Saturday, February 13, 2016

FilmWorks Entertainment Selects Apr. 19 For Award-Winning Documentary Filmmakers Phil Deutschle and Robyn Hutman’s Searching For Nepal

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
FilmWorks Entertainment has tagged Apr. 19 as the DVD debut date for documentary filmmakers Phil Deutschle and Robyn Hutman’s Searching For Nepal

Phil Deutschle is a teacher, a writer and a filmmaker.   He is a gentle man, a caring man … the sort of individual that if you met on a remote trail while out hiking you would immediately take a liking to.   He is an individual who appears to be at peace with the world.

Back in 1977, with a degree in Physics from California State University, Northridge (magna cum laude, by the way), he elected to join the Peace Corps and cast his fate upon the wind before settling down to a career.    

The “wind” carried him to the village of Aiselukharkaa, a remote hamlet in Nepal, where he met the patriarch of his new (host) family, Krishna Bhakta.   He credits Krishna Bhakta with his survival during his teaching experience in Nepal (teaching math and science).   

He even wrote a book about his experiences during this period … it was published in 1986 and titled, “The Two Year Mountain.”

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyNow skip ahead 34 years from his initial arrival in this remote locale … since his departure there was a civil war, the infamous massacre of King Birendra and his family in 2001 and a country thrown into chaos.   In this award-winning documentary we join our gentle hero as he embarks upon a journey to discover the fate of Krishna Bhakta and his family.   

Searching For Nepal is an incredibly beautiful and heartfelt journey … one that you will long remember after the film ends.

Director John Crowley's Brooklyn Gets A Mar. 15 DVD And Blu-ray Release Push From 20th Century-Fox Home Entertainment

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
20th Century-Fox Home Entertainment announced this past week that director John Crowley’s Best Picture nominee, Brooklyn, will be heading to the home entertainment market place on Mar. 15 as both DVD and Blu-ray product offerings.

The ARR is 130 days and theatrical ticket sales currently stand at $32.4 million.

In addition to the Oscar nomination for Best Picture, Brooklyn is also competing in the Best Actress category (Saoirse Ronan — she was previously nominated as Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Atonement) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Nick Hornby for his adaptation of Colm Tóibín’s 2009 novel of the same name — Hornby was previously nominated for his screenplay adaptation of An Education by journalist Lynn Barber).

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
As to bonus goodies, director John Crowley (Closed Circuit, Intermission, etc.) provides commentary, plus there are six featurettes — “The Story,” “Home,” “Love,” “Cast,” “The Making of Brooklyn” and “Book to Screen” — plus a photo gallery.   Exclusive to the Blu-ray SKU are 11 deleted and extended scenes with optional director’s commentary.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Grease Live! On DVD From Paramount Home Media On Mar. 8

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
It was the WORD; the buzz on Sunday evening Jan. 31.   Would co-directors Thomas Kail and Alex Rudzinski, along with their cast and technical crew, be able to pull off a live performance of Grease.    

This wasn’t at some local high school auditorium or at the nearby dinner theatre, but a top-of-the-line production filmed on the Warner Bros. Studios’ back lot and broadcast on Fox nationally — LIVE!   And with a major weather event (60-plus mile-an-hour winds and a torrential downpour) occurring in the Southern California area during the broadcast.

Over 12 million viewers tuned in and, by all accounts, enjoyed every minute of it.   The broadcast was a hit; a smash!

Paramount Home Media announced within 48 hours of the broadcast that a DVD edition will be available for fans to enjoy again — or for those who missed the national live telecast — on Mar. 8.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Julianne Hough (Emmy-winning dancer for her work on Dancing with the Stars, plus in such films as Footloose (Ariel), Rock of Ages, Safe Haven, etc.) stars as good girl Sandy, with Aaron Tveit (Les Misérables and as Mike in the Graceland television series) co-starring as Danny Zuko.    The plum role of Rizzo went to Vanessa Hudgens (best known as Gabriella from the High School Musical trio of movies) and as a sweet touch, Didi Conn, who shown so brightly as Frenchy in the original theatrical release of Grease (way back in 1978), does a nice turn here as Vi (Joan Blondell’s character in the original).

As to bonus goodies, Paramount has prepared a behind-the-scenes look at production, which includes cast interviews, plus the featurettes titled “Without a Net: Performing Grease Live!,” “Becoming the “T-Birds” and Pink Ladies,” “Greasin’ up the Joint,” “Be-Bop, Swing and Jitterbug: The Choreography of Grease Live!,” “When Was Your First … ?” and “My Favorite Grease Moment.”

VCI Prepares A Hi-Def Edition Of Screenwriter Dalton Trumbo's The Brave One For A Blu-ray Debut On Apr. 26

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
In director Jay Roach’s biopic, Trumbo (currently in theatrical release and heading to DVD and Blu-ray on Feb. 16 from Universal Studios), Bryan Cranston received a Best Actor nomination for his performance as blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo.    

During the course of the film much is made of his “front” submitting scripts to King Brothers Productions, which was headed by Frank King (aka: Frank Kozinsky) — played in the film by John Goodman — a wheeler-dealer that didn’t care one way or another about Trumbo’s communist leanings, his troubles with congress or his blacklisting by the Hollywood Studios.   He like his scripts … it was just business, and besides, Trumbo needed the money and worked on the cheap.

Most of the material that Dalton Trumbo worked on was commercial, B-movie fodder and in the movie he also does numerous “script-doctoring” fixes for Frank King.   Trumbo was fast, inexpensive and very good at what he did.

In 1956, as the story goes, he had this idea for an A-movie script and pitched it to Frank King, who saw gold in what he read and whole-heartedly agreed to produce the film.   All of this true — Trumbo’s blacklisting, his relationship with Frank King and this really terrific idea that he had for a film in 1956.

The film in question was The Brave One, directed by Irving Rapper and written by Robert Rich — legend has it that this was one of Frank King’s nephews — which served quite well as a pseudonym for Dalton Trumbo.    So imagine everyone’s surprise when the film receives three Oscar nominations — one for Best Film Editing, a second for Best Sound and a third for Best Screenplay!   
DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

It gets better, Robert Rich wins — there is no Robert Rich to accept the Oscar at the ceremonies on Mar. 27 at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood (this was the fifth Oscar live telecast).

Dalton Trumbo would eventually be recognized for the Oscar in his own name, plus another one for Roman Holiday in 1953 that was fronted by Ian McLellan Hunter.

Word arrived this past week that VCI Entertainment, taking full advantage of the awareness being generated by Trumbo, has gone to the vaults and prepared a hi-def transfer of The Brave One for delivery on Blu-ray this coming Apr. 26.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

The Film Detective Preps Ten New Film Restorations For The DVD Market Place On Feb. 9

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
The Film Detective announced this past week that there are ten more priced-to-collect film restorations heading to DVD on Feb. 9.

Leading the hit parade is director William A. Seiter’s 1950 film release of Borderline, teaming Fred MacMurray and Claire Trevor in something of a romantic comedy/thriller that involves drug dealing.   It could have been much darker, the prevailing film noir trend of the day, but Universal Studios elected to play it safe.

Trevor is an undercover Los Angeles cop — a former WWII operative — who has been dispatched south of the border to use her skills to infiltrate a drug smuggling operation run by none other than future Perry Mason star, Raymond Burr.   Meanwhile, MacMurray is a member of a rival smuggling group hell bent on taking over Burr’s lucrative network, he just needs to crack the ins and outs of Burr’s organization.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
An uneasy alliance is formed between the two “crooks” — MacMurray and Trevor — who follow a shipment north.   Will the two have a falling out … or is there something else going on?  

Next up is filmmaker Charles Lamont’s 1945 film release of Salome, Where She Danced, which is another Universal Studios’ production that was filmed in Technicolor and starring Yvonne De Carlo in the film that is credited with launching her career.   

Loosely based on actual events, De Carlo is a dancer named Anne Marie, who is on the run from a disastrous spying attempt during the Austro-Prussian War and finds herself on the American frontier trying to scratch out a living with her nemesis, Count Erik Von Bohlen (Albert Dekker), hot on her trail.   Ron Cameron, Walter Slezak and David Bruce round out the cast.
DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

Other Westerns included in the Apr. 9 DVD release mix from the Film Detective include Brothers of the West (1937, starring Tom Tyler and directed by “Jungle” Sam Katzman), Bulldog Courage (1935, Tim McCoy teams with Joan Woodbury), The Old Corral (1936, directed by Joseph Kane and starring Gene Autry), Secret Valley (1937, featuring Richard Arlen and Virginia Grey) and the early John Wayne B-Western, Riders of Destiny (1933).

Rounding out the release package are the early sound travelogue from writer/director Walter Futter (filmed in the wilds of the Belgian Congo) and titled Africa Speaks!; director Wallace Fox’s 1944 entry into The East Kids film series, Million Dollar Kid, and lastly, the Cab Calloway musical review (with a plot) from 1947, Hi-De-Ho!

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

Mill Creek Entertainment Adds Six Title Hammer Films DVD Collection To It's Apr. 5 Release Calendar

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Mill Creek Entertainment has expanded its April collectible product offerings with word this week that a double-disc DVD selection titled Hammer Films Collection, Volume Two has been added to its release calendar for delivery to retail on Apr. 5.

Priced at just $14.98 are six vault treasures from the venerable Hammer Films library, including a couple of hard to find films that will have collectors and film buffs snatching this DVD set up come Apr. 5 for those alone.

This “six-pack” of Hammer Films kicks off with director Terence Fisher’s 1958 gem, The Revenge of Frankenstein, a sequel to The Curse of Frankenstein and once again starring Peter Cushing — only this time as “Doctor Victor Stein.”  

He escaped his fate and has changed his identity and has morphed into a successful physician who graciously donates his time and skills to the local hospital … and therein lies the problem.   He is recognized, blackmailed into returning to his old experimental ways and, yes, disaster once again follows.   Terence Fisher and scriptwriter Jimmy Sangster had a gift for delivering Frankenstein and Dracula movies during this period that were lush in their production values and deliciously wicked in their storytelling.   

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
 It didn’t hurt to have Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee on hand as the stars of these films either; classics, one and all!!

Never Take Sweets from a Stranger (aka: Never Take Candy from a Stranger) is a 1960 film directed by Cyril Frankel that was an adaptation of Roger Garis’ stage play, “The Pony Cart.”   Two young girls come face to face with a rich pedophile, whose predilections are covered up by officials … an offbeat and unexpected film from Hammer.   Well worth a look … a different sort of “horror” tale.

Director Michael Carreras joined the Hammer Films brethren by teaming with scripter Jimmy Sangster for the 1963 film release of Maniac.  He would go on to do The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb, Prehistoric Women and The Lost Continent.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyHere, American drifter Jeff Farrell (played by Kerwin Mathews — The 7th Voyage of Sinbad) gets seduced by a daughter (Liliane Brousse) and then by her mother (Nadia Gray) into helping them free a deranged killer from prison.  All is not as it seems!  Run, Jeff, run!!

Another Jimmy Sangster screenplay takes the form of The Snorkle, a 1958 murder mystery directed by Guy Green (Oscar-winner from his cinematography work on Great Expectations) and starring Mandy Miller as Candy, the only one who is convinced that a “family friend” by the name of Paul Decker (Peter van Eyck) is responsible for the murder of not only her mother, but her father as well.   Will she be the next to go?

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyDie! Die! My Darling is a nifty 1965 film, directed by Silvio Narizzano (who would do Georgy Girl the following year) and starring Stefanie Powers as Patricia, a sweet young woman who is just trying to do the right thing by visiting Mrs. Trefoile (Tallulah Bankhead), but soon becomes her prisoner as she must repent or die … or both!

And lastly, the Hammer Films Collection, Volume Two contains director Don Chaffey’s 1971 film release of Creatures the World Forgot … it stars Bond Girl Julie Ege as a cave woman.   A guilty pleasure if there ever was one!

Actor?: A Documentary On DVD And Blu-ray Mar. 8 Courtesy Of Summer Hill Films

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Summer Hill Films, with sales and distribution expertise provided by MVD Entertainment Group, will be bringing both DVD and Blu-ray editions of director David Rich’s documentary, Actor?: A Documentary, to market on Mar. 8.

This film is part “how to,” mixed with video sessions culled from interviewing over 200 working actors — their experiences, tips and insights on what to expect if this is your career choice.   That could a pretty boring gab fest — a bunch of egos run amok — but Rich has cleverly mixed in animated characters with comments from the likes of Ed Asner, Dee Wallace, Alan Thicke and Robert Loggia to make this a fun ride.

CJ Entertainment's The Veteran Arrives On DVD On Apr. 5

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
“It’s not a problem until you make it one.”  Is that a warning?  A reminder?  Or, is it just a piece of friendly advice?   You decide, but you are not too far into director Ryoo Seung-wan’s pedal-to-the-metal action comedy, The Veteran, when the answer becomes abundantly clear.

This blockbuster import from South Korea has been given an Apr. 5 domestic DVD release date by CJ Entertainment.  The film, a monster theatrical hit in South Korea, pulled in a very respectable $1.2 million in its stateside run and arrives in the home entertainment market place with an ARR of 200 days.

The streets of Seoul, South Korea are nothing more than the workplace of Detective Seo Do-cheol (Hwang Jung-min — New World, Ode to My Father, The Himalayas, etc.).   He knows these streets well and is quick in his dealings with criminals who would mess with his “workplace.”   That is established early on with a marvelous opening set-piece by filmmaker Ryoo Seung-wan (The Berlin File, The Unjust, The City of Violence, etc.).

Fresh from this big bust, our boy heads over to a local upscale water hole where he runs into bad boy Jo Tae-oh (Yoo Ah-In — The Throne, Sado, Fashion King, etc.), a well-connected playboy (thug, with style) who Seo Do-cheol sizes up as an addict, despite his obvious wealth.   This is going to be easy, he’s an ass, he’s rich and he’s into drugs … but damn, every attempt to bring him down is met with a go-slow warning from his superiors.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyMeanwhile, the inside informer who helped our detective with the big car thief bust that opened the film suddenly decides to kill himself.   Is that a red flag or what?   It doesn’t take long for our super sleuth to connect the dots that lead point by point by point right to Jo Tae-oh.

As Sherlock Holmes would say, “Come, Watson, come! The game is afoot,” and so is this high stakes game between Seo Do-cheol and the highly protected Jo Tae-oh … bring him down by finding clever ways to sidestep orders from above!

The Veteran is presented in Korean with English subtitles.

Sho Kosugi's Rage Of Honor On Blu-ray Mar. 15 From Arrow Video

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Arrow Video, with sales and distribution support provided by MVD Entertainment Group, will be bringing a hi-def transfer of director Gordon Hessler’s 1987 revenge thriller, Rage of Honor, to the Blu-ray market place on Mar. 15.

Japanese martial artist, Sho Kosugi, expands his stereotypical “ninja” role here to include that of Shiro Tanaka, a narco cop out for revenge when his partner is murdered.  A drug lord by the name of Havlock is at the top of the food change that Shiro must “chomp” his way through during 92 minutes worth of bone-snapping action!

Bonus features include a newly minted video session with Sho Kosugi titled “Sho and Tell Part 2: The Domination” and vintage trailer gallery that includes Enter the Ninja, Revenge of the Ninja, Pray for Death and Rage of Honor.

Anchor Bay Entertainment Selects Mar. 15 As The Street Date For DVD And Blu-ray Editions Of Director Todd Haynes' Oscar Nominated Carol

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Director Todd Haynes’ Oscar nominated film, Carol, will be getting a Blu-ray and DVD push from Anchor Bay Entertainment on Mar. 15. 

Despite six Oscar nominations, including Cate Blanchett for Best Actress in the title role as novelist Patricia Highsmith’s Carol Aird from her 1952 novel, “The Price of Salt,” Rooney Mara for Best Supporting Actress and Phillis Nagy for her screenplay adaptation, plus Oscar nods for Cinematography, Costume Design and Musical Score, Carol has failed to generate much interest at the box office.

As of Feb. 3 the film had pulled in just $11.5 million in ticket sales and is now playing on only 313 screens nationwide.   The attempt to platform for the film didn’t quite work out as planned … in fairness, it did get the Oscar nods (among other award considerations), but the theatre goers these days are attracted to bright shiny objects and films such as Carol can easily be put off to digital downloads.

For the record the ARR works out to an industry average of 116 days.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyIt will be up to Anchor Bay Entertainment to rescue any chances the film has of reaching a wider viewing audience.  The VOD window is 11 days prior to the arrival of the DVD and Blu-ray editions, which could put a damper on sales there as well.   

Carol is yet another example of “Hollywood” in crisis these days.   Film producers and distributer either need to increase the price of digital streams or change the windows … or both.   The current model is yielding fewer and fewer viable theatrical hit and consumers are simply taking the least line of resistance to movie viewing when the platforms and incentives are set up in this fashion.

As to bonus goodies, Anchor Bay Entertainment has included a “Behind the Scenes” features and a Q&A video session with unspecified cast and crew members.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

A Slow Start To 2016 For New Theatrical Hits Is A Trend That Bears Watching

New theatrical releases drive the home entertainment market.   Period.

Sure, this category only accounts for 4.8 percent of all DVD releases and 25.9 percent of all Blu-ray product offerings (a significantly higher percentage since many popular DVD release categories — Special Interest, Fitness, Kidvid, etc. — don’t translate well to the HD market place), but this category disproportionately generates revenues well beyond the respective SKU release shares.

With this said, the opening stanza of 2016 has been nothing short of a disaster for new theatrical release trends.   Yes, it is early.   And yes, the East Coast did get hammered with a major blizzard that disrupted commerce over one of the four weekends during the month of January.   So things could change; things could improve.

If last year (2015) was bad with just 94 films grossing in excess of $25 million, then 2016 is going to blow that away with potentially the worst crop of box office hits in the past 20 years.  That is, if trends hold.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

Using the past five years as a baseline, roughly 7.5 percent of all theatrical releases for the year have already made their way to theatres.   If you compare the results for 2016, the market is currently pointing to 100 fewer films being released overall and only 82 of the combined number having the potential of grossing in excess of $25 million during their theatrical runs (industry average, for a point of reference, is about 102 per year).

It is all but certain that these numbers will improve.   They have to … there’s no way that “Hollywood” would only generate a crop of 82 films in one year with a box office take in excess of $25 million.   

It can’t happen, it just can’t happen, but if it did happen, there would be blood in the streets.   There would be a massive meltdown of the entertainment industry’s social and economic order.   We’re talking about a zombie apocalypse!

It is still early, we can keep telling ourselves that.   New theatrical releases drive all downstream revenue pools — VOD, home entertainment, cable, etc. — so the industry can’t live with that sort of pending disaster.   The numbers will improve as the weeks roll by and order will be restored … until then, a close watch on this unsettling trend bears close scrunity.