Report: Amazon, MGM Acquisition Deal Imminent

Amazon’s reported $9 billion interest in MGM Holdings is reportedly set to happen as early as this week. The Wall Street Journal, citing sources familiar with the situation, reported the deal, which would jumpstart Amazon’s movie and TV show ambitions, would be the e-commerce retailer’s second-largest purchase following the $13.7 billion agreement to buy Whole Foods in 2017.

MGM, which is owned by private-equity group Anchorage Capital, has been on the sales block since last year — enticing would-be buyers with a 4,000-movie catalog that includes the “James Bond,” “Rocky,” “RoboCop,” “Pink Panther,” “Tomb Raider,” “Chucky” and “Legally Blonde” franchises, among others, in addition to TV show productions.

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Paramount Theatrical Releases to Stream on Branded SVOD Service 30 to 45 Days After Box Office Release

The pending Paramount+ subscription streaming service will offer access to some Paramount Pictures theatrical releases as early as 30 to 45 days after their box office debut. The SVOD service launches March 4 with a $9.99 ad-free plan, followed in June by a $4.99 monthly ad-supported option.

The higher-priced ad-free plan offers more exclusive content.

The shortened theatrical window, which underscores ongoing industry changes while remaining loyal to the traditional exhibition market, was announced Feb. 24 in a special investor presentation by ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish.

Paramount titles on tap in 2021 include Top Gun: Maverick with Tom Cruise; A Quiet Place II; The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run (available on the streaming service at launch as well as PVOD rental March 4); Coming 2 America (sold to Amazon Prime Video); Mission: Impossible 7; The Saint; Clifford the Big Red Dog; sci-fi movies including The Tomorrow War and Infinite; and Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins, among others.

Third-party studio movies, including MGM Studios, will also be available on Paramount+ 90 days after their box office debut.

Films that are released from theatrical to Paramount+ also will be available, simultaneously, through traditional home entertainment channels, including disc and transactional video.

Some marquee titles, including Top Gun: Maverick and Clifford the Big Red Dog, will follow traditional release patterns, from theatrical to transactional home entertainment (disc and digital).

Original films that are being produced specifically for Paramount+ also will be released later through transactional home entertainment channels.

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“As we always have, we believe in the power of theatrical releases and we have faith that after things get back to normal audiences will enthusiastically return to theaters,” Jim Gianopulos, CEO of Paramount Pictures, said on the webcast. “At the same time, consumers have increasingly embraced streaming as another way to enjoy films. Our strategy accounts for both.”

Separately, Paramount+ in early 2022 will be the exclusive home to Halo, a feature-length movie based on the venerable video game franchise. In addition, the studio and MGM-owned Epix announced an expansion of an existing distribution agreement whereby select MGM titles will be available first on the premium channel before made available to Paramount+. Titles include House of Gucci, Creed III and the delayed latest James Bond movie No Time to Die.

 

Epix Joining Comcast, Launching Movie Streaming Platform

MGM-owned Epix Dec. 10 revealed is has joined Comcast’s Xfinity TV premium package nationwide. As part of an expanded carriage agreement announced in October, Xfinity TV subscribers have access to Epix’s lineup of movies and original series.

Launched in October 2009 by Lionsgate, Viacom and MGM, Epix is available nationwide through cable, telco, satellite and emerging digital distribution platforms as well as through the Epix Now app, providing more movies than any other network with thousands of titles available for streaming.

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Epix original content includes “Godfather of Harlem,” starring and executive produced by Forest Whitaker; “Pennyworth,” the origin story of Batman’s butler Alfred; “Perpetual Grace, LTD,” starring Sir Ben Kingsley; “Get Shorty,” featuring Chris O’Dowd and Ray Romano; spy thriller “Deep State”; and docuseries “NFL: The Grind,” from NFL Films and hosted by Rich Eisen; “PUNK” from John Varvatos and Iggy Pop; as well as upcoming premieres of new series “Belgravia,” from Julian Fellowes; docuseries “Slow Burn,” based on the hit podcast, and “Laurel Canyon”.

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Epix, Dec. 12 will also launch ScreenPix, a suite of library channels offering a curated collection of classic movies, uncut and commercial free. The ScreenPix suite includes ScreenPix; ScreenPix: Action; ScreenPix: Westerns; and ScreenPix: Voices, a channel dedicated to diverse voices. ScreenPix will also be available to Xfinity Digital Preferred subscribers.

Netflix’s Stephen Bruno Joins MGM as Chief Marketing Officer

Metro Goldwyn Mayer March 21 announced it has hired marketing executive Stephen Bruno as chief marketing officer. Bruno joins the studio from Netflix and will start in April.

Bruno, who has been VP, global marketing at Netflix since 2015, will oversee global marketing and brand strategy for MGM and its film and television properties. He will work with CCO Christopher Brearton, as well as Mark Burnett, chairman of MGM’s worldwide television group, Nancy Tellem, executive director, and Jonathan Glickman, president of MGM Studios’ motion picture group, to promote the MGM brand and all of the Company’s film and television projects and properties.

He will also work with teams throughout MGM to identify and execute on marketing opportunities that tap into the loyal following of its historic library while also attracting new audiences around the world.

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“Stephen is a creative industry leader and we are excited to welcome him to MGM as we build on our momentum as a leading independent content creator backed by an iconic library of brands,” Burnett and Brearton said in a co-statement. “He has been at the forefront of developing disruptive marketing executions in traditional and emerging media spaces across the globe.”

The executives said Bruno would be especially invaluable to United Artists Releasing as the newly-expanded venture furthers the studio’s legacy.

At Netflix, Bruno oversaw the global teams responsible for conceptualizing, creating and executing on the positioning and promotion of the streaming service’s originals across all verticals including series, “Stranger Things,”“13 Reasons Why,” “Orange is the New Black,” “The Crown,” “Narcos,” feature films, Bird BoxMudboundTo All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, documentaries and unscripted, Wild Wild CountryMaking a MurdererQueer EyeNailed It, and comedy specials.

Prior to Netflix, Bruno worked at The Weinstein Company and Miramax Films, supervising the execution of several theatrical releases including Django UnchainedSilver Linings PlaybookLee Daniel’s The ButlerThe Artist, and Fruitvale Station. Bruno also worked at HBO as a Director of Consumer Marketing working on titles such as Curb Your Enthusiasm and Eastbound and Down.

 

 

MGM Studios Ups Q3 Home Entertainment Revenue 30%

MGM Studios Nov. 15 reported third-quarter (ended Sept. 30) home entertainment revenue of $21.8 million, which was up 30% from revenue of $16.9 million during the previous-year period.

The studio attributed the increase to digital sales of Tomb Raider and ongoing domestic home entertainment distribution of Death Wish and Every Day, plus continued distribution of library content.

Indeed, the Tomb Raider prequel rebootwith Alicia Vikander reprising Angelina Jolie’s Lara Croft character, has generated $12.6 million in combined DVD/Blu-ray Disc units sales since its June 12 release by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, according to The-Numbers.com. The film is the 28th best-selling disc in 2018.

Death Wish, starring Bruce Willis in a remake of the classic 1973 revenge thriller that starred the late Charles Bronson, has sold $7.4 million in disc sales since its June 5 retail street date.

Home entertainment revenue for the prior-year’s quarter primarily included distribution of The Belko Experiment, The Magnificent Seven and library content.

In television programming, home entertainment and related revenue was $7.9 million, which was largely in line with $8 million in revenue last year. Revenue in each period was primarily driven by the strong retail performance of The Handmaid’s Tale (seasons 1 and 2).

The latter doesn’t include disc sales of season 2, which isn’t available until Dec. 4 from MGM Studios Home Entertainment.

Through nine months of the fiscal year, home entertainment movie revenue is up 16% to $78.1 million from $67.5 million last year. Revenue drivers included previously mentioned movie titles, in addition to ongoing revenue from Spectre, The Hobbit trilogy and additional library content.

Television program home entertainment revenue increased 26% to $26.9 million from $21.3 million last year – again driven by The Handmaid’s Tale.

MGM Studios Home Entertainment Revenue No ‘Death Wish’

Home entertainment sales of movies and TV shows has come back strong for MGM Studios.

The venerable studio Aug. 14 said second-quarter (ended June 30) global home entertainment revenue for film content topped $37.1 million, an increase of $18.2 million, or 97%, as compared to $18.9 million in revenue for the previous-year period.

Primary (physical and digital) drivers included the domestic home entertainment reboots of Death Wish, starring Bruce Willis, and Tomb Raider, featuring Alicia Vikander, plus ongoing distribution of library content. By comparison, home entertainment revenue for the prior-year quarter included distribution of Spectre, The Hobbit trilogy and other library content.

Home entertainment and other revenue for television content reached $8.5 million, up $3.8 million, or 79%, as compared to $4.7 million last year. The increase was primarily driven by the continued strong home entertainment performance of “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

Through the first six month of the year, worldwide home entertainment revenue for film content reached $56.3 million, an increase of $5.6 million, or 11%, as compared to $50.7 million for the six months ended June 30, 2017.

Home entertainment and other revenue for TV content was $19 million for the six months, an increase of $5.7 million, or 43%, as compared to $13.3 million last year.

MGM Studios Q1 Home Entertainment Revenue Plummets

Limited to catalog releases, MGM Studios Home Entertainment reported first-quarter (ended March 31) global revenue of $19.1 million, down 40% ($12.8 million) from revenue of $31.9 million for the previous-year period.

Home entertainment revenue for the prior-year quarter primarily included worldwide electronic sellthrough revenue for The Magnificent Seven and Ben-Hur, plus ongoing revenue from Spectre, the “Hobbit” trilogy, Creed and library content.

On the bright side, home entertainment revenue from television content topped $10.5 million, up $2 million (23.5%) from revenue of $8.5 million for the previous-year period.

The increase was primarily driven by the continued strong home entertainment sales of season 1 of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which streams exclusively on Hulu.

MGM distributes its content via several major studios, including 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment for Spectre, SkyfallDeath Wish, Every Day, RoboCop, “Vikings,” “Get Shorty,” “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Teen Wolf,” among others,as well as certain EST distribution rights feature films and television content. MGM’s agreement with Fox expires June 30, 2020.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment distributes the “Jump Street” franchise and The Magnificent Seven; Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is the physical home entertainment distributor for the “Hobbit” trilogy, Creed, Max, Me Before You, Tomb Raider and Everything, Everything.

Fox is the physical home entertainment distributor for Poltergeist; and Paramount Home Media Distribution is the physical home entertainment distributor for Sherlock Gnomes and Ben-Hur.

‘Death Wish’ Debuts May 22 on Digital, June 5 on Disc

Death Wish, starring Bruce Willis, will come out digitally on 4K Ultra HD and HD May 22 and Blu-ray, DVD and video-on-demand 4K Ultra HD and HD services June 5 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment and MGM.

The film earned $33.9 million in U.S. theaters.

In director Eli Roth’s reimagining of the 1974 revenge thriller, Dr. Paul Kersey (Willis) is a surgeon who only sees the aftermath of his city’s violence as it’s rushed into his ER – until his wife (Elisabeth Shue) and college-age daughter (Camila Morrone) are viciously attacked in their suburban home. With the police overloaded with crimes, Kersey hunts for his family’s assailants to deliver justice.

Updated from the original novel by Brian Garfield, the film also stars Vincent D’Onofrio, Dean Norris and Kimberly Elise.

Special features include  commentary with Eli Roth and producer Roger Birnbaum; deleted scenes with optional commentary with Roth and Birnbaum; “Mancow Morning Show” extended scenes; “Sway in the Morning” extended scene; “Vengeance and Vision: Directing Death Wish”; and Grindhouse trailer.

MGM Studios 2017 Home Entertainment Revenue Plummets — Without James Bond

MGM Studios March 28 reported fiscal 2017 (ended Dec. 31, 2017) home entertainment revenue of $91.9 million, which was down 55% from revenue of $206.5 million during the previous-year period.

MGM attributed the decline to comparisons with the global release of Spectre during the prior-year period, strong digital sales from the latest James Bond installment starring Daniel Craig; Rocky-themed boxing drama Creed, ongoing revenue from other recently released films, and the tail-end of the studio’s worldwide home entertainment promotion (i.e. catalog sales) for the James Bond franchise.

Spectre, which is distributed by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, generated $36.2 million in disc sales, according to The-Numbers.com. Creed — distributed by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment — generated $25.3 million.

Fiscal 2017 also included revenue from recent film releases, primarily worldwide digital revenue for The Magnificent Seven and Ben-Hur, home entertainment revenue for The Belko Experiment, plus ongoing revenue from Spectre, The Hobbit trilogy and additional library content.

Home entertainment revenue from TV content topped $33.8 million, up 1% from $33.6 million in 2016.

Finally, MGM announced that its senior management team would continue to run the company following the March 21 termination of CEO Gary Barber.

Gary Barber Out as CEO of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Gary Barber, chairman and CEO of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Holdings, has been let go after eight years in the position. No reason was given for the move.

Media reports suggest disagreement between Barber and the board on the future of the venerable studio, whose franchises include James Bond movies, “The Voice,” “Survivor” and “The Handmaid’s Tale,” among others. MGM also owns multiplatform distribution channel Epix.

The studio, which includes MGM Home Entertainment, has formed an “Office of CEO” to oversee day-to-day operations while a new CEO is found.

MGM said it would provide a business update March 28 when it reports fourth-quarter fiscal results.