‘The Owners’ Due on Disc Oct. 20

The thriller The Owners will come out Oct. 20 on DVD and Blu-ray from AMC Networks’ RLJE Films.

The film stars  Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones,” The New Mutants),  Sylvester McCoy  (The Hobbit franchise, “Doctor Who”),  Jake Curran (Spotless”, Stardust),  Ian Kenny  (Solo: A Star Wars Story, Sing Street),  Andrew Ellis  (Teen Spirit, “This Is England”) and Rita Tushingham  (“The Pale Horse,” Vera). The film is directed by Julius Berg (“The Forest,” “Mata  Hari”) who co-wrote the film with  Matthieu Gompel (The Dream Kids).

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In The Owners, a group of friends think they found the perfect easy score — an empty house with a safe full of cash. But when the elderly couple that lives there comes home early the tables are suddenly turned. As a deadly game of cat and mouse ensues the would-be thieves are left to fight to save themselves from a nightmare they could never have imagined.

Bonus features include a making-of featurette.

PBS Masterpiece Launches on Amazon Prime Video Channels for Canada

PBS Distribution Sept. 15 launched its streaming channel PBS Masterpiece on Amazon Prime Video Channels for Canada.

“We have seen tremendous consumer demand and subscription growth since we launched PBS Masterpiece on Amazon Prime Video Channels in the United States in May of 2017,” said Andrea Downing, co-president of PBS Distribution, in a statement. “This expansion allows our committed and loyal Masterpiece fan base in Canada to enjoy these high-quality, award winning programs whenever they like.”

The channel launches with popular Masterpiece programs such as “Sanditon,” “Endeavour,” “Home Fires,” “Inspector Lewis,” “Poldark” and “Victoria.”

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In addition to Masterpiece programming, the channel will also offer titles from the Walter Presents library of series from countries all over the world, subtitled in English, marking the debut of Walter Presents programs to Canadian audiences. Titles include the highest-rated drama in Denmark, “Seaside Hotel,” and crime thriller/mysteries “Professor T,” “Though Shall Not Kill” and “Before we Die,” among many others.

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“I am genuinely thrilled to be launching Walter Presents in Canada, with its rich, bi-lingual culture and its history of active engagement with the world as well as its long-standing appreciation of world drama,” said Walter Iuzzolino, co-founder and curator of Walter Presents, in a statement. “I know Canadian audiences will embrace our collection of quality, award-winning series with a sense of curiosity and with real gusto.”

The subscription rate for PBS Masterpiece in Canada will be CDN $6.99 per month plus applicable taxes with an Amazon Prime membership.

Ampere: Delays of Scripted Content to Last Well Into 2021

Producers of new scripted content — which typically spends an average of 11 months in production — will be battling against COVID-related delays well into 2021, far longer than their unscripted counterparts, according to a study from Ampere Analysis.

While producers of new unscripted content — which spends an average of just two months in production — have been able to adapt production to the new circumstances, already overcoming the worst period of delays, the same is not true for their scripted counterparts, according to the analysis.

Compensating for the lack of new high-quality scripted content, unscripted commissions increased from 66% in Q2 2019 to 72% in Q2 2020. Reality shows benefitted the most from this trend with 24% more titles commissioned in Q2 2020 than in Q2 2019.

The temporary stop in production also forced programmers to air older and less popular content to fill gaps, and some have turned to unscripted material to pad their schedules, according to Ampere.

While the proportion of new content aired dropped steadily over Q1 and Q2 2020, unscripted content has already made a rapid recovery, with new titles representing a higher proportion of primetime series than before COVID-19. However, the proportion of new scripted primetime shows has yet to return to pre-COVID levels.

Meanwhile, linear viewers in the U.S. and U.K. rated comedy, crime and thriller, sport, drama, and sci-fi and fantasy as their top five genres in Q1 and Q2 2020 — the same period that saw a considerable decrease in the proportion of new titles aired for all five genres.

“At the time of writing, almost half of all scripted commissions from the first half of 2019 had yet to be released, highlighting the long production periods for scripted shows and the impact of exposure to the COVID-linked production hiatus,” Ampere stated. “As a consequence, delays for scripted titles ordered in the same period in 2020 — also exposed to the production shutdown — will run well into 2021.”

The firm noted BBC’s “Staged,” one of the few scripted drama titles to be produced during lockdown, has already been licensed in multiple markets, illustrating demand for fresh new scripted shows. The series, starring David Tennant and Michael Sheen,  follows actors whose play has been put on hold due to COVID-19, but whose director has persuaded them to continue rehearsing online.

While the production of some scripted genres such as drama and romance can often be expedited, the ability to shorten the often lengthy post-production process for genres such as action and adventure, sci-fi and fantasy, and horror — while maintaining output quality — will be key to limiting the onward impact of the pandemic, the research firm stated. Programmers that can air the highest volume of new scripted content, through commissions or acquisitions, in the next 12 months will win over consumers, the firm concluded.

“COVID-19 has hit the production of high-quality, scripted content most severely, and producers will be fighting delays well into 2021,” said Ampere analyst Olivia Deane. “Linear programmers know that viewers won’t accept poor quality content and repeats indefinitely, and they will lose consumers to both broadcast and on-demand competitors if they don’t address the situation fast.

“This is particularly problematic for channels that offer a high proportion of original scripted content. To maintain a competitive edge, they will need to adjust their acquisition models to compete in the race to broadcast new, high-quality content. This suggests a time to shine for independent studios with scripted projects already in the pipeline. However, with indies facing their own delays, it’s likely that supply will be outweighed by demand for the foreseeable future.”

Doc ‘Rewind’ and Drama ‘Driveways’ Due on Disc and Digital Sept. 15 From FilmRise and MVD

The documentary Rewind and the drama Driveways are coming to Blu-ray, DVD and digital Sept. 15 from FilmRise and MVD Entertainment Group.

Driveways: Special Edition (2019), starring the late Brian Dennehy (Tommy Boy), follows a lonesome boy who accompanies his mother on a trip to clean out his late aunt’s house, where he ends up forming an unexpected friendship with the retiree who lives next door. From director Andrew Ahn (Spa Night), Driveways also stars Hong Chau (Downsizing), Lucas Jaye (“Fuller House”), Christine Ebersole (The Wolf of Wall Street) and Jerry Adler (Find Me Guilty). The film was an Official Selection at festivals worldwide, including the Tribeca Film Festival, the Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival, the Seattle International Film Festival and the Berlin International Fest. Extras include a photo gallery and theatrical trailer.

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In the documentary Rewind (2019), digging through the vast collection of his father’s home videos, a young man reconstructs the unthinkable story of his boyhood and exposes vile abuse passed through generations. The film was an Official Selection at the Tribeca Film Festival, the Heartland International Film Festival and the Palm Springs International Film Festival. Extras include a filmmaker interview with Sasha Joseph Neulinger, a photo gallery and the theatrical trailer.

‘Bill & Ted’ Continues Adventure Atop Vudu and FandangoNow Charts

Bill & Ted Face the Music topped both the FandangoNow and Vudu charts for a third consecutive week in the week ended Sept. 13.

Both are transactional video-on-demand services owned by Fandango.

Bill & Ted Face the Music, the third installment in the “Bill & Ted” series, debuted via premium VOD rental and purchase Aug. 28. In the Orion Pictures film, the stakes are higher than ever for the time-traveling William “Bill” S. Preston Esq. (Alex Winter) and Theodore “Ted” Logan (Keanu Reeves). To fulfill their rock and roll destiny, the now middle-aged best friends set out on a new adventure when a visitor from the future warns them that only their song can save life as we know it.

The Tax Collector, starring Bobby Soto and Shia LaBeouf, again landed at No. 2 on the Vudu chart, but fell from No. 5 to No. 6 on the FandangoNow chart for the week. Released by RLJ Entertainment through digital retailers Aug. 7, it stars LaBeouf and Soto as “tax collectors” working for a Los Angeles crime lord who find their safety threatened by a rival of their boss.

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Fatima, available via premium VOD, again landed at No. 2 on the FandangoNow chart, but fell to No. 9 from No. 8 on the Vudu chart. The Universal drama, based on historical events in Portugal in 1917, follows a 10-year-old girl and her two young cousins who witness visitations of the Virgin Mary.

Universal Pictures’ The King of Staten Island, a Judd Apatow comedy based on the life of and starring Pete Davidson of “Saturday Night Live,” remained at No. 3 on Vudu’s chart and at No. 4 on FandangoNow’s chart for the week.

The action thriller The 2nd, which came out Sept. 1, again took the bronze on FandangoNow’s chart for the week. In the film, Ryan Phillippe plays a secret service agent on his way to pick up his estranged son from his college campus when he finds himself in the middle of a terrorist operation.

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FandangoNow’s top 10 titles for the week ended Sept. 13, in terms of revenue, were:

  1. Bill & Ted Face the Music
  2. Fatima
  3. The 2nd
  4. The King of Staten Island
  5. Guest House
  6. The Tax Collector
  7. The Owners
  8. The Silencing
  9. Irresistible
  10. Critical Thinking

 

Vudu’s top 10 titles for the week ended Sept. 13, in terms of revenue, were:

  1. Bill & Ted Face the Music
  2. The Tax Collector
  3. The King of Staten Island
  4. The Blues Brothers
  5. The Silencing
  6. The Owners
  7. Sonic the Hedgehog
  8. Rogue
  9. Fatima
  10. Trolls World Tour

‘Julie and the Phantoms’ Top Rising Show, ‘Lucifer’ Again Top Binge on TV Time Charts

Netflix’s “Julie and the Phantoms” was the top rising show, while the service’s “Lucifer” was again the top binge on the TV Time charts for the week ended Sept. 13.

Top rising show “Julie and the Phantoms,” from Emmy and DGA award-winning director and choreographer Kenny Ortega (High School Musical, Descendants) and choreographer Paul Becker (Descendants, Mirror Mirror), hit screens Sept. 10. It follows high schooler Julie (Madison Reyes), who has lost her passion for music after her mom’s death. When the ghosts of three dreamy musicians (Charlie Gillespie, Owen Patrick Joyner, Jeremy Shada) from 1995 suddenly appear in her mom’s old music studio, Julie feels her own inner spirit beginning to reawaken, and she’s inspired to start singing and writing songs again.

Coming in at No. 2 on the rising show chart was Netflix’s “The Gift,” season two of which hit screens Sept. 10. Based on the book, the Turkish series follows a painter in Istanbul who embarks on a personal journey as she unearths universal secrets about an Anatolian archaeological site and its link to her past.

No. 3 on the rising show chart was another Netflix series, “Family Business,” season two of which debuted Sept. 11. In the French comedy, after learning France is about to legalize pot, a down-on-his-luck entrepreneur and his family race to turn their butcher shop into a marijuana café.

Season five of top binge “Lucifer” hit Netflix Aug. 21. The fantasy series follows Lucifer’s exploits on Earth. No. 2 on the binge chart was again the perennial sitcom favorite “Modern Family,” while taking the bronze was another classic sitcom “The Office.”

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TV Time is a free TV viewership tracking app that tracks consumers’ viewing habits worldwide and is visited by more than 1 million consumers every day, according to the service. The weekly “Binge Report” ranks shows with the most binge sessions. A binge session is when four or more episodes of a show are watched and tracked in the app in a given day. The “Shows on the Rise” chart is calculated by determining the week-over-week growth in episodes watched for a given program. The network displayed is the network where the show first aired (e.g. “Friends” on NBC).

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Top “Shows on the Rise” Week Ended Sept. 13 by Rise Ratio:

  1. “Julie and the Phantoms” (Netflix) — 99.9%
  2. “The Gift” (Netflix) — 97.7%
  3. “Family Business” (Netflix) — 97%
  4. “Power Book II: Ghost” (Starz) — 94.1%
  5. “L.A.’s Finest” (Spectrum) — 85%
  6. “Spiral” (Canal+) — 80%
  7. “Away” (Netflix) — 65%
  8. “Raised by Wolves” (HBO Max) — 49.3%
  9. “Prison Break” (Fox) — 49.3%
  10. “All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur” (Amazon) — 48.4%

 

 Top Binge Shows Week Ended Sept. 13 by Share of Binges:

  1. “Lucifer” (Netflix) — 4.02%
  2. “Modern Family” (ABC) — 2.25%
  3. “The Office” (NBC) — 1.79%
  4. “The Umbrella Academy” (Netflix) — 1.60%
  5. “Friends” (NBC) — 1.50%
  6. “Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC) — 1.41%
  7. “Cobra Kai” (Netflix) — 1.34%
  8. “One Piece” (Fuji TV) — 1.26%
  9. “The Boys” (Amazon) — 1.17%
  10. “Trinkets” (Netflix) — 1.15%

‘Wonderful World of Mickey Mouse’ Shorts Coming to Disney+ Nov. 18

Mickey Mouse and friends are heading to Disney+ in the new animated shorts series “The Wonderful World of Mickey Mouse.”

From the team behind Disney Channel’s Emmy Award-winning “Mickey Mouse” cartoon shorts, the new Disney+ original series will debut on Mickey’s birthday, Nov. 18, with two new shorts rolling out every Friday beginning Nov. 27. Ten shorts will premiere this year, with 10 additional shorts set for summer 2021.

“The Wonderful World of Mickey Mouse” follows the adventures of Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy and Pluto. Each seven-minute short features the classic art style of the “Mickey Mouse” shorts and will include stories inspired by various lands at Disney parks and cameos by classic Disney heritage characters.

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Marked by a contemporary art style that harkens back to Mickey’s 1928 beginnings, the “Mickey Mouse” cartoon shorts premiered on Disney Channel in 2013 and ran for five seasons, consisting of a total of 96 episodes, and garnered seven Primetime Emmy Awards, two Daytime Emmy Awards and 21 Annie Awards. The shorts inspired a global line of consumer products, toys and clothing as well as the new attraction, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, the first ride-through attraction in Disney history starring Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, now open at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. All five seasons of the shorts are currently available to stream on Disney+.

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“The Wonderful World of Mickey Mouse” is produced by Disney Television Animation with Emmy Award-winning artist and director Paul Rudish serving as executive producer and supervising director. Christopher Willis, the Emmy Award-winning composer of the “Mickey Mouse” shorts, also provides the music for this series.

NPD Survey: Two Out of Three Consumers Interested in Buying 5G Smart Phone

Two out of three consumers are interested in purchasing a 5G smart phone, according to a report from the NPD Group.

Based on the report findings, iOS users showed higher levels of interest (40% extremely or very interested) than Android users (33% extremely or very interested).

While 5G technology has not yet been widely adopted, the majority of U.S. consumers were aware of 5G and the promise of super-fast data transmissions that enable superior multimedia streaming and enhanced gaming experiences on mobile devices, according to the survey. The latest Mobile Connectivity Report from NPD’s Connected Intelligence found nine out of 10 consumers were aware of 5G networks; however, only 18% had heard of and understand the difference between the 5G network band types such as mid-band or high-band (Millimeter Wave) currently available in the United States.

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Generally, Android users had a higher level of awareness of the varieties of 5G networks currently available, according to NPD. In fact, 45% of Android users compared to 40% of iOS users were aware that there are different 5G network options.

“5G-enabled Android devices have been available to consumers, which may explain their increased awareness of 5G flavors, while iOS users have not yet had the opportunity to upgrade to 5G. Given the stronger interest from iOS users, a 5G-enabled iPhone could help drive adoption” said Brad Akyuz, executive director, industry analyst, NPD Connected Intelligence. “On the other hand, the current premature state of 5G networks in terms of speed and coverage will continue to be a barrier in the mass adoption of 5G smartphones. 5G smartphone volumes are poised to increase as networks improve and 5G smartphone prices gradually decrease.”

Netflix Picks Up Zendaya Film ‘Malcolm & Marie’

Netflix has acquired the worldwide rights to Sam Levinson’s romantic drama Malcolm & Marie starring Zendaya and John David Washington.

“I am so grateful to this cast and crew, many of whom are my ‘Euphoria’ family, for coming together during such uncertain times,” director-writer-producer Levinson said in a statement. “We felt privileged to be able to make this film together and we did so with a lot of love. We are all thrilled that it has ended up with Netflix which is unparalleled in allowing filmmakers the freedom to tell their stories that reach audiences all over the world.”

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The story follows a filmmaker (Washington) and his girlfriend (Zendaya) who return home following a celebratory movie premiere as he awaits what’s sure to be imminent critical and financial success. The evening suddenly takes a turn as revelations about their relationships begin to surface, testing the strength of their love.

Concert Film ‘Judy Collins & Jonas Fjeld,’ Horror Film ‘Daddy’s Girl’ Coming to DVD in September from MVD, Cleopatra

Two films from Cleopatra Entertainment are coming on DVD in September from MVD Entertainment Group: the concert film Judy Collins & Jonas Fjeld and the horror film Daddy’s Girl.

Due Sept. 11 is Judy Collins & Jonas Fjeld. In the concert film, Judy Collins — along with Norwegian folk artist Jonas Fjeld and Americana band Chatham County Line — perform at the Oslo Opera House. Filmed in February 2020 on the heels of the newly formed groups’ studio release Winter Stories, the DVD and companion CD is a collection of classics, new tunes and a few surprises. Tracks include “Mountain Girl,” “City of New Orleans,” “Winter Stories,” “Sweet Refrain,” “Northwest Package,” “Wildwood,” “When Morning Comes to America,” “Hun Kom Som En Engel,” “River,” “Angels in the Snow,” “Highwayman,” “Frozen North,” “Bury Me With My Guitar On,” “Both Sides Now” and “Amazing Grace.”

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Coming Sept. 29 is Daddy’s Girl. In the horror film, Zoe is a young woman held captive by her stepfather after the suicide of her mother. A former Abu Ghraib prison guard and now prolific serial killer, her stepfather trawls local bars using Zoe as bait to attract new, young female victims. A string of missing persons soon captures the attention of a rookie cop and a vigilante who both attempt to catch the evasive and sadistic killer. Bonus features a slide show and trailer. The film’s director won Best Director at the 2019 International Fantasy Film Awards, and the film was nominated for Best Independent Feature Film by the National Film & Television Awards.