Disney+’s ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ Top New Show, Netflix’s ‘Stranger Things’ Top Returning Show Anticipated in May

Disney+’s “Obi-Wan Kenobi” was the top anticipated new show, Netflix’s “Stranger Things” was the most anticipated returning show, and Disney’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was the top anticipated movie on the Whip Media charts for May.

“Obi-Wan Kenobi” starts streaming on Disney+ May 27. The series stars Ewan McGregor, reprising his role as the iconic Jedi Master, and begins 10 years after the events of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith where Obi-Wan Kenobi faced his greatest defeat — the downfall and corruption of his best friend and Jedi apprentice Anakin Skywalker, who turned to the dark side as evil Sith Lord Darth Vader. The series also marks the return of Hayden Christensen in the role of Darth Vader.

The fourth season of “Stranger Things” starts streaming on Netflix May 27. In season four, it’s been six months since the Battle of Starcourt, which brought terror and destruction to Hawkins. Struggling with the aftermath, the group of friends are separated for the first time. Meanwhile, a new and horrifying supernatural threat surfaces, presenting a gruesome mystery that, if solved, might finally put an end to the horrors of the Upside Down.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness debuts in theaters May 6. Based on the Marvel Comics, the film follows the further adventures of Dr. Stephen Strange as he protects a girl who can hop between realities.

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TV Time, a Whip Media company, is a free TV and movie viewership tracking app with 21 million global users, according to the company. TV Time’s “Anticipation Report” is based on data from those users.

Most Anticipated New Shows for May:

  1. “Obi-Wan Kenobi” (Disney+) — May 27
  2. “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” (Paramount+) — May 5
  3. “The Staircase” (2022) (HBO Max) — May 5
  4. “The Time Traveler’s Wife” (HBO) — May 15
  5. “Candy” (Hulu) — May 9

 

Most Anticipated Returning Shows for May:

  1. “Stranger Things” (Netflix) — May 27
  2. “The Wilds” (Prime Video) — May 6
  3. “Hacks” (2021) (HBO Max) — May 12
  4. “Love, Death & Robots” (Netflix) — May 20
  5. “Girls5eva” (Peacock) — May 5

 

Most Anticipated Movies for May:

  1. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness — May 6
  2. Top Gun: Maverick — May 27
  3. Downton Abbey: A New Era — May 18
  4. Bob’s Burgers: The Movie — May 27
  5. Firestarter — May 13
  6. Senior Year — May 13
  7. Men — May 20
  8. Chip ‘n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers — May 20
  9. Along for the Ride — May 6
  10. DC Showcase — Contantine: The House of Mystery — May 3

 

April 26 Sees ‘Moonfall’ New to Disc, ‘Uncharted’ and ‘Turning Red’ Arrive for Digital Purchase

Titles new to DVD and Blu-ray April 26 include Moonfall and The Great: Season Two, while new digital releases include Uncharted and Turning Red.

Action-adventure director Roland Emmerich’s Moonfall arrives on Blu-ray Disc, DVD, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and VOD April 26 from Lionsgate. Emmerich (Midway, “Independence Day” franchise) and writers Emmerich, Harald Kloser and Spenser Cohen, the film stars Halle Berry (Monsters Ball, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum), Patrick Wilson (Midway, “The Conjuring” franchise), John Bradley (TV’s “Game of Thrones,” Marry Me), Michael Peña (TV’s “Narcos,” Fantasy Island),  Charlie Plummer (Lean on Pete, Spontaneous), Kelly Yu (TV’s “Lost Promise”), Eme Ikwuakor (TV’s “On My Block,” “Inhumans”), Carolina Bartczak (TV’s upcoming “Painkiller”), and Donald Sutherland (“The Hunger Games” franchise, TV’s “The Undoing”). In Moonfall, a mysterious force knocks the moon from its orbit around Earth and sends it hurtling on a collision course with life as we know it. With mere weeks before impact and the world on the brink of annihilation, NASA executive and former astronaut Jo Fowler (Berry) is convinced she has the key to saving the world, but only one astronaut from her past, Brian Harper (Wilson), and conspiracy theorist K.C. Houseman (Bradley) believe her. They mount an impossible last-ditch mission into space. Read a review here.

Season two of the comedic series “The Great” arrives on DVD April 26 from Paramount Home Entertainment.  Created and executive produced by Academy Award and Golden Globe nominee Tony McNamara (The Favourite​), the satirical comedy is loosely based on the rise of Catherine the Great (Elle Fanning) from outsider to the longest reigning female ruler in Russia’s history. With Fanning and Nicholas Hoult reprising their Golden Globe-nominated roles, season two finds Catherine finally taking the Russian throne for her own. But if she thought coup-ing her husband was difficult, it’s nothing compared to the realities of liberating a country that doesn’t want to be.  She must battle her court, her team, even her own mother (played by two-time Emmy Award-winning actress Gillian Anderson) in a bid to bring the Enlightenment to Russia. The four-disc DVD set features all 10 episodes from season two, plus deleted scenes and a blooper reel.

The action adventure Uncharted arrives for digital purchase April 26 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. In the film, street-smart thief Nathan Drake (Tom Holland) is recruited by seasoned treasure hunter Victor “Sully” Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg) to recover a fortune lost by Ferdinand Magellan 500 years ago. What starts as a heist job for the duo becomes a globe-trotting race to reach the prize before the ruthless Moncada (Antonio Banderas), who believes he and his family are the rightful heirs. Uncharted arrives on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray May 10.

Disney and Pixar’s animated Turning Red will be available for digital purchase April 26. In the film, confident, dorky 13-year-old Mei (voice of Rosalie Chiang) must balance being a dutiful daughter with the chaos of adolescence. Her slightly overbearing mom (voice of Sandra Oh) is never far from her daughter. And, as if changes to Mei’s interests, relationships and body aren’t enough, whenever she gets too excited, she “poofs” into a giant red panda. It arrives on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD May 3 from Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution.

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Warner Bros. Home Entertainment release the classic 1952 musical Singin’ in the Rain on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray for the first time April 26 to mark the film’s 70th anniversary. The musical romantic comedy was directed and choreographed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, and stars Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagen, Millard Mitchel and Cyd Charisse. The film was written by Adolph Green and Betty Comden and produced by Arthur Freed. The music is by Nacio Herb Brown and the lyrics are by Arthur Freed. The 4K edition of Singin’ in the Rain will also be available for digital purchase starting April 26.

The Indian feature Writing With Fire, nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary, will be available on DVD April 26 from Music Box Films. In the film, reporting from a social environment built to divide based on caste and gender, a fearless group of journalists maintain India’s only women-led news outlet. The women of Khabar Lahariya (“Waves of News”), all from the Dalit (“untouchables”) caste, prepare to transition the newspaper from print to digital even though many of their reporters don’t have access to electricity at home. Armed with smartphones, chief reporter Meera and her team of investigative journalists confront some of India’s biggest issues — exposing the relentless discrimination against women and amplifying the voices of those who suffer from the oppressive caste system. The film chronicles the astonishing determination of these local reporters as they empower each other and hold those responsible for injustice to account.

Vertical Entertainment’s Alica Silverstone thriller Last Survivors will be released on DVD April 26 from Distribution Solutions. In the science-fiction thriller, a father and son, who have been living off grid for 20 years, encounter an outsider who threatens to destroy the utopia they’ve built. Directed by Drew Mylrea and written by Josh Janowicz, the film also stars Drew Van Acker and Stephen Moyer.

The erotic features Caligula & Messalina and Caligula: The Untold Story, as well as the Australian biker actioner Stone, will be available on Blu-ray Disc April 26 from MVD Entertainment Group and Severin Films.

In Caligula & Messalina (1981), one of the earliest entries in the subgenre, ItaloFilth veteran Bruno Mattei (The Other Hell, Women’s Prison Massacre) set the Caligsploitation standard for informative history and jaw-dropping depictions of ancient Roman depravity. When the deranged emperor (Vladimir Brajovic of The Story of O) falls for an insatiable gladiatrix (Betty Roland of Mattei’s Caligula Reincarnated as Nero), their reign will launch a mind-bending bacchanal of torture, sodomy, incest, castration, borrowed footage and aroused livestock. Françoise Blanchard (The Living Dead Girl), Florence Guérin (Cozzi’s The Black Cat) and Sal Boris (The Beast in Heat) co-star in this saga of saturnalian obscenity, presented in both the explicit Italian version and the unrated U.S. Release scanned in 2K from the original negatives. Special Features include “Caligula: The Life Behind the Legend,” an interview with Anthony A. Barrett, author of Caligula: The Corruption Of Power; a trailer; and the CD soundtrack.

Also due is Caligula: The Untold Story (1982). Directed by Joe D’Amato (Emanuelle in America, Absurd), the erotic exploitation film stars David Brandon (Beyond Darkness, Stagefright) as the insane young emperor whose love of brutality and degradation is surpassed only by his hunger for enslaved virgins, cruel vengeance, extreme acts of “horseplay” and beyond. Laura Gemser (Black Emanuelle), Gabriele Tinti (Endgame), Charles Borromel (Absurd) and future director Michele Soavi (Cemetery Man) star in this epic of orgiastic excess written by D’Amato and Luigi Montefiori/George Eastman with a score by Carlo Maria Cordio, presented in both the explicit Italian version and the U.S. release scanned in 2K from the original negatives. Special features include “The Orgy Of Power,” an interview with actor David Brandon; “A False True Story,” an interview with screenwriter Luigi Montefiori; “Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy,” an interview with actor Mark Shannon; deleted scenes; the U.K. video trailer; and the CD soundtrack.

Stone (1974), released five years before Mad Max, comes from producer/director/co-writer/star Sandy Harbutt. In his first and only feature film, he ignited Australia’s exploitation explosion, launching a global censorship battle with this biker movie. In the film, an undercover cop (Ken Shorter of Sunday Too Far Away) infiltrates an outlaw motorcycle gang (led by Harbutt). Hugh Keays-Byrne (Immortan Joe in Mad Max: Fury Road), Helen Morse (Picnic at Hanging Rock), Roger Ward, Vincent Gil, Reg Evans of Mad Max fame, and members of the Sydney Hells Angels co-star in the film, which features an uncut 4K scan from original vault elements supervised by Harbutt himself shortly before his death. Special features include “The Making of Stone“; deleted and extended scenes; “Stone Forever”; “Not Quite Hollywood,” extended interviews: make-up tests; a slideshow with commentary by Harbutt; the trailer; and the CD soundtrack.

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

A Home Entertainment Success Story: Bob Chapek and the Digital Revolution

As CEO of The Walt Disney Co., Bob Chapek is the home entertainment industry’s single biggest success story.

He joined Disney in 1993, after stints in brand management at H.J. Heinz Co. and in advertising at J Walter Thompson, and spent his first 18 years in home entertainment, running the division as president from 2006 to 2011. And with streaming now the dominant delivery mechanism in home entertainment, it’s fitting that one of Disney’s biggest corporate initiatives is Disney+, the subscription streaming platform launched in November 2019 that by the end of last year had amassed nearly 130 million subscribers worldwide, up 37% from the end of 2020.

In an exclusive interview with Media Play News, Chapek shares some thoughts on the past, present and future of home entertainment. 

MPN: At the time of launch, did you recognize DVD’s potential?

Chapek: I don’t think that anyone fully realized the trajectory that we would be on. I think if we knew, we probably all would have made other decisions quicker than we did. But I think it’s been a roadmap, right? We went from VHS and Laserdisc, to DVD, then to Blu-ray, then to having files accessible through iTunes and then, ultimately, streaming. So it’s been part of a big evolution. I don’t think anybody had the foresight to know exactly how that was going to play out. But we knew we were on a digital path, a digital future, and I think the consumer’s better off for it.

MPN: What were you doing when DVD first came on the market?
 
Chapek: At that point I was SVP of marketing for home video, running marketing, essentially. What I was actually doing was making sure those discs would actually play, because if you remember there some playability issues, as there are with all new formats, compatibility issues between players and discs, and making sure that anything we put in the marketplace was going to actually deliver on what the consumer expected. And then shortly thereafter, we started innovating, trying to take full advantage of all the capabilities that the new digital format had. More than just no need to rewind, right? Or you can start a movie anywhere you wanted to — there wasn’t that linearity, and we tried to take advantage of that in so many ways. I work with Pete Docter still to this day, and I remember innovating on Monsters Inc., with the two paths on the menus, one for kids, one for adults, and it was a completely different experience. So we did try to seize the opportunity to use technology to create a whole different type of experience and, you know, that’s the Disney way.

MPN: When Blu-ray came along, you played a primary role in bringing that high-definition format to market. I remember Warren Lieberfarb saying it’s vaporware, and you explained that it’s not evolutionary, it’s revolutionary.

Chapek: Well, first of all, I do give credit to Warren to be the father of DVD, he certainly was that, and got the entire industry off on its way. [But with Blu-ray] there was an unfortunate and expensive format war. We clearly aligned on the side of Blu-ray because it was the best for the consumer. I think there were a lot of competing interests with people doing things that might be best for their company but not necessarily with an eye toward what was right for the consumer, and we just believed that a transformative technology that could completely promise a new experience, without compromises, would be superior to something that was a bit more evolutionary, like HD DVD. So knowing that it would make our library brand new again, if we had a revolutionary technology rather than an evolutionary one, we stood, as you remember, staunchly behind Blu-ray, which eventually prevailed.

MPN: Along with Blu-ray Disc, the argument can be made that DVD also fathered streaming, both because it spurred the digitization of content and because its small size and light weight prompted Reed Hastings to launch a DVD-by-mail rental service. Would there be a Disney+ had it not been for DVD?

Chapek: I think it’s part of the natural evolution. It was a big leap from tape to disc, and then another big leap from physical to digital. And even in those early days of Blu-ray we started playing around with what we thought was going to be digital delivery. We were involved in a new technology we had developed called Keychest. I don’t know if you remember it, but it was the embryonic beginning of owning a digital library — which, again, to us was a pretty big deal at that time. I think back often to those Keychest days as being the founding moment of at least our own digital business. And we certainly played along with that evolution, and now with streaming, with Disney+, it’s really been interesting for me, over almost 30 years, to see this evolution. I have the deepest respect for Netflix. Again, they were pioneers in this business, coming all the way from shipping discs to your home all the way to where they’re at today. And I’m not sure how many players will be left standing, ultimately, in the streaming wars, as they call it, but I certainly think both Netflix and Disney+ will be among them.
 
MPN: Any thought on the future of physical media?

Chapek: I guess there’s always going to be a niche for physical media that some people will celebrate. I still hang on to a few of my classic titles and, in particular, I’m a big music audio on disc fan for some of the high-definition and lossless formats, so I’m one of those rare types that still loves the lossless, uncompressed formats. But I think each person will find out their own path when it comes to hanging on to different physical formats. I remember the days of Snow White, the one that started it all here at Disney, and working on The Lion King, which has sold over 45 million copies in North America alone, and there are some of those titles that will hold some library value if for no other reason than sentimental value. But I fully embrace the digital revolution that’s taken place and think everything I really need to watch is on Disney+.

Vizio Adds Disney, Sony, Warner On-Demand Movies, TV Shows

Vizio April 20 announced it has expanded its slate of free, on-demand entertainment available on WatchFree+ to include TV shows and movies from more than 17 studios.

The ad-supported free streaming service now offers Vizio TV owners more than 5,000 titles, including from Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution (Need for Speed); Sony Pictures (Death at a Funeral and Guess Who); and Warner Bros. (Gossip, Pay it Forward, Knockaround Guys and “Veronica Mars” (2014)).

“We are excited to broaden our content offering, which now also includes a selection of Warner Bros. titles … for our users to enjoy for free,” Katherine Pond, VP of Business Development at Vizio, said in a statement. “Following the addition of ad-supported on demand content last November, the team has expanded the entertainment options at an accelerated pace to provide consumers with access to a massive free library of content that they can enjoy as a part of owning a Vizio TV.”

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Programming is available across genres including action, romance, comedy, family entertainment, crime and more — giving Vizio users content to watch and enjoy anytime and providing access to new audiences for advertisers and agencies.

‘Turning Red’ to Debut on Digital April 26, Disc May 3

Disney and Pixar’s animated Turning Red will be available for digital purchase April 26, and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD May 3 from Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution.

In the film, confident, dorky 13-year-old Mei (voice of Rosalie Chiang) must balance being a dutiful daughter with the chaos of adolescence. Her slightly overbearing mom (voice of Sandra Oh) is never far from her daughter. And, as if changes to Mei’s interests, relationships and body aren’t enough, whenever she gets too excited, she “poofs” into a giant red panda.

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Bonus features, which vary by product and retailer, include seven deleted scenes, three featurettes and audio commentary with director Domee Shi.

Turning Red is also streaming on Disney+.

Disney Names Jeremy Doig Its New Chief Technology Officer

Disney has named Jeremy Doig its new chief technology officer for Disney Streaming, where he will lead the technology organization and global technology strategy for the media giant’s portfolio of direct-to-consumer streaming services. Doig replaces Joe Inzerillo, who departed for SiriusXM satellite radio. He will report directly to Michael Paull, president of Disney Streaming.

A 30-year veteran in online media, Doig brings to the team deep technical experience architecting and implementing global technology visions at global scale and will play a key role in propelling the next phase of technical innovation and growth for Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+ and Star+.

“Jeremy is a true visionary that has sat at the forefront of making online video streaming possible in his nearly 30-year career at the intersection of technology and media,” Paull said in a statement. “We have an exceptional team of global technologists, and Jeremy’s experience leading transformational initiatives in complex and dynamic environments will make him an incredible asset to lead this world-class group.”

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Doig joins Disney Streaming next month after 18 years at Google, where he pioneered new standards for online media — spanning novel compression approaches for audio and video, streaming protocols for real-time and on-demand delivery, and spatial experiences. His career has centered on driving innovation in online media technology, and includes technology roles at the BBC, The Multimedia Corporation (A BBC Interactive Television Unit spinout), Online Magic (an early Internet website and ecommerce pioneer), Microsoft and most recently at Google, creating the video technologies that power YouTube and Chrome.

March 22 Home Releases Led by ‘Nightmare Alley,’ ‘Dexter: New Blood,’ ‘Godfather’ Trilogy 4K

Among the new home entertainment releases of March 22, Nightmare Alley and Dexter: New Blood arrive on disc, the “Godfather” trilogy debuts on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, and Parallel Mothers becomes available for digital purchase.

Disney-owned Searchlight Pictures’ Nightmare Alley becomes available on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray March 22. From director Guillermo del Toro, Nightmare Alley is a psychological thriller about a down-on-his-luck grifter in the 1940s named Stanton Carlisle (Bradley Cooper), who endears himself to clairvoyant Zeena (Toni Collette) and her has-been mentalist husband Pete (David Strathairn) at a traveling carnival. With the virtuous Molly (Rooney Mara) loyally by his side, Stanton plots to con a dangerous tycoon (Richard Jenkins) with the aid of a mysterious psychiatrist (Cate Blanchett) who might be his most formidable opponent yet. Del Toro co-wrote the screenplay with Kim Morgan, based on the 1946 novel of the same name by William Lindsay Gresham. The film earned $11.3 million at the domestic box office. It earned four Oscar nominations for the upcoming 94th Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design and Best Production Design. Nightmare Alley became available for streaming on Hulu and HBO Max Feb. 1.

CBS and Paramount Home Entertainment release the Showtime limited series Dexter: New Blood on Blu-ray Disc and DVD March 22. A special Steelbook Blu-ray edition also is available. A continuation of the 2006-13 series “Dexter,” which starred Michael C. Hall as a blood-spatter expert for the Miami police department masquerading as a vigilante serial killer, Dexter: New Blood picks up 10 years later. With Dexter Morgan (Hall) still in hiding and living under an assumed name in a small town in New York, unexpected events in the close-knit community start to reawaken the urge to kill he has been keeping at bay, a reality further complicated by the surprise arrival of the son he left behind. The cast also includes Jennifer Carpenter, Jack Alcott, Julia Jones, Alano Miller, Johnny Sequoyah and Clancy Brown. The event series ran from Nov. 7, 2021, to Jan. 9, 2022. The four-disc DVD and Blu-ray sets will include all 10 episodes, plus a 30-minute behind-the-scenes featurette, plus a look at Dexter’s kill room, and discussions with the cast and crew about the return of the show. The DVD offers English 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio, while the Blu-ray offers English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD.

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Francis Ford Coppola’s  The Godfather, all three films in the epic trilogy have been restored under the direction of Coppola and will be made available on 4K Ultra HD for the first time on March 22. Newly restored and remastered in Dolby Vision, all three films in the landmark trilogy will be released together with HDR10 on 4K Ultra HD Digital and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray for the first time ever. The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray set will include The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, and Coppola’s recently re-edited version of the final film, Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone. The disc set includes legacy commentaries by Coppola, as well as access to digital copies of The The Godfather, The Godfather: Part II and Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone. In addition to the widely available 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray set, a 4K Ultra HD Limited Collector’s Edition will also be released in deluxe packaging and include a hardcover coffee table book featuring photographs, as well as portrait art prints on archival paper. Both 4K Ultra HD sets include new bonus content including an introduction to The Godfather by Coppola, a featurette about the preservation process, photos by acclaimed photographer Steve Schapiro, home movie footage and comparisons of the new restoration to earlier versions of the films. Newly restored and remastered versions of The Godfather, The Godfather Part II and Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone will also be available together on Blu-ray with access to digital copies and the new and legacy bonus content.

The crime drama For the Love of Money, arrives on Blu-ray (plus digital) and DVD March 22 from Lionsgate. Set in a criminal underworld that revolves around power, money and danger, where protecting family can lead to dark and desperate measures, For the Love of Money follows Gigi Davis (Keri Hilson), a determined single mom who walked away from a billion-dollar family business to chart her own path. When the pressures of building a better life become too much, Gigi is pulled back into a role she tried to escape — and gets caught up in the thrill. When a shadowy figure threatens her daughter’s life, Gigi must choose whether to surrender or fight. The film also stars Katt Williams, Rotimi, DC Young Fly, Jason Mitchell and LisaRaye McCoy.

Pinocchio: A True Story, a humorous take on the classic tale, will be released on digital, DVD and on demand March 22 from Lionsgate. The comedy, featuring the voices of Pauly Shore and Jon Heder, follows the wooden hero, who is a skilled acrobat who performs stunts with his beloved horse, the wisecracking Tybalt. He runs off to join a circus, where he falls for the ringmaster’s daughter Bella. But when Pinocchio learns the circus is a cover-up for robberies, he must stop the crime spree in order to save Bella — and, hopefully, become human.

The horror-thriller 6:45 debuts on digital, Blu-ray and DVD March 22 from Well Go USA Entertainment.   In the film, a couple embarks on a weekend getaway only to find the island curiously deserted. After stumbling upon the town’s dark secret, they trigger a time loop, forcing them to relive a demented cycle of terror with seemingly no means of escape. Directed by Craig Singer (Animal Room, Dark Ride, A Good Night to Die), the film stars Michael Reed (Brides of Satan), Augie Duke (The Amityville Moon), Armen Garo (“Dexter: New Blood”) and Thomas G. Waites (The Thing, Money Train). 6:45 won Best Director for Craig Singer at the 2021 Catalina Film Festival and 2022 New York Movie Awards and picked up the Jury Award for Best Feature at the 2021 Hollywood on the Tiber Film Awards and Best Indie Feature at the 2021 Florence Film Awards.

The Oscar-nominated Parallel Mothers, written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar, will be released for digital purchase March 22 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has garnered nominations for Best Actress (Penelope Cruz) and Best Original Score (Alberto Iglesias). In the film, two women, Janis and Ana, coincide in a hospital room where they are going to give birth. Both are single and become pregnant by accident. Janis, middle-aged, doesn’t regret it and she is exultant. The other, Ana, an adolescent, is scared, repentant and traumatized. Janis tries to encourage her while they move like sleepwalkers along hospital corridors. The few words they exchange in these hours will create a very close link between the two, which by chance develops and complicates, and changes their lives in a decisive way. It arrives on Blu-ray and DVD April 5.

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Best Buy’s ‘The Hunger Games’ 4K Steelbook Collection

“The Hunger Games” saga arrives March 22 in a 4K Ultra HD plus Blu-ray and digital combo pack Steelbook from Lionsgate, exclusively at Best Buy. The collection features artwork from Flore Maquin, Ise Ananphada, Alice X. Zhang, Tula Lotay, Paige Reynolds, Aracely Muñoz, Gemma O’Brien, Lauren Hom, Meni Chatzipanagiotou and Gia Graham. The collection includes all four films: The Hunger Games, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1 and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2. Based on the book series, the series follows the journey of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) as she navigates the fight-t0-the-death Hunger Games and the authoritarian leaders of Panem.

Kino Lorber March 22 releases Rock Hudson’s Home Movies, a 1992 documentary on the late actor from director Mark Rappaport. Shot in black and white, the Kino Lorber Studio Classics release uses a collage of film clips from throughout Hudson’s career, and a winking performance by Eric Farr as a Hudson stand-in, to highlight the homosexual subtext in his work. “Subversive, hilarious, and profoundly enlightening, its use of video became a model for the future of film criticism as it mutated on YouTube, TikTok and beyond,” according to a Kino Lorber news release.

The horror comedy The Good Exorcist (2017) will be released on Blu-ray Disc March 22 from Troma Films and MVD Entertainment Group. In the film — which pokes fun at the exorcism horror sub-genre — after a ranch in Texas is befallen to a mysterious, demonic presence, it is up to an eccentric, wandering priest to find answers and dispel the darkness. As he digs deeper he soon finds that he may be in over his head and out of time. The film is directed by Josh Stifter (Greywood’s Plot, Scumbag), and the production of The Good Exorcist was featured on the TV series “Rebel Without a Crew.” It features music by The Pentagrammas, Crowz & Hoggz, Mommy Sez No and Joe Shields. The film won the 2018 Best Texas Narrative at the Austin Revolution Film Festival.

The 2005 comedic sports drama Game 6 arrives on Blu-ray Disc March 22 from Ronin Flix and MVD Entertainment Group. In Game 6, New York playwright Nicky Rogan (Michael Keaton) is a playwright desperate for another success. From the outset, things begin to go wrong. His daughter informs him that his wife wants a divorce. His mistress notifies him that his lead actor has a parasite in his brain and can’t remember his lines, and an old acquaintance regales him with tales of Steven Schwimmer, a new and powerful critic who is so poisonous, so destructive, that the New York theater community lives in terror. Although Nicky has grown up in New York, he is a die-hard Red Sox fan and the film is set on October 25, 1986, the day of the most Shakespearian of sporting events, Game 6 of the World Series. At the last minute, Nicky decides to skip his opening night in order to watch his beloved team. The film also stars Robert Downy Jr., Griffin Dunne and Catherine O’Hara. Special features include a making-of featurette and audio commentary by director Michael Hoffman.

The 1998 horror film Modern Vampires is being released on Blu-ray Disc March 22 from Ronin Flix and MVD Entertainment Group. In Modern Vampires, Los Angeles has a discreet community of tortured, bloodthirsty creatures of the night. But when a mysterious vampire (Natasha Gregson Wagner, Lost Highway) enters the scene, the Count wants this blood-sucking seductress eliminated before her rampage of death exposes the cult. Her only chance at immortality lies in the fangs of Dallas (Casper Van Dien, Starship Troopers). But when a distraught mortal, Dr. Frederick van Helsing (Rod Steiger, The Amityville Horror), seeks revenge on the vampires that damned his son, he vows to kill them all, slowly. Special features include a behind-the-scenes featurette, a new interview with director Richard Elfman, and audio commentary with director Elfman and actor Casper Van Dien.

Shout! Factory and Eleven Arts March 22 release the classic 2001  anime feature Millennium Actress as a Blu-ray Steelbook. The release includes the original Japanese audio and the 2019 English dub, as well as a number of bonus features including a making-of featurette, highlighted by a rare interview with director Satoshi Kon. Fans can preorder their copies now by visiting ShoutFactory.com, and orders placed on the site will receive a collectable poster as a gift with purchase, while supplies last. Millennium Actress has won countless awards and recognitions, including Grand Prize winner in the Japan Agency of Cultural Affairs Media Arts Festival. The film, from famed anime studio Madhouse, was hailed by the San Francisco Chronicle as “a lovely Valentine to the golden age of Japanese filmmaking and an era of gentler, deeper feelings.” In the film, the abrupt shutdown of Ginei Studios prompts filmmaker Genya Tachibana and his assistant to interview its reclusive star, Chiyoko Fujiwara, who had retired from the spotlight 30 years earlier. As Fujiwara recounts her career, Tachibana and his crew are pulled into her memories, where they witness her chance encounter with a mysterious man on the run from the police.

Kino Lorber March 22 releases a Blu-ray Disc collection of three vintage sci-fi classics from director Edgar G. Ulmer. The “Edgar G. Ulmer Sci-Fi Collection” includes The Man From Planet XBeyond the Time Barrier and The Amazing Transparent Man. The trilogy will be issued as part of the independent film distributor’s Kino Lorber Studio Classics line. The Man From Planet X, released in 1950, is set on the foggy coast of Scotland. An astronomer discovers an alien landing has actually occurred. He soon realizes that the creature,  the “Man From Planet X,” has definite plans — not for friendship, but for domination. Beyond the Time Barrier, from 1960, follows U.S. Air Force Major William Allison as he pilots the X80 jet, which is capable of speeds up to 5,000 miles an hour, more than 100 miles above the Earth.  Upon nearly reaching outer space, Allison is unaware that the X80’s tremendous velocity has propelled him through a time barrier and into the post-apocalyptic year of 2024. He soon finds himself held captive in an underground city known as the Citadel, whose inhabitants have been menaced by mutants and a deadly virus. The Amazing Transparent Man, also from 1960, finds safecracker Joey Faust getting snatched out of prison and made invisible with an atomic ray gun, for the sole purpose of stealing nuclear fuel for a villain named Krenner and his beautiful moll Laura. But when Faust realizes his radiation-generated new look is slowly poisoning him, the tables are quickly turned.

The classic kung fu films Monkey Kung Fu (1979) and Shaolin Mantis (1978) will be released on Blu-ray March 22 from the 88 Films USA label in partnership with MVD Entertainment Group. A cult classic from the Shaw Brothers Studio, Monkey Kung Fu (aka Stroke of Death) is directed by Mar Lo (Shaolin Thief) and stars Siu-Tung Ching (The Shaolin Boxer). In the film, when a prisoner is given half of a wooden keepsake by a one eyed-master about to be executed, he breaks out of prison to go in search of the other half to discover its purpose. However, on his quest he is pursued by a gang leader who will also stop at nothing find out its secrets. Also from the Shaw Brothers studio, Shaolin Mantis is from the golden age of Hong Kong martial arts cinema. In the film, when scholar Wei Fung (David Chiang) is hired by the emperor to infiltrate a clan of rebellious Ming loyalists, his mission goes adrift when he falls in love the clan leader’s granddaughter and his plans are discovered. The film is directed by Lau Kar Leung (The Spiritual Boxer, The 36th Chamber of Shaolin).

Redbox Entertainment, the original content division of Redbox March 22 premieres the thriller film Assailant. The film is available On Demand via the Redbox streaming app, which is available on devices that include Roku, Vizio, Samsung, LG, iOS and Android, as well as through digital retailers that include iTunes and Vudu, among others. Starring Poppy Delevingne (Kingsman: The Golden Circle), Chad Michael Collins (Extinct), Casper Van Dien (All American), and Jeff Fahey (“Lost”), Assailant is written and directed by Tom Paton (400 Bullets). The film follows a British couple, Zoe and Jason, who book a private cruise in the Caribbean in hopes of rekindling their relationship and saving their marriage. After a seemingly harmless bar fight between the husband and a mysterious drifter, the situation devolves into a dangerous game of cat and mouse. The couple must fight together to save themselves from the Assailant.

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

Interpret: Disney+ Subs More Amenable to Ad-Supported Content

Disney+ subscribers are more amenable to ad-based content than the general population, according to Interpret data, making the company well-positioned as it plans to introduce a lower-priced, ad-supported subscription tier for its digital streaming video service.

Interpret’s VideoWatch data shows that 55% of Disney+ viewers are already consuming content on ad-supported services, compared with 44% of the general population.

“When Disney first entered the subscription OTT space, it redefined the benchmarks for success for a new streaming service,” Brett Sappington, VP at Interpret, said in a statement. “Prior to its entry, companies were pleased to exceed 1 or 2 million subscribers. When Disney was able to quickly capture millions of customers, they set a high bar for others to reach. The same could happen in the ad-supported streaming space as well. With its large current subscribership, a known content brand, and existing relationships with advertisers through its television business, Disney+ is well positioned for success with an ad-supported tier.”

Disney Sets Home Release Dates for ‘Death on the Nile’

Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution has set home release dates for Death on the Nile, director Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of Agatha Christie’s acclaimed 1937 novel.

The murder mystery, which grossed a disappointing $41 million in North American theaters, will be released through digital retailers on March 29, the same day it begins streaming on HBO Max and Hulu, followed by an April 5 release on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray Disc and DVD.

Death on the Nile has been praised by critics for its cinematography,  storytelling and ensemble cast that includes Branagh as Hercule Poirot, Tom Bateman as Bouc, Annette Bening as Euphemia Bouc, Russell Brand as Dr. Bessner, Ali Fazal as Andrew Katchadourian, Dawn French as Bowers, Gal Gadot as Linnet Ridgeway Doyle, Armie Hammer as Simon Doyle, Rose Leslie as Louise Bourget, Emma Mackey as Jacqueline de Bellefort, Sophie Okonedo as Salome Otterbourne, Jennifer Saunders as Marie Van Schuyler and Letitia Wright as Rosalie Otterbourne.

In the film, Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot’s spectacular Egyptian vacation aboard a river boat becomes a terrifying search for a murderer after a picture-perfect couple’s honeymoon is cut tragically short. 

Bonus content on the home editions include four documentaries, including one on the making of the film, and deleted scenes, although Disney cautions bonus features will vary by product and retailer.

 

March 15 Home Releases: ‘Spider-Man’ Available Digitally, ‘West Side Story’ Arrives on DVD, Blu-ray Disc

March 15 sees the digital release of Spider-Man: No Way Home, as well as the Blu-ray and DVD release of the West Side Story remake.

The Marvel Studios film Spider-Man: No Way Home arrives for digital purchase March 15 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. As the film begins, the friendly neighborhood hero’s identity is revealed, bringing his superhero responsibilities into conflict with his normal life and putting those he cares about most at risk, including MJ (Zendaya). When he enlists Doctor Strange’s (Benedict Cumberbatch) help to restore his secret, the spell tears a hole in the world, releasing the most powerful villains who’ve ever fought a Spider-Man in any universe. Peter (Tom Holland) will have to overcome his greatest challenge yet, which will not only forever alter his own future but the future of the Multiverse. Spider-Man: No Way Home earned $792.3 million at the domestic box office and $1.877 billion worldwide, making it the top grossing film of 2021 in both arenas (as well as No. 3 all time in North America and No. 6 all time globally). It arrives on DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc April 12.

Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution march 15 releases director Steven Spielberg’s remake of the classic musical West Side Story on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. West Side Story, based on William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, was originally released on Broadway in 1957, and was previously adapted for film in 1961, winning Best Picture at the Oscars. It tells the tale of fierce rivalries and young love in 1950s New York City. The remake, which is nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, stars Ansel Elgort (Tony); Ariana DeBose (Anita); David Alvarez (Bernardo); Mike Faist (Riff); Brian d’Arcy James (Officer Krupke); Corey Stoll (Lieutenant Schrank); Josh Andrés Rivera (Chino); with Rita Moreno (as Valentina, who owns the corner store in which Tony works); and introducing Rachel Zegler (Maria.) Moreno also serves as one of the film’s executive producers. The home video editions include a 96-minute making-of documentary consisting of various featurettes. Read a review here.

The dark comedy Red Rocket arrives March 15 on DVD and Blu-ray from Lionsgate. Written and directed by Sean Baker (The Florida Project, Tangerine), it’s the story of Mikey Saber (Simon Rex), who is back home in small-town Texas after burning bridges and flaming out all over Los Angeles. A hustler, operator and charismatic con man, Mikey quickly learns that no one wants him back. When he meets a teenager working at the local donut shop, he sees his ticket back to the big time. The film premiered at Cannes and was nominated for three Gotham Awards.

The Russian sci-fi thriller Project Gemini will be released for digital purchase, and on Blu-ray and DVD March 15 from Well Go USA Entertainment. In the film, after centuries of destroying Earth’s resources, humankind faces the grim reality that its last shot at survival may require creating an entirely new home — in outer space. An international expedition is quickly formed to find a suitable new planet, but when plans go awry, the crew is suddenly stranded without power on a strange planet. Unfortunately, they’ll soon learn that something truly unimaginable has been out there watching, lying in wait for the unwary human scouts.

The Jennifer Lopez romantic comedy Marry Me became available for digital purchase March 13 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. The film — featuring Owen Wilson and original music by Lopez and Latin music megastar Maluma — follows a heartbroken pop star (Lopez), slated to marry her pop star fiancé (Maluma) on stage, who instead marries a stranger from the audience — a high school math teacher (Wilson). Against the odds, their relationship develops into something real. The film also stars John Bradley (“Game of Thrones”), Sarah Silverman (Wreck-It Ralph Breaks the Internet) and Chloe Coleman (“Big Little Lies”). It arrives on Blu-ray and DVD March 29. The film is also streaming on Peacock.

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The 1989 cult comedy Dream a Little Dream joins the Vestron Video Collector’s series on Blu-ray and digital March 15 from Lionsgate. The film stars Corey Feldman (Stand by Me, The Goonies, The Lost Boys) and Corey Haim (The Lost Boys, License to Drive, Lucas), as well as Piper Laurie (The Hustler, Carrie, TV’s “Twin Peaks”), Jason Robards (All The President’s Men, Parenthood, Magnolia), Harry Dean Stanton (Repo Man, Alien), and Meredith Salenger (The Journey of Natty Gann, A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon, Lake Placid). In the body-swap comedy, Bobby has everything a young guy should: a good buddy, a girlfriend and parents who love him. When the older couple down the street try a transcendental experiment to extend their lives, they become trapped in the teens’ bodies. Dream a Little Dream bonus features include interviews with Corey Feldman and executive producer Lawrence Kasanoff, audio commentary with film historian Jarret Gahan, theatrical trailers, TV spots, and a stills gallery.

The 1981 horror classic An American Werewolf in London arrives in a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray special edition March 15 from Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment Group. Director John Landis (The Blues Brothers, Trading Places) combines macabre horror with dark humor in the film, which is newly restored in 4K with Dolby Vision. In the film, American tourists David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne) are savaged by an unidentified vicious animal whilst hiking on the Yorkshire Moors. David awakes in a London hospital to find his friend dead and his life in disarray. Retiring to the home of a beautiful nurse (Jenny Agutter, Walkabout) to recuperate, he soon experiences disturbing changes to his mind and body, undergoing a full-moon transformation that will unleash terror on the streets of the capital. The film features Rick Baker’s ground-breaking, Oscar-winning special makeup effects.

Kino Lorber March 15 releases on Blu-ray Disc the 1930 German film Farewell (Abschied). In a return to the realistic “street films” of the German silent era, Robert Siodmak (Criss Cross) directed this comedy drama of intersecting lives within the rooms of a working-class boarding house. Aribert Mog (Ecstasy) and Brigitte Horney (Munchausen) star as Peter and Hella, a young couple waiting for the opportunity to be married. When Peter receives a job opportunity in Dresden, he intends to surprise Hella with the news. But when word spreads among the other lodgers, it creates a series misunderstandings that could jeopardize the couple’s happiness. Bonus features include an audio commentary by film historian Anthony Slide and an alternate “happy” ending.

Criterion Collection March 15 releases 1970’s Le Cercle Rouge on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. The film stars Alain Delon as a master thief, fresh out of prison, who crosses paths with a notorious escapee (Gian Maria Volontè) and an alcoholic ex-cop (Yves Montand). The unlikely trio plot a heist, against impossible odds, until a relentless inspector and their own pasts seal their fates. With its honorable antiheroes, coolly atmospheric cinematography, and breathtaking set pieces, Le cercle rouge is the quintessential film by Jean-Pierre Melville—the master of ambiguous, introspective crime cinema. The 4K/Blu-ray combo pack includes a new 4K restoration from Studiocanal of the uncut version of the film, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack. The 4K disc includes the film with Dolby Vision HDR and the regular Blu-ray includes the film and special features. Extras include segments from a 1971 episode of “Cinéastes de notre temps” featuring director Jean-Pierre Melville; interviews with assistant director Bernard Stora and Rui Nogueira, author of Melville on Melville; on-set and archival footage, featuring interviews with Melville and actors Alain Delon, Yves Montand and André Bourvil; the film’s trailer; and essays by film critics Michael Sragow and Chris Fujiwara, excerpts from Melville on Melville, a 2000 interview with composer Eric Demarsan, and an appreciation by filmmaker John Woo.

The 2007 Mark Wahlberg actioner Shooter will be released on 4K Ultra HD for the first time March 15 in a limited-edition Steelbook from Paramount Home Entertainment. Wahlberg and director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, Infinite) team up for the first time on this action thriller in which Wahlberg stars as a respected former Marine sniper who is pressed into service to stop an assassination attempt on the president. When he’s double-crossed and framed for the attempt, he must prove his innocence while evading every law enforcement agency in the country and a shadowy organization that wants him dead. Originally released on March 23, 2007, Shooter celebrates its 15th anniversary this year.

The documentary The Last Mountain will be released on digital and on demand March 15 from Universal Pictures Content Group. Directed by Emmy award-winner Chris Terrill and from Emmy Award-winning producer Julia Nottingham and BAFTA Award winning producer Olivia Lichtenstein, The Last Mountain explores the forces that drove two mountaineers — one a mother, the other her son — to their untimely deaths a quarter of a century apart.

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