Click here to learn more about anamorphic widescreen!
Go to the Home Page
Go to The Rumor Mill
Go to The Digital Forum
Go to Todd Doogan's weekly column
Go to the Reviews Page
Go to the Trivia Contest Page
Go to the Upcoming DVD Artwork Page
Go to the DVD FAQ & Article Archives
Go to our DVD Links Section
Go to the Home Theater Forum for great DVD discussion
Find out how to advertise on The Digital Bits
Matt Rowe's MusicTAP
Russell Hammond's DVD Fanboy

-Newsletter est. 4/15/97-
-Website est. 12/15/97-





page updated: 2/6/06



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 1/30/06 - 1/13/06)


Back to Previous Archives

Back to Current Posts

1/30/06

We've got a few new DVD announcements to report this morning. First up, Paramount has revealed that they'll debut a Mission: Impossible 10th Anniversary Special Collector's Edition on 4/11. It'll be a single-disc set, but there's no word yet on the extras.

The studio also has a new 4-disc Star Trek: Fan Collective - Time Travel on the way for 4/4, featuring select time travel episodes from The Original Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager.

They have a Sliver: Unrated Edition due on 3/28 as well (although the unrated version will only be available in the U.S. - Canadian viewers will get the R-rated version).

Meanwhile, New Line has announced the release of a Wedding Singer: Totally Awesome Edition on 4/25 (SRP $19.97). The disc will include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital & DTS 5.1 audio, 5 minutes of never-before-seen footage, The Wedding Singer featurette (on the new Broadway musical), the "80s Mix Tape" song-select option, and the film's theatrical trailer.

Warner has set the 6-disc Life Goes On: The Complete First Season for release on 5/9 (SRP $39.98).

Finally, there's also a 7-film Tennessee Williams Film Collection due from Warner on 5/2 (SRP $68.92), including a new 2-disc A Streetcar Named Desire: Special Edition, a Cat on a Hot Tin Roof: Deluxe Edition, Sweet Bird of Youth, Night of the Iguana, Baby Doll, Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone and a bonus disc containing Tennessee William's South. Look for lots of extras including unseen footage, documentaries and more.

Now then... if you're in the Hollywood area tonight, I'm going to be participating in a panel discussion at the Creative Artists Agency (CAA). Sponsored by the Northwestern University Entertainment Alliance and hosted by producer David Zucker (Num3ers), the event is called Film & TV & DVD: The Next Generation. Here's the description:

"Have we reached the tipping point? Is the ritual of movie-going drawing to a close as the speed in which new DVD titles reach store shelves increases? Has the filmmaker's craft been diminished or enhanced by ‘extras’ and ‘uncensored cuts’? And as the size of televisions grow and the era of downloads and on-demand explode, where will these trends ultimately deliver us? Hollywood Armageddon or a New Genesis?"

Among those scheduled to be on the panel in addition to yours truly (Bill Hunt - Editor, The Digital Bits) are DVD producer Charles de Lauzirika (Spider-Man 2, Alien Quadrilogy) and studio executives Mike Mulvihill (of New Line) and Michael Stradford (Sony). The event will run from 8 to 10 PM, and is expected to include time for Q&A. It should be a lot of fun, so maybe we'll see you there.

Also today, I'm headed up to a special presentation on the Warner Bros lot this afternoon, during which the studio is due to unveil the complete slate of new and catalog titles they're working on for DVD release in 2006. It should be very interesting, and of course we'll give you the complete skinny here at The Bits tomorrow morning.

In the meantime, here's some new DVD cover artwork for Paramount's Mission: Impossible 10th Anniversary Special Collector's Edition, Star Trek: Fan Collective - Time Travel and Sliver: Unrated Edition, Warner's A Streetcar Named Desire: Special Edition, Tennessee Williams Film Collection and Samurai Jack: Season Three (5/23)...

Mission: Impossible 10th Anniversary Special Collector's EditionStar Trek: Fan Collective - Time TravelSliver: Unrated Edition

A Streetcar Named Desire: Special EditionTennessee Williams Film CollectionSamurai Jack: Season Three

By the way, Matt and I caught George Clooney's Good Night, and Good Luck this weekend, and I highly recommend it. It's a very good piece of work. It hits DVD on 3/14.

And for those who care about such things, Crash (another great film already available on DVD) took the award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture at last night's Screen Actors Guild Awards. Click here for more.

See you back here tomorrow for all the Warner DVD news. Stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 1/27/06 - 1 PM PST)

Just a quick update for you on the status the remainder of our CES coverage: This morning I conducted an in-depth, an hour-long interview with Mark Knox (adviser to the HD-DVD promotion division at Toshiba) about HD-DVD, the format launch plans, the format war, etc. And yes... I DID ask him about the analog-out/down-rez issue. I expect to have that posted early next week, along with my show report. ;-)

Have a great weekend and we'll see you Monday!

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/27/06 - 11 AM PST)

Yes... looks like it's true. We've known for a while now that Warner Home Video was working on new DVD special editions of the Superman films to tie in with the release of Bryan Singer's Superman Returns later this year (in theaters 6/30), but now we have the first actual confirmation... from Ilya Salkind, who co-produced the first three Superman films! Salkind has acknowledged that he's working with Warner on the new DVDs, and that all of the films in the series are being restored and given deluxe new special edition treatment, a-la last year's Batman Anthology collection. By far the best news in all this, is that it seems that Warner is FINALLY allowing Richard Donner to create his original director's cut of Superman II! How damn cool is that?! As many of you know, Donner directed Superman: The Movie and most of Superman II back to back, but was eventually fired from the sequel. Director Richard Lester was hired to replace him, and it's Lester's cut of the film that we've seen all these years. What's cool is that Lester's theatrical cut of the film is being given special edition treatment as well, so you'll be able to fully explore BOTH versions of Superman II on DVD this summer. Lester MAY even do an interview for the DVD - something he's been reluctant to do over the years given the controversy. This information comes from Salkind via The Superman Homepage fan site, which expects to publish a full interview with Salkind in the coming weeks. Very cool news indeed (though keep in mind that until Warner announces this set, it's all still unofficial). Thanks to Bits reader Matt K. for the heads-up on this.

Gotta tell you, I am REALLY looking forward to seeing the Man of Steel back in action this summer. Superman Returns is definitely THE movie I'm most anticipating for 2006.

Some confirmed Warner news... the studio will release Samurai Jack: Season 3 on 5/23 (SRP $29.98).

Other DVD release news today... Universal has announced the DVD release of a Fried Green Tomatoes: Anniversary Edition on 6/6 (SRP $19.98). Look for anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, audio commentary with director Jon Avnet, deleted scenes, outtakes, The Moments of Discovery: The Making of Fried Green Tomatoes documentary, the Sipsey's Recipes and Jon Avnet's Director's Notes featurettes, a gallery of production photographs and poster artwork, additional production notes and the film's theatrical trailer.

Buena Vista has set An Unfinished Life and Spymate for release on 4/11. Shadows in the Sun, Everything You Want and Little Einsteins: Team Up for Adventure will follow on 4/25. And the Henson-produced Dinosaurs: The Complete First and Second Seasons will follow on 5/2, along with The Warrior, Ritual and Jean-Pierre Juenet's Delicatessen.

By the way, Disney has finally officially confirmed the DVD release of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe on 4/4 in single and 2-disc versions (SRP $19.99 and $29.99). Both will offer two commentaries with director director Andrew Adamson, one with members of the production crew and one with the film's child actors. They'll also include a "pop-up" trivia track, while the 2-disc set will add a booklet, galleries of concept artwork, filmmaker dairies, production featurettes, an interactive map of Narnia and more.

Paramount has announced The Sentinel: Season One for release on 4/18, along with a Laugh or I'll Shoot Collection (including Airplane, The Naked Gun, The Naked Gun 2½ and Top Secret!) on 4/11. Now if we could just get the complete Police Squad! TV series on disc. There's only like 6 episodes, right?

Finally, Taylor Hackford's Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll is due on 6/27 from Image Entertainment. The film tribute to Chuck Berry will be featured in separate 2-disc and 4-disc sets, priced at $29.99 and $49.99 respectively.

One last thing today... we've got new word on street dates for Stay, Memoirs of a Geisha and The Greatest Game Ever Played in The Rumor Mill. 'Nuff said.

That's all for now. We've got a LOT of work to do to get ready for Monday's post, so be sure to check back then for new DVD reviews and more.

Have a great weekend and we'll see you then!

1/26/06

Any West Wing fans out there? You're probably still stinging from NBC's recent announcement that they're cancelling the series, but here's a little something to take the edge off. Warner has officially announced that The West Wing: The Complete Sixth Season will street on 5/9 (just in time for the series finale later that week). The 6-disc set will include all 22 episodes in anamorphic widescreen video. Extras will include never-before-seen footage, audio commentary with members of the cast and crew on 3 episodes (including King Corn, In God We Trust and 2162 Votes), the C.J.Cregg: From Press Secretary to Chief of Staff featurette and the Easter egg featurette A Conversation with John Spencer (a nice tribute to the late actor).

In other release news, Universal has announced that the Hitchcock classics Frenzy, Rope, Saboteur, Topaz and The Trouble with Harry will each be available in singly on 6/20 (SRP $19.98 each). These are the same remastered versions available currently as part of the studio's Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection box set.

We've also got an update for you this morning, direct from Lionsgate, on Speed Racer: Volume 4 (street date 3/14). The good news is that we now know exactly what's going to be on the disc. The bad news is that it ain't much - 8 episodes only with no extras (other than the collectible Mach V diecast car) for $22.98. Volume 4 will feature episodes 37-44 of the series, including The Terrifying Gambler, The Secret Invaders, Part 1, The Secret Invaders, Part 2, The Man Behind the Mask, The Car Destroyer, The Desperate Racer, The Dangerous Witness and Race the Laser Tank. This means, of course, that we'll have to wait for a future Speed Racer: Volume 5 in order to get the remaining 8 episodes that will complete the series' release on DVD. We've asked the studio when they expect Volume 5 to be available, and if and when they tell us, we'll pass that information on to you.

I suspect we're going to get a TON of e-mails about this. We've already gotten something of an earful from Speed fans in the last couple days, even prior to posting this news. The prolonged wait to get the complete series on DVD has been frustrating for those we've heard from. I'm sure Lionsgate thought they were doing something cool with the diecast car and the custom packaging on previous volumes.. but the reality is, anyone who wants a diecast Mach V can find better and more detailed ones already on the market (as several readers have pointed out to us, the Johnny Lightning car sells for less than $5 on eBay). What fans would RATHER have are some real DVD extras, like interviews with the voice cast, or maybe a commentary or two... or simply ALL the episodes sans the three-year wait. The custom packaging was a nice idea in theory too, but the Volume 2 package (the one with the lights and sound) has stopped working for most people, and you can't replace the battery without tearing the cardboard slipcase. And the Volume 3 tin case doesn't match the other cases on your shelf. Now fans will get only 8 episodes and no extras on Volume 4... and have to wait still longer for the final 8 episodes on Volume 5. We've had a number of readers tell us that they've gone ahead and purchased the complete series on bootleg DVD, just so they can be done with it. We're big Speed fans here at The Bits... but we certainly understand the aggravation.

Anyway... we've got more new DVD reviews for you to check out today. First up, our old pal Todd has checked in with his first new Doogan's Views of 2006, featuring his thoughts on 4 recent DVD releases including Warner's Dracula A.D. 1972, Universal's The 40-Year-Old Virgin: Unrated and Inside Deep Throat - NC-17: As Seen in Theaters, and Synapse's Havoc: Unrated.

Also today, we've got two more DVD reviews from Peter Schorn - Fox's 24: Season Three and Buena Vista's Alias: The Complete Third Season.

Remember how I said the other day that Universal's Dune: Extended Edition included both versions of the film at the correct 2.35:1 aspect ratio... then said yesterday that the extended version was actually 1.78:1? Yeah... call me an idiot, call me what you will. I was right the first time. Both versions are anamorphic widescreen at 2.35:1. And I know this because I've now watched nearly the entire disc (a full review will be posted soon). What can I say... musta had too much coffee yesterday or something. I've corrected my earlier post.

Elsewhere around the site today, we've posted some new information in The Rumor Mill about the forthcoming DVD releases of Hostel, Aeon Flux and Event Horizon. Be sure to check that out.

We've also updated our recent Digital Bits Power Buy (in conjunction with Digital Audio Video.com) with a special offer on Pioneer's Elite VSX-74TXVi surround receiver - just $1050 delivered anywhere in the domestic U.S. for readers of The Digital Bits. Be sure to click on the link if you're interested.

Enjoy the rest of your day! Stay tuned...

1/25/06

We've got some interesting news to report this morning (though only one of them is directly DVD related). But before we start with that, our own Barrie Maxwell has checked in with another edition of his Classic Coming Attractions column today. This time around, Barrie runs down the latest classic release announcements, and reviews 11 new classic DVDs, including Image Entertainment's Why Change Your Wife?/Miss Lulu Bett, 20th Century Fox's Stormy Weather and Pinky, VCI's The Fighting Sullivans: Commemorative Edition, Paramount's Gunsmoke: 50th Anniversary Collection - Volumes 1 & 2 and The Five Pennies, Criterion's Pickpocket, Warner's The Wild Bunch: The Original Director's Cut - Two-Disc Special Edition, PBS's FDR: American Experience and Acorn Media's Foyle's War: Set 3. There's something there for everyone, so enjoy!

Now for that news. First up, Disney has agreed to purchase Pixar Animation Studios for a whopping $7.4 billion. As part of the deal, Steve Jobs will join the Disney corporate board, and Pixar creative director John Lasseter will assume the role of chief creative officer for the combined Disney and Pixar's animation studios, as well as oversee the development of new Disney theme park rides and attractions. John's a smart guy... maybe he'll do the right thing and his first step will be to resurrect Disney's recently deep-sixed traditional animation division (just a suggestion). A genuinely cool overhaul of Tomorrowland (West) might be nice too...

Next up today, hot on the heels of the Viacom/CBS split, the new CBS Corporation and Warner Bros. have jointly announced plans to merge their struggling UPN and The WB TV networks into a single new network, The CW, starting this fall. The new network will be targeted toward younger and minority viewers. How this will affect programing on each network (shows like Smallville and Veronica Mars) is still unclear, however it's been suggested that the strongest shows from each will be cherry-picked and moved to The CW. So I wonder what happens to the Star Trek franchise in all this mess, given that Paramount's TV division was absorbed into CBS and renamed CBS Paramount Television (and Trek was carried with it)? Even the possibility of hip, young Trek makes me want to gag... shades of that aborted Starfleet Academy TV series some to mind. Oh, how I long for the simpler days of Kirk and company...

I'm afraid there's a sad bit of news to report today: Actor Chris Penn has died. The younger brother of Sean Penn, he's appeared in a number of films over the years, including Rumble Fish, Rush Hour, Footloose and Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs. Chris was just 40 years old. He'll certainly be missed.

Also today, there's word that Video Business is restructuring and shutting down its separate DVD Exclusive magazine. Sadly, as part of this process, editor-in-chief Scott Hettrick and editor Carl DiOrio have "left the publication." I've known Scott for quite a few years now, so I'd like to take this opportunity to wish both he and Carl the very best of luck and success in whatever they do next.

Now for a bit of actual DVD-related news: It seems that Lionsgate's new Lord of War DVDs have been released with anamorphic widescreen video at the rather surprising aspect ratio of 1.78:1 - surprising because the film was released theatrically at 2.40:1. We've contacted Lionsgate about this, based on complaints from our readers, and have been told that the 1.78:1 ratio was chosen by the film's production company. So it's not an error, but rather was a deliberate decision, though we can't confirm whether or not director Andrew Niccol was involved. Hopefully, that clears the issue up... at least a little.

Speaking of Lionsgate, we've got official cover art for the studio's forthcoming Speed Racer: Volume 4 (street date 3/14, SRP $22.98). It seems that the disc will include a die-cast replica of the Mach V. Unfortunately, we still don't know if it'll include all of the series' 16 remaining episodes, or what the extras (if any) might be. We do, however, expect to know more soon. In the meantime, here's the cover...

Speed Racer: Volume 4Zatoichi: The TV Series - Volume TwoZatoichi: The TV Series - Volume Three

Blue Thunder: Special Edition9 to 5: Sexist, Egotistical, Lying, Hypocritical Bigot EditionThe Complete Mr. Arkadin (Criterion)

As you can see, we've also included cover art for Media Blasters' absolutely bad-ass Zatoichi: The TV Series - Volumes Two and Three (street dates: 1/31 and 3/14 respectively), Sony's Blue Thunder: Special Edition (4/4), Fox's 9 to 5: Sexist, Egotistical, Lying, Hypocritical Bigot Edition (also 4/4) and Criterion's The Complete Mr. Arkadin (4/18).

While we're on the subject, Criterion has announced that they'll now be releasing Marco Bellocchio's Fists in the Pocket (cat # 333) on 4/25 (it had previously been expected in March). Newly announced by Criterion, also for 4/25, is Louis Malle's Elevator to the Gallows (#335).

Finally this morning, Disney has delayed the DVD release of the Crimson Tide: Unrated & Extended Edition from 3/14 to 5/16. No word as to why.

Okay, I think that's good enough for 3 AM government work. Time for me to catch a few winks.

As always, stay tuned...

1/24/06

Here's a bit of high-def news (while, again, you wait for my CES report to conclude) that's sure to set some early adopters into a tizzy: the companies and studios behind the AACS (Advanced Access Content System) copy protection scheme (that's going to be used on both Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD) have officially decided this week to require hardware manufactures to prevent full 1080-line resolution video signals (1920x1080) from being passed through unprotected analog outputs (read: component connections). The decision as to whether or not to use the restriction will be left up to the content providers and will be triggered by a software flag on the discs on a case by case basis. What this means, however, is that most movie discs are only going to be displayed at full 1080 resolution through digital HDMI connections. If you don't have HDMI on your HDTV or projector (we're not sure if DVI-to-HDMI adapted connections will be affected), the best you'll be able to see through your component cables is an electronically down-converted 540 lines (960x540 lines). That's just a tad better than regular DVD, which weighs in at 480-line resolution (720x480). We knew this was coming, but still... ouch! The problem is that many early adopters - the very folks these new formats are going to have to hit with to succeed - have older displays that aren't equipped with HDMI inputs (although most new HDTV and projectors sold now have them). You can read more on this here at DVD Exclusive.

Here's the rub... while I know that this is going to piss many early adopters off, I'm willing to bet my right arm that NOTHING is going to make the Hollywood studios change their minds on this. Over the last couple months, I've spoken privately with a number of highly-placed studio execs on this subject, and nearly to a person they tell me that there's no way the studios will go forward without this analog restriction on the hardware. There are a couple of exceptions (Fox, for example, has reportedly lobbied privately against the feature, and the hardware manufacturers themselves are generally against it), but by and large, the sense I get is that most of the studios would rather see Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD wither and die on the vine (and stick with regular DVD alone) than leave unprotected 1080 video signals on disc open to casual digital pirates. Clearly, there's no way to stop the organized, professional pirate - sooner or later they'll crack whatever protection there is (or figure out a practical work-around). But Hollywood seems DETERMINED to get the piracy genie back in the bottle, and trust me when I say that they're not going to budge on this issue. It just isn't going to happen. So while it yeah... it really sucks, we're unfortunately either going to have to live with it or just not upgrade to HD discs.

Anyway, I'll talk more about this issue soon. Commence the grumbling.

Moving on today... so, Universal's new Dune: Extended Edition? Yeah, it's pretty decent. I just got my hands on it this morning, and I haven't had the chance to go through it all yet, but what I've seen so far is nice. It's not great, but this is certainly the best treatment Uni's given the film to date. For the record, yes... both the theatrical and extended editions on this disc are presented in full anamorphic widescreen at the correct 2.35 aspect ratio. Both look good and I think, probably because it's seen less wear over the years, the extended edition actually looks better than the theatrical cut. There's still visible dust and dirt on the print (particularly the theatrical cut) but this film certainly looks better than it ever has before at home - certainly on DVD. That's the good news. The less good news is that while both cuts feature Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, it seems that Universal has dropped the DTS tracks they originally announced. That's disappointing, but I can see why it was done. It's pretty clear to me that including the DTS would have really pushed the video compression. The film's the thing, so that's a compromise I can accept.

The disc is DVD-18 (the theatrical cut and extras are on one side, and the extended cut is on the other), so here's hoping that Universal's gotten their DVD-18/QC bugs licked. For what it's worth, I haven't had any trouble with it so far. All the extras are in full frame, but they aren't coded as such, so my player/projector combination tries to present them in anamorphic (like the menus and the film) and stretches them out - a mild irritation. The extras, however, seem fairly substantial. I'll post a full review soon, but you get decent featurette looks at the production design, at the special effects, at the wardrobe process and the miniatures. There's also about 14 minutes worth of additional deleted scenes (in letterboxed widescreen and introduced by producer Raffaella De Laurentiis), along with a nicely packed gallery of production photos and artwork. It's well known that Lynch declined to participate in this DVD release (Universal DID ask him), so don't look for any interviews or commentary with him. Lynch does, however, feature prominently in the photo gallery - there are lots of shots of him working on set with the cast and crew. I even quite like the packaging for this DVD. It's something I've never seen before - a solid yet thin metal package, with plastic on the inside holding it together (so it looks like a tin package when its closed, but it looks like a regular keepcase open. Oh... you even get an insert booklet of sorts. One side tells you about the extras, while the other side is a guide to the terminology of the Dune universe. Nice.

Anyway, I've basically just written about half of my DVD review. But I knew a lot of you were excited about this release, so I'm here to tell you that you're going to be mostly happy with it. Again, I wish Universal had simply done with Lynch's Dune what they did with Gilliam's Brazil years ago, and licensed the title to Criterion. The result would have been a much more well-rounded special edition. This is decent, but it's also sadly incomplete. There's really no discussion anywhere on the troubled history of this film, or the politics, etc. That said, this is far more special edition than I ever really expected Universal to deliver for Dune, so my hats off to those at the studio that championed this project. It's certainly long overdue. FYI, the Dune: Extended Edition streets on 1/31 (SRP $27.98). You can pre-order it here at Amazon.com.

You know... now that there's a Dune special edition out, I've got nothing to keep my mind off that long-awaited, multi-disc Blade Runner release that's languishing in political hell over at Warner. Ah well.

Changing gears for a moment, we've gotten confirmation from our sources that Universal will street Peter Jackson's King Kong on 3/28. Of course, this is unofficial (consider it Rumor Mill worthy) until the studio announces it, which should happen very soon. Also unofficial is a reported 4/4 street date for Disney's The Chronicles of Narnia. We expect an announcement soon on that as well.

In more official DVD news, Sony has revealed the following titles for release on 4/4: Dirty, Dawson's Creek: The Complete Sixth Season, The Story of Qiu Ju, Thank God It's Friday, a Blue Thunder: Special Edition and a Pedro Almodovar Classics Collection (including All About My Mother, Bad Education, Talk to Her and The Flower of My Secret).

For those who are interested (and I know there are more than a few of you out there), the Blue Thunder: Special Edition (SRP $19.94) will include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, audio commentary by director John Badham (with editor Frank Morriss and motion control supervisor Hoyt Yeatman), the 3-part/45-minute Ride with the Angels: Making Blue Thunder documentary (featuring all-new interviews with Roy Scheider, John Badham, Dan O'Bannon and others), the 8-minute The Special: Building Blue Thunder featurette, an 8-minute vintage promotional featurette, storyboard sequences and theatrical trailers. Blue Thunder's a fun and oft overlooked little flick, so it's cool to see it finally getting a some SE treatment.

'Nuff for now. Stay tuned!

1/23/06

Well... it's been an interesting weekend here in The OC. We've been having these wicked Santa Ana winds since last night, and I'm surprised our house is still standing. There are pieces of trees lying all over the place, and the air's all dry and nasty. Monday is garbage collection day here in Irvine, so last night I all put out our cans as usual... only to wake up this morning to find that the garbage cans had blown all over the street during the night. Sheesh.

Plus, I had a cool experience on Sunday. As I might have mentioned once or twice in the past, I'm a bit of a spaceflight junkie. A friend of mine here locally has been helping Gene Kranz sell a number of his artifacts for charity lately. By way of reference, Gene is arguably the most famous of NASA's original flight directors. He's the guy who was played by Ed Harris in Apollo 13. You know, the "We've never lost an American in space, we're sure as hell not gonna lose one on my watch! Failure is not an option!" guy. So anyway, my friend and I are talking, and he pulls out something he's selling for Gene... and I'll be damned if it isn't one of Gene's original Mission Control vests. Remember that scene in Apollo 13 where the other flight controllers are joking, "Looks like Mrs. Kranz pulled out the old needle and thread again..." and then Ed Harris pulls that white vest out of a box? That's what I'm talking about. One of those. There are only like four that exist, one of which is hanging in the Smithsonian. And I saw one of the other three in person this weekend. I'll tell you, it was pretty damned cool for this space junkie. FYI, if you're interested in such things, you can check 'em out here.

Anyway, we've got a bunch of new reviews for you to check out today (whilst you continue to wait patiently for my CES wrap-up). First of all, we've posted a new edition of Jahnke's The Bottom Shelf column, entitled Rock & Roll All Night. In this installment, Adam reviews a trio of recent music-related DVDs, including Factory 515's Heavy Metal Parking Lot, Anchor Bay's AC/DC spectacular Thunderstruck, and Shout! Factory's The Dick Cavett Show: Rock Icons.

Also today, our own Peter Schorn checks in with a pair of DVD reviews, including IFC and Capital Entertainment's recent PUNK: Attitude and a DVD blast from the past (literally) in the form of MGM's The Day After.

Our erstwhile team over at MusicTAP adds to the review mayhem today as well, with a look at Virgin's Iggy Pop: Live at The Avenue B, A&M's The Police: Synchronicity Concert (a recent favorite of mine) and Hip-O's Billie Holiday: The Ultimate Collection on DVD. They've also got a trio of new high-resolution audio reviews for you, including Rhino's Jackson Browne: Running on Empty (on DVD-Audio), Sony Classical's Yo-Yo Ma Plays Ennio Morricone (on SACD) and Mercury's Bon Jovi: Slippery When Wet (on DualDisc).

Elsewhere around the site today, we've updated the UMD Movies Release List to include Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes, which is due on 3/28.

And around the Net, our friends over at TVShowsonDVD.com have some tentative information on the possibility of the animated The Tick finally coming out on DVD. Be sure to check that out.

We'll leave you with more new cover art today. Here's Anchor Bay's Free Enterprise: Five-Year Mission Extended Edition (3/7), temp art for Fox's Over There: Season One (3/21) and also Fox's slipcase art for the Planet of the Apes: The Legacy Collection (3/28)...

Free Enterprise: Five-Year Mission Extended EditionOver There: Season OnePlanet of the Apes: The Legacy Collection

Back tomorrow. Stay tuned...

1/20/06

We've got some major release updates for you today.

First of all, we have the official skinny from 20th Century Fox on their upcoming celebration of all things Planet of the Apes on DVD. The centerpiece of the affair will be the 3/28 release of the 14-disc, THX-certified Planet of the Apes: The Ultimate DVD Collection (SRP $179.98). Here's a disc by disc list of the extras, as confirmed by the studio:

Disc One - Planet of the Apes (1967 - anamorphic widescreen video, with Dolby Digital 5.1 & DTS 5.1 audio, audio commentary by composer Jerry Goldsmith, commentary by actors Roddy McDowell, Natalie Trundy and Kim Hunter, and make-up artist John Chambers, text commentary by Eric Greene, author of Planet of the Apes as American Myth) - note that this is the same as Disc One from the 35th Anniversary Edition.

Disc Two - Planet of the Apes Bonus Disc (includes the 1998 Behind the Planet of the Apes documentary, trailers for all of the classic Apes films, promo spots, a make-up test with Edward G. Robinson from 1966, Roddy McDowall's original home movies, dailies and outtakes, the 1967 N.A.T.O. presentation, 4 vintage featurettes (Planet of the Apes, A Look Behind the Planet of the Apes, Don Taylor Directs Escape from the Planet of the Apes and J. Lee Thompson Directs Conquest of the Planet of the Apes), original film reviews and galleries of poster art, production photos and costume sketches) - note that this is the same as Disc Two from the 35th Anniversary Edition and is also the same basic content as was included on Image Entertainment's Behind the Planet of the Apes: Special Collector's Edition.

Disc Three - Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970 - newly remastered in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, plus a cast page, theatrical trailers for this and all of the other Apes films and a behind-the-scenes photo gallery) - same extras as on the previous release.

Disc Four - Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971 - newly remastered in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, plus a cast page, theatrical trailers for this and all of the other Apes films and the Don Taylor Directs Escape from the Planet of the Apes featurette).

Disc Five - Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972 - newly remastered in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, plus a cast page, theatrical trailers for this and all of the other Apes films and the J. Lee Thompson Directs Conquest of the Planet of the Apes featurette).

Disc Six - Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973 - newly remastered in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, plus a cast page, theatrical trailers for this and all of the other Apes films and the Fox Interactive's Behind the Scenes of the Planet of the Apes videogame promo).

Discs Seven-Ten - Planet of the Apes: The Complete TV Series (1974 - includes all 14 episodes in the original full frame video with Dolby Digital mono audio, plus photo galleries and TV spots) - this is basically the same as the previous 4-disc DVD release of the TV series, but the photo galleries and TV spots are new to this edition.

Discs Eleven-Twelve - Return to the Planet of the Apes: The Complete Animated Series (1975 - includes all 13 episodes in their original full frame video with Dolby Digital mono audio).

Disc Thirteen - Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes (2001 - anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 audio, plus extras) - note that this is identical to Disc One of the previous DVD release of this film.

Disc Fourteen - Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes Bonus Disc (with additional extras) - note that this is identical to Disc Two of the previous DVD release of this film.

As you can see, what's new in The Ultimate DVD Collection are the new anamorphic transfers of the four classic Apes films that have previously been available in letterboxed widecreen only, along with the complete animated TV series (its first appearance on DVD and exclusive to The Ultimate DVD Collection) and a couple new extras on the 1974 live-action TV series. All of this comes with a special "ape" display case designed to replicate the original mask designs from the classic films. This is the kind of packaging that Fox has previously released in Japan only (with I, Robot and The Alien Quadrilogy), so you've got to at least give the studio credit for making it available to U.S. fans as well (expensive though it is). Here's a picture of the packaging...

{short description of image}

For those not quite ready to part with $180, Fox is also releasing a 6-disc Planet of the Apes: The Legacy Boxset (SRP $49.98), which will include all five of the original Apes films, along with a bonus disc containing the Behind the Planet of the Apes documentary, trailers for all of the other Apes films and the Fox Interactive's Behind the Scenes of the Planet of the Apes videogame promo. We believe the classic films will all be the newly remastered anamorphic widescreen versions.

And for those simply wanting to add the later films to their libraries in better quality one at a time, Battle for the Planet of the Apes, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Conquest of Planet of the Apes and Escape from the Planet of the Apes will all be re-released as stand-alone versions on 3/28 as well (SRP $14.98 each). These will each be the same as the movie discs contained in The Ultimate Collection, with newly remastered anamorphic widescreen video and the same extras.

Finally, just for kicks, Fox will release Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes on UMD format for Sony's PSP on 3/28 as well (SRP $19.98). Whew!

Moving on, we have release details today on Disney's Chicken Little, due to street on 3/21 (SRP $29.99). The disc will include anamorphic widescreen video (mastered directly from the digital animation files) with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include deleted scenes with 3 alternate openings, the Hatching Chicken Little featurette, an interactive game, music videos by The Cheetah Girls and Barenaked Ladies, a Karaoke sing-along and more.

While we're talking about upcoming DVD releases, we've got some information from our sources on what to expect on Fox's Walk the Line here at the site today, as well as an update on what the deal is with all of those David E. Kelley TV shows eventually coming to DVD (think Boston Legal, Ally McBeal, Boston Public, Snoops and The Practice). You'll find that in The Rumor Mill, so be sure to check it out.

Here's another look at the box art for Fox's Ultimate Apes release, along with Disney's Chicken Little and the regular edition of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (TBA - tentative street date 4/4), and Sony's Capote (3/21), The Squid and the Whale: Special Edition (also 3/21) and I Dream of Jeannie: The Complete First Season - In Black & White (3/14)...

Planet of the Apes: The Ultimate DVD Collection Chicken LittleThe Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

CapoteThe Squid and the Whale: Special EditionI Dream of Jeannie: The Complete First Season - In Black & White

I'm not going to mention my CES report again, I'm just going to surprise you with it. But watch for it very soon - it IS coming.

Meanwhile, have a great weekend! Enjoy some playoff football, or maybe go catch Terrence Malick's new flick, The New World. I hear it's worth seeing...

Stay tuned!

1/18/06

Well... as luck would have it, I'm still waiting on a couple of files for my CES report. I was supposed to get them today, and now I'm hoping to get them in tomorrow. If I haven't gotten them by tomorrow afternoon, I'll go ahead and post the report without them and just add the files later. What can I say, this is a lot of work! But you already knew that, didn't you?

In the meantime, Adam's checked in with Jahnke Electric Theatre #24, in which you'll find his thoughts on Munich, The New World, The Family Stone, The Ringer, Wolf Creek and more recent films. You'll also find Adam's year-end Annual #1, in which he looks back and makes his picks for the best, and the worst, films of 2005. It's definitely worth a look. Young master Jahnke sees a LOT of films he does.

We've updated The Rumor Mill today with a few new expected release dates for upcoming titles including Memoirs of a Geisha, so be sure to check that out.

We've got a bit more DVD release news for you as well. First of all, Disney has unveiled the list of extras you'll find on their Lady and the Tramp: 50th Anniversary Edition, due on 2/28 (SRP $29.99). The 2-disc set will include the film in both anamorphic widescreen and full frame, with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include two never-before-seen deleted scenes, the original 1943 storyboard version of the film, a rare alternate recording of The Siamese Cat Song, the Finding Lady: The Art of Storyboards and Lady's Pedigree: The Making of Lady and the Tramp documentaries, artwork galleries, original trailers, excepts from the Disneyland TV series, interactive games and more.

Warner has also released details on the extras to be found on the forthcoming Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Special Edition (3/7 - SRP $30.97). This will be a 2-disc set (FYI, single-disc versions will also be available for $28.98 in both full frame and anamorphic widescreen). The 2-disc version will include the film in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, deleted scenes, 7 featurettes (including Conversations with the Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, Harry vs. the Horntail: The First Task, In Too Deep: The Second Task, The Maze: The Third Task, Meet the Champions, He Who Must Not Be Named and Preparing for the Yule Ball), several interactive games and DVD-ROM features (including an EA game demo).

Warner also has Knots Landing: The Complete First Season and Robot Chicken: Season One due on 3/28. And here's a bit of good news... the studio is finally releasing a decent DVD version of Rob Reiner's The American President on 4/18. There won't be much in the way of extras, but the new DVD will at least include both full frame and newly-remastered anamorphic widescreen video (the previous DVD release was non-anamorphic letterbox only). Audio will be Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0. To make up for the lack of extras, the SRP is just $12.76. Nice.

Meanwhile, Universal has announced The Cecil B. DeMille Collection for 5/23 (SRP $59.98). The collection will include Cleopatra, The Crusades, Four Frightened People, Sign of the Cross and Union Pacific, all in their original full frame aspect ratios.

Universal has also announced the 4/25 DVD release of Law & Order: Trial by Jury - The Complete Series (SRP $59.98), along with The Adventures of Brer Rabbit on 3/21 (SRP $22.98) and the R-rated theatrical version of The 40-Year-Old Virgin on 1/24 (SRP $29.98).

Sony has set The Cutting Edge: Going for the Gold, G (2005), a G/You Got Served 2-pack, Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King - Special Edition, Godzilla: The Series - Monster Mayhem, Godzilla: The Series - Mutant Madness, a new Godzilla: Special Edition (the Roland Emmerich film), and a Left Behind Collection 3-pack (including Left Behind: The Movie, Left Behind: Tribulation and Left Behind: World at War) all for release on 3/28.

And New Line has announced Cyber Wars and Puerto Vallarta Squeeze for 4/11.

We'll leave you this morning with some new DVD cover artwork. Here's a sneak peek at Disney's The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - Special Two-Disc Collector's Edition (TBA), Universal's The Cecil B. DeMille Collection, Warner's The American President, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Special Edition and Robot Chicken: Season One, and finally Paramount's South Park: The Complete Seventh Season (3/21)...

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - Special Two-Disc Collector's EditionThe Cecil B. DeMille CollectionThe American President

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Special EditionRobot Chicken: Season OneSouth Park: The Complete Seventh Season

By the way, with all the hubbub around here, I missed posting this yesterday. We wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the passing of actress Shelly Winters on Saturday. Winters starred in many films during her long career, including The Diary of Anne Frank, Alfie, Pete's Dragon, The Poseidon Adventure, Stanley Kubrick's Lolita and A Place in the Sun. She was 85.

And for those of you who care about such things (though I must admit our own interest is waning), The Golden Globe winners were announced on Monday night. Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain won the Best Picture - Drama category, making it an early favorite for the Oscar. Or so they say.

Stay tuned...

1/17/06

As promised, we've begun to post our coverage from CES 2006 today. We're starting this morning with our in-depth interview with Andy Parsons, senior vice president of Pioneer Electronics (USA) Inc., about his company's Blu-ray Disc plans for the year ahead. Our CES 2006 Image Gallery is online as well, as you already know. Later this afternoon, from our main CES 2006 menu, you'll be able to access my full show report, including my thoughts on the Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD announcements and developments from the convention. So be sure to watch for that later today.

Meanwhile this morning, we've got more standard DVD news. We've been looking into this for a while now, and we expect to have some official details for you in the next couple of days. But we've been told by representatives of the studio that Lionsgate will be releasing the next volume of Speed Racer animated episodes on DVD on 3/14 (SRP $22.98). This will be Volume 4 of the series on DVD. Given that there's only 16 episodes of the series left to be released, we suspect that all of the remaining episodes will be included. We're still waiting for confirmation on this, but you can already pre-order this release at Amazon.com. We'll bring you the exact details as they come in from the studio.

In other DVD news, Sony has moved the release dates for Capote and The Squid and the Whale: Special Edition from 3/14 to 3/21. Adjust your plans accordingly.

Also today, our old friend Robert Burnett has let us know that his long-awaited Free Enterprise: Extended "Five Year Mission" Edition will finally be released by Anchor Bay on 3/7. The 2-disc set will feature the film in a new Divimax anamorphic widescreen transfer with 6 minutes of added footage. Audio will be included in Dolby Digital 5.1. Extras on Disc One will include two new commentary tracks (the first with writer/producer Mark A. Altman and director Burnett, and the second with stars William Shatner, Eric McCormack and Rafer Weigel along with Burnett). Disc Two will add the now 20-minute longer documentary, Where No Fan Has Gone Before: Making Free Enterprise - The Atavachron Edition, featuring never-before-seen deleted scenes, extended takes, bloopers and interview material. Additional extras will include still more deleted scenes and the unaired television pilot Cafe Fantastique. You'll also get a 10-page booklet of liner notes.

We have more to report today on that 14-disc Planet of the Apes: Ultimate DVD Collection from Fox as well. First of all, it's looking as if the street date has been moved up from 4/4 to 3/28, allowing the release to coincide better with the DVD debut of Universal's new King Kong (in keeping with the "ape" theme). FYI, you can now pre-order the Ultimate Collection from Amazon.com as well. The best news is that all of the previously released classic Apes films have been remastered in full anamorphic widescreen video, and will now feature remastered Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks. Our friends over at TVShowsonDVD.com, who as you might expect are excited over the release's inclusion of the 1975 animated series, have posted a disc-by-disc list of the set's expected contents. Just keep in mind that these details are not yet officially confirmed by Fox, so consider them Rumor Mill-worthy for the time being.

Elsewhere here at The Bits today, we've updated our UMD Movie Release List with a few new titles.

And finally, we've kicked off a whopping SEVEN new Contests, giving each of you the chance to take home copies of Warner's The Adventures of Superman: The Complete Second Season, Lois and Clark: The Complete Second Season and The Sam Peckinpah Collection, SIGNED copies of WEA's Greg Behrendt is Uncool, Anchor Bay's Class of 1984: Special Edition, the BBC's The Old Grey Whistle Test, Volume 2, Universal's The Return of the Pink Panther, and a set of five catalog titles from Fox including Pinky, Stormy Weather, Island in the Sun, American Women and An Unmarried Woman. All of these contests will run for TWO WEEKS, until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, January 29th. Click on the links to get started and good luck!

Okay, that's it for this morning. I don't even have time to get into all the great playoff football action from this weekend (the two favorites for the Super Bowl are now out of the mix - who-da thunk it?), much less the awesome debut of the new season of 24 on Fox Sunday night (ol' Jack's back with a vengeance, let me tell you)! Not enough hours in the day. Or week. Or year. D'oh!

Anyway, enjoy that interview and we'll catch you back here later with more.

Stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 1/13/06 - 4:30 PM PST)

Some last big news for the week: 20th Century Fox has just announced a pair of massive new DVD box sets for release in April, plus an additional pair of very cool DVD gift sets.

First up is the long-awaited Mel Brooks Boxset Collection (due 4/4 - SRP $99.98), which will include High Anxiety, History of the World, Part I, Blazing Saddles (in conjunction with Warner Bros), Robin Hood Men in Tights, Silent Movie, To Be or Not to Be, Twelve Chairs and Young Frankenstein! We're still working to confirm this, but we believe each title will feature anamorphic widescreen transfers. Extras are expected to include theatrical trailers, HBO specials and other featurettes on select titles, audio commentary by Brooks on select titles and more. We'll post a confirmed spec list when we have it.

Fox also has planned a 14-disc Planet of the Apes: Ultimate DVD Collection (SRP $179.98) for release on 4/4, which will include all 5 classic Apes feature films, the complete Planet of the Apes TV series, the 2001 Tim Burton remake and the never-before-released Return to the Planet of the Apes NBC cartoon series from 1975, along with the Behind the Planet of the Apes documentary and an additional disc of bonus content. You can read a little more about this from our friends over at TVShowsonDVD.com.

In addition, Fox will release a Laurel and Hardy Giftset on 4/11 (SRP $34.98), that will include Big Noise, Great Guns and Jitterbugs, plus extras.

There's also a Robert Altman Collection due on 4/25 (SRP $39.98) that will include M*A*S*H (a single-disc edition), A Perfect Couple, Quintet and A Wedding.

All of this is in addition to Fox's just announced Be Still, Bee Season, Little Manhattan, 9 to 5: Sexist, Egotistical, Lying, Hypocritical Bigot Edition and The World's Greatest Lover (4/4), The Bob Newhart Show: Season 3, In Living Color: Season 5, Stay and Woman Thou Art Loosed: Collector's Edition (4/11), Mercenary for Justice and Remington Steele: Season 3 (4/18) and Reba: Season 3 and American Dad: Volume 1 (4/25). Whew!

Okay... that's all for now. Have a great weekend and see you Tuesday!

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/13/06 - 3 PM PST)

Is it Friday already? Sheeh, time does fly when you're working frantically.

We've got a couple interesting things for you today. First, if you check The Rumor Mill this afternoon, you just might find a little bit of information on Fox's currently-in-planning DVD release of Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven: Director's Cut. 'Nuff said.

Also, we've got a new Digital Bits Power Buy up in conjunction with our friends over at Digital Audio Video.com. We're offering exclusive pricing for Bits readers on Pioneer's Elite DV-79AVi DVD player. Believe me, this is an awesome unit - one of the best DVD players you can currently get your hands on - so do check it out.

Now then... we've got a little new cover art for you to check out today. Here's Paramount's Aeon Flux: Special Collector's Edition (4/24), Fox's Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea: Season One, Volume One (2/21) and Lionsgate's Ultimate Avengers: The Movie (2/21)...

Aeon Flux: Special Collector's EditionVoyage to the Bottom of the Sea: Season One, Volume OneUltimate Avengers: The Movie

And since I know we've got a lot of superhero fans out there, here's an exclusive look at some of the menus screens for Ultimate Avengers: The Movie while we're at it...

Ultimate Avengers - Main Menu

Ultimate Avengers - Special Features Menu

Ultimate Avengers - Scene Selection Menu

Ultimate Avengers - Setup Menu

FYI... I'm targeting Tuesday for posting all our long-awaited CES high-def coverage. Trust me, it'll be worth it. I'm waiting on a few files to be sent from some of the corporate parties involved - cool stuff for you to see. I've been working all week to cut through the bureaucracy to get them, but I don't expect them until early Tuesday morning. Plus, Monday is a work holiday for many here in the States, which complicates things. If I can get the coverage up earlier, I definitely will. You guys have been patient long enough! Besides, we need to get all this HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc coverage out of the way so we can start posting the backlog of other content we have for the site. We've got new columns from Adam and Todd on the way, along with a number of new DVD reviews and lots more.

So y'all have yourselves a great weekend and we'll see you Tuesday!


More Archived Posts

Back to Current Posts


E-mail the Bits!


Don't #!@$ with the Monkey! Site designed for 800 x 600 resolution, using 16M colors and .gif 89a animation.
© 1997-2002 The Digital Bits, Inc., All Rights Reserved.
billhunt@thedigitalbits.com