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page updated: 11/29/05



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 11/11/05 - 10/18/05)


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11/11/05

What do you know? It's Friday again. Feels good, doesn't it?

Our own Adam Jahnke's penned another fine edition of The Bottom Shelf today, featuring three new comedy-themed DVD reviews. Included is Adam's take on Universal's The Jerk: 26th Anniversary Edition and the Cry-Baby: Director's Cut, along with Paramount's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Indecision 2004. So enjoy that.

We've also got a bit of DVD announcement news for you today. Universal has set Two for the Money for release on 1/17 (SRP $29.98). The title will be available in separate full frame and anamorphic widescreen versions, each with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include feature commentary with directors Dan Gilroy and DJ Caruso, an Insider Interview featurette and The Freeroll: The Making of Two for the Money documentary.

Now then... I'll be posting my regular review of this next week, and Barrie's going to be doing a more in-depth review as well. But I've just gotten my first look at Warner's new King Kong: Special Edition (due on 11/22) and I HAD to tell you all a little bit about it. First of all, the film looks amazing. This restoraton is really impressive - I'm betting Kong hasn't looked better since its original 1933 theatrical release. I haven't listened to the audio commentary yet, nor have I looked at the documentary about Merian C. Cooper. But I'll tell you... the 7-part RKO Production 601 documentary is outstanding. You get a really in-depth history of the film itself, as well as a look the producers and the production, complete with new interviews with film historians (like Rudy Behlmer, Bob Burns), filmmakers (Peter Jackson, Frank Darabont, etc) and special effects experts (Ray Harryhausen, Ken Ralston, Phil Tippett and others), as well as a look at original photographs, production artwork and more vintage materials. But here's what's really great - specifically for this DVD release, Jackson and his crew at WETA (who, as you know, have been working on their own remake of King Kong, which hits theaters next month), worked to build - in exacting detail - replicas of many of the original stop-motion miniatures from the 1933 film, and to recreate footage using the original effects production process. The result of this is that when they're talking about how the original Kong was made, you actually get to SEE the process in action! The folks at Pellerin Multimedia and Sparkhill were able to document the effort as Jackson's animators worked with their new, meticulously recreated Kong puppet, on a multi-layered miniature set that's a nearly exact duplicate of one created for the original film. It's VERY cool to see, let me tell you. As you may know, Jackson also tasked his effects crew with recreating the lost "Spider Pit" sequence for this DVD release. Their work was never intended to be edited back into the film, but simply to give you a sense of what that lost footage MIGHT have looked like. It's a joy to see. In fact, this DVD release is just a really special piece of work - something that's clearly made by die-hard Kong fans, for die-hard Kong fans. You're going to love it. I think it was well worth the wait.

Anyway, we'll leave you today with a look at more new DVD cover art. Here's Sony's 2046 (12/27), the Cartoon Adventures Starring Gerald McBoing Boing (1/3) and The Cave (also 1/3), Universal's The Chumscrubber (1/10) and Two for the Money, and Fox's Time Tunnel: Volume One (1/24)...

2046Cartoon Adventures Starring Gerald McBoing BoingThe Cave

The ChumscrubberTwo for the MoneyTime Tunnel: Volume One

Okay... we've got a big one in store for you next week. Todd and I will both be kickin' out the review jams, and we've got another review column from Barrie Maxwell on the way as well. We'll also have a new interview, a long-awaited update of the Upcoming DVD Cover Artwork section and more. So be sure to check back on Monday.

As this is Veteran's Day, hats off to all you folks in the armed forces serving around the world, and to those of you who have worn the uniform in the past. Our best to all of you.

Have a great weekend and stay tuned!

11/10/05

Some more new announcements for you...

Warner has set Cimarron, The Champ, Captains Courageous, The Good Earth, Kitty Foyle, Johnny Belinda and Lust for Life for release on 1/31 (SRP $19.97 each). Each title features remastered picture and sound, and extras like animated shorts, documentary featurettes and theatrical trailers.

We also have word that Sony will debut its remade The Fog on disc on 1/24.

And Lions Gate has set Barbie Diaries for release on 1/31.

Around here at the site today, we've posted two more editions of Jahnke's Electric Theatre. First up, we've got a brand new edition (factory fresh!) with reviews of Shopgirl, Jarhead and a pair of other recent films. We've also posted another older installment from May, which includes Adam's review of Star Wars: Episode III and more. Don't miss 'em!

And be sure to drop Adam an e-mail to say howdy. He's sick in bed with some kind of would-be bird flu, so he could use a little cheering up. ;-)

Stay tuned...

11/9/05

It's a bit of a quiet news day, so we're busy working on new DVD reviews here at The Bits. But there are a couple things worth reporting this afternoon.

First, MGM has officially announced that they're going to be supporting the Blu-ray Disc high-definition format when it debuts next year... a move which should surprise exactly nobody given the studio's recent purchase by Blu-ray backer Sony.

Next, 20th Century Fox and Lucasfilm are reporting strong sales of the Star Wars: Episode III DVD around the world, and Lucasfilm is also crowing about sales of their Star Wars: Battlefront II videogame. Together, the two titles have apparently raked in $210 million worldwide. There's no specific unit sales numbers available, but Lucasfilm's Jim Ward is saying that sales in some areas are nearly double what they expected. You can read more here.

Also today, Video Business is reporting that Pixar is back in discussions with Disney about renewing their previous distribution deal. It seems that Pixar CEO Steve Jobs is getting along better with new Disney chief Bob Iger than he did with Michael Eisner (which should also surprise no one), making the prospect of a renewal more likely than it's been in recent months. Pixar's future is also looking brighter following better than expected profit earnings in their last financial quarter.

Okay... it's back to spinning discs for us around here. Stay tuned!

11/8/05

You know... I really enjoy the whole voting thing. Call me idealistic, call me what you will, but there's just something about living in a country where you're guaranteed the right to research the issues, form your own opinion and then go out and pull a level to call things like you see it, you know? It's worth keeping in mind that we've got our good young men and women over in Iraq right now (and a big Bits shout-out to all of you folks over there!) risking their lives so that the Iraqi people can finally have the right to vote. And here we are in the U.S. and all too many of us take that same right for granted. I think Election Day should be a national holiday. You want to really honor some of what our troops are fighting for? Then get out there today and exercise your right to vote. Trust me, it feels good. They even give you a sticker. Then you can head on over to your local video retailer, and pick up a few new DVDs as a reward for being a good citizen. God bless America, baby!

First thing's first today: We've got more new DVD announcements for you... and some big ones too.

Warner Bros. has announced the release of Tim Burton's The Corpse Bride on 1/31 (SRP $28.98). The film will be available in separate anamorphic widescreen and full frame editions, each with Dolby Digital 5.1 EX audio. Extras will include behind-the-scenes documentaries, the Tim Burton: Dark vs. Light, Voices from the Underworld, Danny Elfman Interprets the Two Worlds, Making Puppets Tick and Inside the Two Worlds featurettes, a music-only track, galleries of pre-production artwork and more.

Warner has also announced a 2-disc All the President's Men: Special Edition for release on 2/21 (SRP $26.99). The DVD will include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, a new audio commentary by star Robert Redford (his first ever), 3 documentaries (Telling the Truth About Lies: The Making of All the President's Men, Out of the Shadows: The Man Who Was Deep Throat and Woodward and Bernstein: Lighting the Fire), the Pressure and the Press: The Making of All the President's Men vintage featurette, a vintage Jason Robards interview excerpt from Dinah! hosted by Dinah Shore and an Alan J. Pakula thrillers trailer gallery.

Also today, Universal has set The Constant Gardener for release on 1/10 (SRP $29.98). The DVD will be available in both anamorphic widescreen and full frame versions, with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include deleted and extended scenes, and 3 featurettes (including Embracing Africa: Filming in Kenya, John le Carré: From Page to the Screen and Anatomy of a Global Thriller: Behind the Scenes of The Constant Gardener).

Finally, Paramount has set the first of its fan-selected Trek releases for 3/7. Star Trek: Fan Collective - Borg will be a 4-disc set including select Borg-themed episodes from Enterprise, The Next Generation and Voyager. Details on price, the specific episodes and extras to be included are still TBA.

Here's a look at the DVD cover artwork for The Corpse Bride, The Constant Gardener and the Star Trek: Fan Collective - Borg:

The Corpse BrideThe Constant GardenerStar Trek: Fan Collective - Borg

Before we go, we've got a new Artist of the Month for November that we'd like to point out. Kevin Greene's a fantastic caricature artist and illustrator. If you're a fan of films, you'll really dig some of his work. Be sure to check out his page here at The Bits, and his own website as well. Enjoy!

Stay tuned...

11/7/05

Morning, everyone! Hope you all had a darned spiffy weekend. We're going to kick off the new week with some new DVD announcements, so here you go...

20th Century Fox has added The Five Heartbeats: 15th Anniversary Special Edition and Trouble Man (1972) to its 1/10 slate. Following on 1/31 are Billy Graham Presents Last Flight Out and a Billy Graham Presents Gift Set (which includes Road to Redemption, Something to Sing About and Last Flight Out for SRP $39.98).

Meanwhile, Sony has set The Escapist, Junebug, Sueno, The Hunt for Eagle One, a Classic Comedies Collection (including Ghostbusters, Stripes, Groundhog Day) and Resident Evil: Apocalypse (single-disc edition) for release on 1/17.

New Line has set a Final Destination: Scared 2 Death Pack for release on 1/17 as well, which includes the existing Final Destination and Final Destination 2 DVDs, along with an exclusive preview of Final Destination 3 (plus a free movie ticket for Final Destination 3). SRP is $19.99.

Also, Disney has announced the 2-disc Lady and the Tramp: Special Edition for release on 2/28 (SRP $29.99). The release will include both anamorphic widescreen and full frame video and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio ("new digital restoration with enhanced picture and sound"), 2 never-before-seen deleted sequences (La La Loo and Turning the Tables), the Finding Lady: The Art of the Storyboard and Lady's Pedigree: The Making of Lady and the Tramp documentaries, a newly discovered alternate storyboard concept, Disney's "virtual puppy" DVD-ROM activity, a Disney Dogs Trivia game, an interactive Puppypedia and more.

Here's a bit of news some of you might find interesting. You think HDTV is cool? We'll, you've seen nothing yet. According to the EETimes, the Japan Broadcast Corporation (NHK) has been testing a new Super Hi-Vision format. The idea is to create a television format so good, that it can convey the illusion of reality over broadcast video - literally it's like looking out a window. Super Hi-Vision boasts an eye-popping 7680 x 4320 pixel resolution. By comparison, regular TV offers 704 x 480 resolution, and new HDTV tops out at 1920 x 1080 (1080p). We haven't even fully upgraded to high-definition yet and we're ALREADY behind. D'oh!

Around the site this morning, we've updated all of the DVD format stats we track (above), including the CEMA DVD Player Sales numbers for the second week of October (ending 10/14). All charts have been updated accordingly.

Matt's chipped in with a new music DVD review over at his MusicTAP website: Shout Factory's Alice Cooper: Good to See You Again, Alice Cooper.

Also, be sure to check out Russell Hammond's DVD Fanboy for a look at a few exclusive bonus DVDs that you'll be able to find in certain stores in the next couple of weeks.

Finally today, we've kicked off THREE new Contests giving each of you the chance to take home copies of Paramount's Star Trek: Enterprise - The Complete Fourth Season and Beavis & Butt-Head: The Mike Judge Collection - Volume One, Warner's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Ventura's The Ed Sullivan Show Rock & Roll Classics Box Set, Blackout and Conduct Unbecoming. The contests will run until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, November 13th. Click on the links to get started and good luck!

Stay tuned...

11/4/05

Well... another week's under the belt. Time sure flies, doesn't it? I wonder how many movie fans out there have already done all-day marathon viewing of the Star Wars saga on DVD? Bet a lot of people will be doing so this weekend.

Speaking of Star Wars, no sooner did I post that explanation of the Episode III DVD's "Charlotte" volume label, do I learn that DVD producer Van Ling has also done the same thing on the official Star Wars website. Van would know better than anyone, and his explanation goes nicely in-depth, so do check it out if you're interested. Also, Bits reader Byron W. e-mailed us to say that Wal-Mart's Episode III bonus disc is also available at Sam's Club stores (just in case you're out there looking for a copy). Thanks, Byron!

While we're on the subject of DVD producers, our good friend Michael Pellerin (who crafted the The Lord of the Rings DVDs) is featured in a new Hollywood Reporter interview discussing his work on the DVD version of Peter Jackson's upcoming King Kong. Michael and Peter also worked together to produce some of the features on Warner's soon-to-be-released DVD of the classic 1933 King Kong. According to Michael, Universal has set Jackson's Kong for release on disc in April '06. Expect LOTS of great extras.

We've got more new release announcements to report today. First up, Sony has added a Mad Max: Superbit DVD to its 1/10 slate, along with a UMD version of Underworld (our UMD Movie Release List has been updated accordingly).

Also, 20th Century Fox has set The Simpson's: Kiss & Tell for release on 2/7, with The Pretender: Season 3 following on 2/14 and NYPD Blue: Season 3, Pin-Up Girl, Daddy Long Legs, Weekend in Havana and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea: Volume 1 all streeting on 2/21.

Also today, the folks at The Criterion Collection have announced some new titles for February (street dates TBA). Look for them to include Luis Buñuel's Viridiana (cat #332), Jean Renoir's La bête humaine (#324), Robert Hamer's Kind Hearts and Coronets (#325) and Whit Stillman's Metropolitan (#326).

We've got a trio of new DVD reviews for you this afternoon. Lindsay Planner's checked in over at our MusicTAP affiliate with his thoughts on Shout Factory's SCTV: Volume 4, and Brentwood/BCI Eclipse's Martin Tahse's After School Specials and Clutch Cargo: The Complete Series, Volumes 1 & 2. Do check them out.

Finally, we're going to leave you with a sneak peek at some new DVD cover artwork. Here's Universal's Serenity (12/20) and Broken Flowers (1/3), as well as DreamWorks' Red Eye (1/10)...

SerenityBroken FlowersRed Eye

Okay... have a great weekend, everyone! We'll see you back here on Monday.

Until then...

Denny Crane

(LATE UPDATE - 11/3/05 - 6 PM PST)

Any of you ready to see The Eighth Wonder of the World in all his Samsonite-smashing glory? Then do visit Universal's official King Kong website without delay and feast your eyes. You can even watch the film's just-released final trailer in HD if you've got the right hard 'n' soft. Peter Jackson's latest home movie looks like it's gonna be a fun one, folks. 12/14 can't come fast enough.

Back tomorrow. Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 11/3/05 - 12:01 AM PST)

Well... I'm a little tuckered out this morning. Sarah and I slipped away last night to take in the U2 show up at the Staples Center in L.A. Or as they've been calling themselves these last few days, The Larry Mullen Band. I'll tell you... Bono and the boys sure know how to put on a helluva good dog and pony show. They're sold out all along their current tour, but if you ever get the chance to see U2 live, I highly recommend doing so. Concert going is always a hoot in L.A. anyway - you never know which celebrities you're going to bump into in the crowd. Celebs and non-celebs alike, they're all trying hard to be seen, those Hollywood folk. Strange place, La-La Land.

Anyway, speaking of U2... the band's new live DVD release hits stores on 11/15. Vertigo 2005: Live from Chicago will be available in a single-disc regular edition (SRP $19.98) and a 2-disc Deluxe Edition ($32.98) which includes a bonus documentary on the tour and extra performance footage. Should be cool.

We've got a few bits of Episode III-related DVD info for you this morning. A few savvy readers have e-mailed to say that about five minutes into The Chosen One featurette on Disc Two, you get a glimpse of the new digital Yoda from Episode I. Also, those of you who have the Wal-Mart bonus disc may notice that in The Story of Luke Skywalker documentary on that disc, you'll catch a glimpse of the original Emperor from Episode V and also the original ghostly Anakin Skywalker from the end of Episode VI.

Even more savvy readers have e-mailed us to ask why, when they put the Episode III DVD in their ROM drives, does the disc have the volume name "Charlotte"? That's all about fooling would-be pirates during the disc's production, prior to its official release. When very high profile DVD titles are being authored and tested, they're sometimes given project code names so that anyone who might see check discs lying around (or see project-related files on the production facility's computer network) won't know what's actually on them... and thus be tempted to steal and pirate them. Last year's Star Wars Trilogy release, for example, was referred to by the code name "Eve" when it was in production, and the individual films were labeled "White" (A New Hope), "Black" (The Empire Strikes Back) and "Jane" (Return of the Jedi). When the final DVDs were about to be manufactured, the discs were given their correct volume names. With piracy concerns even more extreme this year, Sith was likely left "Charlotte" on purpose into final disc manufacturing as an extra measure of protection against 11th hour digital theft. Think of it as a DVD version of the old "Blue Harvest" joke.

Anyway, that's just a little bit of useless DVD trivia from your Uncle Bill. No charge. ;-)

Around the site this morning, we've got another great Classic Coming Attractions column for you from the ever-prolific Barrie Maxwell. In this edition, Barrie reviews 13 new classic releases on DVD, including Image Entertainment's In Old Monterey, I Vitelloni, The Twilight Zone: The Definitive Edition - Seasons 3 & 4 and Combat!: Seasons 3, 4 & 5, along with Sony's The Man with Nine Lives and Hart Sharp Video's The Man with the Golden Arm and Charlie Chaplin: The Forgotten Years. He also runs down the latest classic release announcements. Do check it out (and enjoy).

Finally this morning, I wanted to let you all know that our friends over at From Script to DVD.com have posted a list of all the places you can see Disney's new Chicken Little in 3-D DLP. It's definitely worth a look if there's a properly equipped theater in your area. You can bet you're going to be seeing a lot more films offered in 3-D digital projection in the years ahead.

Okay, I may be back with more later this afternoon. So in the meantime, off to work with you!

Stay tuned...

11/2/05

There's some sad news to report in the world of television science fiction this morning. Writer/producer Michael Piller passed away yesterday after a long fight with cancer. He was just 57. Piller was a veteran of the Trek franchise, having produced literally hundreds of episodes of the series Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager. He was co-creator Voyager and also wrote the feature film Star Trek: Insurrection (along with many Trek TV episodes). More recently, he co-created and co-produced USA's The Dead Zone and ABC Family's Wildfire with his son, Shawn. You can read more here at Star Trek.com. He'll be missed.

On a more upbeat (and also Trek-ish) note this morning, I have to tell you... I'm REALLY enjoying William Shatner's performance as legal eagle Denny Crane on ABC's Boston Legal. He and co-star James Spader have a fantastic rapport and chemistry on screen. They really play off each other wonderfully. I bring this up now because, as a Trek fan, I'm just really jazzed to see Shatner finally tearing up the small screen again. I think people forgot how good an actor he was for a while, and Denny ranks right up there with Kirk in terms of memorable TV roles. I also mention it now, because I don't think I've seen anything more absurdly funny in a VERY long time than Shatner and Spader smoking cigars in pink flamingo costumes from last night's episode. And yes, I know how silly that sounds, but I'm STILL laughing about it and I'm telling you... if you aren't watching these two on Boston Legal, you're really missing out.

In other news this morning, Video Business is reporting that Warner Home Video will finally begin releasing movies on UMD format (for Sony's PSP system). Its first titles are expected to be Dukes of Hazzard and Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Volume 4, both on 12/6. We've updated the UMD Movies for PSP Release List accordingly.

By the way, we've learned from Bits readers that the Wal-Mart Episode III bonus DVD is ONLY available at Wal-Mart stores here in the States. It's unfortunately not available to Canadian customers. Just FYI.

Here at the site today, we're kicking off your Wednesday morning right with a whopping EIGHT new DVD reviews from Peter Schorn and Greg Brobeck. Peter checks in with his thoughts on Fox's Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story and Killer Tomatoes Eat France!, Inecom's EXPO: Magic of the White City and Discotek's Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs - Limited Edition. Meanwhile, Greg's spun Capital Entertainment's Count Duckula: The Complete First Season, Universal's Dragnet 1967: Season 1 and Fox's The Mary Tyler Moore Show: The Complete Second Season and Remington Steele: Season One, and he lets you know what he thinks about each of them. All eight titles are now available in stores.

Also today, we've got another update of The Rumor Mill, which includes word from our sources on a bunch of interesting catalog titles on the way for early next year from Fox. Anyone out there ready for Valley of the Dolls? Don't miss it!

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 11/1/05 - 12:45 PM PST)

Okay... we've got some BIG DVD release announcements to report today. As we first told you here in The Rumor Mill, Universal has finally revealed Joss Whedon's Serenity for 12/20. The film will be available in dual anamorphic widescreen and full frame editions (SRP $29.98 each). Both versions will include Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, deleted scenes, outtakes, a video introduction with Whedon, audio commentary with Whedon and 3 featurettes (including Future History: The Story of Earth That Was, What's in a Firefly and Re-Lighting the Firefly).

Universal will also release Broken Flowers on 1/3 as expected, and also The Chumscrubber on 1/10.

Paramount has set Elizabethtown, Survivor: Pearl Islands Panama - The Complete Season and a Breakfast at Tiffany's: Anniversary Edition for 2/7.

Meanwhile, Sony will release Mirror Mask, Rampage: The Hillside Strangler Murders, Saraband, Strong Medicine: The Complete First Season, a rare Superbit edition of Rollerball (2002), The Magnificent Seven: Collector's Edition, Stuart Little: Deluxe Edition, Stuart Little 2: Special Edition and a Wild Things Collection (including Wild Things, Wild Things II & Wild Things: Diamonds in the Rough), all on 1/10.

On the UMD front today, Universal's Serenity will be available in UMD for the PSP on 12/20. Also, Sony will release Mirror Mask and a Stuart Little/Stuart Little 2 double feature on UMD as well, both on 1/10. We've updated the UMD Movies for PSP Release List accordingly.

In other news today, we're very pleased to introduce a new affiliate site of The Digital Bits. As you know, our own Russell Hammond had started a DVD Exclusives column here at The Bits. But his ongoing effort to document and catalog all of the various bonus DVDs and other retailer-exclusive items got SO big, that it made more sense to turn the column into a site all its own. So Russell has created DVD Fanboy. Like Matt's MusicTAP, Russell's DVD Fanboy is a great supplement to The Bits. You'll find the latest updates about new exclusives and an ever-growing database of past exclusives. As the database grows, you'll even find images of many of the bonus discs to help you identify them. Russell expects to update the site frequently as new exclusives are announced, but you can definitely expect regular Monday updates covering the exclusives that will be available the next day in stores. You'll find links to DVD Fanboy at the top of this page (under the button bar and in our columns section). We think it's another valuable resource for readers of The Bits, so we hope you enjoy it. Our congrats (and thanks) to Russell for all his efforts!

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 11/1/05 - 10:30 AM PST)

We'll be back with more this afternoon, but we wanted to check in early with a quick comment on Wal-Mart's exclusive Episode III bonus disc. We've seen it... and while die-hard fans and completists will probably want it, it's not really worth going out of your way for. The disc includes two 30-minute documentaries (4x3, DD 2.0), each hosted/narrated by C3P0 and R2D2. The first, The Story of Anakin Skywalker recaps the events of Episodes I & II. The second, The Story of Luke Skywalker, summarizes the events of Episodes IV, V & VI. They're pretty cheesy, consisting almost entirely of excerpts from the other films. They seem to be targeted at kids, and those adults who need to be Cliff Noted prior to viewing Episode III as a reminder of what's happened so far and what comes next. Just FYI. We've updated our DVD review accordingly.

Back soon. Stay tuned...

10/31/05

Well... it's Halloween time again. Todd's favorite holiday and sure to line the pockets of dentists everywhere.

In honor of the day, we've got a new edition of The Bottom Shelf from our own Adam Jahnke. Adam reviews a trio of recent films on DVD from the one and only Bruce Campbell, including the Evil Dead 2: The Book of the Dead 2 - Limited Edition, Man with the Screaming Brain and Alien Apocalypse. All three titles are now available on disc from Anchor Bay Entertainment.

Adam also chimes in today with a new Electric Theatre column, in which he runs down thirteen of his favorite scary movies - just the perfect viewing material for later this evening, after the kids are all tucked in bed with their stomachs full of sugar.

Elsewhere around The Bits today, we've kicked off SIX new Contests, giving each of you the chance to take home copies of Warner's Blue Collar TV: Season One, Volume One, Universal's The Perfect Man and The Brat Pack: Movies & Music Collection, Paramount's CSI: NY - The Complete First Season, 20th Century Fox's Millions and the Office Space: Special Edition (with Flair), and finally Ventura's The Ultimate Fighter and UFC 53 Heavy Hitters. The contests will run until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, November 6th. Click on the links to get started and good luck!

We've got a bit of info for you on a problem people are reporting with Paramount's new Titanic: Special Collector's Edition DVD. It seems there's a little video encoding error on Disc One at about 1:19:19 into the film. It appears for just one frame, but once you know it's there it's irritating impossible not to see. Here's what it looks like:

Titanic DVD video error

To the best of our knowledge, ALL copies are affected by this error (we've check ours and have confirmed it's definitely there). It's a pretty minor issue in the grand scheme of things, but it's enough for home theater-philes to be on about. So we're waiting to hear back from Paramount on this, to see what they have to say about it and if they plan to correct the problem. Thanks to Bits reader Shannon N. for the image.

Around the Net today, there's a good story over at Home Media Retailing about how retailers are starting to get excited about the Blu-ray Disc format in light of Paramount and Warner's recent endorsements. Meanwhile, HD-DVD's prospects are looking dimmer with each passing week. I'm telling you, folks... this format war may already be over.

We've got another new Classic Coming Attractions column from Barrie on the way for later this week and, if all goes well, we'll have new DVD reviews from Peter, Todd and myself too. We'll also try to have a follow-up for you on that early Universal disc problem, and the new Titanic problem as well.

Don't forget... tomorrow's the big day you can finally bring Star Wars: Episode III home on DVD. I suspect it'll be one of the biggest, if not THE biggest, DVD release of the year. Also set for release tomorrow (and highly recommended if you're a Trek fan) is Star Trek: Enterprise - The Complete Fourth Season - easily the best year of the show bar none (and unfortunately the last).

Safe trick-or-treating and we'll see you tomorrow. Stay tuned!

10/28/05

Afternoon, folks. We've got some new DVD announcements to report today as we end another week.

First up, 20th Century Fox has announced a number of new titles for January. Look for The Five Heartbeats: 15th Anniversary Edition, Island in the Sun, Stormy Weather, Pinky and Transporter 2 on 1/10, with Hill Street Blues: Season One and Supercross following on 1/31.

Media Blasters has announced Zatoichi: TV Series - Volume 2 for release on 1/31.

And Warner Home Video has announced a big slate of titles for January and February, including Red Dwarf VII (for BBC - 1/10), Walking with Monsters: Before the Dinosaurs (for BBC) and Lois & Clark: The Complete Second Season (both 1/17), Dallas: The Complete Fourth Season (1/24), Captains Courageous, The Champ (1931), Cimarron (1931), a 2-disc Gone with the Wind: Special Edition, The Good Earth, Johnny Belinda, Kitty Foyle, Love, Ludlow, Lust for Life, Murder in the Hamptons, and a number of double-feature releases including Blood Alley/Sea Chase, Collateral Damage/Eraser, Flipper/Flipper's New Adventure, Lawnmower Man/Lawnmower Man 2, Mr. Nanny/Suburban Commando, My Blue Heaven/The Man with Two Brains, National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon/Senior Trip, The NeverEnding Story/The NeverEnding Story II, Passenger 57/Boiling Point, A Piece of the Action/Uptown Saturday Night, Tarzan, the Ape Man/10 and Train Robbers/Tall in the Saddle (all for 1/31), Club Paradise, Collision Course, Deal of the Century, For Richer, For Poorer, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air: The Complete Third Season, The Frisco Kid, Living Single: The Complete First Season, Odd Jobs, Quick Change, Mad Magazine's Up the Academy and Who's That Girl (all for 2/14), What's New Scooby-Doo? Volume 8: Zoinks, Camera, Action! (on 2/21) and finally The Easter Bunny's Coming to Town (on 3/7).

I'm pleased to see Mad Magazine's Up the Academy on that list. Sure it's a cheesy flick, but I've been looking forward to it for a while now. Maybe Warner will release Under the Rainbow next...

Around the site today, we've updated the CEA DVD Player Sales numbers to include the first week of October (ending 10/7). We've also updated all of the DVD hardware and software stats we track (above).

We'll be back on Monday with new DVD reviews and more, so have a great weekend and we'll see you then!

10/27/05

We've got some street dates for you this morning for a few major upcoming DVD releases. You'll find that in The Rumor Mill so be sure to check it out. Think Broken Flowers, The Constant Gardener, Lord of War and more.

And as they say good things come to those who wait... let me take a personal moment for an old pal. Mr. MusicTAP has waited his entire life for this. He's officially on Cloud 9 right now, and I don't think I've ever seen him happier. So this one's for you, Matt...

Chicago White Sox - World Series Champions

Back with more later. Stay tuned...

10/26/05

We've got a nice little surprise for you today... our own Todd Doogan's checked in with a new Doogan's Views column! In this edition, Todd offers his thoughts on five recent TV favorites of his that are now available on DVD, including Warner's Veronica Mars: The Complete First Season, Sony's Kingdom Hospital, Buena Vista's Tilt: The Complete First Season, Universal's House M.D.: Season One and The Office: Season One.

Also today, over at Matt's MusicTAP site, crack music reviewer Dw Dunphy's posted his thoughts on Paramount's new Bob Dylan: No Direction Home DVD.

Speaking of Matt, he and his wife Deb were over at our house last night watching the World Series' longest game ever with Sarah and me. As you may know, the Sox won... and as you might guess, Matt's walking around today like the cat that ate the canary. Matt's hoping his team will wrap the series up tonight in a sweep. We'll see (and we'll see you at Wingnuts tonight, Matt!)...

Okay... we've got some new DVD announcements to report today. First up, Universal has revealed more new titles including Michael Flatley's Celtic Tiger (12/13), Red Eye (1/10 for DreamWorks), The Nutty Professor I & II (box set - 1/17), The Richard Pryor Collection (including Which Way is Up?, Brewster's Millions, Car Wash and Bustin' Loose - also 1/17), Confessions of a Sociopathic Social Climber (2/7) and Soldiers of Change (2/28).

Sony has announced The Cave, All in the Family: The Complete Fifth Season, Cartoon Adventures Starring Gerald McBoing Boing, The Valachi Papers, a Football Box Set (including Rudy, Radio & Jerry Maguire), a Snatch: Deluxe Edition (with a CD and a booklet) and The Mob Box Set (including Bugsy, Snatch, Donnie Brasco and The American Gangster with a booklet), all for 1/3.

Paramount has set Asylum for release on 1/17.

Finally, New line has set The Man for 1/17, with Jackie Chan's Thunderbolt following on 1/24.

We've got some new UMD announcements to report today as well. Universal will deliver Billy Madison, National Lampoon's Animal House & Scarface (1983) on the format on 12/20, and Sony's The Cave is set for 1/3. We've updated the UMD Movie Release List accordingly.

In other news today, we've learned that Warner Bros. has recalled The Adventures of Superman: The Complete First Season in Canada. It seems that Discs 4 & 5 of the 5-disc set release up there are the same disc (despite having printed labels that state otherwise). We expect Warner will re-package the set correctly and re-issue it as soon as possible. As far as we know, this only affects copies released in Canada. Thanks to Bits reader Michael and all you other guys up North who e-mailed us on this.

Finally this afternoon, we've got word on the eventual first season release of a popular new FX show in The Rumor Mill. Don't miss it.

Stay tuned!

10/25/05

We've got a real treat for you classic film fans. Our own Robert A. Harris has delivered a new Yellow Layer Failure column in which he talks with George Feltenstein, Ned Price & Ronnee Sass of Warner Home Video about the restoration work that went into the long awaited King Kong DVD (due in stores on 11/22). The piece features interesting information on the history of the film and the efforts to preserve it, as well as the creation of the DVD and its special features. If you're as excited for this release as we are, the interview is well worth a read. Don't miss it.

Also today, we've kicked off FIVE new Contests, giving each of you the chance to win copies of Warner's 2-disc Wizard of Oz: Special Edition, House of Wax, The Tom and Jerry Spotlight Collection: Volume 2 and The Looney Tunes Spotlight Collection: Volume 3, Universal's The Munsters: The Complete Second Season and American Gothic: The Complete Series, and 20th Century Fox's Melinda and Melinda, Pet Alien: Atomic Tommy and Pet Alien: Aliens Unleashed. The contests will run until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, October 30th. Click on the links to get started and good luck!

We'll be back tomorrow with news, new DVD reviews and more. Stay tuned!

10/24/05

Afternoon, folks. Well... it was a pretty decent weekend 'round The Bits left coast offices. Matt's White Sox took a quick 2-0 lead in the World Series (boy, is he enjoying that) and my Vikings even mustered a rare win on Sunday. By a 56-yard field goal, against the Packers no less. You know, if the Vikes win NO other games all season, they DAMN well better win both Packers games. That's all I can say. ;-)

Okay... we've got a new Classic Coming Attractions for you today from our very own Barrie Maxwell. In this edition, Barrie takes a look at the westerns of actor Randolph Scott. Barrie also reviews 12 new western DVD releases including Sony's Santa Fe, Man in the Saddle, The Stranger Wore a Gun, Ten Wanted Men, A Lawless Street, The Last Frontier and Major Dundee: The Extended Version, as well as VCI's Fighting with Kit Carson, Rustlers of Red Dog, Riders of Death Valley, Red Ryder Double Feature, Volume 9 and Red Ryder Double Feature, Volume 10. And as always, he runs down the latest classic film DVD release announcements. Don't miss it.

Around the horn today, Business Week's got an interesting story up on that move HP made last week to try to get the Blu-ray Disc camp to make their format a little more like HD-DVD in terms of consumer friendliness with regard to playback and use of its discs in ROM drives. Business Week's also got a nice little primer up on the current state of the format war. Both pieces are worth checking out.

Back at home, we've got some more upcoming DVD cover artwork for you to take a look at. Here's Warner's The Adventures of Superman: Second Season (1/17/06) and The Flash: The Complete Series (1/10/06), Media Blasters' Zatoichi: The Blindswordsman - Volume One (TV series - 11/29), Warner's Sam Peckinpah: The Legendary Westerns Collection box set and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid: Special Edition (both 1/10/06 - Pat Garrett's in the box and available separately), and Paramount's Ferris Bueller's Day Off: Bueller... Bueller... Edition (also 1/10/06)...

The Adventures of Superman: Second SeasonThe Flash: The Complete SeriesZatoichi: The Blindswordsman - Volume One

Sam Peckinpah: The Legendary Westerns CollectionPat Garrett and Billy the Kid: Special EditionFerris Bueller's Day Off: Bueller... Bueller... Edition

I hope you all had the chance to take a look at that nifty King Kong video from this weekend. We'll be back tomorrow with a new Yellow Layer Failure column from Robert Harris... on Warner's restoration work to bring classic King Kong to life on DVD.

See you then!

10/22/05

We've seen a lot of cool things this year - the last Star Wars movie, the Superman Returns trailer at Comic-Con, etc. But this may be the coolest thing yet. For those of you who are fans of classic King Kong, this might just bring a tear to your eye. No kidding. What you're about to see are some truly amazing moments in film history, newly captured on video thanks to director Peter Jackson and film historian and expert prop collector/preserver Bob Burns. Click on over to this production diary page at Kong Is King.net, choose your preferred Quicktime video size... then sit back and be amazed.

Kong lives!

10/21/05

Well... Warner's finally spoken out about Blu-ray. Here's a couple of their comments from yesterday:

"Consumers will soon be able to enjoy a large selection of catalogue favorites and contemporary hits from Warner's vast library on the Blu-ray format" - Jim Cardwell, president, Warner Home Video

"We are going to put our product on for consumers on both formats. The market will decide if the functionality, if the price, if the consumer offering is what they want." - Marsha King, executive vice president of New Business Development, Warner Home Video

You can read the actual statement here. Pretty dry, I know, but there it is. You can also read more about the studio's decision here, here, here, here and here.

Not surprisingly, HD-DVD backer Toshiba was quick to comment about all this yesterday as well:

"Toshiba and Warner Bros. continue to collaborate closely toward the commercial launch of HD DVD. We understand Warner Bros. continues to strongly support HD DVD, due to its outstanding features, cost structures, and market readiness. We recognize Warner Bros's participation in the Blu-ray Disc Association represents the studio's understandable commitment to listen to broad array of opinions and to continue to make technical evaluations of each format, and we are more than confident this will not affect timely introduction of HD DVD content to the market. The fact that new voices from within the Blu-ray camp have recently called for adoption of key features already in HD DVD - iHD for its superb PC interoperability and Mandatory Managed Copy to allow for secure DVD ripping - shows the level of technical balance achieved by the HD DVD format. HD DVD offers already-verified volume disc production and substantial superiority in terms of recordable disc cost. It also integrates a series of advanced technologies, including AACS for robust content protection system, and VC-1, a highly efficient video compression technology, for enhanced storage capacity. Toshiba strongly believes the HD DVD format will eventually win broad support as the more superior format, and in cooperation with our partners, we are committed to bringing HD DVD products first to market early next year in the U.S.."

So there you have it. We're still going to have a format war... but I'm not so sure that this thing isn't already over and the HD-DVD folks just don't know it yet. We'll just have to see how all this plays out over the next few months.

FYI, out of respect for Barrie, we're holding his new column until Monday. His stuff is just too good to dump on a Friday. ;-)

No worries though, we've still got something for you today. I've given new DVD editions of two of my favorite films a spin on disc and written reviews of both of them: 20th Century Fox's Office Space: Special Edition with Flair! (due on 11/1) and Universal's The Big Lebowski: Collector's Edition (now available). Sadly, neither new edition offers much that's really... well, new. But hey - both are great flicks. If they aren't already part of your DVD collection, they ought to be, loaded or not (not).

Okay, off you go for another weekend. I'm gonna watch some Sox games with Matt, and maybe catch a flick or two. You folks in Florida keep your heads down and hang in there. As for the rest of you... have a great weekend. See you all on Monday!

(LATE UPDATE - 10/20/05 - 12:15 PM PDT)

Apparently it's official: Warner has agreed to support the Blu-ray Disc format, and the Blu-ray Disc Association's board formally approved the studio's admission to their ranks last night. You can read more at Home Media Retailing. A statement from Warner with regard to movie/software support is expected later this afternoon.

Given this breaking news, we're going to delay Barrie's new Classic Coming Attractions column until tomorrow. So watch for that then, and check back later today for Warner's comments.

(LATE UPDATE - 10/20/05 - 11:30 AM PDT)

While we wait for Warner's Blu-ray announcement, there's word (from Reuters via Yahoo) that tech industry analysts Forrester Research have declared Blu-ray Disc the winner of the HD disc format war. The piece is WELL worth a read. I'll tell you, we at The Bits do not much disagree.

There's also word today that Hewlett-Packard has asked Sony and the Blu-ray camp to include features in their format that are more consumer-friendly to computer users. You can read about that here (at ZDNet) and here (at TechNewsWorld).

Around the site this morning, we have word from our industry sources on more soon-to-be-announced street dates for major upcoming DVD releases. You'll find that in The Rumor Mill. There's also a bit of information about a forthcoming director's cut of Kingdom of Heaven. Be sure to check it out.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 10/20/05 - 12:01 AM PDT)

Well... we'd been expecting this to happen, and it looks like it's finally about to. Video Business is reporting that Warner Home Video is set to officially announce today that it will support the Blu-ray Disc high-definition format in addition to their already announced backing of HD-DVD. This move by Warner, likely bringing New Line and HBO with it, comes after the Blu-ray camp agreed to concessions on increased copy protection and other issues. This will make Universal the only major Hollywood studio yet to back Blu-ray Disc, while several studios (including 20th Century Fox, Disney, Sony, MGM and Lions Gate) have not - and likely will not - support HD-DVD in the foreseeable future. The decision by Warner would seem to give Sony and the Blu-ray camp a near-slam dunk victory over rival Toshiba's HD-DVD format. However, all of this hinges on the two groups actually being able to deliver robust and functioning hardware and software in time for their expected launch windows in early to mid-2006. On this score, HD-DVD seems to be farther along. Interesting in the Video Business piece is the suggestion (albeit unsubstantiated) that the Blu-ray folks may still have a lot of work to do.

You can bet that additional announcements by both camps will follow in the weeks ahead. We'll continue watching this situation closely and keep you informed of any new developments.

Back with more later, so stay tuned...

10/19/05

Afternoon, folks! We hope all's well in your neck of the woods.

We'll be back with a new Classic Coming Attractions column from Barrie Maxwell tomorrow. In the meantime, we've got some more new DVD release announcements to report.

First up, Universal has set Knight Rider: Season Three, The A-Team: Season Three and Magnum P.I.: The Complete Third Season for release on 1/31/2006. The studio has also announced Cry Wolf for 12/20.

Meanwhile, Sony (and thus MGM) has announced a large slate of titles for December. Look for The Baxter, Beautiful Country, Godzilla: Final Wars, Pretty Persuasion, Saint Ralph, Crooked Hearts, Everybody Wins, F.I.S.T., The Producers: Deluxe Edition, a Harryhausen Gift Set (including 20 Million Miles to Earth, It Came from Beneath the Sea and Earth vs. the Flying Saucers plus a scrapbook), Tour of Duty: The Entire Series (3-season pack), and a double-feature of the Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 special editions, all on 12/13. November, White Dragon, Party of Five: The Second Season, 21 Hours at Munich and Here Come the Tigers are set to follow on 12/20. Finally, 2046, Black Dawn, Empire of the Wolves, Happy Here and Now, a double-feature of Bram Stoker's Dracula and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein will arrive on 12/27 (we believe these are the same as the previously released versions, just packaged together).

Speaking of Sony, this is Rumor Mill-category stuff, but sources are telling us to expect the studios' The Exorcism of Emily Rose on 12/20.

Finally today, we've done a major update of our UMD Movies for PSP Release List. There are TONS of new titles in there, so be sure to check it out.

Stay tuned!

10/18/05

Anyone up for another new DVD review? I've been working all day on this one... my novel-length look at Paramount's Star Trek: Enterprise - The Complete Fourth Season. The 6-disc set streets on November 1st... and let me tell you straight away, it's the best season this series has to offer. It's also, sadly, the final season of Enterprise. Damn, that still burns. Oh well. These episodes are WELL worth a spin for fans of both Enterprise and classic Star Trek as well. Just take my advice and skip the last one. The review will explain why. Trust me, if you love Enterprise, ignorance is bliss with that last episode.

A bit of news today - New Line has announced the DVD release of Jackie Chan's Thunderbolt on 1/24/06 (SRP $19.97). Look for anamorphic widescreen video and the usual Dolby 5.1 sound. There are no extras to speak of.

Universal has revealed yet another American Pie DVD. This one is the direct-to-video American Pie Presents: Band Camp, starring Eugene Levy. It's due on 12/26 in R and Unrated versions (in both full frame and anamorphic widescreen - SRP $26.98 each).

Also today, Home Media Retailing has some news that should make you fans of Davey and Goliath happy. Following the success of Volume 1 on DVD earlier this year, Starlight Home Entertainment had decided to release all the rest of the series' 65 episodes and the various TV specials as well. Nice.

Okay... I'm whupped. As some farmer once said, "That'll do pig. That'll do."

See you tomorrow. ;-)


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