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.
Best Buy 'Despicable Me 3' exclusives
Among continuing sales offers in the wake of Black Friday, retailers touted preorders for upcoming home videos such as Despicable Me 3, coming Dec. 5.
Best Buy is offering a Steelbook Blu-ray for Despicable Me 3, as well as a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray collection of all three "Despicable Me" movies.
Target is offering a free $5 gift card with preorders of the Despicable Me 3 Blu-ray.
Among other deals, Target has holiday movies, music and books priced at $8 and $10.
Walmart offered DreamWorks' Trolls Holiday DVD with an exclusive digital copy and sticker sheets bundle.
Target started offering a 4K UHD version of its exclusive Stranger Things: Season 1 Blu-ray combo pack.
Best Buy's 'Hitman's Bodyguard' and 'Valerian' Steelbooks
Best Buy offered exclusive Steelbook editions of Lionsgate's The Hitman's Bodyguard and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.
Walmart offered a mini "The Art of the Film" book with the Valerian Blu-ray.
Most stores were otherwise preparing for Black Friday sales.
Target offered holiday-movie DVDs priced at $4 and $6, and had select recent DVDs for $9 each.
Best Buy offered DVDs and Blu-rays at $3.99, $4.99 and $6.99 price points, plus $K Ultra HD Blu-rays at $9.99 each, and gift sets starting at $24.99.
Lost Horizon: 80th Anniversary Edition
Sony Pictures, Romantic Fantasy Adventure Drama, $19.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Ronald Colman, Jane Wyatt, Thomas Mitchell, Edward Everett Horton, John Howard.
1937. The appeal of the story of this Frank Capra gamble of love is one of emotion over mind, as a British diplomat and an eclectic group of fellow passengers crash-land in reachable distance from a living paradise whose name the movie and James Hilton’s source novel put into the language: Shangri-La.
Extras: Includes a commentary from the 1999 DVD edition.
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Hell on Frisco Bay
Available via Warner Archive
Warner, Drama, $19.99 DVD, $21.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Alan Ladd, Edward G. Robinson, Joanne Dru, Paul Stewart, William Demarest.
1956. Warner Archive’s new Hell on Frisco Bay Blu-ray has two things going for it beyond a decent dose of cosmetic handsomeness and a robust mono soundtrack: its recent rareness and a terrific Edward G. Robinson gangster performance.
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By: Mike Clark
In a month that saw such depressing news about women’s plight in Hollywood (and indeed in many other arenas), it was gratifying to attend an event inspired by one of the most brilliant women to ever grace the screen. Hollywood legend Hedy Lamarr not only starred in such film classics as Samson and Delilah, The Strange Woman and Tortilla Flat, but she was also a lifelong inventor who pioneered “frequency hopping,” which became the foundation for technology utilized by the cell phones we carry daily, among other things.
To honor her, DEG: The Digital Entertainment group created an award to recognize and commemorate female industry leaders, and Nov. 15 in Santa Monica, Calif., the group presented the inaugural Hedy Lamarr Award for Innovation in Entertainment Technology to Geena Davis. Davis is the founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which works to dramatically increase the percentage of female characters and reduce gender stereotyping in media targeting children 11 and under.
“She was just so extraordinary and so incredible that I can hardly even begin to fill her shoes, so I am extremely humbled and grateful for this award. What an honor!” Davis said of Lamarr. “She was a pioneer and a patriot and a heroine.”
She noted that “technology has become a huge part of my institute’s success.”
The institute is using data analysis developed at the University of Southern California and funded by Google to quantify the disparity in treatment of females and males in children’s entertainment.
“I am very confident in predicting that the percentage of female characters in TV and movies made for kids will dramatically improve within just a few years,” she said.
The DEG also recognized three scholarship recipients with the Hedy Lamarr Achievement Award for Emerging Leaders in Entertainment Technology: Johanna Baumann of the University of Michigan; Carolyn DiLoreto of USC and Cherylynn Lima of Smith College.
Nominations are now open for the 2018 awards.
By: Stephanie Prange
'Atomic Blonde' Best Buy Steelbook and Target artwork
A few retailers offered exclusive packaging for Universal's Atomic Blonde upon its home video release Nov. 14.
Best Buy had Steelbook packaging for both the Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray editions.
Target had special box art with its Blu-ray slipcover, plus collectible Atomic Blonde art cards.
Among other titles, Walmart offered a DVD two-pack of The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature with a DVD of the first The Nut Job.
Best Buy's 'Westworld' and 'Cars 3' Steelbook Blu-rays
Best Buy Nov. 7 offered Steelbook editions for the Blu-rays of Disney's Cars 3 and Warner's Westworld: Season 1.
Other Cars 3 retailer exclusives included Target's Blu-ray with storybook packaging, and Walmart's Blu-ray with three bonus Mater short cartoons.
Sony Pictures offered a deluxe gift set of the Blu-ray of The Crown: Season 1, but Amazon was the only retailer where it was readily available.
Take a Good Look: The Definitive Collection
Shout! Factory, Game Show, $69.97 DVD, NR.
Stars Ernie Kovacs, Edie Adams, Cesar Romero, Hans Conried.
1959-60. It was almost a dead certainty that a game show that further took advantage of Ernie Kovacs’ additional standing as a video pioneer would end up being largely performance art.
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The Sea Wolf
Available via Warner Archive
Warner, Adventure, $17.99 DVD, $21.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Edward G. Robinson, John Garfield, Ida Lupino, Alexander Knox, Gene Lockhart, Barry Fitzgerald.
1941. This best and best-known of many preceding and subsequent screen versions of Jack London’s popular novel suffered the kind of ignominy that certain other Warner hits did when they proved popular enough to re-issue — severe cutting for double features. The footage was lost until this notably seamless Blu-ray restoration, taken from an unearthed 35mm source.
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By: Mike Clark
Best Buy's 'Dark Tower' Steelbook
Halloween was relatively light on new releases, and thus retailer promotions on home video, for the week.
Among the only notable retail exclusives was at Best Buy, which offered a Steelbook edition of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack of Sony Pictures' The Dark Tower.
Best Buy is also taking preorders for its exclusive Steelbook Blu-ray of Disney's Cars 3, due Nov. 7.
Walmart's 'Emoji Movie' with character plush
A couple of retailers offered exclusive pack-on goodies with the Blu-ray of Sony Pictures' The Emoji Movie.
Walmart offered the animated movie in a gift set containing the Blu-ray and a character plush backpack clip.
Target offered the Blu-ray with a pack-on movie-branded PopSocket mobile-device grip.
Among other titles, Target didn't have any copies of Fox's Teen Wolf: Season 6 Part 2 on shelves, and the title didn't come up on a search through Target.com. The title is listed at Target.com (where it comes up after a Google search), where is it listed as out of stock online.
The introduction of Movies Anywhere, an expansion of the Disney Movies Anywhere platform to include four more studios, is the most significant advancement of the promotion of digital ownership since the launch of UltraViolet.
The concept behind UltraViolet was to give consumers more choices in playing back their digital content by linking several digital retailers. After it launched in 2011, UltraViolet became primarily associated with the code included with Blu-rays and DVDs that allowed consumers to have a free digital copy of a movie or TV show with the purchase of the physical disc. The content itself would be stored in the cloud, and UltraViolet accounts would give consumers the rights to access the content whenever they wished from affiliated websites and apps such as Flixster, CinemaNow or Vudu.
But, there were significant gaps in the service. Apples’ iTunes, one of the biggest retailers of digital content, did not sign up. Neither did Disney, which launched its own, proprietary Disney Movies Anywhere service, which was compatible with iTunes.
In essence, while you could buy almost any content from any retailer, you could only watch it across platforms depending on the interconnectivity deals they had in place. This could lead to some eclectic digital collections, as some studios began offering digital copy only through UltraViolet. So you could have some movies on iTunes and some on Flixster and no means to visit one site to gauge your entire library. In many cases, especially for families, this could lead to inadvertently buying the same content again without realizing you had it on a different service. (Some studios, such as Paramount and Universal, allowed the same code to redeem a digital copy on both iTunes and UltraViolet, which opened up options but was still essentially owning the movie twice in two different spots, even if it were free).
One key difference between digital and physical ownership, of course, is the nature of the playback device. With a disc, you put it in a Blu-ray or DVD player and watch it as many times as you want, and the brand or location of the player shouldn’t matter. With streaming, however, the retailer where you bought (or redeemed the code for) the movie also provides the playback device, via the retailer’s app or a video plug-in at their website.
Thus, the key for consumers looking for the best option to see as much of their collection as possible in one spot would be finding a retailer that used as many of the available rights lockers. With its deal with Disney Movies Anywhere, Walmart’s Vudu soon became the only digital retailer where consumers could see their cloud-based collections of movies and TV shows from all six major studios and participating mini-majors such as Lionsgate.
But, it’s not as if these facts where widely marketed or known to mainstream consumers, many of whom erroneously expect everything ever made to show up eventually on Netflix. For digital ownership to remain viable, the ability to access content couldn’t be so annoying as to drive more viewers to subscription streaming.
Another problem facing UltraViolet was the decline in compatible retailers, particularly big names such as Flixter and CinemaNow.
So, unless studios wanted to incur the wrath of other retail partners to exclusively promote Vudu as the digital solution, they needed to facilitate a way to expand how their movies interacted with a variety of digital retailers.
Aside from a few early technical snafus, creating a Movies Anywhere account and linking all a consumers’ retail accounts is a relatively seamless process. Plus, as a reboot of DMA, the new Movies Anywhere offers something that UltraViolet never did — a playback app. You still have to visit a participating retailer to buy the movie, but you can watch it through the MA app in addition to that retailer if you want.
Now, the Movies Anywhere app and website just allow you to see which movies you own that are connected to the Movies Anywhere platform (not unlike how the UV site lets you see which UV-linked movies you own). So you can’t watch your content from holdouts such as Paramount and Lionsgate there. And because those studios haven’t signed up yet, their movies won’t automatically cross-populate between participating retailers Vudu, iTunes, Amazon Video and Google Play the way the rest of your collection will (with some exceptions).
Also, the biggest drawback to Movies Anywhere thus far is that it doesn’t include TV shows. All the major retailers connected to Movies Anywhere also sell TV episodes and seasons, and many TV DVDs and Blu-rays include UltraViolet codes for the content. Thus, you can’t watch TV shows on the Movies Anywhere app or website, and if you own TV content on iTunes it won’t show up in Vudu, or vice versa.
That, and the lack of Paramount and Lionsgate content, means consumers may still have to jump between retailers to see all their content.
But, if those issues can be worked out, and soon, then Movies Anywhere represents a good step toward the one-stop option for digital content studios are looking to achieve.