Amazon Adding Lionsgate, Starz Content to MGM+ Streaming Platform in the U.K.

Amazon’s Prime Video Channels has added access to Lionsgate and Starz content to the pending MGM+ (formerly Epix) streaming service availability in the United Kingdom. The deal mirrors similar distribution deals made between Prime Video Channels, Lionsgate+ and Starz throughout Europe and Latin America — upping the MGM+ footprint to 31 countries.

MGM+ in the United Kingdom will become the exclusive home to Starz series “Outlander,” “Power Book I-IV,” “BMF,” “The Serpent Queen,” “P-Valley,” and “Hightown.” Catalog shows include Lionsgate TV productions “The Great,” “Mad Men,” “Nashville” and “Weeds,” in addition to movie such as American PsychoReservoir Dogs and Saw, among others.

“The expansion of MGM+ in the U.K. further cements Amazon’s commitment to invest in and grow the MGM+ channel internationally, while enhancing the content offering available to subscribers,” Josh McIvor, global GM, MGM+, said in a statement.

Beginning this month, Lionsgate+ subscribers who joined via Prime Video Channels in the United Kingdom will get access to the MGM+.

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“With the addition of the U.K., Lionsgate and Starz content will now be available to MGM+ viewers in more than 20 countries around the world,” added Agapy Kapouranis, president of international television and digital distribution for Lionsgate.

Chase Brisbin and Kathryn Ikenberry Jones negotiated the deal on behalf of Lionsgate.

‘The Beekeeper’ Due on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD April 23

Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment will release the Jason Statham action thriller The Beekeeper, from Amazon MGM Studios, for purchase on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD on April 23.

The film has earned $151.5 million at the global box office.

In addition to Statham (The Meg, Furious 7, The Fate of the Furious, the “Transporter” films), Emmy Raver-Lampman (TV’s “The Umbrella Academy”), Josh Hutcherson (“The Hunger Games” films), Bobby Naderi, Minnie Driver (Good Will Hunting), Phylicia Rashad (Creed) and Jeremy Irons (TV’s “Watchmen”).

In The Beekeeper, one man’s brutal campaign for vengeance takes on national stakes after he is revealed to be a former operative of a powerful and clandestine organization known as “Beekeepers.”

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MGM+ Sci-Fi Series ‘Beacon 23’ to Debut Nov. 12

The science-fiction series “Beacon 23” is set to premiere on the Amazon-owned MGM+ streaming service at 9 p.m. ET/PT Sunday, Nov. 12.

Produced by Boat Rocker and based on the best-selling book by Hugh Howey, “Beacon 23” takes place in the farthest reaches of the Milky Way and follows Aster (Lena Headey), a government agent, and Halan (Stephan James), a stoic ex-military man, whose fates become entangled after they find themselves trapped together inside one of many Beacons that serve as a lighthouse for intergalactic travelers. Every Beacon is run by one highly trained human and a specialized Artificial Intelligence. Aster mysteriously finds her way to the lonely Beacon-keeper Halan, and a tense battle of wills unfolds. Halan begins to question whether Aster is friend or foe, as her ability to disguise her agenda and motives could make her a formidable opponent.

The premiere will include the first two of eight total episodes. The series was developed by Zak Penn (Ready Player One, Free Guy), who executive produces alongside Glen Mazzara (“The Walking Dead,” “The Shield”).

The Broadway Melody

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 7/25/23;
Warner Archive;
Musical;
$24.49 Blu-ray;
Not rated.
Stars Charles King, Bessie Love, Anita Page, Eddie Kane, Jed Prouty, ​​Drew Demorest.

Its incorporation of sound and silent(s) technology landed The Jazz Singer smack dab in the middle of the fine line that straddled both sides of Vitaphone’s transition. Al Jolson’s breaking the sound barrier paved the way for Hollywood’s first All Talking! All Singing! All Dancing! sound musical, The Broadway Melody in 1929. Occasional silent film title-cards, holdovers from another era, announced a shift in location, but other than that it’s a talkie through and through. More firsts: In addition to being the first sound film to take home a Best Picture Oscar, there was a two-strip Technicolor sequence that’s since been lost to the ages. (It’s included here in glorious black-and-white.) Director Harry Beaumont’s film was such a hit that MGM saw in it “radical new conceptions of profit possibilities.” Looking to strap a vacuum to the wallets and purses of American moviegoers hither and yon, the studio placed full-page ads in the trades announcing a silent version produced for jerkwater screens yet to make the transition to sound.

Contemporary audiences weaned on pixels and CGI storytelling probably won’t make it much past the MGM lion before fleeing to the comfort and familiarity of their gaming pad. We open in the bustling office of the Gleason Music Publishing Company, named after the film’s co-screenwriter and prolific character actor, James Gleason. That’s Gleason gathering an audience from the rehearsal rooms to hear the incurably enthusiastic Eddie Kearns (Charles King) belt out the first of three renditions of the tite tune penned by composer Nacio Herb Brown and lyricist Arthur Freed. Freed, the driving force behind many an MGM golden age musical and one-time personal hero, took an irreparable hit after reading a passage from Shirley Temple’s autobiography. I leave it for you to Google.

As if trying to compensate for all the years studios relied on pictures, not words, to tell a story, the newfound freedom manifested itself in one of the loudest introductory scenes ever committed to film, present pictures included. At any given moment the voices and instruments that fill the space mesh into an indistinguishable din. Camera movement was at best limited to brief spurts and only then as a means of trailing the action. Produced at a fleeting moment in cinema history when visual storytelling took a back seat to microphone placement and elocution, it was the boys from Western Electric, not the filmmakers, endowed with the power to call the shots. The slavish camera couldn’t have been more inert had its tripod been nailed to the floor.

Eddie turns down the advances of a pair of chorines to partner with him; the spot, and his heart, is spoken for by the Mahoney Sisters, girlfriend Hank (Bessie Love) and her younger sibling Queenie (Anita Page). Queenie and Eddie soon connect leaving Hank little to do but chew the scenery. The worsening relationship between the sisters trails off into familiar territory. All of the numbers appear to have been captured from the fourth row, center vantage point of a legitimate theatre. The zippy vernacular crossfire exchanged between the girls is far livelier than the static staging of musical numbers. It’s pre-code, so expect everything from ethnic and sexist stereotypes, a lisping, decidedly lavender costume designer (Drew Demorest), and a breed of audience-pleasing comic relief that only a stuttering uncle (Jed Prouty) can supply. Watch it for the historical importance or not at all.

Bonus features include Dogway Melody, a one-joke live-action speaking dog comedy, five Metro Movietone Review shorts, and a Metro Movietone act featuring Van and Schenck.

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Freevee Adds New FAST Channels Featuring MGM, Warner Bros. Discovery Content

Amazon Freevee June 12 announced MGM and Warner Bros. Discovery free ad-supported (FAST) channels will launch on the ad-supported streaming service over the next few months.

The new channels will add to the growing slate of more than 280 FAST channels currently available on the Amazon-owned service (formerly IMDb TV), spanning genres that include originals, movies, food, game shows, classic TV, reality, news, and sports. All channels can be accessed through the Freevee app, as well as within Fire TV and Prime Video.

“MGM and Warner Bros. Discovery create content that appeals to a diverse fan base — action, comedy, drama, scripted, unscripted, and more,” Ryan Pirozzi, head of Amazon Freevee, said in a statement.

MGM will launch 12 FAST Channels, adding a new lineup of single-title channels which will include “The Pink Panther,” “Stargate,” “Green Acres,” and “The Outer Limits,”alongside branded channels such as “MGM Presents,” “MGM Presents: Action,” and “MGM Presents: Sci-Fi,” which will be programmed with movies and series including Capote and Red Dawn. The MGM FAST channels join “Paternity Court,” “In the Heat of the Night,” “The Addams Family,” and “Teen Wolf” channels.

Warner Bros. Discovery’s 11 FAST Channels feature Discovery and WBD studio content, such as “Cake Boss,” “Extreme Couponing,” “Ghost Brothers,” “Paranormal Lockdown,” “Say Yes to the Dress” and “Long Lost Family.”

WBD’s FAST channels come as the media giant attempts to monetize its catalog of original TV programming across third-party platforms, including ad-supported VOD and FAST.

As a result, Freevee has been able to expand the FAST offering to include a growing selection of exclusive thematically programmed channels, such as popular movies and TV shows, comedy hits, as well as exclusive Original channels from Freevee and Prime Video (“Amazon Originals,” “Judy Justice,” “Bosch”), and syndicated channels with partners, including news (“The Washington Post,” “LiveNOW by FOX,” “ABC News Live”), sports (“NHL FAST,” “MLB,” “PGA Tour”) and music (“Vevo,” “XITE”).

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Freevee also recently secured 10 channels from Lionsgate for the free streaming service. Nine channels are available now including “Nashville,” “Are We There Yet?,” “Anger Management” and “HerSphere,” with “Ghost Hunters” launching in the coming weeks. Additional FAST Channels coming to the service in June include “Amazon Movies,” “Judge & Jury,” “QVC,” “HSN,” “Tastemade en Español,” “The Big Dish,” “USA Today” and “USA Today Sports.”

‘Creed III’ Tops Redbox Disc Rental and Digital Charts

MGM’s Creed III, distributed on disc by Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment, topped both the Redbox disc rental chart and the Redbox On Demand chart the week ended May 28.

The boxing drama, the ninth in the “Rocky” franchise and third of the spinoff films about the son of Apollo Creed, earned $156 million at the domestic box office.

Another newcomer, Warner’s Shazam! Fury of the Gods, was No. 2 on the Redbox disc rental chart, which tracks DVD and Blu-ray Disc rentals at Redbox’s thousands of red kiosks. The DC Comics sequel finds the Shazam Family confronting ancient forces that want to reclaim their magical powers.

The No. 3 rental was Disney-owned Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania, making its first appearance on the rental charts.

The previous week’s top disc rental, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment’s Knock at the Cabin, slipped to No. 4. The latest film from director M. Night Shyamalan is about a vacationing family taken hostage by armed strangers who demand they make a choice to avert the apocalypse.

Universal’s Cocaine Bear dropped three spots to No. 5 on the Redbox disc rental chart. The horror comedy, based on an actual incident, involves a bear becoming addicted to cocaine dumped by smugglers into the woods of Georgia, and rampaging through a national park in search of more. It was also No. 5 on the Redbox On Demand chart, which tracks digital VOD and sellthrough transactions.

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On the Redbox On Demand chart, the previous week’s top title, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment’s The Super Mario Bros. Movie, dropped to No. 2.

The No. 3 digital title was Sony Pictures’ 65, a sci-fi film starring Adam Driver as an astronaut who crash lands on a planet with dinosaurs.

The No. 4 digital title was Paramount’s Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, a comic-fantasy adaptation of the popular role-playing game.

Top DVD and Blu-ray Disc Rentals, Redbox Kiosks, Week Ended May 28:

  1. Creed III — Warner/MGM
  2. Shazam! Fury of the Gods — Warner
  3. Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania — Disney/Marvel
  4. Knock at the Cabin — Universal
  5. Cocaine Bear — Universal
  6. Come Out Fighting — Screen Media
  7. Plane — Lionsgate
  8. Champions — Universal
  9. 80 for Brady — Paramount
  10. Magic Mike’s Last Dance — Warner

 

Top Digital (VOD + Sellthrough), Redbox On Demand, Week Ended May 28:

  1. Creed III — MGM
  2. The Super Mario Bros. Movie — Universal
  3. 65 — Sony Pictures
  4. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves — Paramount
  5. Cocaine Bear — Universal
  6. M3GAN — Universal
  7. Evil Dead Rise — Warner
  8. Champions — Universal
  9. Plane — Lionsgate
  10. Scream VI — Paramount

 

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Creed III

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Warner/MGM;
Drama;
Box Office $156.25 million;
$34.98 DVD, $39.98 Blu-ray, $49.98 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for intense sports action, violence, and some strong language.
Stars Michael B. Jordan, Tessa Thompson, Jonathan Majors, Wood Harris, Mila Davis-Kent, Florian Munteanu, Phylicia Rashad.

The first two “Creed” films featured the title character dealing with personal issues stemming from earlier “Rocky” movies. For the third installment, the spinoff series jettisons Rocky for Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) to deal with some personal demons from his own past.

The premise involves Creed retiring from boxing and setting up his own gym, where he now manages the current boxing champ, Felix Chavez (played by real boxer José Benavidez Jr.). From out of the blue he is confronted by his old pal Damian (Jonathan Majors), who has been in prison for 18 years for an incident in which he pulled a gun on some thugs who were beating up on the younger Donnie. Dame was locked up just as he was about to embark on a promising boxing career, so he asks Donnie to get him back into the game.

Donnie sets Dame up at his gym as a sparring partner to Felix, but Dame’s latent anger gives him a violent streak that makes the rest of Felix’s entourage uneasy. When an upcoming title bout is derailed by an injury to Felix’s scheduled opponent, Donnie suggests Dame take his place, which Felix reluctantly accepts on the promise of a big payday.

Needless to say, the fight does not go well, and Dame not only seizes upon the opportunity to claim the title but turns out to have a massive grudge against Donnie as well. In typical “Rocky” fashion, the only recourse for both men ends up being a climactic title fight.

Rocky’s current in-universe status isn’t mentioned, Sylvester Stallone’s absence is felt, though he did seem to make a definitive exit in Creed II. While this is the first “Rocky” movie without Rocky in it, it still leans into many of the franchise’s tropes, beginning with a reference to Rocky’s underdog status from the first film being the justification for Dame getting a title shot out of nowhere. The story, as is usually the case with the “Rocky” franchise, mostly uses the boxing plot as a backdrop for familial relationships, particularly Adonis’ relationship with his adorable daughter.

And, much in the same way Stallone directed many of the original “Rocky” movies, Jordan takes the helm behind-the-scenes for this particular sequel.

Though it’s a boxing movie on its surface, the character dynamics are more typically found in a pro wrestling storyline, taking some narrative shortcuts to steer the characters toward settling all their personal animosities in the ring.

Looking past the connective tissue, however, the film is at its best when Creed is with his family, and during some good boxing scenes that seem especially brutal for the franchise.

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The Blu-ray includes a light smattering of bonus materials that glimpses behind the scenes of making this particular sequel without delving too much into the franchise’s legacy behind it — which may echo some of the public disagreements between Stallone, who is contractually listed as a producer, and other producers who control the rights to the franchise.

The 10-minute “Michael B. Jordan: In the Ring/Behind the Camera” focuses on the actor making his directorial debut, while the nine-minute “There’s No Enemy Like the Past: Donnie and Dame” explores the relationship between the two former friends turned rivals.

Rounding out the extras are three superfluous deleted scenes that run a total of four-and-a-half-minutes. Frankly, there seems to be more substantial unused material in the film’s trailers.

In regards to the 4K edition, the extras are found only on the regular Blu-ray Disc in the combo pack.

Action Thriller ‘Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant’ Due on Blu-ray and DVD June 20

The action thriller Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer will be released on Blu-ray and DVD June 20 from Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment.

Directed by Guy Ritchie (Wrath of Man, Aladdin) from a screenplay by Ritchie, Ivan Atkinson and Marn Davies, the film is produced by Guy Ritchie, Ivan Atkinson, John Friedberg and Josh Berger.

Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant stars Jake Gyllenhaal (Ambulance, Spider-Man: Far from Home), Dar Salim (“Game of Thrones”), Antony Starr (“The Boys”), Alexander Ludwig (Bad Boys for Life, “Vikings”), Bobby Schofield (Cherry), Emily Beecham (Cruella) and Jonny Lee Miller (T2 Trainspotting).

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The film follows U.S. Army Sergeant John Kinley (Gyllenhaal) and Afghan interpreter Ahmed (Salim). After an ambush, Ahmed goes to Herculean lengths to save Kinley’s life. When Kinley learns that Ahmed and his family were not given safe passage to America as promised, he must repay his debt by returning to the war zone to retrieve them before the Taliban hunts them down. 

‘Creed III’ Headed to 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD May 23

Michael B. Jordan’s directorial debut Creed III, from Metro-Goldwyn Mayer, will be released on 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD May 23 from Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment.

Directed by Jordan, from a screenplay by Keegan Coogler and Zach Baylin, the film recently set a franchise record and scored the biggest domestic box office opening for a sports film in history, according to the studio. 

The film has earned nearly $250 million at the global box office.

Creed III stars Michael B. Jordan (Just Mercy, Black Panther), Tessa Thompson (Thor: Love and Thunder, TV’s “Westworld”), Jonathan Majors (Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, Devotion), Wood Harris (TV’s “Winning Time”), Mila Davis-Kent, Florian Munteanu and Phylicia Rashad.

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In the third installment in the franchise, after dominating the boxing world, Adonis Creed (Jordan) has been thriving in both his career and family life. When a childhood friend and former boxing prodigy, Damian (Majors), resurfaces after serving a long sentence in prison, he is eager to prove that he deserves his shot in the ring. The face off between former friends is more than just a fight. To settle the score, Adonis must put his future on the line to battle Damian — a fighter who has nothing to lose.

A three-film collection featuring Creed, Creed II and Creed III will also be available on Blu-ray and DVD May 23.

Starz Teams With Amazon to Bundle MGM+ on Prime Video

Starz Feb. 17 announced it has teamed up with Amazon to bundle MGM+ on Prime Video.

This subscription bundle, which launches in the coming weeks in the United States only, will cost $11.99 per month — 20% less than the combined price of both standalone subscriptions.

“We are excited to join forces with Amazon to offer Starz together with MGM+ to their millions of customers on Prime Video,” said Alison Hoffman, president of domestic networks at Starz. “Starz is a complementary service to general entertainment offerings, so we’re thrilled to see that bundling is now here and believe there will be many more bundling opportunities to come.”

Subscribers will have access to Starz series such as “Outlander,” the “Power” Universe, “P-Valley” and upcoming new seasons of “Party Down” and “Blindspotting.” Also accessible are flagship domestic Starz services including Starz Encore, 17 premium pay-TV channels and the associated on-demand and online services.

MGM+ is a destination for original premium content, with original series including the Emmy-winning series “Godfather of Harlem”; the sci-fi horror series “From”; the Western adventure “Billy the Kid”; and cinematic dramatic series “A Spy Among Friends,” “War of the Worlds,” “Rogue Heroes” and “Belgravia.”

The network is also the home of acclaimed docuseries, including Emmy-nominated “Laurel Canyon,” “Murf the Surf,” “Helter Skelter,” “Slow Burn,” “My Life as a Rolling Stone,” “NFL Icons” and “Blumhouse’s Compendium of Horror.” Premium movies are also available, including blockbusters such as Top Gun: Maverick; MGM hits No Time to Die and House of Gucci; and classic franchises such as “James Bond” and “Rocky.”