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.
Pop culture has inspired its fair share of traditions over the years, with one of the most enduring stalwarts being the drinking game. You know how it works … gathering around the TV with your friends and a favorite cocktail, and imbibe that beverage when the program reaches a particular occurrence, such as the utterance of a well-worn phrase.
For example, if you’re watching “The Big Bang Theory,” you could take a sip every time Sheldon says “Bazinga,” or a shot every time Raj talks to a girl.
It can literally be anything agreed upon by the group. If it can be put on a screen, then someone can figure out a drinking game for it.
If it helps, come up with a few standing rules that could apply to anything you watch. My brother and I years ago came up with a standing rule to drink every time a performer who has died in real life appears on the screen (call it a show of respect, if you will).
We dubbed it the "Benoit Rule," after pro wrestling superstar Chris Benoit. Shortly after Benoit tragically killed himself and his family in 2007, World Wrestling Entertainment reportedly started editing him out of the archive footage they used on TV and released on DVD, with the notable exception of the 2004 Royale Rumble, which he won. (For those who don’t know, the Royale Rumble is one of the WWE’s biggest matches of a given year, so it would have been difficult to leave off the whole match from the anthology DVD sets released in 2008.)
Like many a young American, my brother and I had been fans of pro wrestling in our youth (I was fascinated by the storytelling aspects of it), and though our interest waned in adulthood, the DVDs released en masse over the past few years were always good for nostalgia. So the original idea behind the Benoit rule was that, if he was going to be cut out of the shows, then when he did appear we would take a drink. And then we noticed other wrestlers on the DVDs had since passed away (Mr. Perfect being a notable example), so we expanded the rule to include the appearance of any wrestler who was now dead. And so on and so forth, until we just started doing it for any movie or TV show we were watching.
That’s just one example of a rule people could come up with if they want to play a drinking game while watching something. And for those who don’t want to think too hard about it, there are plenty of variations to be found online.
In fact, Ulysses Press just put out a book called Lights Camera Booze: Drinking Games for You Favorite Movies, which should be a good starting point for anyone looking to liven up their movie nights at home. The book offers rules for 33 movies, plus a cocktail recipe tailored for each film, as well as trivia and other activities.
Some of the movies include Back to the Future, American Pie, Ghostbusters, The Hangover, The Goonies and Pulp Fiction. The rules themselves are listed with stylized text and sketches that can be a little distracting, but they should do the trick.
Or, make up your own. You never know what new details you might uncover about your favorite movies or TV shows when the conditions are right.
Target's 'Little Mermaid' Edition
Target and Best Buy seemed determine to one-up each other in offering exclusives for four new titles that arrived Oct. 1.
The biggest of the new titles would seem to be the new Blu-ray edition of Disney's The Little Mermaid. Target offered a special version of the Blu-ray/DVD edition with a 32-page storybook for $24.99. Target also offered $6 off with purchase of the disc with a Sparkling Priness Ariel doll. Best Buy offered $5 off a special Little Mermaid lunchbox (regularly $9.99) when purchased with the Blu-ray.
For Warner's The Wizard of Oz 3D Blu-ray, Target offered the disc with a special lunch bag, while Best Buy offered the clasic with an exclusive collector's case.
Turning to recent theatricals heading to disc, Sony Pictures' This Is the End at Target came with an exclusive bottle opener, while Best Buy presented the Blu-ray with an exclusive bonus disc.
For Fox's The Croods, Target offered the widely available Blu-ray/DVD boxed set that included a plush toy, while only Best Buy had the special plush pack-on with the 3D version.
The past few weeks have seen the top new Blu-ray releases splitting exclusive content among the major retailers. However, the big new title of Sept. 24, Iron Man 3, arrived on shelves without such retailer exclusives.
Among the few special promotions for the title, Best Buy offered discounts off earlier films in the franchise.
On the other hand, Target didn’t bother stocking the 3D version of Iron Man 3 in stores or online.
The most notable retail exclusive was tied to Fox’s Modern Family: The Complete Fourth Season. Target offered a free pillowcase with purchase.
Target's 'World War Z' with booklet
As it did with Star Trek Into Darkness a week earlier, Paramount Home Media Distribution was generous in giving retailers exclusives for the studio’s World War Z Blu-ray.
Target had the 2D and 3D Blu-ray combo packs with exclusive packaging and a 48-page booklet of excerpts from World War Z: The Art of the Film.
Best Buy offered exclusive World War Z packaging and 30 minutes of featurettes via its CinemaNow digital streaming service, as well as a deal to save $10 when the film was purchased with two Coca-Colas and a bag of Combos snacks.
Walmart offered the DVD and Blu-rays with access to a one-hour “Zombie Town Hall” featurette through its Vudu streaming site, with World War Z author Max Brooks and famed zombie-movie director George Romero.
For Warner’s Arrow: Season 1, Best Buy offered video of the show’s Comic-Con panel via CinemaNow. Best Buy also gave a $10 savings when Universal’s Bates Motel: Season 1 and Grimm: Season 2 were purchased together.
On the rental front, Redbox began offering a rental DVD version of Sony Pictures’ “House of Cards,” just in time for the Emmys. The Netflix-produced series is available in its entirety on two double-sided discs.
Walmart's 'Star Trek Into Darkness' Gift Set
In a move bound to annoy Trekkers everywhere, it seems most of the extras produced for Paramount’s new Star Trek Into Darkness home video release were available only as retailer exclusives, aside from the seven featurettes (totaling about 42 minutes) that come on the standard Blu-ray.
Target offered exclusive editions of both the 2D and 3D Blu-ray combo packs, with exclusive packaging and more than 30 minutes of exclusive production featurettes.
Similarly, Best Buy offered exclusive packaging on the regular Blu-ray combo pack, and also touted 30 minutes of exclusive bonus content. The Best Buy extras, however, had to be viewed via Best Buy’s CinemaNow digital streaming service. Best Buy also offered exclusive packaging on the Blu-ray of the original “Star Trek” TV series.
Walmart’s promotion included a gift set of the Star Trek Into Darkness Blu-ray in a steelbook case with a Hot Wheels miniature of the U.S.S. Vengeance. In addition, shoppers could get a two-pack of Star Trek Into Darkness and its 2009 predecessor (at the same price as the standalone Blu-ray of the new film), and the DVD included Vudu digital copies of both films.
Amazon.com offered a deluxe boxed set of the 3D version of Star Trek Into Darkness, packaged with a collectible phaser replica and display stand.
Fans looking for a commentary by director J.J. Abrams and the other filmmakers had to download the film from iTunes, offered in both standard-definition ($14.99 to buy, $3.99 to rent) and HD ($19.99 or $4.99). A free iTunes digital copy, including the commentary, is available with all Blu-ray purchases.
Among the slew of new TV titles on DVD and Blu-ray for the new-release week of Sept. 3, Target attached exclusives to several of them.
The most notable was probably the Blu-ray combo pack for Warner’s Revolution: The Complete First Season, which came with a pendant with glowing power symbol.
Target also offered exclusive content with the fourth season of Warner’s “The Vampire Diaries” (video from this year's San Diego Comic-Con International panel) and season two of Disney’s “Scandal" (an extended version of the episode "Happy Birthday, Mr. President").
In addition, Target has exclusive availability of Shout! Factory’s new “Transformers Prime: Beast Hunters” DVD, Dawn of the Beast, offered at $9.99.
Shoppers at Best Buy could get an exclusive Blu-ray/DVD combo pack of Asylum’s Sharknado for $9.99. In addition, Best Buy offered a $10 instant savings to those who bought Universal’s Parks and Recreation: Season Five on DVD ($27.99) at the same time as The Office: Season Nine on DVD ($32.99) or Blu-ray ($39.99).
Walmart offered as an exclusive Lionsgate’s animated Snowflake the White Gorilla, at $12.96.
Retailers offered a slew of exclusives and promotions tied to the new releases of Aug. 27, with the most notable being those for Anchor Bay’s The Walking Dead: The Complete Third Season.
Best Buy offered an exclusive Blu-ray combo pack of the season that also included the DVD. Target offered the Blu-ray with special steelbook packaging.
Walmart offered both the “Walking Dead” DVD and Blu-ray with an exclusive Songs of Survival CD.
For Warner’s The Great Gatsby, Target offered 20 minutes of exclusive bonus content, plus $5 instant savings when the movie was purchased with the paperback of the original book (priced at $12).
Target also included more than 25 minutes of exclusive bonus content with Paramount’s Elementary: The First Season.
For those buying Paramount’s Pain & Gain, Best Buy offered a 50% discount on the G.I. Joe: Retaliation Blu-ray combo pack.
In addition, Best Buy offered an exclusive Opie shirt for $5.99 (regularly $19.99) with the purchase of Fox’s Sons of Anarchy: Season Five.
Best Buy also touted $8 Planes movie cash with the purchase of Disney’s new Super Buddies.
Walmart offered a limited-edition gift set of Universal’s Barbie Mariposa & the Fairy Princess DVD with a butterfly finger puppet for $14.96.
Target's 'Epic' Digibook
Retailers didn’t hesitate to ramp up the exclusives for the home video of Fox’s new animated movie Epic.
Best Buy offered a “battle character” for the free Epic mobile game, playable on the iPhone, iPad and Android products.
Target presented the Epic Blu-ray combo pack with digibook packaging containing a 24-page bonus booklet.
Walmart went a little nuts with Epic, offering a Blu-ray combo pack option with three pack-on reusable snack bags. Walmart also offered, as it usually does, a stripped-down DVD version with no extras. With four different Epic SKUs on shelves, it was a bit ironic that a store in Irvine, Calif., didn’t have the 3D version stocked.
Also available exclusively for a limited time at Walmart: the new Scooby-Doo Adventures: The Mystery Map, which presents a Scooby-Doo mystery with puppets instead of animation.
Walmart also has a One Direction: This Is Us movie fan pack for DVD ($19.96) and Blu-ray ($22.96), containing a ticket to the Aug. 30 movie, preview footage and a future copy of the home video.
Amid the landscape of geekdom, there’s nothing quite like San Diego Comic-Con International. After more than 40 years, this Super Bowl of pop-culture conventions has astounded fans, organizers and marketers alike not only for its scope and spectacle, but also the lure of reaching out to an unprecedented congregation of fanboys and fangirls from around the world.
While recent years have shown Comic-Con isn’t the best place to build buzz about movies that don’t already have it, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to take advantage of the many rabid consumers of genre entertainment in one spot.
1. It’s a Good Place for Home Video Premieres
Screening new movies for fans at Comic-Con is becoming the norm. Warner Home Video has made a tradition of premiering its newest DC Universe animated superhero movies during special Q&A panels with the cast and crew, and this year brought Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox to the show just a few weeks before it arrived on DVD and Blu-ray. The past few years, Warner has also premiered a DCU movie at WonderCon, too.
2. How to Expand a Fictional Universe
Likewise, Marvel Studios showed Comic-Con fans the pilot for its new “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” TV show (which it also showed at the recent D23 Expo for Disney fans) and premiered the Marvel One Shot: Agent Carter short film that will be an extra on the Iron Man 3 Blu-ray. Between the films and these tie-in projects, Marvel Studios is establishing a viable cross-medium promotional strategy that engages consumers in the larger story arcs it is trying to establish. Putting Agent Carter on Iron Man 3, for example, makes it a promotional tool for the upcoming Captain America sequel. IM3 already includes a preview of the next Thor movie, which arrives in November. And the IM3 disc arrives Sept. 24, the same day “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” debuts on ABC.
3. Longstanding Rivalries Heating Up
This success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (aka “Avengers”) franchise is already proving the envy of other studios, as Warner has been trying to get a “Justice League” film off the ground for years and is moving forward with a Man of Steel sequel that will introduce a new, post-Christopher Nolan Batman with hopes of setting up a live-action Justice League movie. On the theatrical side, the Superman-Batman movie news generated the biggest buzz of the show.
4. Speculation About the Future of Star Wars
Given the success of the “Avengers” strategy, it will be interesting to see how Disney handles marketing for Star Wars: Episode VII at Comic-Con in the future. The exhibit floor had a large “Star Wars” area consisting of several different retail booths selling “Star Wars” merchandise such as clothes, dolls, toys, dog toys, car accessories and other random gift items.
Episode VII director J.J. Abrams had said that he wanted to use a multiplatform marketing approach with “Star Trek” but couldn’t work out the licensing logistics. He shouldn’t have any trouble with such a strategy for “Star Wars.” In the wake of the cancellation of the animated “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” series (jointly produced by Lucasfilm and Warner), Disney is bringing a new animated series, “Star Wars: Rebels,” to Disney XD. Many fans at Comic-Con also wondered if Disney would ever release the original, non-special-edition versions of the original trilogy on disc, and while a Lucasfilm rep at the D23 Expo said this was a possibility, there aren’t any plans to do so yet.
5. It doesn’t hurt to reach out to the fanboy demographic
Sometimes, it takes good old-fashioned hard work to get the word out about an upcoming project. Warner heavily promoted its Oct. 25 documentary Necessary Evil: Super-Villains of DC Comics not only at its own preview panel, but also at several other panels where the producers made special appearances to speak about it.
6. A Forum for Home Video Cross-Promotions
What better way to announce a show’s DVD release than the show’s Comic-Con panel, where fans can eagerly cheer the news? Paramount and CBS used Comic-Con to announce several upcoming home video releases, including Dexter: The Complete Series and the first seasons of “Under the Dome” and “Beauty and the Beast.”
7. Classic TV on Blu-ray Can Work
Conventional wisdom holds that older TV shows with a lot of visual effects wouldn’t work on Blu-ray because the effects were done in standard-definition and an upconversion would look horrible. The “Star Trek: The Next Generation” Blu-rays demonstrated the viability of remastering the show in HD by reassembling the original VFX elements, and at Comic-Con, Shout! Factory announced it is converting “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” to HD using the same process. This raised speculation about other classic series that could undergo such a conversion for Blu-ray, such as Fox doing something similar for “The X-Files.”
8. Displaying the Personal Touch
Fox also set up an interactive booth to promote its 3D Blu-ray release of the original Predator, due in December. The display also included a mock-up of limited-edition packaging shaped like a Predator head, which will be limited to a run of 500. Fans who preordered the disc could get a figurine of a Predator holding a facsimile of the guest’s severed head, created using a 3D printer. Don’t be surprised to see this kind of thing in the future. A company called Cubify was allowing fans to make Star Trek figurines with their face on them for $70.
9. Getting Off the Floor
It’s no secret that Comic-Con has outgrown the San Diego Convention Center, with official events and panels now taking place in nearby hotels. But the spirit of Comic-Con has engulfed most of Downtown San Diego, with a number of activities set up in the Gaslamp District far away from the convention floor. This year, the Aquabats staged a concert at the House of Blues, Sony Pictures celebrated the Blu-ray release of Evil Dead with fans at The Commons sports lounge, and Universal promoted Kick-Ass 2 with a giant downtown fan festival. And don’t forget “The Walking Dead Escape,” which lets fans play walkers (zombies) or runners (survivors) during a massive reenactment of the hit AMC show at nearby Petco Park.
10. Exploring the Digital Frontier
The expansion of digital technology provides a fast and easy way to bring content to Comic-Con attendees, and also recognizes that Comic-Con attracts a lot of families each year (and that means little kids). DreamWorks Animation teamed with M-Go and Fox to promote DreamWorks Animation titles through limited-edition collectible cards distributed to attendees at the Fox booth. The cards contained codes for attendees to redeem for free access to DreamWorks Animation digital shorts. In addition, M-Go street team members distributed 13,000 cards with a promo code for free movie rentals on the pay-as-you-go service.
In a week with plenty of new releases upon which to attach a juicy retailer exclusive, the only one of note seems to be Disney’s Once Upon a Time: The Complete Second Season and an exclusive bonus disc that came with copies of the fantasy TV show at Best Buy.
The Best Buy bonus DVD included a 15-minute featurette about the design and fashion of the show, as well as exclusive deleted scenes. In addition, Best Buy touted a coupon good for $15 off the season-two Blu-ray and $10 off the DVD, available at www.ABCTVonDVDCoupon.com.
At Walmart, the chain’s latest batch of exclusive titles includes a thinly veiled Planes knockoff called Wings, from Lionsgate, featuring the voices of Josh Duhamel, Jesse McCartney, Hilary Duff, Rob Schneider and Tom Skerritt.
Walmart also stuck some extras in the recent release of Lionsgate’s Duck Dynasty: Season Three, including 30 minutes of exclusive bonus features.
Also, Walmart’s preorder for Sony Pictures’ The Smurfs 2, at $27.96, comes with a DVD of the first movie.