Merchandising: Stores Deliver ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ Exclusives

After weeks of touting preorders for Disney’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, retailers finally had the discs available for consumers March 31 despite the ongoing coronavirus lockdown.

Among the big three retailers, Target and Walmart stores remain open, with adjusted hours, since they offer groceries and other essential household goods.

Best Buy stores are closed for walk-ins but are offering shipping for online orders, as well as curbside pickups for local shoppers.

Target’s $34.99 Rise of Skywalker 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack comes with a gallery booklet and an exclusive bonus DVD with the featurette “A Final Alliance,” a chronicle of the various starships used in the film.

Target’s ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

Walmart offered the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack as a limited edition with fold-out artwork packaging for $34.96.

Walmart’s ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

Best Buy has its customary $34.99 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbook treatment for Rise of Skywalker.

Best Buy’s ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ Steelbook

In addition, Best Buy has the exclusive U.S. distribution of the $249.99 nine-movie, 27-disc “Skywalker Saga” boxed set that includes a 4K disc, a Blu-ray disc and a bonus disc for each of the episodic films. Rogue One and Solo are available on 4K separately.

Best Buy’s exclusive ‘Star Wars’ The Skywalker Saga’ boxed set

Speaking of 4K, Disney also released all the films not yet available on 4K as three-disc standalone combo packs (ie episodes one through seven and Rogue One are new on 4K, while Last Jedi and Solo remain available on 4K from their earlier combo pack releases, though Disney seems set to re-release them with new packaging once existing inventory thins out). The retailers had them for $29.99 each.

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The online Disney Movie Club was offering various membership discounts such as 50% off all items in the order plus free shipping with the purchase of one at the full price ($34.99), which lowers the average to under $20 when all eight 4K combo packs are purchased together. DMC VIP members (those who fulfilled the membership requirement of buying five full-price discs previously) qualify for a 60% discount, pushing the average price to under $17.

Among other promotions, Target was offering a buy-two-get-one-free mix-and-match sale on video games.

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Stuck at Home: What are You Watching?

For the past two weeks, the vast majority of us have been stuck at home. Schools are closed, offices are closed, businesses are closed — and even those of us who are still working are finding more leisure time, with our movie theaters, gyms and favorite restaurants shuttered, and no cross-town meetings or appointments.

Screen time, not surprisingly, is up — way up. And here at Media Play News, we thought we’d start a conversation on what everyone is watching in the hopes that as people run out of ideas they can peruse the “comments” section down below for some suggestions.

Specifically, we’d like to know:

  1. What new movies are you watching on DVD, Blu-ray Disc or digital?
  2. What about classic movies?
  3. TV shows?
  4. Other programs?
  5. What about streaming? What original series or movies are you watching on Netflix? On Amazon Prime? On Disney+? On Apple TV+?
  6. Any little-known streaming services you are utilizing?

Let us know, by commenting on this story.

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And to get the conversation started, here’s what the Media Play News team is watching:

Editor in chief Stephanie Prange and her husband, Michael, and daughters Sydney (22) and Mia (17), have collectively or individually watched a wide range of programs, including “Tiger King” on Netflix, “The Act” on Hulu, “Hunters” on Amazon Prime and Captain America: Winter Soldier on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc. Mia has also enjoyed Frozen, Frozen II and Hercules on Disney+.

John Latchem, our executive editor, hasn’t changed his viewing regimen much: He’s still watching and reviewing new releases, mostly on Blu-ray Disc. Aside from that, he says he’s watching “Curb Your Enthusiasm” on HBO Go and “Ozark” on Netflix (season 3 just dropped and I’m eager to tune in as well).

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John Boezinger, our sales chief, has watched digital 4K versions of No Mercy and Queen & Slim.  He’s also watched multiple episodes of “Dirty Money” on Netflix.

And from Erik Gruenwedel, our East Coast-based senior editor: “Facing self-isolation and ignoring for a moment the guilt and myriad legalities, I’ve always wondered if it’s possible to commit the perfect murder. So I’m watching endless episodes of ‘Forensic Files II’ on HLN for clues. With today’s forensic technology, the answer would appear to be no. What a relief. I’ve also been watching catalog episodes of ‘Shark Tank’ on ABC. A woman got $120,000 from one of the sharks for her wedding undergarment creation that makes it easy for a bride to go to the bathroom in her gown. Very clever. Finally, from MHz Networks Home Entertainment, I’ve been watching the second season of the Swedish crime series ‘Detective Inspector Irene Huss’ on DVD with English subtitles — which keeps me awake.”

As for me, I’ve watched a few more historical dramas on Blu-ray Disc — Nixon, JFK, Parkland — as well as Parasite and Richard Jewell. For the past week, my two younger sons and I have also enjoyed a horror marathon in which we consumed all six “Wrong Turn” movies (yes, I love that stuff) while my wife has been sequestered upstairs watching “Outlander” on Starz and “Tiger King” on Netflix.

‘Birds of Prey’ on Disc May 12

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD May 12.

Margot Robbie reprises her role from Suicide Squad as Harley Quinn, the Joker’s former girlfriend who sets off on her own and finds the entire criminal underground of Gotham City is out to get her. She ends up protecting a girl named Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco) from the gangster Black Mask (Ewan McGregor). The cast also includes Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Huntress, Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Black Canary, Rosie Perez as Renee Montoya, and Chris Messina as Victor Zsasz.

The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc of Birds of Prey will feature Dolby Vision HDR and HDR10+. The 4K and Blu-ray discs will also include a Dolby Atmos soundtrack.

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Bonus materials include a “Birds Eye View Mode” with pop-up facts and video while the movie plays, a gag reel, and the featurettes “Birds of Prey: Birds of a Feather,” “Grime and Crime,” “Wild Nerds,” “Romanesque,” “Sanity is Sooo Last Season” and “A Love/Skate Relationship.”

The film was released early through digital retailers March 24.

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CEO: AMC Theatres Hoping for Mid-June Re-Opening

AMC Theatres, the world’s largest exhibitor with 1,000 theaters and 11,000 screens, hopes to re-open domestic screens by mid-June, CEO Adam Aron told CNBC.

Speaking March 31, Aron said the industry remained on “uncharted times in our lifetimes,” while admitting to wishful thinking as the chain has seen revenue plummet to zero as local and state governments banned group gatherings of 10 or more people.

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“The summer has always been one of the biggest movie seasons of the year … and Christmas,” Aron said. “I would love to think that America will be enjoying summer movie season again. But nobody knows.”

Aron said America needs to get on the “other side of this virus” as a country. “So many businesses have been temporarily shuttered. People want to get out of the house and get back to normal. But that’s not going to happen in the next few days or the next few weeks.”

China had initiated limited theatrical openings only to reverse the decision the next day when new cases of coronavirus popped up. Beijing’s Film Bureau ordered the 600 re-opened Shanghai theaters shuttered on March 27.

Aron said China’s reopening just 60 days after the virus broke out seemed “a little too tight,” when compared with AMC’s decision to shutter all screens on March 17 for six to 12 weeks.

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The CEO said he saluted Congress for passing the $2.2 trillion relief bill, which he said would provide relief for AMC employees and “our communities.”

Aron believes the entertainment industry will bounce back quickly because “people want to be entertained.”

“The country is going to come back,” he said. “America will be normal again. We’re just going through an interruption. How quickly nobody knows. We’re all going to learn together.”


Trans World Entertainment CEO, Board Out as Company Switches Focus to E-commerce

Trans World Entertainment Corp. March 31 announced the departure of CEO Mike Feurer and four other board members as the former parent to home entertainment retail chain f.y.e. (For Your Entertainment) switches focus to e-commerce facilitator Feurer had been CEO and a director of the board since 2014.

Departing board members include chairman Michael Solow, Jeff Hastings (former head of DVD sales at Paramount), Rob Marks and Michael Nahl.

“Mike’s leadership was instrumental in the brand transformation and recent sale of our f.y.e. business and the financing of etailz,” Solow said in a statement. “In fact, it was Mike’s foresight regarding digital marketplace retailing that prompted the [TWEC] to reinvent itself with the purchase of etailz several years ago. The board thanks Mike for his contributions to the company and wish him the best in the future.”

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Mike Feurer

New York-based TWEC sold f.y.e. in January for $10 million, which included Second Spin used packaged-media stores. It acquired Spokane, Wash.-based in 2016 for $75 million.

The latter bills itself as an online marketplace retail expert and software provider using proprietary data to help third-party digital marketplace retailing through Amazon, Jet, and eBay.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter! has struggled since the acquisition. In the most-recent fiscal period, etailz lost $1.3 million on revenue of $28.6 million, which was down 35% from revenue of $44.2 million during the previous-year period. Through three fiscal quarters, revenue is down almost 30% at $98 million from $138 million. Operating loss has narrowed to $3.6 million from $9.8 million.

Regardless, TWEC secured an additional $30 million in financing for etailz from investors led by Alimco Financial Corp, together with the previously announced credit facility.

In connection with the financing, Tom Simpson and Jonathan Marcus join a reconstituted board. Simpson was co-founder and executive chairman of etailz up until TWEC’s acquisition in 2016, and currently serves as managing member of the Kick-Start funds.

Marcus is the CEO of Alimco and has over 30 years of experience as an investor, including numerous board roles. The financing will help etailz further develop its software and services offerings, supporting inventory expansion, and expanding into new marketplaces and geographies.

“Combined with our incredible team and partners and the exclusive focus of our board, etailz is well positioned to become the leader in marketplace software and services,” said Kunal Chopra, etailz CEO. Chopra joined etailz in August 2019 following previous experiences at Microsoft, Groupon and Amazon.



FandangoNow Bows Clip, Activity Sheets for ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ Debut; ‘Invisible Man’ Again Top Title

FandangoNow, movie ticketing site Fandango’s transactional VOD service, is offering an 8-minute clip and family activity sheets for the debut of Paramount Home Entertainment’s Sonic the Hedgehog on the service.

Sonic the Hedgehog hit digital early March 31 in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are exclusively debuting the first eight minutes of the movie right here. See where Sonic comes from, and how he wound up on Earth to begin with,” reads the FandangoNow blog.

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The activity sheets include word scrambles, coloring sheets and connect the dots.

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Meanwhile, for the second-consecutive week The Invisible Man (also an early digital release) was the top title for the service.

FandangoNow’s top titles (transactional sales and rentals) for the week ended March 29 were:

  6. 1917
  10. THE HUNT

‘The Warrior Queen of Jhansi’ Due on Digital and DVD May 19 From Lionsgate

The Warrior Queen of Jhansi will arrive on digital and DVD May 19 from Lionsgate.

Based on the true story of Rani of Jhansi, the film follows the Indian queen who was a leading figure and symbol of resistance in the 1857 Indian rebellion against the British Empire. The legendary Rani (translation: queen) of Jhansi was a fearless freedom fighter who became a feminist icon in India. In the rebellion, the 24-year-old general led her people into battle against the British Empire, shifting the balance of power in the region — and setting in motion the demise of the notorious British East India Company and the beginning of the British Raj under Queen Victoria.

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Directed by Swati Bhise (one of the producers of The Man Who Knew Infinity) and co-written by Swati, her daughter Devika Bhise (Mosaic), who also stars as “Rani Lashkmi Bai,” and Olivia Emden (Hero), The Warrior Queen of Jhansi  also stars Nathaniel Parker, Rupert Everett, Ben Lamb, Jodhi May and Derek Jacobi.

Special features include “The Making of The Warrior Queen of Jhansi” featurette, a photo gallery and the theatrical trailer.

Special Offer From ‘Media Play News’ and Sony: 4K Digital Codes to ‘Bad Boys for Life’

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and Media Play News are offering five lucky readers free digital codes to the 4K home release of the action-comedy Bad Boys for Life, with Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, which is being released digitally today, March 31.

The codes will be given to the first five people who 1) like us on Instagram, and 2) go to the Bad Boys for Life post on our Instagram account and in the comments answer the question, “What was Will Smith’s highest-grossing movie?”

You can follow us on Instagram and search for the story post here.

Smith and Lawrence return for the third “Bad Boys” movie with a new case that finds them teaming with a hotshot division of the Miami PD to take down a merciless cartel.

The cast also includes Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Charles Melton, Paola Nuñez, Kate del Castillo, Nicky Jam and Joe Pantoliano.

The film earned $204.4 million at the domestic box office and $419 million globally.

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Special Offer From ‘Media Play News’ and Paramount: Digital Codes to Blockbuster ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’

Paramount Home Entertainment and Media Play News are offering 10 readers free digital codes to the more than $300 million global box office blockbuster Sonic the Hedgehog, which is being released digitally today, March 31.

The codes will be given to the first 10 people who 1) like us on Instagram, and 2) go to the Sonic the Hedgehog post on our Instagram account and in the comments answer the question, “How many tails does Sonic’s best friend have?”

You can follow us on Instagram and see the story post here.

The family film based on the video game character follows the incredibly speedy Sonic the Hedgehog (voiced by Ben Schwartz), aka The Blue Blur, who embraces his new home on Earth. That is, until he accidentally knocks out the power grid and sparks the attention of evil genius Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey). It’s super-villain vs. super-sonic in an all-out race across the globe to stop Robotnik from using his unique power for world domination. Sonic teams up with The Donut Lord, aka Sheriff Tom Wachowski (James Marsden), to save the plane.

AVOD Service Crackle April 9 Bows Original Docu-Series ‘Yelawolf: A Slumerican Life’

AVOD service Crackle April 9 will debut the original docu-series “Yelawolf: A Slumerican Life.”

The 10-part series follows hip-hop artist Yelawolf as he drifts through Southern backwaters and Northern inner cities, unlocking a world the likes of which you’ve never seen before.

Also in April, Crackle hosts the exclusives Wonders of the Sea 3-D, a science documentary narrated by Arnold Schwarzenegger and co-directed by Jean-Michel Cousteau, and Memory: The Origins of Alien, a 2019 documentary tracing the origin of the classic “Alien” franchise through the script from Dan O’Bannon, the work of James Cameron and other filmmakers, the dark arts of H.R. Giger, to the unsettling works of H.P. Lovecraft and even the mythos of ancient Greek legends.

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