Amazon Greenlights Four New Local Latin American Originals

Amazon has greenlit four new local original series from Argentina, Chile and Colombia, marking the first-ever locally produced Amazon Originals to launch in these countries that will also be available exclusively on Prime Video in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide.

The four scripted series announced consist of Argentinean original “Iosi, El Espía Arrepentido (“Iosi, The Repentant Spy”), a spy thriller; the Chilean originals “La Jauría” (“The Pack”), a mystery thriller, and “Colonia Dignidad” (“Dignity Colony”), a docuseries exploring the hidden truths behind one of Chile’s most dangerous cults; and the Colombian original series “Noticia de un Secuestro” (“News of a Kidnapping”), a suspenseful drama based on the non-fiction book by Gabriel García Márquez.

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“We know our Prime Video audiences across Latin America are eager for local shows from the best local voices, and we couldn’t be more excited to introduce these first local series for Argentina, Chile and Colombia that already have some of the most locally renowned directors and talent attached,” said James Farrell, head of international Amazon Originals, Amazon Studios, in a statement. “And in addition to delighting local audiences, we’re thrilled to be able to bring the work of these talented local writers, directors, producers and actors behind each series to an international audience of more than 100 million Prime members worldwide.”

‘Ultraman X’ and ‘Ultraman Ace’ Coming on Blu-ray This Spring From Mill Creek

Mill Creek Entertainment is releasing to new titles on Blu-ray from the “Ultraman” superhero library for their North American debut.

“Ultraman X” will arrive on Blu-ray as both a complete series plus movie combo pack at $39.98 and a movie-only, stand-alone Blu-ray at $19.98 on April 21.

“Ultraman Ace” will come out in a steelbook at $49.98 while the complete series will also be available in standard Blu-ray packaging at $39.98 on May 12.

The first Ultraman series with an ongoing antagonist, “Ultraman Ace” premiered in 1972 and features all of the earlier Ultra Heroes — Ultraman, Ultraseven, Ultraman Jack and Zoffy — as recurring characters. The releases include all 52 half-hour episodes with DTS-HD Master Audio of the original Japanese soundtrack with English subtitles. In this fifth entry in the Ultra Series, theinterdimensional alien Yapool launches a war against the Ultra Heroes for galactic domination. As the conflict spreads to Earth a new hero, Ultraman Ace, is tasked with protecting the planet from Yapool and his Terrible-Monsters, experimental beasts more powerful than ordinary monsters. Divided between his two human hosts’ personalities, Ace must learn to balance them and his superior energy powers as he battles alongside Earth’s Terrible-Monster Attacking Crew (TAC) and his fellow Ultramen to overcome these terrible new foes.

“Ultraman X” was originally released in 2015. When a massive “Ultra Flare” from the sun envelops the earth, Spark Dolls buried underground and undersea are turned into monsters. In order to deal with the sudden outbreak of marauding creatures, mankind forms Xio, a special defense team equipped with the latest in super-science. Then, 15 years later, Xio is engaged in battle against a monster when team member Daichi Ozora hears a mysterious voice say, “Unite! If you and I join together, you will fight that monster with one heart, one mind!” He agrees, merging with a giant of light to become Ultraman X. Also included with the complete, 25-episode series is the 2016 theatrical feature film Ultraman X: The Movie — Here He Comes! Our Ultraman. In the film, X is joined by his longtime ally Cyber Gomora and a team of Ultra Heroes (Ultraman, Ultraman Zero, Ultraman Max, Ultraman Victory, Ultraman Ginga, Ultraman Nexus and Ultraman Tiga) to stop the evil beast Zaigorg and a “powered up” army of classic monsters.

Digital redemption on Mill Creek Entertainment’s streaming service movieSpree is also included with each release.

Music Films ‘Martin Barre’ and ‘Bluebird,’ Biopic ‘Mrs. Lowry & Son’ Available on Disc From MVD and Cleopatra

Two music films, Martin Barre — Live in NYC and Bluebird, and a biopic on artist L.S. Lowry are just out on disc from MVD Entertainment Group and Cleopatra Entertainment.

Martin Barre, best-known as the guitarist in Jethro Tull, one of the biggest selling bands of all time, brings his famous guitar chops to the Big Apple in this rare concert in Martin Barre — Live in NYC. Available on DVD with two audio CDs of the entire concert, the deluxe collector’s edition comes in an eight-panel digipak. The titles covers his solo band live as they rock through the classic hits that earned him a reputation as one of the signature axemen of his era.

Bluebird, available on Blu-ray and DVD, chronicles the origins of megastars such as Garth Brooks and Taylor Swift while following emerging singer-songwriters as they chase their dreams inside The Bluebird Cafe, Nashville’s accidental landmark that has altered the course of music history. Its 35-year history is revealed through never-before-told stories from those that have worked, played, been discovered and helped preserve this unassuming strip-mall haunt. The film, an official selection at SXSW (2019), the Nashville Film Festival (2019) and the Newport Beach Film Festival (2019),  features interviews with Swift, Sam Hunt, Maren Morris, Faith Hill, Brooks, Trisha Yearwood and Vince Gill along with the stars of the hit TV series “Nashville.”

Mrs. Lowry & Son, available on DVD, chronicles the life of British artist L.S. Lowry (Timothy Spall), who lived all his life with his overbearing mother Elizabeth (Vanessa Redgrave). Bed-ridden and bitter, Elizabeth actively tried to dissuade her bachelor son from pursuing his artistic ambitions, whilst never failing to voice her opinion at what a disappointment he was to her.

Oscar-Nominated ‘Bombshell’ Due on Digital Feb. 25, Disc March 10 From Lionsgate

The Oscar-nominated Bombshell is coming home on digital Feb. 25 and on Blu-ray combo pack and DVD March 10 from Lionsgate.

The film has been nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Actress (Charlize Theron), Best Supporting Actress (Margot Robbie), and Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling (Kazu Hiro, Anne Morgan and Vivian Baker).

Theron, Nicole Kidman, Robbie and John Lithgow (as Roger Ailes) star in the film based on the real story of three ambitious, strong women who anchored one of America’s most powerful news networks, Fox News, becoming headlines themselves when they risked everything to stand up to the man who made them famous.

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The film also stars Kate McKinnon, Connie Britton, Malcolm McDowell and Allison Janney.

Disc bonus features include a seven-part making-of documentary featuring interviews with the cast and crew.

HBO Max Greenlights Animated Satire of British Royals ‘The Prince’

WarnerMedia’s pending streaming service HBO Max has greenlit the animated series “The Prince,” a satire of the British Royals.

Created by Gary Janetti (“Family Guy,” “Will & Grace), the series is inspired by Janetti’s Instagram account, which has nearly 1 million followers and has garnered international media attention for its satire of the royal family through the eyes of a young Prince George, eldest child of Prince William and Princess Kate. Janetti will star in the series as Prince George alongside the voice talents of Orlando Bloom as Prince Harry, Condola Rashad at Meghan Markle, Lucy Punch as Kate Middleton, Tom Hollander as both Prince Philip and Prince Charles, Alan Cumming as George’s butler Owen, Frances De La Tour as Queen Elizabeth, and Iwan Rheon as Prince William.

The SVOD service HBO Max is set to launch this spring at $14.99 a month.

“We’re so excited to bring the world Gary’s created on Instagram over to HBO Max, where our viewers can discover what his Instagram fans already know — that George can be hilarious, shocking, and surprisingly sweet,” said Sarah Aubrey, head of original content, HBO Max, in a statement. We can’t wait to see what Gary does with a bigger canvas to paint on than just a 1:1 square.”

“I’m thrilled to be working at HBO Max and bringing them yet another series about a family ruthlessly fighting for the throne,” said Janetti in a statement.

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“The Prince” is a biting, satirical look at the life of Prince George of Cambridge, the youngest heir to the British throne, as he navigates the trials and tribulations of being a royal child. Before George rules Britannia, he’ll be laying down his own laws in Janetti’s comedic take on the future King of England’s childhood as seen from the prince’s own point of view. Because his succession isn’t coming any time soon, in each episode George will find his path in life as a young prince in modern times — from the 775 rooms of Buckingham Palace to his family’s sea of corgis to primary school with commoners. “The Prince” also features notable characters in George’s life such as his parents the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, his fourth-in-line-for-the-throne little sister Charlotte, his modern Aunt Meghan and Uncle Harry, his great-grandad Philip,  and his Gan Gan Elizabeth.

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This is the second project for Janetti with HBO Max after the previously announced Brad and Gary Go To… (working title), a travel doc with his husband, popular celebrity stylist Brad Goreski that will begin production this year. Janetti’s recent book Do You Mind If I Cancel is a New York Times bestseller.

Chinese Animated Fantasy ‘Ne Zha’ Due on Digital Feb. 25, Disc — Including 4K — March 3 From Well Go

The Chinese animated fantasy-adventure Ne Zha will come out on digital Feb. 25 and on DVD, Blu-ray combo pack and 4K Ultra Blu-ray combo pack March 3 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

The release is dubbed in English.

Ne Zha is the first animated film selected as the Chinese entry for Best International Feature Film at the 92nd Academy Awards.

First-time feature film director Jiaozi brings to the screen the story of a boy with unique powers who is recruited to fight demons and save the community that initially fears him. The boy, Nezha, is birthed from a heavenly pearl by the Primeval Lord of Heaven. Born with unique powers, Nezha finds himself as an outcast who is hated and feared. Destined by prophecy to bring destruction to the world, he must choose between good and evil in order to break the shackles of fate and become the hero.

The film has earned more than $700.5 million at the global box office.

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‘Knives Out’ Coming Home on Digital Feb. 7, Disc — Including 4K — Feb. 25

The murder mystery Knives Out, which earned writer-director Rian Johnson an Oscar nod for Best Original screenplay, is heading home.

Lionsgate will release the whodunnit on digital Feb. 7 and 4K Ultra HD combo pack, Blu-ray combo pack, DVD and on demand Feb. 25.

The film, which has earned $278 million at the global box office, also received Golden Globe nominations for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy (Ana de Armas) and Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy (Daniel Craig). Written, produced, and directed by Johnson (Star Wars: The Last JediLooper), Knives Out also has received awards from AFI, National Board of Review, New York Film Critics, Philadelphia Film Festival, The Hollywood Critics Association and Rotten Tomatoes’ Golden Tomatoes Awards.

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In addition to Craig and de Armas, the film’s ensemble cast includes Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, LaKeith Stanfield, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martell and Christopher Plummer. It follows the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Plummer). There’s one thing that renowned Detective Benoit Blanc (Craig) knows for sure — everyone in the wildly dysfunctional Thrombey family is a suspect. Blanc must sift through a web of lies and red herrings to uncover the truth.

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Special features include an audio commentary and in-theater commentary by filmmaker Rian Johnson, two deleted scenes, the eight-part “Making a Murder” documentary, the “Rian Johnson: Planning the Perfect Murder” featurette, and a Q&A with the director and cast.

‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’ Coming to Digital Feb. 4, Disc — Including 4K — Feb. 18

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, starring Tom Hanks as the venerable Fred Rogers, will debut on digital Feb. 4 and 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD Feb. 18 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Hanks, who picked up an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for the role, portrays children’s television icon Mister Rogers of “Mister Rogers Neighborhood” in this film based on the true story of a real-life friendship between Rogers and journalist Tom Junod. After a jaded magazine writer (Matthew Rhys) is assigned a profile of Rogers, he overcomes his skepticism, learning about kindness, love and forgiveness from America’s most beloved neighbor.

The film also stars Susan Kelechi Watson and Chris Cooper.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood made $60.9 million at the global box office, all but about $300,000 of it in U.S. and Canadian theaters.

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Bonus features on the 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD include more than 15 minutes of additional scenes, a blooper reel, an all-new featurette starring Daniel Tiger, filmmaker commentary and a behind-the-scenes look at the film.

Netflix’s ‘Sex Education’ Tops Both TV Time Charts

Netflix’s “Sex Education” attracted the most audience interest on both TV Time charts for the week ended Jan. 19, topping both the Shows on the Rise and Binge Report lists.

Season 2 of the British dramedy, which follows a teen who offers sex advice to his peers, debuted Jan. 17.

Netflix’s “Grace and Frankie,” starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, came in at No. 2 on the rising show chart and No. 3 on the binge list. The sixth season of the series hit screens Jan. 15.

Netflix’s psychological thriller series “You,” season two of which hit screens Dec. 26, slipped to No. 2 on the binge chart after topping it for two weeks.

Meanwhile, HBO’s “The Outsider,” which debuted Jan. 12, took the bronze on the rising show chart. It’s based on the Stephen King novel and follows a police murder investigation that confronts the supernatural.

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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 service. 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.

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Top Binge Shows Week Ended Jan. 19 by Share of Binges:

  1. “Sex Education” (Netflix) — 15.67%
  2. “You” (Netflix) — 3.78%
  3. “Grace and Frankie” (Netflix) — 2.14%
  4. “Titans” (DC Universe) — 2.06%
  5. “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (NBC) — 1.85%
  6. “Friends” (NBC) — 1.79%
  7. “The Witcher” (Netflix) — 1.23%
  8. “Anne With an E” (CBC) — 1.03%
  9. “Jane the Virgin” (The CW) — 1.03%
  10. “Spinning Out” (Netflix) — 1.01%

 

 

Top Shows on the Rise Week Ended Jan. 19 by Rise Ratio:

  1. “Sex Education” (Netflix) — 98.1%
  2. “Grace and Frankie” (Netflix) — 94.6%
  3. “The Outsider” (HBO) — 77%
  4. “Legacies” (The CW) — 64.5%
  5. “Arrow” (The CW) — 57.4%
  6. “This Is Us” (NBC) — 55.3%
  7. “The Good Doctor” (ABC) — 48.6%
  8. “New Amsterdam” (NBC) — 48.5%
  9. “The Circle” (Netflix) — 45.9%
  10. “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (NBC) — 34.9%

‘Gemini Man’: Home Entertainment Shows Off Again With Will Smith

Whenever a new format hits the home entertainment market promising a leap in quality, there’s always that one disc that you choose to show it off.

When we were first demonstrating our HD system, the Blu-ray Disc of I, Robot, starring Will Smith, was our go-to title to wow the neighbors.

As 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc hits its stride, a Will Smith film is again showing what a new format can do.

In a first for Paramount, his film Gemini Man (just released on disc last week and topping the charts) is presented in 4K Ultra HD in 60fps (frames-per-second), along with an exclusive visual effects featurette also in 60fps. The increased frame rate provides exceptional sharpness and clarity versus the standard 24fps. It’s the first ever Dolby Vision high frame rate disc to be released, and according to Paramount executives will become the sort of disc that home theater enthusiasts will use to wow their friends.

“I think people are going to use this disc to show off their systems,” said Ed Hoxsie, Paramount SVP of worldwide product production, in demonstrating the disc to press last month. “They’re going to say, ‘Wow, I’ve never seen anything like this at home before.’”

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Now, I know some may find the greater clarity of the higher frame rate disconcerting, but it may just take some getting used to. As I watched the demo, I began to acclimate to the new, clearer image. Truly, I got used to the 60fps picture as the demonstration went on — and came to appreciate its visual nuances. The picture had an almost a visceral effect, something closer to real life than we’ve been accustomed to in our 24fps film view of the world. After all, it’s only convention that has us used to watching content at 24fps, noted Jeremy Miller, director of worldwide DVD and BD production.

One thing’s for sure: Will Smith is again the star of the home theater demo.