Merchandising: Best Buy Offers ‘New Mutants’ Steelbook

Among the new disc releases Nov. 17, the most notable retail exclusive was Best Buy’s 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbook of Disney’s The New Mutants.

Best Buy offered the metal-encased edition for $34.99.

Disney’s long-running issues with Amazon seem to still be in effect, however, as the online retailer did not have New Mutant discs available in any capacity, even through third-party sellers. Amazon also still isn’t selling last week’s release of the live-action Mulan, which is offered only through third-party sellers.

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Target offered 15% off select recent Lionsgate releases through its Target Circle app add-on. Titles included Henchmen, Guest House, Hard Kill, Antebellum and Schitt’s Creek: The Complete Series.

Merchandising: Amazon, Best Buy Offer ‘V for Vendetta’ Exclusives

The Nov. 3 release of Warner’s V for Vendetta 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc inspired a couple of retailer exclusives for the week.

While Best Buy offered its usual Steelbook edition, at $29.99, another exclusive came from Amazon, which packed the 2006 political thriller with collectible jail-cell packaging, a 32-page behind-the-scenes booklet and a letter from the director. Amazon’s version was listed at $49.99.

Best Buy’s ‘V for Vendetta’ 4K Steelbook

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Meanwhile, as the number of notable new releases seems to shrink each week, Best Buy’s list of Steelbook exclusives only seems to grow.

In addition to V for Vendetta, Best Buy also had a deluxe Steelbook set of Warner’s new Game of Thrones: The Complete Collection 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray set, at $239.99.

Best Buy’s ‘Game of Thrones’ 4K Steelbook collection

Other Steelbook editions of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog titles for the week included Lionsgate’s Kick-Ass ($19.99), and Paramount’s $27.99 editions of Forrest Gump, Grease and Bumblebee.

Best Buy’s ‘Forrest Gump’ 4K Steelbook

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Also interesting at Best Buy: Many of the chain’s locations have been clearing out their DVD and Blu-ray inventory from the sales floor. A store in Costa Mesa, Calif., had just one long shelf stocked with product, plus a few standalone displays throughout the store, while the empty shelves that once contained movie and TV discs had been rearranged in the middle of the store and roped off.

Empty DVD and Blu-ray shelves at Best Buy in Costa Mesa, Calif., Nov. 3

Entertainment Media Helps Amazon Up Q3 Online Sales 38%

Amazon Oct. 29 said online sales in the third quarter, ended Sept. 30, increased 38% to a record $48. 35 billion, compared with $35 billion in the previous-year period. Online sales include myriad products, but the Seattle-based e-commerce behemoth points out that revenue includes media products available in both a physical (DVD and 4K UHD and Blu-ray Disc) and digital format, such as books, music, videos, games, and software. These product sales include digital products sold on a transactional basis.

Meanwhile, Amazon reiterated its studio’s commitment toward the Amazon original movies slate with additions such as Sacha Baron Cohen’s political satire Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, which recently launched globally on Prime Video, as well as Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse, starring Michael B. Jordan, slated to launch in 2021.

Amazon premiered several new and returning Amazon Original series, including “The Boys,” “Breathe Into the Shadows,” “Bandish Bandits,” “Mirzapur” and “Putham Pudhu Kaalai” in India, “Peep Time” and “Documental S8” in Japan; “Pan y Circo” in Mexico; and “All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur” in the U.K.

Amazon Prime Video also announced that live international rugby games will be exclusively available to U.K. Prime customers this winter with a brand new tournament called the Autumn Nations Cup. The tournament will feature England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland, and Wales, as well as two guest teams from Fiji and Georgia.

Amazon announced that more than 100 million Fire TV devices have been sold globally, and Fire TV customers are streaming billions of hours each month. The new Fire TV devices claim to be 50% more powerful than the previous Fire Stick model, while using 50% less power. Amazon also introduced a redesigned Fire TV experience that provides new content-discovery features, enhanced Alexa voice integration, and user profiles for personalized recommendations.

Finally, Amazon Studios and Howard University announced they would partner for a second year of the Howard Entertainment Program, which aims to further diversify the entertainment industry by creating a pipeline of underrepresented talent, including black students, through internships and other educational opportunities.

Amazon Doc ‘All In: The Fight for Democracy’ Available Free Again Oct. 29-Nov. 1 on YouTube

Amazon will again stream the Amazon Original movie All in: The Fight for Democracy featuring Stacey Abrams to audiences free.

The free screening will be available on the Prime Video YouTube page.

The documentary was also free for 24 hours on Voter Registration day Sept. 22 outside of the Prime Video paywall.

In anticipation of the 2020 presidential election, All In: The Fight for Democracy examines the often overlooked, yet insidious issue of voter suppression in the United States. The film interweaves personal experiences with current activism and historical insight to expose a problem that has corrupted our democracy from the very beginning. With the perspective and expertise of Abrams, the former minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives, the documentary offers an insider’s look into laws and barriers to voting that most people don’t even know are threats to their basic rights as citizens of the United States.

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All In: The Fight for Democracy is directed by Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning filmmaker Liz Garbus and Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning filmmaker Lisa Cortés, and produced by Garbus, Cortés, Academy Award-winning producer Dan Cogan and Abrams. Amazon Studios acquired worldwide rights to All In: The Fight for Democracy from production company Story Syndicate.

Amazon Doc ‘All In: The Fight for Democracy’ Available Free Sept. 22

In support of National Voter Registration Day Sept. 22, Prime Video will stream the Amazon Original movie All In: The Fight for Democracy featuring Stacey Abrams to audiences globally, without needing a Prime membership.

The voting rights documentary will be in front of the Prime Video paywall for 24 hours. The film will also be available on Twitch and Twitter.

Also on Sept. 22 Twitter and Twitch will host watch parties. The Twitter watch party will be hosted by Stacey Abrams and Lin-Manuel Miranda starting at 4 p.m. PT at , and the Twitch livestream will be hosted by social influencer Neeko at 11 a.m. PT.

All In: The Fight for Democracy will stream at no cost for 24 hours on Prime Video.

In anticipation of the 2020 presidential election, All In: The Fight for Democracy examines the often overlooked, yet insidious issue of voter suppression in the United States. The film interweaves personal experiences with current activism and historical insight to expose a problem that has corrupted our democracy from the very beginning. With the perspective and expertise of Abrams, the former minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives, the documentary offers an insider’s look into laws and barriers to voting that most people don’t even know are threats to their basic rights as citizens of the United States.

“Voting is fundamental for our country and democracy, and should be accessible and available to Americans everywhere,” Abrams said in a statement. “All In: The Fight for Democracy will be accessible on multiple platforms in support of voter awareness and registration for all Americans.”

As previously announced, the filmmakers with support from foundations, private funders and Amazon Studios launched #AllInForVoting, a non-partisan social impact campaign aimed at educating and registering first-time voters, mobilizing communities to turn out to vote and training citizens to know their rights and report voter suppression. As part of the impact campaign, the 50 State Ambassador initiative brought together a team of influential actors, artists, musicians, athletes and newsmakers to use their platforms to educate voters and mobilize participation in the upcoming national and regional elections. The Ambassadors include Taraji P. Henson, Connie Britton, Tyler Blackburn, Zooey Deschanel, Don Cheadle, Gabrielle Union, Seth MacFarlane, Padma Lakshmi, Melissa Ethridge, Zach LaVine, Viola Davis and Janelle Monáe.

The impact campaign is in partnership with Stacey Abrams’ Fair Fight Action and other leading civic engagement organizations including: Advancement Project, Alliance for Youth Action, ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge, All Voting Is Local, Black Voters Matter, BLOC, Campus Voter Project, Community Change, Election Protection, Equality NC, Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, GenEquality, HeadCount, Higher Heights for America, Indivisible, Jewish Women International, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, League of Women Voters and National Organization for Women (NOW), LUCHA, Movement Voter Project, National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC), New Virginia Majority, People for the American Way, Rock the Vote, Spread the Vote, Southern Poverty Law Center, Voto Latino Foundation and When We All Vote. Users are encouraged to join the movement by posting with “#AllInForVoting.” More information on activations and programming can be found at AllInForVoting.com.

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All In: The Fight for Democracy is directed by Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning filmmaker Liz Garbus and Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning filmmaker Lisa Cortés, and produced by Garbus, Cortés, Academy Award-winning producer Dan Cogan and Abrams. Amazon Studios acquired worldwide rights to All In: The Fight for Democracy from production company Story Syndicate.

PBS Masterpiece Launches on Amazon Prime Video Channels for Canada

PBS Distribution Sept. 15 launched its streaming channel PBS Masterpiece on Amazon Prime Video Channels for Canada.

“We have seen tremendous consumer demand and subscription growth since we launched PBS Masterpiece on Amazon Prime Video Channels in the United States in May of 2017,” Andrea Downing, co-president of PBS Distribution, said in a statement. “This expansion allows our committed and loyal Masterpiece fan base in Canada to enjoy these high-quality, award winning programs whenever they like.”

The channel launches with popular Masterpiece programs such as “Sanditon,” “Endeavour,” “Home Fires,” “Inspector Lewis,” “Poldark” and “Victoria.”

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In addition to Masterpiece programming, the channel will also offer titles from the Walter Presents library of series from countries all over the world, subtitled in English, marking the debut of Walter Presents programs to Canadian audiences. Titles include the highest-rated drama in Denmark, “Seaside Hotel,” and crime thriller/mysteries “Professor T,” “Though Shall Not Kill” and “Before we Die,” among many others.

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“I am genuinely thrilled to be launching Walter Presents in Canada, with its rich, bi-lingual culture and its history of active engagement with the world as well as its long-standing appreciation of world drama,” said Walter Iuzzolino, co-founder and curator of Walter Presents, in a statement. “I know Canadian audiences will embrace our collection of quality, award-winning series with a sense of curiosity and with real gusto.”

The subscription rate for PBS Masterpiece in Canada will be CDN $6.99 per month plus applicable taxes with an Amazon Prime membership.

Merchandising: Steelbooks Galore After Labor Day

Several Steelbook editions of new and catalog titles hit shelves Sept. 8, and not just at Best Buy, which is best known for offering the exclusive packaging variant.

Best Buy offered the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbook of Lionsgate’s Ghost in the Shell at $19.99 to mark the 25th Anniversary of the anime movie.

A few titles from Universal Pictures also made their way to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray at Best Buy via the Steelbook, at $22.99 apiece: 47 Ronin, 2020’s The Invisible Man, and the 60h anniversary re-release of Psycho.

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Best Buy also offered an exclusive edition of Warner’s animated Superman: Man of Tomorrow, but it wasn’t a Steelbook. Best Buy offered a $29.99 gift set of the film that paired the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack with a figurine of the Parasite character.

Best Buy’s ‘Superman: Man of Tomorrow’ with Parasite figurine

To get Man of Tomorrow in Steelbook packaging, fans had to head to Target, which offered the Blu-ray/DVD combo pack of the movie in the collector’s packaging for $19.99 (though the box art was the same as the standard release).

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Another Steelbook offered through Target was Lionsgate’s Rob Zombie Trilogy Blu-ray set at $29.99, containing House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil’s Rejects and 3 From Hell.

Target’s ‘Rob Zombie Trilogy’ Steelbook

Target also offered an exclusive Jojo Siwa Party Pack at $19.99, a three-DVD bundle of Nickelodeon’s “Jojo Siwa” programs

Target’s ‘Jojo Siwa’ bundle

Speaking of Nickelodeon, Amazon had the Paw Patrol: Jet to the Rescue DVD Sept. 3, before other stores stocked in Sept. 8.

A Drive-in Premiere for ‘The Boys’

Amazon Prime Video Sept. 3 hosted a drive-in screening of “The Boys” season two ahead of its Sept. 4 premiere. Stars Antony Starr, Jack Quaid, Erin Moriarty, Karen Fukuhara, Shantel VanSanten, Claudia Doumit, Langston Kerman and Abraham Lim arrived at Level 8 at The Grove in Los Angeles to celebrate the new season. Guests arrived in their cars through Lucy the Whale, who makes a special appearance in the third episode of season two. Ahead of the drive-in special screening, guests were invited to a socially distant pre-party in their cars, where they had their pictures taken at the drive-through photo op activation, danced in their cars to the music of DJ Michelle Pesce, and enjoyed Umami Burgers, Popcorn and Swedish Fish. Before the two-episode screening, fans enjoyed a pre-taped introduction from the cast and executive producers Eric Kripke, Seth Rogen and Evan Greenberg. A special encore drive-in screening for cast and fans is also being held Sept. 4 and is at full capacity.

The first three episodes of season two premiere Sept. 4, with new episodes available each Friday following, culminating in a season finale Oct. 9. The eight-episode Amazon Original series will be available exclusively on Prime Video in more than 200 territories around the world.

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Based on the New York Times best-selling comic by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, “The Boys” is an irreverent take on what happens when superheroes — who are as popular as celebrities, as influential as politicians and as revered as gods — abuse their superpowers rather than use them for good. The Boys continue on a quest to expose the truth about The Seven, and Vought — the multi-billion-dollar conglomerate that manages these superheroes and covers up all of their dirty secrets.

Merchandising: Gift Sets for ‘Goonies,’ ‘Beetlejuice’

Among the Sept. 1 new releases on DVD and Blu-ray, a couple of retailers offered exclusive editions of Warner’s new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray re-releases of 1985’s The Goonies and 1988’s Beetlejuice.

Amazon offered deluxe gift sets for each title at $49.99 apiece.

The Goonies collector’s set comes in treasure chest packaging and includes 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, regular Blu-ray and digital copies of the film; a replica of One Eyed Willy’s treasure map featured in the film​; five collectible pin-on buttons​; and an iron-on embroidered patch​.

The Beetlejuice collector’s set comes in a gift box made to look like The Handbook for the Recently Deceased, and includes 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, regular Blu-ray and digital copies of the film; a 4-inch embroidered glow-in-the-dark patch of Beetlejuice’s gravestone​; an insert of instructions for life after death emergencies with three pieces of collectible chalk;​ a replica of the “Betelgeuse” flyer featured in the film​; and a gift box.

Amazon’s ‘Beetlejuice’ 4K gift set

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Best Buy continued to promote its exclusive Steelbook editions of titles, including new 4K Steelbook combo packs for The Goonies and Beetlejuice at $29.99 apiece.

Best Buy’s ‘The Goonies’ 4K Steelbook
Best Buy’s ‘Beetlejuice’ 4K Steelbook

Target didn’t feature any DVD or Blu-ray listings in its online weekly ad, but it did have a video game promotion, offering a free “Bitty Boomer” Bluetooth speaker (valued at $17.99) with the purchase of Marvel’s Avengers on PS4 or Xbox One Sept. 4 at $59.99.

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Comcast Eyes Leasing X1 Software to TV Manufacturers

Comcast is reportedly considering licensing its X1 set-top box software to third-party consumer electronics manufacturers of smart televisions. Such a move would put Comcast in competition with Roku, Google and Amazon, among other tech companies affording TV manufacturers with Internet-connected consoles.

First reported by Protocol.com, citing sources familiar with the situation, Comcast engaged in initial discussions with TV manufacturers in January at the pre-COVID-19 CES confab in Las Vegas. The cable operator, which is slowly coming to grips with a changing pay-TV market — underscored by the departure of more than 815,000 subscribers through June 30 — currently licenses X1 technology for third-party set-tops to Cox Communications and soon Charter (Spectrum TV Plus).

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Roku cut its teeth licensing its operating system through set-top devices manufactured for the former 21st Century Fox’s NOW TV. Comcast now owns NOW TV through its acquisition of Sky from Fox. Samsung, one of the world’s largest TV manufacturers, has begun licensing its Tizen OS smart TV technology to third parties.

Comcast’s move into software licensing could be accelerating after attempts to sell NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service through the Roku platform fell through. Similarly to WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, Peacock is also not available on Amazon Fire TV.

Launched in 2012 as Comcast’s antidote to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu, cloud-based X1 platform now represents about 60% of the cabler’s pay-TV subscriber base. Since then X1 offers subs access to Netflix and YouTube apps. Comcast also launched broadband-only Xfinity Flex online TV platform.