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All right, today’s post is brief but we do have a little bit of Hobbit news for you…

Amazon France and Amazon Germany have both begun taking pre-orders for the Blu-ray 3D Combo, Blu-ray Combo and DVD release of Warner’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.  This is the theatrical cut.  Amazon France lists a street date of 4/17.  So it seems likely that the U.S. release will A) happen around this same time frame and B) be officially announced very soon, perhaps in the next week or two if not sooner.  Our industry sources still suggest that an Extended Cut version of the film is very possible later this year, but not yet 100% certain.  If it does happen, expect the Extended Cut release of An Unexpected Journey sometime in October or November, as part of the build-up to the theatrical release of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug on 12/13.  We’ll post more official information as soon as it comes in. In the meantime, here’s a look at the German cover artwork for the Blu-ray 3D Combo and DVD versions…

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (German Blu-ray 3D)    The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (German DVD)

Back tomorrow with a new Blu-ray review and more news.  Stay tuned!

- Bill Hunt

All right, some release news today…

Bits readers are reporting that Amazon has just pulled the Wachowskis’ Cloud Atlas from pre-order availability.  They had been taking  Blu-ray and DVD pre-orders for a month or so with an expected release date of 2/5.  However, I should note that the studio has never officially announced the title or its street date, so technically this isn’t Warner pulling the release – it’s Amazon that jumped the gun by listing a 2/5 street date.  I’m sure that 2/5 was at one point the tentative release date, but it’s clear that the studio simply hasn’t finalized its release plan yet or we’d already have seen an announcement.  We’ve asked the studio what’s going on with the title and will let you know when we hear back.  Unofficially, we’re hearing that the studio may have plans to return the film to theaters for a brief time.  In any case, we expect WHV to make its official announcement of the title sometime in the next few weeks.

Speaking of Warner Home Video, they’re going to start releasing individual seasons of Friends on Blu-ray on 4/30, starting with the first two.  Season One and Season Two each carry an SRP of $25.98.

Also, Warner and the BBC have set Alice Through the Looking Glass (1973) and Alice in Wonderland (1986) for DVD release on 3/12, presumably taking advantage of the promotional oomph of Disney’s Oz the Great and Powerful which hits theatres on 3/8.

Sony has set A Dark Truth for DVD only release on 3/5, followed by The First Time and Mob Doctor: The Complete First Season on 3/12 and Angus Buchan’s Ordinary People on 3/19.

Showtime and Paramount have set The Borgias: The Second Season for Blu-ray and DVD release on 3/26.  The set will include a pair of featurettes, as well as promotional materials for a number of other Showtime series.

And Disney has set Perception: The Complete First Season for DVD only release on 5/21.

Finally, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment and our friends over at the Home Theater Forum are allowing you to vote on which deep catalog classic films you’d like to see delivered to Blu-ray in the months ahead.  Click on the links to weigh in.  Titles already expected from Fox on Blu-ray include Laura on 3/2, Panic in the Streets on 3/26, Hello, Dolly! on 4/2 and Viva Zapata! on 5/7.

Stay tuned!

- Bill Hunt

All right, in the wake of CES – not to mention yesterday’s announcement that Schindler’s List is coming to Blu-ray – we’ve got even more new announcement news to cover today…

The big one is that Lionsgate will release The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 on Blu-ray Combo and DVD on 3/2 (SRP $39.99 and $30.98).  Extras will include audio commentary with director Bill Condon, the 7-part Forever: Filming Breaking Dawn Part 2 documentary (includes Rebirth, Renesmee, The Cottage, The Gathering, The Field, The Battle and Forever), an additional Two Movies at Once featurette and Green Day’s The Forgotten music video.  Here’s the cover artwork – both versions are available for pre-order now on Amazon by clicking on the art...

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 (Blu-ray Disc)    The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 (DVD)

Also today, 20th Century Fox has set Chasing Mavericks for Blu-ray and DVD release on 2/26.  Extras will include audio commentary from director Michael Apted and writers Brandon Hooper and Jim Meenaghan, 4 deleted scenes and 4 featurettes (Surf City, Shooting Waves, Live Like Jay and Surfer Zen) plus an UltraViolet version.

And in addition to their 3/12 release of Hitchcock (just announced and covered in yesterday’s post), Fox is also releasing an Alfred Hitchcock: The Classic Collection on Blu-ray the same day that includes their previously released BD singles of Notorious, Rebecca and Spellbound.

MPI Media will release Guillaume Canet’s Little White Lies on Blu-ray and DVD on 2/5 (SRP $29.98 and $24.98).  The films stars Marion Cotillard.

Also today, our friends over at Kino Lorber have sent us hot new Blu-ray Disc cover art for Jean Rollin’s Zombie Lake, Jess Franco’s Oasis of the Zombies and Peter Walker’s House of Whipcord, Die Screaming Marianne, Schizo and The Comeback - all Redemption Films titles due in February - as well as Buster Keaton’s College (due 3/5).  Here’s a look at some of them.  All are now available for pre-order on Amazon…

Zombie Lake (Blu-ray Disc)    Oasis of the Zombies (Blu-ray Disc)    House of Whipcord (Blu-ray Disc)

Die Screaming Marianne (Blu-ray Disc)    Schizo (Blu-ray Disc)    College (Blu-ray Disc)

Stay tuned...

- Bill Hunt

The big release news today is that Universal has officially unveiled a title we’ve expected for a while now, as 2013 is the film’s 20th anniversary: Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List.  The Schindler’s List: 20th Anniversary Limited Edition officially streets as a Blu-ray Combo pack on 3/5 (including BD, DVD, a Digital Copy and UltraViolet).  It’s been restored from the original 35mm film negative in a process supervised by Spielberg himself.  Extras will include the Voices from the List documentary and the USC Shoah Foundation Story with Steven Spielberg featurette.  The title is now available on Amazon and you can pre-order by clicking on the cover artwork below.

Also, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has set Hitchcock for Blu-ray Combo and DVD release on 3/12.  Extras will include audio commentary with Sacha Gervasi and Stephen Rebello, a deleted scene, 9 featurettes (Becoming the Master: From Hopkins to Hitchcock, Obsessed with Hitchcock, Sacha Gervasi’s Behind the Scenes Cell Phone Footage, Hitchcock Cell Phone PSA, The Story, The Cast, Danny Elfman Maestro, Hitch and Alma and Remembering Hitchcock) and a theatrical trailer.

Also today, Warner Home Video has set Sparkle for Blu-ray release on 5/7 (SRP $19.98). Maverick: The Complete Second Season is coming on DVD only on 4/23 (SRP $39.98). Warner is also taking New Line’s The Nightmare on Elm Street Collection Blu-ray to retail widely on 3/5 (SRP $59.99). The set has been a Best Buy-exclusive in recent months.  It includes all 7 original films in the series.

Warner and BBC Video have set Twenty Twelve: The Complete First Season for DVD only release on 1/15 (SRP $34.98).

HBO will release Hemingway & Gellhorn on Blu-ray and DVD on 4/2 (SRP $24.99 and $19.97). The was directed by Philip Kaufman and stars Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman.

Shout! Factory has set John Flynn’s Rolling Thunder (1977) for Blu-ray release on 4/9 (SRP $19.97).

Image Entertainment is going to start delivering The Dick Van Dyke Show on Blu-ray in individual seasons on 4/9.  Season One will sell for $59.98.

And we’ve just gotten in the final cover artwork for Paramount’s Top Gun: Limited 3D Edition Blu-ray – you can see it below.

Here’s the BD cover artwork for Universal’s Schindler’s List, Paramount’s Top Gun: Limited 3D Edition (due 2/19) and CBS’s Star Trek: Enterprise – Season One (due 3/26), as well as Fox’s Hitchcock, Warner’s The Nightmare on Elm Street Collection and Shout! Factory’s Rolling Thunder. All are now available for pre-order on Amazon.com by clicking on the covers…

Schindler's List: 20th Anniversary Limited Edition (Blu-ray Disc)    Top Gun: Limited 3D Edition (Blu-ray 3D)    Star Trek: Enterprise - Season One (Blu-ray Disc)

Hitchcock (Blu-ray Disc)    The Nightmare on Elm Street Collection (Blu-ray Disc)    Rolling Thunder (Blu-ray Disc)

Stay tuned...

- Bill Hunt

As you might expect at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, 4K was all the rage.  All of the major leading flat panel display companies were showing 4K Ultra HD product at the show, including Sony, LG, Samsung, Toshiba, Vizio and others.  Sizes for actual consumer-bound product ranged from 50-inch “entry level” models to huge displays with over 80-plus-inch diagonals.  Naturally, they all look fantastic – just as they did at last year’s CES.  The catch, of course, is that the market for these displays is really only the super enthusiast – those very high-end consumers willing to pay prices ranging up to well over $20,000 for such a device.  All of the manufacturers claimed that their models will be “more affordable than expected,” but few were willing to quote specific price ranges.  LG did indicate that they intend to have an 84-inch OLED 4K set available in 2013 for around $12,000, but that’s still well outside the price range for all but the most affluent early adopters.

Of course, the problem with 4K Ultra HD isn’t just that the displays themselves will remain exorbitantly expensive for the next few years at least – there’s also the problem of having native 4K video content to view on them.  Sony has pledged to begin offering 4K film titles for their 4K display customers starting this summer, via their own 4K video distribution service.  The company hasn’t specified exactly how this service will work, but it would seem likely that some kind of special Internet-connected set-top box will be involved, employing a secure digital streaming system to deliver content from Sony Pictures servers.  There was unofficial chatter at the show that perhaps the box might include a Blu-ray drive – so if you have the Sony Blu-ray version of a particular title for example, the disc itself would unlock a 4K stream delivered to the box digitally.  Watch for Sony to make official announcements in the next few months.

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