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The week ahead: '12 Years a Slave,' 'American Hustle,' 'Frozen' and more

Chiwetel Ejiofor stars in the true story of Solomon Northup in the Oscar-winning "12 Years a Slave." Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence lead an all-star cast in the con-artist dramedy "American Hustle." Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel are among the voice cast in the animated musical "Frozen." Idris Elba portrays civil-rights icon Nelson Mandela in "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom." Oscar winners Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks star in "Saving Mr. Banks," a story about the making of the "Mary Poppins" movie. These are among the films that premiere on demand from March 17 to March 23, 2014. (Check with your cable or satellite provider for a lineup of on-demand channels on your system.)

"12 Years a Slave"
Fox Searchlight Pictures

Here is a list of those movies and their on-demand premiere dates:

March 18, 2014: "12 Years a Slave" (Weeks before Netflix and Redbox releases), Rated R.

In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. Facing cruelty, personified by malevolent slave owner Edwin Epps (played by Michael Fassbender), as well as unexpected kindnesses, Solomon struggles not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity. In the twelfth year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon’s chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist (played by Brad Pitt) will forever alter his life. "12 Years a Slave" won three Oscars, including Best Picture.

For more info: "12 Years a Slave" website

March 18, 2014: "American Hustle" (Same day as DVD), Rated R.

A fictional film set in the alluring world of one of the most stunning scandals to rock the States, American Hustle tells the story of brilliant con man Irving Rosenfeld (played by Christian Bale), who along with his equally cunning and seductive British partner Sydney Prosser (played by Amy Adams) is forced to work for a wild FBI agent Richie DiMaso (played by Bradley Cooper). DiMaso pushes them into a world of Jersey powerbrokers and mafia that’s as dangerous as it is enchanting. Jeremy Renner is Carmine Polito, the passionate, volatile New Jersey political operator caught between the con-artists and Feds. Irving’s unpredictable wife Rosalyn (played by Jennifer Lawrence) could be the one to pull the thread that brings the entire world crashing down. Like David O. Russell’s previous films, "American Hustle" defies genre, hinging on raw emotion, and life and death stakes. "American Hustle" was nominated for 10 Oscars, including Best Picture.

For more info: "American Hustle" website

March 18, 2014: "Frozen" (Same day as DVD), Rated PG.

In the animated musical “Frozen,” Anna (voice of Kristen Bell), a fearless optimist, teams up with extreme mountain man Kristoff and his sidekick reindeer Sven in an epic journey, encountering mystical trolls, a funny snowman named Olaf, Everest-like extremes and magic at every turn in a race to find Anna’s sister Elsa (voice of Idina Menzel), the Snow Queen, and save their kingdom from eternal winter. "Frozen" won two Oscars: Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song (for "Let It Go").

For more info: "Frozen" website

March 18, 2014: "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" (Same day as DVD), Rated PG-13.

"Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" is the long awaited motion picture adaptation of the personal story of one of the world’s most revered leaders, an esteemed statesman in modern history and an international icon, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. Based on his autobiography, the motion picture rights to which were entrusted exclusively to producer Anant Singh, this is the first film to tell Mandela’s whole story. The epic film spans Mandela’s exceptional life journey from his early years as a herd boy in rural Transkei to his inauguration as the first democratically elected President of South Africa. Multiple award-winning actor, Idris Elba plays the role of Nelson Mandela, with Naomie Harris as Winnie Madikizela Mandela.

For more info: "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" website

March 18, 2014: "Saving Mr. Banks" (Same day as DVD), Rated PG-13.

Oscar winners Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks topline Disney’s “Saving Mr. Banks,” inspired by the extraordinary, untold backstory of how Disney’s classic “Mary Poppins” made it to the screen. When Walt Disney’s daughters begged him to make a movie of their favorite book, P.L. Travers’ “Mary Poppins,” he made them a promise — one that he didn’t realize would take 20 years to keep. In his quest to obtain the rights, Walt (played by Hanks) comes up against Travers (played by Thompson), a curmudgeonly, uncompromising writer who has absolutely no intention of letting her beloved magical nanny get mauled by the Hollywood machine. But, as the books stop selling and money grows short, Travers reluctantly agrees to go to Los Angeles to hear Disney’s plans for the adaptation. "Saving Mr. Banks" received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Score.

For more info: "Saving Mr. Banks" website

March 18, 2014: “Kill Your Darlings” (Same day as DVD), Rated R.

A true story of friendship, love and murder, "Kill Your Darlings" recounts the pivotal year that changed writer Allen Ginsberg's life forever and provided the spark for him to start his creative revolution. In "Kill Your Darlings," Daniel Radcliffe plays Ginsberg during Ginsberg's college days. The movie also stars Dane DeHaan, Michael C. Hall, Jack Huston, Ben Foster, David Cross, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Elizabeth Olsen.

For more info: "Kill Your Darlings" website

March 18, 2014: “Swerve” (Same day as DVD), Rated R.

Driving cross-country to a job interview, Colin plays it safe when he has car problems and takes a short cut to a one horse town. But as luck would have it, he comes across a fatal road accident. One of the drivers, Jina, is shaken, the other dead and beside him, a briefcase full of money. When Colin resists temptation and does the right thing, turning it into the local cop, his good deed causes a series of fateful events to unfold. Starring Jason Clarke, Emma Booth, David Lyons, Travis McMahon and Vince Colosimo.

For more info: "Swerve" website

March 18, 2014: “Pretty Old” (Same day as theatrical release)

“Pretty Old” is a documentary that showcases the enthusiastic “65 and older” contestants of Massachusetts’ annual Ms. Senior Sweetheart Pageant as they prepare for, travel to and compete in the coveted event. Hilarious and heartbreaking in turns, the film and prized subjects inspire newfound passions and challenge societal stereotypes to ultimately reveal what it truly means to age beautifully. Directed by Walter Matteson and executive produced by Sarah Jessica Parker, Alison Benson and “Paradise Lost” co-director Joe Berlinger.

For more info: "Pretty Old" website

March 18, 2014: “Authors Anonymous” (Before theatrical release), Rated PG-13.

After a dysfunctional group of unpublished writers with the motto "all for one" accept Hannah Rinaldi (played by Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting) into their fold, the last thing they expect is her overnight success — but that's exactly what they get. While her career takes off, her eccentric and envious colleagues (played by Chris Klein, Teri Polo, Dylan Walsh, Dennis Farina and Jonathan Bennett) struggle to find their own paths to publishing fame and fortune. Tensions rise, rivalries form, and hearts are broken. Rejection turns to desperation. Good thing they're only armed with pens.

For more info: "Authors Anonymous" website

March 18, 2014: “Foxfire"

"Foxfire" director/co-writer Laurent Cantet crosses the Atlantic for his account of a girl gang in 1950s America. Re-appropriating a traditionally male genre, the film’s female perspective highlights the inequality between the sexes during the period, whilst also showing the girls to be worthy adversaries to their male counterparts. With its lush recreation of the era, Cantet’s film continues in the vein of such films as "Rebel Without a Cause" and "The Outsiders." Based on the novel by Joyce Carol Oates. Starring Raven Adamson, Katie Coseni, Madeleine Bisson, Claire Mazerolle, Paige Moyles and Rachael Nyhuus.

For more info: "Foxfire" website

March 18, 2014: "Romeo, Romeo"

"Romeo, Romeo" is a documentary starring lesbian couple Lexy Casano-Antonellis and Jessica Casano-Antonellis. All Lexy has ever wanted is to be a mother. After meeting the woman of her dreams and having a big white wedding, Lexy and her new wife Jessica decide to spend their life savings to buy sperm on line. But having a baby becomes a complicated, heartrending quest for Lexy and Jessica. Over six-and-a-half million American women struggle with infertility. Lexy and Jessica's story echoes that of so many couples (gay and straight) who are grappling with the medical, financial, physical and emotional challenges of infertility.

For more info: "Romeo, Romeo" website

March 18, 2014: "The Laughing Matter"

"The Laughing Matter" is a documentary that follows the lives of several improv comedy’s hottest new talents, struggling to make names for themselves in the frenetic Los Angeles comedy scene. Competing for laughs and votes in crowded improv theaters made famous by veterans of “Saturday Night Live,” HBO and Comedy Central, the future sitcom scions and would-be movie stars provoke, push, and inspire each other to fight for their dreams of making it big, performing each show as if it were their last.

March 20, 2014: "Nymphomaniac: Volume II" (Before theatrical release), Rated TV-MA.

“Nymphomanic: Volume II” (directed by Lars von Trier) is the story of Joe (played by Charlotte Gainsbourg), a self-diagnosed nymphomaniac who is discovered badly beaten in an alley by an older bachelor named Seligman (played by Stellan Skarsgård), who takes her into his home. As he tends to her wounds, she recounts the erotic story of her adolescence and young adulthood (portrayed in flashback by newcomer Stacy Martin). Also starring Shia LaBeouf, Christian Slater, Uma Thurman, Sophie Kennedy Clark, Connie Nielsen and Udo Kier.

For more info: "Nymphomaniac" website

March 21, 2014: “Blood Ties” (Same day as theatrical release), Rated R.

New York, 1974. Fifty-year-old Chris (played by Clive Owen) has just been released on good behavior after several years in prison following a gangland murder. Reluctantly waiting for him outside the gates is his younger brother, Frank (played by Billy Crudup), a cop with a bright future. Chris and Frank have always been different, and their father, Leon (played by James Caan), who raised them alone, seems to favor Chris despite all his troubles. Yet blood ties are the ones that bind, and Frank, hoping that his brother has changed, is willing to give him a chance: He shares his home, finds him a job, and helps him reconnect with his children and his ex-wife, Monica (played by Marion Cotillard). But Chris’ inevitable descent back into a life of crime proves to be the last in a long line of betrayals, and after his brother’s latest transgressions, Frank banishes him from his life. But it’s already too late, as the brothers’ destiny is bound together forever. Directed by Guillaume Canet from a screenplay by Canet and James Gray, "Blood Ties" also stars Mila Kunis, Zoe Saldana and Matthias Schoenaerts.

For more info: "Blood Ties" website