TV Time: Warner’s ‘Mortal Kombat’ Most Anticipated Movie in April

Warner Bros.’ Mortal Kombat was the most anticipated movie in April on the TV Time chart.

Based on the video game franchise of the same name, the film follows Shaolin Monk Liu Kang, from Earth, who gets invited as a competitor in a mysterious, intergalactic tournament of ancient martial arts. It premieres April 23 in theaters and on WarnerMedia’s HBO Max streaming service.

A Whip Media company, TV Time is a free TV viewership tracking app that tracks consumers’ viewing habits worldwide and is visited by nearly 1 million consumers every day, according to the company. TV Time’s “Anticipation Report” is based on data from those users.

Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse, premiering on Amazon Prime April 30, took the second spot on the chart. The action thriller is based on the 1993 novel of the same name by Tom Clancy and is a spin-off of the Jack Ryan film series.

Coming in at No. 3 was Netflix’s Thunder Force, premiering April 9 on the streaming service. Starring Melissa McCarthy, Octavia Spenser and Jason Bateman, the film follows two childhood best friends who reunite as an unlikely crime-fighting superhero duo when one invents a formula that gives ordinary people superpowers.

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Also from Netflix, Stowaway, premiering April 22, took the fourth spot on the chart. In the film starring Anna Kendrick, Daniel Dae Kim, Shamier Anderson and Toni Collette, a three-person crew on a mission to Mars faces an impossible choice when an unplanned passenger jeopardizes the lives of everyone on board.

Another space story, Lionsgate’s Voyagers, landed at No. 5. Starring Colin Farrell, Tye Sheridan, Lily-Rose Depp and Fionn Whitehead, the film follows a crew of astronauts on a multi-generational mission who descend into paranoia and madness, not knowing what is real or not. It hits theaters April 9.

Rounding out the chart at No. 6 was Concrete Cowboy, which began streaming on Netflix April 2. Starring Idris Elba and Caleb McLaughlin (“Stranger Things”), it follows a rebellious teen, sent to live with his estranged father for the summer, who finds kinship in a tight-knit Philadelphia community of Black cowboys.

 Most Anticipated April Movies

  1. Mortal Kombat – April 23 (Warner Bros., theaters and HBO Max)
  2. Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse – April 30 (Amazon Prime)
  3. Thunder Force – April 9 (Netflix)
  4. Stowaway – April 22 (Netflix)
  5. Voyagers – April 9 (Lionsgate, theaters)
  6. Concrete Cowboy – April 2 (Netflix)

 

TV Time features a global community of 16 million users who have reported more than 18 billion views of TV and movie content across 230,000 titles.

PlayStation Store Dropping Digital Movie and TV Show Sales and Rentals

The Sony PlayStation Store will drop the sale and rental of digital movies and TV shows, beginning Aug. 31. The platform, which has sold and rented studio movies since 2008, cited an increase in the consumer adoption of subscription streaming services and ad-supported VOD services, for the decision.

“At [Sony Interactive Entertainment], we strive to provide the best entertainment experience for PlayStation fans, and that means evolving our offerings as customer needs change,” Vanessa Lee, head of video business for Sony Interactive Entertainment, wrote in a March 2 blog post. “We’ve seen tremendous growth from PlayStation fans using subscription-based and ad-based entertainment streaming services on our consoles.”

The PlayStation Store was not a member of Movies Anywhere, the studio-backed transactional retail platform that includes Vudu, Microsoft’s Movies & TV, DirecTV, Xfinity Store, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Google Play, Verizon, FandangoNow and Row8.

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Users can still access movie and TV content they have purchased through PlayStation Store for on-demand playback on their PS4, PS5 and mobile devices, she wrote.

“We thank our fans for their continued support, and we look forward to further enhancing the entertainment experience on PlayStation,” read the blog.

The move follows the 2019 shuttering of Sony PlayStation Vue, the  online TV platform that in 2015 followed Dish Network’s Sling TV into the nascent streaming market.

Ironically, Sony is pulling out of the TVOD retail market at a time when digital sales and rentals are at an all-time high, thanks in part to the coronavirus pandemic. According to DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, digital sales of movies, TVs shows and other filmed content, known as electronic sellthrough, rose 16% to $3 billion. Digital rentals were up 18%, to $2.3 billion.

AARP Announces Nominees for Annual ‘Movies for Grownups’ Awards’

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Feb. 8 announced it list of feature films nominated for the nonprofit’s annual “Movies for Grownups Awards,” set to broadcast on PBS March 28.

Feature films contending for the Best Picture/Best Movie category include A24’s Korean family drama Minari; Searchlight Pictures’ Nomadland; Amazon Studios’ One Night in Miami; Netflix’s The Trial of the Chicago 7; and Hulu’s The United States vs. Billie Holiday.

For two decades, AARP’s Movies for Grownups program has championed movies for the 50-plus-year-old audience, fighting industry ageism and encouraging movies that resonate with older viewers.

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“Each year, we spotlight films that feature today’s crucial issues and top grownup talents,” Tim Appelo, AARP film and TV critic, said in a statement.

Hoda Kotb, NBC News’ “Today” co-anchor, will host the awards ceremony broadcast by “Great Performances” at 8 p.m. on PBS, pbs.org/moviesforgrownups and the PBS Video app. The MFG Awards winners will be announced on March 4 at www.aarp.org/moviesforgrownups.

In the Best Actress category, nominations go to Michelle Pfeiffer (French Exit), Robin Wright (Land), Sophia Loren (The Life Ahead), Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) and Frances McDormand (Nomadland). In the Best Actor category, Ralph Fiennes (The Dig), Delroy Lindo (Da 5 Bloods), Anthony Hopkins (The Father), Gary Oldman (Mank) and Tom Hanks (News of the World).

The nominees for Best Supporting Actress are Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy), Candice Bergen (Let Them All Talk), Jodie Foster (The Mauritanian), Yuh-Jung Youn (Minari), and Ellen Burstyn (Pieces of a Woman). In the Best Supporting Actor category, Clarke Peters (Da 5 Bloods), Demián Bichir (Land), Bill Murray (On the Rocks), Paul Raci (Sound of Metal) and Mark Rylance (The Trial of the Chicago 7).

2020 Movies for Grownups nominees for Best Director are Spike Lee (Da 5 Bloods), George C. Wolfe (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Regina King (One Night in Miami), Aaron Sorkin (The Trial of the Chicago 7) and Lee Daniels (The United States vs. Billie Holiday).

In the inaugural year, Movies for Grownups Awards has added categories in Television/Streaming, the nominees for Best Series are HBO Max’s “Perry Mason” and “Succession,” Apple TV+ series “Ted Lasso,” Netflix’s “The Crown,” and NBC’s “This Is Us.”

In the Best TV Movie/Limited Series category, nominations go to Hulu’s Mrs. America, Amazon Prime Video’s Small Axe, Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit and Unorthodox, and HBO Max’s Watchmen.

The Television/Streaming nominees for Best Actress are Jennifer Aniston (“The Morning Show”), Cate Blanchett (Mrs. America), Regina King (Watchmen), Laura Linney (“Ozark”) and Catherine O’Hara (“Schitt$ Creek”). In the Best Actor category, Jason Bateman (“Ozark”), Ted Danson (“The Good Place”), Hugh Grant (The Undoing), Ethan Hawke (The Good Lord Bird) and Mark Ruffalo (I Know This Much is True).

George Clooney will receive the esteemed Movies for Grownups Career Achievement Award. He joins a list of previous AARP Movies for Grownups Career Achievement honorees, including Annette Bening, Kevin Costner, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, Shirley MacLaine, Helen Mirren, Robert Redford, Susan Sarandon and Sharon Stone.

The complete list of the Movies for Grownups Awards Nominees:

  • Best Picture/Best Movie for Grownups: MinariNomadlandOne Night in MiamiThe Trial of the Chicago 7The United States vs. Billie Holiday
  • Best Actress: Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Sophia Loren (The Life Ahead), Frances McDormand (Nomadland), Michelle Pfeiffer (French Exit), Robin Wright (Land)
  • Best Actor: Ralph Fiennes (The Dig), Tom Hanks (News of the World), Anthony Hopkins (The Father), Delroy Lindo (Da 5 Bloods), Gary Oldman (Mank)
  • Best Supporting Actress: Candice Bergen (Let Them All Talk), Ellen Burstyn (Pieces of a Woman), Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy), Jodie Foster (The Mauritanian), Yuh-Jung Youn (Minari)
  • Best Supporting Actor: Demián Bichir (Land), Bill Murray (On the Rocks), Clarke Peters (Da 5 Bloods), Paul Raci (Sound of Metal), Mark Rylance (The Trial of the Chicago 7)
  • Best Director: Lee Daniels (The United States vs. Billie Holiday), Regina King (One Night in Miami), Spike Lee (Da 5 Bloods), Aaron Sorkin (The Trial of the Chicago 7), George C. Wolfe (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom)
  • Best Ensemble: Da 5 Bloods, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, One Night in Miami, Promising Young Woman, The Trial of the Chicago 7
  • Best Intergenerational: Hillbilly Elegy, Minari, On the Rocks, The Father, The Life Ahead
  • Best Buddy Picture:  Bad Boys for Life, Bill & Ted Face the Music, Da 5 Bloods, Let Them All Talk, Standing Up, Falling Down
  • Best Screenwriter: Danny Bilson, Paul De Meo, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee (Da 5 Bloods); Paul Greengrass, Luke Davies (News of the World), Kemp Powers (One Night in Miami), Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Aaron Sorkin (The Trial of the Chicago 7)
  • Best Time Capsule: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Mank, One Night in Miami, The United States vs. Billie Holiday, The Trial of the Chicago 7
  • Best Grownup Love Story: Emma.Ordinary LoveSupernovaWild Mountain ThymeWorking Man
  • Best Documentary: A Secret Love, Crip Camp, Diana Kennedy: Nothing Fancy, Dick Johnson Is DeadSky Blossom: Diaries of the Next Greatest Generation
  • Best Foreign Language Film: Another Round (Denmark), Bacurau (Brazil), Collective (Romania), The Life Ahead (Italy), The Weasels’ Tale (Argentina)
  • Best Series: “Perry Mason,” “Succession,” “Ted Lasso,” “The Crown,” “This Is Us”
  • Best TV Movie/Limited Series: Mrs. America, Small Axe, The Queen’s Gambit, Unorthodox, Watchmen.
  • Best Actress (TV/Streaming): Jennifer Aniston (“The Morning Show”), Cate Blanchett (Mrs. America), Regina King (Watchmen), Laura Linney (“Ozark”), Catherine O’Hara (“Schitt$ Creek”)
  • Best Actor (TV/Streaming): Jason Bateman (“Ozark”), Ted Danson (“The Good Place”), Hugh Grant (The Undoing), Ethan Hawke (The Good Lord Bird), Mark Ruffalo (I Know This Much Is True).

Comscore Launching Cross-Platform Movie Transaction Data Service

Comscore Jan. 25 announced new software that aims to report daily movie sales regardless of release windows and platform. This will include a new reporting system to track box office movies’ performances across all platforms.

Dubbed “Movies Everywhere,” the new product will meld Comscore’s census-based box office and transactional video measurement with OTT video rentals and streaming views. The service will measure a movie’s box office performance in combination with demographics, audience sentiment and consumer behavior, from the big-screen theatrical presentation to the small screen multi-platform release.

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“The undeniable reality is that the pandemic has forced us all to throw out conventional wisdom and take a fresh look at how we operate,” Chris Aronson, president of domestic distribution at Paramount Pictures, said in a statement. “We’re confident that people are going to return to theaters in force. But with more consumer choices for content consumption, means we need new solutions to truly understand audience behavior as they engage with content on their terms and their screens. We all have to adapt.”

Comscore will provide the ability to track and synthesize the demographics of moviegoers as well as individuals who viewed advertisements. In the face of rapidly-evolving media consumption patterns, studios could benefit from having audience information available at both the national and regional levels — to identify behavioral trends that can help inform optimal release windows.

“We’ve seen incredible changes in audience behavior over the past year in the way that people consume content,” said Erik Lomis, president of distribution, United Artists Releasing. “As a result, the industry needs to reinvent the way we capture audience engagement.”

Movies Everywhere is the latest in a series of product innovations that Reston, Va.-based Comscore has developed during the coronavirus pandemic, including a new and improved movies reporting and analytics suite and the release of its next generation movie theater management system.

“Just as we delivered the first transparent studio share reports and the first Movies on Demand promo conversion analysis, we are once again innovating to provide studios the consideration needed to reinvent their strategies and thrive in this new era,” said Comscore CEO Bill Livek. 

Netflix Bowing 71 Feature-Length Movies in 2021

Netflix is going big on feature films in 2021. The SVOD behemoth is set to launch 71 movies this year, making good on its promise last October to launch at least one original movie per week to its 193 million global subscribers (through Sept. 30).

In a sizzle reel released Jan. 12, Netflix showcased snippets from original movies and acquisitions featuring stars such as Gal Gadot, Idris Elba, Regina King, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Melissa McCarthy, Halle Berry, Ryan Reynolds, Jason Momoa, Dwayne Johnson, Amy Adams, Chris Hemsworth and Lin-Manuel Miranda, among others.

Notable titles include heist actioner Red Notice with Gadot, Johnson, and Reynolds; The Harder They Fall, a Western drama with Elba, Jonathan Majors and King; The Woman in the Window with Adams; Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical Tick, Tick … Boom!; and the comedy Don’t Look Up with Leonardo DiCaprio, Lawrence, Streep, Ariana Grande, Timothee Chalamet and Kid Cudi.

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Netflix action movies include Army of the Dead, Awake, Kate Outside the Wire and Sweet Girl. Horror titles include Fear Street Trilogy, No One Gets Out Alive, There’s Someone Inside Your House and Things Heard and Seen.

Netflix thrillers include Blood Red Sky, Beckett, Escape From Spiderhead, Intrusion, Munich, O2, Night Teeth, The Swarm, The Woman in the Window and the science-fiction release Stowaway.

Netflix romances include A Castle For Christmas, Fuimos Canciones, Kissing Booth 3, Love Hard, The Last Letter from Your Lover, The Princess Switch 3, To All the Boys: Always and Forever and an untitled Alicia Keys romcom.

Dramas are Beauty, Blonde, Bombay Rose, Bruised, Concrete Cowboy, Fever Dream, Malcolm & Marie (Feb. 5), Monster, Penguin Bloom (Jan. 27), Pieces of Woman (Jan. 7), The Dig (Jan. 29), The Guilty, The Hand of God, The Power of the Dog, The Starling and The White Tiger (Jan. 22).

Comedies are France’s 8 Rue de l’Humanité, Afterlife of the Party, Bad Trip, Double Dad, I Care a Lot (Feb. 19), Moxie (March 3), The Last, Mercenary and Thunder Force.

Family titles include A Boy Called Christmas, A Winter’s Tale from Shaun the Sheep, Back to the Outback, Finding ‘Ohana (Jan. 29), Loud House, Nightbooks, Robin Robin, Skater Girl, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans, Wish Dragon, Yes Day with Jennifer Garner (March 12) and the faith-based musical A Week Away.

Number of Movies Seen in Theaters by Americans Fell by Two-Thirds Due to Pandemic

COVID-19 has indeed hit theaters hard, according to data from Interpret.

The number of movies seen theatrically by Americans plunged by two-thirds from the second quarter of 2019 to the same quarter of 2020, according to Interpret’s New Media Measure.

Year-over-year, comparing Q2 2019 with Q2 2020, the study found a 66% plummet in the number of movies seen theatrically per quarter by Americans ages 13 to 65. On average, Americans were seeing six movies in theaters per year before the pandemic, dropping to just two in 2020, according to the data.

“For many years, there has been this push and pull between studios and theater owners regarding the length of the theatrical release window,” Interpret VP Brett Sappington said in a statement, citing the move by Warner to put all new theatrical releases on its streaming service HBO Max concurrent with their bow in theaters. “Theater owners need adequate time with Hollywood’s newest releases to fill theaters. Studios want to experiment with distribution to be relevant to the newest generations of viewers. COVID has forced an evolution that will affect movie distribution well into the future.”

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Wall Street Confidence Sky High Ahead of Disney Investor Day Event

With the Walt Disney Co. set to hold a virtual Investor Day today (Dec. 10) after the market close, Wall Street has already popped Champagne bottles in anticipation of positive news on the company’s streaming video initiatives and vaccine-related impact on parks and amusement business.

Disney shares closed Dec. 9 at a record high following multiple analyst reports projecting CEO Bob Chapek will deliver exciting news this afternoon regarding the company’s first PVOD release Mulan, another season of “The Mandalorian,” and possible transition of new “Star Wars” content from the big screen to streaming.

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On the Disney’s last fiscal call (Nov. 12) Chapek said the Disney+ streaming service had topped 73 million subscribers — well ahead of company projections.

“Chuck the [dividend], torch [earns per share], spend aggressively, All Systems Go on streaming,” Steven Cahall, analyst with Wells Fargo, wrote in a note. “In other words, we think investors will soon be willing to pay a high multiple for a global streaming growth story. So, if one is excited about the sub growth story then the stock price should take care of itself, in our view.”

In the movie business, Disney’s Soul is set to go head-to-head with Warner Bros.’ Wonder Woman 1984 as the big Christmas Day digital debuts. Disney moved Soul from a November theatrical release to stream exclusively on Disney+, while Wonder Woman 1984 will be available on HBO Max and in theaters simultaneously.

“It seems now would be the perfect time for continued experimentation — a free pass to determine the right future distribution strategy for Disney’s ‘theatrical’ content,” Rich Greenfield with Lightshed Partners wrote in a note last month.

Greenfield argues that if streaming is Disney’s top priority, why is major TV content such as “The Bachelorette” and “Dancing With the Stars” not premiering on Disney+ or Hulu, with delayed airings on linear TV?

“Why should any compelling TV or film content that can be shifted to streaming first, not be shifted to streaming first?,” Greenfield wrote.

Morgan Stanley analyst Benjamin Swinburne expects Disney+ to end Fiscal Year 2025 with 145 million paid subscribers with revenue of nearly $11 billion in FY25. The analyst believes that combined with Hulu, ESPN+ and Star, Disney could see 250 million total streaming subs by 2025 generating more than $33 billion in revenue.

“Fiscal 2020 [direct-to-consumer segment] losses came in at $3.3 billion, below the original implied guidance for $3.5 billion to $4 billion by our estimates, with much stronger customer growth partially offset by Disney leaning in on marketing,” Swinburne wrote. “For fiscal 2021, we increase our estimate of DTC losses to $4 billion to $4.5 billion and forecast profitability on DTC in 2024.”

Disney shares remain up in midmorning trading at $154.55 per share.

Report: U.S. Movies Top Global VOD Distribution

New data from the European Audiovisual Observatory finds that 90% of U.S. theatrical movie releases since 1996 have migrated to video-on-demand distribution in at least one foreign country. Runner-up, the U.K., has 79% of its theatrical releases in worldwide VOD release.

At the same time, 56% of European films released in theaters between 1996 and 2020 were available on VOD in May. Compared to U.S. films, that’s a smaller share. But as there are many more European films than American movies in release theatrically, in absolute values, the number of European films migrating from the theater to VOD is 2.6 times higher than the number of U.S. films.

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The report underscores the value VOD has in expanding the consumer reach to all movies — especially lower-budget indie titles — compared with traditional theatrical exhibition. In regard to European movies, VOD brings the most additional distribution to films with 50,000 tickets sold or less.

“[The data supports the] cooperation rather than competition [between] cinema and VOD, while VOD opens up new markets to less successful films,” Gilles Fontaine, head of the Observatory’s department for market information, said in a statement.

Notably, the report found that a movie’s availability on VOD was driven by transactional VOD (59%) more than by subscription VOD (41%). SVOD’s share of VOD presence is higher for films with higher box office revenue. On a country basis, exclusivity between TVOD and SVOD seems to be the rule, with exceptions: Movies with higher admissions or originating from the U.S. were more often available both on TVOD and SVOD.

 

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)

Redbox Launches Movie Production Company

Redbox Entertainment has partnered with Thunder Road Films to co-launch Asbury Park Pictures — an indie production house tasked with producing original movies.

The films come with budgets from $10 million to $12 million each — and are largely filmed in Eastern Europe, South East Asia and Canada.

The movies will be distributed in the United States via Redbox’s more than 40,000  DVD/Blu-ray Disc rental kiosks and, digitally, through Redbox On Demand, the company’s transactional VOD platform. International distribution will be handled by third-party distributors.

Thunder Road Films is known for co-producing the “John Wick” franchise with Lionsgate. Initial Asbury Park movies include actioner/thrillers War Comes Home, Blacksite and Numb.

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Asbury Park management includes Marc Danon, head of original content at Redbox Entertainment, who will spearhead the partnership with Thunder Road boss Basil Iwanyk; Mike Gabrawy, ex-head of production at Arclight Films; and Erica Lee, president of Thunder Road.

Marc Danon

The move into original content marks a switch of sorts for Redbox, which in 2014 shuttered Redbox Instant, a disc/subscription streaming service, due to not wanting to get into original content spending battles with Netflix, Hulu and Amazon.

Redbox in 2019 formed Redbox Entertainment with a mandate by its private equity owners to branch out into original content. The company than hired ex-Lionsgate executive Danon to head the venture.