‘Stranger Things’ Keeps No. 1 Spot on Parrot’s Digital Originals Chart for Fifth Week

Netflix’s perennially popular “Stranger Things” remained in the No. 1 spot on Parrot Analytics’ digital originals U.S. chart the week ended May 29. It’s the fifth week in a row the 1980s-set supernatural drama has claimed the top spot. It had 41.8 times the demand of an average series after a 4.2% drop in demand expressions, the proprietary metric Parrot uses to gauge a show’s popularity. It was No. 6 on Parrot’s list of all TV shows after a trailer for the fourth season was released.

The Disney+ live-action “Star Wars” series “The Mandalorian” remained No. 2 on the digital originals chart, garnering 36.6 times the demand of the average show after a 0.2% rise in demand expressions. It was No. 9 on the list of overall TV shows.

Another Disney+ “Star Wars” series, the animated “The Clone Wars,” had a 2.6% drop in demand expressions but remained No. 3 on the digital originals chart with 35 times average demand.

Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” stayed No. 4 on the digital originals chart, registering 34.1 times average demand after a 4.9% rise in demand expressions.

Netflix’s “Cobra Kai” climbed three spots to No. 5, registering 30.1 times average demand and a 12.4% rise in demand expressions thanks to a teaser for the upcoming fourth seasons that includes the return of a villain from the third “Karate Kid” movie.

Another Netflix series, “Lucifer,” rose five spots to No. 6 after the second half of the fifth season became available May 28.

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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 No. 1 overall TV series in terms of online demand was “Saturday Night Live,” with 65 times average demand.

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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.

Klaus Kinski Italian Horror Flick ‘Lover of the Monster’ Due on Disc From MVD

The Italian horror flick Lover of the Monster will debut on Blu-ray and DVD June 8 from MVD Entertainment Group and Full Moon Features.

Legendary German actor Klaus Kinski (Crawlspace, Nosferatu: Phantom Der Nacht) stars as Dr. Alex Nijinksy, a troubled scientist who retires to his long-suffering wife Anijeska’s family castle in search of a fresh start. Already under pressure, Nijinsky’s rage begins to boil when his lady starts spending time with her ex-boyfriend and, after he discovers a hidden laboratory in the castle belonging to his mad scientist father-in-law, he unleashes the living incarnation of his rage. Soon, Nijinksy is up to no good, sexually assaulting women and murdering them, all the while making his wife’s life a living hell. Filmed back-to-back with writer/director Sergio Garrone’s equally Gothic Italian/Turkish thriller The Hand That Feeds the Dead, Lover of the Monster features much of the same cast and crew, including Katia Christine (Riot in a Women’s Prison) as well as having Kinski play a same-named (though totally different) mad scientist named Nijinsky.

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Filled with nudity, violence and general bad behavior, this rarely seen psycho-shocker is presented for the first time in North America in its fully uncut form, remastered from the best available materials.

Netflix Announces First Original Russian Series Based on Leo Tolstoy’s Classic Novel ‘Anna Karenina’

Netflix is producing its first Russian original drama, with a working title “ANNA K,” which the streamer describes as a “lavish and contemporary retelling” of Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel Anna Karenina. The series stars Svetlana Khodchenkova (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) in the title role about love, infidelity and family.

Svetlana Khodchenkova

The series is set in modern-day Russia, where socialite Anna Karenina, the wife of the soon-to-be governor of St. Petersburg, enters a life-changing love affair with Vronsky, the dashing heir of an aluminum empire. Their affair quickly careens out of control, threatening the delicate balance of their familial bonds and social relationships.

Set between cosmopolitan Moscow, historic St. Petersburg and Russia’s rugged countryside, the drama explores  themes of passion, loyalty and the irrefutable truth that no amount of riches can save us from love’s ability to either free us or bring us to our doom.

The series is being produced by 1-2-3 Production, with a script adaptation by Roman Kantor and Maria Mikulina and co-directed Natasha Merkulova and Aleksey Chupov.

“We are incredibly proud to announce our first Russian series,” Michael Azzolino, director of original series for Netflix, said in a statement. “The talented team of writers, directors and producers have crafted an imaginative and immersive series. We are excited to help bring their vision for this much admired story to our members in Russia and the world.”

Filming is set for Moscow and St. Petersburg, with worldwide streaming launch undisclosed.

A ‘Quiet Place’ No More: Memorial Day Weekend Box Office Soars Past $100 Million

It’s business as usual for the summer blockbuster. Paramount Pictures’ A Quiet Place Part II outdid the original, opening at an estimated $48.3 million across 3,726 screens over the three-day Memorial Day weekend, according to the studio. Adding Thursday’s record sneak peak, and the tally tops $58.5 million, which would surpass the original’s $54.3 million in 2018.

The post-apocalyptic sequel from director John Krasinski, and starring his wife Emily Blunt, was the biggest opening domestic weekend since Warner Bros. Pictures’ Godzilla vs. Kong, which tracked $34.1 million over four days in March, and was available concurrently for free on HBO Max. A Quiet Place Part II is available exclusively in theaters for 45 days, before streaming concurrently on Paramount+.

In No. 2 is Disney’s Cruella, with an estimated $26.5 million across 3,892 screens over four days. The title is also available for $29.99 purchase on Premier Access to Disney+ subscribers. The movie, starring Emma Stone, tracked another $16.1 million internationally for global haul of $43 million.

When combined, the two movies helped the domestic box office surpass $100 million — the highest tally since the pandemic began, shuttering movie theaters for much of 2020 and into this year. The figure still pales in comparison to the 2019 Memorial Day gross of $232 million.

Meanwhile, Universal Pictures’ F9 topped the $229 million globally, despite a 85% drop in theatrical revenue in China. The long-running actioner opens in the United States June 24.


Crackle Announces Second Season of ‘Going From Broke’ From Ashton Kutcher, Among Other New Programming

Crackle Plus, a Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment company and one of the largest operators of streaming advertising-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) networks, May 28 announced the upcoming content releases planned for June, which include the second season of Ashton Kutcher-produced “Going From Broke.”

The Webby Award-winning unscripted series focused on empowering people to overcome their crippling financial struggles. People are graduating from college with mounds of student and other debt and a shrinking pool of employment opportunities at their disposal. What makes matters worse is they lack the basic financial literacy to get themselves out of trouble, according to the series. Series host Dan Rosensweig, CEO of Chegg, and financial expert Tonya Rapley work with young people to become the CEO of their own lives and finances.

Other originals include:

  • “Promiseland” follows NBA rookie Ja Morant as he navigates the perils of the 2019–20 season — not just a challenging year for live basketball, but for humanity. Apart from the suspension of his sport due to the pandemic, the young point guard must grapple with a world utterly transformed by calls for racial justice. Guest stars include Carmelo Anthony, A’ja Wilson and more. Part Two drops June 17.
  • “C.O.G” features Hamilton star Jonathan Groff as young college dropout determined to suppress his homosexuality, who heads to Oregon, takes a job picking apples and, ultimately, finds religion.
  • “One Last Thing” stars Wendell Pierce (Jack Ryan and The Wire) as Dylan Derringer, a lonely dentist in Florida who is encouraged by his dental assistant Jaime, played by Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey), to reunite with his long-lost daughter Lucy brought to life by Jurnee Smollett-Bell (Friday Night Lights, Underground and Birds of Prey) after years apart, sending him on an eventful and ultimately life-changing journey of discovery.


Guy Ritchie’s ‘Wrath of Man’ Due on Digital June 29, Disc July 13

The revenge heist film Wrath of Man is coming to digital June 29 and DVD and Blu-ray July 13 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Director Guy Ritchie (RocknRolla, Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, The Gentlemen) teams up with Jason Statham (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, the “Fast & Furious” franchise) for a story about a mysterious security guard out to settle a score. The film is Ritchie’s fourth directorial collaboration with Statham.

In the film, mysterious and wild-eyed, a new security guard for a cash truck surprises his co-workers when he unleashes precision skills during a heist. The crew is left wondering who he is and where he came from. Soon, the marksman’s ultimate motive becomes clear as he takes dramatic and irrevocable steps to settle a score.

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The actioner, based on the 2004 French film Cash Truck, also stars Scott Eastwood (The Fate of the Furious, Pacific Rim: Uprising), Andy Garcia (The Mule, Oceans Thirteen), Holt McCallany (Three Kings, Fight Club), Jeffrey Donovan (Hitch, Sicario, TV’s “Burn Notice”), Josh Hartnett (Pearl Harbor, Black Hawk Down), Laz Alonso (Avatar, “Fast & Furious”), Chris Reilly (TV’s “Game of Thrones”), Raul Castillo (television’s “Looking”), DeObia Oparei (television’s “Game of Thrones,” Moulin Rouge!) and Eddie Marsan (The Gentlemen, Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows).

Drama ‘When We Last Spoke’ Due on DVD June 1 From MVD

The drama When We Last Spoke will be issued on DVD June 1 from the MVD Entertainment Group.

The Dove-approved film follows sisters Juliet (Darby Camp) and Evangeline (Chandler Head), who in 1967 are abandoned by their mother at their unsuspecting grandparents’ farm in the small Southern town of Fireside.

Stunned by their sudden arrival, the grandparents — tender-hearted Walt (Corbin Bernsen) and champion fiddler Ruby (Melissa Gilbert) — graciously stand in for the missing parents and create a loving family.

The story is punctuated by the unexpected appearance of Walt’s ailing mother — eccentric, Emily Dickinson-quoting Itasca (the late Cloris Leachman).

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The film was an official selection at the 2019 Austin Film Festival.

Discovery+ June Programming Slate Includes True Crime Series, Weight-Loss Doc

Streamer Discovery+ has announced new and original programming that will be available in June.

The lineup includes “Pushing the Line,” focusing on an extreme, high-intensity sport known as “highlining”; the true crime series “Relentless,” which documents a filmmaker and her involvement in the case of a missing young woman; and “Too Large,” a docu-series that follows seven 400- to 800-pound people on a weight-loss journey.

Other new series include Bryan and Michael Voltaggio in “Battle of the Brothers” and Michelle Buteau in “Weekend Getaway with Michelle Buteau,” executive produced by Queen Latifah.

“Pushing the Line,” which premieres June 5, gives viewers a taste of what it is like to walk on a line, hundreds of feet above the ground, on a one-inch rope that’s thinner than your belt. The series follows the top highliners and the up-and-comers of the sport, both in action and behind the scenes.

“Relentless,” which debuts June 28, follows the case of 21-year-old Christina Whittaker, whose disappearance in the small town of Hannibal, Mo., triggered a frantic search. Eight months later, filmmaker Christina Fontana met Whittaker’s mother when filming a documentary about the families of missing persons — and her focus changed to explore the intricacies of that one case. Using more than 400 hours of footage from field investigations and video diaries filmed over 11 years, this documentary follows not only a complex search for a missing person, but the journey of a filmmaker who becomes dangerously ensnared by the story she’s documenting.

“Too Large,” launching June 2,  introduces viewers to seven desperate hopefuls, each weighing between 400 and 800 pounds, who seek the help of renowned bariatric surgeon Dr. Charles Procter as they attempt to lose weight and change their lives forever.

“Battle of the Brothers” (June 17) pits Bryan and Michael Voltaggio against one another as they each lead a team of aspiring chefs in a culinary competition.

And “Weekend Getaway With Michelle Buteau” (June 10) finds the comedian, actor and author hitting the road for a few weekends of fun, food and wild times, from the Gulf Coast of Mississippi with Tig Notaro to New Orleans with Sasheer Zamata to Malibu with Chelsea Peretti.

Other new shows include “Shock Docs: The Devil Made Me Do It” (June 11), which follows a bizarre murder case in which a Connecticut man insists “the devil made me do it”; “90 Day Journey: Pride Month” (June 6), a curated miniseries of “90 Day” couples’ love stories from the beginning to the present day; and “The House My Wedding Bought” (June 16), which follows designer and real estate expert Breegan Jane (from “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” as she helps couples on a budget who want to pay for a dream wedding as well as put a down payment on a house.

Samsung TV Plus Gets Hallmark Movies & More

Samsung TV Plus, the free ad-supported streaming television platform, has inked a carriage agreement with the Hallmark Movies & More. The channel featuring romance and relationship-themed content is available for free to connected Samsung television owners.

Hallmark Movies & More offers movies, series and specials from Hallmark’s expansive library. In June, the service will feature 14 movies, including For Better or For Worse; How to Train Your Husband; Meddling Mom; The Memory Book; and Kiss at Pine Lake, among others.

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The network also features its own annual holiday programming franchise, “Miracles of Christmas.”

The deal follows the promotion of Michael Grover to VP of brand marketing at Hallmark subsidiary Crown Media. Grover is charged with developing and executing consumer marketing initiatives, including paid advertising for the network’s linear channels and SVOD service, promotional partnerships, experiential activations, and synergy initiatives.

Prior to joining Crown Media, Grover served as a content marketing manager at Hulu, developing strategies for original and documentary programming. Previously, he held marketing roles at Discovery Communications and Turner Broadcasting.

Samsung TV Plus features more than 160 channels covering news, sports and entertainment. It’s available on 2016-21 Samsung Smart TVs and select mobile devices.


Lionsgate: Home Entertainment Represented 55% of Fiscal-Year Motion Picture Revenue

While the pandemic wreaked havoc on the theatrical business, home entertainment remained strong for Lionsgate in fiscal year 2021, ended March 31. Home entertainment revenue, which is derived from the sale or rental of feature films and television production movies or series on packaged media and through digital media platforms, represented 55.6%, or $601 million of motion picture revenue in the fiscal year.

That was down about 15% from $704.8 million in home entertainment revenue in fiscal year 2020. The primary decline was in packaged media, which saw total revenue fall almost 46% to $139.5 million from $256.9 million in FY 2020. Lionsgate, which shipped 29 million combined DVD/Blu-ray Disc units in the year, attributed the revenue drop to fewer home entertainment releases from the 2021 theatrical slate due to the global pandemic and other issues.

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The decrease in packaged-media revenue was partially offset by increased digital media revenue of $13.6 million, which included titles The Secret: Dare to Dream and Force of Nature. Digital media revenue included the PVOD release of Antebellum, the initial release on a streaming platform of Run and from I Still Believe and Knives Out in 2020. Digital media revenue in fiscal 2020 included significant revenue from John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum.

Top-selling digital releases in the year included Antebellum, The Secret: Dare to Dream, The Silencing and Mortal reaching number one on the iTunes movie charts and two titles, Force of Nature and The Secret, debuting at number one on the Comscore On-Demand Chart.

Home entertainment revenue from TV product in fiscal 2021 increased $72 million, or 118.4%, compared with fiscal 2020, driven by digital media revenue for the second syndication license of “Mad Men” and digital media revenue for Power: Season 6, partially offset by digital media revenue in fiscal 2020 for Power: Season 5.

Interestingly, packaged-media sales of television shows increased 67.6% to $5.7 million, from $3.4 million in 2020.