Kubrick’s ‘2001’ to Be Feted at Cannes and Released in 4K HDR for 50th

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, Warner Bros. Pictures will debut an “unrestored” 70mm print of the director’s groundbreaking science fiction epic at the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival and screen it in select U.S. theaters in 70mm beginning May 18.

The world premiere will be held May 12 during the Cannes Classics section of the festival, featuring an introduction by award-winning filmmaker Christopher Nolan. The screening is also scheduled to be attended by members of Stanley Kubrick’s family, including his daughter, Katharina Kubrick, and longstanding producing partner and brother-in-law, Jan Harlan.

Warner Bros. will continue the celebration later this year when Warner Bros. Home Entertainment releases 2001: A Space Odyssey for the first time in 4K resolution with HDR. Also produced in close collaboration with Nolan, the home entertainment release will be available in the fall of 2018.

For the first time since the original release, this 70mm print was struck from new printing elements made from the original camera negative. This is a true photochemical film recreation, according to the studio. There are no digital tricks, remastered effects, or revisionist edits. This is the unrestored film that recreates the cinematic event audiences experienced 50 years ago.

A longtime admirer of Kubrick, Nolan worked closely with the team at Warner Bros. Pictures throughout the mastering process.

“One of my earliest memories of cinema is seeing Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, in 70mm, at the Leicester Square Theatre in London with my father,” Nolan said in a statement. “The opportunity to be involved in recreating that experience for a new generation, and of introducing our new unrestored 70mm print of Kubrick’s masterpiece in all its analogue glory at the Cannes Film Festival is an honor and a privilege.”

“I’m delighted that 2001: A Space Odyssey will be reissued in 70mm, and that Cannes has chosen to honor it,” said Christiane Kubrick in a statement. “If Stanley were alive today, we know he would be in admiration of the films of Christopher Nolan. And so, on behalf of Stanley’s family, I would personally like to thank Christopher for supporting his film.”

Nolan will also participate in a Cannes Masterclass, set for May 13, during which he will discuss his filmography and also share his passion for the work of Stanley Kubrick.

 

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Netflix Snags 8 of Top 10 Digital Originals on Weekly ‘Demand’ Chart

U.S. audiences are increasingly consuming subscription streaming content over linear offerings, with Netflix dominating the top 10 digital originals chart for the week ended March 24 with no fewer than eight titles, according to Parrot Analytics’ Demand Expressions data.

Marvel’s “Jessica Jones” was the top digital original show for the third consecutive week, with 17% more demand than “Stranger Things,” which remains No. 2.

“Daredevil” moved up a notch to No. 3, bumping “Star Trek: Discovery” to No. 5.

New to the chart is Netflix’s “On My Block,” which debuted on March 16. This coming-of-age series, which bowed at No. 9 on the digital originals chart, looks at four streetwise teens whose lifelong friendships are tested as they begin high school in a rough inner-city Los Angeles neighborhood.

Another Netflix original, “Santa Clarita Diet,” entered the top 10 at No. 8 as excitement built over the March 23 launch of its second season.

Amazon’s “Sneaky Pete” fell to No. 10 from No. 5 the prior week.  The series has 17% less demand than “13 Reasons Why,” which moved back up to No. 7 from No. 9 the previous week.

No digital original series was popular enough to make it onto the top 10 overall TV series chart, Parrot Analytics data shows.

With new episodes from the second half of season eight of “The Walking Dead,” the AMC zombie series returned to No. 1 on the overall TV series chart, knocking “Spongebob Squarepants” to No. 2.

“Rick and Morty” shot back up to No. 3 from No. 6 the prior week as word of negotiations for the series’ renewal went viral. The adult animation series saw its demand spike by 20% over the previous week.

Lastly, demand for ABC’s “American Idol” (No. 4, up from No. 5) is slightly higher than NBC’s “The Voice” (No. 6, up from No. 8).

Media Play News has teamed with Parrot Analytics to provide readers with a weekly top 10 of the most popular digital original TV series in the United States. Parrot Analytics uses a proprietary metric called Demand Expressions, which measures global demand for TV content through a wide variety of data sources, including video streaming, social media activity, photo sharing, blogging, commenting on fan and critic rating platforms, and downloading and streaming via peer-to-peer protocols and file sharing sites.

Downsizing

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Paramount;
Sci-Fi Comedy;
Box Office $24.45 million;
$29.99 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray, $34.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for language including sexual references, some graphic nudity and drug use.
Stars Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig, Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau, Udo Kier, Rolf Lassgård, Jason Sudeikis.

Director Alexander Payne’s Downsizing is a premise in search of a story, and the one they ultimately came up with could leave viewers wondering, as the film’s main character does, what the point of it all was.

Downsizing is essentially a two-hour thought experiment about what the world would be like if people could shrink themselves to be five inches tall.

The procedure is discovered by Scandinavian scientists looking to reduce the impacts of overpopulation on the environment — since smaller humans use fewer resources. Years later, the process is touted in America as a way to retire in luxury, since the equivalent needs of smaller people would cost so much less, and people could live in mansions that are essentially just large dollhouses.

Contemplating the transition are Paul and Audrey Safranek (Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig), who find themselves stifled by their modest but stable middle class lifestyle. After learning that as small people they’d be the equivalent of millionaires, they sign up to move to a downsized community. But at the last moment Audrey panics at the prospect of leaving her old life behind (and after seeing what it takes to shrink, I can’t say I blame her). But her decision comes too late for Paul, who gets reduced and finds his new life plan derailed without his wife.

A year later and he’s divorced, forced to scale back even in downsize-land, and again living a mediocre life, until he runs across a refugee from Vietnam (Hong Chau), who begins to open his eyes to a more meaningful world around him.

So, what we end up with is a message that people are still people no matter what size they are.

The film’s presentation of the shrinking process is the kind of plot element that falls apart after thinking about it for any length of time, since there’s no attempt to address things like how a scaled-down body would react to the normal gravity it originally evolved in, or where all a person’s extra mass ends up. The film also doesn’t address which parts of the body know how to shrink aside from the vague description of “cellular reduction” (as if every chemical in the body were a cell), but at least it remembers that things like dental fillings, prosthetic implants and anything artificial would have to be removed first.

Of course, aside from the incentives for shrinking, the film also doesn’t really make it seem pleasant, since it would subject you to new dangers you wouldn’t have thought twice about before, such as insects, birds, cats and dogs. It’s even mentioned that sunlight is more dangerous to small people, and the tiny communities are covered in nets or domes to try to keep these realities at bay.

So, best not to think too hard about it. The main reason for the sci-fi element is to allow for some social commentary (as sci-fi tends to do). Many of the character elements are played for satire, but the film has trouble finding a consistent tone amid all the plot points Payne is trying to explore.

The first third of the film deals with the shrinking process, how it evolved, and how and why people would undergo it. While for most people it’s a choice, there’s also some subversive suggestions that corrupt governments are forcing it upon people, or terrorists are using it to circumvent security plans. The film shows what it would be like for people about to downsize, and questions arise about the political and economic impacts downsizing has on society.

Then we get Paul coming to terms with his decision to get small and adjusting to his life and dealing with the regrets than ensue.

This is all more or less straightforward before the film turns toward an environmental disaster subplot and how small people can survive it if they can’t prevent it.

Unlike Ant-Man, the film isn’t overtly trying to have fun with the idea of shrinking. It takes it seriously, as if it’s just another way of life for the characters. That’s why the film’s structure seems so odd, since it’s devoting so much time to establishing how downsizing came to be and became a relatively common thing before focusing on a story that pushes it all to the background. A lot of scenes are presented as pretty standard character beats, when the camera catches a glimpse of an oversized prop from time to time to remind everyone about the premise (of course, such a mundane approach is likely the point).

All the while the film teases us with suggestions of things we might rather have seen, such as the bodies actually shrinking. Or what happens when a filling isn’t fully removed from a tooth beforehand.

As a result, the film is more interesting for individual scenes that present its concepts, rather than its muddled attempts to unify it as a whole. As with most movies that deal with shrinking tech, the best scenes involve seeing the small people interacting with normal-sized things (even though, many of the everyday items in the small community are just scaled-down versions of things — which only raises more questions).

There are a lot of clever touches in the shifting perspectives (such as a dollar bill used as giant wall art), and the design of the small communities are a treat to behold. People always seem to be fascinated by the idea of seeing the real world reduced into a scale miniature, and the colonies in the film also seem set up as tourist destinations for regular-sized people who just want to gawk at a world in miniature (there’s a reason why Storybookland is such a popular ride at Disneyland).

The Blu-ray offers an hour’s worth of featurettes about the making of the film, many of which expose little details about the set designs and the presentation of the miniature world. There are also a couple of additional featurettes with the iTunes version (available with the UltraViolet code included with the disc).

MGM Studios 2017 Home Entertainment Revenue Plummets — Without James Bond

MGM Studios March 28 reported fiscal 2017 (ended Dec. 31, 2017) home entertainment revenue of $91.9 million, which was down 55% from revenue of $206.5 million during the previous-year period.

MGM attributed the decline to comparisons with the global release of Spectre during the prior-year period, strong digital sales from the latest James Bond installment starring Daniel Craig; Rocky-themed boxing drama Creed, ongoing revenue from other recently released films, and the tail-end of the studio’s worldwide home entertainment promotion (i.e. catalog sales) for the James Bond franchise.

Spectre, which is distributed by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, generated $36.2 million in disc sales, according to The-Numbers.com. Creed — distributed by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment — generated $25.3 million.

Fiscal 2017 also included revenue from recent film releases, primarily worldwide digital revenue for The Magnificent Seven and Ben-Hur, home entertainment revenue for The Belko Experiment, plus ongoing revenue from Spectre, The Hobbit trilogy and additional library content.

Home entertainment revenue from TV content topped $33.8 million, up 1% from $33.6 million in 2016.

Finally, MGM announced that its senior management team would continue to run the company following the March 21 termination of CEO Gary Barber.

GameStop Posts Pre-Announced Q4 Loss

GameStop, the world’s largest video game retailer, March 28 reported a fourth-quarter (ended Feb. 3) net loss of $105.9 million compared to income of $208.7 million during the previous-year period. Revenue topped $3.5 billion from $3 billion last year.

As previously reported, GameStop incurred $406.5 million ($311 million after taxes) in asset impairment charges related to third-party (AT&T) mobile phone sales in its technology brands division.

Regardless, same-store store sales grew 12.2% (14.2% in the U.S. and 8.3% internationally).  New hardware sales increased 44.8%, led by demand for Nintendo Switch, and new software sales increased 12.4% driven by a strong title lineup. Pre-owned (used) game sales declined 2.6%.

Digital sales increased 10.6% to $413 million, while collectibles sales (trend, action figures, posters, trading cards, etc.) increased 22.8% to $260.8 million, driven by continued expansion of licensed merchandise offerings and targeted promotions during the holiday period.

Technology sales decreased 14.2% to $219.7 million, driven primarily by the previously disclosed change in AT&T’s dealer compensation structure. Excluding the impairment charges, operating income decreased 8.5% to $31.1 million from $34 million in the prior-year quarter.

CEO Mike Mauler said that while fiscal 2017 delivered a “solid performance,” GameStop going forward would focus on three key business units: games, collectibles, and technology brands.

“We plan to pause on investing in additional new businesses or acquisitions and focus on the fundamentals of improving the businesses that we already have,” Mauler said. “Focusing on the basics of retail operational excellence across the organization will maximize our free cash flow, improve our performance and, ultimately, deliver returns for our shareholders.”

Mauler was named CEO in February when long-time CEO Paul Raines stepped down for health reasons. Raines died March 5 following reoccurrence of cancer.

 

Parks Research Finds 21% of U.S. Pay-TV Subscribers Get Online Video Service Through Pay-TV Provider

About a fifth (21%) of U.S. pay-TV subscribers say they subscribe to an online video service through their pay-TV provider, up from 10% a year ago, according to new research from Parks Associates.

The research firm attributes this jump to the increasing number of partnerships between pay-TV and OTT providers, with operators such as Comcast adding support for Netflix in their set-top boxes.

Parks Associates will address the changing dynamics of the pay-TV market at a pre-show research workshop, Survivor’s Guide to the New Video World, May 14 in Denver at The Pay TV Show.

The Pay TV Show, hosted by FierceMarkets, will address innovative technologies, strategies, and business models that telecom, tech, and media companies are using to compete in this disrupted marketplace. Sponsored by Espial, Survivor’s Guide to the New Video World highlights the latest consumer research and explores trends defining success in the new landscape for video services.

“The number of ‘Cord Never’ households (which have never had pay-TV service) is increasing slowly, but those who have sampled pay TV are testing new alternatives,” said Brett Sappinton, senior director, Parks Associates, in a statement. “The percentage of those open to cancelling pay TV or minimizing their monthly spend on pay TV is also up. This ongoing shift is affecting all aspects of service design, promotion, packaging, and pricing. As a result, operators are having to reassess their technology and content investments as well as their partnerships and go-to-market strategy.”

Other highlights from Parks Associates’ new consumer study 360 View: Access and Entertainment in U.S. Broadband Households include:

  • Pay-TV subscription rates dropped from 86% in 2015 to 77% in late 2017.
  • 84% of pay-TV subscribers have service from a traditional cable, satellite, or telco provider.
  • Nearly 18% of pay-TV households have a subscription package from an online video service, such as Sling or a traditional provider now offering an online video bundle.

Workshop speakers include:

  • Mark Jensen, executive director, video product management and strategy, ATN International
  • Blake Sabatinelli, CEO, Newsy
  • Brett Sappington, senior director of research, Parks Associates
  • Hunter Sappington, research analyst, Parks Associates
  • Chris Thun, VP of user experience product management, TiVo
  • Clayton Wagar, VP of advanced technologies, Espial
  • Mitch Weinraub, director of product, AirTV

Workshop sessions include:

  • “Video Disrupted: The New Landscape for Video Services”
  • “Video Insight: Operating in the Age of Data Ninjas”
  • “Video Streamed: Lessons from OTT Video”
  • “Video Potential: Habits of Millennials, Cutters, and Nevers”
  • “Video Tomorrow: Innovations Fueling Future Vid

Netflix Names Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice to Board of Directors

Netflix is a global brand seeking insight from a former senior member of the United Nations.

The SVOD pioneer March 28 announced the appointment of Susan E. Rice, a former U.S. National Security Advisor and Ambassador to the United Nations under President Obama, to its board of directors.

Rice is currently a Distinguished Visiting Research Fellow at American University’s School of International Service, Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and Contributing Opinion Writer for The New York Times.

“For decades, Ambassador Rice has tackled difficult, complex global issues with intelligence, integrity and insight and we look forward to benefiting from her experience and wisdom,” Netflix co-founder/CEO Reed Hastings said in a statement.

From 2013-2017, Rice directed the National Security Council staff, chaired the Cabinet-level National Security Principals committee, providing daily national security briefing to Obama, and was responsible for the formulation, coordination and implementation of all aspects of administration’s foreign and national security policy, intelligence and military efforts. From 2009 to 2013, she served as the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations and as a cabinet member.

Previously, Ambassador Rice held positions as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and as a Special Assistant to President Bill Clinton, Senior Director, and Director on the National Security Council staff.  She was a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC from 2002-2008.

Rice began her career as a management consultant with McKinsey and Company in Toronto, Canada. She has served on numerous boards, including the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Bureau of National Affairs, National Democratic Institute, and the US Fund for UNICEF.

Rice received her Master’s degree (M.Phil.) and Ph.D (D.Phil.) in International Relations from New College, Oxford University, England, where she was a Rhodes Scholar, and her BA in History with honors from Stanford University in 1986.  In 2017, French President Francois Hollande presented Ambassador Rice with the Award of Commander, the Legion of Honor of France, for her contributions to Franco-American relations.

Pro Sports Using OTT Video to Target Younger Viewers

Formula 1 auto racing is a global brand generating more than $3 billion in revenue. It attracts an audience of 500 million people – largely older than Madison Avenue’s coveted 18-34-year-old demo. In the U.S., the rival to IndyCar remains a niche TV sport.

A survey by Ampere Analysis found just 6% of U.S. sports fans identify F1 as a sport they would watch on TV. Indeed, domestic viewers will rely on a repurposed feed from U.K. satellite TV operator Sky to watch any coverage of the 2018 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season.

F1 TV, the sport’s newly-launched over-the-top video service, is seeking to buck its older demo fan base by targeting younger viewers (under the age of 40) usually associated with streaming video.

London-based Ampere contends the $8-$12 monthly service – available in four languages (English, French, German and Spanish) and in nearly two dozen markets, including the U.S., will appeal to younger viewers because of the OTT element.

“As more sports become available OTT, it gives less popular leagues an opportunity to monetize markets where they are not mainstream enough to be attractive to a major broadcaster,” analyst Alexios Dimitropoulos wrote in a blog.

Even mainstream sports are taking the hint.

In the U.S., Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, Major League Soccer and World Wrestling Entertainment have launched OTT platforms — MLB with spectacular results.

The national pastime spearheaded the OTT movement among U.S. professional sports through its MLB Advanced Media division. The unit – which is co-owned by all 30 MLB franchises – recently sold backend digital tech subsidiary, BAMTech, to Disney in a deal worth more than $3.5 billion.

“Sports fans face a myriad of distractions and while commercial opportunities are still developing, it’s critical for rights owners to build their presence on social platforms to help maintain loyal audiences, support tune-in and provide a content experience which meets the needs of viewers who watch much less linear TV,” Gareth Capon, CEO at digital media aggregator Grabyo, told consulting firm KNect365.com.

Indeed, WWE, which makes millions marketing pay-per-view wrestling entertainment, generates significant ancillary revenue from WWE.tv, an OTT platform with almost 1.5 million subscribers.

“We expect more leagues and events to follow the same route … over the next few years,” said Dimitropoulos.

Dish Activates Netflix on Hopper Duo Set-Top

As expected, Dish Network has activated the Netflix app in its Hopper Duo set-top box enabling subscribers direct access to the subscription streaming video behemoth.

Similar to other third-party installs, direct access to the streaming video pioneer requires a separate subscription.

In January, Dish rolled out the Hopper Duo, a dual-tuner HD set-top for one- and two-TV households. Hopper Duo packages the most essential features of Dish’s Hopper 3 for consumers with smaller-scale entertainment setups.

Features include a 500 GB hard drive for up to 125 hours of HD DVR recording; compatibility with Amazon Alexa voice control; universal search; Bluetooth audio support via adapter; picture-in-picture viewing; remote finder; and apps like game finder, Pandora, Dish on-demand – and now Netflix.

The average number of pay-TV set-top devices per household in the United States is 1.7, according to the Leichtman Research Group.

Leichtman found that 69% of domestic TV households have at least one TV connected to the Internet via a smart TV set, a stand-alone device (like Roku, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV stick, set-top box, or Apple TV), a video game system, and/or a Blu-ray Disc player – up from 50% in 2014, and 24% in 2010.

Inman Named Chief Marketing Officer at Mediamorph

Mediamorph, a cloud-based enterprise content management company for media and entertainment clients, has appointed Jerry Inman chief marketing officer.

As a member of the executive leadership team, Inman is responsible for evolving and executing an integrated global marketing strategy, brand storytelling, driving increased awareness and digital initiatives, and building progressive programs to deepen customer relationships.

Prior to joining Mediamorph, Inman was the CMO of Demand Worldwide, where he was responsible for strategy and execution of all marketing efforts working with leading retail technology organizations, as well as major retailers and brands. He also previously served in marketing leadership roles at Information Builders, Lectra, Stylesight, 7thonline and iMany.

“Jerry brings a deep retail focus and strong track record of driving significant growth for software companies,” said Rob Gardos, CEO of Mediamorph, in a statement. “The digital supply chain is driving a rapidly evolving retail experience that is essential to the entertainment industry as the connected consumer gains control and has more choices, demands and expectations. Jerry has the marketing and technology experience we need to take Mediamorph to the next level.”

“I am really excited to join Mediamorph at such a pivotal time in the company’s history,” Inman said in a statement. “Mediamorph pioneered tracking performance and orchestrating the digital supply chain for the media and entertainment industry. As the business continues to evolve, strategic storytelling and driving maximum value from content across Unified Commerce is more important than ever.”