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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 Mar, 2010

Making a Squeak at Retail

Target's <i>Sherlock Holmes</i> with comic
Target's <i>Sherlock Holmes</i> with comic

March 30 saw the release of two $200-million hits to disc, with Sherlock Holmes and Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel generating considerable retail interest. But both titles were rather light in the exclusive content department.

Those who bought the Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel Blu-ray at Best Buy could get Alvin and Brittany beanie babies for $2.99 each. On their own, the dolls were $6.99 apiece.

At Target, fans could get an exclusive deluxe edition of Sherlock Holmes that had a limited-edition cover and a collectible comic book, a re-creation of the comic used to pitch the movie to the studio.

A lot of the promotions for the week were centered on the Disney’s new “Un-Anniversary Edition” of the animated Alice in Wonderland, a title the studio’s home entertainment department kept under the radar in terms of press promotions.

Barnes & Noble, which remains among the most overpriced retailers despite a nominal percentage discount on new titles, was nonetheless one of the few stores to display details for a sweepstakes for Alice in Wonderland for the ultimate play home. Details are available at DisneyMovieRewards.com/Alice.

Best Buy offered a savings of $6 with the purchase of two select Disney hits on DVD, or $15 off two on Blu-ray. And Target had a display of such recent DVDs as The Princess and the Frog and Ponyo listed at $13.99 and tagged as “Fresh-Picked DVD Hits for Kids.”

Target also extended through May 1 its offer of a $5 gift card with purchase of The Twilight Saga: New Moon with Twilight in Forks, Astro Boy or Bandslam.

A Wal-Mart in Long Beach, Calif., had an interesting display piece. A display shelf of new releases carried a large sign touting the titles as $24.96, yet none of the DVDs on the shelves were more than $20. (The “Toy Story” Blu-rays were $24.96, but the spaces for them were empty).



29 Mar, 2010

New on Disc: 'An Education,' 'Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel' and more …


An Education

Street 3/30
Sony Pictures, Drama, B.O. $12.5 million, $28.96 DVD, $38.96 Blu-ray, ‘PG-13’ for mature thematic material involving sexual content, and for smoking.
Stars Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard, Emma Thompson, Alfred Molina, Dominic Cooper, Rosamund Pike.
2009.
The core story is a good one, about  a 16-year-old (most deserving Oscar nominee Carey Mulligan) being swept off her feet by a thirtysomething man of mystery (Peter Sarsgaard), who is not what he seems.
Extras: The bonus featurettes are the usual back-patting boilerplate, though I liked getting the chance to see screenwriter Nick Hornby. The deleted scenes, which include what appears to be an alternate ending, are well above average.
Read the Full Review

Mad Men: Season Three

Lionsgate, Drama, $49.98 four-DVD set, $49.99 three-disc Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, January Jones, Vincent Kartheiser, Christina Hendricks, John Slattery.
2009.
Along with “The Colgate Comedy Hour” in the 1950s and “Later With Bob Costas” in the 1980s, “Mad Men” is my favorite TV show of all time. This season of the 1960s ad agency drama puts into motion plot points that were subtly seeded in previous years.
Extras: In addition to some period documentaries (including one on civil rights figure Medgar Evers and another on cigarette advertising), every episode offers group commentary by cast or crew members.
Read the Full Review

Collateral (Blu-ray)

Street 3/30
Paramount, Thriller, $29.99 Blu-ray, ‘R’ for violence and language.
Stars Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett Smith, Mark Ruffalo.
2004.
It now seems this underrated drama of a professional hit man and a hostage L.A. cabbie trekking him to nocturnal “appointments” represents some kind of recent peak for both Tom Cruise and director Michael Mann. Collateral was shot in high-def video, then kind of a novelty, and its rough, occasionally grainy look transfers effectively to Blu-ray as one of the best movies I know to convey “night.”
Read the Full Review

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel

Street 3/30
Fox, Comedy, B.O. $218.7 million, $29.98 DVD, $34.98 two-DVD set, $39.99 Blu-ray, ‘PG’ for some mild rude humor.
Stars Jason Lee, David Cross, Zachary Levi, Wendie Malick. Voices of Justin Long, Christina Applegate, Jesse McCartney, Amy Poehler, Anna Faris.
2009.
This isn’t exactly a conventional “pick,” but it does provide an opportunity to reflect on just how amazingly long the Chipmunks have been with us.
Extras: The costlier DVD/Blu-ray Squeak-Along editions predictably milk it some with added featurettes.
Read the Full Review

Wyatt Earp (American Experience)

PBS, Documentary, $24.99 DVD, NR.
2009.
At 60 minutes, it’s short for an “American Experience,” but a lot is packed in. You can’t make this kind of stuff up, even though a lot of Hollywood movies based on the Old West lawman concocted material that wasn’t this interesting.
Read the Full Review


23 Mar, 2010

Goats, Toys and Wolf Boys

<i>New Moon</i> Exclusives
<i>New Moon</i> Exclusives

A busy March got a bit busier March 23, with several hit films arriving on disc. This comes in the wake of a busy slate the week before, and of course the March 20 event known as the release of The Twilight Saga: New Moon.

New Moon exclusives were plentiful. Best Buy had steelbook packaging. Target had a bonus disc with deleted scenes and more featurettes. Wal-Mart offered a bonus disc with a preview of The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, and more featurettes. Borders had special packaging with a collectible medallion, and Barnes & Noble offered a dreamcatcher bag clip.

Stores also offered savings on purchasing New Moon with other Summit titles — Twilight in Forks, Astro Boy and Bandslam. Target gave a $5 gift card with purchase of New Moon with one of the other three, while Best Buy offered a $5 savings with the additional purchase of one, $10 off two, and $16 off New Moon with purchase of all three.

As far as goodies for other titles, Best Buy had a goat bobblehead with The Men Who Stare at Goats. And both Best Buy and Target gave $10 in savings with the purchase of both “Toy Story” Blu-rays. Target also had an exclusive “Toy Story” DVD-ROM game.

Target also has the exclusive distribution of the Law & Order UK: Season One DVD set, which it is selling at $26.99. This is the British version of the long-running American legal drama and stars Jamie Bamber of "Battlestar Galactica."


22 Mar, 2010

New on Disc: 'The African Queen,' 'The T.A.M.I. Show' and more …


The African Queen

Street 3/23
Paramount, Adventure, $25.99 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray, $50.99 DVD Boxed Set, $57.99 Blu-ray Boxed set, NR.
Stars Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn, Robert Morley.
1951.
The easy verdict is that director John Huston’s adaptation of C.S. Forester’s novel has never looked anything close to as great as it looks now (especially on Blu-ray).
Extras: The hour-long documentary is outstanding. The pricier boxed sets include a reprint of Hepburn’s popular memoir The Making of the African Queen, as well as a 1951 Lux Radio
Theatre broadcast of Forester’s yarn.
Read the Full Review

The T.A.M.I. Show: Collector’s Edition

Street 3/23
Shout! Factory, Music, $19.93 DVD, NR.
Featuring The Rolling Stones, The Supremes, James Brown.
1964.
Serving up two hours of sheer exuberance, The T.A.M.I. Show is among my favorite movies ever. It captures so many performers at their peak and certainly in their youth.
Extras: The commentary by director Steve Binder and music historian Don Waller is packed with info. Filmmaker John Landis, in an enthusiastic voiceover with the movie’s original trailer, informs us that he was at the actual concert as a teenager.
Read the Full Review

Days of Heaven

Street 3/23
Criterion, Drama, $39.95 Blu-ray, ‘PG.’
Stars Richard Gere, Sam Shepard, Brooke Adams.
1978.
Seeing director Terrence Malick’s pastoral masterpiece on Blu-ray is the same kind of event it’ll presumably be when the recent restoration of The Red Shoes makes it to home release.
Extras: The Blu-ray basically replicates Criterion’s 2007 standard DVD, though adds a DTS-HD master audio soundtrack to make it even more visceral — the word cast member Sam Shepard uses to describe the movie in the first place on one of several outstanding extras.
Read the Full Review

Bigger Than Life

Street 3/23
Criterion, Drama, $39.95 DVD or Blu-ray, NR.
Stars James Mason, Barbara Rush, Walter Matthau.
1956.
The first movie I know to deal with a prescription drug nightmare in the suburbs.
Extras:  Typically savvy for Criterion, with commentary by critic Geoff Andrew, a 1977 interview with director Nicholas Ray, a new interview with the director’s widow and more retrospectives.
Read the Full Review

Super Bowl XLIV Champions: New Orleans Saints

Warner, Sports, $24.98 DVD, $34.99 Blu-ray, NR.
2010.
These overviews are generally as interesting as the season was. Novelist Anne Rice even appears early on.
Extras: The Super Bowl halftime show featuring The Who.
Read the Full Review

 


19 Mar, 2010

Fess Parker: A Class Act

Fess Parker
Fess Parker

Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to interview many stars from the golden years of Hollywood, and they exhibit a class that you often don’t see in the Hollywood set anymore.

In June 2006, I had the pleasure of interviewing Fess Parker, star of the “Davy Crockett” and “Daniel Boone” series. Sadly, he passed away March 18.

Parker gleefully recalled the title tune from the “Daniel Boone” series, joining former co-star Ed Ames.

“Daniel Boone was a man. He was a BIG man,” they belted in announcing the video release of the series.

Parker had invited stars of the series, a cadre of press members and fans to his Doubletree Resort in Santa Barbara, Calif., to celebrate and kick off “Boone” on DVD. We visited with his family and took a tour of his vineyard.

Parker was delighted to help preserve the series for fans on disc, and like so many of the classic film and TV stars, relished promoting his work.

It was a pleasant experience, and one I will never forget — like the day in 1994 I interviewed Gene Kelly, since passed, and listened to him gleefully grouse about “the suits” at the studios who had given him such a hard time (meanwhile he was sharing more than half his day with a group of reporters just to push the release of That’s Entertainment III on home video). At the same event, I met Cyd Charisse, another legend since passed, who looked as glamorous that day as when she first graced the screen dancing with Kelly.

They will all be sorely missed.
 


17 Mar, 2010

A Guide to 'New Moon' Exclusives


The Twilight Saga: New Moon hits stores March 20 at midnight, and some retailers are staying open late Friday night so dedicated fans can be among the first to get a copy. Here's a handy guide detailing where to go for retailer exclusives and the best price.

Title: The Twilight Saga: New Moon
Street Date:
March 20, 2010
Distributor: Summit Entertainment
List Price: $32.99 DVD, $34.99 Blu-ray
Extras: The regular edition includes commentary, a behind-the-scenes documentary and four music videos

Also due March 20 is the companion DVD Twilight in Forks: The Saga of the Real Town, which lists at $19.99.

The guide is based on online promotions and the weekly ad circulars of some retailers. Prices may vary.


Amazon.com

Regular Edition: $16.99 DVD, $19.99 Blu-ray
Twilight in Forks: $9.99
 

 


Best Buy

BestBuy.com

Regular Edition: $19.99 DVD, $24.99 Blu-ray; Doorbuster price (midnight sales): $16.99 DVD, $21.99 BD
Steelbook edition w/cell phone skins: $24.99 DVD, $29.99 BD; Doorbuster price: $19.99 DVD, $24.99 BD
Twilight in Forks: $14.99


Target

Target.com

Regular Edition: $16.99 DVD, $19.99 Blu-ray;
Target-exclusive Deluxe Edition (extra featurettes, deleted scenes): $19.99 DVD, $24.99 BD;
Twilight in Forks: $9.99;
$5 gift card when New Moon DVD or BD is purchased with Twilight in Forks, Astro Boy or Bandslam


Wal-Mart

Walmart.com
(prices reflect online listing)

Regular Edition: $17 DVD, $19.96 Blu-ray;
Ultimate Fan Edition (Eclipse preview): $24.96 DVD, $29.96 BD;
Twilight in Forks: $12.86
Gift pack of regular New Moon DVD w/Twilight in Forks: $29.96


Barnes & Noble

BN.com
(prices reflect online listing)

Regular Edition: $23.09 DVD, $27.99 Blu-ray
Barnes & Noble version with collectible dreamcatcher bag clip: $27.19 DVD, $39.99 BD
Twilight in Forks: $15.99


Borders

Borders.com
(prices reflect online listing)

Regular Edition: $22.99 DVD, $24.99 Blu-ray
Borders exclusive with medallion: $29.99 DVD
Twilight in Forks: $16.99


Toys R Us

ToysRUs.com
(prices reflect online listing)

Regular Edition: $24.99 DVD, $29.99 Blu-ray


F.Y.E.
(Trans World, Suncoast)

fye.com

Regular Edition: $22.99 DVD, $27.99 Blu-ray
Twilight in Forks: $12.99


Fry's Electronics

frys.com

Regular Edition: $24.99 DVD, $29.99 Blu-ray
Twilight in Forks: $14.99


DVDEmpire.com

Regular Edition: $26.06 DVD, $27.99 Blu-ray


Hastings

GoHastings.com

Regular Edition: $24.99 DVD, $29.99 Blu-ray
Twilight in Forks: $11.99


16 Mar, 2010

‘Frog’ Gets Push as Retailers Await ‘New Moon’

<i>The Princess and the Frog</i> with Best Buy's guide book
<i>The Princess and the Frog</i> with Best Buy's guide book

Among the several decent titles released March 16, most retailers focused their attention on the latest Disney animated flick, The Princess and the Frog. Casting a shadow over the day, however, was the impending release of The Twilight Saga: New Moon, due at midnight on March 20, with several retailers showing off promotional displays days in advance.

The major Frog exclusives could be found at Best Buy and Target, and both stores linked their promotion to the purchase of either the single-disc or combo-pack Blu-ray version of the film.

Best Buy offered an Essential Guide book with purchase of The Princess and the Frog, while Target offered a coin purse embroidered with the film’s logo. Target also sold a Princess Tiana doll for $24.99.

Barnes & Noble gave customers $6 savings with the purchase of any version of the film and its CD soundtrack (offered at $16.99).

Timed to the Frog release, Best Buy also offered at $9.99 such Disney favorites as Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, Bedknobs & Broomsticks, Pete’s Dragon, Tarzan and Hercules, all packed with a coloring book and sticker sheets.

Otherwise, retailers were already heavily promoting their New Moon deals. Best Buy even offered discounts on the DVD and Blu-ray for those customers who showed up for special midnight sales Friday night. (See our retail guide to New Moon here).

A Target in Santa Ana, Calif., devoted half a wall in its DVD department to displaying “Twilight” merchandise, from books to toys to puzzles and discs of the first movie.

Target also had a promotion offering a $5 gift card with the purchase of any version of New Moon with any version of Astro Boy, Bandslam or Twilight in Forks, all from Summit Entertainment. Curiously, the shelf card touting the deal indicated it was valid from March 16-20, even though New Moon wouldn’t be available until the last day.

Target's "Twilight" Section

 


15 Mar, 2010

New on Disc: 'Broken Embraces' and more ...


Broken Embraces

Street 3/16
Sony Pictures, Drama, B.O. $4.7 million, $28.96 DVD, $34.95 Blu-ray, ‘R’ for sexual content, language and some drug material.
Stars Penélope Cruz, Lluis Homar, Bianca Portillo.
2009.
Taken as a brief for the rarified view that cinema is life’s highest calling, here’s one of the stronger arguments, given what happens to its blinded filmmaker protagonist, for the sanctity of the “director’s cut.” Simply calling it a reasonably good time falls a tad short because the portions that Penélope Cruz dominates are pretty potent.
Extras: A Variety Q&A with Cruz, a short film by director Pedro Almodóvar, deleted scenes and some red carpet material from last fall’s New York Film Festival.
Read the Full Review

The Brothers Warner

Warner, Documentary, $19.98 DVD, NR.
2008.
To paraphrase Calvin Coolidge, the business of this documentary is business, which is why the limited utilization of classic Warner Bros. scenes isn’t a problem here. This one is about blood kin. And, at least figuratively speaking, blood.
Read the Full Review

Paris

MPI, Drama, $19.98 DVD; $29.98 Blu-ray, ‘R’ for language and some sexual references. In French with English subtitles.
Stars Juliette Binoche, Romain Duris, Fabrice Luchini.
2009.
The story undeniably takes place in one of the world’s photographic cities, and the DVD had a richer sound mix than I expected (which can pull you into the action in subliminal ways). Oscar winner Juliette Binoche is merely the best-known name in a large cast, deglamorized to play a no-frills social worker and single mom whose dancer brother (Romain Duris) needs a heart transplant.
Extras: Minor making-of and background featurettes.
Read the Full Review

Building Alaska

PBS, Documentary, $24.99 DVD, Unrated
2009.
Putting politics aside, you can’t find a more apt keyword for this 87-minute documentary to have in its title than “building.” So much of it deals with primitive highways, railroads, bridges and trestles — all constructed over land that tends to buckle some due to seasonal weather change.
Read the Full Review

Gambit

Available Now via Amazon.com CreateSpace
Universal, Comedy, $19.98 DVD, NR.
Stars Shirley MacLaine, Michael Caine, Herbert Lom.
1966.
Gambit was never more than agreeable fluff, but agreeable easily trumps disagreeable, right? The plot hinges on the physical resemblance of a Eurasian nightclub entertainer (Shirley MacLaine) to the dead wife of an Arab multimillionaire played by (longtime Inspector Clouseau nemesis) Herbert Lom. The Amazon print is a little grainier than I’d like, but I think this is due less to it being an on-demand DVD-R than the fact that Gambit was shot in cost-cutting Techniscope, whose inherent grain was better suited to Sergio Leone Westerns than escapist comedies. But this is still a handsome couple hours of entertainment, having earned Oscar nominations for costumes and art/set decoration and sound.
Read the Full Review
 


11 Mar, 2010

‘Drawn Together’ Movie Heading to Comic-Con


Not that Comic-Con.

Paramount Home Entertainment and Comedy Central will screen The Drawn Together Movie: The Movie! during the Anaheim Comic-Con Saturday, April 17, at 7 p.m. The movie hits DVD a few days later, on April 20.

The screening will be followed by a panel with creators Matt Silverstein and Dave Jeser.

Anaheim Comic-Con runs from April 16-18 and is organized by Wizard Entertainment as part of its Wizard World series of conventions held throughout the year across the country.

With the big show, San Diego Comic-Con International, quickly outgrowing its current venue, the San Diego Convention Center, speculation has run rampant over where the show will be held after its contract ends in 2012. Several cities have thrown their hat into the ring, such as Las Vegas. San Diego could expand its convention center and maintain its hosting duties. Anaheim with its convention center has made a play as well, and attracting top talent with fanboy-type programs such as movie screenings are a positive step in showing it can handle higher-profile events.

The Drawn Together Movie is a continuation of the raunchy animated series that lasted three seasons from 2004-07, and featured parodies of cartoon stereotypes in a reality-show setting.

Extras on the DVD include commentary, deleted scenes, “Drawn Together” minisodes and the featurettes “Drawn Together: True Confessionals,” “Drawn Together: The Legacy,” “Anatomy of an Animated Sex Scene,” “Re-Animating Drawn Together: From the Small Screen to the Slightly Bigger Screen” and “D.I.Y. 3D Glasses.”

Additionally, the movie will be available April 20 in HD and standard-def on download-to-own platforms such as iTunes, Xbox Live Marketplace, Zune, Sony PlayStation Store and Amazon Video on Demand.
 


10 Mar, 2010

Trailer Wars: 'Iron Man 2' vs. 'Tron Legacy'

This past week, fanboys were treated to not one, but two new trailers for some highly anticipated blockbusters due in cinemas this year.

First up, after the Oscars, came the Iron Man 2 trailer:

 

It looks awesome and oh-so-cool, especially seeing Tony Stark deploying the new Mark V suitcase armor. The movie hits theaters May 7.

Also out this week is the new Tron Legacy trailer:

 

Looks like a slick CGI re-imagining of the computer world created in the original Tron from 1982. I don't know if it can be as groundbreaking as the first one but it still looks like a fun ride with a hefty heap of nostalgia. Tron Legacy hits theaters Dec. 17.