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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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27 Sep, 2016

'Warcraft' Wins the Exclusives Battle

Target's 'Warcraft' Blu-ray
Target's 'Warcraft' Blu-ray

Universal's Warcraft arrived on disc Sept. 27 with a few retail exclusives.

Target offered the fantasy film based on the World of Warcraft video game as a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack with exclusive packaging and eight collectible character cards.

Walmart touted a steelbook edition of the film.

Among other titles, Walmart offered another of its DVD variants, this time on Warner's Central Intelligence, which came with different box art and fewer extras.

26 Sep, 2016

New on Disc: 1948's 'Road House' and more …

Road House (1948) (Blu-ray)

Kino Lorber, Mystery, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Ida Lupino, Cornel Wilde, Richard Widmark, Celeste Holm.
This is not the better-known Patrick Swayze gutter trash from 1989, but an earlier one with a notably name cast for its day — the one that starts out as an unlikely feminist drama and then turns noir-ish around the time Richard Widmark’s character begins to go over the brink.
Extras: Includes a featurette about stars Ida Lupino and Richard Widmark, plus a commentary by Eddie Muller and Kim Morgan, carried over from the DVD.
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Tony Rome/Lady in Cement (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR (Tony Rome)/’R’ (Lady in Cement)
Stars Frank Sinatra, Jill St. John, Raquel Welch, Richard Conte.
Tony Rome is halfway-good grindhouse/drive-in fodder that remains guiltily entertaining, while Lady in Cement is a conspicuously ragged toss-off that arguably plays a little breezier than it did at the time.
Extras: Tony Rome includes an entertaining, factoid-filled commentary with historians Eddy Friedfeld, Anthony Latino, Lee Pfeiffer and Paul Scrabo.
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26 Sep, 2016

Consumers Choosing Choice in Their Entertainment

Pay-TV operators have been eyeing the cord-cutters, or those pesky customers who eschew paying for expensive cable packages in favor of getting content a la carte over the Internet, for some time, both with consternation and curiosity. Many say these customers are the wave of the future, driven by the millennial generation, which is used to viewing entertainment unshackled by a TV or cable.

At the same time, the FCC is looking at a proposal to require pay-TV operators to offer free app-based video distribution alternatives to the set-top box, meaning consumers could access video through other devices — a PlayStation or smartphone, for instance — without having to rent a box from the cable company.

“While consumers will still pay their monthly subscription fees for the service, they will be able to download an app to devices they purchase or already own to access pay-TV service, so they are no longer forced to rent boxes from their provider,” read the proposal.

The cable industry is experiencing the kind of change the home entertainment business has weathered for some time. We’ve navigated many different formats and different business models, from sellthrough to cassette and disc rental to subscription video-on-demand. These kinds of existential shakeups have been part of our industry since the very beginning, when VHS competed against Betamax and the very right to rent content came into legal question.

What our industry has been very good at is getting consumers the content they want in the format they want — and that should serve us very well as the entertainment business changes. The home entertainment industry has many experts in navigating change, and I’m sure it will find a way to profitably satisfy this new skinny bundle, cord-cutting consumer as well.

23 Sep, 2016

Let's Inject Some Excitement Back Into Our Industry

Another fourth quarter is upon us, and the silence, sad to say, is deafening. The gala parties that a decade ago heralded the release of hot new theatrical features onto DVD and, later, Blu-ray Disc, are a fuzzy memory.

No more Craig Kornblau riding through the streets of Hollywood on a camel (as the former Universal Studios home entertainment president did to promote The Mummy); no more gastronomical feasts where guests are wined and dined as executives talk up the popularity of their holiday season slate (Walt Disney’s Ratatouille).

And those junkets sending media types to New York, even London, for such disc releases as a “Harry Potter” movie, The Godfather and “Seinfeld”? Forget it.

The excitement that preceded the holidays in those halcyon days of DVD and Blu-ray Disc, when sales growth each year was measured in the double digits, is conspicuously absent.

And yet I can’t help but wonder, are we giving up too soon? Disc sales are holding steady. Blu-ray Disc purchases are up. We have a hot new physical format, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, that comes close to replicating the theatrical experience — something of a Holy Grail for home entertainment marketers ever since the first VHS cassettes rolled off the assembly line. And the electronic sellthrough business, while hardly a fireball, is slowly but surely gaining ground, as viewers get hooked on a movie franchise or TV series on Netflix and then go to Amazon Prime or Hulu to buy the latest installment.

I know. I recently spent $24 each on the second seasons of “How to Get Away With Murder” and “Scream” (don’t judge). And my kids keep buying movies on Prime as well.

Yes, Netflix is a hungry monster that’s only growing bigger. Yes, OTT is taking over our business. Yes, consumers are spending about half what they did a decade ago on buying discs.

But does that mean we can’t have a single party for one of our fourth-quarter tentpoles? A junket to, say, Las Vegas? Or even a press release touting first-week sales, complete with a studio president quote about what an achievement it is?

We need to breathe some life into this business. There’s a lot to show, a lot to tell. But we can’t very well expect consumers to get excited about our business if we keep shaking our heads and wistfully reflecting on the good old days when the latest “Shrek” broke all sales records.

Let’s put some fun, some energy, some excitement back into the business. The fourth quarter begins Oct. 1. Come on, Hollywood — don’t let me down.

20 Sep, 2016

'Turtle' Exclusives Out of the Retail Shadows

The Walmart gift set, Target shell and Best Buy Steelbook for 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows'
The Walmart gift set, Target shell and Best Buy Steelbook for 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows'

Paramount's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows arrived at retail Sept. 20 with plenty of packaging configurations on its own, so adding several retailer exclusives into the mix certainly gave consumers a lot to keep track of.

The release included the film on DVD, a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, a 3D Blu-ray combo pack, and a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack. The discs were packed with a set of reversable TMNT headband masks (though the 3D version wasn't stocked at all stores). The movie was also packaged with the 2014 original as part of a gift set that incuded a lunchbox shaped like the Turtles' truck.

Walmart offered a gift set of the Blu-ray packed with figurines of the Turtles and bad guys Bebop and Rocksteady.

Best Buy had the Blu-ray combo pack in a Steelbook case.

And Target had the Blu-ray combo pack in special shell packaging, plus an exclusive bonus Blu-ray disc that added featurettes called "Further Mutations," "Mutant Rides" and "Brazil Breakdown."

Target also offered Universal's Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising with a DVD bonus disc. In addition, for Disney's Beauty and the Beast: 25th Anniversary Edition, Target offered the Blu-ray in 32-page storybook packaging.

The previous week's Captain America: Civil War Blu-ray came with free popcorn at Target.

Best Buy offered both "Neighbors" movies on Blu-ray for $25 when purchased together.

19 Sep, 2016

New on Disc: 'The Enemy Below' and more …

The Enemy Below (Blu-ray)

Street 9/20/2016
Kino Lorber, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Robert Mitchum, Curt Jurgens, Theodore Bikel.
This intelligent, if not all-out stirring study in logistical one-upmanship, is something of a groundbreaking 1950s film due to Curt Jurgens’ characterization of the German counterpart to Robert Mitchum’s U.S. Navy captain amid their 97 screen minutes of cat-and-mouse between an American destroyer escort and a German U-boat that the former has the misfortune to encounter in the South Atlantic.
Read the Full Review

Love Me or Leave Me (Blu-ray)

Available via Warner Archive
Warner, Drama, $21.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Doris Day, James Cagney, Cameron Mitchell, Robert Keith.
Doris Day, as Broadway/radio/recording notable Ruth Etting, goes fully toe-to-toe with James Cagney in one of the most rewarding of all show biz biopics, a socko achievement given that the latter’s third and final Oscar nomination was indisputably deserved in what is one of the essential films of his 31-year career.
Extras: Includes a couple of Etting’s Warner Vitaphone shorts (her voice never had the oomph of Day’s), plus an amusing 1955 CinemaScope featurette that deals with what was then MGM’s coming imminent release schedule: a 17-minute commercial called “Salute to the Exhibitors,” which rightfully touts Love Me.
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13 Sep, 2016

'Captain America' Blu-rays Fight Retail 'Civil War'

Best Buy's 'Captain America: Civil War' Steelbook
Best Buy's 'Captain America: Civil War' Steelbook

Retailers attached a couple of exclusives to Disney's Captain America: Civil War Sept. 13.

Best Buy offered the 3D Blu-ray combo pack of the latest Marvel film with a collectible Steelbook case.

Target offered the Blu-ray of the film with a couple of exclusive digital extras, featuring behind-the-scenes looks at Ant-Man and Winter Soldier in the movie, plus a one-month free trial of Marvel Unlimited, which allows fans to access more than 17,000 digital comic books.

The Disney store offered an exclusive lithograph set and $10 off any purchase of $40 or more.

For Warner's The Conjuring 2, Walmart offered an exclusive DVD version with different box art and the chain's typical no-extras configuration. Walmart also had a DVD two-pack of both "Conjuring" films.

Another title with a few exclusives was Universal's Barbie: Star Light Adventure. Target offered a free adventure pet with the purchase of the movie or a tie-in doll. Walmart offered a DVD two-pack that paired the new direct-to-video movie with Barbie Dreamtopia.

12 Sep, 2016

New on Disc: '3 Bad Men' and more …

3 Bad Men (Blu-ray)

Kino Lorber, Western, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars George O’Brien, Olive Borden, Lou Tellegen, Tom Santschi.
John Ford’s finest silent movie, and his last Western until Stagecoach, is a jewel on any count and one that looks forward to the director’s more mature achievements.
Extras: The Blu-ray includes a commentary from Joseph McBride, author of the spectacular Ford biography Searching for John Ford.
Read the Full Review

A Taste of Honey

Criterion, Drama, $29.95 DVD, $39.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Rita Tushingham, Dora Bryan, Murray Melvin, Robert Stephens.
Director Tony Richardson’s opened-up movie of young Shelagh Delaney’s stage play A Taste of Honey can be enjoyed in the same manner as any movie that was ahead of its time.
Extras: Includes an essay by scholar Colin MacCabe, recent interviews with stars Murray Melvin and Rita Tushingham, Richardson and Delaney in archival pieces; a look-back at Joan Greenwood helping to spearhead the original stage production; a portrait of cinematographer Walter Lassally; and the full 1956 documentary short Mamma Don’t Allow.
Read the Full Review

6 Sep, 2016

'Now You See' Exclusives

Target and Best Buy 'Now You See Me 2' Blu-rays
Target and Best Buy 'Now You See Me 2' Blu-rays

Lionsgate's Now You See Me 2 was the retailers' choice for the big exclusives among the Sept. 6 titles.

Target offered a special Now You See Me 2 Blu-ray combo pack with special box art and an exclusive bonus DVD containing 30 minutes of content: "The Horsemen Return" featurette and a "NYSM2 On-Set Diary" featurette.

Best Buy offered the movie's Blu-ray combo pack with special Steelbook packaging. Best Buy also offered the first film with a Steelbook case for $12.99.

Best Buy also offered a Steelbook for Warner's The Flash: The Complete Second Season.

Walmart offered a DVD set of Sony Pictures' Money Monster with a DVD of The Ides of March.

5 Sep, 2016

New on Disc: 'Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words' and more …

Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words

Criterion, Documentary, $29.95 DVD, $39.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stig Bjorkman’s exceptional Ingrid Bergman documentary turns out to be the kind of near-miraculous filmed portrait that can emerge when its subject was one of those individuals who apparently saved everything over a long period (or had friends who did).
Extras: Includes an interview with Bjorkman and an extension of the feature’s remarkable group interview with Berman daughter Isabella Rossellini, Autumn Sonata co-star Liv Ullmann and Sigourney Weaver (they were on stage together) where everyone is informal and relaxed.
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Wild in the Streets

Olive, Comedy, $19.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, ‘R.’
Stars Shelley Winters, Christopher Jones, Diane Varsi, Hal Holbrook.
This yarn about a rock star who becomes a California senator on his way to the presidency was a bona fide mid-level hit when it opened, but in an age of celebrity politicians it’s possibly more interesting now than it was at the time.
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