Merchandising: Walmart Offers ‘John Wick’ Trilogy With Playing Cards

The week of March 7 wasn’t a big one for new DVD and Blu-ray releases, though there were a few exclusives of note.

Walmart is offering a boxed set of the first three “John Wick” films packed with a deck of branded playing cards that notes they are similar to cards that appear in the upcoming John Wick: Chapter 4, which is due in theaters March 24.

The trilogy sets from Lionsgate are available on DVD for $19.96, a Blu-ray/DVD/Digital combo pack also for $29.96, or a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with digital copy set for $39.96. The sets include a coupon for an $8 discount on the cost of a Chapter 4 movie ticket when purchased via

The playing cards are a set of Theory 11’s readily available Artisan Guild Black Edition cards, wrapped in a “John Wick” branded cover.

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Target has its own exclusive “John Wick” Blu-ray combo packs in the form of individual releases of each chapter for $9.99 each with box art centered on the dogs from each film: Daisy the beagle from John Wick, Dog the pitbull from John Wick: Chapter 2, and Sophia’s two Belgian Mallinois from John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum. The “John Wick” exclusives were released Feb. 28, at the same time as the previously reported Best Buy Steelbook trilogy stash box, but the stores have been wildly inconsistent about putting them on shelves on time, if at all.

Target is also offering 20% off movies and books to shoppers using the Target Circle app.

Best Buy released its Rocky II 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbook combo pack for $29.99, the standalone 4K version of the sequel that was otherwise released on Ultra HD disc only as part of a four-film “Rocky” set by MGM and Warner on Feb. 28.

Best Buy’s ‘Rocky II’ 4K Steelbook

Analyst: Walmart+ Subscription Service on the Rebound

Walmart’s subscription-based membership service, Walmart+, saw modest uptick in subscribers to an estimated 18.4 million members, according to Wall Street investment firm Morgan Stanley, which cited an internal survey. The tally is still below the all-time high of 18.6 million subs last September.

Walmart+, which launched in 2019 offering free shipping on select items, Black Friday pricing, free access to the Paramount+ streaming video service, and limited access to the Spotify music streaming platform, costs $98 annually, or $13 monthly.

Analyst Simeon Gutman believes U.S. household penetration for Walmart+ hovers around 14%, and has seen choppy growth since 2021.

“Still, over that time period membership has grown by a cumulative 5 million members, equating to 250,000 net new members per month on average,” Gutman wrote in a note, adding that he believes the total addressable market for Walmart+ is 30 million members.

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Merchandising: ‘Puss in Boots: The Last Wish’ Blu-ray Exclusives Available

Two of the big national home entertainment retailers offered exclusive editions for Universal Pictures’ Puss in Boots: The Last Wish packaged-media release Feb. 28.

Both involved the Blu-ray/DVD/Digital combo pack of the film.

Target’s ‘Puss in Boots: The Last Wish’ Blu-ray with gallery book

Target had the Puss in Boots: The Last Wish Blu-ray packed with a 40-page filmmaker gallery book for $26.99.

Walmart offered the Puss in Boots: The Last Wish Blu-ray combo pack as a gift set with Puss and Perro squeeze toys for $29.96.

Best Buy didn’t have a Puss in Boots exclusive, but did have exclusive editions of several catalog movies on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray in Steelbook packaging.

A 4K Steelbook of 1976’s Rocky from MGM and Warner was offered at $29.99.

Best Buy’s ‘Rocky’ 4K Steelbook

The 4K Steelbook for Warner’s Training Day was offered at $32.99.

Best Buy’s ‘Training Day’ 4K Steelbook

And a Steelbook collection of the first three “John Wick” movies on 4K disc was offered at $79.99.

Best Buy’s ‘John Wick 1-3 Stash Book Collection’ 4K Steelbook

Target had another exclusive promotion in the form of a $10 gift card for shoppers who purchased both the Blu-ray of Sony Pictures’ Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody for $24.99, and Target’s exclusive sky blue vinyl LP of Houston’s 1987 sophomore album Whitney for $27.99.

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Merchandising: ‘Wakanda Forever’ Exclusives Arrive

Feb. 7 saw the release of Disney-owned Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD disc, and there were a few retailer exclusive editions from which fans could choose.

Best Buy had two of them, both exclusive Steelbook editions of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack with separate box art from artist Dorothea Taylor, one featuring Wakanda warriors and the other, the underwater world of Talokan. Best Buy’s in-store display implored shoppers to “Collect Them Both!” — an easy enough suggestion for the retailer to make at $38.99 apiece.

Best Buy’s ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ 4K Steelbooks

Walmart offered an exclusive 4K Ultra HD edition with custom artwork and a limited-edition Black Panther enamel pin for $34.96.

Walmart’s ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ 4K Blu-ray with enamel pin

Target didn’t have an exclusive for the Wakanda Forever Blu-ray, but did offer an exclusive version of the film’s soundtrack on vinyl for $38.99, as well as 30% off select “Black Panther” toys.

In addition, Target ran a buy-one-get-one-50% off promotion on qualifying movies, books, video games, puzzles, board games and activity kits.

Best Buy had another exclusive during the week in the form of a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbook combo pack for Disney’s Encanto, with artwork marking the Walt Disney studio’s 100th anniversary, for $29.99.

Best Buy’s ‘Encanto’ 4K Disney 100 Steelbook

Walmart had its own Disney 100-year exclusives, offering the new Mickey & Minnie: 10 Classic Shorts Vol. 1 Blu-ray, as well as catalog titles such as The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Moana, Frozen and Toy Story on Blu-ray packed with a collectible pin for $19.96 each.

Merchandising: Best Buy Taking Preorders for ‘Strange World’ Steelbook

There wasn’t much of note among the Jan. 24 DVD and Blu-ray Disc slate to impact retail new-release displays.

Shelves at quite a few Southern California Targets and Walmarts continued to look neglected. Even when the displays had shelf tags for the week’s new releases, it was a fair question as to whether those slots being empty was less due to the store selling out its inventory and more a factor of the understaffed clerks not bringing the discs out to the floor to begin with.

The week’s biggest new title, Universal’s Violent Night, was even listed as available online only by Target’s website.

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Meanwhile, Best Buy continues to take preorders for upcoming Steelbook exclusives. The latest touted by the chain’s website was Disney’s Strange World, arriving Feb. 14. Best Buy’s 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack in exclusive Steelbook packaging is listed at $39.99.

The animated film follows a squabbling family of adventurers who journey to a far-off land in order to locate more sources of a plant that is their society’s key energy source.

Walmart Partners With NGL Collective to Foster Latino Filmmakers

NGL Collective, a digital media and entertainment destination for Latinos in America, has announced a new partnership with Walmart on an incubator to foster Latino filmmakers. 

The program will provide eight Latino filmmakers with resources that will help them prepare and better position themselves in front of Hollywood studios and producers. The program will also provide mentorship from the co-founder of NGL Collective, actor, writer and producer John Leguizamo, who will bring firsthand experience.

Mitú, which merged with NGL earlier this year, will provide filmmaker mentees access to mitúStudios, based in Los Angeles, where they will have the opportunity to work alongside other Latino creators on multiple projects, including the development, production and editing of their short films. Development materials created include three-act structures, story circles, scripts, shot lists, storyboards and production design mood boards.

“Walmart recognizes Latinos are a critical part of this country’s creativity, inspiration and culture,” D.J. Vaughn, director of multicultural marketing partnerships at Walmart U.S., said in a statement. “In looking to support this community and amplify authentic experiences, we could think of no better partner than NGL Collective.”

“Walmart understands Latinos play a critical role in shaping American culture, and mitú is the most authentic, credible destination for them in the United States,” Joe Bernard, chief revenue officer at NGL Collective, said in a statement. “This partnership continues NGL’s work of helping America’s top companies tap into this community with intention and purpose that matters while delivering results for both businesses and consumers nationwide.”

The program was born out of MAPA, mitú’s Accelerator Program for the Arts, and will take participants through the entire storytelling process, including writing and directing, alongside chief creative officer and award-winning director Ben DeJesus.

To further support each mentee, Walmart will provide each of them with a “Creator Kit” consisting of a GoPro camera, sound equipment, lighting equipment and more.

“I am excited to play a role in the development of these young Latino filmmakers and am excited to see firsthand the impact that this program will make in the media and entertainment industry,” Leguizamo said in a statement. “While there is still progress to be made, these are the kinds of efforts that increase Latinx representation in the entertainment industry in front of and behind the camera. NGL Collective and our mitú platform is more committed than ever to being a part of the solution for more inclusion within the industry.”

Latinos  continue to be vastly underrepresented, with only 7% of film leads going to Latino actors, according to the latest UCLA Hollywood Diversity Report.

“As a Latino in media, I see the value this program brings to young filmmakers,” said Ben DeJesus, chief creative officer at NGL Collective. “When I began my career, there wasn’t anything like it and now with the help of our partners at Walmart, we’re delivering the promise of storytelling in the language of each individual’s experiences through their voices and talents.”

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The program is an accelerated seven-week film program running from November to January. Eight filmmakers were chosen from a call for submissions on mitú’s social platforms, as well as from a network of colleges and universities across the nation. Candidates were chosen based on their personal stories and creative vision. Out of 75 submissions, 40 candidates were interviewed to arrive at the final eight.   

The selected mentees come from California, New York, Texas and Virginia. Each aspiring filmmaker brings a unique set of experiences. Examples include a Director’s Assistant on Lucasfilm projects, a Columbia University student studying film, and an apprentice to their wedding videographer father. Each mentee has some familiarity with the entertainment industry, and each of them is aspiring to establish their creative voice and tell their own stories.  

Paramount Looking to Extend Streaming Brand Across All Consumer Access Points

Since rebranding erstwhile subscription streaming platform CBS All Access to Paramount+ less than two years ago, the service has tracked the fastest subscriber growth across the entire SVOD market, which includes Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video, Peacock and HBO Max. The service ended the most-recent fiscal period with 46 million subscribers, which, when combined with Showtime Anytime, BET+ and Noggin, totaled 67 million subs worldwide for the company’s SVOD digital footprint.

Paramount’s ad-supported free streaming service, Pluto TV, ended the period with 72 million monthly active users globally.

To generate subscriber growth, Paramount has aggressively sought out third-party companies to introduce the Paramount+ service to wider audiences, including Prime Channels (access to Amazon’s massive Prime membership), Walmart+ (free streaming members), and free access to international passengers on British Airways and most recently, domestic travelers on Delta Air Lines, one the nation’s largest carriers handling 50 million passengers annually.

To Jeff Schultz, chief strategy officer and chief business development officer of Paramount Streaming, the moves underscore the media company’s goal to expose subscription streaming and free, ad-supported content to a diverse consumer base across the world’s largest retailer, e-commerce platform and airline. 

With streaming the focus among Paramount’s content studios, brands, franchises, ad sales and distribution, product and technology in 30 markets around the globe, being able to attract a household of users (rather than individuals) through diversity of content such as kids content, procedurals, sports and news, is a competitive advantage , according to Schultz.

In addition to the “Top Gun,” “Paw Patrol,” “Scream,” “Sonic the Hedgehog” and “Mission: Impossible” movies, Paramount+ offers access to TV franchises such as Criminal Minds,” “SpongeBob,” “NCIS,” “CSI” and “Yellowstone.”

“Paramount brings a unique level of creativity and ambition to deal-making and we’re not satisfied unless we’re doing deals that are different and differentiated from others,” Schultz said in the company’s “Stream On” interview.

The executive contends that the diversity of content, franchises and distribution are all distinct competitive advantages that money can’t buy.

A franchise is not a decision, it’s an asset,” Schultz said. “What the streaming market has shown us in recent years is that money is not enough. We bring that to streaming as a unique competitive advantage over even the biggest streamers.”

Merchandising: ‘Black Adam’ Exclusives Unleashed

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment’s Black Adam arrived at retail Jan. 3 with exclusive editions offered by all three major national brick-and-mortar home entertainment retailers.

The film, based on DC Comics characters, stars Dwayne Johnson as an ancient champion awakened in modern times after a 5,000-year imprisonment for using his powers for vengeance.

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Walmart released a gift set of the film’s 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack in a gift set with a Funko Pop of the Black Adam character for $39.96.

Best Buy, as usual, offered a Steelbook edition of the 4K combo pack for $35.99.

Best Buy’s ‘Black Adam’ 4K Steelbook

Target had the Black Adam Blu-ray/DVD combo pack with exclusive box art and collectible character cards for $26.99. Fans could easily order the set online if their local Target didn’t bother to reset the new-release shelf on time.

Target’s ‘Black Adam’ Blu-ray with character cards

Entire ‘Orange Is the New Black’ Series on DVD Feb. 28 in Walmart Exclusive

The “Orange Is the New Black” complete series DVD collection arrives Feb. 28 exclusively at Walmart from Lionsgate.

The complete collection contains every episode of the four-time Primetime Emmy winner and its story of Piper Chapman, a public relations executive with a career, a fiancé — and a wild past involving a suitcase full of drug money. Sentenced to a federal women’s penitentiary, Piper slowly adjusts to her new reality of arbitrary rules and petty cruelties. On the inside are heartbroken, hilarious, eccentric characters — Pennsatucky, Red, Crazy Eyes, Taystee and a host of others — who challenge everything Piper believes in, especially herself.

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Merchandising: Holiday Movies 50% Off at Target

Dec. 20 didn’t see much action in the way of new releases, so Target touted a lineup of select holiday movies for up to 50% off.

Titles include A Charlie Brown Christmas, A Christmas Story, Elf, Love Actually, Home Alone and more on DVD or Blu-ray, many in collectible slipcovers with exclusive box art.

Best Buy touted preorders for exclusive 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack Steelbook editions of Universal’s Halloween Ends, due Dec. 27 at $32.99, and Warner’s Black Adam, due Jan. 3 at $35.99.

Speaking of Halloween Ends, some Southern California Walmart’s were seen with the title already stocked on shelves a week early. This comes in the wake of “House of the Dragon” discs seen on shelves a week prior to that title’s Dec. 20 release date.

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