Apple Previews New Operating System for Apple TV 4K, Announces Deal With Charter

Apple June 4 previewed the tvOS 12 operating system for Apple TV 4K with support for Dolby Atmos audio, new features to easily access shows and movies, and aerial screensavers shot from space. The company also announced that Charter Communications, the second-largest cable operator in the United States, will begin offering Apple TV 4K to its customers.

Apple TV 4K debuted last fall. The service offers customers the largest collection of 4K HDR movies, according to Apple, including free 4K HDR upgrades to previously purchased movies in customers’ iTunes libraries.

“This fall, iTunes will be home to the largest collection of Dolby Atmos-supported movies anywhere, and these titles will also include Dolby Atmos audio for free,” according to an Apple press release. “With tvOS 12, Apple TV 4K will be the only streaming player both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos certified, delivering the highest quality cinematic experience of stunning 4K HDR visuals and immersive sound that flows all around in three-dimensional space.”

Also, later this year, Charter customers in nearly 50 million households will have access to live channels and tens of thousands of on-demand programs via an all-new Spectrum TV app on their Apple TV 4K, iPhone and iPad, integrated with Siri and the Apple TV App, Apple reported. In addition, as part of this collaboration, Charter will be offering iPhones and iPads to customers as they grow their mobile presence. Charter joins AT&T’s DirecTV Now in the United States, CANAL+ in France and Salt in Switzerland, which have begun offering customers Apple TV 4K with their services.

The Apple TV App on iPhone, iPad and Apple TV allows customers to find and watch TV shows and movies from more than 100 participating video apps in 10 countries, according to Apple. Single sign-on for Apple TV and iOS has allowed users to sign in once to get access to all the video apps available through their cable subscription. With tvOS 12, Apple further simplifies the authentication process with “zero sign-on.” Apple TV detects the user’s broadband network and automatically signs them in to all the supported apps they receive through their subscription — no typing required, according to Apple. Zero sign-on begins with Charter later this year and will expand to other providers over time.

In collaboration with the International Space Station National Lab and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, Apple unveiled new aerials shot from space by NASA astronauts, “so Apple TV customers can enjoy even more stunning scenes filmed in 4K HDR,” according to Apple. Aerial screensavers will also be more interactive, allowing viewers to see the location information and swipe between dozens of aerials, the company noted.

Additional tvOS 12 features for Apple TV 4K and Apple TV 4th generation make it easier for customers to access shows and movies, according to Apple:

— With iOS 12, users can securely AutoFill passwords from iPhone and iPad to Apple TV to easily sign in to Apple TV apps.

— The Apple TV Remote will be automatically added to Control Center on iPhone or iPad for Apple TV users, giving users quick access to Apple TV controls.

— Home control systems such as Control4, Crestron and Savant can be used to control Apple TV, including using Siri for voice search and control.

“The arrival of Dolby Atmos on Apple TV, ‘zero sign-on,’ a deal with Charter Spectrum, a new TV OS and, perhaps more tangentially, Siri support for third-party apps, all point towards an evolutionary product, rather than a revolutionary one, which we have become accustomed to from Apple over the years,” read a Futuresource Consulting blog in response to the announcements.

Futuresource estimates that there were approximately 21 million Apple TVs in use worldwide at the end of 2017, approaching half of these in the United States.

“Apple TV continues to add features, build partnerships and is clearly striving to offer the best quality digital streamer experience there is — albeit at a higher price than its competitors,” read the Futuresource blog. “Service partnerships will therefore be key to driving the attractiveness of the product and a channels approach, akin or better than Amazon Channels and Roku’s equivalent, will also be hugely important if Apple still wants to become the main entertainment hub in the home — something which Amazon arguably has gained a lead in.”

The new tvOS will be available this fall as a free software update for Apple TV 4K and Apple TV 4th generation. For more information, visit apple.com/apple-tv-4K.

‘Inheritance’ Due on Digital June 15

The psychological thriller Inheritance will be released on Digital HD June 15 from Portola Pictures.

The film will be available to rent or own on iTunes and Amazon Instant Video.

Directed by Tyler Savage from his own script, the film puts a chilling twist on the universal feeling of being trapped by your family history.  The film premiered at Dances with Films.

Savage makes his feature film debut alongside executive producer Nicholas Gonda (Tree of Life), cinematographer Drew Daniels (Krisha, It Comes At Night) and producers J.P. Castel (Krisha), Dash Hawkins (Party Crashers) and Chase Joliet (It Comes at Night), who also leads the cast.  Joliet is joined onscreen by Sara Montez (“Pitch”), Tim Abell (Sniper: Special Ops), Kate Norby (The Devil’s Rejects), Dale Dickey (Hell or High Water, “True Blood”), Krisha Fairchild (Krisha) and Drew Powell (“Gotham”).

Pop band Mini Mansions provides the score.

Latest Volume of Animated Series “RWBY” Due June 5

Rooster Teeth and Cinedigm June 5 will release the latest edition from the animated series “RWBY” when RWBY: Volume 5 arrives on transactional digital platforms, including Steam, iTunes and Xbox, as well as DVD, Blu-ray Combo Pack (with DVD), and a Special Edition Blu-ray Combo Pack featuring a 32-page RWBY Official Manga Anthology sampler exclusive to FYE stores.

The RWBY Official Manga Anthology is from the upcoming Weiss book from VIZ Media.

“We love how passionate the fans of RWBY are,” said Gray G. Haddock, head of animation at Rooster Teeth, in a statement. “Volume 5 received such a great reaction and we’re really looking forward to be able to provide these episodes along with a behind-the-scenes look at the series through the bonus features.”

In RWBY: Volume 5, Ruby, Weiss, Blake and Yang are each entangled in journeys of their own, but they all share one destination: Haven Academy. Whether it’s the promise of ancient relics, mystical maidens, or simply more power, it’s clear that the stage for the next great battle for Remnant has been chosen.

Bonus features include “5 Years of RWBY,” a behind-the-scenes retrospective that explores how the production of “RWBY” has changed over the years, including never-before-seen interviews; Weiss, Blake and Yang character shorts; and “CRWBY: Behind the Episode.”

Movies Anywhere Offers Music-Only Version of ‘Last Jedi’

A score-only version of Star Wars: The Last Jedi with an audio track that isolates composer John Williams’ music is available exclusively on Movies Anywhere for a limited time to those who link a digital purchase of the film to the service.

The Lucasfilm blockbuster distributed by Walt Disney Studios debuted on digital March 13 and arrives on Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray March 27.

Movies Anywhere March 12 added FandangoNow to its list of retail partners, which also include Amazon Video, Google Play, iTunes and Walmart-owned Vudu. The digital movie rights locker service features content from Disney, Sony Pictures, 20th Century Fox Film, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros.

Documentary ‘Hobbyhorse Revolution’ From Oscar-Nominated Filmmaker Due on Digital April 24

Oscar-nominated filmmaker Selma Vilhunen’s latest documentary, Hobbyhorse Revolution, will hit digital services April 24 from Filmrise.

It will be available for sale and rental on Amazon Video, iTunes,  Google Play and Vudu.

The documentary spotlights a group of bullied teenage girls from Finland who spark a new organized sport called “hobbyhorsing” into a national obsession, igniting a global fascination. Visually unusual and sometimes amusing to the spectator, hobbyhorse competitors strive to place in equestrian style jumping and dressage events while riding their personalized homemade stick horses. The film’s worldwide festival release has generated features about the sport appearing in The Wall Street Journal, on ESPN and on the talk show “Ellen.” Finland now boasts more than 10,000 hobbyhorse competitors between the ages of 10-18 with leagues and competitions beginning to sprout in the United States.

Hobbyhorse Revolution had its North American premiere at the 2016 Hot Docs Festival, won the Main Prize and the Risto Jerva Prize at the Tempere Film Festival and was an Official Selection at the Visions Du Reel Festival.

Redbox Ups Q4 Usage, Tops iTunes, Google, YouTube, Vudu

The percentage of consumers renting or purchasing movies from Redbox increased in the fourth quarter 2017 from Q3, according to new data from TiVo.

In a survey of 3,000 respondents, TiVo found that 12.5% of respondents used Redbox in Q4 compared to about 10% in Q3. The percentage trailed only Amazon (17.9%), which was up 3.3% from Q3.

Redbox usage topped iTunes (7.9%), Google Play (7.2%), YouTube Movies (4.8%), Vudu (3.7%), CinemaNow (2.2%), Flixster (1.5%) and other (1.4%).

TiVo found that 37.3% of all respondents purchased from pay- per-rental or TVOD services, an increase of 4.6% from Q3. Another 38.5% with pay-TV service are cord-cheaters (those who have pay-TV service and also use a TVOD service), an increase of 5.8%.

The report found that 34.3% of cord-cheaters use both TVOD and SVOD services in addition to their cable/ satellite service, a category that increased 5.2%.

Specifically, 79.6% of respondents spend money on a TVOD rental monthly, an increase of 3.1% from Q3; up 6.7% from the previous-year period and up 11.2% from two years ago.

More than 32% spends $3 to $8 monthly, while 13.3% spends $9 to $11 per month, and this group increased slightly quarter-0ver-quarter; up 4% y/y and up 5.8% over two years.

Finally, of the 37.3% of respondents who use TVOD services, 79% watch content on a weekly basis, an increase of 8.7% y/y and 11.8% over two years.

‘Carol Burnett Show’ Lost Episodes to Be Released Digitally for the First Time

Time Life will release The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes, Volumes 1-3 on both iTunes and Amazon March 9.

The three “Best of” compilations have never before available on any digital platform and feature rarely-seen episodes from the first five years of the series.

The compilations will be specially priced the first week of release at $9.99, with individual episodes available at $1.99 each. Following that, the compilations will be available at $14.99.

From 1967 to 1978, “The Carol Burnett Show” aired on CBS with a blend of comedy, song and dance. Burnett and her cast of comic actors — Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence, Lyle Waggoner, and later Tim Conway and Dick Van Dyke — entertained millions each week, joined by some of the biggest stars in the business. Ad-libs and the occasional flubbed line brought a spontaneity to the screen that was absent from most other variety shows. The Emmy Award-winning show survived the changing tastes of TV audiences to run 11 seasons and become one of the most iconic TV variety shows in history.

Volume 1 includes such classic sketches as “Carol and Sis,” “The Charwoman,” and “As the Stomach Turns”; among the guest stars featured are Lucille Ball, Eddie Albert, Chita Rivera, Bob Newhart, Jim Nabors, Paul Lynde, Bing Crosby, Don Adams, Phyllis Diller, Andy Griffith, Bernadette Peters and Cass Elliot.

Volume 2 features a “Salute to Warner Brothers” with Mel Tormé and Soupy Sales, Carol’s impersonation of Joan Crawford and the classic sketch, “The Ham Actors.” Showbiz icons and performers appearing include Jonathan Winters, Dionne Warwick, Joan Rivers, Sonny & Cher, Nanette Fabray, Shirley Jones, Ken Berry and a special cameo by Ronald Reagan.

Volume 3 includes more “Charwoman”; Harvey, Carol, Lyle and Lucille Ball lampooning modern morality in their version of the hit movie Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice; and Tim Conway’s “Oldest Man” masterminding a jewelry heist. Guest stars featured in this volume include Ray Charles, George Carlin, Mike Douglas, Martha Raye, Lana Turner and Ricardo Montalban.

Time Life has also released The Best of the Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts: Volumes 1-3 on iTunes, and plans more digital releases for 2018.