‘Space Jam’ Shooting to 4K Ultra HD for 25th Anniversary

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the family film Space Jam  on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack and digital July 6 to celebrate the film’s 25th anniversary.

In the 1996 film, six-time NBA champion Michael Jordan and Looney Tunes’ Bugs Bunny collide in a future universe with Jordan as a live-action hero entering an animated world. Captured by Bugs Bunny to foil a ghastly gang of space creatures, Jordan must play the basketball game of his life to save the beloved cartoon heroes from a hideous kidnapping scheme.

The film also features Wayne Knight, Theresa Randle and the voice of Danny DeVito. Bill Murray, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley and Patrick Ewing appear as themselves.

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Space Jam received an Annie Award for Best Individual Achievement: Technical Achievement and a Grammy Award for Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or for Television (1997).

The Space Jam Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack contains previously released special features, including commentary from director Joe Pytka, Bugs Bunny (voiced by Billy West) and Daffy Duck (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker); the featurette “Jammin” with Bugs Bunny and Michael Jordan; and music videos including Seal’s “Fly Like an Eagle” and Monstars’ anthem “Hit ‘Em High.”

The 4K re-release is also timed for the sequel, Space Jam: A New Legacy, with LeBron James, which will be released July 16.

‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ Due on ‘Premium Digital’ May 21, 4K and Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD June 15

Godzilla vs. Kong will come out on “Premium Digital” May 21 and on DVD, 4K Ultra HD combo pack and Blu-ray combo pack June 15 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

The May 21 “Premium Digital Ownership” release will be available at $29.99.

The film was previously released concurrently in theaters and on the streaming service HBO Max. It has earned more than $415 million at the global box office.

From Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures, the film stars Alexander Skarsgård (The Legend of Tarzan, TV’s “Big Little Lies”) and Millie Bobby Brown (TV’s “Stranger Things”). In this installment in the MonsterVerse, Kong and his protectors undertake a perilous journey to find his true home, and with them is Jia, a young orphaned girl with whom he has formed a unique and powerful bond. But they unexpectedly find themselves in the path of an enraged Godzilla, cutting a swath of destruction across the globe. The epic clash between the two titans — instigated by unseen forces — is only the beginning of the mystery that lies deep within the core of the Earth.

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The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc will feature both Dolby Vision and HDR10+ dynamic metadata HDR formats, as well as Dolby Atmos sound.

Special features include “Kong Discovers Hollow Earth”; “Kong Leaves Home”; “Behold Kong’s Temple”; “The Evolution of Kong, Eighth Wonder of the World”; “Godzilla Attacks”; “The Phenomenon of GŌJIRA, King of the Monsters”; “Round One: Battle at Sea”; “Round Two: One Will Fall”; “Titan Tag Team: The God and the King”; “The Rise of MechaGodzilla”; and commentary by Wingard (only on 4K and Blu-ray).

Classic ‘Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory’ Coming to 4K Ultra HD June 29

The family classic Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory will be released on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack and 4K digital June 29 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment for its 50th anniversary.

Directed by Mel Stuart from a screenplay by Roald Dahl, Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory is an adaptation of Dahl’s 1964 novel “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”  Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory stars Gene Wilder as Wily Wonka, Jack Albertson as Grandpa Joe, Peter Ostrum as Charlie Bucket, Roy Kinnear as Mr. Salt, Julie Dawn Cole as Veruca Salt, Leonard Stone as Mr. Beauregarde, Denise Nickerson as Violet Beauregarde, Dodo Denney as Mrs. Teevee and Paris Themmen as Mike Teevee.

The musical follows a boy named Charlie who wins a whirlwind tour of Willy’s incredible, edible realm of chocolate waterfalls, elfish Oompa-Loompas and industrial-sized confections.

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The combo pack will include the feature film in 4K with HDR and a Blu-ray disc with the feature film and special features, which include:

  • Commentary with the Wonka Kids;
  • “Pure Imagination: The Story of Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory”;
  • “The Moviemakers”;
  • “Scrumptious Sing-Along: Pure Imagination”;
  • “Scrumptious Sing-Along: I Want It Now!”;
  • “Scrumptious Sing-Along: I’ve Got A Golden Ticket”;
  • “Scrumptious Sing-Along: Oompa-Loompa-Doompa-De-Do”; and
  • The theatrical trailer.

‘Tom & Jerry’ Coming to PVOD April 16, Digital and Disc May 18

The animated and live action comedy Tom & Jerry will be available via premium VOD rental April 16, followed by release on digital, Blu-ray and DVD May 18 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

The film, which previously debuted simultaneously in theaters and on the HBO Max streaming service, is directed by Tim Story (Fantastic Four, Think Like a Man, Barbershop) and features Chloë Grace Moretz (Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, The Addams Family), Michael Peña (Cesar Chavez, American Hustle, Ant-Man) and Colin Jost (How to be Single, TV’s “Saturday Night Live”).

In Tom & Jerry, the iconic mouse Jerry moves into New York City’s finest hotel on the eve of “the wedding of the century,” forcing the event’s desperate planner (Moretz) to hire Tom to get rid of him. The ensuing cat and mouse battle threatens to destroy her career, the wedding and possibly the hotel itself. But soon, an even bigger problem arises: a diabolically ambitious staffer conspiring against all three of them.

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Special features include deleted scenes, a gag reel and several featurettes.

TV Time: Warner’s ‘Mortal Kombat’ Most Anticipated Movie in April

Warner Bros.’ Mortal Kombat was the most anticipated movie in April on the TV Time chart.

Based on the video game franchise of the same name, the film follows Shaolin Monk Liu Kang, from Earth, who gets invited as a competitor in a mysterious, intergalactic tournament of ancient martial arts. It premieres April 23 in theaters and on WarnerMedia’s HBO Max streaming service.

A Whip Media company, TV Time is a free TV viewership tracking app that tracks consumers’ viewing habits worldwide and is visited by nearly 1 million consumers every day, according to the company. TV Time’s “Anticipation Report” is based on data from those users.

Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse, premiering on Amazon Prime April 30, took the second spot on the chart. The action thriller is based on the 1993 novel of the same name by Tom Clancy and is a spin-off of the Jack Ryan film series.

Coming in at No. 3 was Netflix’s Thunder Force, premiering April 9 on the streaming service. Starring Melissa McCarthy, Octavia Spenser and Jason Bateman, the film follows two childhood best friends who reunite as an unlikely crime-fighting superhero duo when one invents a formula that gives ordinary people superpowers.

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Also from Netflix, Stowaway, premiering April 22, took the fourth spot on the chart. In the film starring Anna Kendrick, Daniel Dae Kim, Shamier Anderson and Toni Collette, a three-person crew on a mission to Mars faces an impossible choice when an unplanned passenger jeopardizes the lives of everyone on board.

Another space story, Lionsgate’s Voyagers, landed at No. 5. Starring Colin Farrell, Tye Sheridan, Lily-Rose Depp and Fionn Whitehead, the film follows a crew of astronauts on a multi-generational mission who descend into paranoia and madness, not knowing what is real or not. It hits theaters April 9.

Rounding out the chart at No. 6 was Concrete Cowboy, which began streaming on Netflix April 2. Starring Idris Elba and Caleb McLaughlin (“Stranger Things”), it follows a rebellious teen, sent to live with his estranged father for the summer, who finds kinship in a tight-knit Philadelphia community of Black cowboys.

 Most Anticipated April Movies

  1. Mortal Kombat – April 23 (Warner Bros., theaters and HBO Max)
  2. Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse – April 30 (Amazon Prime)
  3. Thunder Force – April 9 (Netflix)
  4. Stowaway – April 22 (Netflix)
  5. Voyagers – April 9 (Lionsgate, theaters)
  6. Concrete Cowboy – April 2 (Netflix)

 

TV Time features a global community of 16 million users who have reported more than 18 billion views of TV and movie content across 230,000 titles.

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.”

MOD Service Allied Vaughn Releases First 4K Ultra HD Title, Warner’s ‘Batman v Superman’

Manufacture-on-demand service Allied Vaughn is bowing its first 4K Ultra HD title, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice — Ultimate Edition, March 23.

The extended cut of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice includes 30 more minutes of story and action not seen in theaters. The disc set also includes the theatrical version of the film and more than two hours of bonus content.

Directed by Zack Snyder, the film stars Ben Affleck as Batman/Bruce Wayne and Henry Cavill as Superman/Clark Kent in the characters’ first big-screen pairing. Fearing the actions of a god-like superhero left unchecked, Gotham City’s own formidable vigilante takes on Metropolis’s most revered, modern-day savior, while the world wrestles with what sort of hero it really needs. With Batman and Superman at war with one another, a new threat quickly arises, putting mankind in greater danger than it’s ever known before.

This new edition of the “Ultimate Cut,” which was released on Blu-ray in 2016, has been remastered by Snyder to include scenes shot for Imax screens in a 4:3 ratio rather than the cropped 16:9 for most widescreen TVs. This will better match it to Snyder’s footage for his upcoming four-hour director’s cut of 2017’s Justice League which premieres on HBO Max March 18. The remastered BvS — Ultimate Cut also arrives on HBO Max March 18.

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Warner’s ‘The Little Things’ Due on PVOD March 19, Digital April 20, Disc May 4

The crime drama The Little Things is coming to premium VOD rental March 19 at $19.99, digital sale April 20, and Blu-ray and DVD May 4.

The film debuted in theaters and on WarnerMedia’s HBO Max SVOD service Jan. 29.

The psychological thriller stars Academy Award winners Denzel Washington (Training Day, Glory), Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody) and Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club). It follows Kern County Deputy Sheriff Joe “Deke” Deacon (Washington), who is sent to Los Angeles for what should have been a quick evidence-gathering assignment. Instead, he becomes embroiled in the search for a killer who is terrorizing the city. Leading the hunt is L.A. Sheriff Department Sergeant Jim Baxter (Malek), impressed with Deke’s cop instincts, unofficially engages his help. But as they track the killer, Baxter is unaware that the investigation is dredging up echoes of Deke’s past, uncovering disturbing secrets that could threaten more than his case.

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The film was written and directed by John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side, Saving Mr. Banks, The Founder) based on his own original screenplay.

HBO Max Picks Up Exclusive Streaming Rights to ‘Prodigal Son’

HBO Max has acquired the exclusive U.S. subscription-video-on-demand streaming rights to the drama “Prodigal Son” in a deal with Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution.

The first season of the show is available to stream now on HBO Max. Season two is currently airing on Fox.

The series follows Malcolm Bright (Tom Payne), who has a gift. He knows how killers think and how their minds work. Why? His father (Michael Sheen) is “The Surgeon,” a notorious serial killer who has taken the lives of more than 20 people. “Prodigal Son” follows criminal psychologist Bright as he uses his twisted genius to get inside the minds of murderers to help the NYPD solve cases. He works alongside NYPD Detective Gil Arroyo (Lou Diamond Phillips), a seasoned lawman who has become Bright’s surrogate father; Detective Dani Powell (Aurora Perrineau), a headstrong no-nonsense cop who is quickly impressed with Bright’s work; Dr. Edrisa Tanaka (Keiko Agena), a slightly off-center medical examiner; and Detective J.T. Tarmel (Frank Harts), a born-and-bred New Yorker who questions whether Bright is a psychopath himself. But Bright’s best resource for solving crimes is his dear old dad, the homicidal-yet-oddly-loving Martin Whitly, whose expertise he must reluctantly call upon. As Bright helps track down the city’s most dangerous criminals, he also battles his own demons — and it doesn’t help that his mother, former leading socialite Jessica Whitly (Bellamy Young), can’t seem to accept her fallen status and has an opinion on every aspect of Bright’s life. But he has the support of his sister Ainsley (Halston Sage), a news reporter with a soft spot for her brother and all his eccentricities.

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Academy Award winner Catherine Zeta-Jones will joining the cast in the March 2 episode of season two airing on Fox.

2014 Epic ‘Godzilla’ Due on 4K Disc and Digital March 23

The 2014 action-adventure Godzilla will be released on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack and digital on March 23 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ Godzilla marked the long-awaited big-screen return of the King of the Monsters. The adventure pits Godzilla against malevolent creatures that, bolstered by humanity’s scientific arrogance, threaten our very existence.

Directed by Gareth Edwards (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) from a screenplay by Max Borenstein and a story by David Callaham, Godzilla is based on the character “Godzilla,” owned and created by Toho Co. It stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass), Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai, Inception), Elizabeth Olsen (Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame),  Juliette Binoche (The English Patient, Cosmopolis), and Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine), alongside David Strathairn (Good Night, and Good Luck, The Bourne Legacy) and Bryan Cranston (Argo, TV’s “Breaking Bad”).

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The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and Blu-ray disc of “Godzilla” will feature a Dolby Atmos soundtrack. The Ultra HD Blu-ray contains the previously released special features “MONARCH: Declassified,” offering new evidence not contained in the film that unravels the massive cover-up to keep Godzilla’s existence a secret, and “The Legendary Godzilla,” a behind the scenes look at the monsters in the film.