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.

Horror Title ‘The Beach House’ Bows on VOD, Digital HD, DVD and Blu-ray Dec. 15

The horror film The Beach House will come out on VOD, digital HD, DVD and Blu-ray Dec. 15 from AMC’s RLJE Films and Shudder.

The directorial feature debut of Jeffrey A. Brown, who also wrote the screenplay, the film stars Liana Liberato (“Light as a Feather”), Noah Le Gros (A Score to Settle), Maryann Nagel and Jake Weber (Dawn of the Dead, “13 Reasons Why”).

In the film, hoping to reignite their relationship, college students Emily (Liberato) and Randall (Le Gros) arrive at their weekend getaway only to discover a peculiar older couple already staying there. They all agree to share the home but, after an indulgent night of partying, they’re awoken to a living nightmare of apocalyptic proportions. A mysterious airborne microbe has infected the water and it’s making its way to the house.

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AMC Networks Expects Upwards of 5.5 Million SVOD Subs by Year’s End

AMC Networks Nov. 2 said it expects 5 million to 5.5 million paid subscribers by the end of 2020 for its portfolio of streaming services, which include AMC+, Acorn TV, Shudder, Sundance Now, UMC and IFC Films Unlimited. Shudder, which features horror/thriller based content, just topped one million subs. The company also expanded distribution of AMC+ with launches on Amazon Prime and Apple TV platforms.

“AMC Networks is fast becoming the global leader in SVOD services for targeted audiences,” CEO Josh Sapan said in a statement.

Indeed, since acquiring Acorn TV and UMC as part of its $65 million acquisition of home entertainment distributor RLJ Entertainment in 2018, AMC has sought to market SVOD services focusing on specific niches of entertainment. Acorn targets fans of British-themed TV shows; UMC offers movies and series for African Americans, while IFC and Sundance target independent films and series.

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SVOD helped AMC’s “international and other” business segment increase third-quarter (ended Sept. 30) revenue 9% to $199 million, from $182.5 million in the previous-year period. Operating income increased $23 million to $11.2 million, from a loss of $11.5 million last year. Adjusted operating income increased $14 million to $28 million, from $13.5 million.

Overall, AMC saw total Q3 revenue decrease 9%, or $65 million, to $654 million compared with the previous-year period. The decline reflected a decrease of 17.3% at “national networks” operating segment, offset by the previously mentioned “international and other” revenue gain. Operating income topped $139 million, a decrease of 17.2%, or $29 million, versus the prior-year period. The decrease reflected a decrease of 28.8% at “national networks” and an increase of $23 million in operating income at “international and other.”

National networks includes AMC, WE tv, BBC America, IFC and SundanceTV; and AMC Studios, the company’s production business.

On Oct. 21, AMC announced the final results of the tender “Dutch Auction” offer and repurchased approximately 10.8 million shares of common stock for $251 million.

 

Sci-fi Thriller ‘2067’ Coming to Disc Nov. 17 From RLJE Films

The sci-fi thriller 2067 will come out on DVD and Blu-ray Nov. 17 from RLJE Films.

The film stars Kodi Smit-McPhee (X-Men: Apocalypse, Let Me In) and Ryan Kwanten (“True Blood,” “Sacred Lies”).

In the film, by the year 2067 Earth has been ravaged by climate change and humanity is forced to live on artificial oxygen. An illness caused by the synthetic O2 is killing the worlds’ population and the only hope for a cure comes in the form of a message from the future: “Send Ethan Whyte.” Ethan, an underground tunnel worker, is suddenly thrust into a terrifying new world full of unknown danger as he must fight to save the human race.

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Bonus features includes director commentary and a behind-the-scenes featurette, including an in-depth look at the story, cast, director, the look of the film, costumes and makeup, the time machine, editing and VFX, and music.

AMC Networks Launching Acorn TV in Portugal

Acorn TV, the AMC Networks-owned SVOD service catering to British-themed content, is set to launch in Portugal on Oct. 1 and will also be available on telecoms MEO and NOS. AMC Networks International Southern Europe (AMCNISE) will support Acorn TV in Portugal, providing affiliate sales, marketing, PR and versioning services.

Bowing at 2.99 euros monthly with Portuguese subtitles, Acorn TV has more than 1 million subscribers in North America, Australia, the United Kingdom and Latin America.

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“Acorn TV has become a household name in the U.S. thanks to the excellence of its programming content, including series from major networks, such as BBC, ITV, Channel 4, ABC Australia and RTE, as well as [original] series Acorn TV commissions and co-productions,” Acorn TV GM Matthew Graham said in a statement.

Acorn TV Portugal will include British drama “Doc Martin”; Irish legal drama “Striking Out”; detective drama “Jack Taylor,” starring Iain Glen (“Game of Thrones,” “Downton Abbey”) and based on Ken Bruen’s best-sellers; and “Agatha Christie’s Partners in Crime,” an adaptation of Agatha Christie, among others.

According to the Marktest Telecommunications Barometer, about 800,000 Portuguese signed up for streaming video services between February and April 2020, raising the number of SVOD subs in Portugal to 2 million.