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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.


Opinion
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25 Aug, 2017

Disney/Netflix Petition Based on Unrealistic Expectations


I couldn’t help but chuckle at the petition drive urging Walt Disney Co. not to pull its content from Netflix.

Petitioners, comprised primarily of cord-cutters who no doubt expected to reap huge savings from canceling their cable service, call the pullout “a huge blow to Netflix users and Disney lovers who don’t want to have to pay double to access the content we love,” the Care2 petition says. “Historically, we could buy a movie or TV show from any number of sources. But now, we’re being forced to buy subscriptions to multiple sources just to get the content we love.”

No sympathy here for any pity party. My dear consumers, you can still buy movies or TV shows “from any number of sources.” Buy a Blu-ray Disc or DVD at Walmart or Best Buy or Amazon; buy a digital copy from iTunes, Vudu, Xfinity or any of a growing number of other online sellers.

In fact, the selection of movies and TV shows you can buy is far greater than the selection you can access through Netflix.

And for a good reason: When you watch Netflix, you’re not buying a movie or TV show. You’re not even paying for streaming rights to a specific program. You’re spending about the same amount of money you’d normally spend on one new movie, either on disc or as a download, for an entire month of viewing — and that’s why you have no right to be so picky.

In fact, most studios don’t sell any of their movies to Netflix — at least, nothing newer than nine or 10 years old. Even Netflix’s big announcement in May 2016 that it would be the exclusive online home to Disney, Marvel, Pixar and Lucasfilm movies was a little grandiose: Only a handful of movies were made available every month, and only after they had exhausted their sales potential, with a similar window to that on HBO, Starz and other pay-TV networks.

The popularity of Netflix has never been based on movies. The growth driver has been binge-viewing of TV shows, first popular network shows and now original programming. The movie lineup at Netflix has always been, and likely will continue to be, anemic, with the good new stuff reserved for the purchase market.

Indeed, Gizmodo last October reported that Netflix’s content library is increasingly losing its best movies: “The Streaming Observer did some analysis, and found that only 31 movies from the IMDb Top 250 are currently available on Netflix. … Even worse than the paltry selection of movies, it’s noteworthy that this figure is actually down 12% from 2014, when a Reddit user documented the 49 available films from the IMDb Top 250 then available on Netflix. The IMDb Top 250 has changed over the last two years as well, but the decrease in titles is still significant.”

Will the loss of Disney movies hurt Netflix? I doubt it — not as long as the service keeps cranking out original content (last year, Netflix said its goal was 50% original content within the next few years).

But with Disney planning to launch its own streaming service in concert with the 2019 withdrawal from Netflix, it certainly needs what we in the business call a unique selling proposition — and creating its own streaming silo for Disney movies and TV shows certainly sounds like smart business sense to me.

The petitioners, while clearly ignorant of the economics of the movie/TV business, were right on one count: they’re going to have to buy subscriptions “to multiple sources just to get the content we love.”

And you know what? They’re going to wind up buying those extra subscriptions, regardless of how much they are protesting now.

 


22 Aug, 2017

The Rush for 'Guardians' Exclusives

Best Buy's 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2' 4K/3D Blu-ray Steelbook
Best Buy's 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2' 4K/3D Blu-ray Steelbook

Exclusives for Disney's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 seemed to be in great demand Aug. 22, particularly Steelbook editions of the Blu-ray at Best Buy.

The Steelbook edition was apparently sold out throughout several Southern California Best Buy locations before they even opened Tuesday morning, with customers arriving early to pick up a copy in person greeted by half-empty Guardians displays (though the Best Buy standalone Guardians displays were impressive, incorporating a social media photo op with lifesize cardboard cutouts of the team). A clerk at a Costa Mesa, Calif., store said all their copies of the Steelbooks were diverted to a large number of online preorders, and the Best Buy website indicated no copies available at any stores within hundreds of miles.

One of the reasons for the high demand for the Steelbook, particularly the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray version, was that it was the only way for fans to get their hands on a 3D disc of the film, as Disney relegated the 3D edition to a Best Buy exclusive. While Disney has held back on releasing 3D versions of the studio's films in recent years, the choice to limit 3D availability of the "Guardians" sequel to a single-retailer premium exclusive was a particularly interesting one given how much the potential for 3D influenced the film's visual style, which only adds to the potential demand among fans for the 3D version, regardless of how niche the format may have become.

Based on information posted online by fans around the United States looking for the 4K/3D combo, stores in places like New Jersey and Tennessee had plenty of copies of the 3D exclusive on shelves, which points to some curious allocation decisions on the part of Best Buy as to how many copies were produced and where they were sent for the title's launch day. Even the Steelbook of the standard Blu-ray edition was sold out at most stores, which definitely points to the popularly of the collectible packaging as well.

Shoppers would have better luck finding the exclusives at Target and Walmart, though some problems were reported with those as well.

Target offered the Blu-ray and UHD Blu-ray with an exclusive digital "Meet the Ravagers" featurette redeemable through the Disney Movies Anywhere streaming service. However, several fans took to the Internet to complain that their exclusive codes either didn't work or were listed as having been no longer valid after erroring out. Such issues aren't altogether uncommon for new releases and are usually ironed out within a day or so of the title's release.

Walmart offered the Blu-ray version of the film with exclusive box art and two packs of Upper Deck Marvel trading cards.

Best Buy had a variety of exclusives with other new releases as well, such as Steelbook packaging with Warner's Supergirl: Season 2 and Lionsgate's Ash vs. Evil Dead: Season 2 Blu-rays, and lenticular packaging on Lionsgate's The Walking Dead: Season 7 Blu-ray.


21 Aug, 2017

New on Disc: 'Blood Alley' and more …


Blood Alley (Blu-ray)

Available via Warner Archive
Warner, Adventure, $21.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars John Wayne, Lauren Bacall, Paul Fix, Mike Mazurki, Joy Kim.
1955. Even those who are sympathetically inclined will likely concede that William A. Wellman’s late-career Blood Alley is best viewed as a cartoon, offering some loopy Cold War fun watching John Wayne foil Chinese Communists in a 2.55:1 presentation.
Extras: A couple segments from ABC-TV’s “Warner Bros. Presents,” in which host Gig Young interviews Wayne about his career.
Read the Full Review

Obit.

Kino Lorber, Documentary, B.O. $0.31 million, $29.99 DVD, $34.95 Blu-ray, NR.
2017. Vanessa Gould’s equally illuminating and entertaining documentary focuses on the obituary writers at The New York Times.
Read the Full Review

 


15 Aug, 2017

A Retail 'Covenant'

Walmart 'Alien: Covenant' shirt exclusive
Walmart 'Alien: Covenant' shirt exclusive

Plenty of exclusives for Fox's Alien: Covenant were available at retail when the movie hit shelves Aug. 15.

Walmart offered Blu-ray and UHDs packed with an XL T-shirt emblazoned with the winner of the 2017 Alien Day fan art contest.

Target offered The Blu-ray with a 36-page "Creatures of Alien: Covenant" booklet.

And Best Buy offered Steelbook packaging for both the Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo packs, at a $2 premium for each.


14 Aug, 2017

New on Disc: 'Variete' and more …


Varieté (Blu-ray)

Street 8/22/17
Kino Lorber, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Emil Jannings, Lya De Putti, Warwick Ward.
1925. Varieté is probably the best and most famous film from the less celebrated E.A. Dupont — with German star Emil Jannings Jannings as the owner of a sideshow.
Extras: The packed Blu-ray includes the previously DVD-released 1922 version of Othello, which also teamed Jannings and Lya De Putti, plus an illuminating supplementary “visual essay” by historian Bret Wood and several options for the background music.
Read the Full Review

Money From Home

Olive, Comedy, $24.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis, Marjie Millar, Pat Crowley.
1953. The first nine of 16 total Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis comedies were in black-and-white, the final seven were in color, and Money From Home (a Damon Runyon racetrack farce about a potentially underhanded steeplechase contest) was first of the latter bunch.
Read the Full Review


8 Aug, 2017

'Guardians' Among Steelbook Preorders

Best Buy's 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2' 4K/3D Blu-ray Steelbook
Best Buy's 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2' 4K/3D Blu-ray Steelbook

Best Buy is taking preorders for Steelbook Blu-ray editions of Disney's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Two variants are available: a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack and a 4K/3D/Blu-ray combo pack. Best Buy's Steelbook is the exclusive 3D edition of the film.

Target will have a Guardians Blu-ray with exclusive digital content.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is available on Digital HD now and arrives on disc Aug. 22.

Target also will have an exclusive Steelbook Blu-ray of Lionsgate's The Walking Dead: The Complete Seventh Season on Aug. 22.

Best Buy had TV Blu-rays starting at $9.99 and offered a free $10 gift card with the purchase of $50 or more of select TV seasons on disc.


7 Aug, 2017

New on Disc: 'Night People' and more …


Night People (Blu-ray)

Kino Lorber, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Gregory Peck, Broderick Crawford, Anita Bjork, Buddy Ebsen.
1954. Contemporary to its time, Night People had to have been one of the first Hollywood releases to treat American vs. Russian espionage in cat-and-mouse fashion the way John le Carre books and movies eventually did.
Extras: Cecilia Peck (daughter of People lead Gregory) says in the Blu-ray bonus interview she shares with two male siblings that she finds it a challenge to follow the plot twists here.
Read the Full Review

State Fair (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Musical, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Pat Boone, Bobby Darin, Pamela Tiffin, Ann-Margret, Tom Ewell, Alice Faye.
1962. As the latest eye-filler from the 20th Century-Fox catalog served up on a high-def golden platter by Twilight Time, the third and final State Fair is a splendorous view.
Extras: Pat Boone offers voiceover commentary.
Read the Full Review

 


1 Aug, 2017

Walmart All In on 'Pure Country'


Walmart devoted significant shelf space to its exclusive Blu-ray and DVD of Warner's Pure Country: Pure Heart, with the title taking up a whole row of the new-release section.

The movie is the third under the "Pure Country" banner, following a 1992 theatrical film starring George Strait and the 2010 direct-to-video "sequel" Pure Country: The Gift, which had little to do with the original other than a similar story of a country singer trying to make it big. The new film follows a similar tact and features Willie Nelson as himself.

In addition to the DVD ($12.96) and Blu-ray ($19.96) versions, Walmart offered a $14.96 DVD double feature of the new film with the original.

Best Buy also had an exclusive DVD two-pack of Universal's new direct-to-video Cop-and-a-Half: New Recruit that paired it with the original 1993 Cop-and-a-Half starring Burt Reynolds. The new one features Lou Diamond Phillips and Lulu Wilson.

Best Buy promoted preorders for Steelbook editions of Disney movies Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and The Lion King: Signature Collection.

Best Buy also had sales of 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays at $14.99, and superhero movie Blu-rays starting at $5.99.


31 Jul, 2017

A Salute to 2017's Women in Home Entertainment


In this issue, Home Media Magazine presents its annual salute to the top women in the home entertainment industry. Women executives are making decisions about how to reach the consumer on the many and various platforms and formats available in the market today — from 4K Ultra HD to Blu-ray Disc and DVD to transactional EST to streaming and virtual reality. They are leaders at the major studios and the independents, in physical and digital retail markets, in the home entertainment distribution chain, and in making that supply chain more efficient.

Every year, I am impressed by the quality of the honorees. They are truly helping to drive the home entertainment business and are integral to the industry’s success. In covering these remarkable women, I am struck by their wide range of expertise. They work on everything from the packaging for physical media to marketing via traditional and new media to content licensing and creation to legal and financial issues.

Women are indeed the backbone of the home entertainment business, and they are focused on satisfying the home entertainment consumer, wherever and whenever they would like to access content. Sony’s Lexine Wong looks to “keep the consumer engaged” in a panoply of entertainment options. Disney’s Janice Marinelli said she is “always looking for effective and convenient ways for consumers to enjoy” content. HBO’s Sofia Chang is focusing on “continuing to expand our subscription and transactional offerings.” Redbox’s Sonia Jain is concentrating on “improving our context mix and assortment.” Amazon’s female executives are both obtaining more content and finding new ways to deliver it via Fire TVs and Alexa. Each executive is keeping her eye on the consumer.

The job of the home entertainment executive has perhaps never been harder and these women are in the trenches, looking to move the business forward via technologies old and new. They are not only dealing with new distribution models but also with new forms of home entertainment, such as virtual reality.

Here’s to the women in home entertainment, an impressive group that spans every segment of the industry and contributes mightily to its success.


31 Jul, 2017

New on Disc: 'Running on Empty' and more …


Running on Empty (Blu-ray)

Available via Warner Archive
Warner, Drama, $21.99 Blu-ray, ‘PG-13.’
Stars Christine Lahti, River Phoenix, Judd Hirsch, Martha Plimpton.
1988. Running on Empty was one of the the last Sidney Lumet films that generally pleased everybody with unqualified success, dealing with ’60s political radicals on the run whose past catches up to their teenaged son, played by River Phoenix. who got his only Oscar nomination for playing this shy brooder.
Read the Full Review

Road to Rio & Road to Bali

Kino Lorber, Comedy, $14.95 DVD each, $24.95 Blu-ray each, NR.
Stars Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour.
1947/1952. By the time the “Road” pictures’ two superstar leads and their writers got to the later series entries, the fourth wall and all other pretenses of conventional storytelling hadn’t merely been shattered but blown to smithereens by a nuclear device. Even though it’s in black-and-white against relatively drab settings, Road to Rio is quite funny for maybe 75% of the time and offers some of the series’ most ticklish guest shots. Road to Bali, the only “Road” pic shot in color, is lovely to look at while also boasting some funny walk-ons of its own.
Extras: Commentary with Michael Schlesinger and Mark Evanier.
Read the Full Review