Twentieth Century Fox, now a division of the Walt Disney Co., has set home release dates for Ad Astra, the science-fiction movie starring Brad Pitt that grossed just under $50 million at the domestic box office.
The film will be released digitally on Dec. 3, and on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Dec. 17.
Pitt portrays astronaut Roy McBride, who springs into action when a mysterious life-threatening event strikes earth. He embarks on a dangerous mission across an unforgiving solar system to uncover the truth about his missing father (Tommy Lee Jones) and his doomed expedition that now, 30 years later, threatens the universe.
Extras on the Blu-ray Disc include two deleted scenes, with an optional audio commentary from director, producer and writer James Gray, and several featurettes, including a making-of documentary and a look at the crew of the Cepheus.
Five months after the Walt Disney Co. closed its acquisition of 20th Century Fox, the fabled film studio’s home entertainment division lumbers on in a protracted state of uncertainty.
New releases are marketed and promoted, often with publicity events to stir up consumer interest. Just last week, the DVD release of FX’s Mayans M.C.: The Complete First Season was celebrated with a party at Heroes Motors in Los Angeles.
And yet it’s hardly business as usual. No one seems to have any idea of how long their jobs will last — or whether they will be offered employment at Disney. Questions, too, remain about the fate of the division. Will it continue to operate as a standalone entity within the Walt Disney Co., or will it be integrated into Disney’s own home entertainment unit, which recently changed its name to Disney Direct-to-Consumer & International.
“No one knows anything,” said one staffer who asked not to be identified. “There have been no discussions, no contracts – we’re all just doing our jobs without knowing for how long we’re going to have jobs.”
Mike Dunn, for years the top home entertainment executive at 20th Century Fox, was among a handful of high-ranking studio executives to leave the studio on March 21, a day after the acquisition closed.
A short time later, Janice Marinelli, head of home entertainment at Disney, set up an office at Fox, reportedly to acquaint herself with the studio’s home entertainment team and see how they operate.
In July, veteran division publicist James Finn, who recently had become co-head of marketing, quietly announced his departure in an email to friends and colleagues. “For nearly 20 years I’ve called Fox my home,” he wrote. “Thank you to my colleagues, my mentors, my family, my friends and my team for making it so much fun.”
Emails sent to his Fox account receive this reply: “James Finn is no longer with Twentieth Century Fox. For immediate assistance please contact Keith Feldman (email@example.com). Thank you.”
Feldman had been Dunn’s top lieutenant, appointed as president of worldwide home entertainment in February 2017 in the wake of his boss’s promotion to president of product strategy and consumer business development.
Feldman did not respond to emails.
Finn’s departure was followed on July 16 by the sudden, and unexpected, departure of Marinelli, a 34-year Disney veteran.
Marinelli had been vetting 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment team members, insiders told Media Play News, and her exit only intensified their confusion over their fate.
A Disney publicist subsequently told Media Play News that Julia Howe, who had been co-head of marketing, with Finn, for 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, was now sole head of marketing.
Two weeks later, it was revealed that Howe, too, would be leaving, with a departure date set for some time in November.
Howe had been considered one of Fox’s rising stars and one of the home entertainment sector’s top marketers.
Howe did not return calls or emails.
Word of Howe’s departure came just one day after Disney CEO Bob Iger on a quarterly earnings call expressed surprise, and dismay, at a fiscal downturn at Fox — specifically, a third-quarter operating loss of $170 million, the opposite of a projected $180 million operating profit.
“One of the biggest issues we faced in the quarter was the performance of the Fox film business,” Iger said on the call. “It was well below what it had been and well below what we thought it would be when we did the acquisition.”
This week, Media Play News received a press release from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment for the Oct. 8 release, on DVD and Blu-ray Disc, of Vikings: Season 5 Vol. 2.
The boilerplate description of the studio has no mention of the Walt Disney Co. It reads exactly as it did before the acquisition: “Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, LLC (TCFHE) is a recognized global industry leader and a subsidiary of Twentieth Century Fox Film.”
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment is preparing for the upcoming home release of the hit music biopic Bohemian Rhapsody with a series of promotions celebrating the film and the music of Queen.
Bohemian Rhapsody arrives on digital Jan. 22, and DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray on Feb. 12.
Rock Like Queen Tour Bus
Fans in New York City (Jan. 25), Austin (Jan. 30), Las Vegas (Feb. 5) and Los Angeles (Feb. 12, the day the disc becomes available in stores) will have a chance to hop on board the double-decker Rock Like Queen Tour Bus and sing along to their favorite Queen songs. Fans can sign up for a spot on the Rock Like Queen Tour registration site (click here to access).
“Get Loud” Extravaganza
The Rock Like Queen Tour will culminate in Los Angeles with a celebration at the legendary Whiskey A-Go-Go on the famed Sunset Strip. The celebration will include musical tributes to Queen and the late lead singer Freddie Mercury, a performance by the Queen Extravaganza tribute band, and more. Free tickets are available online by clicking here.
“Alexa, play Ay-Oh live!”
Fans who can’t make the Rock Like Queen Tour can join the fun at home via a new Amazon Alexa skill that allows fans to sing “Ay-Oh” with Freddie Mercury when they call out “Alexa, play Ay-Oh live!” It’s a recreation of the band’s celebrated 1985 Live Aid 1985, which is prominently featured in the film. Fans can activate the skill via Amazon Alexa devices Jan. 22 through March 31.
#StompforQueen Social Media Celebration
Fox is mounting a social media promotion, inviting fans to “Stomp, Stomp, Clap.” To join #StompforQueen fans can re-share the just-released video found on Bohemian Rhapsody official channels (Facebook/Instagram @bohemianrhapsodymovie and Twitter @BoRhapMovie) or post their very own “Stomp, Stomp, Clap” on any social platform. Fox may include some of the videos in a tribute video to Mercury, launching in February. A worldwide $100,000 donation will be made to the Mercury Phoenix Trust founded by Queen founding members Brian May and Roger Taylor in memory of Mercury.
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment will release the first three films in the “X-Men” series, starring Hugh Jackman and Halle Berry, on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc on Sept. 25.
The three-film collection includes X-Men, X2: X-Men Unite and X-Men: The Last Stand. The trilogy follows the group of mutant outcasts as they learn to control their powers, join forces with their enemies to save all mutants and face the discovery of a “cure” for the mutation that starts a war.
Special features include audio commentaries, behind-the-scenes footage, deleted/extended scenes, “The Mutant Watch,” animatics, and character and production design stills.
The sports film The Miracle Season, starring Helen Hunt, will come out on DVD and digital July 31 from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment and LD Entertainment.
Based on the true story, the film follows the Iowa City West High School girls’ volleyball team as they struggle to compete after the tragic death of their star player, Caroline “Line” Found. They are assisted by a tough-love coach (Hunt) and Caroline’s iron-willed father (William Hurt).
Special features include the featurette “Star Player,” promotional trailers and a photo gallery.
A 30th anniversary edition of the classic action film Die Hard is on the way from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.
The studio on May 15 will release an all-new 4K Ultra HD remaster as well as a regular Blu-ray Disc.
The 1988 film, which launched a five-film franchise, stars Bruce Willis as a New York City police officer who flies to Los Angeles on Christmas Eve to visit his wife at a party in her company’s elegant high-rise (the same Century City building that is now headquarters for 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment). A group of terrorists seize the building and take everyone hostage except for Willis, who must single-handedly save the day.
Fox also has partnered with Walmart to issue the Die Hard 5-Film Box Set, a steelbook-encased collection of all five “Die Hard” movies: the 1988 original, Die Hard 2 (1990), Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995), Live Free or Die Hard (2007) and A Good Day to Die Hard (2013). The five-film set is also due May 15 and will be available only at Walmart stores.
The Blu-ray Disc reissue features no new bonus content, just the same extras as on a previous release:
Commentary by director John McTiernan and production designer Jackson DeGovia
Scene-specific commentary by special effects supervisor Richard Edlund
Subtitle commentary by various cast and crew members
“The News Casts” featurette
Interactive style gallery
Interactive articles from Cinefex and American Cinematographer
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment has set a May 22 release date for Red Sparrow, a suspense-driven spy drama starring Jennifer Lawrence.
The film will be released on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray Disc, and DVD.
As of April 15, Red Sparrow has earned $46.5 million in U.S. theaters.
Lawrence portrays Dominika, a former ballerina forced to enter Sparrow School, a secret government program that thrusts her into a treacherous espionage game between Russia and the CIA. She emerges trained as a lethal agent, but is trapped in a world she desperately wants to escape.
The film was directed by Francis Lawrence (Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Mockingjay Parts 1 & 2) and features a supporting cast that includes Joel Edgerton, Jeremy Irons, Matthias Schoenaerts, Mary-Louise Parker, Charlotte Rampling and Joely Richardson. Bonus material takes viewers inside the making of the film, exploring source material with the author, cast and director commentary, deleted scenes and more.
All three disc releases comes with director commentary and deleted scenes (with optional commentary by director Lawrence). The 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray Disc also include the following:
Maze Runner: The Death Cure, the final installment in the series based on the books, will be released on digital and Movies Anywhere April 10 and 4K Ultra HD Disc, Blu-ray Disc and DVD April 24 from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.
The film earned $57.4 million at the box office.
Fans who purchase Maze Runner: The Death Cure on disc will get an exclusive 24-page prequel origins comic book written by screenwriter T.S. Nowlin. The trilogy boxed set, also due April 24 on Blu-ray and DVD, includes the three films in the series and the exclusive comic book. The Blu-ray trilogy will include an exclusive bandana chosen by fans.
In the conclusion to the “Maze Runner” saga, Thomas leads his group of escaped Gladers on their final mission. To save their friends, they must break into the legendary Last City, a labyrinth that may turn out to be the deadliest maze of all.
Release special features include:
Four featurettes, “The Final Run,” “Dystopia,” “Allies Reunited,” “A Look Back” and “Going Out on Top” (Blu-ray and digital only);
Deleted and extended scenes with optional audio commentary by Wes Ball, T.S. Nowlin and Joe Hartwick Jr. (Blu-ray and digital only);
A gag reel (Blu-ray and digital only);
Visual effects with optional commentary (Blu-ray and digital only);
Audio commentary by Wes Ball, T.S. Nowlin and Joe Hartwick Jr. (on DVD, Blu-ray, UHD, and digital, but not boxed set); and
Picture gallery of more than 300 images (Blu-ray and digital).
Liz West is the new EVP of marketing communications for international theatrical marketing and worldwide home entertainment at Paramount Pictures.
West is a veteran entertainment executive who most recently served as VP of global publicity at the Walt Disney Co.
In her new role at Paramount, she reports to Mary Daily, who joined the studio last September as president of international theatrical marketing and worldwide home media entertainment. Daily previously spent nine years at Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, most recently serving as president and chief marketing officer, worldwide marketing.
In a news release, Paramount says West fills a newly created role in which she will work closely with senior executive teams to drive key worldwide marketing initiatives, including digital and publicity campaigns for international territories.
“As our slate expands and our business grows we are looking to make sure we have a strategic, lifecycle approach to our movies and integrated consumer-facing communications across these areas,” Daily said. “Liz, who is a known strategist with the invaluable combination of both international theatrical and home entertainment experience, is the perfect executive to help lead these efforts.”
West starts at Paramount on Feb. 26.
Her tenure at Disney began in 2006, after eight years at Fox. While at Disney, West won acclaim for leading campaigns for such blockbusters as Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Beauty and the Beast, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and key Disney catalog re-releases, including the successful 3-D re-release in theaters of The Lion King.
West and Daily have worked together before, at Fox, where Daily was VP of Europe from 1995 to 2000. Daily later worked as president, international marketing at Universal Pictures and general manager, programme enterprises at MTV Networks International before returning to Fox in February 2008 as EVP, North America.
Two studios are now backing the proprietary High Dynamic Range platform called HDR10+ that Samsung began pushing last year.
Twentieth Century Fox, Panasonic and Samsung Jan. 5 announced updates for the HDR10+ platform. At the same time, Warner Bros. announced it had joined the coalition, as well.
In the move toward advanced 4K ultra high-definition televisions, including higher resolution, frame rates and enhanced contrast, and color, adoption of High Dynamic Range has been limited to paying Dolby Vision or using HDR10 – an open-source format any CE manufacturer can use without paying a licensing fee.
The companies envision the updated metadata platform being made available to content companies, UHD TVs, Blu-ray Disc players/recorders and set-top box manufacturers, among others, in the new year.
Fox and Samsung begun discussing HDR10+ dynamic metadata in late 2016. It was in February and March that Fox, Samsung and Panasonic came together to build the licensing program for HDR10+. Samsung and Amazon Prime officially joined the group in April 2017. Warner is the second studio to join. Media reports suggest Netflix is considering implementing the format as well.
“Our aim is to deliver an immersive experience no matter what you’re watching,” David Das, SVP, Consumer Electronics Marketing, Samsung Electronics America, said at a Jan. 7 Samsung press event in Las Vegas, on the eve of CES 2018. “That’s why we’re also expanding our HDR10+ platform with industry-leading partners to deliver HDR content into the home.”
“In addition to Amazon, we are partnering with some of the biggest names in entertainment, including 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros., to expand the HDR10+ ecosystem and empower others to leverage an open, royalty-free platform.”
Danny Kaye, EVP of 20th Fox and managing director of the Fox Innovation Lab, said in a statement, “It was important for us to create an open system that is flexible and offers a viewing experience much closer to the filmmaker’s creative intent for the film. Together with Samsung and Panasonic, we aim to standardize the licensing process making it easy for partners, including content creators, television and device manufacturers, to incorporate this technology and improve the viewing experience for all audiences.”
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment says it will support HDR10+ to enable a dynamic metadata solution for Warner Bros. content to Samsung, Panasonic and other HDR10+ capable 4K HDR TVs.
“Warner Bros. has always strived to provide the best next gen home entertainment experience to consumers,” said Jim Wuthrich, president of the Americas and Global Strategy, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. “With HDR10+ dynamic metadata, WB can continue to more accurately bring the filmmakers’ vision of our 2018 releases and our vast catalog of over 75 4K HDR titles to the home across a broad range of HDR10+ capable TVs.”
In an interview with Media Play News at the Samsung press event on Jan. 7, Bill Mandel, VP, Industry Relations at Samsung Research America, said the advantages of HDR10+ are that it is royalty free, a little newer technology, and offers “more precise dynamic meta data control.”
Companies attending CES 2018 in Las Vegas Jan. 9-12 can view the new logo, learn about the license program, including final specifications, adopter agreements and/or sign up to receive a notification when technical specifications for HDR10+ become available at http://www.hdr10plus.org.