Kaleidescape, Sony Mount Joint Promotion

Kaleidescape, designer and manufacturer of home movie servers and players, has mounted a joint promotion with Sony Electronics offering a $3,000 discount to customers purchasing a Kaleidescape system alongside one of four Sony projectors: VPL-GTZ380, VPL-VW5000ES, VPL-VW995ES or VPL-VW915ES.

“This joint promotion with Kaleidescape underscores our unwavering commitment to provide the finest in 4K HDR entertainment,” Jeff Goldstein, head of custom integrator channel sales at Sony Electronics, said in a statement. “Besides being an incredible deal, this incentive ensures that our customers will get the very best from their premium Sony projector.”

Kaleidescape delivers reference-quality 4K HDR movies at the source, optimizing for the highest resolution, dynamic range and contrast capabilities of Sony’s high-end projectors, according to a company press release. With more than 12,000 movies and shows to choose from within its interface, Kaleidescape employs proprietary metadata to adjust Sony’s projectors to display every movie in native aspect ratio.

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“Sony is synonymous with 4K innovation and shares Kaleidescape’s vision for delivering the finest picture and sound quality,” Kaleidescape CEO Tayloe Stansbury said in a statement. “When you combine Sony’s finest projectors with Kaleidescape’s exceptional products, like the newly released Terra movie server with 48TB storage, the result is a 4K HDR experience you can’t take your eyes off.”

A streaming device cannot maximize a high-end projector’s innovative capabilities and stops short of delivering the best possible viewing experience, according to the press release. In contrast, a Kaleidescape system is designed to play 4K HDR movies with a video bitrate four times higher while reproducing lossless audio at up to 10 times higher than any streaming device.

FandangoNow and Vudu Launch Sale on Family Titles for ‘Sponge on the Run’ Debut

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run debuts March 4 as a premium VOD rental, and for a limited time, fans who rent the movie on Vudu and FandangoNow can get a code for 50% off the purchase of more than 25 select family titles on the two Fandango transactional VOD services.

Titles include the previous “SpongeBob” movies (The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie), Sonic the Hedgehog, Love and Monsters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Wonder Park, Sherlock Gnomes, Dora and the Lost City of Gold, Bumblebee, The Rugrats Movie, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, Harriet the Spy, Hotel for Dogs, Imagine That, Good Burger, Snow Day, Clockstoppers and a number of other family classics.

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Fandango is also launching this week a trivia video, “From Top to Bikini Bottom: The History of ‘SpongeBob SquarePants.'”

Fandango Spotlights Jodie Foster Filmography; Its Rotten Tomatoes Celebrates Women

Fandango is spotlighting Jodie Foster fresh off her Golden Globe win for The Mauritanian, and its Rotten Tomatoes site is celebrating women in entertainment for Women’s History Month.

The Mauritanian was released March 2 as a premium VOD rental on Fandango’s transaction VOD sites Vudu and FandangoNow.

Foster, who recently won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress for The Mauritanian, is spotlighted in Fandango’s latest video featuring performers and filmmakers breaking down moments from their work. Foster takes a look back at memorable scenes from her filmography, including Taxi Driver, The Silence of the Lambs, Little Man Tate, Contact and The Mauritanian.

Each is available for rent or purchase on FandangoNow and Vudu. Additionally, FandangoNow has a curated list of Foster’s films.

Meanwhile, Fandango-owned Rotten Tomatoes is celebrating Women’s History Month, featuring interviews with female directors Issa López (Tigers Are Not Afraid), Gina Prince-Blythewood (Love & Basketball) and Alma Har’el (Honey Boy), who all share their lists of 10 movies everyone should watch this Women’s History Month.

Rotten Tomatoes is also paying homage to the work of women in Hollywood with its Women’s History Month hub, housing viewing guides including the Best Movies Directed By Women in the 21st Century and Fearless Women Movie Heroes Who Inspire Us. Lists highlighting fearless women on TV and streaming and first-time female directors, among others, are set to publish throughout the month.

The female-led films highlighted are available for rent or purchase on Vudu and FandangoNow. Titles can be found in the Celebrating Women’s History Month section of Vudu, and are presented on FandangoNow in the playlists curated by Rotten Tomatoes.

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Let’s Give Home Entertainment Teams the Respect They Deserve

One of the more disturbing trends in Hollywood is that while home entertainment teams played a key role in keeping the studios afloat during the height of the pandemic, they are now the target of consolidations and restructurings as studios seek to balance the books at a time when the theatrical business is just beginning to come back.

What does it mean when we hear that studios are “merging” their home entertainment and theatrical teams? Invariably, it’s the home entertainment staffers who are shown the door.

Don’t get me wrong — I get that consolidations and restructurings are good business in these challenging times. Hollywood took a huge hit last year when movie theaters were shut down, virtually overnight, and while PVOD has certainly proven itself a lifesaver, the revenue from movies premiering at home are hardly enough to make up for the millions of dollars in lost theatrical revenue. We also have talented theatrical marketers who all of a sudden found themselves with little to do.

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But can’t there be some sort of balance? Why is it that home entertainment teams are taking the biggest, and sometimes the only, hit?

I think part of it is that traditionally, theatrical has been seen as the ‘A’ team. But as loathe as I am to resort to tired clichés, that’s akin to comparing apples with oranges. Home entertainment is a completely different ballgame. It’s not a bunch of minor leaguers, hoping to break into the majors. It’s more like the difference between Broadway and Hollywood, between stage and screen — two very different business models, two very different skill sets.

And I should point out that some of the business world’s top executives have come from the home video sector. Bob Chapek, who ran home video for the Walt Disney Co., is now CEO. Ted Sarandos, co-CEO of Netflix, used to work at a video chain, Video City. And let’s not forget Mitch Lowe, a co-founder of Netflix and Redbox, who for years ran Video Droid, a video rental store in California’s Bay Area, or Bill Mechanic, another Disney home video vet who later was tapped to lead the 20th Century Fox movie studio.

But then again, home entertainment has never gotten the respect it deserves. Forty years ago, when the business was birthed, studios were hoping to sell their movies to consumers. But when enterprising retailers bought movies on videocassette and began renting them, instead, Hollywood had a cow. Studios began suing retailers, their best customers, and it was only when the high court invoked the First Sale Doctrine, effectively allowing rentals, that grudging acceptance set in.

Studios began hiring dedicated “home video” executives, mostly from the consumer packaged-goods side of the business. One prominent studio home video president had been a refrigerator salesman. As the business grew, the home video business generated more and more money for the studios — as well as incredible ingenuity, such as Disney’s moratorium strategy and the Warner-led push toward revenue-sharing. And yet the segment’s leaders were still looked upon as second-class citizens several rungs down the ladder from the vaunted theatrical executives who ran the studios.

DVD brought a new level of respect to home entertainment. The new format, which shifted consumer habits from renting movies to buying them, brought in so much cash that home entertainment executives were even given a seat at the greenlighting table, particularly after home video revenues in 2001 for the first time ever exceeded theatrical revenues.

But when disc sales leveled off in the middle 2000s and attempts to launch a next-generation successor to DVD were bungled by a format war, home entertainment executives slowly began to be pushed out of the boardroom and into the backroom.

In the meantime, the caliber of home entertainment executives had improved significantly. When disc sales began to decline, home entertainment marketers refused to accept defeat. They jumped on the nascent electronic sellthrough model and came up with all sorts of clever tactics, including early windows, to grow the business. They adopted all the latest technologies, from data analytics to VR and AR, to promote new home entertainment releases. And when streaming began to take off — in part due to an early misstep in which studios sold or licensed their catalogs to Netflix — executives on the transactional side of the home entertainment business rallied. They did what they could to capitalize on their strengths, from forging new distribution deals — such as the Warner-Universal joint venture for physical product, and Lionsgate’s new deal with Sony Pictures — to issuing popular streaming series on disc, riding SVOD awareness much like theatrical awareness.

When the pandemic hit and the theatrical business effectively ended, home entertainment teams swooped in to save the day. They began mining catalogs for anniversary and seasonal reissues. They stepped up 4K Ultra HD release schedules. They were PVOD first responders, pivoting on short notice and essentially launching a brand-new business until their theatrical counterparts could take over. And they perfected the art of out-of-the-box thinking, taking creativity and ingenuity to new heights. Universal Pictures Home Entertainment launched a Twitter catalog watch-party series, which spotlighted several library classics and anniversary releases. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment also held social media watch-alongs, hosted by film talent and encouraging viewers to post reactions in real time on their social media accounts. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment held a virtual fan event celebrating all the superheroes and supervillains in the DC Multiverse and featuring panels with talent and filmmakers, displays of cosplay and fan art, and more. Lionsgate struck a series of promotional partnerships with digital retailers, including a “Best of Lionsgate” catalog promotion with Microsoft Movies & TV that led to a triple-digit lift in sales. And Paramount Home Entertainment marketers worked in tandem with digital retailers such as FandangoNow and Vudu to create curated promotions marketed primarily through Instagram and other social media channels. Home entertainment teams also worked tirelessly to create theatrical-style campaigns for PVOD releases such as Love and Monsters and Spell, including virtual junkets, New York Comic-Con panels and more.

As Paramount Pictures chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos himself said in a Feb. 26 memo announcing big cuts to the studio’s home entertainment marketing team, “Many of the employees impacted by this restructuring have been part of the home entertainment division for many years. Throughout those years, they have shown enormous resilience and adaptability as the marketplace shifted from physical to digital formats.  Particularly, as we’ve faced the unique challenges of the last 12 months, the home entertainment teams have been absolutely instrumental in the continued success of the company, demonstrating incredible dedication, commitment and agility in the face of enormous and unforeseen hurdles …”

“Absolutely instrumental,” and, yet, ultimately expendable. I’m certainly not trying to tell the studios chiefs how to run their businesses. But somehow, this just doesn’t make any sense.

‘Silence of the Lambs’ on Sale at FandangoNow, Vudu

FandangoNow and Vudu are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the date The Silence of the Lambs debuted on the big screen (Feb. 14) with a sale on the film, a discounted film bundle and a trivia video.

Both FandangoNow and Vudu are transactional VOD services owned by Fandango.

During the sale, The Silence of the Lambs is available for purchase at $7.99 in both 4K UHD and HD (usually $13.99). Lambs is also available as part of a two-film bundle (with Ridley Scott’s Hannibal) at $9.99.

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Fandango has also produced a Movieclips trivia video on the on-screen evolution of Clarice and Hannibal:

CBS this month debuted a series based on the story called “Clarice.”

Universal Celebrates ‘Croods’ Release With Virtual Museum Events

La Brea Tar Pits, part of the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County, and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History have partnered with Universal Pictures Home Entertainment on educational virtual “Camp Croods,” based on the DreamWorks Animation family film The Croods: A New Age.

The Croods: A New Age will be available to own on digital Feb. 9 and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD Feb. 23, 2021, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The two separate interactive programs will feature hands-on activities and scientific investigation to explore the Ice Age, human origins and the fate of saber-toothed cats. Families will have the chance to meet real-life paleontologists and archaeologists, participate in DIY art projects, explore virtual tar pits (La Brea Tar Pits camp), take a virtual tour of the Human Origins exhibition (Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History camp) and experience drawing demonstrations that bring the prehistoric Croods characters to life.

“Bringing the world of The Croods to life with the help of these two distinguished museums within an exclusive setting is a truly unique opportunity that we are pleased to share virtually with families and kids,” said Hilary Hoffman, EVP of global marketing for Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. “As time-honored brands for research, discovery and exhibition, La Brea Tar Pits and the Smithsonian continue to develop entertaining and engaging programs for kids making them the ideal partners to celebrate the home entertainment release of The Croods: A New Age, the must-own family movie of the year.”

The La Brea Tar Pits camp takes place Feb. 11 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. PT and Feb. 13 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. PT. (Free. Registration required. RSVP at tarpits.org/campcroods).

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History camp takes place Feb. 23 from 6 to 7 p.m. ET (Free. Registration required. RSVP at s.si.edu/croods ).

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“This collaboration is a great opportunity to showcase the ways in which art and science intersect, while at the same time introducing families to La Brea Tar Pits, the world’s only active paleontological research facility in a major urban area,” said Dr. Lori Bettison-Varga, president and director of the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County. “We are grateful to Universal and DreamWorks for helping us provide campers with a new way to see science in action and encourage them to keep exploring the world around them — be it through paleontology or animation.”

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“We are excited to join with Universal and DreamWorks to take visitors to Camp Croods on a journey back in time to explore the evidence scientists use to understand the lives of early humans,” said Dr. Kirk Johnson, sant director of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. “Campers will embark on a virtual tour of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History’s Hall of Human Origins which examines the lives and environments of our earliest ancestors and considers the notion of what it means to be human.”

HBO Max Launches ‘Superintelligence’ Charity Campaign

HBO Max has kicked off a “20 Days of Kindness” campaign on behalf of its new film Superintelligence, launching Nov. 26 on the service from New Line Cinema.

Star Melissa McCarthy and director Ben Falcone announced the campaign Nov. 10 during their appearance on “The Today Show” while launching the first trailer for the movie. With a “20 for 20 in 20” initiative, HBO Max will highlight and donate $20,000 to a different good cause daily for 20 days while encouraging others to lend their support. In addition, AT&T helped kick off the campaign with a $1 million contribution to Girls Who Code, an international non-profit organization working to close the gender gap in technology and change the image of what a programmer looks like and does.

On Nov. 13, World Kindness Day, the campaign will celebrate acts of kindness shared across social media. Content can include a post, tagging someone with a kind word, or showing a short video of a random act of kindness.  Talent and influencers will help launch the program, encouraging others to participate using the hashtag #20DaysOfKindness.

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Consumers can go to https://20daysofkindness.com for more information and to follow the different charities daily. As part of the #20DaysofKindness campaign, McCarthy, Falcone and HBO Max are also launching a Prizeo charity sweepstakes, giving away a Tesla, a hangout with McCarthy and Falcone, and chances to attend the premiere with all funds raised benefitting Conservation International, World Central Kitchen, and Make-A-Wish. For more information visit prizeo.com/superintelligence.

In the film, when an all-powerful Superintelligence (James Corden) chooses to study the most average person on Earth, Carol Peters (Melissa McCarthy), the fate of the world hangs in the balance. As the A.I. decides to enslave, save or destroy humanity, it’s up to Carol to prove that people are worth saving.

First BlumFest Will Be Celebrated Online Oct. 29 Touting Blumhouse Projects

Blumhouse Productions is mounting the first of what it hopes will be an annual BlumFest Oct. 29 at 10 a.m. PT on its YouTube channel and Facebook page.

The event will feature the stars from the upcoming Blumhouse films Freaky and The Craft: Legacy; talent and filmmakers from other Blumhouse feature films and television series; and several surprise guests in a celebration composed of virtual panels, sneak previews, updates and news announcements.

“This year has sidelined a lot for all of us, but Halloween is a treasured season at Blumhouse, so we conceived BlumFest to celebrate with our fans via a virtual event that will feature exclusive interviews and never-before-seen footage on an upcoming release or two,” Jason Blum, Blumhouse CEO and founder, said in a statement.

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Hosted and moderated by Jacqueline Coley, editor at Rotten Tomatoes, BlumFest 2020 will feature news announcements and virtual panels with the cast and filmmakers from the following Blumhouse projects:

  • Welcome to the Blumhouse — The program features Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios, and Jason Blum in a conversation about the collaboration between Amazon and Blumhouse on the recently launched films, The Lie, Nocturne, Evil Eye and Black Box. Mamoudou Athie from the film Black Box will join the conversation, along with surprise guests. The four films are available to stream on Amazon Prime Video now.
  • The Craft: Legacy — Writer-director Zoe Lister Jones and her film’s coven, stars Cailee Spaeny, Gideon Adlon, Lovie Simone and Zoey Luna, have a chat about continuing the original film cult hit and reveal secrets from the set. The film is set for Oct. 28 (midnight) release on PVOD and electronic sellthrough in North America, with a planned theatrical release in select international countries.
  • Freaky — Writer-director Chris Landon, stars Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton, and producer Jason Blum talk about the body-swapping horror comedy that will arrive in theaters on Nov. 13 in the United States and in select international markets.
  • Halloween Kills — Writer-director David Gordon Green, actress Jamie Lee Curtis, franchise producer Malek Akkad from Trancas Films, producer Bill Block from Miramax, and producer Jason Blum convene to talk about the upcoming film’s October 2021 release.
  • “The Good Lord Bird” — Executive producer, writer and star, Ethan Hawke, of the critically acclaimed series, and series executive producer Jason Blum discuss their most recent collaboration, which is currently airing on Showtime.

Netflix Bowing Free 48-Hour Streaming Access Marketing Campaigns

Netflix recently ended giving new subscribers free 30-day trials. Now, the SVOD behemoth is looking to give consumers in select regions free limited access to the service.

The campaign, dubbed “StreamFest” and kicking off Dec. 4 in India, was disclosed on the service’s Oct. 20 fiscal webcast by Greg Peters, COO and chief product officer.

“We think that giving everyone in a country access to Netflix for free for a weekend could be a great way to expose a bunch of new people to the amazing stories that we have, the service, how the service works, really create an event, and hopefully get a bunch of those folks to sign up,” Peters said.

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Peters said the Netflix team is always assessing, testing and trying to understand what’s working with consumers and how to improve the service. He said both marketing and promotion teams test concepts around the world in select markets, including the United States.

“We seek to innovate and come up with what are new ways that we can use to introduce Netflix to new members,” he said. [“StreamFest”] is just an example of the kind of innovation that we seek to do in this space.”

Vudu Picks Top Bad Boss Movies and TV Shows for National Boss’s Day

For National Boss’s Day, Fandango’s transactional streaming service Vudu has programmed a playlist of the most memorably maddening bosses, with a sale on the top movies, led by the 1999 dark comedy Office Space.

“Gary Cole’s soul-crushing, passive-aggressive Lumbergh is everyone’s favorite nightmarish boss,” Fandango editor Erik Davis said in a statement. “And his annoying omnipresence in Mike Judge’s iconic Office Space still haunts us to this day. From Meryl Streep’s hard-charging magazine editor Miranda Priestly to Steve Carell’s clueless branch manager Michael Scott, there is no shortage of awful bosses in movies and TV shows, and fans can head to Vudu to enjoy watching their memorable antics and get much-needed laughs, scare and thrills.”

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The top picks for the worst bosses in movies and TV are:

The Worst Bosses in the Movies:

  1. Office Space (Gary Cole)
  2. The Devil Wears Prada (Meryl Streep)
  3. 9 to 5 (Dabney Colman)
  4. Wall Street (Michael Douglas)
  5. The Devil’s Advocate (Al Pacino)
  6. Horrible Bosses (Jennifer Aniston)
  7. Scrooged (Bill Murray)
  8. The Wolf of Wall Street (Leonardo DiCaprio)
  9. The Social Network (Jesse Eisenberg)
  10. Working Girl (Sigourney Weaver)
  11. Boiler Room (Ben Affleck)
  12. The Proposal (Sandra Bullock)
  13. Glengarry Glen Ross (Alec Baldwin)
  14. Jurassic World (Bryce Dallas Howard)
  15. RoboCop (Ronny Cox)

 

The Worst Bosses in TV Shows:

  1. “The Office” (Steve Carell) and “The Office” (Ricky Gervais) — tied
  2. “Mad Men” (Jon Hamm)
  3. “Ugly Betty” (Vanessa Williams)
  4. “Parks and Recreation” (Nick Offerman)
  5. “The Simpsons” (“Mr. Burns” voiced by Harry Shearer)