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Laika signs new distribution deal with Shout Factory (1 Viewer)

Jake Lipson

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This is a surprise.

Laika has signed a new home entertainment distribution deal with Shout Factory for their first four films. This includes Coraline (2009), ParaNorman (2012), The Boxtrolls (2014) and Kubo and the Two Strings (2016.) These were previously distributed theatrically by Focus Features and on disc via Universal.

Of particular note to me is the line "The offerings will include new bonus content, collectible packaging, and specialty releases which are in development."


I have the previously released Universal discs of all four of these and I don't think there's anything wrong with them. But since I love the movies, new bonus features would be very tempting, so I'll be curious to see what is announced. Obviously, I don't know anything about their plans, but it seems to me that Shout would be more likely to release 4K discs of these than Universal would if the distribution rights had remained there.

That being said, physical media sales were down again last year, as they have been for a long time, and these are catalog titles now. They are really great catalog titles, but they are catalog titles nonetheless, and not even huge box office draws. Other than the possibility of 4K upgrades, who exactly do they think will want to buy these when they come out from Shout Factory who didn't already buy them when Universal was distributing?

Notably, Missing Link, their most recent film from 2019, is not included in this deal. That one went out theatrically via Annapurna and on disc via Fox. Perhaps the original distribution deal is still in effect for that.
 
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Stephen_J_H

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Missing Link was part of the Annapurna/MGM joint releasing venture previously known as Mirror and now known as United Artists Releasing. While some of those titles were released by Fox, after the Fox/Disney merger, it's very much on a case by case basis, with some going to Universal and some going to WB. In any event, because it wasn't released by Focus, it wouldn't be part of the same agreement.

I just hope this means they'll reissue Kubo and the Two Strings in 3D, as I've struggled with getting a copy. I have Coraline, ParaNorman and BoxTrolls, but haven't bought Kubo or Missing Link because I can't get them in 3D here.
 

Jake Lipson

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I just hope this means they'll reissue Kubo and the Two Strings in 3D, as I've struggled with getting a copy. I have Coraline, ParaNorman and BoxTrolls, but haven't bought Kubo or Missing Link because I can't get them in 3D here.

Universal released Kubo in 3D when it first came out and Amazon still has it available from third party sellers.

Amazon product
 

Jake Lipson

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I'm in Canada and current COVID restrictions mean that sometimes I can't order media from amazon.com, depending on which facility is shipping it.

Oh. Too bad. Maybe add it to your cart and see what happens?
 

Jake Lipson

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I don't believe there was any 3D disc release of Missing Link.

You're right. Of course, it barely even played theatrically in 3D. Mine showed it in 2D only (which I was fine with because I can't handle 3D) and a few other places showed it once a day in 3D. Then it bombed, so they really didn't have incentive to add additional screenings, 3D or otherwise, and it was essentially out of wide release within a couple weeks. Too bad, because I really like that movie and it deserved better.
 

Jake Lipson

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The new editions have been announced.

Coraline and Boxtrolls will be released August 31. ParaNorman and Kubo will be released on September 14.


I'm really not sure what to think of this. Although it says the transfers will be remastered, I don't think the Universal editions left much room for improvement. They're adding feature-length storyboards, essays (I guess these are booklets?) and an "Inside Laika" featurette to each. It isn't clear whether the new featurette is the same across all the films or not.

I don't particularly love the new cover art either.

Also, it's a little odd that there is not a box set of all four films. Universal packaged the films together many times.

They have my attention, but I think I'll wait for reviews to decide for sure if I want to pick these up again.

What does everyone else think?
 
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Robert Crawford

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The new editions have been announced.

Coraline and Boxtrolls will be released August 31. ParaNorman and Kubo will be released on September 14.


I'm really not sure what to think of this. Although it says the transfers will be remastered, I don't think the Universal editions left much room for improvement. They're adding feature-length storyboards, essays (I guess these are booklets?) and an "Inside Laika" featurette to each. It isn't clear whether the new featurette is the same across all the films or not.

I don't particularly love the new cover art either.

Also, it's a little odd that there is not a box set of all four films. Universal packaged the films together many times.

They have my attention, but I think I'll wait for reviews to decide for sure if I want to pick these up again.

What does everyone else think?
They've been added to our Amazon's Pre-Order Listing.
 

Jake Lipson

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I think the main purpose of these releases is that Laika wanted to take the films over to Shout when Universal's distribution deal expired. So, obviously, the Universal editions were going to go out of print and Shout was going to put out new editions.

Whether that was intended to spur double dips, or simply have Shout deliver new editions for anybody who hasn't purchased them yet, is unclear.

Obviously, the companies involved know that many of their fans already have these discs, so I'm sure they don't expect everyone to double dip.
 

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I already have the 3D editions of all these, so I doubt I'll be partaking. I never got Missing Link, so if they release that I'd be interested.
 

Jake Lipson

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I never got Missing Link, so if they release that I'd be interested.

Missing Link was not and never has been part of Laika's distribution deal with Universal. The rights to the four films that Focus Features originally distributed have reverted to Laika, who chose to take them to Shout Factory.

Missing Link was made with Annapurna Pictures. Annapurna had a disc distribution deal with Fox signed prior to Disney's acquisition of Fox. The rights for Missing Link did not transfer to Shout Factory probably because it Is more recent than the other films and therefore still under its original deal.

That being said, as far as I know the original Blu-ray of Missing Link is still in print and should be easy to get. Because it is distributed by Fox which is now Disney, I don't know about getting it from Amazon, but Walmart has it for $9.96. I have it and it is a good quality release, so if you're interested, there's no reason to wait for Shout Factory to put it out. We don't know when or if Annapurna's rights to it will lapse, and the existing release is quite good.

 

Stephen_J_H

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Missing Link was not and never has been part of Laika's distribution deal with Universal. The rights to the four films that Focus Features originally distributed have reverted to Laika, who chose to take them to Shout Factory.

Missing Link was made with Annapurna Pictures. Annapurna had a disc distribution deal with Fox signed prior to Disney's acquisition of Fox. The rights for Missing Link did not transfer to Shout Factory probably because it Is more recent than the other films and therefore still under its original deal.

That being said, as far as I know the original Blu-ray of Missing Link is still in print and should be easy to get. Because it is distributed by Fox which is now Disney, I don't know about getting it from Amazon, but Walmart has it for $9.96. I have it and it is a good quality release, so if you're interested, there's no reason to wait for Shout Factory to put it out. We don't know when or if Annapurna's rights to it will lapse, and the existing release is quite good.

Missing Link was released theatrically through United Artists Releasing, which is a joint venture between MGM and Annapurna [previously called Mirror]. This would explain the Fox release, as it came out on disc and digital on 23 June 2019. As far as I know there is no 3D disc release of Missing Link, international or otherwise. It's a great little flick and worth picking up.
 

Jake Lipson

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Incidentally, these cover images have been swapped out and are being used as the images representing the digital versions of these films on Vudu. I previously acquired the digital copies via codes included in the previous Universal releases of these films. I'm not sure if this means that the digital versions have been swapped out for the new Shout Factory masters or not, but it does seem as though Shout Factory is handling these films digitally now as well and they are going for consistent covers among the Blu-ray and digital formats. The new Blu-rays are not announced as coming with digital codes, though.
 

Jake Lipson

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Amazon put up the back cover for the new edition of Kubo. The original announcement I posted back in post #8 said that all of the movies would have a new "Inside Laika" featurette, but it wasn't clear if they would be the same featurette on all releases or not. Based on this, it looks like they are indeed specific to each film.

Kubo and ParaNorman (releasing September 14) are now pre-ordering for $17.99. Coraline and ParaNorman (releasing August 31) are still at $22.99 each at the moment. $22.99 is also the price for each of the four at the official Laika website store, which makes me think that it is probably the retail price.

Kubo new back.jpg

I'd still like to see some reviews before I decide about buying these again, so hopefully Shout Factory sends these out for places like HTF and Blu-ray.com to take a look at in advance.

I also don't know why they aren't doing a box set of the new Blu-rays. Paying $22.99 each for new Blu-rays of catalog titles that I already own is a big ask, and they all come with a DVD too which I won't use. If there was a reasonably priced 4-pack with just the Blu-ray discs, which Universal also did with their editions back in the day, I might consider that. But so far they're only getting individual releases.

I love all of these films but Kubo is my favorite one by a very wide margin, so it's also possible I could pick that one up and then go back and get the others if I think the double dip was worth it.
 
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Jake Lipson

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This is not strictly related to the new Blu-rays, but I figured it would be good to put this here. Coraline and ParaNorman will have theatrical screenings with Fathom Events soon for the 15th anniversary of Laika.


I love these films and I would love to see them in a theater again, but I think I'll pass under these circumstances. I have only started to go back to the theater on rare occasions during the pandemic, and I still feel the need to be masked when I'm there. I don't think I can justify going out to a rerun of an older movie that I already own during the pandemic, which is a different equation than going to see a new movie like In the Heights or Black Widow. Fathom screenings are also higher-priced than usual movie tickets here, and while I have gone to them in the past, the idea of going out and pqying a premium during a pandemic to see something I already own is a no go. I would probably be more inclined to double dip on the new Blu-rays than pay an upcharge to see them In theaters right now. But maybe that's just me.
 

Jake Lipson

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The new edition of ParaNorman (release date September 14) has dropped down to $14.95 on Amazon. This is the lowest price yet for one of these Laika reissues.

Kubo (also September 14) is $17.99 currently.

Coraline and Boxtrolls (both August 31) are still stuck at $22.99 each.

I have currently pre-ordered the two September titles. I'm not totally sure if I will keep the pre-orders or not as I'd like to see some reviews and comments about the quality of the new bonus features, as well as whether or not the new transfers are actually improved. But I am willing to consider double dips at the lower prices, so wanted to lock those in. I'll decide closer to release when we hopefully will have more information if I will keep them or not.

It's also interesting that the two later releases have lowered their prices first while the two that come out first are still higher.

Also, Amazon posted the back cover for ParaNorman. This confirms that at least one of the new "Inside LAIKA" featurettes is unique to ParaNorman and not the same one as on Kubo's disc.

ParaNorman back.jpg
 
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Jake Lipson

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The release date for the new editions of Coraline and The Boxtrolls is a week away, next Tuesday, August 31.

Does anyone know if Shout Factory will be sending out copies to online reviewers? I am very curious about the quality of these new editions, so a review be very helpful in determining whether I want to double dip or not.
 

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