FandangoNow Creates Playlists for San Diego Comic-Con

With Comic-Con in full swing in San Diego through July 21, FandangoNow, Fandango’s transactional VOD service, is hosting two new playlists devoted to fan favorites and genre films.

Fandango correspondent Alicia Malone, author of the feminist film histories The Female Gaze and Backwards and in Heels, July 19 is moderating a Comic-Con panel entitled “The Future of Film is Female.” The panel on genre films by female filmmakers features Rotten Tomatoes editor Jacqueline Coley, Fast Color director Julia Hart, Terminator producer Gale Anne Hurd and Black Panther cinematographer Rachel Morrison.

Malone has curated a FandangoNow playlist of her favorite female-helmed genre films, including Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman, Mary Harron’s American Psycho, Anna Biller’s The Love Witch, Veronika Franz’s Goodnight Mommy, Karyn Kusama’s Jennifer’s Body, Kathryn Bigelow’s Strange Days, Mimi Leder’s Deep Impact and Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time.

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Also in honor of the convention’s 50th anniversary, Rotten Tomatoes has curated a special playlist of 50 Movies that Defined Comic-Con on FandangoNow, featuring such titles as Iron Man, Twilight and “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

‘Batman Beyond’ 20th Anniversary Celebration at Comic-Con Includes Blu-ray Announcement

The popular animated series “Batman Beyond” is being released on Blu-ray for its 20th anniversary.

The announcement came July 18 during San Diego Comic-Con International, as cast members and some of the show’s creative forces gathered to celebrate the anniversary.

The series, a spinoff of “Batman: The Animated Series,” debuted in January 1999 and ran for 52 episodes and a direct-to-video movie. The show, set in the future, dealt with an elderly Bruce Wayne (voiced by Kevin Conroy) recruiting teenager Terry McGinnis (Will Friedle) to take up the mantle of Batman.

Writer Bob Goodman said the series came about as a result of a mandate from the WB Network to focus on younger characters, and to portray Batman as a high schooler. Producer Bruce Timm suggested setting the show in the future timeline of “Batman: The Animated Series.” As a result, the show wasn’t based on any particular Batman storyline from the comic books.

“About 80% of it we made up out of whole cloth,” Goodman said. “We just developed it based upon what we knew of these characters.”

Friedle said he was asked to audition because Timm’s wife was a fan of his work on the ABC sitcom “Boy Meets World.”

Friedle said he didn’t expect to get the role because at the time he hadn’t done voiceover work before.

“It’s the equivalent of having never been in a movie before, and now you’re starring in a Steven Spielberg movie,” said Friedle, who has gone on to enjoy a lucrative voiceover career with roles such as Lion-O in the “Thundercats” reboot, and Bumblebee in “Transformers: Robots in Disguise.”

Casting director Andrea Romano said Friedle won the part after the finalists were tested alongside veteran voice actor Conroy, who had been playing Batman and Bruce Wayne on “Batman: The Animated Series” since the early 1990s.

“They had that dynamic,” Romano said.

Conroy said the show’s futuristic setting gave him a good perspective on how to play the older version of Bruce.

“He wasn’t a doddering old man,” Conroy said. “They had him become a powerful lion in winter.”

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Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the show digitally Oct. 15, with the Blu-ray boxed set to follow on Oct. 29.

Warner has remastered 41 episodes from their original elements, with the remaining episodes upscaled to HD. The Blu-ray will also include a newly remastered copy of the direct-to-video movie Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker.

The six-disc Batman Beyond: The Complete Animated Series — Limited Edition includes 15 bonus featurettes, including two new retrospectives: “Nostalgic Tomorrow,” a gathering of “Batman Beyond” production talent and cast; and “Knight Immortal,” an 80th anniversary celebration of the Batman character. Four episodes include audio commentary from producer Bruce Timm and select members of the production team.

The limited-edition Blu-ray, which will be individually numbered with a run of 50,000, will also include an exclusive chrome Funko Pop and lenticular art cards.

Sinister Superhero Flick ‘Brightburn’ Flying to Digital Aug. 6, Disc Aug. 20 From Sony

The superhero horror story Brightburn is coming to digital Aug. 6 and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and DVD Aug. 20 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Producer James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy, Slither) presents a subversive take on the superhero film, asking the question: What if a child from another world crash-landed on Earth, but instead of becoming a hero to mankind, he proved to be something far more sinister?

Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jackson A. Gunn, Matt Jones and Meredith Hagner star.

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Bonus materials include:

  • three “Quick Burns” vignettes, hosted by Banks, producer James Gunn and director David Yarovesky;
  • the “Hero-Horror!” featurette, in which producer James Gunn and screenwriters Brian and Mark Gunn discuss the genre-bending category;
  • the “Nature vs. Nurture” featurette, about what motivates the film’s antihero;
  • and filmmaker commentary with Yarovesky, director of photography Michael Dallatorre, and costume designer Autumn Steed.

‘Legends of Tomorrow’ Season Four on Disc Sept. 24

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release DC’s Legends of Tomorrow: The Complete Fourth Season on Blu-ray and DVD Sept. 24 (order date Aug. 20).

The season deals with the Legends fighting the forces of magic and myth.

The cast includes Brandon Routh, Caity Lotz, Maisie Richardson-Sellers, Tala Ashe, Jes Macallan, Courtney Ford, Ramona Young, Nick Zano and Dominic Purcell. In addition, Matt Ryan reprises his role as the title character from “Constantine.”

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The Blu-ray and DVD includes all 16 episodes, plus deleted scenes, a gag reel, and the featurettes “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow: Legendary Storytelling” and “Post Production Theater.” The Blu-ray will include 1080p HD video with DTS-HD master audio for English 5.1.

The fourth season is currently available to own digitally, and a digital copy is included with the Blu-ray.

‘Fast Color’ Arriving on Digital June 18, Disc July 16 From Lionsgate

The female superhero movie Fast Color arrives on digital June 18 and Blu-ray (plus digital), DVD and on demand July 16 from Lionsgate.

Starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Beauty and the BeastA Wrinkle in TimeMiss Sloane), Lorraine Toussaint (Selma, TV’s “Into the Badlands,” TV’s “Orange Is the New Black”), Saniyya Sidney (FencesHidden Figures, TV’s “The Passage”), Christopher Denham (TV’s “Billions,” ArgoShutter Island), and Academy Award nominee David Strathairn (2005, Best Actor, Good Night, and Good Luck), the film follows a young woman whose superhuman abilities keep her on the run until she finally decides to go home and search for help.

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Extras include a making-of featurette and audio commentary with writer-director Julia Hart and writer-producer Jordan Horowitz.

MCU Titles Surge at FandangoNow

FandangoNow has seen a spike in sales for all 20 Marvel cinematic universe titles since the theatrical bow of Avengers: Endgame, with all appearing among its top 100 films, according to the service.

FandangoNow is movie site Fandango’s transactional VOD platform.

The site also reported a surge in preorders and first-day sales for Captain Marvel, hitting home this week. The female-driven superhero film is pacing similarly to Marvel’s Black Panther, one of FandangoNow’s most purchased titles of all time, according to the service.

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Captain Marvel is one of the year’s most entertaining films, and one of the most talked-about Marvel movies ever,” said FandangoNow managing editor Erik Davis in a statement. “It’s clear fans want to see lots more of Brie Larson’s high-flying superhero, and are excited to watch all the bonus content, deleted scenes and outtakes, especially after seeing her in Avengers: Endgame.”

According to a FandangoNow survey of fans planning to watch Captain Marvel at home, 91% are excited to revisit Captain Marvel’s origin story at home after seeing her on the big screen in Avengers: Endgame, while 60% plan to watch Captain Marvel at home before they head to the theater to see the MCU’s next chapter, Spider-Man: Far from Home.

Since the release of Endgame, the five best-selling MCU titles are:

  1. Spider-Man Homecoming*
  2. Iron Man
  3. Captain America: The First Avenger*
  4. Marvel’s The Avengers*
  5. Avengers: Age of Ultron*

 

*Available in 4K

 

DC Universe SVOD Service Offers Holiday Discount, Will Bow Titles Same Day as Disc

DC Universe animated movies will be available on the DC Universe SVOD service the same day as each title’s 4K and Blu-Ray combo pack release beginning Jan. 29 with Reign of the Supermen, the service announced.

Also, DC Universe (dcuniverse.com), which launched Sept. 15 and showcases DC comic book characters, is offering membership discounts for U.S. subscribers for a limited time. Viewers can get the first three months of membership at $3.99 per month (regularly $7.99 per month) or a full year for $59.99 (regularly $74.99) plus taxes through Dec. 20 at dcuniverse.com/join.

From Dec. 14-24 DC Universe members have a chance to participate in 10 days of gifts directly from favorite characters. Ten winners will have the chance to win one of 10 prizes, to be revealed each day, featuring DC Super Heroes and Super-Villains such as Batman, The Joker, Swamp Thing, Wonder Woman and The Flash.

Other new DC animated movies coming in 2019 include Reign of the Supermen, due Jan. 29, plus Justice League vs The Fatal Five and Batman: Hush.

Also, DC Universe has released the final trailer for the first season finale of original series “Titans,” which will include the face off of Robin vs. Batman. The finale debuts Dec. 21, on which date all episodes from season one will be available to binge.

In the three months since its debut, “Titans” has been viewed by 97% of members, according to the service.

Other series available to binge include “Green Lantern: The Animated Series,” starting Jan. 1, and “Batman (1989),” “Batman Returns,” “Batman Forever” and “Batman & Robin.”

Members have read 2.7 million comics on the service to date, with viewers reading comics that relate directly to the video content they are viewing, according to the service.

“This early glimpse at how our members are engaging with DC Universe points to why fans joining the digital service are not just video viewers; they are reading comics, participating in the community, and winning rewards on a service that allows them to not only stream exciting series and movies but share their fandom in a place that is all their own,” said Sam Ades, SVP and GM, DC Digital Services.

The “DC Daily” show, which has released a new episode every weekday since launch, is among the most-watched programs on a daily basis, according to the service. Guests have included Kevin Smith, Minka Kelly, Brian Michael Bendis, Caity Lotz, Jesse Rath and Paul Dini.

Since going live, the service has run weekly sweepstakes giving away rewards to members, including a tour of DC, a ride in the Batmobile, a trip to the Aquaman movie premiere, tickets to screenings across the country, and hundreds of books, posters, toys and more.

The DC Universe service is available in the United States on iOS, Android, Apple TV, Android TV and the Roku platform, as well as the web and mobile web.

Netflix Continues Marvel Housecleaning, Cancels ‘Daredevil’

Faced with the impending launch of a rival Disney streaming service next year, Netflix appears to be eager to get out of the Marvel business.

The streaming service pioneer Nov. 29 canceled “Daredevil” after three seasons, the third of its shows based on Marvel Comics to get the axe in the past two months.

Netflix Oct. 12 canceled “Iron Fist,” followed a week later by “Luke Cage,” which it canceled the same day as the premiere of the third season of “Daredevil.”

The rapid elimination of its Marvel-based properties has led to increased speculation that Netflix was washing its hands of the franchise as Marvel owner The Walt Disney Co. prepares to launch its own direct-to-consumer video service, Disney+, late next year.

“Daredevil” had been the flagship of a heralded distribution deal between Disney and Netflix announced in late 2013 that would see the production of four series based on Marvel characters set in the same cinematic universe as the “Avengers” films.

The show, which premiered in 2015, focused on blind lawyer Matt Murdock, who used his acute senses to fight crime as a vigilante on the streets of Hell’s Kitchen, New York.

“Daredevil” was followed by “Jessica Jones,” about a super-powered NYC private investigator; “Luke Cage,” which focused on the bulletproof hero of Harlem; and “Iron Fist,” about a wealthy heir who returns to New York after a long absence having gained mystical martial arts abilities.

After a second season of “Daredevil” in 2016, the four title heroes joined forces in 2017 in the miniseries “The Defenders.” In 2017 “Daredevil” spun off “The Punisher,” about a veteran seeking revenge for the death of his family. “Jessica Jones” received a second season early in 2018.

The series were produced for Netflix by Marvel Television and ABC Studios.

“Luke Cage” and “Iron Fist” were both given two seasons on Netflix. While the first season of “Iron Fist” was generally derided by fans, its second season was praised as a positive turnaround by most critics, although its cancellation wasn’t seen as much of a surprise given lingering animosity toward the show. The elimination of the better-received “Luke Cage” was more eye-opening to industry observers, with the lack of renewal of “Daredevil” leaving little doubt as to the eventual fate of Netflix’s remaining Marvel shows.

A second season of “The Punisher” has completed production and is expected to debut early next year. A third season of “Jessica Jones” is currently in production.

Netflix never formally renewed or canceled the “The Defenders,” though in September it rebranded its “Defenders” Facebook page into “NX,” a label more encompassing of Netflix’s wider array of genre-based properties. Many fan sites interpreted this move as a sign that no further crossover adventures were in the works, especially since the first “Defenders” miniseries garnered a lukewarm critical reaction (its 77% Rotten Tomatoes critics score was the lowest of any of the preceding seasons, save for “Iron Fist,” and ranks it eighth among the 11 Marvel Netflix seasons).

Rotten Tomatoes listed the third season of “Daredevil” as the best-received Marvel Netflix season in terms of both critic (94% positive) and fan (96%) response since the first season of “Daredevil” three years ago (which earned 99% and 96%, respectively).

Global data measurement firm Parrot Analytics reported that “Daredevil” was the No. 4 most in-demand show in terms of online activity the week ended Nov. 24, more than a month after its third season debuted. However, Business Insider Nov. 28 speculated that the fate of “Daredevil” was uncertain, despite a #RenewDaredevil Twitter campaign advocating a fourth season, citing data from consumer-insights company Crimson Hexagon claiming interest in all the Marvel shows was down significantly since the franchise debuted.

At the same time, Netflix has been putting more emphasis on its own proprietary content, rather than licensing shows from third parties, as they do with Marvel.

In a statement to Deadline, Netflix stated that it was “tremendously proud” of the third season of “Daredevil” and felt “it best to close this chapter on a high note.”

Netflix also hinted that more adventures of Daredevil could eventually materialize in other mediums: “While the series on Netflix has ended, the three existing seasons will remain on the service for years to come, while the Daredevil character will live on in future projects for Marvel.”

What form this may take remains to be seen, given the apparent creative split between Marvel Studios, which handles the films, and Marvel Television. Disney+ has confirmed a new series based on the “Thor” and “Avengers” villain Loki, and rumors are swirling about additional series based on film characters such as The Scarlet Witch, Winter Soldier and Falcon, the latter two being sidekicks of Captain America. But these series would be handled by Marvel Studios and its executive producer, Kevin Feige, and not Marvel Television.

The 2015 separation of Marvel’s film and TV divisions left many fans wondering about how interconnected the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s television incarnation would remain. Thus far, MCU-set TV shows such as the Netflix group, ABC’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and Freeform’s “Cloak & Dagger” have referenced events from the films, but have not received reciprocal acknowledgement from any of the movies (though the Russo Brothers did acknowledge discussions about the feasibility of using characters such as Luke Cage in Avengers: Infinity War).

With Marvel Studios seemingly handling the Marvel programming on Disney+, industry observers have expressed skepticism about the pending service’s willingness to pick up Marvel Television productions that have already been canceled by other networks.

 

Warner Releases Streamlined ‘Batman: The Animated Series’ Blu-ray

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Nov. 27 released a streamlined version of its Batman: The Complete Animated Series Blu-ray boxed set.

The 12-disc set includes all 109 remastered episodes of the 1990s animated series along with legacy bonus material, the new 90-minute “The Heart of Batman” documentary, and copies of the previously released remastered Blu-rays of spinoff films Batman: Mask of the Phantasm and Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero. The boxed set also includes a digital copy of the series.

“So that all interested fans have the opportunity to own this beloved series, WBHE felt the need to create another option to accommodate everyone,” said Mary Ellen Thomas, VP of family and animation marketing at Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Warner has set an $89.99 SRP for the re-packaged release, compared with $112.99 for the limited edition.

The new version has different artwork from the limited edition released Oct. 30, which came with art cards and three pack-on mini figures of the show’s characters. That limited-edition run was limited to 70,000 copies, which are nearly sold out, according to Warner Bros. Copies are available through Amazon while supplies last.

 

Batman: The Complete Animated Series — Deluxe Limited Edition

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Warner;
Animated;
$112.99 Blu-ray;
Not rated.
Voices of Kevin Conroy, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Bob Hastings, Robert Costanzo, Loren Lester, Mark Hamill, Arleen Sorkin.

The classic “Batman: The Animated Series” has never looked better thanks to a remastering that makes the series shine in high-definition. Although designed to be dark, the show nonetheless presents a dazzling array of color that gives new life to these heroes and villains of comic book legend.

This is an essential addition for any Batman fan’s collection.

The show was developed in the early 1990s to take advantage of the popularity of the Tim Burton “Batman” movies. While it shares some music and a darker edge, the show really stands on its own, and is considered by many to be the definitive on-screen adaptation of the character. About the only limitation it faced was that the network sensibilities for shows aimed at younger viewers at the time precluded how the show depicted violence, and restricted the depiction of blood and gun use.

The distinctive style is reminiscent of the Fleischer “Superman” shorts from the early 1940s, and itself spawned an animation franchise that came to include new “Superman” and “Justice League” cartoons, not to mention the cult-classic “Batman Beyond” reinterpretation of the character. (Thus far, the “Justice League” has been the only other DC Animated Universe series released on Blu-ray.)

The set includes 109 episodes from the series spanning four seasons, including the final 24 that were produced under the “New Batman Adventures” label with a modified design aesthetic. As a bonus, the set includes the theatrically released Batman: Mask of the Phantasm and the direct-to-video spinoff Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero (the discs are the previously released Blu-ray versions of each).

In addition to a bevy of legacy bonus content that includes audio commentaries and making-of featurettes from the previous DVD releases of the show, the new Blu-ray also comes with a bonus disc containing the new hour-and-a-half “Heart of Batman” retrospective documentary, in which the show’s creators and cast reflect on developing the series and the qualities that gave it such an enduring legacy.