Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street Date 12/8/20;
Paramount;
Drama;
$22.98 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for violence and language.
Stars Al Pacino, Andy Garcia, Talia Shire, Sofia Coppola, George Hamilton, Diane Keaton, Eli Wallach, Joe Mantegna, Bridget Fonda, Richard Bright, Donal Donnelly, Raf Vallone.

For his latest trick, director Francis Ford Coppola has taken on the challenge of re-editing the oft-maligned The Godfather Part III into something a bit more palatable for fans of the first two “Godfather” films.

The legendary filmmaker has been busy lately quite literally reimagining his career. Last year saw new edits of Apocalypse Now and Cotton Club hit Blu-ray (in the form of Apocalypse Now: Final Cut and Cotton Club Encore, respectively). Those efforts may have given him the nerve to revisit the concluding film of the “Godfather” saga for its 30th anniversary.

Coppola has trimmed the film by 13 minutes (from 170 minutes to a tighter 157), rearranged a few scenes to improve the main story’s pacing, and reworked the film’s opening and closing scenes. He also reverted the title to what he preferred it to be when he was making it with original “Godfather” novelist and screenwriter Mario Puzo. In calling it a Coda with the subtitle “The Death of Michael Corleone,” Coppola sees the film more along the lines of his original intentions — as an epilogue to the story of the original films.

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In the third movie, set in 1979 and 1980, the aging Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) reflects on his decades in charge of one of America’s most notorious crime families, and continues to strive for the legitimacy he claimed to be pursuing in the first two films, which took place in the 1940s and 1950s. He embarks on a scheme to buy out a European conglomerate partly owned by the Vatican, but runs headlong into church corruption and rivals unwilling to give up the old ways.

The story quite cleverly plays into a few real-life events from the late 1970s and early 1980s, namely the death of Pope John Paul I after just a month after his ascendency, and a church banking scandal — though the script has to massage the actual timeline in order to fit the fictional Corleones into the proceedings.

Coppola’s new vision of the third “Godfather” comes complete with a sumptuous new digital restoration. The Blu-ray presentation of the new version comes devoid of extras save for a minute-and-a-half introduction from Coppola, who basically recounts his reasons for the new edit that were already quoted in Paramount’s press release announcing it.

In terms of the film’s new structure, however, some of the cosmetic changes and the shorter running time make the film a bit easier to handle as a standalone movie, but many of the problems that plagued the film upon its original release aren’t so easy to erase.

The first two “Godfather” films on their own tell an almost perfect circular narrative — the contrast in the rise of power between Vito Corleone and his son, Michael, 30 or so years apart. That they were made within two years of each other — 1972 and 1974 — only deepens the connection between the two films as broader, singular work.

It’s no coincidence, then, that supercuts of the first two films in chronological order were already being broadcast on TV by 1977.

Thus, when the third film, released 16 years after the second, by design focuses solely on Michael’s older years and his attempts to transition the family away from crime, it is only natural to compare it with the original, in which the older Vito also hinted at wanting to go legit after tiring of bloodshed. It is not a comparison that works favorably to Part III, despite its many positive traits.

That inevitable comparison may have been why Coppola was reluctant to make a third film to begin with, and when he finally agreed to do it (after reportedly encountering financial problems due to some of his films underperforming in the 1980s), his instincts told him to make it more of an epilogue to the saga rather than a continuation of it. It was the studio that saddled the film with the Part III moniker, and likely the pressure to make it an epic on the scale of the first two (both of which won Best Picture Oscars).

Interestingly, in recutting the film, Coppola discards the leisurely pacing of the original edit, and the entire ceremony of Michael being honored by the Vatican, by moving the scene of Vatican’s banking representative asking Michael for help to be the new opening scene. This new structure is similar enough to how the first film opens, with the mortician asking Don Vito for help, that the obvious intention is to further explore the parallels between the father and son crime lords. If there’s no way to rework the foundations of the film as a whole to get it to measure up, at least its ambitions as a character study give it weight.

It’s an interesting contrast. Vito’s eldest son, Sonny, is so eager to replace his father as a criminal mastermind that his shortsightedness gets him killed, putting Michael in line to take over the family business, a path Vito never intended. The only ambitions of Michael’s eldest son, Anthony, lead him to becoming an opera singer. With Michael’s daughter, Mary, the lynchpin of his attempts to legitimize, Michael has nowhere to turn but his nephew, Vincent, Sonny’s illegitimate son, to serve as the new Don.

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Coppola’s new ending seems to tread on the subtitle as more of a symbolic notion of the main character’s death, rather than the literal one that seemed tacked onto the original theatrical cut.

The further examination of Michael and his ill-fated attempts to scrub his sins are still the film’s greatest asset, even if Pacino’s portrayal seems more akin to his prototypical ’90s persona than his earlier performances as the character. The film’s most-glaring weakness, however, remains the casting of Sofia Coppola in the key role of Mary. The part had originally been intended for Julia Roberts, who dropped out due to scheduling conflicts, and then Winona Ryder, who left just before production due to nervous exhaustion, leaving the director to cast his own daughter in the role.

On paper, Mary’s pivotal place in Michael’s final arc is clear: She’s the shining beacon who will salvage the family’s legacy, much in the same way Vito originally envisioned Michael, but those expectations are threatened when she literally flirts with the criminal underpinnings of the family business, in the form of her cousin, Vincent (Andy Garcia). A more talented performer would have imbued Mary with a life and vibrance that forces the audience to care about her in a way that elevates the film’s reliance on her character. As much as she evolved into a talented director and screenwriter in her own right, Sofia is just not an actress, and her flat performance serves mostly to distract from the strong inter-generational dynamics between Pacino and Garcia — a criticism leveled as much at the film in 1990 as it is today. Given Mary’s foundational position to the story’s emotional underpinnings, no amount of re-editing can minimize that impact.

However, at least Mary’s arc is there for viewers to interpret. A more fundamental problem for the film is the complete absence of Tom Hagen, Robert Duvall’s character from the first two films who was practically another son to Vito and served as the family’s lawyer. Duvall opted out of the project due to a pay dispute, so Hagen was said to have died offscreen and George Hamilton was brought in to play a new family lawyer in a perfunctory role. Without Duvall, the screenplay was forced to put more emphasis on Vincent and especially Mary.

There’s no telling how much an expanded role for Duvall, with Hagen at the heart of the Corleone moral quandaries, would have elevated the film’s potential to stand alongside its predecessors.

‘Buddy Games,’ ‘Iron Mask’ Top Slate of Thanksgiving Week Disc and Digital Releases

The Paramount Pictures comedy Buddy Games, the Arnold Schwarzenegger fantasy adventure Iron Mask, and the fifth season of popular TV series “Better Call Saul” top the slate of new disc and digital releases available for home viewers beginning Nov. 24.

Also newly available to buy or rent: the Martin Scorsese mob film The Irishman and Paramount’s Fatman, a black comedy starring Mel Gibson.

Buddy Games is being released through digital retailers and on DVD.  The film follows six lifelong friends who have a five-year falling out. Bob (Josh Duhamel), aka “The Bobfather,” reunites his pals for the Buddy Games, a competition of absurd physical and mental challenges with the chance to win a $150,000 pot. The determined dudes fight, claw and party for the big bucks in this bro-fest featuring Dax Shepard (CHiPs), Olivia Munn (Office Christmas Party) and Kevin Dillon (“Entourage”).

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Lionsgate is bringing Iron Mask to Blu-ray Disc and DVD four days after the film was released through digital retailers. Schwarzenegger and Jackie Chan face off against each other in battle. In order to save his homeland from certain doom, a kung fu master (Chan) must escape from the maniacal James Hook (Schwarzenegger) to send his daughter a secret talisman that will allow her to control a massive and mythical dragon. The globe-trotting tale — ranging from the impenetrable Tower of London to the fabled Silk Road and China’s Great Wall — also stars Rutger Hauer in one of the screen icon’s final performances.

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“Better Call Saul” is the critically hailed prequel to “Breaking Bad.” In season 5, which Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is releasing Nov. 24 on Blu-ray Disc and DVD, Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) begins practicing law under the name Saul Goodman. Extras on the Blu-ray and DVD include cast and crew commentaries on all 10 episodes, a gag reel, Mesa Verde Bank and Trust TV spots, Kim’s ethics training videos, and a “Crystal Balls” featurette. The Blu-ray also offers deleted scenes and assorted featurettes.

The Irishman, which earned a slew of Oscar nominations after debuting on Netflix in 2019, is being issued as a two-disc Blu-ray Disc and DVD set by Criterion. The film stars two well-known alumni of previous Scorsese gangster films, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, as well as Al Pacino, who left his mark on the genre with his portrayal of Michael Corleone in the three “Godfather” movies. De Niro stars as Sheeran, the “Irishman” of the title, a truck driver who gets drawn into the mafia as an enforcer. He eventually becomes a trusted ally of Teamster president Hoffa (Pacino), a friendship that comes to a head when Hoffa’s actions run afoul of the mafia’s leadership.

Fatman stars Gibson as a frustrated Santa Claus who is targeted by a rich kid who received a lump of coal for his selfishness. The kid hires an assassin to kill Santa.

A complete list of new disc and digital releases, compiled each week by the Media Play News market research team, can be found here.

The Irishman

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street Date 11/24/20;
Criterion;
Drama;
$29.95 DVD, $39.95 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for pervasive language and strong violence.
Stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Ray Romano, Bobby Cannavale, Anna Paquin, Jesse Plemons, Stephen Graham, Harvey Keitel.

Lest anyone accuse Martin Scorsese of glamorizing gangsters, he presents The Irishman, a screed against the criminal lifestyle.

The film is based on the 2004 book I Heard You Paint Houses, a recounting of the life of mafia hitman Frank Sheeran, the man who claims to have killed Jimmy Hoffa, the union boss whose disappearance in 1975 became one of the 20th century’s great mysteries.

The subject matter is fodder for Scorsese, who assembles a cast of mob-movie all-stars to deliver another highly entertaining trip into the inner workings of the criminal underworld. This includes usual Scorsese collaborators such as Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci (who was coaxed out of retirement to appear). It is somehow also the first teaming of Al Pacino with Scorsese despite both being famously associated with the mafia movie genres.

The film, which earned a slew of Oscar nominations after debuting on Netflix in 2019, is lengthy at three-and-a-half hours, but is briskly paced enough to hold one’s attention. Of course, the nature of home video also allows viewers to pause the movie whenever they want, giving Scorsese plenty of leeway to indulge himself.

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De Niro stars as Sheeran, the ‘Irishman’ of the title, a truck driver who gets drawn into the mafia as an enforcer. He eventually becomes a trusted ally of Teamster president Hoffa (Al Pacino), a friendship that comes to a head when Hoffa’s actions run afoul of the mafia’s leadership.

The extended running time not only allows the audience time to get to know the characters, but it also allows Scorsese to hone in on an aspect of criminal life that wasn’t central to his earlier works in the genre: What happens to the violent gangsters who manage not to get killed and end up growing old? Was their life of crime still worth it once they realize what they had to leave behind to achieve it?

As if to carry the point home, Scorsese makes a point to pause the introductions of several minor characters to display an on-screen graphic describing their fates, which usually involves a horrific, violent death.

On the subject of aging, the film famously made extensive use of de-aging visual effects software in order to allow the elderly stars to play the younger versions of their characters since the film spans several decades. Scorsese in the Blu-ray’s bonus materials says the technology was vital to his deciding to direct the film, as he didn’t want to have to cast younger actors for the earlier scenes and only work with De Niro for half the movie. The results are subtle if not always perfect, but they don’t hamper the effectiveness of the film at all.

Because of the film’s length, Criterion has made the Blu-ray of The Irishman a two-disc set, with the entirety of the movie presented as the only content on the first disc. All the bonus materials are on the second disc and they do a good job of taking viewers behind the scenes of the film. Both discs come in a handsome fold-out slipcover with some beautiful painted artwork of De Niro and Pacino, plus a booklet with an essay about the film.

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In addition to the film’s trailers, the extras include a 36-minute “Making The Irishman” featurette that covers all the aspects of the production.

Film history fans will get a kick out of the 19-minute “Table for Four” featurette, a roundtable conversation between Scorsese, De Niro, Pacino and Pesci as they discuss their careers and how they came together for this movie.

Also interesting is the 21-and-a-half-minute “Gangsters’ Requiem,” a video essay about the evolution of Scorsese’s career and how his previous works are reflected in The Irishman.

A five-minute “Anatomy of a Scene” video features Scorsese providing commentary on the Frank Sheeran Appreciation Night scene.

The film’s visual effects techniques are expanded upon in the 13-minute “The Evolution of Digital De-Aging as Seen in The Irishman” featurette, which was originally a Netflix promotional piece.

Finally, there are a couple of archival videos that the filmmakers used in re-creating historic events: a six-minute interview with an elderly Sheeran, and a 17-and-a-half minute news profile of Hoffa by David Brinkley in 1963.

Paramount to Reissue Third ‘Godfather’ Film With New Edit, Restoration

Paramount Pictures Sept. 3 announced it will release a new edit and restoration of Francis Ford Coppola’s third and final film in his epic “Godfather” trilogy, The Godfather Part III.

The rebranded Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone, Paramount says, “achieves director/screenwriter Coppola and screenwriter Puzo’s original vision for the finale, which has been meticulously restored for the finest presentation of the Corleone saga’s last chapter.”

The 1990 release of the third film was maligned by critics as not living up to the standard set by the first two films in the franchise, which won the Oscar for Best Picture for the 1972 and 1974 movie years, respectively. The new version of the third film will have a limited theatrical release in December, followed by availability through digital retailers and on disc.

Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone is an acknowledgment of Mario’s and my preferred title and our original intentions for what became The Godfather Part III,” Coppola said in a statement. “For this version of the finale, I created a new beginning and ending, and rearranged some scenes, shots and music cues. With these changes and the restored footage and sound, to me, it is a more appropriate conclusion to The Godfather and The Godfather Part II, and I’m thankful to Jim Gianopulos and Paramount for allowing me to revisit it.”

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Coppola’s three-part movie adaptation of Puzo’s novel chronicles the rise and fall of the Corleone mob family. Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, The Godfather Part III was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. The film follows Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) in his 60s as he seeks to free his family from crime and find a suitable successor to his empire.

Coppola and his production company American Zoetrope worked from a 4K scan of the original negative to undertake a frame-by-frame restoration of both the new Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone and the original The Godfather Part III. Zoetrope and Paramount’s restoration team began by searching for more than 50 original takes to replace lower-resolution opticals in the original negative. This process took more than six months and involved sifting through 300 cartons of negative.  American Zoetrope worked diligently to repair scratches, stains, and other anomalies that could not be addressed previously due to technology constraints, while enhancements were made to the original 5.1 audio mix. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, midway through the project all work — even the search for the negative — shifted to the San Francisco Bay area and Los Angeles and was completed remotely.

“Mr. Coppola oversaw every aspect of the restoration while working on the new edit, ensuring that the film not only looks and sounds pristine, but also meets his personal standards and directorial vision,” said Andrea Kalas, SVP of Paramount Archives.

Additional details about the theatrical and home entertainment releases will be provided at a later date, Paramount says.

On Rotten Tomatoes, The Godfather Part III has a 69% favorable rating from critics and a 78% favorable rating from audiences. This compares to 98% for The Godfather from both segments and 98% from critics and 97% from audiences for The Godfather Part II.

 

Criterion Releasing Scorsese’s ‘The Irishman’ on Blu-ray and DVD Nov. 24

The Criterion Collection Nov. 24 will release Blu-ray Disc and DVD editions of director Martin Scorsese’s acclaimed mobster epic The Irishman.

The three-and-a-half-hour movie, which earned 10 Oscar nominations but didn’t win any, stars Robert De Niro as Frank Sheeran, a former hitman and union truck driver who reflects on his life in organized crime in the mid-20th century, from his involvement with Philadelphia mob boss Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci) to his association with Teamsters union head Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino), and the rift that forced him to choose between the two.

The movie arrives on disc a year after its debut on Netflix, sporting a new 4K digital master approved by Scorsese, with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack on the Blu-ray.

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Extras include a newly edited roundtable conversation among Scorsese, De Niro, Pacino and Pesci originally recorded in 2019; a new documentary about the making of the film; a new video essay written and narrated by film critic Farran Smith Nehme about The Irishman’s synthesis of Scorsese’s singular formal style; “The Evolution of Digital De-aging,” a 2019 program on the visual effects created for the film; archival interview excerpts with Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran and International Brotherhood of Teamsters trade union leader Jimmy Hoffa; the film’s trailer and teaser; plus an essay by critic Geoffrey O’Brien.

Criterion previously released disc versions of Netflix originals Roma and Marriage Story.

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Glengarry Glen Ross: Collector’s Edition

BLU-RAY REVIEW 

Street Date 6/2/20;
Shout! Factory;
Drama;
$22.97 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for language including sexual references.
Stars Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alan Arkin, Ed Harris, Kevin Spacey, Alec Baldwin, Jonathan Pryce, Jude Ciccolella, Bruce Altman.

Some movies just have a way of getting in your head and wrapping themselves around your brain. Glengarry Glen Ross, based on David Mamet’s stage play, is such a film. With a powerhouse cast (including four Academy Award winners) delivering juicy dialogue, how could it not be? Don’t be surprised if you find yourself quoting the film with regularity after a viewing.

In the 1992 film, as with the play, we meet four real-estate salesmen who will do anything to sell worthless property to customers who don’t want it.

Mamet has found a way to cram so many worthwhile themes, from transition to desperation, into such a simple framework. Jack Lemmon plays Shelley “The Machine” Levine, an elderly salesman who has fallen on hard times. Al Pacino plays smooth-talker Ricky Roma, who is in the midst of a winning streak. Alec Baldwin plays a hotshot from downtown who shows up in a classic cameo written specifically for the actor for the screen version. All are pitch perfect.

Baldwin puts the fear of God into the salesmen by telling them to close a deal or they’re fired. The next day, the office has been ransacked. Sensitive documents have been stolen. The subsequent investigation quickly gives way to one of the classic verbal beatdowns in cinema history, when Pacino berates the inept office manager, played by Kevin Spacey, after he costs Roma a big sale.

These are scenes you could watch again and again with continued fascination at the skill with which these performers give life to the words on the page. Mamet’s screenplay, which he adapted himself, is often hailed as being better than the stage version due to the inclusion of the Baldwin scene, which crystalizes the stakes of the story in a way the stage production only hints at.

Surprisingly, despite its legacy and acclaim, the film earned just one Academy Award nomination, Pacino for Best Supporting Actor. Pacino would lose that race to Gene Hackman in Unforgiven, but got the last laugh the same year when he took home Best Actor for Scent of a Woman. For some people it’s just in the cards. (When the movie came out, Lemmon had been the only Oscar winner in the cast. After Pacino, Spacey and Alan Arkin would later win Oscars, with Baldwin, Ed Harris and Jonathan Pryce earning Oscar nominations).

The new Shout Select Blu-ray presents the film with a gorgeous new 4K digital transfer from the original camera negative that offers a crisp, vivid image. Being sourced from a loquacious stage play, the film’s visual splendors are secondary concerns, though director James Foley and cinematographer Juan Ruiz Anchía do their best to enhance the dreary ambiance of the piece with moody shadows and reflections of rain while bathing the characters in various shades of neon.

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In terms of bonus material, the new Blu-ray offers a healthy mix of old and new extras.

The first of the new additions is a 30-minute interview with Foley as he reflects on the development of the film version and the relative ease of the production since he was working with such a talented cast and a tight screenplay. The other is “God Bless Ricky Roma,” a 24-minute interview with actor Joe Mantegna, who won a Tony playing Roma on Broadway in the 1980s.

The Shout Blu-ray also includes two half-hour documentaries from the old 10th anniversary DVD from 1992 that were subsequently included on Lionsgate’s 2016 Blu-ray edition: the “ABC: Always Be Closing” documentary about the psychological intersection of fictional and real-life salesmen, and the “Magic Time: A Tribute to Jack Lemmon” documentary.

The disc also includes two commentary tracks. One comes from Foley that originated on the 10th anniversary DVD and was included on the Blu-ray as well. He offers some good stories about the production, some of which he also recounts in the new interview, but there are lengthy gaps where he just lets the film run without saying a word.

The other commentary is by Jack Lemmon, originally recorded for the 1992 Laserdisc of the film but missing from subsequent disc releases, so it makes a welcome return here. Lemmon is effusive in his praise for his fellow cast members, whom he calls the most talented bunch he ever worked with. His commentary is a fantastic intermingling of stories from the set with tales of old Hollywood from the 1950s and ’60s.

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As to what didn’t make it from previous releases, the new Blu-ray jettisons a 10-minute clip of Lemmon on the Charlie Rose show talking about the movie in 1992, and a two-minute bit of Kevin Spacey reciting his “Go to lunch” scene with an audience member on “Inside the Actors Studio.” Both were featured on both the previous DVD and Blu-ray releases, but their absence here is understandable given the problematic revelations regarding both Rose and Spacey that have popped up in recent years. It’s a shame to lose the reflections from Lemmon in the Rose piece, though.

In addition, a couple of extras from the old DVD that didn’t carry over to the 2016 Blu-ray also aren’t resurrected here. These include a scene-specific commentary from the cast and crew, and filmmaker Tony Buba’s short documentary “J. Roy: New and Used Furniture.” So completist collectors who have that 10th anniversary DVD might want to pair this new Blu-ray with the second disc from that set (which offers the pan-and-scan version of the movie along with the extras missing from the later Blu-rays).

Shout Select Presents ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ Collector’s Edition Blu-ray June 2

Shout! Factory’s premium home video label, Shout Select, June 2 will release a collector’s edition Blu-ray of the 1992 film Glengarry Glen Ross.

Adapted from the play by David Mamet, the film tracks a group of down-on-their luck Chicago real-estate salesman as they try to meet the month’s sale’s goals in order to avoid being fired.

The cast includes Al Pacino in an Oscar-nominated performance, plus Jack Lemmon, Ed Harris, Alan Arkin, Kevin Spacey, Jonathan Pryce and Alec Baldwin as the motivational speaker whose cameo was written into the film version.

The Shout! Blu-ray edition includes a new 4K transfer from the original camera negative; a new conversation with director James Foley; a new “God Bless Ricky Roma” featurette in which actor Joe Mantegna remembers working with Mamet on a stage production of the story; an “A.B.C. ‘Always Be Closing’ featurette; a “Magic Time: A Tribute To Jack Lemmon” featurette; and separate commentaries with Foley and Lemmon.

Amazon’s ‘Hunters’ Top Rising Show, Netflix’s ‘Locke & Key’ Again Top Binge on TV Time Charts

Amazon’s “Hunters” was the top rising show while Netflix’s “Locke & Key” was again the top binge show on the TV Time charts for the week ended Feb. 23.

“Hunters” debuted Feb. 21. The series, from executive producer Jordan Peele, stars Al Pacino in a story of Nazi hunters in 1977 New York.

“Locke & Key,” which hit screens Feb. 7, is an adaptation of the comic book series. It follows three siblings and their mother who move into their ancestral home, Keyhouse, after the father is murdered under mysterious circumstances. The house, they discover, is full of magical keys that may be connected to the father’s death.

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TV Time is a free TV viewership tracking app that tracks consumers’ viewing habits worldwide and is visited by more than 1 million consumers every day, according to the service. The weekly “Binge Report” ranks shows with the most binge sessions. A binge session is when four or more episodes of a show are watched and tracked in the app in a given day. The “Shows on the Rise” chart is calculated by determining the week-over-week growth in episodes watched for a given program. The network displayed is the network where the show first aired (e.g. “Friends” on NBC).

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Top Binge Shows Week Ended Feb. 23 by Share of Binges:

  1. “Locke & Key” (Netflix) — 2.84%
  2. “Cable Girls” (Netflix) — 2.41%
  3. “Friends” (NBC) — 1.99%
  4. “Sex Education” (Netflix) — 1.94%
  5. “Vikings” (History) — 1.82%
  6. “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (NBC) — 1.67%
  7. “Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC) — 1.42%
  8. “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” (Netflix) — 1.32%
  9. “Riverdale” (The CW) — 1.26%
  10. “Narcos: Mexico” (Netflix) — 1.22%

 

Top “Shows on the Rise” Week Ended Feb. 23 by Rise Ratio:

  1. “Hunters” (Amazon) — 99.9%
  2. “Koh-Lanta” (TF1) — 97.5%
  3. “Les Marseillias” (W9) — 97.4%
  4. “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” (HBO) — 93.6%
  5. “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” (NBC) — 93.2%
  6. “The Chef Show” (Netflix) — 93%
  7. “Love Is Blind” (Netflix) — 86.4%
  8. “God Friended Me” (CBS) — 73.3%
  9. “Batwoman” (The CW) — 71.9%
  10. “NCIS: New Orleans” (CBS) — 70.9%

Netflix Left $3.6 Billion at the Theatrical Box Office in 2019

Beginning in late 2018 through this year, Netflix has redoubled efforts to produce original feature-length movies in addition to episodic TV series.

At the same time, the SVOD pioneer continues to throw a curve ball into traditional theatrical distribution by largely eschewing exhibitor releases in favor of worldwide streaming access.

The result is friction from theater operators, industry awards groups and a significant hit to the fiscal bottom line.

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Netflix said its most-popular original movies from October 2018 through September 2019 included Bird Box (80 million views), Murder Mystery (73 million), Triple Frontier (52 million), The Perfect Date (48 million) and Tall Girl (41 million).

The streamer said movies such as Fyre, Otherhood, Always Be My Maybe, Secret Obsession and The Highwaymen generated more than 20 million views each within four weeks of release. The list excludes El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (25 million) and The Irishman (40 million).

While 72% of Netflix households have more than one user on the account, when factoring just one view per subscription, the aforementioned movies generated about 394 million views. Netflix ended Q3 with 158 million subscribers worldwide.

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Multiplying the views by $9.11, the average cost of a theatrical movie ticket in 2018, suggests Netflix conservatively left more than $3.58 billion in ticket sales on the table over a film’s initial 30-day period.

That’s just slightly less than Netflix’s entire third-quarter 2018 revenue of $3.9 billion.

While it can be argued that streaming a movie for “free” is more likely an option for consumers than leaving the house and buying a ticket for a non-Marvel release at a cineplex, the data underscores users’ willingness to devote a significant time allotment for video content.

“The thing that’s amazing about that is … think of everything those people could be doing on those screens, and they chose a [Netflix] film,” Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at the streamer, told an industry gathering earlier this month.

Sarandos was talking about The Irishman, Netflix’s 3-and-a-half-hour big-budget gangster movie from director Martin Scorsese that has multiple Golden Globe nominations. “Consumers understand the value of proposition of new movie watching, compared with TV series,” he said.

Scorsese’s most-recent theatrical release, 2016’s Silence, earned just $23.7 million at the global box office against an estimated budget of more than $40 million. But before that, 2013’s The Wolf of Wall Street earned $392 million at the worldwide box office, 2011’s Hugo earned $186 million, 2010’s Shutter Island earned $294 million, and 2006’s The Departed generated $291 million. With The Irishman touting a typical Scorsese cast: Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino, it’s not unreasonable the film would have attracted moviegoers.

Irishman was released in select indie theaters to be considered for industry awards, including the Oscars.

The Irishman lost a lot of box office,” Mooky Greidinger, CEO of Cineworld, said in an interview. “A Scorsese released properly in cinemas would have generated a nice income.”

Indeed, Netflix hasn’t been shy seeking third-party funding for its content aspirations. In October the platform sold more than $2 billion in long-term debt (bonds) in the U.S. and Europe to buttress original content production in response to growing third-party competition, including Disney+.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

BLU-RAY REVIEW:  

Sony Pictures;
Comedy;
Box Office $141.06 million;
$30.99 DVD, $38.99 Blu-ray, $45.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for language throughout, some strong graphic violence, drug use, and sexual references.
Stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Emile Hirsch, Margaret Qualley, Timothy Olyphant, Julia Butters, Austin Butler, Dakota Fanning, Bruce Dern, Mike Moh, Luke Perry, Damian Lewis, Al Pacino, Nicholas Hammond.

Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood isn’t so much a film as it is a time machine that transports the audience back to 1969, allowing the viewer to swim in the atmosphere and flavor of the era.

The movie is Tarantino’s love letter to the movies and TV shows he grew up with, providing a vast canvas for him to relish in his specialties of memorable characters, rich background detail, and an indelible soundtrack of period-specific songs.

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The story is a tale of contrasting Hollywood paths. On one road is former television Western star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio), a borderline has-been looking to hold onto his fame by taking guest spots as the bad guy in the popular shows of the day, when he’s not too drunk to remember his lines.

Dalton is accompanied everywhere by his stunt double, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), who’s even more down on his luck but gets by on a come-what-may attitude despite a shady past that has led to Rick being the only one willing to employ him.

On the flip side is Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie), the up-and-coming starlet giddy over seeing her name on the movie marquee.

And in between them is the Manson family, which gives the film some historical context, grounding it in both a sense of dread and morbid fascination. Of course, anyone familiar with Tarantino’s previous efforts in historical fiction will understand where the real clash of this story is headed.

But as could be expected with Tarantino at the helm, the film transcends the bounds of story to give viewers the experience of living in the fantasy of 1960s Hollywood. A mix of parody and homage, the film is so beautifully shot and faithful to the styles of the time that it just feels like watching a memory — or at the very least, a dream of how things could have been.

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In typical Tarantino fashion, the overarching story isn’t so much the point as the individual scenes that comprise it, offering unforgettable bits of dialogue and character interactions, from Rick being reduced to tears by his 8-year-old co-star, to Rick and Cliff providing a running commentary watching an episode of “FBI.”

Even more of Tarantino’s Hollywood is offered up in the Blu-ray bonus materials, which feature more than 20 minutes of additional scenes, from expansions of scenes already in the movie to faux commercials for some of the products prominently featured.

Also included are five behind-the-scenes featurettes totaling more than a half-hour that detail the intricate re-creation of the period.