Following its phenomenal box office run earlier in the year, smash hit "The Hunger Games" hits DVD and Blu-ray this week looking to once again find its enormous built-in audience. Also getting launched this week is a special edition Blu-ray set of Steven Spielberg's popcorn classic "Jaws," the sixth season of Showtime's popular series "Dexter," and a new Blu-ray set of Wes Anderson's "The Royal Tenenbaums." "The Raid: Redemption" is another title hitting stores this week, though a meager box office run won't help the R-rated action film find much of a home audience either.
In a rare Saturday release, "The Hunger Games" reaches stores with expectations of being among the biggest DVD/Blu-ray hits of the year. When "The Hunger Games" launched back in the spring, the anticipation was enormous thanks to the popular book series by novelist Suzanne Collins. While the built-in audience was likely large enough to make "The Hunger Games" a hit anyway, it also received mostly rave reviews, which helped its credibility with those unfamiliar with the books. Following her Oscar-nominated performance for "Winter's Bone," star Jennifer Lawrence landed on the mainstream map with a memorable turn as tough-as-nails Katniss Everdeen, instantly making Lawrence one of the biggest female stars in Hollywood.
Thanks to the incredible buzz, "The Hunger Games" brought in $152 million in opening weekend revenue in late March, smashing the March record previously held by "Alice in Wonderland. "The Hunger Games" would go on to haul in more than $400 million in the U.S. and $684 million around the globe, which are eye-popping numbers for a first entry in a franchise.
Though director Gary Ross opted out of helming the next film in the series, "Catching Fire," the franchise still looks to be in great shape moving forward and worldwide numbers should only grow. Taking a page from the now completed "Harry Potter" franchise, "Hunger Games" is splitting Collins' final book ("Mockingjay") into two parts, drawing the series out to four total films that will all be released over the next three years. With both "Harry Potter" and "Twilight" posting big November numbers over the last decade, "Catching Fire" should continue that tradition when it hits theaters in time for Thanksgiving 2013.
Looking to find a much smaller audience this week is "The Raid: Redemption," a critically revered martial arts film from Indonesia. Though it barely received much of a release in the U.S., it made waves at the Toronto International Film Festival last fall and should be a hit with martial arts fans as it makes its way into the home market. "The Raid: Redemption" takes audiences deep into the slums of Indonesian capital Jakarta for a whirlwind action film that was praised for its action choreography, leading to a very solid 84% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
As we wind down the summer blockbuster season, the movie that started it all, "Jaws," is also hitting Blu-ray in a special edition set loaded with behind-the-scenes extras. Instead of releasing "Jaws" slowly, as was standard prior to 1975, Universal instead released it wide on the same day and it became one of the biggest hits of all-time overnight, changing the way movies are made and marketed. Though many critics have lamented the event film era "Jaws" ushered in, it remains one of the most highly respected mainstream action movies ever made, and the launching point for the most successful mainstream director of the modern era.
Also likely to be popular on Blu-ray over the next few weeks will be the sixth season of "Dexter," Showtime's flagship series about a serial killer attempting to rid Miami of its seedy underworld one victim at a time. Starring Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Carpenter, "Dexter" has turned into Showtime's most popular series and is expected to continue for a couple more seasons, with the seventh season set to air at the end of September.
Aiming more for a niche audience this week will be a new Blu-ray set of Wes Anderson's "The Royal Tenenbaums." Starring Gene Hackman, Gwyneth Paltrow and Ben Stiller, "The Royal Tenenbaums" is one of Anderson's most lauded films and stands as his biggest commercial hit to date. Anderson had a hard time finding much of an audience after "Tenenbaums" hit with art house crowds back in 2001, though his "Moonrise Kingdom" broke through this year and should finish as one of the most successful limited releases of 2012.
Next week, Sacha Baron Cohen's comedy "The Dictator" should be the most popular new title to hit DVD and Blu-ray, followed by surprise hit "Think Like a Man," which comes off of one of the most impressive box office runs of the year. Jack Black's critically revered art house flick "Bernie" will also get launched next week as will a new Blu-ray edition of "Good Will Hunting," the Oscar-winning film that celebrates its 15th anniversary this year.
by RTT Staff Writer
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