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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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5 Oct, 2015

New on Disc: 'Emperor of the North' and more …

Emperor of the North (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, ‘PG’
Stars Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Keith Carradine.
Though ultimately not up to its frequent high points, Robert Aldrich’s nothing if not peppy attempt to overcome an obscure-sounding movie title is an undeniable auteur exercise, starting with its choice in casting.
Read the Full Review

Directed by John Ford (DVD Review)

Available via Warner Archive
Warner, Documentary, $21.99 DVD, NR.
Even before director Peter Bogdanovich gave it a substantial facelift in 2006, his 1971 documentary on John Ford ranked with the best of its type (and by now, there must be half-a-dozen documentaries just on Ford alone). But substantial additions and an all-out reshaping for a Turner Classic Movies broadcast not quite a decade ago turned Directed into a model of its kind.
Read the Full Review

29 Sep, 2015

A 'Spy' for Some Good Deals

Walmart's two-pack of 'Spy' and 'The Heat'
Walmart's two-pack of 'Spy' and 'The Heat'

Several new releases Sept. 29 were connected with discount offers at various retailers.

For Fox's action-comedy hybrid Spy, Walmart offered a DVD two-pack of the film with another action-comedy hybrid starring Melissa McCarthy, The Heat.

Best Buy also tied The Heat to Spy, but in the form of a $5 discount when both titles were bought together. Best Buy offered The Heat at $7.99 on DVD and $9.99 on Blu-ray.

Best Buy also offered exclusive lenticular box art on the 3D Blu-ray edition of Fox's Poltergeist remake, and offered a $5 discount when the disc was purchased with a tie-in catalog title.

Target offered a $10 discount when the disc of Sony Pictures' Outlander: Season One Vol. Two was bought with an "Outlander" paperbook priced at $8.49.

Stores were also busy plugging their exclusives for the Oct. 2 release of Marvel's Agengers: Age of Ultron, with Target offering exclusive bonus content and Best Buy listing themed steelbook Blu-ray cases for the characters of Ultron and The Vision.

28 Sep, 2015

New on Disc: 'Fat City' and more …

Fat City (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, ‘PG.’
Stars Stacy Keach, Jeff Bridges, Susan Tyrrell, Candy Clark.
John Huston’s unsentimental adaptation of Leonard Gardner’s still rhapsodically praised source novel results in an inevitably downbeat affair about two boxers with distractions, one of them over the hill and the other a youth trying to figure if he wants to take more than one or two steps up the slope.
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The High Cost of Loving

Available via Warner Archive
Warner, Comedy, $21.99 DVD, NR.
Stars Jose Ferrer, Gena Rowlands, Bobby Troup.
Gena Rowlands’ big-screen debut casts her opposite director/lead Jose Ferrer in a minor but agreeable comedy in which, like most comedies of the period, observational nuggets to be gleaned are sometimes more interesting than the story at hand.
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22 Sep, 2015

Retailers Offering 'Pitch Perfect' Exclusives

Walmart's 'Pitch Perfect 2' gift set
Walmart's 'Pitch Perfect 2' gift set

Fans of Universal's Pitch Perfect 2 had plenty of options for picking up the DVD or Blu-ray with a special retail-exclusive add-on.

Best Buy offered a free T-shirt with purchase of Pitch Perfect 2 on Blu-ray. Those who bought the Blu-ray were also offerd a special price on the first film of $7.99 for the DVD or $9.99 for the Blu-ray.

Target offered a special deluxe edition of Pitch Perfect 2 with 30 minutes of exclusive bonus content. Fans could save $5 by buying both the movie and soundtrack CD at the same time.

Speaking of the soundtrack, Walmart offered a Pitch Perfect 2 gift set with a pack-in eight-song CD sampler.

Among promotions for other movies, Target offered a $10 discount with the purchase of both Furious 7 on disc and a tie-in RC car toy.

21 Sep, 2015

Now Is the Time to Take Back Our Business

The home entertainment business is beginning to make sense again. The emergence of Ultra HD appears to have galvanized everyone to once again to work toward a common goal, which is the same goal the studios have been pushing since this business began nearly 40 years ago: getting consumers to buy movies for on-demand viewing, at a nice profit.

The Blu-ray Disc Association wasted no time in drafting specs for the Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc, which will be the optimum way to watch movies with four times the clarity, and 64 times as many colors, as HD. Nearly 10 years after its launch, the physical disc is still unmatched in terms of quality and durability.

Within weeks of the BDA announcement in late August, Samsung and 20th Century Fox were first out of the gate with a player and movie titles. (See story, page 10) Samsung’s Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc player promptly won a rash of accolades from the technology press  at the IFA 2015 trade show in Berlin, where it was unveiled. As Tom’s Guide noted, “Streaming services come and go, but the UHD Blu-ray player will let you keep a permanent collection.”

Also in September, we saw the launch of Vidity, an enabling technology that lets consumers store their UHD content locally instead of in the cloud, and also easily move it around to various devices, from Ultra HD widescreens to smartphones. With each disc or download they buy they get a package of files geared toward all these various devices, for instant viewing anywhere, at any time.

Let’s face it — our industry is never going to put the Netflix genie back in the bottle. Reed Hastings and his crew came up with a brilliant concept, playing right into the twin “wants” that I believe dictate all human behavior: simple and cheap. Netflix was also able to hit the studios when they were down and offer them big bucks for catalog product, more than they were getting by putting it out on disc. The result, of course, has been a near-complete decimation of the catalog business — and a stern warning to studios that the content they value the most, the fresh new theatricals, must always remain in their control.

And the studios have done a great job protecting their new releases. The problem is, they haven’t done such a great job in keeping consumers interested in buying them. UltraViolet never lived up to its promise because it was a complicated process — further encumbered by Disney’s insistence on going it alone, with Disney Movies Anywhere. As the song says, “united we stand, divided we fall. …”

We now have an exciting new product, Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc, and it is incumbent that other studios follow 20th Century Fox’s lead and start announcing, and issuing, product — sooner rather than later. We also have Vidity, which not only eases the transition from physical to digital, but also immensely enhances the digital value proposition. Again, it is critically important that other studios join in and not proceed with their own proprietary variant.

The more I think about it, the primary reason home entertainment began to stumble and fall a decade ago was that it stopped making sense. At a time when the quality of the viewing experience should have been front and center, our industry kept getting distracted, first by BD-Live, a failed attempt to appear technologically cool at a time when few TVs were even connected to the Internet, and then by 3D, a perfect storm of a disaster (I remember buying a TV and no one knew which glasses I needed, not even the tech support guys at Panasonic!).

We’re at the point now where consumers are spending a little more than half as much on buying movies than they were a decade ago. Everyone’s tuning in to Netflix, studio home entertainment divisions have been bled dry of some of their brightest talent, and the TV folks are taking over, with OTT the mantra of the day.

And yet the opportunity to take back our business — selling movies to consumers — is now at hand. Let’s think long-term viability, not short-term profits, and do it right.

15 Sep, 2015

'Furious 7,' 'Cinderella' Provide Retail Opportunities

Walmart's exclusive 'Furious 7' Blu-ray
Walmart's exclusive 'Furious 7' Blu-ray

Retailers had some good choices to offer exclusives to consumers Sept. 15 in the form of Universal's Furious 7 and Disney's live-action Cinderella.

For Furious 7, Best Buy offered an exclusive steelbook Blu-ray case, plus the previous films as Blu-ray steelbooks for $9.99 each. Target had the Blu-ray with a five-track soundtrack sampler CD, while Walmart offered a limited-edition Blu-ray combo pack with exclusive box art and bonus content.

For Cinderella, Best Buy had a Blu-ray combo pack with lenticular box art. Target offered the Blu-ray with 15 minutes of exclusive bonus content, the featurettes "Becoming the Prince" and "Something Magical."

Best Buy also offered a $10 savings with the purchase of both the fist season of "Empire" on disc and the show's soundtrack album.

In addition, Best Buy offered Blu-ray steelbooks for nine James Bond films for $11.99 each and a Daniel Craig collection steelbook for $19.99.


14 Sep, 2015

New on Disc: 'The Front Page' and more …

The Front Page

Kino Lorber, Comedy, $19.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Adolphe Menjou, Pat O’Brien, Mary Brian.
Lewis Milestone’s early talkie of the Ben Hecht-Charles MacArthur stage hit is kind of a relic but an amusing one, and after several remakes and updates over the years, this Library of Congress restoration puts the movie back in its comfort zone, which is to say the same general time span in which the story takes place.
Extras: Includes a Library of Congress featurette and two radio adaptations (1937 and 1946, the first with Walter Winchell).
Read the Full Review

Trader Horn

Available via Warner Archive
Warner, Adventure, $21.99 DVD, NR.
Stars Harry Carey Sr., Duncan Renaldo, Edwina Booth.
As the first non-documentary to take movie audiences into Africa on a major studio’s large dime, W.S. Van Dyke’s still entertaining not-quite creaker (a best picture Oscar nominee at the time) has a famous production history.
Read the Full Review

8 Sep, 2015

Exclusives for 'Gotham,' 'Barbie'

Target's 'Gotham' Steelbook
Target's 'Gotham' Steelbook

Retailers Sept. 8 brought out exclusive offers for Warner's Gotham: The Complete First Season and Universal's Barbie in Rock ’N Royals.

Target offered "Gotham" with a steelbook case for both the DVD and Blu-ray editions. Best Buy offered an exclusive bonus disc with the DVDs and Blu-rays of the first season.

For Barbie in Rock ’N Royals, Target offered a free mini doll with purchase of the DVD or Blu-ray.

Best Buy offered $10 off with the purchase of both seasons of "The Goldbergs" on DVD from Sony Pictures. The second season was released on disc this week.

7 Sep, 2015

New on Disc: 'House of Bamboo' and more …

House of Bamboo (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Robert Stack, Robert Ryan, Shirley Yamaguchi.
Samuel Fuller reportedly studied up on his Japanese cinema before tackling this completely refurbished remake of 1948’s The Street With No Name, and the result is still one of Fuller’s best efforts and proof of what he could do when he finally got a budget.
Extras: Twilight Time colleagues Nick Redman and Julie Kirgo provide a spirited Blu-ray commentary. There’s another good voiceover by Alain Silver and James Ursini carried over from Fox’s visually inferior standard-definition release from many years ago). One potential extra you won’t (nor should expect) to find here is Andy Williams’ iTunes-available “House of Bamboo” recording.
Read the Full Review

Peter Ibbetson

Available via Universal Vault Series
Universal, Romance, $14.98 DVD, NR.
Stars Gary Cooper, Ann Harding, Ida Lupino.
Transparently based on a three-act play that maintains the three-act structure despite famously luminous Charles Lang photography that keeps things from getting too stagey, this movie with a notable cult following focuses on two lovers so linked together in each other’s minds that they manage to communicate directly or maybe even telepathically during long lives that rarely even find them in the same room once they’re separated amid their Parisian childhoods.
Read the Full Review

1 Sep, 2015

Taking a 'Fury Road' to Exclusive-Town

Best Buy's 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Blu-ray steelbook
Best Buy's 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Blu-ray steelbook

Warner's Mad Max: Fury Road drew the most retail attention Sept. 1, which isn't surprising since it was the biggest theatrical to hit disc in a week filled with new TV on disc releases.

Best Buy offered the Blu-ray combo pack of Fury Road with an exclusive steelbook case.

Target had the Fury Road Blu-ray packed with an exclusive 64-page comic book.

Target also offered exclusive deals with new TV on disc content. For Paramount's Scorpion: Season One DVD, Target offered 47 minutes of exclusive behind-the-scenes material. Target also offered an exclusive bonus disc with Paramount's Madame Secretary: Season 1, featuring 40 minutes of extras including a set tour.

Walmart, as it usually does for high-profile new releases, offered a bare-bones DVD edition of Fury Road with different box art and no extras. Given that Walmart stores didn't even offer the regular version, and that the stripped-down version was priced similarly to the full version at other stores, Walmart's decision to offer just the vanilla version seems strange (Walmart didn't even mark the version it was selling as an exclusive). About the only thing Walmart's exclusive will accomplish is preventing its customers from realizing they could have a version of the movie with several bonus featurettes for about the same price.

Continuing the topic of Walmart head-scratchers, several stores around Southern California have been putting embargoed "Star Wars" merchandise on shelves weeks before the Sept. 4 "Force Friday" unveiling of new merchandise surrounding Star Wars: The Force Awakens (in many cases, the clerks don't seem to even know the items shouldn't be on display yet). This includes new toys and branded clothing, but the fact that they are on public display was seen to cause some confusion as eager fans kept trying to buy the items, only to have them ring up as "Sale Not Allowed," leading to befuddled cashiers and managers wondering what was going on as the checkout line continued to grow.