Amazon to Acquire MGM in Deal Valued at Nearly $8.5 Billion

Amazon announced this morning that it will purchase MGM Studios for $8.45 billion, signaling the tech giant’s serious intent to expand its entertainment ambitions by beefing up its Prime Video content library to better compete with Netflix, Hulu and the growing collection of streaming video services. The deal marks the second largest acquisition for Amazon; the company paid $13.7 billion for Whole Foods in 2017. Amazon plans to leverage MGM’s significant catalog of 4,000 movies and 17,000 television shows to help strengthen its film and TV unit Amazon Studios. Continue reading Amazon to Acquire MGM in Deal Valued at Nearly $8.5 Billion

Amazon’s Profits, Income, Stock Price Skyrocket During 2020

For Q1 2021, Amazon reported record profits of $26 billion, more than the previous three quarters combined, with net income more than tripling to $8.1 billion and revenue of $108 billion, surpassing FactSet’s analyst predictions. In addition to Amazon’s successful quarter, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft all enjoyed major upticks in profits and revenues, the result of the increased need for their products and services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Amazon expects that its Q2 sales will reach between $110 billion and $116 billion. Continue reading Amazon’s Profits, Income, Stock Price Skyrocket During 2020

Streamers Invest in Global Local Productions to Attract Subs

Emulating Netflix’s international strategy, Disney, Amazon and other companies with streaming services are heavily investing in local-language productions globally, to woo international subscribers. Formerly, Hollywood shipped dubbed or subtitled domestic movies and TV shows. These companies are fueling a boom of movie and TV production in Hindi, French, Portuguese, German, Polish and other languages. The Motion Picture Association reported that global subscriptions reached 1.1+ billion last year, rising from 400 million in 2016. Continue reading Streamers Invest in Global Local Productions to Attract Subs

New NFL Deal Is Part of Amazon’s Plans to Increase Content

Amazon inked a deal to make its Prime Video service home to the National Football League’s “Thursday Night Football” by 2023. Amazon paid an “average annual fee” of about $1 billion, making it the company’s biggest such deal to date. Currently, Amazon ranks third in digital advertising, after Google and Facebook, but the exclusive NFL games will likely supercharge viewing and advertising. Recently, Amazon also signed deals to put its free ad-supported IMDb TV into more homes and ordered a spin-off of popular show “Bosch.” Continue reading New NFL Deal Is Part of Amazon’s Plans to Increase Content

EU Indie Producers Issue Code of Fair Practices to Streamers

The European Producers Club (EPC), based in Paris, represents 130 independent film and television drama producers throughout Europe. The group just issued a four-point Code of Fair Practices for VOD Services aimed at Amazon Studios, Disney+, Netflix and other streaming companies that commission content from its members. France, Italy and Germany are currently in negotiations to implement Europe’s earlier Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD), which requires streaming companies to invest revenue into local productions.

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ETC and Partners to Pilot Test Virtual Production Capabilities

The Entertainment Technology Center at USC has selected filmmakers Hannah Bang, Margo Sawaya and Sabina Vajrača to receive the 2020 Innovative Technology Award for their virtual production-based project, “The Ripple Effect.” The trio developed the futuristic live-action project with the aim of testing the limits of virtual production. “With Unreal Engine, we can minimize on set crew and provide better controls for talent and staff,” explained executive producer Erik Weaver. “We want to get people back to work while keeping cast and crews safe.” Continue reading ETC and Partners to Pilot Test Virtual Production Capabilities

While Streaming Services Surge, a Number of Hurdles Loom

Streaming video is in high demand, as millions of people sheltering at home seek entertainment. According to a poll of 2,000 people by The Wall Street Journal and the Harris Poll, Americans spent $37 per month on streaming services in March, up from the $30 they spent in November. Amazon Studios chief operating officer Albert Cheng calls the rising metrics “jaw-dropping.” The Walt Disney Company is also experiencing a bump, with its Disney+ signing up 50 million global subscribers within five months of launching. However, existing and emerging services face a mounting recession and delayed productions. Continue reading While Streaming Services Surge, a Number of Hurdles Loom

Disney’s Hotstar: India’s Dominant Video-Streaming Platform

The dominant video-streaming provider in India is Hotstar, which debuted four years ago by media conglomerate Star India. Its 300 million monthly users gravitate to the mobile-first platform to watch cricket, TV shows and movies. Now owned by The Walt Disney Company, Hotstar’s usage is 10 percent larger than that of YouTube, India’s second largest video streaming platform. Only three million of Hotstar’s users are paying subscribers, but that’s still more than those paying for Amazon and twice as many as those subscribed to Netflix. Continue reading Disney’s Hotstar: India’s Dominant Video-Streaming Platform

Steven Spielberg Criticizes Oscar Noms for Streaming Films

As the Academy Governor representing directors, filmmaker Steven Spielberg is intent on changing the rules so that movies made by streaming content creators won’t be eligible for Oscars but would only be considered for Emmys, along with other TV fare. Spielberg — and the studios — were motivated most recently by how close Netflix-produced “Roma” came to winning Best Picture. As it was, “Roma” director Alfonso Cuarón won Academy Awards for best director and best cinematographer. One complaint is the lopsided spending for Oscar competition. Continue reading Steven Spielberg Criticizes Oscar Noms for Streaming Films

Amazon Aims for Quality Not Quantity With 30 Films Per Year

Amazon hasn’t had a good year in the film business since 2017 when it moved away from its Hollywood distribution partners into self-distribution. Since then, the company released six flops in a row, including director Woody Allen’s “Wonder Wheel,” which cost $25 million and only earned $14 million in North America, and “Beautiful Boy,” which cost $23 million and made a mere $7.6 million. Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke surmised that the company put “too much focus on a narrow prestige lane.” Continue reading Amazon Aims for Quality Not Quantity With 30 Films Per Year

Amazon May Expand Media Efforts With Landmark Purchase

Amazon is reportedly among those vying to acquire Landmark Theatres, the country’s largest chain focused on indie and foreign movies. Landmark is part of the Wagner/Cuban entertainment holdings, backed by film producer Todd Wagner and billionaire investor Mark Cuban. According to insiders, Landmark’s owners have been working with financial services firm Stephens Inc. on a possible sale. The move would introduce Amazon to the brick-and-mortar cinema industry, while complementing the e-commerce giant’s media expansion of interests such as Prime Video, Prime Music and Amazon Studios. Continue reading Amazon May Expand Media Efforts With Landmark Purchase

New Amazon Studios Head Is Charting an Ambitious Course

Four months ago, Jennifer Salke, previously NBC president of entertainment, replaced Amazon Studios chief Roy Price, who was ousted after a sexual harassment scandal. Now, she’s moving forward to clarify the studio’s message on the kinds of content it wants, as well as get more productions into the pipeline. Salke is making a strong play for Hollywood creatives to work with the studio, noting that, “there is a lot of talent out there looking for a home … [and] we have the resources.” Continue reading New Amazon Studios Head Is Charting an Ambitious Course

Amazon Inks 15-Year Lease of the Historic Culver Studios Lot

Amazon Studios just cut a ribbon on its 15-year lease of the historic 14-acre Culver Studios lot from landlord Hackman Capital Partners, which has owned the property since 2014. Hackman enticed Amazon to rent the property with a plan to invest $600 million in seven new buildings and other upgrades in the next three years. Before inking a deal for the Culver City lot, Amazon Studios had been housed in offices in Santa Monica. Amazon began moving its 700 entertainment employees into the Culver City lot in late 2017. Continue reading Amazon Inks 15-Year Lease of the Historic Culver Studios Lot

Internal Numbers Reveal the Success of Amazon Prime Video

For the first time, numbers are available to demonstrate how Amazon’s original video strategy is paying off. Thanks to internal documents read by Reuters, the general public can see evidence that Amazon’s top shows enticed over 5 million people to sign up for its Prime shopping membership by 2017. Using video to create shoppers is a key to Amazon’s strategy, and chief executive Jeff Bezos has been open about that approach. In total, Amazon’s U.S. audience for video (original and licensed) is about 26 million. Continue reading Internal Numbers Reveal the Success of Amazon Prime Video

Why Netflix, Amazon Didn’t Buy Movies at Sundance Film Fest

For the last two years, Amazon Studios and Netflix dominated in acquisitions of films at the annual Sundance Film Festival, purchasing six titles each at the 2016 festival and, last year, Netflix leaving with 10 titles and Amazon with five. This year was a notable difference, with neither streaming giant buying a single title (yet) from the 2018 fest. Because of that, more traditional distribution companies and foreign sales agents were able to compete, the latter because the streamers bought worldwide rights. Continue reading Why Netflix, Amazon Didn’t Buy Movies at Sundance Film Fest

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