We believe it’s also likely that you may see Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story released on the 4K format at some point in the next 12-18 months. It would be very surprising if Force Awakens wasn’t at least released when Star Wars: Episode IX hits home video next year, as the studio will almost certainly want to release a Trilogy box set then. Given that, the question is this: Will the studio release the films as single SKUs before then, so they can take advantage of those sales before releasing the Trilogy box? Knowing Disney, it’s hard to imagine they wouldn’t. So you could see the films released on 4K over the summer or around Thanksgiving, leading up to Episode IX’s theatrical debut. Of course, we’ll post more as we know it. Watch this space.
Also on the 4K front today, retail sources say that Warner’s The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part is due to arrive on Blu-ray, DVD, and 4K on 5/7 (or maybe a week to either side).
We’ve also confirmed with multiple sources now that Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now is being prepared for 4K Ultra HD release later this year in honor of the film’s 40th Anniversary. The actual anniversary happens in August (on 8/15), so we would expect a Q3 release from Lionsgate. Watch for an official announcement sometime in the next couple of months.
Here’s some official release news: Paramount has announced BumbleBee for Blu-ray, DVD, and 4K Ultra HD on 4/2, with the Digital release expected on 3/19. The 4K release will include Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos audio (the Blu-ray will have Atmos as well). In terms of extras, look for a Sector 7 Archive with Agent Burns: Welcome to Sector 7 and the Sector 7 Adventures: The Battle at Half Dome motion comic, deleted and extended scenes, outtakes, Bee Vision: The Transformers Robots of Cybertron, and the 5-part Bringing Bumblebee to the Big Screen featurette (including The Story of Bumblebee, The Stars Align, Bumblebee Goes Back to G1, Back to the Beetle, and California Cruisin’ Down Memory Lane).
On the standard Blu-ray front, our friends at Kino Lorber Studio Classics have officially revealed that they’re working on Andrew V. McLagle’s ffolkes (1980 – aka North Sea Hijack) for Blu-ray. Street date is TBA. This is a classic and often overlooked gem that’s worth your time, starring Roger Moore, James Mason, Anthony Perkins, and Michael Parks.
Note that the studio has also announced Peter Yates’ Robbery (1967) for Blu-ray and DVD release on 5/21.
For Studio Ghibli fans, GKids has announced that they’re holding their popular Ghibli Fest screening series again this year. They’ll be bringing nine beloved Studio Ghibli animated films to theaters over the course of the year, including the 15th anniversary screening of Howl’s Moving Castle, the 35th anniversary screening of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, and the 30th anniversary screening of Kiki’s Delivery Service. You can read more here.
And finally today, here’s the bad 4K news: Samsung Electronics has confirmed to Forbes today that they’re no longer going to be making 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players. This follows in the wake of the manufacturer showing no new models at CES 2019 last month and at TFA in Berlin last August. No reasons have been given for the decision, but speculation is that physical 4K is a niche market and that even with Oppo bowing out, Panasonic and Sony have both doubled-down with great new models of 4K player targeted at both high-end enthusiasts and casual consumers. Samsung presumably did not wish to compete with them. You can read the Forbes article here.
Many of you will recall that, a few weeks ago, I posted an editorial on here on The Bits saying that CES 2019 signaled—to me—the beginning of the end for physical media. We remain bullish on the physical 4K Ultra HD format, but it’s hard to argue that today’s Samsung news isn’t another bit of proof of the central thesis of my January editorial.
In an ironic twist, my own 4K Ultra HD player—the Oppo UDP-203—had the misfortune of being bricked during a recent firmware update. We’ve had a lot of stormy weather here in SoCal in recent weeks, and it appears there was a power surge during the update that caused it to fail. Go figure. The good news is that Oppo customer support is a good as ever, and they’ve offered to fix it for me. (Whew!)
Anyway, I’ll have more to say on the larger subject of 4K on Monday, so be sure to check back then. In the meantime, stay tuned and have a good weekend.