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(Archived Posts 3/31/06 - 3/13/06)
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UPDATE - 3/31/06 - 2:15 PM PST)
Just wanted to check in with late-breaking news. Toshiba is now
shipping their HD-XA1 HD-DVD player in Japan, and the unit reportedly
went on sale at select retailers there today (priced at about 110,000
yen). The player is expected to be available here in the States next
month (for $799). You can read more on this
(via MSNBC) and
(via Business Week). Of course, in
typically hyped fashion, a few of the stories proclaim that HD-DVD has
beaten Blu-ray Disc to market. It's worth noting that 1) they were
expected to beat Blu-ray Disc to market and 2) that no actual HD-DVD
software is yet available in Japan to our knowledge.
On a related note, we've confirmed with Goldhil Entertainment that
their Chronos HD-DVD (which was to
have been released yesterday, and would have been the first HD-DVD title
available here in the States) has been delayed. We expect to have a new
street date next week. Our
Release List has been updated to reflect this.
(EARLY UPDATE - 3/31/06
- 1:15 PM PST)
Well... we're still waiting to hear back from Warner as to what this
statement on the back of their HD-DVD packaging means:
*Levels of video resolution and audio standards
stated require audio-visual equipment capability and appropriate digital
connections. However, we now believe that
tech grids (the Phantom grid
is re-posted below) are telling us that the actual feature film video is
encoded at 1080p resolution, while the special features are simply
ported over from the existing DVD releases at standard 480i resolution.
spec lists we posted the other day accordingly.
As to that statement, it MIGHT be Warner's way of indicating that that
the titles will employ the ICT flag to force downsampling of the
high-definition video on displays with analog-only connections. HOWEVER,
it may also simply be Warner's way of legally covering their backsides
because of the varying capabilities of the HD-DVD hardware that will be
available. For example, the tech grid for Phantom
seems to indicate that the film is encoded on the disc at 1080p
resolution. But the first two Toshiba HD-DVD players (the HD-A1 and
HD-XA1) will only be able to pass 1080i resolution out to HDTVs via HDMI
(we understand this isn't a limitation of HDMI, but rather is due to the
particular components Toshiba is using in their first players).
Likewise, the audio playback capabilities of the various players will
differ. Either way, as soon as we hear back from Warner for sure, we'll
let you know.
There's not a lot of other news to report today, but we do have a
couple of new standard DVD announcements for you.
First up, 20th Century Fox has announced that it will release a Mr.
& Mrs. Smith: Unrated Collector's Edition on 6/6. You'll
get a 125-minute version of the film (as opposed to the 112-minute
theatrical version that's now available). Fox is no doubt hoping that 13
additional minutes of potentially bare-assed Brangelina will be too
compelling for many to pass up on (though what you'll probably actually
get is bare-assed Vince Vaughn). We'll see.
Also, Buena Vista has revealed that it will street Night
Stalker: The Complete Series on DVD on 5/30. That's the
recent ABC TV series remake that went belly-up last year after just a
By the way, this would normally go in The
Rumor Mill, but Peter Jackson has confirmed in recent
interviews that he's held back significant content (like audio
commentaries and deleted scenes) from the current 2-disc King
Kong DVD, because Universal is planning on releasing a more
elaborate 4-disc version later in 2006. Just FYI.
Okay, we'll leave you with more upcoming DVD cover art today. Here's
Fox's Mr. & Mrs. Smith: Unrated
Collector's Edition and Buena Vista's Night
Stalker: The Complete Series (temp art) and their previously
announced Glory Road (6/6)...
By the way, just to let you know, we're going to be doing a little
reorganizing of the various sections over at
Digital Forum this weekend. We'll be eliminating the separate
website sections, and just consolidating the threads into various
subject groupings. We found that several of the same topics were being
discussed in different places around the forum, so for ease of use we're
tightening things up a little. By the way, if you haven't joined
already, it's completely free and we'd love to have you!
That's it for another week around here. Have a great weekend and we'll
see you back here on Monday. Stay tuned...
There's some interesting format news to report today...
First, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is saying that they plan to
stay firm in releasing the first Blu-ray Disc software on 5/23 (click
here to read more at Home Media Retailing), even though
their own hardware likely won't be available until July. Samsung had
been set to release its first Blu-ray Disc player (the PD-B1000) on
5/23, but may now wait until June. Pioneer's first players for the
format are also due in June (but may be delayed slightly as well -
here for more from Video Business). Meanwhile, Panasonic's
first Blu-ray machines are currently due in September (click
Interestingly, representatives from both the Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD
camps said at the Digital Hollywood conference this week that these
delays aren't really going to have an impact on the success of either
here). This is in such stark contrast to the often bold statements
that many of these same representatives were making as recently as CES,
that we think it's a clear indication that the practical engineering and
technical realities of launching new formats has, at long last, finally
begun to override their corporate marketing zeal.
While we're on the subject of technical realities, it's worth noting
that our industry sources continue to tell us that there remain ongoing
difficulties in authoring, QC-ing and finalizing bug-free movie software
for both HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc, which is why there have been so few
real announcements for either format to this point. Several studios,
including Paramount, Disney, Universal and Fox, are opting simply to
wait until solutions to these problems are well in hand before making
any release announcements beyond the vague statements issued at CES in
January. We have little doubt that the issues will be resolved soon, but
there's definitely a learning curve and a certain degree of "getting
up to speed" happening on these new formats (as far as authoring).
Meanwhile, switching to a different format, it seems that Sony's UMD
may finally be gasping its last, due to disappointing sales of both the
PlayStation Portable hardware and the UMD software (click
here). Universal, Paramount and Image Entertainment have all
stopped releasing titles on the format, while other studios (like Fox,
Disney and Warner) are cutting back and/or evaluating UMD releases on a
title-by-title basis. What's more, it's being reported that Wal-Mart may
soon stop selling the software altogether. We didn't figure that the
format would last long (of our own staffers, only Matt's really dabbled
with UMD), but we'll certainly keep our
Release List going as long as new titles continued to be
Finally today, we've got your first look at the finalized cover art for
Universal's Munich. The title is
still yet-to-be-announced by the studio, but this is definitely what it
will look like...
We posted details on the extras in
Rumor Mill a week or so back, and we'll post the final,
official release details as soon as they're available.
(LATE UPDATE - 3/29/06 -
2 PM PST)
Afternoon, folks! We're just pleased as punch today to announce the
Digital Bits - High-Definition Release List. It's just the
first part of a whole new section here at the site dedicated to our
coverage of the new HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc formats. We've compiled
every announcement, every press comment, every statement PERIOD by
studio reps... and the result is as complete a list of announced,
expected and likely titles on both formats as we can provide you. We
even went all the way back to CES from 2005 - more than a full year ago
- to include the titles that the HD-DVD camp "unofficially"
announced back then. We'll probably have to split the list in half as
these formats really get going, but for now THIS is skinny. We'll update
the list as new announcements are made and new information comes to
light. And if you find any errors or titles missing, just drop us an
and we'll tighten the screws right up. Enjoy!
In terms of standard DVD today, Warner has just announced Firewall
for release on 6/6, along with A Perfect Fit.
Bruce Campbell fans will be thrilled to learn that The
Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.: The Complete Series will
follow on 7/18, along with A Pup Named
Scooby-Doo: Volumes 3 & 4. Also newly announced by the
studio for release on 7/25 are the animated Pinky
and the Brain: Volume 1 and Animaniacs:
Here's the cover art for Firewall,
The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.: The
Complete Series and Sony's Underworld:
Evolution - Special Edition (6/6)...
Also, Sony has just unveiled a new 152-minute Black
Hawk Down: Extended Cut for release on 6/6 (SRP $19.94 - the
theatrical version clocks in at 144 minutes). A new The
Missing: Extended Cut will also street that same day (SRP
also $19.94 - 154 minutes as opposed to the theatrical 137-minute cut).
Around the site today (actually over at our outstanding
George Bennett has turned in a review of
Byrds' Mr. Tambourine Man in high-resolution SACD format,
now available from Mobile Fidelity.
We'd also like to take a moment today to acknowledge the passing of
TV producer/director Dan Curtis, who brought us the likes of Dark
Shadows, The Winds of War
and more. He was 78.
Also sadly no longer with us is Polish
fiction author Stanislaw Lem, whose works included the classic
Solaris (adapted for the big
screen by Andrei Tarkovsky in 1972 and Steven Soderbergh in 2002). He
Okay, it's back to the grindstone around here. Stay tuned...
(EARLY UPDATE - 3/29/06 -
12:01 AM PST)
Here's a little something you might be interested in. We've got the
exact details for you on the disc specs and special features you can
expect on Warner's first three HD-DVD releases (due on 4/18).
Million Dollar Baby will include
widescreen video (1080p, 2.40:1 aspect ratio), Dolby Digital-Plus 5.1
(English and French) and Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo audio, subtitles in
English, French and Spanish and English SDH (Subtitles for the Deaf and
Hard of Hearing - feature only). Extras will be in 480i resolution and
will include the James Lipton Takes on Three
roundtable discussion with Clint Eastwood, Hillary Swank and Morgan
Freeman, the Born to Fight and
Producers Round 15 featurettes and
the theatrical trailer. Here's a look at the technical grid on the back
of the disc's packaging:
Phantom of the Opera (2004) will
include widescreen video (1080p, 2.40:1 aspect ratio), Dolby True-HD 5.1
(English), Dolby Digital-Plus 5.1 (English and French) and Dolby Digital
2.0 Stereo audio, subtitles in English, French and Spanish, and English
SDH (Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing - feature only). Extras
will be in 480i resolution and will include the Behind
the Mask featurette, the 3-part The
Making of The Phantom of the Opera documentary (including
Director and Production),
a deleted scene (No One Would Listen),
a sing-along feature and the film's theatrical trailer. Here's the
title's tech grid:
Finally, The Last Samurai will
include widescreen video (1080p & 480i resolutions, 2.40:1 aspect
ratio), Dolby Digital-Plus 5.1 (English and French), Dolby Digital-Plus
2.0 (Spanish) and Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo audio, subtitles in English,
French and Spanish, English SDH (Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard of
Hearing - feature only), and audio commentary with director Edward
Zwick. Additional extras (in 480i resolution) will include deleted
scenes, the Edward Zwick Director's Video
Journal feature, the History Channel's History
vs. Hollywood documentary, 6 featurettes (including Tom
Cruise: A Warrior's Journey, Making
an Epic: A Conversation with Edward Zwick and Tom Cruise,
A World of Detail: Production Design with
Lilly Kilvert, Silk and Armor:
Costume Design with Nigla Dickson, From
Soldier to Samurai: The Weapons and Imperial
Army Basic Training), video of the Japanese premiere and the
film's theatrical trailer. Again, here's the tech grid:
Notice the * after Video and Audio in the tech grids? It's worth noting
that all three of these titles include the following statement in tiny
print on the back of the packaging: *Levels of
video resolution and audio standards stated require audio-visual
equipment capability and appropriate digital connections. We're
trying to determine if that means that these are DVD/HD-DVD hybrid discs
(offering both standard definition and high-definition video on the same
disc), or that these titles make use of the Image Constraint Token (ICT)
and analog video downsampling on HDTVs that lack HDMI or DVI
connections. We strongly suspect that it's the latter, as all three
titles are priced at SRP $28.99 (Warner has previously indicated that
their DVD/HD-DVD hybrid discs would be priced at SRP $38.99). We'll
confirm this with the studio and let you know for sure as soon as
By the way, we also now know what that new plastic disc packaging is
called. Warner's releases are packed in "Elite Red HD Cases."
By that nomenclature, we think it's safe to assume that Sony's Blu-ray
Discs (the first of which are due on 5/23) are in "Elite Blue HD
This just keeps gettin' more interesting, doesn't it?
While you all get ready to run to your local video stores later today
to pick up Peter Jackson's King Kong
(or Chronos, the first HD-DVD
title to be released - if it actually makes it out today), we've got a
couple things here at The Bits to
keep you entertained.
First up, Disney has announced that their Eight
Below will street on 6/20 as we recently reported in
Rumor Mill. Annapolis
will follow on 6/27, also as predicted. Eight
Below will be available in both anamorphic widescreen and
full frame versions. Extras will include audio commentary with director
Frank Marshall, star Paul Walker and director of photography Don
Burgess, a second commentary with Marshall and producer Pat Crowley,
deleted scenes and the Running with the Dogs:
The Making of Eight Below featurette. Annapolis
will also be available in full frame and anamorphic widescreen versions,
and will include audio commentary with director Justin Lin, writer David
Collard and editor Fred Raskin, deleted scenes and 2 featurettes (The
Brigades and Plebe Year: The Story
Second, 20th Century Fox has announced the UMD release of Die
Hard and Die Hard 2 for
Movie Release List has been updated accordingly).
Around the site this morning, reviewer Peter Schorn has checked in with
his thoughts on Warner's
Polar Express and A&E's
Python's Flying Circus: John Cleese's Personal Best.
We've got FIVE new
starting today as well, giving you each the chance to take home Warner's
The Complete First Season and
One with All the Babies, Birthdays and Weddings 3-pack,
Trek Fan Collective: Time Travel, Anchor Bay's
Good Friday: Explosive Special Edition,
a trio of Geneon
TV anime titles and
a King Kong
hat, T-shirt and DVD from Universal. The contests will run until
Noon PST on Sunday, April 2nd. Click on the links to get started and
Don't forget that Toshiba's cross-country HD-DVD continues this week (go
here and click "HD-DVD Tour" to see the exact store
locations). By the way, if any of you happen to attend any of the tour
dates in the coming days... and you're willing and able to pick up an
HD-DVD copy of Chronos... see if
the Toshiba guys will play it for you on their hardware and let me know
if it works (and how it looks).
Speaking of HD-DVD,
first wave of titles on the format (due 4/18) are now officially
available to preorder at Amazon.com (and doing so from our links
supports our work here at The Bits).
Well... a new week's here again. And we've got some new DVD release
First up, the big one... Sony has officially set their Underworld:
Evolution - Special Edition for release on 6/6 (SRP $28.95).
The title will also be available on both Blu-ray Disc and UMD formats
the same day.
Also newly announced by Sony for 6/6 are Shadow
Man, Air America: The Complete
Series (6 discs), The Ron White
Show, Farewell to the King
and a UMD version of Desperado.
We've updated the
Movie Release List accordingly.
20th Century Fox has announced Winter
Passing for 5/16 and 30 Days:
Season 1 for 6/27.
Universal is bowing The Fast and the
Furious: Franchise Collection box set on 6/6 (SRP $22.98).
Available in both full frame and anamorphic widescreen versions, the set
will include The Fast and the Furious,
2 Fast 2 Furious and a bonus disc
of new content (much of it no doubt designed to promote the new sequel
film, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift).
Meanwhile, Warner will release Dead Broke
We've got word on a pair of new DVD release party/signing events here
in the L.A. area tomorrow (3/28) and Wednesday (3/29) with Robert
Englund, director Tim Sullivan and the cast of Lionsgates' 2001
Maniacs. The Tuesday event will be held at the
Bookstore in Burbank (4213 W. Burbank Blvd.) starting at 7 PM PST.
The Wednesday event will be held at
Book and Poster (6562 Hollywood Boulevard) also starting at 7 PM
PST. Among the cast members expected to attend one or both of these
events are Lin Shaye, Giuseppe Andrews, Christa Campbell, Jay Gillespie,
Dylan Edrington, Wendy Kremer, Brian Gross, Kodi Kitchen, Cristin
Michelle, Gina Marie Heekin, Bianca Smith, Brendan McCarthy and Ryan
Fleming. Should be a lot of fun, do drop on by if you're a fan!
Well... it's a beautiful afternoon here in The OC. Sunny, warm, barely
a cloud in the sky. I'm gettin' the bug to get outside and go running.
Just too nice not to be out in the fresh air today. Hope the weather is
nice where you are too... or at least I hope the snow's finally starting
to melt for you.
It's pretty quiet today, but the main bit of DVD news you'll want to
hear about is that Warner has officially set Syriana
for release on 6/20 (SRP $28.98). We expect separate anamorphic
widescreen and full frame versions to be available, each with Dolby
Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include deleted scenes, the Make
a Change, Make a Difference documentary and A
Conversation with George Clooney. We expect additional
features to be announced shortly, along with an HD-DVD release (possibly
day-and-date). We'll post art and more details as soon as they're
We also have a little something for you Pink Floyd fans today. I should
have posted this a long time ago, but somehow it slipped under my radar.
Sony Music has announced the long-awaited DVD release of Pink
Floyd: Pulse, the 1994 concert performance, for 9/12 (SRP
$24.98). The 2-disc set will include Dolby Digital 5.1 audio and tons of
extras. We also hear that Pink Floyd's Animals
album is due for release on the high-resolution SACD audio format later
in 2006 (at least in Europe).
Here's the cover art for Pulse,
along with Criterion's upcoming release of Luis Buñuel's Viridiana
(5/23) and Paramount's Beavis &
Butt-head: The Mike Judge Collection - Volume 2 (both 6/6)...
Around the site today, we've got more anticipated street dates from our
industry sources for major upcoming releases. You'll find that in
Rumor Mill, as always.
We've also updated all the DVD format stats we track (above)
Player Sales numbers for the first week of March.
And brother Planner over at TAP
has turned in reviews of a pair of new music DVD titles: HipO/Universal
Live - In the Still of the Night and Shout! Factory's
Dick Cavett Show: Comic Legends. Matt's checked in with a pair
of DualDisc reviews as well, including Sire/Rhino's
Heads: True Stories and
Heads: Naked (great discs both).
By the way, if you guys are in the L.A. area this weekend, Anchor Bay
Entertainment is going to be hosting a DVD signing with director Stuart
Gordon this Sunday, March 26th, in honor of the release of the first
Masters of Horror anthology titles
next week. The event will be held at Noon (Pacific) at the Dark
Delicacies Bookstore in Burbank (4213 W. Burbank Boulevard -
818-556-6660). Should be a lot of fun, so do drop on by if you can.
Okay, that's it for another week. Have a great weekend and we'll see
(3/23/06 - UPDATED
AT 3 PM PST - ORIGINALLY POSTED AT 12:01 AM PST)
Well... we're certainly excited to finally get our hands on HD-DVD here
at The Bits, and I know we're not
alone. However, it's looking like it'll be a few more weeks before
anyone gets to really kick the tires. In the wake of Warner delaying
their initial HD-DVD titles until 4/18...
has now officially announced that it's delaying their first HD-DVD
players too. The HD-A1 and HDX-A1 are now tentatively expected to
arrive in stores in mid-April, to coincide with the release of Warner's
first discs. All this means that the HD-DVD camp is losing more of its
valuable first-to-market edge over Blu-ray Disc, which is expected to
debut in May (with Lionsgate and Sony's first discs due on 5/23, along
with players from Samsung and Pioneer). Toshiba's move has apparently
forced a few retailers to pull advertising/media buys that had been
planned for next week to promote the launch. You can read more on this
at the link provided above (at Video Business),
as well as
(at Home Media Retailing) and
(at ars technica).
Around the site today, we've got a dandy double dose of Adam Jahnke for
you all to enjoy. First up, he checks in with
latest edition of The Bottom Shelf, in which he looks at
the work of inde DVD distributor Mondo Macabro. The column includes
reviews of 4 new Mondo titles on disc, including the
Deliver Us from Evil: Uncut Special Edition,
Blood: Uncut Euro Version,
from Hell: Double Disk Special Edition and
Deathless Devil/Tarkan Versus the Vikings: Turkish Pop Cinema Double
Adam has also delivered
new edition of his Jahnke's Electric Theatre, in which he
comments on a few films recently released to your local cineplex,
including V for Vendetta, Ultraviolet,
The Libertine and The
Hills Have Eyes. He even reviews the recent Oliver
Twist, now available on DVD.
Outta be something there for everyone, so enjoy!
Back tomorrow. Stay tuned...
We've got something cool for you
DVD Cover Art fans today. Our own Russell Hammond has not only
updated the section with TONS of great new cover artwork, he's
completely redesigned it as well! You can now find all the art for the
whole year, complete with an index by release date. Russell's worked
VERY hard to get this done for you guys, so be sure to drop him an
e-mail to say thanks.
And keep in mind, you can preorder the titles through our Amazon links
to help support our work here at The Bits.
Clicking on those Google banners on the art pages helps Russell get a
little something in exchange for all his efforts on our behalf too (so
please do click away). Hope you enjoy the revamped art section!
In a bit of DVD news this afternoon, Image Entertainment and Bandai
Visual have announced the release of a Patlabor:
The Movie - Limited Collector's Edition on 4/25. The 2-disc
set (SRP $89.99) will include the film in newly remastered anamorphic
widescreen video with a new Dolby Digital 5.1 audio mix, new English
dubbing and newly translated English subtitles. You'll also get original
Japanese trailers and TV spots for the film, the Making
of Patlabor: The Movie documentary (in Japanese with English
subtitles), and no less that TWO insert books. The first is a 184-pager
that includes exposition and criticism of the film, interviews with
director Mamoru Oshii and other crew members, key animation drawing
samples and more. The second book, a whopping 300-pager, includes the
complete storyboards for the film by Mamoru Oshii with English
translations. There will also be a single-disc, movie-only DVD edition
of Patlabor: The Movie (SRP
$29.99) featuring only Disc One of the set (and no books). Here's a look
at the cover art for both versions...
As you can see, Image and Home Vision are also releasing another
favorite film of mine from the 1990s on 4/25... Julio Medem's Lovers
of the Arctic Circle (SRP $19.99), also in anamorphic
widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio (Spanish with English subs).
Been waiting a while for a good Region 1 DVD release of that film!
Meanwhile, here's more cover art for Sony's 5/23 Blu-ray Disc
And I believe I promised you art for those three Synapse DVDs we
announced the other day too. Here's Rock 'n'
Roll Nightmare: Special Edition (6/27), Stalingrad:
Special Edition (5/30) and Singapore
Sling (also 5/30)...
Don't forget the first new South Park
of the season tonight on Comedy Central. Isaac Heyes might be gone, but
We've got another early update for you today, so get your coffee and
park yer butts in your office chairs for the next few minutes. Hey...
says you've gotta slack off once in a while, right?
We'll start with
Doogan's Views column from Todd, featuring his thoughts on
the recent Academy Awards, along with reviews of 9 new and recent DVD
releases, including Paramount's
Warriors: Unrated Director's Cut, Lionsgate's
Avengers: The Movie and
(aka Kairo), Synapse's
Me Die a Woman: Transgendered Edition, and Subversive Cinema's
Candy Snatchers: Deluxe Collector's Edition,
Baseball: Special Edition and
Also this morning, we've got more information from our industry sources
for you on the anticipated (and yet to be announced) DVD releases of
Below, Nanny McPhee,
Underworld Evolution, Freedomland
and When a Stranger Calls. You'll
find all that in
Rumor Mill today, so don't miss it.
On the DVD news front, 20th Century Fox has announced that Big
Momma's House 2 will hit DVD on 5/9. So you know... plan your
Here at the site today, we've added an additional
to the list of those already running. This one gives you the chance to
win copies of Warner's
Berkeley Collection and
the Crypt: The Complete Third Season. We've also extended the
contest for another week. All of the contests will now run until Noon
(Pacific) on Sunday, March 26th. Click on the links to enter and good
And on the lighter side this morning, you know that
you-knew-it-was-coming media war between
Park and Scientology? Oh, it's on. It's SO on. I keep hearing
Lewis Black's voice: "Scientology?! Why... it's got science right
in the name!" I don't know what's more funny, the situation itself
or the media's coverage of it. Trey Parker and Matt Stone vs. Tom Crooze
and the late L. Ron Hubbard? Yeah, I'll buy those season tickets. Floor
seats, please. I got $5 says Tom gets even more annoying before all this
is over. And you just wait until Professor Chaos enters the fray.
Muwhaha! Muwhahaha! MUWHAHAHAHA!!!!
To quote George Takei, "Oh my..."
Stay tuned. ;-)
(LATE UPDATE - 3/20/06 -
1:30 PM PST)
Okay... more news and announcements to report today...
First up, Universal has officially announced the DVD release of Ang
Lee's Brokeback Mountain for 4/4
(SRP $29.98). Separate anamorphic widescreen and full frame versions
will be available. Extras will include 4 featurettes (On
Being a Cowboy, Directing from the
Heart: Ang Lee, From Script to
Screen: Interviews with Larry McMurtry & Dana Ossana and
Sharing the Story: The Making of Brokeback
Also today, The Criterion Collection has officially unveiled a trio of
new DVD releases for June: Maurice Pialat's À
nos amours (cat #337), Richard Linklater's Dazed
and Confused (#336) and Jack Woods' Equinox
Warner has announced the Classic Musicals
Collection: Classic Musicals from the Dream Factory box set
(4/25 - SRP $59.92), including It's Always
Fair Weather, Til the Clouds Roll
By, Ziegfeld Follies,
Three Little Words and Summer
Stock. They've also announced a Clarke
Gable: The Signature Collection box set (6/20 - SRP also
$59.92), which will include Boom Town,
China Seas, Dancing
Lady, Mogambo, San
Francisco and Wife vs. Secretary,
along with the Clark Gable: Tall, Dark &
Handsome documentary (hosted by Liam Neeson) and vintage
featurettes and musical shorts.
20th Century Fox has added Time Tunnel:
Season 1, Volume 2 to their 6/6 slate, with The
Mary Tyler Moore Show: Season 4 and NYPD
Blue: Season 4 following on 6/20. 30
Days: Season 1 rounds out the month on 6/27, along with Damon
Wayans: Still Standing and Red
We also have word that MGM & Sony's 2-disc Platoon:
20th Anniversary Collector's Edition (due 5/30) will include
anamorphic widescreen video (from a new HD transfer), Dolby Digital &
DTS 5.1 audio, audio commentary by director Oliver Stone, a second
commentary by military supervisor Captain Dale Dye, deleted and extended
scenes (with commentary by Stone), new interviews with Stone and Vietnam
veterans, 5 behind-the-scenes documentaries (Creating
the Nam, One War, Many
Stories, Raw Wounds: The Legacy of
Platoon, Snapshot in Time:
1967-1968 and Tour of the Inferno),
the Preparing for Nam
featurette, the film's theatrical trailer and TV spots, and an 8-page "journal"
Meanwhile, Synapse has announced a trio of great new DVDs. Look for the
Stalingrad: Special Edition and
Singapore Sling on 5/30, with the
Rock 'N' Roll Nightmare: Special Edition
following on 6/27. Stalingrad will
include all three original German/Russian documentaries (The
Attack, The Kessel and
The Doom) in their original uncut
forms, all in anamorphic widescreen video, with additional footage (in
the English dubbed version), deleted interview segments and more. Singapore
Sling appears for the first time on home video here in the
States, and will include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 2.0
mono audio, a still gallery and the theatrical trailer. Rock
'N' Roll Nightmare will feature anamorphic widescreen video,
Dolby Digital 5.1 audio (along with the original mono), commentary (with
director John Fasano and star Jon-Mikl Thor), the Revelations
of a Rock 'N' Roll Warrior, Rock
'N' Shock Memories and Creating a
Child-Wolf featurettes, music videos for Energy
and We Live to Rock, a new video
introduction by Jon-Mikl Thor and liner notes by Ian Jane. We'll have
cover art up tomorrow.
In other news today, Paramount has apparently reached a deal with Soros
Strategic Partners LP and Dune Entertainment II LLC to sell the
DreamWorks library - all 59 live-actions films released through 9/15/05.
The deal is worth approximately $600 million, and Paramount will serve
as the home video distributor. You can read more
at Home Media Retailing.
Our old friend (and longtime DVD producer)
Kenny has joined forces with The Cannery to form Cannery Productions,
a new behind-the-scenes documentary, DVD special features and original
programming production company. JM, as some of you may know, was the
creative producer behind such great DVD releases as Willy
Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, A
Christmas Story: 20th Anniversary Special Edition and both
Evening with Kevin Smith titles
(among MANY others). We wish him all the best!
at CNN/Money, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer says that his
company is going to capitalize on Sony's delay in getting the Blu-ray
Disc-enabled PlayStation 3 to market, in an effort to capture greater
market share for their Xbox 360 game system. No surprise there, but how
effective Microsoft will be remains to be seen.
Also today, there's
interview with George Lucas over at Time.com, in which the
he talks about the future of filmmaking and the industry's conversion to
digital production and distribution. Lucas doesn't have much faith in
either HD disc format - he believes the future is downloading. It's
definitely worth a read.
Around the site today, we've updated the
DVD Player Sales numbers to include the complete month of
February. We've also updated many of the other stats we track (above).
By the way, Matt and I had a funny experience last week. There's a
theater here in the OC that runs "classic" films from the 70s,
80s and 90s on Wednesday nights, and we've been checking some of the
out. Last week's was supposed to be Alex Proyas's Dark
City... but someone at the archive pulled the wrong print. We
got Dark City alright... the 1950
William Dieterle film noir version, starring Charlton Heston! It was
actually pretty cool to see an old film like that on the big screen.
Naturally, however, the audience - expecting the Proyas film - was a
little peeved. Someone started sassing off to the screen during the
film, and pretty soon half the audience had something to say. It was
like sitting through a live episode of Mystery
Science Theater 3000! Very strange night, let me tell you.
Here's cover art for Universal's Brokeback
Mountain, Disney's Dumbo: Big Top
Edition (6/6) and Criterion's Dazed
Back tomorrow with a new Doogan's Views
from Todd - no kidding! Stay tuned...
(EARLY UPDATE - 3/20/06 -
3 AM PST)
Well... those of you who have been waiting on the edge of your seats
Maxwell's latest Classic Coming Attractions column can
rest easy, for it's finally here! In this installment, Barrie runs down
the list of classic Best Picture winners that are available (or not) on
DVD. He reviews a trio of recent Oscar nominated films - 20th Century
the Line, and Sony's
Squid and the Whale and
- followed by 13 additional classic titles including Mackinac Media's
of the 30's Characters,
Original Classics from the Fleischer Studio,
Rare, Lost and Strange Cartoons!,
for Victory and
Tall Texan, Sony's
Pike, and Warner's
Classics: Volume Two - The Power of Media box set, including
the new 2-disc SEs of
the President's Men and
And, as always, Barrie runs down all the latest classic release
announcements as well, including a ton of new Warner DVD information.
Don't miss it!
Meanwhile, also on the review front, John Dunphy over at our
MusicTAP site has given
Colours and Sound DVD a spin on your behalf.
In new DVD announcements today, Warner has finally revealed the much
anticipated release of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
for 6/13 (SRP $27.95). Extras will include a gag reel, the theatrical
trailer and a behind-the-scenes piece, Long
Shadows Sharp Tongue: A Noir Documentary.
Also, Sony has revealed a new 2-disc Platoon:
Collector's Edition for release on 5/30 (SRP $24.98). Yes, we
do mean the Oliver Stone film. They'll also street Cirque
du Soleil: Lovesick that same day.
And New Line has set Getting Played
We'll leave you this morning with a look at the cover art for Warner's
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, as well as
Fox's new Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid:
The Ultimate Collector's Edition (due 6/6) and The
Ringer (due 5/16)...
Afternoon, folks! We've got a lot of ground to cover today, but how's
about we start with this... your first look at the cover art for
Warner's first three HD-DVD releases (as announced yesterday)? Here's
the cover art...
PLUS, we've also got a look at one of the special feature options for
Warner's forthcoming Batman Begins
HD-DVD. It looks to me like a picture-in-picture video commentary
option, with live video of actor Christian Bale talking about the film
playing over (and along with) the film itself...
It sure is going to be interesting to see what really talented DVD
producers come up with in terms of using HD-DVD and Blu-ray
interactivity to create new kinds of special features. By the way, nice
to see that Amazon is using our shot of the Batman
Begins HD-DVD packaging from CES!
Back with more soon. Stay tuned...
Hey, folks. Sorry for the late update today. We had a couple things
going on behind-the-scenes here at The Bits
that delayed our regularly scheduled post. Barrie's column will be
posted tomorrow, never fear.
We did want to jump in here quickly this evening, to let you all know
that Warner Home Video has issued a press release with an update on
their HD-DVD release plans. Warner now says that their first three
HD-DVD titles will officially street on 4/18 (catalog-priced at SRP
$28.99) and will include Million Dollar Baby,
The Last Samurai and Joel
Schumacher's The Phantom of the Opera.
Extras will be basically the same as what was on the existing DVD
versions. The studio will then follow with 17 additional titles in the
weeks thereafter. These will include Batman
Training Day, The
Matrix and some combination of those titles already
tentatively announced at CES in January (which included Twister,
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,
Lethal Weapon, Unforgiven,
Kiss Bang Bang, Swordfish,
Saddles, Dukes of Hazzard,
Full Metal Jacket, Rumor
Has It, Terminator 3: Rise of the
Machines, Charlie & Chocolate
Factory, The Green Mile: Special
Edition, Ocean's Twelve
and Troy). According to the press
"Warner Home Video HD DVDs will offer
resolution six times higher than standard definition DVDs,
extraordinarily vibrant contrast and color in addition to beautifully
crisp sound (with up to 7.1 audio). HD DVD also introduces instant
access to extra features with the debut of a seamless menu-bar that
allows viewers to enjoy features and settings without leaving or
interrupting the film."
Select titles will include HD-specific bonus features that have not
been available on standard DVD. New release titles will be priced at
$34.99, with hybrid DVD/HD-DVD titles priced at $39.99. You can read
more on this
at Video Business. By the way, that story contains word
that Image Entertainment and their Criterion Collection label are going
to sit out both HD formats until manufacturing costs drop.
We expect more details (and cover artwork) on these first Warner
(LATE UPDATE - 3/15/06 - 6
Okay... we've got a couple of new announcements for you, so more on
Toshiba's HD-DVD tour in a minute.
First up, Sony is now saying that it will launch its Blu-ray
Disc-capable PlayStation 3 videogame system in both the U.S. and Japan
simultaneously in early November. At a press conference today in Tokyo,
Sony Computer Entertainment president Ken Kutaragi blamed the setback on
Blu-ray Disc copyright issues (expected to be finalized next month) and
apologized for the launch delay. No specific launch date in November was
given, however, and no price point was revealed either. You can read
at Video Business and
at Home Media Retailing.
Speaking of Blu-ray, we have the final cover art for five of Sony's
first-wave BD titles (all announced to street on 5/23). And in the
interest of format fairness, here's the cover art for the first HD-DVD
as well, Goldhil Entertainment's Chronos:
HD-DVD Digital Reference Series Edition (expected on 3/28)...
Chronos can be pre-ordered now at
Amazon.com, while the Blu-ray titles are available for "e-mail me
when available" notification.
Also today, on the regular DVD front, Warner has announced that they'll
release Duma on 5/16 and Hiroshima:
BBC History of World War II on 7/18.
Fox has also announced a Butch Cassidy &
the Sundance Kid: Collector's Edition for release on 6/6.
Also coming on that date is Time Tunnel:
Season One, Volume Two. Meanwhile, on 6/20, you'll get The
Mary Tyler Moore: The Complete Fourth Season and that Charlie
Chan Collection: Volume 1 box set we mentioned the other day,
which we've learned will include Charlie Chan
in London (1934), Charlie Chan in
Paris (1935), Charlie Chan in
Egypt (1935) and Charlie Chan in
Now... back to Toshiba's HD-DVD roadshow event at Fry's in the City of
Industry from this morning. The presentation itself was set-up in the
Fry's demonstration room. Several Toshiba execs were on hand to answer
questions, nice people all. Turns out there was a press event scheduled
for Noon, to which I hadn't been invited (d'oh!), but into which I
stumbled fortuitously as I so often do (not sure what that means for my
odds of getting a review deck anytime soon, but I'll give Tosh the
benefit of the doubt). Ah, the curse of being a dot.com. Anyway, the
event itself consisted of a 10-minute demonstration of the hardware and
the HD-DVD format's capabilities, along with time for Q&A. Toshiba's
HD-XA1 was connected to a Toshiba DLP rear-projection display via HDMI,
and you'll be glad (and unsurprised) to learn that it looked and sounded
great. Unfortunately, there's still no completed HD-DVD software titles
to play on the HD-XA1, so we were treated to the same demo material
we've seen for the last few weeks now. It included some side-by-side
comparisons of 1080i high-definition and standard definition video,
along with trailers for films like Warner's The
Corpse Bride and Universal's King
Kong. No really new information was offered at the event, but
I did get the chance to kick the tires on the player for a few minutes.
Seems like a solid unit and, as I said, the footage I've seen so far
looks great. Unfortunately, the demo disc didn't have any kind of menu
screens, so there was really no way to gauge the full functionality of
Answers to a couple questions I asked: Once again, the Toshiba players'
compliance with AACS means that whether or not full 1080 video will be
passed to displays via analog outputs (to non-HDMI equipped devices) is
going to be up to the software providers (read: the studios). The first
two Toshiba HD-DVD players will NOT output full 1080p video (not that
1080i is slumming it). They'll also not play DVD-Audio discs (a bit of a
surprise) or SACD discs (no surprise at all). They will be capable of
playing your current DVD-Video and CD discs, and they'll upconvert your
movie DVDs via HDMI. Toshiba's demonstration guru, Andy Farr (good to
meet you, Andy!), says that he's tested the HDMI/DVI adaptability and it
DOES work (so if your TV is equipped with DVI but not HDMI inputs,
you're still good to go). The players will also ship with full basic
interactivity, but compatibility with the iHD interactive layer will
likely require firmware updates (available online from Toshiba at a
I was going to take some pictures of the demo set-up, but it's really
nothing you haven't already seen if you've checked out
CES photo gallery. By the way, Toshiba reps say a LOT of our
readers have been showing up at their events around the country these
last few weeks. Here's where they're going to be the rest of this week
and next week (go
here and click "HD-DVD Tour" to see the exact store
3/16 - Townson, MD - Tweeter
3/16 - Kansas City, MO - NFM
3/16 - Jantzen Beach, OR - Video Only
3/16 - Nashville, TN - Electronic Express
3/16 - Madison, WI - American TV
3/17 - Enfield, CT - Bernie's
3/18 - Franklin, TN - Electronic Express
3/21 - Woodbury, MN - Ultimate Electronics
3/21 - Spokane, WA - Huppin's/One Call
3/21 - Grand Rapids, MI - Classic Stereo
3/21 - Columbus, OH - HH Gregg
3/22 - Plano, TX - Fry's Electronics
3/22 - Minnetonka, MN - Ultimate Electronics
3/22 - Englewood, CA - Ultimate Electronics
3/22 - Miami, FL - Brand Smart
3/23 - Dallas, TX - Tweeter
3/23 - Thornton, CO - Ultimate Electronics
3/23 - Missoula, MT - Vann's
3/23 - Kalamazoo, MI - Classic Stereo
3/23 - Coral Gables, FL - Tweeter
3/23 - Cleveland, OH - HH Gregg
3/24 - Dallas, TX - Ed Kellum
Do check the tour out if you can. It's a good chance to see HD-DVD in
person. Plus, at some point in the next few weeks, Toshiba might
actually have some final movie software to show you. Don't forget to
tell 'em The Bits sent you!
One last note today... I forgot to mention this earlier this week, but
we've kicked off SEVEN new
here at the site, giving each of you the chance to win copies of
5: Legend of the Rangers and
and the Goblet of Fire (plus Noble Collection gift
certificates for Potter
collectibles), Anchor Bay's
Complete Third Season, two new volumes of Geneon's
Garland Show and
several of their
new TV anime titles too, Magnolia's
Born into This,
of Ordinary Gentlemen, and finally Hallmark's
Apprentice. The contests will all run until Noon (Pacific) on
Sunday, March 26th except Potter,
which ends this Sunday, March 19th. Click on the links to get started
and good luck!
We'll be back later tonight with Barrie's column (for early tomorrow
morning). Stay tuned...
(EARLY UPDATE - 3/15/06 - 10 AM PST)
We'll be back later this afternoon with Barrie Maxwell's column, but
first I wanted to let you L.A.-area HD hounds know that we're headed on
up to Fry's Electronics in the City of Industry (13401 Crossroads Pkwy
South) this morning to check out Toshiba's travelling HD-DVD roadshow.
Two weeks out from the format's originally planned launch, we're hoping
that they've got more than a demo disc to show. Anyway, if you've got
nothing better to do this morning, maybe we'll see you there.
Back later with a report and that column. Stay tuned...
We've got a few more new DVD release announcements for you today. First
up, Sony has set a number of DVD/UMD 2-packs for release on 5/23,
including The Dark Crystal
(DVD/UMD), Escape from New York
(DVD/UMD), Labyrinth (DVD/UMD),
Resident Evil: Apocalypse - Special Edition
(DVD/UMD) and Species (DVD/UMD).
We've updated the
Release List accordingly. Also newly announced for 5/23 by the
studio are The Dirty Dozen: Double Feature
(including The Dirty Dozen: The Fatal Mission
and The Dirty Dozen: The Deadly Mission)
and Jim Henson's The Storyteller: The
Definitive Collection (including Storyteller
Collection & Greek Myths).
Warner Bros. has set Face the Music
for release on 6/13. Also, remember all those John Ford and John Wayne
films Warner announced a few days ago? Well, the studio has finally
revealed that they'll all be available in a pair of new box set
collections on 6/6. The 8-film John
Wayne/John Ford Film Collection (SRP $79.92) will include
The Searchers: Ultimate Collector's Edition,
Stagecoach: Special Edition, Fort
Apache, The Long Voyage Home,
Wings of Eagles, She
Wore a Yellow Ribbon, They Were
Expendable and 3 Godfathers.
Meanwhile, the 5-film John Ford Film
Collection will include (SRP $59.92) Cheyenne
Autumn, The Informer,
The Lost Patrol, Mary
of Scotland and Sergeant Rutledge.
Also, we have word that Lionsgate is going to be releasing Tim
Sullivan's 2001 Maniacs next week
(on 3/21). The DVD (SRP $26.98) will include audio commentary with
Sullivan and actor Robert Engund, a second commentary with Sullivan,
co-writer Chris Kobin and producer Chris Tuffin, deleted/extended scenes
with outtakes, an alternate opening with John Landis, an audition reel
and the Inside the Asylum 6-part
documentary (including Welcome to Pleasant
The Devil Went Down to Georgia,
Sex and Slaughter, The
Gory Details and The Grand Finale).
Finally, Paramount has announced The Martin &
Lewis Collection, Volume 1 for release on 6/13. The set will
include My Friend Irma, My
Friend Irma Goes West, That's My
Boy, Sailor Beware,
Jumping Jacks, The
Caddy, Scared Stiff and
Money from Home.
Here's cover art for 2001 Maniacs,
along with Lionsgate's The Triangle
(3/28) and Crash: 2-Disc Director's Cut
Edition (4/4), Paramount's Numb3rs:
The Complete First Season (5/30) and JAG:
The Complete First Season (6/20), and finally The BBC's Doctor
Who: The Complete First Series (7/4)...
Back with a new column from Barrie Maxwell tomorrow morning. Stay
(LATE UPDATE - 3/13/06 -
3:45 PM PST)
We've just posted
latest edition of The Electric Theatre, featuring reviews
of the recent Oscar broadcast, along with the films The
LolliLove and Me
and You and Everyone We Know.
On the DVD release front this afternoon, we've learned that Disney is
going to be debuting a Dumbo: Big Top Edition
Buena Vista will also be releasing Glory
Road that same day.
Meanwhile, 20th Century Fox has set a Garfield
the Movie: The Purrrfect Collector's Edition for release on
6/6. Also on 6/6, look for Charlie Chan:
Collection One (no details are yet available). They'll street
Dharma & Greg: Season One on
Also, The Weinstein Company has announced that they'll release Transamerica
on DVD on 5/23 (SRP $28.95). Extras will include Dolly Parton's Travelin
Through music video, a behind-the-scenes featurette on the
making of the video and feature-length audio commentary. The case's
sleeve will also have a lenticular hologram "transforming"
Felicity Huffman's character.
Finally today, we'd like to take a moment to acknowledge
passing of accomplished stage actress Maureen Stapleton today. Her
work on the silver screen included such classics as Reds
and Bye Bye Birdie. She was 80.
Back tomorrow with more. Stay tuned...
(EARLY UPDATE - 3/13/06
- 1 PM PST)
Afternoon, everyone! We're going to kick things off this week with some
new DVD release announcements... and some Blu-ray Disc announcements
too. We've also got the first official word from Warner that they will
likely not make their planned 3/28 HD-DVD release date.
First up, the regular DVD news: Universal has revealed Monk:
Season Four for release on 6/27.
New Line has set Face the Music
and Getting Played to street on
Fox has announced Like Mike 2: Streetball
for release on 6/6, with End of the Spear
following on 6/13 and Red Riding Hood
expected on 6/27.
Meanwhile, Sony has announced The Berenstain
Bears: Fun Family Adventures, Dragon
Tales: Let's Be Brave!, Hollow Man
2, a Hollow Man: SE/Hollow Man 2
2-pack, London, a London/Spun
(R-rated edition) 2-pack and a London/Spun
(Unrated edition) 2-pack, all for release on 5/23.
Sony has also officially listed their first Blu-ray Disc titles on
their retailer website. Set to be released on 5/23 (as expected), they
include 50 First Dates, Hitch,
A Knight's Take, Resident
Evil: Apocalypse, The Fifth
Element, House of Flying Daggers,
The Last Waltz and xXx.
SRP for each is $28.95. There's no word yet on extra features.
It's worth noting that
has apparently stopped taking online pre-orders for Warner's HD-DVD
titles (which had been planned for release on 3/28) until the
official release details become more solid.
division president Ron Sanders is now confirming what we've been
expecting - that there's likely going to be a delay from the
planned 3/28 date of at least one or two weeks (the exact timeframe
remains unclear). Neither Universal or Paramount expects to street
HD-DVD titles before April (and neither has announced their specific
plans to retailers either). Toshiba, however, says that they'll still
have some 10,000 HD-DVD players in stores by the end of this month. One
good thing for the HD-DVD camp -
now says they're going to support both HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc and
will release players later this year.
Warner HAS, meanwhile, announced the DVD release of the BBC's new Doctor
Who: The Complete First Season for 7/4 (SRP $99.98). That's
the new Doctor Who, that's running
on the SciFi channel.
If you're looking for something a little more off-beat, Media Blasters
will release Zatoichi: The TV Series, Volume
3 tomorrow (on 3/14), and Volume 4
on 6/13. If you're a fan of the blind swordsman, you definitely don't
want to miss these TV DVDs. They're outstanding. Watch for a review
Meanwhile, on the anime front, Bandai has announced Cowboy
Bebop: Remix - Volume 5 for release on 5/9, with the final
entry in the series, Volume 6, due
And if you've been following Manga's Ghost
in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - 2ng GIG, Volume 4 will be
available in both regular and limited editions on 3/21.
We'll be back with a new column in a few hours. Stay tuned...
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