Netflix: ‘The Royal Treatment,’ ‘Ozark’ Again Dominate Weekly Streaming

Netflix subscribers streamed nearly 26.5 million hours of original movie The Royal Treatment across 94 countries to place the romantic comedy atop the streamer’s global top 10 feature films consumed in its second week release through Jan. 30.

The film topped newcomer Home Team, which tracked 21 million hours across 69 countries to finish No. 1 in the United States, and Munich: The Edge of War with 17.3 million hours across 85 countries in its second week.

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Among episodic programming, the first half of season four of “Ozark ” topped all shows with 96.3 million hours streamed across 74 countries in its second week of access. The critically acclaimed series starring Jason Bateman, Julie Garner and Laura Linney, among others, easily bested season one of new show “The Woman in the House Across the Street From the Girl in the Window” with 40 million hours streamed across 48 countries.

Netflix to Be Featured in an Exhibit at London Museum

Netflix has announced a new partnership with the Design Museum in London — a museum devoted to contemporary design — for a new exhibit celebrating the service’s “design journey,” according to a blog post by Steve Johnson, Netflix VP of product and studio design.

“Our new immersive exhibition will take a closer look at the key elements of the Netflix experience, its evolution over time, and our underpinning design philosophy,” Johnson wrote. “The exhibit will also showcase this design journey from a different perspective through fan favourites.

“When something is designed well, it makes life easier, gives us joy and brings people together. And just like entertainment, design can fundamentally change the way we live our lives. 

“At Netflix, building an intuitive, seamless experience has been at the heart of our business for the last 25 years: from our very early days as a mail-order DVD company, to our role today bringing entertainment to homes and devices around the world. Design plays a key role in connecting our members with great stories.”

It’s Netflix’s 10th year in the United Kingdom, he noted.

“We couldn’t think of a better moment to look back at the evolution of the Netflix experience and celebrate our journey together,” he wrote.

‘Belfast’ Available for Digital Purchase on Feb. 8, Disc and VOD on March 1

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has set home release dates for Belfast, the critically hailed drama from director Kenneth Branagh.

The film will be available for digital purchase on Feb. 8, followed by a March 1 release on DVD, Blu-ray Disc and VOD.

Belfast revolves around one boy’s childhood amid the music and social tumult of the late 1960s. Buddy’s family lives in a largely Protestant district with a few Catholic families, but one day his community and everything he thought he understood about life is suddenly turned upside down. Buddy’s family gets caught in the mayhem and must decide to stay or leave the only place they have ever called home. Through it all, his passionate parents (BAFTA Award winner Caitríona and Jamie Dornan) and quick-witted grandparents (Judi Dench and CiaránHinds) keep the joy alive through music and the magic of movies in a story that reminds us that no matter how far you go, you never forget where you came from.

The disc and on demand releases come with all-new bonus content including an alternate ending featuring Branagh, deleted scenes, and featurettes about Branagh’s vision, the characters, and filming locations, plus personal childhood memories from the cast.
 
Belfast also stars Colin Morgan and Jude Hill in his feature film debut. Winner of more audience awards than any film this year, Belfast has been nominated for over 195 awards, including 11 Critic’s Choice Awards and a total of 13 Best Picture nominations as well as PGA and DGA Awards nominations for Branagh.
 

 

AMC Theatres Narrows Q4 Loss 80%

AMC Entertainment, corporate parent of the nation’s largest movie exhibitor AMC Theatres, Feb. 1 released preliminary fourth-quarter fiscal results for the three-month period ended Dec. 31, 2021.

Driven in part by the box office phenom Spider-Man: No Way Home, total revenue topped $1.17 billion, compared with $162.5 million in the previous-year period. The net loss narrowed between $194.8 million and $114.8 million, which includes an estimated non-cash impairment charge related to long lived assets of $50 million to $125 million.

That compared with a net loss of $946.1 million in Q4 2020, which included a non-cash impairment charge related to long lived assets, definite and indefinite lived intangible assets and goodwill of $466.1 million.

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Pre-tax earnings range from $146.8 million to $151.8 million, compared with a pretax loss of 327.5 million in 2020.

“AMC’s 2021 results improved significantly as the year progressed, and we finished the year with the strongest quarter in two years,” CEO Adam Aron said in a statement. “The fourth quarter of 2021 marks a meaningful milestone with positive [pretax earnings], positive operating cash generated of more than $215 million, and a record year-ending liquidity position of $1.8 billion.”

AT&T Favors WarnerMedia Spin-Off Over Split, Wall Street Disagrees

AT&T Feb. 1 announced that its board of directors has decided to spin off AT&T’s interest in WarnerMedia instead of a split enabling the telecom’s shareholders to exchange their shares for stock in the new Warner Bros. Discovery company in connection with the previously announced $43 billion transaction with Discovery.

The transaction, which will spin off 100% of AT&T’s interest in WarnerMedia to AT&T’s existing shareholders in a pro rata distribution, followed by the merger of WarnerMedia with Discovery, is expected to close in the second quarter of 2022.

Additionally, AT&T’s board approved an expected post-close annual dividend of $1.11 per AT&T share, to account for the distribution of WarnerMedia to AT&T shareholders, and to size the annual dividend payout at approximately 40% of projected free cash flow to enable investment in attractive growth opportunities.

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As previously disclosed, under the terms of the transaction, which is structured as an all-stock, Reverse Morris Trust transaction, AT&T will receive $43 billion (subject to working capital and other adjustments) in a combination of cash and other consideration, and AT&T’s shareholders will receive stock representing approximately 71% of the new company, Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD), on a fully diluted basis. Existing Discovery shareholders will own approximately 29% of the new company on a fully diluted basis.

On the closing date of the transaction, each AT&T shareholder will receive, on a tax-free basis, an estimated 0.24 shares of the new WBD common stock for each share of AT&T common stock held as of the record date for the pro rata distribution. The exact number of shares of WBD to be received by AT&T shareholders for each AT&T common share will be determined closer to the closing based on the number of shares of AT&T common stock outstanding and the number of shares of Discovery common stock outstanding on an as-converted and as-exercised basis. AT&T has approximately 7.2 billion fully diluted shares outstanding. AT&T shareholders will continue to hold the same number of shares of AT&T after the transaction closes.

“In evaluating the form of distribution, we were guided by one objective — executing the transaction in the most seamless manner possible to support long-term value generation,” AT&T CEO John Stankey said in a statement. “We are confident the spin-off achieves that objective because it’s simple, efficient and results in AT&T shareholders owning shares of both companies, each of which will have the ability to drive better returns in a manner consistent with their respective market opportunities.”

While the fiscal difference between a spin-off and split is largely in the weeds, AT&T’s announced dividend following the closing of the deal is almost half the telecom’s annual dividend of $2.08 per share. That news sent AT&T’s shares down almost 6% in premarket trading.

Stankey remained upbeat on the deal’s future impact for the telecom.

“We believe that the remaining AT&T and the new WBD are two equities that the market will want to own and the markets to support those equities will develop,” he said. “Rather than try to account for market volatility in the near-term and decide where to apportion value in the process of doing an exchange of shares, the spin-off distribution will let the market do what markets do best. We are confident both equities will soon be valued on the solid fundamentals and attractive prospects they represent.”

HBO Max Confirms March 8 for Second Wave of European Launches

HBO Max Feb. 1 confirmed it would launch streaming service in an additional 15 European countries on March 8. This follows the rollout of Max in the Nordics and Spain last October.

The countries are Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia. Max is currently live in 46 territories across the Americas and Europe, with that rising to 61 with these launches. Max is going global as part of a phased roll out and later this year will expand to a further six European countries including Greece and Turkey.

In addition to streaming Warner Bros. theatrical releases 45 days after their box office debut, Max original series include “Station Eleven,” “Peacemaker,” “Raised by Wolves” and “Sex Lives of College Girls.” European Max originals include “Todo Lo Otro,” “Kamikaze,” “Lust,” “Ruxx,” “The Thaw,” “The Informant” and “Garcia!” There’s non-scripted entertainment with “Expecting Amy,” “Finding Magic Mike,” “FBoy Island” and “Selena + Chef.” Kids content includes “Teen Titans Go!,” “The Amazing World of Gumball,” “Looney Tunes Cartoons” and “Cocomelon” (which also streams on Netflix).

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“The global rollout of Max continues at pace,” Johannes Larcher, head of HBO Max International, said in a statement. “We are delivering on our strategy to go direct-to-consumer around the world, which, coupled with our beloved content will give us the scale needed to be one of the top global streaming platforms.”

Subscribers will be able to pay via major providers (VISA, Mastercard and PayPal) and via in-app purchase in major markets (Apple App Store, Google Play Store and Samsung Checkout).

Features include personalization with up to five viewer profiles, three simultaneous streams, no limit on registered devices per subscription, 5.1 surround sound, Dolby Atmos and select titles available in 4K.

AVOD Streamer DistroTV to Debut Original Feature Film ‘Escandalo Secreto’

DistroTV Feb. 1 claimed it would be the first free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) platform to debut an original feature film with the Spanish-language comedy Escándalo Secreto: En Plena Cuarentena (Secret Scandal: In Quarantine).

The comedy, directed and written by Jorge Cano, begins streaming on DistroTV Feb. 25. This marks the latest installment in DistroTV’s new, free-to-stream DistroTV Español channel bundle and comes on the heels of DistroTV’s recent expansion of its global distribution footprint, which now includes Latin American audiences.

The movie, set in Bogata, Columbia, bows on DistroTV Español, and will be available to all DistroTV audiences globally, including 17 countries in Latin America and in the U.S. The comedy’s cast includes Alejandro Gutierrez, Danny Trejo, Ninel Conde, Lina Castrillon, Platanito, Nanis Ochoa, Armando Hernandez, Lorena Herrera, Reykon, Margarita Reyes, Alexander Ospina, Valentina Lizcano, Nitzia Chama, Ricardo Hill, Isabella Santiago and Pancho Moler.

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DistroTV’s 200+ channel library includes a mix of films and television shows, such Bloomberg, EuroNews, People TV, Magellan TV and TD Ameritrade network, as well as independent channels like Black Enterprise, as well as Kweli TV, which spotlights the history and global diversity of the Black community; and DistroTV Desi, its free-to-stream South Asian channel bundle.

Roku Original Series ‘Swimming With Sharks’ Bowing on The Roku Channel in April

Roku and Lionsgate Feb. 1 announced that “Swimming With Sharks,” the scripted drama series about the dark side of the Hollywood studio system, will make its debut on The Roku Channel in April.

The series is about a Hollywood assistant who turns the tables on an abusive boss. The Roku Original stars Diane Kruger and Kiernan Shipka in a modern take on the cult drama.

“Historically, Hollywood has always represented reinvention, rebirth, starting over. There has never been a better time to embrace that,” writer/showrunner Kathleen Robertson said in a statement. “My goal was to subvert this story and come at if from a place of both wonder and corruption, through the eyes of two complex female perspectives.”

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When Lou Simms (Shipka) starts her internship at Fountain Pictures, she seems like a naïve Hollywood newcomer, awestruck by the studio’s notorious CEO, Joyce Holt (Diane Kruger). In truth, Lou has done extensive research on Joyce and landing this internship was no happy accident. As Lou’s obsession grows, she will do anything to get close to her idol.

“Hollywood can be as cutthroat as it is glamorous,” said Colin Davis, Roku’s head of original scripted programming. “‘Swimming With Sharks’ does not hold back in showcasing the complex, ego driven, and ambition fueled pursuits in one’s attempts to ‘make it’ in a town riddled with more broken dreams than success stories. Kathleen and the talented teams behind and in front of the camera have delivered!”

The series will feature six 30-minute episodes and will air exclusively for free on The Roku Channel in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. The drama also stars Donald Sutherland, Thomas Dekker, Finn Jones, Erica Alexander, Ross Butler and Gerardo Celasco.

“We’re excited to bring ‘Swimming With Sharks’ to television audiences,” added Lionsgate Television Group SVP Jocelyn Sabo. “It has the perfect ingredients for a platform defining premium series — a gripping story, an incredible cast and the ability to connect with viewers. We are delighted to work with Roku once again on another amazing Roku Original.

The series is directed by Tucker Gates, with Chris Cowles, Stephen Israel, Jay Cohen, Dana Brunetti and Liz Destro serving as executive producers.

‘Cobra Kai’ Tops Parrot’s Digital Originals Chart for Fourth Week; ‘Ozark’ Rises to No. 5

Netflix’s “Cobra Kai” remained No. 1 for a fourth week on Parrot Analytics’ digital originals U.S. rankings the week ended Jan. 28. The “Karate Kid” sequel series had 53.7 times the demand of the average series after another 17.1% drop in demand expressions, the proprietary metric Parrot uses to gauge a show’s popularity. “Cobra Kai” was No. 4 on the list of overall TV shows.

Netflix’s fantasy series “The Witcher” held onto the No. 2 spot on the digital originals chart with 43.4 times the demand of an average series during the week after an 11.4% drop in demand expressions. “The Witcher” was No. 7 on the list of overall TV shows.

The Disney+ “Star Wars” series “The Mandalorian” and its spin-off “The Book of Boba Fett” continued to hold the next two spots on the digital originals chart.

“Boba Fett” remained at No. 3, with its fifth of seven episodes bowing during the week. It had 42.7 times the demand of an average series following a 2.5% rise in demand expressions. “The Book of Boba Fett” was No. 9 on the list of overall TV shows.

“Mandalorian” held tight at No. 4 on the digital originals chart with an 8% rise in demand expressions to give it 41.3 times the demand of an average series. The latest episode of “Boba Fett” focused on a new adventure from the main character of “The Mandalorian,” which was No. 10 on the list of overall TV shows.

Netflix’s “Ozark” rose 11 spots to return to the top 10 originals chart at No. 5. Seven episodes from the fourth season became available Jan. 21, giving the family crime drama a 65.7% jump in demand expressions to push it to 35 times average demand.

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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 “SpongeBob SquarePants,” with 63.1 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.

 

‘Ghostbusters,’ ‘Clifford’ New to Disc Feb. 1, ‘Gucci’ Available Digitally

Feb. 1 sees the release of Ghostbusters: Afterlife and Clifford the Big Red Dog on Blu-ray Disc and DVD, while House of Gucci becomes available for digital purchase.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife Feb. 1 becomes available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD Feb. 1 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The next chapter in the original “Ghostbusters” universe, from director Jason Reitman and producer Ivan Reitman, it follows a single mom and her two kids who arrive in a small town and begin to discover their connection to the original Ghostbusters and the secret legacy their grandfather, an original Ghostbuster, left behind. (Read a review here.)

Also due Feb. 1 is the “Ghostbusters Ultimate Collection 4K Ultra HD Set,” with Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters II and Ghostbusters: Afterlife on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray, plus two discs of special features. The set includes more than 20 hours of behind-the-scenes and archival footage, including the full preview cut of the original movie. Presented in collectible “ghost trap” packaging with lights, it includes a 220-page reprint of the 1985 “Making Ghostbusters” book. Digital copies of the three films and Ghostbusters: Answer the Call are also included (see controversy).

The family film Clifford the Big Red Dog becomes available to purchase on Blu-ray and DVD Feb. 1 from Paramount Home Entertainment. In the film based on the book series, when Emily discovers her little red puppy named Clifford has grown to 10-foot-tall overnight, she turns to her eccentric Uncle Casey for help. But when a mad scientist tries to capture the larger-than-life pup, it takes the entire neighborhood to hide Clifford as they race across the city. (Read a review here.)

MGM releases House of Gucci for digital purchase Feb. 1. From director Ridley Scott, the film is inspired by the true story of the family behind the Italian Gucci fashion empire. When Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga), an outsider from humble beginnings, marries into the Gucci family, her unbridled ambition begins to unravel the family legacy and triggers a reckless spiral of betrayal, decadence, revenge and, ultimately, murder. The cast also includes Adam Driver, Jared Leto, Jeremy Irons, Jack Huston, Salma Hayek and Al Pacino. It earned $52.9 million at the domestic box office. Universal Pictures Home Entertainment will release it on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Feb. 22.

RLJE Films and Shudder Feb. 1 release the animated horror film The Spine of Night on DVD and Blu-ray, as well as in a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbook that includes a DVD and standard Blu-ray. The film premiered in theaters, on demand and through digital retailers in October. Both RLJE Films and Shudder are owned by AMC Networks. The Spine of Night stars Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?), Lucy Lawless (“Xena: Warrior Princess”), Patton Oswalt (Young Adult), Betty Gabriel (Get Out) and Joe Manganiello (“True Blood”). The film was co-written and co-directed by Philip Gelatt and Morgan Galen King. The film is an epic fantasy about the history of a land that never was. It begins when an ambitious young man steals forbidden knowledge from a sacred plant. He falls to its darker temptations and, in so doing, unleashes ages of suffering onto mankind. As his power grows over the years, it falls to people of different ilk and culture to attempt to stop him. Among those who stand against him are a daring tomb-robber, star-crossed lovers, a maniacal necromancer, winged assassins, and an undying guardian.

RLJE Films Feb. 1 releases the Shudder horror film Superhost through digital platforms and on DVD and Blu-ray Disc. Directed and written by Brandon Christensen, Superhost stars Sara Canning (“9-1-1”, “Nancy Drew”), Osric Chau (“The Flash”, “Nancy Drew”), Gracie Gillam (“Z Nation,” “Scream Queens”) and Barbara Crampton (Jakob’s Wife). In the film, Teddy and Claire are travel vloggers who run a channel called “SUPERHOST,” where they travel and share their experiences in and around vacation homes. Their initial success, however, has begun to ebb, and with a dwindling subscriber count they decide to create viral content around a fascinating woman named Rebecca, their most recent host. Bad choice.

The Bruce Willis action thriller Deadlock will be released on DVD Feb. 1 from Paramount Home Entertainment. The film is already available for digital purchase and on demand. In Deadlock, Willis stars as Ron Whitlock, a wanted criminal leading a team of mercenaries on a mission of vengeance. Convinced that the government is working against them, the merciless group brutally seizes an energy plant and holds everyone inside hostage. With a nearby town on the brink of massive flooding and destruction, it’s up to retired elite army ranger Mack Karr (Patrick Muldoon) to save thousands of innocent lives before it’s too late.

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Paramount Home Entertainment releases the 1992 comedy Wayne’s World in a limited-edition Blu-ray Steelbook on Feb. 1 for the film’s 30th anniversary.  Originally released on Feb. 14, 1992, the film marked the feature debut of Wayne and Garth, characters originated by Mike Myers and Dana Carvey on “Saturday Night Live.” A send-up of pop culture, the film also features Rob Lowe, Tia Carrere and Alice Cooper. Directed by Penelope Spheeris and written by Myers and Bonnie Turner and Terry Turner, Wayne’s World follows Wayne and Garth as they try to promote their public-access cable show. The film ultimately earned more than $183 million at the worldwide box office and spawned the sequel Wayne’s World 2. A double feature of the two films also will be available on Blu-ray. The Wayne’s World Blu-rays include access to digital copies of the films.

Shout! Factory and Sesame Workshop Feb. 1 release Sesame Street — Elmo’s World: All Around the Neighborhood on DVD and for digital purchase. The film features two hours of “Elmo’s World” shorts, teaching preschoolers about doctors, newspapers, machines, factories, ramps, sports, getting dressed, bowling, veterinarians, nighttime, maps, blocks, transportation, measuring and photographers.

Kino Lorber Feb. 1 releases a Blu-ray Disc collection of 1986’s F/X and its 1991 sequel, F/X2. In the original F/X, Bryan Brown stars as Rollie Tyler, the best special effects artist in showbiz, who is recruited by the Justice Department to stage the assassination of an important underworld witness. After he pulls the illusion off, he is dumbfounded to learn that he’s being pinned for the murder and is soon hunted by those who hired him, with just is knowledge of visual trickery. Brian Dennehy plays Leo, a detective who stumbles upon the plot as he investigates the collateral damage from the efforts to kill Rollie. The cast also includes Diane Venora, Cliff De Young, Mason Adams, Jerry Orbach and Tom Noonan. In F/X2, Rollie has left the special effects business and now designs sophisticated electronic toys for a living. But when his girlfriend’s ex-husband, a police detective, persuades him to devise an illusion to capture a serial killer, Rollie is once again lured into the lethal world of make-believe. And soon, he finds himself trapped in a murderous maze of deceit and treachery in which he must depend on his ingenious tricks and his friendship Leo to expose an underworld conspiracy. The cast includes Rachel Ticotin, Joanna Gleason, Philip Bosco and Kevin J. O’Connor.

The documentary Julia, about cookbook author and television star Julia Child, becomes available through digital retailers Feb. 1 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Using never-before-seen archival footage, personal photos, first-person narratives and cutting-edge food cinematography, the documentary traces Child’s 12-year struggle to create and publish the revolutionary Mastering the Art of French Cooking (1961), which has sold more than 2.5 million copies to date, and her rapid ascent to become the country’s most unlikely television star. It’s the empowering story of a woman who found her purpose — and her fame — at 50, and took America along on the whole delicious journey. The film was an official selection at the Telluride Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, Hamptons International Film Festival, Mill Valley Film Festival, AFI Fest, among other film festivals. It was nominated at the Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards for Best Historical or Biographical Documentary and Best Score. It arrives on DVD Feb. 15.

The documentary 100 Years From Mississippi will be released on VOD and for digital purchase Feb. 1 from Virgil Films. The film chronicles the experiences of Mamie Lang Kirkland, who was 7 years old when she fled Ellisville, Miss., in 1915 with her mother and siblings as her father and his friend John Hartfield escaped an approaching lynch mob. Hartfield returned to Mississippi in 1919 and was killed in one of the most horrific lynchings of the era.

A complete list of new disc and digital releases, compiled each week by the Media Play News market research team, can be found here.