Reelgood: ‘Hijack’ Tops Weekly Streaming Through Aug. 10

The Apple TV+ original series “Hijack” topped all household streaming for the week ended Aug. 10, according to new data from Reelgood, which tracks real-time data from 5 million users in the United States across SVOD and AVOD services for original and acquired streaming programs and movies.

Disney+ streaming access to Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 continues to resonate, with the film landing at No. 2. The just released third season of “Only Murders in the Building” made the weekly podium at No. 3, while Paramount+’s thriller series “Special Opps: Lioness,” starring Zoe Saldana, landed at No. 4. Peacock streaming access to the year’s No. 1 box office title, Universal Pictures/Illumination’s The Super Mario Bros. Movie, landed the film at No. 5.  

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In a first, Netflix only had one title in the top 10 with “The Lincoln Lawyer” at No. 10. The second season of the legal drama created by David E. Kelley started streaming July 6.

Samba TV: Idris Elba’s ‘Hijack’ Supplants ‘Silo’ as Biggest 2023 Series Opener on Apple TV+

“Hijack,” the new Apple TV+ original thriller series co-starring and produced by Idris Elba, is off to a strong start. The show, which features Elba’s character employing corporate negotiating skills to save passengers aboard a hijacked commercial airliner, generated 467,000 U.S. households and 226,000 U.K. homes for the debut episode over the first seven days (L+6D window), according to new data from Samba TV, which tracks viewership intel across 48 million connected televisions worldwide.

Another 457,000 U.S. homes and 217,000 U.K. households watched the second episode.

The numbers surpassed Apple’s sci-fi original series “Silo,” which generated 315,000 U.S. HHs, and 206,000 U.K. households for the first episode during the L+6D window. And 245,000 U.S. households, and 159,000 U.K. homes watched the second episode of the show headlined by “Mission: Impossible” co-star Rebecca Ferguson about survivors in a post-apocalyptic world living far beneath Earth’s surface.

Samba said “Hijack” viewership overindexed in black households by 42%, and Asian households overindexed by 17%. Of the top 25 largest designated market areas, Orlando, Fla., overindexed the most (+122%), followed by St Louis (+109%) and San Francisco (+100%) for the first three days of the show.

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Apple TV+ Hosts World Premiere for Real-Time Thriller ‘Hijack,’ Starring, Executive Produced by Idris Elba

Apple TV+ hosted the world premiere in the U.K. of its original new thriller, “Hijack,” with the first two episodes streaming on June 28. The series stars and is executive produced by SAG Award winner and Emmy Award nominee Idris Elba.

Created by George Kay and Jim Field Smith, who also wrote and lead directed the series, respectively, the seven-part series also stars Emmy Award and NAACP Image Award winner Archie Panjabi. The cast also includes Christine Adams, Eve Myles, Jasper Britton, Harry Michell, Aimée Kelly, Mohamed Elsandel and Ben Miles, among others.

Told in real time, the series follows the journey of a hijacked plane as it makes its way to London over a seven-hour flight, and authorities on the ground scramble for answers. Elba stars as Sam Nelson, an accomplished negotiator in the business world who needs to step up and use all his guile to try and save the lives of the passengers. Panjabi plays a counterterrorism officer who is on the ground when the plane is hijacked and becomes part of the investigation.

The series is the inaugural content from Elba’s first-look deal with Apple TV+ and his Green Door Pictures production company. In addition to writing and directing, Kay and Field Smith each serve as executive producers alongside Elba, Laurenson, Kousetta and Kris Thykier.

Since its launch on Nov. 1, 2019, Apple TV+ claims to have premiered more original hits and received more awards faster than any other streaming service in its debut. To date, Apple Original films, documentaries and series have earned 369 industry wins and 1,478 nominations, including multi-Emmy Award-winning comedy “Ted Lasso” and historic Oscar Best Picture winner CODA.

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Apple TV+ Set to Bow Original Series ‘Hijack’ Executive Produced and Starring Idris Elba

Apple TV+ May 5 announced plans to launch the original drama series “Hijack,” starring and executive produced by SAG Award winner and Emmy Award nominee Idris Elba (“Luther”) on June 28.

Created by George Kay (“Lupin,” “Criminal”) and Jim Field Smith (“Criminal,” “Truth Seekers”), who also wrote and lead directed the series respectively, “Hijack” also stars Emmy Award and NAACP Image Award winner Archie Panjabi (“The Good Wife,” “Snowpiercer,” “Blindspot”).

Told in real time, “Hijack” follows the journey of a hijacked plane as it makes its way to London over a seven-hour flight and authorities on the ground scramble for answers. Elba stars as an accomplished negotiator in the business world who needs to step up and use all his guile to try to save the lives of the passengers. Panjabi plays a counterterrorism officer who is on the ground when the plane is hijacked and becomes part of the investigation.

The series also stars Christine Adams, Max Beesley, Eve Myles, Neil Maskell, Jasper Britton, Harry Michell, Aimée Kelly, Mohamed Elsandel and Ben Miles.

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“Hijack” is produced by 60Forty Films, the production company set up by Emmy Award-winning executive producers Jamie Laurenson and Hakan Kousetta (“Slow Horses,” “The Essex Serpent”) under its exclusive content deal with Apple TV+, alongside Kay and Field Smith’s own production company Idiotlamp Productions, and also marks the first series to debut from Elba’s first-look deal with Apple TV+ and his Green Door Pictures.

Survival Epic ‘Beast’ Heads Home in October from Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has announced home release dates for Beast, the action thriller from director Baltasar Kormáku that grossed more than $31 million in U.S. theaters.

The film, starring Idris Elba, will be available for digital purchase on Oct. 7, followed four days later (Oct. 11) by a Blu-ray Disc and DVD release.

Extras include behind-the-scenes featurettes diving into the creation of Beast, a deeper look into the South African filming locations, and more.

Beast follows recently widowed father Dr. Nate Samuels (Elba), who returns to South Africa with his two daughters Meredith (Iyana Halley) and Norah (Leah Jeffries) to visit an old friend, Martin Battles (Sharlto Copley) on a game reserve. What begins as a journey of healing turns into a fearsome fight for survival as his family find themselves hunted by a massive, rogue lion intent on proving that the savannah has but one apex predator.
 
With the digital or disc purchase of Beast, fans are eligible to earn points toward digital movies via the Universal All-Access Rewards program. For registration and details please visit www.MyUniversalRewards.com.

Fantasy ‘Three-Thousand Years of Longing’ Headed to 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD Nov. 15

The fantasy romantic drama Three-Thousand Years of Longing, from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and United Artists Releasing, will be released on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD Nov. 15 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

From Academy Award winning director George Miller (Happy Feet, the “Mad Max” franchise, The Witches of Eastwick) from a screenplay by Miller and Augusta Gore, the film is based on the short story The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye by A.S. Byatt. 

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In the film, Dr Alithea Binnie (Tilda Swinton) is an academic — a creature of reason. While in Istanbul, she happens to encounter a Djinn (Idris Elba) who offers her three wishes in exchange for his freedom. At first, she doubts that he is real, and she knows all the cautionary tales of wishes gone wrong. But the Djinn pleads his case, and eventually she is beguiled and makes a wish that surprises them both.

Idris Elba Thriller ‘Beast’ Tops Weekly Vudu Chart

The Universal Pictures’ thriller Beast topped the chart of the 10 most-popular films on Fandango’s transactional digital service Vudu the week ended Sept. 18.

The Idris Elba film, available for premium digital rental and purchase, rose from No. 3 the previous week. It stars Elba as a recently widowed doctor who returns to South Africa on a long-planned trip to a game reserve. He and his daughters find themselves hunted by a rogue lion.

Paramount Pictures’ Top Gun: Maverick remained at No. 2 on the chart. The sequel, available for digital purchase, features Tom Cruise reprising his role as daring pilot Maverick, who is assigned to teach a group of Top Guns how to complete a difficult mission.

Disney/Marvel Studios superhero film Thor: Love and Thunder, which became available for digital purchase Sept. 8 and is also streaming on Disney+, fell from the top spot to No. 3 on the chart. It finds the God of Thunder (Chris Hemsworth) on a journey unlike anything he’s ever faced — one of self-discovery. But his efforts are interrupted by a galactic killer known as Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale), who seeks the extinction of the gods. 

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Remaining at No. 4 on the chart was Sony Pictures’ romantic drama Where the Crawdads Sing. The film, based on the best-selling mystery thriller of the same name, became available for digital purchase Sept. 6 and is newly available for digital rental.

Rising from No. 9 to No. 5 on the chart was Universal Pictures’ Jurassic World Dominion, available for digital purchase and also newly available for digital rental. The film co-stars franchise regulars Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, along with cast members Laura Dern, Sam Neil and Jeff Goldblum from the original series. It’s the third in the “Jurassic World” franchise and the sixth in the overall “Jurassic” franchise. In the film, set four years after the destruction of Isla Nubar, dinosaurs roam the Earth again.

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Vudu’s top 10 titles for the week ended Sept. 18, in terms of revenue, were:

  1. Beast
  2. Top Gun: Maverick
  3. Thor: Love and Thunder
  4. Where the Crawdads Sing
  5. Jurassic World Dominion
  6. Minions: The Rise of Gru
  7. The Black Phone
  8. DC League of Super-Pets
  9. Nope
  10. Three Thousand Years of Longing

Sonic the Hedgehog 2

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Paramount;
Family;
Box Office $190.87 million;
$25.99 DVD, $31.99 Blu-ray, $35.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG’ for action, some violence, rude humor, and mild language.
Stars Jim Carrey, James Marsden, Tika Sumpter, Natasha Rothwell, Adam Pally, Shemar Moore, Lee Majdoub, Tom Butler, Melody Nosipho Niemann. Voices of Ben Schwartz, Idris Elba, Colleen O’Shaughnessey.

The first Sonic the Hedgehog movie in 2020 was a relatively low-key affair in terms of adapting the Sega video game. Elements from the games were kept to a minimum, as the film focused mainly on establishing the speedy Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) on Earth by pairing him with a sheriff named Tom (James Marsden), who helped Sonic evade Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey).

After the success of that first film, for the sequel the filmmakers have opened up the world a bit, introducing more elements from the game, new characters and a lot of high-speed action. It’s a fun ride, especially for fans of the games and the first film, but it runs a bit long as the filmmakers can’t help but indulge in bringing their favorite moments from the game to life.

Robotnik, last seen at the end of the first film trapped on a mushroom planet, is found by the echidna warrior Knuckles (voiced by Idris Elba), who brings him back to Earth in order to track down Sonic. Knuckles believes Sonic is the key to locating a powerful artifact called the Master Emerald, while Robitnik just wants revenge, so they form an alliance. Meanwhile, Tails the flying fox arrives on Earth hoping to help Sonic against Knuckles.

Now that the big three characters from the game are in play, plus Robotnik sporting a look closer to his game appearance with a crazy moustache, the plot doesn’t need to rely on the human side characters as much, and finds an excuse to keep Sonic separated from Tom for most of the movie.

Sonic discovers the map given to him in the first film when he was sent to Earth contains clues to the location of the Master Emerald, setting off an Indiana Jones-type adventure quest as Sonic and Tails hope to find the jewel before Knuckles and Robotnik.

Tom, meanwhile, ventures to Hawaii for his sister-in-law’s wedding, in a storyline that eventually comes back around to tie into the main plot for a spectacular final boss level battle, but it’s a bit of a chore to get through as it feels like a conventional slapstick comedy tacked onto a video game fantasy movie.

Topping things off are some nice messages about teamwork and family.

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The film looks great in 4K and the game characters are rendered well, even if they look like cartoon characters dropped into a live-action world. Carrey’s over-the-top performance is probably the key to tying it all together as he’s basically a living cartoon character anyway.

Knuckles will likely be seen as the breakthrough character here, as Elba does some terrific voice work, and Paramount+ is developing a miniseries about the character for release in 2023. The film also lays some groundwork for a third film, which has been announced for 2024 since the second film did better than the first one at the box office.

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The Blu-ray includes a five-minute short film called “Sonic Drone Home” that is something of a follow-up to the movie, but is fully CG-animated.

Another highlight is the commentary from Schwartz and director Jeff Fowler, which continues the fun conversation the pair were having in the commentary from the first movie, as they discuss how the movie was made and point out more references to the games.

More behind-the-scenes details are revealed in five featurettes that run a total of about 20 minutes.

Also included are 17 minutes of deleted and alternate scenes, three minutes of bloopers, a humorous Q&A with Schwartz, and a Kid Cudi music video for the song “Stars in the Sky.”

The Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Blu-rays are not offered as combo packs, and are configured as either a standalone 4K disc or a standalone regular Blu-ray. Each has all the bonus material plus a code for a digital copy.

Idris Alba to Star in Series ‘Hijack’ for Apple TV+

“Hijack,” a new seven-part thriller starring SAG-winning and Emmy Award-nominated actor Idris Elba, is headed for Apple TV+. 

Elba will also serve as executive producer. The series is the first project hailing from Elba’s first-look deal with Apple TV+ and his Green Door Pictures.

Told in real time, “Hijack” follows the journey of a hijacked plane as it makes its way to London over a seven hour flight, as authorities on the ground scramble for answers. Elba stars as Sam Nelson, an accomplished negotiator in the business world who needs to step up and use all his guile to try and save the lives of the passengers — but his high-risk strategy could be his undoing.

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The Suicide Squad

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 10/26/21;
Warner;
Action;
Box Office $55.8 million;
$34.98 DVD, $39.98 Blu-ray, $49.98 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for strong violence and gore, language throughout, some sexual references, drug use and brief graphic nudity.
Stars Idris Elba, Margot Robbie, John Cena, Daniela Melchior, David Dastmalchian, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Alice Braga, Peter Capaldi, Taika Waititi, Jai Courtney, Nathan Fillion, Flula Borg, Pete Davidson, Sean Gunn, Michael Rooker, Jennifer Holland, Sylvester Stallone, Dee Bradley Baker.

Writer-director James Gunn’s subversive follow-up to 2016’s Suicide Squad resets the franchise by embracing the absurdity inherent in comic book movies.

Like its predecessor, The Suicide Squad is based on the DC Comics series about a team of supervillains who are blackmailed into conducting black ops for the American government through the threat of an explosive chip in their head. The 2016 edition, while a financial success, was panned by critics and audiences after it was infamously re-edited by a trailer company into essentially a series of vignettes set to popular music, trying to capture some of the magic that made Guardians of the Galaxy work so well.

So, for the sequel, DC just brought in Gunn, writer-director of Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies. The hire came shortly after Gunn was fired by Marvel over some questionable tweets in his past, only to be re-hired for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which he’s working on now.

The Suicide Squad is just another example of why he’s such a good fit for these kinds of movies: a keen understanding of the source material, and a willingness to poke fun at it without undermining the credibility of the story. Here, Gunn assembles a team of some of the silliest comic book concepts ever created, gives their characters emotional depth, and makes it all work.

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This is one of the bloodiest comic book movies ever made, but also one of the funniest, with Gunn expertly finding the balance between the two extremes, beginning with an absolutely insane opening sequence that will leave audiences without a clue of what to expect from this movie.

The story involves the team heading to a tropical island to dispose of a top secret project before the new military dictatorship can expose U.S. involvement in its development. Idris Elba grounds the mission as Bloodsport, a weapons expert. He has a bit of a rivalry with the team’s other weapons expert, Peacemaker (John Cena), as they try to outdo each other running up the movie’s body count. With his earnest penchant for killing anything that stands in his way to achieve “peace,” Peacemaker would seem to be Gunn’s metaphor for American foreign policy (though Gunn found the character appealing enough to write an eight-episode TV spinoff about him, set to debut on HBO Max in 2022).

Other standouts on the team include King Shark, literally a walking, talking man-eating shark voiced by Sylvester Stallone; Ratcatcher II (Daniela Melchior), who uses her deceased father’s technology to control the minds of rats; Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian), who was experimented on by his mother with an interdimensional virus that gives him the power to expel dots of deadly energy; and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), one of the few holdovers from the first movie, along with team commander Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), and Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), the government agent who will detonate their heads if they disobey her.

Like the first movie, the sequel has plenty of songs, but thanks to Gunn, they are well integrated into the structure of the film, rather than seemingly played at random.

The Suicide Squad is fun, vibrant and visually distinctive like a graphic novel come to life, though its hard-‘R’ sensibilities may not appeal to everybody.

The Blu-ray edition of The Suicide Squad comes loaded with hours of insightful bonus material about the making of the film, including a good solo commentary with Gunn.

There are also about 17 minutes of deleted scenes that don’t amount to much, so it’s easy to see why they were cut.

Also included are three fun retro trailers done in the style of 1960s war movies, 1970s horror movies and 1980s buddy cop movies.

The regular Blu-ray Disc of the film contains all the extras. The 4K disc includes just the commentary and one featurette, a seven-minute breakdown of Harley Quinn’s violent escape sequence.

Originally published as a streaming review Aug. 9, 2021.