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The week ahead: 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,' 'Grudge Match' and more

Martin Freeman returns as the title character in the fantasy sequel "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts are among the all-star cast in the dysfunctional-family drama "August: Osage County." Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro are two boxing rivals who come out of retirement to settle a score in "Grudge Match." These are among the films that premiere on demand from April 7 to April 12, 2014. (Check with your cable or satellite provider for a lineup of on-demand channels on your system.)

"The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug"
New Line Cinema/Warner Bros. Pictures

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

April 8, 2014: "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" (Same day as DVD; weeks before Netflix and Redbox releases; available in 3-D), Rated PG-13.

From Academy Award-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson comes “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” the second in a trilogy of films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien. “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” continues the adventure of the title character Bilbo Baggins (played by Martin Freeman) as he journeys with the Wizard Gandalf and thirteen Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield, on an epic quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain and the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor. Also starring Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving and Evangeline Lilly.

For more info: "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" website

April 8, 2014: "August: Osage County" (Same day as DVD), Rated R.

"August: Osage County" (based on Don Letts' award-winning play) tells the dark, hilarious and deeply touching story of the strong-willed women of the Weston family, whose lives have diverged until a family crisis brings them back to the Midwest house they grew up in, and to the dysfunctional woman who raised them. Starring Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Juliette Lewis, Ewan McGregor, Abigail Breslin and Chris Cooper.

For more info: "August: Osage County" website

April 8, 2014: “Grudge Match” (Same day as DVD; weeks before Netflix and Redbox releases), Rated PG-13.

Oscar winner Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone star as old boxing rivals who come out of retirement for one final match. De Niro and Stallone play Billy “The Kid” McDonnen and Henry “Razor” Sharp, two local Pittsburgh fighters whose fierce rivalry put them in the national spotlight. Each had scored a victory against the other during their heyday, but in 1983, on the eve of their decisive third match, Razor suddenly announced his retirement, refusing to explain why, but effectively delivering a knock-out punch to both their careers. Thirty years later, boxing promoter Dante Slate Jr. (played by Kevin Hart), seeing big dollar signs, makes them an offer they can’t refuse: to re-enter the ring and settle the score once and for all.

For more info: "Grudge Match" website

April 8, 2014: "Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones" (Same day as DVD), Rated R.

"Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones" is a spinoff, not a sequel, to the "Paranormal Activity" horror movies. In "Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones," a demonic spirit is plaguing young people in Oxnard, California.

For more info: "Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones" website

April 8, 2014: “Walking With Dinosaurs” (Weeks before Netflix and Redbox releases), Rated PG.

In "Walking With Dinosaurs," the voice talents of Justin Long and John Leguizamo take you on a thrilling prehistoric journey the whole family will enjoy. In a time when dinosaurs rule the Earth, the smallest of the pack (a playful Pachyrhinosaurus named Patchi) embarks on the biggest adventure of his life. As he tries to find his place in a spectacular world filled with fun-loving friends and a few dangerous foes, Patchi will discover the courage he needs to become the leader of the herd and a hero for the ages.

For more info: "Walking With Dinosaurs" website

April 8, 2014: "Justin Bieber's Believe"

"Justin Bieber's Believe" (his second documentary film to be released in theaters) shows Bieber on stage and on stage. Bieber's struggles with fame are also discussed in the movie.

For more info: "Justin Bieber's Believe" website

April 8, 2014: “Black Coffee” (Same day as DVD)

Robert (played by Darrin Henson) picked the wrong time to meet his soul mate! After being fired from his own father’s company, he feels like his luck has run out – until Morgan (Gabrielle Dennis) enters into his life. Just as things start to heat up between them, trouble brews as Morgan’s ex-husband (played by Lamman Rucker) vows to get her back and Robert’s gold-digging ex-girlfriend (played by Erica Hubbard) returns with an agenda of her own. With the help of his cousin (played by Christian Keyes), Robert’s about to find out how much good can come out of a bad situation in this charming romantic comedy about finding common grounds.

For more info: "Black Coffee" website

April 8, 2014: “A Field in England” (Same day as DVD), Rated TV-MA.

England: 1648 A.D. A small group of deserters flee from a raging battle through an overgrown field. They are captured by two men: O'Neil and Cutler. O'Neil (played Michael Smiley), an alchemist, forces the group to aid him in his search to find a hidden treasure that he believes is buried in the field. Crossing a vast mushroom circle, which provides their first meal, the group quickly descend into a chaos of arguments, fighting and paranoia. As it becomes clear that the treasure might be something other than gold, they slowly become victim to the terrifying energies trapped inside the field. "A Field In England" is a psychedelic trip into magic and madness from writer/director Ben Wheatley.

For more info: "A Field in England" website

April 8, 2014: “The Machine” (Before theatrical release)

Two computer programmers fall in love as they create the first-ever piece of self-aware artificial intelligence, designed to help humanity. But things go terribly wrong when the British government steals their breakthrough and teaches it to become a robotic weapon. Starring Toby Stephens, Caity Lotz, and Denis Lawson.

For more info: "The Machine" website

April 8, 2014: “Hot Guys With Guns"

Danny Lohman is an actor who takes his homework a little too seriously. Pip Armstong is his ex with a trust fund and a knack for finding trouble. Together they enlist the help of a jaded private investigator named Jimmy Peppicelli to break up a crime spree, sending shockwaves through Hollywoood's Velvet Mafia. Reputations, careers and lives are all above the line and in deep, deep danger. Starring Brian McArdle, Marc Anthony Samuel, Darryl Stephens and Kamar de los Reyes.

For more info: "Hot Guys With Guns" website

April 8, 2014: “The Organic Life"

In 2010, lured by rich soil, a tight-knit community, and a close proximity to San Francisco, filmmaker Casey Beck and her boyfriend, Austin Blair, moved to Sonoma, California, where he became a full-time organic vegetable farmer. Set amidst the rolling, grape-covered hills of the Sonoma Valley, "The Organic Life" is Austin’s story, and by default Casey’s story, about his first year at Paul’s Produce, a local organic vegetable farm.

For more info: "The Organic Life" website

April 8, 2014: “Putzel”

For some, life is an adventure filled with opportunities to excel and places to explore. For Walter Himmelstein, a young man endearingly known as Putzel, life literally doesn’t go beyond his family’s fish store and his community on the upper west side of Manhattan. In this heartwarming comedy, Walter’s aspirations of taking over his uncle’s smoked fish emporium are disrupted by the arrival of Sally, who becomes romantically involved with his about-to-retire and very-married uncle. Starring Jack T. Carpenter, Melanie Lynskey, John Pankow and Susie Essman.

For more info: "Putzel" website

April 11, 2014: “Dancing in Jaffa” (Same day as theatrical release)

In the documentary “Dancing in Jaffa,” renowned ballroom dancer Pierre Dulaine returns to his hometown of Jaffa, Israel, nostalgic for the streets of his youth but nervous and dismayed by the strong current of racial animosity that now serves as the norm. Fueled by his belief in dancing’s power to build self-esteem and social awareness, Dulaine brings his popular Dancing Classrooms program to three diverse, Jaffa-based schools where he teaches ballroom basics to the ethnically mixed population of children. Dulaine selects the most focused dancers to train for a citywide competition, pairing Palestinians with Jews, putting many of the children’s and, more pointedly, their families’ beliefs to the test. As Dulaine’s passion for dance and no-nonsense style of teaching rubs off on the reluctant children, the competition offers the perfect window into their lives.

For more info: "Dancing in Jaffa" website

April 11, 2014: “Joe” (Same day as theatrical release)

“Joe” is a gripping mix of friendship, violence and redemption that erupts in the contemporary South in this adaptation of Larry Brown's novel, celebrated at once for its grit and its deeply moving core. Directed by David Gordon Green, the film brings Oscar winner Nicolas Cage back to his indie roots in the title role as the hard-living, hot-tempered, ex-con Joe Ransom, who is just trying to dodge his instincts for trouble — until he meets a hard-luck kid played by Tye Sheridan, who awakens in him a fierce and tender-hearted protector.

For more info: "Joe" website

April 11, 2014: "Hateship Loveship” (Same day as theatrical release)

Johanna Parry (played by Kristen Wiig) is a profoundly shy, unadorned woman who is hired by Mr. McCauley (played by Nick Nolte) as a housekeeper and a primary caregiver to his granddaughter Sabitha (played by Hailee Steinfeld). Despite her outgoing nature, Sabitha carries wounds from the death of her mother years before, complicated by the circumstances of that death for which her grandfather still blames her father, Ken (Guy Pearce), a hapless recovering drug addict with a certain ragged charm. In an act of mean-spirited rebellion, Sabitha uses technology to foster a pseudo-relationship between Johanna and her father, never dreaming of the potential harm to either party. Sabitha doesn't understand that Johanna is not a demure cut-out, but rather a woman for whom the phrase "still waters run deep" could have been coined. The young girl's interference provokes Johanna to indulge in something long missing from her life: the dream of a future and a home of her own.

For more info: "Hateship Loveship" website

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