HDR10+ Licensing, Logo Certification Program Begins

HDR10+ Technologies LLC June 20 announced the start of the new licensing and logo certification program for HDR10+ technology.

HDR10+ is the royalty-free, open standard dynamic metadata platform for High Dynamic Range (HDR), which optimizes picture quality for 4K Ultra HD displays and improves the viewing experience for all audiences.

The new HDR10+ technology optimizes picture quality for 4K Ultra HD displays by using dynamic tone mapping to reflect frame to frame or scene to scene variations in brightness, color saturation, and contrast. The resulting enhanced viewing experience can now be easily provided on a wide range of displays bringing the viewing experience much closer to the original creative intent for the content.

The HDR10+ license and logo certification is available to interested companies that meet HDR10+ technical and testing specifications. The HDR10+ certification program qualifies the compliance based on different device categories and their technical performance to ensure that HDR10+ compliant products meet high standards for picture quality.

An on-pack HDR10+ logo signifies a product’s certification. The royalty-free adoption of HDR10+ for content production, distribution and consumption currently has more than 40 supporting companies.

“The new HDR10+ licensing and certification program represents a technological step forward for next generation displays,” said Danny Kaye, EVP of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment and Managing Director of the Fox Innovation Lab. “HDR10+ improves the viewing experience for all audiences by delivering higher picture quality to a wider range of affordable TVs and devices.”

The HDR10+ platform was also designed to allow for future development and innovation in order to deliver a more powerful technology in the years to come.

‘Maze Runner’ Finale Finds Path to Top Spot on Disc Sales Chart

Maze Runner: The Death Cure, from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, debuted at No. 1 on the NPD VideoScan First Alert sales chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales, and the dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart the week ended April 28.

The third and final film based on the post-apocalyptic “Maze Runner” young-adult novels earned $58 million at the domestic box office. A trilogy collection landed at No. 12 overall and No. 10 on the Blu-ray chart.

The musical hit The Greatest Showman, also from Fox, dropped to No. 2 after two weeks in the top spot.

The heist thriller Den of Thieves, from Universal Pictures, debuted at No. 3 overall and No. 4 on the Blu-ray chart after a $45 million haul at the domestic box office.

Another newcomer, Lionsgate’s Hostiles, debuted at No. 4 overall and No. 5 on the Blu-ray chart. The film, which stars Christian Bale as a U.S. Cavalry officer assigned to escort a Cheyenne chief and his family back to tribal lands in 1892, earned $29.8 million in U.S. theaters.

Dropping to the fifth spot overall and third on the Blu-ray list was Disney’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi in its fifth week on disc.

Two other newcomers found a spot in the overall top 10, with Warner’s Paddington 2 debuting at No. 6 (No. 7 on the Blu-ray chart) and Lionsgate’s Forever My Girl at No. 7 (No. 11 on the Blu-ray chart).

Blu-ray Disc accounted for 58% of unit sales for both Death Cure and Den of Thieves, compared with 43% for Hostiles, 51% for Paddington 2 and 30% for Forever My Girl.

On the Media Play News rental chart for the week ended April 29, Den of Thieves debuted at No. 1, pushing Lionsgate’s The Commuter to No. 2.

Hostiles entered the chart at No. 3, with Greatest Showman slipping to No. 4 and Paddington 2 arriving at No. 5.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 04-28-18
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 04-29-18
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 04-28-18
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 04-28-18
Sales Report for Week Ended 04-28-18
Digital Sales Snapshot for Week Ended 04-30-18

‘Die Hard’ 30th Anniversary Edition Disc Coming in May

A 30th anniversary edition of the classic action film Die Hard is on the way from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

The studio on May 15 will release an all-new 4K Ultra HD remaster as well as a regular Blu-ray Disc.

The 1988 film, which launched a five-film franchise, stars Bruce Willis as a New York City police officer who flies to Los Angeles on Christmas Eve to visit his wife at a party in her company’s elegant high-rise (the same Century City building that is now headquarters for 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment). A group of terrorists seize the building and take everyone hostage except for Willis, who must single-handedly save the day.

Fox also has partnered with Walmart to issue the Die Hard 5-Film Box Set, a steelbook-encased collection of all five “Die Hard” movies: the 1988 original, Die Hard 2 (1990), Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995), Live Free or Die Hard (2007) and A Good Day to Die Hard (2013). The five-film set is also due May 15 and will be available only at Walmart stores.

The Blu-ray Disc reissue features no new bonus content, just the same extras as on a previous release:

  • Commentary by director John McTiernan and production designer Jackson DeGovia
  • Scene-specific commentary by special effects supervisor Richard Edlund
  • Subtitle commentary by various cast and crew members
  • “The News Casts” featurette
  • Interactive style gallery
  • Interactive articles from Cinefex and American Cinematographer
  • Full-length screenplay
  • Trailers and TV spots

‘Greatest Showman’ Sings Up a No. 1 Disc Debut

After two weeks at No. 1, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi finally ceded the top spot on the national home video sales charts to a new release from 20th Century Fox.

The Greatest Showman, a musical biopic about circus showman P.T. Barnum, took the No. 1 spot the week ended April 14 on both the NPD VideoScan First Alert sales chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales, and NPD VideoScan’s dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart.

Last Jedi slipped to No. 2 on both charts, selling about one-third as many discs as the Fox musical, which earned over $173 million in U.S. theaters.

No. 3 on both the overall and Blu-ray disc sales charts was Sony Pictures’ successful Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.

The No. 4 spot on the two sales charts went to two different new releases. On the overall disc chart, season three of “Outlander” debuted at No. 4, while on the Blu-ray Disc sales chart Warner’s animated direct-to-video Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay took fourth place.

Hell to Pay bowed at No. 5 on the overall disc sales chart, while on the Blu-ray Disc sales chart fifth place went to Disney’s Thor: Ragnarok, still in the top five after more than a month of availability.

Outlander: Season Three debuted at No. 6 on the Blu-ray Disc sales chart.

One other new release made the top 10 its first week out: Sony Pictures’ Proud Mary, a mob thriller with a box office take of less than $21 million. The film debuted at No. 8 on the overall disc sales chart and No. 10 on the Blu-ray Disc sales chart.

Greatest Showman generated 66% of its first week sales from Blu-ray Disc and 7% from 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, according to VideoScan.

Outlander sales were just 43% Blu-ray, compared with 70% for Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay.

On the Media Play News rental chart for the week ended April 15, Jumanji held onto the top spot for a fourth consecutive week.

Warner’s Father Figures remained at No. 2, with the next three chart positions going to new releases: Proud Mary at No. 3; All the Money in the World, also from Sony Pictures, at No. 4; and Molly’s Game, from Universal Pictures, at No. 5.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 04-14-18
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 04-15-18
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 04-14-18
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 04-14-18
Sales Report for Week Ended 04-14-18
Digital Sales Snapshot for Week Ended 04-16-18

‘Red Sparrow’ Coming Out on Disc May 22

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment has set a May 22 release date for Red Sparrow, a suspense-driven spy drama starring Jennifer Lawrence.

The film will be released on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray Disc, and DVD.

As of April 15, Red Sparrow has earned $46.5 million in U.S. theaters.

Lawrence portrays Dominika, a former ballerina forced to enter Sparrow School, a secret government program that thrusts her into a treacherous espionage game between Russia and the CIA. She emerges trained as a lethal agent, but is trapped in a world she desperately wants to escape.

The film was directed by Francis Lawrence (Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Mockingjay Parts 1 & 2) and features a supporting cast that includes Joel Edgerton, Jeremy Irons, Matthias Schoenaerts, Mary-Louise Parker, Charlotte Rampling and Joely Richardson. Bonus material takes viewers inside the making of the film, exploring source material with the author, cast and director commentary, deleted scenes and more.

All three disc releases comes with director commentary and deleted scenes (with optional commentary by director Lawrence). The 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray Disc also include the following:

  • “A New Cold War: Origination and Adaptation”
  • “Agents Provocateurs: The Ensemble Cast”
  • “Tradecraft: Visual Authenticity”
  • “Heart of the Tempest: On Location”
  • “Welcome to Sparrow School: Ballet and Stunts”
  • “A Puzzle of Need: Post-Production”
  • Movies Anywhere Digital Code

    

Science Meets Art

The iconic Fox Plaza building will be forever remembered in pop culture for its role in the 1988 action movie Die Hard, known for its over-the-top special effects.Thirty years later, something just as explosive is happening in a quiet suite of rooms on the 20th floor of the Century City high-rise, adjacent to the 20th Century Fox movie studio.

A pair of double doors with a small “Fox Innovation Lab” placard, along with the suite number (2000), leads into a network of 11 rooms where the future of home entertainment is being discussed, dissected, debated and, ultimately, developed by a full-time staff of five — joined, on occasion, by interns and various other Fox employees.

The high-tech think tank and lab was launched in 2014 — under the auspices of Mike Dunn, now 20th Century Fox’s product strategy and consumer business development president; Danny Kaye, 20th Century Fox’s research and tech strategy EVP; and the studio’s chief technology officer, Hanno Basse — as a way to meld the often disparate worlds of technology and entertainment, of Silicon Valley and Hollywood.

“The notion of the Fox Innovation Lab is simply to work with technology companies to figure out what the next generation of the consumer entertainment experience could be and would be, so we are constantly innovating on new platforms and new technologies that drive the next-gen experience,” says Kaye, a former UCLA psychology professor who serves as the Lab’s managing director. The Lab played a key role in advancing 4K Ultra HD with high dynamic range (HDR), which offers a more life-like picture. Most recently the Lab has led the charge to HDR10+, an open, royalty-free HDR technology featuring “dynamic metadata,” which more precisely adjusts content to the capabilities of different TVs.The Lab is also experimenting, and innovating, with virtual, augmented and mixed reality. The Lab’s VR work led to Fox’s first commercial VR product, The Martian VR Experience, a 20-minute interactive experience that lets viewers “become” Matt Damon in the 2015 Ridley Scott-helmed sci-fi film The Martian.
As an outgrowth of the Lab’s VR work, Fox last year launched a new business unit, FoxNext, which not only works on VR and AR, but also on location-based entertainment and gaming.
Fox Innovation Lab is now looking at ways to harness artificial intelligence and machine learning to advance the consumer entertainment experience even more.

And this is why Fox Innovation Lab is one of two honorees in the inaugural Media Play News Fast Forward Awards, honoring people, technologies, organizations, products or services that move the home entertainment industry forward.

The 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.

With a nod to Dunn and Basse, Kaye says the Lab was initially a studio-only endeavor — but based on its early successes its scope has since expanded to work across the entire 21st Century Fox company, from Fox Sports to FX Networks, from the Fox Networks Group to National Geographic.

“We’re cutting across all film and TV areas as they currently exist,” Kaye says. “And perhaps the most important part of the lab is that we work with technology companies. Samsung was an initial partner in many projects — both of us were the first to introduce HDR TVs and content, physical and digital. Then Ericsson came on board, focused more on mobile entertainment, as the younger demographic depends more on the mobile entertainment experience. And then we’re working with other companies on artificial intelligence and machine learning — the Intels and the Microsofts of the world — and with Technicolor on VR.

“There’s really no limit to the kinds of things we cover, as long as they are relevant to where the consumer experience is being taken.”

Takashi Nakano, director of business development for Samsung Electronics America, says, “Samsung and Fox began working together to create a bridge between technology and media. Many products and initiatives like the UHD Alliance and HDR10+ were the direct result of our partnership with the Fox Innovation Lab. The Fox Innovation Lab creates an open forum for both companies to discuss and debate the intersection between media and technology with the hopes to create an immersive consumer experience and new business opportunities. Our joint initiatives through the UHD Alliance have opened up new markets and provided viewers the ability to
experience content and move closer to experiencing true creative intent. Key technology advancements have led to new and unique opportunities and challenges like 4K and HDR initiatives through OTT and new direct-to-consumer initiatives that open new monetization vehicles. As technology and media continue to converge, our partnership with the Fox Innovation Lab will become increasingly important. Whether it is at the movies or in your home, the partnership advances the screen experience in new and exciting ways.”

Mark Russell, CTO and head of strategy at Ericsson Media Solutions, agrees. “The Lab is a great sandbox,” he says. “We can take these amazing Fox assets and experiment with Ericsson’s global operator base on next-gen viewing experiences. We can test new consumer engagements and find out if they are reliable, high quality and secure.

“We are bringing the content creator closer to the consumer than ever before. This partnership allows us to test and build the networks, video processing and delivery specifically for home entertainment in a way we know the studio intended because we are literally sitting at the table with them.”

Russell said Ericsson’s partnership with the Fox Innovation Lab is an ongoing venture. “We were approached by Hanno Basse at Fox in 2016 about participating in the Lab,” Russell says. “His goal then, as it is now, was to explore innovative consumer engagements and find a way to implement them in the real world.

“From an Ericsson perspective, we were clearly interested as our operator customers look to us to help them implement UHD HDR, VR/AR and machine learning into their networks. Having the Fox Innovation Lab as our partner in this was incredibly welcome.

“We signed up as an official partner in 2017 and are still actively engaged today.”
Kaye says the Fox Innovation Lab is carrying on a tradition of innovation that has been a characteristic of Fox for years.

“If you go back to the early 2000s, that’s when we as a company began to be very actively involved with technology companies,” he says. “We were the first studio in the Blu-ray Disc
Association; we worked closely with all the technology companies that were working on Blu-ray, from the big consumer electronics companies in Japan, Korea, and Europe, to the various tools companies.

“Even before that, we worked with JVC on things like Digital VHS, which was really the first high-definition format. And subsequently, when we developed 3D along with the BDA, we again worked closely with JVC on high-quality 3D conversions.

“So I think we developed an attitude and a habit, really, of not waiting for technology to be given to us in the marketplace and then react with content that matched, but, rather, to co-develop content with technology companies — so that when those technologies are ready to be commercialized they are already sensitive to issues we’re familiar with, in regard to the consumer experience and consumer behavior.

“It’s not a matter of ‘build it and they will come,’ but, rather, build an experience through co-development.”

Those early years of innovation and partnerships with technology companies laid the groundwork for what would become Fox Innovation Lab.

“In the early part of this decade,” Kaye recalls, “I became involved in the Innovation Outreach Program that Microsoft was putting together. They brought very large companies from around the globe, in different industries and sectors, together, and all of us were working on innovation of some sort, from autos to pharma to entertainment to chip manufacturers, across the board. The idea was to share innovation developments, experiences and visions across industry sectors. And that gave us the idea that, as an entertainment company, we could actually do something similar.
“So we established our own Innovation Lab in 2014, with the notion of getting influential partners onboard to attack problems we felt would be germane over the years. Our first project, with Samsung, on 4K and HDR proved to be very successful. We essentially initiated what is now a pretty successful part of the business, with tens of millions of 4K TVs and Blu-ray disc players being sold, and of course the content business, the ultra-high-definition disc, which is certainly larger than anybody had predicted at the time.

“That may have happened on its own, but I think through innovation we accelerated that quite a bit.”

Kaye says his focus “is on the living room experience, the mobile experience, of filmed entertainment” — and in using new technologies such as VR and AR to improve and enhance that experience.

“One of the things we try to work on, for example, is how do you use a mobile device in AR to increase the value of the experience. Let’s say, for example, that you’re watching a NASCAR race on TV, and you’re not just seeing what you’re looking at on the TV, what the cameras are showing, but if you have a tablet or phone you can have a whole different experience — a different perspective on the race. You could have the perspective of being in the pit, with an overlay of all kinds of interesting data about the driver, about the car, and just by pointing the device at different objects on the screen that data will pop up.

“And we have to think of similar things in filmed entertainment, and that’s where things like mixed reality come in — where you have the potential to have an experience similar to virtual reality, but instead of being completely in a virtual world, isolated from your surroundings, you’re also seeing your own environment and overlaying other environments through the lens of a headset.
“You could be in this particular room and I could be playing a game in this room and the game would map out in the room and take advantage of the walls and furniture as they exist, so I could see objects through the lens in an environment I know, because I know the room.”

At this point, one of Kaye’s lieutenants, director Clayton Biele, demonstrated Microsoft’s futuristic HoloLens, a pair of mixed-reality smart glasses. The headset goes on, and when you look at blood spatters that have been painted onto a wall in one of the lab’s demonstration rooms a holographic “memory” comes up that shows how the blood spatter got there — specifically, through a brutal murder.

Danny Kaye, managing director of the Fox Innovation Lab

Kaye is undisputedly one of the best-educated studio executives. A native of the Bronx, he earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Cornell University and went on to earn a Ph.D. in psychology from Syracuse University, with specialized experience in statistics and methodology, human perception and cognition.

He continued post-doctoral studies at Yale University and taught there, as well, before moving out west in 1981 to join UCLA as a psychology professor, focused on visual cognition and visual perception in both children and adults.

“When I decided to move into the business world, I at first worked at Mattel Toys, which was heavily represented by psychology Ph.D.s, doing research on kids and parents.”

After five years at Mattel, Kaye in 1994 joined Applause Inc. as VP of strategic planning and research. In May 1996 he began a three-year run as VP of research and strategic planning at Universal Studios Consumer Products. He landed at 20th Century Fox in 1999, rising to EVP of research and technology strategy, and in 2014 played a key role in establishing the Fox Innovation Lab.

“One of the reasons the lab works the way it does is because in our Fox tradition we have also had a seamless relationship internally between the business folks and the engineering and technology teams,” Kaye says. “Most of the projects are driven by the engineers, with Fox engineers working with engineers at the other companies. But even beyond that, through my business and research and Hanno’s technology teams driving development, we’re also involved with the creative community internally. That is certainly demonstrated with VR and AR, where we brought the whole film community in to develop those technologies.”

It’s the same thing with HDR, Kaye says. “The project started as an engineering project to create this new high dynamic range technology, but rather than let Samsung develop the technology in a vacuum, making sure the bees and flowers look good on the screen, we brought in our creative teams, as well as our directors and colorists, to make sure we were utilizing that technology to reflect the creative intent of the filmmakers.

“Back with Blu-ray Disc, we worked with people like Ridley Scott — Blu-ray was the only format for the home that reminded him of what he intended to film on the set, he told us. And now with HDR10+, we again have something that brings the best experience into the home — and not just on high-end TVs, but also on mid-range TVs that most people buy.

“It’s because of this intersection of business, technology and creative that we are able to see where this business is going. And as long as we continue to combine those three segments, we’ll be ahead of the curve. We don’t predetermine projects; we keep track of trends and prioritize trends that we think we will be able to make an impact on in a relatively short period of time.

“At the same time, we also keep an eye on technologies beyond that, and that is why we have an interest in 5G, and why we dabble in artificial intelligence and machine learning.”Through it all, in both the short term and the long term, Kaye says his ultimate goal is to enhance the entertainment experience and, in the words of Paul Simon, keep the customer satisfied.

“We still believe that people will consume our entertainment, in part, because of the quality of the experience, visual and audio,” he says. “And, again, if you track back, starting with DVD, there was a great increase in quality of the viewing experience, and then we did it again with Blu-ray Disc and then we went to 4K with HDR, and all along, at the same time, TV manufacturers were making better and better products.

“So we have to keep pace or move even further forward with the quality of the content we are giving the consumer. We’ve done it with physical formats, and now we’re doing the same thing with digital formats.

“If you compare digital files today with digital files 10 years ago, they’re night and day in terms of quality. And at the same time we’re working on improving the speed of delivery, on how to get high-quality content more rapidly into the home or on whatever device the consumer is using. This is where the new 5G networks come. And devices are getting better, so you’re going to keep having better experiences on almost any device.

“Continuous improvement — that’s really what we’re all about.”

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.

‘Archer,’ ‘The Americans’ Season Sets Headed to DVD

Twentieth Century Fox in March will release two season sets of acclaimed FX TV series on DVD only.

Season 8 of “Archer” will be issued on disc on March 20, followed a week later, on March 27, by season five of “The Americans.”’

The eighth season of “Archer,” known as Archer: Dreamland, consists of eight episodes, with a total run time of 173 minutes. The animated series revolves around secret agent Archer, who in season eight — the first to air on FX sister channel FXX — is cast as a sleuth in 1940s Los Angeles searching for his partner’s killer. The DVD set includes audio commentary on the episodes “No Good Deed,” “Ladyfingers” and “Auflosung” by Amber Nash, Lucky Yates and Casey Willis.

“The Americans” DVD set consists of  13 episodes that aired on FX from March 7 to May 30, 2017 — a total of 585 minutes of programming. The series, set in Cold War America during the early 1980s, stars Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys as two Soviet KGB officers posing as an American married couple living in the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., with their two children. The DVD set includes deleted scenes, a gag reel and previews.

Season One of ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Due on Disc March 13

Season one of “The Handmaid’s Tale” will be released March 13 on DVD and Blu-ray Disc from MGM and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

“Handmaid’s Tale” became the first show from a streaming service to win an Emmy for Best Drama Series. The show ended up winning eight Primetime Emmy Awards, two Golden Globes and three Critics Choice Awards.

The three-disc set of the first season includes two new featurettes that take viewers deeper into the world of the dystopian society of Gilead.

Based on Margaret Atwood’s best-selling novel, “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which begins streaming its second season on Hulu April 25, is the story of life in a totalitarian society in what was formerly the United States. Facing environmental disasters and a plunging birthrate, Gilead is ruled by a twisted fundamentalist regime that treats women as property of the state.  As one of the few remaining fertile women, Offred (Golden Globe- and Emmy-winner Elisabeth Moss) is a Handmaid in the Commander’s household, one of the castes of women forced into sexual servitude as a last desperate attempt to repopulate a devastated world.

Extra features include “From Script to Screen,” in which viewers can go inside the premiere episode’s harrowing scene where Handmaids violently participate in the execution of an alleged attacker, and “Hope in Gilead,” which examines the reasons why the book and series has captivated millions and become a cultural phenomenon.