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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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11 Feb, 2014

Welcome to the 'Jungle'

Walmart's 'Jungle Book' with lunch bag
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.

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4 Feb, 2014

Retail 'War' for 'Justice'

Best Buy's 'Justice League: War' with figurine
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.

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28 Jan, 2014

A 'Cloudy' Day for Exclusives

Walmart's 'Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2' lunchbox packaging
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.

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21 Jan, 2014

Walmart High on 'Cloud 9'

Disney's 'Cloud 9' DVD is available exclusively at Walmart
Disney's 'Cloud 9' DVD is available exclusively at Walmart

Walmart Jan. 21 had exclusive availability of the Disney Channel original snowboarding movie Cloud 9 just a few days after its Jan. 17 premiere. The Disney DVD was priced at $14.96.

Best Buy offered Sony Pictures’ Captain Phillips Blu-ray combo pack with exclusive steelbook packaging at the same price as the regular Blu-ray combo pack ($24.99).

In addition, some Best Buy stores offered a “Reward Yourself” deep-discount display touting DVDs for as low as $2.99 and Blu-rays for $4.99.

Target had exclusive availability of JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time, a new animated movie from Warner Home Video featuring Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the other members of the Justice League fighting an evil scheme by the Legion of Doom. Target listed the title at $12.99.

Curiously, while Target listed Sony Pictures’ Blue Jasmine Blu-ray in its weekly ad circular, a couple of stores in the Southern California area only put the DVD version on shelves.

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20 Jan, 2014

New on Disc: 'The Ghost and Mrs. Muir' and more …

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (Blu-ray)

Fox, Fantasy, $24.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Gene Tierney, Rex Harrison, George Sanders.
Lovely, and that’s really the word for it, Ghost was one of the handful of movies directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz that he didn’t script, though the screenwriter, Philip Dunne, was first-rate (he of How Green Was My Valley and Kiss of Death). But this very affecting movie is pretty well made by Bernard Herrmann’s score, which is one of his best. Rex Harrison plays a deceased sea captain who is rumored to be hanging around as a spirit in the seaside cottage he formerly owned. This is indeed true, as the widow who rents the place (Gene Tierney) is soon to learn. A subsidiary character (very small role) is Tierney’s character’s daughter played by Natalie Wood, whose breakthrough child role in Miracle on 34th Street hit screens the very same month.
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Our Nixon

Docurama, Documentary, B.O. $0.02 million, $29.95 DVD, NR.
Documentarian Penny Lane’s political-junkie catnip, which offers an irresistible look at Richard Nixon’s presidency up to April 30, 1973, couldn’t even exist without a couple miracles (or at least highly unusual occurrences). First of all, there are the famous Nixon White House tapes, which provide a significant amount of the audio. As for the visuals here, they only exist because White House Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman and fellow senior officials John Erlichman and Dwight Chapin were home-movie addicts in the pre-video days. After Haldeman and domestic affairs chief Erlichman resigned on April 30, the home movies (and thus this documentary) stop, but there are moments just in what’s captured that qualify as privileged. Nixon has often been called the gift that keeps on giving, and so are Nixon documentaries.
Read the Full Review

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14 Jan, 2014

'Butler' Serves Up Goodies

Target's 'Butler' Bundle
Target's 'Butler' Bundle

A flood of new releases arrived on shelves Jan. 14, with the biggest probably being Lee Daniels’ The Butler, the civil rights drama distributed by Anchor Bay. It’s certainly one of the only new titles with any exclusive promotions at retail.

Target offered The Butler with an exclusive bonus disc containing a television special featuring the cast from Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network.

Walmart’s copies of The Butler on both DVD and Blu-ray came with a bonus disc containing a look at the making of the film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.

Best Buy offered a $5 discount when The Butler Blu-ray was purchased at the same time as another Anchor Bay drama, Fruitvale Station.

Best Buy also touted catalog action-movie Blu-rays containing $7.50 movie coupons for the theatrical release of Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.

Walmart had exclusive availability of Phase 4’s Western Ambush at Dark Canyon, with the DVD packed with a CD soundtrack of songs from star Kix Brooks.

Barnes & Noble stores offered a buy-two-get-one-free deal on Blu-rays, DVDs and music, including boxed sets.


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7 Jan, 2014

Retailers Get 'Pac-Man' Fever

Some of the first exclusives of the new year involve the new DVD releases for “Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures” from Phase 4. While two volumes of the cartoon were released to general retail (The Adventure Begins and All You Can Eat), Target and Walmart each had its own exclusive volume to sell. Walmart sold Pac Is Back for $9.96, while Target had Let the Games Begin for $12.99.

Target also offered as an exclusive a special boxed set of all four seasons of “Duck Dynasty,” $34.99 for the DVD and $37.99 for the Blu-ray. Interestingly, the standalone fourth season was available only on DVD in stores and only on Blu-ray online.

As for exclusive add-ons, Target’s copies of the first season of “The Following” on DVD and Blu-ray included a bonus disc of “The Twisted Journal of the Followers.”

Walmart had exclusive availability of Anchor Bay’s military documentary Murph: The Protector, at $9.96 on DVD and $14.96 on Blu-ray.

Best Buy offered a $5 savings when the Blu-ray of Runner Runner was purchased with another recent Fox title, Don Jon.


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6 Jan, 2014

New on Disc: 'North to Alaska' and more …

North to Alaska (Blu-ray)

Fox, Comedy, $24.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars John Wayne, Stewart Granger, Ernie Kovacs, Fabian, Capucine.
A transitional movie in John Wayne’s career, this Henry Hathaway Western farce is broad even by Donovan’s Reef standards, though you probably haven’t lived until you’ve seen Ernie Kovacs (the heavy of the piece) completely covered in mud after a free-for-all. As the great Johnny Horton title song explains, Wayne’s “Big Sam” is prospecting gold with partner George (Stewart Granger) and brother Billy (1950s pop idol Fabian), at least when George isn’t pining for a French babe he met in Seattle. It’s all kind of poignant in a handsome Blu-ray that looks better than any theatrical print I’ve seen.
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Good Ol’ Freda

Magnolia, Documentary, B.O. $0.14 million, $26.98 DVD, $29.98 Blu-ray, ‘PG’ for some thematic material and smoking.
Freda Kelly was a teenager plucked from a typing pool  to become an indispensable aide and even friend to the Beatles — a union extending a little beyond the time when the Liverpool lads finally broke up. For all this, Kelly has remained unassuming and unpretentious for 50 years — finally, just this once, agreeing to tell her story for benefit of any grandchildren who may come to think she was just some old woman who had never accomplished much in life. She doesn’t tell all she knows here — in fact, she won’t even say if she ever dated any of her employers — but this is quite a story just the same. Basically a talking heads documentary augmented by good music and some largely unseen Beatles photos that will likely short-circuit the brains of fans, Freda shows how watchable a purely functional narrative can be if the material is there.
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17 Dec, 2013

'Elysium' Draws Retail Focus, Among Others

Target's 'Elysium' Steelbook
Target's 'Elysium' Steelbook

Dec. 17 turned out to be one of the biggest weeks of the year in terms of new releases, which isn’t much of a surprise given it’s just a week before Christmas.

Among the slew of new titles, the ones getting the most attention in terms of retail exclusives were the two big ones from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment: Elysium and One Direction: This Is Us.

At Best Buy, the Elysium Blu-ray came with an exclusive bonus disc containing additional behind-the-scenes footage. Target offered Elysium in exclusive Blu-ray steelbook packaging. And Walmart had the sci-fi title paired with the Blu-ray of director Neill Blomkamp’s previous film, District 9.

For This Is Us, Target offered the Blu-ray combo pack of the film with collector’s cards.

Another title garnering significant attention was Fox’s Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters. Best Buy offered a $7 discount toward a Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters e-book with the purchase of specially marked 3D or Blu-ray copies of the film. Walmart had two-packs of the film’s DVD with the first film in the franchise, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.

For Disney’s The Lone Ranger, Best Buy offered exclusive Blu-ray packaging and a soundtrack download with a bonus track.


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10 Dec, 2013

'Despicable' Promotions

Target's 'Despicable Me 2' Digibook
Target's 'Despicable Me 2' Digibook

The biggest title released Dec. 10, Universal’s Despicable Me 2, dominated retail attention almost to the exclusion of all the other new releases. Universal’s Fast & Furious 6 did get a fair share of promotional focus, but it was minor compared to the animated hit.

Best Buy offered a free Minion lunchbox with the purchase of any version of DM2, while offering FF6 with an exclusive steelbook cover (an alternative to the widely available steelbook Blu-ray). Best Buy’s edition came with $5 CinemaNow credit toward any other “Fast & Furious” film. Shoppers could get all six films with steelbook covers for $69.99.

Target offered DM2 with two exclusive Blu-ray editions. One came with a bonus disc and digibook packaging with an Anti-Villain League book, while the other just had the bonus disc, which includes 40 minutes of fun, including featurettes and cast interviews. Target’s FF6 steelbook came with the film’s soundtrack.

Walmart offered a DM2 gift set with minion toys, and a FF6 steelbook with extras that could be watched via its Vudu streaming service.

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