‘The Curse of La Llorona’ to Materialize on Digital July 16, Disc Aug. 6

The horror film The Curse of La Llorona will come out on digital (including Movies Anywhere) July 16 and Blu-ray combo pack and DVD Aug. 6 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

From New Line Cinema and producer James Wan, The Curse of La Llorona brings the iconic Latin American legend to life. The film stars Linda Cardellini (Green Book, TV’s “Bloodline”), Raymond Cruz (TV’s “Breaking Bad,” Training Day) and Patricia Velasquez (TV’s “Arrested Development,” “The Mummy” films). Supporting cast includes Marisol Ramirez (TV’s “NCIS: Los Angeles”), Sean Patrick Thomas (the “Barbershop” films, Halloween: Resurrection), Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen (Selfless) and newcomer Roman Christou.

Set in 1973 Los Angeles, the film tells the story of Anna Tate-Garcia (Cardellini), a social worker and widowed single mom struggling to balance the two roles while still coping with the loss of her husband. Anna has navigated a multitude of phantoms and superstitions in her job, usually finding personal demons lurking beneath. When she’s called to the home of Patricia Alvarez (Velasquez) and finds her two young sons locked in a closet, she interprets their terrified mother’s desperate efforts to keep them locked away as a dangerous sign of abuse. Because she is unaware of the very real danger they face, Anna has no idea what she’s about to unleash when she takes the kids into protective custody.

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The Blu-ray combo pack includes a DVD and a digital copy.

Special features on disc include “The Myth of La Llorona,” “Behind the Curse,” “The Making of a Movie Monster,” deleted scenes and storyboards.

‘Gremlins’ Coming to 4K UHD for 35th From Warner

The 1984 classic Gremlins will be released on Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack and digital for its 35th anniversary Oct. 1 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Directed by Joe Dante (Innerspace, The ‘Burbs) and written by Chris Columbus (The Goonies), the film stars Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton and Randall Peltzer, along with the voices of Frank Welker as Stripe and Howie Mandel as Gizmo. At times a horror film and others dark comedy, Gremlins follows a teenager who gets a new pet as a gift and finds it has strange transformative powers.

The Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack includes an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc with the feature film in 4K with HDR and a Blu-ray disc with the feature film and special features. Fans can also own Gremlins in 4K Ultra HD via purchase from select digital retailers.

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Extras include filmmakers’ commentary with Dante, producer Michael Finnell and special effects artist Chris Walas; cast commentary with Dante, Galligan, Cates, Dick Miller and Mandel; behind-the-scenes featurettes; additional scenes with commentary; a featurette on the creation of the creatures; and motion comics.

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.”

‘The Shining’ to Terrify in 4K UHD Oct. 1 From Warner

Stanley Kubrick’s horror classic The Shining will come out on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and digital Oct. 1 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

The 4K remastering, done using a new 4K scan of the original 35mm camera negative at Warner Bros. Motion Picture Imaging, is of Kubrick’s original 144 minute version of the film which premiered in the United States May 23, 1980. Filmmaker Steven Spielberg and Kubrick’s former personal assistant  Leon Vitali worked closely with the team at Warner Bros. during the mastering process. May 17 the restored 4K version of the film will be screened at The Cannes Film Festival.

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The Shining, based on the Stephen King novel, was directed and produced by Kubrick, who wrote the screenplay with Diane Johnson. It stars Jack Nicholson in an iconic role as Jack Torrance, Shelley Duval as Wendy Torrance, Scatman Crothers as Dick Halloran, and Danny Lloyd as Danny Torrance. In the film, Jack Torrance becomes the winter caretaker at the isolated Overlook Hotel in Colorado, hoping to cure his writer’s block. He settles in along with his wife, Wendy and his son Danny, who is plagued by psychic premonitions. As Jack’s writing goes nowhere and Danny’s visions become more disturbing, Jack discovers the hotel’s dark secrets and begins to unravel into a homicidal maniac hell-bent on terrorizing his family.

In 2018, The Shining was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”  The film ranked 29th on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Thrills list, and Jack Torrance was named the 25th greatest villain on the AFI’s 100 Years…100 Heroes and Villains list.  Additionally, the quote “Here’s Johnny” from the film was ranked 68th on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movie Quotes list.

The Shining Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack features an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc with the feature film in 4K with HDR, a Blu-ray disc with the film in high definition and the special features in high definition, and a digital version of the movie. Fans can also own The Shining in 4K Ultra HD via purchase from select digital retailers.

The Ultra HD Blu-ray of The Shining will include more than three hours of previously released special features, including:

  • audio commentary by Steadicam inventor Garrett Brown and Kubrick biographer John Baxter;
  • “Video from the Overlook: Crafting The Shining”;
  • “The Visions of Stanley Kubrick,” a detailed look at one of cinema’s greatest visual storytellers and his unique ability to move audiences through the magic of unforgettable images;
  • “The Making of The Shining,” a cinema verité documentary offering a rare glimpse into the directing style of Kubrick as he interacts with Nicholson, Duvall and others;
  • “Wendy Carlos, Composer,” in which composer Wendy Carlos reflects on working with Kubrick and developing music scores for The Shiningand A Clockwork Orange.

WarnerMedia Consolidates Home Entertainment Distribution

WarnerMedia on May 8 announced the transfer of HBO Enterprises and HBO Home Entertainment, home to the enormously popular “Game of Thrones” franchise, to Warner Bros.

The distribution of the US Turner Originals also is part of this realignment.

Jeffrey Schlesinger, president of Warner Bros. Worldwide Television Distribution, will take leadership responsibility for activities of HBO Enterprises and the distribution of Turner content produced in the United States, according to a WarnerMedia news release.

HBO Home Entertainment will transfer to Warner Bros. Worldwide Home Entertainment and Games under the leadership of its president, Jim Wuthrich.

“Bringing these businesses all under one roof means we improve cooperation and create scale,” Gerhard Zeiler, chief revenue officer at WarnerMedia, said in the release. “Acting as one will strengthen our position in an increasingly challenging marketplace.”

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Jim Wuthrich

Schlesinger added, “For the first time at our company, the diverse and unparalleled portfolio of genre-defining new and library programming created by HBO, Warner Bros. and Turner will be distributed globally by one group. This structure will enable us to speak with one voice, as we create new and innovative ways to license our top-quality programming to networks, channels and services globally, helping them grow their audiences and subscriber bases.”

Wuthrich, whose full title is president, Warner Bros. Worldwide Home Entertainment and Games, said, “While we have had a strategic alliance with HBO in the past that involved physical product distribution, we are now excited to welcome the digital transactional sales and marketing teams into the Warner Bros. Home Entertainment family. We look forward to sharing their iconic and acclaimed original programming with home entertainment audiences worldwide.”

‘Lego Movie 2’ Due on Digital April 16, Disc May 7 From Warner

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part will arrive on digital April 16 and 4K UHD combo pack, Blu-ray combo pack and special-edition DVD May 7 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

The sequel reunites the heroes of Bricksburg in a new adventure to save their city. Reprising their starring roles from the first film are Chris Pratt (“Guardians of the Galaxy,” Jurassic World) as Emmet; Elizabeth Banks (“The Hunger Games” movies, Love & Mercy) as Lucy, aka Wyldstyle; Will Arnett (“The Lego Batman Movies,” TV’s “Arrested Development”) as Lego Batman; Alison Brie (TV’s “Glow,” TV’s “Community”) as Unikitty; Nick Offerman (“Fargo,” TV’s “Parks and Recreation”) as MetalBeard; and Charlie Day (the “Horrible Bosses” movies, TV’s “It’s Always Sunny in Philadephia”) as Benny. They are joined by Tiffany Haddish (Girls Trip) and Stephanie Beatriz (Short Term 12, TV’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”) as new characters Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi and General Mayhem, respectively, and Maya Rudolph (Bridesmaids, TV’s “Big Mouth”) as Mom.

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The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc will feature a Dolby Atmos soundtrack.

Bonus features on the 4K Blu-ray and Blu-ray include:

  • the “Everything Is Awesome” sing-along;
  • commentary by filmmakers;​
  • “They Come in Pieces: Assembling The Lego Movie 2,” a featurette highlighting voice talent, including Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett and Tiffany Haddish;
  • the animated short “Emmet’s Holiday Party: A Lego Movie Short”;
  • “Lego Sets in Action,” animations of the Lego product tied to the movie;
  • “Lego Designers,” in which toy designers highlight key play sets in the movie product line;
  • outtakes and deleted scenes;
  • “Super Cool Music Video,” a music video by Beck featuring Robyn and The Lonely Island; and
  • theatrical promotion spots.

 

The special edition DVD contains all those special features except for the sing-along.

Eastwood’s ‘The Mule’ Coming to Digital March 19, Disc April 2 from Warner

The Mule, from star and director Clint Eastwood, travels to digital (including Movies Anywhere) March 19 and 4K UHD combo pack, Blu-ray combo pack and DVD April 2 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

The film also stars Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born, American Sniper), Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix, What’s Love Got to Do With It), Michael Peña (American Hustle, Cesar Chavez), Dianne Wiest (Hannah and Her Sisters, Bullets Over Broadway) and Andy Garcia (Ocean’s Eleven, The Godfather: Part III). It follows Earl Stone (Eastwood), a man in his 80s who is broke, alone and facing foreclosure of his business when he is offered a job that simply requires him to drive. Unbeknownst to Earl, he’s just signed on as a drug courier for the cartel, and eventually, he hits the radar of hard-charging DEA agent Colin Bates (Cooper).

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Special features on the 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray include “Nobody Runs Forever: The Making of The Mule” (also on the DVD) and Toby Keith’s “Don’t Let the Old Man In” music video.

Curation, Community, Differentiation Key to DC Universe Streaming Service, Says Warner Exec

Curation, community and differentiation are key to the success of the just-launched DC Universe streaming service, said Katie Soo, SVP and head of marketing at Warner Bros. Digital Networks.

Soo participated in a keynote conversation with Celiena Adcock, industry manager, entertainment, and head of streaming at Facebook Feb. 5 during the Digital Entertainment World conference in Marina del Rey, Calif.

“There are so many pieces of content out there right now; I think Netflix launched 900 new original pieces of content this year,” Adcock joked. “We can’t even watch that all in three years if we watched something new every day.”

That’s where curation comes in, noted Soo, who runs marketing for Warner’s direct-to-consumer portfolio including DC Universe. The streaming service features stories and characters from the DC comic book world, including such new shows as “Titans,” “Young Justice” and “Doom Patrol” (launching this month). The service is $7.99 a month or $74.99 for the year.

“There’s curation of experiences around a specific brand of content and then there’s the experience of the curated content itself,” Soo said.

On the experiential side, DC Universe launched at San Diego Comic-con with immersive rooms.

“We built a half a dozen immersive experiences bringing each of the shows to life and it was fascinating,” she said. “What ended up happening was there was so much excitement and buzz around just being in these experiences. Just to give you a snapshot, we had a Harley Quinn room for one of our upcoming shows and people put on these suits and went into the Arkham cell and picked up a bat and just started breaking things, and it was fascinating to see the behavior.

“People lined up for four hours just to do it and that in itself is a curation example because those guys left the experience, went and told their friends and then went and downloaded the app.”

Product differentiation is also key in finding consumers.

“It’s all about differentiation, product differentiation,” Soo said. “When you take something like DC Universe, we launched a comic book reader, very much lean back, the first of its kind patented technology, and that becomes a differentiator for the service.”

What also set DC Universe apart are other products that the service offers.

“I think a lot of the time, when you think of traditional streaming services, you think about content, and just streaming content,” Soo said. “I think one of the key differentiators we have is also we have a commerce piece, collectibles of the things that fans love. It’s a one-stop-shop. DC is a destination. It’s a home.”

Building that home is also key, she said.

“I think it’s really important to create a community and a space that feels like a destination, that brings people together but is also safe, [a place] that they don’t feel like they can’t be themselves,” she said.

‘Smallfoot’ to March to Digital Dec. 4, Disc Dec. 11 from Warner

The animated Smallfoot will come out on digital (including Movies Anywhere) Dec. 4 and Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD Dec. 11 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

The film, featuring music by Zendaya and Common, turns the Bigfoot legend upside down when a bright young Yeti (voice of Channing Tatum) finds something he thought didn’t exist — a human. News of the “smallfoot,” Percy (voice of James Corden), throws the simple Yeti community into an uproar over what else might be out there in the big world beyond their snowy village. The film also features the voice talent of Zendaya, Common, LeBron James, Danny DeVito, Gina Rodriguez, Yara Shahidi, Ely Henry and Jimmy Tatro.

The Blu-ray Combo Pack, which features a Blu-ray disc, a DVD and a digital version of the movie, includes an interactive sing-along that lets viewers follow the words of their favorite songs from the film. Other bonuses include:

  • the “Super Soozie” Mini Movie, with custom animation featuring the yeti toddler Soozie;
  • Migo in “The Secret of the Yeti Stones,” a featurette with Tatum;
  • “Yeti or Not, Here They Come! Imagining Smallfoot,” a making of featurette;
  • the Nial Horran “Finally Free” music video;
  • the Cyn “Moment of Truth” music video;
  • the “Wonderful Life: In 28 Languages, Sung Around the World” music video; and
  • theatrical promos.

 

DVD bonus features include “Yeti or Not, Here They Come! Imagining Smallfoot.”

The Meg

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 11/13/18;
Warner;
Action Thriller;
Box Office $143.01 million;
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $44.95 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for action/peril, bloody images and some language.
Stars Jason Statham, Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson, Ruby Rose, Winston Chao, Page Kennedy, Robert Taylor, Sophia Cai, Jessica McNamee, Masi Oka, Cliff Curtis.

Despite its general faithfulness to the man-versus-monster formula, The Meg turns out to be a fun romp thanks to a likeable cast and the filmmakers treating the absurd premise with the appropriate level of gravitas without going over the top.

The film is based on a 1997 novel about a long-extinct giant shark called a megalodon emerging from an isolated section of the ocean to terrorize modern times. In adapting the story, director Jon Turteltaub (National Treasure) manages to blend the research premise of Deep Blue Sea with the imperiled tourist angle of Jaws, and add a healthy dose of modern visual effects to deliver an effective if not always engrossing action thriller. The film looks great, and the Blu-ray really nails the beautiful blues of the ocean vistas, even if the CGI becomes a bit too noticeable at times.

The plot involves a deep-sea research platform sending a submarine to explore a hidden realm of the Marianas Trench previously cut off from the rest of the ocean thanks to some mostly convincing pseudo-science. Soon enough, the sub is attacked by a large creature and trapped, leading the station to call in deep-sea rescue specialist Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham). There’s some rumbling about Jonas being nuts because he claims a giant creature screwed up a previous rescue, but that’s mostly some conflict to build tension among the human crew.

Suffice it to say, Jonas’ rescue attempt allows the creature to get past the trench’s natural barrier, which let it evolve in its own unique ecosystem for millions of years, and up to the surface, where there are plenty of delicious boats and beachgoers it can play with. And since the megalodon is basically a giant shark 10 times bigger than a great white and capable of biting a humpback whale in half with one chomp, the platform’s financier (Rainn Wilson) and his team are eager to blow it up before it can do much harm.

The Meg isn’t overly reverential of previous shark movies, though audiences familiar with them will certainly recognize the foibles of this crew’s attempts to stop the threat. Attacks are played for either shock or humor, depending on who is getting swallowed whole, and there are even quieter moments that allow the characters to express some emotion as they deal with their colleagues, friends and family members getting killed.

Statham’s Jonas character is of a certain aquatic adventurer archetype that one could imagine another franchise entry subjecting him to any number of quests along the bottom of the ocean that don’t necessarily involve him fighting giant sea monsters, though it’s pretty much a given that any sequel would put him up against another menacing beast. The original book’s author, Steve Alten, has written a series of sequel and prequel novels about prehistoric carnivores, so when the time comes to cash in on The Meg’s box office success with a follow-up movie, the filmmakers will have no shortage of source material from which to pick.

The Blu-ray arrives rather light on bonus materials, sporting just two decent featurettes: the 12-minute “Chomp on This: The Making of The Meg,” covering the production as a whole, and the 10-and-a-half-minute “Creating the Beast,” which focuses on the shark.

Movies Anywhere also offers a two-minute promotional video about filming in New Zealand.