Merchandising: ‘Bumblebee’ Exclusives Centered on Retailers

While Paramount’s Bumblebee was the biggest new release of April 2, it didn’t arrive with much in the way of exclusive editions. Rather, two of the big three retailers touted the title with promotions for their own services.

Target, for example, offered a free $5 store gift card with the purchase of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack of Bumblebee, priced at $29.99.

Walmart offered the Blu-ray and Ultra HD Blu-ray combo packs with a digital copy of the original 2007 Transformers film redeemable through Walmart’s proprietary Vudu digital storefront.

Best Buy, typically for them, offered a Steelbook edition of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, at $32.99.

Best Buy ‘Bumblebee’ Steelbook

Bumblebee

 BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 4/2/19;
Paramount;
Sci-Fi;
Box Office $127.2 million;
$29.99 DVD, $31.99 Blu-ray, $34.99. UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of sci-fi action violence.
Stars Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., John Ortiz, Jason Drucker, Pamela Adlon, Stephen Schneider, Glynn Turman, Len Cariou. Voices of Dylan O’Brien, Angela Bassett, Justin Theroux, Peter Cullen.

It’s hard to deny that the five live-action “Transformers” films have just about worn out their welcome even among the most avid fans of the franchise and toy line on which it’s based. With the movies for the most part having devolved into spectacles of mind-numbing action, incomprehensible plotting, unrecognizable characters and a jumble of references to the iconic “Transformers” lore established in the old cartoons and comic books, it was clear a change in direction was in order.

Bumblebee, directed by stop-motion animation veteran Travis Knight, is just the creative spark the franchise needed to re-connect with the audience, returning to the basics of the brand’s premise without over-complicating the story with an abundance of jokey characters and a fetish for the military industrial complex.

As the sixth live-action “Transformers” film, Bumblebee could be seen as either a prequel to the other five, or as a reboot, depending on what direction producers decide to take it in the future. There are obvious references to the other films embedded throughout, so if further movies didn’t materialize then it plays pretty well as a prequel, with some mental gymnastics employed to explain away moments where the story seems to completely ignore what has been established in the earlier films.

It’s somewhat evident that an earlier iteration of the movie was meant to more closely align with Bay’s world, particularly since a comic book prelude released before the film depicts Bumblebee working with the British secret service in the 1960s, playing off his involvement in World War II in the fifth film. Bumblebee, on the other hand, shows him landing on Earth in 1987, which isn’t necessarily inconsistent, but raises a few questions. An alternate opening sequence — included among the Blu-ray’s 19 minutes of deleted scenes — is a bit more vague about Bumblebee’s arrival on Earth.

So, in the same vein as X-Men: First Class, it wouldn’t be surprising if future sequels didn’t bother connecting to the existing continuity, though, recently one of the film’s producers indicated future installments would lean more toward the Bay continuity after all.

Bumblebee plays like a throwback to a 1980s Steven Spielberg movie, while the story is somewhat of a gender-swapped version of the set-up to the 2007 film, in which Shia LeBeouf came across Bumblebee in a used-car lot.

Fleeing from the Decepticon conquest of his home planet of Cybertron, Bumblebee crashes on Earth and loses his memory. Having taken on the disguise of a 1960s Volkswagen Beetle, he is discovered in a junkyard by Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld), a mechanically inclined rebellious teenager looking for meaning in her life following the sudden death of her father. She repairs Bumblebee and learns that he’s an alien robot with the ability to transform into a car. And he’s being pursued by the U.S. military and Decepticon bounty hunters. With Charlie’s help, Bumblebee starts to regain his identity enough to remember the mission given to him by Autobot leader Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) to protect Earth from the Decepticons so the Autobots can use it as a base to regroup.

The film comes to life with seamless visual effects that look great on Blu-ray, and a soundtrack peppered with some of the top hits of the 1980s.

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The girl and her living car angle might also bring to mind Herbie: Fully Loaded, which itself was an attempt to freshen up a shopworn franchise. For the most part, though, Bumblebee offers up a good chunk of the kind of “Transformers” fun that fans have been waiting to see since the 1980s, particularly the battles on Cybertron.

The Blu-ray also comes with a mini-comic featuring Bumblebee’s next adventure, in which he tussles with another Decepticon who has come looking for him. One of the extras on the disc is a motion comic containing this story with an extended ending that more explicitly ties Bumblebee to the events of the first Bay movie.

The disc also contains 10 minutes of outtakes, a four-minute profile of various “Transformers” characters with their “Generation One”-inspired designs, and 47 minutes of decent behind-the-scenes featurettes.

‘What Men Want’ Due on Digital April 23, Disc May 7 From Paramount

The comedy What Men Want, starring Taraji P. Henson, will come out on digital April 23 and Blu-ray combo pack and DVD May 7 from Paramount Home Media Distribution.

The film earned $50.1 million in theaters.

Ali Davis (Henson) is a successful sports agent who’s constantly boxed out by her male colleagues. After a wild night out with the girls, she mysteriously gains the ability to hear men’s thoughts. With her newfound power, Ali looks to outsmart her colleagues as she races to sign the next basketball superstar, but the lengths she has to go to will put her relationship with her best friends and new love interest to the test. The film also stars Aldis Hodge, Richard Roundtree, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Erykah Badu, Max Greenfield and Tracy Morgan.

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The digital and Blu-ray combo pack (with a digital copy) releases include more than an hour of bonus features, including a gag reel, deleted and extended scenes, a spoof infomercial featuring Badu, and interviews with the cast. The Blu-ray also features a commentary with director Adam Shankman.

Paramount Releasing ’13 Hours’ in 4K UHD June 11

Paramount Home Media Distribution will release director Michael Bay’s 2016 docudrama 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and digital June 11.

Starring John Krasinski, James Badge Dale and Pablo Schreiber, 13 Hours recounts the story of the unite of elite ex-military operators who fought to protect a CIA compound in Libya from a terrorist attack in 2012.

The two-disc UHD Blu-ray includes more than an hour of behind-the-scenes bonus material.

 

‘South Park’ Season 22 on Disc May 28

Paramount Home Media Distribution will release Comedy Central’s South Park: The Complete Twenty-Second Season on Blu-ray and DVD May 28.

The 10 episodes showcase Cartman, Kenny, Stan, Kyle, Butters and the rest of the South Park gang as they deal with legalized weed, an Amazon distribution center, e-scooters and an attack by ManBearPig.

The two-disc sets will include deleted scenes and mini-commentaries on all episodes by “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. The Blu-ray also includes #SocialCommentary on all episodes.

Paramount to Bow 1989’s ‘Pet Sematary’ on 4K UHD in Time for Theatrical Release of Remake

Written for the screen by author Stephen King based on his bestseller, director Mary Lambert’s 1989 horror film Pet Sematary will stalk home entertainment on 4K Ultra HD combo pack and Blu-ray March 26 from Paramount Home Media Distribution.

The film, which earned more than $57 million to become the highest grossing horror film of the time, according to the studio, is being re-released in time for the debut of the studio’s theatrical remake April 5. The story follows the Creed family who, after their cat is accidentally killed, takes the advice of a friendly neighbor and buries it in a mysterious nearby cemetery. When the cat comes back, it’s only the beginning of an unthinkable evil.

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Pet Sematary will mark its 30th anniversary newly remastered in 4K under the supervision of Lambert with new bonus content, which includes the cast and crew of Paramount’s new adaptation discussing the original film’s impact and the lasting legacy of its story; a new interview with Lambert about her memories making the film, the restoration, and King’s enduring influence; and new photo galleries with behind-the-scenes images, original storyboards and vintage ads.

The 4K Ultra HD disc also features Dolby Vision.  For the 4K restoration, Lambert and Paramount went back to the original film negative to rescan it in order to recapture the original detail.

“The shadows are much softer and the colors are richer…and it looks amazing,” said Lambert in a statement.

In addition to the new bonus material, both the 4K Blu-ray and Blu-ray feature access to a digital copy of the film and previously released bonus material, including commentary by Lambert, a guided tour of the locations led by King along with an exploration of the origins of the novel, an introduction to the cast and characters, and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film.

’13 Reasons Why’ Season Two on DVD May 21

Paramount Home Media Distribution will release 13 Reasons Why: Season 2 on DVD May 21 (predorder date April 9).

The Netflix series revolves around high school student Clay Jensen dealing with the suicide of his friend Hannah after facing abuse.

In the second season, efforts to keep the truth about Hannah’s death are underway, while a series of ominous Polaroids leads Clay and his classmates to the discovery that Hannah wasn’t the only one to suffer.

The four-DVD set includes all 13 episodes.

Paramount Touts ‘Instant Family’ With ‘Kidsave’ Event

Paramount Pictures hosted Kidsave’s Weekend Miracles Event March 2 on the studio lot, giving interested families and older foster youth an opportunity to engage and connect through fun interactive activities.

Kidsave is a nonprofit dedicated to helping older kids find families by safely introducing them to caring adults first through interactive, fun events and ultimately through weekend hosting visits. Host families mentor the kids and introduce them to prospective adoptive parents. The kids are empowered to select hosts they are interested in getting to know more, flipping the idea of a traditional adoption event; 75% of kids are adopted or remain connected to an adult they met through Kidsave.

The event was kicked off by Sean Anders, who wrote and directed the film Instant Family, which was inspired by his real-life experience adopting three older children out of foster care. Instant Family is available now digitally, and arrives on Blu-ray and DVD March 5 from Paramount Home Media Distribution.

Showtime’s ‘Escape at Dannemora’ on DVD April 16

Paramount Home Media Distribution and CBS Home Entertainment will release Showtime’s award-winning limited series Escape at Dannemora on DVD April 16.

Escape at Dannemora follows the true story of two convicted murderers (played by Benicio Del Toro and Paul Dano) who escaped a correctional facility with the help of a female prison employee (played by Patricia Arquette, who won a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild award for best actress in a limited series).

The cast also includes Bonnie Hunt, Eric Lange and David Morse. The series was executive produced and directed by Ben Stiller.

The DVD features all seven episodes plus special features.

‘Transformers’ Spinoff ‘Bumblebee’ Due Digitally March 19, on Disc April 2 From Paramount

Paramount Home Media Entertainment will release the latest live-action “Transformers” movie, Bumblebee, through digital retailers March 19, and on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray April 2.

The film from director Travis Knight follows an earlier mission of the Autobot warrior Bumblebee, sent by Optimus Prime to protect Earth  from the Decepticons following the fall of Cybertron. Damaged in battle and unable to remember his true identity, he forges a friendship with Charlie Watson (Hailee Steinfeld), a teenager trying to find her place in the world who discovers and repairs the battle-scarred robot after finding him in 1987 disguised as a Volkswagen Beetle. Meanwhile, a military group led by Agent Burns (John Cena) makes a pact with Decepticon bounty hunters to seek out any Autobots seeking refuge.

The film earned $125.9 million at the domestic box office.

The digital and Blu-ray releases include Sector 7 Adventures: The Battle at Half Dome, a new motion comic following Bumblebee on his next adventure. The Blu-ray combo packs will include an exclusive printed version of the new motion comic for a limited time.

The motion comic is part of the “Sector 7 Archive” along with “Agent Burns: Welcome to Sector 7.”

Other Blu-ray and digital extras include deleted and extended scenes, including the original opening sequence; outtakes; a “Bee Vision” look at Generation 1-inspired Transformers characters on Cybertron; and several “Bringing Bumblebee to the Big Screen” featurettes, including “The Story of Bumblebee,” “The Stars Align,” “Bumblebee Goes Back to G1,” “Back to the Beetle” and “California Cruisin’ Down Memory Lane.”

The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and digital releases will feature Dolby Vision HDR and a Dolby Atmos soundtrack remixed specifically for home theaters.