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 'Hercules' and Target's 'Hobbit' steelbooks
A slew of new titles on the Nov. 4 slate arrived in stores with special covers, box art and packaging exclusives to certain retailers.
Target offered exclusive packaging variants on two different titles: a steelbook case for Warner's The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug — Extended Edition Blu-ray and a storybook edition of Paramount's Hercules Blu-ray. Target also offered a "Brave Firefighters" digital storybook with the Blu-ray of Disney's Planes: Fire & Rescue; shoppers could get a $5 discount buying the Blu-ray together with a die-cast "Planes" toy.
Best Buy offered the Planes: Fire & Rescue Blu-ray with a lenticular cover, and packed the new "Hobbit" release with a Key of Oakenshield collectible. Best Buy's Hercules Blu-ray came with a bonus disc containing an hour of bonus material. Best Buy also had an exclusive DVD boxed set of HBO's Eastbound & Down: The Complete Series.
Walmart offered a Hercules Blu-ray steelbook edition, and packed the Planes: Fire & Rescue Blu-ray with a Wildfire Air Attack Team Trainer interactive bonus DVD. Walmart also seemed to be the only retailer with a DVD-only version of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug — Extended Edition.
Amazon offered an exclusive of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug — Extended Edition that included a special statue depicting the Hobbits' river escape.
Target shoppers looking over the Oct. 28 might have raised an eyebrow at seeing a sizable promotion for individual DVD season sets of the 1969-74 TV sitcom “The Brady Bunch,” on disc from CBS and Paramount.
The show was released on DVD in 2005 and 2006, before CBS took over the rights, but now Target is exclusively selling the re-release at $9.99 per season. This is an exclusive early window for the retailer, as the DVDs will be widely available Dec. 9.
Target also has early availability of Disney’s Phineas & Ferb: Star Wars, which won’t be widely available until Nov. 11.
Target also offered an exclusive bracelet with Shout! Factory’s My Little Pony Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks.
Walmart had a re-release of Fox’s Free Birds DVD with a plush toy
Best Buy offered some incentives on preorders, including 100 My Best Buy bonus points for each $19.99 preorder of such titles as Disney’s Maleficent, DreamWorks’ How to Train Your Dragon 2, Fox’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Sony Pictures’ 22 Jump Street (with bonus content), Paramount’s Hercules (with bonus content) and Paramount’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (with steelbook packaging).
Walmart's Universal exclusives
Walmart Oct. 21 offered four exclusive DVDs from Universal: Not Safe for Work, Mercy, Mockingbird and Stretch. Each had a cover sticker touting a $3 savings with the purchase of that title and The Purge: Anarchy.
Walmart also touted its Vudu InstaWatch system, which lets shoppers redeem their digital copy from purchased discs by using their receipt and the Walmart app.
Target offered 30 minutes of exlcusive content with Mad Men: The Final Season — Part 1, in the form of the show’s 2014 Paleyfest panel.
Target also has an exclusive “Downton Abbey” CD soundtrack with preorders of season five of the show at Target.com/Downton. The promotion was highlighted on a sticker on the new four-season DVD and Blu-ray packs of the show.
Best Buy's 'X-Men' gift set
Fans had their pick among retail exclusive editions for Fox's Oct. 14 home video release of X-Men: Days of Future Past.
Best Buy had a huge display of "X-Men" titles, including a special gift set for the 3D Blu-ray edition of Days of Future Past that included special mutant files. Target offered the 2D Blu-ray combo pack in special metalpak packaging.
Walmart had a couple of Days of Future Past exclusives, the most notable being copies of the 3D and 2D Blu-rays packed with special miniature editions of the two-part 1981 comic book storyline upon which the film is based. Walmart also had an exclusive bare-bones DVD edition of the film.
Amazon.com offered a gift set of the Days of Future Past 3D combo pack that included a replica Magneto helmet.
The week's other big title, DreamWorks Animation's Mr. Peabody & Sherman, also had exclusives at the three major retailers.
Walmart had the 2D Blu-ray of Mr. Peabody & Sherman packed with a plush Mr. Peabody doll. Walmart also offered a special bare-bones DVD edition.
Target offered the 2D Blu-ray packed with a bowtie and glasses, while Best Buy offered a lunch box for $4.99 with purchase of the film ($9.99 on its own).
Among other titles, Target had the first season of Paramount's "Penny Dreadful" with special Blu-ray box art, while Walmart had exclusive availability of Universal's animated movie Dive Olly Dive and the Pirate Treasure.
Fox packaged copies of its Fargo: Season One Blu-ray set with a special knit beanie cap.
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.