My Two Cents

My Two Cents

Happy Halloween, folks! Hope you’re all enjoying this spookiest of days on the calendar each year. Here at The Bits today, we’re celebrating in a couple ways…

First, the good Dr. Jahnke has delivered the coup de grace in this year’s Hell Plaza Oktoberfest with a review of Criterion’s new Rosemary’s Baby on Blu-ray – just the perfectly creepy film to end the Fest-ivities with and it’s a great release to boot. And hats off to Adam for another successful Oktoberfest celebration – his sixth in a row!

Also today, we’re kicking off a new regular column here at the site – Tim Salmon's Dailies! This first installment features another Halloween-appropriate topic with Tim's in-depth appreciation of the Friday the 13th franchise. We hope you enjoy it!

In release news today… 20th Century Fox has set House at the End of the Street for release on Blu-ray and DVD on 1/8/2013. Both will include an unrated cut of the film. The BD will exclusively add the Journey into Terror: Inside the House at the End of the Street featurette and the film’s theatrical trailer.

Warner and the BBC have set Red Dwarf: X for Blu-ray and DVD release on 1/8/13 (SRP $39.98 and $34.98). This is the brand new series. No word yet on extras if any, but all 6 episodes will be included.

Magnolia Home Entertainment has set the ‘Claymation’ animated film The Adventures of Mark Twain for release as a Blu-ray and DVD Collector’s Edition on 12/4 (SRP $19.98 and $14.98). Extras will include director’s commentary, 2 featurettes (Story of Claymation and Behind the Scenes), soundtrack selections, crew interviews, a gallery and the film’s trailer.

Magnolia also has V/H/S coming to Blu-ray and DVD on 12/4 (SRP $29.98 and $26.98). Extras will include deleted scenes, 3 featurettes (Visual Effects, Behind the Scenes and AXS TV: A Look at V/H/S) and trailers.

And Shout! Factory has revealed the extras to be included on their Deadly Blessing: Collector’s Edition Blu-ray and DVD (due 1/22/2013). Look for an all-new audio commentary with director Wes Craven, 4 interview featurettes (Say Your Prayers!, Secrets Revealed, Rise of the Incubus and So It Was Written), radio and TV spots, and the film's theatrical trailer.

Also today, I wanted to let you know about a couple changes we’ve made here at The Bits based on some of your reader suggestions about the new website. A number of you had mentioned that you missed the way you could read an entire week’s worth of daily My Two Cents news columns in one glance just by scrolling down the home page. Some of you had also expressed a dislike for the way the new site made you click into a post to read the whole thing, then click back out and into the next one, etc. I totally agree with both points! So what we’ve done is:

  • On the home page, you can now read an entire week’s worth of My Two Cents posts in their entirety without having to click in and out of individual posts.
  • To read back beyond a week, we’ve added a link at the bottom of the home page: READ MORE MY TWO CENTS>> Clicking on that will take you to the My Two Cents column page where all the columns are archived.
  • On the My Two Cents column page, I’ve also altered the formatting so you can scroll through a full week’s posts in their entirety without having to click in and out of individual posts. What’s more, going back to read older columns is easy – all you have to do is navigate back a page at a time using the links at the bottom of the page or you can access all the posts for a particular month using the MY TWO CENTS ARCHIVES links on the right-hand column.

So there you go! Hopefully, that will make the experience of reading my daily news update here on the new updated Bits similar to that of the old site.

All right, we’ll leave you with a look at more new cover artwork. Here’s the updated BD Book art for Warner’s Empire of the Sun (now set for release on 11/13), Warner and the BBC’s Red Dwarf: X and Shout! Factory’s Deadly Blessing: Collector’s Edition

Empire of the Sun (Blu-ray Disc)    Red Dwarf: X (Blu-ray Disc)    Deadly Blessing: Collector's Edition (Blu-ray Disc)

Have a happy and safe Halloween and we’ll see you back here tomorrow! Stay tuned…

- Bill Hunt


Holy guacamole! Here’s an industry news shocker that’s breaking around the newswires as we speak: Walt Disney Studios has just announced that they’ve purchased George Lucas’ Lucasfilm Ltd for an estimated $4.05 billion. This includes the rights to the Star Wars franchise among other properties. What’s more, Disney has announced that they plan to make at least one and maybe several new Star Wars sequels, beginning with the release of Episode VII in 2015! WOW.

Here’s a quote from the original announcement: “Lucasfilm reflects the extraordinary passion, vision, and storytelling of its founder, George Lucas,” said Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger in a release announcing the deal. “This transaction combines a world-class portfolio of content including Star Wars, one of the greatest family entertainment franchises of all time, with Disney’s unique and unparalleled creativity across multiple platforms, businesses, and markets to generate sustained growth and drive significant long-term value.”

Just when you thought the Star Wars franchise had been milked right into the ground, the cycle begins anew. There’s obviously going to be TONS of additional details and coverage of this breaking news in the hours, days and weeks ahead, so we’ll check back here with updates as more information comes in. Meanwhile, additional details can be found at Deadline Hollywood and Variety.

UPDATE – 1PM: We’re hearing that the deal also includes Lucasfilm’s technology companies – LucasArts, Industrial Light + Magic and Skywalker Sound. It MAY also include Lucas’ share of the Indiana Jones franchise as well, which would make Disney a partner with Paramount on future projects. Additional stories here at the L.A. Times and Hollywood Reporter.

Statement by George Lucas: “For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next,” said George Lucas, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Lucasfilm. “It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers. I’ve always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime. I’m confident that with Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy, and having a new home within the Disney organization, Star Wars will certainly live on and flourish for many generations to come. Disney’s reach and experience give Lucasfilm the opportunity to blaze new trails in film, television, interactive media, theme parks, live entertainment, and consumer products.”

UPDATE – 3 PM: Here are new and updated details on this deal from the official Disney investors’ conference call this afternoon:

  • Deal signed and announced earlier today – includes Star Wars franchise and all Lucasfilm operating businesses.
  • Indiana Jones franchise rights ARE also included in this deal.
  • Disney loves the Indiana Jones franchise, but it wasn't included in the studio’s Lucasfilm valuation due to its “encumbrances” (meaning existing financial/legal involvement of Paramount).
  • First project under the joint under Disney/Lucas partnership will be Star Wars: Episode 7 in 2015, followed by Episode 8 and Episode 9.
  • Disney purchased “extensive and detailed” treatment for Episodes 7-9 as part of this deal which they “feel very good about.”
  • Disney long term plan is to release a new live-action Star Wars film every 2-3 years – films may eventually explore entire 20,000 year time-span of the franchise.
  • It’s Lucas’ plan to stay retired, but he will serve as creative consultant on new Star Wars films. Kathleen Kennedy will executive produce. Both are now sitting down with writers to discuss stories.
  • Fox retains certain distribution rights to the existing Star Wars films but not the new franchise films going forward.
  • Kennedy will serve as Lucasfilm president, reporting to Bob Iger at Disney.
  • Disney plans to expand Star Wars brand into many new product categories and internationally.
  • Star Wars brand will also be expanded into Disney parks, games and TV businesses.
  • Iger feels Disney XD would be a good TV home for the franchise going forward.
  • Star Wars interactive strategy: Disney will focus more on social and mobile platforms, opportunistically on consoles.
  • Deal was 50% cash and 50% stock – $4.05 billion
  • Disney believes Lucasfilm value is comparable to value of Marvel, but valuation is only based on Star Wars alone – value of other Lucasfilm intellectual properties are in addition to this.
  • Disney plans to let ILM continue operating as it currently does.

NEW VIDEO: George Lucas and Kathleen Kennedy discuss the future of Star Wars at Disney…

Whew! Stay tuned…

- Bill Hunt


Head's-up folks: Are any of you out there fans of the Criterion Collection? Yeah, we know you are! Our own Todd Doogan would like you to know that today Barnes & Noble kicks off their big 50% off art house films on DVD/BD sale, featuring the Criterion Collection! The sale extends only for a limited time but LOTS of great Criterion titles are available on disc for half off so hurry to take advantage!

Also this morning, Dr. Jahnke's posted his penultimate Hell Plaza Oktoberfest review for the year... Warner's Chernobyl Diaries on Blu-ray Disc! Be sure to tune in tomorrow for his final review of the Fest. What ghoulishly horrorific title has the Doctor saved for last? Check back in here at 12:01 AM tomorrow - Halloween itself - to find out!

Also today, as you can probably tell by the pictures and video on the news this afternoon, lot of people in the communities affected by Hurricane Sandy can all the support they can get right now. So please consider making a donation to the American Red Cross or a similar relief organization. Every little bit helps.

Back with more later. Stay tuned...

- Bill Hunt


Here's a bit of sad and tragic film-related news: The "tall ship" replica of the HMS Bounty used in filming the 1962 classic Mutiny on the Bounty (as well as some of the Pirates of the Caribbean films and others) has sunk off the coast of North Carolina in rough weather related to Hurricane Sandy. You can read more here at The Telegraph. Two members of its 16-person crew are still missing.

For all you Bits readers who live in the Northeast, which is about to get hit hard by Sandy, please stay safe. Our thoughts, prayers and best wishes are with you and your families.

- Bill Hunt


Afternoon, folks. Welcome to the last week or October... and the final three days of Adam’s Hell Plaza Oktoberfest!

In case you missed them on Thursday and Friday, Adam’s delivered reviews of the Steven King’s Sleepwalkers and the Hammer Films classic Twins of Evil, and his Oktoberfest review for today is none other than Jess Franco’s Exorcism (a.k.a. Demoniac)! Just two more Oktoberfest reviews to go for this year, so be sure to check back tomorrow for the penultimate entry!

In release news today, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has set the FX series Justified: The Complete Third Season for release on Blu-ray and DVD on 12/31 (SRP $65.99 and $55.99). You’ll get all 13 episodes along with deleted scenes, outtakes, cast and crew commentary on nine episodes and 3 featurettes (Crossing the Line: Making Season 3, Ellstin’s Joint: Nobles Holler Set Tour and Anatomy of a Stunt). The Blu-ray version will exclusively include one additional featurette (In Conversation:  Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins). You’ll find the cover artwork below.

Also, Warner Home Video has announced the Blu-ray Combo and DVD release of Clint Eastwood’s Trouble with the Curve on 12/18 (SRP $35.99 and $22.97). Extras will include a pair of featurettes (Rising through the Ranks and For the Love of the Game) plus an UltraViolet digital copy. Again, you’ll find the cover artwork below.

In other news today, Saban Entertainment and Lionsgate have set Power Rangers Samurai: A Team Divided - Volume 3 and Power Rangers Super Samurai: Rise of the BullZooka - Volume 3 for DVD only release on 1/15, followed by Lionsgate’s Hansel & Gretel: Warriors of Witchcraft on DVD only on 1/22.

Lionsgate has also set the Sam Raimi produced horror tale The Possession for Blu-ray and DVD release on 1/15 (SRP $39.99 and $29.95). Both versions will include audio commentary with director Ole Bornedal, a second commentary with writers Juliet Snowden and Stiles White and The Real History of the Dibbuk Box featurette. See the artwork below.

Image Entertainment has set Syfy’s Ghost Hunters Academy for DVD only release on 1/15 (SRP $24.98).

The BBC as set the original U.K. version of Call the Midwife: Season One for Blu-ray and DVD release on 11/6 (SRP $39.98 and $34.98).

Shout! Factory will release The Sarah Silverman Program: Season Three for DVD only release on 12/18. The set includes the final 10 episodes of the series plus commentaries, audition videos, deleted scenes, the original pilot and the Writers Conversation featurette.

And our friends at Blue Underground (via Entertainment One) have announced some February 2013 releases (all due 2/26), including a Midnight Movies Mondo Triple Feature DVD of Mondo Cane, Mondo Cane 2 and Women of the World, a Midnight Movies Suspense Triple Feature DVD of The Fifth Gord, The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion and The Pyjama Girl Case and a Midnight Movies Shockumentary Triple Feature DVD of Africa: Blood & Cuts, Goodbye Uncle Tom and The Godfathers of Mondo. SRP is $19.98 each

In other news this afternoon, we’ve got some very cool soundtrack CD news: GNP Crescendo is releasing the complete score for Star Trek: Generations in a terrific 2-disc Expanded Collector’s Edition set. It’s due on 10/29 for $24.98. Pre-orders are being accepted now here at their online store.

We’ve learned that Costco currently appears to have an exclusive on DVD versions of Wuthering Heights and The Best Years of Our Lives from Warner Home Video. These will be released widely either right before Christmas or early next year. No word yet on Blu-ray versions (rest assured we’re trying to find out) but if you’ll recall these long out of print titles were part of Warner’s deal to acquire the home video release rights to some 74 titles from the Samuel Goldwyn library, which we first reported on way back in May. Warner’s going to be awfully busy in 2013. Thanks to Bits reader Ric. T for the heads-up on the Costco spot!

Lot of you have asked about my review of Prometheus - it’s coming very soon along with other big reviews. Working all the little bugs out of the redesigned site has taken up a lot of time, but I’ve now diving into review work so check back over the next few days.

Finally, we wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the passing of actor and Native American activist Russell Means, who appeared in such films as The Last of the Mohicans, Natural Born Killers, Into the West and others. He died last week at the age of 72. More here.

Here’s a look at the Blu-ray cover art for Sony’s Justified: The Complete Third Season, Lionsgate’s The Possession and Warner’s Trouble with the Curve...

Justified: The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray Disc)    The Possession (Blu-ray Disc)    Trouble with the Curve (Blu-ray Disc)

Stay tuned!

- Bill Hunt


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