Roku has been known for most of its history as a platform for streaming video, first on standalone boxes and later as an operating system on smart TVs.
More recently, Roku has made a jump into original content, operating the much-watched Roku Channel and acquiring the remains of the defunct streaming service Quibi in order to turn some of its shows into original series.
Now, Roku has announced a deal to add a cache of movies to its offerings.
Roku said on Tuesday that it has reached a deal with Lionsgate to stream the mid-major studio’s films for free on the Roku Channel. It’s described as a “multiyear output agreement,” Roku’s first-ever, and it will begin with Lionsgate’s 2022 releases.
Roku “will receive two separate windows for each film, the first of which provides exclusive rights to Lionsgate’s film slate immediately following its first window on STARZ,” the announcement said. Among the movies included in the deal are the John Wick and Expendables series, as well as The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, a new Nicolas Cage movie.
"We are pleased to expand our relationship with our longstanding partner Lionsgate to provide our audience with exclusive first-time, free access to Lionsgate’s theatrical slate,” said Rob Holmes, vice president of programming at Roku. “This innovative approach creates value for both parties, and most importantly provides the millions of streamers on The Roku Channel with the opportunity to enjoy these compelling titles via this unique window.”
“This agreement affirms the great demand for first-run studio movies across a broad array of platforms,” said Jim Packer, Lionsgate's president of worldwide television distribution. “This partnership with The Roku Channel shows our ability to capitalize on opportunities in today’s complex television landscape with a multifaceted, layered approach that meets everyone’s needs.”
Roku’s wasn’t the only movie deal announced Tuesday. According to Deadline, IFC Films has signed an output deal with AMC+ that will place IFC movies on the streaming service immediately following their theatrical release. IFC Films had long fed its releases to Showtime first, but that will now change.
Starting May 6, per the report, AMC+ will launch a “Friday night movie night” in which movies will stream ninety days after their theatrical release, although they will arrive “day and date” in some cases. The last film of each month, known as “Final Friday,” will always feature a horror film.
Clean, Catch the Fair One, Dual, and The Banquet will all arrive in May.
"AMC+ subscribers love great storytelling. From heart-pounding thrillers to heartfelt character studies, our members enjoy discovering and recommending the latest in television and film—as evidenced by tremendous engagement we saw around our Friday night film releases last year,” Courtney Thomasma, general manager of AMC+, said in the announcement. “Expanding our film offering was the next logical step in continuing to serve and grow our audience.”
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.