Merchandising: Best Buy Offers ‘Creed II’ Steelbook

Best Buy ‘Creed II’ Steelbook

There wasn’t much in the way of retail promotions for new Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray releases that arrived in stores on March 5.

As usual, Best Buy offered a Steelbook edition for the week’s marquee title, the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray of Warner Home Entertainment’s Creed II, at $34.99.

Walmart had a DVD double feature of the two “Creed” movies for $19.96.

Best Buy is touting preorders for its Steelbook Blu-rays of Warner’s Aquaman, which arrives March 26. The Blu-ray Steelbook is $29.99 and the 4K Blu-ray is $34.99.

Aquaman is a 2018 superhero film based on the DC Comics character of the same name, and the sixth installment in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). It is the third live-action theatrical film featuring Aquaman, following Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) and Justice League (2017). The film follows Arthur Curry, heir to the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, as he rallies his people against his half-brother, Orm, who wants to unite the seven underwater kingdoms against the surface world.

With a worldwide gross of $1.1 billion, Aquaman is the highest-earning film based on a DC Comics character, surpassing The Dark Knight Rises.

The film grossed $333.7 million in North American theaters to become the No. 5 theatrical film of 2018.

Merchandising: Retailers Double-Up ‘Ralph’ Promotions With ‘Little Mermaid’

Target ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ 4K Blu-ray

While the Feb. 26 Blu-ray release of Disney’s Ralph Breaks the Internet came with its fair share of promotional exclusives, retailers offered the same types of exclusives with the new “Signature Collection” Blu-ray of The Little Mermaid that arrived the same day.

Target ‘The Little Mermaid’ 4K Blu-ray

Target offered the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo packs of both Ralph Breaks the Internet and The Little Mermaid with “filmmaker gallery and storybook” packaging for $32.99 each. The standard 4K editions were offered at $29.99 each.

Best Buy offered Steelbook editions for each 4K Blu-ray, at $34.99 each.

Best Buy ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ Steelbook

In conjunction with the release of the films, Best Buy ran a promotion touting Disney animated classics on Blu-ray for $19.99 each and on DVD for $14.99.

Best Buy ‘The Little Mermaid’ Steelbook

The Disney Store gave away an exclusive set of four lithographs with preorders of the Ralph Blu-ray, as well as a coupon for $10 off a $40 purchase through March 10. Likewise, preorders of the Little Mermaid Blu-ray came with a lithograph set of concept art from that film.

The Disney Princess selfie

The promotions for both films coming out the same day tie in to a cameo by the Disney Princesses in the Wreck-It Ralph sequel, including Ariel of The Little Mermaid.

Speaking of preorders, Target is promoting its future exclusive for the new-to-theaters How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, which will be offered as a Blu-ray/DVD/Digital combo pack with wearable dragon wings for $27.99.

Other deals for the week at Best Buy included a $34.99 Steelbook for the Captain America: The First Avenger 4K Blu-ray, and a Blu-ray boxed set of the first seven seasons of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” for $99.90 (a savings of $73.09).

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Merchandising: Retailers Switch Up ‘A Star Is Born’ Box Art

The retail exclusives for the Feb. 19 home video release of Warner’s A Star Is Born focused on variants of the box art.

Wide-release box art for A Star Is Born DVD (left) and Blu-ray
Target’s A Star Is Born Blu-ray box art

Target offered a version of the Blu-ray combo pack with special box art and the exclusive featurette “A Star Is Born: Backstage Pass,” at $26.99.

The standard DVD and Blu-ray releases already include a making-of featurette, bonus song performances, and music videos.

In addition, Target gave shoppers a $5 gift card with the purchase of both the movie and the film’s CD soundtrack, which was priced at $11.99 and included an exclusive poster.

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Best Buy delivered its usual Steelbook edition of the film, offered for both the standard Blu-ray ($29.99) and the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack ($34.99).

Best Buy A Star Is Born Steelbooks
Walmart’s A Star Is Born DVD

Likewise, Walmart dipped into its usual bag of tricks for an exclusive, choosing to offer a slimmed-down DVD variant with different artwork but without the bonus disc included with the wide release containing the behind-the-scenes material. The only extras included with the Walmart version are the music videos, for $16.96. By comparison, the regular DVD with the additional extras is listed on Walmart’s website and priced at other stores at $17.99.

 

Merchandising: Retailers Rock Out Over ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’

Target Bohemian Rhapsody booklet

The new-release week of Feb. 12 saw retailers go gaga over Bohemian Rhapsody on Blu-ray, with each of the big three offering an exclusive to entice fans of the Queen biopic.

Target offered a version of the Bohemian Rhapsody Blu-ray ($22.99) and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray ($27.99) with an exclusive 24-page gallery book featuring a look at the music, fashion and making of the film.

Best Buy Bohemian Rhapsody Steelbook

Target also offered a free $5 gift card with the purchase of the movie and soundtrack CD ($11.99) together.

Best Buy had the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc of Bohemian Rhapsody with exclusive Steelbook packaging.

Walmart Bohemian Rhapsody gift set with shirt

Walmart offered a $24.96 Bohemian Rhapsody “Ultimate Fan Gift Set” that included the Blu-ray combo pack and an official Queen T-shirt.

Walmart also had an exclusive Blu-ray version of Lionsgate’s animated sequel Norm of the North: Keys to the Kingdom at $14.96.

Target ran a “buy two, get one free” promotion on select movies, books, games and video games. The offer excluded new-release and pre-order movies, 3DS and select Nintendo Switch titles.

Best Buy touted Disney hits for under $20, as well as Steelbook preorders for Warner’s A Star Is Born ($34.99 4K UHD BD, $29.99 Blu-ray) and Creed II ($34.99 4K UHD BD), and Disney’s Feb. 26 release of 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger as a 4K UHD Blu-ray Steelbook.

Report: YouTube Top ‘Most Intimate Brand’ Among Millennials

YouTube ranked the “most intimate brand” among millennials for the first time, climbing from third last year, according to MBLM’s Brand Intimacy 2019 Study, a study of brands based on emotions.

The firm defines brand intimacy as something that leverages and strengthens the emotional bonds between a person and a brand.

“YouTube ranked 10th with millennials just two short years ago and has steadily made its way to the top,” said Mario Natarelli, managing partner, MBLM, in a statement. “The brand has demonstrated an ability to entertain a diverse millennial audience through its extensive content. It is also continuing its expansion of services, including the launch of YouTube Music in 2018, as it finds new ways to connect with consumers. Millennials in particular bond strongly with the media and entertainment industry, and YouTube is doing a good job at building a brand that caters to the wants and needs of this audience.”

Apple and Netflix ranked as the second and third most intimate brands for this generation. Comparatively, in MBLM’s 2018 study, Apple placed first followed by Disney and YouTube.

The other brands that rounded out the top 10 were, in order: Disney, Nike, Target, Xbox, PlayStation, Google and Walmart. Millennial men selected Xbox, PlayStation and Spotify as their top three and millennial women selected Target, Amazon and Disney.

The Brand Intimacy 2019 Report, to be released in full Feb. 14, contains the most comprehensive rankings of brands based on emotion, analyzing the responses of 6,200 consumers and 56,000 brand evaluations across 15 industries in the United States, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates, according to MBLM.

Merchandising: Retailers Hope to Bring in the Green With ‘The Grinch’

Each of the big three retailers Feb. 5 offered an exclusive edition of Universal Pictures’ new Blu-ray of the animated adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch.

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Target’s The Grinch with gallery book

Target offered a version of the Grinch Blu-ray combo pack with a 26-page gallery and activity book for $22.99.

Walmart’s version of the Blu-ray came with unique box art and 16 Valentine’s Day postcards for $19.96.

Best Buy, as is typical for the chain, offered a Steelbook edition of the Blu-ray for $24.99.

Best Buy is also selling Steelbooks for new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray editions of DreamWorks’ How to Train Your Dragon and How to Train Your Dragon 2 at $19.99 each. The third film arrives in theaters Feb. 22.

Best Buy’s The Grinch Steelbook

Walmart has exclusive availability of the Civil War drama Finding Josephine on DVD from Gaiam, at $9.96.

Merchandising: The Retail Reign of the ‘Supermen’

Best Buy Reign of the Supermen with graphic novel.

Superman fans had a few options for picking up Warner’s new Reign of the Supermen animated movie on Blu-ray.

Target Reign of the Supermen Steelbook

Best Buy offered the new movie with copies of the graphic novel The Death of Superman upon which the movie is partly based. The chain offered the graphic novel edition at $22.99 for the Blu-ray and $32.99 for the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, a $3 premium over the standard editions of the title in each format.

Target offered Reign of the Supermen in Steelbook editions. The Target Steelbook cost $29.99 for the 4K version and $19.99 for the standard Blu-ray, but is marked as sold out online and at many stores.

However, Steelbooks are typically better known as Best Buy’s path to an exclusive. Accordingly, Best Buy offered 4K UHD Blu-ray Steelbook editions of Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms at $34.99 and Lionsgate’s Hunter Killer at $32.99.

Best Buy The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Steelbook

Other promotions offered by Best Buy during the week include a two-for-$10 deal on select Fox Blu-rays, or $7.99 each; 4K Ultra HD movies starting at $9.99; select Sony Pictures titles, including Steelbooks, offered through a buy-one-get-one-free deal; and a Kingdom Hearts 3 video game tie-in touting Disney movies with the tag-line “Play your favorite characters.”

Target’s weekly ad pushed HDTVs in time for the Super Bowl.

Meanwhile, the Walmart in Tustin, Calif., seems to be trying out a new arrangement of the home video section in its electronics department. The area recently unveiled a new aesthetic for its end-cap displays, complete with a yet-to-be-stocked section to be devoted to digital-edition redemption gift cards.

New home video layout at a Walmart in Tustin, Calif.

Walmart Drops Streaming Video Plans, Will Focus on Vudu Unit

Walmart reportedly has shelved plans to launch a branded over-the-top video streaming service.

CNBC, citing sources familiar with the situation, said the world’s largest retailer dropped the idea after negotiations with former Epix CEO Mark Greenberg to spearhead an OTT video platform fell through.

Greenberg has also approached Costco regarding launching a branded OTT video service.

Specifically, Walmart balked at the prospect of spending billions on content in an industry it has no direct experience in. Instead, the retail behemoth will redouble efforts on Vudu.com, the transactional VOD unit it acquired in 2010.

Vudu, which sells and rents digital movies, also enables registered users to upload DVD and Blu-ray Disc titles for access to digital files stored in the cloud. The platform recently upgraded its ad-supported VOD offerings of catalog movies and TV shows.

“Vudu has developed a strong platform, and we aim to continue to bring our customers more content, on more devices, at the best possible price,” Walmart spokeswoman Tara Raddohl-House said in a statement.

 

Merchandising: Target Celebrates 2018 in Film

Early into the new year, Target stores have wheeled out a display of titles from the previous year with the banner “Rewind: Best of 2018.”

Titles such as Crazy Rich Asians, Smallfoot and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again were offered on DVD and Blu-ray Disc for up to 40% off.

Among the titles released Jan. 15, Walmart offered a Goosebumps 2-Movie Collection Blu-ray double feature at $24.96, grouping the new Goosebumps 2 with Sony Pictures’ 2015 original.

Best Buy presented Steelbook packaging for Universal’s Halloween sequel/remake 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray at $29.99.

Best Buy is also taking preorders for its Bohemian Rhapsody 4K UHD Blu-ray Steelbook at $29.99. Fox releases the film on disc Feb. 12.

 

2018: Getting Along in a Multi-Platform World

Back in 1989, a State Department official named Francis Fukuyama wrote a controversial essay on the “end of history,” opining that the collapse of the Soviet Union and Eastern bloc communism, the reform movement in China, and the reunification of Germany signaled a triumph for Western democracy and a very real promise of freedom and liberty for all.

Fukuyama’s vision of a global utopia didn’t last long, but for a brief moment in time cultural and political differences seemed to be set aside in favor of everyone working together to make the world a better place.

Similarly, in 2018 the various factions in home entertainment seemed to set aside their differences and recognize that we’re living in a multi-platform world — and that a peaceful coexistence between disc and digital, subscription and transactional, was, indeed, possible.

“2018 saw the continued integration of technology and content at an even more accelerated pace, and, with that, the opportunity to engage fans with more focused and meaningful experiences that extend the life of our film and television properties,” said Keith Feldman, president of worldwide home entertainment for 20th Century Fox.

Indeed, studios cut back on selling content to Netflix — most notably Disney, which pulled all its movies off the service by the end of the year — in favor of issuing it on their own platforms. They rallied behind Movies Anywhere, a digital movie storage “locker” launched in October 2017, and saw digital movie sales soar, with an 18% gain reported in the third quarter of 2018, according to DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group numbers.

Netflix, meanwhile, vowed to spend $8 billion in 2018 on producing its own shows, with the goal of making its content library 50% original.

Studios that once sued Redbox for renting DVDs and Blu-ray Discs, claiming the kiosk vendor was cannibalizing disc sales, struck distribution deals in which prior holdbacks were either sharply cut back or eliminated. They also rallied behind Redbox On Demand, a digital movie store launched in December 2017.

On the retail front, big-box chains like Best Buy and Walmart put discs back into the spotlight, buoyed by the emergence of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.

And digital retailers like FandangoNow and Google Play revved up their promotional muscle and pumped up the message that they had fresh movies for sale or rent. FandangoNow even put up a notice on its home page, touting the fact that it offers “New releases not on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime subscriptions.”

It was all part of a bigger picture, in a year dominated by major media mergers — AT&T buying Time Warner, Disney buying 20th Century Fox — suggesting it was high time to come together and restructure existing business models to reflect changing consumer habits.

Content, as always, was king, but the feuding fiefdoms of the past were at last coming to peace with each other — and with themselves.

Subscription streaming continued to dominate the home entertainment business in 2018. Indeed, in the first nine months of this year, according to DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, consumer spending on Netflix and other subscription streaming services rose more than 30% to $9.4 billion, nearly $2 billion more than consumers spent on all other forms of home entertainment combined– disc purchases ($2.79 billion) and rentals ($1.37 billion); digital purchases, or electronic sellthrough (EST, $1.8 billion),  and digital rentals, or transactional video-on-demand (TVOD, $1.57 billion).

But where Hollywood once saw a threat, in 2018 the studios saw an opportunity. As consumers, thanks to streaming, became increasingly accustomed to viewing movies and other content electronically, studios focused on moving them toward on-demand digital purchases or rentals — driving home the message that new releases aren’t typically available through subscriptions.

“Our comprehensive and strategic efforts to drive digital ownership and bolster engagement such as leveraging the early window, offering exclusive extras and emphasizing the best viewing experience possible are proving to be very effective as consumers continue to move toward and embrace the digital experience,” said Chris Oldre, EVP of pay TV, digital and international distribution at Walt Disney Direct-to-Consumer and International.

“Movies Anywhere has had a tremendous impact on transforming digital consumption and is a testament to the strength of the studios and digital retailers that have joined forces on an unprecedented scale. This year Disney once again experienced remarkable growth as our digital sales exceeded expectations in conjunction with the studio’s unrivaled box office success. Disney has the top three bestselling digital titles to date with Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok. We’re also incredibly proud of our celebration of Marvel’s 10-year anniversary this year.  We promoted the Marvel Cinematic Universe home entertainment catalog with a special sales promotion across digital, which undoubtedly helped propel Avengers: Infinity War to the No. 1 live-action spot on the all-time digital sales chart in a record-setting period.”

Ron Schwartz, president of Lionsgate Worldwide Home Entertainment, said that as consumer habits evolve, digital movie sales and rentals – electronic sellthrough (EST) and transactional video-on-demand (TVOD) — remain a priority. “We saw a significant increase in industry spending in this area in 2018, up 20%, and we will continue to collaborate with our retail partners on fresh ideas to keep consumer interest alive,” he said. “We see a large and growing market with multi-platform and specialty releases and will continue to build our leadership in this area.”

At the same time, Schwartz notes, “Disc sales remain robust … 4K UHD BD is rapidly gaining in popularity, as spend is on track to double this year versus last. We are committed to serving our audiences across the full spectrum of the digital   and physical business and we will continue to be a first mover in adapting these businesses as they continue to evolve.”

For Bob Buchi, president of worldwide home media distribution at Paramount Pictures, 2018 was the year of 4K.

“More than 42 million homes now have a 4K Ultra HD television and roughly 400 titles are available on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc and over 600 on Digital 4K,” Buchi said. “The numbers keep growing and for good reason: 4K brings home entertainment to life like never before, delivering content that better represents filmmakers’ original vision.  We’ve seen this play out with the week one 4K sales of Mission: Impossible — Fallout, which delivered our highest number of UHD discs sold, as well as the highest percentage of our physical sales ever.”

Disney’s Oldre agrees. “4K Ultra HD is a robust line of business for us and we’re experiencing healthy growth,” he said. “We continue to receive solid support from our physical retail partners and are confident it’s a market that our customers will continue to embrace given the format’s premier resolution.”

Catalog sales were another bright spot in 2018, Buchi said. “We’ve seen our digital catalog sales growing in markets around the world, including a 35% increase domestically through October, which indicates that more and more consumers have become comfortable with the format and are returning to the concept of building collections.  In addition, physical catalog sales have exceeded our expectations, as we continue to make concerted efforts to celebrate anniversaries of classic titles and strategically promote films from our library.”

Retailers certainly did their part in pushing the transactional business. At Best Buy and Walmart, the emergence of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray led to bigger disc sections and, in the case of Best Buy, placement back in the center of the store.

Redbox in 2018 relaunched its brand, which included some major ad campaigns and sponsorships, including the Redbox Bowl college football game on New Year’s Eve at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. The company also revamped its loyalty program; negotiated more favorable distribution deals with studios; and expanded the availability of previously rented movies and video games at kiosks.

The Redbox On Demand digital service, meanwhile, celebrated its first birthday in December with a new app on Vizio SmartCast TVs. The company also expanded its selection to 12,000 titles, from 7,000 at launch. CEO Galen Smith in December told Media Play News that Redbox On Demand has “surpassed major milestones to become a real player in the competitive digital home entertainment space. We’re seeing hundreds of thousands of customers, including bringing back folks we haven’t seen in a while.”

FandangoNow, a business unit of movie-ticket seller Fandango, struck deals with most major studios that allow it to package movie rentals into “binge bundles” that let consumers watch multiple movies at a lower price. The new offering launched on the Labor Day weekend with more than 100 bundles.

FandangoNow also cross-promotes digital movie sales and rentals with ticket sales. In December, just before the holidays, consumers who spent $20 on FandangoNow received $8 toward a movie ticket.

In the end, studio executives agree, it all comes down to keeping consumers engaged — which requires constant work.

“From a functional solution like Movies Anywhere that allows consumers to build and enjoy a streamlined digital library, to premium viewing with 4K HDR, to story extensions through virtual reality and other emerging formats, keeping consumers invested and engaged requires constant experimentation and innovation,” says Fox’s Keith Feldman. “Our ongoing challenge is to exceed consumer expectations today and simultaneously deliver next-generation offerings that will continue that engagement in the future.”