‘James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction’ Coming to Disc July 28 From RLJE

The sci-fi documentary series “James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction” will come out on DVD and Blu-ray July 28 from AMC Networks’ RLJE Films.

The series originally aired on AMC Networks in 2018 as part of the AMC Visionaries series.

The show, an intimate look at science fiction’s roots, its futuristic vision and our fascination with its ideas, is hosted by Academy Award winner James Cameron (Avatar, Titanic). It features interviews with ‘A’-list storytellers, stars and others whose careers have defined the field of science fiction movies and television. Interviewees include Steven Spielberg (Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial), George Lucas (“Star Wars” franchise), Ridley Scott (The Martian, Blade Runner), Christopher Nolan (Tenet, Interstellar), Will Smith (Men in Black, I Am Legend), Arnold Schwarzenegger (Predator, Terminator) and Bruce Willis (Die Hard, The Sixth Sense).

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Bonus features include extended interviews with Spielberg, Lucas, Scott, Nolan, Guillermo Del Toro and Schwarzenegger.

Shudder’s ‘Belzebuth’ to Come Out on Disc, Digital and VOD July 7 From RLJE

RLJE Films, a business unit of AMC Networks, has picked up select rights to Belzebuth from Shudder, AMC Networks’ streaming service for horror, thriller and the supernatural.

The title will be released on VOD, Digital HD, DVD and Blu-ray on July 7.

Belzebuth is Emilio Portes’ (Pastorela) fourth feature film and first horror film, from a script co-written by Portes and Luis Carlos Fuentes (“Kipatla”). The horror/thriller stars Joaquín Cosio (“Narcos: Mexico,” The Lone Ranger), Tobin Bell (Saw franchise), and Tate Ellington (Sinister 2). The film premiered at the 50th Sitges Film Festival and received Best Picture at 2019 Santiago Horror Film Festival and Best Special Effects at 2019 Buenos Aires Rojo Sangre. 

In Belzebuth, Special Agent Emanuel Ritter leads a police investigation into a series of shocking deaths. But after a priest from the Vatican finds a link between the murders and an ancient demon, a descent into horror ensues.

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BritBox Touts Agatha Christie Content as Rival Collects License Revenue

BritBox, the British-themed SVOD service operating in North America and the United Kingdom and co-owned by the BBC and ITV, has secured rights to what it says is the largest collection of Agatha Christie-themed content.

Rights include myriad seasons of “Poirot,” “Marple,” “Partners in Crime” and “Poirot: Mysterious Affair at Styles,” which bowed May 15 in honor of the 100th anniversary of Christie’s first novel.

“Only BritBox could create this Agatha Christie collection — working together with BBC and ITV to bring together all of these celebrated adaptations,” Soumya Sriraman, CEO of BritBox, said in a statement. “As the home of great British mysteries, we couldn’t be more proud to be the true home of the most beloved portrayals of Christie’s famous characters.”

BritBox is releasing Christie-themed adaptations including, “Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?” and “The Seven Dials Mystery,” featuring Sir John Gielgud, in addition to “The Secret Adversary.”

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“I am delighted to see all these shows available in North America on BritBox,” said James Prichard, CEO and chairman of Agatha Christie Ltd. (ACL). “They give a real flavor of the depth and quality of my great grandmother’s work, and I am sure audiences will enjoy them.”

Interestingly, AMC Networks, which owns and operates rival British-themed streaming service Acorn TV, is the majority (64%) stakeholder in Agatha Christie Ltd. AMC reported $6 million operating income from ACL in 2019.

Acorn TV launched in the United Kingdom in Q1 — nine years after bowing in the United States as an alternative to Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. The company expects to generate upwards of 4 million combined paid subscribers for its four SVOD services, which include Shudder, Sundance Now and UMC (Urban Movie Channel) by the end of the year.

AMC Networks Expects 4 Million SVOD Subs by Year-End

AMC Networks May 5 said it expects to generate 3.5 million to 4 million combined paid subscribers for its four SVOD services — Acorn TV, Shudder, Sundance Now and UMC (Urban Movie Channel) — by the end of the year, two years ahead of the company’s original target.

AMC acquired home entertainment distributor RLJ Entertainment in 2018 for $65 million largely for British-centric programming service Acorn TV and UMC. Notably, Acorn TV launched in the United Kingdom in Q1 — nine years after bowing in the United States as an alternative to Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

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Separately, AMC, whose signature original programming includes “The Walking Dead,” “Killing Eve,” and “Breaking Bad” spin-off “Better Call Saul,” inked a distribution deal with ViacomCBS ad-supported streaming VOD platform Pluto TV.

“We continue to make significant progress on our digital initiatives … is enabling us to navigate this challenging time and will continue to serve us well when this [coronavirus] environment stabilizes,” CEO Josh Sapan said in a statement.

Indeed, as it is worldwide, the impact of COVID-19 and measures to prevent its spread significantly affected AMC Networks’ ad revenue and pay-TV business in the quarter and going forward.

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Revenue in the quarter dropped 6.4% to $735 million, while operating profit plummeted nearly 30% to $173 million compared to the previous-year period. Beginning in mid-March, the company experienced adverse advertising sales impacts and suspended content production, which has led to delays in the creation and availability of some of its television programming.

Operationally, nearly all AMC Networks employees are working remotely, and the company has restricted business travel. AMC expects current second quarter revenue to fall 30%.

“In what has been a unique operating environment, [we] continue to generate significant levels of free cash flow and remain well capitalized with a strong balance sheet and strong liquidity,” Sapan said.

Pluto TV Adds AMC Network Channels

Viacom’s AVOD service Pluto TV May 1 launched a suite of original AMC Networks channels, including Stories by AMC, Slightly Off by IFC, All Reality WE tv and The Walking Dead en Español.

The launch of these dedicated channels will give Pluto TV customers access to such AMC Networks content as “The Walking Dead,” “Fear the Walking Dead,” “Halt and Catch Fire” and “Into the Badlands; IFC’s “Portlandia,” “Documentary Now! and “Brockmire; and WE tv’s “Kendra on Top and “Mary Mary.”

Select programming will also be available on demand as part of Pluto TV’s platform.

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“We are excited to partner with Pluto TV to bring AMC Networks’ acclaimed originals to our fans in new ways, as viewers continue to seek greater flexibility and choice,” said Joshua Reader, president of distribution and development for AMC Networks, in a statement. “Free ad-supported streaming is an emerging category that gives us the ability to complement the content offerings of our linear networks and other new platforms in ways that serve viewers and advertising partners — all part of our strategy to make our content available to as many people as possible in a rapidly evolving media environment. As always, compelling, distinctive and premium content is at the heart of our appeal and that of these new AMCN-Pluto channels.”

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“As we continue to see incredible growth and adoption of Pluto TV worldwide, we are thrilled to join forces with an esteemed and award-winning partner like AMC Networks,” said Amy Kuessner, SVP of content strategy and global partnerships, in a statement. “Pluto TV is the exclusive launch partner of these new channels from AMC Networks, that offer the perfect escape for viewers in search of the very best television programming that’s easy to access and free to stream.”

Stories By AMC will include past seasons of “The Walking Dead” and full series of “Halt and Catch Fire,” “Hap and Leonard” and “Into the Badlands,” as well as select seasons of “Ride with Norman Reedus,” “Making of the Mob” and police drama “Low Winter Sun.” More series joining the channel in the upcoming months include “Fear the Walking Dead,” “Preacher,” “TURN: Washington’s Spies” and “Comic Book Men.”

Slightly Off By IFC includes “Documentary Now!,” “Portlandia,”  “Sherman’s Showcase,” “Brockmire” and “Comedy Bang! Bang!” More IFC series joining the channel in the coming months include “Baroness Von Sketch Show” and “Stan Against Evil.”

All Reality WE tv series include “Kendra on Top,” “L.A. Hair,” “Mary Mary,” “John Edward Cross Country,” “My Fair Wedding,” “Hustle & Soul” and “Tamar & Vince.” Additional WE tv series joining the channel in the coming months include “Bridezillas,” “Million Dollar Matchmaker,” “Cutting It in the ATL” and “Cyndi Lauper: Still So Unusual.”

The Walking Dead en Español channel offers “The Walking Dead” and “Fear the Walking Dead” in Spanish.

Season One of ‘Creepshow’ Coming to Digital and Disc From RLJE

RLJE Films has picked up select rights to season one of “Creepshow” from parent AMC Networks’ Shudder streaming service and will release it June 2 digitally, and on DVD and Blu-ray.

The six-episode season of the horror-comedy from showrunner Greg Nicotero (“The Walking Dead”) stars Tobin Bell (Saw franchise), Adrienne Barbeau (Escape From New York), Giancarlo Esposito (“Breaking Bad”), Cailey Fleming (“The Walking Dead”), Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator), Scott ‘Kid Cudi’ Mescudi (Bill & Ted Face the Music), DJ Qualls (“The Man in the High Castle”), Bruce Davison (X-Men), David Arquette (Scream franchise), Dana Gould (“Stan Against Evil”) and Tricia Helfer (“Battlestar Galactica”).

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The new anthology series is based on George A. Romero’s 1982 horror comedy film. A comic book comes to life in a series of 12 vignettes over six episodes, exploring terrors from murder to the supernatural and unexplainable, including haunted dollhouses, werewolves, murderous goblins, villainous trick-or-treaters, the dead and medical marvels.

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The six episodes were directed by Greg Nicotero (“The Walking Dead”), Tom Savini (Dawn of the Dead), John Harrison (Book of Blood), Rob Schrab (“Community”), David Bruckner (The Ritual) and Roxanne Benjamin (Body at Brighton Rock).

Bonus materials include more than three hours of interviews, featurettes and behind-the-scenes footage, audio commentary tracks with the cast and crew for each of the episodes, and a 24-page comic art booklet.

Update (5/12/20): The original street date of May 19 was changed to June 2 by RLJ.

Acorn TV Launching in the U.K. on April 29

Taking a page from rival streaming video service BritBox, AMC Networks’ Acorn TV is slated to launch in the United Kingdom on April 29.

Acorn TV, which owns a majority stake in the Agatha Christie literary estate, bowed in the United States in 2011. It now claims 1 million subscribers in North America.

New subs in the U.K. will get an extended 30-day free trial for a limited time. The service will also be available on a number of devices, including Roku, Fire TV, Android and Apple mobile and Apple TV — with Amazon Channels and Apple TV Channels pending.

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Acorn TV will add new content every subsequent Monday, and all series will include English subtitles. After the free trial, Acorn TV costs £4.99 ($6.18) per month or £49.99 ($61.90) per year.

“The United Kingdom has a long-standing tradition of producing first-rate dramas and mysteries, so we’re thrilled to feature so many popular, award-winning programs in one place like ITV’s ‘Foyle’s War’ and BBC’s ‘Keeping Faith,’ as well as introduce U.K. audiences to the charming, British-produced Acorn TV Original ‘Queens of Mystery,” Matthew Graham, GM at Acorn TV, said in a statement.

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For the last nine years, Acorn TV has curated and produced a diverse mix of shows from Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and Scandinavia with a reported focus on older female viewers.

“We continue to greatly expand our commission and co-production slate and are extremely excited for U.K. viewers to get the opportunity to see the wonderful ‘Queens of Mystery’ filmed in the beautiful countryside of Kent as well as several other productions later this year, including Irish period mystery series ‘Dead Still’ and New Zealand thriller ‘The Sounds,’ among many others,” added Catherine Mackin, managing director, Acorn Media Enterprises, the UK-based development division for Acorn TV.

AMC Networks Bows First International VOD Access in Spain

“AMC Selekt,” AMC Networks’ upstart video-on-demand service, launched its first international operations in Spain.

The service will be added to France’s Orange TV at no additional cost. As a result of this first-time agreement, Orange TV platform subscribers can watch more than 5,000 programs throughout the year, in a wide variety of genres including films, series, documentaries, lifestyle, children’s content and music.

AMC Selekt content ranges from AMC Networks, Canal Hollywood, SundanceTV, Dark, XTRM, Odisea, Canal Cocina, Canal Decasa, Canal Panda and Sol Música.

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“AMC Selekt … is the largest channel network library available in Spain and, more importantly, the most diverse,” Manuel Balsera, EVP and managing director of AMCNISE, said in a statement. “We are delighted that AMC Selekt is debuting with Orange TV, which is one of our main distribution partners in the market.”

Subscribers will have access to series such as “Dispatches from Elsewhere,” “Das Boot,” “Wisting,” “Bordertown” and “This Close,” among others. Movies include The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Meet the Parents, Super 8 and The Addams Family; and documentaries on technology, nature and current events such as “The Harvey Weinstein Scandal,” “A Samurai at the Vatican” and “Antarctic Expedition.”

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In-house productions include culinary programs “Let’s Taste the World” and “Julius’ 22 Minutes,” home decoration and fashion shows “A Touch of Chus” and “Customize Your House”. The offer also includes music concerts by Vetusta Morla, Alice Wonder and Nunatak and children’s content such as “Masha and the Bear” and “Panda Kitchen.”

AMC Networks Moves Up ‘Killing Eve’ Season Three Debut

AMC Networks has moved up the season three premiere of award-winning drama “Killing Eve” by two weeks to April 12. All eight new episodes will be simulcast on BBC America and AMC.

The third season continues the story of two women with brutal pasts, addicted to each other but now trying desperately to live their lives without their drug of choice. For Villanelle (Jodie Comer), the assassin without a job, Eve (Sandra Oh) is dead. For Eve, the ex-MI6 operative hiding in plain sight, Villanelle will never find her. All seems fine until a shocking and personal death sets them on a collision course yet again.

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Stars Sandra Oh, Jodie Comer, Fiona Shaw, Kim Bodnia, Sean Delaney and Owen McDonnell return with new cast additions: Dame Harriet Walter (“Succession”), Danny Sapani (“Harlots”), Gemma Whelan (“Game of Thrones”), Camille Cottin (“Call My Agent”), Steve Pemberton (“Inside No. 9”), Raj Bajaj (“A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding”), Turlough Convery (Ready Player One), Pedja Bjelac (Harry Potter) and Evgenia Dodina (One Week and a Day).

“Killing Eve” season two is available on BBCAmerica.com, AMC.com, and the BBC America and AMC Apps. First two seasons are also available on Hulu, download-to-own platforms and Blu-ray/DVD.

AMC Networks Inks Content Deal With NBCUniversal’s Peacock Streaming Service

AMC Networks continues to expand distribution beyond the pay-TV ecosystem. The home to “The Walking Dead,” and “Better Call Saul,” among others, signed a deal for reality-TV programming with Comcast’s pending Peacock streaming video platform.

Under the agreement, Peacock — which launches to Xfinity subs on April 15, nationwide in July — gets series such as “Cold Case Files,” “First 48,” “Storage Wars,” “American Pickers,” “Ancient Aliens,” “Curse of Oak Island,” and “Pawn Stars” in addition to History’s scripted drama “Project Blue Book.”

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“In addition to the strong portfolio of NBCUniversal programming available on Peacock, we continue to aggregate content from other networks and studios, like A&E and HISTORY, that maximizes the breadth and depth of choice for our customers,” Frances Manfredi, president, content acquisition and strategy, Peacock and NBCUniversal Digital Enterprises, said in a statement.

Peacock will launch with an ad-supported option, in addition to a Premium channel free to Comcast and Cox Communications subscriber. The latter will cost $4.99 monthly with ads; $9.99 without to other third-party pay-TV subs.

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“We strongly believe in the power of the A+E Networks’ library of content, and that it will prove to strengthen Peacock’s offerings,” said Steve MacDonald, president, global content licensing and international, A+E Networks.

When it launches, Peacock will have live sports (i.e. 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics) and news from NBC News and Sky News in the United Kingdom, in addition to scripted and non-scripted programming.

The service will also have access to Premier League soccer in the United Kingdom, and Ryder Cup golf.

AMC Networks earlier this week signed a distribution deal with Dish Network and the Sling TV subsidiary.