‘Fresh Prince’ Reunion to Debut on HBO Max Nov. 19

Will Smith via social media released the trailer for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Reunion and revealed that the special will debut on HBO Max Nov.19.

In the unscripted special, Smith is joined by series regulars Tatyana Ali, Karyn Parsons, Joseph Marcell, Daphne Maxwell Reid and Alfonso Ribeiro as well as recurring co-star DJ Jazzy Jeff for a family reunion on set in the Banks’ home for a look back at the show. Taped on the 30th anniversary of the original series premiere date, Smith also sat down with Janet Hubert, who originated the role of Aunt Viv, for the first time in 27 years for a reunion and a candid conversation.

As previously announced, the special will be night full of music and dancing and a look at the cultural impact the series has had since its debut. HBO Max is the exclusive SVOD home of the full original series library in the United States, debuting on the platform when it launched in May.

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Will Smith and ‘Fresh Prince’ Cast Reunite to Tape Special for HBO Max

Will Smith released two first-look photos at the 30th anniversary Sept. 10 taping for the upcoming “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” reunion special from Westbrook Media.

Will Smith and Janet Hubert

Smith was joined by series regulars Tatyana Ali, Karyn Parsons, Joseph Marcell, Daphne Maxwell Reid and Alfonso Ribeiro as well as recurring co-star DJ Jazzy Jeff for a reunion on set in the Banks’ home in this one-time special.

Surprising the rest of the cast, Smith revealed that he sat down Sept. 9 with Janet Hubert, who originated the role of Aunt Viv, for the first time in 27 years for a reunion and a candid conversation.

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As previously announced, the special will include music, dancing and more special surprise guests in honor of the series that ran for six seasons and 148 episodes.

Produced by Westbrook Media, the reunion will launch exclusively on HBO Max around Thanksgiving. HBO Max is the exclusive SVOD home of the full original series library in the United States.

Paramount Ups Q1 Home Entertainment Revenue 13%

Paramount Home Entertainment May 7 reported first-quarter (ended March 31) revenue of $174 million, which was up about 13% from revenue of $154 million in the previous-year period.

Home entertainment revenue was driven by the mix of titles in release and higher sales of catalog titles. Licensing revenue grew 18%, fueled by original studio productions for third parties, as well as the licensing of The Lovebirds to Netflix.

Paramount’s top-selling packaged-media release in 2020 thus far is the Will Smith actioner Gemini Man.

For the fourth-consecutive quarter, home entertainment sales topped theatrical revenue as box office sales reached $167 million, which was down 3% from revenue of $172 million last year. Despite strong results from Sonic the Hedgehog, revenue was more than offset by prior year quarter revenues, which included carryover performance from Bumblebee.

Special Offer From ‘Media Play News’ and Sony: 4K Digital Codes to ‘Bad Boys for Life’

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and Media Play News are offering five lucky readers free digital codes to the 4K home release of the action-comedy Bad Boys for Life, with Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, which is being released digitally today, March 31.

The codes will be given to the first five people who 1) like us on Instagram, and 2) go to the Bad Boys for Life post on our Instagram account and in the comments answer the question, “What was Will Smith’s highest-grossing movie?”

You can follow us on Instagram and search for the story post here.

Smith and Lawrence return for the third “Bad Boys” movie with a new case that finds them teaming with a hotshot division of the Miami PD to take down a merciless cartel.

The cast also includes Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Charles Melton, Paola Nuñez, Kate del Castillo, Nicky Jam and Joe Pantoliano.

The film earned $204.4 million at the domestic box office and $419 million globally.

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‘Bad Boys For Life’ Available Digitally March 31, on Disc April 21

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will release the action-comedy Bad Boys for Life through digital retailers March 31, and on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray April 21.

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence return for the third “Bad Boys” movie with a new case that finds them teaming with a hotshot division of the Miami PD to take down a merciless cartel.

The cast also includes Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Charles Melton, Paola Nuñez, Kate del Castillo, Nicky Jam and Joe Pantoliano.

The film earned $204.4 million at the domestic box office and $419 million globally.

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Home video bonus materials include extended and alternate scenes, and outtakes and bloopers. The Blu-ray and digital releases will also include the production featurettes “Ride or Die: Making Bad Boys for Life” and “Partners in Crime: Behind-the-Scenes”; the retrospective featurette “It’s About Time,” a look at 25 years of “Bad Boys” history with producer Jerry Bruckheimer, the cast and crew; and a look at hidden references layered into the film by directors Adil and Billal.

 

Animated ‘Spies in Disguise’ to Be Unveiled on Digital and Disc — Including 4K — March 10

The animated comedy Spies in Disguise will come out on digital, 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD March 10 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

In the film, super spy Lance Sterling (Will Smith) and scientist Walter Beckett (Tom Holland) are almost exact opposites. Lance is smooth, suave and debonair. Walter is none of the above. But this unlikely duo must team up for the ultimate mission to save the world when a “biodynamic concealment” experiment transforms Lance into a pigeon.

The film earned $163.5 million at the global box office.

Blu-ray bonus features include multiple making-of featurettes and two music videos as well as “Super Secret Spy Mode,” an immersive, in-movie experience that takes you deeper into the story with Easter eggs, facts and behind-the-scenes insights into the making of the film.

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‘Gemini Man’: Home Entertainment Shows Off Again With Will Smith

Whenever a new format hits the home entertainment market promising a leap in quality, there’s always that one disc that you choose to show it off.

When we were first demonstrating our HD system, the Blu-ray Disc of I, Robot, starring Will Smith, was our go-to title to wow the neighbors.

As 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc hits its stride, a Will Smith film is again showing what a new format can do.

In a first for Paramount, his film Gemini Man (just released on disc last week and topping the charts) is presented in 4K Ultra HD in 60fps (frames-per-second), along with an exclusive visual effects featurette also in 60fps. The increased frame rate provides exceptional sharpness and clarity versus the standard 24fps. It’s the first ever Dolby Vision high frame rate disc to be released, and according to Paramount executives will become the sort of disc that home theater enthusiasts will use to wow their friends.

“I think people are going to use this disc to show off their systems,” said Ed Hoxsie, Paramount SVP of worldwide product production, in demonstrating the disc to press last month. “They’re going to say, ‘Wow, I’ve never seen anything like this at home before.’”

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Now, I know some may find the greater clarity of the higher frame rate disconcerting, but it may just take some getting used to. As I watched the demo, I began to acclimate to the new, clearer image. Truly, I got used to the 60fps picture as the demonstration went on — and came to appreciate its visual nuances. The picture had an almost a visceral effect, something closer to real life than we’ve been accustomed to in our 24fps film view of the world. After all, it’s only convention that has us used to watching content at 24fps, noted Jeremy Miller, director of worldwide DVD and BD production.

One thing’s for sure: Will Smith is again the star of the home theater demo.

 

‘Gemini Man’ Arrives on Digital Dec. 23, Disc Jan. 14 From Paramount

Paramount Home Entertainment will release director Ang Lee’s action-thriller Gemini Man through digital retailers Dec. 23, and on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Jan. 14.

Will Smith stars as a retired hitman forced on the run by a young, highly skilled operative. The cast also includes Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen and Benedict Wong.

The film, which features groundbreaking visual effects, earned $48.5 million at the domestic box office.

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The 4K Ultra HD disc and 4K Ultra HD digital releases present the film in Dolby Vision. In a first for Paramount, the 4K Ultra HD Disc will present the film in 60 frames-per-second for exceptional sharpness and clarity compared with the standard 24FPS. This is the first Dolby Vision high frame rate disc to be released. The film also boasts a Dolby Atmos soundtrack.

Home video extras include an alternate opening, deleted scenes and the featurettes “The Genesis of Gemini Man,” “Facing Your Younger Self,” “The Future Is Now,” “Setting the Action,” “Next Level Detail” and “The Vision of Ang Lee.”

The 4K disc will include an exclusive visual effects scene breakdown presented by WETA in 60FPS, UHD and high dynamic range.

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Aladdin (2019)

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 9/10/19;
Disney;
Fantasy;
Box Office $354.53 million;
$29.99 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray, $39.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG’ for some action/peril.
Stars Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad, Billy Magnussen, Numan Acar.

Disney’s live-action version of Aladdin is essentially a beat-by-beat reconstruction of the animated classic, with a few key differences.

Like before, the story involves a master thief named Aladdin (Mena Massoud) who roams the streets of Agrabah yearning to find a purpose for his life, until he meets Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott) when she poses as a commoner to escape the boredom of palace life. Aladdin’s exploits gain the attention of the kingdom’s Grand Vizier, Jafar (Marwan Kenzari), who forces Aladdin to retrieve a magic lamp from the Cave of Wonders, where touching any of the forbidden treasure inside will cause the cave to collapse (although playing with the magic carpet apparently doesn’t count as part of the treasure). But of course the forbidden treasure gets touched, forcing Aladdin to unleash the Genie (Will Smith) to escape. With his three wishes, Aladdin assumes the guise of a prince to woo Jasmine, further rousing the ire of Jafar, who wanted the power to make himself sultan.

A key difference from the animated version is the film attempts to give Jasmine a bit more agency with a bigger story arc, a handmaiden (Nasim Pedrad) and her own musical number, a song called “Speechless” designed to give her a bit more of an active role in the story than just sitting around waiting for her father to marry her off. And the “One Jump Ahead” number, used in the animated version to establish Aladdin’s character before he meets Jasmine, here is used after he meets her and his framed as his attempts to impress her by escaping the authorities.

Director Guy Ritchie injects a lot of energy into the early goings, but the film loses steam as it builds to its perfunctory conclusion, and just sort of rushes to finish the checklist of key plot points from the original version as it hastily wraps up.

The live-action Jafar comes across more as a shifty schemer than a truly menacing villain, and the film cheats a little in how it dispatches him because of how a few lines of dialogue were altered to make the final confrontation a little less concise.

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Fortunately, the film fares a bit better with the two relationships it needs to work: Aladdin and Jasmine, and Aladdin and the Genie.

Massoud makes for a charming Aladdin and shares a natural chemistry with Naomi Scott, so the love story manages to feel a bit more authentic. And they can do their own singing, which comes in handy for the centerpiece “Whole New World” magic carpet sequence (though the journey ends up weaving through some natural local splendor rather than the globetrotting of the original film).

And Will Smith does a great job as the Genie, which is no easy task considering how iconic Robin Williams made the character’s animated incarnation. Rather than try to compete with Williams’ memory, Smith successfully puts his own hip-hop infused spin on it.

So, while the live-action version isn’t going to supplant the animated version (freshly released on its own new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray edition), it certainly proves entertaining enough in its own right. And how could it not? It already has the advantage of performing what has to be on the shortlist for consideration for the greatest Disney soundtrack of all time (there’s a reason the original film won two Oscars for its music).

Like a tribute band playing the hits, it’s never as good as the original, but you can still dance to it. And the film has the added benefit of original composer Alan Menken on board so that the subtle updates to the film’s sound don’t detract from the nostalgia.

The Blu-ray isn’t heavy on extras, but what is included focuses mostly on the music and how the filmmakers translated the animated version to live-action.

The two key making-of featurettes are a five-and-a-half-minute spotlight on Ritchie and his approach to directing the material (he also co-wrote the screenplay). A second, four-and-a-half-minute featurette focuses on Will Smith bringing the Genie to life.

The lengthiest extra is Massoud’s video journal, which runs nearly 11 minutes and offers an interesting look at filming select scenes from his perspective. It’s always fascinating to see how much of the sets they still bother to make anymore in an age of ubiquitous CGI.

There are also six deleted scenes running a total of 11 minutes that broaden the context of a few scenes in the film.

Separate from this is a two-minute deleted song sequence for a duet between Jasmine and Aladdin to sing while they are separated.

Rounding out the Blu-ray are a two-minute blooper reel and three music videos: the fairly straightforward “Speechless” by Naomi Scott, and a pair of bizarre covers of “Whole New World,” featuring Zayn and either Zhavia Ward or Becky G, depending on whether the female part is in English or Spanish.

As for digital exclusives, there’s a couple of good ones: a two-minute featurette about the staging of the massive “Prince Ali” number, and a four-minute look at creating the “Speechless” song for Jasmine.

Disney to Bow Live-Action ‘Aladdin’ and Animated Classic on Digital Aug. 27, Disc Sept. 10 Including 4K

The live-action adaptation of the animated classic Aladdin lands in homes on digital HD and 4K (including Movies Anywhere) Aug. 27 and 4K Ultra HD disc, Blu-ray and DVD Sept. 10 from Walt Disney Direct-to-Consumer and International.

At the same time, the original animated classic Aladdin will come out on digital HD and 4K (including Movies Anywhere) Aug. 27 and 4K Ultra HD disc, Blu-ray and DVD Sept. 10, joining the Walt Disney Signature Collection. Aladdin is the 10th title to join the classic collection.

Starring Will Smith, Naomi Scott and Mena Massoud, the live action film, which earned $341.9 million at the domestic box office, follows the tale of the lovable “street rat” Aladdin (Massoud), courageous and self-determined Princess Jasmine (Scott), and the larger-than-life Genie (Smith).

The digital presell includes the bonus feature “Make Way for Prince Ali,” a look at the design of the scene in the movie. As a digital exclusive bonus, consumers get “Speechless: Creating a New Song for Jasmine,” about the song written especially for the live-action film.

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Other bonus features for the live-action film on Blu-ray and digital include:

  • “Aladdin’s Video Journal: A New Fantastic Point of View,” featuring behind-the-scenes moments captured by Massoud (Aladdin);
  • the deleted song “Desert Moon,” a duet performed by Jasmine and Aladdin, fully shot and edited, with an introduction by composer Alan Menken;
  • “Guy Ritchie: A Cinematic Genie,” about the director;
  • “A Friend Like Genie,” about Smith’s performance;
  • deleted scenes;
  • bloopers;
  • and music videos for “Speechless” performed by Naomi Scott, “A Whole New World” performed by ZAYN and Zhavia Ward, and “A Whole New World” (“Un Mundo Ideal”) performed by ZAYN and Becky G.

 

The animated classic Aladdin Blu-ray and digital releases include 40 bonus features from previous releases as well as new features:

  • “Sing Along With the Movie,” with on-screen lyrics;
  • “Aladdin on Aladdin,” featuring the speaking voice of Aladdin, Scott Weinger (“Fuller House”), as he reflects on almost 30 years of being Aladdin;
  • “Let’s Not Be Too Hasty: The Voices of Aladdin,”about the voice actors;
  • and alternate endings.

 

A digital exclusive bonus is “Drawing Genie,” following animator Eric Goldberg as he draws and reminisces about the Genie.