‘Free Guy’ Scores a Fourth Win on Vudu Chart

Free Guy, from Disney-owned 20th Century Studios, for the fourth consecutive week led the chart of the 10 most popular movies on Fandango’s transactional VOD service Vudu the week ended Oct. 24.

The film, which is available for digital purchase and rental, stars Ryan Reynolds as a bank teller who discovers he is actually a background player in an open-world video game and decides to become the hero of his own story.

Taking the No. 2 spot on the chart for the second consecutive week was MGM’s animated sequel The Addams Family 2, which debuted for premium digital rental Oct. 1. In the film featuring the voices of Charlize Theron and Oscar Isaac, Morticia and Gomez are distraught that their children are growing up.

The bronze went to the young adult romantic drama After We fell, which debuted for premium digital rental and purchase.

Dropping from No. 3 to No. 4 on the chart was Universal’s Old, M. Night Shyamalan’s latest mystery. The film about beachgoers who age prematurely is available for digital purchase and rental.

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The fifth spot went to Injustice, Warner’s latest direct-to-video animated film based on DC Comics characters. It became available for digital purchase Oct. 19.

Vudu’s top 10 titles for the week ended Oct. 24, in terms of revenue, were:

  1. Free Guy
  2. The Addams Family 2
  3. After We Fell
  4. Old
  5. Injustice
  6. Jungle Cruise
  7. The Forever Purge
  8. Old Henry
  9. Respect
  10. Copshop

Docs ‘Bowden Dynasty’ and ‘The Mustangs’ Available on VOD and EST in November From Virgil

The documentaries The Bowden Dynasty: A Story of Faith, Family & Football and The Mustangs: America’s Wild Horses will be released on VOD and EST in November by Virgil Films.

The Bowden Dynasty: A Story of Faith, Family & Football is due on VOD and EST Nov. 9. It chronicles the career of college football Coach Bobby Bowden, who fought against all odds to forge one of the greatest achievements in sports history: 14 consecutive top-four seasons. Legendary for his unyielding faith, Bowden inspired untold acts of grace and courage that changed the lives of those around him. Beginning with a come-from-behind victory in the 1988 Fiesta Bowl, Bowden’s Florida State Seminoles began a flirtation with perfection. In seven of those years they lost just one game.  More often than not, the Seminoles’ quest for a perfect season came down to one play where mere inches or seconds determined the outcome.

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Bowden passed away this past August at his Killearn Estates home surrounded by his loving family. He was 91 years old. For all the accolades bestowed upon Coach Bowden and his teams for their on-field achievements, the insider stories of the coach and his enormous impact on those around him have never been told like this. Featuring such luminaries as Bart Starr, Deion Sanders, Charlie Ward, Kenny Chesney, Burt Reynolds, Lou Holtz, Jimmy Johnson, Jim Kelly and Nick Saban, The Bowden Dynasty: A Story of Faith, Family, & Football extends beyond football, to explore universal themes of faith, stewardship, humility and redemption.

The Mustangs: America’s Wild Horses is being released on VOD and EST Nov. 23. The feature documentary is executive produced by Robert Redford, Patti Scialfa Springsteen and Jessica Springsteen and takes audiences on an odyssey throughout America to places few people have seen or even know about. There are more than 80,000 wild horses on federal lands and more than 50,000 in government.

“The wild horse is so ingrained in the American imagination that even those who have never seen one know what it stands for: fierce independence, unbridled freedom, the bedrock ideals of the nation,” Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Philipps says. “From car ads to high school mascots, the wild horse — popularly known as the mustang — is the enduring icon of America. But in modern times it has become entangled in controversy and bureaucracy, and now its future is in question.”

The movie makes the case for the protection of wild horses and public lands.

Whip Media Hires Former Warner Exec Debbie Neveu

Entertainment software platform and data provider Whip Media has hired Debbie Neveu as VP of global enterprise client success.

In this newly created role, Neveu will further develop and grow the company’s content value management (CVM) platform customer relationships, including focusing on strategy, product adoption, sales assistance, and customer retention and support.

Neveu joins Whip Media with more than two decades of experience leading the accounting and financial reporting teams at some of the biggest companies in entertainment. Prior to joining Whip Media, Neveu served as the VP of accounting, financial reporting, financial systems and financial deal review at Warner Bros., where she spearheaded more than 300 deals and led the expansion of the company’s digital business into more than 130 countries. The areas of emphasis during her 15 years at Warner Bros. included the company’s digital sellthrough, VOD, PVOD, PPV and AVOD businesses. Before joining Warner Bros., Neveu served as the director of global operations at The Walt Disney Company for Disney’s interactive video gaming business.

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“Debbie’s invaluable knowledge of the entertainment industry and proven track record of success makes her an ideal fit for Whip Media,” Saj Jayasinghe, Whip Media’s SVP of global enterprise account management, said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to have her on board, and I know our media partners will feel the same way, too.”

“As a former client, I’ve spent years partnering with Whip Media and utilizing their CVM platform to automate, scale and streamline internal studio finance, rights and avails,” Neveu said in a statement. “Now that I am part of the Whip family, I look forward to bringing this knowledge to improve the satisfaction and success of our clients while also supporting the sales and product teams to refine and expand customer offerings.”

1979 Springsteen Concerts Headed to Digital Rental and Purchase in November

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s The Legendary 1979 No Nukes Concerts will come out for digital purchase Nov. 16, and digital rental Nov. 23 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film features performances by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at the September 1979 MUSE (Musicians United for Safe Energy) benefit concerts at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The film features all 13 songs performed over two nights — 10 never before released — transferred and edited from original No Nukes film footage and restored in HD, with remixed and remastered audio.

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‘Warning’ Coming to Digital Oct. 22, Disc Oct. 26

The sci-fi thriller Warning will premiere in select theaters and for digital rental Oct. 22, and will be available to own on digital, Blu-ray and DVD Oct. 26 from Lionsgate.

Set in the not-too-distant future, the film explores the repercussions that humanity faces when omniscient technology becomes a substitute for human contact. But life begins to unravel when a global storm causes electronics to go haywire, leading to terrifying, deadly consequences.

Warning stars Thomas Jane (Deep Blue Sea), Annabelle Wallis (The Mummy), Alex Pettyfer (Magic Mike), Alice Eve (Before We Go) and Kylie Bunbury (“When They See Us”).

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OTT.X Presenters: Online Viewing Growing and Services Proliferating in COVID Era

COVID accelerated online viewing, viewing habits are undergoing a big transformation, and the proliferation of OTT services has prompted the need to aggregate and partner, research presenters said at the OTT.X Fall Summit in Los Angeles Sept. 1.

“In December 2019, before the viewing uptake [with stay-at-home orders] we saw about 68 million OTT households watching about 6.4 billion hours of OTT content in a month,” noted Ray Yinger, director of marketing solutions at Comscore. “By June of 2021, this had risen to about 82 million active OTT homes watching about 8.3 billion hours of content through OTT. Though we see a bit of a dropoff after January of 2021 as some of the states began opening up and we began leaving our homes a little bit, the number of households who engage in various OTT services stays very strong. As the data show, the overall appetite for OTT content accelerated through the pandemic. More households than ever before now engage in OTT services.”

With the increased viewership also came an explosion of OTT services.

“As of the first half of 2021, there are globally 5,000 active SVOD services, more than 2,000 active AVOD and free TV services and over 1,200 transactional services available to the global consumer,” noted Marija Masalskis, advertising research lead at Omdia.

Consumers are finding services on smart TVs and other aggregation players.

“When we asked consumers how they found something to watch, flicking through channels and services came up on top, particularly among the U.S. consumers,” Masalskis said. “So what this really means is that you need to be available on these platforms that enable this new channel flicking, enable seamless discovery of content, enable consumers to just lean back and scroll through and find your service.”

Other partnerships are key, as they offer free-with-sub bundles and prime placement.

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“Partnerships with global telcos and digital aggregators are essential, not just for SVOD companies to subsidize their offering but also to AVOD companies, particularly as you see the emergence of connected TV advertising,” she said. “In fact, we expect TV to account for 25% of all online video spend by 2025. And we do expect that partnerships and alliances will be absolutely necessary to reach the scale that will enable AVOD services to compete.”

Another key is consumers’ perception of value. Consumers are willing to pay less and wait through ads, and the higher-priced premium model isn’t necessarily most profitable for services such as Hulu.

“The user that pays a smaller subscription price but is exposed to advertising brings in more revenue than the user that is on their most premium tier opting to pay more to not see ads,” Masalskis said, adding “they perceive that they are getting a premium service for a discount.”

Also, binge viewing may be on the wane as a way to attract subscribers.

“What we started to see recently is that acquisition shows are starting to have a weekly release and retention shows are being dropped as a binge,” said Renee Engelhardt, global director of partner insights at Parrot Analytics.

Streaming services aren’t the only beneficiaries of the new order.

Nelson Granados, professor of information systems and technology management, Pepperdine University, noted that in addition to video streaming, digital video rental is holding its ground and digital sellthrough is continuing to grow (8% from 2016 to 2021).

“There is a market for electronic sellthrough and it’s growing, so there is a market for downloading content and it’s steadily growing unaffected by SVOD,” he said.

Sci-fi Horror Film ‘Toxico’ Coming to Theaters, On Demand and Digital July 23 From Level 33

The Spanish-language science-fiction horror film Toxico is coming to theaters, digital and on demand July 23 from Level 33 Entertainment.

In the film, in the middle of a mysterious insomnia epidemic that slowly takes on catastrophic dimensions, Laura and Augusto flee the city in their motorhome to get away from the chaos. As they move down the road, they discover a world that is becoming an increasingly strange and dangerous place.

The film stars Jazmín Stuart, Agustín Rittano, Victoria Cabada, Sebastian Carbone, Marcelo D’Andrea, Alejandro Jovic, Martín Carabal, Lucila Mangone, Jorge Roberto Prado and Marcelo Mininno.

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Doc ‘Fish & Men’ Swimming to DVD, VOD and Digital Sept. 14 From Virgil

The documentary Fish & Men will come out on DVD, VOD and digital sellthrough Sept. 14 from Virgil Films.

Today, 91% of fish is imported, as the United States is flooded with 6 billion tons of seafood from abroad annually. Consumers across America eat blissfully unaware of where their seafood is from, or the dire consequences of their demand for only five species of fish sourced from distant oceans.

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Fish & Men exposes the high cost of cheap fish in the modern seafood economy, and the forces threatening local fishing communities as well as the public health. The film explores a new movement underway to return sustainability to both fish and fishermen. Thriving local communities, pioneering fishermen and celebrated chefs are leading a revolutionary new model, a “Catch of the Day” revival based on local, seasonal, sustainable fish — introducing consumers to discover new varieties of storied seafood and reconnect them with those who risk their lives to harvest the bounties of the sea.

Doc ‘Far Out West: Inside California’s Kerista Commune’ Due on VOD and Digital Aug. 17 From Virgil

The documentary Far Out West: Inside California’s Kerista Commune will be available via VOD and digital sellthrough Aug. 17 from Virgil Films.

In the early 1970s, 25 free spirits found each other in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood and formed the Kerista Commune. For two decades, they lived as one family, loving freely, raising children together, and making millions selling Apple computers. But if the alternative society they built was fantastically alluring, it was also fragile, and a quarter century after they voted to dissolve their commune, the former members are still debating what their experiment can teach us about human nature, and whether their utopia was actually a cult in disguise.

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Mixed Martial Arts Story ‘Notorious Nick’ Coming to Digital Rental Aug. 6, DVD and Digital Purchase Aug. 17

The underdog mixed martial arts story Notorious Nick will be available in select theaters and for digital rental Aug. 6, and on DVD and for digital purchase Aug. 17 from Lionsgate.

Cody Christian (TV’s “All American” and “Teen Wolf”) stars in the underdog tale based on a true story. In the film, even though he was born with a partial left arm, Nick Newell (Christian) dreams of being a fighter. After wrestling in high school, Nick becomes a fierce competitor when his best friend Abi introduces him to mixed martial arts. Suddenly, a tragedy provides Nick with an unexpected opportunity.

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From a producer of BloodsportKickboxer and Death Warrant, the film also stars Barry Livingston, Elisabeth Röhm (American Hustle) and Kevin Pollak (The Usual Suspects).