MGM’s Epix Linear/Streaming Platform to Relaunch as MGM+ in Early 2023

Amazon-owned MGM Holdings Sept. 28 announced that its linear and streaming service Epix will rebrand as MGM+ on Jan. 15, 2023, in conjunction with the season three premiere of “Godfather of Harlem.”

The show’s second season was Epix’s best performing season of all time, breaking records for single-title streams in a single day across the platform’s digital channels. The season two finale was Epix’s best-performing final episode to date. 

Epix was launched in 2009 in a co-partnership between MGM, Lionsgate and Paramount Pictures. MGM bought out the two partners’ stakes in 2017.

The new brand logo attempts embody the legacy of MGM, while at the same time orienting the brand toward the future. It reimagines the 100-year history of MGM’s classic art-deco typeface in a contemporary and forward-facing fashion. 

This rebrand is a promise to existing and new viewers that MGM+ is the place to find television that reflects and celebrates the legacy of the iconic MGM brand — cinematic programming with sophisticated storytelling that entertains, delights, surprises, and transports,” Michael Wright, head of MGM+, said in a statement. 

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The MGM+ service will offer a library of film titles from MGM and other major Hollywood Studios. The library of titles includes MGM theatrical hits No Time to Die, House of Gucci and Licorice Pizza; the James Bond movie franchise and the original “Rocky” titles and sequelsas well as classic releases Silence of the Lambs, Bull DurhamPlatoon, RobocopMississippi Burning, The Magnificent Seven, BarbershopThe Pink Panther, In the Heat of the Night, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and The Thomas Crown Affair. 

MGM+ will continue to be available nationwide through cable, telco, satellite, and emerging digital distribution channels, as well as through its branded app.

Fantasy ‘Three Thousand Years of Longing’ Headed to 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD Nov. 15

The fantasy romantic drama Three Thousand Years of Longing, from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and United Artists Releasing, will be released on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD Nov. 15 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

From Academy Award winning director George Miller (Happy Feet, the “Mad Max” franchise, The Witches of Eastwick) from a screenplay by Miller and Augusta Gore, the film is based on the short story The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye by A.S. Byatt. 

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In the film, Dr Alithea Binnie (Tilda Swinton) is an academic — a creature of reason. While in Istanbul, she happens to encounter a Djinn (Idris Elba) who offers her three wishes in exchange for his freedom. At first, she doubts that he is real, and she knows all the cautionary tales of wishes gone wrong. But the Djinn pleads his case, and eventually she is beguiled and makes a wish that surprises them both.

Drama ‘The Chocolate War’ Due on Blu-ray Sept. 27 From MVD

The 1988 MGM drama The Chocolate War will be released on Blu-ray Disc Sept. 27 as part of MVD Entertainment Group’s MVD Rewind Collection.

Based on Robert Cormier’s controversial novel — once the most widely banned book in America — this allegory of abusive power is set in a Catholic boy’s school where a chocolate sale becomes a war over conformity. Jerry (Ilan Mitchell-Smith, Weird Science) is a student who refuses to take part, undercutting ambitious school administrator Brother Leon (John Glover, Scrooged). Leon secretly enlists Archie (Wallace Langham credited as Wally Ward, Ford v. Ferrari) — the sadistic mastermind of the school’s resident gang — to force Jerry into line. But motives and results are far more complex than they first seem.

The Chocolate War — featuring a 1980s soundtrack with music by Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush, Joan Armatrading and Yaz — also stars Adam Baldwin (Full Metal Jacket) Doug Hutchison (The Green Mile) Jenny Wright (St. Elmo’s Fire) and Bud Cort (Harold and Maude).

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Extras include feature commentary by director Keith Gordon; an interview with Gordon on the movie; a collectible mini-poster; and a limited-edition slipcover (for the first pressing only).

John Candy Comedy ‘Canadian Bacon’ Due on Blu-ray Sept. 13 From MVD

The MGM John Candy comedy Canadian Bacon will be released on Blu-ray for the first time Sept. 13 from MVD Entertainment Group as part of the MVD Marquee Collection.

Academy Award-winning writer/director Michael Moore serves up the political satire starring the late Candy (Planes, Trains and Automobiles), as well as Rhea Perlman (“Cheers”), Alan Alda (Marriage Story), Kevin Pollak (The Usual Suspects), Rip Torn (Men in Black) and Steven Wright (Natural Born Killers).

In the film, faced with sagging approval ratings and disgruntled arms manufacturers, the U.S. President (Alda) decides to cook up a new Cold War with Canada. After a flood of media propaganda, Americans waste no time in “patriotically” burning their ice skates and swearing off maple syrup. But when bumbling U.S. sheriff Boomer (Candy) and his hair-trigger deputy Honey (Perlman) decide to take matters into their own hands and lead a preemptive strike, they soon find themselves embroiled in a hilarious international incident.

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Canadian Bacon marks the first and only narrative, non-documentary movie written, produced and directed by Moore (Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11, Roger & Me). The film, an official selection at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival, features cinematography by two-time Academy Award-winning cinematographer Haskell Wexler (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), one of the 10 most influential cinematographers in movie history, according to an International Cinematographers Guild.

Special features include the original theatrical trailer; reversible artwork; and a limited-edition slipcover for the first pressing only.

Licorice Pizza

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Universal/MGM;
Comedy;
Box Office $17.32 million;
$29.99 DVD, $34.99 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for language, sexual material and some drug use.
Stars Alana Haim, Cooper Hoffman, Sean Penn, Tom Waits, Bradley Cooper, Benny Safdie.

Writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson, whose films typically emphasize mood over story, adds to his oeuvre with Licorice Pizza, his reflection on life growing up in Los Angeles in the early 1970s.

The centerpiece of the film is an unconventional love story between a 15-year-old child actor and a listless 25-year-old woman he hits on during photo day at his high school.

Cooper Hoffman, son of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, a frequent Anderson collaborator, makes his feature debut as Gary Valentine, a young hustler loosely based on producer Gary Goetzman. He is instantly attracted to the sassy Alana (Alana Haim, a musician also marking her film debut), who finds herself intrigued by his forwardness despite being 10 years older than him.

Gary, as an actor whose mother is involved with marketing several restaurants around the San Fernando Valley, seems to have connections all over town and is quick to exploit any opportunity for profit. First, he starts a business selling water beds, recruiting several of his friends, including Alana, to help run it.

Things are going swimmingly until the oil crisis inflates the costs of plastics needed for his beds, forcing him to close up shop, but not before one last installation at the home of eccentric Hollywood personality Jon Peters (Bradley Cooper), leading to a wild night around town.

Questioning her life choices, Alana turns to political activism, allowing Anderson to dramatize the real-life mayoral campaign of closeted L.A. councilman Joel Wachs (Benny Safdie).

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Like most of Anderson’s films, Licorice Pizza is carried by quirky characters and unconventional dialogue. The title is a reference to a defunct chain of record stores, which Anderson likened to evoking the feeling of childhood memories. The film is somewhat ethereal in that regard, more like a series of vignettes connected through character arcs. Its wistful quality might make it feel disconnected to some viewers, though PTA fans should enjoy his usual touchstones embedded throughout.

Fans of Hollywood history will also enjoy the numerous references to the entertainment industry of the 1970s, not unlike how Once Upon a Time In Hollywood paid tribute to Hollywood in the 1960s.

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The Blu-ray includes a handful of extras but nothing too exciting. Most interesting is a two-minute deleted scene that pays off a pretty important joke that’s in the movie. There’s also Gary filming a fake commercial for his waterbed store.

Also included are four minutes of camera tests and a 10-and-a-half-minute behind-the-scenes featurette that just shows scenes being filmed, without any interviews or context. In fact, the Blu-ray doesn’t really offer any filmmaker discussion, leaving the film’s messaging to pretty much stand on its own. Curious viewers looking for such insights will have better luck on the internet.

May 17 New Releases Include ‘Licorice Pizza,’ ‘Infinite’ on Disc, ‘Morbius’ on Digital

Titles new to DVD and Blu-ray Disc May 17 include Licorice Pizza and Infinite, while Morbius becomes available through digital retailers.

MGM’s Oscar-nominated Licorice Pizza will be released on Blu-ray Disc and DVD May 17 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. From multi-Oscar nominated director, writer, producer and cinematographer Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Phantom Thread), the film was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Picture. It stars Alana Haim, Cooper Hoffman, Sean Penn, Tom Waits, Bradley Cooper and Benny Safdie. It’s the story of Alana Kane (Haim) and Gary Valentine (Hoffman) growing up, running around and falling in love in the San Fernando Valley in 1973. 

The sci-fi actioner Infinite will arrive for digital purchase April 12 and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD May 17 from Paramount Home Entertainment. Starring Mark Wahlberg and Chiwetel Ejiofor and directed by Antoine Fuqua, the film is based on the book The Reincarnationist Papers by D. Eric Maikranz. The film follows characters who must use memories and skills from past lives to protect the future of humanity in a race against time in the fight between good and evil. Wahlberg plays Evan McCauley, who is haunted by skills he has never learned and memories of places he has never visited. As he is self-medicated and on the brink of a mental breakdown, a secret group that call themselves “Infinites” comes to his rescue, revealing to him that his memories are real — but they are from multiple past lives. The Infinites bring Evan into their extraordinary world, where a gifted few are given the ability to be reborn with their memories and knowledge accumulated over centuries. With critical secrets buried in his past, Evan must work with the Infinites to unlock the answers in his memories in a race against time to save humanity from one of their own (Ejiofor) who seeks to destroy it. The film also stars Sophie Cookson, Jason Mantzoukas, Rupert Friend, Liz Carr, Toby Jones and Dylan O’Brien.

The third season of “Succession” will be released on DVD and digital May 17 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. Season three of “Succession,” the HBO original series that follows the saga of a powerful media family, includes all nine episodes. The drama series tracks the lives of a wealthy patriarch and his four grown children who control one of the biggest media and entertainment conglomerates in the world.”Succession” explores themes of power and family dynamics through the eyes of patriarch Logan Roy (Brian Cox) and his children Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Siobhan (Sarah Snook), Roman (Kieran Culkin) and Connor (Alan Ruck). The series’ second season won a total of seven Emmys, including Outstanding Drama Series. Season three finds Logan in a perilous position, scrambling to secure familial, political, and financial alliances after he was ambushed by his rebellious son Kendall. After Kendall’s impulsive decision to expose the company’s sprawling scandal, the family is left to each contemplate their own future. Tensions rise as a bitter corporate battle threatens to turn into a family civil war, with the Roy family navigating the looming questions of who will take over in a post-Logan world.

The Marvel Comics-based action film Morbius will be released for digital purchase May 17 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. In the film, Oscar winner Jared Leto plays the enigmatic antihero Michael Morbius, who is dangerously ill with a rare blood disorder. Determined to save others suffering his same fate, Dr. Morbius attempts a desperate gamble. While at first it seems to be a radical success, a darkness inside him is unleashed. It arrives on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD June 14.

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Season one of the History series “Great Escapes With Morgan Freeman” arrives May 17 on DVD from Lionsgate. Hosted and narrated by Morgan Freeman, the series takes a deep dive into the inner workings of some of the most notorious prison escapes in history throughout the world. The eight-part docuseries explores prison escapes from Alcatraz and Rikers Island to Germany’s Stalag Luft III and HM Prison Maze in Belfast. Featuring recreations and cutting-edge visual effects, along with interviews with some of the prisoners themselves, their families, their cell mates and guards who were there, “Great Escapes with Morgan Freeman” uncovers every step of the most intricate and daring escapes — by convicted criminals, POWs and political prisoners — and the exhaustive manhunts that ensued.

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The Western The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance will arrive May 17 for the first time ever on 4K Ultra HD with high dynamic range (HDR) as part of the Paramount Presents line from Paramount Home Entertainment. Four-time Academy Award-winning director John Ford brought together an all-star cast for what is considered by many critics to be a quintessential — and yet pioneering — Western late in his storied career. Starring James Stewart and John Wayne (together for the first time), alongside Vera Miles, Lee Marvin, John Carradine and Lee Van Cleef, the film tells the story of a senator (Stewart), his old friend (Wayne), and a despicable outlaw called Liberty Valance (Marvin). Adapted from a short story by Dorothy M. Johnson, the screenplay by James Warner Bellah and Willis Goldbeck gave us the often-quoted line “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

The Eddie Murphy action-comedy Beverly Hills Cop II will be released on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray May 17 from Paramount Home Entertainment for its 35th anniversary. Directed by Tony Scott, who followed up Top Gun with this sequel, Beverly Hills Cop II was originally released on May 20, 1987. Produced by Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, it was a box office success, earning more than $153 million domestically and becoming the No. 1 film of 1987. The movie also earned Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for Best Original Song for “Shakedown.” In the film, Axel Foley (Murphy) is back where he doesn’t belong, this time going “deep, deep, deep undercover” to stop a gang of international munitions smugglers. Also returning are Judge Reinhold and John Ashton as Murphy’s crime-busting sidekicks. The release includes Dolby Vision and HDR-10 and Dolby 5.1 DTS Master Audio.

Vestron Video’s 1987 action Western Extreme Prejudice, starring Nick Nolte, is being released on Blu-ray Disc May 17 from Lionsgate. In addition to Nolte, the film, directed by Walter Hill (The Warriors, 48 Hrs.) with a story co-written by Academy Award nominee John Milius (1979, Best Writing/Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, Apocalypse Now), also stars Powers Boothe, Maria Conchita Alonso (The Running Man, Predator 2, Spread), Michael Ironside (Starship Troopers, Total Recall, Top Gun) and Rip Torn. The gritty, modern Western follows Texas Ranger Jack Benteen (Nolte) who locks horns with a former friend, Cash Bailey (Boothe), now a ruthless drug kingpin. Though they’re on opposite sides of the law, they share a love interest in the sensual Sarita (Alonso). When a crew of rogue soldiers descends upon the border town for an off-the-books mission, all roads lead to a bloody, to-the-death showdown, as loyalties shift and the lines between good and evil are blurred. 

Kino Lorber May 17 releases the 1970 revenge thriller Violent City, starring Charles Bronson, Telly Savalas and Jill Ireland. The film, which predates his iconic “Death Wish” franchise, finds Bronson playing a former hitman framed by his ex-boss and left for dead. He tracks the shooter and his beautiful mistress (Ireland) to New Orleans. But when he takes both revenge and the woman, he finds himself blackmailed by a powerful crime boss (Savalas) who wants the fiercely independent gunman to join his organization. He refuses, and finds himself the target of another hit.  The two-disc set includes both the original Violent City — in a 2K restoration in English and Italian with optional English subtitles — and the 1973 U.S. cut, The Family.

Belle, the critically hailed anime film from Academy Award-nominated director Mamoru Hosoda, is available as a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack May 17 from GKIDS and Shout! Factory. A heartfelt story of growing up in the era of social media, Belle also will be available in a Steelbook edition exclusive to Target.

The foreign coming-of-age drama The Fashion Lover will be released through digital retailers May 17 from Ariztical Entertainment. In the Italian film, young Sardinian shepherd boy Giovannino dreams of becoming a fashion designer. Unfortunately, his small rural town is a long way from the bright lights. With his cheating father out of the picture, Giovanni must reckon with an angry mom. But two friends, a fashion teacher with connections and a buddy who’ll do anything for him, give Giovanni hope. Directed by Marco Pollini, the film stars Pino Ammendola, Frencesco Desogus, Mariandrea Cesari, Valentina Sulas and Davide Garau.

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

‘Jackass Forever,’ ‘Cyrano’ Headline April 19 Disc Releases; ‘The Batman,’ ‘Dog’ Now on Digital

Titles new to DVD and Blu-ray April 19 include Jackass Forever, Cyrano and The King’s Daughter, while new digital releases include The Batman, Dog and Blacklight.

Paramount Home Entertainment releases Jackass Forever on DVD and Blu-ray April 19. Actor Johnny Knoxville and the gang are back for another outrageous round of stunts and bad ideas. with new friends and loads of celebrity guest stars, the crew take pranks to ridiculous lengths where absolutely no one is safe, and all senses are frayed.

Cyrano, nominated for an Oscar for Best Achievement in Costume Design, arrives on Blu-ray and DVD April 19 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. A re-imagining of the timeless tale of a heartbreaking love triangle, the film follows Cyrano de Bergerac (Peter Dinklage), who dazzles with both ferocious wordplay and brilliant swordplay but is convinced that his appearance makes him unworthy of the love of his devoted friend Roxanne (Haley Bennett). Roxanne has fallen in love at first sight with Christian (Kelvin Harrison Jr.).

The Pierce Brosnan adventure The King’s Daughter arrives on Blu-ray and DVD April 19 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment and Gravitas Ventures. In addition to Brosnan, the film features Kaya Scodelario, Benjamin Walker, Pablo Schreiber, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Fan Bingbing, William Hurt and Julie Andrews as the narrator. In the film, King Louis XIV’s (Brosnan) quest for immortality leads him to capture a mermaid’s life force, but his immovable will is challenged when his long-hidden illegitimate daughter (Scodelario) forms a bond with the magical creature.

Based upon his 2015 Tony Award-winning play of the same name, writer-director Stephen Karam’s debut drama The Humans arrives on DVD and Blu-ray (plus digital) April 19 from Lionsgate. The story follows Erik Blake, who has gathered three generations of his Pennsylvania family to celebrate Thanksgiving at his daughter’s apartment in lower Manhattan. As darkness falls outside and eerie things start to go bump in the night, the group’s deepest fears are laid bare. The Humans explores the hidden dread of a family and the love that binds them together. The cast includes Academy Award nominee Richard Jenkins (2017, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, The Shape of Water), Tony Award winner Jayne Houdyshell (“Only Murders in the Building”), Primetime Emmy nominee Amy Schumer (2019, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, Inside Amy Schumer), Beanie Feldstein (Booksmart, “American Crime Story: Impeachment”), Academy Award nominee Steven Yeun (2020, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, Minari), and June Squibb (2013, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, Nebraska).

The thriller The Desperate Hour arrives on DVD April 19 from Vertical and Distribution Solutions. Unfolding in real time, the thriller, directed by Phillip Noyce, follows recently widowed mother Amy Carr (Naomi Watts), who is doing her best to restore normalcy to the lives of her young daughter and teenage son in their small town. As she’s on a jog in the woods, she finds her town thrown into chaos as a shooting takes place at her son’s school. Miles away, on foot in the dense forest, Amy desperately races against time to save her son.

The supernatural horror thriller The Exorcism of God arrives on Blu-ray plus digital and DVD April 19 from Lionsgate. The film follows Father Peter Williams, an American exorcist, who hides a dark secret. Possessed by a demon he was trying to expel, he committed a terrible sacrilege. To atone for this sin, Peter devotes his life to charity work in a small town in Mexico. Eighteen years later, his deeply buried secret comes to light when the demon from his past returns, possessing a girl and unleashing a deadly disease. Now Peter must choose between saving his own soul and saving the people he loves most in one final, epic battle against the evil within.

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The DC Comics-based film The Batman became available for digital purchase and for streaming on HBO Max April 18. The film is directed by Matt Reeves from a screenplay by Reeves and Peter Craig, based on characters created by DC, and stars Robert Pattinson (Tenet, The Lighthouse). In the film, more than a year of stalking the streets as the Batman (Pattinson), striking fear into the hearts of criminals, has led Bruce Wayne deep into the shadows of Gotham City. With only a few trusted allies — Alfred, Lt. James Gordon —amongst the city’s corrupt network of officials and high-profile figures, the lone vigilante has established himself as the sole embodiment of vengeance amongst his fellow citizens. When a killer targets Gotham City’s elite with a series of sadistic machinations, a trail of cryptic clues sends the masked crusader on an investigation into the underworld, where he encounters such characters as Selina Kyle, the Penguin, Carmine Falcone and the Riddler. As the evidence begins to lead closer to home and the scale of the perpetrator’s plans becomes clear, the Batman must forge new relationships, unmask the culprit, and bring justice to the abuse of power and corruption that has long plagued Gotham City. The film also stars Zoë Kravitz (TV’s “Big Little Lies,” Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald) as Selina Kyle; Paul Dano (Love & Mercy, 12 Years a Slave) as Edward Nashton, aka The Riddler; Jeffrey Wright (No Time to Die, “Westworld”) as Gordon; John Turturro (the “Transformers” films, “The Plot Against America”) as Falcone; Peter Sarsgaard (The Magnificent Seven, “Interrogation”) as Gotham D.A. Gil Colson; Jayme Lawson (“Farewell Amor”) as mayoral candidate Bella Reál; Andy Serkis (the “Planet of the Apes” films, Black Panther) as Alfred; and Colin Farrell (The Gentlemen, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) as Oz, aka The Penguin. It arrives on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD May 24.

The buddy comedy Dog will becomes available for digital purchase April 19 from MGM. The film, starring and co-directed by Channing Tatum, follows the misadventures of two former Army Rangers paired against their will on a road trip. Army Ranger Briggs (Tatum) and Lulu (a Belgian Malinois dog) buckle into a 1984 Ford Bronco and race down the Pacific Coast in hopes of making it to a fellow soldier’s funeral on time. Along the way, they drive each other crazy, break a small handful of laws, narrowly evade death, and learn to let down their guards. It arrives on Blu-ray Disc and DVD May 10 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

The Liam Neeson action thriller Blacklight will be released for digital purchase April 19. From Briarcliff Entertainment, the film follows a troubled off-the-books agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation who finds himself in the middle of a deadly conspiracy. Travis Block (Neeson), a freelance government “fixer,” is a dangerous man whose assignments have included extracting agents out of deep-cover situations. He knows his hands are dirty, but he’s aiming to change. When an agent is killed after infiltrating a group espousing violent societal upheaval, Block discovers a shadowy program called Operation Unity is striking down ordinary citizens for reasons known only to Block’s boss, FBI chief Robinson (Aidan Quinn). As Block gets closer to the truth, he enlists the help of a journalist (Emmy Raver-Lampman), but his past and present collide when his daughter and granddaughter are threatened. It arrives on Blu-ray and DVD May 3 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The 1981 animated sci-fi classic Heavy Metal heads to 4K Ultra HD April 19 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Based on the illustrated magazine of the same name, Heavy Metal is an animated fantasy in which producer Ivan Reitman enlists the help of some of Hollywood’s animation masters to create the otherworldly tale of a glowing green orb from outer space that spreads destruction throughout the galaxy. Only when encountered by its one true enemy, to whom it is inexplicably drawn, will goodness prevail throughout the universe. Richly and lavishly drawn, the vignettes of the orb’s dark victories include the character voices of John Candy and Harold Ramis and a soundtrack by Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, Cheap Trick, Devo, Donald Fagen, Don Felder, Grand Funk Railroad, Sammy Hagar, Journey, Nazareth, Stevie Nicks, Riggs and Trust.  The feature is presented in 4K resolution with Dolby Vision, reviewed and approved by Reitman and features a new 2022 Dolby Atmos soundtrack supervised by Reitman. The release also includes the 2022 mix in 5.1 and the original 1981 theatrical Dolby Stereo audio. The release is presented in a limited edition Steelbook, including the film on 4K Ultra HD disc and Blu-ray, plus the exclusive Blu-ray debut of Heavy Metal 2000.

Writer-director Drew Goddard’s 2011  horror-thriller The Cabin in the Woods arrives April 19 in a 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + digital Best Buy exclusive Steelbook from Lionsgate. Produced and written alongside Joss Whedon, The Cabin in the Woods features Kristen Connolly (The HappeningThe BayRevolutionary Road), Chris Hemsworth (The AvengersThor: RagnarokSnow White and the Huntsman), Anna Hutchison (Robert the BruceEncounterVengeance: A Love Story), Fran Kranz (MassThe VillageTraining Day), Jesse Williams (TV’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2Brooklyn’s Finest), two-time Oscar-nominated actor Richard Jenkins (2017, Best Supporting Actor, The Shape of Water; 2008, Best Actor, The Visitor) and three-time Primetime Emmy Award winner Bradley Whitford (2019, TV’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”; 2015, TV’s “Transparent”; 2001, TV’s “The West Wing”). In the film, a rambunctious group of five college friends heads to a weekend of debauchery in an isolated country cabin, only to be attacked by horrific supernatural creatures in a night of terror and bloodshed. As the teens begin to exhibit standard horror-movie behavior, a group of technicians in a control room are scrutinizing, and sometimes even controlling, every move the terrified kids make.

Kino Lorber April 19 releases its 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray edition of 1967 Best Picture Oscar winner In the Heat of the Night. The film, from director Norman Jewison, stars the late Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger, who gives an Oscar-winning performance as a sheriff from small-town Mississippi who finds himself in an uneasy alliance with a black homicide detective from Philadelphia (Poitier). In the course of investigating the crime, the two strong-willed men must reconcile their inherent prejudice toward each other. The final result is justice—and an unlikely but touching mutual respect. Other cast members include Warren Oates and Lee Grant. The film features an evocative score by Quincy Jones and vivid cinematography by Haskell Wexler. The 4K Ultra HD set includes, as a bonus, the 1970 sequel They Call Me Mr. Tibbs and 1971’s The Organization.

The exploitation classic Girl on a Chain Gang (1966) will be released on special-edition Blu-ray and DVD April 19 from Cinedigm’s The Film Detective, Something Weird Video and MVD Entertainment Group. From famed shlock distributor-producer-director Jerry Gross, who made his directorial debut with Girl on a Chain Gang, the stirring feature about small-town hate stars William Watson, Julie Ange and Ron Charles. It follows three young people who are framed, arrested and tossed into jail by corrupt Southern police. Gross — who produced everything from Blaxploitation films to features about teen pregnancy — exercised his social conscience in this drama about racist Southern cops. Made the year after three civil rights workers were murdered in Mississippi, Girl on a Chain Gang addresses a subject Gross must have believed worth exploiting into drive-in theater fare. True to his low-budget roots, the movie was filmed nowhere near the South, but in Long Island, N.Y.​

The documentary Brothers in Football will arrives for digital sale and rental April 19 from Virgil Films. The film follows a team of amateur footballers who attempt to fulfill a mission never completed on the eve of the first world war. Their ensuing adventure sees them travel around the world to face the FIFA World Champions in front of millions — to honor and commemorate their forefathers who fell in record numbers on the battlefields of France.

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The feature-length documentary Where Are You, Jay Bennett?, on the renown multi-instrumentalist and recording studio savant, has its Blu-ray Disc and pay-per-view release on April 19 from MVD Entertainment Group. Four days later on April 23, it will have a “Record Store Day” release featuring the film on DVD along with Bennett’s last two albums Kicking at the Perfumed Air and Whatever Happened I Apologize available for the first time on vinyl. As a member of Wilco, Bennett was a large part of the genius behind their three seminal albums. He joined the band prior to the recording of their second album Being There and subsequently co-wrote most of Summerteeth and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot with Jeff Tweedy (and has been called the sonic architect of both albums). Bennett was also instrumental in the recording of the Mermaid Avenue/Woody Guthrie sessions with Billy Bragg, and went on to a critically acclaimed solo career before dying tragically at the age of 45. Directors Gorman Bechard and Fred Uhter use a mixture of audio interviews with Bennett, never-before-seen performance footage, animation, and extensive interviews with those who knew him best to give an account of the artist’s life. The offers a look at the other side of the narrative that had been created in the media once Bennett had been asked to leave the band.

Studio Ghibli and GKIDS on April 19 will release limited-edition Steelbooks of  Only Yesterday and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, two animated films from Academy Award-nominated director Isao Takahata.

Only Yesterday will also be available as a Blu-ray Disc and DVD combo pack, and The Tale of The Princess Kaguya as a single DVD/two-Blu-ray Disc package. Only Yesterday follows the story of 27-year-old Taeko, who, having lived her whole life in the city, decides to visit relatives in the countryside. As she travels, memories of her youth resurface, and after meeting young farmer Toshio, she wonders if she’s been true to the dreams of her childhood. Bonus features include a making-of documentary, a behind-the-scenes featurette with the voice cast, an interview with the English dub team, feature-length storyboards, trailers and TV spots.

In The Tale of Princess Kaguya, a young girl who is found inside a shining stalk of bamboo by an old bamboo cutter and his wife grows into an exquisite young lady. The mysterious young princess who enthralls all who encounter her is forced to confront her fate and embark on a transformative journey. Bonus features include a feature-length documentary, “Isao Takahata and His Tale of the Princess Kaguya,” the official announcement of the completion of the film, trailers, and TV spots. In addition to the bonus features, the Steelbooks also include a booklet with art, as well as statements from the filmmakers.

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

House of Gucci

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Universal/MGM;
Drama;
Box Office $53.81 million;
$29.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for language, some sexual content, and brief nudity and violence.
Stars Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, Jared Leto, Jack Huston, Salma Hayek.

Based on the true story of the rise of the Gucci fashion empire and the fall of the family behind it, House of Gucci is presented by director Ridley Scott as a bit of a Shakespearean crime drama with a touch of farce.

Lady Gaga gives a commanding performance as Patrizia, who essentially seduces and marries Adam Driver’s Maurizio Gucci in the 1970s. Marizio is one of several heirs to the growing Gucci fashion house. Encouraged by Patrizia to maneuver to take control of the family business, Marizio finds himself alienating his uncle (Al Pacino) and buffoonish cousin (Jared Leto). Much to her chagrin, however, Marizio tires of her antics, and rather than risk losing her stake in the company to divorce, she decides to hire a hitman to kill him.

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The Blu-ray includes three short but solid featurettes about the making of the film. The 10-minute “The Rise of the House of Gucci” is a standard making-of featurette in which the various filmmakers and cast involved discuss how much they enjoyed the material and working with each other. The five-and-a-half-minute “The Lady of the House” examines Lady Gaga’s performance, while the five-and-a-half-minute “Styling House of Gucci” looks at the film’s elaborate costumes and production design.

‘House of Gucci’ Tops Redbox Disc Rentals; ‘Ghostbusters’ Still Leads on Digital Chart

MGM’s House of Gucci, distributed on disc by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, took over the top spot on Redbox’s disc rental chart the week ended Feb. 27.

The film, directed by Ridley Scott, stars Lady Gaga and Adam Driver as members of the Gucci fashion empire who get caught up in complicated family politics, leading to a murder scheme. The film earned $53.8 million at the domestic box office.

However, on the Redbox On Demand chart, which tracks digital VOD and sellthrough transactions, Gucci could only rise to No. 2, as Sony Pictures’ Ghostbusters: Afterlife was the top digital title for a fourth-consecutive week.

The franchise relaunch from director Jason Reitman, a sequel to the 1980s “Ghostbusters” films, tells the story of a family moving to Oklahoma and uncovering their connection to one of the original Ghostbusters. It dropped to No. 3 on the disc rental chart after three weeks in the top spot.

No. 2 on Redbox’s disc rental chart, which tracks DVD and Blu-ray Disc rentals at Redbox’s more than 40,000 red kiosks, was Lionsgate’s American Underdog. The biopic about Kurt Warner’s rise to becoming an unlikely NFL hall of famer was No. 3 on the digital chart.

Disney-owned Marvel Studios’ Eternals slipped a spot to No. 4 on the disc rental chart, and was No. 5 on the digital chart.

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The No. 4 digital title was Disney-owned 20th Century Studios’ The King’s Man, a prequel to the “Kingsman” action franchise.

The No. 5 disc rental was Universal’s female-driven actioner The 355.

Top DVD and Blu-ray Disc Rentals, Redbox Kiosks, Week Ended Feb. 27:

  1. House of Gucci — Universal/MGM
  2. American Underdog — Lionsgate
  3. Ghostbusters: Afterlife — Sony Pictures
  4. Eternals — Disney/Marvel
  5. The 355 — Universal
  6. Clifford the Big Red Dog — Paramount
  7. Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City — Sony Pictures
  8. Encanto — Disney
  9. King Richard — Warner
  10. Venom: Let There Be Carnage — Sony Pictures

 

Top Digital (VOD + Sellthrough), Redbox On Demand, Week Ended Feb. 27:

  1. Ghostbusters: Afterlife — Sony Pictures
  2. House of Gucci — MGM
  3. American Underdog — Lionsgate
  4. The King’s Man — 20th Century
  5. Eternals — Disney/Marvel
  6. F9: The Fast Saga — Universal
  7. Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City — Sony Pictures
  8. Venom: Let There Be Carnage — Sony Pictures
  9. The Ledge — Paramount
  10. King Richard — Warner

 

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‘No Time to Die’ Tops Disc Sales Charts for Third Week

MGM’s No Time to Die spent a third-consecutive week at No. 1 on the NPD VideoScan First Alert chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales, and the dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart the week ended Jan. 8.

Distributed on Blu-ray Disc and DVD by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, No Time to Die is the 25th James Bond film from EON Productions and the fifth to star Daniel Craig as Agent 007, his final turn in the role. The film earned $160.8 million at the domestic box office.

Sony Pictures’ Marvel Comics-inspired Venom: Let There Be Carnage stayed at No. 2 on both charts for a third week in its in its fourth week on shelves, while Disney-owned Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings remained No. 3 on both charts.

The week’s top newcomer was Disney-owned Searchlight Pictures’ Antlers, at No. 4 on both charts. Directed by Scott Cooper and produced by Guillermo del Toro, the film explores the myth of the dreaded “wendigo” as a small-town Oregon teacher (Keri Russell) and her brother (Jesse Plemons), the local sheriff, seek to help a troubled young boy who possesses a strange secret. It earned $10.6 million at the domestic box office.

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The No. 5 overall disc seller was Paramount’s first season of the Kevin Costner drama “Yellowstone.” Season two was No. 8 and season three was No. 6.

The No. 5 Blu-ray seller (No. 15 on the overall disc chart) was Funimation’s Demon Slayer: Mugen Train.

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The Media Play News rental chart for the week ended Jan. 9 saw Venom: Let There Be Carnage return to the No. 1 spot, pushing No Time to Die to No. 2.

Disney-owned 20th Century Studios’ The Last Duel remained the No. 3 rental, while Lionsgate’s Dangerous rose two spots to No. 4, and Disney-owned 20th Century Studios’ Free Guy remained No. 5.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 1-8-22
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 1-9-22
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 1-8-22
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 1-8-22
Sales Report for Week Ended 1-8-22
Digital Transactions Snapshot for Week Ended 1-10-22