Plus-2 streaming services with plus signs: Epix will be rebranded as MGM+ in January 2023, the company revealed Wednesday. Also Wednesday: Starz announced it will rebrand international streaming service STARZPLAY as Lionsgate+. We’re told this was coincidence but still, good grief.
While Lionsgate has long stated that it plans to sell or spin off Starz, Lionsgare also filed this SEC statement today: “Despite the volatile market environment, Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. remains on a path to separating our Starz and studio businesses. As negotiations progress, we have increased our focus on the possibility of spinning our studio business, creating a number of financial and strategic benefits. In that regard, we are continuing productive negotiations with prospective strategic and financial partners on both sides of our business.”
In other words, it still may sell or spin off Starz; or, it might spin off the Lionsgate studio instead. Decisions, decisions, which require buyers, buyers. We were supposed to have one of those for Starz by now, according to previous company guidance.
Starz will remain Starz in the U.S. and Canada — for now, at least. STARZPLAY will become Lionsgate+ on Thursday, September 29.
“We recognized the potential of the global OTT market early, and over the last few years we have built an incredible global streaming service, which has become a destination for audiences seeking premium, provocative programming,” Jeffrey Hirsch, the president and CEO of Starz said in a statement shared with media on Wednesday.
“Operating under Lionsgate+ internationally brings a distinct and differentiated identity in an increasingly crowded international marketplace and builds on the brand equity in the Lionsgate name that our extensive research has proven is strong around the world,” he continued. “Even with the separation of Starz and the Lionsgate studio business, the Lionsgate brand will continue to be valuable to the ongoing success of our international platform.”
STARZPLAY is becoming Lionsgate+. The service is available outside of the U.S. and Canada.
An interesting plus sign for Lionsgate+ and a bold font for MGM+, no doubt.
“MGM is one of the most iconic and beloved brands from the golden age of entertainment,” Michael Wright, the head of MGM+, said in his own press release. “This rebrand is a promise to existing and new viewers that MGM+ is the place to find television that reflects and celebrates the legacy of the iconic MGM brand — cinematic programming with sophisticated storytelling that entertains, delights, surprises, and transports. MGM is television for movie lovers.”
By the way: The Epix 2, Epix Hits, and Epix Drive-In channels will be renamed MGM+ Hits, MGM+ Marquee, and MGM+ Drive-In, respectively, IndieWire is told.
Lionsgate used to co-own Epix with MGM (and Viacom), but when Lionsgate bought Starz in 2017, it sold its 31.2 percent stake back to MGM and Viacom. Epix is now simply a subsidiary of MGM, which itself is now among Amazon’s holdings.
MGM+ will include library films from the James Bond and “Rocky” franchises, as well as “House of Gucci,” “Licorice Pizza,” “Silence of the Lambs,” “Bull Durham,” “Platoon,” “Robocop,” “Mississippi Burning,” “The Magnificent Seven,” “Barbershop,” “The Pink Panther,” “In the Heat of the Night,” “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” and “The Thomas Crown Affair.”
The Epix channel and app will officially become MGM+ on January 15, the same day “Godfather of Harlem” Season 3 premieres. The Forest Whitaker show’s second season was Epix’s most-watched season of TV ever. Other Epix series staying aboard for MGM+ include “Billy the Kid,” “FROM,” “Rogue Heroes,” and “Belgravia.”
In addition, Epix/MGM+ announced four new originals this morning, including a “Belgravia” sequel series. Find details on those below; all descriptions and accolades are in Epix’s own words. First up, a pair of scripted dramas, including one from “Narcos” and “Godfather of Harlem” co-creator Chris Brancato:
This is the story of Roman Compte, Cuban exile, CIA operative, and general manager of the The Mutiny Hotel, the glamorous epicenter of the Miami cocaine scene of late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Chris Brancato will serve as showrunner and executive producer for this eight-episode crime thriller from EPIX Studios. Guillermo Navarro (“Pan’s Labyrinth”) will direct the pilot and also executive produce the series, in addition to Brancato.
“Belgravia: The Next Chapter”
The series will pick up in 1865, 25 years after the events depicted in the 2020 limited series, which was written by Julian Fellowes (“Downton Abbey”) and based on his novel of the same name. Developed and written by Helen Edmundson (“Dalgliesh,” “Mary Magdalene”), it will tell the love story of Frederick Trenchard, who has grown up as the third Lord Glanville, and his new love interest, Clara Dunn, who is a newcomer to London society. Unaware that his birth was the product of an affair between his mother Susan and the scoundrel John Bellasis, a troubled childhood has left Frederick deeply insecure, which challenges his courtship of and marriage to Clara. The series reunites Carnival’s award-winning creative team — led by Gareth Neame — with Fellowes, who serves as executive producer. Neame, Nigel Marchant and Joanna Strevens are executive producers for Carnival.
The network will also feature acclaimed docuseries, including Emmy-nominated “Laurel Canyon,” “Helter Skelter,” “My Life as a Rolling Stone,” “NFL Icons,” “Blumhouse’s Compendium of Horrors,” and “Murf the Surf.”
“Belgravia” Episode 104 on Epix.
And now, the unscripted MGM+ shows:
“Untitled Amityville Murders Docuseries”
This four-part docuseries chronicles the world’s most infamous haunted house tale: the Amityville murders. The project, from B17 Entertainment and executive produced by Lesley Chilcott (“Helter Skelter: An American Myth,” “An Inconvenient Truth”), is the first elevated look at every aspect of this wildly layered story about the heinous murder of a family of six that became eclipsed by paranormal controversy. In addition to Chilcott, Blaine Duncan, Brooklyn Hudson, Amanda Raymond, Rhett Bachner, and Brien Meagher serve as executive producers. Jack Riccobono (“The Seventh Fire”) serves as director and executive producer.
“San Francisco Sounds” (Working title)
From the team behind the three-time Emmy-nominated documentary “Laurel Canyon” comes “San Francisco Sounds,” a two-part documentary series that tracks the history of the San Francisco music scene from 1965 to 1975. Frank Marshall (“Laurel Canyon,” “Mr. A & Mr. M: The Story of A&M Records”), Alex Gibney (“The Inventor; Crime of the Century”), Jeff Pollack (“Laurel Canyon,” “McCartney 3,2,1”), Darryl Frank (“Laurel Canyon,” “The Americans,” “Good Night Oppy”), Justin Falvey (“Laurel Canyon,” “The Americans, Good Night Oppy”), Stacey Offman (“The Line,” “Kingdom of Silence”), Richard Perello (“How To Change Your Mind,” “Totally Under Control”), and Alison Ellwood (“Laurel Canyon,” “How to Change Your Mind, The Go-Go’s”) are attached as executive producers along with Jeff Jampol (“Janis: Little Girl Blue,” “When You’re Strange: A Film About the Doors”). Erin Edeiken and Tess Ranahan serve as producers. Ellwood is also attached to direct along with Anoosh Tertzakian. Jigsaw Productions is producing in association with Amblin Television and The Kennedy/Marshall Company.
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