My Two Cents
Tuesday, 18 May 2021 18:52

Criterion’s August slate, AT&T to ditch WarnerMedia, Amazon pursues MGM, Shrek at 20, Ran in 4K digital & MUCH more

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All right, we’ve got a bit of ground to cover today. First, we’ve got a few new disc reviews for you to enjoy...

I’ve posted my thoughts Doug Liman’s Chaos Walking in 4K from Lionsgate. It’s not a great science fiction film, but it looks fantastic in 4K (it was shot with the Alexa 65 camera) and it features some very nice special features too created by our old friend Cliff Stephenson. So it’s well worth a look.

I’ve also posted my review of George Cukor’s My Fair Lady (1964) on 4K Ultra HD from Paramount, and that is absolutely a reference-grade title. As some of you may know, it was shot using the Super Panavision-70 camera and was restored by our old friend Robert A. Harris back in 2015 in 4K using an 8K scan of the original camera negative. The film just looks absolutely fantastic and it’s a classic Hollywood musical too. Don’t miss it.

Also seriously worth a look is Arrow Video’s new Battle Royale: Limited Edition in 4K Ultra HD, a UK import boxset that I’ve reviewed in-depth here at the site as well. It features both versions of Kinji Fukasaku’s original film in beautifully-remastered 4K, along with both versions of the sequel on Blu-ray, plus an amazing collection of special features and swag. And even though it’s a UK import, the 4K discs will play fine worldwide. The two Blu-rays in the box are Region B locked, but one of them will still play on any US player anyway (details in my review). If you’re a fan of the film, this is a must-have box. [Read on here...]

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Still not done... Dennis has also posted his thoughts on Robert Lorenz’s The Marksman, starring Liam Neeson, now on Blu-ray from Universal.

And he’s also offered a look at Dorothy Azner’s Merrily We Go to Hell (1932) which is new on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.

More reviews are on the way, so be sure to stay tuned for them. In the meantime, enjoy we hope you some of those.

Also here at The Bits today, our own Michael Coate has just shared a great new History, Legacy & Showmanship column featuring his retrospective on Andrew Adamson’s CG-animated film Shrek, which just celebrated its 20th anniversary yesterday. Michael looks back at its original release, including a rundown of its initial Digital Cinema presentations, and he interviews critic and historian Scott Meldelson about the film too. Don’t miss it!

Now then... there’s a lot of news to report today, but we’ll start with this: Criterion has officially announced its August Blu-ray and DVD release slate, which is set to Hirokazu Kore-eda’s After Life (Spine #1089 – Blu-ray and DVD) on 8/10, D. A. Pennebaker’s Original Cast Album: “Company” (Spine #1090 – Blu-ray and DVD) on 8/17, Andrzej Wajda’s Ashes and Diamonds (Spine #285 – Blu-ray and DVD) on 8/24, and Cary Joji Fukunaga’s Beasts of No Nation (Spine #1091 – Blu-ray and DVD) on 8/31. You can read more about these here. We’ve updated our Criterion Spines Project pages here at The Bits accordingly. Don’t forget that Criterion is still running its 30% off all discs sale through 5/31.

Retail sources are now suggesting that Warner Bros. will release Simon McQuoid’s recent Mortal Kombat on Blu-ray, DVD, and 4K Ultra HD on 7/13.

Also, here’s a surprise: Lionsgate has just announced that Akira Kurosawa’s Ran is coming to 4K on 7/6, mastered from a new restoration by Studio Canal. But here’s the catch: It’s only set for Digital release here in the States. Yes, you read that right. Let’s hope that Lionsgate reconsiders and releases a physical 4K disc too here in the US, because Arthaus has a German 4K UHD disc coming on 7/15 (you can see that here), and we hear that StudioCanal is planning a UK 4K UHD disc for release later in 2021. If you US readers, like those of us here at The Bits, would prefer a physical 4K UHD disc too, be sure to politely let Lionsgate know on Facebook (here) and Twitter (here).

And a few eagle-eyed Bits readers have noticed that Digital offerings of Peter Weir’s Witness (1985), which stars Harrison Ford, have quietly been upgraded to 4K on Vudu, iTunes, Kaleidescape, and elsewhere. So it’s possible that Paramount could release it on physical 4K as well, should they so choose.

Meanwhile, Lionsgate will release MacGyver: Season 4 (for CBS) and Power Book II: Ghost on DVD only on 6/8.

RLJE Films has set The Walking Dead: World Beyond – Season 1 for release on Blu-ray and DVD on 6/15. You’ll get all 10 episodes along with a trio of behind-the-scenes featurettes (including A Look at the Series, Meet the Characters, and The Making of Season 1).

PBS is releasing the newly-restored-in-HD documentary series Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns on Blu-ray and DVD on 6/8 (SRP $129.99 and $99.99).

Our friends at are reporting that Titans of Cult will release an exclusive Steelbook version of Warner’s Space Jam in 4K Ultra HD on 7/8. You can read more on that here.

Sony Pictures Entertainment will release The Unholy on Blu-ray, DVD, and On-Demand on 6/22, with the Digital release expected on 5/25.

I think we may have mentioned this a couple weeks ago, but just in case: Mill Creek Entertainment has set I Dream of Jeannie: The Complete Series for release on Blu-ray on 7/13 (SRP $57.99).

And on a similar note, Universal Studios Home Entertainment has set NBC’s Parks and Recreation: The Complete Series for release on Blu-ray Disc on 6/15. You can see the cover artwork for that below.

Also, a number of you have asked us about a recent rumor that Alex Kurtzman’s Secret Hideout was quietly planning to do an HD-remaster of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I’ve done a quiet poll of many of those who were involved with the Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Next Generation HD remasters and none of them have been approached about the project. So our advice is definitely to take this rumor with a major grain of salt unless and until some kind of more official announcement is made. Let’s just say that I wouldn’t hold my breath in this particular case.

Of course, in news from around the industry today, the big headline is that AT&T is planning to merge the WarnerMedia with Discovery Communications and then unload the resulting company after three years spent absolutely gutting Warner Bros. of its best staffers and burning all of the studio’s bridges with creative talent. What a colossal mess AT&T has made of all this! The good news is that there’s (maybe) hope that Warner Bros. can recover from this disaster. But we’ll have to hope that AT&T doesn’t also try to unload all of its debt on the new company as well, to put itself in a better financial position. Anyway, you can read more on that here at Deadline, here at Variety, and here at Media Play News.

In related news, there’s now word that Amazon may be making a play to purchase MGM for as much as $9 billion. This would certainly lend some prestige (and much needed content) to the company’s Amazon Prime Video service. You can read more on this here at Variety. What’s especially interesting about this is that we know for a fact that Apple has been on-again/off-again sniffing around MGM for at least a couple years now but has never actually pulled the trigger. It will be interesting to see if they suddenly become more interested in MGM again now that they have competition.

And finally today, we need to take a moment to acknowledge the passing of actor Charles Grodin, who died at his home in Connecticut today due to cancer. Grodin was well known for his roles in such films as The Heartbreak Kid, Midnight Run, Dave, King Kong (1976), Heaven Can Wait, Seems Like Old Times, The Incredible Shrinking Woman, The Great Muppet Caper, and Beethoven. He was also an accomplished theater actor and appeared often on TV in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Grodin will certainly be missed. He was 86. You can read more on Grodin’s life and career here at The New York Times.

We’ll leave you today with a look at the cover artwork for a few of the titles mentioned above, and more (click on each to visit the pre-order pages if available)...

Howard the Duck (4K Ultra HD) Scott Pilgrim vs the World (4K Ultra HD) Space Jam (4K Ultra HD)

Beasts of No Nation (Criterion Blu-ray Disc) Ashes & Diamonds (Criterion Blu-ray Disc) Company (Criterion Blu-ray Disc)

After Life (Criterion Blu-ray Disc) Parks and Recreation: The Complete Series (Blu-ray Disc) The Walking Dead: World Beyond – Season 1 (Blu-ray Disc)

That’s all for now. Stay tuned...

(You can follow Bill on social media at these links: Twitter and Facebook)


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