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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 May, 2016

Will High Dynamic Range Attract Film Fans?

I’ve been in this business long enough to see many iterations of increased home entertainment quality (as in more visually and audibly stunning) content trotted out by the content owners. DVD was a revelation. Then Blu-ray Disc upped the ante. Dolby and DTS added to the effect, as did better and better TV screens and 3D viewing.

I’ve never, however, been able to discern quite so clearly the difference that I have seen between an HD presentation and an Ultra HD presentation with high dynamic range. When you see the two side-by-side it is truly a leap ahead. Obviously, 3D was a great leap forward, but it required glasses and (sometimes) gave viewers a headache. HDR is different. As colorist Tim Stippen on the Deadpool 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray (with HDR) put it, “I think this is the wave of the future because you’re seeing more of what the camera captured.”

Seeing more of what the camera captured is putting home entertainment quality on the right track in my book. That puts the viewer in the shoes of the director, cinematographer, actors and other filmmakers. It brings the viewer closer to the content.

“I truly thought it was the best-looking version of the movie by far,” Deadpool director Tim Miller said at the presentation on the Fox lot in May.

And that’s what the home entertainment business has been striving for, at least in recent years — the best-looking version — for home entertainment libraries, and for posterity.

I was once at an event at CES in which director Oliver Stone exhorted movie fans to collect hard copies (discs) of their favorite movies because those copies will become rare in the digital future and will be of the best quality.

The best quality version of content is, and will always be, what defines home entertainment collections. And I think 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc with HDR fits that bill.

24 May, 2016

Posing for 'Zoolander'

Target's 'Zoolander No. 2' exclusive Blu-ray
Target's 'Zoolander No. 2' exclusive Blu-ray

Paramount's Zoolander No. 2 was the only notable release May 24 to be offered with a retail exclusive.

That promotion came at Target, which offered exclusive box art for the comedy sequel and a 45-minute bonus disc.

Target also offered a $5 gift card with the purchase of a DVD of Sony Pictures' The 5th Wave with any book in the "5th Wave" series.

Best Buy offered a $10 gift card with the purchase of $50 worth of movies or TV seasons. The offer runs through June 18.

In the lead-up to the theatrical release of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, Walmart is selling off extra inventory of its exclusive gift set of the 2014 film on Blu-ray, which comes packed with miniature figurines of the four turtles.

23 May, 2016

New on Disc: 'Too Late for Tears' and more …

Too Late for Tears

Flicker Alley, Mystery, $39.95 Blu-ray/DVD, NR.
Stars Lizabeth Scott, Dan Duryea, Don DeFore, Arthur Kennedy, Kristine Miller.
This arguably definitive Lizabeth Scott performance and more were saved from extinction by UCLA’s Film and Television Archive working with the Film Noir Foundation to juggle various imperfect sources. Scott is such a piece of work here that one can only chuckle at her character’s rabid greed after this so-called housewife flukes her way into a tempting situation that immediately swallows her up and ends up destroying lives.
Extras: Includes an informative but infectiously wry commentary by historian/writer/programmer Alan Rode; a making-of short; cool production photos and press-book ads; some on-screen nuts-and-bolts regarding the restoration; and a background essay.
Read the Full Review

The King and Four Queens (Blu-ray)

Street 5/24/16
Olive, Western, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Clark Gable, Eleanor Parker, Jo Van Fleet, Barbara Nichols.
Looking a little weary on the range, Clark Gable took his one stab at producing a movie with this easy-to-tolerate Raoul Walsh trifle.
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20 May, 2016

Remembering Rick Doherty

Rick Doherty
Rick Doherty

I was saddened to hear of the passing of Rick Doherty, the celebrated CE journalist and analyst who moderated nearly all of the panel discussions on OTT for Digital Hollywood that I was on, including one just last January at the Consumer Electronics Show.

Doherty, most recently cofounder and director of The Envisioneering Group, a 20-year old international consultancy, died May 12 of a heart attack at the age of 64.

He was not only one of the most brilliant people I have encountered in my nearly 30 years as an entertainment and technology journalist, but also one of the most charming, charismatic and humble. I still get a chuckle when I read the email he sent out before one of our many panel discussions on OTT: “If you have a burning topic you'd like asked and the audience seems shy, tell me before 8:45 a.m. please.  I'll have a few extra passes for your associates at 8:30 a.m. … This is about my 230th panel for Victor [Harwood, creator of Digital Hollywood]. Don't worry.”

The terseness of the email belies what a conversation with the man was like — and we had many of those, both before and after our half-dozen or so panels together. Doherty was a walking, talking encyclopedia of CE, and yet he was remarkably up to date on the latest technological developments affecting our industry — the rise, and impact, of OTT; the importance of data analytics; and the various advances in the connected home, the connected car, the connected everything.

Doherty lived in, and worked out of, Seaford, N.Y., a little town on Long Island. He launched his company back in 1983 and grew it into an international team of super-smart professionals dedicated, according to the Envisioneering Group website, “to providing our public, subscriber and client audiences with the best possible news, data and trend research possible — to better enable them to engage with existing and emerging markets.” According to his official bio, Doherty “directs laboratory testing of technologies, products and services; oversees publication of the Envisioneering newsletter and market research reports; and provides senior executive counsel on market development and intellectual property protection, portfolio management and licensing opportunities. Doherty's prime focus is on researching and articulating the impact of advanced digital technologies, services, products, industry initiatives and standards efforts on consumers, industry and society.”

Before that, Doherty spent 13 years as the Senior Technology Writer for Electronic Engineering Times, a trade publication for design engineers, managers and business and corporate management in the electronics industry.

Doherty, an electro-physicist, has dozens of U.S. and international patents to his credit in computing, communications, medical electronics and other fields. He was a member of the Society for Information Display, Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers and various other technology and professional business industry associations. He was a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and was active with its Biomedical Engineering, Solid State Circuits Society, Consumer Electronics Society, Broadcast Engineering, Magnetic Technology Society, Technology & Social Policy and other I.E.E.E. societies.

Prior to launching his own company he was Director of the Urban Vehicle Design Group at Pratt Institute, an engineer for Data General Corporation, Chief Engineer of Lourdes Industries Inc., and founder and President of Optronic Labs.

He was a smart man, a kind man, and quite honestly I can’t do his memory any better justice than by quoting from an excellent piece in EE Times written by Junko Yoshida, the publication’s chief international correspondent: “Rick’s life touched every aspect of consumer electronics. He explored and explained the growth of computing, communications and digital media that brought a genuine revolution to the way we live today. … Rick was appreciated by many in the media because he was always generous with his time, giving us what we needed to know when we needed, on deadline. Rick knew deadlines. But we all loved him beyond that because he was always such a kind soul. Whether we shared a bus ride with him on a press trip, bumped into him in the press room at a tradeshow, or spotted him in the front row at a huge press conference with his video camera in hand, he always had a smile and a hug and asked how we were doing. He was personable and affectionate. He reminded fellow journalists of the importance of the personal connection, when you’re trying to get to the bottom of a story. … Rick’s interest and his knowledge were always beyond bits and bytes. He knew people. And he loved them. He was a class act.”

He sure was.

17 May, 2016

Target Pushing Preorders for 'BvS,' 'Civil War'

Retailers didn't offer much in the way of new promotions for the May 17 new releases.

Target, however, touted a free $5 gift card with preorders of select films at Target.com/preorder. The list includes Disney's Zootopia, DreamWorks' Kung Fu Panda 3, Warner's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Marvel's Captain America: Civil War.

Best Buy offered a number of deals on catalog releases, such as a $10 gift card with $50 in spending on select TV seasons; buy two, get one free, or $11.99, on select recent Blu-rays; and two for $10 Blu-rays, or $5.99 each, on up to 60 catalog Blu-rays.

16 May, 2016

New on Disc: 'Dillinger' and more …

Dillinger (Blu-ray)

Arrow, Action, $39.95 Blu-ray/DVD combo, ‘R.’
Stars Warren Oates, Ben Johnson, Michelle Phillips, Harry Dean Stanton, Richard Dreyfuss.
This John Milius-directed salvo is one of the better examples of the gangster genre, though it helps that some of the supporting casting means more now than it did at the time.
Extras: Stephen Prince’s all-business commentary is diligently researched in terms of juxtaposing real facts with the movie’s fictions.
Read the Full Review

Dark Passage (Blu-ray)

Street 5/17/16
Available via Warner Archive       
Warner, Mystery, $21.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Agnes Moorehead, Bruce Bennett.
This third of four Bogart-Bacall teamings (all within a four-year period) can be enjoyed by those fanciers of star-power willing to overlook even the rudiments of logic when it comes to jumbo coincidences and the making of the difficult look relatively easy.
Read the Full Review

10 May, 2016

Some Packaging Options for 'Deadpool'

Best Buy's 'Deadpool' steelbook
Best Buy's 'Deadpool' steelbook

The big new title of May 10, Fox's raunchy superhero comedy Deadpool, came to retail with a few exclusive packaging options.

Target offered the Blu-ray with a special red case and a packet of eight postcards. Target also offered 10% off Marvel products in the electronics department trend section.

Best Buy had a version of the Blu-ray with special steelbook packaging.

Best Buy also offered a $10 gift card with $50 in purchases of select TV seasons.

9 May, 2016

New on Disc: 'In a Lonely Place' and more …

In a Lonely Place

Street 5/10/16
Criterion, Drama, $29.95 DVD, $39.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame, Frank Lovejoy.
As an artful hybrid of film noir and what used to be called the “woman’s picture,” this now revered movie of Dorothy P. Hughes’s same-titled but much altered novel is regarded by a few as Humphrey Bogart’s big-screen apogee, though it has to be said that co-star Gloria Grahame fights him to a draw here in the acting department.
Extras: There’s a commentary by film scholar Dana Polan, an essay by Imogen Sara Smith; a 1948 radio adaptation of the Hughes novel that aired on “Suspense”; an interview with Grahame biographer Vincent Cursio about her (euphemistically speaking) colorful life; and a featurette, carried over from the old Sony DVD, in which director Curtis Hanson visits some of the original settings.  There’s also a slightly pruned version of the famous but relatively little-seen I’m a Stranger Here Myself, which mostly chronicles director Nicholas Ray’s tenure as a faculty member at Binghamton University in upstate New York.
Read the Full Review

In the French Style (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, ‘R.’
Stars Jean Seberg, Stanley Baker, Philippe Forquet.
Either co-creators Irwin Shaw and director Robert Parrish were going for ambiguity with In the French Style, or they didn’t quite know what they were doing.
Extras: Includes a commentary by Nick Redman, Julie Kirgo and Lem Dobbs.
Read the Full Review

3 May, 2016

New 'Wave' Finds 'Joy' at Retail

Fox's Joy and Sony Pictures' The 5th Wave offered a few exclusive promotions for consumers at retail.

Target offered Joy with an exclusive Blu-ray combo pack with a DVD verison of the film, plus 20% off any Huggable Hangers with the purchase of the film. The hangers which were invented by Joy Mangano, upon whom the film is based.

For sci-fi film The 5th Wave, Target offered the Blu-ray with an exclusive bonus disc with a Q$A with author Rick Yancey.

Walmart offered a two-pack DVD set of The 5th Wave and 2012.

For Lionsgate's The Choice, Target offered $5 off when the movie was purchased at the same time as any other Nicholas Sparks book or movie.

2 May, 2016

New on Disc: 'Cutter's Way' and more …

Cutter’s Way (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, ‘R.’
Stars Jeff Bridges, John Heard, Lisa Eichhorn, Ann Dusenberry.
The succulent set-up for what appears to be a conventional murder yarn set in a haves-vs.-have-nots beach town is as good as these things get.
Extras: Includes commentary by Nick Redman and Julie Kirgo.
Read the Full Review

Susan Slept Here (Blu-ray)

Available via Warner Archive       
Warner, Comedy, $21.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Dick Powell, Debbie Reynolds, Anne Francis, Glenda Farrell, Alvy Moore.
The fourth Frank Tashlin comedy has always been regarded as being somewhat culturally disreputable, and maybe it even is — but the cradle-robbing here is from a more innocent era.
Read the Full Review