Gravitas Ventures Launches Indie Film SVOD Service

Gravitas Ventures has bowed a subscription-based over-the-top video service – dubbed GravitasMovies.com – offering its branded slate of indie films for $4.99 a month.

The service aims to fill the void left by WarnerMedia’s shuttered FilmStruck platform, in addition to competing services such as Fandor.com, Shout! Factory TV, Shudder, Tribeca Shortlist and Le Cinema Club, among other services catering to fans of eclectic content.

GravitasMovies.com launched with about 1,000 titles available on Comcast Cable’s Xfinity X1, Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire, among other Android and iOS devices.

“At Gravitas we have always taken pride in being a distributor that can connect the artist and the consumer,” Michael Murphy, president of the 13-year-old distributor, said in a statement. “By launching our SVOD service, we are taking the next step in bringing our vast young library of films to a global audience.”

Gravitas was acquired in 2017 by Red Arrow Studios – a unit of Germany’s ProSiebenSat.1 Media.

“Given the volume, diversity of programming, and refresh rate, we have one of the best value propositions in the marketplace today for fans of independent films and documentaries and plan to keep the offering fresh and new for years to come,” said Murphy.

 

Criterion Collection Sets April 8 Launch Date for SVOD Service

The Criterion Channel, a new classic movie streaming service, has set an official launch date of April 8 in the United States and Canada and will be available on desktop, Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku, iOS, and Android devices.

The streaming service will feature more than 1,000 classic and contemporary art-house films, at a subscription price of $10.99 per month or $99.99 for an annual subscription. Those who sign up before the launch date can do so at a discounted rate of $9.99 per month or $89.99 per year.

Further sweetening the charter subscription offer is a 30-day free trial as well as access to a members-only Movie of the Week between now and launch.

Criterion says the new streaming service (criterionchannel.com) will give subscribers access to “constantly refreshed selections of Hollywood, international, art-house, and independent movies, plus access to Criterion’s entire streaming library of more than 1,000 important classic and contemporary films from around the world.”

Movies in Criterion Collection’s library include Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth, the Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night and David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive.

The company said the service will offer “constantly refreshed selections” of Hollywood, international, art-house, and independent movies. Criterion Channel also will include a Sunday Spotlight feature, focusing on a different director, star, genre, or theme as well as exclusive content like guest programmer series Adventures in Moviegoing, Tuesday’s Short + Feature, the Friday Night Double Feature, Meet the Filmmakers, Art-House America, and Observations on Film Art (billed as a 15-minute-per-month film school).

As reported last November by Media Play News, subscriber pushback over the shuttering of the Turner Classic Movies SVOD service FilmStruck led The Criterion Collection to announced plans to launch its own freestanding service in spring 2019 through a special arrangement with WarnerMedia.

Wholly owned and controlled by the Criterion Collection, the independent Criterion Channel will pick up where it left off as an add-on to the FilmStruck service, with thematic programming, regular filmmaker spotlights, and actor retrospectives, featuring major classics and hard-to-find titles from Hollywood and around the world, complete with special features, including  commentaries, behind-the-scenes footage and original documentaries.

The library of films will also be part of WarnerMedia’s recently announced direct-to-consumer platform slated to launch in the fourth quarter of 2019. WarnerMedia shut down FilmStruck Nov. 29.

Criterion Collection Launching Streaming Service as FilmStruck Alternative

Following subscriber pushback regarding the shuttering of Turner Classic Movies SVOD service FilmStruck, The Criterion Collection announced it will launch its own freestanding service in spring 2019 through a special arrangement with WarnerMedia.

Wholly owned and controlled by the Criterion Collection, the independent Criterion Channel will pick up where it left off as an add-on to the FilmStruck service, with thematic programming, regular filmmaker spotlights, and actor retrospectives, featuring major classics and hard-to-find titles from Hollywood and around the world, complete with special features, including  commentaries, behind-the-scenes footage and original documentaries.

The venerable library of films will also be part of WarnerMedia’s recently announced direct-to-consumer platform slated to launch in the fourth quarter of 2019. WarnerMedia is shutting down FilmStruck Nov. 29.

WarnerMedia — formed following AT&T’s $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner — announced the pending service “ensures that fans” have access to not only films from the Criterion Collection but also WarnerMedia’s extensive library “in what will be a rich and curated experience, which will further expand the audience footprint for these classic and acclaimed movies.”

Indeed, when news broke about the demise of FilmStruck, no less than Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese, among other industry heavyweights, reportedly contacted WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey personally asking about an alternative solution.

Criterion’s new service will continue to produce guest programmer series “Adventures in Moviegoing,” which has featured cinephile luminaries such as Barry Jenkins, Guillermo del Toro, Bill Hader and Mira Nair. Criterion’s monthly 15-minute film school “Observations on Film Art,” “Tuesday’s Short + Feature” and the “Friday Double-Bill” will all be back as well.

Launched in 1984 with the Laserdisc releases of Citizen Kane (1941) and King Kong (1933), The Criterion Collection became known for its special-edition DVD and later Blu-ray Disc releases of restored classic films.

In 2011, Hulu licensed select Criterion titles for streaming, an arrangement  FilmStruck acquired in 2016.

Criterion announced it expects the new service to be available in the United States and Canada at launch, rolling out to additional territories over time.

Fans can sign up for the new service at Criterion.com/channel.

Charter members, following a 30-day free trial, will receive a reduced rate of $9.99 per month or $89.99 per year for as long as they keep their subscription active. Charter members also receive a gift certificate for the Criterion website, a membership card and concierge customer service, including a customer ID and special e-mail address.

The regular post-launch rate will be $10.99 per month or $100 per year.

WarnerMedia Shuttering FilmStruck SVOD Service

Looking to further consolidate its over-the top video strategy, WarnerMedia Oct. 26 disclosed it is closing FilmStruck, the film streaming service from Turner Classic Movies catering to rare, classic, foreign, arthouse, and independent cinema.

The Atlanta-based service launched in November 2016 and succeeded Hulu as the exclusive online streaming home of the Criterion Collection in the United States.

“We regret to inform you that FilmStruck will be shutting down. Our last day of service will Nov. 29, and we are currently no longer enrolling new subscribers,” the service said on its website.

The move comes shortly after WarnerMedia – which was created following AT&T’s $85 billion purchase of Time Warner – shuttered Korean-themed movie SVOD service DramaFever, based in New York.

FilmStruck Bows Service in France and Spain

FilmStruck, the online movie subscription streaming service owned by WarnerMedia, has launched operations in France and Spain.

The subscription video on-demand service, which entered the international marketplace with its U.K. launch in February, offers French and Spanish consumers a diverse movie catalogue from the Warner Bros. library and the Criterion Collection library, as well as other global and local content partners.

The service offers a range of critically acclaimed movies across many categories – independent, classic, cult, contemporary and world Cinema – and also features curated themes and exclusive bonus material, including cast interviews, original artwork, Criterion mini-documentaries and hosted introductions.

With a strong emphasis on catering to different audiences with local content, FilmStruck content for each market reflects local curation expertise. The service for France will draw on local content partners Carlotta Films, MK2, RKO and StudioCanal, while the service for Spain will team with local content providers Wanda, Caramel and A Contracorriente Films, among others.

“Rolling FilmStruck out to these additional markets is a significant next step for us,” Aksel van der Wal, EVP, Turner International’s Digital Ventures & Innovation Group, said in a statement. “France and Spain both have a rich heritage in and love for movies, as well as being rapidly developing SVOD markets, which makes them both exciting markets to tap into with what we believe is a fresh and differentiated offering working with fantastic content partners.”

The expansion of the service into France and Spain comes shortly after DV&I and WBDN announced the appointment of Kerensa Samanidis to the role of GM, FilmStruck, International. Samanidis joins from the British Film Institute where she was head of digital products and distribution overseeing BFI’s digital strategy.

FilmStruck Adds Warner Bros. Classic Movies

Movie streaming service FilmStruck Feb. 26 announced it is adding select classic Warner Bros. titles, including Casablanca, The Thin Man, Citizen Kane and Rebel Without a Cause, among others.

The $6.99 monthly service launched in 2016 by Turner. The unit is owned by Warner Bros. parent Time Warner. For $10.99, subs get access to digitally remastered titles from The Criterion Collection.

Despite the same corporate umbrella, Time Warner units Turner, Warner Bros. and HBO have not historically worked together. With the advent of digital distribution, over-the-top video and eroding traditional markets, improved cooperation between business units has become the order of the day.

Indeed, appointment of former Warner Bros. Home Entertainment boss Kevin Tsujihara in 2013 to head the venerable studio underscored Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes’ desire to expand digital distribution, in addition to internal synergies.

While many of the Warner titles would appeal to the Turner Classic Movies pay-TV channel, the service is targeting younger demos – the ones well-versed with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu.

In fact, FilmStruck laster this year will incorporate Warner Archive Collection, a $9.99 monthly streaming service launched in 2013 that failed to generate a sustainable subscriber base.

“It was a no-brainer,” Craig Hunegs, president of Warner Bros. Digital Networks, told The Los Angeles Times. “Turner has built a great service in FilmStruck, and it’s perfect because we are all in the same company.”

 

FilmStruck Launching International SVOD Service

FilmStruck, Turner and Warner Bros. Digital Networks’ subscription streaming movie service, is launching an international platform, beginning in the United Kingdom.

The service will draw primarily on Warner library content and the Criterion Collection, as well as other global and local content partners.

Movies include mainstream, cult, independent, classics, art house, foreign and documentaries. The slate will also feature curated themes, bonus material, including cast interviews, Criterion original mini-documentaries and hosted introductions, and original artwork.

The U.K. service will be branded “Filmstruck Curzon,” partnering with Curzon Cinemas, a chain of theaters specializing in art house films. It also operates a transactional video-on-demand service, Curzon Home Cinema.

The agreement affords FilmStruck opportunities to leverage the theater’s market position, experience and consumer base in other markets, according to Craig Hunegs, president, business and strategy, Warner Bros. Television Group and president, Warner Bros. Digital Networks.

“International film fans now have a new home for a wide and diverse range of movies including some of Warner Bros.’ most iconic titles,” Hunegs said in a statement.

The international expansion underscores Turner’s growing activity in the SVOD properties outside of the U.S., and is its first SVOD service in the general entertainment space. Turner International now offers three international SVOD brands, with EI Plus in Brazil and the recently launched Nordics brand Toonix, offering sports and kids & family content.

“FilmStruck helps us realize a shared vision for what we see as a clear gap in the market for film lovers around the world.” Aksel van der Wal, EVP, Turner International’s Digital Ventures & Innovation Group, said in a statement.

FilmStruck Curzon is expected to roll out in the UK in the coming weeks and will be available on demand on most phones and tablets, online and on TV via streaming devices, with more devices to be added.

“We look forward to collaborating on the curation of the site and introducing this service to our customers across the Curzon group. Our shared vision with Turner and Warner Bros. Digital teams has enormous potential,” said Philip Mordecai, director of digital ventures with Curzon.