Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri


Box Office $53.35 million;
$29.99 DVD, $34.99 Blu-ray, $39.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for violence, language throughout, and some sexual references.
Stars Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Zeljko Ivanek, Caleb Landry Jones, Kerry Condon, Abbie Cornish, Peter Dinklage, John Hawkes, Amanda Warren, Clarke Peters.

Writer-director Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards offers an intense, character-driven examination of the relationship between small-town police and the residents they serve.

Frances McDormand gives a powerhouse performance as Mildred, whose bitterness over the stalled investigation into her daughter’s murder motivates her to rent space on the billboards of the title excoriating the cops for their lack of progress.

This naturally raises tensions in the town, as supporters of the police demand she take the signs down while putting pressure on her friends and family to force her hand.

The police chief (Woody Harrelson), has his own issues to deal with, not the least of which is an alcoholic deputy named Dixon (Sam Rockwell), who is accused of torturing a black suspect in custody during an incident that allegedly happened before the start of the film’s story.

Three Billboards takes a multi-faceted view of cops’ racial attitudes in small-town America, and presents them as people and not as the caricatures some knee-jerk critics of the film would insist upon. Certainly the department must confront its troubled history of race relations, but the situation with Mildred might suggest they’re not great cops in general, or at the very least in over their head on some things.

Dixon, for example, has bigger dreams but little self-awareness, and his racism goes hand in hand with a general attitude of superiority about everyone, no doubt fueled by the toxic influences of his mother. His violent streak even extends to the white kid who sold the signs to Mildred and becomes the subject of a brutal beating in one of the film’s signature sequences — a single take of Dixon walking from the police station across the street to the advertising shop, up the stairs and back to admire the chaos of his handiwork.

Mildred and Dixon represent the opposing forces in the firestorm at the heart of the film, so it comes as little surprise that McDormand and Rockwell were among the most recognized performers of awards season.

The Blu-ray includes five deleted scenes running about seven minutes total that aren’t vital to the storylines but do offer some interesting additional character insights.

Also included is a comprehensive half-hour behind-the-scenes documentary in which McDonagh relates how seeing similar billboards on a tour of the American South inspired him to make the film. The featurette also includes a lengthy look at the making-of the single-take fight scene at the center of the film.

Finally, the disc offers McDonagh’s unrelated half-hour 2004 short film Six Shooter, which won the Oscar for Best Live-Action Short. The short stars Brendan Gleeson as a man on a train confronted with mortality and the foibles of the human condition.

Oscar-Nominated ‘The Post’ to Hit Digital April 3, Disc April 17

The Post, which earned Academy Award nominations for Best Picture and Best Actress (Meryl Streep), will come out on digital April 3, followed by DVD and 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray Disc April 17 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

The film will be available on digital locker service Movies Anywhere.

Based on a true story and directed by Steven Spielberg, the film stars Streep as Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham and Tom Hanks as editor Ben Bradlee as they wrestle with publishing the Pentagon Papers, government documents revealing secrets about the Vietnam War.

Special features include:

  • “Layout: Katharine Graham, Ben Bradlee & The Washington Post” (Blu-ray only), which explores the real-life characters at the heart of the story, Kay Graham and Ben Bradlee;
  • “Editorial: The Cast and Characters of The Post” (Blu-ray only), which covers the casting;
  • “The Style Section: Re-Creating an Era,” about the 1970s style of the film;
  • “Stop the Presses: Filming The Post,” with footage from filming; and
  • “Arts and Entertainment: Music for The Post,” in which Spielberg and composer John Williams talk about their 44-year partnership.

Einstein Biopic Series ‘Genius’ Due on DVD April 17

National Geographic’s first-ever scripted series, “Genius,” about the life of Nobel Prize-winning physicist Albert Einstein, will hit DVD April 17 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Geoffrey Rush stars as Einstein in the series from executive producers Brian Grazer and Ron Howard.

Special features include:

  • “Meet the Characters,”
  • “Einstein’s Love Life,”
  • “Einstein’s Escape From Hitler,”
  • “The Making of Genius,”
  • “Behind the Scenes with Ron Howard and Brian Grazer
  • “Behind the Scenes with the Cast,”
  • “Costumes and Makeup,”
  • “What Does ‘Genius’ Mean?,”
  • “Two Einsteins.”

‘Greatest Showman’ Due on Digital March 20, Disc April 10

The Greatest Showman will arrive on digital and Movies Anywhere March 20 and VOD, DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD Disc April 10 from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.

The musical, starring Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Zack Efron, Rebecca Ferguson and Zendaya, has earned more than $160 million at the box office.

The film picked up an Oscar nod for Best Original Song for “This is Me.” The song won a Golden Globe for Best Original Song, and Hugh Jackman was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actor for his performance.

Extras include two hours of behind-the-scenes footage, as well as sing-along and music machine “jukebox” features.

Fox Bows Anniversary Editions of ‘Planet of the Apes’ and ‘Sandlot’

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment is celebrating milestone anniversaries for 1968’s Planet of the Apes and 1993’s The Sandlot.

Feb. 6 saw the release of Planet of the Apes: 50th Anniversary Edition on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD, with special features including a behind the scenes documentary, “Beyond the Forbidden Zone” adventure game, original make-up tests, original on-site footage, and audio commentaries by key actors and cast. The digital versions, available through online retailers and Movies Anywhere, offer an exclusive new 50th anniversary bonus feature.

The Sandlot: 25th Anniversary Collector Edition arrives on Blu-ray March 27. Set in the early 1960s, the film follows a group of friends in a magical summer of baseball and other adventures. The gift set includes 10 custom Topps baseball cards — featuring Scotty Smalls, Benny “The Jet” and the rest of the ragtag roster — created exclusively for the release. It also includes an all-new booklet filled with behind-the-scenes photos from the film director’s personal archive, and an all-new, full-color poster. Extras include a featurette, theatrical trailer and TV spots.

Multi-Oscar-Nominee ‘Shape of Water’ Hits Digital Feb. 27, Disc March 13

Director Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water — a fantasy romance that racked up 13 Academy Award nominations, more than any other movie this year – will be released on Digital Feb. 27 and on disc two weeks later by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

The DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc editions arrive on March 13.

Special features include theatrical trailers and the featurettes “A Fairy Tale for Troubled Times,” “Anatomy of a Scene: Prologue,” “Anatomy of a Scene: The Dance,” “Shaping the Waves: A Conversation with James Jean,” and “Guillermo del Toro’s Master Class.”

The Shape of Water is a fairy tale set in the United States during the Cold War. In a secret government laboratory where she works, Elisa (Sally Hawkins) suffers from loneliness and isolation. Her life is changed when she and co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) stumble upon a secret classified experiment. Rounding out the cast are Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Michael Stuhlbarg and Doug Jones.

The Shape of Water been nominated for Best Picture and 12 other Oscars, including  Del Toro as Best Director, Hawkins as Best Actress, Spencer as Best Supporting Actress, Jenkins as Best Supporting Actor, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Original Score, Best Sound Editing, and Best Sound Mixing.

Oscar Frontrunner ‘Three Billboards’ Set for February Home Video Release

Acclaimed indie film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is slated to hit digital retail Feb. 13 and packaged media Feb. 27 from 2oth Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture,  Billboards features Oscar winner Francis McDormand (Fargo) as the defiant mother of murdered girl who erects three local signs with a controversial message seeking justice.

The billboards and McDormand soon come into conflict with local cop (Sam Rockwell) and the chief of police (Woody Harrelson).

Written and directed by Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards won four Golden Globes Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actress (McDormand) and Best Supporting Actor (Rockwell).

In addition to being available on Digital HD through Movies Anywhere and other digital retailers, the movie will be available on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.

Bonus material includes featurette “Crucify ‘Em: The Making of Three Billboards” and short film Six Shooter.

The disc release comes the week before the March 4 Oscars ceremony.

Video and Audio Center Opens New Flagship Store

Video and Audio Center held a gala opening party Jan. 25 for its new flagship showcase store in the Westfield Century City mall, which recently underwent a $1.4 billion makeover. Video and Audio Center has been introducing new technologies for more than 34 years, and its new store — tucked in a wing of the mall that also includes an Apple Store, a Rolex store and a Tesla dealership — is a new retail concept focused on the customer experience, with towering wall displays and interactive product exhibits. “This new technology showcase is the most advanced yet consumer friendly store we have introduced. The design of our innovative interactive space allows people to reach out and touch, feel and experience all the latest advancements in consumer technology,” said co-owner Joseph Akhtarzad.

The advanced displays and store layout are so unique that Video and Audio Center has applied for a federal copyright on its design. “This marks a totally new direction in consumer technology retailing, in a store front environment,” said Tom Campbell, Video and Audio Center corporate director and chief technologist.

A visit to the store on opening night was not unlike a visit to the main hall of CES less than a month earlier, just on a smaller scale.

Accordingly, the guest list included top technology, consumer electronics and entertainment industry executives, engineers and experts from companies such as 20th Century Fox, LG Electronics, Samsung North America and Sony Electronics of America, including Mike Dunn,  product strategy and consumer business development president at 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment; Mike Fidler, president of the UHD Alliance;  and Mike Fasulo, Sony Electronics of America president and COO.

The new store is Video and Audio Center’s fifth. The regional consumer electronics chain previously had a smaller store in the Westfield Century City mall before the shopping center’s big renovation.

PHOTO GALLERY: Video and Audio Center Flagship Store Opening, Jan. 25, 2018