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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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13 Jun, 2017

Retailers Build Exclusives for 'Lego Batman Movie'

Walmart's 'Lego Batman Movie' Blu-ray lunchbox
Walmart's 'Lego Batman Movie' Blu-ray lunchbox

Several retail promotions were tied to the June 13 home video release of Warner's The Lego Batman Movie.

Walmart offered a gift set containing the Blu-ray combo pack with a lunchbox that had a cape on it.

Target offered the Blu-ray combo pack with a pack-on Batgirl mini-figure and three collectible postcards. Target also offered 15% off any "Lego Batman" product with the purchase of the film on disc.

Toys "R" Us offered the Blu-ray combo pack at $29.99 with a Batmobile Lego building set.

Best Buy offered the Blu-ray combo pack with Steelbook packaging. Best Buy also had Steelbook packaging for the Blu-ray combo pack of Lionsgate's John Wick Chapter 2.

Best Buy also offered a deluxe edition of Paramount's South Park: The Complete Twentieth Season containing the Blu-ray and exclusive 12-inch art cards.

Tied into promotions for the upcoming theatrical release of Transformers: The Last Knight, Walmart offered a $25.96 gift set containing a Blu-ray set of the first four live-action "Transformers" films on Blu-ray, plus a mini Transformers action figure.

Among the curiosities of the week, Amazon didn't have on-hand copies of the plain DVD for Lego Batman Movie, with shoppers wanting to buy a copy from the online retailer on its first day of release having to do so from a third-party marketplace seller.

Also, Fox's Table 19, a notable theatrical release starring Anna Kendrick that grossed $3.6 million at the domestic box office, wasn't offered at brick-and-mortar Best Buy and Target locations, where it was an online-only item. And Barnes & Noble offered it online at full SRP.


12 Jun, 2017

New on Disc: 'Cheech and Chong's Next Movie' and more …


Cheech and Chong’s Next Movie (Blu-ray)

Street 6/13/17
Shout! Factory, Comedy, $27.99 Blu-ray, ‘R.’
Stars Cheech Marin, Tommy Chong, Evelyn Guerrero, Paul Reubens.
1980.
This is one of the more cogent Cheech & Chong vehicles out of seven this occasionally uproarious team made in a big-screen run known for its severe downward trajectory.
Read the Full Review

Obsessions (Blu-ray)

Cult Epics, Mystery, $34.95 Blu-ray/DVD combo, NR.
Stars Alexandra Stewart, Dieter Geissler, Tom Van Beek.
1969.
For those willing to lower expectations, there’s some lukewarm kinkiness to be gleaned from this Dutch Hitchcock homage co-written by Martin Scorsese that never reached U.S. theaters despite provocative displays of supporting actress tan-lines and considerable box office success abroad.
Extras: Includes separate interviews each running about 20 minutes with director Pim de la Parra and star Dieter Geissler, who have contrasting personality styles but otherwise couldn’t possibly be more personable. There’s also a page-by-page replication of the shooting script, complete with copious Scorsese margin notes.
Read the Full Review


6 Jun, 2017

Exclusives for 'Beauty,' 'Bambi'


Retailers June 6 offered exclusive versions of Disney's Bambi: Signature Collection and live-action Beauty and the Beast.

For Beauty and the Beast, Best Buy offered exclusive Steelbook packaging with the Blu-ray combo pack. The new Bambi Blu-ray came with special lenticular box art.

Target offered special 32-page storybook packaging with the Blu-ray for both.

Walmart offered an exclusive DVD movie called You're Gonna Miss Me, starring John Schneider.

Best Buy offered a sale by which shoppers could save $5 when buying more than $25 of select titles.


30 May, 2017

Walmart Prepping for Dad's Day With Free Can Coolers

Walmart display of "Bromantic Comedies"
Walmart display of "Bromantic Comedies"

Walmart set up a display of DVDs with specially themed Father's Day packaging and a free can cooler. The guy-friendly comedies from Warner ranged from $5.96 to $9.96 and were touted with a sign that said "Celebrate Dad with these 'bromantic' comedies." Titles included Oceans 11-13, We're the Millers, Horrible Bosses 2-Film Collection, Blazing Saddles, Vacation and more. The display took up one end of the usual $9.96/$12.96 kiosk.

Best Buy offered a $5 savings with the purchase of two Blu-ray or DVD collections from a display of select titles.

FOr preorders, Best Buy is offering a Steelbook case with the Blu-ray of Disney's Beauty and the Beast, and a lenticular cover with Disney's Bambi: Signature Collection. Both titles will be released June 6.


29 May, 2017

New on Disc: 'Seven Days in May' and more …


Seven Days in May (Blu-ray)

Available via Warner Archive      
Warner, Drama, $21.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Fredric March, Ava Gardner, Edmond O’Brien.
1964.
Though plotting specifics differ markedly and sometimes in polar-opposite fashion from current headlines, you have to believe that the political time is right for a remarkably clean high-def transfer of John Frankenheimer’s Seven Days in May, which now seems more potent than it ever did.
Extras: Frankenheimer’s typically standout voiceover commentary is carried over from a previous rendering.
Read the Full Review

Broken Arrow (1950) (Blu-ray)

Kino Lorber, Western, $29.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars James Stewart, Jeff Chandler, Debra Paget, Will Geer.
1950.
Broken Arrow may not be best of the Delmer Daves Westerns, but it was his first and probably the one that comes closes to being a household name, with a story about a person trying to straddle opposed cultures — a theme unlikely, to be sure, ever to lose its topicality or relevance.
Read the Full Review

 


26 May, 2017

Events Mark Both Change and Legacy of Our Industry


Over the past month or so I’ve attended and reported on events that highlight the enormous change and legacy of our industry.

I interviewed longtime video veteran Mark Vrieling about the closing of his last rental store after nearly three decades in the business. He said he held out as the great majority of video stores closed by offering a deep catalog — which I think is something the industry should heed as we go digital.

Jodie LeVitus Francisco May 8 organized a video industry reunion in Calabasas, Calif., to bring together many of the executives that have passed through this business over the years. Our coverage of the event was heavily viewed and liked online. It was nice to see those I still work with and those who have moved on or retired, but still have a soft spot for the video industry.

“Video stores may end up as just a footnote in the history of the movie business, but I think the footnote will be a high point in the history,” Vrieling told me. “It was a time when pretty much any movie ever made was within reach of anybody. Even small towns and suburbs like mine had tens of thousands of titles available to customers.”

It also helped spawn digital goliaths such as Netflix. Many outside of this industry don’t know or remember that Netflix’s Ted Sarandos got his start in the entertainment business at a video store. The business also pushed Netflix CEO Reed Hastings to offer discs by mail after suffering a video store late fee. Even the famous video clerk recommendations immortalized by the sitcom “Seinfeld” have transitioned to the digital world with the recommendation engines at Netflix, Amazon and other online retailers. Marketing tie-ins long practiced by this industry are mirrored in practices at digital retailers such as Fandango, which offers licensed merchandise and videos of franchise predecessors to moviegoers who purchase tickets for the latest blockbuster in the theater.

Fandango president Paul Yanover, in receiving an award for leadership in the industry from the Entertainment Merchants Association May 19, professed optimism about home entertainment. His company has created an integrated digital network that serves consumers throughout the movie lifecycle, from theatrical tickets to premium on-demand video service FandangoNOW.

Yanover noted Fandango is “a newbie” in home entertainment, but added, “We truly believe there’s a massive opportunity.”

While certain iterations of the industry may wane, their legacy lives on in the digital realm and in a business that continues to bring an enormous amount of content, on demand, to the consumer.


26 May, 2017

'Omni-channel' Retailing Still Has a Ways to Go


Our annual salute to the nation’s top home entertainment retailers is still a month away. But in my regular perusals of quarterly earnings reports, and earnings call transcripts, I’ve noticed that perhaps the most overused term in retail circles is “omni-channel,” an attempt by brick-and-mortar retailers to remain relevant — and stay in business — in a world increasingly dominated by Amazon, iTunes and other Web-only sellers.

What I’ve noticed is that while retail executives liberally toss around the “omni-channel” term and pat themselves on the backs for their efforts to bring the physical and virtual worlds together, only a few are getting it right. Among them is U.K. fashion retailer Oasis, which arms its clerks with iPads so if an item isn’t in stock, the customer can either order it on the spot or be directed to a nearby store that does have the item in stock. Another is Carrefour, a Belgian supermarket chain that lets customers scan items they want into an online shopping list and, when done, submit the order for pickup or delivery. And I absolutely love Apple’s approach, to let customers make appointments online to the “Genius Bar” in Apple stores, for quick, one-on-one customer service.

One of the silliest trends I’ve seen is the “ship to store” option, in which customers can order something online, through the retailer’s website, and then pick it up at the store. That defeats the whole purpose of online ordering — the primary reason we buy something from Amazon is because we don’t have time to go to the store, and want the merchandise delivered to our home or office. Why would I order a PlayStation 4 or a batch of Blu-ray Discs from Best Buy and then schlep on down to the store to pick the stuff up? Yes, I know, the lure is free shipping, but guess what? Amazon already offers that, and in fact shipping charges are fast disappearing in the online world. I know why retailers like the “ship to store” option: It brings customers into their stores, where hopefully they will buy something else. But that’s not thinking like a customer, is it?

Retailers also need to realize that speed is critical — and thanks to Amazon Prime we’re used to getting pretty much everything we could ever want within 48 hours. Our youngest son, Hunter, came home from ninth grade the other day and said he needed a copy of a certain book and movie ASAP. My wife drove down to the nearest Barnes & Noble to see what they had; neither book nor Blu-ray Disc was in stock. A cheerful clerk offered to order both and smiling said they’d arrive at the store in about a week. As she was relating this story to me on the phone, I was already on my Amazon app and by the time we hung up had purchased both online, with free two-day shipping. “Bad customer service,” I told Diana when she got back home. “The clerk should have said it will be there in two days and, if necessary, done the same thing I did, order it off Amazon,” I noted. Instead, I’ve got a bad taste in my mouth — and for our next school-required book or movie purchase we’re not even going to give Barnes & Noble a chance.

It’s a brutal world out there, folks. Brick-and-mortar retailers need to sharpen their survival instincts and get aggressive. And the whole concept of “omni-channel” is not so much integrating the physical and virtual retail worlds as it is streamlining the shopping process and enhancing the customer experience.


24 May, 2017

Claws Out for 'Logan' Exclusives

'Logan' Blu-ray exclusives at Target, Walmart and Best Buy
'Logan' Blu-ray exclusives at Target, Walmart and Best Buy

Each of the big three retail chains had its own exclusive Blu-ray edition of Fox's Logan to mark Hugh Jackman's supposedly final bow as Wolverine.

Target offered the Blu-ray with a 36-page "WPONX" photo book for its packaging.

Best Buy offered Steelbook packaging for both the Blu-ray and Ultra HD Blu-ray combo packs.

Walmart offered the Blu-ray and UHD editions with nine movie picture cards (one for each film in which Jackman appeared as Wolverine), with the backs of the cards forming part of a larger Logan poster.


22 May, 2017

New on Disc: 'The Rounders' Blu-ray and more …


The Rounders (Blu-ray)

Available via Warner Archive    
Warner, Western Comedy, $21.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Glenn Ford, Henry Fonda, Chill Wills, Edgar Buchanan, Sue Ane Langdon.
1965.
Given that The Rounders has always been an affably outdoor Panavision mix of hooch-loving horses, out-of-work strippers and, above all, easygoing casting synergy, it’s a not-bad way to salvage 84 minutes.
Read the Full Review

You’ll Never Get Rich (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Musical, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Fred Astaire, Rita Hayworth, Robert Benchley, Frieda Inescort.
1941.
There aren’t many Fred Astaire movies this side of Yolanda and the Thief that one might rightfully term as strange, but the first and lesser of two Astaire pairings with Rita Hayworth isn’t far off that mark.
Extras: Julie Kirgo in her liner notes makes a case for Rich being the first World War II musical.
Read the Full Review

 


18 May, 2017

'James Bond' Lawsuit Tests Boundaries of Common Sense


A so-called James Bond fan has apparently decided to test the patience of the legal system by claiming a boxed set of Bond films was advertised as complete when it really wasn’t.

Plaintiff Mary Johnson filed suit against MGM and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment in the state of Washington in April claiming that two DVD/Blu-ray boxed sets — a 50th anniversary collection of 22 films released in 2012 and a 23-film set from 2015 — falsely claimed to include “'All of the Bond films gathered for the first time in this one-of-a-kind box set — every gorgeous girl, nefarious villain and charismatic star from Sean Connery, the legendary actor who started it all.”

That matter now finds itself in the court of U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez, where MGM is seeking a dismissal.

Johnson’s beef apparently is that the boxed sets in question included only the James Bond adaptations produced by EON Productions, the creators of the official Bond films since they debuted with Dr. No in 1962 with Sean Connery as author Ian Fleming’s suave superspy.

Spectre, the 24th EON adventure, was released in 2015 and starred Daniel Craig.

Over the years, various attempts by other producers to cash in on the James Bond phenomenon have popped up. A Bond parody loosely based on Casino Royale was released in 1967, and only because the producers happened to get their hands on the rights to Fleming’s first Bond book before the EON producers came along. A remake of 1965’s Thunderball called Never Say Never Again was released in 1983, and while it was touted as Connery’s return to the role of Bond, EON had nothing to do with it; the producer only had the rights to the story because he had worked with Fleming on a Bond movie project before EON came along, and when that fell through he was subsequently granted the legal right to the elements of that story, which he shopped around hoping to kick-start his own Bond franchise, to no avail.

Neither of these two films was included with the boxed set, to the surprise of no one who would consider themselves a true Bond fan. Various consolidations and legal maneuvers over the years have put these films into the MGM library and EON can basically do what they want with them, but they chose not to include them in the mega-set of Bond films. Understandable, for sure, given their rival status, though it would have been cool for the set to include them, given that those two tend to fall out of print easily and copies can get pricey on the secondary market.

Johnson’s attorney, Alexander Kleinberg, would have the case turn on the definitions of “all” or “every.” But really, let’s look at the heart of the advertising in question — what constitutes a “Bond Film.”

The 1967 Casino Royale, as stated earlier, is a spoof. So what’s its status as a “Bond Film”? Well, the plot involves an older spy named James Bond, played by David Niven, returning to duty only to find that a younger sex maniac (a clear reference to the Connery version of the character) is running around soiling his good name. To foil an evil plot, Niven is given control over the secret service and gives every agent the code name “James Bond” to confuse his enemies. So here, we basically have an admission within the film itself that it’s not a Bond film, as it acknowledges that Niven or anyone else in the film is not meant to be the same character as Connery’s Bond, who is the focus of the “Bond Films.”

So, where does that leave Never Say Never Again, which is more serious in tone and has Connery back as 007? While Connery’s involvement leads many fans to accept the film into their canon, it’s really as much of an anomaly to the franchise as the Casino Royale farce. Again, if we consider that the “Bond Films” are meant to be a portrayal of one character’s timeline, then Never Say Never Again fails to meet that standard. The Bond Connery played is the same person George Lazenby played when Bond got married, and the same character Roger Moore played when he visited Bond’s wife’s grave, and the same person Timothy Dalton played when he referenced his marriage as a pain in his past, etc. Connery’s Never Say Never Again Bond lacks this specific backstory. So Never Say Never Again isn’t so much a “Bond Film” as it is an action movie with a character named James Bond.

Certainly, the Daniel Craig Bond is a reboot of the character, and thus also doesn’t share the backstory of his predecessors. But by then the character rights had unified under EON, who pretty much earned the right to determine what counts as a “Bond Film” and what doesn’t. And obviously, any movie they didn’t make wasn’t going to count.

One of the arguments made by Kleinberg was that the packaging required the purchaser to be a Bond expert to know the two non-EON movies weren’t going to be included. How such a non-Bond fan would similarly even notice the movies not being in the set is anybody’s guess, but I suppose such silly strains on logic are the realm for lawyerly endeavors.

For her part, Johnson is seeking class-action status on the case on behalf of anyone who bought the boxed sets thinking the other two films would be included. She claims that were it not for her belief those two movies would be included based on the labeling, she wouldn’t have paid $106.44 to Amazon.com for the set. Her suit cites legalese about false advertising having cause an “injury” to the plaintiff’s business or property. I suppose they mean she’s out the hundred bucks, although Amazon’s return policies are pretty lenient, so I’m sure she could have just sent the set back for a full refend. Of course, they'd still argue the inconvenience was the injury.

What’s really amusing is how the lawsuit cites both of the boxed sets, as if she bought the first one, didn’t like that it was missing the movies she wanted, and then three years later bought the re-released version with the additional film and still couldn’t figure out what was actually being sold, as if MGM fooled her twice.

Yes, I get she was probably fully aware of what MGM was doing with the sets to begin with and she thinks she’s “standing up for the little guy” against "the big bad corporate studios” and she envisions herself as a hero for all those who fell for MGM’s insidious trap.  But come on, this is beyond ridiculous.

The whole argument is based on what a “reasonable” person would think is in those boxed sets, which MGM’s lawyers pointed out listed the actual included films on the box. In a motion to dismiss MGM argued that “no reasonable purchaser would expect that a box set would contain films that are not included on the list of titles clearly printed on its packaging."

Kleinberg’s arguments against dismissal were filed May 15. The studio's attorney, John Devlin, has also asked the judge to at least deny the case’s class-action status on the grounds that the class definition, which would include anyone who purchased the discs, is "impermissibly overbroad." Naturally, Kleinberg disagreed, wanting the preserve the ability to achieve class certification in a wide variety of false advertising cases.

A hearing on the motion to dismiss is slated for May 26.

The full filing can be found in The Hollywood Reporter’s recounting of the story here.