Lionsgate Releasing MMA Actioner ‘Born a Champion’ in January

Lionsgate will release the inspirational mixed martial arts action film Born a Champion through digital retailers, in select theaters and on demand Jan. 22, and on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Jan. 26.

Sean Patrick Flanery (The Boondock Saints) stars as a former Marine who loses a blood-soaked jujitsu match in Dubai to superstar Blaine. But years later, an online video proves that Blaine cheated, and the world demands a rematch, motivating the aging underdog to get back into shape to claim revenge.

The cast also includes Dennis Quaid and Katrina Bowden (“30 Rock”).

Blu-ray and DVD extras include a director’s commentary and two scenes with alternate music scores.

Honoring History With ‘Midway’

Director-producer Roland Emmerich is known for epic science-fiction battles between humans, aliens and monsters, but it was the film of an actual battle in World War II that he waited two decades to make.

While collaborating with Emmerich on another project, screenwriter Wes Tooke asked the director, “What’s the one that got away?”

Emmerich told him it was the story of the battle of Midway, the 1942 clash between the American fleet and the Imperial Japanese Navy that marked a pivotal turning point in the Pacific Theater. He’d tried to make it while at Sony 20 years earlier, but the budget and subject weren’t right for the studio. Thus, with Tooke as screenwriter, Emmerich got together a production team to film Midway, based on the real-life events of this heroic feat, telling the story of the leaders and sailors in the battle.

Midway is available on digital, DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray from Lionsgate.

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“I wanted to make this movie for 20 years, and I’m glad I finally made it,” said Emmerich in the disc commentary.

“Roland insisted that we make every effort to make all aspects of the film as accurate as possible,” Tooke said. “Everything that happens onscreen, in terms of historical events, is factual and in chronological order. It begins in December 1941 with Pearl Harbor and ends in June with the Battle of Midway. It is the most dramatic six months in the history of warfare.”

The cast includes Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson, Luke Evans, Aaron Eckhart, Nick Jonas, Darren Criss, Mandy Moore, Dennis Quaid and Woody Harrelson.

Quaid plays Admiral William “Bull” Halsey.

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“Midway is an amazing story, and it has never been told right,” he noted in the extras.

Harrelson is legendary Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, who is given the position of Commander in Chief, Pacific Ocean Areas, famously termed “the most difficult job in the world,” after the attack at Pearl Harbor.

“Everybody was very conscientious about trying to make it real, and I think they got it right,” said Harrelson in the extras.

One hard-to-believe fact about the Midway battle is the harrowing way the dive-bombers attacked the Japanese ships. It was one of the aspects of the battle that got Emmerich interested in telling the story. In the film, viewers travel along with the pilots as they plummet precipitously toward the target, drop the bomb and pull up at the last minute.

“I wanted to show how incredibly dangerous these dives were,” Emmerich said in the extras. “What these people did — they were pretty much missiles, what we do today with missiles. They were manned missiles, these planes. The later you deployed a bomb, the more chance you had to hit a target.”

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The authenticity didn’t stop there. Filmmakers were scrupulous in recreating the era and the weapons of World War II, building replicas of both the torpedo- and bomb-dropping planes, as well as other equipment right down to the screws, nuts and bolts that aren’t used anymore. They were also able to shoot at historic locations.

“When you’re looking at a building that has bullet holes on the side of it from the attack in 1941, you know, ‘OK, we’re going to tell this story as truthfully as we can,”’ said Wilson, in the extras.

Nick Jonas plays radioman Bruno Gaido in ‘Midway.’

Wilson plays Edwin Layton, a U.S. Navy intelligence officer, just one of the actual participants in the battle who are memorialized in the film. Nick Jonas, who was offered many parts, chose to play radioman Bruno Gaido, known for heroically shooting down a Japanese plane before it hit his carrier. He was later lost in the battle. “I wanted to do justice to Bruno because he was a real American hero,” he said. Skrein is Dick Best, the unsung hero pilot of Midway who destroys Japanese ships, but never flies again due to injury.

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Emmerich was also careful to acknowledge the bravery of the Japanese, casting several renowned Japanese actors.

“When you make a war movie and you show one side as the bad guys and the other side as the good guys, I think you don’t do war justice because I think you have to understand what was the Japanese side,” he said in the extras. “It enlightens people. It shows that they are also human. They’re also brave.”

The director hopes the film is able to stand as a testament to the Greatest Generation.

“I’m thrilled that we had the opportunity to tell this story because young people today don’t always know the stories about those who fought for their freedom,” Emmerich said. “I think that without the generation who fought in WWII, our world would be very different.”

4K ULTRA HD / BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES

  • Audio Commentary by Roland Emmerich
  • “Getting It Right: The Making of Midway” Featurette
  • “The Men of Midway” Featurette
  • “Roland Emmerich: Man on a Mission” Featurette
  • “Turning Point: The Legacy of Midway” Featurette
  • “Joe Rochefort: Breaking the Japanese Code” Featurette
  • “We Met at Midway: Two Survivors Remember” Featurette
  • Theatrical Trailer

 

DIGITAL SPECIAL FEATURES

  • Audio Commentary by Roland Emmerich
  • “Getting It Right: The Making of Midway” Featurette
  • “The Men of Midway” Featurette
  • Theatrical Trailer

War Film ‘Midway’ Flies Home in February

Lionsgate will release director Roland Emmerich’s Midway through digital retailers Feb. 4, and on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Feb. 18.

The film details the 1942 Battle of Midway during World War II, a clash between the American fleet and the Imperial Japanese Navy which marked a pivotal turning point in the Pacific Theater.

The cast includes Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson, Luke Evans, Aaron Eckhart, Nick Jonas, Darren Criss, Mandy Moore, Dennis Quaid and Woody Harrelson.

The film earned $56.5 million at the domestic box office.

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The disc and digital editions of the film will include an audio commentary by Emmerich, the film’s trailer, and the featurettes “Getting It Right: The Making of Midway” and “The Men of Midway.”

The Blu-ray versions will also include the featurettes “Roland Emmerich: Man on a Mission,” “Turning Point: The Legacy of Midway,” “Joe Rochefort: Breaking the Japanese Code” and “We Met at Midway: Two Survivors Remember.”

The 4K Ultra HD disc will include Dolby Vision and a Dolby Atmos soundtrack.

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‘Intruder’ Invades Homes in July

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will release The Intruder digitally July 16, and on Blu-ray and DVD July 30.

The thriller focuses on a young married couple (Michael Ealy and Meagan Good) who buy their dream house but find themselves dealing with the home’s seller (Dennis Quaid) whose attempts to infiltrate their lives grows more intense.

The film earned $35.2 million at the domestic box office.

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Bonus materials include the featurette “Making a Modern Thriller,” deleted scenes and an alternate ending, a gag reel, and feature commentary with Good, Ealy, director Deon Taylor, writer David Loughery and producer Roxanne Avent.

‘A Dog’s Journey’ to Be Fetched on Digital Aug. 6, Disc Aug. 20 From Universal

A sequel to A Dog’s Purpose, A Dog’s Journey will come out on digital (including Movies Anywhere) Aug. 6 and Blu-ray, DVD and on demand Aug. 20 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

Directed by Emmy winner Gail Mancuso (“Modern Family”), the film continues the tale of lovable farm dog Bailey, as he finds a new destiny, forms an unbreakable bond and learns that some friendships transcend lifetimes. Bailey (voiced again by Josh Gad; Beauty and the BeastFrozen) is living the good life on the Michigan farm of his former “boy” now grown to manhood, Ethan (Dennis Quaid; A Dog’s Purpose, I Can Only Imagine) and Ethan’s wife Hannah (Marg Helgenberger; “C.S.I.,” “Under the Dome”). He has a new playmate, Ethan and Hannah’s baby granddaughter, C.J. (Kathryn Prescott; “24: Legacy”). Everything is great on the farm until C.J.’s mom, Gloria (Betty Gilpin, Isn’t It Romantic, “GLOW”), decides to take C.J. away and chase her own fulfillment in the big city. Ethan asks Bailey to watch over C.J. wherever she goes and thus begins Bailey’s adventure through multiple lives as he, C.J., and C.J.’s best friend Trent experience joy and heartbreak, music and laughter.

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A Dog’s Journey features more than 30 minutes of bonus content including deleted and extended scenes, a gag reel, featurettes with the cast and composer, and a behind-the-scenes look at the animal performances. The release also includes feature commentary by Mancuso.

Lionsgate Posts 10% Drop in Q2 Home Entertainment Revenue

Lionsgate Nov. 8 reported second-quarter (ended Sept. 30) home entertainment revenue of $149.6 million from the sales of DVD/Blu-ray Disc and electronic sellthrough of movies, which is down 10% from revenue of $165.7 million during the previous-year period.

Home entertainment sales of television content topped $28.6 million, down about 5% from $29.9% last year.

Through the first six months, home entertainment sales of movies are down 22% to $312.3 million from $399.7 million last year. TV revenue declined 36% to $46.7 million from $72.5 million.

Top-selling titles include Wonder, which as sold $23.3 million in 1.5 million combined DVD/Blu-ray Disc units, and I Can Only Imagine, selling $20.3 million via 1.2 million discs, according to The-Numbers.com.

Motion picture segment quarterly revenue decreased 2% to $379 million. Segment profit increased 45% to $12.9 million, reflecting strong ancillary performance of previously-released theatrical titles.

TV production revenue fell 28% to $152.1 million from $211.2 million last year.

For the fiscal year, motion picture revenue dropped nearly 14% to $744.3 million from $858 million. TV revenue fell 8% to $431.5 million from $472.4 million.

 

Great Balls of Fire!

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Olive;
Drama;
$24.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘PG-13.’
Stars Dennis Quaid, Winona Ryder, Alec Baldwin, Trey Wilson. 

Nobody pulled too many muscles remastering Orion Pictures’ cartoonish Jerry Lee Lewis biopic for Blu-ray release, but curio seekers may want to be reminded — because I had totally forgotten myself — that Alec Baldwin plays evangelist Jimmy Swaggart, the real-life cousin of rockdom’s self-ordained “Killer.” Actually, it’s another cousin who looms large in the Lewis saga (more on that in a minute), but let it be noted, also for the curious, that Baldwin doesn’t even attempt a characterization. We can almost hear the actor bellowing, “None of that Dennis Quaid peroxide mixed into in my hair, you don’t.”

It’s the similar lack of detail beyond the onetime standard tabloid boilerplate of the day that hurts the picture, which was positioned and certainly promoted to be a hit, what with Lewis’s cooperation and even his agreement to record improved-fidelity versions of his career-making Sun Records hits from his brief time at the highest rungs of the top. Since his wedding-related tumble, of course, Lewis has always been a formidable “name” at the very least, as well as an undeniable killer when it comes to showmanship. Boomers everywhere have long waited for him to co-author a health-tips volume with Keith Richards called How To Defy the Odds by Living Half-a-Century Longer Than Anyone Predicted.

Much like Richards’ Rolling Stones of the ’60s, at least when at least compared to the Beatles dressing like gentlemen on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” dangerous Lewis posed a threat to parental stress levels that Elvis didn’t fully replicate, or at least all the time. Elvis, after all, occasionally scored smash hits with ballads like “I Want You, I Need You, I Love You” or “Love Me Tender” or “Don’t” — and even romanced Debra Paget tender-ly in his Tender screen debut. Judging just from his performing behavior — and you can get a short idea of how scary he was at the time via a brief clip in that mammoth six-part American Music: The Root of Country doc that Ted Turner aired in 1996 — Lewis on screen with Paget would likely have been more akin to what the actress (as “Lilia”) had to endure during the Golden Calf orgy scene in DeMille’s The Ten Commandments.

All of this was exciting, of course, to us fourth and fifth graders at the time — a good topic of discussion during school detention, to be sure, after our near-daily adventures in Ohio classroom disrupting that anticipated everything in Truffaut’s The 400 Blows. On the small screen, as opposed to concert appearances, Lewis was at his piano-pounding wildest on “The Steve Allen Show” and even named his son after the comic host — whose not-ever-to be-missed Sunday night variety show got programmed by NBC opposite Sullivan for a much hipper hour, though one not as big in the ratings (think Cavett vs. Carson in the counterculture early ’70s). This is kind of odd because like the equally uproarious Stan Freberg, Allen disdained “the new sounds” (I think both made rock critic Dave Marsh’s “Enemies of Rock and Roll” list). But he also appreciated outrageousness when he saw it, went with the flow, and his too brief appearance as himself in this movie is a minor high point.

The high point here is probably Winona Ryder as Lewis’s 13-year-old first cousin (removed) Myra, whose marriage to him as wife No. 3 did not amount to a crackerjack career move in late 1957 (just as the film’s title tune was soaring the charts around Christmas time after Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On had ripped up the previous summer). Ryder is fully credible playing someone very young (and, indeed, might even pass for 13), though this part of the movie’s chronology is completely screwed up here in terms of Lewis record releases. (The Dave “Baby” Cortez recording of “The Happy Organ” also shows up on the soundtrack about a year before it would have been possible to do so.) The Jerry-Myra union — which, for a long while, managed to survive a pompously negative British press of Uriah Heep types during a disastrous musical tour in early ’58 — didn’t keep that spring’s “Breathless” from being a top-10 hit (it’s a killer itself). But it likely did make a big dent in the potential sales of follow-up High School Confidential!, which sported one of the coolest 45 jackets ever in that it showcased not just Lewis, but the cast of actors who headlined that teen-junkie trash classic, including Russ Tamblyn and Mamie Van Doren. I had it (of course) and played it in my room after detentions.

After that, things went downhill for the singer pretty fast, and a final indignity came in 1959 when someone ghosted an article under (the original) Jerry Lewis’s name in Photoplay (with Elvis in army uniform on the cover) called, “I Am NOT Jerry Lee Lewis.” And even when Jerry Lee made one of the greatest live albums ever in the mid-’60s, its release was held up for years.

Even so, the movie ends on a happy note suggesting that Lewis and Myra ended up together for decades of walks into the sunset, but he ended up being as married almost as many times as Larry King (I can’t remember if they ever married each other). The director here is Jim McBride, who had directed Quaid in one of his most appealing efforts (The Big Easy) but in this case can’t keep his star from doing the truly impossible: fashioning a performance as Lewis that is, of all things, too broad — a trait it shares with the movie. Nearly two hours of sheer burlesque, Fire! tries to be (or, at least, is) such a pastiche of everything that was happening in the musical/pop culture scene at the time that nothing seems authentic. The minor compensation for this is the film’s accelerated pace and an occasionally hilarious response or reaction shot by Quaid, usually over some indignity. And though, as mentioned, the print could use a fresh, modern-day remastering, the production design is so sprightly under any circumstances that I’d even enjoy living with the wild two-toned carpet in the home the newlyweds look at, even if no one else I’ve ever known likely would.

Through it all, Baldwin’s Swaggart remains a moral compass who is many public years away from the phlegm-faced adulterer whose nationally broadcast-to-death mea culpa in 1988 inspired my then 21-month older son (now an anesthesiologist) to take a baby’s milk bottle out of his month and identify him, when asked on a lark, as the first George Bush. Thus, we do not get to see a Baldwin dramatization of quaking Swaggart crying, “I have sinned” on the airwaves three years and change before a subsequent arrest with a prostitute — but the way things are going with Donald Trump, maybe a newer version will eventually show up on “Saturday Night Live.”

Mike’s Picks: ‘Running Wild’ and ‘Great Balls of Fire!’