Mill Creek Launches Low-Cost Transactional Digital Service movieSpree

Independent home entertainment distributor Mill Creek Entertainment has launched low-cost transactional purchase streaming service movieSpree.

The service’s app is now available on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Android devices, and movieSpree has no long-term contracts, subscription fees or advertisements.

Offering more than 2,500 hours of entertainment, movieSpree features catalog film and TV bundles, genre-based collections and specially curated compilations, including such titles as Lonesome Dove, The 10th Kingdom, “The Kids in the Hall,” “Documentary Now!,” Benji and Gone in 60 Seconds.

Purchase prices range from 99 cents to $29.99 depending on content. For instance, the entire “Kids in the Hall” series is available for $14.99.

All users of the new service will receive an offer to redeem 100 free movies to be added to their library.

“The establishment of movieSpree is an important growth opportunity for us,” said Patrick McDonough, EVP of sales and marketing for Mill Creek, in a statement. “As the content distribution model shifts to a direct-to-consumer strategy, building our own streaming service allows us to connect to our customers and showcase our entertainment offerings in a meaningful and targeted way.”

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Many of Mill Creek Entertainment’s DVD and Blu-ray releases include digital redemption offers allowing consumers to add to their movieSpree library, according to the company.

Content can be streamed from the movieSpree apps and website using a phone, tablet, laptop or supported OTT devices. The service also features exclusive content and offers that do not have a DVD or Blu-ray counterpart or availability on other streaming platforms, according to Mill Creek.

Mill Creek collaborated with OTT content distribution provider ViewLift on the new service.

“The ViewLift team is thrilled to partner with Mill Creek Entertainment to launch movieSpree,” said ViewLift president Manik Bambha in a statement. “Our alliance showcases the robust features and functionality of a backend system developed by the ViewLift team. ViewLift’s monetization and distribution expertise launched movieSpree, which will help cinephiles watch movies they love and introduce new viewers to great films.”

Fandango Survey: Fans Plan to Stream Marvel Titles to Prepare for ‘Endgame’

Moviegoers preparing for the theatrical release of Avengers: Endgame April 26 plan to stream previous Marvel Cinematic Universe titles, according to a Fandango survey.

In the survey, 89% said they are getting ready for Endgame by streaming previous Marvel Cinematic Universe movies with friends and family at home, while 49% of millennials said they are planning a full-on Marvel movie binge this weekend.

FandangoNow, Fandango’s transactional VOD service, has seen a nearly 50% increase in transactions for Marvel Cinematic Universe movies in the past two weeks, since Avengers: Endgame advance tickets went on sale April 2, according to Fandango. FandangoNow is launching a weekend sale on select Marvel movie titles. April 18-22 fans can purchase select MCU movies on FandangoNow for $9.99 in HD and $14.99 in Ultra HD, including Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, Ant-Man and the Wasp and Thor: Ragnarok.

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According to the Fandango survey, the top five MCU titles fans plan to watch are:

  1.  Avengers: Infinity War
  2.  The Avengers 
  3.  Captain America: Civil War 
  4.  Avengers: Age of Ultron
  5.  Thor: Ragnarok

To date Avengers: Endgame is Fandango’s top pre-seller at the same point in the sales cycle.

“The countdown has started and we’re super-excited with only one week to go until ‘Avengers: Endgame’ opens in theaters,” said Fandango managing editor Erik Davis in a statement. “Fans are getting ready for the film’s debut by re-watching previous MCU titles or introducing ‘newbies,’ friends and family members to the titles they need to see to get up-to-date.”

In an exclusive interview with Davis, Endgame co-director Anthony Russo said that Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War are the two films that would be most helpful for fans to view as lead-ins before seeing Endgame.

Fandango VIP Presale Buyers of Ch. 3 Can Get Free Copy of a Previous ‘John Wick’ Film on FandangoNow

Fandango VIP members can get a copy of either of the first two “John Wick” movies when they buy advance tickets for John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum on Fandango.

Presales are April 15-17 for Fandango’s VIP advance tickets for the third installment of Keanu Reeves’ neo-noir action franchise.

Fans who purchase Chapter 3 tickets through their Fandango VIP accounts can get a free SD or HD copy of John Wick or John Wick: Chapter 2 on FandangoNOW, Fandango’s transactional video streaming service.

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Members of Fandango VIP, Fandango’s free-to-join rewards program for movie-ticket buyers, can get insider perks such as discounted movies to stream at home, exclusive movie gear, and access to advance screenings.

FandangoNow Offers Binge Bundle on Ferrell-Reilly Films

FandangoNow has released a new “Binge Bundle” of three films featuring Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly.

FandangoNow is movie ticketing site Fandango’s transactional video-on-demand service.

Holmes & Watson, Step Brothers and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby are available to rent or own in a bundle starting at $9.99 to rent or $19.99 to own. The films are available in 4K.

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Paramount’s ‘Bumblebee’ Shoots to Top of FandangoNow Chart

Paramount’s Bumblebee fought its way to No. 1 on FandangoNow’s chart of top movies for digital rental and purchase for the week ended March 24.

FandangoNow is movie site Fandango’s transactional VOD service.

The “Transformers” franchise reboot, which earned $127.2 million in theaters, stars Hailee Steinfeld in an origin story about the Autobot warrior Bumblebee. It debuted on digital March 19.

Warner took the second spot on the FandangoNow chart with another new digital release, the Clint Eastwood starrer The Mule, about a broke man in his 80s who unwittingly signs on as a drug courier.

The studio also managed a third-place finish with Aquaman, which sank two spots after two weeks at No. 1. The DC Comics superhero feature earned $334.8 million at the box office.

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Sony’s Best Animated Feature Oscar winner Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse hung in at No. 4 for another week, while Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns, which stars Emily Blunt, remained in the fifth spot.

The top films to purchase and/or rent on FandangoNow for the week ended March 24 were:

  1. Bumblebee — Paramount
  2. The Mule — Warner
  3. Aquaman — Warner
  4. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse — Sony
  5. Mary Poppins Returns — Disney
  6. A Star Is Born (2018) — Warner
  7. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald — Warner
  8. Green Book — Universal
  9. Instant Family — Paramount
  10. Creed II — Warner

 

Fandango is celebrating the upcoming April 2 digital release of Glass by hosting an exclusive clip featuring scenes from the film and an interview with the film’s star James McAvoy and director M. Night Shyamalan across its various channels.

‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ Swings to Top of Both Redbox Charts

Sony’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse swung to the top of both Redbox charts for the week ended March 24.

The animated superhero film, which won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, took the No. 1 spot on both the Redbox kiosk chart, which tracks DVD and Blu-ray Disc rentals at the company’s more than 40,000 red vending machines, and the Redbox On Demand chart, which tracks transactional video-on-demand (TVOD), both electronic sellthrough (EST) and streaming. The Sony release was new-to-disc for the week, streeting March 19.

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One other new release entered the disc chart for the week, Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns, which floated in at No. 5. The reboot of the Disney classic, starring Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda, earned $171.8 million in theaters.

On the digital side, coming in at No. 2 for the week was Warner’s superhero epic Aquaman, which earned $334.8 million at the box office.

Paramount’s Instant Family, a comedy starring Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne, held strong on both charts, finishing in the same spot at No. 3 on the disc chart and dropping just one spot from No. 2 to No. 3 on the digital chart.

Emerging on the digital chart at No. 10 was A Simple Favor, a comedy starring Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively, which was released late last year.

Top DVD and Blu-ray Disc Rentals, Redbox Kiosks, Week Ended March 24:

  1. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (New) — Sony
  2. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald — Warner
  3. Instant Family— Paramount
  4. Green Book— Universal
  5. Mary Poppins Returns (New) — Disney
  6. Mortal Engines— Universal
  7. Creed II — Warner
  8. Ralph Breaks the Internet— Disney
  9. A Star Is Born(2018)— Warner
  10. Bohemian Rhapsody — Fox

 

Top Digital, Redbox On Demand, Week Ended March 24:

  1. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse — Sony
  2. Aquaman— Warner
  3. Instant Family— Paramount
  4. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald— Warner
  5. Green Book— Universal
  6. A Star Is Born(2018)— Warner
  7. Mortal Engines— Universal
  8. Creed II — Warner
  9. Bohemian Rhapsody — Fox
  10. A Simple Favor — Lionsgate

Warner’s ‘A Star Is Born’ Shoots to No. 1 on Redbox Charts

It may have picked up just one Academy Award (Best Original Song) from its eight nominations, but A Star Is Born triumphed on both Redbox charts the week leading up to the Oscar ceremony Feb. 24.

Warner’s 2018 update of the classic film story landed at No. 1 on both the Redbox kiosk chart, which tracks DVD and Blu-ray Disc rentals at the company’s more than 40,000 red vending machines, and the Redbox On Demand chart, which tracks transactional video-on-demand (TVOD), both electronic sellthrough (EST) and streaming, the week ended Feb. 24.

The film, which earned $210.9 million at the box office and debuted on disc Feb. 19, stars Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga — both nominated for Oscars for their performances — as two musicians who come together on stage and in life in a complex journey through the beauty and heartbreak of a relationship struggling to survive.

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Four other new releases appeared on the Redbox disc chart for the week. Lionsgate’s Robin Hood, another retelling of a classic story, starring Taron Egerton as Robin Hood and Jamie Foxx as Little John, debuted at No. 2. Paramount Pictures’ Overlord, a story produced by J.J. Abrams about a team of American paratroopers who encounter Nazi super-soldiers, entered the chart at No. 4. Lionsgate’s Backtrace, an action thriller starring Sylvester Stallone, debuted at No. 8. And 20th Century Fox’s Can You Ever Forgive Me? — which earned three Oscar noms, for Best Actress (Melissa McCarthy), Best Supporting Actor (Richard E. Grant) and Best Adapted Screenplay — entered the disc chart at No. 10.

Fox’s Bohemian Rhapsody, which won all but one of the five Oscars for which it was nominated, including Best Actor for Rami Malek, finished its second week in disc release at No. 3, falling from No. 1.

On the digital chart, Bohemian Rhapsody fell one spot to No. 2, behind A Star Is Born, which shot up the chart from No. 10 the previous week. Robin Hood took the third spot, followed by Paramount’s Tyler Perry comedy Nobody’s Fool at No. 4 (from No. 2 the previous week), Overlord at No. 5 and Can You Ever Forgive Me? at No. 6.

Interestingly, two titles released in the fall of last year appeared on the digital chart. Sony Pictures’ Nov. 13 release Searching, which stars John Cho as a distraught father who sifts through his missing daughter’s digital footprint determined to find her, appeared at No. 9. And Universal Pictures’ Sept. 25 release Skyscraper, an actioner starring Dwayne Johnson, came in at No. 10.

 

Top DVD and Blu-ray Disc Rentals, Redbox Kiosks, Week Ended Feb. 24:

  1. A Star Is Born (2018) (New) — Warner
  2. Robin Hood (2018) (New) — Lionsgate
  3. Bohemian Rhapsody — Fox
  4. Overlord (New) — Paramount
  5. The Grinch — Universal
  6. Nobody’s Fool — Paramount
  7. Widows — Fox
  8. Backtrace (New) — Lionsgate
  9. The Girl in the Spider’s Web — Sony
  10. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (New) — Fox

 

Top Digital, Redbox On Demand, Week Ended Feb. 24:

  1. A Star Is Born (2018) — Warner
  2. Bohemian Rhapsody — Fox
  3. Robin Hood (2018) — Lionsgate
  4. Nobody’s Fool — Paramount
  5. Overlord — Paramount
  6. Can You Ever Forgive Me? — Fox
  7. The Grinch — Universal
  8. Widows — Fox
  9. Searching — Sony
  10. Skyscraper — Universal

‘Not on Netflix’

I’m a little confused about the whole “Direct to Consumer” trend and what it means for home entertainment.

I get the concept — delivering movies, TV shows and other filmed content directly to consumers over the Internet, bypassing third-party distributors — but honestly, what are we selling here?

Consumers aren’t buying individual movies or shows, either to own or just to watch. They are subscribing to a service, where they can still pick and choose what they want to watch, but it’s like an all-you-can-eat buffet rather than ordering off the menu. And that’s an enticing proposition for the consumer — a whole month of entertainment for less than it costs to buy a single movie, either on disc or digitally.

And yet the transactional business model remains a critical component of Hollywood’s money stream, and also provides a far better picture of consumer demand. Just like at the box office, movies succeed or fail on their own, and their performance helps studios determine what to make more of — and less of.

And the transactional model will always rely on a third-party distributor — retailer, aggregator, call it what you will — to provide consumers with the broadest possible choice. Except for Disney, the individual studios simply aren’t a brand.

But regardless of how much money Netflix — and Disney+, the new Disney SVOD service set to launch later this year — spends on original content, I can’t fathom consumers not wanting first-run movies, either to own or just to watch. And while Disney will probably throw some new theatrical movies into its SVOD service just to stoke interest, most of the big blockbusters will always be available first through the transactional model. Netflix and other SVOD services will remain focused on television content and catalog movies to give studios a direct revenue stream to compensate for declining disc sales and the loss of fees they get from selling content to cable companies because of cord-cutting.

The transactional business model has certainly endured its share of bumps in recent years. Disc sales continue to decline, and only recently have digital movie sales and rentals begun to climb, with respectable growth rates of 14.4% and 6.2%, respectively, according to year-end 2018 numbers issued by DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.

The launch in late 2017 of the Movies Anywhere platform certainly helped lift sales, as has the increasing aggressiveness of digital retailers like Apple iTunes, FandangoNow, Redbox On Demand and Google Play, even though the business is largely driven by pay-TV providers like Comcast.

But to really lift the transactional business studios need to do more, as well. An earlier window for digital releases has certainly been effective, but what’s next? Years ago, faced with a slowdown in what was then a physical media-only business, studios banded together with distributors and retailers and introduced a common street date — Tuesdays — as well as a generic awareness campaign that drove home the low cost and convenience of renting a video.

Why not develop and launch a similar industrywide campaign now? Focus on all the great content that’s available exclusively through transactional purchases and rentals, including, of course, fresh new theatrical blockbusters that won’t be on Netflix for years, if ever. I’ve had studio executives tell me this is common knowledge, but I respectfully disagree — I’ve had too many friends and acquaintances tell me otherwise. FandangoNow prominently notes on its website, “New releases not on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime subscriptions.” Why can’t this be an industrywide rallying cry, maybe even with the hashtag #NotOnNetflix (which last time I checked had just 684 posts on Instagram)?

And while we’re at it, let’s put a little effort behind the much-maligned physical disc. We have a truly great new product, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, that’s even getting increased attention (in the form of floor space) from big traditional retailers such as Best Buy, Target and Walmart.

But sometimes it seems that the disc is our industry’s forgotten stepchild. Let’s put existing trade groups like the Blu-ray Disc Association and Ultra HD Alliance to work and start pounding the drums, focusing on the fact that of all the products and platforms out there 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray most closely replicates the theatrical experience. Consider an earlier street date for 4K.

And at the same time, don’t neglect regular Blu-ray and DVD, which continue to dominate sales.  Explore the feasibility of selling a small, curated selection of discs through movie theaters, focusing on titles that somehow tie in with what’s playing on the big screen. There’s a reason theme parks have big gift shops at the exits — you’ve got a captive audience.

Lionsgate Promotes Kapouranis to President of International TV and Digital Distribution

Lionsgate has promoted Agapy Kapouranis to president of international television and digital distribution.

She will report to Lionsgate president of worldwide television and digital distribution Jim Packer.

She succeeds Lionsgate veteran Peter Iacono, who has decided to leave the studio to become CEO of TravelCadabra.

During her seven years with the company, Kapouranis has structured a broad range of complex global and regional licensing deals encompassing the company’s films and television series, including alternative programming formats and Starz original programming, to a broad range of digital and linear platforms around the world.

She has broad experience in the subscription video-on-demand (SVOD), electronic sellthrough (EST) and transactional video-on-demand (TVOD) space, according to a Liongate release.

“Having an executive with experience in all forms of global distribution such as Agapy gives Lionsgate an advantage as we continue to navigate a dynamic and fast-changing environment with our growing and evolving portfolio of content,” Packer said in a statement. “She is the ideal executive to carry Peter’s leadership of our international team into the future. Peter is a great international sales and marketing executive who has helped lead the charge as we’ve built a robust network of digital and linear relationships around the world. We wish him the very best in his entrepreneurial endeavors.”

Kapouranis joined Lionsgate in 2011. She first served as SVP of television and digital distribution and was based in Paris for four years. In that capacity, she closed global digital EST deals with Apple, Xbox, Playstation and Google. She was later promoted to EVP of worldwide subscription video on demand, the position she held until her latest promotion.

Iacono has been part of the worldwide television and distribution group leadership team for nearly 10 years, leading all international distribution, acquisitions, sales and marketing for Lionsgate’s television and catalog feature slate. He recently spearheaded the company’s new Latin American first-run pay television deal with Amazon Prime.

“It’s been a pleasure working with an innovative studio like Lionsgate for going on a decade where I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by one of the best international sales and distribution teams in the business,” said Iacono in a statement. “It is time for a new adventure where I will be CEO of TravelCadabra an internet travel, entertainment and e-commerce platform launching in early 2019 for which we have been fortunate enough to secure up to $10 million in initial funding.  It gives me great pleasure to pass the stewardship of Lionsgate brilliant international distribution team to such a talented and dynamic executive as Agapy as I venture on this entrepreneurial path.”

French SVOD/TVOD Use Increasing

French indifference toward subscription streaming video and transactional VOD appears to be waning.

About 20% of French broadband households used a SVOD service in the past year, with another 13% renting a transactional VOD movie – up from 11% from the previous-year period, according to new data from Médiamétrie.

By comparison, London-based Ampere Analysis in January found only 3.1% of French households used SVOD exclusively.

The average French household bought four videos, with households with children under 15 years of age consuming eight videos per year.

Paris-based Médiamétrie said that among SVOD users over the age of 15, episodic programing dominates. More than half (56%) of survey respondents said it was important to have French content.

The company found that on average three people in a household use a single SVOD account. The average user profile includes more women, with households often also subscribing to pay-TV rather than just broadband.

SVOD’s primary strength lies in diversity of content, with TV series (91%), movies (87%), cartoons (44%) and documentaries (40%).

Younger viewers (92%) watch several episodes in a row and 83% binge-view series. In total, the demo watches more than 11 series on average in a year, including more than seven that are available exclusively on a platform.

Médiamétrie said the demo rated episodic programing favorably (83%) due to numerous factors, including stopping-and-starting programing, multi-screen access and account sharing.

Among the top 10 streamed series, American content dominates despite increased desire among respondents to see more “Made in France” content. Indeed, 56% of respondents said it was important to have French movie and TV show productions.

While French households prefer streaming content via the TV, on average a transactional VOD user rents five times per year, mostly for movies. The latter still watches movies in theaters, in addition to watching video on the Web, DVD, DVR and pirated.