Universal Pictures’ sequel to/reboot of the horror classic Halloween was No. 1 on the top 10 list of combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales for January 2019 according to the NPD Group’s VideoScan tracking service.
Halloween debuted on disc on Jan. 15 and was the top seller its first week in stores.
Sony Pictures’ Venom, the top seller in December and the first two weeks of January, was No. 2 for the overall month of January.
Sony’s Goosebumps 2 landed at No. 3 for the month. It debuted the same week as Halloween.
Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, which landed on disc Jan. 29, managed to take the month’s No. 4 spot despite having just a couple days to qualify.
No. 5 for the month went to Universal’s First Man, a Jan. 22 release that was the top seller in its first week.
Universal had four titles in the month’s top 10, with the Jan. 1 release Night School taking No. 6, and The House With a Clock in Its Walls slipping to No. 9, having debuted in the sixth spot in December.
According to NPD, the January 2019 top 10 by units sold were:
Lionsgate snagged the top spot on both Redbox charts the week ended Feb. 3 with Hunter Killer, an actioner starring Gerard Butler and Gary Oldman about a squad of Navy SEALs who save the kidnapped Russian president from a military coup.
The film, which earned $15.8 million at the domestic box office, 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 new Lionsgate release pushed the prior week’s top Redbox title, Universal Pictures’ First Man, to No. 2 on both charts.
The biopic about Neil Armstrong’s celebrated 1969 moon landing earned $44.9 million at the domestic box office.
Night School, also a Universal Pictures release, held onto the No. 3 on the Redbox disc-rental chart and moved back up to No. 3, from No. 5 the prior week, on the Redbox on Demand digital chart.
A third Universal Pictures films, Halloween, the 11th installment in the horror franchise, slipped from No. 2 on both charts the prior week to No. 4 on the kiosk chart and No. 6 on the kiosk chart.
Rounding out the top five on the kiosk chart was Sony Pictures’ Goosebumps 2, down a notch from the previous week.
On the Redbox On Demand digital chart, 20th Century Fox’s The Hate U Give slipped to No. 4 from No. 3 the prior week, while Sony Pictures’ The Wife debuted at No. 5.
The Wife, starring Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce, and Christian Slater, is a drama about a wife who grapples with a lifelong deception as she travels to Stockholm with her husband, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
The Wife, an art-house film highly praised by critics, debuted at No. 8 on the Redbox kiosk chart.
A third new release, Walt Disney’s The Nutcracker and The Four Realms, debuted at No. 7 on the Redbox kiosk chart. Disney is the only studio that does not sell product directly to Redbox, prompting the kiosk vendor to buy copies at retail. That explains the relatively low showing for film that earned nearly $55 million in North American theaters.
On the Redbox On Demand chart, the newly released Indivisible, from Universal Pictures, debuted at No. 9. The Christian is based on the true story of Darren Turner, an Army chaplain striving to balance his faith with the war in Iraq.
Top DVD and Blu-ray Disc Rentals, Redbox Kiosks, Week Ending February 3
Hunter Killer (new)
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (new)
The Wife (new)
The Hate U Give
White Boy Rick
Top Digital, Redbox On Demand, Week Ending February 3
Universal Pictures held onto the two top spots on the Redbox charts the week ended Jan. 27, with First Man debuting at No. 1 and Halloween slipping a notch to No. 2 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.
First Man, the biopic about Neil Armstrong’s celebrated 1969 moon landing, earned $44.9 million at the domestic box office. Halloween, the 11th installment that began with the 1978 original also called Halloween, earned nearly 160 million in North American theaters.
A third Universal Pictures release, Night School, slipped to No. 3 on the Redbox disc rental chart and No. 5 on the Redbox on Demand digital chart.
In January, the Kevin Hart-starring comedy, which earned $77.3 million in North American theaters, spent three weeks at No. 1 on the kiosk chart and two weeks in the top spot on the digital chart.
In addition to First Man, three other new releases debut in the top 10 on the Redbox charts – including a fourth Universal Pictures release, Johnny English Strikes Again, which bowed at No. 10 on the disc chart only. The action comedy sequel to 2011’s Johnny English Reborn follows a secret agent who is called into action when a cyber attack exposes all undercover operatives. The film only grossed $4.4 million in U.S. theaters, but racked up worldwide theatrical earnings of more than $153 million.
The other new releases that debuted in the top 10 are 20th Century Fox’s The Hate U Give, which debuted at No. 6 on the disc-rental chart and No. 3 on the digital chart, and Lionsgate’s American Renegades, which bowed at No. 7 on the kiosk chart only.
The Hate U Give is an adaptation of a young adult novel by Angie Thomas. A gritty urban crime drama that plays into the uproar over cops shooting unarmed black men, the film earned just under $30 million in theaters after an acclaimed premiere at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival.
American Renegades is an action thriller film about a team of Navy SEALs tasked with salvagaing Nazi gold stored in a bank vault in a submerged town at the bottom of a lake. In the United States the film was released directly to the home market.
Top DVD and Blu-ray Disc Rentals, Redbox Kiosks, Week Ending January 27
First Man (new)
The Hate U Give (new)
American Renegades (new)
White Boy Rick
The House With a Clock in its Walls
Johnny English Strikes Again
Top Digital, Redbox On Demand, Week Ending January 27
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment’s First Man debuted at No. 1 on the NPD VideoScan First Alert chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales, and the dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart the week ended Jan. 26.
A biopic of American astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, the film earned $44.9 million at the domestic box office.
First Man edged out Universal’s Halloween remake to take the top spot. The previous week’s top seller, Halloween in its second week sold 96% as many copies on the overall sales chart as the newly arrived First Man. The gap was more pronounced on the Blu-ray chart, where Halloween sold 76% as many Blu-rays as First Man.
Blu-ray accounted for 72% of First Man‘s total unit sales, compared with 58% for Halloween (down from 69% in its first week); 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray contributed 24% to First Man‘s overall tally.
Sony Pictures’ Goosebumps 2, also in its second week, slipped a spot to No. 3 on the overall chart, and was No. 10 on the Blu-ray chart.
No. 4 overall and No. 3 on the Blu-ray chart was Warner’s Smallfoot.
Another newcomer, 20th Century Fox’s The Hate U Give, debuted at No. 5 on the overall chart, but was only No. 12 on the Blu-ray chart, with 43% of its sales attributed to the HD version.
On the Blu-ray chart, Warner’s Crazy Rich Asians jumped back up to No. 4, while Fox’s The Predator rose back to No. 5.
(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.
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.
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).
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.
In association with the 20th anniversary of the debut of “The Sopranos” on HBO, FandangoNow Jan. 10 through Jan. 14 is offering a special pricing of the iconic show. Users can watch the series at a discounted price of $9.99 for each season.
The mob drama was one of the prime catalysts in the once-booming TV-on-DVD category, which at its peak in the early 2000s was valued at $4 billion a year in consumer spending. TV-on-DVD also triggered the binge-watching habit that has helped Netflix and other subscription streamers find success with original series such as “Orange is the New Black,” “Stranger Things,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
Created by David Chase, “The Sopranos” – which aired for six seasons, from 1999 to 2007 – stars the late James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano, a New Jersey mobster, and Edie Falco as his complicit wife, Carmela. The series follows Soprano’s rise up the mob ranks and was known for its brutal portrayal of the mob life. The series was hailed for capturing the complexities of Soprano’s character as he tries to balance his roles as head of both an organized-crime “family” and a real family.
Separately, users can also stream Golden Globes winning First Man (Best Original Score), which landed on FandangoNow earlier this week.
The top new movies to rent and to own on the transactional VOD platform are: