1950s Classic ‘The Brain From Planet Arous’ Due on Blu-ray and DVD June 21

Cinedigm’s The Film Detective, the classic film restoration and streaming company, will release the 1950s sci-fi classic The Brain From Planet Arous (1957) on special-edition Blu-ray and DVD June 21. 

A great example of cut-rate, sci-fi from the 1950s, this independently produced feature stars ‘B’-movie favorite John Agar (The Mole People, Revenge of the Creature) and Joyce Meadows (The Christine Jorgensen Story, The Girl in Lovers Lane) and was directed by Nathan Juran, a master of the genre who helmed such classics as The Deadly Mantis (1957), Attack of the 50-Foot Woman (1958) and The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958).

In the film, when Gor, an evil brain from planet Arous, inhabits the body of scientist Steve March (Agar), his intention is nothing less than world domination. Lucky for Earth, another intergalactic brain, Val, offers to assist March’s wife Sally (Meadows) in stopping the madness.

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The special edition Blu-ray and DVD release features a 4K transfer, including two versions of the film, presented in its original 1.85 theatrically released format and in 1.33:1 full frame format. Included in the bonus features is exclusive commentary with The Brain from Planet Arous star Meadows.

“The Film Detective’s magnificent restoration of The Brain from Planet Arous reminds me of when I saw the movie on the big screen back in 1957,” said Meadows in a statement. “An amazing achievement, and I’m so pleased this picture is getting the respect it deserves.”

Other bonus features include a full-color booklet with an original essay by author/historian Tom Weaver; a full commentary track by historians Tom Weaver, David Schecter, Larry Blamire and Meadows; “The Man Before the Brain: Director Nathan Juran” and “The Man Behind the Brain: The World of Nathan Juran,” both original Ballyhoo Motion Pictures productions; and a new introduction by Meadows.

Cinedigm Bows Fandor Streaming Service on The Roku Channel

Cinedigm May 9 announced that indie movie streaming platform Fandor is now available to subscribe to through The Roku Channel. Fandor is replacing Fandor Spotlight, which was previously available as a premium subscription on The Roku Channel.

Existing Fandor Spotlight subscribers will receive access to the new Fandor service, which includes a new look and new exclusive premieres. The re-launch marks a major milestone for the revamped Fandor, as The Roku Channel reached U.S. households with an estimated 80 million people in Q4 2021.

Fandor boasts a library of more than 1,000 hours of films and series in dozens of genres, including comedy, drama, film noir, and science fiction to rare gems including creature-feature, Pre-Code, avant-garde and grindhouse.

Originally launched in 2011, Fandor has served as a pioneer in the elevation of independent film through its streaming platform as well as through written and video editorial pieces dedicated to the art of cinema. The streaming service is refreshed monthly with films and series, including the documentary Coming Clean, focusing on the growing opioid epidemic in the U.S.; the music doc The Sound of Scars, which follows the rise and fall of the trailblazing hard rock group Life of Agony; and the festival darling Moon Rock for Monday set to exclusively premiere on Fandor May 24.

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“With the channel’s new look and enhanced content selection, we aim to elevate the art of cinema and the voices within its community,” Philip Hopkins, president of Fandor, said in a statement. “The last few years have seen tremendous growth in independent film consumption, and we look forward to giving fellow movie lovers Fandor premieres each month.”

Cinedigm previously launched Screambox, The Dove Channel, CONtv and Docurama on The Roku Channel.

Exploitation Classic ‘Girl on a Chain Gang’ Due on Blu-ray and DVD April 19 From Film Detective and MVD

The exploitation classic Girl on a Chain Gang (1966) will be released on special-edition Blu-ray and DVD April 19 from Cinedigm’s The Film Detective, Something Weird Video and MVD Entertainment Group.

From famed shlock distributor-producer-director Jerry Gross, who made his directorial debut with Girl on a Chain Gang, the stirring feature about small-town hate stars William Watson, Julie Ange and Ron Charles. It follows three young people who are framed, arrested and tossed into jail by corrupt Southern police.

Gross — who produced everything from Blaxploitation films to features about teen pregnancy — exercised his social conscience in this drama about racist Southern cops. Made the year after three civil rights workers were murdered in Mississippi, Girl on a Chain Gang addresses a subject Gross must have believed worth exploiting into drive-in theater fare. True to his low-budget roots, the movie was filmed nowhere near the South, but in Long Island, N.Y.​

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Special features include full-length audio commentary with Movies are Magic author and “Classic Films for Kids” host Jennifer Churchill; a new, original essay from Something Weird Video’s Lisa Petrucci, in a full-color booklet insert; and “It’s All in the Title: Exploiting Jerry Gross,” a short history of the semi-legendary producer with author/film historian Chris Poggiali, from Daniel Griffith at Ballyhoo Motion Pictures.

Cinedigm: The Dove Channel Tops 663,000 Paid Subscribers

The Dove Channel, Cinedigm’s first foray into the subscription streaming VOD market, topped 663,000 paid subscribers through February. The platform, which bowed in 2015 along with the documentary themed Docurama, and the fandom lifestyle network CONtv, has seen subscriber growth of 1,133% since February 2021.

This growth has been driven in part by wholesale distribution on platforms, including Amazon Prime Channels, The Roku Channel, Comcast Xfinity, Dish Network and YouTube TV.

In addition, Cinedigm’s free on-demand and linear versions of The Dove Channel have seen total monthly viewers growing to 5.4 million in February 2022, up 47% year over year. Ad-based viewership continues to accelerate, with monthly minutes streamed in FY Q4 22 increasing by 32% over the prior sequential quarter.

“Given the challenges of these trying times over the last few years, the appetite for uplifting, wholesome movies and shows that families can watch together has dramatically expanded,” Erick Opeka, chief strategy officer/president of Cinedigm Networks, said in a statement.

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Opeka said the The Dove Channel has become the company’s most successful subscription service and is among the top three of all ad-supported services in our portfolio.

“The enthusiastic responses from platforms, advertisers, and consumers reiterates the important position our service fills in America’s households,” he said.

Opeka said Cinedigm plans on ramping up investment in exclusive programming and new television series for the channel, which he said would be at the forefront of key initiatives to develop a direct ad sales channel and launch new fiction and non-fiction podcasts with the same wholesome perspective.

The Dove Channel will also leverage the 7,500-title library of Digital Media Rights, the streaming company Cinedigm acquired this week, as a source of substantial additional kids and family programming. Finally, the channel will also re-launch on Cinedigm’s new Matchpoint 2.0 app framework later this year and will also expand platform support across key leading platforms including Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and more.

“We will devote our efforts to expanding Dove’s content and enhancing our technology offerings, in turn, driving considerably more revenue from both new subscribers as well as key, direct advertisers looking for a brand-safe environment,” Opeka said.

Cinedigm Closes $16.4 Million Acquisition of Digital Media Rights

Cinedigm March 29 announced the completion of its acquisition of Digital Media Rights, a specialty streaming, advertising, and content distribution company. The $16.4 million acquisition closed on March 28, and is payable in installments, with the first payment of $8 million in cash.

Cinedigm will make additional payments totaling $8.4 million in cash or stock at the company’s discretion. The Los Angeles-based distributor will pay annual installment payments of $3 million, $3 million and $2.4 million at 12, 24, and 36 months from the closing date, respectively. Cinedigm expects the acquisition will generate approximately $10 million in incremental revenue and $3 million in incremental pre-tax earnings over the next 12 months.

The acquisition of DMR scales up Cinedigm’s presence to more than 30 streaming channel services, 46,000 movies and television episodes, and 40 million monthly viewers, while adding approximately 18.5 million social subscribers and more than 4 billion monthly views.

Founded more than a decade ago by Michael Hong and David Chu, the New York-based DMR focuses on four key streaming-based businesses: feature films and television series for the streaming ecosystem; 10 streaming channels focused on enthusiast audiences, including six proprietary streaming services available as free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) channels; and video-on-demand apps.

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DMR curates social video channels for its streaming brands and brings extensive expertise in curating content to help drive new distribution, revenue, and marketing opportunities. DMR also operates an ad network and marketplace generating more than 100 million connected TV impressions a month.

“We were very deliberate in structuring a deal that works not only to the advantage of DMR and Cinedigm, but also to that of our shareholders, particularly given current financial market conditions,” Chris McGurk, chairman/CEO at Cinedigm, said in a statement.

DMR’s Hong said both companies are “incredibly aligned,” tapping into collective resources and areas of expertise to scale streaming services.

“We have been on an incredible journey since starting this company, during which we have watched the streaming video ecosystem evolve, as our industry has transformed and the way we consume content has been disrupted,” he said. “Cinedigm’s clear understanding of this evolution and transformation, and our shared vision, is a big part of what makes this deal such a logical and attractive one for all parties.”

Cinedigm Acquires Minority Stake in Roundtable Entertainment

Cinedigm and Roundtable Entertainment March 17 announced a strategic partnership that includes co-financing and co-owning the IP of original films to be distributed domestically on Cinedigm’s OTT networks and other third-party streaming platforms.

Erick Opeka, Cinedigm’s president and chief strategy officer, is taking a seat on Roundtable’s board of directors, joining CEO Dominic Ianno, Robert Norton and James Fields of Klingenstein Fields Advisors.

The partnership commences with a 10-picture, $15 million thriller slate, led by All My Friends Are Dead, directed by Kevin Greutert (Saw franchise). The drama tells the tale of a group of college friends who get a great deal on an Airbnb for the biggest music festival of the year. A weekend of partying quickly takes a turn for the worse, as the group is murdered one by one. They soon discover that each death directly corresponds to one of the Seven Deadly Sins. The film is produced by John Baldecchi, (Happy Death Day) and executive produced by Dominic Ianno (Soul Surfer), with Ingenious Media providing production funding.

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The movie slate deal was negotiated by Yolanda Macias, chief content officer at Cinedigm, and interim chief business officer Robert Norton on behalf of Roundtable.

“In today’s competitive marketplace, Cinedigm is uniquely positioned as a cutting edge next-generation streamer focused on youth markets to bring top-tier digital distribution and monetize these exciting movies,” Ianno said in a statement. “Cinedigm’s financial strength, distribution muscle and technology leadership will allow us to efficiently and profitably make movies and launch streaming channels together for many years to come.”

Opeka said the partnership would leverage the best that both companies have to offer, providing Cinedigm with a “steady pipeline” of genre films and additional channels while maximizing return on investment.”

Baldecchi, head of scripted at Roundtable, said the slate features “effectively-budgeted” movies targeting specific genres for youth and commercial appeal worldwide.

“Having access to the Cinedigm library to source future IP will also help build value for both companies in a cost-effective manner,” he said.

‘The Temptations’ Available on DVD From Distribution Solutions

The biographical miniseries The Temptations is available on DVD from Cinedigm and Distribution Solutions.

The 1998 drama is based on the true story behind the legendary Motown musical sensation the Temptations, the soul vocal group of the 1960s, as seen from the viewpoint of the last surviving member Otis Williams.

The story begins from their humble origins in the late 1950s and continues through the 1990s and the deaths of the other four members.

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Cinedigm: ‘Bloody Disgusting’ Podcast Downloads Increased 50% to 40 Million in 2021

Cinedigm on March 2 announced that its Bloody Disgusting horror brand reported record growth for its podcasts in 2021. The brand saw more than 40 million podcast downloads last year, up 50% from 2020, and a 25% increase in listeners.

Currently distributing 11 horror-themed podcasts, the Bloody Disgusting Podcast Network curates both fiction and non-fiction shows, covering everything from the sinister anthology Bleeder’s DIEgest to the Stephen King-inspired The Losers’ Club to SCP Archives Presents. The company’s most popular podcast Creepy, which Cinedigm claims is downloaded more than a million times each month, gives voice to urban legends and horror stories primarily posted online, which are known as “creepypastas.”

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This past October marked the fourth annual “31 Days of Horror” series, which has become a fan favorite each year. Last year’s Halloween season series amassed 3.2 million listens.

Bloody Disgusting podcasts consistently chart on Apple and Spotify. Creepy and SCP are always Top 50 on Apple. SCP is one of the fastest-growing shows on Spotify, consistently in the top 5 on Spotify charts in the U.S., U.K., Australia, Germany, Sweden and Brazil. Creepy and SCP are in the top 1% of podcasts by downloads, according to Cinedigm.

The growth trajectory continues into 2022, with Bloody Disgusting’s podcasts on track to gross more than $1 million ad dollars before the year’s end, and major brands such as Babbel, Audible, HelloFresh and Nectar Sleep as current sponsors. Bloody Disgusting is investing aggressively to scale its podcast business with more original shows in development.

“It has been extremely exciting to watch the Bloody Disgusting Podcast Network see such tremendous growth year over year,” Tom Owen, managing director of the brand, said in a statement.

Over the past 10 years, podcasts have become an increasingly popular form of entertainment. According to Statista, data from a study conducted in early 2021 showed that 41% of the population reported listening to a podcast in the previous month, which was more than three times as many listeners as a decade earlier. Diversity in content has played a role in the medium’s continued rise. Historically skewing younger, the percentage of podcast listeners aged 55+ more than doubled between 2017 and 2021. This number will undoubtedly continue to rise as more Americans familiarize themselves with the medium. Statista reported that around 120 million Americans listened to podcasts last year, with that number expected to jump to around 160 million by the end of 2023.

Cinedigm Releasing Horror Film ‘Suicide Forest Village’ Across Digital Platforms March 1

Cinedigm Feb. 18 announced it would distribute the supernatural horror film Suicide Forest Village via digital retail platforms beginning March 1. From Takashi Shimizu, director of the “Grudge” franchise, the horror film will be available to stream exclusively on Screambox May 6. Pre-orders of the movie are now on Apple iTunes.

Inspired by the Aokigahara Forest at the base of Mt. Fuji known for its frequent suicides and hauntings, the movie is anchored by a strong cast, including Jun Kunimura (Kill Bill: Vol. 1), Yumi Adachi (Tokyo Vampire Hotel) and Asuka Kurosawa (Silence).

When a group of friends come across a mysterious box, they unleash a curse that quickly spreads to those around them. The source of the box is the Jukai Village, where it is said that the land holds a grudge against trespassers and anyone that enters it, cannot escape alive.

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Shimizu co-wrote the film with Daisuke Hosaka, who previously worked together on Howling Village and The Shock Labyrinth 3D. The film is produced by Muneyuki Kii, Harue Miyake, Chikako Nakabayashi and Daisuke Takahashi.

Cinedigm and Exeest Form Sales Platform for Indie Content Creators

Cinedigm and Exeest, a global film and television marketplace company, have announced the launch of Matchpoint Debut, a new distribution and sales platform for independent filmmakers and content creators.

Debut provides filmmakers with a path to easily distribute their films across the entire streaming ecosystem while providing an opportunity to monetize their work, according to a press release.

“All filmmakers, from small independents to established distributors, will have the ability to directly participate in the booming OTT business by gaining distribution across more than 80 U.S. and international-based streaming platforms that are increasingly becoming relegated to Hollywood’s major studios and media conglomerates,” the press release stated. 

Cinedigm’s content submission and evaluation process will be powered by Exeest’s patent-pending content distribution technology while the entire asset ingestion, content preparation, content packaging and digital distribution will be automated by Cinedigm’s Matchpoint Dispatch.

“The platform will provide a complete end-to-end solution that encompasses the entire 360-degree distribution process from content submission to content publishing to content reporting,” according to the press release.

Filmmakers around the world can submit their films for consideration to be distributed across Cinedigm’s portfolio of AVOD and SVOD channels in addition to other third-party platforms, including Amazon Prime Video, Apple iTunes, Google Play and Xbox. Once approved, filmmakers will also automatically receive access to Exeest’s cloud-native sales asset management system and will be evaluated for entry into their business-to-business streaming marketplace which facilitates worldwide distribution, according to the release.

The Matchpoint Debut portal can be accessed here.

“Instead of using multiple services with little insight into engagement, Exeest has built a platform that enables content sellers to upload and manage their content in one place in the cloud accompanied by robust analytics,” according to the press release. “The interface mirrors the streaming experience and showcases the content with rich media, recommendations, watchlists and enhanced discovery algorithms.”

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“As the entertainment industry undergoes a transformation brought on by the adoption of streaming video as the primary format for home entertainment, we are passionate about ensuring that the voice of independent filmmakers remains strong,” Tony Huidor, Cinedigm’s chief technology and product officer, said in a statement. “As it becomes increasingly difficult for independent filmmakers to reach large audiences in this rapidly changing media landscape, it is exciting to partner with an innovative partner like Exeest who shares our vision of the future where we can create a destination for independent filmmakers and establish a viable path for discovery by enabling them to bring their work into living rooms around the world.”

“We are bringing the entertainment marketplace into the digital age with the latest technology that simplifies and streamlines the buying and selling of content in an environment that showcases the content as an interactive experience, from the viewing to the sales connections,” John Pollak, chief commercial officer of Exeest, said in a statement.