Hulu Officially Launches Watch Party Feature

Hulu has officially launched the “Watch Party” feature for Hulu subscribers on Hulu.com, allowing up to eight Hulu subscribers to watch together.

After launching Hulu Watch Party through the “Watch Party” icon on each title’s Details page, viewers can share a link with up to seven other Hulu subscribers to join. Viewers must be 18 years of age or older to access the feature. While watching, group members are able to react in real-time through the chat function and control their own playback.

“Pen15” and “The Bachelorette” have been popular titles for Watch Party during the testing period, according to the service.

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Lionsgate Play SVOD Service Bows in India

Starz has launched the direct-to-consumer OTT app Lionsgate Play in India, making premium Hollywood content available in multiple Indian languages, the company announced.

The service is priced at INR 699 for a year or INR 99 per month. In India, the app will be available to download across platforms and devices including the Google Play store, Apple app store and Amazon firestick.

New content available at launch includes the Anna Kendrick starrer “Love Life,” a fresh take on a romantic comedy anthology series; “No Man’s Land,” a Syrian civil war series; and “The Goes Wrong Show,” a comedy series with each episode having a different theme, including a period romance, spy thriller, a Deep South melodrama and a Christmas fable.

Movies offerings include the Jennifer Lopez starrer Hustlers, Gerald Butler’s action thriller Angel Has Fallen, the fantasy thriller Hellboy, and the action comedy The Gentlemen, starring Matthew McConaughey, Colin Farrell and Hugh Grant.

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Starz first launched internationally with its Starzplay international premium streaming platform in 2018. This month it will expand its global footprint into 55 countries throughout Europe, Latin America, Canada, Japan and India.

“India has always been a key market for us,” Jeffrey A. Hirsch, president and CEO of Starz, said in a statement. “The large and diverse population, increased data usage in urban and rural markets, and adoption of OTT across all demographics created an exciting opportunity for us to launch Lionsgate Play. We’re confident that our unique, exclusive and exceptionally curated content will generate a great response from Indian audiences.”

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“We will also be launching Indian originals in the coming months, featuring untold edgy urban stories from some of the best creative minds in the Indian film industry,” Rohit Jain, managing director of Lionsgate South Asia, said in a statement. “And we will continue our Lionsgate Play journey by adding to our deep roster of premium content through partnerships with exciting millennial stars like Kriti Sanon, Tiger Shroff and Sanjana Sanghi increasing the breadth and scope of entertainment for our subscribers.”

Apple TV+ to Bow ‘Hedy Lamarr’ Starring Gal Gadot

“Hedy Lamarr,” an eight-episode limited series starring and executive produced by Gal Gadot (“Wonder Woman” franchise), will premiere globally on Apple TV+.

The series is written and executive produced by Golden Globe Award winner Sarah Treem (“The Affair,” “House of Cards,” “In Treatment”).

Hailed as “the most beautiful woman in the world,” Hedy Lamarr was first exalted and iconized, then destroyed and eventually forgotten by American audiences, all the while keeping her brilliant mind active through a series of inventions, one of which became the basis for the spread spectrum technology used today. The series will follow the life story of the Hollywood glamour girl, spanning 30 years from Hedy’s escape from prewar Vienna, to her meteoric rise in the Golden Age of Hollywood, to her fall and eventual disgrace at the dawn of the Cold War.

The notion for the historical drama originated from Gadot and producing partner Jaron Varsano (“My Dearest Fidel”), who then partnered with Emmy and BAFTA Award winner Warren Littlefield (“The Handmaid’s Tale”) and Treem, the latter of whom created the series, according to an Apple release.

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In addition to Gadot and Treem, “Hedy Lamarr” will be executive produced by Littlefield and Katie Robbins (“The Affair”). Gadot and Varsano will produce through their production company, Pilot Wave. Adam Haggiag (Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story) and Alexandra Dean (Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story) will serve as co-producers, with Hedy Lamarr’s children Anthony Loder and Denise Deluca consulting on the series.

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Apple TV+ is available on the Apple TV app on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod touch, Mac, select Samsung and LG smart TVs, Amazon Fire TV and Roku devices, as well as at tv.apple.com, for $4.99 per month with a seven-day free trial. The Apple TV app will be available on Sony and VIZIO smart TVs later this year, according to the release.

DC’s ‘Stargirl’ Top Rising Show, CW’s ‘Dynasty’ Top Binge on TV Time Charts

DC’s “Stargirl” was the top rising show and the CW’s “Dynasty” was the top binge on the TV Time charts for the week ended May 24.

“Stargirl,” based on the DC comics character, debuted on the DC Universe streaming service May 18 airing the following day on The CW. It follows a high school sophomore who discovers a cosmic staff.

Taking the silver on the rising chart was TNT’s “Snowpiercer,” which premiered May 17. The futuristic drama follows up on the graphic novel and the 2013 film from Bong Joon-ho (Best Picture Oscar winner Parasite). Seven years after the world becomes a frozen wasteland, the series follows the passengers of the Snowpiercer train while exploring class warfare and the politics of survival.

“Trailer Park Boys: The Animated Series,” season two of which debuted May 22 on Netflix, came in at No. 3 on the rising show chart. The Canadian animated mockumentary TV series focuses on the misadventures of a group of trailer park residents, some of whom are ex-convicts, living in the fictional Sunnyvale Trailer Park in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

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Top binge “Dynasty” is a reboot of the 1980s soap opera. It led perennial binges “Friends” and “The Office,” at Nos. 2 and 3, respectively, on the binge chart.

TV Time is a free TV viewership tracking app that tracks consumers’ viewing habits worldwide and is visited by more than 1 million consumers every day, according to the service. The weekly “Binge Report” ranks shows with the most binge sessions. A binge session is when four or more episodes of a show are watched and tracked in the app in a given day. The “Shows on the Rise” chart is calculated by determining the week-over-week growth in episodes watched for a given program. The network displayed is the network where the show first aired (e.g. “Friends” on NBC).

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 Top Binge Shows Week Ended May 24 by Share of Binges:

  1. “Dynasty” (The CW) — 2.18%
  2. “Friends” (NBC) — 1.71%
  3. “The Office” (NBC) — 1.68%
  4. “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (NBC) — 1.48%
  5. “Dead to Me” (Netflix) — 1.46%
  6. “Modern Family” (ABC) — 1.40%
  7. “Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC) — 1.32%
  8. “The 100” (The CW) — 1.31%
  9. “How to Get Away With Murder” (ABC) — 1.28%
  10. “Skam Italia” (TIMvision) — 1.24%

 

Top “Shows on the Rise” Week Ended May 24 by Rise Ratio:

  1. “Stargirl” (DC Universe) — 99.9%
  2. “Snowpiercer” (TNT) — 99.7%
  3. “Trailer Park Boys: The Animated Series” (Netflix) — 96.4%
  4. “Selling Sunset” (Netflix) — 92.4%
  5. “Homecoming” (Amazon) — 88.1%
  6. “Super Dragon Ball Heroes” (YouTube) — 79.3%
  7. “Ex on the Beach” (MTV Brazil) — 79.1%
  8. “Inhuman Resources” (Arte) — 73.5%
  9. “Dynasty” (The CW) — 70.7%
  10. “Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj” (Netflix) — 65.4%

Netflix Helping Long-Dormant Subs Cancel Service

Netflix in a blog May 21 announced it is sending emails to long-dormant subscribers asking them if they would like to cancel the service.

The emails will go to those not using the service for more than a year. If they don’t reply to the email, Netflix will automatically cancel their subscription.

“You know that sinking feeling when you realize you signed up for something but haven’t used it in ages?,” wrote Eddy Wu of product innovation. “At Netflix, the last thing we want is people paying for something they’re not using.

“So we’re asking everyone who has not watched anything on Netflix for a year since they joined to confirm they want to keep their membership. And we’ll do the same for anyone who has stopped watching for more than two years. Members will start seeing these emails or in app notifications this week. If they don’t confirm that they want to keep subscribing, we’ll automatically cancel their subscription.”

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Such inactive accounts represent less than half of 1% of Netflix’s overall member base, according to the blog, amounting to “a few hundred thousand,” and are already factored into financial guidance.

“We’ve always thought it should be easy to sign up and to cancel,” read the blog. “So, as always, anyone who cancels their account and then rejoins within 10 months will still have their favorites, profiles, viewing preferences and account details just as they left them. In the meantime, we hope this new approach saves people some hard-earned cash.”

Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt to Star in Feature ‘Ball and Chain’ for Netflix

Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt will star in the feature Ball and Chain for Netflix.

Loosely based on the 1990s comic book, the film follows a troubled married couple that receives superpowers that only work when they are together.

“Netflix is the perfect partner to deliver this epic superhero/romantic comedy experience alongside us, and we’re excited to be back in business with the Netflix team,” Dwayne Johnson, star, producer, and co-founder of Seven Bucks Productions, said in a statement. “I’m also excited to not only reunite with dear friend Emily Blunt in front of the camera, but to also collaborate as producing partners as we bring Emily V. Gordon’s script to life.”

Johnson and Blunt co-star in Disney’s Jungle Cruise, which will be released next summer.

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“We’re thrilled to continue the evolution of our partnership with Netflix and welcome Ball and Chain into the Seven Bucks universe,” Dany Garcia, producer on the film and co-founder of Seven Bucks Productions, said in a statement. “Our Netflix partnership is rooted in our mutual understanding that investing in the right stories with universal appeal is our number one priority. The incomparable chemistry of our leads and powerful storytelling elements will ignite fans across the globe. We can’t wait to bring this electric story to life.”

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“Dwayne and Emily have a chemistry together that is unmatched in our business right now,” Scott Stuber, head of Netflix film, said in a statement. “They are the perfect duo to bring Emily V. Gordon’s electric superhero story to life, and take the world of Ball and Chain to new heights. We couldn’t be happier to be in business with Emily Blunt, as well as continue our relationship with Dwayne, Seven Bucks and Kevin Misher.”

Reese Witherspoon to Star in Pair of Rom-Coms for Netflix

Netflix has reached an agreement with Reese Witherspoon and her company Hello Sunshine to produce two romantic comedy features starring Witherspoon.

Your Place or Mine is based on an original script from Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”), who will be making her feature directorial debut. Jason Bateman and Michael Costigan will produce the film through Aggregate Films, as part of their first-look deal with Netflix, alongside Witherspoon and Lauren Neustadter for Hello Sunshine and McKenna for Lean Machine. The story follows two long-distance best friends who change each other’s lives when she decides to pursue a lifelong dream and he volunteers to keep an eye on her teenage son.

The Cactus is based on Sarah Haywood’s New York Times bestselling novel of the same name and was Witherspoon’s Book Club pick in June 2019. Witherspoon and Neustadter will produce for Hello Sunshine. In the story, an unexpected pregnancy at 45 causes a reserved woman to rethink the structured life she has created for herself and leads her on an unconventional journey toward love, family and learning to embrace the unexpected.

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“We have been looking for the right feature opportunities to collaborate with Ted Sarandos, Scott Stuber and the entire team at Netflix for a while and we couldn’t be more excited to be working with them on these two romantic comedies,” said Witherspoon in a statement. “Both Sarah Haywood’s and Aline Brosh McKenna’s stories blend everything we love about traditional rom-coms with strong, smart and determined female leads. “

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“Jason and I are thrilled to be producing Aline’s feature directorial debut with our great friends and partners at Netflix, and with a giant talent and friend like Reese and Hello Sunshine,” Michael Costigan said in a statement on behalf of Aggregate Films. “This is the perfect home for our movie, and with the ideal creative partners to be making a sophisticated and very contemporary romantic comedy that we believe global audiences will be excited to see.”

“We are thrilled to work alongside our long-standing partners and friends, Jason and Michael at Aggregate on Your Place or Mine,” said Scott Stuber, head of Netflix Films, in a statement. “They brought us this brilliantly funny romantic comedy from Aline that we immediately fell in love with and can’t wait to work with the Aggregate and Hello Sunshine teams on bringing it to life.

“Reese and her team at Hello Sunshine have made a tremendous mark on the industry and we’re excited to have found two terrific projects to collaborate with them on.”

“I’m the hugest Reese Witherspoon fan on earth, not just of her immense talents as an actor but also her producing skills,” said Brosh McKenna in a statement. “I couldn’t be more excited to direct this movie for Netflix, working alongside Aggregate and Hello Sunshine.”

HBO Max Reveals More Coming Content

HBO Max has revealed the second slate of Max Originals available to viewers after the streamer’s May 27 launch.

The next wave of titles coming to the platform begins June 18 with the debut of the entire first season of the unscripted kids adventure competition series “Karma,” led by YouTube host Michelle Khare.

June 25 HBO Max will premiere an original second season of DC Universe’s “Doom Patrol”an original second season of Sesame Workshop’s animated series “Esme & Roy,” taking preschoolers on learning adventures through Monsterdalea brand new third season of the comedy thriller “Search Party” (the first two seasons will be available on the platform at launch May 27); and Adventure Time: Distant Lands — BMO, the first of four hourlong specials resurrecting the Emmy and Peabody award-winning franchise “Adventure Time.”

July 9 is the premiere of the three-part documentary series Expecting Amy, an unfiltered and intimate view into comedian Amy Schumer’s life on tour creating a stand-up special during her difficult pregnancy, and the adult animated comedy “Close Enough,” a look at the surreal life of a millennial family living with roommates, from J.G. Quintel, creator of the Emmy-winning “Regular Show.”

July 16 comes the multi-generational family docusoap “The House of Ho.”

July 23 HBO Max will debut Cartoon Network Studios’ animated children’s series “Tig n’ Seek,” following 8-year-old Tiggy and his gadget-building cat Gweeseek.

July 30 HBO Max presents the U.S. premieres of the scripted comedy “Frayed,” which follows a wealthy Londoner as she travels back to the Australian home she escaped as a teenand the unscripted British animal rescue series “The Dog House.”

Aug. 6 Seth Rogen’s comedy feature An American Pickle will have its world premiere as the first HBO Max original film on the platform under the Warner Max label.

“Shortly after the initial launch our monthly strategy kicks in, as we introduce great new originals every month throughout the year,” said Kevin Reilly, chief content officer, HBO Max, and president, TNT, TBS and truTV, in a statement.

“We want to provide audiences with a wide-ranging and consistent flow of high-quality programming across all genres,” added Sarah Aubrey, head of original content, HBO Max, in a statement. “From scripted series and intimate documentaries, to premium animation for kids and adults, to feature length films from teams at the top of their game, our creators bring it all, each with their own unique take, building a slate of originals that is nothing short of amazing.”

These new titles will join the previously announced day one Max Originals “Love Life,” a scripted comedy starring Anna Kendrick; Sundance 2020 Official Selection feature documentary On the Record; underground ballroom dance competition series “Legendary”; “Craftopia,” hosted by YouTube’s LaurDIY; the new “Looney Tunes Cartoons” from Warner Bros. Animation; and Sesame Workshop’s “The Not Too Late Show with Elmo.”

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HBO’s summer premieres will be also available on the platform as they debut on HBO, including I May Destroy You, executive produced, written by, and starring Michaela Coel on June 7; the 1930s Los Angeles drama “Perry Mason,” starring Matthew Rhys on June 21; the six-part documentary series I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, based on the best-selling book by Michelle McNamara on June 28; the fourth season of the anthology series “Room 104” airing July 24; and from Misha Green and executive producers Jordan Peele and J.J. Abrams, the drama series “Lovecraft Country,” airing on HBO this August.

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Newly announced library series available at launch include TNT’s Emmy Award-winning “The Alienist,” the first four seasons of truTV’s “Impractical Jokers” and Adult Swim’s “Robot Chicken.” Additionally, HBO Max has confirmed that as part of its previously announced deal with BBC Studios, shows available on day one will also include the U.S. premieres of “Trigonometry,” a love story about three people who are made for each other; the comedy “Ghosts,” about a group of former inhabitants who haunt a country mansion; “Home,” following an average family and the refugee who escapes in the boot of their car; and the comedy Stath Lets Flats where a rubbish lettings agent aims to take over the family business in North London. At launch, HBO Max will also offer BBC Studios titles including the “Doctor Who” spin-off Torchwood; “Luther,” starring Idris Elba; the nine-part miniseries The Honorable Woman; Ricky Gervais’ original mockumentary “The Office”; and seasons 17-25 of the hit car show “Top Gear.” Additionally, HBO Max will become the home of Stage 13’s series “Independent,” following the lives of four independent hip-hop artists; “Lipstick Empire,” telling the story of the founders of Melt Cosmetics; the horror-comedy feature film Snatchers, an official selection at the 2019 SXSW Film Festival; and the world premiere of “Happily Ever Avatar,” a series following three young couples who find love through playing a video game produced in partnership with Magical Elves.

Adding to the previously announced launch slate of feature films acquired for the platform, HBO Max will offer on day one titles such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, An American in ParisBlade Runner: The Final Cut, Blood DiamondBraveheartCitizen Kane, Friday the 13thGodzilla, Gone with the Wind, the Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night, the Lethal Weapon series, Monsters Vs. Aliens, the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, North by Northwest, Rebel without a CauseSingin’ in the Rain, The Sisterhood of the Traveling PantsTransformers: Revenge of the Fallen and V for Vendetta. HBO Max will also launch with titles via the HBO service including fan favorites such as the original Alien franchise, the American Pie series, AnastasiaBabeDie HardThe Flintstones, In BrugesThe Indian in the CupboardJawsThe Land Before Time series, Moulin Rouge!, and Teen Witch.

‘Solar Opposites’ Most-Watched Hulu Original Comedy Premiere to Date

The new Hulu Original adult animation series “Solar Opposites” is the most-watched Hulu Original comedy premiere to date and became the No. 1 SVOD title on the service since launching May 8, according to a Hulu release.

The series was the No. 2 most-watched title on Hulu throughout the entire seven-day week ended May 9, after only being on the service for two of those days. “Solar Opposites” was also Hulu’s most-watched adult animation title over the weekend.

Co-created by Justin Roiland (“Rick & Morty”) and Mike McMahan (producer “Rick & Morty,””Star Trek: Lower Decks”), “Solar Opposites” centers around a team of four aliens escaping their exploding home world, only to crash land into a move-in ready home in suburban America.

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Additional highlights, according to the service:

  • Fans of “Solar Opposites” devoured the full season over the weekend — more than 40% of viewers who started the series binged all eight episodes within two days of launching.
  • “Solar Opposites” has been certified Fresh with a 96% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes.
  • More than half of Hulu subscribers have watched adult animation over the last year and nearly 40% of Hulu viewers watch adult animation every month.

MoviePass to Shut Down Sept. 14

Subscription theatrical movie service MoviePass will shut down Sept. 14 at 8 a.m. (EST), according to a letter from CEO Mitch Lowe on the site.

“Over the past several months, MoviePass worked hard to relaunch its groundbreaking subscription service and recapitalize the company,” he wrote. “While we were able to relaunch the service for some of our subscribers with an improved technology platform, our efforts to recapitalize the company have not been successful to date.”

He wrote that subscriptions will be refunded.

“MoviePass will be providing subscribers with appropriate refunds for their period of service already paid for,” he wrote. “Subscribers will not need to request a refund or contact MoviePass customer service to receive a refund. Subscribers will not be charged during the service interruption.”

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The future of the service remains uncertain, according to the letter.

“At this point, we are unable to predict if or when the MoviePass service will continue,” Lowe wrote.

Owned and operated by Helios Matheson Analytics, the service at its peak generated more than 3 million subscribers paying $9.95 for daily access to theatrical releases.