VOX MEDIA buys GROUP NINE (The Dodo, Pop Sugar) in big digital publishing merger
NETFLIX'S aggressive move in INDIA / FOX Ben Affleck pic going to HULU / PEACOCK sets SPECTRUM distro deal
Mornin! This is Sean McNulty and here’s the Hollywood + Media news to know on TUESDAY December 14, 2021.
Where Brad Pitt is restoring a legendary music recording studio on the land of his French winery, so now there are two places I will never be invited to on the same piece of land 👍. PINK FLOYD’s “The Wall” was recorded there, and artists from AC/DC to THE CURE recorded there in the 70’s and 80’s. Totally sober.
ALSO: The Independent Spirit Award nominations come out today at 10a - they should be here when posted.
📽 THE SILVER SCREEN
The Adrian Lyne (“Fatal Attraction”) directed pic previously had a Jan 14 release date in theaters but that was pulled last week. Will stream on HULU in the US, and AMAZON PRIME overseas.
It’s a NEW REGENCY movie so perhaps they had the say on the international deal with AMAZON. No word on a release timeline. Given the genre / solid adult target demo… probably a good call with the Box Office likelyhood that awaited it. /Deadline
Well so much for the 45-day window thing. Has a Feb 11 Valentine’s Day weekend 😍 release date, as COMCAST continues to double down on the 2022 PEACOCK love (also see MEDIA BIZ section below). /THR
ALSO IN MOVIES
The 2021 BLACK LIST script… well, list is out 📝. Loglines / writers for each script in the link, includes movies about YE recording his first album, and one involving Michael Bay as a main character.
And DEADLINE’s breakdown by representation company is here for the inclined. /THR
NEW REGENCY re-ups their long standing distribution deal with (DISNEY)FOX, begins with David O. Russell’s next movie currently in production. /THR
SAUDI ARABIAN Government continues to try and buy back Hollywood, offering a 40% tax rebate for films shot in the country, whose leader ordered the murder and dismemberment of an American journalist.
No word if movies with LGTBQ+ characters will be allowed to film there… since they’re not allowed to be shown there. /THR
📺 THE TV SET
Not too much known, other than it’s from Mark Protosevich (“I Am Legend”, “Poseidon”), has a working title of “Sugar”, and is thought to be in the private detective genre, possibly with a sci-fi bent (though really, see gif 👆).
Oh and that it was in a bit of a bidding war before APPLE TV+ added an extra 0 💰. I mean it’s parent is closing in on being worth $3 Trillion this week so… yeah, dad’s got a few bucks lying around. /Deadline
Seemingly a big rationale for the deal will be making TV movies for FOX CORP’s free TUBI streaming service. No pricetag revealed… but DEADLINE says “sources” put it at $100 Million.
ALSO IN TV
It got 1.7 Million viewers across HBO & HBOMAX on Sunday, up from 1.4 Million for the premiere.
Change atop Alex Kurtzman’s CBS production outfit SECRET HIDEOUT (all the “Star Trek” series at PAR+) - Heather Kadin is leaving after 12 years to “pursue other opportunities”, SVP of TV Aaron Baiers will now lead the company as Prez with Alex. /THR
💻 THE MEDIA BIZ
Digital publisher VOX (RECODE, EATER, CURBED etc) will add GROUP NINE’s brands like THE DODO, POP SUGAR, and THRILLIST to the mix… which already also includes NEW YORK Mag & digital properties (VULTURE, THE CUT etc) that VOX bought about 2 years ago.
VOX will control 75% of the new company and their CEO Jim Bankoff will run it. GROUP NINE head Ben Lerner gets a board seat on the new company (still called VOX MEDIA).
DISCOVERY currently pretty much owns GROUP NINE so they are seemingly bowing out of digital publishing as they prepare for the whole WARNER MEDIA thing. German publisher AXEL SPRINGER was also an investor in GROUP NINE.
Although notably in extremely coincidental timing… GROUP NINE just secured a DISCOVERY+ first look deal for 30 projects last week.
The deal is expected to close in early 2022, no $$ #s of note to report as of yet, although the combined company would have revenue of about $700 Million. /WSJ or the NY TIMES piece recapping the WSJ piece is here
For those of you playing at home, Digital Publisher consolidation now stands at:
BUZZFEED + COMPLEX now a famously public company
DOTDASH + MEREDITH deal just went thru (owned by Barry Diller’s IAC)
VOX + GROUP NINE + NEW YORK Media
AXEL SPRINGER (INSIDER, MORNING BREW & German publications)
The solo outliers remain: CONDE NAST… BUSTLE… NY TIMES… GANNETT… VICE (& REFINERY29)…and HEARST to some degree although they still have decent TV holdings. Think that’s everyone.
So that’s about 16 Million people who now can watch the J Lo movie on Valentine’s Day (although it is the ad-supported version). COMCAST and COX customers get it for free already.
SPECTRUM Internet-only customers also geting in on the rom-com fun, they’re get 90 days free. Access starts on Monday. /Variety
If you’ve read this newsletter for a few months (first - thanks!), you know that 1/3 of the DISNEY+ subscriber base is in INDIA (roughly about 43 Million accounts), where people pay as little as $7 a year for it. Many likely do so because the DISNEY+ HOTSTAR service (as it’s called there) holds the Cricket League streaming rights. For now (they’re up after next season).
Other competitor AMAZON PRIME reportedly about 17 Million subscribers. And also has very cheap rates in the country - Although to note: they’re raising their prices 50% this week to about $2.40 a month.
NETFLIX reportedly only has about 5 Million, so - they’re cutting their prices as AMAZON goes higher, in a major bid to compete:
The “basic” plan is getting a 60% cut to $2.60 a month
The mobile-only plan is taking a 25% cut to $2 a month
May be a bit late to make a big dent in NETFLIX’s Q4 subscriber #s, but Q1 2022 should be interesting. /Deadline
ALSO IN MEDIA
DISNEY threatening to pull ABC, ESPN from YOUTUBE TV on Friday when current agreement ends… but is “optimistic” they’ll come to a new carriage agreement in time. So last week it was GOOGLE / YOUTUBE and ROKU in a carriage agreement spat… this week it’s DISNEY and GOOGLE/YT - The more the busines changes… the more it hasn’t changed at all in 30 years. /THR
Renown Hollywood & Media analyst & research company MOFFETT NATHANSON sells to investment bank SVB Financial Group. No price indicated. /THR
🏦 STOCK NOTES:
PELOTON popped 7% post-Big return from the dead. Ah stock market… never change.
AMC THEATERS -15% ($23.24), IMAX -5% ($17.35), CINEWORLD (REGAL Theaters) down almost 8%, as Omicron fears start to take hold as cases rise.
SNAP -5% ($48.14)
AMC NETWORKS -5% ($37.09)
👩💻 NEW TO WATCH:
I’ll probably check out the NBC 2 episode preview of “Grand Crew” and “The Voice” finale at 9p as I write tomorrow’s email but ya’ll are on your own.
If you were sent this newsletter or… just kinda found it:
🎥 TRAILER HOUSE
WB PICTURES “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” trailer - In theaters April 15. (sorry HBOMAX).
APPLE TV+ “Servant” Season 3 trailer - Drops on Fri Jan 21
HBO “The Gilded Age” series trailer - From “Downton Abbey” creator Juilan Fellowes, Debuts… Monday Jan 24 .
HBO “Insecure: The End” trailer - A docu-special dropping on HBOMAX Sun Dec 26 to look back at the landmark series.
🎧 PLAYING ME OFF
NE-YO “I Want to Come Home for Christmas” - Just one of my favorite Christmas season jams, so enjoy some holiday cheer from the great “Best Man Holiday” soundtrack.
If you need new tunes:
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