Netflix in Deal With Emmy Winner Dan Levy

Netflix has entered into a partnership with four time Emmy Award-winning writer-director-producer-actor Dan Levy (“Schitt’s Creek”) to write and produce scripted content and other creative projects.

Levy will create an original untitled romantic comedy feature for Netflix, which he will write, direct, produce and star in. Sister’s Stacey Snider and Kate Fenske will also produce alongside Levy.

“Netflix offered ‘Schitt’s Creek’ a second home at just the right time and opened the doors to a whole new audience for us,” Levy said in a statement. “Watching the show thrive there has only enhanced my excitement about continuing to tell specific, meaningful stories with them in both tv and feature film. A full circle moment.”

“Dan Levy is an incredible all-around creative talent, who thoughtfully approaches every story with a meaningful perspective,” said Scott Stuber, head of global film, and Bela Bajaria, head of global series, in a statement. “His work on ‘Schitt’s Creek’ charmed audiences around the world and we’re thrilled to partner and create new films and shows with Dan.”

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“Schitt’s Creek,” which has found a worldwide audience on Netflix, broke multiple records at the 2020 Emmys, including becoming the most awarded comedy series in a single year, the first ever comedy series to win an award in all four major acting categories in the same year, and the most wins for a comedy series in its final season. Levy personally tied the record for most wins by an individual in a single season, and became the only individual to win four major categories (acting, directing, writing, producing) in a single year.

Netflix Hit ‘The Crown’ Coming to DVD, Blu-ray Disc Nov. 2

Season 4 of the hit Netflix series “The Crown” will be released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc Nov. 2 by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The  historical drama series about the reign of Queen Elizabeth II was produced by Left Bank Pictures and Sony Pictures Television for Netflix. Season 4 began airing on Netflix in November 2020.

The series was nominated for 24 2021 Emmy Awards and picked up four 2021 Golden Globe wins, including Best Drama Series.

Season 4 is set in the late 1970s, as the Queen and her family find themselves preoccupied with safeguarding the line of succession by securing an appropriate bride for Prince Charles, who is still unmarried at 30. As the nation begins to feel the impact of divisive policies introduced by Britain’s first female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, tensions arise between her and the Queen which only grow worse as Thatcher leads the country into the Falklands War. While Charles’ romance with a young Lady Diana Spencer provides a much-needed fairy tale to unite the British people, behind closed doors, the Royal Family is becoming increasingly divided.

The DVD and Blu-ray  Disc season 4 set includes several extras, including three mini-docs: “Triumph & Tragedy: Diana and Charles”;  “Three Groundbreaking Women”; and “Research, Costumes & More: The Making of Season 4.” Also included is a photo gallery.

Redbox Acquires U.S. Distribution Rights to Bruce Willis Actioner ‘Vendetta’

Redbox Entertainment Sept. 17 announced it has acquired U.S. distribution rights to the action-thriller Vendetta. Written and directed by Jared Cohn (The Horde), Vendetta stars Bruce Willis, Clive Standen (Taken), Thomas Jane (The Last Son), Theo Rossi (Army of the Dead), and Mike Tyson (The Hangover). The film will premiere in 2022 and is expected to have a limited theatrical run and be available day-and-date on digital platforms.

When his daughter is murdered, William Duncan (Standen) takes the law into his own hands, setting out on a quest for retribution. After killing the street thug responsible for her death, he finds himself in the middle of a war with the thug’s brother (Rossi), father (Willis), and their gang, who are equally hell-bent on getting even. What ensues is a tense back-and-forth game of vengeance. By the end, William comes to find that the quest for revenge never has a winner.

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“We’re always on the lookout for films that have engrossing storylines and casts that will bring those stories to life,” Redbox CEO Galen Smith said in a statement. “Vendetta has all those elements and it will have audiences on the edge of their seats when it premieres next year.”

Vendetta is produced by Amar Balaggan (William, Past Never Dies), Benjamin Rappaport (Drone, The Last Word) and Ross Mrazek (The Swearing Jar, The Butterfly Effect 3) of B.A.R. None Productions and Corey Large (Cosmic Sin, It Follows, The November Man, Lone Survivor) of 308 Enterprises in association with Vector Film Services, Media Capital Group, and T.N.G. Capital Corp.

The deal was negotiated by Marc Danon of Redbox Entertainment and Brian O’Shea of The Exchange.

Disney+ Eyeing Critical Validation at 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards

NEWS ANALYSIS — Heading into the Sept. 19 Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, Netflix and HBO again headline the competition with 130 and 129 network nominations, respectively. Not too far the behind the slugfest sits Disney+ with 71 nominations, a significant tally for a streaming service less than two years old. Disney+ generated Emmy 19 nominations in its first year.

While streamers, including Apple TV+, for the first time spearhead the favorites among major Emmy categories in drama, comedy and limited series, Disney+ has a legitimate chance of winning drama and limited series with “The Mandalorian” and “WandaVision,” respectively.

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A potential feat Netflix has failed to do despite generating 65 major nominations over the years entering the 2021 Emmys. The streamer did win Outstanding Lead Actress in 2018 for Claire Foy in “The Crown”.

This year “The Mandalorian” generated 24 nominations, rivaling “The Crown,” with “WandaVision” just behind with 23 nominations. Notably, Apple TV+ series “Ted Lasso” set a record with 20 noms for a freshman show.

When factoring in all of Disney’s over-the-top video brands (ESPN+ and Hulu), the media giant tallied a leading 146 nominations, with Hulu’s “PEN15” and “The Handmaid’s Tale” among the competition in the major categories.

More importantly, Disney+ (with 103 million subs) is projected to pass Netflix (209 million) with 300 million global subs by 2024, according to Ampere Analytics data published by The Guardian. A tally driven in large part by Disney’s acquisition of Indian streaming platform Hotstar through its $71.3 billion 20th Century Fox assets purchase.

HBO Max Cuts Sub Price in Half to Offset Amazon Prime Channels Exit

HBO Max has quietly cut its $14.99 monthly subscription fee in half to try to offset the service’s departure from Amazon Prime Channels — the latter platform affording Prime members access to third-party streaming services.

The limited-time $7.49 Max subscription fee is for all HBO subs — new and old — and available through Sept. 26, according to WarnerMedia. The temporary price cut makes Max less expensive than Prime Video and Netflix priced at $8.99 each.

Max’s exit — spearheaded in part by WarnerMedia’s desire to secure subscribers directly and not pay Amazon a fee — is projected to cost the the property as many as 5 million subscribers.

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Max, which recently launched in Latin America, is slated to bow service in Eastern Europe in October. WarnerMedia recently lifted its sub projections for HBO and HBO Max to a combined 73 million from previous estimates from 67 million to 70 million.

‘Shang-Chi’ Looking for Third Weekend Box Office ‘Ring’

Disney/Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has dominated the weekly box office slugfest its first two theatrical weekends, rejuvenating exhibitor confidence and quieting Wall Street naysayers despite a still-surging Delta variant.

That trend is likely to continue through Sept. 19 as Shang-Chi again is projected to best the competition at least until the Oct. 1 debut of Sony Pictures’  Venom: Let There Be Carnage. Unlike other Marvel releases that have seen ticket sales fall significantly after their opening box office weekend, Shang-Chi continues to resonate with moviegoers.

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In addition to setting an all-time Labor Day box office record with $75.4 million over three days ($94.6 million over four days), Shang-Chi holds the best second-weekend revenue tally ($34.5 million) of any movie released during the pandemic. Topping Paramount Pictures sequel A Quiet Place Part II’s third-weekend tally of $12 million is well within its grasp.

Shang-Chi’s primary original contenders include Warner Bros. Pictures’ Cry Macho, starring and directed by 91-year-old Clint Eastwood; and Open Road Film’s Gerald Butler actioner Copshop. Eastwood scored at hit ($17.5 million) in his last movie playing a senior citizen drug courier in The Mule. But social media buzz surrounding Macho is suggesting an opening box office tally more in line with 2019 release Richard Jewell ($4.7 million).

More importantly, Macho is streaming concurrently for free on HBO Max, a hybrid release strategy many observers feel torpedoed Warner’s last box office release: Malignant, and has is projected to generate less than $10 million domestic gross after two weekends.

Among returning movies, 20th Century Studios’ action comedy Free Guy and Universal Pictures sequel Candyman look to sustain strong box office runs with $4.3 million and $3.3 million in projected domestic ticket sales.

Parks: Video Streamers Love Broader Content Offerings

The proliferation of over-the-top video services caters to niche audiences, correct? Not so much.

New survey data from Parks Associates finds that U.S. broadband households, who despite favoring at least one particular type of content genre, spend 70% of their streaming time on average on services with a broad variety of content, such as Netflix, Tubi, or AMC+. Specifically, 44% of 5,000 respondents spend 76% or more of their streaming time on broad-based services, while 48% spend 25% or less on niche services.

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“Services offering a variety of content categories are the foundation of consumers’ video service ensembles,” senior analyst Paul Erickson said in a statement.

Erickson contends that despite niche services such as Shudder, Britbox, and Crunchyroll dedicated to horror, British, and anime content, general entertainment platforms rule the conversation.

“[Niche services] are unlikely to be the primary, foundational content source within a household,” he said.

Ad-based services in particular have broadened their market appeal over the past few years by incorporating different genre categories. Crackle has made significant additions to its nonfiction content, Pluto TV has added several sports channels, and Tubi TV highlights children’s programming with its “Tubi Kids” section, according to Parks.

“If services are to challenge Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu, they need to feature a variety of programming across genres,” Erickson said. “We will see more bundling services emerge like AMC, which bundled together its niche services Shudder, Sundance Now, and IFC Films under the AMC+ service umbrella in order to give viewers more options.”

The research also finds that while “content is king,” cost is still the leading factor when consumers choose an OTT service. Fifty percent of respondents cite service cost as a key determination in the services that they use to access online video content. In response, key services have experimented with diversified pricing options. Disney+ has introduced transactional purchases, while Peacock is incorporating an AVOD option, and HBO Max and Paramount+ offer less expensive ad-supported tiers.

“A hybrid pricing approach meets consumers where they are,” Erickson said. “Maximizing revenue potential with hybrid pricing will help services finance the growing cost of content library growth.”

Horror and Thriller Disc Titles ‘A Day of Judgment,’ ‘Midnight’ and ‘The Fourth Victim’ Due from Severin and MVD in September

Horror and thriller titles A Day of Judgment, Midnight, The Fourth Victim and a collection of writer-director-actor Andy Milligan titles are on the September disc slate from Severin Films and MVD Entertainment Group.

A Day of Judgment (1981), due on DVD and Blu-ray Sept. 28, comes from Earl Owensby Studios, the South’s biggest producer/distributor of ’70s/’80s regional horror and exploitation hits. In this obscure and bizarre slasher movie in a 1930s small town rife with lust, corruption and sin, a mysterious figure wielding a scythe arrives to cut an unholy swath of murder, madness and moralizing that may lead straight to Hell. William T. Hicks (Death Screams), Brownlee Davis (Wolfman), Jerry Rushing (Final Exam) and Harris Bloodworth star in this film now scanned in 2K from the IP for the first time ever. Extras include “The Atheist’s Sins,” an interview with author of Nightmare USA Stephen Thrower and “Tales Of Judgment,” an interview with filmmaker Worth Keeter and writer Thom McIntyre.

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Midnight (1982) is also available on DVD and Blu-ray Sept. 28. A decade after co-writing Night of the Living Dead, writer/director John Russo gathered members of George Romero’s Pittsburgh crews to film a new shocker fueled by equal parts grisly grindhouse jolts and ’80s satanic panic. Fleeing her pervy alcoholic stepfather (Lawrence Tierney of Reservoir Dogs), a hitchhiking teen (Melanie Verlin) is abducted by a family of crazed homicidal rednecks for an ordeal of graphic butchery, shag carpet and devil worship. The film is scanned in 4K from the negative of the long-rumored uncut version with all-new special features. Extras include an interview with writer-director John A. Russo, an interview with producer Samuel M. Sherman, an interview with actor John Amplas, an interview with SFX artist Tom Savini, and the trailer.

The Fourth Victim (1971), a mystery thriller coming to DVD and Blu-ray Sept. 28, is a rarely seen giallo. Golden Globe winning/Academy Award nominated Hollywood exile Carroll Baker (Baby Doll, Something Wild) stars as the new bride of a wealthy British playboy (Michael Craig) whose three previous wives met with suspiciously accidental deaths. The Italian/Spanish co-production is scanned in 2K from the original negative. Extras include “Eugenio Martín, Auteur,” an interview with Eugenio Martín biographer Carlos Aguilar, a deleted scene, and the trailer.

“The Dungeon of Andy Milligan Collection,” coming Sept. 21, is a collection of films from writer/actor/director Andy Milligan on eight Blu-rays that features 14 surviving films from his NYC and London years, 10-plus hours of trailers, outtakes, interviews and audio commentaries, a bonus CD, and a 128-page book by Stephen Thrower.

‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’ Dominates Disc Sales

Zack Snyder’s Justice League easily took the top spot on both 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 Sept. 11.

The four-hour director’s cut of the 2017 superhero team-up Justice League, distributed by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, outsold the No. 2 title by a 5-to-1 margin.

Snyder’s re-edited and extended version of the DC Comics adaptation, which he couldn’t finish in 2017, serves as the sequel to his 2013 film Man of Steel and its 2016 follow-up Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and was first released on the HBO Max streaming service in March.

Blu-ray Disc formats accounted for 75% of Zack Snyder’s Justice League first-week unit sales, with 38% of its total tally coming specifically from 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray (meaning 37% was regular Blu-ray and 25% was DVD).

A trilogy collection of all three of Snyder’s DC films was No. 14 on the Blu-ray Disc chart.

The previous week’s top overall disc seller, Warner’s The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, dropped to No. 2 on the overall chart. The third “Conjuring” movie was down one spot on the Blu-ray Disc chart to No. 4.

Lionsgate’s Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard was the No. 3 overall disc seller and the No. 2 Blu-ray.

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The No. 2 Blu-ray was Universal Pictures’ 1982 sci-fi horror movie The Thing, from director John Carpenter, which got a boost from a new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray edition. It was the No. 10 overall disc seller, with 95% of its total unit sales coming from the new 4K edition (3% of its total was from the regular Blu-ray).

The No. 4 overall disc, and No. 6 Blu-ray, was DreamWorks Animation’s Spirit Untamed, from Universal Pictures.

Sony Pictures’ Peter Rabbit 2 was No. 2 on the overall disc chart, and No. 7 on the Blu-ray chart.

The No. 5 Blu-ray Disc seller was Warner’s direct-to-video animated movie Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms, which had been the top Blu-ray the previous week. It dropped five spots to No. 11 overall.

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The Media Play News rental chart the week ended Sept. 12 had Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard at No. 1 for the fourth straight week, with Peter Rabbit 2 repeating at No. 2, and Conjuring 3 holding at No. 3.

The No. 4 and No. 5 rentals were a pair of newly released crime thrillers, Lionsgate’s The Gateway and Quiver’s The Girl Who Got Away, respectively.

Detailed charts will be posted later today.

Kino Lorber Sets Oct. 26 DVD, Blu-ray Date for ‘Gomorrah,’ Called ‘Italy’s Answer’ to ‘Breaking Bad’

Kino Lorber on Oct. 26 will release Season 1 sets of “Gomorrah: The Series” on DVD and Blu-ray Disc.

The Italian crime drama has been called Italy’s answer to “Breaking Bad.”

“Gomorrah: The Series” is a gangster show from Stefano Sollima (Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse, Romanzo Criminale), based on Roberto Saviano’s best-selling book and the subsequent award-winning film of the same name.

Season 1 tells the inside story of the fierce Neapolitan crime organization the Camorra. It is shown through the eyes of Ciro (Marco D’Amore), the obedient and self-confident right-hand man of the clan’s godfather, Pietro Savastano (Fortunato Cerlino), whose loyalty is pushed to its limits over twelve blood-drenched episodes.