‘Power Book II: Ghost’ Premiere Sets Viewership Records, Starz says

Starz on March 23 said “Power Book II: Ghost” set viewership records as the network’s biggest premiere weekend ever in its first three days.

Based on early reporting, the third season delivered 5.8 million multiplatform viewers following its premiere weekend, with several platforms yet to report. Season 3 of the hit series, which premiered on March 17, was also up approximately 30% from the season 2 debut in November 2021.

This season featured new twists, turns, and murder as Tariq, Brayden, and the Tejada family are grieving the death of Zeke, but they won’t get much time as a new set of problems and questions arise. Monet finds herself at a crossroads with her family, Brayden is forced to choose between his birth family and chosen family, and Tariq is leveling up this season.

The cast of “Ghost” season 3 includes Michael Rainey Jr. as Tariq St. Patrick, Mary J. Blige as Monet Stewart Tejada, Cliff “Method Man” Smith as Davis MacLean, Gianni Paolo as Brayden Weston, Woody McClain as Cane Tejada, Lovell Adams-Gray as Dru Tejada,” LaToya Tonodeo as “Diana Tejada,” Berto Colon as “Lorenzo Tejada, Alix Lapri as Effie Morales, Larenz Tate as Rashad Tate, Shane Johnson as Cooper Saxe, Paton Ashbrook as Jenny Sullivan, Monique Curnen as Detective Blanca Rodriguez, Keesha Sharp as Professor Harper Bennet, David Walton as Lucas Weston, Moriah Brown as KeKe Travis, Luna Lauren Velez as Evelyn Castillo, Caroline Chikezie as Noma and Lightskinkeisha as Brushaundria Carmichael.

“Power Book II: Ghost” is the first series in the expanded “Power” Universe franchise. Brett Mahoney serves as showrunner and executive producer for season 2. The “Power” Universe series is executive produced by the creator and showrunner of the original “Power,” Courtney A. Kemp, through her production company End of Episode, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson through G-Unit Film and Television, and Mark Canton through Atmosphere Entertainment MM. Lionsgate Television produces the series for Starz.


Quirky Horror Comedy ‘Cocaine Bear’ Now Available on PVOD

The quirky horror comedy film Cocaine Bear is now available for digital rental and purchase, at a premium price, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment confirmed.

The film, about a failed cocaine drop in the Georgia forest in which the drugs were consumed by a bear, has earned $53.3 million in the United States and Canada and $68.5 million worldwide.

Cocaine Bear can be rented for $19.99 and purchased for $24.99 from most digital retailers, including Vudu, Redbox On Demand, Prime Video, Apple TV+, Xfinity, Microsoft, DirecTV, YouTube, Verizon, Spectrum, Row8 and AMC Theatres On Demand.

Directed by Elizabeth Banks, Cocaine Bear opened theatrically on Feb. 24.The film is based on the true story of drug smuggler Andrew Thornton II, who on Sept. 11, 1985 jumped from an auto-piloted Cessna after dropping packages of cocaine in the forest near Blairsville, Georgia. Thornton died when his parachute failed to open, while much of the coke was believed to have been ingested by a bear, who promptly died.

In the movie version, the bear does not die; instead, he becomes addicted to the white powder and embarks on a killing spree while chasing after more.

The cast includes Keri Russell, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Christian Convery, Alden Ehrenreich, Brooklynn Prince. Isiah Whitlock Jr., Margo Martindale, and, in his final film appearance, the late Ray Liotta.

It was released digitally March 14, 17 days after its theatrical debut, per Universal’s new windowing policy.

M. Night Shyamalan’s ‘Knock at the Cabin’ Heads to Digital and Streaming March 24, Disc May 9

M. Night Shyamalan’s latest thriller, Knock at the Cabin, is heading home, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment announced March 17.

The film, about a vacationing girl and her parents who are taken hostage by armed strangers who demand that the family make a choice to avert the apocalypse, will be released through digital retailers such as Vudu, Redbox On Demand and Prime Video, as well as on the Peacock streaming service, on March 24.

A DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release will follow on May 9.

With domestic theatrical earnings of less than $36 million, Knock at the Cabin is one of director Shyamalan’s lowest-grossing films.

The home releases, both digital and disc, feature more than 40 minutes of bonus content, including exclusive deleted scenes and behind-the-scenes featurettes.

Based on the book The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay, Knock at the Cabin follows a tight-knit family who are taken hostage by four armed strangers while vacationing at a remote cabin. The visitors, led by Dave Bautista, demand that the young girl and her parents make an unthinkable choice: to save their family or save humanity.
The film stars Jonathan Groff, Ben Aldridge, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Abby Quinn, Rupert Grint, and Kristen Cui in her feature film debut.
Bonus features include an extended cut of the TV infomercial from the film that features an appearance by Shyamalan; “Choosing Wisely: Behind the Scenes of Knock at the Cabin,” an examination of what  drew Shyamalan to adapt the story, and how the relationships between characters were unlike any this ensemble cast had ever played before; “Tools of the Apocalypse,” an exploration of the creation of some of the film’s most terrifying props; “Drawing a Picture,” a documentary on how Shyamalan envisions his shots in advance of turning on the camera through his extensive use of storyboards; and “Kristen Cui Shines a Light,” a closer look at the young actress and her dynamic performance as Wen in her film debut.

Documentary on Erotic Thriller Home Video Genre Acquired by Yellow Veil Pictures

A documentary on one of the hallmarks of the early home video era — the erotic thriller — has been acquired by Yellow Veil Pictures ahead of its world premiere at the Overlook Film Festival in New Orleans, which opens March 30.

Anthony Penta

We Kill for Love — written, produced and directed by Anthony Penta — is slated for domestic release later this year, with an international sales launch at the upcoming Marche Du Film in May.

The film also will get a DVD and Blu-ray Disc release later in the year.

We Kill For Love chronicles the birth and development of the erotic thriller genre, which soared to popularity in the early 1990s and revitalized the videocassette rental business prior to the launch of DVD. Erotic thrillers combined bodily pleasure with danger, and while some films, such as 1987’s Fatal Attraction and 1992’s Basic Instinct, were box office successes, most erotic thrillers were produced and released exclusively to the home video market by such companies as Prism Entertainment and Academy Home Entertainment.

We Kill for Love is part film essay, part documentary, and part casefile,” Penta said. “It’s a record of my prolonged investigation into a forgotten but once lucrative film movement — the direct-to-video erotic thriller — as well as a fantasia on its themes. For six years I tracked down the prime suspects of these films and I recorded their stories. I traveled the country to interview the academics and film writers whose books and articles explored its mysteries. I’m very happy to be partnering with Yellow Veil Pictures on the release of this film, and I’m sure it will serve as a permanent monument to not only a lost film subgenre, but a bygone era of American cinema.”

Joe Yanick, co-founder of Yellow Veil Pictures, added, “We Kill For Love is a home run for erotic thriller fans. It’s one of the most in-depth looks at genre cinema and serves as more than just a love letter but pushes the conversation and spotlights films that have often lost out to their more glamorous theatrical counterparts.”

The film stars filmmakers Andrew Stevens, Jim Wynorski, and Fred Olen Ray; film stars Monique Parent, Amy Lindsay, and Kira Reed Lorsch; film scholars Linda Ruth Williams and Abbey Bender; and others. Media Play News publisher and editorial director Thomas K. Arnold also was interviewed for the film.

Jim Packer, Bill Rouhana to Speak at FAST Session at the April NAB Show

The upcoming National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show in Las Vegas has scheduled a Main Stage session on the rapidly growing FAST business that features several top home entertainment executives, including Lionsgate’s Jim Packer and Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment’s Bill Rouhana.

The “Fast Channels and Furious Growth” session, open to all attendees, will take place on April 17 at 2:30 p.m. at the Las Vegas Convention Center.  Packer, Rouhana and other leaders in streaming and digital distribution will discuss their strategies to harness audience appetite for free, ad-supported television, which hit revenues of roughly $4 billion in the United States last year and is projected to triple over the next five years.

Panelists include Amy Kuessner, EVP of content strategy and global partnerships at Paramount Streaming; Adam Lewinson, chief content officer at Tubi; Packer, president of worldwide television distribution at Lionsgate; and Bill Rouhana, chairman and CEO at Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment. They will discuss programmatic challenges and opportunities, how to utilize targeted advertising effectively and how to build infrastructure quickly.

The NAB Show, held April 15 to 19 in Las Vegas, is celebrating its centennial year as the primary conference and exhibition driving the evolution of broadcast, media and entertainment. For complete details, visit www.nabshow.com.


Original ‘Insidious’ 4K UHD Steelbook Due Just Before Latest Sequel Opens Theatrically

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on June 20 will release the original Insidious in a limited-edition 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbook.

The release comes a month before the theatrical debut of the latest film in the horror franchise, Insidious: Fear the Dark, which opens July 7.

Insidious, released in 2010, is the terrifying story of the Lambert family who, shortly after moving, discovers that dark spirits have possessed their home and that their son, Dalton, has inexplicably fallen into a coma. Trying to escape the haunting and save their son, they move again, only to realize that it was not their house that was haunted.

The fifth and newest film in the franchise, Insidious: Fear the Dark, is produced by Blumhouse Productions and follows a now-grown Dalton Lambert as he goes off to college, only to once again encounter the nasty demons of his past.

Sony’s new home release of the original Insidious features the film presented in 4K resolution with Dolby Vision, approved by director James Wan, as well as Dolby Atmos + 5.1 audio. The accompanying Blu-ray Disc also features 5.1 audio and includes various bonus features, including “Horror 101: The Exclusive Seminar”; “On Set With Insidious“; and “Insidious Entities.”

‘Chucky’ Documentary Headed to Screambox, Digital Retailers and Blu-ray Disc

Cinedigm, in partnership with Bloody Disgusting, will premiere the horror documentary Living With Chucky on its horror streaming service Screambox and on all major digital platforms on April 4 in the United States and Canada.

Two weeks later, on April 18, the documentary on the iconic “Child’s Play” franchise will be released as a collector’s edition Blu-ray Disc. The release will include exclusive artwork by Creepy Duck, a director’s commentary, and the featurettes “Candid Conversations,” “Favorite Death Scenes” and “Strange Families.”

Living with Chucky takes an in-depth look at the franchise from the perspective of a filmmaker who grew up within it. The film features interviews with cast and crew such as Brad Dourif, Jennifer Tilly, Alex Vincent, creator Don Mancini and more. 

Storming into pop culture in the late 1980s, the three-foot killer known as Chucky proved that Child’s Play was anything but. The horror film went on to spawn six sequels, a television series, a reboot, comic books, a video game and merchandise. 

Written and directed by Kyra Elise Gardner, daughter of legendary special effects artist Tony Gardner, Living With Chucky looks back at the franchise by those there from the beginning. The documentary details the history of the “Child’s Play” films by the cast and crew, in addition to Gardner’s own relationship with the series and the impact it had on her family. Gardner seeks out other families involved with the “Child’s Play” films as they recount their experiences working on the franchise and what it means to be a part of the “Chucky” family.  

“With a dad in special effects makeup, blood and guts became a normality for Kyra at a young age,” according to Cinedigm press release. “Combat nursing was her first goal, but she soon discovered that real blood is way grosser than the fake stuff. She’s been pursuing a career in directing since attending Florida State’s film program and plans on creating quirky fantastical films from the lore of her unconventional childhood.”

Redbox Expects Boost in Business Thanks to Robust Theatrical Slate

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment Inc. is hoping a revitalized slate of strong theatrical features will boost business at its Redbox subsidiary.

The company says more than 40 major titles are expected to be available this year and early next year, both on DVD/Blu-ray Disc at the approximately 34,000 Redbox kiosks and digitally through Redbox On Demand for digital rental (TVOD) and purchase (electronic sellthrough).

Beginning with the recent theatrical release of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, the company says it expects at least one major theatrical release each week for the remainder of the year. This year’s theatrical slate includes the latest installments from some of the highest-grossing film franchises in history, including Creed III, Scream VI, Shazam! Fury of the Gods, John Wick: Chapter 4, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Fast X, The Little Mermaid, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, The Flash, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One, Barbie, The Marvels, Meg 2: The Trench, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, The Equalizer 3, Dune: Part Two, The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Wonka, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, Ghostbusters 5 and others.

With this increase in major releases, the company will offer promotions to over 40 million Redbox customer loyalty program members to drive traffic to kiosks and digital platforms.

“After years of COVID-related delays and shutdowns, big movies are finally back in theaters. Our company is very well positioned to take full advantage of this massive slate of new release movies,” said Bill Rouhana, CEO of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment. “Between our kiosks and digital streaming services, we can monetize these windows and drive meaningful free cash flow. We will use some of that expected windfall to pay down debts and help to expand our operations.”

The company will also utilize its digital streaming platforms to offer these movies during premium windows. Consumers will be able to rent or buy many of these films right after the theatrical window, allowing the company to capitalize on studio marketing efforts.

Cecil B. DeMille 1935 Epic ‘The Crusades’ Out Now on Blu-ray Disc

Kino Lorber on March 7 added a vintage epic to its Studio Classics line: 1935’s The Crusades, one of Cecil B. DeMille’s famed string of religious epics that began and ended with The Ten Commandments in 1923 and in 1956.

The film, released theatrically by Paramount Pictures, is available on Blu-ray Disc at a suggested retail price of $24.95.

Starring Loretta Young, Henry Wilcoxon, C. Aubrey Smith, Alan Hale, and Ian Keith, The Crusades was hailed by the New York Times‘ Andre Sennwald as “two hours of tempestuous extravaganza” with “the kind of excitement that pulls an audience irresistibly to the edge of its seat.”

The film combines religious fervor with a stirring love story. Christians in Medieval Europe are planning war against the Saracens, who have taken over the Holy City of Jerusalem. In order to obtain supplies for his soldiers, England’s king, Richard the Lion-Hearted (Wilcoxon), is forced to marry a princess (Young) he has never met. The two are soon involved in a treacherous battle for survival of the Holy City — and of their love. 

Bonus features on the Blu-ray Disc include a new audio commentary by filmmaker Allan Arkush and film historian Daniel Kremer, the original theatrical trailer, and optional English subtitles.

SPIN Teams With Best Ever Channels to Launch New Music FAST Channel

SPIN Magazine and Best Ever Channels (BEC), a leading digital syndication studio and developer of original streaming programming, have announced the launch of a new SPIN music free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) channel, debuting March 21 exclusively on Amazon Freevee.

The newest addition to BEC’s portfolio of niche FAST channels, SPIN builds on the veteran music publication’s legacy, with a 24/7 streaming lineup of original programming, documentaries, interviews, behind-the-scenes specials, exclusive artist showcases, and curated music video playlists.

Barry Gordon

SPIN is a music magazine founded in 1985 by publisher Bob Guccione Jr. The publication stopped its print publication in 2012 and has been exclusively available online ever since.

The SPIN channel’s launch on Amazon Freevee will kick off with a free preview and music celebration on March 16 in Austin, Texas, during SXSW. The launch event, hosted by SPIN, will feature performances by, among others, Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam’s side project Painted Shield and headliner Killer Mike of the hip-hop duo Run the Jewels.

“The brand integrity of SPIN has always been paramount to every decision we make,” said SPIN CEO Jimmy Hutchinson. “Amazon’s Freevee is arguably one of the biggest platforms out there, with over 150 million potential viewers and we believe partnering with Best Ever Channels and Freevee is the best way to deliver on our brand promise to music fans everywhere.”

SPIN is one of the most recognized and respected music brands in the world, so it only makes sense to launch our new channel on the biggest stage in streaming,” said BEC co-CEO Barry Gordon. “Our partners at Amazon Freevee understand the power of the SPIN brand, and together we’ll reach a massive audience of fans hungry to connect with their favorite artists and the most authentic voice in music editorial.”

BEC’s growing lineup of FAST offerings includes its recently launched comedy channel, WITZ-Comedy TV; health, wealth, and wisdom channels Moreu, Commune, and Cinema Libre; cult film and television fan favorites Action!!! And Trailers From Hell; Carl Jackson-produced The Grid and CJC channels; and classic film and television channel Best TV Ever.

Amazon Freevee, formerly known as IMDb TV, is a streaming video service with thousands of premium movies and TV shows, including originals and FAST channels, available anytime, for free.