Merchandising: Best Buy Has ‘War of the Worlds’ Steelbook

The big retailers didn’t have much in the way of exclusives with the new releases of March 2.

Best Buy, though, did have another of its catalog Steelbook editions hit the shelves. This time, it’s a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack of Paramount’s 2005 sci-fi actioner War of the Worlds, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Cruise.

The set includes a 4K disc, regular Blu-ray and digital copy for $19.99.

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‘Super 8’ Coming to 4K Ultra HD May 25

Super 8, from writer/director J.J. Abrams and producer Steven Spielberg, will debut on 4K Ultra HD May 25 from Paramount Home Entertainment.

Originally released on June 10, 2011, the film celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. Newly remastered for the 4K Ultra HD release, Super 8 stars Joel Courtney (The Kissing Booth), Kyle Chandler (“Friday Night Lights”) and Elle Fanning (“The Great”). It tells the story of six friends who witness a train wreck while making a Super 8 movie, only to discover that something unimaginable escaped during the crash. They soon discover that the only thing more mysterious than what it is, is what it wants.

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The 4K Ultra HD release includes access to a digital copy of the film and more than two hours of previously released bonus content, commentary by Abrams, Bryan Burk and Larry Fong; “The Dream Behind Super 8”(HD); “The Search for New Faces” (HD); “Meet Joel Courtney (HD); “Rediscovering Steel Town (HD); “The Visitor Lives (HD); “Scoring Super 8 (HD); “Do You Believe in Magic?” (HD); “The 8mm Revolution (HD); Easter eggs (HD); “Deconstructing the Train Crash” (HD); and deleted scenes (HD).

Amblin Partners Inks New Film Distribution, Streaming Deal With Universal

Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners production company has signed a new multiyear film distribution partnership with Universal Filmed Entertainment Group. The new deal calls for Amblin movies to be marketed and distributed theatrically via Universal Pictures and Focus Features each year, while also providing Amblin with new opportunities in the streaming film marketplace via Peacock.

Amblin’s continuing partnership with Universal builds on a long history between the two companies, dating back to Spielberg’s arrival on the Universal lot as an intern in 1968. The new agreement further evolves the entities’ 2015 agreement that resulted in a number of hits, most recently Oscar Best Picture Winner Green Book, and 1917, which won three Oscars, two Golden Globes and grossed more than $385 million at the worldwide box office.

NBCUniversal has also agreed to re-invest in Amblin, continuing its position as an equity holder and providing fresh capital to fund new production and development efforts across the company’s film and television businesses.

Alibaba Pictures, eOne and Reliance Entertainment will all continue as equity holders, with Alibaba releasing Amblin films in China; eOne releasing in the U.K., Spain, Australia, New Zealand and Benelux; and Reliance releasing in India.

Participant, which as a founding partner played a key role in the formation of Amblin Partners in 2015, is ending its role as an equity holder of the company. This transition will allow Participant flexibility with respect to distribution of its films, while still keeping open opportunities to work together with Amblin on future projects.

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“My decades-long relationship with Universal truly transcends any single business deal, and to once again renew our corporate vows reaffirms that Universal is Amblin’s home,” Spielberg said in a statement. “In addition to Universal, we are blessed to continue forward with a global family of partners, including Alibaba, eOne and Reliance, each of which has supported us for many years and enabled our storytelling to touch the lives of millions of moviegoers around the world.”

“Steven Spielberg and Amblin Partners have delivered award-winning critical and commercial hits that stand the test of time amongst films in the Universal canon,” added Donna Langley, chairman of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group.

‘Irresistible,’ ‘Rogue’ Top Slate of New Disc Releases, While ‘Beetlejuice,’ ‘Goonies’ Bow on 4K Ultra HD

The political satire Irresistible, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, and Lionsgate’s action thriller Rogue, with Megan Fox as a battle-hardened mercenary, top the slate of new disc releases available Sept. 1.

Written and directed by Jon Stewart, Irresistible features a cast headed by Steve Carell, Rose Byrne, Chris Cooper, Mackenzie Davis and Topher Grace. Carell portrays a campaign strategist who runs a Democratic mayoral candidate (Cooper) in a small right-wing town.

The film, from Focus Features, was rerouted from a May 2020 theatrical release by the coronavirus pandemic and instead debuted in June on premium VOD. It became available through regular digital channels on Aug. 18.

Read John Latchem’s review of the Irresistible Blu-ray Disc here

Rogue finds Samantha O’Hara (Fox) leading a team of soldiers-for-hire on a daring mission to rescue hostages from their captors in rural Africa.  They wind up stranded and have to battle not only brutal rebels but also a horde of enraged lions.

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Also out Sept. 1 are 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray editions of the Tim Burton ghost movie Beetlejuice and the 1980s cult favorite adventure The Goonies, both from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Beetlejuice (1988) stars Michael Keaton as a ghost who helps a recently deceased couple played by Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis haunt their former home. The Goonies (1985),  based on a story by executive producer Steven Spielberg, follows a band of kids from the blue-collar “Goon Docks” neighborhood who set out to save their homes from foreclosure by following an old treasure map.

On the TV front, consumers as of Sept. 1 can buy, on disc, the complete third season of “Young Sheldon” (from Warner Bros.), the second season of “Magnum P.I.” (from Paramount/CBS), and the first season of “Blood & Treasure” (also from Paramount/CBS).

New digital releases include Guest House, from Lionsgate, and Breaking the Chain, from Virgil Films, the company headed by industry veteran Joe Amodei. Guest House is a comedy about an engaged couple whose new dream home comes with a slight drawback: a party animal who lives in the guest house. Breaking the Chain is an animal-rescue documentary that follows fieldworkers with PETA’s Community Animal Project as they visit impoverished areas of Virginia and North Carolina to give care to mistreated animals.

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

James Cameron’s Story of Science-Fiction

DVD REVIEW: 

Street Date 7/28/20;
RLJ;
Documentary;
$34.97 DVD or Blu-ray;
Not Rated.
Featuring James Cameron, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan, Ridley Scott.

This six-episode documentary series hosted by filmmaker James Cameron should prove a fascinating viewing experience for any fan of the title genre, primarily due to the high-caliber talent on display sharing their insights on the topic.

The series is structured with each episode taking on a different topic within the genre: “Alien Life,” “Space Exploration,” “Monsters,” “Dark Futures,” “Intelligent Machines” and “Time Travel.” They run a shade over 40 minutes each on disc, long enough to fill an hour-long time slot when commercials are added in (the series originally aired on AMC in 2018).

Much of the series follows a typical documentary format tracing the history of the episode’s topic, with analysis from various talking heads in the form of critics, authors, actors and filmmakers. Particular emphasis is placed on the various social, political and philosophical underpinnings of various sci-fi stories throughout history. One primary thesis that arises is the notion that science-fiction isn’t about predicting the future, it’s about choosing our future — an observation that demonstrates why there’s still considerable value to older sci-fi tales that might otherwise seem outdated.

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But the heart of the program involves Cameron sitting for a series of one-on-one interviews with other high-profile directors as they discuss each others work (with no shortage of praise for one another, as could be expected). The stories the directors tell range from the oft-repeated tales that every fan knows, to interesting insights into what guided certain filmmaking decisions, such as how Steven Spielberg adapted much of his childhood into Close Encounters and E.T.

The discussion with George Lucas raises some eyebrows during the A.I. episode, when Cameron says so many movies depict the machines as bad guys, leading to Lucas stating that’s why he decided to depict robots as the good guys in “Star Wars” — the pair apparently sidestepping the fact that Lucas made three “Star Wars” films in which the good guys fought entire armies of evil robots.

Still, the conversations are fun to watch and the various TV and movie clips offer enough nostalgia that any viewer should find something to like.

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The bonus section includes extended interviews with Spielberg, Lucas, Ridley Scott, Christopher Nolan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Will Smith and Sigourney Weaver. These run about three to four minutes each.

‘James Cameron’s Story of Science-Fiction’ Coming to Disc July 28 From RLJE

The sci-fi documentary series “James Cameron’s Story of Science-Fiction” will come out on DVD and Blu-ray July 28 from AMC Networks’ RLJE Films.

The series originally aired on AMC Networks in 2018 as part of the AMC Visionaries series.

The show, an intimate look at science fiction’s roots, its futuristic vision and our fascination with its ideas, is hosted by Academy Award winner James Cameron (Avatar, Titanic). It features interviews with ‘A’-list storytellers, stars and others whose careers have defined the field of science fiction movies and television. Interviewees include Steven Spielberg (Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial), George Lucas (“Star Wars” franchise), Ridley Scott (The Martian, Blade Runner), Christopher Nolan (Tenet, Interstellar), Will Smith (Men in Black, I Am Legend), Arnold Schwarzenegger (Predator, Terminator) and Bruce Willis (Die Hard, The Sixth Sense).

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Bonus features include extended interviews with Spielberg, Lucas, Scott, Nolan, Guillermo Del Toro and Schwarzenegger.

‘Jaws’ Swimming to 4K Ultra HD June 2 for 45th Anniversary

Director Steven Spielberg’s 1975 blockbuster Jaws will come out in a 45th anniversary limited edition on 4K Ultra HD for the first time ever June 2 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The thriller, winner of three Academy Awards, including Best Original Score (John Williams), will come out in a combo pack with lenticular packaging and will include a 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and digital code of the film along with more than three hours of bonus features and a 44-page booklet with introductions, rare photos, storyboards and more from the archives.

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In Jaws, when the seaside community of Amity finds itself under attack by a dangerous great white shark, the town’s chief of police (Roy Scheider), a young marine biologist (Richard Dreyfuss) and a grizzled shark hunter (Robert Shaw) embark on a desperate quest to destroy the beast before it strikes again.

Bonus features on 4K and Blu-ray include:

  • The Making of Jaws
  • The Shark Is Still Working: The Impact & Legacy of Jaws
  • Jaws: The Restoration
  • Deleted Scenes and Outtakes
  • From the Set
  • Theatrical Trailer

 

Additional bonus features on Blu-ray include:

  • Storyboards
  • Production Photos
  • Marketing Jaws
  • Jaws Phenomenon

AppleTV+ Unveils Slate of Renewed and Original Content

Apple TV+ announced a slew of new and renewed content during the Television Critics Association event.

Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth

Meryl Streep will narrate the Apple original animated Earth Day short film Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth, premiering April 17 exclusively on Apple TV+. Joining Streep are Chris O’Dowd (“Girls,” “State of the Union”), Jacob Tremblay (Room, Wonder) and Ruth Negga (Loving, Ad Astra). In celebration of Earth Day, the animated film follows a precocious 7-year-old (voiced by Tremblay) who, over the course of Earth Day, learns about the wonders of the planet from his parents (voiced by O’Dowd and Negga) — and from a mysterious exhibit at the aptly titled Museum of Everything. The film is based on the bestselling book from artist, illustrator and writer Oliver Jeffers.

New documentary series “Dear …,” executive produced by Emmy and Peabody Award winner R.J. Cutler (“The September Issue”) will premiere globally this spring on Apple TV+. Inspired by Apple’s “Dear Apple” spots, “Dear …” features biographies of iconic figures in society by using letters written by those whose lives have been changed through their work. The 10-episode series will profile leaders including Oprah Winfrey, Gloria Steinem, Spike Lee, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Yara Shahidi, Stevie Wonder, Aly Raisman, Misty Copeland and Big Bird.

“Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet” has been renewed for a second season ahead of its global premiere Feb. 7 on Apple TV+. “Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet” follows a team of video game developers as they navigate the challenges of running a popular video game. Rob McElhenney stars as the fictional company’s creative director. The series also stars F. Murray Abraham, Danny Pudi, Imani Hakim, Charlotte Nicdao, David Hornsby, Ashly Burch and Jessie Ennis. All nine, half-hour episodes of the live-action comedy’s first season will be available to stream Feb. 7.

“Trying,” Apple’s first original series from the United Kingdom to debut on Apple TV+, will premiere May 1 around the world. Starring Rafe Spall and Esther Smith, its is a comedy featuring eight half-hour episodes.

After being announced as part of the 2020 SXSW Film Festival lineup, Apple revealed that the documentary series “Home” will debut globally April 17 exclusively on Apple TV+. The series offers viewers a look inside the world’s most innovative homes.

Apple TV+’s original series “Amazing Stories,” executive produced by Steven Spielberg, will make its global debut March 6. The series is a reimagining of the original anthology series.

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“Home Before Dark,” a dramatic mystery series inspired by the reporting of investigative journalist Hilde Lysiak, has been renewed for a second season. The series will premiere its first three episodes April 3 exclusively on Apple TV+, and new episodes will premiere weekly thereafter every Friday. “Home Before Dark” follows a young girl who moves from Brooklyn to the small lakeside town her father left behind. While there, her dogged pursuit of the truth leads her to unearth a cold case that everyone in town, including her own father, tried hard to bury. “Home Before Dark” stars Brooklynn Prince, Jim Sturgess, Abby Miller, Kylie Rogers, Adrian Hough, Jibrail Nantambu, Deric McCabe and Joelle Carter.

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“Central Park,” an animated musical comedy from Emmy Award winner Loren Bouchard (“Bob’s Burgers”), executive producer Josh Gad (Frozen) and executive producer Nora Smith (“Bob’s Burgers”), will premiere exclusively on Apple TV+ this summer. It follows the Tillermans, a family that lives in Central Park. Owen, the park manager, and Paige, his journalist wife, raise their kids Molly and Cole in the park, while fending off hotel heiress Bitsy Brandenham and her long suffering assistant Helen, who would love nothing more than to turn the park into condos. The series voice cast includes Josh Gad, Leslie Odom Jr., Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Tituss Burgess, Daveed Diggs and Stanley Tucci.

 

‘E.T.’ Friends Reunite to Market Xfinity and Sky Technology

Comcast NBCUniversal is reuniting E.T. and Elliott — iconic characters from Universal Pictures’ 1982 classic E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial — to market Xfinity and Sky technology.

In a short made in connection with the Comcast-owned studio, E.T. is back on earth for a surprise visit with Elliott (Henry Thomas reprising his role), who now has his own family. Although technology has changed the world since they’ve last seen each other 37 years ago, their connection and friendship remain strong.

The two-minute version of the story will debut during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on NBC in the United States, and then the full-length, four-minute version will be immediately available at xfinity.com/ET.

The company will be featuring the film on Syfy on Thanksgiving Day and making it available on demand for Xfinity TV customers. Xfinity TV customers with X1 will be able to say “E.T. Phone Home” into their voice remote for an E.T.-themed destination. Anyone who visits a Xfinity retail location can pick up an E.T. coloring book and candy.

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“The audience is going to get everything they want out of a sequel without the messy bits that could destroy the beauty of the original and the special place it has in people’s minds and hearts. It’s really a win-win,” stated Thomas, who starred in director Steven Spielberg’s classic as the 10-year-old boy who helps a lost alien find his way home. “Looking at the storyboards, I could see exactly why Steven was really behind it, because the integrity of the story isn’t lost in this retelling.”

“More than anything, the whole story is about family,” added short director Lance Acord in a statement.

“Our goal is to show how Xfinity and Sky technology connects family, friends and loved ones, which is so important during the holidays,” said Peter Intermaggio, SVP for marketing communications, Comcast Cable. “The classic friendship between E.T. and Elliott resonates around the world, and their story became a very meaningful way to bring our company’s consumer technology to life.”

‘The Shining’ to Terrify in 4K UHD Oct. 1 From Warner

Stanley Kubrick’s horror classic The Shining will come out on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and digital Oct. 1 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

The 4K remastering, done using a new 4K scan of the original 35mm camera negative at Warner Bros. Motion Picture Imaging, is of Kubrick’s original 144 minute version of the film which premiered in the United States May 23, 1980. Filmmaker Steven Spielberg and Kubrick’s former personal assistant  Leon Vitali worked closely with the team at Warner Bros. during the mastering process. May 17 the restored 4K version of the film will be screened at The Cannes Film Festival.

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The Shining, based on the Stephen King novel, was directed and produced by Kubrick, who wrote the screenplay with Diane Johnson. It stars Jack Nicholson in an iconic role as Jack Torrance, Shelley Duval as Wendy Torrance, Scatman Crothers as Dick Halloran, and Danny Lloyd as Danny Torrance. In the film, Jack Torrance becomes the winter caretaker at the isolated Overlook Hotel in Colorado, hoping to cure his writer’s block. He settles in along with his wife, Wendy and his son Danny, who is plagued by psychic premonitions. As Jack’s writing goes nowhere and Danny’s visions become more disturbing, Jack discovers the hotel’s dark secrets and begins to unravel into a homicidal maniac hell-bent on terrorizing his family.

In 2018, The Shining was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”  The film ranked 29th on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Thrills list, and Jack Torrance was named the 25th greatest villain on the AFI’s 100 Years…100 Heroes and Villains list.  Additionally, the quote “Here’s Johnny” from the film was ranked 68th on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movie Quotes list.

The Shining Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack features an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc with the feature film in 4K with HDR, a Blu-ray disc with the film in high definition and the special features in high definition, and a digital version of the movie. Fans can also own The Shining in 4K Ultra HD via purchase from select digital retailers.

The Ultra HD Blu-ray of The Shining will include more than three hours of previously released special features, including:

  • audio commentary by Steadicam inventor Garrett Brown and Kubrick biographer John Baxter;
  • “Video from the Overlook: Crafting The Shining”;
  • “The Visions of Stanley Kubrick,” a detailed look at one of cinema’s greatest visual storytellers and his unique ability to move audiences through the magic of unforgettable images;
  • “The Making of The Shining,” a cinema verité documentary offering a rare glimpse into the directing style of Kubrick as he interacts with Nicholson, Duvall and others;
  • “Wendy Carlos, Composer,” in which composer Wendy Carlos reflects on working with Kubrick and developing music scores for The Shiningand A Clockwork Orange.