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 new home video releases for Feb. 16 were dominated by a slate of docudramas and a couple of high-profile HBO comedy series, once again ceding a majority of the new-release section shelf space to Fox's Spectre. New titles include Universal's Steve Jobs, about the Apple Computer co-founder, and Trumbo, about the blackblisted Hollywood writer, and Warner's Black Mass, about mobster Whitey Bulger, and The 33, about the Chilean mining disaster.
Interestingly, Best Buy, Target and Walmart all relegated Universal's Trumbo Blu-ray to an online-only title, stocking only the DVD version on shelves.
And a Walmart in Tustin, Calif., didn't even carry the new HBO releases in stores: Girls: The Complete Fourth Season and Togetherness: The Complete First Season.
For the most part, stores touted sales of catalog titles. Best Buy offered DVDs for $3.99 each and Blu-rays for $6.99 each, with many Fox titles including coupons for discounts off movie tickets to the new hit film Deadpool. Best Buy also had TV seasons as low as $14.99 each.
There were several reports that Best Buy would start offering new Ultra HD Blu-rays from Fox on Feb. 14, but the store in Costa Mesa, Calif., didn't have any copies on display (though the chain's website does indicate a few titles available for pickup). The bulk of the first wave of UHD Blu-rays from Fox, Lionsgate and others are due March 1.
Walmart and Best Buy 'Spectre' cover variants
The latest James Bond film, Spectre, arrived at retail Feb. 9 with several options for retail exclusives of the Fox-distributed title.
Best Buy offered an exclusive steelbook Blu-ray case with the film, with a $5 savings when purchased with a previously released Bond Blu-ray steelbook.
Target offered the DVD and Blu-ray with an exclusive bonus DVD containing 20 minutes of content, including a featurette about the title sequence and a music video for the theme song. The disc also included the "Shadow of Spectre" featurette that was available in the Bond collection boxed set released last year, but updated to include the new film.
Walmart went with its usual gimmick and offered a bare-bones DVD version of Spectre with special box art, which is kind of a head-scratcher since the only extra on the regular DVD is a 10-minute bundle of video blogs, and Walmart's vanilla DVD was offered at the same price as the other stores were offering the standard DVD (or, in Target's case, a DVD with a bonus disc). At least Walmart also offered the regular DVD as well for a few dollars more.
Best Buy also had the exclusive Blu-ray version of Broad Green's critically acclaimed 99 Homes.
All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records
FilmRise, Documentary, $24.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
2015. I’m not sure how it came to be that Colin Hanks (son of Tom) took on Tower’s story as a screen project, but on some level it was out of love because there’s just too much wistful adoration in every frame here.
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The Wrong Man (Blu-ray)
Available via Warner Archive
Warner, Mystery, $21.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Henry Fonda, Vera Miles, Anthony Quayle.
1956. This is a powerful fact-based movie and definitely one of director Alfred Hitchcock’s stronger achievements. It tells of how a financially strapped family man got picked up for a series of neighborhood armed robberies after trying to borrow some money on his wife’s insurance policy for her dental work.
Extras: In addition to retaining a smooth making-of short that appeared on the long-ago Man standard DVD, Warner has given the picture a new transfer with a surprising amount of grain that suits the picture’s semi-documentary style.
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By: Mike Clark
Best Bey's 'Batman: Bad Blood' and 'Snow White' exclusives
At least three of the major Feb. 2 new releases were offered with retail exclusives presenting some sort of packaging variant.
Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: The Signature Edition Blu-ray came in special storybook packaging at Target, while Best Buy had the re-release of the animated classic with a slip-cover adorned with lenticular artwork.
Warner sent the direct-to-video animated movie Batman: Bad Blood to retailers with three configurations: a DVD, a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack and a deluxe Blu-ray combo pack with a Nightwing figurine. Best Buy offered the deluxe edition with a pack-in Batman: Battle for the Cowl graphic novel. Target offered the Blu-ray combo pack with a steelbook case.
Best Buy also offered Lionsgate's The Last Witch Hunter Blu-ray in a steelbook case.
As part of its incentives for pre-orders, Best Buy offered $5 in My Best Buy membership rewards for several titles, as well as special exclusives for each. Lionsgate's The Hunger Game: Mockingjay — Part 2 and Fox's Spectre Blu-rays will come with steelbook cases; Disney's The Good Dinosaur Blu-ray will come with lenticular packaging; and Fox's The Peanuts Movie will include a Snoopy toy. The membership rewards deal also includes Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Retailers were quick to attach exclusives to Sony Pictures' Goosebumps upon its Jan. 26 DVD and Blu-ray release, but PBS's Downton Abbey: Season 6 also got some love.
For Goosebumps, Best Buy offered the Blu-ray combo pack (not the 3D version) with a pack-on "Goosebumps" book, A Shocker on Shock Street.
Target offered Goosebumps with a $7.50 coupon for movie tickets. Walmart offered a DVD triple-feature that grouped Goosebumps with Jumanji and Zathura.
For the final season of "Downton Abbey," Target offered the DVD and Blu-ray with a free notepad with character quotes. Barnes and Noble offered the DVD and Blu-ray with a pack of notecards on "Downton Abbey" stationery.
Walmart is touting the digital release of the James Bond movie Spectre with a combo deal attaching access to the film via Vudu.com with DVD versions of previous Bond films. Spectre with Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace and Skyfall was offered at $22.96 each combo, with Spectre and the whole Daniel Craig collection offered at $27.96.
Target offered recent DVD releases Minions and Hotel Transylvania 2 for $10 each.
Criterion, Drama, $19.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Vittorio Gassman, Doris Dowling, Silvana Mangano, Raf Vallone.
1949. An almost perfect blend of genuine Italian neo-realism and art house sexploitation.
Extras: Includes a remembrance of director Giuseppe De Santis and an essay by journalist/academic Pasquale Iannone.
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The Detective (Blu-ray)
Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, ‘R.’
Stars Frank Sinatra, Lee Remick, Jacqueline Bisset, Ralph Meeker, Robert Duvall.
1968. For all its narrative sputters and misses, the once popular movie version of Roderick Thorp’s sprawling novel remains something of a grabber, in part because it’s both retro and progressive.
Extras: The Blu-ray has a particularly lively commentary by Twilight Time guru Nick Redman, his frequent bonus track partner Lem Dobbs and David Del Valle in an entertaining court jester role.
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By: Mike Clark
Target's 'Straight Outta Compton' Steelbook
Fans of Universal's Straight Outta Compton had a choice of several retailer exclusives when they went to pick up their copy on Blu-ray.
Target offered the Blu-ray in a steelbook case, plus a $5 gift card when the movie was purchased in conjunction with the CD soundtrack (offered at $13.99).
Best Buy offered a free T-shirt with the purchase of the film on Blu-ray. In a slight switch from Target's soundtrack deal, Best Buy offered a $5 discount with the joint purchase of both the Blu-ray and the CD (also at $13.99).
Walmart touted an exclusive special-edition of the Blu-ray with 30 minutes of additional bonus content available through its Vudu.com streaming service.
Both Target and Walmart neglected to offer in stores some of the new TV on disc titles, such as Universal's 12 Monkeys: Season One and Continuum: Seaosn Four. Both were readily available at Best Buy.
Best Buy's 'Hotel Transylvania 2' Blu-ray with Squishy Blobby toy
The Jan. 12 new releases offered plenty of retail exclusives for consumers, most notably with Sony Pictures' Hotel Transylvania 2 and Universal's Mr. Robot: Season 1.
For Hotel Transylvania 2, Best Buy offered a pack on Squishy Blobby toy with the film's Blu-ray and 3D Blu-ray combo packs. Best Buy also offered a $5 discount with the puchase of both "Hotel Transylvania" movies (with the Blu-ray combo pack of the first one for $14.99).
Target offered the BLu-ray combo pack of Hotel Transylvania 2 with glow-in-the-dark stickers, and gave free popcorn and a medium soda at the Target café with the purchase of any version of the film on disc.
Walmart had a Hotel Transylvania 2 Blu-ray combo pack gift set with a lunch box.
Target's version of the "Mr. Robot" DVD included 20 minutes of exclusive bonus material, while Best Buy offered the Blu-ray of the show with a free decal.
Paramount's Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension didn't seem to be available at Target, with the horror sequel not even showing up on the chain's website on its first day of availability.
Also interesting, Amazon.com didn't seem to have any copies of Fox's The Martian on DVD, referring instead to Amazon Marketplace sellers. Amazon does have the 4K UHD version of The Martian listed for a March 1 release.
Best Buy's 'True Detective' Season 2 Alternate Blu-ray Covers
While most of the new releases for Jan. 5 didn't inspire much in the way of retailer exclusives, there were a few deals and add-ons to be found.
Best Buy offered alternate covers for HBO's True Detective: The Complete Second Season, giving consumers a choice of picking up the Blu-ray with either Vince Vaughn or Colin Farrell adorning their copy.
Walmart offered add-ons for a few Sony Pictures titles. For Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser ($12.96 on DVD), Walmart had a DVD two-pack of both "Joe Dirt" films for $14.96, and Joe Dirt 2 with a pack-on T-shirt, also for $14.96. The previous week's The Perfect Guy could be had as part of a $24.96 three-film set that also included Obsessed and No Good Deed.
In terms of general marketing, Sony Pictures bowed The Walk VR Experience App, letting iPhone and Android users simulate the high-wire act atop New York's World Trade Center depicted in the film. The disc includes an online discount code for $15 off a pair of $100 MergeVR goggles.
'Hitman: Agent 47' promotional image in Best Buy circular
With 2015 coming to a close, the new releases of the final week of the year went mostly unheralded at retail.
In fact, a Target store in Tustin even neglected to put Fox's Hitman: Agent 47 on its shelves, though it's not unheard of for clerks to forget to bring new releases to the floor. The action film comes with a pack-in comic book, a bonus heavily touted in Best Buy's weekly ad circular.
The week was primarily dominated by clearance sales.
Target touted clearance discounts on hundreds of video games, as well as discounts on recent hit DVD and Blu-ray movies.
Best Buy pushed fitness DVDs for $7.99 each, 3D Blu-rays for $12.99 each, TV DVD seasons for $9.99 each, and more categories.