Sony Releasing 1994 ‘Little Women’ on 4K Digital

Sony Pictures will release 1994’s Little Women on 4K digital with high dynamic range Dec. 3 for its 25th anniversary.

Winona Ryder and Susan Sarandon star in the adaptation of the classic novel by Louisa May Alcott. The cast also includes Gabriel Byrne, Trini Alvarado, Samantha Mathis, Kirsten Dunst, Claire Danes, Christian Bale, Eric Stoltz and Mary Wickes.

The film has been fully restored in 4K resolution from the original camera negative.

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‘Easy Rider’ Released on 4K Digital for 50th Anniversary

The road trip classic Easy Rider is now available on 4K digital with high dynamic range from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, marking the 50th anniversary of the film.

Starring Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper, directed by Hopper, and co-written by Fonda, Hopper and Terry Southern, the counterculture classic focuses on two bikers who set off on a cross-country road trip. The cast also includes Jack Nicholson, Karen Black, Antonio Mendoza and Phil Spector.

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Digital extras available through participating platforms include a Hopper commentary and a behind-the-scenes featurette.

The 4K restoration premiered at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, mirroring the film’s original debut at the festival in 1969.

‘Aladdin’ Jumps Back Into Top Disc Sales Spots

Disney’s live-action remake of Aladdin returned to the No. 1 spot on both NPD VideoScan’s First Alert chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales, and the dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart the week ended Sept. 28.

The fantasy musical had debuted in the top spot two weeks earlier before barely slipping to the second spot in its second week.

Climbing to No. 2 on both charts in its third week was Lionsgate’s John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum. It barely missed taking over the top spot, selling 99% as many copies as Aladdin.

The previous week’s top title, Fox’s X-Men: Dark Phoenix, slid to No. 3 on both charts.

The week’s top newcomer debuted at No. 4: Universal Pictures’ Yesterday, a comedy about an aspiring musician who discovers the world has forgotten about the Beatles so he gains fame by reintroducing their songs as his own. It earned $73.3 million at the domestic box office.

No. 5 on the overall sales chart was Warner’s latest reboot of Shaft, which earned $21.4 million at U.S. theaters. It was No. 8 on the Blu-ray chart.

The No. 5 Blu-ray, and No. 6 on the overall disc chart, was the Lionsgate actioner Anna, which earned $7.7 million at the domestic box office.

No. 7 for the week on both charts was the fourth newcomer to bow in the top 10, Fox’s remake of Child’s Play. The horror film earned $29.2 million in U.S. theaters.

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Blu-ray Disc formats accounted for 60% of total unit sales for Yesterday, 48% for Shaft, 58% for Anna and 56% for Child’s Play. The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray comprised 8% of total sales for Yesterday, 13% for Anna and 3% for Shaft. The 4K UHD Blu-ray of Shaft was a Best Buy exclusive.

On the Media Play News rental chart for the week ended Sept. 29, Aladdin finally hit the top spot, pushing Dark Phoenix to No. 2.

Shaft debuted at No. 3, while John Wick: Chapter 3 slid to No. 4. Anna debuted as the No. 5 rental.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 9-28-19
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 9-29-19
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 9-28-19
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 9-28-19
Sales Report for Week Ended 9-28-19
Digital Sales Snapshot for Week Ended 9-30-19

Disney, Amazon in Dispute Over Fire TV App Ad Revenue

Amazon is much more than an e-commerce behemoth. The Seattle-based company is a major distributor of third-party streaming video services and proprietary content — the former through Amazon Channels.

So when Disney partnered with Amazon to distribute its media apps via the latter’s Fire TV streaming media device, it wasn’t about to relinquish ad revenue from the apps — even if Amazon is reportedly the second-largest distributor of streaming TV apps.

Fire TV, which trails only Roku in Q2 2019 streaming media device shipments, according to Strategy Analytics, enables consumers to stream Prime Video, Netflix, Sling TV and Hulu, among others, to the television.

Amazon wants a piece of Disney’s ad revenue from its branded apps — including ABC, ESPN and Disney Channel — according to The Wall Street Journal, which cited resources familiar to the situation.

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Disney is resisting the request, a move that could see its apps disappear from Fire TV. Indeed, the platform is not slated to carry Disney’s pending subscription streaming service, Disney+.

In the burgeoning over-the-top video ecosystem, media companies and tech companies are grappling with distribution issues — notably carriage revenue agreements — typically reserved for the pay-TV landscape.

Indeed, with Google and Amazon competing for the identical third-party ad revenue, neither offer its proprietary (YouTube, Prime Video) video platform on the other’s platform.

“The traditional negotiations between cable operators and media companies are the most vicious negotiations that I’ve ever been exposed to. And now you see that world colliding with these tech behemoths,” said Steve Shannon, chief executive of Tetra TV, which operates a marketplace for ads on streaming video, told The Journal.

When Amazon launched Fire TV in 2014, it didn’t seek a cut of third-party ad revenue. But five years later, Amazon takes significant revenue cuts from third-party streaming services offered on its Channels platform for Prime members.

The strategy is now being emulated on Fire TV, with the platform reportedly seeking upwards of 40% of third-party app ad-revenue. Disney apparently is willing to offer 10%, according to WSJ.

Meanwhile, Roku reportedly demands as much as 30% of revenue from third-parties operating on its platform. Disney-owned Hulu pays Roku about 15%.

Until the dispute is resolved, Disney+ will be available via Apple TV, iPad, iPhone, Android devices, Chromecast, Sony PS4, Xbox One and Roku.

‘The Farewell’ Due on Digital Oct. 29, Disc Nov. 12

The drama The Farewell arrives on digital Oct. 29 from A24, and on Blu-ray (plus digital) and DVD from Lionsgate and on demand from A24 Nov. 12.

Written and directed by Lulu Wang (Posthumous), based on her real-life experiences, the film stars Awkwafina (Crazy Rich AsiansOcean’s Eight, “Tawk”), Tzi Ma ( “Silicon Valley,” “Veep,” Skyscraper), and Diana Lin (“The Family Law,” Australia Day).

After learning that her family’s beloved matriarch, Nai Nai, has been given mere weeks to live, Chinese-born, U.S.-raised Billi returns to Changchun to find that her family has decided to keep the news from Nai Nai. While the family gathers under the joyful guise of an expedited wedding, Billi rediscovers the country she left as a child, and is forever changed by her grandmother’s spirit, in this story of how family can unite and strengthen us — often in spite of ourselves.

The film made $17.5 million in domestic theaters.

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Extras include two featurettes, deleted scenes, and an audio commentary with writer-director Wang and cinematographer Anna Franquesa-Solano.

‘The Swan Princess’ Swims to Blu-ray and 4K Digital Oct. 29 for 25th Anniversary

The animated film The Swan Princess will be released Oct. 29 in a collectible anniversary edition Blu-ray and in 4K HDR on digital from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment for its 25th anniversary.

One of the last major theatrically-released films in the U.S. to utilize a hand drawn, hand painted cel animation style, the film went on to receive a 1995 Golden Globe nomination and become the top selling home video title in the United States when first released.

To celebrate the new release, creator and producer Seldon Young is bringing the film back to the big screen for a special Pink Carpet Premiere event showcasing the new, fully remastered version at the ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood Oct. 24.

“For the restoration and remastering process we retrieved the vintage, vaulted negatives and set to work using the amazing advances in HD conversion technology, to create an even more vivid and stunning film than ever before,” said Young in a statement.

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The story is inspired by the German fairytale and ballet about a princess who is swan by day and princess by night. Princess Odette is transformed into a swan by an evil sorcerer’s spell. Held captive at an enchanted lake, she befriends Jean-Bob the frog, Speed the turtle and Puffin the bird. Despite their struggle to keep the princess safe, these good-natured creatures can do nothing about the sorcerer’s spell, which can only be broken by a vow of everlasting love.

The Blu-ray release includes a new featurette entitled “A Look Back, Tease Ahead,” plus a variety of additional archival features.

‘GG Allin — All in the Family’ Due on DVD Oct. 15 From MVD

GG Allin — All in the Family, a documentary about the late American extreme punk rock musician GG Allin, will come out on DVD Oct. 15 from MVD Entertainment Group.

Allin is best remembered for his notorious live performances, which often featured transgressive acts, including self-mutilation, eating his own feces and attacking the audience. In 1993 he died of a heroin overdose.

Aired on Showtime as All in the Family, the film follows the two remaining family members, mother Arleta and brother Merle, who is still active in GG Allins backing band the Murder Junkies. The story is about an extraordinary loving family, whose departed son and brother has left a trail of unanswered questions.

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‘Hamlet in the Golden Vale’ to Bow on DVD, Digital and VOD Oct. 8 From Random Media

Hamlet in the Golden Vale, New York-based theater company Roll the Bones’ film adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, will come out on DVD, digital and VOD Oct. 8 from Random Media.

The production follows a team of actors to a 500-year-old castle in Co. Tipperary, Ireland, where — over the course of three weeks — an re-telling of Shakespeare’s greatest work emerges. The film tells a story-within-a-story, blurring the lines between the actors and their characters as eight actors living in close quarters are immersed in the world of Hamlet and the play’s search for meaning.

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In addition to the feature, the team also tackled a 360 virtual reality experience with production support from the National Theatre’s Immersive Storytelling Studio and presented two onsite immersive performances for the surrounding community.

IMDb TV Gets Top-Rated Canadian Animated Series

Amazon-owned ad-supported streaming service IMDb TV Oct. 3 announced it has licensed Canadian animated series Corner Gas Animated as a branded IMDb Original series.

Beginning Oct. 15, 24 episodes of “Corner Gas Animated” seasons one and two will be available for the first time in the U.S. on the IMDb TV app on Fire TV, the Prime Video app, IMDb.com and the IMDb mobile apps.

The series is joined on IMDb TV by Canada’s highest-rated live-action comedy franchise of all-time, Corner Gas, including 107 episodes of the International Emmy Award nominated, six-season sitcom and the 90-minute feature film, Corner Gas: The Movie.

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Corner Gas fans can now enjoy the entire Corner Gas franchise for free in one place as it finds its new exclusive home on IMDb TV in the U.S.,” Mark Eamer, VP of IMDb TV, said in a statement.

Created, starring and executive produced by showrunner and stand-up comedian Brent Butt, the series centers around the colorful characters of Dog River — a fictional rural town forty miles from nowhere and way beyond normal.

The ensemble cast stars Brent Butt as Brent Leroy, owner of a roadside service station, with Gabrielle Miller as Lacey Burrows, Fred Ewanuick as Hank Yarbo, Eric Peterson as Oscar Leroy, Lorne Cardinal as Sgt. Davis Quinton, Tara Spencer-Nairn as Constable Karen Pelly, Nancy Robertson as Wanda Dollard, and Corrine Koslo who replaces the late Janet Wright as Emma Leroy.

The new IMDb Original series Corner Gas Animated features an all-star lineup of cameos, including actor Michael J. Fox, comedian Russell Peters, singer/songwriters Jann Arden and Sarah McLachlan, astronaut Chris Hadfield and Epic Meal Time’s Harley Morenstein.

“Corner Gas Animated” joins the IMDb Originals line-up alongside short-form series, including the animated, scripted series You’re Not a Monster, which will begin streaming later this month, as well as The IMDb Show, IMDbrief and Casting Calls.

These IMDb Originals complement IMDb TV’s extensive collection of premium movies and TV shows across a range of genres, including comedy, kids and family, romance, thrillers, science fiction, documentaries, horror and more.

Fans of the hit show The Middle can enjoy all nine seasons exclusively on IMDb TV, along with other popular series, like Midsomer Murders and Columbo. Movie buffs will also enjoy must-watch titles, including Academy Award-winning film La La Land, Academy Award-nominated film Drive, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword and more.

Toy Story 4

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street 10/8/19;
Disney;
Animated;
Box Office $433.06 million;
$39.99 Blu-ray/DVD, $44.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘G.’
Voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Tony Hale, Jordan Peele, Keegan-Michael Key, Keanu Reeves, Ally Maki, Joan Cusack, Bonnie Hunt, Kristen Schaal, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Blake Clark, June Squibb, Carl Weathers, Jeff Garlin.

While the prospect of a fourth “Toy Story” movie was exciting news for fans of the franchise, there were some questions about whether the adventures of Woody, Buzz and the gang might have run their course. After all, the third movie from 2010 was an emotional rollercoaster that seemed to provide a decent, if bittersweet, sense of closure for the characters.

Of course, the question about what stories were left to tell had already been answered long before the fourth movie was announced, not only through three short films, but also two half-hour television specials. So, yeah, there’s more than enough material to mine.

There would still be the challenge of making any new film feel like an event worthy of the franchise. The movies should at least be somewhat transformational, redefining the status quo of the characters beyond what can be accomplished in a short film.

Well, the team at Pixar Animation Studios certainly achieved that goal, and then some. Toy Story 4 isn’t the best film in the franchise, but it might be the most cathartic. Where the previous film was a bit of a gut punch, this one offers more of a natural progression for the characters.

After a flashback that shows how Woody’s love interest, Bo Peep (Annie Potts) was given away (mentioned in Toy Story 3), we check in to see how the toys are doing with their new owner, Bonnie. While she exhibits a rich imagination, she tends to leave Woody (Tom Hanks) sidelined, leaving him to wonder what his place in her life is.

Bonnie then creates a new toy, named Forky (Tony Hale), out of trash at school, and when he would rather return to the garbage than play with Bonnie, Woody assigns himself the task of educating the new toy and making sure he’s available for her. Woody’s task gets more complicated when Forky manages to jump out of the RV on a family road trip. In retrieving him, Woody comes across an antique shop and reunites with Bo. But Forky is captured by a doll at the shop who wants to trade him for Woody’s pull-string voice box to replace her own defective one, hoping the fix will help entice a kid to want to play with her.

Bo, on the other hand, presents another option for life as a toy: roaming free, with no owner, never worrying about being played with or not and determining her own fate. Meanwhile, Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) sets out on a mission to find Woody, bolstered by a hilarious running gag of him activating his own voice feature so he can get advice from his “inner voice.”

So, yes, the movie does return to the “recover a lost character” motif that has been a staple of the franchise (and, indeed, most Pixar films), putting a few new spins on the formula along the way. The antique shop and a nearby carnival are wonderful settings for toy-level adventures with inventive new characters, such as Canadian motorcycle-jumping daredevil Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves), and a pair of game-prize plushes voiced by Key & Peele.

The only area of concern, really, is that each passing movie runs the risk of potentially piercing the suspension of disbelief about the toys being alive, which some of the characters actually joke about in this one. One need to simply look no further to the living vehicles of the world of “Cars” to see how much such questions can distract, and detract, from the narrative.

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The “Toy Story” movies have all been visual marvels, and the fourth one is no exception, advancing the state of CGI to render fantastic textures and details on the toys and their environments. The carnival offers a great excuse for bright colors and warm lights, while the antique shop provides a trove of subtle references.

The Blu-ray is loaded with a lot of great behind-the-scenes material, including an insightful feature-length commentary track by director Josh Cooley and producer Mark Nielsen in which they discuss all sorts of challenges to crafting a fourth “Toy Story” film.

Some of the more pivotal sequences get their own callout in the form of “Anatomy of a Scene” videos in which the filmmakers discuss and joke about making them. The disc includes a nine-and-a-half-minute look at the playground scene, while a seven-minute deconstruction of the prologue serves as a digital exclusive.

The disc also includes 28 minutes of deleted scenes, still in storyboard form, that show some of the unused concepts for the film, including an unused ending that would have pretty much negated the film’s message of finding your own place in the world.

The digital version of the film includes an additional seven-minute alternate opening sequence depicting Bonnie’s playtime fantasy using the toys.

The various featurettes included offer interesting glimpses of the production with the usual interviews with cast members and filmmakers, but often show them interacting in ways not typically presented in such videos.

There is a six-minute “Bo Rebooted” video about how Bo’s character was expanded into a major role for the film. Another, three-and-a-half-minute piece, spotlights the relationship between Woody and Buzz.

The new characters are shown off in a series of “Toy Box” videos that run 13 minutes, while an additional six-minute featurette focuses on new castmember Ally Maki and her pint-sized character.

One of the more nostalgia-infused featurettes is a five-and-a-half-minute “Toy Stories” piece in which several of the cast and crew recall the toys they played with as children.

Among some of the more random video bits are a few minutes of animation showing off the carnival and the antique shop roof from the toys’ perspectives, plus a series of promotional videos including character vignettes and trailers from around the world.

Some digital retailers, such as Vudu, also offer a two-and-a-half-minute “Toy Story Rewind” video in which the cast and crew reflect on the previous movies.