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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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28 Oct, 2014

Target Has Exclusive 'Brady Bunch' DVDs


Target shoppers looking over the Oct. 28 might have raised an eyebrow at seeing a sizable promotion for individual DVD season sets of the 1969-74 TV sitcom “The Brady Bunch,” on disc from CBS and Paramount.

The show was released on DVD in 2005 and 2006, before CBS took over the rights, but now Target is exclusively selling the re-release at $9.99 per season. This is an exclusive early window for the retailer, as the DVDs will be widely available Dec. 9.

Target also has early availability of Disney’s Phineas & Ferb: Star Wars, which won’t be widely available until Nov. 11.

Target also offered an exclusive bracelet with Shout! Factory’s My Little Pony Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks.

Walmart had a re-release of Fox’s Free Birds DVD with a plush toy

Best Buy offered some incentives on preorders, including 100 My Best Buy bonus points for each $19.99 preorder of such titles as Disney’s Maleficent, DreamWorks’ How to Train Your Dragon 2, Fox’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Sony Pictures’ 22 Jump Street (with bonus content), Paramount’s Hercules (with bonus content) and Paramount’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (with steelbook packaging).


28 Oct, 2014

Good-Bye Mrs. Kotter

Marcia Strassman
Marcia Strassman

Back in the mid-1980s I managed a bike shop — Ernie’s Pro Bikes — on trendy San Vicente Blvd., in the swanky Brentwood suburb of West Los Angeles.

Actress Marcia Strassman, who died Oct. 24 at age 66 following a seven-year battle with breast cancer, parlayed a brief but mundane role at the end of each episode as Gabe Kaplan’s understanding wife on the hit ’70s sitcom “Welcome Back, Kotter,” to cult status.

Even at 5-10 with sparkling eyes and lean figure, Strassman didn’t necessarily stand out. She didn’t need to. Her air of normalcy in a town awash with manufactured vanity — a welcomed respite, especially at Ernie’s where she would pop in on occasion for no apparent reason. An unhappy marriage ventured during one visit.

Strassman had just caught lightning in a bottle for a second time with the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids movie franchise — again playing the wife character to lead actor Rick Moranis. 

While she really wasn’t interested in cycling, the colorful bikes, Lycra clothing and related accessories intrigued her. She would pull up on a shop stool and ask oddball questions like why male cyclists shaved their legs? Or how do the gears on a bike work?

When I told her I could show her a few shaving tricks, she blushed and smiled. She once vented her frustration out loud on the pay inequalities with the 1992 sequel, Honey, I Blew Up the Kid. She also joked having “made it” in Hollywood by virtue of a “hunky” personal driver assigned during filming.

If Los Angeles is indeed a constellation of plastic, Strassman seemed an odd fit. Like a lot of LA stories, Ernie’s is no more — replaced by a trendy eatery du jour. But the memory of Ms. Strassman remains.


27 Oct, 2014

New on Disc: 'Fedora' and more …


Fedora

Street 10/28
Olive, Drama, $24.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, ‘PG.’
Stars William Holden, Marthe Keller, Hildegarde Knef, Jose Ferrer.
1978.
Billy Wilder’s troubled penultimate project has enough qualified admirers to make its Blu-ray release something of a minor event for major league movie buffs. Three-movie Wilder veteran William Holden (just off Network) plays a filmmaker facing some of the same problems his own writer-director was facing during production as an old man in a young man’s business.
Read the Full Review

Married to the Mob (Blu-ray)

Kino Lorber, Comedy, $29.95 Blu-ray, ‘R.’
Stars Michelle Pfeiffer, Matthew Modine, Dean Stockwell, Alec Baldwin.
1988.
This movie, about the challenges of an undercover FBI agent (Matthew Modine) to survive at his job while simultaneously romancing a recently widowed mob wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) is of a piece with director Jonathan Demme’s more-esteemed Something Wild (1986), thanks to its incessant wacky streak, creative casting, beat-heavy musical soundtrack and vibrant color schemes.
Read the Full Review


24 Oct, 2014

Subscription Fever Could Break


Recent news is awash with content owners and producers breaking the cable cord and following the Netflix model of online subscription streaming. Companies such as HBO, CBS and Lionsgate are looking to the Web to create a new avenue to the consumer.

It is particularly interesting that both a broadcast network, CBS, and a major cable network, HBO, are looking to the Web to capture viewers. They represent the entrenched establishment of television programming. Both CBS and HBO have made fortunes via the traditional cable and broadcast route.

CBS Corp. Oct. 16 announced the launch of “CBS All Access,” a $5.99-per-month standalone subscription streaming service that doesn’t require a concurrent pay-TV subscription. That came on the heels of an announcement to an investor group by HBO’s Richard Plepler that the company will launch a standalone over-the-top video service not requiring a cable/satellite/telecom subscription (as opposed to the current HBO Go service) in the United States in 2015. It all makes me think of the World Wrestling Entertainment announcement at the Consumer Electronics Show last January. The wrestling company unveiled a grand plan to go directly to its consumers via a 24-hour streaming network, with a $9.99 a month subscription offering live PPV events, reality shows, original shows, documentaries, classic matches and more than 1,500 hours of VOD programming.

My question is what does this all add up to for the average consumer? Say I’m a wrestling fan ($9.99 a month) who wants to have access to CBS programming ($5.99 a month) with a basic Netflix subscription ($7.99 or more a month) in addition to my basic internet/cable access cost and goodness knows what other programming.

It seems to me that cord cutters may get more specific choices, but may end up paying more than what they would with your average cable package. As any restaurant customer knows, a la carte menu items often end up costing more than the buffet.


22 Oct, 2014

Charting 35 Years of Change


I'm writing this from the outdoor patio at the Ritz Carlton in Marina Del Rey, Calif., where I have just finished speaking on a panel discussion on OTT, subscription streaming and how Netflix, in the words of one panelist, "is eating everyone's lunch."

Reflecting on the 35 years that Home Media Magazine, originally Video Store Magazine, has been covering home entertainment, the changes in our business truly have been monumental since the late Stuart Karl launched a trade magazine to cater to the growing flock of video rental stores that were popping up in the wake of that pivotal moment the year before when Andre Blay licensed 50 movies from 20th Century Fox and released them on videocassette.

The very concept of "streaming" would have seemed like something out of “Star Trek” to the early readers of Video Store Magazine back in 1979, those Neanderthal days before the Internet and the personal computer.

"Connected" meant ties to organized crime, "content" meant you were satisfied and "digit" anything made you think of fingers and thumbs.

And yet, at the same time, lots of things have not changed — fundamental, bigger-picture things that call to mind the saying, "The more things change, the more they stay the same."

The studios, as lords of filmed entertainment, still want ultimate control over that entertainment — and they prefer clean, neat sales transactions directly to the consumer, with no middle-man, no sharing of the spoils. In 1979 they battled mom-and-pop rental stores over the right to rent; today, they're pushing electronic sellthrough to consumers in love with Netflix and that infernal subscription streaming genie the studios wish they could somehow cram back into the bottle.

On the distribution side, there's still someone who's eating everyone else's lunch — Netflix today, Blockbuster a generation ago.

And among consumers, there continues to be a rabid appetite for entertainment that seems to be increasing now that our TVs are connected and our smartphones function as mini-home theaters.

That, and a burning desire to have that entertainment delivered on demand as cheaply and as simply as possible. VHS opened the door to consumers being able to watch what they want, when they want, where they want. DVD made things even easier, with its low sale price (no need for a return trip to the rental store) and random access. Netflix simplified the process even more with its by-mail subscriptions — heck, now you didn't even have to leave your home. And with subscription streaming the process of watching on-demand entertainment is even easier and cheaper than it's ever been.

What's going to be the next step in this steady progression of ease and simplicity? I have no clue — and yet I can't wait to find out.
 


21 Oct, 2014

Exclusive Universal Titles at Walmart

Walmart's Universal exclusives
Walmart's Universal exclusives

Walmart Oct. 21 offered four exclusive DVDs from Universal: Not Safe for Work, Mercy, Mockingbird and Stretch. Each had a cover sticker touting a $3 savings with the purchase of that title and The Purge: Anarchy.

Walmart also touted its Vudu InstaWatch system, which lets shoppers redeem their digital copy from purchased discs by using their receipt and the Walmart app.

Target offered 30 minutes of exlcusive content with Mad Men: The Final Season — Part 1, in the form of the show’s 2014 Paleyfest panel.

Target also has an exclusive “Downton Abbey” CD soundtrack with preorders of season five of the show at Target.com/Downton. The promotion was highlighted on a sticker on the new four-season DVD and Blu-ray packs of the show.


20 Oct, 2014

New on Disc: 'The Lusty Men' and more …


The Lusty Men

Available via Warner Archive
Warner, Drama, $21.99 DVD, NR.
Stars Robert Mitchum, Susan Hayward, Arthur Kennedy, Arthur Hunnicutt.
1952.
Newly remastered, this solid rodeo drama from director Nicholas Ray stars Robert Mitchum as an aging rodeo star who comes across a married couple (Arthur Kennedy and Susan Hayward). The tone Ray maintains throughout is mostly perfect and consistent against a triangular dramatic set-up that seems almost foolproof.
Read the Full Review

Al Capone: Icon

PBS, Documentary, $24.99 DVD, NR.
2014.
This lukewarm bio makes some good points about Al Capone’s criminal career, a central thesis being that bootlegging so “made” Capone’s career that if Prohibition hadn’t existed, it’s likely that he’d never escaped the lower rungs of Chicago sociopathy.
Read the Full Review
 


15 Oct, 2014

Extending Love to the Amodei Family

Kate and Joe Amodei
Kate and Joe Amodei

Our hearts go out to our good friend Joe Amodei, head of Virgil Films, whose beloved daughter, Kate, 29, died early in the morning Monday, Oct. 13, in Philadelphia. God bless you and your family, Joe, and may your precious little girl rest in peace until you see her again.

Kate's funeral will be held Friday, Oct. 17, 2014, at Woodside Presbyterian Church, 1667 Edgewood Road, Yardley, Penn. 19067.

Calling hours — 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Funeral service — 11 a.m.

There will be a luncheon following the burial service.

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that donations be made in Kate's honor to Philabundance. Condolences may be expressed at the Hoffmann Funeral Home Bensalem website: www.hoffmannfuneralhome.com.

In charge of special markets/operations at Virgil, Kate Amodei was a graduate of Temple University and a proud activist who loved to help those less fortunate. She was also an EMT.

Kate is survived by her grandfather, Joe Amodei; parents, Joe and Ginger Amodei; sister and brother-in-law, Kristina and Matt Ulmer; nieces, Aubrey and Elena Ulmer; best friend, Sarah Hughes; boyfriend, Matt Eby; cousin, Dana Amodei; and many other friends, coworkers and family members.

This is not how it's supposed to work. Our children are supposed to outlive us. The pain Joe and his wife, Ginger, must be experiencing is unimaginable. On behalf of the whole home video community where Joe has long been an integral player, we extend our sympathies — and our love.
 


14 Oct, 2014

Plenty of Retail Power for 'X-Men'

Best Buy's 'X-Men' gift set
Best Buy's 'X-Men' gift set

Fans had their pick among retail exclusive editions for Fox's Oct. 14 home video release of X-Men: Days of Future Past.

Best Buy had a huge display of "X-Men" titles, including a special gift set for the 3D Blu-ray edition of Days of Future Past that included special mutant files. Target offered the 2D Blu-ray combo pack in special metalpak packaging.

Walmart had a couple of Days of Future Past exclusives, the most notable being copies of the 3D and 2D Blu-rays packed with special miniature editions of the two-part 1981 comic book storyline upon which the film is based. Walmart also had an exclusive bare-bones DVD edition of the film.

Amazon.com offered a gift set of the Days of Future Past 3D combo pack that included a replica Magneto helmet.

The week's other big title, DreamWorks Animation's Mr. Peabody & Sherman, also had exclusives at the three major retailers.

Walmart had the 2D Blu-ray of Mr. Peabody & Sherman packed with a plush Mr. Peabody doll. Walmart also offered a special bare-bones DVD edition.

Target offered the 2D Blu-ray packed with a bowtie and glasses, while Best Buy offered a lunch box for $4.99 with purchase of the film ($9.99 on its own).

Among other titles, Target had the first season of Paramount's "Penny Dreadful" with special Blu-ray box art, while Walmart had exclusive availability of Universal's animated movie Dive Olly Dive and the Pirate Treasure.

Fox packaged copies of its Fargo: Season One Blu-ray set with a special knit beanie cap.


13 Oct, 2014

New on Disc: 'Dick Cavett's Watergate' and more …


Dick Cavett’s Watergate

Street 10/14
PBS, Documentary, $24.99 DVD, NR.
2014.
Just about the only non-news show that would touch the subject of Watergate during the period was the one hosted by the only Johnny Carson rival who managed to carve out an equally vital late-night niche of his own. This pressure-packed remembrance is hosted by today’s version of Dick Cavett, assisted by star Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, former White House counsel and eventual beans-spiller John Dean, former Nixon Library historian Timothy Naftali (this guy is the final word in historical context) and more.
Read the Full Review

Shoot-Out at Medicine Bend

Available via Warner Archive
Warner, Western, $21.99 DVD, NR.
Stars Randolph Scott, James Craig, Angie Dickinson, James Garner.
1957.
Truth to tell, there’s really no shoot-out in this lukewarm but sporadically ticklish Randolph Scott Western, but you do get a punch-out or two once the baddies start to get theirs in piecemeal fashion in the later reels. James Garner and Angie Dickinson have major roles when they were very young.
Read the Full Review