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.
Target's 'Elysium' Steelbook
Dec. 17 turned out to be one of the biggest weeks of the year in terms of new releases, which isn’t much of a surprise given it’s just a week before Christmas.
Among the slew of new titles, the ones getting the most attention in terms of retail exclusives were the two big ones from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment: Elysium and One Direction: This Is Us.
At Best Buy, the Elysium Blu-ray came with an exclusive bonus disc containing additional behind-the-scenes footage. Target offered Elysium in exclusive Blu-ray steelbook packaging. And Walmart had the sci-fi title paired with the Blu-ray of director Neill Blomkamp’s previous film, District 9.
For This Is Us, Target offered the Blu-ray combo pack of the film with collector’s cards.
Another title garnering significant attention was Fox’s Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters. Best Buy offered a $7 discount toward a Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters e-book with the purchase of specially marked 3D or Blu-ray copies of the film. Walmart had two-packs of the film’s DVD with the first film in the franchise, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.
For Disney’s The Lone Ranger, Best Buy offered exclusive Blu-ray packaging and a soundtrack download with a bonus track.
Target's 'Despicable Me 2' Digibook
The biggest title released Dec. 10, Universal’s Despicable Me 2, dominated retail attention almost to the exclusion of all the other new releases. Universal’s Fast & Furious 6 did get a fair share of promotional focus, but it was minor compared to the animated hit.
Best Buy offered a free Minion lunchbox with the purchase of any version of DM2, while offering FF6 with an exclusive steelbook cover (an alternative to the widely available steelbook Blu-ray). Best Buy’s edition came with $5 CinemaNow credit toward any other “Fast & Furious” film. Shoppers could get all six films with steelbook covers for $69.99.
Target offered DM2 with two exclusive Blu-ray editions. One came with a bonus disc and digibook packaging with an Anti-Villain League book, while the other just had the bonus disc, which includes 40 minutes of fun, including featurettes and cast interviews. Target’s FF6 steelbook came with the film’s soundtrack.
Walmart offered a DM2 gift set with minion toys, and a FF6 steelbook with extras that could be watched via its Vudu streaming service.
After spending a day viewing the “Doctor Who” 50th anniversary special and the Mary Poppins 50th anniversary Blu-ray, I have come to the inescapable conclusion that Mary Poppins is a Time Lord.
A simple Google search shows that I am not alone in this assessment. The evidence is rather overwhelming, considering all the traits she seems to have in common with our good pal The Doctor.
She seems to live forever.
Her carpet bag is bigger on the inside, a trademark of Time Lord science and their dimensional-warping capabilities.
Her umbrella is imbued with astonishing abilities, like a sonic screwdriver.
She loves taking her companions on wild adventures.
The “Doctor Who” special added another wrinkle to the argument, reminding us that Time Lord art is bigger on the inside, allowing people to actually jump inside it and move around. You know, a lot like those sidewalk drawings Mary jumped into with Bert and the children.
Speaking of Bert, he has all the hallmarks of a Time Lord companion, and it’s clear he and Mary must have shared some adventures before. It’s probably where he learned the techniques of Time Lord art to create those trans-dimensional sidewalk drawings of his (or, perhaps he’s using special Time Lord drawing sticks, which the rest of use perceive is simple chalk).
Not being a Time Lord, of course, Bert lacked the means to actually enter the artwork. But Mary was able to complete the transference, probably because her umbrella is equipped with the necessary spatial technology needed to embed people in the art.
Where’s Mary’s TARDIS, you ask? Well, maybe she keeps it hidden in the clouds, much like The Doctor did in “The Snowmen” Christmas special.
And since Time Lords are expert time travelers, Mary may be responsible for transporting the penguin waiters back to Los Angeles in 1947, where they show up in Who Framed Roger Rabbit 17 years before Walt Disney would have created them.
See. Really it makes perfect sense if you think about it.
Comedy Central’s “South Park” Dec. 4 completed a trilogy of episodes satirizing the Black Friday shopping frenzy.
The plot centered on the town’s children dividing into separate camps devoted to Sony’s PlayStation 4 or Microsoft’s Xbox One video game consoles. Under the assumption that only one faction could emerge victorious, and set up that console as the dominate video game system for a generation, the two sides prepared for war in an elaborate “Game of Thrones” parody.
Meanwhile, the local mall security guards prepared for the onslaught of shoppers by unveiling a memorial wall to all the guards killed during previous Black Fridays. At one point, a character laments seeing a character getting killed off after knowing and liking them, a jab at shows such as “Thrones” and “The Walking Dead,” where killing main characters at unexpected times has become routine.
The local news covered the hordes of people gathering at the mall, and interviewed a man who declared he ate his 5-year-old son because he was too hungry while waiting in line for his chance to buy a Blu-ray player for 96% off, or “about $20.” He then sang a little song to commemorate his actions.
When the moment arrived for the shoppers to storm the mall, the scene transformed into a literal bloodbath, with footage from actual Black Friday riots spliced into the montage for good measure.
As for the console wars? After gathering at the mall’s Red Robin for a fake wedding and a round of betrayal (a spoof of the infamous Red Wedding of “Thrones”), the children eventually decided it was all marketing hype to encourage them to buy video games. Their refusal to participate in the Black Friday rush forced Bill Gates and a Japanese Sony CEO to have a bare-knuckle brawl to decide the future of the video game industry.
Of course, it wouldn’t be “South Park” if creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone didn’t turn the joke back on themselves, plugging their oft-delayed video game South Park: The Stick of Truth, recently rescheduled for March 2014.
The entire trilogy of episodes can be watched at SouthParkStudios.com.
Best Buy's 'Wolverine' Gift Set
The big title the first week in December was Fox’s The Wolverine, a typical big-name title for retailers to attach exclusives to attract customers in the wake of Black Friday sales.
Best Buy offered the 3D combo pack of The Wolverine with exclusive packaging and a collectible card set. The special gift set was offered at $1 less than the regular 3D combo pack.
Walmart offered the Wolverine 3D combo pack with a Vudu download of a previous "X-Men" movie. The chain also offered bare-bones DVD and Blu-ray editions of the film.
Target offered the Wolverine 3D and Blu-ray combo packs with an exclusive 24-minute downloadable featurette, "The Legendary Wolverine."
Other exclusives at Target included two titles from Sony Pictures: an exclusive bonus disc with a 30-minute "Inside the Magic" featurette with the BD combo pack of The Smurfs 2, and 45 minutes of bonus interviews with the Blu-ray of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.
Walmart offered Smurfs 2 Blu-ray gift sets with either a Papa Smurf or Smurfette plush.
Best Buy offered BBC’s Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor 50th anniversary special a week early on DVD ($17.99) and Blu-ray ($21.99). It goes wide Dec. 10.
A slew of new titles Nov. 19 didn’t attract much in the way of retailer exclusives, with the only notable ones coming from Target. For Universal’s 2 Guns, Target offered an exclusive graphic novel with the Blu-ray combo pack.
Target offered the Blu-ray editions of Disney’s Planes with an exclusive bonus disc, not advertised in the chain’s weekly circular, that touted a deleted scene and an “Extreme Air Challenge” featurette hosted by Disney Channel’s Karan Brar.
Target also offered 50% off one Pull & Fly Buddies toy (sold for $9.99 each) with the purchase of the Planes Blu-ray.
At Best Buy, Planes could be had with a $10 discount when purchased at the same time as any Planes Nintendo video game.
Best Buy also offers an exclusive steelbook packaging and $5 CinemaNow credit with preorders of Universal’s Fast & Furious 6, arriving Dec. 10.
Walmart’s latest exclusively available title is the Hallmark Channel movie Pete’s Christmas, on DVD with a Vudu digital copy from Arc Entertainment for $12.96.
Target and Walmart exclusive 'Man of Steel' packaging
Warner’s Superman reboot Man of Steel arrived on shelves with several retailers offering exclusive content, which may raise the ire of fans in the wake of grumblings over Star Trek Into Darkness.
Target offered the Man of Steel Blu-ray combo pack (non-3D) in special digibook packaging with four exclusive “X-Ray Vision” featurettes. Target also touted the film’s CD soundtrack in an exclusive red steel case for $19.99.
Walmart offered the non-3D Blu-ray combo pack of Man of Steel in a steelbook case with two exclusive featurettes: “The Iconic Characters of Man of Steel” and “The Sonic Landscape of Man of Steel.”
The final season of “Dexter” also attracted some retail attention. Best Buy offered the Blu-ray edition of the eighth season with exclusive packaging featuring a bloody sketch of the title character.
Target had a Blu-ray edition of the “Dexter” final season with a 24-page memoir of Dexter’s most iconic victims.
Walmart had a stripped-down DVD of DreamWorks’ Turbo with no extras for $14.96.
It’s a common practice to commemorate certain historical events with a bevy of tie-ins, be they new movies or documentaries about the subject, or re-releases of older material on DVD or Blu-ray. But I can’t recall an event prompting such depth of material as the upcoming 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination.
The latest entry into this pool of historical examination is National Geographic Channel’s TV movie Killing Kennedy, which airs this Sunday, Nov. 10, at 8 p.m., and will likely make its way to DVD and Blu-ray in a few months. The telefilm stars Rob Lowe as Kennedy, Ginnifer Goodwin as Jackie Kennedy, Will Rothhaar as Lee Harvey Oswald and Michelle Trachtenberg as Oswald’s wife, Marina.
I had the good fortune of attending the Los Angeles premiere of the Killing Kennedy, and found it to be a deft adaptation of the book by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard. The book, like Killing Lincoln before it, is structured as a parallel tale between a U.S. president and his assassin, leading to the fateful events that bring them together.
The performances are all quite good, with Lowe holding the line with a more-than-passable JFK impression. But the revelation is the grounded performance of Rothhaar, who doesn’t paint Oswald as anything more than a troubled young man with something to prove. Trachtenberg also is quite good as his suffering wife, practically unrecognizable behind a wall of thick Russian dialogue.
If anything, I might have made the movie more about Oswald’s side. While it’s necessary to portray events such as the Bay of Pigs and Cuban Missile Crisis to give Oswald something to respond to, the Kennedy side of events has been dramatized countless times already in movies, TV shows and miniseries, as if filmmakers just can’t resist the lure of portraying the glamour of Kennedy’s Camelot.
The Kennedys miniseries from 2011 gave us most of these scenes with Greg Kinnear as JFK (though Goodwin is a step up from Katie Holmes as Jackie). And watching Lowe during the assassination scene, I couldn’t help but think back to his “West Wing” co-star Martin Sheen in the same role in the 1983 Kennedy miniseries.
It’s the Oswald side that tends to get short shrift, more often than not buried under concurrent examinations of the latest conspiracy theory to pop up (most of which are easily discredited). Killing Kennedy demonstrates in chilling detail how easy it was for Oswald to carry out the assassination on his own, with no need for a vast conspiracy.
Funny as it seems, the closest I could think of another dramatization that tried to get into Oswald’s head this much was a story arc on “Quantum Leap.”
What struck me many times watching Killing Kennedy, and having just a few weeks ago viewed the underrated Parkland, which re-creates the immediate aftermath of the shooting, was how many scenes coexist between the two (with different actors, of course). In fact, one of the things I enjoyed about Parkland was seeing so many events that had been described in the Killing Kennedy book.
Still, for those who might not have seen any of the other Kennedy projects out there, Killing Kennedy should provide a good capsule of events that while hopefully encourage further examination into this pivotal turning point of American history.
Walmart's 'Monsters University' Gift Set
The retailers were out in force to offer fans of Disney’s Monsters University an extra enticement to pick up a copy in their store.
As far as exclusive bonus content goes, Target offered the Monsters University Blu-ray/DVD/digital copy combo pack and 3D combo pack with a “College Days” featurette. Target also offered $5 off any Monsters University Blu-ray with the purchase of a Scare Student figure, priced at $9.99.
Best Buy offered a free Mike plush with any Monsters University Blu-ray combo pack. The chain also touted Disney Infinity figures based on the movie for $13.99 each.
At Walmart, shoppers could pick up the Monsters University Blu-ray/DVD combo as part of a gift set that included a Disney Infinity Mike or Randall figure (priced on its own at $12.96).
Walmart also had exclusive availability of the DVD of the family movie Coming Home for Christmas, which included a limited-edition Norman Rockwell print. The DVD, offered at $9.96, also included a bonus Vudu digital copy.
Walmart's 'Barbie' DVD with plush pony
Direct-to-video animation based on toy lines is a natural fit for exclusive add-ons, and retailers didn’t miss a beat with Universal’s new Barbie & Her Sisters in A Pony Tale.
Target offered a free Chelsea doll with the purchase of either the movie or the tie-in Barbie doll (priced at $11.99).
Walmart offered the DVD packed with a free plush pony.
Among other new releases, Walmart had copies of Fox’s The Internship DVD packed with the DVD for another Vince Vaughn starrer, Dodgeball.
Best Buy decided to help shoppers for Halloween with a free Despicable Me 2 minion trick-or-treat bag with the purchase of select titles, including the original Despicable Me, ParaNorman and Monster High: Ghouls Rule.
For The Internship, Best Buy offered a $5 discount when the Blu-ray was purchased at the same time as the Blu-ray for The Heat.
Target is ramping up promotions of its Target Ticket streaming service, setting up an endcap of ticketed titles among the other DVDs and Blu-rays.