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.
I understand the appeal for content producers and retailers to offer bonus materials digitally. It saves on disc space and production costs. But Target seems to have a headache to deal with regarding the decision to offer an exclusive Captain America: The Winter Soldier behind-the-scenes featurette through its Target Ticket digital streaming service.
The “Behind the Lens” featurette is touted on a sticker on the cover of the 3D Blu-ray for the film at Target. The packaging is otherwise identical to the wide-release version. This separates Target from Walmart’s and Best Buy’s offerings on the title, which didn’t include bonus content but instead offered the 3D version in exclusive packaging.
Target’s version is also $19.99, far and away the best value among the major retailers for the 3D edition, so I decided it was worth picking up a copy to check out the exclusive.
I should mention that before I bought the title, it wasn’t quite clear the exclusive was only available digitally, since it’s not uncommon, especially on Marvel titles, to include an exclusive bonus disc.
There wasn’t a bonus disc on this one, so the first warning sign should have been that the inserts containing the code didn’t contain any special instructions specifically for the Target content. The only hint of what to do was on the cover sticker, which stated “Download your digital copy at targetticket.com/redeem.” This is easy enough for regular Target shoppers to overlook since many of the discs in their electronics section contain stickers with similar messaging, simply trying to push shoppers to use its digital service as opposed to Walmart’s Vudu or Best Buy’s CinemaNow to redeem UltraViolet copies. Being a Disney title, Captain America: The Winter Soldier isn’t offered via UltraViolet, but via the Disney Movies Anywhere app and participating retailers.
The URL on the sticker just redirects to the regular Target.com retail site, so no help there.
At TargetTicket.com, a title search brings up two versions of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, with one labeled as offering the exclusive content, available as a standalone digital purchase (at $14.99 for standard-def or $19.99 for HD). Unfortunately, this one doesn’t offer a button to redeem the code. After hitting the “Redeem a Code” button on the main page, then selecting the option to redeem a Disney code, the site asks to search for the title, and doing so came up with one version of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I entered the code, and the movie appeared in my TargetTicket library without the extras promised on the box.
After searching through the site for other options and finding none, I clicked on the link to contact customer support and called their hotline. The customer service rep said that the exclusive version should have popped up after I hit the redeem button and searched for the title, and that her computer showed four versions of the movie (maybe she was looking at the disc versions on the regular site — but the exclusive disc isn’t offered there anymore). After saying that only one version showed up on my computer, she seemed confused about the possibility of a technical snafu, but said that since I had already redeemed the code for the regular version (the only version available to me, since there were no instructions in the package telling me what to expect), there was nothing she could do, other then recommend I buy another copy to get a new code to try (or, at the very least, exchange my copy for another one with a fresh code).
Given the technical issues with the title not showing up as redeemable, I said this wasn’t a very good plan, and the inconvenience it would cause was extremely irksome. I pointed out that other digital streaming sites, such as Flixster, have the ability to bypass the code system when there is a problem and just add the title to the user’s library, but she said she couldn’t do that. After a few more minutes of conversation that seemed to go in circles, in which she said she’d report the problem with their technical team, I finally suggested they give me an account credit so I could just buy the version with the extras on the site and add it to my library that way. She finally got permission from her supervisor to do this, and with a $20 account credit I was finally able to get the correct version of the title in HD and watch the bonus video.
The exclusive featurette is just six minutes but turned out to be pretty interesting, delving mostly into how the filmmakers used CGI to enhance the film’s reality by artificially aging actress Hayley Atwell to appear as the older Peggy Carter, and the use of digital doubles for the actors to create some of the stunts.
But the frustration caused by the process to finally see this video is obviously a big problem, especially as studios and retailers attempt to convince consumers of the value of synergy between disc and digital (which such exclusive promotions are meant to highlight), and as Target tries to rehabilitate its digital reputation following its credit card database being hacked.
A check of the message boards later in the day (this is on Sept. 9, the day the disc first hit shelves) showed several shoppers were having similar troubles trying to access the video, but most seemed to either give up looking (happy enough with the $19.99 price) or resolved to take back the video for a refund so they could go to another retailer to get the special packaging (another potential headache for Target). Posters at some message boards reported their stores were out of the exclusive edition, either sold out or possibly pulled from shelves until the issues are resolved.
Hopefully Target gets this mess cleaned up soon, as I doubt they’re thrilled at the prospect of offering $20 digital credits to thousands of their annoyed customers.
P.S. — The code was still good via Disney Movies Anywhere, which offers several other promotional goodies for the title, such as digital comic books and discounts on toys. These are offered with the wide release too, not just the Target exclusive. The DMA copy links to iTunes, which offers its own digital exclusive featurette.
UPDATE (9/10/14): Apparently Target has consolidated its multiple digital versions of Captain America: The Winter Soldier at Target Ticket, so that the only version that pops up under the redeem search is the version with the extras, and some users reported receiving an email informing them that their previously redeemed version of the film would now include the extras. This would appear to resolve the issue, though it's unknown if this means that codes from any version of the film, including those from other retailers, can be used to access the Target exclusive.
Display touting Walmart's 'Captain America' character disc covers
The Sept 9 retail release of Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, distributed by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, was accompanied by a few retailers offering exclusive covers for the hit action title.
Walmart went all out with five variable character-based covers for the 3D Blu-ray combo pack. Consumers could choose from box art containing Captain America, Black Widow, Winter Soldier, Falcon or Nick Fury.
Best Buy offered the 3D Blu-ray of Captain America: The Winter Soldier with exclusive steelbook packaging.
Apple's iTunes offered the movie with an exclusive four-minute featurette about the film's elevator fight. This is available not only to people who buy the film at iTunes, but also those who redeem their Disney Movies Anywhere digital copy code included with the disc.
Target promoted an exclusive six-minute behind-the-scenes featurette with the 3D Blu-ray, redeemable through its Target Ticket digital streaming service. However, the site wasn’t configured to redeem the digital copy code for the version of the film with the extras, leaving many consumers frustrated and complaining on message boards that the content they wanted wasn’t available on the release date (Sept. 9). TargetTicket.com did credit some accounts that already burned the code on the non-extras version to let them directly buy the correct version of the digital copy containing the exclusive featurette, or added the extras to those who already redeemed the code. The redemption problems were resolved by the next day when Target made the extras version the only one available at TargetTicket.com.
Target also offered exclusive bonus content with discs of the fifth season of “The Vampire Diaries” and the first season of Sony Pictures’ “The Goldbergs.”
Target has also been promoting Target Ticket with stickers on select Blu-ray and DVD packages offering a $5 credit with a new digital purchase at the site.
The Screen Media faith-based title The Investigator is available on DVD exclusively at Walmart for $9.96. The film tells the story of a disgraced police sergeant who finds redemption after taking a teaching job at a Christian high school and takes on a student's challenge to investigate the existence of Jesus Christ.
Walmart also has exclusive availability of the DVD of Disney Mickey Mouse: Season 1, with 19 shorts and bonus material.
Best Buy is offering 100 Best Buy bonus points with $19.99 preorders for several upcoming Blu-rays, including Disney's Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Paramount's Transformers: Age of Extinction, Fox's X-Men: Days of Future Past, Sony Pictures' 22 Jump Street, Warner's Godzilla and Universal's Neighbors.
Best Buy also will offer exclusive lenticular packaging for Warner's The Big Bang Theory: Season 7 and Arrow: Season 2, both also available for preorder.
Walmart's 'Walking Dead: Season Four' with prison key
Anchor Bay’s Aug. 26 disc release of The Walking Dead: The Complete Fourth Season unsurprisingly received the significant amount of retail attention a monster-hit show of its stature deserves.
Walmart had the biggest exclusives, offering at least four different versions of the title on shelves. All of them came with a bonus Songs of Survival Vol. 2 CD.
In addition to standard DVD and Blu-ray editions, Walmart offered special DVD and Blu-ray boxed sets of the show containing a collectible prison key. This is a variation of the exclusive that was sold as a preorder from the Anchor Bay booth at this year's San Diego Comic-Con International.
Target offered the Blu-ray with steelbook packaging, while Best Buy offered it with lenticular cover art.
For Fox’s Sons of Anarchy: Season Six, Walmart offered the DVD and Blu-ray sets with a pack-in knit cap, while Best Buy offered access to six issues of a digital comic book based on the series.
Walmart also had exclusive availability of an animated film called The Jungle Bunch 2: The Great Treasure Quest, from Universal, offered at $9.96.
For the second week of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Blu-ray ($24.99), Target offered an instant $10 savings when the title was purchased at the same time as a triple attack electronic Spidey action figure, priced at $15.
Amazon's 'Amazing Spider-Man 2' Electro Head
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment pulled out all the stops to promote the Blu-ray and DVD release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Aug. 19, with promotional exclusives available at every major retailer.
The biggest one came via Amazon.com, which offered an exclusive gift set of the 3D Blu-ray combo pack of the film with packaging in the form of a bust of the villain Electro. The set is listed at $149.99 but Amazon had it for as low as $74.99.
Target offered Blu-ray copies with a bonus disc containing the featurette "Something Sinister This Way Comes: A Look at Spider-Man’s Most Fearsome Foes.” In addition, Target’s exclusive sets had a coupon for free popcorn and soda at the Target Café.
Best Buy offered the Amazing Spider-Man 2 Blu-ray with a collectible Magno case and comic book. In addition, Best Buy offered $10 off ASM2 with the purchase of a TV title $14.99 or higher.
Walmart offered a Blu-ray two-pack of the new film with its 2012 predecessor.
Best Buy's 'Batman: Assault on Arkham' with figurine
As is typical for the DC Universe animated superhero movie brand, the new Batman: Assault on Arkham Blu-ray was a prime focus for retail exclusives upon its Aug. 12 release.
Best Buy offered a version of the Blu-ray combo pack with a pack-on Harley Quinn figurine, while Target offered the Blu-ray with a steelbook case. Walmart offered a two-DVD special edition of the movie that won’t be available at other outlets for at least a month.
Among the other new releases, Sony Pictures’ The Blacklist: The Complete First Season was the only other title with any noticeable promotional interest. Best Buy offered the Blu-ray with a T-shirt, while Target offered an exclusive “Red Edition” DVD with a villains dossier.
Anticipating the Aug. 26 disc release of The Walking Dead: The Complete Fourth Season, Walmart has set up a display of “Dead” merchandise, such as hats and posters, and is touting an exclusive Blu-ray of the upcoming season set with a pack-on key collectible.
Walmart's 'Divergent' Deluxe Edition
The Aug. 5 release of Lionsgate's Divergent prompted the major retailers to line up their own exclusives to try to attract buyers.
Walmart offered the most substantial edition of Divergent, loading a deluxe version of the Blu-ray combo pack with a 32-page collector's book, four additional featurettes, an excerpt from the new Four book, photo spreads and more.
Target offered the Divergent Blu-ray combo pack with exclusive box art, temporary tattoos and a bonus disc with 45 minutes of additional featurettes.
Best Buy offered the Divergent Blu-ray with steelbook packaging.
Other exclusives at Walmart included a $14.96 DVD of a new live-action Tarzan movie, from Lionsgate, and a DVD of Nickelodeon's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Pulverizer Power ($5).
Target's 'Noah' with wood packaging
Among the July 29 new releases, Paramount’s Noah attracted the most retail attention.
Target offered the Blu-ray, a retelling of the Noah’s Ark biblical tale, in special wood packaging with 45 minutes of exclusive bonus content.
Best Buy offered Noah with steelbook packaging.
Walmart offered the Blu-ray packed with a CD of songs inspired by the film.
For the July 22 new releases, retailers focused their attention on Sony Pictures' Heaven Is for Real.
Target offered to give consumers a $5 gift card with the purchase of the faith-based film on disc with a copy of the book upon which it is based (priced at $12.80 for the paperback).
Walmart offered the Heaven Is for Real Blu-ray with an exclusive bonus disc containing a featurette about the family that inspired the story. Walmart also offered a DVD two-pack of the film with Soul Surfer.
Another exclusive at Walmart involved Universal's An American Girl: Isabelle Dances Into the Spotlight, offering the DVD with a pack-on back-to-school set.
Target offered the Isabelle DVD with a sketchbook.
Target's 'Rio 2' With Plush
Each of the big three major retail chains offered consumers its own exclusive promotion for the home video release of Fox's Rio 2.
Target offered the Blu-ray combo pack (non-3D version) with an exclusive pack-on plush toy, while Walmart offered the Rio 2 Blu-ray combo pack with a light-up, sound activated slapband.
Best Buy didn’t have an exclusive edition of Rio 2, but the chain did give shoppers a chance to buy a Rio 2 lunchbox for just $4.99 (regular price $9.99) with the purchase of the film on disc.
In addition, Best Buy is already taking preorders for the Blu-ray of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, offering 100 My Best Buy bonus points.
Copies of the sci-fi thriller Under the Skin, however, were in scarce supply at Best Buy, with most stores not stocking the Lionsgate title. The Best Buy website listed the title as available at the Costa Mesa, Calif., location, but it was not seen in the ne-release section or any of the store’s other disc aisles.
For Entertainment One’s Hell on Wheels: The Complete Third Season, Target offered a set of character cards with the DVD.