Former Netflix Executive Convicted on Bribery, Money Laundering Charges

Former Netflix executive Michael Kail April 30 was found guilty by a federal jury on 29 counts of money laundering, fraud, bribery and illegal kickbacks during his employment at the SVOD pioneer between 2011 and 2014. The unanimous verdict following a one-week trial was handed down by 12 jurors in San Jose, Calif.

Michael Kail

The 52-year-old Kail, who was VP of internet technology at Netflix from 2011 to 2014, was indicted in 2018 for allegedly accepting kickbacks valued at almost $700,000 ranging from stock options, cash and gifts from myriad technology companies doing business with Netflix. Kail justified the proceeds as commissions, which he then used for personal gains, including allegedly purchasing a house in Los Gatos, Calif.

Kail, who is free on bail, faces a possible sentence of 20 years and fines totaling more than $1 million, or twice the gross loss to Netflix. The streamer filed a separate civil lawsuit against Kail in 2014. That case was settled confidentially in 2015.

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After leaving Netflix, Kail joined Yahoo as chief information officer, a position he vacated after the federal lawsuit filing. He then co-founded a cyber security firm in Boston called Cybric, where according to his LinkedIn profile he served as chief technology officer (CTO) from October 2015 to May 2018. The company is now known as ZeroNorth.

His most recent job, according to LinkedIn, was CTO of Everest, a San Diego-based company that describes itself as “a decentralized platform and protocol to build value exchanges between people and organizations. Based upon the blockchain and Ethereum smart-contract technology – Everest makes tools for institutions to deliver value to communities. Everest’s solution brings together a massively scaleable transaction platform, EverChain, with currency and document storage, EverWallet, and biometrically verified identities, EverID.”

His LinkedIn profile shows a departure date of May 2021.

 

Comedy ‘Breaking Them Up’ Coming to VOD in September From Mill Creek

Mill Creek Entertainment will release the comedy Breaking Them Up in September on VOD.

In the film, 15-year-old Damien is perhaps a little too precocious for his own good. Along with his quick-witted best friend Erin, he runs a side hustle as an unofficial behind-the-scenes matchmaker at school. Students fork over the cash, and the matchmaking team — through various hijinks — manufactures their own special brand of serendipity. All is well until Damien focuses that industrious energy on his own bickering parents.

Damien’s parents constantly argue, and any semblance of love seems to have evaporated between them. From his perspective, they’re wrong for each other. He should know — he’s an expert. And like any bright kid, Damien takes it upon himself to fix the problem. It’s simple: Destroy their marriage and find more suitable mates.

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The film stars Jakob Wedel (“NCIS: Los Angeles, “Criminal Minds”), Tess Aubert (“Atypical,” “Mr. Mayor”), Stephen Schneider (“Broad City,” “Lucifer”) and Kelen Coleman (“Superstore,” “Big Little Lies”).

“One of the big assumptions we make as kids growing up is that our adolescence is uniquely horrible,” director Scott Dow said in a statement. “It’s easy to look back on your own struggles and recognize the universality of growing pains, no matter what form they take.”

The film was an Official Selection at the 2020 Newport Beach Film Festival, the 2020 deadCENTER Film Festival and the 2020 Method Festival (where it took home the Stella Artois Maverick Award and the Variety Audience Award).

The soundtrack features tracks by The Hunts, Vic Sage, Racoon Racoon and DayFox.

‘Rock Dog 2: Rock Around the Park’ Due on Digital June 11, Disc June 15

The animated sequel Rock Dog 2: Rock Around the Park arrives on digital June 11 and on Blu-ray (plus digital) and DVD June 15 from Lionsgate.

In the sequel, one year after the events of the original Rock Dog, Bodi and his band, True Blue, have become locally famous in the village of Snow Mountain. They even have devoted fans. But when a music mogul named Lang gives them the opportunity to tour with pop sensation Lil’ Foxy, Bodi and his friends learn that fame comes at a price, and ultimately discover that only by staying true to yourself can you unleash the power of rock ‘n’ roll.

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The family-friendly film features Andrew Francis (“My Little Pony” franchise, TV’s “Ninjago,” “Marvel Super Hero Adventures”), Ashleigh Ball (“My Little Pony” franchise, TV’s “Ready Jet Go!,” “Rev & Roll”), Brian Dobson (Norm of the North: Keys to the KingdomNorm of the North: King Sized Adventure, TV’s “Tarzan and Jane”), Brian Drummond (TV’s “Dragon Ball Z,” Norm of the North: Family Vacation, “Bob the Builder”), Cathy Weseluck (“My Little Pony” franchise, “Barbie” franchise, TV’s “Littlest Pet Shop”), Donny Lucas (Open Season: Scared Silly, TV’s “Van Helsing,” The Christmas Doctor), Graham Hamilton (TV’s “Snap Ships: Dawn of Battle”), Jason Simpson (TV’s “The Dragon Prince,” “Tobot Galaxy Detectives,” “Line Rangers”), James Higuchi (TV’s “Sabrina: Secrets of a Teenage Witch,” “The Deep,” “Superbook”), Kathleen Barr (TV’s “Ninjago,” “My Little Pony” franchise, “Dragon Tales”), Michael Adamthwaite (TV’s “Ninjago,” Cold PursuitWar for the Planet of the Apes), Richard Newman (“My Little Pony” franchise, TV’s “Doraemon,” “Beyblade Burst”) and Sabrina Pitre (“My Little Pony” franchise, TV’s “Ninjago,” “Lego Jurassic World: Legend of Isla Nublar”).

Doc ‘The Genius Factory’ Streaming on Discovery+ Starting May 20

The documentary Genius Factory will debut on the subscription streaming service Discovery+ May 20.

It follows eccentric billionaire Robert Graham, who in the 1980s wanted to create the world’s smartest kids, so he funded the largest legal genetic experiment in human history. He felt that unintelligent people were breeding too often and smart people weren’t breeding enough, so he decided to do something about it.

Now, 30 years later, the children of his eugenics experiment walk the streets of America as adults. These super babies seem normal enough, but there is a hidden struggle to understand who they are and why they came to be. They struggle to understand if the Genius Factory rewarded them or condemned them.

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The founder is dead, the sperm bank is closed, and the records burned. In the documentary, for the first time, people who worked at the bank talk, the genius children meet each other and find out who their fathers are.

Hulu + Live TV Adds Nine ViacomCBS Networks

Hulu + Live TV is adding nine ViacomCBS networks to its channel lineup, including Comedy Central, BET, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr, VH1, CMT, MTV, TV Land and the Paramount Network.

Subscribers will also have on-demand access to TV series titles such as “Freaks & Geeks,” “Moesha” and “Sister Sister.”

Monthly subscription pricing for Hulu + Live TV will remain at $64.99 per month.

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Five ViacomCBS networks — BETher, MTV2, NickToons, TeenNick and MTV Classic — will join Hulu’s entertainment add-on.

Hulu + Live TV offers more than 65 live TV channels, plus the core Hulu on-demand service (normally $5.99 per month as a standalone offering).

Gravitas Ventures to Distribute Doc ‘The Holy Game’ on VOD

Gravitas Ventures has acquired worldwide rights (excluding Canada) to distribute the documentary The Holy Game. The title will come out on cable and digital video-on-demand platforms June 29.

From director Brent Hodge (I Am Chris Farley, Freaks and Geeks: The Documentary), the film offers an exclusive look at an officially sanctioned Vatican soccer tournament for priests. Beyond the Vatican walls, there is a soccer championship like no other in which young priests in seminary from around the world gather to play in the Clericus Cup. The documentary feature explores religion, sport and tradition, and looks at why anyone in this era would sacrifice so much to become a priest.

“Brent’s documentary is a fascinating peek behind the curtain, grappling with controversy and harsh truths alongside inspiring observations and amusing anecdotes from the next generation of the priesthood, all set against the backdrop of this unique tournament,” Tony Piantedosi, VP of acquisitions at Gravitas Ventures, said in a statement.

Gravitas Ventures released Hodges’ previous documentary, Who Let the Dogs Out in 2019.

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“We are thrilled to be working with Gravitas again on the release of The Holy Game,” Hodge said in a statement. “I am always in search of projects that reveal unique windows into different worlds, and this doc is truly that. Not only do we have direct access to the priesthood, the Vatican, but we also get a glimpse into this one-of-a-kind soccer tournament and where religion fits in modern day culture. We are excited for people to see it.”

Report: Disney’s ‘Soul’ Top-Streamed Movie in the Past Seven Months

New data from Samba TV finds the Dec. 25, 2020 debut of Disney/Pixar’s Soul remains the most-streamed movie in the past seven months — topping Warner’s Wonder Woman 1984Godzilla vs. Kong, Mortal Kombat and Amazon Prime Video’s Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm, among others.

Fallout from the pandemic has seen Hollywood alter traditional movie distribution to include direct-to-streaming launches for new titles. Disney and WarnerMedia have led the move, followed by Hulu, Apple TV+ and Amazon Prime Video.

Warner is releasing its entire 2021 theatrical slate on HBO Max concurrently with box office rollout.

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Direct-to-streaming movies continued to roll out, with major blockbusters hitting living room screens the same day as, or even before, their theatrical debuts across all major platforms. While Soul and WW84 continued to lead the pack from the fourth quarter of 2020 over both their three-day premiere window and for 30 days after, March held some huge debuts as well, with HBO Max’s Zack Snyder’s The Justice League and Godzilla vs. Kong seeing sizable three-day viewership tallies.

Through the end of the first quarter, Soul had generated more than 5.8 million household views, followed by WW84 with 4.3 million. Mortal Kombat started strong with 3.6 million households since its April 23 launch. Detective drama The Little Things has slightly more than 3 million households.

Pay-TV Viewership Decline Continues

Separately, according to Samba TV’s analysis, there was a 10% quarter-over-quarter decline in the daily average number of TV-viewing U.S. households consuming linear-TV, along with a 14% decline in total minutes viewed. Every month since November has progressively seen lower daily average U.S. household tune-ins than the previous month.

On top of that, linear-TV advertising impressions were down year-over-year across the U.S., U.K., and Germany showing that demonstrates that the industry has not quite returned to pre-pandemic levels and likely will continue to shift to digital as viewers increase time-shifting and streaming behaviors.

Interest in premium linear content is down: The average number of households that watched Showtime, HBO and Starz each day in the first quarter of 2021 was lower than it was in the fourth quarter of 2020. Starz saw the steepest drop-off at -21%, followed by HBO (-17%) and Showtime (-6%).

Linear-TV losses were widespread: 81% of U.S. TV networks saw quarter-over-quarter declines based on average daily household. Live sports continued its viewership slide as well. Q1 2021 was full of major sporting events, including the Super Bowl, but overall sports viewership continued to decline year-over-year, which started with the stoppage of major sports leagues in March.

Charter Widens Spectrum Pay-TV Subscriber Losses

Charter Communication’s trend avoiding pay-TV subscriber contraction appears to be coming to an end. The Spectrum TV provider April 30 reported residential video customers decreased by 156,000 in the first quarter (ended March 31), compared with a decrease of 70,000 in the first quarter of 2020, and 152,000 in the first quarter of 2019. Charter ended Q1 with 15.5 million Spectrum residential video customers.

Charter, the No. 3 pay-TV operator in the country, in 2015 was one of the first operators to launch a broadband-only service — dubbed Spectrum TV Plus — that included a free Roku 3 player priced at $12.99 a month.

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“We continue to execute well in a market environment that has not yet returned to normal,” CEO Tom Rutledge said in a statement. “We added 355,000 Internet customers in the first quarter, and 2 million over the last year, for year-over-year growth of 7.3%.”

Charter ended the quarter with 29.2 million broadband subscribers.

Amazon Renews ‘Invincible’ For Two More Seasons

With the finale of the first season of animated superhero series “Invincible” slated for April 30 on Amazon Prime Video, Amazon Studios April 29 announced it has renewed the show for a second and third season.

From “The Walking Dead” creator Robert Kirkman, and based on the Image/Skybound comic of the same name by Kirkman, Cory Walker and Ryan Ottley, “Invincible” is an hour-long animated series intended for adults that revolves around 17-year-old Mark Grayson (voiced Steven Yeun), son of the most powerful superhero on the planet, Omni-Man (J.K. Simmons). But as Mark develops powers of his own, he discovers that his father’s legacy may not be as heroic as it seems.

The cast also includes Sandra Oh, Seth Rogen, Gillian Jacobs, Andrew Rannells, Zazie Beetz, Mark Hamill, Walton Goggins, Jason Mantzoukas, Zachary Quinto, Mahershala Ali, Melise, Kevin Michael Richardson, Grey Griffin and Khary Payton.

“I’m extremely thankful to Amazon for the support and dedication they’ve put behind ‘Invincible,’” Kirkman said in a statement. “The comic book is truly a love letter to a genre that Cory (Walker) and I grew up reading and loving, and it’s been a gratifying journey to watch our characters come to life again through the animated series. We’re beyond excited to continue this story for at least two more seasons.”

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“Invincible is a crowning example of how a fresh and edgy approach to the superhero genre can resonate with audiences around the globe and we’re so glad that Invincible, one of our earliest investments in the adult animation genre, has accomplished just that,” said Vernon Sanders, co-head of television at Amazon Studios. “Robert’s no-holds-barred storytelling coupled with a first-class voice cast delivered on fans’ wildest expectations and we’re thrilled to be giving them more ‘Invincible.’”

‘WW84’ Still Atop Disc Sales Charts After Fourth Week

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment’s Wonder Woman 1984 remained No. 1 for a fourth consecutive week 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 April 24.

Returning to the No. 2 spot on both charts for the first time since its first week of release was Universal Pictures’ News of the World. The Tom Hanks-starring Western debuted at No. 2 following its March 23 disc release (behind Disney’s Soul), then bounced around the top five in the month since.

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Soul, from Pixar Animation studio, maintained the No. 3 spot on both charts. The film just won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, but the Oscar ceremony occurred after the close of the sales week being tracked.

No. 4 on both charts was Screen Media’s Willy’s Wonderland, the horror-comedy hybrid starring Nicolas Cage as a stranded motorist who must survive a family fun center where the animatronics come to life.

The No. 5 overall disc seller was Warner’s DVD-only collection of the three “Friday” movies, moving up the charts thanks to a relative boost in catalog titles resulting from the lack of big new releases. The No. 5 Blu-ray Disc seller (and No. 7 overall) was Sony Pictures’ video game adaptation Monster Hunter.

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The Media Play News rental chart the week ended April 25 had WW84 slip to No. 2 after three weeks in the top spot. The week’s top rental was Lionsgate’s Vanquish, a crime drama available on Redbox a week before its wide April 27 disc release.

The No. 3 rental was News of the World, followed at No. 4 by Willy’s Wonderland and at No. 5 by Universal’s The Croods: A New Age.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 4-24-21
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 4-25-21
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 4-24-21
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 4-24-21
Sales Report for Week Ended 4-24-21
Digital Transactions Snapshot for Week Ended 4-26-21