Netflix Orders Animated Preschool Series ‘Ghee Happy’

Netflix has greenlighted a new animated preschool series, “Ghee Happy,” from Academy Award- and Annie Award-nominated director-animator-illustrator Sanjay Patel.

It’s a playful reimagining of the Hindu deities as little kids discovering their powers in a deity daycare called Ghee Happy.

Patel is best known for his work on numerous Pixar films, such as Monsters Inc., Ratatouille, Cars, Toy Story 2 and The Incredibles 1 & 2. He directed the short animated film Sanjay’s Super Team, inspired by his own childhood, which was nominated for Best Animated Short Film at the 88th Academy Awards and for Best Animated Short Subject at the 43rd Annie Awards.

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“For the past 25 years I’ve been working in kids and family entertainment without having kids of my own. Having finally become a parent, I’m so excited and lucky to be able to create a preschool series that introduces the great pantheon of Hindu Deities, not just into a beautiful and colorful series that is truly entertaining and original to my kiddos, but to families around the world,” said Patel in a statement.

“Sanjay’s art is vibrant, magical, and — above all else — incredibly happy! He has introduced his culture to his own kids through this show and now – thanks to the power of Netflix — kids and families everywhere will get to share in these inspiring and accessible stories,” said Dominique Bazay, director of kids & family at Netflix, in a statement.

Toy Story 4

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street 10/8/19;
Disney;
Animated;
Box Office $433.06 million;
$39.99 Blu-ray/DVD, $44.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘G.’
Voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Tony Hale, Jordan Peele, Keegan-Michael Key, Keanu Reeves, Ally Maki, Joan Cusack, Bonnie Hunt, Kristen Schaal, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Blake Clark, June Squibb, Carl Weathers, Jeff Garlin.

While the prospect of a fourth “Toy Story” movie was exciting news for fans of the franchise, there were some questions about whether the adventures of Woody, Buzz and the gang might have run their course. After all, the third movie from 2010 was an emotional rollercoaster that seemed to provide a decent, if bittersweet, sense of closure for the characters.

Of course, the question about what stories were left to tell had already been answered long before the fourth movie was announced, not only through three short films, but also two half-hour television specials. So, yeah, there’s more than enough material to mine.

There would still be the challenge of making any new film feel like an event worthy of the franchise. The movies should at least be somewhat transformational, redefining the status quo of the characters beyond what can be accomplished in a short film.

Well, the team at Pixar Animation Studios certainly achieved that goal, and then some. Toy Story 4 isn’t the best film in the franchise, but it might be the most cathartic. Where the previous film was a bit of a gut punch, this one offers more of a natural progression for the characters.

After a flashback that shows how Woody’s love interest, Bo Peep (Annie Potts) was given away (mentioned in Toy Story 3), we check in to see how the toys are doing with their new owner, Bonnie. While she exhibits a rich imagination, she tends to leave Woody (Tom Hanks) sidelined, leaving him to wonder what his place in her life is.

Bonnie then creates a new toy, named Forky (Tony Hale), out of trash at school, and when he would rather return to the garbage than play with Bonnie, Woody assigns himself the task of educating the new toy and making sure he’s available for her. Woody’s task gets more complicated when Forky manages to jump out of the RV on a family road trip. In retrieving him, Woody comes across an antique shop and reunites with Bo. But Forky is captured by a doll at the shop who wants to trade him for Woody’s pull-string voice box to replace her own defective one, hoping the fix will help entice a kid to want to play with her.

Bo, on the other hand, presents another option for life as a toy: roaming free, with no owner, never worrying about being played with or not and determining her own fate. Meanwhile, Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) sets out on a mission to find Woody, bolstered by a hilarious running gag of him activating his own voice feature so he can get advice from his “inner voice.”

So, yes, the movie does return to the “recover a lost character” motif that has been a staple of the franchise (and, indeed, most Pixar films), putting a few new spins on the formula along the way. The antique shop and a nearby carnival are wonderful settings for toy-level adventures with inventive new characters, such as Canadian motorcycle-jumping daredevil Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves), and a pair of game-prize plushes voiced by Key & Peele.

The only area of concern, really, is that each passing movie runs the risk of potentially piercing the suspension of disbelief about the toys being alive, which some of the characters actually joke about in this one. One need to simply look no further to the living vehicles of the world of “Cars” to see how much such questions can distract, and detract, from the narrative.

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The “Toy Story” movies have all been visual marvels, and the fourth one is no exception, advancing the state of CGI to render fantastic textures and details on the toys and their environments. The carnival offers a great excuse for bright colors and warm lights, while the antique shop provides a trove of subtle references.

The Blu-ray is loaded with a lot of great behind-the-scenes material, including an insightful feature-length commentary track by director Josh Cooley and producer Mark Nielsen in which they discuss all sorts of challenges to crafting a fourth “Toy Story” film.

Some of the more pivotal sequences get their own callout in the form of “Anatomy of a Scene” videos in which the filmmakers discuss and joke about making them. The disc includes a nine-and-a-half-minute look at the playground scene, while a seven-minute deconstruction of the prologue serves as a digital exclusive.

The disc also includes 28 minutes of deleted scenes, still in storyboard form, that show some of the unused concepts for the film, including an unused ending that would have pretty much negated the film’s message of finding your own place in the world.

The digital version of the film includes an additional seven-minute alternate opening sequence depicting Bonnie’s playtime fantasy using the toys.

The various featurettes included offer interesting glimpses of the production with the usual interviews with cast members and filmmakers, but often show them interacting in ways not typically presented in such videos.

There is a six-minute “Bo Rebooted” video about how Bo’s character was expanded into a major role for the film. Another, three-and-a-half-minute piece, spotlights the relationship between Woody and Buzz.

The new characters are shown off in a series of “Toy Box” videos that run 13 minutes, while an additional six-minute featurette focuses on new castmember Ally Maki and her pint-sized character.

One of the more nostalgia-infused featurettes is a five-and-a-half-minute “Toy Stories” piece in which several of the cast and crew recall the toys they played with as children.

Among some of the more random video bits are a few minutes of animation showing off the carnival and the antique shop roof from the toys’ perspectives, plus a series of promotional videos including character vignettes and trailers from around the world.

Some digital retailers, such as Vudu, also offer a two-and-a-half-minute “Toy Story Rewind” video in which the cast and crew reflect on the previous movies.

 

Disney Opening Branded Stores at Target

The Walt Disney Co. and Target Corp. Aug. 25 at D23 Expo announced a retail collaboration aimed at jumpstarting the Disney brand in third-party retail locations.

Disney is launching 25 branded stores within select Target stores nationwide on Oct. 4, with 40 additional locations opening by October 2020.

The partnership also includes a Disney-focused digital experience on Target.com. Additionally, a new Target store will open at Flamingo Crossings Town Center at the western entrance of the Walt Disney World Resort in 2021.

To Bob Chapek, chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, and former head of home entertainment, the retail collaboration combines two companies’ focus on families at the retail level.

“Disney and Target share a common vision to provide our guests and consumers with innovative and unique experiences, and high quality product,” Chapek said in a statement.

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Brian Cornell, CEO at Target, said the companies’ combined omni-channel retail platform would create “inspiring and unique” experiences for consumers.

“This collaboration reflects the strength of our platforms and assets to create value for guests and growth for both companies beyond the traditional retail model,” he said.

The branded stores will showcase specialty merchandise from Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars, in addition to featuring clips of movies available theatrically and in home entertainment.

Target remains one of the largest retailers of packaged media entertainment.

The launch will include a new assortment of merchandise from Disney’s Frozen 2 and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Additional locations will be added to more Target stores over the next year to expand the Disney store retail footprint.

The Disney stores will be Target-operated, branded “shop-in-shop” with an average of 750 square feet, strategically located inside Target stores adjacent to kids clothing and toys, replicated online at Target.com/Disneystore and on the Target app.

The “shop-in-shop” will feature an enhanced Disney assortment of more than 450 items, including more than 100 products that were previously only available at Disney retail locations.

Consumers will be able to browse and shop a variety of Disney Princess, Star Wars, Marvel, Disney Junior characters, classic Disney plush, apparel, home and holiday-specific products.

They’ll also be able to access collectible merchandise, including the Disney Animators’ Collection with dolls, clothing and accessories. Items will range in price from $2 to $200, with many items under $20.

Disney store at Target promises an engaging shopping experience with music, interactive displays, photo opportunities and a seating area where families can relax and watch Disney movie clips and Park events.

Consumers will be able to take advantage of all of the benefits of shopping at Target when they purchase items from Disney store at Target, whether online or in stores.

Target consumers can purchase Disney products with 5% off using their Target REDcard and can take advantage of convenient pickup and delivery options, including same-day pickup, same-day delivery and free two-day shipping.

Disney store at Target will open in October in the following 25 Target stores:

Allen North #2516 (Allen, Texas)
Austin NW #1797 (Austin, Texas)
Bozeman #1237 (Bozeman, Mont.)
Brighton #922 (Brighton, Mich.)
Chicago Brickyard #1924 (Chicago, Ill.)
Clearwater #1820 (Clearwater, Fla.)
Denver Stapleton #2052 (Denver, Colo.)
Edmond #1398 (Edmond, Okla.)
Euless #1368 (Euless, Texas)
Houston North Central #1458 (Spring, Texas)
Jacksonville Mandarin #1300 (Jacksonville, Fla.)
Keizer #2110 (Keizer, Ore.)
Lake Stevens #1331 (Lake Stevens, Wash.)
Leesburg #1874 (Leesburg, Va.)
Loveland #1178 (Loveland, Colo.)
Maple Grove North #2193 (Maple Grove, Minn.)
Mobile West #1376 (Mobile, Ala.)
Murrieta #1283 (Murrieta, Calif.)
New Lenox #2028 (New Lenox, Ill.)
Pasadena #1396 (Pasadena, Texas)
Philadelphia West #2124 (Philadelphia, Pa.)
San Jose College Park #2088 (San Jose, Calif.)
South Jordan #2123 (South Jordan, Utah)
Stroudsburg #1260 (Stroudsburg, Pa.)
Waterford Park #2068 (Clarksville, Ind.)

 

‘Toy Story 4,’ From Disney, Pixar, Gets Home Release Dates

Toy Story 4, the year’s No. 4 movie at the box office, will become available for home viewing in October, the Walt Disney Co. announced Aug. 22.

The animated film, with a domestic gross of $425 million, will arrive on digital Oct. 1, with a Blu-ray Disc, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and DVD release following on Oct. 8.

The fourth film in the “Toy Story” franchise is a sequel to 2010’s Toy Story 3, which took in $415 million in North American movie theaters. The franchise was launched in 1995 with Pixar’s original Toy Story, the world’s first fully computer-animated feature film. Disney purchased Pixar in 2006.

Toy Story 4 features an all-star voice cast that includes Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Jordan Peele, Keanu Reeves and Joan Cusack.

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The home editions of Toy Story 4 contain more than an hour of bonus features celebrating Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the franchise’s other iconic characters. Extras includes deleted scenes such as an alternate ending; a new featurette that chronicles Woody and Buzz’s friendship through the years; studio stories shared by members of the Pixar team; a nostalgic look back at the creation and first storyboard screening of Toy Story with filmmakers; and a documentary on the pioneering efforts of Pixar artists who created the sets, characters, look and feel of the original film.

In Toy Story 4, Woody (Hanks) has always been confident about his place in the world, and that his priority is taking care of his kid, whether that’s Andy or Bonnie. So, when Bonnie’s new craft-project-turned-toy Forky (voiced by Tony Hale) calls himself “trash,” Woody decides to teach Forky how to embrace being a toy. But a road-trip adventure, including an unexpected reunion with his long-lost friend Bo Peep (voiced by Annie Potts), shows Woody how big the world can be for a toy. New additions to the cast of animated characters include carnival prizes Ducky (voiced by Keegan-Michael Key) and Bunny (Peele) bring a new level of fun to the film.

The fourth installment in the “Toy Story” series will be packaged several ways for home consumption. Toy Story 4 arrives home a week early on digital 4K Ultra HD, HD and SD with two exclusive extras, including a deleted scene, “Bonnie’s Playtime.”

A week later, fans will be able to buy physical copies of the film on disc, also in various incarnations: as a 4K Ultra HD combo pack (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and digital code), a Blu-ray combo pack (Blu-ray, DVD and digital code) and a single DVD.

Also available is a digital bundle of all four films.

Disney Bringing ‘Captain Marvel,’ ‘Simpsons’ to $6.99 Disney+ Streaming Service at Launch

Disney’s Nov. 12 launch of standalone subscription streaming video service Disney+ will offer unfettered access to the media giant’s brands, including Disney Animation, Disney Studios, Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and National Geographic.

The service, which will cost $6.99 monthly, and $69.99 annually, will be co-branded across Disney business segments, including merchandise, parks and resorts, live event entertainment, cruise ships and home entertainment.

fBy comparison, Netflix basic monthly pricing just increased from $7.99 to $8.99.

“We’re designing a product that we want to be accessible to as many consumers as possible,” CEO Bob Iger told attendees April 11 at the company’s annual investor day event in Los Angeles. “Disney is loved by so many many millions of people around the world.”

Disney projects 60 million to 90 million SVOD subscribers globally by 2024, including about 30% in the United States. Content spending will top $1.5 billion cash in the current fiscal year, reaching $2 billion by fiscal 2024. Disney said the service is projected to become profitable by 2024.

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“There truly is no bigger priority for the Walt Disney Co. moving forward,” said Ricky Strauss, president of content and marketing at Disney Streaming Services.

The streaming service will offer subscribers exclusive pay-TV access to Marvel Studios’ Captain Marvel, starring Brie Larson, which recently topped $1 billion at the global box office.

Marvel is also creating 12 original long-form episodic series for the streaming service, including “What If?” the studio’s first animated series, based on the Marvel comic book that looks at how famous comic book storylines might have played out differently. The show will focus on storylines from the Marvel movies.

The first episode of the first live-action “Star Wars” series, “The Mandalorian,” will be available at launch as well, in additional to other programming.

Notably, long-running animated Fox TV series “The Simpsons” will move to Disney+, including the series’ entire 30-season catalog. The series previously streamed on Hulu.

Kevin Mayer, chairman of Direct-to-Consumer & International, said the service would offer different fonts and user interfaces depending on user access points, including TV and portable devices such as tablets and smart phones.

All Disney+ content will be available to download on any device for non-Internet streaming.

“No restrictions and for an unlimited basis for as long as you are a subscriber,” Mayer said. “That’s a key subscriber benefit.”

“Never before has our content been as broadly, conveniently, or permanently available as it will be on Disney+,” he added. “We are confident consumers will love the service.”

Michael Paull, CEO of Disney Streaming Services (formerly BAMTech), said the streaming service would be available across all portable media devices, including video game consoles. Current partners include Roku TV and PlayStation 4.

“We insure that our service will be prominently featured in merchandise on our [streaming media] partner platforms,” Paull said. “We are confident that by the time we launch, we will have a full array of device platform partnerships.”

Paull said current content license agreements with third parties globally will expire over the next four years, at which time Disney+ will be rolled out market-by-market over a two-year period depending consumer SVOD adoption, familiarity with payment (credit card) options and assimilation with distribution partner platforms.

Disney+ will bow in the United States in Disney’s Q1 fiscal period and in Western Europe and Asia in Q1/Q2 fiscal year 2020. Rollouts in Eastern Europe and Latin America will occur in 2021.

“We prioritize [markets worldwide] where product is available … in addition to markets where consumer have already demonstrated a willingness to pay for SVOD service and content more generally,” he said. “By considering all these factors together, we created our global Disney+ launch roadmap.”

Original Disney movies available at launch include Noelle, a fantasy adventure Christmas comedy film directed and written by Marc Lawrence. The film stars Anna Kendrick as Noelle Claus, the daughter of Santa Claus. It also stars Bill Hader, Billy Eichner, Shirley MacLaine, and Julie Hagerty.

Other content includes original series “Falcon & Winter Soldier,” based on the Marvel movie characters; a new Phineas and Ferb animated movie; and “The Imagineering Story,” which looks at the past, present and future achievements of Walt Disney’s Imagineering staff at the numerous Disney theme parks, among other content exclusives. The National Geographic section of the service will have a docuseries called “The World According to Jeff Goldblum,” starring the actor.

“Disney+ subscribers will be able to customize their profiles to their favorite Disney characters,” Mayer said, adding that parental controls could limit children to access only family friendly content.

Disney’s animated movies will be available at launch, including the company’s shrewdly-marketed “vault” titles. In addition, 18 Pixar movies will be available, including all short films.

‘Incredibles 2’ Jumps Back Into Top Disc Sales Spot

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment’s Incredibles 2 returned to the No. 1 spot on the NPD VideoScan First Alert chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales, and the dedicated Blu-ray Disc chart the week ended Dec. 1.

That marks the third time the sequel from the Pixar animation studio has topped the charts since its debut. It slipped to No. 3 in its third week, but that coincided with post-Thanksgiving period dominated by deep-discount retail sales that usually skew the charts with surges from older titles. So it’s entirely possible Incredibles 2 could have been the top title for four straight weeks if the run hadn’t been interrupted by special circumstances.

The No. 2 title on both charts was another superhero sequel, 20th Century Fox’s Deadpool 2, which had topped the charts the week before.

Warner’s The Meg swam back to No. 3 on the overall chart and No. 7 on the Blu-ray chart.

No. 4 overall, in its second week, was Warner’s Crazy Rich Asians, which was No. 6 on the Blu-ray chart. The comedy debuted a week earlier at No. 36, another result of the effect Black Friday has on the charts.

Holding onto the No. 5 spot was Fox’s The Greatest Showman, which slipped to No. 9 on the Blu-ray chart.

Disney’s Avengers: Infinity War was No. 3 on the Blu-ray chart, followed by  Universal’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom at No. 4 and Sony Pictures’ Hotel Transylvania 3 at No. 5.

Studios offered a modest new-release slate the week after Thanksgiving, and as a result no new titles debuted among the top 50 sellers for the week.

On the Media Play News rental chart for the week ended Dec. 2, Crazy Rich Asians held onto the top spot for a second week, with The Meg holding onto No. 2.

Sony Pictures’ Searching, the most notable new release of the week, debuted at No. 3.

Universal’s Mile 22 came in as the No. 4 rental, followed by Incredibles 2 at No. 5.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 12-1-18
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 12-2-18
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 12-1-18
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 12-1-18
Sales Report for Week Ended 12-1-18
Digital Sales Snapshot for Week Ended 12-3-18

 

‘Incredibles 2’ Holds Off ‘The Meg’ to Repeat as Top Disc Seller

Five new releases cracked the top 10 the week ended Nov. 17, but none could unseat Walt Disney Studios’ Incredibles 2 from the top spot on the home video sales charts.

The Pixar Animation Studios superhero sequel spent a second consecutive week at No. 1 on both the NPD VideoScan First Alert chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales, and the dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart.

Warner’s The Meg led the newcomers with a No. 2 debut on both charts, selling 76% as many copies in its first week as Incredibles 2 did in its second (and 55% as many Blu-rays). The giant-shark thriller earned $143 million at the domestic box office.

STX Entertainment’s Mile 22, an actioner distributed by Universal Studios Home Entertainment, debuted at No. 3 on both charts after a $36 million domestic box office haul.

Dropping to No. 4 on both charts was another Disney title, Christopher Robin.

Another newcomer, Sony Pictures’ historical adventure Alpha, debuted at No. 5 on the overall chart and at No. 10 on the Blu-ray chart.

The No. 5 Blu-ray was Disney’s Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, a Blu-ray-only release of the 2017 “Frozen” spinoff short (previously released digitally) paired with six vintage ice-themed Disney cartoons.

Another Disney movie, Marvel’s Ant-Man and The Wasp, was No. 6 on both charts.

The other new release to debut in the top 10 was Paramount’s DVD and Blu-ray release of CBS All Access’ Star Trek: Discovery — Season One, which was No. 7 on both charts.

Blu-ray Disc accounted for 50% of The Meg unit sales, 49% for Mile 22, 36% for Alpha and 56% for Star Trek: Discovery.

On the Media Play News rental chart for the week ended Nov. 18, The Meg debuted at No. 1, with Mile 22 at No. 2.

Incredibles 2 slipped to No. 3, with Alpha at No. 4 and Lionsgate’s The Spy Who Dumped Me at No. 5.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 11-17-18
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 11-18-18
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 11-17-18
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 11-17-18
Sales Report for Week Ended 11-17-18
Digital Sales Snapshot for Week Ended 11-19-18

 

‘Incredibles 2’ Is Super on Home Video Charts

Walt Disney Studios’ Incredibles 2 easily debuted at No. 1 on the NPD VideoScan First Alert chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales, and the dedicated Blu-ray Disc chart the week ended Nov. 10.

The animated superhero film is a sequel to 2004’s The Incredibles and the latest blockbuster from the Pixar Animation Studio. Incredibles 2 became the all-time top animated movie at the domestic box office with a $608 million haul, and the No. 2 animated movie worldwide all-time with $1.2 billion.

Another Disney title, Christopher Robin, bowed at No. 2 on both charts. The live-action take on “Winnie the Pooh” featuring a grown-up version of the bear’s childhood friend earned $99 million at the domestic box office. Christopher Robin sold 26% as many copies as Incredibles 2.

A third Disney-owned movie, Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man and The Wasp, dipped to No. 3 on both charts in its fourth week.

Universal Pictures’ Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, which topped the overall disc sales chart the previous two weeks, dropped to No. 4 on both charts.

Sony Pictures’ Hotel Transylvania 3 took No. 5 on the overall sales chart, while Universal’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom was No. 5 on the Blu-ray chart.

Disney’s Hocus Pocus, which had been entrenched in the No. 3 spot for more than a month, dropped to No. 12 now that Halloween has passed. Now Christmas titles are starting to re-appear with that holiday just around the corner, such as Warner’s The Polar Express re-entering the charts at No. 17. And Warner’s animated How the Grinch Stole Christmas climbed to No. 19, thanks to a recent re-issue of the 1966 special on DVD and Blu-ray.

Netflix has released the second season of “Stranger Things” on disc available exclusively at Target stores, and it debuted at No. 15 on the overall chart and No. 7 on the Blu-ray chart. The only retail configurations of Stranger Things 2 are a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack and a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack. The UHD version accounted for 23% of its total unit sales.

Blu-ray Disc accounted for 79% of first-week Incredibles 2 unit sales, with 9% of its tally coming from 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. Christopher Robin had 71% of its first-week sales come from Blu-ray.

The Media Play News rental chart for the week ended Nov. 11 also saw Incredibles 2 take the top position, pushing Lionsgate’s The Spy Who Dumped Me to No. 2.

Ant-Man and The Wasp was No. 3, followed by two movies from Universal Pictures — BlacKkKlansman at No. 4 and Skyscraper at No. 5.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 11-10-18
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 11-11-18
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 11-10-18
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 11-10-18
Sales Report for Week Ended 11-10-18
Digital Sales Snapshot for Week Ended 11-12-18

 

Incredibles 2

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street 11/6/18;
Disney;
Animated;
Box Office $608.14 million;
$29.99 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray, $44.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG’ for action sequences and some brief mild language.
Voices of Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell, Huckleberry Milner, Catherine Keener, Bob Odenkirk, Samuel L. Jackson, Brad Bird, Jonathan Banks.

Judging from the various anecdotes related in the Blu-ray bonus materials, one of the biggest challenges to crafting the long-awaited sequel to 2004’s The Incredibles was simply figuring out how to begin the film.

In fact, a significant chunk of the 40 minutes of deleted scenes included on the bonus disc are devoted to this challenge, with scene after scene of discarded ideas that just seem to be expanding on various story points established in the first film (such as a funeral for all the heroes killed by Syndrome) without contributing much to making the story of the second film a cohesive piece on its own.

So, after a 14-year-gap between the films, director Brad Bird and the filmmakers at Pixar finally decided to just pick up where the first film left off, with the Parr family preparing to battle the Underminer’s invasion of the city.

And that really was the best way to go, as it sets up a great action sequence right away while providing a clean entry into the story of the second film, which involves the efforts of a wealthy industrialist (voiced by Bob Odenkirk) to make superheroes legal again. Not to mention it pays off the tease of the Underminer’s attack, which I always wanted to see.

The sequel then settles into a formula similar to the first film, only this time it’s Helen (Holly Hunter) who takes up the task of superheroism, leaving Bob (Craig T. Nelson) to watch the kids. A new wrinkle is how Jack Jack develops his newly discovered powers, much to the surprise of the rest of the family. One of the highlights is bare-knuckle brawl between the baby and a raccoon that wanders into the backyard (a sequence originally created for the first film and based on an experience Bird witnessed between a raccoon and his dog).

And of course there’s a new villain who hates superheroes and wants to stop them all and the family has to unite to stop the evil scheme and yada yada. It’s a worthy sequel to the original that tries to freshen up the concept a bit with a story that when combined with the first film really ends up feeling like the second half of a whole.

The animation is an advancement from the first film, maintaining the same basic style but with improved detail as a result of more sophisticated techniques in CGI. And some of the character designs have been updated a bit as well.

The centerpiece of the extras is the fun new five-minute short film Auntie Edna, which details the events hinted at in the film in which superhero costumer and supplier Edna Mode babysits Jack Jack and creates a super-suit that can handle his powers. This makes it somewhat of a parallel piece with the Jack Jack Attack short created with the first film that details another babysitter dealing with the baby’s powers while the family is off the adventure from that movie.

Incredibles 2 can also be played with an optional audio commentary with the animators, so its focus is more on the visual designs and the experience of working on the film in general.

There are also more than 70 minutes of behind-the-scenes featurettes spread across the two Blu-ray discs. (Depending on the combo pack, the DVD or 4K UHD disc represent a third disc in the package). And a number of the 10 aforementioned deleted scenes do expand on sequences that did make it into the final cut. And there are other goodies such as character theme song videos and toy commercials that are good for a moment of amusement.

The disc also comes with the poignant short film Bao, which accompanied Incredibles 2 in theaters, and a behind-the-scenes featurette about the short.

There are also two digital exclusives that can be accessed by redeeming the digital copy code at Movies Anywhere. The first involves extensive breakdowns of two key sequences in the film (the raccoon fight and some action scenes with Helen) that run 21 minutes total. More interesting is “The Coolest Guy in the Room,” a three-minute biography of Samuel L. Jackson, who discusses what drew him to comic books.

Vudu offers an additional featurette (that seems culled from footage found in other included videos) as well as the Jack Jack Attack short, which was previously available separately at the site and not part of the digital extras of the first Incredibles.

Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google Among Top Brands in Survey

Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google and Samsung placed among the top brands in a new survey from global consultancy firm Prophet.

The firm released its fourth annual Brand Relevance Index, in which it surveyed 12,694 consumers in the United States across 299 brands in 37 categories.

The top 10 in order were Apple, Amazon, Pinterest, Netflix, Android, Google, Samsung, Kitchen Aid, Spotify and Nike.

Among the top 25, media and entertainment companies included YouTube (No. 12), PlayStation (No. 13), Disney (No. 14), Pixar (No. 15), Sony (No. 21) and Xbox (No. 25).

“It’s clear that to be successful, brands need more than size and ubiquity,” said Scott Davis, chief growth officer, Prophet, in a statement. “They must create a product that people love enough to integrate into their everyday lives. The brands that inspire this level of loyalty will ultimately grow the fastest because they are relevant in the moments that matter most to consumers.”

Netflix and Pixar were among top brands that were most “customer obsessed,” according to the survey, while PlayStation, Marvel and Google were most “pervasively innovative.” Netflix was the category leader in the “Media” segment, PlayStation led in “Electronics & Gaming,” Apple led in “Computing & Software,” Amazon led in “Retailers” and Verizon led in “Telecommunications.”

Apple, Netflix, Pinterest, Amazon and Android were the top brands, in order, among females. Amazon, Apple, PlayStation, Spotify and Samsung, in order, were the top brands among males.

Among millennials, the top brands, in order, were Netflix, Amazon, KitchenAid, Apple and Google. Among non-millennials, top brands, in order, were Apple, Amazon, Pinterest, Android and Netflix.

Facebook (No. 205) was the “biggest mover” in the negative direction.