Restored 1970 Beatles Film ‘Let It Be’ Streaming on Disney+ May 8

Disney+ April 16 announced that Let It Be, director Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s 1970 film about The Beatles, will stream exclusively on Disney+ May 8 restored by Peter Jackson’s production company.

This is the first time the film is available in more than 50 years, according to the Disney+ press release.

First released in May 1970 amidst the swirl of The Beatles’ breakup, Let It Be, once viewed through a darker lens, is now brought to light through its restoration and in the context of revelations brought forth in Peter Jackson’s multiple Emmy Award-winning docuseries “The Beatles: Get Back.” Released on Disney+ in 2021, the docuseries showcases the iconic foursome’s warmth and camaraderie, capturing a pivotal moment in music history.

Let It Be contains footage not featured in the “Get Back” docuseries, bringing viewers into the studio and onto Apple Corps’ London rooftop in January 1969 as The Beatles, joined by Billy Preston, write and record their Grammy Award-winning album Let It Be, with its Academy Award-winning title song, and perform live for the final time as a group.

With the release of “The Beatles: Get Back,” fan clamour for the original Let It Be film reached a fever pitch, according to the press release. With Lindsay-Hogg’s support, Apple Corps asked Peter Jackson’s Park Road Post Production to dive into a meticulous restoration of the film from the original 16mm negative, which included remastering the sound using the same MAL de-mix technology that was applied to the “Get Back” docuseries.

Let It Be was ready to go in October/November 1969, but it didn’t come out until April 1970,” Lindsay-Hogg said in a statement. “One month before its release, The Beatles officially broke up. And so the people went to see Let It Be with sadness in their hearts, thinking, ‘I’ll never see The Beatles together again. I will never have that joy again,’ and it very much darkened the perception of the film. But, in fact, how often do you get to see artists of this stature working together to make what they hear in their heads into songs? And then you get to the roof, and you see their excitement, camaraderie, and sheer joy in playing together again as a group and know, as we do now, that it was the final time, and we view it with the full understanding of who they were and still are and a little poignancy. I was knocked out by what Peter was able to do with ‘Get Back,’ using all the footage I’d shot 50 years previously.”

“I’m absolutely thrilled that Michael’s movie, Let It Be, has been restored and is finally being re-released after being unavailable for decades,” Peter Jackson said in a statement. “I was so lucky to have access to Michael’s outtakes for ‘Get Back,’ and I’ve always thought that Let It Be is needed to complete the ‘Get Back’ story. Over three parts, we showed Michael and The Beatles filming a groundbreaking new documentary, and Let It Be is that documentary — the movie they released in 1970. I now think of it all as one epic story, finally completed after five decades. The two projects support and enhance each other: Let It Be is the climax of ‘Get Back,’ while ‘Get Back’ provides a vital missing context for Let It Be. Michael Lindsay-Hogg was unfailingly helpful and gracious while I made ‘Get Back,’ and it’s only right that his original movie has the last word … looking and sounding far better than it did in 1970.”

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Let It Be features John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, with a special appearance by Billy Preston. The film was produced by Neil Aspinall with The Beatles acting as executive producers. The director of photography was Anthony B Richmond.

‘Queen Rock Montreal,’ Marvel Films to Bow on Disney+ May 15 With Imax Enhanced Sound

Following its Imax exclusive event release, Queen Rock Montreal will make its global streaming premiere May 15 on Disney+ as the first concert film available with Imax Enhanced sound powered by DTS. It will debut alongside the availability of Imax Enhanced sound for 18 Marvel films. 

Disney+ is the first major streaming service to augment the at-home viewing experience with Imax Enhanced, according to the announcement from Disney+, Imax Corp., and DTS, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Xperi Inc. With Imax Enhanced, Imax and technology partner DTS enable content that can be experienced in-home with the highest fidelity, ensuring that filmmakers’ creative intent is fully optimized for an Imax-quality presentation, according to the announcement.

“DTS:X, provided by DTS, preserves the full dynamic range of the theatrical mix, allowing sound to move freely around the listener for a more immersive presentation at home,” according to the press release.

The feature is available to subscribers on Imax Enhanced-certified devices, beginning with select DTS:X enabled Android/Google TV devices from Sony, Hisense, Sharp, Xiaomi, and others. Additionally, owners of certified DTS:X enabled AV receivers from manufacturers such as Denon, Marantz, and JBL will also be able to enjoy the experience at launch.

Queen Rock Montreal presents Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon from the original concerts, which took place on Nov. 24 and 25, 1981, which were arranged specifically to be filmed for a full-length concert film to document their live show. The film was restored for Imax by Mercury Studios. 

Select Marvel Studios films available with Imax Enhanced sound on Disney+ at launch will include:

Ant-Man and the Wasp Doctor Strange
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Avengers: Infinity War Eternals
Avengers: Endgame Guardians of the Galaxy (Vol. 2)
Black Panther Guardians of the Galaxy (Vol. 3)
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever The Marvels
Black Widow Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Captain America: Civil War Thor: Ragnarok
Captain Marvel Thor: Love & Thunder

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Nielsen: ‘Taylor Swift Concert Movie’ Ranked No. 8 in Weekly Streaming Debut Through March 17

The streaming VOD debut of Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour (Taylor’s Version) concert movie on Disney+ generated 677 million viewing minutes across U.S. household televisions after four days, to rank No. 8 overall through March 17, according to new data from Nielsen.

The Eras Tour streaming was driven by an audience that was 70% female across all age ranges (the 18-34 demo had the highest concentration of viewing with 26%). The concert film also finished No. 2 on the movie chart, behind the former chart topper, the Netflix fantasy actioner Damsel, with more than 1.5 billion minutes viewed.

The Netflix original “The Gentleman” topped all content with the action-comedy crime drama upping viewership 54% to 1.86 billion minutes from from its previous-week (March 10) debut of 1.2 billion minutes.

Despite maintaining nearly the same amount of viewing minutes (1.44 billion) from the previous week, the Netflix reality dating show “Love Is Blind” rounded out the overall podium at No. 3, while finishing No. 2 on the originals chart.

The acquired Disney+ animated children’s series “Bluey” again topped the billion-minute mark with 1.06 billion viewing minutes to take No. 4 overall.

The Peacock original mystery-drama miniseries “Apples Never Fall” finished at No. 6 on the originals chart with 476 million viewing minutes through its seven episodes. The series is based on a novel by Liane Moriarty, who also wrote “Big Little Lies” and “Nine Perfect Strangers,” which were adapted for TV by HBO and Hulu, respectively. “Nine Perfect Strangers” first charted on the originals list in August 2021 during its first season. “Big Little Lies” did not put out any new episodes after July 2019, and Nielsen did not begin reporting Max streaming data until May 2022.

Lastly, the finale episode of “Masters of the Air” on Apple TV+ pushed the series back into the top 10 on the originals chart with 330 million viewing minutes.

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Bob Iger: Disney+ Launching First ‘Real Foray’ Into Password-Sharing Crackdown in June, Full Rollout in September

Disney plans to launch official crackdowns on password sharing among its branded subscription streaming video platforms, led by Disney+ in June in select markets, with a full rollout planned in September, CEO Bob Iger told CNBC’s morning business show, “Squawk on the Street.”

“We’ll be launching our first real foray into password sharing,” Iger said. “But it will grow significantly [thereafter].”

While Iger did not identify which markets would begin clamping down on subscribers sharing their passwords with non-paying friends, the move aims to emulate Netflix’s successful crackdown, which has prompted growth in the streamer’s ad-supported plan, as well as lower-cost add-on memberships.

Iger said Netflix remains the gold standard in streaming, suggesting he would “certainly” be fine being second to Netflix, but that’s “not necessarily the goal.”

“They’ve done a phenomenal job in a lot of directions,” he said. “I actually have very high regard for what they have accomplished. If we could only accomplish what they’ve accomplished, that would be great.”

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Those goals include double-digit margins in the DTC market (like Netflix has), improving content recommendations to reduce churn, increasing stickiness, and reducing the cost of customer acquisition and marketing.

Iger said that when he returned as CEO of Disney (replacing his successor Bob Chapek on Nov. 20, 2022), the DTC was losing $4 billion a year, due to what he says was a strategy of chasing sub growth at the expense of the bottom line.

“It was clear that was not sustainable — and not acceptable,” he said.

The executive said the business has turned things around since then, with expectations that the DTC segment will turn its first profit in the fourth quarter this year.

“That’s a huge improvement. And we know exactly how we delivered that improvement,” Iger said.

Specifically, the CEO believes improving subscriber engagement, content recommendations, and time on the platforms are the keys to streaming success.

“We just launched Hulu on Disney+, which just came out of beta on [last] Friday, and I can tell you it’s doing extremely well,” he said, adding that recent strong viewership for the original historical drama “Shogun” supports the strategy.

“We know what we have to do, and we start with a very strong hand [with Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel, Hulu, 20th Century Studios, etc.],” Iger said. “We have the goods. Now he have to execute. We know what it takes to be successful in streaming. And not everybody has that. And not everybody can get that.”

Disney+ Turns the Spotlight on Mother Earth With Month-Long ‘ourHOME’ Campaign

The Walt Disney Co. and National Geographic on April 1 announced a global cross-platform campaign, “ourHOME,” timed to coincide with Earth Month.

Disney+ will mark the occasion with the launch of an “ourHOME” content collection, featuring storytellers and content creators celebrating the planet, including the series “Queens,” “A Real Bug’s Life,” and “Incredible Animal Journeys,” along with the full library of Disneynature films.
 
Additionally, on Earth Day, April 22, Disney+ will stream the latest installment in Nat Geo’s Emmy Award-winning “Secrets Of …” franchise, “Secrets of the Octopus,” narrated by Paul Rudd. Also streaming on Disney+ is Disneynature’s new feature film Tiger, narrated by Priyanka Chopra Jonas, which journeys alongside a young tigress raising her rambunctious cubs in the forests of India.

The campaign also will include “ourHOME”-themed programming across the National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo WILD, Nat Geo MUNDO, the Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Freeform, FX and FXX.

A dedicated “ourHOME” spot featuring the voice of Morgan Freeman will air throughout the month across all Disney networks, Disney-owned television stations and select digital platforms.

The campaign also will include various events and activations at Disney Parks, as well as social media and digital components, many of them highlighting Disney’s charitable and sustainability initiatives.

Report: 85% of European Streaming Viewership Generated by Netflix, Prime Video and Disney+

U.S. subscription streaming video services have a stranglehold on European viewers. About 85% of viewing time is generated by Netflix, Prime Video and Disney+, with U.S. content systematically over-consumed and European works under-consumed, according to new data from two reports published by the European Audiovisual Observatory, part of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France.

The reports, “SVOD Use in the European Union” and “Film and TV Content on TVOD, SVOD, AVOD Catalogs,”  are based on SVOD viewing time data in nine countries: Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and Sweden from September 2022 to September 2023.

The report found that European produced content accounted for 30% of all SVOD viewing time, including 21% for European Union content, 9% for U.K. content, and 1% for other European content.

European made movies and TV shows accounted for 31% of all content in VOD catalogs in 25 member states of the European Union, with EU content representing 21% and other European works 10% (32% in TVOD, 31% in SVOD and 26% in AVOD catalogs).

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For all types of VOD catalogs, European non-national works represented the majority of EU27 works, with 64% of all EU27 works in TVOD catalogs being of EU non-national origin, 78% in SVOD and 67% in AVOD.

VOD movies and TV shows in France, Germany, Italy and Spain rely more on national works for their content offering, with 64% of all content in France being of national origin, while VOD content in lower volume production countries rely mostly on non-national content. For example, just 1% of VOD content offered in Bulgaria in locally made.

Disney Launches Hulu Content on the Disney+ App in the U.S.

The Walt Disney Co. March 27 announced the official launch of Hulu on Disney+ in the United States, merging together Disney’s branded SVOD platform with Hulu content on one app priced at $9.99 monthly. The integration aims to make it easier for subscribers to find general entertainment titles without having to move between separate apps.

Disney+ and Hulu remain separately available (without ads) priced at $13.99 and $17.99, respectively. The services’ ad-supported options remain priced at $7.99 each, while the Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+ bundle remains priced at $14.99 monthly. For existing standalone Disney+ subscribers, access to Hulu content for additional devices can be acquired for a $2 monthly upcharge.

The roll out features new branding for Disney+, including a refined logo and color palette and an orchestral mnemonic created by Academy Award-winning composer Ludwig Göransson. The new logo also blends Hulu’s signature green into the legacy Disney+ blue.

“Today’s official launch gives viewers more opportunities to discover thousands of titles all in one place,” Joe Earley, president of direct-to-consumer, Disney Entertainment, said in a statement.

Aaron LaBerge, president, CTO, Disney Entertainment and ESPN said the integration marks the most significant technical, operational, and product evolution for Disney+ since its 2019 launch.

“This is going to drive an enhanced, more engaging user experience with Disney+ and lays the foundation for the innovations and enhancements we are planning for the future,” LaBerge said in a statement.

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Disney+ Bows Trailer for First-Ever New Animated ‘Bluey Special’ Streaming April 14

Disney March 25 unveiled the trailer for “The Sign,” the first extended-length animated special of the popular children’s series “Bluey,” premiering April 14 on Disney+, Disney Junior, and the Disney Channel. The week prior, on April 7, a new standard-length episode, “Ghostbasket,” will premiere on the three platforms.

“Bluey,” which is created by the Australian-based Ludo Studio, airs and streams to U.S. and global audiences (outside of Australia, New Zealand and China) across Disney platforms through a global broadcasting deal between BBC Studios Kids & Family and Disney Branded Television.

The series in 2024 remains the No. 1 most-streamed series across all audiences, and the No. 1 series for preschoolers and kids overall in the United States, according to Nielsen.

“The Sign” is the longest episode ever of the global hit TV show. Dave McCormack and Melanie Zanetti reprise their voice roles as Bandit and Chilli Heeler, and Patrick Brammall returns as the voice of Uncle Rad, Claudia O’Doherty as Frisky, alongside Megan Washington as Calypso, Myf Warhurst as Trixie, and Rose Byrne as Aunt Brandy. Making their “Bluey” voice debut, this special episode introduces Rove McManus, Deborah Mailman, Brendan Williams and Joel Edgerton.

Created and written by Joe Brumm, the series follows Bluey, an inexhaustible Blue Heeler dog who lives with her Mum, Dad, and little sister, Bingo. Bluey uses her limitless energy to play games that unfold in unpredictable and hilarious ways, bringing her family and the whole neighborhood into her world of fun.

Both new episodes will air first via ABC Kids in Australia and then roll out globally the same day across Disney platforms (with the exception of China and New Zealand).

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Disney+ Debuts Trailer and Key Art for ‘Star Wars: The Acolyte,’ Due June 4

Disney+ March 19 debuted the first trailer and key art for Lucasfilm’s new original series “Star Wars: The Acolyte.”

The live-action series launches on June 4, with the first two episodes, exclusively on Disney+.

In “Star Wars: The Acolyte,” an investigation into a shocking crime spree pits a respected Jedi Master (Lee Jung-jae) against a dangerous warrior from his past (Amandla Stenberg). As more clues emerge, they travel down a dark path where sinister forces reveal all is not what it seems.

The series stars Amandla Stenberg, Lee Jung-jae, Manny Jacinto, Dafne Keen, Charlie Barnett, Jodie Turner-Smith, Rebecca Henderson, Dean-Charles Chapman, Joonas Suotamo and Carrie-Anne Moss.

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Leslye Headland created the series, based on “Star Wars” by George Lucas, and serves as an executive producer along with Kathleen Kennedy, Simon Emanuel, Jeff F. King and Jason Micallef. Charmaine DeGraté and Kor Adana are the co-executive producers. Rayne Roberts, Damian Anderson, Eileen Shim and Rob Bredow are the producers.

Award-winning composer Michael Abels, known for his work on Get Out and Us, scored “Star Wars: The Acolyte.”

 

‘Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour (Taylor’s Version)’ No. 1 Music Movie Ever on Disney+ With 4.6 Million Views in 72 Hours

The Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour concert movie generated the most viewers ever (4.6 million in 72 hours) for a music-based film on the Disney+ streaming platform, according to Disney, which reportedly paid $75 million for the exclusive streaming rights.

Over the weekend, the 3.5 hour concert film generated 16.2 million viewing hours.

Disney+ subscribers were able to see performances of new songs such as “cardigan” as well as four additional acoustic songs: “Maroon,” “Death by a Thousand Cuts,” “You Are in Love” and “I Can See You.”

The 14-time Grammy-winning artist’s concert movie grossed a record-breaking $262 million at the global box office. Other concert movies streaming on Disney+ include Elton John: Farewell from Dodger StadiumBlack Is King: A Film by Beyoncé, and The Beatles: Get Back.

To commemorate the premiere of Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour (Taylor’s Version), Disney+ had a Swift takeover on the film’s debut day with the service’s home page featuring sets of titles inspired by each of the singer’s performing eras.

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