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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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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.


12 May, 2015

Retailers Stimulate 'Grey' Matter

Target's 'Fifty Shades of Grey' gift set
Target's 'Fifty Shades of Grey' gift set

As Universal's Fifty Shades of Grey entered its first full week, retailers continued to make it their top promotional focus even among the May 12 new releases.

Best Buy offered a steelbook case with the Fifty Shades Blu-ray combo pack, while Target presented a deluxe-edition Blu-ray gift set with 30 minutes of additional bonus content and a journal and pen set. Target also had a Blu-ray combo pack with just the 30-minutes of exclusive extras without the journal.

Walmart had the Fifty Shades combo pack with an exclusive photo book and box art.


11 May, 2015

New on Disc: 'Mr. Turner' and more …


Mr. Turner

Sony Pictures, Drama, $30.99 DVD, $34.99 Blu-ray, ‘R’ for some sexual content.
Stars Timothy Spall, Paul Jesson, Dorothy Atkinson.
2014.
Director Mike Leigh’s portrait of the now revered 19th-century artist J.M.W. Turner really has it all: full-blooded characters, the grunt work of artistry, social life among the upper classes, peer rivalries and political considerations.
Extras: One of the delights of Leigh’s hugely informative feature-length commentary is hearing him talk about his abundant stock company stretching many movies back.
Read the Full Review

42nd Street (Blu-ray)

Available via Warner Archive
Warner, Musical, $21.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Warner Baxter, Bebe Daniels, George Brent, Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell.
1933.
The movie that established Busby Berkeley as a major force is just what one would hope a pioneer Depression-grounded movie would look like in the modern home viewing era.
Extras: Includes a “Merrie Melodie” spoof carried over from the DVD and a newly produced featurette that traces the film’s origins and production.
Read the Full Review
 


21 Apr, 2015

'Taken' Leads Slow Week


Fox’s Taken 3 may as well have been the only notable new release as far as the retailers were concerned April 21, which might be why the weekly ad circulars were more focused on selling catalog titles and promoting preorders for future hits.

While Taken 3 didn’t come with any retail exclusives, Best Buy did push its Blu-ray preorder for Warner’s American Sniper by offering exclusive bonus content when the title arrives May 19.

Target is offering a $5 gift card with preorders for Cinderella, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water and Paddington at Target.com/preorder.


20 Apr, 2015

New on Disc: 'Imitation of Life' and more …


Imitation of Life: 2-Movie Collection (Blu-ray)

Universal, Drama, $26.98 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Claudette Colbert, Warren William, Louise Beavers, Lana Turner, Juanita Moore, Susan Kohner.

1934/1959. The lush 1959 remake of the Fannie Hurst perennial is so revered by Douglas Sirk worshippers that the not insignificant power of the ’34 John Stahl original tends to be obscured.
Read the Full Review

Singles (Blu-ray)

Warner, Comedy, $19.98 Blu-ray, ‘PG-13’ for language, sex related dialogue and scenes of sensuality.
Stars Bridget Fonda, Campbell Scott, Kyra Sedgwick, Matt Dillon.
1992.
Even some people who love 1989’s Say Anything and 1996’s Jerry Maguire may be unfamiliar with the easygoing charmer that writer-director Cameron Crowe sandwiched between them.
Read the Full Review
 


14 Apr, 2015

New 'Batman' Brings Deals


As is typical for DC Universe animated movie releases, Batman vs. Robin arrived April 14 with several retail exclusives.

However, the pattern usually associated with exclusives surrounding the DC titles changed slightly. First, Warner offered a wide-release version of a Blu-ray gift pack with a character figurine, usually reserved for a Best Buy exclusive. As a result, Best Buy spruced up its version of the gift pack, offering a Digital HD copy of Batman: Under the Red Hood and a digital comic book of Batman #1.

Target offered the Blu-ray combo pack in a steelbook case, while Walmart, which usually offers a DVD special edition of such titles, had no exclusive.

Target also touted preorders for American Sniper at Target.com/preorder, offering a Blu-ray steelbook case and a guarantee for guests to pay a lower price if the cost drops before the title is released.


13 Apr, 2015

New on Disc: 'The Thin Blue Line' and more …


The Thin Blue Line

Criterion, Documentary, $29.95 DVD, $39.95 Blu-ray, NR.
1988.
The prodigious list of amazing things about Errol Morris’ landmark miscarried-justice buster includes the fact that it got made in the first place, looking into the case of an Ohio drifter apparently railroaded for the murder of a Dallas cop that a teenaged walking rap sheet had almost certainly committed. About a year after Blue Line’s release, the state of Texas dropped charges against Randall Dale Adams and released him. The print here is one of renewed luster, and this is its own reward because it’s been said that the documentary had fallen into sad shape.
Extras: As we see and hear Morris himself quote his wife as having noted during the essential 40-minute interview featurette that Criterion has included with its Blue Line package, entire cable stations are now devoted to the kind of projects that he worked so exhaustingly to bankroll a quarter-century ago. Included in the extras is a “Today” show joint satellite interview with Morris in one studio and Adams plus lawyer in another. Blue Line was a true groundbreaker, something attested to with vigor on another bonus extra by filmmaker Josh Oppenheimer, whose The Act of Killing received its own huzzahs a couple years ago.
Read the Full Review

The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry

Olive, Drama, $24.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars George Sanders, Ella Raines, Geraldine Fitzgerald.
1945.
Given the censorship strictures of the time, Harry’s compelling narrative does paint itself into such a corner that it’s no surprise that five different endings got market-tested before Universal settled on the notorious end result. Which is: probably the worst wrap-up ever for a movie that is still basically a winner up until the final three or four minutes.
Read the Full Review
 


6 Apr, 2015

New on Disc: 'Ride the Pink Horse' and more …


Ride the Pink Horse

Criterion, Mystery, $29.95 DVD, $39.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Robert Montgomery, Wanda Hendrix, Thomas Gomez, Fred Clark.
1947.
An oddly beguiling genre scrambler that goes against a slew of grains, this cultist cause seems to have been worthily undertaken by Criterion (even more than most of their selections) to make it more widely known to the general public.
Extras: Criterion extras include an essay, commentary by ubiquitous noir pros Alain Silver and James Ursini; an interview with Imogen Sara Smith (author of In Lonely Places: Film Noir Beyond the City); and a Lux Radio Theatre spinoff.
Read the Full Review

Our Mother’s House

Available via Warner Archive
Warner, Drama, $21.99 DVD, NR.
Stars Dirk Bogarde, Pamela Franklin.
1967.
The boozy Brit womanizer top-billed Dirk Bogarde plays here is a textbook definition of a fun-to-watch wastrel, but by the time he shows up almost 40 minutes in to add some welcome buzz to the drama, we’ve already been treated to a compelling-enough setup involving seven siblings forced to take their lives into their own hands.
Read the Full Review
 


31 Mar, 2015

Retailers Blast Off With 'Interstellar' Exclusives

Walmart's 'Interstellar' gift set
Walmart's 'Interstellar' gift set

The only March 31 release with any notable exclusive promotion at the major retail chains was Paramount’s Interstellar.

Walmart offered a special gift set of the Christopher Nolan-directed sci-fi film, containing special packaging and a 48-page booklet.
Target offered exclusive steelbook packaging, while Best Buy offered exclusive bonus content — a half-hour panel discussion with Nolan and the cast.

New Blu-ray copies of the film at all locations included a special collectible Imax film cel containing a scene from the film.