International Agencies Arrest Members of Global Piracy Ring

Three members of the Sparks Group, a sophisticated global piracy ring, were arrested on federal charges of international piracy of movies and TV shows distributed online prior to their release dates, said acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York Audrey Strauss. British citizen George Bridi was arrested in Cyprus, American Jonatan Correa was arrested in Olathe, Kansas and a third man, Umar Ahmad of Norway, is still being sought. TorrentFreak founder Ernesto van der Sar said, “the charges are significant.” Continue reading International Agencies Arrest Members of Global Piracy Ring

California Okays Production for June 12, But Hurdles Remain

California governor Gavin Newsom’s office said that film and television shoots can begin again as soon as June 12. According to the California Department of Public Health, however, the county public health officers must first approve where the film, TV and music productions will take place. Further, everyone on the production must adhere to a detailed guide on how to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmissions, including the end of craft services’ buffets and strict cleaning measures such as wiping down handheld props after every use. Continue reading California Okays Production for June 12, But Hurdles Remain

HPA Forms Task Force to Guide Return of Film & TV Industry

COVID-19 stopped film and television production in its tracks. Now, the Hollywood Professional Association (HPA) formed an HPA Industry Recovery Task Force to examine how to move forward with new content creation and sustainably restart the production and post-production industries as the world wrestles the pandemic. HPA president Seth Hallen announced that the task force’s “focus is to understand how to get our industry back to work.” The Hollywood film and TV industry directly employs about 927,000 people across the country. Continue reading HPA Forms Task Force to Guide Return of Film & TV Industry

Some Drive-Ins Experience New Life as Movie Theaters Close

Drive-in theaters have been in decline since the 1970s, with only 300 such theaters still open in the U.S. Now, with movie theaters closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, some of those remaining drive-ins are experiencing a bit of a renaissance. In Virginia, one 54-year old theater is open for business, with at least three of that state’s other drive-ins ready to reopen. According to United Drive-In Theatre Owners Association president John Vincent, about 150 drive-ins will reopen in the next three weeks as the shutdowns are lifted. Continue reading Some Drive-Ins Experience New Life as Movie Theaters Close

Pandemic Hastens M&E Industry Adoption of Cloud Workflows

ETC program director Erik Weaver introduced a live Equinix/ETC@USC webinar on “The Future of Media & Entertainment in a Time of Radical Change.” The opening keynote address on cloud workflows, moderated by film/TV media workflow engineer Michael Kammes, featured Microsoft Azure chief technology officer of media & entertainment Hanno Basse and Avid chief executive & president Jeff Rosica. Kammes opened the conversation by asking Basse and Rosica to describe how their companies are experiencing the move into the cloud. Continue reading Pandemic Hastens M&E Industry Adoption of Cloud Workflows

Movie Theater Owners Ponder How, When to Reopen Safely

Movie theater owners have started the conversation about when to reopen, even if new Hollywood movies won’t debut until mid-July. Although they are financially struggling, owners fear that opening up too soon could risk branding their theaters as dangerous places. That dilemma has suddenly become very real in Georgia, where the governor okayed the reopening of theaters on April 27, much to the dismay of many smaller operators who stated they do not plan to do so. The major movie chains there, however, haven’t weighed in. Continue reading Movie Theater Owners Ponder How, When to Reopen Safely

Coronavirus: Theater Owners Request Government Assistance

With movie theaters shuttered across the U.S. due to the coronavirus, the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) asked Congress and the Trump administration for loan guarantees and tax benefits to help pay workers and keep theater chains afloat. The top 10 theater chains in the nation have already or will shut down their theaters, representing 89 percent of U.S. screens. NATO represents 33,000+ screens in all 50 states. The Trump administration is considering similar benefits for the airline industry. Continue reading Coronavirus: Theater Owners Request Government Assistance

Theaters Hit Hard by Coronavirus as Streamers Reap Rewards

The coronavirus is hitting the National Association of Theatre Owners particularly hard, as local governments close movie theaters and consumers turn to streaming services. Regal Cinemas announced it is closing all its theaters, effective today, until further notice. Meanwhile, studios are reconsidering the exclusive 90-day window for theatrical exhibition. Universal Pictures is the the first major studio to announce a change to the traditional model. “We hope and believe that people will still go to the movies in theaters where available, but we understand that for people in different areas of the world that is increasingly becoming less possible,” said NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell. Continue reading Theaters Hit Hard by Coronavirus as Streamers Reap Rewards

Netflix Invests $520 Million to Make Three Big-Budget Films

According to sources, Netflix will spend $520+ million to make three movies, although none of them are likely to get a wide theatrical release. This month, Netflix committed almost $200 million to make the action movie “Red Notice,” with Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot. The company has stated that one-third of its 150 million subscribers are drawn to its movies, with TV accounting for the rest. New movie productions, it hopes, will help retain current viewers and attract new ones. Continue reading Netflix Invests $520 Million to Make Three Big-Budget Films

Rotten Tomatoes Adjusts Its Review Model to Combat Trolls

To better combat online trolls who have recently been waging campaigns to affect audience ratings for certain movies, Fandango-owned Rotten Tomatoes is making a significant change to its review submission model. Since the influential website relies upon credible ratings, “review bombing” that adversely impacts audience ratings is seen as a major issue. In order to minimize such a potential flood of negative reviews, users will no longer be permitted to post any audience reviews until the film in question appears in theaters. Continue reading Rotten Tomatoes Adjusts Its Review Model to Combat Trolls

Apple, Goldman Sachs Issue Credit Card Linked to iPhones

In the next few weeks, Apple and Goldman Sachs Group will issue a joint credit card for testing to employees, for a launch later in 2019. The card will offer consumers features on Apple’s Wallet app that will allow them to track their balances and rewards as well as set spending goals, said sources. With the card, Apple makes a major move into iPhone users’ finances. For Goldman Sachs, the card is part of a strategy to appeal to ordinary consumers. Neither company, however, has much experience in this arena. Continue reading Apple, Goldman Sachs Issue Credit Card Linked to iPhones

Dropbox, Google and Sony Debut Tech at Sundance Festival

At the Sundance Film Festival, tech companies now pitch new tools to the M&E industry. This year, Dropbox is offering a time-based commenting feature for video files, and Google and Sony are open-sourcing a tool that will simplify cloud rendering. Dropbox’s new feature will aid audio and video review by adding time-based commenting. Google, in partnership with Sony Picture Imageworks, will introduce OpenCue, which breaks down rendering steps and then schedules and manages the job across rendering farms. Continue reading Dropbox, Google and Sony Debut Tech at Sundance Festival

Best Buy to End CD Sales, While Target Adjusts Sales Model

Physical CDs are still selling well, although the U.S. has seen sales down by 18.5 percent. But Best Buy and Target have just taken steps that may hasten the demise of physical media. Best Buy, which was once the biggest music seller in the U.S., has told its music suppliers that it plans to pull CDs from its stores on July 1. The company will continue to carry vinyl records for two years, fulfilling a promise made to vendors. Meanwhile, Target is now telling music suppliers it will sell CDs on a consignment basis. The move would also impact sales of movies, TV shows and other video content on DVD. Continue reading Best Buy to End CD Sales, While Target Adjusts Sales Model

Netflix Dominance Pushing Studios to Earlier Release Window

Big spending digital players Netflix and Amazon are shaking up traditional TV stalwarts. Netflix is expected to spend $6 billion on original and acquired programming this year, up $1 billion from last year. That figure is five times more than what cable outlets FX (owned by 21st Century Fox) and Showtime (owned by CBS Corp.) spend and more than twice that spent by Time Warner’s premium channel HBO. TV actors are demanding $250,000 an episode, twice their previous rate, and there’s a feeding frenzy for A-list below-the-line crews. Continue reading Netflix Dominance Pushing Studios to Earlier Release Window

AMC Employs Digital Watermarking to Pinpoint and Halt Piracy

AMC Networks is the latest Hollywood company to adopt digital watermarking to protect its shows — chief among them “The Walking Dead” — from digital piracy, especially before the episodes air on TV. AMC has said it plans to use Civolution’s NexGuard to embed watermarks on a list of its original shows, also including “Better Call Saul” and “Humans.” The watermarking would take place at its New York production/distribution facilities, where the technology will be implemented as software plug-ins for its transcoders. Continue reading AMC Employs Digital Watermarking to Pinpoint and Halt Piracy

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