HBO’s ‘The Undoing’ Arriving on Blu-ray and DVD March 23

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the six-episode limited series The Undoing on Blu-ray Disc and DVD March 23, 2021. It is available now through digital retailers.

The Undoing stars Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant as a married couple whose lives are upended by a violent death and a chain of terrible revelations. Based on the novel You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz, The Undoing was written and produced by David E. Kelley and directed by Susanne Bier. The cast also includes Edgar Ramirez, Noah Jupe, Lily Rabe, Noma Dumezweni, Sofie Gråbøl, Matilda De Angelis, Ismael Cruz Córdova and Donald Sutherland.

Extras include the featurettes “Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant Introduce The Undoing,” “Creating The Undoing” and “The Undoing Revelations.”

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Amazon’s ‘Truth Seekers,’ Netflix’s ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ Top TV Time Charts

Amazon’s “Truth Seekers” was the top rising show and Netflix’s “The Queen’s Gambit” the top binge on the TV Time charts for the week ended Nov. 1.

“The Queen’s Gambit,” which debuted on Netflix Oct.  23, is a coming-of-age story following a young Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy), abandoned and entrusted to a Kentucky orphanage in the late 1950s, who discovers an astonishing talent for chess while developing an addiction to tranquilizers provided by the state as a sedative for the children. The title landed at No. 8 on the rising show chart.

No. 1 rising show “Truth Seekers” debuted on Amazon Prime Video Oct. 30 in time for Halloween. The horror comedy follows paranormal investigators who set out to film ghost sightings and uncover a conspiracy that could bring about Armageddon.

Coming in at No. 2 on the binge chart was “Emily in Paris,” created, written and executive produced by Darren Star (“Sex and the City”). It debuted Oct. 2 on Netflix and follows Emily (Lily Collins), an ambitious 20-something marketing executive from Chicago, who unexpectedly lands her dream job in Paris when her company acquires a French luxury marketing company.

Taking the silver on the rising show chart was HBO’s “The Undoing,” which premiered Oct. 25. From writer David E. Kelley (Big Little Lies), the new limited series focuses on Grace Fraser (Nicole Kidman), a successful therapist, her devoted husband, Jonathan (Hugh Grant), and their young son, who attends an elite private school in New York City. A chasm opens in Grace’s seemingly perfect life: a violent death, a missing spouse and a chain of terrible revelations.

TV Time is a free TV viewership tracking app that tracks consumers’ viewing habits worldwide and is visited by more than 1 million consumers every day, according to the service. The weekly “Binge Report” ranks shows with the most binge sessions. A binge session is when four or more episodes of a show are watched and tracked in the app in a given day. The “Shows on the Rise” chart is calculated by determining the week-over-week growth in episodes watched for a given program. The network displayed is the network where the show first aired (e.g. “Friends” on NBC).

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Top Binge Shows Week Ended Nov. 1 by Share of Binges:

  1. “The Queen’s Gambit” (Netflix) — 2.25%
  2. “Emily in Paris” (Netflix) — 1.90%
  3. “Modern Family” (ABC) — 1.86%
  4. “The Haunting of Bly Manor” (Netflix) — 1.83%
  5. “How to Get Away With Murder” (ABC) — 1.72%
  6. “Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC) — 1.69%
  7. “The Office” (NBC) — 1.47%
  8. “Friends” (NBC) — 1.44%
  9. “One Piece” (Fuji TV) — 1.43%
  10. “Lucifer” (Netflix) — 1.25%

 

Top “Shows on the Rise” Week Ended Nov. 1 by Rise Ratio:

  1. “Truth Seekers” (Amazon Prime Video) — 99.9%
  2. “The Undoing” (HBO) — 99.8%
  3. “Il Collegio” (Rai 2) — 98.3%
  4. “Suburra: Blood on Rome” (Netflix) — 93.7%
  5. “Perdida” (Netflix) — 91.6%
  6. “The Mandalorian” (Disney+) — 89.7%
  7. “American Housewife” (ABC) — 84.2%
  8. “The Queen’s Gambit” (Netflix) — 78.8%
  9. “Super Dragon Ball Heroes” (YouTube) — 74.4%
  10. “This Is Us” (NBC) — 68.7%

 

HBO Max Meets Troubled Times With ‘A World of Calm’ Series

WarnerMedia’s SVOD service HBO Max has ordered the 10-episode “A World of Calm,” a TV experience that combines mesmeric imagery with narration by stars — including Mahershala Ali, Idris Elba, Oscar Isaac, Nicole Kidman, Zoë Kravitz, Lucy Liu, Cillian Murphy and Keanu Reeves.

HBO Max’s first project in the health and wellness space, “A World of Calm” is the result of a collaboration between the makers of Calm, the app for sleep, meditation and relaxation, and Nutopia, the team behind Nat Geo’s series “One Strange Rock.”

“A timely antidote for our modern lives, each half-hour episode takes audiences on an immersive visual journey into another world,” according to the press release.

“Building on Calm’s Sleep Stories — bedtime stories for grown-ups with more than 250 million listens — each relaxing tale is designed to transform how you feel,” the release states. “Transporting the viewer into tranquility through scientifically-engineered narratives, enchanting music and astounding footage, to naturally calm your body and soothe the mind, each story is brought to life by a different iconic voice.”

“With the considerable amount of stress and chaos we are all experiencing at this particularly challenging time, we could all use a bit of guided relaxation and ‘A World of Calm’ is here to help,” Jennifer O’Connell, EVP of non-fiction and kids programming for HBO Max, said in a statement. “With soothing imagery and tranquil narration, this is one HBO Max original that we hope becomes part of your daily routine.”

“We are thrilled to work with such amazing partners as HBO Max and Calm for this new cutting edge endeavor,” Nutopia CEO and founder Jane Root said in a statement. “Although this collaboration has been in the works for many months, this series has been entirely created during quarantine using Nutopia’s worldwide network of award-winning cinematographers and filmmakers. We hope this series of serene stories will bring a sense of much needed calm to audiences.”

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“Calm started life as a meditation app but the brand has evolved far beyond that,” Calm co-founder and co-CEO Michael Acton Smith said in a statement. “We are delighted to bring the magic behind our audio Sleep Stories to the screen for the first time.  These experiences are visual Valium and will help people relax and unwind during these stressful times.”

The series is co-produced by Calm and Nutopia with Root, Nicola Moody, Smith and Chris Advansun serving as executive producers, and Sara Brailsford and Fiona Caldwell as co-executive producers.

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Days of Thunder

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Paramount;
Drama;
$29.99 Blu-ray, $29.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13.’
Stars Tom Cruise, Robert Duvall, Randy Quaid, Nicole Kidman, Michael Rooker, Cary Elwes, John C. Reilly, Fred Dalton Thompson.

Almost immediately upon its release in 1990, Days of Thunder was labeled by critics as a car racing version of Top Gun, a reputation that isn’t exactly unearned.

Days of Thunder shares the same production team of Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson, the same director in Tony Scott, and also stars Tom Cruise, who plays another hotshot looking to fulfill his need for speed with reckless abandon.

In this case, Cruise’s character is named Cole Trickle, an Indy circuit washout looking to make a name for himself in NASCAR. He takes on the mentorship of a master pit crew chief played by Robert Duvall, but a devastating crash shakes his confidence.

Robert Towne’s screenplay (with Cruise sharing a story credit) throws not one but two rivals at Trickle. First is Michael Rooker’s Rowdy Burns, the top dog of the circuit whose career is cut short in the same wreck that impairs Cole. When they become fast friends due to shared misfortune, Rowdy asks Cole to take over his racing team, setting up the showdown with rival No. 2, another rookie driver named Russ Wheeler, played by Cary Elwes, whose blink-and-you’ll-miss-it introduction obscures a rise through the ranks so unexpectedly rapid that one wonders why the movie isn’t about him.

The requisite love interest, which like with Top Gun comes with professional complications, is Cole’s and Rowdy’s neurologist, played by Nicole Kidman, who was 22 at the time of filming lest anyone wish to question the likelihood of her character’s medical credentials. The swirling rumors of the day suggested Cruise became enamored with Kidman after seeing her in 1989’s Dead Calm and arranged for her to be in Days of Thunder so they could meet. When 1990 began he had been married to Mimi Rogers, but divorced her in February. Cruise and Kidman were married from December 1990, six months after Days of Thunder hit theaters, to 2001.

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For the most part, Days of Thunder comes across as a series of exciting racing scenes and establishing shots of NASCAR speedways strung together with a by-the-numbers plot and some perfunctory dialogue. Duvall is as good as he usually is, while Cole Trickle is such a stock character in the Tom Cruise mold that naming him is more a screenwriting formality than a necessity of the story.

This new edition of Days of Thunder is presented as both a standalone Blu-ray under the “Paramount Presents” label, as well as a 4K Ultra HD disc with digital copy. The 4K version doesn’t come with a separate Blu-ray Disc, which is something of a break from the industry norm of 4K/Blu-ray combo packs, so consumers will have to pick whether they want the higher-definition resolution of the 4K version or the fancy Paramount Presents slipcover with fold-out movie poster. The film looks great either way, particularly because the racing footage is so good.

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The new Days of Thunder Blu-ray seems to have avoided the fate of most of the other titles in the Paramount Presents line, which to this point has offered Blu-ray re-releases with most of the bonus materials from previous editions left out this go-around (it seems anything previously available only in SD got the axe, with maybe a new short retrospective featurette to replace it).  That’s because the previous Days of Thunder Blu-ray from 2008 had zero extras on it aside from the film’s trailer, so anything offered here is a step up. The extras, sparse as they may be, are the same on both the Blu-ray and 4K discs.

The new discs don’t include the trailer, but they do have a seven-minute “Filmmaker Focus” featurette which is essentially a retrospective interview with Bruckheimer interspersed with clips from the movie.

There’s also an isolated audio track containing just Hans Zimmer’s musical score, his first of many collaborations with the Bruckheimer/Simpson team. Zimmer’s music is a highlight of the movie, but compared with the rest of Zimmer’s works it comes across as one of the more generic efforts in a career built on establishing a baseline sound for reliable action cues.

Special Offer From ‘MPN’ and Lionsgate: Digital Code Giveaway to Titles Including ‘Bombshell’ for Women’s History Month

In honor of Women’s History Month, Lionsgate and Media Play News are offering the first five readers who comment on this story ON INSTAGRAM and follow MPN on Instagram free digital codes for one of five movies: Bombshell, Judy, A Simple Favor, The Hunger Games and The Spy Who Dumped Me.

You can follow us on Instagram and see the story post here.

Title choice will be based on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Margot Robbie (left) and Kate McKinnon in Bombshell

Bombshell was nominated for two Academy Awards, Best Actress (Charlize Theron) and Best Supporting Actress (Margot Robbie), and won the Oscar for Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling (Kazu Hiro, Anne Morgan and Vivian Baker). Theron, Nicole Kidman, Robbie and John Lithgow (as Roger Ailes) star in the film based on the real story of three ambitious, strong women who anchored one of America’s most powerful news networks, Fox News, becoming headlines themselves when they risked everything to stand up to the man who made them famous. The film also stars Kate McKinnon, Connie Britton, Malcolm McDowell and Allison Janney. Bonus features include a seven-part, making-of documentary featuring interviews with the cast and crew.

Judy

The Judy Garland biopic Judy stars Oscar winner Renee Zellweger as Garland, 30 years after rising to global stardom in The Wizard of Oz, arriving in London to perform a five-week sold-out run at The Talk of the Town. While preparing for the shows, Garland battles with management, reminisces with friends and adoring fans, and embarks on a whirlwind romance with soon-to-be fifth husband Mickey Deans — all while struggling to overcome anxiety and physical decline. Shedding light on Garland’s final years, the film features perfomances of some of her best-known songs, such as “Over the Rainbow,” “For Once In My Life” and “Come Rain or Come Shine.” The cast also includes Jessie Buckley, Finn Wittrock, Rufus Sewell and Michael Gambon. Extras include the theatrical trailer, an image gallery and the featurette “From the Heart: The Making of Judy.

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A Simple Favor

A Simple Favor stars Anna Kendrick (Pitch PerfectTrolls) and Blake Lively (The ShallowsThe Age of Adaline, TV’s “Gossip Girl”) in a thriller from director Paul Feig (BridesmaidsGhostbusters, TV’s “Freaks and Geek,” TV’s “The Office”) based on the novel by Darcey Bell. The film also stars Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians), Andrew Rannells (TV’s “Girls,” TV’s “The Knick”), Linda Cardellini (TV’s “Freaks and Geeks,” Hunter Killer) and Rupert Friend (TV’s “Homeland”). The story follows Stephanie (Kendrick), a mommy vlogger who seeks to uncover the truth behind her best friend Emily’s (Lively) sudden disappearance from their small town. Stephanie is joined by Emily’s husband Sean (Golding). Special features  include three audio commentaries with the cast and crew, eight making-of featurettes, a gag reel, deleted scenes, and an alternate ending.

Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon in The Spy Who Dumped Me.

The comedy The Spy Who Dumped Me, starring Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon, follows Audrey (Kunis) and Morgan (McKinnon), two 30-year-old best friends in Los Angeles who are thrust unexpectedly into an international conspiracy when Audrey’s ex-boyfriend shows up at their apartment with a team of deadly assassins on his trail. Also starring in the film are Justin Theroux (The Girl on the Train, TV’s “The Leftovers”), Hasan Minhaj (TV’s “The Daily Show”) and Sam Heughan (TV’s “Outlander”). Special features include deleted scenes, outtakes and four making-of featurettes.

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games stars Jennifer Lawrence in a dystopian story based on the book series. In the film, Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence) voluntarily takes her younger sister’s place in the Hunger Games, a televised competition in which two teenagers from each of the 12 Districts of Panem are chosen at random to fight to the death.

‘Bombshell’ Strikes Home

The dynamic trio of Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie powers Bombshell.

The three acclaimed actresses are at the center of the Oscar-lauded film based on the real story of ambitious, strong women who anchored one of America’s most powerful news networks, Fox News, becoming headlines themselves when they risked everything to stand up to the man who made them famous, Roger Ailes.

Available now on digital, Blu-ray combo pack and DVD from Lionsgate, Bombshell earned Academy Award nominations for Best Actress (Charlize Theron) and Best Supporting Actress (Margot Robbie), and won the Oscar for Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling.

Theron, who also produced the film, notes in the disc extras it was “a great opportunity for a lot of talented women to come together and tell an important story.”

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“It was lovely to be able to join forces with these women and hopefully inspire people to say, ‘I don’t need to put up with this,’” adds Kidman.

Charlize Theron as Megyn Kelly

Bombshell is a candid exploration of the sexual harassment scandal that brought down the powerful Ailes. Theron plays Megyn Kelly, an anchor at the height of her power. Kidman is Gretchen Carlson, the former anchor who sues Ailes, bringing the harassment to light. Robbie plays up-and-comer Kayla Pospisil, a fictional, composite character based on other individuals.

The three women appear in only one scene together, which proved to be one of the most striking in the movie. A scene in which they ride in the same elevator with little dialog was not originally in the script, but it turned out to be so impactful that it provided a key image for the film’s teaser.

Nicole Kidman as Gretchen Carlson

“It was great to be able to have a scene with almost no dialog that still says a lot,” Kidman says in the extras.

“We don’t say anything to each other, and I think that’s the whole point of the scene, that we do not reach out and in a way our problems are unresolved because we have isolated ourselves,” adds Robbie.

“Charlize, Nicole and Margo are, well, a dream team,” says John Lithgow in the disc extras. Lithgow plays Ailes and made a point of telling the women in the film he was going to have to be nasty to them in the role.

John Lithgow as Roger Ailes

Despite playing the villain, Lithgow brought complexity to the character.

“He never shied away from the fact that this guy Roger Ailes was incredibly charismatic and that people loved him,” Theron notes.

“What I look for always in playing a bad guy is a sort of core of insecurity, what in the world makes them that way, how do you show the fact that he may do bad things, but he hates doing them,” Lithgow explains in the extras.

One of the most emotionally wrenching scenes in the film takes place between Lithgow as Ailes and Robbie’s Kayla as she slowly becomes aware of his abusive intentions.

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“The man is in the grips of his own compulsions, and he hates himself for it,” Lithgow says in the extras.

While the actors had a firm grip on the inner life of their characters, transforming them to resemble their real-life counterparts also added to the drama, winning makeup and hairstyling creators Kazu Hiro, Anne Morgan and Vivian Baker an Academy Award.

Detailed in the disc extras are the hours of work with prosthetics and makeup that it took to turn the actors into well-known personalities. Kidman wore chin and body enhancements as Carlson, and Lithgow wore six prosthetics and a body suit as Ailes. Theron, who listened to hours of interviews to mimic Kelly’s voice, wore nose plugs and cheek, eyelid, chin and nose prosthetics to replicate Kelly’s look.

“The look match was really important to her,” says director Jay Roach in the extras, adding she wanted to see herself in the mirror and not recognize herself.

“We ended up so close to Megan’s features,” Theron adds, crediting Hiro’s artistry.

An ensemble of accomplished actors, including Kate McKinnon, Connie Britton, Malcolm McDowell (as media tycoon Rupert Murdoch) and Allison Janney also joined in crafting a complicated but sharply told story that filmmakers hope will start a conversation — without preaching.

“I personally don’t want to go and watch a movie that I feel is preaching to me,” says Theron, who credits Roach’s comedy background in helping to bring realism to the film.

“You feel like you’re really there in the room with those people,” she says.

Blu-ray/DVD/Digital special features include the “No Easy Truths: The Making of Bombshell” seven-part documentary:

  • “Convergence: Genesis of the Film” Featurette
  • “Quid Pro Quo: Charlize, Nicole, Margot, John” Featurette
  • “Human Dynamics: The Ensemble Cast” Featurette
  • “Breaking the Fourth Wall: Visual Design” Featurette
  • “Layer by Layer: Makeup, Hair & Clothing” Featurette
  • “A Unique Skill Set: Jay Roach” Featurette
  • “Catalyst for Change: Parting Thoughts” Featurette

Oscar-Nominated ‘Bombshell’ Due on Digital Feb. 25, Disc March 10 From Lionsgate

The Oscar-nominated Bombshell is coming home on digital Feb. 25 and on Blu-ray combo pack and DVD March 10 from Lionsgate.

The film has been nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Actress (Charlize Theron), Best Supporting Actress (Margot Robbie), and Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling (Kazu Hiro, Anne Morgan and Vivian Baker).

Theron, Nicole Kidman, Robbie and John Lithgow (as Roger Ailes) star in the film based on the real story of three ambitious, strong women who anchored one of America’s most powerful news networks, Fox News, becoming headlines themselves when they risked everything to stand up to the man who made them famous.

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The film also stars Kate McKinnon, Connie Britton, Malcolm McDowell and Allison Janney.

Disc bonus features include a seven-part making-of documentary featuring interviews with the cast and crew.

‘Big Little Lies’ Second Season on Disc Jan. 7

The second season of HBO’s “Big Little Lies” will be released on DVD Jan. 7 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. A Blu-ray version will be released by Warner Archive.

The returning cast includes Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern and Zoё Kravitz. In season two, the “Monterey Five” bond together to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives after the events of season one, while Perry’s grieving mother (Meryl Streep) comes to town in search of answers about her son’s death.

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The home video release will include all seven episodes, plus the featurette “The Lies Revealed: A Conversation With the Cast.”

Warner is also releasing a DVD two-pack containing both seasons of the series. The show is also available to own through digital retailers.

 

Hulu Touts 28 Million Subscribers, 58 Million Users

Hulu May 1 disclosed it has 28 million subscribers, including 26.8 million paid and 1.3 million promotional accounts. The service claims 58 million “subscribers” when adding in password sharing. Hulu ended 2018 with 25 million subs.

Netflix ended its most-recent fiscal period with 60.2 million paid subs in the United States, excluding 1.56 million free trials.

The SVOD service co-owned by Disney and Comcast revealed the data during its Hulu ‘19 Presentation at The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, N.Y.

“In today’s direct-to-consumer world, viewers are demanding better when it comes to TV — from the user experience to their content choices to the advertising,” CEO Randy Freer said in a statement. “Hulu’s continued growth, as well as the shows and initiatives announced today, reflect our deep investment in product, programming, brand, customer experience and business strategy to ensure that with Hulu, consumers can connect with the stories they love, at the right time and price, on any device.”

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Hulu’s strong uptick in subscribers comes following years of minimal sub gains as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video saw their sub bases grow exponentially.

With Disney assuming majority control of Hulu following its $71.3 billion acquisition of 2oth Century Fox Film Corp., the company is staking much of its over-the-top video future on Hulu and pending SVOD service Disney+.

Separately, Hulu said it has expanded its Marvel partnership for two new live-action series, with “Marvel’s Ghost Rider” and “Marvel’s Helstrom” slated to debut on Hulu in 2020.

The series come after Netflix ended its run of original Marvel TV series.

Hulu is also partnering with Vox Media Studios, David Chang’s Majordomo Media, and Chrissy Teigen’s Suit & Thai Productions to develop and produce a slate of food-centric programming.

Nicole Kidman and Emmy-winning producer Bruna Papandrea will adapt the latest book by New York Times bestselling author Liane Moriarty, Nine Perfect Strangers, for Hulu via their respective production companies.

Emmy-winning producer David E. Kelley and John Henry Butterworth will co-showrun and co-write the series.

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

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

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

The film earned $106.2 million in theaters.

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