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.
The stars have aligned for Star Trek, so to speak.
The day Paramount announced its DVD and Blu-ray plans for the film (which hits disc Nov. 17), it was sitting at No. 47 on the all-time domestic box office chart.
But longtime fans will know that 47 is a significant number in the Trek universe and one of the franchise’s most enduring in-jokes.
The joke stems from an old Pomona College math class in which “47” was purported to be the most common random number in nature. The theory was a joke, but it caught on, and a Pomona College graduate named Joe Menosky went on to write for “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” where he spread his love of “47” like a plague. It has since spread into other movies and TV shows (a partial list of which can be found on Wikipedia).
And now as a matter of cosmic coincidence, the film sits at this enchanted spot on the box office list. (Though its $252.5 million take is about $3.3 million behind Monsters, Inc., which it may well pass, but still).
It’s enough to really make us question our place in the universe.
OK, maybe not.
The “Battlestar Galactica” saga continues this fall with the direct-to-video movie Battlestar Galactica: The Plan. Universal Studios Home Entertainment will release the movie, directed by star Edward James Olmos, Oct. 27 (prebook Sept. 8) for Blu-ray Disc, DVD and digital download.
The movie operates as sort of a sidequel to the series, in that it fills in some plot gaps and unanswered questions. The title comes from a tag from the show’s opening credit sequence which describes the robotic Cylon baddies trying to wipe out humanity: “And they have a plan.”
The DVD ($26.98) and Blu-ray ($39.98) versions include the uncensored 90-minute movie, deleted scenes, commentary and behind-the-scenes featurettes. The Blu-ray also has a BD Live trivia game.
On a related front, the upcoming Battlestar Galactica: Season 4.5 and Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series (both due July 28 on DVD and Blu-ray Disc) do not include the “Face of the Enemy” webisode miniseries. Here’s hoping this chapter of the saga will eventually find its way to disc.
I love the idea of the combo pack when it comes to selling Blu-ray Discs. Studios put a copy of the DVD in with the Blu-ray. It’s so simple and I was amazed it took as long as it did for a studio to try it out.
Blu-ray launched in 2006, and the first notable combo pack, Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, hit shelves in late 2008. Since then, several more movies have been released in combo packs, usually family-friendly fare. Earlier this year several combo pack releases such as Marley & Me and Bedtime Stories debuted with Blu-ray market shares (the percentage of a title’s sales on Blu-ray) hovering around 10% or less. I found that odd, since getting the Blu-ray also meant getting the DVD. I figured the market share number would have been much higher.
Then there’s Disney’s Bolt. The first week of release, Blu-ray accounted for 20% of total sales for the disc. Ordinarily this type of Blu-ray market share would be celebrated, but Disney changed things up for Bolt, offering the Blu-ray edition exclusively the Sunday before its March 24 wide release. And since the weekly sales data cuts off after Sunday, Bolt’s first-week BD share should have been 100% (I suspect either the data is wrong, or most retailers put the DVD version out early). The next week, with the DVD available, Bolt dropped to 13%.
Have the studios been as effective as they could be marketing the combo-pack concept? I don’t know, but the numbers suggest maybe not.
Maybe it’s just me, but I see the prospect of future-proofing my video collection as a bargain. If the Blu-ray has the DVD too, why not snap it up? Of course I would probably want to see every title released as a combo pack. It just cuts down on the confusion. And the studios love to put out different configurations. Theatrical editions, director’s cuts, special-edition DVDs, anniversary editions, etc. If they buy the DVD now and the Blu-ray in a year, all the better for studio pockets, right? Assuming the consumer cares enough about quality to upgrade.
Instead of splitting the market, why not use the combo pack as the focal point of a campaign to push people to Blu-ray, instead of as a bonus for people who have already switched, as appears to be the case now?
I understand that the extra $5 or so dollars to pick up the combo pack may seem like a big deal for a family looking for cheap entertainment. But it’s worth the investment. With Blu-ray player prices dropping, more families will soon be able to get one. With a combo pack, you get the Blu-ray version for your main home theater and a DVD for bedrooms or travel. Or you can save the Blu-ray for the day you get the player.
I can imagine someone balking at a combo pack if they never intend to buy a Blu-ray player. I just don’t want to imagine that there’s enough people out there so closed-minded as to be against the concept of ever converting to Blu-ray that it would make a difference.
Welcome to the Agent DVD Blog. Some of you may be familiar with our annual magazine, which we distribute at San Diego Comic-Con. Our mission is to keep up to date with the latest announcements and trends hitting home entertainment in such fan-favorite genres as science-fiction, fantasy, action, horror and comedy.
With this blog, we hope to take that coverage one step further, with expert analysis that goes beyond the ordinary coverage. So keep an eye on this space for the latest news and opinion from the world of pop culture entertainment. And thanks for reading.
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According to The Hollywood Reporter, Universal just won a bidding war for the rights to produce a film based on the classic Atari game Asteroids.
My dream of a live-action Pac-Man flick can’t be far behind.
And if that were enough, word from The Hollywood Reporter is that a View-Master movie is in the works. That’s right, they want to make a movie version of those little plastic goggles that you put a cardboard disc into to see vaguely 3-D photos of nature or comic books or whatever.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen recently took over the top spot at the box office for 2009, a position it seems poised to maintain. If it does so, or if the new "Harry Potter" movie takes the crown, it would continue a trend that really illustrates how reliant Hollywood is becoming on its core franchises.
Since 2003, each No. 1 at the domestic box office has been a sequel:
2008 — The Dark Knight
2007 — Spider-Man 3
2006 — Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
2005 — Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith
2004 — Shrek 2
2003 — The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
The last non-sequel was Spider-Man in 2002, which itself was based on one of the beloved comic book franchises of all time. In 2001 it was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, in 2000 it was The Grinch, and 1999 saw Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace take the top spot.
In fact, the last yearly No. 1 not to be based on other source material was Saving Private Ryan in 1998. Other top earners in the 1990s include Titanic (1997), Independence Day (1996) and Forrest Gump (1994). So we went from a decade in which four of the 10 top earners were standalone films with no sequel, to a decade in which nine out of 10 were part of a franchise. And Saving Private Ryan paved the way for Band of Brothers and the upcoming The Pacific.
And the worldwide box office numbers are even more titled toward franchises. According to BoxOfficeMojo.com, since 1989, only four global top box office films (Titanic, Independence Day, Armageddon in 1998 and Ghost in 1990) were not connected in a franchise.
While this is great news for select fanboys who follow certain brands, it could push smaller films out of the studio eye and into the indie fold, as Hollywood seeks to establish bigger and more-lucrative franchises.
Critics such as Roger Ebert postulate the bubble could be about to burst. But as long as audiences reward spectacle over quality, it doesn’t appear the trend is going to curb any time soon.
Watching the portrayal of presidents in movies and TV shows sometimes makes us wish we had those fictional leaders instead of our real ones. With this being an election year, we asked readers of our Agent DVD consumer magazine distributed at San Diego Comic-Con International this past summer to vote online for their favorite fictional presidents on DVD. Here are the results:
Josiah “Jed” Bartlet
“The West Wing” (1999-2006) — Warner Home Video
An idealist constrained by the realities of his office, Bartlet proved to be a compassionate, if sometimes arrogant, chief executive. He caused a scandal by concealing his multiple sclerosis, but overcame it to win re-election. By the end of his turbulent second term, Bartlet had committed U.S. troops to peacekeeping missions in Israel and Central Asia.
Played by Martin Sheen
“24” (2001-2006) — 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
An assassination attempt during his primary campaign helped Palmer ride a wave of sympathy to the White House. A popular president, Palmer served only one term, citing health issues from another assassination attempt in his first year in office. After leaving office, the assassin’s bullet finally caught up to Palmer. His brother Wayne later became president.
Played by Dennis Haysbert
Air Force One (1997) — Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
A pilot during the Vietnam War and a Medal of Honor winner, Marshall historically chose a female vice president and pursued an aggressive anti-terror initiative. When Russian militants captured Air Force One, Marshall fought back and made them get off his plane.
Played by Harrison Ford
Thomas J. Whitmore
Independence Day (1996) — 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
A veteran of the first Gulf War, Whitmore’s presidency remained undistinguished until aliens attacked Earth. Whitmore personally led the final assault to repel them.
Played by Bill Pullman
“Battlestar Galactica” (2003-2008) — Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Although she was 43rd in the line of succession, Roslin became president of the 12 Colonies of Kobol after a genocidal Cylon attack nearly wiped out humanity. Fleeing from the Cylon tyranny, Roslin has maintained a loose civilian order on board the surviving fleet. Controversial decisions include banning abortion and ordering Cylon spies thrown out of airlocks.
Played by Mary McDonnell
The American President (1995) — Warner Home Video
Widowed shortly before his presidential campaign, Shepherd was able to avoid a character debate. As president, his policy agenda took a backburner to a controversial romance with a lobbyist, ultimately inspiring his support of aggressive environmental and anti-gun legislation.
Played by Michael Douglas
Deep Impact (1998) — Paramount Home Entertainment
The grandfatherly Beck’s administration was overwhelmed by news a massive comet would wipe out life on Earth. His calm demeanor helped guide the nation threw troubled preparations. After a space mission to destroy the comet spared Earth, Beck spearheaded the long rebuilding process.
Played by Morgan Freeman
Richard Nixon’s Head
“Futurama” (1999-2008) — 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
In the year 3000, when heads of former presidents are stored alive in jars and displayed in museum, Nixon managed to escape, find a robot body and won the presidency of Earth due to overwhelming robot support. Nixon’s aggressive foreign policy included several wars. The plunder of the treasures of Tarantulon VI resulted in a $300 bonus for every citizen of Earth.
Voiced by Billy West
“The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror VII (1996) — 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Kang and his companion Kodos attempted to conquer Earth by posing as presidential candidates Bob Dole and Bill Clinton, respectively. When their ruse was uncovered, Kang still won the election and promptly enslaved humanity, giving rise to the expression “Don’t blame me, I voted for Kodos!”
Voiced by Harry Shearer
Thomas “Tug” Benson
Hot Shots! Part Deux (1993) — 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
The klutzy former Navy admiral became a hands-on commander-in-chief, personally leading a covert mission to Iraq and fighting Saddam Hussein in hand-to-hand combat.
Played by Lloyd Bridges
“Stargate SG-1” (2004-2007), Stargate: Continuum (2008) — MGM/Fox
After thwarting a power grab by his former vice president, Robert Kinsey, Hayes has become a steadfast supporting of the Stargate program and of continuing the policy of hiding its existence from the public.
Played by William Devane
Scary Movie 3 (2003), Scary Movie 4 (2006) — Dimension Home Entertainment
The administration of the bumbling President Harris was marked by several alien attacks, leading to him famously addressing the United Nations while naked.
Played by Leslie Nielsen
The Black President from the “Real” Deep Impact
“Chappelle’s Show,” Season 1, Episode 10 (2003) — Paramount Home Entertainment
Instead of reassuring the nation as the asteroid sped toward Earth, Chappelle’s president revealed the government’s most-guarded secrets, including cloning and the cure for AIDS, before escaping the destruction with his alien allies.
Played by Dave Chappelle
“24” (2005-2007) — 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Logan signed historic anti-terrorism accords with the Russians, but was forced to resign when an aggressive secret anti-terror campaign backfired and put residents of Los Angeles in jeopardy.
Played by Gregory Itzin
Dave Kovic as Bill Mitchell
Dave (1993) — Warner Home Video
Dave furthered a ggovernment conspiracy by posing as the real president Mitchell, but found living under the shadow of corruption too great a burden and began to use the real power of the office to fix things his way.
Played by Kevin Kline
Dr. Strangelove (1964) — Sony Pictures
Muffley and his advisors tried frantically to stop an errant fleet of American bombers sent to nuke the Soviet Union, and apparently failed, causing the activation of a doomsday device.
Played by Peter Sellers
“Commander in Chief” (2005-2006) — Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Allen became America’s first female president when her predecessor died, and immediately began ruling from the center. Her independent streak sent ripples through Washington.
Played by Geena Davis
Fox's “Family Guy” and Warner's “Robot Chicken” both made waves in 2007 with popular “Star Wars” episodes (the Robot Chicken: Star Wars DVD hits May 20 from Warner Home Video at $14.97). Even “The Simpsons” and “South Park” have jumped on board from time to time. But here are a few of the all-time classic movies and short films that poke fun at the holy trilogy, all available on DVD.
- 1. Hardware Wars (MWP) 1977. The original parody, filmed with household objects as ships, is the epitome of low budget, but still great.
- 2. George Lucas in Love (MediaTrip) 1999. This hilarious short, based on Shakespeare in Love, imagines Lucas finding inspiration for “Star Wars” at USC.
- 3. Spaceballs (MGM) 1987. Mel Brooks' space epic is probably the best-known parody. It's hammy and obvious at times but filled with great visual gags.
- 4. R2-D2: Beneath the Dome (Fox) 2001. While making Episode II, Lucasfilm commissioned this “True Hollywood Story”-style special about cinema's favorite droid.
- 5. Thumb Wars: The Phantom Cuticle (Image) 1999. Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls director Steve Oedekerk proved he's all thumbs with the first in his “Thumbation” series of parodies.
To me, landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth was one of the greatest achievements not only of the 20th century, but of all time.
A nearly complete picture of America's Cold War race to the moon against the Soviet Union is available in a virtual boxed set of two films and a cable miniseries.
First up is The Right Stuff (available in a two-disc special edition from Warner Home Video), a terrific adaptation of Tom Wolfe's novel about test pilots and how being chosen as an astronaut doesn't necessarily make a pilot any better than one who wasn't.
Up next is Apollo 13 (available in a two-disc anniversary edition from Universal Studios Home Entertainment), eminently quotable and easily one of my favorite films, chronicling the star-crossed 1970 lunar mission, and how hundreds of mission controllers on Earth worked to save the three-man crew after an explosion crippled the ship. The film is a testament to the spirit of adventure and the risks involved in exploring new places.
Tom Hanks' experience starring in Apollo 13 inspired him to produce the 12-part HBO miniseries “From the Earth to the Moon” (HBO Video), which looks at the whole of the lunar program. The early days are touched on, but the focus is on the 24 men who flew to the moon and all those who had a hand in getting them there. Each of the Apollo missions is given the spotlight in an episode — from the tragedy and investigation of the Apollo 1 fire, to the historic 1969 Apollo 11 landing, to the good ol' boys of Apollo 12 and the final landing of Apollo 17.
These films leave us to reflect why today, when it would be relatively easy to return to the moon, most people don't seem to care about doing it.