U.K. Home Entertainment Trade Groups Bow Weekly Video Chart Show

The Official Charts Company, the British Association for Screen Entertainment (BASE) and the Entertainment Retailers Association last month launched “The Official Film Charts Show,” a weekly online video presentation showcasing the most-popular movies to buy or rent on disc or digital in the United Kingdom – the world’s second-largest home entertainment market.

The show tabulates the top 10 best-selling selling movies on disc and download for the week and also includes trailers for upcoming releases.

The video is available on OfficialCharts.com now includes movie downloads from Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, Sky Store, Virgin Media Store, Rakuten TV, Talk Talk TV, as well as 4K UHD Blu-ray, standard Blu-ray and DVD disc sales.

“The Official Film Chart will be the definitive snapshot of the U.K.’s favorite movies on disc and download – for the first time, both film fans and the industry will be able to review the biggest selling titles every week across both physical and digital formats, which is a huge step for the industry,” Martin Talbot, CEO of The Official Charts said in a statement.

Through six months in 2018, U.K. consumers downloaded more than 15 million movies – exceeding 2017 – and helping grow the overall market to about 55 million video sales across all formats (download, 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD).

Liz Bales, CEO of Base, said the need for a consumer-based online video promotional vehicle for home entertainment was long overdue.

“In an ever-changing, but consistently dynamic home entertainment industry, it has been felt for some time that there should be a method of both celebrating and signposting audience engagement with owned content,” Bales said. “With significant growth in digital ownership, and ongoing engagement with the full suite of physical options – including 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD – it is clear that film in all its forms continues to be a must-own commodity.”

AT&T Launching First Domestic 5G Mobile Network Dec. 21

AT&T, beginning Dec. 21, says it will become the first telecom in the United States offering 5G wireless service over a commercial, standards-based mobile 5G network.

The initial launch is limited to 12 cities, which include Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C., Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Fla., Louisville, Ky., Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Raleigh, N.C., San Antonio and Waco, Texas.

“This is the first taste of the mobile 5G era,” Andre Fuetsch, president, AT&T Labs and chief technology officer, said in a statement. “Being first, you can expect us to evolve very quickly. It’s early on the 5G journey and we’re ready to learn fast and continually iterate in the months ahead.”

Observers contend 5G could have a significant impact on home entertainment.

Over the next decade, media and entertainment companies will be competing to win a share of a near $3 trillion cumulative wireless revenue opportunity, according to the recently released “5G Economics of Entertainment Report” commissioned by Intel and conducted by Ovum.

The report says that as early as 2025, 57% of global wireless media revenue will be generated by using the super-high-bandwidth capabilities of 5G networks and the devices that run on 5G. The low latency of these networks means that video won’t stall or stop — livestreaming and large downloads will happen in the blink of an eye.

AT&T, which owns WarnerMedia, said that in the first half of 2019 it plans to deploy mobile 5G in seven additional cities: Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose, Calif.

“As the ecosystem evolves, this technology will ultimately change the way we live and conduct business,” said Mo Katibeh, chief marketing officer, AT&T Business. “We expect that our initial adopters will be innovative, growing businesses. They’re the starting point for what we think will be a technology revolution like we’ve never seen before.”

Through an initial offer, select businesses and consumers will have access to mobile 5G device plus 5G data usage at no cost for 90 days. It gets pricey thereafter. Next spring, customers will be able to get access to AT&T’s 5G mobile hotspot device, Nighthawk (manufactured by Netgear), for $499 upfront fee and 15GB of data plan, which starts at $70 a month with no annual contract.

Cinedigm Partners with Samsung for OTT Video Services

Cinedigm Dec. 18 announced a partnership with Samsung to give viewers access to the home entertainment distributor’s over-the-top video platforms — fandom-dedicated CONtv and the family friendly faith-based Dove Channel — available on Samsung’s TV Plus video service.

TV Plus is Samsung’s owned and operated video service, which provides access to a variety of free streaming channels covering sports, lifestyle, and related third-party content on select Samsung TVs.

It does not require a subscription fee, account set-up, or credit card info to access. CONtv and the Dove Channel – which do require separate subscriptions – are currently available on 2017 and 2018 Samsung Smart TV models, and will be rolling out to more in the future.

CONtv offers access to thousands of hours of content showcasing an eclectic catalog of must-watch favorites featuring quintessential cult films, and classic television shows, spanning a wide array of genres including sci-fi, horror, fantasy, anime, grindhouse, and martial arts.

Dove Channel offers viewers a large library of high-quality values-based films, children’s programs, documentaries, and series. All content featured on Dove Channel meets the standards of The Dove Foundation and its esteemed Faith & Family Dove Seals of Approval — serving as an invaluable resource for families across the country for over 27 years.

“Samsung is the top television brand on the market today,” Erick Opeka, president of Cinedigm Digital Networks, said in a statement. “Cinedigm is proud to partner with them to bring two of our most popular digital-first networks to their users on their convenient TV Plus service.”

 

 

IHS: Netflix Needs More Than ‘Sacred Games’ to Drive Consumer Adoption in India

There’s a reason Netflix is emphasizing localized content and talent when expanding service abroad: Consumer adoption.

With over-the-top video by nature offering loss-leader pricing, services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video haven’t yet engaged in price warfare against regional competitors.

But simply regurgitating Hollywood movies and TV shows is a strategy of the past in markets such as India and China – two regions of the world Netflix and Amazon want to establish significant presence in.

In India, OTT video services will add 25 million subscriptions over the next five years, three million more new subs than pay-TV. It will exceed 35 million OTT video subs by the end of 2022, according to new data from IHS Markit.

When it comes to choosing connected video services, IHS found that more than 76% of connected consumers in India feel local content is important – with 74% citing the importance of quality subtitling and dubbing. Pricing also remained important across all markets surveyed.

As Netflix & Co. increase their focus on the Indian video market, including investment in local content, they continue to face competition from India’s well-established local OTT players.

The country’s successful domestic film and network TV markets pose challenges for newcomers lacking local content libraries. Despite launching “Sacred Games” this year, featuring Bollywood star Saif Ali Khan, IHS says Netflix still has a long way to go to grow its Indian subscriber base.

Star India launched Hotstar, an ad-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) service in 2015, followed by SVOD service, Hotstar Premium, in 2016. The service is forecast to grow its Indian subscriber base 60% this year, accounting for 25% of all online video subscriptions in the market.

Its success has largely been supported by content investments, including premium sports, local-language content and international content from HBO, Disney and Fox.

Although pricing is the most important factor in a video service across all country markets surveyed by IHS, Indian consumers were most likely to cite price as an important factor in their video service decisions.

Average revenue per user (ARPU) among pay-TV subs in India reached $4 monthly in the satellite heavy market, while local OTT subscription services cost less than $1 per month. In comparison, the basic Netflix subscription in India costs $7.

To succeed and grow in India’s content-hungry market, IHS says global OTT video players need to provide the correct mix of content at the right price.

Starz Ups Marta Fernandez to EVP of Original Programming

Starz, the multi-channel distributor owned by Lionsgate, Dec. 17 announced the promotion of Marta Fernandez to EVP of original programming.

Based in Lionsgate’s Santa Monica office, Fernandez, who had been SVP of original programming, will expand her role within the originals team, while continuing to spearhead the network’s inclusion initiatives across the slate.

She will also continue to expand the drive toward female-forward programming, overseeing new development and current productions for the network including, original series “Vida” and “American Gods” as well as the upcoming series from playwright Katori Hall, “P-Valley.”

Fernandez, who joined Starz in 2007, has been a key contributor to the success of Starz Originals, beginning with the highly-rated “Spartacus” franchise (“Blood and Sand,” “Gods of the Arena,” “Vengeance,” and “War of the Damned”), and including series “Boss,” as well as “Flesh and Bone,” “Ash vs Evil Dead,” “Da Vinci’s Demons” and the Emmy-winning series “Black Sails.”

“Marta has done an excellent job of developing premium content and diverse talent and has been a great representative for Starz in our goal of serving underserved audiences,” Carmi Zlotnik, president of programming, said in a statement.“We are pleased to be able to acknowledge her dedication and continuing contribution to the network.”

 

Channing Dungey Joins Netflix as VP of Original Content

Former ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey, who made headlines last year yanking “Roseanne” off the air after its star, Roseanne Barr, made a racist tweet, is joining Netflix as VP of original content.

Dungey, who reports to Cindy Holland, VP of original content, joins Netflix in February. In November it was announced Dungey would be leaving ABC after two years.

While at ABC, she helped get series, “Scandal” and “How to Get Away with Murder,” among other series, on the air.

“We’re delighted to be adding Channing’s expertise, leadership and deep experience to Netflix, and I look forward to partnering with her as we continue to grow and evolve our global network,” Holland said in a statement. “I have been a fan of her character and approach from our early days as executives.”

“Channing is a creative force whose taste and talent have earned her the admiration of her peers across the industry,” added CCO Ted Sarandos. “She’s a risk taker and ground-breaker and talent love working with her. I couldn’t be happier to welcome her to Netflix.”

 

 

Theater Group: Netflix Doesn’t Hurt Exhibitors

Netflix’s adamant strategy to release original feature films concurrent with theatrical distribution is not hurting exhibitor business, according to the National Association of Theater Owners.

In fact, data from a survey of 1,400 respondents conducted by Ernst & Young found consumers of over-the-top video services are frequent moviegoers – well above non-streamers.

Respondents who watched at least one theatrical release in 2017, also streamed at least one hour of video per week. The ratio increased among avid moviegoers. Indeed, 33% of respondents who watched nine movies in the theater, also streamed at least 15 hours video per week.

“People who consume a lot of content do so across multiple platforms,” NATO spokesperson John Fithian wrote in a recent blog post. “The movie industry is not a zero-sum game.”

Fithian said it could be argued that Netflix undermines broadcast television and transactional VOD markets. Streaming services, Fithian said, can work “hand-in-hand” with exhibitors.

He cited Amazon’s decision to adhere to the tradition 90-day theatrical window for original movies, Manchester by The Sea and The Big Sick– the former generating Amazon industry awards (Best Actor for Casey Affleck and Best Screenplay for director Kenneth Lonergan in Manchester) attention, in addition to domestic box office tallies of $48 million and $43 million, respectively.

Fithian argues Netflix is leaving money on the table bypassing theaters, which have largely boycotted the SVOD pioneer’s movies due to its distribution edict.

Netflix has reversed course this year on original movies Roma and The Ballad of Buster Scruggs– titles the streaming service is heavily lobbying for Oscar contention in 2019 – reportedly at the behest of directors Alfonso Cuarón and Joel and Ethan Coen.

Both titles have received limited exclusive theatrical distribution in an effort to satisfy Academy Awards voters.

NATO cited distributor Neon, which last year reportedly turned down $12 million from Netflix to release I, Tonya in theaters. The film went on to generate Oscar nominations, including Best Supporting Actress win for Alison Janney and sell $30 million in domestic movie tickets.

“The transactional value for film is diminished [by Netflix’s model],” Neon founder Tom Quinn told IndieWire. “It’s an all-you-can-eat buffet, you can dip in and out, and if you don’t like a movie, you move on.”

NATO’s Fithian said exhibitors would welcome Netflix into the foldif it respected the theatrical window.

“Filmmakers and movie lovers will appreciate Netflix so much more,” he said.

 

Shout! Factory Announces Original Roger Corman Documentary Series

Shout! Factory Dec. 17 announced that its filmed entertainment distribution and production arm, Shout! Studios, has partnered with China’s Ace Film HK Company and Friendship Films to produce “Corman’s Hollywood,” a new multi-part documentary series about the life and works of pop cinema director Roger Corman and his wife and business partner, Julie Corman.

Created, written, and co-produced by Ashley Sidaway and Robert Sidaway from Friendship Films, the 13-episode series explores the career odysseys of the Cormans, uncovers inside backstories on many popular Corman movies, and provides a candid portrait of a trailblazing indie filmmaking duo.

The series follows Shout! Factory and Ace Film HK Co.’s March acquisition of Corman’s New Horizons Picture catalog featuring 270 movies and TV series. Titles include Rock ‘N’ Roll High School, The Trip, The Wild Angels, Death Race 2000, Piranha, Bloodfist, Black Scorpion, Little Shop of Horrors, Eat My Dust! and Humanoids from the Deep, among others.

Filmed over four months in Los Angeles, “Corman’s Hollywood” draws on a filmography spanning seven decades. The series offers viewers access inside the Cormans’ cinematic universe and features extensive in-depth interviews.

Corman and his wife share stories and defining moments from their movies, recall talent and young filmmakers they mentored, as well as provide behind-the-scenes perspectives for the films they produced.

Corman, recipient of an honorary Oscar in 2009, produced more than 350 films and directed 60 others. He influenced a generation of Hollywood filmmakers and screen talent, including Jack Nicholson, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese, James Cameron, Ron Howard, Peter Fonda, Jonathan Demme, Gale Anne Hurd, Diane Ladd, Tommy Lee Jones, Harry Dean Stanton, Sandra Bullock, Bruce Dern, Talia Shire, Charles Bronson, Joe Dante, Peter Bogdanovich and Sally Kirkland.

Julie Corman worked with Demme, John Sayles, Catherine Hardwicke, Robert King, Bill Pullman, Martin Sheen, Peter Billingsley, Jon Lovitz, and Mario Van Peebles, among others.  She was chair of the graduate film department at NYU.

“It has been a rewarding and emotional experience to share some of the great moments and memories from so many of our films over seven decades,” Roger and Julie Corman said in a statement. “We have been privileged to work as independents in Hollywood that in a way has allowed us to bring our stories to the screen for audiences around the world. Our hope is that audiences get as much pleasure and fun from this series as we had making these films.” 

Calling Corman one of the most “prolific” producers and directors in Hollywood, Shout’s founders and co-CEOs Bob Emmer and Garson Foos say his and Julie’s ingenuity and independent spirit resonate far beyond the silver screen and today’s entertainment industry.

“It’s important that their insights and stories continue for generations to come,” Emmer and Foos said.

Shout! Studios will distribute the series in North America across multiple formats. Red Sea Media is handling international sales, excluding Asia where Ace Film will handle distribution.

Ampere: Global OTT Revenue to Top Box Office in 2019

It’s an over-the-top world, now with the box office living in it.

New projections from London-based research firm Ampere Analysis contend global revenue ($46 billion) from over-the-top video platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video will supplant the worldwide box office ($40 billion) in 2019.

With Netflix and Prime Video already driving SVOD revenue passed the domestic box office in 2017, the trend is expected to repeat in the United Kingdom this year and in China in 2019.

Surprisingly, Ampere found that SVOD subscribers remain frequent moviegoers, with subscribers attending theatrical screenings twice as often as non-subscribers. The ratio increased by a factor of three in Japan – despite SVOD services costing about half as much as a theatrical ticket.

“Our analysis of consumers in 15 markets reveals that although there are differences in the cost of cinema attendance by country, there’s clearly an appetite for content amongst some consumers, whether that be on the big screen, or a smaller one,” senior analyst Toby Holleran said in a statement. “The key for cinema is to understand that while SVOD subscribers are more avid cinema goers, this may not always be the case. Therefore, the shared experience of watching a film on the big screen must remain an enticing — and realistically priced.”

 

 

 

Amazon Prime Jumpstarts ‘Aquaman’ Domestic Theatrical Release with $3 Million Sneak Screening

Amazon continues to flex third-party revenue opportunities through its Prime membership base.

The e-commerce behemoth reportedly helped generate almost $3 million in ticket sales for Warner Bros.’ upcoming DC superhero movie Aquaman, following a Dec. 15 sneak screening. The tally beat Amazon’s previous $1.8 million collaboration with Sony Pictures for Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.

Working with Atom Tickets, Amazon enabled Prime members to purchase up to 10 tickets for the special screening available at more than 1,200 theaters nationwide,including AMC, Regal, National Amusement Theaters and ArcLight Cinemas.

Paid sneak screenings – unlike free previews – reportedly offer studios a better estimate how movies will perform under general release.

Directed by James Wan (Saw, The Conjuring, Insidious), Aquaman stars Jason Momoa in the title role, in addition to co-stars Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Nicole Kidman, among others.

The movie, which opens Dec. 21, has already generated $261.3 million in foreign box office revenue.

Amazon, which has more than 100 million Prime members, first began leveraging its user base via Prime Video Channels (formerly Amazon Channels) affording third-party streaming video platforms such as Starz, Showtime OTT and HBO Now direct access to its members, while handling billing and backend support in exchange for a percentage of revenue.

Indeed, parent companies of Showtime, CBS All Access, Starz and HBO Now have attributed much of their subscriber gains to Amazon.