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Friday, August 18, 2017

The Lion King Roars Out of Disney’s Vault

Written by Jon Williams

Disney’s The Lion King was released in theaters in June of 1994 and immediately became a smash success. It would go on to be the second-highest earning film of the year (behind Forrest Gump), and its domestic box office gross of more than $420 million is currently good for #18 of all time. It won Academy Awards for Best Score and Best Original Song, and it was also awarded the Golden Globe for Best Picture – Musical or Comedy.

Now the original animated movie hit is being released from the Disney vault in new DVD and Blu-ray editions, and it’s not coming alone. Capitalizing on the success of the film, Disney released The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride as a direct-to-video offering in 1998 with most of the voice cast returning. It was followed in 2004 by The Lion King 1 1/2, a “sequel” that takes place at the same time as the original film, but from the perspectives of Timon and Pumbaa, the movie’s popular meerkat and warthog sidekicks. All three movies will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on August 29, the first time they’ve been available since 2011.

More than twenty-three years since the film’s original release, fans are still enthralled by the timeless story and characters of The Lion King. In 1997, it was adapted into a musical that has enjoyed a very long run and is the highest-grossing Broadway production of all time. It has also been kept alive on television, starting with an animated series featuring Timon and Pumbaa that aired from 1995 through 1999. In 2015, the TV movie Return of the Roar kicked off a new series called The Lion Guard that centers on the cub Kion and a new group of friends that protect the pridelands. In addition, Timon and Pumbaa star in a number of Wild About Safety shorts that aim to teach young viewers about how to be safe in a variety of situations. And all of this will culminate in 2019 with a new live-action version, much like what Disney did with Beauty and the Beast earlier this year.

With The Lion King and its sequels being released on DVD and Blu-ray for the first time since 2011, make sure you get copies now. When it goes back into the vault, it will be several years before it’s available again. If you have questions about the Disney vault’s origins or which Disney movies are subject to the process, make sure you revisit our blog post on the topic.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Hot This Week: August 14

The movie list sees the most changes this week with four new titles, led by the hit animated comedy The Boss Baby. The latest album from indie rockers Arcade Fire debuts atop the music chart. Tom Perrotta lands his new novel on the fiction list, as do father and son Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman. In non-fiction, the lone new title is from Dinesh D'Souza, while a couple of popular classics make a return.

DVD
  1. The Boss Baby
  2. Kong: Skull Island
  3. The Circle
  4. Gifted
  5. Ghost in the Shell
  6. Unforgettable
  7. CHiPs
  8. The Belko Experiment
  9. Smurfs: The Lost Village
  10. Logan
CD
  1. Arcade Fire, Everything Now
  2. Kendrick Lamar, DAMN.
  3. Meek Mill, Wins and Losses
  4. DJ Khaled, Grateful
  5. Jay-Z, 4:44
  6. Imagine Dragons, Evolve
  7. Ed Sheeran, Divide
  8. Descendants 2 Soundtrack
  9. Lana Del Rey, Lust for Life
  10. Khalid, American Teen
Fiction
  1. The Late Show, Michael Connelly
  2. Camino Island, John Grisham
  3. The Lying Game, Ruth Ware
  4. House of Spies, Daniel Silva
  5. Paradise Valley, C.J. Box
  6. Into the Water, Paula Hawkins
  7. A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles
  8. Mrs. Fletcher, Tom Perrotta
  9. Crime Scene, Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman
  10. Murder Games, James Patterson and Howard Roughan
Non-Fiction
  1. Al Franken, Giant of the Senate, Al Franken
  2. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, Neil deGrasse Tyson
  3. Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance
  4. Option B, Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
  5. The Big Lie, Dinesh D'Souza
  6. Rediscovering Americanism, Mark R. Levin
  7. Understanding Trump, Newt Gingrich
  8. Killers of the Flower Moon, David Grann
  9. Between the World and Me, Ta-Nahesi Coates 
  10. When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi

Monday, August 7, 2017

Hot This Week: August 7

There are three new movies right at the top of this week's list, led by the latest installment in the ever-popular King Kong franchise. Likewise, three new CDs grace the top of the music chart, while the untimely passing of Chester Bennington pushes two Linkin Park albums back to the forefront as well. The latest thriller from the author of The Woman in Cabin 10 is the week's hottest new title in fiction, while the non-fiction list remains largely the same.

DVD
  1. Kong: Skull Island
  2. Ghost in the Shell
  3. The Belko Experiment
  4. CHiPs
  5. Smurfs: The Lost Village
  6. The Lost City of Z
  7. Logan
  8. Beauty and the Beast
  9. Fist Fight
  10. Get Out
CD
  1. Lana Del Rey, Lust for Life
  2. Tyler, the Creator, Flower Boy
  3. Meek Mill, Wins and Losses
  4. Linkin Park, One More Light
  5. Kendrick Lamar, DAMN.
  6. Descendants 2 Soundtrack
  7. Jay-Z, 4:44
  8. Linkin Park, Hybrid Theory
  9. DJ Khaled, Grateful
  10. Romeo Santos, Golden
Fiction
  1. The Late Show, Michael Connelly
  2. Camino Island, John Grisham
  3. The Lying Game, Ruth Ware
  4. Paradise Valley, C.J. Box
  5. House of Spies, Daniel Silva
  6. Into the Water, Paula Hawkins
  7. The Painted Queen, Elizabeth Peters and Joan Hess
  8. A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles
  9. Murder Games, James Patterson and Howard Roughan
  10. The Identicals, Elin Hilderbrand
Non-Fiction
  1. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, Neil deGrasse Tyson
  2. Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance
  3. Al Franken, Giant of the Senate, Al Franken
  4. Rediscovering Americanism, Mark R. Levin
  5. Option B, Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
  6. Killers of the Flower Moon, David Grann
  7. The Operator, Robert O'Neill
  8. Understanding Trump, Newt Gingrich
  9. The Swamp, Eric Bolling
  10. I Can't Make This Up, Kevin Hart and Neil Strauss

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Dark Tower Beckons

Written by Jon Williams

As The Dark Tower opens in theaters this week, casual observers could be forgiven for thinking it’s nothing more than another Stephen King adaptation; there are certainly quite a few of those happening right now. More devoted King fans will tell you that The Dark Tower is more than just a book, more than just the seven-book series it eventually turned out to be. It is, in fact, King’s magnum opus, spreading its tendrils to touch, in one way or another, perhaps every book he has ever written.

The series begins with the simple yet elegant line that has become one of King’s most famous: “The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.” He wrote those words in 1970, as a senior at the University of Maine. He was inspired by a poem, “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came” by Robert Browning, which itself comes from a line in Shakespeare’s King Lear. He wedded that in his imagination with elements of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Clint Eastwood’s Man with No Name, and the Arthurian legends, among other influences, for a dark fantasy quest that was unlike any other.

He began writing in 1970 and labored for twelve years before the first volume, The Gunslinger, was published in 1982. This established a pattern that would persist for much of the series, with several years elapsing between the publications of the individual volumes. The second book, The Drawing of the Three, came out in 1987; the third, The Waste Lands (also inspired by a poem, this one by T.S. Eliot), in 1991. One of the longest gaps, six years, came before Wizard and Glass appeared, with its many Wizard of Oz references, in 1997. This exploration of the gunslinger’s fundamental backstory will be the basis for an upcoming TV series that will feature Idris Elba in a reprisal of his role from the movie.

It was another six years before another Dark Tower book would be published. In 1999, King was hit by a minivan while out for a walk, an incident that threatened his life and drastically altered his writing career when he was finally able to get back to it. Seeing the Dark Tower series as his life’s work and now feeling his own mortality, King set to work with a will. Wolves of the Calla was released in November of 2003; the sixth and seventh books, Song of Susannah and The Dark Tower (currently unavailable on audiobook) came out three months apart in 2004.

The Dark Tower brought the series to a conclusion, but that wasn’t quite the end of the story. In 2012, King returned with The Wind Through the Keyhole, another framed story of Roland’s backstory that fits in between Wizard and Glass and Wolves of the Calla. There’s also a bit of backstory to be found in “The Little Sisters of Eluria,” a short story written in 1998 and included in the collection Everything’s Eventual.

Of course, the full tale of the Dark Tower isn’t contained solely in these books and stories. Readers and listeners will notice connections throughout King’s entire oeuvre, some more pronounced than others. For instance, near the beginning of Wizard and Glass, the gunslinger and his band of travelers pass through a world that has been ravaged by Captain Trips, the weaponized flu strand from The Stand. The man in black that Roland pursues throughout the first book of the series (played in the movie by Matthew McConaughey) appears, in different forms, in both The Stand and The Eyes of the Dragon. The character Father Callahan from ‘Salem’s Lot joins Roland’s crew for a time beginning in Wolves of the Calla, and Dinky Earnshaw (from the title story of Everything’s Eventual) and Ted Brautigan (from Hearts in Atlantis) show up with roles to play as well. The 1994 novel Insomnia becomes a plot point of its own in the final book of the series.

While the Dark Tower books are popular in their own right, they are somewhat less well known than King’s other works. With the movie in theaters and a TV show in the works, though, the series is about to come to the forefront in a big way. Patrons who are stepping into this world for the first time have a rich, rewarding journey ahead of them, and others will want to relive Roland’s adventures again and again. Make sure you have the series and its related works on your shelves for them to explore and enjoy.