Bill & Ted Face the Music

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street Date 11/10/20;
Warner/MGM;
Sci-Fi Comedy;
Box Office $3.4 million;
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for some language.
Stars Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, Kristen Schaal, Samara Weaving, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Anthony Carrigan, Erinn Hayes, Jayma Mays, Holland Taylor, Kid Cudi, William Sadler, Jillian Bell, Hal Landon Jr., Beck Bennett, Amy Stoch.

The third “Bill & Ted” movie, coming 29 years after the second, turns the lengthy gap between sequels into an asset while bringing fans back into the familiar world of the franchise.

The film is something of homage to and an amalgam of the first two, which saw an emissary from the future, Rufus (played by the late George Carlin, who gets a tribute in the new film), travel back in time 700 years to put young slackers Bill and Ted (Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves) on course to bring about universal harmony with the music of their band, Wyld Stallyns.

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In the first film, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Rufus lends them a time machine in the shape of a phone booth to travel into the past to collect historical figures to pass their history report and graduate high school, assuring they can remain together. The second film, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, saw the duo the target of a future warlord who despises that society took inspiration from them. The robots he sends into the past to hunt them down succeed in killing them, but Bill and Ted are able to navigate the afterlife with the help of the Grim Reaper (William Sadler) to return to Earth, stop the robots, and win a battle of the bands on their path to superstardom.

As the third film opens, however, Bill and Ted have yet to write the song that will bring about global unity, and continue their desperate efforts to do so. Their lack of success has begun to tear the fabric of reality apart, leading to another emissary from the future, Rufus’ daughter (Kristen Schaal), to bring them a message from the Great Leader (Holland Taylor) chastising them for not fulfilling the prophecy.

Accordingly, Bill and Ted decide to visit their own future selves to try to find the song they were supposed to have written.

Meanwhile, their grown daughters Billie and Thea (Brigette Lundy-Paine and Samara Weaving), who were introduced as babies at the end of Bogus Journey, come up with a plan to go back in time to gather the greatest musicians in history to form the ultimate band to help their dads.

Meanwhile, the Great Leader re-interprets the prophecy of how Bill and Ted influence future society, and after coming to the conclusion they have to die to restore reality, sends a robot back in time to do the deed.

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Even under the direction of Dean Parisot (Galaxy Quest), Face the Music can’t match the energy levels of the first two films. This isn’t that surprising, though, since the film is dealing with the central theme of trying to live up to your potential even if the ability to do so seems to have passed you by. It’s a fun adventure that should elicit and lot of warm nostalgia smiles.

The Blu-ray comes with a handful of extras, led by the film’s 43-minute Comic-Con@Home panel. Hosted by Kevin Smith, whose Jay and Silent Bob characters drew obvious inspiration from Bill and Ted, the panel features several of the stars and key filmmakers participating through Zoom to discuss the making of the film and the origins of the franchise. The fact that the physical San Diego Comic-Con had to be canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic and replaced by an online one may prove to be something of a boon to Blu-ray and DVD bonus features, as the Virtual panels are yielding a slew of neatly packaged videos ready to plop on a disc or YouTube.

The other extras aren’t so extensive, consisting of four short promotional featurettes ranging from 50 to 80 seconds each.

 

Like, ‘Valley Girl’ Bows on Disc Oct. 6

Valley Girl, a musical romantic comedy adaptation of the 1983 film, arrives on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and MGM Oct. 6.

From MGM’s Orion Pictures and directed by Rachel Lee Goldenberg, the film stars Jessica Rothe (Happy Death Day, La La Land) as Julie Richman, Josh Whitehouse (The Knight Before Christmas) as Randy, Mae Whitman (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) as Jack, and Judy Greer (13 Going on 30, Ant-Man, 27 Dresses) as Diana.

Set to a new wave ’80s soundtrack, the film follows a pair of young lovers from different backgrounds defy their parents and friends to stay together.

The 1983 classic, directed by Martha Coolidge, starred Nicolas Cage and Deborah Foreman.

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‘Bill & Ted Face the Music’ VOD Release Moving Up to Aug. 28

Bill & Ted Face the Music will come out on VOD and in select theaters Aug. 28, moving up from the Sept. 1 date announced during Comic-Con@Home.

Bill & Ted star Alex Winter revealed the news on Twitter.

In the Orion Pictures film, the stakes are higher than ever for the time-traveling William  “Bill” S. Preston Esq. (Alex Winter) and Theodore  “Ted” Logan (Keanu Reeves). To fulfill their rock and roll destiny, the now middle-aged best friends set out on a new adventure when a visitor from the future warns them that only their song can save life as we know it. Along the way, they will be helped by their daughters, a new batch of historical figures, and a few music legends to seek the song that will set their world right and bring harmony in the universe.

 

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‘Bill & Ted Face the Music’ Getting Simultaneous VOD and Theatrical Release Sept. 1

Bill & Ted Face the Music, the third installment in the “Bill & Ted” franchise, is heading to VOD Sept. 1 on the same day it hits theaters (that are open).

In the Orion Pictures film, the stakes are higher than ever for the time-traveling William “Bill” S. Preston Esq. (Alex Winter) and Theodore “Ted” Logan (Keanu Reeves). To fulfill their rock and roll destiny, the now middle-aged best friends set out on a new adventure when a visitor from the future warns them that only their song can save life as we know it. Along the way, they will be helped by their daughters, a new batch of historical figures, and a few music legends to seek the song that will set their world right and bring harmony in the universe.

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Bill & Ted Face the Music is directed by Dean Parisot (Galaxy Quest), from a screenplay by Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon (Bill & Ted’s Excellent AdventureBill & Ted’s Bogus Journey).

The news came as Orion released the official poster and trailer during the online Comic-Con@Home.

The Hits Keep Coming as Summer Box Office Hopes Fade

Last week was one to forget for exhibitors, eager to re-start their business following months of lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. High-profile studio titles Mulan (Disney) and Tenet (Warner Bros.) were further delayed into August following renewed fears about COVID-19 infection spikes in California, Arizona, Texas and Florida, among other areas.

Then came news on June 26 that the long-delayed third installment in MGM’s Orion Pictures’ “Bill & Ted” sci-fi adult comedy franchise Bill & Ted Face the Music, starring Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter in their original roles, was being pushed back to Aug. 28 from Aug. 21 — the new date of the Mulan reschedule. Bill & Ted, about two metalhead slacker friends who travel through time, had been originally slated for Aug. 14. The original Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure launched in 1989, followed by Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey in 1991 — both starring Reeves and Winter — and grossing $78 million ($149 million today) collectively in theaters.

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Over the weekend, California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered bars closed again in Los Angeles and six other counties.

“This does not bode well for film and TV production, movie theaters, the restart of sports, including college athletics and theme parks,” Rich Greenfield with LightShed Partners, tweeted June 28.

Wedbush Securities media analyst Michael Pachter contends the box office won’t return to normal even as major chains such as AMC Theatres, Regal Cinemas and Cinemark, re-open screens next month.

“People may be eager to visit the theaters once they feel safe doing so, but we think it is unlikely crowds will return to any semblance of normal before a vaccine is widely distributed, particularly in urban and suburban markets,” Pachter wrote in a note.

Regardless, MGM has a lot riding on the movie, having just secured all remaining international territories (excluding China) for the movie from Endeavor Content. MGM had previously secured distribution in key international territories, including Germany, Greece, Latin America and the Middle East, among others. As part of the June 25 announced agreement, MGM will also distribute Face The Music throughout France, Italy, Spain, Japan, South Korea, Scandinavia, Taiwan, Thailand, Hong Kong, Hungary, Turkey, Benelux, Bulgaria, Singapore and Romania.

“[The movie] is the perfect dose of fun and nostalgia and universally relatable in its message to ‘be excellent to each other,'” Chris Ottinger, who heads MGM’s international distribution and acquisitions division, said in a statement.

Industry Veteran Herb Dorfman, Former Head of Orion Home Video, Dies at 77

Herb Dorfman, the former president of home entertainment at Orion Pictures, died Feb. 25 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease and dementia.

He was 77.

He is survived by his daughter, Alexandra Nickson (Nick Nickson), his grandchildren, Casey and Avery Nickson, his son, Eryq Dorfman, and his sister, Gail Greene (Marvin Greene).

Herb Dorfman

Nickson, SVP of TV Music at Dreamworks, says what she remembers best of her late father is “his passion and dedication to his profession, and how proud he was of me and my own personal success in music.”

Dorfman ran home entertainment at Orion Pictures from October 1987 until December 1996, on the eve of the studio’s sale to MGM. Considered a leading “mini major,” Orion during Dorfman’s tenure maintained a steady presence near the top of the home video charts at a time when success was measured by how many cassettes studios sold to video rental dealers, at up to $100 per cassette.

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Home video success during the Dorfman years came through such theatrical blockbusters as Mississippi Burning (1988), Dances with Wolves (1990) and The Silence of the Lambs (1991), the two latter films winning Best Picture Oscars.

Orion also had its share of theatrical flops, with films like the Jerry Lee Lewis biopic Great Balls of Fire and the dark comedy She-Devil, with Meryl Streep and Roseanne Barr, although they invariably wound up doing good business in rental stores as well.

Dorfman was considered a savvy and strategic marketer. Variety reported in December 1993, “Orion Home Video announced an unprecedented all-out promotional campaign for the video [release] of the beleaguered, lawsuit-prone Boxing Helena.”

Dorfman told the trade publication that the company “would embark on a megamarketing drive that would include mailing 16,000 screeners of the [film to video distributors] around the country. Helmer and scripter Jennifer Chambers Lynch and star Julian Sands also have agreed to do a promotional tour for vid distribs and dealers for the Feb. 23 homevid release — another unprecedented move for a vidcassette.”

Dorfman told Variety, “We want VCR users around the country to be able to understand more about the intricacies and the love affair you can have with a film of this caliber.”

The film, about a doctor who surgically removes the limbs of a voluptuous woman, earned only $2 million during its domestic theatrical run.

In April 1995, Supermarket News reported, “Jessica Lange’s Academy Award-winning performance in Blue Sky has greatly increased interest in the videotape, according to Orion Pictures. The PG-13 rated movie earned under $3 million at the box office, but nearly $9 million in video orders….” Dorfman told Supermarket News, “This is unprecedented at Orion.”

After Orion’s sale to MGM, Dorfman remained in the business, serving as president and CEO of his own firm, Steeplechase Entertainment Corp., from January 1997 to July 2009, and then serving as general manager of Porchlight Home Entertainment from August 2009 to January 2012.

Herbert Neil Dorfman was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Aug. 5, 1942. He spent his youth on the boardwalk in Coney Island, selling hotdogs and hanging out with friends at Steeplechase Park.

He later studied business administration at Brooklyn College, graduating in 1964 with a bachelor’s degree in marketing.

He began his career in record distribution sales, a job that took him all over the East Coast. He later served as SVP at budget record label Pickwick Distribution Companies from September 1980 to November 1984 and VP of sales and marketing at The Moss Music Group Inc. from January 1985 to September 1987.

His job with Orion brought him to Los Angeles, where he lived at the time of his death.

A memorial will be led by Rabbi Jay Seigal of Temple Beth Shalom at the Nickson residence in Santa Clarita, Calif. on Sunday, March 29, at 1 p.m.

Please email his daughter, Alexandra Nickson, at alexandranickson16@gmail.com for location details and other information.