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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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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.
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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.
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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


28 Jul, 2017

Industry Gatherings Vital to Keep Ideas Flowing


The sixth annual Los Angeles Entertainment Summit underscored the importance of our home entertainment industry leaders getting together in person every once in a while for face-to-face meetings.

And what made LAES so special was its inclusiveness. Not since the demise of the annual Entertainment Merchants Association’s annual convention and trade show in Las Vegas nearly a decade ago has there been a single event that draws participants from the entire food chain, if you will — studios, distributors, technologists, marketers, retailers and, yes, members of the press.

Every one of those groups plays a key role in moving this business forward, and while we can do all right flying solo in our silos and occasionally attending carefully curated conferences, big industry-wide events certainly still have a compelling draw.

And my hat goes off to Mark Fisher, head of the Entertainment Merchants Association, and Mark Horak, the former Warner Home Video and Redbox executive who is now focused on the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (two of his three daughters have the disease). Through their hard work, perseverance and tenacity, they have grown the event into a respectable and viable successor to the fabled old VSDA convention, with the good sense of always having it take place in Los Angeles, the epicenter of our business.

The exchange of ideas spilled out far beyond the curated meetings between home entertainment and video game content producers and retailers that most consider the heart of the two-day event.

Intense conversations permeated the opening night cocktail party at the Loews Hollywood Hotel and the following night’s “Classic Hollywood Soirée” at the NeueHouse Hollywood, located in the landmark CBS Radio Building where the first live “I Love Lucy” telecasts were filmed.

Executives bonded at the golf tournament and chatted informally about their kids, their latest home remodels, and their vacations in the lobby bar.

And the Knowledge Exchange and Digital EMA Forum provided valuable industry insights — much like, say, Digital Hollywood, but with a broader and yet much more targeted audience.

It was, once again, a good event — and, for many studio executives in attendance, a warm-up of sorts for Comic-Con International, held later the same week in San Diego.

I went to both events and saw many of the same faces. But at Comic-Con, the focus is on sizzle and glitz — bringing out the stars to dazzle consumers, constructing elaborate show-floor booths and, of course, throwing elaborate parties like the wonderful Omnia bash organized by our friends at Fandango, and featuring a stellar performance by singer Elle King, one of my personal favorites (yeah, I was the old guy hanging out in front of stage during the whole show, taking pictures).

At LAES, on the other hand, the focus was on us, and on our business — and what we can do to make it better.


25 Jul, 2017

'Boss Baby' Brings Goodies

Walmart's 'Boss Baby' Blu-ray cover
Walmart's 'Boss Baby' Blu-ray cover

Fox's July 25 home video release of DreamWorks' The Boss Baby was accompanied by several retailer exclusives.

Walmart offered exclusive box art with the Blu-ray combo pack and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack versions, and offered 20 minutes of extras via the Vudu streaming service.

Target offered a gift set that included the Blu-ray combo pack with an exclusive talking keychain that says six movie quotes.

Best Buy offered a Boss Baby lunchbox for $4.99 with the purchase of the film or another qualifying title.

Paramount's Ghost in the Shell also came with some exclusives. Target offered exclusive Blu-ray box art and 30 minutes of exclusive extras. Best Buy offered Steelbook packaging with the Blu-ray and UHD versions.

Again, some DVD versions of new releases were hard to come by at brick-and-mortar stores, With Warner's Unforgettable and Fox's Gifted being Blu-ray only at Best Buy locations. Amazon's DVD of Unforgettable was available only through third-party Marketplace sellers upon its debut.

Amazon also seems to have shut down preorders on several Disney titles, including Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and Rebels: The Complete Season Three.


18 Jul, 2017

'Kong' Is King of Exclusives

Walmart's two-pack of 'Kong: Skull Island' and 'Godzilla.'
Walmart's two-pack of 'Kong: Skull Island' and 'Godzilla.'

Retailers weren't shy with exclusives tailored to Warner's Kong: Skull Island July 18.

Walmart actually had two disc exclusives for the new adventure film. The first was a single-disc DVD edition in which the only extra is a director's commentary; the widely available DVD is a two-disc set with a bonus disc containing featurettes and deleted scenes.

The other Walmart exclusive was a Blu-ray two-pack containing Kong: Skull Island and 2014's Godzilla, the film for which the "Kong" reboot is something of a prequel, in that both films are set in the same fictional world and the central monsters of both are destined to fight on film in 2020. In addition, the version of the Kong Blu-ray combo pack included with this set features unique box art.

Best Buy offered a Steelbook edition of the Kong: Skull Island Ultra HD Blu-ray edition.

Target offered a special Kong Blu-ray combo pack with lenticular box art and 12 minutes of exclusive bonus content labeled as "A Terrifying Paradise: Creating Skull Island."

At Amazon, on the other hand, the DVD edition wasn't even being sold on its debut day; fans looking to buy the DVD version from the online retailer had to find a copy from a third-party Marketplace affiliate. To compound the issue, the version of the DVD linked to the title was the Spanish Region 2 version; the proper Region 1 edition was listed separately.

Not that the version availability issues are isolated to Amazon, as several of the big retailers only stocked either the DVD or Blu-ray version of the bigger titles of the week. Target just had the DVD version of Universal's The Promise, while Best Buy stores offered just the Blu-ray version of The Promise and Lionsgate's Free Fire. At Target and Best Buy, the missing version was available online.

Also notable at Target, Sony Pictures' new animated Resident Evil: Vendetta was available only in the Blu-ray version, not DVD or UHD, which were readily available at the other retailers.

Otherwise, Target's weekly ad devoted a lot of space to tout preorders of the Aug. 22 Blu-ray release of Disney's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, for which Target is offering a free $5 gift card with preorders. Target's Blu-ray also includes exclusive digital bonus content.

Best Buy will have the exclusive 4K/3D Blu-ray combo pack for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.


17 Jul, 2017

New on Disc: 'Joe Versus the Volcano' and more …


Joe Versus the Volcano (Blu-ray)

Available via Warner Archive
Warner, Comedy, $21.99 Blu-ray, ‘PG.’
Stars Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Lloyd Bridges, Robert Stack, Ossie Davis.
1990.
Despite a loopy affability that occasionally comes off as strained though rarely to deal-breaking extremes, Joe Versus the Volcano is liable to leave viewers sporting a mild smile for a hundred minutes.
Read the Full Reviews

The Savage Innocents (Blu-ray)

Olive, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Anthony Quinn, Yoko Tani, Peter O’Toole.
1960.
This cult hit from director Nicholas Ray gets off to something of a rocky start, which it then rebounds from to not insignificant extent by treating Anthony Quinn’s “Baby Huey of an Inuit” character and customs with sympathy and something like respect.
Read the Full Reviews


11 Jul, 2017

Furious Smurfing

Best Buy's Fate of the Furious' Blu-ray Steelbook
Best Buy's Fate of the Furious' Blu-ray Steelbook

Retailers offered a number of exclusives for Universal's The Fate of the Furious and Sony Pictures' Smurfs: The Lost Village.

For the eighth 'Fast & Furious' movie, Best Buy offered Steelbook packaging for both the Blu-ray and Ultra HD Blu-ray versions. Target offered the Blu-ray as a "Limited Deluxe Edition" with a cinch sack. And Walmart offered the Blu-ray versions with exclusive bonus content.

Walmart also offered a gift set of the eight-movie Blu-ray collection with a T-shirt for $69.96.

Target offered previous "Fast & Furious" movies on Blu-ray for $7.99 each. BestBuy.com had a deal to get the previous movies for $5 each with the purchase of Fate of the Furious.

For the "Smurfs" reboot, Target offered a Blu-ray "Summer Vacation Edition" with an exclusive bonus disc offering "Smurf Scout Camp." Walmart offered the Blu-ray with a lunchbox.

Best Buy is taking preorders for an exclusive Steelbook 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray of Warner's Kong: Skull Island, due July 18. Best Buy is also offering $5 in My Best Buy Rewards for members who buy select titles, such as the exclusive Steelbook edition of Sony Pictures' Fifth Element 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.


10 Jul, 2017

New on Disc: 'They Live by Night' and more …


They Live by Night

Criterion, Romance, $29.95 DVD, $39.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Farley Granger, Cathy O’Donnell, Howard Da Silva, Jay C. Flippen.
1949.
Though it deviates from Edward Anderson’s 1937 source novel in key respects, director Nicholas Ray’s screen debut is second only to Citizen Kane as the Hollywood directorial debut of the 1940s.
Extras: Premier noir expert Eddie Muller’s commentary is carried over from the old Warner DVD). Film critic Imogen Sara Smith appears on camera to place the film in the intriguing canon of non-metropolitan “on the road” noirs. Also, the essay by film scholar Bernard Eisenschitz does a similar job of pressing the right buttons when it comes to explaining why I love the movie so much.
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Hell and High Water (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Richard Widmark, Bella Darvi, Victor Francen, Cameron Mitchell, Gene Evans.
1954.
Director Samuel Fuller was far more of a Cold War than parsnip kind of guy, which pretty much mandates that his early CinemaScope political potboiler Hell and High Water would involve Commies, submarines, The Bomb and, yes, a femme scientist from the Vogue blueprint brought along to assist an elderly mentor with his professorial calculations.
Extras: Includes an essay from Julie Kirgo.
Read the Full Review