AMC Expresses ‘Substantial Doubt’ About its Chain’s Survival

AMC Theatres told its investors that “substantial doubt exists about our ability to continue as a going concern for a reasonable period of time.” In a new 8-K filing, ahead of its earning call next week, the company described how it is trying to survive but also stressed how badly the coronavirus pandemic is eroding its financial stability. The movie theater chain had $5 billion in debt by the end of 2019 and continues to borrow more. Adding to its woes is the worry that distributors will postpone new film releases. Continue reading AMC Expresses ‘Substantial Doubt’ About its Chain’s Survival

Coronavirus Leads to an Increase in TV Viewing and Streaming

Nielsen revealed that, as coronavirus cases rose in South Korea, TV viewership increased 17 percent. In Italy, it rose 6.5 percent, with a 12 percent spike in Lombardy, particularly hit hard by the virus. That trend has arrived in the U.S. where, said Nielsen, in the Seattle area total television use (which includes live TV, on-demand viewing, streaming and gaming) rose 22 percent on March 11 from the week before. Streaming also increased 20 percent globally. Still, it may be a short-lived panacea for many media companies. Continue reading Coronavirus Leads to an Increase in TV Viewing and Streaming

HPA Tech Retreat: ETC Outlines Adaptive Production Projects

ETC’s director of adaptive production Seth Levenson described the USC think tank’s array of projects under this umbrella, which include archiving, blockchain, and visual effects standards. The working group on archiving, co-chaired by Paramount Pictures senior vice president asset management Andrea Kalas, is developing best practices for cloud preservation. Levenson pointed to the white paper on “Guidelines for Digital Audio-Visual Assets in the Cloud,” which in part focused on fixity, or getting out the same assets that were uploaded. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: ETC Outlines Adaptive Production Projects

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’s Spring/Summer Newsletter Is Now Available Online

The Entertainment Technology Center’s latest newsletter is currently posted online with updates to new and ongoing projects. Among the key announcements: ETC recently held its Studio Technology Leaders Dinner at USC’s Town & Gown. During the event, Ken Williams announced that Michael Wise of Universal has been named the new ETC Executive Board chairman. Additionally, ETC presented Leon Silverman of Netflix with the Bob Lambert Technology Leadership award. ETC selected four projects to continue with the development phase of its inaugural Immersive Media Challenge, and during a recent All Members Meeting, USC students discussed their opinions about media consumption. Visit the newsletter to read more about these topics and updates to ETC projects involving 5G, AI, adaptive production, quantum computing, archiving and preservation, production in the cloud, and more. Continue reading ETC’s Spring/Summer Newsletter Is Now Available Online

Hollywood Technology Execs Gather at Annual ETC Dinner

The Entertainment Technology Center @ the University of Southern California (ETC) held its 8th annual Studio Technology Leaders Dinner this week, which coincided with the 26th anniversary of ETC’s founding. Executive director & CEO Ken Williams noted that the event, which was underwritten by supporting sponsor Equinix and contributing sponsor WekaIO, would honor industry leader Leon Silverman with the Bob Lambert Technology Leadership Award and feature a panel to examine some of the industry’s most pressing issues in “Media Fundamentals in Flex: Conflict, Chaos or Collaboration.” Continue reading Hollywood Technology Execs Gather at Annual ETC Dinner

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

In a Win for Hollywood, Dragon Media to Shutter Its Services

In January 2018, Amazon, Columbia Pictures, Disney, Netflix, Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Universal and Warner Bros. sued Dragon Media, which manufactured Dragon Box, a “free TV” box that allowed users to watch pirated video without a cable TV or streaming service subscription. The media titans just achieved victory in the case, with Dragon Media agreeing to shut down its services and pay $14.5 million in damages. Under the terms of the agreement, Dragon Media must shut down service in five days. Continue reading In a Win for Hollywood, Dragon Media to Shutter Its Services

Film/TV Restoration Costs Lead to Outsourcing, Say Experts

Thousands of film and TV titles from every decade require restoration, but the money isn’t there to fund much of it, and current restoration jobs are more likely to take place in China or Poland than Los Angeles. That was revealed at an event co-produced by SMPTE and the Visual Effects Society (VES) at the Academy’s Linwood Dunn Theater. Restoration executives and practitioners from the major studios gathered to discuss the technological, artistic and business challenges of bringing classic film and TV titles back to life. Continue reading Film/TV Restoration Costs Lead to Outsourcing, Say Experts

‘Jurassic World VR Expedition’ Is Coming to Dave & Buster’s

Universal, The Virtual Reality Company (VRC), VRstudios and Dave & Buster’s will debut the largest-ever commercial virtual reality deployment on June 14 when the multiplayer “Jurassic World VR Expedition” comes to 112 Dave & Buster’s entertainment restaurants. Universal’s film “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” is slated to open in U.S. theaters on June 22. VRstudios offers the high-end VRcade Attraction Management Platform (AMP) targeted for location-based entertainment sites. Dave & Buster’s executive Kevin Bachus, who co-created the Xbox game console, felt it was a good step for first-time VR users. Continue reading ‘Jurassic World VR Expedition’ Is Coming to Dave & Buster’s

NBCUniversal, Intel, Microsoft, Unity Launch Gaming Contest

NBCUniversal is inviting developers to create games leveraging its popular television and film properties such as “Battlestar Galactica,” “Back to the Future” and “Jaws.” Through the Universal GameDev Challenge — co-sponsored by Universal, Unity Technologies, Intel, and Microsoft — Unity game engine developers can submit pitches to be selected to build out their full vision in PC game form. Winner and runner-up win a consulting contract with Universal, Microsoft and Unity, along with a combined $250,000.

Continue reading NBCUniversal, Intel, Microsoft, Unity Launch Gaming Contest

FandangoNOW Is Latest to Join Movies Anywhere Ecosystem

Movies Anywhere announced that Fandango’s video-on-demand service, FandangoNOW, is the latest retailer to join the digital movie ecosystem. Movies Anywhere provides a central location for movies purchased or redeemed through Apple’s iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, Walmart’s Vudu and FandangoNOW. The service is jointly controlled by five major studios: Sony Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox Film, The Walt Disney Studios, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. Continue reading FandangoNOW Is Latest to Join Movies Anywhere Ecosystem

Studios, Streaming Services Take on TickBox in Copyright Suit

In October, MPAA member studios 20th Century Fox, Columbia, Disney, Paramount, Universal and Warner Bros. teamed with streaming services Amazon and Netflix to sue TickBox TV over copyright infringement. Yesterday in California, U.S. District Judge Michael Fitzgerald sided with the studios and streamers by issuing “a preliminary injunction against the streaming device manufacturer to pause further potential infringement while the litigation plays out,” explains The Hollywood Reporter. “TickBox argues it only offers hardware, on which users can ‘voluntarily install legitimate or illegitimate software,’ and that access to the infringing content came from downloadable ‘themes’ that it didn’t create.” Continue reading Studios, Streaming Services Take on TickBox in Copyright Suit

Amazon, Netflix, MPAA Go After TickBox TV for Infringement

Amazon, Netflix Studios and the Motion Picture Association of America have filed a copyright lawsuit against TickBox TV, a streaming media player the plaintiffs dub a “tool for mass infringement.” TickBox TV works by grabbing pirated video streams from the Internet, the plaintiffs say, giving users “instantaneous access to multiple sources” that stream copyrighted material without authorization. The Hollywood studios that make up the MPAA include Columbia, Disney, Paramount, 20th Century Fox, Universal and Warner Bros. Continue reading Amazon, Netflix, MPAA Go After TickBox TV for Infringement

Incoming MPAA Chief Faces Industry Shifts, New Challenges

Entertainment industry veteran Charles Rivkin is replacing Christopher Dodd this week as the MPAA chief. While the position has historically faced numerous challenges, such as managing consensus among the six major Hollywood studios, Rivkin takes the helm as the industry contends with a growing list of new hurdles: the MPAA has yet to take a stance on the debate over net neutrality rules, Silicon Valley is a growing force in Washington, digital platforms and changes in consumer behavior are impacting theater attendance and traditional distribution models, and media continues to battle global piracy. Continue reading Incoming MPAA Chief Faces Industry Shifts, New Challenges

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