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Judging by the overwhelming response to yesterday’s home video industry rant, it seems as if a LOT of you guys out there are also feeling as we are – specifically, that Hollywood’s gotten out of touch with regard to their home video and Blu-ray release decisions. It remains to be seen if they industry is listening, but rest assured it’s a topic we’ll be continuing to discuss in the days and weeks ahead. Many years ago, back even before what became the “Golden Age of DVD,” I said something here on The Bits that remains as true today as it ever was: Home video is one of the few industries on the planet where consumers actually have to BEG for the product they want to buy… and all too often they still don’t get it. More and more, this industry just doesn’t seem to understand its product and its own consumers. It’s little wonder that sales are declining and jobs are being shed. Dumb, dumb, dumb.
Anyway, here at The Bits today, our own Joe Marchese has turned in a review of Paramount’s new Cirque due Soleil: Worlds Away on Blu-ray. We’ve also added three more retro BD reviews from the original Bits site for you to check out: Tim Salmon’s take on Warner’s The Searchers, Summit’s The Hurt Locker and Criterion’s Repulsion.
In announcement news today, Shout! Factory has revealed new Blu-ray/DVD Combos of Kentucky Fried Movie and Mel Brooks’ The Producers! Kentucky Fried Movie arrives on 7/2 – details to follow. The Producers: Collector’s Edition will arrive on 7/2 as well, featuring the documentary The Making of The Producers, the 2012 video interview Mel and His Movies: The Producers, the film’s theatrical trailer and a photo gallery.
Shout! Factory has also set Mystery Science Theater 3000: XXVII for DVD release on 7/23, set to include The Slime People, Rocket Attack USA, Village of the Giants and The Deadly Mantis.
Meanwhile, Anchor Bay Entertainment and Dimension Films have set the alien abduction thriller Dark Skies for Blu-ray Combo and DVD release on 5/28. Extras will include feature commentary with writer/director Scott Stewart, producer Jason Blum, executive producer Brian Kavanaugh-Jones and editor Peter Gvozdas, plus alternate and deleted scenes.
Fox has set Safe Haven for Blu-ray and DVD release on 5/7. Extras will include deleted and extended scenes, an alternate ending and 3 featurettes (Igniting the Romance in Safe Haven, Set Tour and Josh Duhamel’s Lessons in Crabbing).
Image Entertainment has set Home Sweet Home for DVD only release on 6/4.
FilmWorks Entertainment has set Love, Concord for DVD only release on 6/18.
Icarus Films has announced that they’ve acquired the U.S. distribution rights to Chris Marker and Pierre Lhomme’s landmark 1963 film Le Joli Mai. It will be released on 2-disc DVD sometime in November, with an official announcement TBD.
Virgil Films has set Shelter Me for DVD release on 4/30.
Well Go USA Entertainment has set Sadako 3D for release on Blu-ray and DVD on 6/4.
Monarch Home Entertainment has set the horror/thriller It’s in the Blood for DVD release on 4/23.
And Universal will release Frankie Go Boom on Blu-ray and DVD on 5/13.
And in other news from around the Net, are any of you guys silent film fans? Do you live in the L.A. area? Well, our friend Roger Miller e-mailed us yesterday to let us know that The Alloy Orchestra is going to be performing their scores for Buster Keaton’s The General (live on 4/28 at the TCM Classic Film Festival) and both Phantom of the Opera (the Lon Chaney classic) and From Morning to Midnight (live on 4/29 at The Silent Movie Theatre). For more information on these performances, be sure to check out their website. I highly recommend going if you’re even remotely interested. The movies are obviously well worth seeing and The Alloy Orchestra puts on a heck of a great show. Dr. Jahnke and I had the pleasure of seeing them do the score to the restored Metropolis live at the TCM Festival a few years ago and it remains one of the great movie-going experiences either of us have ever had.
All right, we’ll leave you with a look at the Blu-ray cover artwork for Shout!’s Kentucky Fried Movie, as well as Anchor Bay/Dimension’s Dark Skies and Fox’s Safe Haven…
- Bill Hunt
Happy Tuesday, Bits-ers. We’ve got some news and whatnot for you today, but first…
Our own Russell Hammond has updated the Release Dates & Artwork section with all the latest Blu-ray, DVD and Video Game cover artwork and Amazon.com pre-order links. As always, a portion of anything you order from Amazon in the same session (after clicking through to them from our links) goes to help support our work here at The Bits and we really appreciate it!
Now then, Tim has just checked in with a review of Shout! Factory’s new Woochi: The Demon Slayer on Blu-ray. The disc arrives in stores today and it sounds like it’s pretty fun. We’ve also updated our review database today with another pair of BD reviews from the original Bits website: Tim’s take on Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (from Warner Home Video) and District 9 (from Sony). Enjoy!
Speaking of Sony, in announcement news today the studio has revealed their first batch of “4K-Mastered” Blu-ray releases due on 5/14. Keep in mind, these are NOT actual 4K Blu-rays. They’re essentially the BD equivalent of Sony’s Superbit DVDs from a few years back – simply mastered from 4K source material with high video data rates, but still just 1080p. My personal response to these is similar to my reaction to the Superbit DVDs back in the day: If you can master Blu-rays in better quality, why haven’t you been doing it all along? Anyway, the specific titles to look for on 5/14 are Ghostbusters, Glory, Taxi Driver, Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man, Angels & Demons, The Karate Kid (2010), The Other Guys, Battle: Los Angeles and Total Recall (2012). At least the SRP is just $19.99 (which makes them just $14.99 on Amazon). See the cover artwork below.
Meanwhile, Universal has set a number of their catalog BD titles for re-release in “comic book-style” Steelbook packaging on 6/25, including The Big Lebowski, The Chronicles of Riddick, Death Race, Doom, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Hot Fuzz, The Hulk, The Incredible Hulk, The Mummy (1999), Paul, Pitch Black, Scarface, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Serenity, Shaun of the Dead and Van Helsing.
We should add that Universal has also set An American Girl: Saige Paints the Sky for release on Blu-ray Combo and DVD on 7/2.
Finally, here’s something that’s going to bug some of you guys: Retail sources are telling us that Disney is getting ready to announce Oz: The Great and Powerful in four SKUs – a single-disc Blu-ray 3D, a single disc Blu-ray, a 2-disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo and a single-disc DVD, all with Digital Copy. Yes, you read that right. They’re NOT announcing a combo with BOTH Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D in the same package. Yet they’re STILL charging $44.99 for the Blu-ray 3D. So same price, less value. DUMB, DUMB, DUMB… and sure to piss off a lot of fans who might be interested in 3D but also want the 2D copy.
I’m sensing a growing trend happening in the home video industry… and it’s not a good one. More and more, it seems like the people who make these release decisions at the major Hollywood studios – about which titles and features to release on Blu-ray – are people straight out of business or marketing school who are concerned only with the bottom line and have zero connection to the product, no love of film, no experience with home video/home theater enthusiasts and what they want (and are eager to buy if only the studios would listen to them)… and absolutely no interest in taking the time to find out. By releasing fewer and fewer catalog titles on Blu-ray, by actively turning down ideas for special edition releases and content (a complaint I’ve heard repeatedly in recent months from special edition producers), and by pushing the industry more and more towards downloads… these people are actively (and unwittingly) bringing about the demise of home video as we know it. They’re abandoning collectors and film enthusiasts, shrinking the home video market, and essentially putting themselves out of a job. All at a time when the folks at Warner Archive and some of the smaller indie studios (think Shout! Factory, Criterion, Olive Films, Twilight Time, etc) know that the way to move physical product – that’s discs to you and me – is to cater to enthusiasts by finding the right titles, making them special in a cost effective way and aggressively targeting the collector and enthusiast audience online. Listen up Hollywood: There’s still a huge audience of people out there who WANT to buy films on Blu-ray! They have money ready to spend, but you have to LISTEN TO THEM! You have to give them the product they want, with real value, at a price that isn’t insulting.
Ugh. I have a feeling this column is going to resume an old tradition of regular industry rants in the near future…
Anyway, we’ll leave you today with a look at the cover art for three of Sony’s “4K-Mastered” BDs…
- Bill Hunt
All right, we’re starting out the new week with a quick early update here this morning...
First, we've got a couple more updated Blu-ray reviews for you (carried over from the old Bits website) by Tim Salmons – Sony’s Moon and Criterion’s Robinson Crusoe on Mars, great titles both. Do check them out.
Around the Net this morning, an edited version of Peter Jackson’s recent Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug live preview event is now available for viewing here on the official website. You’ll need the special access code from your Blu-ray or DVD, so have it handy – it’s good for three viewings.
And as you may have heard, Disney’s restructuring of the Star Wars empire continues with word that the studio is shutting down LucasArts as an in-house video game development company in favor of an outside licensing business model. Over 150 employees of the company are being forced into the trash compactor as a result. Ouch.
Here’s a look at more new BD cover art for Kino’s Hell’s House and Of Human Bondage (both due 6/18), as well as Severin’s The House of Seven Corpses (6/11)…
- Bill Hunt
No doubt you've all heard the news by now of the passing of veteran Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert yesterday, at the age of 70, due to a return of the cancer he'd been fighting for many years. I had a whole regular news post prepared to go up this morning, but somehow it just didn't seem appropriate anymore.
I think lot of us today - certainly many of us here at The Bits and I'm sure at other movie and DVD/Blu-ray news sites around the Net too - have been a little surprised by how hard the news has hit us, but it makes perfect sense when you think about it. So many of us who write about film and videodiscs online have fond memories of meeting Roger in person at film festivals and screenings or talking about our favorite movies and filmmakers with him via e-mail. What a thrill it was to discover that Ebert had Tweeted a link to a post you'd written or mentioned it on his blog! Somewhere in my digital archives are a goodly series of e-mails we shared during two videodisc format wars discussing the future of the medium we both cared about so deeply. When I first learned back in 1998 or 99 that Roger was a Bits reader... well, I'll tell you, I felt like I'd finally arrived. If your thoughts about film mattered to Roger, then they mattered period. I know that many others out there in the online film and videodisc community have felt similarly honored by him over the years.
Roger Ebert was someone who spent his whole life sharing his passion for cinema with others, and that made him one of us - family in real and important way. Plus he wrote a Russ Meyer film, dammit, and that made him cool. So I'll simply close today's post, which we dedicate to his life and memory, by saying this:
Thank you, Roger. Thumbs up, from all of us!
- Bill Hunt
We’ve got a little more announcement news for you today, but first…
Our own Tim Salmons has turned in a review of Disney’s new Who Framed Roger Rabbit: 25th Anniversary Edition on Blu-ray Disc. Enjoy!
In announcement news this morning, Warner Home Video has set Everybody Loves Raymond: The Complete Ninth Season for DVD release on 4/16, followed by a 4 Film Favorites: John Wayne DVD box set (includes The Searchers, The Shootist, El Dorado and The Sons of Katie Elder) on 6/4, Misfits: Season Three, Doctor Who: Ep. 56 – The Mind of Evil, Doctor Who: Inferno – Special Edition and Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited: 1-4 on DVD on 6/11 (all for the BBC), Orphan Black: Season One on Blu-ray and DVD on 7/16 (also for the BBC) and finally Superjail!: Season Three on DVD on 7/23 (for Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim).
And Fox and Anchor Bay have set the CG-animated Escape from Planet Earth for Blu-ray and DVD release on 6/4.
Also today, Bits reader Brian T. e-mailed to say that he’s learned that William Friedkin’s restored version of Sorcerer will be screened at the Chicago Film Critics Association’s first annual Chicago Critics Film Festival on 4/14. Friedkin will attend the event in person and will participate in a Q&A after the film. Additional details and tickets are available here.
Here’s a look at the BD cover artwork for Lionsgate’s Snitch (due 6/11), First Look’s Upside Down (6/25) and Magnolia’s Into the White (also due 6/25)…
- Bill Hunt