Warner Bros and Dish Network’s Blockbuster are at odds over a rental-release window for the studio’s films, and now Warners has stopped giving Blockbuster its latest releases. According to the Financial Times, the retailer is refusing Warner Bros’ request to adhere to a 28-day window between films going on sale and their availability for rent, and has purchased films like Horrible Bosses and Green Lantern on the open market to make them available in stores. Those two titles are the first to be released by the studio on the UltraViolet service, which allows playback on multiple devices, so it’s no coincidence that Warners wants to protect its ability to add value in the sale window via such initiatives in the face of declining DVD revenues (see Will ‘Horrible Bosses’ In UltraViolet Begin A Turnaround For Home Video?). “The question is: how do we make ownership more valuable and attractive?” Warner Bros Home Entertainment president Kevin Tsujihara told the FT. “We have started the process of creating a window in bricks-and-mortar DVD and Blu-ray rental.” He added: “(Blockbuster) felt it was important to continue to offer day and date rental, so rather than work with us they went around us.” And watch out, Netflix and Redbox: Tsujihara also said Warner Bros planned to put the same pressure on you, too. “The Netflix and Redbox deals are going to be expiring at the end of the year and beginning of next year and it’s likely we will try to extend those windows,” he told the FT.
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.
RAUNCH RULES: ‘Horrible Bosses’ #2, ‘Zookeeper’ #3, ‘Transformers 3′ Still #1 And Now Top Grossing 2011 Domestic Film
SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM UPDATE: Better late than never. I could blame my Horrible Bosses but they’d just claim to be my Zookeeper. (The reason, actually, is far less interesting and much more banal.) That said, both new movies outperformed their tracking and scored ‘B+’ CinemaScores. Though that sucking sound you heard starting Thursday was because of the giant tracking numbers for the upcoming final Harry Potter installment which made it hard for this weekend’s releases to show strength on paper. Overall Friday through Sunday moviegoing should total $155M, or -15% from last year. Refined numbers in the morning. Here’s the Top Ten:
1. Transformers 3 3D (Paramount) Week 2 [4,088 Theaters]
Friday $14.9M, Saturday $18.4M, Weekend $47M (-54%), Cume $261M
A very gold hold. Plus it now holds 2011′s record as the top grossing domestic film so far this year. (This 3D summer’s Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides made the vast majority of its money abroad…) Meanwhile, I’ve heard from a reliable source that Michael Bay should make between $80M and $100M from Paramount’s Transformers: Dark Of The Moon. And, if that’s not enough to make you call Hollywood’s suicide hotline, then this might be: Transformers 3 will now be the highest grossing movie of the year. And its 2nd weekend is running +10% of Transformers 2‘s. Internationally, pic remained #1 on the foreign circuit this weekend, grossing a big $93M from 9,926 locations in 59 markets. So after only two weekends of release, the actioner has amassed an overseas cume of $384M anf global cume of $645M.
2. Horrible Bosses (New Line/Warner Bros) NEW [3,040 Theaters]
Friday $9.9M, Saturday $10.3M, Cume $28.1M
Yet another New Line high concept/low brow comedy had a good opening day that improved on Saturday — demonstrating that raunchy vagina- and scrotum-centric comedies (like Bridesmaids, The Hangover Part II, Bad Teacher) still rule the box office this summer. Audiences sampled Horrible Bosses with 51% of men rating it an ‘A-’ and 49% of women rating it a ‘B+’. The studio tells me that the film “played evenly well” across North America, over-indexing in Los Angeles, Cincinnati, Denver, and Kansas City. With 74% ripe on Rotten Tomatoes going into the weekend, plusses were the chemistry between leads Charlie Day, Jason Bateman, and Jason Sudeikis, as well as the poison oozing from Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, and Jennifer Aniston. Great Warner Bros marketing tapped into the universal relatability of contempt that workers have for their bosses rather than relied on the script’s lame gags. The campaign used tag lines (‘Is your boss a slave driving you psycho?’, ‘Is your boss a sex crazed maneater?’, ‘Is your boss a total sleazy tool?’) to good effect. The studio created early awareness with a hosting slot on the MTV Movie Awards. I don’t understand why it took this $35M-budgeted film’s producers Brett Ratner and Jay Stern (paired on Rush Hour) four years to get this to the big screen, but it got there once director Seth Gordon nailed the tone on his first pitch. Credits on the script go to Michael Markowitz, John Francis Daley, and Jonathan Goldstein.
3. Zookeeper (MGM/Sony) NEW [3,482 Theaters]
Friday $7.4M, Saturday $7.5M, Weekend $21M
I remember when MGM production chief Mary Parent greenlit this script and got Kevin James at a pre-Paul Blart: Mall Cop bargain price. Then MGM slid slowly into bankruptcy, and the film became collateral damage and eventually a co-fiinanced production with Sony Pictures. Along the way the budget ballooned to $80M (because of all that talking animals CGI work). So now the pressure is on for the film to perform next weekend. At least Kevin James did his job and opened the movie to around $20M which is all anyone can ask of a star. Exit polling showed that audiences were 48% general moviegoers and 52% parents and children; overall 47% were male and 53% female, with 41% under age 25 while 59% over age 25. But it doesn’t bode well that PG Zookeeper didn’t get a Saturday kiddie bump especially when it had been tracking well enough with audiences and families to convince Sony execs to move it from October 2010 into a coveted July 2011 slot. (After cancelling Spider-Man 4 in favor of a reboot, the studio was light on summer product. Given the $1+B success of Pirates Of The Caribbean 4, is that the smart move now?)
Sony made Zookeeper seem like a tentpole with a petting zoo inside Caesar’s Palace at Cinema-Con and a screening inside the gargantuan Colisseum. The studio tapped 220 zoos and aquariums nationwide in over 50 markets for live remote broadcasts. During the NBA post-season, Zookeeper was the exclusive motion picture partner for the finals, and Kevin James taped a series of interstitials using the NBA’s talking basketball and the film’s talking gorilla. Sony is hoping Zookeeper delivers a strong multiple here but also overseas, where it debuts this week in Mexico and Germany. I was surprised that celeb voices like Sly’s and Cher’s and Adam’s (and, yes, even Judd Apatow’s) weren’t more hyped in this country. Speaking of Sandler, this is another production pairing Sandler’s Happy Madison with James; other producers are Todd Garner, Jack Giarraputo, and Walt Becker. Directed by Frank Coraci, the screenplay is credited to Nick Bakay & Rock Reuben & Kevin James and Jay Scherick & David Ronn, with story by Jay Scherick & David Ronn.
The Warner Bros comedy directed by Seth Gordon stars Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day and is from Brett Ratner’s Rat Entertainment. It opens wide July 8.rtmp://streaming.deadline.com/ondemand/video/Horrible_Bosses_900.flv
Now here is perfect casting. Kevin Spacey has joined the roster of Horrible Bosses, the Seth Gordon-directed New Line comedy that stars Jennifer Aniston, Jamie Foxx, Colin Farrell, Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis. Donald Sutherland has also joined the cast–playing a nice …