AMC Joins the Streaming Business with On-Demand Movies

AMC Theatres is launching an iTunes-style digital video store today in the U.S. that will allow AMC Stubs members to rent or purchase movies for home viewing. Similar to the model introduced by Amazon, Apple and other VOD retailers, AMC Theatres On Demand will offer about 2,000 movies following their theatrical runs, despite the fact that chains have generally been at odds with online video. A major theater chain joining the expanding collection of studios, networks, tech companies and popular platforms already embracing this technology illustrates the impact of streaming video on entertainment media. Continue reading AMC Joins the Streaming Business with On-Demand Movies

ETC Publishes White Paper on Consortium Shared Identity

Led jointly by ETC’s Seth Levenson and Cisco’s Randy Zhang, the Adaptive Production’s Blockchain working group at the Entertainment Technology Center is tackling issues regarding identity and onboarding/offboarding workflow within the entertainment industry. The working group examined the numerous inefficiencies and inconsistencies of production staffing. From temporary contracts to the inconsistent methods of bringing members on and off productions, a great deal of efficiency, legitimacy, and security is lost. The group’s technical white paper, Consortium Shared Identity (CSI) over an Enterprise Blockchain, presents solutions and lays the groundwork for a potential proof of concept down the line. Continue reading ETC Publishes White Paper on Consortium Shared Identity

Japan’s Virtual YouTube Celebrities Test the Waters in China

Japan’s most popular YouTube star is Kizuna AI, a virtual teenager with thigh-high socks and a pink hair ribbon, brought to life by an off-screen actress. Millions of fans follow Kizuna, the brainchild of Activ8, a Tokyo-based company. According to Activ8 founder Takeshi Osaka, what sets such so-called virtual YouTubers (or VTubers) apart is that “you can believe they actually exist.” To create Kizuna, Activ8 uses motion capture gear to create skits, music videos and game streams for its over four million subscribers. Continue reading Japan’s Virtual YouTube Celebrities Test the Waters in China

Netflix Considers Introducing Bonuses For Successful Movies

Netflix, which traditionally has paid talent with upfront deals, is reportedly considering bonuses for filmmakers, actors and producers when their movies prove to be successful. Insiders indicate that the number of awards a movie wins or its viewership numbers could measure the level of success. The new incentive model would be designed to win film projects for the streaming service that would otherwise be picked up by other studios. While Scott Stuber, head of Netflix’s original film division, has been discussing possibilities with producers, details regarding the types of bonuses or who might receive them have not been revealed. Continue reading Netflix Considers Introducing Bonuses For Successful Movies

Disney, Microsoft Team Up to Shift Moviemaking to the Cloud

Walt Disney Studios and Microsoft inked a five-year deal to start transitioning filmmaking to Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform, with the goal of complete “scene to screen.” The effort is led by Disney’s StudioLAB. Walt Disney Studios chief technology officer Jamie Voris said the first step will be to move Avid editing tools into the cloud, to facilitate collaboration across locations. Microsoft U.S. president Kate Johnson noted that “we are at the tipping point for cloud in media and entertainment.” Continue reading Disney, Microsoft Team Up to Shift Moviemaking to the Cloud

MoviePass Officially Shutters its Cinema Subscription Service

MoviePass notified its subscribers last week that its cinema plan would interrupt service on Saturday, September 14. At one point, the MoviePass subscription service enabled customers to watch up to one movie per day in theaters for $9.95 per month, a model that proved unsustainable. Parent company Helios and Matheson Analytics (HMNY) announced that it is considering options, which includes a possible sale of the MoviePass company. While the business model was seen as a bold experiment by some, the company reportedly burned through cash, ultimately disappointing its shareholders. Continue reading MoviePass Officially Shutters its Cinema Subscription Service

Facebook Ad Campaigns to Carry Movie Reminders, Times

Facebook is introducing two new features in the U.S. and U.K. that will allow entertainment studios to post movie reminders and showtimes as standard components for ad buys on the platform’s News Feed. There will be no additional cost to include the new information. Since interest in many films is generated early when trailers and ads first appear, Facebook believes movie fans would be greatly served with reminders when those films hit theaters. Users tap the “Interested” button on the movie’s Facebook ad to register for the reminder. The notification arrives when the film launches, and includes a link for showtimes and purchasing tickets. Continue reading Facebook Ad Campaigns to Carry Movie Reminders, Times

UltraViolet Users Are Reminded to Link Libraries to Retailer

Cloud-based video locker UltraViolet, Hollywood’s attempt at a cross-platform digital movie storage service that launched in 2011, is scheduled to shut down tomorrow. To avoid permanently losing access to content, UltraViolet users are reminded to link their libraries of movies and TV shows to an existing retailer such FandangoNOW, Kaleidescape or Walmart-owned Vudu. After tomorrow, according to the homepage, “Your UltraViolet Library will automatically close and, in the majority of cases, your movies and TV shows will remain accessible at previously-linked retailers.” Continue reading UltraViolet Users Are Reminded to Link Libraries to Retailer

Studios Cater Blockbuster Advertising to Next-Gen Viewers

Hollywood studios have typically teed up blockbusters well in advance of their release dates. For example, Walt Disney Studios promoted “Tron: Legacy” for three years; Warner Bros. spent almost two years pushing “Godzilla” and Universal Pictures publicized “The Secret Life of Pets 2” for three years. Now, these biggest marketers, which spent $4+ billion annually in advertising, have narrowed the gap considerably — to as little as a few months for tentpole movies — to better respond to the expectation of on-demand content. Continue reading Studios Cater Blockbuster Advertising to Next-Gen Viewers

Universal’s Michael Wise Named Chair of ETC@USC Board

At its annual Studio Technology Leaders Dinner last night, The Entertainment Technology Center @ the University of Southern California (ETC) announced that Universal Filmed Entertainment Group CTO Michael Wise has been named the new chairman of ETC’s executive board of directors. ETC executive director & CEO Ken Williams opened the evening by introducing and congratulating Wise on his new leadership position on the board. Williams also took a moment to thank the outgoing chair and former CTO of 20th Century Fox Film Corporation, Hanno Basse, who has served as ETC’s executive board chair since December 2016. Continue reading Universal’s Michael Wise Named Chair of ETC@USC Board

Trade War with China Could Impact Hollywood’s Box Office

In the ongoing U.S.-China trade war, Hollywood is feeling the impact, as the Beijing-based government has begun to limit Hollywood’s ability to sell its entertainment products. Four people who do business in China or closely follow its relations with Hollywood are commenting to the press on the worsening relationship. China, currently the world’s second-largest film market, requires government approval for film distribution. “I don’t want to use the words ‘total freeze,’ but it’s real,” said SK Global head and “Crazy Rich Asians” producer John Penotti. “They’re not saying it officially, but the industry is operating as if it’s close to a total shutdown.”

Continue reading Trade War with China Could Impact Hollywood’s Box Office

IMDb Rebrands Its New AVOD Service and Triples Content

Amazon-owned IMDb — the popular online database featuring information related to movies, television and video games — is rebranding its recently launched Freedive video service as IMDb TV. Thanks to new deals with MGM, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Warner Bros., the ad-supported VOD service will add thousands of new titles in the upcoming months, essentially tripling the number of TV shows and movies available to U.S. viewers for free. The company also plans to expand its audience with a European launch later this year. Continue reading IMDb Rebrands Its New AVOD Service and Triples Content

VOD Platform Inks Licensing Deals With Hollywood Studios

Los Angeles-based startup ROW8 has signed licensing deals with Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. as part of its strategy to compete with transactional VOD offerings from the likes of Apple and Amazon. The streaming movie service, which launched last year with foreign and indie titles, is now targeting mainstream audiences with library titles and new releases from major Hollywood studios. It is taking an industry standard approach with $5.99 new-release rentals and $2.99-$3.99 catalog titles, but is also adding a feature that offers customers the ability to receive future credits for movie rentals they did not enjoy. Continue reading VOD Platform Inks Licensing Deals With Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Warms Up to AI Algorithms For Planning Content

Los Angeles startup Cinelytic uses artificial intelligence to project box office returns. It licenses data about past movie performances and cross-references that with themes and actors in order to identify patterns. The software allows the user to input script and cast, and then try to see how specific actors would likely impact box office receipts. Other companies are experimenting with applying AI to film production, including the Belgium-based ScriptBook, which its founders say can predict success via an analyzed script. Continue reading Hollywood Warms Up to AI Algorithms For Planning Content

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