Johannes Larcher to Head HBO Max International

WarnerMedia has named Johannes Larcher head of HBO Max International. He will join the company in August and report to Gerhard Zeiler, chief revenue officer of WarnerMedia and president of WarnerMedia International Networks.

Larcher will be responsible for the international rollout and management of the WarnerMedia subscription streaming service, which launched in the United States May 27. His first focus will be the launch in Latin America, which is expected in 2021, according to the company.

Larcher will work closely with Whit Richardson, president of WarnerMedia Entertainment Networks in Latin America, and Priya Dogra, president of WarnerMedia Entertainment Networks in EMEA and APAC.

Larcher currently serves as managing director of digital at MBC Group, the Middle East’s leading media company based in Dubai where he successfully transformed the group’s flagship digital product Shahid VIP into the world’s largest Arabic language video streaming service with more than 1.4 million subscribers. From 2016 to 2018, he was co-founder and CEO of SubVRsive in Austin, Texas, a virtual and augmented reality studio. From 2009 to 2013, he served Hulu as SVP, international, where he led the launch and initial growth phase of Hulu Japan. Earlier, Larcher was president and CEO of online video education start-up Academy123, sold to Discovery and served as GM International for paid search pioneer Overture Services until its acquisition by Yahoo! in 2003. Larcher started his career in 1995 at McKinsey in Los Angeles, where he served media, entertainment and technology clients. He holds an M.A. from the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, and an MBA from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

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“I got to know Johannes as a passionate entrepreneur,” Zeiler said in a statement. “His leadership skills, together with his strong direct-to-consumer and digital experience, international business foundations and tech expertise give him the perfect background to drive the growth of HBO Max beyond the United States.”

“Living at the crossroads of digital technology and content, I’m thrilled to help create unforgettable entertainment experiences for consumers in international markets and make HBO Max an indispensable streaming service around the world,” Larcher said in a statement.

Foreign Films ‘Internment,’ ‘16/03’ and ‘Coffee in Winter’ Among Titles Due on DVD Aug. 11 From BayView

Foreign films Internment, 16/03 and Love Is Cold as well as the U.K.’s Coffee in Winter and Moments of Darkness are among the titles coming from BayView Entertainment on DVD Aug. 11.

Internment (2018) is a drama set in Albania during communist rule. The Kulla family struggles as they are forced by government agents into internment. For Artur, the family’s son, things get more complicated when his girlfriend Frida is forced into an engagement with a high ranking operative. They continue to be subjected to cruel punishment when the arrival of a repatriated family friend complicates matters further.

In 16/03 (2017), haunted by the chemical attacks that claimed the lives of his family, Aryan, a Kurdish sniper, flees his homeland in search of a better life in the United Kingdom. Aryan begins to work in the film industry as a model of an asylum seeker but when an action scene goes horribly wrong and is attacked by terrorists, he is blamed as an insider. As the public outcry mounts against him, Aryan stands alone with only his English girlfriend believing his innocence. Detectives start to dig deeper into Aryan’s past and find evidence of his past military training, which adds more weight to the public’s desire for vengeance.

In Love Is Cold (2018), at the dawn of the 1999 handover of Macau to mainland China, two students (Endy Chow, Michael Tong) find themselves caught up in murder, pursued by mobsters and the police alike. When one of the student’s father tries to send her back to the Mainland, the true story is revealed.

Two other films from the United Kingdom are also coming to DVD Aug. 11, Coffee in Winter and Moments of Darkness.

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Coffee in Winter

In the dramatic romance Coffee in Winter (2020), Rod’s always lived life in accordance with his Indian culture and his family’s expectations: graduate, get a good job and get married. Hoping there’s more to life than this, he decides to quit his job as an I.T. professional and study a masters in photography. Hema, his sympathetic wife, encourages and supports him. When the semester begins, Rod meets a young and free-spirited German girl, Kim. Her passion for art and life inspire him to become more than the sum of his family’s expectations. They meet often, taking photographs, sharing ideas and discussing life over coffee. Caught up in the atmosphere of the city’s mellow nightlife, Rod finds himself moving further away from his traditional life.

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In Moments of Darkness (2020), after his recent release from prison, AJ tries to get his life back on the right track. However, his efforts are met with equally frustrating results as he struggles to find work. With his family and friends reluctant to get too close, he finds himself isolated and defeated. Eventually finding work as a night watchman in an old 19th century town hall, AJ becomes relentlessly haunted by disturbing events of his past as he starts losing his grip on reality. With his immediate future seeming uncertain, he’s left to piece together what is left his fractured life.

Japanese Action-Adventure ‘Samurai Marathon’ Due on Digital May 12, Disc July 21 From Well Go

The Japanese actioner Samurai Marathon will come out on digital May 12 and Blu-ray and DVD July 21 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

Director Bernard Rose (Candy Man, Anna Karenina) co-wrote the screenplay with Japan’s Hiroshi Saito and Kikumi Yamagishi based on the novel The Marathon Samurai: Five Tales of Japan’s First Marathon.

Inspired by a race still held yearly, the film follows an aging lord in late feudal Japan who challenges his samurai to a grueling marathon — joined covertly by his daughter. The group must overcome deadly odds to survive. Meanwhile, a young ninja operates undercover in the court of the lord and finds his loyalties put to the test.

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Samurai Marathon stars Takeru Satoh (Rurouni Kenshin: Final Chapter), Nana Komatsu (The World of KanakoSilence), Mirai Moriyama (RageVision), Shota Sometani (First Love) and Danny Huston (X-Men Wolverine, TV’s “Yellowstone”). 

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Produced by Academy Award winners Jeremy Thomas (The Last Emperor) and Toshiaki Nakazawa (Departures), the film includes an original score composed by Philip Glass (The Truman Show), costume designs by Oscar winner Emi Wada (Ran) and cinematography by Takuro Ishizaka (John Woo’s Manhunt).

‘Mommy’ Horror Films, Mexican Classics on Disc From MVD and VCI

Two horror films and three Mexican classics are coming on disc from MVD Entertainment Group and VCI Entertainment.

Available now on Blu-ray and DVD is the Mommy and Mommy 2 25th anniversary special edition double feature. The release includes the two horror films from the 1990s for the first time in high definition. Mommy is pretty, perfect, June Cleaver with a cleaver, and you don’t want to deny her — or her precious daughter — anything. Patty McCormack (Academy Award-nominated for her classic portrayal of The Bad Seed) stars in this thriller from the best-selling novel. The film also stars Jason Miller (The Exorcist), Majel Barrett, Mickey Spillane and “scream queen” Brinke Stevens. Special features include Leonard Martin on Mommy; the original trailer; bloopers; a PBS documentary; “Mommy’s Day,” Patty McCormack Interviewed by Max Allan Collins; and “The Making of Mommy.”

Coming Feb. 25 on Blu-ray are four Mexican classics.

In 1949’s A Family Like Many Others (Una Familia de Tantas), Rodrigo Cataño (Fernando Soler) runs his household like his own private kingdom, demanding obedience and respect from his submissive wife Doña Gracia (Eugenia Galindo) and their five children. This strictly maintained state of affairs is disturbed with the arrival of charming travelling salesman Roberto (David Silva), who convinces the initially resistant Rodrigo to purchase his newfangled household wares (first a vacuum cleaner, then a fridge) and enchants the family’s 15-year-old daughter Maru (Martha Roth). When Maru declares that she intends to marry Roberto, she defies not only her domineering father, but also the entire patriarchal order he represents. Long considered one of the key films of the Golden Age of Mexican cinema, Alejandro Galindo’s family drama depicts the tension between tradition and modernity that was gripping Mexican society at the time. The film is No. 36 on The 100 Best Movies of Mexican Cinema (Somos magazine) and was the Silver and Gold Ariel Award Winner, Mexican Cinema.

Available for the first time on Blu-ray produced from a new 4K restoration, 1946’s La Barraca is No. 21 on the List of The 100 Best Movies of Mexican Cinema (Somos). In rural Spain, a new family arrives in town to work a parcel (barraca), the townsfolk are very hostile to the idea of another working the land that once belonged to one of them. Though set in Spain and adaptated from an 1895 novel by the popular Spanish writer Vicente Blasco Ibánez (Blood and Sand), this story of an immigrant family’s struggles to establish their own small farm was close enough to the concerns of Mexico’s tradition of rural melodramas to become an immediate popular and critical success. In recent years, as part of a collaborative project, the Film Library of the UNAM and the AMACC (Mexican Academy of Cinematographic Arts and Sciences) have joined forces to restore and preserve Mexico’s national film collection. La Barraca is one of five films restored so far. The film won nine Silver Ariel Awards and one Gold Ariel Award, including Best Director, Male Actor, Female Actor, Screenplay and Cinematography.

For the first time on Blu-ray comes 1960’s The Skeleton of Mrs. Morales (El Esqueleto de la señora Morales), a 1960 Mexican black comedy film adapted from horror master Arthur Machen’s 1927 story “The Islington Mystery” by screenwriter Luis Alcoriza, a frequent collaborator of Luis Buñuel. The film is ranked No. 19 on the list of the 100 Best Films of Mexican Cinema (Somos). It tells the tale of quiet taxidermist Pablo Morales (former matinee idol Arturo de Córdova) who suffers the demands of his prudish and hypochondriac wife Gloria (Amparo Rivelles). After 20 years of a hellish marriage, he decides to murder her. Over the top performances and an ironic, final twist make this film by Rogelio A. González a timeless satire of weepy melodramas.

The 1968 horror film Even the Wind Is Afraid (Hasta El Viento Tiene Miedo) is a tale about a group of college students, led by Claudia, a young girl who decides to investigate a creepy tower at her all girl boarding school that has figured prominently in disturbing reoccurring dreams Claudia has been having. The dream also consists of a hanged woman’s body. They are suspended from the school for the antics, but Claudia learns from one of the female staff members that the person in the dream is a student who killed herself years before, and that the school principal knows more about the situation than she’s willing to admit. The tormented and restless spirit is hell-bent on enacting her revenge. The film was remade in 2007.

Chinese Animated Fantasy ‘Ne Zha’ Due on Digital Feb. 25, Disc — Including 4K — March 3 From Well Go

The Chinese animated fantasy-adventure Ne Zha will come out on digital Feb. 25 and on DVD, Blu-ray combo pack and 4K Ultra Blu-ray combo pack March 3 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

The release is dubbed in English.

Ne Zha is the first animated film selected as the Chinese entry for Best International Feature Film at the 92nd Academy Awards.

First-time feature film director Jiaozi brings to the screen the story of a boy with unique powers who is recruited to fight demons and save the community that initially fears him. The boy, Nezha, is birthed from a heavenly pearl by the Primeval Lord of Heaven. Born with unique powers, Nezha finds himself as an outcast who is hated and feared. Destined by prophecy to bring destruction to the world, he must choose between good and evil in order to break the shackles of fate and become the hero.

The film has earned more than $700.5 million at the global box office.

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Chinese Action Epic ‘Warriors of the Nation’ Coming to Digital and Disc Feb. 18 From Well Go

The Chinese martial arts action epic Warriors of the Nation will debut on digital and Blu-ray combo pack Feb. 18 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

In the film, after the Sino-Japanese War, the Japanese army tries to once again gain control in China by hiring a secret organization, the White Lotus Society, to kidnap the military minister. Wong Fei-Hung and his disciples must stop this attack to prevent another war from starting.

The film is directed by Marco Mak (chief editor on Once Upon a Time in China) and stars Wenzhuo Zhao (Once Upon a Time in ChinaTrue Legend), newcomer Lubing Li, Miya Muqi (The Monkey King 2) and Kenya Sawada (Street Fighter).

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Chinese Fantasy-Comedy ‘Knight of Shadows’ Due on Disc Jan. 21 From Well Go

The Chinese fantasy-comedy The Knight of Shadows will come out on DVD and Blu-ray combo pack Jan. 21 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

In the film, Pu Songling (Jackie Chan), a legendary demon hunter, is asked to investigate the mysterious disappearances of young girls from a small village. When he discovers evil forces are kidnapping the girls to feast on their souls, he sets out to save humanity from the inhuman invasion journeying through hidden worlds and colorful dimensions in this fantastical martial arts action-comedy.

The film also stars Zhong Chuxi, Ethan Juan, Lin Peng and Austin Lin.

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Netflix Extends Partnership With Korean Entertainment Company

Netflix has entered into a strategic partnership including a multiyear content production and distribution agreement with CJ ENM, a Korean media entertainment company, and its subsidiary production studio Studio Dragon.

As part of a three-year partnership beginning in 2020, Studio Dragon and its roster of creators will produce original series that will be available to Netflix members globally. Netflix will also receive distribution rights to other select Studio Dragon titles.

This arrangement extends and deepens the relationship between CJ ENM, Studio Dragon, and Netflix, which has already been streaming Studio Dragon titles such as “Stranger,” “Mr. Sunshine,” “Memories of Alhambra,” “Romance Is a Bonus Book” and “Arthdal Chronicles.”

“CJ ENM and Studio Dragon represent the gold standard in Korean entertainment and we are excited and honored to work with them,” said Ted Sarandos, Netflix chief content officer, in a statment. “This partnership with CJ ENM and Studio Dragon demonstrates our commitment to Korean entertainment and allows us to bring more top-tier Korean drama to Netflix members in Korea and all over the world.”

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“We’re thrilled to be partnering with both CJ ENM and Studio Dragon and look forward to a prosperous relationship for many years to come,” said Netflix CEO Reed Hastings in a statement.

“CJ ENM is leading the market and expanding its huge achievement in Korea to overseas. As we have continuously focused on strengthening borderless content and expanding global distribution, the partnership with Netflix will introduce Korean content to global audiences, while providing new experiences and values,” said Minheoi Heo, CEO of CJ ENM, in a statement.

“Today’s announcement is a recognition that Korean storytelling and production capabilities are beloved by global audiences and reaffirms the content creation prowess of both CJ ENM and Studio Dragon,” said Jinnie Choi, CEO of Studio Dragon, in a statement. “Studio Dragon will try its best to leap forward as a global major studio.”

As part of the partnership, CJ ENM will have the right to sell up to 4.99% of Studio Dragon shares to Netflix.

Chinese Thriller ‘Savage’ Coming to Blu-ray and Digital Dec. 3 From Well Go

The Chinese action-thriller Savage will debut on Blu-ray combo pack and digital Dec. 3 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

The heist thriller set on a remote mountain in northeastern China follows a dogged detective as he squares off against a trio of violent crooks.  Buried by treacherous conditions at the top of Mt. Baekdu, the policeman must brave the extreme conditions until he’s relieved from his post. When a group of thieves stumbles into the station in search of safe shelter, the night turns into a fight for survival as the two sides must put aside their differences to outlast the night.

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Winner of the “New Currents Award” for Best Film at the 2018 Busan International Film Festival, Savage stars Chang Chen (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Ni Ni (The Thousand Faces of Dunjia), Liao Fan (Let the Bullets Fly), Huang Jue (Long Day’s Journey Into Night), Liu Hua (The Monkey King), newcomer Zhang Yicong and Li Guangjie (Drug War). It is the directorial debut of  writer-director Cui Siwei (The Island).

Chinese Fantasy ‘Kung Fu Monster’ to Bow on Blu-ray Oct. 8 From Well Go

The Chinese fantasy actioner Kung Fu Monster will come out on Blu-ray Disc Oct. 8 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

In this epic fantasy in the waning years of the Ming Dynasty, the Bruneian Empire wants to offer a rare creature to the nation as a gift and has tasked Ocean, a member of the Imperial Secret Police, to capture and tame the beast. Upon discovering the beast’s gentle and kind nature, Ocean works in secret to release the beast back to the wild, keeping it from being turned into a killing machine.

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The film stars Louis Koo (Kill Zone 2, The White Storm), Cheney Chen and Bea Hayden Kuo and is directed by Andrew Lau Wai-Keung.