‘South Park: The Pandemic Special’ Tops Newcomers on ‘Watched at Home’ Chart; ‘Ava’ Remains No. 1

Comedy Central’s South Park: The Pandemic Special was the top new release on the weekly “Watched at Home” chart, coming in at No. 13 the week ended Oct. 3.

The standalone hourlong special, which satirizes society’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, aired Sept. 30 on Comedy Central and became available on HBO Max and other online sources the next day. The special is technically the start of the show’s 24th season, although additional episodes have not yet been scheduled.

The No. 1 title on the chart for a second consecutive week was Ava, a thriller from Vertical Entertainment that stars Jessica Chastain as an assassin. The movie is also available to rent on disc exclusively from Redbox. However, the Watched at Home chart, which tracks transactional video activity (both digital and on DVD and Blu-ray Disc) compiled from studio and retailer data through DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, does not account for rental data.

The rest of the top 20 wasn’t much different from the previous week.

No. 2 was Lionsgate’s The Secret: Dare to Dream, which moved up one spot from the previous week.

The three seasons of Paramount’s drama series “Yellowstone” continued to occupy the top 10, with the third season at No. 3, the first season at No. 5, and the second season at No. 6.

No. 4 was Disney’s Hocus Pocus, climbing eight spots as Halloween-themed titles begin to assert themselves during October. Always a top seller around Halloween time, the 1993 film about three Salem witches who are resurrected in modern times was given a boost this year by a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray re-release.

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Likewise, Warner’s 1988 spooky comedy Beetlejuice returned to the list at No. 11 after a few weeks off the list, which it was on a few weeks ago after its own 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release.

And Disney’s 1993 animated fantasy The Nightmare Before Christmas joined the list for the first time at No. 16.

  1. Ava (Vertical)
  2. The Secret: Dare to Dream (Lionsgate)
  3. Yellowstone: Season 3 (Paramount)
  4. Hocus Pocus (Disney)
  5. Yellowstone: Season 1 (Paramount)
  6. Yellowstone: Season 2 (Paramount)
  7. Alone (Magnolia)
  8. Harry Potter Complete 8-Film Collection (Warner)
  9. Rick and Morty: Season 4 (Warner)
  10. The Tax Collector (RLJ Entertainment)
  11. Beetlejuice (Warner)
  12. Trolls World Tour (Universal/DreamWorks)
  13. South Park: The Pandemic Special (Paramount/Comedy Central)
  14. Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs (Lionsgate)
  15. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Warner)
  16. The Nightmare Before Christmas (Disney)
  17. Outlander: Season 5 (Sony Pictures)
  18. The King of Staten Island (Universal)
  19. The Silencing (Lionsgate)
  20. Sonic the Hedgehog (Paramount)

 

Source: DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group
Includes U.S. digital sales, digital rentals, and DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD sales for the week ended Oct. 3.

Interest in Digital Home Entertainment Spread in Pandemic, DEG Speakers Say

Staying at home during the pandemic increased digital home entertainment interest across the board — for free VOD, SVOD and TVOD — according to speakers at a virtual DEG Expo May 21.

“We’re seeing in this moment really strong momentum for content consumption, discovery, engagement across our whole ecosystem,” said Google’s Jonathan Zepp. “That’s especially true in our user-facing, consumer businesses. For example, since stay-at-home has been in place, our home entertainment transactional business has seen tremendous growth in consumption, and it’s driven not only by new-release, home-premiere titles, but also catalog titles that have been wonderful and enjoyed by families together.”

Consumers were also searching for older shows. As consumers began to shelter in place, search queries for “The Sopranos” grew 67%, “Game of Thrones” 36% and “Mad Men” 31%, noted Google’s David Wang.

“If you take even some of these older titles that are evergreen, we’re seeing significant increases in search volume for these titles over the past several months, and they all roughly correlate with the timing of stay-at-home orders,” he said.

Consumers also increased searches for “Marvel movies in order” and — perhaps coming as no surprise — “virus movies.”

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“Right around the time that the pandemic was declared, we saw a huge spike in the number of queries for virus movies, and thankfully that’s tapered off a little bit, and people are looking for a little bit lighter fare,” he said.

“Tiger King,” Netflix’s much talked about documentary about eccentric big cat collectors, also got a search boost.

Consumers were also looking for content broadly, with searches such as “what to watch on Netflix” up 114%, “best TV shows” up 62% and “action movies” up 58% as stay-at-home orders took effect.

“Eventually you run out of things that you know you want to watch, and you need to discover new content, so we see increases in broad inquires,” Wang said.

Consumers were also looking for specific content providers, with searches for “Disney+ movies” up 135%, “Netflix movies” up 86% and “Hulu movies” also up 86%.

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“Oftentimes, you want to maximize the value of an existing subscription that you have, and you want to find out what’s new or what’s hot on one of those services or maybe you’re trying to understand whether you want to subscribe to a new service,” Wang noted.

Searches for free content also grew, with “free TV websites” up 179% and “free movies” up 60%.

“What we’ve observed is that a lot of free content has been made available over the past couple of months, generally brought about by COVID and stay-at-home orders,” he said, adding, “I do think that the business model is changing slightly in terms of free content. We see more advertising video-on-demand players, so we see a definite shift in increasing query volume for that. I think we’ve established a new baseline.”

As some areas opened, such COVID-spawned entertainment search activity decreased, he said, pointing to South Korea, where the infection curve flattened early, as an example.

Still, he thinks there has been a permanent shift in viewing habits.

“Even as we start going out a little bit more, I think the general consumption of streaming over something more linear is probably here to stay,” Wang said.

DEG Europe Changes Name to DEG International

DEG Europe, The Digital Entertainment Group’s European arm, has changed its name to DEG International, reflecting digital media’s worldwide impact.

The DEGI’s studio members include Lionsgate, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, NBCUniversal, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, Paramount Home Entertainment, Technicolor, Dolby and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group. Google recently joined as the organization’s first transactional retail member.

“As the home entertainment category evolves to respond to and reflect an ever-advancing degree of consumer choice, the DEGI is increasingly providing related support to local trade organizations as well as bridging perceived gaps in territories where trade associations are absent,” Nicola Pearcey, president U.K. & EMEA Strategy and Ops at Lionsgate and DEGI co-chair, said in a statement.

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Liz Bales, CEO of DEGI and British Association of Screen Entertainment, said DEGI’s role in a changing market can’t be understated.

“In the last 12 months, the DEGE has helped to drive the development of digital growth initiatives in a range of territories, with the U.S., Nordics, Australia and Asia all building on the delivery and learnings gained through the U.K. activation of ambitious promotions like ‘Mega Movie Week’,” Bales said.

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She said partnership with DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group sister organization in the United States underscores an ability to effectively share experience in a compliance-appropriate manner – at a time when the video category is facing the practical effects of the diversification of consumer choice, and when some local markets lack the support of a trade association.

“The DEGI can act as a vital bridge in an increasingly global market,” Bales said.

Amy Jo Smith, CEO of DEG, said the U.S. market is the starting point for much of the change percolating into global markets, such as Disney+.

“One of our key priorities is to help members identify opportunity in that change and so our recently formed D2C Alliance and its International Expansion Committee will both lend support to and benefit from the global stance being taken by the DEGI,” Smith said. “We look forward to working with DEGI to help drive actionable market insights and industry best practices.”

 

Oh, What a Year — With Transformational Changes, Home Entertainment in 2019 Got Smaller — and Bigger

The phrase “transformational change” has been used so much it’s become a cliché — and yet there really is no better way to describe what happened in not just home entertainment, but also the entertainment industry overall, in 2019.

The completion in March of the Walt Disney Co.’s purchase of 20th Century Fox saw the number of major studios drop to five from six. Some of the home entertainment sector’s most familiar faces were suddenly gone, including Mike Dunn, the longtime leader of Fox’s home entertainment unit, and Danny Kaye, the visionary behind Fox Innovation Labs. Later, in the summer, Janice Marinelli, Disney’s home entertainment chief, also exited in a surprise move, given that she had opened an office on the Fox studio lot and was reportedly screening staffers.

In November, two new streaming giants emerged to take on longtime leader Netflix, Apple TV+ and, most significantly, Disney+.

Meanwhile, a new flavor of streaming gathered momentum: free to consumers, paid for by advertisers. Among the heavyweights jumping into what’s known as “AVOD” are ViacomCBS, with its Pluto TV acquisition, and Comcast Corp., which in December was reported to be in advanced talks to acquire Xumo TV, which boasts more than 140 digital channels of programming across 12 genres, including sports, news, kids and family entertainment.

The overall impact of all these developments on home entertainment: It got smaller — and bigger.

Smaller, because the traditional transactional business model that has defined home entertainment since its birth more than 40 years ago has increasingly come under fire, with subscription streaming, in particular, gobbling up more and more consumer attention — and dollars — that previously would have gone toward buying or renting movies, either on disc or through digital retailers.

But also bigger, because streaming, in its various incarnations, is now widely accepted as being part of home entertainment — which is now broadly defined as people watching what they want, on demand. There’s even a new name for all of this — direct-to-consumer — which was first adopted by Disney and is now used interchangeably with “home entertainment.”

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Bob Buchi, president of Paramount Home Entertainment, says 2019 “was the year of transition.”

“From media mergers and changing consumer viewing habits to the explosion of streaming services, the landscape has shifted dramatically,” he says.

The Nov. 1 launch of Apple TV+ marked the tech giant’s entry into the content business, with nine original series. One of them, “The Morning Show,” picked up several Golden Globe nominations from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), a first for a new streaming service.

Less than two weeks later, Disney launched its much-ballyhooed Disney+, with a full menu of in-demand movies and series — including the “Star Wars” spinoff “The Mandalorian.” Disney said more than 10 million people signed up for the service in the first 24 hours. By the end of November, the service had 24 million subscribers, according to estimates from Wall Street firm Cowen & Co. (Netflix as of October had more than 60 million domestic subs.)

“It’s an exciting time and we believe we have a unique and significant role to play,” Ricky Strauss, president of content and marketing for Disney+, told Media Play News on the eve of the service’s launch. “Disney+ will compete based on the unparalleled strength of our brands, the quality of our intellectual property, and expertise in high-quality video streaming.”

And yet industry insiders insist that despite streaming’s growth, there’s room for transactional — largely because new theatrical films, particularly the blockbusters, aren’t available on SVOD services. This distinction has prompted FandangoNow, one of the big digital retailers, to boldly proclaim on its home page, “New releases not on Netflix, Amazon Prime or Hulu subscriptions.”

“Because we’re the first point of entry for fans to see movies in theaters, and first at home, we’ve seen a significant growth among consumers who are excited to own movies as soon as they’re available digitally,” says Cameron Douglas, head of FandangoNow. “Fans looking for high-quality content right out of theaters, including 4K HDR movies, don’t have to wait until they arrive later on subscription services, and innovative deals like rental binge bundles and the availability on new platforms keep them coming back to transactional digital services like our own.”

“New movie releases continue to be sought out by consumers during the first window in the home amidst the frenzied buzz around new streaming services,” adds Michael Bonner, EVP of digital distribution for Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. “While there’s no denying the landscape is becoming more competitive, this business has successfully co-existed with abundant availability of non-transactional content for a long time and we expect it to continue to do so.”

“There is space — and demand — for both transactional content as well as streaming — just as there is consumer interest in both digital and physical,” says Amy Jo Smith, president and CEO of trade association DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.

Beyond new releases, streamers have a limited selection of older films and TV shows, particularly with their increased focus on original content.

“For many consumers, their streaming options are good enough,” says Mark Fisher, president and CEO of home entertainment trade association the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA). “But just like the days when the first video rental stores opened and made it easy for the consumer to watch anything they wanted to watch when they wanted to watch it, online VOD retailers offer that same opportunity to the consumer. I know that every time I see a montage of old movie clips, I’m driven to watch titles that aren’t new releases — and these are titles not readily (or easily) found on the streaming services.”

Sales of digital movies, in particular, were a bright spot, with consumer spending up nearly 7% in the first nine months of 2019, according to trade association DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.

“We’ve continued to see growth in EST (electronic sellthrough) — both in our new releases and in our catalog,” says Jason Spivak, EVP of distribution, for Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. “Certainly the enhanced consumer experience enabled by Movies Anywhere is part of that, as is increasing consumer connectivity in their homes. EST continues to gain prominence in our marketing planning, release data scheduling, and retailer partnerships.”

Ron Schwartz, president of Lionsgate Home Entertainment, says Lionsgate EST revenue grew 30% this year, “four to five times faster than the overall industry. With increased collaboration between studios and retailers, and more offerings such as dynamic bundling, customers are starting to build their lockers up to 10-plus titles. Recent data shows that once a customer gets to between 10 and 12 titles in their locker, their EST purchasing behavior doubles.”

In addition to selling movies, digital retailers also offer them for a la carte streaming, the digital equivalent of a physical movie rental. Redbox remains the only retailer to offer both digital and physical rentals, the former through an e-commerce site and the latter, through a network of more than 40,000 kiosks situated outside (or inside) large retailers like Walmart, convenience and drug stores, and other retailers.

“Redbox owns the transactional space with more transactions across physical and digital formats — for rental and purchase — than any other transactional provider,” says Redbox CEO Galen Smith.

In 2019, he said, Redbox expanded its offering of 4K Ultra HD discs into new markets, and stepped up promotions as well, with its Back to the Movies campaign and a joint Dinner & A Movie offering with meal delivery service DoorDash.

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In addition, Redbox Entertainment, a new content acquisition and production division, has further transformed Redbox into a multi-channel content provider and programmer. Launched in October, the new division is headed by Marc Danon, who spent eights at Lionsgate, most recently as SVP of acquisitions and business development.

Disc sales in 2019 continued to decline in the low double digits, with DEG reporting that in the first nine months of the year, combined 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray Disc, and DVD revenues were down 18.5% to an estimated $2.3 billion — exactly half what they amounted to five years ago, in 2014.

But studios continued to support the disc. And while a trend among smaller titles is to release them only on DVD and digital, bypassing Blu-ray Disc, major new releases are still getting significant marketing campaigns behind them, particularly for the 4K Ultra HD editions. The UHD disc also made headlines last August when the UHD Alliance, along with leaders in consumer electronics, the Hollywood studios and members of the filmmaking community, announced collaboration on a new viewing mode for watching movies called “Filmmaker Mode,” designed to reproduce the content in the way the creator intended. Filmmaker Mode, bowing next year, will allow viewers to enjoy a more cinematic experience on their UHD TVs when watching movies by disabling all post-processing (e.g. motion smoothing, etc.) so the movie or television show is displayed as it was intended by the filmmaker, preserving the correct aspect ratios, colors and frame rates.

“For the time being, 4K UHD is still the gold standard for at-home content,” says Jim Wuthrich, president of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment & Games. “With hardware costs dropping and television functionality such as Filmmaker Mode being made available next year, there is still a great value proposition in owning content in 4K UHD, both physically and digitally, as is still represents the best home-viewing experience.”

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“As evidenced by the exceptional growth of 4K UHD to date, it is clear that there is a sizable appetite for premium high-definition products, and that format plays a meaningful role in boosting retail traffic,” says Eddie Cunningham, president of Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

Retail partnerships are key, Cunningham adds. “Given that physical and digital transactional consumption rates are remaining steady year over year and that disc purchases are making up more than half of that consumption, there’s no question that movie buyers continue to be vitally important to retail,” he says. “At no other time in our industry has it been more critical to ensure that we work together to retain the loyalty of movie consumers, creating urgency for our products and delivering the utmost value, quality, accessibility and convenience possible.”

 

DEG Europe Adds Google to Membership Base

The Digital Entertainment Group Europe (DEGE) Oct. 30 announced the addition of Google to its membership.

Supplying a vast catalog of movies and TV shows across its Google Play and YouTube platforms, Google joins the DEGE as the trade group works to support and enhance the home entertainment industry and drive consumer engagement with new and emerging technologies across an increasing number of international territories.

Against a backdrop of year-on-year growth in the digital film market, driven in part by collaborative activity spearheaded by the DEGE sister organization, the British Association for Screen Entertainment, Google joins incumbent members, including NBC Universal, Warner Brothers, 21st Century Fox, Paramount, Lionsgate, Dolby and Technicolor, among others.

Google becomes the first retail platform to take a seat on the DEGE board.

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Lisa Rousseau, head of TV and Film, EMEA, YouTube and Google Play, joins the board, having also hosted a DEGE panel on digital retail best practices at a Google/YouTube EMEA Movies event earlier in the year.

“We’ve found real value in engaging with the DEGE as it has effectively driven much of the cross-category conversation that needs to take place as the home entertainment market evolves and shapes itself around adapting consumer needs,” Rousseau said in a statement. “We look forward to working with colleagues on a global level to help shape the conversation going forward.”

Acting as a conduit for member organizations and partners to evidence market trends and best practice learnings, the DEGE also delivers a significant forum for debate and allows colleagues from across the industry to enjoy a vital through line to the Digital Entertainment Group and its members in the US. Google joins the DEGE as the digital transactional landscape is in sharp focus and following a 12 months that has seen real engagement from partners across France, Germany, the Nordic region, Italy and beyond.

Amy Jo Smith, president/CEO of the DEGE’s sister organization, The Digital Entertainment Group, lauded Google’s arrival.

“The local and global entertainment arena is in a bold state of evolution with direct-to consumer and subscription models presenting the industry with exciting opportunity,” Smith said in a statement. “The addition of a global giant like Google to the DEGE’s membership is an important moment in the positive management of that evolution and one that will encourage even more of the joined-up thinking that the DEGE has become known for across borders.”

DEG to Track Digital Movies Sales Through GfK Entertainment

GfK Entertainment July 5 announced a deal with DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group to provide the home entertainment trade group with data on sales of digital movies and TV shows.

The two-year contract covers international markets in addition to aggregated sales of films and TV series in the United States and Canada for transactional VOD and electronic sell-through (EST).

This is German-based GfK’s first deal tracking entertainment software in the North American market.

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GfK currently tracks transactional VOD and EST sales data in 21 countries, including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain and the United Kingdom.

“The business of video on demand is growing rapidly, and we are pleased to expand our portfolio by incorporating data from two of the biggest markets, USA and Canada,” Tanja Eisen, global director sales & marketing, GfK Entertainment, said in a statement.

Amy Jo Smith, CEO of DEG, said the agreement helps the trade group gain visibility and understanding market data she said is key to reacting to consumer demand of entertainment content.

“We are looking forward to extending our long-term partnership with GfK Entertainment – and to further analyze the latest trends, titles and genres for different formats in various countries,” Smith said.

DEG Creates Advisory Board for Canon Club

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group May 20 announced the creation of an advisory board of senior executives for its Canon Club, an organization in which women at all levels and in all sectors of digital media share knowledge and build their business networks.

The 10 appointed Advisory Board members will provide input on Canon Club event programming, rotate as host at speaker-driven salons and social/networking events, serve as founding mentors in the “Four Cups of Coffee” mentoring network, and judge the annual Hedy Lamarr Awards for Women in Entertainment and Technology.

The advisory board will be led by chair Robin Tarufelli of Deloitte and vice chair Meri Hassouni of Giant Interactive. Other board members include Loren Nielsen, DTS; Sofia Chang, HBO (DEG board director); Dametra Johnson–Marletti, Microsoft (DEG board director); Karin Gilford, Movies Anywhere; Andrea Downing, PBS Distribution (DEG board director); Cheryl Goodman, Sony Electronics; Nadia Haney, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment; and Darcy Antonellis, Vubiquity.

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“I’m thrilled to work with these seasoned executives to take Canon Club to the next level,” said Amy Jo Smith, president and CEO of the DEG, in a statement. “Many of our advisors are longtime members and active supporters of DEG, and each of them comes to this new role enthusiastically and with a strong commitment to increase opportunities for women in entertainment and technology.”

The appointment of the board coincides with the launch of new benefits, activities and events for Canon Club members and a renewed focus on networking and career development.  DEG will help facilitate networking and career development. Programs include “Four Cups of Coffee,” which will match women in search of mentors with more senior executives for a cup of coffee and career conversation up to four times each year. Mentors (In addition to advisory board members) include Beth Kearns, 20TH Century Fox; Heathyr Jozel-Garcia, ABC Studios; Samara Winterfeld, DTS; Ken Williams, ETC@USC; Kejo Swingler, HBO; and Rachel Crang, Paramount Pictures. Another program is the DTS Management Training Program under which sponsor DTS will invite up to 20 Canon Club members currently in management positions to participate in a one-day management training program, with the goal of preparing more women for senior leadership positions in digital media. All eligible female executives at DEG member companies may apply.

Canon Club Members are invited to meet the advisors and mentors and sign up for coffee with a mentor at a kick-off networking reception scheduled for the evening of June 5 at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City. Visit degonline.org for more information.

Canon Club is made possible by the support of presenting sponsor Deloitte, and sponsors DTS and PBS Distribution.

All executives and staff at DEG Member companies are automatically members of Canon Club and are invited to participate in Canon Club activities at no additional cost. Individuals outside DEG Member companies can purchase annual memberships for $199 per year (half price for students). Companies that are not members of DEG can purchase Canon Club sponsor memberships by emailing Andi Elliott (andi@degonline.org).

DEG Forms Direct-to-Consumer Alliance

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group has formed the DTC Alliance as a subset of DEG membership.

“Every major media company and TV network will launch a Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) streaming service in the next five years representing a significant new chapter in how television and film content is purchased, accessed and consumed,” the DEG stated in a release. “As DTC streaming currently is a longtail situation with a few high-reach apps and many low-reach services, DEG’s DTC Alliance is designed to support direct-to-consumer media services of all sizes to tackle difficult challenges and coordinate voluntary best practices and initiatives; advocate for the industry by presenting a common front to the commercial community; and promote member channels through campaigns aimed at building awareness among consumers, as well as through industry-leading events.”

Under the umbrella of the DTC Alliance, DEG has established six committees to set objectives and agendas in the following areas: Marketing Nomenclature, Data Analytics, International Expansion, Rights Repository, Title Availability Directory and Uniform Metadata Standards.

“With the DTC Alliance, DEG is bringing together DTC content companies and service providers to build a robust and efficient marketplace for all players, and to promote the new DTC experience to consumers,” said Amy Jo Smith, DEG president and CEO. “DEG has a track record of more than 20 years in bringing new media platforms, including DVD and Blu-ray Disc to market. We are very excited to apply this extensive market-building experience to the DTC arena, and encourage all appropriate companies to participate in setting the DTC Alliance’s initial objectives and a forward-looking agenda for this new industry.”

DEG Meeting to Focus on Doing Business In, and With, China

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group is hosting a special membership meeting Sept. 25 at the Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel in Los Angeles about doing business in and with China.

The meeting starts at 2 p.m. and will be followed at 5 p.m. by a networking session.

“Creative Collaboration with China” is hosted by Cinedigm, the film company majority-owned by Hong Kong private equity group Bison Capital.

Amy Jo Smith, president of DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group

Cinedigm in January announced an alliance with leading China-based Starrise Media Holdings Ltd. to release movies in China theatrically and digitally. The deal also paved the way for Cinedigm to distribute Chinese films in North America.

“Part of DEG’s mission is to provide members with leading-edge knowledge and resources about emerging trends and technologies to prepare for growth,” said Amy Jo Smith, CEO and president of DEG. “In this vein, this program will delve into how media and entertainment companies in the U.S. and China can work more closely to refine storytelling and script development to improve content performance across existing and emerging distribution platforms, and how the evolving distribution landscape may affect future revenue potential for content in both markets.

In the keynote address, Cinedigm Entertainment Group president Bill Sondheim will provide introductory remarks. “We are making a concerted effort to build meaningful bridges between the U.S. and China film industries and I see great enthusiasm in China and Hollywood because both sides see economic benefits,” Sondheim told Media Play News.

Sondheim’s remarks will be followed by a “chat” with Cinedigm chairman and CEO Chris McGurk and Bill Mechanic, the former 20th Century Fox studio chief (and, before that, the home video head for the Walt Disney Co.) who now heads Pandemonium Films. Bennett Pozil, EVP of East West Bank, will moderate. Variety once said, “Pozil has become the go-to financier for those at the intersection of Hollywood and China’s film markets.”

The keynote will be followed by a panel discussion on distribution strategies, consumption patterns and content creation trends in China and the United States.

Panelists include Marc Gareton, EVP, International Asia-Pacific and International Productions for Warner Bros. Home Entertainment; Doris Pfardrescher, president and CEO of Well Go USA; and Daniel Solnicki, EVP, Business Operations, as NBCUniversal. Stewart Till will moderate.

In addition to the speakers, about 15 delegates traveling from China will attend, including representatives from the highest levels of government and companies like Tencent.

“We are very honored to have been able to develop this program as a knowledge exchange with Film and TV Import and Export Association (FTIEA) members from China and to host a delegation from FTIEA that has traveled to Los Angeles to participate in the program with U.S. producers, distribution experts and business development executives,” Smith said.

The meeting is free for DEG members. To RSVP, or to inquire about non-member attendance, email Shannon@degonline.org.

DEG, UHD Alliance to Present 4K Ultra HD Summit

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group and the UHD Alliance have partnered to present the 4K Ultra HD Summit from 2 to 6 p.m. Nov. 6 at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles.

The 4K Ultra HD Summit will advocate and educate about the benefits of 4K Ultra HD televisions and content while highlighting the latest 4K news. The stated goal of the half-day summit is to “highlight consumer benefits of 4K Ultra HD with high dynamic range and provide information about new hardware and software products for the holiday buying season,” according to a press release announcing the event.

The program will focus on advancements in 4K UHD technology, increasing consumer adoption of the technology, ease of operation for consumers and the widening availability of content, while promoting “that the pairing of 4K Ultra HD devices and content provides the single best home viewing experience available to consumers.”

During the summit, DEG will present the Vanguard Award to a filmmaker at the forefront of using groundbreaking technology to deliver increased scale and resolution, greater contrast and dynamic range, enhanced color and immersive audio to film audiences both in cinemas and in the home theater environment.

Summit participants will include major studios and leading independent content suppliers; consumer electronics manufacturers; retailers of 4K Ultra HD devices and content; digital distribution services; the Hollywood creative community; and the Blu-ray Disc Association.

For more information, visit DEGonline.org/event/4k-ultra-hd-summit.