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.
Best Buy's 'Bad Santa 2' UHD and Target's 'Hacksaw Ridge' Blu-ray Steelbook
The first title for which a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray edition was leveraged as a retail exclusive is … Bad Santa 2. The comedy sequel, released on disc by Broad Green, is available in the 4K format only at Best Buy, and comes with special box art as well.
Among the other new releases, Target offered the Blu-ray of Lionsgate's Hacksaw Ridge in a Steelbook case.
Walmart's 'Thomas & Friends' Two-Pack
While some big titles such as Paramount's Arrival hit shelves Feb. 14, none of them came with any retail exclusives.
The only noticeable exclusive among the new releases came at Walmart, which offered a DVD two-pack of the new Thomas & Friends: Extraordinary Engines with Thomas & Friends: Railway Friends, at $12.96.
Among other items of note, Best Buy did not have DVD copies of the Universal new releases Bleed for This and The Edge of Seventeen stocked in its brick-and-mortar stores. Only the Blu-ray combo packs were offered, which include the DVDs. Similarly, Best Buy didn't have the DVD version of Sony Pictures' Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, although the Blu-ray version didn't include a DVD.
Target's 'Trolls' box art
DreamWorks Animation's Trolls, distributed by Fox, and Warner's Justice League Dark arrived at retail Feb. 7 with their share of retail-exclusive options.
For Trolls, Best Buy offered the Blu-ray "Party Edition" with an exclusive graphic novel. Best Buy also included a graphic novel with the Justice League Dark Blu-ray gift set, which already includes a Constantine figurine.
At Target, the Trolls Blu-ray came with exclusive box art and a bonus disc containing an additional 20 minutss of material. Target offered a Steelbook case with the Justice League Dark Blu-ray.
Walmart had the Trolls DVD as a "party edition" similarly to the widely released Blu-ray version, and plugged two music videos with both the DVD and Blu-ray.
Walmart also had a DVD two-pack containing the first seasons of two HBO shows: "Eastbound & Down" and the newly released "Vice Principals."
Best Buy and Target 'Pinocchio' exclusives, Best Buy 'Jack Reacher Never Go Back' Steelbook
A couple of retailers offered exclusive packaging for Disney's new Pinocchio: Signature Collection Blu-ray.
Target offered the Blu-ray combo pack with a 28-page storybook.
Best Buy offered the animated classic with special lenticular box art.
For Paramount's Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, Best Buy had exclusive Steelbook cases for the Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray editions.
Walmart offered a DVD gift set of Universal's Barbie: Video Game Hero with a Princess Charm School DVD.
Best Buy's 'Inferno' Steelbook and Walmart's Langdon trilogy DVD
Sony Pictures' Inferno, the third movie adaptation of the Robert Langdon novels, gave retailers a few options for promoting exclusive editions.
Best Buy had a special Steelbook case with the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray edition of the film.
Walmart had a DVD set of all three Langdon movies — The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons and Inferno — starring Tom Hanks as the professor frequently tasked with interpreting ancient clues to solve mysteries.
Another notable new release, The Light Between Oceans, a DreamWorks production distributed by Disney, seems to have some availability issues. Best Buy didn't have the DVD edition of the film stocked in its brick-and-mortar shelves, while Walmart stores didn't have the Blu-ray version. Amazon.com didn't seem to have any copies of its own on the Jan. 24 release date, with the title available there only through Marketplace sellers.
Among other deals, Best Buy had a selection of recent popular Blu-rays for $9.99 each. Target had a similar deal with $10 Blu-rays and DVDs.
Walmart's 'Surf's Up 2' with WWE figure
There wasn't much in the way of retail exclusives for Jan. 17 new releases.
Walmart offered a gift set for Sony Pictures' Surf's Up 2: Wave Mania, a direct-to-video animated sequel to the 2007 movie about surfing birds. With the new installment featuring a heavy tie-in with World Wrestling Entertainment and featuring several WWE Superstars voicing characters, Walmart's gift set paired the DVD with one of several WWE action figures.
Walmart also had a DVD of both "Surf's Up" movies.
Target offered a free year-long subscription to Entertainment Weekly with purchase of the Blu-ray of Universal's The Girl on the Train.
Target's 'Deepwater Horizon' Steelbook Blu-ray
Lionsgate's Deepwater Horizon had the most notable retailer exclusive among the Jan. 10 new releases.
Target offered a steelbook edition of the Blu-ray of Deepwater Horizon, which is based on the true story of the 2010 disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
Best Buy offered an exclusive Mr. Robot patch with the Blu-ray of Mr. Robot: Season Two. Best Buy didn't offer the DVD of the show in its brick-and-mortar locations.
Best Buy also had early availability of the Blu-ray of Star Trek: Enterprise — The Complete Series, through Feb. 13.
Walmart has a two-pack of DVDs for recent Sony Pictures releases Apple of My Eye and Lost & Found.
The new home video releases the first week of 2017 didn't receive much fanfare at retail.
The two biggest titles in terms of domestic box office were a pair of Lionsgate releases that each made a shade over $20 million: Blair Witch, a belated sequel to the horror cult classic The Blair Witch Project, and Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life, based on the James Patterson novel.
Not only were there no retail exclusives associated with the titles, but they were relegated to secondary status on new-release shelves. Best Buy didn't even stock the Middle School DVD in its brick-and-mortar locations. Most displays were still built around Sony Pictures' The Magnificent Seven and Warner's Storks.
Target did offer a sale of relatively recent DVD releases for $10. And Best Buy promoted a selection of TV shows on disc starting at $14.99.
The last week of 2016 didn't offer anything unusual, with most retailers focused more on year-end sales than the new releases.
The big new titles on Dec. 27, such as Universal's Snowden and Sony Pictures' When the Bough Breaks, weren't put out there with any promotions exclusive to any particular retailer.
Best Buy ran a big "Best of 2016" promotion in its weekly ad circular, touting movies starting at $14.99.
Best Buy also had a deal for 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray movies, with $10 off the purchase of two, and $20 the purchase of three.
Target also hyped UHD Blu-rays in its weekly ad.
Best Buy had a display of the "Underworld" Blu-rays with exclusive Steelbook editions. Copies included a $7.50 coupon for a ticket to see the upcoming Underworld: Blood Wars in theaters.
Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia in 'Star Wars'
(Minor spoilers for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story ahead)
After seeing Rogue One Dec. 15, I began ruminating about the nature of the digital re-creation of a couple of classic “Star Wars” characters for the film. One of course was Grand Moff Tarkin, presenting a new performance from actor Peter Cushing, who died in 1994.
The other was the brief cameo by the 1977 likeness of Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia.
What struck me about the still-evolving visual effects technology at work was how it linked appearances from someone long-since dead to someone still living, but obviously too old to perform the specific version of the role. Some social media trends focused on the morbid ethics of resurrecting the dead, seemingly accepting of the idea of doing the same thing to someone alive if only to make them younger.
That got me to thinking, though, of some future date when we’d look back at the original Star Wars after all its cast had left us. Someday, I thought, even the youngest of them, Carrie Fisher, would pass on, and we as a fandom would have to deal with it.
I never expected it to happen this soon.
The news of Fisher’s death on Dec. 27 at age 60 certainly filled me with the profound sadness that any “Star Wars” fan would feel, despite being given the chance to brace for this possibility following her heart attack four days earlier.
As it seemingly has for celebrities in general, 2016 has been rough on the “Star Wars” family. Before Fisher, Kenny Baker, the man inside the R2-D2 costume, died in August, and Drewe Henley, who played Red Leader in the original Star Wars and Rogue One, died in February. These tragic losses have turned the current celebration of the rebirth of the franchise into a period of mourning as well. But at least we have Fisher’s final performance as Leia in next year’s Episode VIII to look forward to and cherish.
It’s not my intention here to harp on about the significance of her career or its personal impacts on me, as, truth be told, there really aren’t any, other than in a general way through my interest in film and television, and “Star Wars” in particular. There will be no shortage of blogs and articles about Fisher’s career, and Leia’s prominence as a strong female character in male-dominated Hollywood, and science-fiction in particular.
Leia was, of course, one of the iconic characters of film history, with two different outfits likely to go down in the cosplay hall of fame — her signature bun hairdo with white gown from the original film, and the gold slave bikini from Return of the Jedi, both of which have become comic-con staples (the gold bikini even has its own Wikipedia page).
And, she's one of the lucky few who can claim to have their own John Williams theme (one I was lucky enough to see the Maestro perform in person earlier this year at the Hollywood Bowl).
I especially enjoyed the way she shifted her accent in the original Star Wars, something many detractors have mocked but something which I think is a subtle character trait. From what I can tell, she only uses the British accent around the Imperial officers, which indicates an attempt to fit in with them on their level. As a senator and diplomat, she has to convince them that she’s one of them, and is putting on a show for their benefit. Among her allies in the Rebellion, she uses her regular voice. A key transition occurs during her emotional duress at the destruction of Alderaan, when she drops her accent to plead for mercy for her homeworld — fully dropping her cover as it is clear Leia’s pretensions no longer serve any purpose in her fight against evil.
(A bit of trivia: While Fisher's most-famous line of dialogue is likely "Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope," the only scene in any of the films in which Leia and Obi-Wan appear together is at the end of Episode III, when Kenobi is present at her birth.)
Fisher’s association with “Star Wars” made me perk up a bit whenever she turned up in another movie, from her cameo in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back to more prominent roles in films such as Under the Rainbow, a largely forgettable 1981 Chevy Chase comedy I once saw as a 6 year old in a double bill with The Empire Strikes Back.
I should also admit that Fisher was probably the main selling point that got me into a theater in 1989 to see The ’Burbs, in which she played Tom Hanks’ wife. The ’Burbs became more notable to me as the first movie my inner critic noted as being pretty terrible as I was watching it.
It was endearing to see the outpouring of well-wishes Fisher inspired after her heart attack, blossoming into full tributes upon her death, which really hammered home to me just how much the public loves “Star Wars,” and in particular her importance in elevating its role not only in pop culture history, but also its effect on our national identity.
As the daughter of Hollywood legends Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, and through a long and varied career as an actress, author and screenwriter, Carrie Fisher’s life will invariably mean different things to different people.
But she’ll always be Princess Leia to me.