‘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.

The Irishman

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street Date 11/24/20;
Criterion;
Drama;
$29.95 DVD, $39.95 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for pervasive language and strong violence.
Stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Ray Romano, Bobby Cannavale, Anna Paquin, Jesse Plemons, Stephen Graham, Harvey Keitel.

Lest anyone accuse Martin Scorsese of glamorizing gangsters, he presents The Irishman, a screed against the criminal lifestyle.

The film is based on the 2004 book I Heard You Paint Houses, a recounting of the life of mafia hitman Frank Sheeran, the man who claims to have killed Jimmy Hoffa, the union boss whose disappearance in 1975 became one of the 20th century’s great mysteries.

The subject matter is fodder for Scorsese, who assembles a cast of mob-movie all-stars to deliver another highly entertaining trip into the inner workings of the criminal underworld. This includes usual Scorsese collaborators such as Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci (who was coaxed out of retirement to appear). It is somehow also the first teaming of Al Pacino with Scorsese despite both being famously associated with the mafia movie genres.

The film, which earned a slew of Oscar nominations after debuting on Netflix in 2019, is lengthy at three-and-a-half hours, but is briskly paced enough to hold one’s attention. Of course, the nature of home video also allows viewers to pause the movie whenever they want, giving Scorsese plenty of leeway to indulge himself.

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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 (Al Pacino), a friendship that comes to a head when Hoffa’s actions run afoul of the mafia’s leadership.

The extended running time not only allows the audience time to get to know the characters, but it also allows Scorsese to hone in on an aspect of criminal life that wasn’t central to his earlier works in the genre: What happens to the violent gangsters who manage not to get killed and end up growing old? Was their life of crime still worth it once they realize what they had to leave behind to achieve it?

As if to carry the point home, Scorsese makes a point to pause the introductions of several minor characters to display an on-screen graphic describing their fates, which usually involves a horrific, violent death.

On the subject of aging, the film famously made extensive use of de-aging visual effects software in order to allow the elderly stars to play the younger versions of their characters since the film spans several decades. Scorsese in the Blu-ray’s bonus materials says the technology was vital to his deciding to direct the film, as he didn’t want to have to cast younger actors for the earlier scenes and only work with De Niro for half the movie. The results are subtle if not always perfect, but they don’t hamper the effectiveness of the film at all.

Because of the film’s length, Criterion has made the Blu-ray of The Irishman a two-disc set, with the entirety of the movie presented as the only content on the first disc. All the bonus materials are on the second disc and they do a good job of taking viewers behind the scenes of the film. Both discs come in a handsome fold-out slipcover with some beautiful painted artwork of De Niro and Pacino, plus a booklet with an essay about the film.

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In addition to the film’s trailers, the extras include a 36-minute “Making The Irishman” featurette that covers all the aspects of the production.

Film history fans will get a kick out of the 19-minute “Table for Four” featurette, a roundtable conversation between Scorsese, De Niro, Pacino and Pesci as they discuss their careers and how they came together for this movie.

Also interesting is the 21-and-a-half-minute “Gangsters’ Requiem,” a video essay about the evolution of Scorsese’s career and how his previous works are reflected in The Irishman.

A five-minute “Anatomy of a Scene” video features Scorsese providing commentary on the Frank Sheeran Appreciation Night scene.

The film’s visual effects techniques are expanded upon in the 13-minute “The Evolution of Digital De-Aging as Seen in The Irishman” featurette, which was originally a Netflix promotional piece.

Finally, there are a couple of archival videos that the filmmakers used in re-creating historic events: a six-minute interview with an elderly Sheeran, and a 17-and-a-half minute news profile of Hoffa by David Brinkley in 1963.

Criterion Releasing Scorsese’s ‘The Irishman’ on Blu-ray and DVD Nov. 24

The Criterion Collection Nov. 24 will release Blu-ray Disc and DVD editions of director Martin Scorsese’s acclaimed mobster epic The Irishman.

The three-and-a-half-hour movie, which earned 10 Oscar nominations but didn’t win any, stars Robert De Niro as Frank Sheeran, a former hitman and union truck driver who reflects on his life in organized crime in the mid-20th century, from his involvement with Philadelphia mob boss Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci) to his association with Teamsters union head Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino), and the rift that forced him to choose between the two.

The movie arrives on disc a year after its debut on Netflix, sporting a new 4K digital master approved by Scorsese, with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack on the Blu-ray.

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Extras include a newly edited roundtable conversation among Scorsese, De Niro, Pacino and Pesci originally recorded in 2019; a new documentary about the making of the film; a new video essay written and narrated by film critic Farran Smith Nehme about The Irishman’s synthesis of Scorsese’s singular formal style; “The Evolution of Digital De-aging,” a 2019 program on the visual effects created for the film; archival interview excerpts with Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran and International Brotherhood of Teamsters trade union leader Jimmy Hoffa; the film’s trailer and teaser; plus an essay by critic Geoffrey O’Brien.

Criterion previously released disc versions of Netflix originals Roma and Marriage Story.

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Netflix Left $3.6 Billion at the Theatrical Box Office in 2019

Beginning in late 2018 through this year, Netflix has redoubled efforts to produce original feature-length movies in addition to episodic TV series.

At the same time, the SVOD pioneer continues to throw a curve ball into traditional theatrical distribution by largely eschewing exhibitor releases in favor of worldwide streaming access.

The result is friction from theater operators, industry awards groups and a significant hit to the fiscal bottom line.

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Netflix said its most-popular original movies from October 2018 through September 2019 included Bird Box (80 million views), Murder Mystery (73 million), Triple Frontier (52 million), The Perfect Date (48 million) and Tall Girl (41 million).

The streamer said movies such as Fyre, Otherhood, Always Be My Maybe, Secret Obsession and The Highwaymen generated more than 20 million views each within four weeks of release. The list excludes El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (25 million) and The Irishman (40 million).

While 72% of Netflix households have more than one user on the account, when factoring just one view per subscription, the aforementioned movies generated about 394 million views. Netflix ended Q3 with 158 million subscribers worldwide.

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Multiplying the views by $9.11, the average cost of a theatrical movie ticket in 2018, suggests Netflix conservatively left more than $3.58 billion in ticket sales on the table over a film’s initial 30-day period.

That’s just slightly less than Netflix’s entire third-quarter 2018 revenue of $3.9 billion.

While it can be argued that streaming a movie for “free” is more likely an option for consumers than leaving the house and buying a ticket for a non-Marvel release at a cineplex, the data underscores users’ willingness to devote a significant time allotment for video content.

“The thing that’s amazing about that is … think of everything those people could be doing on those screens, and they chose a [Netflix] film,” Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at the streamer, told an industry gathering earlier this month.

Sarandos was talking about The Irishman, Netflix’s 3-and-a-half-hour big-budget gangster movie from director Martin Scorsese that has multiple Golden Globe nominations. “Consumers understand the value of proposition of new movie watching, compared with TV series,” he said.

Scorsese’s most-recent theatrical release, 2016’s Silence, earned just $23.7 million at the global box office against an estimated budget of more than $40 million. But before that, 2013’s The Wolf of Wall Street earned $392 million at the worldwide box office, 2011’s Hugo earned $186 million, 2010’s Shutter Island earned $294 million, and 2006’s The Departed generated $291 million. With The Irishman touting a typical Scorsese cast: Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino, it’s not unreasonable the film would have attracted moviegoers.

Irishman was released in select indie theaters to be considered for industry awards, including the Oscars.

The Irishman lost a lot of box office,” Mooky Greidinger, CEO of Cineworld, said in an interview. “A Scorsese released properly in cinemas would have generated a nice income.”

Indeed, Netflix hasn’t been shy seeking third-party funding for its content aspirations. In October the platform sold more than $2 billion in long-term debt (bonds) in the U.S. and Europe to buttress original content production in response to growing third-party competition, including Disney+.

Sarandos: 40 Million Households to Stream ‘The Irishman’

Netflix’s big-budget mobster movie The Irishman is projected to be streamed in 40 million households through its first 28 days of release.

Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at the SVOD behemoth, disclosed the data during a Dec. 10 presentation at the UBS Global TMT Conference in New York City.

Sarandos said 26.4 million households watched at least 70% of the lengthy (3.5 hours) movie from director Martin Scorsese — a tally he said does not take into account multiple people watching simultaneously under one roof.

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Indeed, Sarandos seemed to imply anyone watching the movie in its entirety should be applauded.

“The thing that’s amazing about that is … think of everything those people could be doing on those screens, and they chose a film,” Sarandos said.

The Irishman generated multiple Golden Globe nominations, with Sarandos characterizing Netflix’s record nomination indicative the streamer’s “mark of quality.”

“Consumers understand the value of proposition of new movie watching, compared with TV series,” he said.

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Netflix’s ‘Irishman’ Skipping Major Theatrical Run

Netflix’s big budget original movie The Irishman reportedly will not have a major theatrical run upon its November release.

The Martin Scorsese-directed gangster movie features multiple Oscar winners, including Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino, among others.

Netflix is eyeing the film for major industry awards, which require a theatrical screening to be considered for nomination.

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The SVOD pioneer continues to maintain a business model that makes original movies available for streaming concurrent with any theatrical run.

To abide by the rules, Netflix has offered The Irishman to theaters for an exclusive 27-day window ahead of streaming, beginning Nov. 1.

But major chains such as AMC, Regal and Landmark insist they have exclusive rights to any theatrical release for 90 days.

As a result, Netflix will screen the film at select indie theaters nationwide — a path the service took when debuting  last year’s Oscar-winning movie Roma from director Alfonso Cuaron.

 

Netflix’s ‘The Irishman’ Gets Global Debut at London Film Festival

The BFI London Film Festival scored a coup of sorts Aug. 5 when it announced that the upcoming 63rd edition would play host to the global debut of Netflix original feature film The Irishman from director Martin Scorsese.

Netflix — contrary to the SVOD’s feature-film policy releasing titles in theaters and streaming concurrently — is rolling out the mega-budget movie in select theaters first to appease industry awards such as the Academy Awards as well as Oscar-winner Scorsese.

Irishman, which will be screened Oct. 13 at the festival’s “Closing Night Gala,” stars Academy Award winners Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci, among others.

The screening apparently precedes a previously-announced Irishman debut at the New York Film Festival on Oct. 14.

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Netflix has not yet announced the streaming release for the film.

The BFI London Film Festival also announced that there would be simultaneous preview screenings taking place at cinemas across the UK.

Re-uniting Scorsese with his Gangs of New York screenwriter Steve Zaillian, who adapted from Charles Brandt’s novel I Heard You Paint Houses, The Irishman examines the influence of organized crime in post-war America.

The story is told through the eyes of World War II veteran Frank Sheeran (De Niro), a hustler and hitman who worked alongside some of the most notorious figures of the 20th Century.

Spanning decades, the film chronicles one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in American history, the disappearance of infamous Union President Jimmy Hoffa, and offers a monumental journey through the hidden corridors of organized crime: its inner workings, rivalries and connections to mainstream politics.

“I’m extremely honored to be having the International Premiere of The Irishman at the closing night of the BFI London Film Festival,” Scorsese said in a statement. “This picture was many years in the making. It’s a project that Robert De Niro and I started talking about a long time ago, and we wanted to make it the way it needed to be made. It’s also a picture that all of us could only have made at this point in our lives.”

Tricia Tuttle, BFI London Film Festival Director hailed Scorsese as “one of the true greats of cinema” as both a creator and champion of film preservation and history.

“This is a major occasion for film lovers and I cannot wait to share this film with U.K.,” Tuttle said.

Netflix Releases ‘The Irishman’ Movie Trailer

Netflix July 31 released the official movie trailer for its much-hyped mob feature film The Irishman, directed by Martin Scorsese, and starring fellow Oscar winners Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Al Pacino, among others.

The period drama, which will debut at the upcoming New York Film Festival, boasts Netflix’s willingness to spend big (reported $160 million budget) and initially release the movie theatrically (ahead of streaming) to appease industry award guidelines.

The plot centers around World War II veteran and mob hitman Frank Sheeran (De Niro) and his relationship with former labor union leader Jimmy Hoffa, who disappeared in 1975 and was declared dead in absentia in 1982.

When the movie, which also features Harvey Keitel, Bobby Cannavale, Anna Paquin and Ray Romano, will be released at the box office has not been disclosed.

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