‘Schindler’s List’ Coming in 4K to Theaters, Home Market From Universal

To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the release of director Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List, Universal Pictures will re-release the film with picture and sound digitally remastered —including in 4K, Dolby Cinema and Dolby Atmos — for a limited theatrical engagement on Dec. 7 across the United States and Canada.

The remastered film will also be available in 4K Ultra HD with Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos sound on home entertainment platforms subsequent to the theatrical release.

Schindler’s List, starring Liam Neeson as a German businessman who saves more than 1,000 Jews during the holocaust, won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.

“It is difficult to believe that it’s been 25 years since Schindler’s List first arrived in theaters,” said Spielberg in a statement. “The true stories of the magnitude and tragedy of the Holocaust are ones that must never be forgotten, and the film’s lessons about the critical importance of countering hatred continue to reverberate today. I am honored that audiences will be able to experience the journey once again on the big screen.”

“We are proud to bring the remastered Schindler’s List, one of the most important movies of the 20th century, to a new generation of filmgoers,” said Ron Meyer, vice chairman of NBCUniversal, in a statement. “The lesson that one person — during one of the darkest chapters in humankind’s history — can make a difference is as relevant now as ever before.”

In advance of the re-release, free educational screenings of the film — coordinated by USC Shoah Foundation — will be available for high-school educators and their students in selected AMC, Regal, Cinemark, Marcus Theatres, Cineplex, Harkins and National Amusements locations in major markets in North America Dec. 4 and Dec. 5.

“As curators of the world’s largest collection of firsthand accounts about the consequences of hatred, USC Shoah Foundation is uniquely positioned to educate and inspire humanity to counter hate through empathy and action,” said Spielberg, who established the Shoah Foundation after his experiences filming Schindler’s List, in a statement. “Those who engage with this eyewitness testimony make deeply meaningful connections, develop critical thinking and empathy, and learn to reflect on the choices they can make to counter hatred.”

The film score by John Williams also will be released by La-La Land Records with never-before-heard material, and the remastered version of Schindler’s List will be re-released in theatres internationally across select territories in early 2019.

USC Shoah Foundation — under its Stronger Than Hate initiative — will work with partner organizations to provide classroom-ready resources through its educational website IWitness to accompany the theatrical and home entertainment releases of the film.

Didja Live Broadcast App Expands to Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire TV

Tech company Didja announced the expansion of its live broadcast TV streaming app, LocalBTV, to streaming devices Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire TV.

The Apple TV and Fire TV versions are available now in the app stores, with Roku to follow soon after, according to the company.

LocalBTV is available as a pilot service in the Los Angeles and Orange County area (SoCalBTV), the San Francisco area (BayAreaBTV) and the Phoenix area (PhoenixBTV), providing a pilot channel list of 30-40 channels of local broadcast TV to viewers on smartphones, PCs and connected TVs at no cost to consumers or to broadcasters, according to a Didja press release.

“With TV stations’ broadcast streams available on mobile devices and connected TVs via LocalBTV, even non-antenna households can easily enjoy local broadcast news and entertainment programming anywhere in the television market,” according to the Didja release. “In addition, local stations and independent channels not available through cable providers or streaming services can now be seen by wider audiences.”

“Didja allows us to stream to devices in an app that contains other local channels. This makes LocalBTV more valuable to the viewer than a single-source app,” said Lynn Londen, owner of Phoenix independent station KAZT, in a statement. “I love seeing people’s enthusiasm when I show them our channels on my phone, and we are looking forward to reaching even more viewers via streaming TV apps.”

According to Didja, more than 20 million U.S. homes watch TV via an antenna and approximately another 10 million homes have no convenient way to watch local broadcast TV, meaning they have neither a traditional cable bundle nor an antenna.

“This expansion to Apple TV, Roku and Fire TV will allow viewers to watch our broadcast partners’ local channels on connected TVs, which is where more and more TV viewing is taking place,” said Jim Long, CEO of Didja, in a statement. “It’s the next logical step as we pursue our mission to help local broadcasters serve their communities, even while TV viewing moves to screens of all sizes.”

The LocalBTV app is available from iTunes, Google Play and on Apple TV and Fire TV.

Amazon Prime Video Double-Faulting at U.S. Open Tennis Tournament?

Amazon Prime Video, unlike Netflix, isn’t adverse to streaming live sports. It is spending a reported $50 million annually for “NFL Thursday Night Football” through 2019.

The e-commerce behemoth also inked a five-year, $40 million deal to exclusively stream in the United Kingdom the U.S. Open Tennis Championships, currently taking place in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., through Sept. 9.

Amazon spared no expense for the tournament, building a TV stage and hiring veteran commentators, including former men’s champion Jim Courier, to cover the event.

But controversy quickly befell the live streams, with Prime Video subscribers turning to social media to vent their frustration about the poor picture/sound quality and lack of recording option, among other issues.

“This is just terrible. Tennis fans in the U.K. are in shock about this service,” wrote one viewer.

“This doesn’t feel like the future of live TV, blocky and jumpy and unwatchable on the Samsung Smart TV app,” wrote another.

In fact, Amazon was so inundated with complaints — about 90% of comments rated the live streams 1 or 2 stars — it suspended the comments section on Aug. 29.

“This product currently has limitations on submitting reviews. There can be a number of reasons for this, including unusual reviewing activity,” wrote Amazon.

A rep for Amazon U.K. attributed the issues to an IT problem, which the rep said was fixed by Aug.30. Amazon also reinstated the comments section.

“We are working with customers to address specific issues – we listen to all customer feedback and are always working to improve all aspects of our service,” said the rep, as reported by The Guardian.

Amazon isn’t alone among online platforms struggling to replicate linear TV sports broadcasts.

YouTube TV experienced technical issues streaming select soccer matches during the recent World Cup in Russia. Formula One was forced to issue refunds to subscribers of its nascent OTT video service following technical issues during the Spanish Grand Prix.

And DAZN, an over-the-top subscription video streaming service based in London, was forced to apologize to viewers following technical issues streaming Serie A Italian pro soccer.

 

 

Roku Inks JVC to Smart TV Program

Roku announced an agreement with China’s Shenzhen MTC Co. to build smart TVs under the JVC brand featuring the Roku operating system. The JVC smart TVs are expected to ship in the U.S. later this year.

“[The] Roku streaming platform … is incredibly easy to use and offers access to countless movies and TV episodes all from the home screen,” John Araki, chief technology officer of JVC, said in a statement. “We are looking forward to marrying our longstanding history of innovation with Roku’s popular smart TV platform as we aim to improve our customers’ everyday life with smartly designed products making life a little more fun.”

The Roku TV licensing program offers TV OEM partners a cost-effective way to build smart TVs connected to the Internet. Roku provides hardware reference designs, so TV brands can offer smart TV options at competitive price points.

The Roku operating system provides consumers with access to an ever-growing library of content as well as regular, automatic software updates.

“We look forward to working with MTC to grow the JVC smart TV presence in the U.S.,” said Chas Smith, GM of Roku TV & Players. “We know most TV manufacturers will license a TV OS and are proud of our low-cost purpose-built solution and the level of collaboration and support that we offer our partners while delivering a superior experience to consumers.”

 

 

Maximum Effort Brings ‘Deadpool 2’ to No. 1 on Disc Sales Charts

The action comedy Deadpool 2, from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, easily debuted at No. 1 on the NPD VideoScan First Alert sales chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales, and the dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart the week ended Aug. 25.

The follow-up to the 2016 hit “X-Men” spinoff Deadpool, which stars Ryan Reynolds as the mercenary superhero, earned $318 million at the domestic box office and the home video release includes an extended cut that runs 15 minutes longer than the theatrical version.

In addition, a Blu-ray two-pack of both “Deadpool” films debuted at No. 5 on the overall sales chart and No. 3 on the Blu-ray chart.

The arrival of the irreverent sequel pushed another superhero blockbuster, Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War, from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, to No. 2 on both charts.

No. 3 on the overall sales chart was God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness, distributed by Universal Pictures. The third film in the faith-based “God’s Not Dead” franchise earned $5.7 million at the domestic box office and was No. 7 on the Blu-ray chart.

Landing at No. 4 overall and No. 6 on the Blu-ray chart was The Walking Dead: The Complete Eighth Season, distributed by Lionsgate.

Rounding out the top five Blu-rays were Warner’s Ready Player One at No. 4 (No. 6 overall) and Lionsgate’s Ash vs. Evil Dead: The Complete Third Season at No. 5 (No. 10 overall).

Blu-ray Disc accounted for 76% of first-week unit sales of Deadpool 2, with 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray contributing 17% to the total sales tally. The “Deadpool” two-pack, which was released only in Blu-ray formats, had 29% of its sales come from 4K UHD Blu-ray.

On the Media Play News rental chart for the week ended Aug. 26, Avengers: Infinity War rose to the top spot after debuting at No. 2 a week earlier.

The previous week’s top rental, Warner’s Life of the Party, slipped to No. 2.

Rounding out the top five rentals were Universal’s Breaking In at No. 3, Lionsgate’s Overboard remake at No. 4, and Warner’s Rampage at No. 5.

Deadpool 2 wasn’t available at top rental outlet Redbox as Fox delays availability of its titles at the kiosk vendor for a week.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 08-25-18
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 08-26-18
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 08-25-18
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 08-25-18
Sales Report for Week Ended 08-25-18
Digital Sales Snapshot for Week Ended 08-27-18

Redbox Says It Will Still Sell Codes to Disney Movies — Just Not the New Ones

A federal judge on Aug. 30 granted the Walt Disney Co.’s request for a preliminary injunction against Redbox selling digital codes to Disney movies.

However, the ban only applies to newer “combo pack” releases with a revised disclaimer on the package. Redbox says this means it may continue selling digital codes to earlier Disney releases such as Frozen and “Star Wars” movies.

Judge Dean Pregerson ruled that Disney’s amended language accompanying packaged media combo retail releases (which include digital codes) sufficiently prohibits private parties from selling copyrighted content without permission.

“Because Redbox did not obtain an ownership right to any digital content when it purchased combo Packs, Disney has adequately shown that it is likely to succeed on its claim that Redbox encouraged Redbox customers to infringe Disney’s copyrights by redeeming codes in violation of the license terms set forth on the redemption sites,” Pregerson wrote.

In February, a federal court denied Disney a preliminary injunction against Redbox after the studio alleged the kiosk vendor committed copyright misuse on 19 of its most recent movies. Disney and subsidiaries Lucasfilm and Marvel Studios in April filed an amended complaint against Redbox, including changing user-guidelines on its packaged-media releases, beginning with Black Panther.

In a statement to Media Play News, Redbox said, “In a second attempt to obtain a broad injunction against Redbox regarding the sale of digital codes, Disney asked the court to retreat from its prior ruling that Disney abused its copyright on some 19 Disney, Pixar, Lucasfilm and Marvel titles. The court previously found that Disney’s copyrights for these titles were unenforceable against Redbox.

“Nothing disturbs that prior ruling in favor of Redbox. Redbox remains free to sell codes for those prior titles. This morning’s ruling is limited to digital codes for certain titles, like Black Panther, that contain new disclosures, but were distributed after the 19 titles listed in Disney’s complaint. Redbox has never attempted to sell, and had no plans to sell, digital codes for Black Panther. Disney, therefore, has not been damaged by Redbox’s business practices, and the ruling compels no change in Redbox’s business practices.

“The same isn’t true for Disney. In addition to having been forced to change misleading language on its packaging and its websites, Disney now must offer consumers the ability to return digital codes or combo packs for a refund if they disagree with digital license terms. In fact, the court’s order expires in 90 days unless Disney ‘clearly and prominently indicates’ that consumers can obtain a refund if they do not agree with Disney’s restrictions.

“The court’s decision once again maintains Redbox’s stance as an advocate for the consumer. We look forward to finalizing our victories in court.”

Disney is the only studio that won’t sell discs directly to Redbox, forcing the company to buy them at retail. Last year, Redbox also began offering for sale the digital codes that come with its purchased Disney discs, citing the First Sale Doctrine to federal copyright law, which provides that someone who lawfully acquires a copyrighted work is allowed to sell or dispose of it however they want. Video retailers in the early 1980s successfully argued that First Sale gave them the right to rent videocassettes they had legally purchased and pocket the rental fees.

MoviePass Parent Board Member Quits, Citing Lack of Financial Disclosures

Helios and Matheson Analytics, parent of ticket subscription service MoviePass, Aug. 30 disclosed that a member of its board of directors has resigned under protest.

Carl Schramm, in an Aug. 25 letter to Ted Farnsworth, CEO of HMNY, said he was resigning as a director, including positions on the audit committee, compensation committee, nominating and corporate governance committee and the pricing committee, citing a failure to receive necessary financial information on the company and subsidiary MoviePass.

Schramm served on the board since Nov. 9, 2016.

“I have sought, often unsuccessfully, information about the company’s financial status and operations, and explanations of company strategy,” Schramm wrote. “I have objected to the manner in which a number of business decisions have been presented to the board by management, without sufficient time for the board to examine complex documents, to review significant transactions, or to discuss how the proposed actions fit into the company’s strategic plan.”

Indeed, HMNY and MoviePass have engaged in numerous strategic moves aimed at buttressing the latter’s business model enabling subscribers daily access to a theatrical screening for $9.95 monthly fee.

With the service losing millions of dollars more per month than it generates, HMNY’s stock valuation has plummeted to 2 cents per share – after a 1-for-250 shares reverse stock split. A subsequent price hike was scuttled, with subscriber restrictions put in place instead.

In response, HMNY said it was unaware of any unanswered requests for information by Schramm. It said the board and committees of which Schramm was a member have met at least 25 times thus far in 2018.

HMNY contends it has kept the board “fully informed” and has provided all information needed for members to exercise their responsibilities.

HMNY said that since acquiring 92% stake in MoviePass, it has experienced unprecedented and unanticipated growth – including issues that have placed significant demands on management and the board, as evidenced by the number of board and committee meetings.

“But the company firmly believes all board and committee meetings have been duly noticed and held, and no material information has been withheld from any board member,” Farnsworth wrote in a filing.

Netflix Hires Verna Myers as Inclusion VP

Netflix has hired Verna Myers as VP, Inclusion Strategy.

In this newly created role, Myers will help devise and implement strategies that integrate cultural diversity, inclusion and equity into all aspects of Netflix’s operations worldwide, according to the company.

For the past two decades, through The Verna Myers Company, she has consulted with a wide range of major corporations and organizations on how to help eradicate barriers based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and other differences and to make more just, compassionate, and productive work environments, Netflix announced.

“Having worked closely with Verna as a consultant on a range of organizational issues, we are thrilled that she has agreed to bring her talents to this new and important role,” said Jessica Neal, Netflix chief talent officer, in a statement. “As a global company dedicated to attracting the best people and representing a broad range of perspectives, Verna will be an invaluable champion of our efforts to build a culture where all employees thrive.”

“I have been a longtime fan of the inclusive and diverse programming and talent at Netflix, and then I got a chance to meet the people behind the screen. I was so impressed by their mission, their excellence, and decision to take their inclusion and diversity efforts to a higher level,” Myers said in a statement. “I am so excited and look forward to collaborating all across Netflix to establish bold innovative frameworks and practices that will attract, fully develop, and sustain high performing diverse teams.”

A graduate of Harvard Law School, Myers is also the author of Moving Diversity Forward: How to Go From Well-Meaning to Well-Doing and What If I Say the Wrong Thing? 25 Habits for Culturally Effective People. She has been an active speaker at TED and has also contributed to numerous publications including Refinery29The AtlanticForbes and the Harvard Business Review.

MoviePass Inks Promo Deal with Postmates Courier Service

Looking to retain subscribers and diversify revenue streams, fiscally-challenged ticket subscription service MoviePass Aug. 30 announced a promotional deal with Postmates, the San Francisco-based online courier service.

Postmates gives consumers access — via courier delivery — to more than 250,000 local merchants that were previously inaccessible online in more than 385 cities. Postmates has helped create an alternative infrastructure for local businesses to better compete against retail goliaths such as Walmart, Amazon and Target.

The agreement affords MoviePass subs special discounts and credit toward both services through promotions within the MoviePass app.

MoviePass will promote Postmates within its app and on corporate parent Helios and Matheson Analytics’ Moviefone.com website and provide subs with access to Postmates delivery credits, a week-long free trial of subscription service, Postmates Unlimited, and a credit toward one month of MoviePass.

MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe said the pact is part of a larger strategy to provide an array of deals to subs, tapping different companies and brands to develop “creative and innovative” consumer offerings.

Previous MoviePass brand partners include iHeartMedia, Fandor, Costco and others. Additionally, this relationship furthers MoviePass’ ongoing effort to develop non-subscription-based revenue channels.

“Knowing that the vast majority of our subscribers generally have at least one streaming subscription at home, it was a no-brainer to bring them real value not just at the movies but on the comfort of their couches through our relationship with our friends at Postmates,” Lowe said.

Diversifying revenue streams would appear to be a mandatory considering HMNY’s stock is trading at 2 cents per share as Wall Street and consumers turn their backs on the MoviePass business model – and ongoing changes to it.

The $9.95 monthly service a year ago generated millions of subs offering daily access to a theatrical screening. With MoviePass paying exhibitors face value for every ticket used by subs, the service has been hemorrhaging millions of dollars more than it generates. As a result, theatrical access has now been restricted to three screenings monthly, in addition to select movies and exhibition times.

At the same time, AMC Theatres launched a rival service enabling subs access to three screenings weekly for $19.95 per month. The service has more than 260,000 subs.

FandangoNow to Bow Rental Bundles Aug. 31

FandangoNow Binge Bundles, a rental initiative offering multiple titles from franchises and special-themed collections to double features and more, bundled together for one price, bows Aug. 31.

Fandango’s on-demand video service will be offering more than 100 popular movie rental bundles. The bundles will feature blockbuster franchises such as the Jack Ryan Collection (including The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger and The Sum of All Fears), the Spider-Man Complete Collection (featuring all six movies), the Hotel Transylvania movies, “The Twilight Saga,” faith-based double feature Miracles from Heaven and Heaven Is for Real, and the Seth Rogen comedy double feature Pineapple Express and Sausage Party. Select bundles will also be available in 4K Ultra HD.

“Our goal with Binge Bundles is to give movie lovers a complete home entertainment experience in a way that hasn’t been offered anywhere in the digital rental market,” said Cameron Douglas, VP of home entertainment, Fandango, in a statement. “This program enables us to highlight FandangoNow’s vast catalogue of movies — including major studio releases in 4K Ultra HD, indie movies, and classics — while also providing a unique and affordable opportunity for fans to binge on their favorite films.”

FandangoNow Binge Bundles will feature an ever-changing assortment of movie packages and complete franchise collections (some including up to six titles) for rent starting as low as $1.50 per movie. For each Binge Bundle rental, consumers will have 30 days to watch all of the movies in the bundle, and 48 hours to finish each title.