Content Marketplace Company Vuulr Adds Two Execs

Vuulr, a global online content marketplace for film and television rights, has added two senior film industry executives. Daniel Gagliardi will serve as SVP of business development and strategy for the Americas. Andrew Marshall joins the team as head of legal and commercial partnerships.

“Great tech on its own is not enough, its needs to be wrapped with great support from industry experts who fully understand the challenges our buyers and sellers face in their business today,” Ian McKee, Vuulr’s global CEO, said in a statement. “I’m really excited to have Daniel and Andrew onboard as we scale the business.”

Gagliardi will lead efforts to help further develop the company’s growing position as a global online content marketplace for film and television rights, using his extensive and recent experience as both a content buyer and seller.

“As the content seller who helped drive the global rollout of services like Tubi, Pluto TV, Roku, and others, I know first hand the need for quick, efficient and strategic content licensing,” Gagliardi said in a statement. “What excites me most about Vuulr is our ability to transform the business of content licensing, not only with such a large selection of content, but by also offering hyper-local/regional content to help channels and platforms of all types expand around the globe.”

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Prior to joining the Vuulr team, Gagliardi was head of content at Vudu, a Walmart company, where he was responsible for building and leading the content partnerships team. During his tenure, Vudu debuted its first original television series, its first original film, commissioned a dozen additional originals, and partnered with hundreds of content licensors, including Disney, Warner Bros., Sony, Lionsgate, MGM and Samuel Goldwyn, among others. He also worked at Lionsgate where he was VP of worldwide television and digital distribution. In this role he built and led the company’s ad-supported licensing team, forging and overseeing deals with Hulu, YouTube, Tubi, Pluto TV, Roku, Amazon and Crackle, among others.

Marshall has held positions at ESPN STAR Sports, NBCUniversal and The Walt Disney Company.

“I am excited to join Vuulr as they pioneer the transformation of distribution and acquisition,” Marshall said in a statement. “Bringing the efficiencies of doing business online is a critical success factor for the industry as it transforms and the new normals emerge. Vuulr is on the leading edge of enabling this change which brings benefits to Buyers, Sellers and Audiences.”

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Marshall brings a deep understanding of the evolving legal, regulatory commercial landscape for media and entertainment companies, gained from working at leading industry players, according to a Vuulr press release. Marshall was previously general counsel and SVP of legal and business affairs at ESPN STAR Sports and a regional counsel for all lines of business in Australia, New Zealand and South-East Asia at The Walt Disney Company, with a focus on content licensing, including theatrical distribution, studio marketing and home entertainment. More recently, he was commercial director for Universal brand development, where he grew the character licensing business for NBCUniversal in Southeast Asia.

Vuulr launched in January 2019 as a global online content marketplace for film and TV rights that connects buyers with content sellers worldwide, providing both with a platform to negotiate and transact directly and securely. The company connects buyers and distributors regardless of time zone or geography, providing an opportunity to access an always-on, diverse selection of mainstream and niche content.

The Vuulr online sales platform currently features content from producers and distributors across the globe, comprising more than 23,000 titles/135,000 hours, across more than 60 genres and 70 languages. Vuulr aims to slash the cost, effort, and time involved in doing transactions for the industry, and licensing transactions on Vuulr close, on average, in 10 days, according to the company.

Cinedigm Acquires Fandor Streaming Service

Cinedigm has acquired Fandor, a subscription streaming service for independent films, documentaries and international features.

Fandor has a catalog of more than 4,600 film titles from more than 400 film companies.

Cinedigm plans to leverage its content library, technology, engineering and distribution capabilities to rapidly expand Fandor’s content offering, relaunch the service’s apps and dramatically expand distribution to Cinedigm’s global footprint of more than 900 million connected devices, according to a press release.

Cinedigm will continue to offer the service (currently at $5.99 per month) ad-free, but also plans to offer a free, ad-supported on-demand tier as well as a linear streaming channel.

Cinedigm plans to draw from a pool of more than 7,000 relevant film titles in its library, including thousands of classic, cult and foreign titles from streaming service The Film Detective, which it acquired in December 2020, according to the release.

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Cinedigm also plans to relaunch Keyframe, Fandor’s web and video-based publication dedicated to covering the art of cinema.

Phil Hopkins, president of Cinedigm’s Film Detective division, will oversee Fandor and Keyframe, with the goal of relaunching the service in the coming quarter.

“This acquisition of Fandor, coming on the heels of our Film Detective acquisition, solidifies Cinedigm’s position as the leading global streaming company for independent films,” Chris McGurk, Cinedigm chairman and CEO, said in a statement. “As a key element of our recently announced streaming rollup strategy, Fandor will immediately benefit from our streaming distribution muscle, huge library of independent films, Matchpoint technology, cost savings and infrastructure and synergies with our wide portfolio of enthusiast streaming channels. We fully expect an immediate EBITDA uplift from Fandor and strong revenue and profit growth going forward.”

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“The paradox of the streaming revolution is that it has never been harder to discover classic, essential and new independent and foreign films,” Erick Opeka, chief strategy officer and president of Cinedigm Networks, said in a statement. “The founders of Fandor had the right idea, launching very early in the streaming growth cycle while still establishing a strong and resilient brand and viewer base. Our mission at Cinedigm is to enable viewers, including independent film enthusiasts, to stream their passions, and I can’t think of a streaming service that is truer to our mission than Fandor.”

“The opportunity to leverage Fandor’s passionate community of independent film enthusiasts will be integral in the service’s growth,” Phil Hopkins, president of the Film Detective, said in a statement. “Being able to communicate and collaborate with this community of content creators, bloggers, and editorial writers will allow us to significantly expand Fandor into the global focal point for streaming independent films, documentaries, classics and foreign films.”

FilmRise Acquires Feature ‘Drunk Bus’

FilmRise, a film and television studio and streaming network, has acquired the exclusive North American distribution rights to the coming-of-age comedy Drunk Bus.

Starring Charlie Tahan (“Ozark”), Kara Hayward (“Moonrise Kingdom,” “To The Stars”) and newcomer Pineapple Tangaroa, the film, originally to premiere at SXSW 2020, follows a young directionless campus bus driver and a punk-rock, charismatic Samoan security guard who is hired to protect him on the nightshift as drunk college students are ushered from one party to the next.

Michael (Charlie Tahan) is a recent graduate whose post-college plan is derailed when his girlfriend leaves him for a job in New York City. Stuck in Ohio without a new plan of his own, Michael finds himself caught in the endless loop of driving the “drunk bus,” the debaucherous late-night campus shuttle that ferries drunk college students from parties to the dorms and back. When the bus service hires a security guard to watch over the night shift, Michael comes face to tattooed face with Pineapple (Tangaroa), a larger-than-life punk rock Samoan who challenges him with a kick in the ass to break from the loop and start living or risk driving in circles forever.

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The film also stars Zach Cherry (“You,” “Duncanville”), Dave Hill (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” “Joe Pera Talks with You”), Sarah Mezzanotte (“Chambers,” “Blame”) and Tonatiuh (“Vida,” “Angelyne”) and features a cameo by My Chemical Romance guitarist Frank Iero.

Drunk Bus won the Best Narrative Feature Award at the 2020 San Diego International Film Festival from both Jury and the Audience.

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Drunk Bus is the directorial debut feature film for John Carlucci and Brandon LaGanke and writer Chris Molinaro’s first produced screenplay,” Danny Fisher, CEO of FilmRise, said in a statement. “FilmRise is delighted to support these talented emerging filmmakers with the addition of this festival favorite and critically acclaimed comedy to our 2021 New Release line up.”

PR Firm B/HI Acquired by Dolphin Entertainment

Dolphin Entertainment has acquired public relations firm B/HI (formerly Bender/Helper Impact).

B/HI specializes in corporate and product communications programs for interactive gaming, esports, entertainment content and consumer products organizations. As part of the acquisition, B/HI will operate as a division of entertainment PR firm 42West with Dean Bender and Shawna Lynch serving as co-presidents.

Founded in 1986 by Bender, with offices in Los Angeles and New York, B/HI’s clients, past and present, include Amazon Studios, Boat Rocker Media, CBS Home Entertainment, DC Comics, DC Universe, Fandango, Fathom Events, Fox Consumer Products, Fullscreen, Funko, Guinness World Records, HBO Global Licensing, HBO Home Entertainment, Konami, Lionsgate Home Entertainment, Magnolia Pictures, Nexon, Rovio Entertainment, Schell Games, Survios, Universal Brand Development, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, Warner Bros. Consumer Products, as well as esports organizations Immortals, Super League Gaming, Team Liquid, and Tempo Storm.

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Based on its work for the consumer product divisions of the major studios, B/HI developed a public relations specialty for the video game industry and also was an early esports pioneer by representing Major League Gaming and the World Cybergames.

Earlier, B/HI was a key player in the halcyon days of home video, representing a number of studios, including 20th Century Fox, Republic Pictures and MGM.

“The acquisition of B/HI provides a tremendous gateway into the last remaining large vertical of entertainment for our Super Group — video gaming and esports,” Dolphin CEO Bill O’Dowd said in a statement. “Video gamers are celebrities in their own right, and among the most popular social media influencers in the world.  We believe the opportunities to cross-sell services with B/HI will be numerous, as will be the possibilities to create original content and live events. Dean and Shawna are seasoned, well-respected entertainment PR professionals who share our collaborative culture, and we couldn’t be more excited that they and the staff at B/HI have joined the Dolphin family.”

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“It became immediately apparent to Shawna and me that by joining the Dolphin Entertainment Super Group of PR and marketing firms that we can really maximize our current client relationships as well as provide a wealth of uniquely-curated services to prospective clients,” Bender said in a statement. “We’ve always been aware of how dominant 42West is in the entertainment sector of public relations. It’s an honor to join Amanda and her team to be able to supplement and diversify the client roster.”

“Dean and Shawna have built a business with vision and relevance that could not be more at home at 42West,” Amanda Lundberg, CEO of 42West, said in a statement. “I’m thrilled they have chosen to bring B/HI’s valuable expertise in gaming, esports and consumer products to 42West.  This latest addition to the Dolphin collective of agencies will not only benefit existing and new clients but be a key step in our creation of assets.”

Well Go Acquires U.S. Rights to Canadian Thriller ‘Broil’

Well Go USA Entertainment has acquired the U.S. rights to Canadian thriller Broil.

A digital and home entertainment release is scheduled for Oct. 13.

Directed and co-written by Edward Drake (Breach, Cosmic Sin), Broil stars Lochlyn Munro (Riverdale), Timothy V. Murphy (National Treasure: Book of Secrets) and Jonathan Lipnicki (Jerry MaguireStuart Little).

It’s a seemingly classic coming-of-age story that is quickly complicated by the fact that the protagonist’s family has been hiding a dark secret for millennia. After a violent incident with an insufferable school nemesis, 17-year-old Chance Sinclair (Avery Konrad) is sent to live with her reclusive grandfather (Murphy) in his lavish mountain estate. She seeks to uncover the true origin of her eccentric grandfather’s exorbitant wealth — and a mysterious familial health condition going back generations. Quickly caught between two warring factions of the family, Chance’s only hope for survival may well come from a killer-for-hire (Lipnicki) with a fortuitous stroke of culinary genius.

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“Well Go USA is home to some of my favorite films and I’m so grateful for the hard work of the team,” said Drake in a statement. “Broil was created by a fantastic Vancouver and Victoria cast and crew. We took cues from Rosemary’s Baby, The Witch, Get Out, Succession, Barry Lyndon, You’re Next, and many more to bring Broil to life, a story which is absolutely 100% based on true events.”

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Broil explores the ways families hurt each other,” said co-writer Piper Mars in a statement. “I hope the film invites viewers to question the needless secrecy and conflict they have in their lives.”

Comcast Acquires AVOD Service Xumo

Comcast Feb. 25 announced the acquisition of Xumo, the ad-supported streaming service based in Irvine, Calif.

Xumo will continue to operate as an independent business inside of Comcast Cable.

Xumo offers free, live and on-demand streaming entertainment, news, sports and more, organized in a channel guide, and features more than 190 genre-grouped channels. Xumo’s multi-screen network of distribution partners include major smart television brands, the Comcast release noted.

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“The talented team at Xumo has created a successful, growing, and best-in-class set of streaming capabilities,” read the release. “We are excited for this team to join Comcast and look forward to supporting them as they continue to innovate and develop their offerings.”

Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

 

BayView Entertainment Acquires Monterey Media

BayView Entertainment, a supplier of independent special interest, fitness, and wellness video releases for more than 15 years, has acquired California-based Monterey Media, a distributor of independent films for all media platforms.

The Monterey library encompasses hundreds of feature films and documentaries and has been awarded numerous Multi-Platinum RIAA and ITA sales awards, according to a BayView press release. The Monterey catalog includes independent films starring such actors as James Franco, Kaley Cuoco, Susan Sarandon, Gabriel Byrne, Dennis Hopper, Shirley Knight, Tom Skerritt, Thandie Newton, Anthony LaPaglia, John Ritter, Tommy Lee Jones, William Hurt, Forest Whitaker, David Strathairn, Brian Dennehy, Robin Williams, Danny Glover, Nathan Lane and Jacqueline Bisset, among many others; sports programming including the Bruce Brown films On Any Sunday and The Endless Summer; an educational library of films adapted from literature’s renowned authors combined starring some of Hollywood’s greatest actors; and children’s programming.

“We are excited to welcome Monterey Media into the BayView Entertainment family,” said Peter Castro, VP of acquisitions at BayView, in a statement. “We share a common passion for the highest quality programming and this acquisition will drive exciting new growth for our wholesale customers as well as our producer partners by offering a complete portfolio of feature films and special interest titles from a single distributor.”

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“As all good things must be nurtured to grow, we are so very pleased to have found a new chapter for our wonderful library and its deserving producers.” said Monterey Media’s Jere and Scott Mansfield in a statement. “We are confident as we transition that unique opportunities lie ahead for our carefully curated library.”

For more than 35 years, Monterey Media has been a leading supplier and distributor of independent feature film programming. Monterey’s films have been nominated or won Independent Spirit Awards, Golden Globe Awards and NAACP Image Awards.