Amazon Prime Video to Stream Fourth ‘Hotel Transylvania’ Film

Amazon Prime Video has licensed worldwide streaming rights (excluding China) to Hotel Transylvania: Transformania from Sony Pictures Animation. The fourth installment of the family film franchise will premiere worldwide in more than 240 countries and territories on Prime Video on Jan. 14, 2022.

In the film, Drac (Brian Hull) and his monster pals are all transformed into humans, and Johnny (Andy Samberg) becomes a monster. In their new mismatched bodies, Drac, stripped of his powers, and an exuberant Johnny, loving life as a monster, must team up and race across the globe to find a cure. With help from Mavis (Selena Gomez) and the now human Drac Pack, the heat is on to find a way to switch themselves back before their transformations become permanent. The film also features the voices of Kathryn Hahn (Ericka), Steve Buscemi (Wayne), Molly Shannon (Wanda), David Spade (Griffin the Invisible Man), Keegan-Michael Key (Murray), Fran Drescher (Eunice), Brad Abrell (Frank) and Asher Blinkoff (Wesley the Wolf Pup).

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“The success of the ‘Hotel Transylvania’ franchise over the years speaks for itself,” Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios, said in a statement. “Audiences around the world have fallen in love with the films created by the brilliant Genndy Tartakovsky, and the latest installment is the perfect ending to an incredible journey. We could not be more excited to work with Sony, Genndy, Jennifer Kluska, Derek Drymon, Selena Gomez and the talented producing team to bring this funny, heartwarming film to our customers early next year.”

“The ‘Hotel Transylvania’ franchise has been exceptional for Sony Pictures Animation, spanning nearly a decade and introducing the world to Genndy Tartakovsky’s singular vision, and we’re so proud of what our extraordinary directors Jennifer Kluska and Derek Drymon have brought to this special property,” Kristine Belson, president of Sony Pictures Animation, said in a statement. “These films have thrilled audiences and paved the way for so many artists working in CG animation, and now the family saga of Dracula and his daughter Mavis, son-in-law Johnny, and monster BFFs is coming to a close. We are thrilled to work with Amazon to bring this film to families everywhere.”

For the final chapter of the “Hotel Transylvania” film series, franchise creator Genndy Tartakovsky returns as one of the screenwriters and executive producers. Gomez will also serve as an executive producer. Directed by Derek Drymon and Jennifer Kluska, the film is produced by Alice Dewey Goldstone and executive produced by Tartakovsky, Michelle Murdocca, and Gomez. The story is by Genndy Tartakovsky with a screenplay by Amos Vernon, Nunzio Randazzo and Genndy Tartakovsky.

Amazon Reaches Settlement With Social Media Influencers

Amazon announced a settlement with Kelly Fitzpatrick and Sabrina Kelly-Krejci, who used TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook to promote and facilitate the sale of counterfeit luxury fashion goods on Amazon, as well as on other online marketplaces.

In the lawsuit, filed in November 2020 in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, Amazon showed that the individuals conspired to promote counterfeit luxury brand products on social media video sites and directed customers to product listings on Amazon that evaded counterfeit measures by appearing to be generic, non-infringing products, while the products actually shipped to customers would be the counterfeit items promoted on social media.

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As part of the settlement, Fitzpatrick and Kelly-Krejci will make undisclosed settlement payments to Amazon, which will be donated to charities, including the International Trademark Association’s Unreal Campaign, a consumer awareness initiative to educate minor and young adults about the importance of intellectual property rights.

“We are pleased that this settlement has resulted in the individuals recognizing the harm they caused, assistance for our investigation moving forward, and that charities will benefit from the recovered funds,” Kebharu Smith, director of Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit, said in a statement. “This settlement sends a strong message to would-be bad actors that Amazon will find you and hold you fully accountable.”

In June 2020, Amazon launched its Counterfeit Crimes Unit, and has filed a series of lawsuits against counterfeiters, including joint lawsuits with GoPro, apparel manufacturer HanesBrands, and outdoor products manufacturer YETI.

E-commerce scams remain on the ride. In 2020, only 6% of attempted new seller account registrations passed Amazon’s verification processes and listed products for sale, according to the company. In addition, fewer than 0.01% of all products sold on Amazon received a counterfeit complaint from customers.

‘Dolly Parton’ Celebration, ‘Nova Universe Revealed’ Among Titles Due on PBS Documentaries Prime Video Channel in October

Dolly Parton & Friends: 50 Years at the Opry and Nova Universe Revealed are among the titles available on the PBS Documentaries Prime Video Channel in October.

Dolly Parton celebrates 50 years as a member of the Grand Ole Opry in Dolly Partin & Friends: 50 Years at the Opry, streaming starting Oct. 22. Recorded live in Nashville, the special pays tribute to her songs and career with special performances from Parton and her star guests, including Lady A, Dierks Bentley, Candi Carpenter, Emmylou Harris, Chris Janson, Toby Keith, Margo Price and Hank Williams Jr. Capturing Parton delivering some of her biggest hits on one of the most iconic stages in the world, this celebration of the country music legend’s 50 years as a member of the Grand Ole Opry features new interviews with Parton, guest appearances from some of her superstar friends and more.

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Nova Universe Revealed starts streaming Oct. 28. In this five-part series, “Nova” delves into the vastness of space to capture moments of high drama when the universe changed forever. State-of-the-art animation delivers astonishing, photorealistic glimpses of the birth of the very first star, the chaos created as two galaxies collide, and the power of a supermassive black hole as it flings a star across space so violently that it’s still traveling millions of years later. “Nova” even takes viewers on the ultimate time travel voyage to witness the birth of space and time itself. Informed by huge advances in scientific understanding, this series brings viewers face-to-face with the most surprising characters in the cosmos and reveals how their fates are intertwined with their own.

Other titles due on the channel in October include:

  • 10 Buildings That Changed America
  • American Experience: A Class Apart
  • American Experience: The Poisoner’s Handbook
  • American Experience: Tupperware!
  • American Experience: War of the Worlds
  • American Masters: Becoming Helen Keller
  • American Masters: Lights, Camera, Acción
  • American Veteran
  • Constitution USA With Peter Sagal
  • Debt of Honor: Disabled Veterans in America
  • For The Left Hand
  • Frontline: Losing Iraq
  • Frontline: Taliban Takeover
  • Frontline: Rape in the Fields
  • Frontline: Shots Fired
  • Frontline: To Catch a Trader
  • Held Hostage
  • Nature: Animal Babies: First Year on Earth, Season 1
  • Nature: Leave It to Beavers
  • Nature: My Garden of a Thousand Bees
  • Nature: Season of the Osprey
  • Nature: Sex in the Wild, Season 1
  • Nova: Arctic Drift
  • Nova: Edible Insects
  • Nova: Nazi Attack in America
  • Nova: Particles Unknown
  • Nova: The Pluto Files
  • Rebel: Loreta Velazquez, Secret Soldier of the American Civil War
  • The Draft
  • VA: The Human Cost of War
  • Voces: Letters to Eloisa

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.

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“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.

Amazon Building Its Own Smart Televisions

As one of the world’s largest companies, Amazon is taking the unprecedented step of building its own brand of Internet-connected smart televisions instead of licensing units with third-party original equipment manufacturers such as LG, Samsung and related Chinese makers.

The first-ever Amazon-built smart TVs include the Amazon Fire TV Omni Series and 4-Series smart TVs, and the all-new Fire TV Stick 4K Max.

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The Fire TV Omni Series will be available in 43-inch ($409.99), 50-inch ($509.99), and 55-inch ($559.99). The Fire TV Omni Series with Dolby Vision will be available in 65-inch ($829.99), and 75-inch ($1,099.99). The Fire TV 4-Series will be available in 43-inch ($369.99), 50-inch ($469.99), and 55-inch ($519.99). All TVs will be available next month in the United States, exclusively at Amazon and Best Buy. Starting Sept. 9, shoppers can save $110 on the 50-inch Fire TV Omni and 4-Series models for a limited time during the introductory period.

Fire TV Stick 4K Max will be available in the United States for $54.99.

“We’ve reimagined what a TV can do by building it with two of our most popular experiences at the core — the intelligent always-available power of far-field Alexa, and Fire TV’s content-forward approach to entertainment,” Daniel Rausch, VP of Amazon entertainment devices and services, said in a statement. “Our new Fire TV Omni Series smart TVs, with hands-free access to Alexa, make controlling your TV faster, simpler, and more natural.”

Amazon Studios Sets Theatrical, Streaming Dates for ‘My Name Is Pauli Murray’ Doc

Amazon Studios has announced theatrical and home release dates for My Name Is Pauli Murray, a film about social justice crusader Pauli Murray, a non-binary Black lawyer, activist and poet who influenced both Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Thurgood Marshall.

The film will be released in theaters Sept. 17 and on the Prime Video streaming service on Oct. 1.

By the time the Supreme Court overturned separate-but-equal legislation, Murray was already knee-deep fighting for social justice. A pioneering attorney, activist, priest and dedicated memoirist, Murray shaped landmark litigation—and consciousness— around race and gender equity. As an African American youth raised in the segregated South, Murray understood what it was to exist beyond previously accepted categories and cultural norms. Both Murray’s personal path and tireless advocacy foreshadowed some of the most politically consequential issues of our time.

All Seasons of ‘Seaside Hotel’ Streaming on PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel

All eight seasons (40 episodes) of the Danish TV series “Seaside Hotel” are becoming available to stream on the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel in September, with season eight debuting Sept. 17.

The subscription rate for the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel is $5.99 per month with an Amazon Prime or Prime Video subscription.

Fondly known as “Danish Downton-by-the-sea,” the series follows the drama of the guests and employees of a seaside hotel. “Downton Abbey” meets “Agatha Christie” in this sleeper hit that began its first season in 2013, set in 1920s Denmark. Seasons one through five each follow a summer hotel season in the years 1928 though 1932. Seasons six through eight each follow a summer season in the years 1939 through 1941.

In the series, when an 18-year-old girl from a working-class family starts work at this rural beach hotel, her father warns her not to fraternize with the bourgeois guests, but as secrets about each guest begin to unravel, the seemingly idyllic rural life is much more dramatic than Fie expected. The hotel owner is immediately charmed by her good looks and quickly promotes her to chambermaid, which causes shockwaves through the normally strictly conventional hotel. The owner’s wife is wary, the other maids are jealous and the local young farmer is intrigued by this pretty new addition to his client’s staff. As the annual visitors settle into their rooms, Fie begins to learn about old habits and new secrets, as their chambermaid unwittingly becomes party to betrayal, murder and unexpected desires.

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When the seaside hotel opens its doors in season eight, the year is 1941 and WWII becomes harder to dismiss from everyone’s mind. A life with rationing marks, scarcity of goods and German soldiers in the street has long since become commonplace. The Germans have moved closer and have now taken over the neighboring hotels only 1 kilometer from the beach hotel. However, this does not stop the spa hotel’s regulars from packing their suitcases and checking in as usual.

Ken Burns Docuseries ‘Muhammad Ali’ Streaming on PBS Documentaries Prime Video Channel Sept. 19

Muhammad Ali, a new four-part documentary directed by Ken Burns, will begin streaming on the PBS Documentaries Prime Video Channel Sept. 19.

It will be available in 4K Ultra HD.

The subscription rate for the PBS Documentaries Prime Video Channel is $3.99 per month with an Amazon Prime or Prime Video subscription.

The new series, which was in development for six years, was also written and co-directed by Sarah Burns and David McMahon, whose previous collaborations with Burns include The Central Park Five (2012), Jackie Robinson (2016) and East Lake Meadows: A Public Housing Story (2020).

The film follows the life of one of the most consequential men of the 20th century, a three-time heavyweight boxing champion who captivated billions with his combination of speed, agility and power in the ring, as well as his charm, wit and outspokenness outside of it. At the height of his fame, Ali challenged Americans’ racial prejudices, religious biases and notions about what roles celebrities and athletes play in our society, and inspired people all over the world with his message of pride and self-affirmation.

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Drawing from archival footage and photographs, contemporary music, and the insights and memories of eyewitnesses — including family and friends, journalists, boxers and historians, among many others — the docuseries is a sweeping portrait of an American icon. The series details the story of the athlete who called himself — and was considered by many to be — “the greatest of all time” and competed in some of the most dramatic and widely viewed sporting events in history, including “The Fight of the Century” and “The Thrilla in Manila,” both against his great rival Joe Frazier, as well as “The Rumble in the Jungle,” in which he defeated George Foreman to regain the heavyweight title that was stripped from him seven years earlier.

Muhammad Ali captures Ali’s principled resistance to the Vietnam War, his steadfast commitment to his Muslim faith, and his complex relationships with Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X. While largely celebrated today as an icon of American sport and culture, Ali was not always embraced. At times he was reviled by many in America, especially white Americans and members of the media. Ali faced a firestorm of criticism when he said, “I ain’t got nothing against them Viet Cong” — a stance that would result in five years of legal jeopardy and a three-and-a-half-year banishment from boxing.

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Ali’s story is full of contradictions. Despite his ruthlessness in the ring, he was a symbol of peace and pacifism. Though committed to a faith that expected dignified conduct, he was notoriously unfaithful to his wives. A clever showman with unparalleled genius for promotion, he occasionally allowed partners and friends to take advantage of him. Endlessly trumpeting his own greatness, he anonymously donated much of his fortune.

Muhammad Ali includes interviews with Ali’s daughters Hana Ali and Rasheda Ali, his second wife Khalilah Ali, his third wife Veronica Porche, and his brother and confidant Rahaman Ali. Others appearing in the film include activist and former basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, sportswriter Howard Bryant, historian Gerald Early, civil rights activist Jesse Jackson, friend and business manager Gene Kilroy, boxing promoter Don King, novelist Walter Mosley, long-time friend Abdul Rahman, and New Yorker editor David Remnick, among others.

Other titles coming to the PBS Documentaries Prime Video Channel in September include American Experience: Citizen Hearst, American Experience: Jimmy Carter, Season 1, American Experience: Reagan, Season 1, American Experience: Supreme Justice: Sandra Day O’Connor, American Masters: Raul Julia: The World’s a Stage, American Masters: Twyla Moves, Discovering Your Warrior Spirit with D.J. Vanas, Frontline: America After 9/11, Frontline: Boeing’s Fatal Flaw, Generation 9/11, Independent Lens: Harvest Season, Lives Well Lived, Nova: Bat Superpowers and Nova: The Cannabis Question.

Remy Merriex Joins Prime Video Marketing Team

Remy Merriex will join Prime Video’s marketing team as global executive creative director.

In this new leadership role, he will oversee the development of global creative campaigns across Prime Video brand, content and originals marketing.

Merriex most recently served as global head of creative, messenger, at Facebook. Prior to that, he led creative on entertainment and brand marketing for Facebook Watch, gaming, live and Lasso. He is also an advisor and mentor for The One School, supporting the advertising and design industry by offering diversity, education, leadership programs and more for all creatives.

Merriex reports to Ukonwa Ojo, CMO for Prime Video and Amazon Studios.

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Amazon, Best Buy Partner for New Chinese-Made Insignia Fire TVs

Amazon and Best Buy Aug. 3 announced a new lineup of Best Buy Insignia F50 Series Fire TVs. The TVs are the latest from the partnership between the two companies, which began three years ago. The new F50 series TVs feature enhanced screen resolution, premium audio functionality, and Alexa voice integration for an immersive entertainment experience.

“Customers have purchased millions of Insignia and Toshiba Fire TVs in the U.S. and Canada,” Daniel Rausch, VP of entertainment devices and services at Amazon, said in a statement. “Today, we’re thrilled to further expand the Fire TV line with a new generation of Insignia — Fire TVs including the F50 Series.”

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Toshiba and Insignia Fire TVs range from 24 inches to 75 inches, and are available in 2K, 4K and QLED resolution technologies.

The Insignia F50 Series Fire TV uses quantum dot technology in 4K Ultra HD for claimed vibrant, true-to-life images with rich subtle details. The TVs feature Dolby Vision HDR to contrast bright highlights with dark shadows to showcase subtle details, and DTS Virtual-X speaker technology to deliver three-dimensional sound. The displays have a narrow bezel for optimal video playback for living room entertainment. The Insignia F50 Series Fire TV will be available at Best Buy stores and online, as well as Amazon.com later this summer.

“From the start of this collaboration, our goal has always been to enrich the lives of our customers,” said Luke Motschenbacher, category officer at Best Buy.

In addition, Best Buy and Amazon are working together to innovate on purchase options for customers. Orders placed on Amazon.com and picked up in a Best Buy store launched in November 2020 with one Fire TV model. Today, this option is available for the full lineup of Toshiba and Insignia Fire TVs at all Best Buy store locations in the U.S. With in-store pickup, customers can buy on Amazon.com and pick up at a local Best Buy store within the hour.

In June, Amazon.com customers purchased a record-setting number of Fire TVs including the Toshiba and Insignia Fire TVs during Prime Day and the two week lead-up period.