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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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23 Aug, 2016

Exclusives Caught Between a Walker and a 'Huntsman'

'Walking Dead: Season 6' covers at Best Buy and Target
'Walking Dead: Season 6' covers at Best Buy and Target

All three of the major retailers offered exclusive promotions tied to Universal's The Huntsman: Winter's War and Anchor Bay's The Walking Dead: Season 6.

For Huntsman, Best Buy offered exclusive steelbook cases for the Blu-ray and Ultra HD Blu-ray editions. Target offered the movie with a 28-page booklet. And Walmart offered more than 30 minutes of exclusive bonus content.

With the latest "Walking Dead" season, Best Buy offered an exclusive lenticular Blu-ray cover. Best Buy also offered special lenticular covers on previous season as well. Target offered an exclusive steelbook case, while Walmart had an exclusive bonus disc with more than 70 minutes of footage from the Madison Square Garden fan premiere event.

For Lionsgate's Roots remake, Walmart offered the DVD and Blu-ray with two exclusive extras running more than 40 minutes.

Best Buy offered a metalpak case with the first season of Anchor Bay's "Ash vs. Evil Dead" on Blu-ray, and lenticular box art for Paramount's NCIS: Season 13. Best Buy also touted a deal for a free $10 gift card with the purchase of $50 or more of select TV seasons.

22 Aug, 2016

New on Disc: 'Rawhide' and more …

Rawhide (Blu-ray)

Kino Lorber, Western, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Tyrone Power, Susan Hayward, Hugh Marlowe, Jack Elam.
Though a sizable chunk of Rawhide (including several of its best scenes) takes place indoors at a stagecoach way station, the picture does convey the impression that its relatively small cast is trapped and imperiled in the middle of nowhere — with its “good guys” (who include a woman and a girl toddler) receiving minimal help beyond their own desperate efforts to combat a four-man band of prison escapees. Nothing that happens here departs too markedly from what we’ve seen in other hostage Westerns, but this is still a stagecoach movie written by the guy who wrote the screenplay for Stagecoach (Dudley Nichols).
Extras: Includes a before-and-after primer on Rawhide’s 2007 restoration; interviews from the standard DVD; a Susan Hayward featurette; and a look at Lone Pine, Calif., whose geographical location and mountain/desert locales made it ideal for the may Westerns that were shot there.
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A Cry in the Night

Available via Warner Archive       
Warner, Drama, $21.99 DVD, NR.
Stars Edmond O’Brien, Brian Donlevy, Natalie Wood, Raymond Burr.
A Cry in the Night is a grimy black-and-white hybrid of a police procedural and twisted domestic drama where both plot-central families are having a dysfunctional time of it, and there’s something about it that gets a little under the skin the way that sleazy melodramas with name casts can sometimes do.
Read the Full Review


16 Aug, 2016

Raising an Eyebrow at 'Angry Birds'

(L-R): Walmart's and Target's 'Angry Birds Movie' exclusives
(L-R): Walmart's and Target's 'Angry Birds Movie' exclusives

Several exclusives arrived at retail Aug. 16, some of them based on Sony Pictures' The Angry Birds Movie.

For the animated adaptation of the popular mobile phone video game, Target offered a special "Red Edition" with fuzzy-eyebrow packaging, wearable eyebrows and more than 20 minutes of exclusive bonus content. In additionn, Target offered an instant $5 saving swith the purchase of the movie with a Lego "Piggy Plane" attack set (priced at $19.99).

Walmart offered a gift set containing the Blu-ray combo pack with a plush doll of the Red character.

Among other titles, a few retailers had some exclusives in the form of special early availablility. Best Buy had the Blu-ray of Paramount's South Park: Season 19, available everywhere else Sept. 6. Amazon.com had Sony Pictures' Community: The Complete Series boxed set, which comes with a "yearbook" guide book.

Best Buy offered a $10 gift card with the purchase of $50 or more on select TV seasons.

15 Aug, 2016

New on Disc: 'Five Days One Summer' and more …

Five Days One Summer

Available via Warner Archive       
Warner, Drama, $21.99 DVD, ‘PG.’
Stars Sean Connery, Betsy Brantley, Lambert Wilson.
The swan song of director Fred Zinnemann has become something of a minor cult film. Sean Connery, who’s the only marquee bait here, plays a Scottish physician traveling in 1932 with a much younger woman for a short climbing holiday in the Swiss Alps. With a mostly no-name cast and confined setting, this is an interesting picture to observe strictly from a visual point of view since a lot of the budget (which wasn’t minor) had to have gone toward challenges posed by the physical setting and lots of mountain footage that rarely looks fake because it apparently wasn’t.
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Amateur Night at City Hall

MVD, Documentary, $19.95 DVD, NR.
Amateur Night at City Hall, whose major drawback is that it was perhaps made too soon, is a documentary from Robert Mugge that focuses on Frank Rizzo, the attitude-heavy street cop who advanced from Philadelphia police commissioner to becoming the city’s two-term mayor beginning in 1971, while managing to politicize every institution he touched along the way.
Read the Full Review

9 Aug, 2016

Get Some Popcorn With 'Scooby-Doo'

Aug. 9 was a slow week for new home video releases, but Target offered exclusives on a couple of titles.

Target gave a free six-pack of Pop Secret popcorn with the purchase of Warner's Scooby-Doo! and WWE: Curse of the Speed Demon on disc.

Target also had an exclusive collectible package for Warner's Supergirl: The Complete First Season.

Best Buy offered 100 My Best Buy points with preorders of the Blu-rays of Disney's The Jungle Book and Captain America: Civil War, Warner's The Flash: Season Two and Arrow: Season Four, and Paramount's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.

8 Aug, 2016

New on Disc: 'Zelig' and more …

Zelig (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Woody Allen, Mia Farrow.
Carried to an extent by a one-joke premise that a 79-minute running time keeps from wearing out its welcome, this black-and-white production deals with a literal human chameleon who manages to insinuate himself into just about every major political and pop culture event between the Jazz Age and the Depression/Third Reich early 1930s.
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’Neath the Arizona Skies

Olive, Western, $14.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars John Wayne, Sheila Terry, Shirley Jean Rickert, Yakima Canutt, Gabby Hayes.
As one of 16 low-budget “Lone Star” Western releases that John Wayne ground out between 1933 and 1935, ‘Neath the Arizona Skies must be one of the cheapest-looking movies to have rated a Blu-ray release. Still, this is Wayne in his formative years, so by definition a fun view.
Read the Full Review

2 Aug, 2016

'Killing Joke' Available in Special Retail Exclusive Packaging

Best Buy's 'Killing Joke' Blu-ray with comic book
Best Buy's 'Killing Joke' Blu-ray with comic book

Retailers gave fans a few packaging options when choosing to pick up Warner's Batman: The Killing Joke.

Warner released the movie as a DVD, a Blu-ray combo pack and a Blu-ray with a Joker figurine.

Best Buy offered a deluxe version of the figurine gift set that also included a version of the Batman: The Man Who Laughs graphic novel.

Target offered the Blu-ray combo pack with a steelbook case.

Target also had exclusive covers for Sony Pictures' The Blacklist: The Complete Third Season DVD and Warner's Blindspot: The Complete First Season Blu-ray.

26 Jul, 2016

Finding Exclusives Like a 'Boss'

Walmart's 'The Boss: High-Roller Edition'
Walmart's 'The Boss: High-Roller Edition'

A few stores had exclusive promotions tied to Universal's The Boss, a comedy with Melissa McCarthy that arrived on shelves July 26, shortly after the theatrical debut of her Ghostbusters remake.

Best Buy offered a free T-shirt with the film's logo with purchase of The Boss Blu-ray. The shirt was offered on its own for $9.99.

Walmart offered a special "High-Roller Edition" Blu-ray with 30 minutes of exclusive bonus materials.

Among other offers, Best Buy had a 3-for-$20 deal on recent Blu-ray releases, and an $8 Jason Bourne movie coupon with the purchase of select titles.

Target offered Warner's Batman v Superman with a six-pack of Dr. Pepper.


25 Jul, 2016

New on Disc: 'Deadline U.S.A.' and more …

Deadline U.S.A. (Blu-ray)

Street 7/26/16
Kino Lorber, Drama, $19.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Humphrey Bogart, Kim Hunter Ethel Barrymore, Martin Gabel.
One of the reasons that Deadline U.S.A., the cheerleading newspaper melodrama that writer/director Richard Brooks, continues to have a following is that certain things never change.
Extras: Includes another dynamically entertaining commentary from film historian Eddie Muller.
Read the Full Review

Stakeout on Dope Street

Available via Warner Archive       
Warner, Drama, $21.99 DVD, NR.
Stars Yale Wexler, Jonathan Haze, Morris Miller, Abby Dalton.
The debut feature for both director Irvin Kerhsner and cinematographer Haskell Wexler halfway falls into the teen-exploitation genre itself due to its plot-central portrayal of three out-of-their-league rookies who find an entire canister of uncut heroin that’s been desperately abandoned by thug kingpin subordinates during a police drug bust that goes south.
Read the Full Review

25 Jul, 2016

Netflix's Pricing Dilemma

Netflix’s latest financial report can be taken in one of two ways. Cynics may read the report, in which the streaming service reported missing its growth projection by 32%, as a precursor of impending doom. They might take issue with CEO Reed Hastings’ assertion, in a shareholder letter, that market saturation in the United States isn’t a factor, and that the slower-than-expected growth was largely a reflection of a price increase in monthly subscriptions — a price increase Netflix badly needed to remain competitive in acquiring, and producing, content. In fact, one might argue that if the U.S. market isn’t saturated, then why bother to raise the price? As for international expansion, growth projections there weren’t met, either.

Cynics see this as a clear indicator that Netflix has some serious headwinds to contend with, headwinds that will only grow stronger as time marches on. The most pessimistic among them believe Netflix is living on borrowed time, and — just like so many trendy products and services, may ultimately shrink (like MySpace) or vanish completely (like Blockbuster, which ironically was deep-sixed by Netflix effectively building a better mousetrap).

Personally, I don’t see much cause for alarm in Netflix’s latest numbers — at least, not yet. Subscription growth may be leveling out, but I don’t see churn increasing significantly anytime soon, as long as Netflix keeps future price hikes in check. It’s sort of like gym memberships — the gyms that charge 10 bucks a month are flourishing because the amount is too small for most people to notice each month when it’s automatically charged to their credit cards or taken out of their bank accounts.

Saturation is a bigger concern, both in the United States and globally. While a flattening out of Netflix revenue would still see the company in serious money, investors aren’t generally drawn to slow and steady. They want growth to continue, as evidenced by the 15% plunge in Netflix’s stock price in the wake of the earnings report’s release.

Another challenge Netflix is facing is competition. Dozens of OTT rivals have sprung up, and Netflix is finding that while its logo is popping up on more and more TV screens, so are those of other services, from Amazon Prime to Hulu. And despite Netflix’s push toward original programming, Netflix fatigue will become a bigger factor over time — which means the company will have to spend even more money on content, money that at some point in time will be harder to cough up.

It’s a classic case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Netflix will need to keep raising prices to remain in the game, but it can’t raise prices too much or else subscribers will jump ship and go elsewhere — particularly as the pool of alternatives continues to expand.