‘Boss Baby’ Sequel Coming to Peacock and Theaters on Same Day

The animated sequel The Boss Baby: Family Business will debut on the Peacock streaming service and in theaters on the same day, July 2.

The film, from Universal Pictures and DreamWorks Animation, will be available to Peacock Premium subscribers, who pay $4.99 a month for the service, at no additional cost. It’s the first time Peacock has had a simultaneous theatrical-streaming release.

Peacock is owned by Universal’s parent company, NBCUniversal.

The film features the voices of Alec Baldwin, Lisa Kudrow, James Marsden and Jeff Goldblum, and follows the Templeton brothers, who have become adults and drifted away from each other. Then, a new boss baby brings them together.

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Coming-of-Age Drama ‘Boogie’ Shooting to Digital May 18, Disc June 1

The coming-of-age drama Boogie, from writer, producer and restauranteur Eddie Huang (“Fresh Off the Boat,” “Huang’s World”), will debut on digital May 18 and on Blu-ray, DVD and on demand June 1 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The New York story about basketball, young love, fractious families, and pursuing big dreams against all odds showcases first-time actor Taylor Takahashi, who was Huang’s personal assistant at the time he was cast, and a supporting cast that includes Taylour Paige (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Pamelyn Chee (Princess of Nebraska), Domenick Lombardozzi (The Irishman), and the late rapper Pop Smoke, in his first screen performance.

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Inspired by and rooted in Huang’s own experiences growing up as the son of Taiwanese immigrants in Orlando, Fla., the film is the story of Alfred “Boogie” Chin, a basketball phenom living in Queens, N.Y., who dreams of one day playing in the NBA. While his parents pressure him to focus on earning a scholarship to an elite college, Boogie must find a way to navigate a new girlfriend, high school, on-court rivals and the burden of expectation.

The Blu-ray, DVD and digital releases feature never-before-seen bonus material, including a behind-the-scenes piece with Takahashi and Huang discussing their unique relationship as well as a look at Pop Smoke’s contributions to the film.

The soundtrack features new original music by the late Grammy-nominated artist Pop Smoke.

Robin Wright Directorial Debut ‘Land’ Due on Digital April 27, Disc May 11

The drama Land, starring and directed by Robin Wright, will come out on digital April 27 and on Blu-ray and DVD May 11 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

From acclaimed actress Wright (Wonder Woman, “House of Cards”) comes her feature film directorial debut, the story of one woman’s search for meaning in the vast and harsh American wilderness. Edee (Wright), in the aftermath of an unfathomable event, finds herself unable to stay connected to the world she once knew, and in the face of that uncertainty, retreats to the magnificent, but unforgiving, wilds of the Rockies. After a local hunter (Demian Bichir, The Hateful Eight, “Weeds”) brings her back from the brink of death, she must find a way to live again.

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Bonus features on Blu-ray, DVD and digital include “Crafting Land,” in which filmmakers and cast discuss how shooting in such a beautiful but brutal location added unique challenges and a distinct authenticity; “Robin Wright: Feature Film Directorial Debut,” in which Wright reveals why this project stood out from the others she considered for her feature film directorial debut, and how directing the film gave her a unique perspective on what she needed to give as an actress; and “After the Trauma,” examining the mental process Edee goes through in the aftermath of tragedy, how her pain is relatable, and why this was the perfect time to tell such an uplifting story.

Faith-Based ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ Coming to DVD and VOD May 11

The faith-based film My Brother’s Keeper will arrive on DVD and VOD May 11 from Collide Distribution in partnership with Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film, which shares a story of faith and forgiveness in the wake of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, was directed by Kevan Otto (A Question of Faith, Forgiven) and written by U.S. Army Veteran Ty Manns (A Question of Faith, The 5th quarter). The film stars T.C. Stallings (War Room, A Question of Faith), Joey Lawrence (“Melissa & Joey”, “Blossom,” “Hawaii Five-0”), Robert Ri’chard (Coach Carter, “Empire”) and Keshia Knight Pulliam (“The Cosby Show”).

My Brother’s Keeper follows the story of returning war veteran SFC Travis Fox (Stallings), who has one more battle to fight — PTSD.  Fox and his best friend Ron “Preach” Pearcy (Lawrence) are in their sixth combat deployment when Preach and his entire Ranger platoon are killed in a deadly improvised explosive device attack. Travis returns to his hometown to settle the affairs of his parents who had passed away years before. In searching for answers about his parents, he also discovers a new obstacle in PTSD. He finds support from church counselor Tiffany Robertson (Knight-Pulliam) and slowly begins to rediscover his faith in God, until he uncovers a secret hidden by his best friend Donnie Berry (Ri’chard) that threatens his new-found faith, restores his guilt and causes him to consider the unthinkable.

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The film also had a theatrical run.

“It was so encouraging that many theaters across the U.S. re-opened their theaters with My Brother’s Keeper, a desperately needed story of hope,” Manns said in a statement. “It is also an incredible honor that the film was able to play on military bases and at the National Infantry Museum. We pray that, as the film becomes available to larger audiences through home entertainment, the story continues to give encouragement to those struggling with issues of PTSD, forgiveness, and loss. A reminder that, no matter what the situation, there is always hope.”

DEG Panel: Transactional Business Still Hardy — and Poised for Takeoff

Despite being squeezed by the pandemic, the transactional business is still sturdy and is poised to take off once new releases in the pipeline grow from a trickle to a steady stream.

That’s according to Galen Smith, CEO of Redbox, and Eddie Cunningham, the former Universal Pictures Home Entertainment president who now runs Studio Distribution Services, the Universal-Warner Bros. disc distribution joint venture. The two executives spoke on a virtual DEG Expo panel March 24 moderated by Media Play News publisher and editorial director Thomas K. Arnold.

As industry pundits have observed, content in the transactional arena, which includes physical disc and digital purchases and rentals, dwarfs what consumers can find via subscription or other streaming services. That content has helped the transactional business survive recent jolts, the executives said.

Even the Blu-ray Disc and DVD business, which has been steadily declining for the last decade, remains a viable business, Cunningham said.

“In 2020 despite a pandemic and despite all the pressure of retail closures around the world … and pretty much no new releases after the first couple of months of the year — there’s still a $7 billion retail market, globally,” Cunningham said of the disc business.

“Obviously the last few months, there haven’t been that many new releases. But as that starts to come back in the second half of this year I think you’re going to see a real resurgence,” Smith added, noting that Redbox, with kiosk rentals driven by new releases, is looking forward to a more consistent flow of new content.

Cunningham said he’s been getting a similar message from the big retailers.

“Everybody’s incredibly excited about the new releases starting to come back into this business,” he said. “And I think we feel good about the fact that the big retailers … seem very, very committed to this category. We’ve got new titles every single week. We spend marketing money. We drive people into stores. We introduce fun. We introduce theater into the stores. … So a lot of them are pretty excited about us getting back into the new-release business. … Maybe we could even find a way of sort of growing this [physical] business or certainly hugely flattening the decline over the next year or two after the numbers we made during the pandemic.”

In the meantime, Cunningham said catalog has been picking up the slack, with such series as “Harry Potter,” “Game of Thrones,” “The Office” and even children’s stalwart “Curious George” selling well despite streaming availability.

“If content is available on subscription services, you can still sell a lot of content physically on those same franchises,” Cunningham noted.

“Then there’s a huge amount, about 40% of consumers, who’ve never ever until this day ever transacted digitally, so they’re a huge target for us,” he said, adding “I think physical’s going to be around for a long time to come.”

The disc rental business, which Redbox dominates with thousands of kiosks in the United States, is here to stay as well, added Smith.

“We obviously have a view that it’s going to be sustainable for the long term,” he said. “It’s a great value to consumers. It’s incredibly convenient. … The fact that we’ve got 41,000 kiosks around the U.S. really helps with that. I think what we’ve been able to do is augment that experience. We’ve got this massive loyalty program with over 37 million people in it, and so we’re rewarding them for behavior and then rewarding them with things like free content and so it gives up a great opportunity for us to reinforce that value ecosystem.”

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Redbox marketing makes sure to let consumers know when new releases are available and doesn’t discriminate between the different ways a consumer might access content. The company offers consumers both physical and digital transaction options, letting them choose.

“We’re communicating with them on a regular basis in terms of what are those [new release] movies, and again, however you want to watch it, physically or digitally, we can be there to serve you with that,” he said.

Even though the company is offering a digital alternative, physical transactions aren’t suffering, Smith noted.

“Even when our customers started to transact digitally, it didn’t mean they stopped transacting physically,” he said. “They actually started transacting physically more. It reminded them again of all these great new movies that are available.”

As head of the disc distribution joint venture, Cunningham said he’s tasked with creating efficiencies and providing a focus on the physical business. The joint venture’s mantra is “two plus two equals five,” to make a bigger whole from the combined parts, he said.

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“The coming together of Universal and Warner and other third-party distribution partners is going to enable us to do things like share boxes coming out of Technicolor, which in turn saves a lot of in-store labor, transport costs and so on,” he said. “I think we’re in a position to start maybe talking a bit more again about some front-of-store displays in some of these big retailers where we’ve lost that.”

Two plus two equals five also means finding ways to leverage the studios’ combined content.

“Over the next year or 18 months you’re going to see some amazing things coming out of [the joint venture],” Cunningham said. “There’s going to be huge opportunities on Middle Earth, DC, Bond, classic monsters. It’s actually the 90th anniversary of Dracula coming up, so we’ve got an opportunity around anniversaries. ‘Fast and Furious,’ ‘Jurassic,’ ‘Dune,’ ‘Halloween,’ there are huge opportunities to draft off these kinds of things.”

He also envisioned boxed sets of titles from different studios as an added bonus for consumers.

“We’re going to work incredibly hard to see how we can put the two studios’ content promotions together and make something bigger,” he said.

Redbox, too, is looking to combine the advantages of different businesses. In addition to its digital and physical transactional offerings, the company also has ad-supported streaming and even a content acquisition and production arm.

“In terms of Redbox Entertainment, we have a ton of data obviously about what actors work, what genres work, and so what we want to do is say, ‘OK, we’re seeing a little less product from the studios, let’s go ahead and buy it, acquire it, produce it ourselves,’” Smith said. “We’re basically making sure that we program to our consumers what we know they are going to want. And we’re agnostic so we’re releasing it across all the digital retailers and then we’re actually selling it to streamers as well on the backend. We just want to make sure there’s good content made for consumers.”

Liam Neeson Actioner ‘The Marksman’ Shooting to Digital April 27, Disc May 11

The Liam Neeson action thriller The Marksman will be available for digital purchase starting April 27 and will shoot to Blu-ray and DVD May 11 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

Directed by Academy Award nominee Robert Lorenz (American SniperMystic River), the film’s supporting cast includes Katheryn Winnick (The Dark Tower, “Big Sky”), Juan Pablo Raba (Peppermint, “Narcos”), Teresa Ruiz (“Narcos: Mexico,” “Here on Earth”) and Jacob Perez (Papa BearWilly Goes Way Back).

Neeson plays Jim Hanson, an ex-Marine and hardened Arizona rancher who simply wants to be left alone as he tries to make a living on an isolated stretch of borderland. But everything changes when he witnesses 11-year-old migrant Miguel (Perez) and his mother (Ruiz) fleeing from a band of assassins sent by a ruthless drug cartel. After being caught in a shoot-out, Miguel’s mother begs Jim to take her son to the safety of their family in Chicago. Defying law-enforcement, Jim and Miguel hit the road and slowly begin to forge an unlikely friendship, while the cartel’s relentless assassins blaze a bloody trail, hot on their heels.

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Extras include a making-of featurette with interviews with filmmakers and cast.

Gravitas Ventures Drama ‘Our Friend’ Due on Digital March 23, DVD March 30 From Universal

The Gravitas Ventures drama Our Friend will come out on digital March 23 and on DVD March 30 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film tells the true story of the Teague family — journalist Matt (Casey Affleck), his wife Nicole (Dakota Johnson) and their two young daughters — and how their lives are upended by Nicole’s diagnosis of terminal cancer. As Matt’s responsibilities as a caretaker and parent become increasingly overwhelming, the couple’s best friend Dane Faucheux (Jason Segel) offers to come and help out. As Dane puts his life on hold to stay with his friends, the impact of this life-altering decision proves greater and more profound than anyone could have imagined.

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The release includes a behind-the-scenes bonus feature in which filmmakers and cast, including Segel, Johnson and Affleck, discuss why they were drawn to this true story and how they worked together to honestly portray the real people at its center.

Promising Young Woman

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 3/16/21;
Universal;
Crime, Drama, Thriller, Dark Comedy;
Box Office $5.5 million;
$29.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for strong violence including sexual assault, language throughout, some sexual material and drug use.
Stars Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, Laverne Cox, Connie Britton, Molly Shannon, Sam Richardson, Max Greenfield, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Adam Brody.

Striking right at the core of gender relations brought to the fore by the #MeToo movement, Promising Young Woman is a relentless revenge thriller that expertly walks a line between dark comedy, tragedy and drama led by a beautifully nuanced performance from Carey Mulligan, who just received a Best Actress Oscar nomination for it.

Emerald Fennell (who served as showrunner on “Killing Eve” and plays Camilla on “The Crown”) received three well-deserved Academy Award nominations for her directorial debut (Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay) for this story than broaches a wrenching subject while keeping the audience laughing and gasping on a roller coaster journey through one woman’s pathos and secret fury. (The film also received an Oscar nomination for Best Film Editing for a total of five noms.)

Promising Young Woman follows Cassie (Mulligan), a former medical student who was headed for success until a mysterious event abruptly derailed her future. By day a young woman going nowhere as a barista, by night Cassie lives a secret double life. An unexpected encounter with an old classmate gives her a chance to avenge the wrongs of the past.

At turns a horror story, a romantic comedy and a tragedy, the film plays with familiar tropes in the narrative and film history of male-female relations and power dynamics. With a hot score and vibrant, eye-popping art direction, set design, costumes and makeup, it’s a truly unique film that defies categorization. Dark comedy elements provide levity, but the film also takes a deep dive into the characters’ multiple facets. As noted in the bonus features, the film portrays men who think of themselves as “good guys,” while doing morally questionable, even horrible things. Then there’s Cassie, an engaging, attractive and smart avenging angel/devil who leaves emotional turmoil in her wake. This tension between the light and dark side of humanity allows the actors to explore a layer cake of emotions and elicits some truly great performances.

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Bonus features include three featurettes: “A Promising Vision,” in which Fennell discusses her inspirations for creating the film; “Two-Sided Transformation,” a look at Mulligan in the role of Cassie and how filmmakers used wardrobe, hair and makeup to express the balance between light and dark; and “Balancing Act,” in which cast members discuss their unexpected reactions to the careful balance of levity and tragedy in Fennell’s take on female revenge.

There’s also a commentary with Fennell, who provides a detailed explanation of key elements in the film, including set design, framing, and makeup and costume choices. As do the best commentaries, Fennell’s leaves viewers with a greater appreciation for the artistry and thought process behind this complicated film and makes a second pass through Promising Young Woman with commentary well worth the time.

Universal to Bow Sci-fi Thriller ‘Songbird’ on DVD and Blu-ray March 16

The sci-fi thriller Songbird will come out on Blu-ray and DVD March 16 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. It is currently available via digital sellthrough.

Directed by Adam Mason (Into the Dark), the film stars K.J. Apa, Sofia Carson, Craig Robinson, Bradley Whitford, Peter Stormare, Alexandra Daddario, Paul Walter Hauser and Demi Moore.

In the film, a devastating pandemic ravages the world and the United States is in its fourth year of lockdown. Infected Americans are ripped from their homes and forced into quarantine camps known as Q-Zones from which there is no escape, as a few brave souls fight back against the forces of oppression. Amid this dystopian landscape, a fearless courier, Nico (Apa,“Riverdale,” I Still Believe), who’s immune to the deadly pathogen, finds hope and love with Sara (Carson, Descendants franchise, Adventures in Babysitting), though her lockdown prohibits them from physical contact. When Sara is believed to have become infected, Nico races desperately across the barren streets of Los Angeles in search of the only thing that can save her from imprisonment or worse.

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Extras include deleted scenes with commentary by director/co-writer Mason; “The Story of Songbird”; the “Kingdom” promo video; “The Making of ‘Kingdom’”; and feature commentary with Mason and co-writer Simon Boyes.

‘News of the World,’ ‘American Skin’ Top New Releases on Digital and Disc March 9

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment’s News of the World and Lionsgate’s American Skin top the slate of new releases available for home viewing March 9.

News of the World will be available for purchase on digital March 9. Tom Hanks stars as a former Army captain in the 1870s who moves from town to town sharing the news from the far reaches of the globe. In the plains of Texas, he crosses paths with a 10-year-old girl (Helena Zengel) taken in by the Kiowa people and raised as one of their own, and agrees to deliver the child where the law says she belongs. As they travel hundreds of miles into the unforgiving wilderness, the two face tremendous challenges of both human and natural forces. It arrives on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray March 23.

Vertical Entertainment’s American Skin arrives on DVD and digital sellthrough March 9 from Lionsgate. The film is about a black Marine veteran working as a school janitor who takes the law into his own hands after his son is killed by a police officer who is cleared of any charges. It has been available as a PVOD rental since Jan. 15.

The Jackie Chan actioner Vanguard arrives on Blu-ray and DVD March 9 from Lionsgate, a week after its digital sellthrough bow. In the film, Jackie Chan plays Tang, CEO of the covert security company Vanguard. After wealthy businessman Qin rats out his corrupt partner in an arms deal gone fatally wrong, he and his family become targets of the world’s deadliest mercenary organization — and the fighting power of Tang’s team is their only hope to survive.

Shout! Factory March 9 releases the thriller Rent-A-Pal on Blu-ray and DVD. Set in 1990, the film focuses on a lonely bachelor named David (Brian Landis Folkins) searches for an escape from the day-to-day drudgery of caring for his aging mother (Kathleen Brady). While seeking a partner through a video dating service, he discovers a strange VHS tape called Rent-A-Pal. Hosted by the charming and charismatic Andy (Wil Wheaton), the tape offers him much-needed company, compassion, and friendship. But, Andy’s friendship comes at a cost, and David desperately struggles to afford the price of admission.

Also from Shout! Factory March 9 comes the GKIDS anime film On-Gaku: Our Sound, by Japanese filmmaker Kenji Iwaisawa. The film will be available on Blu-ray Disc, DVD, and digital platforms. Based on the comics by Hiroyuki Ohashi, the film follows the story of a feared trio of high school delinquents who, having no skills, money, or even a full set of drums, decide they are destined for musical glory. They embark on the quest to impress their only friend Aya, avoid a rival gang, and — most importantly — jam out.

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The Russian MMA action thriller Russian Raid will come out on digital, Blu-ray and DVD March 9 from Well Go USA Entertainment. In the film, long after the murder of his father — a secret agent killed in a missile factory raid — an ex-soldier returns to Russia as a mercenary. He leads an elite team on a top-dollar heist targeting the same facility, but no one else knows his true objective is revenge.

Eddie, the story of legendary basketball coach Eddie Sutton, arrives on digital March 9 from Lionsgate. The documentary follows the life and legacy of famed basketball coach Eddie Sutton, who coached across the universities of Arkansas, Kentucky and Oklahoma State, becoming one of the winningest coaches in sports history. The film features interviews from notable names in basketball and pop culture, including former President of the United States Bill Clinton, former NBA basketball player Rex Chapman, owner of the Dallas Cowboys Jerry Jones, University of Kansas head coach and Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Bill Self, ESPN sportscaster and Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Dick Vitale, and basketball analyst and radio host Doug Gottlieb.

A complete list of new disc and digital releases, compiled each week by the Media Play News market research team, can be found here.