Morbius

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 6/14/22;
Sony Pictures;
Horror;
Box Office $73.79 million;
$30.99 DVD, $38.99 Blu-ray, $45.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for intense sequences of violence, some frightening images, and brief strong language.
Stars Jared Leto, Matt Smith, Adria Arjona, Jared Harris, Al Madrigal, Tyrese Gibson.

For its latest attempt at an expanded “Spider-Man” cinematic universe that doesn’t seem to have Spider-Man in it, Sony has once again turned to a character that seems more akin to a horror movie villain than the protagonist of a superhero movie. But just because Venom manages to attract an audience doesn’t mean the formula can be applied to just any of Spidey’s historical comic book baddies who became antiheroes after catching on with audiences. And so we are presented with the tale of Morbius the Living Vampire.

The thing about comic books is, that while sometimes a character becomes iconic, more often than not they are pretty goofy, rising to a level barely above cult status if not altogether forgotten. Back in the day, when publishers needed stories to tell about the popular ones, any number of bizarre concepts were introduced into the monthly books, just to see which ones might stick.

Morbius was introduced into “Spider-Man” comics back in the early 1970s as essentially a costumed villain version of Dracula for Spidey to fight.

Interspersing strange characters and fantastical adventures with more-serious fare could hardly be considered unusual for the comic book page. At one point, Marvel Comics actually made Dracula and Godzilla part of its canon when it had the rights to them. Heck, Spider-Man even crossed paths with The Transformers at one point.

The point being, it’s easy enough for a comic book to get away with these things. Translating them credibly into live-action is quite another feat.

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Morbius tells the story of Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto), a brilliant scientist with a crippling, unspecified blood disorder. He creates a serum for his affliction by splicing genetic material from bats into human DNA, temporarily curing his condition but giving him an insatiable thirst for human blood, without which his sickness returns. Morbius quells this thirst with a form of artificial blood he created.

In becoming a pseudo vampire, he gains the abilities of echo-location, superspeed and flight.

This basic premise could be the setup to any number of low-budget direct-to-video horror movies. But in those, the mad scientist would transform into the killer, only to be opposed by a love interest or fellow scientist, or maybe even a superhero, in some parable against technology run amok.

This being a Spider-Man movie without Spider-Man, and being called Morbius, the story has to find some way to make Morbius the hero. So, we get the benefactor of his research, a childhood pal named Milo (Matt Smith) with the same disease. He also cures himself with the serum, but gives into his bloodlust, killing innocents to maintain his power. This brings him into conflict with Morbius, who vows to stop him. And yet another comic book movie in which the bad guy is a mirror to the good guy.

There’s no message here, just an attempt to get more characters from the page to the screen in the hopes of future movies. Hence a pair of end-credits sequences that feel tacked on and, ultimately, pointless, given how poorly the film fared at the box office.

In addition, the attempt to ground Morbius’ powers in science rather than the supernatural just raises more questions that would just be answered by the nature of comic books themselves on the page, but are rather glaring in live-action outside the context of the source material. The serum granting bat-like powers is one thing, but why do the characters look like they are dissolving when they move fast? Last I checked, real bats couldn’t teleport. It does make for some funny gags about vampire lore, however.

Ultimately, Morbius is a creature of two genres, catering unsatisfactorily to both of them — too grim for comic book fare, and too beholden to the superhero formula for a vampire story.

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The Blu-ray includes a handful of extras, mostly behind-the-scenes featurettes totaling about 25 minutes. These are pretty typical for this kind of movie, mostly involving the filmmakers discussing the stunts and visual effects. There’s also a two-and-a-half-minute blooper reel, a two-and-a-half-minute look at comic book references in the film, and six minutes of promotional materials, including a three-minute recap of the press tour and a funny 36-second spoof of detergent ads.

‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ Still No. 1 on Redbox Disc and Digital Charts

Sony Pictures’ Spider-Man: No Way Home remained No. 1 on both Redbox’s disc rental chart and the Redbox On Demand chart the week ended April 24.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe entry has earned more than $804 million at the domestic box office.

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment’s animated sequel Sing 2 remained No. 2 on the disc rental chart, which tracks DVD and Blu-ray Disc rentals at Redbox’s more than 40,000 red kiosks, but slipped two spots to No. 4 on the Redbox On Demand chart, which tracks digital VOD and sellthrough transactions.

The No. 2 digital title was Paramount’s Infinite, a sci-fi film with Mark Wahlberg.

The top newcomer for the week, at No. 3 on both charts, was Paramount’s Jackass Forever, the latest film in the “Jackass” comedic stunts franchise. It made just under $58 million at the domestic box office.

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No. 4 on the disc chart and No. 5 on the digital chart was Universal’s Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson comedy Marry Me.

Paramount’s Scream relaunch dropped two spots to No. 5 on the disc rental chart, and No. 8 on the Redbox On Demand chart.

Warner’s The Batman became available for digital purchase and rental April 18 and grabbed No. 7 on the Redbox On Demand chart.

Top DVD and Blu-ray Disc Rentals, Redbox Kiosks, Week Ended April 24:

  1. Spider-Man: No Way Home — Sony Pictures/Marvel
  2. Sing 2 — Universal
  3. Jackass Forever — Paramount
  4. Marry Me — Universal
  5. Scream (2022) — Paramount
  6. Ghostbusters: Afterlife — Sony Pictures
  7. The Matrix Resurrections — Warner
  8. The Cursed — Decal
  9. Last Looks — RLJ
  10. Death on the Nile (2022) — 20th Century

 

Top Digital (VOD + Sellthrough), Redbox On Demand, Week Ended April 24:

  1. Spider-Man: No Way Home — Sony Pictures/Marvel
  2. Infinite — Paramount
  3. Jackass Forever — Paramount
  4. Sing 2 — Universal
  5. Marry Me — Universal
  6. Ghostbusters: Afterlife — Sony Pictures
  7. The Batman — Warner
  8. Scream (2022) — Paramount
  9. Dog — MGM
  10. Wrong Turn (2020) — Lionsgate

 

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April 12 Sees ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ Swing to Disc, ‘Infinite’ Arrive for Digital Purchase

Among the new home video releases April 12, Spider-Man: No Way Home arrives on disc, while Infinite becomes available for digital purchase.

The Marvel Studios film Spider-Man: No Way Home arrives on DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc April 12 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. As the film begins, the friendly neighborhood hero’s identity is revealed, bringing his superhero responsibilities into conflict with his normal life and putting those he cares about most at risk, including MJ (Zendaya). When he enlists Doctor Strange’s (Benedict Cumberbatch) help to restore his secret, the spell tears a hole in the world, releasing the most powerful villains who’ve ever fought a Spider-Man in any universe. Peter (Tom Holland) will have to overcome his greatest challenge yet, which will not only forever alter his own future but the future of the Multiverse. The film was the top-grossing film of 2021 with more than $800 million at the domestic box office and more than $1.8 billion worldwide. Read a review here.

A24’s drama C’mon C’mon, starring Joaquin Phoenix, arrives April 12 on DVD and Blu-ray from Lionsgate. In the film, Johnny (Phoenix) and his young nephew (Woody Norman) forge a tenuous but transformational relationship when they are unexpectedly thrown together in this story about the connections between adults and children and the past and the future. Written and directed by Academy Award nominee Mike Mills (2016, Writing — Original Screenplay, 20th Century Women), the movie also stars Primetime Emmy Award nominee Gabby Hoffmann (2015 and 2016, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, TV’s “Transparent”), Scoot McNairy (Argo, Monsters, TV’s “Narcos: Mexico”) and Jaboukie Young-White (TV’s “The Daily Show,” “Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens”). 

The horror thriller WarHunt arrives April 12 on Blu-ray (plus digital) and DVD from Lionsgate. Produced by Adel Nur (TV’s “Euphoria”), the movie stars Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler), Robert Knepper (Transporter 3, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2, TV’s “Prison Break”), Jackson Rathbone (“The Twilight Saga” franchise, The Last Airbender, TV’s “The Last Ship”) and Josh Burdett (Loving Vincent, Liars & Cheats, TV’s “Find Me in Paris”). The actioner follows a military commander (Rourke) who dispatches an elite team of American soldiers on a deadly rescue mission after a World War II plane crashes. Trapped behind enemy lines in Germany’s Black Forest, the men are confronted by a coven of witches.

The South Korean sci-fi action thriller Spiritwalker will debut exclusively on the martial arts streaming service Hi-Yah! on March 18 before hitting digital, Blu-ray and DVD April 12 from Well Go USA Entertainment. Director Yoon Jae-keun (Heartbeat)​ and award-winning martial arts choreographers Park Young-sik and Chung Seong-Ho (SAG Awards, Best Stunt Ensemble, “Squid Game”) bring to life the story of a man who loses his memory and subsequently wakes up in a new body every 12 hours. He must piece together his identity, all while evading attacks from pursuing agents and dangerous criminals. Winner of the Daniel A. Craft award for Excellence in Action Cinema at the 2021 New York Asian Film Festival, Spiritwalker stars former K-pop singer Yoon Kye-Sang (Chocolate, The Outlaws), Park Yong-Woo (Nailed), Lim Ji-Yeon (Obsessed, High Society) and Park Ji-Hwan (The Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure).

The HBO Max Original Kimi arrives on DVD and for digital sellthrough from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. Due April 12 is Kimi follows Angela Childs (Zoë Kravitz), who reviews data streams for the voice-activated companion server KIMI. Amid a pandemic, though restrictions have eased, she suffers from agoraphobia and follows a strict routine, flirting — among other things — with her neighbor, and communicating with her mother, dentist and therapist via video chat, within the safety of her apartment in Seattle. But that changes when she hears something horrific in one of the streams and reporting a serious crime over email is deemed too risky. Angela hasn’t ventured outside since before the pandemic, so just getting to the office is a huge challenge. Determined to do the right thing, Angela has no idea what will actually happen when — and if — she’s able to step out of her comfort zone. Special features on DVD include “KIMI … Who’s Listening!!?,” which delves into the thriller nature of the film.

The animated adventure My Sweet Monster will be released on digital, on demand and DVD April 12 from Lionsgate. The film features the voice talents of Pauly Shore (Bio-Dome, Encino Man), Haylie Duff (Blending Christmas, Napoleon Dynamite) and Jon Heder (Blades of Glory, Napoleon Dynamite). In the animated adventure, after rebellious Princess Barbara flees the kingdom on the day sheʼs set to marry Bundy, an evil postman, she meets Bogey, an odd, semi-human beast who is king of the wilderness. When Bundy then plots to rob the forestʼs supply of a magical, life-giving elixir called Spark, itʼs up to Bogey, Barbara and their bouncy friend Bunny to stop him.

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The sci-fi actioner Infinite arrives for digital purchase April 12 from Paramount Home Entertainment. Starring Mark Wahlberg and Chiwetel Ejiofor and directed by Antoine Fuqua, the film is based on the book The Reincarnationist Papers by D. Eric Maikranz. The film follows characters who must use memories and skills from past lives to protect the future of humanity in a race against time in the fight between good and evil. Wahlberg plays Evan McCauley, who is haunted by skills he has never learned and memories of places he has never visited. As he is self-medicated and on the brink of a mental breakdown, a secret group that call themselves “Infinites” comes to his rescue, revealing to him that his memories are real — but they are from multiple past lives. The Infinites bring Evan into their extraordinary world, where a gifted few are given the ability to be reborn with their memories and knowledge accumulated over centuries. With critical secrets buried in his past, Evan must work with the Infinites to unlock the answers in his memories in a race against time to save humanity from one of their own (Ejiofor) who seeks to destroy it. The film also stars Sophie Cookson, Jason Mantzoukas, Rupert Friend, Liz Carr, Toby Jones and Dylan O’Brien. It arrives on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD May 17.

Kino Lorber April 12 releases the vintage slasher film New Year’s Evil on Blu-ray Disc. The film, issued under the indie film distributor’s Studio Classics line, was released theatrically in 1980 by Cannon Films. The film stars Roz Kelly as Diane “Blaze” Sullivan, a Los Angeles punk rock and new wave show host who gets a barrage of phone calls during a televised New Year’s Eve celebration from a killer warning her that he plans to commit a string of murders just as the New Year dawns in each time zone. Kelly is best known as Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli’s (Henry Winkler) girlfriend Carol “Pinky” Tuscadero in the 1970s TV series “Happy Days.” New Year’s Evil was written and directed by Emmett Alston and co-written by Leonard Neubauer. Kip Niven and Chris Wallace co-star.  The film was initially released on Blu-ray Disc in 2015 by Shout! Factory. Kino Lorber’s new edition features a 2K master and a host of extras, including audio commentary by Alston and a making-of documentary.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is available on 4K Ultra HD April 12 from Arrow Video. Kenneth Branagh directs and stars alongside an all-star cast that includes Robert De Niro, Helena Bonham Carter and Ian Holm in this cinematic telling of the influential gothic tale. At the turn of the 19th century, scientist Victor Frankenstein (Branagh) is determined to conquer human morality. His attempt at playing God results in the creation of a hideous monster (De Niro). The film earned an Oscar nod for Best Makeup and seven nominations at the Saturn Awards. Arrow brings the film to 4K for the first time with a brand new restoration from the original camera negatives. The release includes a slate of new special features, including a documentary on the origins and evolution of the Frankenstein story. 

April 12 also marks Arrow’s release of Robocop in a limited edition 4K Ultra HD Steelbook. This sci-fi classic, about a terminally injured cop (Peter Weller) that returns to the line of duty as a cyborg advertised as the future of law enforcement, introduced Hollywood to the wild world of director Paul Verhoeven. The film is making its global debut in 4K, with a restoration approved by Verhoeven. Included in this limited edition release are both the theatrical and director’s cuts of the film.

The documentary The Choir and Conductor will be released for digital purchase and VOD April 12 from Virgil Films. Musician Billie Eilish, who has a brief appearance in the film as an alumna of the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, learned to sing starting at age 8 when she, like thousands of choristers, was electrified by its charismatic conductor Anne Tomlinson, who uses the power of choral singing to profoundly shape and impact the lives of hundreds of children.  In addition to Eilish, composers  such as John Williams, Gustavo Dudamel, John Mayer, Peter Sellars, and others have performed with the choir known as the LACC.  The film, which chronicles the story of the LACC, is a celebration of music and the arts. According to a report issued by Chorus America “more than 1 in 5 households have at least one singing family member, making choral singing the most popular form of participation in the performing arts for both adults and children.” 

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

Spider-Man: No Way Home

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street 4/12/22;
Sony Pictures/Marvel;
Action;
Box Office $803.82 million;
$30.99 DVD, $38.99, Blu-ray, $45.99 UH BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of action/violence, some language and brief suggestive comments.
Stars Tom Holland, Zendaya, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jacob Batalon, Jon Favreau, Jamie Foxx, Willem Dafoe, Alfred Molina, Benedict Wong, Tony Revolori, Marisa Tomei, Andrew Garfield, Tobey Maguire.

The story of Spider-Man: No Way Home hinges on a plot device that could have been one of the greatest surprises in cinematic history. Instead, it was one of the worst-kept secrets in Hollywood that previous Spider-Man actors Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield would reprise their roles alongside current Spider-Man Tom Holland to fight a variety of villains from all the “Spider-Man” movies since the first film in 2002.

It wasn’t as if Sony’s marketing department didn’t try to keep it quiet. Images of the multiple Spider-Men were omitted from trailers, and Garfield resorted to blatantly lying in interviews in which he said he wasn’t involved, despite all the widespread rumors to the contrary, and in some cases photographic evidence.

Of course, the momentary shock value for such a reveal can only add so much to the viewing experience, and the film’s immense box office fortunes don’t seem to have suffered in the least. And knowing of the eventual Spidey super team-up doesn’t detract at all from the emotional resonance that elevates Spider-Man: No Way Home into more than just a fantastic superhero action movie.

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The film is the 27th entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and picks up immediately following the events of 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home, as Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is publicly identified as being the masked webslinger.

As his life spirals out of control due to people knowing that he’s Spider-Man, Peter asks his Avengers cohort Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to reset everyone’s memories so they don’t remember his secret anymore. But the spell becomes unstable and breaks down the barriers between different realities, drawing in villains such as Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe), Dr. Octopus (Alfred Molina) and Sandman from the Sam Raimi-directed movies, and Electro (Jamie Foxx) and the Lizard from the “Amazing Spider-Man” films.

Rather than send them back to their universes only to die fighting their versions of Spider-Man, Peter endeavors to cure them first, a decision that backfires and results in profound tragedy.

However, the spell also brought Maguire’s and Garfield’s Spideys from those universes, giving Holland’s Spider-Man the allies he needs to stop the team of villains from doing more damage. It feels a lot like one of those “Doctor Who” anniversary specials in which previous versions of the Doctor joined the current one for a grand adventure.

The film works as a celebration of Spider-Man and his legacy in film, tying together the entire franchise in a way that not only continues the development of Holland’s Spider-Man, but also enriches the story arcs of Maguire’s and, especially, Garfield’s.

Spider-Man: No Way Home looks amazing, with several instantly iconic sequences, and seamless visual effects that really make it seem as if Molina and Dafoe were just plucked out of the earlier movies and placed into this one.

Another standout is the musical score by Michael Giacchino, who not only continues to develop the progression of his themes from the first two MCU Spidey movies, but gets to reuse his Dr. Strange themes as well. As if those weren’t enough, he also incorporates some of Danny Elfman’s themes from the Maguire films, and the late James Horner’s wonderful theme from The Amazing Spider-Man. It’s leitmotif on overdrive.

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The Blu-ray includes a solid hour-and-a-half of bonus materials, including seven behind-the-scenes featurettes. The six-minute “A Spectacular Spider-Journey With Tom Holland” tracks the journey of its star since he joined the MCU, while the seven-minute “Graduation Day” looks at the evolution of all the recurring characters. The five-minute “Enter Strange” examines the wizard’s role in the story, while the six-and-a-half-minute “Action Choreography Across the Multiverse” looks at the film’s stunt work. The eight-minute “Realities Collide, Spiders Unite” looks at how the film’s legendary team-up came to be, while the seven-minute “Weaving Jon Watt’s Web” focuses on the director’s experiences making the three MCU “Spider-Man” films.

The best extras are two panel discussions with the cast. The nine-minute “The Sinister Summit” features the villains of the film — Dafoe, Molina and Foxx. But the main event is the seven-and-a-half-minute “A Meeting of the Spiders” with Holland, Garfield and Maguire discussing their camaraderie.

A nearly five-minute featurette informs viewers of many of the references to previous Spider-Man films and comics that have been layered into the film.

Another fun inclusion are three in-universe story videos about Spider-Man from TheDailyBugle.net, running a total of about four minutes.

There are also two videos comparing the stunt previsualization with the final result, running three-and-a-half-minutes.

A section of promotional materials includes three short clips: Holland and co-star Jacob Batalon taking a lie detector about their experiences on the film, running two minutes; a minute clip of Holland’s press tour to Paris; and a minute of the filmmakers raving about the benefits of filming in the state of Georgia.

Rounding out the extras is a four-minute bloopers/gag reel.

In the 4K combo pack, all the bonus materials are on the Blu-ray disc. The 4K disc doesn’t include any extras.

Movies Anywhere Offering Exclusive ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ Clip to Movie Purchasers

Digital locker service Movies Anywhere is offering an exclusive, never-before-seen Spider-Man: No Way Home bonus clip to consumers who purchase the Sony Pictures film from any retailer connected to the service.

The eight-minute bonus clip, titled “Spider-Man and the Multiverse in Marvel Comics,” can be unlocked through the Movies Anywhere platform. The clip features behind-the-scenes interviews with the film’s producers, including Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige and co-producer Chris Buongiorno, who talk about how the movie harkens back to the original comics.  

The offer is good through April 11.

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After purchasing the film, consumers will find the bonus content in the “My Extras” section of “My Movies” within the Movies Anywhere platform.

 

Vudu Offering Exclusive Clip and Themed Gift Cards for ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’

Vudu is mounting an exclusive clip and offering gift cards for its top-selling pre-order title of all time, Sony Pictures’ Spider-Man: No Way Home, which arrives for digital purchase in SD, HDX and 4K UHD March 15.

The exclusive clip is titled “Getting the Spiders Together” and features never-before-seen on-set footage of Tom Holland, Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire with Willem Dafoe and Benedict Cumberbatch. The exclusive clip also includes commentary from Spider-Man: No Way Home director Jon Watts and producer Kevin Feige.

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The Spider-Man: No Way Home Vudu gift cards feature 14 new designs.

Consumers can purchase Spider-Man: No Way Home as a standalone title at $19.99, as part of the Tom Holland “Spider-Man” three-film collection at $34.99 or as part of the “Spider-Man” eight-film bundle at $59.99.

JustWatch: ‘Spider-Man,’ Christmas, Split Weekly Top-Streamed Movie Themes

It was a toss-up between catalog “Spider-Man” movies and Christmas-themed family titles, according to new weekly data through Dec. 19 from JustWatch. The content recommendation website tracks more than 20 million users’ monthly streaming decisions across 54 countries.

Last week’s top two movies, 2018’s The Grinch and 2003’s Elf, again led the most-streamed movies list — followed by three “Spider-Man” movies: Spider-Man (2002), Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014). The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) ranked ninth, underscoring the current consumer demand for the webslinger driven by the hot new theatrical release Spider-Man: No Way Home.

Among episodic programming, Paramount Network’s Montana-based drama “Yellowstone” again led all shows. Indeed, the series, which is in its fourth season, bested Netflix newcomer “Station Eleven,” followed by the streamer’s “The Witcher.”

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Looking Back at the Impact of 9/11 on Movies and TV

The devastating impacts of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, reached far and wide, beginning with the nearly 3,000 lives lost that day. The aftermath of the devastation would leave people, governments and businesses reeling to take stock of the priorities of a post 9/11 world.

In Hollywood, studios scrambled to assess productions that featured storylines and settings that could be seen as striking a raw nerve in the wake of the attacks.

With the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers collapsing after being struck by two of the four hijacked planes, a number of films planning to feature the buildings were re-edited.

Among them was Ben Stiller’s Zoolander, slated for theatrical release Sept. 28, 2001, just two-and-a-half weeks after the attacks. Stiller, who directed and starred in the film, made the decision to digitally remove the Towers from any shots of the city in the background.

Shots of the Towers were similarly removed from movies such as Don’t Say a Word and Serendipity, both of which were released within weeks of the attacks, as well as 2002 films Mr. Deeds, Stuart Little 2, Kissing Jessica Stein, People I Know and Igby Goes Down.

The shots of the Towers were eventually restored to Zoolander for its 2016 Blu-ray Disc release, while the People I Know DVD included that movie’s original Towers shots as deleted scenes.

It’s certainly not unusual for a horrific real-life event to lead to an alteration of creative content, beyond the typical preemptions or delays of episode airings.

In 1981, the TV series “The Greatest American Hero” had debuted March 18 with a main character named Ralph Hinkley. After President Ronald Reagan and members of his staff were shot March 30 by John Hinkley Jr., the character’s last name was changed to Hanley for the rest of the first season.

But the attacks of 9/11 took such changes to the next level.

The ending of Men in Black II, filmed in 2001 for release in summer 2002, was originally supposed to feature the World Trade Center, but was reshot with the Statue of Liberty instead.

Sony Pictures in July 2001 had released the teaser trailer for 2002’s Spider-Man, which featured the title superhero capturing a group of bank robbers by trapping them in a giant web spun between the Twin Towers. The film’s planned promotional campaign heavily featured the Towers as a symbol of New York City, Spider-Man’s hometown, including a poster with the buildings reflected in the Webslinger’s eyes. Sony recalled the posters and discontinued the teaser.

“When the movie trailer for Spider-Man was released and sent to us, we received a phone call from the studio that all of the product was being recalled and had to be returned ASAP, with a modified trailer being cut, to remove the World Trade Center images from it,” said Frank Rampino, VP of Flash Distributors. “It seems like just yesterday and realizing that 20 years have actually passed by is both incredible and humbling.”

For the final film, shots of the Towers were removed (though they can still be spotted in the distance in a few shots), while adding scenes of Spider-Man with the American flag, and New Yorkers fighting back against the Green Goblin with the line, “you mess with one of us, you mess with all of us.”

Disney’s Lilo & Stitch, released in 2002, altered a climactic sequence that involved Stitch flying a hijacked 747 through a city to save Lilo. It was changed in the final film to a spaceship flying through mountains, though the original animation was eventually released in 2009 as a bonus feature on the two-DVD Lilo & Stitch: Big Wave Edition.

A scene in the 2002 sci-fi remake The Time Machine was changed so that a scene set in the future of debris from the moon crashing into New York wouldn’t resemble the attacks.

The first episode of “24,” which aired about two months after 9/11, was quickly re-edited to remove a shot of an exploding passenger plane.

The attacks even impacted screenings of older movies. The 20th anniversary re-release of Steven Spielberg’s E.T. — The Extra-Terrestrial (the version that famously replaced guns with walkie-talkies) in 2002 changed a line of dialogue about a Halloween costume from “You’re not going as a terrorist” to “You’re not going as a hippie.” The release of E.T. on Blu-ray for its 30th anniversary in 2012, and on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray for its 35th in 2017, restored the original theatrical cut.

References to terrorists were also removed from TV airings of 1985’s Back to the Future.

And the 1998 film The Siege, about the U.S. government putting Muslims in concentration camps following a terror attack, also had the Towers removed from shots of New York in some versions.

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Revisiting the Twin Towers

Once the immediacy of the tragedy of 9/11 subsided a bit, one of the constant reminders of the lives lost that day became the way the attacks forever altered the iconic New York skyline — especially before the empty void where the Twin Towers once stood was replaced with the Freedom Tower.

A staple of films since the early days of the industry, the New York skyline was redefined by the construction of the Twin Towers, which were completed in 1973. In the ensuing years, the Towers would appear in nearly 500 movies.

One of the first to feature them prominently was the 1976 King Kong remake, where they served as the setting for the climactic showdown, just as the Empire State Building had been in the original 1933 Kong. In the remake, the giant Kong famously jumps from one tower to the other as he is attacked by military helicopters. As noted by film historian Ray Morton on his commentary for Shout! Factory’s recent Blu-ray of the 1976 film, some of the upper levels of the tower were still being finished and painted, which can be seen as Jeff Bridges watches the attack on Kong from the top of one of the towers.

Paramount’s DVD of the film, released in 1999, used the original poster as cover art, featuring Kong standing atop the Twin Towers while being attacked by the military. When the DVD was reissued in 2005, the box art was changed to Kong holding Jessica Lange. Shout! Factory’s Blu-ray offers the original Twin Towers art as one of the options on its reversible slipcover.

Paramount’s DVD box art for the 1976 ‘King Kong’ remake — the 1999 release (at left) using the World Trade Center poster art, and the 2005 reissue without it.

John Carpenter’s 1981 sci-fi dystopia Escape From New York depicted a future (stated as 1997) in which Manhattan had been turned into a walled-off prison. The World Trade Center towers are used as an entry point for Kurt Russell’s Snake Plissken to infiltrate the island using a glider.

In 1998’s Armageddon, the Towers were among several New York City landmarks struck by a meteor shower in the opening of the film. The sequence ends with a prominent shot of the World Trade Center with significant damage and smoke flowing from one of the towers — an image similar enough to what happened on 9/11 that many TV airings of the film edited out the scene.

A shot of the Twin Towers damaged by a meteor shower in 1998’s ‘Armageddon.’

The other “asteroid hitting Earth” film of 1998, Deep Impact, showed the Towers surviving a tidal wave that destroys New York City because they are so tall. Some TV broadcasts removed shots of them following 9/11.

Nearly 20 years earlier, the 1979 film Meteor depicted the Towers exploding after being hit by a fireball from space.

One of the final movies to significantly feature the Twin Towers prior to the attacks was Steven Spielberg’s A.I. — Artificial Intelligence, released in June 2001. Set in the 22nd century, the film features a robot whose attempts to become a real boy take him to a flooded New York City, where the Towers are shown surrounded by water. The film soon jumps ahead thousands of years to depict the tops of the Towers as monuments to humanity among a frozen landscape — an eerie image rendered impossible by the events of 9/11 just a few months after the film’s release. Still, the film was released unaltered on DVD in March 2002.

The Twin Towers amid a frozen landscape in a hypothetical future depicted in the 2001 sci-fi film ‘A.I. — Artificial Intelligence,’ released just a few months before 9/11.

In the 20 years since the 9/11 attacks, films and TV shows have made an effort to re-create the Towers when appropriate.

One notable example again involves Spielberg, whose 2005 film Munich, about Israeli operatives seeking revenge for the 1972 slaying of the country’s Olympic athletes by Palestinian terrorists, ends with a shot of the Towers in 1977, which some have interpreted as the film connecting protracted violence in the Middle East to 9/11 as a warning against military policies that can lead to unintended blowback.

Other movies that used visual effects to digitally insert the Towers into the New York skyline for historical accuracy include the 2003 HBO miniseries Angels in America, which is set in 1985; the 2004 hockey movie Miracle, set in 1979 and 1980; the 2005 musical adaptation Rent, set in 1989 and 1990; 2014’s A Most Violent Year, set in 1981; and 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse, set in 1983(its predecessor, 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, showed the Towers in bonus scenes set in 1973 on the Blu-ray “Rogue Cut” version).

Using visual effects to depict the Twin Towers became vital to director Robert Zemeckis’ 2015 film The Walk, a docudrama that depicts French high-wire artist Philippe Petit’s famous stunt in August 1974 of surreptitiously setting up a cable between the top floors of the towers and walking back and forth between them eight times in 45 minutes a quarter-mile above the ground.

Of course, re-creating the Towers also became central to films that actually depicted the events of 9/11, such as the 2006 films United 93 from director Paul Greengrass, and World Trade Center from director Oliver Stone. The 2010 film Remember Me, while not about 9/11 per se, uses the attacks on the Towers as a plot twist for a character drama (which many critics considered distasteful).

Depicting the Towers also became a way for creators to demonstrate a drastic alteration of reality in fiction. The 2009 film Watchmen, set in an alternate reality version of 1985, depicts the Towers in several scenes as one of the few buildings still standing after an attack levels most of New York.

Also in 2009, the Fox TV series “Fringe” used a shot of the intact Twin Towers to reveal the characters were in a parallel universe in which they weren’t attacked.

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Landmark Mentality

Prior to 9/11, Hollywood didn’t balk at the chance to depict the destruction of famous landmarks as a selling point for big visual effects-laden blockbusters. After Independence Day became the biggest movie of 1996 by famously showing the destruction of such iconic buildings as the White House and Empire State Building, among others, many blockbuster films quickly followed suit, including the aforementioned Deep Impact and Armageddon.

Such depictions of destruction fell out of vogue for a while following 9/11. Then in 2009 the film G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra featured an action scene in which terrorists in Paris destroy the Eiffel Tower, indicating Hollywood was more or less back to business as usual.

‘Spider-Man,’ ‘Only Murders’ Top JustWatch Most-Streamed Movies, TV Shows Through Sept. 5

The pending theatrical release of Sony Pictures’ Spider-Man: No Way Home  continues to resonate among streamers. New data from JustWatch found consumers streamed four previous Spider-Man movies, including 2002 release, Spider-Man, starring Toby Maguire as the webslinger, the most through the week ended Sept. 5.

Spider-Man: Far From Home, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 finished No. 4, No. 7 and No. 10, respectively, for the week.

The Green Knight and the 1992 original Candyman rounded out the podium.

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Among TV shows, Hulu’s “Only Murders in the Building,” starring Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez,  and”What We Do in the Shadows” ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. Netflix’s “Cowboy Bebop” rounded out the podium.

 

Data: Cowboys and ‘Spider-Man’ Dominate Weekly Streamed Movies, TV Shows

Social media buzz surrounding the next “Spider-Man” movie contributed to the franchise generating myriad views across connected televisions. New data from JustWatch found that Spider-Man, Spider-Man: Far From Home, Spider-Man: Homec0ming, Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse dominated the Top 10 household movie streams through Aug. 29 in the United States.

JustWatch, an international streaming guide, tracks SVOD streaming habits of 20 million monthly users across 47 countries, including the United States.

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Last week, the trailer for pending Sony Pictures webslinger movie Spider-Man: No Way Home “mysteriously” found its way onto social media platforms, generating millions of views and buzz. The attention apparently generated a crush of catalog title streaming.

Among the most-streamed TV shows in the United States was “Cowboy Bepop,” about a ragtag crew of bounty hunters chasing down the galaxy’s most dangerous criminals. It ranked No. 1 among serialized shows, streaming on Amazon Prime Video and Hulu. The 2021 series bested AMC+ flagbearer “The Walking Dead” and Apple TV+ breakout hit “Ted Lasso.”