Federal Government Appeals TikTok Ban Injunction

The Justice Department Oct. 8 filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, saying the preliminary injunction issued last month delaying a ban of Chinese-owned social media video app TikTok should be lifted.

The injunction issued Sept. 27 by Judge Carl Nichols in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia prevented the Trump Administration from banning use of the TikTok app in the U.S. Trump alleges TikTok, which is owned by ByteDance, remains a security threat by collecting data on U.S. users and storing it on Chinese-based servers.

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The ban, which also includes the WeChat app owned by Chinese media giant Tencent, is part of the administration’s ongoing Cold War with China that is partly based on politics and commercial trade between the world’s two largest economies.

Trump in August issued an executive order mandating the ban unless TikTok sold its U.S. operations. An acquisition deal involving chip maker Oracle and Walmart for 20% in a newly configured ByteDance parent remains in the works, but has not been finalized.

Trump’s ban could affect the 100 million Americans who use TikTok for social messaging and commercial influencing. At the same time, China has been blocking its citizens from using American apps such as Facebook, Twitter — and Netflix.

While Netflix is not a social media service, the world’s largest SVOD platform remains largely a non-player in China. In 2017, Netflix licensed select original content to iQiyi in the erstwhile communist country. That agreement reportedly ended last year due to limited consumer response, according to iQiyi CEO Gong Yu.

“We had an agreement with Netflix two years ago, but because of the verification system and users’ tastes, the effect wasn’t that great, so we didn’t continue the partnership,” Yu said in a media interview last year translated by CNBC.

Oscar Nominee ‘Cold War’ Due on Disc Nov. 19 From Criterion

The Criterion Collection Nov. 19 will release Cold War on Blu-ray and DVD. The 2018 Polish film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign-Language Film.

The sweeping, delirious romance begins in the Polish countryside, where Wiktor (Tomasz Kot), a musician on a state-sponsored mission to collect folk songs, discovers a captivating young singer named Zula (Joanna Kulig). Over the next 15 years, their turbulent relationship will play out in stolen moments between two worlds: the jazz clubs of decadent bohemian Paris, to which he defects, and the corrupt, repressive Communist Bloc, where she remains.

The disc release will include a new 4K digital master, supervised and approved by director Paweł Pawlikowski and cinematographer Łukasz Zal, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD master audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Other extras include a new conversation between Pawlikowski and filmmaker Alejandro G. Iñàrritu; a press conference featuring Pawlikowski and Zal, actors Kulig, Kot and Borys Szyc, and producer Ewa Puszczynska; documentaries from 2018 on the making of the film; a trailer; a new English subtitle translation; and an essay by film critic Stephanie Zacharek.

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Criterion’s November 2019 slate also includes 1996’s The Daytrippers, the feature debut of writer-director Greg Mottola. When she discovers a love letter written to her husband (Stanley Tucci) by an unknown paramour, the distraught Eliza (Hope Davis) turns to her tight-knit Long Island family for advice. Soon the entire clan-strong-willed mom (Anne Meara), taciturn dad (Pat McNamara), and jaded sister (Parker Posey) with pretentious boyfriend (Liev Schreiber) in tow-has squeezed into a station wagon and headed into Manhattan to find out the truth, kicking off a one-crazy-day odyssey full of unexpected detours and life-changing revelations.

The Blu-ray and DVD releases arriving Nov. 12 include a new 4K digital restoration, supervised by Mottola, with uncompressed stereo soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Extras include a new audio commentary featuring Mottola, editor Anne McCabe and producer Steven Soderbergh; new interviews with Mottola and cast members Davis, Posey, Schreiber and Campbell Scott; The Hatbox, a 1985 short film by Mottola, with audio commentary by the director; and an essay by critic Emily Nussbaum.

Due Nov. 19 on Blu-ray and DVD will be 1986’s Betty Blue, in French with English subtitles. When the easygoing would-be novelist Zorg (Jean-Hugues Anglade) meets the tempestuous Betty (Béatrice Dalle) in a sunbaked French beach town, it’s the beginning of a whirlwind love affair that sees the pair turn their backs on conventional society in favor of the hedonistic pursuit of freedom, adventure, and carnal pleasure. But as the increasingly erratic Betty’s grip on reality begins to falter, Zorg finds himself willing to do things he never expected to protect both her fragile sanity and their tenuous existence.

The disc will include a high-definition digital restoration approved by director Jean-Jacques Beineix, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray.

Extras include Blue Notes and Bungalows, a 60-minute documentary from 2013 featuring Beineix, actors Jean-Hugues Anglade and Béatrice Dalle, associate producer Claudie Ossard, cinematographer Jean-François Robin, and composer Gabriel Yared; “Making of Betty Blue,” a short video featuring Beineix and author Philippe Djian; Le chien de Monsieur Michel, a short film by Beineix from 1977; a French television interview from 1986 with Beineix and Dalle; a Dalle screen test; railers; a new English subtitle translation; and an essay by critic Chelsea Phillips-Carr.

Due Nov. 26 is 1950’s Best Picture Oscar winner All About Eve. In Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s witty Hollywood classic, Margo Channing (Bette Davis) entertains a surprise dressing-room visitor: her most adoring fan, the shy, wide-eyed Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter). But as Eve becomes a fixture in Margo’s life, the Broadway legend soon realizes that her supposed admirer intends to use her and everyone in her circle, including George Sanders’s acid-tongued critic, as stepping-stones to stardom.

The special-edition Blu-ray and DVD includes a 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray.

The discs include two audio commentaries from 2010, one featuring actor Celeste Holm, director Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s son Christopher Mankiewicz, and author Kenneth L. Geist; the other featuring author Sam Staggs. Other extras include All About Mankiewicz, a feature-length documentary from 1983 about the director; episodes of “The Dick Cavett Show” from 1969 and 1980 featuring actors Bette Davis and Gary Merrill; a new interview with costume historian Larry McQueen; Hollywood Backstories: All About Eve, a 2001 documentary featuring interviews with Davis and others about the making of the film; documentaries from 2010 about Mankiewicz’s life and career, the short story on which the film is based and its real-world inspiration, and a real-life “Sarah Siddons Society” based on the film’s fictional society; a radio adaptation of the film from 1951; the film’s trailer; and an essay by critic Terrence Rafferty and the 1946 short story on which the film is based.

Also due Nov. 26 is 1942’s Now, Voyager, also starring Davis. Nervous spinster Charlotte Vale (Davis) is stunted from growing up under the heel of her puritanical Boston Brahmin mother (Gladys Cooper), and remains convinced of her own unworthiness until a kindly psychiatrist (Claude Rains) gives her the confidence to venture out into the world on a South American cruise. Onboard, she finds her footing with the help of an unhappily married man (Paul Henreid).

The Blu-ray and DVD includes a new, restored 4K digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Extras include an episode of “The Dick Cavett Show” from 1971 with Davis; an interview with Paul Henreid from 1980; selected-scene commentary on the film’s score by professor Jeff Smith; a new interview with film critic Farran Smith Nehme on the making of the film; a new interview with costume historian Larry McQueen; two radio adaptations from 1943 and 1946; an essay by scholar Patricia White; and a 1937 reflection on acting by Davis.

Cold War Doc and Thrillers Coming on DVD From Mill Creek in April

The documentary Minutes to Midnight: The Cold War Chronicles and a six-in-one DVD of Cold War Thrillers are coming to DVD plus digital in April from Mill Creek Entertainment.

Minutes to Midnight: The Cold War Chronicles is a documentary filmed over a two-year period that deals with the early years of the Cold War and one of the U.S. Air Force formations that stood on the ramparts of the free world. The DVD also includes 15 government propaganda films from the 1950s featuring narration and appearances from Glenn Ford, Edward R. Murrow, Lowell Thomas and John Wayne.

Cold War Thrillers includes six films about the period. Man on a String (1960) stars Ernest Borgnine, Kerwin Mathews and Alexander Scourby and was directed by Andre De Toth (House of Wax). The Deadly Affair (1966), directed by Sidney Lumet, features James Mason, Maximillian Schell and Simone Signoret with a score by Quincy Jones. Otley (1968), directed by Dick Clement, stars Tom Courtenay and Romy Schneider. A Dandy in Aspic (1968), directed by Anthony Mann, stars Mia Farrow, Laurence Harvey and Tom Courtenay with a score by Quincy Jones. Hammerhead (1968), directed by David Miller, features Peter Vaughan, Vince Edwards and Diana Dors. And The Executioner (1970), directed by Sam Wanamaker, stars George Peppard, Joan Collins, Oscar Homolka and Judy Geeson.

Amazon Ups Q4 Online Sales 13% to $39.8 Billion

Amazon Jan. 31 said it increased fourth-quarter (ended Dec. 31, 2018) online sales 13% to $39.8 billion from $35.3 billion during the previous-year period. Online sales include media products sold in physical (DVD/Blu-ray Disc) and digital formats, including books, games, videos and software.

Subscription revenue, which includes Prime (and Prime Video) memberships, audiobooks, e-books, digital music and other non-Amazon Web Services revenue, increased 25% to $3.95 billion, compared to $3.17 billion last year.

Other home entertainment highlights in the quarter included the launch of IMDb Freedive, an ad-supported VOD channel available in the U.S. on the IMDb website via laptop or personal computer and on all Fire TV devices.

Prime Video became available on Comcast’s Xfinity X1 in the U.S., giving Prime members with Xfinity access to thousands of additional premium shows and movies online. Additionally, Amazon launched NBA League Pass and PGA Tour Live on Prime Video Channels.

Prime members can now stream out-of-market NBA games live or on-demand with a subscription to NBA League Pass for $28.99/month or $169.99 for a Season Pass. Prime members in the U.S. can also subscribe to PGA Tour Live to watch live coverage across 28 PGA tournaments per year for $9.99/month or $64.99 per season.

Amazon Studios’ Cold War was recognized for three Academy Award nominations – Best Foreign Language Film, Best Director for Pawel Pawlikowski, and Best Cinematography for Lukasz Zal.

Amazon Studios was recognized with 10 Golden Globe Awards nominations and two wins: Rachel Brosnahan won Best Actress in a Television Series – Comedy or Musical for her performance in “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” for the second year in a row and Ben Whishaw won Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Limited Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television for his role in “A Very English Scandal.”

Prime Video Original Series, “Inside Edge” became the first Indian show from a video streaming service to be nominated for the International Emmy Awards.

Prime Video introduced localized Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu language user interfaces in India. Prime members can now stream movies titles and original series with a Hindi, Tamil, or Telugu user interface, including search, navigation, browse, and customer support.