The Week In Video Part LX
The latest in our regular instalments rounding up our recent home viewing, paying a particularly keen eye on a title’s home entertainment potential…
Currently sitting pretty in the top five overall Official Charts Company sales charts, Boyhood has had critics – and audiences – positively salivating in recent months. It not only made most critics’ year-end top 10 charts, it topped most of them too. Now it’s arrived on DVD and Blu-ray as the noise around Richard Linklater’s tale of growing up grows ever more deafening. It should have a far longer lifespan than many films of a similar box office, thanks to the brouhaha surrounding it and its chances of picking up more statues at the Oscars and BAFTAs. There’s still a good few weeks of the awards season left to go, so Boyhood is perfectly pleaded to capitalise on that. Many may not have seen it at cinemas, but know of it and the fascinating back story about how it was made, giving it further legs.
Also selling well from Universal is Lucy, which looks a treat on Blu-ray, even if it is one of the dafter films we’ve seen for some time. Given the wealth of effects on offer, Lu-CGI might have offered a better title, while it resembles Limitless in terms of its plot. Never mind, with healthy sales across its first few weeks and with Ms Johansson continuing to find fans, this will enjoy a decent shelf life.
Forthcoming from Universal is Dracula Untold, which is the first in what the studio hopes will be an entire universe built around its classic monsters range. while this didn’t quite perform at the level the major would have liked on its theatrical release, it will easily find a home on home entertainment formats. Not least because this CGI-heavy effects budget easily outstrips that of many of the other horror films found on the shelves. It’s not necessarily a better film (it goes back to the Romanian roots of Vlad The Impaler and the legend around the original vampire) than far more inventive genre fare (see below), but that won’t prevent this from finally finding its audience.
We promised some more inventive horror and that’s certainly what’s served up in The Babadook, a February 16 release from Icon. It arrives with a wealth of year-end recommendations ringing in its ears and plaudits from the likes of Mark Kermode and, intriguingly, Exorcist director William Friedkin, who said it was one of the best horrors of recent years. And it more than lives up to the hype that it arrives with. Where it will work is in the word of mouth and head of steam that has built up since its theatrical bow around Halloween last year. While it worked in cinemas, it wasn’t a really wide release, meaning it comes to DVD and Blu-ray with plenty of horror and genre fans – and a wider audience than that – eager to see it. This kind of crossover in the horror sphere, the rave reviews and some smart marketing from Icon will help what is easily the best horror of the past 12 months, one of the biggest horror home entertainment releases of 2015. Next from Icon is It Follows, which is building up a similarly strong word of mouth, while it also comes in the wake of the rather excellent The Guest. We’ve already discussed that film at length elsewhere, but viewed it again over the past seven days too and this too stands up as a fine piece of home entertainment viewing. It’s worth adding too that kudos is due to Icon on two fronts: first its acquisition policy is proving to be absolutely bang on the money – commercial films that are winning critical and fanboy plaudits – while, in addition to its standout marketing, the efforts it’s putting in to its Blu-ray authoring, complete with strong extras, are worth praising too.
We watched Paddington at home just as Studiocanal announcing a release date for the film (March 23, full story on our last newsletter). Sure, we’d already seen it at cinemas, but we thought it was worth a repeat viewing, just to see how it worked in the front room away from theatres. It was our junior correspondents’ second time too and guess what? Just as popular as ever. If anything, it works even better. Not that what we say matters at all – it’s going to end up with something like £35 million in box office receipts, up there with The Lego Movie in terms of reach and potential. Studiocanal has proved itself more than adept at handling family entertainment, what with its success with Paddington at theatrical and Shaun The Sheep and other children’s fare on DVD, all of which makes it more than capable of giving this film the kind of launch and sales it really deserves.
The biopic about Jimi Hendrix, Jimi: All Is By My Side has had a strange,life thus far, and maybe one its producers and distributors wasn’t expecting. For after receiving acres of early publicity, much of it centring on the casting of Andre Benjamin (aka one of Outkast) as the guitar legend. Then, somewhat sadly, it didn’t quite manage to shake those heights again and seemed to fall off the radar. Curzon Film World’s release could give it a new lease of life, whichever the film certainly deserved. Maybe, at a reasonable price on the shelves, it will find its way into people’s baskets. Whereas it may not be with a steeply priced night out at cinemas, it’s perfect as an at home biopic for under a tenner. Its impulse purchase potential is further heightened by Benjamin’s presence – consumers have heard of Hendrix, they’ve most likely heard of Outkast, so, the thinking goes, why spend a tenner and see how he works out as the legendary axeman? Pretty well, as it happens. It’s not the finest music biopic you’ll see, but it has some commercial potential.
It’s now more than a decade since Liverpool won the Champions League inTurkey after the team’s ridiculous comeback against AC Milan. And, as anyone with a passing interest in football might have noticed, it’s still a momentous occasion. Fans of the club will happily discuss it at length (it’s assumed Kennedy assassination reminiscing where you were proportions), while those outside of Liverpool probably think they go on about it a touch too much. One Night In Istanbul is further grist to the mill for those critics, but proper Reds fans will be, to use the vernacular, made up about it. It’s a comedy set around the events playing out in the Turkish capital. Its main appeal is to the aforementioned fans, but given the events that are playing out in the background as two cabbies get caught up with some rough characters as they bid to get to the big match, then plenty of Liverpool fans should be keen on picking this up. It’s essentially another souvenir of the night they never want to forget and given the targeted marketing aimed at fans in and around Anfield, then it does have a chance of succeeding.
One Night In Istanbul is being sold through Spirit and sees another production company eschewing the traditional route to market – selling the title to a distribution company to then put into the market – and another treading that same path is No Manifesto, a documentary following the Manic Street Preachers. It follows a release strategy similar to recent music documentaries involving the likes of The National, LCD Soundsystem and Edwyn Collins. This means a theatrical tour of venues around the UK, kicking off with sold out screenings in Cardiff and moving on elsewhere, all leading up to its home entertainment bow. The band has a loyal following – many of them feature in this documentary which follows the band’s lengthy and occasionally turbulent history. Refreshing in its honesty, it seems to run out of steam a touch towards the end, but the band themselves always give great interview and the fans’ eye view is fascinating too. Given their longevity and its overarching career overviews, this should easily find a loyal, receptive audience.
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