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.
Finding Retail 'Monuments'
Among several new releases May 20, the biggest retail exclusives came with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s The Monuments Men.
Target offered the Blu-ray combo pack of the World War II drama with an exclusive bonus disc containing the featurette “A Monumental Undertaking: George Clooney’s Journey.” Walmart offered the Blu-ray packed with a Blu-ray double feature of The Bridge on the River Kwai and The Guns of Navarone.
Walmart also offered the DVD of Warner’s Sophia Grace & Rosie’s Royal Adventure with a dress-up play set. Target offered the title with three song downloads.
In preparation for DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon 2, Walmart offered a re-release of the first film on DVD or Blu-ray with a pack-on “Dragon 2 Racing Guide.”
The only notable retail exlcusive for the new releases of May 13 came with Lionsgate’s first-season disc of the Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black.”
Target offered a bonus disc with both the DVD and Blu-ray versions. The disc contained the featurette “It’s All About Character,” which explores the various characters inhabiting Litchfield prison.
Unleashing 'Son of Batman'
Best Buy's 'Son of Batman' with pack-on figurine
As the slow period for major new releases continues, the biggest retail news for the May 6 titles involved Warner’s Son of Batman.
Best Buy offered a Deathstroke figurine with the Blu-ray combo pack, while Target offered the direct-to-video animated movie with exclusive steelbook packaging.
Walmart had early availability of the two-DVD special edition of the film, a version available everywhere else June 17.
Walmart also had exclusive availability of the movie Ragamuffin, from Millennium Entertainment, for $12.96. The movie is based on the story behind the song “Awesome God.”
New on Disc: 'Double Indemnity' and more …
Double Indemnity (Blu-ray)
Universal, Drama, $29.98 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray, Edward G. Robinson.
1944. The Blu-ray of this increasingly durable version of James M. Cain’s novel is the visually darkest rendering I’ve ever seen of the picture, but the image clarity is super sharp. Similarly sharp were Billy Wilder’s casting instincts over many years, and as good as the script is, it is tough to imagine the definitive insurance-fraud movie being as revered as it is were the choice of players not so distinctive.
Read the Full Review
Riot in Cell Block 11
Criterion, Drama, $24.95 DVD, $39.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Neville Brand, Emile Meyer, Leo Gordon.
1954. The backstory to this example of what used to be called a “shaky-A” is probably a little more interesting than the film itself, an exposé of prison abuses. Brutal for its day, Riot runs a tight 80 minutes and occasionally reflects a low budget that doesn’t give the great cinematographer Russell Harlan that much to do, though his deep-focus shots of the darkened prison corridor are not unimpressive.
Read the Full Review
By: Mike Clark
A 'Day' for Princesses
A portion of Target's ad for “National Princess Celebration”
The big promotion at Target for the new-release week of April 29 tied into “National Princess Celebration,” with the chain offering big deals on Disney Princess products. In particular, shoppers could get $5 off any Disney Princess Blu-ray with the purchase of a Disney Princess Sparkle doll for $9.99.
Target also offered an exclusive Blu-ray combo pack of Paramount’s Labor Day, containing a bonus disc with 20 minutes of exclusive extras, including a look at the film’s signature pie-making scene.
Target also promoted several recent discs of movies based on books by touting the paperback versions, including Paramount’s The Wolf of Wall Street and Fox’s 12 Years a Slave and The Book Thief.
Best Buy promoted the May 2 theatrical release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 by offering $10 theater vouchers and 100 bonus My Best Buy points with the purchase of select Sony Pictures Marvel movies, such as the original Spider-Man Trilogy, the first The Amazing Spider-Man and Avengers Confidential. Target and Walmart also had copies of the individual "Spider-Man" movies on Blu-ray with the $10 vouchers, $8 apiece at Target and $9.96 at Walmart.
Target also had a display of past seasons of "24" to promote the 24: Live Another Day miniseries. The releases, priced at $9.99 each, had a sticker that shoppers could scan with their phones to see a preview of the miniseries.
New on Disc: 'The King of Comedy' and more …
The King of Comedy (Blu-ray)
Fox, Comedy, $24.99 Blu-ray, ‘PG.’
Stars Robert De Niro, Jerry Lewis,
Sandra Bernhard, Diahnne Abbott.
1983. This discomforting film from Martin Scorsese absolutely nails the show-biz nerd subculture, particularly in terms of what New York City fringe living was at that time.
Read the Full Review
Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (Blu-ray)
Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, ‘R.’
Stars Warren Oates, Isela Vega, Gig Young, Robert Webber, Emilio Fernandez.
1974. This is the one Sam Peckinpah movie, according to the director himself, that he got to make without studio or producer interference.
Read the Full Review
By: Mike Clark
A 'Ride Along' With 'Mitty'
Target's 'Secret Life of Watler Mitty' Exclusive
The April 15 title getting the most retail attention was Fox’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, although Universal’s Ride Along also got at least one major promotional effort thrown its way.
For Mitty, Target offered an exclusive 30-page book with Life magazine photos. Walmart offered the title as a bare-bones DVD without extras, as well as a deluxe Blu-ray combo pack with a copy of the film’s soundtrack.
Walmart also offered the Ride Along Blu-ray combo pack with a pack-on T-shirt.
Best Buy offered a $5 savings off Anchor Bay’s Philomena when purchased with August: Osage County. Best Buy also offered a Despicable Me 2 Minion lunchbox for $2.99 with purchase of select titles.
Titles exclusive to Walmart include Cinedigm’s animated Stan Lee’s Mighty 7: Beginnings on DVD ($9.96) and Blu-ray combo ($14.96); Lionsgate’s The Dog Who Saved Easter on DVD ($9.96); and Gravitas Ventures’ Red Wing on DVD ($12.96), starring Luke Perry and Frances Fisher.
Combining Lego and 'The Hobbit'
Target's 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug' with Lego figure
Target offered Warner’s new Blu-ray combo pack of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug with exclusive box art and a Legolas Lego figurine with accessories.
That was one of the few tie-in promotions on that or any other April 8 title offered at major retailers.
Most retailers didn’t carry the deluxe limited-edition of Smaug, consisting of the 3D Blu-ray packed with two dwarf-statue bookends. This set was available on Amazon.com for $79.96. Target’s and Walmart’s websites also offered the set at that price.
Walmart offered a two-pack of Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, with the DVD of the new film packed with the DVD of the original Paranormal Activity.
Target offered $8 in AMC coupons to apply to a theatrical ticket to see Fox’s Rio 2 in theaters, with the purchase of marked packages of Fox titles such as Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, Epic and the first Rio.
Target used its weekly ad circular to heavily promote a sale of $10 and $15 catalog and recent-release DVDs and Blu-rays.
'Anchorman' Anchors Deals
Walmart's 'Anchorman' double-feature steelbook
Two of the April 1 new disc releases attracted some big retail promotions, led by Paramount’s Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.
Best Buy offered the Anchorman 2 Blu-ray for a special $16.99 price only on Tuesday, April 1, while giving My Best Buy members 100 bonus points with the purchase of the film. Target’s exclusive featured special talking Blu-ray packaging. Walmart had a special two-pack of both “Anchorman” films as a four-disc Blu-ray set in steelbook packaging.
Costco offered the Anchorman 2 Blu-ray packed with a Ron Burgundy bobble-head doll for $29.99.
For Disney’s The Pirate Fairy, Target offered an exclusive bonus storybook, Best Buy had a free bonus wall decal set with the Blu-ray combo pack, and Walmart packed the Blu-ray with a bonus disc containing 10 “Pixie Hollow” short films, including Bake Off.
Walmart also had exclusive availability of DVDs of Lionsgate’s animated Birds of Paradise and Phase 4’s family drama God Save Our Farm, both for $12.96.
Target presented a by-three, get one for $1 deal on $5 value DVDs.
Happy Birthday, Batman!
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 .