Justice Society: World War II

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 5/11/21;
Warner;
Animated;
$29.98 Blu-ray, $39.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for violence and some bloody images.
Voices of Stana Katic, Matt Bomer, Omid Abtahi, Geoffrey Arend, Chris Diamantopoulos, Matthew Mercer, Liam McIntyre, Elysia Rotaru, Armen Taylor, Darren Criss.

The plot mechanics that presumably served as the jumping off point for Justice Society: World War II ultimately cause the latest DC Universe animated movie to struggle to become a satisfying standalone adventure.

The film starts off in modern times, with Barry Allen (Matt Bomer) interrupting a picnic with his girlfriend to become the Flash and help Superman hold off an attempt by Brainiac to invade Metropolis. The battle ends up opening a rift that sends the Flash to World War II, where he encounters the Justice Society of America, the team of the greatest superheroes of that era (known in comic book lingo as the Golden Age).

They are led by the ageless Wonder Woman (Stana Katic, effectively laying on her best Gal Gadot accent). But the team also includes the Golden Age version of the Flash, Jay Garrick (Armen Taylor), allowing the iconic speedsters of two eras to meet each other.

As Barry works to figure out how to get home, he agrees to help the JSA on their mission, which involves stopping Hitler from collecting mystical artifacts (a nice nod to Indiana Jones), and leads them to uncover a Nazi plot involving the undersea kingdom of Atlantis, ruled by Aquaman (Liam McIntyre).

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The film is loaded with some great animated action sequences, nice character dynamics and some intriguing plot twists. But what could have been a good period piece about Golden Age comic book characters during WWII gets sidetracked by the question of why the future Flash had to be involved for the story to work.

Turns out there are a couple of reasons for it, and it has more to do with franchise building and comic book history than servicing the story (or, at the very least, the story that they appear to be telling).

Based on a half-hour roundtable with the filmmakers included on the Blu-ray, the genesis for the film seems to be adapting the classic 1961 comic book story called “Flash of Two Worlds,” which is generally credited with establishing the idea of a comic book multiverse. That story, by Flash creator Gardner Fox, was a fun, meta examination of the nature of comic book storytelling. A number of characters from the Golden Age (roughly the 1940s through the mid 1950s) had been either retired or redesigned heading into the Silver Age (mid-1950s through the 1960s). The Flash was one of the ones redesigned for a new audience, switching from the maskless, helmeted Jay Garrick to the red-suited Barry Allen we still know today. “Flash of Two Worlds” saw Barry Allen’s Flash cross into the dimension where Garrick had been the Flash 20 years earlier, putting the two on an adventure together. The multiverse was significant in that it freed writers from adhering to established continuity when it no longer made sense due to the passage of time (e.g., Superman and Batman supposedly being the same age in the 1960s as they were when they were created in the 1930s), while allowing them to honor the legacies of characters from the eras in which they were introduced.

So, building a version of “Flash of Two Worlds” into a movie then begins with the concept of sending Barry Allen into Jay Garrick’s time. Which then requires the filmmakers to develop Garrick and his era.

The other factor that seems to have influenced this movie is that it’s apparently set in the same continuity as 2020’s Superman: Man of Tomorrow. The animation styles are similar and Darren Criss voices Superman in both movies. So, that makes the two films an early attempt to establish a new DC shared animated universe, and uses the story of Barry Allen meeting the JSA to inspire him to help build the team of modern heroes that will be known as the Justice League for future movies.

Otherwise, the Golden Age trappings are just a great excuse to either revisit characters that don’t get as much screentime anymore, or look at familiar characters through a different lens.

This just leads back to the idea of the JSA fighting Nazis being a strong enough premise on its own without the Flash framing device pulling focus from it. Of course, time will tell if future movies pay off some of the story threads introduced here in a way that reframes how this particular movie ends up being perceived.

The filmmaker roundtable is a fun watch and a nice departure from the usual talking-heads featurettes usually included with the DC animation Blu-rays. The format provides for a fun conversation about exploring different superheroes and bringing their stories to life through animation in a way that both satisfies the curiosities of the writer and entertains the audience.

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The Blu-ray also includes the two-part “Legends” episode of the “Justice League” animated series which tells the same basic story — the Flash and some other Justice League team members are sent to an alternate dimension where they encounter another superhero team that is eerily similar to yet slightly different from their own.

The other notable inclusion on the Blu-ray is the 18-minute animated short film Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth. This is a fun adventure set in an apocalyptic future that begins with some clever nods to Planet of the Apes. Kamandi is a teenager trying to survive in a world in which humans are gone and animals have evolved into walking, talking tribes. A clan of apes captures Kamandi and some of this friends and subjects them to a series of tests, hoping to find the reincarnation of the great warrior who shaped the world after the fall of society. Kamandi’s backstory (created by the legendary Jack Kirby) and the world of humanoid animals give the short the feeling of a classic 1980s Saturday morning cartoon.

Rounding out the extras are previews for other DC animated movies, including the upcoming Batman: The Long Halloween.

‘Wonder Woman 1984’ Debuts at No. 1 on Disc Sales Charts

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment’s Wonder Woman 1984 debuted at No. 1 on the NPD VideoScan First Alert chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales, and the dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart the week ended April 3.

The sequel to 2017’s Wonder Woman stars Gal Gadot reprising the superheroine, this time coming up against a corrupt businessman in the 1980s who gains the power to grant wishes from a magical stone. The film arrived on Blu-ray and DVD formats March 30 after becoming the beta test for WarnerMedia’s bold strategy of releasing its film slate in theaters with simultaneous month-long availability on HBO Max. Premiering on Christmas, it earned $46.11 million at the domestic box office before bowing on PVOD in February.

A two-pack of both “Wonder Woman” movies bowed at No. 6 on both charts.

The previous week’s top seller, Disney’s Soul, dropped to No. 2 on both charts, selling about 20% as many copies as the new No. 1.

Universal Pictures took the next two spots, with News of the World slipping a notch to No. 3 and DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods: A New Age down to No. 4.

Jumping up to No. 5 on both charts, aided by a new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray re-release, was Paramount’s The Ten Commandments, the 1956 Biblical epic starring Charlton Heston as Moses. The new edition was timed for the Easter holiday.

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Blu-ray Disc editions accounted for 62% of total Wonder Woman 1984 standalone unit sales, and 57% for the two-pack. The 4K Ultra HD version comprised 16% of WW84 standalone sales, while the 4K version of the two-pack, which was an Amazon exclusive, tallied 2% of total sales of the double feature set. The Warner Archive 3D edition comprised 2% of WW84 total sales.

For Ten Commandments, the new 4K edition comprised 50% of its total sales.

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On the Media Play News rental chart for the week ended April 4, WW84 also took No. 1, followed by News of the World at No. 2, The Croods: A New Age at No. 3, the Redbox-exclusive The Seventh Day at No. 4, and Sony Pictures’ Monster Hunter at No. 5.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 4-3-21
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 4-4-21
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 4-3-21
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 4-3-21
Sales Report for Week Ended 4-3-21
Digital Transactions Snapshot for Week Ended 4-5-21

Wonder Woman 1984

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Warner;
Action;
Box Office $46.1 million;
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $44.95 UHD BD;
$35.99 3D BD Warner Archive;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of action and violence.
Stars Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Pedro Pascal.

The 2017 Wonder Woman movie is pretty commonly regarded as the best of the otherwise mediocre DC Comics shared movie universe. The sequel might have some fans wondering if the first one was a fluke.

Probably not. But while Wonder Woman 1984 unmistakably shares the DNA of the original, it certainly isn’t a retread.

Taking place in a stereotypical movie version of 1984, 65 years after the World War I setting of the first one, the film finds the ageless Diana (Gal Gadot) now working in the antiquities wing of the Smithsonian while going out as Wonder Woman on a lark to stop local crimes. One, a jewelry heist, uncovers a black market smuggling ring that brings Diana into contact with an ancient stone inscribed with the power to grant wishes by an ancient trickster god of lies (one who isn’t Loki, since he plays for the other team).

Diana’s wish is for the return of her lost love Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), and sure enough he pops up in a way that raises some questions the movie isn’t interested in answering.

However, the stone attracts the attention of Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal), a con man selling shares in a phony oil company. He wants the power to wish himself into greatness, but as we are told in a flashback prologue set during Diana’s time as a young girl participating in the Amazonian sports of Themiscyra, “greatness is not what you think.”

Diana’s attempts to stop him put her at odds with a co-worker named Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig), a wallflower whose wish to be more like Diana inadvertently imbues her with superpowers she’s now unwilling to give up on her path to becoming the supervillain Cheetah. However, tying such a seminal Wonder Woman villain’s origins to this story almost seems like a waste.

On the flip side, Diana discovers the price of her wish is the gradual decline of her own abilities, and as the wishing power spreads, plunging the world into chaos, she is forced to make the difficult decision most movie superheroes have to make at some point: love or duty.

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The film is visually dazzling and offers some moments that will make any superhero movie fan smile, and Wonder Woman fans in particular. For example, the film finds a neat way to work in the invisible jet that isn’t just a transparent plastic model with a doll in it.

But the film runs a bit long at two-and-a-half hours, and the over-reliance on wishes as the central plot device gets rather tedious after a while.

Even in a universe where magic is already established — Diana is the daughter of the Greek god Zeus, after all — the presentation of the wishes being granted just seems a step beyond the plausible since the movie only pays the slightest lip-service to how they are supposed to work. In a screenplay underlined by progressive misunderstandings of Reagan-era politics, the wishes serve whatever basic story points the writers require, and stand up to little scrutiny beyond that.

Which is all a means of saying the individual elements of the story as assembled don’t quite result in a completely satisfying whole. The two-villain team up is practically a superhero sequel tradition at this point, even when their pairing doesn’t seem to make sense. Tonally this type of plot wouldn’t seem too out of place in the 1970s “Wonder Woman” TV show (which, fittingly, is teased in the Blu-ray bonus materials).

The 1980s setting would seem to suggest the story is intended as a screed against the kind of selfishness and greed that are often attributed to the ’80s but are pretty universally present in any time period. But, really, the film’s message of honest work over shortcuts to achievement, and not expecting everything you want to just be handed to you, is an easy one to embrace.

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Since we’ve seen present-day Diana in Batman v Superman and Justice League, a sequel set before those films could have been a story about what brought her back to dabble in superheroism before retreating from humanity’s problems again before BvS. As it stands, WW84 doesn’t necessarily knock against the established DC movie timeline per se, but the two “Wonder Woman” movies definitely stand on their own apart from the greater franchise.

It’s especially hard to reconcile the plot of WW84 with the 2017 Justice League team-up movie, particularly the theatrical cut. It fits in a bit more with Zack Snyder’s Justice League director’s cut, but not by much. (One can only imagine what a teenage Bruce Wayne would have wished for.)

While some of its logical issues are hard to ignore, Wonder Woman 1984 does play better on multiple viewings, mostly because it’s easy enough with Blu-ray and digital copies to just go to the few good scenes. And really, whatever problems the movie has are almost an afterthought to the pure joy of a mid-credits cameo that should serve as the basis of a third film.

Wonder Woman 1984 played in theaters and streamed on HBO Max through Jan. 24, after which it was available exclusively in theaters until hitting PVOD a month before its traditional home video run.

The Blu-ray edition of Warner’s latest “Wonder Woman” adventure includes more than 90 minutes of bonus materials, consisting of a number of detailed behind-the-scenes featurettes and a few fun extras for the fans.

The best is the aforementioned 1970s tie-in, presenting footage from WW84 in the style of the 1970s “Wonder Woman” TV series, complete with the original theme song and animated transitions — and it’s also the first time we get to see Gadot do the classic “Wonder Woman spin.”

Among the other amusing extras are a six-and-a-half-minute gag reel and the raw minute-and-a-half footage from Max Lord’s in-movie “Black Gold” infomercial.

A couple more focus on the teaming of Gadot and Wiig: There’s a five-minute video about them starring together, which leads to a minute-long clip of the pair goofing around on set in the form of a “Saturday Night Live”-style video sketch (no doubt Wiig’s comedy background contributed to this one).

The primary making-of documentary runs 36 minutes and gives a good overview of the production. Tying into this are two “Scene Study” featurettes: a five-minute video focused on the opening mall rescue scene and six-minutes exploring the Middle East truck chase. The most notable aspect to these videos is how dedicated the crew was to re-creating the 1980s — building out several levels of a vintage mall with fully stocked stores, and using old-school practical stunt-work with a minimal reliance on CGI.

The rest of the footage deals with the making of the scenes at the amazonian island. There’s a 21-minute “Meet the Amazons” virtual panel from DC Fandome featuring discussions with director Patty Jenkins and a number of the women and stunt performers who played Amazonian warriors participating in the elaborate games sequences that open the film. Rounding out the presentation is an 11-minute profile of actress Lilly Aspell, who reprises her role as the pre-teen Diana from the 2017 film. The featurette includes some cute audition footage of the enthusiastic Aspell from 2015, showing off how well she makes for a younger version of Gadot.

Originally published as a streaming review Dec. 28, 2020.

Animated DC Universe Movie ‘Justice Society: World War II’ Arriving Digitally April 27, on Disc May 11

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the DC Comics-based animated superhero movie Justice Society: World War II for digital sellthrough April 27, and on Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray May 11.

The 42nd entry in the DC Universe line of animated movies finds The Flash (voiced by Matt Bomer), prior to the formation of the Justice League, speeding back in time to find the Golden Age’s top superhero team, the Justice Society of America, locked in an epic battle against the Nazis.

Led by Wonder Woman (Stana Katic), the group includes Hourman (Matthew Mercer), Black Canary (Elysia Rotaru), Hawkman (Omid Abtahi), Steve Trevor (Chris Diamantopoulos) and the Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick (Armen Taylor).

The voice cast also includes Geoffrey Arend as Charles Halstead/Advisor, Liam McIntyre as Aquaman, Keith Ferguson as Dr. Fate, Ashleigh LaThrop as Iris West, and Darin De Paul as Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

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The home video release also includes the new DC Showcase animated short film Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth! The character created by the legendary Jack Kirby comes to life as Kamandi, the last civilized teenage boy on a post-apocalyptic Earth ruled by talking animals, and his friends Prince Tuftan of the Tiger Kingdom and humanoid mutant Ben Boxer are kidnapped by a gorilla cult dedicated to finding the reincarnation of their god. Golgan, the cult’s leader, puts Kamandi’s team through a series of deadly tests to find if any of them know the secret of The Mighty One.

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Other bonus materials include the featurette “Adventures in Storytelling: Justice Society: World War II,” in which the film’s creative minds chat about making the film; bonus episodes of the “Justice League” animated series, “Legends, Part One” and “Legends, Part Two”; a sneak peek at the next DC Universe movie, Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One; and previously released preview featurettes about the earlier DC movies Justice League vs. Teen Titans and Wonder Woman: Bloodlines.

Merchandising: Walmart Offers ‘Wonder Woman’ Gift Set; New Best Buy Steelbooks Include ‘Fury Road’

Walmart is selling an exclusive Blu-ray/DVD gift set of Warner’s 2017 superhero movie Wonder Woman that includes a wallet and slap bracelet for $14.96. It also comes with an $8 coupon for the sequel, WW84, whenever it opens in theaters (good through 2021).

The DVD catalog section at Walmart also offers a selection of Universal monster movies on DVD for $14.96 each with limited-edition glow-in-the-dark slipcases and exclusive Vudu digital copy.

Universal monster movie DVDs with glow-in-the-dark slipcases at Walmart

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Best Buy’s new Steelbooks for Sept. 29 include Warner’s Mad Max: Fury Road 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack for $29.99.

Best Buy’s ‘Evil Dead 1&2’ Steelbook

There are also two new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack Steelbooks from Lionsgate: 1978’s Halloween at $19.99, and an Evil Dead 1&2 double feature for $24.99.

Best Buy is also running a buy-two-get-one-free promotion covering dozens of titles, including Universal’s 1917 on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, and Parasite and The Photograph on Blu-ray.

Wonder Woman: The Complete Collection

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Warner;
Action;
$64.99 Blu-ray 10-disc set;
Not rated.
Stars Lynda Carter, Lyle Waggoner, Beatrice Colen, Richard Eastham, Debra Winger, Cloris Leachman, Carolyn Jones, Beatrice Straight, Norman Burton.

To speak of the 1970s “Wonder Woman” TV series immediately brings to mind Lynda Carter’s portrayal of the title character, which became so iconic that she is indelibly compared with any subsequent depictions of the DC Comics heroine. That’s a fortunate legacy for a series to have, as over time the fondness for her in the role seems to have overwhelmed the collective memory over specifics of the series, which is unmistakably a product of its decade.

The series was undoubtedly hampered by a haphazard production schedule in which the series’ format was constantly tinkered with. It began with a 1975 TV movie that more or less recounts Wonder Woman’s classic comic book origin: she becomes an emissary from the Amazon women to the United States after pilot Steve Trevor (Lyle Waggoner) crashes his plane into the hidden Paradise Island during World War II.

The subsequent 13-episode first season of the series, which aired on ABC from 1976 to 1977, maintained the period setting, with Wonder Woman in her alter ego of Diana Prince serving as Trevor’s yeoman at the War Department and assisting him in thwarting a ridiculous new Nazi plot each week.

After the first season, the show switched from ABC to CBS and was retooled to a modern-day setting, taking on the name “The New Adventures of Wonder Woman.” Fittingly, the first episode of season two is like a second pilot, as an envoy of secret agents led by Trevor’s son (also played by Waggoner) accidentally wanders into Paradise Island airspace. The Amazons learn that, 30 years after the defeat of the Nazis, that the world is plagued by a vague underground group of criminals seeking global domination, and send Wonder Woman back to America to keep an eye on things.

Thus, the second and third seasons find Diana rising up the ranks of a spy agency in Washington, D.C., foiling some goofy criminal plots, such as infiltrating a health spa whose owners are hypnotizing politicians’ wives into leaking government secrets, or investigating a comic book convention to find jewel thieves, or stopping mad scientists from cloning Adolf Hitler. With Diana subtly battling sexism while encouraging the male gaze, the influences of “Charlie’s Angels” and “Mission: Impossible” on the series’ writers are obvious.

Over time the trappings of the fictional spy agency became sillier, such as with the introduction of a little roving robot messenger that scampers around the office, the show’s version of R2-D2 of the recently released Star Wars, or K-9 from “Doctor Who,” another genre show with a very similar tone as “Wonder Woman.”

By the end of the third season, the show was retooled again to relocate Diana to Los Angeles. In addition to a new boss, her work as a secret agent would have been aided by a man genetically engineered to be indestructible, as well as a super-powered chimpanzee, plus a kid who kept sneaking into the office to sell the agents overpriced food and other knick-knacks. The “Arrowverse” it wasn’t.

Mercifully, the show was canceled so CBS could make room for “The Dukes of Hazzard” on the schedule.

It should be noted that the two-parter that ended up as the series finale was aired out of order, as it takes place before the L.A. episode. The airdate order is preserved on the Blu-ray.

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Another fun aspect to the series from a historical perspective is spotting a lot of recognizable faces of performers who would go on to bigger things. Of particular note in this regard is a young Debra Winger, who appeared in three first-season episodes as Drusilla, Diana’s younger sister who assists her as Wonder Girl.

Their mother, the queen of the Amazons, would end up being played throughout the run of the show by three different actresses, two of them Oscar winners: Cloris Leachman (Best Supporting Actress for 1971’s The Last Picture Show) in the TV movie pilot, Carolyn Jones in the first season, and Beatrice Straight (Best Supporting Actress for a five-minute scene in Network a few years prior) in the CBS years.

Jones, best known as Morticia in the 1960s “The Addams Family” TV series, also appeared in a handful of episodes of the campy but classic Adam West “Batman.” Likewise, keep an eye out for Frank Gorshin, who played The Riddler on “Batman,” as an old toymaker who creates an android duplicate of WW.

But the highlight of the series is definitely Carter, who quickly settles into the role and ably anchors the series throughout its many changes. Notice how quickly she adapts to performing Diana’s iconic spin to transform into Wonder Woman, a time-saving costume change invented by the show that has become a trait of the character in subsequent portrayals. Carter eventually perfects the spin into a graceful maneuver. Compare her twirls with Winger, who seems rather ungraceful in her spins to transform into Wonder Girl, since she didn’t get much chance to practice having appeared only in a handful of episodes.

With the introduction of the twirl as Diana’s quick-change method of choice, it’s interesting to see how the series develops rules for her powers. While the initial implication is that her powers stem from her Amazonian heritage, the second season retcons this a bit by suggesting she has no powers off the island without her magic costume on. Given how minimal the suit is, it makes one wonder why she doesn’t wear it under her clothes just to be safe. (Or maybe she does, given that she still tosses grown men across the room in a few episodes while still in her Diana garb).

The series also stretches the credulity of no one figuring out that Diana is Wonder Woman, her disguise of a pair of glasses apparently as effective for her as it was for Clark Kent. Somehow the ruse holds up even after Wonder Girl arrives at the same time as Diana’s sister, with both being the same size and neither wearing a mask. (In a recurring gag, the agency supercomputer seems to have figured it out, though.)

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This new Blu-ray compilation of the pilot movie and 59 episodes provides a nice restoration of the series given the source materials that must have been available, and production values that varied widely in quality, from mismatched stock footage, obvious edits to hide stunts, and visual effects that, while adequate for television in the 1970s, are a bit rough in retrospect.

Wonder Woman’s invisible plane, for example, is very obviously a model of a clear plastic airplane with a doll in it.

Indeed, very little is hidden in HD, and viewers will get the occasional peek of the edge of the soundstage in some shots.

Another gimmick of the series was the use of comic-book like title cards that pop up on the screen to explain transitions, though these are often riddled with typos and misspellings (such as Carribean instead of Caribbean in the first episode).

One episode, meant to take place in Hollywood in the 1940s, establishes the setting by using stock footage that switches from black and white to color as it tries to be period appropriate. Switching from WWII to a contemporary setting must have cleaned up a lot of production headaches for the producers, not to mention saved the network a pretty penny.

In some ways, though, the show may have been ahead of its time, exhibiting a scope and ambition limited curtailed by the logistics of television production. Despite these potential obstacles, Warner has done a great job cleaning up the show for high-def. The colors really pop and the 1970s of it all is part of the charm.

While the Blu-ray set includes a booklet with an episode guide arranged by season, it doesn’t indicate which episodes are on which disc, which can be annoying.

The Blu-ray also carries over the extras from the previous DVD season sets released in the early 2000s, without any new material.

These include a couple of episode commentaries, and a retrospective featurette for each season, which are presented in standard-definition.

For season one it’s the 21-minute “Beauty, Brawn and Bulletproof Bracelets: A Wonder Woman Retrospective”; season two has the 11-minute “Revolutionizing a Classic: From Comic Book to Television”; and season three offers the 14-minute “Wonder Woman: The Ultimate Feminist Icon.” All of which are self-explanatory given their titles, but are fun to watch nonetheless.

The old commentaries also are interesting to listen to, especially when Carter begins speculating on how a future movie might deal with the character. This is years before Gal Gadot took on the role for the big screen, though one gets the sense that Carter hasn’t given up the notion of playing her again, either.

Merchandising: Best Buy Selling New ‘Wonder Woman’ Steelbook

Best Buy July 28 began selling a new Steelbook edition of 2017’s Wonder Woman. The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment was likely planned as a promotional tie-in to its sequel, Wonder Woman 1984, which was originally slated to come out this summer but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, and is now tentatively slated for October.

The new Wonder Woman Steelbook is priced at $29.99.

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Best Buy is also taking preorders for its 4K Ultra HD Steelbook collector’s set of the complete series of “Game of Thrones” at $239.99. The release date is Nov. 3.

Walmart is offering early sales of Warner’s Deep Blue Sea 3 on Blu-ray and DVD. The title will be widely available Aug. 25. The disc is also available early for rental through Redbox kiosks.

Warner Releasing 1970s ‘Wonder Woman’ Series on Blu-ray July 28

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release Wonder Woman: The Complete Collection on Blu-ray Disc July 28.

The 10-disc set will include the original 1975 pilot movie, The New Original Wonder Woman, and all 59 episodes of the 1977-79 live-action series remastered in high-definition.

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The show starred Lynda Carter as the Amazonian superhero. The first season on ABC was set during World War II, while the second and third seasons on CBS brought Wonder Woman to the modern times of the 1970s.

The cast also included Lyle Waggoner as Steve Trevor, Debra Winger as Wonder Girl, Beatrice Colen as Etta Candy, and Richard Eastham as General Philip Blankenship. Guest stars included Rick Springfield, Red Buttons, Roy Rogers, Roddy McDowall, Frank Gorshin, Celeste Holm, Martin Mull, Dick Gautier, Ron Ely, Gary Burghoff, Leif Garrett, Ed Begley Jr., Dick Van Patten, Eve Plumb, Philip Michael Thomas, Cloris Leachman, Gavin MacLeod, Carolyn Jones, Joan Van Ark, Robert Reed, Anne Francis, John Saxon and more.

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Extras include audio commentary on the pilot movie by Carter and executive producer Douglas S. Cramer; commentary by Carter on episode “My Teenage Idol is Missing”; and the featurettes “Beauty, Brawn and Bulletproof Bracelets: A Wonder Woman Retrospective,” “Revolutionizing a Classic: From Comic Book to Television” and “Wonder Woman: The Ultimate Feminist Icon.”

Warner Bros.’ ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ Still Going to Theaters, Not Streaming — For Now

Warner Bros. remains on schedule to release summer tentpole title Wonder Woman 1984 in theaters June 4. The sequel to 2017 box office and home entertainment blockbuster Wonder Woman again stars Gal Gadot in the title role, along with co-stars Chris Pine, Robin Wright and Connie Nielsen. Kristen Wiig and Pedro Pascal are newcomers in the sequel.

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With Warner accelerating home entertainment releases for a number of theatrical titles due to coronavirus fears shuttering theaters worldwide, scuttlebutt suggested the studio would deliver Wonder Woman straight to retail channels and/or WarnerMedia Entertainment’s pending SVOD service, HBO Max.

But that scenario, thus far, seems remote, according to media reports citing people familiar with the situation.

Warner confirmed to several media sources the movie remains earmarked for the traditional 90-day theatrical window. The 2017 movie generated more than $820 million at the global box office.

“We’re looking to release the movie theatrically, that’s our plan,” Jeff Goldstein, president of domestic distribution, told The Wrap.

The movie’s producer, Charles Roven, in a separate interview, said it was “ludicrous” to consider shipping Wonder Woman 1984 straight to over-the-top distribution.

“Everybody recognizes that, as interesting as streaming might be, if you want a huge, global worldwide box office, you’ve got to release it in a movie theater,” Roven said.

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With a reported $200 million production budget, taking the movie directly to SVOD would significantly undermine the title’s return-on-investment. Offering the sequel directly to transactional VOD and packaged media would require significant unit sales that did not materialize for Wonder Woman.

Lightshed Partners analyst Richard Greenfield suggests that replacing the gross profit from a $1 billion theatrical release would require upwards of 21 million transactional VOD units sold at $30 each — the price point of the short-lived premium VOD distribution business model.

In addition, bypassing theatrical for a movie like Wonder Woman could permanently undermine the theatrical window — a scenario the National Association of Theatre Owners has no interest exploring.

The trade group said such a move ignores the underlying financial “logic” of studio investment in theatrical titles. To avoid catastrophic losses to the studios, NATO said big-budget titles must have the fullest possible theatrical release around the world.

“While one or two releases may forgo theatrical release, it is our understanding from discussions with distributors that the vast majority of deferred releases will be rescheduled for theatrical release as life returns to normal,” NATO said in a statement.

 

Merchandising: Retailers Singing ‘Hakuna Matata’ With ‘Lion King’ Exclusives

Disney’s remake of The Lion King arrived on disc Oct. 22 with a couple of opportunities for fans to pick up exclusive collectible editions.

Target offered the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with 40-page gallery book for $34.99. Target also touted an exclusive gold vinyl soundtrack for $17.99

Best Buy had a Steelbook edition of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray for $34.99.

Best Buy’s ‘Lion King’ Steelbook

Walmart offers the Lion King CD soundtrack with an exclusive Simba poster for $11.88.

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Target’s ‘Wonder Woman: Bloodlines’ Steelbook

Another of the week’s new releases grabbing some exclusives attention was Warner’s Wonder Woman: Bloodlines. Target offered the Blu-ray combo pack of the animated film in a Blu-ray Steelbook for $19.99.

Best Buy’s ‘Wonder Woman: Bloodlines’ with figurine

Best Buy had the Wonder Woman: Bloodlines 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with a pack-in Wonder Woman figurine for $29.99.

Other Best Buy exclusives during the week included a Steelbook of the new 4K UHD BD of the 2000 version of Charlie’s Angels for $24.99. Also, “Fast & Furious” fans can preorder the Hobbs & Shaw 4K Steelbook for $34.99 and gain instant access to a digital copy of the film.