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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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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.
Read the Full Review

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


4 Jul, 2017

Titles Scarce, But Stores Open for 2017 Independence Day

Target's Illumination animation catalog display
Target's Illumination animation catalog display

New releases for the week were somewhat limited thanks to the typical Tuesday new-release date falling on the July 4 holiday in 2017.

The only new title available at all locations was Universal's The Zookeeper's Wife, a drama with Jessica Chastain that earned $17 million at the domestic box office.

Another title with a notable cast and director was otherwise nowhere to be found — Broad Green's Song to Song. The Terrence Malick-directed film, which stars Michael Fassbender, Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara and Natalie Portman, earned just $443,684 at the domestic box office and was available only online at the big chains. In fact, Amazon had the title listed as out of stock on its first day of release, available only through third-party Marketplace sellers.

What's more, a search for the film's title at Walmart.com automatically changes the parameter to "song to sing," which could be someone of a burden for people actually looking for the film.

Otherwise, the week was marked by a handful of sales and other promotions. Target and Best Buy kept displays promising an $8 Despicable Me 3 movie coupon with the purchase of other Illumination animated films, such as The Secret Life of Pets, Sing and, of course, the previous "Despicable Me" movies.

Stores also restocked DVDs and Blu-rays of previous seasons of "Game of Thrones" in time for the new season on HBO.

Best Buy offered a free $5 gift card with the puchase of select Blu-rays. Another deal offered two Blu-rays for $15 from a selection.


27 Jun, 2017

Plenty of Options for 'Power Rangers'

Best Buy's deluxe 'Power Rangers' Blu-ray
Best Buy's deluxe 'Power Rangers' Blu-ray

The big retailers brought out exclusive editions for the June 27 Blu-ray Disc release of Lionsgate's Power Rangers.

Best Buy offered a collector's set of the Blu-ray containing special packaging and art cards.

Target offered the Power Rangers Blu-ray in Steelbook packaging with a graphic novel.

Walmart offered the Blu-ray with a bonus disc containing a "Ranger Recon" featurette that goes on set wiht the director and cast, and a featurette about the visual effects.

Best Buy had a special $59.99 collector's set called Spider-Man: Legacy Collection containing the five films from the previous "Spider-Man" franchises in two different Steelbook cases: one for the Sam Raimi series, including Spider-Man 3: The Editor's Cut, and another for the two "The Amazing Spider-Man" films. The set also came with a $7.50 coupon to see Spider-Man: Homecoming in theaters.


26 Jun, 2017

Ode to the Retailer


This week, we honor the top 10 retailers in the business as chosen by Home Media Magazine research. We also recognize five other retailers to watch for their innovation and commitment to the industry.

Much of the year, we concentrate on content and how it is being delivered. We highlight the companies that deliver it in ever-varying forms, from physical to digital, from standard to high-def to Ultra HD with high dynamic range. These companies are contacting and engaging with consumers, who after all determine the size, shape and future of our business.

Content may be king, as evidenced by digital services such as Netflix, Amazon and many others creating their own content. But ultimately, it’s the retailer that attracts and engages the consumer in discovery of content. When a typical family decides to look for something to watch on a free night, it’s the retailer that helps them locate the content that will excite them.

“Since its beginning, the delivery of home entertainment to the consumer has been about convenience and value,” noted Mark Fisher, president and CEO of the Entertainment Merchants Association, in our special section. “While what constitutes ‘convenience’ and ‘value’ has changed over time, that essential fact remains. Each of these retailers is successfully serving a segment — in some cases several segments — of the home entertainment market by providing their particular formulation of convenience and value to consumers.”

While delivery of home entertainment in all its forms is more diverse than ever, the job of contacting the consumer and offering convenience and value has become complicated as well. So we salute the retailers, both digital and physical, that are serving the tastes of various consumers, wherever, whenever and however they choose to get their entertainment.

“Bold retail innovation among our physical and digital partners this past year has served to significantly elevate our category,” said Eddie Cunningham, president of Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The industry’s retail partners are stepping up to push the business forward, with better delivery and marketing, meeting the challenge of a choosy consumer.


23 Jun, 2017

Mixing Fun With Innovation Is a Winning Hollywood Recipe


Virtual reality may still be a Great Unknown in terms of how it ultimately will change filmmaking — and storytelling, for that matter.

But while VR is essentially still in its incubation period, Hollywood sure is having a lot of fun taking baby steps, using VR mostly as a way to drum up excitement about its core product, movies.

Most recently Sony Pictures announced a new VR experience for Columbia Pictures’ Spider-Man: Homecoming movie that lets people experience what it’s like to actually be Spider-Man – in a virtual sense, of course.

They can sling themselves in the air to do battle against The Vulture, and play around with the superhero’s new and improved web-shooters that feature prominently in the newest “Spider-Man” film, the second reboot of the franchise.

The VR experience becomes available for free June 30, a week before the film opens, across all prominent VR platforms, including, of course, PlayStation VR, from a sister Sony division, as well as Oculus Rift (owned by Facebook) and HTC Vive.

According to our friends at Variety, Spider-Man: Homecoming VR was produced by Sony Pictures Virtual Reality, the studio’s VR unit, which was launched last summer under the auspices of Jake Zim, the SVP of Virtual Reality for Sony Pictures Entertainment. It was developed by CreateVR, the same agency that turned Sony Pictures’ The Walk into a VR experience.

It’s good to see Hollywood having some fun again, and at the same time, pushing the innovation agenda. Invariably, fun and innovation go hand in hand, and the whole excitement about VR is a refreshing change of pace from the regular industry news, which this summer seems to be revolving around “franchise fatigue” (which I don’t happen to believe in — in my view, a good movie is a good movie, and a bad movie is a bad movie, regardless of whether it’s part of series) and the continuing debate over releasing movies on other platforms around the same time as they debut in theaters (something I see as inevitable).

On the home entertainment side of the business, we’re seeing quite a few triumphs, including the remarkable home video performance of Lionsgate’s “John Wick” properties and Walt Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast.

And on the innovation front, the home entertainment business is doing quite well itself, particularly at 20th Century Fox, whose Innovation Lab has its fingers in all sorts of technological wonders. Fox also smartly set up a new business unit, FoxNext, that’s home to the studio’s video gaming, location-based entertainment, virtual reality and augmented reality productions.

It’s shaping up to be a long, hot summer — and Hollywood, despite the usual turbulence, is sizzling.

 


20 Jun, 2017

'Showing Roots' at Walmart


Walmart has an exclusive DVD of the movie Showing Roots starring Maggie Grace and Uzo Aduba for $9.96. The film tells the story of two women who cross racial boundaries to form a friendship and fight against inequality in their small town. The DVD includes a behind-the-scenes featurette.

Sony Pictures has re-released Blu-rays and DVDs of the previous five "Spider-Man" movies to offer $7.50 coupons for a ticket to the upcoming theatrical release of Spider-Man: Homecoming. Walmart had a significant display of the titles in their discount kiosk.

Target is offering a free $5 gift card with pre-orders of Universal's The Fate of the Furious at target.com/preorder. The movie comes with a collectible clinch sack.

Other Target preorder exclusives include a Steelbook case and graphic novel with the Blu-ray of Lionsgate's Power Rangers.


19 Jun, 2017

New on Disc: 'The Ballad of Cable Hogue' and more …


The Ballad of Cable Hogue (Blu-ray)

Available via Warner Archive        
Warner; Western; $21.99 Blu-ray; ‘R.’
Stars Jason Robards, Stella Stevens, David Warner, Strother Martin, L.Q. Jones, Slim Pickens.
1970.
Director Sam Peckinpah referred to Ballad as his personal favorite in later years, and befitting its title, the movie really does play like the parable set to music that it sometimes literally is.
Extras: Included is a commentary by Nick Redman and his longtime gallery of fellow Peckinpah historians (Paul Seydor, Garner Simmons and David Weddle), plus Redman’s frank featurette interview with Stella Stevens from the earlier DVD release.
Read the Full Review

Housekeeping (Blu-ray)

All-Region Import
Indicator, Drama, $20 Blu-ray, ‘PG-13.’
Stars Christine Lahti, Sara Walker, Andrea Burchill.
1987.
It may be dominated by a character who’s batty and maybe even beyond, but from the very opening we sense that this is a movie about to get under our skins in a subliminal kind of way.
Extras: Featurettes focus on interviews with director Bill Forsyth and cinematographer Michael Coulter; There are also several essays, plus reminiscences by editor Michael Ellis and even author Marilynne Robinson, who seems to be pleased by the adaptation of her book, which was thought to be unfilmable.
Read the Full Review

 


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.