Wonka

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 2/27/24;
Warner;
Musical;
Box Office $214.55 million;
$19.99 DVD, $24.99 Blu-ray, $29.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG’ for some violence, mild language and thematic elements.

Stars Timothée Chalamet, Calah Lane, Keegan-Michael Key, Paterson Joseph, Matt Lucas, Mathew Baynton, Sally Hawkins, Rowan Atkinson, Jim Carter, Olivia Colman, Hugh Grant.

Director Paul King’s prequel to Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a delightful exploration of the early days of famed candyman Willy Wonka.

With its catchy musical numbers and colorful production design, Wonka ties in excellently with the famed 1971 adaptation of the book, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

The story finds young Wonka (Timothée Chalamet) arriving in Europe with big dreams to open a candy shop filled with chocolates made from his late mother’s recipe. He quickly encounters two obstacles. First, he squanders all his money within moments of entering the big city, and is duped into spending the night at an unscrupulous boarding house that charges him so many hidden fees he’s consigned to years of labor in the laundry room to work it off. Then, when he and some newfound friends manage to sneak away to sell chocolate as a means of paying off their debts, they are confronted by the corrupt Chocolate Cartel, an alliance of the town’s three top candy makers who send the ever-fattening police chief (Keegan-Michael Key) to shut Wonka down.

Wonka also finds an unwitting ally in a sneaky Oompa-Loompa (Hugh Grant) who has been sent to recover valuable cocoa beans Wonka stole from Loompaland, and will not stop shadowing Wonka until he can steal enough chocolates back to satisfy the debt.

The film plays heavily on nostalgia for the 1971 movie, both in its visual references and in reusing such notable music cues as the Oompa-Loompa song and “Pure Imagination.” Wonka for the most part isn’t aiming to be much more than a cheesy, well-meaning romp, and its earnestness can’t help but put a smile on your face.

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The Blu-ray includes the usual batch of behind-the-scenes extras. The 12-and-a-half-minute “Unwrapping Wonka: Paul King’s Vision” covers the making of the film in general; The six-minute “The Whimsical Music of Wonka” deals with creating the film’s songs and score; “Welcome to Wonka Land” is an 11-minute look at creating the film’s sets; and the seven-minute “Hats Off to Wonka” focuses on the costumes.

‘Wonka’ the Golden Ticket at Weekend Box Office With $39 Million in Revenue

While only five lucky “Golden Ticket” winners were allowed to visit chocolatier Willy Wonka in Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory novel, many more moviegoers saw Timothée Chalamet play Wonka in Warner Bros. Pictures’ musical prequel in the franchise that bowed in 1971 with Paramount Pictures’ Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. 

Wonka generated $39 million in North American ticket sales, on top of $43 million in foreign box office revenue — a strong start for the $125 million reported production.

As expected, ticket sales dwarfed the competition, led by Lionsgate’s prequel The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, which saw its worldwide box top $300 million after taking in an estimated $5.8 million across North America screens, and an additional $6.5 million overseas. The North American tally stands at $145.24 million and overseas at $155.3 million.

The remaining Top 5 releases included former chart topper, GKIDS’ The Boy and the Heron at No. 3 with $5.1 million in revenue, upping its two-weekend North American tally above $23 million, and near $125 million globally.

Toho International’s sci-fi actioner Godzilla Minus One sold another $4.8 million worth of tickets, upping its North American tally past $30 million after two weekends, and $60.5 million globally.

Universal Pictures/DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls Band Together added $4 million in ticket sales, upping its five-week North American tally past $88 million and $183 million globally.

Separately, Sony Pictures/Apple Studios’ historical actioner Napoleon made $640,000 on Friday, $955,000 on Saturday and is projected to add $630,000 today across more than 2,601 screens. Sony is projecting $2.225 million for the weekend, bringing its total gross to more than $57 million through Sunday.

Paramount’s Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie grossed $1.6 million over the weekend across 26 foreign markets. The international total now stands at $132.2 million and the holdovers are off 40% from last week. The global just under $200 million.

Golden Globe nominated Killers of the Flower Moon added $210,000 across 25 markets, with the foreign total above $83 million, and $155 million worldwide. 

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Oscar-Nominated ‘Empire of Light’ Headed to Digital Feb. 7, Disc Feb. 21

The Oscar-nominated film Empire of Light will be released on digital Feb. 7 and on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Feb. 21 from Disney and Searchlight Pictures.

The film, which will also be available to stream on HBO Max Feb. 7, earned an Oscar nomination for Best Cinematography.

From director and writer Sam Mendes (1917, Skyfall), Empire of Light is a drama about the power of human connection during turbulent times. Set in and around a faded old cinema in an English coastal town in the early 1980s, it follows Hilary (Olivia Colman), a cinema manager struggling with her mental health, and Stephen (Micheal Ward), a new employee who longs to escape this provincial town in which he faces daily adversity. Both Hilary and Stephen find a sense of belonging through their unlikely and tender relationship and come to experience the healing power of music, cinema and community.

Special features include a behind-the-scenes featurette.

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‘Ron’s Gone Wrong’ Stars Donate Buddy Benches to Schools

To commemorate the recent Blu-ray Disc and digital release of Ron’s Gone Wrong, Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution on Dec. 17 announced that cast members Zach Galifianakis, Olivia Colman and Ed Helms will be donating “buddy benches” to schools of their choice.

The animated comedy from 20th Century Studios and Locksmith Animation centers on the adventures of a glitchy B*Bot called Ron and his human best friend, Barney. In the film, a well-meaning teacher creates a “buddy bench” at Barney’s school to help him make friends.

Galifianakis, who voices Ron, has pledged a bench to the Wilksboro Elementary School in his hometown of Wilksboro, N.C.

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Colman — who portrays Barney’s grandmother Donka — and her husband, writer Ed Sinclair, are giving a bench to the Holt Youth Project in Norfolk, U.K.

Helms, who plays Barney’s father Graham, is donating a bench to his alma mater, the Interlochen Center for the Arts.

Dedication ceremonies at each school will be held in early 2022.

Ron’s Gone Wrong was released on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Dec. 7. The film, which earned $22.9 million at the domestic box office, became available for digital purchase Dec. 15 — the same day it began streaming on both Disney+ and WarnerMedia’s HBO Max.

All Three Seasons of ‘Broadchurch’ to Stream on PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel Nov. 27

All three seasons of the crime thriller series “Broadchurch” will be available to stream on the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel and PBS Passport on Nov. 27.

The entire series will begin airing on PBS stations in 2022. 

Starring Academy Award-winner Olivia Colman and Emmy Award-winner David Tennant, “Broadchurch” (previously on Netflix) takes place in a seemingly calm and friendly seaside town that becomes wrapped in secrets when the death of an 11-year-old boy sparks an unwanted media frenzy. As the town’s locals start to open up about what they do and don’t know, it falls upon the police to catch the killer. 
 
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Set in Broadchurch, a fictional English town in Dorset, the series focuses on police detectives DI Alec Hardy (Tennant) and DS Ellie Miller (Colman) as they investigate the death of local 11-year-old Daniel “Danny” Latimer and the impact of grief, mutual suspicion and media attention on the town. The second season follows the dual storylines of bringing Danny’s killer to justice and a case from the past returning to haunt Hardy. The final season follows detectives Hardy and Miller as they try to solve another local crime that involves a serial sex offender, while the Latimer family goes to extreme lengths to move on from Danny’s death. 

The Crown: The Complete Fourth Season

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Sony Pictures;
Drama;
$45.99 DVD, $55.99 Blu-ray;

Not rated.
Stars Olivia Colman, Tobias Menzies, Helena Bonham Carter, Gillian Anderson, Josh O’Connor, Emma Corrin, Marion Bailey, Erin Doherty, Stephen Boxer, Emerald Fennell.

The acclaimed series about the British monarchy takes a turn in its fourth season to focus on the women who defined the United Kingdom in the 1980s.

With Elizabeth II (Olivia Colman) having served as Queen for several decades, the series shifts further away from dealing with her adjusting to the position, and puts more emphasis on examining the appropriateness of a monarchy in modern society, and the impact that open question has on Elizabeth, her husband, Prince Philip (Tobias Menzies), and their growing family.

In particular, the season introduces Princess Diana (Emma Corrin) and takes a hard look behind the scenes of her marriage to Prince Charles (Josh O’Connor), which famously ended in divorce before her tragic death in a car accident in 1997.

Diana is depicted as a bright-eyed teenager looking for a fairy tale life and getting a lot more than she expected, with Charles marrying her only out of convenience to satisfy the pressures of his hereditary duties. Much to the chagrin of his family, he remains in a discreet relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles, who the previous season had been deemed unsuitable as a match for the future king. Bowles is played by Emerald Fennell, who would go on to win a writing Oscar for Promising Young Woman.

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Meanwhile, the other major thread of the season concerns the rise of Margaret Thatcher (Gillian Anderson) as prime minister, who vows to reshape the country from the bottom up. This leads to a bit of a clash of personalities with the Queen, who doesn’t always see eye-to-eye with her policies — a disagreement that eventually spills out into the press in a breach of protocol that proves scandalous. Thatcher, in turn, finds the royal family to be a bit boorish and out of touch with her perception of the common British citizen. As they are roughly the same age, the season takes the obvious, but effective, move of exploring their parallel tracks toward leadership — working class republicanism versus aristocratic duty.

The season also hits upon some of the other historical milestones of the 1980s, such as the Falklands War, and even finds time for a welcome cameo from some familiar faces from earlier seasons. One fascinating detour involves focusing an episode on the story of Michael Fagan, an unemployed commoner who managed to break into Buckingham Palace in 1982 and managed to have a conversation with the Queen in her private bedroom.

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With this latest batch of 10 episodes, the series maintains its usually high marks for writing and acting, and while the veracity of certain off-the-record events might be open to scrutiny, its not hard to see why the season dominated at the Emmy Awards, sweeping the top seven categories for Drama Series, taking trophies for writing, directing, Best Supporting Actress for Anderson, Best Supporting Actor for Menzies, Best Actor for O’Connor, Best Actress for Colman, and Outstanding Drama Series. Academy voters were so eager to fête the series they even gave a Guest Star Emmy to Claire Foy, who already won an Emmy for playing the queen in the first two seasons, for a brief appearance as the younger queen in a flashback.

The Blu-ray includes three behind-the-scenes featurettes and a photo gallery.

The six-minute “Triumph & Tragedy: Diana & Charles” offers a brief look at the depiction of the season’s central relationship; the six-and-a-half-minute “Three Groundbreaking Women” focuses on the complicated relationships between Elizabeth and Thatcher, and Elizabeth and Diana. The general making of the series is covered in the eight-and-a-half-minute “Research, Costumes & More: The Making of Season 4,” an informative look at the process of researching the historic events that inspired the series.

The photo gallery is interesting as it presents stills of scenes from the series next to photos of the actual royals in the real-life situation upon which the scene was based.

While the season premiered on Netflix a year ago, the Blu-ray release is well timed, as the biopic Spencer with Kristen Stewart as Diana has just hit theaters.

Originally published as a streaming review Nov. 16, 2020.

Netflix Inks Maggie Gyllenhaal’s Directorial Debut ‘The Lost Daughter’

Netflix Aug. 5 announced it has acquired all remaining worldwide rights to The Lost Daughter from Endeavor Content. The film is the feature directorial debut of Academy Award nominated actor Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Gyllenhaal adapted the script based on the 2006 novel from best-selling author Elena Ferrante. In the movie, a woman’s beach vacation takes a dark turn when she begins to confront the troubles of her past. It features Academy Award and Emmy Award winner Olivia Colman (The Favourite, “The Crown”), Dakota Johnson (A Bigger Splash, The High Note), Peter Sarsgaard (Jackie) and Ed Harris (Westworld), among others.

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“I’m thrilled to be working with Netflix again,” Gyllenhaal said in a statement. “They have supported so much of the work I am most proud of, and this is no exception.  Netflix has consistently championed filmmakers that excite and inspire me and I’m delighted to be included in that company.”

“We are honored to be part of this special journey with Maggie, her extraordinary group of collaborators, and now our new partners at Netflix, to bring this powerfully complex story to audiences around the world,” added Endeavor Content’s Deborah McIntosh and Negeen Yazdi.

Production took place in Greece in 2020, and the film will make its world premiere at the 2021 Venice Film Festival.

The deal furthers Netflix’s relationship with Gyllenhaal, following the 2018 release of The Kindergarten Teacher, in which she starred.

Oscar-Lauded ‘The Father’ Due on Disc May 18

The drama The Father, which earned Anthony Hopkins a Best Actor Oscar, will come out on DVD and Blu-ray May 18 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film, nominated for a total of six Academy Awards, also earned an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.

It is already available for digital purchase.

In The Father, a man (Hopkins) refuses all assistance from his daughter (Olivia Colman) as he ages. As he tries to make sense of his changing circumstances, he begins to doubt his loved ones, his own mind and even the fabric of his reality.

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Special features include deleted scenes and the featurettes “Homecoming: Making The Father” and “Perception Check: Portrait of The Father.”

Netflix’s ‘Boss Baby,’ ‘The Crown’ Top TV Time Charts

Netflix’s “Boss Baby: Back in Business” was the top rising show and the service’s “The Crown” was the top binge program on the TV Time charts for the week ended Nov. 22.

“The Crown,” season four of which debuted Nov. 15, chronicles the continuing saga of the British royal family with the addition of a new princess, Diana, and the marital problems that ensue with her husband and heir to the throne Prince Charles. It also follows the friction between Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (Gillian Anderson) and Queen Elizabeth II (Olivia Colman). The series took the bronze on the rising show chart.

Coming in behind ABC’s long-running medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy” at No. 3 on the binge chart was “The Queen’s Gambit,” which debuted on Netflix Oct.  23. The limited series 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. Netflix Nov. 23 announced that 62 million  households had watched “The Queen’s Gambit” in its first 28 days, making it the service’s biggest limited series ever.

Top rising show “Boss Baby: Back in Business,” season four of which hit Netflix Nov. 17, is a computer-animated series produced by DreamWorks Animation that is a follow-up to the 2017 film The Boss Baby, based on the book by Marla Frazee.

Hulu’s “Animaniacs” is a reboot of the beloved 1990s animated series. It debuted Nov. 20 and features the original cast voices.

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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. 22 by Share of Binges:

  1. “The Crown” (Netflix) — 5.72%
  2. “Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC) — 2.24%
  3. “The Queen’s Gambit” (Netflix) — 2.22%
  4. “Modern Family” (ABC) — 1.66%
  5. “How to Get Away With Murder” (ABC) — 1.58%
  6. “The Office” (NBC) — 1.41%
  7. “Friends” (NBC) — 1.38%
  8. “One Piece” (Fuji TV) — 1.35%
  9. “Dash & Lily” (Netflix) — 1.33%
  10. “Supernatural” (The CW) — 1.26%

 

Top “Shows on the Rise” Week Ended Nov. 22 by Rise Ratio:

  1. “The Boss Baby: Back in Business” (Netflix) — 95.9%
  2. “Animaniacs” (Hulu) — 94.2%
  3. “The Crown” (Netflix) — 76%
  4. “FBI” (CBS) — 74.9%
  5. “Wizards of Waverly Place” (Disney Channel) — 64.1%
  6. “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” (Disney+) — 45.3%
  7. “NCIS” (CBS) — 40.6%
  8. “His Dark Materials” (BBC One) — 35%
  9. “Ethos” (Netflix) — 30.8%
  10. “Adventure Time” (Cartoon Network) — 27.8%

Netflix Leaves Globes With a Whimper

Fueled by 34 nominations, including 17 for movies, Netflix entered the Jan. 5 Golden Globes Awards in Los Angeles a heavy favorite to take home the hardware.

In the end, the SVOD behemoth walked off with just two Globes: Laura Dern’s win for Marriage Story and Olivia Colman starring in the third season of “The Crown.”

Hulu picked up awards for “Ramy” and “The Act,” while Amazon Prime Video won for “Fleabag.” Apple TV+’s high-profile “The Morning Show” failed to win despite several nominations.

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Netflix has high hopes for next month’s Academy Awards, notably with Martin Scorsese’s $150 million mobster movie The Irishman, starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci.

Yet the movie lost out at the Globes to Sam Mendes’ World War I trench warfare film, 1917, from Universal Pictures.

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