‘Angry Birds 2’ Goes to the Zoo

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment celebrated the home entertainment launch of The Angry Birds Movie 2 Nov. 9 at the Los Angeles Zoo. The sequel was available Oct. 29 on digital and debuted Nov. 12 on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. (Photos by Jamie Phan)

‘Angry Birds Movie 2’ Brings New Characters to the Game-Based Universe

Turning an online game into a movie has its challenges, but it also provides some room for creativity, said executives who have worked on the films based on the iconic web product Angry Birds.

“When you have a project based on a book or comic book series, so much of that has been defined,” said producer John Cohen. “Everything is set in a mythology, and you’re translating it  into a movie and trying very hard not to veer from what’s already been created. But with Angry Birds we’ve had this amazing opportunity where not a lot had been defined.”

Cohen and co-director Johnny Rice attended a special event for the home entertainment launch of The Angry Birds Movie 2 Nov. 9 at the Los Angeles Zoo. The sequel was available Oct. 29 on digital and debuted Nov. 12 on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Joining the returning cast, which includes Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Bill Hader, Danny McBride and Peter Dinklage, are Leslie Jones (TV’s “Saturday Night Live”), Rachel Bloom (TV’s “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”), Awkwafina (Crazy Rich Asians), Sterling K. Brown (TV’s “This Is Us”) and Eugenio Derbez (Dora and the Lost City of Gold).

In the sequel, a new threat emerges that puts both Bird and Pig Island in danger. Red (Sudeikis), Chuck (Gad), Bomb (McBride) and Mighty Eagle (Dinklage) recruit Chuck’s sister Silver (Bloom) and team up with pigs Leonard (Hader), his assistant Courtney (Awkwafina), and techpig Garry (Sterling K. Brown) to forge an unsteady truce and form an unlikely team to save their homes. Jones stars as Zeta, a new villain threatening the islands.

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“We’ve got a lot of new characters; of course, the Leslie Jones Zeta character is a big new character,” said Rice. “She’s bigger than life in every way. Leslie brought a voice to the character that is just incredible. She really stands out in the movie as a huge force. And it’s kind of interesting as that’s the way our story works as well. She’s a force that comes into the world, into the birds’ world and the pigs’ world that just changes everything.”

“Our other big new character is Silver, voiced by Rachel bloom, and Silver is actually Chuck’s sister,” added Cohen. “Chuck, the Josh Gad character, is the bird who moves very fast. Everything about him is quick. He talks fast. He moves fast. And we started to ask ourselves, well, if he had a sister who shares the DNA, what would she be like? Silver’s superpower is that she thinks fast. And so she is hypersmart and is an engineering major at Avian Academy, which is the college on Bird Island. And when the birds and pigs come together in the movie and have to team up to fight these mortal enemies and for the very first time have to work together, Silver ends up as the leader of the group because she’s just the smartest and kind of the best people person.”

Co-director/animator Johnny Rice drew the character Red at a Nov. 9 event for The Angry Birds Movie 2 at the Los Angeles Zoo.

Because the animators are filling out the online game, “we bring our own experiences, our own life experience and attitudes into it,” said Rice. “I really connected with Red on the first one and in the second one as well, where I felt like I totally understood who he was. And the voice actors add a lot to that of course.”

Animators use the performances of the accomplished comedians who play the characters to inform the animation.

“Their comedic sensibility and their ad-libs and improvisation do so much to bring that character to life in a way that you couldn’t have even imagined,” Cohen said.

“The animators pay a lot of attention to every nuance in the voice,” Rice said.

“We film the actors to see their mannerisms. Even an eye movement or just a gesture can inform the animation of the character,” Cohen added.

The actors often recognize themselves in the animated pigs and birds that end up in the movie, Cohen said.

Bonus features on the sequel disc include a new mini movie “Live Stream,” DIY activities inspired by the film, behind-the-scenes featurettes with cast and crew, a feature on the birds at the L.A. Zoo, and six Hatchling shorts directed by Rice.

The baby bird Hatchling characters are played by children, rather than adults using child-like voices, which brings an authentic humor to the characters, said Rice and Cohen. The child actors are encouraged to be themselves, which provides for some surprising humor.

“They do the funniest things,” Rice said.

“It’s not ad-libbing in the traditional sense,” Cohen said. “It’s more just the weird things and the surprising things that kids might say and the way in which they would say them. We love to capture real kids’ voices and that’s what’s given the Hatchlings so much charm.”

The Hatchlings in Angry Birds 2 are played by Alma Versano, daughter of Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman); Genesis Tennon, daughter of actress Viola Davis; Brooklynn Prince (The Florida Project); Jojo Siwa (TV’s “Dance Moms”); and Sunday and Faith, daughters of Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban.

“Most of them it was their first time ever acting, and they were really, really fantastic,” Cohen said.

David Crosby: Remember My Name

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Sony Pictures;
Documentary;
$25.99 DVD, $24.99 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for language, drug material and brief nudity.
Featuring David Crosby, Cameron Crowe, Roger McGuinn, Jackson Browne.

I’ve never heard how Keith Richards responds to all the “How can you still be alive?” jokes but also related legitimate questions that have followed him around for years. But fellow rocker David Crosby is used to it (probably never more so than when he was promoting the self-lacerating portrait, Remember My Name) and is always up front about it, in that he’s as amazed as anyone else.

Let’s put it this way: If Crosby’s body contained the submarine pathway in a remake of Fantastic Voyage, you’d want to make sure the craft had the best navigation system in the business because the dead ends, detours and checkpoints would be voluminous enough to make you think you were in a Jeep touring 1948 West Berlin. He’s survived addictions (and at the same time) to cocaine and heroin, has eight stents in his heart (the maximum, he says), has had hepatitis-C, also a liver transplant and sports unusually expansive purple-ish splotches under his skin, the kind one identifies with blood disorders. Crosby says sometime in the next two years, a heart attack is going to get him and that medical science won’t be able to do much about it.

So he’s trying to make amends for a lifetime of rotten behavior, a prodigious task in his case, for which there’s not a whole lot of time. This is a guy, to name one mammoth infraction, whose temper-fueled difficult personality managed to sink two rock supergroups: Crosby, Stills & Nash and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (which were, notably, different artistic entities). Now just think a moment. Given their own egos and short fuses, it isn’t all that tough to imagine hacking off Stephen Stills and Neil Young. But at least going by public personas here … Graham Nash? And all three? Late in the picture, we see Nash being radio-interviewed well after the final split, and he’s obviously still pained (what’s more, he and Crosby had teamed just by themselves in the ’70s to become an appealing touring/recording team). And in terms of women companions, it wasn’t enough for Crosby to become an addict; he had to take multiple partners down with him. Fortunately, eventual wife Jan went into successful rehab at the same time he did himself (post-imprisonment) and remains a steadying influence. Or at least she is in the footage we see.

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New-to-me filmmaker A.J. Eaton had apparently been working with Crosby for awhile, fashioning what came to be a combo confessional, irresistible rock-memories clip show and something of an L.A. tourist road movie (obviously pre-fires) that veers off into footage of its subject on the road trying to survive the grind of touring to small venues while in his late 70s (not too well). Then rock-journalist-turned-auteur filmmaker Cameron Crowe, perhaps smarting from the reception of his last few films (though I’m in the tiny minority who had a really good time with the much lambasted Aloha), entered the picture to sign on as one of the producers and also as off-camera interviewer. The result displays the savviness toward its subject and milieu that we’d naturally expect from someone of Crowe’s origins, but virtually every movie he’s written and directed suggests that he’ll be compassionate enough to get away with asking a penetrating question and getting a straight answer. Of course, it helps that Crosby is at the point of his life where all he wants to do is give straight answers while gazing at you with eyes that somehow manage to seem both world-weary/tired and penetratingly alert.

The result is something of an anomaly for the genre, in that on the one hand, it has gaps that even a mediocre alternative might cover; unless I was dozing, for instance, I do not recall the words “Buffalo Springfield” crossing anyone’s lips here, even though two members of the group later contributed as many letters for CSN&Y — not even to mention Crosby’s own brief Buffalo fill-in on occasion. On the other hand — and, ultimately, this is what really matters — I’m not sure I’ve ever quite seen a soul-bearer like this, with Crosby offering un-procrastinated direct opinions on a variety of subjects. He’s the foremost of these, for sure. But on at least two occasions, he almost revels in how little use he had for the Doors’ Jim Morrison.

If you want seductive side issues, there are a few here. One truly wonderful passage has Crosby’s driver taking him and Crowe to the literal source of Nash’s pro-domestication “Our House,” a tune that celebrated the domicile he and Joni Mitchell shared in what the recording, at least, indicated was harmony. Crosby, by the way, is boundless in his praise for Mitchell, calling her the most talented of them all (which he should since it’s only her due). There’s also at least some discussion of what a cold cookie David’s father Floyd was, in contrast to a mother who exuded warmth. The senior Crosby had a spotty career (not in terms of personal craftsmanship but in projects he served,) but he did win an early Oscar for shooting Tabu (one of my favorite films of all time) and later High Noon. Later, he became part of the Roger Corman stable and then wrapped it up at Warner when David’s Byrds were riding high with The Cool Ones — which, as far as I know, is the only movie to feature both Phil Harris and Mrs. Miller. You have to wonder if Mrs. Miller ever came over to jam with the Byrds, though her back pages were a heavy lift.

In addition to deleted and expanded scenes, there’s a half-hour Q&A with Crowe joining Crosby on stage for questions after a pre-release showing of the film. Unlike most back-and-forths of this length (I did many with film folk back in the day), the two are standard. It must have been, and indications are, that it was an exuberant moment with a receptive audience, because otherwise, this is a performer who’s earned the right to sit down, no matter how forgiving or not you are of his offstage past.

Mike’s Picks: ‘David Crosby: Remember My Name’ and ‘My Favorite Year’

‘Spider-Man’ Ups Sony Pictures Theatrical, Home Entertainment Q2 Revenue

Sony Pictures again pulled out its perennial ace card, Spider-Man, with predictable results.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Oct. 30 reported second-quarter (ended Sept. 30) revenue of $160 million, up $1 million from revenue of $159 million during the previous-year period. One of its biggest home video sellers was Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which was released to retail March 19.

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Sony Pictures theatrical revenue topped $2.1 billion, a 31% increase from revenue of $1.6 billion driven largely by the webslinger.

Spider-Man: Far From Home led with $1.1 billion at the global box office since its July 2 debut, while Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood added $390 million. The Angry Birds Movie 2 contributed $125 million.

This compared with Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation ($516 million); The Equalizer 2 ($187 million); Slender Man ($52 million) and Searching with $65 million in the previous-year period.

‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ Stays No. 1 on Redbox Disc and Digital Charts

The superhero film Spider-Man: Far From Home, from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, held onto the No. 1 spot on Redbox’s kiosk disc rental and On Demand charts the week ended Oct. 13.

The Redbox disc rental chart tracks DVD and Blu-ray Disc rentals at the company’s more than 40,000 red kiosks. The Redbox On Demand chart tracks digital transactions, including both electronic sellthrough and streaming rentals.

Disney’s Toy Story 4, the latest sequel from Pixar Animation Studios, debuted at No. 2 on the disc rental chart.

Another newcomer, Warner’s horror sequel Annabelle Comes Home, was No. 3 on the disc rental chart and No. 2 on the On Demand chart.

Disney’s live-action remake of Aladdin dropped to No. 4 on the disc rental chart.

Lionsgate’s John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum, slipped to No. 5 on the rental chart and No. 4 on the On Demand chart.

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The No. 3 On Demand title was Lionsgate’s Midsommar, which was the No. 8 disc rental.

Universal’s Yesterday grabbed No. 5 on the On Demand chart and was the No. 10 disc rental.

Top DVD and Blu-ray Disc Rentals, Redbox Kiosks, Week Ended Oct. 13:

  1. Spider-Man: Far From Home — Sony Pictures
  2. Toy Story 4 — Disney
  3. Annabelle Comes Home — Warner
  4. Aladdin (2019) — Disney
  5. John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum — Lionsgate
  6. X-Men: Dark Phoenix — Fox
  7. Men In Black: International — Sony Pictures
  8. Midsommar — Lionsgate
  9. Anna — Lionsgate
  10. Yesterday — Universal

 

Top Digital, Redbox On Demand, Week Ended Oct. 13:

  1. Spider-Man: Far From Home — Sony Pictures
  2. Annabelle Comes Home — Warner
  3. Midsommar — Lionsgate
  4. John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum — Lionsgate
  5. Yesterday — Universal
  6. X-Men: Dark Phoenix — Fox
  7. Ma — Universal
  8. The Secret Life of Pets 2 — Universal
  9. Men In Black: International — Sony Pictures
  10. The Hustle — MGM

 

‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ Swings to Top Spot on Disc Sales Charts

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s Spider-Man: Far From Home easily debuted at No. 1 on the NPD VideoScan First Alart chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales, and the dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart the week ended Oct. 5.

Produced by Marvel Studios, the film is the 23rd chapter of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and takes place in the aftermath of Avengers: Endgame, which is the highest-grossing film of all time. Far From Home earned $1.13 billion at the worldwide box office to become Sony’s top-grossing film ever.

The No. 2 overall title was Disney’s Hocus Pocus, making its annual bounce back into the top 10 in the lead-up to Halloween. The 1993 film sold 13% as many copies as the new Spidey adventure and was No. 5 on the Blu-ray sellers list.

The No. 3 overall title and No. 2 Blu-ray was Lionsgate’s John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum in its fourth week of release.

Disney’s live-action remake of Aladdin, also in its fourth week, slipped to No. 4 on the overall chart and No. 3 on the Blu-ray chart after spending the previous weeks in the top spot on each.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix, from Disney-owned 20th Century Fox, landed at No. 5 overall and No. 4 on the Blu-ray chart in its third week.

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Blu-ray Disc formats accounted for 80% of first-week Spider-Man: Far From Home unit sales, with 23% of the title’s total sales coming from the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format.

On the Media Play News rental chart for the week, Spider-Man: Far From Home debuted at No. 1, pushing the Aladdin remake to No. 2.

John Wick: Chapter 3 slipped to No. 3, with Dark Phoenix at No. 4 and Lionsgate’s Anna at No. 5.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 10-5-19
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 10-6-19
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 10-5-19
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 10-5-19
Sales Report for Week Ended 10-5-19
Digital Sales Snapshot for Week Ended 10-7-19

‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ Tops Redbox Disc and Digital Charts

The superhero film Spider-Man: Far From Home, from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, debuted at No. 1 on Redbox’s kiosk disc rental and On Demand charts the week ended Oct. 6.

The Redbox disc rental chart tracks DVD and Blu-ray Disc rentals at the company’s more than 40,000 red kiosks. The Redbox On Demand chart tracks digital transactions, including both electronic sellthrough and streaming rentals.

The latest “Spider-Man” film earned $390.4 million at the domestic box office.

Disney’s live-action remake of Aladdin stayed at No. 2 on the disc rental chart.

Lionsgate’s John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum, remained at No. 3 on the rental chart and No. 2 on the On Demand chart.

The No. 3 On Demand title was Universal’s Yesterday.

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X-Men: Dark Phoenix, from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, was No. 4 on both charts.

Lionsgate’s Anne grabbed No. 5 on the disc chart while Universal’s Ma was No. 5 on the On Demand chart.

Top DVD and Blu-ray Disc Rentals, Redbox Kiosks, Week Ended Oct. 6:

  1. Spider-Man: Far From Home — Sony Pictures
  2. Aladdin (2019) — Disney
  3. John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum — Lionsgate
  4. X-Men: Dark Phoenix — Fox
  5. Anna — Lionsgate
  6. Shaft (2019) — Warner
  7. Yesterday — Universal
  8. The Fanatic — Redbox
  9. Men In Black: International — Sony Pictures
  10. Child’s Play (2019) — Fox

 

Top Digital, Redbox On Demand, Week Ended Oct. 6:

  1. Spider-Man: Far From Home — Sony Pictures
  2. John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum — Lionsgate
  3. Yesterday — Universal
  4. X-Men: Dark Phoenix — Fox
  5. Ma — Universal
  6. The Hustle — MGM
  7. Child’s Play (2019) — Fox
  8. The Secret Life of Pets 2 — Universal
  9. Men In Black: International — Sony Pictures
  10. Anna — Lionsgate

 

20th Anniversary ‘Jawbreaker’ Blu-ray Due Nov. 19

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will release the cult classic comedy Jawbreaker on Blu-ray Nov. 19 for its 20th anniversary.

The film deals with three high school friends (Rose McGowan, Julie Benz and Rebecca Gayheart) who accidentally kill their friend when they kidnap her as a prank for her birthday, then spend the rest of the film trying to cover it up to maintain their popularity.

The Blu-ray will include a 20th anniversary retrospective commentary with Gayheart, Benz, Judy Greer and director Darren Stein.

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Sony Releasing 1994 ‘Little Women’ on 4K Digital

Sony Pictures will release 1994’s Little Women on 4K digital with high dynamic range Dec. 3 for its 25th anniversary.

Winona Ryder and Susan Sarandon star in the adaptation of the classic novel by Louisa May Alcott. The cast also includes Gabriel Byrne, Trini Alvarado, Samantha Mathis, Kirsten Dunst, Claire Danes, Christian Bale, Eric Stoltz and Mary Wickes.

The film has been fully restored in 4K resolution from the original camera negative.

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‘Easy Rider’ Released on 4K Digital for 50th Anniversary

The road trip classic Easy Rider is now available on 4K digital with high dynamic range from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, marking the 50th anniversary of the film.

Starring Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper, directed by Hopper, and co-written by Fonda, Hopper and Terry Southern, the counterculture classic focuses on two bikers who set off on a cross-country road trip. The cast also includes Jack Nicholson, Karen Black, Antonio Mendoza and Phil Spector.

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Digital extras available through participating platforms include a Hopper commentary and a behind-the-scenes featurette.

The 4K restoration premiered at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, mirroring the film’s original debut at the festival in 1969.