Ken Burns’ ‘Country Music’ Coming to Disc and Digital Sept. 17

Country Music, a documentary series by director and producer Ken Burns, will bow on DVD, Blu-ray and digital Sept. 17 from PBS Distribution coinciding with its national broadcast on PBS.

In the series, Burns chronicles the history of the uniquely American art form, country music. Starting from its early days in the 1920s and following it through the mid-1990s, Burns takes viewers on a journey chronicling “America’s music” in 16 hours on eight discs.

The series focuses on the personal stories of the characters who created and shaped the genre — from the Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, Bill Monroe and Bob Wills to Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, Charley Pride, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Garth Brooks and many more — as well as the times and places in which they lived. Much like the music itself, the film tells stories of hardships and joys shared by everyday people. Country Music uncovers the roots of the music, including ballads, minstrel music, hymns and the blues and its early years in the 1920s when it was first recorded and called “hillbilly music.” It then shows how the music sprouted many new branches during the 20th century: Western swing and singing cowboys, bluegrass and honky tonk, rockabilly and the “outlaws,” the smooth Nashville Sound and harder-edged Bakersfield Sound, and many others — showing that country music never was just one style but a broad American mixture that became a major cultural force.

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The DVD and Blu-ray include more than three hours of extra bonus footage that will not be airing, including a behind-the-scenes, making-of featurette and additional material gleaned from hours of interviews.

Netflix’s ‘Money Heist’ Remains Top Binge, ‘The Boys’ Leads ‘Shows on the Rise’ on TV Time Charts

The Spanish-language Netflix series “Money Heist” continued to top TV Time’s “Binge Report” while Amazon Prime’s “The Boys” came in at No. 1 on its “Shows on the Rise” chart for the week ended July 28.

TV Time is a free TV viewership tracking app that tracks consumers’ viewing habits worldwide and is visited by more than 1 million consumers every day, according to the company. The weekly “Binge Report” ranks shows with the most binge sessions. A binge session is when four or more episodes of a show are watched and tracked in the app in a given day. The “Shows on the Rise” chart is calculated by determining the week-over-week growth in episodes watched for a given program.

Season three of “Money Heist” dropped July 19. In this season, the Professor and his team reunite to free Rio, targeting the Bank of Spain with a new plan. Meanwhile, the Resistance continues.

“The Boys,” co-created by Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and Eric Kripke, dropped July 26. It follows a group of vigilantes who embark on a quest to take down selfish superheroes The Seven, a group who abuses their powers rather than using them for good.

Coming in at No. 2 on both charts was Netflix’s prison drama “Orange Is the New Black.” The seventh and final season of the series dropped July 26.

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Top Binge Shows Week Ended July 28 by Share of Binges:

  1. “Money Heist” (Netflix) — 11.78%
  2. “Orange Is the New Black” (Netflix) — 5.03%
  3. “Stranger Things” (Netflix) — 4.25%
  4. “Lucifer” (Neflix) — 2.33%
  5. “Friends” (NBC) — 2.13%
  6. “Glee” (Fox) — 1.77%
  7. “The Big Bang Theory” (CBS) — 1.47%
  8. “The 100” (The CW) — 1.24%
  9. “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (NBC) — 1.22%
  10. “Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC) — 1.09%

 

Top Shows on the Rise Week Ended July 28 by Rise Ratio:

  1. “The Boys” (Amazon Prime Video) – 100%
  2. “Orange Is the New Black” (Netflix) — 88.5%
  3. “Veronica Mars” (Hulu) — 54.1%
  4. “Queer Eye” (Netflix) — 29%
  5. “Big Little Lies” (HBO) — 14.8%
  6. “The Flash” (The CW) — 11.9%
  7. “Supergirl” (The CW) — 11.8%
  8. “Suits” (USA) — 11.6%
  9. “Rick and Morty” (Adult Swim) — 9.9%
  10. “Station 19” (ABC) — 7.7%

‘John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum’ Shoots to Digital Aug. 23, Disc Sept. 10 Including 4K

John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum arrives on digital Aug. 23 and 4K Ultra HD combo pack (plus Blu-ray and digital), Blu-ray combo pack (plus DVD and digital), DVD, and on demand Sept. 10 from Lionsgate.

The third film in the “John Wick” franchise starring Keanu Reeves earned $169.7 million at the domestic box office.

Chapter 3 also stars Halle Berry, Laurence Fishburne, Marc Dacascos, Asia Kate Dillon, Lance Reddick, Anjelica Huston and Ian McShane. In the film, super assassin John Wick (Reeves) has a $14 million price tag on his head after killing a member of the High Table, the shadowy international assassins’ guild. With an army of the world’s most ruthless hit men and women on his trail, John must find a way to survive.

The 4K UHD includes Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos sound.

The release includes featurettes that explore the mythology and action of the “John Wick” universe; the hidden world of Killer Ballerinas, Shinobi, and the Bowery King; the planning that went into the film’s horse chase sequence and “dog-fu” fight sequences; and the editing with director Chad Stahelski and editor Evan Schiff.

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Special features on the DVD, Blu-ray and digital versions include:

  • “Parabellum: Legacy of the High Table” featurette;
  • “Excommunicado” featurette;
  • two theatrical trailers;
  • John Wick Hex game trailer;
  • “Behind the Scenes of John Wick Hex” featurette.

The digital and Blu-ray versions will also include:

  • “Check Your Sights” featurette;
  • “Saddle Up Wick” featurette;
  • “Bikes, Blades, Bridges, and Bits” featurette;
  • “Continental in the Desert” featurette;
  • “Dog Fu” featurette;
  • “House of Transparency” featurette;
  • “Shot by Shot” featurette.

 

AT&T Rebranding ‘DirecTV Now’ to ‘AT&T TV Now’

As expected, AT&T has begun informing DirecTV Now subscribers that the online TV platform is changing its brand name to AT&T TV Now.

The telecom giant, whose WarnerMedia subsidiary is in the process of rolling out the HBO Max subscription streaming video service, is attempting to rejuvenate DirecTV Now, which continues to lose subscribers who signed up for the initial loss-leading $34.99 monthly fee. That fee has been upgraded to $39.99.

“In the coming weeks, the AT&T TV app will be available for download across various app stores, and current DirecTV Now customers will see this update automatically on their devices,” AT&T said in a statement. “We’ll share more details on this rollout when it begins.”

AT&T acquired El Segundo Calif.-based satellite operator DirecTV in 2014 for $48.5 billion. It acquired Time Warner in 2016 for $84.5 billion.

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Amazon Remains Mum on Show Ratings

Drawing attention to programming through ratings and viewership data is as old as Nielsen.

With the over-the-top video market about to get crowded by Disney+, HBO Max, Apple TV+ and NBC Universal, some services such as Netflix have taken to releasing viewership data for select series and movies when the numbers are self-promoting.

The SVOD pioneer recently disclosed that more than 40 million households had streamed the third season of “Stranger Things,” one of its flagship original series.

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Don’t expect Amazon Prime Video to follow the strategy.

“We know what the numbers are and we’ll single out shows that are overperforming, but we’ve yet to embrace a strategy as a company where we put out actual numbers,” Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios, told the media over the weekend at the studio’s Television Critics Association presentation.

The strategy underscores Amazon’s reluctance updating Prime membership numbers (last revealed at 100 million globally) or disclosing Prime Video viewership data.

What the studio isn’t afraid of is canceling shows, which Netflix and Hulu do as well.

Amazon is not renewing new seasons of “The Romanoffs,” “Patriot,” “Forever” and “Too Old To Die.”

New releases include “The Boys,” pending “Carnival Row,” a fifth season of “The Expanse” and upcoming “The Banker’s Wife.”

Meanwhile, hardboiled L.A. cop drama “Bosch,” Amazon’s longest-running original series renewed last year for a sixth season, remains a mystery regarding actual viewers.

Netflix and WWE Studios Announce Live-Action Family Comedy Series ‘The Big Show Show’

Netflix July 30 announced the future release of “The Big Show Show,” a half-hour, comedy series starring WWE wrestler The Big Show (Paul Wight). Production on the 10-episode series begins in Los Angeles on Aug. 9.

The series stars Wight (“Fighting with My Family,” WWE), Allison Munn (“Nicky, Ricky, Dicky and Dawn”), Reylynn Caster (“American Housewife”), Juliet Donenfeld (“Pete the Cat”) and Lily Brooks O’Briant (“The Tick”).

The series’ premise revolves around Wight, a retired WWE Superstar, whose teenage daughter comes to live with him, his wife and two other daughters. Wight quickly becomes outnumbered and outsmarted by the women, despite being 7 feet tall and weighing 400 pounds. He is no longer the center of attention.

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“The Big Show Show” is Netflix’s latest project with WWE Studios, following the recent announcement of family film, The Main Event.

The comedy series joins a growing slate of live-action series featuring kids and teens and made for families, which includes “Family Reunion,””Malibu Rescue,” “No Good Nick,” “Alexa & Katie” and the upcoming series “The Letter for the King” and “The Baby-Sitters Club.”

Movies Anywhere to Support Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos Beginning With ‘Avengers: Endgame’ and Other Titles July 30

Movies Anywhere will begin supporting Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos sound beginning with the July 30 digital release of Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Endgame.

Consumers who have purchased 4K Ultra HD titles from participating digital retailers or are activating a Blu-ray 4K Ultra HD digital code will be able to stream in these entertainment experiences using Movies Anywhere on connected TVs.

Recently released titles Alita: Battle Angel from Twentieth Century Fox, Aquaman and Pokémon Detective Pikachu from Warner Bros., and Miss Bala from Sony Pictures Entertainment will also be available in Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos July 30.

Additional previously released films from Movies Anywhere-backed studios are also being added and will be available throughout the summer and into the fall.

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“We will always strive to deliver the best playback technology possible for movie purchasers who are passionate about quality,” said Karin Gilford, GM, Movies Anywhere, in a statement. “Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos deliver an exceptional home viewing experience, while staying true to filmmakers’ creative intent and vision. This is part of our ongoing commitment to super serve movie fans with the films they love, when, where and how they want to watch them.”

Dolby Vision offers high dynamic range 4K experiences, with increased brightness, contrast, color and detail, according to Movies Anywhere, while Dolby Atmos offers moving audio that flows all around listeners.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Q1 Revenue Declines

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment July 30 reported first-quarter (ended June 30) revenue of $200 million, which was down about 15% from revenue of $234 million during the previous-year period.

The studio cited higher revenue in its Funimation animation unit.

Regardless, home entertainment topped theatrical revenue at $164 million, which was a 73% improvement over $95 million generated at the box office a year ago.

Sony Pictures Television again led the motion picture segment, generating $315 million in revenue, up 18% from $267 million last year.

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Total motion pictures revenue topped $738 million, which was 18% above the $624 million generated during the previous-year period.

The studio attributed the gain in part to global box office revenue from Men in Black: International and initial sales of Spider-Man: Far from Home — the latter recently topping $1 billion in global ticket sales.

The latest web crawler superhero release, coupled with Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Angry Birds Movie 2, are expected to drive box office and home entertainment through the rest of the fiscal year.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse generated $375 million in box office tickets worldwide, including $190 million domestically. It was released into retail channels March 19.

Long Shot

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street Date 7/30/19;
Lionsgate;
Comedy;
Box Office $30.32 million;
$29.95 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for strong sexual content, language throughout and some drug use.
Stars Seth Rogen, Charlize Theron, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Andy Serkis, June Diane Raphael, Lisa Kudrow, Bob Odenkirk, Alexander Skarsgård.

The often crude but usually charming Long Shot reframes the tropes of the romantic comedy by setting them against the backdrop of the arena of American politics, blended with a touch of stoner humor for good measure.

It’s The American President by way of Pineapple Express, as secretary of state and presidential candidate Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron) has a chance encounter with Fred, an opinionated writer (Seth Rogen) she used to babysit, and asks him to join her campaign as a speechwriter. As they grow closer, some of her refinement starts to rub off on him while he helps her loosen up a bit, both in the pharmacological and carnal sense. This leaves the rest of her staff to wonder what the potential relationship could mean for the campaign.

Though set in the political world, the love story doesn’t get bogged down with too many political specifics, which is probably for the best as the political landscape presented in the film doesn’t bear much scrutiny. Then again, the film isn’t aiming for Sorkin levels of verisimilitude here.

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Charlotte is basing her presidential campaign on a major environmental initiative, which Fred likes, but works for an administration that Fred ultimately opposes, with a president (Bob Odenkirk) who used to play a president on a TV show and decides to forgo a second term to cash in his popularity to pursue a film career.

The president will endorse Charlotte to replace him if she doesn’t make too many waves, but his media tycoon buddy (Andy Serkis, unrecognizable in heavy prosthetic makeup) wants to chip away at the effectiveness of her activism. Meanwhile, Charlotte’s chief of staff (June Diane Raphael) wants to set her up with the equally available, but socially awkward, prime minister of Canada (Alexander Skarsgård). The more willing Charlotte is to compromise herself for political expediency, the more Fred is left to wonder where the candidate ends and the woman he may be falling in love with begins.

The satirical look at the broader strokes of the American political system are cute, but let’s face it, the odds of the nation’s chief diplomat getting away with negotiating a hostage crisis while high on Molly are slim to none. So, the only way the movie works is if the audience buys the relationship between Charlotte and Fred, and luckily Rogen and Theron work well together, finding an easygoing chemistry that helps us enjoy their adventures for what they are.

The Blu-ray includes about 100 minutes of behind-the-scenes featurettes that cover everything from the writing to the casting to the wardrobe. The most interesting is an interview with comic book artist Todd McFarlane, who contributes a key piece of art to one of the funniest gags in the film.

Long Shot

FilmRise Adds Free Content to Sling TV

FilmRise July 28 announced it has partnered with Dish Network’s online TV service, Sling TV, to add free ad-supported content to the service.

Sling TV subscribers using Roku devices will be able to watch programming from the New York-based distributor even if they are not a FilmRise base service subscriber.

Sling Orange and Sling Blue subscribers will automatically see FilmRise available as a channel in their channel guide, and Sling users on Roku devices can access the content by opening the Sling app and selecting “browse as guest” option.

“Sling provides consumers with their favorite TV programming and now, with this new offering, they can further their audience’s options without viewers’ payment commitment,” Danny Fisher of FilmRise said in a statement. “It’s a win-win for all.”

FilmRise titles available on Sling TV include, series “Forensic Files,” “Hell’s Kitchen,” “Unsolved Mysteries,” “3rd Rock from the Sun,” and “Kitchen Nightmares.” Movies include Bernie, The Illusionist and the “Ernest” franchise, among others.

The pact comes as Sling TV has seen subscriber growth cool. It added just 48,000 subscribers in the most-recent fiscal period to end the period with 2.47 million subs — four years after launching.