Sci-Fi Films ‘Land of Doom,’ ‘Robot Holocaust,’ ‘Rollerball’ and ‘Voyage Into Space’ Due on Blu-ray From Ronin Flix and MVD Sept. 13

The science-fiction fantasy films Land of Doom, Robot Holocaust, Rollerball and Voyage Into Space will be released on Blu-ray Disc Sept. 13 from Ronin Flix and MVD Entertainment Group.

In director Norman Jewison’s Rollerball (1975), the year is 2018. There are no wars. There is no crime. There is only — the Game. In a world where ruthless corporations reign supreme, this vicious and barbaric “sport” is the only outlet for the pent-up anger and frustrations of the masses. Tuned to their televisions, the people watch Rollerball — a brutal mutation of football, motocross and hockey. Jonathan E. (James Caan) is the champion player, a man too talented for his own good. The Corporation has taken away the woman Jonathan loves, but they can’t take away his soul, even if the diabolical corporate head (John Houseman) tells him he better retire — or suffer the old-fashioned way. The film also stars John Beck, Maud Adams, Moses Gunn and Shane Rimmer. Special features on the cult classic, taken from a 4K scan, include audio commentary with Jewison; audio commentary with writer William Harrison; the “From Rome to Rollerball” featurette; “Blood Sports: An interview with James Caan”; an interview with stuntman Bob Minor; and the theatrical trailer and TV spots. The film, which won the Saturn Award for Best Science-Fiction Film for 1974-75, was the first major Hollywood production to give screen credit to its stunt performers and inspired the short-lived TNN sports show “RollerJam” (1999).

In Robot Holocaust (1987), in the not-so-distant future, mankind is facing uncertainty in the rubble of the destruction of New York. Powerful robots have taken over the world, poisoning the air and making humans their slaves. One man, Neo, and his robot Klyton take on giant worms, flesh eating mutants, killer robots and the evil power of The Dark One in a desperate battle to reclaim earth for the human race. Special features include an on-camera Interview with actress Jennifer Delora. Robot Holocaust was featured on “Mystery Science Theater 3000” in its first season.

Deborah Rennard (“Dallas,” Lionheart) stars in the postnuke classic Land of Doom (1986). In the film, much of the planet’s population and environment has been destroyed in a nuclear holocaust. Those who are still alive live in caves, and many roam the wasteland in marauding gangs. But some survivors, including Harmony (Rennard) and Anderson (Garrick Dowhen), want a better life and go in search of rumored paradise, a city called Blue Lake, where no rape, murder and pillaging are said to exist. However, the maniacal metal-faced Slater (Daniel Radell), Anderson’s rival, wants them dead. Special features include an on-camera interview with Rennard and the original trailer.

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Voyage Into Space (1970) is a compilation of certain episodes from the TV series “Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robot,” which aired from 1968 to 1969. The film features the far-out exploits of a young secret agent with the Unicorn Peacekeeping Organization as he battles the vile minions and colossal monsters of Emperor Guillotine, extraterrestrial dictator of the nefarious Gargoyle Gang. Joining the fight is an atomic-powered giant robot, armed with a fantastic array of super weapons, which only Johnny can command via a unique remote-control wristwatch. This original compilation movie, assembled by American International Television from episodes of the Toei Company tele-series, was a beloved favorite for scores of kaiju-crazy kids across the United States in the 1970s. From the makers of “Gigantor” and “Kamen Rider,” Voyage Into Space is part James Bond, part “Jonny Quest” and part “Ultraman”  with over-the-top plots, oddball villains, outrageous creatures, outré special effects and outlandish action, topped with an offbeat jazz score. Special features include audio commentary with film historian August Ragone.

Comedy ‘Clifford,’ Peckinpah’s ‘Killer Elite’ Among Titles Due on Blu-ray From Ronin Flix and MVD June 7

The comedies Clifford and The Heavenly Kid and the action films The Killer Elite, from director Sam Peckinpah, and The Mechanic, starring Charles Bronson, are being released on Blu-ray June 7 from Ronin Flix and MVD Entertainment Group.

Starring Martin Short (Three Amigos, Innerspace) as a smart, hyperactive and dangerous 10-year-old, Clifford (1994) co-stars Charles Grodin (Midnight Run, The Heartbreak Kid), Mary Steenburgen (Melvin and Howard, Time After Time) and Dabney Coleman (9 to 5, WarGames). In the film, young Clifford has a lifelong dream: to visit the Dinosaur World theme park. Happily, his uncle Martin (Grodin) has agreed to take him. But when Martin suddenly reneges on his promise, Clifford hatches a devious plan to get even and teach his uncle that all work and no play makes Clifford a very bad boy.

In The Heavenly Kid (1985), Lenny Barnes (Jason Gedrick, Iron Eagle, TV’s “Boomtown”) gets divine intervention to educate him in the ways of love from a hip guardian angel, Bobby Fantana (Lewis Smith, Wyatt Earp, Southern Comfort, TV’s “The Man Who Fell to Earth”), a former rebel-without-a-cause. Fantana helps to mold Lenny into the king of cool so Fantana can finally earn his entry into Heaven. After Bobby gives Lenny an extreme makeover, Lenny learns that being popular isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. The film also stars Jane Kaczmarek (TV’s “Malcolm in the Middle,” D.O.A., All’s Fair), Richard Mulligan (TV’s “Empty Nest,” Soap, Scavenger Hunt) and Nancy Valen (TV’s “Baywatch,” Final Embrace). Special features include interviews with stars Lewis Smith and Nancy Valen; audio commentary by director Cary Medoway, moderated by Jeff McKay; and the theatrical trailer.

In Peckinpah’s The Killer Elite (1975), elite assassins Mike Locken (James Caan, Rollerball, The Godfather, Misery) and George Hansen (Robert Duvall, Apocalypse Now, The Godfather) take on jobs too risky for even the CIA to handle. They’re best friends, superior marksmen and on the ‘A’-list when it comes to killing. But when one high-powered hitman betrays another, the intrigue, the violence and the thrills become more than just a dangerous game of who-kills-whom first. It becomes a very personal war. Directed by Peckinpah (The Wild Bunch, The Getaway, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia), the film also stars Arthur Hill (Future World, The Andromeda Strain, Harper), Bo Hopkins (A Small Town in Texas, Mutant, Midnight Express), Burt Young (Rocky, Amityville II, Convoy), Mako (The Sand Pebbles, An Eye for an Eye, Conan the Barbarian), Helmut Dantine (The Story of Mankind, The Wilby Conspiracy) and Academy Award winning actor Gig Young (They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, Game of Death, The Tunnel of Love). Special features include interviews with Bo Hopkins and production assistant Katy Haber; audio commentary with film historians Paul Seydor, Garner Simmons and Nick Redman; TV and radio spots; and the original trailer.

In The Mechanic, Arthur Bishop (Charles Bronson) is a mob hit man who operates in an uncompromising world where conventional rules of morality don’t apply and one wrong move could cost him his life. He’s always worked alone; but, as age catches up with him, Bishop takes on a competent and ruthless apprentice and teaches him everything he knows. Together they become an unmatchable team of globetrotting killers until the pupil’s ruthlessness puts him on a collision course with his teacher. Special features include an interview with writer Lewis John Carlino; audio commentary with author Paul Talbot (“Bronson’s Loose” book series); audio commentary with cinematographer Richard H. Kline, moderated By Nick Redman; and the theatrical trailer.

Craig and the Camel May Be Gone, But Transactional Marketing Still Going Strong

For me, the pinnacle of marketing at the height of the DVD era was Craig Kornblau on a camel.

It was the heyday of event marketing. DVD had become such a monstrous success that disc revenues were outpacing theatrical. DVD potential was even a factor in deciding whether to greenlight movies.

No wonder, then, that at a time when a hot new DVD release could sell 20 million copies or more, just in the first week, the release of a big theatrical film on disc was hailed as a big event — and marketed accordingly.

I remember Disney’s gala launch party for the Ratatouille DVD, with more than a thousand guests crowding a ballroom at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel for a gastronomical feast.

I remember flying to London for a party to celebrate New Line Home Video’s release of the Lost in Space movie.

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I remember Warner Home Video’s Superman party, where I joked to then-president Ron Sanders that the shindig probably cost the studio more than they were spending on advertising with Home Media Magazine all year.

I remember being flown to London by PolyGram to celebrate the DVD release of Phantom of the Opera, as well as three Super Bowls (thanks, Bill Sondheim!) to drum up excitement for the subsequent NFL Super Bowl DVD.

And then there was Craig Kornblau and the camel. The “event” was the 2002 DVD release of The Scorpion King, and amid a throng of beefy warriors, belly dancers and flame explosions I remember looking up and seeing Kornblau, at the time president of Universal Studios Home Video, and his top marketing executive, Ken Graffeo, riding down Sunset Boulevard on a pair of massive dromedaries. A Los Angeles Times article from October 2002 picks up the story from there: “Moments later, the entire caravan, writhing women, camels and all, crossed Sunset Boulevard to the Virgin Megastore across the street, where confused shoppers were rapidly overrun by belly dancers, snake handlers and jugglers.”

The reporter quoted Kornblau as saying the studio hoped to generate earn more than $36 million in the first week of sales, more than the first week of box office for the film’s theatrical release.

These days, physical and digital sales of movies, even combined, area fraction of DVD sales 20 years ago, due to the rise and domination of subscription streaming.

And yet studio marketers continue to “eventize” new transactional releases, although invariably some, if not most, of a campaign’s components take place virtually, often through tie-ins with social media influencers.

In this year’s Power Marketing report, our fourth annual look at the top marketing campaigns of the past year, we profile nearly a dozen standouts from the major studios — and as you’ll see, creativity and ingenuity are certainly not in short supply. Universal Studios Home Entertainment, for example, launched F9 into the home market by getting stars Vin Diesel and Ludacris to share custom content on their Instagram accounts, followed by F9 Fest, a huge press and social media influencer event with interviews, a rooftop zipline stunt experience and even an F9 museum, featuring vehicles from the film.

And Paramount celebrated the 50thanniversary of The Godfather, and the landmark film’s 4K Ultra HD debut, with all sorts of creative executions, strategic partnerships and publicity events. A press screening on the studio lot was preceded by a panel discussion with director Francis Ford Coppola and stars James Caan and Talia Shire — along with a street-naming celebration and the presentation of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame to Coppola.

Craig and his camel may be long gone, but “eventizing” home releases is certainly still a “thing.

Gravitas Ventures Acquires ‘Queen Bees,’ Coming to Theaters and On Demand June 11

Gravitas Ventures has acquired North American rights from Arclight Films to distribute the dramatic comedy Queen Bees. The film will come out in theaters and on demand June 11.

The Astute Films production, directed by Michael Lembeck, stars Ellen Burstyn, James Caan, Ann-Margret, Jane Curtin, Christopher Lloyd, Loretta Devine, Elizabeth Mitchell and French Stewart.

In the film, while her house undergoes repairs, a fiercely independent senior Helen (Burstyn) moves into a nearby retirement community — just temporarily. Once behind the doors of Pine Grove Senior Community, she encounters lusty widows, cutthroat bridge tournaments and a hotbed of bullying “mean girls” the likes of which she hasn’t encountered since high school, all of which leaves her yearning for the solitude of home. But somewhere between flower arranging and water aerobics Helen discovers that it’s never too late to make new friends and perhaps even find a new love.

A heartwarming and humorous look at life’s second act, Queen Bees (previously known as At Last) is inspired by the true story of producer Harrison Powell’s own grandmother’s second chance at love after moving into a retirement community as a widow.

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“As a witness to the joy that finding love at 80 can bring, we knew it was a film we wanted to make and the amazing cast really brought it to life,” producer Dominique Telson said in a statement.

Queen Bees is a feast for the heart,” Arclight Films’ chairman Gary Hamilton said in a statement. “The astounding performances of Ellen Burstyn, James Caan and the rest of the star cast make us laugh and feel good. Michael did an extraordinary job in making this a film for all ages united by the universal topic of love. We trust this gem in the hands of our longtime valued friends at Gravitas Ventures and are certain that with them, this diamond will shine and bring joy to domestic audiences.”

“Michael’s film is the breath of fresh air audiences need right now, a hilarious and life-affirming story with excellent performances from an iconic cast. We look forward to presenting the film to North American audiences,” Tony Piantedosi, VP of acquisitions at Gravitas Ventures, said in a statement.