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Amazon is looking beyond the small screen with potential cinema chain

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Amazon could be looking to buying a chain of cinemas.

Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

“Amazon has already established brick-and-mortar stores selling its products and groceries, and now it apparently wants a slice of the cinema business.

As reported by Bloomberg, Amazon is looking to acquire Landmark Theatres, which claims to be the largest cinema chain dedicated to independent and foreign films, with 52 theatres in 27 markets.

The e-commerce giant is reportedly working with other suitors to buy the chain from Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner-backed Wagner/Cuban Cos. There have been no decisions made, and with talks still to come, it’s not set in stone that a deal will go ahead.

The potential move into brick-and-mortar cinema echoes Amazon’s efforts to look further than its online presence in recent years, as evidenced by its real-life bookstores and its foray into checkout-free grocery shopping, Amazon Go, not to mention its $14 billion acquisition of grocery chain Whole Foods.

But Amazon’s potential entry into physical cinemas could help further sure up the profile of its Amazon Studios films, such as Manchester by the Sea, an Amazon Original which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture in 2017.

Despite the accolades, there is general tension between newfangled streaming services and the film industry. These concerns are primarily directed to the biggest disrupter of them all, Netflix, which is aggressive in its stance to only show its own films on its service.

Steven Spielberg said earlier this year that Netflix films which either don’t show in cinemas, or only for a short time to satisfy movie awards criteria, shouldn’t get accolades like an Oscar.

“Once you commit to a television format, you’re a TV movie. If it’s a good show, deserve an Emmy, but not an Oscar,” Spielberg told ITV News.

“I don’t believe films that are just given token qualifications in a couple of theaters for less than a week should qualify for the Academy Award nomination.”

Although Amazon is also a disruptor, it sticks to convention when it comes to distribution. It runs movies in cinemas for months before they sit on Prime Video, and is public about ensuring its films screen in theaters.”

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/08/16/amazon-cinema-landmark-theatres/

New Movie Tech

YouTube quietly added free, ad-supported movies to its site

Charmaine Blake

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“YouTube quietly added around 100 ad-supported Hollywood movies to its site, beginning last month, according to a new report from AdAge. The titles include a mix of classics like “Rocky” and “The Terminator,” as well as other family fare like “Zookeeper,” “Agent Cody Banks,” and “Legally Blonde,” among others.

Before, YouTube had only offered consumers the ability to purchase movies and TV shows, similar to how you can rent or buy content from Apple’s iTunes or Amazon Video.

Currently, YouTube is serving ads on these free movies, but the report said the company is open to working out other deals with advertisers – like sponsorships or exclusive screenings.

YouTube’s advantage in this space, compared with some others, is its sizable user base of 1.9 billion monthly active users and its ability to target ads using data from Google .

The addition of a an ad-supported movies marketplace on YouTube follows Roku’s entry into this market, which began last year with the launch of its free collection of movies, called The Roku Channel.

This year, Roku has been expanding the type of content on that channel to also include things like live news from ABC News, Cheddar, Newsmax, Newsy, People TV, Yahoo and The Young Turks, and – more recently – entertainment and live sports. 

Walmart also offers its own free movies collection through Vudu, and recently teamed up with MGM on original content for the service. Tubi operates a streaming service with free, ad-supported content, too. And Amazon is rumored to be working on something similar.”

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2018/11/16/youtube-quietly-added-free-ad-supported-movies-to-its-site/

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Apple partners with A24, the studio behind Moonlight and Hereditary

Charmaine Blake

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“Apple has signed a multi-year agreement with A24, which will see the film studio producing multiple movies for Apple.

Not much else is known about the deal yet — not the number of films, their genres or the talent involved. Still, the deal suggests that Apple is going to be investing seriously in original films, along with TV shows.

Over the past year or so, Apple’s been releasing a steady drumbeat of content announcements, for shows like an adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation” novels, a drama set in the world of morning TV starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon and a series from “La La Land” director Damien Chazelle. What’s less clear is how Apple plans to distribute theses shows and movies, though there have been reports that it will give the content away for free to people who own iOS and tvOS devices.

A24, meanwhile, is a relatively new studio launched in 2012. It’s quickly established itself as a home for critically acclaimed films like “Moonlight” (winner of the Oscar for Best Picture) and “Lady Bird.” It’s also released some of the best science fiction and horror movies of the past few years, including “Ex Machina,” “The Lobster” and “Hereditary” (which gave me nightmares for a solid week).

The studio’s films have had a significant presence on streaming, thanks to an early, exclusive deal with Amazon Prime, but A24 has also had success in theaters — particularly noteworthy at a time when ambitious, original films seem increasingly likely to premiere on services like Netflix. In fact, Variety notes that this year has been A24’s most financially successful yet, thanks in large part to ‘Hereditary.'”

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2018/11/15/apple-a24/

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Roku expands its free streaming channel with entertainment and live sports

Charmaine Blake

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“Roku’s ad-supported free streaming channel is expanding. No, not to more platforms — it already did that. But rather, it’s expanding its content lineup. While before the channel offered free-to-stream movies and news, it will now feature live and linear sports and entertainment content, the company says.

As of earlier this year, The Roku Channel added live news from ABC News, Cheddar, Newsmax, Newsy, People TV, Yahoo and, most recently, The Young Turks, from the TYT Network.

It will now add entertainment content from partners including TMZ, AFV, FailArmy, People Are Awesome, Pet Collective and more. As with the channel’s other offerings, none of these streams will require a subscription.

Meanwhile, the channel will also begin to stream live sporting events from the Adventure Sports Network, COMBT GO, EDGEsport, Stadium and Wham Network, among others.

The additions come on the heels of Roku’s Q3 earnings, which saw the company beat Wall Street expectations on hardware, but saw platform revenue falling short — causing the stock to drop.

The company has been trying to move beyond being only a hardware device maker selling TVs and streaming players, to grow its platform business and advertising revenues. A key part of that strategy is The Roku Channel, which opens up Roku’s platform to a wider audience, and allows the company to sell ads against content.

The plan may work in the long run, but it’s taking time to ramp up, it seems.

However, Roku did report a growing user base with 23.8 million active users, streaming 6.2 billion hours in the quarter. That was ahead of expectations of 23.1 million users and 5.8 billion hours.”

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2018/11/08/roku-expands-its-free-streaming-channel-with-entertainment-and-live-sports/

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