Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Mill Creek Entertainment Opens Q1'14 With TV-On-DVD Release Bonanza

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Mill Creek Entertainment announced its first promotional package for Q1 of 2014 this past week and it is, by any standard, impressive.

On Jan. 21 the subject will be TV-on-DVD collections … all attractively priced for collectors.   If you doubt that, then consider this — all 30 episodes of the Emmy-winning animated series, Dilbert: The Complete Series (a three-disc collection), will be available for just $9.98.   You did not read that wrong, $9.98!!!

Other collections priced at $9.98 (and that’s before discounts at retail) are: Just Shoot Me: Season One, Married With Children: Season One, Bewitched: Season One, Charlie's Angels: Season One and both The Cosby Show: Season One and The Cosby Show: Season Two (both seasons are double-disc collections).

Priced at $14.98 are the five-disc seasons of Highway to Heaven: The Complete Third Season and Wings: The Complete Seasons Three & Four.

2013: A Tough Year For New Theatrical Releases In The Home Entertainment Market Place

We’ve been here before and we will be here again.  Charles Dickens pretty much nailed it in his opening paragraph of his 1859 masterpiece, A Tale of Two Cities — “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times … ” 

As 2013 draws to a close it is “the worst of times” for new hit theatrical releases.   We are done with the count for the year … and it is not pretty.

First, let us define the market of new theatrical releases that we are talking about.   The ones that count are those films that gross in excess of $25 million at box office.  

To get to that number you need three things.   These are: a large screen-count when the film opens wide, a major dollar commitment for advertising and publicity and enough people (after the opening weekend) to sustain momentum.   Lacking any of these three elements and a theatrical release will fall outside of the $25 million box office level.

With that said, each year we see roughly 100 films achieve this goal.   It is, at the end of the day, a mechanical thing.  There are 52 opening weekends and a finite number of theatrical seats … each week new films open and room must be made to accommodate these new arrivals.  We are not suddenly going to see 150 films gross in excess of $25 million … there are not enough seats and time to accomplish that.

Over the last seven years (and you can go back further if you wish), the “Hollywood” studios and theatre owners (distributors and exhibitors) have averaged 100.9 “hit” films per year.   These are then moved from their theatrical venues to the home entertainment market place … how fast they move and when they are placed on the release schedule can very, but at the end of the day it is a GIGO equation.  Garbage In, Garbage Out.  

No rational business enterprise that has a $25 million grossing film in their inventory — and all of the production and promotional investment associated with it — would not release it into as many revenue producing markets as possible.  It therefore follows that if the output of hit films averages about 101 per year, the number of home entertainment titles matching this criteria should also be in this neighborhood.

This year, 2013, we are looking at a final count of 94 films that meet this standard as Blu-ray and DVD releases.   Last year the final was 103 and in 2012 it was 104.  

Business decisions can come into play — when is it best to release a hit film?   That is a proper question, but a short fall of this magnitude is outside of the realm of street date tinkering.   

For example, traditionally films released theatrically prior to the Labor Day weekend are released to the home entertainment market prior to the end of the year.   This year we have two films that appear to be headed for a 2014 street date — Blue Jasmine ($32.4 million) and The Butler ($115.1 million) that opened during the summer, but will not reach the home entertainment market place during the “normal” release window.   

Even if these two were added to the mix, we’d still come up short.  We’ve been there before and we will be there again … but for now, 2013 is not the best of times.

When you are talking about a short fall of six to seven key theatrical releases it can only be described as significant.  When there are 52 street-date Tuesdays in any given year, a loss at this level will be noticed.   

52-week Moving Average of New Hit Theatrical Releases* on DVD & Blu-ray
Period Covered: 2008 - 2013 (2013 includes schedule releases)

 * Hit Theatrical defined as achieving a domestic box office gross of $25 million.

Warner Home Video Adds Prisoners To Very Busy Dec. 17 Home Entertainment New Release Calendar

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
If this were a football game Warner Home Video would be flagged for piling on.   Their infraction — again, if this were a football game and not about Blu-ray and DVD releases — came this week when they announced that director Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners will be heading home on Dec. 17 as DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack product offerings.

That is clearly a piling on penalty.   Why?   Well, a couple of months ago Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment selected Dec. 17 as the delivery date for their Razzie candidate for worst picture of 2013, The Lone Ranger.  They staked out their release turf early.

It is important to understand that periodically the good folks over at Disney get it in their mind that since they are Disney they don’t really have to do much to promote their product.  They are, after all, DISNEY and that should be more than enough.   Of late they’ve reverted to this fallback position. 

So Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and 20th Century-Fox Home Entertainment knowing that The Lone Ranger is both a turkey and that Disney would not be supporting it with any sort of marketing or publicity effort immediately gang-tackled this hapless home entertainment product offering with recent theatrical releases of their own (all grossing in excess of $25 million).

Universal, showing no fear, dropped in Kick-Ass 2 ($28.8 million).   Fox added Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters ($67.5 million) and The Family ($36.6 million), while Sony Pictures chipped in with Elysium ($92.6 million) and One Direction: This is Us ($28.9 million).  That brought the “hit” count to six — a very busy release week by historical standards.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyWith Prisoners also getting a Dec. 17 release date — it has taken in $59.9 million — Warner Home Video is clearly piling on!!!   The Lone Ranger is a flat, flat pancake under that pile of theatrical hits.   For the record, the ARR is a zippy 88 days.

Bonus features for this Hugh Jackman/Jake Gyllenhaal abduction thriller (with a twist) are limited to a pair of production featurettes  — “Prisoners: Every Moment Matters” and “Prisoners – Powerful Performances.”

Also announced this week are Blu-ray editions of Stop-Loss and Two Weeks Notice, which are set for Feb. 4.   Also getting a push on Feb. 4 are DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack editions of the animated feature-length adventure, Justice League: War (both with UltraViolet Digital Copy).

Shifting to Mar. 11 consumers will have newly minted Blu-ray editions of El Dorado, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral and Hatari to choose from.

To download this week's complete edition of the DVD and Blu-ray Release Report:  DVD & Blu-ray Release Report

Do You Like My Basement? From Virgil Films And Entertainment On Jan. 14

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Virgil Films & Entertainment asks the question on Jan. 14, “Do you like my basement?”   Just saying it gives one the creeps.  

Now imagine that some dope of a would-be-filmmaker pulls off a home invasion, does away with the occupants and sets up shop to film his horror masterpiece in his newly redecorated basement studio.   Audition notices are posted, would-be thespians recruited and things progress in sort of a cinéma vérité style of guerrilla filmmaking — indeed, the term “casting couch” takes on a whole new meaning!

That’s the premise of producer, writer and director Roger Sewhcomar’s aptly titled Do You Like My Basement?, which will be making its DVD debut on the aforementioned mid-January street-date Tuesday.

Filmmaker Stanley Farmer (Charlie Floyd, making his feature film debut here) has been schooled in horror films since a young lad and over the years has developed what can best be described as a “vision” — he’s going to make a reality horror film.   Pitching the idea to potential investors has been a thankless task, so he’s decided to strike out on his own (with limited resources he was forced to “acquire” a filming location).

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Actors — we might add, who are as dumb as stumps — show up for the audition, are giving a short pitch by Stanley on the premise of his film (he films everything, including the meet-and-greet interviews) and then they are shuffled off to “the set ” for some audition footage.   His goal — during the auditions — is to capture real fear in them!

Filmmaker Roger Sewhcomar’s Do You Like My Basement? is an excellent example of what can be accomplished on what amounts to a micro-budget.   Not only is the final result an effective — and slickly produced — black comedy/horror thriller, but it is also the sort of film that has to scare the hell out of the “Hollywood” studios … they waste more in an afternoon than Sewhcomar’s entire production budget and more often than not end up producing a final product that can’t touch the effectiveness of Do You Like My Basement?

To download this week's complete edition of the DVD and Blu-ray Release Report:  DVD & Blu-ray Release Report

Out Loud On DVD From Ariztical Entertainment On Jan. 14

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
The landscape reminds one of Southern California.   The story, if it was read to you as a simple synopsis (leaving out a couple of crucial details), could also be centered in So Cal … a gay man outcast from his family, boyhood friends dealing with hardship that range from drug-dealing family members to unrequited love.  

However, in writer/director Samer Daboul’s Out Loud, due on DVD from Arizitcal Entertainment this coming Jan. 14, his cast members are not walking the streets of Los Angeles or enjoying the rugged mountains of Big Bear or celebrating in the foothills of Orange County … they are living in Lebanon.

The subjects addressed, the story that unfolds and even what they say, although “just a movie,” are things that could get them killed.   In fact, during the filming the cast and crew were often harassed by the locals and there was always the danger that some of the cast — specifically the characters of Ziad (Jean Kobrosly) and Rami (Ali Rhayem) — could go to prison for being gay, even if it was “just a movie.”

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyAlthough the film was shot on location in Lebanon, ironically with government approval (perhaps no one bothered to dig too deeply into the script), the post work had to be completed in the United States … it was simply too dangerous to attempt to assemble the raw footage into a coherent narrative in Beiruit.

Out Loud, in Arabic with English subtitles, emerges as an insightful look at a world where free expression and taboo relationships are challenging and often fraught with peril.

To download this week's complete edition of the DVD and Blu-ray Release Report:  DVD & Blu-ray Release Report

Image Entertainment's Last Love Debuts New Year's Eve On DVD And Blu-ray

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Image Entertainment has added director Sandra Nettelbeck’s film adaptation of actor-turned-novelist Françoise Dorner’s La Douceur Assassine — titled for the screen as simply Last Love — to its Dec. 31 release schedule.    

Blu-ray and DVD editions are planned for this April/December romantic drama (set in Paris, France) that teams Michael Caine with Clémence Poésy (as Fleur Delacour in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 and Part 2) as lost souls who find solace in each other’s company.   

A limited theatrical showcase run (opened Nov. 1) was launched to raise awareness among domestic film critics.
Bonus features include outtakes and deleted scenes.

To download this week's complete edition of the DVD and Blu-ray Release Report:  DVD & Blu-ray Release Report

Runner Runner From 20th Century-Fox Home Entertainment On Jan. 7

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
20th Century-Fox Home Entertainment will open its Q1’14 home entertainment release campaign on Jan. 7 with DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack editions of director Brad Furman’s “greed kills” thriller, Runner Runner.    

The ARR for this Justin Timberlake/Ben Affleck tale of on-line poker and the “off-shore” elements that run a very lucrative site comes in at just 95 days … despite the star power, the box office take was a little light at $19.6 million.

Bonus features — limited to the Blu-ray SKU — included deleted scenes and the featurette titled “House of Cards: The Inside Story of Online Poker.”

To download this week's complete edition of the DVD and Blu-ray Release Report:  DVD & Blu-ray Release Report