Diane Keaton Comedy ‘Poms’ Jumps to Digital July 23, Disc Aug. 6 From Universal

The Diane Keaton comedy Poms will arrive on digital July 23 and Blu-ray, DVD and on demand Aug. 6 from STX Films and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The comedy follows a woman who forms a cheerleading squad at a retirement community. The cast, led by Keaton and Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook), also features Pam Grier (Larry Crowne), Celia Weston (The Intern) and Rhea Perlman (Sing) as the group of women who are determined to defy stereotypes while having the time of their lives.

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‘Madea Family Funeral’ Debuts Atop Disc Sales Chart

Lionsgate’s A Madea Family Funeral debuted at No. 1 on the NPD VideoScan First Alert chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales, the week ended June 8.

The latest film directed by Tyler Perry, the 11th and reportedly final installment in the franchise featuring him playing Madea, earned $73.3 million at the domestic box office.

On the Blu-ray Disc sales chart, however, Madea landed at No. 3, as just 26% of sales of the film were of the Blu-ray Disc format.

The week’s top Blu-ray Disc seller for a third consecutive week was DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, distributed by Universal Pictures. The third “Dragon” film dropped to No. 2 for the week after two weeks in the top spot, selling about 60% as many copies as the debuting Madea.

The week’s No. 3 overall seller and No. 2 Blu-ray was another newcomer, the animated direct-to-video superhero adventure Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a crossover featuring the popular characters that was distributed by Warner Bros. and produced with the assistance of TMNT rights holders Nickelodeon. Blu-ray Disc comprised 82% of its first-week sales.

No. 4 on both charts was Warner’s The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part in its fourth week on shelves.

Another Warner title, Aquaman, was No. 5 on both charts in its 11th week of disc availability.

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The 2016 animated movie The Secret Life of Pets, from Universal, jumped back into the top 20 at No. 18 overall, boosted by the June 7 theatrical release of its sequel.

The Media Play News rental chart for the week ended June 9 also had Madea Family Funeral debut in the top spot.

Universal’s The Upside slipped a spot to No. 2 after two weeks in the top spot.

Dragon slipped to No. 3, while Warner’s Isn’t It Romantic dropped to No. 4 and Lionsgate’s Drunk Parents held at No. 5.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 6-8-19
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 6-9-19
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 6-8-19
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 6-8-19
Sales Report for Week Ended 6-8-19
Digital Sales Snapshot for Week Ended 6-10-19

‘A Dog’s Journey’ to Be Fetched on Digital Aug. 6, Disc Aug. 20 From Universal

A sequel to A Dog’s Purpose, A Dog’s Journey will come out on digital (including Movies Anywhere) Aug. 6 and Blu-ray, DVD and on demand Aug. 20 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

Directed by Emmy winner Gail Mancuso (“Modern Family”), the film continues the tale of lovable farm dog Bailey, as he finds a new destiny, forms an unbreakable bond and learns that some friendships transcend lifetimes. Bailey (voiced again by Josh Gad; Beauty and the BeastFrozen) is living the good life on the Michigan farm of his former “boy” now grown to manhood, Ethan (Dennis Quaid; A Dog’s Purpose, I Can Only Imagine) and Ethan’s wife Hannah (Marg Helgenberger; “C.S.I.,” “Under the Dome”). He has a new playmate, Ethan and Hannah’s baby granddaughter, C.J. (Kathryn Prescott; “24: Legacy”). Everything is great on the farm until C.J.’s mom, Gloria (Betty Gilpin, Isn’t It Romantic, “GLOW”), decides to take C.J. away and chase her own fulfillment in the big city. Ethan asks Bailey to watch over C.J. wherever she goes and thus begins Bailey’s adventure through multiple lives as he, C.J., and C.J.’s best friend Trent experience joy and heartbreak, music and laughter.

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A Dog’s Journey features more than 30 minutes of bonus content including deleted and extended scenes, a gag reel, featurettes with the cast and composer, and a behind-the-scenes look at the animal performances. The release also includes feature commentary by Mancuso.

Universal Puts Bonus Content Menus Front and Center on New Blu-ray Disc, DVD Releases

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment aims to drum up consumer awareness of Blu-ray Disc and DVD bonus content, which the studio believes is a key selling point for its physical product.

Beginning with the urban horror film Us, which arrives on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray on June 18, the studio is introducing a new “bonus features” menu that is prominently displayed on the opening screen, instead of being buried behind layers of disc menu options.

The new menu also features compelling visual clips, rather than mere lines of text, that can be accessed with a single click of the remote.

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To further drive consumer awareness of a disc’s bonus content, supplemental features will begin playing automatically after film’s credits.

Hilary Hoffman, EVP of global marketing for Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, told Media Play News that the studio is playing up bonus content because a new Attitude & Usage study indicates that bonus content continues to be an important selling point for home entertainment enthusiasts, especially among the premium formats.

Heavy buyers are influenced the most, with 34% saying they check for bonus content before they buy a disc. The percentage is even higher (52%) among 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray buyers.

“Our consumers have clearly indicated that bonus content is a vital part of the physical disc offering,” Hoffman said. “By continuing to evolve our products and create a greater, more enhanced viewing experience, we reinforce for them the value in ownership and keep them connected and engaged to our products and the category.”

In addition, Hoffman said, bonus features are often the deciding factor in whether a consumer buys instead of streams. Forty percent of buyers choose to purchase rather than stream because they want the bonus content.

“Only through change and innovation can we hope to keep pace with our consumers’ ever-evolving habits and preferences,” Hoffman said. “We are optimistic that Universal’s latest design enhancements will serve to further buoy consumer engagement in our products. Our hope is to see the entire industry move in this direction.”

At least one other studio also is looking at ways to increase the visibility of bonus content. “Paramount is always looking at improving the experience consumers get when they purchase our movies on Blu-ray or digitally,” said Vincent Marcais, EVP of marketing for Paramount Home Entertainment.  “We are evaluating the bonus menu options while continuing to focus on 1) providing even better ‘extras’ such as alternate endings and deleted scenes on the upcoming  Pet Semetary and 2) presenting our extras on digital platforms so our customers can have even more incentive to purchase.”

‘Dragon’ Again Tops Disc Sales Charts

DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World was the No. 1 title 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 June 1.

The animated film, which is distributed by Universal Pictures, was the top title on both charts for a second consecutive week.

The only newcomer to debut in the top 20 was Sony Pictures’ Outlander: Season Four, which was No. 2 on both charts. Blu-ray Disc accounted for 42% of sales of the latest release from the popular Starz fantasy series.

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No. 3 on the overall chart and No. 4 on the Blu-ray chart was Unviersal’s The Upside.

Warner’s The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part landed at No. 4 on the overall chart and No. 3 on the Blu-ray chart.

No. 5 on both charts was Lionsgate’s Cold Pursuit.

On the Media Play News rental chart for the week ended June 2, The top four remained the same from the previous week: Upside at No. 1, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World at No. 2, Warner’s Isn’t It Romantic at No. 3, and Cold Pursuit at No. 4.

The Lionsgate comedy Drunk Parents debuted as the No. 5 rental.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 6-1-19
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 6-2-19
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 6-1-19
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 6-1-19
Sales Report for Week Ended 6-1-19
Digital Sales Snapshot for Week Ended 6-3-19

‘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.

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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

Drama ‘The Best of Enemies’ Coming to Digital June 18, Disc July 2 From Universal

The Best of Enemies will arrive on digital June 18 and Blu-ray, DVD and on demand July 2 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film stars Academy Award-nominee Taraji P. Henson (Hidden Figures, “Empire”) and Academy Award-winner Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MissouriVice) and features a supporting cast the includes Babou Ceesay (Rogue One: A Star Wars StoryEye in the Sky), Anne Heche (“Chicago P.D.,” “Aftermath”), Wes Bentley (“American Horror Story,” “Yellowstone”), Nick Searcy (The Shape of Water, “Justified”) and Bruce McGill (Lincoln, “Shades of Blue”).

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The drama centers on an unlikely relationship between Ann Atwater (Henson), an outspoken civil rights activist, and C.P. Ellis (Rockwell), a local Ku Klux Klan leader who reluctantly co-chaired a community summit, battling over the desegregation of schools in Durham, N.C., during the racially-charged summer of 1971. The events that unfolded would change Durham and the lives of Atwater and Ellis forever.

Bonus features include:

  • “Make a Connection,” in which the cast discusses the unlikely friendship between Atwater and Ellis, with clips of past interviews of the film’s subjects;
  • “Ann Atwater,” a behind-the-scenes discussion with Henson and Rockwell about Atwater;
  • “Unlikely Friendship,” an inside look at how 10 days transformed the lives of two people who formed an unexpected friendship; and
  • the trailer.

Fighting With My Family

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street Date 5/14/19;
Universal/MGM;
Comedy;
Box Office $22.96 million;
$29.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for crude and sexual material, language throughout, some violence and drug content.
Stars Florence Pugh, Lena Headey, Nick Frost, Jack Lowden, Vince Vaughn, Dwayne Johnson, Stephen Merchant.

The notion that professional wrestling is “fake” is pervasive enough that most people don’t realize it’s a world just as competitive as any sport. It’s just the indicators of success aren’t strictly focused on the results in the ring.

As is made abundantly clear in the very entertaining Fighting With My Family, while the results of wrestling matches are more or less fixed as a means of storytelling and showmanship, the athleticism on display is just as genuine as any contest where the results aren’t predetermined.

The film tells the story of WWE superstar Paige, who emerged from a family of wrestlers in England to become one of the top female performers in the world’s biggest pro-wrestling promotion.

With her family’s small promotion struggling to get by, Paige (Florence Pugh) and her brother, Zak (Jack Lowden) are invited to a WWE tryout. But when Paige is the only one deemed worthy of potential superstardom, the siblings must come to terms with the notion that one’s dream and one’s destiny might lead to separate paths.

For Paige, that means leaving her family to train in America, and dealing with the hardships of trying to fit in when it seems she doesn’t quite fit in. For Zak, it means coming to terms with the idea that maybe his place isn’t in the spotlight, but quietly working behind the scenes to further the traditions of his family profession.

Fighting With My Family is based on a British TV documentary about Paige and her family and their passion for professional wrestling. Director Stephen Merchant has refocused the story into a rather typical sports movie underdog tale, playing fast-and-loose with the reality it for a more concise narrative.

Vince Vaughn’s character of Hutch Morgan, for example, is a composite of a variety of WWE authorities Paige would have encountered during her training in the NXT developmental program, essentially the minor leagues of wrestling.

The movie also skips over dealing with NXT’s own championship hierarchy, where using it might have giving a better sense of Paige’s progress within the company aside from her reactions to a few contentious exchanges with Hutch, and some encouraging words from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who pops in to play himself.

As such, the film’s climactic result seems a bit forced within the context of the story beats the movie itself has established, a development owing more to being a re-creation of the real event than something the film’s version of events has earned. Merchant’s comedic background serves the offbeat moments of the story well, but he admittedly wasn’t aware of the inner workings of professional wrestling before taking on the task of helming the film, and a few beats focused more on the mechanics of pro-wrestling storytelling might have been warranted.

Still, aided by some great performances by the main cast, the film offers plenty of heartfelt sentiment in celebrating the power of family to fuel the pursuit of a lifelong dream and find comfort and contentment when things don’t always go according to plan.

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Home video extras include nine minutes of deleted scenes, a three-minute gag reel, a nine-minute behind-the-scenes featurette and a three-minute video about training for the physicality in the film. Merchant also provides an audio commentary for the film.

The Blu-ray also features an “unrated director’s cut” of the film, but the alterations are so minor that its inclusion seems like more of a marketing gimmick than anything of consequential artistic value. That being said, based on the few identifiable differences, my preference tends to lean toward the unrated cut, which actually runs three seconds shorter than the theatrical version.

The changes don’t alter the story in any way and consist mostly of alternate takes featuring slightly cruder dialogue to get the same message across.

I’ve managed to identify five alterations:

1) A slightly faster edit for a key joke during the dinner scene of Zak’s girlfriend’s parents meeting his family;
2) The Rock having a slightly different reaction to Paige’s shock at meeting him for the first time;
3) A more grotesque line of dialogue from an audience member reacting to Paige’s first introduction to an NXT crowd;
4) A faster edit of Zak getting into a bar fight; and
5) An obscenity as Hutch is testing Paige’s comebacks to potential crowd insults.

Also note that while Universal is distributing the Blu-ray, the film is an MGM production and thus the digital copy is not compatible with Movies Anywhere, but redeemable only through iTunes.

Comedy ‘Little’ Graduating to Digital June 25, Disc July 9 From Universal

The “body swap” comedy Little will arrive on digital (including Movies Anywhere) June 25 and Blu-Ray, DVD and on demand July 9 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

Regina Hall (Girls Trip, “Black Monday”) and Marsai Martin (“Black-ish”) star as Jordan Sanders — Hall as the take-no-prisoners tech mogul adult version of Jordan and Martin as the 13-year-old version of her who wakes up in her adult self’s penthouse just before a do-or-die presentation. Issa Rae (“Insecure,” The Hate You Give) plays Jordan’s long-suffering assistant April.

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Bonus features include a gag reel, behind-the-scenes featurettes, a “mockumentary” featuring Hall and a special “Assistant Survival Guide” presented by Rae.

Romance ‘After’ Coming to Digital June 25, Disc July 9 From Universal

The steamy romance After will arrive on digital (including Movies Anywhere) June 25 and Blu-ray combo pack, DVD, and on demand July 9 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film made $12 million in theaters.

Based on a best-seller from author Anna Todd with more than 1 billion reads on social storytelling site Wattpad and 23 million copies sold in more than 40 countries, the film stars Hero Fiennes Tiffin (Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince) and Josephine Langford (Wish Upon), supported by Selma Blair (SkyscraperCruel Intentions), Inanna Sarkis (Boo 2! A Madea Halloween), Pia Mia (“East Los High”), Jennifer Beals (“The L Word”) and Peter Gallagher (American Beauty, “New Girl”).

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The film follows Tessa (Langford), a dedicated student, dutiful daughter and loyal girlfriend to her high school sweetheart, as she enters her first semester in college. Her guarded world opens up when she meets the dark and mysterious Hardin Scott (Tiffin).

The soundtrack includes “Out of Love” by Alessia Cara and “Bitter Love” by Mia. Sarkis, who plays Molly in the film, performs the track “Best You’ll Ever Have.”

Bonus features on Blu-ray, DVD and digital include deleted scenes.