Lionsgate Heroes Get Dads Into Action for Father’s Day

Lionsgate has an army of heroes ready to ramp up the action for dads on Father’s Day, June 21. The studio’s catalog is filled with classics that feature iconic characters, including Rambo, John Wick and the Highlander; the genre’s top directors, including James Cameron, Paul Verhoeven and Roland Emmerich; and the genre’s biggest stars, including Sylvester Stallone, Keanu Reeves, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis and many more.

All five installments in the saga of Sylvester Stallone’s John Rambo are available on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital from Lionsgate. In First Blood (1982), Stallone originates the role of the war hero, an ex-Green Beret haunted by memories of Vietnam. In Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985), with a screenplay by Stallone and James Cameron (Titanic), Rambo’s survival skills are tested on a top-secret mission that takes him back to the jungles of Vietnam in search of American POWs. In Rambo III (1988), the veteran has finally begun to find inner peace inside a monastery — until his friend and men-tor Col. Sam Trautman (Richard Crenna) shows up to ask for his help on a top-secret mission in Afghanistan. Rambo (2008) finds the hero leading a group of battle-scarred, combat-hardened mercenaries on a mission to rescue aid workers in war-torn Burma. Finally, Rambo: Last Blood, billed as the last chapter of Rambo’s story, finds Stallone’s tortured warrior in a brief moment of relative peace before he must unearth his ruthless combat skills to exact revenge in a final mission.

Lionsgate’s catalog also includes the saga of another hero driven by vengeance, John Wick. Keanu Reeves stars as Wick in three chapters available on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital. In John Wick (2014), the ex-hitman comes out of retirement to hunt down the gangsters that killed his dog and took everything from him. The sequel John Wick: Chapter 2 finds Wick returning to the criminal underworld to repay a debt with a large bounty on his life. In John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum, Wick has a $14 million price tag on his head after killing a member of the High Table, the shadowy international assassins’ guild.

No action catalog is complete without Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Lionsgate has two of his iconic movies, Terminator 2, available on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital, and Total Recall, available on Blu-ray plus Digital HD, DVD and Digital. In the science-fiction classic Total Recall (1990), directed by Paul Verhoeven, Schwarzenegger plays a mild-mannered construction worker who takes a virtual vacation and finds himself embroiled in espionage on Mars unable to determine if the experiences are real. Director James Cameron’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) has the action star in another sci-fi classic, reprising his role as a robotic killing machine — this time on the side of humans Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and her son John (Edward Furlong).

Another classic 1990s action film, Universal Soldier, is available on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital from Lionsgate. The Roland Emmerich-directed science-fiction actioner (1992) pits Jean-Claude Van Damme against Dolph Lundgren in a story of military experiments gone wrong.

Lionsgate has two star-studded ensembles in 2010’s RED and The Expendables. RED, on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital, stars Bruce Willis as a former black-ops agent who reassembles his old team to battle an assassin. It also stars Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman and Mary-Louise Parker. Boasting a who’s who of action stars, The Expendables features Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren and many more in the story of a CIA operative who hires a team of mercenaries to eliminate a Latin dictator and a renegade CIA agent. It features an appearance by Schwarzenegger and is also available on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital.

Government intrigue also figures into Sicario, about an idealistic FBI agent enlisted by a task force to aid in a drug war at the border. Available on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital, the 2015 dramatic action film stars Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro.

Finally, Lionsgate’s catalog features action-filled adventures Cutthroat Island (1995) and Highlander (1986). Directed by Renny Harlin, Cutthroat Island, available on Blu-ray and DVD, stars Geena Davis as a pirate racing against rivals to find a hidden island harboring treasure. Highlander, also available on Blu-ray and DVD, stars Christopher Lambert as an immortal Scottish swordsman battling through time.

Doc ’40 Years of Rocky: The Birth of a Classic’ Due on Digital June 9 From Virgil

The documentary film 40 Years of Rocky: The Birth of a Classic will premiere on Digital HD June 9 from Virgil Films & Entertainment.

The film is narrated by “Rocky” star and creator Sylvester Stallone, who shares insights about his battle to get the story of a down-on-his-luck boxer greenlit and onto the big screen.

In 1976, a low-budget movie written by an unknown actor was released, inspiring audiences around the world. Rocky became the ultimate underdog film. More than 40 years later, Stallone recounts the making of the beloved classic through rare home movies provided by director John G. Avildsen and Production Manager Lloyd Kaufman.

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Stallone pitched the idea of the film to director Derek Wayne Johnson and producer Chris May after a private screening of their documentary John G. Avildsen: King of the Underdogs, in which Stallone also is featured. The documentary features behind-the-scenes footage that Oscar-winning director John G. Avildsen shot, as well as never-before-seen footage found in “Rocky” production manager and Troma Entertainment president Lloyd Kaufman’s basement nearly 40 years after it was filmed.

‘A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints,’ Stallone Films Due on Disc Dec. 17 From MVD Marquee Collection

The MVD Marquee Collection will get several new entries Dec. 17.

Due on Blu-ray for the first time is A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, a 2006 coming-of-age drama about writer/director Dito Montiel’s (Fighting) youth that captures the mid-1980s in the toughest neighborhood of Astoria, Queens. Dito (Robert Downey Jr.) — called home after 15 years because his father (Chazz Palminteri) is ill — encounters old friends, the ones he lost, the ones he left behind and the ones he can’t help but remember. In his bittersweet return to a neighborhood where relationships can never be what they once were, Dito must come to terms with a father’s rage and a father’s love. Also starring Dianne Wiest, Shia LaBeouf, Channing Tatum, Rosario Dawson, Melonie Diaz and Eric Roberts, the film won Best Director and Best Ensemble at the Sundance Film Festival. Special features include audio commentary by Montiel and editor Jake Pushinsky, a making-of featurette, 11 deleted scenes with option commentary by Montiel, one alternate opening and four alternate endings with optional commentary by Montiel, “Sundance Labs: Rooftop Scene” with optional commentary by Montiel, young Laurie audition played by Diane Carcando, the “Full Monty” (Montiel’s father) interview, and the original theatrical trailer.

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Due on DVD are two Sylvester Stallone double features: Eye See You/Reach Me and Avenging Angelo/Shade. In Eye See You, lead detective Jake Malloy (Stallone), being stalked by a serial killer, is asked to check into a clinic treating law enforcement officials who can’t face their jobs. The thriller from director Jim Gillespie features a supporting cast that includes Tom Berenger, Charles Dutton, Sean Patrick Flanery, Robert Patrick, Courtney B. Vance, Jeffrey Wright, Dina Meyer, Stephen Lang and Kris Kristofferson. In Reach Me, a mysterious author’s (Tom Berenger) self-help book inspires a journalist (Kevin Connolly), his editor (Stallone), a former convict (Kyra Sedgwick), a mobster (Kelsey Grammer) and others to re-evaluate their choices and work toward creating better lives. The drama from writer-director John Herzfeld features a supporting cast that includes Danny Aiello, Terry Crews, Thomas Jane, Tom Sizemore and Danny Trejo. Avenging Angelo features Stallone as Frankie Delano, a tough as nails bodyguard, protecting a mafia kingpin’s (Anthony Quinn) daughter (Madeleine Stowe) from being the next hit. In Shade, three small-time grifters devise a plan to beat the ultimate card mechanic — The Dean (Stallone) — in L.A.’s underground gambling scene.

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Shade will also be released separately on Blu-ray Dec. 17.

Capping Off Rambo’s Journey

Sylvester Stallone’s classic film characters have spanned decades, and over the years the actor-screenwriter has learned to stay true to their essence.

That’s what he did with the action hero in Rambo: Last Blood, the supposedly final chapter in the “Rambo” series, available digital and 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray Combo Pack, and DVD from Lionsgate.

“There’s always that temptation that bigger is better,” Stallone said in the special features. As with the evolution of Rocky Balboa, another of his iconic characters, it’s more effective “to downsize and get back to what made it good in the first place,” he said.

The fifth film in the “Rambo” franchise finds Stallone’s tortured warrior John Rambo in a brief moment of relative peace before he must unearth his ruthless combat skills to exact revenge in a final mission. Stallone called it a “kind of Shakespearean finale” steeped in drama and emotional upheaval.

“The culmination you know is going to be seismic; it’s going to be volcanic,” he said.

One of the major sets in the film is a series of tunnels that Rambo constructs underneath his bucolic farm, where he lives with his niece and her grandmother.

“He’s a horse trainer now, and he’s fairly successful, and he’s come to terms and is at peace with himself except for these momentary lapses [of PTSD],” said Stallone.

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“More than the man cave, I think it’s this tunnel that is the path to and from his psyche, his memories,” said director Adrian Grünberg in the special features. “You see all his past paraphernalia, his knifes, his weapons, his photos, his music, all that past that he says in the movie he wants to keep a lid on, so I think literally the earth is a lid that separates this world down below.”

That lid on the famous Rambo drive for vengeance blows when his niece is kidnapped in Mexico.

“This is everyone’s worst nightmare … children being abducted,” Stallone said in the extras. “What can be worse?”

This trial draws a harrowing and deeper picture of Rambo.

“We’ve told the entire odyssey of a man’s arc,” Stallone said in the extras. “By the end of this film, he’s sacrificed everything.”

Will it truly be the last time audiences see this uniquely flawed action hero?

“It is an open ending,” Stallone said.

Rambo: Last Blood Best Buy-exclusive Steelbook

 

 

AN EXPLOSIVE CATALOG IN 4K

All four other installments in the saga of Rambo also are available on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray:

 

 

First Blood (1982)

Stallone originates the role of war hero John Rambo. An ex-Green Beret haunted by memories of Vietnam, he was once the perfect killing machine. Now he’s searching for peace, but finds instead an overzealous, small-town sheriff who’s spoiling for a fight. All hell breaks loose when an unjustly imprisoned Rambo escapes and becomes the target of a massive manhunt. He must use all his cunning, combat skills and weapons training to stay alive and outwit his pursuers. The film co-stars Brian Dennehy and Richard Crenna.

 

 

Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)

Stallone is back as John Rambo in a sequel to First Blood, with a screenplay by Stallone and James Cameron (Titanic). Rambo’s survival skills are tested on a top-secret mission that takes him back to the jungles of Vietnam in search of American POWs. When Rambo is double-crossed, he must defeat savage enemies equipped with deadly firepower, armed with just a bow, arrows and knife.

 

 

Rambo III (1988)

Stallone’s Rambo has finally begun to find inner peace inside a monastery — until his friend and mentor Col. Sam Trautman (Richard Crenna) shows up to ask for his help on a top-secret mission in Afghanistan. A war-weary Rambo declines, but when Trautman is captured, Rambo erupts into a one-man firestorm to rescue his former commanding officer and decimate the enemy.

 

 

Rambo (2008)

After spending several years in northern Thailand operating a longboat on the Salween River, Stallone’s Rambo reluctantly agrees to carry a group of Christian missionaries into war-torn Burma. When the aid workers are captured by ruthless Nationalist Army soldiers, Rambo leads a group of battle-scarred, combat-hardened mercenaries on a mission to rescue the prisoners.

 

 

 

 

Extras on Last Blood include the “Drawing Last Blood: Multipart Production Diary” featurette, the “From First Note to Last Blood: Music for the Massacres” featurette and the theatrical trailer.

‘Rambo: Last Blood’ Shooting to Home Video in December

Lionsgate will release Rambo: Last Blood through digital retailers Dec. 3, and on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Dec. 17.

The fifth film in the “Rambo” franchise finds Sylvester Stallone back as one of the greatest action heroes of all time, John Rambo, who must confront his past and unearth his ruthless combat skills to exact revenge in a final mission. The cast includes Paz Vega, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, Adrianna Barraza, Yvette Monreal, Joaquin Cosio and Oscar Jaenada.

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The film earned $44.5 million at the domestic box office.

Extras include the featurettes “Drawing Last Blood: Multipart Production Diary” and “From First Note to Last Blood: Music for the Massacres,” plus the theatrical trailer.

The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray will include Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos.

Stallone’s ‘Rambo,’ ‘Lock Up’ Coming to 4K UHD Blu-ray From Lionsgate

Lionsgate will release a pair of Sylvester Stallone movies for the first time on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc, with 2008’s Rambo due Sept. 3, and 1989’s Lock Up due Sept. 10.

The fourth film in the “Rambo” franchise stars Stallone reprising his role as the legendary war hero, called back to action in Thailand to help Christian missionaries against ruthless soldiers. The cast also includes Julie Benz, Matthew Marsden and Graham McTavish.

The Rambo 4K combo pack will include both the theatrical cut and unrated extended cut, plus Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos sound. Extras include Stallone commentary on the theatrical cut, deleted scenes, a theatrical trailer, a production diary and several behind-the-scenes featurettes.

In Lock Up, Stallone plays a down-on-his-luck convict who can’t seem to escape the wrath of the warden (Donald Sutherland).

The Lock Up 4K combo pack includes Dolby Vision HDR, plus interviews with Stallone, Sutherland and other cast members, the original trailer, and three behind-the-scenes featurettes.

Third ‘Escape Plan’ Due July 2 From Lionsgate

Lionsgate will release Escape Plan: The Extractors on Blu-ray, DVD and digital 4K Ultra HD July 2.

Sylvester Stallone returns as Ray Breslin in the third film of the “Escape Plan” franchise. The original film was released in 2013 and earned $25 million at the domestic box office. Escape Plan 2: Hades was released direct-to-video in 2018.

Dave Bautista and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson also reprise their roles from the sequel, as the trio break into an impenetrable Latvian prison to rescue Breslin’s girlfriend (Jaime King) and a tech mogul’s daughter. New cast members include Devon Sawa and Daniel Bernhardt.

Extras include a commentary with director John Herzfeld, Stallone, Sawa, and Bernhardt; and the featurette “The Making of Escape Plan: The Extractors.”

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Four Brits Sentenced to Multiyear Jail Terms for Illegally Streaming Hollywood Movies

Four British men have been sentenced a combined 4.5 years jail time for operating a website that afforded users illegal access to Hollywood movies, including Lionsgate U.K.’s The Expendables 3, before they were available in theatres.

Prosecutors say the group – which included Steven Pegram (40), Mark Rollin (37), Paul Taylor (54), and Alan Stephenson (42) — defrauded Lionsgate, Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox and other studios of more than $11 million in combined box office revenue, according to the Motion Picture Association of America.

Specifically, the group hacked Lionsgate’s U.K. server in 2014 through a third-party cloud-based content management service, accessing The Expendables 3 DVD screener and other content and then posting the title on their file-sharing website, TheFoundry.name.

Lionsgate estimates it lost about $2 million on the scheme. Other hacked titles included Warner Bros.’ Godzilla and 20th Century Fox’s X-Men: Days of Future Past — the two movies suffering more than $5 million in lost revenue.

“These defendants set up and ran a site which allowed users to download films for free via BitTorrent, including the Expendables 3 before its release in the cinema,”Leigh Webber, with the specialist fraud division of the U.K.’s Crown Prosecution Service, said in a statement.“All of them had a clear knowledge of what the site was used for and were well aware they were breaching the copyright of the production companies.”

The Expendables 3, the last installment in Sylvester Stallone’s ensemble action franchise, resulted in numerous litigation settlements between Lionsgate and pirate sites, including Hulkfile, Played.to, LimeTorrents, Dotsemper and Swankshare.

Creed II

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 3/5/19;
Warner/MGM;
Drama;
Box Office $115.7 million;
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $44.95 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sports action violence, language, and a scene of sensuality.
Stars Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Wood Harris, Andre Ward, Russell Hornsby, Florian Munteanu, Dolph Lundgren.

Given the premise used in 2015’s Creed to restart the “Rocky” franchise, this sequel is more or less exactly the movie the series’ fans were waiting for.

The eighth film in the “Rocky” franchise continues the story of Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan), the young boxer who is still haunted by the legacy of his father, Apollo. Adonis faces a new challenge in the form of Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), son of former Russian champion Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), who Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) famously defeated in 1985’s Rocky IV.

The fact Apollo died as a result of an exhibition match against Ivan Drago gives Adonis added motivation, as he seeks retribution for his family name. But Rocky doesn’t think the match is worth it, pointing out Adonis has bigger priorities in his life now, such as starting a family with Bianca (Tessa Thompson).

Creed II

While the film serves as a natural sequel to both Rocky IV and Creed, it borrows a lot from Rocky III in terms of story structure. While much of the plotting fits in well with the “what happens next” soap opera flow of the “Rocky” movies in general, the film is bound together by the motif of legacy, in particular the influence parents and children can have on each other that transcends generations.

In fact, two of the featurettes included with the Blu-ray are built upon this idea. The first is “The Rocky Legacy,” a 15-minute history of the “Rocky” films hosted by Lundgren that examines why the franchise has endured. The second is the seven-minute “Fathers and Sons” featurette, which takes a deeper look at how the desire to build a legacy impacts the characters involved.

Interestingly, the film adds depth to the Drago character beyond his role as the cookie-cutter villain from Rocky IV. He blames Rocky for his loss of stature following their match, and through his son he seeks a measure of revenge as well, against the fighter now seen as Rocky’s protégé.

There’s a six-minute featurette devoted to the casting of amateur boxer Munteanu as the younger Drago, and he certainly casts an intimidating shadow when standing next to Jordan’s Creed (not unlike seeing Lundgren’s towering frame over Stallone 33 years prior).

The six-minute “The Women of Creed II” focuses on the other side of the equation, Thompson as Bianca and Phylicia Rashad as Adonis’ mother representing the impact his professional struggles have on his personal life.

Finally, there are four deleted scenes running a total of 10 minutes, and a couple of them will be of particular interest to longtime “Rocky” fans.

One features the funeral of Spider Rico, who was the first boxer Rocky was seen fighting during a sparring session in the first film back in 1976. This scene adds a bit of context to one of the film’s plot developments.

Another scene serves as an epilogue to the main story, as the characters encounter each other in the locker room after the climactic fight.

While the business of Hollywood is such that it would be unwise to rule out another sequel, the conclusion of Creed II leaves the characters and viewers in a place where it would be a satisfying conclusion to the series if the particulars involved chose to leave it at that.

At least, until 2045, when the next entry sees Mickey’s great-great-grandson challenge the grandson of Clubber Lang to an MMA fight. Stay tuned, fight fans.

Warner’s ‘A Star Is Born’ Shoots to No. 1 on Redbox Charts

It may have picked up just one Academy Award (Best Original Song) from its eight nominations, but A Star Is Born triumphed on both Redbox charts the week leading up to the Oscar ceremony Feb. 24.

Warner’s 2018 update of the classic film story landed at No. 1 on both the Redbox kiosk chart, which tracks DVD and Blu-ray Disc rentals at the company’s more than 40,000 red vending machines, and the Redbox On Demand chart, which tracks transactional video-on-demand (TVOD), both electronic sellthrough (EST) and streaming, the week ended Feb. 24.

The film, which earned $210.9 million at the box office and debuted on disc Feb. 19, stars Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga — both nominated for Oscars for their performances — as two musicians who come together on stage and in life in a complex journey through the beauty and heartbreak of a relationship struggling to survive.

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Four other new releases appeared on the Redbox disc chart for the week. Lionsgate’s Robin Hood, another retelling of a classic story, starring Taron Egerton as Robin Hood and Jamie Foxx as Little John, debuted at No. 2. Paramount Pictures’ Overlord, a story produced by J.J. Abrams about a team of American paratroopers who encounter Nazi super-soldiers, entered the chart at No. 4. Lionsgate’s Backtrace, an action thriller starring Sylvester Stallone, debuted at No. 8. And 20th Century Fox’s Can You Ever Forgive Me? — which earned three Oscar noms, for Best Actress (Melissa McCarthy), Best Supporting Actor (Richard E. Grant) and Best Adapted Screenplay — entered the disc chart at No. 10.

Fox’s Bohemian Rhapsody, which won all but one of the five Oscars for which it was nominated, including Best Actor for Rami Malek, finished its second week in disc release at No. 3, falling from No. 1.

On the digital chart, Bohemian Rhapsody fell one spot to No. 2, behind A Star Is Born, which shot up the chart from No. 10 the previous week. Robin Hood took the third spot, followed by Paramount’s Tyler Perry comedy Nobody’s Fool at No. 4 (from No. 2 the previous week), Overlord at No. 5 and Can You Ever Forgive Me? at No. 6.

Interestingly, two titles released in the fall of last year appeared on the digital chart. Sony Pictures’ Nov. 13 release Searching, which stars John Cho as a distraught father who sifts through his missing daughter’s digital footprint determined to find her, appeared at No. 9. And Universal Pictures’ Sept. 25 release Skyscraper, an actioner starring Dwayne Johnson, came in at No. 10.

 

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

  1. A Star Is Born (2018) (New) — Warner
  2. Robin Hood (2018) (New) — Lionsgate
  3. Bohemian Rhapsody — Fox
  4. Overlord (New) — Paramount
  5. The Grinch — Universal
  6. Nobody’s Fool — Paramount
  7. Widows — Fox
  8. Backtrace (New) — Lionsgate
  9. The Girl in the Spider’s Web — Sony
  10. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (New) — Fox

 

Top Digital, Redbox On Demand, Week Ended Feb. 24:

  1. A Star Is Born (2018) — Warner
  2. Bohemian Rhapsody — Fox
  3. Robin Hood (2018) — Lionsgate
  4. Nobody’s Fool — Paramount
  5. Overlord — Paramount
  6. Can You Ever Forgive Me? — Fox
  7. The Grinch — Universal
  8. Widows — Fox
  9. Searching — Sony
  10. Skyscraper — Universal