My Two Cents
Friday, 17 April 2015 17:22

Blu-ray News & More – So... how was YOUR Thursday?

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Well... the last 24 hours have been a little crazy for movie fans, haven’t they? I attended Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim yesterday for the big panel of the morning, at which the new Episode VII teaser trailer was revealed by producer Kathleen Kennedy and director J.J. Abrams. Some background on my personal experience: The night before, great friends both old and new gathered for a pre-convention dinner. My wife Sarah and I were there, along with veteran Blu-ray producers Charles de Lauzirika and Cliff Stephenson, and Alec Peters and Diana Kingsbury of Propworx and Star Trek: Axanar fame. (Unable to attend because of work, BD producer Robert Meyer Burnett was there in spirit.) We learned that fans had actually started lining up to attend the panel earlier that morning so, somehow or other, it was decided that we should probably get in line ourselves around 5 AM in order to make sure we made it into the room. And, somehow or other, everybody was game for it. So get in line we did, along with thousands of others: Myself, Alec, Diana, Charlie and Cliff, joined by Chris Gore of Film Threat. We posed for a selfie to commemorate the insanity (at left – taken by Alec).  [Read on here…]

Now... why otherwise perfectly rational and well-adjusted men and women would get in line five hours early to see a Star Wars panel in anticipation of a trailer is really kind of impossible to explain to those who don’t already understand the impulse. The truth is, many of us in Generation X have been doing this sort of thing since 1977. I know some of you out there have done it yourselves. The urge is almost instinctive, as if it’s written in our DNA. Not a one of us was disappointed that we did.

You’ve all seen the Episode VII teaser trailer by now. YouTube’s tracking numbers are still struggling to catch up, but so far they’re showing nearly 24 million views in just over a day. I would think that has to be some kind of record. Graeme McMillan at The Hollywood Reporter has written a nice summary of what made the trailer so thrilling, so I won’t repeat it here. But let me just talk for a moment about the experience of seeing it live in the hall in Anaheim, with 7,500 other highly-energized fans, because it was something else entirely.

The trailer was preceded on the panel by a few nice moments. A number of behind-the-scenes photos were shown on the screen while Abrams and Kennedy spoke, offering more glimpses of the film. The first real surprise was the appearance of that ball-shaped droid, BB-88 I believe it’s called. I think everyone had assumed the droid’s appearance in the first teaser last fall was a CG effect, but there it was on stage, fully practical – fully real – and the gasp that went up in the room was great and spontaneous. Then the new Stormtroopers came on stage, along with whole cast – new and old – except Harrison Ford. This was masterful stagecraft by Disney and Lucasfilm. Mark Hamill seemed to get a bit emotional when he spoke of the fans as a kind of extended family, and I think many people in the room got a little emotional too as a result. But then they played that trailer...

Grown men wept. I’m not kidding.

People in the hall seemed to have two reactions. Those under 40 went nuts cheering, getting their first glimpse of what real Star Wars is supposed to look and feel like. And those over 40 sat silently, wiping tears out of their eyes, overcome with emotion at finally getting a chance to see – after decades of disappointment – real Star Wars again, the way it’s supposed to look and feel. They way we all remember it from childhood. Lived in. Genuine. Not clunky or heavy handed, no goofy aliens with racially-stereotyped voices, no precocious kids, but tangibly authentic, and full of genuine human emotion and impact. Just... right. Then, after the amazement wore off from the trailer’s last line and image, the over 40 fans went nuts too and the din was incredible. In the room, they played the trailer a second time, and the reaction was just as strong. People filed out of the hall on Cloud Nine. We looked at each other, still full of emotion, nodding and laughing. One of our group was heard to say: “I can’t wait to get home tonight and run that trailer on the big screen in 1080p and just have my way with it!” More laughter. It was pretty special. I’m sure most of you watching at home felt the same way. Can the full movie possibly live up to this? I’ve no idea. But I’m willing to believe it’s possible. No matter what happens in December, though, this was just one of those rare, collective, global film geek moments that you remember forever. I’m glad I got to be a part of it and experience it with great friends. This is why we all do what we do.

Anyway, I have a couple of videos to share with you today. The first one is video of the whole Kennedy/Abrams panel, for those of you who either missed the live stream or just want to relive it today. Here’s it is (note that the live video starts about 30 minutes in and about 5 minutes before the panel itself)...

This second video needs a little setup. My friend Cliff, who was sitting next to me during the panel, had the forethought to record the audience reaction to the trailer in the hall with his iPhone. He’s taken that audio and matched it to the video of the trailer so you guys at home can all experience just a taste of what it was like for those of us live. It starts with Abrams introducing the trailer and then cuts to the trailer so you can listen to people reacting to what they’re seeing in real time. It’s pretty cool. Play it BIG. Play it LOUD. Bravo, Cliff...

Star Wars Celebration continues all weekend in Anaheim. If you’re there, or you’re going, you’ll have a great time. I’ll post a few pictures this weekend on The Bits Facebook page taken on the show floor for those who might be interested.

One last note: As I sit here working in my office this afternoon, a group of kids just walked by down the sidewalk past my window. They were talking, excitedly, about Star Wars. Absolutely, 100% no kidding. The more things change, they more they stay the same.

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Meanwhile, in announcement news today, Warner and DC have just set the animated Justice League: Gods and Monsters feature film for Blu-ray and DVD release on 7/28.

Whoever wins the Stanley Cup, the official 2015 Stanley Cup Champions video is going to be released on Blu-ray and DVD on 7/28.

Scream Factory’s I, Madman is now up for pre-order on Amazon on 7/21.

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All of the new Criterion July Blu-ray titles are available for pre-order today as well, and you’ll find the cover artwork (with clickable links) below. We’ve also added Criterion’s Blu-ray only edition of The Big Chill, which is now set to street on 7/7. Note that the cover artwork for Moonrise Kingdom isn’t finalized yet, but we’ll post it when Criterion releases it.

In other news today, it’s been announced that actor Ryan Gosling is in negotiations to star in the forthcoming Blade Runner 2. Still not sure how I feel about this sequel, but we’ll see. You can read more here at Deadline.

Finally today, I mentioned yesterday that the new teaser trailer for Warner’s Batman vs. Superman: The Dawn of Justice was to be released yesterday. Well, it turns out that a teaser for the teaser was released, and the actual teaser trailer was unofficially leaked and can still be found online here and there, even though Warner’s been pulling down links. But the actual trailer debut happens on Monday in IMAX theaters around the country.

All right, we’ll leave you with that Criterion cover artwork...

My Beautiful Launderette (Criterion Blu-ray)    Hiroshima, Mon Amour (Criterion Blu-ray Disc)    The Black Stallion (Criterion Blu-ray Disc)

Here Is Your Life (Criterion Blu-ray Disc)    The Killers (Criterion Blu-ray Disc)    The Big Chill (Criterion Blu-ray Disc)

That’s all for now. Have a great weekend. Stay tuned!

Bill Hunt


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