Movies

Amazon Will Offer Prime Video At Half-Price In All New Markets For Six More Months (ndtv.com) 33

An anonymous reader writes: Amazon is leaving no stones unturned with its Prime Video, which it expanded to over 200 international markets last December. For the last six months, the company has been offering Prime Video, the sticker price of which is $5.99 or 5.99 Euro a month, at $2.99 or 2.99 Euro as part of its "introductory offer". That introductory offer will now be valid till the end of the year, the company said. In comparison, Netflix charges over $9 every month. According to estimates from last year, Amazon Prime Video has four times as many films available for streaming.
Movies

Twitch Announces Six-Day Marathon Of Classic MST3K Episodes (betanews.com) 25

BrianFagioli quotes Beta News: Twitch was designed as a video game streaming service, but since Amazon bought it, it seems to be evolving into something more. While it is still primarily a platform for showing off gaming, people are using it for general videos, broadcasting pretty much anything. Heck, the service has even offered marathons of classic TV shows, such as Mister Rogers' Neighborhood and Power Rangers. Last week Twitch announced its latest marathon offering -- Mystery Science Theater 3000... The "MST3K" marathon will last an impressive six straight days, where 38 episodes will be shown. The experience begins on June 26th at 2pm ET.
Television

Netflix Launches New 'Interactive Shows' That Let Viewers Dictate the Story (thenextweb.com) 104

Netflix announced that it's launching an all-new interactive format that turns viewers in storytellers, letting them dictate each choice and direction the story takes. "In each interactive title, you can make choices for the characters, shaping the story as you go," according to Netflix. "Each choice leads to a different adventure, so you can watch again and again, and see a new story each time." The Next Web reports: The first two interactive shows that will be available on Netflix are Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale and Buddy Thunderstruck: The Maybe Pile. Puss in Book launches globally today, with Buddy Thunderstruck slated to make its debut a month from now on July 14. The new experience will be available on most television setups and iOS devices. "Content creators have a desire to tell non-linear stories like these, and Netflix provides the freedom to roam, try new things and do their best work," Product Innovation director Carla Fisher said. "The intertwining of our engineers in Silicon Valley and the creative minds in Hollywood has opened up this new world of storytelling possibilities." Fisher further added that, for the time being, the streaming service will be mainly focusing its efforts on producing interactive content for children -- especially since their research has shown that they already tend to be prone to interacting with the screen.
Star Wars Prequels

Ron Howard Steps In To Direct Han Solo Movie (hollywoodreporter.com) 89

Two days after directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were let go in the middle of shooting the Star Wars Han Solo spinoff movie, the spot has been filled. Ron Howard has been named the new direct of Lucasfilm and Disney's Han Solo movie, according to The Hollywood Reporter. From the report: Howard, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter, will meet with the actors -- Alden Ehrenreich is playing the iconic smuggler, Donald Glover is playing Lando Calrissian, with Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke and Thandie Newton also on the roll call -- to soothe a rattled set and will pore over a rough edit to see what the project needs. Filming will resume on July 10. Howard, who directed 1995's Apollo 13 and won an Oscar for helming 2002's A Beautiful Mind, comes to the Han Solo film with several connections to George Lucas and the worlds of Lucasfilm. He appeared in Lucas' 1973 breakout film American Graffiti and helmed Lucas' 1988 pet fantasy project Willow. Howard also revealed on a podcast in 2015 that Lucas had approached him to direct 1999's Star Wars prequel The Phantom Menace. Though his recent movies, including Inferno and In the Heart of the Sea, have been costly ventures that underperformed at the box office, Howard is considered to be a safe choice to complete the task, someone who will ably finish the movie while being a calming presence on set.
Star Wars Prequels

Star Wars' Han Solo Spinoff Directors Quit In the Middle of Shooting (theverge.com) 160

hondo77 writes: Due to "different creative visions," Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are no longer directing the Han Solo movie, despite filming having started in January. The film is still scheduled to be released in May 2018. "Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are talented filmmakers who have assembled an incredible cast and crew, but it's become clear that we had different creative visions on this film, and we've decided to part ways. A new director will be announced soon," Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm, said in a statement. The Han Solo spinoff is set to star Alden Ehrenreich as a young Han Solo, with Woody Harrelson as his mentor, Donald Glover as a young Lando Calrissian, and unspecified roles for Emilia Clarke and Thandia Newton.
Anime

New 'Lupin III' Commentary Track Celebrates The Glories Of Ignoring Copyrights (terrania.us) 71

In 2004, film critic Roger Ebert "realized that auteurs weren't the only ones who had things to say about movies, and suggested that experts in other fields or even just fans of the movies could create MP3 commentary tracks to discuss their favorite films, which could then be downloaded and played alongside them." This inspired Slashdot reader #14,247 to produce his own commentary on Hayao Miyazaki's first movie, Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro -- and 13 years later, to release a new commentary track celebrating the film's 35th anniversary. Robotech_Master writes: Among other things, it offers proof that excessive copyright really harms creativity by restricting the uses people are able to make of prior art -- by showing what can happen when people get away with ignoring copyright and creating anyway. Not only were Lupin III and Cagliostro effectively inspired as "fanfic" of characters and works that had come before, many of those characters and works were effectively fanfic themselves -- and Cagliostro in turn inspired parts of a number of other works that came afterward, including a couple by Disney.
Anyone else have a favorite example of a movie that bends the rules of copyright law?
Movies

Studio-Defying VidAngel Launches New Video-Filtering Platform (yahoo.com) 201

Last December VidAngel fought three Hollywood studios in court for the right to stream filtered versions of movies. Now fogez reports that "they have come up with a new tactic in their attempts to bring filtering choice into the streaming media equation. Instead of leveraging the legal loophole that landed them in court, VidAngel is now going to insert themselves as a filtering proxy for services like Netflix and Amazon." From the Hollywood Reporter: Its new $7.99 per month service piggybacks on users' streaming accounts. Customers log into the VidAngel app, link it to their other accounts and then filter out the language, nudity and violence in that content to their heart's desire... "Out of the gate we'll be supporting Netflix and Amazon and HBO through Amazon channels," says Harmon, adding that Hulu, iTunes and Vudu will follow... Harmon says it remains to be seen if the studios will fight VidAngel's new platform, but his biggest concern is how Amazon and Netflix will respond. He says his company has reached out to the streamers, and he hopes they'll raise any concerns through conversation instead of litigation... "VidAngel's philosophy is very libertarian," he says. "Let directors create what they want, and let viewers watch how they want in their own home. That kind of philosophy respects the views of both parties."
The original submission describes the conflict as a "freedom of choice versus Hollywood."
Australia

Movie Piracy Cost Australian Network 'Hundreds of Millions of Dollars' (theaustralian.com.au) 119

Film television piracy and illegal downloads are partly to blame for Australian broadcaster Ten Network's woes, according to Village Roadshow co-chief executive Graham Burke. From a report: He said piracy had cost Ten "hundreds of millions of dollars" in potential advertising revenue because of lower ratings resulting from pirated versions of films supplied by 21st Century Fox under an onerous output deal with the Hollywood studio. He said copies of Fox's Leonardo DiCaprio movie The Revenant and The Peanuts Movie were stolen last year and shared illegally via a piracy website. "Piracy is a much bigger channel and an illicit economy than the three main commercial networks combined. It is ripping off viewers from legitimate, taxpaying enterprises," Mr Burke said. "The product that Ten is buying from 21st Century Fox and is now arriving have been pirated out of sight."
EU

Pirate Bay Is Infringing Copyright, European Court of Justice Rules (theguardian.com) 108

The European court of justice (ECJ) has ruled that BitTorrent site The Pirate Bay is directly infringing copyright, in a move that could lead to ISPs and governments blocking access to other torrent sites across Europe. From a report: The ruling comes after a seven-year legal battle, which has seen the site, founded in Sweden in 2003, blocked and seized, its offices raided, and its three founders fined and jailed. At the heart of the case is the Pirate Bay's argument that, unlike the previous generation piracy sites like Napster, it doesn't host infringing files, nor link to them. Instead, it hosts "trackers," files which tell users of individual BitTorrent apps which other BitTorrent users to link to in order to download large files -- in the Pirate Bay's case, usually, but not exclusively, copyrighted material.
Piracy

HBO, Netflix, Other Hollywood Companies Join Forces To Fight Piracy (theverge.com) 195

New submitter stikves writes: It looks like media and technology companies are forming a group to "fight piracy." The Verge reports: "A group of 30 entertainment companies, including power players like Netflix, HBO, and NBCUniversal, have joined forces today in an effort to fight online piracy. The new group is called the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), and the partnership, while somewhat thin on specifics, will allow the content creators involved to pool resources to conduct research and work closely with law enforcement to find and stop pirates from stealing movies and TV shows. The first-of-its-kind alliance is composed of digital media players, networks, and Hollywood outfits, and all recognize how the internet has paved the way to an explosion in quality online content. However, piracy has boomed as a result: ACE says that last year saw 5.4 billion downloads of pirated films and TV shows." I'm not sure how these statistics hold against real revenue loss (or the imaginary one), however this might be a development to watch for.
Space

SpaceX Releases Ultra-HD 4K Footage Of Falcon 9 Landing (4k.com) 68

An anonymous reader quotes 4K.com: On June 3, SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket was placed into low-orbit for the sake of launching its Dragon spacecraft into their eleventh Commercial Resupply Services mission (CRS-11) to the International Space Station... Last week SpaceX shared on their Youtube channel the remarkable 4K UHD footage of the landing, and since many of us are not used to watching this kind of footage except for Sci-Fi movies or video games, the landing seems almost Hollywood-level surreal, especially since it happens so quickly and accurately. You can watch the video at 4k and 60 fps here if you happen to own a 4K TV or UHD PC monitor with the right hardware specs... The footage above isn't SpaceX's first 4K video of one of its launches. The company has also previously released other videos of even more impressive landings directly onto the surfaces of drone ships.
The article also reminds readers that "If you are by any chance looking to send something or someone out of space, Elon Musk's company offers reasonable prices for their launching services, starting at $62 million for its Falcon 9 and $90 million for the Falcon Heavy."
Movies

What Are Some Documentaries and TV Shows That You Recommend To Others? 278

Reader joshtops writes: Wow thanks for the overwhelming response on my previous post. I'm taking notes and intend to give all of the suggested books a go in the near future. If I may, and I hope the editors approve of this, could you also list some of your favorite TV shows and documentaries? Also, is there any show or documentary you think that changed or influenced your life, or at least your perception on any particular subject?
Television

Hackers Leak Eight Episodes of An Unreleased ABC Show (torrentfreak.com) 87

The hacking entity TheDarkOverlord (TDO) has reportedly leaked Steve Harvey's Funderdome via The Pirate Bay. TDO said they approached ABC "with a most handsome business proposal" not to leak eight episodes of the ABC show but was "rudely denied an audience." TorrentFreak reports: Late April, a hacking group calling itself TheDarkOverlord (TDO) warned that unless a ransom was paid, it would begin leaking a trove of unreleased TV shows and movies. Almost immediately it carried through with its threat by leaking the season five premiere of Netflix's Orange is The New Black. The leak was just the start though, with another nine episodes quickly following. Netflix had clearly refused to pay any ransom. "We've just released ABC's 'Steve Harvey's Funderdome' Season 01 Episodes 01 through 08. This is a completely unaired show," TDO told TF. Ever since there have been suggestions that TDO could leak additional material. It was previously established that the Orange is the New Black leak was the result of a breach at post-production studio Larson Studios. TDO previously indicated that it had more content up its sleeve from the same location. During the past few hours that became evident when a message sent to TF heralded a new leak of yet another unaired show. TDO refused to confirm where it had obtained the content but since the show was present in an earlier list distributed by TDO, it seems possible if not probable that the episodes were also obtained from Larson. We're unwilling to discuss the source of this material, but we'll go on the record stating that this is content that is owned by American Broadcasting Company and it's just been released on the world wide web for everyone's consumption," TDO said.
Piracy

Hollywood Sees Illegal Streaming Devices as 'Piracy 3.0' (torrentfreak.com) 178

After hunting down torrent sites for more than a decade, Hollywood now has a more complex piracy threat to deal with. From a report: Piracy remains a major threat for the movie industry, MPA Stan McCoy said yesterday during a panel session at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Much like Hollywood, copyright infringers are innovators who constantly change their "business models" and means of obtaining content. Where torrents were dominant a few years ago, illegal streaming devices are now the main threat, with McCoy describing their rise as Piracy 3.0. "Piracy is not a static challenge. The pirates are great innovators in their own right. So even as we innovate in trying to pursue these issues, and pursue novel ways of fighting piracy, the pirates are out there coming up with new business models of their own," McCoy said. "If you think of old-fashioned peer-to-peer piracy as 1.0, and then online illegal streaming websites as 2.0, in the audio-visual sector, in particular, we now face challenge number 3.0, which is what I'll call the challenge of illegal streaming devices."
Businesses

Movie Studios Are Blaming Rotten Tomatoes For Killing Movies No One Wants To See (qz.com) 316

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and Baywatch were never going to be critical darlings. Both movies led the domestic box office to its worst Memorial Day weekend showing in nearly 20 years. Quartz adds: In the fallout, are Hollywood producers blaming the writers? The actors? Themselves? (Of course not.) No, they are blaming Rotten Tomatoes. They say the movie-review site, which forces critics to assign either a rotten or fresh tomato to each title when submitting reviews, regardless of the nuances of their critiques, poisoned viewers against the films before they were released. "Insiders close to both films blame Rotten Tomatoes, with Pirates 5 and Baywatch respectively earning 32% and 19% Rotten. The critic aggregation site increasingly is slowing down the potential business of popcorn movies. Pirates 5 and Baywatch aren't built for critics but rather general audiences, and once upon a time these types of films -- a family adventure and a raunchy R-rated comedy -- were critic-proof. Many of those in the industry severely question how Rotten Tomatoes computes the its ratings, and the fact that these scores run on [the movie-ticket buying site] Fandango (which owns RT) is an even bigger problem," Deadline reported. [...] The site has a separate score that measures audience reception, which it displays next to the critic rating. And quite a few smell what The Rock is cooking -- 70% of Baywatch viewers on Rotten Tomatoes said they liked it. But the critic score is what many people look to when deciding whether to spend their hard-earned money at the cinema. Also read: Hollywood Producer Blames Rotten Tomatoes For Convincing People Not To See His Movie.
Businesses

Bill Simmons Says ESPN Blew It By Not Embracing Tech (cnbc.com) 120

An anonymous reader shares an article: ESPN's problem isn't competition over content: They didn't position themselves for a future where cord cutting was a reality, according to former ESPN personality Bill Simmons. "They didn't see a lot of this coming," said Simmons. "They didn't see cord cutting coming. They weren't ready for it. A lot of decisions were made based on subs staying at a certain level. They had to realize they were a technology company. The ones winning are now Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Hulu. ESPN should have been in that mix, but they're in Bristol. They should have had a place in Silicon Valley. That was their biggest mistake." ESPN is far from over, Simmons points out. Though it may make less money in the future, it has such strong cable deals, he said. "Everybody in here was paying $7 for ESPN whether they watched or not," he said. Simmons left ESPN in May 2015 after a public breakup, and signed a deal for an HBO series called "Any Given Wednesday" shortly after. The HBO show was cancelled in November 2016. Simmons also launched a new website called The Ringer in 2016. Also read Bloomberg's profile of executives at the company: ESPN Has Seen the Future of TV and They're Not Really Into It.
Businesses

Hollywood Is Fighting Billionaire Sean Parker's Plan To Let You Rent Movies Still in Theaters For $50 (businessinsider.com) 139

Billionaire Sean Parker's plans to bring movies to your home as soon as they release in theatres has hit new roadblocks. After receiving praises for "Screening Room" from directors and producers Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, J.J. Abrams, and Peter Jackson, as well as Hollywood studios, the buzz for the startup has started to wane. From a report: Though Parker and cofounder Prem Akkaraju have promoted the company in the last two years at CinemaCon, it's gotten little traction due to a naivete of the industry, competitors, and studios' and theater chains' decade-long discussion about how to move forward on Premium VOD (PVOD) (alternative source), Business Insider has learned. "Everything you've heard in the press about studios and theaters wanting to explore a PVOD window, nothing about that revolves around Screening Room," a source close to the talks told Business Insider. Screening Room's main pitch to studios and exhibitors has been that it can bring added revenue to all sides of the equation. Out of the proposed $50 rental fee, 20% would go to the movie's distributor, and a participating theater chain would get up to $20 of the fee, plus each customer receives two tickets to see that rented title at their local theater. Screening Room would take 10% of each fee. Sources told Business Insider that all of the bells and whistles Screening Room is selling don't matter until the studios and theaters can agree on a Premium VOD (or PVOD) window. Industry players don't want movies to be available on PVOD simultaneously with theatrical release dates because the first two weeks of a theatrical run are still when studios and exhibitors get a majority of a movie's income. Also read: Sean Parker Is Going To Great Lengths To Ensure 'Screening Room' Is Piracy Free, Patents Reveal.
Businesses

For Video Soundtracks, Computers Are the New Composers (npr.org) 171

Reader jader3rd writes: NPR has a story about computer composed soundtracks being used for small video projects.

Ed Newton-Rex, the company's founder, is a composer who studied computer programming, and says he started to ask himself: "Given what we know about how music's put together, why can't computers write music yet?" "You basically make a bunch of choices that really anyone can relate to," Rex says. "That's one of our aims. We wanted to make it as simple as possible, [to] really democratize the process of creation." Despite the successes there's been limited investment, because audiences and producers are uncomfortable with it. "On the credits they don't want to see 'Composed by Computer Program Experiments in Musical Intelligence by David Cope,' " he says. "It's the last thing they want to show their audience."

But how much longer will that last, until audiences are comfortable with seeing that a movies soundtrack was computer composed?


Businesses

Sean Parker Is Going To Great Lengths To Ensure 'Screening Room' Is Piracy Free, Patents Reveal (torrentfreak.com) 141

Napster co-founder Sean Parker has been working on his new service called Screening Room, which when becomes reality, could allow people to watch the latest Hollywood blockbusters in their living room as soon as they premiere at the box office. This week we get a glimpse at the kind of technologies Parker is using to ensure that the movies don't get distributed easily. From a report: Over the past several weeks, Screening Room Media, Inc. has submitted no less than eight patent applications related to its plans, all with some sort of anti-piracy angle. For example, a patent titled "Presenting Sonic Signals to Prevent Digital Content Misuse" describes a technology where acoustic signals are regularly sent to mobile devices, to confirm that the user is near the set-top box and is authorized to play the content. Similarly, the "Monitoring Nearby Mobile Computing Devices to Prevent Digital Content Misuse" patent, describes a system that detects the number of mobile devices near the client-side device, to make sure that too many people aren't tuning in. The general technology outlined in the patents also includes forensic watermarking and a "P2P polluter." The watermarking technology can be used to detect when pirated content spreads outside of the protected network onto the public Internet. "At this point, the member's movie accessing system will be shut off and quarantined. If the abuse or illicit activity is confirmed, the member and the household will be banned from the content distribution network," the patent reads. [...] Screening Room's system also comes with a wide range of other anti-piracy scans built in. Among other things, it regularly scans the Wi-Fi network to see which devices are connected, and Bluetooth is used to check what other devices are near.
Movies

Resident Evil Getting Rebooted Into a Six-Film Franchise (variety.com) 202

Martin Moszkowicz, chairman of the board at Constantin Film, confirmed to Variety at the Cannes Film Festival that the "Resident Evil" movie franchise is getting rebooted into a six-film franchise. From the report: The franchise was set to end with this year's "Resident Evil: The Final Chapter," which grossed $312 million worldwide after its January release, including an eye-popping $160 million in China alone. Sony helped sow the seeds of success by securing a release for "Resident Evil: Afterlife" and "Resident Evil: Extinction" in China. Based on the Capcom video game, the series launched in 2002 with Paul W.S. Anderson directing, and Anderson, Jeremy Bolt, Bernd Eichinger, and Samuel Hadida producing the first of a six-movie series. The "Resident Evil" movie franchise has earned $1.2 billion worldwide to date, making it Europe's most successful independent horror-genre movie franchise in history and the highest-grossing film series to be based on a video game.

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