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Studio Day 2000
Dave's Video: The Laser Place - Studio City, CA - 11/11/00

Dave's Video: The Laser Place
Dave's Video - The Laser Place (yeah... I know
it's the same picture I've used the last 3 years). ;-)

Introduction

Every year, Dave's Video - The Laser Place (in Studio City, CA) sponsors its much beloved Studio Day, to give the home video divisions of the major Hollywood studios an opportunity to receive direct, one-on-one feedback from consumers, about their laserdisc and DVD product. Often, the studios will also reward loyal fans with a sneak peak at upcoming releases. It's a wonderful opportunity for those who produce our favorite discs to mingle and chat with the folks who are most avid about collecting them.

Dave's has been holding these events for a decade, and this 13th annual Studio Day was well-attended. Regrettably, as was the case last year, Universal personnel were unable to attend at the last moment due to personal schedule conflicts. Still, Hollywood was well represented, with staffers on hand from Artisan Entertainment, Buena Vista, Columbia TriStar, DreamWorks, Image, Lucasfilm THX, MGM Home Entertainment, New Line, Paramount, Pioneer, the Sony DVD Center, Trimark, Warner Bros. and more.

I would caution you to apply some sense when reading - much of what is discussed here are DVD plans far into the future - all of it should be considered tentative, as any number of factors can cause things to change. So let's get started...

20th Century Fox

Fox is planning to be very active with DVD in 2001, expecting to release some 70+ titles. Starting in January, the studio plans to go back to 3 titles they've released previously, making them a little more appealing for consumers. January 23rd will see the re-release of The X-Files: Fight the Future, The Thin Red Line and The Last of the Mohicans, all with anamorphic widescreen transfers (only Thin Red Line was anamorphic previously) and all with dual Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks on the same disc. February will see the release of 2 more "double feature" discs, this time including some college comedy favorites. The first disc will feature Revenge of the Nerds and Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise, while the second will include Porky's and Porky's II: The Next Day. March will feature a science fiction theme, and will see the DVD release of Alien Nation, Enemy Mine and Zardoz. In the months that follow in early 2001, you can also look forward to Point Break (with dual Dolby Digital and DTS sound), a Big Trouble in Little China: Special Edition, Chain Reaction and Unlawful Entry.

2001 will also see a number of 5 Star editions, the first of which will be a 3-disc set of the fully restored Cleopatra. The 4 ½ hour film will be made available on 2 discs (broken at the intermission), along with a disc of supplemental material, including such things as screen test footage and more. Die Hard will appear as another 5 Star title some time around mid-year. And Die Hard 2 & 3 will be re-released at the same time as special editions. All three releases will be 2-disc sets, and will include anamorphic widescreen video and dual Dolby Digital and DTS audio. Also around mid year will be a terrific Marilyn Monroe Platinum Collection boxed set, featuring Bus Stop, How to Marry a Millionaire, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, The Seven Year Itch, There's No Business Like Show Business and a bonus disc that includes her finished and restored final film, The Last Days. All of the films have been completely restored for DVD. And among the other 5 Star titles to look for are M.A.S.H. and The French Connection (plus one additional title TBD).

TV will also feature prominently in the studio's plans in 2001. Look for The X-Files: The Complete Third Season to be released early in the year, with The Complete Fourth Season following in the fall. Seasons of The Simpsons, M.A.S.H. and Buffy the Vampire Slayer will be released in 2001, although Buffy will not appear here in the States until late in the year. The UK DVD release will go forward as planned in January (the U.S. release had been slated for 1/9/00). The reason for the delay here has to do with the complicated nature of the U.S. domestic syndication rights, in which Warner Bros. is obviously involved. The DVDs will be released eventually, and will hopefully be the better for the delay (perhaps that will give Fox time to negotiate for the rights to include the unaired pilot episode?).

Finally, rumors continue to circulate that Star Wars: Episode I will see a special edition DVD release in time for next Christmas. But don't hold your breath.

Columbia TriStar

Columbia has some interesting things to come in 2001, and the two biggest will be their multi-disc, special edition DVD releases of Lawrence of Arabia and Final Fantasy. Look for Lawrence in the first quarter with Final Fantasy set for mid year. Both discs should include a ton of cool features. Close Encounters of the Third Kind is tentatively set for mid-2001, with the film in director Steven Spielberg's latest, director's edition form. Rumor is that the DVD could even feature dual Dolby Digital and DTS sound. Among the other special editions to look for from the studio are Gandhi, On the Waterfront, The Natural, Subway, Krull, Avalon, A Passage to India, The Prince of Tides, Tootsie, Funny Girl, Kramer vs. Kramer, Ice Castles and From Here to Eternity. The studio also plans to revisit more of its earlier titles as more deluxe editions, including In the Line of Fire, A Few Good Men, Dr. Strangelove (to coincide with special edition re-releases of The Kubrick Collection from Warner - no kidding), Absence of Malice, Fly Away Home, My Best Friend's Wedding and Monty Python and the Holy Grail (which will finally receive a new Python Pictures-approved anamorphic transfer and cool special edition materials).

Columbia TriStar has also officially announced their Dogma: Special Edition DVD for release on January 23rd. The 2-disc release will retail for $29.95 and will include a cast and crew audio commentary track by director Kevin Smith, Ben Affleck, Jason Lee, Jason Mewes, producer Scott Mosier and Vincent Pereira, a technical audio commentary by director Kevin Smith, producer Scott Mosier and View Askew historian Vincent Pereira, the Judge Not: In Defense of Dogma documentary, storyboards from 3 major scenes, 100 minutes of deleted scenes with View Askew crew intros, a weblink to the official View Askew site, cast and crew outtakes, "Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash Spot", "Saints and Sinners" Talent Files, "Follow the Buddy Christ" feature and lots more. This should be a very cool set.

Other titles that are planned for next year include The Muppet Movie, The Great Muppet Caper, The Age of Innocence, Postcards from the Edge, Used Cars, The Indian in the Cupboard, Threesome, 1776, Ishtar (gasp!), Hanover Street, Casualties of War, The Celluloid Closet and more Three Stooges discs. Sadly, Godzilla 2000 is set for release in December (of 2000) but we've got good word that it WILL NOT be a special edition. Bummer.

Warner Bros.

Yes indeed, Warner is quietly working on a new and improved set of Kubrick Collection discs to satisfy the demands of those disappointed by their earlier edition (which was pretty much everyone). The films in this set are getting restored and will feature new transfers, anamorphic widescreen video where possible and even some special edition materials as well. There's no word on when these might be released, but I'd look for them in late 2001. And speaking of 2001… the studio does have some plans for a special release of 2001: A Space Odyssey for next year.

Their long-awaited Superman: Special Edition will finally arrive on DVD in May, with new interviews, documentaries and featurettes, anamorphic widescreen video and a TON of extras. This will be a DVD-18 release, so you can expect hours of fun. Note that the DVD will be released following a theatrical re-release of the restored film. All of the film sequels will also be released on DVD, but only the first Superman will be a special edition at this time.

As you all know by now, the Oliver Stone Collection boxed set has been officially announced for release on January 16th. This boxed set will contain the new 2-disc Any Given Sunday: Special Edition Director's Cut, the new 2-disc JFK: Special Edition Director's Cut, Heaven and Earth, Natural Born Killers, Universal's Talk Radio and Born on the Fourth of July, Fox's Wall Street, Buena Vista's new 2-disc Nixon, Columbia TriStar's U-Turn, Artisan's new 2-disc The Doors: Special Edition and a special bonus disc featuring the documentary Oliver Stone's America. The set will be available in 2 editions - the 10 movie box (with the movies listed above and the bonus disc for SRP $199.92) or a "Warner only" 6-movie box (with the Warner titles only and the bonus disc for SRP $119.92). Be aware that the new 2-disc Any Given Sunday will only be available in these sets.

Blade Runner: Special Edition is still deep in production for release late next year. Some other interesting things we've heard… Dr. Zhivago may be in the works for later 2001 (pending restoration work), along with (gasp!) season-by-season boxed sets of Babylon 5 episodes (a la Fox's X-Files sets). The Goonies is on the way for 2001, along with better re-issues of both Gremlins movies. We've heard that 2001 might also see the first releases of Warner's Looney Tunes shorts on DVD, but there's apparently a lot of restoration work that needs to be done first. Chariots of Fire, Batman and Beetlejuice are finally going to get special edition treatment, and we might even see V and V: The Final Battle reach DVD. But there's still no word on much of the studio's Tuner/RKO catalog, so those of you dying for a Citizen Kane: Special Edition will just have to wait.

Paramount

The first thing everyone wants to know about from Paramount, as far as DVD, is when the Indiana Jones Trilogy will be released. Don't look for the three films on DVD in 2001 at least - the studio has NO plans for them as yet. But hey - we will get the Crocodile Dundee Trilogy next year (both films, plus the new sequel, will be out on DVD before 2002). How's that for a trade-off? The Untouchables is currently expected in January or early February. Star Trek: The Motion Picture - Special Edition is planned for mid-2001, with DVDs of Star Trek: The Next Generation coming late next year (episode/disc configuration is apparently still TBD). Top Secret, Paper Moon, Ghost, Love Story, Terms of Endearment and possibly the Wayne's World films are also on tap for next year. We're also told that more westerns are on the way. May we suggest the long version of Sergio Leone's awesome Once Upon a Time in the West?

Image Entertainment

Once again in 2001, Image expects to swamp the competition as far as the number of DVD releases. Look for DVD-Audio to play a big role in their 2001 slate, along with lots of self-produced music and live concert titles as well. The company's January slate is as follows:

BET on Jazz: B.B. King, Cranberries: Beneath the Skin Live in Paris, Mother Goose Treasury 1&2, Nosferatu: Special Edition, Romantic Classics by Firelight: Moodtapes, Twitch of the Death Nerve, Yes: Keys to Ascension (all 1/2/01), The 1964 World's Fair, Ariodante: English National Opera (Handel), Giselle: La Scala, Kon-Tiki, Phantom Planet, Teenage Monster, Vengeance, Woman Called Sada Abe (all 1/9/01), Marc Chagall, New Eve, Tannhauser: Wagner - National Theater of Munich, Twilight Zone 40-42, (all 1/16/01), Beetle Bailey/Betty Boop/Hagar the Horrible, Cezanne: 2 Colours Cezanne, Concertante/Black Cake: Hans Van Manen, Evening with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, I Spy 1-3, Jackson Pollock, Love by Appointment, Nova: Faster than Sound, Simone Barbes Ou La Vertu (all 1/23/01) and Aftershock, Banzai Runner, Best of the Best: Especially for Kids, Fair Game, Gold of the Amazon Women, Hysterical, Jasper Johns: Ideas in Paint, La Guerre est Finie and La Rappresentazione di Anima a Corpo: Cavalieri (all 1/30/01).

MGM

We've covered MGM's 2001 plans recently here at the Bits, but let me refresh your memories.

For 2001, the studio is organizing their DVD releases into the "branded lines" that they use for VHS, among them: Contemporary Classics, Soul Cinema, World Films, Avant Garde, Midnight Movies and more. You might wonder what the need for this branding is, as they only release 8-10 titles on DVD a month. No longer. In 2001, the studio told me that they're committed to releasing some 30-40 titles on disc every month, which will include at least one (and probably two) genuine special edition titles (they plan to release 20+ special editions next year). In fact, by the end of 2001, the studio's goal is to have released between 300 and 400 of their films on DVD. And they've set three tiers of pricing to do so: $14.95 for catalog, $19.98 for A&B grade films and $24.98-26.98 for new films and special editions.

So what are some of the titles that MGM has in the works? Well, they're kicking things off in style with a When Harry Met Sally: Special Edition in January. The disc will feature anamorphic widescreen, a new "making of" documentary that includes new interviews with almost everyone involved, 11 minutes of deleted scenes, a commentary track with director Rob Reiner and LOTS more. Some Like it Hot is slated for April and Magnificent Seven is a May title. Other highlights for the year include the long-awaited special edition of The Princess Bride (Rob Reiner finally had time to participate), DVD releases of B classics like Buckaroo Banzai and Killer Klowns from Outer Space, Stargate SG1 episodes (either in season by season boxed sets or a few episodes a disc singly - they're still trying to determine and I encouraged them to go with the boxed sets) and, late in the year, Ridley Scott's Hannibal. I also encouraged them to revisit Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with an anamorphic widescreen special edition, which they say is a possibility. The big hit of 4th Qtr 2001 will be their new Terminator: Special Edition, which features a new high def transfer and new 5.1 sound mix. Just to give you an idea of the scope of MGM's DVD plans for 2001, here's a look at their complete January release list:

January 2nd - Autumn in New York, Crime and Punishment in Suburbia (new titles)

January 9th - Benny & Joon, The Cutting Edge, Love Field, The Man in the Moon, Moll Flanders, Mystic Pizza, Untaimed Heart, When Harry Met Sally: Special Edition, In the Heat of the Night: Special Edition, The Organization, They Call Me Mister Tibbs! (all Contemporary Classics), Black Ceaser, Black Mama, White Mama, Coffy, Cotton Goes to Harlem, Foxy Brown, Friday Foster, I'm Gonna Get You Sucka, Sheba Baby, Slaughter, Slaughter's Big Rip Off, Truck Turner (all Soul Cinema)

January 23rd - Mr. Accident (new title), Babette's Feast, The Bride Wore Black, Camille Claudel, Jean De Florette, The Man Who Loved Women, Manon of the Spring, Mississippi Mermaid, Small Change, The Story of Adele H(all World Films), Alice's Restaurant, American Buffalo, Dance with a Stranger, Desert Hearts, I Shot Andy Warhol, Longtime Companion, River's Edge, Suture (all Avant Garde)

The Rest…

DreamWorks is one of those studios that doesn't have a lot on tap… ever. But you can reasonably expect special edition (and possible Signature Selection) versions of Almost Famous, The Contender, What Lies Beneath and The Legend of Baggar Vance (pending those films' Oscar performances, of course). New Line is working on a slew of John Waters films as Platinum Series DVDs, including Pecker, Polyester, Hairspray, Pink Flamingos and Female Trouble. Their DVD edition of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me was slated for December, but will probably now be a 1st quarter 2001 release. As we said, Universal wasn't on hand. But we've been told that they're working on the Back to the Future Trilogy for 2001 (despite claims to the contrary), along with all the rest of their Hitchcock films and possibly more Classic Monster films as well. Hopefully, their Legend: Collector's Series DVD will be out before the end of January. Buena Vista is notoriously tight-lipped about their advance DVD plans, but look for special editions of Tron, Nixon and The English Patient, more direct-to-video "classics" and the launch of their one-per-year, multi-disc, DVD "Platinum" line of animated classics in time for Christmas 2001 - word is Snow White is first up. And, of course, their dual regular and special edition DVD versions of Dinosaur will be available in January.

Some Closing Comments

As always, Studio Day was a tremendous success. And, as always, there simply wasn't enough time to talk with all of the studio and manufacturer reps that were there. However, as I mentioned, Peter Bracke of DVD File was also in attendance, and between our coverage and his, you should get a pretty good idea of what went on, and what's in the works. Be sure to check out his article on Studio Day 1999 here.

It was a lot of fun meeting and chatting with the many Bits readers that made a point of saying hello. It was also a blast talking with the many members of the Home Theater Forum, some of whom had travelled all the way from Europe for Studio Day. I even had the opportunity to talk shop with Leonard Maltin and film historian/restoration expert Robert Harris, who were on hand. Actor Brent Spinner (Star Trek: The Next Generation) even slipped in to do a little DVD shopping during the event, resulting in a few turned heads.

For those who'd like to read more about this event and the other adventures of the Home Theater Forum in California, head on over to this link at HTF for their complete report. And you'll find more pictures of this event, and others from the HTF's California trip, by clicking here.

Thanks, as always, to Dave and Linda Lukas for organizing and hosting this event. Our hats off to them, and the whole staff of Dave's Video - The Laser Place. See you all again at Studio Day 2K1!


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