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. PST 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,” said Jason Blum, Blumhouse CEO and founder, 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 EST 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 U.S.

“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)

Hulu Launches Watch Party Promo for ‘Pen15’ Season Two Premiere

To celebrate the Sept. 18 premiere of season two of “Pen15,” for the next 10 days, Hulu users will be able to stream the Emmy-nominated comedy together through a series-branded Hulu Watch Party feature.

In keeping with the theme of the show, the Watch Party experience resembles a classic online chat room, complete with screen names taken from the series.

Viewers can launch the Hulu Watch Party through the details page for the series on Hulu.com. Clicking on the Watch Party icon will trigger a shareable link that a user can then share with their friends or family. Hulu Watch Party supports up to eight people per session and viewers must be 18 years of age or older to access the feature.

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Viewers can also call 1-855-HULU-FAN to hear a pre-recorded conversation between the show’s lead characters Maya and Anna. Callers can listen in on a conversation between the two best friends, provide their cell phone number when prompted and receive a link to download a digital pack complete with Zoom backgrounds, GIFs, exclusive behind-the-scenes footage and phone wallpapers. Fans (who are 18 years or older) can dial 1-855-HULU-FAN starting at 11 a.m. PT/2 p.m. ET through Sept. 30.

Studio Marketers Push Direct-to-Consumer Approach During Pandemic

As Hollywood slowly re-emerges from shutdown during the coronavirus pandemic, studios have rejiggered marketing efforts to help sell content and entice a wary consumer base.

At an Aug. 31 online industry roundtable, marketing reps from Amazon Studios, Universal Pictures, Sony Pictures, Neon and Searchlight Pictures International discussed the marketing challenges for new movies in the COVID-19 era. Specifically, studios contend they don’t have the luxury of time to educate consumers about a new title as they did pre-COVID-19.

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“In the old days … we all thought that you had to launch a trailer early out, maybe four, five months out, and then you would build awareness and so forth,” Dwight Caines, co-president of marketing at Universal, told the roundtable hosted by Variety. “Now, we launch trailers a month and a half out and feel that we can still build awareness for that core audience.”

The marketers said social media and video chat platforms have become the new norm pushing a movie, the director and key actors to the consumer in place of the previous press-junket that often limited talent to time-consuming one-on-one interviews.

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“There’s something that’s very democratic and sort of egalitarian about being able to work with the talent in different time zones via technology,” said Searchlight’s Rebecca Kearey.

Marketers said the move toward premium VOD and transactional VOD for some new-release titles has been helped by advancements in technology that enable talent to conduct many more interviews from the comfort of their home.

“That’s one of the elements that when we return to life as we knew it, a theatrical experience, we will still keep some of those remote publicity and campaign opportunities,” Caines said.

Christian Davin, head of movie marketing at Amazon, said the push toward PVOD and expedited transactional VOD allows studios “to pierce the cultural zeitgeist in a global way.”

“When you have a singular day and date release around the world, it no longer matters if you live near a theater … or if you’re in a country where in a traditional model the movie wouldn’t get to you for a couple of weeks. You can, through the power of technology, have a shared universal experience with people across the globe,” Davin said.

Universal Launches Digital Movie Promotion With 1-800-Flowers

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment is making some of its most popular films available as an add-on purchase for 1-800-Flowers.com customers.

Customers of the flower delivery service have the opportunity to purchase a digital movie as a complement to their gift, while also letting their gift recipients select the movie of their choice from a slate of film titles.

At launch, hundreds of films from the Universal vault will be available as a digital movie add-on, including recent releases, such as Trolls World Tour and The Invisible Man, along with catalog titles, such as Jurassic WorldJaws and Back to the Future. Customers can choose from two pricing tiers, $6.99 for award-winning classic and popular hit films and $9.99 for blockbuster hits and newer releases. The movie is the recipient’s to keep through the digital movie collection app Movies Anywhere.

“With many people choosing to stay home, backyards everywhere have been transformed into makeshift movie theaters,” Amit Shah, president of 1-800-Flowers.com, said in a statement. “This exciting collaboration with Universal, together with the unique delivery experience designed by SmartGift, provides a fantastic new way for customers to engage with our brand and connect with each other.”

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Via SmartGift, customers can synchronize the arrival of their digital movie code with their gift delivery. They can also notify the recipient that their gift is on its way and surprise them with the film ahead of time. Through the messaging app of their choice — email, Facebook Messenger or SMS — recipients will digitally unwrap their gift to find a redemption code which will unlock access to a list of films from which they can make their movie selection.

“Digital movie collecting continues to surge,” Michael Aaronson, SVP of Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, said in a statement. “Now consumers can enrich every gifting occasion with a personalized movie experience that, for the first time, offers the opportunity to pair a digital movie with another gift via a major e-commerce brand. By giving the recipient the power to choose the film that is right for them, this collaboration introduces the most personalized and flexible digital movie gifting experience in the marketplace. We look forward to expanding this unique add-on offer across the broader 1-800-Flowers.com Inc. portfolio of brands in the coming months.”

Recipients will receive a curated list of ideas for suggested movie pairings to complement their gifting occasion, including Birthdays, Anniversaries and Get Well.

Through Movies Anywhere, gift recipients can redeem their code and view the movie at their convenience on the screen of their choice.

Now through Sept, 9, customers will have the opportunity to enter to win some of the essentials needed to create a theater-quality experience in their backyard, including a portable projector and screen, digital movie code, a premium The Popcorn Factory 18-Pack Popcorn Sampler and more. For more information, visit https://www.1800flowers.com/universal-pictures.

“How-to” resources for setting up a movie night under the stars can be found here.

Netflix Apologizes for ‘Inappropriate’ Pre-Teen Movie Marketing

Netflix has moved quickly to change marketing images for upcoming French movie Cuties, about preteen girls involved in a hip-hop dance group.

The streaming giant found itself in hot water after releasing a movie poster that many observers alleged sexualized underage girls.

The movie, titled Mignonnes in France, revolves around an 11-year-old Senegal girl named Amy who lives with her mother in a Paris ghetto. Amy befriends a neighbor, Angelica, and her dance group called the “Cuties.”

The French poster for the movie depicts young girls having fun, while the Netflix poster showcased preteen cheerleaders in skimpy, midriff-baring costumes.

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“We’re sorry for the inappropriate artwork that we used for this film,” Netflix said in a statement. “This was not an accurate representation of the film so the image and description has been updated.”

Cuties streams on Netflix Sept. 9, after releasing theatrically in France Aug. 19. The movie was originally slated to bow in cinemas on April 1, but shelved following the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

 

FandangoNow Offers Promo on Preorders of ‘Bill & Ted Face the Music’

Consumers who rent Bill & Ted Face the Music (due Aug. 28) in advance on FandangoNow can get 50% off rentals of more than 100 movies starring big-screen duos like Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter.

The deal includes the pair’s first two epics Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. Other films in the offer include Bad Boys for Life, Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion, House Party, Thelma & Louise, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, Booksmart, The Blues Brothers, Wayne’s World, Tommy Boy, The Heat, The Sting, Bonnie & Clyde, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Friday, Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, Midnight Run, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Back to the Future, Keanu and Ted.

Consumers will have 30 days to begin watching the titles after they are rented. For more info on the more than 100 discounted titles in the deal, see FandangoNow’s Movie Duos.

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A Steelbook Treat for ‘Halloween’

Home entertainment disc collectors have long prized Steelbook packaging as a superior artwork showcase for films in their libraries.

For John Carpenter’s 1978 horror classic Halloween, Lionsgate tapped Phantom City Creative to design distinctive Steelbook artwork for the Sept. 29 exclusive release at Best Buy — a retailer known by collectors for the packaging format.

The husband-wife duo of Justin Erickson and Paige Reynolds, the artists behind the Toronto-based company (appropriately formed on Friday the 13th in 2010), have worked on a variety of Steelbooks for Lionsgate, including the “Twilight” series. For the creative team, each piece of box art is informed by input from studio marketers, research and knowledge of the fan base.

“The process always starts with a conversation with the studio marketing team, since projects like these are a collaborative effort. They’re a part of the process from pitch to completion,” Erickson said. “After we talk over the creative brief, I do as much research into the property as I can. In the end not only does the client need to be happy, but the people who would like the movie need to like it. It would be a disservice to the movie if a failed piece of artwork stops it from getting the audience that it deserves. We try to put ourselves in the mind frame of a fan of the property — and go from there.”

Creating box art is also an exercise in getting the title noticed and communicating a vision for the shopper/collector.

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“For me what good box art boils down to is what portrays the movie in a clear, concise and fun way,” Erickson said. “Like good theatrical key art, the box cover needs to communicate what the movie or TV show is all about in the quickest time possible to grab attention. The fun challenge is to create something that a movie lover would love to have in their collection.”

For a classic such as Halloween, Erickson — a fan of the film him-self — wanted to come up with a concept that would be something special.

“Putting ourselves in the right mind frame for a Halloween fan wasn’t very difficult, since I’m a huge fan of the movie,” Erickson said. “In the conceptual stage, we explored different ways of portraying Michael Myers and different printing methods that could be fun. With so many different editions and releases of Halloween on the market, I wanted this release to stand out and make fans of the movie happy.”

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The final artwork features the iconic combatants made famous by Halloween, the murderous Michael Myers and the virtuous Laurie Strode, played by Jamie Lee Curtis. The two belonged on the box, the team decided.

“Halloween IS Michael Myers and Laurie Strode,” Erickson noted. “Myers’ mask is so iconic, and Jamie Lee Curtis gives a fantastic performance where you genuinely care about Laurie Strode and whether she makes it to the end of the movie or not. Right away both the client and myself wanted to feature Jamie Lee Curtis in the artwork. To explore all avenues, there were concepts that didn’t include her, but we always gravitated toward the ones that featured her.”

The design also employs an understated sepia tone, which Erickson noted evokes the mood of the film better than a blood-soaked cover.

“While a red color scheme was explored, the sepia version was my favorite from the beginning,” he said. “Halloween is a slasher — THE slasher film in my opinion — but it’s remarkably bloodless. What makes the movie stand out is the menace of Michael Myers, the atmosphere and tension created by John Carpenter and performance of Jamie Lee Curtis. The fall tones of the sepia color scheme gave us an honest representation of the film. Fans of Halloween would spot a piece of artwork that didn’t match the movie in a heartbeat and avoid it like an apple in a candy sack.”

Leaves flow across the cover, evoking Laurie’s famous fall walk through the neighborhood unaware that a killer is stalking his prey.

“The leaves were a fun way to play with the shape (pun intended) of the composition and include elements that communicate the Halloween season,” Erickson said. “An argument could even be made that the dead leaves are a portent of danger and death.”

The Halloween Steelbook has al-ready gotten fans excited.

“Best Buy stepping up their SB game, and my wallet doesn’t like it,” wrote one fan.

“I NEED THIS,” wrote another. “They really gotta stop making these designs. I’ll get an eviction notice soon.”

Pleasing such fans is the most satisfying part of his job, Erickson said.

“Even if I’m not a fan of the property, hearing the fans of it love the art makes me very happy,” Erickson said. “With projects like this, it’s not about me in the end.”

Hulu Launches Ad-Assist Program for Small- and Medium-Sized Businesses

Hulu has launched the Creative Partner Program to assist small- and medium-sized businesses in creating advertising on the service.

The program offers access to “creative partners who are specially trained in Hulu best practices, and have expertise creating unique, non-templated ads for smaller businesses at all stages of the advertising creative process,” according to Faye Trapani, director of self-service platform sales.

The Creative Partner Program currently consists of four partners: GeneroShuttlerockQuickFrame and VidMob.

The service helps smaller businesses to design a program “whether an advertiser is repurposing an existing video for streaming TV or ‘baking from scratch,’” according to Trapani.

The Creative Partner Program offers a range of production options and price points.

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