Merchandising: Getting Ready for ‘Endgame’

With just a few modest new releases hitting the market April 23, retailers focused more on clearing inventory than pushing exclusives.

Best Buy ‘Avengers’ catalog ad.

Best Buy used its weekly ad circular to promote Marvel movies on Blu-ray for fans to watch to prepare for the April 26 theatrical release of Avengers: Endgame. To that end, Best Buy had exclusive Steelbook editions of the newly released 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray editions of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War, at $34.99 each.

Best Buy ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbook
Best Buy ‘Captain America: Civil War’ 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbook

Best Buy is also taking preorders for a Steelbook 4K UHD Blu-ray of Jordan Peele’s Us.

Target didn’t bother to include a movie section in its weekly circular, though it was selling Stephen King movies on DVD for $4.50.

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Merchandising: ‘Glass’ Among Several Retailer Exclusives

Best Buy’s ‘Glass’ Blu-ray with art cards

The big three retailers offered exclusive editions for several of the titles released April 16.

For Universal’s Glass, Target offered a $27.99 Blu-ray combo pack with box art by Alex Ross and Steelbook packaging.

Target’s ‘Glass’ Steelbook

Best Buy, which is typically known for Steelbook exclusives, instead offered the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack of Glass with special slipcover art and three art cards of the main characters from the film.

Walmart’s exclusive was a triple-feature Blu-ray of M. Night Shyamalan’s “Eastrail 177 Trilogy,” grouping Glass with predecessors Unbreakable and Split, for $29.96. Eastrail 177 is the name of the train that derails in the first film, Unbreakable.

Target’s ‘Justice League vs. The Fatal Five’ Steelbook

Target had another Steelbook edition during the week, in the form of Warner’s Justice League vs. The Fatal Five Blu-ray combo pack.

Best Buy ‘Justice League vs The Fatal Five’ Blu-ray with Star Boy figure

Best Buy offered the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray of the animated superhero film with a pack-in Star Boy fiture for $33.99.

A third title to arrive during the week with retail exclusive editions was Funimation’s Dragon Ball Super: Broly — The Movie. Best Buy had a Steelbook edition of the Blu-ray for $27.99, while Walmart had lenticular box art for $19.96.

Best Buy’s ‘Dragon Ball Super: Broly’ Steelbook

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Best Buy Ups Corie Barry to CEO, Hubert Joly to Executive Chairman

Best Buy April 15 announced that its board of directors has elected Corie Barry, currently the company’s CFO, to become CEO, effective following the company’s annual meeting of shareholders on June 11.

At that time, current CEO Hubert Joly will transition to the newly created role of executive chairman of the board.

Barry – Best Buy’s first female top executive – will also join the board of directors, which will expand to 13 directors.

Separately, COO Mike Mohan was promoted to president and COO, while Best Buy searches for a new CFO.

Corie Barry

Since joining Best Buy in 2012, Joly has led the company through a successful transformation in the ecommerce era, including improved customer satisfaction, market share gains, comparable sales growth and improved margins, while achieving $1.4 billion in cost reductions.

In fiscal year 2019, Best Buy essentially delivered on its fiscal 2021 revenue and operating income targets two years ahead of schedule and returned $2 billion to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases.

As executive chairman, Joly will continue to lead the board while advising and supporting the CEO on key matters, such as strategy, capability building, M&A and external relationships.

In addition, he is expected to assume certain responsibilities at the request of the CEO, in areas like government affairs, community relations and leadership development.

Hubert Joly

“We have a tremendously talented, deep and dedicated leadership team at Best Buy,” Joly said in a statement. “Corie has played a critical role in developing and executing the proven growth strategy in place today, and I am confident she has the vision, skills, experience and leadership capabilities necessary to be our CEO.”

Barry joined Best Buy in 1999 and has held a variety of financial and operational roles within the organization, both in the field and at the corporate campus. She became CFO in 2016 and, prior to that, served as the company’s chief strategic growth officer.

Barry has also served as SVP of domestic finance and as the interim leader of Best Buy’s services organization.

“I am deeply honored to have been selected as Best Buy’s next CEO and look forward to working closely with Hubert, our board, and the exceptional Best Buy family to continue the momentum we have been able to achieve,” said Barry. “Today’s technology and consumer landscape creates tremendous opportunities for Best Buy to further expand and deepen relationships with our customers and employees, while continuing to deliver shareholder value.”

Prior to Best Buy, Barry worked at Deloitte & Touche. She holds bachelor’s degrees in accounting and management from the College of Saint Benedict, where she also serves on the board of trustees. Additionally, she serves on the board of directors for Domino’s Pizza.

Mohan’s responsibilities include oversight of all customer channels for Best Buy’s domestic business including retail, e-commerce and customer experience, services, home, and Best Buy Business. In addition, he leads category management, merchandising, marketing, supply chain, and real estate for Best Buy’s core U.S. business.

He joined the retailer in 2004 as VP of the digital imaging business group and has assumed additional responsibilities throughout his career across nearly all of Best Buy’s product and business categories. He has overseen the launch of thousands of store-within-a-store locations in partnership with leading technology vendors, the expansion of Best Buy’s own Magnolia and Pacific Kitchen & Home brands, the evolution of the company’s private-label brands, and the rise of emerging categories, such as 4K UHD TVs, health and fitness devices, and connected home products.

Before joining Best Buy, Mohan was VP and general merchandise manager for Good Guys, an audio-video specialty retailer that operated 79 stores in the western United States.

Mike Mohan

“Hubert has done a tremendous job leading Best Buy’s turnaround, assembling a deep team of talented leaders and instilling a clear strategy for future growth and lasting success,” said Russell Fradin, the board’s lead independent director. “As a board, it is important to build on this strong foundation by implementing a thoughtful succession planning process. We are confident that Corie and Mike are perfectly suited to continue working with Hubert and the rest of the management team to build on our success and drive Best Buy into the next phase of its transformation.”

 

 

Merchandising: Ferrell and Reilly Pairing Is Elementary for Walmart

In a week highlighted by a modest slate of new releases, retailers didn’t put out much in the way of exclusives April 9.

The most notable was Walmart’s tie into Sony Pictures’ new Holmes & Watson and its stars Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly. Walmart offered a $22.96 DVD collection of three movies that teamed Ferrell and Reilly: Holmes & Watson, Step Brothers and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.

Otherwise, retailers focused on promoting sales of catalog titles.

Target touted previous seasons of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” in the lead-up to the debut of the final season. In addition to DVDs and Blu-rays of the show for as low as $14.99, many Targets have devoted significant space in the collectibles section of the electronics department to “Game of Thrones” merchandise, including new action figures, puzzles, games, plush dire wolves and more.

Best Buy touted previously released Steelbook editions and preorders for upcoming titles such as DreamWorks’ How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.

Best Buy has an exclusive 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray of Warner’s Pandas documentary, due April 16 at $29.99. The film was released widely through digital retailers on April 9.

Early Home Video Access for the 1% Crowd — Without the Industry Angst

Flush with cash from Trump’s tax cut, the ultra-wealthy can now access new-release theatrical releases in the home — for $1,500 to $3,000 a title.

Upstart Red Carpet Films has entered the controversial premium video-on-demand market offering consumers willing to pay almost anything to rent (for 36 hours) Shazam! or Godzilla: King of the Monsters day-and-date with their theatrical debut.

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Studios such as Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate, Disney’s 20thCentury Fox and Fox Searchlight, among others, are on board the concept that requires consumers submit to a background check and purchase a $15,000 set-top box rigged with anti-piracy controls.

Disney (a big proponent of the 90-day theatrical window), Sony Pictures and Universal Pictures are not on board. Exhibitors apparently remain unconcerned about the targeted demo.

Fred Rosen

The brainchild of Fred Rosen, founder of Ticketmaster and Dan Fellman, who retired from Warner Bros. in 2015 after a 40-year career in distribution, Red Carpet Films claims it can deliver studios about $300 million in incremental revenue from as few as 4,000 wealthy customers.

Investment firm Charles Schwab considers anyone in possession of at least $2.4 million in net value wealthy. Nationwide, households earning at least $390,000 annually are considered to be in the 1% of earners. That requisite figure increases significantly in 12 states, including Connecticut, California, New York, and Texas.

“Every product I can think of has a luxury version, which got me thinking … why not movies?” Rosen told The New York Times.

It’s not an original business model. Best Buy in 2013 toyed with a business (CinemaNow) that charged consumers $500 for early home video access, in addition to related equipment charges.

Recently, Screening Room (from Napster founder Sean Parker) promised early in-home access (priced from $30) despite exhibitor pushback. Universal, in 2011, tried offering actioner Tower Heist early in the home – a strategy that was quickly shelved when exhibitors refused to carry the movie.

Of course, Netflix has long pushed in-home access to its original movies concurrent with any theatrical screenings.

While Lionsgate chairman Michael Burns promised studios would embrace premium VOD last year – a movement pushed as well by former Warner Bros. chairman Kevin Tsujihara – the concept now appears DOA.

Dan Fellman

Fellman says Red Carpet has worked with studios instead of placing demands.

“They appreciated that,” he said. “What doesn’t work in Hollywood is going in and wagging a finger and saying, ‘This is how it’s going to be.’”

Merchandising: ‘Bumblebee’ Exclusives Centered on Retailers

While Paramount’s Bumblebee was the biggest new release of April 2, it didn’t arrive with much in the way of exclusive editions. Rather, two of the big three retailers touted the title with promotions for their own services.

Target, for example, offered a free $5 store gift card with the purchase of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack of Bumblebee, priced at $29.99.

Walmart offered the Blu-ray and Ultra HD Blu-ray combo packs with a digital copy of the original 2007 Transformers film redeemable through Walmart’s proprietary Vudu digital storefront.

Best Buy, typically for them, offered a Steelbook edition of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, at $32.99.

Best Buy ‘Bumblebee’ Steelbook

Merchandising: Retailers Swimming in ‘Aquaman’ Exclusives

Target ‘Aquaman’ gallery book Blu-ray

Consumers looking to pick up Warner’s Aquaman on Blu-ray and DVD March 26 had a number of exclusives available to them from the big three retailers.

Target had editions of the Blu-ray combo pack ($32.99) and the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray ($36.99) with gallery book packaging and lenticular box art that switched between images of Aquaman and villain Black Manta.

Walmart ‘Aquaman’ Blu-ray gift set

Walmart had two exclusives for the title. First, it had a Blu-ray combo gift set with a pack-on Arthur Curry Funko Pocket Pop! keychain for $29.96.

Walmart ‘Aquaman’ single-DVD edition

Also, with the wide-release DVD of Aquaman being a two-disc special edition, Walmart offered a single-disc DVD edition for $16.96 with exclusive box art but without most of the bonus materials. The disc contained just a single featurette, “James Wan: World Builder.”

Interestingly, Walmart’s website offered both the one-disc and two-disc DVD options at the same $17.96 price.

Best Buy ‘Aquaman’ UHD Blu-ray Steelbook

Best Buy offered Steelbook editions for both the Blu-ray at $29.99 and the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray at $34.99.

Among other exclusives, Best Buy had a $25.99 Steelbook for Paramount’s 30th anniversary Pet Sematary 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.

Best Buy ‘Pet Sematary’ UHD Blu-ray Steelbook

Sony Stopping Retailers from Selling Digital Video Game Codes

In another blow to packaged-media retail, Sony Interactive Entertainment is taking steps to stop retailers such as GameStop, Amazon and Best Buy from selling digital codes to its video games.

The move would hinder consumers from bypassing the credit card payment option at Sony’s PlayStation Network and purchasing codes to PS4 titles at physical and online retail.

“We can confirm that as of April 1, Sony will no longer offer full games through SIE’s Global Digital at Retail program,” the company told The Verge in a statement. “This decision was made in order to continue to align key businesses globally. To support full games and premium editions, SIE will introduce increased denominations at select retailers.”

The move will reportedly not affect pending releases of Days Gone and Mortal Kombat 11.

Sony said the new policy would not affect downloadable content, add-ons, virtual currency, gift cards and season passes. The publisher will also continue to offer third-party PSN credit options at select retailers.

Sony’s action mirrors efforts by Disney to stop Redbox from selling digital codes to its movies. That move resulted in litigation with a federal judge last summer granting Disney’s request for a preliminary injunction against Redbox.

That injunction only applies to newer “combo pack” releases with a revised disclaimer on the package. Redbox said it would continue selling digital codes to earlier Disney releases such as Frozen and older “Star Wars” movies.

Merchandising: Retailers Offer Exclusives for ‘Spider-Verse,’ ‘Mary Poppins’

March 19 saw the release of two big titles, Sony Pictures’ Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns, and retailers offered a number of exclusive editions for each.

Best Buy had a Blu-ray Steelbook edition of Spider-Verse for $27.99.

Best Buy ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ Steelbook

Target had a $24.99 edition of the Blu-ray packaged with a 48-page mini-book, “The Art of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.”

Target ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ Digibook

Walmart offered a $27.96 Spider-Verse gift set containing the Blu-ray combo pack and a pack-in Miles Morales action figure.

Walmart ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ Blu-ray with action figure

Amazon.com had an exclusive Spider-Verse Blu-ray combo pack with a slipcover containing holographic artwork, listed at $38.99 but marked as out of stock until April 2.

Amazon ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ exclusive cover

For Mary Poppins Returns, Best Buy had a Steelbook of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack for $34.99, plus a $19.99 Blu-ray Steelbook of the 1964 original Mary Poppins.

Best Buy ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ Steelbook
Best Buy ‘Mary Poppins’ Steelbook

Target offered a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray of Mary Poppins Returns with digibook packaging containing a limited-edition filmmaker gallery and storybook. It was listed as $34.99 in the chain’s weekly ad circular but $32.99 online.

Target ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ Digibook

Best Buy also touted a preorder of its exclusive Steelbooks for Warner’s Aquaman on Blu-ray at $29.99 at 4K UHD BD at $34.99. The discs arrive March 26 but the preorder includes a code to watch it now through Movies Anywhere.

Merchandising: Options for ‘Grindelwald’

Best Buy ‘Grindelwald’ Steelbook

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment’s Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald arrived March 12 with several retailer exclusive purchasing options.

Best Buy ‘Grindelwald’ 3D Blu-ray

Best Buy had two exclusives. One was a Steelbook of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack, for $34.99. The other was a 3D combo pack that includes a 3D Blu-ray, regular Blu-ray, DVD and digital code, for $29.99.

A version of the 3D combo pack available through Warner Archive and Walmart omits the DVD. Amazon’s version of the 3D combo pack is just the 3D disc and digital copy.

The digital codes provide access to an extended cut of the film that runs seven minutes longer than the theatrical version.

Walmart’s ‘Grindelwald’ Blu-ray with keychain

Walmart offered the Blu-ray combo pack with a pack-in Baby Niffler Funko Pocket Pop! Keychain for $29.96.

Target’s ‘Grindelwald’ digibook

Target had versions of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray ($34.99) and Blu-ray ($29.99) combo packs with a 64-page digibook and collectible packaging.

Best Buy is touting preorders for the new-in-theaters Captain Marvel, with a $34.99 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbook.

Best Buy ‘Captain Marvel’ Steelbook