Sony, Paramount Join Latest Movie Delay Bandwagon

Next year (2021) is shaping up to be a busy one for Hollywood. Sony Pictures and Paramount Pictures have joined Disney and Warner Bros. in further delaying high-profile 2020 theatrical releases until 2021 due to ongoing surges in coronavirus infections in some parts of the country.

To date, the United States leads the world with more than 4 million infections, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Paramount announced that another Tom Cruise starrer, Top Gun: Maverick, sequel to 1986’s Top Gun, has been delayed until July 2, 2021 from its previously delayed Dec. 23, 2020 debut. The studio previously pushed back Mission: Impossible 7 to Nov. 19, 2021 from its original July 21, 2021 date. Mission: Impossible 8 had been scheduled for Aug. 5, 2022. It now has a tentative Nov. 4, 2022, release appointment.

Follow us on Instagram

Sci-fi franchise A Quiet Place saw sequel Part II delayed again to next April from the upcoming Labor Day weekend. The John Krasinski/Emily Blunt starrer had been originally slated for March 8 — just as the COVID-19 pandemic gained traction globally.

Paramount, which earlier this month inked catalog movie license deals with NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service for 2021, 2022 and 2023, also pushed back screen debuts for Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Jackass, Under the Boardwalk and The Tiger’s Apprentice.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Sony Pictures is delaying its latest “Spider-Man” sequel to Dec. 17, 2021, from Nov. 5, 2021. The third installment starring Tom Holland as the webbed crusader had originally been slated for July 16, 2021. Separately, Sony Pictures Animation’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 2 is now scheduled for Oct. 7, 2022, from April 2022.

Days of Thunder

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Paramount;
Drama;
$29.99 Blu-ray, $29.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13.’
Stars Tom Cruise, Robert Duvall, Randy Quaid, Nicole Kidman, Michael Rooker, Cary Elwes, John C. Reilly, Fred Dalton Thompson.

Almost immediately upon its release in 1990, Days of Thunder was labeled by critics as a car racing version of Top Gun, a reputation that isn’t exactly unearned.

Days of Thunder shares the same production team of Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson, the same director in Tony Scott, and also stars Tom Cruise, who plays another hotshot looking to fulfill his need for speed with reckless abandon.

In this case, Cruise’s character is named Cole Trickle, an Indy circuit washout looking to make a name for himself in NASCAR. He takes on the mentorship of a master pit crew chief played by Robert Duvall, but a devastating crash shakes his confidence.

Robert Towne’s screenplay (with Cruise sharing a story credit) throws not one but two rivals at Trickle. First is Michael Rooker’s Rowdy Burns, the top dog of the circuit whose career is cut short in the same wreck that impairs Cole. When they become fast friends due to shared misfortune, Rowdy asks Cole to take over his racing team, setting up the showdown with rival No. 2, another rookie driver named Russ Wheeler, played by Cary Elwes, whose blink-and-you’ll-miss-it introduction obscures a rise through the ranks so unexpectedly rapid that one wonders why the movie isn’t about him.

The requisite love interest, which like with Top Gun comes with professional complications, is Cole’s and Rowdy’s neurologist, played by Nicole Kidman, who was 22 at the time of filming lest anyone wish to question the likelihood of her character’s medical credentials. The swirling rumors of the day suggested Cruise became enamored with Kidman after seeing her in 1989’s Dead Calm and arranged for her to be in Days of Thunder so they could meet. When 1990 began he had been married to Mimi Rogers, but divorced her in February. Cruise and Kidman were married from December 1990, six months after Days of Thunder hit theaters, to 2001.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

For the most part, Days of Thunder comes across as a series of exciting racing scenes and establishing shots of NASCAR speedways strung together with a by-the-numbers plot and some perfunctory dialogue. Duvall is as good as he usually is, while Cole Trickle is such a stock character in the Tom Cruise mold that naming him is more a screenwriting formality than a necessity of the story.

This new edition of Days of Thunder is presented as both a standalone Blu-ray under the “Paramount Presents” label, as well as a 4K Ultra HD disc with digital copy. The 4K version doesn’t come with a separate Blu-ray Disc, which is something of a break from the industry norm of 4K/Blu-ray combo packs, so consumers will have to pick whether they want the higher-definition resolution of the 4K version or the fancy Paramount Presents slipcover with fold-out movie poster. The film looks great either way, particularly because the racing footage is so good.

Follow us on Instagram

The new Days of Thunder Blu-ray seems to have avoided the fate of most of the other titles in the Paramount Presents line, which to this point has offered Blu-ray re-releases with most of the bonus materials from previous editions left out this go-around (it seems anything previously available only in SD got the axe, with maybe a new short retrospective featurette to replace it).  That’s because the previous Days of Thunder Blu-ray from 2008 had zero extras on it aside from the film’s trailer, so anything offered here is a step up. The extras, sparse as they may be, are the same on both the Blu-ray and 4K discs.

The new discs don’t include the trailer, but they do have a seven-minute “Filmmaker Focus” featurette which is essentially a retrospective interview with Bruckheimer interspersed with clips from the movie.

There’s also an isolated audio track containing just Hans Zimmer’s musical score, his first of many collaborations with the Bruckheimer/Simpson team. Zimmer’s music is a highlight of the movie, but compared with the rest of Zimmer’s works it comes across as one of the more generic efforts in a career built on establishing a baseline sound for reliable action cues.

Top Gun

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Paramount;
Action;
$14.99 Blu-ray, $22.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG.’
Stars Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis, Val Kilmer, Anthony Edwards, Tom Skerritt, Michael Ironside, Rick Rossovich, James Tolkan, Tim Robbins, Meg Ryan.

The new Blu-ray editions of 1986’s Top Gun were clearly timed to coincide with what would have been the theatrical release of the film’s long-awaited sequel. However, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic shutting down theaters, Top Gun: Maverick was pushed back six months to Dec. 23.

The new Blu-ray does include a trailer for the new film, plus a new six-minute “The Legacy of Top Gun” featurette in which Tom Cruise and some of the filmmakers behind the sequel discuss the impact of the director Tony Scott’s original, which has become an iconic depiction of fighter aircraft combat action. The film still holds up well (despite some cheesy over-the-top machismo that is part of its charm).

Of course, the other thing the film is well known for is its beach volleyball scene that has fueled the film’s reputation as a homoerotic fantasy. The volleyball scene has become so intrinsically associated with the film that a recent board game based on the film lets players either try their hand at the airplane combat of the famed Top Gun dogfighting school, or simulate the volleyball game.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The bright, vivid image of the new Blu-ray transfer shows off every detail, to the point where it’s impossible not to notice how almost everyone is sweating profusely in practically every scene (it must be hot on those airplanes and carriers). The disc also brings out the film’s legendary soundtrack in a 5.1 mix that perfectly services the action.

The other extra listed as new for this edition is the five-part half-hour retrospective “On Your Six: Thirty Years of Top Gun.” It’s filled with great stories about the production ( such as Scott getting a Navy captain to turn an aircraft carrier around in order to get the perfect lighting from the sun). It was obviously filmed a few years ago, since this year is the 34th anniversary of the film, and Cruise talks about having just read an early draft of the sequel screenplay (the same sequel that is now finished and waiting to hit theaters).

The Blu-ray also includes all the bonus material from previous releases, including a commentary with the filmmakers and naval experts; storyboards; vintage interviews; four music videos (which have not aged particularly well); an earlier behind-the-scenes featurette from the 2008 Blu-ray; and an interesting look at the real Top Gun school, also from 2008.

Follow us on Instagram!

Paramount Rolls Out Catalog Promotion, Aimed at Home Audiences, for ‘Top Gun’, Other Cruise Films

Paramount Pictures April 28 announced that the 1986 Tom Cruise classic Top Gun will become available for the first time on 4K Ultra HD Digital on May 13 — which fans branded as “Top Gun Day” more than a decade ago — with a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc release following on May 19.

The film, directed by Tony Scott, was a huge box office hit, earning $356 million — the equivalent of $840.2 million in today’s dollars. The U.S. Library of Congress in 2015 selected the film for preservation in the National Film Registry, finding it “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

A sequel, Top Gun: Maverick, is scheduled for theatrical release on December 23, 2020. The release date was pushed back from June 24 due to the coronavirus pandemic, which led to the mid-March closure of movie theaters.

Top Gun has been newly remastered for its home release in 4K Ultra HD. Home releases also will include a brand-new featurette that explores the film’s legacy and continued popularity through new interviews with Cruise, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and members of the cast of Top Gun: Maverick, including John Hamm, Miles Teller, Glen Powell and more.

The home release also includes a retrospective segment from 2016 looking back at 30 years of Top Gun. Additional previously released bonus content on the disc includes commentary by Bruckheimer, director Scott, co-screenwriter Jack Epps Jr. and naval experts; “Danger Zone: The Making of Top Gun”; a look inside the real Top Gun; original theatrical promotional material; music videos; and more.

Paramount is also debuting on 4K Ultra HD two other Tom Cruise films on May 13 (digital) and May 19 (disc): Days of Thunder (1990) and War of the Worlds (2005).

Days of Thunder reteams Cruise with director Scott and producer Bruckheimer. Known for its spectacular racing action, the movie further cemented Cruise’s star status.  The new 4K Ultra HD release includes a brand-new featurette looking back on the production with Bruckheimer.

The Steven Spielberg-helmed War of the Worlds is a retelling of the H.G. Wells classic, which shot into notoriety in 1938 when a radio drama panicked listeners who thought it was real.

The film earned more than $600 million worldwide, the equivalent of nearly $800 million in today’s dollars.

The new 4K UHD/Blu-ray Combo Pack includes access to a digital copy of the film, along with over an hour of previously released bonus content, including multiple behind-the-scenes featurettes, production diaries, a look at the characters, and more.

‘Space Station’ Circulating to 4K UHD From Mill Creek

Space Station, the first cinematic journey to the International Space Station, is soaring to 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and digital combo pack July 9 from Mill Creek Entertainment.

Audiences can experience life in zero gravity aboard the space station in this top-grossing Imax documentary narrated by Tom Cruise that explores the orbiting laboratory where astronauts develop technologies to make possible future voyages to Mars and provide solutions to earthbound problems.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The release includes one hour of bonus footage, including interviews with Tom Cruise, director Toni Myers and the astronauts aboard and two tours of the station.

 

Paramount Home Entertainment Posts 12% Quarterly Domestic Revenue Gain

Paramount Home Media Distribution Feb. 5 reported first-quarter (ended Dec. 31, 2018) revenue of $178 million, down less than 3% from revenue of $183 million during the previous-year period.

Domestic revenue increased 12% to $111 million, while international home entertainment sales declined 20% to $67 million.

The lower home entertainment revenue reflected a decrease in the sales of DVDs and Blu-ray Discs, partially offset by digital sales growth.

The studio’s top-selling home entertainment release in 2018 was Mission: Impossible – Fallout, which generated $18.7 million in combined DVD/Blu-ray Disc sales, according to The-Numbers.com.

Subscribe HERE for FREE Daily Newsletter!

Theatrical revenue increased 49% to $149 million from $100 million due to the performances of Bumblebee and Instant Family compared with releases in the prior year quarter.

Bumblebee, starring Hailee Steinfeld, has grossed more than $450 million at the global box office to date, and is “solidly” profitable, according to Viacom.

Domestic box office revenue increased 44% to $89 million, while international revenue grew 58% to $60 million.

License revenue from television production increased 84% due to the first quarter release of Netflix’s “The Haunting of Hill House,” and season three of “Berlin Station” on Epix, among other titles.

Last November, Paramount entered into an agreement with Netflix to produce original films for the streaming service.

Overall license revenue increased 3% to $220 million from $213 million last year.

“Paramount delivered double-digit topline growth and an eighth straight quarter of improved year-over-year adjusted operating results, driven by worldwide theatrical gains, continued momentum at Paramount Television and international theme park revenue,” Viacom CEO Bob Bakish said in a statement.

Mission: Impossible — Fallout

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 12/4/18;
Paramount;
Action;
Box Office $220.16 million;
$29.99 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray, $37.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for violence and intense sequences of action, and for brief strong language.
Stars Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Rebecca Ferguson, Henry Cavill, Sean Harris, Vanessa Kirby, Angela Bassett, Michelle Monaghan, Wes Bentley, Alec Baldwin. 

The latest entry in the “Mission: Impossible” franchise brings together elements from all the movies to craft a top-notch, high-energy action adventure that could go down as a benchmark in the genre.

Central to the film’s success is star Tom Cruise, who took on many of the most dangerous stunt sequences himself. This emphasis on practical stunts lends a verisimilitude other contemporary action movies would be hard-pressed to match, as they so often resort to frenetic editing to mask underwhelming stuntwork or visual effects.

What’s even more remarkable about this is that Cruise is now 56 years old. By comparison, Roger Moore was 58 by the time he walked away from James Bond, when critics were saying he seemed way too old for the part. Even more astonishing, as has been pointed out online, perpetual old guy Wilford Brimley was five years younger in the quintessential senior citizen movie Cocoon than Cruise was in this movie. And yet Cruise shows no signs of slowing down (though a broken ankle during one of his stunts does raise the question of how far is too far).

In Mission: Impossible — Fallout, the sixth film in the franchise based on the classic TV series, Cruise personally executes a lengthy skydiving sequence, pilots a helicopter through a narrow mountain pass and races a motorcycle without a helmet through the streets of Paris. Not to mention his signature running scenes that have become a staple of the franchise. All this comes, of course, after he learned to hold his breath for five minutes for the previous movie.

In Fallout, Cruise’s Ethan Hunt has to track down stolen plutonium that got into the hands of terrorists because his personal attachment to members of his team led him to save them instead, compromising the safety of the world (and highlighting a big reason why James Bond usually works alone).

Hunt’s IMF squad is then saddled with a CIA observer (Henry Cavill) as they attempt to recover the plutonium again, which now involves a group that wants to free Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), the bad guy from the previous film who ran a covert network of rogue secret agents looking to undermine world governments.

Another subplot deals with Ethan’s relationship with Julia (Michelle Monaghan) from Mission: Impossible III, and how they had to part ways so he could continue to save the world without putting her at risk. (Cleaning up this storyline was one of Cruise’s main goals for the film, he says in the supplements).

What’s clear from the bonus materials is that, aside from the flexibility Cruise doing his own stunts being a huge advantage for the film’s editors, director Christopher McQuarrie and the writers were still making up the story as they were filming (which isn’t unlike Ethan’s methodology for completing the mission).

McQuarrie is the first person to direct a second “Mission: Impossible” movie, and even though this film is very much a direct sequel to his Rogue Nation, he insisted on bringing in a new production team to give the film a different style than his previous work, and the results speak for themselves. McQuarrie’s action is kinetic and thrilling while maintaining a clear sense of space and geography so the audience can easily track where the characters are and what is going on.

A number of the action sequences were shot using Imax cameras, and the Blu-ray aspect ratio adjusts to fill the full screen during these scenes.

The Blu-ray comes loaded with bonus materials, including three audio commentaries — a rarity in a day and age when most new home videos are reluctant to include even one.

McQuarrie is involved in two of the commentaries — sharing one with Cruise and another with editor Eddie Hamilton. The McQuarrie/Cruise pairing, amusingly dubbed “Tom Cruise University” at one point, is more an exercise in self-praise and an affirmation of how much fun they were having crafting the film. The track with Hamilton gets more into the filmmaking process in general.

The third commentary involves composer Lorne Balfe, who discusses his creative process and how he went about incorporating the iconic “Mission: Impossible” theme. Fittingly, there’s a score-only audio option to show off the terrific music.

The disc also includes an introduction of sorts in the form of a PSA-type video with Cruise and McQuarrie discussing motion-smooting settings on new TVs and telling viewers they should turn it off to avoid the movie looking like glossy videotape.

All the featurettes and behind-the-scenes material are on a bonus disc, with the main piece being “Behind the Fallout,” a grouping of seven featurettes that run a total of 53 minutes.

Balfe returns in a five-minute featurette to discuss mixing the music for the foot chase sequence. There’s also a three-minute featurette called “The Ultimate Mission” in which Cruise offers his own reflections on the franchise.

The bonus disc also includes the theatrical trailer and storyboards for several sequences, plus a four-minute montage of deleted scenes, offered with or without the director’s commentary.

The deleted scenes are alluded to frequently in the commentaries, but the montage is mostly just the visuals of the scenes set to music, with minimal sound effects and no dialogue. McQuarrie says he usually prefers not to show deleted scenes but decided to present them in a musical montage as a compromise because he really wanted audiences to see the hard work that went into them.

While a couple work fine without sound, it probably would have been more effective to just present the scenes as a disc typically would, rather than make a music video out of them.

Paramount Releasing ‘Mission: Impossible — Fallout’ Digitally Nov. 20, on Disc Dec. 4

Paramount Home Media Distribution will release Mission: Impossible — Fallout digitally Nov. 20 and on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Dec. 4.

Tom Cruise returns as agent Ethan Hunt, this time leading his IMF team (Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Rebecca Ferguson) in a race to stop a nuclear threat following a mission that goes awry. Henry Cavill, Sean Harris, Angela Bassett, Michelle Monaghan and Alec Baldwin also star.

Written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, the sixth film in the “Mission: Impossible” franchise earned more than $219 million at the domestic box office.

Blu-ray extras include a series of “Behind the Fallout” featurettes; a deleted scenes montage with optional commentary by McQuarrie and editor Eddie Hamilton; three feature commentaries — one with McQuarrie and Cruise,  one with McQuarrie and Hamilton, and one with composer Lorne Balfe; an isolated score track; a foot chase musical breakdown; “The Ultimate Mission” featurette; storyboards; and the theatrical trailer.

Fallout will also be included in the new Mission: Impossible 6-Movie Collection on Blu-ray and 4K UHD BD.

Viacom CEO: We’re Seeing Incredible Turnaround at Paramount

Among major studios, Paramount Pictures has taken an outsized share of fiscal hits in recent years — only generating its first operating profit since 2015 in March.

Speaking Sept. 12 at Goldman Sachs 27th Annual Communacopia confab in New York, Bob Bakish, CEO of corporate parent Viacom, said Paramount is a very different place today — thanks in part to a trio of theatrical hits and increased television content production, among other initiatives.

Specifically, low budget titles A Quiet Place and romantic comedy Book Club, together with Mission: Impossible – Fallout, the sixth installment in the Tom Cruise-starring franchise, overperformed at the box office – with A Quiet Placeand Book Club now generating significant sellthrough revenue.

Indeed, A Quiet Place grossed more than $188 million domestically, making it the second-highest grossing horror film in the U.S. over the past decade. The film has earned more than $332 million worldwide with a production cost of approximately $20 million.

Released in May 2018, Book Club earned more than $68 million at the domestic box office — more than six times its $10 million acquisition cost. The titles were released in retail (digital and physical) channels on July 10 and Aug. 28, respectively.

“Both those films are killing it in transactions for us right now,” Bakish said.

The executive said that when combined with the global box office of Fallout– the largest in Mission: Impossible franchise history, Paramount has turned the fiscal corner.

“Take those three things together, and there’s no question the [Paramount] mountain is back,” Bakish said.

In addition to movies, Paramount Television has upped content production from nine series on broadcast and online to 16 shows this year and is poised to generate $400 million in revenue.

Notable series include “13 Reasons Why” for Netflix; “The Alienist” for TNT and “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” from Amazon Prime Video. Original movie production for third-party SVOD players has begun with announcements pending, according to Bakish.

“Paramount is not only back in the TV production business, it’s a hit maker,” said Bakish. “It’s a great opportunity.”

What Viacom is not doing is developing a mass market SVOD service to compete with Netflix.

“That business is looking more and more crowded,” Bakish said. “It is a very capital-intensive game if you look what program expenses at those platforms are.”

Instead Viacom is approaching over-the-top video with strategy targeting niche SVOD services such as Noggin.com and distribution through third-party platforms such as Amazon Channels.

“Putting Noggin on Amazon Channels more than doubled subs rather quickly,” Bakish said. “And we’re in the late stages of adding other distributors. We think that’s a very effective strategy.”

Viacom is launching an ad-supported OTT video service featuring library content, and creating third-party licensed content featuring Viacom brands MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET, etc.

Bakish says its “part promotion, part revenue,” with digital initiatives produced under Viacom Digital Studios, which launched nine months ago.

“We’re feeling very good about the momentum we have going into the [current] fourth quarter. We are very focused on operating the assets we already own. It’s a quest for scale both inside and outside the company,” he said.

 

 

 

Netflix Releases First Screen Shot of Olivia Colman as the Queen in ‘The Crown’

Netflix July 16 released on Twitter a screen shot of British actress Olivia Colman playing Queen Elizabeth II on upcoming seasons three and four of its immensely popular original series, “The Crown.”

The 44-year-old Colman, who is seen holding a cup of tea, has won three BAFTA Awards, three BIFA Awards, a Golden Globe Award (“The Night Manager”) and has two Emmy nominations in her career.

Season three is currently in production and slated for release in 2019, covering the time period from the early 1960s to 1970s.

The second season, which just received 13 Emmy nominations, starred Emmy nominees Claire Foy (who already won Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards) as Her Majesty, Matt Smith as Prince Philip, and Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret. Kirby, who co-stars with Tom Cruise in upcoming Mission: Impossible – Fallout, won a BAFTA TV Award for her role in season two.

Newcomers Helena Bonham Carter and Ben Daniels play Margaret and her husband, respectively, in season three, among other cast changes implemented to better reflect the aging of the show’s principal characters.

Netflix releases second quarter financials today after the market’s close.