Free Month of Epix Now SVOD Service With Domino’s Pizza Order

Any Domino’s customer who orders pizza online now through April 11, 2021, will receive 30 days of free access to Epix Now — the subscription streaming video service owned by MGM with more than 2,000 movies and 300 hours of original series and specials.

“Pizza and movies go hand-in-hand,” Art D’Elia, EVP and chief marketing officer, said in a statement. “Whether you’re looking for a fun way to entertain your family at home or you want a date night in, Domino’s has you covered. The best part is, no credit card is needed and you won’t be charged after the month is up. All you need to provide is an email address and you’re good to go.”

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Customers who place an online order can claim their free 30-day access of by clicking through the link on their order confirmation page, Domino’s Tracker page or order confirmation email. After the 30 days of free access is up, customers must subscribe in order to continue streaming.

“We’re thrilled to offer customers … access to movies such as Creed II or Sonic the Hedgehog, as well as our growing slate of original series commercial-free,” said Michael Wright, president of Epix.

Nielsen reports that 25% of consumers added a streaming service during the second quarter of 2020, while one-fourth of consumers’ TV usage was spent streaming.

“Individuals are using streaming services now, more than ever, as many of us have been spending more time at home,” D’Elia said.

‘Bill & Ted’ Sequel Tops Redbox On Demand Chart; ‘Mulan’ No. 1 Disc Rental

MGM and Orion Pictures’ Bill & Ted Face the Music took over the top spot on the Redbox On Demand chart the week ended Nov. 15, and debuted at No. 2 on Redbox’s disc rental chart. The sequel is distributed on disc by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

The third film in the “Bill & Ted” franchise finds the duo, now middle-aged, struggling to fulfill the prophecy that their music will bring about world peace in the future, causing reality to fracture. Its theatrical run was hampered by the coronavirus pandemic, and while it made $3.4 million in limited theatrical release, it was primarily available over the summer through premium VOD.

Landing at No. 1 on the disc rental chart, which tracks DVD and Blu-ray Disc rentals at the company’s more than 40,000 red kiosks, was Disney’s live-action remake of Mulan. The film, based on the ancient Chinese folklore about a young woman who impersonates a man to serve in the army, also had its theatrical run derailed by COVID-19, and instead was released in the United States as a $29.99 add-on to the Disney+ streaming service, making it available to those who paid for it months earlier than when it would become available to all members. It was released internationally in territories such as China that don’t yet have Disney+, but underperformed with just a $66.8 million international box office gross.

The previous week’s top title on both charts, Lionsgate’s Antebellum, dropped to No. 3 on the disc chart and No. 2 on the On Demand chart, which tracks digital rental transactions.

No. 4 on the disc chart and No. 5 on the digital chart was Redbox’s own Chick Fight, about a woman who joins an underground fight club when her life spirals out of control. It stars Malin Akerman, Bella Thorne and Alec Baldwin.

Also new to the list was Lionsgate’s Mortal, an action-thriller about a psychologically troubled young man who discovers that he has inexplicably inherited the supernatural powers of Thor. It was No. 3 on the On Demand chart and No. 6 on the disc chart.

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Rounding out the top five disc rentals was Redbox’s exclusive An Imperfect Murder. On the digital chart, Universal’s actioner The 2nd was No. 4.

Other newcomers making their way on to the chart include Lionsgate’s Guest House at No. 10 on the disc chart, and Lionsgate’s Unhinged at No. 10 on the digital chart.

Top DVD and Blu-ray Disc Rentals, Redbox Kiosks, Week Ended Nov. 15:

  1. Mulan (2020) — Disney
  2. Bill & Ted Face the Music — Warner/MGM
  3. Antebellum — Lionsgate
  4. Chick Fight — Redbox
  5. An Imperfect Murder — Redbox
  6. Mortal — Lionsgate
  7. Friendsgiving — Lionsgate
  8. The Vanished — Paramount
  9. Ava — Redbox
  10. Guest House — Lionsgate

 

Top Digital, Redbox On Demand, Week Ended Nov. 15:

  1. Bill & Ted Face the Music — MGM
  2. Antebellum — Lionsgate
  3. Mortal — Lionsgate
  4. The 2nd — Universal
  5. Chick Fight — Redbox
  6. After We Collided — Open Road
  7. Ava — Redbox
  8. The Vanished — Paramount
  9. Friendsgiving — Lionsgate
  10. Unhinged — Lionsgate

 

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Bill & Ted Face the Music

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street Date 11/10/20;
Warner/MGM;
Sci-Fi Comedy;
Box Office $3.4 million;
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for some language.
Stars Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, Kristen Schaal, Samara Weaving, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Anthony Carrigan, Erinn Hayes, Jayma Mays, Holland Taylor, Kid Cudi, William Sadler, Jillian Bell, Hal Landon Jr., Beck Bennett, Amy Stoch.

The third “Bill & Ted” movie, coming 29 years after the second, turns the lengthy gap between sequels into an asset while bringing fans back into the familiar world of the franchise.

The film is something of homage to and an amalgam of the first two, which saw an emissary from the future, Rufus (played by the late George Carlin, who gets a tribute in the new film), travel back in time 700 years to put young slackers Bill and Ted (Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves) on course to bring about universal harmony with the music of their band, Wyld Stallyns.

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In the first film, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Rufus lends them a time machine in the shape of a phone booth to travel into the past to collect historical figures to pass their history report and graduate high school, assuring they can remain together. The second film, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, saw the duo the target of a future warlord who despises that society took inspiration from them. The robots he sends into the past to hunt them down succeed in killing them, but Bill and Ted are able to navigate the afterlife with the help of the Grim Reaper (William Sadler) to return to Earth, stop the robots, and win a battle of the bands on their path to superstardom.

As the third film opens, however, Bill and Ted have yet to write the song that will bring about global unity, and continue their desperate efforts to do so. Their lack of success has begun to tear the fabric of reality apart, leading to another emissary from the future, Rufus’ daughter (Kristen Schaal), to bring them a message from the Great Leader (Holland Taylor) chastising them for not fulfilling the prophecy.

Accordingly, Bill and Ted decide to visit their own future selves to try to find the song they were supposed to have written.

Meanwhile, their grown daughters Billie and Thea (Brigette Lundy-Paine and Samara Weaving), who were introduced as babies at the end of Bogus Journey, come up with a plan to go back in time to gather the greatest musicians in history to form the ultimate band to help their dads.

Meanwhile, the Great Leader re-interprets the prophecy of how Bill and Ted influence future society, and after coming to the conclusion they have to die to restore reality, sends a robot back in time to do the deed.

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Even under the direction of Dean Parisot (Galaxy Quest), Face the Music can’t match the energy levels of the first two films. This isn’t that surprising, though, since the film is dealing with the central theme of trying to live up to your potential even if the ability to do so seems to have passed you by. It’s a fun adventure that should elicit and lot of warm nostalgia smiles.

The Blu-ray comes with a handful of extras, led by the film’s 43-minute Comic-Con@Home panel. Hosted by Kevin Smith, whose Jay and Silent Bob characters drew obvious inspiration from Bill and Ted, the panel features several of the stars and key filmmakers participating through Zoom to discuss the making of the film and the origins of the franchise. The fact that the physical San Diego Comic-Con had to be canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic and replaced by an online one may prove to be something of a boon to Blu-ray and DVD bonus features, as the Virtual panels are yielding a slew of neatly packaged videos ready to plop on a disc or YouTube.

The other extras aren’t so extensive, consisting of four short promotional featurettes ranging from 50 to 80 seconds each.

 

Warner Bringing ‘Wolf of Snow Hollow’ to Blu-ray and DVD Dec. 15

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release The Wolf of Snow Hollow on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Dec. 15. The comedic horror film from MGM’s Orion Classics is available now digitally.

Written and directed by and starring Jim Cummings, The Wolf of Snow Hollow is a reimagining of the werewolf legend about a small-town sheriff who, while struggling with family problems and a lackluster department, is tasked with solving a series of brutal murders that are occurring on the full moon.

The Wolf of Snow Hollow

The cast also includes Riki Lindhome, Jimmy Tatro, Marshall Allman, Chloe East, Annie Hamilton and the late Robert Forster in one of his final roles.

The Wolf of Snow Hollow earned around $185,000 in limited theatrical release.

The Blu-ray and DVD will include the featurette “The Story and the Genre.” The Blu-ray will also include the featurettes “The Impetus,” “Working With Jim Cummings” and “The Design of the Werewolf.”

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Like, ‘Valley Girl’ Bows on Disc Oct. 6

Valley Girl, a musical romantic comedy adaptation of the 1983 film, arrives on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and MGM Oct. 6.

From MGM’s Orion Pictures and directed by Rachel Lee Goldenberg, the film stars Jessica Rothe (Happy Death Day, La La Land) as Julie Richman, Josh Whitehouse (The Knight Before Christmas) as Randy, Mae Whitman (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) as Jack, and Judy Greer (13 Going on 30, Ant-Man, 27 Dresses) as Diana.

Set to a new wave ’80s soundtrack, the film follows a pair of young lovers from different backgrounds defy their parents and friends to stay together.

The 1983 classic, directed by Martha Coolidge, starred Nicolas Cage and Deborah Foreman.

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The Hits Keep Coming as Summer Box Office Hopes Fade

Last week was one to forget for exhibitors, eager to re-start their business following months of lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. High-profile studio titles Mulan (Disney) and Tenet (Warner Bros.) were further delayed into August following renewed fears about COVID-19 infection spikes in California, Arizona, Texas and Florida, among other areas.

Then came news on June 26 that the long-delayed third installment in MGM’s Orion Pictures’ “Bill & Ted” sci-fi adult comedy franchise Bill & Ted Face the Music, starring Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter in their original roles, was being pushed back to Aug. 28 from Aug. 21 — the new date of the Mulan reschedule. Bill & Ted, about two metalhead slacker friends who travel through time, had been originally slated for Aug. 14. The original Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure launched in 1989, followed by Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey in 1991 — both starring Reeves and Winter — and grossing $78 million ($149 million today) collectively in theaters.

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Over the weekend, California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered bars closed again in Los Angeles and six other counties.

“This does not bode well for film and TV production, movie theaters, the restart of sports, including college athletics and theme parks,” Rich Greenfield with LightShed Partners, tweeted June 28.

Wedbush Securities media analyst Michael Pachter contends the box office won’t return to normal even as major chains such as AMC Theatres, Regal Cinemas and Cinemark, re-open screens next month.

“People may be eager to visit the theaters once they feel safe doing so, but we think it is unlikely crowds will return to any semblance of normal before a vaccine is widely distributed, particularly in urban and suburban markets,” Pachter wrote in a note.

Regardless, MGM has a lot riding on the movie, having just secured all remaining international territories (excluding China) for the movie from Endeavor Content. MGM had previously secured distribution in key international territories, including Germany, Greece, Latin America and the Middle East, among others. As part of the June 25 announced agreement, MGM will also distribute Face The Music throughout France, Italy, Spain, Japan, South Korea, Scandinavia, Taiwan, Thailand, Hong Kong, Hungary, Turkey, Benelux, Bulgaria, Singapore and Romania.

“[The movie] is the perfect dose of fun and nostalgia and universally relatable in its message to ‘be excellent to each other,'” Chris Ottinger, who heads MGM’s international distribution and acquisitions division, said in a statement.

MGM Launches SVOD Service in South Africa

Seeking to expand its catalog of movies and TV shows internationally, MGM has launched a branded subscription streaming video-on-demand service dubbed “MGM” with South African mobile communications company Vodacom.

The service will be marketed as part of Vodacom’s Video Play Premium service, priced at R99 ($6.31), as well as a standalone options priced at R59 ($3.75) monthly; R25 ($1.60) weekly and R10 (64 cents) daily.

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Movies include The Hobbit trilogy, Legally Blonde, Get Shorty, The Pink Panther and Teen Wolf, as well as the TV series,”The Handmaid’s Tale,” among others.

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Netflix, Apple in Preliminary Talks About Possible MGM Acquisition

Both Netflix and Apple reportedly have had preliminary discussions with MGM, whose hedge fund owners have put out feelers for the studio’s storied catalog of movies, the “James Bond” movie franchise and a strong TV production business.

In the burgeoning subscription streaming video ecosystem, content is king. Netflix and Apple are on the opposite ends of the SVOD sphere with the former setting the bar when it comes to market penetration and content spending.

Yet both companies want expansive access to original and catalog content, especially Apple, which has entered the SVOD market relatively late — and with scant programming. Netflix, which has seen third-party catalog content migrate back to original holders’ branded streaming services, is looking for a big push back.

How better to do that than acquiring MGM Studios.

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CNBC, citing sources familiar with the situation, says MGM has shrewdly come back from bankruptcy in 2010, and is now worth a reported $10 billion, with its owners willing to sell.

Both Apple and Netflix have been largely absent from the merger & acquisition playing field. Apple most-recently spent $3 billion acquiring the Beats earphone brand.

In 2017, Netflix made its first M&A deal, acquiring Millarworld, the publishing company of comic book writer Mark Millar. In 2019, co-founder/CEO Reed Hastings said Netflix had “no big appetite” for major acquisitions.

“I don’t think investors have too much to worry about there,” Hastings said on the investor webcast last April. Indeed, neither Netflix or Apple are commenting on the MGM media reports.

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Regardless, MGM had revenue of more than $1 billion for the first nine months of the fiscal year (ended Sept. 30, 2019) consisting primarily of about $600 million in TV and film licensing revenue and $300 million from Epix subscriptions. The studio recorded pre-tax earnings of $123 million.

 

Comcast, Starz Ink New Carriage, Content Distribution Deal

Christmas came early for Starz, the Lionsgate-owned pay-TV and over-the-top video distributor.

Comcast Cable and Starz Dec. 23 announced they have entered into a long-term agreement for the continued carriage of the Starz networks on Xfinity TV as well as a new content deal between Lionsgate and NBCUniversal.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

“We are pleased that we were able to extend the partnership to Peacock and other businesses within Comcast while also ensuring Xfinity customers continue to enjoy great Starz programming,” Dana Strong, president of consumer services for Comcast Cable, said in a statement.

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The companies announced that NBCUniversal will license content from Lionsgate for Peacock, its streaming service launching in April 2020. Peacock will have access to hundreds of feature films and shows from the Lionsgate catalog to stream alongside the previously announced slate of original series, TV shows, and films from Universal and other major studios.

NBCUniversal will also license content to Starz to be featured in the U.S. and on its international streaming service, StarzPlay, now available in 49 countries worldwide.

The new pact represents a lifeline of sorts for Starz as Comcast remains one of the premium channel’s largest domestic distributors. Comcast had previously said it would replace Starz with MGM’s Epix platform is no agreement was in place by Dec. 31.

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Under the new agreement, the Starz flagship premium channel, as well as the Starz Encore suite of channels — including Encore, Encore Westerns, Encore Black, and Encore Action — and related video on demand content will continue to be available to Xfinity customers with expanded distribution on the Comcast Flex platform and a path for an orderly transition to an à la carte business.

“We look forward to continuing our longstanding partnership with Comcast to deliver great content and great value to our customers,” said Starz CEO Jeffrey Hirsch. “Our ongoing relationship with Comcast reflects our ability to unlock opportunities across all of our businesses to the benefit of our subscribers.”

Animated ‘Addams Family’ Due Digitally Dec. 24, on Disc Jan. 21

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment will release MGM’s animated adaptation of The Addams Family through digital retailers Dec. 24, and on Blu-ray, DVD and on demand Jan. 21.

Based on the kooky comic strip characters created by Charles Addams, The Addams Family puts the eccentric and unconventional family in the spotlight as they move to a bland suburb, where Wednesday Addams’ friendship with the daughter of a local reality show host causes tension between the families.

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The voice cast includes Oscar Isaac as Gomez, Charlize Theron as Morticia, Chloë Grace Moretz as Wednesday, Finn Wolfhard as Pugsley, Nick Kroll as Uncle Fester, Snoop Dogg as It, Bette Midler as Grandma and Allison Janney as Margaux Needler.

The film has earned $96.4 million at the domestic box office.

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Home video extras include deleted and extended scenes; a Christina Aguilera “Haunted Heart” lyric video; a “My Family” lyric video featuring Migos, Karol G, Rock Mafia and Snoop Dogg; an “Addams Family Throwback” featurette; a “Welcome to the Family” making-of featurette with character profiles; a “Life of a Scene” featurette that follows the filmmakers bringing a scene to life from storyboards to layouts to animation; and “Charades With Thing,” a look at the stars of the film trying to guess clues in a game of Charades with Thing, who is just a hand.