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.
Walmart's 'A Million Ways to Die in the West' with T-shirt
Several of the Oct. 7 new releases garnered exclusive promotions from the major retailers upon their debut.
Best Buy offered the Blu-ray combo pack of Warner's sci-fi thriller Edge of Tomorrow with more than 25 minutes of additional bonus material, while Target offered the title in a steelbook case.
Disney's Sleeping Beauty: Diamond Edition drew the special packaging at Best Buy, which offered the Blu-ray with lenticular box art. Target packaged the Blu-ray with a 32-page read-along storybook, while Walmart offered it as a gift set with a Disneybound: Sleeping Beauty Style bonus DVD.
For Universal's A Million Ways to Die in the West, Walmart offered the Blu-ray with a packed-on "Moustachery" T-shirt, while Target offered it with 30 minutes of additional featurettes. At Best Buy, shoppers could buy it in a $29.99 bundle with another Seth MacFarlane-directed comedy, Ted.
Among other new titles, Best Buy offered the original Sharknado Blu-ray for $4.99 with the purchase of the second movie.
Walmart offered Fox's American Horror Story: Coven Blu-ray with an exclusive bonus DVD with a cast Q&A panel discussion from Paleyfest 2014. Walmart also had Lionsgate's Duck Dynasty: Season 6 as a "Duck-Luxe" edition with 35 minutes of exclusive bonus material.
Oct. 3 Walmart offered Disney's Star Wars Rebels: Spark of Rebellion on DVD the day the first episode of the new animated series debuted on the Disney Channel.
Target's transforming 'Age of Extinction' packaging
The promotional blitz surrounding Paramount's Transformers: Age of Extinction hit retail Sept. 30, with exclusives tied to the Blu-ray release at all the major retailers.
Amazon.com bundled the Blu-ray combo pack (non-3D edition) with a statue of Optimus Prime riding the Dinobot Grimlock, priced at $79.99.
Target offered the Blu-ray combo pack in limited-edition packaging that transforms into a facsimile of Optimus Prime. Some Targets still had a preorder bundle for Age of Extinction that included a 40-inch cloth poster and a voucher for the robot packaging Blu-ray. Target also offered a $10 savings with the purchase of the Blu-ray concurrently with a select "Transformers" toy, and its Age of Extinction Blu-rays touted $6 coupons for future purchases of Paramount movies on DVD or Blu-ray.
Walmart offered a number of exclusives tied to Age of Extinction. One was an online exclusive Blu-ray combo pack in packaging designed to resemble Bumblebee’s head, offered at Walmart.com for $24.96. In addition, Walmart offered a preorder incentive that let fans order the head on its own or with a deluxe Transformers action figure in a $44.92 bundle, a savings of $15.
For its physical stores, Walmart had a deluxe boxed set of the Blu-ray combo pack with a metal magnet and three exclusive figurines. In addition, Walmart offered a boxed set of all four "Transformers" films for $39.96.
Best Buy offered Age of Extinction in exclusive steelbook packaging. Best Buy also had exclusive cover art for Fox's 24: Live Another Day, in the form of a o-card sleeve.
Toys "R" Us also had an Age of Extinction exclusive, packaging the Blu-ray with Optimus Prime and Galvatron Kre-O figures for $29.99.
Warner's first slate of Diamond Luxe premium catalog Blu-rays were exclusive to Best Buy on Sept. 30. The lineup includes Forrest Gump, The Green Mile, Natural Born Killers, Gremlins and Ben-Hur.
Target offered Gone With the Wind in Diamond Luxe-style packaging, at $18.99.
Walmart had exclusive availability of Shout! Factory's animated Thunder and the House of Magic on DVD and Blu-ray, as well as CBS's Walker Texas Ranger: The Reunion. For Universal's Team Hot Wheels: The Origin of Awesome, Walmart offered the DVD with a pack-on toy car for $14.96. For Universal's Monster High: Freaky Fusion, Walmart offered the DVD packed with a flashlight pen for $14.96.
Target ran a Monster High: Freaky Fusion cross-promotion offering $5 off when the DVD or Blu-ray was purchased with a tie-in doll.
Walmart's 'Neighbors' with T-shirt
Universal's hit comedy Neighbors was the only major theatrical film arriving on disc Sept. 23, but that didn't stop retailers from attaching their own exclusive promotions to the title to lure consumers to their party.
Walmart offered a deluxe box of the Neighbors Blu-ray combo pack with a frat T-shirt. Target offered the Blu-ray with a bonus disc containing 30 minutes of exclusive bonus content. And Best Buy offered free mini red beer cups for free (available for $4.99 separately) with the title.
Target also offered the second-season DVD of "Nashville" with two downloadable music tracks.
Target also offers a $5 gift card with a Target.com preorder or Transformers: Age of Extinction, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Maleficent or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Warner's disc release of the new Godzilla remake burst onto retail Sept. 16 with promotional exclusives at most of the major retailers.
Best Buy offered the Godzilla Blu-ray for $19.99, or $9.99 with the purchase of a TV title $14.99 or up. Best Buy also offered the prequel graphic novel Godzilla: Awakening for $2.99 with the purchase of the film.
Walmart offered a special single-disc Godzilla DVD, as opposed to the two-DVD special edition DVD available everywhere else. The $14.96 Walmart DVD offered only a couple of the bonus featurettes from the array of extras found on the other disc versions.
Target presented the Godzilla Blu-ray with the exclusive 30-minute featurette Godzilla: Rebirth of an Icon.
Target also had exclusive content with Fox's Sleepy Hollow: Season One, as well as a digibook of artwork based on the show.
In addition, Target offered a free mini doll with the purchase of Universal's Barbie and the Secret Door. For Fox's The Fault in Our Stars, Fox offered a $5 savings with the purchase of the film with its CD soundtrack or the original book.
Other extras at Walmart included the exclusive titles The Perfect Wave on DVD ($12.96) or Blu-ray ($17.96) from Anchor Bay, and Lionsgate's animated Jungle Master ($12.96). For The Fault in Our Stars, Walmart offered two bonus song downloads, and for Sony Pictures' Think Like a Man Too, Walmart offered the DVD packed wih the first film for $19.96. In addition, Walmart offered the Barbie and the Secret Door DVD packed wih a Sing-along With Barbie DVD ($14.96). Walmart also had a $14.96 two-pack of Thomas & Friends: Tale of the Brave — The Movie available through Vudu with the five-episode Thomas & Friends: Engines to the Rescue DVD.
Best Buy had a special lenticular cover for the Blu-ray of the seventh season of "The Big Bang Theory."
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.