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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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18 Dec, 2009

Shout! Factory Offers TV DVD Sets Exclusively Online


Our friends at Shout! Factory are at it again. Well known for an ability to put to market TV DVD product that other studios don’t seem willing or able to release, Shout! Factory is now preparing to offer a line of products directly to the consumer through ShoutFactoryStore.com.

Starting Jan. 19, TV DVD collectors will be able to order new seasons of their favorite shows, such as Mr. Belvedere: Season Four (three-DVD set) with commentaries by creator and cast; Room 222: Season Two (four-DVD set); My Two Dads: Season Two (three-DVD set); and Ironside: Season Three (seven-DVD set).

After that, new titles will roll out monthly, such as The Bill Cosby Show: Season Two (four-DVD set), The Goldbergs: The Complete Series (six-DVD set) and The Adventures of Sonic The Hedgehog Vol. Three (four-DVD set).

I actually had a chance to speak with Shout! Factory president Garson Foos a few months back about this release strategy, which he teased as his answer to the manufacturing-on-demand system offered by Amazon.com and Warner. He said the idea was to order limited runs of the DVD sets, which would be pressed copies, not DVD-Rs that are more prone to wear out over time.

Offering them directly to the consumer gives fans a chance to complete their collection, and ordering limited supplies cuts down on the distributor’s liability if they don’t sell as well as hoped.

Since selling direct to the consumer worked so well for Shout! Factory with its boxed sets of “Transformers” and “G.I. Joe” cartoons, this strategy just seems to make sense. And if demand turns out to be strong enough, there’s nothing stopping a wider retail release down the line.

 


17 Dec, 2009

Best Buy Joins the Dark Side


Best Buy will have a nifty exclusive collector’s set of Family Guy: Something, Something, Something, Dark Side, which hits stores Dec. 22 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

The special family guy episode is an hour-long parody of the plot of The Empire Strikes Back. The Best Buy set will include the Blu-ray packed in a retro lunchbox styled after the Empire lunchbox from 1980, but with the “Family Guy” characters. There’s also a T-shirt featuring Ernie the Giant Chicken as Boba Fett (I assure you, “Family Guy” fans will not only understand that sentence, but will find it rather hilarious).

Best Buy is currently pre-selling the set on its Web site for $29.99.


15 Dec, 2009

These ‘Basterds’ Have a ‘Hangover’

Best Buy's <i>Hangover</i> Blu-ray with T-Shirt
Best Buy's <i>Hangover</i> Blu-ray with T-Shirt

Studios are loading up the weeks before Christmas with a slew of hot new releases. For Dec. 15, the line-up includes three blockbuster films: Warner Home Video’s The Hangover, Universal’s Inglourious Basterds and Disney’s G-Force.

As far as exclusives go, retailers tended to favor The Hangover and Basterds.

Target packed a copy of the Las Vegas Zagat restaurant guide to its copies of the two-DVD special edition of The Hangover and included a CD soundtrack with the Blu-ray and special-edition DVD of Inglourious Basterds.

Best Buy offered an exclusive behind-the-scenes interview with director Quentin Tarantino with its special-edition DVD and Blu-ray of Basterds.

For The Hangover, Best Buy is offering a free Blu-ray copy of the film with purchase of an eligible Blu-ray Player (check out the list at BestBuy.com/BlurayOffer). Best Buy also has a free T-shirt packed onto select copies of the Blu-ray in-store (available at $10 more than the regular BD version), and was selling the CD soundtrack of the film for just $5.99.

Best Buy also offered a savings of $6 off the purchase of any version of G-Force and the DVD for Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie (on sale for $15.99).

Michael Jackson fans who preorder This Is It (out Jan. 26 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) at Best Buy can get an exclusive steelbook case for the film. Best Buy also was selling the Blu-ray of Boogie Nights, which it has exclusively, for $24.99.


 


8 Dec, 2009

‘Potter’ Leads the Way With Retailer Exclusives

Best Buy and Target "Harry Potter" Exclusives
Best Buy and Target "Harry Potter" Exclusives

Dec. 8 saw several major releases come to DVD and Blu-ray, with retailers offering exclusives with no less than four of them.

The most visible of the new titles was easily Warner’s Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the sixth film in the franchise, and its release spearheaded a slew of new “Potter” merchandise.

Best Buy offered the Blu-ray of the new film in special Death Eater mask packaging at $33.99 (the regular Blu-ray is offered at $17.99). This follows the previous week’s Best Buy exclusive release of Terminator: Salvation in packaging resembling a Terminator endoskull, so these special mask packages are nothing new for Warner titles. It is worth noting, however, that last year’s big “mask” title, The Dark Knight, was a Target exclusive.

This year, Target offered special lenticular packaging with its version of the two-DVD special edition of Half-Blood Prince, at $26.99. Target also offered exclusive extended cuts of the first two “Potter” films on DVD at $15 each. These are basically slimmed down versions of the Ultimate Collector’s Edition sets, without the various collectibles in the widespread releases.

Target also offered earlier “Harry Potter” DVDs at $7.50 each.

Wal-Mart had DVDs packed with "The Marauder's Map" (from the "Noble Collection") for $24.96. Those looking for the Blu-ray of the movie could get it at some Wal-Marts for $15. As usual, different Wal-Marts tend to have different prices on the same title, and some offered the exclusive map while others didn't. A Wal-Mart in Long Beach, Calif., offered an extensive "Harry Potter" display that included not just DVDs, but books, T-shirts, toys and games.

Best Buy touted $20 savings off any Half-Blood Prince video game.

Sony Pictures’ Julie & Julia proved popular for exclusive treatment. Target offered a two-DVD deluxe edition with the 90-minute documentary “Julia Child’s Kitchen Wisdom,” at $22.99. Best Buy offered the DVD with the book upon which the movie is based. And Wal-Mart paired the DVD with a copy of another Meryl Streep starrer, Postcards From the Edge.

Barnes & Noble offered $6 off Julie & Julia with the purchase of the latest issue of Food & Wine Magazine. Since the magazine carries a cover price of about $4.50, the discount is pretty much a wash, especially since BN’s in-store price for the DVD is $26.09, which equals the list price minus a 10% new-release discount (Of course, BN members can get an extra 10% off, but it hardly seems worth it).

For Universal’s gangster flick Public Enemies, Target offered exclusive production notes with the two-DVD and Blu-ray versions. Best Buy did them one better, offering exclusive behind-the-scenes footage and background of John Dillinger, also with the Blu-ray and two-DVD sets. Best Buy had other Universal gangster films, such as Scarface, Casino and American Gangster, for $6.99 each.

Finally, Disney’s Lost: The Complete Fifth Season at Best Buy came in exclusive packaging with a Dharma luggage tag and a bonus disc containing additional scenes and content, including “Lost on Location: This Place Is Death” — an inside look at a landmark episode and the return of the smoke monster.

On the non-exclusive front, hardcore “Lost” fans can pick up a special Dharma Initiative Orientation Kit version of the fifth season, containing an orientation film on VHS, brochures of the Dharma camp, patches and a music CD. The set was going for $75 and more at the few retailers that actually stocked it, so online is probably the best bet for those fans who really want it. The set comes with four Dharma uniform logo patches, but a lucky few boxes contain a special fifth patch.

Best Buy also offered an array of Disney Blu-ray titles, such as Pinocchio, A Bug’s Life, Cars, Wall-E, Monsters, Inc. and the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies in exclusive steelbook packaging at $29.99 each.


7 Dec, 2009

'Ponyo,' 'Saw VI,' 'Whip It,' 'Fame' Heading to Disc

Saw 6
Saw 6

Lionsgate Jan. 26 (order date Dec. 30) releases both the theatrical and unrated cuts of Saw VI.

Both unrated and ‘R’-rated configurations will be available on DVD ($29.95) and include a “Jigsaw Revealed” featurette, “The Traps of Saw VI” featurette, “A Killer Maze: Making Saw Game Over” featurette, music videos and the original theatrical trailer. The unrated DVDs also include two audio commentaries.

For some reason the theatrical version is presented in full screen mode (4:3 ratio), so it won’t fill a HDTV screen. It seems the studio is more keen on the unrated version, as that is the only version on the Blu-ray ($39.99), which also includes all the extras from the unrated DVD, as well as BD Live-enabled extras.

All three versions of Saw VI will contain the original Saw, so viewers can “see where it all began.”

A Saw VI digital download also will be available at $19.99.

Disney will release Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo on DVD ($29.99) and Blu-ray ($39.99) March 2 (order date Jan. 19). Extras include the interactive “The World of Ghibli,” which lets users explore the worlds from different Miyazaki films; and “Behind the Studio,” which details the making of the film.

Fox Jan. 26 (order date Dec. 30) presents Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut, Whip It, on DVD ($29.98) and Blu-ray ($39.99). The film stars Ellen Page (Juno) as a teenager who follows the allure of Roller Derby. Extras on both the DVD and Blu-ray include an alternate opening plus deleted and extended scenes. The Blu-ray also includes “Writers Draft With Shauna Cross” and a digital copy.

MGM, through distributor 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, releases the remake of Fame Jan. 12 (order date Dec. 16). Both DVD ($29.98) and Blu-ray ($39.99) editions include both the theatrical and an extended cut of the film, deleted scenes, a music video, character profiles, the Fame National Talent Search finalist, and “The Dances of Fame.” The Blu-ray also includes a digital copy.
 


1 Dec, 2009

A Few ‘Terminator’ Surprises

(L-R): Target's and Best Buy's 'Terminator' exclusives
(L-R): Target's and Best Buy's 'Terminator' exclusives

With stores transitioning into full holiday shopping mode following Black Friday, Dec. 1 saw a sparse new-release slate topped by two major films, both sequels — Terminator: Salvation and Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.

With 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment offering Museum in a special Monkey Mischief DVD configuration in addition to the regular DVD and Blu-ray releases, most retailers looked to the fourth “Terminator” film as fodder for exclusives.

Target had the most notable exclusive, offering a two-DVD special edition set at $22.99, which includes the director’s cut, a few featurettes and a digital copy. Otherwise, the only way to get the director’s cut is on the wide-release Blu-ray version, which also includes the theatrical cut and several extras. The regular Terminator: Salvation DVD has the theatrical cut and no extras.

Best Buy offered a $34.99 version of the Blu-ray that comes in an exclusive Terminator endoskull case. The No. 1 consumer electronics retailer also had the Terminator: Salvation — The Machinima Series spinoff at $4.99, or free with purchase of the Terminator: Salvation video game ($19.99).

Wal-Mart didn’t have any exclusive editions, but a check of several Southern California stores revealed some pricing anomalies. A Wal-Mart in Huntington Beach had the Terminator: Salvation DVD for $14.96 and the Blu-ray for $19.96, while a store in Long Beach had the DVD for $19.96 and the Blu-ray version for $15.96.



23 Nov, 2009

How to Reboot a Franchise


Star Wars made Hollywood history when it was released in 1977, and its influence hasn’t exactly let up since then. George Lucas’ space epic has become the textbook model for how to make and market a franchise.

It’s not hard to imagine those tasked with re-launching “Star Trek” would turn to “Star Wars” for inspiration. In fact, director J.J. Abrams' Star Trek, recently released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc, is practically a blow-by-blow remake of Star Wars.

Consider — you have the eager but directionless farmboy who yearns for adventure but is haunted by memories of his father. When he finally makes it into space, he has to take out an evil machine that can destroy planets. There’s even a scene with an old mentor who saves the young hero (on an ice planet, no less), gives him instructions on how to meet his destiny, and then announces they must go their separate ways.

Granted, Star Wars is dealing with motifs and themes that are common to mythological archetypes dating back hundreds of years. It wasn’t until I saw the extras on the Blu-ray when I realized just how blatant Abrams and his team were being. In the making-of featurette, there’s actually a chapter called “What Can We Learn From Star Wars?” Part of the strategy included bringing in longtime "Star Wars" sound designer Ben Burtt to do sound effects for Star Trek (Spock's future ship looks and sounds like it came right out of the "Star Wars" prequels).

And in the commentary, writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman describe in detail how they wanted to copy the structure of Star Wars: Episode IV.

The results are obvious. Not only is this Trek much faster in pace than its methodical predecessors, but it also has earned the most money of any film in the franchise.

But if you really want to know how much the filmmakers had Star Wars on the mind when making the new Star Trek, then check out this Easter Egg at the 47:39 mark of the film. Pause it just when it cuts to the viewscreen and keep an eye on the space just above Sulu’s head as you advance the image frame-by-frame.



Yep, that’s R2-D2 floating through the debris. Those guys at Lucas’ Industrial Light and Magic are such kidders.

It isn’t the first time Star Wars' and Star Trek’s destinies have intertwined. The success of Star Wars in 1977 motivated Paramount to abandon its attempts to revive the series and instead make an effects-heavy feature film (though Star Trek: The Motion Picture, with its endless sweeping shots of various starships, seems more tonally similar to 2001: A Space Odyssey).

In the mid-1990s, “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” introduced a war storyline that seemed to borrow elements from the “Star Wars” model (including a religious element similar to The Force), albeit played out over a much longer narrative.

Lucas, for his part, seemed to take a jab at “Star Trek” in 1999’s The Phantom Menace, referring to the bad guys in the film as a Federation (the line “We may have to accept Federation control for a while” seems like a reference to the proliferation of “Trek” shows after Return of the Jedi).

“Stargate” and “Battlestar Galactica” be damned, the realm of sci-fi is certain to be dominated by these two great franchises for ages to come.
 


19 Nov, 2009

‘Fight Club’ BD Pranks Fans


Those watching the new Fight Club 10th anniversary Blu-ray edition might be surprised to find the disc loads the menu screen for Never Been Kissed.

It’s all part of a gag by director David Fincher, who thought it would be funny to fool fans with a fake menu of a romantic comedy released the same year as Fight Club, 1999. Never Been Kissed was his top choice, but the menu only was included with the blessing of Drew Barrymore, who starred in the film.



After a few seconds, the Never Been Kissed menu gives way to the actual menu for Fight Club, which seeks a target demographic that is a bit more macho than for Barrymore’s film.

Both films were distributed by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

I laughed out loud when I first saw the gag, but I don't think it goes far enough. It would have been funnier if the Never Been Kissed menu stayed the menu for Fight Club, at least until you selected an option to get the real menu. Imagine the look on the faces of those saps who went to the bathroom while the disc loaded, only to return to the horror of a sweet rom-com menu, and thinking they have the wrong disc!

I guess you can only be so cruel.


17 Nov, 2009

Beaming Up ‘Star Trek’ Exclusives

Star Trek
Star Trek

“Star Trek” fans have plenty of options when it comes to picking up the new movie on disc.

For those out there willing to look past the film’s complete disrespect for previous “Star Trek” history (and judging by the Internet response, that’s most of you), several retailers are offering up exclusive versions of the movie containing collectibles you won’t want to miss.

Best Buy, which is selling the DVD at $14.99, the two-DVD deluxe edition at $22.99 and the three-disc Blu-ray at $23.99, has a Blu-ray gift set for $39.99 that also includes a set of four insignia badges.

Fans of steelbook casing (which I am not) can head over to Transworld-owned f.y.e. and Suncoast stores and pick up the deluxe DVD edition in metal packaging for $34.91.

Target offers a neat little package that has a plastic replica of the U.S.S. Enterprise that contains the discs in the saucer section. Both the two-DVD ($26.99) and Blu-ray ($29.99) configurations are available, in addition to the regular packaging assortments (DVD $15.99; two-DVD set $22.99; Blu-ray $24.99).

Amazon.com offers its own Enterprise replica, but theirs will run up the bill a bit. The online retailer has an exclusive Blu-ray boxed set containing a hand-cast pewter replica of the ship, limited to a run of 5,000 copies, which is listed at $130 but selling for $99.99.
 


13 Nov, 2009

Fans Speak Out, Warner Listens

Scarecrow and Mrs. King
Scarecrow and Mrs. King

Back in September, we ran a list of the top 10 TV shows not yet on DVD. The list came courtesy of our friends at TVShowsOnDVD.com.

No. 6 on that list was the 1980s spy romance “Scarecrow and Mrs. King,” starring Bruce Boxleitner (Tron, “Babylon 5”) and Kate Jackson (“Charlie’s Angels”). One reason given for its lack of a DVD release: a perception by the studio that consumers weren’t interested.

Well, I can attest to the fan interest. After running that item, I personally was inundated with calls and e-mails asking for my help in getting the show on DVD.

Apparently someone at the studio listened. I'm happy to report that Warner Home Video will release Scarecrow and Mrs. King: The Complete First Season March 9 (prebook Feb. 2) as a five-DVD set for $39.98.

If only the 1960s “Batman” series were that easy to get on DVD.