There weren’t many new titles hitting shelves April 13, so Best Buy touted a number of home entertainment promotions on its Website instead.
Among them is the Steelbook Collector Hub, a page to provide information about the special metal packaging that often forms the basis for Best Buy retailer exclusive editions. In addition to links for shoppers to buy and preorder Steelbook copies of hit movies, the page is also asking fans to vote on which titles Best Buy should release as 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbooks in the future.
In one vote, fans can choose between Lionsgate’s The Hurt Locker and La La Land. The other vote is between Sony Pictures’ Drive and The Guns of Navarone.
There’s also a section for fans to vote on which title previously released as a Steelbook that Best Buy should release again with the collectible packaging. Titles include 2004’s Hellboy, Total Recall, Rambo: Last Blood, 1995’s Jumanji, The Dark Tower, 1978’s Halloween and Atomic Blonde.
The Steelbook page also includes a section profiling a Steelbook collector with a brief Q&A.
Taking a page from Amazon Prime and Walmart+, Best Buy has quietly begun testing a membership program, dubbed Best Buy Beta, that affords consumers an array of benefits, including exclusive pricing, Geek Squad technical support, up to two years of protection on most product purchases, free standard shipping and delivery, and free installation on most products and appliances.
Priced at $199.99 per year ($179.99 per year for Best Buy credit card holders), the program also includes access to a concierge service available 24/7 by phone, chat, email or through the Best Buy app.
“As we look to evolve our membership programs, the goal of Best Buy Beta is to create an experience that customers will love and to leave them feeling confident throughout their relationship with Best Buy,” Allison Peterson, the CE retailer’s chief customer officer, said in a statement. “This pilot offers premium service, complete with support aimed at anticipating our customers’ needs.”
The pilot is currently available at select stores throughout Iowa, Oklahoma and eastern Pennsylvania. In April, it will expand to customers and select stores in Minnesota, North Carolina and Tennessee. At that time, it will be available at a total of about 60 stores.
Best Buy existing membership programs, including “Total Tech Support” ($199 per year) and the “My Best Buy ” points program, continue separately.
Amazon’s Prime membership gives consumers free two-day shipping on myriad purchases, in addition to access to movies and TV shows, music, books and video games.
Walmart’s $98 annual “Walmart +” platform also offers free shipping, discounts on fuel purchases, mobile checkout service and free grocery home delivery.
The light slate of new releases April 6 didn’t attract much interest in the way of retail exclusives, but Target did offer one for Lionsgate’s Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar.
The Target-exclusive Blu-ray edition of the comedy came with lenticular box art and additional bonus materials: the featurettes “Reason #497 Why We’re Friends,” “The Visionary Sets of Barb & Star” and “Emotional Dancing With Jamie Dornan.” It was priced at $17.99, the same price as the regular Blu-ray.
Savvy shoppers could also take advantage of a backdoor discount at Target involving Lionsgate’s World War II thriller Shadow in the Cloud, which was priced at $29.99 on Blu-ray at the chain (at least, in the stores that bothered to restock their home entertainment sections with the week’s new titles). The Target circle app gives a 15% discount on the title, but Target also has a policy to match prices of its competitors, one of which is Walmart, which listed the Shadow in the Cloud Blu-ray online for $14.96. So with the new priced keyed in, a 5% discount for Target Redcard users, and the 15% discount on the title still applicable, the final price comes to under $13. Not bad.
Best Buy used the week to push a number of themed promotions, including a tie-in to Oscar season with a sale on movies that won Awards over the years.
Superhero movie fans looking for exclusive home video editions of Warner’s Wonder Woman 1984 had their wish granted upon its March 30 release on DVD, Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. Not only did each of the major national retail chains have an exclusive version, but Amazon did as well.
In this case, Amazon offered a two-pack of Wonder Woman 1984 and its predecessor, 2017’s Wonder Woman, as a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray for $44.99. The set includes 4K versions and digital copies of both films, but not regular Blu-ray versions. The standard Blu-ray version of the two-pack was a wide release.
Best Buy, as is typical for the chain, presented a Steelbook edition of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack of Wonder Woman 1984, for $34.99.
Walmart likewise stuck with its typical pattern, and as it often does with major Warner Bros. releases, stocked an exclusive vanilla DVD edition without the bonus disc but with unique box art.
The widely released DVD includes a bonus disc touting 90 minutes of special features, including extensive making-of featurettes, and is offered at $17.99 at Target and Best Buy, and $17.96 at Amazon and Walmart’s online store.
Walmart’s physical stores stocked just the vanilla version, offered at $16.96 and containing just one extra, a “Scene Study: The Mall” featurette.
Walmart also offered an exclusive DVD two-pack of both “Wonder Woman” movies for $22.96.
Target went with a simpler route and just offered unique box art with the Wonder Woman 1984 Blu-ray/DVD/Digital combo pack, for $24.99.
Rounding out the array of “Wonder Woman” releases, the Warner Archives Wonder Woman 1984 3D Blu-ray combo pack was priced at $29.88 on Amazon,com, $27.99 at BestBuy.com, and $34.99 at Walmart.com.
The March 16 new releases didn’t generate much retail excitement.
Best Buy’s website, while listing the week’s new releases but not offering exclusive editions for any of them, displayed a big banner for an Easter-themed promotion encouraging shoppers to “Fill their Easter baskets.”
Best Buy debuted the banner last week and will likely continue to run Easter tie-ins until the holiday arrives April 4.
Of course, the promotion was more for family and animated titles than anything overtly religious. Among the titles listed under the promotion were Disney’s Soul (arriving March 23 with an exclusive 4K Blu-ray Steelbook), Nickelodeon’s Avatar: The Last Airbender — The Complete Series Blu-ray, Sony Pictures’ Spider-Man: Far From Home and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays, Disney’s Lady and the Tramp — Signature Collection Blu-ray, Sony Pictures’ A Dog’s Way Home, DreamWorks Animation’s three-movie How to Train Your Dragon collection, 20th Century’s The Sound of Music and more.
Target, on the other hand, listed some of the week’s new titles, such as Universal Pictures’ Promising Young Woman and Songbird, and Lionsgate’s Don’t Tell a Soul, in its weekly ad circular, but that’s no guarantee of finding them on shelves. A Target store in Tustin, Calif., didn’t even bother to update its new releases area with shelf tags for the new titles, let alone put the discs on display, well into the evening of March 16. Instead, the section was left barren and half-empty as the recent titles from previous weeks trickle away.
Best Buy March 9 offered an exclusive 4K Ultra HD Steelbook edition of Lionsgate’s 2012 comic book adaptation Dredd, starring Karl Urban.
The Steelbook edition includes a 4K disc, a regular Blu-ray disc and a digital copy for $19.99, though it quickly sold out at many stores and online.
Dredd was directed by Pete Travis and written and produced by Alex Garland. It is based on the 2000 AD comic strip “Judge Dredd” and its character of the same name, created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra. Urban plays the title role as Judge Dredd, a heavy-handed law enforcer in a huge dystopic metropolis, Mega-City One. Dredd and his apprentice partner, Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), attempt to clean up a 200-story high-rise and deal with resident drug lord Ma-Ma (Lena Headey).
The big retailers didn’t have much in the way of exclusives with the new releases of March 2.
Best Buy, though, did have another of its catalog Steelbook editions hit the shelves. This time, it’s a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack of Paramount’s 2005 sci-fi actioner War of the Worlds, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Cruise.
The set includes a 4K disc, regular Blu-ray and digital copy for $19.99.
Driven by e-commerce and new video game consoles from Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox, Best Buy Feb. 25 reported a 31.4% leap in fourth-quarter (ended Jan. 31) domestic entertainment sales, a major turnaround from a decline of 21.8% in the previous-year period. International entertainment revenue skyrocketed 59.5% compared to a 16.9% drop a year ago.
The entertainment segment, which includes products such as DVD/Blu-ray Disc movies, video game hardware and software, books, music CDs and computer software, saw same-store sales increase 12.4% compared with a 3.4% increase during the previous-year period. Online sales grew almost 90% to a record $6.7 billion, and made up 43% of total $15.4 billion domestic sales.
Entertainment generated $1.38 billion (9%) of domestic revenue, compared to $1.1 billion (8%) during the previous-year period. The segment represented 10% ($153.7 million) of international revenue, compared with 7% ($94.3 million) a year ago.
“Our stores played a pivotal role in the fulfillment of these sales, as almost two-thirds of our online revenue was either picked up in store or curbside, shipped from a store or delivered by a store employee,” CEO Corie Barry said in a statement.
Barry said that over the next few weeks, all hourly U.S. employees would cash bonuses of $500 if full-time and $200 if part-time.
“We are encouraging all employees to get COVID vaccinations as they are available by providing them with paid time off when they receive the vaccine and providing them absence time to be used in the event they develop side effects that warrant their needing to stay home and rest after receiving the vaccination,” Barry said.
Notably, Wall Street sent Best Buy’s stock down more than 8% in pre-market trading, in response to soft guidance and missed winter holiday sales projections. Yet, one analyst contends the CE giant could see a $400 million revenue boost from the shuttering of Fry’s Electronics in California.
“While this is not a needle mover for Best Buy’s base of $47 billion in sales, we view it as emblematic of an increasingly attractive landscape for competitors with staying power,” Jonathan Matuszewski, analyst with Jeffries, wrote in a note.
For the new home video releases of Feb. 16, the most notable exclusive was another Best Buy Steelbook edition.
This week it’s the first season of HBO’s “Lovecraft Country” from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. The $32.99 Steelbook includes all 10 episodes on three Blu-ray discs.
Based on the 2016 novel of the same name by Matt Ruff, the supernatural drama series follows Atticus Freeman (Jonathan Majors) as he joins up with his friend Leti (Jurnee Smollett) and his Uncle George (Courtney B. Vance) to embark on a road trip across 1950s Jim Crow America in search of his missing father, Montrose Freeman (Michael Kenneth Williams). This begins a struggle to survive and overcome both the racist terrors of white America and the terrifying monsters described in an H.P. Lovecraft paperback.