This Week’s MPN Podcast: ‘Wakanda Forever’ Revisited; ‘Peacemaker’ Achieves Cult Status

On this week’s episode of the Media Play News Podcast, hosts Charles Parkman and Charlie Showley divert from the usual format to dig deep into what they’ve been watching and what’s been going on in the film industry.

First up, the hosts talk about the themes of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and some of the characters’ motivations and portrayals. According to Charles, in the original Marvel comics the anti-hero Namor was half-Atlantean and half-human, but since DC’s recent portrayal of Aquaman featured that exact backstory, the version of Namor in Wakanda Forever was tweaked to be a descendant of the Mayans.

At the box office, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever maintains its top spot and worldwide has grossed over $500 million in its first 10 days of release. It’s projected to make just shy of $900 million.

In the second spot is The Menu, a small-budget movie Charlie has been interested in since it’s been marketed as a horror movie but is written by two comedy writer veterans whose resumés include “The Onion,” “Last Week Tonight” and “Comedy Bang Bang.” Meanwhile, arriving this week on Blu-ray is season one of HBO Max’s “Peacemaker,” which Charles highly recommends. As the direct sequel to James Gunn’s soft reboot/sequel The Suicide Squad, it garnered a strong cult following since its inception and is already greenlighted for a second season.

Lastly, we have some news out of Avatar 2’s production in a GQ interview with director James Cameron. Cameron has been pitching the long-awaited sequel as “the worst business case in movie history” as he alleges it will need to be one of the world’s highest-grossing movies of all time just to break even. In the interview, he recalls speaking to a Fox executive about production of the original Avatar: “I think this movie is going to make all the money … that’s exactly what I said, in caps, ALL THE MONEY, not some of the money, all the money.” Since Avatar remains the highest-grossing movie of all time, having made $2.9 billion to date, it’s fair to say Cameron called his shot and is confident about the performance of Avatar 2.

Nov. 22 Home Video Releases Include ‘Peacemaker,’ ‘Bros’ on Disc, ‘Black Adam,’ ‘Woman King,’ ‘Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile’ on Digital

Nov. 22 sees new Blu-ray and DVD releases for Peacemaker: The Complete First Season and Bros, while titles now available for digital purchase include Black Adam, The Woman King and Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Nov. 22 releases Peacemaker: The Complete First Season. The HBO Max original series produced by James Gunn is a spinoff of The Suicide Squad and stars John Cena as the title character, a violent enforcer who will do whatever it takes to achieve peace, as he is recruited into a covert team to take on alien parasites that reside within human bodies and take over the identities of those they possess. A second season of “Peacemaker” and additional spinoffs are already in development.

The gay rom-com Bros will be available to own digitally and on Blu-ray and DVD Nov. 22 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. Four-time Emmy nominee Billy Eichner (“Billy on the Street”) stars in the feature from filmmakers Nick Stroller (“Neighbors” franchise, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and Judd Apatow (The King of Staten Island, Trainwreck). The comedy follows two gay men and explores how hard it is to find another tolerable human being with whom to go through life.

The romantic drama The Good House arrives Blu-ray (plus digital), DVD and digital purchase Nov. 22 from Lionsgate. Based on the novel by Ann Leary, the film stars Sigourney Weaver (Alien, Avatar, Gorillas in the Mist), Kevin Kline (Wild Wild West, Dave, A Fish Called Wanda) and Morena Baccarin (Deadpool, TV’s “Firefly,” “V”). Weaver stars as Hildy Good, a realtor in an idyllic New England town, whose wickedly funny tongue and seeming success mask her life’s one dark truth — that she enjoys her wine a bit too much. But Hildy’s good at keeping it together — until, that is, a rekindled romance with high school flame Frank Getchell (Kline) sets in motion a chain of events that forces a decades-in-the-making confrontation with Hildy’s buried past.

The French woman-in-crisis drama Hold Me Tight, from director Mathieu Amalric, will be released on DVD, Blu-ray Disc and all major digital platforms on Nov. 22 by Kino Lorber. The film is in French and German, with English subtitles. In Hold Me Tight, Vicky Krieps stars as Clarisse, a woman on the run from her family for reasons that aren’t immediately clear. Widely renowned as one of France’s great contemporary actors but less well-known in North America for his equally impressive work behind the camera, Amalric’s sixth feature as director is considered his most ambitious to date. The film alternates between Clarisse’s adventures on the road and scenes of her abandoned husband Marc (Arieh Worthalter) as he struggles to take care of their children at home. 

The comedy 5-25-77 is being released on Blu-ray and DVD from MVD Visual. Set during the spring of 1977, the film follows sci-fi obsessed teenager Pat Johnson (John Francis Daley, Game Night, “Freaks and Geeks”), who finds himself torn between making 8mm sequels to his favorite movies and pursuing the girl of his dreams Linda (Emmi Chen, Normal). Desperate to help her son escape his likely future in Wadsworth, Ill., (population 750), his mother Janet (Colleen Camp, Wayne’s World) cold-calls the editor of American Cinematographer magazine and Pat soon finds himself on “the ultimate trip” to Hollywood, becoming the very first outsider to see the film that would change him (and movies) forever — Star Wars. But when Pat returns to his hometown existence, he struggles to choose between chasing a seemingly impossible dream and accepting the comforting familiarity of home. Produced by Gary Kurtz (Star Wars: A New Hope, American Graffiti), Fred Roos (The Godfather Part II, St. Vincent) and Leigh Jones (Here Alone) and written and directed by Patrick Read Johnson (Dragonheart, Angus), the heartfelt true story-based film features a supporting cast that includes Austin Pendleton (My Cousin Vinny) and Neil Flynn (Mean Girls) along with an original score by David E. Russo (“Gotham”, Sin City) with additional themes and songs by rock musician Alan Parsons (“The Alan Parsons Project”). Special features on Blu-ray include audio commentary with writer/director Patrick Read Johnson, moderated by Seth Gaven, founder of the A.V. Squad and editor of the film Spaced Invaders; a Q&A from the 2013 Fantasia Film Festival with director Patrick Read Johnson; three theatrical trailers; and three photo galleries.

The historical drama The Woman King will be released through digital retailers Nov. 22 by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The Woman King stars Viola Davis as the titular character and is inspired by true events that took place in the Kingdom of Dahomey, one of the most powerful states of Africa in the 18th and 19th centuries. Davis’ character, General Nanisca, leads the Agojie, an all-female unit of warriors who protect the kingdom. The film follows her as she trains the next generation of recruits and readies them for battle against an enemy determined to destroy their way of life. The Woman King was directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood and written by Dana Stevens. In addition to Davis, the cast includes Thuso Mbedu, Lashana Lynch, Sheila Atim, and John Boyega. It arrives on DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Dec. 13.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will release the comedy Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile for digital purchase Nov. 22. In the film, when the Primm family moves to New York City, their young son Josh struggles to adapt to his new school and new friends. All of that changes when he discovers Lyle — a singing crocodile who loves baths, caviar and great music — living in the attic of his new home. The two become fast friends, but when Lyle’s existence is threatened by evil neighbor Mr. Grumps, the Primm’s must band together with Lyle’s charismatic owner Hector P. Valenti to show the world that family can come from the most unexpected places and there’s nothing wrong with a big singing crocodile with an even bigger personality. It arrives on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray Disc and DVD Dec. 13.

The family-friendly adventure Secret Headquarters becomes available for digital sellthrough Nov. 22 from Paramount Home Entertainment. The film originally debuted on the streaming service Paramount+. In the film, Charlie and his friends stumble upon the headquarters of the Guard (Owen Wilson) and realize the world’s most powerful superhero is Charlie’s dad. When an evil businessman (Michael Peña) sends in a team to infiltrate the lair and retrieve the Guard’s energy source, the youngsters spring into action and turn the tables on the intruders. It arrives on Blu-ray and DVD Dec. 20.

The crime thriller Poker Face, directed by and starring Russell Crowe, will be released for digital purchase Nov. 22 from Screen Media. In the film, tech billionaire and gambler Jake Foley (Crowe) hosts a high-stakes poker game between childhood friends, offering them the chance to win more money than they’ve ever dreamed of. The evening takes a turn when he unveils his elaborate plan seeking revenge for their betrayals and to play, they’ll have to give up the one thing they’ve spent their lives trying to keep — their secrets. As the game unfolds, thieves break in and they must band together to survive a night of terror. The film also stars Liam Neeson, RZA and Elsa Pataky. The film is written by Stephen M. Coates and Crowe.

The DC Comics superhero film Black Adam will arrive for premium digital ownership and rental Nov. 22 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. Based on characters from DC Comics, the film stars Dwayne Johnson (“the “Jumanji” films, “Moana”) as Black Adam, Aldis Hodge (TV’s “City on a Hill,” One Night in Miami film) as Hawkman, Noah Centineo (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before) as Atom Smasher, Sarah Shahi (TV’s “Sex/Life,” Rush Hour 3) as Adrianna, Marwan Kenzari (Murder on the Orient Express, The Mummy) as Ishmael, Quintessa Swindell (Voyagers and TV’s “Trinkets”) as Cyclone, Bodhi Sabongui (TV’s “A Million Little Things”) as Amon, and Pierce Brosnan (the “Mamma Mia!” and James Bond franchises) as Dr. Fate. In the film, nearly 5,000 years after he was bestowed with the almighty powers of the ancient gods — and imprisoned just as quickly — Black Adam (Johnson) is freed from his earthly tomb, ready to unleash his unique form of justice on the modern world. It arrives on 4K Ultra HD disc, Blu-ray Disc and DVD  Jan 3.

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The comedy Planes, Trains and Automobiles, written and directed by John Hughes, will land on 4K Ultra HD for the first time Nov. 22 from Paramount Home Entertainment. Originally released on Nov. 25, 1987, Planes, Trains and Automobiles celebrates its 35th anniversary this year. Steve Martin and John Candy star in the tale of travel gone awry. In the film, Neal Page (Martin) is an uptight ad exec trying to get home to Chicago for Thanksgiving with his family. When rerouted to Wichita, Neal reluctantly partners with Del Griffith (Candy), an obnoxious yet loveable salesman. Together, they embark on a cross-country adventure filled with outrageously funny situations and a generous helping of warmth. Newly remastered on 4K Ultra HD with Dolby Vision and HDR-10, Planes, Trains and Automobiles includes a bonus “Lost Luggage” Blu-ray Disc containing more than an hour of never-before-seen deleted and extended scenes that were recently discovered in the archives of writer, producer and director Hughes. The newly uncovered footage offers a unique glimpse into the filmmaking and editing process and features funny moments between Martin and Candy. In addition to the newly discovered footage, the bonus Blu-ray Disc also includes Dylan Baker’s original audition for the character of Owen.

“Sony Pictures Classics 30th Anniversary Collection”

In celebration of Sony Pictures Classics’ 30-year anniversary, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is bringing 11 titles from its library to 4K Ultra HD disc, exclusively within the Sony Pictures Classics 4K Ultra HD Collection, available Nov. 22. The selection includes Orlando; The Celluloid Closet; The City of Lost Children; Run Lola Run; SLC Punk; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; The Devil’s Backbone; Volver; Synecdoche, New York; Still Alice; and Call Me by Your Name. Each film is presented in 4K resolution with Dolby Vision high dynamic range.

The 1995 drama Panther is being released on Blu-ray in the MVD Marquee Collection. Set in Oakland, Calif., in 1968, the film follows the Black Panthers, led by Huey Newton (Marcus Chong, The Matrix) and Bobby Seale (Courtney B. Vance, The Preacher’s Wife), who have armed themselves and are ready to fight for freedom. To the people, they’re heroes, but to the FBI they’re Public Enemy No. 1. The Feds will do everything they can — on the right or wrong side of the law — to bring them down. Written by filmmaker and author Melvin Van Peebles (Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song) based on his own novel and directed by Mario Van Peebles (New Jack City, Posse), Panther stars include Kadeem Hardison (Drive), Bokeem Woodbine (Queen & Slim), Joe Don Baker (GoldenEye), Angela Bassett (Black Panther), Chris Tucker (Rush Hour), Chris Rock (The Longest Yard), James Le Gros (Guncrazy), M. Emmet Walsh (Blood Simple), Robert Culp (“I Spy”), James Russo (Django Unchained), Bobby Brown (Ghostbusters II) and Tyrin Turner (Menace II Society).

The 1990 comedy Ski Patrol is being released on Blu-ray in the MVD Rewind Collection. In the film, the lease on the Snowy Peaks Lodge, a popular ski resort, is up for renewal and its owner Pops (Ray Walston, Fast Times at Ridgemont High) has no worries about signing a new lease. Despite his Ski Patrol, an out-of-control group of skiers led by Jerry (Roger Rose, Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives) and Iceman (T.K. Carter, John Carpenter’s The Thing), the resort has an impeccable safety record. However, a devious land developer (Martin Mull, Clue) has other plans in mind for the resort and hires the talents of a young blonde named Lance (Corby Timbrook, The Glass Shield) to undermine the Ski Patrol’s efforts to keep the slopes safe. Extraordinary aerial stunts, impressive snowboarding, and an incredible downhill showdown all add to the excitement as the Ski Patrol does their best to save Pop’s Mountain. The supporting case includes Leslie Jordan (“Will & Grace”), Paul Feig (Bridesmaids), Stephen Hytner (“Seinfeld”) and comedian George Lopez (“George Lopez”).

The 1980 sci-fi film The Final Countdown will be re-released on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray disc Nov. 22 from MVD Entertainment Group and Blue Underground. In the film, a freak electrical storm engulfs the U.S.S. Nimitz, America’s mightiest nuclear-powered aircraft carrier on maneuvers in the Pacific Ocean, hurtling it back in time to Dec. 6, 1941, mere hours before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. As the enemy fleet speeds towards Hawaii, the warship’s captain (Kirk Douglas), a Defense Department expert (Martin Sheen), a maverick Air Wing Commander (James Farentino) and a desperate senator in the Roosevelt administration (Charles Durning) must choose between the unthinkable. Do they allow the Japanese to complete their murderous invasion, or launch a massive counterstrike that will forever change the course of history? Katharine Ross and Ron O’Neal co-star in the sci-fi actioner filmed on location aboard the U.S.S. Nimitz with the full participation of the U.S. Navy and the ship’s crew. Blue Underground is presenting the film in a new restoration, scanned in 4K 16-bit from the original 35mm camera negative, with Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos audio. The 4K disc is compatible with D-Box home theater systems. The film was first released on 4K disc in 2021. Read a review here.

The foreign cult films Contraband and Murder in a Blue World are being released on Blu-ray Disc Nov. 22 from Cauldron Films and MVD Entertainment Group.

The 1980 Italian crime story Contraband is directed by Lucio Fulci (The Beyond, City of the Living Dead) and set in Naples, Italy. It follows idealistic cigarette smuggler Luca, who runs into problems with a sadistic drug dealing gangster from France and decides to muscle his way into operations. As he tries to wipe out the competition, all hell breaks loose and the bodies start piling up. Luca joins forces with rival smugglers and the local mafia to counteract the power play, which only increases the body count until the explosive gun powder and gut bursting conclusion. The film stars Fabio Testi (The Big Racket), Marcel Bozzuffi (The French Connection), Ivana Monti (Five Days in Milan), and Saverio Marconi (Padre Padrone). Featuring gruesome practical special effects by Germano Natali (Deep Red) and Roberto Pace (Body Count), with music by legendary composer Fabio Frizzi, Contraband is a hard hitting mafia story filmed through the eye of an unrelenting horror master. Making its Blu-ray debut via Cauldron Films, Contraband is restored from a 4K scan of the negative with English language audio, optional English SDH subtitles, and Italian language audio with English subtitles.

The 1973 thriller Murder in a Blue World is a Spanish spin on Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. In the film set in a violent, dystopian consumer-fed future, David (Chris Mitchum, Summertime Killer) blackmails nurse Ana (Sue Lyon, Stanley Kubrick’s Lolita) after witnessing her commit a murder. When Ana and Victor (Jean Sorel, Perversion Story) discover David is a known gang member with an extensive criminal past, they make a plan to turn the tables and use him for their own clandestine purposes. Two years after Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, transgressive Spanish genre director Eloy de la Iglesia unleashed his thought-provoking and beautifully shot future-world film that was also known as A Clockwork Terror. Available for the first time on Blu-ray, Cauldron Films presents the film from a new 2K restoration of the Spanish producer’s cut from the negative, with English audio with optional English SDH subtitles and Spanish audio with optional English subtitles.

The documentary Mystic Vibrosis: A Guide to Living Indubiously will be released for digital purchase and rental (VOD) Nov. 22 by Virgil Films and Entertainment. Mystic Vibrosis: A Guide to Living Indubiously is the story about how the biggest challenges in life, can turn out to be the biggest blessings. Evan and Spencer Burton of the band Indubious, both bandmates and brothers, were born with a debilitating genetic disorder called Cystic Fibrosis. Convinced at an early age of their inevitably short life expectancy, the brothers have persevered to not only survive their illness, but find their strength and purpose through their challenges. Now, seven albums later (including a No. 1 billboard chart topping album), with numerous national tours and legions of loyal fans, Indubious has been catapulted onto the world stage as a powerful force for change and the future of conscious music. After receiving a double lung transplant in 2011 from a man named Marcus Jackson, Evan had never met the family of his late donor Marcus Jackson, until now. For the first time Evan gets to sit with Ella Jackson, Marcus’s mother, to share their stories, to heal, and to revel in the magic and miracle of life.

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

‘The Suicide Squad’ Available for Premium Digital Ownership Sept. 17, on Disc Oct. 26

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will make director James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad available for premium digital ownership starting Sept. 17, followed by a Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release Oct. 26.

Written and directed by Gunn, the film is based on the DC Comics series about imprisoned supervillains who are recruited by the U.S. government for covert operations, and have a bomb implanted in their heads that will explode if they don’t comply.

A sequel to 2016’s Suicide Squad and the 10th film in the DC Extended Universe franchise, the film finds government agent Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) sending the team to infiltrate the island nation of Corto Maltese to eliminate a potentially dangerous weapon.

Among the recruits this time around are Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), the sharpshooter Bloodsport (Idris Elba), the jingoistic Peacemaker (John Cena), team leader Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian), Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), and King Shark (voiced by Sylvester Stallone).

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The cast also includes Peter Capaldi, Alice Braga, Michael Rooker, Jai Courtney and Pete Davidson.

The Suicide Squad earned $54.7 million during a domestic box office run in which it was simultaneously available for streaming on HBO Max for a month.

The Blu-ray, DVD and 4K editions will include the featurette “The Way of The Gunn.”

The Blu-ray and 4K combo packs will also include a digital copy of the film and additional extras such as a commentary with Gunn; deleted and extended scenes; a gag reel; “War Movie,” “Horror Movie” and “Buddy Cop” retro trailers; “It’s a Suicide Mission,” “My Guns Bigger Than Yours,” “Harley’s Great Escape” and “The Fall of Jotunheim” scene breakdowns; and the featurettes “Gotta Love the Squad,” “The Way of the Gunn,” “Starro: It’s a Freakin Kaiju!” and “Bringing King Shark to Life.”

A spinoff series about Cena’s Peacemaker character is set to debut on HBO Max in January.

HBO Max Greenlights ‘Suicide Squad’ Spinoff Series ‘Peacemaker’ Starring John Cena

HBO Max ordered the production of eight episodes for new action-comedy series “Peacemaker,” starring actor and WWE superstar John Cena, reprising his character from the upcoming Warner Bros. movie, The Suicide Squad.

The movie’s writer-director, James Gunn, will write all eight episodes of “Peacemaker” and will direct multiple episodes, including the first. Gunn and The Suicide Squad producer Peter Safran will serve as executive producers of the series, with Cena as co-executive producer.

John Cena

Based on characters from DC Comics, “Peacemaker” is scheduled to begin production in early 2021, prior to Gunn beginning work on the next Disney/Marvel Studios Guardians of the Galaxy film.

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While details about “Peacemaker” are being kept under wraps, the series will explore the origins of the character that Cena will play in the upcoming film, a man who believes in peace at any cost — no matter how many people he has to kill to get it. The series will extend the world that Gunn is creating for The Suicide Squad movie, which is scheduled to be released in theaters by Warner Bros. Pictures on Aug. 6, 2021.

“‘Peacemaker’ is an opportunity to delve into current world issues through the lens of this superhero/supervillain/and world’s biggest douchebag,” Gunn said in a statement.

Casey Bloys, chief content officer for HBO and HBO Max, said Gunn has the unique ability to create an expansive universe while also bringing to life the soul and wit of each character.

“We look forward to a deep dive into the world of ‘Peacemaker,'” Bloys said.