Geared towards comic book and genre fans, Agent DVD Insider scoops DVD and Blu-Ray release announcements and news, along with commentary from industry experts and fellow comic fans.
March 30, 2014, marked the 75th anniversary of one of the great milestones in comic book history.
March 30, 1939, saw the release of “Detective Comics” No. 27, a little comic book that happened to introduce the character of "The Bat-Man" to the world, featuring artwork by Bob Kane and a script by Bill Finger. Copies of the issue, which bore a cover price of 10 cents, now sell for north of $1 million at auction.
At the time, the book was an anthology of detective stories, and the flagship book for what we now know as DC Comics. Before long, the book became devoted entirely to stories about Batman (dubbed the “World’s Greatest Detective”), and over time was one of several comics devoted to the adventures of the Caped Crusader, and the ways millionaire playboy Bruce Wayne devoted his life to fighting crime after witnessing the senseless murder of his parents. His sidekick, Robin, would debut a year later, in “Detective Comics” No. 39 in 1940, quickly followed by “Batman” No. 1, featuring Batman’s origin story and his first battles against The Joker and Catwoman.
Batman stood out from the early superheroes for a couple of reasons. He quickly emerged as a darker counterpoint to the optimism of Superman, who debuted a year earlier. Batman blended equal parts Zorro and Sherlock Holmes in the form of a masked vigilante with no superpowers, relying on the strength of his own intellect, and trained to the peak of physical perfection. Batman was one of the first antiheroes of comic books, a darker figure emerged from the shadows to fight the criminal elements in corrupt Gotham City, where the cops would often look the other way.
“Batman is one of the greatest characters ever created, in comics or elsewhere, and even after 75 years he continues to wildly fascinate fans. He is an integral part of pop culture and has successfully captured the imagination of the entire world,” said Diane Nelson, president of DC Entertainment, and president and chief content officer of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. “The origin of Batman, Bruce Wayne and the famous citizens of Gotham are legendary and likely a story you know inside out, even if you’ve never picked up a comic book in your life, and that speaks volumes to the character’s immense popularity and the constructs of the original mythology.”
The character has been reinvented several times throughout the generations to adapt to the era, always maintaining the same core elements and reigniting his popularity with the fans. The 1966 “Batman” TV series focused on the campy aspects of the character, while Tim Burton’s 1989 film focused on his darker side, and both were responsible for huge bouts of “Batmania.” Christopher Nolan took the character to new cinematic heights with his “Dark Knight Trilogy,” the second film of which, The Dark Knight, is often cited as the greatest comic book film ever.
The nine theatrical movies based on Batman (two from Burton, two from Joel Schumacher, Nolan’s trilogy, the 1966 TV tie-in movie and a 1993 animated film) are more than any other comic book character (and that’s not counting two movie serials from the 1940s).
“From billion-dollar blockbuster films to TV, home entertainment, video games and consumer products, the Dark Knight continues to resonate with audiences worldwide and rightfully deserves his place as a global pop culture icon for the ages,” said Kevin Tsujihara, CEO of Warner Bros. Entertainment.
To mark the milestone, Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment have prepared a year-long celebration of product releases and special events.
• DC Entertainment recently released a special edition of the “New-52” version of “Detective Comics” No. 27, commemorating Batman’s first appearance in the book 75 years ago. A new weekly comic book series, “Batman Eternal,” launches April 9, and DC plans several exclusive Batman variant covers for San Diego Comic-Con International in July.
• DC Entertainment is also partnering with thousands of comic retailers, book stores and libraries for “Batman Day” on Wednesday, July 23. Each location will host a Batman 75th anniversary celebration and offer fans a free, special-edition Batman comic.
• Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment has invited fashion designer Asher Levine to create a cape and cowl based on the Batsuit of the recently announced Batman: Arkham Knight video game developed by Rocksteady Studios. Favorite contemporary artists will have the opportunity to use the replicas as a blank canvas to produce their own, original interpretations of Batman’s iconic attire for an all new “Cape/Cowl/Create” art exhibit that will be showcased at Comic-Con.
• Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will bring fans an array of new Batman titles throughout the year, including the first DVD release of the 1966 “Batman” TV series later this year. New direct-to-video animated films include Son of Batman May 6 and Assault on Arkham in the summer. In addition, a 25th anniversary edition of Burton’s 1989 Batman film will be released in the fall.
• Warner Bros. Animation has created two all-new Batman animated shorts set for debut in April, with producers Bruce Timm (“Batman: The Animated Series”) and Darwyn Cooke (“Batman Beyond”) each presenting a unique and familiar take on the Batman animated universe. In addition, Timm will participate in a Batman 75th all-star panel at WonderCon in Anaheim on Saturday, April 19, which will also feature an exclusive premiere of Cooke’s animated short based upon “Batman Beyond.”
• Warner Bros. Television is in production on the pilot episode of “Gotham,” a potential one-hour drama for the Fox network that explores the origins of eventual police commissioner James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and the villains that made Gotham City famous.
• Warner Bros. Pictures will begin production of Zack Snyder’s untitled Superman/Batman film starring Henry Cavill, who reprises his role as Superman/Clark Kent from Man of Steel, and Ben Affleck as Batman/Bruce Wayne. The film is slated for release in summer 2016.
• Warner Bros. Consumer Products has partnered with an array of licensees to celebrate Batman’s 75th Anniversary through special-edition and limited-release products.
• offers a Batman 75 Sweepstakes that offers one lucky fan a unique prize package. More information about the anniversary events is available at .
A couple of March 25 new releases on disc came with deals for tie-in toys when bought at Target.
Those who bought Universal’s Monster High: Frights, Camera, Action on DVD ($12.99) or Blu-ray ($17.99) could save $5 off a select “Monster High” doll (priced at $18.99).
Warner’s Scooby-Doo! Wrestlemania Mystery animated film came with a free WWE figure (valued at $4.99) with purchase of the disc.
Walmart had an exclusive for the new “Scooby-Doo!” WWE crossover movie, offering the DVD version packed with a John Cena “Rumbler” figure.
Target also offered exclusive Blu-ray steelbook packaging with Paramount’s The Wolf of Wall Street.
Best Buy offered The Wolf of Wall Street on Blu-ray with a bonus disc featuring director Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio on the making of the movie.
Disney’s Frozen was easily the hottest item among the March 18 new releases on disc, with plenty of good deals offered by retailers for the animated hit.
Best Buy offered a free My Frozen Chronicles book with specially marked Blu-ray combo packs. Best Buy also had the film’s CD soundtrack on sale for $11.99.
Target offered a $5 savings off the Frozen Blu-ray when purchased at the same time as any Frozen toy valued at $20 or more. Target’s Blu-ray combo packs included a bonus disc containing the featurette “The Voices of Frozen,” an art gallery and a deleted scene.
Target also included an exclusive bonus disc with copies of Anchor Bay’s Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. The 30 minutes of extra content included a making-of featurette with a filmmaker Q&A.
Best Buy offered a $5 coupon for the purchase of the Saving Mr. Banks Blu-ray, taking the price down to $17.99.
Walmart offered 40 minutes of exclusive bonus content with Lionsgate’s Grace Unplugged.
Best Buy heavily touted several upcoming releases in its March 9 ad circular, offering 100 My Best Buy bonus points with the advance purchase of several upcoming Blu-rays for $19.99 each. Titles include Sony Pictures’ American Hustle (March 18), Disney’s Frozen (March 18), Paramount’s The Wolf of Wall Street (March 25), Paramount’s Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (April 1) and Universal’s Ride Along (April 15).
Best Buy also offered $7 off the e-book of The Book Thief with the purchase of the new Blu-ray of the film version, available from Fox.
Target, which seemed to quickly sell out of its exclusive deluxe Blu-ray editions of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, altered its promotion to give buyers of the film a free six-pack of Pop-Secret popcorn.
For Universal’s new animated film Barbie: The Pearl Princess, Target offered a free Barbie mini doll with the purchase of the film or the transforming Pearl Princess doll.
Walmart had exclusive availability of the Anchor Bay family film Against the Wild.
Target's 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' exclusive set
Any momentum films might have coming after the Oscars will be completely overshadowed by the Friday, March 7, arrival of Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. The top-grossing film at the domestic box office from 2013 is receiving huge retail attention and arrives with a variety of exclusives from which consumers can choose.
Walmart is offering special DVD ($19.96) and Blu-ray ($24.96) double features containing Catching Fire with the first film, in addition to standalone copies of the sequel.
Helping to promote the Catching Fire home video release, several Walmarts will host stars from the film at fan events starting at 11 p.m. local time March 6. Actress Willow Shields (who plays Primrose Everdeen in the films) will at a Walmart in Orange, Calif.; Meta Golding (Enobaria) and Bruno Gunn (Brutus) will be at a Walmart in Elgin, Ill.; Stephanie Leigh Schlund (Cashmere) and Lynn Cohen (Mags) will appear at a Walmart in Secaucus, N.j.
Best Buy offers Catching Fire with a collectible Blu-ray steelbook case for $22.99, in addition to an en exclusive steelbook of the first film for $17.99. Cost is $27.99 for both when purchased together. The purchase of either steelbook includes $8 in Fandango cash for a ticket to the new film Divergent in theaters.
Target offers the Catching Fire Blu-ray with a bonus disc containing 45 minutes of exclusive extras, as well as a collectible booklet for $22.99. The first film is available for $11 on DVD and $13 on Blu-ray.
Target is also gearing up for the upcoming theatrical release of Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, with endcap displays of new “Captain America” toys in the toy aisle, complete with DVDs of the first film.
Target's 'Thor: The Dark World' Loki Cover
Each of the major retail chains offered its own exclusive promotion for Disney’s Thor: The Dark World Blu-ray release.
Best Buy offered the 3D combo pack with a steelbook case. Target offered the 3D edition with an exclusive Loki slipcover, as well as a one-month free trial subscription to the Marvel Unlimited service, which offers access to more than 13,000 digital comic books. Walmart offered an exclusive Loki featurette watchable through its Vudu streaming service.
The Walmart promotion indicated it was available with the 3D combo pack, although the stickers touting it were on the regular single-disc Blu-rays (not that it mattered; the code to access the featurette was on the sticker, not inside the package).
Amazon offered exclusive Thor: The Dark World featurettes with its digital edition of the film.
The other big film released during the week, Warner’s Gravity, didn’t offer much in the way of exclusives, although Walmart had the DVD with special box art.
Walmart also had the first volume of Warner’s “Teen Titans Go!” on DVD a week before its March 4 street date, offered at $12.96.
Best Buy's 'Game of Thrones' covers
A light week of new releases Feb. 18 offered almost no new theatricals on disc, with the biggest title being HBO’s third-season Blu-ray and DVD of “Game of Thrones.”
Target offered the Blu-ray with a bonus disc containing 90 minutes of exclusive content, including interviews with cast members and author George R. R. Martin, who wrote the books upon which the series is based. Target also touted paperbacks of Martin’s “Thrones’ books.
Best Buy offered a choice of three exclusive Blu-ray covers, each bearing the sigil of one of the families fighting for power on the show. Best Buy also offered a $50 savings off an HTC One with two-year activation, with the purchase of the third-season of “Game of Thrones.”
Walmart's 'Jungle Book' with lunch bag
Retailers trotted out the goodies to encourage shoppers to come to their stores to pick up the new “Diamond Edition” of Disney’s The Jungle Book.
Best Buy offered a free Jungle Book twist-drum toy, valued at $5, with purchase of the film. Walmart offered the Blu-ray combo pack of The Jungle Book with a lunch bag. And Target offered the Blu-ray of the Disney classic packed with a storybook and CD.
Target also had an endcap display of Lionsgate DVDs such as The Hunger Games and the “Twilight” movies with $8 Fandango coupons for a theatrical ticket to Divergent.
In Walmart’s new-release section, one slot was devoted to cards for a Vudu purchase of Thor: The Dark World, touting immediate digital availability of the film (as opposed to the Feb. 25 Blu-ray and DVD release). Walmart also had the Beware the Batman Vol. 1 DVD a week early.
Best Buy offered a collectible Blu-ray steelbook case and a free LED keychain with preorders of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, due March 7.
Best Buy's 'Justice League: War' with figurine
Animated superhero movies are the perfect fodder for retail exclusives, so it’s not surprising that Warner’s Justice League: War would attract major promotional attention from the three big chains.
Best Buy offered an exclusive edition of the Blu-ray combo pack with a limited-edition Superman figurine, priced at $1 more than the regular edition. Target offered Justice League: War in steelbook packaging, while Walmart had early availability of a two-DVD limited edition version that won’t be widely available until March 18.
Walmart also offered a DVD version of Fox’s Free Birds with no extras for $14.96. This is especially interesting considering the only extra listed on the regular $19.96 DVD is a music video.
In addition, Walmart had exclusive availability of a family film called My Dog the Champion from Anchor Bay.
Lionsgate’s Escape Plan was offered at Target on DVD for just $10, part of a sale featuring many recent DVDs at the same price, including Captain Phillips, Fast & Furious 6 and Man of Steel.
Walmart's 'Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2' lunchbox packaging
New releases are starting to rain down like meatballs, and with them a plethora of retail exclusives from which to choose.
Those shopping for Sony Pictures’ Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 had plenty of choices from the major retailers. Best Buy offered the Blu-ray of the film with a Barry Strawberry plush toy. Walmart gave away a Cloudy 2 lunch box. And Target packed the Blu-ray with a bonus disc containing an “All Access at Cloudy Labs” behind-the-scenes featurette.
Target also offered a coupon for a free popcorn and soda at the Target Café with a Cloudy 2 purchase.
The other big title in terms of goodies was Paramount’s Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa. Best Buy included a bonus disc containing an “Origin of Bad Grandpa” featurette with a new Johnny Knoxville interview, and offered DVDs of the first two “Jackass” films for $2.99 each with purchase of the new film. Target packed the Blu-ray with a bottle opener. And Walmart offered a DVD two-pack of the new film with Jackass 3, as well as an exclusive version of the standalone DVD with a digital copy.
Target is also taking preorders for the Blu-ray combo pack of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (due March 7), offering a bonus disc with 45 minutes of exclusive content and a free fabric poster valued at $9.99.