Comedy ‘Little’ Graduating to Digital June 25, Disc July 9 From Universal

The “body swap” comedy Little will arrive on digital (including Movies Anywhere) June 25 and Blu-Ray, DVD and on demand July 9 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

Regina Hall (Girls Trip, “Black Monday”) and Marsai Martin (“Black-ish”) star as Jordan Sanders — Hall as the take-no-prisoners tech mogul adult version of Jordan and Martin as the 13-year-old version of her who wakes up in her adult self’s penthouse just before a do-or-die presentation. Issa Rae (“Insecure,” The Hate You Give) plays Jordan’s long-suffering assistant April.

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Bonus features include a gag reel, behind-the-scenes featurettes, a “mockumentary” featuring Hall and a special “Assistant Survival Guide” presented by Rae.

Disney’s ‘Cinderella’ Waltzes to Digital June 18, Disc June 25 for Its 70th

For its upcoming 70th anniversary, Cinderella will waltz into the Walt Disney Signature Collection on digital HD (including Movies Anywhere) June 18 and Blu-ray and DVD June 25.

Recently added to the National Film Registry, the animated classic centers on kind and hardworking Cinderella, who is ordered around by her cruel stepmother and her awful stepsisters. When an invitation to the royal ball arrives, Cinderella is left at home. Just when Cinderella believes all is lost, her Fairy Godmother appears and with a wave of her wand transforms her night.

Cinderella is the ninth title to join the Walt Disney Signature Collection, which includes Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Beauty and the Beast, Pinocchio, Bambi, The Lion King, Lady and the Tramp, Peter Pan and The Little Mermaid.

The anniversary edition of Cinderella offers two new extras: Cinderella trivia and fun facts, hosted by Ruth Righi and Ava Kolker from Disney Channel’s “Sydney to the Max,” and “In Walt’s Words: Enhanced Edition,” a special edition of Cinderella featuring production details, original storyboards, archival photos, thumbnail sketches and transcripts throughout the feature film.

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Hours of previously released bonus materials celebrate the animation, music and impact of Cinderella, showcasing Walt Disney’s core group of animators, the art of Disney legend Mary Blair, the original demo recording of the film’s title song and Cinderella’s iconic glass slipper. They include:

  • Diane Disney Miller Cinderella film intro, in which Miller describes how Cinderella helped launch a studio renaissance;
  • “The Real Fairy Godmother,” about the real-life inspiration for the Fairy Godmother, Mary Alice O’Connor, wife of Disney layout artist Ken O’Connor;
  • “Behind the Magic: A New Disney Princess Fairyland,” showing how Imagineers created a Fantasyland at Walt Disney World featuring each of the Disney princesses; and
  • “The Magic of the Glass Slipper,” in which world-famous shoe designer Christian Louboutin creates a very exclusive “Glass Slipper” in honor of the Disney classic.

Video Streaming Widens Appeal Over Pay-TV Among Telecom Customers

Video streaming expanded its lead over subscription TV service in terms of customer satisfaction, rising to a score of 76 on the American Customer Satisfaction Index’s 100-point scale.

According to the ACSI Telecommunications Report 2018-2019, subscription TV service stagnated at 62, tied with internet service providers for last place among all industries tracked by the ACSI — subscription TV, ISPs, fixed-line telephone service, video-on-demand service and video streaming service.

Video streaming topped all industries tracked.

“Video streaming once again proves itself to be the best of the telecom industries in customer satisfaction,” said David VanAmburg, managing director at the ACSI. “Traditional telecom providers have tried to step up their game, but they’re not providing original content the way video streaming is, and in part they suffer guilt by association — if customers aren’t satisfied overall with Comcast, they’re probably going to ding Comcast’s on-demand service too.”

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Among video streaming services, Netflix secured first place at 79 after sharing the lead with Sony’s PlayStation Vue and Amazon Twitch the previous year. Netflix ranked at the top for original content among all streaming services, according to the ACSI. Sony’s PlayStation Vue landed in second place at 78, followed by the Microsoft Store at 77. Hulu stepped up to match Amazon Prime Video and Apple iTunes at 76. Five services clustered at 75: CBS All Access, Google Play, Amazon’s gaming platform Twitch, Walmart’s Vudu and Google’s YouTube. Dish Network’s Sling TV was the most improved, meeting HBO at 74. Starz matched the combined score of smaller platforms at 72, while Showtime followed close behind at 71. AT&T’s DirecTV Now fell to 69, ahead of only Sony Crackle, which remained unchanged at 68.

For the past six years, customer satisfaction with subscription TV has languished in the mid-to-low 60s, according to the study. AT&T’s U-verse TV held the lead for subscription TV at 69, followed by Verizon’s Fios at 68 and Dish Network at 67. AT&T’s satellite TV service DirecTV came in at 66, Altice’s Optimum tallied 61, and Charter’s Spectrum came in at 59 to tie with Cox Communications. Frontier Communications and Comcast’s Xfinity came in at 57. Mediacom followed closely at 56. Altice’s Suddenlink tumbles to the bottom of the category at 55.

Customer satisfaction with video-on-demand service slipped to an ACSI score of 67 as viewers continue to turn toward streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu, according to the study. AT&T’s U-verse TV service held the lead a year ago, but this year shared the top spot with Verizon’s Fios at a score of 72. Satellite provider Dish Network dropped to 71 but remained just ahead of DirecTV, unchanged at 70. Frontier Communications debuted in the category with a score of 67, in line with the industry average. Three decliners met at 66: Cox Communications, Altice’s Optimum and Comcast’s Xfinity. Charter’s Spectrum remains unchanged at the bottom of the category with a 64.

Unchanged at a score of 62, ISPs remain at the bottom of the ACSI rankings. Most ISPs are still falling short of providing good service at an affordable price, according to the ACSI release. Verizon’s Fios was stable at the top of the category with an ACSI score of 70, but AT&T Internet closed in at 69. Altice’s Optimum fell to 63 but remained the leader among coaxial providers. Meanwhile, Comcast’s Xfinity inched closer to the industry average at 61. Cox Communications tallied 60, tying Altice’s Suddenlink. Charter’s Spectrum and CenturyLink came in at 59.

Johnny Depp Comedy ‘The Professor’ to Debut on Disc and Digital July 16 From Lionsgate

The dark comedy The Professor, starring Johnny Depp, will arrive on Blu-ray (plus digital), DVD, and digital July 16 from Lionsgate.

In the film, Depp plays a college professor who decides to live his last chapter with reckless abandon after being diagnosed with a terminal illness. To the shock of his wife (Rosemarie DeWitt) and school chancellor (Ron Livingston) — and the delight of his students — he leads a hilarious crusade against authority and hypocrisy. The film also stars Zoey Deutch.

Bonus features include a making-of featurette.

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DEG Creates Advisory Board for Canon Club

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group May 20 announced the creation of an advisory board of senior executives for its Canon Club, an organization in which women at all levels and in all sectors of digital media share knowledge and build their business networks.

The 10 appointed Advisory Board members will provide input on Canon Club event programming, rotate as host at speaker-driven salons and social/networking events, serve as founding mentors in the “Four Cups of Coffee” mentoring network, and judge the annual Hedy Lamarr Awards for Women in Entertainment and Technology.

The advisory board will be led by chair Robin Tarufelli of Deloitte and vice chair Meri Hassouni of Giant Interactive. Other board members include Loren Nielsen, DTS; Sofia Chang, HBO (DEG board director); Dametra Johnson–Marletti, Microsoft (DEG board director); Karin Gilford, Movies Anywhere; Andrea Downing, PBS Distribution (DEG board director); Cheryl Goodman, Sony Electronics; Nadia Haney, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment; and Darcy Antonellis, Vubiquity.

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“I’m thrilled to work with these seasoned executives to take Canon Club to the next level,” said Amy Jo Smith, president and CEO of the DEG, in a statement. “Many of our advisors are longtime members and active supporters of DEG, and each of them comes to this new role enthusiastically and with a strong commitment to increase opportunities for women in entertainment and technology.”

The appointment of the board coincides with the launch of new benefits, activities and events for Canon Club members and a renewed focus on networking and career development.  DEG will help facilitate networking and career development. Programs include “Four Cups of Coffee,” which will match women in search of mentors with more senior executives for a cup of coffee and career conversation up to four times each year. Mentors (In addition to advisory board members) include Beth Kearns, 20TH Century Fox; Heathyr Jozel-Garcia, ABC Studios; Samara Winterfeld, DTS; Ken Williams, ETC@USC; Kejo Swingler, HBO; and Rachel Crang, Paramount Pictures. Another program is the DTS Management Training Program under which sponsor DTS will invite up to 20 Canon Club members currently in management positions to participate in a one-day management training program, with the goal of preparing more women for senior leadership positions in digital media. All eligible female executives at DEG member companies may apply.

Canon Club Members are invited to meet the advisors and mentors and sign up for coffee with a mentor at a kick-off networking reception scheduled for the evening of June 5 at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City. Visit degonline.org for more information.

Canon Club is made possible by the support of presenting sponsor Deloitte, and sponsors DTS and PBS Distribution.

All executives and staff at DEG Member companies are automatically members of Canon Club and are invited to participate in Canon Club activities at no additional cost. Individuals outside DEG Member companies can purchase annual memberships for $199 per year (half price for students). Companies that are not members of DEG can purchase Canon Club sponsor memberships by emailing Andi Elliott (andi@degonline.org).

Romance ‘After’ Coming to Digital June 25, Disc July 9 From Universal

The steamy romance After will arrive on digital (including Movies Anywhere) June 25 and Blu-ray combo pack, DVD, and on demand July 9 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film made $12 million in theaters.

Based on a best-seller from author Anna Todd with more than 1 billion reads on social storytelling site Wattpad and 23 million copies sold in more than 40 countries, the film stars Hero Fiennes Tiffin (Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince) and Josephine Langford (Wish Upon), supported by Selma Blair (SkyscraperCruel Intentions), Inanna Sarkis (Boo 2! A Madea Halloween), Pia Mia (“East Los High”), Jennifer Beals (“The L Word”) and Peter Gallagher (American Beauty, “New Girl”).

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The film follows Tessa (Langford), a dedicated student, dutiful daughter and loyal girlfriend to her high school sweetheart, as she enters her first semester in college. Her guarded world opens up when she meets the dark and mysterious Hardin Scott (Tiffin).

The soundtrack includes “Out of Love” by Alessia Cara and “Bitter Love” by Mia. Sarkis, who plays Molly in the film, performs the track “Best You’ll Ever Have.”

Bonus features on Blu-ray, DVD and digital include deleted scenes.

Local SVOD Players Challenging Netflix in Nordic Markets

The Nordic markets have among the highest uptake of streaming SVOD services in Europe, but local players are giving Netflix a run for its money, according to new research from Ampere Analysis.

Despite strong demand in the Nordic markets for streaming content, the average market share of Netflix in the region is just 49%. That compares to an average of 71% in the rest of Western Europe.

While smaller individually, local players such as Viaplay, TV2 Play, C More and the regional version of HBO account for the majority of streaming service contracts in the region. In every other Western European market except Germany, Italy and Spain, Netflix claims the majority of SVOD subscriptions.

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Nordic Noir (crime content originating in the Scandinavian countries) is a key export for local content producers, but there are early signs that local streaming players are starting to move beyond the genre, according to Ampere. Analysis of content currently in production or development (but not yet completed or aired) in the region, shows that 47% of all shows are crime or thriller, but streaming players are less focused on the genre than linear channel players. Although the local linear channels and broadcasters have far more shows in development than local streaming players (59 different shows versus 23 from streaming players), an even greater proportion are crime. More than half (52%) of all shows in production for linear channels are crime compared to just 39% for streaming players.

Of shows currently in production or development locally, the next biggest genre for streaming players is comedy (22% of shows in development). Linear players, however, are looking to historical drama for their next big hits (10% of shows in development).

“The Nordic countries are home to the most dynamic streaming TV markets in Europe and local players have had to deal with a rapid transition of TV viewers to streaming services,” said Ampere analyst Elinor Clark in a statement. “Content is now the key battleground and, while Nordic Noir has served the region well, there is indication that local players will now look to develop comedy and period drama as the next big push.”

Russian WWII Drama ‘T-34’ Coming to Disc June 1 From Well Go

Inspired by true events in World War II, the Russian drama T-34 is rolling to DVD and Blu-ray combo pack (plus DVD) June 1 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

Set in 1944, the film follows a courageous group of Russian soldiers, led by young lieutenant Ivushkin, who manage to escape from German captivity in a half destroyed T-34 tank.

T-34 set an all-time record for opening weekend box office in Russia for a Russian-produced film. It stars Alexander Petrov, Viktor Dobronravov, Vinzenz Kiefer and Irina Starshenbaum.

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Comedy ‘What Men Want’ Tops FandangoNow Chart

The comedy What Men Want was the top film purchased and/or rented on FandangoNow for the week ended May 12.

FandangoNow is movie site Fandango’s transactional VOD service.

The Paramount film, starring Taraji P. Henson and Tracy Morgan, earned $54.6 million in theaters.

Universal’s How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the series about a boy and his dragon, dropped one spot to No. 2. It made $160 million at the box office. Meanwhile, the “How to Train Your Dragon” trilogy flew up one spot to No. 8, showing continued strong interest in the franchise for the week.

Warner’s animated sequel The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, which earned $105.8 million in theaters, debuted in the third spot on the chart.

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Jumping up one spot from No. 5 in the previous week to No. 4 was Lionsgate’s Cold Pursuit, starring Liam Neeson as a grieving snowplow driver who seeks revenge against the drug dealers who killed his son. The film earned $32 million at the box office.

Warner’s DC superhero flick Aquaman floated up from No. 9 to No. 5.

Boosted by the impending May 17 theatrical debut of the third installment in the Lionsgate series, the double feature of John Wick and John Wick 2, starring Keanu Reeves as a hitman out for revenge, landed at No. 10 on the week’s chart.

The top 10 films purchased and/or rented on FandangoNow for the week ended May 12 were:

  1. What Men Want*
  2. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World*
  3. The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part *
  4. Cold Pursuit*
  5. Aquaman *
  6. Glass*
  7. Isn’t It Romantic*
  8. “How to Train Your Dragon” Trilogy*
  9. The Mule*
  10. John Wick and John Wick: Chapter 2 (Double Feature) *

*Available in 4K

Feature Optimizes Low-light Streaming Video for Mobile Phones

VisualOn Inc., a video streaming solutions provider, has launched its Adaptive NightVision feature, which enhances its proprietary media platform player by allowing low-light or dark scenes to display more clearly on mobile devices.

The feature allows subscribers to select the viewing effects they want directly on their mobile devices.

“Something that looks great on a TV in a darkened room may not look good at all on a mobile phone in a coffee shop,” said Colin Dixon, chief analyst and founder, nScreenMedia, in a statement. “The ability to adapt to a specific viewing environment is critical for service and content providers for every viewer to have a good experience. VisualOn’s solution is a great example of the type of player feature that viewers need to effectively compensate for mobile viewing conditions.”

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VisualOn’s Adaptive NightVision is built on an advanced algorithm that analyzes the video, in real time, for contrast, brightness, color saturation and key metrics, according to a company press release. Viewers can set their preferred experience through a slider directly in the Media Platform player.

“Our successful demonstration at NAB and the recent feedback from ‘The Long Night’ episode of ‘Game of Thrones’ has prompted greater urgency for Adaptive NightVision,” said Michael Jones, SVP and head of business development, VisualOn, in a statement. “As streaming services mature, consumers want to experience the same quality that is provided by their traditional TV service on their mobile devices. We feel this is really a democratization of content. Adaptive NightVision provides an optimal viewing experience for mobile devices by giving control to consumers while not limiting artists to create content for small screen viewing.”