Cohen Tapped as President of Worldwide Home Entertainment & Television Distribution at Paramount

Paramount Pictures Feb. 26 announced the promotion of Dan Cohen to president of Worldwide Home Entertainment & Television Distribution.

Cohen, previously President of Worldwide Television Licensing, assumes the role previously held by Mary Daily, who had overseen International Theatrical Marketing and Home Entertainment for the studio since 2017, but earlier this month was promoted to co-president, Worldwide Theatrical Marketing & Distribution. He reports to Andrew Gumpert, Paramount’s chief operating officer.

Bob Buchi remains president of Worldwide Home Entertainment and reports to Cohen.

Cohen and Buchi are both veterans of Walt Disney Studios’ mighty home entertainment operation.

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Cohen joined Paramount in 2017. Prior to that, he spent 20 years at Disney/ABC, most recently as EVP of Pay Television & Digital for Home Entertainment & Television Distribution for The Walt Disney Studios. There, he distributed catalog properties including Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, ABC & Disney Channel.

Buchi has been with Paramount since 2006. He assumed leadership of the studio’s entertainment division in 2015. He began his career in home entertainment at Walt Disney Studios, and subsequently oversaw marketing at DreamWorks Home Entertainment. He later oversaw family brand marketing at Universal Studios Home Entertainment before joining Paramount.

“Dan has been an indispensable leader in the licensing space, both for Paramount and in the industry at large,” said Gumpert. “He has a proven track record of business growth, and I am confident that, along with Bob Buchi and his team, he will more than excel in overseeing our home entertainment and television distribution businesses.”

‘Umbrella Academy,’ ‘Doom Patrol’ Take Top Two Spots on Parrot Analytics Digital Originals Chart

Demand for the premiere of Netflix’s “The Umbrella Academy” on Feb. 15 was high enough to push the comic book adaptation to No. 1 on Parrot Analytics’ digital originals chart for the week ended Feb. 23.

The number of average daily Demand Expressions soared to 41.7 million from 14.9 million the prior week, a 180% gain.

“The Umbrella Academy” is based on the decade-old Dark Horse Comics series by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá. The Netflix adaptation centers around a dysfunctional band of adopted sibling superheroes who team up to investigate their father’s death – and the threat of an apocalypse.

The series is produced by Borderline Entertainment, Dark Horse Entertainment and Universal Cable Productions and features an ensemble cast that includes Ellen Page, Tom Hopper, David Castañeda, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan, Aidan Gallagher and Mary J. Blige.

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DC Universe’s “Doom Patrol,” which launched on the same day as “The Umbrella Academy,” debuted at No. 1 on the weekly digital originals chart, with approximately 28.3 million Demand Expressions, nearly twice as many as in the prior week.

“Doom Patrol” is the third series from DC Universe and is following the new streaming services’ two earlier shows, “Titans” and “Young Justice,” with top-tier debuts on the weekly digital originals chart.

“We expect both of these alternative superhero titles to maintain a hold on top chart positions over multiple weeks to come,” Parrot Analytics says.

Demand Expressions is a proprietary metric used by Parrot Analytics to measure global demand for TV content. The metric draws from a wide variety of data sources, including video streaming, social media activity, photo sharing, blogging, commenting on fan and critic rating platforms, and downloading and streaming via peer-to-peer protocols and file sharing sites.

A “digital original” is a multi-episode series in which the most recent season was first made available on a streaming platform such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or Hulu.

Elsewhere on the chart, “The Dragon Prince” ranks as the sixth most in-demand digital original series in the United States following the Feb. 15 debut of season 2. The fantasy computer-animated series from Netflix is set in a mystical world where humans and elves are in conflict. Audiences were clearly eager to get a look at the new diverse story lines as the show realized a 108% spike in demand from the previous week.

Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” No. 1 the previous week, slipped to No. 9, with a 22.3% drop in demand.

Netflix’s “Stranger Things” and DC Universe’s “Titans” each slipped a spot to No. 3 and No. 4, respectively.

Holding firm at No. 5 was Marvel’s “The Punisher,” the last of the Marvel shows to air on Netflix and the most recent one to be canceled.

Media Play News has teamed with Parrot Analytics to provide readers with a weekly top 10 of the most popular digital original TV series in the United States, based on the firm’s  proprietary metric called Demand Expressions, which measures global demand for TV content through a wide variety of data sources, including video streaming, social media activity, photo sharing, blogging, commenting on fan and critic rating platforms, and downloading and streaming via peer-to-peer protocols and file sharing sites.

 

Redbox Jumps on Oscar Craze

At least one retailer has been quick to jump on the Oscar bandwagon.

Redbox is running a “Watch the Year’s Best” promotion, spotlighting Best Picture nominees and highlighting Best Picture winner Green Book, which the retailer’s digital store, Redbox On Demand, is selling for $14.99.

The site notes the film, from Universal Pictures, won’t be available on disc until March 12, but gives customers the option of adding it to their wish list.

Green Book is a 2018 biographical comedy-drama film set in 1962 and inspired by the true story of a tour of the Deep South by African-American  pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) and his driver and bodyguard, Tony Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen), an Italian-American bouncer.

Digital Retailers to be Honored in Second Annual Fast Forward Awards

Media Play News Feb. 19 announced that four digital retailers will receive the second annual Media Play Fast Forward Awards, honoring people, technologies, organizations, products or services that move the home entertainment industry forward.

This year’s honorees are Cameron Douglas, VP of home entertainment at FandangoNow; Google Play’s Jonathan Zepp, Head of Media and Entertainment; Galen Smith, CEO of Redbox; and the team at Apple iTunes (the company asked that no individual be singled out).

With streaming continuing to dominate the home entertainment business,  the transactional video-on-demand (TVOD) model is more important than ever to the Hollywood studios.

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TVOD — both electronic sellthrough (EST) and a la carte streaming — also posted significant gains in 2018, thanks in large part to aggressive and innovative digital retailers.

FandangoNow has been revving up its promotional muscle and is aggressively tying in digital purchases and rentals with its movie-ticket-selling sister company.

Google Play Movies & TV is on a big 4K push, automatically upgrading customers’ past movie purchases to the new format, so they can stream them in 4K, even if the movies were originally purchased in standard or high definition.

Redbox has nearly doubled the selection of films and TV shows available on its year-old digital movie store, Redbox On Demand, and last December announced a new deal in which its app is featured on all Vizio Smartcast TVs — in addition to TVs from Samsung and LG.

And Apple’s iTunes service began the year with a game-changing deal with No. 1 TV manufacturer Samsung. New Samsung SmartCast TVs will allow consumers to access their iTunes movie and TV show libraries through a new app. They’ll also be able to buy new movies or TV shows directly through the app.

The Media Play Fast Forward awards are an outgrowth of the Home Entertainment Visionary Awards, which were launched in 2002 by the now-defunct Home Media Magazine. Comcast’s Brian Roberts was the 2017 honoree. Warren Lieberfarb, the father of DVD, was the first, back in 2002. Other honorees have included Sony Pictures’ Ben Feingold, Samsung’s Tim Baxter, and Walmart’s Louis Greth and Chris Nagelson.

The four digital retailers will be profiled in the March issue of Media Play News‘ monthly magazine, available in both print and digital editions, and honored at a luncheon in Los Angeles at a date that has not yet been determined.

A portion of the proceeds of the luncheon will benefit Caterina’s Club, a Los Angeles charity that provides warm meals, affordable housing assistance, and job training to homeless and low-income families throughout Southern California.

Industry Veteran Lands at Analytics Firm

Chris Roberts, a veteran of the home entertainment industry, has been appointed VP of Sales by Transform Inc., a Seattle-based company involved in applied audience analytics for video.

Roberts is charged with expanding Transform’s customer base by offering content creators new ways to expand and connect with their viewers. The company says its machine-learning and artificial intelligence platform for video “answers the fundamental questions of why audiences connect, react and engage.”

Roberts previously spent two years as SVP of sales, OnDemand Everywhere, at comScore Inc., a Reston, Virginia-based media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers.

Chris Roberts

There, he helped launch two services: Digital Download Essentials and Digital Download Industry, the first industry-view for the iVOD and EST channels for movie studios and television networks.

Roberts came to comScore through its acquisition of Rentrak Corp., where over the course of a 27-year run he played a key role in the company’s transformation from a VHS videocassette distributor to a global media measurement and research company serving the entertainment industry. He most recently was VP of Sales, Home Entertainment, leading a team that measured DVD and Blu-ray Disc sales and rentals in the United States.

“The extensive experience that Chris brings with him is invaluable at our stage,” said Randa Minkarah, Transform’s co-founder and COO. “Our focus is on growing and developing revenues, and Chris has an extraordinary ability to pinpoint the concerns and goals of today’s media companies.”

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“I look forward to building a sales team and showing leaders in media the incredible value of Transform’s technology,” Roberts said. “Content creators, more than anything, want to have meaningful engagement with their audience, and we can now give them advanced tools that show exactly what brings viewers in and what keeps them watching.”

Roberts, a father of four daughters, is also a music composer and film producer, and has been on the board of directors of Our Family in Africa, a non-profit agency that provides aid to orphans throughout the Democratic Republic of Congo.

 

Netflix Offices in Hollywood Put on Lockdown After ‘Deadly Weapon’ Threat

Netflix’s offices in the Sunset Bronson Studios in Hollywood were put on lockdown Thursday afternoon (Feb. 14) after police received reports of a person with a deadly weapon.

According to KTLA, whose offices also are in the complex, one person was taken into custody.

KTLA later reported that a Netflix employee “who had been recently fired called in a threat to a former coworker, saying he had a gun and was on the company’s Hollywood studio lot, prompting a lockdown affecting Netflix and KTLA …, according to lot security.”

The suspect was never actually on the lot, and when he was apprehended no weapon was found, Los Angeles Police told the TV station.

Police did not say where the suspect — a former Netflix employee who had been fired the day before, on Wednesday, Feb. 13 — was detained, only that police “did a ‘followup’ several blocks away in the 5600 block of Franklin Avenue,” according to KTLA.

Watch a KCAL news report on the incident

In a statement, Netflix said officials “received a tip about a potential law enforcement incident. Police are conducting a sweep of the lot out of an abundance of caution. There is no immediate danger or threat to our employees.”

The lockdown was lifted about 5:35 p.m., police said as reported by KTLA.

Sunset Bronson Studios is located near the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Van Ness Avenue in Hollywood.

The news was spread via social media, particularly Twitter, with people tweeting out pictures and video of the scene. Among them: writer, director and actor David Hayter.

Story was updated 7:42 p.m. Feb. 14

 

‘Handmaid’s Tale,’ ‘Russian Doll’ Big Winners Among Digital Originals, Parrot Says

Demand for the perennially popular “The Handmaid’s Tale” spiked 53% on the heels of the release of a season 3 teaser trailer, pushing the dystopian Hulu drama series to the No. 1 spot on the digital originals chart for the week that ended Feb. 9, according to Parrot Analytics.

The previous week, “The Handmaid’s Tale” was ranked No. 14. The Feb. 3 release of the trailer saw the number of average daily Demand Expressions rise to 29.2 million from 19 million the week before.

The biggest winner, however, was Netflix’s “Russian Doll,” a quirky comedy starring Natasha Lyonne as a software engineer who repeatedly dies and relives her 36th birthday party night in an ongoing loop.

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The series, which also stars Greta Lee, Yul Vazquez, Charlie Barnett and Elizabeth Ashley, premiered Feb. 1. During the week that ended Feb. 9, the average number of daily Demand Expressions soared a whopping 374% to 21 million, landing the series in the top 10 with a No. 8 debut.

Demand Expressions is a proprietary metric used by Parrot Analytics to measure global demand for TV content. The metric draws from a wide variety of data sources, including video streaming, social media activity, photo sharing, blogging, commenting on fan and critic rating platforms, and downloading and streaming via peer-to-peer protocols and file sharing sites.

A “digital original” is a multi-episode series in which the most recent season was first made available on a streaming platform such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or Hulu.

The prior week’s top digital original, “Marvel’s The Punisher,” from Netflix, fell to No. 5, with a 13.5% drop in demand.

Similar, “Stranger Things,” also from Netflix, held onto the No. 3 spot despite a 6.2% decline in the number of average daily Demand Expressions.

Rounding out the top five on the digital originals chart was “Star Trek: Discovery,” with new episodes in the CBS All Access science-fiction series to the No. 4 position on the digital originals chart, up from No. 6 the prior week.

Media Play News has teamed with Parrot Analytics to provide readers with a weekly top 10 of the most popular digital original TV series in the United States, based on the firm’s  proprietary metric called Demand Expressions, which measures global demand for TV content through a wide variety of data sources, including video streaming, social media activity, photo sharing, blogging, commenting on fan and critic rating platforms, and downloading and streaming via peer-to-peer protocols and file sharing sites.

‘Grinch,’ ‘Widow,’ ‘Girl in the Spider’s Web’ Debut in Top Three Spots on Redbox Disc, Digital Charts

Three new releases took the three top positions on both Redbox charts the week ended Feb. 10, led by Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch, the latest take on the classic children’s Christmas story from Universal Pictures.

The Grinch debuted at No. 1 on both the Redbox kiosk chart, which tracks DVD and Blu-ray Disc rentals at the company’s more than 40,000 red vending machines, and the Redbox On Demand chart, which tracks transactional video-on-demand (TVOD), both electronic sellthrough (EST) and streaming.

Bowing at No. 2, also on both charts, was 20th Century Fox’s Widows, a heist film with an ensemble cast headed by Viola Davis and Michelle Rodriguez.

And debuting in third place on both Redbox charts was Sony Pictures’ The Girl in the Spider’s Web, an action thriller that is both a reboot and a sequel to the critically hailed The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

The computer-animated Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch earned just over $270 million in U.S. theaters and is aimed at a younger crowd than its darker, live-action predecessor, 2000’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas, which earned slightly less in North American theaters ($260 million).

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Widows, about a band of women who turn to crime so they can pay back a crime boss after their husbands are killed in a botched $5 million heist, scored a domestic gross of $42.4 million.

And The Girl in the Spider’s Web, a theatrical underperformer with Claire Foy in the lead role as the avenger of battered women, took in just $14.8 million at the box office.

High demand for these three new releases pushed Lionsgate’s Hunter Killer to No. 4, also on both charts. The action film, about a squad of Navy SEALs who save the kidnapped Russian president from a military coup, had debuted at No. 1 the prior week.

Rounding out the top five on the Redbox disc-rental chart was Universal Pictures’ First Man, a biopic about Neil Armstrong’s celebrated 1969 moon landing. The film finished at No. 6 on the Redbox digital chart. The week before, First Man had been No. 2 on both charts, after a No. 1 debut the previous week.

On the Redbox On Demand, the No. 5 spot went to 20th Century Fox’s The Sisters Brothers, a Western comedy from 20th Century Fox with John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix as brothers Eli and Charlie Sisters, two assassins in the California Gold Rush.

The film – which earned just over $3 million in a limited theatrical release – also was the fourth new disc release to debut in the top 10 on the Redbox kiosk chart, coming in at No. 10.

Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch, Widows, The Girl in the Spider Web and The Sisters Brothers were all released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc Feb. 5 and for digital sale Jan. 22.

 

Top DVD and Blu-ray Disc Rentals, Redbox Kiosks, Week Ending February 10

  1. Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch (new)
  2. Widows (new)
  3. The Girl in the Spider Web (new)
  4. Hunter Killer
  5. First Man
  6. Night School
  7. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
  8. Halloween (2018)
  9. Venom
  10. The Sisters Brothers (new)

 

Top Digital, Redbox On Demand, Week Ending February 10

  1. Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch
  2. Widows
  3. The Girl in the Spider Web
  4. Hunter Killer
  5. The Sisters Brothers
  6. First Man
  7. The Hate U Give
  8. Crazy Rich Asians
  9. Venom
  10. Halloween (2018)

 

Visit the Redbox website

Buy or rent Redbox On Demand movies

Activision Sheds 800 Jobs Amid Record Sales, Earnings

Video game maker Activision Blizzard on a Feb. 12 earnings call with analysts confirmed rumors of big job cuts – rumors first floated last week in a Bloomberg report.

Executives on the call revealed plans to slash 8% of the company’s 9,600-employee workforce, despite “record” sales of $7.5 billion in 2018, up from $7.02 billion in 2017. Earnings per share, too, were a record $2.35, compared with $0.36 in 2017.

In an earnings release issued earlier in the day, CEO Bobby Kotick said that “while our financial results for 2018 were the best in our history, we didn’t realize our full potential. To help us reach our full potential, we have made a number of important leadership changes. These changes should enable us to achieve the many opportunities our industry affords us, especially with our powerful owned franchises, our strong commercial capabilities, our direct digital connections to hundreds of millions of players, and our extraordinarily talented employees.”

But on the afternoon earnings call, COO Coddy Johnson revealed some 800 of those employees would soon be gone, mostly in non-developmental roles.

“Our restructuring plan sheds investment and less productive non-strategic areas of our business and will result in a net headcount reduction of approximately 8% while also driving a significant increase in investment, focus and capabilities around our biggest franchises,” he said on the call, according to a transcript provided by Seeking Alpha.

The publisher began notifying those who are being laid off across its various divisions, which include Activision, Blizzard and King.

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At the same time, Activision promised a 20% spike in the number of developers working on marquee game franchises such as Call of Duty, CandyCrush, Overwatch,  WarcraftHearthstone and Diablo over the course of 2019.

“We have worked with our new business unit leaders to undertake a comprehensive examination of our business to determine the changes we need to make to improve execution and capitalize on the substantial long-term growth opportunities for our company,” Johnson said on the call. “We determined that we need to refocus our best resources on our biggest opportunities and to remove an unnecessary level of complexity and duplication that is built up in certain parts of the business.

“We have, therefore, developed a clear plan for this year to refocus and reinforce the foundation for growth. This refocus includes initiatives developed by our new business unit leaders, each of whom has demonstrated the ability to combine creative excellence with the commercial focus on profitable growth.

“First, we are investing more in development for our biggest internally owned franchises across upfront releases, in-game content, mobile and geographic expansion. Second, we are deprioritizing initiatives that are not meeting our expectations and reducing certain non-development and administrative-related costs across our business. Third, we are integrating our global and regional sales and go-to-market partnerships and sponsorships capabilities across the business, enabling us to better leverage talent, expertise and scale on behalf of our business units.”

For the year ended Dec. 31, 2018, Activision Blizzard’s net revenues from digital channels were a record $5.79 billion.

For the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2018, Activision Blizzard’s net revenues were a record $2.38 billion, up from $2.04 billion for the fourth quarter of 2017. Net revenues from digital channels were a record $1.79 billion. Earnings per diluted share were a record $0.84, as compared with loss per share of $0.77 for the fourth quarter of 2017.

Activision Blizzard generated $1.79 billion in operating cash flow for the year ended Dec. 31, 2018, as compared to $2.21 billion for 2017.

Netflix’s ‘The Kominsky Method’ Sees Demand Spike for Globe Winners

Parrot Analytics has weighed in on the age-old question about the impact of awards, or even award nominations, on movies and TV shows.

Parrot Analytics is a data analytics firm that uses a  proprietary metric called Demand Expressions, which measures global demand for TV content through a wide variety of data sources, including video streaming, social media activity, photo sharing, blogging, commenting on fan and critic rating platforms, and downloading and streaming via peer-to-peer protocols and file sharing sites.

With a 94% increase from the win and an already high baseline demand, BBC America’s “Killing Eve” is the Golden Globes winner that had the highest absolute demand after the awards. With a peak of nearly 40 million Demand Expressions in the United States, “Killing Eve” was the 14th most in-demand of all TV titles in the United States immediately after the ceremony.

By comparing baseline demand with the demand peak for each show that immediately followed the ceremony, the show that gained the biggest increase in Demand Expressions was Netflix’s “The Kominsky Method,” which after the results were announced, gained 216% in demand compared to its baseline demand.

“The Kominsky Method” won two Golden Globes, for best comedy series and for Michael Douglas as best actor in a comedy series. Netflix last month announced the series, which co-stars Alan Arkin, has been picked up for a second season.

The second-biggest increase from the award win was for FX’s “American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace,” which gained 151% additional DEx.

Parrot Analytics’ correlation analysis (see chart, below) reveals that the higher the baseline demand a title had before winning, the less of a boost in demand it gets from winning. “This result makes intuitive sense, as a lesser known title has more room to grow its fan base on the back of the publicity from a big win than an already huge title can,” Parrot says.