Merchandising: Retailers Rest Post-‘Avengers’

Retailers didn’t offer much in the way of exclusives for the new releases of Aug. 20, instead keeping a lot of shelf space dedicated to Disney’s Avengers: Endgame. Many of those shelves were empty, however, as fans continued to buy the superhero movie at a brisk pace.

One exclusive that did show up during the week came at Walmart, which offered a $22.96 two-DVD set pairing Universal’s A Dog’s Purpose with its newly released sequel, A Dog’s Journey. 

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Otherwise, Best Buy continued to tout preorders of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbooks at $34.99 each of upcoming titles, including Universal’s The Secret Life of Pets 2, Fox’s X-Men: Dark Phoenix, Warner’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Paramount’s Rocketman and Lionsgate’s John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum.

Best Buy also has an exclusive Steelbook of the upcoming 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray of Warner’s The Wizard of Oz.

Walmart Posts Healthy Second-Quarter 2019 Financials

Walmart, the nation’s biggest brick-and-mortar retailer of DVDs and Blu-ray Discs, on Aug. 15 reported gains in both second-quarter earnings and revenue, with same-store sales up a healthy 2.8% and e-commerce sales in U.S. stores up 37%.

The company also raised its outlook for the full year.

“Customers are responding to the improvements we’re making, the productivity loop is working, and we’re gaining market share,” CEO Doug McMillon said in a statement.

Walmart noted that on a two-year stacked basis, same-store sales were up 7.3%, the strongest growth in more than 10 years.

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Net income rose to $3.61 billion, or $1.26 per share, compared with a net loss of $861 million, or 29 cents a share, in the second quarter of 2018. Excluding one-time items, Walmart earned $1.27 a share, 5 cents more than expected.

Total revenue climbed 1.8% to $130.38 billion from $128.03 billion a year earlier, beating analyst expectations for sales of $130.11 billion.

In the United States, net sales grew 2.9% to $85.20 billion from $82.82 billion a year earlier.

Read or download Walmart’s financial presentation to management

The nation’s largest retailer continues to lead in DVD and Blu-ray Disc sales, devoting  significant retail space to the category, including point-of-purchase displays and ubiquitous dump bins.

“We still sell a lot of DVDs at Walmart,” Thomas Hughes, EVP of worldwide TV & digital distribution at Lionsgate, told attendees Dec. 11 at the Parks Associates’ “Future of Video” confab in Marina del Rey, Calif. “We’re on the coasts, so we don’t see it. But other people still buy DVDs.”

On an Aug. 15 earnings call with analysts to discuss the latest financial results, Greg Foran, Walmart US president and CEO, said, “We saw a strong growth in grocery … and general merchandise comps. They were up despite softness from some of weather-sensitive categories like lawn and garden and apparel. We’re really pleased with market share gains across grocery and general merchandise.” The general merchandise category includes DVDs and Blu-ray Discs.

Merchandising: The ‘Endgame’ of Exclusives

The biggest movie of all time, Disney’s Avengers: Endgame, landed on Blu-ray Aug. 13 and was unsurprisingly accompanied by a number of retailer exclusives.

Best Buy’s ‘Avengers: Endgame’ 4K Blu-ray Steelbook

Best Buy offered a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbook of the superhero movie for $34.99, as well as a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbook collection of all four “Avengers” films for $149.99 (Steelbook versions of the four films with a Steelbook outer case).

Best Buy’s ‘Avengers’ Steelbook boxed set

Best Buy also touted Steelbook 4K Blu-rays for previous Marvel Cinematic Universe films.

Target has the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack of the film in special packaging with an Avengers Initiative: A Look Back book for $34.99.

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Walmart didn’t focus on “Avengers” for its exclusives, but instead had a couple of two-packs pairing digital copies of new movies with a Blu-ray of a similar film.

For $29.96 fans could pick up the digital copy of Universal’s The Secret Life of Pets 2, redeemable through Vudu, paired with the Blu-ray/DVD/digital code for 2016’s The Secret Life of Pets.

Another two-pack, priced at $22.96, had the Vudu digital copy of Paramount’s Rocketman paired with a digital version of the unrated version of Almost Famous and the theatrical cut of Almost Famous on Blu-ray.

Roku Manufacturing Walmart-Branded Streaming Video Devices

Lost in Roku’s recent impressive financial results was disclosure that the streaming media device manufacturer and operating software platform is working with Walmart to roll out branded hardware.

“We recently agreed with Walmart to offer several new Roku devices, including audio [speaker] products to their customers under their Onn brand,” CEO Andy Wood and CFO Steve Louden wrote in the shareholder letter. “This is in addition to Roku TVs and Roku players already sold through Walmart.”

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Roku manufactures OEM streaming hardware and sticks for Comcast/Sky-owned Now TV, among other European customers. The OS platform will be at the heart of NBC Universal’s pending streaming service.

Roku also remains one of the largest smart TV  brands due to its embedded OS platform in myriad third-party TVs, including Philips, RCA, JVC, Hitachi, Sharp, TCL and other Chinese-made units — many sold in Walmart.

The Roku platform revenue continues to drive the company’s growth at the expense of loss-leading hardware sales.

Platform (ad-supported) revenue in the second quarter (ended June 30) skyrocketed 89% to $167.7 million, while streaming device (hardware) revenue increased 24% to $82.4 million from $66.5 million last year.

Indeed, The Roku Channel has become one of the largest AVOD platforms delivering free, largely third-party catalog content.

With Walmart reportedly killing efforts to produce original content and a branded streaming video service around Vudu, partnering with Roku could help the world’s largest brick-and-mortar retailer remain relevant in the digital age.

It could also help Roku grow its 30 million active monthly accounts.

 

Merchandising: A ‘Hush’ Falls Over Retail Exclusives

Retailers offered exclusive editions for several of the new releases Aug. 6.

For Warner Bros. Home Entertainment’s Batman: Hush, Target offered the Blu-ray combo pack in exclusive Steelbook packaging for $19.99.

Target’s ‘Batman: Hush’ Steelbook

Best Buy offered the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray of the animated Batman movie as a 29.99 gift set with a pack-in Hush character figurine.

Best Buy’s ‘Batman: Hush’ gift set with figurine

For Warner’s Pokémon Detective Pikachu, Best Buy offered the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray in Steelbook packaging for $34.99. Best Buy also had an exclusive 3D Blu-ray combo pack for $29.99.

Best Buy’s ‘Pokémon Detective Pikachu’ Steelbook

Walmart had a $22.96 Blu-ray of 2014’s Godzilla paired with a Vudu digital copy of Godzilla: King of the Monsters.

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Merchandising: ‘Alita’ Joins Exclusives Battle

The new releases of July 23 included a few retail exclusives for Fox’s Alita: Battle Angel and Lionsgate’s Hellboy remake.

Best Buy offered Steelbook editions for the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo packs for both films, with Alita listed at $34.99 and Hellboy at $29.99. The Alita Steelbook, which like the standard-edition 4K included a 3D version of the film, was marked as sold out on the Best Buy website.

Best Buy’s ‘Alita’ UHD/3D BD Steelbook
Best Buy’s ‘Hellboy’ UHD BD Steelbook

Target also offered a Steelbook for Hellboy, packaging the Blu-ray/DVD combo pack in a “limited-edition double-sided Steelbook” for $24.99.

Target’s ‘Hellboy’ BD Steelbook
Target’s ‘Hellboy’ BD Steelbook sides

For Alita, Target packed special versions of the Blu-ray ($22.99) and 4K/3D Blu-ray ($32.99) with a USB-charging wristband that appears to be iPhone compatible.

Target’s ‘Alita’ UHD/3D BD with USB wristband

Walmart sold a limited-edition Alita “Motorball” Blu-ray gift set that included a Funko Pocket Pop! keychain for $29.96.

Walmart’s ‘Alita’ BD with keychain

For the Hellboy Blu-ray combo pack, Walmart offered a digital graphic novel.

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Among preorders, Best Buy is offering a Steelbook 4K UHD Blu-ray boxed set for the first four “Avengers” film for $149.99. Best Buy’s website doesn’t list a release date, although Disney releases Avengers: Endgame on Blu-ray Aug. 13.

Best Buy’s ‘Avengers’ Steelbook boxed set

Merchandising: The Magic Word is ‘Shazam!’

Retailers offered a couple of exclusives for Warner’s Shazam! upon its Blu-ray release July 16.

Best Buy had an exclusive 3D Blu-ray combo pack of Shazam! for $29.99, in addition to a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbook for $34.99.

Walmart offered a $29.96 gift set of the Shazam! Blu-ray combo pack with a pack-on Funko Pocket Pop keychain of the main character. Walmart also sold a single-disc DVD version with just a single “Who Is Shazam?” featurette for $16.96, as opposed to the regularly available two-disc special-edition DVD with the full range of extras for $1 more everywhere else.

Target continued to offer 20% off movies on Blu-ray and DVD, excluding new releases, through July 20 via the Cartwheel coupon function on the Target app.

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Hellboy Resurfaces

Fifteen years after the first film and numerous comic book movies later, producers felt Hellboy was ready for a comeback — with a darker hero, a new focus on adhering to the source material and involvement by creator Mike Mignola.

Lionsgate’s reimagining of Hellboy is available now digitally and on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc (with Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos audio) July 23 including deleted scenes and previsualizations. The Blu-ray and digital versions also include the making-of documentary featurette “Tales of the Wild Hunt: Hellboy Reborn.”

“I loved the story, and I loved that it was based very much on the comics,” says David Harbour (Hellboy) in the featurette, adding “it’s a Hellboy with more internal struggle, with more sort of torture.”

“For me it’s actually fun to kind of get a second chance to create Hellboy,” comic creator Mignola, who is also an executive producer on the film, says in the featurette. “We’re doing in some ways some-thing that’s much more close to my material, but we’re creating a new variation on the Mike Mignola Hellboy.”

Based on the Dark Horse comic book created by Mignola, the film finds the half-demon super-hero Hellboy as he is called to the English countryside to battle a trio of rampaging giants and finds himself confronting an ancient sorceress (Milla Jovovich). The film also stars Ian McShane, Sasha Lane, Daniel Dae Kim and Thomas Haden Church.

The 2010 comic anthology Hellboy Vol. 9: The Wild Hunt, which reveals Hellboy’s origin story, is one of the inspirations for the film.

“The story of Hellboy is baked into the story of the Wild Hunt,” producer Lloyd Levin says in the featurette.

Much of the dialog, in fact, is taken directly from the comics.

“It created an opportunity to do a Hellboy movie that was more faithful to what Mike Mignola had created,” he adds.

“This one feels very different than the other films,” Mignola says. “While it’s not a direct adaptation of one of my stories, it’s taken so many pieces of so many of my stories and fit them together in a way that really works.”

McShane, who plays Professor Trevor “Broom” Bruttenholm and father figure to Hellboy, also notes the comic influence in his character.

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“They’ve made this character more like the original sort of Indiana Jonesy kind of character that he was when he found Hellboy,” he says in the featurette.

As part of her preparation for her role of Nimue, the Blood Queen, Jovovich went out and bought hardbound editions of several comic collections. “The illustrations are phenomenal,” she says. “I saw how beautifully they were done, and how much heart and soul the stories had, and thought, wow, we could really do something great here.”

Going back to the source was a mantra for the Lionsgate marketing team as well. In keeping with the strategy of staying close to the comics, the team created retail exclusives with unique custom artwork and other extras to harken back to the film’s comic book roots:

BEST BUY:

Hellboy comic creator Mignola designed artwork exclusively for the Best Buy 4K UHD Combo Pack Steelbooks.

WALMART:

With purchase of the 4K UHD  Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack or DVD at Walmart, Hellboy fans receive a PIN on their receipt for the download of Mike Mignola’s comic Hellboy: The Wild Hunt — the inspiration for the film. The comic is redeemable through Walmart’s Kobo e-reader or through Rakuten Kobo’s eBooks app on mobile.

TARGET:

The Target Blu-ray Combo Pack  double-sided Steelbook features  collectible poster art.

Merchandising: Best Buy Touts Superheroes and Steelbooks for July 4 Week

With studios holding back major new releases during the week of the July 4 holiday, retailers resorted to the time-honored tradition of sales for catalog titles and recent releases.

Best Buy’s weekly ad ran a “Summer’s for superheroes” banner touting Marvel 4K Blu-rays and Steelbook editions.

Best Buy also plugged $34.99 preorders for the exclusive 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbook editions of Avengers: Endgame, due Aug. 13, and Spider-Man: Far From Home, which hits theaters this week.

Other Steelbook preordres include John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum, Shazam!, Alita: Battle Angel, Pokémon Detective Pikachu and Toy Story 4.

Another banner promoted “Disney movies the kids will love, listing recent Blu-rays for the animated Cinderella, the live-action Dumbo, and 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays of the “Toy Story” movies.

Another sale offered recent releases such as The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, Us and Happy Death Day 2U for as low as $12.99 each.

To tie-in with the new “Spider-Man” movie, Best Buy gave fans who bought a “Spider-Man” or “Venom” movie the option to buy a second for 50% off.

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Best Buy also sold an LG UBK90 4K Blu-ray player with three select 4K movies for $249.99.

Walmart offered a Wonder Woman Blu-ray/Digital combo pack paired with a Vudu digital copy of Warner’s new-to-digital Shazam! for $27.96.

Merchandising: ‘Wonder Park,’ ‘Us’ Gain Slight Retail Interest

For the week of June 18, most stores still had their displays focused on Blu-rays of Walt Disney Studios’ Captain Marvel, released the previous week. Still, a couple of the week’s new releases managed to earn exclusive editions at some of the big retailers.

Walmart’s ‘Wonder Park’ Blu-ray with plush

Walmart was selling a gift set of the Blu-ray Disc combo pack of Paramount’s animated Wonder Park that included a plush “Wonder Chimp Backpack Clip” for $24.96.

Best Buy offered a Steelbook edition for the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack of Universal Pictures’ horror movie Us for $32.99.

Best Buy’s ‘Us’ 4K Blu-ray Steelbook

Best Buy is also taking preorders on a slew of upcoming Steelbook editions for movies that are still in theaters. Titles listed at $34.99 include 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbooks of Fox’s Dark Phoenix, Disney’s Avengers: Endgame and Aladdin, Warner’s Shazam! and Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Paramount’s Rocketman and Pet Sematary, Universal’s The Secret Life of Pets 2, Lionsgate’s Hellboy, as well as a 3D/4K combo pack of Fox’s Alita: Battle Angel.

There’s also a listing for a $59.99 Steelbook 4K Blu-ray of HBO’s Game of Thrones: Season 8.

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