Friday, November 16, 2012

New Theatrical Release: Year-to-Date Comparisons

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The Criterion Collection Sets February Release Slate

The Criterion Collection, with sales and distribution expertise provided by Image Entertainment, announced its Feb. ’13 line-up this past week … a delightful mix of foreign-language imports anchored by one all-American classic, auteur filmmaker Elia Kazan’s 1954 Best Picture winner, On the Waterfront.

On the Waterfront is set for Feb. 19 (timed to take advantage of the Oscar telecast of Feb. 24) as both a double-disc Blu-ray edition and as a three-disc DVD collection, complete with a new digital restoration (and presented in two different aspect ratios 1.85:1 and 1.33:1 … which should raise a few eyebrows among cinefiles attracted to the Criterion brand since neither viewing choice is the “pure” 1.37 original theatrical aspect ratio), a newly-prepared commentary and more.

The commentary features the teaming of film critic Richard Schickel with Elia Kazan biographer Jeff Young (“Kazan: The Master Director Discusses His Film”), plus there is a separate “Conversation” (featurette) between fellow auteur Martin Scorsese and film critic Kent Jones.

Other bonus goodies include documentary filmmaker Annie Tresgot’s 1982 film, Elia Kazan: An Outsider, David Naylor’s 2001 short documentary titled Contender: Mastering the Method (an in-depth look at the pivotal scene between Rod Steiger and Marlon Brando) and four separate video interviews — one vintage: Elia Kazan in 2001 and three newly-minted, including one with Eva Maria Saint.

Kid With A Bike From the Criterion Collection, Feb. 12
Another award-winning film getting the Criterion treatment in February is that of the writing/directing team of Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne’s Cannes Film Festival Grand Prix-winner, The Kid With a Bike.

This French-language import (from Belgium actually) arrives in the domestic market as a stand alone Blu-ray SKU and as a double-disc DVD product offering on Feb. 12.  The ARR comes in at 333 days and the ticket sales were a very nice $1.4 million (a solid number for a foreign-language film).

What makes The Kid With a Bike and interesting — even riveting — piece of cinema is that the brothers Dardenne (L’Enfant, Rosetta, etc.) have deftly blended the elements of a classic British “Kitchen Sink” drama with those of a lyrical fairy tale.  

The focal character, 12-year-old Cyril (newcomer Thomas Doret), is cut from the same mold as Tom Courtenay’s character in director Tony Richardson’s 1962 film masterpiece, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner.   Angry, alone and headed for a world of hard times and crime … he’s even a ward of the state (Cyril’s father has abandoned him).   

Instead of the dreary black and white world of those post-war British films, The Kid With a Bike has been infused with color and hope, which comes in the form of the beautiful 30ish Samantha (Cécile De France — Hereafter, Russian Dolls, etc.), who — for reasons that are never quite explained — takes an interest in the brutish, angry boy.  An “angel” of redemption and hope, perhaps.

Bonus features include interviews with the two stars, Cécile de France and Thomas Doret, a “Conversation” with the filmmakers and film critic Kent Jones and the half hour documentary titled Return to Seraing.

Rounding out February release calendar from the Criterion Collection are two Japanese film classics, Ballad of Narayama (Feb. 5 — director Keisuke Kinoshita, 1958 … 1961 release in the U.S.) and Sansho the Bailiff (Feb. 26 — director Kenji Mizoguchi, 1954 … 1955 domestically), plus the 1961 experimental cinéma vérité film from French filmmaker Jean Rouch, Chronicle of a Summer (also on Feb. 26).   

Blu-ray and DVD editions will be available for all three of these vintage foreign language imports.

For more information these February announcement, plus other Criterion Collection releases, please visit the company’s website at

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Lionsgate Opens Q1'13 Release Campaign

Lionsgate Home Entertainment has been busy of late in filling in its Q1’13 release calendar with a series of new product announcements for recent theatrical releases making their transition to the DVD and Blu-ray arena.

First up on Jan. 8 is the remake of the Stallone sci-fi comic book film adaptation from 1995, Judge Dredd, which has been shortened for the remake to just Dredd.

This vision of a hellish future arrives as both DVD and Blu-ray product SKUs — the Blu-ray version showcases both 3D and 2D versions of the film — that are complete with UltraViolet Digital Copy download option.  

The ARR for this January date works out to 109 days and the box office take was on the light side with just $13.4 million in ticket sales.

Bonus features common to both the DVD and Blu-ray release editions include five production featurettes, including one titled “Mega-City Masters: 35 Years of Judge Dredd.”

 Already announced and in place on Jan. 15 are DVD and Blu-ray SKUs for director Ole Bornedal’s outstanding horror chiller, The Possession.  For the record, the ARR came in at 137 days and the domestic box office was a tasty $49.1 million.

The Possession is the only theatrical release from the pre-Labor Day period grossing in excess of $25 million to be held over to Q1’13 … all others made the Christmas cut.  This was probably a smart move on the part of Lionsgate to sit on it since it is a genre flick that doesn’t really fit into the Christmas period.   

Despite the solid box gross, it is neither a blockbuster theatrical hit or for does the horror subject matter have any real significance for the holidays (Jan. 15 works just fine … nothing gained or missed by waiting a few weeks).
Perks of Being a Wallflower on Feb. 12

 The other announcement this week is the Feb. 12 DVD and Blu-ray launch of the Summit Entertainment-produced film adaptation of Stephen Chbosky’s 1999 first-person narrative novel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower.   Chbosky, who is probably best known for producing and writing the apocalyptic Jericho television series, delivered the screen adaptation for his novel and also directed the film.

The ARR comes in at 144 days and the box office tally — despite solid reviews — was just so-so at $14.6 million.

Both the DVD and Blu-ray editions will include the UltraViolet Digital Copy download option.  Other bonus features include two separate commentary options — one with Stephen Chobsky going solo and the other with Chobsky and members of the cast — plus there is the featurette titled “Best Summer Ever” and deleted scenes (with optional commentary).

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

New Theatrical Hits to DVD & Blu-ray Release Windows

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report

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Midnight Releasing's The Hounds Debuts Jan. 22

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report
Midnight Releasing will open its 2013 DVD release campaign on Jan. 22 with the directing tandem of Roberto and Maurizio Del Picco’s debut film under their Moviedel Productions banner, The Hounds.

Four college friends have their share of drinks in a English pub and decide that a jaunt into the nearby forest for some hiking and camping is a spot-on idea.  As one might suspect from a genre flick titled The Hounds, their beverage-induced plan will be anything but, spot-on.   

If you’ve seen your share of horror flicks, then your knee-jerk is that these are just “victims” being led to the slaughter, but brothers Del Picco have thrown in a few clever twists that keep the proceeding both inventive and fresh.   

For example, there’s an adjunct storyline that they cut to from time to time involving a Brit detective (Andy Callaghan) investigating some sort of case that doesn’t seem connected … but wait.  When our happy campers discover a half-buried body in the woods, it quickly comes to mind that this has something to do with whatever crime our half-soused copper is onto.  

But when the “corpse” rips into the lovely Sarah (Maddie Moate — Hearts & Minds), the scent of that connection goes out the window as we quickly scurry back to the old horror standby of our happy campers being nothing more than “victims” in the woods.
DVD & Blu-ray Release Report
Maddie Moate stars in The Hounds (Jan. 22 on DVD)

With The Hounds, you’d be wrong on all counts … there is something else going on in these creepy woods on what appears to be an otherwise bright and sunshiny day!

The only bonus goodie on the DVD is the “House of Noises” music video.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Jan. 15 For FilmWorks Entertainment's Tarology

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, FilmWorks Entertainment
Best-selling author and poet Enrique Enriquez (The Invisible Gemstone, The Invisible Tarot, etc.) will be the subject of the Jan. 15 DVD release from FilmWorks Entertainment.

Titled Tarology, this artist has turned the “art” and mysticism of Tarot card reading completely on its head by turning “readings” into storytelling … a performance, if you will.

Tarology tracks Enrique through the streets of Manhattan as he puts his storytelling gift to work for all to see and enjoy.  He is truly one of a kind when it comes to Tarot. 
Bonus features include extended interviews, a photo gallery and deleted scenes.

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Hannover House's Upon A Midnight Clear, Dec. 11

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report
Imagine getting a text message from God!  That’s exactly what happens to a lonely orphan girl named Frost Allicaster (Leah Gaston) in writer/director Arik Renee Avila’s Christmas season film, Upon a Midnight Clear.   Hannover House will be making it available on DVD this coming Dec. 11.

Very much in the spirit of It’s a Wonderful Life, this bullied and outcast preteen receives divine guidance from God, which transforms her life on the very eve of Christmas.  She has all but given up on the spirit of the season … doubts about herself and troubling relationship with her classmates are overcome as she embarks upon a journey of self-discovering in this delightful family-friendly film.

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Image Entertainment's Fast Girls, Feb. 26

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report
Image Entertainment has tabbed Feb. 26 as the domestic DVD debut date for the British sports film import, Fast Girls.

Director Regan Hall, using the run-up to the 2012 Olympics, takes what could have been a cliché-ridden sports saga of an unlikely underdog rising to the heights of national fame and has instead delivered a damn good little film.

Lenora Crichlow of Being Human fame, stars as the underdog with talent, while Lily James (Wrath of the Titans) is the more experienced athlete … together they overcome their own rivalry to become an unstoppable force!

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Inventory of $25 Million-Plus Theatrical Releases

Calendar of $25 Million-Plus Theatrical Releases as of week ending November 9, 2012.

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Assassins From Well Go USA on Jan. 8

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report
On Jan. 8, Well Go USA will deliver DVD and Blu-ray editions of director Linshan Zhao sumptuously-produced Han Dynasty-era tale of palace intrigue, The Assassins (presentation will be in both the original Mandarin as well as an English dubbed viewing option).

Veteran Chow Yun Fat stars as would-be Emporor Cao Cao, who only needs a move or two more to successfully achieve his goal.   But forces have been set in motion — based on astrological signs — that may bring him down.

Key to the plans to bring Cao Cao down are lovers and secret assassains Mu Shun (Tamaki Hiroshi — The Lady Shogun and Her Men, Midnight Eagle) and Gong Ling Ju (Crystal Liu Yifei — White Vengeance).

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Paramount Doubles-Up On Comedy In January

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report
Paramount Home Media Distribution will be serving-up the laughs on back to back Tuesdays in January with the Comedy Central DVD releases titled Chris Hardwick: Mandroid (Jan. 22) and Amy Schumer: Mostly Sexy Stuff (Jan. 29).

Chris Hardwick is one busy man, from stand-up comedian to voice talent (as Otis in the Barnyard), from recording artist (as part of Hard ‘n Phirm) to radio DJ (Los Angeles-based KROQ-FM) … and he has even found time to be in such Rob Zombie films as House of 1000 Corpses and Halloween 2.

So now it’s time for his first Comedy Central special with Chris Hardwick: Mandroid, which arrives on DVD extended and uncensored.  A free-wheeling list of comedy targets include “virginity,” “shark vaginas” (really?) and “chess club” … whoa!!

Amy Schumer is the whole package.  Smart, beautiful and laugh-your-ass off funny in her stand-up routines … plus 2012 saw her in three films, including Seeking a Friend for the End of the World and Sleepwalk With Me.

Amy Schumer: Mostly Sexy Stuff is her one-hour Comedy Central special, which was filmed live at the Fillmore Theatre in San Francisco … dating, her sex life and more are all fair game for her to explore.

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The Python's Are Back On Feb. 12!!!

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report
Virgil Films & Entertainment has tabbed Feb. 12 as the DVD and Blu-ray debut date for the Monty Python animated tell-all “documentary” (wink wink, nod nod), A Liar’s Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman.

The ARR is 102 days and the one-theatre test run generated ticket sales of $5,102 (hey, it’s Oscar-eligible for Best Animated something or other).  

Of course Graham Chapman has been gone since 1989 (cancer), so pure Monty Python films have been a little hard to come by, but this little delight gets around that by using Graham Chapman’s own audio book narration for the necessary insights provided here … the animation (stop-motion, cartoons … you name it — think: Monty Python animation) takes care of the rest.

Virgil has a major hit in the making here and has generously given themselves three full months to work the streets … spread the word, Monty Python is (are?) back!!!

As to bonus goodies, the word is that there will be over an hour’s worth included on both the DVD and Blu-ray SKUs … unspecified at this time.

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Green Apple Entertainment's Rule Of Law, Jan. 29

DVD and Blu-ray Release Report
Green Apple Entertainment has targeted Jan. 29 as the DVD debut date for writer/director Moziko Wind’s international terror thriller, The Rule of Law.

Armed with a screenplay literally ripped from today’s news headlines, cinematographer-turned-producer Moziko Wind (Diamond Dawgs, Unsigned) has fashioned an interesting thriller that has an Iranian terror cell leading the FBI on wild goose chases by framing innocent Americans for terror acts that are not of their doing.

But what makes the storyline especially sinister is that they are getting help from within.  FBI Director Frank Fitzgerald (Circus-Szalewski — Zombies vs. Strippers, The Chicago 8, Shades of Julia, etc.) is revealed as the mastermind behind the bombings and terror attacks — motivated by the raw human emotion of revenge.

His latest random target is divorcee Tom Cali (John Brody — Who Stole the Electric Car?, Crucifix Wizard), who is arrested in front of his young son for killing 17 people at a local upscale coffee bistro bombing.   Hauled into FBI headquarters his fate has already been predetermined … signed, sealed and delivered as a mass murderer.

Peppered with twists and turns, Cali suddenly finds an unexpected ally — the daughter of another framed “terrorist” (played by Stephanie Betesh), who knows that Cali is as innocent as her father.   She helps him escape, but that’s just one of those “out of the frying pan and into the fire” set-ups as one of the Cali’s terror victims was the sister of a local gang leader who has vowed revenge!

On the run from the law for his heinous act of mass murder and the target of one Los Angeles’ most powerful street gangs, it is just a matter of time before Tom Cali ends up dead.

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Mill Creek Sets First Wave For Q1'13Mill Creek Sets First Wave For Q1'13

Mill Creek Entertainment
Mill Creek Entertainment announced its first wave of home entertainment products for Q1’13 this past week … two waves streeting on Jan. 8 and Jan. 15.

Leading the pack on Jan. 8 is the seven-disc, priced-to-own mid-90s TV sitcom teaming John Ritter with Markie Post (plus the likes of Billy Bob Thornton, Clark Duke and Ed Asner) in Hearts Afire: The Complete Series.   All 54 episodes are included, plus the unaired bonus episode from the third season titled “The Outsider.”

Bonus goodies include a blooper reel and outtakes.

Also heading to market in the first group will be both DVD and Blu-ray editions of the seven-part documentary series titled Guns: The Evolution of Firearms.   The series traces the history of firearms over a 400 year period with special emphasis on the weapons of the Civil War and World Wars I and II.  

The double-disc DVD edition is priced at just $9.98, while the Blu-ray SKU carries the eye-popping pricing of just $14.98 (a major bargain for over four and half hours of high quality programming).

Also for history buffs on Jan. 8 is the 10-disc collection titled The Definitive Civil War Collection — 28 hours worth of programming for just $29.98 (and that’s before discounts at retail).

There will also be three-disc DVD editions of 3rd Rock from the Sun: The Complete Season Five and 3rd Rock from the Sun: The Complete Season Six, plus eight priced-to-own volumes of Baby First DVDs featured in the Jan. 8 release package, along with a three-disc collection (showcasing 23 episodes) of Fury: The Lost Episodes (starring Peter Graves).

Rounding out this first wave will be the five-part, double-disc collection titled Hollywood: Streets of Gold (a look at the Hollywood studios and their stars with hosts Gene Kelly, Henry Fonda, John Huston and Burt Reynolds) and the documentary titled The Secret (bonus features include commentary, outtakes, deletes scenes and a behind the scenes featurette). 

Shifting to Jan. 15, we find the eight film, four-disc DVD collection titled Star-Studded Dramas, which showcases such films as All the Pretty Horses, The Squid and the Whale and Running with Scissors) … the SRP is just $19.98.

There are also two box sets streeting on Jan. 15 — Go West!: America’s Western Frontier (a five-disc collection) and WWII: America Joins the Fight (a seven-disc set).

For more information on these products (and more), please visit the company’s website at

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