Bits BD Review – Bill takes a look at Universal's new Spartacus: Restored Edition http://t.co/Ms7prL0nTE
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…
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.
- 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...
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…
- 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…
- 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.
Evening, folks! Just wanted to check in quickly here to let you know that I’m hard at work on finishing up our CES 2013 coverage and I expect to have it up soon – by tomorrow afternoon with any luck. But as it happens I’m also working my way through a pretty good head cold – or perhaps I should say that a pretty good head cold is working its way through me – and so it’s taking a little longer than I expected to get it all finished. Hey… at least it’s not bird flu or zombie plague, right?
Anyway… lest you think I’ve forgotten about you or you’re otherwise not feeling the Bits’ love today, how’s about a couple of new disc reviews? Our own Joe Marchese has checked in with his thoughts on Twilight Time’s excellent new Blu-ray version of Lost Horizon (1973) and Jeff has dropped in too today with a Blu-ray 3D review of the I-missed-it-myself-but-hear-it’s-excellent Dredd from Lionsgate. So enjoy those and I’ll check back in tomorrow with that CES wrap-up.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve apparently got to add another snot-soaked Kleenex to the huge pile here on my desk… ugh!
- Bill Hunt
With this year’s Consumer Electronics Show now in full swing in Las Vegas, savvy early adopters and home entertainment consumers are getting their first look at lots of hot new gadgets coming in 2013. As usual, among these offerings are new Blu-ray player models from all the major CE companies. But whereas in past years these players have introduced significant new capabilities or features, this year’s offerings tend to focus on dramatic styling, smaller footprints and incremental improvements in speed, connectivity and A/V quality, including 4K “upscaling” and built-in 2D to 3D conversion.
Sony has planned four new models for 2013, including the BDP-S5100, the BDP-S4100, the BDP-S3100 and the BDP-S1100. All feature sharply angled lines, integration with the Sony Entertainment Network, Quick Start disc loading, access to Netflix, LOVEFiLM and Internet browsing, and support for TV SideView which allows the devices to be controlled by an Android or Apple iOS app. The BDP-S5100 and BDP-S3100 will include built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, while the other two are Wi-Fi ready. The BDP-S5100 is also Blu-ray 3D compatible and will offer built-in 2D to 3D conversation. Sony’s new players are expected to start arriving on store shelves next month.
It’s official: CBS has just announced (via Star Trek.com) the Blu-ray release of a title we suggested was in the works for HD several months ago. Star Trek: Enterprise will officially arrive on Blu-ray as a 6-disc set on 3/26 (SRP $130 – but you can reasonably expect Amazon to have it available for around the same price as the TNG BD sets). All of the extras from the previous DVD release will carry over, and you’ll get significant new content as well including an all-new, multi-part retrospective documentary called To Boldly Go: Launching Enterprise. It’s some 19 hours of content in all. From the official press release, the documentary:
“...gives fans an inside look at the development and production of the series and is exclusive to this collection. The documentary features interviews with the show’s cast and crew, some of which were shot as recently as December 2012, as well as archival footage and behind-the-scenes clips. The documentary includes:
Part One: Countdown - Chronicles the challenges faced by the producers and creative staff as they attempt to launch a new chapter in the Star Trek saga by making the then-radical decision to create a prequel to the beloved original series. Features all new interviews with key personnel including creators Rick Berman and Brannon Braga, production designer Herman Zimmerman, technical consultants Michael and Denise Okuda, writers Andre Bormanis, Phyllis Strong and more.
Part Two: Boarding the NX-01 - Follows the team as they begin the casting process and production on the series 2-hour pilot Broken Bow. Features all-new interviews with key cast and crew including series pilot director James L. Conway and series leads Scott Bakula (Jonathan Archer), Connor Trinneer (Trip Tucker), and Dominic Keating (Malcolm Reed).
Part Three: First Flight - Charts the course for the rest of the series’ first season including all-new interviews with key production and post-production personnel.
The six-disc set also includes a candid conversation with the series’ creators, Rick Berman and Brannon Braga, offering a glimpse into their creative process. In addition, the Blu-ray features brand new commentaries on select episodes from the season, along with a host of previously released special features such as deleted scenes and outtakes.”
Specific extras in the set will include:
- Audio Commentary with co-creator/executive producer Brannon Braga, director James L. Conway, visual effects producer Dan Curry and cast members Connor Trinneer (Trip Tucker) and Dominic Keating (Malcolm Reed) on Broken Bow—NEW!
- Audio Commentary with Brannon Braga and Rick Berman on Broken Bow
- Text Commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda on Broken Bow
- Deleted Scenes from Broken Bow (SD)
- Deleted Scenes from Fight or Flight (SD)
- In Conversation: Rick Berman and Brannon Braga—NEW! (HD)
- Archival Mission Log: Creating Enterprise (SD)
- Archival Mission Log: O Captain! My Captain! A Profile of Scott Bakula (SD)
- Archival Mission Log: NX-01 File 02 (SD)
- Cast Introduction—NEW (SD)
- Network Presentation—NEW (SD)
- Syndication Presentation—NEW (SD)
- Deleted Scene from Unexpected (SD)
- Text Commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda on The Andorian Incident
- Archival Mission Log: Cast Impressions: Season 1 (SD)
- Archival Mission Log: Enterprise Secrets (SD)
- Audio commentary with writer/story editor André Bormanis and visual effects producer Dan Curry on Silent Enemy—NEW!
- Deleted Scene from Sleeping Dogs (SD)
- Archival Mission Log: Star Trek Time Travel: Temporal Cold Wars and Beyond (SD)
- Archival Mission Log: Admiral Forrest Takes Center Stage (SD)
- Audio Commentary with writers/executive story editors Mike Sussman and Phyllis Strong on Shadows of P’Jem—NEW!
- Audio Commentary with co-creator/executive producer Brannon Braga, director David Livingston and cast members Connor Trinneer (Trip Tucker) and Dominic Keating (Malcolm Reed) on Shuttlepod One —NEW!
- Deleted Scene from Shuttlepod One (SD)
- Archival Mission Log: Inside Shuttlepod One (SD)
- Archival Mission Log: NX-01 File 01 (SD)
- Archival Mission Log: NX-01 File 03 (SD)
- Deleted Scenes from Oasis (SD)
- Deleted Scenes from Fallen Hero (SD)
- Text Commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda on Vox Sola
- Archival Mission Log: Enterprise Outtakes (SD)
- On The Set —NEW (SD)
- Deleted Scene from Two Days and Two Nights (SD)
- Deleted Scenes from Shockwave, Part 1 (SD)
- Documentary: To Boldly Go: Launching Enterprise—NEW! (HD)
- Part 1: Countdown
- Part 2: Boarding the NX-01
- Part 3: First Flight
- Archival Mission Log: Celebrating Star Trek (SD)
Here’s a look at the final design of the cover artwork chosen by CBS…
We expect Amazon.com pre-orders to start soon, so we’ll update the cover art link as soon as they’re on. Stay tuned!
- Bill Hunt
All right, this is going to be a busy week. As most of you know, the annual Consumer Electronics Show has kicked off in Las Vegas, so there should be some interesting announcements related to new Blu-ray players, HD, 3D and 4K displays. We’ll check in off and on all week with the latest news and announcements.
Meanwhile, there are a couple of big new title announcements to report today…
Summit and Lionsgate have just revealed plans to release The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 Extended Edition on Blu-ray, DVD and digital download on 3/2 (SRP $29.99 and $22.98 for the disc formats). Director Bill Condon has restored some 8 minutes of new and extended scenes back into the theatrical cut of the film (which will also be included) for this release. You’ll also get optional audio commentary by Condon. You’ll get a look at the BD cover artwork below.
Also, Universal has set The Man with the Iron Fists: Unrated Extended Edition for Blu-ray Combo and DVD release on 2/12. Extras are TBA.
Sony has set The First Time and Mob Doctor: The Complete First Season for DVD only release on 3/12, followed by Angus Buchan’s Ordinary People on DVD only on 3/19.
Nickelodeon and Paramount have set Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Rise of the Turtles for DVD only release on 2/26.
And Image will release All Superheroes Must Die on BD and DVD on 1/29.
Now then… we’ve got an update for you on the audio problems with Sony’s Total Recall Blu-ray Disc. As I reported last we asked the studio for an update on the nature of the issue and what their plans were to address it. We’ve now gotten two responses from them. The first is a statement and information from the technical team on how to get around the issue:
“The complex branching on initial shipments of the Blu-ray Disc for Total Recall has caused a few unexpected dropouts in the lossless audio streams during disc play only on select player/receiver combinations. This issue only occurs if the lossless audio is decoded through an audio receiver or home theater system. If the Blu-ray player is connected directly to the TV, or if the lossless audio is set to decode directly through the Blu-ray player, there should be no issue.
SPHE is working with manufacturers on a possible firmware upgrade solution meanwhile, the playback in the affected player combinations can be resolved through a simple fix by changing the player’s audio settings to decode directly through the Blu-ray player by changing the settings as outlined below.”
PS3 Slim - From PS3 crossbar, go to:
- Video Settings
- BD/DVD Audio Output Format (HDMI)
- Change to Linear PCM
Sony BDP-S360 / Sony BDP-S460 / Sony BDP-S560 – From player crossbar, go to:
- Audio Settings
- BD Audio Setting
- Change to Mix
Sony 790 – From player crossbar, go to:
- Audio Setting
- BD Audio Mix Setting
- Change to On
Oppo BDP-83 / Oppo BDP-93
- Goto Setup
- Audio Format Setup
- HDMI Audio
- Select LPCM
- Goto Setup
- Select PCM Multi-Ch
Panasonic BD-35 / Panasonic BD-55
- Goto Setup
- Digital Audio Ouput
- Dolby Digital / Dolby Digital + / Dolby TrueHD
- Select PCM
- Goto Setup
- Player Settings
- Digital Audio Ouput
- Dolby Digital / Dolby Digital + / Dolby TrueHD
- Select PCM
“Sony is reprinting this title without the defects. We will ship you a replacement when we receive the new disks. In order to send you a replacement we do ask that you send us your copy. First we do need the following information:
What is the UPC # under the barcode of the movie case?
Mailing address (No PO Boxes)?
Once we receive this information, we will send you information on how to return your disk to us.
So there you go: Sony is attacking the problem from both ends by trying to work with manufacturers to update firmware and by manufacturing replacement discs. If you’d rather not wait for firmware updates, free to use the SPHE contact information above to arrange your own replacement copy.
Now then… we’ll leave you with at look at the BD cover artwork for Summit and Lionsgate’s The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 Extended Edition, Universal’s The Man with the Iron Fists and Fox’s How Green Was My Valley (due 1/15)…
- Bill Hunt
We’re closing out the week today with a couple more interesting pieces of announcement news…
First of all, it’s not already unknown, but we have official details on Shout! Factory’s upcoming Blu-ray Disc release of Lifeforce and the Hammer Films classic The Vampire Lovers. Both are expected on 4/30. The Lifeforce: Collector’s Edition BD/DVD Combo (SRP $29.93) will include both the Theatrical and International versions (Theatrical on the Blu-ray only), new audio commentary with director Tobe Hooper, a new retrospective with the cast and crew (including Steve Railsback, Hooper and others), the original Making of Lifeforce featurette, the original theatrical trailer, a TV spot, a still gallery and more TBA. Meanwhile, The Vampire Lovers (SRP $19.97) will include audio commentary with director Roy Ward Baker, writer Tudor Gates and star Ingrid Pitt, excerpts from the novella Carmilla (which inspired the film) read by Pitt, new interviews with actress Madeline Smith and Hammer Films scholars, the original theatrical trailer and a vintage radio spot.
Also today, Disney has formally set Monsters, Inc. 3D for Blu-ray 3D Combo release on 2/19 – again no surprise but it’s no official. SRP is $49.99 for a 5-disc Ultimate Collector’s Edition that includes a Blu-ray 3D version, 2 Blu-ray discs, a DVD and a Digital Copy. In addition, the previous BD extras, the set will a preview for the new Disney/Pixar release Monsters University.
And here’s something we think is pretty darned exciting: As some of you may know, our very own Mark A. Altman – when he’s got writing columns for The Bits – is also a TV producer. His series Femme Fatales recently finished its second season on Cinemax and Entertainment One has just announced the first for DVD release! Femme Fatales: The Complete First Season will arrive on DVD only on 1/29 (SRP $29.98). The 3-disc set will include all 12 episodes along with audio commentary on every episode with the stars and creators, deleted and alternate scenes, 4 featurettes (Creating Femme Fatales, Shooting Femme Fatales: The Making of Season One, Making Love: Anatomy of a Sex Scene and San Diego Comic Con 2011 Panel), a blooper reel, isolated music tracks and a special B&W director's cut of the episode The White Flower with audio commentary! Congrats to Mark and to our longtime friend Robert Meyer Burnett, both of whom have directed episodes of the series – well done guys! Looking forward to seeing the discs.
Finally, we’ve learned from industry sources that the audio issue on Sony’s Total Recall Blu-ray is likely a problem with the discs. We’re waiting to hear back from the studio on the matter directly and will let you know when we do.
Here’s a look at the Blu-ray cover art for Shout!’s Lifeforce and The Vampire Lovers, as well as DVD art for E-One’s Femme Fatales…
Have a great weekend and see you Monday!
- Bill Hunt