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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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20 Feb, 2017

New on Disc: 'Bells Are Ringing' and more …


Bells Are Ringing (Blu-ray)

Available via Warner Archive       
Warner, Musical, $21.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Judy Holliday, Dean Martin, Eddie Foy, Jr., Jean Stapleton.
1960.
For such a frequently ingratiating movie, Vincente Minnelli’s Bells Are Ringing exudes an air of melancholy that can’t be denied, no matter how sublime its Judy Holiday-Dean Martin teaming was and is.
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What a Way to Go! (Blu-ray)

Kino Lorber, Comedy, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Shirley MacLaine, Paul Newman, Robert Mitchum, Dean Martin, Gene Kelly.
1964.
There were likely people who went to see What a Way To Go! precisely because of lead Shirley MacLaine’s dizzying costume changes, which go in radical new directions each time her “Louisa” character gets married again (the story’s central gag).
Read the Full Review
 


14 Feb, 2017

'Thomas & Friends' Extraordinary Exclusive

Walmart's 'Thomas & Friends' Two-Pack
Walmart's 'Thomas & Friends' Two-Pack

While some big titles such as Paramount's Arrival hit shelves Feb. 14, none of them came with any retail exclusives.

The only noticeable exclusive among the new releases came at Walmart, which offered a DVD two-pack of the new Thomas & Friends: Extraordinary Engines with Thomas & Friends: Railway Friends, at $12.96.

Among other items of note, Best Buy did not have DVD copies of the Universal new releases Bleed for This and The Edge of Seventeen stocked in its brick-and-mortar stores. Only the Blu-ray combo packs were offered, which include the DVDs. Similarly, Best Buy didn't have the DVD version of Sony Pictures' Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, although the Blu-ray version didn't include a DVD.


7 Feb, 2017

'Justice League' Takes on 'Trolls' in Exclusives Battle

Target's 'Trolls' box art
Target's 'Trolls' box art

DreamWorks Animation's Trolls, distributed by Fox, and Warner's Justice League Dark arrived at retail Feb. 7 with their share of retail-exclusive options.

For Trolls, Best Buy offered the Blu-ray "Party Edition" with an exclusive graphic novel. Best Buy also included a graphic novel with the Justice League Dark Blu-ray gift set, which already includes a Constantine figurine.

At Target, the Trolls Blu-ray came with exclusive box art and a bonus disc containing an additional 20 minutss of material. Target offered a Steelbook case with the Justice League Dark Blu-ray.

Walmart had the Trolls DVD as a "party edition" similarly to the widely released Blu-ray version, and plugged two music videos with both the DVD and Blu-ray.

Walmart also had a DVD two-pack containing the first seasons of two HBO shows: "Eastbound & Down" and the newly released "Vice Principals."


6 Feb, 2017

New on Disc: 'The Barefoot Contessa' and more …


The Barefoot Contessa (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Humphrey Bogart, Ava Gardner, Edmond O’Brien, Marius Goring, Rossano Brazzi.
1954.
With cinema-centered The Barefoot Contessa, writer-director Joseph L. Mankiewicz brought years of professional and family experience, so if this almost illegally gorgeous saga about a Spanish dancer-turned-movie-star can be on the windy and lumpy side, it is a real insider’s movie.
Extras: Includes a first-rate commentary from Twilight Time’s Julie Kirgo and the always ticklishly irreverent David Del Valle. An added virtue is a stills gallery from Del Valle’s personal archive.
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Suddenly (Blu-ray)

Image, Drama, $14.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Frank Sinatra, Sterling Hayden, Nancy Gates, James Gleason.
1954.
Though the picture has some of the limitations associated with ‘B’-movies, Frank Sinatra is spectacularly good here as an all-out villain in ways that we rarely got to see on the screen, given his disinclination to put out in movies the way he did in the recording studio or in concert.
Extras: One of the two voiceover commentaries here is by the late Frank Sinatra Jr., who not only knew some Suddenly family lore but was actually present on the set. The other Blu-ray commentary is by frequent voiceover commentator and standout USC film prof Drew Casper.
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31 Jan, 2017

Exclusive Packaging for 'Pinocchio'

Best Buy and Target 'Pinocchio' exclusives, Best Buy 'Jack Reacher Never Go Back' Steelbook
Best Buy and Target 'Pinocchio' exclusives, Best Buy 'Jack Reacher Never Go Back' Steelbook

A couple of retailers offered exclusive packaging for Disney's new Pinocchio: Signature Collection Blu-ray.

Target offered the Blu-ray combo pack with a 28-page storybook.

Best Buy offered the animated classic with special lenticular box art.

For Paramount's Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, Best Buy had exclusive Steelbook cases for the Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray editions.

Walmart offered a DVD gift set of Universal's Barbie: Video Game Hero with a Princess Charm School DVD.


30 Jan, 2017

New on Disc: 'Sudden Fear' and more …


Sudden Fear (Blu-ray)

Cohen, Mystery, $34.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Joan Crawford, Jack Palance, Gloria Grahame, Bruce Bennett.
1952.
Joan Crawford’s third and last Oscar nomination came for a fairly irresistible wife-in-peril thriller whose production she personally spearheaded.
Extras: Film historian Jeremy Arnold provides a pro-job voiceover commentary.
Read the Full Review

Cry of the City (Blu-ray)

Kino Lorber, Mystery, $29.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Victor Mature, Richard Conte, Shelley Winters, Hope Emerson.
1948.
Cry of the City is an urban toughie from director Robert Siodmak that has a couple knockout supporting performances from Barry Kroeger and Hope Emerson.
Extras: Contains a commentary by Eddie Muller.
Read the Full Review


30 Jan, 2017

Finding the Flow in 2017


This is the year when the home entertainment industry’s creative juices really need to get flowing.

For years, the ongoing fight to get people to buy movies, TV shows and other filmed content has become increasingly difficult.

The struggle began when the industry was born, with studios fighting retailers over the right to rent videocassettes. That battle lost, studios came up with revenue-sharing concepts, which worked fairly well until the emergence of DVD — two decades ago this year — became Hollywood’s silver bullet.
But after plateauing in 2004, the novelty of being able to buy content began to wear off. The launch of a high-definition successor was marred by a bruising format war as well as the realization that consumers aren’t going to re-buy their libraries just because a marginally better disc is now available.

At first, sales growth slowed; then, it became a rapid decline, with the rise of Netflix and streaming. Studios presented an “electronic sellthrough” alternative to the subscription-streaming model, but it was slow to take off; early windows gave EST a temporary push but double-digit gains came to an end in 2016, prompting everyone to wonder, “What now?”

Studios should be encouraged by one unheralded statistic from 2016: While EST sales growth did, in fact, slow to the single digits, electronic sales of newly released theatrical films shot up a robust 20%, underscoring my long-held contention that the buying habit among consumers isn’t dead — you simply need the right content.

The problem is, studios came up with a great idea — releasing films electronically two or three weeks before the disc — back in 2009, when the concept was first tested, but have done little tweaking since. Why isn’t there tiered windowing, with consumers able to buy movies electronically even earlier, at a premium? How important is local ownership, enabled through a mechanism such as Vidity, and are there ways to better exploit this option? What about extra content — for years we’ve hailed such tried-and-trues as deleted scenes, making-of documentaries and filmmaker interviews, but can’t we take this concept to the proverbial “next level” as well? And, as Walt Disney Studios has shown with Disney Movies Anywhere, retail partnerships and a seamless transition into the living or family room is critical.

At the same time studios aggressively seek to boost electronic ownership, let’s not forget about the disc. Yes, DVD sales are falling, fast, but Blu-ray Disc sales are holding up remarkably well — and we now have a new format, Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc, that we need to be crowing about in a loud and clear fashion. Let’s not muddy the waters and confuse the consumer with too many names, and too many logos — pick one and stick with it. And then market the hell out of Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc being far and away the best way to view movies outside of the movie theater, focusing on that single, salient point.
The new year, 2017, will only be as good as our industry makes it. 


27 Jan, 2017

Rethinking Home Entertainment


Home entertainment has for the most part been a format to revisit what viewers have had access to in previous forms and times. Theatrical hits found new life (and revenue) in the home entertainment market on VHS, DVD, Blu-ray Disc and digital, as did classics that graced theaters long before the prospect of viewing content on-demand in the home existed.

The home entertainment experience evolved from merely watching the same content available in the theater to viewing extra content — filmmaker commentary, making-of documentaries, Easter eggs, etc. — that the theatrical audience could not access. Also, the video game business evolved into yet another way to experience home entertainment similar to movies, with storylines and realistic graphics. Many saw the game and movie businesses converging.

At CES, other types of home entertainment came to the stage: virtual reality and augmented reality, which offer new ways to connect with franchises that often originate in the theater. There were numerous devices and services that promised to make virtual and other realities a new form of home entertainment, a new way to experience a story. The devices and content delivery systems differ wildly. From the Gear VR, which attaches to the cell phone and accesses whatever viewers can stream online, to the “tethered” experiences that take advantage of the greater power of game systems such as the PlayStation 4. Some experiences require cameras or other devices in the home to orient the player in a space, allowing the viewer to move around. As one VR proponent put it, there are low-end to mid-range to high-end experiences, each offering a different version of a story or franchise. The space has become so active that it spawned its own industry consortium announced at CES, the Virtual Reality Industry Forum, comprised of a few dozen companies joining forces “to further the widespread availability of high-quality audiovisual VR experiences, for the benefit of consumers.”

This kaleidoscope of entertainment can either be viewed as a cacophony or as an opportunity. In the year ahead, “we will see more VR, AR, AI and mixed reality,” said industry veteran Mike Dunn, president of product strategy and consumer business development at 20th Century Fox. “As we continue to evolve the ways we create and distribute content, we must make it easy for the consumer to remain connected to the stories and experiences they love, and we must help them understand the formats available, including defining clear benefits of how and why to purchase.” And that may in the future encompass purchases of VR experiences. Indeed, the Fox Innovation Lab in November released its first commercial virtual reality endeavor, The Martian VR Experience, at $19.99.

We’ve long been rethinking the way we deliver home entertainment — different formats, different delivery services — but in the future we may have to rethink the type of home entertainment the industry delivers.


 


24 Jan, 2017

'Inferno' Fans the Retail Flames

Best Buy's 'Inferno' Steelbook and Walmart's Langdon trilogy DVD
Best Buy's 'Inferno' Steelbook and Walmart's Langdon trilogy DVD

Sony Pictures' Inferno, the third movie adaptation of the Robert Langdon novels, gave retailers a few options for promoting exclusive editions.

Best Buy had a special Steelbook case with the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray edition of the film.

Walmart had a DVD set of all three Langdon movies — The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons and Inferno — starring Tom Hanks as the professor frequently tasked with interpreting ancient clues to solve mysteries.

Another notable new release, The Light Between Oceans, a DreamWorks production distributed by Disney, seems to have some availability issues. Best Buy didn't have the DVD edition of the film stocked in its brick-and-mortar shelves, while Walmart stores didn't have the Blu-ray version. Amazon.com didn't seem to have any copies of its own on the Jan. 24 release date, with the title available there only through Marketplace sellers.

Among other deals, Best Buy had a selection of recent popular Blu-rays for $9.99 each. Target had a similar deal with $10 Blu-rays and DVDs.


23 Jan, 2017

New on Disc: 'Chicago Cubs 2016 World Series Collector's Edition' and more …


Chicago Cubs 2016 World Series Collector's Edition

Shout! Factory, Sports, $59.99 DVD, $79.97 Blu-ray, NR.

2016 World Series Champions: The Chicago Cubs

Shout! Factory, Sports, $26.99 DVD, $34.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Narrated by Vince Vaughn.
2016.
We’re talking the historically transcendent Cubs-Indians here — seven games, two of them classics or near-classics, and one of those was game 7 stretching into extra innings after a rain delay.
Read the Full Review

Go, Johnny, Go!

Available via Sprocketvault.com
Sprocket Vault, Musical, $14.99 DVD, NR.
Stars Jimmy Clanton, Alan Freed, Chuck Berry, Sandy Stewart.

1959. Of all the rock revue pics made in the 1950s, Go, Johnny, Go! definitely carries the most star-crossed aura, considering the tragic fates that awaited so many members of its cast — a couple of them eerily soon after this quickie’s production.
Extras: The voiceover commentary is funny enough to make this surprisingly pristine DVD looker something of a rollicking affair.
Read the Full Review