AMC Prepares to Open Most of its Theaters Worldwide by July

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit AMC Entertainment, the world’s largest movie-theater chain, particularly hard. After registering a $2.2 billion net loss for Q1, it made “virtually no revenue” in the first two weeks of the quarter ending March 30. Now, AMC chief executive Adam Aron says he hopes to get AMC Theatres in the U.S. and U.K. open in July, although he did not specify a date. AMC has 1,000 theaters with 11,000 screens in several countries. In California, 51 counties have been approved to reopen movie theaters as soon as June 12. Continue reading AMC Prepares to Open Most of its Theaters Worldwide by July

Anthill’s Whatifi Offers Interactive Storytelling via Mobile App

Anthill’s latest version of interactive storytelling app Whatifi is now available in the Apple App Store. Founded by Jaanus Juss and Hardi Meybaum, who have been exploring interactive storytelling in their native Estonia via live theater, the startup enables users to “choose their own adventure” in two stories: “As Dead as it Gets” and “Anatomy of a Decision.” The first is a “drunken night with a few bros” that turns into a supernatural fantasy. A character on the verge of death, the viewer must follow the advice of ghosts to return to the land of the living. Whatifi is now based out of Los Angeles and Estonia. Continue reading Anthill’s Whatifi Offers Interactive Storytelling via Mobile App

Founders of eSports and Gaming Network Speed Up Launch

Ariel Horn and Ben Kusin, co-founders of VENN (Video Game Entertainment & News Network), plan to launch their eSports, gaming and pop culture network in July, three months ahead of schedule. To do so, they are raising $40 million, building a Los Angeles studio, hiring, and setting up creators to program from home. The 24/7 linear network is aimed at the streaming generation, including hardcore eSports fans and casual gamers. VENN already raised $17 million from Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, Riot Games co-chair Marc Merrill and Blizzard Entertainment co-founder Mike Morhaime. Continue reading Founders of eSports and Gaming Network Speed Up Launch

Arthouse Theaters Opt to Stream Indies via Virtual Cinemas

Movie theaters have been shutting down as the coronavirus pandemic keeps patrons at home, and smaller, often family-run chains are taking it hard. At the Laemmle Theatres arthouse chain in Los Angeles, Greg Laemmle noted his concern about “generating revenue during this period.” Like other such small theater chains, Laemmle has taken a step he never dreamed of: introducing “virtual cinemas” to stream the movies that would have run in their theaters to audiences’ homes. Digital tickets cost around $12, and the link remains available for a few days. Continue reading Arthouse Theaters Opt to Stream Indies via Virtual Cinemas

E3 Joins Growing List of Canceled Media & Technology Events

The Entertainment Software Association announced that E3 2020, slated for June 9-11 in Los Angeles, has been canceled. “After careful consultation with our member companies regarding the health and safety of everyone in our industry — our fans, our employees, our exhibitors and our longtime E3 partners — we have made the difficult decision to cancel E3 2020,” explained ESA in a statement. “Following increased and overwhelming concerns about the COVID-19 virus, we felt this was the best way to proceed during such an unprecedented global situation.”  Continue reading E3 Joins Growing List of Canceled Media & Technology Events

MxR Lab: Travel Back in Time 25,000 Years For AR User Study

Have you ever been curious about what Los Angeles looked like during the Ice Age, or how animals got stuck in the tar at the #TarPits? Be the first to try Tar AR at Pit 91, a special augmented reality experience running March 2-15. Participation is free for those who RSVP. Participants will receive free #TarPits Museum admission, 10 percent off at the Museum Store during the day of participation, and limited edition Ice Age Animal stickers. Plus, you’ll be helping #TarPits and the University of Southern California in important scientific research about AR. Continue reading MxR Lab: Travel Back in Time 25,000 Years For AR User Study

Mythical Games Blockchain Strategy Gets $19 Million Boost

Los Angeles-based Mythical Games raised $19 million to pursue its mission of creating games with blockchain and allowing players to benefit via ownership. The company, which has dubbed this strategy “player-owned economies,” is at work on its first game. Javelin Venture Partners was the lead investor, joined by new investors Avon Ventures, Alumni Ventures and Hashed. Galaxy Digital, via its Digital EOS VC Fund and Struck Capital, are other current investors. Mythical Games raised $16 million last year in two rounds. Continue reading Mythical Games Blockchain Strategy Gets $19 Million Boost

Amazon to Expand Footprint in the Grocery Store Business

In 2020, Amazon will open a new branded grocery store in Woodland Hills, California, a suburb in the Los Angeles San Fernando Valley. The company is reportedly planning additional stores in Chicago, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. Amazon stated it will feature traditional checkouts, rather than Amazon Go cashier-less technology. Amazon currently owns Whole Foods, with 500 stores, purchased for $13.2 billion in 2017 and Amazon Go, and offers grocery delivery through Amazon Fresh, its website and Prime Now. Continue reading Amazon to Expand Footprint in the Grocery Store Business

Adobe Reveals AI-Enabled One-Click Audio Enhancement

At the Adobe MAX conference in Los Angeles this week, the company gave a sneak peek of its Project Awesome Audio, which will clean up problematic audio recordings in Adobe Audition with the click of a button. The project is the brainchild of Adobe research scientist Zeyu Jin who, back in 2016, demonstrated a tool that allows the user to easily insert speech into an existing clip. For Project Awesome Audio, Jin, with Princeton University computer science PhD student Jiaqi Su, leveraged Adobe’s Sensei AI for “end-to-end audio enhancement.” Adobe also showcased a mobile Photoshop app, a new AR authoring app, and more. Continue reading Adobe Reveals AI-Enabled One-Click Audio Enhancement

Holoride, Ford, Universal Partner for In-Car VR Experience

Tech startup holoride has teamed with Ford Motor Company and Universal Pictures to create an immersive VR experience called “Universal Monsters Presents Bride of Frankenstein holoride.” The complimentary ride is being offered during select dates from October 14 to November 9 at Universal CityWalk Hollywood. “They are rolling it out at the theme park, but it could be featured anywhere because it is GPS-based,” explained ETC’s Phil Lelyveld, who recently previewed the ride with colleague George Gerba. “It adjusts to the location and the route. So it could be a touring experience, could be offered at store openings, etc.” Continue reading Holoride, Ford, Universal Partner for In-Car VR Experience

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

Apple Aims for Traditional Theatrical Exhibition of Its Movies

According to sources, Apple is in talks with cinema chains to open its feature-length films in a traditional theatrical release, with an exclusive stay in theaters before becoming available on Apple TV+. Apple might choose, however, to first debut its films in art house cinemas in New York and Los Angeles. The company reportedly is pursuing this strategy to draw in major directors and producers, as well as avoid the tension Netflix created when it released its movies without an exclusivity window. Continue reading Apple Aims for Traditional Theatrical Exhibition of Its Movies

Broadcasters File Federal Suit to Stop TV Streamer Locast

CBS, Disney’s ABC, Comcast’s NBCUniversal and Fox are suing non-profit streaming service Locast in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York. Locast, funded in part by AT&T, retransmits local television stations without permission, free to consumers. The Supreme Court shut down Aereo, which streamed content without permission in 2014. Locast says its status is legal under the Copyright Act of 1976, because, unlike Aereo, it is a non-profit operating “booster” and “translator stations” that strengthen a TV station’s signal. Continue reading Broadcasters File Federal Suit to Stop TV Streamer Locast

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

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