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.
'Lego Ninjago' Blu-ray exclusives at (L-R) Target, Walmart and Best Buy
Warner's The Lego Ninjago Movie arrived on disc at retail Dec. 19 with several retailer-exclusive goodies.
Target offered what it called a "double exclusive" for Lego Ninjago, dolling up the Blu-ray combo pack with both lenticular box art and six collectible trading cards.
Walmart offered the Blu-ray with six keychains, while Best Buy offered the Blu-ray with Steelbook packaging.
In a further sign of the decline of in-home 3D, Warner's 3D edition of Lego Ninjago movie wasn't available through the big three retailers, and anyone wanting a copy had to dig through the Internet to find one. It was available on Amazon.com through third-party Marketplace sellers at nearly the full SRP.
Warner's Dunkirk also arrived with a few exclusives. Best Buy had a Blu-ray Steelbook edition and Walmart offered a version of the DVD with no extras.
Interestingly, Amazon wasn't directly selling the DVD version for either Dunkirk or Lego Ninjago, leaving that to the Marketplace sellers.
Among other deals, Target offered 25% off all Sony movies, and had Universal's Despicable Me 3 for as low as $10 on DVD and $15 on Blu-ray.
Best Buy is already pushing preorders of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, including a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray edition and collectible Steelbook packaging.
Amazon emailed users an offer to use $7 in free credit toward the purchase of digital content at the Amazon Video store.
On the eve of the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, our “Hollywood Innovates” special report spotlights the many innovative moves the studios are making as consumer tastes and habits change.
Consumers want to be able to access movies they’ve bought digitally or physically on all of their devices, anywhere they are. Enter Movies Anywhere, the digital locker service launched in October with support from five of the major studios and key digital retailers iTunes, Amazon Video, Google Play and Vudu. Movies Anywhere has gotten off to a great start, and has adapted to consumer feedback about sorting their libraries and other functionality. Recently, I used the service to watch a film on my big screen TV that I didn’t have on disc and the experience was seamless. My daughter at college has used the service as well, to access titles that we have in our home library. If my experience is any example, then Movies Anywhere looks to be the killer app for digital ownership.
Consumers also want to access the latest technology, and studios are responding. They are launching virtual and augmented reality products that expand the very definition of home entertainment. They are also putting technology behind movie extras, linking to the web to expand the experience of a film through Google Maps and other online sources.
With Netflix and Amazon, among other online behemoths, getting into the production business themselves, studios such as Disney are looking to launch their own digital services to compete. As the online services get into the studio business, the studios are getting into the online service market.
The home entertainment business is, and has always been, fluid.
“Business models, the customer base, consumers, technology, storytelling, all of it is changing at the same time and that can be disconcerting — and it can also be exciting,” Jim Wuthrich, president of the Americans and global strategy at Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, recently told me.
Scary and exciting, indeed! That’s always been what the home entertainment business is about, and the industry will continue to innovate its way into the future.
By: Stephanie Prange
Best Buy's 'Kingsman: The Golden Circle' Steelbook artwork
Retailers trotted out several extras for Fox's Kingsman: The Golden Circle and HBO's Game of Thrones: The Complete Seventh Season.
Best Buy offered Steelbook packaging with special artwork for both the Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray versions of Kingsman: The Golden Circle. Best Buy also offered the Steelbook for the first movie, Kingsman: The Secret Service, for $17.99.
Target offered Kingsman: The Golden Circle with a "Statesman whiskey stones" gift set.
Walmart offered the Blu-ray and UHD versions of Kingsman: The Golden Circle with Pocket Pop! keychains.
For the seventh season of "Thrones," Best Buy offered alternate box art as well as two different Steelbook covers.
Target offered the Thrones Blu-ray with a bonus disc containing a 28-minute "The Making of Frozen Lake" featurette.
Walmart's "Game of Thrones" Blu-ray also came with an exclusive bonus disc, this one containing the featurette "Building the Unimaginable: Inside the VFX Department."
Among other titles, Target promoted a deal to get free Minion Mineez figures ($5.99 value) with purchase of Universal's Despicable Me 3 Blu-ray.
Walmart started selling a $34.96 Spider-Man: Homecoming gift box containing a Blu-ray of the Sony Pictures film, a gallery of comic book covers, a pin, a Funko Pop! vinyl figure, and socks adorned with Spidey art.
Walmart 'Despicable Me 3' Blu-ray with backpack
Among numerous retail exclusives for Universal's Despicable Me 3 Dec. 5, Walmart offered a gift pack of the Blu-ray with a minion backpack.
Best Buy offered 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 offered a deluxe-edition Blu-ray of Despicable Me 3 with 20 minutes of exclusive bonus content, character cards and tattoos.
Best Buy offered the Blu-ray of Lionsgate's American Assassin with Steelbook packaging.
Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Comedy, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Sandra Dee, Cliff Robertson, James Darren, Arthur O’Connell.
1959. The retro beach-time confection of Sandra Dee’s career-maker just gets by as a time-killer if you missed your beach time this summer.
Read the Full Review
Kino Lorber, Drama, $19.99 DVD, $29.99 Blu-ray, ‘PG.’
Stars Steve McQueen, Robert Preston, Ida Lupino, Ben Johnson, Joe Don Baker.
1972. A lot of people revere Junior Bonner, which features a lovingly constructed Jeb Rosebrook screenplay that director Sam Peckinpah fleshes out with a couple of show-stopping extended set pieces, but it could have used an ad campaign that sold its maker’s most gentle movie as a family drama and not another of the rodeo sagas that were flooding the market at that time.
Extras: Offering the commentary are definitive Peckinpah experts Nick Redman, Paul Seydor, Garner Simmons and David Weddle, who long ago established themselves as the go-to crew on Sam-related voiceovers, no matter which distributor is behind the home release.
Read the Full Review
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.
Read the Full Review
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.
Read the Full Review
By: Mike Clark
As we get ready to shift gears from 2017 into 2018, we’re keeping one eye on digital sales and the other on Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc sales, both growth industries with lots of potential.
Movies Anywhere — to which I am hopelessly addicted, by the way — could be just what the doctor ordered to finally boost digital sales beyond niche-business status.
Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc, meanwhile, should be an easy sell to the legions of new 4K TV owners. 4K TV sales are soaring, and yet there’s a conspicuous lack of available content, particularly on the ownership side. New data from Futuresource Consulting projects 35% of global TV sales in 2017 will be 4K UHD … [but a] lack of 4K-compatible broadcasts and network programming is limiting 4K content distribution to subscription streaming video services such as Netflix, Apple, Google and Amazon Prime Video.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m still having trouble streaming regular HD. Ultra HD? Forget about it.
Compounding this inability to get UHD content is the fact that digital UHD movie sales can be a challenge, as well, with iTunes, still the biggest online seller of music and movies (with Amazon and Comcast nipping at its heels), apparently riding this one out.
According to the MacRumors website, “Apple has updated its iTunes Store on iOS devices and the Apple TV with plenty of 4K movies ahead of the launch of the Apple TV 4K, but has made clear in a recent support document that 4K content from Apple can be streamed, but not downloaded directly on a device. According to Apple, customers can download a local copy of an HD movie … but 4K movies are not available for download and thus can't be watched without an Internet connection. … That means customers who have had their previously purchased iTunes movies upgraded from HD to 4K at no cost can stream those movies in 4K, but can only download HD versions. Newly purchased content is also restricted from download.”
An Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc player, and a stack of discs, seems the perfect solution to this dilemma.
And yet Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc sales face their own set of challenges. According to the Futuresource report, high dynamic range (HDR), the enhanced visual technology that is one of Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc’s key selling points, “remains largely lost on consumers.”
According to Futuresource, the HDR concept is more difficult to relay to consumers than the more straightforward resolution improvements offered by simple 4K, even as those familiar with the technologies peg HDR as the main advantage that 4K has in elevating image quality above conventional high-definition. Without a universally accepted standard, the industry risks devaluing the HDR brand, as there are many poor representations of HDR that fail to demonstrate its effectiveness by offering little to no discernible improvement in image quality.
So what’s the solution? Promote and market the hell out of Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc! Minimize the technical jargon and adopt something that’s easier and simpler for the average Joe to comprehend. Stop trying to explain HDR and instead play up how much closer Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc brings us to the theatrical experience: “You’ll think you’re at the movies, except there’s no annoying guy two rows back who’s constantly yelling at the screen.”
As consumers move more and more into the digital space, the physical disc will continue to serve as a bridge, which is why the combo pack concept works well — especially if you can give consumers a trilogy of value: an Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc, a regular Blu-ray Disc and a digital code.
But just as importantly, the disc remains the optimum viewing platform, with a far better picture than even the best streamed UHD movie — if your system can even handle it.
All we, as an industry, have to do now is figure out how to get this point across to the consumer.
By: Thomas K. Arnold
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