Carroll Promoted to President of Kino Lorber Media Group

Kino Lorber chief strategy officer Ed Carroll has been promoted to president of the Kino Lorber Media Group (KLMG). He reports directly to Richard Lorber, who remains chairman and CEO.

Carroll joined Kino Lorber a year ago from AMC+ and has played a key role in its expansion into digital, including the acquisition of MHz Choice SVOD and forming a joint venture that includes the Topic streaming service. In November, the company launched its new SVOD service, Kino Film Collection, on Amazon’s Prime Video Channels. 

Two of Kino Lorber’s  2023 releases were recently shortlisted for Academy Awards — Kaouther Ben Hania’s Four Daughters in both the Best International Feature and Best Documentary Feature categories, and Nancy Buirski’s Desperate Souls, Dark City and the Legend of Midnight Cowboy in the Best Documentary Feature category. The company’s recent theatrical acquisitions include Venice award-winner Green Border from Polish auteur Agnieszka Holland and the documentary Remembering Gene Wilder.

“Ed’s top-shelf skills and experience profoundly deepen our executive bench, positioning us for overall profitable growth across theatrical, home entertainment, and our new digital paths,” Lorber said. “He’s a terrific leader who inspires our talented team to thrive, and I couldn’t hope for a better Kino brand champion to work with me as a partner in arms as we move our business forward. ”

Carroll enjoyed a three-decade career at AMC Networks, where he oversaw the development of such successful series as “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad” and “The Walking Dead.” He held various leadership roles including president at Bravo and COO of AMC Networks, where he was in charge of all programming, marketing, ad sales and international distribution. Carroll helmed AMC Networks’ streaming channels including Acorn, Sundance Now, IFC Unlimited and Shudder, and presided over the launch of AMC+. He was also instrumental in AMC’s acquisition of RLJ/Acorn and its equity stake in BBC America.

Reporting to Carroll will be chief operating officer Martha Benyam, who will oversee the MHz Choice and Topic SVODs and the home entertainment group; chief revenue officer Lisa Schwartz, a former president of IFC Films, who will oversee content sales and platform distribution as well as Kino Lorber’s film division; and chief financial officer Judy Silverman, who was previously SVP of Finance at First Look Media and SVP of Finance and Strategic Planning at IFC Films.

Frederick Thomas, founder and president of MHz Networks, will transition to the role of senior advisor to the company. MHz’s national program service Worldview was carried by multiple public television stations across the United States. Thomas created MHz Choice in 2015, launching the nation’s first streaming service dedicated to international series. MHz Now was launched as a FAST channel on TV Plus in 2020. He sold MHz Networks to Kino Lorber in September 2022, and retains a seat on Kino Lorber’s board of directors.

With a library of more than 4,000 titles, Kino Lorber has been a leader in independent art-house distribution for over 45 years, releasing 35 films per year theatrically and garnering seven Academy Award nominations in nine years. 

 

Kino Lorber Launches New Streaming Service on Amazon’s Prime Video Channels

Kino Lorber on Nov. 1 announced the launch of the Kino Film Collection, a new streaming service available in the United States on Amazon’s Prime Video Channels for $5.99 per month. The Collection will feature new Kino releases fresh from theaters, along with hundreds of titles from the indie film distributor’s library of more than 4,000 movies, many now streaming for the first time.

“I’m excited about Kino Film Collection as a destination for our newest films fresh from festivals and theaters, as well as newly launched restorations of classics and curated selections from our vast library, many streaming for the first time,” said Richard Lorber, president and CEO of Kino Lorber. “Over the last 45 years, we’ve introduced electrifying new films from directors at the vanguard around the world to American audiences, and built a library and brand synonymous with cinematic innovation, distinguished curation, and enduring quality. The Kino Film Collection will be the place to go to find the classics of tomorrow and the best of cinema past.”

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Films available at launch include new 4K restorations of The Conformist (Bernardo Bertolucci), Dogtooth (Yorgos Lanthimos), Taxi (Jafar Panahi), Poison (Todd Haynes), Ganja & Hess (Bill Gunn), The Scent of Green Papaya (Tran Anh Hung), and A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (Ana Lily Amirpour).

Also available are such early cinematic classics as Metropolis (Fritz Lang), Nosferatu (F.W. Murnau), The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Robert Wiene), and Battleship Potemkin (Sergei Eisenstein).

Rounding out the collection are acclaimed documentaries including Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story (Alexandra Dean), the Academy Award-nominated Fire at Sea (Gianfranco Rosi), Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami (Sophie Fiennes), and Bill Cunningham New York (Richard Press).

The Kino Film Collection will be updated monthly with regular streaming premieres of new films directly from theaters as well as library and cult titles.

Lisa Schwartz, Chief Revenue Officer for Kino Lorber, who will oversee the service, said, “The creation of Kino Film Collection is the latest example of our continued commitment to independent film and to ensuring our incredible collection remains available for audiences nationwide. Many streaming services are currently undergoing a shift in their content focus and consequently many titles are becoming increasingly difficult to find. Therefore, we felt it was a business imperative to create a dedicated home where our films would be consistently available to film lovers.  This curated collection allows us to highlight our successful new theatrical releases as well as repertory films and beautifully restored library classics.”

Kino Lorber, First Look Media Launch Joint Venture to House Their Streaming Services

Kino Lorber and First Look Media on May 22 announced that they are forming a new joint venture to house both First Look’s Topic streaming service and Kino Lorber’s MHz Choice.

The new company will now operate both Topic streaming and MHz Choice, with Kino Lorber owning the majority stake and assuming management oversight of both.

Topic’s streaming service features such popular titles as the original versions of the series “The Killing” and “The Bridge,” as well as the Nordic series “Arctic Circle.” It joins Kino Lorber’s other SVOD service MHz Choice, a leading U.S. streamer dedicated to international series such as “A French Village” and “Detective Montalbano,” which the company acquired in November 2022. 

Kino Lorber will assume management oversight of the service, including programming, marketing and technology, which will be overseen by MHz Networks founder Frederick Thomas. Topic general manager Ryan Chanatry and Jennifer Liang, who oversaw acquisitions for the streaming service, will consult through the transition period. Kino Lorber SVOD services are overseen by chief strategy officer Ed Carroll. Programming for both Topic streaming and MHz Choice will be overseen by Lance Schwulst, SVP of content strategy for MHz Networks. Topic’s VP of marketing, Monica Bloom, will join the new company and serve as chief marketing officer for both services.

“We’re excited to partner with First Look Media and build on the strong SVOD brand they have created with Topic streaming,” said Kino Lorber president and CEO Richard Lorber. “This is a key strategic investment for Kino Lorber that will strengthen Topic streaming and MHz Choice in their complementarity and create new synergies with our world class film business.” 

“Ryan and his team identified the perfect niche in crime and thriller and built one of the most exciting streaming services available today,” said Michael Bloom, CEO of First Look Media. “We’re excited to partner with Kino Lorber, with its commitment to premium international programming, in this new joint venture, firmly positioning ourselves in the growing market of specialty streaming services.

With a library of over 4,000 titles, Kino Lorber has been a leader in independent art house distribution for over 45 years, releasing 35 films per year theatrically and garnering seven Academy Award nominations in nine years. The company also brings over 350 titles annually to the home entertainment and educational markets through digital and physical media releases. Kino Lorber also handles ancillary media for an expanding family of distributed labels —  including Zeitgeist Films, Milestone Films, Cohen Media Group, Menemsha Films, and Greenwich Entertainment —  and licenses titles digitally to all major TVOD and SVOD platforms. 

Film Distributor Kino Lorber Acquires International TV Series Streamer

Kino Lorber on Nov. 3 announced its acquisition of global media company MHz Networks, parent of streamer MHz Choice, a leading North American SVOD service dedicated to international television series.

The newly combined company, Kino Lorber Media Group LLC, now has over 5,000 titles comprising more than 10,000 hours of programming under license, making it a top North American destination for international series and movies. The acquisition of MHz Choice marks Kino Lorber’s latest, and largest, expansion into the streaming marketplace.

“MHz’s track record of curating best-in-class series from around the world has helped it build one of the most loyal subscriber audiences in streaming,” said Kino Lorber president and CEO Richard Lorber. “At a time when Hollywood mega-streamers are going bigger and broader, we like the idea of going deeper into specialized content to super-serve the most discerning audiences. Our highly curated approach helps us stand out from other streamers, and makes MHz Choice the perfect companion platform for audiences seeking prestige entertainment in an accessible way.”

“Kino Lorber is the perfect fit to help take MHz to the next level,” said MHz Networks founder and CEO Frederick Thomas. “Their extensive library of new and classic international films will add an exciting dimension for our current and future subscribers.”

MHz Networks began as an extension of American Public Broadcasting, with an initial television lineup consisting of international news, documentaries, foreign films and serialized content. The company was one of the earliest entrants to the boutique streaming arena with the launch of the SVOD service MHz Choice in 2015, converting on-air buyers of DVDs of its international TV programming into a large and loyal digital subscriber base. 

Popular series include “A French Village,” “Wallander,” “Murder In …,” “Detective Montalbano,” “Beck” and, most recently, “Paris Police 1900.”

MHz Choice’s upcoming releases include the German kidnapping drama “Enemies,” the Bordeaux-set detective series “Mongeville,” the retro French comedy “Cheeky Business,” the female-led Italian crime dramas “Petra” and “Voiceless,” and the dark family drama “Waterfront,” MHz Choice’s first series from South Africa. The entire staff of both MHz Networks and Kino Lorber will remain in place, with CEO Thomas and SVP of content strategy Lance Schwulst continuing to lead MHz Networks within the Kino Lorber Media Group.

Kino Lorber has been known for decades for its extensive home video library and theatrical releases of celebrated art-house films, garnering seven Academy Awards nominations in 10 years and myriad other accolades. In 2019, the company first expanded into digital with the launch of its TVOD service Kino Now, which Indiewire called “the arthouse iTunes,” offering more than 1,500 curated films from its library for digital rental or purchase.

The following year, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the company launched a “virtual cinema” offering, Kino Marquee, which provided a lifeline for independent arthouse theaters in providing a vehicle for digital revenues while movie theaters were physically shuttered. For this pioneering effort, Kino Lorber was honored with a Special Award from the New York Film Critics Circle.

In 2021, Kino Lorber entered the AVOD arena with the launch of its first free channel, Kino Cult, which specializes in new and rare genre films. The company has since expanded in AVOD with the recent launch of its own Kino Lorber channel on YouTube, offering a revolving selection of hundreds of popular arthouse hits from its core library built up over 40 years. The acquisition of MHz Choice represents Kino Lorber’s largest acquisition since the 2009 merger of Kino International and Lorber HT Digital, as well as its biggest expansion into streaming to date as part of its efforts to further embrace digital as a core part of its distribution strategy.

Kino Lorber Appoints New PR Chief

David Ninh has joined arthouse film distributor Kino Lorber as director of press and publicity, the company announced April 17. He starts April 23. Ninh will report to Wendy Lidell, Kino Lorber’s SVP of theatrical and non-theatrical distribution and acquisitions, and CEO Richard Lorber (for corporate communications).

Ninh previously worked at Kickstarter as senior communications specialist overseeing press and publicity outreach for crowdfunding company’s Film and Arts & Culture categories (including Art, Performance, Publishing, Music, Food and LGBTQ communities). He also worked on company launches such Kickstarter’s DRIP funding subscription tool for creators and helped manage the company’s partnership with the Sundance Institute to collaborate with filmmakers on launching campaigns. As Kickstarter’s first film media relations executive he advised filmmakers, artists and creators on engaging and building community during the initial funding stages of many notable film and arts projects.

Before Kickstarter, Ninh spent four years at the Film Society of Lincoln Center as a member of the publicity team, promoting the organization’s year-round programming, theatrical new releases and repertory programming. He worked on the organization’s film festivals, including the New York Film Festival and New Directors/New Films, and led press initiatives for special retrospective film series such as “Fifty Years of John Waters: How Much Can You Take?” and “Foxy, the Complete Pam Grier.”

Prior to his tenure at Lincoln Center, Ninh was an account executive at PMK-BNC, working on major national media and corporate accounts. Earlier, he was an entertainment and style staff writer for The Dallas Morning News.

Kino Lorber recently opened Sophie Fiennes’s Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami, Rüdiger Suchsland’s Hitler’s Hollywood, Bill Gunn’s restoration of Personal Problems, and Rachel Israel’s Keep the Change.

With a library of 2,000 titles, Kino Lorber has been a leader in independent art- house distribution for 35 years, releasing over 30 films per year theatrically under its Kino Lorber, Kino Classics, Zeitgeist and Alive Mind Cinema banners. In addition, the company brings more than 350 titles annually to the home entertainment and educational markets through disc and digital media releases. Kino Lorber handles releases in ancillary media for Zeitgeist Films, Carlotta USA, Adopt Films, Raro Video, and others, placing physical titles through all wholesale, retail, and direct-to-consumer channels as well as direct distribution to all major and many new VOD platforms.