JustWatch: ‘Yellowstone,’ ‘Free Guy’ Top Weekly Streamed TV Show, Movie List

Disney-owned 20th Century Studios’ Free Guy, starring Ryan Reynolds, was the top-streamed movie through Feb. 27, according to new data from JustWatch, which tracks more than 20 million users’ monthly streaming decisions across 54 countries.

The video game-themed actioner topped Sony Pictures’ Ghostbusters: Afterlife as well 20th Century Studios’ previous chart topper, The King’s Man. 

Among TV shows, perennial No. 1 “Yellowstone” again bested the competition as new episodes air on the Paramount Network and catalog seasons stream on NBCUniversal’s Peacock platform.

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The Kevin Costner-starrer topped new Apple TV+ series “Severance,” starring Adam Scott (“Big Little Lies”), and “Killing Eve” on online TV platforms as well as Hulu (first two seasons).

Disney, Warner Bros., Sony Pictures Halt Theatrical Releases in Russia Due to Ukraine Invasion

With the Russian army’s unprovoked military invasion into democratically controlled Ukraine intensifying, The Walt Disney Co., Warner Bros. and Sony Pictures reportedly plan to halt releasing new theatrical releases in Russia going forward. The decision impacts the pending Pixar Animation release Turning Red, which is set to bow on the Disney+ streaming platform in the U.S., but in theaters in regions like Russia that does not yet have the SVOD service.

The studios’ Feb. 28 action follows economic sanctions imposed by Western countries, companies and the European Union in response to the escalating global crisis after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into neighboring Ukraine.

“Given the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the tragic humanitarian crisis, we are pausing the release of theatrical films in Russia,” Disney said in a media statement.

The company said that future business decisions would be based on the evolving situation. In the meantime, Disney said that given the scale of the emerging refugee crisis, it is working with non-government partners to provide aid and other humanitarian assistance to refugees.

Separately, Warner Bros. Pictures’ parent company WarnerMedia said it would halt releasing this weekend’s The Batman in Russian theaters.

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“In light of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, WarnerMedia is pausing the release of its feature film The Batman in Russia,” the company said in a statement. “We will continue to monitor the situation as it evolves. We hope for a swift and peaceful resolution to this tragedy.”

Sony Pictures joined the growing Hollywood bandwagon announcing that pending release Morbius would not be released in Russian theaters. The decision has impact considering that the studio’s previous release, Spider-Man: No Way Home, generated a reported $45 million at the Russian box office.

“Given the ongoing military action in Ukraine and the resulting uncertainty and humanitarian crisis unfolding in that region, we will be pausing our planned theatrical releases in Russia,” Sony said in a media statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been impacted and hope this crisis will be resolved quickly.”

Over the weekend, Google-owned YouTube and Facebook announced they would block Russian state media outlet RT and other pro-Russian channels from their platforms. Netflix said it would skip streaming 20 free-to-air channels despite Russian regulator Roskomnadzor mandating that any foreign service with more than 100,000 subscribers do so.

“Given the current situation, we have no plans to add these channels to our service,” Netflix said in a statement.

Kino Cult, Giant Expand Library With Seven ‘Midnight Classics’

Kino Cult is again expanding its library with seven “midnight classics,” presented in cooperation with Drafthouse Films. These films join a growing list of hundreds of new and rare, theatrically released cult hits, all presented in high-definition.

Kino Cult is a free, ad-supported streaming platform for horror and cult films launched in October 2021 by indie film distributors Kino Lorber and Giant Pictures, both of which landed a slot on our Top 20 Indie Power Players list for 2022.

Kino Lorber and Giant also have launched a linear FAST Channel (Free Ad-Supported TV) for Kino Cult on kinocult.com and in all associated apps. It features a curated and scheduled program of back-to-back films drawn from the channel’s library of “unapologetically weird cinema,” according to a press release.

Additionally, Kino Cult is now offering an ad-free subscription plan for $4.99 per month.

The seven new “midnight classics” are:

  • Ms. 45 (1981), directed by Abel Ferrara:  This revenge thriller classic follows a mute garment-district seamstress who, after falling victim to multiple unspeakable assaults, ignites her one-woman rampage against New York City’s entire male population.
  • Wake in Fright (1979), directed by Ted Kotcheff: Starring Donald Pleasence, Wake in Fright tells the nightmarish story of a schoolteacher’s descent into personal demoralization at the hands of drunken, deranged derelicts while stranded in a small town in outback Australia. 
  • Miami Connection (1987), directed by Richard Park and Y K Kim: This action comedy finds motorcycle ninjas tightening their grip on Florida’s narcotics trade, viciously annihilating anyone who dares move in on their turf. 
  • The Visitor (1979), directed by Giulio Paradisi: An intergalactic warrior is in battle against a demonic 8-year-old girl while the fate of the universe hangs in the balance.
  • Why Don’t You Play in Hell? (2013), directed by Sion Sono: 10 years ago, Yakuza mid-boss Ikegami led an assault against rival don Muto. Now, on the eve of his revenge, all Muto wants to do is complete his masterpiece, a feature film with his daughter in the starring role, before his wife is released from prison and The F Bombers are standing by with the chance of a lifetime: to film a real, live yakuza battle to the death … on 35mm film.
  • Raiders! (2015), directed by Jeremy Coon and Tim Skousen: After Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark was released 35 years ago, three 11-year-old boys from Mississippi set out on what would become a seven-year-long labor of love and tribute to their favorite film — a faithful, shot-for-shot adaptation of the action adventure film.
  • Dangerous Men (2005), directed by Jahangir Salehi: This comic actioner by Salehi, under the pseudonym John S. Rad, took 21 years to make and release, and is filled with all sorts of sadistic debauchery. 

Documentary ‘Trekkies’ Coming to Blu-ray for 25th Anniversary

Shout! Factory May 24 will release the documentary Trekkies on Blu-ray Disc for the first time to mark the film’s 25th anniversary.

Denise Crosby of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” hosts this often-hilarious examination of “Star Trek” devotees, from autograph hounds, to dentists doing their work in Federation uniforms, to the debate over “Trekkies” vs “Trekkers” as the preferred term for the franchise’s fans. In addition to interviews with hundreds of devoted fans, the 1997 film includes discussions with “Star Trek” cast members such as James Doohan, DeForest Kelley, Walter Koenig, Kate Mulgrew, Nichelle Nichols, Leonard Nimoy, Brent Spiner and George Takei.

“We can’t wait for fans of this iconic series to re-visit, or discover for the first time, how generations of fans have been brought together via their shared loved of these stories,” Crosby said.

Trekkies: 25th Anniversary Edition offers a new 4K scan restoration, as well as new retrospective featurette “A Trek Back” with Crosby and director Roger Nygard about the making of the film.

“We’re so thrilled to be celebrating the 25th anniversary of our film with this newly restored edition,” Nygard said.

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Shout! Factory previously released Blu-ray editions of What We Left Behind, a 2019 retrospective about the 1993-99 series “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” and The Captains Collection, a selection of documentaries about “Star Trek” by Capt. Kirk actor William Shatner, including interviews with some of the other performers who played “Star Trek” captains.

Black Comedy ‘Deadly Cuts’ Due on Demand March 11 From Level 33

The black comedy Deadly Cuts will debut on demand March 11 from Level 33 Entertainment.

It will also have a limited theatrical release on the same date.

In the film, in a working-class neighborhood of Dublin known as Piglinstown, gang violence and gentrification threaten the community. Salon owner Michelle employs Stacey, Gemma and Chantelle at Deadly Cuts, where they accidentally murder gang leader Deano and dispose of his body. Meanwhile, the women set out to save the salon from gentrification by winning a hair-styling competition against their posh rivals.

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Oscar-Nominated Animated Documentary ‘Flee’ Due on Blu-ray March 1 From Distribution Solutions and Decal

The Oscar-nominated animated documentary Flee will be released on Blu-ray March 1 from Neon’s Decal label and Distribution Solutions.

The film has been nominated for three Academy Awards, Best Documentary, Best Animated Feature Film and Best International Feature Film (Denmark).

Recounted through animation, the documentary tells the story of Amin Nawabi’s extraordinary journey as a child refugee from Afghanistan to Denmark.

The film is directed by Jonas Poher Rassmussen and features the voices of Daniel Karimyar, Daniel Karimyar and Daniel Karimyar.

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Apple TV+ Orders Limited Series Starring Michael Douglas as Ben Franklin

Apple TV+ has ordered a new limited event series with Academy, Emmy and AFI Lifetime Achievement Award winner Michael Douglas set to star in the lead role as Benjamin Franklin.

Michael Douglas will star as Ben Franklin.

From Emmy and WGA Award-winning writer Kirk Ellis (“John Adams”) and Emmy and DGA Award-winning director Tim Van Patten, the series is based on the book A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France and the Birth of America by Pulitzer Prize winner Stacy Schiff. It is a co-production between ITV Studios America and Apple Studios.

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The drama will explore the story of one of the greatest gambles of Benjamin Franklin’s career. At age 70, without any diplomatic training, Franklin convinced France — an absolute monarchy — to underwrite America’s experiment in democracy. By virtue of his fame, charisma and ingenuity, Franklin outmaneuvered British spies, French informers and hostile colleagues, all while engineering the Franco-American alliance of 1778 and the final peace treaty with England of 1783. 

David Lean Classics ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ and ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’ Available in 4K Steelbooks June 7

Two David Lean classics, Lawrence of Arabia and The Bridge on the River Kwai, will be released in separate limited-edition 4K Ultra HD Steelbooks June 7 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Both releases feature Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos.

Celebrating its 6oth anniversary and winner of seven Academy Awards — including Best Director for Lean and Best Picture of 1962 — Lawrence of Arabia stars Peter O’Toole as T.E. Lawrence, the audacious World War I British army officer who heroically united rival Arab desert tribes and led them to war against the mighty Turkish Empire.

Special features on companion Blu-ray Discs include Peter O’Toole revisiting the film; making-of documentaries; and directors Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg and William Friedkin reflecting on the film.

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Celebrating its 65th anniversary, Lean’s epic World War II adventure The Bridge on the River Kwai won seven 1957 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Alec Guinness) and Best Director (Lean). In the film, when British POWs build a vital railway bridge in enemy-occupied Burma, Allied commandos are assigned to destroy it.

Special features include the “Crossing the Bridge: Picture-in-Picture Graphics Track”; a making-of documentary; “The Steve Allen Show” with William Holden and Guinness; The Bridge on the River Kwai premiere narrated by Holden; the “Rise and Fall of a Jungle Giant” featurette; a USC short film introduced by Holden; an appreciation by filmmaker John Milius; a photo gallery; and theatrical trailers.

Animated Sequel ‘Sing 2’ Tops Weekly Vudu Chart

Universal Pictures’ animated sequel Sing 2 climbed to the top of the chart of the 10 most-popular titles on Fandango’s transactional digital service Vudu the week ended Feb. 27.

The Illumination film, which rose from No. 3 to the top spot on the chart, became available for premium digital rental Jan. 7. It follows the animal singers as they plan a new show and try to persuade the world’s most reclusive rock star, Clay Callaway (voice of Bono), to join them. The film also features the voices of Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson and Taron Egerton.

Sony Pictures’ Ghostbusters: Afterlife fell from the top spot to No. 2 on the chart. Available for digital rental and purchase, the franchise relaunch from director Jason Reitman and produced by his late father is a sequel to the two 1980s “Ghostbusters” movies. It follows a single mom and her two kids who arrive in a small town and begin to discover their connection to the original Ghostbusters.

Landing at No. 3 (falling from No. 2) was Disney’s 20th Century Studios prequel The King’s Man, newly available for digital rental and purchase Feb. 18. The action comedy, set during World War I, tells the origin story of the world’s very first independent intelligence agency. The film stars Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arterton, Rhys Ifans, Matthew Goode, Tom Hollander, Harris Dickinson, Daniel Brühl, Djimon Hounsou and Charles Dance.

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Rising from No. 9 to No. 4 was Warner Bros.’ Dune, based on the sci-fi novel by Frank Herbert and starring Timothee Chalamet. It is available for digital rental and purchase.

Landing at No. 5 was The 355, which became available for digital purchase Feb. 22. It follows wild-card CIA agent Mason “Mace” Brown (Jessica Chastain), who joins forces with rival German agent Marie (Diane Kruger), former MI6 ally and cutting-edge computer specialist Khadijah (Lupita Nyong’o), and skilled Colombian psychologist Graciela (Penélope Cruz) on a lethal mission to retrieve a top-secret weapon that has fallen into mercenary hands. 

Vudu’s top 10 titles for the week ended Feb. 27, in terms of revenue, were:

  1. Sing 2
  2. Ghostbusters: Afterlife
  3. The King’s Man
  4. Dune
  5. The 355
  6. Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City
  7. American Underdog
  8. Venom: Let There Be Carnage
  9. House of Gucci
  10. A Journal for Jordan

GKIDS, Shout! Factory Set Digital, Disc Release Dates for ‘Belle’

Belle, the critically hailed anime film from Academy Award-nominated director Mamoru Hosoda, will be released to home viewers in May by GKIDS and Shout! Factory.

The film will be available through digital retailers on May 3, and on Blu-ray Disc (in a DVD combo pack) two weeks later, on May 17. 

A heartfelt story of growing up in the era of social media, Belle also will be available in a Steelbook edition exclusive to Target.

The Blu-ray + DVD combo pack and Steelbook editions will come with a number of bonus features, including a conversation with director Hosoda, the featurettes “The Making of Belle,” “The Music of Belle,” and “Finding the Voice of Belle,” a documentary on the drawing of Belle, a design gallery and scene breakdowns.

Digital versions of the film will be available both in the original Japanese and as an English dub, while the Blu-ray + DVD combo pack and Steelbook editions will contain both Japanese and English versions. 

Belle‘s English voice cast includes Chace Crawford, Manny Jacinto, Kylie McNeill and Hunter Schafer. 

Advance orders for the film may be placed now at ShoutFactory.com.