‘Red, White & Royal Blue’ Top Global Movie and Among Top Three Romantic Comedies Ever on Prime Video

Red, White & Royal Blue is the No. 1 movie worldwide on Prime Video and is already among Prime Video’s top three most-watched romantic comedy movies of all time, according to the service.
 
Amazon has seen a huge surge of new Prime membership sign ups directly correlated to the film’s release, according to the service.

With the film’s release, Casey McQuiston’s New York Times bestselling novel of the same name moved to No. 14 on the Amazon Best Sellers list. The film has also ranked No. 1 in conversation volume for titles launching the week of Aug. 11 according to MarketCast, according to the service, and trended on Twitter in 32 markets globally including No. 1 in the United States leading into release.

In the movie, Alex Claremont-Diaz (Taylor Zakhar Perez), the son of the President of the United States (Uma Thurman), and Britain’s Prince Henry (Nicholas Galitzine) have a lot in common: Stunning good looks, undeniable charisma, international popularity — and a total disdain for each other. Separated by an ocean, their long-running feud hasn’t really been an issue, until a disastrous — and very public — altercation at a royal event becomes tabloid fodder, driving a potential wedge in U.S.-British relations at the worst possible time. Going into damage-control mode, their families and handlers force the two rivals into a staged “truce.” But as Alex and Henry’s icy relationship unexpectedly begins to thaw into a tentative friendship, the friction that existed between them sparks something deeper than they ever expected.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Red, White & Royal Blue marks the feature film co-writing and directing debut of Tony Award-winning playwright Matthew López (The Inheritance).

 

Amazon Ups Q2 Subscription Revenue 14%, Online Sales Revenue Nears $53 Billion

Amazon Aug. 3 reported second-quarter (ended June 30) subscription services revenue of $9.9 billion, which was up 14% from revenue of $8.7 billion during the previous-year period.

The business segment includes annual and monthly fees associated with Amazon Prime memberships, as well as digital video, audiobook, digital music, e-book, and other non-AWS subscription services.

Online sales totaled $52.96 billion, compared with sales of $50.85 billion during the previous-year period. The segment includes media products available in both a physical (DVD, Blu-ray Disc movies) and digital format, such as books, videos, games, music and software. These product sales also include digital products sold on a transactional basis.

During the quarter Amazon Studio’s bowed Air, which launched in more theaters worldwide than any previous Amazon Original film. The film subsequently debuted on Prime Video and ranked No. 3 on Nielsen’s Streaming Top 10 list during the first three days of its release. The company also premiered additional Amazon Original films and series, including the final seasons of “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” and Emmy-winning “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”; the global spy thriller “Citadel,” which was the No. 1 title on Prime Video in nearly 200 countries and territories during its premiere weekend; and the Emmy-nominated “Jury Duty,” which was the No. 1 title on Freevee during the month it premiered and delivered the highest number of viewers in the United States on the on ad-supported VOD service in a single month.

Amazon Studios earned 68 Primetime Emmy Award nominations, including three nominations in the Outstanding Comedy Series category for Prime Video’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” Freevee’s “Jury Duty,” and MGM’s “Wednesday.” “Jury Duty” became the first advertising-based video-on-demand series nominated in a major Emmy category, while “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” became the most nominated streaming comedy in Emmy history with 80 nominations over its five seasons. “Daisy Jones & The Six” also earned nine nominations andThe Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” earned six nominations.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Prime Video grew its international slate of content with more than 40 new local Amazon Originals and live sporting events. “Medellín” (France) and “My Fault” (Spain) became the most watched non-English-language local original titles in Prime Video history outside of their home territories, according to the streamer. New global programming also included “Deadloch (Australia), “Caravana das Drags” (Brazil), “The Gryphon” (Germany), “Dahaad” (India), “Takeshi’s Castle” (Japan), “De Viaje con los Derbez” season three (Mexico), and “Gangs of Lagos” (Nigeria).

Amazon MGM Studios Distribution began licensing Amazon Original and MGM library content to third party platforms after debuting on Prime Video. Th strategy includes movies and TV series, such as Coming 2 America and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” among others.

‘Creed III’ Gets Record $58 Million Knockout Win in Weekend Box Office Debut

Amazon-owned MGM Studios’ boxing drama threequel Creed III handily beat expectations, generating a projected record $58.6 million in revenue across 4,000 North American screens through the March 5 weekend. The tally surpasses $100 million when including overseas ticket sales.

The third installment in the spinoff of the “Rocky” boxing franchise, headlined by Michael B. Jordan (who also directed) playing fictional heavyweight champ Adonis “Donnie” Creed, was expected to generate around $43 million in ticket sales, according to Box Office Pro.

MGM claims the opening, which got off to a strong start following $5.5 million in March 2 sneak screenings, tops all sports-themed theatrical debuts. The previous record was held by Sony Picture Entertainment’s The Karate Kid at $55.6 million in 2010.

Creed III easily bested the previous box office champ, Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, which nosed-dived further generating an estimated $12.5 million in tickets sold, but upping its global haul past $419 million ($186.5 million North America) after three weekends.

Universal Pictures’ horror-comedy Cocaine Bear, which also beat expectations last weekend when it opened to $23 million, finished third with $11 million over the Friday-to-Sunday period to bring its total domestic gross to $41 million.

In fourth place, Sony Pictures-owned Crunchyroll’s Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No YaibaTo the Swordsmith Village debuted to more than $10 million, less than half of the anime franchise’s previous theatrical debut, Demon Slayer: Mugen Train, in 2021.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Rounding out the top 5 was Lionsgate’s faith-based Jesus Revolution, which added $8.6 million, upping the movie’s 10-day total to $30.5 million. With a 99% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes and an A+ CinemaScore, the film has been positioned solidly with faith-inspired moviegoers. Given its budget and financial model, the film is a hit for Lionsgate and producer Kingdom Story Company.

Lionsgate also released the STX-produced Guy Ritchie-directed action comedy Operation Fortune: Ruse de guerre, generating around $3 million across more than 2,100 North American screens. A modest start for a movie co-starring Jason Statham, Aubrey Plaza, Cary Elwes and Hugh Grant.

Amazon Studios Head Jennifer Salke Adds MGM Studios Oversight

Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios since 2018, will also oversee the venerable MGM Studios Amazon acquired this year for $8.5 billion. The move was announced in a Nov. 29 staff memo from Mike Hopkins, SVP of Prime Video at Amazon Studios. Separately, Chris Brearton, who was COO at MGM, will now be vice president of PVS corporate strategy for MGM+ and MGM Alternative Television.

Longtime television producer Mark Burnett, who was chairman of MGM Television, left the studio earlier this week to return to independent production. Burnett has produced almost 4,000 hours of television programming (notably “The Voice,” “Survivor,” “Shark Tank,” and “The Handmaid’s Tale”), which regularly airs in more than 70 countries worldwide.

“Jen’s outstanding reputation in the creative community has earned her the respect of Hollywood’s top talent throughout the industry,” Hopkins wrote. “With Jen now having oversight of both studios — along with distribution and all creative marketing — creatives will have a single point of entry for the opportunity to showcase their content across all our platforms.”

Amazon Studios is ending 2022 having launched the most expensive original television series ever, “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.”  Other high-profile Prime Video content includes “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan,” “The Boys,” The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and reality show “Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls.” Movies include Borat Subsequent Movie Film and The Tomorrow War.

Amazon Studios Names Former Warner Executive Sue Kroll Head of Marketing

Amazon Studios has named former Warner Bros. Pictures executive Sue Kroll head of the studio’s marketing department. Kroll, who begins immediately, reports to Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios.

Kroll, who exited Warner Bros. Pictures in 2018, has run her own production company since, with several projects now coming to Amazon. She had been consulting on Prime Video’s exclusive launch of “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” — reportedly the most-expensive TV series ever created.

“Sue has done an outstanding job leading the marketing efforts for ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power,’ our biggest premiere in the history of Prime Video,” Salke reportedly wrote in a staff memo. “She is widely respected, with deep industry knowledge, extensive experience and strong relationships with talent and throughout the creative community. She is a seasoned professional, having marketed projects ranging from blockbuster global releases to award-winning niche film and television projects for over 30 years.”

According to the memo, Kroll was president of worldwide marketing and distribution for Warner Bros. Pictures, where she helped launch movies such as Argo, Dunkirk, Mad Max: Fury Road, Inception and all of the “Harry Potter” films, among others.

Kroll began her career in New York, spending seven years in various divisions of Viacom before moving to Atlanta to head up the marketing department at Turner Network Television. Her tenure with Turner included a role with TNT and Cartoon Network Europe, in which she launched the company’s first entertainment venture outside the United States.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Being the Ricardos

STREAMING REVIEW: 

Amazon Prime Video;
Drama;
Rated ‘R’ for language.
Stars Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem, J.K. Simmons, Nina Arianda, Tony Hale, Alia Shawkat, Jake Lacy, Clark Gregg, Christopher Denham, John Rubinstein, Linda Lavin, Ronny Cox.

Leave it to Aaron Sorkin to chronicle the life of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz while making “I Love Lucy” from the perspective of the show’s writers.

The entertaining docudrama Being the Ricardos provides a thorough look at the challenges of television production, focusing on a week behind the scenes of the iconic sitcom while Ball tries to save her marriage while dealing with the potential fallout of being accused of being a communist in the 1950s.

Writer-director Sorkin uses a number of narrative tricks at his disposal, beginning with a framing device involving older versions of the show’s three primary writers — Jess Oppenheimer, Madelyn Pugh and Bob Carroll — played by John Rubinstein, Linda Lavin and Ronny Cox, respectively as if being interviewed for a documentary (Tony Hale, Alia Shawkat and Jake Lacy play the younger versions).

The trio end up telling the story of how Lucy (Nicole Kidman) met Desi (Javier Bardem), navigated the tricky waters of show business, got married and created an iconic show that changed the course of TV history.

During the week in question, tensions run a bit higher than usual. As Ball wonders if her career is about to end over HUAC, she argues with the writers over jokes in the show and deals with rumors of Desi’s womanizing. Meanwhile, the couple also wants to turn her impending pregnancy into a storyline, much to the chagrin of network executives at CBS, as Desi appeals to the show’s sponsor to force the issue.

It’s a lot to process in two hours, but Sorkin keeps it pithy with his trademark crisp dialogue, and the performances are terrific throughout. One clever conceit involves peering into Ball’s comedy mind as she imagines a scene coming to fruition, allowing Sorkin to re-create moments from the sitcom in black-and-white.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Unlike with his previous film, The Trial of the Chicago 7, which was dripping in political commentary, Sorkin manages to keep any overt politicization of the subject matter at bay, hinting at the debate between the theories and realities of communism without delving too deeply into the particulars (though in interviews he likens the hysteria to modern cancel culture). He also isn’t so uncouth as to point out how “I Love Lucy” was sponsored by the Philip Morris tobacco company, and both Lucy and Desi would eventually die of illnesses known to be exacerbated by smoking.

The particulars of the story are mostly accurate in the aggregate, though in typical Hollywood fashion Sorkin has changed some details and rearranged the timeline for dramatic effect. For instance, the episode shown being produced, “Fred and Ethel Fight,” was the 22nd episode of the series, not the 37th as stated in the movie. And the communist controversy came about a year later, apparently around episode 68, months after Little Ricky was born. The episode in particular was likely chosen because its topic paralleled Lucy and Desi’s own marital troubles in the film, and provided a nice insight into Lucy’s penchant for physical comedy.

On another note, the casting as Lavin to play the older Pugh is a nice touch, as Pugh and Carroll were among the executive producers of the sitcom “Alice” that starred Lavin.

IMDb TV Expands Distribution With App Bow on PlayStation 5

IMDb TV, Amazon’s free streaming service, Dec. 14 announced that its app is now available on Sony PlayStation 5 consoles in the U.S.

IMDb TV features originals from Amazon Studios, including the recently launched second season of the spy series “Alex Rider,” and the upcoming second season premiere of the sports docuseries “Uninterrupted’s Top Class: The Life and Times of the Sierra Canyon Trailblazers,” premiering Dec. 17. The streaming service also features an extensive library of movies and television shows, including “Chicago Fire,” “All in the Family,” Die Hard and Angel Falls Christmas.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The expanded distribution follows IMDb TV app launches this year on Roku, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, LG Smart TVs (2018-21 models), Comcast’s Xfinity Flex, Xfinity X1 and PlayStation 4 consoles, as well as Chromecast with Google TV, Nvidia Shield, and other Android TV devices. The app is also available on iPhone, iPad and Android mobile devices in the U.S.

IMDb TV is also available as an app on Fire TV, Fire Tablets, and a free Channel within the Prime Video app across hundreds of devices.

Amazon Inks Deal With Eddie Murphy

Amazon Studios has announced a three-picture and first-look film deal with Academy Award-nominee and Emmy Award winner Eddie Murphy.

Under the pact, Murphy will star in three films for Amazon Studios and develop original film projects for Prime Video and Studios with the potential to star.

The deal formalizes Murphy’s relationship with Amazon Studios on the heels of the success of Coming 2 America, according to Amazon. Following its March 5 release on Prime Video, the comedy was the No. 1 streamed movie of the weekend, with the No. 1 opening weekend of any other streaming movie in 2021 to date, and No. 1 opening weekend of any streaming movie in the past 12 months (post-COVID theater closures),  per third-party Screen Engine/ASI’s weekly PostVODTM ranking, Amazon noted. The film also topped Nielsen’s weekly streaming rankings among all streamed SVOD content.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“Eddie is a legend both in front of and behind the camera,” Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios, said in a statement. “With undeniable comedic and dramatic genius, he consistently delivers entertaining, original stories and characters to audiences around the world. We could not be more excited to help carry on the tradition and to officially welcome Eddie into the Amazon family.”

Murphy will next produce and star in Netflix’s Beverly Hills Cop 4 and star opposite Jonah Hill in a Kenya Barris-directed comedy for Netflix.

Sony Pictures, Amazon Studios Negotiating ‘Hotel Transylvania 4’ Exclusive Prime Video Deal

Amazon Studios may have bought MGM for $8 billion, but until that mega deal passes regulatory muster, the company is looking for content. Enter Sony Pictures Entertainment, which reportedly is negotiating a $100 million distribution deal for Hotel Transylvania: Transformania, which would bring the fourth installment in the $1.3 billion franchise exclusively to Prime Video, skipping theaters.

Hotel Transylvania 4 had been scheduled to bow in theaters Oct. 1. The original movie bowed in 2012. Sony would retain all home entertainment rights, including linear-TV and Chinese theatrical distribution.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The deal, first reported by Variety, underscores Sony’s ongoing strategy licensing select theatrical content to third parties while awaiting rosier box office days for other tentpole titles.

But “Hotel Transylvania” is just the type of blockbuster franchise Sony would normally shelve for another distribution day such as it has for Uncharted, Marvel’s Morbius and Ghostbusters: Afterlife, among others.

Follow us on Instagram

But Sony has been busy licensing movies during the pandemic, including Greyhound, starring Tom Hanks, to Apple TV+; Happiest Season to Hulu; The Mitchells vs. the Machines, Fatherhood and Vivo to Netflix; and Cinderella to Amazon.

Amazon Studios’ ‘The Lord of the Rings’ Original Series to Bow Sept. 2, 2022, on Prime Video

The highly anticipated, yet-to-be titled Amazon Original “The Lord of the Rings” television series will premiere Sept. 2, 2022, on Prime Video in more than 240 countries and territories worldwide, with new episodes available weekly. Filming of the first season completed Aug. 2 in New Zealand.

The new drama brings to TV screens for the very first time J.R.R. Tolkien’s fabled Second Age of Middle-earth’s history thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings books. The series follows an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“I can’t express enough just how excited we all are to take our global audience on a new and epic journey through Middle-earth,” Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios, said in a statement. “Our talented producers, cast, creative, and production teams have worked tirelessly in New Zealand to bring this untold and awe-inspiring vision to life.”

A world-renowned literary work, and winner of the International Fantasy Award and Prometheus Hall of Fame Award, The Lord of the Rings was named Amazon customers’ favorite book of the millennium in 1999 and Britain’s best-loved novel of all time in BBC’s The Big Read in 2003. The Lord of the Rings books have been translated into around 40 languages and has sold more than 150 million copies.