Opeka, Two Other Execs Promoted at Cinedigm

Cinedigm Corp. on Jan. 12 announced the promotion of Erick Opeka to chief strategy officer in addition to his current responsibilities as president of Digital Networks.

Opeka has 18 years of experience as an executive in entertainment and technology. As president of Cinedigm Networks, he oversees the
development, planning, launch and operation of the company’s portfolio of linear, ad-supported and subscription streaming services that reach more than 15 million monthly users across nearly 900 million addressable devices.

In addition to his role at Cinedigm, Opeka is on the board of directors and executive committee of OTT.X, the trade group representing the
streaming industry, and serves as an advisor to numerous streaming and entertainment companies through his work with seed accelerator Techstars.

He is also a member of the Producers Guild of America and the Television Academy of Arts & Sciences.

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Cinedigm also announced the promotions of two other executives. Gary Loffredo adds the title of president to his current roles as chief operating officer, general counsel and secretary of Cinedigm Corp. And Yolana Macias has been upped to chief content officer of the Cinedigm Entertainment Group. She previously was EVP for the group.

“We have expanded these key roles for the senior leadership team to fully capitalize on the tremendous growth we are experiencing in our digital streaming business,” said Chris McGurk, Cinedigm chairman and CEO. “I am fully confident that we now have the best leadership team in place to
rapidly grow the business and expand our leadership position in streaming channels, content and technology.

“All aspects of our streaming business are already experiencing strong growth, from our ad-based channels to our viewership and paid subscriber base to our digital content licensing business, and this team is now perfectly focused and aligned to further expand that growth operationally, strategically and through the acquisition roll-up initiative of streaming assets we are currently pursuing.”

Annual ‘Media Play News’ Awards Expands to Streaming, Gets New Name

Media Play News is revamping its annual home entertainment awards to add categories for streaming services, including original movies and series, in addition to content released for digital sellthrough and on disc formats such as Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.

As a result, the program will also be presented under the updated name “Home Entertainment Media Play Awards.”

“Digital original programming offered by streaming services has become a vital part of the home entertainment industry, and we want our awards to reflect that reality,” said Media Play News publisher Thomas K. Arnold.

For the past 10 years the honors were presented by Media Play News and a predecessor publication under the Home Media Awards banner, which had consolidated a number of DVD and Blu-ray awards presented before then.

Studios, content distributors and streaming services may submit nominations for the awards here through Feb. 26.

Fans can vote on the nominations in March and the winners will be announced in April.

Details about categories and submission guidelines are now available at MediaPlayNews.com/awards/home-entertainment-submission-form.

In last year’s awards, which were limited to the transactional segment of the home entertainment business, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood earned the top prize, taking Title of the Year and Best Theatrical Home Release.

Blu-ray Disc of the Year went to Lionsgate’s Apocalypse Now: Final Cut, which also won Best Catalog Home Release and Best Box Art. HBO’s Game of Thrones: The Complete Series won TV on Disc of the Year and Best Packaging.

Streaming Concert Series in 3D Audio Launches on New Lemonade.tv+ Platform

SoundFi has announced the launch of the first-ever streaming concert series in 3D audio on Lemonade.tv+, a new online and mobile platform.

The move marks an expansion of the availability of SoundFi’s 3D spatial audio format from movie theaters into the home.

SoundFi CEO Chris Anastas said Lemonade.tv+ is designed to enable the global creative community to seamlessly go live so they can promote and share their music. Fans can not only experience binaural audio while watching concerts, but also interact with artists and other fans, watch exclusive behind-the-scenes interviews, purchase limited-edition merchandise and more.

Similar to the SoundFi theatrical experience for moviegoers, no special hardware or software is required; in fact, any pair of headphones or ear pods can be used to listen to content in SoundFi. Lemonade.tv+ is free and available everywhere on all devices (except Android, which is still in beta).

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“Now more than ever, the audio experience is increasingly important as we spend more time in headphones streaming on devices,” Anastas said. “We designed Lemonade.tv+ to bring consumers an easy way to enhance their entertainment experience, just by connecting their headphones to activate our 3D spatial sound technology.

“We pivoted quickly in March to see how we could bring this state-of-the-art technology into the homes and onto the mobile devices and laptops of every consumer, and we’re thrilled to launch.”

The Lemonade.tv+ platform is launching with a “SundaySessions”  virtual concert series featuring artists with the Texas Music Project, an organization that supports music education in schools. All proceeds from the concerts will benefit the Music Heals Program at Texas Children’s Hospital.  Virtual concerts will run into 2021.

“Lemonade.tv+ presents an opportunity to connect with fans like they’re in the studio with me, and that means so much at a time when we’re all longing for connection during the pandemic,” artist Hayley Orrantia said.  “As an ambassador and long-term partner with the Texas Music Project, I could not be prouder to be part of this program to bring smiles to everyone. The realistic live sound is incredible, and I’m so excited for my fans to hear some new music I’ve been working on, too.”

Sponsored by Sennheiser and Taylor Guitars, fans will be able to donate as well as participate in a virtual tip jar and giveaway for a GS mini guitar.

Later, the Lemonade.tv+ platform will offer movies, music, virtual concerts, eSports and additional exclusive events throughout 2020 and into 2021.

Giant Pictures, Collective Eye Team to Distribute Indie Docs to Educational Market

Giant Pictures is entering the educational market through a distribution partnership with Collective Eye Films.

The two companies will jointly distribute independent documentaries to the educational market. Films also will be available through digital retailers like iTunes, Amazon, FandangoNow as well as educational streaming services such as Kanopy and various SVOD/AVOD platforms.

Nick Savva

The multiyear agreement kicks off with The Passengers, a feature documentary that tells the story of the final community of Ethiopian Jews and its struggle to emigrate to Israel. The film was an Official Selection of the IDA 2019 and the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival 2020.

Other titles headed for joint digital and streaming distribution include The Vanishing Trial, a documentary produced by the NADCL and FAMM about the issues with mandatory minimum sentencing, and The Burning Field, a look at life in an environmental wasteland through the eyes of four young Ghanaians. The Burning Field, from filmmaker Justin Weinrich, won the Asja.energy Award for Best International Documentary and was named Best Environmental Film by Docs Without Borders in 2019 and Best Documentary at the Eugene Film Festival 2020.

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Collective Eye Films also will handle educational market sales, outside of streaming, on select library titles from Giant Pictures, such as Iron Fists and Kung Fu Kicks, on the history of Hong Kong martial arts cinema and its influence; Our New President, the story of Donald Trump’s election told entirely through Russian propaganda; The Panama Papers, an exposé of the rogue offshore finance industry from director Alex Winter; Rigged: The Voter Suppression Playbook, about voter suppression in U.S. presidential elections; and There’s Something in the Water, from producer Ellen Page, on the struggle of minority communities in Nova Scotia as they fight officials over the lethal effects of industrial waste.

James-Michael Boyer

“These films are ideally suited for online learning, a market that has really flourished during the pandemic,” says Nick Savva, GM of Giant Pictures.

“The documentary collection at Giant Interactive is well suited for our audience. Our goal is to bring impactful films to classrooms around the world,” said James-Michael Boyer, director of operations at Collective Eye Films.

Sony Pictures Romcom ‘Broken Hearts Gallery’ Due on Digital Nov. 10, Blu-ray and DVD Nov. 17

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has set home release dates for The Broken Hearts Gallery, a romantic comedy executive produced by Selena Gomez.

The film will be released through digital retailers on Nov. 10, with a Blu-ray Disc and DVD release on Nov. 17.

Written and directed by Natalie Krinsky, the film follows a young art gallery assistant in New York City who after breaking up with her latest boyfriend creates a pop-up exhibit of mementos from prior relationships. The cast includes  Geraldine Viswanathan, Dacre Montgomery, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Molly Gordon, Phillipa Soo and Bernadette Peters.

The film was theatrically released in the United States on Sept. 11, 2020, and earned just over $4 million.

Bonus features on the home releases include a gag reel and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film.

OTT.X Trade Group Announces ‘Impact Awards’ for Streamers

OTT.X, the industry trade association for streaming, on Oct. 13 opened submissions to the inaugural OTT.X Impact Awards.

The OTT.X Impact Awards is a program created by and for the over-the-top streaming industry to recognize creators, producers, platforms and channels who are using the power of streaming video to make a positive impact, the trade association says.

Submissions are being accepted at ottximpactawards.org through Nov. 9, 2020, for audio-visual works that premiere and are distributed through OTT channels and platforms. Nominations will be announced Nov. 16 and awards will be made at the annual OTT.X @Digital Media Pipeline on Dec. 10, 2020.