‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ Racing to Digital Early March 31, Debuting on Disc May 19

Sonic the Hedgehog will debut early for digital purchase March 31 from Paramount Home Entertainment.

The film, which made $306.8 million at the global box office, will be available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and for rental on demand or disc May 19.

The family film based on the video game character follows the incredibly speedy Sonic the Hedgehog (voiced by Ben Schwartz), aka The Blue Blur, who embraces his new home on Earth. That is, until he accidentally knocks out the power grid and sparks the attention of evil genius Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey). It’s super-villain vs. super-sonic in an all-out race across the globe to stop Robotnik from using his unique power for world domination. Sonic teams up with The Donut Lord, aka Sheriff Tom Wachowski (James Marsden), to save the plane.

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Bonus features on digital, 4K Ultra HD combo pack and Blu-ray combo pack include commentary by director Jeff Fowler and Schwartz; “Around the World in 80 Seconds,” Sonic’s next adventure; deleted scenes; bloopers; the “Speed Me Up” music video; “For the Love of Sonic,” in which Carrey and the cast discuss what Sonic the Hedgehog means to them; “Building Robotnik with Jim Carrey”; “The Blue Blur: Origins of Sonic”; and “Sonic On Set,” a set visit with Schwartz.

The 4K Ultra HD Digital and 4K Ultra HD disc releases present the film in Dolby Vision with a Dolby Atmos sound.

 

‘Zombie’ and ‘Maniac’ Coming to 4K UHD Blu-ray May 26 From MVD and Blue Underground

Restorations of Zombie and Maniac will come out on 4K Ultra High Definition Blu-ray with Dolby Vision HDR and a new Dolby Atmos audio mix May 26 from MVD Entertainment Group and Blue Underground.

“We put a lot of time and work into restoring films like Maniac and Zombie,” said William Lustig, president of Blue Underground. “We’re thrilled that fans can now view them at home in true 4K Ultra HD, with Dolby Vision High Dynamic Range and new Dolby Atmos audio mixes.”

Known in England as Zombie Flesh Eaters and banned as obscene, Zombie (1979) stars Tisa Farrow (The Grim Reaper), Ian McCulloch (Contamination), Al Cliver (Cannibals) and Richard Johnson (The Haunting) in a splatterfest directed by “Maestro of Gore” Lucio Fulci (The House by the Cemetery, The New York Ripper).

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Zombie will be released in a two-disc combo pack.

Special features on the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc include:

  • audio commentary with Troy Howarth, author of Splintered Visions: Lucio Fulci and His Films;
  • audio commentary with Star McCulloch and Diabolik magazine editor Jason J. Slater;
  • “When the Earth Spits Out the Dead,” an interview with Stephen Thrower, author of Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci;
  • theatrical trailers;
  • TV spots;
  • radio spots;
  • a poster and still gallery; and
  • an intro by director Guillermo del Toro.

 

Special features on the Blu-ray disc include:

  • “Zombie Wasteland,” featuring interviews with McCulloch, Johnson and Cliver, and actor/stuntman Ottaviano Dell’Acqua;
  • “Flesh Eaters on Film,” an interview with co-producer Fabrizio De Angelis;
  • “Deadtime Stories,” featuring interviews with co-writers Elisa Briganti and (uncredited) Dardano Sacchetti;
  • ‘World of the Dead,” featuring interviews with cinematographer Sergio Salvati and production and costume designer Walter Patriarca;
  • “Zombi Italiano,” featuring interviews with special make-up effects artists Gianetto De Rossi and Maurizio Trani and special effects artist Gino De Rossi;
  • “Notes on a Headstone,” an interview with composer Fabio Frizzi;
  • “All in the Family,” an interview with Antonella Fulci; and
  • “Zombie Lover,” in which Oscar-winning filmmaker del Toro talks about one of his favorite films.

 

Maniac (1980) follows Frank Zito (writer/executive producer Joe Spinell, Rocky, The Godfather), a deeply disturbed man, haunted by the traumas of unspeakable childhood abuse. When these horrific memories begin to scream inside his mind, Frank prowls the seedy streets of New York City to stalk and slaughter innocent young women. Frank begins a relationship with a beautiful photographer (Caroline Munro, The Spy Who Loved Me), yet his vile compulsions remain. Directed by Blue Underground president William Lustig (Maniac Cop 2, Vigilante) and featuring gore effects by Tom Savini (Dawn of the Dead, Friday the 13th), the film was originally banned or censored all over the world due to its graphic violence.

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Maniac will also be released in a two-disc combo pack.

Special features on 4K UHD disc include:

  • audio commentary by Lustig and producer Andrew Garroni;
  • audio commentary by Lustig, Savini, editor Lorenzo Marinelli, and Spinell’s assistant Luke Walter;
  • theatrical trailers;
  • TV spots; and
  • radio spots.

 

Special features on Blu-ray disc include:

  • outtakes
  • “Returning to the Scene of the Crime with William Lustig”;
  • “Anna and the Killer,” an interview with Munro;
  • “The Death Dealer,” an interview with Savini;
  • “Dark Notes,” an interview with composer Jay Chattaway;
  • “Maniac Men,” an interview with songwriters Michael Sembello and Dennis Matkosky;
  • “The Joe Spinell Story”;
  • the “Mr. Robbie: Maniac 2” promo reel;
  • publicity for the film; and
  • controversy about the film.

 

‘Ip Man 4: The Finale’ Due on Digital April 7, Disc — Including 4K — April 21 From Well Go

Martial arts superstar Donnie Yen (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) reprises his role as the legendary Wing Chun master for Director Wilson Yip (“Ip Man” franchise) in the grand finale of the saga Ip Man 4: The Finale, due on digital April 7 and DVD, Blu-ray combo and 4K Ultra Blu-ray combo pack April 21 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

The “Ip Man Complete Collection” will be available exclusively on digital April 7.

In this final chapter, Ip Man (Yen) travels to San Francisco following the death of his wife, in order to ease tensions between the local kung fu masters and his star student, Bruce Lee, while searching for a better future for his son.  Also returning for the final installment of the franchise are Scott Adkins (Wolf WarriorDoctor Strange) and Kwok-Kwan Chan (Kung Fu League) as Bruce Lee.

Bonus features include an English language dub and a making-of featurette.

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Honoring History With ‘Midway’

Director-producer Roland Emmerich is known for epic science-fiction battles between humans, aliens and monsters, but it was the film of an actual battle in World War II that he waited two decades to make.

While collaborating with Emmerich on another project, screenwriter Wes Tooke asked the director, “What’s the one that got away?”

Emmerich told him it was the story of the battle of Midway, the 1942 clash between the American fleet and the Imperial Japanese Navy that marked a pivotal turning point in the Pacific Theater. He’d tried to make it while at Sony 20 years earlier, but the budget and subject weren’t right for the studio. Thus, with Tooke as screenwriter, Emmerich got together a production team to film Midway, based on the real-life events of this heroic feat, telling the story of the leaders and sailors in the battle.

Midway is available on digital, DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray from Lionsgate.

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“I wanted to make this movie for 20 years, and I’m glad I finally made it,” said Emmerich in the disc commentary.

“Roland insisted that we make every effort to make all aspects of the film as accurate as possible,” Tooke said. “Everything that happens onscreen, in terms of historical events, is factual and in chronological order. It begins in December 1941 with Pearl Harbor and ends in June with the Battle of Midway. It is the most dramatic six months in the history of warfare.”

The cast includes Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson, Luke Evans, Aaron Eckhart, Nick Jonas, Darren Criss, Mandy Moore, Dennis Quaid and Woody Harrelson.

Quaid plays Admiral William “Bull” Halsey.

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“Midway is an amazing story, and it has never been told right,” he noted in the extras.

Harrelson is legendary Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, who is given the position of Commander in Chief, Pacific Ocean Areas, famously termed “the most difficult job in the world,” after the attack at Pearl Harbor.

“Everybody was very conscientious about trying to make it real, and I think they got it right,” said Harrelson in the extras.

One hard-to-believe fact about the Midway battle is the harrowing way the dive-bombers attacked the Japanese ships. It was one of the aspects of the battle that got Emmerich interested in telling the story. In the film, viewers travel along with the pilots as they plummet precipitously toward the target, drop the bomb and pull up at the last minute.

“I wanted to show how incredibly dangerous these dives were,” Emmerich said in the extras. “What these people did — they were pretty much missiles, what we do today with missiles. They were manned missiles, these planes. The later you deployed a bomb, the more chance you had to hit a target.”

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The authenticity didn’t stop there. Filmmakers were scrupulous in recreating the era and the weapons of World War II, building replicas of both the torpedo- and bomb-dropping planes, as well as other equipment right down to the screws, nuts and bolts that aren’t used anymore. They were also able to shoot at historic locations.

“When you’re looking at a building that has bullet holes on the side of it from the attack in 1941, you know, ‘OK, we’re going to tell this story as truthfully as we can,”’ said Wilson, in the extras.

Nick Jonas plays radioman Bruno Gaido in ‘Midway.’

Wilson plays Edwin Layton, a U.S. Navy intelligence officer, just one of the actual participants in the battle who are memorialized in the film. Nick Jonas, who was offered many parts, chose to play radioman Bruno Gaido, known for heroically shooting down a Japanese plane before it hit his carrier. He was later lost in the battle. “I wanted to do justice to Bruno because he was a real American hero,” he said. Skrein is Dick Best, the unsung hero pilot of Midway who destroys Japanese ships, but never flies again due to injury.

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Emmerich was also careful to acknowledge the bravery of the Japanese, casting several renowned Japanese actors.

“When you make a war movie and you show one side as the bad guys and the other side as the good guys, I think you don’t do war justice because I think you have to understand what was the Japanese side,” he said in the extras. “It enlightens people. It shows that they are also human. They’re also brave.”

The director hopes the film is able to stand as a testament to the Greatest Generation.

“I’m thrilled that we had the opportunity to tell this story because young people today don’t always know the stories about those who fought for their freedom,” Emmerich said. “I think that without the generation who fought in WWII, our world would be very different.”

4K ULTRA HD / BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES

  • Audio Commentary by Roland Emmerich
  • “Getting It Right: The Making of Midway” Featurette
  • “The Men of Midway” Featurette
  • “Roland Emmerich: Man on a Mission” Featurette
  • “Turning Point: The Legacy of Midway” Featurette
  • “Joe Rochefort: Breaking the Japanese Code” Featurette
  • “We Met at Midway: Two Survivors Remember” Featurette
  • Theatrical Trailer

 

DIGITAL SPECIAL FEATURES

  • Audio Commentary by Roland Emmerich
  • “Getting It Right: The Making of Midway” Featurette
  • “The Men of Midway” Featurette
  • Theatrical Trailer

Animated ‘Spies in Disguise’ to Be Unveiled on Digital and Disc — Including 4K — March 10

The animated comedy Spies in Disguise will come out on digital, 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD March 10 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

In the film, super spy Lance Sterling (Will Smith) and scientist Walter Beckett (Tom Holland) are almost exact opposites. Lance is smooth, suave and debonair. Walter is none of the above. But this unlikely duo must team up for the ultimate mission to save the world when a “biodynamic concealment” experiment transforms Lance into a pigeon.

The film earned $163.5 million at the global box office.

Blu-ray bonus features include multiple making-of featurettes and two music videos as well as “Super Secret Spy Mode,” an immersive, in-movie experience that takes you deeper into the story with Easter eggs, facts and behind-the-scenes insights into the making of the film.

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‘Dolittle’ Coming to Digital March 24, Disc — Including 4K — April 7

Dolittle will arrive on digital March 24 and 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and on demand April 7 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

Robert Downey Jr. plays Dr. Dolittle, a man who can talk to animals. The cast also includes the voice talents of Emma Thompson, Rami Malek, Selena Gomez, John Cena and Tom Holland, among others.

After losing his wife, Dolittle he locks himself away behind the high wall of his manor but is forced to set sail on an epic adventure when the queen falls gravely ill. Helping Dolittle in search of a rare cure are his animal friends — including Chee-Chee (Malek), an anxious, self-conscious gorilla; Dab-Dab (Octavia Spencer), an enthusiastic but bird-brained duck; the bickering duo of cynical, neurotic ostrich Plimpton (Kumail Nanjiani) and the polar bear Yoshi (Cena); and a headstrong parrot named Polynesia (Thompson).

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The film earned $161.7 million at the global box office.

The 4K disc includes HDR+.

Bonus features include:

  • “Talk to the Animals,” a peek at the fun the cast had giving each of the animals their unique voice;
  • “Robert Downey Jr. & Harry: Mentor and Mentee,” about the unique bond the two actors formed on-set, and how Downey took the film’s young co-star under his wing;
  • “Becoming the Good Doctor,” about how Downey transformed into the iconic Dolittle;
  • “Antonio Banderas: Pirate King,” in which Banderas discusses what attracted him to the project, his experiences working with Downey and what he brought to the role of King Rassouli;
  • “The Wicked Dr. Mudfly,” about the nefarious villain Dr. Blair Müdfly with Michael Sheen diving into his character’s motivations for being Dolittle’s foil; and
  • “A Most Unusual House,” about the unique rooms and modifications that allow Dolittle to house anyone or anything, big or small.

 

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Seeing Is Believing With 4K Disc — Even for Millennials

Despite the fact I have spent virtually all of my career in the home entertainment industry, my millennial son has never owned a DVD or Blu-ray player — and is proud of it. This is not necessarily surprising since he is focused primarily on conveniently accessing content on computers, media players, personal devices and cord-cutting alternatives — and, if possible, finding ways to access content for free.

Stephen Einhorn

To be fair, at one time, like many of his millennial friends saddled with student debt, entry-level job compensation, plus attending grad school at night, he did not have a lot of time or financial resources available to consider spending money on video players and Blu-ray discs.

However, even today, he still uses his computer, personal devices, and media player to access whatever content is available at no or minimal cost. He does have Netflix and HBO subscriptions, which he feels enables him to access a large pool of entertaining content at a minimal cost per month. In this respect, he is essentially no different than many of his friends and peers. This is the content access model with which he has grown up. It’s his comfort zone and cultural mindset.

Until recently, I consistently failed to convince him movies on personal devices do not compare with the quality video and audio and added value features offered by an 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player and discs. His perspective was OK, he gets that, but as a practical matter, the picture he receives on his computer and personal devises is more than sufficient and just fine for his purposes.

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He recently moved into a new apartment with his significant other and agreed, kicking and screaming (takes up space, who needs it, one more complication, why should I care), to let me force a house warming present on him of a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player and several great 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray movies.

When they finally did start watching these movies on their new player, both were utterly blown away by the quality of the picture and sound. And, in that eureka moment, finally understood what they were missing when watching movies. They also admitted that the differences in picture and audio offered a superior, unique experience that was exciting, satisfying and well worth the expense.

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Well, where am I going with this? I believe a meaningful segment of the consumer market does not understand they are missing a great deal of a movie’s built in entertainment value and full entertainment potential by not viewing content on a 4K Ultra HD on disc.  So, I tell those who will listen, “Until you have viewed it on 4K Ultra HD disc, you have not seen the real movie,” or “Until you have viewed it on 4K Ultra HD disc, you only think you’ve seen the movie.”

Given the huge increase in content-based competition for consumer’s time and attention, I believe it makes sense for physical media to fight for its share of the marketplace, especially when it is delivering a differentiated, unique, superior viewer experience and consumer value proposition.

It appears to me the industry could benefit by stepping up marketing campaigns aimed specifically at connecting and building a direct relationship with individual consumers. It is my understanding at the end of last year, 31% of TV households had 4K televisions. They need to be convinced of physical media’s benefits.

I really hate to date myself but here goes. In the early days of introducing this new DVD format to the marketplace, Toshiba initiated a DVD player promotion aimed directly at consumers by including the incentive of receiving a choice of a number of free DVDs with the purchase of each new DVD player. As I recall, the objective was not only to sell DVD players but to also make the market aware of this new format and build word of mouth that this terrific new technology really delivered an exciting new viewing experience. I think the industry could benefit by mounting a similar promotion for 4K Ultra HD players and Blu-rays.

Stephen Einhorn is an entertainment and financial consultant who formerly headed up New Line Cinema’s home entertainment arm and was president of DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.

‘Jumanji: The Next Level’ Ready to Play on Digital March 3, Disc Including 4K March 17

The actioner Jumanji: The Next Level will come out on digital March 3 and 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD March 17 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

It has earned $768.5 million at the global box office.

Stars Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart and Karen Gillanreturn for another game-based adventure, along with Jumanji newcomers Awkwafina, Rory McCann, Danny Glover and Danny DeVito.

The story catches up with Spencer (Alex Wolff), Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain), Martha (Morgan Turner) and Bethany (Madison Iseman) three years after their first adventure in Jumanji’s mystical video game world. When Spencer goes missing inside the game ahead of the group’s planned reunion from college, his friends, along with his grandfather (DeVito) and his grandfather’s friend (Glover), once again inhabit the avatars of Dr. Bravestone (Johnson), “Mouse” Finbar (Hart), Professor Sheldon Oberon (Black) and Ruby Roundhouse (Gillan) to rescue him. As they return to Jumanji, the players have to brave parts unknown and unexplored, from the arid deserts to the snowy mountains, in order to escape.

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Bonus materials include a gag reel, several behind-the-scenes featurettes, in-depth scene breakdowns and a new jingle. The 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD also include an interactive collectible map that employs augmented reality to bring Jumanji to life via smart phone. The experience provides up to 10 minutes of game play and allows users to create their own 8-bit avatar, navigate a series of mini games and more.

Sony Links With Nextdoor on ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’ Promotion

To celebrate the home entertainment release of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, starring Tom Hanks in his Academy Award-nominated role as Fred Rogers, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has joined with Nextdoor, the neighborhood hub, to launch a sweepstakes promotion “aimed at elevating simple acts of kindness in neighborhoods across the country,” according to the studio.

Members on Nextdoor can share the story of a neighbor who has gone above and beyond to cultivate kindness in his or her neighborhood at us.nextdoor.com/beautifulday. Those who submit a story will be entered into a sweepstakes for a chance to win a free local screening of the film. Ten additional Nextdoor members will be selected at random to win the film on Blu-ray and a copy of Penguin Books’ A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: Neighborly Words of Wisdom from Mister Rogers.

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Neighbors will be able to enter the sweepstakes from Jan. 29 through Feb. 14. The promotion will culminate on National Random Acts of Kindness Day Feb. 17, when Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and Nextdoor will be sharing select entries via the film’s and Nextdoor’s social channels (@Nextdoor).

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“Neighbors everywhere continue to show us that the simple acts of gathering together, sharing a smile, and showing each other kindness can have profound effects on our lives,” said Nextdoor CEO Sarah Friar in a statement. “We are thrilled to work with Sony and help promote A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood as we continue to cultivate a kinder world where everyone has a neighborhood they can rely on.”

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, available on digital Feb. 4 and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD Feb. 18, is based on the real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and journalist Tom Junod. After a jaded magazine writer (Matthew Rhys) is assigned a profile of Rogers (Hanks), he overcomes his skepticism, learning about kindness, love and forgiveness from the star of the children’s series “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”

Consumers can create a free Nextdoor account at nextdoor.com to connect with your neighbors and enter for a chance to win at us.nextdoor.com/beautifulday. Sweepstakes terms and conditions are at the Nextdoor Help Center.

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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