Mill Creek Entertainment’s transactional streaming service movieSpree is offering eight classic TV miniseries at a discounted price of $4.99 each or $29.99 for the entire collection, for a limited time.
The available miniseries include:
Lonesome Dove: Based upon the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Larry McMurtry, this sprawling epic of the Old West won seven Emmys and stars Robert Duvall, Tommy Lee Jones, Diane Lane, Anjelica Huston and Danny Glover.
The 10th Kingdom: A star-studded fantasy adventure filled with action, romance and magic in which a fantastic land of fairy tale characters is brought to life and reinvented.
Cleopatra: Leonor Varela stars as the young queen of the Nile.
Scarlett: Based on Alexandra’s Ripley’s bestselling sequel to Gone With the Wind, the turbulent romance between Scarlett (Joanne Whalley-Kilmer) and Rhett Butler (Timothy Dalton) continues.
The Five People You Meet in Heaven: The adaptation of Mitch Albom’s bestseller explores the unexpected mysteries of the afterlife by reminding us what really matters here on Earth.
Moby Dick: Patrick Stewart plays Capt. Ahab in this adaptation of Herman Melville’s classic whaling tale.
The Titanic: This 1996 retelling of the story of the doomed ocean liner stars Peter Gallagher, George C. Scott and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
The Odyssey: Armand Assante plays Odysseus in the adventure filled with exciting confrontations, dangerous monsters, angry gods and deadly sirens.
A free 10-minute preview for each series is available at the recently launched service, which can be accessed at www.moviespree.com or via apps for Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Android devices. Viewers can access the preview here.
Amazon Prime’s “The Boys” is the most anticipated new show and Netflix’s “Stranger Things” is the most anticipated returning show coming in July, according to TV Time’s Anticipation Report chart.
TV Time is a free TV viewership tracking app that tracks consumers’ viewing habits worldwide and is visited by more than 1 million consumers every day, according to the company. TV Time’s Anticipation Report is based on data from those users.
“The Boys,” co-created by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg and hitting screens July 26, follows a group of vigilantes who embark on a quest to take down selfish superheroes The Seven, a group who abuses their powers rather than using them for good.
The third installment of “Stranger Things,” Netflix’s science-fiction horror series set in the 1980s, debuts July 4. TV Time users also anticipate two other Netflix returning series at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively: “Money Heist,” hitting July 19, and “Orange Is the New Black,” debuting July 26.
The horror thriller Ladyworld will come out on DVD and VOD Aug. 27 from MVD Entertainment Group.
Cleopatra Entertainment will theatrically release the film nationwide Aug. 2.
Ladyworld — a modernized all-girl story inspired by Lord of the Flies — stars Ariela Barer, Annalise Basso (Captain Fantastic), Ryan Simpkins (Brigsby Bear, The House), Odessa Adlon, Maya Hawke (“Stranger Things” season three), Tatsumi Romano, Zora Casebere and Atheena Frizzell. It follows eight teenage girls who are trapped in an endless birthday party after a massive earthquake. The girls’ sanity and psyches dissolve as they run out of food and water. Eventually, they regress to their basic instincts, exploiting each other’s fears and insecurities.
Ladyworld enjoyed recent success on the festival circuit, including BFI London Film Festival, Fantastic Fest, TIFF Next Wave, Denver Film Festival and SF Indie Fest.
The film will have an East Coast premiere Aug.2 at the Cinema Village in New York and a West Coast premiere Aug. 2 at the Arena Cinelounge in Los Angeles with a Q&A with director Amanda Kramer and cast.
Two murder mystery crime thrillers, Grantchester: Season 4 and Walter Presents: Killer by the Lake — Season 1, will begin streaming in July on the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel.
The fourth season of “Grantchester,” streaming starting July 15, marks the final appearance of James Norton as crime-solving Vicar Sidney Chambers and introduces Tom Brittney (“Outlander,” “Call the Midwife”) as new cast member Reverend Will Davenport.
“Walter Presents: Killer by The Lake” is the follow up to the hit French thriller, “Vanished by the Lake.” The series revisits troubled detective Lise who has started a new life with her husband and baby. The happy, rural idyll is suddenly shattered with the discovery of two dead women. Season one starts streaming July 19.
The subscription rate for the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel is $5.99 per month with an Amazon Prime or Prime Video subscription.
The cosplay fantasy Captain Black will come out on DVD, on demand and digital July 17 from Random Media.
The film follows Mike, a mild-mannered restaurant manager whose life gets turned upside down the night he discovers a mysterious bag left behind by one of his employees. Inside are several comic books, including one about a superhero, Captain Black, that captures his imagination. He is especially taken with Captain Black’s sexy cohort, a beautiful heroine named Kitt Vixen. A Halloween party gives Mike the opportunity to act out his superhero fantasy as he dresses up in a homemade Captain Black costume. Putting on the suit gives Mike confidence and courage. To his delight, he meets up with a costumed Kitt Vixen (Georgia Norman), who seduces him and gives him a night to remember. Before he can even ask her for her name, she disappears into the night. Mike is content to consider the adventure a lovely memory until two months later when he meets up with her again, accidentally. Out of costume, he discovers she’s not the women he thought she was, and this revelation makes him question every aspect of his life.
Starring and directed by Jeffrey Johnson, the film also stars Linara Washington and Georgia Norman.
The film won Best Director and Best Actress at the 2018 Atlantic City Cinefest, Best Director at the 2018 Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival and at the 2018 Indie Gathering International Film Festival.
When Viacom acquired ad-supported streaming service Pluto TV for $340 million earlier this year, the corporate parent to Paramount Pictures, Comedy Central, BET, MTV and Nickelodeon, had scant over-the-top video distribution.
Now, thanks to aggressive dealmaking, Pluto TV is expanding Viacom’s digital content reach globally.
The Los Angeles-based platform signed a distribution deal with Channel 5, the TV broadcaster in the United Kingdom owned by Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN).
Specifically, three branded channels — Pluto TV Drama, Pluto TV Food and Pluto TV Movies – are headed to Channel 5’s “My5” OTT platform — the latter distributed through Apple TV, YouView, Freeview and related devices.
“Collaborating with a well-established VOD platform like My5 allows us to pursue our ongoing goal to further enhance Pluto TV’s visibility in the U.K.,” Olivier Jollet, Pluto’s managing director in Europe, said in a statement. “The three curated Pluto TV channels not only add to My5’s existing line-up, but also enable the My5 audience to experience a small portion of Pluto TV’s diverse programming.”
Pluto has expanded distribution (and Viacom content) through recent deals involving Comcast Cable’s X1 platform, Cox Contour, CNN, Cinedigm and BBC Studios.
“This is a global opportunity,” Viacom CEO Bob Bakish said earlier this year. “It’s going to accelerate our strategy on multiple dimensions. We see a very material opportunity there.”
Indeed, Oli Thomas, VP of digital at VIMN in the U.K., Northern and Eastern Europe, said the MY5 arrangement elevates the U.K. broadcaster’s streamer’s diversity in OTT content.
“The Pluto TV channels further enhance our proposition in the U.K.,” he said. “We know that movies and drama in particular work well in the on-demand space and we’re thrilled to debut such an exciting range of library content on My5.”
Marvel Studios’ Captain Marvel maintained the No. 1 spot on the NPD VideoScan First Alert chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales, and the dedicated Blu-ray Disc chart the week ended June 22.
The Disney-distributed superhero blockbuster had debuted in the top spot a week earlier.
The week’s top newcomer was Universal Pictures’ Us, which debuted at No. 2 on both charts, selling about one-third as many copies as Captain Marvel.
The latest horror film from director Jordan Peele earned $175 million at the domestic box office, about the same haul of his first film, 2017’s Get Out.
Another newcomer, Paramount’s Wonder Park, landed at No. 3 on both charts. The animated film, about a little girl bringing the amusement park of her imagination to life, earned $45.2 million in U.S. theaters.
The No. 4 title on the overall sales chart was Lionsgate’s A Madea Family Funeral, which was No. 13 on the Blu-ray chart.
DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World was No. 5 on the overall sales chart and took No. 4 on the Blu-ray chart.
No. 5 on the Blu-ray chart was the original Toy Story, which was recently released as a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.
The 1980s teen comedy Weird Science, Kathryn Bigelow’s debut feature The Loveless and the classic Oscar nominee Hold Back the Dawn are among the films on the July Blu-ray slate from Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment Group.
First up July 2 is the late 1970s rock-n-roll comedy FM. Oscar-nominated John A. Alonzo directs this story of radio station mutiny. After being forced to play more commercials, including military recruitment ads, DJs and other employees take control and fight their corporate bosses by playing as much music as possible. The new HD release, transferred from the original camera negatives, features extras including a new interview with the film’s star Michael Brandon; a new interview with writer Ezra Sacks; “The Spirit of Radio,” a newly filmed video appreciation of the era of FM radio and the FM soundtrack by film and music critic Glenn Kenny; a gallery of original stills, promotional images and soundtrack sleeves; original trailers; a reversible sleeve featuring two original artwork options; and for the first pressing only, an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by writer and critic Paul Corupe.
Due July 9 is Oscar-winner Bigelow’s debut feature (co-directed by Monty Montgomery) The Loveless. Set in the 1950s, The Loveless is the story of a motorcycle gang heading to the races in Daytona. Along the way they stop in a small southern town, leaving the locals less they pleased. Willem Dafoe, also making his debut, stars. The Loveless is presented restored and in HD for the first time, with a new transfer approved by Montgomery and director of photography Doyle Smith. Extras include a new audio commentary with Montgomery, moderated by Elijah Drenner; making-of featurettes; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx; and for the first pressing only, an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Peter Stanfield.
On July 16 come two releases, 1941’s Hold Back the Dawn and 1990s horror flick The Chill Factor.
Nominated for six Oscars, Hold Back the Dawnstars Charles Boyer and Olivia de Havilland in the story of one man’s hope of making it to the United States by marrying a citizen. The plan is to leave his would-be bride upon making his way into the country, but the plan has a few hiccups thanks to a determined immigration officer and a true love that begins to blossom. Presented in HD for the first time, the release includes extras such as new audio commentary by film scholar Adrian Martin; “Love Knows No Borders,” a newly filmed video appreciation by film critic Geoff Andrew; a career-spanning onstage audio interview with de Havilland recorded at the National Film Theatre in 1971; an hour-long radio adaptation of Hold Back the Dawn from 1941 starring Boyer, Paulette Goddard and Susan Haywood; a gallery of original stills and promotional images; the original trailer; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Jennifer Dionisio; and for the first pressing only, an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by writer and critic Farran Smith Nehme.
The Chill Factor, also known as Demon Possessed, is the only film directed by producer Christopher Webster. In the film, a group of friends out on a snowmobile trip seek refuge when one of them gets knocked unconscious following an accident. They locate an abandoned cabin to take cover. The cabin happens to hold a number of bizarre religious artifacts, and they mistakenly awaken a terrible evil. Extras include a new audio commentary with special effects artist Hank Carlson and horror writer Josh Hadley; a new on-camera interview with makeup artist Jeffery Lyle Segal; a new on-camera interview with production manager Alexandra Reed; a new on-camera interview with stunt coordinator Gary Paul; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Marc Schoenbach; and for the first pressing, only a collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Mike White.
Due July 23 is the 1980s John Hughes classic Weird Science available in regular and steelbook packaging. Starring Anthony Michael Hall, the comedy follows a pair of nerds that attempt to create the perfect woman via their computer. The release features a new 4K restoration from the original negatives and includes the original theatrical version as well as the extended version. As an added bonus, a standard definition transfer of the edited-for-TV release is included. Additional special features include an archive making-of documentary; new interviews with special makeup creator Craig Reardon, composer Ira Newborn, supporting actor John Kapelos and casting director Jackie Burch; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tracie Ching; and for the first pressing only, an illustrated collectors’ booklet featuring new writing on the film by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and Amanda Reyes.
Could the growth of legal streaming be cutting down on consumer piracy?
That’s what is suggested by consumer research by Ampere Analysis, which revealed a steady fall in the proportion of consumers who say that they regularly use pirate sites and services to watch online video.
In the three-year period between the first quarter of 2016 and the first quarter of 2019, there were particularly sharp declines in video piracy in Spain, the United States, the Netherlands and France, according to the study.
Spain, traditionally a very high piracy market, saw a 47% increase in claimed SVOD and catch-up viewing in the three-year period, and almost the same (45%) decrease in the proportion of internet uses regularly turning to pirate services, according to the study.
Just having access to on-demand services isn’t enough, according to Ampere; consumers must actually use the services for their usage of piracy sites to be impacted. The content on SVOD and catch-up services needs to be appealing for the audience, according to the study.
“On average, in markets where either catch-up or SVOD online video viewing has risen the most, piracy has experienced the biggest drop,” said Richard Broughton, director at Ampere Analysis, in a statement. “With the growth in all-you-can-eat legal services, users no longer need to turn to illegitimate sources to get their viewing fix.”
He cautioned, however, that legitimate OTT providers must keep attracting eyeballs.
“The on-demand market is moving into a period of ‘siloisation,’ where producer and distributor brands go direct to the consumer, at the same time restricting the amount of content they license to third party services,” he said in a statement. “If the mainstream OTT players have less of the content users want to watch, when they want to watch it, there’s a genuine risk that usage of these SVOD and catch-up services could begin to slump, something the pirate operators will be quick to capitalize on.”
Roku’s streaming TV platform accounted for more than 30% of U.S. sales of connected TV devices in Q1 2019, further increasing its lead in streaming TV platforms, according to the latest data from Strategy Analytics.
The British research firm finds that there are more than 41 million Roku-based devices in use, including branded set-top devices, HDMI sticks and smart TVs, accounting for 15.2% of all media streaming devices.
Roku now has a 36% lead over the next major platform, Sony PlayStation, in terms of devices in use. The report predicts that this lead will stretch to 70% by the end of the year, largely as a result of the success of Roku’s smart TV partner strategy.
Amazon’s Fire TV OS was the second-most-sold streaming TV platform in Q1 2019, with 12% of sales, followed by Samsung’s Tizen at 11% and Google (Android TV and Chromecast) at 9%
By the end of 2019 more than 52 million Roku-powered devices will be in use, accounting for 18% of all connected media devices
“Roku had another strong quarter in Q1 and continues to hold a commanding lead in streaming media platforms in spite of Amazon’s growing influence in the living room,” David Watkins, director at Strategy Analytics and the report’s author, said in a statement.
Watkins said Roku’s firs-mover status (it co-pioneered subscription VOD with Netflix), content offering of third-party streaming services, comprehensive search function and simple and intuitive user interface have contributed in its success.
The analyst cautioned Roku is less well-known outside of the U.S. and to succeed on the international stage would need to “face down” the challenges of building brand awareness and drawing users away from well-established players such as Amazon, Apple and Google.
“There was record growth in the smart TV market in the first quarter of 2019 and Roku and TCL have proved to be a great partnership in this rapidly growing segment,” added David Mercer, principal analyst at Strategy Analytics. “Roku is set to become the U.S.’s top smart TV platform this year in terms of sales share, and Google and Amazon clearly have their work cut out to stay in touch with the market leader.”