Netflix Ups Nordic Movie Production

Netflix has increased original movie production in Scandinavia, including productions in Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

The SVOD behemoth Nov. 14 at the Stockholm Film Festival announced titles include Swedish thriller, Red Dot; Norway’s horror pic, Cadaver and Denmark’s World War II film, Shadows in My Eyes.

The news follows Netflix’s move into original feature film production in Holland with The Battle of the Scheldt.

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“We are very happy to be taking this exciting step in offering our members in the Nordics more local content, as well as bring more great content from the Nordic region to our global members,” Lina Brouneus, director of licensing and co-productions for Netflix in Northern Europe, said in a statement.

Norway is home to Netflix’s first original production, “Lilyhammer,” starring Steven Van Zandt, which began streaming in 2012.

Last year, Netflix inked a deal with Danish producer Kim Magnusson for original movies from the Nordic region.

“These three films are all unique in their own way: strong genre films with engaging plot lines that are driven by talented creatives,” Brouneus said. “Together they form a strong package of different genres which will showcase the versatility and high quality of Nordic movies.”

Netflix Testing Speeding Up Movie Playback on Mobile Devices

Users of portable media devices gravitate toward short-form video. It’s the premise for the Quibi SVOD start-up.

Now Netflix has begun testing playback of movies up to 1.5 times their original speed.

“We’re always experimenting with new ways to help members use Netflix,” the company said in a boilerplate response to media inquiries.

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Indeed, Netflix pioneered binge viewing making all episodes of a series available at launch, launched the first recommendation software and ushered in Q&A fiscal webcasts devoid of perfunctory balance sheet readings.

The concept has produced blowback from some content holders, including longtime Netflix fans such as director Judd Apatow and “Breaking Bad” star Aaron Paul.

“No @Netflix no. Don’t make me have to call every director and show creator on Earth to fight you on this. Save me the time. I will win but it will take a ton of time. Don’t fuck with our timing. We give you nice things. Leave them as they were intended to be seen,” Apatow tweeted.

Netflix contends the app helps viewers seeking to consume longer form content on the go.

“As with any test, it may not become a permanent feature on Netflix,” said the company.

Actor Paul hopes so.

“There is NO Way Netflix will move forward with this,” he tweeted. “That would mean they are completely taking control of everyone else’s art and destroying it. Netflix is far better than that. Am I right Netflix?”

MoviePass to Shut Down Sept. 14

Subscription theatrical movie service MoviePass will shut down Sept. 14 at 8 a.m. (EST), according to a letter from CEO Mitch Lowe on the site.

“Over the past several months, MoviePass worked hard to relaunch its groundbreaking subscription service and recapitalize the company,” he wrote. “While we were able to relaunch the service for some of our subscribers with an improved technology platform, our efforts to recapitalize the company have not been successful to date.”

He wrote that subscriptions will be refunded.

“MoviePass will be providing subscribers with appropriate refunds for their period of service already paid for,” he wrote. “Subscribers will not need to request a refund or contact MoviePass customer service to receive a refund. Subscribers will not be charged during the service interruption.”

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The future of the service remains uncertain, according to the letter.

“At this point, we are unable to predict if or when the MoviePass service will continue,” Lowe wrote.

Owned and operated by Helios Matheson Analytics, the service at its peak generated more than 3 million subscribers paying $9.95 for daily access to theatrical releases.

Nielsen’s Gracenote Launches ID System for Movies, TV Programs

Gracenote, a Nielsen company, is bowing a new “video ID distribution system” enabling creators and owners of media programming to more easily distribute their movies, TV shows, short-form videos and other related content to global over-the-top video services, smart device manufacturers and cable and satellite TV providers.

Using the system, studios and networks will be able to register their content with Gracenote‘s Video Database and obtain connected identification markers to enable better search and discovery in program guides, interfaces and OTT catalogs.

Content creators and owners can submit movies, TV programs or short form video content for inclusion in Gracenote’s Video Database, which brings together metadata, linear schedules and VOD/OTT catalogs for more than 85 countries.

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In addition, content holders can submit their own descriptive metadata, tags and imagery, which Gracenote will editorially review and prepare for broad distribution.

“The new system will help creators and owners secure the broadest possible distribution of their programming while providing leading VOD and OTT services a means to easily identify and access relevant metadata for next-generation search and discovery experiences,” Simon Adams, chief product officer at Gracenote, said in a statement.

With the entertainment industry is in the midst of a massive change as new services, platforms and devices compete for audiences and mindshare, the volume of video content grows exponentially.

Gracenote says OTT video services require improved descriptive metadata and universal identifiers to ensure their catalogs are well-organized so that viewers can easily search for and find what they want to watch.

With major video streaming services home to around 40,000 TV episodes and movies, long-tail programming can face “discoverability” challenges, according to Gracenote.

The company says its new software also enables short-form videos to have the power to captivate existing fans and attract new users to services.

Using connected metadata and content IDs from Gracenote, displaying episodes of the short-form video content alongside episodes of related long-form content is simplified. This enables video services to drive deeper engagement with viewers and provide a one-stop shop for all related content, according to Gracenote.

Gracenote IDs and metadata provide common links between TV series, seasons and episodes, as well as related TV and movie genres, celebrities, and other descriptive information.

This promises to improve how Hollywood movies, independent films and short-form videos alike are distributed to and surfaced in pay TV and OTT catalogs, as well as accessed by consumers.

Gracenote is showcasing the new software at IBC in Amsterdam (Hall 14, G29) from Sept. 13 – 17.

Redbox Research: Watching Movies at Home Makes You Hungry

New Redbox research finds that watching movies tends to stimulate the appetite.

The retailer, which rents Blu-ray Discs and DVDs through a national network of kiosks and rents and sells digital movies online, says its latest customer surveys found that 72% of Redbox customers paired their movie night with a full meal and 50% grabbed a snack or treat during their film.

The surveys were part of Redbox’s “Back to the Movies” initiative, launched in August 2018 to encourage people to watch movies together, with family or friends. The promotion includes tie-ins with quick-casual or fast-food restaurants and a pledge for consumers to put away their phones, laptops and other electronic distractions and simply share a movie at home with others.

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Redbox claims to host more occasion-based movie nights than any other home-entertainment retailer — several hundred million movie night occasions annually. Redbox kiosks alone account for more transactional home movie nights than iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, and the large cable video on-demand providers.

The company coined the term “at-home concessions” to capture all movie night food-pairing options.

In 2018, Redbox estimates that its customers spent between $3.5 billion and $4 billion on at-home concessions, and projects customers will spend between $14 billion and $17 billion on at-home concessions in the next five years.

The Redbox surveys, conducted in May and June 2019 with more than 1,000 responses, also were used to determine where customers purchased their at-home concessions, and if a Redbox promotion could drive even more sales.

For a one-night free movie promotion (value of $1.75), Redbox found it could influence over 60% of the market by getting customers to switch their original choice for at-home concessions. For example, 41% of the service’s customers would switch from their preferred pizza provider to a Redbox partner, 63% would switch coffee shop loyalty, 74% would switch in the Mexican food category, and a whopping 88% would switch in the burger category.

Redbox provided some share-shift specifics within categories. In the burger category, for example, for a free movie 57% of Burger King loyalists would switch to McDonald’s, 66% to Wendy’s, 43% to Sonic and 47% to Five Guys. In the Mexican food category, 61% would switch from Taco Bell to Chipotle, while 59% would switch the other way.  In the coffee and donut category, 73% would leave Starbucks for Dunkin’ Donuts, while only 59% would go the other way. For pizza, 55% of Pizza Hut customers would leave for Domino’s, 45% for Papa John’s and 39% for Little Caesars.

This summer, Redbox is partnering with meal-delivery service DoorDash to offer customers three free movie nights and free delivery on their first three orders through DoorDash.

“Redbox believes this is a prudent first step to gain valuable data and benefit our customers while we flesh out our partnership strategy in light of all this new data,” said Ash ElDifrawi, chief marketing and customer experience officer at Redbox. “For example, should we create an open marketplace for any restaurants to partner with us, or pick strategic partners in each category to provide them with significant competitive advantage and share gain?”

Report: Netflix Has Highest-Rated Movies

Netflix is known for original TV series such as “House of Cards,” “Stranger Things,” “Orange Is the New Black” and “The Crown.”

While the streaming video pioneer is ramping up original movie production, its portfolio of highly-rated third-party movies tops the renowned feature film repository of HBO Now, in addition to Amazon Prime Video and Hulu, according to new data from Streaming Observer.

Using Rotten Tomatoes’ “Certified Fresh” movies rating system, in addition to a combination of data from streaming service providers and third-party sites RealGood and JustWatch, Streaming Observer found Netflix has more “certified fresh” movies (596) than HBO Now (38), Prime Video (232) and Hulu (223) combined.

The ranking is significant considering Netflix has 3,000 fewer movies available to stream (3,839 through Jan. 20, 2019) than it did in 2018, and its library is 450% smaller than Prime Video’s with 17,461 titles.

Hulu and HBO Now had 2,336 and 815 movies, respectively.

“Netflix remains the best streaming service overall … for the time being,” wrote Chris Brantner, analyst with Streaming Observer. “Of course, as new streaming services from Disney, Apple, and others enter the market, and Netflix loses more of its licensed content, it remains to be seen how long it can hold onto the crown.”

 

 

Amazon Studios Expands Movie Production Team

Amazon Studios has upped Julie Rapaport to co-head the studio’s movie production team, joining Ted Hope and Matt Newman and reporting to studio boss Jennifer Salke.

Rapaport replaces Jason Ropell, who exited Amazon Studios two months ago. Former senior manager, development, production and acquisitions at the studio, Rapaport reportedly been tasked with developing bigger budget movies that appeal to wider audiences.

The studio, which won a best actor (Casey Affleck) Oscar for Manchester by the Seain 2017, is attempting to expand beyond indie fare, including upcoming releases, Beautiful Boy with Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet, Richard Linklater’s Last Flag Flying and Mike White’s Brad’s Status, among others.

Movies in the pipeline include a feature about Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz and a Civil War-themed title starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, among others.

“Keeping in mind the diverse range of tastes of our Prime Video customers, we are focused on continually expanding our content offerings,” Salke said in a statement. “I want to stress that across series and movies, all divisions hold quality first and foremost as their bar. With Julie joining Ted and Matt, this clears the pathway to further expand our robust movies slate to include more widely engaging stories that audiences will connect with.”

 

 

 

 

Roku Channel Coming to Samsung TVs

Roku March 20 announced that The Roku Channel app is expected to be available this summer on select Samsung smart TVs.

Launched late last year, The Roku Channel offers users free access to hundreds of ad-supported catalog movies and TV shows from content partners.

There are no subscriptions, fees or logins required to access The Roku Channel. It is ad-supported and features approximately half the advertising per programming hour as compared to traditional linear TV.

“The Roku Channel has been a tremendous success,” Scott Rosenberg, GM of platform business at Roku, said in a statement. “By broadening our distribution of this app to other viewing platforms … we are able to engage millions more consumers.”