According to Best Buy's website,
eight new catalog titles are coming to Blu-ray on May 29 (yes, that's
a Sunday and yes, that's kind of strange). The titles will be available
exclusively at Best Buy, at least for the time being. The most exciting
title in the lineup is The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three, the
fantastic 1974 thriller starring Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw. MGM's
original DVD release of this was pretty weak, so the prospect of this
movie getting the new transfer it deserves is wonderful and long overdue.
Other titles coming to Best
Buy include the Oscar-winning Midnight Cowboy starring Jon Voight
and Dustin Hoffman, the Tom Cruise legal drama The Firm, Get
Shorty, Richard Donner's Maverick with Mel Gibson and Jodie
Foster, Billy Crystal's City Slickers, Rodney Dangerfield's
Back To School, and Wild Wild West, arguably Will Smith's
least-beloved movie. Best Buy's site provides no information about
what bonus features, if any, will be included on these releases. But
one would hope that any extras that previously appeared on DVD will
be ported over to the Blu-rays.
Retailer exclusives are nothing
new. But until recently, movie fans didn't really need to pay much
attention to them. They were primarily designed to drive hardcore collectors
crazy with exclusive packaging, toys, t-shirts and occasionally bonus
discs. No big deal unless you were trying to decide if you wanted your
copy of Watchmen packaged in a replica of Nite Owl's ship or
But with Blu-ray, retailer
exclusives have become something worth keeping tabs on. Studios are
now giving stores like Best Buy and Target actual titles that are available
nowhere else. They don't stay that way, of course. Typically, retailers
have a window of about three to six months before the titles go into
wide release. But until that happens, if you want Honeymoon In Vegas
or Four Weddings And A Funeral on Blu-ray, you need to head to
Target. Previously, Best Buy has had early dibs on such titles as
Heavy Metal and Out Of Sight.
What's odd about all this
is nobody's really talking about it much, not the studios or the retailers
themselves. These discs just kind of magically appear on the shelves.
This makes for a nice surprise if you visit these stores on a regular
basis. But if you don't, there might just be some movies you really
want available on Blu that you don't know about.
For the last couple of years, the studios have repeatedly complained about declining sales of catalog titles. Well, part of the reason for that might just be this stealth release pattern they've come up with. It's hard to go shopping for something you don't know exists. Just some food for thought. If you need to get hold of me this weekend, I'll be at Best Buy picking up my copy of The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three.