Marvel Animation Producing ‘Spidey and His Amazing Friends’ Preschool Series

Marvel Animation & Family Entertainment announced during an Aug. 23 panel at Disney’s D23 Expo in Anaheim, Calif., that it was producing a new original animated series for Disney Junior, “Marvel’s Spidey and His Amazing Friends.”

Geared toward preschoolers and their families, the series is set to debut in 2021 and will be the first full-length Marvel series for the Disney Junior audience.

Used to working solo, Peter Parker must discover what it takes to become a spider friend who works well with others when he teams with Miles Morales and Gwen, also known as Ghost-Spider.  They will join forces with heroes such as Hulk, Black Panther and Ms. Marvel to defeat evil foes and learn that teamwork is the best way to save the day.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“Preschool kids already love Spidey, so they’ll be delighted to have Peter Parker thwipping across their screens in this new series” said Cort Lane, SVP of Marvel Animation & Family Entertainment. “Everyone at Marvel is thrilled to launch our first preschool series on Disney Junior, the gold standard platform for the audience. We believe parents and kids will be excited about these stories filled with themes of friendship, cooperation, solving problems and using your abilities to help others.”

The announcement of the new Spidey series comes as Disney and Sony Pictures have reportedly reached an impasse regarding Marvel Studios producing future movies featuring the “Spider-Man” characters for Sony, which controls the film rights.

Cinemark Partners with Sony Pictures for $5 Summer Movie Series

Cinemark May 22 has partnered with Sony Pictures for the exhibitor’s annual $5 “summer movie clubhouse” film series.

The $5 series card enables users to 10 Sony catalog family movies and is available exclusively at participating Cinemark theatres. Consumers can also purchase individual $1 tickets at participating box offices the morning of the show.

Cinemark operates 547 theatres with 6,051 screens in the U.S., Brazil, Argentina and 13 other Latin American countries.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“We take great pride in giving our communities the perfect entertainment destination for an affordable price all summer long,” James Meredith, SVP, marketing and communications, at Cinemark.

Sony is using the promotion to plug upcoming Spider-Man: Far From Home, opening July 2 and “The Angry Birds Movie 2,” opening Aug. 16.

For participating theatres, movie selections and to print $2-off concession coupons, click here.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street Date 3/19/19;
Sony Pictures;
Animated;
Box Office $189.87 million;
$30.99 DVD, $38.99 Blu-ray, $45.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG’ for frenetic sequences of animated action violence, thematic elements, and mild language.
Voices of Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Lily Tomlin, Luna Lauren Velez, Zoë Kravitz, John Mulaney, Kimiko Glenn, Nicolas Cage, Kathryn Hahn, Liev Schreiber, Chris Pine.

One of the Holy Grails of adapting a comic book to film is the idea of evoking the feeling of reading a comic while watching the story play out. Filmmakers have tried different techniques over the years to achieve this, such as brighter colors or hyper-stylized action, to varying effect, with the best results often focusing on just telling the story in a way that brings the spirit of the work into a different medium.

Animation would seem to be closer to the artistic foundations of comic books, but often present challenges of their own.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is probably the closest a movie has come to finding that sweet spot between telling a comic book story while immersing the viewer in the fantastic art that is often unique to the panel-to-panel format.

Its innovative animation style, layering hand-drawn animation over CGI, combined with a thrilling story of self-discovery are just a few of the reasons Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature at the 91st Academy Awards.

The film is a deft blending of self-parody with an ambitious attempt by Sony Pictures to explore new aspects of the Spider-Man concept while the live-action version of the character is on loan to Marvel Studios.

In particular, the film is an adaptation of the Miles Morales version of the character, a mixed-race teenager who gains the powers of Spider-Man in an alternate reality in which Peter Parker is killed.

In the film, Miles (voiced by Shameik Moore), stumbles upon a plot by the villainous gangster Kingpin (Live Schreiber) to open a portal into alternate dimensions in search of replacement versions of his recently deceased wife and son. The plan goes awry when versions of Spider-Man from a variety of realities began to appear, and they team up to help Miles learn how to control his new powers and figure out how to return home before Kingpin’s machine damages the multiverse.

The alternate versions of Spider-Man really let the creative team shine with the parody aspects of the film by introducing characters in a variety of styles. There’s a late-30s Spider-Man (Jake Johnson) who has become depressed after years of being a hero has left his personal life in shambles; there’s Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld), a teenage girl version of Spidey; there’s Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage), a black-and-white private detective from the 1930s; there’s an anime version involving a little girl and her pet robot from the future; and there’s Spider-Ham (John Mulaney), essentially Porky Pig in a Spider-Man costume.

The combination of the various versions offers not only some of the best laughs ever to be had with a superhero movie, but make for a terrific tribute to what has made Spider-Man such an iconic character over the years. There’s also a post-credits sequence that really takes it up a notch in that regard.

It’s enough to thrill longtime fans of the character, particularly the Miles Morales version, while providing enough nods to the aspects of the mythology that most average viewers would already be familiar with so as not to need to be an avid comics reader to follow along.

Subscribe HERE to our FREE daily newsletter!

The Blu-ray is loaded with a ton of bonus material, including the new animated short “Spider-Ham: Caught in a Ham,” which serves as a prequel to the film in showing us a Spider-Ham adventure that was interrupted when he gets pulled into Miles’ reality.

In addition, there’s an “Alternate Universe Mode” for the movie in which some scenes are replaced with storyboards of earlier concepts, as a way for the filmmakers to ponder how the film could have turned out. It runs about 26 minutes longer than the theatrical cut (which comes in at 117 minutes) and even starts with the Spider-Ham short.

The regular version of the film includes a commentary with the filmmakers, which is a nice guide to how the various creative decisions evolved to get to the final movie, including casting decisions and the re-imagining of certain well-known characters.

Many of the topics are covered in specific featurettes as well.

The eight-minute “We Are Spider-Man” examines the key messages of the film, while the five-minute “Spider-Verse: A New Dimension” deals with the animation style and techniques for adapting the comics.

The 15-minute “The Ultimate Comics Cast” showcases the actors involved in the film and what makes them such a good fit for their characters. The two-part “Designing Cinematic Comics Characters” offers an eight-minute look at the design of the heroes, and five-minutes devoted to the creation of the villains.

“The Spider-Verse Super-Fan Easter Egg Challenge” is a five-minute video that points out some of the references hidden throughout the film, while inviting viewers to look for more.

There’s also the eight-and-a-half-minute “A Tribute to Stan Lee & Steve Ditko,” the co-creators of Spider-Man who both passed away in 2018. Stan Lee recorded one of his famous cameos for the film.

Finally, the disc includes music lyric videos for two songs, “Sunflower” and “Familia.”

There are also some digital-exclusive bonus featurettes. The three-minute “Another, Another Times Square” provides a primer on the concept of alternate realities, the minute-and-a-half “Meanwhile, in a Gassy Universe” is a juvenile montage of various clips from the film with dialogue replaced by fart sounds (no doubt the work of Spider-Ham).

Vudu has a minute-long “An All-Star Cast” promotional video, while Movies Anywhere provides videos for how to draw Miles and Gwen, about three minutes for each character.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

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.

Subscribe HERE for FREE Daily Newsletter!

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).

Venom

Tom Hardy brings the fan-favorite antihero Venom to life in this entertaining throwback to the wild sensibilities of the comic book movies of the late 1990s and early 2000s. The Blu-ray is loaded with bonus materials that should satisfy fans of both the character’s history and his film adaptation.

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Sony Pictures;
Action;
Box Office $213.03 million;
$30.99 DVD, $38.99 Blu-ray, $45.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for language.
Stars Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Jenny Slate, Reid Scott, Melora Walters, Woody Harrelson.

The character of Venom’s journey to the big screen shares a lot of parallels with Deadpool, in that both were introduced as a villain in another character’s poorly received movie before getting a second chance after years of development hell to get a movie of their own.

Venom was originally introduced in the 1980s as an alien entity that served as an antagonist for Spider-Man before his increasing popularity led writers to shift him into the role of an anti-hero (often dubbed the “lethal protector”). He’s essentially a living black goo known as a symbiote, which merges with a human host to create a hulking beast with super abilities and a voracious appetite.

The character’s big-screen debut came in 2007 via a much-maligned appearance in the awful Spider-Man 3, when he was shoehorned into the story allegedly at the behest of studio executives looking to make a spinoff. (Likewise, Deadpool first appeared in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, in which all of his fan-favorite traits were removed — a blunder subsequently lampooned in the mega-successful “Deadpool” solo movies that were only made after the popularity of leaked test footage pressured a reluctant Fox into greenlighting the project.)

When the “Spider-Man” franchise was rebooted with The Amazing Spider-Man in 2012, plans emerged for Venom to be included in a Sony Spider-Man cinematic universe, only for the poor reception of 2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 to put a hold on that as well.

Then Sony made a deal with Marvel Studios to include Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and when that proved successful Sony felt confident in moving forward with Spider-Man-related side projects, including Venom and the animated Into the Spider-Verse.

But, with the live-action Spider-Man on loan to Marvel’s creative team, Sony had to develop Venom without using Spider-Man in his origin story, as the two characters are intricately connected in the comic books. Originally, the symbiote bonded with Peter Parker before moving on to a better-suited host, Peter’s journalistic rival Eddie Brock, to finally become Venom. This paved the way for the expansion of the symbiote concept and the introduction of characters such as Carnage and Riot who could serve as villains for Venom.

So, in the Venom movie, the symbiotes are discovered on a comet and brought to Earth by a space mission funded by megalomaniacal rich guy Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed). But the ship crashes and some of the symbiotes get loose before Drake’s cronies can round up the rest for experimentation.

Drake realizes they need human hosts to survive on Earth, so he kidnaps homeless people to test out his theories. This arouses the suspicions of Web reporter Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy), whose attempts to investigate Drake’s lab cause him to come into contact with the Venom symbiote, which takes over his body.

The symbiote is able to communicate telepathically with its host, and we learn that symbiotes need to have a good match with their hosts for the pairing to work, and apparently Eddie is well matched for Venom.

Of course, with Venom/Eddie on the loose, Drake sends out a private army to kill him, leading to several action sequences around the streets of San Francisco. Drake wants to send another rocket to the comet to bring back more symbiotes, a plan that Eddie/Venom vows to stop, even if it means fighting other symbiotes who support Drake’s mission. (This being a comic book movie, a finale featuring the main character battling the evil version of himself is almost a foregone conclusion.)

The best aspect of the movie is the interaction Hardy has with, well, himself — the interplay between Brock and the Venom voice in his head that wants him to find food and that he has to convince to stop eating people.

Part action, part horror, part buddy comedy, the film shifts tone at will in its efforts to stay faithful to the character while maintaining the commercial appeal of a ‘PG-13’ movie. It feels a lot like a throwback to a 1990s or early 2000s comic book movie that would try anything to entertain its audience. The visual effects are appropriately over the top, awash in CGI flair as gooey symbiotes launch tendrils and ooze across the room in attacking whomever is nearby.

The Blu-ray comes with a “Venom Mode” that offers pop-up trivia about the character and production while the movie plays. The information is low-key and unobtrusive, but often relates facts that might not be as interesting as answering questions that might pop into a viewer’s head during a given scene.

Three deleted scenes offer some more insights about the Venom character — one features Eddie talking to himself in a cab, another shows Venom’s hilarious response to an annoying car alarm, and the third is an extended version of a post-credits scene that teases a potential villain for the sequel.

Also included are about an hour of behind-the-scenes featurettes, highlighted by the 20-minute “From Symbiote to Screen,” a good primer on the history of the Venom character. The three-minute “Symbiote Secrets” unveils some of the hidden references in the film.

In addition, there’s a gallery of visual-effects progressions from storyboard to finished film.

The disc also offers a bonus scene from the recently released Spider-Man: Into the Universe, both tacked on to the end of the movie and included separately. This is in addition to the Spider-Verse trailer that plays when the disc loads.

Finally, the disc includes two music videos: one for Eminem’s Venom title track, and another for an Into the Spider-Verse song, “Sunflower” by Post Malone and Swae Lee.

Venom

New ‘Spider-Man’ Video Game Sets Three-Day Sales Record

The new Spider-Man video game for the Sony PlayStation 4 is an even bigger hit than the latest Spider-Man movie.

The game, Sony Interactive Entertainment said Sept. 20, sold 3.3 million copies in the first three days since its Sept. 7 release, making it the fastest-selling first-party game the company has ever had.

At a retail price of $59.99, that equates into nearly $200 million in consumer spending.

The latest “Spider-Man” movie, Spider-Man: Homecoming, made $117 million its opening weekend.

Sony said 1 million copies of the game were pre-ordered.

Spider-Man, developed by Insomniac Games and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment, broke the previous three-day sales record set in May by the latest installment in the “God of War” franchise, which sold 3.1 million copies.

The new Spider-Man game, heavily promoted over the summer at Comic-Con International, is the first since 2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

Sony says that beginning in October, it will be releasing three downloadable stories as part of bundle called “The City That Never Sleeps.” each update will add new stories, characters and Spider-Man suits to the game. The first, “The Heist,” will be available Oct. 23.

The bundle costs $24.99; individual updates are $9.99 each.