Netflix Launching Third Season of ‘The Crown’ Nov. 17

Netflix Aug. 12 announced it would begin streaming the third season of critically-acclaimed original series, “The Crown,” on Nov. 17 — five days after the launch of Disney’s branded subscription streaming service.

The newest edition of the Royal drama, which features Oscar winner Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth II (replacing Claire Foy) and Tobias Menzies (“Outlander”) replacing Matt Smith as Prince Philip, is set in the 1960s.

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The series, which won Golden Globe, Primetime Emmy and Screen Actors Guild awards, resumes as England wins the 1966 World Cup soccer competition, the arrival of The Beatles and cultural revolution of the late ’60s and early ’70s.

The series also stars Helen Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret and Ben Daniels as Lord Snowden.

Fox’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Champion of Redbox Charts

The Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody rocked the Redbox charts the week ended Feb. 17.

The 20th Century Fox film debuted at No. 1 on both the Redbox kiosk chart, which tracks DVD and Blu-ray Disc rentals at the company’s more than 40,000 red vending machines, and the Redbox On Demand chart, which tracks transactional video-on-demand (TVOD), both electronic sellthrough (EST) and streaming.

The critically acclaimed story of the lead singer of the rock band Queen received five Oscar nominations, including Best Actor for Rami Malek in the role of Mercury, and earned more than $212.2 million in theaters.

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The Grinch, the latest take on the classic children’s Christmas story from Universal Pictures, fell to No. 2 on the disc chart its second week in physical release. It landed at No. 4 (falling from No. 1) on the digital chart.

The only other new release on the disc chart for the week, Paramount’s Tyler Perry comedy Nobody’s Fool, debuted at No. 3. It came in at No. 2 on Redbox’s digital chart. The film, starring Tiffany Haddish, Tika Sumpter and Whoopi Goldberg, earned $31.7 million in theaters.

Fox’s heist-thriller Widows, starring Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki and Cynthia Erivo, slipped to No. 4 on the disc chart and to No. 3 on the Redbox On Demand chart. The film, which took in $42.4 million at the box office, gathered plaudits for Davis and Debicki, but it was snubbed in the Oscar race.

Sony Pictures’ action-thriller The Girl in the Spider’s Web, starring Claire Foy, took the fifth spot on both Redbox’s disc and digital charts after landing at No. 3 on both charts the week before. A sequel to the The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the film earned $14.8 million theatrically.

Meanwhile, more than a year after its digital release, Universal’s Happy Death Day made an appearance on the Redbox On Demand chart at No. 8 as its sequel, Happy Death Day 2U, came out in theaters Feb. 13.

Also popping back up on the digital chart at No. 10 about a month after its release was Warner’s A Star Is Born, which has received eight Oscar noms. The 91st Academy Awards takes place Feb. 24.

Top DVD and Blu-ray Disc Rentals, Redbox Kiosks, Week Ended Feb. 17:

  1. Bohemian Rhapsody (New)
  2. The Grinch
  3. Nobody’s Fool (2018) (New)
  4. Widows
  5. The Girl in the Spider’s Web
  6. Hunter Killer
  7. First Man
  8. Night School
  9. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
  10. Venom (2018)

 

Top Digital, Redbox On Demand, Week Ended Feb. 17

  1. Bohemian Rhapsody
  2. Nobody’s Fool
  3. Widows
  4. The Grinch
  5. The Girl in the Spider’s Web
  6. Hunter Killer
  7. Crazy Rich Asians
  8. Happy Death Day
  9. The Sisters Brothers
  10. A Star Is Born (2018)

First Man

(Review) Director Damien Chazelle’s visually impressive biopic about the first man to walk on the surface of the moon challenges viewers’ expectations about what a film about the space program is supposed to be by focusing on the man instead of the mission, presenting an intimate and not always flattering portrait of an American hero that most Americans actually know very little about.

 

 

 

 

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 1/22/19;
Universal;
Drama;
Box Office $44.94 million;
$29.99 DVD, $34.99 Blu-ray, $39.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for some thematic content involving peril, and brief strong language.
Stars Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Corey Stoll, Christopher Abbot, Ciarán Hinds, Lucas Haas, Shea Whigham, Patrick Fugit.

Space program enthusiasts thinking this biopic about Neil Armstrong would be as awe-inspiring treatment as The Right Stuff and Apollo 13 might want to temper their expectations.

Director Damien Chazelle’s First Man is not altogether about the Apollo 11 moon landing. Strictly speaking, it’s not even about the space program. As the title would imply, it’s a film about Neil Armstrong the man, what drove him to join NASA, and what motivated his efforts to become the first man to walk on the moon. Depictions of spaceflight achievements take a backseat to the character study of the most famous of astronauts that, ironically, most of the public really knew nothing about.

Chazelle’s re-creations of various missions are dazzling visually, but his aim is not to celebrate the achievements of the space program the way other portrayals have. That disconnect between filmmaker objective and audience expectation may be the primary reason the film underperformed at the box office despite massive critical buzz (though, really, how much of the acclaim was simply drafting from the aura of Chazelle’s Best Director Oscar for La La Land is anybody’s guess).

First Man is moody. It’s gritty. It’s lyrical and often plays like a dream, a tone set by a haunting musical score from Justin Hurwitz that often shifts between elegant and droning. And sometimes it’s just depressing. The first two-thirds of the film feels like a 1970s independent film rather than what one might expect from a big-budget outer space blockbuster.

First Man

Ryan Gosling plays Armstrong as a sullen family man who takes on risk as a means of distracting himself from the grief over the death of his young daughter in the early 1960s. This is a portrait of a man constantly confronted with death, with several of his astronaut friends killed training for missions. Yet Armstrong presses on, despite questions about whether going to the moon is even worth it. As an engineer and pilot, Armstrong is absorbed by the challenges of spaceflight to the seeming detriment of his personal life and relationship with his wife (Claire Foy) and two sons. He even conducts a discussion with his children over his chances of surviving the moon mission with the cold stoicism of a press conference.

The depicted missions are presented mostly from the point-of-view of Armstrong, with the final part of the film taken up with Apollo 11. Most of the major events were covered much more comprehensively in HBO’s From the Earth to the Moon, and anyone familiar with that miniseries will be struck by just how much is missing from the depictions here.

That’s not necessarily to the movie’s detriment, since it needs to portray the missions just enough to show how they fit into Armstrong’s story, not America’s. The result of this narrative direction, however, seems to be a choice to portray the missions in a matter-of-fact way, more akin to 2001: A Space Odyssey or Interstellar, as opposed to an inspirational achievement the way most audiences would be used to.

The film is less interested in technical details and glosses over several of them, such as an alarm that went off several times during the lunar landing that indicated the navigational computer was being overwhelmed with data (which doesn’t get explained until the bonus materials, for anyone who isn’t otherwise aware of what happened). The film flubs a few details, too, but only the hardcore enthusiasts are likely to notice.

Once viewers can get past such challenges, it’s easy enough to appreciate the film for its technical and artistic merits, which may take several viewings to fully take in.

Notably, First Man was the first big-screen dramatization of an actual Gemini mission, with the depiction of Armstrong and Dave Scott performing the first orbital docking during Gemini VIII. The mission was cut short when a stuck thruster sent the capsule spinning out of control before Armstrong could stabilize the craft. But here’s a prime example of how the decision to stick with Armstrong’s perspective could hamper the audience’s understanding of what was really going on, aside from a colossal malfunction taking place.

Personally, the knowledge I already had of the incident helped me follow what the scene was trying to portray, so I’d recommend checking out the first episode of From the Earth to the Moon for a more omnipresent look at what happened (aside from actual research on it, of course).

Likewise, with the way the film rushes through the lunar landing sequence, the way it’s handled in From the Earth to the Moon’s sixth episode will probably be more to a lot of viewers’ tastes. (HBO would be wise to re-release the From the Earth to the Moon DVD boxed set, assuming they aren’t willing to remaster the visual effects for high-definition to finally release it on Blu-ray).

First Man

Judging by an otherwise excellent audio commentary track of Chazelle, screenwriter Josh Singer and editor Tom Cross, the filmmakers weren’t really interested in how their movie would be compared to previous examples of the genre, other than stylistically. That’s kind of a shame, as the decision to present the Gemini VIII launch from the viewpoint of within the capsule the whole time works well to simulate Armstrong’s experience for viewers, but robs us of what could have been a glorious external view of the rocket launching that hasn’t really been dramatized yet.

Instead, Chazelle saves the inspirational launch for the liftoff of Apollo 11, and while a fully fueled Saturn V rocket is a sight to behold, and First Man manages to craft a solid launch with some good shots of the spacecraft, the filmmakers were going to be hard-pressed to top what we’ve already seen from the Apollo 13 depiction of a Saturn launch, which is the standard-bearer for such sequences.

In addition, the remarkable shot from the trailers of a Saturn launch that’s reflected in a window as Armstrong watches was cut out of the movie. It’s available as one of the two deleted scenes on the Blu-ray, while the film’s trailers haven’t been included with the disc.

The other deleted scene is a sequence of the Armstrong house burning down, which really happened in 1964.

The Blu-ray also includes about 34 minutes of behind-the-scenes featurettes, which in conjunction with the commentary provide a lot of insights into the process of adapting the film from James R. Hansen’s book First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong.

What’s particularly fascinating is the level of practical visual effects employed with models and in-camera opticals rather than an abundance of CGI. In fact, it’s almost as if the filmmakers used technological advancements to improve upon old-school methods, filming models and cockpits in front of a giant LED screen that displays images at a resolution high enough to look like the real deal in the final product (with some digital enhancements).

This results in several visually stunning sequences that look great on the high-definition presentation of the disc. Scenes on Earth were shot with different grain levels to give the film a retro feel that serves its tone well. Of course, Chazelle is saving most of the razzle-dazzle for the final lunar sequence, which was shot with Imax cameras and appropriately shifts aspect ratios to capture the grandeur of it on home video.

To re-create the moon, filmmakers built a giant lunar set at a quarry, filmed at night with an actual full-sized lunar lander mock-up and a giant light in the distance to stimulate the sun (as opposed to the greenscreen and CGI approach most films would likely take today). The results pay off in a visually impressive lunar sequence that provides a real stylistic contrast with how such scenes have been handled before.

First Man

Sony Slates ‘Girl in the Spider’s Web’ Home Release Dates

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will release The Girl in the Spider’s Web through digital retailers Jan. 22, and on Blu-ray and DVD Feb. 5.

Claire Foy plays Lisbeth Salander in director Fede Álvarez’s adaptation of the fourth book in the “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” franchise.  The 2015 novel was written by David Lagercrantz as a continuation of the “Millennium” trilogy by Stieg Larsson, who died in 2004.

In The Girl in the Spider’s Web, vigilante hacker Lisbeth Salander and journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Sverrir Gudnason) fight cybercriminals, spies and and corrupt government officials to retrieve a program capable of accessing the world’s nuclear codes. The cast also includes Lakeith Stanfield, Sylvia Hoeks and Stephen Merchant.

Home video extras include a feature-length audio commentary with Álvarez and screenwriter Jay Basu; eight deleted scenes with optional commentary by Álvarez and Basu; and four behind-the-scenes featurettes: “Claire Foy: Becoming Lisbeth,” “All About the Stunts,” “Secrets of the Salander Sisters” and “Creating the World: The Making Of.”

 

‘First Man’ Lands on Home Video in January

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment will release First Man through digital retailers Jan. 8, and on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Jan. 22.

The drama from director Damien Chazelle focuses on the life of astronaut Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) in the decade leading up to the Apollo 11 mission and his iconic status as the first man to walk on the Moon. The cast includes Claire Foy, Kyle Chandler, Jason Clarke, Corey Stoll, Pablo Schreiber, Christopher Abbot  and Ciarán Hinds.

First Man earned $44.8 million at the domestic box office and has been nominated for two Golden Globes: Best Supporting Actress for Foy as Armstrong’s wife, and Best Original Score by Justin Hurwitz.

Disc and digital extras include deleted scenes; commentary with Chazelle, screenwriter Josh Singer and editor Tom Cross; and several behind-the-scenes featurettes:

  • “Shooting for the Moon,” a look at the production and the collaborative relationship between Chazelle and Gosling;
  • “Preparing to Launch,” about making the first major feature film to focus on Apollo 11;
  • “Giant Leap in One Small Step,” focusing on the hard working individuals that got us to the moon and back;
  • “Mission Gone Wrong,” in which Ryan Gosling reenacts a test piloting sequence gone terribly wrong;
  • “Putting You In the Seat,” a look at the technology used to put audiences in the middle of the action;
  • “Recreating the Moon Landing,” about using Imax cameras to create the legendary moment;
  • “Shooting at NASA,” in which Gosling and Chazelle discuss bringing authenticity to the film;
  • “Astronaut Training,” showcasing a three-day boot camp for the actors before filming.

 

The 4K Ultra HD disc will include the same bonus features as the Blu-ray version, all in 4K resolution.

Amazon’s ‘Mrs. Maisel,’ HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’ Lead Way at 70th Emmys

For the second year in a row, a show from a streaming service won the Emmy for best series in its category.

While last year Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” won Outstanding Drama Series, this year it was Amazon Video taking the top prize in the Outstanding Comedy Series category with the first season of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

“Maisel” ended up with eight Emmys, including Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for Rachel Brosnahan as the title character, and Outstanding Supporting Actress for Alex Borstein (who won another Emmy this year for her voiceover work on Fox’s “Family Guy”).

The 70th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards were announced Sept. 17 at a televised ceremony in Los Angeles and at the Creative Arts ceremony a week earlier.

Netflix and HBO ended up tied as the top networks with 23 wins apiece.

Outstanding Drama Series again went to HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” this time for its seventh season, which is readily available for digital download or on Blu-ray and DVD.

“Game of Thrones” previously won the Best Drama Series Emmy in 2015 and 2016 for its fifth and sixth seasons, respectively, but a quirk in its production meant the show didn’t air during the 2017 eligibility period, opening the door for “Handmaid’s Tale” to win last year.

“Thrones” won nine Emmys this year, including Peter Dinklage winning his third trophy for Outstanding Supporting Actor for the role of Tyrion Lannister (previously won in 2011 and 2015).

FX’s The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story won seven Emmys, including Outstanding Limited Series. The nine-episode miniseries is available for digital download.

Among some other notable categories, HBO’s “Barry” (on DVD Oct. 2) won Outstanding Actor and Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for Bill Hader and Henry Winkler, respectively. Matthew Rhys won Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for the sixth and final season of FX’s “The Americans,” coming to DVD Oct. 23 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. Claire Foy won Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for playing Queen Elizabeth II in the second season of Netflix’s “The Crown.” And Thandie Newton won Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for season two of HBO’s “Westworld,” which will be available on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Dec. 4 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

For a complete list of 2018 winners, visit Emmys.com.

Netflix Releases First Screen Shot of Olivia Colman as the Queen in ‘The Crown’

Netflix July 16 released on Twitter a screen shot of British actress Olivia Colman playing Queen Elizabeth II on upcoming seasons three and four of its immensely popular original series, “The Crown.”

The 44-year-old Colman, who is seen holding a cup of tea, has won three BAFTA Awards, three BIFA Awards, a Golden Globe Award (“The Night Manager”) and has two Emmy nominations in her career.

Season three is currently in production and slated for release in 2019, covering the time period from the early 1960s to 1970s.

The second season, which just received 13 Emmy nominations, starred Emmy nominees Claire Foy (who already won Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards) as Her Majesty, Matt Smith as Prince Philip, and Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret. Kirby, who co-stars with Tom Cruise in upcoming Mission: Impossible – Fallout, won a BAFTA TV Award for her role in season two.

Newcomers Helena Bonham Carter and Ben Daniels play Margaret and her husband, respectively, in season three, among other cast changes implemented to better reflect the aging of the show’s principal characters.

Netflix releases second quarter financials today after the market’s close.

Netflix Snubs the Queen

Anyone familiar with Netflix award-winning original series, “The Crown,” knows Queen Elizabeth II puts loyalty to the monarchy above all else.

It’s status-quo the Queen isn’t to be denied. Ever.

So, it was humorous to read about Claire Foy, who won the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award for “outstanding performance by a female actor in a drama series” portraying Her Royal Highness, joke about the cast having to pay for Netflix.

“We got it [free] for six months and then it was cut off,” said Foy, as reported by In Touch Weekly.

A Netflix rep wasn’t immediately available about whether the Queen’s comp subscription would be renewed.