Amazon on Top in Harris Reputation Poll

Amazon took the top spot in the 2018 Harris Poll Reputation Quotient Rankings.

Disney ranked high at No. 5, and Netflix, at No. 21, beat out fellow tech giants Google and Apple, ranked Nos. 28 and 29, respectively.

Among mass merchant/consumer electronics retailers, Costco (No. 17) topped Best Buy (No. 46), Target (No. 49) and Walmart (No. 69).

According to Harris, the Reputation Quotient is “technically designed to understand how a company is perceived in modern culture.” The measure takes the top most visible companies (for good or bad reasons) and evaluates them across six dimensions of corporate reputation attributes to arrive at a corporate reputation ranking. If a company is not on the list, it does not necessarily suggest that they have either good or bad reputation, but rather they didn’t reach a critical level of visibility to be measured.

The Weinstein Co., which has been embroiled in executive Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual assault scandal, and Takata, with its infamously defective airbags, came in last on the list at Nos. 99 and 100, respectively.

Movies Anywhere Offers Music-Only Version of ‘Last Jedi’

A score-only version of Star Wars: The Last Jedi with an audio track that isolates composer John Williams’ music is available exclusively on Movies Anywhere for a limited time to those who link a digital purchase of the film to the service.

The Lucasfilm blockbuster distributed by Walt Disney Studios debuted on digital March 13 and arrives on Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray March 27.

Movies Anywhere March 12 added FandangoNow to its list of retail partners, which also include Amazon Video, Google Play, iTunes and Walmart-owned Vudu. The digital movie rights locker service features content from Disney, Sony Pictures, 20th Century Fox Film, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros.

Netflix Original Documentary Series on Bobby Kennedy Debuts April 27

Netflix will bow the original documentary series Bobby Kennedy for President globally on April 27.

The announcement was made on the same day Robert F. Kennedy declared his candidacy for president of the United States in the U.S. senate caucus room 50 years ago on March 16, 1968.

Dawn Porter directs the four-part series exploring the legacy of RFK, who served the country as attorney general and senator and, as a candidate for president, was assassinated on June 6, 1968, at age 42. The series utilizes rare and never-before-seen archival footage — much of it digitized for the first time — along with new interviews with those that worked closely with RFK and knew him well, including Harry Belafonte, Rep. John Lewis, Rep. Neil Gallagher, Dolores Huerta, Ambassador William Vanden Heuvel, Paul Schrade, Franklin A. Thomas, William Arnone, Marian Wright Edelman and Peter Edelman.

“I am honored that Netflix entrusted me with a story of this scale,” Porter said in a statement. “Bobby Kennedy remains one of the most important and influential figures in American political history, and we all felt that there was no better time to study his life and legacy. We take care to closely examine his transformation from law-and-order leader to a trailblazer with a progressive focus on civil rights and social justice in a tumultuous time for the country. I gravitate to making films that shed a light on truth and justice, and RFK’s story inspires me personally, and has helped me grow as a filmmaker and a citizen.”

Research: Increase in Digital Antenna Use Indicates Cord Cutting

The percentage of U.S. broadband households that use digital antennas in their home has steadily increased, reaching 20% near the end of 2017, up from 16% in early 2015, according to new consumer research by Parks Associates.

The increase coincides with a steady decline in pay-TV subscriptions and an increase in OTT video subscriptions, according to the report, “360 View: Access and Entertainment and Broadband Households.”

“Increasingly, consumers are cobbling together their own bundles of content sources. Digital antennas are experiencing a resurgence as consumers consider over-the-air TV and OTT video services as alternatives to pay TV,” said Brett Sappington, senior director of research, Parks Associates. “The percentage of ‘Never’ households (households that have never subscribed to pay-TV services) has held steady, and the percentage of households actually cutting the cord has increased between 2015 and 2017. Antennas are an affordable source for local channels to these households.”

Parks Associates noted that high cost and low price/value perception dominate the reasons for service cancellation and bundle shaving. More than 50% of the households that have switched, shaved or cut the cord cite the service is “not worth the cost,” according to Parks Associates.

“Pay-TV providers need to address this value perception gap and re-establish their role as the consumers’ source for interesting content,” Sappington said. “Opportunities are available. Only 46% of pay-TV subscribers are aware that they can access video-on-demand content from their operator, including free programming. Many indicate that they want to purchase online video services through their pay-TV provider and to access the service through their channel guide.”

The report also found:

  • 63% of subscribers who cannot currently restart programs from the beginning find that feature to be appealing;
  • 17% of consumers who cancel their pay-TV service would have stayed with their provider if there were no monthly fees for their set-top boxes;
  • Average fees for standalone broadband have increased nearly 25% since 2010; and
  • 20% of Wi-Fi households experience problems with coverage in their home.

Documentary ‘Hobbyhorse Revolution’ From Oscar-Nominated Filmmaker Due on Digital April 24

Oscar-nominated filmmaker Selma Vilhunen’s latest documentary, Hobbyhorse Revolution, will hit digital services April 24 from Filmrise.

It will be available for sale and rental on Amazon Video, iTunes,  Google Play and Vudu.

The documentary spotlights a group of bullied teenage girls from Finland who spark a new organized sport called “hobbyhorsing” into a national obsession, igniting a global fascination. Visually unusual and sometimes amusing to the spectator, hobbyhorse competitors strive to place in equestrian style jumping and dressage events while riding their personalized homemade stick horses. The film’s worldwide festival release has generated features about the sport appearing in The Wall Street Journal, on ESPN and on the talk show “Ellen.” Finland now boasts more than 10,000 hobbyhorse competitors between the ages of 10-18 with leagues and competitions beginning to sprout in the United States.

Hobbyhorse Revolution had its North American premiere at the 2016 Hot Docs Festival, won the Main Prize and the Risto Jerva Prize at the Tempere Film Festival and was an Official Selection at the Visions Du Reel Festival.

Oscars Provide Boost to Fandango, FandangoNow

Academy Awards season has been good to Fandango and its on-demand service FandangoNow.

For the second consecutive year, the company offered a special Awards Season gift card — good for tickets to see the Oscar contenders on the big screen (via Fandango) or at home (via FandangoNow).

By the time the Oscar ceremony aired, FandangoNow had seven of the nine Best Picture nominees available on the service.

“It definitely provided several of our biggest weekends in the history of FandangoNow,” said Fandango SVP Adam Rockmore.

It was also a benefit for customers who wanted to visit theaters.

“We’re a company that has one very specific goal, which is we want consumers to consume movies,” Rockmore said. “And we think that if we can get more people into the theater that bodes well for home entertainment and if we can get more people to watch at home that actually helps theatrical so it a virtuous cycle.”

Oscar-lauded films were front and center on the site, employing a strategy of curation that the company uses with other subjects as well.

“We continue to make sure that we’re staying very topical in things that are happening in the space — like Oscars,” Rockmore said. “At the same time, we’ll continue putting out really great curated lists from Rotten Tomatoes [a sister site] or other things that we think are in the pop culture.”

The site promotes previous installments of franchises, such as “Fifty Shades” and the Marvel universe, with the release of the latest theatrical release.

“Because we are a theatrical and at home service we always make sure we tie together the theatrical release to whatever the franchise is so, in effect, we’re drafting on the history,” he said.

Upcoming Titles on FandangoNOW

  1. Father Figures (Owen Wilson) – 3/20/2018

  2. The Greatest Showman* (Hugh Jackman) – 3/20/2018

  3. Insidious: The Last Key* (Lin Shaye) – 3/20/2018

  4. Proud Mary* (Taraji P. Henson) – 3/27/2018

  5. All The Money In The World* (Christopher Plummer) – 3/27/2018

  6. Paddington 2* (Hugh Grant) – 3/27/2018

  7. Phantom Thread* (Daniel Day-Lewis) – 3/27/2018

  8. Condorito: The Movie (Omar Chaparro) – 3/27/2018

  9. The Post* (Meryl Streep) – 4/3/2018

  10. The Commuter (Liam Neeson) – 4/3/2018

  11. Forever My Girl (Alex Roe) – 4/10/2018

  12. Hostiles (Rosamund Pike) – 4/10/2018

  13. Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool (Annette Bening) – 4/24/2018

  14. The Insult (Adel Karam) – 5/1/2018

*Indicates 4K Ultra HD availability


Top Movies on FandangoNOW

  1. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle* (Dwayne Johnson)

  2. Thor: Ragnarok* (Chris Hemsworth)

  3. Coco* (Gael Garcia Bernal)

  4. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Frances McDormand)

  5. The Shape of Water (Sally Hawkins)

  6. I, Tonya (Margot Robbie)

  7. Pitch Perfect 3* (Anna Kendrick)

  8. Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan)

  9. Darkest Hour* (Gary Oldman)

  10. Justice League (2017)* (Gal Gadot)

*Indicates 4K Ultra HD availability


Top TV Shows on FandangoNOW

  1. “The Walking Dead”

  2. “Game of Thrones”

  3. “Atlanta”

  4. “Riverdale”

  5. “Survivor”

  6. “Shameless”

  7. “The Big Bang Theory”

  8. “The Blacklist”

  9. “Street Outlaws”

  10. “American Crime Story”

MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe Clarifies Location Tracking Comments

After Media Play News reported data tracking comments from MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe March 2 at a Los Angeles conference, numerous news outlets picked up on the quote: “We watch how you drive from home to the movies.”

The full quote reads as follows: “We get an enormous amount of information. Since we mail you the card, we know your home address, of course, we know the makeup of that household, the kids, the age groups, the income. It’s all based on where you live. It’s not that we ask that. You can extrapolate that. Then because you are being tracked in your GPS by the phone, our patent basically turns on and off our payment system by hooking that card to the device ID on your phone, so we watch how you drive from home to the movies. We watch where you go afterwards, and so we know the movies you watch. We know all about you. We don’t sell that data. What we do is we use that data to market film.”

In response to the reaction to Lowe’s comments on tracking, Lowe wrote an open letter to MoviePass customers:

“While speaking at a conference in Los Angeles, through a mix of exuberance about our future and joking around, I mischaracterized how MoviePass locates our members and I need to fix that. It has raised a lot of concerns and I understand why.

First and foremost, I apologize for these comments and the concern they caused. At MoviePass, we take customer privacy extremely seriously. I would like to eliminate any misconceptions that we’re collecting location related data.

The MoviePass app currently uses standard location services capabilities on an opt-in basis. There are only two events that would prompt MoviePass to identify a member’s location. These include when a member requests to search for theaters nearby and when a member requests to check into a theater. Both events require both the app to be open and for the member to request the action.

MoviePass does not track and has never tracked or collected data on the location of our members at any point when the app is not active. In our recent update with Apple, we removed the background tracking capabilities. MoviePass does not use and has never used this feature.

Our goal at MoviePass has always been to encourage people to see more movies as they were meant to be seen — in the theater. We want to make our service available at a price anyone can afford and everyone can enjoy. While we do create partnerships with theaters and studios in which we offer statistical data on ticket use and other trends, we never share our members’ identities or personal information or personal data with anyone.

MoviePass takes its members’ privacy extremely seriously, and our current Terms of Use and Privacy Policy accurately state the ways in which we use data. If, in the future, MoviePass desires to expand how it uses data, we will amend our Privacy Policy and notify our members so that they will be afforded the opportunity to opt in or opt out of the MoviePass service. This is what our customers expect, what the law requires, and how we’ve always handled data. We want to assure everyone that we treat our members’ data with the utmost sensitivity. Your trust and enjoyment are the lifeblood of our service.”

Sci-fi Classic ‘The Matrix’ Coming May 22 in 4K UHD Blu-ray Combo Pack and Digital

Sci-fi action classic The Matrix will be released in a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack and on digital May 22 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Directed by the Wachowski brothers and starring Keanu Reeves as Neo, Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus and Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity, the 1999 film won four Academy Awards and revolutionized the sci-fi action film genre. The film was the first to sell more than 1 million DVDs and is included on multiple lists of the top sci-fi films of all time. In 2012, it was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being culturally, historically and aesthetically significant.

The Matrix 4K UHD release is from a new scan of the original camera negative and is the first remaster of the film in nearly 15 years. Bill Pope, the film’s director of photography, supervised the 4K UHD remaster. A remastered Blu-ray disc from the new 4K scan is also included in the combo pack.

The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc of The Matrix will feature Dolby Vision HDR that dramatically expands the color palette and contrast range and uses dynamic metadata to automatically optimize the picture for every screen — frame by frame. The 4K UHD Blu-ray and Blu-ray discs will feature a Dolby Atmos soundtrack remixed specifically for the home theater environment.

The combo pack retails at $41.99 and features a UHD Blu-ray disc and digitally remastered Blu-ray disc.

The 4K, Blu-ray and digital versions of the film will include more than three hours of previously released extras. The 4K UHD disc and the digitally remastered Blu-ray will include the previously released written intro from the Wachowskis and four commentaries. The bonus disc will include the other previously released special features.

The Matrix Ultra HD Blu-ray contains the following previously released special features:

  • A written Introduction by the Wachowskis;
  • “Philosopher” commentary by Dr. Cornel West and Ken Wilbur;
  • “Critics” commentary by Todd McCarthy, John Powers and David Thomson;
  • “Cast & Crew” commentary by Carrie-Anne Moss, Zach Staenberg and John Gaeta; and
  • “Composer” commentary by Don Davis with the music only track.

The Matrix Blu-ray contains the following previously released special features:

  • “The Matrix Revisited”;
  • “Follow the White Rabbit”;
  • “Take the Red Pill”;
  • Marilyn Manson “Rock is Dead” Music Video;
  • A teaser trailer;
  • The theatrical trailer; and
  • TV spots.

The Matrix 4K UHD digital version ($29.99) will be available to own for streaming and download to watch anywhere in high definition and standard definition on favorite devices from select digital retailers including GooglePlay, Vudu, Xbox and others, and will be made available digitally on video-on-demand services from cable and satellite providers and on select gaming consoles.

‘Winchester’ Due on Digital April 17, Disc May 1

Winchester, a haunted house story starring Helen Mirren, arrives on digital April 17 and on Blu-ray Combo Pack (plus DVD and Digital), DVD and on demand May 1 from Lionsgate.

The film has tallied $24.9 million at the box office.

Inspired by true events, Winchester follows eccentric heiress Sarah Winchester (Mirren), who resides in a house that has been under construction for decades on an isolated stretch of land outside of San Francisco. She is not building for herself. She is building an asylum for hundreds of vengeful ghosts.

The Winchester Blu-ray Combo Pack ($39.99) and DVD ($29.95) include a “making of” featurette, “Driven by the Spirits: The Making of Winchester,” which features cast and crew interviews.

Sling TV Updates Roku Navigation

Dish Network-owned Sling TV has launched new updates on Roku devices for easier navigation.

With in-app upgrades, customers can now add extras and premium channels to their account within the app by selecting their desired content from the in-app upgrades ribbon under “Add Channels & More” on the My TV screen.

Customers can now add on-demand channels to MyChannels, including Nat Geo Wild, Fandor, as well as on-demand content from NBC and Fox for Sling Blue customers who do not live in a market where linear content is available.

Favorite channels (indicated by a heart in the guide) are now shown first at the top of the “Grid Guide” and on the left of the “Channel Guide” and the new “Micro Guide.”

The company has reduced the size of the guide (called the “Micro Guide”) that appears while watching a show, so it takes up less of the screen. The full guide is still available by pressing “down” on the remote’s D-pad when watching a title.

Sling TV has changed the full-screen video navigation, so now pushing “up” on the D-pad will bring up the “Micro Guide” and pushing “down” on the D-pad will now bring up the old guide.

When pressing the “Exit” button on the remote, customers will now see a pop-up giving them the option to go back to their show or movie instead of leaving Sling TV.

To aid binge-viewing, Sling TV has updated the player view so when customers are watching an on-demand title, the app will automatically go back to the franchise page of the show they watched.

The changes are detailed on Sling TV’s blog.

Separately, Dish has selected The Richards Group as its new creative agency of record. The Dallas-based Richards Group was chosen following a comprehensive agency review.

“The Richards Group brings to the table a history of successful campaigns, breakthrough creative and a unique set of capabilities necessary to take the Dish brand forward,” Jay Roth, CMO and SVP of Dish, said in a statement. “Throughout the agency review process, Dish and The Richards Group discovered natural synergies between our two founder-led organizations, and we’re eager to bring the results of this partnership to market.”