Poised to dominate the Blu-ray and Ultra HD scene this week is the latest entry from the Wizarding World. But could this year’s surprise Best Picture winner sneak in and upset the sales charts the way it upset the Oscars?
Probably not, but I suppose anything is possible.
New Releases (Blu-ray)
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald – What should have been a surefire blockbuster sequel ultimately grossed nearly $200 million less than its predecessor, making it the lowest-grossing of J.K. Rowling’s entire Harry Potterverse. Some of that may be due to the inclusion of Johnny Depp (wearing silly costumes and makeup prosthetics as always), whose presence was protested by many Potter fans, but reviews were also critical of an overly convoluted and dull story. Franchise fatigue may also be setting in for many viewers. Nevertheless, it’s hard to call any movie that makes $650 million a flop, per se. Future installments are still on track, and I’m sure this one will sell well on video. Warner Bros. has the bases covered on all fronts, from 2D to 3D to Ultra HD, with Digibooks at Target and a SteelBook at Best Buy.
Green Book – I guess Bobby must have been dragging his brother down all those years they worked together. For his first solo outing, Peter Farrelly, former co-director of dimwit comedies like Dumb and Dumber and Shallow Hal, shot all the way to Oscar glory with a feel-good period piece dramedy about race relations in the Jim Crow era South. Detractors (perhaps most prominently Spike Lee) turned up their noses at the Driving Miss Daisy-ness of the whole thing, but couldn’t stop it from claiming the coveted Best Picture. To be fair, the movie has a lot of supporters as well, including our reviewer Shannon, who finds the backlash against it unwarranted.
Mortal Engines – Acting as writers and producers, Peter Jackson and his frequent collaborators Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh try to launch a new YA franchise based on a popular book series, but, like so many other recent attempts, stumbled out of the gate. The story is set in a post-apocalyptic Steampunk future in which cities of the world have been placed on wheels and drive around battling each other for resources. That sounds like it could be a neat concept, but the trailers looked like a tedious CGI-fest, and critics complained that the movie lacks any interesting characters (or actors) to care about. It was a huge box office bomb.
All three of this week’s major day-and-date titles also debut in 4k: Fantastic Beasts, Green Book, and Mortal Engines.
Silent comedian Harold Lloyd is a favorite of the Criterion Collection, which brings his 1927 Western spoof The Kid Brother into the Blu-ray fold alongside previous releases Safety Last!, The Freshman, and Speedy.
After that, Criterion continues to break out titles from last year’s massive Ingmar Bergman box set. This week brings us the Swedish master’s 1975 filming of the Mozart opera The Magic Flute.
After the failure of his opulent Legend, Ridley Scott scaled way back with the forgettable mystery thriller Someone to Watch Over Me, starring Tom Berenger and Mimi Rogers. Shout! Factory hopes that Scott’s fan base will give it a second look on the Shout Select Blu-ray.
The witchy teens of The Craft get a double-dip courtesy of Scream Factory.
It looks like Mill Creek’s “VHS Retro Look” editions of Sheena, Neighbors, and Songwriter that I mentioned last month got pushed back to this week, yet The Legend of Billie Jean apparently didn’t for some reason.
On the same theme, MVD expands its Rewind Collection with the 1993 martial arts kick-fest Showdown.
A couple weeks ahead of the disc release for Aquaman, the Warner Archive dredges up Man from Atlantis, a 1977 TV movie starring Patrick Duffy as a half-man/half-fish hero from the deep sea. The cheesefest was successful enough to spawn three more movies and a one-season series. Duffy shot to bigger stardom in Dallas shortly afterward, but never forgot his roots and even wrote his own follow-up novel in 2016 to give the story some narrative closure.
Of more recent television fare, The Last Ship sailed its last voyage after five seasons on TNT. Warner offers box sets for just the final season or a complete collection of the entire series.
The completist in me wants to blind buy the Fantastic Beasts SteelBook, but I still haven’t bothered to watch the first one that’s been sitting on my shelf for a couple years.
I’m not overly excited about Green Book. I’m sure I’ll catch it on cable at some point.
The Kid Brother is going on my list for some future Criterion sale.
Does anything cast a spell on you this week?