Sony Pictures and Legendary Entertainment Ink Distribution Deal

Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group and Legendary Entertainment Nov. 28 announced a new multiyear worldwide film distribution partnership under which Sony Pictures will market and distribute Legendary’s new upcoming theatrical motion picture titles.

Sony Pictures will also handle home entertainment and TV distribution for the titles it releases. Legendary retains the option to produce and distribute feature film content for the wide range of streaming platforms existing both today and for future incarnations. 

Sony Pictures and Legendary are aligned in their ongoing commitment to theatrical distribution as a driver for other “downstream” windows and the theatrical window’s long-term value for films, according to a press release.

As part of the pact, Sony Pictures will market and distribute new Legendary theatrical releases worldwide excluding China, where Legendary East will handle all marketing and distribution activities.

Legendary will also continue to remain in business with Warner Bros. Pictures on select existing titles including the upcoming Dune: Part Two, currently in production and slated for release on Nov. 3, 2023.

“It’s a rare opportunity to partner in this mutually beneficial way with true pros, who are completely aligned in our theatrical commitment and vision for this business,” Josh Greenstein and Sanford Panitch, presidents of Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group, said in a statement. “The creative brilliance and power of Legendary is huge and we look forward to bringing their work to theaters across the world.”

“As we continue to grow our content offerings, we are excited to forge this relationship with Tony, Tom, Sanford, Josh and the rest of the exceptional Sony team,” Legendary CEO Joshua Grode said in a statement. “Sony’s commitment to theatrical distribution aligns with our vision of how to best derive the most value for Legendary’s movies. The incredible slate of movies that Mary Parent has amassed are built for the theatrical experience and we are excited about our partnership with Sony for this next phase of Legendary’s growth.”

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“Legendary is, well, legendary and we are excited and fortunate to add Josh and Mary’s strong slate to our ongoing commitment to big movies on the big screen,” Tom Rothman, chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group, said in a statement.

“We are also grateful to Warner Bros. Pictures who has been a valuable partner to Legendary over many years, and we look forward to continuing our work with the talented executives at Warner/Discovery,” Grode stated.

Past Legendary film group releases for both theatrical and streaming include the Academy Award-winning adaptation of Frank Herbert’s seminal bestseller Dune, Godzilla Vs. Kong, Pokémon Detective Pikachu, Enola Holmes and Enola Holmes 2.

Plex Launches Ad-Supported VOD Service Featuring Studio Movies

Upstart video streaming service Plex Dec. 4 formally launched an ad-supported platform featuring free access to catalog movies and TV shows from Lionsgate, MGM Studios, Legendary and Warner Bros., among others.

The service joins a crowding field of AVOD platforms that include The Roku Channel, Amazon’s IMDb TV, Shout! TV, Crackle, Pluto TV and Tubi, among others.

“Plex was born out of passion for media and entertainment, and offering free, ad-supported movies and TV shows is just the latest step in our mission to bring all your favorite content together in one place,” CEO Keith Valory said in a statement.

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Plex’s ad-supported video-on-demand offering requires no paid subscription or additional equipment to access thousands of titles across a variety of genres such as action, sci-fi, comedy, drama, thriller, anime, kids and family.

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Plex offers a wide range of device support, including: Roku, Apple TV, Android TV, smart TVs, Android and iOS mobile platforms, Xbox, PlayStation, Amazon Fire TV, and more.

Titles available at launch include:

  • American Ultra starring Kristen Stewart (available for a limited time)
  • Bruce Campbell masterpieces Evil Dead 1 & Evil Dead 2
  • Frequency starring Dennis Quaid
  • Multi-Oscar award-winning Rain Man, starring Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise
  • Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell classic Overboard
  • Teen Wolf starring Michael J. Fox
  • The Terminator with Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • Award-winning indie films, including Wristcutters: A Love Story, Dolphin Boy, and The Sandlot Journey.
  • Kids, family, and educational options like The Undersea Adventures of Ripples and His Friends, Make it Work, and Brain Candy TV
  • Music concerts and documentaries featuring some of the biggest stars in music, including Nicki Minaj: Pink Planet, Deadmau5: Live @ Earl’s Court, Taylor Swift: Just for You, and Electric Daisy Carnival Experience.

Subscription Streaming Driving Waves of Change in Entertainment Market, Speakers Say

LOS ANGELES — The enormous cachet and power of subscription streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon — and the proliferation of like services — are major drivers in entertainment market disruption and are giving content creators increased clout.

That was the opinion of speakers at the Entertainment Finance Forum presented by Winston Baker Feb. 27.

“It’s never been a better time to be a content creator,” said Michael Lee, CFO, Perfect World Pictures (USA), but he added for his company it’s also “getting incredibly more difficult to greenlight a film” with all the competing entertainment outlets. That means the company must get more involved in getting closer to and helping film creators.

“It is very scary for us that are still part of the establishment,” added Ron Hohauser, CFO, Legendary.

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While subscription streaming is the future, he noted adding up all of the charges for the different services can amount to “a car payment.”

With the proliferation of subscription services “your car payment goes from a Prius to a Porsche,” Lee added. “Consumers aren’t going to want to have 32 subscriptions.”

What is developing is “a content bubble that’s going to be paid for by a lot of investors,” Hohauser said.

For the time being, capital from the American stock market that funds the big streamers “makes them formidable competitors,” said Eric Briggs, CFO and chief strategy officer at media company Macro, adding “they can buy whatever they want.”

But that, too, could change.

“I do think investor-funded content creation will come to an end at some point,” added Ambereen Toubassy, CFO at Quibi, a short-form content subscription entertainment company backed by Jeffrey Katzenberg. “Content will need to be economically feasible.”

“Chasing Netflix is a lose proposition,” noted Adrienne Becker, CEO of Level Forward, which backs projects driven by women and people of color. She supports concentrating on serving underserved communities with content.

On the content side, Toubassy added there are ripe opportunities in the short-form arena, which Quibi plans to mine when it launches as a subscription service to consumers in 2020.

“The reason we’re so excited about the short form video market … is it’s a huge market,” she said, citing YouTube’s 1.9 billion users.

Quibi plans to bring premium content to those short-form content viewers used to settling for grainy, underproduced YouTube fare. That includes everything from scripted storytelling in 10-minute chapters to tell a two-hour story to “quick bites” of reality programming, documentaries or content from young, lesser known filmmakers to “daily essentials [that are] meant to be habit-forming news programming,” she said.

Indeed, content must become more premium to succeed, noted Adhrucia Apana, an executive with Creative Wealth Media, as the entry of so many subscription players has raised the bar for all entertainment companies.

“No longer can you make Dude, Where’s My Car? and expect that to be a blockbuster,” she said. “You’re seeing the bar on all of those platforms go up.”