2018 gets off to a good start on the home entertainment front this week with the release of the most successful horror film of 2017, Andy Muschietti’s adaptation of Stephen King’s It, plus Tom Cruise in American Made, Jackie Chan in The Foreigner, and an all new feature-length animated film featuring the Scooby-Doo gang teaming up with Batman.

Theatrical Movies

By far the biggest release of the week is It (Warner Bros., “R,” 120 min., $29.98, BD $35.99, 4K $45.99), one of the biggest horror movie releases of all time, which earned $327.5 million here in North America.  Though the complexity of King’s multi-generational vision is dimmed in the film version, there is no doubt that director Andy Muschietti has crafted a horror film with broad appeal (and enough “jump scares” to give the thrill-seeking horror movie fan his or her money’s worth).

Another item of interest this week is the biographical crime film American Made (Universal, “R,” 231 min., $29.98, BD $34.98), which stars Tom Cruise as a former American Airlines pilot who gets involved with the Columbian drug cartels with predictable results.  Though the “real life” story has been tweaked a bit to raise the action quotient, this is not a typical Cruise action movie of either the pricy (Mission: Impossible) or budget (Jack Reacher) variety, so viewers should forewarned that American Made will not deliver the action set pieces that they might be expecting.

For those seeking a more conventional action movie there is The Foreigner (Universal, “R,” 114 min., $29.98, BD $34.98), which stars Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan, who both play somewhat against type in this better-than-average thriller directed by Martin Campbell.

For “art movie” fans the best choice so far this month is the underrated Battle of the Sexes (Fox, “PG-13,” 121 min., $29.98, BD $34.98) in which Emma Stone and Steve Carrell play Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs and re-enact one of the key feminist moments of the 1970s in what can only be described as a “surprisingly entertaining” docudrama.

Equally interesting from both an artistic and historical perspective is the biographical film Marshall (Uinversal, “PG-13,” 119 min., $29.98, BD $34.98), which stars Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther) as the distinguished African-American jurist and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, who spent his early career as a lawyer for the NAACP, defending African-Americans, who were unjustly accused of serious crimes—and this film carefully documents one of Marshall’s most compelling cases.

This week’s lone animated release is My Little Pony: The Movie (Lionsgate, “PG,” 77 min., $29.98, BD $39.99), which earned a meager $21.9 million at the box office.  This colorful film will likely please its target audience of young girls, but few others will be able to escape its cloying sweetness without a mouth full of cavities.

The horror movie Friend Request (Lionsgate, “R,” 96 min., $19.98, BD $21.98) attempts to update the old school campus horror movie to the social media age, but unfortunately the film doesn’t really have much to say about social media, and the light weight characters that inhabit this rather conventional horror saga don’t help either.


The best of early January’s slim pickings in this category is Scooby-Doo! & Batman: The Brave and the Bold (Warner Bros., 72 min., $19.98), an all-new, feature-length crossover between the Scooby-Doo gang and the Caped Crusader.  Diedrich Bader, who voiced Batman in The Brave and the Bold series returns for this crossover feature alongside the longtime Scooby-Doo voice cast.  This is the first time that the Dark Knight and the Scooby crew have joined forces in 45 years.

The only other animated TV offering is Teen Titans Go!: Be My Valentine (Warner Bros., 265 min., $14.97), which contains eleven romantically-themed episodes of the anime-influenced, DC Comics-based series.

The one contemporary series of interest is the ten-part mystery drama Ten Days in the Valley (Lionsgate, 447 min., $24.97), which stars Kyra Sedgwick as a TV producer whose daughter is kidnapped.

Vintage TV releases include the 1950s western anthology series Death Valley Days: The Complete 14th Season (Shout Factory, 675 min., $24.97); the vintage sketch/stand-up series Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In: The Complete Second Season (Time Life, 1,425 min., $29.95); and the 2000-2008 comedy/drama Girlfriends: The Complete Series (Paramount, $55.98).


The best known anime release of 2018 so far is Naruto Shippuden: Set 33 (Viz Media, “TV-14,” 350 min., $39.99), which contains the complete uncut episodes 417-430 of the long running anime based on the manga series by Masashi Kissimoto (published here by Viz Media).

This week Funimation is unleashing on Blu-ray a trio of shows that were released here in North America on DVD by Bandai Entertainment in the aughts: My Hime: The Complete Series (Funimation, “TV-14,” 650 min., BD/DVD Combo $64.98), an action/comedy sentai series produced by Sunrise that aired in Japan from 2004-2005; the 2005-2006 spin-off, My Otome: The Complete Series (Funimation, “TV-14,” 650 min., BD/DVD Combo $64.98), which was also produced by Sunrise and featured a whole new set of characters; and My Otome: The OVA Collection (Funimation, “TV-14,” 192 min., BD/DVD Combo $44.98), which includes 8 OVA episodes continuing the My Otome saga.

Also due on Tuesday is Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches (Funimation, “TV-14,” 300 min., BD/DVD Combo $64.98), a 12-episode 2015 series from Liden Films that is based on the supernaturally-tinged romantic comedy manga series by Miki Yoshikawa that is published here by Kodansha USA.

There are two “Japanese language, English subtitles” only releases this week, the educational science fiction Time Travel Girl (Funimation, “TV-PG,” 300 min., Subtitles Only, $44.98), and the Naisho No Tsubomi Complete Collection (Sentai Filmworks, “TV-14,” 85 min., $24.98), a three-episode series of OVAs based on the slice-of-life shojo comedy romance manga by Yu Yabuchi.