‘Gilly Hopkins,’ ‘Secret Agent,’ ‘Jennifer Lopez’ on Home Entertainment … plus giveaways!
THE GREAT GILLY HOPKINS. (Key Art). ©Lionsgate.

THE GREAT GILLY HOPKINS. (Key Art). ©Lionsgate.


Front Row Features

The feel-good family movie “The Great Gilly Hopkins” arrives on DVD and Digital HD Tuesday Dec. 6 from Lionsgate. Academy Award winners Kathy Bates (“Misery”) and Octavia Spencer (“The Help”) join Academy Award nominee Glenn Close (“Albert Nobbs”) as they bring to life the acclaimed young-adult novel by Katherine Paterson (“Bridge to Terabithia”). Stephen Herek directs the film from a screenplay adapted by David Paterson. The coming-of-age dramedy stars Sophie Nelisse (“The Book Thief”) as a young girl who discovers what a family really can be.

Feisty and headstrong Gilly Hopkins (Nelisse) has made a name for herself in the foster system, outwitting family after family in hopes of being reunited with her estranged birth mother (Julia Stiles). In a comical effort to escape her newest home and overly affectionate foster mother, Mamie Trotter (Bates), Gilly devises a scheme she believes will send her mother running to the rescue. When her plan backfires, Gilly realizes she may have been wrong about everything in her search to find where she belongs.

In an interview earlier this year, the French Canadian Nelisse said she enjoyed working with her co-stars, with whom she became friends while filming. “When we were filming in Connecticut instead of going to stay at a hotel, Glenn Close actually opened up her home to me, my brother and sister and my mother,” she recalled. “She is so very sweet. It was so cool to work with all these great actors and actresses.”

The home entertainment release of  “The Great Gilly Hopkins” includes a behind-the-scenes “Making The Great Gilly Hopkins” featurette. The DVD is available for the suggested retail price (SRP) of $19.98.

“In Order of Disappearance” appears on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD Tuesday Dec. 6 from Magnolia Home Entertainment under the Magnet Label. Starring Stellan Skarsgard, Pal Sverre Hagen and Bruno Ganz, the action-packed thriller tells the story of an introverted and hard-working snowplow driver named Nils, who has just been named  Citizen of the Year in his community. When he receives news that his son has died of a heroin overdose, he disbelieves the official report. Nils soon uncovers evidence that his son was murdered, the innocent bystander in a turf war between the local crime boss, known as “The Count,” and his Serbian rivals. Armed with heavy artillery and a good dose of beginner’s luck, Nils embarks on a quest to avenge his son’s death, which escalates into a full-blown underworld gang war, with a rising body count. The Blu-ray and DVD will be available for the SRP of $29.98 and $26.98, respectively.

A member of a popular New York City improv troupe catches his big break forcing the group to reevaluate their success and confront their fears in the dramedy “Don’t Think Twice,” available on Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand Tuesday Dec. 6, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.  The bittersweet behind-the-scenes look into the lives of six best friend comedians is explored.

Directed and starring Mike Birbiglia (“Sleepwalk With Me”) and Ira Glass (creator of “This American Life”), “Don’t Think Twice” focuses on the lives of professional funny people starring Keegan-Michael Key (“Key & Peele”), Gillian Jacobs (“Girls”), Kate Micucci (“The Big Bang Theory”), Chris Gethard (“Inside Amy Schumer”) and Tami Sagher (“Broad City”). For 11 years, the six-person comedy team known as The Commune has killed it onstage while waiting for their big break.

The Blu-ray and DVD include several extras included deleted improv scenes, a featurette called “The Creative Team: Interviews,” where director Birbiglia, the cast, and producer Miranda Bailey take you behind the scenes of the creative process of the film; “Don’t Think Twice: The Art of Improv,” where the philosophy that inspired the world and comedy found are explored within Birbiglia’s film; and “The Commune: Has anybody had a particularly hard day,” which delves into the minds of the cast and characters of The Commune improv troupe. The film also is available on Digital HD.

A sinister tale of haunting and murder starring Neal McDonough (“Captain America: The First Avenger”) and Jodelle Ferland (“The Cabin in the Woods,”), “The Unspoken” is available on DVD Tuesday Dec. 6 from Anchor Bay Entertainment.

In 1997 the close-knit Anderson family vanished from their country home without a trace, without an explanation. No bodies were ever found and the house has remained undisturbed for 17 years. When a mother and her mute son move into the mysterious place, a local teen reluctantly accepts a job as the son’s caretaker to help her financially struggling father. She immediately finds herself trying to make sense of the supernatural activities taking place in the house, all of which seem eerily similar to past events.The twisted tale also stars Chanelle Peloso (“Zapped”), Lochlyn Munro (“Charmed”), Matt Bellefleur (“Falling Skies”) and Pascale Hutton (“Sanctuary”). “The Unspoken” DVD will be available for the suggested retail price of $22.98.

“The Possession Experiment” is available On Demand, Digital HD and on DVD Tuesday Dec. 6. The horror movie tells the story of Brandon (Chris Minor), who has always been drawn to the supernatural.  So when asked to pick a topic to base his final world theology class project on, he decides to explore the dark world of exorcisms. Teamed up with three classmates, the group investigates a multiple homicide that they eventually discover was an exorcism gone horribly wrong. Brandon becomes obsessed with the event, and in a strange turn of events, decides the only way to research this topic is to undergo an exorcism himself.

Exploring the mind of a center city man in search of mental equilibrium, “Knucklehead” makes its DVD debut Tuesday Dec. 6, from RLJ Entertainment. The film stars Emmy winner Alfre Woodard (“State of Affairs”), and Gbenga Akinnagbe (“The Wire”), who also produced the project. When his brother (Amari Cheatom, “Django Unchained”) is shot, mentally disabled Langston Bellows (Akinnagbe) is left without a protector in Brooklyn’s housing projects. Now in the care of his abusive mother (Woodard), Langston must take his future into his own hands. He sets out to find the one person he believes can cure him, a celebrity magazine columnist who touts questionable prescription drug cocktails. If Langston can become “mentally excellent,” it will mean moving into an apartment of his own with his girlfriend, who may herself be a creation of his imagination. Plunged into the unscrupulous world of pharmaceutical marketing, the search for his mysterious doctor and hero leads to some surprising discoveries.

“Decommissioned” arrives on DVD, Digital HD and On Demand Tuesday Dec. 6 from Lionsgate. Vinnie Jones (“Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”) and Estella Warren (“The Cooler”) bring to life this white-knuckle action-thriller. Retired CIA agent John Niles’s quiet life is shattered when he’s kidnapped and tortured one night to reveal his part in an upcoming mission. With his wife (Warren) and son held captive, Niles is forced to take part in a presidential assassination, so he turns to his old mentor Price (Jones) to uncover the CIA’s covert role in this dark operation.

Based on the bestselling book series by acclaimed author James Patterson, “Maximum Ride” takes flight on DVD Tuesday Dec. 6, from Paramount Home Media Distribution. The sci-fi thriller brings to life the extraordinary journey of six DNA-enhanced young orphans with the ability to fly that are on a mission to rescue the youngest of their flock while discovering the diabolical, scientific secrets of how they came to exist. Their leader is Max, wise beyond her years, who must summon all of her courage and acumen to outmaneuver the brutal half-human/half-wolf creations known as “Erasers,” confront her own inner demons and ultimately face a stunning betrayal.

Allie Marie Evans (“Vanity”), Patrick Johnson (“Mean Girls 2”), Lyliana Wray (“Girl Missing”), Luke Gregory Crosby, Gavin Lewis (“Just Jacques”) and Tetona Jackson (“Stolen from Suburbia”) star in this film adaptation written by Angelique Hanus and Jesse Spears and directed by Jay Martin.

Every holiday season, hundreds of Christmas tree sellers from across North America descend on the streets of New York City to ply their trade. The documentary “Tree Man,” chronicles the journey of one of these vendors, a man known simply as Francois. It is available on VOD, Digital and iTunes Tuesday Dec. 6. Directed by Jon Reiner and Brad Rothschild, “Tree Man” is distributed by XLrator Media. François, a father of three from Quebec, migrates to the same Manhattan street corner every year to deliver the magic of the season. Having left his home and family behind, he, like the other vendors, endures the adversity of a migrant’s survival living out of his vehicle while trying to make money to support his family back home.

Disneynature’s “Growing Up Wild” takes viewers to the wildest corners of the planet to tell the tales of five courageous animals as they tackle the very first challenges of their young lives. With a little guidance from sage family members, each must figure out how and where to find food, while learning to recognize the very real threat of danger.  From their first steps of exploring their world to their final steps into independence,the documentary reveals the triumphs and setbacks of five young lives in which instinct, parental lessons and trial and error ultimately define their destinies. Featuring stunning imagery and iconic storytelling, “Growing Up Wild” brings home a special look at how similar and different these young lives can be. Disneynature’s “Growing Up Wild” is available on Digital HD and VOD Tuesday Dec. 6.

Chiller Films will be releasing “Siren” Sin on VOD, Digital HD and DVD on Tuesday Dec. 6. The horror flick stars Chase Williamson (“John Dies at the End”),  Justin Welborn (“The Final Destination”),  Michael Aaron Milligan (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”), Hayes Mercure (“Mascots”), Randy McDowell (“Elvis”) and Hannah Fierman, (“V/H/S”). The film is directed by Gregg Bishop (“V/H/S Viral”).

Disney’s “Elena of Avalor: Ready to Rule” is available on DVD Tuesday Dec. 6. Set in the enchanted fairytale land of Avalor, the animated feature tells the story of Elena, a brave and adventurous teenager who has saved her kingdom from an evil sorceress and must now learn to rule as crown princess until she is old enough to be queen. Elena’s journey leads her to understand that her new role requires thoughtfulness, resilience and compassion—the traits required by all great leaders.

Aimee Carrero (“Young & Hungry”) provides the voice of Princess Elena. Other voice actors include: Jenna Ortega (“Stuck in the Middle”), Chris Parnell (“Saturday Night Live”), Yvette Nicole Brown (“Community”), Carlos Alazraqui (“Inside Out”) and Joe Nunez (“Bridesmaids”) as Armando. All four episodes of the first season are on the DVD. The guest voice cast includes Tituss Burgess (TV’s “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”) as Charoca and George Takei (“Star Trek”) as King Toshi.

Unleash the lighter side of the Force with the complete season one of “LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures,” available Tuesday Dec. 6 on Blu-ray and DVD. Set between the events of “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi,” these new adventures follow a family of scavengers who build and sell starships from battle debris strewn throughout the galaxy. When their youngest discovers a natural connection with the Force through an ancient artifact—the Kyber Saber—he and his family are thrown into an epic struggle against the Empire to restore peace and freedom to the galaxy. The Freemakers explore new worlds, meet new and familiar characters and discover the strength of family. All 13 action-packed episodes are on two discs. Bonus features include: “The Freemaker Adventures:  Meet the Freemaker Family,” where viewers get to know the members of the family of celestial scavengers—and meet the actors who bring them to life— in this collection of clips, behind-the-scenes footage and cast interviews and “Freemaker Salvage and Repair,” where viewers visit the shop with the finest salvage in the galaxy as characters Rowan, Kordi and Zander lead the tour of the family business. The voice cast includes Nicolas Cantu (TV’s upcoming movie “Hey Arnold: The Jungle Movie”) as Rowan; Vanessa Lengies (“Second Chance”) as Kordi; Eugene Byrd (“Bones) as Zander; Grey Griffin (“Miles from Tomorrowland”) as Naare and Matthew Wood (“Star Wars Rebels”) as RO-GR.

OWN’s family drama “Greenleaf” Season 1 arrives on Blu-ray (plus Digital HD) and DVD (plus Digital) Tuesday Dec. 6 from Lionsgate. Executive produced by Oprah Winfrey (“The Butler”), and created by Emmy-nominated writer/producer Craig Wright (“Lost”). “Greenleaf” stars Merle Dandridge (“The Night Shift”), Keith David (“Community”), Lynn Whitfield (“The Josephine Baker Story”), Kim Hawthorne (“Rake”), Lamman Rucker (“Meet the Browns”), Deborah Joy Winans (“Whitney”) and Desiree Ross (“Falling Skies”). The series is also available on Digital HD.

“Greenleaf” centers on the journey of estranged daughter and disillusioned preacher Grace Greenleaf (Dandridge), who has returned home after 20 years on the occasion of the mysterious death of her sister, Faith. As she reenters the world of Calvary Fellowship World Ministries, the Memphis mega-church run by her powerful parents Bishop James Greenleaf (David) and Lady Mae Greenleaf (Whitfield), it becomes evident that things are not as virtuous as they seem and that the family’s outward display of faith hides sin and misdeeds.

The home entertainment release of “Greenleaf” Season 1 includes two behind-the-scenes featurettes, bloopers, and one-on-one conversations between Oprah Winfrey and executive producer/director Clement Virgo and series stars Dandridge, David, Whitfield and Regina King. “Greenleaf” Season 1 will be available on Blu-ray and DVD for the suggested retail price of $34.97 and $34.98, respectively. Each set includes “Conversations with Oprah Winfrey,” bloopers, a “Creating Greenleaf’” featurette and a “Greenleaf Musicians” featurette.

The concert documentary “Jennifer Lopez: Dance Again,” which takes fans behind the scenes of Lopez’s first world tour, arrives Tuesday Dec. 6 on DVD, Digital HD and On Demand from Anchor Bay Entertainment. Visiting 65 cities and five continents, traveling 100,000 miles, reaching a million fans, and requiring 500,000 sequins and 162 wardrobe changes, the film combines riveting musical performances with a raw and candid look at Lopez’s personal and professional life over a defining six-month period, when she challenges herself to go on her first world tour with her two young children in tow.

With concert footage directed by Ted Kenney (“Britney Spears Live: The Femme Fatale Tour”), “Jennifer Lopez: Dance Again” includes interviews with Lopez and her closest friends, who accompanied her on the road, as well as spectacular in-concert renditions of many of her biggest hits, including “Get Right,” “Love Don’t Cost a Thing,” “I’m Into You,” “Goin’ In,” “Let’s Get Loud,” “On the Floor,” “I’m Real,” “Do It Well,” “All I Have” and “Dance Again.” The DVD will be available for the suggested retail price of $19.98.

Debuting on DVD Tuesday Dec. 6 is Acorn TV and BBC’s gripping period drama “The Secret Agent,” based on Joseph Conrad’s timeless thriller. The three-part series stars Toby Jones (“Detectorists”) in an explosive adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s timeless novel of terror, espionage and betrayal. In 1886 London, Verloc (Jones) runs a seedy sex shop in the heart of Britain’s Soho. Unbeknown to his loyal wife Winnie (Vicky McClure, “Line of Duty”), Verloc also works for the Russian embassy, spying on a group of London anarchists. The miniseries also stars Tom Goodman-Hill (“Humans”), Ian Hart (“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”) and Stephen Graham (“Boardwalk Empire”).

‘Tis the season for giving, and Front Row Features is giving away several new titles this week sure to make the perfect stocking stuffers for various people on your gift-giving list.

For the little princess in your life, Front Row Features is giving away one copy of the new Disney release “Elena of Avalor: Ready to Rule” on DVD. The release includes a free Elena projecting scepter for kids to enjoy.

For the “Star Wars” fan in your life—or at least one of them—Front Row Features is giving away a copy of the complete first season of “LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures” on Blu-ray. The 13-episode release includes six exclusive magnets.

For the music fan on your gift-giving list, Front Row Features has three copies of Anchor Bay Entertainment’s new concert documentary “Jennifer Lopez: Dance Again” to give away on DVD. 

Front Row Features is also giving away three copies of Anchor Bay Entertainment’s “The Unspoken” on DVD. 

Finally, Front Row Features is giving away three copies of last summer’s top new cable show, the addictive family drama “Greenleaf,” on Blu-ray. 

For your chance to enter any of the above contests, email socalmovieeditor@aol.com by Tuesday, Dec. 13 with which title you want to win in the email’s subject line. Good luck and remember: it’s always better to give than receive—though winning something is always nice, too.