Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Total Number Of New Theatrical Releases In 2014 Likely To Finish Down Six Percent

The domestic theatrical exhibition market is taking a hit this year.  A big one … as of right now it is not a pretty picture.   It comes as no surprise to us as the numbers have been soft long before the summer results were in.

Each week the DVD & Blu-ray Release Report plots year-over-year new theatrical release performance and posts the results.   To some that may seem odd when the nature of this publication is the monitoring of the home entertainment packaged media trends … namely, what’s happening with DVD and Blu-ray product releases.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

The reason for keeping an eye on trends in the new theatrical release arena is that activity in that quarter invariably translates to subsequent action — good or bad — in the home entertainment market place.   

Consumers — mass market consumers — tend to rent and buy (consume) film entertainment that they know.   “What’s new?” is the question most asked; rarely, “what’s good?”   When they overlap, that’s terrific.

With the arrival of the Labor Day period a certain clarity to what the entire year will look like for new theatrical releases comes into very sharp focus.   What remains of the year is all about time and seats available.

The DVD & Blu-ray Release Report tracks, religiously, a specific class of new theatrical releases.   Namely, those films grossing in excess of $25 million.   Speed to market (Asset Rollover Rate, or simply ARR) is measured in days from a film’s theatrical debut to its subsequent debut on either DVD or Blu-ray represents the “window.”   It is slowly being crushed. 

Why these films?   Films released theatrically that gross in excess of $25 million get there by having the combination of promotional dollars supplied by the studios and theatrical screens (seats to generate sales from exhibitors), plus enough consumer interest to keep the respective candidates in theatrical play long enough to reach this “golden” plateau.   These films are “hits” regardless of whether they make money in terms of their production costs.   Their costs of production are simply not relevant to home entertainment … consumers don’t care if studios lose money on a film.   And, with studio accounting, you can never really be sure if it is a winner or a loser anyway.

This group of films — roughly 100 each year — tend to drive the “what’s new?” sector of the home entertainment market place (rental and retail).   They are important … they are the engine that drives the business (like it or not).

All other theatrical releases fall into certain subgroups.   

These are:

  Abject Failures and Lost Films  — consumers either said NO!!! to a wide, studio-backed release (no matter how much money was spent in launching the turkey), or the film got great reviews, but no one saw it; a failure to “ignite” (read that as a terrible marketing campaign).   There will be interest when these films are released to DVD and Blu-ray … and often a disaster can be salvaged.

 Limited Releases — arthouse, religious audiences, etc., but with a national presence (consumers are usually aware of these films).   They usually exhaust their target audience before reaching “hit” status.

 Promotional Releases — select markets to raise awareness (and to say that the film had a theatrical push). 

 Foreign Language imports — targeted for specific audiences … you may not even know that these theatrical releases exist because you simply do not speak the language (think: social event). 

• “Other” — a category that has been expanded in recent years as a result of trends in digital exhibition.  You need to think in terms of a combination of limited and promotional releases without print costs … digital exhibition can easily elevate a micro-budget film to theatrical status.   Often these are films that are being stepped from the festival circuit to home entertainment … they only show up in a few venues (and largely go unnoticed).
Roughly, and this may come as a surprise to some, 65 percent of all new theatrical releases gross less than $1,000,000.   Only one in twenty new theatrical releases each year have ticket sales in excess of $100 million and yet they dominated the discussion.

Which brings us to the current status of this particular product category.   Anyone following the entertainment industry has likely heard that 2014 is turning into a stinker … box office is down (15 percent and more).   It’s a long list of excuses … a rough winter, the loss of “tent pole” releases, high ticket prices, too many of the same films, etc., etc.   

Excuses, yes, but they don’t change the fact that “hits” are down this year … and that will have an impact on the home entertainment arena, especially as the summer crop is translated into DVD and Blu-ray product offerings on the run-up to the Christmas-selling season.

As we bump up against the Labor Day weekend (the traditional end to the summer theatrical release season), the industry has generated 58 “hits” on a year-to-date basis.  Last year, at this time, the number was 64 … in 2012, 68.   

At the other end of the spectrum, we’ve seen 250 films released during the same period that have grossed under $1 million … last year the count was 254.   The promotional and limited use of theatrical venues is pretty much unchanged, but the “hits” are MIA.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Overall, theatrical releases (regardless of gross) are likely to be down six percent on a year over year basis.   The last time we had such a drop was from 2008 to 2009 (a 13.9 percent decline), which was largely tied to the overall collapse in the economy. 

In any case, by the time the Labor Day weekend rolls around the final outcome for the year (in terms of total theatrical releases) works out to about plus or minus three percent of the existing trend at the 34th week of the year.   This year the numbers point to 594 films (based on year-to-date comparisons), versus a final count in 2013 of 632 theatrical releases (only films with a reported box office gross are included).   

As you run out of weeks remaining, the swing gets narrower and narrower.   We could finish the year with as few as 575 new theatrical releases (unlikely) or as many as 613 (a possibility with a rush of digitally-released theatrical entries).   But the “hits” will be hard to come by in terms of making up the lost ground … it comes down to a factor of weekends remaining and seats available.   

Two “hits” per week is about all the market place can generate … 18 weeks remaining yields 36 possible.   Add that number to the current crop of 58 and it is a bleak year-end total of just 94.    The final count last year (2013) was 104 … two years ago (2012) there were 106.  
Like we said, it is not a pretty picture!

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

Paramount Home Media Distribution's Transformers: Age Of Extinction On DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo Packs On Sept. 30

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Paramount Home Media Distribution’s mega-summer box office smash, director Michael Bay’s Transformers: Age of Extinction, has been given a Sept. 30 release date for a three-SKU array of products.

Fans will be able to select from a stand-alone DVD release, a three-disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack and a four-disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack that includes a 3D presentation of the film.

The ARR is a zippy 95 days and action at multiplexes nationwide generated ticket sales of a whopping $243.8 million.

With this — the fourth installment in the series — filmmaker Michael Bay and his associates made two very smart moves.   The addition of Mark Wahlberg as the lead was inspired (first Megan Fox was sent packing, next Shia LaBeouf … the franchise has grown up) and the writing of the series (script by Ehren Kruger — Arlington Road, Reindeer Games, The Ring, The Skeleton Key and both Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Transformers: Dark of the Moon) continues to evolve with less kid-fluff and a better focus on the sci-fi elements.    More installments of this studio franchise are a certainty!

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
As to bonus nuggets included with this home entertainment monster, let us begin with the Blu-ray SKUs.   The film clocks in at 165 minutes, so one complete Blu-ray disc is devoted to the film itself … double that up for the 2D and 3D Combo Pack.   

A separate Blu-ray disc holds the extensive array of bonus goodies which kicks-off with a newly-prepared interview session with filmmaker Michael Bay.  There is a multi-part collection of eight featurettes titled “Evolution Within Extinction” —  included are segments variously titled “Rise of the Dinobots,” “The Last Stand” and “Shadow Protocol Activated” — plus there are five additional stand-alone featurettes, including one titled “Just Another Giant Effin’ Movie.”   

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Paramount says that all of these bonuses add up to about three-hours worth of material … no wonder a separate Blu-ray disc is required!!!

The DVD SKU is a movie-only presentation.

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

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Tunes Up Jersey Boys For Nov. 11

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has selected Nov. 11 as the street date for filmmaker Clint Eastwood’s Jersey Boys, his homage to the life and times of Frankie Valle and the Four Seasons.

The ARR for DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack editions (with UltraViolet) for that November street date works out to a leisurely 144 days … domestic ticket sales totaled $46.7 million.

Filmmaker Clint Eastwood has done just about everything in the way of film that one can imagine, so it should come as no surprise that he would tackle something as difficult as the film adaptation of the 2006 Tony Award winner — a biographical musical drama — that was based on the book written by Rick Elice and long-time Woody Allen collaborator Marshall Brickman (Oscar-winner for Annie Hall).

The music is terrific.   Indeed, if there is a knock on the final product that Eastwood delivered it is, simply put, overwhelming.   Who knew that Frankie Valli (aka: Francesco Stephen Castelluccio) had such a checkered history … there was the mob, there was Joe Pesci (yeah, that Joe Pesci) and that fame came at such a price.   WOW.

If his life story were an original Hollywood script, no one would be believe it.  Indeed, it reads like a rework of that Frank Sinatra’s 1957 biopic about Joe E. Lewis, The Joker is Wild (without the throat-cutting).   
DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

With that said, it was then and it remains today a story about music … “Sherry” (1962), “Big Girls Don’t Cry” (1963), “Dawn” and “Rag Doll” (1964), “Working My Way Back to You” (1966), “Can't Take My Eyes Off You” (1967) and more, many more.   Hit after hit … and accomplished in the teeth of the “British Invasion!”

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyTheir music will live on forever and Jersey Boys is a fitting tribute to Frankie Valli (John Lloyd Young, who was the Tony Award-winner for his portrayal of Frankie Valli in the Broadway play), the Four Seasons and their music.  Enjoy!

Bonus features include the featurettes titled “From Broadway To The Big Screen,” “Too Good to be True” and “Oh, What a Night to Remember.”

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyIn other release news this week from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, a trio of classic Western films have been added to the Sept. 16 release calendar.   Making their DVD debut on that date are Raton Pass (1951, teaming Patricia Neal with Steve Cochran, Dennis Morgan and Scott Forbes), Shootout at Medicine Bend (1957, Randolph Scott, James Garner, James Craig and Angie Dickinson) and Son of a Gunfighter (1966, Russ Tamblyn and Fernando Rey).

On the Blu-ray release front, Dec. 2 will see director Joe Dante’s 2003 film release of Looney Tunes: Back in Action getting the hi-def treatment.   Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny and the rest of the Looney Tunes gang are joined by an all-star cast that includes Brendan Fraser, Steve Martin, Jenna Elfman, Timothy Dalton, Heather Locklear and Joan Cusack, plus Dante “guests,” Dick Miller, Roger Corman, Mary Woronov and Kevin McCarthy.    Everyone had a grand time with this one!

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

How To Train Your Dragon 2 On DVD And Blu-ray/DVD Combo Packs From 20th Century-Fox Home Entertainment On Nov. 11

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
20th Century-Fox Home Entertainment announced this past week that Nov. 11 will be the release date for the DreamWorks Animation production of How To Train Your Dragon 2.   Blu-ray/DVD Combo Packs (with or without a 3D viewing option) and a double-disc DVD edition are planned.

The ARR is 151 days and domestic ticket sales were a solid $172.1 million.

Bonus features include the animated adventure titled Dragons: Dawn of the Dragon Racers, UltraViolet Digital Copy, deleted scenes, commentary by director Dean DeBlois, animator Simon Otto, producer Bonnie Arnold and art director Pierre-Olivier Vincent and a series of production featurettes.

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

Square Pegs: The Complete Series On DVD This Coming Oct. 21 From Mill Creek Entertainment

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Mill Creek Entertainment has tabbed Oct. 21 as the street date for a double-disc helping of the short-lived Sarah Jessica Parker 1982 sitcom, Square Pegs: The Complete Series.   The SRP is a sweet $9.98!!!

The eight kids at Weemawee High School that the series focuses on — in addition to a pre-Sex and the City Parker — include Amy Linker (D.A.R.Y.L.), John Femia, Merritt Butrick (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock), Tracy Nelson (as Sister “Steve” in the Father Dowling Mysteries TV series), Jon Caliri, Claudette Wells and Jami Gertz (Emmy-nominated for Ally McBeal, plus such films as Twister, The Lost Boys, etc.).

Also added to the October release calendar — with an eye towards the Halloween promotional period — are two new priced-to-own collections (just $9.98 each).  On Oct. 21 look for Dark Secrets: 4 Movie Set, which includes as part of the double-disc set director John Mangold’s 2003 horror thriller Identity (with John Cusack, Ray Liotta and Amanda Peet), Vacancy (2007, with Kate Beckinsale, Luke Wilson and Frank Whaley), Perfect Stranger (2007, Bruce Willis, Halle Berry and Giovanni Ribisi) and writer/director David Ondaatje’s 2009 film adaptation of the Marie Belloc Lowndes’ novel, The Lodger (with Alfred Molina and Hope Davis).

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyAlso on the 21st of October is the double disc set titled Where Evil Lives: 6 Movie Collection.   Included here are Devour (2005, Jensen Ackles, Shannyn Sossamon and Dominique Swain), writer/director Michelle MacLaren’s occult thriller, Population 436 (starring Jeremy Sisto and Charlotte Sullivan), director Kate Robbins’ 2006 sci-fi chiller about invading aliens cleverly disguised as nurses, Candy Stripers, Incubus (2006 with Tara Reid), director Gregory Jacobs’ ghostly thriller, Wind Chill (starring Emily Blunt) and writer/director Paul Andrew Williams’ 2008 mixed-genre horror/thriller, The Cottage (Jennifer Ellison).

Lastly, if you love your end-of-the-world disaster flicks, then the Oct. 14 DVD release of TV Guide Spotlight: Made-For-TV Disasters will be right up your alley.  In something of an “earth, wind and fire” them for just $9.98 genre fans get Flood (with Robert Carlyle, Jessalyn Gilsig and Tom Courtenay), Flood: A River's Rampage (Richard Thomas and Kate Vernon battle the mighty Mississippi), Aftershock: Earthquake In New York (the big one hits New York … with Tom Skerritt, Sharon Lawrence and Jennifer Garner) and Tornado! (with Bruce Campbell and Shannon Sturges). 

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

VCI Entertainment Tabs Nov. 4 For John Mills And Kenneth More DVD Collections

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
VCI Entertainment announced this past week that two prized film collections showcasing the talents of Brits John Mills (Oscar winner for Ryan’s Daughter) and Kenneth More will be available for films buffs and collectors to own on Nov. 4.

The John Mills Collection includes the 1949 film adaptation of H.G. Wells’ novel, The History of Mr. Polly with Mills as the title character, director Roy Ward Baker’s 1950 submarine thriller Morning Departure (which co-stars the late Richard Attenborough), The Long Memory (1953, Mills stars as a wrongfully-convicted man who must choose between revenge or freedom … Elizabeth Sellars co-stars) and director Ted Kotcheff’s 1962 comedy, Tiara Tahiti, which team rivals Mills and James Mason who find themselves at odds once again in the tropical paradise of Tahiti.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
British action star Kenneth More (nominated four times for Best Actor in the Brit equivalent of the Oscars, the BAFTA Awards … winning for Doctor in the House) talents will be showcased in the Kenneth More Collection.

The quartet of films selected here includes director J. Lee Thompson’s 1959 shot-on-location adventure, Flame Over India (aka: North West Frontier), which teamed More with the late Lauren Bacall; More stars in aviation biopic Reach For The Sky, which won the 1957 BAFTA Awards for Best British Picture (knocking off such stalwarts as A Town Like Alice, The Man Who Never Was and Pursuit of the Graf Spee); director Henry Cornelius’ 1953 comedy, Genevieve, which was nominated for Oscars in the Best Writing and Best Music categories and lastly, director Ralph Thomas’ 1959 remake of The 39 Steps, with More as the man on the run … and on a mission!

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

Midnight Releasing Hammers Away With Sledge On DVD This Coming Oct. 7

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
We’ve had chainsaws, axes and other “cutting-edge” weapons, but on Oct. 7 Midnight Releasing’s Brain Damage Films label will be using a bit of blunt force drama to run up the body count.   That’s the DVD debut date for the directing team of John B Sovie II and Kristian Hanson’s Sledge.

They know their horror films as Sledge begins with your standard genre-film set-up that includes a victim pool, a remote location and a homicidal maniac.   As they, the campers (aka: fresh supply of victims), sit around the campfire drinking a few beers, one of them, Alex (Dustin Bowman) graciously gives us the backstory on the local legend of Adam Lynch.

It seems that Adam is backwoods local who just snapped one day, put on a mask (which makes him even creepier) and then just started bludgeoning his friends and campers to death with his sledgehammer.   He didn’t stop there … skinning his victims and collecting heads became sort of a hobby. 
DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

Soon enough Adam discovers the fresh supply of campers who have “invaded” his woods and sets about “knocking” them off … the big question, as the action unfolds, will Sarah (Stephanie Tupper) be the last the last camper standing and somehow escape the relentless Adam!

Timed perfectly for the Halloween promotional season, Sledge includes — as a bonus goodie — commentary from filmmaker Kristian Hanson.

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