McDonough Appointed EVP at Mill Creek

Mill Creek Entertainment has appointed Pat McDonough EVP of sales and marketing.

He will oversee the account management team and the strategic sales initiatives for the company and will report to Mill Creek president and CEO Rob Zakheim.

“We are delighted that Pat is joining the Mill Creek team to oversee and drive the sales goals as we continue to expand our presence in the retail and digital entertainment marketplace,” said Zakheim in a statement. “Pat is an accomplished sales executive with proven leadership experience and strong relationships among digital and traditional buyers.”

“I am thrilled to join Mill Creek Entertainment and their tremendously talented team,” said McDonough in a statement. “Mill Creek’s exceptional library of content and devotion to being the dominant player in the value entertainment industry makes for an exciting opportunity to grow market share and identify new sales opportunities.”

McDonough was previously head of digital content licensing for Pure Flix Digital and has held senior sales leadership positions at eOne and Lionsgate.

Mill Creek Entertainment has developed strategic programs with retailers including Walmart, Best Buy, Dollar General, Amazon and Menards that support the ongoing lineup of DVD and Blu-ray releases from licensing and distribution agreements with studio partners including Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, NBC/Universal, Lionsgate Home Entertainment, Carsey-Werner Television, C3 Entertainment, Sonar Entertainment, PBS, among other companies.

Marcais Takes Marketing Position at Paramount

Vincent Marcais has been appointed EVP of worldwide marketing for Paramount Home Media Distribution. He will oversee the creative advertising, media, brand and market research for all of the studio’s home entertainment releases across physical and digital platforms and will report to Bob Buchi, president, worldwide home media distribution, Paramount Pictures.

“Vincent brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our division, having worked with physical and digital retailers around the world to maximize title performance in the shifting home entertainment landscape,” Buchi said in a statement. “We look forward to his contributions as we continue to explore innovative marketing strategies to bring our products to the widest possible audience across all platforms.”

Marcais previously served as EVP of worldwide brand and customer marketing for 20th Century Fox Digital Home Media where he oversaw the release campaigns for all transactional businesses (video-on-demand, DVD, Blu-ray and Digital HD) and also managed joint consumer marketing efforts with digital retailers and U.S. and international operators.  During his tenure, Marcais was a key driver of the division’s transformation from a pure physical distribution company into a digital new media company.

Marcais began his career with French car manufacturer Citroën and joined Fox Video France in 1991 where he held numerous marketing and sales positions. From 2002 to 2006 he served as Fox’s VP of Marketing for the European home entertainment operation. He relocated to Los Angeles in 2006 to serve as SVP of international marketing for Fox and became EVP of worldwide brand and customer marketing in 2012.

Marcais effectively replaces Steve Siskind, who had been president, marketing, worldwide home media distribution for Paramount since September 2016. Siskind left Paramount last week. Before taking the home media marketing job, Siskind had been president of domestic theatrical marketing at Paramount for two years.

Viacom Inks Deal With Production Company Led by ‘Daily Show’s’ Trevor Noah

Viacom Inc. March 26 announced a strategic partnership with Day Zero Productions, an international production and distribution company led by Trevor Noah, host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.”

Under the long-term deal, Viacom will have exclusive “first look” rights on all projects developed by Noah and Day Zero Productions in all media, including television, feature films, digital and short-form video content. Viacom will also make an investment in Day Zero.

“I’ve found a strong and incredibly valuable partnership in Viacom,” said Noah in a statement. “Our shared vision of bringing diverse cultural conversations and exciting creative projects to the forefront of the entertainment industry and to our constantly expanding audience, continues to strengthen our relationship. I couldn’t be more excited to share ‘Born a Crime’ with Paramount and the very talented Lupita Nyong’o.”

“Working with the best, most versatile talent in the entertainment industry is a strategic priority for Viacom, which is why we are thrilled to expand our relationship with Trevor and his creative team at Day Zero with this cross-house partnership,” said Viacom president and CEO Bob Bakish in a statement. “Trevor’s creative sensibilities and ability to drive the cultural conversation around issues that matter to our young, global audiences make him an ideal partner for Viacom across every screen we serve. We are particularly proud that ‘Born a Crime’ will be produced and distributed by Paramount.”

Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

As part of the expanded relationship, Paramount Players will adapt as a feature film Noah’s memoir, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, to which Academy Award-winner Lupita Nyong’o is attached to star as Trevor’s mother, Patricia. Noah will produce the project through his Day Zero Productions alongside Norman Aladjem, Derek Van Pelt and Sanaz Yamin of Mainstay Entertainment, and Nyong’o through her Eba Productions. South African born Liesl Tommy, who earned a Tony nomination for her work directing Nyong’o in the play Eclipsed, will direct the film.

“The degree to which people underestimated Trevor as he took over ‘The Daily Show’ has made his success all the more meaningful,” said Kent Alterman, president of Comedy Central, in a statement. “Seeing audiences on multiple platforms embrace his incredible comedy chops, his thoughtful and nuanced point of view, and his global perspective has been gratifying beyond measure. Trevor has limitless curiosity, vision and passion. He is just getting started.”

Lionsgate to Release ‘The Party’ on Digital May 8, DVD May 22

The Party, an award-winning comic drama about a gathering of friends, arrives on digital May 8 and on DVD and on demand May 22 from Lionsgate.

Directed by Sally Potter (Orlando, Ginger & Rosa), the film  follows an intimate gathering of friends that quickly spirals out of control on the heels of an unexpected announcement. The film stars Patricia Clarkson, Emily Mortimer, Cillian Murphy, Kristin Scott Thomas and Timothy Spall.

The Party won the Guild Film Prize and was nominated for the Golden Bear at the 2017 Berlin Film Festival.

The DVD ($19.98) will include a “making of” featurette and photo gallery.

MoviePass Lowers Price to $6.95 a Month

Movie theater subscription service MoviePass March 23 announced that, for a limited time, it is offering its annual subscription to new subscribers for $6.95 a month purchased on an annual basis.

The new annual subscription plan also has a one-time processing fee of $6.55.

MoviePass gives subscribers the ability to attend up to one non-premium new movie per day in theaters.

“Our vision has always been to make the moviegoing experience easy and affordable for anyone, anywhere,” said MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe in a statement. “With the current growth and support that we’ve seen within the last several months, our studio and exhibitor revenues and other marketing partnerships have motivated us to lower the price once again, offering movie lovers greater access to MoviePass.”

MoviePass is a majority-owned subsidiary of Helios and Matheson Analytics.

The subscription works at over 91% of theaters in America, according to the release and has more than 2 million subscribers. The company stated it contributed during recent opening weekends 17% of box office to Paramount Picture’s Annihilation, 10% of box office to Orion Picture’s Every Day, and 9% of box office to Fox Studio’s Love, Simon.

MoviePass first introduced its $9.95 per month subscription plan in August 2017.

“We believe our business will succeed by granting the public greater access to see movies how they were originally intended to be seen — in theaters,” said HMNY’s Chairman and CEO Ted Farnsworth in a statement. “As the leading movie theater subscription company, we want to bring better value to our MoviePass fans. With this new annual plan, MoviePass is bringing cinema back to the masses.”

 

Netflix Expands Security Program

Amid the public’s growing concerns about web security and data vulnerability, Netflix March 22 announced it has made public its security program, called the bug bounty program.

“We are now publicly launching our bug bounty program through the Bugcrowd platform to continue improving the security of our products and services while strengthening our relationship with the community,” reads the company blog.

The company started its “responsible vulnerability disclosure” program in 2013 to provide an avenue for researchers to report security issues. It has received and remediated 190 valid issues from this program, according to the blog.

“Once we felt comfortable with our processes around handling external reports efficiently, we dipped our toe in the bug bounty space with a private program launch in September 2016,” the blog reads. “Over the past 18 months, we have gradually increased the scope as well as the number of researchers in the program.”

The company started the program with 100 of Bugcrowd’s top researchers, and in preparation for the public launch, increased the scope over the last year to more than 700 researchers, according to the blog.

“Since the launch of our private bug bounty program, we have received 145 valid submissions (out of 275 total) of various criticality levels across the Netflix services,” the blog reads. “These submissions have helped us improve our external security posture and identify systemic security improvements across our ecosystem.”

Researchers are rewarded for finding bugs, with the highest payout so far $15,000, according to the blog.

“Engineers at Netflix have a high degree of ownership for the security of their products and this helps us address reports quickly,” the blog reads.

Redbox Expanding Nintendo Switch Game Rentals

Redbox March 21 announced the expansion of Nintendo Switch game rentals to kiosks in Denver; Salt Lake City; and Nashville, Tenn.

Combined with an initial rollout in October 2017 in Portland, Ore.; Seattle and San Antonio, more than 2,000 Redbox kiosks across six markets feature Nintendo Switch games for rent.

“Nintendo launched the Switch console about a year ago, and now it’s the fastest-selling console of all time,” said Aaron McDowell, head of games at Redbox, in a company blog. “People love it. And they love it because you can use it whenever you want and however you want.”

He praised the game system’s flexibility.

“The Switch has a screen and two removable controllers called Joy-Cons,” he said. “You can put in a game cartridge and just play it alone wherever you want with the controllers attached. Or if you want to play with a friend, the controllers come off and you can challenge each other. You can also plug, or ‘dock,’ the Switch into your TV or any screen that has a USB port if you want the big-screen experience.”

He added Redbox is more than doubling the number of kiosks with Switch rentals. The initial rollout included 600 kiosks.

Nintendo Switch games available or coming soon in March, include:

  • Dragonball Xenoverse 2
  • Just Dance 2018
  • LA Noir
  • LEGO Ninjago
  • Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
  • Monster Energy Super Cross
  • NBA 2K18
  • Pokken Tournament DX
  • Sonic Forces
  • Splatoon 2

Game rentals are $3 a night. Some previously-rented games are also available to purchase. The full lineup of games available to rent at Redbox is listed here.

Research Shows Broadcast Networks Still Highly Desired by Consumers

Despite declines in viewing, broadcast networks top the list for most desired channel groups, according to research from The Diffusion Group.

Diffusion’s national study, Video Viewing Behavior in the Age of Quantum Video, examines preferred network groups by demographics and video behavior. The firm surveyed 2,030 connected consumers as to the five network families they’d prefer to have included in a five-group skinny TV plan. (Respondents were able to see which channels were included in each network group before selecting.) The big four broadcast network groups occupied four of the top five spots, led by NBC Universal (selected by 48%), followed by Fox (41%), Disney/ABC (41%) and CBS (38%).

“Live big-four broadcast viewing is diminishing, as with virtually every major network. This should not imply, however, that their death as brands or as major forces in consumer video is inevitable,” said Michael Greeson, Diffusion’s director of research, in a statement. “The value of their content is immense — top of mind for many viewers.”

The rankings offer important insight into the viability of direct-to-consumer services, according to Diffusion. For example, the fact that the ESPN family failed to rank in the top 10 suggests Disney’s decision to make ESPN Plus a premium add-on to its linear ESPN channel may have been a wise move, the research group noted.

“Many expected ESPN Plus to be the online equivalent of ESPN, but Disney decided that the risk of cannibalizing high-value linear pay-TV subscriptions would create substantial channel conflict and hasten the declines in pay-TV subscriptions,” Greeson stated. “This risk is inherent in the DTC model and must be addressed group by group, even channel by channel.”

For example, though ESPN Plus may be best positioned as a value-add to its live linear pay-TV service, Disney’s family-focused direct-to-consumer service appears destined to follow in the footsteps of CBS All Access – that is, serve as a full-on replacement to its linear channel, with a growing number of high-value titles reserved for the new service, according to Diffusion.

The standings also offer important insight into the viability of a new virtual MVPD entrant, Philo, which is populated by the channels A&E, AMC, Discovery and Viacom, the research firm noted.

“While this may at first glance seem too specialized to gain mass appeal separate from a broadcast bundle, the combination of networks may prove attractive,” according to a Diffusion release. “Keep in mind that A&E was selected as top-five by 37% of connected consumers, AMC by 28%, Viacom by 24% and Scripps by 21%.”

Shout! Factory and ITV in Classic Content Deal

Shout! Factory and ITV Studios Global Entertainment have inked a distribution deal to bring a library of classic films and series, including Sophie’s Choice, On Golden Pond and the 1967 TV series “The Prisoner,” to entertainment platforms in the United States and Canada.

This multi-year deal provides Shout! with broadcast, video on-demand, streaming, digital and home entertainment rights to more than 135 titles. Among the properties in the deal are The Big Sleep (Robert Mitchum, James Stewart, Sarah Miles), Raise the Titanic (Jason Robards), The Boys From Brazil  (Gregory Peck, Laurence Olivier), The Last Unicorn  (Jeff Bridges, Alan Arkin, Mia Farrow), The Eagle Has Landed (Michael Caine, Donald Sutherland, Robert Duvall), Capricorn One (Elliott Gould, James Brolin), The Cassandra Crossing (Sophia Lauren, Richard Harris, Martin Sheen), “Hammer House of Horror,” and Gerry Anderson TV shows (“Fireball XL-5,” “Stingray,” “Thunderbirds,” “Captain Scarlet” and “Supercar”).

“We’re incredibly excited to bring these memorable films and TV shows out through Shout’s distribution channels,” said Shout! Factory’s founders Richard Foos, Bob Emmer and Garson Foos in a joint statement. “There’s a lot of opportunity to distribute this content through digital and cable channels, transactional outlets, and on disc. We love getting into all the nooks and crannies.”

“Our extensive portfolio is rich in classic titles and we are delighted that this deal with Shout! will open up some of our most timeless shows and films to brand new audiences,” said Rob Kaplan, VP, U.S. sales, at ITV Studios Global Entertainment, in a statement.

The two companies are working closely to remaster a number of titles, some of which have never been available on digital, Blu-ray and DVD, according to the Shout! press release. Shout! is also developing bonus content for special editions.

In a First, Sony and Snapchat Employ Augmented Reality With ‘Jumanji’ Release

With the March 20 release of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungleon 4K UHD Blu-ray Disc, Blu-ray Disc and DVD, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is bringing the jungle to life for fans with an augmented reality experience through Snapchat.

In the first of its kind for a home entertainment release, when consumers purchase a copy of the film on disc at any retailer and scan the Snapcode on the front, the packaging elements will start to move, making their way across the retail environment and encouraging people to follow it with their camera phone. Once scanned through the app, users can explore a 360 jungle with a hippo jump-scare and a message from Dr. Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson) telling consumers that the next adventure lies inside the packaging. Upon opening the packaging, consumers can scan the insert inside the box which will trigger a second experience that brings the characters from Jumanji to life.

“Given the incredible box office success with Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, we are continuing the consumer excitement into the home entertainment window by partnering with Snapchat in this groundbreaking AR packaging experience to drive in-store retail engagement and physical product purchase, while giving consumers a new way to interact with the Blu-ray and DVD and share their experience.” said Nicole Longo, Sony director of marketing.

“Much like they reimagined Jumanji itself, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has thoughtfully reframed AR marketing to drive sales for their home entertainment release,” said Jeff Miller, head of creative strategy, Snap. “Their Snapchat lenses set a new bar for contextual augmented realityintegration with physical packaging.”

In addition to having the Snapcodes on the front of the product, the codes will also be on in-store retail signage and displays. Sony also will employ national TV spots, digital marketing, social media, radio and on-platform ads on Snapchat to support the AR effort.

The film earned more than $400 million at the box office.