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Geared towards comic book and genre fans, Agent DVD Insider scoops DVD and Blu-Ray release announcements and news, along with commentary from industry experts and fellow comic fans.


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30 Mar, 2010

Making a Squeak at Retail

Target's <i>Sherlock Holmes</i> with comic
Target's <i>Sherlock Holmes</i> with comic

March 30 saw the release of two $200-million hits to disc, with Sherlock Holmes and Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel generating considerable retail interest. But both titles were rather light in the exclusive content department.

Those who bought the Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel Blu-ray at Best Buy could get Alvin and Brittany beanie babies for $2.99 each. On their own, the dolls were $6.99 apiece.

At Target, fans could get an exclusive deluxe edition of Sherlock Holmes that had a limited-edition cover and a collectible comic book, a re-creation of the comic used to pitch the movie to the studio.

A lot of the promotions for the week were centered on the Disney’s new “Un-Anniversary Edition” of the animated Alice in Wonderland, a title the studio’s home entertainment department kept under the radar in terms of press promotions.

Barnes & Noble, which remains among the most overpriced retailers despite a nominal percentage discount on new titles, was nonetheless one of the few stores to display details for a sweepstakes for Alice in Wonderland for the ultimate play home. Details are available at DisneyMovieRewards.com/Alice.

Best Buy offered a savings of $6 with the purchase of two select Disney hits on DVD, or $15 off two on Blu-ray. And Target had a display of such recent DVDs as The Princess and the Frog and Ponyo listed at $13.99 and tagged as “Fresh-Picked DVD Hits for Kids.”

Target also extended through May 1 its offer of a $5 gift card with purchase of The Twilight Saga: New Moon with Twilight in Forks, Astro Boy or Bandslam.

A Wal-Mart in Long Beach, Calif., had an interesting display piece. A display shelf of new releases carried a large sign touting the titles as $24.96, yet none of the DVDs on the shelves were more than $20. (The “Toy Story” Blu-rays were $24.96, but the spaces for them were empty).



23 Mar, 2010

Goats, Toys and Wolf Boys

<i>New Moon</i> Exclusives
<i>New Moon</i> Exclusives

A busy March got a bit busier March 23, with several hit films arriving on disc. This comes in the wake of a busy slate the week before, and of course the March 20 event known as the release of The Twilight Saga: New Moon.

New Moon exclusives were plentiful. Best Buy had steelbook packaging. Target had a bonus disc with deleted scenes and more featurettes. Wal-Mart offered a bonus disc with a preview of The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, and more featurettes. Borders had special packaging with a collectible medallion, and Barnes & Noble offered a dreamcatcher bag clip.

Stores also offered savings on purchasing New Moon with other Summit titles — Twilight in Forks, Astro Boy and Bandslam. Target gave a $5 gift card with purchase of New Moon with one of the other three, while Best Buy offered a $5 savings with the additional purchase of one, $10 off two, and $16 off New Moon with purchase of all three.

As far as goodies for other titles, Best Buy had a goat bobblehead with The Men Who Stare at Goats. And both Best Buy and Target gave $10 in savings with the purchase of both “Toy Story” Blu-rays. Target also had an exclusive “Toy Story” DVD-ROM game.

Target also has the exclusive distribution of the Law & Order UK: Season One DVD set, which it is selling at $26.99. This is the British version of the long-running American legal drama and stars Jamie Bamber of "Battlestar Galactica."


17 Mar, 2010

A Guide to 'New Moon' Exclusives


The Twilight Saga: New Moon hits stores March 20 at midnight, and some retailers are staying open late Friday night so dedicated fans can be among the first to get a copy. Here's a handy guide detailing where to go for retailer exclusives and the best price.

Title: The Twilight Saga: New Moon
Street Date:
March 20, 2010
Distributor: Summit Entertainment
List Price: $32.99 DVD, $34.99 Blu-ray
Extras: The regular edition includes commentary, a behind-the-scenes documentary and four music videos

Also due March 20 is the companion DVD Twilight in Forks: The Saga of the Real Town, which lists at $19.99.

The guide is based on online promotions and the weekly ad circulars of some retailers. Prices may vary.


Amazon.com

Regular Edition: $16.99 DVD, $19.99 Blu-ray
Twilight in Forks: $9.99
 

 


Best Buy

BestBuy.com

Regular Edition: $19.99 DVD, $24.99 Blu-ray; Doorbuster price (midnight sales): $16.99 DVD, $21.99 BD
Steelbook edition w/cell phone skins: $24.99 DVD, $29.99 BD; Doorbuster price: $19.99 DVD, $24.99 BD
Twilight in Forks: $14.99


Target

Target.com

Regular Edition: $16.99 DVD, $19.99 Blu-ray;
Target-exclusive Deluxe Edition (extra featurettes, deleted scenes): $19.99 DVD, $24.99 BD;
Twilight in Forks: $9.99;
$5 gift card when New Moon DVD or BD is purchased with Twilight in Forks, Astro Boy or Bandslam


Wal-Mart

Walmart.com
(prices reflect online listing)

Regular Edition: $17 DVD, $19.96 Blu-ray;
Ultimate Fan Edition (Eclipse preview): $24.96 DVD, $29.96 BD;
Twilight in Forks: $12.86
Gift pack of regular New Moon DVD w/Twilight in Forks: $29.96


Barnes & Noble

BN.com
(prices reflect online listing)

Regular Edition: $23.09 DVD, $27.99 Blu-ray
Barnes & Noble version with collectible dreamcatcher bag clip: $27.19 DVD, $39.99 BD
Twilight in Forks: $15.99


Borders

Borders.com
(prices reflect online listing)

Regular Edition: $22.99 DVD, $24.99 Blu-ray
Borders exclusive with medallion: $29.99 DVD
Twilight in Forks: $16.99


Toys R Us

ToysRUs.com
(prices reflect online listing)

Regular Edition: $24.99 DVD, $29.99 Blu-ray


F.Y.E.
(Trans World, Suncoast)

fye.com

Regular Edition: $22.99 DVD, $27.99 Blu-ray
Twilight in Forks: $12.99


Fry's Electronics

frys.com

Regular Edition: $24.99 DVD, $29.99 Blu-ray
Twilight in Forks: $14.99


DVDEmpire.com

Regular Edition: $26.06 DVD, $27.99 Blu-ray


Hastings

GoHastings.com

Regular Edition: $24.99 DVD, $29.99 Blu-ray
Twilight in Forks: $11.99


16 Mar, 2010

‘Frog’ Gets Push as Retailers Await ‘New Moon’

<i>The Princess and the Frog</i> with Best Buy's guide book
<i>The Princess and the Frog</i> with Best Buy's guide book

Among the several decent titles released March 16, most retailers focused their attention on the latest Disney animated flick, The Princess and the Frog. Casting a shadow over the day, however, was the impending release of The Twilight Saga: New Moon, due at midnight on March 20, with several retailers showing off promotional displays days in advance.

The major Frog exclusives could be found at Best Buy and Target, and both stores linked their promotion to the purchase of either the single-disc or combo-pack Blu-ray version of the film.

Best Buy offered an Essential Guide book with purchase of The Princess and the Frog, while Target offered a coin purse embroidered with the film’s logo. Target also sold a Princess Tiana doll for $24.99.

Barnes & Noble gave customers $6 savings with the purchase of any version of the film and its CD soundtrack (offered at $16.99).

Timed to the Frog release, Best Buy also offered at $9.99 such Disney favorites as Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, Bedknobs & Broomsticks, Pete’s Dragon, Tarzan and Hercules, all packed with a coloring book and sticker sheets.

Otherwise, retailers were already heavily promoting their New Moon deals. Best Buy even offered discounts on the DVD and Blu-ray for those customers who showed up for special midnight sales Friday night. (See our retail guide to New Moon here).

A Target in Santa Ana, Calif., devoted half a wall in its DVD department to displaying “Twilight” merchandise, from books to toys to puzzles and discs of the first movie.

Target also had a promotion offering a $5 gift card with the purchase of any version of New Moon with any version of Astro Boy, Bandslam or Twilight in Forks, all from Summit Entertainment. Curiously, the shelf card touting the deal indicated it was valid from March 16-20, even though New Moon wouldn’t be available until the last day.

Target's "Twilight" Section

 


11 Mar, 2010

‘Drawn Together’ Movie Heading to Comic-Con


Not that Comic-Con.

Paramount Home Entertainment and Comedy Central will screen The Drawn Together Movie: The Movie! during the Anaheim Comic-Con Saturday, April 17, at 7 p.m. The movie hits DVD a few days later, on April 20.

The screening will be followed by a panel with creators Matt Silverstein and Dave Jeser.

Anaheim Comic-Con runs from April 16-18 and is organized by Wizard Entertainment as part of its Wizard World series of conventions held throughout the year across the country.

With the big show, San Diego Comic-Con International, quickly outgrowing its current venue, the San Diego Convention Center, speculation has run rampant over where the show will be held after its contract ends in 2012. Several cities have thrown their hat into the ring, such as Las Vegas. San Diego could expand its convention center and maintain its hosting duties. Anaheim with its convention center has made a play as well, and attracting top talent with fanboy-type programs such as movie screenings are a positive step in showing it can handle higher-profile events.

The Drawn Together Movie is a continuation of the raunchy animated series that lasted three seasons from 2004-07, and featured parodies of cartoon stereotypes in a reality-show setting.

Extras on the DVD include commentary, deleted scenes, “Drawn Together” minisodes and the featurettes “Drawn Together: True Confessionals,” “Drawn Together: The Legacy,” “Anatomy of an Animated Sex Scene,” “Re-Animating Drawn Together: From the Small Screen to the Slightly Bigger Screen” and “D.I.Y. 3D Glasses.”

Additionally, the movie will be available April 20 in HD and standard-def on download-to-own platforms such as iTunes, Xbox Live Marketplace, Zune, Sony PlayStation Store and Amazon Video on Demand.
 


10 Mar, 2010

Trailer Wars: 'Iron Man 2' vs. 'Tron Legacy'

This past week, fanboys were treated to not one, but two new trailers for some highly anticipated blockbusters due in cinemas this year.

First up, after the Oscars, came the Iron Man 2 trailer:

 

It looks awesome and oh-so-cool, especially seeing Tony Stark deploying the new Mark V suitcase armor. The movie hits theaters May 7.

Also out this week is the new Tron Legacy trailer:

 

Looks like a slick CGI re-imagining of the computer world created in the original Tron from 1982. I don't know if it can be as groundbreaking as the first one but it still looks like a fun ride with a hefty heap of nostalgia. Tron Legacy hits theaters Dec. 17.


9 Mar, 2010

Busy Post-Oscar Week at Stores

Wal-Mart's <i>Planet 51</i> with lunch bag
Wal-Mart's <i>Planet 51</i> with lunch bag

With awards season behind us, the bulk of the contenders not yet on disc are finally making their way into stores. March 9 saw the release of two six-time Oscar nominees: Precious (which won two Oscars) and Up in the Air (which was shut out).

Barnes & Noble was among the few retailers setting up an Oscar display, even using its Web site, BN.com, to list the winners, and offer a link to buy those that were on disc.

Most retailers weren’t keen on offering exclusives with the bigger new releases. Of the theatricals new to disc, only Planet 51 generated any action, with Wal-Mart offering the DVD packed with a lunch bag emblazoned with the movie’s logo.

As far as exclusives go, retailers took more interest in Universal’s new Barbie in A Mermaid Tale DVD. Wal-Mart offered the direct-to-video movie with a charm necklace, while Target offered a Barbie beach doll with purchase of the DVD. Target also took the opportunity to promote a $14.99 Barbie mermaid doll.

Wal-Mart also offered Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s new Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day DVD in a steelbook case with an exclusive bonus disc.

Among other interesting displays, Best Buy offered previous “South Park” seasons on DVD at $18.99 apiece, in advance of the March 16 release of the 13th season on disc.

A Barnes & Noble in Costa Mesa, Calif., had a display cross-promoting DC Comics movies and comic books.


5 Mar, 2010

‘Up in the Air’ Should Win Best Picture


The greatest works of literature tend to have an indelible quality rooted in their ability to present a multifaceted story that both entertains and enlightens. Such classics are bound to mean different things to different people, who interpret them as they see fit.

Which brings me to Up in the Air, my favorite movie of 2009. (It takes this position over Inglourious Basterds and The Hangover, two films that had been perched near the top spot for a while.) Jason Reitman’s third directorial outing is easily his best. And when your first two films are as good as Thank You for Smoking and Juno, topping them is no easy feat.

The setup is simple enough. Professional journeyman Ryan Bingham (George Clooney in a classic leading-man performance) is the corporate hatchet man whose company hires him out to downsizing businesses that lack the temerity to fire their own employees. He relishes his time on the road, but his free ride is threatened by up-and-comer Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick), who proposes using Internet chat services to fire client employees from afar, thus creating huge savings on the travel budget.

As a mosaic of the travel industry, the only other film I would think comes close to capturing the isolation of living in a state of perpetual motion is Fight Club, which of course only touches on those themes before veering in a radically different direction. (One of Up in the Air's deleted scenes echoes Fight Club's theory of the single-serving friend, met on a flight and then forgotten, so I'm glad it didn't make the final cut, lest it invite the inevitable comparisons to the earlier effort.)

Since Ryan is not grounded, he has nothing to hold on to. His only goal seems to be accumulating enough miles on his travel account to earn a mythical elite status, but can such a journey sustain him without anyone to share in it?

To show Natalie the ropes of their industry, she is paired with Ryan for one last road trip. Along the way, Ryan encounters Alex (Vera Farmiga), another wayward traveler who appears to be a female version of himself.

The arrangement gives Ryan a chance to learn how to care for others, and Natalie a chance to learn about life. After all, life is better with someone to share the experience, right?

Ryan seems more comfortable in the artificial hospitality created by the travel industry to put its customers at ease, which probably forms the core of his personality, letting him remain charming and persuasive as he’s tearing people from their livelihood without a second thought.

In one discussion I had about this film, I suggested that Ryan was a metaphor for the Grim Reaper, given a chance at life only to be forced to understand his own tragic role in the cosmic ballet. The comparison was met with some skepticism, but consider this pitch Ryan makes when describing the essence of his job to Natalie:

“We are here to make limbo tolerable. To ferry wounded souls across the river of dread and to a point where hope is dimly visible. And then we stop the boat, shove them in the water and make them swim.”

Up in the Air is as much about the idea of its characters as it is a story of their lives. The film lets viewers project their own traits onto whichever parts of the film with which they most identify, raising questions but never providing the hard answers. Like great literature, Up in the Air has so many layers you can watch it multiple times and achieve a different experience with each viewing that is just as fulfilling as the last.

Is it a movie about people on the road? Is it a tragedy about a lost soul or a positive message about embracing who you are? Is it about Ryan and his slow emergence from a self-imposed banishment from the real world? Do you follow Natalie as she comes to the realization that life is more than theories and routines? Is it a treatise on the nature of feminism in the career cycle? Is it a buddy movie in which Ryan and Natalie can learn from each other about the holes in their lives? Is it an examination of the role our careers and families play in defining us? Is it an expression of the importance loved ones play in filling the voids of life's shortcomings? Is it the story of harsh economic realities and the people who nonetheless can take advantage of the system? Is it about a quest that is ultimately meaningless? Is it a warning about the dangers of fantasy escapism? Or do you see it as a parable about a world that has ironically grown more isolated despite the technological innovations that should keep us more connected?

Up in the Air is all these things and more, tightly wrapped in a tidy package at under two hours. So many moving parts, yet under Reitman’s skilled guidance they all manage to come together perfectly. At a time when far too many films try to be about a state of being and forget to tell a story, it’s refreshing to see a movie such as Up in the Air that reminds us it’s possible to do both. While individual scenes may lack the bravura of sequences from Inglourious Basterds or The Hurt Locker, the totality of purpose that Reitman has carved from Walter Kirn's original novel delivers more than enough substance to compensate.

Even the extras on the DVD and Blu-ray add something to the equation. The deleted scenes are so good they play like short films based on the movie, adding character depth and additional meaning. (To see all the deleted scenes you have to get the Blu-ray version. The DVD has only about half of them.)

Up in the Air hits DVD and Blu-ray Disc March 9 from Paramount Home Entertainment. Be sure to check it out.

 


4 Mar, 2010

HBO Brings the Blu With a Side of ‘Seinfeld’


HBO Home Entertainment is bringing three of the cabler’s comedies to home video in June.

Due June 8 (order date May 4) is a two-DVD set for Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Seventh Season ($39.98). This is the season in which Larry David orchestrates a reunion of the “Seinfeld” cast to make a special episode 10 years after the show ended. The season-long arc is a great nod to the fourth wall and a clever way around the usual criticisms and pitfalls of a sitcom reunion show. We get all the fun of a “Seinfeld” reunion without any of the overhyped expectations. And it all leads to perhaps the most surreal moment in “Seinfeld” lore, in which David (playing the show’s fictionalized version of himself) actually tries to play George, the character that was based on him and played by Jason Alexander.

June 22 (order date May 18) comes Hung: The Complete First Season and Entourage: The Complete Sixth Season on both DVD ($39.98 each) and Blu-ray Disc ($49.99 each).

The two-disc “Hung” sets include commentary and a featurette. The show stars Thomas Jane as a well-endowed high-school teacher who moonlights as a gigolo.

The three-disc “Entourage” sets include commentary and behind-the-scenes footage. The Blu-ray release represents a first for the series.
 


3 Mar, 2010

Top 5 Best-Picture Oscar Snubs


While an Oscar can be a valuable marketing tool for a winning film, sometimes movie fans are left scratching their heads over which films the Academy chooses to honor as best picture. Here are some examples of the Academy losing sight of its sensibilities.

1.    Citizen Kane

Warner
1941. Rumor has it media mogul William Randolph Hearst cost Kane best picture in favor of How Green Was My Valley. It is now widely considered the greatest film ever made

2.    Network

Warner
1976. This satirical look at media corruption gone wild took best actor, best actress, best supporting actress and best screenplay, but somehow lost to Rocky for best picture and best director.

3.    Apollo 13

Universal
1995. The Academy recognized Ron Howard’s achievement in winning the Directors Guild Award by not even nominating him for best director. Adding insult to injury, the film not only lost best picture to Braveheart, but best visual effects to the talking pig movie Babe!

4.    Star Wars

Fox
1977. George Lucas’ space opera fundamentally changed the film industry, but Woody Allen’s Annie Hall was more in league with the tastes of Academy voters. The debate rages on.

5.    The Dark Knight

Warner
2008. After earning accolades from critics and audiences alike, the Academy didn’t even bother to nominate it for best picture. The ensuing backlash prompted the academy to expand the nominee field to 10.
 

Other Great Films That Didn't Win Best Picture:

Apocalypse Now (Paramount) 1979
Boogie Nights (Warner) 1997
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (Fox) 1969
Fargo (MGM) 1996
Goodfellas (Warner) 1990
The Insider (Disney) 1999
L.A. Confidential (Warner) 1997
Pulp Fiction (Miramax) 1994
Raiders of the Lost Ark
(Paramount) 1981
The Right Stuff (Warner) 1983
Saving Private Ryan (DreamWorks) 1998
Traffic (Universal) 2000