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Studio News -
Universal Studios
Here is the full text of Universal's official press release, announcing those Spielberg DVD titles for next year:

UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOME VIDEO TO RELEASE AMBLIN ENTERTAINMENT TITLES ON DVD

Universal City, California, October 19, 1998 - Universal Studios Home Video will release 10 titles from Amblin Entertainment for the first time on DVD during the first half of 1999. The slate includes the Collector's Editions of 1941, The Flintstones and Back to the Future, as well as The Little Rascals, How to Make an American Quilt, Batteries Not Included, Back to the Future II, The Money Pit, Always and Harry and the Hendersons. In addition, Steven Spielberg's first directed feature, Duel, is also included for release.

"We are very pleased to announce this agreement with Amblin Entertainment, which extends a long-running and highly successful partnership", stated Bill Clark, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Universal Studios Home Video. "Amblin Entertainment has long been synonymous with quality entertainment and this partnership significantly positions us as a leader in the DVD marketplace."

In addition to Duel, two other films directed by Steven Spielberg debuting on DVD include 1941 and Always. As is the case with all Universal DVD titles, the Collector's Editions will include interviews with the talent and production crew, behind-the-scenes footage, talent bios, theatrical trailers, production notes, and other bonus materials. All DVD titles will continue to be available in snapcase packaging.

Universal Studios Home Video's current DVD catalog contains a vast array of titles encompassing family and children's fare, comedies, action adventure, dramas, mysteries, sci-fi and suspense, romance and classic favorites. There are over 20 Special Collector's editions which include such bonus materials as documentaries, talent bios, behind-the-scenes footage, theatrical trailers, production notes, and exclusive interviews.



PREVIOUS NEWS (10/2/98)

Universal yesterday issued this press release, regarding their upcoming DTS DVDs:

Universal Studios Home Video Announces DTS Audio on 20 DVD Titles

UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif., Oct. 1 /PRNewswire/

In its continuing commitment to the growth and development of the DVD marketplace, Universal Studios Home Video will introduce 20 DVD titles featuring DTS audio in the first half of 1999. Launching the list of titles in January are "Dante's Peak," "Waterworld," "Liar Liar," and "Daylight." Other titles in the coming months include "The Shadow," "Babe," "The River Wild," "The Getaway," "The Nutty Professor," "Apollo 13," "Happy Gilmore," "12 Monkeys," "Dragonheart," "The Jackal," "The Frighteners," "Born on the Fourth of July," "The Boxer," "For Richer or Poorer," "Blues Brothers 2000," and "Primary Colors."

"By providing DTS audio as an option for consumers, this greatly enhances our DVD product line and augments our profile in the marketplace," stated Bill Clark, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Universal Studios Home Video.

DTS offers the consumer high quality 5.1 multi-channel audio which must be accessed utilizing a DTS decoder or a DTS compliant DVD player. In addition to DTS audio, the announced DVD titles will also contain a Dolby Digital stereo track along with Japanese subtitles. All 20 titles are also currently available in Dolby 5.1 audio. Further information regarding Universal Studios Home Video's complete January DVD slate will be announced in later this month.

Universal Studios Home Video's current DVD catalog offers a vast array of titles encompassing family and children's fare, comedies, action adventure, dramas, mysteries, sci-fi and suspense, romance and classic favorites. There are over 20 Special Collectors editions which include such bonus materials as documentaires, talent bios, behind-the-scenes footage, theatrical trailers, production notes, and exclusive interviews.

Universal Studios Home Video is a part of Universal Studios (http://www.universalstudios.com), a unit of The Seagram Company Ltd., a global beverage and entertainment company.




PREVIOUS NEWS (7/1/98)

Well, there are lots of good new DVD titles coming from Universal in the next few months! I just received word from Universal Home Video, that Primary Colors will hit DVD on September 8th, day-and-date with VHS. It will retail for $26.98. No word yet on features.

Also, Robert Duvall's The Apostle will be released to DVD on August 18th, again day-and-date with the VHS version. The disc will be a DVD Collector's Edition ($34.98 suggested retail), and will include feature commentary with Robert Duvall, a documentary entitled The Journey of The Apostle, featuring interviews with Duvall, Farah Fawcett, John Beasley and producer Rob Carliner, behind-the-scenes footage, deleted scenes and the theatrical trailer. There will also be a special MCA Records soundtrack presentation, featuring popular Christian/Country recording artist Steven Curtis Chapman, found exclusively on the DVD release.

Look for the Collector's Edition DVD of The Blues Brothers on September 8th ($34.98), including a behind-the-scenes featurette, a theatrical trailer, production photos, and more.

While we all wait patiently (and some not so patiently!) for Star Wars to hit DVD, we can at least expect George Lucas's American Graffiti to arrive on DVD on September 15th. Another Collector's Edition disc, it will feature director's commentary by Lucas himself, a behind-the-scenes featurette, and more.

Finally, Universal's Mercury Rising will hit DVD in anamorphic widescreen on September 15th ($24.98 SRP). The film stars Bruce Willis and Alec Baldwin. The DVD will include the theatrical trailer.

Other cool titles coming from Universal on 9/8 are:

Raising Cain
Lionheart
Real McCoy
Rumble Fish
Videodrome
The Thing (1982) Collector's Edition




PREVIOUS NEWS (3/4/98)

Well, Universal has been very busy as of late! They are preparing a massive amount of new DVD releases for the next few months. Those of you who have seen their recent Apollo 13, know that Universal can really do justice to the DVD format. Apollo 13 is (in terms of quality and overall value) arguably the best DVD yet released, in my opinion. Unfortunately, other Universal titles (specifically the catalog titles being done by Image Entertainment), have been mostly disappointing.

You can almost count on Image to consistently miss announced release dates. And their mastering work leaves a lot to be desired. Of the Image-produced discs I've viewed so far, there have been mediocre film prints used, lots of artifacts, few (if any) extras, little regard for 16x9 enhancement, and all that for a premium $29.99 list price. Not good. I was particularly disappointed with Double Indemnity. If you've seen HBO's Wuthering Heights on DVD, then you know just how awesome older B&W films can look when properly mastered to the format. Unfortunately, Image's work on Double Indemnity pales in comparison. A poor-quality (very high grain) print was chosen for the transfer, and at times there's so much artifacting (Chapter 3 is a good example) that the picture actually looks noisy. As for menus... pressing the menu button on your remote takes you straight to the scene access menu. That's it! As the classic example of film-noir, Double Indemnity deserved better.

Anyway, here's a list of the titles in the works for the next couple of months. There are some great films listed here, including (believe it or not) the first Lucasfilm title on DVD (who would have guessed it would be Radioland Murders). Please bear in mind that the release dates are subject to change (particularly on the Image titles):

March 11

Demon Knight (LBX, Image), Farenheit 451 (LBX, Image), Monty Python's Meaning of Life (LBX, Image), Radioland Murders (LBX, 16x9, Image), Silent Running (LBX, Image) and Slaughterhouse Five (LBX, Image)

March 18

Bordello of Blood (LBX, 16x9, Image), Buck Privates (FF, Image), Firestarter (LBX, Image), Flash Gordon (LBX, Image), Ghost Story (LBX, Image), I'm No Angel (FF, Image), Midnight Run (P&S, Image), Prince of Darkness (LBX, 16x9, Image), Seven-Per-Cent Solution (FF, Image), They Live (LBX, 16x9, Image), and Weird Science (LBX, Image)

March 25

Animal Crackers (FF, Image), Buck Privates Come Home (FF, Image), The Electric Horseman (LBX, Image), Sixteen Candles (LBX, Image) and This Island Earth (FF, Image)

March 31

12 Monkeys (LBX, 16x9), Brazil (LBX), Conan the Destroyer (LBX), Darkman (LBX, 16x9), The Deer Hunter (LBX), Dragonheart (LBX, 16x9), Dune (LBX), Parenthood (P&S), Rooster Cogburn (LBX), Scarface (LBX), Sneakers (LBX), Spartacus (LBX), The Sting (P&S) and Vertigo (LBX)

April 28

Born on the Fourth of July (LBX), The Breakfast Club (LBX), The Day of the Jackal (LBX), Field of Dreams (LBX), The Jackal (LBX, 16x9), The Jerk (P&S), The Quest (LBX), Scent of a Woman (LBX), That Old Feeling (LBX, 16x9), To Kill a Mockingbird (LBX) and Tremors (LBX)

May 5

For Richer or Poorer (LBX, 16x9)

May 26

Street Fighter (LBX)

June 23

Far and Away (LBX, 16x9)




PREVIOUS NEWS (12/12/97)

According to the Laserviews web site, Universal has announced their release line-up for February (street date: 2/24). It includes an excellent mix of major features and catalog films, television episodes and even an animated release! The titles are as follows:

Apollo 13: Signature Edition, Casino, Conan the Barbarian, Dragonheart: Signature Edition, Happy Gilmore, Hercules (TV): Lost Kingdom/Amazon Woman, Hercules (TV): Warrior Princess/Gauntlet/Unchained Heart, Hercules & Zena: The Animated Movie, High Plains Drifter, Kull the Conquerer, National Lampoon's Animal House, and Young Hercules

Prices for these discs will range from $24.98 (most titles) to $26.98 (for Casino and the Hercules TV collections) to $34.98 (for the two Signature Edition releases). There will be a choice of packaging, as with the 1/20 titles. Individual disc specs have not yet been announced. Cross your fingers that these aren't mostly P&S titles again.

I must say, that the announcement of Apollo 13 has me very excited! Anybody from Universal out there? Give me an e-mail with the run-down of the disc features on this title! After Contact, it's definitely going to be the disc I have the hardest time waiting for!

----

In other news, Universal Studios has established an excellent (if slow loading) DVD information web site. A recent update to the site provides all the disc specs for Universal's recently announced 1/20 DVD titles. They are as follows:

Dante's Peak (2.35:1, DD 5.1, $34.98)
Death Becomes Her (1.33:1, Dolby Surround, $24.98)
Fierce Creatures (1.33:1, DD 5.1, $24.98)
Kindergarten Cop (1.33:1, Dolby Surround, $24.98)
Leave it To Beaver (1.33:1, DD 5.1, $24.98)
Liar Liar (1.33:1, DD 5.1, $24.98)
The Nutty Professor (1.85:1, DD 5.1, $24.98)
Time Cop (1.33:1, DD 5.1, $24.98)

According to the site, all of these releases will be available in Keep case packaging. Many will feature talent bios, production notes and theatrical trailers. Dante's Peak will also include "Making of" audio commentary with the Director, and the musical score (thus, I assume, the extra cost).

Unfortunately, Universal continues to release good widescreen films (like Time Cop!) in a 1.33:1 Pan and Scan format. Hopefully, this trend will change as they continue releasing DVD product. I, for one would like their releases to offer the full range of viewing options that Warner provides on most of its discs: P&S, Letterbox and 16x9 enhancement. As much as I liked Babe, I just can't justify buying a P&S only DVD. Universal does provide an e-mail address (UniversalDVD@blamld.com) to send them your DVD comments, so be sure to let them know you want more aspect ratio choices. You can also address your comments to:

Universal Home Video
70 Universal City Plaza
Universal City, CA 91608
RE: DVD

There is one specific feature of their first DVD releases that I really want to commend Universal on. I think we've all heard the howls of outrage on the Internet, and in publications such as Widescreen Review, complaining about the rampant inaccuracy of the disc specs on DVD packaging. Universal seems to have addressed this nicely. I am very pleased with the 'information grid' featured on the back of all their releases. I think it's clear, concise and accurately depicts the features available on the disc. I'd personally like to see it adopted as standard labeling on all DVD releases. Any comments? Nicely done, Universal!

----

No news yet from Amblin Entertainment, who have pulled all of their upcoming films from their original late '97 DVD release dates. Amblin continues to state publicly, that the reasons for these actions are motivated by, 'a desire to await new developments in DVD technology'.


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