‘Original Christmas Specials’ Blu-ray Steelbook Coming Nov. 2

The Original Christmas Specials Collection will come out in a Steelbook Blu-ray Nov. 2 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, featuring five classic stories produced by Rankin/Bass.

The collection includes Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town and The Little Drummer Boy featuring stop-motion animation and the animated Frosty the Snowman and Cricket on the Hearth. The productions feature the iconic voice talents of Fred Astaire, Jimmy Durante, Mickey Rooney, Danny Thomas, Burl Ives and many more, as well as classic songs.

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Special features include “The Animagic World of Rankin/Bass”; “Restoring the Puppets of Rudolph”; “Reimagining Rudolph in 4D”; “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Attraction Film”; and commentaries.

Fatman

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 1/26/21;
Paramount;
Action;
Box Office $0.28 million;
$19.99 DVD, $22.99 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for bloody violence, and language.
Stars Mel Gibson, Walton Goggins, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Chance Hurstfield, Robert Bockstael, Eric Woolfe, Susanne Sutchy, Deborah Grover.

The idea at the center of Fatman hints at a fun deconstruction of a Christmas movie — a kid upset with his gift hires a hitman to kill Santa Claus. However, the premise turns out to be more intriguing than the execution.

Mel Gibson stars as Chris Cringle, who is presented as the gruff, put-upon chairman of the Christmas workshop whose business is declining every year due to children becoming less enthralled by the magic of the holidays. The workshop gets paid by the U.S. government based on the number of presents delivered, but as Cringle explains, more and more children are being naughty every year, and per the rules of his existence are eligible to receive only coal.

One such child is a spoiled rich kid named Billy (Chance Hurstfield) who tortures his classmates into dropping out of the school science fair so he can win. He is so incensed by receiving a lump of coal that he steals $25,000 from his grandmother to send an assassin played by Walton Goggins to kill Cringle.

In a twist, the killer has his own beef with Santa over crappy childhood Christmases, and has been amassing a collection of toys that seem to have come from the workshop.

Meanwhile, to make ends meet, Cringle takes on another contract with the U.S. government, this time outsourcing the workshop’s elves to make military hardware.

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A modernist take on Santa that is somewhere between Elf and Die Hard by way of No Country for Old Men, the film offers some clever takes on the Santa myth, such as when Cringle returns from his Christmas deliveries and reveals a gunshot wound he has to patch up, the result of an increasingly violent society mistaking his sleigh as hostile. Gibson is certainly a non-traditional Santa, eschewing the jolly red suit for antacid tablets and shots of whiskey to get by in the harsh winters, and using his knowledge of the naughty list to shame men into not cheating on their wives.

The film’s absurdist quality makes it passable as a curio, though its leisurely pacing and sparse action make it seem to drag on a lot longer than its 99 minutes.

Among the Blu-ray extras is a nice commentary track with Mel Gibson, directors Eshom and Ian Nelms, producer Michelle Land, and cinematographer Johnny Derango, that gives a good idea of the flavor the filmmakers were after.

Also included are two storyboard-to-film comparisons of key scenes, running a total of 10 minutes.

Finally, the Blu-ray offers six deleted scenes running nine minutes total with optional commentary by the filmmakers.

Gifts of Romance From Lionsgate

Lionsgate has six romantic double feature DVDs of favorite Lifetime Christmas movies ready to fill stockings this holiday season:

Christmas à la Mode/You Light Up My Christmas

In Christmas à la Mode, when a handsome stranger, Charlie, visits the family dairy run by Emily during Christmas time, Emily has to hide her attraction to him when it turns out he works with her ruthless sister who plans to sell the farm. Emily dreams up an ingenious plan to buy her sister out — an online ice-cream flavor contest that goes viral — but it’s up to Charlie to supply the key ingredient — and a recipe for romance.

You Light Up My Christmas follows Emma (Kim Fields), who returns to her hometown built around her family’s pioneer Christmas light factory to find the lights dim in the once festive town. Emma reconnects with her old flame and they set out to fulfill her father’s dream of creating the brightest light, as both the town and their hearts are set ablaze by the joys of Christmas. Lisa Whelchel, Mindy Cohn and Nancy McKeon — who costarred with Fields in the iconic TV series “The Facts of Life” — reunite as new characters in this charming holiday film inspired by true events.

A Very Vintage Christmas/Random Acts of Christmas

In A Very Vintage Christmas, when hopeless romantic Dodie (Tia Mowry-Hardrict), owner of a vintage store in the quaint town of Mountain View, finds a box with old keepsakes chronicling a timeless romantic union, she decides she must deliver it to its rightful owner. She persuades Ed (Jesse Hutch), a local contractor at the box’s listed address, to help in her quest, and in the end, they not only find the couple, they also rediscover the joys of Christmas — and true, ever-lasting love.

In Random Acts of Christmas, when anonymous random acts of Christmas kindness begin to pop up all over Chicago, investigative journalist Sydney joins forces with competing reporter Cole to land the big story of the festive season, and reveal the identity of this “Secret Santa.” As the city — and Sydney — are caught up in the spirit of the season, Sydney starts to fall for Cole. But he may not be the man he claims to be, and Sydney must choose between her cynical mind and her newly opened heart.

Christmas Hotel/A Storybook Christmas

In Christmas Hotel, when Erin’s company asks her to open a hotel in her hometown of Garland Grove, a small mountain town in love with all things Christmas, she decides to create a year-round “Christmas Hotel.” But first, she’ll have to use all of her charms — and some holiday magic — to win over Connor, her childhood crush and the man spearheading the movement against her new hotel.

In the romance A Storybook Christmas, if event planner Celeste Everett is going to save her business and treat her niece to a merry Christmas, she’ll need help, so she hires a nanny. But when the nanny turns out to be Taylor, a man who challenges her beliefs and ignites her passion, Celeste comes to a surprising realization: The holidays may be bringing her the gift of love.

A Date by Christmas Eve/Grounded for Christmas

A Date by Christmas Eve follows kind-hearted brand strategist Chelsea Simms, who discovers the latest dating app for her firm, The Good List, has given her the magical ability to teach all the “naughty” people in her life how to be good with a swipe of their name. When Chelsea falls for her next-door neighbor, Fisher, she lets the app get the best of her and puts him on the naughty list by mistake. Can she right her wrongs, get Fisher’s forgiveness, and find her way back onto the “nice” list in time for Christmas?

In Grounded for Christmas, Cleveland airline pilot Nina Rooney has plans for an exotic getaway over the holidays, but a snowstorm grounds all flights. When arrogant, womanizing pilot Brady Sloane has nowhere to go, Nina invites him to her nearby family home on the condition that he lie about being her boyfriend so she can survive the night without getting grilled for being single. But the storm continues, and they must maintain the ruse. As Christmas draws near, will the ice between these opposites begin to melt?

Always and Forever Christmas/Staging Christmas

Always and Forever Christmas follows Lucy Bowers, who arrives in Stowe, Vt., to help finalize the sale of Forever Christmas — the year-round Christmas store she inherited from her grandfather — and instead finds romance with handsome café owner, Scott. After learning the vital role the store plays in spreading holiday cheer to the community, can she really go through with shutting it down, or is Lucy willing to leave the life she knows behind to recapture the true magic of Christmas?

In Staging Christmas, it’s the holiday season, and for Lori, who stages homes for a living, it brings a special new client: Everett, a wealthy widower who asks Lori to design the perfect Christmas at his estate to surprise his daughter, Maddie. As Lori decks the halls of Everett’s home and spends more time with him, she realizes she’s created more than the ideal holiday — she’s set the stage for love.

Every Day Is Christmas/Jingle Belle

Every Day Is Christmas follows shrewd money manager Alexis Taylor (Toni Braxton), who gets the holiday visit of a lifetime in this movie inspired by the Charles Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol.” A self-proclaimed workaholic who “hum-bugs” love, Alexis ends up embracing the spirit of Christmas when her past, present, and future collide, forcing her to risk the one thing money can’t buy: her heart.

In Jingle Belle, every year, Isabelle (Tatyana Ali) and her high school sweetheart, Mike (Cornelius Smith Jr.), rocked their small town’s annual Christmas Eve Pageant with a sweet Christmas duet. But after graduation, Isabelle left to study at Juilliard in New York — leaving Mike behind. Years later, Isabelle returns to her hometown to write music for the annual Christmas Eve Pageant, which Mike is directing. Can Isabelle and Mike put the past behind them and reunite on stage for another show-stopping duet?

Vizio Unveils Holiday Hub

Vizio has unveiled “Unwrap the Magic of SmartCast,” its holiday hub featuring a collection of special programming for the holiday season.

With more than 200 hours of holiday-themed movies, TV episodes, music and more from app partners, the hub features free and premium holiday streaming options, including 12 days of special offers and discounts on video-on-demand movies throughout December.

Vizio has teamed up with ROW8 and Redbox to present 12 days of SmartCast movie deals with specially priced, video-on-demand holiday titles such as Elf, A Christmas Story, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and Arthur Christmas, as well as new releases such as Fatman, The Stand-in and Greenland.

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“We are pleased to offer Vizio SmartCast consumers the ultimate holiday destination with hundreds of hours of holiday movies and programming to celebrate the season,” Katherine Pond, VP of business development for Vizio, said in a statement. “With our abundant holiday content offering free channels, premium apps, and discounted holiday titles, together with our seasonal discounts on our award-winning TVs and sound bars, Vizio continues to deliver a best-in-class entertainment experience for people of all ages.”

The holiday hub can be found on the SmartCast home screen and includes a combination of premium content and free channel options. SmartCast provides audiences with home screen access to subscription apps such as Netflix, Disney+, Apple TV, Hulu, Prime Video and Peacock as well as streaming across 130-plus free channels. SmartCast supports streaming from devices with Apple AirPlay and Chromecast Built-in, and smart home connectivity with Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant and Alexa-enabled devices.

‘Knives Out,’ ‘Home Alone,’ ‘Die Hard’ Top Fandango Holiday Film Survey

Knives Out was voted the top movie to watch for Thanksgiving, Home Alone was voted the favorite family-friendly holiday film, and Die Hard was named the top unconventional holiday film by fans on Fandango’s transactional video on-demand services, Vudu and FandangoNow.

Fandango surveyed more than 1,000 film fans in the first weeks of November.

As might be expected, 92% of those surveyed expect to watch more movies at home during the holiday season than in previous years. Also, 71% said they are planning to binge watch during the holiday season, and 62% said they plan to watch their favorite holiday classics more than once.

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“Watching a favorite classic movie is part of a beloved holiday tradition for many families,” Fandango managing editor Erik Davis said in a statement. “This year there’s an extra nostalgia factor because many of us cannot gather together in front of the same screen. The top picks center on the power of families, warts and all, and serve as the kind of cinematic comfort food we look forward to enjoying during the holiday season.”

Top Movies to Watch for Thanksgiving:

  1. Knives Out
  2. Addams Family Values
  3. Planes, Trains and Automobiles
  4. The Fantastic Mr. Fox
  5. Home for the Holidays
  6. Grumpy Old Men
  7. Free Birds
  8. Scent of a Woman
  9. Pieces of April
  10. The Oath

 

Favorite Family-Friendly Holiday Movies

  1. Home Alone
  2. Elf
  3. The Santa Clause
  4. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
  5. Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
  6. The Nightmare Before Christmas
  7. The Polar Express
  8. A Christmas Story
  9. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
  10. It’s a Wonderful Life

 

Favorite Unconventional Holiday Movies:

  1. Die Hard
  2. Edward Scissorhands
  3. Gremlins
  4. Bad Moms Christmas
  5. Bad Santa
  6. Krampus
  7. Office Christmas Party
  8. The Night Before
  9. Trading Places
  10. Anna and the Apocalypse

 

Favorite Performances as Santa Claus:

  1. Tim Allen, The Santa Clause
  2. Edward Asner, Elf
  3. Billy Bob Thornton, Bad Santa
  4. Tom Hanks, The Polar Express
  5. James Cosmo, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe
  6. Richard Attenborough, Miracle on 34thStreet (1994)
  7. Paul Giamatti, Fred Claus
  8. Edmund Gwenn, Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
  9. Rickey Smiley, The Friday After Next
  10. Alec Baldwin, Rise of the Guardians

 

Favorite Holiday Movie Villains:

  1. Harry & Marv (Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern), Home Alone
  2. Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman), Die Hard
  3. Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore), It’s a Wonderful Life
  4. The Grinch (Jim Carrey), Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas
  5. Oogie Boogie (Ken Ross), The Nightmare Before Christmas
  6. Frank Cross (Bill Murray), Scrooged
  7. Scrooge (Jim Carey), Disney’s A Christmas Carol
  8. Fulton Greenway (Michael Lerner), Elf
  9. Ted Maltin (Phil Hartman), Jingle All the Way
  10. Scut Farkas (Zack Ward), A Christmas Story

 

The winners can also be found in the holiday sections on Vudu and FandangoNow.

Apple TV Plus’ ‘Mariah Carey’s Magical Christmas Special’ Gets Dec. 4 Launch Date

Apple TV+ Nov. 18 announced that the upcoming Mariah Carey’s Magical Christmas Special will debut Dec. 4 on the SVOD platform. The exclusive will launch with a companion soundtrack and new single, “Oh Santa!”

Guest superstars appearing on the special include Tiffany Haddish, Billy Eichner, Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson, Snoop Dogg, Jermaine Dupri, Misty Copeland and Mykal-Michelle Harris. Extra special appearances are also made by Carey’s twins, Moroccan and Monroe.

Mariah Carey’s Magical Christmas Special is executive produced by Carey, as well as Ian Stewart, Raj Kapoor and Ashley Edens for Done + Dusted. BAFTA Award winner Hamish Hamilton and Oscar nominee and Golden Globe winner Roman Coppola direct, and also serve as executive producers, and the special is written by Caroline Fox.

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The soundtrack single and new music video for “Oh Santa!,” co-written by and featuring Carey performing with Ariana Grande and Jennifer Hudson, will be will be distributed by Sony Music and released on Apple Music and other streaming platforms Dec. 4. The companion soundtrack to the special is full of brand new interpretations, and will also include Snoop Dogg and Jermaine Dupri as additional musical guests, in addition to a new version of “Sleigh Ride.” The soundtrack will be available Dec. 4 exclusively on Apple Music, and all other platforms on Dec. 11.

Apple Music will release the Apple TV+ special in an exclusive interview with flagship anchor Zane Lowe on Dec. 7, where Carey runs through her personally curated playlist of favorite holiday songs, and talks about her new music and recent memoir The Meaning of Mariah Carey. Then on Dec. 25, Carey will also appear on Apple Music Hits, Apple Music’s new radio station, for a six-hour Holiday Hits special, featuring the biggest festive songs, including “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” and telling fans about her own holiday memories, with additional artists and hosts sharing their own Christmas messages.

The holiday event will premiere globally on Apple TV+, which claims to have set records as the only new streaming service to launch globally in over 100 countries, and to have been honored with 122 awards nominations and 39 wins and accolades in its first year.

 

Apple TV+ to Be Home for ‘Peanuts’

Apple TV+ will stream “Peanuts” original series and specials, along with the classic specials.

New animated “Peanuts” originals coming to Apple TV+ include a second season of the Daytime Emmy-nominated “Snoopy in Space,” and new specials that will find the “Peanuts” gang marking Mother’s Day, Earth Day, New Year’s Eve and going back to school — all to be produced by WildBrain’s animation studio. The new series and specials join the previously announced The Snoopy Show, a new “Peanuts” 70th anniversary documentary film from Imagine Documentaries and WildBrain, and Peanuts in Space: Secrets of Apollo 10.

The original programs and new specials will also soon stream globally alongside iconic “Peanuts” specials, including A Charlie Brown Christmas, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. The Halloween special will begin streaming globally on Apple TV+ Oct. 19, and will be available for free from Oct. 30 until Nov. 1 on Apple TV+. Apple TV+ will launch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving on Nov. 18, and the special will be available for free from Nov. 25 until Nov. 27. A Charlie Brown Christmas will stream exclusively on Apple TV+ on Dec. 4.

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Apple TV+ is available on the Apple TV app on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod touch, Mac, select Samsung and LG smart TVs, Amazon Fire TV and Roku devices, as well as at tv.apple.com, at $4.99 per month with a seven-day free trial. The Apple TV app will be available on Sony and Vizio smart TVs later this year. For a limited time, customers who purchase a new iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac or iPod touch can enjoy one year of Apple TV+ for free. This special offer is good for three months after the first activation of the eligible device. For more information, please visit apple.com/tvpr.

‘Mariah Carey’s Magical Christmas Special’ to Bow on Apple TV+ for Holidays

Mariah Carey’s Magical Christmas Special, an exclusive holiday program from multi-platinum, multi-Grammy award-winning artist Mariah Carey, will debut globally on Apple TV+ this holiday season.

The special — combining music, dancing and animation driven by a “heartwarming” story, according to Apple — is set to premiere on the heels of the 25th anniversary of Carey’s No. 1 holiday anthem “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” and will feature Carey and a lineup of guest stars.

Apple TV+ is available on the Apple TV app on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod touch, Mac, select Samsung and LG smart TVs, Amazon Fire TV and Roku devices, as well as at tv.apple.com, for $4.99 per month with a seven-day free trial. The Apple TV app will be available on Sony and Vizio smart TVs later this year. For a limited time, customers who purchase a new iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac or iPod touch can get one year of Apple TV+ free. The offer is good for three months after the first activation of the eligible device. For more information, visit apple.com/tvpr.

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Holiday Film ‘Buttons: A Christmas Tale’ Due on Digital Nov. 19, DVD Dec. 3 From Paramount

The holiday film Buttons: A Christmas Tale will arrive on digital Nov. 19 and DVD Dec. 3 from Paramount Home Entertainment.

The cast includes Jane Seymour, Roma Downey and Abigail Spencer, along with screen legends Dick Van Dyke and Angela Lansbury.  The film is narrated by Kate Winslet and Robert Redford.

From creator/director/writer/composer Tim Janis, who has sold millions of albums and worked with a wide array of artists, Buttons: A Christmas Tale follows the heartwarming journey of two orphan girls whose only wish is to find a home for Christmas. With a little help from their guardian angels (Van Dyke and Lansbury), they discover that miracles really can happen when you find the power to believe.

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The DVD includes bonus songs, a music video and a photo gallery.

‘Santa With Muscles,’ ‘Angela’s Christmas’ Among Titles Coming From Mill Creek for the Holidays

Mill Creek Entertainment will release a collection of holiday movies on disc and digital in November and December.

Making its Blu-ray debut Nov. 5, Santa With Muscles stars wrestler Hulk Hogan as an evil millionaire who gets amnesia during the holiday season and becomes convinced that he is Santa Claus. He uses his new identity to fight crime and bring good cheer to all good boys and girls.

Based on the children’s book Angela and the Baby Jesus by Frank McCourt (Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Angela’s Ashes), comes Angela’s Christmas, a poignant story from the Oscar-nominated studio Brown Bag Films about the power of family and the innocent desire of a child to ensure everyone is safe, warm and loved at Christmas.  The Emmy-nominated title will come out on DVD Nov. 19.

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Also coming on DVD Nov. 19 is Down Home Christmas — 5 Movie Collection, which features Christmas-themed movies featuring top TV stars, and Elfette Saves Christmas, in which an elf named Elfette (Brielle Carter) finds her vacation in Florida cut short when there’s suddenly a Christmas emergency — Santa Claus (Quinton Aaron) has been kidnapped by the New York Mafia’s crime boss.

Finally, due Dec. 10 on DVD is Christmas on the Range. In the film, Kendall Riley (Erin Cahill) is finally about to succeed in turning her family ranch into a farm producing organic beef. But she is opposed every step of the way by her neighboring rancher Brick McCree. When Brick’s estranged son Clint returns for the holidays, he and Kendall hit it off, which only enrages Brick more.

Each of these titles also features a digital redemption on www.movieSPREE.com.