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Target's 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' exclusive set
Any momentum films might have coming after the Oscars will be completely overshadowed by the Friday, March 7, arrival of Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. The top-grossing film at the domestic box office from 2013 is receiving huge retail attention and arrives with a variety of exclusives from which consumers can choose.
Walmart is offering special DVD ($19.96) and Blu-ray ($24.96) double features containing Catching Fire with the first film, in addition to standalone copies of the sequel.
Helping to promote the Catching Fire home video release, several Walmarts will host stars from the film at fan events starting at 11 p.m. local time March 6. Actress Willow Shields (who plays Primrose Everdeen in the films) will at a Walmart in Orange, Calif.; Meta Golding (Enobaria) and Bruno Gunn (Brutus) will be at a Walmart in Elgin, Ill.; Stephanie Leigh Schlund (Cashmere) and Lynn Cohen (Mags) will appear at a Walmart in Secaucus, N.j.
Best Buy offers Catching Fire with a collectible Blu-ray steelbook case for $22.99, in addition to an en exclusive steelbook of the first film for $17.99. Cost is $27.99 for both when purchased together. The purchase of either steelbook includes $8 in Fandango cash for a ticket to the new film Divergent in theaters.
Target offers the Catching Fire Blu-ray with a bonus disc containing 45 minutes of exclusive extras, as well as a collectible booklet for $22.99. The first film is available for $11 on DVD and $13 on Blu-ray.
Target is also gearing up for the upcoming theatrical release of Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, with endcap displays of new “Captain America” toys in the toy aisle, complete with DVDs of the first film.
Criterion, Thriller, $39.95 Blu-ray/DVD combo, NR.
Stars Joel McCrea, Laraine Day, Herbert Marshall, Albert Basserman.
1940. Joel McCrea plays an ordinary guy typical of Alfred Hitchcock films getting tossed and turned by unexpected intrigue and a polished smoothie (Herbert Marshall) who’s perpetrating it. Plus, the film has a pre-WWII call-to-arms speech that’s a lot less subtle than the rest. Foreign Correspondent was among the classier American features to get an early TV release, but was frequently exhibited via worn prints. Criterion has given the movie a new 2K restoration, and it looks better than I’ve ever seen it.
Extras: One of the typically bountiful Criterion extras is an interview with writer and film historian Mark Harris about the ways in which Hollywood contributed to the wartime propaganda effort. The other main extra is a new piece on the film’s special effects. There’s also a written essay by film scholar James Naremore, a 1942 Life war-related photo essay by Hitchcock, a 1946 radio adaptation of this yarn with Joseph Cotten, and Hitchcock’s 1972 appearance on “The Dick Cavett Show.”
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Available via Warner Archive
HBO, Documentary, $17.95 DVD, NR.
2013. This HBO documentary is a two-pronged affair that deals first with Marty Glickman’s own success as an athlete — he was a brilliant runner who got shafted out of appearing in the Hitler-hosted 1936 Olympics in Berlin — with the Olympics experience as a climactic bitter pill, and then as the storied announcer (he coined the term “swish”) for the New York Knicks, New York Giants and New York Jets. Several household names appear in interviews to praise him.
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Target's 'Thor: The Dark World' Loki Cover
Each of the major retail chains offered its own exclusive promotion for Disney’s Thor: The Dark World Blu-ray release.
Best Buy offered the 3D combo pack with a steelbook case. Target offered the 3D edition with an exclusive Loki slipcover, as well as a one-month free trial subscription to the Marvel Unlimited service, which offers access to more than 13,000 digital comic books. Walmart offered an exclusive Loki featurette watchable through its Vudu streaming service.
The Walmart promotion indicated it was available with the 3D combo pack, although the stickers touting it were on the regular single-disc Blu-rays (not that it mattered; the code to access the featurette was on the sticker, not inside the package).
Amazon offered exclusive Thor: The Dark World featurettes with its digital edition of the film.
The other big film released during the week, Warner’s Gravity, didn’t offer much in the way of exclusives, although Walmart had the DVD with special box art.
Walmart also had the first volume of Warner’s “Teen Titans Go!” on DVD a week before its March 4 street date, offered at $12.96.
Best Buy's 'Game of Thrones' covers
A light week of new releases Feb. 18 offered almost no new theatricals on disc, with the biggest title being HBO’s third-season Blu-ray and DVD of “Game of Thrones.”
Target offered the Blu-ray with a bonus disc containing 90 minutes of exclusive content, including interviews with cast members and author George R. R. Martin, who wrote the books upon which the series is based. Target also touted paperbacks of Martin’s “Thrones’ books.
Best Buy offered a choice of three exclusive Blu-ray covers, each bearing the sigil of one of the families fighting for power on the show. Best Buy also offered a $50 savings off an HTC One with two-year activation, with the purchase of the third-season of “Game of Thrones.”
It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (Blu-ray)
Criterion, Comedy, $49.95 Blu-ray/DVD combo, NR.
Stars Spencer Tracy, Jonathan Winters, Ethel Merman, Milton Berle, Dorothy Provine, Sid Caesar, Phil Silvers, Mickey Rooney, Buddy Hackett, Terry-Thomas, Edie Adams, Dick Shawn, Jim Backus, Peter Falk, Jimmy Durante, Buster Keaton.
1963. Criterion’s release is the second attempt to piece together what remains of scrapped footage into something resembling the original road-show cut. Overall, I prefer the more-common shorter version (which also is included), but it’s still a treat to see what was cut.
Criterion has gone all out with this one: three standard DVDs for both versions of the film and copious extras plus two Blu-rays that replicate the same material.
To go along with its A-team cast, Criterion has assembled a gang of bonus-section backgrounder personnel. Lou Lumenick nails it when he says that “part of the genius” of the movie “is that while each of the main stars is given plenty of room to do his or her own thing, they also come together brilliantly as a team.”
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Sony Pictures, Drama, B.O. $1.35 million, $40.99 Blu-ray/DVD combo, ‘PG’ for thematic elements, brief mild language and smoking.
In Arabic with English subtitles.
Stars Waad Mohammed, Reem Abdullah.
2013. The irrepressible 10-year-old Saudi Arabian sass-giver here longs to own a bicycle. So she rebels against everyone who says that bikes are only for boys — something akin, perhaps, to what writer-director Haifaa Al Mansour must have done as well because this is the first feature film made by a Saudi female. This is another of those releases where the production’s backstory rivals what’s on screen.
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Walmart's 'Jungle Book' with lunch bag
Retailers trotted out the goodies to encourage shoppers to come to their stores to pick up the new “Diamond Edition” of Disney’s The Jungle Book.
Best Buy offered a free Jungle Book twist-drum toy, valued at $5, with purchase of the film. Walmart offered the Blu-ray combo pack of The Jungle Book with a lunch bag. And Target offered the Blu-ray of the Disney classic packed with a storybook and CD.
Target also had an endcap display of Lionsgate DVDs such as The Hunger Games and the “Twilight” movies with $8 Fandango coupons for a theatrical ticket to Divergent.
In Walmart’s new-release section, one slot was devoted to cards for a Vudu purchase of Thor: The Dark World, touting immediate digital availability of the film (as opposed to the Feb. 25 Blu-ray and DVD release). Walmart also had the Beware the Batman Vol. 1 DVD a week early.
Best Buy offered a collectible Blu-ray steelbook case and a free LED keychain with preorders of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, due March 7.
Best Buy's 'Justice League: War' with figurine
Animated superhero movies are the perfect fodder for retail exclusives, so it’s not surprising that Warner’s Justice League: War would attract major promotional attention from the three big chains.
Best Buy offered an exclusive edition of the Blu-ray combo pack with a limited-edition Superman figurine, priced at $1 more than the regular edition. Target offered Justice League: War in steelbook packaging, while Walmart had early availability of a two-DVD limited edition version that won’t be widely available until March 18.
Walmart also offered a DVD version of Fox’s Free Birds with no extras for $14.96. This is especially interesting considering the only extra listed on the regular $19.96 DVD is a music video.
In addition, Walmart had exclusive availability of a family film called My Dog the Champion from Anchor Bay.
Lionsgate’s Escape Plan was offered at Target on DVD for just $10, part of a sale featuring many recent DVDs at the same price, including Captain Phillips, Fast & Furious 6 and Man of Steel.
Walmart's 'Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2' lunchbox packaging
New releases are starting to rain down like meatballs, and with them a plethora of retail exclusives from which to choose.
Those shopping for Sony Pictures’ Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 had plenty of choices from the major retailers. Best Buy offered the Blu-ray of the film with a Barry Strawberry plush toy. Walmart gave away a Cloudy 2 lunch box. And Target packed the Blu-ray with a bonus disc containing an “All Access at Cloudy Labs” behind-the-scenes featurette.
Target also offered a coupon for a free popcorn and soda at the Target Café with a Cloudy 2 purchase.
The other big title in terms of goodies was Paramount’s Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa. Best Buy included a bonus disc containing an “Origin of Bad Grandpa” featurette with a new Johnny Knoxville interview, and offered DVDs of the first two “Jackass” films for $2.99 each with purchase of the new film. Target packed the Blu-ray with a bottle opener. And Walmart offered a DVD two-pack of the new film with Jackass 3, as well as an exclusive version of the standalone DVD with a digital copy.
Target is also taking preorders for the Blu-ray combo pack of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (due March 7), offering a bonus disc with 45 minutes of exclusive content and a free fabric poster valued at $9.99.
Disney's 'Cloud 9' DVD is available exclusively at Walmart
Walmart Jan. 21 had exclusive availability of the Disney Channel original snowboarding movie Cloud 9 just a few days after its Jan. 17 premiere. The Disney DVD was priced at $14.96.
Best Buy offered Sony Pictures’ Captain Phillips Blu-ray combo pack with exclusive steelbook packaging at the same price as the regular Blu-ray combo pack ($24.99).
In addition, some Best Buy stores offered a “Reward Yourself” deep-discount display touting DVDs for as low as $2.99 and Blu-rays for $4.99.
Target had exclusive availability of JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time, a new animated movie from Warner Home Video featuring Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the other members of the Justice League fighting an evil scheme by the Legion of Doom. Target listed the title at $12.99.
Curiously, while Target listed Sony Pictures’ Blue Jasmine Blu-ray in its weekly ad circular, a couple of stores in the Southern California area only put the DVD version on shelves.
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (Blu-ray)
Fox, Fantasy, $24.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Gene Tierney, Rex Harrison, George Sanders.
1947. Lovely, and that’s really the word for it, Ghost was one of the handful of movies directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz that he didn’t script, though the screenwriter, Philip Dunne, was first-rate (he of How Green Was My Valley and Kiss of Death). But this very affecting movie is pretty well made by Bernard Herrmann’s score, which is one of his best. Rex Harrison plays a deceased sea captain who is rumored to be hanging around as a spirit in the seaside cottage he formerly owned. This is indeed true, as the widow who rents the place (Gene Tierney) is soon to learn. A subsidiary character (very small role) is Tierney’s character’s daughter played by Natalie Wood, whose breakthrough child role in Miracle on 34th Street hit screens the very same month.
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Docurama, Documentary, B.O. $0.02 million, $29.95 DVD, NR.
2013. Documentarian Penny Lane’s political-junkie catnip, which offers an irresistible look at Richard Nixon’s presidency up to April 30, 1973, couldn’t even exist without a couple miracles (or at least highly unusual occurrences). First of all, there are the famous Nixon White House tapes, which provide a significant amount of the audio. As for the visuals here, they only exist because White House Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman and fellow senior officials John Erlichman and Dwight Chapin were home-movie addicts in the pre-video days. After Haldeman and domestic affairs chief Erlichman resigned on April 30, the home movies (and thus this documentary) stop, but there are moments just in what’s captured that qualify as privileged. Nixon has often been called the gift that keeps on giving, and so are Nixon documentaries.
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