‘Buddy Games,’ ‘Iron Mask’ Top Slate of Thanksgiving Week Disc and Digital Releases

The Paramount Pictures comedy Buddy Games, the Arnold Schwarzenegger fantasy adventure Iron Mask, and the fifth season of popular TV series “Better Call Saul” top the slate of new disc and digital releases available for home viewers beginning Nov. 24.

Also newly available to buy or rent: the Martin Scorsese mob film The Irishman and Paramount’s Fatman, a black comedy starring Mel Gibson.

Buddy Games is being released through digital retailers and on DVD.  The film follows six lifelong friends who have a five-year falling out. Bob (Josh Duhamel), aka “The Bobfather,” reunites his pals for the Buddy Games, a competition of absurd physical and mental challenges with the chance to win a $150,000 pot. The determined dudes fight, claw and party for the big bucks in this bro-fest featuring Dax Shepard (CHiPs), Olivia Munn (Office Christmas Party) and Kevin Dillon (“Entourage”).

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Lionsgate is bringing Iron Mask to Blu-ray Disc and DVD four days after the film was released through digital retailers. Schwarzenegger and Jackie Chan face off against each other in battle. In order to save his homeland from certain doom, a kung fu master (Chan) must escape from the maniacal James Hook (Schwarzenegger) to send his daughter a secret talisman that will allow her to control a massive and mythical dragon. The globe-trotting tale — ranging from the impenetrable Tower of London to the fabled Silk Road and China’s Great Wall — also stars Rutger Hauer in one of the screen icon’s final performances.

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“Better Call Saul” is the critically hailed prequel to “Breaking Bad.” In season 5, which Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is releasing Nov. 24 on Blu-ray Disc and DVD, Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) begins practicing law under the name Saul Goodman. Extras on the Blu-ray and DVD include cast and crew commentaries on all 10 episodes, a gag reel, Mesa Verde Bank and Trust TV spots, Kim’s ethics training videos, and a “Crystal Balls” featurette. The Blu-ray also offers deleted scenes and assorted featurettes.

The Irishman, which earned a slew of Oscar nominations after debuting on Netflix in 2019, is being issued as a two-disc Blu-ray Disc and DVD set by Criterion. The film stars two well-known alumni of previous Scorsese gangster films, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, as well as Al Pacino, who left his mark on the genre with his portrayal of Michael Corleone in the three “Godfather” movies. De Niro stars as Sheeran, the “Irishman” of the title, a truck driver who gets drawn into the mafia as an enforcer. He eventually becomes a trusted ally of Teamster president Hoffa (Pacino), a friendship that comes to a head when Hoffa’s actions run afoul of the mafia’s leadership.

Fatman stars Gibson as a frustrated Santa Claus who is targeted by a rich kid who received a lump of coal for his selfishness. The kid hires an assassin to kill Santa.

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

Schwarzenegger Adventure ‘Iron Mask’ Due on Digital Nov. 20, Disc Nov. 24

The fantasy adventure Iron Mask will come out on digital and on demand Nov. 20 and on Blu-ray and DVD Nov. 24 from Lionsgate.

For the first time ever, screen legends Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jackie Chan face off against each other in battle. In the film, in order to save his homeland from certain doom, a kung fu master (Chan) must escape from the maniacal James Hook (Schwarzenegger) in order to send his daughter a secret talisman that will allow her to control a massive and mythical dragon. The globe-trotting tale — ranging from the impenetrable Tower of London to the fabled Silk Road and China’s Great Wall — also stars Rutger Hauer in one of the screen icon’s final performances.

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Cinedigm Touts Cloud-Based Tech for Pending Chinese AVOD Channel

Cinedigm April 11 gave a shout out to a cloud-based technology company it is in the process of acquiring.

The home entertainment distributor recently entered into an agreement to acquire Future Today for $45 million in cash, and $15 million in common stock. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2019.

Cinedigm said it would use Future Today’s cloud-based technology and ad-based monetization platform for the June launch of its Chinese-themed ad-supported VOD channel Bambu.

Future Today owns and operates more than 700 content channels with more than 60 million app installs, and managing 200,000-plus film, television and digital content assets Cinedigm claims receive 85 million video views per month.

Using their advertising technology and sales capabilities, Cinedigm says Future Today will play a crucial role in the monetization of Bambu, which includes television, set-top boxes, mobile apps and online services.

With a primary focus on millennial and Gen Z viewers, Bambu offers curated programming spanning far beyond stereotypical martial arts dramas, instead putting the spotlight on actioners, serials, romantic comedies, sci-fi, horror and fantasy, as well as music, reality series and educational programming ranging from instructional Chinese language courses to culinary shows.

Movies include Jackie Chan in the 2017 fantasy Namiya, Ziyi Zhang in the 2013 spy farce My Lucky Star, sci-fi mystery Battle of Memories, supernatural rom-com Beautiful Accident, road trip comedy Breakup Buddies, the noir-inspired crime drama Cock and Bull, cat-and-mouse thriller The Devotion of Suspect Xand father-and-son drama Lost and Love, among others.

TV shows include “Journey to the West,” the most-watched television show in Chinese history; current hit “Diamond Lover,” and the acclaimed documentary series “A Bite of China,” among others.

“[Future Today’s] long-established and highly successful advertising and sales strategies are a truly invaluable resource that will play a vital role in further expanding [Bambu’s],” Erick Opeka, president of Cinedigm Digital Networks, said in a statement.

Criterion April 2019 Slate Includes ‘A Face in the Crowd,’ ‘Stranger Than Paradise’

The Criterion Collection’s slate of DVD and Blu-ray releases for April 2019 includes A Face in the Crowd, My Brilliant Career, Diamonds of the Night, Night on Earth, Stranger Than Paradise and a double-feature of Jackie Chan’s “Police Story” movies.

Due on Blu-ray April 9 is director Jim Jarmusch’s Night on Earth (1991), which features a talented international cast (including Gena Rowlands, Winona Ryder, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Beatrice Dalle, and Roberto Benigni) for this quintet of transitory tales of urban displacement and existential angst, all staged as encounters between cabbies and their fares. The Blu-ray includes a high-definition digital restoration, supervised and approved by Jarmusch, with a 2.0 surround DTS-HD master audio soundtrack. Extras include selected-scene commentary from 2007 featuring director of photography Frederick Elmes and location sound mixer Drew Kunin; a Q&A with Jarmusch from 2007, in which he responds to questions sent in by fans; a Belgian television interview with Jarmusch from 1992; and a booklet featuring essays by authors and critics Thom Andersen, Paul Auster, Bernard Eisenschitz, Goffredo Fofi, and Peter von Bagh, and the lyrics to Tom Waits’s original songs from the film.

Also due April 9 on Blu-ray is Jarmusch’s Stranger than Paradise (1984), in which Jarmusch follows rootless Hungarian émigré Willie (John Lurie), his pal Eddie (Richard Edson), and his visiting 16-year-old cousin Eva (Eszter Balint) as they drift from New York’s Lower East Side to the snowy expanses of Lake Erie and the drab beaches of Florida, always managing to make the least of wherever they end up. The film is structured as a series of master-shot vignettes etched in black and white by cinematographer Tom DiCillo. The Blu-ray includes a high-definition digital restoration, supervised and approved by Jarmusch, with an uncompressed monaural soundtrack. Extras include Permanent Vacation (1980), Jarmusch’s first full-length feature, presented in a high-definition digital restoration supervised by the director; Kino ’84: Jim Jarmusch, a 1984 German television program featuring interviews with cast and crew from Stranger Than Paradise and Permanent Vacation; Some Days in January, 1984, a behind-the-scenes Super 8 film by Tom Jarmusch; U.S. and Japanese trailers; and a booklet featuring Jarmusch’s 1984 “Some Notes on Stranger Than Paradise,” critics Geoff Andrew and J. Hoberman on Stranger Than Paradise, and author and critic Luc Sante on Permanent Vacation.

Coming April 16 will be Diamonds of the Night (1964). Adapted from a novel by Arnost Lustig and directed by Jan Němec, Diamonds of the Night closely tracks two boys who escape from a concentration-camp transport and flee into the surrounding woods, a hostile terrain where the brute realities of survival coexist with dreams, memories and fragments of visual poetry. The Blu-ray and DVD editions will include a new 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray, and a new English subtitle translation. Extras include a 2009 interview with Němec; A Loaf of Bread, Němec’s 1960 student thesis film, based on a short story by Lustig; a new interview with film programmer Irena Kovarova; Arnost Lustig Through the Eyes of Jan Němec, a short documentary on Lustig from 1993; a new video essay on the film’s stylistic influences by scholar James Quandt; and an essay by film critic Michael Atkinson.

Directed by Elia Kazan, A Face in the Crowd (1957) chronicles the rise and fall of Larry “Lonesome” Rhodes (Andy Griffith), a boisterous entertainer who shoots to the heights of television stardom and political demagoguery. The special-edition Blu-ray and DVD arrives April 23 with a new 4K digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Extras include a new interview with Ron Briley, author of The Ambivalent Legacy of Elia Kazan; a new interview with Andy Griffith biographer Evan Dalton Smith; the 2005 documentary Facing the Past; the film’s trailer; an essay by critic April Wolfe; and a 1957 New York Times Magazine profile of Andy Griffith.

Due April 30 is a double feature of the Hong Kong action series “Police Story” starring Jackie Chan, featuring Police Story (1985) and Police Story 2 (1988). The two-disc DVD and three-disc Blu-ray sets include new 4K digital restorations; alternate 5.1 surround and English-dubbed soundtracks for both films; new English subtitle translations; and the Hong Kong-release version of Police Story 2, presented in a high-definition digital transfer for the first time. Extras include new programs on Chan’s screen persona and action-filmmaking techniques featuring author and New York Asian Film Festival cofounder Grady Hendrix; archival interviews with Chan and actor and stuntman Benny Lai; a television program from 1964 detailing the rigors of Peking-opera training, akin to the education that Chan received as a child; a Chan stunt reel; trailers; and an essay by critic Nick Pinkerton.

Also due April 30 is My Brilliant Career (1979), the award-winning breakthrough film of director Gillian Armstrong, who drew on teenage author Miles Franklin’s novel, a celebrated turn-of-the-twentieth-century Australian coming-of-age story, to brashly upend the conventions of period romance. The Blu-ray and DVD editions feature a new 2K digital restoration approved by the director, with an uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Extras include a 2009 audio commentary featuring Armstrong; a new interview with Armstrong; a 1980 interview with actor Judy Davis; a new interview with production designer Luciana Arrighi; the film’s trailer; and an essay by critic Carrie Rickey.