‘Michael Smerconish: Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Talking’ Due on DVD, EST and VOD Dec. 8 From Virgil

The documentary Michael Smerconish: Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started will come out on DVD, digital sellthrough and VOD Dec. 8 from Virgil Films.

Smerconish celebrates his 30th year as a talk radio host in this one-man performance, which is both an intimate memoir and a unique explanation of the origin of nation’s partisan divide. He regales viewers with stories that range from meeting Ronald Reagan as a newly minted voter, dining for eight hours with Fidel Castro, entertaining rock ‘n’ roll Hall of Famers’ Yes in his backyard and confronting the living members of Led Zeppelin with a demand that they reunite. Smerconish’s political journey from reliable Republican to one of the nation’s leading independent voices is both personal to him and a compelling explanation of the nation’s shift toward partisanship.

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He went to great lengths to ensure his account would come to life. The 2020 outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic coincided with the launch of what was to be a nationwide speaking tour. Tickets for a two-night Philadelphia launch sold-out in under five hours; other dates across country were about to be announced when the world went into lockdown. Undeterred, Smerconish recruited noted television director Chris Strand to oversee the recording of this onetime performance in the empty and historic Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, Pa., on a stage once graced by theater royalty including Robert Redford, Grace Kelly, Jimmy Stewart, Kevin Kline and Andrea McArdle.

The result is an engaging, informative, humorous and compelling look at America’s political landscape through the lens of a unique observer. In July of 2020, CNN aired a one-hour special featuring some of the material contained in this, the full program.

Interpret: Transactional Rentals Jumped 25%, Sales 20% From Q1 to Q2

Interpret research reported a 25% jump in U.S. digital movie rentals and a 20% leap in digital movie purchases in the second quarter of 2020 compared with the first quarter.

During the same period, the firm recorded a more than 70% jump in U.S. viewers renting movies digitally and a more than 60% leap in viewers making digital movie purchases.

“Always a strong studio revenue driver in pre-pandemic times, the home entertainment experience is for now the only show in town,” the firm stated, noting the closing of theaters during the pandemic.

Interpret’s New Media Measure showed that year-over-year from Q2 2019 to Q2 2020, the number of movies seen in theaters fell about 65%.

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“Theaters will return when movies begin to flow again out of Hollywood, but the business of movie distribution will likely be very different,” Interpret VP Brett Sappington said in a statement. “Studios will have significantly more negotiating power over theaters and control over distribution options with direct-to-consumer streaming. Theaters, one of the last bastions of traditional distribution, will now have to find a new place and role in order to survive.”

Movies Anywhere Tallies More Than 10 Million Registered Users

Celebrating its three-year anniversary this October, digital locker service Movies Anywhere has surpassed 10 million registered users, with more than 280 million movies collected to date.

GM Karin Gilford attributes the growth of the platform to a dramatic shift in consumer preference toward digital movies.

“Movie lovers want a way to quickly and easily access their film collection,” Gilford said in a statement. “In addition to bringing movie fans’ collections together in one convenient app, our recently-added features like Screen Pass and co-viewing allow our users to share their love of movies with friends and family, even while apart.”

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The service has found Movies Anywhere users like to watch movies on big screens, with the number of users utilizing the service on their TV growing 68% over the past three years, with 104% growth in hours watched. Average hours watched per person on TVs increased 11%, with the biggest lifts seen on TVOS and Android TV.

Also, the service has found “mega-purchasers” (those who purchased 24-plus movies in the past 12 months) are on the rise, growing 37% in the last three years. Among these mega-purchasers, average movie hours watched in-app has grown significantly, with 94% more hours watched on average in 2020 versus 2017.

The service has also observed trends among Movies Anywhere users leading up to Halloween (based on digital spooky movie purchases and time spent viewing Oct. 12-31, 2017 and Sept. 13-Oct. 2, 2020):

  • As Halloween gets closer, users prefer to purchase horror and suspense films over spooky family films. Only one out of these top 10 purchased spooky films were family-friendly in 2020, with only two out of the top 10 being family-friendly in 2017.
  • But as far as top-watched films go, family-friendly films Hotel Transylvania and Hotel Transylvania 2 hit the top 10 most-hours-watched both in 2020 and in 2017.
  • Three Stephen King films — It: Chapter Two, The Shining and Doctor Sleep — were among the top purchased spooky films in 2020, compared to 2017 when author’s It miniseries and The Shining were on the top-purchased list.
  • In 2020, three classics made the top 10 with the most purchases on Movies Anywhere: The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Psycho and The Shining. In 2017, A Nightmare on Elm Street was in the top 10.
  • On Halloween day in 2017, Annabelle Creation saw the most purchases and Hotel Transylvania was the most-watched movie.

 

Top 10 purchased spooky films for the 2020 period (Sept. 13-Oct. 2, 2020):

  1. Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride
  2. The Rocky Horror Picture Show
  3. The Invisible Man (2020)
  4. Psycho
  5. It: Chapter Two
  6. Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island
  7. You Should Have Left
  8. Halloween (2018)
  9. The Shining
  10. Doctor Sleep

 

Top 10 most-hours-watched spooky films for the 2020 period (Sept. 13-Oct. 2, 2020):

  1. Hotel Transylvania 3
  2. Hotel Transylvania 2
  3. Hotel Transylvania
  4. It Chapter Two
  5. It: Chapter One
  6. Zombieland: Double Tap
  7. Halloween (2018)
  8. The Invisible Man (2020)
  9. Alien: Covenant
  10. Doctor Sleep

 

Top 10 purchased spooky films for the 2017 period (Oct. 12-31, 2017):

  1. Annabelle: Creation
  2. Alien Covenant
  3. Stephen King’s It
  4. Get Out
  5. Hotel Transylvania
  6. A Nightmare on Elm Street
  7. Hotel Transylvania 2
  8. Annabelle
  9. Zombieland
  10. Underworld: Blood Wars

 

Top 10 most-hours-watched spooky films for the 2017 period (Oct. 12-31, 2017):

  1. Hotel Transylvania
  2. Hotel Transylvania 2
  3. Annabelle: Creation
  4. Alien: Covenant
  5. ParaNorman
  6. Stephen King’s It
  7. Get Out
  8. Dark Shadows
  9. Zombieland
  10. Underworld: Blood Wars

Doc ‘Stripped: Los Angeles’ Available for Digital Sale and Rental on Mill Creek’s MovieSpree, Amazon

The documentary feature Stripped: Los Angeles, which profiles the lives and experiences of top exotic and private dancers in Los Angeles, is available for digital sale and rental on Mill Creek Entertainment’s movieSpree transactional VOD service and on Amazon Instant Video.

The stereotype-shattering exposé provides an all-access pass into the lives and experiences of five talented and multi-faceted women. Hailing from the Valley to the Coast, Della, Nikki, Bama, Sizi and Erica are not afraid to share their struggles with embracing their sexuality around this historically taboo profession. From the main stage through the digital age, their raw ambition drives them to be among the top dancers in the city of Los Angeles.

The film is also slated to premiere on Starz on Oct. 5 at 9 p.m. ET.

“These are voices that need to be heard and stories deserving to be told,” filmmaker Marc Ostrick said in a statement. “Whether it’s entrepreneurial or escapism, these women are in control of their bodies and their livelihood and the intent of this feature is to de-stigmatize what it means to be an exotic dancer.”

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Ostrick is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker with more than 25 years of producing, directing and writing achievements. His recent environmental TV documentary work is part of Discovery Channel’s international “Shark Week” franchise and has also worked with Imax production company MacGillivray Freeman Films.

‘Antebellum’ Tops Vudu, FandangoNow Charts

The premium VOD release Antebellum led both the Vudu and FandangoNow charts for the week ended Sept. 20.

Both are transactional video-on-demand services owned by Fandango.

From Lionsgate and QC Entertainment — the producer of Get Out and Us Antebellum stars Janelle Monáe in a thriller about a successful author who finds herself trapped on a 19th century slave plantation.

Another Lionsgate title, The Secret: Dare to Dream, which became available for digital sale Sept. 15 after a PVOD run, took the No. 2 spot on the Vudu chart and landed at No. 3 on the FandangoNow chart. The dramatic romance stars Katie Holmes and Josh Lucas and is based on the best-selling book The Secret.

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Meanwhile, Bill & Ted Face the Music, the third installment in the iconic comedy series starring Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter, took the bronze on the Vudu chart and the silver on the FandangoNow chart after remaining at No. 1 on both for three consecutive weeks.

Vudu’s top 10 titles for the week ended Sept. 20, in terms of revenue, were:

  1. Antebellum
  2. The Secret: Dare to Dream
  3. Bill & Ted Face the Music
  4. Cats and Dogs 3: Paws Unite
  5. Alone
  6. The Tax Collector
  7. Trolls World Tour
  8. Beetlejuice
  9. The Owners
  10. The Silencing

FandangoNow’s top 10 titles for the week ended Sept. 20, in terms of revenue, were:

  1. Antebellum
  2. Bill & Ted Face the Music
  3. The Secret: Dare to Dream
  4. Alone
  5. The Tax Collector
  6. The King of Staten Island
  7. Fatima
  8. Blackbird
  9. Trolls World Tour
  10. The Grizzlies

‘Tax Collector’ Again Tops FandangoNow and Vudu Charts

The Tax Collector, starring Bobby Soto and Shia LaBeouf, was the top movie for a third consecutive week on both the FandangoNow and Vudu charts.

Both are transactional video-on-demand services owned by Fandango.

Ruling the chart for the week ended Aug. 23, The Tax Collector, released by RLJ Entertainment through digital retailers Aug. 7, stars LaBeouf and Soto as “tax collectors” working for a Los Angeles crime lord who find their safety threatened by a rival of their boss. The title is available at both digital retailers for rental and purchase.

Coming in at No. 2 on both charts was Lionsgate’s thriller The Silencing. The film follows a reformed hunter living in isolation on a wildlife sanctuary who becomes involved in a deadly game of cat and mouse as he and a local sheriff set out to track a killer who may have kidnapped his daughter years ago. The title is available at both retailers for rental and purchase.

Taking the bronze on FandangoNow’s chart was Paramount’s The Vanished. Starring Thomas Jane, Anne Heche and Jason Patric, the thriller follows a couple whose vacation turns into a nightmare when their daughter disappears. The title is available at both FandangoNow and Vudu (where it came in at No. 6) for rental and purchase.

Universal’s animated family film Trolls World Tour landed at No. 3 on Vudu’s chart and No. 7 on FandangoNow’s chart for the week.

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FandangoNow’s top 10 titles for the week ended Aug. 23, in terms of revenue, were:

  1. The Tax Collector
  2. The Silencing
  3. The Vanished
  4. Emperor
  5. The Secret: Dare to Dream
  6. The King of Staten Island
  7. Trolls World Tour
  8. Irresistible
  9. Scoob!
  10. The 24th

 

Vudu’s top 10 titles for the week ended Aug. 23, in terms of revenue, were:

  1. The Tax Collector
  2. The Silencing
  3. Trolls World Tour
  4. Irresistible
  5. The King of Staten Island
  6. The Vanished
  7. Superman: Man of Tomorrow
  8. Sputnik
  9. Homefront
  10. The Secret: Dare to Dream

The Blech Effect: The Rise and Fall of the King of Biotech

DIGITAL REVIEW:

Street Date 8/25/20;
Virgil;
Documentary;
Not Rated.

Spectacular highs and lows are the stuff of great stories, and the true tale of investor David Blech spans both — fantastic financial gains and incredible losses.

The documentary The Blech Effect: The Rise and Fall of the King of Biotech chronicles the journey of man known for starting multiple biotech companies that have helped countless people and generated enormous wealth. As Blech himself admits in the film, if only he were in a coma for the last 15 years, he would be a multi-billionaire. Forbes Magazine once pegged his worth at more than $300 million, and he was on the Fortune 400 list. He became known as the “King of Biotech” and his influence on the market coined the term “The Blech Effect.”

But he couldn’t hold onto it. Bipolar disorder and a gambling addiction — what Blech terms a “manic push” — kept him constantly looking for the next big thing.

“When you do things that are outrageous, outrageous things happen to you,” Blech says in the film, calling his life a cautionary tale.

The documentary catches up with Blech at a low point, $11 million in debt, struggling to keep his family afloat and awaiting a jail sentence for his latest hijinks on Wall Street. His wife also struggles to keep him from spiraling into depression, as she looks after their son, who has been developmentally disadvantaged since birth. At one point, Blech notes that every time he sees one of those ubiquitous Cialis commercials, he is reminded of one of the companies he fostered and the money that eluded his grasp — money that could help him stay in his apartment and take care of his wife and son.

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Blech is looking for another big score with a company working on an Alzheimer’s drug that might just solve all his problems. Viewers experience the hope and anxiety about its success along with the couple — offering a taste of the rollercoaster ride Blech has been on much of his adult life.

Will it be the success that gets him out of the jam he’s in or will he have to face ultimate failure?

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Ultimately, The Blech Effect, like a classic tragedy, celebrates the talents and pride of its hero while revealing his fatal flaws. The fact that Blech ultimately comes to terms with his fate — and his responsibility for it — gives the story an added poignancy.

‘Tax Collector’ Tops FandangoNow Chart

The Tax Collector, starring Bobby Soto and Shia LaBeouf, topped FandangoNow’s chart for the week ended Aug. 9.

FandangoNow is Fandango’s transactional video-on-demand service.

In the RLJ Films action drama, available for digital purchase at $14.99 and rental at $6.99 for 30 days, Soto and La Beouf play “tax collectors” for a crime lord, collecting his cut from local gangs. When a rival boss arrives, David’s (LaBeouf) family is threatened.

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Coming in at No. 2 on the chart was Lionsgate’s The Secret: Dare to Dream, starring Katie Holmes and Josh Lucas and inspired by the best-selling book The Secret. The film is available for digital rental at $19.99 for 30 days.

Taking the bronze was Universal’s You Should Have Left, a horror thriller starring Kevin Bacon and Amanda Seyfriend. The film is available for digital purchase at $14.99 and rental at $5.99 for 30 days.

The service’s top 10 titles for the week ended Aug. 9, in terms of revenue, were as follows:

  1. The Tax Collector
  2. The Secret: Dare to Dream
  3. You Should Have Left
  4. The Secret Garden
  5. Trolls World Tour
  6. Deep Blue Sea 3
  7. The Outpost
  8. Scoob!
  9. Jumanji: The Next Level
  10. The Invisible Man

Doc ‘The Blech Effect’ Coming to VOD and EST Aug. 25 From Virgil

The documentary The Blech Effect: The Rise and Fall of the King of Biotech will come out on VOD and electronic sellthrough Aug. 25 from Virgil Films.

The film chronicles the life of David Blech, who would be a multi-billionaire — if only he were in a coma for the last 15 years. In his early 20s, David was a pioneer investor in biotech companies and helped create an industry that has grown to be on the cutting edge of the world’s greatest medical cures, saving countless lives. Blech’s wealth grew with the industry. According to Forbes Magazine, he was once worth more than $300 million, and he was on the Fortune 400 list. He became known as the “King of Biotech” and his influence on the market coined the term “The Blech Effect.” But Blech struggled with bipolar disorder and a gambling addiction. He once hoped to be remembered for helping to create an industry that saves lives; instead he ended up $11 million in debt, struggling to keep his family afloat and awaiting a jail sentence.

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The Blech Effect follows a protagonist all too self-aware yet still unable to control his worst impulses, a wife and mother who is both a saint and enabler, and a beloved child heartbreaking in his beauty and disability.

‘Scoob!’ Rolling Out Internationally in July Via Theatrical and Premium In-Home Release

Warner Bros. Pictures will roll out Scoob! internationally via a combination of theatrical exhibition and premium in-home release through premium VOD and premium digital ownership.

The international theatrical release will begin on July 8 in France, Holland and Switzerland, with additional countries rolling out over the summer months.

Premium home offerings will begin on July 1 in Australia and New Zealand.

With theaters closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the animated Scoob! debuted for both rental via PVOD and for digital ownership in the U.S. and Canada May 15. The film is now the No. 2 digital release of all time and the No. 1 digital release for Warner Bros., according to the studio. Scoob! June 26 became available in the U.S. on WarnerMedia’s recently launched streaming service HBO Max.

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“Our decision to release Scoob! as an in-home offering in May came during an unprecedented time in history, and we are delighted by the success of the film and the way it was embraced by long-time fans of this iconic character, families and children,” said Ron Sanders, president of worldwide theatrical distribution and home entertainment, and EVP of international business operations for Warner. “Following its strong domestic debut, our international strategy will combine both theatrical and in-home releases to make it easily accessible to worldwide audiences.”

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The film, which will be released on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray July 21 in the U.S., recounts the meeting of Scooby-Doo and his best pal Shaggy, and how they joined with young detectives Fred, Velma and Daphne to form Mystery Inc. Now, after hundreds of adventures, Scooby and the gang encounter the larger world of the Hanna-Barbera universe, teaming with Blue Falcon and Dynomutt to stop Dick Dasterdly from unleashing the legendary ghost dog Cerberus upon the world. The voice cast includes Will Forte, Mark Wahlberg, Jason Isaacs, Gina Rodriguez, Zac Efron, Amanda Seyfried, Kiersey Clemons, Ken Jeong, Tracy Morgan, Simon Cowell and Frank Welker.