Merchandising: Marvelous Merch for ‘Captain Marvel’

Best Buy and Target stores offered exclusive editions of Disney’s Captain Marvel 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc combo pack upon its release June 11.

Best Buy sold the set with Steelbook packaging for $34.99.

Best Buy’s ‘Captain Marvel’ 4K Blu-ray Steelbook

Target offered the combo pack with a limited-edition 40-page filmmaker book, also for $34.99.

Target’s ‘Captain Marvel’ 4K Blu-ray combo pack
Target’s ‘Captain Marvel’ Blu-ray with booklet

Among other titles, Walmart offered a Blu-ray of Universal’s Get Out paired with a digital copy of Us. The Blu-ray of Us arrives June 18.

Best Buy’s weekly promotions included a Father’s Day sale under the banner “Dad’s Kind of Movies,” with Blu-rays for $6.99 and $9.99 each, and 4K UHD Blu-rays for $14.99 each.

Best Buy is also taking $34.99 preorders for a Steelbook 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray of Warner’s Shazam!, due July 16 on disc.

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Barnes & Noble Being Acquired by Private Fund Manager for $683 Million

As expected, Barnes & Noble, the nation’s largest brick-and-mortar bookstore, June 7 disclosed it is being acquired by Elliott Management Corp. for $683 million, including debt.

The private fund manager, which acquired Britain’s largest bookstore Waterstone in 2018, will return Barnes & Noble to privately-held status, ending Wall Street scrutiny on a company that has lost more than $1 billion in market value in the past five years.

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Waterstone CEO James Daunt will manage Barnes & Noble operations as a separate entity.

Founded in 1965, Barnes & Noble, which includes the Nook tablet and digital media business, saw  a 1.1% increase in same-store winter holiday sales, its best fiscal result in three years. At the same time, the company had just $15 million in available cash.

The company, like a lot of traditional retailers, has struggled to compete with ecommerce, notably Amazon. Indeed, the online retail behemoth reportedly accounts for about 50% of all book sales, with Walmart at 4.2%.

The deal is expected to close by the third quarter.

 

 

Merchandising: A Bag for ‘Madea’

Among the new releases for June 4, Walmart offered Lionsgate’s A Madea Family Funeral on Blu-ray with an exclusive pack-in tote bag for $19.96.

Most retail promotions for the week, however, focused on sales of catalog titles, many with a Father’s Day theme.

Best Buy’s weekly ad showed a selection of DVDs and Blu-rays starting at $6.99 under the banner “These are dad favorites.” Titles included a John Wayne collection, Jaws and The Dark Knight Trilogy.

A Target in Tustin, Calif., wheeled out a DVD/Blu-ray kiosk with Father’s Day signage and such titles as Glass, Get Out, The Mule and The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part.

Target also had select 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc titles for as low as $15 each.

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Walmart Names Former Amazon and Google Exec CTO

Walmart has appointed Suresh Kumar to a “new elevated” chief technology officer and chief development officer role reporting directly to president and CEO Doug McMillon, according to the company.

“Kumar joins at a time when Walmart is rapidly transforming its customer and associate experiences, and he brings more than 25 years of technology leadership experience coming from Google, Microsoft, Amazon and IBM,” read the Walmart press release.

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“The technology of today and tomorrow enables us to serve our customers and associates in ways that weren’t previously possible. We want to take full advantage of those opportunities,” said McMillon in a statement. “Suresh has a unique understanding of the intersection of technology and retail, including supply chain, and has deep experience in advertising, cloud and machine learning. And, he has a track record of working in partnership with business teams to drive results.”

“Walmart is one of the great success stories in how a company evolves over time to serve the changing needs of its customers, and today, it is in the midst of a very exciting digital transformation,” said Kumar in a statement. “With more than 11,000 stores, a high-growth eCommerce business and more than 2 million associates worldwide, the potential for technology to help people at scale is unparalleled, and I am excited to be part of this.”

Kumar was most recently at Google, serving as VP and GM of display, video, app ads and analytics. Prior to joining Google, he was the corporate VP of Microsoft’s cloud infrastructure and operations. Kumar spent 15 years at Amazon in various leadership roles, including VP of technology for retail systems and operations, and he led Amazon’s retail supply chain and inventory management systems. Before joining Amazon, he was a research staff member at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center.

Kumar holds a doctorate in Engineering from Princeton University and a Bachelor of Technology from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.

Merchandising: Best Buy Builds ‘Field of Dreams’ Steelbook

Retailers largely stayed away from adding exclusives to any of the May 14 new releases, though Best Buy hoped consumers would come for the Field of Dreams Steelbook 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray it had built.

Best Buy ‘Field of Dreams’ Steelbook 4K UHD Blu-ray

The Steelbook edition of Universal Pictures’ new 30th anniversary 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack, which also comes with a regular Blu-ray and a digital copy, was offered at $21.99 by Best Buy.

Best Buy ‘Godzilla’ Steelbook 4K UHD Blu-ray

Best Buy also has a $24.99 Steelbook edition of the new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release of 1998’s Godzilla from Sony Pictures.

Best Buy is also taking preorders for Steelbook 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbook editions of the three “Toy Story” movies, due June 4 at $34.99 each.

Walmart offered a free digital copy of Top Five, redeemable through Vudu, with Paramount’s What Men Want.

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Merchandising: ‘Lego Movie 2’ Builds Retail Interest

Target ‘Lego Movie 2’ Blu-ray with minifigs

Each of the big three home entertainment retail chains offered exclusive editions of Warner’s The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part on May 7. Two of them included Lego mini-figures based on the movie.

Target stores had the Blu-ray combo pack with lenticular box art and limited-edition Rex minifigure with Plantimal Ambush for $27.99.

Walmart ‘Lego Movie 2’ Blu-ray with minifig
Walmart single-disc ‘Lego Movie 2’ DVD

Walmart offered the Blu-ray combo pack with a pack-in Emmet’s ‘Piece’ Offering minifig for $29.96.

Walmart also had a $16.96 single-disc DVD version of the film, as opposed to the widely released DVD special edition that includes deleted scenes, a music video and a behind-the-scenes featurette for just about $1 more. Walmart’s DVD includes just the featurette.

Best Buy ‘Lego Movie 2’ Blu-ray Steelbook

Best Buy, as is typical for the chain, had a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack in Steelbook packaging for $29.99.

Among preorders, Best Buy is offering a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbook of Disney’s Dumbo for $34.99.

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Best Buy ‘Dumbo’ Steelbook

Walmart’s Vudu.com Eyeing Original Content

Walmart may have shelved plans to launch a branded over-the-top streaming service, but the world’s largest retailer isn’t stepping away from producing content.

Bloomberg report said Walmart plans to produce upwards of half a dozen original series it would stream exclusively on Vudu.com – the transactional VOD service it acquired in 2010.

With Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu dominating the domestic SVOD market, streaming services are entering the content space in an effort to lure and retain subscribers with original content.

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Vudu is an established brand that sells and rents Hollywood digital movies, similar to iTunes, Redbox On Demand, Google Play, Prime Video, Microsoft Movies and TV, Fandango Now and Comcast Xfinity, among others.

Streaming original ad-supported content could expand digital transactions while luring incremental foot traffic to the platform. It could also help Walmart generate incremental advertising revenue in an OTT market where Netflix and Amazon don’t sell ads.

“[Vudu has] struggled to figure out [its] role in the new streaming environment,” Edward Yruma, analyst at KeyBanc Capital markets, told Bloomberg. “Walmart sells almost 50%of all TVs in the United States, so clearly they have some opportunities to better leverage the purchase.”

Similarly to Apple’s pending subscription streaming service, AppleTV+, which will feature original programming, Walmart is reportedly talking to Hollywood content creators about series that would appeal to families, kids, young couples and parents.

“A lot of advertisers haven’t worked with Vudu before, but having a new name out there, and having that name connected to Walmart, should spark interest,” said Andy Stone, VP at Horizon Media, who clients include Geico insurance and Corona beer, among others.

Walmart Teases One-Day Shipping

The shipping delivery war took another turn after Walmart went to social media to hint it would match Amazon’s decision to switch from free two-day shipping for Prime members to one-day deliveries.

“One-day free shipping … without a membership fee. Now THAT would be groundbreaking. Stay tuned,” Walmart tweeted April 26 the day after Amazon disclosed it would spend upwards of $800 million upgrading internal and external shipping capacity for one-day shipments.

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Amazon charges $119 annually for its Prime membership, which includes free access to movies and TV shows on Amazon Prime Video, music on Prime Music and two-hour delivery (for a fee) for Prime Now store deliveries, among other features.

Amazon’s announcement had a ripple effect on retail stocks, sending Walmart and Target shares down 1.9% and 5.7%, respectively, in April 26 trading.

The switch is expected to put added pressure on big box retailers such as Best Buy, Office Depot and Dick’s Sporting Goods, among others.

Merchandising: ‘Glass’ Among Several Retailer Exclusives

Best Buy’s ‘Glass’ Blu-ray with art cards

The big three retailers offered exclusive editions for several of the titles released April 16.

For Universal’s Glass, Target offered a $27.99 Blu-ray combo pack with box art by Alex Ross and Steelbook packaging.

Target’s ‘Glass’ Steelbook

Best Buy, which is typically known for Steelbook exclusives, instead offered the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack of Glass with special slipcover art and three art cards of the main characters from the film.

Walmart’s exclusive was a triple-feature Blu-ray of M. Night Shyamalan’s “Eastrail 177 Trilogy,” grouping Glass with predecessors Unbreakable and Split, for $29.96. Eastrail 177 is the name of the train that derails in the first film, Unbreakable.

Target’s ‘Justice League vs. The Fatal Five’ Steelbook

Target had another Steelbook edition during the week, in the form of Warner’s Justice League vs. The Fatal Five Blu-ray combo pack.

Best Buy ‘Justice League vs The Fatal Five’ Blu-ray with Star Boy figure

Best Buy offered the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray of the animated superhero film with a pack-in Star Boy fiture for $33.99.

A third title to arrive during the week with retail exclusive editions was Funimation’s Dragon Ball Super: Broly — The Movie. Best Buy had a Steelbook edition of the Blu-ray for $27.99, while Walmart had lenticular box art for $19.96.

Best Buy’s ‘Dragon Ball Super: Broly’ Steelbook

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Merchandising: Ferrell and Reilly Pairing Is Elementary for Walmart

In a week highlighted by a modest slate of new releases, retailers didn’t put out much in the way of exclusives April 9.

The most notable was Walmart’s tie into Sony Pictures’ new Holmes & Watson and its stars Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly. Walmart offered a $22.96 DVD collection of three movies that teamed Ferrell and Reilly: Holmes & Watson, Step Brothers and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.

Otherwise, retailers focused on promoting sales of catalog titles.

Target touted previous seasons of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” in the lead-up to the debut of the final season. In addition to DVDs and Blu-rays of the show for as low as $14.99, many Targets have devoted significant space in the collectibles section of the electronics department to “Game of Thrones” merchandise, including new action figures, puzzles, games, plush dire wolves and more.

Best Buy touted previously released Steelbook editions and preorders for upcoming titles such as DreamWorks’ How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.

Best Buy has an exclusive 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray of Warner’s Pandas documentary, due April 16 at $29.99. The film was released widely through digital retailers on April 9.