‘The Upside’ to Bow on Digital May 14, Disc May 21 From Universal

The buddy comedy The Upside, starring Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston, will come out on digital May 14 and on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and on demand May 21 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film follows a discouraged out-of-work ex-con (Hart) and a wealthy quadriplegic (Cranston) who unexpectedly come together and help each other bring back their zest for life. The supporting cast includes Nicole Kidman, Golshifteh Farahani, Julianna Margulies, Aja Naomi King and Tate Donovan.

The film earned $106.2 million in theaters.

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Bonus features include deleted scenes; a gag reel; “Onscreen Chemistry: Kevin and Bryan,” in which Hart and Cranston talk about their unique characters and working together; “Creating a Story of Possibility ,” in which Hart and Cranston share insight on how their characters come together; “Bridging Divisions,” in which director Neil Burger and Hart talk about how two very different people find common ground through compassion for each other; “Embracing Positivity,” in which Hart and Cranston open up about positive messages in the film and the power of hope, love, and friendship; “Presenting a Different Side of Kevin Hart,” in which Burger, Hart and Cranston discuss Hart’s role; and the theatrical trailer.

Cinedigm Launching Comedy Streaming Video Service

Cinedigm March 12 announced a partnership with Comedy Dynamics to launch and distribute their over-the-top video branded Comedy Dynamics Network.

Cinedigm Digital Networks will provide digital distribution of the channel, including third-party platforms, a-la-carte licensing, and a live linear channel.

The Los Angeles-based home entertainment distributor said its networks platform affords Comedy Dynamics the ability to launch both as an ad-supported VOD and SVOD service across mobile devices, connected TVs, and set-top boxes.

The linear channel is slated to roll-out in the spring showcasing Comedy Dynamics’ library of performers, including Jim Gaffigan, Kevin Hart, Ali Wong, Tiffany Haddish, Bill Hicks, D.L. Hughley and Sam Kinison, among others.

“This is an exciting time for comedy, as people are accessing it and demanding it like never before,” Erick Opeka, president of Cinedigm Digital Networks, said in a statement. “The stand-up medium is the perfect complement to the digital realm, providing incredible opportunities for both short-form and long-form content that viewers can enjoy whether they’re at home or on the go.”

Indeed, while Netflix is spending lavishly on stand-up specials featuring Hart (bowing April 2), Ellen DeGeneres, Chris Rock, Hasan Minhaj and Amy Schumer, among others, standalone comedy remains a tough sell.

NBC Universal in 2016 shuttered standalone $3.99 monthly comedy streaming service Seeso, while the Lionsgate/Hart OTT collaboration – Laugh Out Loud – tries to get its footing since bowing in 2017.

Regardless, Comedy Dynamics CEO Brian Volk-Weiss contends there exists a global streaming audience for comedy.

“We want to be everywhere the audience is,” he said.

 

DEW Speakers: Authenticity, Accessibility Key to Marketing Content

Authenticity and accessibility were two of the top themes for speakers on the “View From the Top: The Future of Content Marketing” panel at the Digital Entertainment World conference in Marina del Rey, Calif., Feb. 5.

“We’re in a very admirable position in that our content, movies, movie trailers, people view it as a form of entertainment,” said Sandro Corsaro, SVP and chief creative officer, Fandango. “Not many people here would watch three or four car commercials for entertainment, but people love trailers.”

He noted how entertainment has a natural viral nature.

“Our influencers, if you will, if you look at Chris Pratt on Instagram yesterday or the day before, he posted about The Lego Movie 2, he posted about the Rotten Tomato score (Rotten Tomatoes is a sister company to Fandango) and that pushed to Fandango,” he said. “We don’t pay him to do that. We don’t tell him to do that. He has a vested interest obviously in the success of the content, so we’re fortunate in that sense.”

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Fandango also uses branded marketing.

“We had a program over the summer called Fanticipation with Microsoft Surface where we had a bunch of influencers get together and talk about movies using the Surface Pro to kind of diagram and design and talk about superhero movies,” he said.

Both instances involve authenticity and accessibility that make the campaigns more relevant for digital audiences.

“The expression of authenticity and the expression of accessibility through content marketing — those are the core tenets that we think of all the time when we talk about movies,” Corsaro said.

Kym Nelson, SVP of Twitch, noted that the gameplay live streaming service is one that tends to “resonate with Gen Z and the millennial audience, and [advertisers] recognize that that is their current and future consumer.”

Twitch has gathered those streamers into a force that brands can utilize.

“We’ve created a tool that automates the ability for all of our streamers to participate in a bounty if you will and we’re able to collect data on the backend and for any data we can match the information from the brand and the information from the streamers,” she said.

For instance, with Dollar Shave Club, Twitch utilized appropriate streamers to review and talk about the product. “We had them play with it and we knew it was a roll of the dice,” Nelson said.

Suffice it to say, there were unexpected streamed responses.

“They are laugh out loud funny,” offered Russell Arons, SVP and GM of Machinima.

Fandango, too, has been able to leverage comedy.

“Kevin Hart has been obviously on this meteoric rise,” noted Corsaro. “I think he’s what 135 pounds so we made him a belt that said, ‘Pound for Pound, Biggest Movie Star in the World.’ We gave him that belt in front of the Rock and we kind of watched it matriculate on the Internet.”

Authenticity, often proffered by comedy, is not the only thing marketing in the digital age requires; accessibility is also important.

“Experiential is the thing right now,” said Arons, referencing events such as Comic-con and the interaction with fans there.

“This desire to find their communities in person that they’ve been interacting with online is incredibly powerful,” she said.

Twitch’s Nelson added that “integrating [experiential] with a live stream platform so that that experiential experience can be broadcast to a wider audience so people in Mississippi, who may not be at Comic-con or South by Southwest, have that live experience [is also important].”

Tim Sovay, COO of CreatorIQ, noted the Feb. 1 event featuring DJ Marshmello and the Fortnite game platform.

“There was no brand involved in this, but it was just the power of the platform with the right artist and the right audience,” he said. “10 million confirmed viewers on a 10-minute concert took place live on the platform.”

Kevin Hart-Starring ‘Night School’ Scores Double Win at Redbox

Universal Pictures’ Night School scored a double win at Redbox in the first week of the new year.

The Kevin Hart-starring comedy, which earned $77.3 million in North American theaters, remained at No. 1 for the second consecutive week on the Redbox kiosk chart, which tracks DVD and Blu-ray Disc rentals at the company’s more than 40,000 red vending machines.

The film also knocked Sony Pictures’ Venom out of the No. 1 spot on the Redbox On Demand chart, which tracks transactional video-on-demand (TVOD), both electronic sellthrough (EST) and transactional streaming.

Venom, a superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name, was No. 2 on both charts.

Night School’s lingering popularity might be due in part to the controversy surrounding Hart, who in December was briefly tapped to host the 2019 Academy Awards. After being blasted for homophobic jokes and tweets he made more than eight years ago, the Academy asked him to apologize; he ultimately stepped down as host.

In Night School, Hart portrays a successful salesman who sees his life turned around after getting fired for accidentally destroying his workplace. Forced to attend night school so he can finally get his GED and find another job, he soon finds himself amongst a group of misfit students, a teacher with no patience for class clowns (Tiffany Haddish) and his high school nemesis-turned-principal (Taran Killam) who will strive to make sure he fails the course.

Universal Pictures’ The House With a Clock in its Walls, a family fantasy about a young boy who is sent to live with his uncle in a spooky old house, moved back up to No. 3 on both charts from No. 5 the prior week.

The Sony Pictures revenge thriller sequel Equalizer 2 remained at No. 4 on both charts for the second consecutive week.

Rounding out the top five on the Redbox disc-rental chart was The Predator, from 20th Century Fox, down two spots from its No. 3 debut the prior week.

The No. 5 spot on the Redbox digital chart went to Lionsgate’s A Simple Favor, also down from No. 3 the previous week.

The sole new release to chart at Redbox the week that ended Jan. 6 was A-X-L, a science-fiction adventure from Global Road Entertainment that debuted on the kiosk chart only at No. 10. The film only earned $8.2 million in domestic theaters against a reported budget of $10 million.

 

Top DVD and Blu-ray Disc Rentals, Redbox Kiosks, Week Ending January 6

  1. Night School
  2. Venom
  3. The House With a Clock in its Walls
  4. The Equalizer 2
  5. The Predator
  6. White Boy Rick
  7. Peppermint
  8. Smallfoot
  9. A Simple Favor
  10. A-X-L (new)

 

Top Digital, Redbox On Demand, Week Ending January 6

  1. Night School
  2. Venom
  3. The House With a Clock in its Walls
  4. The Equalizer 2
  5. A Simple Favor
  6. Mission: Impossible – Fallout
  7. Peppermint
  8. White Boy Rick
  9. Smallfoot
  10. The Predator

 

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Buy or rent Redbox On Demand movies

‘Night School,’ ‘Venom’ Top Redbox Charts

It was a split decision at Redbox the week ended Dec. 30.

Universal Pictures’ Night School, a comedy starring Kevin Hart that earned $77.3 million in North American theaters, debuted at No. 1 on the Redbox kiosk chart, which tracks DVD and Blu-ray Disc rentals at the company’s more than 40,000 red vending machines.

Sony Pictures’ Venom, a superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name, remained on top of the Redbox On Demand chart for the second consecutive week. The Redbox On Demand chart tracks transactional video-on-demand (TVOD), both electronic sellthrough (EST) and transactional streaming.

Night School debuted at No. 2 on the Redbox On Demand chart. In the film, a successful salesman (Hart) sees his life turned around after getting fired for accidentally destroying his workplace. Forced to attend night school so he can finally get his GED and find another job, he soon finds himself amongst a group of misfit students, a teacher with no patience for class clowns (Tiffany Haddish) and his high school nemesis-turned-principal (Taran Killam) who will strive to make sure he fails the course.

Venom, with a domestic gross of $213 million 2018’s No. 10 movie, slipped to No. 2 on the Redbox disc-rental chart its second week in kiosks.

The Predator, from 20th Century Fox, debuted at No. 3 on the Redbox kiosk chart while slipping to No. 7 from No. 6 the prior week on the Redbox On Demand chart.

Rounding out the top five on the Redbox disc-rental chart were the Sony Pictures revenge thriller The Equalizer 2 at No. 4, down from No. 3 the prior week, and Universal Pictures’ The House With a Clock in its Walls at No. 5. The latter, a family fantasy about a young boy who is sent to live with his uncle in a spooky old house, had debuted at No. 2 the previous week.

Another new release, Sony Pictures’ White Boy Rick, debuted at No. 7 on the kiosk chart. The film, a biographical crime drama about the youngest-ever FBI informant, earned $24 million in theaters after debuting at the Telluride Film Festival.

On the Redbox On Demand digital chart, Lionsgate’s A Simple Favor, a black comedy about a vlogger who tries to solve the disappearance of her rich and mysterious best friend, slipped to No. 3 after bowing at No. 2 the prior week.

The Equalizer 2 finished the week at No. 4 followed at No. 5 by The House With a Clock in its Walls. Both films slipped a spot from the prior week.

White Boy Rick came in at No. 6 on the Redbox On Demand digital chart.

 

Top DVD and Blu-ray Disc Rentals, Redbox Kiosks, Week Ending December 30

  1. Night School (new)
  2. Venom
  3. The Predator (new)
  4. The Equalizer 2
  5. The House With a Clock in its Walls
  6. Smallfoot
  7. White Boy Rick (new)
  8. Peppermint
  9. A Simple Favor
  10. Mission: Impossible – Fallout

 

Top Digital, Redbox On Demand, Week Ending December 30

  1. Venom
  2. Night School
  3. A Simple Favor
  4. The Equalizer 2
  5. The House With a Clock in its Walls
  6. White Boy Rick
  7. Peppermint
  8. The Predator
  9. Mission: Impossible – Fallout
  10. Smallfoot

 

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Buy or rent Redbox On Demand movies

‘Night School’ in Session on Digital Dec. 11, Disc Jan 1 From Universal

The comedy Night School, starring Kevin Hart, will come out on digital (including Movies Anywhere) Dec. 11, on demand Dec. 28, and 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD Jan. 1 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

A successful salesman (Hart, Jumanji, Ride Along 1 & 2) sees his life turned around after getting fired for accidentally destroying his workplace. Forced to attend night school so he can finally get his GED and find another job, he soon finds himself amongst a group of misfit students, a teacher with no patience for class clowns (Tiffany Haddish, Girls Trip, Uncle Drew) and his high school nemesis-turned-principal (Taran Killam, Killing Gunther, Ted 2) who will strive to make sure he fails the course.

The 4K Ultra HD release will be available in a combo pack with Blu-ray and digital. Bonus features on 4K Ultra HD include an extended cut and gag reel. Bonus Features on Blu-ray and digital include an extended cut, an alternate opening, deleted scenes, a gag reel and several features:

  • “Night School’sin Session,” introducing the band of misfits;
  • “Who’s the Student? Who’s the Teacher?,”in which Hart and Haddish discuss their long friendship;
  • “Prom Night Revisited,” in which the cast looks back at their own high school proms;
  • “Cap ‘n Gown ‘n Giggles,” about Hart’s graduation speech turned comedy show;
  • “Making of the Dance Battle,” about the dance rehearsal for the prom night dance battle;
  • “Christian Chicken,” a never-before-seen Christian Chicken commercial;
  • “Game Over,” in which Hart joins castmates Yvonne Orji and Megalyn Echikunwoke discuss the complicated relationship between Maya and Teddy; and
  • “Extended Performance ‘El Sueno,’” an extended version of Luis’s original “El Sueno.”

Bonus features on DVD include an extended cut, alternate opening and deleted scenes.

All releases include feature commentary with director Malcom D. Lee.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street 3/20/18;
Sony Pictures;
Adventure Comedy;
Box Office $400.25 million;
$30.99 DVD, $34.99 Blu-ray, $45.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for adventure action, suggestive content and some language.
Stars Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas, Bobby Cannavale, Rhys Darby, Alex Wolff, Madison Iseman, Ser’Darius Blain, Morgan Turner.

Whatever misgivings may have emerged over the idea of a follow-up to the 1995 family fantasy Jumanji are quickly dispelled by a very funny sequel that pays homage to the original but shows impressive confidence in its own interpretation of the source material.

The first film, based on the children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg, featured the creatures of a mystical jungle-themed board game breaking into the real world, freeing a man, played by the late Robin Williams, who had been trapped in the game since he was a boy.

The new film throws some clever nods to the original while using the premise to poke fun at Indiana Jones-type adventure films. With the game’s attempts to allure a new player faltering amid a modern generation uninterested in board games, it converts itself into a video game. Eventually, a group of high school students encounter it in storage and start to play, getting sucked into the jungle world of the game.

Unlike in the first film, though, where the trapped players went in as themselves, Jumanji 2.0 puts the kids’ personalities into the avatars of the playable game characters, allowing the main cast to earn the credibility of playing the kinds of roles that usually would be associated with them while being forced act against those types.

So Dwayne Johnson plays the main hero, but has the mind of an insecure teenager. Kevin Hart is his diminutive sidekick, but controlled by an alpha-male jock. Karen Gillan is a warrior inhabited by a meek academic. And Jack Black plays a professor who, thanks to a misinterpretation of the character’s name, becomes inhabited by a self-centered, social media-obsessed teenage girl.

It’s essentially a body-switch movie without the cliché of an actual body switch. The main foursome turn out to be a perfectly matched team, oozing with chemistry to spare and milking almost every possible laugh to be had from the set-up. It’s a perfect example of a director, Jake Kasdan in this case, just putting his cast in the field and letting them do their thing. Also lurking around are Nick Jonas as a pilot needed for the later levels, and Bobby Cannavale as the slimy treasure hunter and the main villain of the game.

The script cleverly takes advantage of the rules of video gaming to advance the story, which sets the characters off on a quest to restore a large jewel to a sacred statue before the bad guys can steal it. Success means they will have rescued the land from evil forces and will be sent home. So, in addition to the Indiana Jones element, the film throws in a subtle Wizard of Oz vibe for good measure. There are moments in Henry Jackman’s boisterous musical score in which its seems to echo the famed “Over the Rainbow” refrain in the midst of perfectly establishing the adventurous spirit meant to be evoked by the jungle setting.

Even the side characters get in on the fun, with New Zealand comedian Rhys Darby turning in a brief but stand-out performance as the game’s charming narrator and primary contact for the heroes.

Interestingly, the 1990s cartoon based on the first film was also set mostly in the game’s jungle, but otherwise didn’t follow what was established in the movie, from what I can tell. Mill Creek recently put out a DVD of the complete series if you want to check it out.

As for Welcome to the Jungle, the Blu-ray bonus materials managed to absorb some of the sense of fun that clearly couldn’t be contained by the film itself. The best evidence of this is when Darby shows up, in character, to introduce the segments of the 15-minute making of featurette.

Three more featurettes, running about 15 mintues total, focus on the cast, the stunts and the visual effects. There’s also a five-minute segment that reflects on the spirit of the original film, and how the filmmakers wanted to preserve that in the sequel in order to honor Williams’ legacy. (Though, it should be pointed out, there’s no need to have had seen the first film to enjoy this one.)

Rounding out the extras are a couple more detours into humor, led by a three-and-a-half-minute gag reel. But the best is a two-and-a-half premiere of the music video for the film’s “theme song” by Black and Jonas, the two musicians of the pack, whose bizarre tribute to their characters elicits hilarious bewilderment from their co-stars.

‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’ on Home Video in March

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will release the runaway hit Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle on Digital HD March 6 and on DVD, Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray March 20.

A follow-up to the 1995 film Jumanji based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg about a board game come to life, Welcome to the Jungle stars Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart and Karen Gillan as the avatars of four teenagers who are sucked into a video game version of the Jumanji board game and must work together to beat the game and return home. The film also stars Nick Jonas and Bobby Cannavale.

The film has earned more than $355 million at the domestic box office and more than $860 million worldwide.

The DVD and Blu-ray packaging for Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle will feature an augmented reality experience that fans can unlock in stores by scanning the Snapcode with their Snapchat app to bring the jungle to life in front of them. An additional Snapcode to bring the characters to life will be available on an insert inside the package exclusively for those who buy the disc. These AR features can be recorded and shared via social media.

Bonus materials with the DVD, Blu-ray and digital versions include a gag reel; “Jumanji, Jumanji” Music Video by Jack Black and Nick Jonas; and the featurettes “Journey Through The Jungle: The Making of Jumanji,” “Meet the Players: A Heroic Cast” and “Attack of the Rhinos!”

The Blu-ray and digital versions will include two additional featurettes: “Surviving the Jungle: Spectacular Stunts!” and “Book to Board Game to Big Screen & Beyond! Celebrating The Legacy of Jumanji.”

The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray offers the film with Dolby Vision high dynamic range and Dolby Atmos sound.