CES: Sony Touts Games’ Expanding Movie/Streaming Presence

In the wake of last November’s launch of the next-generation PlayStation 5 video game system, Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) used Sony Corp.’s annual (and virtual) CES media presentation to showcase PlayStation’s expanded foray into film and TV with a diversity of stories.

As with much of Hollywood, PlayStation, along with Sony Pictures Entertainment, pushed back most of its new original content releases to 2021 and beyond due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

In addition to continued development of the “Spider-Man” franchise, two PS properties eyeing both theatrical and episodic TV adaptations in 2021 include Uncharted, featuring Tom Holland (Spider-Man: Homecoming) as a live-action young Nathan Drake and Mark Wahlberg as Victor Sullivan. The film is now set to release on July 16. Separately, Sony Pictures Television and HBO are creating a limited series around the video game The Last of Us for subscription streaming platform HBO Max.

The studio also has a partnership with Hivemind Productions (creator of Netflix’s “The Witcher”) for a live-action adaption of the Final Fantasy XIV series games.

“This is just the beginning of the expansion of our storytelling into new media and even wider audiences,” Jim Ryan, president/CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, said in a video clip. “Sony is a creative entertainment company and entertainment has never been more important. Our community are networked like never before and are more diverse than they have ever been. And we celebrate and embrace the differing viewpoints and tastes that make up our community.”

Indeed, Sony Pictures CEO Tony Vinciquerra last month announced that the studio was working on three movies and seven TV shows based on PlayStation games, including the recent actioner Monster Hunter, starring Mila Jovovich and Tony Jaa.

“You’ll be seeing a lot more integration of Sony companies together in the future,” Vinciquerra told CNBC.

‘The Last Vermeer’ Coming to Disc and Digital Feb. 23

The World War II drama The Last Vermeer will come out on Blu-ray, DVD and digital Feb. 23 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

In the film, while Joseph Piller (Claes Bang), a Dutch Jew, was fighting in the Resistance during the Second World War, the witty, debonair art connoisseur Han van Meegeren (Guy Pearce) was hosting hedonistic soirees and selling Dutch art treasures to Hermann Göring and other top Nazis. Following the war, Piller becomes an investigator assigned the task of identifying and redistributing stolen art, resulting in the flamboyant van Meegeren being accused of collaboration — a crime punishable by death. Despite mounting evidence, Piller, with the aid of his assistant (Vicky Krieps), becomes increasingly convinced of Han’s innocence and finds himself in the unlikely position of fighting to save his life.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The film is based on the book The Man Who Made Vermeers by Jonathan Lopez.

Former Sony Pictures Publicist Staci Griesbach Releases Second Album of Jazz-Inspired Covers

Staci Griesbach, the Sony Pictures publicist-turned-vocalist, is out with her second album, My Shania Twain Songbook, a collection of jazz-inspired interpretations celebrating the 25th anniversary of the iconic 1990s country star’s breakout album, The Woman in Me.

Among them: “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under,” “Any Man of Mine,” “The Woman in Me” and “No One Needs To Know,” which JAZZIZ Magazine hailed for its “warmth” and made its “Song of the Day” earlier this month.

“When Shania released The Woman in Me in 1995, I was a junior in high school in rural Wisconsin, and that album very much represented a coming of age for me,” Griesbach said. “Shania demonstrated confidence in being a woman and really owning who she was as an artist.

“Most importantly, she didn’t shy away from her desire of pursuing her dream, and that was inspiring to me then and perhaps even more so now.”

Twain pushed the boundaries of country music at that time, and fans responded by making her one of the 1990s’ biggest country-pop crossover superstars, capable of filling huge arenas.

The Woman in Me, her second studio album produced with then-husband Robert John “Mutt” Lange, became certified “diamond.” Twain just released a “Diamond Edition” version of the album to commemorate the 25th anniversary of its initial release.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Inspired during the coronavirus pandemic, the timeline for Griesbach’s second album was incredibly quick. Griesbach once again collaborated with some of the top musicians in the world on the arrangements, including Tamir Hendelman, Michael O. Mitchell, Rahsaan Barber and Otmaro Ruiz.

“This album came together so incredibly fast, it was like magic,” she recalled. “We started on the arrangements in July, were in the recording studio at the end of September and mixing in October. It’s almost unheard of to release an album that fast, but I guess the inspiration was that strong.”

To promote the release, Griesbach has teamed up with Twain’s charity, Shania Kids Can, for a benefit streaming concert and online auction to help raise money for kids and schools.

My Shania Twain Songbook is a followup to Griesbach’s debut, My Patsy Cline Songbook, which was financed partially by a Kickstarter campaign and released in August 2019. The album — a reimagining of classics by the pioneering female country singer in a style similar to jazz standards from the Great American Songbook — led to gigs at top jazz clubs in New York, Los Angeles and Nashville, as well as an appearance at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Carnegie Hall.

Rolling Stone hailed her “gorgeous jazz interpretation of Patsy Cline’s ‘Walkin’ After Midnight’” and included the song on its  “10 Best Country and Americana Songs to Hear Now” list, alongside such established stars as Miranda Lambert.

The album even won accolades from Cline’s daughter, Julie Fudge, who in the CD’s liner notes wrote, “It is amazing to hear Staci interpreting Mom’s music for the jazz fan, as well as the traditional Patsy fan.  These arrangements are new and fresh and so engaging.  I truly think Mom would have listened to this collection.”

Griesbach, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, spent 15 years as a publicist for the home entertainment division of Sony Pictures, rising to VP of worldwide publicity.

Music was never far from her heart, though, she recalled. On the farm, she had grown up to the songs of Patsy Cline and other famous stars of the era, and later, in high school, Griesbach became a huge fan of Shania Twain, who at the time was breaking boundaries for women in music and inspiring young female musicians all over the world.

“Shania crossed genres arguably better than any other female in country music at that time, and it’s part of my exploration to bring her music into the jazz world,” Griesbach said. “For me, looking at this album 25 later is like going home and reconnecting to a little part of myself all over again.”

While attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Griesbach was a member of the Wisconsin Singers, a touring troupe that performs Broadway and pop standards and entertains more than 50,000 fans each year.

After graduating, she pursued a career in PR and landed a job with Fleishman-Hillard in Kansas City. The big agency moved her to Sacramento, and two years later she moved to Los Angeles to be closer to the entertainment scene.

In 2005, Griesbach was hired at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, where over a 15-year run — and under the tutelage of Fritz Friedman, regarded as one of Hollywood’s top publicists — she rose from manager to VP, managing global campaigns and promoting the studio’s film and television content around the world.

Music, however, remained more than just a hobby. In 2013, Griesbach started studying jazz vocals and jazz piano with Michele Weir, currently an adjunct professor in global jazz studies at UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music. In January 2015, she secured a regular residency at a Hollywood hotel, performing with her trio on Friday evenings.

In 2017, she recalled, “I sang and produced 100 songs for a centennial tribute to Ella Fitzgerald — complete with a sell-out show at an L.A. club benefiting the Ella Fitzgerald Foundation.”

She subsequently booked time at Talley Sherwood’s TriTone Recording in Glendale, and in January 2018 recorded the first six tracks.

Two years after her position at Sony was eliminated, Griesbach runs her own boutique PR agency but is laser-focused on music.

“Like many, there were so many dreams and plans we had going into this year,” Griesbach said. “For me, it was playing the SXSW Music Festival. But even though this year has been challenging on so many levels, 2020 has provided an opportunity for this album to be born, for me to continue to explore this intersection of country and jazz, and take my musical journey one more step forward.”

 

Sony Pictures Sets Home Release Dates for Arthouse Film Favorite ‘Yellow Rose’

Sony Pictures has set home release dates for Yellow Rose, a film festival favorite about a Filipina teen from a small Texas town who fights to pursue her dreams as a country music performer while having to decide between staying with her family or leaving the only home she has ever known.

The film, directed by Diane Paragas, will be released through digital retailers on Dec. 22 and on Blu-ray Disc and DVD on Jan. 5, 2021. Yellow Rose stars Grammy-winner Eva Noblezada in her feature film debut, award-winning country music artist Dale Watson, Princess Punzalan and Tony Award-winner Lea Salonga (Mulan, Aladdin).

Noblezada is best known for her work on the Broadway stage and independent film. Noblezada made her Broadway debut as Kim in a revival of “Miss Saigon,” a performance for which she received a 2017 Tony Award nomination. She also played Eurydice in “Hadestown,” winning a second Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical, as well as the 2020 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album.

Yellow Rose premiered at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival in May 2019. It was screened at several other film festivals internationally and ultimately picked up 13 film festival awards. Yellow Rose was released theatrically in October.

‘Elysium,’ with Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, to Make 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Debut on Feb. 9

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced the Feb. 9, 2021 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray debut of Elysium, a 2013 dystopian science-fiction film written, directed, and co-produced by Neill Blomkamp.

The film stars Matt Damon and Jodie Foster. It was released in both conventional and Imax digital theaters. Set in the year 2154, the film explores the lives of two classes of people: the very wealthy, who live on a pristine man-made space station called Elysium, and the rest, who live on an overpopulated, ruined Earth.

The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and standard Blu-ray Disc combo package includes hours of bonus content, including an extended scene and the following featurettes: “Collaboration: Crafting the Performances in Elysium”; “Engineering Utopia: Creating a Society in the Sky”; “Visions of 2154 — An Interactive Exploration of the Art and Design of Elysium”; “In Support of the Story: The Visual Effects of Elysium”; “The Technology of 2154”; and the three-part documentary “The Journey to Elysium.”

A 4K Ultra HD bonus disc includes more extras, including “Exoskeletons, Explosions and the Action Choreography of Elysium”; “The Hero, The Psychopath and the Characters of Elysium”; “The Art of the Elysium Miniatures”; “Bugatti 2154”; and theatrical trailers.

‘Antebellum’ Arrives on Disc; Complete ‘Game of Thrones’ Series Now Out on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

Lionsgate’s  Antebellum, Paramount’s SpongeBob SquarePants: The SpongeBob Musical — Live on Stage! and the third season of “The Crown,” the Netflix historical series about the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, top the slate of new releases available for home viewers beginning Nov. 3.

Also newly available for purchase are 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray editions of V for Vendetta and the complete HBO series “Game of Thrones,” both from Warner Bros., and Lionsgate’s Kick-Ass.

The time-shifting horror drama Antebellum is now available on Blu-ray Disc and DVD. It was initially released by Lionsgate on premium VOD at $20 on Sept. 18. The film stars Janelle Monáe as a successful modern-day writer trapped during America’s slavery era.

Read an EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Janelle Monáe here!

SpongeBob SquarePants: The SpongeBob Musical — Live on Stage!, from Nickelodeon, is making its DVD debut on Nov. 3 at $9.99. The disc edition includes an exclusive, extended sing-along version.

The Crown: The Complete Third Season is now out as a four-disc Blu-ray and DVD set from Sony Pictures.  The series is produced by Left Bank Pictures and Sony Pictures Television for Netflix. Season 3 takes place between 1964 and 1977 and introduces Camilla Parker Bowles, who would later marry Prince Charles, heir to the British throne.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

V for Vendetta and Kick-Ass are the latest high-profile films to be released on the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format, which is getting a renewed push by the big Hollywood movie studios as they continue to grapple with a lack of fresh theatrical product.

Also newly available on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray on Nov. 3 is Game of Thrones: The Complete Collection. The set, listed at $254.99, includes all 73 episodes, plus more than 15 hours of bonus content, and a digital copy of the episodes.

Follow us HERE on Instagram!

Extras include material previously released in the “Game of Thrones” complete season sets and the 2019 complete series on standard Blu-ray, including a two-part reunion special hosted by Conan O’Brien; the documentary Game of Thrones: The Last Watch chronicling the making of the final season; Conquest & Rebellion: An Animated History of Seven Kingdoms; and audio commentaries, deleted and extended scenes, behind-the-scenes featurettes, and more.

A 4K “Game of Thrones” complete-series set also is available in an exclusive limited-edition version at Best Buy at $285.43, with all eight seasons featured in individual Steelbooks and housed in individually numbered metal cases.

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

Sony Pictures Romcom ‘Broken Hearts Gallery’ Due on Digital Nov. 10, Blu-ray and DVD Nov. 17

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has set home release dates for The Broken Hearts Gallery, a romantic comedy executive produced by Selena Gomez.

The film will be released through digital retailers on Nov. 10, with a Blu-ray Disc and DVD release on Nov. 17.

Written and directed by Natalie Krinsky, the film follows a young art gallery assistant in New York City who after breaking up with her latest boyfriend creates a pop-up exhibit of mementos from prior relationships. The cast includes  Geraldine Viswanathan, Dacre Montgomery, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Molly Gordon, Phillipa Soo and Bernadette Peters.

The film was theatrically released in the United States on Sept. 11, 2020, and earned just over $4 million.

Bonus features on the home releases include a gag reel and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film.

Hulu Acquires U.S. Rights to ‘Happiest Season’

Streaming service Hulu has acquired U.S. rights to Clea DuVall’s holiday romantic comedy Happiest Season, which will debut as a Hulu Original film on Nov. 25.

Sony Pictures and eOne co-financed the film and will retain distribution rights in Canada and the rest of the world. Overseas plans, including potential theatrical releases, will be finalized in the coming weeks.

The film stars Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Davis, Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza, Daniel Levy, Mary Holland, Burl Moseley, Victor Garber and Mary Steenburgen. In the film, when Abby (Stewart) learns that Harper (Davis) has kept their relationship a secret from her family, she begins to question the girlfriend she thought she knew.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“This holiday season — more than any other — we could all use a little happiness. It was essential to Sony Pictures and to the filmmakers that Clea’s marvelous and fresh holiday-themed romantic comedy come out when the lights are on the trees,” Nicole Brown, president of TriStar Pictures, said in a statement. “We are excited that Hulu is geared up to make this happen in the U.S. and grateful that they love the movie as much as we do.”

“With its all-star cast and modern storytelling, Happiest Season brings yet another breakthrough film to Hulu that we know our viewers will love,” Brian Kendig, Hulu director of content acquisition, said in a statement. “We are honored to be the streaming home of this fresh and funny romantic comedy that explores love, family and acceptance this holiday season.”

“I am beyond grateful to Hulu for providing an incredible home for Happiest Season, and I’ll forever cherish my journey with Sony Pictures who felt just as strongly as I did about the value of bringing the first major LGBTQ+ holiday rom-com to audiences,” writer-director DuVall said in a statement. “I’m hopeful that this universal story, told through a unique lens, will join the long list of holiday classics that continue to bring all of us so much joy and happiness.”

‘Pink Floyd’s Delicate Sound of Thunder’ Concert Film Available on Digital Dec. 1 From Sony

Pink Floyd’s Delicate Sound of Thunder, the Grammy-nominated 1988 concert, is coming to digital for purchase and rental Dec. 1 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Restored, re-edited and remixed from the original film reels and master tapes, the concert release was filmed at the Nassau Coliseum (Long Island, N.Y.) and features David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Richard Wright with an innovative mix of lighting and staging, balancing the then-new material and classic Pink Floyd songs.

Tracks include:

  1. Shine on You Crazy Diamond, Parts 1-5
  2. Signs of Life
  3. Learning to Fly
  4. Sorrow
  5. The Dogs of War
  6. On the Turning Away
  7. One of These Days
  8. Time
  9. On the Run
  10. The Great Gig in the Sky
  11. Wish You Were Here
  12. Us and Them
  13. Money
  14. Comfortably Numb
  15. One Slip
  16. Run Like Hell

 

Bonus tracks include:

  1. Yet Another Movie
  2. Round and Around
  3. A New Machine Part 1
  4. Terminal Frost
  5. A New Machine Part 2

 

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Merchandising: Best Buy Offers ‘Paranoia Agent’ Blu-ray Steelbook

Among the scant deals on new DVD and Blu-ray releases Oct. 13, Best Buy as usual had a few exclusive Steelbook editions of new titles.

Most notable was a Blu-ray Steelbook of Funimation’s Paranoia Agent: The Complete Series for $37.99.

The anime series focuses on a boy named Lil’ Slugger who attacks a series of seemingly unconnected victims with a golden baseball bat. As detectives attempt to find a link between the victims, they discover that the victims’ lives have somehow improved.

A regular Blu-ray edition of the show will be widely released Dec. 15.

Best Buy also offered a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbook edition of Sony Pictures’ District 9, for $27.99.

Best Buy’s ‘District 9’ 4K Steelbook

Target was holding a buy-two-get-one-free sale on music, movies and books.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!