Redbox Entertainment Picks Up Rights to ‘Johnny & Clyde’ Starring Megan Fox

Redbox Entertainment, the original content division of Redbox, has signed a deal for North American rights to Verdi Productions’ action crime film Johnny & Clyde.

Starring Avan Jogia (Zombieland: Double Tap), Ajani Russell (Betty), with Tyson Ritter (Preacher) and Megan Fox (Transformers), and directed by Tom DeNucci (Vault), Johnny & Clyde will premiere in theaters and will be available on the same date in Redbox kiosks and on demand.

The film is a spin on the iconic Bonnie and Clyde story and follows two serial killers (Jogia, Russell) who are madly in love and on a shocking crime spree. They ultimately set their sights on robbing a prosperous casino run by a crime boss, Alana (Fox), and her head of security Guy (Ritter).

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Rounding out the cast are Vanessa Angel (Kingpin), Bai Ling (The Crow), Robert LaSardo (The Mule), Armen Garo (The Departed), Sean Ringgold (American Gangster), Nick Principe (Vault), Brett Azar (Young Rock), Sydney Jenkins (Don’t Look Up) and Charles W. Harris III (Glass). 

Verdi Productions produced and financed the project and VMI Worldwide is handling international sales.

“Fans of dark, gritty action movies are going to love Johnny & Clyde,” Redbox CEO Galen Smith said in a statement. “Tom has created a film that will have fans on the edge of their seats. We’re looking forward to releasing the film later this year.”

“This film will keep fans engaged from beginning till the end — a true thriller with a twist of humor,” stated producer Chad A. Verdi.

Chicken Soup for the Soul to Acquire 1091 Pictures

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, an operator of streaming AVOD networks, March 2 announced the signing of a definitive agreement to acquire the assets of 1091 Media, comprising its distribution business known as 1091 Pictures, for $15.5 million.

The purchase price is comprised of $8 million in cash, $2 million in the form of newly issued shares of the company’s Series A perpetual preferred stock valued at $25 per share, and 375,000 shares of Class A common stock valued at $14.80 per share.

With the acquisition, the company will dramatically expand its independent film and television series distribution business by integrating 1091 Pictures with its own Screen Media, according to a press release. Screen Media is the main supplier of content to the company’s AVOD networks and the deal approximately doubles the size of the company’s content catalog by adding titles that were previously unavailable to the Crackle Plus Networks.

1091 Pictures’ library of approximately 4,000 movies and TV series includes titles such as The Ghost of Peter Sellers; Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice; Academy Award Winner Taika Waititi’s What We Do In The Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople; Spirit Awards-winner Christine; the comedy The Overnight, starring Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling and Jason Schwartzman; sports stories such as A Kid From Coney Island, executive produced by Kevin Durant and featuring Stephon Marbury; Red Bull’s The Dawn Wall and Art of Flight; The Last Blockbuster; Pharma Bro; documentaries such as Close Encounters of The Fifth Kind and The Phenomenon, which reveal the latest intelligence on UFOs; and 1091 Pictures’ pipeline of more than 300 titles per year.

The acquisition provides immediate benefits to the company’s Crackle Plus Networks by adding established FAST and AVOD channels in specific verticals with approximately 1 billion yearly ad impressions to their channel portfolio, according to the release.   
 
“The 1091 Pictures team transformed their large content library into a scalable, modern distribution platform with a compelling slate of channels that are a pragmatic addition to our existing assets,” David Fannon, president of Screen Media Ventures, said in a statement. “There are great synergies between our two companies. Over time, joining 1091’s acquisition and distribution team with Screen Media’s team, leveraging the impressive infrastructure 1091 built for digital fulfillment, and folding the 1091-owned channel business into the Crackle Plus network, will make this a mutually beneficial and smooth transition.” 

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“This is the next evolution in our content library strategy,” Elana Sofko, chief strategy officer for Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, said in a statement. “The genre content with loyal fan bases from 1091 Pictures includes music, over a dozen different sports, paranormal, and much more, enabling us to continue to grow both our streaming services and our FAST channels. We will also continue growing the business that the 1091 Pictures team started and augment it with additional opportunities from the combined catalog.”    
 
“We are thrilled to be joining forces with the Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment and Screen Media team,” Eric Min, GM and head of content for 1091 Pictures, said in a statement. “We are bullish that the scale and reach of the combined teams starts us on an exciting journey to be able to further capitalize on this strong amalgamation of assets.”
 
The company expects to recognize in excess of $10 million of revenue with approximately $3 million of incremental EBITDA in the next 12 months as a result of the transaction, according to the press release.
 
The acquisition is subject to satisfaction of certain closing conditions and is expected to close in early to mid-March 2022.

Gravitas Ventures Picks Up N.A. Rights to Doc ‘The End of Medicine’

Gravitas Ventures has acquired North American rights to distribute the documentary The End of Medicine.

The company plans for an early summer release in theaters and in homes.

Executive produced by Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix, The End of Medicine explores the link between treatment of animals and emerging health threats such as pandemics and antibiotic resistance. Documentary filmmaker Keegan Kuhn (Cowspiracy, What the Health) and BAFTA Award-winning director Alex Lockwood (73 Cows, Test Subjects) teamed up with Mara and Phoenix to create the documentary about zoonotic diseases (germs and viruses that spread between human and non-human animals), which threaten the health and lives of the entire human population.

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The End of Medicine began production in October 2019, months before COVID-19 was making headlines around the world. It includes interviews with some of the world’s leading scientists whose research and testimonies conclude that the public health emergency we are presently facing was inevitable and is far from over.

“We are pleased to serve as executive producers of The End of Medicine to raise awareness about the third leading global cause of death — antimicrobial resistance,” Mara and Phoenix said in a statement. “We became fans of director Alex Lockwood after seeing his BAFTA-winning documentary short 73 Cows, and were touched by his thoughtful and determined approach to storytelling. Together with producer Keegan Kuhn (Cowspiracy, What the Health), The End of Medicine explores how dangerously close the human population is to complete antimicrobial resistance, the government’s complicity and collaboration with the animal agriculture industry, and how unprepared we are for what’s to come if we continue to ignore the evidence around us. The animal agriculture industry props up its business of keeping thousands upon thousands of animals housed in soiled conditions by the overuse of antibiotics. We cannot exploit and manipulate other animals on a massive scale without corresponding and terrifying consequences.”

“We have been frustrated with the failure of mainstream media to properly address the threat of disease coming from animal agriculture, both before and during the current pandemic,” said Lockwood and Kuhn. “The End Of Medicine is an alarm bell and warning of what is to come if we don’t change.”

The End of Medicine is an incredibly timely documentary with an important message that directly addresses the relationship between the treatment of animals and pandemics. Gravitas is proud to be able to share it with audiences,” Brett Rogalsky, Gravitas Ventures manager of acquisitions, said in a statement.

Comscore Acquires Social Media Analytics Firm Shareablee

Comscore has acquired Shareablee, a marketing analytics and measurement company in the social media space.

With the acquisition, which closed on Dec. 16, Comscore plans to expand its Media Metrix and Video Metrix currencies to include Shareablee’s social media engagement and video insights, which will bridge the industry gap of traditional digital and social measurement services, according to Comscore.

The combined audience insights of Comscore and Shareablee will give media companies, brands and advertisers an unmatched understanding of cross-platform consumer engagement and reach, according to Comscore. Integration plans call for Comscore digital products to benefit from Shareablee data, allowing clients to broaden their digital footprint in products such as Video Metrix with advanced social video insights, and for Shareablee clients to have additional advantages with curated views of Comscore digital data embedded in their Shareablee dashboards, Comscore announced.

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Comscore plans to retain the Shareablee team after closing, with key members of Shareablee management, including Tania Yuki, Greg Dale and Jonathan Lieberman, continuing in leadership roles.

Shareablee, a Meta for Media Measurement Partner, provides analytics and intelligence to many of the world’s largest brands, publishers and agencies including Mondelez, GroupM, ESPN, NBCUniversal and Vox Media. Shareablee has built a proprietary taxonomy of more than 20 million publishers, advertisers and content creators in more than 70 global markets that publish millions of videos, images and articles each day across the major social media platforms, delivering a vast array of performance-based insight that is a natural complement to Comscore’s currency TV, CTV, OTT, movie and digital measurement solutions, according to Comscore.

Comscore and Shareablee have joint clients that will benefit from a true cross-platform view of their marketing reach and effectiveness, according to the research firm.

“Comscore is committed to the future and helping customers have a comprehensive view of the consumer across platforms, while understanding the unique engagement on premium video. The future of measurement would not be complete without including the impressions delivered by the social media platforms,” Bill Livek, CEO and executive vice chair of Comscore, said in a statement. “For marketers, this inclusion into our currencies will present great opportunity to maximize their outcomes on advertising investments. We see many opportunities to help our clients grow their viewing audiences and maximize their impact using social platforms.”

“At our core, we believe that content matters, and that data and insights can make storytelling more impactful. We are thrilled to join forces with Comscore and look forward to finding new ways to jointly drive innovation,” Tania Yuki, CEO and founder of Shareablee, said in a statement. “Our large-scale social measurement capabilities provide critical insight into changing content consumption and consumer behaviors, particularly when it comes to shedding light on Gen Z, and fit perfectly alongside Comscore’s comprehensive cross-platform intelligence. Bringing the resources and measurement sophistication of Comscore to our product development capabilities will be very exciting for the whole market.”

Anthem Acquires Gravitas Ventures

Anthem Sports and Entertainment, a multi-platform media company, has acquired content distributor Gravitas Ventures from Red Arrow Studios.

Anthem purchased the distributor for $73 million in cash and an additional common stock consideration component, according to the companies.

Gravitas founder and CEO Nolan Gallagher, president Michael Murphy, EVP and general counsel Brendan Gallagher, and CFO Brian Kenyon join the Anthem executive team. Additionally, the entire Gravitas Ventures organization will remain intact.

Gravitas Ventures joins Anthem’s roster of properties that includes AXS TV, HDNET Movies, IMPACT Wrestling, Invicta Fighting Championships, Fight Network, Game+ and GameTV. The purchase gives Anthem more than 8,000 hours of sports and entertainment content in its library to complement its seven consumer-facing streaming channel brands, according to a press release.

Cleveland-based Gravitas Ventures has been part of Red Arrow Studios since November 2017, and typically releases more than 300 films and documentaries per year. The most recent high-profile films in the portfolio include the 2020 feature The Secret: Dare to Dream, starring Katie Holmes, and the 2021 film Queen Bees, starring Ellen Burstyn and James Caan.

The deal gives Anthem’s properties access to Gravitas Ventures titles and opens up new areas of growth and revenue for Anthem’s existing content library, “allowing Anthem to utilize Gravitas’ rich partnerships with top digital platforms,”according to the release. Upon completion of the transaction, Anthem will add more than 200 customers to its ranks, while unlocking additional promotion opportunities for its various business units and enabling Gravitas to invest further in content opportunities, new themed channels and to enter the television distribution market.

The deal will allow Gravitas “to harness the full power of the library  leveraging Anthem’s expertise in launching highly-successful global FAST digital channels to create all-new themed channels specifically based around their unique content offerings,” according to the press release.

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“This is a significant step forward for Anthem in its mission to build a next-generation media company that is primed for the digital future, keeping Anthem ahead of the curve with the current trajectory of the fast-paced streaming-first entertainment ecosystem,” Leonard Asper, founder and CEO of Anthem, said in a statement. “Gravitas is a world leader in film and documentary distribution and provides Anthem with a major presence across the top digital platforms. We are happy to welcome Nolan, Michael, Brendan, Brian and the Gravitas team on board, and to broaden our shareholder base to include Gravitas Ventures’ management and Red Arrow Studios. We are excited to build upon the incredible success that they have already achieved.”

“Anthem perfectly complements Gravitas Ventures’ mindset and mission, presenting several major platforms where our films can thrive while opening up dynamic new areas and opportunities that will be vital in helping our company grow,” Nolan Gallagher, founder of Gravitas, said in a statement. “They have had tremendous success with all of their acquired properties, taking a hands-on approach that shows a great understanding for their unique products and what it takes to keep them on top in this highly competitive industry. We feel confident being a part of a talented Anthem team that is more than equipped to lead the charge for our filmmakers on this journey, and we could not be more excited to begin this new era in the legacy of Gravitas Ventures.”

FilmRise Acquires N.A. Rights to ‘Marvelous and the Black Hole’

FilmRise, the New York-based film and television studio and streaming network, has acquired exclusive theatrical, digital and broadcast distribution rights to Marvelous and the Black Hole for the United States and Canada.

The feature, about an unlikely bond between a young girl and an eccentric magician, stars four-time Emmy Award-winner Rhea Perlman (“Cheers,” “Matilda,” “The Mindy Project”) and Miya Cech (Always Be My Maybe, “Are You Afraid of the Dark?”). In the film written and directed by Kate Tsang, a teenage delinquent (Cech) befriends a surly magician (Perlman) who helps her navigate her inner demons and dysfunctional family with sleight of hand magic. 

Refinery 29 named Miya Cech an “Unforgettable Breakout Star” of the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.

“The combination of releasing Kate Tsang’s directorial debut film featuring the terrific performance of 2021 Sundance Film Festival breakout star Miya Cech opposite the masterful comic timing of Rhea Perlman in a unique coming of age comedy, was irresistible,” Danny Fisher, CEO of FilmRise, said in a statement. “This film is a stellar addition to our growing library of films by underrepresented filmmakers telling untold stories.”

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The film had its worldwide premiere at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, its New York premiere at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival and received the Grand Jury Award from the 2021 IFF Boston Film Festival. The film also screened at the 2021 Mill Valley Film Festival; the 2021 Atlanta Film Festival; the 2021 Sun Valley Film Festival, where the film won the One in a Million Narrative award; the 2021 Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Emerging Filmmaker Award; and the 2021 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Audience Award.

The film is the third recipient of AT&T and the Tribeca Film Institute’s Untold Stories grant, an initiative that selects one project per year by an underrepresented filmmaker with an “untold story.”

ViacomCBS to Acquire Stake in Spanish-Language Content Producer

ViacomCBS Networks International (VCNI) has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire a majority stake in the Spanish-language content producer Fox TeleColombia & Estudios TeleMexico from The Walt Disney Co. and the founding family of Fox TeleColombia & Estudios TeleMexico.

ViacomCBS International Studios’ VIS, a division of VCNI, will operate Fox TeleColombia & Estudios TeleMexico as a collaborative partnership with the founding family. The transaction is subject to regulatory approval and customary closing conditions.

Through this transaction, VCNI will gain access to Fox TeleColombia & Estudios TeleMexico’s studio operations in both Colombia and Mexico, as well as many hours of library content, including premium series, telenovelas, films, documentaries, unscripted, kids and family, branded and digital content, and live sports shows produced for various audiences. This content will fuel ViacomCBS’s global streaming platforms including Paramount+ and Pluto TV, and its linear networks around the world, according to the company. Fox TeleColombia & Estudios TeleMexico will also bolster ViacomCBS’ Spanish-language content production capabilities to capitalize on significant content demand in the region and worldwide, the company noted.

“The acquisition of Fox TeleColombia & Estudios TeleMexico, combined with ViacomCBS’s existing Spanish-language portfolio including Telefe and Chilevisión, reinforces the company’s position as a leading worldwide producer of Spanish-language content,” Raffaele Annecchino, president and CEO, ViacomCBS Networks International, said in a statement. “This content will fuel ViacomCBS’ global ecosystem across Paramount+, Pluto TV and its linear networks.”

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“This announcement is very fulfilling and I feel very honored that Fox TeleColombia & Estudios TeleMexico will continue its expansion and growth in the hands of such an amazing company as ViacomCBS and its talented and visionary executives,” Samuel Duque Rozo, founder and CEO of Fox TeleColombia & Estudios TeleMexico, said in a statement. “The extraordinary work that our team has made during all these years, combined with ViacomCBS’s vision, iconic brands, experience, professionalism, creativity among much more, will bring nothing less but the best for both businesses.”

Rozo will continue to exclusively support the business from a creative and strategic advisory position, and Samuel Duque Duque, current president, will lead the business. Fox TeleColombia & Estudios TeleMexico will fall under the remit of Juan “JC” Acosta, President of ViacomCBS International Studios and Networks Americas.

The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Genius Brands Acquiring WOW! Unlimited Media

Genius Brands International is acquiring WOW! Unlimited Media for approximately $53 million in cash and stock, according to the companies.

WOW! Unlimited Media, based in Toronto, Vancouver, New York and Los Angeles, is an animation production company producing for the top broadcasters and IP holders including Netflix, Amazon Prime, Sony, Hulu, Dreamworks, Moonbug, Peacock and Mattel. The acquisition includes two studios — Frederator Studios (which produced “Adventure Time,” “FairlyOdd Parents,” “Powerpuff Girls,” “Dexter’s Laboratory” and “Castlevania”) and Mainframe Studios (“Madagascar: A Little Wild,” “Barbie Dreamhouse”).

WOW! CEO Michael Hirsh will join the board of directors of Genius Brands and continue his responsibilities for Mainframe, Frederator Studios, networks and platforms.

Andy Heyward

“The acquisition of WOW! substantially accelerates the financial growth of Genius Brands, delivering on our promise to shareholders to execute meaningful and accretive acquisitions, as we seek to rapidly consolidate the marketplace and become the foremost producer, broadcaster, and consumer product licensor of high-quality children’s entertainment in the world,” Andy Heyward, chairman and CEO of Genius Brands, said in a statement. “I have known and worked with WOW! Chairman and CEO Michael Hirsh throughout my career, and there is nobody more talented, accomplished or well regarded. His track record of many hits includes the first ‘Star Wars’ animated programs, ‘Magic School Bus,’ ‘Care Bears, Babar,’ ‘Johnny Test,’ and ‘Beetlejuice,’ among others.

“In addition to the animation productions of WOW! today and the exciting new brand brought to the table for Genius Brands, WOW! has a massive social media footprint across YouTube, TikTok, Giphy, etc., expanding the Genius Brands kids’ audience demo into the lucrative teens and young adult marketplaces. The company has over 1 billion views per month on its Frederator YouTube Network, with over 2,500 advertiser supported channels, making it the number one talent driven animation YouTube Network.”

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WOW!’s Canadian production facilities enable a number of profitable synergies for the company via access to various federal and provincial tax credits, which will allow Genius Brands to transfer its current animation production at great savings from China, according to Genius Brands.

“In addition to WOW!’s 3rd party service production, we will now place many of the exciting upcoming WOW! owned content on Kartoon Channel! and activate it through our consumer products and global distribution sales network, further advancing revenues and earnings,” Heyward said in a statement.

“I’m excited to work with Andy and the Genius Brands team,” Hirsh said in a statement. “This is a powerful partnership that brings immediate and significant value for shareholders. We bring production capacity, new IP, and a robust and profitable YouTube Network with over a billion views per month. Genius Brands, with Kartoon Channel!, has a fully distributed footprint where our content can thrive and also help Kartoon Channel! itself expand. Genius Brands’ world class consumer product licensing team led by Kerry Phelan, will enable us to monetize all of these great characters and brands. This transaction represents the culmination of our extensive strategic review process. We feel that this is a very attractive opportunity for our shareholders with significant potential upside in the months and years ahead.”

The transfer of animation production to Canada is expected to benefit Genius Brands through Canadian Content incentives as well as Production Service Tax Credits, according to a press release.

Redbox Completes Combo With Seaport Global to Go Public

Redbox has completed its previously announced business combination with Seaport Global Acquisition Corp., a publicly traded special purpose acquisition company. As a result of the merger, the entity will be known as “Redbox Entertainment Inc.”

Redbox’s common stock and warrants are expected to begin trading on Nasdaq Oct. 25 under the ticker symbols “RDBX and “RDBXW,” respectively.

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“Today marks the beginning of Redbox’s next chapter,” Galen Smith, CEO of Redbox, said in a statement. “Since revolutionizing the way Americans rent movies nearly two decades ago, Redbox has continuously evolved and expanded our reach — all while offering our millions of loyal customers exceptional value in home entertainment. Today, we are building on our legacy and reaffirming our commitment to delivering a wide range of choice and convenience for consumers, as well as value for our Redbox stakeholders.

“As a public company, we plan to continue our strong momentum and accelerate our digital transformation. Through this transaction, and the incremental capital it provides, Redbox is equipped to advance our goal of creating a one stop experience that spans multiple entertainment mediums and simplifies the streaming experience. We are eager to capture the significant and growing opportunities ahead, take our business to the next level and achieve profitable growth for Redbox shareholders.”

NPD Group to Be Acquired by Private Equity Firm

Research provider The NPD Group announced that private equity firm Hellman & Friedman has made a binding offer and entered into an exclusive agreement to acquire the company.

Under the deal, NPD executive chairman Tod Johnson and CEO Karyn Schoenbart will retain a minority stake in the business and continue to serve on the NPD board of directors.

The transaction is expected to close by the end of 2021, subject to the entry into the definitive sale agreement and satisfaction of its conditions.

“As a leading source of market information and advisory services for general merchandise and foodservice, NPD is committed to helping our clients and the industries we serve achieve data-driven growth for many years to come,” Johnson said in a statement. “H&F shares our focus on long-term growth and has the resources and expertise to not only continue but also accelerate NPD’s momentum and long track record of success. Both Karyn and I are delighted to have the opportunity to partner as minority investors alongside H&F as we work in close collaboration on a long-term strategic plan and transition over time to the next generation of NPD leadership.”    

“In a period of rapid change, NPD has helped guide our clients with omnichannel data, industry expertise, and analytics to help them understand unprecedented market shifts,” Schoenbart said in a statement. “It has been exciting to play an increasingly important role in the strategies of our clients by providing insight into what is happening today and what to anticipate in the future. We expect H&F to continue our tradition of client partnership and innovation with new products, data sources, and next generation platforms to make our information even more comprehensive, accessible, and actionable.”

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“Trusted by more than 2,000 customers in 19 countries, NPD is a market leader in its categories with an outstanding value proposition for customers and retailers. Tod and Karyn have led the company to great heights, and we look forward to working closely with them to build on this strong momentum,” Philip Hammarskjold, executive chairman of H&F, said in a statement.

“Rapidly evolving consumer expectations and the growth of e-commerce are accelerating the pace of change in the retail landscape. In an environment of unknowns, the ability for companies to use omnichannel analytics to measure and improve performance is more important than ever before, and NPD is extremely well positioned to provide these critical insights to its customers and retail partners,” Blake Kleinman, partner at H&F, said in a statement.

Founded in 1966, NPD is the eighth-largest market research company worldwide, with operations in the Americas, Europe and APAC, covering more than 20 industries.