Merchandising: ‘Gate,’ ‘Lair’ Steelbooks at Walmart

May 14 saw Lionsgate release the horror films The Gate and The Lair of the White Worm in new Blu-ray Steelbook editions exclusively at Walmart.

Sporting the Vestron Video logo and offered at $19.96 each, the Steelbooks include the films on “Digitally Restored Blu-ray” and include a digital copy. Walmart’s website lists them as readily available both online and for in-store pickup.

In 1987’s The Gate, a pair of teenagers searching for precious stones in the backyard accidentally unearth a portal to an underground chamber of terrifying demonic evil.

In 1988’s The Lair of the White Worm, Hugh Grant stars as James, a young lord who returns to his family’s castle in England, where it is said his ancestor once slayed the local dragon — a monstrous white worm with a fondness for the sweet flesh of virgins. James dismisses the legend as folklore, until archaeology student Angus Flint discovers a massive reptilian skull and a pagan snake god’s ancient site of worship. When James’s virtuous girlfriend, Eve Trent (Catherine Oxenberg), suddenly disappears, James and Angus set out to investigate the foreboding cavern said to be the worm’s lair, where a centuries-old mystery begins to uncoil.

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‘Escape Plan’ Trilogy Due on Blu-ray Combo Pack Steelbook July 2 Exclusively at Walmart

Lionsgate will release the “Escape Plan Triple Feature” Blu-ray combo pack (plus DVD and digital) Steelbook exclusively at Walmart July 2.

The “Escape Plan” franchise stars Oscar nominee Sylvester Stallone as Ray Breslin, one of the world’s foremost security analysts who helps design the most protected and fortified prisons — and finds their security flaws by breaking out of them. 

The supporting cast in the action thrillers includes Dave Bautista, Jim Caviezel, Vincent D’Onofrio, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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Merchandising: Walmart Stores Selling ‘Bluey’ DVD Early

The DVD of the third season of the popular animated series “Bluey” isn’t slated for a wide release until May 28. However, Walmart appears to have copies of the BBC Studios release available on shelves early.

The two-disc set carries an in-store price of $14.96. Walmart’s website still lists the title as a preorder, with a $13.99 price, but indicates it as available for pickup at brick-and-mortar stores.

Otherwise it was a light week for retail exclusives or promotions. Target didn’t have any of the week’s notable releases such as The Beekeeper on shelves yet, and its weekly ad circular didn’t list them either, instead touting preorders for the upcoming disc releases of Madame Web, Ordinary Angels and Dune: Part Two.

Target also promoted kids and family movies being available for under $20.

 

Merchandising: ‘Kung Fu Panda 4’ Preorders Available

With Universal’s Kung Fu Panda 4 becoming available for premium digital purchase and rental April 9, both Target and Walmart are already taking preorders for their exclusive editions of the film’s eventual Blu-ray release.

Walmart will have the Blu-ray/DVD/Digital combo pack as a limited-edition gift set with a pack-in pair of kid-sized training chopsticks for $29.96.

Target is offering the Blu-ray combo pack with a 40-page filmmaker gallery book for $30.99.

In addition, Target was also offering a buy-two-get-one-free sale on games, books and movies when using the Target Circle feature of the chain’s app.

Merchandising: Walmart Unleashes Slew of Steelbooks

Walmart April 2 released exclusive 4K Steelbook combo packs for several titles, however most of them were available online only or listed as out of stock completely within a day of their official street date.
 
A number of them were from Lionsgate, including the Red 2-Film Collection for $34.96. The set includes the spy comedies Red (2010) and Red 2 (2013) on both Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD disc, plus digital copy codes.
 

Another Lionsgate title is a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack Steelbook for the 1995 pirate movie Cutthroat Island, also for $34.96.

Walmart’s ‘Cutthroat Island’ 4K Steelbook

Rounding out the Lionsgate selections are the first and last “Rambo” movies starring Sylvester Stallone. The 4K/Blu-ray combo pack for 1982’s First Blood is listed as $29.96, while 2019’s Rambo: Last Blood is listed at $34.99 online.

Walmart’s ‘First Blood’ 4K Steelbook
Walmart’s ‘Rambo: Last Blood’ 4K Steelbook

Also available at Walmart are exclusive 4K/Blu-ray combo packs for several Marvel Studios movies featuring box art from Mondo. These are listed at $34.96 apiece and include The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange and Black Panther.

Walmart’s ‘The Avengers’ Mondo 4K Steelbook
Walmart’s ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Mondo 4K Steelbook
Walmart’s ‘Doctor Strange’ Mondo 4K Steelbook
Walmart’s ‘Black Panther’ Mondo 4K Steelbook

Walmart has become the primary place to find new Steelbooks after Best Buy withdrew from the physical media business at the beginning of the year.

Walmart Pulls, Plans to Refile Antitrust Filing Related to $2.3 Billion Vizio Acquisition

Walmart March 27 notified federal antitrust agencies that it would voluntarily withdraw and refile the Hart-Scott-Rodino notification as part of its $2.3 billion acquisition of Irvine, Calif.-based consumer electronics manufacturer Vizio.

The filing, which was originally submitted on Feb. 26, will now be refiled on March 29, according to Walmart. As a result, the new waiting period under the HSR Antitrust Improvements Act will expire on April 29.

The refiling comes after Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in February on social media voiced concerns about deal, advocating that regulators scrutinize the transaction.

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“Walmart’s deal with @Vizio is a warning bell,” Warren posted Feb. 23 on social media. “Giant corporations are copying @Amazon’s playbook: buy or kill competitors in commerce, entertainment, and advertising. Regulators should scrutinize whether this merger will extend Walmart’s dominance and threaten competition.”

Warren, a longtime critic of corporate America, opposed the $35 billion merger of Capital One and Discover Financial. In 2022, she opposed Amazon’s $1.4 billion purchase of iRobot. The e-commerce behemoth later walked away from the deal.

Merchandising: New ‘Wish,’ ‘Aquaman’ Exclusives at Walmart

Walmart cemented its position as the new go-to retailer for 4K Steelbook exclusives with the March 12 release of Disney’s Wish and Warner’s Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.

The Steelbook edition of Disney’s new animated film Wish is a 4K Ultra HD with Blu-ray combo pack offered at $34.96. The Walmart Steelbook is the only available version of the film on 4K disc, and unlike some of the chain’s other recent Steelbook exclusives, this one was actually still in stock on release date and available through the retailer’s website.

In contrast, the Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom 4K Ultra HD with Blu-ray combo pack was also $34.96, and is the only edition of the film with both 4K and Blu-ray discs (the widely available SKUs were either standalone 4K or Blu-ray editions), but signs in the store indicated it was available at Walmart.com, where it is listed as “Out of Stock.”

Speaking of inventory issues, Amazon as of street date has already listed the brand-new 4K/Blu-ray combo packs of James Cameron’s Aliens, The Abyss and True Lies as unavailable, leaving many shoppers who preordered the titles complaining about having no idea when to expect to receive them.

Meanwhile, Target is offering a promotion for Easter-appropriate DVDs for as low as $5 each.

Merchandising: Retailers Craft ‘Wonka’ Exclusives

With Warner’s Wonka leading the new releases the week of Feb. 27, both Target and Walmart offered exclusive home video editions of the film.

Target offered the film’s Blu-ray with unique slipcover box art and collectible art cards for $27.99.

Walmart’s ‘Wonka’ 4K Steelbook

Meanwhile, Walmart offered a 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray combo pack of the film in Steelbook packaging for $34.96, yet another new 4K Steelbook migrating to Walmart in the wake of Best Buy moving away from the disc market.

Of note, the Walmart edition is the only way to get both the 4K and regular Blu-ray discs in one package. The wide-release versions are either 4K only, Blu-ray only or DVD only.

Unfortunately, both Target and Walmart have listed their exclusive editions as sold out. The Walmart Steelbook is being offered on eBay from a number of sellers in the $50 to $70 range.

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Meanwhile, in the saga of the Best Buy DVD death watch, the store in Costa Mesa, Calif., completely cleared out its packaged-media inventory in the week prior to Feb. 28, leaving behind a set of empty shelves in the middle of the store. The scene is no doubt similar at other locations as an era of physical media truly comes to an end. The chain continues to sell DVDs, Blu-ray Discs, 4K Ultra HD discs and Steelbooks on its website.

Remaining DVD/Blu-ray inventory at a Best Buy in Costa Mesa, Calif., Feb. 21
Empty DVD/Blu-ray section at a Best Buy in Costa Mesa, Calif., Feb. 28

 

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren Seeks Regulatory Scrutiny of Walmart/Vizio Acquisition

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is advocating that federal regulators scrutinize Walmart’s $2.3 billion acquisition of Irvine, Calif.-based consumer electronics manufacturer Vizio.

In a Feb. 23 social media post, Warren, who positions herself as a consumer advocate, suggests Walmart’s purchase of Vizio could stifle competition, which she believes ultimately hurts consumers.

@Walmart‘s deal with @VIZIO is a warning bell,” Warren wrote on her X (formerly Twitter) post. “Giant corporations are copying @Amazon’s playbook: buy or kill competitors in commerce, entertainment, and advertising. Regulators should scrutinize whether this merger will extend Walmart’s dominance and threaten competition.”

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Three years ago, Warren led an unsuccessful attempt to break up Amazon, claiming the e-commerce behemoth unfairly quashed competitors, resulting in a market stranglehold.

“You can either be the umpire or a player on the field. But you can’t be both. That’s what Amazon does,” Warren said in a 2021 media interview. “What’s the solution here? Break Amazon up.”

Antitrust experts at the time criticized Warren’s position as one that would ultimately hurt consumers due to price increases that would result from the elimination of the larger companies taking advantage of economies of scale.

The Walmart/Vizio transaction is subject to the usual government regulatory approval required for any major publicly-traded business merger.

Walmart Buys CE Manufacturer Vizio for $2.3 Billion

Walmart and Vizio Feb. 20 announced an agreement for Walmart to acquire the Irvine, Calif.-based consumer electronics manufacturer in a deal worth about $2.3 billion. Following the completion of the transaction, Vizio’s business will be reported as part of the Walmart U.S. segment results.

The acquisition, which includes Vizio’s SmartCast Operating System (OS), would enable Walmart to connect with its customers in new ways, including smart televisions, in-home entertainment and related media experiences such as direct marketing.

The combination is expected to accelerate Walmart’s media business in the United States, including Walmart Connect, the retailer’s closed-loop omnichannel media business, by bringing together Vizio’s advertising business with Walmart’s reach and capabilities.

Seth Dallaire, EVP and chief revenue officer of Walmart U.S., said Vizio’s operating system would afford Walmart with a profitable advertising business that could help brands create connections with the millions of weekly Walmart customers.

“We believe the combination of these two businesses would be impactful as we redefine the intersection of retail and entertainment,” Dallaire said in a statement. “There is a lot to be excited about with this acquisition.”

Vizio’s growing device ecosystem and SmartCast have amassed more than 18 million active accounts, growing about 400% since 2018. The company’s platform business claims to have more than 500 direct advertiser relationships.

“We believe this is the ideal next chapter in Vizio’s history,” Vizio CEO William Wang said in a statement. “This transaction delivers immediate and compelling value to [our] stockholders, and is a true testament to the hard work of the entire Vizio team.”

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