The third week of 2021 marked another slow week for new DVD and Blu-ray releases at retail. Best Buy ran its online ad for 4K and Blu-ray discounts for a third consecutive week.
Target, which last week didn’t list any DVD or Blu-ray news in its weekly ad circular, this week devoted a page to a “Best of 2020 Sale.” Most of the space was devoted to books, but there were four Blu-rays listed: Disney’s Frozen II and Mulan at $22.99, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker at $19.99, and Universal’s Trolls World Tour at $24.99.
A lack of major new releases heading into 2021 has left retailers with few options for refreshing their DVD and Blu-ray sections.
Some, such as Best Buy, continue to promote catalog sales on its website, such as Blu-ray Discs as low as $7.99. Best Buy did present the week’s modest slate of new releases, but without any exclusives attached to them.
The same can’t be said of Target, where some stores aren’t even bothering to update new-release shelves a timely fashion on Tuesdays. The chain’s Jan. 10 advertising circular didn’t include any section for DVD or Blu-ray releases, though it did tout 50% off hundreds of video games, exclusive vinyl albums and discounts on books.
Walmart also didn’t bring any exclusives to the new releases of Jan. 12, but at least had titles such as Paramount’s Spell and season two of the new “Twilight Zone” on its shelves.
A dearth of big new home video releases at the end of 2020 and beginning of 2021 didn’t have retailers scrambling to offer exclusive promotions for any of them.
Many Target locations, for example, still won’t even bother to put out what new releases they do get on shelves in a timely manner.
With options limited, Best Buy continues to tout catalog sales on its website. The first week of 2021 saw its top movie deals focused on Blu-ray Discs and 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays.
Blu-rays were offered as low as $3.99, for Straight Outta Compton. Blu-rays offered at $5.99 included Abominable, Downton Abbey: The Motion Picture, Hustlers and Queen & Slim. Blu-rays offered at $9.99 included Joker, 1917, The Gentlemen, Doctor Sleep, The Invisible Man, The Hunt, It: Chapter Two and Oscar winner Parasite. A selection of Blu-rays at $11.99 included Birds of Prey, Trolls World Tour and The King of Staten Island.
Among 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays, those offered at $10.99 included Hustlers and The House With a Clock in Its Walls. A selection of 4K discs at $13.99 included 1917, The Blues Brothers, Trolls World Tour, The Croods, Hobbs & Shaw, The Invisible Man, The Gentlemen, The Purge: Election Year and Parasite. The sale also had 4K titles such as Lucy for $9.99 and Birds of Prey for $17.99.
Without much in the way of new releases Dec. 29, most retailers were content to coast into the new year without much fanfare on the home video front.
Best Buy however did continue to offer a number of deep discount promotions to clear out its inventory.
Among the deals were discounts on anime titles, such as Shout! Factory’s 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Weathering With You set for $74.99 (regularly $89.99); Blu-ray Steelbooks for Spirited Away and Castle in the Sky for $18.99 each (regularly $19.99); the 4K Steelbook of the 1996 Ghost in the Shell animated movie from Lionsgate for $14.99 (regularly $19.99); and the My Hero Academia: Two Heroes Blu-ray for $12.99 (regularly $24.99).
Movie and TV bundles offered included the “Die Hard” five-film Blu-ray collection for $22.99 (regularly $27.99); Lionsgate’s eight-film “Saw” Blu-ray collection for $12.99 (regularly $14.99); Lionsgate’s five-film “Rambo” Blu-ray set for $24.99 (down from $29.99); Disney’s three-movie “Santa Clause” Blu-ray set for $19.99 (regularly $29.99); Universal’s Back to the Future Trilogy 35th anniversary Blu-ray for $24.99 (regularly $34.99); and Universal’s eight-movie “Fast & Furious” Blu-ray collection for $41.99 9down from $61.99).
Best Buy also continued its 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc sale and had regular Blu-ray movies for as low as $4.99.
The big retailers didn’t do much to acknowledge the new home video releases of Dec. 22. Many of the big chain stores in Southern California didn’t even bother to put them out, leaving new-release shelves looking barren and neglected as clerks focus on other things, such as mobile phones and video games.
In fact, Target listed Universal’s new The War With Grandpa Blu-ray as available only online.
However, with Christmas arriving at the end of the week, the major retailers did offer some of their typical seasonal discounts.
Target in its weekly ad circular advertised up to 20% off select movies.
Best Buy touted a sale on holiday Blu-rays that could be had for as low as $7.99 each. Best Buy also offered its inventory of exclusive Steelbooks for as low as $11.99 each.
The big title to hit shelves Dec. 15 was Warner’s Tenet, the latest mind-bending adventure from director Christopher Nolan. Both Best Buy and Walmart offered exclusive editions of the film.
Best Buy had its typical Steelbook offering, presenting a Tenet 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbook combo pack for $34.99.
Walmart also dipped into its exclusives playbook, and with Tenet being a Warner title, offered a bare-bones DVD with unique box art and no extras for $16.96. The widely available special-edition DVD with an hour of behind-the-scenes extras wasn’t even stocked in some stores, but was available at Walmart.com for $19.96.
Target didn’t have a Tenet exclusive, but was running a promotion for 20% off DVDs and Blu-rays, excluding new releases.
A number of Target stores around Southern California continue to have issues stocking their new releases in a timely manner on Tuesday morning. At one store, where the shelves were empty at 8 a.m. but the display labels for all the new titles were in place, a clerk said the new titles likely wouldn’t be stocked until late afternoon, as they weren’t in a rush to bring out the boxes of new product from the stockroom, even for customers who asked about them specifically.
There were also reports of issues with Target’s app feature allowing shoppers to pay online and pick the item up in the store. One customer looking for the Tenet 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray said he had several stores cancel his order on the claim that they were out of stock, but when he went to the actual store, they had plenty of copies on the shelf.
Best Buy Dec. 8 continued its practice of offering a slate of exclusive new Steelbook editions to make up for an otherwise dull Blu-ray and DVD release slate.
Best Buy had a Steelbook edition of Lionsgate’s new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack of Total Recall, at $18.99.
Also new is Best Buy’s Steelbook for the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray edition of HBO’s Westworld: Season 3, even though the standard release came out Nov. 17. Best Buy’s Steelbook was listed at $46.99 upon release.
Best Buy also has a Blu-ray Steelbook of Funimation’s My Hero Academia: Two Heroes, a movie that first arrived on Blu-ray in March 2019. The Steelbook edition, offered for $25.99 by Best Buy, will apparently be widely available Feb. 21, according to Amazon.
Other chains weren’t so quick to line up exclusives following Black Friday. The lineup of top titles each week has gotten so anemic it seems that many of the big chains have left their DVD and Blu-ray shelves in a state of neglect, not even bothering to update the displays for weeks at a time without anything major to hit the shelves.
Outside of Best Buy, the most notable home video deal was that Target offered 20% off movie, TV show and book boxed sets.
Preparations for annual Black Friday sales left retailers mostly ignoring the new DVD and Blu-ray disc releases of Nov. 24, not that the list had many notable titles to begin with.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic and a desire to cut down on the massive crowds that typically show up for the bargains offered the day after Thanksgiving, stores have been offering special discounts for most of the month already. This week, however, has seen merchandise configurations more akin to what a Black Friday would typically look like.
For instance, a Target in Tustin, Calif., set up cardboard displays of catalog DVDs and Blu-rays near the front of the store in what is usually an area for women’s clothing. Target is running a buy-two-get-one-free promotion on books, movies and music. Blu-rays and DVDs could be had for as low as $4, $7 and $9.
A Best Buy in Costa Mesa, Calif., had a sizeable line the evening of Nov. 24, which is likely more due to a resurgence of pandemic restrictions limiting the number of guests allowed in the store. Best Buy’s deals include select Blu-rays for $5.99; Blu-rays and 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays for $7.99 or $9.99; Disney movies starting at $9.99; and collectible Steelbooks for $14.99.
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.
Disney released its live-action Mulan on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Nov. 10, having announced the street date just four days before. The film famously bypassed theatrical distribution due to the coronavirus pandemic in lieu of several PVOD options tested by the studio.
The disc version arrived with a couple of retailers offering the typical kind of exclusive editions they usually do.
At Target, the Mulan 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack was offered as a limited-edition with a pack-in gallery book for $34.99.
Best Buy offered its usual Steelbook edition for Mulan, with a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack priced at $34.99.
Interestingly, discs of the new Mulan were not listed at Amazon.com prior to their release date, and even after, the only copies that show up in searches are offered by third-party sellers.
Among other promotions, Best Buy is giving fans of HBO’s “Westworld” a chance to preorder the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbook of the third season and get Steelbooks of the first two seasons for $9.99 each. According to the Best Buy website, however, the season one Steelbook is sold out. The season three Steelbook is listed with a Dec. 8 street date, although the non-exclusive versions of the season arrive in all stores Nov. 17.
Target was running a buy-two-get-one-free mix-and-match deal with movies, books, music, video games, board games and craft activities.