The heist-thriller Widows arrives on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Feb. 5 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.
Directed by Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave), and co-written by McQueen and Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl), the film focuses on four women with nothing in common but the debt their dead husbands left to a crime boss after a botched job got them killed.
The widows — Viola Davis (Fences), Michelle Rodriguez (“Fast & Furious” Franchise), Elizabeth Debicki (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2) and Cynthia Erivo (Bad Times at the El Royale) — come together to attempt a heist to pay off the debt.
The cast also includes Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall and Liam Neeson.
The film earned $42 million at the domestic box office.
The Blu-ray includes a photo gallery and nearly 60 minutes of behind-the-scenes featurettes, including “Widows Unmasked: A Chicago Story,” “Plotting the Heist: The Story,” “Assembling the Crew: Production” and “The Scene of the Crime: Locations.”
The digital download of Widows is expected Jan. 22, according to Apple’s iTunes.
The British Association for Screen Entertainment (BASE) Jan. 3 reported that the home entertainment market grew by 10% in 2018 from 2017, bringing the total value of the category to £2.34 billion ($2.9 billion).
The trade group said 63% of consumers rent or stream film and TV content, while 37% choose to buy and own content either on disc or download.
Among transactional retail, 59% of consumer spending is still attributed to physical content with DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K UHD Blu-ray continuing to be a key drivers across the market.
The strength of new release movies, in particular, also drove performance in other areas, as evidenced by the performance of original soundtracks across the music category throughout 2018.
“The third consecutive year of growth in the video category underlines the fact that audiences remain engaged with a broad variety of home entertainment content and format options,” Liz Bales, CEO of BASE, said in a statement. “This serves as a testament to the innovation and energy that continue to drive the home entertainment category even as the high streetretail environment presents clear challenges in some areas.”
BASE said the growth of digital transactional surpassed all expectations in 2018, reaching a total market value of £400 million ($503 million), and electronic sellthrough (EST) up 36%.
The Greatest Showman (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment) topped digital sales with more than 770,000 copies sold since the April release date. Other top-selling titles included titles Avengers: Infinity War (Disney), selling near 400,000 copies, with Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment) and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) both selling in excess of 270,000 digital copies each.
Overall, The Greatest Showman sold more than 2.68 million units, more than double the sales of the nearest competitor, with 72% of sales coming from physical formats.
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment) ended the year in second place with 86% of (1.12 million unit sales) coming from disc.
The top-10 film franchises grew their market share 17% compared to 2017. Disney’s Avengers: Infinity War, Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther sold more than 2.5 million units combined. Sony’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle sold more than 800,000 copies across physical and digital formats.
Paddington 2 (Studiocanal)and Peter Rabbit (Sony) ended 2018 ranked fifth and sixth, respectively, in sales. More than 74% of consumers bought Paddington 2 on DVD, helping Britain’s favorite marmalade-munching bear to reach number three in the standalone DVD sales chart.
Peter Rabbitwas the top children’s animated title with sales of 900,000 units across all formats. Disney’s Incredibles 2 finished second after a late November release, ahead of Coco and 2017 hit Moana at fourth. In CGI animation, StudioCanal’s Early Man proved that Aardman Animation still delights, and that stop-motion photography is not too old-school among consumers.
Among TV shows on disc, Game of Thrones: The Complete Seventh Season(Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group) sold more than 160,000 units to top the disc chart.
Both seasons of Netflix’s The Crown (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) finished among the top-five TV titles of the year, with season two selling more than 90,000 units and season one selling 81,000 units.
Universal Pictures ended the year as the No. 1 studio in U.K. retail with 18.4% market share in disc, and 20.1% when adding digital. BASE attributed Universal success to a diverse release slate, in addition to a distribution deal with Paramount Pictures and Dreamworks Animation’s back catalog.
Key successes included Darkest Hour, royal drama Victoria and Abdul, and horror hit, A Quiet Place. Franchise properties also performed well for the studio, with much-anticipated sequels like Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Tom Cruise’s sixth outing in Mission: Impossible–Fallout (Paramount Pictures, distributed by Universal), and the final chapter for Mr. and Mrs. Grey in Fifty Shades Freed all performing strongly for the home entertainment studio.
Disney led the Blu-ray market with more than 24% volume share and 26% value share due to the performance of the studio’s continuing franchises. Disney also topped the 4K UHD chart, with half of the top 10 best-selling Ultra HD discs sold in 2018 belonging to either the Marvel or Star Wars franchises – with Avengers: Infinity War and Star Wars: The Last Jedi taking first and second place respectively.
In packaged media, Blu-ray accounted for 24.3% of disc market valueunderscored by 5.3% increase in average unit selling price – attesting to the fact that consumers are willing to invest more in a high-quality home entertainment experience.
Within the Blu-ray market, 4K UHD keeps growing, with more than 330 titles currently available on the super high-definition format and 4K disc sales now representing 13% of total Blu-ray spend.
Top-selling 4K titles included Blade Runner 2049 (Sony), with 27% of Blu-ray value generated by 4K sales and Ready Player One (Warner) at 20.2%Other top sellers included Deadpool 2 (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment), Paramount’s Mission: Impossible –Fallout, and The Greatest Showman, coming in at number six in the UHD chart.
“Today’s customers enjoy a multitude of options when it comes to keeping themselves entertained and clearly continue to find a huge amount of relevance in the video category which, more flexibly than ever before, caters to every need; whether that is watching on the go, building a digital library or securing the absolute best viewing experience premium formats now guarantee,” said Bales. “We face into the New Year with a clear desire to build on successes but also to ensure that the degree of choice available remains one of the category’s great strengths.”
Once Upon a Deadpool will be available through digital retailers and Movies Anywhere Jan. 15 and as a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.
The ‘PG-13’ edited version of Deadpool 2 was released in theaters for two weeks before Christmas and earned $6 million. The family friendly version includes 20 minutes of new footage, including a Princess Bride-inspired framing device of Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) telling the story of the movie to Fred Savage.
As with the limited theatrical release, Fox will donate $1 from every Blu-ray purchase or digital transaction in the United States through Jan. 28 to Fudge Cancer, with a minimum donation of $100,000.
Deadpool 2 was previously released on Blu-ray as an ‘R’-rated theatrical cut and an unrated extended cut.
While Drew Goddard’s latest directorial effort isn’t as memorable as his horror deconstruction The Cabin in the Woods, the neo-noir thriller Bad Times at the El Royale still offers a solid showcase for its talented cast, a soundtrack fueled by a dynamite selection of period-appropriate songs, and a quirky setting that serves the story well.
Street Date 1/1/19; Fox; Thriller; Box Office $17.84 million; $29.98 DVD, $34.99 Blu-ray, $39.99 UHD BD; Rated ‘R’ for strong violence, language, some drug content and brief nudity. Stars Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm, Chris Hemsworth, Cailee Spaeny, Lewis Pullman, Nick Offerman, Shea Whigham.
Writer-director Drew Goddard’s scratches an itch to play in the noir sandbox with Bad Times at the El Royale, a breezy mystery that coasts on some nice directorial touches and the strength of its cast.
Not as engrossing or genre-bending as Goddard’s previous directorial effort, The Cabin in the Woods, Bad Times at the El Royale is more of a Tarantino-esque thriller that brings a group of strangers into a remote location and then reveals they aren’t quite who they claim to be.
The caper takes place at the El Royale hotel of the title, a former hotspot straddling the California-Nevada border that lost its popularity after losing its gambling license. The setting is apparently based on the real-life Cal-Neva Lodge, a Lake Tahoe hotspot that has seen its own troubled history. It also brings to mind the hotel managed by Tony Curtis in 40 Pounds of Trouble that was situated close enough to the stateline so he could see the Cali detectives waiting to nab him for missing alimony payments.
In the first scene we bear witness to Nick Offerman tearing up the floorboards in one of the rooms to stash a bag of what is presumably money, then restoring everything to its original condition before he gets shot by a shadowy associate.
Several years later, in 1969, a disparate group of travelers arrive, including a vacuum salesman (Jon Hamm), a priest (Jeff Bridges), a runaway (Dakota Johnson) and a lounge singer (Cynthia Erivo).
Thanks to flashbacks, a non-linear story structure, and a hidden corridor that looks into all the rooms unbeknownst to the guests via a two-way mirror, we soon learn their true identities, and what brought them to the El Royale (including who is after that floorboard cash).
Things heat up a bit with the arrival of a cult leader (Chris Hemsworth) looking for some missing “property” of his own.
In a good 29-minute behind-the-scenes featurette included as the only extra on the Blu-ray, Goddard discusses several reasons why he wanted to make this film. One was to assemble a talented cast and give him an excuse to pitch something to Jeff Bridges.
Another was the chance to explore the music of the genre and experiment with ways to tie the songs into the story. Goddard even refers to the film as a love letter to music and an appreciation for the ways it changed his life.
The featurette also provides some great insights into the production design and look of the film, such as how the filmmakers built the entire hotel on a soundstage in order to accomplish the shots they needed to get. There’s also some fascinating tidbits about the film’s use of (and in some cases, omission of) color — a subtle touch that helps establish the mood for a story that at times can get extremely dark.
We also get to see some of Bridges’ on-set photography, a tradition of his dating back to Starman.
The Western comedy-drama The Sisters Brothers will be released through digital retailers Jan. 22, and on Blu-ray and DVD Feb. 5 by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.
Based on the novel by Patrick deWitt and directed by Jacques Audiard, The Sisters Brothers is set during an 1850s gold rush and follows two brothers (John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix) earning a living as hired guns as they hunt down a chemist (Riz Ahmed) and his unlikely companion (Jake Gyllenhaal) who have stolen a valuable formula.
The Sisters Brothers premiered at the Venice Film Festival and earned Audiard the Silver Lion Award given to the best director of the festival.
The film carries an 85% Fresh score on RottenTomatoes.com and earned $3.1 million at the domestic box office.
Bonus materials include the featurettes “Striking Gold: Making a ‘Modern Day’ Western,” “Brothers Forever” and “Wanted Dead or Alive”; a Q&A panel; a gallery; and the theatrical trailer.
Seth MacFarlane’s slick sci-fi throwback invites comparisons to “Star Trek” with its very nature, but pokes fun at sci-fi platitudes every chance it gets while still fully embracing them with a charming mix of humor and earnest storytelling.
Stars Seth MacFarlane, Adrianne Palicki, Penny Johnson Jerald, Scott Grimes, Peter Macon, Halston Sage, J. Lee, Mark Jackson.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Seth MacFarlane is flattering the heck out of “Star Trek.”
MacFarlane, a hardcore “Star Trek” fan who parlayed his fame into appearing as an extra in two episodes of “Star Trek: Enterprise,” has often said in interviews, and repeats the assertion in the DVD’s bonus materials, that he always wanted to make a sci-fi show that embraced the idea of an optimistic future for mankind, not unlike “Star Trek.”
Of course, MacFarlane is also the creator of “Family Guy” and Ted, a reputation that brings with it the expectation of a certain type of off-the-cuff humor.
“The Orville” presents a typical sci-fi future that serves as an obvious stand-in for the constructs of “Star Trek” — namely an enlightened Earth-centric interplanetary alliance, a fleet of starships devoted to exploration, and the alien enemies they encounter. Paradoxically, the show is eager to lampoon the platitudes of “Trek” while at the same time fully embracing them.
The series is set 400 years in the future, and starts with a Planetary Union officer named Ed Mercer (MacFarlane) flying back to his apartment after a hard day’s work only to discover his wife in bed with a blue alien (who, it turns out, is played by Rob Lowe in a cameo that is revisited with a fuller guest appearance in a later episode).
A year later, with his life and career spinning out of control, the fleet offers Mercer the captain’s chair of the mid-size exploratory vessel U.S.S. Orville, which he accepts as a chance to move past his troubles. The only hitch is that his now ex-wife (Adrianne Palicki) is assigned as his first officer. Resentments aside, they still work well together, as she’s doing her best to atone for what she did.
With the introduction of the rest of the ship’s senior staff to establish the requisite quirky personalities that will serve the show’s needs, the mission can get underway.
From there, “The Orville” begins its tricky balancing act between being an homage to “Star Trek” and a parody of it, from aping the general style of the legendary franchise to referencing very specific scenes (the ship’s launch from spacedock is heavily inspired by the departure of the Enterprise in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, down to a guy in a spacesuit waving goodbye).
The show even uses the same camera angles for the establishing shots of the ship that were a staple of the “Next Generation” era of “Star Trek.” In its second episode, “The Orville” introduces an old-school opening title sequence that is practically a shot-by-shot re-creation of the “Star Trek: Voyager” main credits, showcasing adventures of the ship encountering various galactic phenomena while the cast’s names fly by to the strains of a lush musical score.
Enhancing the connection to “Star Trek” is the fact that many of the producers, directors and crafters of “The Orville” are former “Trek” staffers bringing those old sensibilities to the new show.
For the most part, though, the show pokes fun at the tropes of “Star Trek” or reframes them using current sensibilities, stepping back from the “Star Trek” depiction of an evolved humanity (which the “Star Trek” franchise itself began to poke a stick at once Gene Roddenberry’s involvement diminished).
The look and feel is very reminiscent of the fictional series at the heart of “Galaxy Quest,” another sci-fi “Trek” homage comedy to which “The Orville” is often compared.
The show has a distinct visual style, loading the screen with color and glossy visual effects that strike the right balance between verisimilitude and a cartoonish sense of fun, from the title starship looking like a bottle opener to crewmembers who are essentially just talking blobs of goo.
Jokes typically involve pop-culture references, comments on the mundane vagaries of life, or clever sight gags. The constant pop-culture references do expose a gap in the writing in that there doesn’t seem to be any pop culture between now and when the show is set. (A similar problem shows up in Ready Player One.)
For his part, MacFarlane is essentially playing himself as if he were Capt. Kirk, the ultimate self-referential fantasy fulfillment. McFarlane has too much respect for “Star Trek” to do a full-on parody, so he’s trying to settle on a laid-back approach akin to co-worker office banter, rather than go full tilt comedy and just stuff the frame with gags like an Airplane or Naked Gun.
In many ways, “The Orville” plays like a sci-fi version of MacFarlane’s A Million Ways to Die in the West, which surrounded a lampoon of Western stereotypes with the trappings of a traditional cinematic epic. (“The Orville” is also an excuse for MacFarlane to reunite with some of his West cast, with guest star turns from Liam Neeson and Charlize Theron.)
The show’s breezy style stands in contrast to the earnestness of its storytelling, which may be why its makers seem to have trouble in interviews and Q&A’s explaining exactly what the tone is supposed to be. Many episodes are even topical with their exploration of modern issues and parallels to current events.
That’s probably why so many fans of “Star Trek” from its 1990s heyday love the show so much, as it fills their need for the simple, eager thoughtfulness the franchise used to be known for, rather than the over-produced, action-based noise that has taken over since it was rebooted.
Some of the high-concept morality plays also bring to mind episodes of the parallel-reality series “Sliders,” particularly an episode centered on an Earth-like world that has structured its society around the dictates of social media reactions.
The tonal shift is a major reason why critics have been stingy in their appreciation of the show, with most of the major criticisms come from people who never really embraced “Star Trek” the way its fans do — for not only its message, characters and settings, but despite its idiosyncrasies, inconsistencies and even its flaws (and, in many cases, love it because of those things).
They also complain that the show’s shifts between comedy and drama make it hard to follow, but I find it’s easier to just accept it all as comedy, especially the parts that try to be serious. It’s like performance art, with the joke being how much they’re trying to present serious sci-fi during insanely absurd premises. It’s kind of like when Andy Kaufman would upend his set by just reading The Great Gatsby all night. The intense commitment to the material is the joke. This isn’t a sci-fi show with an optimistic view of the future. It’s an homage to fans of such shows.
In the framework of its brand of existential comedy, “The Orville” goes to great lengths to put its audience in the mindset of watching a “Star Trek” show, only to completely obliterate the seriousness of televised sci-fi. The comedy isn’t always just in the jokes or the dialogue. It’s in the fabric of the show and the situations it presents as seriously as it can.
First, it basically takes Starfleet and staffs it not with a stuffy crew of humanist explorers driven by idealism, but with regular people. That gives us a “Star Trek”-style show in which the ship’s crewmembers are basically fans doing cosplay — complete with whatever side remarks and jokey banter fans might make while watching a “Star Trek” show together.
Characters often behave as if they know they’re on a sci-fi show, and that seems to be the intention. For example, in one scene an alien character is shown sitting on an egg — not unusual in the “Star Trek” sense of celebrating the diversity of alien biology. But then the show doubles down on the gag by showing the character’s naked backside on top of the egg. It’s not funny because it’s an alien hatching its young, it’s funny because we all know it’s an actor who was subjected to heavy makeup just to be put in a ridiculous situation for a cheesy gag. That’s the whole point.
In another episode, the captain and first officer are captured by a technologically superior alien race and placed in a zoo to be gawked at by strangers. Eventually, the officer responsible for rescuing them is given a commendation, the ship leaves and the episode ends with hundreds of sentient beings left behind in captivity with nary an ounce of further concern from anyone on the Orville, or any subsequent episode dealing with trying to free them. Since the template for these kinds of shows really only requires worrying about the main characters, ancillary concerns suggested by the episode tend to fall to the wayside.
The not-fully-developed plotting gives the show a lot of its charm, as stories may lead to unanswered logistical questions that are so obviously sitting there without the show seeming to care if anyone asks. That’s why it’s so great as a “Star Trek” pastiche. Episodes might raise questions they never intend to address, but viewers aren’t meant to think the show really thought things through too much to begin with. It’s lovingly poking fun at how and why we take things like “Star Trek” so seriously to begin with.
For as much as the show is trying to be “Star Trek,” it’s the contrast with “Star Trek” that makes it so brilliant. The more it takes itself seriously, the funnier the show becomes on a meta level, and thus more endearing.
The DVD set presents all 12 first-season episodes spread across four discs. All the bonus materials are on the fourth disc, comprised mostly of short promotional featurettes covering various aspects of the show in a minute or two. These include “Designing the Future,” “The Orville Takes Flight,” “The Science of ‘The Orville’: Quantum Drive,” “The Science of ‘The Orville’: Alien Life,” “Crafting Aliens,” “A Better Tomorrow” and a “Directed By” featurette that that focuses on Jon Favreau directing the first episode.
The making of the show is further covered in a five-minute “Inside Look” featurette.
There’s also an eight-and-a-half-minute “The First Six Missions” montage that recaps the first six episodes with some very serious overtones and music.
The most interesting extra is the 35-minute “‘The Orville’ at Paleyfest 2018” video of a Q&A with the cast, writers and producers that offers a lot more insights into the mindset that goes into making the show.
The second season of “The Orville” premieres Dec. 30 on Fox.
The animated comedy “Family Guy” will mark its 20th anniversary with a new collection of musical-infused episodes of the series.
Family Guy: 20 Greatest Hits will arrive on DVD and Digital Jan. 8 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment and includes 20 song-and-dance-filled episodes from the series, along with brand new bonus material.
Extras include a “300 Episodes, Two Cancellations, and One Mural” featurette; lyric videos for “I Need a Jew,” “Drunken Irish Dad” and It’s a Wonderful Day for Pie”; and a “Music Machine” to play the following songs:
Post-Thanksgiving retail sales typically give older titles a chance to make hay on the home video sales charts, and 2018 was no exception.
Only one new release debuted in the top 50 the week ended Nov. 24, as Warner’s Crazy Rich Asians landed at No. 36 on the NPD VideoScan First Alert chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sellers, and No. 23 on the dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart.
The No. 1 title on both charts was 20th Century Fox’s ‘R’-rated superhero comedy Deadpool 2, which reached the top spot for the fourth time since it was released in August (having spent its first three weeks atop the charts as well). It had been the No. 27 overall seller the week before.
The resurgence of Deadpool 2 comes as a ‘PG-13’ re-edit of the film, dubbed Once Upon a Deadpool, is slated for a limited theatrical re-release just before Christmas.
No. 2 on the overall chart was Sony Pictures’ Hotel Transylvania 3, which was No. 4 on the Blu-ray chart for the week.
The previous week’s top seller, Disney’s Incredibles 2, slipped to No. 3 on both charts.
Universal Pictures’ Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom rose to No. 4 overall and No. 2 on the Blu-ray chart.
Fox’s The Greatest Showman sang its way back to the No. 5 spot on both charts.
Despite being swamped by Black Friday catalog, Crazy Rich Asians had 58% of its first-week unit sales come in the Blu-ray format, with 2% of its tally coming from 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.
Crazy Rich Asians was also the top title on the Media Play News rental chart for the week ended Nov. 25.
The previous week’s top rental, Warner’s The Meg, slipped to No. 2, followed by Universal’s Mile 22 at No. 3, Incredibles 2 at No. 4 and Sony Pictures’ Alpha at No. 5.
Robert Redford and Sissy Spacek star in the comedy The Old Man & the Gun, coming to digital (including Movies Anywhere) Jan. 1 and Blu-ray and DVD Jan. 15 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.
The film follows the mostly true story of Forrest Tucker (Redford) — from his daring prison escape at age 70 to an unprecedented string of bank heists that confounded authorities and enchanted the public. Wrapped up in the pursuit are detective John Hunt (Casey Affleck) and Jewel (Spacek), the woman loves him despite his criminal ways.
Special features on disc include:
“Everything Else We Shot”;
“Joining the Hunt”;
audio commentary by writer/director David Lowery; and
The first season “The Orville” will arrive on DVD Dec. 11 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.
A comedic sci-fi adventure in the spirit of “Star Trek,” the series was created by and stars Seth MacFarlane, who plays the captain of the U.S.S. Orville, an exploratory spaceship 400 years in the future. The cast includes Adrianne Palicki, Penny Johnson Jerald, Scott Grimes, Peter Macon, Halston Sage, J Lee, Mark Jackson and Chad L. Coleman.
The DVD includes all 12 episodes from the first season plus several featurettes and highlights from the show’s presentation at PaleyFest 2018.