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Insights from home entertainment industry experts. Home Media blogs give you the inside scoop on entertainment news, DVD and Blu-ray Disc releases, and the happenings at key studios and entertainment retailers. “TK's Take” analyzes and comments on home entertainment news and trends, “Agent DVD Insider” talks fanboy entertainment, “IndieFile” delivers independent film news, “Steph Sums It Up” offers pithy opinions on the state of the industry, and “Mike’s Picks” offers bite-sized recommendations of the latest DVD and Blu-ray releases.


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30 Jun, 2015

Free 'Minion' Money


Retailers June 30 again shied away from tagging exclusive promotions to the new releases of the week. Instead, Target touted a selection of catalog DVDs and Blu-rays containing $7.50 coupons that can be applied to tickets for new movies in theaters, including Universal's animated Minions.

Best Buy touted the $7.99 promotional price for the Blu-ray of Magic Mike as part of Warner's marketing efforts for the upcoming theatrical sequel.

Best Buy also listed $8 Fandango movie coupons with select Paramount Blu-rays.

More interesting was what was missing from the weekly promotions. Target didn't list a price for the Blu-ray of Warner's Get Hard in its weekly ad, while Walmart didn't stock the Blu-ray of Lionsgate's While We're Young, which was listed as "sold out" online.


23 Jun, 2015

Summer Slowdown Yields Few Big Titles


With the calendar officially turning to summer, the June 23 release slate consisted prmarily of a handful of direct-to-video family fare and a few cult-hit cable shows.

Universal released the latest "An American Girl" movie, Grace Stirs Up Success, which came with a cooking activity book at Target.

Target also had the exclusive DVD of Thomas & Friends: Wild Water Rescue.

During the slow week, Best Buy and Target focused on promoting preorders for bigger titles coming down the pipeline, in particular Fox's Home (just released on Digital HD) and Disney/Pixar's Inside Out. Target offered a $5 gift card with disc preorders for either title.

Best Buy touted $7.50 movie coupons for Ted 2 in theaters with the purchase of select titles.

Stores also made room for the pending Friday, June 26, release of Disney's Teen Beach Movie 2. Target and Best Buy both offered it at $14.99.


22 Jun, 2015

Top 10 Favorite James Horner Scores

James Horner (1953-2015)
James Horner (1953-2015)

A good musical score can give a lot of life to a movie, but a great score can transcend the boundaries of its film to stand as a powerful work on its own.For film music fans, knowing a certain composer is attached to a project can generate tremendous interest that otherwise might not exist.

James Horner, who died in a plane crash June 22, was one of the best film composers of his or any generation.

In a career that spanned nearly four decades, Horner’s talent rested in his ability to distill the essence of a project into musical form. His music could range from epic to haunting, as adept at sweeping fanfares as quiet statements of intimate drama.

He was certainly one of my favorites when I was growing up, as his soundtracks shared a treasured space on my shelf (and still do) alongside the likes of John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, Hans Zimmer and Alan Silvestri.

Horner was never afraid to try new sounds and styles, yet his work was always distinctly his.

As one of the most prolific composers of the 1980s and 1990s, Horner worked with many of the biggest directors in Hollywood, including James Cameron, Ron Howard, Mel Gibson, Edward Zwick and Wolfgang Peterson. For Cameron, he created the music for the two biggest box office earners of all time, Avatar and Titanic.

In 1986, Horner worked with George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola to provide a rousing score for Captain EO, the famed Disney theme park attraction starring Michael Jackson. Disney revived the show in 2010 as a tribute to Jackson, but I think it can serve now as an equally effective tribute to Horner’s legacy as well.

As we take the time to reflect on his career and the great joy it brought so many of us, I wanted to share my own list of my top 10 favorite James Horner scores.

Apollo 13 (1995)

Horner’s music is a perfect fit for Ron Howard’s film version of the story of the ill-fated Apollo 13 moon mission. The score drifts between flourishes of patriotism and high tension to culminate in massively inspirational movements that, when paired with the images on the screen, will leave many a viewer hard pressed not to walk away with a tear in the corner of their eye.


Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) & Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)

I cheated a bit and linked these two together, since there is an obvious thematic link between them. Khan represents the pinnacle of Horner’s early years, highlighted by the exuberance of his youthful instincts contributing to a very nautical-sounding score that perfectly served the film’s outer space action, with dueling themes for Captain Kirk and his nemesis, Khan.

Horner rarely did sequels (he skipped The Amazing Spider-Man 2 but was set to take on the “Avatar” follow-ups), so it’s lucky he came on board to continue his contributions to the “Trek” canon. Here, Horner broke out a minor theme for Spock from Khan and made it a primary theme here, while adding new music for the Klingons.

Braveheart (1995)

For Mel Gibson’s re-creation of medieval Scotland, Horner used a lot of ethnically-appropriate instrumentation to craft a period-appropriate sound that emphasized the romance at the heart of the story.

Titanic (1997)

Horner will forever be known as the composer of James Cameron’s depiction of the doomed ocean voyage, for several reasons. It’s one of the top-selling score albums ever, it won Horner his only two Oscars, and it gave Celine Dion her signature song, “My Heart Will Go On,” which Horner (and lyricist Will Jennings) wrote on an impulse and had to convince Cameron to use it in the movie. With its wide array of instrumentation and style, the score is the perfect embodiment of Horner’s career.

Glory (1989)

Horner partnered with director Ed Zwick for this drama about black soldiers fighting for the North in the Civil War.

Field of Dreams (1989)

One of Horner’s quieter scores provides a lot of the impact for the Kevin Costner baseball drama.

The Perfect Storm (2000)

Horner returned to the ocean with a conventional arrangement that nonetheless boasts a lovely main theme and an effective underscore.

Willow (1988)

Horner delves into the world of George Lucas with the Ron Howard-directed fantasy film.

Clear and Present Danger (1994)

Horner gave the adaptation of the Tom Clancy novel a very effective action score.

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

Horner’s most notable contribution to the exploding superhero genre allowed him to establish an energetic main theme for the web-slinger to distinguish the reboot from the methodical tones written by Danny Elfman a decade earlier.


22 Jun, 2015

New on Disc: 'Magician' and more …


Magician: The Astonishing Work & Life of Orson Welles

Cohen, Documentary, B.O. $0.016 million, $24.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray, NR.
2014.
The accurate rap on Magician, including by the many to whom this brisk overview gave a good time, is its tendency toward surface skimming in dealing with a subject who directed in multiple mediums, acted, was an ubiquitous talk-show guest in his day and counted among his wives Rita Hayworth.
Extras: Includes a short interview with film historian Annette Insdorf.
Read the Full Review

Moonlighting

B2MP, Drama, $29.98 Blu-ray/DVD combo, ‘PG.’
Stars Jeremy Irons, Eugene Lipinski, Jirí Stanislav, Eugeniusz Haczkiewicz.
1982.
Jerzy Skolimowsky’s political movie involves a Polish construction crew that probably thinks it’s being offered a good deal for a London assignment but is likely getting ripped off by the party official who has hired them during the days of Solidarity.
Extras: Jeremy Irons offers intermittent commentary on this release’s alternate audio track.
Read the Full Review
 


16 Jun, 2015

'Chappie' Makes Retailers Happy

Target's 'Chappie' Steelbook
Target's 'Chappie' Steelbook

Retailers offered a few exclusives for the June 16 Blu-ray release of Sony Pictures' 'Chappie.'

Target offered the sci-fi film with a steelbook Blu-ray case.

Best Buy offered Chappie with an exclusive bonus disc containing a featuring deconstructing the action scenes with the visual effects team. Best Buy also offered a deal in which those who bought a PlayStation 4 could get the Chappie Blu-ray and a digital copy of The Order: 1886 for free.

Walmart had the exclusive DVD of the family film The Secret Handshake, starring Kevin Sorbo and Amy Grant.


9 Jun, 2015

Goodies Tailored by 'Kingsman'

Best Buy's 'Kingsman' with comic book
Best Buy's 'Kingsman' with comic book

The retail focus among the June 9 new releases was all on Fox's Kingsman: The Secret Service. The espionage actioner landed on shelves with an assortment of offers to entice consumers.

Best Buy's exclusive cornered the collectible market, offering the Kingsman Blu-ray with a pack-on version of the comic book upon which the film is based.

Walmart offered Kingsman with a free copy of the movie Chronicle, redeemable through the Vudu digital movie service.

Target offered shoppers the chance to buy a select DVD for $1 with the purchase of Kingsman. Users of Target's Cartwheel app could also save an additional 10% on the film on DVD or Blu-ray.

Among other titles, Target offered Magnolia's Serena with a bonus DVD containing cast interviews, alternate scenes and more.

Best Buy offered a selection of Universal Blu-rays with $7.50 in movie cash for Jurassic World in theaters.

Walmart offered the exclusive DVD of Thomas & Friends: Whale of a Tale & Other Sodor Adventures, which is widely available digitally.


2 Jun, 2015

'SpongeBob' Soaks Up Retail Attention


Fans of The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water had plenty of options for retail exclusives when the title hit shelves June 2.

Target offered the Sponge Out of Water Blu-ray combo pack (not 3D) with "Invincibubble" packaging and a removable bubble wand, plus free popcorn and juice at the Target Café.

Best Buy offered the Sponge 2D Blu-ray with a "SpongeBob"  beach ball, while Walmart offered the Blu-ray in a gift set with pez dispensers.

Best Buy offered a $10 gift card with the purchase of Sony Pictures' Justified: The Final Season along with any previous season. Target offered the DVD of the final season, as well as DVDs of earlier seasons, with exclusive box art.

Target also offered an exclusive steelbook edition with special artwork of the first season of HBO's True Detective.

Walmart offered early availability of the DVD of Alchemy's Welcome to Me, starring Kristen Wiig, for $12.94. The title won't be widely available until June 16.


1 Jun, 2015

New on Disc: 'Thank Your Lucky Stars' and more …


Thank Your Lucky Stars (Blu-ray)

Available via Warner Archive
Warner, Musical, $21.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Eddie Cantor, Dinah Shore, Joan Leslie, Dennis Morgan, Edward Everett Horton, S.Z. Sakall.
1943.
Thank Your Lucky Stars, from Warner, came early in the cycle of all-star musicals, and many regard it as best of the bunch.
Extras: The Blu-ray throws in some bonus extras mostly carried over from the old DVD — including one on the lives of chorus girl bit players.
Read the Full Review

Hombre (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Western, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Paul Newman, Fredric March, Richard Boone, Diane Cilento.
1967.
Paul Newman had a distressing streak of indifferent movies in the mid-1960s, but Hombre was something of a return to form.
Read the Full Review
 


26 May, 2015

Retailers Lacking Blu Focus

Where's the 'Sons of Liberty' Blu-ray at retail?
Where's the 'Sons of Liberty' Blu-ray at retail?

Slow weeks for new disc releases, such as May 26, give retailers a chance to step back and push older titles, though they also call attention to the short shrift given to new titles that aren't major hits or recipients of wide media coverage.

Other than Universal's Seventh Son, availability of some of the other new titles was spotty at the major retailers. Most of the new titles were available in some format or another, but among the brick-and-mortar stores only Best Buy offered the Blu-ray version for most of the new titles. In fact, Best Buy's weekly ad circular doesn't even list prices for new titles other than the Blu-ray version. The exception this week, strangely, was Lionsgate's Sons of Liberty, which received only a DVD mention in Best Buy's weekly ad.

Likewise, Target shelves had only the DVD version of Sons of Liberty.

Walmart, on the other hand, had only the DVD versions for most of its new releases on shelves, a disappointing trend for the top retailer of physical media. It certainly doesn't help grow the perception of Blu-ray beyond a niche, prestige format if half the potential shopping base is never exposed to the possibility of buying the Blu-ray version. There's a reason Blu-ray enthusiasts will generally steer clear of Walmart unless seeking out a specific exclusive.

Best Buy spent a lot of its ad space promoting preorders, this week focusing on Sony Pictures' Chappie with exclusive content and Paramount's The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water with an exclusive beach ball.


19 May, 2015

Retailers Aim 'Sniper' at Shoppers

Single-disc 'American Sniper' DVD at Walmart
Single-disc 'American Sniper' DVD at Walmart

Retailers offered a few modest exclusives to lure buyers of Warner's American Sniper on disc upon its release May 19.

Best Buy offered exclusive box art and the exclusive featurette "Bringing the War Home: The Cost of Heroism," available via the CinemaNow digital streaming service.

Target offered an exclusive steelbook case of the Blu-ray combo pack, while Walmart offered a single-DVD edition with special box art and no bonus features, instead of the widely available two-disc DVD special edition, which Walmart has done before on Warner titles. Again, by not offering the widely available edition, some Walmart shoppers might be picking up the DVD without ever realizing there is another version available with bonus material they might want to see at a comparable price.

Walmart's website also included the wrong box art for its exclusive DVD edition.

Target offered Orange Is the New Black: Season Two with an exclusive “Glamour in the Slammer” featurette. Best Buy offered a $10 savings with the disc purchase of both seasons of "Orange Is the New Black."

Best Buy also offered $5 pizza coupons with the purchase of select TV DVD titles, and a buy-one-get-one deal on select Blu-rays offered at $9.99 each.