FilmRise Licenses Children’s Programming, Including ‘Barney’

FilmRise, the New York-based film and TV studio and streaming network, has licensed a selection of children’s programs, including “Barney and Friends,” “Angelina Ballerina” and “Camp Lakebottom,” from 9 Story Distribution International for placement on its North American, AVOD-based FilmRise Streaming Network.

The deal includes non-exclusive licenses to Seasons 10-14 of “Barney and Friends,” the first four seasons of “Angelina Ballerina,” and the first three seasons of “Camp Lakebottom.”

“These popular children’s programs fit perfectly into our strategy of increasing our market share within the children’s/family space,” said FilmRise CEO Danny Fisher in a statement. “Audiences have an enduring appetite for these established, recognizable family-friendly TV series for kids, and we are pleased to offer them to new generations of children with no fee to their parents.”

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“Barney & Friends” is  targeted at children ages 2–7. It features the title character Barney, a purple anthropomorphic Tyrannosaurus rex who conveys educational messages through songs and small dance routines with a friendly, silly and optimistic attitude.

“Angelina Ballerina” is a British animated children’s television series, based on the Angelina Ballerina series of children’s books. The program is about Angelina Mouseling, a fictional young mouse who is training to become a ballerina. Dame Judi Dench performs the voice of Miss Lilly, her ballet teacher.

“Camp Lakebottom” follows 12-year old boy named McGee. When McGee sets out for summer camp, but ends up on the wrong bus, he meets Squirt and Gretchen, and they end up at Camp Lakebottom. The forgotten, weird place has a lot of adventures in store for the three friends and their enemy Buttsquat.

Apple TV+ to Bow First Korean-Language Series ‘Dr. Brain’

“Dr. Brain,” a new six-episode Korean-language Apple Original series will premiere globally on Nov. 4 (Nov. 3 in the United States) on Apple TV+.

Based on the popular Korean webtoon of the same name by Hongjacga, “Dr. Brain” marks the first Korean-language series to debut on Apple TV+.

The sci-fi drama series, written, directed and executive produced by Kim Jee-woon, will premiere with the first episode, followed by one new episode weekly through Dec. 10, 2021.

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The series follows a brilliant brain scientist Sewon (Lee Sun-kyun, Parasite) who suffers a horrific personal tragedy when his family falls victim to a mysterious accident. Desperate to uncover what happened, he goes to extraordinary lengths to solve the tragic mystery by conducting “brain syncs” with the dead to access their memories for clues.

The series also stars Lee You-young, Park Hee-soon, Seo Ji-hye and Lee Jae-won.

‘Free Guy’ Scores a Fourth Win on Vudu Chart

Free Guy, from Disney-owned 20th Century Studios, for the fourth consecutive week led the chart of the 10 most popular movies on Fandango’s transactional VOD service Vudu the week ended Oct. 24.

The film, which is available for digital purchase and rental, stars Ryan Reynolds as a bank teller who discovers he is actually a background player in an open-world video game and decides to become the hero of his own story.

Taking the No. 2 spot on the chart for the second consecutive week was MGM’s animated sequel The Addams Family 2, which debuted for premium digital rental Oct. 1. In the film featuring the voices of Charlize Theron and Oscar Isaac, Morticia and Gomez are distraught that their children are growing up.

The bronze went to the young adult romantic drama After We fell, which debuted for premium digital rental and purchase.

Dropping from No. 3 to No. 4 on the chart was Universal’s Old, M. Night Shyamalan’s latest mystery. The film about beachgoers who age prematurely is available for digital purchase and rental.

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The fifth spot went to Injustice, Warner’s latest direct-to-video animated film based on DC Comics characters. It became available for digital purchase Oct. 19.

Vudu’s top 10 titles for the week ended Oct. 24, in terms of revenue, were:

  1. Free Guy
  2. The Addams Family 2
  3. After We Fell
  4. Old
  5. Injustice
  6. Jungle Cruise
  7. The Forever Purge
  8. Old Henry
  9. Respect
  10. Copshop

Redbox Completes Combo With Seaport Global to Go Public

Redbox has completed its previously announced business combination with Seaport Global Acquisition Corp., a publicly traded special purpose acquisition company. As a result of the merger, the entity will be known as “Redbox Entertainment Inc.”

Redbox’s common stock and warrants are expected to begin trading on NASDAQ on Oct. 25 under the ticker symbols “RDBX and “RDBXW,” respectively.

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“Today marks the beginning of Redbox’s next chapter,” said Galen Smith, CEO of Redbox, in a statement. “Since revolutionizing the way Americans rent movies nearly two decades ago, Redbox has continuously evolved and expanded our reach — all while offering our millions of loyal customers exceptional value in home entertainment. Today, we are building on our legacy and reaffirming our commitment to delivering a wide range of choice and convenience for consumers, as well as value for our Redbox stakeholders.

“As a public company, we plan to continue our strong momentum and accelerate our digital transformation. Through this transaction, and the incremental capital it provides, Redbox is equipped to advance our goal of creating a one stop experience that spans multiple entertainment mediums and simplifies the streaming experience. We are eager to capture the significant and growing opportunities ahead, take our business to the next level and achieve profitable growth for Redbox shareholders.”

Apple TV+ Picks Up Two More Seasons of Sitcom ‘Mythic Quest’

Apple TV+ has announced a season three and four pickup of the sitcom “Mythic Quest,” from creators Rob McElhenney, Charlie Day and Megan Ganz.

“Mythic Quest” follows the team behind the biggest multiplayer video game of all time. In addition to McElhenney, who stars as the fictional company’s creative director, Ian Grimm, the ensemble cast includes Academy Award winner F. Murray Abraham, Danny Pudi, Imani Hakim, Charlotte Nicdao, Ashly Burch, Jessie Ennis and David Hornsby, who also executive produces. Additional cast includes Naomi Ekperigin, Caitlin McGee, Humphrey Ker, Chris Naoki Lee and Jonathan Wiggs.

The series is produced for Apple TV+ by Lionsgate, 3 Arts Entertainment and Ubisoft Film & Television.

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“Just like critics and audiences all over the world, we fell in love with Rob and his team’s sharp writing and full of heart, relatable characters that make up the world of ‘Mythic Quest,’” said Matt Cherniss, head of programming for Apple TV+, in a statement. “We can’t wait for viewers to see what’s in store in the upcoming seasons of this brilliant workplace comedy.”

Basketball Story ‘Rise’ Hitting Disney+ in 2022

Rise, a Disney film based on the real life story of the Antetokounmpo basketball family, will debut on Disney+ in 2022.

The family produced the first trio of brothers to become NBA champions in the history of the league — Giannis and Thanasis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Laker Kostas Antetokounmpo. The Antetokounmpos mix Nigerian heritage, Greek nationality and extraordinary athletic ability. In Rise, audiences witness how one family’s vision, determination and faith lifted them out of obscurity to launch the career of three NBA champions — two-time MVP Giannis and his brothers, Thanasis and Kostas. Last season, Giannis and Thanasis helped bring the Bucks their first championship ring in 50 years, while Kostas played for the previous season champs, the Lakers.

After emigrating to Greece from Nigeria, Vera and Charles Antetokounmpo struggled to survive and provide for their five children, while living under the daily threat of deportation. With their oldest son still in Nigeria with relatives, the couple were desperate to obtain Greek citizenship but found themselves undermined by a system that blocked them at every turn. When they weren’t selling items to tourists on the streets of Athens with the rest of the family, encouraged by their father, the brothers would sneak away to play basketball with a local youth team. Latecomers to the sport, they discovered their great abilities on the basketball court and worked hard to become world class athletes. With the help of an agent, Giannis entered the NBA Draft in 2013 in a long shot prospect that would change not only his life but the life of his entire family.

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Newcomer Uche Agada and Ral Agada — also real-life brothers — portray young Giannis and Thanasis, with Jaden Osimuwa and Elijah Shomanke as their other two brothers, Kostas and Alex, respectively. The film stars Dayo Okeniyi (“Emperor,” “Shades of Blue”) and Yetide Badaki (“American Gods,” “This Is Us”) as their parents Charles and Vera, with Manish Dayal as Giannis’ tenacious agent Kevin and Taylor Nichols as John Hammond, general manager of the Milwaukee Bucks. Also in the cast are Maximiliano Hernandez, Eddie Cahill, Pilar Holland and McColm Kona Cephas Jr.

“I am thrilled and honored that Disney+ is bringing my family’s story to people all over the world,” said Giannis Antetokounmpo in a statement. “My hope is that it will inspire those in similar circumstances to keep the faith, stay true to their goals and not to give up on striving for a better life.”

Just as Giannis’ entering the Draft was a seminal moment for his family, Uche Agada’s being cast in Rise proved to be a seminal moment for the Agada family. Uche was working at a WaWa drive-thru in New Jersey when he saw a screenshot of an Instagram post from Giannis about a casting call for someone new and fresh to portray him in the film. Uche had to ask for time off from his job to do the series of auditions, and eventually won the role of Giannis. After being cast, he suggested that the filmmakers have his brother Ral audition for the role of Thiannis, which led to both Agada brothers portraying two of the Antekounmpo brothers in the film.

‘Home Fires,’ More ‘Walter Presents’ Series Among Titles Coming to PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel in November

The period drama “Masterpiece: Home Fires,” the Australian drama series “RFDS: Royal Flying Doctor Service” and more “Walter Presents” series are among the titles heading to the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel in November.

The subscription rate for the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel is $5.99 per month with an Amazon Prime or Prime Video subscription.

Two seasons of the series “Home Fires,” based on the novel Jambusters, start streaming Nov. 7. The series opens in August 1939. War with Germany is all but certain, and the citizens of the isolated village of Great Paxford are each facing it in their own way. Men of fighting age are mostly enlisting or waiting to be called. Some of the women are joining the female military services; others already have essential jobs, such as farming; and still others are planning to “dig for victory,” planting gardens to reduce the need for food imports. Since German submarines will be attacking merchant ships, any task that adds to the nation’s self-sufficiency is vital. Frances (Samantha Bond, “Downton Abbey”), whose husband owns a local factory, believes that the Women’s Institute has an important role to play. Joyce (Francesca Annis, “Reckless”), the longtime president of the institute, vehemently disagrees and proposes suspending activities until the war is over. So begins a quarrel that mirrors the fragmentation affecting the wider world. In Great Paxford, this crisis ends up cementing the friendships of a group of women who have their own personal troubles, but who now have a shared mission that will lead them to their finest hour.

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Eight episodes of the drama “RFDS: Royal Flying Doctor Service” start streaming Nov. 11. Based on real-life stories and filmed on location in and around Broken Hill, this series captures the beauty and brutality of Australia’s vast center where doctors, nurses, pilots and support staff of the RFDS (Royal Flying Doctor Service) negotiate the unique challenges of emergency retrievals across some of the most inhospitable places in the country. The series opens with a doctor escaping her past and joining the Royal Flying Doctor Service on a day in which a catastrophic emergency retrieval hits the team personally. Together they will deal with the fallout, while continuing their highly skilled work, fighting the clock and the elements to save people having the worst day of their lives.

Season two of “Walter Presents: The Defence” begins streaming Nov. 19. The Polish series adapted from a renowned crime-thriller novel follows the courageous and rebellious lawyer Joanna Chyłka as she fights for her clients till the bitter end. Season two sees Chyłka go head-to-head with murderers, gangsters, the police and even her own law firm.  After a double murder, Chyłka is assigned to defend the son of a well-known businessman, however he refuses to say a word to anyone.

Other titles coming to the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel in November include “Masterpiece: Dark Angel,” “The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes” seasons one and two, “Walter Presents: A Different View,” “Walter Presents: Madame K,” “Walter Presents: Sisters 1968” and “Walter Presents: The Empress.”

Premiere Digital Mounting First Title Release With Doc ‘The Wall — Climb for Gold’

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.

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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,” said Dan Kendall, executive producer for Windfall Films, 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,” said Steve Rosenberg, chief commercial officer, Premiere Digital, 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.

Deloitte Report: 84% of U.S. Consumers Spending More Time With Online, Rather Than In-Person Entertainment

The vast majority of U.S. consumers (84%) are spending more time with online, rather than in-person entertainment, according to Deloitte’s just released Digital Media Trends Fall Pulse Survey.

Meanwhile, more than 80% of U.S. respondents in the survey conducted in August 2021 said they remain concerned about COVID-19 variants, and about half (48%) said they spend more time on online entertainment versus six months ago.

Among other findings in the survey:

  • Both Boomers and Gen X still rank “watching TV shows or movies at home” as their favorite entertainment activity; “Playing video games” is still ranked as Gen Z’s preferred form of entertainment.
  • “Churn and return” behavior is most common with younger generations, with almost half of millennials (47%) and 34% of Gen Z cancelling and then re-subscribing to the same service later.
  • High cost and completing a TV show they signed up to watch are the top two reasons consumers cancelled an SVOD service.
  • 65% of consumers are engaging with at least one social media service several times a day.
  • 65% of respondents are frequent gamers, playing at least once a week; on average, these frequent gamers play for around 12 hours a week.

 

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The survey revealed that consumers are getting better at developing strategies to access online content while keeping their costs low. Among the findings:

  • 84% of respondents now pay for an SVOD service; the average household has four subscriptions — largely unchanged during the past year.
  • The churn rate — the number of people who have cancelled, or both added and cancelled, a paid SVOD service — has remained stable at about 38%, although it varies from service to service.
  • Many streaming video subscribers say they actively manage costs in some way, either by looking for deals or promotions, bundles, using friends’ or family members’ accounts, and other strategies.
  • Led by cost-sensitive and savvy millennials and Gen Zs, 65% of respondents reported using free ad-supported video services.

Bing Crosby Bio, ‘The First Silent Night’ Among Titles Streaming on PBS Living Channel in November

Bing Crosby: Rediscovered from “American Masters,” and The First Silent Night, a documentary on the Christmas carol, are coming to the PBS Living streaming channel in November.

The subscription rate for PBS Living is $2.99 per month with an Amazon Prime or Prime Video subscription. The channel is also available on Apple TV Channels in the Apple TV app at $2.99 per month with no additional fees.

American Masters — Bing Crosby: Rediscovered, which starts streaming Nov. 26, explores one of the most popular and influential multi-media stars of the first half of the 2oth century. For over three decades, through radio, film, television and records he reigned supreme. A brilliant entrepreneur, Crosby played an important role in the development of the postwar recording industry. Crosby recorded nearly 400 hit singles, an achievement only Sinatra, Elvis or the Beatles have matched. Almost 40 years after his death, he remains the most recorded performer in history. Narrated by Stanley Tucci and directed by Robert Trachtenberg, the film explores the life and legend of the iconic performer, revealing a personality far more complex than the image the public had known.

Actor Simon Callow discovers the hidden meaning of one of the most popular Christmas carols in The First Silent Night, which begins streaming Nov. 30. Callow journeys to the Austrian village of Oberndorf as well as the city of Salzburg, where the story of the world’s favorite carol originated. The First Silent Night introduces us to two impoverished children — Joseph Mohr and Franz Gruber — who grew up in Austria’s cobbled streets and wooded villages. The hard years that shaped them also destined them to meet one day in a poor country church, where they united Gruber’s music and Mohr’s text into this classic carol about the birth of a third poor boy on a quiet night in ancient Palestine.

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Also coming to the channel Nov. 30 is Ken Burns: Seeing, Searching, Being, which explores the life William Segal, the great philosopher, publisher, writer and painter. Segal searched relentlessly and compassionately for meaning in the 2oth century. He helped bring Eastern and Western spiritual traditions together, always stressing what connected humanity rather than what differentiated it. In the last decade of his life, Segal befriended the documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, and the two collaborated on this film, which focuses on Segal as he paints and discusses the creative process and the intimate personal and spiritual relationship between the artist and the work of art. This documentary also visits the painter in his studio and in a gallery as he prepares an exhibition of his lithographs. In his on-camera interviews, Segal talks about his life and the practices he uses to live in the moment, embracing all that is around him.

Also coming to the PBS Living channel in November are The Oratorio: A Documentary With Martin Scorsese, Da Ponte’s Oratorio: A Concert for New York, Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing America, Independent Lens: Storm Lake and Road Food.