Merchandising: Pandemic Feeds Catalog Clearance Sales

With depressed foot traffic due to the coronavirus pandemic, retailers are touting deep discounts in an effort to clear some catalog titles.

Best Buy, which has been relegated mostly to online business but still offers curbside pickups, gave a savings of $30 to shoppers who bought both Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker on Blu-ray ($24.99) or 4K Ultra HD ($29.99) with the Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order video game. With the game priced at $39.99, that essentially means the movie is free, although the more-expensive Steelbook ($34.99) and the nine-movie boxed set ($249.99) also meet the terms of the promotion.

Another sale at Best Buy offers $5 off an additional movie when buying a Blu-ray or 4K UHD version of Universal’s Dolittle or Cats. A list of eligible titles is available at BestBuy.com.

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Different deals could be found at Target and Walmart, two big retailers whose stores are still open because they sell groceries and essential household supplies.

Target didn’t have any exclusives on the week’s new releases, but did have a buy-two-get-one-free sale on movies and kids’ books, with discs priced at $10 and $15.

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Walmart had a $29.96 Bad Boys 3-Movie Collection containing Blu-ray Discs and digital copies of the first two “Bad Boys” movies and a Vudu digital copy for the new Bad Boys for Life.

Merchandising: Stores Deliver ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ Exclusives

After weeks of touting preorders for Disney’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, retailers finally had the discs available for consumers March 31 despite the ongoing coronavirus lockdown.

Among the big three retailers, Target and Walmart stores remain open, with adjusted hours, since they offer groceries and other essential household goods.

Best Buy stores are closed for walk-ins but are offering shipping for online orders, as well as curbside pickups for local shoppers.

Target’s $34.99 Rise of Skywalker 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack comes with a gallery booklet and an exclusive bonus DVD with the featurette “A Final Alliance,” a chronicle of the various starships used in the film.

Target’s ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

Walmart offered the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack as a limited edition with fold-out artwork packaging for $34.96.

Walmart’s ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

Best Buy has its customary $34.99 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbook treatment for Rise of Skywalker.

Best Buy’s ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ Steelbook

In addition, Best Buy has the exclusive U.S. distribution of the $249.99 nine-movie, 27-disc “Skywalker Saga” boxed set that includes a 4K disc, a Blu-ray disc and a bonus disc for each of the episodic films. Rogue One and Solo are available on 4K separately.

Best Buy’s exclusive ‘Star Wars’ The Skywalker Saga’ boxed set

Speaking of 4K, Disney also released all the films not yet available on 4K as three-disc standalone combo packs (ie episodes one through seven and Rogue One are new on 4K, while Last Jedi and Solo remain available on 4K from their earlier combo pack releases, though Disney seems set to re-release them with new packaging once existing inventory thins out). The retailers had them for $29.99 each.

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The online Disney Movie Club was offering various membership discounts such as 50% off all items in the order plus free shipping with the purchase of one at the full price ($34.99), which lowers the average to under $20 when all eight 4K combo packs are purchased together. DMC VIP members (those who fulfilled the membership requirement of buying five full-price discs previously) qualify for a 60% discount, pushing the average price to under $17.

Among other promotions, Target was offering a buy-two-get-one-free mix-and-match sale on video games.

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Merchandising: ‘1917’ Tops New Product Releases

With coronavirus sheltering orders across the United States impacting consumers’ ability to shop, stores are still selling new DVD and Blu-ray titles.

Best Buy may have closed its showrooms, but it still offers online shopping and curbside pickup for local shoppers.

Best Buy also had the only notable exclusive being touted by the big retailers among the week’s new releases: a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbook combo pack of Universal Pictures’ 1917 at $32.99.

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Target and Walmart stores remain open because they sell groceries, classifying them as “essential” businesses exempt from shelter-in-place orders.

Neither were promoting exclusives among the week’s new titles, but they continued to take preorders for the March 31 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

Target’s ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

Target’s edition at $34.99 comes with a gallery booklet and an exclusive bonus disc.

Walmart’s ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

The Walmart edition features fold out packaging containing images from the film for $34.96.

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Walmart’s ‘Bad Boys’ Blu-ray triple feature

Walmart, which halted next-day delivery for online orders due to high demand, is also taking preorders on a Blu-ray containing all three “Bad Boys” movies for $29.96 due April 28.

Merchandising: It’s a ‘Jumanji’ Jungle Out There

The big three retail chains each had exclusive promotions for two of the big titles released to stores March 17.

The most notable was for Sony Pictures’ Jumanji: The Next Level.

Best Buy’s ‘Jumanji: The Next Level’ Steelbook

Best Buy had its typical Steelbook edition of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack for $32.99.

Walmart released a 3-movie “Jumanji” DVD collection containing Next Level, its 2017 predecessor Welcome to the Jungle, and the 1995 original Jumanji for $29.96.

Target didn’t have an exclusive edition, but did offer a free $10 gift card with the purchase of the new movie on disc with the $19.99 Jumanji board game.

‘Jumanji’ board game

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The other notable title was Warner’s animated Superman: Red Son.

Target’s ‘Superman: Red Son’ Steelbook

Target offered a Blu-ray/DVD Steelbook at $19.99 with the same cover art as the regular edition. The exclusive appeared to be available only in stores as it wasn’t listed on Target’s website.

Best Buy had the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack with a pack-on Soviet Superman figurine for $29.99.

Walmart had a DVD-only edition of Superman: Red Son for $14.96. Only the Blu-ray and 4K editions were released wide.

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Another exclusive at Walmart involved the 2016 animated movie Trolls, in the form of a gift set containing a Trolls DVD and a troll wig. The set is timed with the release of Universal’s Trolls World Tour movie.

Vudu Adds New User Controls

Vudu March 12 announced new software features that afford users greater control of their content selections and libraries.

The Walmart-owned transactional VOD platform with more than 150,000 movies and TV shows now lets users create personalized content lists to suit their various needs such as “Family Movie Night” or “Date Night,” and organize their library accordingly.

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Movie collectors can now organize their content by franchise, including “My Star Wars Movies.” Users can also include titles that they haven’t purchased — such as tracking the top 100 movies of all time — or free titles from Vudu’s catalog or even create multiple wishlists such as “My Wife’s Wishlist” or “My TV Show Wishlist.”

“Vudu’s new lists feature aims to further its mission to empower their customers and provide them with the best possible user experience,” the platform said in a statement.

Vudu is a member of the industry-backed Movies Anywhere platform.

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Merchandising: Declassifying ‘Spies in Disguise’ Exclusives

Best Buy and Target offered exclusive 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray versions of the new animated movie Spies in Disguise, which hit shelves March 10 from Disney-owned 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Best Buy offered the film with Steelbook packaging for $34.99.

Best Buy’s ‘Spies in Disguise’ Steelbook

Target had a $32.99 limited edition with a pack-in “Super Spy Training Manual” booklet.

Target’s ‘Spies in Disguise’ limited edition with booklet

Another notable promotion during the week involved Walmart offering a code for exclusive behind-the-scenes content of Disney’s Frozen II with the purchase of Sparkling Ice bottled vitamin water.

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Merchandising: A Flurry of Options for ‘Frozen II’ and ‘Knives Out’

Retailers lined up exclusives for two big Feb. 25 home video releases: Disney’s Frozen II and Lionsgate’s Knives Out.

For Frozen II, Target offered a couple of exclusives. First was a limited-edition 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack containing a filmmaker gallery and storybook, at $34.99.

Target’s ‘Frozen II’ 4K Blu-ray with storybook
Target’s ‘Frozen II’ 4K box art

The other was a Blu-ray Disc double feature of the two “Frozen” movies, at $39.99.

Best Buy offered a 4K Ultra HD Steelbook of Frozen II for $34.99.

Best Buy’s ‘Frozen II’ Steelbook

Walmart’s Frozen II 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray had a slipcover with exclusive box art, and the combo pack came with two exclusive Vudu digital bonus featurettes, “Frozen Fashion” and “Olaf: Older and Wiser.” The set is listed online at $32.96 but some stores had it for $29.96.

Walmart’s ‘Frozen II’ 4K Blu-ray

For Knives Out, had the Blu-ray for $19.99 packed with a copy of the unpublished novel mentioned in the movie.

Target’s ‘Knives Out’ Blu-ray with bonus booklet

Best Buy had a 4K Ultra HD Steelbook of Knives Out for $29.99.

Best Buy’s ‘Knives Out’ Steelbook

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‘WSJ’: NBCUniversal in Talks to Buy Vudu, Fox Eyeing Tubi

Comcast’s NBCUniversal is reportedly in talks to acquire Walmart’s Vudu service while Fox Corp. is looking at buying ad-supported video-on-demand service Tubi, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Vudu offers transactional digital rentals and purchases, and the move would bring Vudu into the same company fold as the FandangoNow TVOD service.

Vudu also offers an ad-supported free service launched in 2016.

NBCUniversal plans to launch its own video service, Peacock, April 15 with AVOD and SVOD options.

Last fall reports surfaced that Walmart was looking to shed Vudu as it wasn’t part of the retailer’s core business.

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AVOD service Tubi, also reportedly an acquisition target, this time by Fox, saw its monthly active users reach 25 million in December with a total view time (TVT) of more than 163 million hours watched — a year-over-year TVT increase of 160%. The deal to buy Tubi could be valued at more than $500 million, according to the Journal.

Merchandising: The Battle for ‘Midway’ Exclusives

Target and Best Buy each offered an exclusive Steelbook edition of Lionsgate’s Midway Blu-ray release Feb. 18.

Best Buy, for which the Steelbook edition is the most typical exclusive, had the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray version of Midway at $29.99.

Best Buy’s ‘Midway’ 4K Ultra HD Steelbook

Target’s Steelbook was for the regular Blu-ray edition of the war film, offered at $24.99.

Target’s ‘Midway’ Blu-ray Steelbook

Walmart also had an exclusive for Midway, though it was more low key, pairing the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack at $24.96 with a special bonus digital copy of another World War II film, Emperor, redeemable through Vudu.

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For another WWII film released during the week, the news wasn’t so much about retailer promotions as it was which stores were even carrying it. The Oscar-winning Jojo Rabbit, from 20th Century Fox, wasn’t even stocked in a few Walmarts. And Target wasn’t offering the 4K Ultra HD version in stores. Copies of the film in all formats were still available on the chains’ websites.

Among other notable deals for the week, Target offered 20% off select Disney movies.

Roku Adds Surround-Sound to Branded Speakers

Roku Jan. 29 announced a software update that will enable surround sound expansion of its branded soundbars, making it easy for consumers to use Roku TV Wireless Speakers.

Walmart will also be expanding its “onn.” Roku surround system with the addition of Roku wireless surround speakers, expected on Walmart shelves and Walmart.com in February.

“We want to simplify home theater the same way we simplified streaming and we’re taking a big step towards that by expanding our Roku Smart Soundbars to support surround sound capabilities,” Mark Ely, VP of retail product strategy at Roku, said in a statement. “We want customers to be able to expand their system over time without having to spend a lot of money or run wires throughout the home.”

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Roku’s soundbar is marketed as a cost-effective two-in-one device that enhances sound and streaming video to a TV.

“Customers are responding well to our onn. brand,” said Ryan Peterson, VP of consumer electronics for Walmart. “Roku is known for their quality and affordability as well, and we’re looking forward to offering our customers a premium surround sound experience.”

The Roku Smart Soundbar claims premium sound quality with crisp dialogue and dynamic bass, easy-to-use 4K and HDR Roku streaming player built in, simple set up and a remote with TV power and volume buttons.

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Roku wireless surround speakers can be placed behind the sofa or in the back of a room to provide immersive multi-directional sound. In addition, stereo content will sound better when adding rear speakers.

Roku soundbars support Dolby Audio, which delivers enhanced surround sound experience when streaming content from compatible platforms such as Netflix, the Apple TV app and Disney+, among others.

Roku Surround Sound capability will be available as a Roku OS software update for all Roku Smart Soundbars and will begin rolling out to devices in February.

The onn Roku Wireless Surround Speakers will be available for $149 in Walmart stores and online at Walmart.com mid-February to pair to the onn Roku Smart Soundbar and onn Roku Wireless Subwoofer.