Sci-fi Classic ‘The Matrix’ Coming May 22 in 4K UHD Blu-ray Combo Pack and Digital

Sci-fi action classic The Matrix will be released in a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack and on digital May 22 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Directed by the Wachowski brothers and starring Keanu Reeves as Neo, Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus and Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity, the 1999 film won four Academy Awards and revolutionized the sci-fi action film genre. The film was the first to sell more than 1 million DVDs and is included on multiple lists of the top sci-fi films of all time. In 2012, it was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being culturally, historically and aesthetically significant.

The Matrix 4K UHD release is from a new scan of the original camera negative and is the first remaster of the film in nearly 15 years. Bill Pope, the film’s director of photography, supervised the 4K UHD remaster. A remastered Blu-ray disc from the new 4K scan is also included in the combo pack.

The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc of The Matrix will feature Dolby Vision HDR that dramatically expands the color palette and contrast range and uses dynamic metadata to automatically optimize the picture for every screen — frame by frame. The 4K UHD Blu-ray and Blu-ray discs will feature a Dolby Atmos soundtrack remixed specifically for the home theater environment.

The combo pack retails at $41.99 and features a UHD Blu-ray disc and digitally remastered Blu-ray disc.

The 4K, Blu-ray and digital versions of the film will include more than three hours of previously released extras. The 4K UHD disc and the digitally remastered Blu-ray will include the previously released written intro from the Wachowskis and four commentaries. The bonus disc will include the other previously released special features.

The Matrix Ultra HD Blu-ray contains the following previously released special features:

  • A written Introduction by the Wachowskis;
  • “Philosopher” commentary by Dr. Cornel West and Ken Wilbur;
  • “Critics” commentary by Todd McCarthy, John Powers and David Thomson;
  • “Cast & Crew” commentary by Carrie-Anne Moss, Zach Staenberg and John Gaeta; and
  • “Composer” commentary by Don Davis with the music only track.

The Matrix Blu-ray contains the following previously released special features:

  • “The Matrix Revisited”;
  • “Follow the White Rabbit”;
  • “Take the Red Pill”;
  • Marilyn Manson “Rock is Dead” Music Video;
  • A teaser trailer;
  • The theatrical trailer; and
  • TV spots.

The Matrix 4K UHD digital version ($29.99) will be available to own for streaming and download to watch anywhere in high definition and standard definition on favorite devices from select digital retailers including GooglePlay, Vudu, Xbox and others, and will be made available digitally on video-on-demand services from cable and satellite providers and on select gaming consoles.

Final ‘Maze Runner’ Installment Due on Digital April 10, Disc April 24

Maze Runner: The Death Cure, the final installment in the series based on the books, will be released on digital and Movies Anywhere April 10 and 4K Ultra HD Disc, Blu-ray Disc and DVD April 24 from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.

The film earned $57.4 million at the box office.

Fans who purchase Maze Runner: The Death Cure on disc will get an exclusive 24-page prequel origins comic book written by screenwriter T.S. Nowlin. The trilogy boxed set, also due April 24 on Blu-ray and DVD, includes the three films in the series and the exclusive comic book. The Blu-ray trilogy will include an exclusive bandana chosen by fans.

In the conclusion to the “Maze Runner” saga, Thomas leads his group of escaped Gladers on their final mission. To save their friends, they must break into the legendary Last City, a labyrinth that may turn out to be the deadliest maze of all.

Release special features include:

  • Four featurettes, “The Final Run,” “Dystopia,” “Allies Reunited,” “A Look Back” and “Going Out on Top” (Blu-ray and digital only);
  • Deleted and extended scenes with optional audio commentary by Wes Ball, T.S. Nowlin and Joe Hartwick Jr. (Blu-ray and digital only);
  • A gag reel (Blu-ray and digital only);
  • Visual effects with optional commentary (Blu-ray and digital only);
  • Audio commentary by Wes Ball, T.S. Nowlin and Joe Hartwick Jr. (on DVD, Blu-ray, UHD, and digital, but not boxed set); and
  • Picture gallery of more than 300 images (Blu-ray and digital).

Steven Spielberg’s ‘Saving Private Ryan’ Due on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray May 8 for 20th Anniversary

Saving Private Ryan, the five-time Oscar winning World War II epic directed by Steven Spielberg, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year with a new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo release on May 8 from Paramount Home Media Distribution.

Saving Private Ryan’s five Academy Awards included an award for Spielberg for Best Director. It also won two Golden Globes, Best Director and Best Motion Picture—Drama, and was named by the AFI as one of its 100 greatest American films. The film stars Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Edward Burns, Tom Sizemore, Ted Danson, Giovanni Ribisi, Vin Diesel, Paul Giamatti and Barry Pepper.

The film’s realistic recreation of the D-Day invasion is rendered in 4K Ultra HD with four times the resolution and more than double the number of colors available with full HD. The release also boasts a Dolby Atmos soundtrack remixed specifically for the home theater environment to place and move audio anywhere in the room (along with the original English 5.1 Dolby Digital mix), as well as Dolby Vision high dynamic range (HDR), which delivers greater brightness and contrast, as well as a fuller palette of rich colors.

The 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Combo pack includes the film on both 4K Ultra HDand Blu-ray Disc, access to a digital copy, and a second Blu-ray with more than three hours of previously released bonus features that offer viewers a look at the real-life events that inspired the film and behind-the-scenes footage.


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.

‘Hostiles’ Coming on Digital April 10, Disc April 24

Critically acclaimed western Hostiles will be released on digital April 10 and on disc and on demand April 24 from Lionsgate.

The title will be available on disc in a 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack (plus Blu-ray Disc and digital) and a Blu-ray Combo Pack (plus DVD and digital) as well as on DVD at $42.99, $39.99 and $29.95, respectively. All three include a three-part “making of” documentary.

Directed by Scott Cooper, the film stars Christian Bale and Rosamund Pike. Set in 1892, Hostiles tells the story of an Army captain (Bale) who, after stern resistance, reluctantly agrees to escort a dying Cheyenne war chief and his family back to tribal lands. On the way, the former rivals encounter a young widow (Pike), whose family was murdered on the plains.

Hostiles has earned more than $29 million at the domestic box office.

‘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.

Research Report: 4K UHD to Buttress Blu-ray

New format 4K UHD will be a key driver in extending the Blu-ray format, according to a new report from Research and Markets, “Global Blu-ray Media and Players Market, Forecast to 2023.”

“The intense bandwidth requirements of 4K content formats are unable to replicate the smooth and seamless playback of 4K UHD titles,” the report found. “Therefore, physical Blu-ray discs are still considered one of the best options for enjoying HD content that also supports HDR and Dolby surround sound. The majority of consumers, especially in the developed markets, are increasingly turning to UHD Blu-ray players to access movie and TV show content. To meet this demand, over 250 UHD titles were released in 2017 alone.”

The new format is offering an assist to a Blu-ray market facing competition from online services, according to the report.

“While physical discs remain a key revenue generator in the home entertainment business, the growing revenue from digital services and the rise of download and over-the-top (OTT) streaming services such as iTunes and Netflix have negatively impacted physical disc sales in the last four-five years,” the report found. “Therefore, an overall gradual decline in disc sales through the forecast period is expected.”

Unit shipments for the global Blu-ray players market are expected to decrease from 72.1 million in 2017 to 68 million in 2023, according to the report. Unit shipments for the global Blu-ray media market are expected to decrease from 595 million in 2017 to 516  million in 2023.

HDaaaargh! Competing Formats Vie for Dominance at CES

At this year’s CES, the murmurings of HDR (high dynamic range) format competition hit a higher pitch — or should I say contrast.

On the eve of the show Jan. 5, Fox, Samsung and Panasonic announced a push for HDR10+, the non-royalty HDR technology. Then, at the Jan. 8 Samsung “First Look” event, Warner showed its backing of the HDR10+ technology.

Meanwhile, Panasonic and Sony had 4K UHD blu-ray players that sported Dolby Vision’s HDR tech (not royalty free). And Philips/Technicolor (aligned with LG) touted Advanced HDR by Technicolor, which representatives said promises a

cheaper HDR solution that is especially convenient for broadcasters because they don’t have to employ multiple teams to shoot the same live event. (Shooting in HD as well as 4K with HDR requires two sets of cameras/teams with HDR10+ or Dolby Vision, the Technicolor reps noted.)

The alphabet soup of technology for better home entertainment made me want to exclaim “Aargh!” like a character in a comic strip. Consumers confronted with these various technologies might feel the same way.

We’ve hit them with 4K, Ultra HD, high dynamic range (HDR), wide color gamut, OLED, LCD, 8K, AI, VR …

One bright spot in the software realm is that 4K UHD blu-ray discs and players with HDR can accommodate all of these HDR schemes, according to folks I talked with at the Blu-ray Disc Association. And the UHD Alliance and the BDA are working to inform consumers about the benefits of HDR (no matter what companies are behind it).

To that I say “Aaaaahhh.”

Sony CES Booth Features Dolby Vision-Enabled UHD Blu-ray Player

LAS VEGAS — Sony Electronics at the Consumer Electronics Show announced and displayed a 4K UHD Blu-ray player that will become Dolby Vision capable via a firmware upgrade in the summer.

The UBP-X700 player is available now and offers access to 4K streaming services, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube, and supports a range of video and music formats, including MP4, DSD, FLAC, according to Sony.

Sony reps used Spider-Man: Homecoming footage to demonstrate the player at the booth.

Technicolor Touts Its Own HDR Technology

LAS VEGAS — While much of the buzz on the advanced high dynamic range (HDR) front came from the announcement of Fox and Warner backing HDR10+ and manufacturers incorporating Dolby Vision in their products, Technicolor/Philips touted its own HDR solution at the Consumer Electronics Show.

What’s behind door No. 3?

According to Kirk Barker, SVP, emerging products, technology division, for Technicolor, Advanced HDR by Technicolor offers a dynamic metadata technology that is cheaper than the competitor that charges royalties (Dolby Vision) and more friendly to broadcasters than either of the other two solutions (HDR10+ and Dolby Vision). Dynamic metadata in all three technologies adjusts contrast scene by scene.

LG was the first TV manufacturer to integrate Technicolor’s HDR technology. The technology is also in Funai products.

“Our solution has three different modes,” Barker said.

These modes make the technology a better solution for broadcasters that have to broadcast in HD as well as UHD with HDR. Essentially, Advanced HDR by Technicolor means broadcasters don’t have to have two sets of crews/trucks, one for HD and another for UHD with HDR.

“It’s a better solution for broadcasters,” Barker said.

The technology was first tested at a 2016 Dodgers game.