Watching This Week #112
Listings for May 29 to June 4, 2023; Corus channels appear set to leave Eastlink.
We'll explain when and where the Mark Wahlberg sci-fi film will be available in Canada.
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Infinite, a science-fiction action film starring Mark Wahlberg and Chiwetel Ejiofor, and based on D. Eric Maikranz's novel The Reincarnationist Papers, was made available in the United States on June 10, 2021, exclusively through ViacomCBS' streaming service Paramount+ (previously known as CBS All Access).
The movie was originally intended for a theatrical release by Paramount Pictures, which was most recently scheduled for September 24. However, ViacomCBS announced in May that, facing a glut of new movies opening in theatres around that time, it would instead be released in the U.S. on Paramount+, without making any announcements about international release plans, including in Canada.
On July 1, ViacomCBS announced that Infinite will be made available on Paramount+ in Canada on Wednesday, August 11, 2021. It will be released on Paramount+ at the same time in almost all other markets where the service operates, including Latin America and the Nordics, as well as Australia (where Paramount+ will be replacing 10 All Access that same day).
The Canadian version of Paramount+ currently costs C$5.99 (plus applicable sales taxes) per month. All programming on the Canadian version is commercial-free, with the possible exception of livestreams from CBS' 24-hour news service CBSN.
Viacom says that Infinite has already been the service's most successful film so far, and that they're "just getting started" in releasing premium content on Paramount+ globally.
So why the delay? We're not sure, at least for Canada. If the plan all along was to release the film on Paramount+ in all of the countries where it's available, there's no reason the service couldn't have done so in Canada on June 10 alongside the United States.
But there've been many cases throughout the short history of CBS All Access / Paramount+ where Canadian rights to original programming, even newly-announced series like The Stand and Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, have been sold to competing services (Amazon Prime Video and CTV Sci-Fi / Crave, respectively). Prime Video also holds Canadian subscription streaming rights to recent Paramount theatrical releases – including, as of this writing, Sonic the Hedgehog – in the so-called "pay-1" window.
Meanwhile, over the past year, Paramount has sold off global distribution rights to many of its films, like The Trial of the Chicago 7 and Coming 2 America, to third-party streamers like Netflix and Prime.
So it's possible that the studio was trying to see if a similar sale was possible for the non-U.S. rights to Infinite, before committing to putting the film on Paramount+ in more countries. It's also possible, given that the film was originally intended for theatrical release, that Paramount had to work through contractual issues with impacted parties like Prime Video Canada.
Now that the company has decided to release Infinite on Paramount+ internationally, why wait until August 11 to release in Canada? It seems to be about lining up the international release with the previously-announced Australian launch of Paramount+.
The continued delay must be frustrating for Canadians waiting to see this film. But ViacomCBS controls the movie, so it's ultimately their call when, and how, to distribute it.
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