Studios, Distributors, EMA Team Up on Massive Digital Movie Rental Promotion

A consortium of studios and key digital retailers, cable companies and satellite providers is sponsoring a digital rental movie sale May 31 through June 3 in which consumers can stream up to 250 different movies at prices as low as $2.99 for recent releases and 99 cents for older, catalog titles.

The “Ultimate Movie Weekend” initiative, led by the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA), is believed to be the first time such a coordinated promotion has been undertaken in the United States.

The goal, according to EMA SVP Sean Bersell, is to “introduce consumers who haven’t rented digitally previously to the value and convenience of digital rental, and to entice consumers who haven’t rented digital recently to re-engage.”

The campaign will offer recent releases and catalog movies from Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures, and Warner Bros. Participating digital retailers and cable and satellite companies include Altice USA’s Optimum and Suddenlink TV, Amazon Prime Video, the Apple TV app and iTunes, Atlantic Broadband, Comcast’s Xfinity TV, Cox, DIRECTV, DISH, FandangoNOW, Frontier Communications, Google Play, Microsoft Movies & TV, PlayStation Store, Redbox On Demand, U-Verse, and Vudu.

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The tagline for the Ultimate Movie Weekend is “Rent the Biggest Movies for Less.” Participating retailers will offer between 50 and 250 movies at discounted prices as low as $2.99 for recent releases and $0.99 for catalog movies. The Ultimate Movie Weekend sale includes some of the latest releases that are not yet available on subscription video services. Among the movies in the promotion are A Star Is Born (2018), Bumblebee, Fifty Shades of Grey, First Man, Forrest Gump, The Hunger Games, Robin Hood (2018), Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Step Brothers, and Wonder Woman.

The promotional campaign will be supported by a significant media buy, social media marketing, direct-to-consumer outreach, and a dedicated website, www.ultimatemovieweekend.com. The Ultimate Movie Weekend sale is patterned after similar successful efforts last year in Australia, France and the U.K.

“While the popularity of digital movie rentals continues to grow, there is the opportunity to introduce even more consumers to the value and convenience of digital rental, so the industry has come together to offer a compelling promotion that we hope will attract new customers and remind infrequent digital renters of this option,” said EMA president and CEO Mark Fisher. “Plus, with the start of the summer, which is traditionally a heavy movie-viewing season, it’s a good time to remind consumers of the pleasure of getting together with family and friends for a movie night.”

According to industry statistics, in the first quarter of 2019, digital rental generated $564 million in consumer spending, which accounted for approximately 10% of all home entertainment consumer spending in the quarter.

“This is the first effort of its kind in the U.S., and the breadth of participants demonstrates that the home entertainment industry is making it a priority to communicate the value proposition of digital rentals to consumers,” said Richard Smith, SVP, domestic digital sales, for Paramount Pictures and chair of EMA’s Ultimate Movie Weekend planning committee. “We see significant potential to grow this sector of the industry, and in doing so grow the overall home entertainment market.”

“Our studio partners have assembled a fantastic slate of movies, many unavailable on subscription services, which FandangoNow will offer at compelling prices,” added Cameron Douglas, VP of home entertainment at Fandango and chair of the EMA. “Convenience and value have always been the hallmark of home entertainment, and these great movies at discounted prices draws attention to the ease and affordability of renting digitally.”

New Horror Adaptation of ‘Pet Sematary’ Comes Home on Digital June 25, Disc July 9

The new adaptation of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary will arrive on digital June 25 and 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and VOD July 9 from Paramount Home Entertainment.

It made $54.5 million in U.S. theaters.

Based on the King novel, the film follows the Creeds, who relocate from Boston to rural Maine, where they soon discover an ancient burial ground hidden deep in the woods near their new home. When tragedy strikes, the grief-stricken father is driven by the cemetery’s sinister power, setting off a perilous chain of events.

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The digital, 4K Ultra HD, and Blu-ray releases include more than 90 minutes of special features, including deleted and extended scenes, an alternate ending, a look at the main characters, behind-the-scenes footage, and cast interviews. Digital extras vary by retailer.

The film also boasts a Dolby Atmos soundtrack. Both the 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray combo packs include access to a digital copy of the film.

Paramount Celebrates ‘Forrest Gump’ 25th With Blu-ray, National Mall Screening

Paramount Home Entertainment is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Oscar-winning Forrest Gump with a new Blu-ray release and screenings, including one at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Tom Hanks gives an Oscar-winning performance as Forrest, an everyman whose innocence comes to embody a generation. Alongside his mom (Sally Field), his best friend Bubba (Mykelti Williamson), his commanding officer Lieutenant Dan (Gary Sinise), and his favorite girl Jenny (Robin Wright), Forrest has a ringside seat for the most memorable events of the second half of the 20th century. Directed by Robert Zemeckis, the film won six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Hanks), Best Writing, Best Film Editing and Best Visual Effects.

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To celebrate the anniversary, Paramount will host a special outdoor screening on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., May 24, at 8 p.m.  The free screening will take place between 10th and 12th Streets with spots on the lawn available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Also available now for the 25th is a newly remastered version of the film in a two-disc Blu-ray.  The set includes access to a digital copy of the film as well as more than three hours of bonus content, including commentary by Zemeckis, Steve Starkey and Rick Carter; commentary by Wendy Finerman; “Musical Signposts to History,” with an introduction by Ben Fong-Torres; “Getting Past Impossible—Forrest Gump and the Visual Effects Revolution”; “Through the Ears of Forrest Gump—Sound Design”; “Building the World of Gump—Production Design”; “Seeing is Believing—The Visual Effects of Forrest Gump”; screen tests; trailers; and more.

June 23 and 25, the film will return to the big screen in more than 600 cinemas nationwide for two screenings each day via Fathom Events.  For information and tickets, visit www.FathomEvents.com.

Animated ‘Wonder Park’ Rides to Digital June 4, Disc June 18 From Paramount

The animated adventure Wonder Park will be released on digital June 4 and Blu-ray combo pack and DVD June 18 from Paramount Home Entertainment.

It’s the story of a young girl named June who makes an incredible discovery — the amusement park of her dreams has come to life filled with wild rides operated by fun-loving animals. When trouble hits, June and her misfit team of furry friends begin an unforgettable journey to save the park. Wonder Park features the voices of Jennifer Garner, Mila Kunis, John Oliver, Kenan Thompson and Ken Jeong, among others.

The film made $45.2 million at the box office.

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The Blu-ray combo pack includes access to a digital copy as well as bonus content, including the deleted scene “Gus Yodeling”; “The Wonder Chimp Channel”; “The Pi Song Sing-Along”; “Making Noises (It’s Actually a Job?!!)”; “June’s Guide to Wonderland”; “June’s Welcoming Crew”; “Boardwalk Caricatures”; “Drawing Boomer”; “Drawing the Wonder Chimp Pirate”; and “Drawing the Wonder Chimp Princess.”

Paramount Has Western, War, Classic and Action Titles for Father’s Day

Paramount Home Entertainment has announced gift ideas for Father’s Day, June 16.

For the Western fan, the studio has True Grit, starring John Wayne in his only Oscar-winning performance. The film, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, is available on digital. Also for the Western fan is the Ultimate Classic Western Collection, with nine classics, True Grit (1969), The Shootist, Shane, Hud, Chuka, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Will Penny, Johnny Reno and Posse, available on DVD.

For war buffs is Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan, available on 4K Ultra HD, as well as 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, available on 4K Ultra HD June 11.

For the classic film lover is Best Picture Academy Award winner Forrest Gump, celebrating its 25 anniversary this year, available in a newly remastered two-disc Blu-ray and on 4K Ultra HD. Also, due on Blu-ray June 11 is The Godfather Trilogy: Corleone Legacy, a collection of director Francis Ford Coppola’s epic masterpieces packaged with new collectibles, including a Corleone family tree. Another classic collection available now on DVD is the Paul Newman 6-Movie Collection, with Road to Perdition, Fat Man and Little Boy, Nobody’s Fool, A New Kind of Love and Twilight.

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Available now on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray for action fans is the Mission: Impossible 6-Movie Collection. Also available now on Blu-ray in the action genre is the Bumblebee & Transformers Collection, a six-movie collection that includes all five “Transformers” films plus the latest entry in the franchise, Bumblebee. Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan Season One, the first season in the new series that is a contemporary take on Clancy’s character, will be available on Blu-ray and DVD June 4.

Viacom Takes Paramount+ Streaming Service to Latin America; Inks CNN Content Deal with Pluto TV

Viacom International Media Networks is set to expand the Paramount+ streaming video platform to Latin America.

The SVOD service, which first launched in Scandinavia (in response to HBO Nordics in 2017 and later in Central and Eastern Europe – known as Paramount Play), will become available May 1 in Brazil in a partnership with telecom NET, followed by wider distribution through a mobile deal with America Movil.

Paramount+ affords Viacom and Paramount Pictures international streaming distribution of more than 150 movies and original TV shows, including “Yellowstone,” starring Kevin Costner, “The Handmaids’ Tale” (available exclusively on Hulu in the U.S.), in addition to branded content from MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and Nick Jr.

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“By forging partnerships with the world’s leading operators and distributors, we are able to bring Viacom’s premium content to new global audiences,” David Lynn, president and CEO of Viacom International Media Networks, said in a media statement. “As the media landscape continues to evolve, we will aggressively innovate to expand our partner offerings, including Paramount+, across our massive global footprint.”

Indeed, while Paramount+ represents Viacom’s aggressive strategy to close the digital divide with rival studios, following the recent purchase of Pluto TV, Viacom is fortifying the ad-supported VOD platform with proprietary and third-party content.

Pluto TV just announced a new channel launch featuring content from WarnerMedia’s CNN – which itself is planning an OTT video product in 2020.

“At a time when news cycles are never-ending, in a world that is constantly evolving, CNN’s coveted daily reporting and in-depth features are perfect for our audience to be informed, with immediacy, accuracy and ease,” Amy Kuessner, SVP of content partnerships at Pluto TV, said in a statement. “Pluto TV’s mission to ‘entertain the planet’ also means informing the planet of what is going on in the world, and there is no better partner than the most trusted name in news.”

Final Season, Full Series Set of ‘Broad City’ Coming to DVD July 9 From Paramount

The fifth and final season and full series set of critically acclaimed series “Broad City” will arrive on DVD July 9 from Paramount Home Media Distribution.

Executive produced by Amy Poehler, “Broad City” stars series creators Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer​, as a pair navigating their 20s in New York. The show’s many guest stars have included Fred Armisen, Amy Sedaris, Seth Rogen, RuPaul, Kumail Nanjiani, Kelly Ripa, Jane Curtin, Fran Drescher, Amy Ryan, Aidy Bryant, Whoopi Goldberg, Cynthia Nixon, Seth Green, Tracee Ellis Ross, Hillary Clinton, Tony Danza and Wanda Sykes.​

“Broad City” season five will be available in a two-DVD set and “Broad City” The Complete Series will be available in an 11-DVD set, which includes an extra disc of special features.

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Season 1 (two discs) includes 10 episodes; outtakes and deleted scenes;  video commentary on select episodes; and a photo gallery. Season 2 (two discs) includes 10 episodes; outtakes and deleted scenes;  a pop-up enhanced episode; “Hack Into Broad City”; and “Body by Trey” videos. Season 3 includes 10 episodes; “Hack Into Broad City”; “Behind the Scenes with Broad City”;  deleted scenes; and NOMO FOMO, an art show about broads in the city. Season 4 (two discs) includes 10 episodes; “Hack Into Broad City”; “Behind Broad City”; and deleted and extended scenes. Season 5 (two discs) includes 10 episodes; “Hack Into Broad City”; and  outtakes and deleted/extended scenes. The complete series special features disc includes “Abbi & Ilana’s Broad City”; “Behind the Scenes,” which includes two set tours and two featurettes on the costumes; a fan surprise; “The Making of Season 5,” which includes three featurettes, one of which is exclusive to the DVD; and “A NYC Broad City Send-Off Fit for a Queen” exclusive to the DVD.

‘Bumblebee’ Screenwriter Relished Chance to Put a Woman in the Driver’s Seat

A girl and her car are at the center of the “Transformers” reboot Bumblebee, available now on Blu-ray Disc, DVD, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc and digital from Paramount Home Media Entertainment.

And that’s just as screenwriter Christina Hodson intended.

“As soon as I got the call about working within the ‘Transformers’ franchise I knew I wanted to tell a female-driven story,” she said in an interview with Media Play News on the Paramount lot.

It’s something that blockbuster action franchises rarely feature.

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“Honestly, it’s more about the big picture for me; it’s just about seeing girls in these kinds of roles,” she said. “I think we haven’t seen it often enough. We see so many movies where we just take for granted that it’s the boy or the man that’s at the lead going on the adventure.…  It’s wonderful to just introduce into the world a new spin on that, to see a woman — forgive me — at the steering wheel.”

She based the character of Charlie on her two nieces. One is neither a “girly-girl” nor a “tomboy,” but “something in between” like Charlie, she said. Another has a special relationship with her dad that inspired Charlie’s.

Hodson said she wants more women to get into screenwriting to provide more balance.

“The numbers are crazy, and we’ve got to work on fixing them, and the one thing that I can say — knowing a lot of the female screenwriters of my generation — is we are bringing more women up with us,” she said. “That’s very much our goal.”

To talk about Bumblebee, editor-in-chief Stephanie Prange visited the Paramount lot to learn about the sound effects and more:

She also talked to screenwriter Hodson about the need for more girl power in the movies. Here is the full interview:

Viacom Inks Content Distribution Deal with T-Mobile

T-Mobile and Viacom April 3 announced they have entered into a content distribution agreement. Under terms of the deal, Viacom’s brands — MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET, Nickelodeon, Paramount — will play a key role in T-Mobile’s pending mobile video services to consumers later this year.

The deal enables T-Mobile to bring together live linear feeds of Viacom channels as well as a broad range of on-demand content to serve the carrier’s nearly 80 million customers.

“TV programming has never been better, but consumers are fed up with rising costs, hidden fees, lousy customer service, non-stop BS,” John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile, said in a statement. And ‘Macgyvering’ together a bunch of subscriptions, apps and dongles isn’t much better.”

T-Mobile CEO John Legere

For Viacom, the agreement is another strategic effort to expand the media giant’s lagging digital footprint. The company recently acquired ad-supported VOD service Pluto TV.

‘[It] marks a major step forward in our strategy to accelerate the presence of our brands on mobile and other next-generation platforms,” said Viacom CEO Bob Bakish.

Last year, T-Mobile acquired cable TV disruptor Layer3 TV, and with that team, talent and technology, the company has been readying its first wave of home and mobile TV offerings.

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In recent months, T-Mobile executives have shared some of the company’s plans to launch first with an in-home TV solution, designed to replace cable for the 5G era, and longer term, executives say the company will introduce mobile TV services beginning with Viacom as a cornerstone launch partner.

 

‘What Men Want’ Due on Digital April 23, Disc May 7 From Paramount

The comedy What Men Want, starring Taraji P. Henson, will come out on digital April 23 and Blu-ray combo pack and DVD May 7 from Paramount Home Media Distribution.

The film earned $50.1 million in theaters.

Ali Davis (Henson) is a successful sports agent who’s constantly boxed out by her male colleagues. After a wild night out with the girls, she mysteriously gains the ability to hear men’s thoughts. With her newfound power, Ali looks to outsmart her colleagues as she races to sign the next basketball superstar, but the lengths she has to go to will put her relationship with her best friends and new love interest to the test. The film also stars Aldis Hodge, Richard Roundtree, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Erykah Badu, Max Greenfield and Tracy Morgan.

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The digital and Blu-ray combo pack (with a digital copy) releases include more than an hour of bonus features, including a gag reel, deleted and extended scenes, a spoof infomercial featuring Badu, and interviews with the cast. The Blu-ray also features a commentary with director Adam Shankman.