Here's more good news for those of you hoping for a single
high-definition disc format...
(Panasonic) has officially endorsed Sony and Toshiba's negotiations
to unite Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD and avoid a format war. According to
the TechWeb story (via Yahoo),
however, both Sony and Toshiba are continuing to prepare for the launch
of their individual respective HD formats despite these negotiations.
Hedging their bets, no doubt.
In other news today, director
Soderbergh and 2929 Entertainment have announced a deal to make
digital films for simultaneous release in theaters, on TV and on DVD.
The apparent goal is to recoup costs faster by eliminating the gap
between release windows.
We promised you some reviews yesterday, I believe. Well... we're making
good. We're very pleased this afternoon to present you with Adam
Jahnke's latest edition of The Bottom Shelf.
In this edition, Adam goes
Underground to review 7 cult titles on DVD (some newly
released) from Blue Underground, including
Women: Unrated Director's Cut,
Okay... that's it for today. See you Monday with more new DVD reviews.
Have a great weekend!
(LATE UPDATE - 4/28/05 -
3:45 PM PDT)
There's some very sad news to report today, I'm afraid. A pair of
recent deaths in the entertainment industry that have left me with a
heavy heart. Now, it'd be easy to mention every noteworthy person who
passes, but it's just not possible. That would quickly be all we did
around here, and there are plenty of year end tributes to all the great
talent lost in previous months. But these two... well, I really wanted
to mention them because I feel their loss rather personally.
The first is director George
P. Cosmatos, who passed away about a week ago of lung cancer (see
Cosmatos didn't direct a lot of films, but those he did (mostly action
or genre pictures) are worthy of note, including Cobra,
Unknown Origin and Rambo: First
Blood Part II. But my favorite of his films, and frankly one
of my top three westerns of all time, is 1993's Tombstone,
starring Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer. That's right... the man directed
Tombstone. If he'd done nothing
else in his career, that's more than enough in my book to make him
worthy of high praise. The recent 2-disc
Director's Cut - Vista Series DVD (click on the link to read
my review) features a solid audio commentary track with Cosmatos and I
can think of no better way to honor the man than to give it a listen.
The other person I wanted to mention was a very funny guy from one of
the places I call home, St. Paul, Minnesota. There are three comedians
on this planet who make me laugh so hard I need a change of boxers...
and the now late Mitch
Hedberg. Todd, Sarah and me are all big fans of Mitch's sly, low
key humor. He was a new favorite of David Letterman, having made many
recent appearances on Letterman's Late Show.
He also appeared on TV's That 70's Show
and Ed, and in films like Almost
Famous among others. Mitch's two very funny comedy CDs have
been recent Contest giveaways here
on The Bits. Sarah and I just saw
him in person a few months ago at The Improv here in Irvine. Mitch sadly
died of heart failure on March 31st (see stories
He was just 37 (same age as me, as it happens). The notice of his
passing appeared on his official site (click on the link on his name
above) on April 1st, so I don't know if people thought it was just a
joke, or what. In any case, Sarah and I didn't find out until just
today, when we started trying to find out when he was going to appear in
our area again. We were just sick when we heard the news. Mitch... you
left us way too soon, man, but the world's better for your having been
in it. I'm saving my all my doughnut receipts from here on out.
(EARLY UPDATE - 4/28/05 -
12:01 AM PDT)
Big news today... Warner has finally officially announced the DVD
release of its Best Picture-winning Million
Dollar Baby. The film will be available in separate full
frame and anamorphic widescreen versions on 7/12 (SRP $29.95 each). Each
2-disc set will include the film with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras
will include a James Lipton interview with the cast and the Born
to Fight featurette (on the story of real-life boxer Lucia
Rijker). Also available on 7/12 is a deluxe edition containing the
2-disc DVD plus a soundtrack CD (SRP $39.98). You'll find cover art for
this title below. [Editor's Note - sorry guys, we
had the date wrong earlier. We'd posted it as 7/21. It should be 7/12.
Brain fart, what can I say? It happens.]
Warner has also announced the DVD release of Kung
Fu: The Complete Third Season (SRP $39.98 - street date 8/23)
and The O.C.: The Complete Second Season
($69.98 - 8/23). Surprise... The O.C.'s
second season will be released in anamorphic widescreen the way it
deserves to be seen. Extras will include audio commentary on the
episodes The Chrismukkah That Almost Wasn't
and The Rainy Day Women by members
of the cast and crew, the Beachy Couture: How
O.C. Fashion Is Made documentary, extended takes of the
Marissa/Alex lesbian kiss scene and the original "too hot for Fox"
version of the scene (you HAD to know that was coming), gag reels from
both the first and second seasons, and The
O.C.: Obsessed Completely retrospective TV special. Now if
Warner would just go back and re-issue Season
One in 16x9 the way it SHOULD have done in the first place,
we'd really have something.
In other release news today, Universal has announced a trio of new TV
releases for 7/19... Cleopatra 2525: The
Complete Series, Earth 2: The
Complete Series and Sliders: The
Now then... I'd expected to post this yesterday, but it took a bit
longer to format than I expected. Only so many hours in a day! In any
case, we're very pleased this morning to present you with Barrie
Maxwell's latest Classic Coming Attractions
column here at The Digital Bits.
This time around, Barrie introduces his first ever, new
Roundup, in which he takes a look at the western films of
actors James Stewart and Henry Fonda. He also reviews some 22
western-themed titles on 19 DVDs, many newly released. These include
Violent Men and
Day for a Hanging, 20th Century Fox's
Son of Flicka and
The Complete First Season, Image's
Canadian Rockies and
Violent People, VCI's
Jones Western Double Feature,
of the West,
Ryder Double Feature, Volume 7,
Ryder Double Feature, Volume 8,
Lonesome, and Warner Bros.'
Died with Their Boots On. Barrie also runs down all the
forthcoming western DVD releases, and even compiles them in
downloadable list for your convenience. How do you like them
We'll leave you today with some cover art. Here's Warner's Million
Dollar Baby and The O.C.: The
Complete Second Season, along with Universal's The
Jerk: 26th Anniversary Edition (street date 7/26). The
Jerk was part of our big
art update from Tuesday, but it has yet to grace the index page
and it certainly deserves to. Here you go...
We'll be back with more new DVD reviews tomorrow (Friday). Stay
As promised, we're back today with a massive update of our
DVD Cover Art section. Our own Russell Hammond has added more
than 425 new cover scans to the section today! We've got great art for
you to check out, including such titles as The
Jerk, Cinderella, The
Cosby Show, 3rd Rock from the Sun
and much more. As always, clicking on the cover links will take you to
order page for that title (where you can find things like price and disc
specs). Purchasing DVDs through our links helps to support our work here
at The Bits, so we appreciate it!
By the way, Russell's been formatting cover art for us now for over a
year. Thanks for all the hard work, man!
In other news today, our friends over at
Force.net have posted another report from the Celebration III
convention this past weekend. This goes in the Rumor
Mill category, but apparently at the show, DK Publishing was
promoting the release of an upcoming Star
Wars book as 'timed to coincide with the DVD release of Episode
III in Fall 2005'. So you can look forward to the Saga being
complete on DVD by the end of this year. Also, Episode
III sound designer Matthew Wood (who is also the voice of
General Grievous from the upcoming film) reportedly told convention
goers that he's soon to begin working on deleted scenes from Episode
III for inclusion on the DVD release later this year. Good to
hear! Now if we can just get those original trilogy deleted scenes on
DVD that Lucas
mentioned the other day, along with those 'control ship assault'
scenes from Episode II...
In a related note from the same show, George Lucas reportedly confirmed
that The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles
series is currently in production (likely for DVD release in late 2005
Barring any breaking news updates, we'll be back tomorrow with a new
column from Barrie Maxwell.
(LATE UPDATE - 4/25/05 - 6 PM PDT)
We've spent the afternoon doing a little updating of things around The
Bits today, including the
DVD Player Sales chart and all of the DVD software stats we
We've also kicked off a new
today, giving each of you the chance to win copies of Warner's
Complete Third Season and
The Complete Second Season. The contest will run until Noon
(Pacific) on Sunday, May 1st. Click on the links to get started and good
Just as a heads-up, we're putting the finishing touches on a major
update of the Upcoming DVD Cover Art
section, so you can expect that to be posted very soon. We've also got
new Classic Coming Attractions and
The Bottom Shelf columns coming in
the next couple of days from Barrie Maxwell and Adam Jahnke, and we have
a number of new DVD reviews that we expect to post this week as well.
I also wanted to let those of you who read our
MusicTAP.net site know
that poor Matt's down for the count at the moment with a bad cold. He
may still be making his regular Monday, Wednesday and Friday posts this
week, but they'll probably be a little on the light side. If you're of
the mind, feel free to drop him
an e-mail and tell him to get well soon.
Back tomorrow. Stay tuned!
(EARLY UPDATE - 4/25/05 -
12:45 PM PDT)
Let's start today with the big news:
is reporting that Panasonic (Matsushita) and Philips have joined
Sony and Toshiba at the talks to find a way to merge HD-DVD and Blu-ray
Disc into a single, united format. What that should tell you is just how
serious the effort apparently is - a good sign in our opinion. Keep in
mind that the discussions have just started and they're going to both be
complex and take a long time to get through. Success isn't a guarantee.
But it's nice to know that this isn't just a token effort for show.
These talks seems to be serious, good-faith discussions. As always,
cross your fingers.
By the way, there's an additional story on the talks
from NewsFactor Network via Yahoo.
We've also got a quick DVD release news update this afternoon. First
up, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced the DVD release of
In My Country, Tour
of Duty: The Complete Third Season, Forever
Lulu, Georgy Girl, Hexed,
Nadine and Roughnecks:
Starship Troopers Chronicles - The Complete Campaigns (4
discs), all for 7/5.
In addition, Universal has announced the DVD release of The
Return of the Pink Panther (SRP $14.98) on 7/26. This is
timed to coincide with MGM's Pink Panther
promotion on 7/26, which will include the release of The
Pink Panther, A Shot in the Dark,
Revenge of the Pink Panther, Trail
of the Pink Panther, Curse of the
Pink Panther, Son of the Pink
Panther, The Pink Panther Strikes
Again, The Pink Panther: Classic
Cartoon Collection - Volume 1, The
Pink Panther: Classic Cartoon Collection - Volume 2, The
Pink Panther: Classic Cartoon Collection - Volume 3 and The
Pink Panther: Classic Cartoon Collection 5 pack.
Speaking of The Pink Panther: Classic
Cartoon Collection (SRP $69.96), the 5-disc set will contain
some 124 cartoons produced by Friz Freleng and David H. DePatie between
1964 and 1980, plus the Behind the Feline:
The Cartoon Phenomenon documentary, the Pink
Patter with Art Leonardi: The Story Behind the Animation,
Remembering Friz: A Tribute to Friz Freleng,
Think Pink: How to Draw the Pink Panther
and Page to Screen: The Making of Two
Cartoons featurettes, plus the animated main title sequences
from five of the feature films.
In other news today, we have word that 20th Century Fox has postponed
their release of Julia, which had
been previously announced for release on 6/7. We'll give you an update
when we learn anything on the title.
has revealed on their website that they're working on a new
special edition DVD release of Louis Malle's Au
revoir les enfants, which will contain a new video interview
with actress Candice Bergen. Watch for that to be released this summer.
Back with more later. Stay tuned...
We've got a rare Sunday post for you with a bit of new Star
Wars DVD news. At the Celebration III convention in
Indianapolis this weekend, George Lucas let it slip that a new DVD box
set of all 6 films is in the works, possibly to include an all-new bonus
disc containing deleted scenes from the original trilogy. Expect no
further changes in the films themselves. In addition, don't look for a
high-definition release of the films in 2007. Lucas also confirmed that
the digitally-screened version of Episode III
will be slightly longer than the traditional film version. You can
here to read more at The Force.net.
Note that the story contains what some may consider to be a slight
spoiler about the upcoming film.
(LATE UPDATE - 4/22/05 -
9 AM PDT)
Okay... just one more post this week with a bit of DVD release news.
It's just too good not to check in with. Universal has just announced
the DVD release of Carl Reiner and Steve Martin's The
Jerk: 26th Anniversary Edition on 7/26 (SRP $19.98). The film
will be available in anamorphic widescreen video, with Dolby Digital 5.1
audio. Extras will include the Learn How to
Play "Tonight You Belong to Me" and The
Lost Filmstrips of Father Carlos Las Vegas de Cordova
featurettes, the film's theatrical trailer and production notes. Other
extras are TBA. Also coming from Universal on 7/12 is John Waters' Cry-Baby:
Director's Cut (SRP $19.98), available in anamorphic
widescreen and full frame versions with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. Thanks
to our friend Dave Lambert for the heads-up on The
Jerk. Great news!
Also today, Warner has announced Cartoon
Network's Grossest Halloween Ever and Dallas:
The Complete Third Season for release on 8/9, the BBC's Allo
'Allo!: The Complete Series Three for 8/16, PBS' Battlefield
Britain and the BBC's Clear the
Skies for 8/20, and Go Tell the
Spartans and Nip/Tuck: The
Complete Second Season for 8/30.
By the way, we've followed up on Fox's release of Remington
Steele: Season One on 7/26. It WILL be available in two
versions - the complete season box set (SRP $39.98) and two separate
Part One and Part
Two volumes (SRP $22.98 each). The discs and extras are the
same. The difference is just the price point. Obviously the complete
season set is the best buy, but for those who don't want to spend the
full $40 right away, the two volumes give you another buying option.
Okay... have a great weekend!
(EARLY UPDATE - 4/22/05 - 12:01 AM PDT)
We're back today with DVD reviews from our own Adam Jones, who first
started with us back in 2002. He's excited about returning to The
Bits' staff, and we're certainly glad to have him in the mix
again. Adam's a graduate of UCLA, who's currently pursuing two careers
as a writer and high school English teacher. He's been featured in The
Orange County Register as a freelance writer, covering
profiles and rock concerts (speaking of concerts, you can currently read
review of U2's new road show over at MusicTAP). Adam
thinks has a voice and he likes it when people listen. It's an attention
thing. A little self-indulgent to be sure, but he's a Gemini so give him
a break. Besides, is there a writer out there who isn't seeking an
audience? Adam (not to be confused with Adam Jahnke) returns to active
status today with a trio of DVD reviews, including Warner's new
Range and DreamWorks'
Me If You Can. We hope you enjoy them.
Now then, Sarah and I have family visiting, so I'm going to wrap things
up for this week. But we'll be back on Monday with a major Upcoming
DVD Cover Art update, the latest news and more DVD reviews.
Plus, you can bet we'll follow up on yesterday's amazing news of the
Blu-ray Disc/HD-DVD format unity talks. The latest word is that both
Sony and Toshiba have now apparently informed the Hollywood studios that
a unified format may emerge from the current effort. As we said
yesterday, keep those fingers crossed.
Have a great weekend and stay tuned!
(LATE UPDATE - 4/21/05 - NOON PDT)
We promised you some DVD reviews, so here's the first two of several
coming this week... my thoughts on Sony's
of Flying Daggers and Universal Music's release of Sting and
on the Night concert film. We'll be back with more new reviews
tomorrow from Adam Jones - a staffer who first joined up with us a few
years ago and is now back after a long hiatus. We'll have his take on
Ocean's Twelve and more.
See you then!
(EARLY UPDATE - 4/21/05 - 10 AM PDT)
Well... here's big (and VERY good) breaking news:
to Japan Today and other sources, Sony and Toshiba (the
primary creators of Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD) have just officially begun
talks aimed at uniting their efforts and developing a common
next-generation, high-definition DVD format. No kidding. We may just
avoid this format war yet, folks.
Here's the story from
Today, plus here's more reports on this from
Could there actually be a shred of common sense in Hollywood and the
electronics industry after all? Maybe. Let's hope this is a serious
effort on both sides, and that other manufacturers and the Hollywood
studios get behind these talks in good faith as well.
Personally, I'd like to see the Hollywood studios start issuing
statements in support of these talks. That means you Sony... and you
Warner. Shake hands and smile for the cameras, even if you don't really
mean it. Fox? Buena Vista? Universal? Paramount? It's time to show the
love for a single format.
Cross your fingers, people. Stay tuned...
Hey, everyone. As you've probably noticed, there's isn't much of a post
today. But don't fret - the reason is for our absence today that we're
working on a number of new DVD reviews for tomorrow, including Sony's
House of Flying Daggers. So be
sure to check back then.
In the meantime, have a great evening and stay tuned...
Well... whatever the hardware industry plans to do regarding the
looming HD format war, Warner still seems gung-ho to push forward with
HD-DVD. And now they've officially got Microsoft behind them. Here's
news from their official press release just issued at NAB:
Las Vegas, NV (April 18, 2005) -- Today at the
National Association of Broadcasters convention, NAB2005, Warner Bros.
Studios and Microsoft Corp. announced their plans to collaborate on the
release of a broad range of next-generation HD DVD discs using Windows
Media Video 9, Microsoft's implementation of VC-1, the proposed Society
of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) standard approved by
the DVD Forum for HD DVD. Warner Home Video currently plans to release
titles in the fourth quarter of 2005. HD DVD represents the first major
push to deliver high-definition content to consumers on optical media in
The collaboration signifies Warner Bros.' continued commitment to
providing new digital entertainment experiences for consumers using the
best digital media solutions available. Microsoft will collaborate with
Warner Bros. to ensure that the video quality of HD DVD titles is
unmatched, enabling true home theater experiences.
"Warner Bros. has evaluated the video quality of VC-1 and found it
to be outstanding, making it an ideal format for the delivery of
high-definition content," said Chris Cookson, chief technology
officer at Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc. "By releasing a wide
range of titles in VC-1, we are creating great new opportunities to
bring high-definition video to consumers." "Warner Bros.' plan
to use VC-1 for the release of HD DVDs presents consumers with exciting
new options for watching high-definition content," said Blair
Westlake, corporate vice president of the Media/Entertainment &
Technology Convergence Group at Microsoft. "As a technology
provider, Microsoft is encouraged by the industry's efforts to deliver
next-generation high-definition video experiences for consumers, and we
see the Warner Bros. collaboration as a significant milestone."
So is all this just posturing, or is the HD-DVD camp really going to
push forward with their own format, despite recent comments by Sony's
leadership that they're open to format unity talks? Sadly, I think it's
the latter. On Friday,
article appeared in Video Business suggesting that
"To some HD DVD backers, a compromise
remains a long-shot, and the best strategy is to move quickly toward
launch to exert maximum pressure on the Blu-ray side to back down."
Well, that isn't going to happen. The Blu-ray folks already have the
almost complete support of the computer industry, including leading
manufacturers like Dell and HP. Apple's behind them too. In addition,
Sony's forthcoming PlayStation 3 is going to use Blu-ray Discs to run
gaming software (Sony's current PS2 system dominates the videogame
console market by a wide margin). As far as next-generation data
storage, Blu-ray seems virtually inevitable. HD-DVD has little clout in
this arena, other than its association with Microsoft. But even that's
only about video. HD-DVD is simply being positioned as an HD movie
format. So who REALLY has the upper hand?
What all this should tell you is that, as is the case in almost any big
industry these days, this is all really about egos and money. New
leadership at Sony, the primary manufacturer responsible for Blu-ray
Disc, has signaled a willingness to compromise. But other forces, like
the leadership at Warner Bros. for example, seem content shove their own
format down everyone's throat, come hell or high water. I guess that's
what happens when a deal goes as badly as the AOL/Time Warner merger
did. It doesn't matter to these people, of course, that a single format
is better for everyone in the long run. Nor does it matter to them that
a format war will cause significant consumer confusion and will likely
grind momentum for HD material on disc to a halt. As long as there's
even the slimmest chance for their format to dominate the market and
thus keep their DVD royalty gravy train rolling, they'll take it and
screw everyone else.
Message to the HD-DVD camp: We don't need a continuation of the same at
any cost. We need a SINGLE format. If that means long, drawn out and
difficult format negotiations, then so be it. If that means a degree of
compromise with the Blu-ray folks, so be it. If that means having to
sharing the disgustingly high-calorie profit pie a little more evenly,
so be it. And if that means a two-year delay in launching the next
format, then so be it. Get it done.
Is there still a chance for format unification talks to emerge? Maybe.
But cooler heads in Hollywood - and consumers for that matter - had
better start putting significant pressure on both camps to make it
happen. Because, as it stands now, greedy suits with seriously inflated
egos are steering the home video ship toward the rocks.
(LATE UPDATE - 4/18/05 - 4:30 PM PDT)
Okay... you wanted DVD reviews? Well, we've got 'em for you. How about
17 of them from our own Barrie Maxwell?
his latest Classic Coming Attractions, Barrie gives you
his take on ReelClassicDVD's
Mormon Maid, Image's
Wicked Darling, Milestone's
Lord Fauntleroy, MGM's
Man Who Changed His Mind, Warner's
Philadelphia Story: Special Edition,
Are Ringing, Paramount's
in a Cage and
a Clear Day You Can See Forever, and Questar's
Month of Sundays and
And we've got MORE new DVD reviews coming tomorrow, so stay tuned...
(LATE UPDATE - 4/18/05 -
12:15 PM PDT)
We're going to start this afternoon with some new DVD announcements.
First up, Paramount has confirmed the DVD release of Star
Trek: Enterprise - The Complete Second Season on 7/26 (two
weeks later than the previously announced 7/14 date). The 7-disc set
will include all 26 second season episodes in anamorphic widescreen
video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. There's no word yet on extras other
than that the set will include 5 behind-the-scenes featurettes. And by
the way, when you pick up Star Trek:
Enterprise - The Complete First Season on 5/3, you'll find a
sticker on the packaging promoting the show's 2-hour finale on 5/13 on
UPN. It just makes me crazy, folks.
In more Paramount news, the studio will release The
Far Horizons on 6/7, with Reno
911!: The Complete Second Season - Uncensored! following on
6/14 and The Ren & Stimpy Show: Seasons 3
and a Halfish due on 6/28. In July, look for the catalog
films A Breath of Scandal, Another
Time, Another Place, Elephant Walk,
The Adventurers, The
Rainmaker (1956) and It Started In
Naples all on 7/12.
20th Century Fox has announced the DVD release of Lost
in Space: Season Three, Volume Two on 7/19. The studio has
also announced that it will release Remington
Steele: Season One, Volume One and Remington
Steele: Season One, Volume Two on 7/26 (SRP $22.98 each), the
same day that the studio's also announced the complete Remington
Steele: Season One (for SRP $39.98). It's a little confusing
that they would release the series in two formats, so we're looking into
this. And here's a bit of Fox news that's going to make a lot of you
happy: After a long wait, the studio is finally releasing The
Mary Tyler Moore Show: The Complete Second Season on 7/26
(SRP $29.98). Extras will include audio commentary on 2 episodes
(featuring Ed Asner, Gavin Macleod and others), featurettes and more.
Moving on, Sony has announced the release of 7
Seconds and Stone Cold
for 6/28. Also coming on that date are more UMD releases for Sony's
hand-held PSP game system, including Anacondas:
The Hunt for the Blood Orchid, The
Grudge, The Three Stooges Meet
Hercules and You Got Served.
Finally, Warner has revealed that they'll release Jimi
Hendrix: Deluxe Edition - the acclaimed 1973 theatrical
documentary - on 6/28 (SRP $19.98). The disc will include anamorphic
widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio and over 75 minutes of
additional content, including newly discovered footage from the vaults
of the Experience Hendrix Estate. You'll get rare performance footage of
Stone Free, the hour-long From
the Ukulele to the Strat documentary, and a number of Remembering
Hendrix interviews with family and friends (including Father
Al Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Mitch Mitchell, Billy Cox, Fayne Pridgeon,
Buddy Miles, Linda Keith, Pete Townshend, Eddie Kramer, "H"
Parker, Eric Barrett and Gerry Stickels).
We've got some hot new cover art for you to check out this afternoon as
well. Here's Paramount's Star Trek:
Enterprise - The Complete Second Season and The
Ren & Stimpy Show: Seasons 3 and a Halfish, Fox's Remington
Steele: Season One, Sony's Bewitched:
The Complete First Season (in Black & White of course -
6/21), BCI Eclipse's The Best of He-Man and
the Masters of the Universe (7/12) and Miramax's Hostage
(6/21). By the way, we have a big update of our Upcoming
DVD Cover Art section in the works (a LOT of you have been
asking about it, so there you go)...
Speaking of Star Trek, we've just
kicked off a trio of new
today, giving each of you the chance to win copies of Paramount's
Enterprise - The Complete First Season, as well as Fox's
Newhart Show: The Complete First Season and Capital
Story. All the contests will run until Noon Pacific time, on
Sunday April 24th. Click on the links to get started and good luck!
We'll be back with DVD reviews later this afternoon, so stay tuned...
(EARLY UPDATE - 4/18/05 - 12:01 AM PDT)
Morning, everybody! Just wanted to check in here early to let you all
know that we'll be back later today with a number of new DVD reviews,
contests and more.
For those of you wondering what happened to Friday's post, we had an
unexpected Internet access problem. The cable modem in our office went
down, so we were unable to upload our regular site update. Figures.
Anyway, have a great morning and we'll see you back here later!
Well, it looks like
Money's followed up on
comment from yesterday (to Reuters) by Sony's Yukinori Kawauchi.
Let's hope the industry takes notice... and that Hollywood amps up the
pressure to unite the Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD camps somehow. I love
high-definition, but I'm more than content to wait another year or two
for the details on a single format to be worked out. Let's not have
another repeat of VHS vs. Beta or SACD vs. DVD-Audio. Thanks to Bits
reader Chris K. for the link.
Media Retailing is reporting that when Sony's Hitch
arrives on DVD on 6/14, it will offer composer George Fenton's original
score for the film, which was cut for the theatrical release in favor of
a number of pop songs. Other extras to be included on the DVD are 4
deleted scenes, a blooper reel, the Dance
Steps Made Easy, Hitch Style,
The Dating Experts, Love
in New York and Will Smith's Red
Carpet Ride featurettes and Amerie's 1
Thing music video.
And for you Star Trek fans,
Paramount Home Entertainment is soliciting your two cents on a series of
Fan Collective Edition DVD box
sets it plans to produce in the months ahead. From the studio's press
release, visitors to Star
Trek.com can "rank their favorite
among four sets including: Klingon, Borg, Time Travel and Q. For each
box set, they will also have a chance to select up to five episodes that
they believe is most representative for each category or on of the
overlooked episodes. In addition, visitors can suggest other Star
Trek: Fan Collective DVD box sets and episodes they would like to
see in the future."
Speaking of Star Trek... the
first of the final 6 episodes of Enterprise
will be broadcast tomorrow night on UPN, for those of you who care.
After which time there will be precious little reason to watch the
network, in my humble opinion.
By the way, now that the season has run its course on SciFi, we expect
Universal to announce the DVD release of Battlestar
Galactica: Season One in the weeks ahead. Battlestar
Galactica: Season One, Part Onealready been released in the
U.K. (on 3/28). We'll be sure to keep you posted as things develop.
We're working hard on many new DVD reviews for next week, along with a
new Upcoming DVD Cover Art update,
new columns and more. So be sure to stay tuned...
Afternoon, everyone! We've got a few interesting things for you
First up, Buena Vista has just announced Bruce Willis' Hostage
and Christina Ricci's Cursed for
DVD release on 6/21 (SRP $29.99). They've also set Vin Diesel's The
Pacifier for release on 6/21 (SRP also $29.99).
Next, Warner has announced a number of new titles for July and August.
On 7/12, look for Lifetime's Confessions of
an American Bride and Dawn Anna
(SRP $19.98 each), PBS's 2-disc Guns, Germs,
and Steel documentary (SRP $34.98) and the catalog titles
Night Moves, Scarecrow
and Twice in a Lifetime (SRP
$19.97 each). Following on 7/19 is The Travel Channel's 3-disc Michael
Palin: Himalaya documentary series (SRP $49.98), which will
include over 120 minutes of unbroadcast bonus footage and exclusive pre
and post-trip interviews. Now if only we could get Palin's Sahara,
Pole to Pole, Full
Circle and Around the World in 80
Days on DVD here in the States (hint, hint Warner). On 8/2,
look for Warner's Evel Knievel
(SRP $19.98) with audio commentary by star George Eads and director John
Badham. Finally, also on 8/2, the studio will release The
Thin Man Collection (SRP $59.92), a 7-disc set which will
include The Thin Man, After
The Thin Man, Another Thin Man,
Shadow of The Thin Man, Song
of The Thin Man, The Thin Man Goes
Home, and the Alias Nick &
Nora bonus documentary disc.
By the way, there's still no word yet on Warner's Alexander,
Million Dollar Baby and Constantine,
but we expect announcements soon. Just FYI, we're hearing that The
Polar Express will likely be released late in 2005, in time
for the holidays.
In other news, BCI Eclipse has announced that they'll be releasing the
complete, classic 1980s He-Man and the
Masters of the Universe animated series on DVD over the next
two years. The first release, due 7/12, will be a 2-disc The
Best of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe 10-episode
collection. It will include 5 first season episodes, and 5 second season
episodes, along with documentary interviews with a variety of talent
involved with the original series, including writers, directors, artists
and others. It will also include a pair of 4" x 6" art cards
by Bruce Timm and Adam Hughes. There's even better news from BCI's press
"Beginning this fall, BCI Eclipse will begin
releasing the complete, 130-episode series in multi-disc season
box sets, each including an abundance of extras that, altogether, will
make up the most comprehensive collection of extras ever produced for a
classic animation DVD series. Consulting with BCI on the project and
providing extra content is Val Staples, the owner of He-Man.org,
the internet's largest portal for the He-Man and the Masters of the
Universe fan community, the owner of MVCreations graphic design
company, and the publisher of the recent Masters of the Universe
comic. Producing the special features documentaries and most of the
extra content is entertainment writer Andy Mangels, a best-selling
novelist, and author of Animation on DVD: The Ultimate Guide."
So good news for you He-Man fans,
We've got a follow-up on that Sergio Leone SE DVD story we posted in
Rumor Mill yesterday. We've contacted Sony Pictures Home
Entertainment and learned pretty much exactly what we expected: The deal
to purchase MGM just closed, so they're only just starting to address
the logistics of assuming responsibility for MGM Home Entertainment's
catalog and DVD release slate. It's too early to know if the titles MGM
had previously slated for release later this year (including the A
Fistful of Dollars, For a Few
Dollars More and A Fistful of
Dynamite special editions) will street as planned, or will be
delayed. Rest assured we'll keep you up to date on this in the weeks and
months ahead. Cross your fingers, Leone fans.
Also on the Sony front today, this time on the hardware side of things,
the company has again publicly indicated that they're open to
discussions with the HD-DVD group to create a single standard for the
next generation of high-definition movie discs. According to
Retuers News story today, Yukinori Kawauchi (the general manager
in charge of the next DVD format at Sony's Video Group) was quoted in an
interview as saying, "From the point of view
to provide the best service to the consumer one format is better than
two. We're open to discussions." Unfortunately, he also
noted that, "There's no visible progress to
do that (create a single standard)." I'll tell you this...
if Sony's for real with this offer to help create a single unified
format and the HD-DVD people don't step up to the plate with them, the
HD-DVD crowd is going to look awfully greedy. They'll likely get a angry
earful from early adopters and consumers, and you can BET they'll hear
from us. Come on, guys... the clock is ticking!
Well, today's update is a lot later than we'd planned, but we've been
investigating some interesting DVD news today, including word on that
currently-in-production Gladiator: Extended
Edition we've talked about before, as well as a
newly-announced trio of long-awaited Sergio Leone special edition DVDs
from MGM in the U.K.... that may (or may not) get released here in the
States later this year. You're going to find all of this in today's
rather lengthy update of
Rumor Mill, so click on over there and dive right in.
Afternoon, everyone! Hope you all had a great weekend.
We've got some interesting TV DVD news for you today. First up, 20th
Century Fox has announced the release of Remington
Steele: Season One on 7/26 (SRP $39.98). The 4-disc set will
include all the season's episodes in their original full frame video
with Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround audio. Extras will include 3 featurettes
and commentary on 4 episodes.
In other TV DVD news today, Sony is going to be releasing Bewitched:
The Complete First Season on 6/21 in separate B&W (as
originally broadcast) and colorized versions (SLP $39.95 each). Also
coming on 6/21 from Sony is Tabitha: The
Complete Series (2 discs - SLP $29.95).
And not to be outdone, HBO will release Tales
from the Crypt: The Complete First Season set on 7/12 (SRP
$26.98). The 2-disc set contains all 6 first season episodes.
Over at Home Media Retailing
today, there are a couple of articles worth checking out. The first
quest for superior copy protection on future high-definition
discs, while the other addresses
now official but still cloudy merger between Sony and MGM. Video
story on the closing of the Sony/MGM deal as well.
Well... it's not the original classic TV series, but it's the next best
thing I suppose. Anchor Bay is going to be releasing the Return
to the Batcave special on 5/17, in which Batman
stars Adam West and Burt Ward take you back for a fond Bat-look at all
the campy BLAM, POW and CRASH.
Also today, we've got a new
Mill post with word on possible street dates for Million
Dollar Baby and a couple of other upcoming Warner titles.
Around the site, we've updated the
DVD Player Sales numbers with the latest data from... you
guessed it... CEA, this time for the third week of March. The DVD
software rental numbers have also been updated (above).
And over at MusicTAP,
Dw Dunphy's posted his thoughts on
Live at Last on both CD and DVD. The discs are available now
from Inside Out.
Finally this morning, we've got a few new pieces of cover art for you
to check out. Here's Universal's Jaws: 30th
Anniversary Edition (6/14), Fox's Man
on Fire: All-Access Collector's Edition (5/24) and Disney's
direct-to-video Tarzan II
Okay... that's it for another week. We'll be back on Monday afternoon.
Have a great one and we'll see you then.
We've got a little bit of new Jaws: 30th
Anniversary Edition information for you today. According to
the studio, Disc One will include deleted scenes, outtakes, From
the Set and Shark Facts.
Disc Two will include The Making of Jaws,
storyboards, production photos, Marketing
Jaws and Jaws Phenomenon.
Since the studio is claiming that the DVD will include "a
feature-length documentary," we can only assume that The
Making of Jaws is indeed being presented in its original
2-hour version. We'll let you know when we have official confirmation
from the studio.
In other news, Warner has announced that it will release the 3-disc
Gilligan's Island: The Complete Third Season
on 7/26 (SRP $39.98).
Also, Buena Vista has announced a slate of five films in UMD format for
playback on Sony's handheld PSP game system. The titles include National
Treasure, Pirates of the
Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Reign
of Fire, Kill Bill, Vol. 1
and HERO. Specific release dates
are unavailable, other than that they're expected this spring.
Additional UMD/PSP titles will likely be announced by the studio later
in the year.
By the way, we have another
to add to our current line-up. This one gives you a shot at winning
copies of Universal's
Rider: Season Two,
Season Two and
The Complete Second Season. All the same rules governing the
other contests apply here.
We wanted to take a moment to remind you all that an out-of-print title
is returning to DVD soon - one that we feel is well worth your
attention. Image Entertainment and the National Film Preservation
Foundation will be re-issuing the original, 4-disc Treasures
from American Film Archives box set on 5/10 in a new "Encore
Edition". The set includes 50 rare films of historical value from
1893 to 1985. After it was originally released in 2000 and subsequently
went out of print, the title was in such demand that copies were
fetching steep prices on eBay. Now you'll be able to get it again for
its original SRP of $69.95. Click
here for more information on this set, and its acclaimed
follow-up, More Treasures from American Film
Archives. Net proceeds from the sale of both sets are used to
support further film preservation efforts.
Also today, Paramount has informed us that they're going to be
releasing The Daily Show with Jon Stewart:
Indecision 2004 on 6/28 (no SRP yet). The uncensored, 3-disc
set will feature all the fake political news and coverage you've come to
expect from the show, including all four episodes from the Democratic
convention, all four episodes from the Republican convention, and the
The Bush-Kerry Debate: The Squabble in Coral
Gables and Election Night 2004:
Prelude to a Recount live specials.
By the way, in response to reader questions about recently announced
MGM titles, the new DVD release of Throw
Momma from a Train (due on 5/31) will feature a new
anamorphic widescreen transfer. Also, Weekend
at Bernie's (due 7/12) will include both anamorphic
widescreen and full frame video. Both carry an SRP of $14.95.
(LATE UPDATE - 4/5/05 -
4:15 PM PDT)
We've got a quick update for you on Universal's 2-disc Jaws:
30th Anniversary Edition, recently announced for release on
6/14. The studio is now indicating that the release will include
"thrilling bonus materials",
including a "never-before-available
interview with Steven Spielberg during the production of Jaws... a
feature-length documentary, deleted scenes, archives and more."
The set, which will be available in both full frame and anamorphic
widescreen editions (SRP $22.98 each), will also include a
"commemorative photo journal"
likely in booklet form. Audio on both versions will include English
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, 2.0 Mono & DTS 5.1 Surround, as well as
French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround. Subtitles will be
available in both French and Spanish, along with English captions. We
suspect that the "feature-length documentary" is indeed the
full version of DVD producer Laurent Bouzereau's original The
Making of Jaws, but we'll have to wait for official
confirmation of this. We'll post more specific details on the extras as
they come in from the studio.
Just FYI, these two new versions are in addition to the three
previously released DVDs (from early 2004 - in full frame and widescreen
with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, and in widescreen with DTS 5.1 audio).
Also this afternoon, we have a little bit of new cover art to share
with you... Sony's Hitch (6/14),
MGM's Bill & Ted's Most Excellent
Collection (7/12) and The Errol
Morris DVD Collection (7/26), New Line's Son
of the Mask: Platinum Edition (5/17) and A
Dirty Shame: NC-17 Edition (we'll give you one guess as to
why it's NC-17 - 6/14), and the BBC's forthcoming Voyage
to the Planets and Beyond documentary (arriving on DVD on
5/24 from Warner, and debuting on The Discovery Channel on 6/5)...
By the way, speaking of new cover artwork, we should have another
update of the Upcoming DVD Cover Art
section soon. I know a LOT of you out there have been waiting for it.
(EARLY UPDATE - 4/5/05 -
10 AM PDT)
Morning, folks. There's a little bit of interesting news to round up
for you today, so let's get right to it.
Here's what's got me excited this morning (no, it's not Flock of
Seagulls news): Criterion
has announced that it expects to release Akira Kurosawa's Ran
on DVD in late 2005. The special edition will include many all new
extras, among them an exclusive interview recently conducted in Tokyo
with the film's star, Tatsuya Nakadai. Can't wait! Todd and I aren't
going to be happy until all of the Kurosawa's films are widely available
on DVD in high-quality editions.
In other news, Paramount has announced a few of its July titles,
including It Started In Naples and
A Breath of Scandal (on 7/12), and
Dora The Explorer: Super Babies
(on 7/19). Other titles and street dates will be revealed soon.
I wanted to suggest that you all to check out
Bay's newly re-designed website this morning. It's got a slick new
interface, and provides a listing of titles that are
soon to DVD and titles that are
at some point in the future. Among the interesting titles listed
there, I'm pleased to see that Damnation
Alley is finally on the way (due Fall 2005).
Around the Net today, Home Media Retailing
(formerly Video Store) has posted
story about disagreements over the replication costs for HD-DVD
and Blu-ray Disc. It's interesting reading.
Even better reading, however, is
new story over at Video Business
on a possible thaw between the HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc camps. This
apparently is due to recent changes in management of Sony and Toshiba,
two of the companies at the heart of the disagreement. Everyone cross
your fingers that the manufacturers and the studios already committed to
one or the other format listen to reason.
Of course, just when it starts looking like there's reason for hope
with regard to the HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc format war,
comes a Wired story claiming that Internet distribution
will be the death of both formats. Yeah, maybe... at some point. I don't
know about you though, but I hope that day is a long way off. There's
something about holding the disc and the packaging in your hand, and
being able to put it on your shelf... I'm not ready to give that up just
yet, thank you. And I don't think other consumers are either.
Why, you ask? Well... I would argue that one of the reasons downloading
music is so popular is that the music industry hasn't really been giving
people their money's worth for years now. Who wants to pay $20 for a
music CD, when you can pay $.99 for the one song on the whole damn disc
you might actually like, or $9.99 for the whole album downloaded if you
do end up wanting it? The music industry seems intent on ignoring those
of us who want high-resolution audio, and their lackluster efforts to
give people "more value" with DualDisc are too little too late
in my book. The movie industry, on the other hand, has been serving
people's wants and needs very well indeed with DVD, delivering not ONLY
higher quality video and audio at a great price, but also more extras
that most people will ever look at in their lifetimes. Unless you're
dying to be the first guy to get a shaky-cam look at Sin
City before it hits theaters (which means you're probably
going to be first in line to see the flick in theaters anyway), who
really wants to download films and watch them on your computer? Not me.
I'm more than happy to spend $15-30 for a high quality copy on DVD, plus
all the extras, and sit in my comfy home theater.
Yeah, downloading might be the death of movie discs. But not for quite
a while yet I think.
By the way, hats off to the UNC Tar Heels for a fantastic finish to
March Madness. I'll tell you, watching great college hoops like this
just makes me hate those greedy pros even more than I already do. My
condolences to our own Matt Rowe, whose Fighting Illini came THIS close.
He was dearly hoping his team would get the chance to face my Wisconsin
Badgers in the Final Four, but no such luck. Still, great seasons all
around for our boys. Big Ten, baby!
Afternoon everyone! Any of you get caught by the whole setting your
clock ahead thing? We managed to set all our clocks properly, buy body's
still running about an hour behind! Ah, well... always takes a few days
We've got some DVD announcement news for you today. As expected, Sony
has announced the release of Hitch
for 6/14 (SLP $28.95). The film will be released in full frame and
anamorphic widescreen versions, and also a UMD video version for Sony's
PSP. No word yet on extras. Also coming on 6/14 from Sony is The
King of Queens: The Complete Fourth Season (3 discs).
And Buena Vista has announced the DVD release of The
Pacifier on 6/28 (SRP $29.99). Yeah, I know... Vin Diesel
passed up xXx: State of the Union
We're pleased today to offer you Barrie Maxwell's
Classic Coming Attractions column here at The
Bits. In this edition, Barrie runs down the latest classic
release announcements, including a basic summary of titles revealed in
with Warner at the HTF. Don't miss it.
Also today, our own Matt Rowe has reviewed a pair of the new R.E.M.
DVD+CD discs or "DoubleDiscs" from Warner Music over at TAP...
Adventures in Hi-Fi and
Both include the album in regular CD format, along with high-resolution
DVD-Audio format, as well as other extras. As Matt says in the review, "DoubleDiscs
are the nukes that blow DualDiscs into oblivion." Amen, brother. If
the record companies expect me to buy albums I already have yet another
time, they'd damn well at LEAST better give me high-resolution audio for
my money. Plain old DualDiscs really don't interest me much.
Around the site today, we've kicked off FIVE new
giving each of you the chance to win copies of Fox's
it Like Beckham and Warner's
Wing: The Complete Fourth Season,
Coast to Coast - Volume 3 and
Birdman: Attorney at Law - Volume 1. These contests will run
for TWO weeks, until Noon PDT on Sunday, April 17th. Click on the links
to get started and good luck!
Finally today, I got the chance to read the script for Star
Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith on Friday night (the
marketing blitz officially began this weekend, so the script is
available as an e-book, along with the novelization and other books on
the making of the film). My comments below contain very few spoilers,
but I know there are a lot of people out there who want to say
completely free of any advance knowledge. So I'm posting my thoughts on
the script in black text. If you want to read them, just highlight the
text with your mouse pointer:
I have to tell you that I was awfully uneasy as I
began reading the script. The first third of Revenge of the Sith
feels very much like parts of The Phantom Menace... and I don't
mean the good parts. There's a lot of Anakin and Obi Wan bantering back
and fourth as they fight scores of battle droids, and the dialogue is
pretty bad. BUT don't despair, because once you get past this, the film
gets a lot better. About a third of the way in, the Sith lord's
nefarious plot really starts unfolding... and it's all dark and intense
action from there on out. The script finishes well, setting up A New
Hope beautifully. There are a couple of great surprises, and the
plot threads all tie up nicely. You're going to be left with a strong
sense of "Wow... so THAT'S how it all happened." I've heard
from people who have seen most of the film that the action and visuals
are astonishing - the best yet from Lucas. Add to that John William's
final score, which you KNOW is going to kick ass, and I think the vast
majority of Star Wars fans will enjoy this film. If Lucas pulls
it off, it'll easily be the best of the three prequels. Whatever you
think of them so far, there's nothing like a strong finish. When I get
the chance to SEE this film, you can be sure that I'll post a review.
Okay, that's all for today. Back with more tomorrow.