Nov. 30 saw two of the big retail chains offer exclusive 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray editions for Disney-owned Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
The film, the 25th entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, stars Simu Liu as the title hero who must come to terms with his family’s complicated history and confront his father, the legendary warlord who heads the Ten Rings organization.
Best Buy offered the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with Steelbook packaging for $34.99.
Target offered the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc combo pack of the film with special packaging, box art and two limited-edition foil-edged prints for $34.99.
Separately, Target offered up to 40% off select holiday music and movies.
Best Buy Jan. 18 will sell an exclusive Steelbook edition of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray of Lionsgate’s Requiem for a Dream.
The psychological drama from director Darren Aronofsky was originally released in 2000 and features cinematography by two-time Academy Award nominee Matthew Libatique and music by Golden Globe nominee Clint Mansell.
With a screenplay by Aronofsky and Hubert Selby Jr., based on Selby’s nove, Requiem for a Dream stars Oscar winners Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly and Ellen Burstyn, along with Marlon Wayans, in a hypnotic film about four people pursuing their visions of happiness. Even as everything begins to fall apart, they refuse to let go, plummeting with their dreams into a nightmarish, gut-wrenching freefall.
The Steelbook features new artwork from Vance Kelly and carries a list price of $27.99.
Previously released extras include the featurettes “On Set: 1999,” “Transcendent Moments: The Score of Requiem for a Dream,” “Ellen Burstyn on Requiem for a Dream” and “Through Their Eyes: Revisiting Requiem for a Dream.”
Without much in the way of new disc releases the week of Nov. 23, the retail chains focused their attention on discounts tied to Black Friday sales.
Target is running a buy-two-get-one free sale on movies, books and movies. Among the selections are a number of DVDs with Target-exclusive box art offered at $8 apiece, such as Lionsgate’s Dirty Dancing, La La Land and Five Feet Apart.
In addition, Target is selling Christmas movies at deep discounts as well, as low as $6 on DVD and $7 on Blu-ray. Target’s home video sections have have had a Christmas-movie display for several weeks already.
Best Buy is offering deep discounts on most of home video product, with select Blu-rays as low as $5.99 and 4K Ultra HD discs down to $9.99 for several recent films such as F9: The Fast Saga and Wonder Woman 1984.
Best Buy Nov. 23 reported third-quarter (ended Oct. 30) comparable domestic store entertainment revenue of $549.2 million, which included a $22.5 million increase in same-store sales. That was down from a same-store sales increase of $95 million on revenue of $542.5 million in the previous-year period. The segment result, which includes products such as DVD/Blu-ray Disc movies, video game hardware and software, books, music CDs and computer software, underscores the impact prior-year stay-at-home mandates had on the consumption of home entertainment.
Indeed, e-commerce revenue dropped more than 10% to $3.44 billion. As a percentage of total domestic revenue, online revenue decreased to approximately 31.3% of Best Buy’s $10.98 billion in revenue, compared with 35.2% of $10.85 billion in revenue last year.
CEO Corie Barry said that despite customers returning to stores, digital sales in the quarter were still more than double pre-pandemic levels, and phone, chat and in-home sales continued to grow. She said the consumer electronics retail giant remains well positioned to sell and deliver products in the current business environment and in the future.
“During the third quarter, we reached our fastest small-package online shipping times ever as our same-day delivery was up 400% and we nearly doubled the percent of products delivered within one day compared to last year,” Barry said in a statement.
CFO Matt Bilunis said the retailer has perfected delivering CE products however the consumer wants them.
“We are committed to driving initiatives that will deliver future growth and our Q4 outlook reflects continued investments in our new membership program, technology, advertising and our health strategy,” Bilunis said.
Best Buy Nov. 15 began selling Microsoft’s special-edition Xbox Series X video game consoles themed for, and including, the new Halo Infinite video game, which doesn’t officially launch until Dec. 8. Best Buy is selling the $549 console at select stores. The controller costs $199.
Today (Nov. 15) is the 20th anniversary of the original launch of the Xbox video game console.
Per the consumer electronics retailer’s Web page: “Blue Shirts at participating stores will begin handing out tickets at 7:30 a.m. local time. They will ask you which items you wish to buy, and hand out one ticket per item per purchasing customer in line. If you receive a ticket for the Xbox Series X console, controller, and/or headset, you will be guaranteed the opportunity to purchase that item. While in the store, you will also be able to buy additional video games or gaming accessories.”
While Microsoft announced the special edition console in August, the company, along with Best Buy and other retailers, is hyping the event ahead of the annual Black Friday retail extravaganza through the Thanksgiving weekend.
As a result, there were media reports of small groups of video game fanatics camping out Nov. 14 at select Best Buy stores to secure a ticket. The Series X console, along with Sony’s PlayStation 5, have been difficult to find in stores due to ongoing chip and related supply chain issues.
That said, video games continue to shatter sales records as an enduring home entertainment option during the pandemic. October game revenue hit a monthly record $4.39 billion, according to The NPF Group. That was the sixth consecutive month of revenue increases across all market segments. Through 10 months of the year, consumer game spending exceeds $46.7 billion, up 12% from the same period last year.
Fewer titles, empty new-release shelves and understaffed departments are just a few of the issues still affecting packaged-media retailers due to the pandemic, based on observations from weekly store visits in Southern California by Media Play News.
Over the past few months, many Target stores, a number of which have been redesigning their layouts and specialty departments in general, have seemingly cut in half the amount of shelf space in their electronics departments devoted to packaged-media movies and TV shows.
A typical Target layout now involves a new-release display up front, with a single aisle of high-profile catalog and recent releases. Aisles dedicated to 4K Ultra HD discs and boxed sets have largely disappeared, as more shelf space is being devoted to collectibles such as Funko Pops, increasingly popular manga comics, and more books and vinyl records (the latter, ironically, as CD shelf space decreases).
The story is similar at Best Buy locations, many of which now have just a new-release display near the front entrance, and a single aisle of recent discs toward the middle or back of the store closer to the HDTVs. Best Buy locations had been shrinking their DVD and Blu-ray sections for years to make room for a larger mobile phone footprint, a trend seemingly accelerated by the pandemic. A store in Costa Mesa, Calif., converted the area in the center of the store once dominated by DVDs and Blu-rays into a staging area for online order pickups.
“I think a lot of the shelf space issues have to do with COVID,” said Bill Hunt of packaged-media enthusiast site TheDigitalBits.com. “Retailers had been stocking less physical media even before the pandemic.”
One casualty of Target’s reduction in shelf space for discs is the removal of an area dedicated to promoting the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format. In fact, aside from new releases, 4K copies of movies are hard to come by at Target and Walmart physical stores. Likewise, bulkier TV boxed sets and movie collections are now mostly absent from physical locations. Most chains now prefer to make 4K discs, collector sets and other niche catalog fare available through their online stores.
In many instances, retailers such as Target, Best Buy and Walmart have been slow to stock new-release shelves on Tuesdays, the traditional date for new Blu-ray Disc and DVD releases. Depending on the location, shoppers used to seeing updated new-release displays on Tuesday mornings now might have to wait well into the afternoon or evening, if not the next day, to find the titles they are looking for on shelves.
Discussions with store clerks point to product that might be late in arriving to stores, a side effect of lingering supply chain issues such as the number of replication facilities where the discs are made being reduced as the physical home entertainment industry continues to lose market share to digital delivery and streaming year after year.
This often leads to shelves looking empty as they haven’t been stocked with the new titles, or the limited supplies they have made available have sold out.
“While there are more titles coming out than ever, studios and replicators are having trouble getting a sufficient supply of product out to retailers on street date. So they’re all doing more business selling online,” Hunt said. “What I’m also hearing, in chatting with employees at the local Targets and Best Buys here in Orange County (Calif.), is that retail stores are having to make due with fewer workers,” Hunt said. “The stores have fewer people stocking the shelves. And the focus is on keeping shelves stocked with high-demand consumable goods — food, home supplies, medicine and personal care items. Movie discs aren’t a high priority.”
In one instance, a Walmart employee pointed to a box of DVDs sitting behind the counter and said they were waiting for a third-party vendor to arrive to set up the new-release display for that week.
A different week, a Target employee who was just getting around to resetting the shelf tags on the new-release kiosk on a Tuesday afternoon, when asked about a title released that day, said they were still in the back and that no one could have them until someone had the time to bring the box out (typically a store clerk, when asked for a specific item the computer says is in stock, will at least go to the back and pull one from storage even if no one has been able to bring the rest of the boxes out).
The week of April 27, Disney-owned Searchlight Pictures perfectly timed the Blu-ray release of Nomadland for two days after the 93rd Academy Awards ceremony at which the film won the Oscar for Best Picture. However, copies of the film were nowhere to be found at major retail shelves on the day of its release. Target, Walmart and Best Buy all relegated the Nomadland Blu-ray to their online store. It received worse treatment at Amazon, which didn’t even list it until the day it came out, and even then only as available from third-party marketplace sellers (meaning Amazon isn’t selling it directly — likely another casualty of the e-commerce behemoth’s long-running disputes with Disney over physical media availability). Best Buy at least paired the Nomadland Blu-ray with a deal to get a month of Internet TV service Philo for $1.
One title that seemed to most epitomize retailer supply issues was Paramount’s four-movie “Indiana Jones” 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray boxed sets released June 8. Many fans reported a hard time finding them at retail, and even Amazon buyers took to Twitter and Facebook to complain about shipping delays because the online retailer didn’t have copies in stock yet. Target listed the 4K edition of the “Indiana Jones” collection as an online exclusive at $86.99, while touting the standard Blu-ray set as in stores at $39.99 in its weekly ad circulars, though shoppers reported little luck in finding any. Store locations in Santa Ana and Tustin, Calif., didn’t even have shelf tags for it.
The Digital Bits’ Hunt posted on social media that a clerk at his local Southern California Target store said that since they didn’t stock the 4K version, they were worried that just putting the Blu-ray edition on shelves would confuse customers, so they kept it in the storeroom.
Some shoppers reported a bit better luck at Best Buy, finding a handful of the exclusive $99 Steelbook version of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray set (which included a digital copy, but not standard Blu-ray versions). Unsurprisingly, many shoppers took to social media to say the set was sold out in their area.
A Walmart in Tustin, Calif., didn’t have the four-movie set, but did have a new Blu-ray and DVD version of just Raiders of the Lost Ark (reportedly just a repackaging of previously released disc configurations). The Blu-ray (with digital copy) was readily available at most online retailers for around $14.99, but the DVD version was a Walmart exclusive at $9.96.
Exclusive editions such as Best Buy’s “Indiana Jones” Steelbook and Walmart’s Raiders DVD continue to be a valued promotional tool for retailers to attract consumers looking for new titles, even as the packaged-media industry continues to decline.
“I think the exclusives tend to be produced further in advance and in small batches, so those are easier to prioritize,” Hunt said.
Savvy collectors know which exclusives certain retailers tend to prefer. Best Buy is well known for its Steelbook sets — packing Blu-ray combo packs into metal cases with special box art.
Since the beginning of June, Best Buy’s Steelbooks for 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack new releases have included Warner’s Godzilla vs. Kong, Zack Snyder’s Justice League, Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms, Space Jam: A New Legacy, Injustice and The Suicide Squad; Paramount’s A Quiet Place Part II and Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins; Universal’s F9: The Fast Saga and Old; Disney’s Luca, Black Widow, Cruella and Free Guy; and Lionsgate’s Spiral: From the Book of Saw and Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard. New regular Blu-ray Steelbooks included Batman: The Long Halloween — Part One and Part Two.
Best Buy’s 4K catalog Steelbooks the past five months have included Lionsgate’s Sicario, The Hitman’s Bodyguard, 3 From Hell, American Psycho and Apocalypse Now;
Paramount’s Scream; Disney’s Unbreakable; Warner’s Space Jam, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, The Shawshank Redemption and A Clockwork Orange; Universal’s Backdraft, Howard the Duck, Mortal Engines, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Rear Window, Vertigo and 1982’s The Thing; and Sony Pictures’ Snatch.
Regular Blu-ray Steelbook boxed sets have included Paramount’s Friday the 13th 8-Movie Collection and Funimation’s Darling in the Franxx: Season 1 anime set.
Best Buy has released so many Steelbooks that most stores have a special Steelbook section in the disc aisle. Online, Best Buy created the Steelbook Collector Hub, a page to provide information about the chain’s Steelbooks and to poll collectors about which new Steelbooks to produce. The Steelbook page also includes a section profiling a Steelbook collector with a brief Q&A.
Target also occasionally releases Steelbook exclusives, though not at the frequency of Best Buy. Examples the past few months have included Lionsgate’s Sicario and 31, both catalog titles.
Instead, Target’s go-to exclusives tend to be to pack the 4K or Blu-ray combo pack with collectible art cards or a booklet of behind-the-scenes material.
For example, Target packed Space Jam: A New Legacy, The Suicide Squad and F9: The Fast Saga
Blu-rays with character cards, while Luca, Free Guy and Cruella Blu-rays came with art cards. Gallery booklets came with the 4K combo pack of Black Widow and the regular Blu-ray of Universal’s The Boss Baby: Family Business Blu-ray.
Walmart’s exclusive preferences tend to the more eclectic. These may range from lenticular covers (such as for The Suicide Squad), or gift sets (for example, pairing The Boss Baby: Family Business Blu-ray with a jigsaw puzzle, or family films with plush dolls).
Recent Disney Blu-rays such as Luca and Cruella have come with Walmart-exclusive box art and paired with an e-book tie-in to the movie.
For many Warner Bros. titles, Walmart might put out a DVD version with minimal extras that runs a few dollars cheaper than the widely released DVD. Or, in cases where the wide release is only 4K or Blu-ray, Walmart will have the DVD exclusively — typically the case with DC animated superhero movies such as Injustice and both parts of Batman: The Long Halloween, but also multi-movie sets such as The Conjuring 3-Movie Collection and Space Jam 2-Film Collection. Walmart also recently released exclusive DVD collections such as Universal’s Fast & Furious 9-Movie Collection and, from Warner, the Mortal Kombat 3-Movie Collection and a Godzilla/Kong 3-Film Collection.
Walmart focusing so many of its exclusives on plain-old DVD points to the stalwart format remaining the workhorse of retail disc sales even as it approaches its 25th anniversary (the first DVD players and discs were available in November 1996 in Japan), despite the existence of several next-generation HD formats.
Whether due to consumer stubbornness, the cheaper price during the pandemic, or chains such as Walmart continuing to champion it, DVD continues to dominate market share among the disc formats.
According to Media Play News research estimates, DVD has accounted for 74.4% of all disc unit sales for the first nine months of 2021, up from 71.5% the first three quarters of 2020. The average price of a DVD and Blu-ray through nine months of 2021 is $10.32 and $19.40, respectively, compared with $9.90 per DVD and $18.13 per Blu-ray during the same period in 2020.
Walmart’s exclusive DVD editions account for a considerable portion of a title’s total sales, despite being available at just one of the big three major national home entertainment retailers, demonstrating Walmart’s outsized influence on the market. For instance, the Space Jam 2-Film Collection released Oct. 15 has seen about 44% of its total sales come from the Walmart-exclusive DVD version.
Nov. 2 saw the release of a new Hacksaw Ridge 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbook combo pack exclusively at Best Buy.
The repackaging of Lionsgate’s 2016 war drama is offered at $19.99. The box art features all-new artwork of star Andrew Garfield by artist Krzysztof Domaradzki, and comes with a removable red cross slipcover, tying into his character being an army medic during World War II.
Based on a true story, Hacksaw Ridge was directed by Mel Gibson, with Garfield playing Desmond Doss, a pacifist who declined the option of carrying a weapon on the front lines during his combat tour, but nonetheless saved 75 men during the bloodiest battle of the war in Okinawa. For single-handedly evacuating the wounded from behind enemy lines, Doss was the first conscientious objector to ever earn the Congressional Medal of Honor.
The week also saw Target release an exclusive $17.99 Steelbook Blu-ray Disc of 31, a 2016 horror movie from director Rob Zombie in which five happy-go-lucky carnies on a cross-country road trip are kidnapped and hunted by murderous clowns in an escape room-style hideaway in the middle of nowhere.
Warner’s Injustice got a few retail exclusives Oct. 19, while Best Buy had a slew of Steelbook editions for some of the week’s new releases.
For Injustice, the latest direct-to-video animated superhero movie based on DC Comcis characters, Walmart offered a $14.96 DVD edition, as the title was widely released only on Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD discs.
Best Buy offered a Steelbook edition of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack of Injustice.
Other Best Buy Steelbooks new for the week included Paramount’s Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray at $34.99; Universal’s Old 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray at 34.99; a re-release of Lionsgate Apocalypse Now 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray at $19.99; and a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc of 1996 horror film Scream, from Paramount, for $25.99.
Target for the week offered a sale of up to 30% off Halloween books and movies.
Best Buy Oct. 19-22 is offering hundreds of Black Friday deals available on tech, including everything from headphones to laptops and TVs.
Deals include $599 for a Samsung 70-inch 4K Smart TV ($150 savings), $169 for Beats Studio 3 headphones in matte black ($180 savings), Chromebooks as low as $99, Windows laptops as low as $189.99, and $540 savings on Samsung appliances.
Deals are covered by a Black Friday Price Guarantee, which means the price won’t go lower before Black Friday, according to Best Buy. Best Buy will automatically refund My Best Buy and Best Buy Totaltech members the difference. If the price goes lower before Black Friday and customers are not a member of My Best Buy or Best Buy Totaltech, they can still be reimbursed by visiting their local store or contacting the Best Buy customer care team and requesting a price match under our Price Match Guarantee, according to the chain.
At Best Buy, Black Friday starts a week early on Nov. 19. Best Buy stores will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 25. Customers who would still like to shop that day can shop on BestBuy.com or through the Best Buy app.