‘X-Men: Dark Phoenix’ Rises to Top of Disc Sales Charts

X-Men: Dark Phoenix, from Disney-owned 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, debuted at No. 1 on the NPD VideoScan 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. 21.

The 12th “X-Men” movie, and fourth set in the “First Class” timeline, was a box office disappointment with just $65.9 million earned at the domestic box office, the lowest of the franchise based on the Marvel Comics mutants. After Disney purchased the Fox studio, it was touted as the final “X-Men” film of the Fox era, since Disney is expected to reboot the characters as part of the mega-successful Marvel Cinematic Universe. (Another Fox-produced “X-Men” movie, New Mutants, has yet to be released.)

Dark Phoenix was the only new release to crack the top 20 sales charts.

Blu-ray formats accounted for 69% of all Dark Phoenix sales, with 18% of that total coming from 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.

Slipping to No. 2 on both charts was Disney’s live-action Aladdin, selling 92% as many copies in its second week as the newly arrived Dark Phoenix.

Lionsgate’s John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum slipped a spot to No. 3 on both charts.

No. 4 on the overall sales chart went to Sony Pictures’ Men in Black: International, which was No. 6 on the Blu-ray chart.

No. 5 on both charts was Disney’s Avengers: Endgame in its sixth week on shelves.

The No. 4 Blu-ray was Disney’s “Signature Collection” re-release of the 1992 animated Aladdin.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The Media Play News rental chart for the week ended Sept. 22 also had Dark Phoenix at No. 1, the live-action Aladdin at No. 2, John Wick: Chapter 3 at No. 3 and Men in Black: International at No. 4.

Universal Pictures’ horror movie Ma was the No. 5 rental.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 9-21-19
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 9-22-19
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 9-21-19
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 9-21-19
Sales Report for Week Ended 9-21-19
Digital Sales Snapshot for Week Ended 9-23-19

X-Men: Dark Phoenix

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Fox;
Action;
Box Office $65.85 million;
$29.99 DVD, $37.99 Blu-ray, $45.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action including some gunplay, disturbing images, and brief strong language.
Stars James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, Evan Peters, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Jessica Chastain.

With Dark Phoenix, the Fox era of “X-Men” movies comes to an end not with a bang, but with a whimper.

Of course, looking back at the franchise, while it has left its mark on the landscape of superhero cinema, the films have never really been the most consistent in terms of quality. And a lot of that might owe to the filmmakers’ dubious relationship with not just the source material, but the other films in the franchise as well.

Some have been standouts — X2, Days of Future Past, Deadpool and Logan being the biggest highlights on most lists — and some, such as X-Men Origins: Wolverine, were forgettable enough that even the film that used time travel to reset the timeline ignored it.

Going in, the 12th “X-Men” movie, Dark Phoenix, had a few factors to overcome. It would be following up the disappointing X-Men: Apocalypse with a first-time director, Simon Kinberg, albeit someone who was at least familiar with the franchise having written several of the previous films. And it would be coming out amid Disney’s takeover of the Fox studio, meaning that future “X-Men” movies would likely come from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and feature a whole new cast and creative team and have nothing to do with the Fox movies. That lack of a narrative future combined with the release date for Dark Phoenix getting pushed back further and further left an impression that it was more of a remnant of a bygone era than an entry audiences could really care about.

In that regard, at least it made it to theaters. Fox also left over a New Mutants film that still needs a final polish if it is to ever see the light of day.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Even so, the signs are evident within Dark Phoenix of a franchise on its last legs even without the intrigue of inter-studio transition (much of this carrying over from Apocalypse).

For his part, Kinberg wanted a second chance to take on the “Dark Phoenix Saga,” one of the most famous “X-Men” storylines from the comics, and one that was adapted somewhat in 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand, which Kinberg co-wrote. But where it was just one of several storylines serving that muddied third “X-Men” movie, the reboot that came with Days of Future Past would allow Kinberg to spend an entire movie on it.

Dark Phoenix also picks up the tradition begun in 2011’s First Class of setting subsequent “X-Men” movies in a new decade. So the action picks up in 1992, nine years after the events of Apocalypse. Now seen by the world as heroes, the X-Men conduct a mission to rescue a space shuttle crew from a mysterious space cloud, which ends up being absorbed by Jean Grey (Sophie Turner).

The power contained within the cloud ends up unlocking hidden secrets involving Jean, which puts her at odds with Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and the rest of the X-Men. As she sets out on her own, she is pursued by an alien leader (Jessica Chastain) who wants the power for herself.

So in that description lies the elements for a big, sprawling epic — space adventure, mysterious superpowers, alien invasions. And yet, instead of going big, Kinberg chooses to go small, trimming the potential for more world-building in favor of focusing on Jean’s personal struggles to deal with her new abilities and what that means to Charles. And the aliens are treated as little more than another nuisance for the mutants to handle, rather than the film realizing that this is the first time these films have had to deal with cosmic matters.

This could have been the Avengers: Endgame of Fox’s “X-Men” franchise, but its scope is so limited it ends up feeling more like a direct-to-video sequel.

According to Kinberg in both the feature-length commentary and several behind-the-scenes featurettes, this was by design, as the constraints of a psychological drama more more appealing to the kind of director he wanted to be. So while it’s very much the film he wanted to make, and any director would still have had his script as a starting point, the question of whether his directorial sensibilities were the right fit will always loom over the final product. (And, to be fair, the question of who else they could have gotten to direct also is fair, especially considering how much of a Hollywood pariah franchise stalwart Bryan Singer turned out to be.)

A couple of other factors contribute to the film’s sense of disconnect from the rest of the franchise. First, despite the time jump from the previous film, there is very little sense of character development in the interim. The team is the same as it was at the end of the previous movie, and any new characters are reduced to little more than fan service cameos (a complaint that could be lodged against a number of the previous movies too). Kinberg in one of the featurettes mentions thinking of this film as more of a reboot with the same cast, rather than a continuation of previously established plot threads. This isn’t the first time this kind of approach seems to have been applied to the “X” movies, as numerous potential story points and character relationships are hinted at only to be ignored later, it does seem more in force with Dark Phoenix, which is a shame.

And while musical consistency has never been a strength of this franchise, the previous “X” movies at least demonstrated a musical progression through the themes that composer John Ottman originally introduced in X2. All of that is abandoned here though in favor of the generic synth tones of Hans Zimmer and his musical score factory. It serves Kinberg’s low-key approach but does nothing for sparking the sense of nostalgia this film could have used to send this particular iteration of the franchise out on a higher note.

Of course, getting pushed to a summer release date didn’t do Dark Phoenix any favors, as it simply invited comparisons to Endgame, which traded heavily on its sense of nostalgia for the characters, especially in how it presented the music for them.

The important lesson here is that in adapting a particular comic book storyline into a long-running series (films or TV), is that the ongoing storylines should be serviced by, not sacrificed to the adaptation. The movie, show or franchise still needs to stand on its own, and the best adaptations are able to appease both longtime fans of the material and new viewers unfamiliar with it, often by adhering to the spirit of the work if not a literal re-creation of it.

That doesn’t mean Dark Phoenix is unwatchable. Just the notion of revisiting the “Dark Phoenix Saga” makes the film a curio, if only to compare it to The Last Stand. And make no mistake, there are quite a few echoes of that previous film here.

In addition, there are plenty of dazzling visual effects when the film bothers with them, and the film looks great, particularly during the shuttle rescue sequence.

And it’s still good to see the cast return, even if the story isn’t quite sure how best to utilize them. Ultimately, the film does provide enough of a sense of closure to the Fox era, particularly the four films of the “First Class” continuity.

The Blu-ray is also fascinating in how the bonus materials demonstrate the clear disconnect between how the film unfolds in the filmmakers’ minds, and what it ended up being.

In addition to Kinberg’s commentary (shared with producer Hutch Parker), the Blu-ray also includes three-and-a-half minutes of deleted scenes that mostly offer redundant information to what’s established in the film, but also provide an alternate ending of sorts.

The centerpiece of the extras is the five-part documentary “Rise of the Phoenix: The Making of Dark Phoenix,” which runs about 81 minutes in total and offers a comprehensive view of the production. Supplementing it is a 13-minute scene-breakdown of the creation of a battle on New York’s 5th Avenue (re-created on a stage in Montreal).

Rounding out the package is a lighthearted two-minute video of Beast (Nicholas Hoult) teaching viewers how to fly the X-Jet.

 

 

‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 3 on Disc Nov. 19

The Handmaid’s Tale: Season Three will arrive on Blu-ray and DVD Nov. 19 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

The third season of the Award-winning Hulu series is driven by June’s (Elisabeth Moss) resistance to the dystopian regime of Gilead, in which she finds herself once again after opting not to flee to Canada with her baby at the end of the second season. Now, she will struggle to strike back against the regime despite overwhelming odds.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The season three cast includes Cherry Jones and Bradley Whitford, who each recently won Emmys for guest acting in the second season. The cast also includes Christopher Meloni, Elizabeth Reaser, Joseph Fiennes, Yvonne Strahovski, Alexis Bledel, Madeline Brewer, Amanda Brugel, Ann Dowd, O-T Fagbenle, Max Minghella and Samira Wiley.

The disc includes the featurette “Power Play: Gilead’s Women Fight Back.”

Second Half of ‘Vikings’ Season 5 on Disc Oct. 8

MGM and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment will release Vikings: Season 5 Vol. 2 on Blu-ray and DVD Oct. 8.

In this half-season, Ivar the Boneless’ tyrannical reign as king of Kattegat ushers in a new Dark Age for Scandinavia. And while Bjorn and Lagertha flee Ivar’s murderous forces with Bishop Heahmund, Duke Rollo’s return brings even more upheaval. Meanwhile, Floki battles the elements-as well as his settlers’ thirst for revenge-in beautiful, desolate Iceland. Ultimately, the sons of Ragnar and old sworn enemies must become allies to challenge the despot Ivar, who has declared himself a god. The gut-wrenching action and dramatic plot twists reach a fever pitch as the season unfolds.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The Blu-ray and DVD will include extended versions of all 10 episodes (broadcast versions are not included with the DVD edition).

Extras include commentaries with creator Michael Hirst and actor Gustaf Skarsgard, deleted scenes, and featurettes “The Epic War of Ragnar’s Sons” and “The King and the Warrior Bishop.”

 

BASE: Packaged Media Still Dominates Sluggish Half-Year U.K. Home Video Sales

Despite competition from subscription streaming video services, consumers in the United Kingdom continue to covet ownership of physical and digital home entertainment.

Half-year sales figures from the British Association for Screen Entertainment — citing Official Charts Co. data — found consumers in the world’s No. 2 home video market purchased more than 32 million DVD, Blu-ray, 4K UHD and EST (electronic sellthrough) combined units for a retail value of £294.5 million ($366.5 million).

Despite a tough retail environment, physical disc formats remain the first choice for consumers, with a total of 22.3 million physical copies sold at a value of £215.8 million ($268.7 million), with DVD, Blu-ray and 4K UHD formats representing 65% of sales.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

At title level, disc remains the consumer’s go-to for ownership, and is the majority-selling format for 80% out of the top 100 titles.

Approaching 1 million physical copies sold, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment’s Bohemian Rhapsody leads the competition with more than 913,400 physical copies sold.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group’s A Star is Born follows, selling 531,900 copies on disc, as U.K. consumers continue their appetite for musicals, with musicals and music-led titles making up half of the Top 10 best-selling disc titles.

Long-standing franchises also continue to see physical success, with Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group’s Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald selling more than 542,000 copies.

That said, SVOD continues to shrink the retail market.

The combined volume of disc and digital sales declined 16%, with customer spend down 17.4% against a backdrop of evolving consumption habits.

Indeed, June saw the lowest retail sales on record as consumer confidence continues to be challenged.

“Notwithstanding an extremely challenging retail landscape across many categories as we reach the halfway point in 2019, consumers remain wedded to ownership in many cases, with the substantial growth of digital transaction and the enduring strength of physical disc sales testament to the integral part that collection and curation plays in all of our leisure time,” Liz Bales, CEO at BASE, said in a statement.

“The standout success of titles like Bohemian Rhapsody shows that even in the context of a wealth of options vying for that leisure time, high quality content continues to excite and inspire home audiences to bring their favorite titles home on both digital and physical formats. Consumers and our colleagues across the category have much to look forward to with an extensive slate of stellar content set to release in the next half of the year.”

Season 19 of ‘The Simpsons’ Coming to DVD Dec. 3

The panel for “The Simpsons” at San Diego Comic-Con International July 20 included the announcement that The Simpsons: The Nineteenth Season will arrive on DVD Dec. 3 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

The DVD will include all 20 episodes from the 2007-08 season, which was the first season to air after the release of The Simpsons Movie. Notable episodes include the Sideshow Bob focused adventure “Funeral for a Fiend,” the WGA-nominated “Homer of Seville,” and the Emmy-winning “Eternal Moonshine of the Simpsons Mind.”

Extras include an introduction by creator Matt Groening, commentaries on all 20 episodes, a special language feature, and a “Thank You.”

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The release of the 19th season will mark the completion of the first 20 seasons on home video. Season 20 was released without the usual extras on Blu-ray and DVD in 2010 to celebrate the show’s 20th anniversary.

Following the release of season 17 in 2014, Fox announced in 2015 that it would not release any more DVDs of the show, with the possible exception of a complete-series set when the show ultimately concluded, as all episodes were online. However, fan demand prompted the DVD release of season 18 in 2017.

The 31st season of “The Simpsons” will premiere Sept. 29 on the Fox network, which has also ordered season 32. The show, which was acquired by Disney as part of the buyout of most Fox studio assets, will also be available online through the Disney+ streaming service after it launches Nov. 12.

‘Dark Phoenix’ Coming Home in September

X-Men: Dark Phoenix will be available through digital retailers Sept. 3, and on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc Sept. 17 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

The final installment of Fox’s “X-Men” franchise produced before the studio’s acquisition by Disney stars Sophie Turner, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence.

The story involves Jean Grey (Turner) being transformed by a dangerous power during an X-Men mission into space.

The film earned $65 million at the domestic box office.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The Blu-ray and digital editions include deleted scenes. The Blu-ray and digital copies from iTunes and Movies Anywhere will offer optional deleted scenes commentary by writer-director Simon Kinberg and producer Hutch Parker.

Other extras include feature commentary by Kinberg and Parker, the five-part documentary “Rise of the Phoenix: The Making of Dark Phoenix,” and the featurette “How to Fly Your Jet to Space with Beast”

Digital versions will also include a scene breakdown of the 5th Avenue Sequence.

‘Tolkien’ to Arrive on Digital July 23, Disc Aug. 6 From Fox

Tolkien, about the life of the famous “The Lord of the Rings” author, will come out on digital (including Movies Anywhere) July 23 and Blu-ray and DVD Aug. 6 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

The biopic follows the early years of J.R.R Tolkien (Nicholas Hoult) from the halls of Oxford to the grim and bloody trenches of World War I. It also traces the relationships that defined the legendary author he would become, chronicling his romance with Edith Brant (Lily Collins), as well as the various members of the Tea Club, Barrovian Society.

Special features include deleted scenes with optional commentary by director Dome Karukoski and audio commentary by Karukoski.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Animated Film ‘Missing Link’ Coming to Digital July 9, Disc July 23 From Fox

Missing Link, the newest stop-motion animated feature from Laika, arrives on digital July 9 and Blu-ray and DVD July 23 from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Hugh Jackman, Zoe Saldana and Zach Galifianakis lead the voice cast in the adventure from the makers of Coraline and Kubo and the Two Strings. Jackman is Sir Lionel Frost, a brave and dashing adventurer who considers himself to be the world’s foremost investigator of myths and monsters. The trouble is no one else seems to agree. Galifianakis is Mr. Link. As species go, he’s as endangered as they get; he’s possibly the last of his kind, he’s lonely, and he believes that Sir Lionel is the one man alive who can help him. Along with the independent and resourceful Adelina Fortnight (Saldana), who possesses the only known map to the group’s secret destination, the unlikely trio embarks on a journey to seek out Link’s distant relatives in the fabled valley of Shangri-La.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Disc extras include commentary by director Chris Butler; “Creating Mr. Link”; “Bringing the Final Battle on the Ice Bridge to Life”; animation inspiration w/optional commentary by Butler; a VFX breakdown reel; “Oh What a Mystery: Pulling the Camera Back on Missing Link’s Magic”; “Making Faces”; “Inside the Magic of Laika”; and a photo gallery.

‘Alita: Battle Angel’ Heading Home in July

The sci-fi actioner Alita: Battle Angel will be released July 9 digitally, and July 23 on Blu-ray, DVD and as a combo pack containing 4K Ultra HD and 3D Blu-rays of the film.

Produced by James Cameron and Jon Landau, directed by Robert Rodriguez, and based on a 1990s Japanese manga series, the film stars Rosa Salazar as Alita, a discarded cyborg in a futuristic city searching for clues to remember her past. The cast also includes Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali, Ed Skrein, Jackie Earle Haley and Keenan Johnson.

The film has earned $85.7 million at the domestic box office and $405 million worldwide.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The DVD, Blu-ray and digital versions, from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, now part of the Walt Disney Co., will include four “Alita’s World” motion comics and the featurette “From Manga to Screen.”

The Blu-ray and digital versions will also include four scene deconstructions; a compilation of Cameron’s 2005 concept art; a Q&A with Cameron, Rodriguez and cast moderated by Landau; an “Evolition of Alita” featurette; a “Motorball” featurette; and “Robert Rodriguez’s 10-Minute Cooking School: Chocolate.”

The digital version will also include a “Musical Themes” featurette; a “Streets of Iron City” set tour with Rodriguez; “Allies and Adversaries” vignettes; a reel of 2016 concept art; and theatrical trailers.

The 4K presentation will include high dynamic range in Dolby Vision, HDR10 and HDR10+ formats.