Reelgood: ‘Saltburn’ Remains Atop Weekly Streaming Through Jan. 10

Prime Video’s critically-acclaimed MGM Studios comedy thriller Saltburn repeated as the most-streamed weekly content through Jan. 10, according to new data from Reelgood.com, which tracks real-time data from 5 million users in the United States across SVOD and AVOD services for original and acquired streaming programs and movies.

Chart newcomers included the new Netflix thriller series “Fool Me Once” at No. 2, ahead of Prime Video’s former chart topper “Reacher” at No. 3. Among other chart returnees: Hulu’s Golden Globe winning “The Bear,” about a dysfunctional family diner in Chicago, at No. 10.

MGM Studios, Prime Video Laying Off Hundreds of Employees

Amazon Jan. 10 began eliminating “several hundred” positions worldwide across its MGM Studios and Prime Video operations as part of ongoing internal restructuring.

In a staff memo from Mike Hopkins, SVP at Prime Video & Amazon MGM Studios, first reported by Variety, the longtime executive said the company had spent the past year analyzing “every aspect” of the business tasked with improving its ability to deliver “even more breakthrough movies, TV shows, and live sports” to consumers.

Amazon said it is downsizing investments in several undisclosed areas, while increasing spending on content and related product initiatives.

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“As a result of these decisions, we will be eliminating several hundred roles across the Prime Video and Amazon MGM Studios organization,” Hopkins wrote in the memo.

Hopkins said affected staff in the Americas would be notified by this morning (Pacific time), while impacted staff in other regions would be notified by the end of the week.
“This is a difficult decision to make and one that my leadership team and I do not take lightly,” Hopkins wrote. “It is hard to say goodbye to talented Amazonians who’ve made meaningful contributions on behalf of our customers, team and business.”
Amazon is spending more than $1 billion a year exclusively distributing “Thursday Night Football” on Prime Video as part of a 11-year deal with the NFL. The ecommerce behemoth reportedly spent $16.6 billion on video and music content in 2022, which includes “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power,” — reportedly the most-expensive TV show ever produced. Amazon acquired MGM Studios in 2021 for $8.5 billion in cash.

Samba TV: Older Millennials Drive ‘Air’ Movie Viewership on Prime Video

The availability of Ben Affleck’s basketball movie Air, about the groundbreaking relationship between Nike and budding superstar Michael Jordan in the 1980s, proved a hit on Prime Video.

More than 1.1 million U.S. households streamed the movie during its live+2D window, according to Samba TV, which tracks viewership intel across 48 million connected televisions worldwide. By comparison, 1.6 million U.S. households streamed Netflix fictional basketball movie Hustle in the live + 2D window, starring Adam Sandler as a fledgling basketball scout who discovers an extraordinary player in Eastern Europe.

Air was released theatrically by Amazon-owned MGM Studios, generating $86.3 million at the global box office, including $51.6million across North American screens.

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“Older millennials helped drive the surge in [Air] viewership, over-indexing by the highest margin of any age demographic,” Cole Strain, VP of measurement products at Samba TV, said in a statement.

Weekend Box Office Sequel Showdown Could Be a ‘Scream’

Paramount Pictures is releasing Scream VI tonight (March 10), the latest installment in the horror movie franchise, which saw a moviegoer resurgence in 2022 ($138 million global ticket sales) when much of the original cast returned for 2022’s Scream the franchise’s fifth installment).

Sneak Thursday screenings generated $5.7 million, suggesting a strong debut weekend box office for VI through March 12. With franchise co-stars Courtney Cox and Melissa Barrera being joined by new fright “it” girl Jenna Ortega (Netflix’s “Wednesday”), the movie stands a good chance of dethroning current theatrical champ Creed III from MGM Studios.

The latter upended all expectations last weekend, when it set a franchise box office debut of more than $58 million in ticket sales. Its total stands at more than $114 million worldwide.

Scream VI is projected to generate $41 million in its debut, which would be about $11 million less than Scream in 2022, according to Box Office Pro. Creed III is expected to sell less than $28 million in tickets in its sophomore weekend frame to finish at No. 2.

Sony Pictures’ new sci-fi drama 65, about an astronaut (Adam Driver) who crash lands on a mysterious planet only to discover he’s not alone, is projected to sell less than $10 million in tickets, still more than enough to hold off Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania ($7.3 million), Universal Pictures’ ravenous Cocaine Bear ($6.3 million) and Lionsgate’s Jesus Revolution ($5.5 million).

Finally, Universal/Focus Features’ Champions, a basketball-themed sports comedy co-starring Woody Harrelson and Kaitlin Olson (“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”), is set to debut with a modest $4 million in ticket sales.

‘Creed III’ Gets Record $58 Million Knockout Win in Weekend Box Office Debut

Amazon-owned MGM Studios’ boxing drama threequel Creed III handily beat expectations, generating a projected record $58.6 million in revenue across 4,000 North American screens through the March 5 weekend. The tally surpasses $100 million when including overseas ticket sales.

The third installment in the spinoff of the “Rocky” boxing franchise, headlined by Michael B. Jordan (who also directed) playing fictional heavyweight champ Adonis “Donnie” Creed, was expected to generate around $43 million in ticket sales, according to Box Office Pro.

MGM claims the opening, which got off to a strong start following $5.5 million in March 2 sneak screenings, tops all sports-themed theatrical debuts. The previous record was held by Sony Picture Entertainment’s The Karate Kid at $55.6 million in 2010.

Creed III easily bested the previous box office champ, Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, which nosed-dived further generating an estimated $12.5 million in tickets sold, but upping its global haul past $419 million ($186.5 million North America) after three weekends.

Universal Pictures’ horror-comedy Cocaine Bear, which also beat expectations last weekend when it opened to $23 million, finished third with $11 million over the Friday-to-Sunday period to bring its total domestic gross to $41 million.

In fourth place, Sony Pictures-owned Crunchyroll’s Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No YaibaTo the Swordsmith Village debuted to more than $10 million, less than half of the anime franchise’s previous theatrical debut, Demon Slayer: Mugen Train, in 2021.

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Rounding out the top 5 was Lionsgate’s faith-based Jesus Revolution, which added $8.6 million, upping the movie’s 10-day total to $30.5 million. With a 99% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes and an A+ CinemaScore, the film has been positioned solidly with faith-inspired moviegoers. Given its budget and financial model, the film is a hit for Lionsgate and producer Kingdom Story Company.

Lionsgate also released the STX-produced Guy Ritchie-directed action comedy Operation Fortune: Ruse de guerre, generating around $3 million across more than 2,100 North American screens. A modest start for a movie co-starring Jason Statham, Aubrey Plaza, Cary Elwes and Hugh Grant.

Boxing Drama ‘Creed III’ Looks to Deliver Weekend Box Office Knockout

A busy March box office beckons with Amazon/MGM Studios’ Creed III, the third installment in boxing drama spin-off of the “Rocky” franchise, looking to become the champ.

The film finds heavyweight champ Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) defending title and lifestyle against a childhood friend and former boxing prodigy (Jonathan Majors). In addition to headlining the movie, Jordan also directs the follow-up to 2018’s Creed II, which featured elder statesman Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) guiding Creed. That movie generated more than $214 million at the global box office. The threequel could best the sequel’s record $35.6 million North American box office opening and could generate $43 million in ticket sales through March 5, according to Box Office Pro.

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Another new weekend theatrical release, Sony Pictures/Crunchyroll’s anime release Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba — To the Swordsmith Village, follows in the successful footsteps of the 2021 box office hit Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train, which generated $453 million in worldwide ticket sales. To the Swordsmith Village is tracking an opening weekend revenue estimate of around $11 million, significantly below Mugen Train, which debuted with $21.3 million in ticket sales. The former is also expected to finished behind the third weekend of Disney/Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, which should tally around $14 million.

Other weekend box office returnees include Universal Pictures’ Cocaine Bear, which is projected to generate an additional $10.3 million in ticket sales, followed by Lionsgate’s faith-based Jesus Revolution, with $9.4 million in estimated revenue.

Lionsgate is also debuting Guy Ritchie’s international comedy thriller Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre, featuring Jason Statham, Aubrey Plaza, Cary Elwes and Hugh Grant. Box Office Pro suggests the movie is projected to generate $4 million in ticket sales.

Amazon Formally Relaunches Epix as MGM+

Amazon has officially relaunched the erstwhile Epix premium digital streaming platform as MGM+, which will continue to be available nationwide through cable, telco, satellite, and emerging digital distribution channels, as well as through the MGM+ app for $5.99 monthly ($49.99 annually) without ads.

Amazon completed its $8.45 billion acquisition of MGM Studios in 2022.

“It’s a new beginning for our service, as we introduce MGM+,” Michael Wright, head of MGM+, said in a statement. “MGM+ will deliver on its iconic and beloved studio legacy, with cinematic, sophisticated, and transportive storytelling that audiences love.”

The new programming lineup and original content production plans for MGM+ include the Jan. 15 premiere for season three of drama series “Godfather of Harlem,” the true-crime docuseries “Murf the Surf” (Feb. 5)the six-episode limited series “A Spy Among Friends” (March 13), and the contemporary sci-fi horror movie FROM (April 23), among other titles.

The library of movies includes Top Gun: Maverick and MGM theatrical hits No Time to Die and House of Gucci, and legacy franchises such as “James Bond” and “Rocky.” The service also offers classic movies, including The Silence of the Lambs, Platoon, RoboCopThe Magnificent Seven, The Wolf of Wall Street, Star Trek Into Darkness, The Lost City, BarbershopThe Pink Panther, In the Heat of the Night, The Thomas Crown Affair, A Quiet Place and Father of the Bride.

Amazon Studios Head Jennifer Salke Adds MGM Studios Oversight

Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios since 2018, will also oversee the venerable MGM Studios Amazon acquired this year for $8.5 billion. The move was announced in a Nov. 29 staff memo from Mike Hopkins, SVP of Prime Video at Amazon Studios. Separately, Chris Brearton, who was COO at MGM, will now be vice president of PVS corporate strategy for MGM+ and MGM Alternative Television.

Longtime television producer Mark Burnett, who was chairman of MGM Television, left the studio earlier this week to return to independent production. Burnett has produced almost 4,000 hours of television programming (notably “The Voice,” “Survivor,” “Shark Tank,” and “The Handmaid’s Tale”), which regularly airs in more than 70 countries worldwide.

“Jen’s outstanding reputation in the creative community has earned her the respect of Hollywood’s top talent throughout the industry,” Hopkins wrote. “With Jen now having oversight of both studios — along with distribution and all creative marketing — creatives will have a single point of entry for the opportunity to showcase their content across all our platforms.”

Amazon Studios is ending 2022 having launched the most expensive original television series ever, “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.”  Other high-profile Prime Video content includes “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan,” “The Boys,” The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and reality show “Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls.” Movies include Borat Subsequent Movie Film and The Tomorrow War.

Amazon Prime Video to Make All James Bond Movies Available on Oct. 5

Prime Video will make available all 25 James Bond movies to stream beginning on Oct. 5 — the day 60 years ago the first Bond movie, Dr. No, introduced Sean Connery as Agent 007 to moviegoers worldwide.

The limited-time streaming option, unveiled in a marketing trailer to Prime Video’s 1.6 million YouTube subscribers, celebrates the franchise’s history and underscores Amazon recent $8 billion purchase of Bond’s home studio, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

The two-minute trailer melds every actor who has played Bond with iconic scenes, including the short-lived George Lazenby, who replaced Connery for one movie, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and incredibly turned down a subsequent multiple Bond movie deal worth millions of dollars to pursue other interests.

In addition to theatrical, Bond movies have been a mainstay in home entertainment over the years, including selling millions of physical and digital copies on Amazon.

Prime Video also released a trailer featuring the most iconic sounds of James Bond movies.

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Amazon, MGM Studios Complete $8.5 Billion Merger

Amazon and MGM Studios March 17 announced the completion of their $8.5 billion merger first announced in May 2021. The companies made the announcement after the deadline for the Federal Trade Commission to block the deal passed. Amazon now gets access to MGM’s library of more than 4,000 movies, including the lucrative “James Bond” franchise, and 17,000 TV shows. The European Union March 15 gave its regulatory approval of the transaction.

“MGM has a nearly century-long legacy of producing exceptional entertainment, and we share their commitment to delivering a broad slate of original films and television shows to a global audience,” Mike Hopkins, SVP of Prime Video and Amazon Studios, said in a statement. “We welcome MGM employees, creators, and talent to Prime Video and Amazon Studios, and we look forward to working together to create even more opportunities to deliver quality storytelling to our customers.”

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Chris Brearton, chief operating officer of MGM, welcomed joining the Amazon Prime Video platform.

“MGM has been responsible for the creation of some of the most well-known and critically acclaimed films and television series of the past century,” he said. “We look forward to continuing that tradition as we head into this next chapter, coming together with the great team at Prime Video and Amazon Studios to provide audiences with the very best in entertainment for years to come.”