Lionsgate Serving Up Disc of Bill Murray Movie ‘On the Rocks’ Oct. 26

Lionsgate will release the film On the Rocks on Blu-ray and DVD Oct. 26.

Written and directed by Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation, Somewhere, The Beguiled), the film stars Bill Murray, Rashida Jones and Marlon Wayans. In the film, Laura (Jones) thinks she’s happily hitched, but when her husband Dean (Wayans) starts logging late hours at the office with a new coworker, Laura begins to fear the worst. She turns to the one man she suspects may have insight: her charming, impulsive father Felix (Murray), who insists they investigate the situation. As the two begin prowling New York at night, careening from uptown parties to downtown hotspots, they discover at the heart of their journey lies their own relationship.

On the Rocks was released via the Apple TV+ streaming service last year.

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Netflix Announces Three New Animated Comedy Series for Kids and Families

Netflix has announced three new animated comedy series for kids and families to be released globally.

“A Tale Dark & Grimm,” based on the best-selling book series by Adam Gidwitz and due in fall 2021, follows Hansel and Gretel as they run away from home to find better parents — or at least ones who won’t chop off their heads. As Hansel and Gretel leave their own story and venture through other classic Grimm fairy tales, unexpected narrators’ guide us through their encounters with witches, warlocks, dragons and even the devil himself. As the siblings roam a forest brimming with menacing foes, they learn the true story behind the famous tales, as well as how to take charge of their destinies and create their own happily ever after.

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“Dogs in Space” is also coming in fall 2021. In the series, in the not-so-distant future, genetically enhanced dogs are sent across the universe in search of a new home for the human race. It’s a giant cosmic game of fetch, as the canines seek a planet that will save humanity and — more importantly — let them return to their beloved owners.

“Super Giant Robot Brothers,” slated to debut in 2022 is an action-comedy series that follows two giant robots who discover they are brothers, as they help defend Earth from the forces of intergalactic evil.

“Comedy comes in many flavors and we are excited to add a few new ones to the menu at Netflix,” Megan Casey, director, original animation, said in a statement. “From a character comedy about dogs on a very unusual space mission by first-time creator Jeremiah Cortez, to a dark comedic take on fairy tales based on the wildly popular book A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz, to a giant robot buddy comedy from Victor Maldonado and Alfredo Torres, we are thrilled to give kids and families all over the world more reasons to laugh.”

Drama ‘When We Last Spoke’ Due on DVD June 1 From MVD

The drama When We Last Spoke will be issued on DVD June 1 from the MVD Entertainment Group.

The Dove-approved film follows sisters Juliet (Darby Camp) and Evangeline (Chandler Head), who in 1967 are abandoned by their mother at their unsuspecting grandparents’ farm in the small Southern town of Fireside.

Stunned by their sudden arrival, the grandparents — tender-hearted Walt (Corbin Bernsen) and champion fiddler Ruby (Melissa Gilbert) — graciously stand in for the missing parents and create a loving family.

The story is punctuated by the unexpected appearance of Walt’s ailing mother — eccentric, Emily Dickinson-quoting Itasca (the late Cloris Leachman).

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The film was an official selection at the 2019 Austin Film Festival.

Genius Brands Promotes Jon Ollwerther to President of Kartoon Channel!

Genius Brands, a global brand management company that creates and licenses multimedia entertainment content for children, has promoted Jon Ollwerther to president of family entertainment digital network Kartoon Channel!

Ollwerther previously served as GM of Kartoon Channel! and will continue in his role as EVP of business development for Genius Brands.

“I am pleased to announce the well-deserved promotion of Jon, in recognition of his significant contributions to the rapid growth and success of our hit kid’s streaming platform, Kartoon Channel,” Andy Heyward, chairman and CEO of Genius Brands, said in a statement.

Kartoon Channel! delivers content across multiple platforms, including Comcast, Cox, Dish, Sling TV, Amazon Prime, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Android TV, Android Mobile, Google Play, Xumo, Roku, Tubi, Samsung Smart TVs and LGTVs.

“Viewer rankings have put Kartoon Channel! above all other services, including Netflix, Disney+, and You Tube Kids, in both the Apple and the Google app stores,” Ollwerther said in a statement. “In addition, I am extremely proud to announce that ‘Stan Lee’s Superhero Kindergarten’ has just surpassed 21 million views on Kartoon Channel!, over 3.6 million per episode, since the initial launch just over one month ago with six episodes now released.  We believe ‘Superhero Kindergarten’ has risen to the ranks of one of the most highly viewed new cartoon launches in history, as we are building an evergreen production that will entertain generations of children, while attracting both advertisers and consumer product licensees.

“In addition to the recently launched hit, ‘Stan Lee’s Superhero Kindergarten,’ starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, we will be rolling out ‘KC Pop Quiz!’next quarter. It is a lightning fast-paced daily game show based on pop culture where kids win cool prizes. Think Jeopardy meets HQ Trivia! Shortly thereafter, we will introduce our third original product, Shaquille O’Neal’s first animated series, ‘Shaq’s Garage,’ created by Joel Cohen, the co-writer and creator of Toy Story. Additionally, we will now be launching season three of our hit series ‘Rainbow Rangers’ with an exciting new twist.

“I am honored to take on this new role with Genius Brands, as I truly believe we are curating the very best combination of original, exclusive, and commercially acquired product within the kids’ entertainment industry.”

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Prior to joining Genius Brands, Ollwerther served as VP of media, arts and entertainment for Measure, the nation’s leading Drone as a Service company. Working with clients across the country and around the world, Ollwerther has an extensive credit list of collaborations with brands and advertising agencies to create unforgettable experiences.

‘Hocus Pocus 2’ Coming Exclusively to Disney+ in 2022

Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy will reprise their roles as the Sanderson Sisters in the live-action comedy Hocus Pocus 2, the sequel to the 1993 Halloween cult classic Hocus Pocus, to premiere exclusively on Disney+ in 2022.

Midler (The First Wives Club, Beaches) returns as Winifred Sanderson, with Parker (“Sex and the City”) and Najimy (Sister Act) back as her sisters, Sarah and Mary, respectively.

In Hocus Pocus 2, three young women accidentally bring the Sanderson Sisters back to modern day Salem and must figure out how to stop the child-hungry witches from wreaking a new kind of havoc on the world.

Hocus Pocus 2 will begin production this fall under the direction of Anne Fletcher (The Proposal, 27 Dresses).

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“Now more than ever, people need to laugh. We should be laughing every day, and there is so much fun to be had with these three unbelievable women playing delicious characters from such a beloved film,” Fletcher said in a statement. “I am so grateful to be able to play a part in bringing these witches back to life.”

Classic ‘Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory’ Coming to 4K Ultra HD June 29

The family classic Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory will be released on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack and 4K digital June 29 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment for its 50th anniversary.

Directed by Mel Stuart from a screenplay by Roald Dahl, Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory is an adaptation of Dahl’s 1964 novel “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”  Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory stars Gene Wilder as Wily Wonka, Jack Albertson as Grandpa Joe, Peter Ostrum as Charlie Bucket, Roy Kinnear as Mr. Salt, Julie Dawn Cole as Veruca Salt, Leonard Stone as Mr. Beauregarde, Denise Nickerson as Violet Beauregarde, Dodo Denney as Mrs. Teevee and Paris Themmen as Mike Teevee.

The musical follows a boy named Charlie who wins a whirlwind tour of Willy’s incredible, edible realm of chocolate waterfalls, elfish Oompa-Loompas and industrial-sized confections.

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The combo pack will include the feature film in 4K with HDR and a Blu-ray disc with the feature film and special features, which include:

  • Commentary with the Wonka Kids;
  • “Pure Imagination: The Story of Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory”;
  • “The Moviemakers”;
  • “Scrumptious Sing-Along: Pure Imagination”;
  • “Scrumptious Sing-Along: I Want It Now!”;
  • “Scrumptious Sing-Along: I’ve Got A Golden Ticket”;
  • “Scrumptious Sing-Along: Oompa-Loompa-Doompa-De-Do”; and
  • The theatrical trailer.

‘Rock Dog 2: Rock Around the Park’ Due on Digital June 11, Disc June 15

The animated sequel Rock Dog 2: Rock Around the Park arrives on digital June 11 and on Blu-ray (plus digital) and DVD June 15 from Lionsgate.

In the sequel, one year after the events of the original Rock Dog, Bodi and his band, True Blue, have become locally famous in the village of Snow Mountain. They even have devoted fans. But when a music mogul named Lang gives them the opportunity to tour with pop sensation Lil’ Foxy, Bodi and his friends learn that fame comes at a price, and ultimately discover that only by staying true to yourself can you unleash the power of rock ‘n’ roll.

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The family-friendly film features Andrew Francis (“My Little Pony” franchise, TV’s “Ninjago,” “Marvel Super Hero Adventures”), Ashleigh Ball (“My Little Pony” franchise, TV’s “Ready Jet Go!,” “Rev & Roll”), Brian Dobson (Norm of the North: Keys to the KingdomNorm of the North: King Sized Adventure, TV’s “Tarzan and Jane”), Brian Drummond (TV’s “Dragon Ball Z,” Norm of the North: Family Vacation, “Bob the Builder”), Cathy Weseluck (“My Little Pony” franchise, “Barbie” franchise, TV’s “Littlest Pet Shop”), Donny Lucas (Open Season: Scared Silly, TV’s “Van Helsing,” The Christmas Doctor), Graham Hamilton (TV’s “Snap Ships: Dawn of Battle”), Jason Simpson (TV’s “The Dragon Prince,” “Tobot Galaxy Detectives,” “Line Rangers”), James Higuchi (TV’s “Sabrina: Secrets of a Teenage Witch,” “The Deep,” “Superbook”), Kathleen Barr (TV’s “Ninjago,” “My Little Pony” franchise, “Dragon Tales”), Michael Adamthwaite (TV’s “Ninjago,” Cold PursuitWar for the Planet of the Apes), Richard Newman (“My Little Pony” franchise, TV’s “Doraemon,” “Beyblade Burst”) and Sabrina Pitre (“My Little Pony” franchise, TV’s “Ninjago,” “Lego Jurassic World: Legend of Isla Nublar”).

Netflix to Bow Animated Family Series ‘Wings of Fire’ With Ava DuVernay

Netflix has announced a new family animated series “Wings of Fire” based on the best-selling series of Scholastic books and produced by Ava DuVernay and her Array Filmworks.

The book series from author Tui T. Sutherland has 14 million copies in print.

The animated adaptation will feature 10, 40-minute episodes. In the story, a bitter war has raged for generations between the dragon tribes who inhabit the epic world of Pyrrhia. According to prophecy, five young dragons will rise to end the bloodshed and bring peace back to the land.  Raised and trained in secret from the time they were hatched, the Dragonets of destiny — Clay, Tsunami, Glory, Starflight and Sunny — embark on an evolving quest that will bring them face to face with their true selves and the overwhelming scope of this savage war they are destined to bring to an end.

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The series is executive produced by DuVernay, Dan Milano, Christa Starr, Justin Ridge, Tui T. Sutherland, Sam Register and Sarah Bremner for Array Filmworks.

“Within this epic book series from the mind of Tui Sutherland is an elegant saga filled with wisdom and wonder, exploring ideas of belonging and bias, camaraderie and community,” DuVernay said in a statement. “On behalf of my colleagues Sarah Bremner and Paul Garnes of Array Filmworks, we’re thrilled to partner with Netflix and Warner Bros. Animation for this dynamic adaptation where five young dragonets fulfill their destiny and show viewers how to fulfill their own.”

“We couldn’t be more proud that Ava has chosen Netflix as the home for her first animated series,” Melissa Cobb, VP of original animation for Netflix, said in a statement. “An epic fantasy saga full of sweep and spectacle, ‘Wings of Fire’ promises to be a must-see event for the whole family.”

“The ‘Wings of Fire’ books have captured the imagination of millions,” said Sam Register, president of Warner Bros. Animation and Cartoon Network Studios. “In Ava, Justin, Christa and Dan we have a visionary creative team that will bring that same sense of wonder and adventure from the books to life with animation and create the next great animated family series at Netflix.”

HBO Max to Bow Animated Children’s Special ‘The Runaway Bunny’ March 25

Subscription streaming service HBO Max March 25 will premiere the animated special The Runaway Bunny, based on the children’s book by Margaret Wise Brown.

Produced and written by Amy Schatz, the program features traditional hand-drawn animation, narration and performance of an original Margaret Wise Brown lullaby by Tracee Ellis Ross, and songs by Grammy winning artists Mariah Carey, Kelly Rowland, Rosanne Cash, Ziggy Marley and Kimya Dawson, as well as Grammy nominees Rufus Wainwright and Michael Kiwanuka.

The story, an exploration of love and childhood, follows a restless little bunny who dreams of leaving home. Woven throughout the story are songs that accompany the bunny on his imaginary, magical adventures into the world and back home to the comfort of his mother’s love.

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Originally published in 1942 by HarperCollins Publishers, the children’s book has sold more than 12 million copies. The Runaway Bunny brings the illustrations of Clement Hurd and the poetry of Margaret Wise Brown to animated life for the first time.

The Runaway Bunny is a timeless classic about youthful independence and the strength of a mother’s love,” Billy Wee, SVP, original animation, HBO Max, said in a statement. “Amy Schatz has lovingly brought this story to vivid life with an incredible group of collaborators.”

Songs include:

  • Mariah Carey’s brand-new reinterpretation of her No. 1 hit song “Always Be My Baby”;
  • Kelly Rowland performing Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love”;
  • Rosanne Cash performing “You Are My Sunshine”;
  • Ziggy Marley performing “What a Wonderful World”; and
  • Rufus Wainwright perforing Billy Joel’s “Lullabye, Goodnight My Angel.”
  • Kimya Dawson — “You Are My Baby”
  • Michael Kiwanuka — “Home Again”
  • Tracee Ellis Ross performs “Song of the Runaway Bunny,” the never-before-released song written by Margaret Wise Brown based on a Provençal love ballad which inspired Brown to write this book.

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run

STREAMING REVIEW:

Paramount+;
Animated;
Box Office $4.8 million;
Rated ‘PG’ for rude humor, some thematic elements, and mild language.

Voices of Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke, Clancy Brown, Rodger Bumpass, Carolyn Lawrence, Mr. Lawrence, Matt Berry, Bill Fagerbakke, Reggie Watts, Tiffany Haddish and Awkwafina with Keanu Reeves, Snoop Dogg and Danny Trejo.

This third installment in the movie franchise based on the Nickelodeon series “SpongeBob SquarePants” is available on the new streaming service Paramount+ for its launch and as a premium VOD rental on digital services. (The film was released theatrically during the summer.)

In the CGI-animated adventure with live action elements, SpongeBob’s beloved pet snail Gary goes missing in a plot hatched by Plankton to get the Krabby Patty recipe. In a boat driven by the wacky robot Otto (voice of Awkwafina), SpongeBob and Patrick head to the Lost City of Atlantic City where King Poseidon has Gary held captive. On the journey, the pair meet a spirit guide tumbleweed Sage (Keanu Reeves) in a live-action, land-based dream sequence at a ghost town. Sage tells them they must meet a challenge involving some “flesh-eating cowboy pirate zombies” in the saloon and a devil character (Danny Trejo). The sequence might be a bit frightening for younger kids, but luckily Snoop Dogg shows up to get the zombies dancing and SpongeBob and Patrick escape.

The two pals eventually make their way to the Lost City, where they end up at Poseidon’s Palace after a gambling spree, spot Gary and are jailed trying to reclaim him. Meanwhile, back in Bikini Bottom, Sandy, Mr. Krabs and even Squidward and Plankton begin to miss SpongeBob and set off to spring him. It all culminates in a big production number on the Palace stage led by the master of ceremonies, voiced by Tiffany Haddish.

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Ultimately, everyone learns the value of friendship boosted by several summer camp flashbacks that not-coincidentally help introduce the new Paramount+ original series spinoff “Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years.”

While the movie does include some references and music (Kenny G, Weezer, Snoop Dogg, Ricky Martin) that will appeal to the adults, most of the humor is the kind of slapstick visual gags and puns that kids are familiar with from the television series. Still, one can do worse than spend an hour and a half with the innocent and likable SpongeBob and his gang, who can provide a diverting, light-hearted evening for the family.