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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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20 Dec, 2016

Some 'Magnificent' Exclusives

Best Buy's 'The Magnificent Seven' Steelbook UHD Blu-ray
Best Buy's 'The Magnificent Seven' Steelbook UHD Blu-ray

Sony Pictures' The Magnificent Seven was the only major new release Dec. 20 with exclusives at each of the three big retail chains.

Target offered the Blu-ray with an exclusive bonus disc containing "Seven Tales of Making The Magnificent Seven." Best Buy offered the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack in exclusive Steelbook packaging. And Walmart offered a special DVD of the Western remake with a Vudu digital copy of another Western movie, Silverado.

For Warner's Sully, Walmart offered a special DVD with the bonus features stripped out.

For the animated Storks, Target offered a free six pack of Orville Redenbacher popcorn with the purchase of any version of the film on disc.

Target also had select iTunes gift cards for 20% off with the purchase of another card at full price.


19 Dec, 2016

New on Disc: 'The Asphalt Jungle' and more …


The Asphalt Jungle

Criterion, Drama, $29.95 DVD, $39.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, Jean Hagen, James Whitmore, Sam Jaffe, John McIntire, Marilyn Monroe.
1950.
The granddaddy of meticulously high-scale robbery pics remains as vital and robust as ever, though gender-wise, there’s nothing too daddy-ish about the way Marilyn Monroe wears a jumpsuit here in the role that jump-started her career.
Extras: Includes the 1983 documentary Pharos of Chaos about actor Sterling Hayden; it also includes featurettes with noir maven Eddie Muller and cinematographer John Bailey, plus brief archival material of John Huston discussing the film and an almost hour-long documentary of him on Canadian TV promoting the much subsequent Wise Blood. Scholar/academic Drew Casper’s commentary shared with an edited-in James Whitmore is carried over from the DVD.
Read the Full Review

The Best of Cinerama

Flicker Alley, Documentary, $39.95 Blu-ray/DVD, NR.
1963.
For an assemblage whose reason for being at the time was mostly to fill a temporary dearth of product, The Best of Cinerama (culled from five preceding travelogues dating back to 1952) plays so spectacularly well that if you need a “demonstration” disc to help show off the home system for which you forfeited your kids’ education, this could be the one.
Extras: Includes a commentary by Cinerama historian David Coles, a pair of 70mm featurettes about Shell Oil and NASA restored and saved from oblivion, heavy samplings of Dimitri Tiomkin music, a lengthy — and magnificent — photo montage of the process’s scores of pioneers, and a chronological theater-by-theater review of all the Cinerama theaters that opened worldwide up until about 1960.
Read the Full Review


19 Dec, 2016

Invigorating Sales Is Key Goal for 2017


Well, it’s been an interesting year again, hasn’t it? Last year ended with disc sales way down and everyone looking to electronic sellthrough as our industry’s great hope. This year is ending with disc sales remarkably robust and lots of excitement over the new Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc format. Meanwhile, EST sales growth has slowed to the single digits and studio heads are scratching their heads and wondering whether the novelty of early release windows has worn off.

The EST situation certainly is a pickle. It was never a huge segment of the business, primarily because of waning interest in ownership as well as the economic model. We have become a nation of streamers, first with music and now with movies and TV shows; we don’t necessarily want to own things, just borrow them for a while. Compounding matters is the inherent difficulty in getting consumers to spend even $10 on a movie when the same amount of money buys them an entire month of unlimited Netflix access.

On top of that, there’s the lack of something real — a download simply doesn’t have the appeal of a physical product you can look at, touch and display.

Now, I happen to think there are ways to invigorate EST sales and looking ahead to 2017 I think we are going to make substantial progress. I foresee a new platform to replace the fractious UltraViolet as well as more wow-factor Digital HD releases like Suicide Squad (the digital edition came with both the theatrical and new extended cut of the film, and that’s just the beginning).

Meanwhile, I also predict a renewed effort by the studios to nurture relationships with retailers, both physical and digital. The disc business needs to be carefully tended, and as studios have focused their efforts on EST they have perhaps paid a little less attention to retailers than they should. Data analytics is a wonderful thing, but so is the personal relationship, the phone call instead of the group email or text. Two decades ago, retailers were stunned when studios effectively shoved VHS out the door. Looking back, it could, and should, have been a much slower, and potentially more lucrative, death.

At the same time, distribution channels must be broadened and the search for marketable, ownable content widened. Defying conventional wisdom, Sony Pictures scored big with “House of Cards” even though it had already streamed on Netflix. How many other opportunities like this are out there?

It’s time, high time, to get down to business.


 


19 Dec, 2016

It's Usually Unusual


The industry settled into its usual pattern as 2016 ended, with the Hall of Fame dinner honoring inductees. But again 2016 was by no means a “usual” year. The industry is facing more challenges and changes to its business model.

We’ve got yet another new format debuting: 4K Ultra HD with high dynamic range. It’s a format that could breathe new life into the physical disc, which is the best way to view four times the resolution of HD, with HDR, which produces brilliant highlights, vibrant colors and greater contrast on compatible displays.

We’ve got the growing dominance of subscription video-on-demand services such as Netflix eating into consumers’ entertainment time.

We’ve got new forms of entertainment, notably virtual reality, which could alter the very nature of personal entertainment.

It’s always unusual.

But what stays the same is the quality of people who work in this industry, recognized this month by the annual Press Play: Variety Home Entertainment and Digital Hall of Fame, which honored Universal Pictures Home Entertainment president Eddie Cunningham, actor and filmmaker Jon Favreau, and Epix president and CEO Mark Greenberg, as well as virtual reality evangelist Chris Milk and Google Play, which has been a big player in digital delivery.

“Home video, home entertainment and now digital have been a huge part of my career,” noted Favreau in accepting his award.
It’s remarkable that this more-than-three-decades-old business is still a vital part of the entertainment industry.

And it’s notable that we are once again facing a consolidation in the industry. Just as the video store chains gobbled up smaller stores and chains in years past, Amazon is using its technology and marketplace prowess to assemble a panoply of OTT services under Amazon Channels.

Analyst Michael Pachter sees Amazon Channels as the new pay-TV, a successor to the cable market that has lasted for decades. It’s a development that is both familiar and new, a new way of organizing the home entertainment market that seems to follow some of the usual patterns.


13 Dec, 2016

A 'Squad' of Exclusives

Amazon's 'Suicide Squad' with Harley Quinn figurine
Amazon's 'Suicide Squad' with Harley Quinn figurine

There were plenty of retailer exclusives available for Warner's Suicide Squad Dec. 13.

Best Buy offered the DC Comics superhero movie with two different exclusives: a Blu-ray combo pack with a graphic novel, and the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray iwith Steelbook packaging.

Target offered the Blu-ray combo pack with exclusive 64-page Digibook and lenticular packaging. Target also had exclusive Batman Funko POP! figures for $8.99 each.

Walmart offered one of its typical Warner DVDs without any bonus materials.

Amazon.com offered two deluxe gift sets of the Blu-ray combo pack with special box art. One set came with a Harley Quinn figurine and was listed at $116.99 on the first day. Another version of the gift set came with a Deadshot figureine, listed at $99.99.

Target offered a $5 savings with the purchase of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children on disc with the book upon which the movie is based.

Target also advertised an exclusive edition of the DVD that contained a bracelet, although all retailers had the bracelet edition of the movie, at the same price as the regular DVD.


12 Dec, 2016

New on Disc: 'T.A.M.I. Show/The Big T.N.T. Show' and more …


T.A.M.I. Show/The Big T.N.T. Show (Blu-ray)

Shout! Factory, Music, $29.98 Blu-ray, NR.
1964/66.
The T.A.M.I. Blu-ray presentation looks slightly more vital than previous releases, despite the source limitations, while The Big T.N.T. Show half of a nicely conceived twofer is its home market premiere.
Extras: T.A.M.I. carries over the DVD’s wonderful joint commentary by director Steve Binder and rock journalist/historian Don Waller. T.N.T. has some solid bonus interviews.
Read the Full Review

Pretty Poison (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, ‘R.’
Stars Anthony Perkins, Tuesday Weld, Beverly Garland, John Randolph.
1968.
A still-twisted tale cast to the hilt thanks to leads Anthony Perkins and Tuesday Weld, Pretty Poison was belated critical success that gets a nifty Twilight Time assist.
Extras: The Blu-ray includes two commentaries: one with director Noel Black carried over from the old DVD, and a new one with film historian Lem Dobbs, Poison producer Lawrence Turman and Twilight Time’s Nick Redman.
Read the Full Review
 


6 Dec, 2016

The Secret Life of Retail Exclusives

Target's 'The Secret Life of Pets' décor pack Blu-ray and Walmart's 'Jason Bourne' deluxe Blu-ray photo packaging
Target's 'The Secret Life of Pets' décor pack Blu-ray and Walmart's 'Jason Bourne' deluxe Blu-ray photo packaging

Retailers broke out the welcome mat for Universal's The Secret Life of Pets and Jason Bourne.

For the animated The Secret Life of Pets, Walmart offered the Blu-ray combo pack in a gift set with three character clip-ons. Target offered the Blu-ray with a "décor pack" consisting of a photo frame and four wall decals. Best Buy offered a free plush dog ($9.99 separately) with the purchase of the Ultra HD Blu-ray.

For the action sequel Jason Bourne, Target offered the Blu-ray combo pack with an exclusive bonus disc containing 30 additional minutes of bonus content. Walmart offered an exclusive deluxe edition of the Blu-ray with collectible packaging and a photo book. Best Buy offered an exclusive 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray boxed set of the five "Bourne" films.

Target's website touted an exclusive Steelbook blu-ray of The Secret Life of Pets, which was listed as out of stock online and at stores.

Target offered an exclusive DVD of the first season of the Netflix series "Master of None" at $14.99.


5 Dec, 2016

New on Disc: 'Time After Time' and more …


Time After Time (Blu-ray)

Available via Warner Archive
Warner, Sci-Fi, $21.99 Blu-ray, ‘PG.’
Stars Malcolm McDowell, David Warner, Mary Steenburgen.
1979.
Debuting director Nicholas Meyer, who also penned the screenplay, presents a surprisingly sweet time travel fantasy dealing with novelist H.G. Wells’s pursuit of Jack the Ripper into 1979 San Francisco.
Extras: A commentary is carried over from the old DVD.
Read the Full Review

Two Women (Blu-ray)

All-Region Import
Cult Films, Drama, $20 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Sophia Loren, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Eleanor Brown, Raf Vallone.
1960.
Given its reputation for, among other things, having won Sophia Loren the Oscar while establishing her as an international superstar, Vittorio De Sica’s Two Women has been insulted by wretched prints over the years, so while the visual result of this Blu-ray import is on the high side of passable with some room for improvement, the overall release is borderline exceptional thanks to some surprising bonus extras.
Extras: The supplements are a treat. There’s a 54-minute interview with Loren, and the wonderful 2009 documentary Vittorio D., which in 93 minutes substantively covers De Sica’s career as actor, family man, gambling addict, occasional political activist and director. A fairly amazing lineup of interviewees includes Shirley MacLaine, Clint Eastwood, Woody Allen, Paul Mazursky, Leonard Maltin, De Sica children from two marriages, John Landis, Mike Leigh, Ken Loach, Ettore Scola and Lina Wertmuller.
Read the Full Review
 


29 Nov, 2016

'Pete's Dragon,' 'BFG' Unleashed at Retail After Busy Shopping Weekend


Retailers didn't give much attention to the new releases Nov. 29 in light of lingering traces of the busy post-Thanksgiving shopping weekend.

Just about the only promotion among the new titles came at Target, which offered $5 off the purchase of both Disney's Pete's Dragon and The BFG on disc.

Target, like most of the big retailers, had many displays tailored to deep-discounted catalog titles.

Best Buy offered buy-one-get-one-free deals from a selection of Sony Pictures titles. Best Buy also touted 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray deals, with $10 off the purchase of two, and $20 off the purchase of three.

Preorders with Blu-ray Steelbooks at Best Buy include Warner's Suicide Squad and Sony Pictures' The Magnificent Seven.

Walmart had the exclusive DVD of National Geographic's No Man Left Behind at $9.96.


28 Nov, 2016

New on Disc: 'One-Eyed Jacks' and more …


One-Eyed Jacks

Criterion, Western, $29.95 DVD, $39.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Pina Pellicer, Katy Jurado, Ben Johnson, Slim Pickens.
1961.
Marlon Brando’s sole outing as director is the link between the traditional Western with lush old-school Hollywood production values and the grittier and meaner riffs that Clint and Sergio began playing later in the 1960s as agents of permanent change.
Extras: A great supplement on this Criterion must-own is film historian Toby Roan’s concise and digestible explanation of the picture’s byzantine production history. This rewarding package also includes a visual essay by David Cairns, whose concentration on aesthetics complements Roan’s counterpart about the film’s production history; Brando audio tapes that illuminate how a film that began in one direction quickly went in another; and an essay by critic Howard Hampton.
Read the Full Review

It’s Always Fair Weather

Available via Warner Archive       
Warner, Musical, $17.99 DVD, $21.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Gene Kelly, Dan Dailey, Cyd Charisse, Michael Kidd, Dolores Gray.
1955.
The decline of the movie musical in the 1950s is the main reason It’s Always Fair Weather got hit with stormy box office — and not the fact that it’s widely acknowledged as being cynical and downbeat, notwithstanding its good reviews at the time or the size of its subsequent cult. The Betty Comden-Adolph Green satire is almost as on point about encroaching television as it was about the talkie transition in Singin’ in the Rain.
Extras: Blu-ray bonus materials carried over from the old DVD include a deleted “Love Is Nothing But a Racket” number; a making-of featurette; a deleted Michael Kidd number; some raw footage from “The Binge” scene; two promotional segments from ABC-TV’s short-lived “The MGM Parade”; and two early Scope cartoons, one of them with Droopy.
Read the Full Review