1091 Pictures Acquires Doc ‘Mind Traveler’

1091 Pictures, a Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment company, has acquired worldwide rights to Greg Mallozzi’s documentary Mind Traveler.

The documentary, which will be coming to digital platforms in spring 2023, explores the idea that some of the premises of government experiments similar to those in Netflix’s “Stranger Things” are real.

The documentary focuses on parapsychologist Andrija Puharich. After learning about the CIA’s interest in psychic phenomena, Puharich creates a study to prove his theory that children can be the greatest psychics in the world. He seeks out like-minded kids from around the world, near-death and UFO experiencers and channelers. Quickly the teens prove their psychic potential traversing space and time. Their every move is studied at a secretive lab whose very walls amplify their natural psychic powers, turning them into superhuman spies. 

Mind Traveler features exclusive first-time interviews with the study participants and access to Puharich’s archive, which includes home movies, recordings of remote viewing sessions, personal photographs and hand-written journal entries. 

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“This is a story I’ve been researching and trying to bring to life for over a decade,” director Greg Mallozzi said in a statement. “I’ve always believed Puharich to be one of the most fascinating yet relatively unknown figures of the 20th century. I’m excited for the world to finally learn about him and his story. I could not be more thrilled that 1091 Pictures took the leap to join me on finishing this journey.” 

After the success of The Phenomenon, 1091 Pictures put a premium on UFO and supernatural documentaries, according to the studio. In May 2020, the company launched Unidentified, a linear streaming channel that features programming on paranormal and alien-related themes.

Screen Media Acquires Casper Van Dien’s Sci-Fi Action Series ‘Salvage Marines’

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment’s Screen Media subsidiary June 7 announced the acquisition of North American distribution rights to “Salvage Marines,” the science-fiction action series starring Casper Van Dien (Starship Troopers, Sleepy Hollow). The series will be released on the Crackle Plus streaming services as a Crackle and Popcornflix Original in July.

No word whether the series will also stream on Redbox Digital, which Chicken Soup for the Soul is acquiring.

The dystopian futuristic series follows Samuel (Van Dien), who works as a factory laborer on planet Baen 6. When he learns his wife is pregnant, he does the only thing he can to ensure his child will avoid the same societal debt he has — enlist in the planet’s military ranks as a salvage marine. Armand Assante (Judge Dredd, American Gangster) and Peter Shinkoda (The Predator, Midway) also star.

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The series is directed by Shaun Paul Piccinino (Deadliest Warrior), co-written by Sean-Michael Argo and Rafael Jordan, and produced by Philippe Martinez for MSR Media, Jake Seal and Jamie R Thompson for Orwo Studios, and Terry Bird from Black Hangar Studios with MSR Media Karinne Behr and Lee Beasley acting as executive producers. Production financing for the series was provided by Sherborne Media, with Alastair Burlingham, Gary Raskin, Charlie Dombek and Elizabeth Primm serving as executive producers.

Crackle Plus’ recent releases include the exclusive scripted series “Les Norton,” which stars Alexander Bertram and Rebel Wilson, “Tia Mowery’s Comfort Kitchen,” the suspense thriller Blast and Inside the Black Box, and the award-winning BBC series “Sherlock,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. They also recently announced season three of the award-winning Ashton Kutcher-produced series “Going From Broke.”

AVOD Service Crackle Plus Announces June Lineup

Crackle Plus, a Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment company and operator of advertising-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) streaming services, announced content planned for June.

New Crackle AVOD Exclusives in June include:

  • “A Life In 10 Pictures #1 — Freddy Mercury,” in which Freddie Mercury, lead singer of Queen, one of the most iconic bands in rock and roll history, reveals his life in ten pictures, from iconic shots to private snaps;
  • “In the Vault — Season One,” in which freshman Liv Steele (Claudia Lee) arrives at Woodlawn College excited for a fresh start, but will her past catch up with her?; and
  • “Hollywood Bulldogs: The Rise and Falls of the Great British Stuntman,” which tells the story of the small community of British stunt performers who went on to dominate Hollywood in the 1970s and 1980s.

 

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In addition to access to four seasons of “Sherlock,” Crackle Plus is offering new series from the BBC library every month. This month’s lineup includes:

  • “Ivanhoe,” a miniseries in which young Saxon knight returns to England from fighting in the Crusades to find he had been disinherited by his father, his childhood sweetheart has been betrothed to another man and the country is in the midst of an uprising;
  • “Jane Eyre,” a TV series about a young governess who falls in love with her brooding and complex master; and
  • Byron, a feature film about the famous poet starring Jonny Lee Miller.

 

New channels coming to Crackle in June include:

  • Celebrating Pride, including Wedding Wars (John Stamos, Eric Dane), Breakfast on Pluto (Cillian Murphy, Liam Neeson), the Crackle original reality series “Men of West Hollywood” (Justin Jedlica, Brennen Taylor) and Two Mothers for Zachary (Valerie Bertinelli, Vanessa Redgrave);
  • Prehistoric Beasts, featuring “Dinotopia” (Katie Carr, Wentworth Miller), The Lost World (Bob Hoskins, Peter Falk), Behemoth (Ed Quinn, Pascale Hutton) and Godzilla vs Destoroyah (Megumi Odaka, Yōko Ishino);
  • Ways of the West, featuring Western titles like “Bonanza” (Michael Landon, Dan Blocker), The Shadow Riders (Sam Elliott, Tom Selleck), “The Outcasts” (Otis Young, Don Murray) and The Man from Laramie (James Stewart, Cathy O’Donnell);
  • Crimes and Capers, featuring Law Abiding Citizen (Gerard Butler, Jamie Foxx), Killing Them Softly (Brad Pitt, James Gandolfini), American Animals (Evan Peters, Barry Keoghan) and Midnight Express (Brad Davis, John Hurt); and
  • The Sixties, featuring “The Flying Nun” (Sally Field, Alejandro Rey), To Sir, with Love (Sidney Poitier, Lulu), Under the Yum-Yum Tree (Jack Lemmon, Carol Lynley) and Bye Bye Birdie (Dick Van Dyke, Ann-Margret).

 

New to Crackle Spotlight in June are Harry Styles: Live in Manchester, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, Peggy Sue Got Married, Edge of Tomorrow, Scream 4, the Canadian sketch comedy series “The Kids in the Hall,” the TV series “Hardcastle and McCormick,” Hannibal Rising, Judy (Renee Zellweger), Hunt for the Wilderpeople, The Man from Laramie and Behind the Moment.

The Crackle Plus streaming services are currently distributed through 70 touch points in the United States on platforms including Amazon FireTV, RokuTV, Apple TV, Smart TVs (Samsung, LG, Vizio), gaming consoles (PS4 and Xbox One), Plex, iOS and Android mobile devices and on desktops at Crackle.com, with previously announced plans to expand to over 90 touch points.

Crackle Plus Adds Five FAST Channels to Byron Allen’s Media Company

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment’s ad-supported video platform Crackle Plus May 24 announced plans to launch five FAST channels on Local Now, media entrepreneur Byron Allen’s free streaming platform for local news and entertainment. Crackle Plus FAST channels include Crackle, Crackle Classics, Popcornflix and Truli, a faith and family streaming service.

Original and exclusive programming from Crackle include the series “Taboo” and the feature film The Mercy; Crackle Classics’ film and TV series such as Laurel and Hardy and Little Rascals libraries; Popcornflix’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and the two-part limited series Jules Verne’s Mysterious Island; a collection of female-led shows, including “Smart Home Nation” and “Mothers and Daughters”; and the family-friendly Bible series “The Chosen.”

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“Expanding our distribution with Local Now … reflects our commitment to providing consumers with high quality, entertaining content for free with the support of advertisers who can now reach a brand-new audience,” Philippe Guelton, president of Crackle Plus, said in a statement.

The Crackle Plus streaming services are currently distributed through 70 touchpoints in the U.S. on platforms, including Amazon FireTV, RokuTV, Apple TV, Smart TVs (Samsung, LG, Vizio), gaming consoles (PS4 and Xbox One), Plex, iOS and Android mobile devices and on desktops at Crackle.com. Crackle is also available in about 500,000 hotel rooms in the Marriott Bonvoy chain.

Crackle Plus’ recent releases include the exclusive scripted series “Les Norton,” which stars Alexander Bertram and Rebel Wilson, Tia Mowery’s “Comfort Kitchen,” suspense thriller “Blast,” “Inside the Black Box,” hosted by Joe Morton and the BBC series “Sherlock,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Crackle also recently announced season three of Ashton Kutcher’s award-winning series “Going From Broke.”

Local Now offers more than 450 free streaming channels, including a Local Now channel in every DMA in the country, as well as more than 14,000 movies, TV shows, and documentaries. The Local Now app is available on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Xfinity, Vizio, Samsung, Android and iOS devices.

Redbox CEO Eyes Crackle Plus as AVOD Role Model

On the heels of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment’s acquisition of Redbox Entertainment, Redbox CEO Galen Smith, in a memo to employees, said the transaction would in part help the legacy DVD rental kiosk vendor transition to ad-supported streaming video distribution.

Chicken Soup, which owns and operates Crackle Plus, one of the original AVOD streaming platforms, is set to acquire Redbox in an all-stock transaction valued at $375 million.

Galen said Crackle Plus would “perfectly” complement Redbox’s legacy business as well as newer digital offerings. Launched originally in Canada in 2004 as Grouper, Sony Pictures Television acquired the platform in 2006 and renamed it Crackle. Sony sold the service to Chicken Soup in 2019. Other Crackle Plus streaming platforms include AVOD Popcornflix, Truli (faith-based content), and SVOD Pivotshare.

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“Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment also acquires and distributes original video content, much like we have started to do through Redbox Entertainment,” Smith wrote in the memo.

The executive characterized AVOD as a “massive market opportunity” in AVOD, with Chicken Soup offering substantial capabilities, including technology and existing advertising relationships, to Redbox.

“Crackle Plus has one of the top AVOD network groups, with more than 40 million monthly active users,” Smith wrote. “Together with Redbox’s 40-million-plus loyalty members, our content library and free ad-supported streaming television (FAST), we’ll be able to offer consumers unparalleled choices for a phenomenal value.”

In the memo, Galen he recognized that many Redbox employees would have questions about the company’s future and their jobs.

“I want to be transparent — we don’t have all the answers today, but we’ll do our best to provide you with what we know,” Smith wrote. “A lot of questions about how the two companies will be integrated are still being made and will be decided over the coming months once the deal has been completed, which is expected to be in the second half of 2022.”

Smith said he plans to address all issues of the corporate merger in a future company Town Hall.

“I encourage you all to join, and we’ll do our best to answer your questions. We’ll also be sharing a list of Frequently Asked Questions to address some we expect you may have. I want to sincerely thank you for all you have done for Redbox. It hasn’t always been easy, but this team is resilient, and we couldn’t have reached this outcome without you.”

Analyst: New Redbox Owner Likely to Combine Digital Properties Under Redbox Banner

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment’s acquisition of Redbox Entertainment finds an established ad-supported streaming service, Crackle Plus, joining forces with Redbox TV, the venerable DVD kiosk rental brand’s upstart streaming video app.

Chicken Soup in 2019 acquired majority ownership in the erstwhile Sony Crackle streaming service from Sony Pictures Television. The company then bought out Sony’s remaining stake in 2020. As of January 2022, Crackle had about 40 million monthly active users.

Last July, Redbox TV reportedly had about 1 million monthly users since its 2020 launch, while the app has been downloaded more than 43 million times.

With Chicken Soup assuming the combined companies’ Wall Street name and ticker presence, Michael Pachter, media analyst with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, believes the new owner will combine the companies’ digital properties under the Redbox banner, not Crackle.

Pachter speculates Redbox CEO Galen Smith will continue to run the company’s legacy kiosk business, which cites about 38,000 retail locations nationwide and 40 million loyalty customers.

“They probably want Galen to run the physical business, and they can use the [Redbox] digital channels to augment their other offerings,” Pachter said in an email. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they merge Crackle into Redbox and keep the Redbox name, but no idea right now what they are doing.”

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Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment to Acquire Redbox

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, owner/operator of the ad-supported Crackle+ streaming platform, is set to acquire Redbox Entertainment, operator of more than 38,000 DVD rental kiosks and branded digital entertainment properties, in an all-stock transaction valued at $375 million.

The deal continues a harried fiscal existence for Redbox since going public last October following a merger with a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC. Redbox earlier this year disclosed it lost $140 million in 2021, its businesses undermined by the pandemic and supply issues. Last month, it laid off 10% of its workforce, or about 150 employees.

The combination of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment and Redbox is intended to create an integrated direct-to-consumer media platform. The combined company will have increased scale across content production and distribution, with a large content library, extensive digital capabilities in AVOD, TVOD, PVOD and FAST, and access to millions of targeted customers, including nearly 40 million Redbox Perks members.

Together, the combined companies will have some of the industry’s top AVOD platforms, one of the fastest growing segments of the overall entertainment industry. According to a recent study by IAB, ad spending on connected TV platforms increased 57% from 2020 to 2021 and is expected to increase another 39% this year.

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“Today marks a transformative moment for Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment and an inflection point for the ad-supported streaming industry,” William J. Rouhana Jr., chairman and CEO of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, said in a statement. “Our acquisition of Redbox will accelerate the scaling of our business as it combines complementary teams and services to create the streaming industry’s premier independent AVOD.”

“By joining forces, we will accelerate Redbox’s transition from a physical to high growth digital media company and be the only entertainment provider truly focused on value for consumers,” added Galen Smith, CEO of Redbox. “This deal provides Redbox stockholders with the opportunity to participate in the significant near- and long-term upside potential of a diversified and growing company with greater scale and resources.”

The combination is expected to be accretive to pre-tax earnings in 2023, with numerous opportunities to cross-sell each company’s customer base across digital properties, distribute Screen Media titles via Redbox kiosks and leverage tech and know-how to fully capitalize on Redbox’s AVOD opportunity. The company expects to deliver annual-run rate cost synergies in excess of $40 million in 2023. Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment expects that the combined company will exit 2022 with a run-rate exceeding $500 million of revenue and $100 million to $150 million of Adjusted EBITDA.

Under the terms of the agreement, which has been approved by the Boards of Directors of both companies, Redbox stockholders will receive a fixed exchange ratio of 0.087 of a share of class A common stock of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment per Redbox share. Following the close of the transaction, Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment stockholders will own approximately 76.5% of the combined company, and Redbox stockholders will own approximately 23.5% of the combined company, on a fully diluted basis.

Redbox stockholders holding approximately 86% of the Redbox voting power have entered into a voting agreement to approve the transaction. Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment stockholders holding approximately 91% of the voting power of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment have delivered a written consent approving the transaction.

The transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2022, subject to the receipt of required regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions. Upon closing, the combined entity will retain the name Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment and will continue to trade under the ticker symbol “CSSE” on the Nasdaq stock exchange.

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment Inks Content Licensing Deal With BBC Studios

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, parent of ad-supported streaming platforms Crackle+ and Popcornflix, March 24 announced a licensing deal with BBC Studios covering more than 2,500 hours of content.

Crackle Plus, also a Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment company, is one of the largest operators of streaming advertising-supported video-on-demand networks. This announcement comes on the heels of another deal between the two companies that saw the exclusive rights to the series “Sherlock” go to Crackle Plus.

More than 300 hours of content will be available to viewers for free on various Crackle Plus streaming services beginning in April. This includes mystery series “Ripper Street,” starring Matthew MacFadyen (“Succession”), several seasons of which will be streaming only on Crackle Plus. In addition, A Life in Ten Pictures will have its exclusive U.S. premiere in June on Crackle Plus.
 
 
The deal will also include all seasons of BAFTA award-winning series “Happy Valley,” starring BAFTA award-winning actress Sarah Lancashire and SAG award-winning actress Siobhan Finneran; the crime mini-series “From Darkness,” starring BAFTA award-winning actress Anne-Marie Duff and Johnny Harris; and the first five seasons of the long running crime series “Silent Witness,” originally starring Amanda Burton.
 
In addition, the 2014-16 action/drama series “The Musketeers,” and drama series “The Coroner,” created by Sally Abbott, who wrote on “EastEnders,” will be available to audiences as part of the agreement.

 

“The BBC has been producing highly sought-after content for years and we expect this content to perform exceptionally well on our streaming services,” William J. Rouhana, CEO of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, said in a statement. “The long-term nature of this agreement enables us to plan ahead to maximize the value of the content to our viewers as well as our advertisers, the BBC, and us.”

“With the Benedict Cumberbatch series ‘Sherlock,’ the BBC’s extensive catalog of quality series and movies, and brand-new titles that have yet to be released, this agreement provides Chicken Soup for the Soul with a wide array of unique and high-quality content,” said David Fannon, president of Screen Media.

Screen Media is the exclusive supplier of original content to Crackle+ streaming services. Recent titles from Screen Media that have premiered on Crackle include the Crackle Originals “Vince Carter: Legacy,” “Playing With Power” and “Insomnia,” as well as the exclusives “The Mercy,” starring Colin Firth and Rachel Weisz, Tom Hardy-led Taboo, international thriller series “The Platform,” and disaster film Skyfire, starring Jason Isaacs.

Chicken Soup for the Soul to Acquire 1091 Pictures

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, an operator of streaming AVOD networks, March 2 announced the signing of a definitive agreement to acquire the assets of 1091 Media, comprising its distribution business known as 1091 Pictures, for $15.5 million.

The purchase price is comprised of $8 million in cash, $2 million in the form of newly issued shares of the company’s Series A perpetual preferred stock valued at $25 per share, and 375,000 shares of Class A common stock valued at $14.80 per share.

With the acquisition, the company will dramatically expand its independent film and television series distribution business by integrating 1091 Pictures with its own Screen Media, according to a press release. Screen Media is the main supplier of content to the company’s AVOD networks and the deal approximately doubles the size of the company’s content catalog by adding titles that were previously unavailable to the Crackle Plus Networks.

1091 Pictures’ library of approximately 4,000 movies and TV series includes titles such as The Ghost of Peter Sellers; Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice; Academy Award Winner Taika Waititi’s What We Do In The Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople; Spirit Awards-winner Christine; the comedy The Overnight, starring Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling and Jason Schwartzman; sports stories such as A Kid From Coney Island, executive produced by Kevin Durant and featuring Stephon Marbury; Red Bull’s The Dawn Wall and Art of Flight; The Last Blockbuster; Pharma Bro; documentaries such as Close Encounters of The Fifth Kind and The Phenomenon, which reveal the latest intelligence on UFOs; and 1091 Pictures’ pipeline of more than 300 titles per year.

The acquisition provides immediate benefits to the company’s Crackle Plus Networks by adding established FAST and AVOD channels in specific verticals with approximately 1 billion yearly ad impressions to their channel portfolio, according to the release.   
 
“The 1091 Pictures team transformed their large content library into a scalable, modern distribution platform with a compelling slate of channels that are a pragmatic addition to our existing assets,” David Fannon, president of Screen Media Ventures, said in a statement. “There are great synergies between our two companies. Over time, joining 1091’s acquisition and distribution team with Screen Media’s team, leveraging the impressive infrastructure 1091 built for digital fulfillment, and folding the 1091-owned channel business into the Crackle Plus network, will make this a mutually beneficial and smooth transition.” 

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“This is the next evolution in our content library strategy,” Elana Sofko, chief strategy officer for Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, said in a statement. “The genre content with loyal fan bases from 1091 Pictures includes music, over a dozen different sports, paranormal, and much more, enabling us to continue to grow both our streaming services and our FAST channels. We will also continue growing the business that the 1091 Pictures team started and augment it with additional opportunities from the combined catalog.”    
 
“We are thrilled to be joining forces with the Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment and Screen Media team,” Eric Min, GM and head of content for 1091 Pictures, said in a statement. “We are bullish that the scale and reach of the combined teams starts us on an exciting journey to be able to further capitalize on this strong amalgamation of assets.”
 
The company expects to recognize in excess of $10 million of revenue with approximately $3 million of incremental EBITDA in the next 12 months as a result of the transaction, according to the press release.
 
The acquisition is subject to satisfaction of certain closing conditions and is expected to close in early to mid-March 2022.

AVOD Distributor ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ Ups Q3 Revenue, Loss

Chicken Soup for the Soul, owner operator of ad-supported VOD platforms Crackle, Crackle Plus and Popcornflix, among others, reported a 50% increase in revenue for the third-quarter (ended Sept. 30) to $29.1 million, compared with revenue of $19.4 million during the previous-year period. The tally also marked a 31.6% improvement over the second quarter.

Net loss from operations increased more than 28% to $16.7 million, compared with a loss of $13 million a year earlier.

In the quarter, the distributor announced the initial launch of a branded Chicken Soup for the Soul ad-supported streaming video platform in select international markets.

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“We are seeing momentum in our AVOD networks, highlighted by viewership growth at Crackle and strong growth at Popcornflix since our September relaunch,” CEO William Rouhana said in a statement.

Rouhana said the company continues to focus AVOD network distribution, in addition to expanding original, exclusive content and backend streaming tech assets.

“With the initial launch of our Chicken Soup for the Soul streaming service, as well overall ad impression growth at Crackle Plus, consolidation of our television production activities, Screen Media Ventures’ growing lineup of acquired films, and our recent international partnership and acquisition activity, we are poised to accelerate execution of our strategy into 2022,” Rouhana said.