Warner’s ‘A Star Is Born’ Shoots to No. 1 on Redbox Charts

It may have picked up just one Academy Award (Best Original Song) from its eight nominations, but A Star Is Born triumphed on both Redbox charts the week leading up to the Oscar ceremony Feb. 24.

Warner’s 2018 update of the classic film story landed at No. 1 on both the Redbox kiosk chart, which tracks DVD and Blu-ray Disc rentals at the company’s more than 40,000 red vending machines, and the Redbox On Demand chart, which tracks transactional video-on-demand (TVOD), both electronic sellthrough (EST) and streaming, the week ended Feb. 24.

The film, which earned $210.9 million at the box office and debuted on disc Feb. 19, stars Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga — both nominated for Oscars for their performances — as two musicians who come together on stage and in life in a complex journey through the beauty and heartbreak of a relationship struggling to survive.

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Four other new releases appeared on the Redbox disc chart for the week. Lionsgate’s Robin Hood, another retelling of a classic story, starring Taron Egerton as Robin Hood and Jamie Foxx as Little John, debuted at No. 2. Paramount Pictures’ Overlord, a story produced by J.J. Abrams about a team of American paratroopers who encounter Nazi super-soldiers, entered the chart at No. 4. Lionsgate’s Backtrace, an action thriller starring Sylvester Stallone, debuted at No. 8. And 20th Century Fox’s Can You Ever Forgive Me? — which earned three Oscar noms, for Best Actress (Melissa McCarthy), Best Supporting Actor (Richard E. Grant) and Best Adapted Screenplay — entered the disc chart at No. 10.

Fox’s Bohemian Rhapsody, which won all but one of the five Oscars for which it was nominated, including Best Actor for Rami Malek, finished its second week in disc release at No. 3, falling from No. 1.

On the digital chart, Bohemian Rhapsody fell one spot to No. 2, behind A Star Is Born, which shot up the chart from No. 10 the previous week. Robin Hood took the third spot, followed by Paramount’s Tyler Perry comedy Nobody’s Fool at No. 4 (from No. 2 the previous week), Overlord at No. 5 and Can You Ever Forgive Me? at No. 6.

Interestingly, two titles released in the fall of last year appeared on the digital chart. Sony Pictures’ Nov. 13 release Searching, which stars John Cho as a distraught father who sifts through his missing daughter’s digital footprint determined to find her, appeared at No. 9. And Universal Pictures’ Sept. 25 release Skyscraper, an actioner starring Dwayne Johnson, came in at No. 10.

 

Top DVD and Blu-ray Disc Rentals, Redbox Kiosks, Week Ended Feb. 24:

  1. A Star Is Born (2018) (New) — Warner
  2. Robin Hood (2018) (New) — Lionsgate
  3. Bohemian Rhapsody — Fox
  4. Overlord (New) — Paramount
  5. The Grinch — Universal
  6. Nobody’s Fool — Paramount
  7. Widows — Fox
  8. Backtrace (New) — Lionsgate
  9. The Girl in the Spider’s Web — Sony
  10. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (New) — Fox

 

Top Digital, Redbox On Demand, Week Ended Feb. 24:

  1. A Star Is Born (2018) — Warner
  2. Bohemian Rhapsody — Fox
  3. Robin Hood (2018) — Lionsgate
  4. Nobody’s Fool — Paramount
  5. Overlord — Paramount
  6. Can You Ever Forgive Me? — Fox
  7. The Grinch — Universal
  8. Widows — Fox
  9. Searching — Sony
  10. Skyscraper — Universal

Fox Releasing ‘Can You Ever Forgive Me?’ on Home Video in February

The lauded drama Can You Ever Forgive Me? will be released digitally Feb. 5 and on DVD Feb. 19 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Melissa McCarthy earned a Best Actress Oscar nomination playing Lee Israel, a bestselling celebrity biographer in the 1970s and ’80s. When she realizes she’s no longer en vogue, she unleashes a web of lies, deceit and outright crime to get back on top.

Based on a true story, the film also earned Oscar nominations for Best Supporting Actor for Richard E. Grant, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Extras include audio commentary by director Marielle Heller and Melissa McCarthy; deleted scenes with optional commentary from Heller; the featurettes “Elevator Pitch,” “Becoming Lee Israel,” “Likely Friends” and “A Literary World”; a Lee Israel letter gallery; and unit photography gallery.

The Happytime Murders

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street 12/4/18;
Universal;
Comedy;
Box Office $20.71 million;
$29.99 DVD, $34.99 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for strong crude and sexual content and language throughout, and some drug material.
Stars Melissa McCarthy, Elizabeth Banks, Maya Rudolph, Leslie David Baker, Joel McHale, Michael McDonald.
Voices of Bill Barretta, Dorien Davies, Kevin Clash, Drew Massey.

The Happytime Murders continues the glorious tradition of using the tropes of children’s programming as the basis for subversive adult entertainment.

The film is set in a world best described as “Muppets-adjacent,” where felt-skinned puppets are alive and second-class citizens of a society in which humans are pretty openly racist toward them. Some of the puppets end up as performers in movies and TV shows for kids, and when they’re off camera they have to deal with the harsh realities of life like everyone else.

The story involves a puppet named Phil (Bill Barretta), an ex-cop now working as a private investigator. He gets roped into a case involving the former members of a TV show called “The Happytime Gang” getting killed one at a time, and the police ask him to help his former partner (Melissa McCarthy) figure out who’s behind it.

The Happytime Murders could be considered something of a puppet version of Who Framed Roger Rabbit if not for a couple of factors. First, all the puppet characters are generic and created just for this film. Seeing characters from other franchises interact could have helped build the world and establish a sense of nostalgia to better connect audiences to the story. To that end, it’s not surprising that other studios would be reluctant to lend their IP to the project, which owes a lot to the second factor — the film is completely filthy.

Puppets do drugs. Puppets engage in dangerous sex acts. Puppets get ripped apart by dogs and get their heads blown apart by shotguns, leaving fluffy cotton entrails everywhere. An then there’s the excessive use of silly string. It’s pretty much everything you suspected goes on in the after hours of “Sesame Street” but were afraid to ask.

In fact, the film was the basis of an unsuccessful lawsuit from the Sesame Workshop for its tagline of “No Sesame. All Street,” which is still boldly emblazoned on the DVD and Blu-ray box art. But the fact that the puppets are basically off-brand Muppets is no coincidence.

The film’s director is Brian Henson, son of the late Muppets creator Jim Henson. In a commentary on the Blu-ray, Brian helpfully points out that he made sure to include a “Henson Alternative” production banner at the beginning of The Happytime Murders to signal that this movie really isn’t for children. Not that the trailers or any of the marketing wouldn’t have given that away.

The notion of living puppets scheming to commit mayhem brings to mind the “Smile Time” episode from Joss Whedon’s vampire drama “Angel,” which featured several demonic puppets stealing the life force from children. Unsurprisingly, many of the episode’s puppets were realized with the help of a number of Jim Henson Co. puppeteers, including some who worked on this movie.

I also have a feeling that the foul-mouthed Stinky the Grump from the famous “Chappelle’s Show” “Kneehigh Park” sketch would be quite at home in the world of The Happytime Murders as well.

But this isn’t a five-minute sketch. Happytime Murders doubles down on the concept of puppets doing inappropriate things, to the point where it doesn’t seem to have much to say beyond that. Most scenes are structured on the idea of a puppet doing something crude and unexpected, allowing the movie to coast on the juxtaposition of something associated with children acting in an adult way. Which isn’t to say it isn’t entertaining. The film offers a number of clever observations about a hypothetical puppet society, and there are even moments that are laugh-out-loud hilarious. However, the constancy of it is just a bit draining, and the pace of the puppetry must have worn out the filmmakers too given how the story evolves into a lengthy stretch focusing on a couple of the human characters trying to solve the mystery on their own.

More impressive is the film’s visual style, and the extent of the visual effects work involved may surprise some viewers. According to some of the Blu-ray’s behind-the-scenes material, there were a fair amount of puppeteers crouched just off camera to animate the characters. But there is also a lot of CGI involved, too. The disc offers a two-minute featurette about how the filmmakers used virtual environments to gain better control over the action.

More illuminating is a nearly three-minute video about how the visual effects team created a lot of the “puppets” from CGI to begin with. Some might see it as cheating, I suppose, but their work in this regard is amazing, as the level of detail in the texture of the fabric seems completely authentic. At first blush I just assumed many of the scenes of puppets walking around in full view of the camera were done with little people in costumes, so it was a bit of an eye-opener to see how they really did it.

A fuller overview of the visual effects work is on display in a four-minute montage video that shows several scenes at different stages of development.

In addition to the aforementioned audio commentary, in which director Henson is joined by puppeteer/voice actor Barretta, the Blu-ray also includes a three-minute gag reel and a two-and-a-half-minute “Line-O-Rama” of alternate improvisations.

Finally, the disc includes more than 14 minutes of deleted scenes, which expand on a few points and fill in some character details that are touched on in the final film.

Regarding the film’s digital copy, take note that the film is not available for redemption through Movies Anywhere, even though Universal is a signatory studio. The production company is STX Films, which does not have a distribution deal with Movies Anywhere, and as a result the digital code included with the disc is redeemable only through iTunes.

Musical Films ‘A Star Is Born,’ ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ ‘Mama Mia’ Top Fandango Fan Picks of Films That Should Get Golden Globes Noms

Musical performances were the top picks of Fandango fans in a survey if they were to choose the Golden Globe nominations, to be announced Dec. 6.

In a Fandango survey of more than 1,000 film fans, who chose their top choices for the actors and films to be nominated, respondents picked A Star Is Born, Bohemian Rhapsody and other musically focused films for their favorite Globe noms.

The actual nominations, picked by the roughly 90 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, will be announced at 5 a.m. PST Dec. 6.  The Golden Globe Awards will air on NBC on Jan. 6.

“Based on these results, it’s clear that moviegoers are loving those films fueled by their music, which is why we’re seeing a spike in popularity for titles like A Star Is Born, Crazy Rich Asians, Bohemian Rhapsody, Mary Poppins Returns and Mama Mia: Here We Go Again,” said Fandango managing editor Erik Davis in a statement. “Additionally, films like Black Panther and A Quiet Place were huge unexpected hits with general audiences, and are among those movies fans are hoping to see honored at one of Hollywood’s most engaging awards shows.”

The top fan picks for actors in a drama were the musical performances of Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born) and Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody), while the top fan picks for actors in a comedy or musical were Emily Blunt (Mary Poppins Returns) and Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool 2).

FandangoNow, Fandango’s streaming service, will have all the nominated films available in the home entertainment window the morning of Dec. 6 at www.fandangonow.com. Fandango is offering its Awards Season gift cards for film fans to help them catch up with films they may have missed on the big screen, via the Fandango theatrical ticketing service, or at home, via Fandango’s digital delivery service, FandangoNow. Also, fans can stream the top nominees available on FandangoNOW for 50% off this weekend only using the promo code GLOBES19.

Survey results for potential Golden Globe nominations are:

Fan picks for Best Picture/Drama:

  1. A Star is Born
  2. Black Panther
  3. Bohemian Rhapsody
  4. A Quiet Place
  5. First Man

 

Fan picks for Best Actress/Drama:

  1. Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born)
  2. Emily Blunt (A Quiet Place)
  3. Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)
  4. Amandla Stenberg (The Hate U Give)
  5. Glenn Close (The Wife)

 

Fan picks for Best Actor/Drama:

  1. Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody)
  2. Bradley Cooper (A Star is Born)
  3. Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther)
  4. Hugh Jackman (The Front Runner)
  5. John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman)

 

Fan picks for Best Picture/Musical or Comedy:

  1. Crazy Rich Asians
  2. Mary Poppins Returns
  3. Green Book
  4. Mama Mia! Here We Go Again
  5. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

 

Fan picks for Best Actress/Musical or Comedy:

  1. Emily Blunt (Mary Poppins Returns)
  2. Constance Wu (Crazy Rich Asians)
  3. Lily James (Mama Mia! Here We Go Again)
  4. Charlize Theron (Tully)
  5. Olivia Colman (The Favourite)

 

Fan picks for Best Actor/Musical or Comedy:

  1. Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool 2)
  2. Viggo Mortensen (Green Book)
  3. Lin-Manuel Miranda (Mary Poppins Returns)
  4. Steve Carell (Welcome to Marwen)
  5. Christian Bale (Vice)

 

Fan picks for Best Director:

  1. Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born)
  2. John Krasinski (A Quiet Place)
  3. Ryan Coogler (Black Panther)
  4. Peter Farrelly (Green Book)
  5. Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman)

 

Fan picks for Best Supporting Actor:

  1. Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther)
  2. Sam Elliott (A Star Is Born)
  3. Mahershala Ali (Green Book)
  4. Adam Driver (BlacKkKlansman)
  5. Timothee Chalamet (Beautiful Boy)

 

Fan picks for Best Supporting Actress:

  1. Michelle Yeoh (Crazy Rich Asians)
  2. Nicole Kidman (Boy Erased)
  3. Emma Stone (The Favourite)
  4. Claire Foy (First Man)
  5. Sissy Spacek (The Old Man and the Gun)

 

Fan picks for Best Animated Feature:

  1. Incredibles 2
  2. Ralph Breaks the Internet
  3. Isle of Dogs
  4. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
  5. Seuss’ The Grinch

 

Fan picks for Best Original Song:

  1. “Shallow”(A Star Is Born)
  2. “All the Stars”(Black Panther)
  3. “I’ll Never Love Again” (A Star Is Born)
  4. “Always Remember Us This Way” (A Star Is Born)
  5. “The Place Where Lost Things Go” (Mary Poppins Returns)

‘The Happytime Murders’ Coming to Digital Nov. 20, Disc Dec. 4 From Universal

The Melissa McCarthy comedy The Happytime Murders is coming to digital Nov. 20 and Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and on demand Dec. 4 from STXfilms and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film made $20.7 million in theaters.

Directed and produced by Brian Henson (The Muppet Christmas Carol) along with producers Jeffrey Hayes, McCarthy (who also stars) and Ben Falcone, the raunchy comedy also stars Maya Rudolph (Bridesmaids), Joel McHale (“Community”) and Elizabeth Banks (Pitch Perfect). Set in the underbelly of Los Angeles where puppets and humans coexist, the film follows two clashing detectives — one human (McCarthy) and one puppet — with a shared secret who are forced to work together again to solve the brutal murders of the former cast of a classic puppet TV show.

Bonus features on Blu-ray, DVD and digital include:

  • deleted scenes;
  • a gag reel;
  • “Line-O-Rama”;
  • “Virtual Environments,” in which viewers can go behind the scenes to see the transformation of the film’s virtual environments including visual effects through backdrops, action scenes, and the movements of the puppets themselves;
  • “Avatars Demo,” in whichVFX supervisors discuss how The Happytime Murders created a new realm of puppet movies by using avatars to make the puppets come to life;
  • “VFX Breakdown,” an overview of the impact of visual special effects in the film;
  • theatrical trailers; and
  • feature commentary with Henson and voice actor Bill Barretta.

Melissa McCarthy Comedy ‘Life of the Party’ Due on Digital July 24, Disc Aug. 7 from Warner

Life of the Party, starring Melissa McCarthy as a divorced mom who goes back to college, arrives on digital (including Movies Anywhere) July 24 and Blu-ray combo pack and DVD Aug. 7 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

On Aug. 7, Life of the Party will also be made available digitally on VOD services from cable and satellite providers, and on select gaming consoles.

When her husband suddenly dumps her, longtime dedicated housewife Deanna (McCarthy) turns regret into reset by going back to college, landing in the same class and school as her daughter, who’s not entirely sold on the idea.

The film also stars Gillian Jacobs (Don’t Think Twice, “Love,” “Community”), Maya Rudolph (Bridesmaids, Sisters), Julie Bowen (“Modern Family”), Matt Walsh (“Veep,” Ghostbusters), Molly Gordon (Love the Coopers, “Animal Kingdom”), Stephen Root (Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates), Oscar nominee Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook, “Animal Kingdom”), Jessie Ennis (“Better Call Saul”), Adria Arjona (“True Detective,” “Emerald City”), Debby Ryan (“Jessie”) and Jimmy O. Yang (“Silicon Valley”). McCarthy and director Ben Falcone co-wrote the screenplay and produced through their production company On the Day Production.

Life of the Party will be available on Blu-ray combo pack at $35.99 (with DVD and digital) and DVD at $28.98.

Special features on the Blu-ray combo pack include “’80s Party,” “Mom Sandwich,” “ Line-O-Rama,” “Bill Hate-O-Rama,” a gag reel and deleted scenes. Special features on the DVD include “’80s Party.”