Category: Disney

VidAngel ordered to pay $62 million in lawsuit

LOS ANGELES — A jury has handed down a $62 million verdict against Utah-based VidAngel in a massive copyright lawsuit.

A jury on Monday found the Provo company guilty of infringing on copyrights of 819 films, awarding $75,000 per work for “copyright award” and $1,250 per work for a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. For the 819 works, the total award is $62,448,750.

“We find today’s ruling unfortunate, but it has not lessened our resolve to save filtering for families,” VidAngel wrote in a statement Monday. “VidAngel plans to appeal the District Court ruling, and explore options in the bankruptcy court. Our court system has checks and balances, and we are pursing (sic) options on that front as well.”

VidAngel, a company that offers a subscription service to filter movies for profanity, nudity, violence, sex and other content, faced a lawsuit from Hollywood titans including Disney, LucasFilm, Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox. They were accused of violating the movie studios’ copyrights through its service.

Despite VidAngels’ assertion that its filtering was allowed under the Family Movie Act, a federal judge ruled against it in 2015. VidAngel then relaunched itself as a filtering service over the top of streaming services like HBO Go, Amazon and Netflix.

VidAngel has previously argued that a significant verdict could force it into bankruptcy. The company declared bankruptcy in federal court in Utah, seeking to have its service upheld.

In a statement to the Hollywood trade publication Variety, the studios applauded the verdict.

“The jury today found that VidAngel acted willfully, and imposed a damages award that sends a clear message to others who would attempt to profit from unlawful infringing conduct at the expense of the creative community,” the plaintiffs said in the statement.

Fox 13 will update this story as more information becomes available.

‘Frozen 2’ Trailer Raises Questions About Elsa’s Powers

Don’t ever let it go. The first full trailer for “Frozen 2” dropped Tuesday morning.

The highly anticipated follow up to the 2013 Disney hit looks dark, as Elsa (Idina Menzel) swims through stormy ocean waters at night trying to find her way out of the cold water.

“The past is not what it seems. You must find the truth,” says Pabbie (Ciarán Hinds), the troll who helped Elsa in first film, in a voiceover. “Go north across the enchanted lands and into the unknown, but be careful,” the troll continues. “We have always feared Elsa’s powers were too much for this world, now we must hope they are enough.”

Audiences will also see the return of Anna (Kristen Bell), Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and Olaf (Josh Gad). Directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, “Frozen 2” will feature songs by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez.

Disney had released a first glimpse of the sequel back in February.

The film opens in theaters Nov. 22.

The ultimate insider’s guide to Disneyland’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland Park in Anaheim (Matt Petit/Disneyland Resort)

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Walt Disney Company celebrated the dedication of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge on Wednesday in a ceremony at Disneyland Park.

Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger unveiled the largest single-themed land expansion ever in a Disney park. Iger was joined in front of the Millennium Falcon by Star Wars icons including George Lucas, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Billy Dee Williams.

The land opens to the general public on May 31, and also at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida on Aug. 29.

The land spans 14 acres and includes more than a dozen venues. The Millennium Falcon, which is the first 100 percent complete Millennium Falcon ever built, is over 100 feet long. Guests will be able to create their own hand-built lightsaber and construct a custom droid.

“Redefining the theme park experience”

With Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Disney is redefining the theme park experience and setting a new bar for experiential storytelling,” said Bob Chapek, chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. “From each authentic detail to the land’s jaw-dropping scale, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge exceeds every expectation.”

“You’ve got the food and beverage all in-story,” Chapek said, using a term to describe how the new land wraps guests in the Star Wars storyline. “The ‘cast members’ are in-story. Of course, all the merchandise in the shops. It doesn’t feel like a gift shop. It feels like you’re actually in Batuu. That’s unique.”

Here’s all the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge video you could ever want:

Let’s start with the new flyover video from Disney: pic.twitter.com/XIlooHKn9N

— Scott Gustin (@ScottGustin) May 30, 2019

That “unique” experience, however, doesn’t come cheap. Disney reportedly spent $1 billion on the sprawling 14-acre land in Disneyland in Anaheim, California. A second Galaxy’s Edge is opening later this summer in Florida’s Disney World.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California (Richard Harbaugh/Disney Parks)

Disney is investing this money in its parks and resorts at a time when profits in its media division are falling. Profits hit a high in 2015, but have since dipped 15%. In that same period, profits for Disney parks and resorts have gone up 47%.

With synergy as the ongoing strategy for growing its bottom line, Disney is drawing inspiration from its biggest box office hits to upgrade its parks: A “Guardians of the Galaxy” roller coaster is coming to Florida’s Epcot. Marvel-theme attractions are coming to Disney’s California Adventure, Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland. And a “Zootopia”-themed land is coming to Shanghai’s Disneyland Park.

“We’re asked to build the physical manifestations of what our guests love to watch on screens,” Chapek said about how the parks play into Disney’s corporate strategy. “We’re really part of a big machine, a big story-telling machine, but we do it in a physical world. I think that’s what makes us a bit different.”

What to expect on opening day

When Galaxy’s Edge opens on Friday, it will have only one attraction: Millenium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run, an interactive ride piloted by the guests in the cockpit. But Chapek says Galaxy’s Edge is more than just a backdrop for a single ride.

“It’s not just about an attraction,” Chapek said. “I think the greatest attraction here is really the land itself. We think this is going to set a new high watermark for Disney theme parks, let alone all other theme parks.”

Some of the “hidden gems” inside Galaxy’s Edge: pic.twitter.com/KOqprxjkAs

— Scott Gustin (@ScottGustin) May 30, 2019

In addition to flying the Millennium Falcon using state-of-the-art video rendering technology, guests who visit Galaxy’s Edge can build their own lightsabers and droids, eat galactic fare like fried Endorian tip-yip, and drink Blue Milk, one of Luke Skywalker’s favorite beverages.

Galaxy’s Edge exemplifies Disney’s commitment to immersive entertainment. Each individual “cast member,” another name for theme park employees, came up with their own creative back story for their Galaxy’s Edge character.

“You look at the detail in the Millennium Falcon and all of a sudden, you suspend your disbelief that you’re in a theme park and you actually start believing you’re in the land of Batuu,” Chapek said. “If you interact with a ‘cast member,’ you get the depth of their own story and they’ve woven it into the larger story, the larger mythology, of Star Wars.”

Savi’s Workshop hand built lightsaber experience at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge pic.twitter.com/p32dhPnWiv

— Scott Gustin (@ScottGustin) May 30, 2019

Here are some “must-do” things inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge:

Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run

“The Millennium Falcon is a Star Wars icon, and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge makes dreams come true for guests who’ve wished to step aboard the “fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy.” In Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, they strap into the Falcon cockpit and take the controls as pilots, gunners or flight engineers on a mission to deliver smuggled goods while avoiding any … unnecessary entanglements.” – Disney

Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run: pic.twitter.com/g7ntcKQdjM

— Scott Gustin (@ScottGustin) May 30, 2019

Stroll the Black Spire Outpost Marketplace

“Black Spire Outpost in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is home to a bustling marketplace, full of vendors showcasing wares from across the galaxy. Guests can pick up authentic Batuuan attire with a stop at Black Spire Outfitters, start a collection of rare artifacts at Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities, or peek into the cages in the Creature Stall. The marketplace’s twisting pathway is just waiting to be explored, with something new to see seemingly around every turn.” – Disney

Black Spire Outpost Marketplace (part 2): pic.twitter.com/LSQXrrSlaR

— Scott Gustin (@ScottGustin) May 30, 2019

Try the Blue Milk

“Ever since Luke Skywalker sat down for a family meal in “Star Wars: A New Hope,” Star Wars fans have had this burning question: What does Blue Milk taste like? Now at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, they finally have their answer. The Milk Stand in the Black Spire Outpost marketplace offers both Blue and Green Milk, delicious frozen blends with dashes of fruity accents.” – Disney

Grab a Bite to Go at Ronto Roasters

“Whether it’s the large podracing engine hanging overhead, the former smelter droid turning a spit of meats or just the savory smells wafting by, Ronto Roasters is sure to grab guests’ attention. This marketplace stall offers mouth-watering Ronto Wraps and sweet-or-spicy Nuna Turkey Jerky, as well as a selection of specialty beverages.” – Disney

Craft a Lightsaber at Savi’s Workshop

“Constructing a lightsaber is a rite of passage in the life of a Jedi, as this elegant weapon from a more civilized age is attuned to its wielder through the Force. Guests in Savi’s Workshop – Handbuilt Lightsabers feel the presence of the Force as they craft their own lightsabers, customizing them with various hilts, décor and the all-important kyber crystals. Note: subject to availability, and reservations may be required.” – Disney

Build a Droid Inside the Droid Depot

“Droids can be some of the most loyal companions in the entire Star Wars galaxy, and now guests have the chance to build and customize their own astromech friends at the Droid Depot. Patrons pick pieces and parts off a conveyor belt to construct one of two core models (R-series or BB-series), which can then interact with elements throughout Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Note: subject to availability, and reservations may be required.” – Disney

Droid Depot: pic.twitter.com/3jWUFV5vle

— Scott Gustin (@ScottGustin) May 30, 2019

Grab a drink at Oga’s Cantina

“The heartbeat of Black Spire Outpost, Oga’s Cantina is a place where even the blaster-bolt scorches on the walls tell a story. Guests can gather to share their own tales from around the galaxy as they enjoy exotic beverages served in unique vessels and listen to spirited musical entertainment from DJ R-3X, the former droid pilot from Star Tours. Whether sidling up to the cantina’s counter or sliding into one of the establishment’s back booths, this is the best place to catch up on local gossip, make a new friend or form a new alliance.” – Disney

And there’s still more to come with Galaxy’s Edge

Rise of the Resistance, another attraction, will open later this year. Disney hasn’t revealed much about the ride, but we do know it will have multiple ride systems, full-sized AT-AT Walkers and even a John Williams score.

Disney is also planning a full-service Star Wars-themed hotel, which will eventually open near Disney World’s Hollywood Studios.

The resort will feature a starship design, employees in character, and an option for guests to dress in Star Wars attire as well. Chapek says it’s “much more akin to a cruise ship journey” than staying in a hotel.

“You stay immersed in the story for several days in a row. Then, of course, when you finally do land, you land in Batuu,” he said. “The most important thing is it’s not a hotel, it’s a journey.”

Vintage Disney collectibles: priceless or worthless?

SALT LAKE CITY — The market for Disney collectibles is vast, and it can also be confusing.

Some common and classic Disney items you may have are being listed on bidding websites for thousands of dollars.

One seller is asking $15,000 for a vintage “Beauty and the Beast” VHS tape.

A collector with decades of experience gathering vintage Disney comics and Fantasia memorabilia warns people to beware of those asking prices because mass-produced items just don’t have an allure.

“They really started manufacturing for the collector market, and to me, that’s the death of real collecting,” said Ken Sanders, the owner of Ken Sanders Rare Books.

Some of the most valuable items were produced prior to the 1970s, before the development of the collector market.

Turning Disney into dollars: old memorabilia going for big bucks online

SALT LAKE CITY — The market for Disney collectibles is vast, and it can also be confusing.

Some common and classic Disney items you may have are being listed on bidding websites for thousands of dollars.

We found a post for a “Beauty and the Beast” VHS tape asking for $15,000.

A collector with decades of experience gathering vintage Disney comics and “Fantasia” memorabilia warned people to beware of those asking prices because those mass-produced items just don’t have an allure.

“They really started manufacturing for the collector market, and to me, that’s the death of real collecting,” said Ken Sanders, the owner of Ken Sanders Rare Books.

Some of the most valuable items were produced prior to the 1970s, before the development of the collector market.

Disney is taking full control of Hulu

Disney’s takeover of Hulu is just about complete.

Comcast on Tuesday agreed to sell its ownership stake in the streaming video service to Disney. The sale won’t happen for at least another five years, but Disney will take full operational control of Hulu right now.

The deal is a sign of how much streaming video has changed in the last few years. Hulu was at one time a joint venture between several media titans: Disney, 21st Century Fox, Comcast’s NBCUniversal and Time Warner (now WarnerMedia). None of those companies had majority control.

Now Hulu is effectively a Disney product. The company became the majority stakeholder in the streaming video service after it closed a deal for most of Fox’s assets in March. Last month, WarnerMedia — now owned by AT&T — agreed to sell its 9.5% interest back to Hulu. (CNN is a division of WarnerMedia.)

Comcast owns roughly a third of Hulu. Under the terms of the deal, Comcast will sell its interest to Disney for Hulu’s fair market value no earlier than 2024. Disney has guaranteed that the sale price will reflect a minimum total equity value of $27.5 billion for Hulu at that time, according to a press release.

Moody’s called the deal “credit positive” for Comcast.

“Hulu represents the best of television,” Disney CEO Bob Iger said in a statement, adding that the company is now able to “completely integrate” Hulu into its streaming plans in a way that makes the service “even more compelling and a greater value for consumers.”

Disney has already made clear that Hulu will be a critical part of its streaming strategy. When the company debuted its Disney+ service to investors last month, it also spoke at length about the future of Hulu, which has more adult programming, like “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

Disney executives talked about potentially bundling its services together for a discounted price. They also said they want all of their services, including Hulu, to reach profitability within the next several years.

“Hulu is the third leg of Disney’s streaming strategy,” said Trip Miller, a Disney shareholder and managing partner at Gullane Capital Partners. “Six months ago, you had four owners to the business and it was very complicated and confusing — so this brings about a lot of clarity and control of direction for Disney.”

Right now, Hulu has roughly 27 million paid subscribers on its service. It still lags far beyond chief competitor Netflix, which has nearly 150 million subscribers globally, 60 million of whom are from the United States. Hulu is only available in the United States.

But Hulu is beefing up its original content offerings. Earlier this month, the streaming service showed off a slate of upcoming programs, including “The Dropout,” a limited series about rise and fall of Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes. It’s also working on two new live-action Marvel series, “Ghost Rider” and “Helstrom.”

Hulu is going to need more programming as it prepares to eventually part ways with NBC content. Right now, Hulu carries a lot of NBC shows, including “Saturday Night Live,” “The Voice” and “The Good Place.” Comcast has agreed with Hulu to extend the service’s license of NBCUniversal content through late 2024.

NBCUniversal can end most of its agreements with Hulu in three years. One year from now, NBC will have the right to carry some of the content it licenses to Hulu on its own streaming service, in return for reducing the fees Hulu pays to host that content.

“As Disney continues to grow their subscriber base, retaining Comcast/NBC Universal content is important,” Miller said.

It’s not a surprise that NBCUniversal would want to reserve some of its content for its own streaming service, which it said earlier this year would launch in 2020.

Several of the major media companies are pulling content from other streaming platforms so they can bulk up their own offerings. For example, Disney took a bunch of its shows and movies off of Netflix in preparation for the debut of the streaming service Disney+ later this year.

WarnerMedia and Netflix, meanwhile, reached an agreement to keep “Friends” on Netflix this year, but WarnerMedia reserved the right to put that show on its own forthcoming streaming service, if it wants. And AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson reportedly said at a media conference in Boston on Tuesday that the company is going to pull the content it has licensed elsewhere and “bring that back into the fold.”

Disney Announces Dates for Three New ‘Star Wars’ Films and Four ‘Avatar’ Sequels

Disney announced on Tuesday that it is producing three more “Star Wars” films that will hit theaters starting in 2022.

That means there will be a three-year hiatus between “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” which hits theaters on December 20, and the next film, which will debut on December 16, 2022.

Two more “Star Wars” films will follow in December of 2024 and 2026, according to Disney, which unveiled a new schedule on Tuesday that also includes release dates for four “Avatar” sequels.

The first “Avatar” movie is the highest-grossing film in history, bringing in roughly $2.8 billion at the worldwide box office in 2009.

“Avatar 2’s” release date has been bumped from December 18, 2020 to December, 17, 2021. It will then alternate every year with “Star Wars,” releasing films in December of 2023, 2025 and 2027.

Disney did not give titles or plot details for the new “Star Wars” and “Avatar” films. It’s not clear if the three “Star Wars” movies are part of a trilogy or if they are spinoffs of the main Skywalker saga. CNN Business has reached out to Disney for comment.

“Star Wars” and “Avatar” make up two of the biggest blockbuster brands in Hollywood history.

“Star Wars” has made roughly $9.5 billion at the global box office since 1977. That includes four films produced by Disney that have made nearly $5 billion at the worldwide box office since 2015.

Disney acquired “Avatar” when it completed its $71 billion purchase for most of 21st Century Fox’s assets earlier this year.

The company also announced that there will be two Marvel films next year on May 1 and November 6. After that, the studio will release three films in 2021 and three in 2022.

Marvel is coming off the highest-grossing film opening in history with “Avengers: Endgame,” which made a record $1.2 billion when it debuted last month.

That included a record $357 million opening weekend in North America.