Premiere Digital will release Love Virtually — described as a retro future satirical rom-com for the Metaverse era — on digital and via on demand Nov. 7.
In the film, the Metaverse has become widely adopted, and four couples go to ridiculous lengths to find true love in a virtual world. Blending live action and 3D animation as it explores and exposes the absurd reality of the virtual world and where we are heading, the film probes questions such as: How does a celebrity find someone who loves them for their true selves? Is it cheating if it’s in VR? And, Is it cheating if it’s with an AI?
Love Virtually stars Cheri Oteri, Paul F. Tompkins, Peter Gilroy, Ryan O’Flanagan, Adam Ray, Nikki Howard, Tom Virtue, Paige Mobley, Vincent Washington, Ksenia Valenti, Harper Frawley, L.E. Staiman and Stephen Tobolowsky.
Michele Edelman is head of growth at Premiere Digital, a media services and software solutions company.With more than 20 years of executive experience and extensive knowledge of home entertainment, Edelman has been at the forefront of an evolving OTT landscape, from launching TVOD/EST programs at Warner Bros., to spearheading VOD strategies at Vubiquity, to redefining distribution at Premiere Digital.
Before joining Premiere Digital, she served as EVP of marketing and content strategy at Vubiquity, where she oversaw global execution of cross-departmental marketing, corporate communications and creative strategy, as well as the management and merchandising of premium content. Prior to that, she was worldwide VP at Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, where she oversaw a variety of departments, including direct-to-consumer marketing, digital distribution marketing, programming and acquisitions. Her work includes sales and marketing campaigns for some of the world’s biggest studios, including ESPN, Disney and MTV Networks, as well as cross-industry initiatives to promote the growth of emerging digital formats. In October of 2019, Michele joined Premiere Digital to focus on the company’s mission of helping its customers monetize content and streamline operations, as well as on its vision of positioning itself for the ongoing future of digital distribution.
Media Play News asked Edelman about her company’s game plan and about the direction of a home entertainment industry she has been a part of for more than two decades.
MPN: Can you tell us about the history of Premiere Digital and what services it offers?
Edelman: Premiere Digital was founded in 2008 by Erik Anderson who was on the original iTunes video distribution team. We currently have three production facilities located in Los Angeles, Stamford, Conn., and Bangalore, India, and a satellite sales office in Toronto. Erik always had vision and realized the digital supply chain could be “smarter,” so he started Premiere Digital.
Erik also happened to be my client while I was at Warner Bros. and when he called me to welcome me to Premiere his number came up with the Apple/iTunes co. I felt like I shot back 10 years while at the same time was moving ahead 10.
MPN:Premiere last year launched its first title The Wall. What’s the strategy for getting into content distribution, what other titles has Premiere launched and what others are in the works?
Edelman: The amount of content that does not make it to the marketplace is staggering. Tons of films and TV shows are made and never seen by an audience. We’re giving those projects a chance at making it to screens and aggregating on behalf of the content makers to the marketplace. This project started back in 2019 and The Wall was the first big one to date. We plan to do a number of these a year. One other successful TV show that was distributed by us was “The Chosen” that performed so well on digital platforms, the production company created a season two.
MPN:Premiere has been a champion for women in technology. What steps have you and the company taken to make it a welcoming environment for women and how does it affect company strategy?
Edelman: Premiere is a champion of people and many of them happen to be women. I don’t want to make it sound like I’m skirting the issue but we truly are champions of people and do our part to participate where the need is. For example, we go above and beyond in the social awareness category almost every month, changing our logos color to reflect a necessary cause and making donations where we can. LGBTQ+, Breast Cancer Awareness, Black History, Hispanic Heritage … the list goes on. WiTH is also part of this donation to support Women in Technology in Hollywood. So, to support your statement, we champion women, minorities and whoever needs additional support.
MPN:As a home entertainment industry veteran, how do you see the evolution of the business, from its early days on VHS to disc to today’s business models What kind of smart tools do companies need to thrive in a constantly evolving digital ecosystem?
Edelman: I love this topic and feel proud to have been on the ground floor of the physical to digital entertainment shift. It was exciting to see how the industry pulled together and then the market just evolved as a result. It was the people that spearheaded it with the original transactional platforms … cable VOD, iTunes, Amazon, Xbox, Playstation and now today it’s pretty much all we know. What sensational times.
MPN: Speaking of this evolution, what kind of smart tools do companies need to thrive in a constantly evolving digital ecosystem?
Edelman: We probably need better tools that manage all assets whether they be video, artwork, languages, data, promos, even text in one location so that companies can build their assets for global distribution. We spend a lot of time looking for components in multiple locations so a central point that includes all asset elements would be the pie in the sky. An individual film title goes live globally with various languages, metadata, promotional assets and creative elements for advertising. Multiple teams develop and store assets in multiple locations. Multiple individuals have access for various reasons in multiple languages. A central location for everything would make everything easier for everyone.
Premiere Digital and Windfall Films on Dec. 15 announced the Jan. 18 launch of The Wall — Climb for Gold, a feature-length documentary that follows four elite female climbers on their quest to make the Tokyo Olympics.
The 90-minute film will be available globally for digital rental and purchase through Apple TV, Google Play and Amazon Prime Video, depending on a viewer’s country.
In the United States, the documentary will also be available for transactional video-on-demand (TVOD) viewing on Redbox On Demand, Vudu and DirecTV. Other platforms are expected to join in before the film’s release. Later in the year, The Wall will be accessible on global streaming platforms.
The Wall — Climb for Gold follows the four climbers over a two-year period as they battle to make it through the qualifying events to get to Tokyo for the first-ever Olympic climbing competition. Their original plans fall apart as the COVID-19 pandemic results in the Olympics being postponed for a year.
The four climbers profiled in the documentary are Brooke Raboutou (USA), Janja Garnbret (Slovenia), Miho Nonaka (Japan), and Shauna Coxsey MBE (Great Britain).
Garnbret, 22, was a child phenomenon and holds the most world titles in the sport. The overwhelming favorite for the Olympic title, she is under extraordinary pressure to deliver when it matters most.
Raboutou, 20, is one of the youngest competitors at the Games and must balance training and being a student at the University of California, San Diego. Raboutou’s mother and father are both legends of the sport, winning numerous World Cup titles in the 1990s.
Nonaka, 24, the 2018 Bouldering World Cup champion, is a Tokyo native and must overcome the pressure of representing her country in her home city.
Coxsey, 28, is one of the most successful British climbers in history, with Bouldering World Cup titles in 2016 and 2017. Coxsey has fought to overcome serious injury and seeks to continue her success with a record-shattering performance at the Olympics.
The film was directed by Nick Hardie (Formula 1: Drive to Survive), features a score by multi-award-winning composer Nainita Desai (The Reason I Jump, For Sama) and is edited by Emily West.
The Wall — Climb for Gold was created by Windfall Adventures Ltd., a subsidiary of Windfall Films, part of the Argonon Group. Windfall was supported by Adidas in the making of the film, but it retained complete independence and editorial control throughout. Premiere Digital is handling the global distribution.
Directed by April Abeyta, the documentary follows three young women on a 1999 collegiate basketball team as they push to reach their athletic potential and seek NCAA glory at a small university. Nearly 20 years later, these same women each find themselves applying lessons learned from their playing days to different professional off-the-court challenges.
Weaving together the stories of two college basketball players, Michelle Ruzzi and Polly Neves, and their head coach Mary Hegarty, After the Game: A 20-Year Look at Three Former Athletes gives perspective into the world of small-time college athletics and highlights the connection between sports participation and professional success.
“If this film helps even one young girl recognize the wider scope of sports benefits and continue on with her athletic career when she would have otherwise quit, then we will have contributed something incredibly powerful and positive to our community,” Abeyta said in a statement. “This makes After the Game a story worth sharing.”
After the Game follows Premiere Digital’s release of another film focused on elite female athletes and their journey to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, The Wall — Climb for the Gold. “Premiere Digital is excited to once again be a part of such groundbreaking films reflecting the diverse experiences of strong, resilient women in athletics,” Michele Edelman, Premiere Digital’s head of growth, said in a statement. “We look forward to continue bringing inspirational, riveting, authentic stories to mass audiences.”
Premiere Digital is getting into content distribution.
In collaboration with Windfall Films, the media services and software solutions company is distributing its first title, The Wall — Climb for Gold, a feature-length documentary scheduled to debut to global audiences on digital platforms in early 2022.
It marks the first release of an ongoing slate of films and content offerings planned from Los Angeles-based Premiere Digital.
The Wall is produced by international production company Windfall Films (part of the Argonon Group). The film was made with the support of sports brand Adidas and follows four elite female climbers from the Adidas team over a two-year period as they battle to make it through the qualifying events to get to Tokyo for the first ever Olympic climbing competition. The journey includes a grueling season of competition and training that sees all their original plans in tatters as the COVID-19 pandemic forces the Olympics to be postponed. As they battle both mentally and physically en route to the games, the film offers insight into what it means to be an Olympian through an intimate look into the lives of these elite climbers: Brooke Raboutou (United States), Janja Garnbret (Slovenia), Miho Nonaka (Japan) and Shauna Coxsey (Great Britain).
Garnbret was a child phenomenon and holds the most world titles under her belt in the sport. Heralded as the greatest competition climber of all time and the overwhelming favorite for the Olympic title, she is under extraordinary pressure to deliver when it matters most.
Raboutou, 20, is one of the youngest competitors at the Games and must balance training and being a student at U.C. San Diego. Both Raboutou’s mother and father are legends of the sport, winning numerous World Cup titles in the 1990s, and she hopes to continue the family success.
Nonaka, the 2018 Bouldering World Cup champion, is a Tokyo native and must overcome all the extra pressure of representing her country in her home city.
Coxsey is one of the most successful British climbers in history, with Bouldering World Cup titles in 2016 and 2017. Coxsey has fought to overcome serious injury but hopes to continue her success with a record-shattering performance at the Olympics.
The film is directed by Nick Hardie (“Formula 1: Drive to Survive”), features a score by multi-award winning composer Nainita Desai (The Reason I Jump, For Sama) and is edited by Emily West.
“The Wall is an intimate, emotional and epic story charting the astonishing journeys of four inspiring athletes from across the globe,” Dan Kendall, executive producer for Windfall Films, said in a statement. “The film provides a unique window into the climbers’ lives, capturing their amazing strength of character. With its broad international appeal, The Wall — Climb for Gold will excite and engage audiences across the world.”
“It is absolutely fitting that the first film we are distributing as part of our new distribution business is a remarkable story about dedicated, passionate and goal-oriented female athletes who overcome obstacles and challenges abound to reach new heights,” Steve Rosenberg, chief commercial officer, Premiere Digital, said in a statement. “We are truly excited to bring this incredibly riveting and inspirational documentary to audiences worldwide and look forward to a prosperous future working with filmmakers and content producers to have their stories shared.”
The Wall — Climb for Gold was created by Windfall Adventures Ltd, a subsidiary of Windfall Films. Windfall was supported by Adidas in the making of the film but throughout retained complete independence and editorial control, according to the press release.
Premiere Digital, a media services, distribution and aggregation, and SaaS technology solutions company, has announced the expansion of its facilities.
This expansion comes via a build-out of the Stamford, Conn., location of the recently acquired CMI Media Management, a media provisioning company in inflight entertainment.
In order to provide better solutions for both new and existing clients, Premiere has established more-streamlined operations globally with the Stamford facility, adding to existing facilities in Los Angeles and Bangalore, India, according to the company. The Stamford facility will augment its end-to-end business model with a technical operations staff that is ramping up to grow significantly, according to Premiere.
The Stamford facility will continue to focus on inflight entertainment, while scaling Premiere’s media servicing and distribution operations with an emphasis on HDR servicing. The facility’s East Coast location also enables Premiere to be more accessible to its global clientele, providing reliable support for existing workflows, according to the company.
The facility’s transition will be under the guidance of Elizabeth Archer, director of mastering, who has relocated from the Los Angeles office and reports directly to COO A.J. Sauer. Archer is responsible for building the foundation of the facility’s operations and integrating its systems with Los Angeles’s processes and technologies.
“In this era of shrinking content exploitation windows and global expansion, turnaround times are measured in hours, not days or weeks, so it’s important that we have a distributed workforce and operations that chase the sun,” Sauer said in a statement. “By adding Stamford to our existing facility locations in Los Angeles and Bangalore, we can increase efficiencies in our workflows and better meet our clients’ global digital supply chain needs.”
Craig Seidel of Pixelogic Media and Premiere Digital Services were among the top winners at the first-ever Technology & Operations Awards, DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group announced April 28.
The new awards program, the trade group says, was created “to recognize exceptional technology accomplishments in the digital supply chain achieved by both companies and individuals.”
Seidel was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, for his work at former employer MovieLabs, where he led development of the MovieLabs Digital Distribution Framework, the suite of specifications that enable an automated digital supply chain among content providers, retailers/platforms, and service providers.
Premiere Digital was honored with a People’s Choice award, voted on by attendees during the virtual awards show, with finalists in all categories eligible for the popular vote.
Awards were given out in five categories.
Bill Kotzman of Google and Dave Lindsay of Disney Streaming Services won Technology Leadership honors.
Jason Pena of Google and Kacy Boccumini of Sony Pictures Entertainment won for Technology Achievement.
And the Technology Innovation Award was split by Disney+, the Lionsgate Content Operations Team and Premiere Digital.
“DEG is so pleased to recognize the winners — and all the outstanding finalists — for the inaugural DEG TechOps Awards,” said Amy Jo Smith, president and CEO of the DEG. “As was noted by a number of senior industry executives and Oscar-winning director Pete Docter during the show, our TechOps community is the engine that drives delivery of premium content to consumers across the globe. Without these people, there would be no in-home entertainment as we know it.”
Premiere Digital was the official cocktail sponsor of the DEG TechOps Awards. The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented by Dolby. The Technology Innovation Award was presented by Whip Media. Video production was courtesy of creative content sponsor TiVo/DTS.
The show featured original music created by Ed “Special Ed” Archer, and a pitch for involvement in two organizations that are working to bolster technology education and career opportunities for underserved communities in Los Angeles, DIY Girls and Plug in South LA.
Transactional VOD, or the digital rental or sale of titles, is here to stay — including the higher-priced COVID-induced newcomer PVOD — said panelists during the OTT.X spring summit.
“It’s still, if you actually include the declining physical part of the business, it’s still a $10 billion business,” said Fandango’s Cameron Douglas, who oversees transactional services FandangoNow and the recently acquired Vudu. “It also was the first year, last year, that you actually saw growth, combined physical and digital business en masse. So I absolutely think that there’s a continued appetite for consumers for transactional video whether it’s Blu-ray and DVD or TVOD.”
“It’s absolutely here to stay, and the reason for that is that is consumers cannot afford to sign up for every single subscription service that’s out there, and there’s no way that you can replicate the selection that’s available on transactional platforms,” added Jill Allen, SVP of Sony Pictures Entertainment. “It’s just ubiquitous. It’s on every platform. And if you want to watch a movie, you generally know that it’s available to rent or buy somewhere. And then in addition TVOD has various benefits in terms of the windows, too, getting the earlier window. So in the near term I see it continuing. Even though it’s definitely benefited from COVID, looking forward I see it still being a very vibrant, large business.”
Transactional services also offer a deeper library of content than subscription services, panelists noted.
“I don’t know how many pieces of content Peacock has or Netflix has but it’s relatively small compared to a transactional platform,” Douglas added. “I think Vudu, at last count, has 225,000 movies and TV shows. I promise you that even the biggest services on the subscription side have nothing that size library.”
The studio leap into premium VOD (PVOD), usually a $20 one-time rental, has been successful as well, panelists noted, with Premier Digital’s Michele Edelman saying that a friend had shared a story about watching a first-run film at home.
“She said, ‘I treated myself to a theatrical movie in my house,’” Edelman said. “’I’d just had dinner, and I watched Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar.’ She said, ‘It was the best experience.’”
Edelman noted that “everyone’s screens are bigger,” making watching movies at home more theater-like.
“They’re creating this really great theatrical experience where they are,” she said.
Roku’s Mike Gamboa agreed.
“Consumers love new release movies,” he said. “I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon, but I think they have been demanding the flexibility to watch either in theaters or at home. And I think from our perspective, the success of Trolls [World Tour on PVOD] and Scoob! [also on PVOD] kind of demonstrated that consumers love new-release movies at home, and the economics and technical infrastructure is in place to support that business model. So we do see opportunity and viability of PVOD and TVOD to support the new-release movies.”
Sony’s Allen, too, noted that PVOD produced changes in how the teams at the studio worked together.
“We’ve never collaborated so closely with our theatrical team,” she said.
Indeed, Douglas noted, PVOD titles were able to benefit from theatrical marketing as never before.
“I’m looking forward to a real PVOD title,” Douglas said. “We really haven’t had one. Premium VOD in its initial incarnation was meant to be a theatrical movie that has a short window to home entertainment. Because theaters haven’t really opened up yet, a real PVOD title is going to be the real test.”
With the windows shifting during the pandemic and studios experimenting with different windows and pricing, the calculus in how to release a title has become complex during the past year, Allen said.
“You now have to navigate around a whole new set of competitive windows and, internally, as a content provider, you have to look at when your content is going into other windows as well, too,” she said. “So it’s become a little bit more complex.”
Allen said she has to look at individual release plans for each of her studio’s own titles and also what windows the other studios’ titles are employing.
“You had Wonder Woman  that had multiple new-release windows,” she noted. “If you’re competing against the third new-release window of that, is that now a big deal? So understanding the competitive landscape, very, very complex. Even within each studio, if you have a title that’s on a subscription service. If I have a Christmas-themed movie, and I have it available on an SVOD service, can I sell that movie right now?”
While new releases have been few and far between during the pandemic as the pipeline shrank to a trickle, TVOD services and studios leaned on catalog to fill the gap, panelists noted.
“We’ve seen huge growth in [catalog] the last year because of the dearth of new release content,” Douglas said, adding the services have noticed “people rediscovering their favorites, collecting them, adding them to their library, including full series of television shows, where they’re buying almost the entire series of ‘Married With Children’ or ‘M*A*S*H’ or ‘The Office.’”
Sony, too, has been mining catalog while production slowed.
“It’s been our lives since COVID started,” Allen said.
Indeed, consumers are responding by collecting digitally, noted Edelman.
“I just heard the other day, someone said, ‘I started building my digital library,’” she said. “’I now have in my library my absolute favorite films, and I’m buying them at these really discounted prices because it was worth it.'”
“It’s the best subscription service you could ever have,” added Douglas.
Premiere Digital, a media services, distribution and technology solutions company, has appointed Pamela Ng CFO.
In her role, Ng will oversee all financial operations and guide business strategy in line with growth and risk management initiatives, spearheading efforts in data-driven decision making.
She reports to Mark Lazar, CEO.
“Pamela’s financial leadership and expertise in supporting top companies make her a perfect fit for Premiere Digital,” Lazar said in a statement. “She’s the best individual to take on our next wave of investment in new technologies and work with the management team to help us rapidly grow our business.”
Ng has experience driving revenue, profitability and operational efficiency at top technology and CPG companies. Prior to joining Premiere Digital, she served as CFO at Irwin Naturals, a provider of premium vitamins; VP of strategy at Beachbody, a leading fitness streaming and nutrition company; and GM of Teleflora’s SaaS e-commerce platform.
“I am excited to step into the CFO role at Premiere Digital to help the company accelerate growth, and I look forward to working with the entire team to build on the company’s culture, momentum, and strong business and technology fundamentals,” Ng said in a statement.
Premiere Digital, the media services, distribution and technology solutions company, has appointed Andrew Buck EVP, based in Toronto.
Buck will be responsible for expanding the company’s distribution services and SaaS tools on a global level, including Storefront, the company’s flagship platform for managing global content and a SaaS tool that provides monitoring to both content owners and digital retailers around content avail management.
He reports to Michele Edelman, head of growth.
Most recently, Buck was CEO of Toronto- and Los Angeles-based Juice Worldwide — a company he co-founded in 2004 to focus on the digital distribution of film, TV and music content across the world’s top OTT platforms. As CEO for nearly 16 years, Buck was involved in all aspects of the company, from business development to sales and marketing, resulting in its 2015 acquisition by Los Angeles based Vubiquity, and then again in 2018 by Amdocs. As part of the newly formed Amdocs Media Division, Buck continued on as CEO of Juice until 2020.
“Having a world-class team to expand our products and services is top priority,” Edelman said in a statement. “I could not be happier to have Andrew on the team as he brings a wealth of industry knowledge and relationships. As our company continues to hit a high note, continuing to expand our presence was critical and Andrew checked all the boxes.”
Over the last few months, Premiere has announced a number of expansion plans. In addition to hiring Buck, the company announced the acquisition of Stamford, Conn., based CMI and has established a presence in London with the addition of former Sony Pictures exec Abigail Hughes, VP of growth at EMEA.