Carroll Promoted to President of Kino Lorber Media Group

Kino Lorber chief strategy officer Ed Carroll has been promoted to president of the Kino Lorber Media Group (KLMG). He reports directly to Richard Lorber, who remains chairman and CEO.

Carroll joined Kino Lorber a year ago from AMC+ and has played a key role in its expansion into digital, including the acquisition of MHz Choice SVOD and forming a joint venture that includes the Topic streaming service. In November, the company launched its new SVOD service, Kino Film Collection, on Amazon’s Prime Video Channels. 

Two of Kino Lorber’s  2023 releases were recently shortlisted for Academy Awards — Kaouther Ben Hania’s Four Daughters in both the Best International Feature and Best Documentary Feature categories, and Nancy Buirski’s Desperate Souls, Dark City and the Legend of Midnight Cowboy in the Best Documentary Feature category. The company’s recent theatrical acquisitions include Venice award-winner Green Border from Polish auteur Agnieszka Holland and the documentary Remembering Gene Wilder.

“Ed’s top-shelf skills and experience profoundly deepen our executive bench, positioning us for overall profitable growth across theatrical, home entertainment, and our new digital paths,” Lorber said. “He’s a terrific leader who inspires our talented team to thrive, and I couldn’t hope for a better Kino brand champion to work with me as a partner in arms as we move our business forward. ”

Carroll enjoyed a three-decade career at AMC Networks, where he oversaw the development of such successful series as “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad” and “The Walking Dead.” He held various leadership roles including president at Bravo and COO of AMC Networks, where he was in charge of all programming, marketing, ad sales and international distribution. Carroll helmed AMC Networks’ streaming channels including Acorn, Sundance Now, IFC Unlimited and Shudder, and presided over the launch of AMC+. He was also instrumental in AMC’s acquisition of RLJ/Acorn and its equity stake in BBC America.

Reporting to Carroll will be chief operating officer Martha Benyam, who will oversee the MHz Choice and Topic SVODs and the home entertainment group; chief revenue officer Lisa Schwartz, a former president of IFC Films, who will oversee content sales and platform distribution as well as Kino Lorber’s film division; and chief financial officer Judy Silverman, who was previously SVP of Finance at First Look Media and SVP of Finance and Strategic Planning at IFC Films.

Frederick Thomas, founder and president of MHz Networks, will transition to the role of senior advisor to the company. MHz’s national program service Worldview was carried by multiple public television stations across the United States. Thomas created MHz Choice in 2015, launching the nation’s first streaming service dedicated to international series. MHz Now was launched as a FAST channel on TV Plus in 2020. He sold MHz Networks to Kino Lorber in September 2022, and retains a seat on Kino Lorber’s board of directors.

With a library of more than 4,000 titles, Kino Lorber has been a leader in independent art-house distribution for over 45 years, releasing 35 films per year theatrically and garnering seven Academy Award nominations in nine years. 

 

‘Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé’ Looks to Emulate Taylor Swift’s Box Office Run

AMC Theaters has partnered with singing diva Beyoncé to exclusively distribute her concert film Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé and is aiming to replicate the success it had as exclusive distributor of Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour concert film, which has generated almost $250 million at the global box office since its Oct. 13 debut.

Working against Renaissance is the fact that Beyoncé is not currently on tour, which helped drive Swift ticket sales, as well as the lower price compared to the concert ticket cost.

Regardless, Renaissance is projected to sell $18 million to $25 million in tickets through Dec. 3, according to new data from Box Office Pro. Swift’s film, in contrast, pulled in a record $92.8 million opening weekend haul.

That should be enough to hold off Lionsgate’s former box office polesitter: The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, which is projected to sell another $13 million in tickets in its third release weekend. The studio is also bowing John Woo’s holiday-themed action thriller Silent Night, co-starring Joel Kinnaman, which took in an estimated $250,000 from Thursday night preview shows. The movie is expected to generate more than $3 million across the weekend.

Sony Pictures/Apple Studios’ Ridley Scott historical biopic Napoleon, co-starring Oscar winner Joaquin Phoenix and Vanessa Kirby, is expected to round out the theatrical podium with another $10 million in ticket sales in its second weekend of release.

Toho International’s sci-fi actioner Godzilla Minus One is projected to sell $8 million in tickets in its debut — enough to best Universal Pictures’ Trolls Band Together (a projected $7 million), but not enough to finish ahead of Disney’s animated family film Wish with $8.6 million in projected ticket sales.

AMC Networks’ Subscription Streaming Business Ups Q3 Subs 4% to 11.1 Million

AMC Networks Nov. 3 reported a 4% increase in third quarter (ended Sept. 30) subscription streaming video subscribers, ending the period with 11.1 million subs compared with 10.7 million subs in the previous-year period. The streaming business added 100,000 subs from the second quarter, ended June 30.

AMC SVOD platforms include British-themed content service Acorn TV, AMC+, Shudder, Sundance Now, WE tv, and ALLBLK. The latter (formerly the Urban Movie Channel) and Acorn TV were acquired in the 2016 asset purchase of RLJ Entertainment.

Streaming revenue increased 9% to $142 million from $130.3 million, primarily driven by year-over-year streaming subscriber growth, and management’s continued focus on higher-value subscribers.

In the quarter, AMC+ launched an ad-supported version, bringing ads to the company’s entire distribution ecosystem, while enhancing future bundling opportunities, according to the company.

The company inked a pact with Warner Bros. Discovery to add seven of AMC Networks’ series to the Max platform as a limited promotional pop-up at no additional cost to Max subscribers. The increased exposure drove viewership increases on AMC+ across branded franchises, including “Fear the Walking Dead,” “Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire” and “Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches,” among others, according to the company.

Other streaming highlights included premiering “The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon,” the most-viewed series premiere on AMC+. WE tv launched new series “Toya & Reginae,” which gained viewers week to week and continues to perform well across sister-streamer ALLBLK, according to the company. And series the “Harry Wild,” starring Jane Seymour, recently returned for a second season on Acorn TV.

Separately, after commencing a restructuring plan last November designed to cut costs due to the ongoing impact of “cord cutting” and the related broader economic outlook, AMC in Q3 substantially completed the plan and exited a portion of its office space in its corporate headquarters in New York and office space in Silver Spring, Md., and Woodland Hills, Calif.

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In connection with exiting a portion of the New York office, the company recorded impairment charges of $11.6 million, consisting of $9.1 million for operating lease right-of use assets and $2.5 million for leasehold improvements.

“During this period of experimentation and change in our industry, we continue to execute on our plan and effectively manage the business with a focus on high-quality programming, strong partnerships and profitability,” CEO Kristin Dolan said in a statement.

AMC Networks Licenses North American Linear, Streaming Rights to 10-Episode ‘Nautilus’

AMC Networks announced it has licensed the U.S. and Canadian linear and streaming rights to “Nautilus,” a 10-episode live-action series inspired by Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, from Disney Entertainment.

The series will air on AMC and AMC+ as a special television event in 2024. “Nautilus” tells the origin story of Captain Nemo: an Indian Prince robbed of his birthright and family, a prisoner of the East India Mercantile Company and a man bent on revenge against the forces that have taken everything from him. 

The series stars Shazad Latif, Georgia Flood, Thierry Fremont and Céline Menville, with guest appearances from Richard E. Grant, Anna Torv and Noah Taylor. Developed and produced by Moonriver TV’s Xavier Marchand and Seven Stories’ Anand Tucker, the series is written and executive produced by James Dormer and also executive produced by Johanna Devereaux, Chris Loveall, Colleen Woodcock and Daisy Gilbert. Cameron Welsh serves as producer and Michael Matthews is the lead director.

“‘Nautilus’ is a big, sweeping drama that is sure to appeal to fans of our Anne Rice Immortal Universe and other series like ‘Orphan Black: Echoes,'” Ben Davis, EVP of original programming for AMC Networks and AMC Studios, said in a statement. “We are looking forward to bringing it to AMC+ and AMC as a special television event next year.”

‘The Walking Dead’ Spin-Off Series ‘Daryl Dixon’ Becomes Most-Viewed Premiere, Season in AMC+ Streaming History

AMC Networks reports that the new episodic series “The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon,” featuring “Walking Dead” alum Norman Reedus in the title role, has moved ahead of previous spin-off “The Walking Dead: Dead City,” as the most-viewed premiere of all time on the AMC+ subscription streaming VOD service, and is on pace to be the most-viewed season of any show in the history of AMC+.

The fourth episode of season one delivered season high ratings on AMC in total viewers and both key demos, capping three successive weeks of viewership growth.

In linear viewership, the fourth episode delivered 1.1 million viewers on AMC in Nielsen live+3 ratings and 392,000 adults 25-54. For adults 25-54, Daryl is a top 15 cable drama for 2023 to date in adults 25-54, joining other AMC series “The Walking Dead: Dead City,” “Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches,” “Fear the Walking Dead” and “Dark Winds” in that Top 15 ranking.

“Thanks to Norman Reedus for bringing his ‘bad decisions’ to France, to David Zabel, Scott M. Gimple, Clémence Poésy and the rest of the outstanding cast and to the most passionate and committed fans in entertainment,” Dan McDermott, president of entertainment and AMC Studios for AMC Networks, said in a statement.

“The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon” concludes on Oct. 15. The next series in the expanding “Walking Dead” Universe is “The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live,” starring original cast member Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira, premiering next year on AMC and AMC+.

AMC will bring a special advance screening of the Daryl Dixon season finale to New York Comic Con on Oct. 12, where Reedus, Zabel, Gimple and Nicotero will be in attendance for a panel discussion about the series’ first and upcoming second seasons.

In “Daryl Dixon,” Daryl (Reedus) washes ashore in France and struggles to piece together how he got there and why. The series tracks his journey across a broken but resilient France as he hopes to find a way back home. As he makes the journey, though, the connections he forms along the way complicate his ultimate plan.

In addition to Reedus, the series stars Poésy, Adam Nagaitis, Anne Charrier, Eriq Ebouaney, Laika Blanc Francard, Romain Levi and Louis Puech Scigliuzzi, and is executive produced by Gimple, showrunner Zabel, Reedus, Greg Nicotero, Angela Kang, Brian Bockrath, Jason Richman and Daniel Percival. 

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AMC Networks Launches Ad-Supported Version of Its AMC+ Streaming Service

AMC Networks has begun the rollout of an ad-supported version of its branded AMC+ streaming service, with initial availability on its direct-to-consumer platform and apps, expanding to third-party platforms and channels providers in the coming weeks.

Priced at $4.99 per month, the ad-supported version includes a light ad load of less than five minutes per hour and all of the same series and film titles that are offered on the ad-free version. Ad-free plans will remain available at the current pricing of $8.99 per month. Ad-free viewers also have the option to save more than 20% over standard monthly rates by purchasing an annual subscription for $83.88.

“This ad-supported version of AMC+ gives consumers more flexibility while bringing ads to the only piece of our distribution ecosystem that wasn’t already ad-supported,” Kim Kelleher, chief commercial officer of AMC Networks, said in a statement.

Kelleher said combining the media company’s linear networks, growing its presence on CTV and FAST platforms, enables advertisers the ability to better connect with consumers.

“We are also able to offer marketers new and innovative ways to reach consumers, like interactive and shoppable ads, more flexibility in product integrations, whole genre takeovers and other tech-enabled enhancements that weren’t possible before,” the executive said in a statement.

Both AMC+ subscription tiers will include AMC’s premium original series and franchises. As part of the AMC+ bundle, ad-supported subscribers will also have full access to streaming services Shudder, Sundance Now and IFC Films Unlimited as well as the AMC, BBC America, IFC and Sundance TV linear networks.

WBD CEO: Max Looking to Bundle Sports, Third-Party Content, Including AMC Networks Shows

Warner Bros. Discovery’s Max streaming platform is looking to expand its content offering beyond Warner Bros. Pictures’ movies and TV shows, HBO and Discovery reality programming.

The platform is incorporating the rebooted CNN Max live news offering as well as AMC Networks digital programming. Up next is sports content, including live games, according to CEO David Zaslav.

Speaking at this week’s Goldman Sachs Communacopia & Technology Conference Conference in San Francisco, Zaslav said he believes the future of streaming video is bundling similar and competing platforms to activate a quicker consumer transition to streaming by creating more value.

Two weeks ago, AMC Networks and Warner Bros. Discovery partnered to put all of AMC’s original content such as “Fear the Walking Dead,” “Dark Winds” and “Interview with the Vampire,” among other shows, on Max for the next 60 days.

“Let’s see whether that helps grow AMC’s direct to consumer product,” Zaslav said.

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WBD has linear and digital rights to college basketball’s national championship “March Madness” tournament and the NHL well into the 2030s. The company has MLB rights until 2028 and NBA rights through 2025.

“The ability to recapture audience on digital with no incremental course of sports rights is quite attractive,” Zaslav said. “We own our content in a way that we think we can make money. It’s not going to make sense to do a deal for anything and jeopardize the economic trend we have at this company in order to own another piece of IP.”

AMC Networks Ups Q2 SVOD Subscribers to 11 Million

AMC Networks, with subscription streaming video assets that include Acorn TV, AMC+, Shudder, Sundance Now and ALLBLK, Aug. 4 reported a 6% gain in SVOD subscribers to 11 million in the second quarter ended June 30, compared with 10.3 million subs in the prior-year period.

ALLBLK (formerly Urban Movie Channel) and Acorn TV were acquired in the 2016 acquisition of RLJ Entertainment.

AMC actually had 11.3 million subs at the end of the first quarter ended March 31, but after updating its subscriber definition to no longer include estimated subscriber conversions, the company downsized its overall subscriber base by 300,000.

Streaming revenue increased 13% to $137 million from $121.2 million, primarily driven by year-over-year streaming subscriber growth and 2022 price increases.

During Q2, AMC+ began exclusively streaming the first seven seasons of “Fear the Walking Dead” in July. The SVOD platform also premiered “The Walking Dead: Dead City,” the top-performing season premiere in the history of AMC+ in terms of viewership across all new and returning series.

AMC+ debuted on Charter, making the streaming service available to Spectrum TV customers through the cabler’s set-top box.

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Newly appointed CEO Kristin Dolan said AMC would continue to focus on producing “high-quality” content, which appears to include repeated trips to the “Walking Dead” IP portfolio.

AMC on Sept. 10 will premiere of “The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon,” which is set in France. It has also completed production of “The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live,” which is focused on the Rick and Michonne characters and is slated to premiere in 2024.

“It’s clear we have the programming, the platforms and the partners necessary to continue to operate a very profitable business that delivers long-term shareholder value,” Dolan said in a statement.

Vudu Starts Serving as New Platform for AMC Theatres On Demand Consumers

Vudu, Fandango’s transactional VOD service, June 1 announced that it now serves as the official new streaming platform for consumers of AMC Theatres On Demand.  

Starting June 1, AMC Theatres On Demand users can transfer their account to Vudu, where they can continue to rent and purchase entertainment and watch their catalog of previously acquired movies.

As a new Vudu customer, every AMC Theatres on Demand consumer has access to more than 200,000 new-release and catalog movies and TV shows to rent or buy, including the largest collection of 4K UHD titles and thousands of titles to watch for free, noted the Vudu announcement.

To celebrate, many of the movies previously purchased through AMC Theatres On Demand will be upgraded to the highest-quality format available on Vudu, including 4K Ultra HD. Consumers with applicable titles in their libraries will automatically receive those upgrades for free. Additionally, AMC Theatres On Demand users who are new Vudu consumers will enjoy 15% off every purchase made on the service in their first month.

“AMC Theatres has been a valued exhibition partner of Fandango’s for more than two decades, and we’re thrilled to now offer our Vudu streaming service to AMC Theatres On Demand consumers,” Cameron Douglas, VP of home entertainment at Fandango, said in a statement. “As consumers’ appetite for top-notch entertainment continues to grow, as well as their desire to watch the best movies both on the big screen and at home, this incredible collaboration with AMC Theatres will ensure that fans get seamless access to the premium content they love and crave.”

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“As the first theatrical exhibitor in the United States to bring first-rate films through the life cycle from theaters to home, we at AMC take pride in having served our guests through a multitude of platforms during the pandemic,” Nikkole Denson-Randolph, SVP of content strategy and inclusive programming, said in a statement. “As we continue to evolve our business and remain focused on Making Movies Better by enhancing the theatrical experience, we’re even more excited to expand our relationship with a trusted partner, who will ensure a continued preeminent experience for those consumers who are streaming their post-theatrical movies at home.”

To migrate existing AMC content libraries to Vudu, AMC Theaters On Demand consumers can link their current Vudu account using the same email address or create a new Vudu account.

Eleventh and Final Season of ‘The Walking Dead’ Due on Blu-ray and DVD March 14

Season 11 of the Primetime Emmy-winning TV series “The Walking Dead” arrives on Blu-ray Disc and DVD March 14 from Lionsgate.

In this final season of “The Walking Dead,” Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Maggie (Melissa McBride) embark on a risky mission with Negan to root out the shadowy Reapers while Eugene and Ezekiel make contact with the sprawling Commonwealth. To secure aid for Alexandria — their goal — they must assimilate, a tough ask for people who’ve seen no end of deceit, betrayal and loss. Stunned by the Commonwealth’s resources, the group slowly adjusts to their new home, but they can’t ignore what lurks beneath its seemingly civilized surface. Soon, threats abound, loyalties are tested, and shocking fates await. 

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The series also stars Lauren Cohan, Christian Serratos, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Josh McDermitt and Seth Gilliam.

The Blu-ray includes access to a digital copy of the episodes.