Classic Serial ‘Lost City of the Jungle’ Travels to Blu-ray Oct. 1 From MVD

The 1946 Universal serial Lost City of the Jungle is coming to Blu-ray Disc Oct. 1 from MVD Entertainment Group.

The story follows a warmonger, Sir Eric Hazarias (Lionel Atwill), who is searching for an element that is the only known antidote to the atomic bomb in order to sell it to the highest bidder. A group of peace activists are on his trail. They include Rod Stanton (Russell Hayden), United Peace Foundation investigator; Tal Shan (Keye Luke), Pendrang native; and Marjorie Elmore (Jane Adams), daughter of scientist Dr. Elmore (John Eldredge), unwilling assistant to Sir Eric.

The title is available now on DVD.

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Actioner ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ Speeds to Digital Oct. 15, Disc Nov. 5 Including 4K

The actioner Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw will come out on digital Oct. 15 and 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and on demand Nov. 5 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

Franchise favorites Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson, Skyscraper, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham, The Meg, Spy) forge an unlikely partnership that provides fresh insight into their backstories with action across the globe, from Los Angeles to London and from the toxic wasteland of Chernobyl to Samoa. For years, hulking lawman Hobbs and lawless outcast Shaw have traded smack talk and body blows. But when cyber-genetically enhanced anarchist Brixton Lorr (Idris Elba, Thor: Ragnarok, The Dark Tower) gains control of an insidious bio-threat that could alter humanity forever, Hobbs and Shaw must partner up to bring him down.

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Joining the cast as Shaw’s sister Hattie is Vanessa Kirby (Mission: Impossible-Fallout, “The Crown”).

Directed by David Leitch from a story by longtime “Fast & Furious” franchise narrative architect Chris Morgan and a screenplay by Morgan and Drew Pearce (Mission: Impossible – Rogue NationIron Man 3), Hobbs & Shaw is produced by Johnson, Statham, Morgan and Hiram Garcia (SkyscraperRampage).

The film has earned more than $680 million at the global box office.

Hobbs & Shaw features more than 80 minutes (on digital, 4K UHD, Blu-ray) of bonus content, including an alternate opening; deleted, extended and alternate scenes; several featurettes with the filmmakers and cast that take fans further into the story; and an audio commentary by Leitch.

The 4K UHD version includes dynamic metadata feature HDR10+. The digital version is available on Movies Anywhere.

Finding the Key to SVOD Success

Original content has been the star on SVOD services such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, with upcoming services Apple TV+ and Disney+ teasing originals in celebrity-filled press conferences. But catalog content is an important supporting player.

Certainly, originals can attract eyeballs, said the NPD Group’s Kathi Chandler-Payatt at last month’s EMA summit. She noted that while both original movies and episodic shows are a small percentage of content on Netflix, they garner an outsized share of viewing.

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Still, originals aren’t the only shows that keeps viewers subscribing, noted Screen Engine/ASI’s Mark Orne at the event. Subscribers often stay with a service based on go-to backup shows, mostly long-running hit comedy series, such as “The Office,” “Friends,” “South Park” and “Family Guy.” It’s why Disney+ streaming “The Simpsons” from its Fox acquisition is a smart move, he noted.

No wonder WarnerMedia pulled “Friends,” and Universal “The Office,” from Netflix for their upcoming services.

Indeed, speakers on a consumer panel at the EMA summit said that they like to stream while doing other activities, such as cleaning a room, not the kind of thing one can do while viewing a gripping original. One even noted she likes to go to sleep to certain familiar shows.

Meanwhile, a few hits might not be enough to keep viewers subscribing, as consumers are willing to pay for a month or take the free trial, watch and cancel, or share passwords, Orne said.

While they may like the occasional title equivalent of a gourmet meal, consumers also like to binge on titles that are comfort foods. SVOD services that can offer a wide menu may be the winners in the OTT race.

Zombie Comedy ‘The Dead Don’t Die’ Rises on Digital Sept. 3, Disc Sept. 10 From Universal

The zombie comedy The Dead Don’t Die will stalk to digital (including Movies Anywhere) Sept. 3 and Blu-ray, DVD and on demand Sept. 10 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

Directed by indie filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, the film stars Bill Murray (Olive Kitteridge, Lost in Translation, Ghostbusters), Adam Driver (Star Wars Sequel Trilogy, BlacKkKlansman) and Chloë Sevigny (“The Act,” Boys Don’t Cry) alongside an ensemble cast that includes Tilda Swinton (SuspiriaTrainwreck), Steve Buscemi (Hotel Transylvania Series, Fargo), Danny Glover (Proud MaryLethal Weapon Series), Caleb Landry Jones (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MissouriGet Out), Rosie Perez (“Pure,” White Men Can’t Jump), Iggy Pop (Gimme DangerCoffee and Cigarettes), Sara Driver (Stranger than Paradise), RZA (“Snowfall,” The Man with the Iron Fists 2), Selena Gomez (Hotel Transylvania Series, Spring Breakers), Carol Kane (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” Dog Day Afternoon), Austin Butler (The Intruders, “Arrow”), Luka Sabbat (“Grown-ish”) and Tom Waits (The Ballad of Buster ScruggsThe Book of Eli).

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In the sleepy small town of Centerville, something is not quite right. The moon hangs large and low in the sky, the hours of daylight are becoming unpredictable and animals are beginning to exhibit unusual behavior. No one foresees the strangest and most dangerous repercussion that will soon start plaguing the town. The dead rise from their graves and savagely attack and feast on the living — and the citizens must battle for their survival.

Bonus features on Blu-ray, DVD and digital include “Bill Murray: Zombie Hunting Action Star,” in which Murray discusses his fear of being typecast as an action hero; “Behind-the-Scenes of The Dead Don’t Die”; and “Stick Together,” in which Jarmusch’s frequent collaborators talk about his filmmaking style and what makes The Dead Don’t Die stand out from other zombie films.

‘The Secret Life of Pets 2’ Coming to Digital Aug. 13, Disc Aug. 27 From Universal

The family film The Secret Life of Pets 2 will debut on digital Aug. 13 and 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and on demand Aug. 27 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

From the studio Illumination (Despicable Me, Minions, Sing), the animated sequel features the pets and their growing families in a new chapter that explores the deep bond between them and the humans that love them. Again, the film answers the question: What are your pets really doing when you’re not at home? Terrier Max (voice of Patton Oswalt) is coping with major life changes after Katie’s marriage and the arrival of a toddler, Liam. Meanwhile, Gidget (Jenny Slate) tries to rescue Max’s favorite toy from a cat-packed apartment with a little help from her feline friend Chloe (Lake Bell), who has discovered the joys of catnip. And Snowball (Kevin Hart) believes, despite the other pets’ teasing, that he’s a superhero after his owner starts dressing him in superhero pajamas. But when Daisy (Tiffany Haddish), a fearless Shih Tzu, shows up to ask for Snowball’s help on a dangerous mission, he has to summon the courage to become the hero he’s been pretending to be.

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Other voice talent includes Eric Stonestreet, Nick Kroll, Dana Carvey, Ellie Kemper, Hannibal Buress, Bobby Moynihan and Harrison Ford in his first ever role in an animated film as new farm dog, Rooster.

Bonus features on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and digital include two mini-movies — Super Gidget, featuring the film’s Pomeranian Gidget and her best friend Max, and Minion Scouts, starring the Minions. Also included are deleted scenes, making-of featurettes and drawing tutorials. An interactive Captain Snowball motion comic allowing viewers to direct the bunny hero on his next move is exclusive to the 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray versions.

Comedy ‘The Hustle’ Coming to Digital Aug. 6, Disc Aug. 20 From Universal

The Rebel Wilson-Anne Hathaway comedy The Hustle will arrive on digital Aug. 6 and Blu-ray, DVD and on demand Aug. 20 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film stars Academy Award winner Hathaway (Ocean’s 8, The Devil Wears Prada) and Wilson (Isn’t It Romantic, Pitch Perfect) as two scam artists from different worlds who join forces to take down the dirty rotten men who have wronged them. Josephine Chesterfield (Hathaway) is a glamorous, seductive Brit who defrauds gullible wealthy men. Penny (Wilson) amasses wads of cash by ripping off her marks in neighborhood bars. Despite their different methods, both are masters of the art.

The film earned $35.1 million at the box office.

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Bonus features on Blu-ray and DVD include:

  • “Hitting the Mark,” revealing the plans behind the film, from Hathaway’s initial discussions with Jac Schaeffer and Wilson about updating the story for a modern era to director Chris Addison’s collaboration with the cast to craft the comedy on set;
  • “Comedy Class,” exploring the different comedic styles of the actors;
  • “Con Artists,” about the artists behind the camera, costume designer Emmer Fryer and production designer Alice Normington;
  • and feature commentary from Addison.

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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‘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.

Studios, Distributors, EMA Team Up on Massive Digital Movie Rental Promotion

A consortium of studios and key digital retailers, cable companies and satellite providers is sponsoring a digital rental movie sale May 31 through June 3 in which consumers can stream up to 250 different movies at prices as low as $2.99 for recent releases and 99 cents for older, catalog titles.

The “Ultimate Movie Weekend” initiative, led by the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA), is believed to be the first time such a coordinated promotion has been undertaken in the United States.

The goal, according to EMA SVP Sean Bersell, is to “introduce consumers who haven’t rented digitally previously to the value and convenience of digital rental, and to entice consumers who haven’t rented digital recently to re-engage.”

The campaign will offer recent releases and catalog movies from Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures, and Warner Bros. Participating digital retailers and cable and satellite companies include Altice USA’s Optimum and Suddenlink TV, Amazon Prime Video, the Apple TV app and iTunes, Atlantic Broadband, Comcast’s Xfinity TV, Cox, DIRECTV, DISH, FandangoNOW, Frontier Communications, Google Play, Microsoft Movies & TV, PlayStation Store, Redbox On Demand, U-Verse, and Vudu.

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The tagline for the Ultimate Movie Weekend is “Rent the Biggest Movies for Less.” Participating retailers will offer between 50 and 250 movies at discounted prices as low as $2.99 for recent releases and $0.99 for catalog movies. The Ultimate Movie Weekend sale includes some of the latest releases that are not yet available on subscription video services. Among the movies in the promotion are A Star Is Born (2018), Bumblebee, Fifty Shades of Grey, First Man, Forrest Gump, The Hunger Games, Robin Hood (2018), Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Step Brothers, and Wonder Woman.

The promotional campaign will be supported by a significant media buy, social media marketing, direct-to-consumer outreach, and a dedicated website, www.ultimatemovieweekend.com. The Ultimate Movie Weekend sale is patterned after similar successful efforts last year in Australia, France and the U.K.

“While the popularity of digital movie rentals continues to grow, there is the opportunity to introduce even more consumers to the value and convenience of digital rental, so the industry has come together to offer a compelling promotion that we hope will attract new customers and remind infrequent digital renters of this option,” said EMA president and CEO Mark Fisher. “Plus, with the start of the summer, which is traditionally a heavy movie-viewing season, it’s a good time to remind consumers of the pleasure of getting together with family and friends for a movie night.”

According to industry statistics, in the first quarter of 2019, digital rental generated $564 million in consumer spending, which accounted for approximately 10% of all home entertainment consumer spending in the quarter.

“This is the first effort of its kind in the U.S., and the breadth of participants demonstrates that the home entertainment industry is making it a priority to communicate the value proposition of digital rentals to consumers,” said Richard Smith, SVP, domestic digital sales, for Paramount Pictures and chair of EMA’s Ultimate Movie Weekend planning committee. “We see significant potential to grow this sector of the industry, and in doing so grow the overall home entertainment market.”

“Our studio partners have assembled a fantastic slate of movies, many unavailable on subscription services, which FandangoNow will offer at compelling prices,” added Cameron Douglas, VP of home entertainment at Fandango and chair of the EMA. “Convenience and value have always been the hallmark of home entertainment, and these great movies at discounted prices draws attention to the ease and affordability of renting digitally.”

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.