Disney+ Shares the ‘Future of Storytelling’ with New AR Short

Disney+ has unveiled a new app for viewing augmented reality, inviting subscribers to test drive “the future of storytelling, in your own living room” with the new short “Remembering: The AR Experience.” Created by an award-winning duo (“Captain Marvel” star Brie Larson, who also produces, and writer/director Elijah Allan-Blitz), the 8-minute film is meant to be viewed “through” an iOS tablet or iPhone that you hold up to your TV screen, allowing its camera to activate a QR code that triggers the AR, bringing fanciful objects (trees, rainbows, shooting stars and clouds) to your IRL surroundings. Continue reading Disney+ Shares the ‘Future of Storytelling’ with New AR Short

‘Fortnite’ Metaverse Build-Out Gets iHeartLand Music Venue

Epic Games is getting another major venue in its “Fortnite” metaverse with an iHeartMedia digital headquarters. The complex, iHeartLand, includes a main stage, recording studio and game park. An interesting example of how virtual reality is mapping IRL commercially, the concert venue struck a naming rights deal with insurance company State Farm. In addition to avatar concerts, State Farm Park features a large screen that can display 2D performances, the format chosen by inaugural guest Charlie Puth for his September 9 show. Continue reading ‘Fortnite’ Metaverse Build-Out Gets iHeartLand Music Venue

Summer Blockbusters Bringing Moviegoers Back to Theaters

U.S. audiences have been showing up at theaters to see summer blockbusters, a happy plot twist for an industry that saw the bottom fall out during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Films such as Paramount’s “Top Gun: Maverick” and Universal’s “Jurassic World Dominion” and “Minions: The Rise of Gru” have proven that despite the surge in streaming, audiences will trek out of the home for content that rises to the level of an event. “There’s no question that we’re coming back — in relevance, and in actual behavior,” said Warner Bros. domestic distribution president Jeff Goldstein. Continue reading Summer Blockbusters Bringing Moviegoers Back to Theaters

Sony and Kirkbi Invest $2 Billion in Epic Games’ Meta Vision

Epic Games has raised $2 billion in a funding round that will fuel the company’s ambition to build a metaverse. Investments of $1 billion each came from existing shareholder Sony Group and Kirkbi, the family-owned company that owns 75 percent of the Lego Group. Epic continues to have a single class of common stock outstanding and remains controlled by founder and CEO Tim Sweeney, who launched the company in 1991. The fresh funds — the largest game company raise since 2002, according to PitchBook Data — positions Epic’s post-money equity valuation at $31.5 billion, the company says. Continue reading Sony and Kirkbi Invest $2 Billion in Epic Games’ Meta Vision

Epic’s Unreal Engine 5 Out of Preview and Into Wide Release

After nearly a year in preview, Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 5 is now in general release. Availability of the next-generation real-time 3D platform was announced at Tuesday’s State of Unreal 2022 event. Empowering “both large and small teams to really push the boundaries of what’s possible, visually and interactively,” UE5 offers more fidelity and flexibility than previous iterations. Although it has been battle-tested on “Fortnite” and “The Matrix Awakens” demo for PlayStation 5, Epic says some UE5 features “have not yet been validated for non-games workflows.” Continue reading Epic’s Unreal Engine 5 Out of Preview and Into Wide Release

Disney+ to Roll Out Ad-Supported Plan in U.S. Later This Year

Streaming video service Disney+ plans to introduce an ad-supported subscription tier in the U.S. later this year, with plans to expand the tier internationally in 2023. While the company has yet to announce pricing or specific launch dates, the AVOD plan will cost less than the current $7.99-per-month ad-free version. According to the entertainment giant, the new ad-supported offering is part of a larger goal to attract 230-260 million subscribers globally by the close of Disney’s 2024 fiscal year. Streaming leaders such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video do not currently offer ad-supported options. Disney’s Hulu does offer an ad-supported streaming plan. Continue reading Disney+ to Roll Out Ad-Supported Plan in U.S. Later This Year

Marvel Live-Action Series to Exit Netflix and Move to Disney+

Marvel series are moving from Netflix to Disney+. Beginning March 16, “Daredevil,” “The Defenders,” “Iron Fist,” “Jessica Jones,” “Luke Cage” and “The Punisher” will begin streaming from Disney+ in the U.S., Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. The Netflix licensing rights expired on February 28, reverting back to Marvel parent Disney. “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” will also join the Disney+ streaming fold on March 16 after seven seasons on ABC. The seven series will be made available to the rest of the Disney+ global markets later this year. Continue reading Marvel Live-Action Series to Exit Netflix and Move to Disney+

Disney’s Quarter Reflects Theme Park and Streaming Success

The Walt Disney Company reported record revenue in its theme parks sector and strong gains in streaming, a rather unlikely situation of benefitting from both sides of the COVID-19 pandemic, as Disney+ added 11.8 million new subscribers while people flocked to its location-based U.S. venues. “We’ve had a very strong start to the fiscal year,” said CEO Bob Chapek, announcing “record revenue and operating income at our domestic parks and resorts, the launch of a new franchise with ‘Encanto,’ and a significant increase in total subscriptions across our streaming portfolio” for the company’s first fiscal quarter, ended January 1, 2022. Continue reading Disney’s Quarter Reflects Theme Park and Streaming Success

Snap Renews Major Content Deals and Updates AR Shopping

Snap has secured multiyear global content collaborations with Disney, NBCUniversal and ViacomCBS. The three corporations will not only continue bringing their current shows to Snapchat’s Discover feature, but also individually plan to expand offerings in the future. The deal sees programming from ESPN, Paramount+ and E! returning to the platform. Snap says more than 100 million monthly users watch entertainment content on the short-form Snapchat Discover. The mobile app, which turned 10 last year, reported 306 million daily active users worldwide as of September 30. Continue reading Snap Renews Major Content Deals and Updates AR Shopping

Movies Anywhere Debuts Feature for AI-Enabled List Making

Movies Anywhere, the cloud-based digital locker and OTT streaming platform that allows users to pull together streaming movies from multiple digital stores into a single hub, is now adding an AI-enabled ability to generate personalized lists of those movies. Users have wanted a list-making capability, which will allow them to streamline their lockers, removing multiple listings of the same movie and funneling them into categories. An AI algorithm will keep track of user behavior and organize the list. The “My Lists” tab will be located next to “My Movies.” Continue reading Movies Anywhere Debuts Feature for AI-Enabled List Making

Disney: Streaming Subscription Growth, Theme Parks Reopen

At the end of Q3, Disney+ had 116 million subscribers, exceeding the 112-115 million analysts had predicted. The most popular content included the Pixar animated feature “Luca,” superhero series “Loki” and live-action film “Cruella.” Meanwhile, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products earned a profit of $356 million. Disneyland in California reopened with limited capacity on April 30 after being closed for 14 months. Disney chief executive Bob Chapek said that park bookings are “really strong” despite the surge of COVID-19 cases with the Delta variant.  Continue reading Disney: Streaming Subscription Growth, Theme Parks Reopen

Industry Lures Moviegoers with Special Deals and Screenings

As pandemic rules evolve and movie theaters reopen across the U.S., theater owners in North America with studios and other companies unveiled Cinema Week, a six-day event offering deals for food and drink and advance film screenings. Studios are on track to release major titles, having already unveiled “Godzilla vs. Kong” and “A Quiet Place Part II” to some success. Still, sales are lagging, with Comscore reporting that movies grossed $57 million in the U.S. and Canada last weekend, down 58 percent from the same period in 2019. Special screenings and an array of promotional deals aim to help turn things around. Continue reading Industry Lures Moviegoers with Special Deals and Screenings

Studios, Exhibitors, Actors Pin Big Screen Hopes on Summer

During the COVID-19 pandemic, movie theaters were closed and the industry suffered the economic impacts of the shutdown. This week, at an AMC theater, the five major Hollywood studios, their indie subsidiaries and indie labels such as A24 and Neon gathered to send a unified message: it’s time to go back to the movie theater. Their presence was buttressed by messages from Arnold Schwarzenegger, actor and director John Krasinski, Marvel chief executive Kevin Feige, and musician Questlove (promoting his upcoming movie “Summer of Soul”). Vin Diesel, Ryan Reynolds and Dwayne Johnson were among other notable individuals pushing a return to theaters. Continue reading Studios, Exhibitors, Actors Pin Big Screen Hopes on Summer

Rotten Tomatoes to Debut Channel on Roku, Peacock, Xumo

Rotten Tomatoes has been synonymous with movie scores since it was cooked up by three UC Berkeley undergrads in 1998. The site aggregates reviews from professional critics and provides a “Tomatometer” that averages out the reviews with a Fresh rating when 60 percent or more are positive or Rotten if it goes below that threshold. It also provides an audience score, based on what Rotten Tomatoes users think. Now, the company is debuting an ad-supported OTT service called the Rotten Tomatoes Channel, currently on Roku, to offer nonstop content and a lifestyle brand. Continue reading Rotten Tomatoes to Debut Channel on Roku, Peacock, Xumo

ViacomCBS: Q1 Profit Jumps, More Content for Paramount+

ViacomCBS, owner of CBS, Showtimes and Nickelodeon, reported Q1 revenue surged 14 percent year-over-year to $7.41 billion, up from almost $6.5 billion. Its attributable net income also rose 79 percent to $899 million, compared with $501 in the same quarter last year, for $1.42 per share versus last year’s 81 cents a share. The company’s total streaming subscriber base is 36 million, an addition of 6 million global streaming subscribers, and, led by Paramount+, streaming revenue rose 65 percent to $816 million. Continue reading ViacomCBS: Q1 Profit Jumps, More Content for Paramount+