Latest ‘Secret Garden’ Remake Due Digitally Sept. 22, on Disc Oct. 6

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment will release STX Films’ The Secret Garden through digital retailers Sept. 22, and on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Oct. 6.

The film offers a new take on the 1911 fantasy novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Set in England in 1947, the film follows a young orphan girl (Dixie Egerickx) who, after being sent to live with her uncle (Colin Firth), discovers a magical garden on the grounds of his estate. The cast also includes Julie Walters, Isis Davis and Amir Wilson.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

This is the fourth filmed adaptation of the book, following versions in 1919, 1949 and 1993. It was also the subject of BBC television miniseries in 1952, 1960 and 1975, plus a Hallmark Hall of Fame TV movie in 1987, and an animated special in 1994.

The new film has been available through premium VOD since Aug. 7.

Extras include the featurettes “Characters,” “Concept to Reality” and “Page to Screen,” plus the film’s trailer.

‘Rambo: Last Blood’ Tops Redbox Disc Rentals, ‘Hustlers’ Is On Demand No. 1

Lionsgate’s Rambo: Last Blood remained at No. 1 on Redbox’s kiosk disc rental chart the week ended Jan. 5. The Redbox disc rental chart tracks DVD and Blu-ray Disc rentals at the company’s more than 40,000 red kiosks.

It was the third straight week Rambo: Last Blood has been the top disc rental.

STX Films’ Hustlers, distributed by Universal Pictures, was No. 2 on the disc rental chart but returned to No. 1 on the Redbox On Demand chart, which tracks digital transactions, including both electronic sellthrough and streaming rentals. Hustlers, in its fourth week, had previously debuted as the No. 1 digital title.

Rambo: Last Blood slipped to No. 2 on the On Demand chart.

Universal’s Abominable slid to No. 3 on the disc rental chart and No. 6 on the On Demand chart.

The No. 3 On Demand title was Universal’s Good Boys, which was the No. 9 rental.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Sony Pictures’ Once Upon a Time in Hollywood stayed at No. 4 on the disc rental chart and was also No. 4 on the On Demand chart.

Rounding out the On Demand top five on both charts was Lionsgate’s Angel Has Fallen.

Top DVD and Blu-ray Disc Rentals, Redbox Kiosks, Week Ended Jan. 5:

  1. Rambo: Last Blood — Lionsgate
  2. Hustlers — Universal
  3. Abominable — Universal
  4. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood — Sony Pictures
  5. Angel Has Fallen — Lionsgate
  6. It: Chapter Two — Warner
  7. Primal — Lionsgate
  8. Ad Astra — Fox
  9. Good Boys — Universal
  10. Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw — Universal

 

Top Digital, Redbox On Demand, Week Ended Jan. 5:

  1. Hustlers — STX
  2. Rambo: Last Blood — Lionsgate
  3. Good Boys — Universal
  4. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood — Sony Pictures
  5. Angel Has Fallen — Lionsgate
  6. Abominable — Universal
  7. Ad Astra — Fox
  8. It: Chapter Two — Warner
  9. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle — Sony Pictures
  10. Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw — Universal

 

Follow us on Instagram!

 

Hustlers

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street Date 12/10/19;
Universal;
Drama;
Box Office $104.88 million;
$29.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray, $44.98 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for pervasive sexual material, drug content, language and nudity.
Stars Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez, Julia Stiles, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart, Cardi B, Mercedes Ruehl, Lizzo, Frank Whaley.

On the surface, Hustlers would seem to be little more than the simple tale of strippers ripping off their clients. But it’s actually a deeper story of friendship, empowerment and disenfranchised women striking back to get their cut of the system.

Written and directed by Lorene Scafaria, the film was inspired by the New York Magazine article “The Hustlers at Scores: The Ex-Strippers Who Stole From (Mostly) Rich Men and Gave to, Well, Themselves,” which detailed a scheme to bring wealthy clientele into the club and intoxicate them to the point where they would run up huge credit card bills while passed out, with the ladies taking a generous cut.

Seeing Will Ferrell and Adam McKay’s names pop up as producers (their production company owned the film rights to the article) might lend to an assumption that this is a comedy, although it turns out to be much more of a character drama.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Constance Wu stars as Dorothy, a newcomer to the exotic dancing business who is taken under the wing of Ramona (Jennifer Lopez) in the early 2000s. The film does a good job showcasing the less glamorous nature of exotic dancing as a profession for women who are just trying to raise families and get by just like everyone else. Technically regarded as independent contractors, they have to pay the clubs for the opportunity to work there. But Ramona has been around long enough to have learned all the tricks to make the job both fun and profitable. In 2007 Dorothy made more than most high-profile surgeons, she brags to a reporter (Julia Stiles) in a flash-forward meant as a nod to the story’s origins as a magazine article.

Be sure to follow us on Instagram!

The other half of the equation is the clientele, mostly sleazy Wall Street types who love to flash their money around for a good time.

But with Wall Street hit hard by the 2008 recession, the strip clubs end up taking a hit, just as an unexpected pregnancy forces Dorothy to exit the business. After a few years trying to get by with limited job prospects, she returns to the club to find that most of the new dancers are Russian prostitutes she won’t degrade herself enough to compete with.

Enter Ramona, who decides it’s time for the girls to get their piece of the Wall Street action. She and her team of girls head into the city to “market” the club, which usually just involves picking up a lonely guy at a fancy bar and getting him drunk enough to come back with him, so they can get a cut of whatever he spends.

To up the ante, they start drugging their potential clients and stealing their credit cards, getting all the necessary PIN codes and personal information they need from the half-conscious dupes, who usually head home too embarrassed to report anything was stolen.

According to Scafaria in a solo commentary track on the Blu-ray, the film was shot at a real strip club, whose actual owner and some of the real girls who worked there appeared in the film, which lends a healthy verisimilitude to the proceedings.

Scafaria’s energetic and informative commentary turns out to be the Blu-ray’s only extra feature. In it, she also relates the themes she wanted the film to explore and expresses how fortunate she was to have landed most of her first choices for the casting and song rights.

That she apologizes for the film’s depictions of smoking and people wearing fur coats is just a sign of the times we live in now, I guess.

‘Dragon’ Threequel Lights Up Disc Sales Charts

DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World debuted at No. 1 on the NPD VideoScan First Alert chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales, and the dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart the week ended May 25.

The third “Dragon” film, distributed by Universal Pictures, earned $160.6 million at the domestic box office and outsold the No. 2 ranked title by a 5-to-1 margin. A collection of the entire “Dragon” trilogy debuted at No. 6 on the charts.

Bowing in second place on both charts was STX’s The Upside, also distributed by Universal. A remake of the 2011 French film The Intouchables, about an unambitious man taking a job caring for a wealthy quadriplegic, The Upside stars Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston and earned $108 million in U.S. theaters.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The previous week’s top Blu-ray, Warner’s The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, slid to No. 3 on both charts.

Lionsgate’s Cold Pursuit, which had been the top seller on the combined chart the previous week, dropped to No. 4 on both charts.

Rounding out the top five on both charts was another newcomer, the romantic comedy spoof Isn’t It Romantic, from Warner Bros. It earned $48.8 million at the domestic box office.

Blu-ray Disc formats accounted for 66% of Dragon unit sales, compared with 45% for Upside 40% for Isn’t It Romantic. The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray version of Dragon comprised 8% of its total overall unit sales.

The Media Play News rental chart for the week ended May 26 had The Upside at No. 1, with Dragon at No. 2 and Isn’t It Romantic at No. 3.

Cold Pursuit slid to No. 4, while Universal’s Fighting With My Family dropped to No. 5.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 5-25-19
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 5-26-19
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 5-25-19
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 5-25-19
Sales Report for Week Ended 5-25-19
Digital Sales Snapshot for Week Ended 5-27-19

The Happytime Murders

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street 12/4/18;
Universal;
Comedy;
Box Office $20.71 million;
$29.99 DVD, $34.99 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for strong crude and sexual content and language throughout, and some drug material.
Stars Melissa McCarthy, Elizabeth Banks, Maya Rudolph, Leslie David Baker, Joel McHale, Michael McDonald.
Voices of Bill Barretta, Dorien Davies, Kevin Clash, Drew Massey.

The Happytime Murders continues the glorious tradition of using the tropes of children’s programming as the basis for subversive adult entertainment.

The film is set in a world best described as “Muppets-adjacent,” where felt-skinned puppets are alive and second-class citizens of a society in which humans are pretty openly racist toward them. Some of the puppets end up as performers in movies and TV shows for kids, and when they’re off camera they have to deal with the harsh realities of life like everyone else.

The story involves a puppet named Phil (Bill Barretta), an ex-cop now working as a private investigator. He gets roped into a case involving the former members of a TV show called “The Happytime Gang” getting killed one at a time, and the police ask him to help his former partner (Melissa McCarthy) figure out who’s behind it.

The Happytime Murders could be considered something of a puppet version of Who Framed Roger Rabbit if not for a couple of factors. First, all the puppet characters are generic and created just for this film. Seeing characters from other franchises interact could have helped build the world and establish a sense of nostalgia to better connect audiences to the story. To that end, it’s not surprising that other studios would be reluctant to lend their IP to the project, which owes a lot to the second factor — the film is completely filthy.

Puppets do drugs. Puppets engage in dangerous sex acts. Puppets get ripped apart by dogs and get their heads blown apart by shotguns, leaving fluffy cotton entrails everywhere. An then there’s the excessive use of silly string. It’s pretty much everything you suspected goes on in the after hours of “Sesame Street” but were afraid to ask.

In fact, the film was the basis of an unsuccessful lawsuit from the Sesame Workshop for its tagline of “No Sesame. All Street,” which is still boldly emblazoned on the DVD and Blu-ray box art. But the fact that the puppets are basically off-brand Muppets is no coincidence.

The film’s director is Brian Henson, son of the late Muppets creator Jim Henson. In a commentary on the Blu-ray, Brian helpfully points out that he made sure to include a “Henson Alternative” production banner at the beginning of The Happytime Murders to signal that this movie really isn’t for children. Not that the trailers or any of the marketing wouldn’t have given that away.

The notion of living puppets scheming to commit mayhem brings to mind the “Smile Time” episode from Joss Whedon’s vampire drama “Angel,” which featured several demonic puppets stealing the life force from children. Unsurprisingly, many of the episode’s puppets were realized with the help of a number of Jim Henson Co. puppeteers, including some who worked on this movie.

I also have a feeling that the foul-mouthed Stinky the Grump from the famous “Chappelle’s Show” “Kneehigh Park” sketch would be quite at home in the world of The Happytime Murders as well.

But this isn’t a five-minute sketch. Happytime Murders doubles down on the concept of puppets doing inappropriate things, to the point where it doesn’t seem to have much to say beyond that. Most scenes are structured on the idea of a puppet doing something crude and unexpected, allowing the movie to coast on the juxtaposition of something associated with children acting in an adult way. Which isn’t to say it isn’t entertaining. The film offers a number of clever observations about a hypothetical puppet society, and there are even moments that are laugh-out-loud hilarious. However, the constancy of it is just a bit draining, and the pace of the puppetry must have worn out the filmmakers too given how the story evolves into a lengthy stretch focusing on a couple of the human characters trying to solve the mystery on their own.

More impressive is the film’s visual style, and the extent of the visual effects work involved may surprise some viewers. According to some of the Blu-ray’s behind-the-scenes material, there were a fair amount of puppeteers crouched just off camera to animate the characters. But there is also a lot of CGI involved, too. The disc offers a two-minute featurette about how the filmmakers used virtual environments to gain better control over the action.

More illuminating is a nearly three-minute video about how the visual effects team created a lot of the “puppets” from CGI to begin with. Some might see it as cheating, I suppose, but their work in this regard is amazing, as the level of detail in the texture of the fabric seems completely authentic. At first blush I just assumed many of the scenes of puppets walking around in full view of the camera were done with little people in costumes, so it was a bit of an eye-opener to see how they really did it.

A fuller overview of the visual effects work is on display in a four-minute montage video that shows several scenes at different stages of development.

In addition to the aforementioned audio commentary, in which director Henson is joined by puppeteer/voice actor Barretta, the Blu-ray also includes a three-minute gag reel and a two-and-a-half-minute “Line-O-Rama” of alternate improvisations.

Finally, the disc includes more than 14 minutes of deleted scenes, which expand on a few points and fill in some character details that are touched on in the final film.

Regarding the film’s digital copy, take note that the film is not available for redemption through Movies Anywhere, even though Universal is a signatory studio. The production company is STX Films, which does not have a distribution deal with Movies Anywhere, and as a result the digital code included with the disc is redeemable only through iTunes.

‘Peppermint’ to Hit Digital Nov. 20, Disc Dec. 11 From Universal

The revenge thriller Peppermint will come out on digital Nov. 20 and on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and on demand Dec. 11 from STXfilms and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film made $35.2 million in theaters.

The film stars Jennifer Garner (“Alias,” Juno), John Ortiz (Silver Linings PlaybookAmerican Gangster), John Gallagher Jr. (10 Cloverfield LaneHush), Juana Pablo Raba (The 33, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”) and Annie Ilonzeh (“Person of Interest,” “Arrow”).

The story follows mother Riley North (Garner) who awakens from a coma after her husband and daughter are killed in a brutal attack on the family. When the system frustratingly shields the murderers from justice, Riley sets out to transform herself from citizen to urban guerrilla.

Special features on Blu-ray, DVD and digital include a behind-the-scenes featurette with Garner and director Pierre Morel and feature commentary by Morel.

Universal Sets Home Release Dates for ‘Mile 22’ Actioner

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has set home release dates for Mile 22, a modern thriller from the director of Lone Survivor starring Mark Wahlberg.

The film, which earned $35.5 million in U.S. theaters, will arrive on digital Oct. 30 and as a Blu-ray Disc combo pack, DVD and On Demand on Nov. 13.

Mile 22, from STXfilms, stars Wahlberg as James Silva, an operative of the CIA’s most highly-prized and little-known unit. Aided by a top-secret tactical command team, Silva must transport an asset (Iko Uwais) who has vital information to an airfield for extraction before the enemy closes in.

From director  Peter Berg (Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon), Mile 22 also features performances by Lauren Cohan (“The Walking Dead”), Ronda Rousey (Fast & Furious 7) and John Malkovich (Red).

Bonus features on the Blu-ray Disc combo back, DVD and digital:

  • Overwatch: Follow the “Overwatch,” the para-military division in Mile 22, and explore the background and inspiration as to why this type of team was chosen for the film.
  • Introducing Iko: A spotlight on action star Iko Uwais and his experience with combat fighting, stunt work and choreographing his own scenes in the film.
  • Iko Fight: Interview with Uwais discussing his intense fight scenes from the practice room to the final shot.
  • Bad Ass Women: A behind-the-scenes look with stars Lauren Cohan and Ronda Rousey along with writer Lea Carpenter, discussing stunts, intellectual smarts and the overall tenacity of the film’s female characters.
  • BTS Stunts: An in-depth take on the creation of the action-packed stunts of Mile 22 with commentary from Director Peter Berg and the film’s stars.
  • Modern Combat: Explore the concept of modern action cinema, where scenes are created and shot in real time with multiple cameras, mesmerizing cinematography and intense action stunts.
  • Colombia: Take a tour of Bogota, Colombia with the cast and filmmakers discussing key filming location points.
  • Trailers