Clint Eastwood Film ‘In the Line of Fire’ Coming to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray June 15

The 1993 Clint Eastwood film In the Line of Fire will come out on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, remastered with High Dynamic Range, on June 15 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

In the film from director Wolfgang Peterson, Eastwood stars as Frank Horrigan, a veteran Secret Service agent haunted by his failure to protect John F. Kennedy from assassination. Thirty years later, he gets a chance to redeem himself when a brilliant psychopath threatens to kill the current president and take Horrigan with him. Taunting him by phone and tantalizing him with clues, the assassin (John Malkovich) lures Horrigan into a battle of wits and will that only one man can survive. The film co-stars Rene Russo as Horrigan’s risk-taking Field Chief.

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The release features Dolby Atmos audio, original theatrical 5.1, and original theatrical stereo. Special features include audio commentary with Petersen, five deleted scenes, several featurettes and a theatrical teaser. The release does not include a regular Blu-ray copy but does come with a digital copy, for a limited time.

Kaleidescape, Sony Mount Joint Promotion

Kaleidescape, designer and manufacturer of home movie servers and players, has mounted a joint promotion with Sony Electronics offering a $3,000 discount to customers purchasing a Kaleidescape system alongside one of four Sony projectors: VPL-GTZ380, VPL-VW5000ES, VPL-VW995ES or VPL-VW915ES.

“This joint promotion with Kaleidescape underscores our unwavering commitment to provide the finest in 4K HDR entertainment,” Jeff Goldstein, head of custom integrator channel sales at Sony Electronics, said in a statement. “Besides being an incredible deal, this incentive ensures that our customers will get the very best from their premium Sony projector.”

Kaleidescape delivers reference-quality 4K HDR movies at the source, optimizing for the highest resolution, dynamic range and contrast capabilities of Sony’s high-end projectors, according to a company press release. With more than 12,000 movies and shows to choose from within its interface, Kaleidescape employs proprietary metadata to adjust Sony’s projectors to display every movie in native aspect ratio.

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“Sony is synonymous with 4K innovation and shares Kaleidescape’s vision for delivering the finest picture and sound quality,” Kaleidescape CEO Tayloe Stansbury said in a statement. “When you combine Sony’s finest projectors with Kaleidescape’s exceptional products, like the newly released Terra movie server with 48TB storage, the result is a 4K HDR experience you can’t take your eyes off.”

A streaming device cannot maximize a high-end projector’s innovative capabilities and stops short of delivering the best possible viewing experience, according to the press release. In contrast, a Kaleidescape system is designed to play 4K HDR movies with a video bitrate four times higher while reproducing lossless audio at up to 10 times higher than any streaming device.

Guy Ritchie Comedy ‘Snatch’ Due on 4K Ultra HD June 1

The comedy Snatch, from director Guy Ritchie, is being released on 4K Ultra HD June 1 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The writer-director of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels delivers a story about a diamond heist gone wrong, a colorful Irish gypsy-turned-prizefighter — and a very temperamental dog. In the heart of gangland, two novice unlicensed boxing promoters, Turkish (Jason Statham) and Tommy (Stephen Graham), get roped into a rigged bare-knuckle fight with local kingpin/villain and fellow boxing promoter Brick Top (Alan Ford). But all goes wrong when wild-card Irish gypsy boxer One Punch Mickey O’Neil (Brad Pitt) starts playing by his own rules, and the duo find themselves heading for a whole lot of trouble. Meanwhile, Franky Four Fingers (Benicio Del Toro) and his stolen 86-carat diamond have gone missing in London. Head honcho Avi (Dennis Farina) hires local legend Bullet Tooth Tony (Vinnie Jones) to find them, launching everyone into a spiral of double-crossing vendettas and events, most of them illegal.

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The 4K release includes a new Dolby Atmos soundtrack and the theatrical trailer. Extras on Blu-ray include director and producer commentary; deleted scenes with optional commentary; the “Making Snatch” featurette; storyboard comparisons; and a video photo gallery.

OTT.X Summit Panelists: Transactional VOD, Including PVOD, Here to Stay

Transactional VOD, or the digital rental or sale of titles, is here to stay — including the higher-priced COVID-induced newcomer PVOD — said panelists during the OTT.X spring summit.

“It’s still, if you actually include the declining physical part of the business, it’s still a $10 billion business,” said Fandango’s Cameron Douglas, who oversees transactional services FandangoNow and the recently acquired Vudu. “It also was the first year, last year, that you actually saw growth, combined physical and digital business en masse. So I absolutely think that there’s a continued appetite for consumers for transactional video whether it’s Blu-ray and DVD or TVOD.”

“It’s absolutely here to stay, and the reason for that is that is consumers cannot afford to sign up for every single subscription service that’s out there, and there’s no way that you can replicate the selection that’s available on transactional platforms,” added Jill Allen, SVP of Sony Pictures Entertainment. “It’s just ubiquitous. It’s on every platform. And if you want to watch a movie, you generally know that it’s available to rent or buy somewhere. And then in addition TVOD has various benefits in terms of the windows, too, getting the earlier window. So in the near term I see it continuing. Even though it’s definitely benefited from COVID, looking forward I see it still being a very vibrant, large business.”

Transactional services also offer a deeper library of content than subscription services, panelists noted.

“I don’t know how many pieces of content Peacock has or Netflix has but it’s relatively small compared to a transactional platform,” Douglas added. “I think Vudu, at last count, has 225,000 movies and TV shows. I promise you that even the biggest services on the subscription side have nothing that size library.”

Panelists, clockwise, from left top: Mike Gamboa of Roku, Thomas K. Arnold of Media Play News, Jill Allen of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Michelle Edelman of Premiere Digital, and Cameron Douglas of FandangoNow. (Screen shot courtesy of Marc Rashba)

The studio leap into premium VOD (PVOD), usually a $20 one-time rental, has been successful as well, panelists noted, with Premier Digital’s Michele Edelman saying that a friend had shared a story about watching a first-run film at home.

“She said, ‘I treated myself to a theatrical movie in my house,’” Edelman said. “’I’d just had dinner, and I watched Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar.’ She said, ‘It was the best experience.’”

Edelman noted that “everyone’s screens are bigger,” making watching movies at home more theater-like.

“They’re creating this really great theatrical experience where they are,” she said.

Roku’s Mike Gamboa agreed.

“Consumers love new release movies,” he said. “I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon, but I think they have been demanding the flexibility to watch either in theaters or at home. And I think from our perspective, the success of Trolls [World Tour on PVOD] and Scoob! [also on PVOD] kind of demonstrated that consumers love new-release movies at home, and the economics and technical infrastructure is in place to support that business model. So we do see opportunity and viability of PVOD and TVOD to support the new-release movies.”

Sony’s Allen, too, noted that PVOD produced changes in how the teams at the studio worked together.

“We’ve never collaborated so closely with our theatrical team,” she said.

Indeed, Douglas noted, PVOD titles were able to benefit from theatrical marketing as never before.

“I’m looking forward to a real PVOD title,” Douglas said. “We really haven’t had one. Premium VOD in its initial incarnation was meant to be a theatrical movie that has a short window to home entertainment. Because theaters haven’t really opened up yet, a real PVOD title is going to be the real test.”

With the windows shifting during the pandemic and studios experimenting with different windows and pricing, the calculus in how to release a title has become complex during the past year, Allen said.

“You now have to navigate around a whole new set of competitive windows and, internally, as a content provider, you have to look at when your content is going into other windows as well, too,” she said. “So it’s become a little bit more complex.”

Allen said she has to look at individual release plans for each of her studio’s own titles and also what windows the other studios’ titles are employing.

“You had Wonder Woman [1984] that had multiple new-release windows,” she noted. “If you’re competing against the third new-release window of that, is that now a big deal? So understanding the competitive landscape, very, very complex. Even within each studio, if you have a title that’s on a subscription service. If I have a Christmas-themed movie, and I have it available on an SVOD service, can I sell that movie right now?”

While new releases have been few and far between during the pandemic as the pipeline shrank to a trickle, TVOD services and studios leaned on catalog to fill the gap, panelists noted.

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“We’ve seen huge growth in [catalog] the last year because of the dearth of new release content,” Douglas said, adding the services have noticed “people rediscovering their favorites, collecting them, adding them to their library, including full series of television shows, where they’re buying almost the entire series of ‘Married With Children’ or ‘M*A*S*H’ or ‘The Office.’”

Sony, too, has been mining catalog while production slowed.

“It’s been our lives since COVID started,” Allen said.

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Indeed, consumers are responding by collecting digitally, noted Edelman.

“I just heard the other day, someone said, ‘I started building my digital library,’” she said. “’I now have in my library my absolute favorite films, and I’m buying them at these really discounted prices because it was worth it.'”

“It’s the best subscription service you could ever have,” added Douglas.

‘Khalid: Free Spirit’ Album Companion Film Due on Digital April 6 From Sony

Khalid: Free Spirit, a companion film to the multi-platinum recording artist’s album, will be available for digital purchase and rental April 6 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

In this creative parallel to Khalid’s platinum album Free Spirit, Khalid and award-winning music video director Emil Nava expand on Khalid’s lyrics and artistry on the album to create a visual story of love, loss and the pain of growing up.

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The cast includes Khalid Robinson, Dizzy Fae, Judah Lang, Jahking Guillory, Estefania Preciado, Bianca Leonor Quinones, Maverick McConnell, Diamond White and Ed Gathegi.

The film also includes never-before-seen outtakes.

Tim Burton’s ‘Big Fish’ Coming to 4K Ultra HD May 4

The Tim Burton-directed 2003 fantasy drama Big Fish is coming to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray May 4 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film stars Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney, Billy Crudup, Jessica Lange, Helena Bonham Carter, Alison Lohman, Robert Guillaume and Marion Cotillard with Steve Buscemi and Danny DeVito.

The story, based on the book, follows Edward Bloom (McGregor), who throughout his life has always been a man of big appetites, enormous passions and tall tales. In his later years, portrayed by five-time Best Actor Oscar nominee Finney (Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Erin Brockovich, 2000), he remains a huge mystery to his son, William (Crudup). Now, to get to know the real man, Will begins piecing together a true picture of his father from flashbacks of his amazing adventures.

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The 4K UHD disc is newly remastered in 4K resolution from the original camera negative with HDR10 and includes new Dolby Atmos audio plus original theatrical 5.1 audio. The Blu-ray disc includes the feature presented in HD, sourced from the new 4K master; Burton audio commentary, moderated by Mark Salisbury; several featurettes; Easter eggs; and the theatrical trailer.

Sony Announces ‘Cognitive Intelligence’ TVs

Sony Electronics has announced what it calls “the world’s first cognitive intelligence televisions.”

The new Bravia XR televisions include Master Series Z9J 8K LED, MASTER Series A90J and A80J OLED, and X95J and X90J 4K LED.

Powered by the Cognitive Processor XR, the televisions use a new processing method designed to replicate the ways humans see and hear, according to Sony.

“When we see objects, we unconsciously focus on certain points. Cognitive Processor XR, powered by cognitive intelligence, divides the screen into numerous zones and detects where the ‘focal point’ is in the picture,” according to Sony. “While conventional Artificial Intelligence (AI) can only detect and analyze picture elements like color, contrast and detail individually, the new processor can cross-analyze an array of elements at once, just as our brains do. By doing so, each element is adjusted to its best final outcome, in conjunction with each other, so everything is synchronized and lifelike — something that conventional AI cannot achieve.”

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Cognitive Processor XR can also analyze sound position in the signal so the sound matches precisely with what’s on the screen, according to the company. In addition, it upconverts any sound to 3D surround sound.

“It learns, analyzes and understands unprecedented amounts of data and intelligently optimizes every pixel, frame and scene for the most lifelike picture and sound Sony has ever delivered,” according to a Sony press release.

“Sony’s goal is to offer viewers the best and most immersive experience – authentically delivering the creator’s true intent,” Mike Fasulo, president and chief operating officer of Sony Electronics, said in a statement. “Our new BRAVIA CORE technology and the XR lineup takes the industry to the next level with a powerful, cinematic experience, enabled by the world’s first TVs with cognitive processors.”

‘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.

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

‘Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV’ Coming to 4K UHD March 30 From Sony

Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV will come out on 4K Ultra HD March 30 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

In the film, the magical kingdom of Lucis is home to the sacred Crystal, and the menacing empire of Niflheim is determined to steal it. King Regis of Lucis (Sean Bean) commands an elite force of soldiers called the Kingsglaive. Wielding their king’s magic, Nyx (Aaron Paul) and his fellow soldiers fight to protect Lucis. As the overwhelming military might of the empire bears down, King Regis is faced with an impossible ultimatum — to marry his son, Prince Noctis, to Princess Lunafreya of Tenebrae (Lena Headey), captive of Niflheim, and surrender his lands to the empire’s rule. Although the king concedes, it becomes clear that the empire will stop at nothing to achieve their devious goals, with only the Kingsglaive standing between them and world domination. Based on the iconic game, which has sold nearly 9 million copies worldwide since its launch.

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Extras include “A Way with Words: Epic and Intimate Vocals,” in which Aaron Paul, Lena Headey and Sean Bean — along with the filmmakers — reveal the process of creating the vocals for this film; “Fit for the Kingsglaive: Building the World,” an in-depth exploration of imagining and designing the world of the film;  “To Capture the Kingsglaive: The Process,” exploring the intricate process of capturing the physical performances at the heart of this computer-generated film; and “Emotive Music: Scoring the Kingsglaive,” about the creation of the score.

Buddy Comedy ‘The Climb’ Coming to Digital and Disc Jan. 19

The buddy comedy The Climb will come out on digital, DVD, and Blu-ray Jan. 19 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film takes a humorous look at the toxic lifelong friendship of Mike and Kyle. While Kyle is kind and a bit of a pushover, Mike is a train wreck, who, despite his affection for Kyle, always seems to sabotage Kyle’s relationships. Told through a series of vignettes, Kyle struggles to deal with the fact that his best friend might just be the worst person for him.

Extras include filmmaker commentary, the original short film, and deleted and alternate scenes.

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