Amazon Opens Stage 15: New LA Virtual Production Facility

Amazon Studios has officially opened its 34,000-square-foot virtual production stage in Culver City, California. On hand for the Monday ribbon-cutting ceremony was director Reginald Hudlin, whose Eddie Murphy-starrer “Candy Cane Lane” will be the first feature to shoot there. Once the set for films including “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “RoboCop,” Stage 15 has undergone a transformation from its original 1940 configuration, now housing a wall of more than 3,000 LED panels as well as 100 motion capture cameras in what is LA’s largest virtual production stage. Continue reading Amazon Opens Stage 15: New LA Virtual Production Facility

Cinedigm Teams with ROW8 to Bring ‘Still in Theaters’ to TV

Cinedigm, a streaming firm that debuted its Cineverse platform this summer, is introducing the ability to rent fresh theatrical films via a partnership with ROW8, a subscription-free cinema OTT service launched in 2018. Cinedigm says the partnership allows it to market content on Cineverse that’s “still in theaters” via TVOD (transactional video on-demand). The agreement is reciprocal, with ROW8 able to offer Cinedigm’s own upcoming theatrical releases to Android and iOS, Apple TV, Google TV, Roku players, Vizio and other mobile devices. Cinedigm claims to be platform agnostic. Continue reading Cinedigm Teams with ROW8 to Bring ‘Still in Theaters’ to TV

YouTube Launches a Streaming Hub for Subscription Services

In Google’s ongoing bid to become a one-stop destination for video entertainment, the company’s YouTube has launched a U.S. streaming marketplace called Primetime Channels that debuts with 34 services, including Paramount+, Showtime, AMC+ and Starz. The company jumps in the ring with Amazon, Apple and Roku, all of which offer streaming subscriptions directly through their platforms, although none has managed to secure every major on-demand outlet. YouTube, the leader in free video streaming says it has integrated Primetime Channels among user-uploaded content, making it easy for viewers to hop from free trailers to subscription purchases. Continue reading YouTube Launches a Streaming Hub for Subscription Services

Amazon Plans to Continue Diversifying Despite Tough Times

Despite slowing e-commerce sales growth and signs of a global recession, Amazon plans to continue diversifying through investments like building a brick-and-mortar grocery chain, launching a satellite network for Internet delivery, expanding Alexa services, and developing self-driving cars — including through Zoox, an autonomous taxi subsidiary. That was the message from company CEO Andy Jassy at the Bloomberg Technology Summit in San Francisco. The remarks come after Amazon posted its first quarterly loss in seven years in Q1, which also marked the company’s slowest revenue growth since 2001. Continue reading Amazon Plans to Continue Diversifying Despite Tough Times

Amazon Closes $8.5B Deal for MGM, FTC Watches in Wings

Amazon completed its $8.5 billion acquisition of MGM late last week. The companies finalized the deal immediately upon expiration of the Federal Trade Commission’s mid-March deadline to object, though the agency let it be known that it can challenge a deal any time it finds cause. Amazon in May announced intent to acquire MGM, which has a library of more than 4,000 films and some 17,000 TV episodes as well as ongoing production in both areas. In August, a group of four labor unions collectively urged the FTC to quash Amazon’s bid. Continue reading Amazon Closes $8.5B Deal for MGM, FTC Watches in Wings

Apple Joins Top Streaming Video Services in the Oscar Race

Streaming services had another strong showing with the latest Oscar nominations. Apple TV+ received six nominations, including its first in the Best Picture category for “CODA,” also groundbreaking as the first film with a majority deaf cast to contend in the top category. Apple acquired the film at last year’s Sundance Film Festival where it set a record with its $25 million bid. Apple also got noticed for Joel Coen’s “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” which earned Denzel Washington a Best Actor nod and is competing for Best Production Design and Best Cinematography. When the contenders were announced Tuesday morning, it was Netflix that tallied the largest haul, with 27 nominations, the most of any studio.  Continue reading Apple Joins Top Streaming Video Services in the Oscar Race

Amazon Achieves Success in Gaming with MMO ‘New World’

After some false starts, Amazon has released its first hit original video game production, “New World,” and company CEO Andy Jassy is predicting games could become the biggest category in entertainment programming. The new MMORPG, fraught with archers and axe wielders colonizing a fantastical land, scored one of Steam’s biggest launches with more than one million players logging on for launch day last week. The momentum hasn’t slowed down, with more than 277,000 gameplay viewers on Amazon’s live streaming service Twitch and over 700,000 concurrent players on Steam. Continue reading Amazon Achieves Success in Gaming with MMO ‘New World’

Comcast Adds Record Q2 Broadband and Cable Customers

Comcast posted Q2 results that beat Wall Street expectations: revenue of $28.55 billion versus the $27.18 billion predicted by Refinitiv, and adjusted earnings per share of 84 cents, versus Refinitiv’s prediction of 67 cents. Comcast said its NBCUniversal’s streaming service Peacock is now at 54 million subscribers. Meanwhile, Comcast’s high-speed Internet service added 354,000 customers (its highest ever for Q2), versus StreetAccount’s estimate of 270,000. Comcast also had its second best Q2 for total customer relationships, adding 294,000. Continue reading Comcast Adds Record Q2 Broadband and Cable Customers

Netflix Still Confident Despite New Rivals and Slowed Growth

In Q2, Netflix added 1.5 million new subscribers, slower growth after a peak at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the company isn’t worried, telling investors that it is “mostly competing with ourselves to improve our service as fast as we can.” “If we do that, we’re confident we can maintain our strong position and continue to grow nicely as we have been for the past two-plus decades,” Netflix said, adding that it doesn’t view any particular assets as “must-have,” and that consolidation isn’t impacting its growth. Meanwhile, the company is facing new competitors in the streaming space. Continue reading Netflix Still Confident Despite New Rivals and Slowed Growth

Steven Spielberg and Netflix Sign Multi-Year Filmmaking Deal

Influential and commercially successful filmmaker Steven Spielberg signed a multi-year deal with streaming service Netflix to make new films under the aegis of his Amblin Partners studio. Spielberg still retains his long-term relationship with Comcast’s Universal Pictures, where Amblin Partners is based. The deal is a win for Netflix, which faces increasing competition from new streaming services including Disney+, HBO Max and Amazon, which is acquiring the MGM movie and television studio with its James Bond franchise in a deal worth $8.45 billion. Continue reading Steven Spielberg and Netflix Sign Multi-Year Filmmaking Deal

Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos Will Step Down as CEO on July 5

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos will officially leave his position as chief executive on July 5, and Amazon Web Services chief executive Andy Jassy will take over the Amazon CEO position. The departure of Bezos was originally announced in a February earnings report but a specific date was not revealed. Bezos said July 5 is “sentimental” because it was the date Amazon was incorporated in 1994. Bezos will become executive chair, focusing his attention on “new products and early initiatives.” He said he expects Jassy to be “an outstanding leader.” Continue reading Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos Will Step Down as CEO on July 5

Quibi Shutters Video Platform That Targeted Mobile Viewers

After launching only six months ago, Quibi is shuttering its doors. According to sources, Quibi founder Jeffrey Katzenberg called investors to give them the news. As a startup, Quibi raised $1.75 billion but, since its debut, failed to sign up subscribers, garnered low download numbers and faced a well-funded lawsuit from interactive video company Eko, which claimed credit for its video streaming technology. Quibi also contended with the coronavirus pandemic while promoting a mobile platform. Katzenberg envisioned Quibi as “quick bites” of 5- to 10-minute videos formatted for the mobile screen. Continue reading Quibi Shutters Video Platform That Targeted Mobile Viewers

AMC Is Running Out of Cash, Sells Some Shares and Assets

AMC Entertainment, the world’s largest movie theater chain, will run out of cash by the end of 2020 if current conditions do not change. Although it’s reopened 83 percent of its U.S. theaters, attendance is down 85 percent from a year ago. In September, AMC set a goal of raising $180 million but so far has raised only about $37.8 million by selling shares. Other fundraising options include taking on debt or selling assets. AMC sold its nine theaters in Europe’s Baltic region of Europe for about $77 million. Continue reading AMC Is Running Out of Cash, Sells Some Shares and Assets

Quibi Misses Paid Subscriber Goal, Looks at Funding Options

Quibi, the OTT streaming service focused on short-form mobile video founded by Jeffrey Katzenberg and launched in April 2020, is struggling to gain subscribers in a crowded marketplace. According to sources, the company is considering its options, including raising more money, going public via a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) that helps fund deals, or a sale. Sources added that the company has enough cash for several months and is not expected to shut down in the near future. Continue reading Quibi Misses Paid Subscriber Goal, Looks at Funding Options

Judge Rules in Favor of Ending Paramount Consent Decrees

U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres approved the Justice Department’s proposal to terminate the 71-year-old Paramount Consent Decrees, intended to prevent Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, Paramount and other major studios from owning both the means of production and distribution. Studios such as The Walt Disney Company and Lionsgate that became distributors after the law went into effect were not subject to its rules. Last fall, the Justice Department suggested the Decrees were anachronistic in today’s entertainment ecosystem. Continue reading Judge Rules in Favor of Ending Paramount Consent Decrees