Ford v Ferrari

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 2/11/20;
Fox;
Drama;
Box Office $116.38 million;
$29.99 DVD, $37.99 Blu-ray, $45.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for some language and peril.
Stars Christian Bale, Matt Damon, Jon Bernthal, Caitriona Balfe, Tracy Letts, Josh Lucas, Noah Jupe, Ray McKinnon.

Director James Mangold’s Ford v Ferrari provides an immensely entertaining look at an international corporate rivalry that changed the face of auto racing in the 1960s.

Matt Damon stars as automotive designer Carroll Shelby, a former race car driver enlisted by the Ford Motor Company to design a car that can break the dominance of Ferrari in France’s prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race. Shelby in turn recruits Ken Miles (Christian Bale) to drive the car, a move that rubs certain Ford bigwigs the wrong way, most notably Leo Beebe (Josh Lucas), the executive in charge of the racing division.

Bales, whose turn as the hotheaded mechanic and driver Miles is essentially a co-lead with Damon, dominates every scene he’s in with an energetic performance that commands attention. In fact, some of his best scenes involve Miles alone on the road in the racecar, commenting to himself about how much he enjoys the ride or doesn’t appreciate the actions of the drivers around him.

The film delivers both in the corporate versus maverick politics of the company’s attempts to constrain Shelby’s efforts, as well as being a thrilling racing movie. Mangold’s racing footage puts viewers on the track and in the cars, and viewers can practically feel the crashes through their high-definition home theaters.

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The scenes involving the design and testing of the new racecars are equally compelling, as Shelby’s team takes on the engineering challenge with the focus and intensity of a NASA mission to the moon.

Though Damon and Bale get the headlines with one of the great screen partnerships of recent years, the supporting cast delivers some noteworthy work as well, particularly Caitriona Balfe and Noah Jupe as Miles’ wife and son, and Ray McKinnon as one of Shelby’s top mechanics.

And the film gets to have its cake and eat it too with the “Batman v Bourne” of it all, when Shelby and Miles have a bit of a spat over how much of Ford’s corporate meddling they’re willing to take.

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The intricacy of detail the filmmakers took in re-creating the racing culture of the 1960s is on display in the hour-long making-of documentary “Bringing the Rivalry to Life” that is included with the Blu-ray and digital copies of the film. The eight-part program offers ample interviews about how much the cast enjoyed making the movie, and how the filmmakers went about making replica cars to use for the racing scenes.

Digital versions include the exclusive “The 24-Hour Le Mans: Re-creating the Course,” a 22-minute featurette that delves into how the filmmakers re-created the Le Mans course, using a mix of replica cars and visual effects to enhance the backgrounds. In some cases, the sons of the original drivers were bought in to play their fathers in the climactic race.

The digital edition also offers a 26-minute highlight reel of pre-vis animation of the race scenes.

Vudu has an additional three-minute featurette edited from clips culled from the other bonus materials.

 

Oscar Nominated ‘Jojo Rabbit’ Coming to Digital Feb. 4, Disc — Including 4K — Feb. 18

Writer-director Taika Waititi’s six-time Oscar nominated Jojo Rabbit will debut on digital Feb. 4 and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD Feb. 18 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

The World War II satire follows a lonely German boy (Roman Griffin Davis as Jojo) whose world view is turned upside down when he discovers his single mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their attic.

The film has been nominated for Best Picture Academy Award Nomination, a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy, a Critics’ Choice Award nomination for Best Picture, and a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. Star Davis, whose first-ever acting role was Jojo, won a Critics’ Choice Award for Best Young Actor, as well as a nomination for a Golden Globe in the category of Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy. Additionally, Johansson has received an Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actress, and BAFTA and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations for her performance as Rosie. Waititi has received Academy Award Nominations for Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture (with Carthew Neal), as well as nominations from the Directors Guild of America, the Writers Guild of America, the Producers Guild of America, and BAFTA (Adapted Screenplay). Earlier this year, the film was honored at the AFI Awards, making it onto AFI’s list of the Top 10 Movies of the Year for 2019. And the film also won TIFF’s highly acclaimed Grolsch People’s Choice Award, while Waititi garnered the Ebert Director Award at the festival’s tribute gala awards event.

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Bonus features include deleted scenes, outtakes, “Inside Jojo Rabbit,” audio commentary from Waititi and theatrical trailers.

‘Ford v Ferrari’ Driving to Home Video

The racing drama Ford v Ferrari will be released through digital retailers Jan. 28, and on Blu-ray Disc, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and DVD Feb. 11 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Based on the true story about Ford Motor Company’s attempt to create the world’s fastest car, the film stars Matt Damon as American car designer Carroll Shelby, and Christian Bale as the fearless British-born driver Ken Miles, who joined forces to battle corporate interference and the laws of physics to build a revolutionary race car and take on Enzo Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France in 1966.

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Directed by James Mangold, the film earned $110.1 million at the domestic box office.

The Blu-ray and digital editions will include the eight-part, 60-minute behind-the-scenes documentary “Bringing the Rivalry to Life.”

Digital bonus materials include the featurette “The 24 Hour Le Mans: Recreating the Course,” and animated pre-visualizations of the Daytona and Le Mans racing sequences.

A “Matt and Christian: The Conversation” featurette with reflections on the film from Damon and Bale will be available exclusively through iTunes.

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Merchandising: Mixed Reviews for Best Buy’s ‘Infinity Saga’ Set

Best Buy Nov. 15 released its exclusive The Infinity Saga collection of the first 23 Marvel Cinematic Universe films, from Iron Man to Avengers: Endgame. The pricey set included the films in both Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, plus digital codes for each, in collectible display packaging and an exclusive bonus disc with never-before-seen deleted scenes from several of the Marvel films.

Limited to about 4,000 units available at $549.99 each, the collector’s set quickly sold out, with copies showing up on secondary markets such as eBay commanding asking prices well above $1,000. Some online reviews of the set, however, indicated poor quality control both in the assembly of the set and the shipping of it, with reports of damaged boxes and missing movies. The discs themselves come in paper sleeves, with some reviewers reporting glue from the packaging seeping onto the discs.

It should also be noted that the set does not include the 3D versions of any movies that had been released on disc in 3D, and extra bonus discs from the earlier movies also were not included.

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Dec. 3 Best Buy had a piece of another massive collector’s set, that being Fox’s The Simpsons: The Complete Seasons 1-20 Limited Edition. The 79-DVD set (no Blu-ray, even though some of the seasons were released in the HD format) was reportedly limited to a run of just 1,000 units, with copies available through Best Buy, Amazon and Walmart. Each retailer’s website had the boxed set listed for a $499.99 sale price the day prior to its official street date.

The 19th season, which aired in 2007 and 2008, also arrived on DVD for the first time Dec. 3, completing the run of the first 20 seasons. The show is currently in its 31st. Fox in 2015 announced it wasn’t releasing any more “Simpsons” DVDs, at a point when it had released discs of just seasons one through 17 and season 20. Season 18 was released on DVD in 2017 following fan demand for more discs.

Based on the producers’ statements in 2015, and rumors swirling that Disney may end the series (which it purchased as part of its acquisition of the 20th Century Fox studio and catalog) after 32 or 33 seasons, the next DVD or Blu-ray release of the series could possibly be a complete-series set a few years from now, if such a disc release is even contemplated at all. The first 30 seasons of the series are available for streaming on the new Disney+ service.

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The biggest disc release of Dec. 3, however, was HBO’s “Game of Thrones” eighth-season and complete-series releases.

For exclusives on the eighth season set, however, HBO committed one of the biggest pet peeves among collectors — splitting exclusive featurettes among different retailers — as opposed to offering a variety of packaging options or pack-on collectibles, with any bonus content consolidated with one retailer so fans who just care about having all the available content aren’t tempted to buy the same release twice just for a few extra minutes of bonus material that isn’t offered anywhere else.

Best Buy “Game of Thrones” season eight exclusive sigil box art

For Game of Thrones: The Complete Eighth Season, Target offered the Blu-ray at $39.99 with an add-on “How the Storm Was Born” featurette, taking a look at the making of the penultimate episode and the razing of King’s Landing.

The featurette was included on a separate disc packed onto the standard season eight case.

Walmart’s exclusive bonus disc with the Blu-ray offered the featurette “From Renderings to Reality: The Visual Effects of Season 8.” The chain had it at $37.96 with the same packaging as Target, a separate thin Blu-ray case packed with the regular season eight Blu-ray, but availability was spotty from store-to-store, with some locations not even bothering to put any of the week’s new titles on shelves even into the evening of Dec. 3.

Interestingly, the VFX featurettes for the first seven seasons are included on the bonus disc with the Game of Thrones: The Complete Series Blu-ray. So fans who buy the complete series and want that final VFX featurette will have to buy a second copy of season eight separately.

Best Buy offered the season-eight Blu-ray with exclusive three-eyed-raven sigil box art for $44.99.

 

‘The Art of Racing in the Rain’ Speeding to Home Video

The Art of Racing in the Rain will be available through digital retailers Oct. 29, and on Blu-ray and DVD Nov. 5, from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Based on the bestselling novel by Garth Stein, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a heart-warming tale narrated by a witty and philosophical dog named Enzo (voiced by Kevin Costner). Through his unique insight into the human condition, Enzo helps his owners — racecar driver Denny Swift (Milo Ventimiglia), his wife Eve (Amanda Seyfried) and daughter Zoe (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) — navigate life with a refreshing perspective on friendship, family and unconditional love.

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The film earned $26.4 million at the domestic box office.

Extras include audio commentary by director Simon Curtis, and the featurettes “A Journey to Screen,” “Directing the Art,” “Enzo Cam,” “Behind the Wheel,” “The Dog Stays in the Picture” and “Enzo’s First Ride.”

 

‘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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”