The It List: New movies stream early as theaters close, Robert Englund scares in 'True Terror,' 'Little Fires Everywhere' debuts and the best in pop culture the week of March 16, 2020

Yahoo Entertainment

The It List is Yahoo’s weekly look at the best in pop culture, including movies, music, TV, streaming, games, books, podcasts and more. Here are our picks for March 16-22, including the best deals we could find for each. (Yahoo Entertainment may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page.)

WATCH IT: With theaters closed due to the coronavirus, Universal makes some of its recent movies available to stream on VOD 

The coronavirus has shuttered movie theaters around the country, leading some to speculate that Hollywood will accelerate towards a streaming-only future ahead of schedule. Disney took steps in that direction when it recently released Frozen 2 on its Disney+ streaming service three months early, and moved up the digital release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. And now Universal is making three of its movies available for on-demand viewing while they’re still playing in theaters... the ones that are still open, anyway. By the end of the week, The Invisible Man, The Hunt and Emma will be available to rent on digital platforms for $19.99 for a 48-hour window. That means you won’t have to leave the comfort of your home to watch Elisabeth Moss battle an abusive ex, Betty Gilpin stand her ground against wealthy elites (as well as Trump supporters) and Anya Taylor-Joy reinvent an oft-adapted Jane Austen novel. Universal will make an even bolder move on April 10 when its blockbuster sequel, Trolls: World Tour, starring Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake, arrives on VOD the same day it’s set to open theatrically — a first for an animated feature from a major studio. Even when movie theaters reopen, Hollywood will have taken a significant step into a post-multiplex future. — Ethan Alter

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The Invisible Man, The Hunt and Emma will be available to rent on digital platforms starting March 20.

WATCH IT: Freddy Krueger gives you a guided tour of America’s haunted past with True Terror with Robert Englund on Travel Channel

Just like every town has an Elm Street, every U.S. state has tales of terror tucked away in its archives. And there’s no better tour guide to escort you down those dark, spooky avenues of American history than one of horror cinema’s most iconic boogeymen: Robert Englund (a.k.a. Freddy Krueger). The 72-year-old actor hosts a new Travel Channel series that brings news stories from the distant past to present day, courtesy of dramatic re-enactments accompanied by the Nightmare on Elm Street star’s signature voice. The series premiere — which airs March 18 — makes three pit stops around the country. Viewers start off in North Carolina, where a shopkeeper lives under the shadow of his prophesied demise. After that, continue down south to New Orleans and meet a teenager unable to wake up from a scream-curdling nightmare. (Englund has some personal experience with that dilemma.) The maiden voyage ends in Atlanta where a revenge-minded spirit wreaks havoc at a police station. One, two, True Terror is coming for you… — E.A.

True Terror With Robert Englund premieres Wednesday, March 18 at 10 p.m. on Travel Channel.

WATCH IT: It’s called an anniversary, Ed: Erin Brockovich turns 20

Julia Roberts won an Oscar for her scrappy portrayal of a beauty-queen-turned-single-mom-turned-legal-eagle-in-a-pushup-bra in this Steven Soderbergh-directed film inspired by the real-life Erin Brockovich’s battle against the Pacific Gas and Electric Company. More importantly, the biographical drama — which co-starred the late, great Albert Finney — raised the real Brockovich’s profile as an environmental activist and consumer advocate. As president of Brockovich Research and Consulting, the 59-year-old legal clerk continues to take on cases of contamination and pollution. “Seeing one person light up and the change they can make, that’s what makes me hopeful,” she told Iowa Public Radio last week. “To see that while everybody is feeling disruption — and we all are, we are waking up. And I'd rather be awake than asleep.” — Erin Donnelly

Erin Brockovich is available to stream on Hulu or buy at Amazon.

WATCH: Pete Davidson teaches a teen life lessons in Big Time Adolescence

Pete Davidson is primed to have a year. In June, the Saturday Night Live star’s collaboration with Judd Apatow, King of New York, could follow in the footsteps of the Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck and Kumail Nanjiani’s The Big Sick in mining big comedy (and money) out of bio material. But first he stars in this 2020 Sundance premiere hitting Hulu this week about a college dropout who probably spends way too much time hanging out with his 16-year-old best friend (Why Him?’s Griffin Gluck.) As you can see from the exclusive clip above, uncomfortable laughs abound in this critical darling.

Big Time Adolescence is available on Hulu.

WATCH IT: Little Fires Everywhere is another Big Little Lies — and that’s a good thing! 

Reese Witherspoon plays an upper-class, suburban mom who faces off with her daughter, her husband and another mom while a dangerous mystery hangs over them. Sound familiar? Like HBO’s Emmy-winning series Big Little Lies, Hulu’s new show Little Fires Everywhere is a drama based on a best-selling book. In this case, it’s Celeste Ng’s 2017 critically-acclaimed page-turner about what happens when Witherspoon’s character, Elena, and her family become close to a newcomer, played by Kerry Washington (Mia) and her daughter, Pearl, when Mia rents a house from them. While the new mother-daughter pair are quickly embraced by Elena’s family, Elena herself soon finds out that there’s something Mia is hiding about her past. Juicy, right? — Raechal Shewfelt

Little Fires Everywhere premieres Wednesday, March 18 on Hulu.

HEAR IT: Alicia Keys is a singular sensation

The pianist and activist returns with her seventh album, simply called ALICIA. The title makes a singular statement, but she does recruit Miguel for the languid and dreamy lead single, “Show Me Love.” Keys’s memoir, More Myself: A Journey, will follow later this year, and Keys recently told Billboard that concurrently working on the book and album had been “the best therapy [she] ever had.” — Lyndsey Parker

Download on iTunes; buy on CD at Amazon.

HEAR IT: Kelsea Ballerini makes a name for herself

Alicia Keys isn’t the only recording artist dropping an eponymous (but in this case, lower-cased) album this week. Rising young country star Kelsea Ballerini’s third LP, kelsea, features the top 20 country hit “Homecoming Queen” (sadly, Ballerini is one of the few women getting consistent airplay at country radio these days) as well as duets with Halsey and Kenny Chesney. — L.P.

Download on iTunes; buy on CD/vinyl at Amazon.

WATCH IT: The Plot Against America shows an alternate — and terrifying — America

What if Charles Lindberg had run for president on a platform of America first and keeping the country out of World War II — and won? Prolific author Philip Roth imagined just such a thing in his 2004 novel, which has been adapted for this HBO miniseries. The project is in good hands; No less than the executive producers of the network’s critically acclaimed show The Wire are behind it, and actress Winona Ryder heads up the cast. Another cast member is Zoe Kazan, the granddaughter of famed director Elia Kazan, who infamously named his former colleagues who had been members of the Communist Party when he was questioned before the United States House Un-American Activities Committee in 1952. He had been blacklisted as a result, during another time when the country was fraught with tension about where loyalties rested. The younger Kazan told reporters, while promoting the series at the TCAs, that it had been a “profound experience working on this personally, politically and artistically.”  — R.S.

The Plot Against America premieres Monday, March 16 at 9 p.m. on HBO.

HEAR IT: Everybody’s working for the Weeknd

One of the most anticipated albums of the year so far, the Weeknd’s fourth full-length (and first album since 2016), After Hours, is sure to be the party soundtrack of summer 2020. Bangers “Heartless” and “Blinding Lights” have already cracked the Billboard Hot 100, with the latter going to No. 1. — L.P.

Download on iTunes; buy on CD at Amazon.

WATCH IT: Top Chef’s knives are out with All-Stars L.A. 

Fan favorites, former finalists who fell short and some old-school vets (Bryan Voltaggio! Brian Malarkey! Lee Anne Wong!) will have a shot at redemption thanks to Top Chef: All-Stars L.A., which marks the reality show’s 17th season. Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio and a back-from-maternity-leave Gail Simmons will be dishing out another round of culinary challenges as cast members from seasons past vie for kitchen bragging rights. Brace yourself for supermarket sweeps; clever and chaotic Quickfire Challenges; guest appearances from Ruth Reichl, Marcus Samuelsson, Ali Wong and Danny Trejo; and mouthwatering dishes that you will sadly never, ever actually get to taste in real life. — E.D.

Top Chef: All-Stars L.A. premieres Thursday, March 19 at 10 p.m. on Bravo.

WATCH IT: The Force is strong with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker on digital and in bookstores

Love it or hate it, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is the last word (for now) on the Skywalker Saga that’s been a staple of that far, far away galaxy since 1977. That means that wherever the Star Wars franchise goes next, it’ll be without Luke and Leia, Vader and Kylo, and — hopefully — Palpatine and those pesky midichlorians. Despite rumors of a J.J. Abrams cut, the version of the film that’s arriving on digital services on March 17 is the same one you saw in theaters in December. 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD editions with tons of extras will follow on March 31, but if you want to check out some bonus content now, pick up Rae Carson’s novelization, which features some pretty important plot details that hit the cutting room floor. You can also hear Carson’s book performed for you by Star Wars audiobook superstar, Marc Thompson via Audible and other audiobook platforms. We can’t wait to hear his Babu Frik. — E.A.

Buy Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker on digital at Amazon beginning Tuesday, March 17. The novelization and audiobook are available the same day.

HEAR IT: Adam Lambert has the Velvet touch

The Queen frontman takes a break from his day job to release his first full album since 2015’s The Original High. The swaggering collection, which comprises last year’s Velvet Side A EP plus six additional songs and features a collaboration with Nile Rodgers on the new single “Roses,” recalls Bryan Ferry, George Michael, Scissor Sisters, and the theatrical singer’s “Glambert” roots. — L.P.

Download on iTunes; buy on CD at Amazon.

WATCH IT: Part Blood Simple and part Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Blow the Man Down is a wryly funny slice of Maine noir 

A small town in Maine is rocked by some major events in Blow the Man Down, the first feature-length collaboration between filmmakers Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy that makes its streaming debut on March 20. Margo Martindale heads up a sterling ensemble cast as the owner and operator of the local bordello that everyone in town — including a trio of busybodies played by June Squibb, Annette O’Toole and Marceline Hugo — pretends isn’t a bordello. But that pretense breaks down after two sisters (Morgan Saylor and Sophie Lowe) attempt to cover up a crime they committed, and uncover lingering secrets about their hometown and its most notorious business in the process. There’s plenty of Coen-esque humor in Cole and Krudy’s screenplay, but the movie is also seriously tense and expertly paced. We’d happily return to rural Maine for future mysteries from this team. — E.A.

Blow the Man Down is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, March 20.

BUY IT: Oh yeah! Funko’s Funkoverse line of strategy games continues to expand with Jurassic Park, The Golden Girls and Kool-Aid Man  

Since launching last August with Harry Potter and Batman-themed boards, the Funkoverse slate of strategy games has expanded far beyond Hogwarts and Gotham City. How far? Try Isla Nublar. A Jurassic Park set leads a trio of new releases, and allows you to play as Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler, both of whom will be back in the third Jurassic World adventure next year. (An expansion pack adds Ian Malcom and that roaring T.Rex to the fun.) And because strategy games truly are for all ages, The Golden Girls are here to bring generations of your family around the same tabletop. Eighties kids, meanwhile, will love the Kool-Aid Man expansion, which can and will knock down brick walls between Funkoverse worlds. Can we get an “Oh yeah”? — E.A.

Funkoverse sets are available at Amazon and Target.


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