On December 1st, be on the look out for 'Battle of the Smithsonian' in a BD combo pack, featuring a Blu-ray (along with the special features), a DVD, and a digital copy, as well as a new exclusive feature!
By Michael S. Palmer
As a franchise, 'Night at the Museum' (one & two) has earned over $1 Billion Dollars at the box office, and (the original) has sold 16 million units on home video. On December 1, be on the look out for ‘Battle of the Smithsonian’ in a BD combo pack, featuring a Blu-ray (along with the special features), a DVD, and a digital copy. Like this week’s release of ‘Up,’ studios are really pushing “portability and convenience.” There will be DVD versions available, but I won't tarnish the hallowed halls of High-Def Digest reporting about -- sigh -- standard definition.
The main focus of the event was to introduce “FoxPop,” an interactive feature (available to any viewer; Blu-ray, DVD, digital copy, or even in the future on television) that provides trivia as the movie plays. Using a film’s audio soundtrack, FoxPop figures out a film’s “time code” (the digital time measurement for where you are in a movie), and provides pop up trivia to either a computer screen, or an iPhone. Think of it like VH1’s ‘Pop Up Videos,’ only the pop ups aren’t superimposed onto the image. Demo’ing FoxPop was fun, easy and intuitive (much like their LiveLookup). In addition to trivia, there’s a chance to comment on the film itself. Connect FoxPop to Facebook or Twitter, and any of your friends who also watch a movie in FoxPop will get your comments, at the exact moment in the film you made them.
Head over to www.foxpop.com now to download the FoxPop application (apparently it works for other films as well, though I’m not sure how many, and you don’t get exclusive Fox content with it), or FoxPop will be free on the iPhone app store starting December 1 (day and date with the release of ‘Battle.’ Future Fox titles featuring FoxPop include ‘500 Days of Summer’ and ‘Jennifer’s Body.’
Director Shawn Levy was on hand to discuss the film and its special features. He was thrilled to have found a franchise like ‘Museum,’ saying it offers not only a chance for escapist entertainment, but includes educational elements (such as historical figures). He’s proud to have helped boost museum attendance both in New York and D.C. Levy went on to speak about how much he enjoys bringing together an ensemble cast of huge comedy talents, and that his first test audience is always his 10-year-old daughter.
Levy then previewed a handful of the special features, including:
--“Directing 201.” A follow up to the first film’s special feature, Directing 101, this is a 20-minute “day in the life” of Shawn Levy, during the film’s production.
--“Cherub Bootcamp.” A mockumentary about the Jonas Brothers training to become the film’s three flying, singing, stone cherubs. You may have already seen this on YouTube, as it was released online in lieu of a traditional press release to media outlets regarding the casting of said Brothers Jonas.
--“Phinding Pharaoh With Hank Azaria.” The master voice artist of The Simpsons (Moe, Apu, Chief Wiggum, Comic Book Guy, Carl Carlson, Cletus, Professor Frink, Dr. Nick Riviera, Lou, Snake, Kirk Van Houten, the Sea Captain, Superintendent Chalmers, Disco Stu, Duffman, and many more!) discusses (in character) the many accents his character could have had.
--“Deleted Scenes.” There are 12 deleted, or expanded, scenes on the BD. We saw one where Ivan the Terrible interrogates Larry (Ben Stiller) while trying to prove (badly) that Ivan isn’t so terrible. There’s also an alternate ending, and a seven-minute version of Larry’s run in with Jonah Hill’s “Brunden” (two minutes was all that made it to the final movie).
--“Museum Scavenger Hunt Game.” Exclusive to the Blu-ray, there are two levels, with the goal of either finding artifacts (easy), or answering clue-revealing trivia questions to find said artifacts (hard) to fill in the tablet. Successful scavengers will be rewarded with bonus, silly content.
--“Augmented Reality.” Using a webcam, a downloadable software application, and the cover of the DVD or Blu-ray, you can watch characters from ‘Battle’ come alive in your own hand.
--“Monkey Mischief”. Capuchin Monkey Movie Star, Crystal, was in person for a photo op (woo hoo, I now have a picture with a monkey on my shoulders!!!), but this featurette is about how Crystal starred as both Dexter and Able in ‘Battle’. Apparently, training monkeys is quite easy, but it takes a certain temperament to have them not freak out on busy (loud) film sets. Crystal does have an understudy, Squirt, but poor Squirt has never worked because Crystal’s performances has been too solid on both movies. Look for Crystal next in MGM’s ‘The Zookeeper’.
Levy is currently finishing up ‘Date Night’ for next spring, but what’s on the horizon? ‘Night at the Museum 3’ “may be” in the works, but they haven’t found the right story/setting yet. ‘Hardy Men’, which would star Ben Stiller and Tom Cruise as grownup versions of the Hardy Boys who hate each other, is still in the script stage. And his company’s live action / CGI production (Levy is not yet attached to direct) of the classic ‘Berenstain Bears’ is in very early stages. At present, they are meeting with screenwriters and hearing “takes” (movie industry lingo for pitches, or “How I would Write Your Movie, by Johnny Screenwriter”).