‘Umbrella Academy’ Climbs to No. 2 on Parrot Digital Originals Chart; ‘Stranger Things’ Remains No. 1

Netflix’s “Stranger Things” took the top spot on Parrot Analytics’ digital originals rankings the week ended Aug. 1, its seventh consecutive week at No. 1. The popular series had 55.2 times the demand of the average series, while demand for the show dropped 5.6% from the previous week.

“The Umbrella Academy,” also from Netflix, jumped up to No. 2 with a 68.9% increase in demand expressions, the proprietary metric Parrot uses to gauge a show’s popularity. It had been No. 13 the previous week. The second season of the series debuted July 31. It had 49.1 times the demand of the average show.

The Disney+ live-action “Star Wars” series “The Mandalorian” slipped a spot to No. 3 for the week, though it was up 8.2% in demand expressions during a week in which is was announced it had earned 15 Emmy nominations, including Best Drama Series. It had 48.1 times the demand of the average show.

Netflix’s “The Witcher” rose a spot to No. 4, growing demand 6.5% to gain 36.7 times the average show.

DC Universe’s “Titans” slipped to the No. 5 spot with 35.8 times average demand and expressions down 1.1%.

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A “digital original” is Parrot’s term for a multi-episode series in which the most recent season was first made available on a streaming platform such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu or Disney+.

The top overall TV series was again Nickelodeon’s “SpongeBob SquarePants,” with 111.6 times average demand. “Stranger Things” was No. 6 on the overall TV list.

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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 demand for TV content in a given market 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. Results are expressed as a comparison with the average demand for a TV show of any kind in the market.

Brave New World

STREAMING REVIEW:

Peacock;
Sci-Fi;
Not rated.
Stars Alden Ehrenreich, Jessica Brown Findlay, Harry Lloyd, Kylie Bunbury, Nina Sosanya, Joseph Morgan, Sen Mitsuji, Hannah John-Kamen, Demi Moore.

Among the signature originals of NBCUniversal’s new Peacock streaming service is this sexed-up, modernized adaptation of Aldous Huxley’s dystopian 1932 novel about a futuristic society that achieves the illusion of utopia through population control and psychological manipulation.

“Brave New World” the series takes place in a technologically advanced future society in which all children are genetically engineered, adults are drugged into happiness, people are ranked by the importance of their role in society, and all privacy and monogamy is prohibited.

One of the administrators, Bernard (Harry Lloyd) begins to question the system when one of the lower-ranking janitors commits suicide, and he begins having insecurities about fitting in. He befriends a lower-ranked genetic scientist, Lenina (Jessica Brown Findlay), whom he previously chastised for carrying on an exclusive sexual relationship with another high-ranking citizen, calling their actions selfish for refusing to share each other’s bodies with the rest of society.

They take a trip to the Savage Lands, an amusement park set up to re-create the way humanity used to live (essentially the show spoofing our current way of life). The less-sophisticated residents of the Savage Lands, however, don’t take kindly to being gawked at by the intellectual elite, and begin planning a violent revolution. Among them is John (Alden Ehrenreich), the propmaster who decides to spice up an enactment of a shotgun wedding by adding live ammunition.

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While story elements and characters are derived from the source material, the show itself with its ample nudity, graphic violence and slick production values comes across more like HBO’s “Westworld” but with actual people instead of robots, and less-convoluted plotting. The series had been in development since 2015 for the less-risqué Syfy network, another NBCUniversal subsidiary, so it’s easy to see why Peacock would poach it in an attempt to grab a piece of the “Westworld” and “Handmaid’s Tale” audiences.

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The first two episodes are available on Peacock’s free ad-supported level. For the remaining seven episodes, viewers must upgrade to one of Peacock’s paid plans.

Virus Reckoning: Four Studios to Report Fiscal Earnings This Week

NEWS ANALYSIS — Bearing the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic on its business operations, major studios Disney, Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate and Sony Pictures face the fiscal music this week, reporting quarterly results, beginning with Sony before the market opens Aug. 4.

Most attention will be directed at Disney, which reports results after the market closes Aug. 4. With nearly every aspect of its business under siege during the pandemic, expect CEO Bob Chapek to focus on the positive: Disney+, which launched service in Asia (i.e. Japan) during the reporting third quarter, undoubtedly adding to the 54.5 million subscribers the platform reported at the beginning of May.

It’s an Ace card Chapek can use to counter Netflix’s July fiscal gem, generating almost 11 million new subscribers globally to surpass 190 million.

Disney moved intended theatrical release Artemis Fowl to its subscription streaming video platform during the quarter, while Pixar’s Onward joined the service after movie theaters shut down due to the pandemic.

Disney studio, pay-TV (ESPN) and theme park business segments will have little positive to report except maybe reduced operating costs — underscoring the company’s tens of thousands of furloughed workers. Disney re-opened parks in Paris, Florida, Shanghai and Hong Kong and then closed Hong Kong again temporarily following spikes in COVID-19 infections.

But Disney did score a coup of sorts when it contracted with the NBA to host the league’s pandemic-shortened season, including hosting players, coaches and staff at its facilities in Orlando, Fla.

“Many of Disney’s operations require bringing people together in large groups,” The Motley Fool’s Parkev Tatevosian wrote in a note. “The company won’t get back to running on all cylinders until there is a vaccine or treatment breakthrough for the coronavirus.”

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ViacomCBS has busied itself expanding the portfolio and distribution reach for ad-supported VOD service Pluto TV, in addition to online-based Paramount Network (formerly Spike TV) to consumers spending increasingly more time with over-the-top video.

The company inked a deal with NBCUniversal’s upstart Peacock streaming service for NBCUniversal’s Peacock for library movie and TV show content, including  The Godfather Trilogy, “Ray Donovan,” “Undercover Boss,” and “Real Husbands of Hollywood,” among others.

“We believe COVID-19 is a catalyst for ViacomCBS to push through … significant hidden value in Paramount’s library and in ViacomCBS streaming services,” Laura Martin, analyst with Needham & Co., wrote in a July 31 note. “Film and TV libraries are becoming more valuable over time. With 140,000 TV episodes plus 3,600 films in the ViacomCBS library, this suggests valuable optionality to maximize economics through either developing or licensing its intellectual property to others.”

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With its theatrical business sidelined, Sony Pictures Entertainment in May announced an expansion of its “Imax Enhanced” releases, including catalog titles, as well as theatrical releases for home entertainment across the Europe, North America and Asia Pacific regions.

Imax markets a branded in-home “Imax private theatre” package that offers consumers the required technology, screen and audio to screen Blu-ray releases, including 4K UHD, in the home.

“SPE’s investment in the Imax Enhanced program ensures that we will continue to deliver even more of our films to audiences who now expect to experience movies at the highest technical quality — even in their own homes,” Pete Wood, SVP of new digital distribution at Sony Pictures, said in May.

In its previous fiscal result, Lionsgate attributed a $50 million loss due to COVID-19. The home entertainment distributor added more than 10 million Starz SVOD subscribers. Look for Lionsgate to up focus on home entertainment, which generated record $600 million in catalog revenue for the fiscal year ended March 31.

The distributor sold about $257 million in packaged-media product, down about $500,000 from 2019. Disc sales of major feature movies increased nearly 43% to $154.8 million from $108.4 million in the previous-year period.

Level 33’s Horror Film ‘Beast No More’ Due On Demand Aug. 7

The horror film Beast No More will come out on demand Aug. 7 from Level 33.

In the film, young biologist Mary Jane doesn’t have the perfect life, she does however have what she considers the perfect son. Tragedy strikes and her world is turned upside down. Fleeing reality, she escapes to the Australian bush. In the isolated and surreal landscape, it becomes clear that someone is stalking her camp. The opportunity to be a mother again presents itself, only it comes at a cost.

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The film stars Jessica Tovey, Dan Ewing, Roy Billing, Joel Franco, Taya Calder-Mason, Dean Kyrwood and Erin Connor.

The film won the Monsters Choice Audience Award Best Film at Fangoria’s Monster Fest, as well as Best Film and Best Australian Film at the Sanctuary Cove International Film Festival.