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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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4 Jul, 2017

Titles Scarce, But Stores Open for 2017 Independence Day

Target's Illumination animation catalog display
Target's Illumination animation catalog display

New releases for the week were somewhat limited thanks to the typical Tuesday new-release date falling on the July 4 holiday in 2017.

The only new title available at all locations was Universal's The Zookeeper's Wife, a drama with Jessica Chastain that earned $17 million at the domestic box office.

Another title with a notable cast and director was otherwise nowhere to be found — Broad Green's Song to Song. The Terrence Malick-directed film, which stars Michael Fassbender, Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara and Natalie Portman, earned just $443,684 at the domestic box office and was available only online at the big chains. In fact, Amazon had the title listed as out of stock on its first day of release, available only through third-party Marketplace sellers.

What's more, a search for the film's title at Walmart.com automatically changes the parameter to "song to sing," which could be someone of a burden for people actually looking for the film.

Otherwise, the week was marked by a handful of sales and other promotions. Target and Best Buy kept displays promising an $8 Despicable Me 3 movie coupon with the purchase of other Illumination animated films, such as The Secret Life of Pets, Sing and, of course, the previous "Despicable Me" movies.

Stores also restocked DVDs and Blu-rays of previous seasons of "Game of Thrones" in time for the new season on HBO.

Best Buy offered a free $5 gift card with the puchase of select Blu-rays. Another deal offered two Blu-rays for $15 from a selection.


27 Jun, 2017

Plenty of Options for 'Power Rangers'

Best Buy's deluxe 'Power Rangers' Blu-ray
Best Buy's deluxe 'Power Rangers' Blu-ray

The big retailers brought out exclusive editions for the June 27 Blu-ray Disc release of Lionsgate's Power Rangers.

Best Buy offered a collector's set of the Blu-ray containing special packaging and art cards.

Target offered the Power Rangers Blu-ray in Steelbook packaging with a graphic novel.

Walmart offered the Blu-ray with a bonus disc containing a "Ranger Recon" featurette that goes on set wiht the director and cast, and a featurette about the visual effects.

Best Buy had a special $59.99 collector's set called Spider-Man: Legacy Collection containing the five films from the previous "Spider-Man" franchises in two different Steelbook cases: one for the Sam Raimi series, including Spider-Man 3: The Editor's Cut, and another for the two "The Amazing Spider-Man" films. The set also came with a $7.50 coupon to see Spider-Man: Homecoming in theaters.


20 Jun, 2017

'Showing Roots' at Walmart


Walmart has an exclusive DVD of the movie Showing Roots starring Maggie Grace and Uzo Aduba for $9.96. The film tells the story of two women who cross racial boundaries to form a friendship and fight against inequality in their small town. The DVD includes a behind-the-scenes featurette.

Sony Pictures has re-released Blu-rays and DVDs of the previous five "Spider-Man" movies to offer $7.50 coupons for a ticket to the upcoming theatrical release of Spider-Man: Homecoming. Walmart had a significant display of the titles in their discount kiosk.

Target is offering a free $5 gift card with pre-orders of Universal's The Fate of the Furious at target.com/preorder. The movie comes with a collectible clinch sack.

Other Target preorder exclusives include a Steelbook case and graphic novel with the Blu-ray of Lionsgate's Power Rangers.


19 Jun, 2017

New on Disc: 'The Ballad of Cable Hogue' and more …


The Ballad of Cable Hogue (Blu-ray)

Available via Warner Archive        
Warner; Western; $21.99 Blu-ray; ‘R.’
Stars Jason Robards, Stella Stevens, David Warner, Strother Martin, L.Q. Jones, Slim Pickens.
1970.
Director Sam Peckinpah referred to Ballad as his personal favorite in later years, and befitting its title, the movie really does play like the parable set to music that it sometimes literally is.
Extras: Included is a commentary by Nick Redman and his longtime gallery of fellow Peckinpah historians (Paul Seydor, Garner Simmons and David Weddle), plus Redman’s frank featurette interview with Stella Stevens from the earlier DVD release.
Read the Full Review

Housekeeping (Blu-ray)

All-Region Import
Indicator, Drama, $20 Blu-ray, ‘PG-13.’
Stars Christine Lahti, Sara Walker, Andrea Burchill.
1987.
It may be dominated by a character who’s batty and maybe even beyond, but from the very opening we sense that this is a movie about to get under our skins in a subliminal kind of way.
Extras: Featurettes focus on interviews with director Bill Forsyth and cinematographer Michael Coulter; There are also several essays, plus reminiscences by editor Michael Ellis and even author Marilynne Robinson, who seems to be pleased by the adaptation of her book, which was thought to be unfilmable.
Read the Full Review

 


13 Jun, 2017

Retailers Build Exclusives for 'Lego Batman Movie'

Walmart's 'Lego Batman Movie' Blu-ray lunchbox
Walmart's 'Lego Batman Movie' Blu-ray lunchbox

Several retail promotions were tied to the June 13 home video release of Warner's The Lego Batman Movie.

Walmart offered a gift set containing the Blu-ray combo pack with a lunchbox that had a cape on it.

Target offered the Blu-ray combo pack with a pack-on Batgirl mini-figure and three collectible postcards. Target also offered 15% off any "Lego Batman" product with the purchase of the film on disc.

Toys "R" Us offered the Blu-ray combo pack at $29.99 with a Batmobile Lego building set.

Best Buy offered the Blu-ray combo pack with Steelbook packaging. Best Buy also had Steelbook packaging for the Blu-ray combo pack of Lionsgate's John Wick Chapter 2.

Best Buy also offered a deluxe edition of Paramount's South Park: The Complete Twentieth Season containing the Blu-ray and exclusive 12-inch art cards.

Tied into promotions for the upcoming theatrical release of Transformers: The Last Knight, Walmart offered a $25.96 gift set containing a Blu-ray set of the first four live-action "Transformers" films on Blu-ray, plus a mini Transformers action figure.

Among the curiosities of the week, Amazon didn't have on-hand copies of the plain DVD for Lego Batman Movie, with shoppers wanting to buy a copy from the online retailer on its first day of release having to do so from a third-party marketplace seller.

Also, Fox's Table 19, a notable theatrical release starring Anna Kendrick that grossed $3.6 million at the domestic box office, wasn't offered at brick-and-mortar Best Buy and Target locations, where it was an online-only item. And Barnes & Noble offered it online at full SRP.


12 Jun, 2017

New on Disc: 'Cheech and Chong's Next Movie' and more …


Cheech and Chong’s Next Movie (Blu-ray)

Street 6/13/17
Shout! Factory, Comedy, $27.99 Blu-ray, ‘R.’
Stars Cheech Marin, Tommy Chong, Evelyn Guerrero, Paul Reubens.
1980.
This is one of the more cogent Cheech & Chong vehicles out of seven this occasionally uproarious team made in a big-screen run known for its severe downward trajectory.
Read the Full Review

Obsessions (Blu-ray)

Cult Epics, Mystery, $34.95 Blu-ray/DVD combo, NR.
Stars Alexandra Stewart, Dieter Geissler, Tom Van Beek.
1969.
For those willing to lower expectations, there’s some lukewarm kinkiness to be gleaned from this Dutch Hitchcock homage co-written by Martin Scorsese that never reached U.S. theaters despite provocative displays of supporting actress tan-lines and considerable box office success abroad.
Extras: Includes separate interviews each running about 20 minutes with director Pim de la Parra and star Dieter Geissler, who have contrasting personality styles but otherwise couldn’t possibly be more personable. There’s also a page-by-page replication of the shooting script, complete with copious Scorsese margin notes.
Read the Full Review


6 Jun, 2017

Exclusives for 'Beauty,' 'Bambi'


Retailers June 6 offered exclusive versions of Disney's Bambi: Signature Collection and live-action Beauty and the Beast.

For Beauty and the Beast, Best Buy offered exclusive Steelbook packaging with the Blu-ray combo pack. The new Bambi Blu-ray came with special lenticular box art.

Target offered special 32-page storybook packaging with the Blu-ray for both.

Walmart offered an exclusive DVD movie called You're Gonna Miss Me, starring John Schneider.

Best Buy offered a sale by which shoppers could save $5 when buying more than $25 of select titles.


30 May, 2017

Walmart Prepping for Dad's Day With Free Can Coolers

Walmart display of "Bromantic Comedies"
Walmart display of "Bromantic Comedies"

Walmart set up a display of DVDs with specially themed Father's Day packaging and a free can cooler. The guy-friendly comedies from Warner ranged from $5.96 to $9.96 and were touted with a sign that said "Celebrate Dad with these 'bromantic' comedies." Titles included Oceans 11-13, We're the Millers, Horrible Bosses 2-Film Collection, Blazing Saddles, Vacation and more. The display took up one end of the usual $9.96/$12.96 kiosk.

Best Buy offered a $5 savings with the purchase of two Blu-ray or DVD collections from a display of select titles.

FOr preorders, Best Buy is offering a Steelbook case with the Blu-ray of Disney's Beauty and the Beast, and a lenticular cover with Disney's Bambi: Signature Collection. Both titles will be released June 6.


29 May, 2017

New on Disc: 'Seven Days in May' and more …


Seven Days in May (Blu-ray)

Available via Warner Archive      
Warner, Drama, $21.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Fredric March, Ava Gardner, Edmond O’Brien.
1964.
Though plotting specifics differ markedly and sometimes in polar-opposite fashion from current headlines, you have to believe that the political time is right for a remarkably clean high-def transfer of John Frankenheimer’s Seven Days in May, which now seems more potent than it ever did.
Extras: Frankenheimer’s typically standout voiceover commentary is carried over from a previous rendering.
Read the Full Review

Broken Arrow (1950) (Blu-ray)

Kino Lorber, Western, $29.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars James Stewart, Jeff Chandler, Debra Paget, Will Geer.
1950.
Broken Arrow may not be best of the Delmer Daves Westerns, but it was his first and probably the one that comes closes to being a household name, with a story about a person trying to straddle opposed cultures — a theme unlikely, to be sure, ever to lose its topicality or relevance.
Read the Full Review

 


26 May, 2017

'Omni-channel' Retailing Still Has a Ways to Go


Our annual salute to the nation’s top home entertainment retailers is still a month away. But in my regular perusals of quarterly earnings reports, and earnings call transcripts, I’ve noticed that perhaps the most overused term in retail circles is “omni-channel,” an attempt by brick-and-mortar retailers to remain relevant — and stay in business — in a world increasingly dominated by Amazon, iTunes and other Web-only sellers.

What I’ve noticed is that while retail executives liberally toss around the “omni-channel” term and pat themselves on the backs for their efforts to bring the physical and virtual worlds together, only a few are getting it right. Among them is U.K. fashion retailer Oasis, which arms its clerks with iPads so if an item isn’t in stock, the customer can either order it on the spot or be directed to a nearby store that does have the item in stock. Another is Carrefour, a Belgian supermarket chain that lets customers scan items they want into an online shopping list and, when done, submit the order for pickup or delivery. And I absolutely love Apple’s approach, to let customers make appointments online to the “Genius Bar” in Apple stores, for quick, one-on-one customer service.

One of the silliest trends I’ve seen is the “ship to store” option, in which customers can order something online, through the retailer’s website, and then pick it up at the store. That defeats the whole purpose of online ordering — the primary reason we buy something from Amazon is because we don’t have time to go to the store, and want the merchandise delivered to our home or office. Why would I order a PlayStation 4 or a batch of Blu-ray Discs from Best Buy and then schlep on down to the store to pick the stuff up? Yes, I know, the lure is free shipping, but guess what? Amazon already offers that, and in fact shipping charges are fast disappearing in the online world. I know why retailers like the “ship to store” option: It brings customers into their stores, where hopefully they will buy something else. But that’s not thinking like a customer, is it?

Retailers also need to realize that speed is critical — and thanks to Amazon Prime we’re used to getting pretty much everything we could ever want within 48 hours. Our youngest son, Hunter, came home from ninth grade the other day and said he needed a copy of a certain book and movie ASAP. My wife drove down to the nearest Barnes & Noble to see what they had; neither book nor Blu-ray Disc was in stock. A cheerful clerk offered to order both and smiling said they’d arrive at the store in about a week. As she was relating this story to me on the phone, I was already on my Amazon app and by the time we hung up had purchased both online, with free two-day shipping. “Bad customer service,” I told Diana when she got back home. “The clerk should have said it will be there in two days and, if necessary, done the same thing I did, order it off Amazon,” I noted. Instead, I’ve got a bad taste in my mouth — and for our next school-required book or movie purchase we’re not even going to give Barnes & Noble a chance.

It’s a brutal world out there, folks. Brick-and-mortar retailers need to sharpen their survival instincts and get aggressive. And the whole concept of “omni-channel” is not so much integrating the physical and virtual retail worlds as it is streamlining the shopping process and enhancing the customer experience.