More Retro Sega Video Games in the Pipeline

Sega of America on Sept. 20 announced that the first two titles in its “Sega Ages” line, Sonic the Hedgehog and Lightening Force: Quest for the Darkstar, are now available digitally on Nintendo Switch on the Nintendo eShop for $7.99 each.

Sega Ages is a series of classic Sega games developed by M2, the Japanese developer known for high-quality ports of vintage games such as the popular “Sega 3D Classics” series on the Nintendo 3DS.  The line is part of Sega’s broader support for retro games, including upcoming releases such as Sega Genesis Classics for Nintendo Switch.

Sonic the Hedgehog is the Blue Blur’s debut title. This is where the chase for those Chaos Emeralds started. This new version of the classic video game also adds new features like Drop Dash, as well as the console premiere of the Mega Play arcade version.

Lightening Force: Quest for the Darkstar, considered one of the best shooters of its era, features frenetic action and vertical and horizontal scrolling. The new version of the game mixes in a new Styx mode that lets players pilot the ship from its predecessor, plus a Kids mode for newcomers and rankings for the “shmup” elite.

In the coming months, fans of vintage video games will be able to enjoy other classics such as Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Out RunSpace HarrierColumns II, Thunder Force AC, and Phantasy Star.

Phantasy Star is a groundbreaking sci-fi RPG that follows Alis in her planet-spanning quest to avenge the death of her brother and topple a tyrannical regime. Besides faithfully recreating the original experience, this version adds a new map display to help novice adventurers and a compendium where longtime fans can view their favorite monsters.

Sony to Bring Back Original PlayStation Console

Sony Interactive Entertainment on Sept. 19 announced plans to bring back the original PlayStation video game console, launched nearly 25 years ago, “in a new miniaturized version,” according to a blog post by Eric Lempel, SVP of PlayStation worldwide marketing.

The console, due Dec. 3 at a suggested retail price of $99.99, will come pre-loaded with 20 classic titles, including Final Fantasy VIIJumping FlashRidge Racer Type 4Tekken 3, and Wild Arms.

The mini console, Lempel writes is approximately 45% smaller than the original PlayStation, “and it emulates the original’s look and feel by featuring similar controllers and packaging. Long-time fans will appreciate the nostalgia that comes with rediscovering the games they know and love, while gamers who might be new to the platform can enjoy the groundbreaking PlayStation console experience that started it all. All of the pre-loaded games will be playable in their original format.”

Unlike the original, each unit will come with an HDMI cable so players can connect the device to their TVs. The console also will come up with a USB cable and two controllers for local multiplayer within compatible titles.

The original PlayStation video gaming system was released on Dec. 3, 1994. It went on to become the first video game console to ship 100 million units.

Its successor, the PlayStation 2, was released in 2000, followed by the PlayStation 3 in 2006 and the PlayStation 4 in 2013.

‘Ocean’s 8’ Tops Redbox Disc and Digital Charts

Ocean’s 8, the newly released comedy from Warner Bros., was the top physical and digital movie at Redbox the week ended Sept. 17.

The film, an all-female spinoff of the Steven Soderbergh’s “Ocean’s” trilogy, was No. 1 on both Redbox’s kiosk chart, which tracks DVD and Blu-ray Disc rentals, and the Redbox On Demand chart, which tracks digital purchases (EST) and rentals (TVOD).

Ocean’s 8 grossed nearly $140 million in North American theaters and features an ensemble cast that includes Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter, and Awkwafina.

Ocean’s 8 was released digitally Aug. 21 and on disc Sept. 11.

Two other new releases also debuted in the top 10, one on the Redbox kiosk chart and the other on the Redbox On Demand digital chart.

On the Redbox kiosk chart, the DVD and Blu-ray Disc of SuperFly bowed at No. 4. A remake of the 1972 blaxploitation film Super Fly, the theatrical underperformer stars Trevor Jackson, Jason Mitchell,  Michael Kenneth Williams (“The Wire”), Lex Scott Davis, Jennifer Morrison, Kaalan Walker, Esai Morales, and Andrea Londo.

On the Redbox on Demand chart, Vertical Entertainment’s much-maligned mobster film Gotti, with John Travolta portraying notorious New York gangster John Gotti, debuted at No. 7.

Twentieth Century Fox’s superhero spoof Deadpool 2 dropped to No. 3 on Redbox’s disc rental chart after two weeks at No. 1, while Warner’s Tag held firm at No. 2.

Rounding out the top five on the kiosk chart was Universal Pictures’ Adrift, which debuted at No. 4 the prior week. The film, about two seafaring adventurers who unwittingly sail into a hurricane, earned just under $31.5 million domestically.

On the Redbox On Demand chart, Paramount’s Annihilation, originally released back in May, made a surprise return to the chart at No. 2.

Tag, the top digital title the prior week, slipped to No. 3.

Rounding out the top five on the Redbox On Demand digital chart for the week ended Sept. 17 were Adrift at No. 4 (down from No. 2 the previous week) and  Deadpool 2 at No. 5 (down from No. 3).

 

Top DVD and Blu-ray Disc Rentals, Redbox Kiosks, Week Ending September 17

  1. Ocean’s 8 (new)
  2. Tag
  3. Deadpool 2
  4. SuperFly (new)
  5. Adrift
  6. Hereditary
  7. Life of the Party
  8. Book Club
  9. Avengers: Infinity War
  10. Breaking In

 

Top Digital, Redbox On Demand, Week Ending September 17

  1. Ocean’s 8 (new)
  2. Annihilation
  3. Tag
  4. Adrift
  5. Deadpool 2
  6. Book Club
  7. Gotti (new)
  8. SuperFly
  9. Life of the Party
  10. Destination Wedding

 

Visit the Redbox website.

Buy or rent Redbox On Demand movies.

DEG Meeting to Focus on Doing Business In, and With, China

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group is hosting a special membership meeting Sept. 25 at the Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel in Los Angeles about doing business in and with China.

The meeting starts at 2 p.m. and will be followed at 5 p.m. by a networking session.

“Creative Collaboration with China” is hosted by Cinedigm, the film company majority-owned by Hong Kong private equity group Bison Capital.

Amy Jo Smith, president of DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group

Cinedigm in January announced an alliance with leading China-based Starrise Media Holdings Ltd. to release movies in China theatrically and digitally. The deal also paved the way for Cinedigm to distribute Chinese films in North America.

“Part of DEG’s mission is to provide members with leading-edge knowledge and resources about emerging trends and technologies to prepare for growth,” said Amy Jo Smith, CEO and president of DEG. “In this vein, this program will delve into how media and entertainment companies in the U.S. and China can work more closely to refine storytelling and script development to improve content performance across existing and emerging distribution platforms, and how the evolving distribution landscape may affect future revenue potential for content in both markets.

In the keynote address, Cinedigm Entertainment Group president Bill Sondheim will provide introductory remarks. “We are making a concerted effort to build meaningful bridges between the U.S. and China film industries and I see great enthusiasm in China and Hollywood because both sides see economic benefits,” Sondheim told Media Play News.

Sondheim’s remarks will be followed by a “chat” with Cinedigm chairman and CEO Chris McGurk and Bill Mechanic, the former 20th Century Fox studio chief (and, before that, the home video head for the Walt Disney Co.) who now heads Pandemonium Films. Bennett Pozil, EVP of East West Bank, will moderate. Variety once said, “Pozil has become the go-to financier for those at the intersection of Hollywood and China’s film markets.”

The keynote will be followed by a panel discussion on distribution strategies, consumption patterns and content creation trends in China and the United States.

Panelists include Marc Gareton, EVP, International Asia-Pacific and International Productions for Warner Bros. Home Entertainment; Doris Pfardrescher, president and CEO of Well Go USA; and Daniel Solnicki, EVP, Business Operations, as NBCUniversal. Stewart Till will moderate.

In addition to the speakers, about 15 delegates traveling from China will attend, including representatives from the highest levels of government and companies like Tencent.

“We are very honored to have been able to develop this program as a knowledge exchange with Film and TV Import and Export Association (FTIEA) members from China and to host a delegation from FTIEA that has traveled to Los Angeles to participate in the program with U.S. producers, distribution experts and business development executives,” Smith said.

The meeting is free for DEG members. To RSVP, or to inquire about non-member attendance, email Shannon@degonline.org.

Sony Pictures to Release ‘The Marine 6’ on Disc, Digital Nov. 13

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has set a Nov. 13 release date for The Marine 6: Close Quarters, the sixth installment in the action film series produced by WWE Studios and starring various WWE wrestlers in the lead roles.

The film will be available on digital, Blu-ray Disc and DVD.

In Marine 6, Mike “The Miz” Mizanin returns as Jack Carter, joined by fellow WWE wrestling stars Shawn Michaels and Becky Lynch. Carter and another former Marine, Luke Trapper (Michaels), join forces to rescue a kidnapped girl from a gang of international criminals. The film also stars Louisa Connolly-Burnham (Time Will Tell), Terence Maynard (“Edge of Tomorrow”) and Tim Woodward (K-19: The Widowmaker).

The digital, Blu-ray Disc and DVD releases of The Marine 6: Close Quarters include two behind-the-scenes featurettes.  In “Making Maddy & The Marines,” Mizanin and Michaels take on newcomer Lynch, highlighting their experiences on set and what it was like to work together. The second featurette, “The Breakdown: Epic Fights,” features the WWE wrestlers and  stunt choreographer Tim Man breaking down the fight scenes and revealing how they trained for their roles.

Directed by James Nunn and written by Craig Walendziak, The Marine 6: Closer Quarters is produced by Michael J. Luisi and executive produced by Richard Lowell.

Marvel Superhero Series Surge on Digital Originals Chart

Two Marvel superhero series from Netflix are back in the top 10 on the digital originals chart for the week ended Sept. 15, led by “Marvel’s Iron Fist.”

The arrival of the highly anticipated second season propelled the action series to No. 4 from No. 22 the prior week, with a whopping 139% gain in Demand Expressions, Parrot Analytics data shows.

The perennially popular “Marvel’s Daredevil” also reappeared in the top 10 with a 20% bump in Demand Expressions, triggered by the release of a teaser trailer released on Sept. 11.

“Demand Expressions” is a proprietary metric used by Parrot Analytics to measure 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.

Finales and premieres also impacted the top 10. After a successful season launch, Hulu’s “Castle Rock” ended on Sept. 12; high demand for the finale prompted the series – based on the writings of horror author Stephen King – to shoot back up to No. 2 from No. 4 the prior week, even though demand was up just 2%.

Meanwhile, “BoJack Horseman” experienced a 24% week-on-week spike on demand after new episodes started airing on Sept. 14, resulting in a bump up to No. 5 from No. 8.

“Stranger Things” remains No. 1 on the digital originals chart for the week ended Sept. 15, with demand relatively flat from the prior week.

The Netflix series took the top spot on the chart the previous week, ending a five-week run at No. 1 by “Orange is the New Black,” the women-in-prison drama series now in its sixth season.

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.

Netflix Picks Ownzones for Post Technology Alliance

Netflix has picked over-the-top video distribution and media company Ownzones Entertainment Technologies to be part of Netflix’s new Post Technology Alliance, a program for manufacturers whose products serve the needs of the post-production community through innovation and support.

Ownzones Connect provides content owners and post-production facilities with a fast and inexpensive cloud solution for processing and transferring video to any major streaming or broadcasting platform.

Manufacturers of products bearing the Post Technology Alliance logo have early access to the Netflix technical roadmap and collaborate with the subscription streaming giant on technical support, training, and updates. The Post Technology Alliance logo signals that a product meets and Netflix’s technical and delivery specifications.

“At Netflix, empowering our creative partners is incredibly important, and the Post Technology Alliance program will build a more seamless experience from production through post-production,” said Chris Fetner, director of post partnerships and integrations at Netflix. “Products that bear the logo are committed to better interoperability and faster innovation cycles, which will allow artists to focus their energy on what matters most – the storytelling.”

Since it was founded in 2010, Ownzones has created, launched and operated over 400 subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) channels, reaching hundreds of thousands of users and transcoding and managing more than 5 million digital assets. Recently Ownzones has pivoted toward its core technology competencies, building a suite of products centered around cloud-based video supply chain solutions.

“Our inclusion in the Netflix Post Technology Alliance is a huge vote of confidence in our technology and in Ownzones as a trusted service provider to entertainment companies that supply content to Netflix,” said Ownzones CEO Dan Goman. “Ownzones thrives in the evolving entertainment and tech landscape as the partner companies need today for tomorrow’s transformational changes, bringing complete video supply chain and monetization solutions under our customers’ command.”

Ownzones Connect is a cloud-native video supply chain platform with an on-demand, software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution. Hosted in the cloud through Amazon Web Services, Connect eliminates the need for studios and post-production houses to continually make capital investments in data servers and allows them to rapidly deliver any format to any platform, including IMF packages.

Ownzones Connect supports the SMPTE Interoperable Master Format (IMF), which is on track to become the industry standard for storing and transferring digital video files. Netflix already uses IMF to store its masters in the cloud.

Ownzones is currently attending IBC 2018, Europe’s largest media, entertainment and technology show, being held in Amsterdam through Sept. 18. Ownzones is showcasing its products in Amazon Web Service’s exhibit space.

HBO to Issue Season One of ‘Barry’ on DVD Oct. 2

HBO Home Entertainment has set an Oct. 2 DVD-only release date for the first season of the critically acclaimed dark comedy series “Barry.”

The set includes all eight episodes in the series, in which Bill Hader  (“Saturday Night Live,” Trainwreck) portrays the title character, a depressed, low-rent hitman from the Midwest who falls in love with acting while on a job in Los Angeles. Barry’s handler, Fuches (Stephen Root), hires Barry out to the deeply violent Chechen mob, led by Goran Pazar (Glenn Fleshler), and his right-hand man, NoHo Hank (Anthony Carrigan). Barry’s target is an aspiring actor who is having an affair with Pazar’s wife. When Barry follows his “mark” into an acting class taught by Gene Cousineau (Henry Winkler), he is instantly drawn to the group of acting students, particularly Sally (Sarah Goldber). Barry wants to start a new life in this community of eager hopefuls, but his criminal past won’t let him walk away.

Nominated for a total of 13 Emmy Awards, the first season of “Barry” is executive produced by Hader and Emmy nominee Alec Berg (“Silicon Valley”). Bonus features on Barry: The Complete First Season include:

  • Invitation to the set: Hader and the cast and crew of “Barry” give viewers an inside look at the comedy series.
  • Inside the Episodes: Eight featurettes dissecting each episode from Hader, Berg, and more.
  • The World of Barry:  Henry Winkler and the rest of the cast introduce the show’s quirky characters.

 

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow …

The impermanence of the digital world struck home last January when we launched Media Play News and the owners of Home Media Magazine shut down that property’s website. All of a sudden, 17 years worth of stories — dating back to 2000, when what was then Video Store Magazine first appeared on the Internet — were gone. Vanished. Disappeared. Ceased to exist.

Thank God we have a storage locker full of print copies, I thought to myself. And that storage locker full of print copies often comes in handy when we have to research stories about our business, and find precious little historical content available on the web — just a steady stream of broken links and blank screens.

I bet a lot of people around the country who read the Sept. 13 Forbes story on disappearing digital movies are looking at their DVD and Blu-ray Disc collections with the same sense of pride – and relief.

According to the story, by contributor John Archer, “Reports have started to emerge of Apple completely deleting films from iTunes accounts even when they’ve been bought, not merely rented. And when people complain about this, they’re receiving an astonishing message from Apple telling them that iTunes is just a ‘store front,’ and so Apple isn’t to blame if a film studio decides it no longer wants to make its titles available on iTunes.”

On top of that, Archer writes in Forbes, consumers whose films are yanked shouldn’t expect a refund. “When an iTunes user in Canada complained to Apple that their initial offer of a free $5.99 rental hardly seemed suitable recompense for him having three bought films summarily removed from his account, Apple replied that ‘our ability to offer refunds diminishes over time. Hence your purchases doesn’t meet the conditions for a refund.’”

The bottom line, Archer concludes: “Apple appears to be openly saying that if you buy a film on iTunes, you don’t really own it at all.”

That’s a frightening proposition for movie fans who aren’t satisfied with the meager selection of quality films available through the streaming services, with their focus on original (and episodic) content.

It’s also, sadly, old news. When you buy a movie digitally, you don’t actually own the film, the way you do if you buy it on disc. You buy “digital rights” to the movie, which is not exactly the same thing. As the Los Angeles Times observed more than two years ago, “there are significant differences between owning a tangible product and owning its electronic equivalent.”

In other words, if you own a DVD or Blu-ray Disc, you own it forever. You can sell it, trade it, lend it, pass it on to your kids.

But if you “own” a digital movie, you might wake up one day and find it gone – just like those hundreds, if not thousands, of Home Media Magazine stories that disappeared, overnight, from the Web.

(I should add that the only way to really own a digital movie is to download it, which many people simply don’t do because it takes up so much space. Most purchased movies live on iTunes.)

I’ve become a huge fan of digital movies. The tipping point, for me, was the emergence of Movies Anywhere, which makes digital movie collecting easier than it’s ever been and provides instant access to my library wherever I am. Heck, I even watched a movie on my phone while on a camping trip in Death Valley.

But I always buy the disc first, and then input the digital code into my Movies Anywhere account.

And if I do buy a movie electronically sometime in the future, you can bet I’m going to make sure I have enough room on my hard drive to download it – right away.

Universal Sets Home Release Dates for ‘Mile 22’ Actioner

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has set home release dates for Mile 22, a modern thriller from the director of Lone Survivor starring Mark Wahlberg.

The film, which earned $35.5 million in U.S. theaters, will arrive on digital Oct. 30 and as a Blu-ray Disc combo pack, DVD and On Demand on Nov. 13.

Mile 22, from STXfilms, stars Wahlberg as James Silva, an operative of the CIA’s most highly-prized and little-known unit. Aided by a top-secret tactical command team, Silva must transport an asset (Iko Uwais) who has vital information to an airfield for extraction before the enemy closes in.

From director  Peter Berg (Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon), Mile 22 also features performances by Lauren Cohan (“The Walking Dead”), Ronda Rousey (Fast & Furious 7) and John Malkovich (Red).

Bonus features on the Blu-ray Disc combo back, DVD and digital:

  • Overwatch: Follow the “Overwatch,” the para-military division in Mile 22, and explore the background and inspiration as to why this type of team was chosen for the film.
  • Introducing Iko: A spotlight on action star Iko Uwais and his experience with combat fighting, stunt work and choreographing his own scenes in the film.
  • Iko Fight: Interview with Uwais discussing his intense fight scenes from the practice room to the final shot.
  • Bad Ass Women: A behind-the-scenes look with stars Lauren Cohan and Ronda Rousey along with writer Lea Carpenter, discussing stunts, intellectual smarts and the overall tenacity of the film’s female characters.
  • BTS Stunts: An in-depth take on the creation of the action-packed stunts of Mile 22 with commentary from Director Peter Berg and the film’s stars.
  • Modern Combat: Explore the concept of modern action cinema, where scenes are created and shot in real time with multiple cameras, mesmerizing cinematography and intense action stunts.
  • Colombia: Take a tour of Bogota, Colombia with the cast and filmmakers discussing key filming location points.
  • Trailers