FilmRise Acquires Exclusive U.S. SVOD Rights to ‘CHiPs’

FilmRise has acquired from Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution the exclusive U.S. SVOD rights to the 1970s TV show “CHiPs,” starring Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox, according to the company.

The show is available on Prime Video, through FilmRise’s Prime Video Direct self-service program.

“We are thrilled to have concluded a deal with Warner Bros. to bring this classic television favorite to Amazon’s Prime Video audience,” said FilmRise CEO and co-founder Danny Fisher in a statement. “The show is a perfect fit for the Prime Video service, which boasts an ever-expanding catalog of classic film and TV.”

“CHiPs” ran for more than six seasons on NBC. It followed California Highway Patrol motorcycle officers Jon (Wilcox) and Ponch (Estrada) as they patroled the streets of Los Angeles.

FilmRise has also brought other classic TV shows to the Prime platform, including “Hell’s Kitchen” and “3rd Rock from the Sun.”

Amazon Introduces Voice-Controlled Fire TV Cube

Amazon June 7 announced Fire TV Cube, a hands-free 4K Ultra HD streaming media player with Alexa, allowing consumers to control their TV “from across the room,” according to the company.

Fire TV Cube uses multi-directional infrared technology, cloud-based protocols and HDMI CEC, that—combined with Alexa—let viewers control their compatible TV, sound bar, A/V receiver, and cable or satellite box. Consumers can use voice commands to turn the TV on and off, change the volume, switch to different inputs, and change the cable channel. Even with the TV off, consumers can ask to watch a show and the Fire TV Cube powers on the TV and starts playback where consumers left off.

Amazon Fire TV Cube gives consumers access to the catalog of content currently available on Fire TV, including tens of thousands of channels, apps, and Alexa skills, as well as more than 500,000 movies and TV episodes and thousands of 4K Ultra HD and HDR titles, according to the company. Consumers can use voice commands to access services such as Netflix or to switch the cable channel.

“We believe voice makes it easier for customers to control their entertainment systems and watch the TV and movies they care about,” said Marc Whitten, VP of Fire TV. “And, it’s just the beginning. Amazon Fire TV Cube will only get better over time with the Alexa service always getting smarter.”

With the Fire TV Cube, consumers can also use voice commands to find the movies and TV shows by such categories as genre, director and actor.

WIth Fire TV Cube, many Alexa responses are optimized for the big screen and accompanied with rich visual information, allowing consumers to view smart home camera feeds, watch video flash briefings, view sports scores, see extended weather forecasts, and watch trailers for movies playing in nearby theaters, according to Amazon.

Amazon Fire TV Cube is available for pre-order starting June 7 for $119.99 and ships with an IR extender cable and Ethernet adapter beginning on June 21. As an introductory offer, Prime members can pre-order Fire TV Cube on June 7 and 8 for a special price of $89.99 — a $30 savings. For a limited time, customers can pre-order Fire TV Cube and Amazon Cloud Cam together for $199.98 — a $40 savings. Customers who purchase and register their Fire TV Cube by July 1, will also receive a $10 credit for Prime Video. Starting on June 21, Fire TV devices are eligible for unlimited access to tens of millions of songs with Amazon Music starting at just $3.99/month.

For more information visit www.amazon.com/firetvcube.

Cannes-Lauded ‘You Were Never Really Here’ Due on Digital July 3, Disc July 17 From Lionsgate

You Were Never Really Here, starring Joaquin Phoenix, will come out on digital July 3 and on Blu-ray (plus digital), DVD and On Demand July 17 from Lionsgate.

Based on Jonathan Ames’s novella of the same name, the Amazon thriller won Best Actor (Phoenix) and Best Screenplay (director Lynne Ramsay) at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. Phoenix plays a traumatized veteran, unafraid of violence, who tracks down missing girls for a living. The film also stars Ekaterina Samsonov, Alessandro Nivola and Judith Roberts.

 

‘Sneaky Pete: Season One’ Due on DVD From Sony July 17

Sneaky Pete: Season One comes to DVD July 17 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

In the Amazon series, upon release from prison, Marius (Giovanni Ribisi) assumes the identity of his former cellmate Pete (Ethan Embry). In doing so, he moves in with Pete’s long-estranged, unsuspecting family, headed by matriarch Audrey (Margo Martindale), conning them into believing that their prodigal son has returned home.

The series also stars Marin Ireland, Shane McRae, Libe Barer. Michael Drayer and Peter Gerety.

The release contains all 10 episodes on three discs.

Research: U.S. Pay-TV Affordability Has Dropped Since 2000

Consumers who complain about their cable bill may have good reason.

Multichannel video affordability in the United States has plummeted since the turn of the millennium, squeezing the penetration rate, particularly among the more economically vulnerable households, according to new data from Kagan, S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Since 2000, there has been a 74% increase in the inflation-adjusted pay-TV bill while incomes have stagnated, according to the research.

The estimated nominal average monthly multichannel revenue per subscriber across the cable, DBS and telco platforms rose at a 5.5% CAGR between 2000 and 2017. Kagan calculated U.S. multichannel purchasing power based on 2017 inflation-adjusted annual multichannel average revenue per user, or ARPU, and average income figures. The affordability calculation dropped from a 10 in 2000 to a 6 in 2017.

Multichannel offerings have evolved a great deal since 2000, including a greater number of networks and advanced services such as video on demand, DVR services and improved user interfaces, with the vast majority of the packages delivered to subscribers digitally and in HD, but consumers’ ability to pay the price for that improvement didn’t grow much.

“The eroding legacy multichannel affordability partly explains the popularity of over-the-top services such as Netflix Inc. and Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime Video,” according to Kagan.

Amazon Prime Video Greenlights ‘Lorena’ Docuseries from Jordan Peele’s Company

Amazon Prime Video has greenlit Lorena, a Prime Original series executive produced by Oscar winner Jordan Peele (Get Out).

The series is produced by Peele’s Monkeypaw and Sonar Entertainment and directed by Joshua Rofe. The four-part documentary series reveals the hidden truths in the notorious case of John Wayne and Lorena Bobbitt and challenges the long-held narrative that surrounded the event, providing a fresh perspective on the story of Lorena and how one event laid the groundwork for the modern 24-hour news cycle.

“When we hear the name Bobbitt we think of one of the most sensational incidents to ever be catapulted into a full-blown media spectacle,” said Peele in a statement. “With this project, Lorena has a platform to tell her truth as well as engage in a critical conversation about gender dynamics, abuse and her demand for justice. This is Lorena’s story and we’re honored to help her tell it.”

“Jordan has proven himself as a captivating voice of social critique and we are excited to work with him on this project,” said Heather Schuster, head of unscripted, Amazon Originals, in a statement. “Lorena reframes Lorena Bobbitt’s story around issues of sexism and domestic abuse and offers Prime members an exclusive new view into how America got her story wrong and maybe continues to get it wrong,”

“Our hope for this series is to give viewers pause when the next scandal of the moment is presented to us as macabre entertainment. Often, there’s profound pain and trauma just beneath the surface of stories like Lorena’s,” said Rofe in a statement.

Prime members will be able to stream the series exclusively via the Amazon Prime Video app for TVs, connected devices including Fire TV, mobile devices and online. Members can also download the series to mobile devices for offline viewing at no additional cost to their membership. The series will be a global release and available on PrimeVideo.com for Prime Video members in more than 200 countries and territories.

Amazon Prime to Bow More Sports Programming Under ‘All or Nothing’ Banner

Following the success of the Emmy-winning “All or Nothing” NFL series, Prime Video is launching additional sports programming on the service underneath the “All or Nothing” umbrella, according to Amazon.

The upcoming series will offer “unprecedented access to a team’s entire season, character-driven storytelling and compelling visuals,” according to Amazon.

All or Nothing: The Michigan Wolverines, narrated by award-winning actor/producer Mark Harmon (“NCIS”), premieres on April 6, exclusively on Prime Video. All eight episodes will be available on that date. The series allows Prime members into the never-before-seen inner workings of the winningest program in college football, chronicling Michigan’s 2017 season. The cameras follow Coach Jim Harbaugh in his third season leading his alma mater’s storied program through triumphs, trials and tribulations as they play in the Big Ten, one of the toughest college football conferences in the nation. The series also provides an intimate look at the lives, both on and off the field, of the student athletes charged with carrying on Michigan’s legacy.

All or Nothing: New Zealand All Blacks follows New Zealand Rugby’s famed All Blacks throughout 2017. The series provides a look inside the world of the players, coaches and the support team that sits behind them through the season, on and off the field. Prime members will get to see what makes them so successful and what it means in this rugged sport to undertake the responsibility of donning the black jersey and performing the sacred Haka.

All or Nothing: Manchester City shows fans the historic Club’s behind-the-scenes action, its legendary coach, Pep Guardiola, and the personal stories of the players who are currently at the top of the English Premier League table. Guardiola was one of the best players and coaches of his generation, having won three Champions League titles during his time at FC Barcelona. He joined Manchester City in 2016, coaching stars such as Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus and Kevin de Bruyne.

“Prime Video prides itself on offering incredibly compelling sports content with unprecedented access,” said Heather Schuster, head of unscripted, Amazon Originals. “We are able to put cameras in places where none have gone before to give Prime members an inside look at some of the most storied sports programs in the world. It only made sense to bring these series under the ‘All or Nothing’ banner to reinforce our commitment to strong storytelling in this genre.”

The NFL installment of ‘All or Nothing,’ produced by NFL Films, returns for its third season April 27, featuring the 2017 Dallas Cowboys.

Prime members will be able to stream all series exclusively via the Prime Video app for TVs, connected devices including Fire TV, mobile devices and online at http://www.amazon.com/originals. Members can also download the series to mobile devices for offline viewing at no additional cost to their membership.

The series will be global releases and available on PrimeVideo.com for Prime Video members in more than 200 countries and territories.

Amazon Offering Free Video Games to Prime Members

Amazon, beginning March 15, will start giving Prime members free access to digital video games on a monthly basis through its Twitch.com subsidiary – acquired in 2014 for $940 million in cash.

In a blog post, Twitch said it is launching the promotional campaign in response to feedback from the “Twitch Prime Indie Amplifier” program touting new game titles members voted on.

Indeed, all eight titles from the Indie Amplifier program will be made available over the next few months.

“First up are the winner, Shadow Tactics, and strategy-RPG Tales from Candlekeep: Tomb of Annihilation,” wrote Joveth Gonzalez, who works in marketing at Twitch.

Other titles include Superhot, Oxenfree and Mr. Shifty. Coming April: Tales from the Borderlands, SteamWorld Dig 2, Kingsway, Tokyo 42 and Dubwars.

 

Amazon Studios Inks Deal With Oscar-Winning Filmmaker

Amazon Studios has closed an exclusive first-look deal with Oscar-winning filmmaker Kenneth Lonergan, who won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and a nomination for Best Director for Manchester by the Sea, distributed by Amazon.

The two-year deal for directing and writing will cover both film and television projects.

“I’m thrilled to renew my connection to Amazon Studios,” said Lonergan in a statement. “They’ve done amazing work wherever they’ve turned their attention. They did a perfect job with Manchester by the Sea, and it’s a pleasure to be in business with them again.”

“Kenny is one of the finest directors and storytellers of our time,” said Jason Ropell, VP of worldwide motion pictures, Amazon Studios, in a statement. “Following our successful and memorable partnership on Manchester by the Sea, we are excited to further our relationship and continue supporting his visionary work.”

Lonergan’s upcoming projects include Howards End, a four-part limited series starring Hayley Atwell, and the play “Lobby Hero” starring Chris Evans, Michael Cera, Bel Powley  and Brian Tyree Henry, set to premiere on Broadway in March.

Manchester by the Sea is available now for streaming and download on Prime Video.

Amazon Acquires Rights to Produce Space Opera TV Series From Writer Iain Banks

Amazon Studios has acquired the global television rights to the first novel from the space opera “Culture” series by Scottish writer Iain M. Banks.

Consider Phlebas features Banks’ fictional interstellar utopian society the Culture, in which a highly advanced and progressive society ends up at war with the Idirans, a deeply religious, warlike race intent on dominating the entire galaxy. The story centers on Horza, a rogue agent tasked by the Idirans with the impossible mission of recovering a missing Culture “Mind,” an artificial intelligence many thousands of times smarter than any human — something that could hold the key to wiping out the Culture altogether.

The series will be adapted by Dennis Kelly with Plan B Entertainment slated to produce and the estate of Iain Banks attached as executive producer.

“The story of the Culture is so rich and captivating that for years Hollywood has been trying to bring this utopian society to life on the screen,” said Sharon Tal Yguado, head of scripted series at Amazon Studios, in a statement. “We are honored that we have been chosen, along with Dennis Kelly and Plan B Entertainment, to make Consider Phlebas into a television series we think will be loved by fans for years to come.”

“Iain Banks has long been a hero of mine, and his innate warmth, humor and humanism shines through these novels,” Kelly said in a statement. “Far from being the dystopian nightmares that we are used to, Banks creates a kind of flawed paradise, a society truly worth fighting for — rather than a warning from the future, his books are a beckoning.”

Prime Originals are available for Prime members to stream using the Prime Video app for TVs, connected devices and mobile devices, or online at Amazon.com/originals, at no additional cost to their membership.