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page updated: 1/25/06



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 1/12/06 - 12/15/05)


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1/12/06

Okay... I'm nearly done with the CES coverage, but there's still a bit more work to do which is on-going. My attention is unfortunately split between CES and other DVD and high-def matters, but hey... what can you do. Not enough hours in the day. Anyway, no worries... it's coming.

Meanwhile, there's some new standard DVD announcements to tell you about.

First up, Paramount has announced the DVD release of an Aeon Flux: Special Collector's Edition for 4/24. The studio is also releasing a new version of Event Horizon on 4/18 (we believe it's also a Special Collector's Edition - we'll let you know). And look for Jodie Foster and Scott Baio in the musical Bugsy Malone on 4/11.

Warner's finally officially announced Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire for 3/7 (which we posted art for yesterday - SRP $28.98) in dual anamorphic widescreen and full frame editions. Extras are TBA.

Warner has also announced the following titles for release in April and May (a few are previously released titles simply being repackaged), including 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1997), The Betsy, Jacques Cousteau: River Explorations Collection, The Sea Wolves and The Waltons: The Complete Third Season (all 4/25), In the Womb and Wyatt Earp (5/2), Monarch of the Glen: The Complete Series 4 (5/16 for the BBC) and a series of George Bernard Shaw films including Arms and the Man, The Devil's Disciple, Heartbreak House, The Millionairess, Mrs. Warren's Profession and Pygmalion (George Bernard Shaw) (all on 5/16).

In other news, Universal has moved the street date for Confessions of a Sociopathic Social Climber from 2/7 to 2/21. They've also announced a trio of new "Glamour Collections" for 4/4 (SRP $26.98 each): Carole Lombard: The Glamour Collection will include Hands Across the Table, Love Before Breakfast, Man of the World, The Princess Comes Across, True Confession and We're Not Dressing. Marlene Dietrich: The Glamour Collection will include Blonde Venus, The Devil Is a Woman, Flame of New Orleans, Golden Earrings and Morocco. Finally, Mae West: The Glamour Collection will include Go West Young Man, Goin' to Town, I'm No Angel, My Little Chickadee and Night After Night.

Also, our good friends over at Anchor Bay Entertainment have let us know that their recently released UMD version of Evil Dead II includes a Dolby Headphone track! Dolby Headphone, as you may remember from our past coverage, is specially processed to simulate full surround sound from regular stereo headphones. Trust us, it's pretty great. We first saw this technology at CES a few years ago, and were very excited about it. Unfortunately, the only major DVD releases to take advantage of it since have been Disney's Pearl Harbor: Vista Series Director's Cut and Pearl Harbor: 60th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, and the T2: Extreme Edition from Artisan (now Lionsgate). But if you've got a Sony PSP, give the Headphone track on Evil Dead II a try. We think you'll really dig it. FYI, we're being told that Anchor Bay's forthcoming UMD versions of The Hills Have Eyes and Near Dark (street date 3/7) will include the feature as well.

Finally today, we've got some new anticipated street dates from our industry sources for major upcoming titles like King Kong and Narnia. You'll find that in The Rumor Mill today.

Stay tuned...

1/10/06

Rest assured, I'm working hard on that CES report. Lot of material to go through, but I hope to have it up by the end of the day or early tomorrow morning at the latest. In the meantime, there's a few new DVD release announcements that I figured you'd want to know about.

First up, Warner has set George Clooney's Good Night, and Good Luck for release on 3/14 (SRP $28.98). The film will be presented in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras are expected to include audio commentary with writer/director Clooney and co-writer Grant Heslov, deleted scenes and the film's theatrical trailer.

HBO has set Six Feet Under: The Complete Fifth Season for release on 3/28 (SRP $99.98). Video on the set will be anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include audio commentaries, episodic previews and recaps, behind-the-scenes featurettes and more.

Meanwhile, Sony' Capote (street date 3/14, SLP $28.95) will also be anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras include extended behind-the-scenes documentaries, the Truman Capote featurette, audio commentary with Philip Seymour Hoffman and director Bennett Miller, a second commentary with Miller and screenwriter Dan Futterman and more.

The studio has also announced the DVD release of Rent for 2/21 (SRP $28.95). The DVD, available in separate 2-disc anamorphic widescreen and full frame versions, will include Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, audio commentary by director Chris Columbus and selected cast members, deleted scenes and musical performances, the feature-length No Day But Today documentary, and PSAs for Jonathan Larson's Performing Arts Foundation and The National Marfan Foundation.

Also newly revealed by Sony for release on 3/21 are The Confessor, Ring Around the Rosie, The Dying Gaul, Bewitched: The Complete Third Season (in color), Gidget: The Complete Series, The Young Riders: The Complete First Season, The Flying Nun: The Complete First Season and Huff: The Complete First Season.

Universal will release more TV product on DVD on 4/4, including Magnum P.I.: Season Four, Knight Rider: Season Four and The A-Team: Season Four. The studio has also set Pride & Prejudice for release on 2/28, as well as 18 Fingers of Death on 4/11.

Not done yet. New Line has set Ushpizin for release on 4/4. They also have Just Friends due on 3/7, and The Year of the Yao on 3/14. FYI, they've moved the street date for A History of Violence from 2/28 to 3/14 as well.

Finally, Buena Vista has set An Unfinished Life for 4/11. They also have Miramax's Deep Blue due on 4/11, and a director's cut of ESPN's Through the Fire on 3/14.

Here's cover art for Warner's Good Night, and Good Luck and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (temp art - expected street date 3/7), HBO's Six Feet Under: The Complete Fifth Season, the full frame version of Sony's Rent, and the regular and 2-disc versions of Universal's Jarhead (3/7)...

Good Night and Good LuckHarry Potter and the Goblet of FireSix Feet Under: The Complete Fifth Season

RentJarheadJarhead: Collector's Edition

By the way, we've also kicked off an additional Contest today (in addition to the others already running), giving each of you the chance to win copies of Warner's The Flash: The Complete Series. The contest will run until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, January 15th.

Okay, it's back to work for me on CES coverage. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 1/9/06 - 12:15 PM PST)

Okay... I'm working on gathering together a lot of information for that CES report, so I'll have that up later today. Tons of press releases, product sell sheets, and my own notes to go through. In the meantime, be sure to check out our CES 2006 Image Gallery. Lots of interesting stuff to see in there, so don't miss it.

I've had a lot of people ask how we're going to cover Blu-ray and HD-DVD here at The Bits. Obviously, reviews of software will be in the regular reviews section, simply identified by format. Hardware review will be there as well. But we do intend to create separate sections for HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc releases, much like our current UMD Movies for PSP Release List. That way we can provide a little bit of a primer on each format, and help all of our readers keep track of movie releases.

Meanwhile, there are unconfirmed reports out of CES (see this link at ArsTechnica) that the region code map for Blu-ray Disc will be slightly different than that of regular DVD, in that the U.S. and Japan will share the same code of Region 1. Specifically, Region 1 will include North America, South America and East Asia (excluding China), while Region 2 will contain all of Europe (including Turkey) and Africa, and Region 3 will hold for China, Russia and others. That would mean three regions in all, along with a "null" region code setting to indicate "all" regions. We'll try to confirm this. Thanks to Bits reader Jim J. for the link.

Now then, I've gotten literally thousands of e-mails since I left for CES last Thursday morning, so it's going to take me a while to go through it all... and that's AFTER I've finished posting my coverage. So if you're trying to get a hold of me that way... please be patient. ;-)

Back to work! For me not you. Okay, for you too. Check back later today for more CES coverage!

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/9/06 - 12:01 AM PST)

Morning, Bits-ers! So how was YOUR weekend? As interesting and exhausting as mine, I wonder? You know Vegas... tough little town. It's been known to kick a few butts, and it whopped mine but good. CES is a fun but brutal experience. If you've never been to the Consumer Electronics Show, let me just tell you that it's SO big and so spread out, you couldn't see the whole thing in a week's time, much less two days. Thankfully, I was only there to check out Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD... and check them out I did.

We've got lots of coverage on the way for you, starting with pictures from the show. As often happens, it took me a little longer than expected to go through all of the pics I took at CES. I literally filled up my camera's memory card during the two days I was at the show, so it took a while to select the best images for you - the stuff I knew all of you were dying to see. Then I had to format them all for web viewing and get them uploaded to the site. You know the drill, it's a lot of work.

But it's finally done. Just as the clock strikes twelve here on the Pacific shore, I've uploaded our CES 2006 Image Gallery for your viewing pleasure. There are more than 50 images from the show floor to feast your eyes upon, including pictures of the Blu-ray Disc Association and HD-DVD booths, as well as shots of forthcoming gear from Sony, Pioneer, Toshiba, Panasonic and lots more. We've got images of Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD players coming out our ears, along with your first look at actual disc packaging for both formats. There's plenty to see, and it all comes complete with commentary from yours truly.

I'll be back later this afternoon (and I'm talking Monday now) with more comments about what I saw at the show, including my editorial thoughts on both high-definition formats. Plus, I even had the chance to sit down with Andy Parsons, senior vice president at Pioneer Electronics (USA) Inc, for a one-on-one discussion on all things Blu (as in -ray Disc). So watch for that in the next day or two as well.

In the meantime, enjoy the pictures and we'll see you back here later today. Stay tuned...!

1/8/06

Okay... I'm back from CES, I've had some time to rest and recover, and now I've got lots of stuff to start sharing with all of you. A full report on the show is coming, along with lots of pictures and even an interview. I'm going to start with the pictures first. I've begun formatting them all and I expect to start posting them later this afternoon. Some good stuff - lots of hardware, final HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc packaging, and plenty of shots from the show floor. Check back in a couple hours for those.

I'll have lots more to say later this evening and tomorrow, but let me just tell you this much now: the buzz at CES 2006 was all about Blu-ray Disc. For virtually everyone I spoke with, from hardware reps to studio execs to random, run-of-the-mill attendees on the convention floor, Blu-ray had people talking. I have to tell you this as well: Having seen all the displays, talked the tech and kicked the tires a little bit, Blu-ray Disc has me genuinely excited again - more than I've been in a long while, since back in the early days of DVD, when Divx finally threw in the towel and our current favorite home video format really took off. That was when we first started to see the first of those really great, in-depth DVD special editions, when all of the studios were targeting their releases towards serious film enthusiasts, and so were going out of their way to make each of their discs special. Now of course, most of the discs we get are cookie-cutter, marketing committee produced editions, designed to maximize profit and minimize the fun.

Well... I'm betting that Blu-ray Disc is going to bring a little of that fun back again.

But more on that later. For now, it's back to work for me on getting those pictures posted. So check back in a few hours for that.

See you then!

1/5/06

Okay... this is going to be my last post until I get back from CES this weekend. As I said, I may check in on Friday with a few thoughts if I can find the time to do so, but otherwise, watch for my full CES report on Saturday night or Sunday morning.

That said, we've got some MAJOR stuff in THIS update, so pour yourself some coffee and let's have at it.

First of all, we have now learned that Sony is planning on launching their Blu-ray Disc format in "early Summer." We've been hearing rumors that May '06 is currently the targeted time-frame for the launch of Sony's PS3, which will be a Blu-ray Disc based device. Pioneer's first Blu-ray Disc player is expected to arrive in stores in June (the BDP-HD1, for a whopping $1,800 - click here), while Philips has announced that its first Blu-ray Disc player will arrive "in the second half of 2006" (click here). Word is there will be no official PS3 announcement at the show, but we do expect to learn more Blu-ray launch details from Sony. I'm meeting with Sony reps on Friday, so we'll see.

So based on Toshiba's announcements earlier today, it appears that the HD-DVD format will get out of the gate first starting in March, several months ahead of Blu-Ray Disc (which has become, in the eyes of many industry analysts, the odds-on favorite of the two competing formats).

Of the announcements made so far, what's most interesting to me is Toshiba's apparent loss-leader pricing strategy for HD-DVD hardware, with their initial players expected to sell for $799 and $499 respectively (see our first post yesterday for more on that). The $799 price point seems rather aggressive, given that the first DVD players back in 1997 were priced at around $1,000 (and that the first high-end Blu-ray Disc players are currently expected to be priced at $1,000 and above). The $499 price point is VERY surprising, and seems to be a clear attempt to counter Sony's anticipated PS3 advantage (the PlayStation 3, which will be a Blu-ray Disc player in addition to its gaming functions, is almost certain to be priced at around $499). What's more, Microsoft has just announced that, later in 2006, it will offer an HD-DVD upgrade drive as an accessory to its new Xbox 360 game system. This would seem to indicate that Toshiba and the HD-DVD camp aren't simply going to concede the format war to Blu-ray without a major fight. Still, with ALL of the major Hollywood studios save Universal already committed to supporting Blu-ray, and with ONLY Universal, Paramount, Warner, HBO and New Line in the HD-DVD camp, HD-DVD is going to have a very tough row to hoe.

We should remind you that most (if not all) HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc players are expected to be backwards-compatible with current, standard DVD-Video discs, so there's no need to worry about your entire video libraries suddenly becoming vaporware. You can be thankful for that at least. And we expect current DVD to be the defacto standard for home video viewing for at least the next several years. After all, most consumers have only really gotten on-board regular DVD fully in the last 3-5 years or so. They're not going to be eager to upgrade again right away. What we anticipate is that regular DVD will coexist with HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc in much the same way that VHS coexisted with Laserdisc. One or both of the high-def discs (we think Blu-ray) will become the cinephile/videophile format(s) of choice, while the vast majority of average consumers will be quite happy to stick with regular DVD for years to come. Keep in mind that as most of these consumers upgrade to new widescreen/anamorphic HDTVs and multi-channel surround sound systems over the next few years, the regular DVDs they already enjoy are going to keep looking and sounding better and better. So there's no need to fear that regular DVD is going away anytime soon. It's just not going happen. Not for quite a few years yet, at least.

Ultimately, like it or not, our bet is that the home video future will be broadband, video-on-demand-style downloading of high-definition film and TV programming right to your DVR-enabled TVs, TiVos and cable boxes. I don't think pre-packaged media is going to go away completely, but I'm afraid it will eventually be the exception and not the rule. Just some thoughts, but they're worth keeping in mind amid all this talk of Blu-ray and HD-DVD.

By the way, those of you interested in getting a look at what representative Blu-ray Disc packaging is going to look like need wait no further. Here's the artwork for Sony's Hitch and House of Flying Daggers in Blu-ray format:

Sample Blu-ray Disc packaging from Sony.

We expect pricing details on Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD software to emerge soon, but look for the discs to definitely carry some kind of premium over regular DVD SRPs.

Now then... we've got some last bits of HD format news for you today, and they're MAJOR. First, Warner has officially announced that it will debut an initial slate of some 24 HD-DVD releases, with the first titles arriving in stores on March 28th (meaning you can look for HD-DVD hardware to be available around then as well). Here's the complete initial HD-DVD release slate from Warner, along with their announced street dates:

3/28 - Batman Begins, Constantine, Million Dollar Baby, Phantom of the Opera, Twister

4/11 - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, The Last Samurai, Lethal Weapon, Training Day, Unforgiven

4/25 - Goodfellas, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, The Matrix, Swordfish, Syriana (day and date with regular DVD)

5/9 - Blazing Saddles, Dukes of Hazzard, Full Metal Jacket, Rumor Has It (day and date), Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

5/16 - Charlie & Chocolate Factory, The Green Mile: Special Edition, Ocean's Twelve, Troy

Warner has also announced that additional titles they expect to release in 2006 will include Superman Returns and Poseidon (both day and date with standard DVD), as well as TV titles, additional catalog films and more new releases throughout the year.

As part of this announcement, HBO confirmed that The Sopranos and Deadwood are among the TV offerings they expect to debut on HD-DVD later in 2006.

Also, Universal has announced that their initial March '06 slate will include 10 HD-DVD titles, among them The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Jarhead, Doom, Cinderella Man, Apollo 13, Serenity, The Chronicles of Riddick, U-571, Van Helsing and The Bourne Supremacy. The exact street dates are still TBA.

We expect that New Line will make an HD-DVD release announcement in the next few days as well. If they do, we'll post all the details as soon as we get back.

Okay, that's it for today. As I said, if I have the opportunity to make a post from the CES show floor, I'll drop in on Friday with that. Otherwise, check back Saturday night or Sunday morning for our complete CES report, with lots of pictures and more.

Stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 1/4/06 - 2 PM PST)

We've gotten additional information from Sony on their initial line-up of Blu-ray Disc titles. Here are the relevant paragraphs on the first titles due to be available in stores this Spring "in conjunction with hardware manufacturers' delivery of the first Blu-ray Disc products at retail" from the studio's press release:

"The first slate of BD titles encompasses a diverse mix of genres including The Fifth Element, in multichannel uncompressed audio Bram Stoker's Dracula, Desperado, For a Few Dollars More, The Guns of Navarone, Hitch, House of Flying Daggers, A Knight's Tale, Kung Fu Hustle, The Last Waltz, Legends of the Fall, Resident Evil Apocalypse, Robocop, Sense and Sensibility, Stealth, Species, SWAT and XXX. Black Hawk Down and The Bridge on the River Kwai will also be available on 50 GB, dual-layer Blu-ray Discs Summer 2006."

"In addition to 1920x1080p HD master quality, consumers will benefit from Blu-ray Disc's immense improvements over current DVD technology including enhanced menu navigation, increased added-value and new interactive capabilities."

"Commencing Summer 2006, SPHE will begin adding bonus BD Java games, and other anticipated features, to new release titles including Underworld Evolution that will street day-and-date with DVD. The studio announced it will also deliver four catalog titles per month beginning this Summer, accelerating to 10 titles per month by the fourth quarter 2006. Also being readied for Summer release is the complete television series of sci-fi favorite, Stargate Atlantis, in high-definition."

By the way, we have additional information for you today on the expected street dates for some major upcoming REGULAR DVD releases. You'll find that in The Rumor Mill now. Think Harry Potter, Good Night and Good Luck, etc.

We expect the HD-DVD camp to start announcing their initial format launch titles later tonight or early tomorrow. We'll try to get the details posted before we leave for Vegas (if they're available early enough). If not, definitely when we get back we'll have it all for you.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/4/06 - 12:30 PM PST)

Well... we all knew this was coming. BIG HD format news!

On the eve of the opening of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (tomorrow), Toshiba has revealed that it expects to debut the first commercial HD-DVD players here in the States in March. Two models will be available, the HD-XA1 (expected retail price $799) and the HD-A1 ($499). No kidding - the first generation of HD-DVD players will be priced at WELL under $1,000. You can check our Toshiba's official HD-DVD website here (not much there yet, but stay tuned).

Meanwhile, Sony has yet to make its own official launch announcement (as of Noon Pacific on 1/4), but we're hearing that its first Blu-ray Disc players may be available "as early as March." Samsung has announced their first Blu-ray Disc player for "early spring": the BD-P1000 (SRP $1,000). You can see photos of many prototype 1st generation Blu-ray Disc players here.

On the software front, a number of the Hollywood movie studios have begun announcing initial slates of titles they expect to have ready for release on each format. More than 70 Blu-ray Disc titles are expected initially, with hundreds more planned for release by the end of the year. HD-DVD titles are expected to be announced later today and this week. Here's what we know as of this moment:

Blu-ray Disc

20th Century Fox - 20 titles are expected to be ready for format launch, including Fantastic Four, Behind Enemy Lines, Kiss of the Dragon, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Ice Age and some 15 others. Fox also is preparing "two sci-fi titles to be announced later" for release on 50GB dual-layer discs (I'll bet one of the Alien films, and maybe ID4). Fox is exclusively supporting Blu-ray Disc.

Sony (MGM) - 20+ titles are expected for launch including xXx, Hitch, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, The Fifth Element, Legends of the Fall, House of Flying Daggers, The Fifth Element, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Desperado, For a Few Dollars More, The Guns of Navarone, A Knight's Tale, Kung Fu Hustle, The Last Waltz, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Robocop, Sense and Sensibility, Stealth, Species and SWAT. All will be 25GB single-layer releases. Black Hawk Down and The Bridge on the River Kwai will be available later in the year (by summer) as 50GB dual-layer releases. It's also been revealed that Underworld Evolution will be released day-and-date with regular DVD later in 2006. Sony is exclusively supporting Blu-ray Disc.

Paramount - Revealed that it will release the same titles on BOTH HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc in 2006. 10 titles are expected for launch under the "Paramount High Definition" banner, including Sahara, Aeon Flux, The Italian Job, Four Brothers, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, U2: Rattle and Hum, Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow, We Were Soldiers and The Manchurian Candidate. It's also been revealed that Mission: Impossible, Mission: Impossible 2 and Mission: Impossible 3 will all be released by the end of the year. You can bet Star Trek titles are on deck for 2006 as well.

Buena Vista/Disney - No specific announcements made yet. Buena Vista/Disney is exclusively supporting Blu-ray Disc.

Warner Bros. - No specific announcements made yet. Warner Bros has announced plans to support both HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc, but may favor HD-DVD at least initially.

New Line - No specific announcements made yet. New Line is likely to support both HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc, but may favor HD-DVD at least initially.

HBO - No specific announcements made yet. HBO is likely to support both HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc, but may favor HD-DVD at least initially.

Lionsgate - 10 titles are expected for launch including Lord of War, The Punisher, The Devil's Rejects, Saw, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Reservoir Dogs, Total Recall, Frank Herbert's Dune and Rambo: First Blood. See No Evil will be the studio's first day-and-date title later in 2006. Lionsgate is exclusively supporting Blu-ray Disc.

HD-DVD

Warner Bros. - Titles are expected to be announced late Wednesday, but should include Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Batman Begins and Friends. Warner is likely to support Blu-ray Disc as well with at least some titles.

New Line - Announcements expected soon, but MAY include The Lord of the Rings (all three films) and Se7en. New Line is likely to support Blu-ray Disc as well with at least some titles.

Paramount - Revealed that it will release the same titles on BOTH HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc in 2006. 10 titles are expected for launch under the "Paramount High Definition" banner, including Sahara, Aeon Flux, The Italian Job, Four Brothers, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, U2: Rattle and Hum, Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow, We Were Soldiers and The Manchurian Candidate. It's also been revealed that Mission: Impossible, Mission: Impossible 2 and Mission: Impossible 3 will all be released by the end of the year. You can bet Star Trek titles are on deck for 2006 as well.

HBO - Band of Brothers and From the Earth to the Moon are among the titles expected. HBO is likely to support Blu-ray Disc as well with at least some titles.

Universal - Peter Jackson's King Kong is almost certain to be among the initial offerings. Look for The Bourne Supremacy and several others to be announced as well. Universal has not announced plans to support Blu-ray Disc.

As you can see, these lists are still very incomplete, as announcements are still being made and the news is pouring in. I'll be leaving for CES tonight, and will be there both tomorrow and Friday, so when I get back I'll bring you all the final announced details, along with lots of photographs of hardware, etc. In the meantime, you can read more here (via Yahoo and The Hollywood Reporter), here (via DVD Exclusive) and here (via InternetNews).

Obviously, since I'll be at CES tomorrow and Friday, odds are The Bits will be dark (although I MIGHT try to make a remote update from the show floor if the opportunity permits - it's unlikely given how busy I'll be, but you never know). However, as soon as I get back from the show, I'll work diligently to get our coverage posted ASAP, along with my thoughts on what I've seen. So DEFINITELY watch this space.

Stay tuned...

1/3/06

We're back! Welcome to a whole new year, Bits-ers! 2006 is certainly shaping up to be... well, let's say interesting shall we?

We hope you all enjoyed the holidays as much as we did. Sarah and I got the chance to spend some time with family and ate way too much good food. Matt and his wife went on a cruise with their family. Jahnke watched a ton of movies, as usual. And Todd... well, poor Todd had the almost bird-flu for the holidays. That boy always seems to get a lump of coal in his stocking, man. What can you do?

Anyway, we've got some DVD release news to catch you all up on, so let's get to it.

First of all, Disney has announced the DVD release of a 6-hour mini-series adaptation of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie on 3/28 (SRP $29.99).

Buena Vista has also announced more Roger Corman action classics for release on 2/7, including Rage and Discipline, Black Scorpion, Second to Die, When Eagles Strike and Hot Parts. And coming on 2/7 from the Corman library are the family classics Revenge of the Red Baron, Andy Colby's Incredibly Awesome Adventure!, A Very Unlucky Leprechaun, The Crazysitter, Hope Ranch and No Dessert Dad, 'Til You Mow the Lawn!. All will carry a $6.99 SRP except Rage and Discipline, which will set you back just $14.99.

We also have more details today on Buena Vista's forthcoming Studio Ghibli DVDs, due on 3/7 (SRP $29.99 each). Howl's Moving Castle will feature Behind the Mircophone (with voice talent from the film), an interview with English-language voice director Pete Doctor, complete storyboards, original Japanese and English theatrical trailers and the Hello Mr. Lasseter featurette. My Neighbor Totoro will include Behind the Mircophone (with Dakota Fanning and Elle Fanning), complete storyboards, the original Japanese theatrical trailer and the film's opening and closing animation without credits. Finally, Whisper of the Heart will include Behind the Mircophone (with Brittany Snow, Courtney Thorne-Smith, David Gallagher and Cary Elwes), complete storyboards and the original Japanese theatrical trailer. All three will be released in anamorphic widescreen video, with Japanese, English and French audio (in Dolby Digital 5.1 for Howl's and Whisper, and 2.0 for Totoro).

In other news, Universal has announced the DVD release of Pride & Prejudice for 2/28. Karol: A Man Who Became Pope follows on 3/28. Also coming from the studio on 3/7 is The Spike Lee Joint Collection (SRP $26.98), which will include Clockers, Crooklyn, Do the Right Thing, Jungle Fever and Mo' Better Blues, all in anamorphic widescreen video.

Meanwhile, Warner has added the Cartoon Network's Robot Chicken: Season One to its 3/28 release slate.

Sony (MGM) has announced the 3/14 DVD release of the critically-acclaimed Capote, along with The Cutter, Chasing Ghosts, The Squid and the Whale: Special Edition, The Passenger, A Fish Called Wanda: Deluxe Edition (2-discs) and a 2-pack of Capote and Pollock. Also set for release on that day are a number of new TV titles, including All Dogs Go to Heaven: Dogs Undercover, All Dogs Go to Heaven: Friends to the Rescue, Grosse Pointe: The Complete Series, I Dream of Jeannie: The Complete First Season (available separately in the original B&W as well as colorized editions), She Spies: The Complete First Season and V.I.P.: The Complete First Season. On 3/7, look for The Tenants, The Warrior, Police Woman: The Complete First Season, Walking Tall: The Entire Series and the 2-disc Buster Keaton: 65th Anniversary Collection. And on the UMD front, look for Boyz 'N the Hood and Osamu Tezuka's Metropolis on 3/7, with Agent Cody Banks following on 3/14.

Paramount has announced a Stalag 17: Special Collector's Edition for release on 3/21. The studio has also set The Ten Commandments: 50th Anniversary Special Collector's Edition for release that same day, which will include both the 1956 version and the 1923 silent version.

Here's cover art for those two titles, along with Sony's Zarthura (2/14) and the 2-disc Buster Keaton: 65th Anniversary Collection (3/7), as well as New Line's A History of Violence: Platinum Edition (3/14) and Everything Is Illuminated (3/21)...

Stalag 17: Special Collector's EditionThe Ten Commandments: 50th Anniversary Special Collector's EditionZarthura

Buster Keaton: 65th Anniversary CollectionA History of Violence: Platinum EditionEverything Is Illuminated

Finally today, we've kicked off FIVE new Contests here at The Bits, giving each of you the chance to take home copies of Echo Bridge's Supernova and Jules Verne's Mysterious Island, Fox's Alien Nation: The Complete Series, Cloud 9 and The Five Heartbeats, along with 5 great Fox UMD titles, Universal's SeaQuest DSV: Season One and American Pie Presents Band Camp (Unrated), and finally 7 more great anime titles from Geneon. All of these contests will run until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, January 15th. Click on the links to get started and good luck!

That's all for now. As you may know, we're gearing up to cover all the HD-DVD/Blu-ray Disc news at this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas later this week, so we'll be posting some pre-show musings on that score tomorrow. Meanwhile, welcome back again, Happy New Year and our best to you as you all ease yourselves back into the regular 9-5 grind. Not easy is it? ;-)

Stay tuned!

12/23/05

We're pulling out all the stops for you guys today, as this is likely going to be our last update for 2005.

In honor of the occasion, our own Adam Jahnke has turned in a new edition of The Bottom Shelf, featuring reviews of a trio of recent TV DVD titles, including 20th Century Fox's The X-Files: Black Oil - Four-Disc Mythology Collection and Futurama: Monster Robot Maniac Fun Collection, as well as HBO's Tales from the Crypt: The Complete First Season.

Adam doesn't stop there. Wanna know what he thinks of Brokeback Mountain, King Kong and Memoirs of a Geisha? Then be sure to check out his latest edition of Jahnke's Electric Theatre, featuring his take on those films and more. Adam even tosses in his thoughts on an oft-overlooked holiday classic... Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas! How's that for covering all the bases?

In the event that STILL isn't enough Jahnke for you, we've posted the last four archive editions of Jahnke's Electric Theatre as well, so now the entire sordid history of The Electric Theatre is now available online here at The Bits.

And heck... whilst we're talkin' Jahnke, I might as well take a moment to shine the first light of day on Adam's latest literary collaboration with our old pal Lloyd Kaufman... The Toxic Avenger: The Novel! It's 304 pages of toxic, Troma-tic fun... and in English too, so you can die with a smile on your face without feelin' like the good Lord gypped ya. The book doesn't hit stores until May 2006 (wow... just like a Star Wars movie!), but you can pre-order that bad boy right now at Amazon. Sweeeeeeet.

Oh... we're not done yet (Adam is, but the rest of us aren't). As it happens, our very own Robert A. Harris has also checked in this morning with the last edition of his Yellow Layer Failure, Vinegar Syndrome and Miscellaneous Musings column for the year. In this installment, Robert runs down his list of the best classic film DVD releases of 2005, and gives the nod to a few well-deserving soldiers fighting tirelessly on the film preservation front.

Don't forget to check out Barrie Maxwell's massive new Classic Coming Attractions column, which we posted late yesterday. It comes complete with no less than 54 classic film DVD reviews and a rundown of the latest classic release announcements as well, plus a friendly holiday theme. Can't beat that.

Matt Rowe's also posted his last new column of the year over at our MusicTAP affiliate. Matt's compiling your suggestions for the best music releases of 2005, so be sure to stop on by and send in your thoughts.

There's one quick bit of DVD release news to report this morning. Shout! Factory has announced the 2/7 release of a 4-disc The Best of The Electric Company box set (SRP $49.98). Very cool, but I'm hoping for Zoom... and maybe some vintage, complete-season sets of Sesame Street episodes. Yeah, I know that's a long shot, but don't even TRY to tell me some of you guys out there wouldn't dig that.

Elsewhere around The Bits today, we've updated all of the DVD hardware and software stats we track (above), including the CEA DVD Player Sales numbers through the first week of December (ending 12/2). And surprise... we've hit a MAJOR milestone for the DVD format! As of the end of November, more than 100 million DVD players have now shipped into retail here in the States since the debut of the format in March of 1997. The exact number as of 12/2 is 100,680,344 players. Pretty amazing isn't it? And here we still remember when studio execs used to insist to us that DVD would never be more than a niche format. That's one BIG niche!

Also today, we've updated the UMD Movies for PSP Release List to include a number of major new title announcements and recently released titles. There are nearly 40 new titles added in all, including Alien, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, The Goonies, Jarhead, Zathura, Hustle and Flow, Evil Dead II and more.

Our authorized mirror copy of Jim Taylor's fine (and indispensable) Official DVD FAQ has been updated as well this morning, to its most recent version (dated 12/6).

And it seems to me I promised y'all a Bits holiday card, didn't I? M'kay... here you go. Enjoy. ;-)

Now then... Todd Doogan and I will be back on January 3rd with the first of several new columns and TONS of new DVD reviews (rest assured, I'll check in sooner if there's any major breaking news to report). Russell's also working on another update of our Upcoming DVD Cover Art section to kick the New Year off right. We're also gearing up for our coverage of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Vegas in early January, where we expect to get our first really good look at HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc, and maybe even find out when we can expect these high-definition formats to finally arrive in stores.

So with that, let me just say that it's been a real pleasure serving as your guide/host/advisor/confessor on all things DVD-related this past year. 2005 has been... well, let's just say interesting. Not sure if I'd want to relive it, but 2006 is looking bright. Thanks for reading, thanks for your patience, thanks for your e-mails and feedback, and for your all-around, sub-ethereal kinship. Ain't the Net a hoot?

From all of us here at The Digital Bits... Bill, Todd, Sarah, Adam, Barrie, Matt, Robert, Russell, Jeff, Greg, Adam (the other one!), Peter and all the rest... we wish you all the very best for the holiday season. We hope you get to spend some well-earned quality time with your family and friends, eat some good food, have plenty-o yer favorite brand of fun... and that you get to watch lots of great movies!

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and we'll see you all in 2006! Peace out.

(LATE UPDATE - 12/22/05 - 7 PM PST)

You want some new DVD reviews? Okay... how about 54 of them? That's right... in his latest Classic Coming Attractions, our own Barrie Maxwell reviews 54 new and recent classic film releases on DVD, including Warner's A Christmas Carol, Boys Town/Men of Boys Town, Christmas in Connecticut, The Wizard of Oz: Three-Disc Collector's Edition and Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume Three, Questar's A Bing Crosby Christmas and The Best of Andy Williams Christmas Shows, 20th Century Fox's The Dark Corner, Kiss of Death, Where the Sidewalk Ends, The Sound of Music: 40th Anniversary Edition, Orchestra Wives, The Rains Came, Two for the Road, Baby Take a Bow, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Bright Eyes, Oklahoma!: 50th Anniversary Edition, State Fair: 60th Anniversary Edition, The Mark of Zorro: Special Edition and Lifeboat: Special Edition, Paramount's Seven Men from Now: Special Collector's Edition, Warning Shot, The War of the Worlds (1953): Special Collector's Edition and Lady Sings the Blues: Special Collector's Edition, MGM's The Magnificent Seven: The Complete First Season, A Bridge Too Far: Collector's Edition, Battle of Britain: Collector's Edition, Fox in a Box, Belle of the Yukon, Kid Galahad and 21 Hours at Munich, Image's Unseen Cinema: Early American Avant-Garde Film (1894-1941), Guns and Guitars, The Singing Cowboy and Tales of Tomorrow: Collection Two, A&E's Unknown Chaplin, MPI's The Doris Day Show; Season 1, New Line's Wanted: Dead or Alive - Season One, Questar's Extreme Steam box set, Rhino's The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, Sony's The Spiral Staircase, The Fugitive Kind, Burn!, The Missouri Breaks, The Sabata Trilogy, Arizona, Ride Beyond Vengeance and Land Raiders, Universal's Leave It to Beaver: The Complete First Season and Bedtime for Bonzo, and VCI's Captain Video, Master of the Stratosphere, The Moon and Sixpence and Stronghold. Whew! As usual, Barrie also runs down the latest classic release announcements. There's definitely something in there for everyone, so be sure to check it out!

Right then. We'll be back tomorrow with new year-end columns by Adam Jahnke and Robert Harris to round out our final post for 2005. We'll also leave you tomorrow with our annual Digital Bits Holiday Card, just 'cause we love ya.

See you then!

(EARLY UPDATE - 12/22/05 - 1 PM PST)

Yeah... we know. We'd expected to get Barrie's column up by now too. Turns out it's a BIG column, so we're working feverishly to get it all formatted for you. It WILL be up later today. We've also got some other good stuff to post before we sign off for the holiday tomorrow as well, so be sure to watch for that.

In the meantime, we've got a couple of bits of Universal-related news. First, a follow up on that problem with the Canadian release of The Island missing its English Dolby Digital 5.1 track. Here's the message that Canadian customers have been receiving via e-mail upon registering their complaints about the disc with the studio:

"Thank you very much for your email. We are aware of the current issue with The Island DVD, and are offering replacements. If you wish to receive a replacement please provide your full name and mailing address and a prepaid envelope will be sent to you ASAP. Please use this prepaid envelope to return only the disc (not packaging). Replacement discs are scheduled to be available in late February/March 2006, at which time we will be send you your replacement copy. However, if discs are available sooner we will be sure to advise you. We appreciate your patronage and hope that you will continue to enjoy this and other Universal releases.

Kindest regards, Customer Service
Universal Studios/Alliance Atlantis Video"

You Canadian readers can use this customer service e-mail address to contact the studio and arrange your exchange: universalcanadahomevideo@nbcuni.com

Thanks to Bits reader Nick L. and everyone else who sent this in.

Also today, a lot of you have been asking whether Universal will eventually release Battlestar Galactica: Season 2.0 and the eventual Battlestar Galactica: Season 2.5 (due early in 2006) in a single box set. The answer is we don't know, but I wouldn't be surprised to see at least a shrink-wrapped 2-pack of both individual sets at some point.

By the way, the release of Battlestar Galactica: Season 2.0 has been delayed in Canada, because it hasn't yet had its first run broadcast on The Space Channel (it starts airing there on 1/14/06). Thanks to Bits reader John H. for that. Presumably the DVD will be released in Canada early next year. By the way, Netflix apparently doesn't have it yet either (no idea why that is). We'll post if we hear anything more.

Okay... we'll leave you this morning with a look at the cover art for Disney's Howl's Moving Castle (street date 3/7), along with Bambi II (2/7) and 20th Century Fox's In Her Shoes (1/31)...

Howl's Moving CastleBambi IIIn Her Shoes

Back this afternoon, so stay tuned...

12/21/05

We've got some new DVD announcements for you today, but first a bit of news about an upcoming title for next summer. Variety recently revealed that Superman Returns director Bryan Singer has tapped documentary filmmaker Kevin Burns (whose previous work includes Cleopatra: The Film That Changed Hollywood and the recent Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy) to craft a feature-length documentary on the history and legacy of Superman. Look Up in the Sky: The Amazing Story of Superman will premiere next year, either as part of the eventual Superman Returns DVD or on a separate release all its own. Burns has reportedly completed over 40 on-camera interviews for the project, and expects to deliver the finished doc in April. The original Variety report is subscription only, but you can read a Sci-Fi Wire story here.

Okay... back to those announcements. First up, Sony has set Rent for release on 2/21.

I believe we've mentioned this one before, but Universal has set The Ice Harvest for 2/28. Here's a few new ones for you: Jarhead and Brokeback Mountain are both on the way for a 3/7 release, with Pride & Prejudice set to follow on 3/14.

DreamWorks' Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story is due on 3/7, while The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio will follow on 3/14 (both distributed by Universal).

Still not done with 3/14... Lionsgate will release In the Mix on that day as well.

On the Warner TV front, the studio has set Growing Pains: The Complete First Season for release on 2/7. 6-episode "best of" compilations of Welcome Back Kotter, The Drew Carey Show and Night Court are set for 2/28.

Warner's got more classic films on the way as well. On 4/4, the studio will release The Nun's Story, The Shoes of the Fisherman and The Miracle of Our Lady Fatima.

Warner (in conjunction with Turner Classic Movies) is also working to release more classic comedy titles. On 4/18, you'll get TCM Archives: The Laurel and Hardy Collection, which will include two fully-restored films, The Devil's Brother and Bonnie Scotland, along with the TCM feature-length documentary Added Attractions: The Hollywood Shorts Story, narrated by Chevy Chase. The set will also include the only known surviving footage from The Rogue Song. Nice.

Speaking of classics, we'll be back with Barrie Maxwell's latest Classic Coming Attractions column later this afternoon. Stay tuned!

12/20/05

A funny thing happened on the way to today's post. I set out last night to finish my review of Universal's Battlestar Galactica: Season 2.0, which arrives in stores today. About 9 PM I started going through the discs to watch all the deleted scenes, and to grade the video and audio quality of the episodes. One thing led to another... and I ended up watching the ENTIRE set, all ten episodes, back to back. What can I say? It's an occupational hazard. I love this show, and after rewatching the first episode of this set, I was hooked and just couldn't stop. I finally got to sleep about 5 AM... and I STILL had yet to finish my review when I woke up. Thankfully, I have at last finished it (you'll find it at the link above). Hope you enjoy it!

Also today, our own Russell Hammond has updated his DVD Fanboy website with details on some new retailer-exclusive bonus discs that are available in stores today. One of them is pretty great - the complete "East Coast" version of the E.R. live episode Ambush, which is only available at Target stores with the complete fourth season set.

We've got a big new column from Barrie Maxwell on the way, so be sure to check back tomorrow for that. Stay tuned!

12/19/05

We've got a little bit of interesting news to report this morning. It seems that HP, previously an exclusive backer of Sony's Blu-ray Disc format, has decided to back Toshiba's HD-DVD format as well. The move comes after the Blu-ray camp denied HP's request to add to the Blu-ray Disc format two technologies - Mandatory Managed Copy and iHD - both of which are advantageous for PC users and are already part of the HD-DVD spec. You can read more on this here at InfoWorld.

Also today, there's word that Toshiba has announced a delay in the rollout of the first HD-DVD players in Japan due to the fact that the final copy protection details for the format still have yet to be fully worked out. HD-DVD hardware had been expected to roll out in Japan before the end of 2005, but the launch is now delayed indefinitely (a similar delay was announced here in the States earlier this year). The official HD-DVD launch in both countries is now tentatively set for "early 2006". You can read more about this AP story here at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

We have one bit of DVD release this morning. This would normally go in The Rumor Mill, so treat it as such. But it seems that Ren & Stimpy: The Lost Episodes (also known as Adult Party Cartoon) has been delayed by Paramount until March (although to be fair, an actual street date had never been officially announced, despite the fact that the title has been in the works for months now). Also on the way, it seems, is an Ultimate Ren & Stimpy box set that will include "every cartoon ever" and "extras galore." You can read more (and view tentative cover art designed by series creator John Kricfalusi) at Ren & Stimpy Online (scroll down a bit) and TVShowsonDVD.com.

Around the site this morning, we've kicked off FIVE new Contests, giving each of you the chance to take home copies of Universal's Battlestar Galactica: Season 2.0 and Serenity, Paramount's Jackass: The Box Set, Fox's Rebound and Reba: The Complete Second Season, Shout! Factory's World Series 05, a prize package for you dog owners from Purina and DogShowUSA.com featuring a pair of SNL titles and tons of dog-related items, six more great anime titles from Geneon, PLUS the massive Warner contest is sill going as well. All of these contests run until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, January 1st. Click on the links to get started and good luck!

Also this morning, I wanted to take a moment to call your attention to our Artist of the Month for December: James Storie. James is an outstanding photographer, as you can see by some of the work on display on his artist page here at The Bits. He takes traditional photography a step further by fragmenting his images subtly and then rebuilding them. The resulting effect is fascinating. Be sure to visit his own website to check out his work when you have a moment.

We'll leave you this morning with a little bit of new cover art. Here's Sony's Mirrormask (2/7) and MGM's 2-disc The Magnificent Seven: Collector's Edition (1/10) and The Pink Panther Classic Cartoon Collection (1/31), both distributed by Sony...

MirrormaskThe Magnificent Seven: SEThe Pink Panther: Classic Cartoon Collection

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 12/16/05 - 11 PM PST)

This is an unusual time to make a post, late at night on a Friday, but I have a couple pieces of information that needed checking in for at this later hour.

The first has to do with Universal's Battlestar Galactica: Season 2.0, which is set to be released on Tuesday (watch for our review on Monday). Way back when the title was first announced, we had originally noted that the mid-season finale episode, Pegasus, was going to be included in a longer version than was broadcast on SciFi (by some 15 minutes). This had been confirmed by series creator Ron Moore in his podcast commentary for the episode. On the actual DVD release however, the episode is the regular 42-minute broadcast version, and the podcast commentary for the episode has not been included. We've learned that the longer version of the episode could not be readied in time to be included on the Season 2.0 release... however the good news is that the extended version of Pegasus WILL be included (along with Moore's commentary) on the Season 2.5 DVD set which will be released by Universal early next year (after the remainder of the season finishes its run on SciFi). Definitely good to know. Special thanks to Dave Lambert over at TVShowsonDVD.com for that.

The other late news today is unfortunately quite sad. It seems that actor John Spencer, who played White House Chief of Staff Leo McGarry on NBC's The West Wing, died this morning of a heart attack. He was only 58. Spencer's character has been a major factor this season on the series, as a VP running mate for presidential contender Matt Santos (played by Jimmy Smits). Spencer also appeared on TV's L.A. Law, and in such films as War Games, The Rock and The Negotiator. We'll certainly miss him. Those interested can read more here at CNN.

It's a bummer to end the week on that note, but such is life I suppose. See you Monday...

(EARLY UPDATE - 12/16/05 - 12:30 PM PST)

Well... it's about time. Seriously, after all the false starts and rumors, it pleases me to no end to be able to say what I'm about to say. Yes... Paramount has now officially confirmed to us that they are working to release Star Trek: The Animated Series on DVD in 2006. No additional details are available at this time, other than what we've already posted in The Rumor Mill this week, which is basically that the release date is likely to be in the second half of the year to coincide with the franchise's anniversary. Still, given how long fans have been waiting for this series to reach DVD, I think it's darned good news, and now it's official too. We'll keep our eye on this title and let you know when there's more to report.

Around the Net, the Musicland Group has announced that it's closing all 61 of its Media Play stores around the country. Word is, the chain hasn't made a profit in a long time due to stiff competition in the retail arena (and I'm guessing online as well). The company will re-focus its efforts on its Suncoast and Sam Goody chains instead.

Also, a group of hardware manufacturers and content providers has banded together to form the High-Definition Audio-Video Network Alliance, with the goal of "developing technical standards for the secure networking of high-definition programming throughout the home". A little cooperation in the spirit of the holiday season. Isn't that a nice change of pace? You can read more here.

Oh yeah... Lions Gate Entertainment is changing its name. To what you may be asking? Lionsgate. No space and no "Entertainment." Nothing earth shattering there, I know, but hey... we'll roll with it. Hey Lionsgate... when are you finally gonna release the rest of those Speed Racer DVDs you owe us, huh?

Okay, barring any major news, that's it for now. Have a great weekend, everyone!

(LATE UPDATE - 12/15/05 - 3:30 PM PST)

We've got some more new DVD release announcements for you today. First up, DreamWorks has set Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit for release on 2/7 in separate full frame and anamorphic widescreen versions (SRP $29.99), each with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include a number of behind-the-scenes featurettes.

Meanwhile, 20th Century Fox has fleshed out more of their March '06 lineup. Look for Fallen Angel, The House on Telegraph Hill, No Way Out and The White Shadow: Season 2 on 3/7. On 3/14, you'll see an Anastasia: Family Fun Edition, David and Bathsheba, Five Weeks in a Balloon, an Ice Age: Super Cool Edition (plus a PSP release of the film as well), Love's Long Journey, Rusty: The Great Rescue, Story of Ruth, The Thief Lord and The Simple Life: Season 3 - Interns. Following on 3/21 are Over There: Season 1 (4-discs, 16x9 with DD 5.1 audio, including commentary on several episodes by creator Steven Bochco, the show's writers and producers and the entire cast) and the Shirley Temple Collection: Volume 3 (including Dimples, The Little Colonel and The Littlest Rebel, each also available separately). Finally, The Roach Approach: Slingshot Slugger! will street on 3/28. All that's in addition to the Planet of the Apes feature film reissues we mentioned the other day.

Sony has finally announced (for MGM) the release of the 2-disc Midnight Cowboy: Collector's Edition. It's due on 2/21.

Also, Warner has announced (for the BBC) Michael Palin: Sahara for release on 4/18.

By the way, for those of you who enjoyed our recent interview with writer/director John Harrison about Effects, you might enjoy checking out Painkiller Jane on the SciFi Channel. It debuted last Saturday and will be on again this evening (9 PM Eastern/Pacific). John co-write the script for the comic adapation and is an executive producer as well. It might turn into a SciFi Original Series, so do check it out.

Here's a look at a little cover art: Wallace & Gromit, Midnight Cowboy, Warner's Up the Academy (2/14), Criterion's 3 Films by Louis Malle box set (March), and Disney's long-awaited My Neighbor Totoro and Whisper of the Heart (both due on 3/7)...

Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-RabbitMidnight Cowboy: Collector's EditionUp the Academy

3 Films by Louis MalleMy Neighbor TotoroWhisper of the Heart

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 12/15/05 - 1 PM PST)

Thanks to all those of you who have sent in e-mails regarding my review of Peter Jackson's King Kong yesterday. It seems as if many of you agree with me, but even those who don't have sent nice comments, so thank you.

We'll be back later this afternoon with more, but I wanted to check in early with a quick update of The Rumor Mill that I think Trek fans are going to appreciate. It's a follow up on that report I posted earlier this month regarding the long-awaited DVD release of The Animated Series. Do check it out.

Grab yerself a couple oat sodas... or a good sarsaparilla (Sioux City's a good'un)... and stay tuned...


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