Sony Announces ‘Cognitive Intelligence’ TVs

Sony Electronics has announced what it calls “the world’s first cognitive intelligence televisions.”

The new Bravia XR televisions include Master Series Z9J 8K LED, MASTER Series A90J and A80J OLED, and X95J and X90J 4K LED.

Powered by the Cognitive Processor XR, the televisions use a new processing method designed to replicate the ways humans see and hear, according to Sony.

“When we see objects, we unconsciously focus on certain points. Cognitive Processor XR, powered by cognitive intelligence, divides the screen into numerous zones and detects where the ‘focal point’ is in the picture,” according to Sony. “While conventional Artificial Intelligence (AI) can only detect and analyze picture elements like color, contrast and detail individually, the new processor can cross-analyze an array of elements at once, just as our brains do. By doing so, each element is adjusted to its best final outcome, in conjunction with each other, so everything is synchronized and lifelike — something that conventional AI cannot achieve.”

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Cognitive Processor XR can also analyze sound position in the signal so the sound matches precisely with what’s on the screen, according to the company. In addition, it upconverts any sound to 3D surround sound.

“It learns, analyzes and understands unprecedented amounts of data and intelligently optimizes every pixel, frame and scene for the most lifelike picture and sound Sony has ever delivered,” according to a Sony press release.

“Sony’s goal is to offer viewers the best and most immersive experience – authentically delivering the creator’s true intent,” Mike Fasulo, president and chief operating officer of Sony Electronics, said in a statement. “Our new BRAVIA CORE technology and the XR lineup takes the industry to the next level with a powerful, cinematic experience, enabled by the world’s first TVs with cognitive processors.”

‘The Last Vermeer’ Coming to Disc and Digital Feb. 23

The World War II drama The Last Vermeer will come out on Blu-ray, DVD and digital Feb. 23 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

In the film, while Joseph Piller (Claes Bang), a Dutch Jew, was fighting in the Resistance during the Second World War, the witty, debonair art connoisseur Han van Meegeren (Guy Pearce) was hosting hedonistic soirees and selling Dutch art treasures to Hermann Göring and other top Nazis. Following the war, Piller becomes an investigator assigned the task of identifying and redistributing stolen art, resulting in the flamboyant van Meegeren being accused of collaboration — a crime punishable by death. Despite mounting evidence, Piller, with the aid of his assistant (Vicky Krieps), becomes increasingly convinced of Han’s innocence and finds himself in the unlikely position of fighting to save his life.

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The film is based on the book The Man Who Made Vermeers by Jonathan Lopez.

‘Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV’ Coming to 4K UHD March 30 From Sony

Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV will come out on 4K Ultra HD March 30 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

In the film, the magical kingdom of Lucis is home to the sacred Crystal, and the menacing empire of Niflheim is determined to steal it. King Regis of Lucis (Sean Bean) commands an elite force of soldiers called the Kingsglaive. Wielding their king’s magic, Nyx (Aaron Paul) and his fellow soldiers fight to protect Lucis. As the overwhelming military might of the empire bears down, King Regis is faced with an impossible ultimatum — to marry his son, Prince Noctis, to Princess Lunafreya of Tenebrae (Lena Headey), captive of Niflheim, and surrender his lands to the empire’s rule. Although the king concedes, it becomes clear that the empire will stop at nothing to achieve their devious goals, with only the Kingsglaive standing between them and world domination. Based on the iconic game, which has sold nearly 9 million copies worldwide since its launch.

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Extras include “A Way with Words: Epic and Intimate Vocals,” in which Aaron Paul, Lena Headey and Sean Bean — along with the filmmakers — reveal the process of creating the vocals for this film; “Fit for the Kingsglaive: Building the World,” an in-depth exploration of imagining and designing the world of the film;  “To Capture the Kingsglaive: The Process,” exploring the intricate process of capturing the physical performances at the heart of this computer-generated film; and “Emotive Music: Scoring the Kingsglaive,” about the creation of the score.

Buddy Comedy ‘The Climb’ Coming to Digital and Disc Jan. 19

The buddy comedy The Climb will come out on digital, DVD, and Blu-ray Jan. 19 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film takes a humorous look at the toxic lifelong friendship of Mike and Kyle. While Kyle is kind and a bit of a pushover, Mike is a train wreck, who, despite his affection for Kyle, always seems to sabotage Kyle’s relationships. Told through a series of vignettes, Kyle struggles to deal with the fact that his best friend might just be the worst person for him.

Extras include filmmaker commentary, the original short film, and deleted and alternate scenes.

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AT&T Sells Crunchyroll to Sony’s Funimation

AT&T has agreed to sell its Crunchyroll anime streaming service to Funimation Global Group for $1.175 billion.

Funimation is a joint venture between Sony Pictures Entertainment and Sony Music Entertainment’s (Japan) subsidiary, Aniplex Inc.

Crunchyroll is an anime direct-to-consumer service within AT&T’s WarnerMedia segment with more than 3 million SVOD subscribers. It serves 90 million registered users across more than 200 countries and territories offering AVOD, mobile games, manga, events merchandise and distribution.

The combination of Crunchyroll and Funimation provides the opportunity to broaden distribution for their content partners and expand fan-centric offerings for consumers, according to the AT&T-Sony joint release.

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“The Crunchyroll team has done an extraordinary job of not only growing the Crunchyroll brand but also building a passionate community of anime fans. Crunchyroll’s success is a direct result of the company’s culture and commitment to their fans,” Tony Goncalves, chief revenue officer of WarnerMedia, said in a statement. “By combining with Funimation, they will continue to nurture a global community and bring more anime to more people. I’m incredibly proud of the Crunchyroll team and what they have been able to accomplish in the digital media space in such a short period of time. They’ve created an end-to-end global ecosystem for this incredible art form.”

“We are proud to bring Crunchyroll into the Sony family,” Tony Vinciquerra, chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment, said in a statement. “Through Funimation and our terrific partners at Aniplex and Sony Music Entertainment Japan, we have a deep understanding of this global artform and are well-positioned to deliver outstanding content to audiences around the world. Together with Crunchyroll, we will create the best possible experience for fans and greater opportunity for creators, producers and publishers in Japan and elsewhere. Funimation has been doing this for over 25 years and we look forward to continuing to leverage the power of creativity and technology to succeed in this rapidly growing segment of entertainment.”

“We are excited to embark on this new journey. Crunchyroll has built a world-class brand with a passionate fan-base of over 3 million subscribers, 50 million social followers and 90 million registered users. These amazing fans have helped to propel anime into a global phenomenon,” Joanne Waage, GM of Crunchyroll, said in a statement. “Combining the strength of the Crunchyroll brand and the expertise of our global team with Funimation is an exciting prospect and a win for the incredible art form of anime.”

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals.

‘Kid Detective’ Coming to Disc and Digital Jan. 19 From Sony

The dark comedy The Kid Detective will come out on DVD, Blu-ray and digital Jan. 19 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

A once-celebrated kid detective (Adam Brody, TV’s “The O.C.”), now 31, continues to solve the same trivial mysteries between hangovers and bouts of self-pity. Until a naïve client (Sophie Nélisse, The Book Thief) brings him his first adult case — to find out who brutally murdered her boyfriend.

The film also stars Tzi Ma, Wendy Crewson and Sarah Sutherland.

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‘The Last Shift’ Coming to DVD, Blu-ray and Digital Dec. 29 From Sony

The comic drama The Last Shift will come out on DVD, Blu-ray and digital Dec. 29 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

In the film, Stanley (two-time Oscar nominee Richard Jenkins), an aging fast-food worker, plans to call it quits after 38 years on the graveyard shift at Oscar’s Chicken and Fish. His last weekend takes a turn while training his replacement, Jevon (Shane Paul McGhie), a talented but stalled young writer whose provocative politics keep landing him in trouble. These two who share little in common are brought together through circumstance. Stanley, a high school dropout who has watched his life pass by his drive-through window, proudly details the nuances of the job. While Jevon, a columnist who’s too smart to be flipping patties, contends their labor is being exploited. A flicker of comradery sparks during the long overnight hours in a quiet kitchen.

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Sony Subsidiary to Acquire Faith and Family SVOD Service Pure Flix

Sony Pictures Entertainment subsidiary Affirm Entertainment will acquire faith and family subscription streaming service Pure Flix, the studio announced.

The SVOD service provides movies and TV shows to viewers in the United States and Canada.

Following the closing of the deal, Pure Flix chief content officer and founding partner David A.R. White will join Affirm and will serve as head of outreach and special projects.

“Pure Flix is a natural fit with our Affirm brand, which is known for its high quality, uplifting, inspirational content,” Keith Le Goy, president of networks and distribution at Sony Pictures Entertainment, said in a statement. “We love creating and sharing stories that are both impactful and entertaining, and the Pure Flix service will enable us to do more of that every day. Pure Flix has done an amazing job building a robust community of engaged subscribers, and we look forward to continuing to grow and delight audiences with well-curated faith and family entertainment.”

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“For over 15 years, Pure Flix has strived and succeeded to bring faith and family entertainment to our loyal audiences,” Michael Scott, CEO of Pure Flix, said in a statement. “We are thrilled with the creative opportunities and the ability to reach a broader audience through this agreement with Affirm Entertainment. We want to express our heartfelt gratitude to our longtime Pure Flix supporters as we continue to bring them inspirational and high-quality content in the years ahead.”

Affirm has produced such films as Soul Surfer, War Room, Risen, Heaven Is for Real, Miracles From Heaven and, most recently, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood in partnership with TriStar Pictures.

‘The Craft: Legacy’ to Debut on Disc Dec. 22 From Sony

Blumhouse’s The Craft: Legacy will debut on DVD and Blu-ray Dec. 22 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The Craft: Legacy, which debuted on PVOD Oct. 28, is a continuation of the 1996 film The Craft, in which aspiring teenage witches get more than they bargained for as they lean into their newfound powers. The film is written and directed by Zoe Lister-Jones and stars Cailee Spaeny (Bad Times at the El Royale, On the Basis of Sex), Gideon Adlon (The Society, Blockers, The Mustang), Lovie Simone (Selah & the Spades, Greenleaf), Zoey Luna (Pose, Boundless) and Nicholas Galitzine (Cinderella), with Michelle Monaghan and David Duchovny.

Bonus materials include two featurettes and four alternate scenes with an introduction from the director.

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Vudu Service Launches on PlayStation 5

Vudu, the transactional video-on-demand service owned by Fandango, is available on Sony Interactive Entertainment’s next-generation PlayStation 5 game console at launch Nov. 12, the company announced.

Vudu, which was already available on the PS4, offers more than 150,000 movies and TV shows, including thousands of titles in 4K.

“As longtime fans know, PlayStation consoles are not just for playing games; they’re one of the most widely-used media hubs and a popular way to stream entertainment content at home,” read a Fandango press release. “With Vudu on PS5, fans can watch more movies and TV shows from the comfort of their home with no subscription required.”

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“Vudu is focused on delivering fans the latest new-elease and premium event titles, as well as our comprehensive catalog of movies and TV shows, and we’re thrilled to offer all of that content on PS5 at launch,” says Kevin Shepela, EVP, chief commercial officer, Fandango. “It’s a great time for fans to find their favorites to stream on their consoles, as we head toward the holidays and our Thanksgiving week sales.”

New movies coming to Vudu this month include Come Away (Angelina Jolie, David Oyelowo), The New Mutants (Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy), The Personal History of David Copperfield (Dev Patel), Dreamland (Margot Robbie), along with thousands of films and TV shows on sale during Thanksgiving week and that are not yet available on subscription services.