This Week’s MPN Podcast: ‘Top Gun: Maverick,’ ‘Nope’ Reviews; Box Office Report

On this week’s episode of the Media Play News podcast, hosts Charles Parkman and Charlie Showley cover the movie that Charlie has been raving about all summer: Top Gun: Maverick. In going over the review by John Latchem the movie is discussed as being a satisfying sequel to the original Top Gun, which came out over 35 years ago in 1986. Maverick pushes the nostalgia buttons for viewers who loved the first movie, but doesn’t lean too heavily on it as some recent franchise reboots have tended to do. Charlie goes on for an extended period about how his expectations for the movie were extremely low going into it and ended up vastly exceeding them. The combination of perfectly executed (albeit simple) plot beats and in-camera shots from jets made the movie well-deserving of Tom Cruise’s largest grossing film of all time.

Continuing the high profile lineup of the episode, the hosts cover another review by Latchem, for Nope, which Charlie has talked about seeing on a previous episode. It was a symbolism-heavy knockout by auteur director Jordan Peele, and while Charlie wasn’t quite as impressed with it as he was with Get Out, after thinking about it for a few weeks since initially seeing it he has concluded it was an excellent movie. On the opposite end of the spectrum, at the box office the No. 1 movie was Black Adam, leading the theatrical take for its second week of release, followed by an assortment of horror movies keeping in spirit with the Halloween season.

Jordan Peele’s ‘Nope’ Available for Digital Purchase Sept. 20, on Disc Oct. 25

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment will release filmmaker Jordan Peele’s latest thriller, Nope, for digital purchase starting Sept. 20, followed by a Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release Oct. 25.

The film has been available for premium VOD rental since late August.

Written by, produced by and directed by Peele, Nope stars Daniel Kaluuya as a Hollywood animal wrangler, who along with his sister (Keke Palmer) start observing unexplained phenomena on their vast Southern California ranch. With the help of a neighbor and former child star turned family theme park ringmaster (Steven Yeun), they attempt to capture the mystery on camera, but chasing the spectacle could bring terrifying consequences. The result is a complex social thriller that unpacks the seeds of violence, risk and opportunism that are inseparable from the romanticized history of the American West and show business.

The cast also includes Michael Wincott and Brandon Perea.

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The film earned $122.2 million at the domestic box office.

Disc extras include deleted scenes, a gag reel, and the featurettes “Call Him Jean Jacket,” about a mysterious entity in the film, and “Mystery Man of Muybridge,” a deep dive into “Eadweard Muybridge’s “The Horse in Motion” and how it relates to the story of Nope.

The Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray editions will also include the 56-minute behind-the-scenes documentary “Shadows: The Making of Nope.”

This Week’s MPN Podcast: ‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture — Director’s Cut,’ ‘Star Trek: The Original Motion Picture 6-Movie Collection’ Reviews; Box Office Recap

On this week’s episode of the Media Play News podcast, hosts Charles Parkman and Charlie Showley cover the special releases of some classic “Star Trek” flicks, all starring the original cast of the first “Star Trek” TV series. For the first time, every theatrical “Star Trek” release has been remastered in 4K and brought to physical discs with unique special features, designs, and bonuses included in the box sets, all detailed by reviewer John Latchem. The hosts’ preferences may lean closer to “Star Wars” than “Star Trek,” but they still share some fun anecdotes about the series.
 
Afterward, Charles and Charlie cover the close of an extremely weak August box office, which had significantly lower ticket sales than August 2019. Charlie complains there’s almost nothing he’s interested in seeing in spite of Jordan Peele’s Nope still available in theaters, and “House of the Dragon” being renewed for a second season after its pilot pulled 20 million viewers since its debut.

This Week’s Podcast: ‘Dual,’ ‘South Park’ Reviews; Weekend Box Office Report

On this week’s episode of the Media Play News podcast, hosts Charles Parkman and Charlie Showley cover the sleeper sci-fi film Dual, starring Karen Gillan and Aaron Paul. Gillan plays two parts simultaneously, the protagonist of the movie and the clone of said protagonist. It’s an interesting premise that didn’t get much attention when it was originally released. Following up is a review of both parts of South Park: The Streaming Wars, which touches (or beats the viewer over the head with) the absurdity of studios creating content for multiple streaming platforms. In typical South Park fashion, it’s done in hilarious and creative ways. (Both reviews are written by John Latchem.)
 
Lastly, in the weekend box office numbers, Jordan Peele’s third film, Nope, debuted in the No. 1 spot, the first film to unseat Thor: Love and Thunder as the weekend’s top grossing feature
 
Keep an eye on the podcast feed for our upcoming special report from 2022’s Comic-Con!

Universal Pictures’ ‘Nope’ Follows Script With $44 Million Opening Box Office Weekend

Universal Pictures’ sci-fi thriller Nope, from director Jordan Peele, lived up to expectations, generating an estimated $44 million across more than 3,700 North American screens through July 24.

The movie about Hollywood brother/sister stunt performers (played by Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer) who are menaced by a UFO, among other challenges, marks Peele’s third No. 1 theatrical opening following his breakout hit Get Out in 2017 (also starring Kaluuya) and 2019’s Us.

With that success come rising production budgets and tougher profit margins for the Universal. Get Out and Us had reported production budgets of $4.5 million and $20 million, respectively, while Nope had a production budget of $68 million.

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Meanwhile, Disney/Marvel Studios’ Thor: Love and Thunder added $22.1 million in the No. 2 spot to send the superhero movie’s global revenue past $600 million mark after three weeks of release. Universal/Illumination’s Minions: The Rise of Gru generated another $17.7 million in ticket sales in No. 3 to bring its global haul past $640 million after four weeks.

Rounding out the top five were Sony 3000 Pictures’ drama Where the Crawdads Sing with $10.3 million, to bring its 10-day theatrical tally past $38 million. Finally, Paramount Pictures’ unwavering Top Gun: Maverick saw its North American ticket sales top $635 million and $1.28 billion globally.

Season Two of CBS All Access’ ‘Twilight Zone’ Arrives on DVD Jan. 12

CBS and Paramount Home Entertainment will release season two of streaming service CBS All Access’ reboot of anthology sci-fi/horror series “The Twilight Zone” on DVD Jan. 12.

Based on the classic series created by Rod Sterling, the updated version is hosted by Jordan Peele and features guest stars such as Kumail Nanjiani, Seth Rogen, Tracy Morgan, John Cho, Zazie Beatz and more.

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CBS Home Entertainment tweeted that a manufacture-on-demand Blu-ray of the season will be available at a later date.

‘Lovecraft Country’ Top Rising Show, ‘Lucifer’ Top Binge on TV Time Charts

HBO’s “Lovecraft Country” was the top rising show, while Netflix’s “Lucifer” was the top binge on the TV Time charts for the week ended Aug. 23.

The horror drama series “Lovecraft Country,” a Jordan Peele/J.J. Abrams collaboration based on the 2016 novel, debuted Aug. 16. In the series, Atticus Black joins his friend Letitia and his Uncle George to embark on a road trip across 1950s Jim Crow America in search of his missing father.

Season five of top binge “Lucifer” hit Netflix Aug. 21. The fantasy series, which follows Lucifer’s exploits on Earth, also took the No. 2 spot on the “Shows on the Rise” chart.

No. 3 rising show “Teenage Bounty Hunters,” which debuted on Netflix Aug. 14, follows 16-year-old fraternal twin sisters Sterling and Blair. Rebelling against their buttoned-up Southern community, they team up with veteran bounty hunter Bowser Jenkins and dive into the world of bail-skipping baddies and suburban secrets while trying to navigate high school drama.

“The Umbrella Academy,” the second season of which hit screens July 31, dropped to No. 2 on the binge chart after three weeks at No. 1. The series, based on the comic books of the same name, follows a group of superheroes adopted at birth by a mysterious billionaire who face the end of the world. As season two begins, the time jump scatters the siblings in time in and around Dallas over a three-year period starting in 1960.

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TV Time is a free TV viewership tracking app that tracks consumers’ viewing habits worldwide and is visited by more than 1 million consumers every day, according to the service. The weekly “Binge Report” ranks shows with the most binge sessions. A binge session is when four or more episodes of a show are watched and tracked in the app in a given day. The “Shows on the Rise” chart is calculated by determining the week-over-week growth in episodes watched for a given program. The network displayed is the network where the show first aired (e.g. “Friends” on NBC).

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 Top Binge Shows Week Ended Aug. 23 by Share of Binges:

  1. “Lucifer” (Netflix) — 9.31%
  2. “The Umbrella Academy” (Netflix) — 3.39%
  3. “Modern Family” (ABC) — 2.15%
  4. “The Office” U.S. (NBC) — 1.39%
  5. “Friends” (NBC) — 1.37%
  6. “One Piece” (Fuji TV) — 1.21%
  7. “Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC) — 1.18%
  8. “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (NBC) — 1.04%
  9. “Good Girls” (NBC) — 0.98%
  10. “The Rain” (Netflix) — 0.98%

 

Top “Shows on the Rise” Week Ended Aug. 23 by Rise Ratio:

  1. “Lovecraft Country” (HBO) — 99.9%
  2. “Lucifer” (Netflix) — 84%
  3. “Teenage Bounty Hunters” (Netflix) — 62.5%
  4. “Dirty John” (Bravo) — 42.5%
  5. “Glow Up: Britain’s Next Make-Up Star” (BBC Three) — 39.4%
  6. “It’s Okay to Not Be Okay” (TVN) — 32.6%
  7. “The Legend of Korra” (Nickelodeon) — 29.9%
  8. “One Tree Hill” (The CW) — 24.4%
  9. “3%” (Netflix) — 23.3%
  10. “The Crown” (Netflix) — 15.7%

Universal Q4 Home Entertainment Revenue Drops

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment Jan. 23 reported fourth-quarter (ended Dec. 31, 2019) revenue of $276 million, which was down 12.4% from revenue of $315 million in the previous-year period.

After a promising start to the fiscal year, the home entertainment studio saw fiscal declines in Q3 and Q4 to end the year with $957 million in revenue, compared with $1.05 billion in 2018.

The studio’s top DVD/Blu-ray Disc release in 2019 was DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.

Overall, it was a disappointing year for Universal Pictures. Filmed-entertainment Q4 revenue decreased 21% to $1.6 billion, primarily reflecting lower theatrical revenue.

Indeed, box office revenue plunged 59.1%, reflecting the volume and strength of releases in last year’s fourth quarter, including The Grinch and Halloween (where’s Michael Myers when you need him?). Pre-tax earnings fell 48.9% to $91 million in Q4partially offset by lower programming and production costs.

With M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass ($247 million) and Jordan Peele’s Us ($255 million) as top-performing box office releases, Universal Pictures saw 2019 revenue decline 9.2% to $6.5 billion compared to 2018, partially offset by higher content licensing revenue.

Indeed, pre-tax earnings increased 13.5% to $833 million from $734 million in 2018, reflecting lower revenue, more than offset by lower operating expenses.

Reimagined ‘Twilight Zone’ on Blu-ray Feb. 18

Paramount Home Entertainment will release CBS All Access’ reimagined version of “The Twilight Zone” on DVD and Blu-ray Feb. 18.

The Twilight Zone: Season One includes all 10 episodes from the 2019 version of the anthology series.

The remake was developed by Simon Kinberg, Jordan Peele and Marco Ramirez, based on the original 1959 television series created by Rod Serling.

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Peele hosts and narrates tales of science fiction, fantasy and the occult, exploring humanity’s hopes, despairs, prides and prejudices in metaphoric ways.

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Toy Story 4

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street 10/8/19;
Disney;
Animated;
Box Office $433.06 million;
$39.99 Blu-ray/DVD, $44.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘G.’
Voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Tony Hale, Jordan Peele, Keegan-Michael Key, Keanu Reeves, Ally Maki, Joan Cusack, Bonnie Hunt, Kristen Schaal, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Blake Clark, June Squibb, Carl Weathers, Jeff Garlin.

While the prospect of a fourth “Toy Story” movie was exciting news for fans of the franchise, there were some questions about whether the adventures of Woody, Buzz and the gang might have run their course. After all, the third movie from 2010 was an emotional rollercoaster that seemed to provide a decent, if bittersweet, sense of closure for the characters.

Of course, the question about what stories were left to tell had already been answered long before the fourth movie was announced, not only through three short films, but also two half-hour television specials. So, yeah, there’s more than enough material to mine.

There would still be the challenge of making any new film feel like an event worthy of the franchise. The movies should at least be somewhat transformational, redefining the status quo of the characters beyond what can be accomplished in a short film.

Well, the team at Pixar Animation Studios certainly achieved that goal, and then some. Toy Story 4 isn’t the best film in the franchise, but it might be the most cathartic. Where the previous film was a bit of a gut punch, this one offers more of a natural progression for the characters.

After a flashback that shows how Woody’s love interest, Bo Peep (Annie Potts) was given away (mentioned in Toy Story 3), we check in to see how the toys are doing with their new owner, Bonnie. While she exhibits a rich imagination, she tends to leave Woody (Tom Hanks) sidelined, leaving him to wonder what his place in her life is.

Bonnie then creates a new toy, named Forky (Tony Hale), out of trash at school, and when he would rather return to the garbage than play with Bonnie, Woody assigns himself the task of educating the new toy and making sure he’s available for her. Woody’s task gets more complicated when Forky manages to jump out of the RV on a family road trip. In retrieving him, Woody comes across an antique shop and reunites with Bo. But Forky is captured by a doll at the shop who wants to trade him for Woody’s pull-string voice box to replace her own defective one, hoping the fix will help entice a kid to want to play with her.

Bo, on the other hand, presents another option for life as a toy: roaming free, with no owner, never worrying about being played with or not and determining her own fate. Meanwhile, Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) sets out on a mission to find Woody, bolstered by a hilarious running gag of him activating his own voice feature so he can get advice from his “inner voice.”

So, yes, the movie does return to the “recover a lost character” motif that has been a staple of the franchise (and, indeed, most Pixar films), putting a few new spins on the formula along the way. The antique shop and a nearby carnival are wonderful settings for toy-level adventures with inventive new characters, such as Canadian motorcycle-jumping daredevil Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves), and a pair of game-prize plushes voiced by Key & Peele.

The only area of concern, really, is that each passing movie runs the risk of potentially piercing the suspension of disbelief about the toys being alive, which some of the characters actually joke about in this one. One need to simply look no further to the living vehicles of the world of “Cars” to see how much such questions can distract, and detract, from the narrative.

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The “Toy Story” movies have all been visual marvels, and the fourth one is no exception, advancing the state of CGI to render fantastic textures and details on the toys and their environments. The carnival offers a great excuse for bright colors and warm lights, while the antique shop provides a trove of subtle references.

The Blu-ray is loaded with a lot of great behind-the-scenes material, including an insightful feature-length commentary track by director Josh Cooley and producer Mark Nielsen in which they discuss all sorts of challenges to crafting a fourth “Toy Story” film.

Some of the more pivotal sequences get their own callout in the form of “Anatomy of a Scene” videos in which the filmmakers discuss and joke about making them. The disc includes a nine-and-a-half-minute look at the playground scene, while a seven-minute deconstruction of the prologue serves as a digital exclusive.

The disc also includes 28 minutes of deleted scenes, still in storyboard form, that show some of the unused concepts for the film, including an unused ending that would have pretty much negated the film’s message of finding your own place in the world.

The digital version of the film includes an additional seven-minute alternate opening sequence depicting Bonnie’s playtime fantasy using the toys.

The various featurettes included offer interesting glimpses of the production with the usual interviews with cast members and filmmakers, but often show them interacting in ways not typically presented in such videos.

There is a six-minute “Bo Rebooted” video about how Bo’s character was expanded into a major role for the film. Another, three-and-a-half-minute piece, spotlights the relationship between Woody and Buzz.

The new characters are shown off in a series of “Toy Box” videos that run 13 minutes, while an additional six-minute featurette focuses on new castmember Ally Maki and her pint-sized character.

One of the more nostalgia-infused featurettes is a five-and-a-half-minute “Toy Stories” piece in which several of the cast and crew recall the toys they played with as children.

Among some of the more random video bits are a few minutes of animation showing off the carnival and the antique shop roof from the toys’ perspectives, plus a series of promotional videos including character vignettes and trailers from around the world.

Some digital retailers, such as Vudu, also offer a two-and-a-half-minute “Toy Story Rewind” video in which the cast and crew reflect on the previous movies.