Horror Film ‘Midsommar’ Due on Digital Sept. 24 From A24, Disc Oct. 8 From Lionsgate

The sun-soaked horror film Midsommar, from director Ari Aster (Hereditary), is coming on digital and on demand Sept. 24 from A24, and on Blu-ray combo pack (plus DVD and digital) and DVD Oct. 8 from Lionsgate.

The film stars Florence Pugh as a young woman who, after a family tragedy, reluctantly joins her boyfriend on a summer trip to a remote Swedish village for a midsummer festival, which becomes more and more sinister as the days pass. What begins as a carefree summer holiday takes a turn when the insular villagers invite their guests to partake in festivities that grow increasingly unnerving and viscerally disturbing.

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The film, which made $25.9 million at the domestic box office, also stars Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper and Will Poulter.

Disc special features include a making-of featurette, offering insight into Aster’s vision.

‘Apocalypse Now Final Cut’ Screening

Lionsgate held a screening for Apocalypse Now Final Cut to mark the 40th anniversary of the war film at ArcLight Cinemas Cinerama Dome in Hollywood Aug. 12. Apocalypse Now Final Cut will be released in select Imax theaters Aug. 15 and 18, followed by region­al theaters Aug. 23 from NAGRA myCinema, and on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack (two 4K discs, four Blu-ray discs and a digital copy) and digital 4K Ultra HD (for the first time ever) Aug. 27 featuring new special features from Li­onsgate.

(L-R): Glenn Morten, VP of strategy and solutions at Nagra myCinema; actor Martin Sheen; director Francis Ford Coppola; and Lionsgate president of worldwide home entertainment Ron Schwartz. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images)

Dolph Lundgren’s ‘The Tracker’ Hits DVD, Blu-ray Disc, Digital on Sept. 24

Lionsgate Sept. 24 will release the Dolph Lundgren action film The Tracker on Blu-ray Disc (with digital copy), DVD and digitally.

The revenge thriller is currently available on demand.

Lundgren stars as a troubled warrior who returns home to solve the mystery of his family’s murder — and punish those he finds guilty. The Tracker will be available for the suggested retail price of $21.99 (Blu-ray) and $19.98 (DVD).

Lundgren portrays Aiden, whose wife and daughter  were abducted and killed during a vacation. A decade later, a detective with new evidence calls Aiden to the scene of the crime — but Aiden arrives to find the cop murdered and the police refusing to help. Now, Aiden must use his skills as a sniper and warrior to unravel the vast conspiracy behind his loved ones’ murders.

‘Apocalypse Now’ 40 Years Later

The acclaimed Vietnam War epic Apocalypse Now has been a saga in more ways than one, plagued by a change of lead ac­tors from Harvey Keitel to Mar­tin Sheen, a typhoon in the Phil­ippines and Sheen’s heart attack during filming, critical and skeptical press, and multiple edits.

But this month for its 40th anniversary director Francis Ford Coppola re­leases what he considers his “final cut.”

Apocalypse Now Final Cut will be released in select Imax theaters Aug. 15 and 18, followed by region­al theaters Aug. 23 from NAGRA myCinema, and on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack (two 4K discs, four Blu-ray discs and a digital copy) and digital 4K Ultra HD (for the first time ever) Aug. 27 featuring new special features from Li­onsgate. The release includes Dolby Vision HDR and Dol­by Atmos audio. In addition, the film has been enhanced with Meyer Sound Labo­ratories’ newly developed Sensual Sound, a technology engineered to output audio below the limits of human hearing. It’s all to realize the best version of the film. “A lot of the things that we did to truncate the movie I put back in this version,” said Coppola in a Q&A shot at the Tribeca Film Festival in April with director Steven Soder­bergh that is part of the extras.

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As for the problems that beset the production, doc­umented in the award-winning Hearts of Darkness (also included in the extras with footage shot during filming by Coppola’s wife, Eleanor), Coppola told So­derbergh, “In filmmaking and in life, extraordinary things happen to you, and it’s up to you to make them be positive.”

Brando

Restored from the original negative for the first time ever, Apocalypse Now Fi­nal Cut is Coppola’s most realized version of the film, which was nominated for eight Academy Awards, won three Golden Globes and is one of AFI’s top 100 films. Starring Sheen, Marlon Bran­do, Robert Duvall, Dennis Hop­per, Laurence Fishburne and Harrison Ford, the war epic, in­spired by Joseph Conrad’s story Heart of Darkness, follows Army Capt. Willard (Sheen), a trou­bled man sent on a dangerous odyssey into Cambodia to assassi­nate a renegade American colonel named Kurtz (Brando), who has succumbed to the horrors of war and barricaded himself in a remote outpost.

Duvall

“I had this idea to do it like The Guns of Navarone, some extraor­dinary, big World War II movie,” Coppola told Soderbergh. “The irony is that the movie took on its own life, became stranger and more surreal, and in a sense, I think it went in a direction correct for that issue — because the Viet­nam War was very strange.”

The very innovative nature of the film made Coppola cautious and worried. He decided to release a “work in progress” of the film at the Cannes Film Festival to allay critics who were calling it a disas­ter. It ended up winning the Palme d’Or triumph at the festival in 1979 (shared with The Tin Drum).

His caution resulted in a truncated cut of the film that he later expanded in the 2001 release Apocalypse Now Redux. But this is his ultimate cut.

“I realized that I wanted to make a version that I like,” Coppola said in the introduction to Final Cut included in the extras. “It was longer than the 1979 version but shorter than Apocalypse Now Redux, and it’s the one that I recommend to you and it’s the one that is my favorite.”

The 40th anniversary release features multiple archival and new special features, including the film’s theatrical cut and extended cut (Redux), as well as the acclaimed Hearts of Darkness documentary:

 

4K UHD SPECIAL FEATURES

DISC ONE

  • NEW: Introduction to Final Cut by Francis Ford Coppola

 

DISC TWO

  • Audio Commentary by Director Francis Ford Coppola (Apocalypse Now Redux)

 

DISC THREE

  • An Interview with screenwriter John Milius
  • A Conversation with Martin Sheen and Francis Ford Coppola
  • “Fred Roos: Casting Apocalypse” Featurette
  • The Mercury Theatre on the Air: Heart of Darkness – November 6, 1938
  • “The Hollow Men” Featurette
  • Monkey Sampan “Lost Scene”
  • Additional Scenes
  • “Destruction of the Kurtz Compound” End Credits (with Non-Optional Audio Commentary by Francis Ford Coppola)
  • “The Birth of 5.1 Sound” Featurette
  • “Ghost Helicopter Flyover” Sound Effects Demonstration
  • “The Synthesizer Soundtrack” Article by Bob Moog
  • “A Million Feet of Film: The Editing of Apocalypse Now” Featurette
  • “Heard Any Good Movies Lately? The Sound Design of Apocalypse Now” Featurette
  • “The Final Mix” Featurette
  • “2001 Cannes Film Festival: Francis Ford Coppola” Featurette
  • “PBR Streetgang” Featurette
  • “The Color Palette of Apocalypse Now” Featurette
  • Disc Credits

 

DISC FOUR

  • Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse (with Optional Audio Commentary by Francis and Eleanor Coppola)
  • NEW: Tribeca Film Festival Q&A with Francis Ford Coppola and Steven Soderbergh
  • NEW: Super 8mm Behind-the-Scenes Footage
  • NEW: “Dutch Angle: Chas Gerresten & Apocalypse Now” Featurette
  • NEW: “Apocalypse Now: A Forty Year Journey” Featurette
  • NEW: “Sensual Sound Technology from Meyer Sound” Featurette
  • John Milius Script Excerpt with Francis Coppola Notes (Still Gallery)
  • Storyboard Collection
  • Photo Archive

–            Unit Photography

–            Mary Ellen Mark Photography

  • Marketing Archive

–            1979 Teaser Trailer

–            1979 Theatrical Trailer

–            1979 Radio Spots

–            1979 Theatrical Program

–            Lobby Card and Press Kit Photos

–            Poster Gallery

–            Apocalypse Now Redux Trailer

 

DIGITAL SPECIAL FEATURES

  • Audio Commentary by Director Francis Ford Coppola (Apocalypse Now Redux)

Starz Adds 400,000 Q1 Members, Tops 4.4 Million Subs

Starz added 400,000 domestic streaming video subscribers in the first quarter, ended June 30, to finish the period with 4.4 million members since launching in 2012.

It was the $9 monthly Lionsgate-owned OTT video unit’s best-performing quarter in terms of sub growth.

Total Starz sub growth, including pay-TV channels and StarzPlay internationally, increased by 2.6 million to 26.5 million, which includes 24.4 million domestic subs.

As a result of the sub growth, Lionsgate’s Media Networks division increased revenue 4.9% to $372.4 million.

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Segment profit for Starz Networks increased 3.4% to $103.7 million, which was offset by ongoing content investment in StarzPlay.

Indeed, overall Media Networks profit declined to $60.6 million from $88.5 million in the previous-year period due to content costs.

On the fiscal call, Starz COO Jeffrey Hirsch defended the SVOD service’s subscription price as Disney readies less expensive $6.99 Disney+ service on Nov. 12.

“If you look at the history of Starz, we’ve always been a premium, add-on television,” Hirsch said.

Lionsgate’s global expansion of Starz has resulted in the development of an additional 20 episodic programming projects, according to Kevin Beggs, chairman of the media company’s TV group.

Beggs dismissed Netflix’s headline-grabbing mega production deal with “Game of Thrones” creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss, contending Lionsgate doesn’t chase those kinds of deals.

“For writers and directors who are overperforming, there’s always been an unbelievable upside the way we structure our deals,” Beggs said, alluding to Lionsgate’s practice affording content creators with multiple compensation options, including backend unavailable at Netflix’s business model.

Lionsgate Q1 Home Entertainment Revenue Declines

Lionsgate Aug. 8 disclosed it sold $56.4 million in combined DVD/Blu-ray Disc movies in the first quarter, ended June 30. The tally was down 26% from revenue of $76.5 million during the previous-year period.

Sales and rental of digital titles dropped less than 4% to $83.3 million from $86.2 million.

Total motion picture home entertainment revenue dropped about 14% to $139.7 million from $162.7 million last year.

Home entertainment revenue from television content plummeted nearly 60% to $7.3 million from $18.1 million last year.

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Disc revenue topped $1.4 million, down about 23% from $1.8 million. Digital revenue fell almost 64% to $5.9 million from $16.3 million.

Meanwhile, theatrical revenue skyrocketed to $121.8 million from $50.3 million, driven by the box office success of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, which has generated $320 million at the global box office.

“[John Wick] reaffirmed our thesis that mid-priced action films have a valuable place in the market,” CEO Jon Feltheimer said in a statement.

The title’s box office success bodes well for home entertainment.

John Wick 3 is slated for retail digital release on Aug. 23, with packaged media bowing Sept. 10.

‘Long Shot’ Lands at No. 1 on Redbox Disc and Digital Charts

Lionsgate’s Long Shot debuted at No. 1 on Redbox’s kiosk disc rental and On Demand charts the week ended Aug. 4.

The political comedy stars Seth Rogen as a speechwriter hired by a presidential candidate Charlize Theron who used to babysit him.

The Redbox disc rental chart tracks DVD and Blu-ray Disc rentals at the company’s more than 40,000 red kiosks. The Redbox On Demand chart tracks digital transactions, including both electronic sellthrough and streaming rentals.

The Sony Pictures thriller The Intruder debuted at No. 2 on both charts.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment’s Shazam! dropped to No. 3 on both charts.

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The 20th Century Fox sci-fi actioner Alita: Battle Angel slipped to No. 4 on both charts.

Rounding out the top five were Lionsgate’s Hellboy remake on the disc rental chart and Universal’s animated UglyDolls on the On Demand chart.

Top DVD and Blu-ray Disc Rentals, Redbox Kiosks, Week Ended Aug. 4:

  1. Long Shot — Lionsgate
  2. The Intruder — Sony Pictures
  3. Shazam! — Warner
  4. Alita: Battle Angel — Fox
  5. Hellboy (2019) — Lionsgate
  6. UglyDolls — Universal
  7. Breakthrough — Fox
  8. Pet Sematary (2019) Paramount
  9. Little Universal
  10. Dumbo (2019) Disney

 

Top Digital, Redbox On Demand, Week Ended Aug. 4:

  1. Long Shot — Lionsgate
  2. The Intruder — Sony Pictures
  3. Shazam! — Warner
  4. Alita: Battle Angel — Fox
  5. UglyDolls — Universal
  6. Hellboy (2019) — Lionsgate
  7. Breakthrough — Fox
  8. Escape Room — Sony Pictures
  9. Little Universal
  10. Miss Bala (2019) — Sony Pictures

‘John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum’ Shoots to Digital Aug. 23, Disc Sept. 10 Including 4K

John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum arrives on digital Aug. 23 and 4K Ultra HD combo pack (plus Blu-ray and digital), Blu-ray combo pack (plus DVD and digital), DVD, and on demand Sept. 10 from Lionsgate.

The third film in the “John Wick” franchise starring Keanu Reeves earned $169.7 million at the domestic box office.

Chapter 3 also stars Halle Berry, Laurence Fishburne, Marc Dacascos, Asia Kate Dillon, Lance Reddick, Anjelica Huston and Ian McShane. In the film, super assassin John Wick (Reeves) has a $14 million price tag on his head after killing a member of the High Table, the shadowy international assassins’ guild. With an army of the world’s most ruthless hit men and women on his trail, John must find a way to survive.

The 4K UHD includes Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos sound.

The release includes featurettes that explore the mythology and action of the “John Wick” universe; the hidden world of Killer Ballerinas, Shinobi, and the Bowery King; the planning that went into the film’s horse chase sequence and “dog-fu” fight sequences; and the editing with director Chad Stahelski and editor Evan Schiff.

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Special features on the DVD, Blu-ray and digital versions include:

  • “Parabellum: Legacy of the High Table” featurette;
  • “Excommunicado” featurette;
  • two theatrical trailers;
  • John Wick Hex game trailer;
  • “Behind the Scenes of John Wick Hex” featurette.

The digital and Blu-ray versions will also include:

  • “Check Your Sights” featurette;
  • “Saddle Up Wick” featurette;
  • “Bikes, Blades, Bridges, and Bits” featurette;
  • “Continental in the Desert” featurette;
  • “Dog Fu” featurette;
  • “House of Transparency” featurette;
  • “Shot by Shot” featurette.

 

Long Shot

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street Date 7/30/19;
Lionsgate;
Comedy;
Box Office $30.32 million;
$29.95 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for strong sexual content, language throughout and some drug use.
Stars Seth Rogen, Charlize Theron, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Andy Serkis, June Diane Raphael, Lisa Kudrow, Bob Odenkirk, Alexander Skarsgård.

The often crude but usually charming Long Shot reframes the tropes of the romantic comedy by setting them against the backdrop of the arena of American politics, blended with a touch of stoner humor for good measure.

It’s The American President by way of Pineapple Express, as secretary of state and presidential candidate Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron) has a chance encounter with Fred, an opinionated writer (Seth Rogen) she used to babysit, and asks him to join her campaign as a speechwriter. As they grow closer, some of her refinement starts to rub off on him while he helps her loosen up a bit, both in the pharmacological and carnal sense. This leaves the rest of her staff to wonder what the potential relationship could mean for the campaign.

Though set in the political world, the love story doesn’t get bogged down with too many political specifics, which is probably for the best as the political landscape presented in the film doesn’t bear much scrutiny. Then again, the film isn’t aiming for Sorkin levels of verisimilitude here.

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Charlotte is basing her presidential campaign on a major environmental initiative, which Fred likes, but works for an administration that Fred ultimately opposes, with a president (Bob Odenkirk) who used to play a president on a TV show and decides to forgo a second term to cash in his popularity to pursue a film career.

The president will endorse Charlotte to replace him if she doesn’t make too many waves, but his media tycoon buddy (Andy Serkis, unrecognizable in heavy prosthetic makeup) wants to chip away at the effectiveness of her activism. Meanwhile, Charlotte’s chief of staff (June Diane Raphael) wants to set her up with the equally available, but socially awkward, prime minister of Canada (Alexander Skarsgård). The more willing Charlotte is to compromise herself for political expediency, the more Fred is left to wonder where the candidate ends and the woman he may be falling in love with begins.

The satirical look at the broader strokes of the American political system are cute, but let’s face it, the odds of the nation’s chief diplomat getting away with negotiating a hostage crisis while high on Molly are slim to none. So, the only way the movie works is if the audience buys the relationship between Charlotte and Fred, and luckily Rogen and Theron work well together, finding an easygoing chemistry that helps us enjoy their adventures for what they are.

The Blu-ray includes about 100 minutes of behind-the-scenes featurettes that cover everything from the writing to the casting to the wardrobe. The most interesting is an interview with comic book artist Todd McFarlane, who contributes a key piece of art to one of the funniest gags in the film.

Long Shot

Merchandising: ‘Alita’ Joins Exclusives Battle

The new releases of July 23 included a few retail exclusives for Fox’s Alita: Battle Angel and Lionsgate’s Hellboy remake.

Best Buy offered Steelbook editions for the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo packs for both films, with Alita listed at $34.99 and Hellboy at $29.99. The Alita Steelbook, which like the standard-edition 4K included a 3D version of the film, was marked as sold out on the Best Buy website.

Best Buy’s ‘Alita’ UHD/3D BD Steelbook
Best Buy’s ‘Hellboy’ UHD BD Steelbook

Target also offered a Steelbook for Hellboy, packaging the Blu-ray/DVD combo pack in a “limited-edition double-sided Steelbook” for $24.99.

Target’s ‘Hellboy’ BD Steelbook
Target’s ‘Hellboy’ BD Steelbook sides

For Alita, Target packed special versions of the Blu-ray ($22.99) and 4K/3D Blu-ray ($32.99) with a USB-charging wristband that appears to be iPhone compatible.

Target’s ‘Alita’ UHD/3D BD with USB wristband

Walmart sold a limited-edition Alita “Motorball” Blu-ray gift set that included a Funko Pocket Pop! keychain for $29.96.

Walmart’s ‘Alita’ BD with keychain

For the Hellboy Blu-ray combo pack, Walmart offered a digital graphic novel.

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Among preorders, Best Buy is offering a Steelbook 4K UHD Blu-ray boxed set for the first four “Avengers” film for $149.99. Best Buy’s website doesn’t list a release date, although Disney releases Avengers: Endgame on Blu-ray Aug. 13.

Best Buy’s ‘Avengers’ Steelbook boxed set