‘Slaughterhouse Rulez’ to Matriculate to Digital May 17, DVD June 18 From Sony

The dark comedy Slaughterhouse Rulez will graduate to digital May 17 and DVD June 18 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film takes place at an elite boarding school where boys and girls are groomed for power and greatness. Pupils and teachers become embroiled in a battle with a hoard of subterranean monsters, unleashed from a gaping frack site sinkhole, wreaking havoc on the school grounds.

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Asa Butterfield (TV’s “Sex Education,” Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children), Finn Cole (TV’s“Peaky Blinders”) and Hermione Corfield (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) star alongside Michael Sheen (TV’s “Good Omens,” “The Twilight Saga”). Simon Pegg (the “Mission Impossible” and “Star Trek” franchises) and Nick Frost (Fighting With My Family, Shaun of the Dead) appear in the film and serve as executive producers.

‘Stan & Ollie’ Explores Friends’ Love Story

The comedy team of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy — who came to fame in the 1920s — helped make Hollywood the dream factory that it is today.

“They are the ones who created the dream,” said Stan Taffel, president of the classic film festival CineCon and member of the Laurel and Hardy fan club Sons of the Desert.

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Born in the silent era, the performing duo is the subject of Stan & Ollie, coming to Blu-ray, DVD and digital March 26 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film follows the team in the later years of their career as they toured and tried to get a new film project off the ground.

“It’s not about two old time comics and the history of their lives; it is about how you get along in life with the people that you know and you make the best of it that you can, and as long as you have friends you have everything,” said Taffel, who calls the film a “love story” about true friends.

Hollywood historian Stan Taffel discussed the legacy of Laurel and Hardy at the Hollywood Heritage Museum in Los Angeles.

It’s a story that hasn’t been fully explored until now, he said at a March 22 presentation at the Hollywood Heritage Museum, appropriately housed in Cecil B. DeMille’s barn, the building that birthed the Hollywood motion picture feature.

“I’m very excited about this film because you really do get to know more of their story,” Taffel said. “Of all of the books and the documents that have been written about these two boys, this film shows an area of their lives that is the least documented of all, the last years of their lives of professional performing. Oliver Hardy was not in good health. Stan Laurel could not secure a contract for them to do more films — the reason, let’s be fair, everybody had their day in the sun and they had their great day in the sun and they still had fans, but Martin and Lewis were the top comedy team at the time that they were touring, and Abbot and Costello were making films, but they weren’t quite as exciting and they had their disagreements. These two gentlemen were the only gentlemen that stayed together.”

As a testament to the affection between the two performers, Taffel noted that Laurel “wrote material for Laurel and Hardy even eight years after Ollie died.”

That connection between the comedy team is the core of Stan & Ollie.

“What this film does, it actually shows two people who really genuinely cared about each other, even at a time when they were not at the top,” Taffel said. “They really showed that Laurel and Hardy were magic.”

Taffel praised the performances in the film, especially John C. Reilly’s transformation into Hardy.

“I actually forgot I was watching John C. Reilly,” he said. Reilly picked up a Golden Globe nomination for his performance. Steve Coogan stars as Laurel.

Taffel runs a “tent” for the duo’s fan club, Sons of the Desert, named after a movie that they made in 1933. Members get together and show old films and imbibe, as Stan Laurel directed in the formation of the group in the mid-60s.

“Every tent of the Sons of the Desert is named after one of the films, so you will find a Babes in Toyland tent, you will find an Another Fine Mess tent, you will find a Big  Business tent. I made our tent Hollywood Party since I moved to Hollywood in 1997,” Taffel noted.

In honor of the home entertainment debut of Stan & Ollie, Taffel led a tour around Los Angeles visiting key movie locations from their films, including the famed Music Box Steps.

He also pointed out the various Laurel and Hardy displays at the museum, including the wax figures of the two and letters that Laurel wrote to Hardy.

It’s just a bit of a peek into a relationship that lasted a lifetime and is portrayed in the film — especially in one pivotal scene when Hardy is ill and can’t perform.

“Stan [Laurel] gets into the bed just to keep him warm and hold his hand and that to me is what that movie is about,” Taffel said. “It’s really about a friendship.”

Google Unveils ‘Stadia’ Video Game Service

As expected, Google is entering the $140 billion video game business with hopes its cloud-based Stadia service will rival industry benchmarks Xbox (Microsoft), PlayStation (Sony) and Switch (Nintendo) among consumers.

Google announced the new service March 19 at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. The search behemoth, which plans to roll out the service and cost details later this year, says Stadia would enable users to play games from major developers on most devices via YouTube.

Google Stadia video game controller

“Our ambition is far beyond a single game,” Phil Harrison, VP and GM at Google, told attendees. “The power of instant access is magical, and it’s already transformed the music and movie industries.”

Harrison, who previously held executive positions at Xbox and PlayStation, said Google tested the service (Project Stream) last fall with Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey that enabled users to play/stream the triple-A game via Google’s Chrome browser on any applicable device – including smart TV.

“We finally get to share Google’s vision of games,” Harrison said. “Our vision for Stadia is simple. One place for all the games you play.”

In a statement, Yves Guillemot, the co-founder/CEO of Ubisoft, said Google’s global expanse would give “billions” unprecedented opportunities to play video games.

“We are proud to partner with Google on Stadia, building on what we’ve learned with Project Stream via Assassin’s Creed Odyssey,” Guillemot said. “This is only the beginning, and we can’t wait to continue collaborating closely with Google on what’s next for Stadia.”

 

Actioner ‘Miss Bala’ Coming to Digital April 16, Disc April 30 From Sony

The action adventure Miss Bala will shoot to digital April 16 and Blu-ray and DVD April 30 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film earned $15 million in theaters.

Gina Rodriguez (Annihilation,“Jane the Virgin”) plays a young woman caught in the perilous world of a brutal cross-border cartel who finds powers she never knew as she seeks to rescue her friend. Ismael Cruz-Córdova (Mary Queen of Scots) stars alongside Rodriguez as the cartel kingpin, whose growing attraction to his strong-willed female hostage raises the stakes for both as the CIA, DEA and rival cartels close in. The film is directed by Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight).

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More than an hour of bonus material includes eight deleted and extended scenes, wardrobe and rehearsal footage with insights by Hardwicke, and three behind-the-scenes featurettes. In “Gina: The Unstoppable Strength of a Woman,” Rodriguez explains the importance of portraying a strong Latina woman on the big screen. The cast and stunt team explain how they created the action scenes in “The Bigger the Bang: Action on Set.” “The Making of Miss Bala” explains how the story was brought to life from script to screen with a 95 percent Latinx cast and crew. A feature audio commentary includes Hardwicke, executive producer Jamie Marshall, and associate producer Shayda Frost.

Season Four of ‘Better Call Saul’ Coming to Disc May 7 From Sony

Season four of “Better Call Saul” will land on Blu-ray and DVD May 7 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

In the critically acclaimed show’s fourth season, the death of Jimmy McGill’s brother catalyzes his transformation into the bigger-than-life legal legend Saul Goodman.  Now, Jimmy steps into the criminal world, putting his future as a lawyer — and his relationship with Kim Wexler — in deep jeopardy.

Bob Odenkirk (TV’s “Breaking Bad”) stars as McGill, Jonathan Banks (TV’s “Breaking Bad”) as Mike Ehrmantraut, Rhea Seehorn (TV’s “Franklin & Bash”) as Wexler, Patrick Fabian (The Last Exorcism) as Howard Hamlin, Michael Mando (TV’s “Orphan Black”) as Nacho Varga, and Giancarlo Esposito (TV’s “Breaking Bad”) as Gus Fring.

The disc sets contain all 10 episodes and includes cast and crew audio commentaries on every episode, a gag reel, and the featurette “Slippin’ Kimmy,” which explores the complex character Kim Wexler, whose personal and professional triumphs are threatened by the temptation to cut corners. Also included are ten Madrigal Security Training Videos with Mike Ehrmantraut and the short film “No Picnic” featuring fan-favorite characters The Kettlemans. Blu-ray exclusive content includes seven deleted scenes, three storyboard scene comparisons, a directorial walk-through, and two featurettes: “Flashing Forward, Looking Back,” which highlights the show’s use of non-linear storytelling to explore the many layers of Jimmy’s transformation, and “Constructing the Superlab,” which takes an in-depth look at the process of building Gus Fring’s Superlab both on and off-screen.

‘The Natural’ Swinging to 4K Ultra HD From Sony

For its 35th Anniversary, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is releasing the baseball film classic The Natural on 4K Ultra HD disc and in 4K via participating digital platforms June 4.

In the film, Robert Redford stars as Roy Hobbs, who seemingly comes out of nowhere to become a legendary baseball player with almost divine talent. But on his way to stardom in the big leagues, Hobbs’s dreams are shattered when a mysterious woman and a silver bullet end his career prematurely. Sixteen years later, Hobbs finds himself coming back to baseball, seeking to overcome physical pain — and nefarious forces — to lead his team to the pennant.

Nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Cinematography, Best Original Score and Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, the film also stars Robert Duvall, Glenn Close in an Academy Award-nominated performance, and Kim Basinger.

The 4K Ultra HD disc includes two versions of the film in 4K with HDR: the original theatrical version and the directors’ cut, each restored from the original camera negative, supervised and approved by director of photography Caleb Deschanel and director Barry Levinson. Both versions of the film also include newly remixed Dolby Atmos audio, along with the original stereo and 5.1 tracks for the theatrical version.

Bonus materials on the 4K UHD include Levinson’s intro to the director’s cut and the theatrical trailer. The blu-ray disc includes the theatrical cut and several featurettes.

‘Escape Room’ Coming Out on Digital April 9, Disc April 23 From Sony

Escape Room breaks out on digital April 9 and Blu-ray and DVD April 23 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

A thriller about the popular mystery-solving rooms, the story follows six strangers who they think they have gathered for a highly immersive escape room, but they soon find they are pawns in a sadistic game of life and death. The cast includes Taylor Russell (Lost in Space), Logan Miller (Love, Simon), Deborah Ann Woll (“True Blood), Jay Ellis (“Insecure), Tyler Labine (“New Amsterdam”) and Nik Dodani (Atypical) with Yorick van Wageningen (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).

The Blu-ray, DVD and digital releases feature an alternate ending and opening, six deleted scenes, and four featurettes.

‘A Dog’s Way Home’ Travels to Digital March 26, Disc April 9 From Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

A Dog’s Way Home will find its way to digital March 26 and Blu-ray combo pack and DVD April 9 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film earned $41.1 million in theaters.

Based on the bestselling novel by W. Bruce Cameron, the film chronicles the adventures of Bella, a dog who embarks on a 400-mile journey home after she is separated from her human, Lucas.

A Dog’s Way Home stars Ashley Judd, Jonah Hauer-King (Old Boys), Edward James Olmos, Alexandra Shipp (Love, Simon) and Wes Studi (Hostiles ) with Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) providing the voice of Bella.

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Special features include a guide to creating dog treats at home; deleted scenes; interviews with novelist W. Bruce Cameron, director Charles Martin Smith, and cast and crew; and a look at the film’s canine star Bella’s rags to riches journey from the shelter to the big screen.

Oscar Nominee ‘Capernaum’ Coming to Disc and Digital March 26 From Sony

Capernaum, Lebanon’s Academy Award Nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, arrives on Blu-ray, DVD and digital March 26 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Directed and co-written by Nadine Labaki, Capernaum (“Chaos”) features a cast of non-professional actors led by Zain al Rafeea in a debut performance as a 12-year-old boy fending for himself, surviving the dangers of the city streets by his wits. He flees his parents and, to assert his rights, takes them to court, suing them for the “crime” of giving him life.

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In addition to the Oscar nomination, Capernaum was nominated for Golden Globe and BAFTA Awards for Best Foreign Language Film and won three awards at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, including the Jury Prize and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury. The film was also an Official Selection at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival.

Special features include a commentary track with director-writer Nadine Labaki and composer-producer Khaled Mouzanar; a Q & A with Labaki, Mouzanar and actor Zain Al Rafeea; and a making-of featurette detailing the process of bringing the story to life.

The film is in Arabic and Amharic with English subtitles.

Oscar-Nominated ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ Swinging to Digital Feb. 26, Disc March 19 From Sony

Academy Award Nominee for Best Animated Feature Film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse swings to digital Feb. 26 and 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD March 19 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film, which has grossed more $350 million in theaters worldwide, introduces Brooklyn teen Miles Morales, and the limitless possibilities of the Spider-Verse, where more than one can wear the iconic mask. The voice cast includes Shameik Moore as Morales alongside Jake Johnson (“New Girl”) as Peter B. Parker, Hailee Steinfeld (Bumblebee) as Gwen Stacy/Spider-Gwen, Mahershala Ali (Green Book) as Miles’ Uncle Aaron, Brian Tyree Henry (“Atlanta”) as Jefferson Davis, Lily Tomlin (“Grace and Frankie”) as Aunt May, Luna Lauren Velez (“How To Get Away with Murder”) as Rio Morales, Zoë Kravitz (“Big Little Lies”) as Mary Jane, John Mulaney (“Big Mouth”) as Spider-Ham, with Nicholas Cage (The Croods) as Spider-Man Noir, Kathryn Hahn (Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation) as Doc Ock and Liev Schreiber (“Ray Donovan”) as the villain Kingpin.

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More than 90 minutes of bonus content includes the original short,  “Spider-Ham: Caught In a Ham,” in which Spider-Ham gets sucked into another dimension; “Alternate Universe Mode,” in which fans can view the film in a new way to discover alternate scenes, plotlines, characters and more with the filmmakers as their guide; “The Spider-Verse Super-Fan Easter Egg Challenge,” where viewers are challenged to find every single Easter Egg hidden within the Spider-Verse; “We Are Spider-Man,” which takes a deep dive into the diversity of the characters; “Spider-Verse: A New Dimension,” featuring the artists and filmmakers who pushed the boundaries of the comic artform; “The Ultimate Comics Cast,” about the characters and cast; “A Tribute to Stan Lee & Steve Ditko,” honoring the creators of Spider-Man; “Designing Cinematic Comics Characters,” a breakdown of the character design, including costume, movement in animation and distinct powers for each character; “Heroes & Hams,” about the Spider-people of the Spider-Verse; “Scorpions and Scoundrels,” about the villains; and two lyric videos, “Sunflower” by Post Malone and Swae Lee and “Familia”  by Nicki Minaj & Anuel AA (feat. Bantu).