Blu-ray Highlights: Week of March 8th, 2015 – Follow That Bird

Because I neglected to look at the release schedule beyond Tuesday when I wrote last week’s Blu-ray roundup, I failed to notice that the biggest title of the week was actually released on Friday. In a way, that’s a good thing. Otherwise, I might not have much else to talk about this week.

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (3/10/15)?

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New Releases

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1‘ – Katniss and her crossbow are back in the latest installment of the YA dystopian-future franchise. Because it’s the popular thing to do these days, the producers have split the final book in the series into two movies. Despite that, reviews were pretty strong. The Blu-ray includes a Dolby Atmos soundtrack, making this one of the few decent movies available in that format. (Be warned that copies sold through Walmart reportedly only have lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.) Also, Best Buy has an exclusive SteelBook version.

Unlike the last installment, ‘Catching Fire’, director Francis Lawrence has forsaken the annoying alternating-aspect-ratio gimmick in favor of a traditional 2.40:1 ratio throughout. When I asked him about this, he explained: “Yeah, I totally dumped that crap just to show Freakyguy666 what’s what. LOL. PWNED!!” True story.*

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb‘ – Notable only for the fact that it marks Robin Williams’ final film appearance, this third and allegedly last entry in the middling family franchise petered out without making much of an impression during the holiday season. It will probably still sell well on video, as these things usually do. I sat through the first two of these for the benefit of a friend’s children, but they have fortunately moved onto other things now.

Life of Riley‘ – Legendary French auteur Alain Resnais (‘Hiroshima Mon Amour’, ‘Last Year at Marienbad‘) passed away at the age of 91 last year, barely a month after the Berlin Film Festival premiere of his final feature. The movie mixes live action and animation, as well as film and theater, in telling the story of a group of friends dealing with the news that their (unseen) friend is dying of cancer.

Russell Madness‘ – I gather that this is one of those ‘Air Bud’ things, or at least a knockoff. From what I can ascertain, the title is supposed to be a pun on “Wrestle Madness,” which I guess is supposed to somehow be a play on Wrestlemania. Or something. Yeah, it’s really strained, even by the standard of kids’ crap. I’m grateful that my own kids are still about a year away from becoming obsessed with garbage like this.

*Not actually a true story.

Catalog Titles

Well, I’ll be! Universal has remastered a catalog title! The notoriously cheapskate studio has shelled out for a new film scan for John Hughes’ teen-angst classic ‘The Breakfast Club‘. At least, that’s what the packaging claims. I hope that turns out to be true. It seems out of character for the studio that couldn’t be bothered to put that much effort into even huge hits like ‘Jurassic Park’ or ‘Back to the Future’. In fact, now that I think about it, Universal claimed that the 10th Anniversary re-release of ‘Love Actually‘ was an “all-new digital restoration,” even though that disc was the exact same transfer used four years earlier. So, this is probably another lie, isn’t it? Well, whatever the truth happens to be, you can get the disc either on its own or as part of the ‘John Hughes Yearbook Collection‘ bundled with old copies of ‘Sixteen Candles’ and ‘Weird Science’.

Twilight Time has a new batch of limited editions, including a newly remastered re-release of the 1959 ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth‘. Both that disc and Ray Harryhausen’s ‘First Men in the Moon‘ are pretty likely to sell out. So if you’re interested in them, head on over to the Screen Archives web site soon. Other new Twilight Time titles that you probably have more time on include the Biblical Epic ‘Solomon and Sheba‘, the 1984 Anthony Hopkins/Mel Gibson version of ‘The Bounty‘, and Oliver Stone’s ‘U Turn‘.

Fox would like you to know that the hills are still alive with ‘The Sound of Music‘. The studio offers a couple of new 50th Anniversary Editions of the beloved musical. The 2-disc version appears to include Disc 1 from the 45th Anniversary Edition plus a new hour-long documentary (dropping a whole disc of extras). The more comprehensive 5-disc Ultimate Collector’s Edition has both discs from the old set, the new documentary, a DVD and a soundtrack CD. Fans who already own the older copies probably have little incentive to upgrade, but if you never bought it the first time around, this could be a good excuse.


The only major TV release this week (unless you’re a fan of that ‘Ancient Aliens’ BS) is the fourth volume of the ‘Last Airbender’ spin-off ‘The Legend of Korra‘.

My $.02

I will pick up the new ‘Hunger Games’ SteelBook to match my copies of the previous two movies in that series. Beyond that, I plan to save my money this week. How about you?


  1. I’m probably only going to pick up Wolf Cop this week. It’s a Best Buy exclusive and is only 12.99. I am very interested in Journey To the Center of the Earth and U-turn but funds are low. I’m waiting if some screengrabs from Breakfast Club turn up before I purchase this version. My brother has the older blu and looks pretty crappy. Rabid Grannies looks good for another time, but not this week. The 3d one looks ok for a future purchase as well.

  2. Alex

    That title was a mean trick. I thought we were actually going to get a Blu-ray release of “Sesame Street: Follow That Bird”.

    • William Henley

      No kidding. At least the version on Vudu is like anamorphic Widescreen, versus the 4:3 letterbox that was on the DVD (not sure if they ever released an anamorphic DVD)…. Oh wait, spoke too soon, while the movie is still showing up in my Vudu it won’t let me play. That is stupid that a movie I bought I cannot watch.

      But yeah, I agree, I saw the title and was like “Holy Crap, they are releasing Follow That Bird?”

  3. William Henley

    Got Hunger Games last week. This week, the only must have is The Alvin Show, which has shipped. Sound of Music Ultimate is a maybe – I lost my collectors set in the fire, and now everyone who has it is selling it for outragious prices, and so I have the Movie Only that I got from the UK. So yeah, may end up picking up the Ultimate edition of that. Still watching Fairy Tale through streaming services

  4. Deaditelord

    As much as I despise Twilight Time’s limited edition practices, I may break down and try to get a copy of Journey to the Center of the Earth. I get not wanting to waste money on unsold copies, but why couldn’t Twilight Time just announce the titles they are working on in advance and then allow… let’s say… 30 days for anyone interested to place an order and then produce the amount of discs needed to fill those orders?

    • Josh Zyber

      When Twilight Time licenses a title from another studio, they have to sign a contract and pay the fees for a specific number of units up front. So they basically have to guess at how many copies they can sell. If they guess too high, they wind up overpaying for a lot of discs that will just sit unsold. In their experience, 3,000 units is the number they feel comfortable licensing that will most likely allow them to make a profit. The “limited edition” label also gives them a marketing hook that may drive sales.

      Keep in mind that, even limited to 3,000 units, very few Twilight Time releases have sold out.

      • Deaditelord

        Okay, I’ll admit that it makes a difference if Twilight Time has to agree up front to purchase so many titles in order to secure the license and if they normally have copies left over. I guess I’m just bitter because the three times I’ve tried to buy a movie from Twilight Time (the latest being the Fright Night re-release) have resulted in their being completely sold out and I refuse to pay $60+ to get a copy through a 3rd party seller on that auction-site-that-shall-not-be-named.

        • William Henley

          I’ve never had issues with the titles I have bought, but I have been surprised that less than 3,000 people are interested in those titles. The titles I have picked up are classics

        • Watch their site (Screenarchives) a couple of times a week, save a bookmark, very easy, no? The news section at the very top of the page indicates when a title will be up for order.

        • Chris B

          I feel your pain man, there’s three TT titles I’d love to get my hands on but there’s no way I’ll pay upwards of 60 bucks for each. I wish there was some clause in the TT licensing agreements with the studios that would allow them additional pressings in the event a title sells out…

          • Josh Zyber

            Twilight Time could license additional copies if a title sold out, but this presents a couple problems:

            1) They advertise their products as “limited editions,” which drives many sales for them. The “limited” label will become meaningless if they can simply license more copies at any time if they feel like it. Without that gimmick, fewer fans of certain movies will feel the need to rush to purchase copies. (See the backlash Shout! Factory received over the Nightbreed fiasco.)

            2) Suppose they sell out of their initial 3,000 copies of a certain title and license another 3,000 more. Now suppose it turns out that the movie only actually has 3,001 fans who want to buy it on Blu-ray. The label has just shafted themselves and will get stuck sitting on 2,999 copies they shouldn’t have ordered.

            All of these are factors the label had to take into consideration when planning their business model. The model they ultimately chose may be frustrating for fans who miss out on the rare few titles that actually sell out, but on balance the people at Twilight Time must feel that it’s working out for them. And if they stop feeling that way, they’ll change the model in the future – as they have with the reissues of Fright Night and Journey to the Center of the Earth.

          • Chris B

            True enough I suppose. How long do their liscensing agreements typically last? I heard a rumor that Kino is releasing Thunderbolt ad Lightfoot in the next few months. Does TT’s agreement expire if all 3,000 copies of a title sell out?

          • William Henley

            I wonder if Twilight Times would sell more copies if they had a larger distribution channel? While I have bought a couple of there titles, there are others that I passed on simply because the Screen Archives website is so poorly designed. I actually have picked up a couple of their discs used off of Amazon to avoid the Screen Archives website.

            I understand having exclusives, several companies do that, but they normally sign exclusives with WalMart or Best Buy. I wonder if the average person who doesn’t visit the two big Blu-Ray review sites (this one and It-Which-Shall-Not-Be-Named) even know that Twilight Times and Screen Archives exist. Of course, on the flip side of that, I wonder how many average people are going to pick up catelogue titles on Blu. It seems that the average person may have about 1-2 dozen discs that they have bought, so maybe they wouldn’t pick them up.

        • Deaditelord

          True and I was able to preorder a copy of Journey just now with no problems so that’s a plus. I’ll just have to keep a closer eye on their releases so I don’t miss out.

  5. Chris B

    Thanks to the good folks at TBS, I have seen the goddamn breakfast club the highest number of times before infinity…or something close to that. No need to own it.

  6. Picked up Hunger Games Steelbook on Friday. Although bad reviews, might get Night at the Museum, for more than one reason.
    On the “want list” which means impulse buy or win the lottery buy, Alpha Omega 3, Breakfast Club, Dark Haul (HDD says it’s a stinker, but it’s a SyFy film so know what to expect,) Don’t Go in the Woods (classic slasher baby!,) Jungle Shuffle, Night of the Lone Wolf, Massacre Mafia Style and finally, Rabid Grannies.
    If I bought my wish list each week I would be on the way to the poor house and even more inundated with videos, so they interest me, some more than others. I’m sure avid movie collectors get it!

  7. Has anyone confirmed that the Walmart version of Mockingjay has lossy audio? This sounds a bit far fetched. We already knew that Walmart is pretty much killing Blu Ray so this is just another way to level the playing field (between dvd and Blu Ray)

    • Timcharger

      Walmart has priced a bare-bones exclusive edition; I think it was like
      some weird $16.16 price.

      I didn’t know that it was lossy. But that does make sense.

      If you buy the regular edition at Walmart, I’m pretty sure it’s lossless.

      • Timcharger

        I’m okay with this.

        Walmart has it correctly labeled. (Though the font could be much larger.)

        It’s being priced at a discount for discounted features. Essentially, Walmart is saying that the lossless audio is worth $3.83 (19.99-16.16).

        Walmart ISN’T charging the lossless one $3.83 more. Walmart is charging the lossy one $3.83 less.

        • William Henley

          From the thread, I like this quote:
          I bet most of the ppl buying it at walmart arent diehard home theater people.

          This is true, even when I am at Wally World, I think I have only picked up a movie there once, and it was because it was a Wal-Mart exclusive. I am sure that the person with the 9.1.4 home theater system probably has their movies preordered for months off of Amazon. Shoot, even if I don’t preorder, I still order from Amazon or Zavvi for the convienance of having it delivered and not having to go down to the store.

          The people I know who buy movies at WalMart tend to be the same people with the 55 inch HDTV with analogue cable hooked up to it, the Blu-Ray player hooked up with RCA cables, and no sound system, who claim that they can’t tell the difference between HD and 480i. Shoot, I have a friend who has finally admitted that there is a huge difference, but records all her shows in SD because she can fit more on the DVR that way.

          What surprises me the most here is that the company is going through the trouble to author and press a second version of the disc, but then again, companies have been doing that for a few years now for rental discs. It just seems that it would be more cost-effecient on the company to just have one version of the movie. Not that it is really that much trouble to author a second disc with a static menu, triple the amount of trailers, strip extras and go with a lower audio – that could be done by an intern in one day, but this does mean having two different discs manufactored,

          • I love home theater stuff and sometimes Wal-Mart has hidden treasures in it. Ever go to the 7.88 bucket? There’s loads of blurays in there that still sell in other stores for 15 and up. My brother found the Tremors 4 Pack blu there for like 12 bucks. There’s a Wal-Mart I stop in sometimes and they have this display in the back that still had hd DVDs for like six bucks. They’re selection has dwindled in the past few years,but if you are willing to do a little foot work, you can find some good movies for good prices, sometimes obscure stuff.

          • I stopped at Wally World tonight and was looking for Jungle Shuffle 3d and couldn’t find it, but I did find a similar type of 3d movie in the 7.88 bucket. Khumba, the one with the Zebra.

      • Shame on Lionsgate and Shame on Walmart. If consumers are demanding cheaper Blu Rays then make a version without the dvd, but to dumb the audio as well. Um, No.
        I like the poster’s comment about 480p video coming next.

  8. Timcharger

    Josh: “When I asked him about this, he explained: “Yeah, I totally dumped that crap just to show Freakyguy666 what’s what. LOL. PWNED!!” True story.*”

    Stayin’ classy, Boston MA!

    Ignoring is better, Josh. Because this means, even when a film DOESN’T
    have alternating aspect ratios, you can still hear Freaky in your mind.

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