My Two Cents
All right, today's final update for the week is going to pale in comparison to yesterday's big Warner news, but still we've got a few good things for you...
First of all, Adam rounds out his first full week of The Hell Plaza Oktoberfest 666 with a bang by delivering his epic, in-depth review of the Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection Blu-ray box set! Sounds like it’s pretty awesome and well worth your hard earned clams, so be sure to get yourselves a copy while they’re on sale.
Next up, we do have one more bit of Warner news to report today: WHV has officially set The Jazz Singer for 3-disc Blu-ray Book release on 1/8/2013 (SRP $35.99). Extras will include audio commentary by film historians Ron Hutchinson (founder of The Vitaphone Project) and Vince Giordano, a collection of vintage cartoons and shorts (Al Jolson in A Plantation Act, An Intimate Dinner in Celebration of Warner Bros. Silver Jubilee, I Love to Singa, Hollywood Handicap and A Day at Santa Anita), the 1947 Lux Radio Theater Broadcast starring Al Jolson, the film's theatrical trailer, the feature-length The Dawn of Sound: How Movies Learned to Talk documentary, 2 rare excerpts from Gold Diggers of Broadway (a 1929 WB film, most of which is considered lost), studio shorts celebrating the early sound era (Finding His Voice, The Voice That Thrilled the World, Okay for Sound, When Talkies Were Young and The Voice from the Screen) and a collection of rare Vitaphone shorts (some 3 and a half hours worth) many considered lost for decades.
Also today, Universal has set the animated ParaNorman for Blu-ray 3D Combo, Blu-ray Combo and DVD release on 11/27. In addition to all the usual bells and whistles, all three versions will include audio commentary with director Sam Fell and writer/director Chris Butler, 7 short featurettes on the characters, the Peering Through the Veil production featurette and Preliminary Animatic Sequences with commentary.
In other news, we’ve got a quick follow-up on the status of those retailer exclusive Bond BD singles. Readers are reporting to us that they've now seen the three Walmart exclusive titles in stores, although initial stocks appear to be limited. The three Target-exclusive titles are also now arriving in stores - several East Coast readers have reported seeing them. As for the three Best Buy-exclusive titles, we have no sightings yet, however sources tell us that they may arrive in stores next week and in fact may appear in Sunday newspaper circular ads this weekend so be sure to watch for them.
Finally, one more item for you Bond fans: The new title track for the upcoming Bond film Skyfall is now available for purchase and preview, as sung by Adele. It had its official debut early this morning on her official website. Do check it out.
All right, that’s all for this week. It's been a big one!
Have a great weekend and stay tuned...
- Bill Hunt
Morning, everyone! We’ve got some REALLY great stuff for you today.
Kicking things off, the good Dr. Jahnke has turned in his next installment of The Hell Plaza Oktoberfest 666 with a review of Ken Russell’s The Devils on Region 2 DVD. And be sure to check back in the wee early hours of Friday morning for his look at the long awaited Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection on Blu-ray!
Now then… I had the good fortune yesterday to attend Warner’s official press event at which they unveiling their plans for next year’s 90th Anniversary celebration. Suffice it to say that the studio has a very nice slate of titles and releases on the way, all of which will be branded with the official Anniversary logo seen here.
It all starts on 1/29/13 with the release of the largest multi-film Blu-ray and DVD box sets from any major studio, including Best of Warner Bros.: 100 Film DVD Collection and Best of Warner Bros.: 50 Film Blu-ray Collection (SRP $597.92 each) .
The 100 Film DVD Collection will include: The Broadway Melody (1929), Cimarron (1931), The Public Enemy (1931), Grand Hotel (1932), 42nd Street (1933), Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), A Night at the Opera (1935), The Great Ziegfeld (1936), The Life of Emile Zola (1937), The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), Dark Victory (1939), The Wizard of Oz (1939), Gone with the Wind (1939), The Philadelphia Story (1940), Citizen Kane (1941), The Maltese Falcon (1941), Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), Mrs. Miniver (1942), Casablanca (1942), Gaslight (1944), Anchors Aweigh (1945), Mildred Pierce (1945), The Big Sleep (1946), The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), A Streetcar Named Desire: The Original Director’s Version (1951), An American in Paris (1951), Singin’ in the Rain (1952), A Star Is Born (1954), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), East of Eden (1955), Rebel Without a Cause (1955), The Searchers (1956), Giant (1956), Around the World in 80 Days (1956), A Face in the Crowd (1957), Gigi (1958), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), North by Northwest (1959), Ben-Hur (1959), How the West Was Won (1962), What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), Viva Las Vegas (1964), Doctor Zhivago (1965), Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), The Dirty Dozen (1967), Cool Hand Luke (1967), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Bullitt (1968), The Wild Bunch: The Original Director’s Cut (1969), Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971), Dirty Harry (1971), A Clockwork Orange (1971), Cabaret (1972), Enter the Dragon (1973), The Exorcist: Extended Director’s Cut (1973), Blazing Saddles (1974), Dog Day Afternoon (1975), One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), All the President’s Men (1976), Superman: The Movie (1978), The Shining (1980), Caddyshack (1980), Clash of the Titans (1981), Chariots of Fire (1981), The Outsiders (1983), National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983), Risky Business (1983), The Right Stuff (1983), Amadeus: Director’s Cut (1984), The Goonies (1985), The Color Purple (1985), Lethal Weapon (1987), Full Metal Jacket (1987), Batman (1989), Driving Miss Daisy (1989), GoodFellas (1990), Unforgiven (1992), The Bodyguard (1992), The Fugitive (1993), Natural Born Killers: The Director’s Cut (1994), The Shawshank Redemption (1994), Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994), Seven (1995), L.A. Confidential (1997), The Matrix (1999), Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001), The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), The Notebook (2004), Million Dollar Baby (2004), The Departed (2006), 300 (2007), The Dark Knight (2008), The Hangover (2009), The Blind Side (2009), Sherlock Holmes (2009) and Inception (2010).
The 50 Film Blu-ray Collection will include: Grand Hotel (1932), Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), The Wizard of Oz (1939), Gone with the Wind (1939), The Maltese Falcon (1941), Mrs. Miniver (1942), Casablanca (1942), The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), A Streetcar Named Desire: The Original Restored Version (1951), An American in Paris (1951), Singin’ in the Rain (1952), Gigi (1958), North by Northwest (1959), Ben-Hur (1959), How the West Was Won (1962), Doctor Zhivago (1965), Cool Hand Luke (1967), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Bullitt (1968), Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971), Dirty Harry (1971), A Clockwork Orange (1971), The Exorcist: Extended Director’s Cut (1973), One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), Superman: The Movie (1978), The Shining (1980), Chariots of Fire (1981), Risky Business (1983), Amadeus: Director’s Cut (1984), The Color Purple (1985), Lethal Weapon (1987), Full Metal Jacket (1987), Driving Miss Daisy (1989), GoodFellas (1990), Unforgiven (1992), The Bodyguard (1992), Natural Born Killers: The Director’s Cut (1994), The Shawshank Redemption (1994), The Matrix (1999), Million Dollar Baby (2004), Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001), The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), The Departed (2006), The Dark Knight (2008), The Hangover (2009), The Blind Side (2009), Sherlock Holmes (2009) and Inception (2010).
Both will also include a pair of brand new documentaries Tales from the Warner Bros. Lot (which was entirely shot on the studio lot and features interesting stories from various actors, directors and studio employees) and Warner Bros. Lot Tour (which is just what it sounds like).
A set of additional Best of Warner Bros.: 20 Film DVD Collections (SRP $99.92 each) will be released throughout the year including Best Picture Winners (1/29), Musicals (2/5), Romance (4/2), Comedies (7/2) and Thrillers (9/1).
Actor/director Clint Eastwood will be the special focus of a pair of new box sets (due Q2, sometime in mid-May), including a Clint Eastwood 40 Film DVD Collection and a Clint Eastwood 20 Film Blu-ray Collection. Details of the BD set weren’t available, but the DVD will include Where Eagles Dare, Kelly’s Heroes, Dirty Harry, Magnum Force, The Outlaw Josey Wales, The Enforcer, The Gauntlet, Every Which Way But Loose, Bronco Billy, Any Which Way You Can, Firefox, Honkytonk Man, Sudden Impact, Tightrope, City Heat, Pale Rider, Heartbreak Ridge, The Dead Pool, Bird, Pink Cadillac, White Hunter Black Heat, The Rookie, Unforgiven, A Perfect World, The Bridges of Madison County, Absolute Power, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, True Crime, Space Cowboys, Blood Work, Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, Letters from Iwo Jima, Gran Torino, Invictus, The Eastwood Factor documentary, Hereafter, J. Edgar, Trouble with the Curve and Eastwood: Directs: The Untold Story (an all new documentary directed by Richard Schickel).
TV and animated titles will feature in new DVD collector’s sets including Best of Warner Bros.: Superman TV Collection (May 2013 – SRP $100), Best of Warner Bros. : Hanna-Barbera 25 Cartoon Collection (May), Best of Warner Bros. : Looney Tunes 25 Cartoon Collection (July) and Best of Warner Bros. : DC Comics 25 Cartoon Collection (August). SRP on the 25 Cartoon Collections will be $26.99 each.
For Blu-ray fans, among the films that will be released for the first time ever on the format in 2013 are Mrs. Miniver, Grand Hotel and Driving Miss Daisy (already announced for release on 1/8), The Jazz Singer and Cabaret (Q1 2013), Little Caesar, Public Enemy, Petrified Forest and White Heat (Q2 – as part of an Original Gangsters Collection: Volume 2 or BD singles), House of Wax Blu-ray 3D (Q3), East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause and Giant (TBA - available as BD Book singles or together in a James Dean: Ultimate Collector’s Edition), The Big Parade (Q4), The Right Stuff: 30th Anniversary Edition (Q4) and The Best Years of Our Lives, A Star is Born (1976), Sommersby, Easter Parade, Westworld, Best in Show and The Nativity Story (all TBA).
Note that the James Dean: Ultimate Collector’s Edition will be a 9-disc set that includes all three films remastered with a trio of new documentaries (James Dean: Forever Young, James Dean: Sense Memories and James Dean: TNT Biopic), plus a book and more.
A few previously released catalog films will also be revisited during 2013. Among them are:
The Dark Knight Trilogy: Ultimate Collector’s Edition Blu-ray box set (Q3) which includes all three films plus exclusive collectables and nearly an hour of all new material.
The Mad Max Collection (Q2) that includes Mad Max, The Road Warrior and Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.
The Enter the Dragon: 40th Anniversary Edition (Q2).
The complete Ocean’s Collection (Q3) including all three films plus new special features on the making of each film and the legacy of the franchise.
The Exorcist: 40th Anniversary Edition (Q3).
A Christmas Story: 30th Anniversary Edition (Q4).
Here’s an interesting one: The Wizard of Oz: 75th Anniversary Edition on Blu-ray 3D (Q4)! The film will also return to theatres for the anniversary.
Note that there will also be a Contemporary Gangsters: Volume 1 set that includes Goodfellas, Heat, The Departed and The Town (Q2).
Of course, all of the film’s catalog releases on Blu-ray and DVD will be rebranded with the 90th Anniversary logo.
And finally, among the new films you can expect on Blu-ray and DVD in 2013 are The Wachowskis’ Cloud Atlas and Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (both TBA).
Obviously there’s always the possibility of additional catalog releases as yet unannounced. But there you go: The gems of Warner’s 2013 home video release slate on Blu-ray and DVD. More specific details and cover art will follow in the weeks and months ahead.
Start saving your money, folks.
- Bill Hunt
Okay, we've got a couple of quick updates for you this morning and some cool new cover art to show you as well.
First, Disney has just announced a slate of new catalog Blu-rays for release on 12/11 and you’ll be happy to learn that the long-awaited Dick Tracy is among them.
SRP is $26.50 for Dick Tracy and it will feature an all new digital restoration. No word on extras. Other titles coming on 12/11 are Babes in Toyland, Heavyweights and The Joy Luck Club.
Also, Universal has set Smash: Season One for DVD only release on 1/8/13. The 4-disc set will include deleted scenes, a gag reel and 2 featurettes (A Dream Come True and Song & Dance).
Here at the site this morning, Dr. Jahnke's Hell Plaza Oktoberfest review for the day is none other than Lionsgate's new Mad Monster Party on Blu-ray - an oft-overlooked Rankin/Bass classic. Don't miss it!
And in other news, a number of you have reported that neither Target or Best Buy seems to have their exclusive Bond BD singles in stock yet, and Walmart’s stock is thus far limited. With any luck more will appear in the coming weeks. It could be that shipments were initially held low so as to favor sales of the complete Bond 50 box set. If you start finding them in stores, drop us an e-mail to let us know.
Speaking of e-mail, we’re getting a TON of messages from readers with reaction to the new site design, overwhelmingly positive I’m pleased (and relieved!) to say. Some of you have offered good suggestions on subtle ways to adjust things for easier reading and we’re looking into them. In any case, if you’ve e-mailed us we surely do appreciate it. But given the volume of messages we’re getting please be patient – we’re trying to respond to all of them but it’s going to take time.
Finally today, I wanted to make note of the passing of actor Michael O’Hare last week, who some of you may recall as Commander Sinclair from the first season of Babylon 5. He was 60.
All right, I promised you some cool cover artwork. Here’s a look at both versions of Fox’s Prometheus (due on this coming Tuesday, 10/9), along with Disney’s Dick Tracy and some hot new art from our friends at Kino Lorber including Die Nibelungen (due 11/6), D.W. Griffith’s Abraham Lincoln (11/13) and The David O. Selznick Collection (also 11/13)...
- Bill Hunt
All right, we're getting settled into the new site nicely. The old site has been archived for your browsing pleasure - just look in the menu under FEATURES for THE ORIGINAL BITS. Also, those of you who enjoy Russell Hammond's weekly Release Dates & Artwork update can now find it in its new location here at the site - just click the RELEASE DATES option in the menu above. More updates are coming so keep checking back.
In release news this morning, we've got a few more details for you on Warner Home Video's 3-disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo release of The Dark Knight Rises due on 12/4 (SRP $35.99). Extras will include the Batmobile documentary, the feature-length multi-part Ending the Knight documentary (includes The Prologue: High Altitude Hijacking, Beneath Gotham, Return to the Batcave, Batman vs. Bane, The Bat, Armory Accepted, Gameday Destruction, Demolishing a City Street, The Pit, The Chant, The War on Wall Street, Race to the Reactor, The Journey of Bruce Wayne and Gotham's Reckoning), 2 character featurettes (A Girl's Gotta Eat and Shadows & Light in Large Format), The End of a Legend, trailers and a gallery of artwork.
There will also be a 5-disc The Dark Knight Trilogy Limited Edition Blu-ray Giftset (SRP $52.99) and a 3-disc The Dark Knight Trilogy Limited Edition DVD Giftset (SRP $38.99). Each will include Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. The DVD only version of The Dark Knight streets on 1/1/13 (SRP $22.97). There's also The Dark Knight Rises: Limited Edition on Amazon that comes with a replica of Batman's cowl, and there are likely to be retailer-exclusives too so be sure to watch for them.
Warner Home Video has also officially set The Notebook: Ultimate Collector's Edition Gift Set to arrive on Blu-ray/DVD Combo on 1/15 (SRP $49.99). In addition to Blu-ray, DVD and UltraViolet digital versions of the film, you'll also get exclusive swag including a collectible golden locket, a set of postcards with scenes from the film and a "vintage leather-style blank journal with gold edging and ribbon marker; pages designed with watermarked letters and images from the film". So there you go.
Not to be outdone, Disney has revealed that the Peter Pan: Diamond Edition will soon be released on Blu-ray/DVD Combo and DVD. No street date is yet available, but retailer materials reveal a Spring 2013 release and sources are telling us to expect the street date to be sometime in February.
Meanwhile, Sony has set the 1998 Les Miserables for Blu-ray Disc release on 12/11 (SRP $19.99). Extras will include the A First Look at Les Miserables featurette.
Sony has also announced more new MOD DVD titles for release on 11/6, including Caught, The Vertical Ray of the Sun, The Endurance, Camp on Blood Island, Don't Panic Chaps, All Ashore, The Boogieman Will Get You, Men Without Law, Hannah's Law and Breaking In: The Complete Series.
Anchor Bay and The Weinstein Company have Lawless coming on Blu-ray and DVD on 11/27 (SRP $39.99 and $29.98). Extras will include audio commentary with director John Hillcoat and author Matt Bondurant, 2 featurettes (The True Story of the Wettest County in the World and Franklin County, VA: Then and Now), Willie Nelson's Midnight Run music video and deleted scenes.
And WWE Studios and Anchor Bay will release the horror film The Day on Blu-ray/DVD Combo and DVD on 11/17 (SRP $29.99 and $26.98). Extras will include audio commentary with executive producer/director Doug Aarniokoski, producer Guy A. Danella and writer Luke Passmore.
Also today, a lot of fans have asked us about the differences between Fox's 2-disc Prometheus Blu-ray/DVD Combo ($39.99 - Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy) and the Prometheus 4 Disc Collector's Edition (SRP $49.99 - Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy). The 4-disc edition includes the movie in Blu-ray 3D, the movie in 2D (with commentary by director/producer Ridley Scott and a second commentary by writer Jon Spaihts and writer/executive producer Damon Lindelof, The Peter Weyland Files, deleted and alternate scenes and the Weyland Corp Archive Second Screen with app functionality), a third Blu-ray of extras (including the The Furious Gods: Making Prometheus documentary, scores of Enhancement Pods, more Weyland Corp Archive, Pre-Viz material and screen tests) and finally the DVD/Digital Copy disc. Here's the key - the 2-disc set includes only the 2D movie disc and the DVD/Digital Copy disc. You don't get the bonus disc of supplements. So if you want absolutely everything, you have to get the 4-disc set. Both versions street next week on 10/9. Just so you know.
In other news today, we highly recommend that you Trekkers check out this radio story from KPCC's Off Ramp program - it's a feature on CBS' Star Trek: The Next Generation Blu-ray remastering effort. And you'll definitely want to stick with it right to the end, because for the first time in public (to our knowledge) there's the suggestion made that - provided demand is there and the TNG Blu-rays all sell well - CBS may continue their BD remastering/upgrade effort on to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine! Cool news indeed. This jives with what we've been hearing from our own industry sources. Keep your fingers crossed.
Also today, any fans of the raunchy 80's comedy Porky's? Bits reader Doc D. tells us that Walmart currently has an exclusive BD version in stores.
Finally, we'd like to take a moment to acknowledge the passing of actor Herbert Lom, who died last week at the age of 95. You'll best know him as Inspector Dreyfus from the Pink Panther series.
Here's a look at the Blu-ray artwork for Warner's The Dark Knight Rises and The Dark Knight Trilogy Limited Edition Blu-ray Giftset, as well as Disney's art for the Peter Pan: Diamond Edition (TBA)...
- Bill Hunt
No… your eyes aren't playing tricks on you. At long last, we’ve finally gone and done it. You are now looking at the all-new, fully-modernized Digital Bits. We’ve entered the 21st Century at last! That’s right, The Bits no longer looks like it was designed in the late 1990s. And this is just the beginning.
So what took so long? Well… a funny thing happened over the decade and a half since we first launched The Bits. The site grew so big so fast that it just because a monstrous chore to try and update it! I mean, seriously daunting. It didn’t help that I was always too busy talking to industry sources, taking calls, tracking down release news, reviewing discs and dealing with not one but two format wars. Add to that hundreds of daily reader e-mails in need of answering, and more than a few readers who needed help with defective discs or hardware… you get the idea. The idea of completely redesigning The Bits became completely overwhelming.
But about a year ago, I finally got the bug to get it done. I started playing with various new looks and new layouts, designing new graphics… an all-new Bits logo. The rest of The Bits staff got cautiously excited about it, though to be fair I’m not sure most of them believed it was ever really going to happen. And given all of the personal difficulties I’ve experienced in the last year – the death of my grandmother and father, the death of Sarah’s mom, the loss of a beloved cat and most recently the passing of our dear friend and colleague Barrie Maxwell – well, frankly even I’m not quite sure how I managed to get this done. But here it is and we’re pretty pleased with it. We hope you are too.
Today, we’re essentially ‘soft launching’ the new Bits. I really wanted to get it up and running in time for Adam’s Hell Plaza Oktoberfest to kick off today… and up and running we are. But you’ll notice that there are several features that aren’t fully working or updated yet. Only a few of the most recent column entries are here on the new site. We have a few brand new columns that we’ve yet to launch. Reader comments aren’t yet enabled. And less than a hundred of our many disc reviews – mostly Blu-rays – are in the database at the moment. It’s going to take time to add our entire current review catalog – thousands of titles in all – into the new database. Our immediate goal is to work out the various bugs in the new design (and there are sure to be a few, so your patience is appreciated) and to update and add all the usual features over the coming month or so. We’ll gradually add older Bits content to the new design in the weeks and months ahead. Meanwhile, the original Bits site has been permanently archived here, so you can go back and look through it any time you like. (You can always find it in the main menu bar under Features for future reference)
If you’d like to e-mail me or any of The Bits’ staff, all you have to do is go to Meet the Staff under the About section and you’ll find bio pages for each of us. On each bio page is a Contact e-mail form for that person. Don’t hesitate to use these forms to let us know what you think.
So there you go! It’s a whole new Bits! Updated. Shinny. Easier to use. Links up nice with Facebook and other social media sites so you can share content. It should look good on mobile devices. You can finally search for stuff. We have RSS feeds! And best of all, it’s 100% less unattractive. We hope you like it.
Back tomorrow with the usual. Stay tuned…
- Bill Hunt