On December 26, Warner Bros’ Final Destination 5 will become the first UltraViolet-enabled title to be released in the UK via DVD, Blu-ray and Triple Play. From then on, all of the studio’s future home entertainment releases in the UK — including Happy Feet Two, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and The Dark Knight Rises — will fall under the UltraViolet “buy once, play anywhere” scheme. As with its practice in the U.S., Warner will offer the streams via Flixster.
Warner Bros was the first to release UV titles in the U.S. back in October with Horrible Bosses and Green Lantern. Although I was told by a Warner UK spokesman that there is no industry evidence as yet on the impact of the added UltraViolet aspect, the Associated Press today reports that consumers of those earlier films found the system didn’t work as expected. Warner Bros UK spokeswoman Deborah Lincoln, who had not read the AP report but was aware of certain complaints, tells me the confusion was largely related to the fact that those first titles didn’t have download ability to certain devices — which she assured me was not going to be the case in the UK. In part, she said, the confusion may have come from early media reports regarding UltraViolet touting it as an anytime, anywhere technology for all devices including IOS — … Read More »
That’s the most interesting part of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s announcement today about its video plans for the movie starring Brad Pitt as Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane. Yes, it’s noteworthy that people who buy a Blu-ray disc will also be able to access digital streams of Moneyball from the industry’s new UltraViolet initiative. Sony’s a vocal supporter of that, and already offers the same online streaming deal for people who buy Blu-ray discs of Smurfs and Friends With Benefits. But Sony’s stood alone so far in selling digital downloads of movies before they hit the stores. Digital sales of Moneyball begin on December 22 while the discs come out on January 10 (DVDs will go for suggested retail price of $30.99 and Blu-ray for $35.99). That’s a longer window than Sony gave to its first two films that provided early digital downloads: Bad Teacher was sold online about two weeks ahead of discs in October. The second film, 30 Minutes Or Less, had a similar window in November. The studio liked the results. Sony says total digital revenues were 24% higher than comparable films released the same day as discs — and it saw no signs of cannibalization from VOD.
UPDATE: The question about whether Apple devices can show UltraViolet films is complicated, it seems. The folks at Warner Bros say that iPhones and iPads can handle them – but not through the traditional channel, the iTunes Store. Users must download an app to also register with Flixster, a site that Time Warner owns. Movies can be streamed, but not downloaded yet. Sony’s likely to have a similar work-around for its Dec. 2 release of UltraViolet-enabled Blu-ray discs for Friends With Benefits and The Smurfs.
PREVIOUS, 10:50 AM: There’s still a fair amount of skepticism about the entertainment industry’s long-awaited UltraViolet program today as it kicks off with Warner Bros’ home video release of Horrible Bosses — to be followed on Friday by The Green Lantern. The DVD and Blu-ray versions of Bosses will be first that make it possible for buyers to watch it on mobile devices from UltraViolet’s Internet cloud. Studios and consumer electronics companies have a lot at stake in promoting the “buy once, play anywhere” concept. It’s part of a process to slow the stomach-churning decline in home video sales. Consumers will spend about $16.9B on home video this year, down from $24.4B in 2004, SNL Kagan says. If UltraViolet catches on, then it also could give studios a lot of flexibility to control the way their films are presented and handled as consumers begin to abandon discs and just rely on digital streams and downloads.
The problem? UltraViolet movies won’t play on Apple gadgets such as the iPhone and iPad. The initiative also won’t include movies from Disney, which is preparing its own cloud-based system called Disney Studio All Access. “Not only is the ecosystem not fully launched, with a common downloadable file format a ways off, but there has been no consumer education on the technological transition from a pre-UV world to the new UV ecosystem,” BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield says. Read More »
FX’s buying spree of marquee summer movie titles continues with deals for comediesFriends With Benefits and Horrible Bosses. Additionally, the network has the rights to current No. 1 opener Captain America: The First Avenger under FX’s 2008 output deal with Marvel. The three movies join recent acquisitions Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Bad Teacher, Green Lantern, The Hangover Part II, Rio, Super 8, X-Men: First Class, Thor, Just Go With It, The Green Hornet,Tron: Legacy, and Kung Fu Panda 2.
SUNDAY AM, 6TH UPDATE: Wait a minute — aren’t all the superheroes in San Diego at Comic-Con? With so much news from the Con coming hourly all weekend, it’s been tough to keep up with North American box office where yet another superhero pic unreeled this summer. Distributor Paramount had been expecting Marvel/Disney’s Captain America: The First Avenger to open with a $60+M weekend. But the studio on Sunday said the actual total is $65.8 million (even though rival studios put the total much less). Paramount’s figure would better this summer’s original superhero Thor’s $65.7M. But I believe we’ll have to wait until Monday’s actuals to decide who is the biggest superhero of the summer since Sunday’s number is just an estimate right now. As a Paramount exec replied to my questioning his number, “Harry Potter fell 16% last Sunday. We are estimating down 17%. Whether it ends up $65.8M or a little less, it crushed Green Lantern and X-Men: First Class” — both of which were this summer’s superhero movies but made and distributed by different studios (Warner Bros and Fox respectively). Saturday’s take for Captain America of $21.9M was -10% from Friday’s $25.7M North American grosses from 3,715 theaters including around 2,500 showing the movie in 3D. Friday’s take includes $4M midnights from 2,000 locations, better than Thor and Green Lantern as well as prequel/reboot X-Men: First Class. The movie earned an ‘A-’ CinemaScore. (Thor earned a B+). Exit polls showed 43% … Read More »
And then there were none. The last of the leftover midseason series new NBC chief Bob Greenblatt inherited from the old regime, Friends with Benefits, is getting a time slot … sort of. The ensemble comedy series will air back-to-back episodes in the least-watched hour on television, Saturdays at 8-9 PM, starting June 25. The second-to-last NBC midseason series to finally launch was Love Bites, which premiered last week in the Thursday 10 PM slot it was originally slated in a year ago.
EXCLUSIVE: After directing Easy A and the upcoming Justin Timberlake-Mila Kunis bedroom comedy Friends With Benefits for Screen Gems, Will Gluck has made a two-year development and production deal with Sony Pictures that covers TV and film and involves Screen Gems, Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Television. Gluck started his directing career at Screen Gems with Fired Up!, and after Easy A grossed north of $75 million, Screen Gems’ Clint Culpepper greenlit Friends With Benefits and bought another project to reteam Gluck with Emma Stone. Gluck is currently developing Sex On The Moon at Columbia Pictures for producers Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti and Michael DeLuca. Gluck started out in TV as a staffer for The John Larroquette Show and was a writing producer on several other sitcoms, so it’s conceivable that TV will be an important component in a deal negotiated by UTA.
I’d heard this deal was coming weeks ago, and waited for the studio to announce it through Deadline with Sony toppers Michael Lynton and Amy Pascal, and Screen Gems president Culpepper. Pascal called Gluck “an extraordinary talent who has a unique comedic voice. He has now directed three films for us, and each one was distinctive and contemporary. He writes and directs movies that are timeless, hilarious, engaging and disarming. Michael, Clint and I have loved working with him, and this deal will allow him to channel his energy in any creative direction he hopes to pursue.”
EXCLUSIVE: Friends with Benefits co-star Ryan Hansen has landed the male lead in another NBC comedy project, pilot Lovelives. Lovelives, from 20th TV, Chernin Entertainment and writer Chris Sheridan, is described as a sophisticated, adult multi-camera comedy about a couple, Tim (Hansen) and Holly, and their challenges of love and infidelity. Tim is an attractive and smart professor of literature at Fordham University who is less than honest with Holly. For Gersh-repped Hansen, Lovelives is formally in second position to Friends with Benefits, which is yet to receive an air date. The series is also for the same network (NBC) and from the same studio (20th TV) as Lovelives, making this second position as safe as they come. Hansen previously co-starred on Veronica Mars and Party Down.
It must be frisky trailer week, because Deadline has got hold of yet another movie trailer–this one is Red Band–based on the concept of coupling without commitment. The latest is Friends with Benefits, the Screen Gems comedy that stars Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis as close friends who want sex without the usual messy relationship that comes with it, and hop into bed with each other hoping it won’t affect their friendship. Earlier this week came the trailer for Hall Pass, about two randy married guys who are given a pass by their wives to cheat for a week, and Just Go With It, with Adam Sandler playing a guy who invents a fake family to bed a beauty played by Brooklyn Decker. And Paramount put out a trailer for No Strings Attached, with Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman playing roles similar to what Timberlake and Kunis are seen doing below. You might recall, the Paramount/Montecito film originally bore the title Fuckbuddies, which would have placed severe limits on marketing. The studio then tried to use Friends With Benefits, only to find Screen Gems already registered the title. But Paramount might have the last laugh. According to its trailer, No Strings Attached hits theaters January, 2011, while Friends with Benefits won’t be released until next summer. Judging from this spate of upcoming movies, has Hollywood decided that monogamy and committed relationship are out of style?
EXCLUSIVE: Zach Cregger has landed a lead role on NBC’s midseason ensemble comedy series Friends with Benefits. The 20th TV/Imagine TV project, whose pilot was directed by David Dobkin, explores modern-day romance through the eyes of five friends, each looking for “the one” but in the meantime settling for “friends with benefits.” Cregger will play one of them, a nerdy but cute hopeless romantic who is worth $12 million after selling an algorithm to Google. He replaces Fran Kranz who played the role in the pilot, one of two Friends with Benefits leads that were recast after the upfronts. Andre Holland was recently tapped for the other, replacing Ian Reed Kesler. Cregger starred in another NBC comedy pilot this past development season, The Pink House. He also is a founding member of The Whitest Kids U’Know sketch comedy troupe.