Season 6 Launch Sends ‘Orange Is the New Black’ To No. 1 on Digital Originals Chart

With the launch of Season 6, Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black” shot to the No. 1 spot on the digital originals chart for the week ended July 28, with a 46% spike in demand from the prior week, according to Parrot Analytics data.

The surge in Demand Expressions for the women-in-prison drama sent the previous week’s top digital original, Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” to the No. 2 spot on the chart, with a 16% drop in demand the week after the season finale became available for viewing.

“Orange is the New Black,” created by Jenji Kohan, is also the eighth most popular show on Parrot Analytics’ overall TV shows chart.

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.

Diane Guerrero, who plays Maritza Ramos on “Orange is the New Black,” has just been tapped to join the live-action cast of “Doom Patrol” on DC’s upcoming subscription streaming service, playing the notoriously unstable “Crazy Jane.”

Elsewhere on the digital originals chart for the week ended July 28, “Queer Eye” slipped to No. 3 from No. 2 the prior week with a modest 8.3% drop in demand.

“Stranger Things” also slipped a notch, to No. 4, with demand down 10.7%. Netflix programming executive Cindy Holland on July 29 said on the Television Critics Association’s press tour in Beverly Hills that Season 3 of the sci-fi series has been delayed until the summer of 2019.

“13 Reasons Why” remains at No. 5, with demand relatively flat. Netflix recently announced that the controveral teen-suicide drama has been renewed for a third season, expected to launch in May 2019.

“Castle Rock,” the highly anticipated horror series from Hulu that made a big splash at Comic-Con, debuted at No. 6 on the digital originals chart. The show is based on the stories of Stephen King. “Castle Rock” debuted last week and saw Demand Expressions soar more than 140%.

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, based on the firm’s  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.

 

DEG to Honor VR Innovator, Carnegie Mellon Student With Hedy Lamarr Awards

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group will present its second annual Hedy Lamarr Award for Innovation in Entertainment Technology to Emblematic Group CEO Nonny de la Peña.

De la Peña is often recognized as the “Godmother of VR” for her pioneering work in immersive film, according to the DEG.

The DEG created the Innovation Award to recognize female executives in the fields of entertainment and technology who have made a significant contribution to the industry.

The DEG will also present the Hedy Lamarr Achievement Award for Emerging Leaders in Entertainment Technology to Cassidy Pearsall of Carnegie Mellon University. This award recognizes female college students in their junior year whose studies in the fields of entertainment and technology have shown exceptional promise. Pearsall will receive a financial award to continue her education. The DEG will also recognize Finalist with Distinction Lucy Scherrer, also of Carnegie Mellon University, as well as Finalists Katharine Derringer of the University of Michigan and Marissa Dianas of Boston University.

“We are proud to present DEG’s 2018 Hedy Lamarr Awards to Nonny de la Peña, for her profound commitment to immersive storytelling through virtual reality, and Cassidy Pearsall, a student with extraordinary potential,” said Amy Jo Smith, president and CEO, DEG, in a statement. “Each woman reflects the spirit of Hedy Lamarr and honors her legacy of innovation in entertainment and technology.”

The awards will be presented at a reception in Santa Monica, Calif., Nov. 1 to coincide with the 104th anniversary of Lamarr’s birth (Nov. 9, 1914). Deluxe Entertainment Services Group will host the reception. Sony, including Sony Electronics, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Sony Corp. of America, are presenting sponsors.

“I’m honored to accept this award inspired by the creativity and ingenuity of Hedy Lamarr,” said de la Peña in a statement. “As a Hollywood actress, she was defined primarily by her appearance, but it was what was beneath the surface — her accomplishment as a scientist and inventor that most dramatically impacted the world. At Emblematic Group we too are always trying to get beneath the surface by using immersive journalism to put spectators into environments they never would have been able to experience otherwise, allowing people to empathize and understand others through the lens of VR and AR.”

Lamarr was a Hollywood legend who is best known for her roles in a number of film classics, including Samson and DelilahThe Strange Woman, and Tortilla Flat. She was also a lifelong inventor whose innovative work included pioneering “frequency hopping,” which became the foundation for spread spectrum technology. Conceived by Lamarr and composer George Antheil for radio guidance systems and patented in 1942, this technology resists interference and dropout, and is utilized today for a variety of cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth applications.

To determine the award winners, the DEG enlisted a judging panel comprised of a cross-section of leaders representing the entertainment, technology, academic, IT and consumer electronics industries. Among other factors, the judging panel based its decisions on the candidates’ embodiment of the principles of innovation, engagement and excellence.

De la Peña was named “The Godmother of Virtual Reality” by The Guardian and Engadget, while Fast Company recognized her as one of the people who made the world more creative for her groundbreaking work in immersive journalism. A former correspondent for Newsweek magazine, de la Peña founded Emblematic Group in 2007. The company became an innovator in walk around virtual reality with the first-ever VR documentary, Hunger in Los Angeles, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012. Emblematic has also produced Project Syria, which was commissioned by the World Economic Forum, Use of ForceOne Dark NightOut of ExileAfter Solitary and Greenland Melting. Emblematic is currently launching the REACH web platform, which allows anyone to tell their story in room-scale VR.

Pearsall is a student in Carnegie Mellon University’s Theatrical Video and Media Design program, and a recipient of the university’s prestigious Presidential Scholarship. She is training as a theatrical designer and technician in scenic design and construction and lighting design and programming. She is currently developing a video design, including animation integrated with documentary style interviews and live filming, for a new play, I’m Sure I’ll Figure it Out.

For information, visit DEGonline.org.

AMC Theatres Subscription Ticket Service Reaches 175,000 Members

AMC Theatres July 31 announced that its revamped AMC Stubs A-List subscription ticket service has generated 175,000 subscribers since launching a month ago.

The service enables subscribers to see three releases weekly in any format, including Imax, Dolby Cinema and Real 3D.

Aimed at competing against MoviePass and other subscription programs, AMC expects the $19.95 Stubs A-List to reach 500,000 subs by next June and 1 million two years after launch. The pre-existing AMC Stubs loyalty program, which affords members discounts on concessions, has nearly 16 million members.

By comparison, MoviePass, which just announced it is increasing its subscription price 50% to $14.95, has more than 3 million subs, with 5 million projected by the end of the year.

“We’re nothing less than ecstatic about the early consumer response,” Adam Aron, CEO of AMC Theatres, said in a statement.

Aron said that unlike MoviePass, Stubs A-List is designed to be profitable at the current price point.

“Because it benefits our [customers], industry, studio partners and shareholders, we expect A-List will endure over the long haul,” he said.

 

MoviePass Upping Subscription Cost 50%, Restricting New-Release Access

Fiscally-challenged MoviePass July 31 announced it is increasing the monthly cost of its theatrical ticket subscription service 50% to $14.95 within the next 30 days.

Corporate parent Helios and Matheson Analytics said the service would also restrict subscriber access to new movies opening on more than 1,000 screens during the first two weeks of release.

“These changes are meant to protect the longevity of our company and prevent abuse of the service,” CEO Mitch Lowe said in a statement. “While no one likes change, these are essential steps to continue providing the most attractive subscription service in the industry.”

MoviePass said the move would cut monthly churn by 60% and prevent abuse of the service. It claims to be generating $4 to $6 per subscriber in non-subscription (concessions) revenue in the current third quarter.

“Over the past year, we challenged an entrenched industry while maintaining the financially transparent records of a publicly traded company,” Ted Farnsworth, CEO of Helios, said in a statement. “We believe that the measures we began rolling out last week will immediately reduce cash burn by 60% and will continue to generate lower funding needs in the future.”

Approaching the one-year anniversary of its standard $9.95 price point, MoviePass has grown to more than 3 million members, and claims to be contributing to “record” box office growth, responsible for about 6% of the nation’s total box office sales in the first half of 2018.

Much of that sub growth has been fueled by a business model that enables users to watch movies for free 30 days out of 31-day month. The more subscribers frequent theaters, the more MoviePass has to pay exhibitors full face-value for each ticket consumed.

The service said it would continue with surge pricing for more popular movies, partnerships with 3rd party media inventory to increase scale and reach of marketing efforts driven by data; creating strategic marketing partnerships and promotions with studios, content owners, and brands, and integration of Moviefone.com to support the media buys of brands and studios

The service also operates MoviePass Ventures and MoviePass Films, which acquire, fund and distribute indie movies.

Regardless, news of the changes didn’t stop HMNY shares from falling – down more than 5% at 75 cents per share in midmorning trading.

On Yahoo Finance, hosts discussed their dissatisfaction with MoviePass.

 

Sony Pictures Ups Q1 Home Entertainment Revenue 17%

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment July 31 reported first-quarter (ended June 30) revenue of $234 million, up 17.5% from revenue of $199 million during the previous-year period.

The studio attributed the increase to sales of new releases and catalog titles, including Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Spider-Man: Homecoming.

The two titles have generated nearly $60 million in combined DVD/Blu-ray Disc revenue this year, with Jumanji the fourth best-selling release of the year thus far, according to The-Numbers.com.

SPHE’s top-selling new releases in the quarter based on DVD, Blu-ray Disc and digital revenue (electronic sellthrough and VOD distributed on cable, broadcast, satellite and digital platforms, as well as hotel pay-per-view), included: Insidious: The Last Key, Golden Exits, All the Money in the World, Proud Mary, Outlander: Season 3, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, Peter Rabbit, A Fantastic Woman, Loveless and Paul, Apostle of Christ.

Indeed, Peter Rabbit has generated revenue $11.1 million on sales of 607,000 combined DVD/Blu-ray discs. Outlander: Season 3 has generated revenue of $6.1 million on sales of 189,000 discs, while Insidious: The Last Key has generated $3.3 million on 174,000 discs.

Home entertainment releases in the current quarter (ending Sept. 30) include Finding Your Feet, The Leisure Seeker, Final Portrait, The Good Doctor: Season 1, The Blacklist: Season 5 and Superfly.

Television production revenue increased slightly to $267 million from $265 million last year. Theatrical revenue dropped nearly 27% to $95 million from $129 million last year.

Overall, Sony Pictures Entertainment narrowed its operating loss to $69.6 million on revenue of $1.6 billion. That compared to an operating loss of $85.4 million on revenue of $1.85 billion last year.

 

Mission Impossible: Saving MoviePass

Helios and Matheson Analytics, parent of fiscally-challenged theatrical subscription ticket service MoviePass, saw its stock close July 30 at 80 cents per share – less than a week after issuing a reverse-stock split aimed at buttressing the stock above the Nasdaq $1 minimum.

The stock finished down 60% from its opening of $2 per share after a weekend that saw additional service outages affect subscribers attempting to see Paramount Pictures’ summer blockbuster, Mission: Impossible – Fallout.

Therein lies the problem with the MoviePass business model: enabling subscribers daily access to a theatrical screening for a monthly $9.95 fee.

MoviePass pays exhibitors face value for each ticket used by subs. Chains such as AMC Theatres and Regal Cinemas have seen notable increases in moviegoers taking advantage of “free” access. It’s a win-win for everyone – except MoviePass, which is hemorrhaging money footing the bill.

The service last week had to take out an emergency $6 million loan to keep its merchant vendor facilitator operating (i.e. paying theaters).

With Mission: Impossible –Fallout winning the three-day box office (through July 29), MoviePass was left with the money-losing option of paying for myriad tickets or restricting subscribers access in some markets.

The service employs “surge pricing” in an attempt to offset subscriber demand for select titles – an option MoviePass realized wouldn’t generate the revenue required to pay for Fallout.

“We are sorry to users having issues checking-in this evening,” the service Tweeted on July 28. “Some users have reported issues with card-based check-ins and we are working towards a fix on this technical issue. In the meantime, all e-ticketing remains fully functional.”

According to Business Insider, Mitch Lowe, president of MoviePass, held an “all hands on deck” meeting July 30 telling staffers the service’s app would not be accommodating major theatrical releases in the near future due to funding issues.

‘The Romanoffs’ to Debut Oct. 12 on Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime Video announced the Oct. 12 premiere of “The Romanoffs” at the Television Critics Association Summer 2018 Press Tour over the weekend.

The SVOD service also released a new teaser revealing the line-up of guest stars featured in the series created, written, directed and executive produced by nine-time Emmy award winner Matthew Weiner (“Mad Men”).

“The Romanoffs” is a contemporary anthology series, set around the globe, featuring eight separate stories about people who believe themselves to be descendants of the Russian royal family. The series was shot on location on three continents and in seven countries collaborating with local productions and talent across Europe, the Americas, and the Far East, according to an Amazon release. Each story takes place in a new location with a new cast.

In addition to the previously announced cast, including Isabelle Huppert, Diane Lane, Christina Hendricks, Paul Reiser, Amanda Peet and John Slattery, Amazon announced guest stars, including Noah Wyle (“Falling Skies”), Kathryn Hahn (“Transparent”), Kerry Bishe (“Halt and Catch Fire”), Jay R. Ferguson (“Mad Men”), Ben Miles (“Collateral”), Mary Kay Place (“Big Love”), Griffin Dunne (“Imposters”), Cara Buono (“Mad Men”), Ron Livingston (The Conjuring), Clea DuVall (“Veep”), Radha Mitchell, (Silent Hill) and Hugh Skinner (Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again).

Lionsgate’s ‘The Row’ Due on Disc and Digital Sept. 25

Lionsgate will release the thriller The Row on Blu-ray Disc, DVD, and digital on Sept. 25. The film is currently available On Demand.

The Row is a slasher film about a college freshman (Lala Kent, One ShotDudes & Dragons, TV’s “Vanderpump Rules”) trying to get into a sorority who discovers a dark secret about the house she’s pledging for after the mutilated body of a student is found. Riley’s father Cole (Randy Couture, Expendables, Redbelt), a detective, investigates the murder in an effort to protect his daughter before it’s too late. But, of course, it is too late.

The Row will be available on Blu-ray and DVD for the suggested retail price of $21.99 and $19.98, respectively.

The cast also includes Shea Buckner (Escape Plan 2: HadesGotti), Dylan Sprayberry (TV’s “Teen Wolf,” Man of Steel), Natali Yura (ReprisalDead Trigger), Mia Frampton  (Bridesmaids, TammyG.B.F.), Jennifer Titus (No Need to Take Me HomeReprisal), and Colin Egglesfield (Bad MomsSomething Borrowed, TV’s “Rizzoli & Isles”).

MoviePass Parent Now in Litigious Crosshairs

Misery loves company.

Helios and Matheson Analytics, the fiscally-challenged owner of theatrical ticket subscription service MoviePass, appears helpless watching its stock plummet following a 1-for-250 shares reverse-stock split engineered less than a week ago in hopes of resuscitating moribund shares.

With the stock freefalling another 45% July 30 in early trading, a New York-based law firm issued a press release soliciting investor input regarding potential litigation as to whether HMNY and certain of its officers and/or directors may have violated federal securities laws.

Specifically, Bronstein, Gewirtz & Grossman, LLC says it is investigating circumstances related to MoviePass’ July 26 service outage that necessitated an emergency $6 million loan to resume operations.

The move sent HMNY’s post-split shares into a tailspin – further angering beleaguered shareholders.

“Our primary expertise is the aggressive pursuit of litigation claims on behalf of our clients,” the law firm said in a statement.

HMNY shares, which briefly “peaked” at $21 on the morning of July 25, are currently trading at $1.18 per share

 

 

NBC Sports Partners with Snapchat for Britain’s Premier League Soccer

Following Britain’s late run in soccer’s world cup, interest in the Premier League has mushroomed in the digital ecosystem.

NBC Sports Group July 30 announced a partnership with Snapchat for “Premier League: Extra Time, a new weekly original show, which will debut exclusively on Snapchat’s Discover page for the Aug. 10 start of the 2018-19 Premier League season.

Each Monday throughout the season, the show will bring a recap of the weekend’s top action and standout storylines, while also spotlighting the super fans that make the league one of the most popular in the world.

A preview of the show will air on Snapchat Aug. 9, with the first episode airing on Aug. 13.

Hosted by Francis Maxwell, the series promises to make soccer fans feel like they’re watching from a true British pub. Maxwell will guide Snapchatters through a celebration of all things Premier League each week – from epic highlights to wild fans and everything in between.

“Premier League fans are among the most passionate and digitally sophisticated out there, and we strive to bring the best content on every platform,” Troy Ewanchyna, VP, digital and NBCSports.com, said in a statement.

“We know that Snapchatters love soccer – over 80 million unique viewers watched World Cup content on Snapchat,” added Sean Mills,head of original content at Snap.

Produced by NBC Universal’s digital lab, “Premier League: Extra Time” builds on two original shows Snapchat and NBC Sports Group partnered on during the XXIII Olympic Winter Games from PyeongChang, South Korea – “Pipe Dreams,” a four-part series profiling three Olympic snowboarding hopefuls, and “Chasing Gold,” a 17-episode series on the journeys of Team USA athletes as they competed for gold.

Amazon Prime Video last month announced it would live-stream 20 Premier League matches starting in 2019.