Horror Film ‘The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw’ Due on VOD and Digital Oct. 6

Epic Pictures’ horror film The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw will come out on VOD and digital Oct. 6.

In the film, a devout community suffering from a plague is torn apart by a beautiful young woman and the forces of witchcraft, black magic, and possession. Against the autumnal palette of harvest season in 1973, The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw explores the disturbed bond between Audrey, an enigmatic young woman, and Agatha, her domineering ‘mother,’ who live secretly as occultists on the outskirts of a remote Protestant village. As the community is besieged by a pestilence of unknown origin, children, fields and livestock begin to die — yet the Earnshaw farm remains strangely unaffected. As mass hysteria sets in the village, the townsfolk commence accusations against Audrey and Agatha of witchcraft.

The film premiered at Fantasia Fest 2020.

‘From Zero to I Love You’ Available Now on VOD, DVD From Ariztical

From Zero to I Love You is available now from LGBT distributor Ariztical Entertainment on VOD and DVD.

The film stars Scott Bailey and Darryl Stephens (Logo’s “Noah’s Arc,” Boy Culture the movie, the upcoming “Boy Culture” series, the series “DTLA”).

Doug Spearman’s second feature, following the gay detective movie Hot Guys With Guns, From Zero to I Love You is a semi-autobiographical story revolving around Jack (Bailey), who is in a seemingly perfect marriage but can no longer hide the secret desires that have plagued him. When he meets Pete (Stephens), what was supposed to be a one-night stand turns into a once in a lifetime love for both of them, threatening to upend everything Jack has built and changing his life forever.

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Spearman originally wrote the story as a novel called Welcome, Sinners. After adapting the novel to a screenplay, a scene from the script ran as a one-act play called Getting Better All the Time at the Beverly Hills Playhouse for a year, starring Jay Huguley as Pete and Al Sapienza as John, who both appear in the movie as Eric Dupont and Dr. Tracey Thayer, respectively.

Israeli Drama ‘Broken Mirrors’ Due on Digital and VOD Sept. 22 From Level 33

The Israeli film Broken Mirrors will premiere on digital and VOD Sept. 22 from Level 33 Entertainment.

In the dramatic thriller, Shira Haas (Emmy Nominee, Netflix’s “Unorthodox”) plays 17-year-old Ariella, who is shadowed by a strict, military father who inflicts severe methods of punishment as a form of discipline. When she commits a grave error that her father isn’t willing to punish her for, seeking a punishment of her own, Ariella embarks on a dark quest where she will discover a secret to her father’s past that will lead them to confront one another.

The film also stars Yiftach Klein, Renana Raz, Yoav Rotman, Liora Rivlin, Manuel Elkaslassy, Yaakov Zada Daniel and Michaela Elkin.

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It won the Jury Prize for Best Actress at the Festival du Cinéma Israélien de Montréal and Schlingel Best Feature Film at the Film Festival for Children & Young Audience Schlingel. It was nominated for the Jury Award Narrative Feature at the Berkshire International Film Festival (BIFF); the Grand Prix at the Zlin Film Festival; the Award of the Israeli Film Academy; Best Actress, Best Casting and Best Screenplay from the Awards of the Israeli Film Academy; the Golden Zenith First Fiction Films Competition at the Montréal World Film Festival; and Alice in the City Prize Young Adult at the Rome Film Fest.

Live Online Global Content Pitch Event Debuts Sept. 9

A new live global webcast presentation, Content Market Live, launches Sept. 9 in association with Vuulr, Boom! and C21 Media.

The event, taking place local time at 11 a.m. in Los Angeles, London and Singapore, is designed to make the buying and selling of newly finished content rights quicker and easier in the face of content supply chain issues and social distancing restrictions. It is not designed for screenings, but as a global interactive pitch event and is “unique in the content industry,” according to organizers.

The event is free for buyers and allows them to engage in one-on-one Q&As with distributors, watch pitch presentations of content broadcast live in their time zone, and negotiate directly with distributors online.

The event also includes the ability to see on-demand trailers and screeners and check avails.

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All Vuulr buyers are pre-registered.

Registrants have access 15,000-plus titles and 96,000-plus hours of programming on Vuulr.

Register here.

The Blech Effect: The Rise and Fall of the King of Biotech

DIGITAL REVIEW:

Street Date 8/25/20;
Virgil;
Documentary;
Not Rated.

Spectacular highs and lows are the stuff of great stories, and the true tale of investor David Blech spans both — fantastic financial gains and incredible losses.

The documentary The Blech Effect: The Rise and Fall of the King of Biotech chronicles the journey of man known for starting multiple biotech companies that have helped countless people and generated enormous wealth. As Blech himself admits in the film, if only he were in a coma for the last 15 years, he would be a multi-billionaire. Forbes Magazine once pegged his worth at more than $300 million, and he was on the Fortune 400 list. He became known as the “King of Biotech” and his influence on the market coined the term “The Blech Effect.”

But he couldn’t hold onto it. Bipolar disorder and a gambling addiction — what Blech terms a “manic push” — kept him constantly looking for the next big thing.

“When you do things that are outrageous, outrageous things happen to you,” Blech says in the film, calling his life a cautionary tale.

The documentary catches up with Blech at a low point, $11 million in debt, struggling to keep his family afloat and awaiting a jail sentence for his latest hijinks on Wall Street. His wife also struggles to keep him from spiraling into depression, as she looks after their son, who has been developmentally disadvantaged since birth. At one point, Blech notes that every time he sees one of those ubiquitous Cialis commercials, he is reminded of one of the companies he fostered and the money that eluded his grasp — money that could help him stay in his apartment and take care of his wife and son.

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Blech is looking for another big score with a company working on an Alzheimer’s drug that might just solve all his problems. Viewers experience the hope and anxiety about its success along with the couple — offering a taste of the rollercoaster ride Blech has been on much of his adult life.

Will it be the success that gets him out of the jam he’s in or will he have to face ultimate failure?

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Ultimately, The Blech Effect, like a classic tragedy, celebrates the talents and pride of its hero while revealing his fatal flaws. The fact that Blech ultimately comes to terms with his fate — and his responsibility for it — gives the story an added poignancy.

‘Love and Monsters’ to Bow on PVOD Oct. 16

Paramount Pictures will release Love and Monsters via premium VOD Oct. 16.

It will be available on VOD platforms for a 48-hour rental period at $19.99.  The film will also be available for early digital purchase at $24.99.

Joel Dawson in ‘Love and Monsters’

“Given the demand for new, high-quality entertainment right now, Paramount has decided to release Love and Monsters widely on digital platforms,” said Andrew Gumpert, chief operating officer, Paramount Pictures. “While we eagerly look forward to the reopening of movie theaters, we wanted to make this original and imaginative film available for everyone to enjoy at home.”

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The film takes place seven years after a “monsterpocalypse” — giant monsters taking over the Earth’s surface — forces all of humanity to move into underground colonies. As Joel Dawson (Dylan O’Brien, Maze Runner, “Teen Wolf”) watches his fellow survivors pair off, he decides to brave the surface and face the monsters standing between himself and his high school sweetheart Aimee (Jessica Henwick, “Iron Fist,” “Game of Thrones”).  Along his dangerous journey, Joel makes unlikely friends, including a heroic dog and a pair of survivalists (Michael Rooker, Guardians of the Galaxy; Ariana Greenblatt, The One And Only Ivan, Avengers: Infinity War) who help him survive the monster-infested road to true love.

Paramount Pictures is releasing the film in association with eOne.

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Windows Are Closing

Several “captains” in this month’s Women in Home Entertainment section noted that one of the long-term effects of the pandemic may be a change in how entertainment is distributed to consumers.

Indeed, we’ve already seen the beginnings of that dramatic shift in content windowing with premium VOD releases such as Trolls World Tour and Scoob!, which went directly into homes as theaters were shuttered. On the heels of those developments, theater chain AMC bowed to the changing times, making a shortened window deal with Universal Pictures. The deal allows Universal to distribute titles on PVOD as few as 17 days after they bow in AMC Theatres, which will receive a cut of the PVOD revenue.

The imprimatur of a theatrical release will certainly take a hit as more quality titles rush into the home window, and the pandemic may forever change how consumers view the home market. The quality of content on TV and from SVOD services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video had already boosted the allure of watching at home, and the closing theatrical window will likely do the same.

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The home entertainment market has had to adapt to numerous distribution models, from video rental stores to sellthrough at mass merchants to VOD. The market has also undergone numerous format changes, from Betamax to VHS to DVD to Blu-ray to 4K Ultra HD to digital. Now, it seems, the theatrical marketplace is being forced to adapt, too.

“There will have to be a descreening [in the theatrical business],” noted Michael Nathanson, of research firm MoffettNathanson, in a DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group presentation Aug. 20.

“We are the most overscreened countries in the world, the U.S. and Canada,” he added.

Meanwhile, AMC’s if-you-can’t-beat-them-join-them deal with Universal “shocked” and “puzzled” his team, Nathanson said.

“We think it’s a very dangerous precedent,” he said, adding it is “a bad outcome for theaters.”

“At the end of the day, the theatrical business will be one of blockbusters,” he said.

Meanwhile, PVOD will only gain, with a 17- to 30-day window established and Disney, Universal and Warner leading the charge, he said.

“I think PVOD just becomes the way of the world,” he said.

‘Bill & Ted Face the Music’ VOD Release Moving Up to Aug. 28

Bill & Ted Face the Music will come out on VOD and in select theaters Aug. 28, moving up from the Sept. 1 date announced during Comic-Con@Home.

Bill & Ted star Alex Winter revealed the news on Twitter.

In the Orion Pictures film, the stakes are higher than ever for the time-traveling William  “Bill” S. Preston Esq. (Alex Winter) and Theodore  “Ted” Logan (Keanu Reeves). To fulfill their rock and roll destiny, the now middle-aged best friends set out on a new adventure when a visitor from the future warns them that only their song can save life as we know it. Along the way, they will be helped by their daughters, a new batch of historical figures, and a few music legends to seek the song that will set their world right and bring harmony in the universe.

 

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Doc ‘The Blech Effect’ Coming to VOD and EST Aug. 25 From Virgil

The documentary The Blech Effect: The Rise and Fall of the King of Biotech will come out on VOD and electronic sellthrough Aug. 25 from Virgil Films.

The film chronicles the life of David Blech, who would be a multi-billionaire — if only he were in a coma for the last 15 years. In his early 20s, David was a pioneer investor in biotech companies and helped create an industry that has grown to be on the cutting edge of the world’s greatest medical cures, saving countless lives. Blech’s wealth grew with the industry. According to Forbes Magazine, he was once worth more than $300 million, and he was on the Fortune 400 list. He became known as the “King of Biotech” and his influence on the market coined the term “The Blech Effect.” But Blech struggled with bipolar disorder and a gambling addiction. He once hoped to be remembered for helping to create an industry that saves lives; instead he ended up $11 million in debt, struggling to keep his family afloat and awaiting a jail sentence.

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The Blech Effect follows a protagonist all too self-aware yet still unable to control his worst impulses, a wife and mother who is both a saint and enabler, and a beloved child heartbreaking in his beauty and disability.

AMC, Universal Strike Landmark PVOD Distribution Deal

Universal Film Entertainment Group and AMC Theatres July 28 announced a landmark distribution deal for the studio’s new release movies, which includes provisions for early debuts into the home on premium VOD.

The deal allows Universal, which has aggressively launched movies into retail channels via PVOD during the coronavirus pandemic — creating an acrimonious rift with the nation’s largest exhibitor, AMC, and others — to distribute titles on PVOD three weekends (as little as 17 days) after their initial bow in AMC Theatres. The agreement, which also includes new titles from Focus Features, will afford early consumer access via AMC Theatres On Demand. In the coming weeks, the two companies will begin discussions surrounding international distribution agreements in the countries in Europe and the Middle East served by AMC.

The typical theatrical window has been up to three months. AMC will split the $20 PVOD fee with Universal in return for the abridged window. The agreement does not include the typical retail window when titles are rented and sold from $3 to $6 through myriad digital channels such as Redbox, iTunes, Amazon Video, Google Play and Movies Anywhere.

Universal’s traditional windows for electronic sellthrough and video on demand (VOD) remain unchanged. The companies said they reached this agreement based on their “shared commitment” to a mutually beneficial long-term partnership that is focused on serving consumers worldwide, while preserving and enhancing the theatrical experience.

As a result, the deal means when the next “Fast & Furious” installment, F9, hits theaters April 2, 2021, Universal could give consumers the choice to either see it in the cineplex or wait a few weeks to buy or rent it.

“The theatrical experience continues to be the cornerstone of our business,” Donna Langley, chairman of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, said in a statement. “The partnership we’ve forged with AMC is driven by our collective desire to ensure a thriving future for the film distribution ecosystem and to meet consumer demand with flexibility and optionality.”

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Peter Levinsohn, Vice Chairman and Chief Distribution Officer of UFEG, who led negotiations on behalf of the studio, said the studio’s commitment to innovation in how it delivers content to audiences is what artists, partners and shareholders expect of Hollywood.

“We are excited about the opportunity this new structure presents to grow our business,” Levinsohn said. “We are grateful to AMC for their partnership and the leadership they have shown in working with us to reach this historic deal.”

AMC CEO Adam Aron, who said the chain “enthusiastically embraces this new industry model,” said the deal puts a premium on the long-term health of the exhibition industry.

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“We would note that just as restaurants have thrived even though every home has a kitchen, AMC is highly confident that moviegoers will come to our theatres in huge numbers in a post-pandemic world,” Aron said. “As people enjoy getting out of their homes, we believe the mystical escape and magical communal experience offered at our theatres will always be a compelling draw, including as it does our big screens, big sound and big seats not to mention the alluring aroma of our perfectly prepared popcorn.”

AMC is planning to reopen about 600 U.S. theaters in August.