Cinemark CEO ‘Optimistic’ Theaters Fully Operational by Summer

With 75% of Cinemark’s U.S. theaters operating at the end of 2020 due to ongoing pandemic government restrictions, CEO Mark Zoradi expects all remaining screens to be in service by the summer. Cinemark operated 531 theaters and 5,958 screens in the U.S. and Latin America through Dec. 31, 2020.

Speaking on the company’s Feb. 26 fiscal call, Zoradi said he believes screens in Los Angeles and San Francisco can open in the coming weeks, and combined with pending studio releases Cruella (Disney), F9 (Universal), Infinite (Paramount), Minions (Universal) and Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount) in the spring and summer portend a return to normal in Hollywood for the exhibitor business.

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Cinemark CEO Mark Zoradi

“We’re optimistic that we’re going to be able to light up these theaters again come this summer,” Zoradi said, adding the company has been successful adapting to government restrictions and implementing sanitation and safety features in theaters.

“Since we re-opened in June [2020], we have consistently received 96% guest satisfaction scores on Cinemark protecting their health and safety,” he said.

Zoradi said the chain has generated more than 2 million moviegoers through about 150,000 “private watch parties” attracting an average of 13 attendees per group.

“During Q4 alone, private watch parties represented more than 24% of our attendance and box office,” he said, adding that more than 50% of the quarter’s watch parties consumed library content — driven by Warner Bros./New Line’s 2003 release Elf.

“This library content could be watched at home for free on the sofa, but instead, consumers chose to pay $99 to see it in the theater,” Zoradi said. “This reinforces what we recently stated, ‘people are yearning for normality, escape and fun out-of-home opportunity.'”

During Q4, attendance topped 6.6 million patrons, with the average ticket price at $7.42 and concession revenue per patron of $4.75. Admissions revenue reached $49.1 million, concession revenue $31.5 million, and total revenue approached $98.2 million in the period. Net loss in the quarter topped $239 million ($617 million in the year) on revenue of $686 million. That compared with a profit of $191 million on revenue of $3.3 billion in the 2019 fiscal year.

AMC Networks’ SVOD Services Top 6 Million Subs; Fiscal Loss Increases

AMC Networks’ foray into subscription streaming continues to grow, as do expenses. The media company behind “The Walking Dead” and owner of home entertainment distributor RLJ Entertainment, Feb. 26 disclosed that its SVOD businesses topped 6 million combined subscribers through the fourth quarter and fiscal year ended Dec. 31, 2020. That represents a growth of 157% from 3.8 million subs at the end of 2019.

AMC’s SVOD businesses include AMC+, Acorn TV, Shudder, Sundance Now, Acorn TV and ALLBLK (formerly Urban Movie Channel) — the latter two acquired following AMC’s $65 million purchase of RLJ Entertainment in 2018. In the quarter, AMC launched the AMC+ bundled streaming offering with Comcast, Dish Network and Sling TV and AT&T’s DirecTV platforms, as well as on Amazon Prime Video Channels, Apple TV Channels and Roku’s distribution platforms.

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“Streaming is now the most significant growth area of our company,” CEO Josh Sapan said in a statement.

Meanwhile, AMC’s “International and Other” segment, which includes RLJ Entertainment, saw Q4 revenue increase 7.5% to $216 million, from $201 million in the previous-year period. Operating loss narrowed to $77 million from $118 million.

For the fiscal year, revenue increased 1.7% to $747 million, from $734.5 million. The operating loss increased 31.9% to $224 million, from a loss of $169.8 million.

Blue Underground Releasing ‘The Final Countdown’ on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray May 25

Indie distributor Blue Underground will release the 1980 time travel classic The Final Countdown on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc May 25 through  MVD Entertainment Group.

The film stars Kirk Douglas as the captain of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Nimitz, which is in the middle of a training exercise when it is transported via a mysterious vortex back in time four decades to just before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Joined by his first officer (Ron O’Neal), a defense department expert (Martin Sheen), and an air wing commander (James Farentino) who is also an amateur historian, the captain must decide whether or not to commit the advanced technology of his fighter planes to taking out the Japanese fleet prior to the sneak attack.

The Final Countdown

The cast also includes Charles Durning as a 1940s senator who encounters the future ship, and Katharine Ross as his assistant.

The film is presented with a new restoration, scanned in 4K 16-bit from the original 35mm camera negative, with Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos audio. The exclusive limited collector’s edition set will include the film on 4K and regular Blu-ray discs, a soundtrack CD and a collectible booklet. The first run of the 4K edition will also include a lenticular slipcover.

Extras include audio commentary with director of photography Victor J. Kemper; an interview with associate producer Lloyd Kaufman; interviews with The Jolly Rogers F-14 Fighter Squadron; theatrical trailers; TV spots; and poster and still galleries.

The Final Countdown 4K collector’s edition carries a list price of $59.95. Fans can save $10 by preordering the set at MVDshop.com.

Shout! Factory TV Slates March 6 ‘Greg the Bunny Tapes’ Marathon

Shout! Factory on March 6 will present “The Greg the Bunny Tapes Marathon,” a TV sitcom that originally aired in 2002, in celebration of the series’ debut on Shout! Factory.

The series is centered on a bunny puppet named Greg, a wide-eyed innocent who falls into the world of a children’s show populated by neurotic puppets and the humans who both love and abuse them.

The marathon begins at noon PT and will continue all day. The stream can be viewed on ShoutFactoryTV.com, Shout! Factory TV’s Roku, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, and Android apps, as well as the following digital streaming platforms: Twitch, Pluto TV, Samsung TV Plus, Comcast Xfinity, Xumo, Vizio, Redbox, IMDb TV, STIRR, Sling TV, THETA.tv and Local Now.

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Starring Eugene Levy, Seth Green and Sarah Silverman, this version contains 19 half-hour episodes with Greg, Warren and Count Blah starring in hilarious parodies of independent films. Additionally, the marathon will feature a never-before-seen cut of the show; a brand-new virtual reunion special, The Greg the Bunny Tapes Rewind; and an hour-long retrospective special celebrating the origin and evolution of these outrageous characters — from their public access beginnings to their popular IFC parodies.

“The Greg the Bunny Tapes” are also now available for viewing on demand on Shout!FactoryTV.com, Shout! Factory TV’s Roku, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, and Android apps, and on various Shout! Factory TV branded channels including Tubi, Amazon Prime Channels, and the Roku Channel.

TV Time: Disney+ Series ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ Top Anticipated New Show in March

The Disney+ Series “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” was the top anticipated new show on the TV Time chart for March.

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 Falcon and the Winder Soldier,” debuting on March 19, features Sebastian Stan and Anthony Mackie reprising their Marvel Cinematic Universe superhero roles. The mismatched duo teams up for a global adventure.

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Also appearing on the new show chart were three other series from streamers. At No. 2 was “Foundation,” debuting March 1 on Apple TV+. It’s a science fiction show based on the book series of the same name by Isaac Asimov. At No. 3 was HBO Max’s Zack Snyder’s Justice League, the director’s new cut of the Warner Bros. film hitting home screens March 18. And at No. 5 behind NBC’s sci-fi series “Debris” was another superhero series, “Invincible,” coming out on Amazon Prime Video March 26. It’s an adult animated show based on the comic book character of the same name by Robert Kirkman.

 

Most Anticipated New Shows for March:

  1. “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” (Disney+) — March 19
  2. “Foundation” (Apple TV+) — March 1
  3. Zack Snyder’s Justice League (HBO Max) — March 18
  4. “Debris” (NBC) — March 1
  5. “Invincible” (Amazon Prime Video) — March 26

 

Most Anticipated Returning Shows for March:

  1. “My Hero Academia” (NTV) — March 27
  2. “The Flash” (2014) (CW) — March 2
  3. “Good Girls” (NBC) — March 7
  4. “Love Alarm” (Netflix) — March 12
  5. “Final Space” (TBS) — March 20

Whip Media Inks Data Tracking Deal With Tastemade

Software platform and data provider Whip Media Feb. 25 announced that Tastemade, a media company with a global audience of more than 300 million monthly viewers, will utilize its data performance tracking solution for linear free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST).

A lifestyle media company, Tastemade produces hundreds of hours of video content and original programming in the categories of food, travel, and home and design on all major digital, mobile and streaming television platforms, streaming more than 2.5 billion views each month, according to a Whip press release.

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“The rapid growth of Tastemade’s audience and global OTT distribution partners created the need for better content performance tracking specific to digital linear networks,” according to the press release.

FAST content programmers do not currently have visibility into title-level performance across multiple digital platforms, creating data inefficiencies for FAST networks that need this data to make strategic content acquisition and programming decisions, according to Whip. Whip Media leveraged its data aggregation capabilities to solve this problem by mapping FAST network’s performance data to both its linear schedules and internal metadata, creating an automated performance tracking solution for digital linear networks. Designed to handle scale and improve performance visibility, this platform will help Tastemade make more informed programming decisions.

“As we rapidly expand our global distribution footprint, we’re excited to work with Whip Media to deepen our understanding of how viewers engage with our content across multiple platforms,” said Jay Holzer, head of programming for Tastemade Streaming Network.

“We applaud Tastemade, a truly data-forward modern media company and streaming network, for bringing more visibility to the industry and FAST networks to drive innovation in their businesses,” said Carol Hanley, chief revenue and strategy officer of Whip Media. “This partnership will help Tastemade to leverage the power of their data to drive revenue and share their premium original lifestyle programming with more audiences.”

‘Greenland’ Tops Disc Sales Charts for Second Week

STX Film’s Greenland, distributed on disc by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, remained No. 1 on the NPD VideoScan First Alert chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales, and the dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart the week ended Feb. 20.

The low-key sci-fi drama stars Gerard Butler as a man trying to get his family to a military shelter when comets start hitting the Earth, threatening all life on the surface of the planet. Like most films in 2020, its theatrical plans were derailed by the coronavirus pandemic. It debuted domestically on VOD in December.

Holding steady at No. 2 on both charts was another Universal Pictures release, the horror/comedy hybrid Freaky, which stars Vince Vaughn as a serial killer who swaps bodies with a teenage girl (Kathryn Newton) when he stabs her with a magical dagger. It sold about one-third as many discs as Greenland.

The No. 3 overall seller was Warner’s Justice League, as fans revisit the theatrical version of the film in the lead-up to the four-hour director’s cut by Zack Snyder debuting on HBO Max March 18. Oddly, Blu-ray accounted for just 6% of Justice League sales, indicating it was likely a discounted impulse buy for a lot of shoppers.

The previous week’s third-place seller, Universal’s Let Him Go, slipped to No. 9 on the overall disc chart and No. 15 on the Blu-ray chart.

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The week’s top newcomer, at No. 6 overall and No. 8 on the Blu-ray chart, was Lionsgate’s The Informer, about an ex-convict who takes an undercover assignment to return to prison to infiltrate the mob. It earned about $300,000 at the domestic box office after being delayed for several years due to financial problems with the various distributors that passed it around.

The South Korean actioner The Swordsman, distributed by Well Go USA, debuted at No. 13 on the overall disc chart and No. 3 on the Blu-ray chart. It saw Blu-ray account for 70% of its total unit sales.

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The Media Play News rental chart the week ended Feb. 21 also had Greenland at No. 1 again, while Let Him Go at No. 2 and Freaky at No. 3 also remained in their respective positions.

Universal’s Horizon Line debuted at No. 4, while No.5 was Vertical Entertainment’s Shadow in the Cloud, a Redbox-exclusive disc.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 2-20-21
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 2-21-21
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 2-20-21
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 2-20-21
Sales Report for Week Ended 2-20-21
Digital Transactions Snapshot for Week Ended 2-22-21

AT&T Spinning Off Pay-TV Units in $8 Billion Cash Deal

As expected, AT&T Feb. 25 announced a $8 billion cash deal with private equity group TPG to create a new company, dubbed New DirecTV, encompassing satellite TV operator DirecTV, online TV platform AT&T TV and cable service AT&T U-verse.

The telecom giant said it would use the funds to pay down debt accrued in its $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner in 2016, in addition to focusing company interests on WarnerMedia, HBO Max and 5G.

Under terms of the transaction, which is expected to close in the second half of the year, New DirecTV will be jointly governed by a board of directors with two representatives each from AT&T and TPG, as well as a fifth seat for the CEO, which at closing will be Bill Morrow, CEO of AT&T’s U.S. video unit. Following the close of the transaction, AT&T will own 70% of the company and TPG will own 30%.

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AT&T expects to receive $7.8 billion ($7.6 billion in cash and the assumption from AT&T of $200 million of existing DirecTV debt). TPG will contribute $1.8 billion in cash to New DirecTV in exchange for preferred stock units.

“[The deal] supports our deliberate capital allocation commitment to invest in growth areas, sustain the dividend at current levels, focus on debt reduction and restructure or monetize non-core assets,” CEO John Stankey said in a statement.

AT&T has for some time tried selling off its pay-TV units, with little success. The premium TV business is shrinking as consumers gravitate toward over-the-top video services, including online TV. The company reported a loss of 617,000 subscribers in the most-recent fiscal quarter. It ended 2020 with 16.5 million combined DirecTV, AT&T TV and U-verse subs, down from 19.5 million at the end of 2019.

That AT&T TV is included in the deal underscores the telecom’s ongoing challenges in the niche market — as well as offering TPG a stake in an online TV ecosystem led by Disney-owned Hulu+Live TV with more than four million subscribers.

“As video consumption habits evolve, the new DirecTV will continue investing in its offering to provide value to its customers, including through next-generation streaming pay-TV services,” said David Trujillo, partner at TPG.

‘Greenland’ Climbs to Top of ‘Watched at Home’ List

STX Films’ Greenland, released on Blu-ray and DVD Feb. 9 by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, jumped up to the No. 1 spot on the weekly “Watched at Home” chart the week ended Feb. 20.

Greenland, in which Gerard Butler plays a man trying to get his family to get his family to a military shelter while comets threaten life on Earth, had been in second place a week earlier on the Watched at Home chart, which tracks transactional video activity (both digital and on DVD and Blu-ray Disc, but not premium VOD or disc rental) compiled from studio and retailer data and presented by DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group. This is its fourth week on the chart, having started in the fourth spot at the end of January and moved up one spot each week since.

The previous week’s most-watched title, DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods: A New Age from Universal Pictures, dropped to No. 2.

The top newcomer to the chart was No. 3 Monster Hunter, from Sony Pictures. Based on the video game franchise of the same name, the film stars Milla Jovovich as Capt. Artemis, whose unit is caught in a sandstorm that transports them to a world ruled by dangerous and monsters. As they fight to survive, they encounter the mysterious Hunter (Tony Jaa), whose unique skills allow him to stay one step ahead of the powerful creatures. Monster Hunter became available for digital sellthrough on Feb. 16, ahead of its March 2 release on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.

Rounding out the top five were Universal’s Let Him Go at No. 4 and Warner’s Tenet at No. 5.

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The only other title making its first appearance on the chart during the week was Vertical Entertainment’s Shadow in the Cloud. The film, which stars Chloë Grace Moretz as a World War II flight officer on a secret mission when her bomber is attacked by gremlins, was released through digital channels at the beginning of the year and is currently available on disc exclusively through Redbox (though the Watched at Home chart doesn’t account for disc rentals).

  1. Greenland (Universal/STX)
  2. The Croods: A New Age (Universal)
  3. Monster Hunter (Sony Pictures)
  4. Let Him Go (Universal)
  5. Tenet (Warner)
  6. Freaky (Universal)
  7. American Skin (Vertical Entertainment)
  8. Yellowstone: Season 1 (Paramount)
  9. Yellowstone: Season 3 (Paramount)
  10. Yellowstone: Season 2 (Paramount)
  11. Shadow in the Cloud (Vertical)
  12. Harry Potter Complete 8-Film Collection (Warner)
  13. Honest Thief (Universal)
  14. The War with Grandpa (Universal)
  15. Songbird (STX)
  16. Love and Monsters (Paramount)
  17. Synchronic (Well Go)
  18. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (Warner)
  19. Wild Mountain Thyme (Universal)
  20. Come Play (Universal)

 

Source: DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group
Includes U.S. digital sales, digital rentals, and DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD sales for the week ended Feb. 20.

Shout! Studios Sets May 18 Home Release Date for French Animated Film ‘The Prince’s Voyage’

Shout! Studios on May 18 will debut The Prince’s Voyage, from venerable French animator Jean-François Laguionie (The Painting, Cannes Palme d’Or winner Rowing Across the Atlantic) and Xavier Picard (“King Arthur and the Knights of Justice”).

Available for the first time on North American home entertainment shelves, the film will be issued in a two-disc Blu-ray combo pack (Blu-ray and DVD) with bonus content including an interview with Laguionie and Picard as well as a study of the ice flow sequence. The film will also be available digitally.

Produced by Blue Spirit Productions, The Prince’s Voyage screened at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival, Rotterdam International Film Festival, New York Animation First, and Chicago International Film Festival. Laguionie received an Honorary Cristal Award at the 2019 Annecy for his illustrious career in animation.

The film is centered on an old monkey prince named Laurent who runs aground on an unknown shore. Injured and lost, he is found by a 12-year-old boy named Tom. Prince Laurent is then taken in by Tom’s parents, a couple of scientists who were banished from their community because they believe in the existence of other monkey civilizations. With Tom’s help, the prince discovers a society he knows nothing about, while Tom’s parents decide to use him to prove that their theory was indeed correct.