New Best Buy Exclusive Blu-rays Include The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three

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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 Rorschach's mask. 

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.

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Adam Jahnke has been writing about film since age 13, when he began foisting a self-published newsletter on friends and family (copies of which are now mercifully lost to the ages). In 2000, he joined the staff of the highly respected DVD website The Digital Bits, where he continues to serve as columnist…

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