my two cents 1000

That’s right.  Two Rants… and for the price of one.  (Free!)

So here’s Rant #1: Disney has just issued their official press release for Oz: The Great and Powerful.  We’ve now confirmed that there are set to be FOUR physical product SKUs: Blu-ray/DVD Combo with Digital Copy (SRP $44.99), Blu-ray with Digital Copy (SRP $39.99), DVD with Digital Copy (SRP $29.99)… and Blu-ray 3D with Digital Copy (SRP $44.99).  And it does appear that the Blu-ray-3D package contains no 2D Blu-ray Disc.  At a $44.99 price point.  That’s insane.  Now, if you have a Blu-ray 3D player, you CAN apparently choose to watch only 2D (the player simply shows you the picture information intended for only one eye), but we believe this only works on 3D-ready players.  Even if you’re a Blu-ray 3D fan – and I know there are a surprising number of you guys out there because I hear from you – who in the world would want to spend $44.99 to only get a Blu-ray 3D-compatible version?  What if you want to watch the film in another room in the house that doesn’t have 3D?  What kind of value does Disney think they’re giving the Blu-ray consumer?  Hell, a Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray Combo with no DVD would have been a smarter option for most Blu-ray fans.  Judging by the reaction we’re already hearing from readers via e-mail and online, this move is about as popular with BD consumers as a lead balloon.

Anyway, for those interested the Oz BDs will come with The Magic of Oz The Great and Powerful Second Screen Experience, 9 behind-the-scenes featurettes (The Enchanting Characters and Creatures of Oz, The Sounds of Magical Oz, Sleight of Hand: Zach Braff Puppet Theater, My Journey in Oz by James Franco, Mr. Elfman’s Musical Concoctions, China Girl and the Suspension of Disbelief, Before Your Very Eyes: From Kansas to Oz, Mila’s Metamorphosis and Walt Disney and the Road to Oz), along with bloopers and a music video by Mariah Carey.

Meanwhile, let’s get this out of the way before I start Rant #2.  Here’s more release news for today…

Lionsgate has announced a few titles for their July slate, including Legends of the Old West and Why We Laugh: Funny Women on DVD on 7/2, Angelina Ballerina: Mousical Medleys and Barney: Imagine with Barney on DVD only and Spring Breakers on BD and DVD on 7/9, and How The States Got Their Shapes: Season 2 and the Robotech: 2-Movie Collection (The Shadow Chronicles and the all-new Love Live Alive) on DVD only on 7/23.

Warner has announced Being Human: Season 5 (BBC) for release on Blu-ray and DVD on 8/20, as well as the animated Taz-Mania: Who Let The Taz Out – Season One, Part Two on DVD only on 8/6, and a pair of additional animated DVD titles on 7/23 including Duck Dodgers: Deep Space Duck – Season Two and Super Friends: A Dangerous Fate – Season 5.

Universal and Syfy have set Warehouse 13: Season Four for release on DVD only on 7/9.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has set Stoker for release on Blu-ray/DVD Combo on 6/18.  Extras include 4 featurettes (An Exclusive Look: A Filmmakers Journey, Mysterious Characters, Designing the Look and Creating the Music), deleted scenes, image galleries, footage of Emily Wells’ red carpet performance of the song Becomes the Color at the film’s premiere and a download version of the song.

RLJ Entertainment/Image have set the crime-actioner Tomorrow You’re Gone for Blu-ray and DVD release on 5/14.

Shout! Factory is releasing The Aquabats! Super Show! Season One! on DVD only on 5/21.

And finally, Entertainment One has set the “live-action dog tale” The Adventures of Bailey: A Night in Cowtown for DVD only release on 5/21.

So there.

Okay, finally we come to Rant #2... some concerns about Hollywood’s “digital streaming” future.  Anyone remember DIVX?  The pay per view disc format that thankfully came and went in the early days of DVD?  Well, if and when physical media finally goes away – say over the next decade or two – the Hollywood studios’ whole motivation behind DIVX will finally be realized.  Consumers will have no option or ability to own or copy films or TV shows.  In fact, the whole concept of “ownership” will disappear as it currently exists.  Your access to movie and TV content will be completely controlled by the studios.  You’ll have pay to access content – either per title or as a monthly subscription – and if one of the studios wants to take away that access, they can do it.  Just like that.  If a studio decides all those old Westerns aren’t popular anymore and they’re just taking up valuable server space “in the cloud”, they can just pull them down and you can’t watch them anymore.  And if you’d like to watch the widest variety of titles from all the different studios, you’re probably going to have to subscribe to more than one – maybe even several – different streaming services.  Each studio could have their own.  That’s about as consumer unfriendly as it gets.

Today, of course, if you want pretty much any film or TV show that’s currently (or formerly) available on a physical disc, you can just one-stop shop on Amazon (or eBay) and the disc is at your house in a few mouse clicks plus a couple of days.  On the music side of things, at least the all-digital music industry is more friendly.  I currently have iTunes installed on my computer’s hard drive filled with thousands of songs in high-quality that I’ve ripped from legally purchased CDs and downloads.  The files exist on my hard drive, and they’re backed up on a second drive and on my iPod.  I control them.  I can listen to them whenever I want.  The record companies can’t take them away from me.  (Film and TV video files downloaded from iTunes are a different issue, as they have DRM.)  But Hollywood doesn’t want to work like that in the future.  Are you an UltraViolet user?  Cool, right?  Your movies are stored in the cloud.  Sure, you can access them from any device you want via the cloud, but the movies aren’t on your hard drive.  You have no real control over them whatsoever.  Whatever you do, be sure to keep those Blu-ray and DVD versions!  Because if you sell the discs, thinking that all you’ll ever need in the future is the UV version online, sooner or later you’re going to lose access to those films.  You’re going to get screwed.

The bottom line is this: In the all-digital future, Hollywood needs to revise their concept of ownership to be more consumer friendly.  Hollywood needs to let you own and keep legal digital movie and TV files on your own drives – files they can’t remotely deactivate or deny you access to by pulling them off the cloud.  But trust me, they don’t want to do that and they’re going to fight doing it tooth and nail.  Hollywood is, right now, building a digital future in which your control over your media that you’ve purchased legally is an illusion.  Now, some of you younger readers are probably thinking, “Yeah, so what?  The cloud is cool!  Discs are for dinosaurs, man!”  Well… if you’re a movie fan, especially someone who has loved building and enjoying a large library collection of your favorite films and TV shows on disc – discs that you can watch whenever and wherever you want – it’s something you’d be smart to think long and hard about.

[Editor’s Note: This rant was originally inspired by a story on ars technica that Netflix had lost more than 1,700 Warner catalog titles, supposedly pulled by the studio to be hosted instead on their Warner Archive Instant service.  However, our sources at Warner Archive tell us:  “The story [on ars technica] currently relating Warner Archive Instant to Netflix title availability is inaccurate. Warner Archive Instant is not involved in Netflix’s business decisions and none of the titles that were pulled from Netflix yesterday are Warner Bros. owned. Further, Warner Archive Instant content is drawn solely from the Warner Bros Entertainment library and we are not streaming Universal, or MGM/ United Artists owned content on this site.”  Given this, I’ve removed the reference to the actual story on ars accordingly, which honestly my rant really wasn’t about anyway.  In any case, my concerns (and comments) about Hollywood’s all-digital future remain every bit as valid and legitimate.]

We’ll be back tomorrow with a great new View from the Cheap Seats column by our own Bud Elder, so be sure to check back in for that in the morning.

Stay tuned…

- Bill Hunt

Afternoon, folks.  We’ve got reviews for you today and we’ve got release news too.

But first, we’ve got cover art!  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 after clicking to them through our links goes to help support our efforts here at the site and we salute you for it.  Much appreciated!

Now then… the good Dr. Jahnke has carefully inspected a pair of new Shout! Factory titles for your protection and found them worthy:  Sam Raimi’s Crimewave and the 1990 live action version of Captain AmericaCrimewave arrives in stores on 5/14, followed by Cappy a week later on 5/21.  Enjoy the reviews!

Speaking of Shout!, the studio has set Electra Glide in Blue for release on Blu-ray on 6/4.  Extras will include audio commentary and an introduction by director James William Guercio, and the film’s theatrical trailer.

And Shout will release the animated The Angry Beavers: The Complete Series on DVD only on 7/30.

Warner has set the all-new, animated and direct-to-video Tom and Jerry’s Giant Adventure for release on Blu-ray and DVD on 8/6.

Sony will release The Last Exorcism, Part II on Blu-ray and DVD on 6/18.  Extras will include a commentary track with director Ed Gass-Donnelly and producer Eli Roth and 3 featurettes (Hair Salon Scare: The Last Exorcism Part II goes Viral, Nell’s Story and Shooting in New Orleans).  The film will also contain unrated footage not seen in theaters.

Eagle Rock has set a 4-disc Jethro Tull: Around the World Live collection for release on DVD on 6/25 (SRP $39.98).  It’ll include classic performances, behind-the-scenes material and even a collector’s hardback book packaging.

Well Go USA Entertainment will release Tai Chi Hero on Blu-ray and DVD on 7/2.

Magnolia Home Entertainment has set the horror title 23:59 for Blu-ray and DVD release on 6/4.

And finally, our friends at Blue Underground will release the Bad Girls Behind Bars collection on DVD on 7/30 (SRP $29.98), set to include the films Amazon Jail, Bare Behind Bars, 99 Women: Unrated Director’s Cut, Sadomania and Women Behind Bars.

Back with more tomorrow. Stay tuned!

- Bill Hunt

We’re closing out the week with more new Blu-ray Disc reviews here at The Bits.

To start with, I’ve got my thoughts on CBS’ Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Best of Both Worlds Blu-ray for you today, to go along with yesterday’s review of Season Three.  Both titles street next Tuesday (4/30).  Also today, Jeff Kleist has a review of Jurassic Park 3D on Blu-ray 3D for you to check out.  And we’ve upgraded of pair of additional BD reviews by our own Tim Salmons from the original Bits website – Paramount’s Beverly Hills Cop and Sony’s Black Dynamite.

With that, we wish you all a fine weekend.  See you Monday!

- Bill Hunt

Today’s is a quick update here at The Bits, but a good one to be sure!

First up, I’ve posted my thoughts on CBS’ forthcoming Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season Three on Blu-ray, which hits stores on 4/30.  It’s everything fans of the show could hope for – a great Blu-ray release of TNG’s best season, with more than three hours of all-new documentary material alone!  You’ll definitely want to get your pre-orders in.  I’ll check back with a review of the Best of Both Worlds stand-alone disc in the next couple of days as well.

Also today, our friends over at the Warner Archive are holding a fire sale featuring 25% off select DVD-R releases – over 1500 titles in all!  Be sure to check it out and take advantage if there are titles you’ve been looking for.  The sale runs until 4/29.

And in announcement news, Warner Home Video has just set The Incredible Burt Wonderstone for release on Blu-ray Combo and DVD on 6/24 (SRP $35.99 and $28.98).  Extras will include the Making Movie Magic with David Copperfield featurette, a gag reel, deleted scenes and alternate takes.

Here’s a look at the cover artwork for Disney’s Oz: The Great and Powerful and Warner’s Jack the Giant Slayer on Blu-ray 3D, along with CBS’ TNG: Season 3

Oz: The Great and Powerful (Blu-ray 3D)    Jack the Giant Slayer (Blu-ray 3D)    Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season Three (Blu-ray Disc)

Stay tuned…

- Bill Hunt

Okay… this one has me excited: Shout! Factory has just set Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids: The Complete Series for release on DVD on 6/15 (SRP $119.99).  The 15-disc DVD box set will include all 110 episodes of the series along with a 16-page book.  Extras will include audio commentary with Bill Cosby and the all-new Hey, Hey, Hey… It’s The Story of Fat Albert documentary (featuring a new interview with Cosby).  The booklet will also feature an essay by Dr. Gordon Berry, who was the show’s educational advisor.  I really dug that show when I was a kid, so this should be a treat.

“Hey Albert, that’s N.C.”

“N.C.?”

“No Class!”

You can see the cover artwork below.

Also today, Lionsgate has set Spring Breakers for release on Blu-ray and DVD on 7/9.

Anchor Bay will release The Amazing Adventures of the Living Corpse on Blu-ray and DVD on 6/18.

Arrow Video has delayed the worldwide Blu-ray and DVD release of Mario Bava’s Black Sabbath until 5/13.  Adjust your plans accordingly.  The disc will include the “original Italian version of the film and the re-edited, re-dubbed and re-scored American version, together and fully restored for the first time anywhere in the world, along with a host of special features, bonus material and exclusive artwork.”  You can watch a clip of one of the special features from the disc here.  Meanwhile, Bava’s Baron Blood is still set for release on Blu-ray and DVD on 4/29.

Well Go USA Entertainment has also switched the date for the BD and DVD release of New World to 7/23.

Impulse Pictures has set the Nikkatsu erotic film titles She Cat and Female Teacher Hunting for release on DVD on 5/7.

Monarch has set Love Sick Love for DVD only release on 5/21.

And Lionsgate will release a Robotech: 2-Movie Collection on DVD on 7/23, set to include Love Live Alive and The Shadow Chronicles.

Finally, Image Entertainment has set The Wicked for release on DVD only on 4/30.

Here’s a look at the cover art for Shout!’s Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids on DVD, as well as Criterion’s Babette’s Feast (due 7/23) and Warner Archive’s Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan (6/25) on Blu-ray...

Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids: The Complete Series (DVD)    Babette's Feast (Criterion Blu-ray)    Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan (Blu-ray Disc)

Stay tuned…

- Bill Hunt

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