Animated Horror Film ‘The Spine of Night’ Gets Feb. 1 Disc, Digital Release

RLJE Films and Shudder on Feb. 1 will release the animated horror film The Spine of Night on DVD and Blu-ray, as well as in a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbook that includes a DVD and standard Blu-ray.

The film premiered in theaters, on demand and through digital retailers in October. Both RLJE Films and Shudder are owned by AMC Networks.

The Spine of Night stars Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?), Lucy Lawless (“Xena: Warrior Princess”), Patton Oswalt (Young Adult), Betty Gabriel (Get Out) and Joe Manganiello (“True Blood”).

The film was co-written and co-directed by Philip Gelatt and Morgan Galen King.

The DVD will be available at a suggested retail price (SRP) of $27.97, the Blu-ray at $28.96, and the 4K UHD/Blu-ray/DVD Steelbook at $35.97. 

The film is an epic fantasy about the history of a land that never was. It begins when an ambitious young man steals forbidden knowledge from a sacred plant. He falls to its darker temptations and, in so doing, unleashes ages of suffering onto mankind. As his power grows over the years, it falls to people of different ilk and culture to attempt to stop him. Among those who stand against him are a daring tomb-robber, star-crossed lovers, a maniacal necromancer, winged assassins, and an undying guardian.

RLJE Sets Feb. 1 DVD, Blu-ray, Digital Release Date for Shudder Original ‘Superhost’

RLJE Films on Feb. 1 will release the horror film Superhost on VOD, digital, DVD and Blu-ray Disc.

Home distribution rights were acquired from Shudder, the streaming service owned by AMC Networks, which also owns RLJE.

Directed and written by Brandon Christensen, Superhost stars Sara Canning (“9-1-1”, “Nancy Drew”), Osric Chau (“The Flash”, “Nancy Drew”), Gracie Gillam (“Z Nation,” “Scream Queens”) and Barbara Crampton (Jakob’s Wife). The DVD will be available at a suggested retail price of $27.97 and the Blu-ray Disc at $28.96.

In the film, Teddy and Claire are travel vloggers who run a channel called “SUPERHOST,” where they travel and share their experiences in and around vacation homes. Their initial success, however, has begun to ebb, and with a dwindling subscriber count they decide to create viral content around a fascinating woman named Rebecca, their most recent host. Bad choice.

Bonus features on the DVD and Blu-ray Disc include a director commentary, behind-the-scenes footage and photos, and a mini-documentary on shooting a film during a pandemic.

AMC’s RLJE Films Unit Sets Dec. 14 DVD, Blu-ray Disc Dates for ‘South of Heaven’

RLJE Films, a business unit of AMC Networks, will release South of Heaven on Dec. 14 on both DVD and Blu-ray Disc.

Directed by Aharon Keshales, the film centers around convicted felon Jimmy (Jason Sudeikis), who gets early parole after serving 12 years in prison for armed robbery. Upon his release he vows to give his girlfriend Annie (Evangeline Lilly), who is dying of cancer, the best last year of her life. But things are never that simple, and when he is given a “side job” from his parole officer (Shea Whigham), it sets off a series of events that leaves Jimmy in the crosshairs of a local crime boss (Mike Colter). 

Keshales co-wrote the film with Kai Mark and Navot Papushado (Gunpowder Milkshake).  

The DVD carries a suggested retail price (SRP) of $29.26 and the Blu-ray Disc, $29.97.

Bonus features on the DVD and Blu-ray Disc include a “meet the cast” featurette and a mini-documentary on the making of the film.

AMC Networks Says SVOD Properties to Reach 9 Million Subs by Year’s End

AMC Networks Nov. 5 said expects its branded subscription streaming video services to reach 9 million combined subscribers by the end of the year. SVOD services include Acorn TV, AMC+, Shudder, Sundance Now and ALLBLK (formerly Urban Movie Channel).

The notable sub driver for AMC+ was the Aug. 22 Season 11 premiere of “The Walking Dead,” which was a top driver of subscriber acquisition and viewership on the platform, according to AMC.

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Acorn and ALLBLK come from AMC’s 2018 acquisition of home entertainment distributor RLJ Entertainment for $65 million.

“We are building a streaming business that is sustainable and will be profitable over the long term, and with our owned IP, our library of high-quality content, and our strong legacy channels business, we have the right assets to drive growth and increase shareholder value,” CEO Matt Blank said in a statement.

Shudder’s ‘Violation’ Arriving on Blu-ray and Digital Sept. 21

RLJE Films, a unit of AMC Networks, will release the horror film Violation for digital purchase and on Blu-ray Sept. 21.

The film, from AMC’s Shudder streaming service, marks the feature screenwriting and directorial debut of Madeleine Sims-Fewer and Dusty Mancinelli.

Sims-Fewer also stars as Miriam who returns to her hometown to seek solace in the comfort of her younger sister and brother-in-law when her marriage begins to implode. But one evening, a tiny slip in judgement leads to a catastrophic betrayal, leaving Miriam shocked, reeling, and furious. Believing her only recourse is to exact revenge, Miriam takes extreme action, but the price of retribution is high, and she is not prepared for the toll it takes as she begins to emotionally and psychologically unravel.

The cast also includes Anna Maguire, Jesse LaVercombe and Obi Abili.

Bonus materials include a “Meet the Filmmakers” featurette and the film’s introduction at the Toronto International Film Festival.

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AMC Networks’ Josh Sapan Transitions to Executive Chairman; Former Showtime Boss Named Interim CEO

Josh Sapan, chief executive of AMC Networks since 1995, is stepping down to become executive chairman of the board. Former Showtime CEO Matthew Blank has been named interim CEO. The moves are effective Sept. 8. In addition, Michael Sherin was promoted to EVP and chief accounting officer, effective Aug. 24.

Blank worked at ViacomCBS’s premium network Showtime in various executive positions from 1995 to 2018.

In his new role, Sapan will continue to assist in setting AMC’s corporate and creative direction and work closely with senior management to support the overall advancement of the company, particularly as it continues to grow its targeted streaming business, led by its streaming offerings, which include AMC+, Acorn TV, Shudder, Sundance Now and ALLBLK (formerly Urban Movie Channel).

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During Sapan’s tenure, AMC became a standalone media company scoring huge hits with “The Walking Dead” and “Better Call Saul.” In 2018, Sapan orchestrated the $60 million acquisition of home entertainment distributor RLJ Entertainment. That deal secured AMC ownership of streaming platforms Acorn TV and Urban Movie Channel, among other assets.

“Over his long career, Josh’s leadership ensured AMC Networks became a force in entertainment, with far-reaching influence throughout the industry, and home to some of the most successful and innovative shows in the history of television,” James Dolan, AMC Chairman, said in a statement. “We are grateful for his vision, creativity and management expertise and look forward to his continued contributions as executive vice chairman.”

Killer Jeans Let Loose in Shudder’s ‘Slaxx’ on DVD Sept. 7

AMC Networks’ RLJE Films will release the horror film Slaxx on DVD, VOD and for digital purchase Sept. 7.

Originally released through AMC’s horror streaming service, Shudder, Slaxx tells the story of a possessed pair of blue jeans brought to life to punish the unscrupulous practices of a trendy clothing company. Shipped to the company’s flagship store, the killer jeans proceed to wreak carnage on staff who are locked in overnight to set up the new collection.

Directed by Elza Kephart, who co-wrote the film with Patricia Gomez Zlatar, Slaxx stars Romane Denis, Brett Donahue, Sehar Bhojani and Stephen Bogaert.

DVD extras include a behind-the-scenes photo gallery and the featurettes “The Story Behind Slaxx,” “The Pants Are Alive,” “Producing a Killer Pants Movie,” “Call In the Death Consultant” and “Casting Slaxx.”

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RLJE Films Sets Aug. 3 DVD, Digital Release Date for Shudder’s ‘Lucky’

RLJE Films, an independent distributor owned by AMC Networks, has announced Aug. 3 home release dates for the horror film Lucky, originally produced for Shudder, AMC’s premium streaming service for horror and thriller films.

Directed by Natasha Kermani (Imitation Girl, Shattered) and written by Brea Grant (12 Hour Shift), Lucky will be available through digital retailers and on DVD at $27.97.

Lucky tells the story of May (Grant), a popular self-help book author, who finds herself the target of a mysterious man with murderous intentions. Every night without fail, he comes after her, and every day the people around her barely seem to notice. With no one to turn to, May is pushed to her limits and must take matters into her own hands to survive and to regain control of her life. The cast also includes Dhruv Uday Singh (Good Trouble), Kausar Mohammed (What Men Want), Hunter C. Smith (Alien Expedition), and Kristina Klebe (Hellboy).

Bonus features on the DVD include a filmmaker commentary and a behind-the-scenes photo gallery.

AMC Networks Expands Streaming Video Management Duties

AMC Networks has expanded the roles and responsibilities of three executives as the company continues its reorientation around its targeted streaming services, which include more than 6 million subscribers across AMC+, Shudder, Acorn TV, Sundance Now and IFC Films Unlimited.

Courtney Thomasma, who has most recently been executive director of BBC America, is shifting to a new role as general manager of AMC+. She oversaw the network’s programming, including the Peabody-Award winning “Killing Eve,” starring Golden Globe Award winner Sandra Oh and Emmy Award winner Jodie Comer; “Doctor Who”; and natural history series “Seven Worlds,” “One Planet,” among others.

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Thomasma grew the network’s digital and social footprint and was also part of the leadership team responsible for launching micro-net “Wonderstruck,” a weekly 24-hour destination, as well as Wonderstruck.TV, a free digital companion site featuring short-form nature content. Thomasma, who has been with AMC Networks since 2013, reports to Miguel Penella, AMC Networks’ president of SVOD, and former CEO of home entertainment distributor RLJ Entertainment.

Matt Graham, GM of Acorn TV since 2014, adds oversight responsibility for the Sundance Now streaming service as its GM. Graham now oversees all day-to-day operations and execution of both streaming services. He also continues to report to Penella.

Blake Callaway, who has been executive director of the IFC and SundanceTV television networks since 2011, adds oversight of BBC America as GM of all three networks, working closely with partner BBC Studios. In his new role, Callaway is charged with defining each brands’ direction, maintaining overall business performance, and identifying opportunities to support digital growth across the portfolio. He continues to report to Ed Carroll, chief operating officer of AMC Networks.

“Courtney, Matt and Blake are accomplished leaders who have all made meaningful contributions to the success of our company, particularly through their dynamic oversight of many of our most important brands and businesses,” Carroll said in a statement “We are pleased to recognize their contributions with these expanded roles, as we continue to reorient our company around our targeted streaming services and delivering our high-quality original content to viewers on an expanding array of platforms.”

 

AMC Networks’ SVOD Services Top 6 Million Subs; Fiscal Loss Increases

AMC Networks’ foray into subscription streaming continues to grow, as do expenses. The media company behind “The Walking Dead” and owner of home entertainment distributor RLJ Entertainment, Feb. 26 disclosed that its SVOD businesses topped 6 million combined subscribers through the fourth quarter and fiscal year ended Dec. 31, 2020. That represents a growth of 157% from 3.8 million subs at the end of 2019.

AMC’s SVOD businesses include AMC+, Acorn TV, Shudder, Sundance Now, Acorn TV and ALLBLK (formerly Urban Movie Channel) — the latter two acquired following AMC’s $65 million purchase of RLJ Entertainment in 2018. In the quarter, AMC launched the AMC+ bundled streaming offering with Comcast, Dish Network and Sling TV and AT&T’s DirecTV platforms, as well as on Amazon Prime Video Channels, Apple TV Channels and Roku’s distribution platforms.

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“Streaming is now the most significant growth area of our company,” CEO Josh Sapan said in a statement.

Meanwhile, AMC’s “International and Other” segment, which includes RLJ Entertainment, saw Q4 revenue increase 7.5% to $216 million, from $201 million in the previous-year period. Operating loss narrowed to $77 million from $118 million.

For the fiscal year, revenue increased 1.7% to $747 million, from $734.5 million. The operating loss increased 31.9% to $224 million, from a loss of $169.8 million.