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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.


Opinion
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26 Apr, 2016

Get a Shirt With 'Ride Along 2'


The retail shadow of Star Wars: The Force Awakens extended into the week of April 26, as a modest slate of new releases didn't come with much in the way of retailer exclusives.

The only exclusive of note came at Walmart, which offered a pack-on T-shirt with the Blu-ray of Universal's Ride Along 2.

Best Buy set up a display to honor Prince, with $5.99 Prince albums on CD and the Purple Rain Blu-ray for $8.99.


25 Apr, 2016

New on Disc: 'Jackie Robinson' and more …


Jackie Robinson

PBS, Documentary, $24.99 DVD, $29.99 Blu-ray, NR.
2016.
It’s a challenge to think of anyone who’d be more appropriate to receive the Ken Burns treatment than the man who carved out a place for himself both before and after he integrated Major League Baseball.
Extras: This home-viewing keeper includes interviews with key production personnel about how Jackie Robinson came to be, plus additional interviews not used in the documentary proper.
Read the Full Review

Try and Get Me!

Olive, Drama, $24.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Frank Lovejoy, Lloyd Bridges, Kathleen Ryan.
1951.
Except for some preachy soap-boxing that does its best to undermine inherent dramatic punch at every turn, this is one of the toughest and least compromised movies from the entire noir era.
Read the Full Review


25 Apr, 2016

The Growing Dominion of Digital Distribution


Back in 2011, when we launched our annual Digital Drivers feature in Home Media Magazine, our intent was to spotlight the executives behind the “transition from physical media to digital distribution,” according to a column I wrote back then introducing the new feature.

A lot has changed since then — to the point where there is no longer any transition. I don’t know of anyone who hasn’t streamed or downloaded a movie; moreover, to all of us, digital distribution is a habit, a way of life.

In our own family, we still watch a lot of movies and TV shows on disc, but invariably we will simply press a few buttons on the remote and chill with Netflix. If there’s been a change over the last year, it’s that we’ve broadened our scope. We watched season one of “How to Get Away with Murder” on Netflix, and then, for season two, alternated between Hulu and Amazon Prime, paying a $2.99 premium per episode to watch the newer shows in high-definition.

All three are competitors, but in our household they are simply ways to bring the entertainment we want to watch into the home, existing quite peacefully alongside both each other and the pristine Blu-ray Discs and DVDs we have filed away in our little walk-in “library” off the family room.

We have a wider, broader selection of programming than we’ve ever had, and while in our household at least we still consume new films on disc at a rapid clip, streaming has effectively replaced regular broadcast and cable television.

The digital transition, then, has already happened — and efforts in both the entertainment and technology industries are focused on making the experience even easier and more satisfying for the consumer. Of course, none of this is being done for altruistic purposes; on the content side, studios continue to experiment with ways to get people to buy more movies and TV shows online, since the transactional purchase model is a much better value proposition for Hollywood than third-party streaming.

Meanwhile, the cable industry is grappling with an announcement the FCC made in February about its new “Unlock the Box” campaign, which seeks to free consumers from having to rent a set-top box to get cable. The FCC wants to force cable operators to open up the set-top box market and let Google, Apple and other companies get in on the action. Just this month, Comcast announced its intent to do what Fortune calls an “end run around the FCC” by launching a new feature for its Xfinity service that will let consumers watch their cable through Roku streaming boxes and Samsung Smart TVs.

No, it’s never dull in digital distribution land — which is why the need for innovation and vision has never been greater.
 


22 Apr, 2016

Are Netflix and Amazon in an SVOD War?


With Netflix struggling to satisfy stratospheric subscriber expectations, competitor Amazon has made a new move. Amazon is offering for the first time a standalone subscription service not bundled with its popular shipping plan.

Amazon is making its Prime Video subscription streaming service available as a standalone option for $8.99 a month — the same price as Netflix’s entry-level plan. In contrast, the bundled Prime service offers free two-day shipping on myriad purchases with Prime Video and Prime Music included as free value-added perks for about $100 a year.

The fact that Amazon decided to separate out its video service from the bundled plan is a testament to the service’s appeal — and indeed to the SVOD marketplace at large. Amazon now doesn’t just see video as a value-added perk to free shipping, but as a valuable service on its own — on par with Netflix.

Reed Hastings has often said that competition is flattering and good for the SVOD marketplace, and Amazon’s move seems to acknowledge that SVOD services are a viable and important business on their own. As Hastings contends, Amazon’s move ostensibly validates and supports Netflix and its business plan.

There is plenty of room for multiple SVOD services, especially if they feature unique and exclusive content. Many consumers will likely buy into these services (or not) based on the exclusive content they offer. But Amazon has thrown down the gauntlet as well.

“While we don’t think that Amazon will attract many current Netflix customers, we think it is foolish to assume that potential SVOD customers will favor Netflix over Amazon every time,” wrote Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter. “We acknowledge that Netflix has the much more powerful brand for SVOD, but we are confident that once it announced a standalone service, Amazon declared war on Netflix, and intends to back up its new offering with a branding strategy of its own.”

Jonathan Rettinger, president of TechnoBuffalo, told CNBC Netflix has a lot to worry about over the next few months. "Netflix has had an incredible rise, but they need to be looking over their shoulder because there is an onslaught coming led by Amazon," Rettinger said.

For a long time, Netflix has had the SVOD market cornered, but with Amazon moving more definitively into its territory, Netflix may find the road ahead is not so easy.


19 Apr, 2016

Best Buy Offers Exclusive 'Ip Man' Trilogy


Best Buy April 19 offered an exclusive Blu-ray of Well Go USA's 'Ip Man' trilogy with a steelbook case for $24.99, timed for the disc release of Ip Man 3.

Otherwise, there weren't many exclusives offered with new titles, with many displays still dominated by Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Target is offering a $5 gift card with preorders of Fox's Deadpool on disc May 10.


18 Apr, 2016

New on Disc: 'Suspicion' and more …


Suspicion (Blu-ray)

Available via Warner Archive       
Warner, Thriller, $21.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Cary Grant, Joan Fontaine, Nigel Bruce, Cedric Hardwicke.
1941.
Though not the most effective of the four Cary Grant/Alfred Hitchcock collaborations (North by Northwest, Notorious and To Catch a Thief are the others), it still makes for a good night at the movies, with a script that still seems psychologically apt.
Read the Full Review

Donovan’s Brain

Kino Lorber, Sci-Fi, $19.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Lew Ayres, Nancy Davis (Reagan), Gene Evans.
1953.
This loose remake of a Curt Siodmak novel is one of the few films from Nancy Reagan’s film career that has any kind of rep.
Extras: Includes commentary by film expert Richard Harland Smith.
Read the Full Review
 


12 Apr, 2016

A 'Justice League' Cover Highlights a Slow Week


With Star Wars: The Force Awakens continuing to dominate retail shelves, studios shied away from major new releases for the most part April 12, with the only notable exclusive involving the latest direct-to-video "Justice League" animated movie.

That exclusive came at Target, which offered a steelbook case for Warner's Justice League vs. Teen Titans.


11 Apr, 2016

New on Disc: 'The Kennedy Films of Robert Drew & Associates' and more …


The Kennedy Films of Robert Drew & Associates

Street 4/26/16
Criterion, Documentary, $29.95 DVD, $39.95 Blu-ray, NR.
1960-64.
The four JFK-oriented documentaries here are Primary, Adventures on the New Frontier, Crisis and Faces of November. This is one of those home releases where viewers should take the mammothly rewarded time to watch all the bonus features.
Extras: In addition to still-gripping background material on how the once unlikely Kennedy presidency came to be, there’s a lot of interview footage with the filmmakers, plus outtakes.
Read the Full Review

The Gong Show Movie (Blu-ray)

Shout! Factory, Comedy, $24.97 Blu-ray, ‘R.’
Stars Chuck Barris, Robin Altman, Jaye P. Morgan.
1980.
Chuck Barris (playing himself) questions whether or not his career as a game show host has been worth the time and effort — due, in part, to all of those novelty acts who insist on auditioning for him when he’s standing at the urinal.
Extras: Includes a commentary by pop culture historian Russell Dyball.
Read the Full Review
 


5 Apr, 2016

An Awakening of 'Star Wars' Retail Exclusives

(L-R): Special 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' packaging at Best Buy, Target and Walmart
(L-R): Special 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' packaging at Best Buy, Target and Walmart

The home video debut of Star Wars: The Force Awakens April 5 brought with it a flood of merchandising displays tied to the movie, as well as several retail-exclusive editions.

Target devoted two pages in its weekly ad circular to "Star Wars," including a coupon for $10 off $50 of "Star Wars" merchandise and $25 off $100 in merchandise. Target billed its version of the film as a "double exclusive," as it includes both special fold-out packaging and exclusive bonus featurettes, including an interview with film stars Daisy Ridley and John Boyega. The bonus features are accessible digitally through the Disney Movies Anywhere redemption code.

Best Buy had the Blu-ray in a steelbook case with Kylo Ren on the cover. This kind of matches the earlier-released individual Blu-rays of the first six films, although the design is slightly different, mostly in how the titles are presented.

Walmart offered the Blu-ray with a special slipcover with fold-out BB-8 art, plus a Star Wars Galactic Connexions trading disc.

Toys "R" Us offered a free Kylo Ren decal with the purchase of the film on DVD or Blu-ray.

Stores also set up elaborate cardboard displays for the title, with Best Buy and Walmart showing off a large BB-8 with DVD shelves. Some Targets had a large cardboard display themed around the film's characters.

Walmart

Target

Best Buy


4 Apr, 2016

New on Disc: 'The Vikings' and more …


The Vikings

Kino Lorber, Drama, $19.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis, Ernest Borgnine, Janet Leigh.
1958.
The Vikings is closer to first-rate entertainment than a truly first-rate movie, but above and beyond its prodigious nostalgic currency, the result is still fairly irresistible for anyone inclined toward its red-meat sentiments.
Read the Full Review

RKO Varieties Triple Feature — Variety Time, Make Mine Laughs, Footlight Varieties

Available via Warner Archive       
Warner, Musical, $21.99 DVD, NR.
Stars Jack Paar, Gil Lamb, Liberace, Jack Haley, Leon Errol.
1948/1949/1951.
Made up of film clips strung together by an emcee’s patter, these hour-long revues were both a lament for long dead vaudeville and an embrace of the new medium of television that was making life miserable for studios and exhibitors.
Read the Full Review