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Blu-ray Highlights for August 14th, 2012 – Do You Hunger for Games?

After a few sleepy months, the Blu-ray release schedule bursts back to life this week with two major releases that demand attention. The first is one of this year’s biggest box office hits (as well as the launching point for a new franchise), while the other is an all-time classic that changed the way Hollywood does business. As if those weren’t enough on their own, several other interesting titles also vie for our attention. This could be an expensive week.

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (8/14/12)?

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New Releases

Based on the best-selling novel with a huge fan base, ‘The Hunger Games‘ was destined for box office success before a single frame was shot, no matter how good or bad the film itself actually turned out. Fortunately, most critics and fans agreed that the movie, although flawed in some respects, at least does a respectable job of translating the book to screen. Much like the ‘Twilight’ franchise, expect the sequels to be even bigger hits. In addition to the standard Blu-ray edition, several retailers offer exclusive gift sets with fancier packaging and trinkets. (Up in Canada, Future Shop has not just one, but two SteelBook cases.) I don’t know what the logic is behind releasing this on Saturday rather than today, but this is bound to be a bestseller regardless.

One of the breakout successes from this year’s Sundance Film Festival, the Indonesian martial arts thriller ‘The Raid‘ drew raves from fans for its nonstop, balls-to-the-wall action. For some inexplicable reason, the marketing department at Sony then decided to tack the word “Redemption” to the end of the title, even though the movie reportedly has no themes of redemption at all. I didn’t get a chance to see this in theaters, but look forward to renting it to see what all the fuss is about.

Kill List‘ is another cult item that generated buzz on the festival circuit. In this case, viewer reactions were wildly divisive. The British hitman thriller is said to be very violent and extremely confusing. Some viewers loved its convoluted metaphysical twists, while other yelled in anger at the screen. I’m intrigued.

Breathless‘ is neither Jean-Luc Godard’s famous French New Wave classic (which is already available on Blu-ray from the Criterion Collection), nor the 1983 remake starring Richard Gere. Nor is it another remake of the same story. This one appears to be a totally unrelated schlocky heist/revenge thriller starring Gina Gershon, Val Kilmer and Ray Liotta, if you’re into that sort of thing.

We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Screen

Certainly, ‘Jaws‘ was not the first movie to be called a “blockbuster.” However, its massive success in the summer of 1975 woke Hollywood up to the earning potential of the summer months, which until then had been considered a slow time of year. Thus started the summer blockbuster season, and Hollywood has never looked back.

In addition to being a tremendous box office hit, ‘Jaws’ is legitimately one of the greatest movies ever made, and had long been considered one of the “holy grails” awaiting release on the Blu-ray format. Now finally available in a beautifully restored Blu-ray, this is one of the must-own discs of the year. I plan to pick up the Best Buy exclusive Digibook, personally.

Specialty Labels

This week, the Criterion Collection upgrades Wes Anderson’s ‘The Royal Tenenbaums‘ to high definition, and also adds two films from the Dardenne brothers: ‘La Promesse‘ and ‘Rosetta‘.

Twilight Time offers limited editions of the 1960s musicals ‘Bye Bye Birdie‘ and ‘High Time‘, while Kino digs up the silent movie serial ‘Les Vampires‘ (which isn’t actually about vampires, but rather a crime league called “The Vampires”).

Guilty Pleasures

MGM rolls out the middle three of Charles Bronson’s five ‘Death Wish‘ flicks today. Strangely, the original film and the final installment are nowhere to be found. Given that the first ‘Death Wish’ was a pretty crappy movie to start with and the sequels just got progressively worse as they went, why would even the biggest fan want to own just parts 2, 3 and 4 without being able to complete the collection?

Meanwhile, Jet Li fights gangstas in ‘Cradle 2 the Grave‘, Vin Diesel takes on drug cartels in ‘A Man Apart‘, and Denzel Washington hunts for a supernatural serial killer in ‘Fallen‘.

Television

TV box set collectors can look forward to the sixth season of ‘Dexter‘, the third season of ‘Glee‘, and the second season of ‘Nikita‘. The only of these shows I watch is ‘Glee’, and I think that I’m just about over that one unless next season’s cast shake-up manages to liven up the series.

Everybody here will get ‘Jaws’ today, right? That’s safe to assume, I hope. In addition to that disc, all of the Criterions are must-haves for me. I still haven’t seen ‘The Hunger Games’, but I told Mrs. Z that I’d watch it with her. ‘Les Vampires’ will also go on my wish list for later purchase.

Vote in the poll and tell us your plans in the Comments.

65 comments

  1. William Henley

    The Hunger Games for sure. Jaws and Bye Bye Birdie are possibilities. Its been so long since I have seen them, that I don’t remember if I like them or not.

  2. Got the Jaws digibook from BB (had to buy it, even though it’s like $10 more) and will be getting Hunger Games as well (only paid $9.99 for it, thanks to a coupon I had…so it makes up for overpaying for the Jaws digibook).

  3. Hmm, I wish the Jaws digibook came out over here as well. No such luck, we have never gotten any digibook at all. Guess the steelbook version will have to do.

    Curiously, it has been released in France and Belgium (and other countries, presumably) last week, whereas the United Kingdom has to wait until 3 September. Can’t figure out the reasoning behind that. I was planning to order it on Amazon.co.uk or Play.com, but will likely not wait if a good domestic deal can be found. Domestic for me, that is.

  4. Shayne Blakeley

    Already picked up Jaws, Hunger Games and Raid I haven’t seen yet but will certainly rent.

  5. The Raid Redemption is a must own IMO, one of the sweetest and most brutal action/martial arts movies I’ve seen in a long time, easily up there with anything Tony Jaa, if you like his stuff you will be just as blown away by this movie :)

    Jaws is on my wish list, not getting anything for a while, I have strategic pre-orders placed throughout the year, Avengers, They Live, Finding Nemo, Brave and soon Cabin in the Woods (if it drops in price, its freaking $34 preorder for that, makes no sense)

  6. Drew

    ‘The Raid’ is probably the most exciting release of the week.

    Word has it the ‘Jaws’ blu-ray is the one to beat for best of the entire year. I bought both the digibook, and the standard edition.

    I’ll be happy to own ‘The Hunger Games’.

    My DVR deleted a lot of ‘Dexter: Season 6′, so I’m enthusiastic about owning it, and finally getting to see the entire season.

  7. JM

    ‘Jaws’ I’ve never seen, but ‘The Raid’ is a blind buy.

    ‘The Hunger Games’ I hated the book and the movie girl is just too ugly, so I’ll skip that and watch ‘The Royal Tenenbaums‘ twice.

    ‘Kill List‘ I’m adding to the Q, based on Mr. Z’s curiosity.

    ‘Klown’ I’m waiting for Nate Boss’s review.

    • William Henley

      I actually thought Katniss was too pretty. My understanding from the book was that she was pretty plain (or at least she felt she was – it was told from her perspective, afterall), and Prim was the pretty one.

      As much as I liked the book, I can certainly see why someone wouldn’t like it. I pretty much threw the second book down in disgust about halfway through because I felt like someone had raped my brain. I was litterally yelling “NO! You cannot do that! You cannot break the rules of your own universe that you created!” The third book was okay, just not as good as the first one.

    • Drew

      Jane,

      You’re insane!

      Jennifer Lawrence is HOT!

      Am I right? Chime in everyone…

      I have a school boy crush on her!

      • JM

        As I’m not a hillbilly, Jennifer Lawrence cannot represent my interests.

        Had they cast Amber Heard, I could totally overlook the YA storytelling.

        In any case, I’m currently saving up all my sci-enthusiasm for Terry Gilliam’s ‘The Zero Theorem’ with Christoph Waltz.

        • Barsoom Bob

          Yes, Jennifer Lawrence was born in Louisville, KY.

          That does not make her a “Hillbilly”

          “Louisville is most well known for the Kentucky Derby. Each May, the horse race attracts over half a million fans to this cosmopolitan and well-diversified industrial city, which still bears the traces of the early French settlers who came upriver from New Orleans.”

          And she is not ugly.

          She was number 10 on the Maxim’s Hottest Women list and also one of People Magazine’s Most Beautiful people.

          A clusterfuck of ignorant, demeaning profiling, yes.

  8. Ian Whitcombe

    Josh, your wording makes it read like Criterion had released the 1983 Richard Gere remake of Breathless.

  9. Drew

    You should be saving up your sci-fi enthusiasm for ‘Cloud Atlas’!

    Amber Heard is probably hotter than Jennifer Lawrence, but she would have been the worst selection possible for Katniss Everdeen.

    JL is not merely hillbilly hot. She is representing hotness for many demographics.

    ‘The Hunger Games’ does a pretty good job of avoiding YA storytelling, and it’s better than the novel. You should give it a shot.

    • JM

      ‘Seven Psychopaths’ has stolen all my enthusiasm.

      Christopher Walken as a dog thief, from the ‘In Bruges’ dude.

      Today’s trailer ate all my cupcakes. Martin McDonagh owns them all.

  10. EM

    No, Josh, not safe to assume…and not safe to go into the water. I do like the movie, but to date I feel no need to have it in my library.

  11. Drew

    Has anybody else had a chance to watch ‘Jaws’ yet?

    Good God! Now that’s how you restore a 37 year old film!!!

    Blu-ray of the year?! How about blu-ray of all time!!! (Possibly… I’ll probably cool down over time.)

    Stunning wouldn’t be anywhere near a strong enough word for it!

    I watched the bonus feature about how it was done, and mostly, it just pissed me off that Universal didn’t treat ‘Jurassic Park’ — and other all time greats — with the same care!

    You watch this extra, and it really plays up the angle that Universal cares so much about properly restoring their classics, and how they are dedicated to perfection. If you’re like me, you’re thinking, “Are you fucking kidding me?! Bullshit! You think you can make statements like that because you finally did the right thing with one of your classics!”

    I want a ‘Jaws’-like ‘Jurassic Park’ yesterday!!!

    ‘E.T.’ better damn well look this good!

    • Josh Zyber
      Author

      Sadly, Best Buy neglected to actually ship copies of the Jaws digibook to stores for people to buy. No stores within 100 miles of me have it in stock. I’ll have to wait until that finally becomes available.

  12. Drew

    Josh,

    That’s terrible! I can’t believe you have to wait for it! Can you get your hands on a screener copy? I’m telling you right now, it is definitely one of the top 5 blu-ray video transfer accomplishments in the history of the format! My local Mediocre Buy stores were plum-full of the exclusive Digibook edition.

    In fact, there were so many still on the shelves when I arrived to pick mine up, I wondered if it just wasn’t selling well. I decided to discuss it with the inventory manager, and he informed me that it wad selling extremely well, but they had been sent more copies of the ‘Jaws’ digibook, than they received of ‘The Hunger Games’. They had already sold 54 copies, and it was only about 3:00 PM.

    • Josh Zyber
      Author

      Argh, I can’t even order it from the Best Buy web site. It’s not available for shipping or ship-to-store. The only option is Store Pickup, which is only selectable if the item is currently in stock, which it’s not. Basically, Best Buy doesn’t want me to buy this item. This store really needs to be renamed Worst Don’t-Buy.

  13. Drew

    Yep. It does!

    That’s exactly what happened to me about a month ago with the collectors edition of ‘Singin in the Rain’. No Worst Don’t-buy within 150 miles had it. I couldn’t even order it online.

    It was an identical scenario to the one you’re faced with. The local stores finally got it in about a week ago.

    • William Henley

      Just get a Amazon Prime account. It will be waiting on your door step on the release day when you get home from work, and you don’t have to deal with this issue.

      Sadly, this doesn’t work for Best Buy exclussives. When I got Harry Potter in 3D, I had to order it online – Best Buy didn’t have it in the store.

      • Josh Zyber
        Author

        I want the digibook. The digibook is Best Buy exclusive. I will wait a little while. I’m sure it will turn up before I’d have a chance to watch it anyway.

  14. Drew

    I just got done reading through the comments forum on the main HDD site.

    So, WHAT. IN. THEE. FUCK. did Worst Don’t-buy do?!?!?!

    How does my local store get 60+ copies of the digibook, while many stores nation wide get zero, and others get less than 10?!

    How does that make any sense?! Why does WDB continually fuck up like this? I went through the same bullshit with their exclusive ‘Muppets’ editions, as well as many other WDB exclusives over the years!!!

    Why does the worst possible retailer get all of the best retailer exclusive editions?! On top of that, they also get many blu-rays that no other retailer does, and they fuck up on them too!

    I don’t care that their error was on my side this time! I’m done with WDB! The digibook is absolutely breath taking, and all of us avid enthusiasts should be basking in the awe of it together. And we would be if it wasn’t for WDB fucking up yet again!

    My apologies go out to anyone and everyone that got fucked by WDB yesterday, and didn’t get the amazing digibook. I feel bad for all of you.

    Amazon should get ALL of the retailer exclusive editions, and ALL of the blu-rays that are only sold at one retailer! Amazon sells something like triple the amount of BD’s that WDB does, so this is the only thing that would make any sense!

      • Jason

        Josh,

        Over at another forum, which shall remain nameless, a bestbuy employee posted that they have been told that stores should expect additional copies of the digibook today or tomorrow. He also said that their online inventory should not be trusted because if quantities fall below 3 they likely show as out of stock online so it’s best to call and check with an associate. I’ll be calling my local stores today because I’m sure not gonna pay the $50 that they are going for on ebay.

        -Jason

  15. JM

    ‘Jaws’ made half the box office of ‘Jurassic Park,’ why did it get 10x the blu-ray tenderness? Is this studio politics, or is Spielberg passive-agressive?

    • Josh Zyber
      Author

      Is that adjusted for inflation?

      Both films were, at the time of their releases, the highest-grossing movies of all time. Jaws is certainly a more important movie, however, that had a much larger impact on the way Hollywood makes movies and the way that viewers consume them.

      • Drew

        That’s arguable.

        ‘Jurassic Park’ essentially did the same thing to advance the summer blockbuster that ‘Jaws’ did to ignite the concept of it, 18 years prior.

        Furthermore, the impact that ‘Jurassic Park’ had on the international box office can’t be underestimated. If you want to argue that ‘Jaws’ had a more pronounced impact on the way Hollywood makes movies from a domestic standpoint, that’s fine, but you also must acknowledge that ‘Jurassic Park’ had a much larger impact on the way Holywood makes, markets, and releases movies, from an international standpoint.

      • JM

        Adjusted for inflation, ‘Jaws’ = $1856M, ‘Jurassic Park’ = $1770M.

        Until you take into account tv, video, and licensing, then JP = $4425M.

        ‘Jurassic Park’ showed the studios how to multiply their profit by 2.5.

        Perhaps Spielberg is ashamed of the new Hollywood he created…

        • Drew

          Let’s not forget that the adjusted for inflation figures are completely irrelevant in terms of what we are discussing.

          Adjusted for inflation figured only matter when you are trying to gauge which films have had been attended the best.

          In this case, $1 USD = $1 USD. The bottom line is, ‘Jurassic Park’ made double the money for Universal, and yet Universal probably spent double or triple the money on the ‘Jaws’ blu-ray.

          • JM

            I hope this bodes well for the ‘Indiana Jones’ IMAX / blu-ray.

            Plus US inflation from ’73 – ’82 was insane.

          • Josh Zyber
            Author

            Of course inflation still matters, because each U.S. dollar that the movie earns is relative to the spending power of that dollar at the time. What Universal was able to do in 1975 with the money Jaws brought in is comparable to what Universal was able to do in 1993 with the money that Jurassic Park brought in.

            For example, in 1975, $500 in ticket sales for Jaws meant that a studio executive could pay for an apartment for his mistress for one month. In 1993, Jurassic Park had to gross $1,000 in ticket sales to pay rent for that executive’s current mistress at the time. :)

          • EM

            To gauge relative popularity, one should also take population into account. Even if Jaws and Jurassic Park are roughly equal in number of tickets sold, Jaws has managed greater market penetration, given that the population was about one-third greater in 1993 than in 1975.

    • William Henley

      Just found out today that JP is being released in the spring of next year in 3D. I am sure this will lead to another Blu-Ray release, which means a new transfer.

  16. Drew

    Jane,

    I basically said those exact words to at least 10 people over the past few days. Why?! Why?!

    In addition, I’d like to add that not only did ‘JP’ over double the box office of ‘Jaws’, it’s also just as good of a film, and equally iconic, to boot.

    What in the hell happened?!

    If anybody has any information about how or why Spielberg and/or Universal could have allowed a hallowed classic like ‘Jurassic Park’ to be shit on, while ‘Jaws’ gets one of the five best video transfers in the history of the format, please shed some light on this!

    • JM

      Spielberg has a net worth of $3 Billion.

      And the ‘Jurassic Park’ blu-ray is an advertisement for JP4.

      Maybe him and Lucas and Zemeckis are having a fan-fucking contest?

      With that much wealth, you have to make your own fun…

  17. Jason

    I was able to get my hands on a digibook. The replenishment shipments must be hitting Best Buy now.

  18. Picked up Jaws (standard) and Royal Tenenbaums this week plus Singin’ In the Rain for the lady. Hunger Games will probably make it’s way to my collection. Really waiting for the Hitchcock collection to hit next month. Saving my pennies.

  19. Tom

    Warning to anyone planning on renting Hunger games from netflix. The disc has been altered. It shows High-definition Video and DVD sound. Netflix states this is the way it came. So, it looks like any HOT blu-ray movie rental maybe incomplete in the future. What a joke….

    • William Henley

      Thanks for the heads up. I got a few discs from Blockbuster that were like that. Usually, though, on movies such as “My Sister’s Keeper”, which I bought there on the previously viewed clearance sale, the Dolby Digital audio doesn’t bug me. But “The Hunger Games”…. Not having HD audio on that would SUCK!