Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is moving quickly to clear its slate of 2015 theatrical releases that weren’t quite there in terms of their anticipated performance levels at the box office.
Pan got shuffled off to the home entertainment market place with a stunningly-fast ARR of 74 days —Katy Perry: Part of Me and Pan are the only two new theatrical releases in the history of either the DVD or Blu-ray formats, with a box office gross of at least $25 million, to make the transition from nationwide multiplexes to home entertainment that quickly.
Pan cost a pretty penny, didn’t generate the ticket sales hoped for … and it appears that Warner Bros. decided to book that loss in Q4’15 with the ultra quick to market DVD and Blu-ray push on Dec. 22.
The same holds true for We are Your Friends (an ARR of just 81 days), Our Brand is Crisis (95 days) and Water Diviner (also 95 days).
Just because they under-performed at the box office doesn’t mean that these are bad movies — geeze, just look at Sony Pictures’ The Walk, one of the best movies of 2015, but it was a dud at the box office (perhaps too many people intimidated by extreme heights).
So when word arrived this past week from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment that director Patricia Riggen’s film adaptation of writer Hector Tobar’s “Deep Down Dark” — retitled for the screen as simple The 33 — was heading to DVD and Blu-ray on Feb. 16 it came as no surprise that the ARR was once again 95 days.
The harrowing tale — based on actual events — recounts the plight of 33 Chilean miners trapped in the San José copper mine located near Copiapó, Chile back in 2010. Even with the film presented in English and with Antonio Banderas in the lead, The 33 only managed to pull in $11.9 million in domestic ticket sales (less than half of its reported production budget).
As to bonus goodies, there is one featurette common to both of the DVD and Blu-ray SKUs, “The 33 The World Was Watching.” Exclusive to the Blu-ray edition is the featurette titled “The Mine Collapse.”
Also announced this week for the DVD market is director André Singer’s resurrected and restored Night Will Fall will be available on Jan. 26.
As the Allies rolled across Europe on their way to victory over the Nazis in the spring of 1945 they came across camps — concentration camps — crammed with the dead and dying. For soldiers who had fought in war, who had experienced the horror of combat first hand, the nightmare visions of these acres of barbed wire hell were beyond the pale.
General Eisenhower ordered that these atrocities be documented and thus the “German Concentration Camps Factual Survey” was launched under the supervision of Sidney Bernstein, co-founder of the London Film Society. His job was to recruit the talent necessary to document what took place at the various death camps (Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, Dachau, Buchenwald and more). To that end he recruited his life-long friend Alfred Hitchcock to supervise the direction.
The footage was shot — the hell on earth recorded — and quietly shelved. Discovered after 70 years, it is now available in his wrap-around documentary directed by André Singer and co-produced by Sally Angel and Brett Ratner.
Bonus features include a video session with historian Rainer Schulze and two short films from the period — Death Mills (1945, directed by Billy Wilder) and Oświęcim (circa 1945 by Soviet soldier Zinowy Tolkachev).
In other release news this week, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has gone to the vaults for some long-awaited DVD debuts. Streeting on Jan. 12 are a quartet of Westerns: The Younger Brothers (1949, directed by Edwin L. Marin, starring Wayne Morris, Bruce Bennett and Robert Hutton, with Geraldine Brooks and Janis Paige), Wild Bill Hickok Rides (released in January of 1942 — right after Pearl Harbor — directed by Ray Enright and co-starring Bruce Cabot and Constance Bennett), Station West (1948, directed by Sidney Lanfield, teaming Dick Powell with Jane Greer … others in the cast include Agnes Moorehead, Burl Ives and Raymond Burr) and Roughshod (1949, directed by Mark Robson, with Robert Sterling, John Ireland, Martha Hyer and Gloria Grahame).
Arriving on Jan. 19 is the rare Lucille Ball and Jack Oakie double-feature, The Affairs of Annabel and Annabel Takes a Tour (both released in 1938).
And Feb. 2 will see the DVD debut of a trio of classic action films from the early 1950s — Arctic Flight (1952, from Monogram Pictures, with direction by Lew Landers and teaming Wayne Morris and Lola Albright with Alan Hale Jr.), Desert Pursuit (also 1952 and again starring Wayne Morris, who is joined by Virginia Grey in a tale loosely based on Hi Jolly’s southwest camel experiment) and Mexican Manhunt (1953, directed by Rex Bailey, starring George Brent and Hillary Brooke).