‘Professor T,’ ‘Masterpiece Mystery!: Unforgotten’ Among Titles Coming to PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel in July

Episodes of “Professor T,” “Masterpiece Mystery!: Unforotten” and several “Walter Presents” shows are coming to the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel in July.

The subscription rate for the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel is $5.99 per month with an Amazon Prime or Prime Video subscription.

“Professor T,” based on the hit Belgian series of the same name, stars Ben Miller (“Bridgerton,” “Game of Thrones”) as Jasper Tempest, a professor at Cambridge teaching the science of crime. He lives a precisely calibrated and rigidly structured life, that is, until a former student, and current detective for the local police, convinces him to help her solve their most difficult cases. Six episodes of the series start streaming July 11.

The fourth season of the BAFTA award-winning series “Masterpiece Mystery!: Unforgotten” also starts streaming July 11.  DCI Cassie Stuart and DI Sunny Khan return as they investigate a cold case with alarming links to the police force.

New “Walter Presents” International series streaming on the channel in July are “The Same Sky,” “The Last Wave,” “The Half Brother,” “Love, Inevitably” and “Under Suspicion.”

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Due July 2 are six episodes of the German series “The Same Sky.” It’s East Germany in the spring of 1974, and Lars Weber, an East German Intelligence agent, is being relocated to West Berlin, tasked with seducing and spying on women who work in government or defense institutions for other countries. Lars is a young talent only just emerging from his espionage training program when he is assigned the case of Lauren Faber (Sophia Helin, “Masterpiece: Atlantic Crossing”), a data analyst for the British Secret Service at the Devil’s Mountain listening station. Under the strict, skeptical and somewhat twisted guidance of his handler Ralf Müller, Lars quickly proves his talent, making his first steps into Lauren’s wary and formerly closed-off psyche. When Lauren ends up in intensive care, Lars is given a new target: Sabine Cutter, Lauren’s U.S. counterpart at the listening station, who proves a much tougher target. Will he be able to fulfil his mission or will his growing feelings for Sabine lead to an evening that will forever change their lives?

Debuting July 16 are six episodes of the French series “The Last Wave.” One day in Brizan, a quiet seaside resort in the region of Landes in southwestern France, everything changes with the arrival of a wave. When a surge of clouds and a supersized wave collide during a surfing competition it engulfs the participants, causing them to disappear. Five hours later, the surfers reappear unharmed, but with no recollection of what happened to them. One by one, the returning surfers discover they each possess inexplicable powers.

The Norwegian series “The Half Brother” offers up eight episodes starting July 23. Based on the novel by Norwegian writer Lars Saabye, the series follows the life of a family spanning five generations in 20th century Europe focusing on the half-brothers Barnum and Fred. On V Day, May 1945, as the continent emerges from war, Barnum’s mother Vera is raped in her attic in Oslo by an unknown man, leading to the birth of Barnum’s half-brother Fred. When Barnum is born five years later, to the man that Vera has since met and married, the Nilsen family, like Europe, is already splitting in two. Growing up together during the Cold War — Barnum with his father, and Fred searching for his — the half-brothers become estranged and Fred eventually disappears. At the film festival in Berlin in 1990, as the Wall is still coming down, Barnum learns that Fred has returned. Finally, as the true identity of Fred’s father comes to light, the two half-brothers may once again be reunited.

The Spanish and Italian series “Love, Inevitably” debuts 10 episodes July 25. It is the story of Candela and Massimo, a dancer from Seville and an entrepreneur from Rome, two complete opposites. It all starts in Prague, where Candela and Massimo meet by chance. It is hate at first sight, and yet they can’t stay away from each other. Once back in their home countries, they appear in each other’s thoughts and visions. From that moment on they will have to put up with paranormal phenomena that happen at the most inopportune moments, demanding their attention and manipulating their choices. In an effort to set these spirits and their souls at ease, they will attempt to make their love a palpable reality.

‘Raya’ Tops Disc Sales Charts for Fourth Week; ‘Indiana Jones’ Grabs No. 2 Blu-ray Spot

Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon 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 June 12.

It’s the fourth week in the top spot for the animated fantasy, though a couple of new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog titles scrambled the top 10 a bit.

The No. 3 overall disc seller was Paramount’s June 8 re-release of its collection of the four “Indiana Jones” movies, headlined by a new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray edition, which accounted for 91.6% of the boxed set’s total sales (8.1% were of the regular Blu-ray edition). Since nearly all the set’s sales were of Blu-ray formats, it was No. 2 on the Blu-ray Disc sales chart, where it sold 96.9% as many copies as top-selling Raya.

The No. 3 Blu-ray seller, and No. 6 overall, was Sony Pictures’ 2005 anime film Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, newly released in a new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray version that accounted for 98.7% of the title’s sales for the week.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment’s live-action/animation hybrid Tom & Jerry remained the No. 2 overall disc seller for the fourth week in a row, though it slipped to No. 4 in Blu-ray Disc sales after three weeks as the runner-up on that chart.

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Rounding out the overall top five were Paramount’s A Quiet Place at No. 4, and Lionsgate’s original John Wick at No. 5.

The Blu-ray chart No. 5 was Lionsgate’s Chaos Walking, which was No. 7 on the overall disc chart — down from the third ranking on both charts a week earlier.

The only other newcomer in the overall top 20 was Lionsgate’s City of Lies at No. 17, though it fared better on the Blu-ray chart at No. 8, with 58% of its total unit sales coming in the high-def format. Produced by Saban Films and based on the book LAbyrinth by Randall Sullivan, the film follows the investigation into the infamous murder of iconic rap artist Notorious B.I.G. Johnny Depp stars as a determined LAPD detective who teams up with a journalist (Forest Whitaker) in search of the truth.

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On the Media Play News rental chart for the week ended June 13, City of Lies debuted at No. 1, pushing Tom & Jerry to No. 2. The Marksman remained No. 3.

The Redbox-exclusive thriller Rogue Hostage entered the rental chart at No. 4, while Raya and the Last Dragon slipped to No. 5.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 6-12-21
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 6-13-21
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 6-12-21
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 6-12-21

Redbox Expands Free Live TV with Popcornflix Channel

Redbox has expanded its relationship with Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment to add the Popcornflix Channel to its ad-supported streaming platform Redbox Free Live TV. Launching later this month, the channel will feature programming including Robert the Bruce, The Clearing, King Solomon’s Mines (2004), Jason and the Argonauts (2000), and The Poseidon Adventure (2005) among many other titles.

With nearly 100 channels live, including three Redbox branded channels designed and programmed for movie lovers, Free Live TV features a lineup of free movies and television, news, lifestyle, and sports entertainment programming. Free Live TV is available on Redbox.com, Roku, iOS and Android devices; Apple TV, Android TV, Vizio Smart TVs, LG TVs, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X and Chromecast.

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“After the recent launch of our Crackle channel on Redbox, the Crackle Plus team is thrilled to expand our relationship by giving the Popcornflix audience yet another convenient location to watch our content for free,” Philippe Guelton, president of Crackle Plus, said in a statement.

Redbox, which returning to Wall Street as a “special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC,” has been a leader in home entertainment for nearly two decades delivering 40 million consumers both packaged media rentals, PVOD, transactional VOD and ad-supported streaming.

“As audiences continue to turn to Redbox for the widest selection of movies and entertainment, we’re thrilled to expand our relationship with Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, adding Popcornflix’s great selection of films to Free Live TV,” said Jason Kwong, chief strategy and digital Officer, Redbox.

Actioner ‘The Misfits’ Coming to DVD Aug. 10 From Paramount

The action film The Misfits will come out on DVD Aug. 10 from Paramount Home Entertainment.

The film is available now in theaters, on digital and on demand.

Directed by Renny Harlin, The Misfits stars Pierce Brosnan, Rami Jaber, Hermione Corfield, Jamie Chung, Mike Angelo, Tim Roth and Nick Cannon.

The story follows a band of modern-day Robin Hoods known as “The Misfits,” who recruit renowned thief Richard Pace (Brosnan) to help them pull off the heist of the century to steal millions in gold bars stashed underneath one of the world’s most secure prisons.

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Nielsen: Zack Snyder’s ‘Army of the Dead’ Zombie Movie Dominated Weekly Household Streaming Through May 23

Consumers love zombies on TV shows and in the movies. Throw in cult favorite director Zack Snyder, and Netflix had a sure bet with last month’s debut of original movie Army of the Dead.

Nielsen said the ensemble cast-driven movie, spearheaded by former pro wrestler Dave Bautista, generated 913 million minutes of streaming on domestic household TVs for the week of May 17-23.

Army of the Dead beat out Netflix’s previous movie chart topper, Woman in the Window (456 million minutes), starring Amy Adams, in addition to licensed episodes of “NCIS” (690 million minutes across 353 episodes) and Hulu’s season four of original series “The Handmaid’s Tale,” with 516 million minutes across 42 episodes.

“Tale” just edged out “Who Killed Sara?,” with 500 million minutes across 18 episodes.

Source: Nielsen SVOD Content Ratings (Amazon Prime, Disney+, Hulu, and Netflix), Nielsen National TV Panel, U.S. Viewing through Television.

 

Streamed Movies:

Rank

SVOD Provider

Program Name

# of Episodes

Minutes (Millions)

1 Netflix Army of the Dead (2021) 1 913
2 Netflix The Woman in the Window 1 456
3 Netflix The Mitchells vs. The Machines 1 401
4 Disney+ Moana 1 177
5 Netflix Sabotage (2014) 1 174
6 Netflix I Am All Girls (2021) 1 144
7 Amazon Without Remorse 1 120
8 Disney+ Frozen II 1 117
9 Disney+ Raya and the Last Dragon 1 115
10 Disney+ Frozen 1 114

Licensed Content:

Rank

SVOD Provider

Program Name

# of Episodes

Minutes (Millions)

1 Netflix “NCIS” 353 690
2 Netflix “Start Up” 31 657
3 Netflix “Criminal Minds” 310 644
4 Netflix “Grey’s Anatomy” 374 575
5 Netflix “Cocomelon” 9 517
6 Netflix “Heartland” 176 378
7 Netflix “Schitt’s Creek” 80 315
8 Netflix “Supernatural” 328 298
9 Netflix “New Girl” 146 258
10 Netflix “Gilmore Girls” 153 221

 

Q&A With Galen Smith: The Story Behind Redbox Going Public the SPAC Route

Redbox in May announced its intent to go public through the formation of a “special purpose acquisition company,” a relatively new phenomenon that allows a private company to go public without going through the traditional initial public offering approach. The transaction will result in Redbox becoming a publicly traded company with an enterprise value of $693 million. Upon closing, Redbox’s common stock is expected to trade on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol RDBX.

Media Play News reached out to Redbox CEO Galen Smith for a Q&A, part of an ongoing series of conversations with home industry leaders past, present — and future.

MPN: First of all, Galen, why go public in the first place? Redbox has been owned by Apollo Global Management for five years — why leave now? 

Smith: We’re at an important inflection point in our digital transformation — over the past several years, Redbox has transformed from a single-product physical offering into a multi-window, multi-product experience for entertainment lovers, combining physical and digital channels to provide customers more choice. Redbox has always aimed to serve the value-conscious customer well and by raising additional capital through this transaction, we’ll be even better positioned to do that by enhancing our offerings and customer experience. We plan to invest in additional ad-supported content, deploy an SVOD and premium channels platform, and expand original movies through Redbox Entertainment titles.

Apollo has been a great partner and this transaction doesn’t change that — along with other current equity holders, they are rolling 100% of their interests into the new company, so we’ll continue to have their support. With the shift to digital intensifying, we see exciting opportunities ahead for Redbox and believe the best way to accelerate the growth of our digital business is to attract additional investors. We’re pleased we found a great partner in Seaport Global Acquisition Corp (NASDAQ: SGAM), who shares our confidence in the path forward and wants to make that a reality.

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MPN: Why are you going the SPAC rather than IPO route? Is it because Wall Street is all about growth, and investors might not see the opportunity in Redbox that you do? What are the advantages? 

Smith: We chose to go the route of merging with a SPAC as we thought it was a more efficient way to raise capital and become a public company. Redbox is one of the most recognized entertainment brands in the U.S., and we view this transaction, which will help us accelerate growth, as a natural next step in our evolution.

We’re eager to expand our investment in Redbox Entertainment to acquire and distribute original films, and this transaction will help us do that. We’ve already released 16 original movies and plan to expand that to 36 titles annually in theaters and widely on demand including through Redbox. We also expect significant growth in our digital business as we invest the capital we raise in licensed content, marketing and product expansion and offerings.

MPN: As a public company, won’t user data be made public every 90 days? What does this mean for Redbox? 

Smith: As a public company, we will report on our business performance every quarter as we did when we were previously part of Outerwall. We look forward to demonstrating our progress in executing our digital transformation.

MPN: As a standalone company, will you have more flexibility than you did under Apollo?

Smith: Apollo has been a great partner, and in this next chapter as a public company, we intend to accelerate and build on the transformational work we began as a private company. As part of Apollo, we launched and grew TVOD and AVOD platforms through significant investments in technology. Additionally, we launched an upgraded mobile app and website, and introduced our new loyalty program, Redbox Perks, which now has 39 million members. We also launched Redbox Entertainment to produce, acquire and distribute original content for our customers.

MPN: Will there be more synergies as a public company? 

Smith: One of the most exciting parts of becoming a public company is gaining access to new capital and resources, which will provide additional flexibility to make strategic acquisitions that could further accelerate our opportunities to serve customers and our transformation.

MPN: Redbox remains the cheapest way to rent a new-release movie. How do you go about relaying that message to consumers fixated on streaming?

Smith: Our vision is to provide quality home entertainment to everyone, and to make it ridiculously cheap and easy for consumers to get the entertainment they want most. While we’ve seen and led a lot of changes in the entertainment landscape over the past two decades as the industry has evolved, our commitment to three core tenets — value, convenience, and simplicity — have remained constant at every step. These tenets will continue to guide us as we expand into digital, and we’re fortunate to have a loyal customer base that trusts Redbox to provide a differentiated, affordable entertainment experience.

Importantly, Redbox is an “and” business — our customers are renting DVDs and streaming movies digitally. As we’ve bolstered our On Demand platform we’ve seen sustained interest from customers who continue to rent DVDs at our kiosks, which provide the best value for new-release movies. And, we’re proud that our expansion into digital has allowed us to better serve customers through more choice.

Horror-Comedy ‘Rock Paper Scissors’ comes to DVD and Digital HD on July 20

Indican Pictures has announced a July 20 home release date for Rock Paper Scissors, which will be issued on DVD and Digital HD. The film will be available in retail stores as well as digital platforms such as  Apple TV, Google Play, Prime Video, FandangoNOW.

Rock Paper Scissors follows best friends Kelvin and Cheddar, as they try to go from losers to cool kids by engaging in the International Tournament of Rock Paper Scissors.

Directed by Jayme Laforest (I’ll Take Your Dead) and Richard Yearwood (Gods of Accident), Rock Paper Scissors also stars Jenna Aitken (Still Here), Joey De Marco (“Cooked”), Jeremy Dozier (“Poor Us”), Kristopher Maz (“The K Pops”) and Lisa Stiles (Crave). The horror-comedy is produced by Jaime Scott Webber (Wastelander) and Paige Hemmis.

Indican Pictures is a boutique entertainment label and film distributor. The company was founded in 2004 and has released over 300 films worldwide.

TCL Roku TV Models Coming to U.K.

TCL Electronics and Roku are launching TCL Roku TV models in the United Kingdom.

TCL Roku TV models will be available in both HD and 4K UHD resolution, in sizes ranging from 32 inches to 65 inches.

The TVs will be available online at Currys.co.uk. Those who register interest now will get a discount voucher code.

Both the 4K UHD (RP620K) and HD (RS520K) models support HDR Pro which uses Dynamic Color Enhancement through 3D LUT technology to deliver vivid colors for all signal types, including HDR10, HLG and SDR. Both series also feature Freeview Play and an integrated Freeview tuner.

For movie and streaming content, the RP620K series supports Dolby Vision.

“I am thrilled to be launching TCL Roku TVs in the U.K.,” said Bernie Chen, TCL’s U.K. country manager, in a statement. “The combination of our affordable premium TVs with Roku’s operating system, offers consumers excellent picture quality and ease of use, alongside a huge variety of features and streaming channels. I am confident that this partnership will help us maintain our strong UK sales growth and increase our market share.”

TCL Roku TV models come with Roku’s operating system built-in, offering consumers automatic updates, a customizable home screen, thousands of free and paid streaming channels and advanced features such as search across top channels with results ranked by price, and private listening through the free Roku mobile app. Viewers can control TCL Roku TV models by using voice with Alexa or Google Assistant enabled devices. With Apple AirPlay 2, they can stream, control and share content directly from iPhone, iPad or Mac. TCL Roku TV models also support HomeKit, which allows users to control Roku devices using Siri or the Home app on their Apple devices.

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“TCL was one of the first TV brands to embrace the Roku OS and together we have created numerous award-winning TVs with great picture quality and ease of use,” said Arthur van Rest, VP, international, at Roku, in a statement. “TCL Roku TV models are powered by the Roku OS offering consumers simplicity, choice and incredible value. The Roku OS offers consumers an always current smart TV experience, it is not without reason that the Roku OS is the #1 selling smart TV OS in the US and Canada.”

Popular U.K. streaming services available on TCL Roku TVs include Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, AppleTV+, NOW, BT Sport, BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4 and My 5. TCL Roku TVs also carry The Roku Channel, offering more than 25,000 free movies and TV episodes to British consumers. This includes the recently launched Roku Originals.

Disney+ to Stream Peter Jackson’s ‘The Beatles: Get Back’ Doc Over Three-day Thanksgiving Weekend

The Walt Disney Studios June 17 announced that Disney+ will bring “The Beatles: Get Back,” a Disney+ Original documentary series directed by Lord of the Rings helmer and three-time Oscar winner Peter Jackson, exclusively to the platform over the Thanksgiving weekend.

The Jackson doc, which the director has spent the past three years restoring and editing, will be presented as three separate episodes over three days, Nov. 25, 26 and 27. It was made made with the support of surviving band members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, in addition to John Lennon and George Harrison’s widows Yoko Ono Lennon and Olivia Harrison.

“The Beatles: Get Back” takes audiences back in time to the band’s early recording sessions during a pivotal moment in music history. The documentary showcases the camaraderie and creative genius that defined the legacy of the iconic foursome, compiled from over 60 hours of unseen footage shot in January 1969 (by Michael Lindsay-Hogg) and more than 150 hours of unheard audio, all of which has been restored.

Jackson is the only person in 50 years to have been given access to these private film archives. “The Beatles: Get Back” is the story of Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr as they plan their first live show in over two years, capturing the writing and rehearsing of 14 new songs, originally intended for release on an accompanying live album. The documentary features – for the first time in its entirety – The Beatles’ last live performance as a group, the rooftop concert on London’s Savile Row, as well as other songs and classic compositions featured on the band’s final two albums, Abbey Road and Let It Be.

Bob Iger, executive chairman of The Walt Disney Company, and longtime Beatles fan, helped secure the distribution deal.

“This phenomenal collection of never-before-seen footage offers an unprecedented look at the close camaraderie, genius songwriting, and indelible impact of one of the most iconic and culturally influential bands of all time,” Iger said in a statement.

“In many respects, Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s remarkable footage captured multiple storylines,” Jackson said. “The story of friends and of individuals. It is the story of human frailties and of a divine partnership. It is a detailed account of the creative process, with the crafting of iconic songs under pressure, set amid the social climate of early 1969.”

The director cautioned that the doc is “not nostalgia,” but rather a six-hour “raw, honest, and human” expose on the The Beatles.

“You’ll get to know [them] with an intimacy that you never thought possible,” Jackson said.

Ahead of the documentary’s Disney+ debut, Apple Corps Ltd./Callaway Arts & Entertainment will release The Beatles: Get Back book on Oct. 12. The 240-page hardcover complements the “Get Back” documentary with transcriptions of The Beatles’ recorded conversations and hundreds of exclusive, never before published photos from the three weeks of sessions. The collectible book will be published in nine international language editions, including English.

CFO: Verizon to Up Free Entertainment Offers on 5G, Sticking with Fios TV

Verizon has made news in recent years offering its wireless subscribers free 12-month access to Apple Music, Disney+, Discovery+ and most recently: Apple Arcade and Google Play Games. As the telecom expands its 5G Network nationwide, expect to see enhanced third-party entertainment options, according to CFO Matt Ellis.

Verizon CFO Matt Ellis

Speaking this week on the virtual Credit Suisse Communications Conference, Ellis didn’t have any new entertainment partners to announce, except to say that with the enhanced distribution options available with 5G, the entertainment options in the future would reflect the next generation mobile phone and data communication standards.

“We got into video initially with Disney+ and it’s been a good 1 1/2 years now, right?,” Ellis said. “So we’ve had that out there and then, obviously, Discovery+ earlier this year. And so gaming was the obvious next piece to come there. And obviously, we’ve had that in the past couple of weeks with the Apple Arcade and Google Play. Too soon to already kind of see anything huge in the numbers, but certainly, the initial feedback is very much in line with expectations.”

Ellis said Verizon is analyzing what entertainment options, including live events, it could offer subscribers in a 5G world that wouldn’t be as possible in a 4G world.

“It is in line with how we’re thinking about it,” he said. “I’m not going to give anything away at this point, but certainly fair to say we expect there to be more to come.”

Separately, when asked whether Verizon might meld Fios TV into an online service in order to reduce content/distribution costs, Ellis said the telecom would be sticking with the pay-TV brand, which includes a broadband-only option.

“What we do in that space is we give customers choice,” Ellis said. “If a customer wants broadband only, we absolutely will do that for them. We love that proposition. We saw our customers who want the traditional TV package. We have that as well. It may not be as valuable to us as when we launched Fios over 15 years ago, but it’s also not a negative to the business either.”