Hulu and Discovery Ink New Distribution Agreement

Discovery and Hulu have announced a distribution agreement that will extend Discovery’s portfolio brands to Hulu’s on-demand and live TV subscription streaming services.

The multi-year agreement increases Hulu’s offering of top Discovery programming to nearly 4,000 episodes of popular shows, including “Deadliest Catch,” “MythBusters,” “Say Yes to the Dress,” “Naked and Afraid,” “Property Brothers,” “Gold Rush,” “Street Outlaws,” “Chopped,” “Chopped Jr.,” “Fixer Upper,” “House Hunters” and “House Hunters International,” available outside of Discovery’s networks exclusively to Hulu across all of its subscription plans.

The deal will also bring five additional Discovery networks, including Discovery Channel, TLC, Investigation Discovery, Motor Trend, the rebranded Velocity network and Animal Planet, to Hulu’s live television plan, Hulu With Live TV. The networks join HGTV, Food Network and Travel Channel, which have been available on the service since its launch through a previous agreement with Scripps Networks Interactive, now owned by Discovery. The five additional channels will be available to stream live beginning in December.

“At Discovery, we are committed to bringing our portfolio of high-quality, safe family friendly brands and content to viewers across every screen, service and device around the world,” said Eric Phillips, president of affiliate distribution at Discovery, in a statement.  “Our new agreement with Hulu affirms the strength of our brands and their value to viewers in a marketplace with an increasing array of options.”

“As the only streaming service offering a complete television experience, Hulu continues to strike strategic, efficient deals with top brands that bring extraordinary value to all of our subscribers,” said Lisa Holme, VP of content acquisition, and Reagan Feeney, VP of network partnerships, at Hulu in a statement. “Discovery’s brand is synonymous with high-quality unscripted entertainment that TV fans love, which is why we are excited to bring their entire portfolio to our platform, across all of our subscription plans.”

Concurrent with the Discovery partnership, Hulu reached a licensing agreement with OWN — which is part of the Discovery Networks family — to bring four of the network’s top-rated scripted series exclusively to Hulu. All past episodes of Tyler Perry’s “The Haves and the Have Nots,” “If Loving You is Wrong,” “The Paynes” and “Love Thy Neighbor” are now available to stream for the first time, only on Hulu. They join the complete library of OWN series “Queen Sugar” from Ava DuVernay and Warner Horizon.

‘Afraid’,’ Asian Actioners on Tap From Well Go for the Fall

The Halloween month kicks off Oct. 2 for Well Go USA Entertainment with the horror film Afraid on DVD and digital.

Alanna Masterson (“The Walking Dead”) and George Byrne star as a couple on a romantic getaway at a secluded cabin that takes a frightening turn. Shortly into their vacation, the young couple realizes that the cabin isn’t nearly as secluded as they think because their every move is being watched by the cabin’s creepy owner. The film is directed by Jason Goldberg (co-creator, “Punk’d”).

Coming on VOD and digital Oct. 9 is the South Korean sports comedy Champion, in which a former arm-wrestling champion raised in the U.S. returns to South Korea for a tournament that could return him to glory, but finds his life complicated by the appearance of the biological family he never knew.

Due Oct. 16 is the actioner Buybust, from the Philippines, on digital, Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD. In the film, after surviving the slaughter of her entire squad in a drug raid compromised by dirty cops, an anti-narcotics special operative is eager to go head-to-head with the drug cartels that hold a bloody grip on Manila. But when her new mission in the city’s most dangerous slum goes south, the angry civilians turn on her squad. Special features include a making-of featurette and a 2018 Comic-con panel.

Also on tap Oct. 30 from Well Go is the South Korean film Believer, directed by Lee Hae-Young (The Silenced), the remake of Johnnie To’s Drug War. The film is available on digital, Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD. The story follows an investigator who, in an effort to bring down the boss of Asia’s biggest drug cartel, conspires with a lowly member of the gang seeking revenge against the boss.

Coming on digital Oct. 2 and DVD Nov. 6 is the Chinese film Girls Vs. Gangsters, the sequel to 2014’s Girls. After a drinking contest with some questionable local spirits at an out-of-control bachelorette party, five friends wake up naked on a beach to discover one of them is handcuffed to a locked suitcase, one has a strange new tattoo, and none of them have any clue what happened the night before.

Fox to Release ‘X-Men’ Trilogy on 4K Ultra HD Sept. 25

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment will release the first three films in the “X-Men” series, starring Hugh Jackman and Halle Berry, on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc on Sept. 25.

The three-film collection includes X-Men, X2: X-Men Unite and X-Men: The Last Stand. The trilogy follows the group of mutant outcasts as they learn to control their powers, join forces with their enemies to save all mutants and face the discovery of a “cure” for the mutation that starts a war.

Special features include audio commentaries, behind-the-scenes footage, deleted/extended scenes, “The Mutant Watch,” animatics, and character and production design stills.

Horror Fantasy ‘Blood Child’ Coming to Cable and Digital Sept. 11 From Random Media

The horror fantasy Blood Child, from Random Media, will have a national cable and digital HD release Sept. 11.

It will be available on all major platforms, including iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, inDemand, Dish and more. The film is also available on DVD via manufactured-on-demand.

Writer-director Jennifer Phillips film debut, Blood Child premiered at Toronto’s Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival, where lead actress Alyx Melone took home the Rising Star Award.

Blood Child combines every parent’s worst nightmare with the Malay myth of the Toyol, ghost children raised by black magic, devastating all involved. After suffering a devastating miscarriage in Singapore, Ashley turns to a witch doctor to help her with the occult practice of raising a “ghost child” and finding the spirit of her lost child.  After returning to the States, Ashley and her husband Bill find themselves pregnant again. However, their happiness is short lived as the pregnancy acts as a catalyst for a series of terrifying events that start to occur within their home. The family soon learns that Ashley has brought back a lot more than just memories from Asia.  The spirit of their lost child is not about to play second fiddle to the impending new arrival.

‘The Spy Who Dumped Me’ Due on Digital Oct. 16, Disc Oct. 30

The comedy The Spy Who Dumped Me, starring Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon, arrives on digital Oct. 16 and on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack (plus Blu-ray and digital), Blu-ray Combo Pack (plus DVD and digital), DVD, and on demand Oct. 30 from Lionsgate.

The comedic action film earned $33.3 million in theaters.

In the film, Audrey (Kunis) and Morgan (McKinnon), two thirty-year-old best friends in Los Angeles, are thrust unexpectedly into an international conspiracy when Audrey’s ex-boyfriend shows up at their apartment with a team of deadly assassins on his trail. Also starring in the film are Justin Theroux (The Girl on the Train, TV’s “The Leftovers”), Hasan Minhaj (TV’s “The Daily Show”) and Sam Heughan (TV’s “Outlander”).

Special features include deleted scenes, outtakes and four making-of featurettes. The 4K release includes Dolby Vision HDR. The release also features Dolby Atmos sound.

Cinelytic Gets $2.25 Million Investment

Data analytics firm Cinelytic announced a $2.25 million investment by Thailand’s T&B Media Global.

“The deal will enable Cinelytic to further advance its leading role in AI driven decision support for the entertainment industry,” according to a company press release.

Cinelytic combines artificial intelligence and cloud-based technologies to enable entertainment industry professionals to make faster, and better-informed, decisions throughout the content value chain by providing comprehensive data, predictive analytics and project management tools in an integrated online platform, according to the release.

“We are witnessing a seismic shift in the entertainment industry: while rapid technological advances have disrupted the traditional entertainment industry, they have also created huge opportunities,” said Tobias Queisser, co-founder and CEO of Cinelytic, in a statement. “By using the latest in machine learning, and cloud-based technology, we are able to provide the entertainment industry with game-changing insights in real-time. This investment enables us to expand Cinelytic’s platform for Film, TV and explore further cross verticals. We are delighted to have partnered with T&B Media Global who share and support our vision.”

“Companies in industries across the world have to begin with a data driven approach,” said Dr. Jwanwat Ahriyavraromp, CEO of T&B Media Global, in a statement. “Understanding the pros and cons of all scenarios should be foundational to any enterprise, and the same applies to entertainment. Cinelytic aggregates massive amounts of entertainment-based data and uses AI to provide invaluable analysis of potential returns for storytellers. It is a tool that will revolutionize how stories get told and launched into the market. We are very pleased to help be a part of this future-forward solution.”

Universal Unleashes AR Experience With Facebook to Promote ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’

To mark the global 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD release of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has partnered with Facebook and Messenger to unleash sharable in-store and in-home augmented reality experiences showcasing the film’s dinosaurs.

The AR experiences featuring different dinosaurs from the film will debut Sept. 18 timed to the film’s North American home entertainment launch before rolling out around the world.

It is the first integrated AR experience across the Facebook family of apps — specifically Facebook and Messenger — according to a Universal press release.

“Just as Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom expertly transports viewers into an immersive world of discovery and wonder, the new AR offerings in-store and in-home serve to effectively extend that excitement and innovation to our global home entertainment release,” said Hilary Hoffman, EVP, marketing, UPHE. “We are thrilled to have a world-class partner in Facebook to help power these engaging AR experiences and are sure they will captivate and delight Jurassic fans of all ages.”

On the day of the release, participating retailers across 18 countries will showcase, for a limited time, the Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom in-store displays that will include instructions on how to trigger an AR experience. Shoppers scan a special QR code to launch the sharable AR effect that places the Indoraptor directly in their path. In the U.S. alone, the experience spans more than 17,000 stores across multiple national retail and grocery chains, according to the release.

The in-home experience is activated off of an insert in the product packaging using the Messenger camera. The experience unveils an interactive, baby version of the film’s Velociraptor hero, Blue. The animated Baby Blue can be placed in any environment, and images and video of her can be captured and shared with friends.

Both the in-store and in-home experiences are compatible with iOS and Android devices. Users should utilize the latest version of the Facebook and Messenger apps, according to the release.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the second installment in the dinosaur series reboot, has generated nearly $1.3 billion at the worldwide box office to date. Executive produced by Steven Spielberg and Colin Trevorrow, the film stars Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard.

Imax and DTS Form Home Entertainment Partnership

Imax Corp. and DTS, a wholly owned subsidiary of Xperi Corp., have announced a new home entertainment partnership with the launch of the Imax Enhanced program.

The new certification and licensing program combines the high-end consumer electronics products with Imax digitally re-mastered 4K HDR content and DTS audio technologies to offer consumers a new level of quality in immersive sight and sound experiences for the home, according to a press release from Xperi.

The companies also announced that a number of global consumer electronics and entertainment market leaders have joined the program as launch partners, including Sony Electronics, Sony Pictures, Paramount Pictures, and Sound United – parent company to Denon and Marantz.

To be accepted into the program, which launches this fall, consumer electronics manufacturers must design top-of-the-line 4K HDR televisions, A/V receivers, sound systems and other home theater equipment to meet a carefully prescribed set of the highest audio and video performance standards, set by a certification committee of Imax and DTS engineers and Hollywood’s leading technical specialists, according to the release.

Imax and DTS developed the program “to make it easier for consumers to select the products and content that will deliver the highest-quality, sharpest 4K HDR images and powerful, immersive sound at home,” according to the release.

“The companies are designing an Imax Mode for the enhanced devices that will be meticulously optimized to play digitally re-mastered content as the filmmaker intended in the home,” the release stated.

Consumers can access content from Hollywood studios as well as select Imax documentaries through the Imax Home Entertainment division. The company will also work with its global studio and other content partners to make available enhanced versions of blockbuster movies and additional programming, according to the release.

“While the Imax theatrical experience continues to be the gold standard in blockbuster movie-going, today we are launching an exciting new program that applies components of Imax’s and DTS’ technology and expertise to deliver consumers a level of quality never before experienced at home,” said Imax CEO Richard L. Gelfond in a statement. “This is a natural extension of our core business in experiential entertainment. By partnering with a well-established consumer electronics licensing leader, we can leverage both our brand and key technology innovations through DTS’ global licensing platform, without having to make the direct investments often necessary to build a new revenue stream. DTS will build that new business and we will share in the benefits from the program. We’re encouraged by the strong interest from our launch partner companies and look forward to working with DTS to grow the program further over time.”

“DTS has a rich history in delivering premium entertainment experiences to the theater and at home, and the Imax Enhanced program is an exciting opportunity to stay at the forefront of home entertainment,” said Xperi CEO Jon Kirchner in a statement. “Through the combined engineering and licensing efforts of the DTS and Imax teams, as well as support from a number of the world’s leading device and content partners, the Imax Enhanced program will bring a completely new, enhanced experience to the home while also supporting the continued penetration of DTS decoders, bringing premium sound to consumers’ devices.”

The program will use a proprietary post-production process developed by Imax to digitally re-master content to produce more vibrant colors, greater contrast and sharper clarity, according to the release. The companies will also partner with Hollywood sound mixers to use a special variant of the DTS:X codec technology integrated in home audio equipment to deliver an Imax signature sound experience.

Comcast and ESPN Announce Launch of Sports Networks on Xfinity X1

Comcast and ESPN Sept. 5 announced the launch of ESPN3, ACC Network Extra and SEC Network + on Xfinity X1, giving sports fans the ability to stream over the Internet, directly on their television, coverage of college football with more than 150 live games, and more than 5,000 live events annually, including international soccer, Grand Slam tennis matches, college basketball and other collegiate athletics.

All content from across the three networks will be searchable with Comcast’s X1 voice remote and integrated into the same screens and menus as the other sports programming that comes with a customer’s Xfinity TV subscription, according to the announcement.

“Simplicity continues to be essential in today’s dynamic media landscape,” said Sean Breen, SVP, affiliate sales, Disney and ESPN Media Networks, in a statement. “We’re fortunate to have relationships with Comcast to seamlessly serve customers and sports fans on a platform that delivers the best of both traditional and digital video viewing experiences, and the addition of ESPN3, ACC Network Extra and SEC Network + are perfect examples of that.”

“From football and soccer to volleyball and field hockey, this launch gives college sports fans incredible access to live events from schools including Florida State, Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh in the ACC, Alabama, Georgia and Texas A&M in the SEC, and dozens more from across the entire country on ESPN3,” said Vito Forlenza, executive director, TV Everywhere content and product strategy, Comcast Cable, in a statement. “ESPN3, ACC Network Extra and SEC Network + add a new dynamic to the already deep catalog of sports programming that’s currently available on X1. Combined with universal voice control and the X1 sports app, we are providing customers with the richest, most immersive sports viewing experience in the country.”

With the three new networks customers can:

  • find live coverage from ESPN3, ACC Network Extra and SEC Network + intermixed alongside other live sporting events showcased within X1’s sports destination;
  • get access to the Xfinity Sky Cam’s live game feeds providing exclusive angles and commentary;
  • by saying “ESPN3,” “ACC Network Extra” or “SEC Network +” into the X1 voice remote discover everything available to watch live from the networks;
  • by asking for a specific team such as “Clemson Football” quickly access a team summary, including its current record and conference standing, and see a list of upcoming games airing across any network;
  • while watching the networks’ live online coverage on X1, follow along with real-time updates and data via the platform’s sports companion app for more than a dozen conferences such as the Atlantic Coast Conference, Southeastern Conference, American Athletic Conference, Mid-American Conference and Conference USA; and
  • by saying, for example, “University of Connecticut Huskies Basketball Score,” get real-time scoring updates of the current game and the ability to tune-in live if it’s available to stream;

ESPN3, ACC Network Extra and SEC Network + are available on all eligible X1 set top boxes with Xfinity TV and Internet service.

Allied Vaughn’s MOD Service Adds Cardinal XD, Bosko Group

Cardinal XD and Bosko Group have joined Allied Vaughn’s manufactured-on-demand stable.

Bosko Group is founded by Mark Steven Bosko, the author of The Complete Independent Movie Marketing Handbook and featured on the web-based series “Top Ten Tips to Distribution.” Bosko contributes to IndieSlate, MovieMaker and Videomaker magazines, and is a featured presenter at film festivals and other entertainment industry events including SXSW, AFM, Moondance, Southwest Alternate Media Project (SWAMP), Reel Inspiration, The Cleveland Entertainment Conference, FilmExpo Texas and the Rhode Island International Film Festival. A recent release from Bosko Group is Brutal Bigfoot, in which Bigfoot hunters investigate the disappearance of a hiker and the mutilation of a couple deep in the remote Arkansas countryside. They discover a top-secret nuclear testing facility and mutated creatures that reportedly inhabit the woods surrounding the compound.

Also joining the Allied catalog is Cardinal XD with Red Butterfly, due Sept. 18 on DVD. The story follows a man who must find his way after making a grave mistake. Tonio’s loyalty to his friend turned gangster, TC, leads to a series of events with deadly consequences, and he cannot save his lover, Cleo, from herself.