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.

Netflix: Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston Comedy ‘Murder Mystery’ Sets Biggest Opening Weekend with 30.8 Million Views

Netflix June 18 disclosed that its new Adam Sandler/Jennifer Aniston original comedy, Murder Mystery, set an all-time weekend streaming record with 30.87 million views.

The second Netflix comedy movie starring Sandler and Aniston — which launched June 14 — generated 13.37 million views in the United States and 17.5 million worldwide through June 15.

Netflix disclosed the info on Twitter.

The SVOD behemoth, which is typically reticent disclosing viewership data, has opened up this year revealing streaming data on select original movies, including Will Smith’s Bright with 11 million views; Bird Box with Sandra Bullock (45 million views) and The Christmas Chronicles (25 million) with Kurt Russell.

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FilmRise ‘Sprinter’ Screening

Filmmakers and cast members attended a screening for the film Sprinter at the Pacific Theatres at The Grove in Los Angeles April 23. The film, distributed by FilmRise, debuted in theaters April 24. Sprinter tells the story of a Jamaican teen whose rising star in track and field may help reunite him with his mother who is currently living in the United States. The film is executive produced by Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith. It also features a cameo by Usain Bolt.

Nielsen: 26 Million U.S. Netflix Subs Streamed ‘Bird Box’ During First Week

Nielsen has revealed that more than 26 million Netflix subscribers in the United States streamed original movie Bird Box during the its first week of release in December.

The data supports Netflix’s recent revelation that more than 45 million subs worldwide streamed the post-apocalyptic thriller starring Sandra Bullock as a single mother trying to safeguard her children against a mysterious force that makes people kill themselves after viewing it.

Netflix, per policy, does not disclose viewership data for original programming.

Notably, Bird Box was watched by fewer subscribers (3.5 million) on the first day (Dec. 21) of release than Netflix’s sci-fi thriller, Bright (5.4 million), starring Will Smith, which was released Dec. 13, 2017.

Bird Box, however, began to build subscriber momentum over the next days while Bright viewership declined. In addition, Netflix gave Box a very limited theatrical run in an attempt to comply with industry awards rules.

 

 

Will Smith, Director Marc Forster Acquire German Home Entertainment Distributor

Will Smith (Bad Boys, The Pursuit of Happyness, Ali, Men In Black, I am Legend) has joined with director Marc Forster (Monster’s Ball, Quantum of Solace, World War Z, and Walt Disney Pictures’ upcoming Christopher Robin) to acquire Telepool GmbH, a German licensing and distributor.

Telepool was acquired from the company’s former public-broadcasting shareholders Bayerischer Rundfunk, Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk, SWR Media Services GmbH (a subsidiary of Südwestrundfunk) and Telvetia S.A. (a subsidiary of SRF). Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

As part of the sale, Telepool will become a development, financing and distribution partner for film projects of Will Smith and Marc Forster. The acquisition was made by The Smith Family Circle, Will and Jada Smith’s Family Office, and Elysian Fields, a group of investors associated with Marc Forster.

Telepool’s core business is the acquisition, sale and promotion of theatrical, DVD, TV, VOD and gaming content, as well as merchandising and licensing of publishing for German-speaking territories (GSA). Additionally, the group acts as a world sales company for theatrical and TV content. The Telepool group has offices in Munich, Zürich, Leipzig and Los Angeles.

“Marc and I took a close look at Telepool and discovered a company that has an incredible reputation and a lot of potential,” Smith said in a statement. “We look forward to working together and with the Telepool team to create unique opportunities and content to strategically growing the business.”

As a part of the deal, Smithand his long-time business partner James Lassiter will have the option to develop and distribute film and television projects through Telepool. Lassiter’s Overbrook Entertainment remains its own independent production entity producing and developing film and television content.

Similarly, Forster and Renee Wolfe’s independent production entity 2dux² will also have the option to develop and distribute film and television projects through Telepool while also remaining fully independent.

“As a German-born Swiss national, I was familiar with Telepool long before completing this acquisition with Will and his family,” said Forster. “We believe that Telepool is well positioned for continued success and growth in our rapidly changing media landscape.”

“The new shareholders are very much committed to continuing our business model, added André Druskeit, who assumed the CEO position on June 1. He said all management positions at subsidiary companies would remain unchanged for the time being.

“The setup is great, and we are looking forward to many exciting projects with Will, Marc and all our business partners,” Druskeit said.

 

Sony Releasing ‘Bad Boys’ Collection on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Sept. 4

Bad Boys and Bad Boys II make their 4K Ultra HD debuts Sept. 4 in the Bad Boys 1 & 2 Collection from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

In the two films, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence play loose cannon narcotics detectives solving major crimes in Miami with action and humor. Both films are fully restored from their original camera negatives and presented with high dynamic range and all-new Dolby Atmos audio tracks.  The collection also includes Blu-ray copies of each film with all previously released bonus content.

Bad Boys bonus features on Blu-ray include commentary by director Michael Bay, “The Boom and The Bang of Bad Boys” featurette, three music videos and original theatrical trailers.

Bad Boys II bonus features on Blu-ray include deleted scenes, production diaries, a stunts and visual effects featurette, the Jay Z “La-la-la” music video, sequence breakdowns, and original theatrical trailers.