Hulu Acquires U.S. Rights to ‘Happiest Season’

Streaming service Hulu has acquired U.S. rights to Clea DuVall’s holiday romantic comedy Happiest Season, which will debut as a Hulu Original film on Nov. 25.

Sony Pictures and eOne co-financed the film and will retain distribution rights in Canada and the rest of the world. Overseas plans, including potential theatrical releases, will be finalized in the coming weeks.

The film stars Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Davis, Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza, Daniel Levy, Mary Holland, Burl Moseley, Victor Garber and Mary Steenburgen. In the film, when Abby (Stewart) learns that Harper (Davis) has kept their relationship a secret from her family, she begins to question the girlfriend she thought she knew.

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“This holiday season — more than any other — we could all use a little happiness. It was essential to Sony Pictures and to the filmmakers that Clea’s marvelous and fresh holiday-themed romantic comedy come out when the lights are on the trees,” said Nicole Brown, president of TriStar Pictures, in a statement. “We are excited that Hulu is geared up to make this happen in the U.S. and grateful that they love the movie as much as we do.”

“With its all-star cast and modern storytelling, Happiest Season brings yet another breakthrough film to Hulu that we know our viewers will love,” said Brian Kendig, Hulu director of content acquisition, in a statement. “We are honored to be the streaming home of this fresh and funny romantic comedy that explores love, family and acceptance this holiday season.”

“I am beyond grateful to Hulu for providing an incredible home for Happiest Season, and I’ll forever cherish my journey with Sony Pictures who felt just as strongly as I did about the value of bringing the first major LGBTQ+ holiday rom-com to audiences,” said director/writer DuVall in a statement. “I’m hopeful that this universal story, told through a unique lens, will join the long list of holiday classics that continue to bring all of us so much joy and happiness.”

‘42’ Joins ‘Black Panther’ on ‘Watched at Home’ Chart as Viewers Remember Chadwick Boseman

A second movie starring Chadwick Boseman, Warner’s 42, debuted in the top 10 on the weekly “Watched at Home” chart for the week ended Sept. 5, joining the Disney-distributed Black Panther, which joined the chart the prior week.

Chadwick died of cancer at the age of 43 on Aug. 28. In 42, he portrays baseball great Jackie Robinson; in Black Panther, he plays a Marvel superhero. Coincidentally, Major League Baseball Aug. 28 celebrated Jackie Robinson day, with all players wearing No. 42, which no doubt added exposure to that particular Boseman film.

The weekly Watched at Home chart, which tracks transactional video activity (both digital and on DVD and Blu-ray Disc) compiled from studio and retailer data through DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, saw 42 debut at No. 9. Black Panther, which had been No. 9 a week earlier, rose to No. 6.

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Robin’s Wish, a Vertical Entertainment documentary about the life and death of late comic actor Robin Williams, bowed at No. 16 on the weekly “Watched at Home” chart.

Two films newly released to DVD and Blu-ray Disc, Lionsgate’s action thriller Rogue, with Megan Fox as a battle-hardened mercenary, and the political satire Irresistible, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, also appear on the chart for the first time.

Rogue (No. 12) finds Samantha O’Hara (Fox) leading a team of soldiers-for-hire on a daring mission to rescue hostages from their captors in rural Africa.  They wind up stranded and have to battle not only brutal rebels but also a horde of enraged lions.

Irresistible (No. 19) was written and directed by Jon Stewart and features a cast headed by Steve Carell, Rose Byrne, Chris Cooper, Mackenzie Davis and Topher Grace. Carell portrays a campaign strategist who runs a Democratic mayoral candidate (Cooper) in a small right-wing town. The film, from Focus Features, was rerouted from a May 2020 theatrical release by the coronavirus pandemic and instead debuted in June on premium VOD. It became available through regular digital channels on Aug. 18.

Both Rogue and Irresistable were released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc Sept. 1.

Also new to chart is Warner Bros.’ Beetlejuice (No. 18), spurred by the film’s Sept. 1 release on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.

The top five remain unchanged from the prior week. Paramount’s popular TV drama series “Yellowstone,” long a favorite among home viewers, again took the top three spots on the chart, with RLJ Entertainment’s The Tax Collector remaining at No. 4 and Universal’s The King of Staten Island again at No. 5.

  1. Yellowstone: Season 1 (Paramount)
  2. Yellowstone: Season 2 (Paramount)
  3. Yellowstone: Season 3 (Paramount)
  4. The Tax Collector (RLJ Entertainment)
  5. The King of Staten Island (Universal)
  6. Black Panther (Disney)
  7. Trolls World Tour (Universal/DreamWorks)
  8. Harry Potter Complete 8-Film Collection (Warner)
  9. 42 (Warner)
  10. The Silencing (2020, Lionsgate)
  11. Sonic the Hedgehog (Paramount)
  12. Rogue (Lionsgate)
  13. The Outpost (Screen Media)
  14. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (MGM)
  15. The Vanished (2020, Paramount)
  16. Robin’s Wish (Vertical Entertainment)
  17. 1917 (Universal)
  18. Beetlejuice (Warner)
  19. Irresistible (Universal)
  20. Made In Italy  (IFC Films)

 

Source: DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group
Includes U.S. digital sales, digital rentals, and DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD sales for the week ended Sept. 5.

‘Irresistible,’ ‘Rogue’ Top Slate of New Disc Releases, While ‘Beetlejuice,’ ‘Goonies’ Bow on 4K Ultra HD

The political satire Irresistible, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, and Lionsgate’s action thriller Rogue, with Megan Fox as a battle-hardened mercenary, top the slate of new disc releases available Sept. 1.

Written and directed by Jon Stewart, Irresistible features a cast headed by Steve Carell, Rose Byrne, Chris Cooper, Mackenzie Davis and Topher Grace. Carell portrays a campaign strategist who runs a Democratic mayoral candidate (Cooper) in a small right-wing town.

The film, from Focus Features, was rerouted from a May 2020 theatrical release by the coronavirus pandemic and instead debuted in June on premium VOD. It became available through regular digital channels on Aug. 18.

Read John Latchem’s review of the Irresistible Blu-ray Disc here

Rogue finds Samantha O’Hara (Fox) leading a team of soldiers-for-hire on a daring mission to rescue hostages from their captors in rural Africa.  They wind up stranded and have to battle not only brutal rebels but also a horde of enraged lions.

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Also out Sept. 1 are 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray editions of the Tim Burton ghost movie Beetlejuice and the 1980s cult favorite adventure The Goonies, both from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Beetlejuice (1988) stars Michael Keaton as a ghost who helps a recently deceased couple played by Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis haunt their former home. The Goonies (1985),  based on a story by executive producer Steven Spielberg, follows a band of kids from the blue-collar “Goon Docks” neighborhood who set out to save their homes from foreclosure by following an old treasure map.

On the TV front, consumers as of Sept. 1 can buy, on disc, the complete third season of “Young Sheldon” (from Warner Bros.), the second season of “Magnum P.I.” (from Paramount/CBS), and the first season of “Blood & Treasure” (also from Paramount/CBS).

New digital releases include Guest House, from Lionsgate, and Breaking the Chain, from Virgil Films, the company headed by industry veteran Joe Amodei. Guest House is a comedy about an engaged couple whose new dream home comes with a slight drawback: a party animal who lives in the guest house. Breaking the Chain is an animal-rescue documentary that follows fieldworkers with PETA’s Community Animal Project as they visit impoverished areas of Virginia and North Carolina to give care to mistreated animals.

A complete list of new disc and digital releases, compiled each week by the Media Play News market research team, can be found here.

Irresistible

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 9/1/20;
Universal;
Comedy;
$29.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for language including sexual references.
Stars Steve Carell, Rose Byrne, Chris Cooper, Mackenzie Davis, Topher Grace, Natasha Lyonne, Will Sasso.

Comedian Jon Stewart returns to familiar ground from his “Daily Show” days with a biting political satire that takes aim at electioneering in America.

Stewart also reunites with his old “Daily Show” cohort Steve Carell, who plays Gary, a Democrat political operative on the outs following the 2016 presidential election. In an attempt to get back into the party’s good graces, he takes on the challenge of convincing a farmer and former Marine colonel named Jack (Chris Cooper) to run for mayor as a Democrat in a traditional Midwestern town, hoping a win will serve as a template for bringing a progressive message to other red states.

His involvement, however, attracts the attention of his opposite number from the Republican Party, Faith (Rose Byrne), who swoops into town to make sure the incumbent mayor keeps his seat.

The race quickly descends into a microcosm of a national campaign, with major party donors throwing big bucks at the candidates, allowing Stewart to throw shade at nearly all the tropes of an American election he made fun of for years on Comedy Central, from endless fundraising to disingenuous pandering to media manipulation. In keeping his crosshairs on the election process, Stewart veers away from partisanship for the most part, though he does overplay his own biases in a few of the jokes.

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Meanwhile, Carell has his eyes on Jack’s daughter, Diana (Mackenzie Davis), a fresh-faced farmgirl eager to help her father’s campaign. However, Stewart has more up his sleeve than just a simple underdog story, and there’s more to this sleepy downtrodden town than it would seem. The story delivers some nice twists and turns that, while clever, may limit the film’s rewatchability.

The Blu-ray offers a slew of deleted and extended scenes, a gag reel, and three behind-the-scenes featurettes that run about five minutes each.

Terminator: Dark Fate

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 1/28/20;
Paramount;
Sci-Fi Action;
Box Office $ 62.25 million;
$29.98 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray, $44.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for violence throughout, language and brief nudity.
Stars Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes, Gabriel Luna, Diego Boneta.

The “Terminator” films at this point are not so much as a franchise as they are a premise that keeps rebooting itself.

The 1984 original and its 1991 sequel, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, otherwise known as the ones directed and co-written by James Cameron, are considered classics in the sci-fi and action genres, and exist well enough on their own as a self-contained duology ruminating about the nature of fate and the increasingly complicated role machines play in our lives.

Without Cameron guiding the franchise, subsequent sequels fell back on the same basic premise of robots from the future hunting a younger version of someone whose destiny is to lead the resistance against the artificial intelligence Skynet and its machines taking over the world. The only wrinkle was in crafting the action scenes and finding new variations of the Terminators hunting the main heroes — usually Sarah Connor and her son, the future resistance leader John — and finding a way to fit the original Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, into the plot.

Needless to say, with each installment, fans became less enthused about revisiting the war against Skynet.

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While 2003’s Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was the most similar to its predecessors in terms of setting, at least 2009’s Terminator: Salvation pushed the mythology forward by setting the story after the nuclear armageddon of judgment day. But after negative audience feedback for that installment, producers tried a reboot in 2015 with Terminator Genisys, which again tried to put a new spin on the core premise, without much luck (though it did get a thumbs up from Cameron).

Counting the “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” TV series, Terminator: Dark Fate marks the fourth attempt at a direct sequel to Terminator 2 (with Salvation fitting in more or less as a direct sequel to Terminator 3). Key to the latest installment is the return of Cameron to an active role in the franchise as a producer and co-writer, while directing duties were handled by Tim Miller, who established his action bonafides with 2016’s Deadpool. And Linda Hamilton, the original Sarah Connor from the first two films, would return as well.

But after all the hoopla, the end result just seems like another pointless reboot, plugging in a new set of characters into the roles of the original film and adding some overt political subtext.

The film posits that, with the foundation for Skynet eliminated in Terminator 2, that a new AI will eventually cause judgment day and wage war against humanity. So a new Terminator (Gabriel Luna) is sent to kill the young version of the new resistance leader, Dani (Natalia Reyes), while the future resistance sends a protector for Dani, named Grace (Mackenzie Davis).

Meanwhile, remnants from the averted Skynet future, such as an older Sarah Connor (Hamilton) are still around too, and find a way to join the effort to protect Dani.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

Luna’s new Rev-9 model is an interesting design, able to separate his liquid skin into a second killing machine for maximum carnage. The fights and action sequences are pretty good. But the main curiosity factor of the film is just seeing how the writers decided to redefine the franchise’s mythology.

Dark Fate has plenty of interesting ideas about the franchise’s mythology, but so did all of the other sequels that it overwrote. By now there are enough alternate versions of what happens next that fans can take or leave them as they please (with most probably preferring the TV show’s take on it).

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In another sign of the times, a sizeable portion of the film’s bonus materials are available as digital exclusives, meaning disc collectors will have to access them through the redemption code included with the Blu-ray. (Buyers of the standalone DVD will get nothing beyond the film itself in paltry standard-def.)

The Blu-ray still contains a hefty amount of extras, particularly a couple of behind-the-scenes featurettes that run more than 50 minutes in total.

The 20-minute “A Legend Reforged” deals with creating the new story, while the 33-minute “World Builders” focuses on the production of the film. While these are pretty standard for these kinds of videos, they should satisfy fans of the film looking for more production details.

The Blu-ray also includes nine-minutes of deleted scenes, some of which are alternate set-ups of what’s in the film and others that add a few insights into what happens to the characters.

Two more videos focus on specific sequences: an eight-and-a-half-minute look at the making of the climactic dam fight, and a two-and-a-half-minute visual effects breakdown of creating one of the film’s fictional vehicles.

The digital version includes a full-length commentary with director Miller and editor Julian Clarke, which hints at some of the publicized story disagreements Miller had with Cameron and other members of the production. Millers introduction to and commentary on the deleted scenes also is a digital exclusive.

Rounding out the extras on the digital side are a five-minute featurette about creating a new Terminator villain, a two-and-a-half-minute vignette comparing the various robotic characters of the franchise, and animated pre-visualizations of three of the film’s action sequences.

 

Shout! Studios’ ‘Izzy’ Riding to Home Video Sept. 25

Shout! Studios, the filmed entertainment production and distribution arm of Shout! Factory, will release the indie film Izzy Gets The F*ck Across Town on Blu-ray, DVD and digitally Sept. 25.

The film involves hungover hot mess Izzy embarking on a quest across Los Angeles to break up a party celebrating her ex-boyfriend’s engagement to her ex-best friend. 

Izzy was written and directed by Christian Papierniak and stars Mackenzie Davis (Tully), Alia Shawkat (“Arrested Development”) Haley Joel Osment (“Silicon Valley”), Carrie Coon (“The Leftovers”) and Alex Russell (Chronicle).

Disc and digital extras include an audio commentary with Papierniak and director of photography Alexandre Naufel, a “Look at the Making of Izzy” featurette, deleted scenes and the theatrical trailer.

Tully

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 7/31/18;
Universal;
Drama;
Box Office $9.23 million;
$29.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for language and some sexuality/nudity.
Stars Charlize Theron, Mackenzie Davis, Mark Duplass, Ron Livingston.

Tully re-teams the writer/director pairing of Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman with actress Charlize Theron to present a raw, unflinching look at motherhood, postpartum depression and the sacrifices of being a parent.

The film plays almost like the flipside to the trio’s previous collaboration, 2011’s Young Adult, which featured Theron as a professional writer who practically refused to accept the boundaries of adulthood. Here, she plays Marlo, a 40-year-old mother of three who is confronted nonstop by responsibility.

Already dealing with a son with special needs, Marlo’s attention is pushed to the limit by a newborn daughter. Her wealthy brother (Mark Duplass) offers to pay for a night nanny to deal with the baby so Marlo can get a regular night’s sleep, which leads to the arrival of Tully (Mackenzie Davis), who seems to be the answer to all of Marlo’s troubles.

Marlo’s conversations with Tully and admiration for the girl’s youthful energy lead her to reflect on the path of her life and how the potential of her youth gave way to the road she ended up taking.

The schism between youth and maturity has become a common theme in the films directed by Reitman and scripted by Cody, who first teamed for 2007’s Juno, about a teenager dealing with the effect a pregnancy would have on her future. That proved to be a fruitful collaboration given that Cody subsequently went on to win the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. (The pair also worked on the Cody-penned Jennifer’s Body together, with Reitman serving as producer.)

Theron gives a tremendous performance in a role for which she reportedly gained 50 pounds. Ron Livingston is effective in a subtle performance as her husband, who would be willing to help more if only he realized how in over her head his wife was with the children. Theron and Livingston have a nice rapport together, suggesting a healthy marriage nonetheless weighed down by the experiences of life and the obstacles of family.

The Blu-ray includes a solid 10-minute featurette about the making of the film featuring interviews with the cast and filmmakers.