Saturday, April 28, 2018

Special Report: 100-Day Window Will Be Cracked On June 12

The 8 ½ by 11-inch format of The DVD & Blu-ray Release Report (published as a pdf file) doesn’t lend itself to graphs with long views.   You get to see the “trees” each week (two year snap-shots) and not the “forest.”   Hence this special edition, which presents a ten-year view of ARR trends … and it is enlightening. 

Forty-eight times per year, on a weekly basis, The DVD & Blu-ray Release Report is published, with this week’s up coming edition being No. 1,102.   So, we’ve been doing this for sometime now, but history is about to be made with the 52-week ARR average moving to under 100 days.   This will happen on June 12.

That sounds ominous … the Wolf-Biederman comet will strike the earth on June 12 and life as we know it will come to an end!   

OK, OK, maybe not serious, but certainly worth a discussion.
DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

First, a little set-up (the methodology) as to exactly what “history” is about to be made on June 12 … and more importantly why it might just be a red line for some entertainment industry players.  

Each week in The DVD & Blu-ray Release Report there are charts and graphs covering release configurations (types of, count, by year, etc.), plus there is a weekly survey of what has just been announced and what has just hit the streets in terms of new theatrical releases.   This segment of the home entertainment packaged media arena, even though “New Theatrical” accounts for only five percent of all DVD and Blu-ray SKUs released, is important as these new theatrical arrivals, especially hit theatrical films, drive the market.  

Coverage of “New Theatrical” is lumped into two groups.  Those films with a box office take of $10 to $25 million and those with domestic box office grosses in excess of $25 million (the key to the industry).   There is a separate chart published each week for these two classes of film releases as to what is in the pipeline.

One other point, “New Theatrical” is defined as films released from 1997 on.   1997 wasn’t a random year picked out of a hat, it was the launch year of the DVD format, so the measurement of how quickly a film moves from its theatrical rollout to its subsequent release on DVD — the “window” — seemed like an important statistic to track.    

We even gave this measurement a fancy name, as “window” didn’t seem all that snazzy.   After thinking about it for a while, Asset — which is what new theatrical releases really are — and Rollover Rate (speed to market) were combined and shorthanded to simply ARR.

Each time there is an editorial write-up on a new theatrical release in the report, there is always a reference to this number … such as: “The ARR works out to 95 days … etc., etc.” 
It is a quick and easy way to measure the “window” between a film’s theatrical opening and its subsequent move to the home entertainment marketplace.  

Since 1997, a weekly file has been maintained and updated tracking all new theatrical releases.   Once a film — regardless of the box office gross — is announced for DVD, Blu-ray or 4K Ultra HD release, the street date is entered and the ARR is automatically calculated.

Plucked from this database are those films with a domestic box office take of $25 million or more.   To fall into that group and generate that level of ticket sales, a film must have three things going for it.   These include a national release with sufficent screens to generate traffic, a P&A campaign to create awareness and enough consumer acceptance (often word of mouth) to keep the film in theatres long enough to generate a critical mass.

If a film under-performs during the first weekend, exhibitors are quick to move it down the hall and into smaller multiplex screens during the second week … and then gone.

This is one reason why The DVD & Blu-ray Release Report monitors the next level down — $10 to $25 million performers — as they often have decent theatrical breaks with a campaign behind them, but fail to achieve consumer acceptance.

Each week there are two new up dated charts produced featuring the top tier of new theatrical releases.    One monitors studio performance (a ranking of how fast they are moving their hit films) and the second shows the overall ARR trend, which is presented as 13 week (quarterly) and 52 week (annual) moving averages.

This brings us to the potential “red line” news.   Sure, it sounds like we have done a terrific job of burying the lede, but without an understanding of the methodology employed, the news itself might not have any contextual meaning.

With two new home entertainment release announcements this week, one for Death Wish, by 20th Century-Fox Home Entertainment, and the other from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, A Wrinkle in Time — with the same street date of June 5 (ARR of 95 and 88 days respectively) — the annual ARR moving average the following week (street date Tuesday, June 12) will pierce the 100-day mark for the first time in the history of home entertainment package media.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

The larger graph of these two ARR trend lines — 13 weeks and 52 weeks — clearly shows the trends in a more visual way than can be accommodated in the weekly edition of the report.

In mid-December the annual average came right down to the line at an ARR of 100.1 days and then bounced off it.   It seemed that the studios — collectively — recognized that maybe, just maybe, that’s an equilibrium that should not be breeched and held the line for going on six months … until this week’s announcements, which, not in and of themselves individually, push the ARR average below the 100-day mark.

The first thing that you will notice is the wild 13-week moving average swings.   Summer theatrical hits opening in June, July and August have been traditionally held back until the retail Christmas-selling season.   There is no reason to rush a monster to market when unit sales can be maximized during the Thanksgiving to Christmas shopping window.   That is rational and reasoned economic behavior.

The other end of the spectrum are Thanksgiving and Christmas blockbusters, plus Q1 new theatrical releases, which are pushed as quickly to market as can be to have them available at retail before Memorial Day and the official kickoff of summer.  

These wild swings are clearly visible in the “forest” chart, but don’t have the same impact with the weekly “tree” chart.

The 52-week moving average shows a steady drop from the summer of 2010 until post-Labor Day period of 2016.   Roughly speaking, two weeks were shaved — systematically — off of the ARR moving average during this extended period.

A dramatic change occurred in the fall of 2016, which has resulted in another two weeks being cut from the ARR average in just 18 months — this is an obvious sea-change in the trend.

As mentioned, the ARR came right down to the 100-day mark in mid-December of 2017 and then held … that is, until June 12.   

It is not the purpose of The DVD & Blu-ray Release Report to make a judgment on whether this is a good thing or a bad thing … or perhaps, nothing at all.   But it does appear to be a trend that will likely have an effect on the marketplace, either now, or very soon.

How much heat can exhibitors stand before they crack?   And it is not just exhibitors who feel the flames of digital … the studios have a home entertainment packaged media business that is also being pressured by these ever-shortening release windows.   

100 days?   Is that the “red line?”  95, 88 … 81?  There is a tipping point.

Right now exhibitors are flush with the arrival of new pre-summer and summer blockbusters, so like the frog in the pot being slowly brought to a boil, they may not take notice of the potential peril that they are faced with.

Theatrical exhibition has been the traditional economic model for launching film productions.   A studio ponies up production and P&A funds, makes a big deal (or little deal) about the stars and the story and the director … or the significance of a film.   They find the PR hook and run with it.   And then everything flows out from there.  

As my distribution brethren were quick to point out when I was running home entertainment marketing at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, “home video is an ancillary market … without us, you have no business.”

Is there a number that is too quick?   Or, does the ARR annual trend line simply point to the way things are and exhibitors will have to adjust to each new reality?   Perhaps a day will come — and maybe sooner than anyone expects — when someone like, oh say, Adam Aron, the president and CEO of AMC Theatres, calls together MPAA studio members and utters the same words, “without us, you have no business.”   What will be their collective reply?   “Seen the trend lines, lately?”

Monday, April 23, 2018

For the period ending April 20, 2018 ... New DVD and Blu-ray selections added to the DVD & Blu-ray Release Report's database.

For the period ending April 20, 2018 ... New DVD and Blu-ray selections added to the DVD & Blu-ray Release Report's database.


 DVD New Additions:


Acorn Media
04/17/18 — Released Accident

Alpha Video (MOD)
04/17/18 — Released Art Linkletter and the Kids, Broadway Highlights (6 short films), Classic Cars of the 1930s (6 short films: The Safest Place, Take it Easy!, New Roads to Roam, Sailing Along, Head On, Devil Drivers), Decade of Highway Death (5 short films: Safety or Slaughter, Interrupted Morning, Wheels of Tragedy, Before It's Too Late, Decade of Highway Death), Forbidden Cinema, Volume 26, Grindhouse Double Shock Show (2 film set: Deadly Culture, Evil Sister), Hawkeye and the Last of the Mohicans #8 (4 episodes), Living Christ, Volume 3, Lost Silent Double Feature: Leatrice Joy (2 silent films: The Clinging Vine (1926), Down Home (1920)), Rare Silent Comedies from the Vault of John K. Carpenter: Movie Man Matinee (7 silent short films: Stand Pat (1922), Sold at Auction (1923), Sailor Beware (1927), Scared Silly (1927), Goofy Ghosts (1928), Kids, Cats and Cops (1928), A Mandarin Mixup (1924)), Secrets of Latin America (6 short films: Brazil: People of the Plantations, Buenos Aires and Montevideo, Central America, Paraguay, Southern Chile: Tip of a Continent, Mexico: Land of Color and Contrast), Shoulder Arms (silent-1918), plus three short films: His Trysting Places (1914), Sunnyside (1919), A Day's Pleasure (1919)), Studio One Presents Suspense, Volume Two (2 episodes: The Man Who Had Influence, Flowers From a Stranger), Weird Wide World, Volume 3 (7 short films: Second Paradise, Cities of North Africa, India, Belles of the South, Inside India, Bushland Symphony, Burma: People of the River) and Wolves of Kultur (silent-1918)

Amazon Studios (MOD)
04/17/18 — Released Only Living Boy in New York

Artiflix (MOD)
03/20/18 — Released Cartier Affair and Dressed to Kill
03/27/18 — Released Glory Boys, Go for Broke, Good News, Gorgo, Gothic, Great Expectations, Green Promise, Gun and the Pulpit, Gung Ho, Hallelujah I'm a Bum, Hawk of Powder River, Hazard of Hearts, Head Hunter (Cantonese), Hercules Against the Moonmen, Hercules Unchained, Hey! Hey! USA, Hillbillys in a Haunted House, His Girl Friday, Hitch-Hiker, Hitler's S.S.: Portrait in Evil, Hittin' the Trail, Holcroft Covenant, Hollywood Man, Home Movies, Home of the Brave, Homework, Honeymoon in Bali, Horace Takes Over (aka: One Thrilling Night), Horrors of Burke and Hare, Horse Crazy, Horse's Mouth, House of Secrets, House of Seven Corpses, House on Haunted Hill, I Behold His Glory, I Thank You, Identity Unknown, If Tomorrow Comes, Image of Bruce Lee, Immortal Battalion (aka: The Way Ahead), In Old Caliente, Incredible Petrified World, Indiscretion of an American Wife, Inspector Hornleigh, International Crime, Invisible Avenger, Invisible Strangler (aka: The Astral Factor), Iron Eagle II, It Happened Tomorrow, It Rained All Night the Day I Left and Jack Frost

Bayview Entertainment
04/17/18 — Released Inside Sportfishing: 377 Pounds of Fury - The Battle of a Lifetime, Inside Sportfishing: Black Marlin Boulevard with Ted Williams, Inside Sportfishing: Forbidden Zone - Midway Island, Inside Sportfishing: In Your Face! Giant Squid, Marlin, and Yellowfin Tuna and Inside Sportfishing: Monsters of the Deep

Breaking Glass Pictures
04/17/18 — Released Rave Party Massacre (aka: Dead Thirsty)

Central Home Entertainment
04/17/18 — Released Chunkzz (Malayalam) and Ramaleela (Malayalam)
04/17/18 — Released Dzindzi Indian Repertoire

Cinedigm Entertainment
04/17/18 — Released American Folk

Comedy Dynamics
04/17/18 — Released D.L. Hughley: Reset, Gina Yashere Collection, Jasper Redd: Jazz Talk, Jim Breuer: And Laugher for All, Michael Ian Black: Very Famous and Morgan Murphy: Irish Goodbye

Criterion Collection
07/03/18 — Sets Dietrich & Von Stenberg in Hollywood (6 film set: Morocco, Dishonored, Shanghai Express, Blonde Venus, The Scarlet Empress, The Devil is a Woman) (6 disc set)
07/10/18 — Sets Bull Durham and Dragon Inn (Mandarin)
07/17/18 — Sets sex, lies, and videotape (2 disc set)
07/24/18 — Sets Matter of Life and Death (2 disc set)

DreamScape Media, LLC
04/17/18 — Released Adieu Marx, Minding Our Manors and Scrum

04/17/18 — Released Donizetti: IL Borgomastro di Saardam

Films Around the World, Inc. (MOD)
04/17/18 — Released Appointment with Murder and Stigma (Spanish)

Gravitas Ventures (MOD)
04/17/18 — Released Big Brother Volcano and New Chefs on the Block

Hallmark Channel (MOD)
04/17/18 — Released All For Love

04/17/18 — Released Ba Trum (10 disc set), Giac Mo Thien Duong, Part 9 (16 disc set) and Giac Mo Thien Duong, Part 10 (16 disc set)

Kino Lorber
04/17/18 — Released Camp Nowhere, My Friend Victoria (French), Singing Guns, Straight Talk and Trigger Jr.

Kitty Media
04/17/18 — Released Hentai Heaven 2.5

Leomark Studios, LLC (MOD)
04/17/18 — Released Fear, Love and Agoraphobia

Let’s Make This Happen
04/17/18 — Released Late Blossom Blues

MPI Home Video
04/17/18 — Released Doris Day: A Sentimental Journey and Killing for Love

MTI Home Video
04/17/18 — Released Chasing Gold

Manorama Music Home Ent.
04/17/18 — Released Ore Cinemakara (Malayalam)

Maverick Home Entertainment
04/17/18 — Released True Colors

Messenger International
04/17/18 — Released Lisa Bevere: Adament (2 disc set)

Mill Creek Entertainment
06/05/18 — Sets 10th Kingdom (2 disc set) (with Digital Copy), Awesomes: The Complete Series (3 disc set) (with Digital Copy), Jules Verne's Mysterious Island (with Digital Copy) and Merlin Collection (3 film set: Merlin, Merlin's Apprentice, Merlin: The Return) (3 disc set) (with Digital Copy)

04/17/18 — Released Nijinsky: A Ballet by John Neumeier (2 disc set)

PBS Direct
04/17/18 — Released Exodus: The Journey Continues

Paramount Home Media
05/29/18 — Sets Annihilation (ARR of 95 days; box office: $32,685,385)
06/12/18 — Sets Jerry Lewis: 10 Films Collection (10 film set: The Stooge, The Delicate Delinquent, The Bellboy, Cinderfella, The Errand Boy, The Ladies Man, The Nutty Professor, The Disorderly Orderly, The Patsy, The Family Jewels) (10 disc set)

Passion River Films
04/17/18 — Released Mimi & Dora and Real Boy (MOD)
04/17/18 — Released Der Schwarze Husar (German), Die Lummel von der Ersten Bank III: Tiel (German), Occupation in 26 Pictures (Serbo-Croatian), Phantom Carriage (French), There's Always a Price Tag (French) and Three Pilots (Italian)

S’More Entertainment
04/17/18 — Released Elvis Presley: The Beginning

Scott Alexander Magic
04/17/18 — Released Standing Up on Stage Volume 6: Encore

Sentai FilmWorks
04/17/18 — Released Haikyu!! 2nd Season - The Complete Series (5 disc set)

Seventh Art Productions
04/17/18 — Released Exhibition on Screen: David Hockney at the Royal Academy of Arts

Silent Hall of Fame (MOD)
04/17/18 — Released Man from Home (silent-1922)

Smark Mark Video (MOD)
04/10/18 — Released CZW: Welcome to the Combat Zone - New Orleans, LA and Rise 7: Sensation

TMW Media Group (MOD)
04/17/18 — Released D-Day: The Price of Freedom, Learn English as a Second Language Soft Sounds, Vowel Teams, Sight Words, Maggie’s War, Navy Heroes of Normandy, World War II: Saving the Reality, Yoga For Busy Moms: Glam Gams – Vinyasa Flow Lower Body, Hips & Legs, Yoga For Busy Moms: Mind Massage – How to Release Emotional & Physical Tension, Yoga For Busy Moms: NamaSlay – Key Yoga Poses, Yoga For Busy Moms: Spread Your Wings – Upper Body, Arms & Shoulders and Yoga For Busy Moms: Time Out – Total Body Workout

Tempe Video
04/17/18 — Released Creature in the Woods

Tomeraz Entertainment, LLC (MOD)
04/17/18 — Released Eat Me

20th Century-Fox Home Ent.
04/17/18 — Released National Geographic: Genius (4 disc set)
05/22/18 — Sets Red Sparrow (ARR of 81 days; box office: $46,515,233)

Universal Pictures Home Ent.
04/17/18 — Released Killjoys: Season Three (2 disc set) and Shopkins: Wild
06/19/18 — Sets Pacific Rim: Uprising (ARR of 88 days; box office: $57,607,675)

Universal - TCM (MOD)
04/17/18 — Released Douglas Sirk: Filmmaker Collection (4 film set: Thunder on the Hill, Taza: Son of Cochise, Captain Lightfoot, The Tarnished Angels) (4 disc set)

Vertical Entertainment
04/17/18 — Released Sheep and Wolves

Virgil Films & Entertainment
04/17/18 — Released Fatima: The Ultimate Mystery (Spanish)

04/17/18 — Released WWE: Elimination Chamber 2018 / Fastlane 2018 (2 disc set)

Warner Bros. Home Ent.
04/17/18 — Released Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians (2 disc set)
05/22/18 — Adds Game Night (ARR of 88 days; box office: $67,887,388)

Warner Bros. Home Ent. (MOD)
04/17/18 — Released Mighty Orbots: The Complete Series (2 disc set) and Perfect Strangers: The Complete Third Season (3 disc set)
04/24/18 — Adds Static Shock: The Complete Fourth Season (2 disc set)
05/01/18 — Adds Burn'em Up O'Connor, Espionage Agent, Fast Lane: The Complete Series (6 disc set) and Lost Squadron
05/08/18  — Adds Across the Pacific, Action in the North Atlantic, Man Called Shenandoah (4 disc set) and Passage to Marseille
05/15/18 — Adds Absolute Quiet, All American Chump and Great Meadow
05/22/18 — Adds Famous in Love: The Complete First Season (2 disc set)

Wild Eye Releasing
06/12/18 — Sets Jurassic Dead

06/19/18 — Sets Hurricane Bianca: From Russia With Hate

Blu-ray New Additions:

Amazon Studios (MOD)
04/17/18 — Released Only Living Boy in New York

Arrow Video
04/17/18 — Released Seijun Suzuki: The Early Years, Volume 2 (5 film set: Eight Hours of Terror, The Sleeping Beast Within), Smashing the 0-Line, Tokyo Knights, The Man with a Shotgun) (Japanese) (2 Blu-ray/2 DVD Combo Pack)
06/26/18 — Sets Complete Sartana (5 film set: If You Meet Sartana ... Pray for Your Death, I Am Sartana ... Your Angel of Death, Sartana's Here ... Trade Your Pistol for a Coffin, Have a Good Funeral My Friend ... Sartana Will Pay,  Light the Fuse ... Sartana is Coming) (Italian) (5 disc set)

Criterion Collection
07/03/18 — Sets Dietrich & Von Stenberg in Hollywood (6 film set: Morocco, Dishonored, Shanghai Express, Blonde Venus, The Scarlet Empress, The Devil is a Woman) (6 disc set)
07/10/18 — Sets Bull Durham and Dragon Inn (Mandarin)
07/17/18 — Sets sex, lies, and videotape
07/24/18 — Sets Matter of Life and Death

04/17/18 — Released Donizetti: IL Borgomastro di Saardam

First Run Features (MOD)
04/17/18 — Released Born in Flames

Frontiers Records
04/17/18 — Released Dokken: Return to the East

04/17/18 — Released Interviews with Monster Girls: The Complete Series (2 Blu-ray/2 DVD Combo Pack) and Monster Hunter Stories Ride On, Season 1 Part 2 (2 Blu-ray/2 DVD Combo Pack)

Gravitas Ventures (MOD)
04/17/18 — Released Big Brother Volcano, New Chefs on the Block and Rough Stuff

Kino Lorber
04/17/18 — Released Camp Nowhere, Maximillian & Marie De Bourgogne (German) (2 disc set), Ruby Gentry Singing Guns, Straight Talk and Trigger Jr.

Lionsgate Home Entertainment
04/17/18 — Released Honor Up (with UltraViolet Digital Copy)

Mill Creek Entertainment
06/05/18 — Sets 10th Kingdom (2 disc set) (with Digital Copy), Awesomes: The Complete Series (3 disc set) (with Digital Copy) and Gridiron Gang: Special Edition (with Digital Copy)

04/17/18 — Released Nijinsky: A Ballet by John Neumeier

Oscilloscope Laboratories
05/29/18 — Sets November (Estonian/German) and Road Movie (Russian)

Paramount Home Media
05/29/18 — Sets Annihilation (Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack) (with UltraViolet Digital Copy)

Sentai Filmworks
04/17/18 — Released Haikyu!! 2nd Season - The Complete Series (3 disc set) and Urara Meirochou: The Complete Series (2 disc set)

Shout! Factory
04/17/18 — Released Humor Me

20th Century-Fox Home Ent.
05/22/18 — Sets Red Sparrow (Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack) (with UltraViolet Digital Copy)

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
04/17/18 — Released Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Deliver Us From Eva, Egg and I: 70th Anniversary Restored Edition, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Killjoys: Season Three (2 disc set), List of Adrian Messenger, Perfect Man, Skulls and Wedding Date
06/19/18 — Sets Pacific Rim: Uprising (Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack) (with UltraViolet Digital Copy) and Pacific Rim: Uprising 3D/2D (2 disc set) (with UltraViolet Digital Copy)

VCI Entertainment
08/14/18 — Sets Grindhouse Double Feature From Cult Director S. F. Brownrigg (2 film set: Don't Look in the Basement, Don't Open the Door) (2 disc set)

Warner Bros. Home Ent.
05/22/18 — Sets Game Night (Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack) (with UltraViolet Digital Copy)


Oscilloscope Laboratories Looks To May For DVD And Blu-ray Editions Of Filmmaker Dmitrii Kalashnikov’s The Road Movie

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
You have likely seen clips on Facebook or YouTube and been mesmerized by the carnage, the insanity and the surreal nature of what you are watching.   The words, “Oh MY GOD!” and “Oh shit” have likely been uttered during the experience of watching car wrecks and other weird happenings from the POV of a dash-cam.

The source of the best clips are all from Dmitrii Kalashnikov’s The Road Movie, an assemblage of footage taken exclusively from Russian dash-cams, and if movies are to entertain and capture one’s attention — especially good movies at that — then this baby has to be rated as one of the best of 2018!   Seriously!

Oscilloscope Laboratories acquired this gem early last year and knew that it was special; different … not really a narrative-like story, but The Road Movie is nevertheless a film that grabs and holds your attention.   So they worked some off-beat film festivals to good, even exceptional reviews and after a year of setting it up and getting the word out, Oscilloscope moved it to the arthouse circuit, where it continues to play one-off venues.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyFor those that haven’t had a chance to capture the carnage or other strange happenings (meteorite crashing, driving through a forest fire, animal antics, etc.) on the big screen — and see for yourself that there are apparently no road rules or driving schools in Russia — your chance will come on May 29 as that is the street that Oscilloscope Laboratories has assigned for the release of both DVD and Blu-ray editions of Kalashnikov’s The Road Movie.

The ARR works out to 130 days.   The Road Movie is presented in Russian with optional English subtitles … since the film is such a visceral experience the action literally speaks for itself.

Bonus features include the featurette titled “Dash Cam Documentary,” which is a video session with filmmaker Dmitrii Kalashnikov, and two of his short films — Waiting for the Show and Film About Love.
DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

Also heading home on May 29 from Oscilloscope Laboratories as both DVD and Blu-ray product offerings is Estonian writer/director Rainer Sarnet’s film adaptation of Andrus Kivirähk’s folklore novel “Rehepapp ehk November,” which was titled for the screen as simply, November.

News came out of the Tribeca Film Festival last year that Oscilloscope had acquired this strange “fairy tale” or fable about life — especially life during the winter — in medieval-like Estonia.   Once in house, Oscilloscope took the film on the road and entered November in competition in one film festival after another, where it literally won everything.   

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Estonia even got on board with the success that Oscilloscope had achieved and presented November to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences as its official entry for the 2017 Best Foreign Language Oscar competition.

After the festival circuit rollout, Oscilloscope has taken the film out to arthouse venues where the feedback has been strong.   For the record, the ARR works out to 95 days.

It’s winter in Estonia and Sarnet has filmed his tale in black and white, which makes these dreary months all the more so.   The farmers, peasant and village folk seem to spend the cold months stealing from each other and worshipping contraptions that are called “Kratts” … boredom and endless time with little to do but survive perhaps drove these people nuts.   The Sweds, the Germans and the Russians all ruled over Estonia at one time or another, so perhaps the going-on here help explain why they all lost interest and left the Estonians to themselves.

In any case, set against this winter of bizarre behavior and general weirdness is the story of a young woman named Liina (Rea Lest), who is smitten with a local lad by the name of Hans (Jörgen Liik), but his interests are elsewhere.   She is eventually driven mad by his lack of interest and, well, let’s just say that the narrative gets very odd and let it go at that.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyNovember, a fantasy, is like Jean Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast or Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal — both also filmed in glorious black and white — needs to be taken in visually as the narrative is secondary to the proceedings.

November is presented in Estonian and German with optional English subtitles.  Bonus features include test footage of the Kratts, the featurette titled “The Supernatural Lore of November” and Johannes Pääsuke’s 1913 short silent film titled Retk Läbi Setumaa (aka: Journey Through Setomaa), which is a snapshot of peasant life in the southern part of Estonia prior to World War I.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

Director Alex Garland's Annihilation Prepped For DVD And Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack By Paramount Home Media On May 29

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Paramount Home Media has targeted May 29 for the DVD and Blu-ray/Combo Pack presentation of director Alex Garland’s latest sci-fi gem, Annihilation.

The ARR works out to 95 days and box office receipts came in at $32.7 million.

Alex Garland gave us the script for 28 Days Later, which was a sensation by filmmaker Danny Boyle … a decade went by and then wham, Ex Machina, which he both directed and wrote.   A stunner, cerebral and creepy … and Garland’s script was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, losing out to Spotlight.

Now comes Annihilation, which Garland adapted for the screen from a novel by Jeff VanderMeer (one of his “Southern Reach” trilogy of books … “Annihilation,” “Authority” and “Acceptance”) and directed.   It too is a stunner.

Annihilation is dark a terror ride … exactly the type of sci-fi/horror film that genre fans have been demanding, but instead the studios keep serving up mindless, big-budget CGI drivel, or if not drivel, play it way too safe.  Annihilation is, at the end of the day, a haunted house thriller, except it doesn’t take place in a haunted house, but in a deceiving beautiful stretch of woodlands.

Oh yes, and one other thing, if you are expecting Natalie Portman as Lena, the film’s star, to be just like her vivacious Padmé of Star Wars, think again.   She’s cold (for a good reason) and clinical.  
DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

The set-up is an alien presence that came crashing to Earth as a meteor and immediately set up shop around a lighthouse (a metaphor perhaps), creating a dome-like field that has been dubbed “The Shimmer.”   A psychedelic light show that hides a mystery … everyone and everything (drones) that has gone inside hasn’t come back.

There’s a prologue backstory — the film does flip back and forth in time — that establishes a relationship between Lena, a biologist, and her husband Kane (played by Star Wars’ “Poe Dameron,” Oscar Isaac, who was Nathan in Garland’s Ex Machina), who went on a secret mission and never came back.  Well, actually he did, but Lena hasn’t been told, because his secret mission was inside “The Shimmer” … and he is the only human who has returned (and he is on life support).   

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
So basically Lena is in mourning as she has lost her soul mate.   It’s a year later and reluctantly Lena is spirited off to “Area X,” where she learns that Kane is a vegetable and she is given — more or less — the opportunity to assemble a team (genre fans will recognize this as the “victim pool”) and investigate the inner-workings of “The Shimmer.”

Her team — all women — are composed of Josie (Tessa Thompson), a physicist, Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a psychologist, Cass (Tuva Novotny), an anthropologist and a medic by the name of Anya (Gina Rodriguez).   They are armed to the teeth and very much kick-ass.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyInto “The Shimmer” they go and immediately lose touch with the outside world (the door to the haunted house slams shut) and what they discover is a woodland/swamp populated by creatures that have been mutated by the alien force … sort of a bio lab for experimentation.    Tranquil at first — even strangely inviting — but things soon go south and creatures, the creatures of nightmares, soon take their toll on the group.

Annihilation is a gem, a sci-fi gem, a creep-out horror tale that is also a gem.   If you missed this one in theatres, then circle May 29 on your home entertainment viewing calendar as this is one that will be a must-see!!!

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyBonus features, which are exclusive to the Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack SKU, are divided into three “making-of” segments.   The first, “Southern Reach,” has two sections (featurettes) — “Refractions” and “For Those that Follow” — Area X, which also contains two featurettes — “Shimmer” and “Vanished into Havoc” — and lastly, “To the Lighthouse,” which includes “Unfathomable Mind” and “The Last Phase.”

In other release news from Paramount Home Media this week, the long out of print ten film collection celebrating the films of the late Jerry Lewis from the 1950s and ‘60s, will be available once again on June 12.

Titled Jerry Lewis 10 Film Collection, fans have bid the price up to over $100 for the elusive DVD collection, but on June 12 they can once again celebrate The Stooge (1951, with Dean Martin), The Delicate Delinquent (1956), The Bellboy (1960), Cinderfella (also 1960), The Errand Boy (1961), The Ladies Man (1961), The Nutty Professor (1963), The Disorderly Orderly (1964), The Patsy (1964) and The Family Jewels (1965) for the bargain price of just $26.98.