Documentary on Erotic Thriller Home Video Genre Acquired by Yellow Veil Pictures

A documentary on one of the hallmarks of the early home video era — the erotic thriller — has been acquired by Yellow Veil Pictures ahead of its world premiere at the Overlook Film Festival in New Orleans, which opens March 30.

Anthony Penta

We Kill for Love — written, produced and directed by Anthony Penta — is slated for domestic release later this year, with an international sales launch at the upcoming Marche Du Film in May.

The film also will get a DVD and Blu-ray Disc release later in the year.

We Kill For Love chronicles the birth and development of the erotic thriller genre, which soared to popularity in the early 1990s and revitalized the videocassette rental business prior to the launch of DVD. Erotic thrillers combined bodily pleasure with danger, and while some films, such as 1987’s Fatal Attraction and 1992’s Basic Instinct, were box office successes, most erotic thrillers were produced and released exclusively to the home video market by such companies as Prism Entertainment and Academy Home Entertainment.

We Kill for Love is part film essay, part documentary, and part casefile,” Penta said. “It’s a record of my prolonged investigation into a forgotten but once lucrative film movement — the direct-to-video erotic thriller — as well as a fantasia on its themes. For six years I tracked down the prime suspects of these films and I recorded their stories. I traveled the country to interview the academics and film writers whose books and articles explored its mysteries. I’m very happy to be partnering with Yellow Veil Pictures on the release of this film, and I’m sure it will serve as a permanent monument to not only a lost film subgenre, but a bygone era of American cinema.”

Joe Yanick, co-founder of Yellow Veil Pictures, added, “We Kill For Love is a home run for erotic thriller fans. It’s one of the most in-depth looks at genre cinema and serves as more than just a love letter but pushes the conversation and spotlights films that have often lost out to their more glamorous theatrical counterparts.”

The film stars filmmakers Andrew Stevens, Jim Wynorski, and Fred Olen Ray; film stars Monique Parent, Amy Lindsay, and Kira Reed Lorsch; film scholars Linda Ruth Williams and Abbey Bender; and others. Media Play News publisher and editorial director Thomas K. Arnold also was interviewed for the film.

A World Without Retailers

Home entertainment retailing is on the ropes.

The buzz phrase of the moment is “direct to consumer.” Streaming keeps gobbling up more and more consumer home entertainment dollars — more than 80%, according to the latest DEG numbers, for the first quarter of this year. And while transactional spending appears to be holding up, disc sales remain in a freefall, with the latest quarterly spending reporting showing consumer purchases of DVDs, Blu-ray Discs and 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays accounted for less than 5% of total home entertainment spending.

No wonder, then, that big retailers like Best Buy and Walmart are cutting back on their physical media sections. I shudder to think what the end result of all this may be — will there come a day when physical media is gone completely from the major retailers, and if we want to buy a DVD or Blu-ray Disc we need to go to a studio website or that grand e-commerce aggregator, Amazon.com?

To me, at least, that’s a chilling thought. I’ve always enjoyed the retail experience — the searching, the discovery — from the time I was a teen eagerly browsing the cut-out bins at Tower Records, The Wherehouse and Licorice Pizza (the store, not the movie) to the more recent days of Suncoast and the Virgin Megastore, with vast inventories of what seemed to be every movie ever made.

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Maybe that’s why a few years ago, I resurrected my vinyl record albums, bought a new turntable and had Chuck Berry (my sound man, not the late rock pioneer) hook everything up to my home theater system. I regularly visit used record stores and also spend at least an hour a day on Discogs and/or eBay. The philosophical question I ask myself is this: Do I visit these stores because I am a record collector, or am I a record collector so I can visit these stores and once again enjoy the retail experience?

Hard to say.

I will say that I enjoy Netflix as much as anyone, with Discovery+ a close second. But there’s so much good stuff out there that isn’t on any of the streaming services that I regularly visit digital retailers such as Vudu and Redbox On Demand to check out what else is available. And I truly wish there was at least one big disc store with thousands of different titles — not just to buy, but also to browse and maybe get acquainted with something I ordinarily would never have thought about, or even known about.

But, alas, there isn’t any such store, at least not near my home.

I understand the concept behind, and benefits of, direct-to-consumer sales. The lack of a middle man means higher profits for the brand, and, hopefully, lower prices for the consumer. But as a consumer, I feel as though I have lost something — the joys of search and discovery, which I can still do online at the handful of third-party digital retailers that are bucking the DTC trend, but even that’s not nearly as gratifying as searching and discovering new movies and shows in a physical environment.

I fear there’s also an element of self-fulfilling prophecy. As physical media sections shrink, the lack of choice leads to even less business — which, in turn, leads to even smaller sections.

I sincerely hope we never get to the proverbial point of no return — although, in a way, we are already there.

Exclusive Podcast: Streaming’s Three Pain Points

Tune in for an exclusive Media Play News podcast on the future of streaming platforms and how they can best utilize viewer data to develop content that leads to growth. Join Whip Media Group’s Eric Steinberg, Media Research and Insights Lead, and Accenture Media and Entertainment Lead John Peters, as they talk with MPN publisher and editorial director Thomas K. Arnold about streaming’s three “pain points” and how they can be overcome.

‘Media Play News’ to Celebrate 25 Years of Digital Entertainment

To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the U.S. launch of DVD, Media Play News is producing a special project celebrating DVD’s legacy and chronicling the digital revolution in entertainment that it triggered.

“Without DVD, there would be no digital delivery of movies, no streaming, no Netflix,” said Media Play News publisher and editorial director Thomas K. Arnold. “DVD was not just the most successful consumer electronics product launch in history, but it also led to the mass digitization of content, particularly on the library side, which opened the door to every avenue of digital delivery we have today, including streaming.

“And let’s not forget that Netflix began life as a DVD-by-mail rental service.”

The project, “25 Years of Digital Entertainment,” will consist of a detailed chronology that will be split between March and April issues of Media Play News, and feature exclusive interviews with such key players as Warren Lieberfarb, the father of DVD, and Bob Chapek, CEO of The Walt Disney Co.

“25 Years of Digital Entertainment, Part 1: The Disc That Changed the World” will focus on the development, launch and subsequent success of DVD as well as its two successor formats, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD.

“25 Years of Digital Entertainment, Part 2: The Digital Stream” will chronicle the history of digital distribution, from its cable pay-per-view roots to the first attempts to deliver video-on-demand by the telcos right up to the present surge in subscription streaming.

Media Play News also is producing a series of podcasts that will be available on Spotify, Apple and other leading platforms, as well as a commemorative book.

In addition, essays by industry leaders reflecting on the DVD launch and its legacy will be published online throughout March and April and also will be included in the book.

Looking Back: 2011 – Slow Recovery From the Recession

Ten years ago, home entertainment executives were more upbeat than they had been in years. The business posted its first positive quarter since the start of the 2008 global economic meltdown. With a 20% year-over-year sales gain, Blu-ray Disc was rejuvenating the physical disc business, while 3D Blu-ray was the talk of CES. And studio marketers were enthralled with the prospect of digital distribution, with a consortium of studios and other companies launching UltraViolet, a cloud-based “digital locker” that lets consumers stream and download purchased content to multiple platforms and devices. David Bishop, at the time president of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, called UltraViolet “a major game changer.” The nascent streaming business, meanwhile, stumbled when Starz Entertainment ended content license renegotiations with Netflix, which meant the service would soon lose access to Disney and Sony Pictures movies.

A Message to Our Readers for 2020

As we put a wrap on 2019, I want to send my thanks to all of our loyal readers for your support of Media Play News — and our mission to cover the at-home and direct-to-consumer sector of the entertainment business, from transactional to streaming.

Thanks to you — and, of course, to our team of editors, writers, and designers — our online readership has nearly doubled over the last year. Comparing November 2019 to November 2018, our unique visitor count was up 85%, while our total monthly visits rose 99%, according to our hosting service, Haus Interactive.

Our monthly print and digital magazine, meanwhile, continues to serve as a curated collection of the month’s biggest stories — and an archival record of a business that remains resilient and vibrant more than 40 years after it was birthed by Andre Blay and a collection of 50 leased titles from Fox that he issued on videocassette.

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Two years ago, we set out to redefine the concept of home entertainment, broadening the definition to include any filmed content available for on-demand viewing by the consumer — regardless of whether it was bought or rented on Blu-ray Disc, DVD or digital, or streamed via Netflix, Amazon or Hulu.

Since then, the disc market has been revitalized by 4K Ultra HD. Digital distribution has posted impressive growth numbers as consumers realize the latest theatrical blockbusters simply aren’t available on Netflix. And the subscription streaming market, which Netflix pioneered more than a decade ago, this year saw the launch of two other high-profile services, Disney+ and Apple TV+ — with more on the way in 2020.

Mega-mergers saw AT&T buy Warner Bros. and Disney purchase, and then absorb, the venerable 20th Century Fox film studio.

And original content, made expressly for the small screen that is the focus of Media Play News’ coverage, was the darling of the year, with Apple TV+ earning Golden Globe nominations out of the gate and Redbox launching a new content acquisition and production division to further its transformation into a multi-channel content provider and programmer.

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Here at Media Play News, we scored a number of high points. Our Fast Forward awards honored four key digital retailers at a sold-out luncheon. Our second annual Women in Home Entertainment issue shone the spotlight one some of the brightest minds in our business, from Andrea Downing of PBS to Netflix’s Cindy Holland. Our 40 Under 40 issue, also in its second year, gave well-deserved recognition to the leaders of tomorrow. And at the end of summer we brought onboard a razor-sharp social media marketer and our Instagram posts are now generating hundreds, if not thousands, of likes.

I wish you all a prosperous, healthy and happy new year — and, again, thanks for your support.

Sincerely,

Thomas K. Arnold, Publisher and Editorial Director, Media Play News

Media Play News Fast Forward 2019 Awards Luncheon

Media Play News honored four digital retailers with the publication’s second annual Fast Forward Awards for driving the home entertainment industry forward. This year’s awards included a luncheon and ceremony, held April 4 at the Universal Hilton in Universal City, Calif., and hosted by the Entertainment Merchants Association. Awards went to Cameron Douglas of FandangoNow, Jonathan Zepp of Google Play Movies & TV, and Galen Smith of Redbox, and the team at Apple iTunes. EMA used the event to launch its EMA Leadership Development Foundation, aimed at supporting professional training and development within the home entertainment industry, and particularly within the EMA membership.

A Message to Our Readers

As another year comes to an end, I’d like to say thank you to our readers and our advertisers for making us a part of your professional lives. Media Play News is coming off a very successful first year. We began the year with a new company, name, brand, website, newsletter, and production and art staff.

All that we carried over from our previous property were five staffers and the determination to do everything we did before, only more of it, and better.

We also set out to redefine the concept of home entertainment, broadening the definition to include any filmed content brought into the home, on demand — regardless of whether it was bought or rented on Blu-ray Disc, DVD or digital, or streamed via Netflix, Amazon or Hulu.

We went live with our website and daily newsletter on Jan. 2, 2018, and our first monthly magazine was available in print and digital editions on Jan. 29. The website was built from the ground up using a responsive web design. Largely because of this, on Feb. 3 MediaPlayNews.com was OK’d for pickup by Google News. The print magazine, too, was improved, with a heavier paper stock and a higher gloss finish. And our daily newsletter, which used to include three to five stories daily, typically has as many as nine or 10, or even more.

That first month, we had 17,105 unique visitors, about half what Home Media Magazine had in its peak. By April, that number had grown to 62,257, with more than half visiting our site on their phones or other mobile devices. Our peak of 266,061 was in July, when Comic-Con hit.

Social media outreach has certainly helped us increase our readership. From the time we launched Media Play News, we have made it a point to write stories about as many product releases as we can, and then push out these stories on Facebook and on Twitter. On Twitter, we use appropriate hashtags as well as @twittername of key cast members and other creatives as well as fan groups. Since Oct. 1, we also have employed the same approach with Instagram.

We employ the same social media strategy with our various “chart” stories, and we’re starting to get quite a bit of attention from stars and other creatives — including Tyler Perry, who posted a link to one of our stories about the weekly Redbox charts to his Facebook page. That brought us over 119,000 unique visitors in a matter of hours.

In 2019, we plan on doubling down on efforts in the digital space. We intend to enhance our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram efforts and start issuing Instagram stories as well as venture into Snapchat. We also plan on allocating more money toward paid promotions.

We also would like to launch a vibrant and compelling YouTube channel, bringing on talent to film a weekly “new on disc and digital” episode each week, ideally with snippets of trailers and conversations about the biggest or most notable product releases. We would like to do the same with our three chart stories.

We also intend to host trailers on our site and each week will issue “editor’s picks” highlighting the top new releases.

Home entertainment remains a truly remarkable business, and we’re proud to be a part of it.

Digital Hollywood Panelists Ponder Future of Skinny Bundles, Digital Delivery

Skinny bundles and virtual MVPDs are an imperfect solution to the desire of consumers to get the content they want at the price they want, while an a la carte online delivery system that perfectly satisfies consumers’ desires has yet to be fully realized.

That was the consensus of panelists at the “Internet TV Packages” panel at the Digital Hollywood conference Oct. 18 in Los Angeles.

“The consumer cares about two things, value and choice,” noted panelist Thomas K. Arnold, publisher of Media Play News. While choice has expanded over the years from only a few networks to an array of cable channels to videocassettes and discs and digital delivery, finding content is getting more complicated.

“The important thing here is curation. The old manual curation by networks is going away,” said panelist and consultant Robin Wilson, director, RW TV. He said the future is one in which consumers can “self-curate” content or in which curation is automated.

While some pundits say only younger consumers are peeling away from traditional viewing, even Baby Boomers, still working and facing a time crunch, are also moving away from appointment TV, said panelist Josette Bonte, managing director, Digital Content Strategies.

“There is definitely a problem to be solved by the industry,” she said. “I would like to have my own skinny bundle.”

“Current skinny bundles are just a patch up job,” Wilson added.

“It’s the same problem that’s always been the problem,” Arnold noted. “These internet services, they’re great for service, but bad for discovery.”

Consumers who are watching subscription services have a hard time breaking out of that silo, Arnold said.

“Your likely going to stay on Netflix or Amazon after watching a show,” he said.

To truly curate your own content can be difficult, he said, noting that his family had to “piece together our own skinny bundle” from offerings on Netflix, Amazon and Hulu to watch an entire series of a show they loved.

He predicted that consumers in the future would be paying more for entertainment but in smaller increments, comparing it to gym memberships that have retained consumers by offering ultra-low prices.

“At $10 a month, people are going to get them all [even niche OTT subscription offerings],” he said. “At $10 a month you’re not going to really notice it.”

Bonte said niche SVOD services “definitely have the chance to complement the bundles.”

Technology — perhaps from Google, Amazon or Roku — will overcome the difficulties of getting to different apps and online services to get content, panelists said.

“The idea of switching from HDMI 1 to HDMI 2 will be as archaic as rewinding the videocassette,” Arnold said.

Device integration with artificial intelligence will also assist in content discovery, Bonte said.

Panelists also pondered the growing competition in the SVOD market led by Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, soon to be joined by Disney and WarnerMedia — and the data from SVOD services that is informing what content consumers are fed.

Netflix is “definitely good at use of data” to determine content, Bonte noted. It’s an advantage for the company, Wilson added.

Netflix knows a lot about what consumers are watching, but “they won’t tell us,” Arnold said, adding that research company Parrot Analytics is using social media and other measurements to try to estimate the popularity of SVOD original programs.

One audience member noted that Netflix’s recommendation engine is less than perfect, causing her frustration as it served up the same type of content over and over.

Data targeting with ads, too, needs improving, Wilson noted. The ads served up should be more efficient, “not bombarding” the consumer.

One audience member noted that Rotten Tomatoes, which calculates content ratings based on human reviewers, is one of the most popular content recommendation sites online.

Newfangled content delivery technologies have a way to go, Arnold noted. “People who talk about artificial intelligence forget that first word, artificial,” he said.

Speaking at Digital Hollywood on Oct. 18 were, from left, moderator Patrick Redmond; Media Play News publisher and editorial director Thomas K. Arnold; and consultants Josette Bonte and Robin Wilson.

Seventh Annual Los Angeles Entertainment Summit Opens Tomorrow

The seventh annual Los Angeles Entertainment Summit opens tomorrow (Tuesday, July 16) with a focus on independent product, both physical and digital, as well as the booming OTT marketplace.

The trade show, produced by the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA), runs for two days at the Loews Hollywood Hotel in Hollywood, Calif.

The 2018 Los Angeles Entertainment Summit is centered on one-on-one business meetings between independent content providers and retailers and streaming services, the EMA said back in May, when the event’s dates were announced.

The summit also features the  first-ever OTT Channels conference – a day of research presentations, sessions with industry thought leaders, and an exploration of opportunities in subscription video on demand and ad-supported video on demand.

LAES continues to provide an opportunity for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF) to raise funds.

The event opens July 17 with a morning welcome session, featuring a CFF update from LAES co-chair Mark Horak and an EMA update from Mark Fisher, the association’s president and CEO.

Then comes a research super-session moderated by Media Play News publisher Thomas K. Arnold, featuring research presentations by GfK Entertainment, IHS Markit, Nielsen and the NPD Group.

Next is a spotlight presentation from Tobias Queesser, cofounder of Cinelytic.

Bill Sondheim, president of the Cinedigm Entertainment Group, will deliver the keynote address at 9:30 a.m., followed by the Independent Studio Home Entertainment Awards.

The OTT Channels conference will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with a lineup of speakers and panelists assembled by conference chair Erick Opeka, EVP of digital networks at Cinedigm Corp.

And from 4 to 6 p.m., the Digital EMA Forum will bring together digital retailers, studios, independent content providers, and service providers to hear the latest research on digital home entertainment and discover how retailers and content providers are streamlining the digital supply chain through common practices.

The day ends with a cocktail party sponsored by FandangoNOW.

Day two of LAES, Wednesday, July 18, is devoted to business meetings and a networking lunch.