FandangoNow to Host ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ Live Watch Party Today

FandangoNow, the transactional video on-demand service from Fandango, at 4 p.m. PST/7 p.m. EST is hosting a live watch party of Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog.

The watch party will feature a live Twitter commentary from the film’s stars Ben Schwartz (Sonic) and Lee Majdoub (Agent Stone) along with the film’s director Jeff Fowler exclusively on Fandango’s Twitter page, with the hashtag #SonicWatchParty.

“Sonic the Hedgehog” debuted on FandangoNow on March 31 and already ranks as one of the top-selling family titles on the service, according to FandangoNow.

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Fans can submit questions for Schwartz and Fowler at #SonicWatchParty.

Sonic is currently available to purchase on FandangoNow  at $19.99 in HD and SD and in 4K ULTRA HD at $24.99 here.

Report: Disney+ Tops App Download Chart in U.S., Netflix Globally in 2020

Disney+, which launched Nov. 12 in the United States, posted the top number of app downloads domestically while Netflix was No. 1 in app downloads globally in the first three months of 2020.

That’s according to a study by Apptopia and Braze.

Disney+ scored 14.1 million app downloads domestically while No. 2 Netflix tallied 11.9 million and No. 3 Hulu racked up 8.1 million. Globally, Netflix with 59.1 million downloads was followed by YouTube with 39.4 million and Amazon Prime Video with 27.1 million. In Europe, Netflix also ruled with 14 million downloads, followed by Amazon Prime Video with 6.6 million and YouTube with 5.8 million.

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As far as the top streaming apps by time spent in the app, YouTube Kids ruled everywhere — globally, in Europe and domestically. Coming in at No. 2 in all territories was Netflix with YouTube at No. 3. Amazon Prime Video was No. 4 globally and in Europe, while Disney+ landed at No. 4 domestically, No. 6 globally and No. 7 in Europe.

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As the coronavirus pandemic hit, March saw a 30.7% increase in streaming sessions, according to the report.

Doc ‘Refugee’ Coming to Digital April 14 From Virgil

Virgil Films will release the documentary Refugee April 14 on digital and VOD.

From the executive producer of Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11, Refugee is a harrowing account of Europe’s migrant crisis. It follows a family of Syrian refugees separated by the borders of Europe who fight to be reunited as they migrate from Syria to Germany.

In 2015, at the height of the Syrian war, Raf’aa, a Syrian mother, was forced to make the ultimate sacrifice. With her husband Nazem in the hospital, and the bombs getting closer to Qamilshi, she fled Syria to find asylum for her family, leaving Nazem and their two children Ahmed and Hamoudi behind. They had hoped to reunite in Europe within a few weeks, but by the time Nazem and the children left, it was too late. The political climate had changed and the borders to Europe were closed. Safe in Germany, Raf’aa is traumatized by what she witnessed on her journey and prays her children have not endured the same. Meanwhile 2,000 miles away, Nazem and her children live through their own nightmare in one of the worst refugee camps in Europe. Over the next 18 months, viewers witness a testament to the human spirit as the family fights to be reunited and how a father shields his children from what it means to be a refugee.

Refugee from Virgil Films on Vimeo.

 

T-Mobile Offering Customers Free Quibi Subscription

T-Mobile is offering customers a free subscription to short-content streaming service Quibi via the promotion “Quibi on Us” when the service launches on April 6.

Quibi, led by Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman, delivers content designed specifically for smartphones. All Quibi videos are 10 minutes or less and feature such stars as Jennifer Lopez, Chrissy Teigen, Liam Hemsworth and Reese Witherspoon.

Via the exclusive deal with Quibi, T-Mobile customers with two or more voice lines at standard rates on Magenta and ONE plans with taxes and fees included — along with discounted First Responder, Military and Magenta Plus 55 plans — or small business customers with up to 12 lines, can get Quibi (regularly $4.99) added to their plan at no extra cost. Customers can sign up between now and July 7 to get “Quibi on Us” by going to mytmobile.com or the T-Mobile app for iOS or Android beginning April 6. Until April 3, T-Mobile customers can sign up in the T-Mobile Tuesdays app or online for access to three bonus episodes of Jennifer Lopez’ “Thanks a Million” on April 6.

After a full year of “Quibi on Us” and “Netflix on Us,” a promotion that offers SVOD service Netflix at no cost, Un-carrier customers can choose to continue with one or the other.

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“T-Mobile customers have always been ahead of the curve — streaming more data, watching more mobile video — so when we first heard about Quibi, we knew our customers would love it,” said Mike Sievert, president and CEO of T-Mobile, in a statement. “And, with more of us staying home right now, Quibi’s never been more needed. It comes on the scene with a totally different experience, made for mobile, quick to watch and as entertaining as anything you’ve ever seen.”

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“Quibi and T-Mobile are a perfect match — we’re both changing our industries by giving our customers what they want in truly unique and innovative ways,” said Meg Whitman, CEO of Quibi, in a statement. “And, since Quibi is built for an optimal mobile experience, we chose T-Mobile as our exclusive wireless launch partner. With the only nationwide 5G network, T-Mobile was the obvious choice for our customers.”

More than 85% of mobile video streamed on T-Mobile’s network is short-form content, according to the company.

‘The Warrior Queen of Jhansi’ Due on Digital and DVD May 19 From Lionsgate

The Warrior Queen of Jhansi will arrive on digital and DVD May 19 from Lionsgate.

Based on the true story of Rani of Jhansi, the film follows the Indian queen who was a leading figure and symbol of resistance in the 1857 Indian rebellion against the British Empire. The legendary Rani (translation: queen) of Jhansi was a fearless freedom fighter who became a feminist icon in India. In the rebellion, the 24-year-old general led her people into battle against the British Empire, shifting the balance of power in the region — and setting in motion the demise of the notorious British East India Company and the beginning of the British Raj under Queen Victoria.

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Directed by Swati Bhise (one of the producers of The Man Who Knew Infinity) and co-written by Swati, her daughter Devika Bhise (Mosaic), who also stars as “Rani Lashkmi Bai,” and Olivia Emden (Hero), The Warrior Queen of Jhansi  also stars Nathaniel Parker, Rupert Everett, Ben Lamb, Jodhi May, and Derek Jacobi.

Special features include “The Making of The Warrior Queen of Jhansi” featurette, a photo gallery and the theatrical trailer.

Special Offer From Media Play News and Paramount: Digital Codes to Blockbuster ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’

Paramount Home Entertainment and Media Play News are offering 10 readers free digital codes to the more than $300 million global box office blockbuster Sonic the Hedgehog, which is being released digitally today, March 31.

The codes will be given to the first 10 people who 1) like us on Instagram, and 2) go to the Sonic the Hedgehog post on our Instagram account and in the comments answer the question, “How many tails does Sonic’s best friend have?”

You can follow us on Instagram and see the story post here.

The family film based on the video game character follows the incredibly speedy Sonic the Hedgehog (voiced by Ben Schwartz), aka The Blue Blur, who embraces his new home on Earth. That is, until he accidentally knocks out the power grid and sparks the attention of evil genius Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey). It’s super-villain vs. super-sonic in an all-out race across the globe to stop Robotnik from using his unique power for world domination. Sonic teams up with The Donut Lord, aka Sheriff Tom Wachowski (James Marsden), to save the plane.

AVOD Service Crackle April 9 Bows Original Docu-Series ‘Yelawolf: A Slumerican Life’

AVOD service Crackle April 9 will debut the original docu-series “Yelawolf: A Slumerican Life.”

The 10-part series follows hip-hop artist Yelawolf as he drifts through Southern backwaters and Northern inner cities, unlocking a world the likes of which you’ve never seen before.

Also in April, Crackle hosts the exclusives Wonders of the Sea 3-D, a science documentary narrated by Arnold Schwarzenegger and co-directed by Jean-Michel Cousteau, and Memory: The Origins of Alien, a 2019 documentary tracing the origin of the classic “Alien” franchise through the script from Dan O’Bannon, the work of James Cameron and other filmmakers, the dark arts of H.R. Giger, to the unsettling works of H.P. Lovecraft and even the mythos of ancient Greek legends.

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Thriller ‘Vivarium’ Available Now on Digital, on Disc May 12 From Lionsgate

The thriller Vivarium is available now on digital and on demand and on Blu-ray (plus digital) and DVD May 12 from Lionsgate.

The film, which had its world premiere at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, stars Academy Award nominee Jesse Eisenberg (Best Actor, The Social Network, 2010) and Imogen Poots.

Tom and Gemma (Eisenberg and Poots) are looking for the perfect home. When a strange real-estate agent takes them to Yonder, a mysterious suburban neighborhood of identical houses, Tom and Gemma can’t wait to leave. But when they try to exit the labyrinth-like housing development, each road takes them back to where they started. Soon, they realize their search for a dream home has plunged them into a terrifying nightmare.

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Special features on disc include audio commentary with director Lorcan Finnegan and executive producer Brunella Cocchiglia and the featurette “Creating the Suburban Nightmare of Vivarium.”

Comscore: OTT Streaming Grew by Double-Digit Percentages in Early March

OTT streaming has significantly increased across connected TVs and streaming boxes/sticks in recent weeks amid the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing stay-at-home measures, according to new research from Comscore.

In comparing OTT streaming behavior March 1-16 in 2019 to the same period in 2020, the research found notable year-over-year growth in both the number of households and time spent with OTT content on both connected TVs and streaming boxes/sticks.

Streaming hours grew 24% on connected TVs and 16% on streaming boxes/sticks. Overall, streaming boxes and sticks made up 56% of to-date OTT streaming hours in March 2020, and connected TVs accounted for 32%.

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The number of households grew as well comparing the two periods, with connect TV OTT households jumping 29% and streaming box/stick OTT households soaring 43%.

At the app level, the “big four” streaming services still accounted for the majority of total OTT hours viewed on both connected TV and via streaming boxes/sticks with Netflix leading both categories for March 2020.

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“Comscore’s latest information shows that the millions of Americans who are remaining indoors to comply with coronavirus public health measures are hungry for news and entertainment, and streaming options are an increasingly important piece of the consumption pie along with traditional TV,” said Bill Livek, Comscore CEO, in a statement. “Advertisers who are looking to pivot their planning to match the rapidly-changing media consumption landscape can benefit from engaging with these growing audiences.”

Comscore is providing frequent updates on its Coronavirus insights hub.

Director Touts First Feature ‘Spy Intervention’ as a Light-Hearted Fable to Counter Difficult Times

Director Drew Mylrea says his first feature Spy Intervention is a nice diversion from the economic and COVID-19 woes plaguing the world.

“Considering everything that’s going on, our movie is a romp,” he said. “It’s a total romp, and if you just want to kick back and relax and not think about the world and what’s going on in the world for an hour and a half, this is a great way to do it.”

Spy Intervention, available now on VOD and digital, comes out on DVD March 31 from Cinedigm.

It follows Corey Gage (Drew Van Acker), the world’s greatest spy, who suddenly meets the woman of his dreams (Poppy Delevingne) and decides to abandon his adventurous life and settle for the security of suburbia — a quaint existence he’s never known. When an evil plot to ruin the world pushes his former spy friend (Blake Anderson) to enact a “spy intervention,” he returns to his old life of adventure, deceiving the wife he loves.

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“We wanted to do something different,” Mylrea says. “Spy intervention isn’t a Hollywood spy film, and it’s also not a parody. It’s a modern fairytale.”

To accentuate the artificiality of the spy world versus the suburban reality, Mylrea employed shifting aspect ratios and music, among other things.

“We used a lot of the same techniques that you’d see in the really old Batman show with Adam West [for the spy scenes], and we had these models that look obviously fake and we used the same aspect ratio as a lot of those old TV shows to kind of tell the audience that this world is artificial, a silly fantasy and no place that a real person can live,” he says.

The aspect ratio shifted to a wider screen for the hero’s life with this wife.

“We filmed that in the more conventional aspect ratio, more conventional framing that you would see in a modern movie or a movie about modern relationships,” Mylrea says.

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Like any fable, Spy Intervention has a moral lesson, Mylrea says, even if it’s just to question how one navigates a life of security versus adventure.

“I think the best movies present questions, so they don’t tell you what to think,” Mylrea says. “I think the moral of the movie is kind of a question to the audience asking where do you fall on this spectrum of security versus adventure and how did you get there? Are you happy with the ratio that you have in your life?”