‘Wizard of Oz’ Off to 4K Oct. 29

The 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz will be released on Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack and digital Oct. 29 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Directed by Victor Fleming (Gone With the Wind) and starring Judy Garland as Dorothy Gayle, The Wizard of Oz received five Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, and captured two Oscars, Best Song (“Over the Rainbow”) and Best Original Score, plus a special award for Outstanding Juvenile Performance by Garland. Adapted from L. Frank Baum’s children’s tale about a Kansas girl’s journey over the rainbow, The Wizard of Oz also stars Ray Bolger as the Scarecrow, Bert Lahr as the Cowardly Lion and Jack Haley as the Tin Woodman.

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The film appears on multiple AFI lists, including: 100 Years… 100 Movies (No. 6); 100 Years… 100 Thrills (No. 43); 100 Years… 100 Heroes and Villains (No. 4); 100 Years… 100 Songs (No. 1); 100 Years… 100 Movie Quotes (No. 4); and Greatest Movie Musicals (No. 3). In 1989 The Wizard of Oz was part of the inaugural group of films selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant.

A new 8K, 16 bit scan of the original Technicolor camera negative was the basis for the 4K UHD scan, according to the studio. The process was overseen by MPI colorist Janet Wilson, who has overseen every remaster of The Wizard of Oz for the past 20 years.

The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc of The Wizard of Oz will feature Dolby Vision HDR.

UHD Blu-ray and Blu-ray special features include commentary by John Fricke with Barbara Freed-Saltzman, Margaret Hamilton, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, John Lahr, Jane Lahr, Hamilton Meserve, Dona Massin, William Tuttle, Buddy Ebsen, Mervyn LeRoy and Jerry Maren and the 1990 CBS Special “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: The Making of a Movie Classic.”

Blu-ray special features include:

  • “The Making of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”;
  • “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Storybook” (narrated by Angela Lansbury);
  • “We Haven’t Really Met Properly: Frank Morgan”;
  • “We Haven’t Really Met Properly: Ray Bolger”;
  • “We Haven’t Really Met Properly: Bert Lahr”;
  • “We Haven’t Really Met Properly: Jack Haley”;
  • “We Haven’t Really Met Properly: Billie Burke”;
  • “We Haven’t Really Met Properly: Margaret Hamilton”;
  • “We Haven’t Really Met Properly: Charley Grapewin”;
  • “We Haven’t Really Met Properly: Clara Blandick”;
  • “We Haven’t Really Met Properly: Terry”;
  • a music and effects track;
  • the original mono track;
  • sing along tracks;
  • an audio jukebox;
  • the “Leo is on the Air” radio promo;
  • the “Good News of 1939” radio show;
  • the 12/25/1950 Lux radio broadcast;
  • stills galleries; and
  • trailers.

Italian Film ‘The First King’ Coming to DVD and Blu-ray Sept. 24 From Well Go

The Italian film The First King will be released on DVD and Blu-ray (plus DVD) combo pack and digital Sept. 24 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

The historical drama follows Romulus and Remus, two shepherds and loyal brothers who are destined to found the greatest empire the world has ever seen‚ but only one can rule. The journey to greatness is paved with blood, and the fate of the chosen one lies in the hands of a brother.

The film is directed by Matteo Rovere (Drifters) and stars Alessandro Borghi, Alessio Lapice, Fabrizio Rongione, Massimiliano Rossi and Tania Garribba.

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The release features a new English dub. Bonus materials include a making-of featurette.

Romero-Argento Horror Compilation ‘Two Evil Eyes’ Due on Blu-ray Oct. 29 From MVD and Blue Underground

Two Evil Eyes, featuring a pair of shockers inspired by the tales of Edgar Allan Poe from directors George Romero and Dario Argento, will come out in a three-disc, limited-edition Blu-ray plus CD set from MVD Entertainment Group and Blue Underground.

In Romero’s The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar, a conniving wife (Adrienne Barbeau) and her lover use a hypnotic trance to embezzle a fortune from her dying husband, only to receive some chilling surprises from beyond the grave. In Argento’s The Black Cat, a deranged crime scene photographer (Harvey Keitel) is driven to brutal acts of madness and murder by his girlfriend’s new pet.

Martin Balsam, E.G. Marshall, John Amos and Tom Atkins co-star.

In celebration of its 30th Anniversary, Blue Underground presents Two Evil Eyes in a new 4K restoration from its original camera negative.

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Bonus features include new audio commentary with Troy Howarth, author of Murder By Design: The Unsane Cinema of Dario Argento; the theatrical trailer; a poster and still gallery; “Two Masters’ Eyes,” featuring interviews with Argento and Romero, special make-up effects supervisor Tom Savini, executive producer Claudio Argento and Asia Argento; “Savini’s EFX,” a behind-the-scenes look at the film’s special make-up effects; “At Home With Tom Savini,” a personal tour of Savini’s home; “Adrienne Barbeau on George Romero”; “Before I Wake,” a new interview with star Ramy Zada; “Behind the Wall,” a new interview with star Madeleine Potter; “One Maestro and Two Masters,” a new interview with composer Pino Donaggio; “Rewriting Poe,” a new interview with co-writer Franco Ferrini; “The Cat Who Wouldn’t Die,” a new interview with assistant director Luigi Cozzi; “Two Evil Brothers,” a new interview with special make-up assistant Everett Burrell; and “Working With George,” a new interview with costume designer Barbara Anderson.

The set also includes a CD with the original motion picture soundtrack by Donaggio and a collectable booklet with a new essay by Michael Gingold.

‘Toy Story 4,’ From Disney, Pixar, Gets Home Release Dates

Toy Story 4, the year’s No. 4 movie at the box office, will become available for home viewing in October, the Walt Disney Co. announced Aug. 22.

The animated film, with a domestic gross of $425 million, will arrive on digital Oct. 1, with a Blu-ray Disc, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and DVD release following on Oct. 8.

The fourth film in the “Toy Story” franchise is a sequel to 2010’s Toy Story 3, which took in $415 million in North American movie theaters. The franchise was launched in 1995 with Pixar’s original Toy Story, the world’s first fully computer-animated feature film. Disney purchased Pixar in 2006.

Toy Story 4 features an all-star voice cast that includes Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Jordan Peele, Keanu Reeves and Joan Cusack.

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The home editions of Toy Story 4 contain more than an hour of bonus features celebrating Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the franchise’s other iconic characters. Extras includes deleted scenes such as an alternate ending; a new featurette that chronicles Woody and Buzz’s friendship through the years; studio stories shared by members of the Pixar team; a nostalgic look back at the creation and first storyboard screening of Toy Story with filmmakers; and a documentary on the pioneering efforts of Pixar artists who created the sets, characters, look and feel of the original film.

In Toy Story 4, Woody (Hanks) has always been confident about his place in the world, and that his priority is taking care of his kid, whether that’s Andy or Bonnie. So, when Bonnie’s new craft-project-turned-toy Forky (voiced by Tony Hale) calls himself “trash,” Woody decides to teach Forky how to embrace being a toy. But a road-trip adventure, including an unexpected reunion with his long-lost friend Bo Peep (voiced by Annie Potts), shows Woody how big the world can be for a toy. New additions to the cast of animated characters include carnival prizes Ducky (voiced by Keegan-Michael Key) and Bunny (Peele) bring a new level of fun to the film.

The fourth installment in the “Toy Story” series will be packaged several ways for home consumption. Toy Story 4 arrives home a week early on digital 4K Ultra HD, HD and SD with two exclusive extras, including a deleted scene, “Bonnie’s Playtime.”

A week later, fans will be able to buy physical copies of the film on disc, also in various incarnations: as a 4K Ultra HD combo pack (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and digital code), a Blu-ray combo pack (Blu-ray, DVD and digital code) and a single DVD.

Also available is a digital bundle of all four films.

Horror Film ‘Midsommar’ Due on Digital Sept. 24 From A24, Disc Oct. 8 From Lionsgate

The sun-soaked horror film Midsommar, from director Ari Aster (Hereditary), is coming on digital and on demand Sept. 24 from A24, and on Blu-ray combo pack (plus DVD and digital) and DVD Oct. 8 from Lionsgate.

The film stars Florence Pugh as a young woman who, after a family tragedy, reluctantly joins her boyfriend on a summer trip to a remote Swedish village for a midsummer festival, which becomes more and more sinister as the days pass. What begins as a carefree summer holiday takes a turn when the insular villagers invite their guests to partake in festivities that grow increasingly unnerving and viscerally disturbing.

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The film, which made $25.9 million at the domestic box office, also stars Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper and Will Poulter.

Disc special features include a making-of featurette, offering insight into Aster’s vision.

DEG: Home Entertainment Spending Posts 7% Gain in First Half of 2019

Consumers spent nearly $6 billion on home entertainment in the second quarter of 2019, a 7% gain from the same period last year.

The gain came despite a nearly 10% year-over-year decline in the box office value of movies that became available for in-home viewing during the quarter, according to DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.

Granted, the rising reliance of subscription streaming services like Netflix on original content, mostly digital TV series, has made comparisons between home entertainment spending and the box office earnings of movies a bit less relevant.

But the disparity still suggests a growing number of consumers prefer to enjoy their entertainment at home.

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For the first six months of the year, consumer spending on home entertainment came in at just over $12 billion, a 6.7% uptick from the first half of 2018.

The box office value of films released to the home during that same period, meanwhile, fell more than 15.5% to just over $5 billion.

As expected, increases in consumer spending on streaming were largely responsible for the gains in overall home entertainment spending.

DEG estimates consumers spent nearly $7.5 billion on subscriptions to Netflix, Amazon and other streaming services in the first half of this year, a 22% increase from the first half of 2018. Spending in the second quarter, which ended June 30, rose more than 23% to $3.89 billion.

The only other category to post an increase in consumer spending during the first half of 2019 was electronic sellthrough (EST), or the digital purchase of movies and other content, which generated an estimated $1.2 billion in consumer spending, up 3.3% from the first six months of 2018.

Breaking the numbers apart, DEG says first-half spending on theatrical EST was up nearly 8%, while spending on video on demand for theatrical movies rose more than 9%. Total transactional VOD spending in the first half of the year came in at just over $1 billion, a decline of nearly 4% from the prior year’s first half.

Combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc sales for the first half of 2019 amounted to an estimated $1.5 billion, down about 21% from the first six months of 2018. In the second quarter, disc sales generated $716 million in revenue, down 19.3% from the second quarter of 2018.

Combined disc and digital ownership for the half-year was $2.75 billion, down 11.8% from the previous year. Content ownership in the quarter was $1.27 billion, down 12.1% from the same period a year ago.

Walmart Posts Healthy Second-Quarter 2019 Financials

Walmart, the nation’s biggest brick-and-mortar retailer of DVDs and Blu-ray Discs, on Aug. 15 reported gains in both second-quarter earnings and revenue, with same-store sales up a healthy 2.8% and e-commerce sales in U.S. stores up 37%.

The company also raised its outlook for the full year.

“Customers are responding to the improvements we’re making, the productivity loop is working, and we’re gaining market share,” CEO Doug McMillon said in a statement.

Walmart noted that on a two-year stacked basis, same-store sales were up 7.3%, the strongest growth in more than 10 years.

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Net income rose to $3.61 billion, or $1.26 per share, compared with a net loss of $861 million, or 29 cents a share, in the second quarter of 2018. Excluding one-time items, Walmart earned $1.27 a share, 5 cents more than expected.

Total revenue climbed 1.8% to $130.38 billion from $128.03 billion a year earlier, beating analyst expectations for sales of $130.11 billion.

In the United States, net sales grew 2.9% to $85.20 billion from $82.82 billion a year earlier.

Read or download Walmart’s financial presentation to management

The nation’s largest retailer continues to lead in DVD and Blu-ray Disc sales, devoting  significant retail space to the category, including point-of-purchase displays and ubiquitous dump bins.

“We still sell a lot of DVDs at Walmart,” Thomas Hughes, EVP of worldwide TV & digital distribution at Lionsgate, told attendees Dec. 11 at the Parks Associates’ “Future of Video” confab in Marina del Rey, Calif. “We’re on the coasts, so we don’t see it. But other people still buy DVDs.”

On an Aug. 15 earnings call with analysts to discuss the latest financial results, Greg Foran, Walmart US president and CEO, said, “We saw a strong growth in grocery … and general merchandise comps. They were up despite softness from some of weather-sensitive categories like lawn and garden and apparel. We’re really pleased with market share gains across grocery and general merchandise.” The general merchandise category includes DVDs and Blu-ray Discs.

Chuck Berry Tribute Concert Film Debuts on Blu-ray Disc

Shout! Factory Nov. 9 will release the classic rock ‘n’ roll film Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll on DVD and, for the first time ever, Blu-ray Disc.

The Blu-ray Disc edition is a two-disc collector’s edition with a suggested retail price of $24.97.

The DVD is a standard single disc at $19.99.

The discs will be released under the indie supplier’s Shout Select brand.

The landmark feature film captures a 1986 concert honoring rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Berry on his 60th birthday. The concert was assembled by Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, who invited a roster of well-known musicians to honor Berry — including Eric Clapton, Robert Cray, Linda Ronstadt, Etta James, and Julian Lennon.

The film also features archival footage of a duet by Berry and John Lennon.

Special features include:

  • Introduction by director Taylor Hackford
  • 54 minutes of rehearsal footage
  • The Reluctant Movie Star, a making-of documentary
  • The original theatrical trailer
  • Witnesses to History documentary Parts 1 & 2
  • “Chuckisms” – a collection of classic Chuck Berry remarks
  • “The Burnt Scrapbook” – Chuck Berry reminisces over his musical memories with The Band’s Robbie Robertson

 

A four-disc DVD was originally released in 2006 by Image Entertainment. Long out of print, copies are selling for as much as $200 on Amazon.

Affleck’s Indie Drama ‘Light of My Life’ Arrives on DVD, Blu-ray Disc Oct. 8

Paramount Home Entertainment has announced DVD and Blu-ray Disc release dates for Light of My Life, a survivalist thriller directed by Casey Affleck that is currently in theaters and also available digitally and on demand.

The movie will arrive on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on Oct. 8. The film takes place a decade after a plague has wiped out nearly all of the world’s female population. A father (Affleck) and daughter (newcomer Anna Pniowsky) live on the outskirts of what’s left of civilization. Disguising his daughter as a boy, the father struggles to protect her from newfound threats as they are driven from their home into dangerous territory.

‘Galaxy Quest’ Limited Edition Steelbook Available Exclusively at Best Buy Sept. 17

Paramount Home Entertainment Sept. 17 is releasing a limited collector’s edition Blu-ray steelbook of Galaxy Quest for its 20th anniversary exclusively at Best Buy.

The sci-fi send-up about aging TV actors who encounter aliens stars Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Tony Shalhoub, Sam Rockwell, Enrico Colantoni, Daryl Mitchell and Justin Long.

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Special features include:

  • “Galactopedia,” on-screen information about characters, ships, aliens and more;
  • “Historical Documents: The Story of Galaxy Quest,” with cast and filmmakers discussing the making of the film;
  • “Never Give Up, Never Surrender: The Intrepid Crew of the NSEA Protector,” about the cast;
  • “By Grabthar’s Hammer, What Amazing Effects,” which explores the effects by ILM and Stan Winston;
  • “Alien School—Creating the Thermian Race,” about actor Enrico Colantoni’s process of developing the voice and manner of an alien race;
  • “Actors in Space,” which delves into the psyche of the cast;
  • “Sigourney Weaver Raps”;
  • deleted scenes; and
  • the theatrical trailer.