $5-$8 with $6 being the sweet spot and transactional video has been declining since 2004 with sales and rentals of individual titles at home dropping from $24.9 billion to $9.3 billion in 2019.

What’s interesting is, that $6 rental isn’t that much different from what studios get currently. With an $10 ticket at the American box office, they’d get about 60% or $6. Overseas it can be 20% to 40% depending on the arrangement. Movies begin with fees up to 90% and the fees go down. This article from The Week has an excellent explanation. So, NATO has shown studios would potentially make the same and possibly more with video on demand.

Things have ramped up further with AMC Theatres saying they will no longer play any Universal Pictures after NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell promising to “open titles on premium and in theaters at the same time.”

AMC Theaters chairman-CEO Adam Aron went on the attack in a letter to Universal Filmed Entertainment Group chairman Donna Langley saying:

It is disappointing to us, but Jeff’s comments as to Universal’s unilateral actions and intentions have left us with no choice. Therefore, effectively immediately AMC will no longer play any Universal movies in any of our theaters in the United States, Europe or the Middle East.

This policy affects any and all Universal movies per se, goes into effect today and as our theaters reopen, and is not some hollow or ill-considered threat. Incidentally, this policy is not aimed solely at Universal out of pique or to be punitive in any way, it also extends to any movie maker who unilaterally abandons current windowing practices absent good faith negotiations between us, so that they as distributor and we as exhibitor both benefit and neither are hurt from such changes. Currently, with the press comment today, Universal is the only studio contemplating a wholesale change to the status quo. Hence, this immediate communication in response.

Universal’s unilateral pronouncements on this issue are unpalatable to us, as has always been the case, AMC is willing to sit down with Universal to discuss different windows strategies and different economic models between your company and ours. However, in the absence of such discussions, and an acceptable conclusion thereto, our decades of incredibly successful business activity together has sadly come to an end.

Theaters are in a tough position as they need studios more than studios need them. With months of revenue lost, they need guaranteed blockbusters like Universal’s Fast and Furious 9 which has been pushed back to April 2, 2021 and Disney’s Mulan which is currently set to open July 24, 2020. Both of which would be billion-dollar films in normal environments. With more digital services being released with “captive audiences,” studios will need theaters less and less. Disney+ has over 50 million subscribers already as an example and at $7(ish) a month, that’s over 350 million reasons a month and 4.2 billion reasons yearly.

(via Wall Street Journal, Variety, Deadline)

Jaws Gets a Limited Edition Anniversary Release Celebrating 45 Years

Jaws 45TH Anniversary Limited Edition

In 1975, acclaimed director Steven Spielberg created the first ever summer blockbuster film and his first big hit, Jaws, the iconic and terrifying action-thriller that still makes audiences afraid to go in the water. Winner of three Academy Awards, including Best Original Score, Jaws has become a cinematic touchstone for generations of moviegoers and one of the greatest and most influential films of all time.

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment celebrates with the Jaws 45TH Anniversary Limited Edition available on 4K Ultra HD for the first time ever on June 2, 2020.

This limited edition Combo Pack with lenticular packaging includes a 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and Digital code of the film along with over three hours of bonus features and a 44-page booklet with introductions, rare photos, storyboards and more from the archives. Dive into hours of bonus features including the making of JAWS, deleted scenes, outtakes from set and much more! Jaws 45TH Anniversary Limited Edition retains all the exhilarating suspense and thrills that made it an instant classic that continues to captivate audiences around the world, making this a must-own for everyone’s movie library.

Directed by Academy Award winner Steven Spielberg, Jaws set the standard for edge-of-your-seat suspense, quickly becoming a cultural phenomenon. When the seaside community of Amity finds itself under attack by a dangerous great white shark, the town’s chief of police (Roy Scheider), a young marine biologist (Richard Dreyfuss) and a grizzled shark hunter (Robert Shaw) embark on a desperate quest to destroy the beast before it strikes again. Featuring an unforgettable score by John Williams that evokes pure terror, Jaws remains one of the most influential and gripping adventures in motion picture history.

BONUS FEATURES ON 4K ULTRA HD and BLU-RAYTM:

  • The Making of Jaws
  • The Shark Is Still Working: The Impact & Legacy of Jaws
  • Jaws: The Restoration
  • Deleted Scenes and Outtakes
  • From the Set
  • Theatrical Trailer

ADDITIONAL BONUS FEATURES On BLU-RAYTM:

  • Storyboards
  • Production Photos
  • Marketing Jaws
  • Jaws Phenomenon

Jaws 45TH Anniversary Limited Edition will be available on 4K Ultra HD combo pack, which includes 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, & Digital Code.

Universal’s The Hunt Comes to Digital 5/26 and on Blu-ray and DVD 6/9

The Hunt

Who is the hunter and who is the hunted? Decide for yourself! From producer Jason Blum, director Craig Zobel and writers Damon Lindelof and Nick Cuse comes The Hunt which arrives on Digital May 26, 2020 and on Blu-ray and DVD June 9, 2020 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. The Hunt includes behind-the-scenes featurettes on the making of this suspenseful thriller.

Twelve strangers wake up in a clearing. They don’t know where they are, or how they got there. They don’t know they’ve been chosen… for a very specific purpose … The Hunt.

In this subversive satire, a group of elites gather for the very first time at a remote Manor House to hunt ordinary Americans for sport. But the elites’ master plan is about to be derailed because one of The Hunted, Crystal, knows The Hunters’ game better than they do. She turns the tables on the killers, picking them off one by one as she makes her way toward the mysterious woman at the center of it all.

The theatrical version of the film is currently available for early viewing on a wide variety of popular on-demand services as a premium rental offering.

BONUS FEATURES on BLU-RAYTM, DVD AND DIGITAL:

  • CRAFTING THE HUNT – Filmmakers and cast discuss how costumes and props were used to highlight the political commentary of this slaughterous thriller.
  • DEATH SCENE BREAKDOWNS – THE HUNT’s talented special effects and make-up teams give you an inside look on how they carried out some of the goriest death sequences.
  • ATHENA VS CRYSTAL: HUNTER OR HUNTED? – Go behind the scenes to check out the intense training and choreography actresses Betty Gilpin and Hilary Swank had to master in order to execute this epic fight scene.

Guy Ritchie’s The Gentlemen is on Demand, 4K, Blu-ray, and DVD in April

The Gentlemen

Get lit in the stylish ensemble caper, The Gentlemen, a star-studded, sophisticated action-comedy written and directed by Guy Ritchie (Sherlock HolmesSnatch). This engaging and unpredictable film is available now on Digital, lighting up on On Demand April 14, 2020 and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD on April 21, 2020, from STXfilms and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. Set in the underworld cannabis industry in London, Ritchie makes a grand return to his signature, kinetic style, enthralling and surprising audiences with every scene, made even more dynamic by the performances of its star-powered ensemble cast. The home release includes exclusive bonus content bringing audiences deeper into the provocative world of the film.

The Gentlemen follows American expat Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club), who built a highly profitable marijuana empire in London. When word gets out that he’s looking to cash out of the business forever, it triggers plots, schemes, bribery and blackmail in an attempt to steal his lucrative domain out from under him.

Featuring an all-star cast, The Gentlemen stars Oscar winner McConaughey, alongside Charlie Hunnam (Pacific Rim, “Sons of Anarchy”), Golden Globe® nominee Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey, “Good Behavior”), Golden Globe® winner Colin Farrell (The Lobster, In Bruges), Henry Golding (A Simple Favor, Crazy Rich Asians), Golden Globe winner Hugh Grant (The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Love Actually), Jeremy Strong (“Succession,” Molly’s Game) and Eddie Marsan (Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & ShawAtomic Blonde).

BONUS FEATURES EXCLUSIVE TO 4K ULTRA HD, BLU-RAY™️, DVD & DIGITAL:

  • Behind-the-Scenes of THE GENTLEMEN – Get up close with the talented cast of THE GENTLEMEN as they give an inside look at the making of the film and share their experiences working with legendary director Guy Ritchie.
  • Best Gentlemanly Quips – A selection of some of the funniest lines from THE GENTLEMEN that spotlights the witty writing behind the film.
  • Glossary of Cannabis – Viewers are given a fun educational montage highlighting the numerous nicknames of Marijuana shown throughout the film.
  • Photo Gallery

The Gentlemen will be available on 4K Ultra HD in a combo pack which includes 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray™️ , Blu-ray™️  and Digital. The 4K Ultra HD will include all bonus features on the Blu-ray™️ disc.

  • 4K Ultra HD is the ultimate movie watching experience. 4K Ultra HD features the combination of 4K resolution for four times sharper picture than HD, the color brilliance of High Dynamic Range (HDR) with immersive audio delivering a multidimensional sound experience.
  • Blu-ray™️ unleashes the power of your HDTV and is the best way to watch movies at home, featuring 6X the picture resolution of DVD, exclusive extras and theater-quality surround sound.
  • Digital lets fans watch movies anywhere on their favorite devices. Users can instantly stream or download.

The Invisible Man is Out to Own in May

The Invisible Man

The Invisible Man, an intense, modern-day psychological thriller, becomes available to own for the first time on Digital May 12, 2020 and on 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD on May 26, 2020 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. From iconic producer Jason Blum (Halloween, Split, Get Out, Us) and director Leigh Whannel (Saw, Insidious, Upgrade), this psychological thriller modernizes Universal’s shapeshifting, classic monster against a backdrop of an empowered woman facing her tormentor. “A cutting, contemporary work of socially conscious horror” (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone), The Invisible Man comes home with never-before-seen bonus content.

The Invisible Man follows a modern tale of obsession inspired by Universal’s classic monster character. Cecilia Kass (Elisabeth Moss) slowly begins to rebuild her life after the death of her abusive ex-boyfriend (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). But before long, she begins to question whether or not he is truly gone. In addition to the feature, The Invisible Man delivers up twenty minutes of exclusive bonus content, including a chance to better get acquainted with the film’s leading actress: Elisabeth Moss, feature commentary with the writer/director and deleted scenes you won’t want to miss.

Accompanying Moss is SAG-winner Aldris Hodge (“Black Mirror”, Straight Outta Compton), Oliver Jackson-Cohen (“The Haunting of Hill House”), Storm Reid (Don’t Let Go, “Euphoria”). The theatrical version of the film is currently available for early viewing on a wide variety of popular on-demand services as a premium rental offering.

BONUS FEATURES on BLU-RAYTM, 4K ULTRA HD and DVD:

  • DELETED SCENES
  • MOSS MANIFESTED – Elisabeth Moss describes the physical and emotional challenges she faced while portraying Cecilia, a woman whose truth is constantly questioned by those around her.
  • DIRECTOR’S JOURNEY WITH LEIGH WHANNELL – Director Leigh Whannell acts as tour guide through principal photography, from day 1 to day 40.
  • THE PLAYERS – Filmmakers and cast provide an in-depth analysis of each character and how they interact with the unseen terror of THE INVISIBLE MAN.
  • TIMELESS TERROR – A behind the scenes look at how writer/director Leigh Whannell re-imagined this iconic character through the lens of modern technology and socially relatable themes.
  • FEATURE COMMENTARY WITH WRITER/DIRECTOR LEIGH WHANNELL

The Invisible Man will be available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-rayTM, DVD and Digital.

  • 4K Ultra HD is the ultimate movie watching experience. 4K Ultra HD features the combination of 4K resolution for four times sharper picture than HD, the color brilliance of High Dynamic Range (HDR) with immersive audio delivering a multidimensional sound experience.
  • Blu-rayTM unleashes the power of your HDTV and is the best way to watch movies at home, featuring 6X the picture resolution of DVD, exclusive extras and theater-quality surround sound.
  • Digital lets fans watch movies anywhere on their favorite devices. Users can instantly stream or download.
  • MOVIES ANYWHERE is the digital app that simplifies and enhances the digital movie collection and viewing experience by allowing consumers to access their favorite digital movies in one place when purchased or redeemed through participating digital retailers. Consumers can also redeem digital copy codes found in eligible Blu-rayTM and DVD disc packages from participating studios and stream or download them through Movies Anywhere. MOVIES ANYWHERE is only available in the United States. For more information, visit https://moviesanywhere.com.

Robert Kirkman and Marc Silvestri’s Stealth in Development with Universal and Out in March 2020

Image Comics and Skybound Entertainment presents an action-packed, six-issue vigilante miniseries this March—Stealth—from the minds of Robert Kirkman and Marc Silvestri, written by Mike Costa, drawn by Nate Bellegarde, and colored by Tamra Bonvillain.

The series features covers by Jason Howard and is concurrently in development with Universal Pictures and Skybound entertainment. 

Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby will write the script for the forthcoming Stealth adaptation. The writing duo’s credits include Iron Man and Cowboys & Aliens. Oscar-nominated Lee Daniels will direct and produce along with his partner Pam Williams. The film will be produced by Skybound’s film team—including Kirkman, David Alpert, Bryan Furst, and Sean Furst—and Universal Executive Vice President of Production Matt Reilly will oversee the project on behalf of the studio.

For decades, Stealth has waged war on crime in Detroit, but now he’s taken his pursuit of justice too far. Only reporter Tony Barber knows that behind Stealth’s reckless behavior is an older man battling Alzheimer’s—his father. A father unwilling to accept that he’s no longer the hero this city needs…with enemies all too eager to force his retirement.

This pulse-pounding new series is Black Panther meets Iron Man and is a must-read for Dead Eyes fans.

Stealth #1 (Diamond Code JAN200138) will be available at comic book shops on Wednesday, March 11.

Stealth #1

Robert Kirkman and artist Lorenzo De Felici’s Oblivion Song is Being Adapted for Film by Universal

Oblivion Song Chapter One

Skybound Entertainment and Universal Pictures announced this morning that the sci-fi drama Oblivion Song—based upon the New York Times bestselling Robert Kirkman and artist Lorenzo De Felici’s bestselling comic book series of the same name—is being developed for film. 

Universal’s Executive Vice President of Production Jon Mone and Director of Development Lexi Barta will oversee the project on behalf of the studio. The Oblivion Song adaptation will be produced by Skybound’s film team, including Robert Kirkman, David Alpert, Bryan Furst, and Sean Furst, with Sean O’Keefe attached to write the script. 

O’Keefe’s latest project, Wonderland, which stars Mark Wahlberg with Peter Berg directing, recently wrapped filming. O’Keefe sold the first script based on the Robert B. Parker bestselling Spenser book series in a deal with Netflix.

Oblivion Song Chapter Two

Image and Skybound Entertainment’s Oblivion Song by Kirkman and De Felici is colored by Annalisa Leoni, lettered by Rus Wooton, and edited by Sean Mackiewicz. It takes place a decade after 300,000 citizens of Philadelphia were suddenly lost in Oblivion. The government made every attempt to recover them but after many years they gave up. Nathan Cole won’t. He makes daily trips, risking his life to try and rescue those lost, alone and afraid, living in the apocalyptic hellscape of Oblivion. But maybe… Nathan is looking for something else. Why can’t he resist the siren call of the Oblivion Song?

Oblivion Song, Vol. 1 (ISBN: 978-1534306424) and Oblivion Song, Vol. 2 (ISBN: 978-1534310575) trade paperbacks are available now in comic shops and at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, IndieBound, and Indigo.

New Poster for The First Purge Pulls No Punches

Arriving the same day as Donald Trump’s first State of the Union, the new poster for this summer’s The First Purge takes a swing at our current politics in a far more explicit way than it ever has before.

The First Purge poster Graphic Policy

I joked at the last Purge movie that it was “Donald Trump the Movie.” That seems so quaint and funny a quip in the summer of 2016, but now maybe a little too on the dystopian nose.

Regardless, I look forward to this newest installment (as I have all of the last few Purge sequels) but wonder if it can somehow outcompete reality. I’m always curious about what Blumhouse will deliver to us when it comes to horror / genre films, especially after last year’s (now Oscar-nominated) Get Out.

So what’s it about? Well, it’s a prequel. But that’s not so terrible, especially considering the rather loose way the films have woven into one another. But this will tell us the story of the first purge, layered with lots of social commentary.

From the studio:

Behind every tradition lies a revolution.  Next Independence Day, witness the rise of our country’s 12 hours of annual lawlessness.  Welcome to the movement that began as a simple experiment: The First Purge.

To push the crime rate below one percent for the rest of the year, the New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA) test a sociological theory that vents aggression for one night in one isolated community.  But when the violence of oppressors meets the rage of the marginalized, the contagion will explode from the trial-city borders and spread across the nation.

Coming off the most successful film in the series, The Purge: Election Year, creator James DeMonaco (writer/director of The PurgeThe Purge: Anarchy and The Purge: Election Year) returns alongside the producers of this worldwide phenomenon: Blumhouse Productions’ Jason Blum (Insidious series, Get OutSplit), Platinum Dunes partners Michael Bay, Brad Fuller and Andrew Form (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Ouijaseries, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), and DeMonaco’s longtime production partner, Sébastien K. Lemercier (Assault on Precinct 13Four Lovers).

The First Purge is directed by Gerard McMurray (Burning Sands), working from a screenplay once again written by DeMonaco. www.thefirstpurge.com

Around the Tubes

It’s new comic book day tomorrow. What are folks excited for? What do you plan on getting? Sound off in the comments below! While you decide on that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

Slate Magazine – The Egyptian Revolution Inspires a Graphic Novel About Environmental Collapse – This sounds really interesting.

Kotaku – Cosplayer Does Whatever A Spider Can – This is impressive.

ComicBook – Skybound and Universal Team for ‘Birthright’ Movie – This could be very cool.

IGN – Syfy Renews Happy! for Season 2 – Yes please!

ICv2 – In Marvel’s Quest for New Hardcore Fans, X Marks the Sweet Spot – Very interesting read. Thoughts?

 

Reviews

Comics Bulletin – Dissonance #1

Talking Comics – Doomsday Clock #3

Movie Review: Pitch Perfect 3

Pitch-Perfect-3-poster last callThe newest installment of the Pitch Perfect franchise about college a capella competition and the fictional Barden Bellas finds them mostly retreading greatest hits and tapping into the formula that has made the previous two films so charming, but it ends up a little flat in key places.

They simply can’t top the zaniness of part two, making this seem a little more lackluster. It’s still the Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson show, although the film does try to give some extra time to heretofore less explored characters, to varied effect. But the film’s central conceit of “getting the band back together” for a nostalgia-fueled USO tour just doesn’t work except seemingly as a backdrop for our stars to travel through Europe. All of our characters seem to have the same problem– life isn’t working out exactly as they planned one year out of college. While this seems a decent commentary on the plight of the entire millennial generation, it just isn’t interesting enough to sustain itself.

It shines best, as in previous films, in the lavish musical numbers the Bellas put on, this time joined by an all-girl rock group names Evermoist (yes, really), and alt country band Whiskey Shivers plays a group called Saddle Up. All of them are “competing” for a spot to share the stage with DJ Khaled (played unconvincingly by himself) in a final show, and here’s the real showstopper: Khaled is a black hole of charisma, and every moment he’s on screen the film grinds to a screeching halt.

Another problem lies in a strange side-plot involving Amy’s father, played by John Lithgow with a not-quite convincing Aussie accent. Apparently he’s an international arms dealer trying to reunite with his daughter. This allows for a strange third act where Rebel Wilson gets to play action star while the rest of the Bellas perform Britney Spears’ “Toxic” to distract him. It’s fun, and it’s good to see Wilson stretch herself as an actor, but it’s strangely off-tone and just doesn’t work as part of the larger film.

Matt Lanter (Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Timeless) also shows up as a military officer assigned to escort the Bellas, and ends up being a romantic interest. Lanter personally is fine (and indeed charming), but his character has nowhere to go. What’s really missing from this are some of the more interesting male foils from previous films (Adam DeVine, Flula Borg, and Ben Platt. . .  oh, how we miss you, Ben Platt). This was obviously a deliberate creative choice to focus on our female cast, and I applaud that. But compared to their previous films, Lanter and Lithgow just sort of take up space. DJ Khaled takes up negative space and drags the entire movie down.

And, as with all of the movies, I can always use more Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins.

Fans of the franchise will likely enjoy this movie– its script is still chock-full of jokes and the musical numbers. . . err. . .  hit all the right notes. It’s too bad the entire package is not quite as good.

2.25 out of 5

« Older Entries