Among the more interesting new paid YouTube channels of the 30 unveiled today are the ones belonging to indie film distributors leading the charge into untested digital and outside-the-box models. Cinedigm relaunched their Docurama brand in April with a library of 1,250 documentary features, also plotting a streaming app for launch this spring which would make more than 150 Docurama titles available for free on multiple devices. Their new curated Docurama YouTube channel could similarly boost digital niche moviewatching and carve a path for other distributors and filmmakers exploring alternative distribution online. For $2.99 a month, users will get access to Docurama’s playlist of docu features and bonus materials refreshed each week, with 25% of those feature offerings being new or recent releases. (All of YouTube’s new premium channels will first launch with a 14-day free trial.) The ambitious growth plan set in motion last year under Cinedigm CEO Chris McGurk so far has also included a plan to help outfit drive-in theaters with digital projectors and last month’s Arthur Newman BitTorrent experiment.
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David Bloom is a contributor to Deadline.
Cinedigm Chief Marketing Officer Jill Calcaterra said the company was delighted with the online uptake of their recent experiment with BitTorrent to promote Arthur Newman, the just-released film starring Colin Firth and Emily Blunt. Under the deal, the file-sharing site was used to distribute 10 minutes of the Cinedigm-distributed film to whomever wanted to download it. “We had 1.4 million downloads in just the first five days”, Calcaterra said today during a panel at the Digital Hollywood conference in Marina del Rey. “That was huge for this little tiny independent film”. Even more importantly, she said, 150,000 of the downloaders then went to the film’s website for more information. Of course, the deal might have attracted hundreds of thousands of possible audience members, but it couldn’t do anything about critic opinion — Arthur Newman’s Metacritic score is a rugged 42, and it made just $108K this weekend in its platform rollout in 248 theaters, a dismal $435 average. Read More »
The stock is up 13.1% this afternoon after the digital cinema company unveiled the deals. It has a $125M senior non-recourse credit facility from a group led by Societe Generale Corporate & Investment Banking, and a $70M non-recourse credit facility from Prospect Capital Corporation. Added to the company’s own cash flow, Cinedigm says that it will refinance its existing $92M non-recourse senior 2010 Term Loan and $98M recourse Note. The refinancing takes advantage of today’s low interest rates. CEO Chris McGurk adds that it also “reaffirms the value of the Company’s digital cinema asset base and positions Cinedigm to accelerate our growth plans.” B. Riley analyst Eric Wold says that the changes should cut $5M from annual interest expenses, and — by removing the recourse debt — eliminates what had been “a major overhang on the stock for years.” He also notes that Moody’s Investor Service just reclassified Cinedigm debt as investment grade, up from speculative. That could help the company to become “a major player in the distribution of indie films and alternative content,” Wold says. Blackstone Advisory Partners advised Cinedigm in the transactions.
The digital cinema company has a mixed report for the quarter that ended in September. The good news is that it installed 875 digital screens in the quarter for a total of 10,852, making this the second-highest installation quarter in its history. The bad news: It compares to last year’s quarter when it installed 1,455 screens, its most ever. That contributed to an increase in Cinedigm‘s net loss to $2.6M, from $230,000 in the period last year, on revenues of $22.6M, +7.5%. The revenue figure was short of the consensus forecast of $24.0M. The net loss of 6 cents a share was on target. But don’t read too much into the forecasts: Few analysts track the company; the average is only based on two projections. Cinedigm execs took pains in a conference call to point out what COO Adam Mizel said were “idiosyncratic events” that affected the quarter. He said that digital movie orders were depressed by the Olympics, studio reluctance to compete with Warner Bros’ The Dark Knight Rises, reduced attendance after the theater shootings in Aurora, CO, and two major rescheduling decisions: Warner Bros moved Gangster Squad to January 2013 from August and Paramount delayed G.I. Joe: Retaliation to March 2013 from this past June. Read More »
After forging a partnership in January to buy distribution rights for independent films, Cinedigm says it will pay at least $14M to buy distribution firm New Video Group outright. The combination will “create a new full service end-to-end digital releasing studio” and enable Cinedigm “to acquire and distribute independent films and specialty content both theatrically and through digital, mobile and home media platforms,” the companies said. New Video co-Presidents Steve Savage and Susan Margolin were named co-Presidents of Cinedigm’s Entertainment Group, which will include their company plus Cinedigm’s theatrical marketing and booking services. They’ll report to Cinedigm CEO Chris McGuirk, who’s engaged in an ambitious effort to boost the company’s output of digitally distributed alternative entertainment for movie theaters. In conjunction with this announcement, Cinedigm says that it will underwrite a public offering of 6M of its Class A shares. Cinedigm’s stock spiked in early February but is down nearly 24% over the last 12 months. Here’s the release about the New Video deal: Read More »
Business school students who want to test their accounting skills should check out today’s fiscal Q3 report from Cinedigm Digital Cinema. The official numbers look scary, with a net loss increasing to $10.6M from $4.1M in the period last year, on revenues of $19.8M, up 23%. But Cinedigm is in the middle of a corporate transformation to focus on providing alternative programming such as sports events and concerts to digitally equipped movie theaters. That loaded $8.1M in non-cash and one-time charges to the books — some of it due to the company’s decision to sell its physical and electronic distribution business to Technicolor for an undisclosed amount. Wipe that away, and you’re left with what CEO Chris McGurk says is a “strong” report with figures that “reflect the progress we’ve made.” Cinedigm shares have been a roller coaster ride since he took over early last year but are up 31% over the last 12 months — including a 50% spike in just the last two weeks following the announcement of a deal with New Video to bring more independent films to theaters.
In a move that creates another formidable buyer at Sundance, Cinedigm Entertainment Group and New Video will partner to bring more independent films into theaters nationwide by fully leveraging advanced digital technology. Cinedigm and New Video will together acquire North American distribution rights to indie films that will be released theatrically, followed by platform release across cable, VOD, digital, and DVD/Blu-ray. The partnership takes advantage of Cinedigm’s position as a digital exhibitor of independent film and alternative content in theatres, and New Video’s digital and physical distribution capabilities. Cinedigm CEO Chris McGurk and New Video co-president Steve Savage feel this gives indie filmmakers a viable alternative and a strong ride through the ancillary road these indie films travel.
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Cinedigm Digital Cinema Corp said today that it has named Adam Mizel its Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer and Gary Loffredo its President of Digital Cinema Services. Both had been co-CEOs since 2010, when founder Bud Mayo retired. Mizel and Loffredo will report to chairman and CEO Chris McGurk, and Loffredo will keep his General Counsel title. The company has been shifting its focus of late to software and content distribution, leveraging its existing digital-cinema platform.
Cinedigm announced today that it has formed Indie Direct, a full-service distribution and marketing platform for indie filmmakers and distributors that will allow producers the ability to manage all facets of digital distribution to be delivered via the company’s digital-cinema system. The suite offerings include booking software, content delivery, sales, distribution strategy, marketing planning and execution, and box office recoupment. The new service already has a couple of clients: ARC Entertainment and Seven Arts Pictures. ARC will release eight titles by year’s end, including its recent Sundance pickup Knuckle. Seven Arts will bow its The Pool Boys on Sept. 30. This is the latest move by Cinedigm to sharpen the company’s focus. During the past couple of months, it has sold off noncore assets in a play to become more of a content-delivery and software company, and Indie Direct falls into that plan.
Cinedigm shares are up 8.7% in after hours trading following the announcement of a deal that clarifies the company’s growing focus on digital entertainment that exhibitors can show at times when many have trouble filling seats. Cinedigm will continue to help theaters install digital projectors, CEO Chris McGurk tells me. But it’s turning over to Technicolor the part of the business that delivers digital entertainment to theaters via satellite or hard drives. ”More and more our focus will be on software and content” says McGurk who ran Anchor Bay Entertainment before moving to Cinedigm in January.
Indeed, over the next two months he says he’ll begin to announce deals with theater owners who’ll let Cinedigm program venues like a TV network. “Monday could be action sports night,” he says. “Tuesday could be opera night. Wednesday could be Broadway night.” He says theaters could sell tickets on a subscription basis. One incentive to sign on: ”We’re going to cut exhibitors in on the downstream VOD, DVD, pay TV and free TV sales from content that debuts in their theaters. I don’t think anyone has ever offered that in exhibition before.” Cinedigm also will continue to offer one-off events similar to the 3D showing in April of a live concert by Foo Fighters.
Meanwhile McGurk says Cinedigm is looking for other deals to help clarify its new direction. “The company is in five different businesses and has had a confusing story to the investment community,” he says. “We’re looking to rationalize our businesses other than software and content.”
Here’s the announcement of the deal with Technicolor: Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: I’ve just learned that former Overture Films CEO and MGM Vice Chairman Chris McGurk is calling studios to let them know he has landed a new gig. The 53-year-old executive has been named chairman/CEO of the publicly traded Cinedigm Digital Cinema Corp, a leader in the digital cinema industry, effective today. McGurk will be based in Los Angeles. Co-Chief Executive Officers Adam Mizel and Gary Loffredo will continue with the company. I hear the deal to bring in McGurk was brokered by ROAR management company.
UPDATE: Cinedigm Digital Cinema just made the announcement. McGurk said he is “impressed with the progress Cinedigm has made in the past six months”. According to the company, in addition to a significant personal purchase of common stock in Cinedigm, McGurk “will receive an option grant to align his interests with those of our shareholders. Under the terms of his employment agreement, pursuant to NASDAQ listing Rule 5635(c)(4), Mr. McGurk will receive an inducement grant of non-statutory options to purchase 4,500,000 shares of the Company’s Common Stock (the “Options”). The Options are grouped in three tranches, consisting of Options for 1,500,000 shares having an exercise price of $1.50 per share, Options for 2,500,000 shares having an exercise price of $3.00 per share and Options for 500,000 shares having an exercise price of $5.00 per share. One-third of the Options in each … Read More »