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-Newsletter est. 4/15/97-
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page updated: 9/11/06

My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 9/5/06 - 8/15/06)

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Morning, folks. First thing's first. We want to take a moment to acknowledge the passing of Steve Irwin, a.k.a. The Croc Hunter, this weekend down in Australia. His death while filming a nature documentary was just a fluke one-in-a-million thing, and it's really a shame to lose someone who cared as much about preserving nature and wildlife as he did, not to mention someone so young (he was just 44). Anyone who ever watched his TV series on The Discovery Channel or Animal Planet was struck by his enthusiasm and engaging personality, and if his daring exploits didn't get you, his boisterous "Crikey!" probably did. Khaki's the new black, at least for today. Our hats off to you, mate.

Now then... there's some big DVD news today. Sony has officially announced the 11/14 DVD release of The Da Vinci Code, in separate 2-disc full frame and anamorphic widescreen editions (SRP $29.96 each). Each will feature more than 90 minutes worth of extras. A gift set will also be available that day (SRP $80.95), as will a UMD version. The gift set will include the DVD along with a working replica of the "cryptex" prop and a replica of Langdon's journal from the film. Oddly, there is as yet no Blu-ray Disc version announced, though we don't expect that to remain the case for long (we're guessing they're working on more advanced BD-Java features for the release). The 90 minutes worth of extras were all shot in high-definition, so expect them to be presented in 1080p on the Blu-ray Disc when it IS finally revealed.

In other news today, Classic Media has announced the release of The Dick Tracy Show: The Complete Animated Crime Series on 9/26. The 4-disc set will include every episode of the classic 1960s series in the original full frame.

Also, Warner Bros. has finally revealed the 11/28 release of Superman: The Theatrical Serials Collection, tied no doubt to the soon-to-be-announced release of Superman Returns. The 4-disc set will contain both the 1948 and 1950 serials starring Kirk Alyn (SRP $39.98).

Around The Bits today, we've kicked off SEVEN new Contests, giving each of you the chance to take home copies of Warner's Supernatural: The Complete First Season, The Flintstones: The Complete Sixth Season and The Batman: The Complete Second Season, the BBC's Hustle: Complete Season One, TimeLife's The Odd Couple: Season One, and IFC Film's American Gun and Lonesome Jim. These contests will run ONE week, until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, September 10th. We're also giving you the chance to win copies of Criterion's awesome new DVD editions of Seven Samurai, Brazil and Amarcord. The Criterion contests will run TWO weeks, until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, September 17th. Click on the links to get started and good luck!

Finally today, saving the best for last, we're pleased to bring you the latest installment of Barrie Maxwell's Classic Coming Attractions column, featuring reviews of Universal's Double Indemnity: Legacy Series, Warner's Grand Prix: Special Edition and Film Noir Classic Collection, Volume 3 (5 films), Fox's The Clark Gable Collection (3 films), Grapevine Video's Films of Bing Crosby (4 films), Paramount's Perry Mason: Season 1, Volume 1 and Acorn Media's Rebus: Set 1. As usual, Barrie also runs down the latest classic release announcements.

And we'll leave you with a bit of new DVD cover art this morning. Here's Warner's Superman: The Theatrical Serials Collection and the HD-DVD release of The Adventures of Robin Hood (9/26), along with Sony's An Evening with Kevin Smith 2: Evening Harder (11/7)...

Superman: The Theatrical Serials CollectionThe Adventures of Robin Hood (HD-DVD)An Evening with Kevin Smith 2: Evening Harder

Enjoy Barrie's column, and stay tuned...


Today's post is going to be a fairly quick one. It's been a very busy week... and Sarah and I celebrate our 16th wedding anniversary today. So you know... priorities.

First up today, there's something I wanted to mention before I talk about other subjects: I've just gotten the chance to see Warner's newly remastered Blade Runner DVD... and let me tell you, if you love this film even half as much as we do, the new disc is an absolute MUST have. The new transfer makes the original DVD - which was one of the very first discs Warner ever released back in March of 1997 - look like dog chow by comparison. Contrast, color, detail... all are dramatically improved with the new anamorphic transfer. Like the first DVD, the newly remastered disc is the 1992 Director's Cut and it's movie-only. As a new multi-disc Blade Runner special edition DVD box set is already planned by Warner for release next year (to celebrate the film's 25th anniversary), this remastered DVD is only going to be available for four months. But it retails for just $19.98 (it's on sale at Amazon for just $13.99) and like I said... if you're really a fan and you've been living with the crappy original DVD release, that's a small price to pay for a much better transfer to hold you over until the box set next year. The DVD street date has been moved up by Warner to this coming Tuesday (9/5) from the original 9/12 street date, so when you're out buying your DVDs next week definitely keep it in mind.

Around here at The Bits today, we're pleased to being you the latest installment of our own Adam Jahnke's much loved Jahnke's Electric Theatre. Sadly, it's also going to be the last installment for a while. Adam's got a lot of things on his plate at the moment - stuff that's going to demand all of his attention for a while. But don't worry... he'll be back again later in 2006. On a related note, however, all of us here at The Bits want to take a moment to honor the passing of one of our own unsung feline staffers... Adam's pal, DVD review assistant, long-time boon companion and all-around friend, Chris Jahnke. When you spend as much time as we do reviewing films and DVDs... and sitting at the computer writing up your thoughts on them... well, you'd be surprised the difference your animals make in the process. They're always right there beside you on the couch, or draped across your computer keyboard for moral support. Sarah and I, Todd, Matt... we're all very attached to our animals, so we know how hard it is to lose them. Our heartfelt sympathies to Adam and his wife Tisha for the loss of their friend.

Chris Jahnke

Okay... some news: Warner Bros. has just announced that they'll debut 15 HD-DVD titles for release in France, Germany, Spain and the UK later in 2006. Among the expected titles are Rumor Has It, Constantine, Goodfellas, Troy and Lethal Weapon. The exact dates are TBA, but the release is expected to coincide with the availability of the first HD-DVD players in the European market. Also expected are a large slate of Blu-ray Disc titles as well (timed to coincide with the first European BD players) including Firewall, Syriana, Full Metal Jacket, Training Day and Space Cowboys. Additional details will follow in the weeks ahead.

Fox has announced a few more new DVD releases for November. On 11/7, look for a Carousel: 50th Anniversary Edition, The King and I: 50th Anniversary Edition and a South Pacific: Collector's Edition. All three are new 2-disc sets with extensive extras (SRP $26.98 each). A Rodgers & Hammerstein Box Set Collection of all three of these titles, along with the 2-disc SEs of Oklahoma!, The Sound of Music and State Fair, will be available on 11/7 as well (SRP $99.98).

Meanwhile, Criterion has just announced the 10/24 release of a spectacular new 50-film collector's book/DVD box set combination, entitled Essential Art House: 50 Years of Janus Films. Carrying a whopping $650 price tag, the set will include the Criterion DVDs of Alexander Nevsky (1938), Ashes and Diamonds (1858), L'Avventura (1960), Ballad of a Soldier (1959), Beauty and the Beast (1946), Black Orpheus (1959), Brief Encounter (1945), The Fallen Idol (1948), Fires on the Plain (1959), Fists in the Pocket (1965), Floating Weeds (1959), Forbidden Games (1952), The 400 Blows (1959), Grand Illusion (1937), Häxan (1922), Ikiru (1952), The Importance of Being Ernest (1952), Ivan the Terrible, Part II (1958), Le Jour se léve (1939), Jules and Jim (1962), Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), Knife in the Water (1962), The Lady Vanishes (1938), The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943), Loves of a Blonde (1965), M (1931), M. Hulot's Holiday (1953), Miss Julie (1951), Pandora's Box (1929), Pépé le Moko (1937), Il Posto (1961), Pygmalion (1938), Rashomon (1950), Richard III (1955), The Rules of the Game (1939), Seven Samurai (1954), The Seventh Seal (1957), The Spirit of the Beehive (1973), La Strada (1954), Summertime (1955), The Third Man (1949), The 39 Steps (1935), Ugetsu (1953), Umberto D. (1952), The Virgin Spring (1960), Virigiana (1961), The Wages of Fear (1953), The White Sheik (1952), Wild Strawberries (1957), The Great Chase (1962), The Love Goddess (1965) and Paul Robeson: Tribute to an Artist (1979). Whew! Also included in the box will be "a lavishly illustrated hardcover book that tells the story of Janus Films through an essay by film historian Peter Cowie, a tribute from Martin Scorsese, and all new extensive notes on all fifty films, plus cast and credit listings and U.S. premiere information." That is one HELLUVA great classic film collection. Very nice indeed.

In other news today, BCI is launching a new label for DVD releases, called the Deimos Brand, which will focus on classic horror, cult and sci-fi DVD releases. These will include such new and upcoming titles as the Crypt of Terror, The Spanish Horror Collection, Galaxina, Don't Answer the Phone and The Starlite Drive-In Theater series.

Also, Sony will be releasing the comedy Bottoms Up on DVD on 9/13 (SRP $24.96), for those of you who can't get enough of Paris Hilton and Jason Mewes (of Clerks fame). Paris... you know... like "cried" when she heard her own new album. 'Nuff said.

Those of you who are interested in what the newly-enhanced Star Trek episodes MIGHT look like, will be interested to check out the Trek Enhanced website, created by CG artist Daren Dochterman. Daren was one of the talented people who worked on the new effects for the Star Trek: The Motion Picture - Special Collector's Edition DVD release a few years ago. Sadly, Daren is NOT involved in CBS' new effort to upgrade The Original Series (he has a statement up on his website to that effect)... and we think that's too bad given how awesome the enhanced clips that he created look (from the episode The Doomsday Machine). In any case, his site is well worth checking out.

Finally today, we want to take a moment to acknowledge the passing of actor Glenn Ford earlier this week, at the age of 90. His list of film work is long and legendary, from The Blackboard Jungle, Gilda and The Big Heat to Cimarron, Midway and, of course, the 1978 Superman. You'll even find his picture (as Pa Kent) in a frame on the shelf of Clark Kent's Smallville home in Bryan Singer's recent Superman Returns. He will surely be missed.

Okay... we'll be back on Tuesday, after the Labor Day holiday, with that new column from Barrie Maxwell we promised a couple days ago (before it got delayed by all the high-def news). We should have a cover art update next week, a new column from Todd Doogan, and I'll have some new disc reviews too - DVD and HD if all goes well. So have a great long weekend and we'll see you then!

(LATE UPDATE - 8/31/06 - 11 AM PDT)

So what do you know? There's more big high-definition news today. 20th Century Fox has finally, officially unveiled their first batch of Blu-ray Disc titles, timed to coincide roughly with the November release of Sony's BD-equipped PlayStation 3 game system (which, believe it or not, sources are telling us may be the best and most fully-tested and functional BD player on the market initially). Fox has also unveiled it's first Blu-ray titles distributed for MGM. The Fox titles include Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven Director's Cut (with audio commentary and other select features TBA), Behind Enemy Lines (with audio commentaries and trailers), Fantastic Four (with audio commentaries and trailers), Kiss of the Dragon (with audio commentaries and trailers), The Omen (2006 - with audio commentary, featurettes, extended scenes and BD-Java features including a pop-up trivia track), The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (with audio commentaries and trailers, as well as BD-Java features including special search options, an animated pop-up trivia track and a first-person shooter game), Speed (with audio commentary, trailers and BD-Java features including a pop-up trivia track, an interactive game and special scene selection options) and The Transporter (with audio commentary and trailers) all on 11/14. Kingdom of Heaven will be released on the dual-layered 50 GB BD-ROM discs (and may be the first such title, depending on Sony's TBA release plans). Ice Age: The Meltdown follows on 11/21, day-and-date with standard DVD (extras will include commentaries, featurettes, animated shorts and the No Time for Nuts shot in high-def). All of Fox's titles will sell for SRP $39.98. All will include DTS HD Lossless Master audio, and some (Behind Enemy Lines, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Speed) will be presented using the AVC (MPEG-4) video codec. The MGM titles that Fox has revealed include The Usual Suspects and Windtalkers on 11/28 and Rocky and Bulletproof Monk on 12/5. Our High-Def Release List has been updated accordingly with all of this news. You can read more here and here.

Also today, here's the text of CBS Paramount Domestic Television's official press release on the Star Trek CG upgrade:

"Hollywood, Calif. -- STAR TREK is getting a 21st century makeover. CBS Paramount Domestic Television is releasing digitally remastered episodes of the iconic 1960s sci-fi series, with all new special effects and music, to celebrate the groundbreaking series' 40th anniversary, it was announced today by John Nogawski, president of CBS Paramount Domestic Television.

The new episodes also mark the first time in 16 years that the original STAR TREK series can be seen in broadcast syndication. The episodes will begin airing on the more than 200 stations that own the rights to the weekend broadcast syndication window starting Sept. 16 (check local listings for station and dates). All 79 episodes of the original STAR TREK series will eventually be remastered, with the first batch of episodes chosen from a list of STAR TREK fans' favorite shows.

"STAR TREK redefined science-fiction and constantly pushed the envelope with concepts that were ahead of their time," Nogawski said. "By giving the series a digital upgrade using the best technology available today, it will continue to be a leader in cutting-edge television programming as we introduce the series to a new generation of viewers."

The most noticeable change will be redoing many of the special effects, created with 1960s technology, with 21st century computer-generated imagery (CGI). That includes:

• Space ship exteriors -- The space ship Enterprise, as well as other Starships, will be replaced with state of the art CGI-created ships. The new computer-generated Enterprise is based on the exact measurements of the original model, which now rests in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

• Show opening -- The Enterprise and planets seen in the main title sequence will be redone, giving them depth and dimension for the first time.

• Galaxy shots -- All the graphics of the galaxy, so frequently seen through the window on the Enterprise's bridge, will be redone.

• Exteriors -- The battle scenes, planets and ships from other cultures (notably the Romulan Bird of Prey and Klingon Battle Cruisers) will be updated.

• Background scenes -- Some of the iconic, yet flat, matte paintings used as backdrops for the strange, new worlds explored by the Enterprise crew will get a CGI face-lift, adding atmosphere and lighting.

The refurbished episodes also feature higher quality sound for the famous opening theme. The original score by Emmy Award-winning composer Alexander Courage has been re-recorded in state-of-the-art digital stereo audio with an orchestra and a female singer belting out the famous vocals. A digitally remastered version of William Shatner's classic original recording of the 38-word "Space, the final frontier…" monologue continues to open each episode.

The remastered episodes have been converted from the original film into a High-Definition format, which gives viewers a clearer, crisper, more vibrant picture than before, even when viewed in standard definition. Once stations upgrade and start broadcasting HD signals, the episodes will be all ready for viewers to enjoy in HD."

So there you go. Busy day!

Back tomorrow with more. Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 8/31/06 - 12:01 AM PDT)

Well... it's the real deal, folks. As we first reported in The Rumor Mill the other day, and as was further confirmed by and AICN, CBS has just informed TV Guide's Insider that all 79 episodes of Gene Roddenberry's classic Star Trek: The Original Series are being given a special effects upgrade with new CG effects. Longtime Trek veterans Michael Okuda, Denise Okuda and David Rossi are apparently involved in the process to ensure that this is a class effort, as opposed to some kind of 'Where's Jar-Jar' operation. Says Mike in the Insider report: "We're taking great pains to respect the integrity and style of the original. Our goal is to always ask ourselves: What would Roddenberry have done with today's technology?" The ships will now have more detail, backgrounds will be more lively with people and activity, landscapes will now feature moving clouds, etc. The show's opening will be overhauled too, and the theme music has been re-recorded with a larger orchestra. What's more, technical goofs in the original production will apparently be fixed. Click here (or on the image below) for the article. We expect additional details to be announced by CBS shortly. As we anticipated, all of this work is being done in HD resolution (so they will likely EVENTUALLY be released on one or both of the high-def disc formats, though there are no official plans as yet). Our understanding is that the new "upgraded" episodes are part of a new syndication package to broadcast stations. The episodes are being upgraded one per week, and are being done out of order for some reason. The first upgraded ep, Balance of Terror, will apparently debut via broadcast syndication HD on 9/16. Consult your local listings. In the meantime, here's a look at the new CG Enterprise model...

Star Trek - enhanced with new CG effects

Crazy, huh? Like I said in The Rumor Mill the other day, this is a pretty cool idea... in principle. We're very cautiously excited here at The Bits, but we'll reserve judgement until we see the final result. See? Told you this was happening.

We're sure glad the Okudas are involved. That's reassuring at least. Mike's been a busy boy lately... he also recently designed the new Project Orion logo that NASA just unveiled for its new manned return to the Moon effort, and eventually manned flights to Mars (get your official patches here, folks). Looks great, Mike! Boldly go, indeed. Nice work.

Project Orion logo

Stay tuned...


Wow... have we been busy here at The Bits these last few days! There's tons of stuff going on behind-the-scenes around here. We made a trip up to Hollywood yesterday, and spent the whole day discussing the new high-definition formats with a major studio. We can't tell you any more details than that, unfortunately, but I think you'll be pleased to know that at least some of the studios are very interested in getting feedback about their high-def plans. We were very careful to let them know what we've been hearing from all of you on the subject. So know that your voice IS being heard. We should also mention that Sony is reporting to us (in light of our post from last Friday) that the issues with regard to hardware compatibility with the new 50 GB BD-ROM discs has been (or is being) resolved as well. So good news for you Blu-ray fans out there. We're going to be visiting Sony in the near future to learn more on this, so stay tuned for that.

In addition, we've been on the phone a lot in the last couple days, talking about other recent DVD news developments with our industry sources. There's never a dull moment around here, I'll tell you!

The big news today is that Warner has just announced the release of TEN new high-definition catalog titles on 9/26. Debuting on Blu-ray Disc on that day from the studio will be Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, Swordfish, Space Cowboys, Lethal Weapon 2, The Fugitive and House of Wax. Meanwhile, the studio will release The Dirty Dozen, Grand Prix, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and The Adventures of Robin Hood on HD-DVD. All of these titles will SRP for $28.99. All of the standard-definition DVD features will be included on the high-def versions. We've updated the High-Def Release List accordingly. Boy... can't WAIT to see how good The Adventures of Robin Hood might look in high-def.

Also set for regular DVD release today by Universal is After the Rain. It's due on 12/5.

Finally this morning, this would normally go in The Rumor Mill, so quality it accordingly: Our retail sources are now telling us to expect Paramount's An Inconvenient Truth on 11/21 (we'd previously heard 10/3). Just FYI.

Speaking of The Rumor Mill, the website has posted some independent confirmation of that Star Trek: The Original Series information we posted the other day. Do check it out. We're hearing that CBS and Paramount might make some kind of official announcement soon.

Back with a new column from Barrie Maxwell tomorrow. Stay tuned...


We've got more new DVD release announcements for you this morning...

First, Sony has announced the 11/7 release of Battle of the Brave, the 2-disc An Evening with Kevin Smith 2: Evening Harder, an Evening with Kevin Smith 1 & 2 2-pack and Little Man.

TV spy series fans will be pleased to hear that CBS and Paramount have set the classic Mission: Impossible: The Complete First Season for release on 12/5 (Awesome!). The 7-disc set will include 28 uncut episodes in the original full frame video with audio in remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 and the original Mono. A 5-disc Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C.: The Complete First Season follows on 12/12 (Also awesome!). So NoTorious: The Complete First Season is due on 11/21 (Much less awesome!). Finally, the mountain will deliver VH-1's Totally Awesome on 11/7 (Totally awe-- ah, screw it). Sure am glad to see Gomer Pyle finally make its way to disc. Now if only we could get C.P.O. Sharkey...

Meanwhile, Lionsgate has confirmed their September DVD slate, which kicks off on 9/5 with National Lampoon's Dorm Daze 2 (R-rated), National Lampoon's Dorm Daze 2 (Unrated), Alf: Season 4 and The Feeding. Following on 9/12 are Clifford's Big Halloween, Are You Scared, Dark Fields, Latino Kings of Comedy: Volume 1, Latino Kings of Comedy: Volume 2 and Moonlighting: Season 4. A Tyler Perry Collection DVD Gift Set streets on 9/19, along with Hard Candy and a number of Zane Grey movies, including The Dude Ranger, Fighting Westerner, Light of the Western Stars and Wanderer of the Wasteland. Finally, Drop Dead Sexy and a Thunder in Paradise Collection round out the month on 9/26.

Not sure if we've mentioned this previously, but Warner has E.R.: The Complete Sixth Season due on 12/19.

Finally today, Buena Vista has announced the DVD release of Home Improvement: The Complete Fifth Season on 11/14. Look also for the Walt Disney Legacy Collection: True-Life Adventures on 12/5.

Here's the cover art for Paramount's Mission: Impossible and Gomer Pyle, along with Warner's The West Wing: The Complete Seventh Season (11/7)...

Mission: Impossible: The Complete First SeasonGomer Pyle U.S.M.C.: The Complete First SeasonThe West Wing: The Complete Seventh Season

Stay tuned...


Afternoon, Bits-ers! Hope your weekend was swell.

Boy, have we got an interesting Rumor Mill report for you today! Those of you who are eagerly awaiting news on the DVD release of Superman Returns will want to check in for the tentative street date, and street dates for a few other titles too. What's more, we've also got additional information in The Rumor Mill that's going to be of MAJOR interest to you Star Trek: The Original Series fans. Trust me, you definitely don't want to miss this.

In other news today, the winners of Warner Home Video and's DVD Decision 2006 have been announced. Film fans were asked to select 10 classic catalog films for DVD release from among a long list of possible titles. The first batch of winners is due to arrive on DVD on 12/19 and will include The Illustrated Man, Operation Crossbow, Presenting Lily Mars, There Was a Crooked Man... and Up Periscope. Best Foot Forward will also be released that day as an Amazon exclusive. The second batch of titles will street on 1/30 and will include The Arrangement, Band of Angels, Gymkata, Looker and Madame Curie. Angels in the Outfield (1951) will also be available on 1/30, again exclusive to Amazon. Click here for more.

Moving on this afternoon, I wanted to follow up on my comments on Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD from Friday. One of the most unfortunate things I've seen with regard to this high-definition format war, is that it seems to have really divided the early adopter community. Some early adopters (fine folks all) are strongly in favor of one format, while still more are equally enthusiastic about the other format. Sadly, this rift is all too often passionate... and has even gotten contentious on occasion... such that, that these days, whenever I say anything even remotely negative about HD-DVD, I get scores of angry e-mails from HD-DVD supporters. And the same is true when I make less than positive comments about Blu-ray Disc, as I did on Friday: "How dare you! I am outraged, sir! Outraged, I tell you..." etc. Meanwhile, I know that MOST of you out there don't care one wit about either of these HD formats, and are happy to stick with standard DVD.

But to specifically address my comments about 50 GB Blu-ray Discs on Friday, my information comes from multiple sources - some in key positions at some of the Blu-ray Disc supporting companies, some in other industry positions involved with either the testing or production discs in both high-def formats - speaking to me off the record. The problem is not with the discs per se, it's with the hardware. Samsung didn't have final product 50 GB movie discs to test their firmware with before they launched, so they're having problems getting the players working with these discs now. Sony and Pioneer are also working hard to resolve compatibility issues on their forthcoming hardware. I'm sure that all of these issues are fixable with firmware upgrades, and I have no doubt that the issues WILL be fixed. But up until a couple weeks ago, I was told that Samsung at least was STILL having problems. As you can imagine, there are a few studios that are anxious to get these 50 GB BD-ROM discs to work properly, because there are a number of longer films waiting on them. Obviously, Sony has delayed Lawrence of Arabia and Black Hawk Down (they were originally going to be released this summer) for this very reason. I know of other titles waiting on the 50 GB disc compatibility issue being worked out as well.

The Video Business interview that Ben Feingold did last week, about how Sony will have at least two of the 50GB titles out this year... that was all about reassuring the restless folks in the media and the early adopter community that the discs are coming, and perhaps soothing some frayed nerves in their own camp as well. It's amazing how many people have e-mailed me that story as proof that I'm wrong about the 50 GB BD-ROM issue, but you'll notice that no specific dates or other information were given in the interview. It's classic studio smoke and mirrors - a bit of P.R. damage control. They know that BD has been taking some hits in the press and with early adopters, and they're anxious to show things in a more positive light. And keep in mind that I say all this as someone who has been very positive about Blu-ray Disc... or at least the format's potential. But Sony and their camp has a long way to go to really start delivering on it. It seems to me that the HD-DVD camp is delivering 1) more titles 2) somewhat better looking titles 3) titles with more features - even if most of them are just ported over from standard DVD - and 4) select titles with more advanced interactivity. The Blu-ray Disc camp is lagging behind, a lot more than I thought they'd be at this point. They can still catch up certainly, but I think they really need to start delivering some big, great titles. Fox needs to announce titles. Disney needs to announce BETTER titles. It's not exactly inspiring confidence when Disney is telling their own shareholders that they have no intention of releasing Cars and Pirates on BD this year, while the HD-DVD camp has announced several big day-and-date releases (and more are on the way). We need firm street dates for Pioneer and Sony hardware, for that matter. The Blu-ray camp, in short, needs to get busy.

Okay, one other quick thing for you today... we've kicked off a pair of new Contests, giving each of you the chance to take home copies of Warner's Nip/Tuck: The Complete Third Season and Manga's new The Castle of Cagliostro: Special Edition (animation legend Hayao Miyazaki's first turn at directing). Both contests will run until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, September 3rd. Click on the links to get started and good luck!

Stay tuned...


Today's update is a quick 'un, but if you own a Toshiba HD-DVD player... you're gonna be a happy camper after reading today's My Two Cents. More on that in a minute.

First, a little bit of DVD release news: Universal has set Magnum P.I.: The Complete Fifth Season to street on 10/10. They also have a pair of Spanish language Telemundo soap operas coming out on 11/7, each as a 5-disc set - Pasión de Gavilanes and El Cuerpo del Deseo.

Meanwhile, Warner will release HBO's The Oh in Ohio on 12/5 (SRP $24.98).

And Fox has officially confirmed that MGM's The Addams Family: Season One is now The Addams Family: Volume One (due 10/24). Here's a look at the cover art for The Addams Family, along with Stargate SG-1: Season 9 (also Fox for MGM - 10/3) and Fox's The Omen Collection (10/17)...

The Addams Family: Volume OneStargate SG-1: Season 9The Omen Collection

Finally, here's that bit of great HD-DVD news... Toshiba has officially released version 2.0 of their firmware for the HD-A1 and HD-XA1 HD-DVD players. It's available now via Ethernet download (just follow your player's instructions, as listed in the manual). According to Toshiba: "This firmware update adds support for certain anticipated network delivered content in future HD DVD discs, improves certain video and audio processing capabilities, as well as addresses certain disc playback and HDMI/DVI related problems identified by Toshiba." So what exactly does that mean? Check THIS out: "Support for Dolby True HD is extended from two channels to 5.1, which will be available in full resolution on the HDMI and analog 5.1 outputs and down-mixed to a DTS bit stream on the SPDIF output." FULL 5.1 TrueHD support! Keep in mind, the player was shipped with 2.0 support only. A lot of people are already talking about the new firmware over at AVS Forum, and it sounds as if it's pretty great. Guess I know what I'll be doing tonight! You can find official details about the firmware update here at Toshiba's HD-DVD website. Click on "Support," then "Firmware Update V2.0" to read more specifics. Thanks to Bits reader Michael G. for the heads-up.

That's a very cool development, I'll tell you. I'm somewhat surprised to find myself saying this, but HD-DVD is quietly making Blu-ray Disc look pretty silly. Motivated as I've been by a desire to see this format war end quickly, I was quick to sing the potential praises of Blu-ray Disc early on, simply because it seemed to have the clear advantages of better technology and much broader studio support, plus the potential market-share dominance of the forthcoming PS3 game system. And to be honest, my very early experiences with HD-DVD were disappointing. Since that time, however, an interesting this has happened... the early Blu-ray experience has turned out to be pretty lackluster too. Discs have looked bad, the Samsung player is a disaster and Sony's over-priced the PS3 right out of the market (you'll be able to buy both an Xbox 360 AND a Nintendo Wii for the price of a PS3). Sony and their BD camp allies are just not delivering on the promise of their format - period. Meanwhile, HD-DVD software and Toshiba's hardware (via these firmware updates) just keeps getting better and better. And get this: Sony STILL can't get their 50GB dual-layered Blu-ray Discs to work right on the existing and prototype players. The current Samsung player, as shipped, will not play them. How do you like them apples? Ouch.

If the BD camp doesn't do something dramatic and fast... they will have lost the hearts and minds of the early adopters to HD-DVD. To my thinking at least, HD-DVD is looking better and better all the time... and it seems to me it's now the format to beat.

Have a great weekend, folks. Stay tuned...


We'll start off today with some new street dates for major upcoming titles in The Rumor Mill. These are Sony titles, so think The Da Vinci Code and the like. There's also another interesting bit of information in there, so do check it out.

Speaking of Sony, we have word from the studio that their Bugsy: Extended Cut DVD, that had been slated for release on 10/3, has been delayed until further notice. We'll update you when we have further details.

Those of you who purchased Warner's Tom & Jerry Spotlight Collection: Volume 2 will be pleased to know that the disc replacement program for Discs One and Two (on which some episodes featured incorrect audio tracks) is now in place. All you have to do is call 1-800-553-6937 and give them your address. A self-addressed stamped envelope will be sent to you so that you can return the old discs. You'll be sent corrected replacement discs within about 4 weeks. No word yet on the Volume 1 replacements.

One more quick Warner note: In yesterday's post, we mistakenly noted that the Forbidden Hollywood Collection: Volume One (due 12/5) would include the 1940 version of Waterloo Bridge. It's actually the original 1931 version. We've corrected the post from yesterday, so just take note.

Those of you who are, despite our warnings about quality, purchasing the new Star Wars limited edition DVDs (which include the laserdisc mastered original versions as a "bonus") might be interested to see the menus for the "bonus" discs at Star Before you do buy them, however, you might also want to read today's Rumor Mill post.

In other news, the HD-DVD camp's official format promotional website has added a few of new catalog films to their "coming soon" list, including Ridley Scott's Blade Runner. We've asked the studios for specific details and confirmation about many of the titles in this list, and their common best answer seems to be something on the order of, "They're planned, but they probably won't be released until later in 2006 or 2007." So just know that it's true that all these titles are coming to HD-DVD at some point in the next year or so... but you'd be wise not to start holding your breath this afternoon for many of them. In any case, it's still a damn fine list and we've added all the new titles to our High-Def Release List accordingly.

Finally today, we wanted to give a plug to the latest endeavor of our friend DocDVD (a.k.a. Josh Lehman). He's opened a badass new home theater store in Atlanta, GA... Rock Star Home Theater! Here's the press release:

"Rock Star Home Theater Opens in Atlanta, Featuring the Largest 1080P Projection Screen in the South and Over 70 Lines of Consumer Electronics

Nestled in the heart of Atlanta's Buckhead district, Rock Star Home Theater brings the nation's most cutting edge design and technology to the forefront, in a unique design implementing today's latest in multi-zone, surround sound and HDTV technologies. Rock Star was founded in 2001 by one of the nation's premier home theater designers and noted ISF/THX/HAA technician, Josh Lehman. Already successful in Maui and Salt Lake City, Rock Star features a 4500 sq. foot showroom, and unlike many custom-installation showrooms, Rock Star features a full retail facility, with inventory of the majority of products that can be taken home or delivered the same day as purchased.

Rock Star features the largest breath of high-end and established electronics brands anywhere, with Sony, Mitsubishi, Marantz, Monster, Apple, KEF, Snell, Revel, Lexicon, Halcro Logic, Niles, Monitor, Stewart Filmscreen, Velodyne and over 70 other lines. Rock Star also features the largest retail theater in the South featuring luxurious Premier seating, a 135" Micro-Perforated screen with BOTH a Sony VPLVW100 (Ruby) SXRD and a Marantz VPL11S1 1080P front projectors on the same screen in the same theater. Also featured are the entire line-up of Sony Bravia and Mitsubishi 1080P flat panels on display, as well as the entire line-up of 1080P rear projection televisions with true 1080P video from HD-DVD, Blu-Ray disc and a proprietary Apple Media Server.

Rock Star Home Theater is open seven days a week from 10AM to 9PM Monday through Friday, 10AM to 8PM on Saturday and 1PM to 8PM on Sunday. Located 1/2 mile north of the Monroe-Piedmont intersection, Rock Star is located diagonal across from Taco Cabana 500 ft south of the Cheshire Bridge intersection, directly next to Atlanta Cycling at 1860 Piedmont Road. For more information, email [email protected], visit or call toll-free nationwide at 1-877-785-ROCK or locally at 404-815-ROCK (7625)."

Support Rock Star Home Theater!

If you're in the Atlanta area, drop on by and tell 'em The Bits sent you.

Stay tuned!


Warner's announced the 12/5 DVD release of the Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton Film Collection (SRP $49.92). The 4-movie box set will include the new 2-disc Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?: Special Edition (also available separately - SRP $26.99), along with The Comedians, The Sandpiper and The V.I.P.S.. Also set for 12/5 is the Forbidden Hollywood Collection: Volume One (SRP $39.92), which will include Baby Face (1933), Waterloo Bridge (1931) and Red-Headed Woman (1932).

On 10/17, the studio will release Close Call, followed by Lightyear's Invitation to a Suicide on 10/24. Finally, 11/14 will see Warner release the NBA title Detroit Pistons: 1989 Champions - Born to be Bad.

We've learned that the Lionsgate Blu-ray Disc titles scheduled to have been released yesterday have been pushed back a week until 8/29. We've updated the High-Def Release List accordingly.

Universal has officially revealed The Break-Up for release on 10/17, on both DVD and the new DVD/HD-DVD Combo format. Also newly announced for 11/14 is PollyWorld.

Paramount has set Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist: Season 2 for release on 11/21. Meanwhile, The Andy Griffith Show: The Complete Series Pack will street on 12/12. Touched by an Angel: The Third Season, Volume Two and a Touched by an Angel: The Third Season - Volumes One & Two Gift Set will both street on 11/28.

Stay tuned...


Morning all! We've got another big new DVD release to talk about today. According to a number of published reports (click here for more), Buena Vista has set the release of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest for 12/5, just as we predicted last month. There will be two versions - a single-disc edition (available in full frame and anamorphic widescreen) with audio commentaries and a blooper reel, as well as a 2-disc collector's edition with additional featurettes and more. For the record, the studio has indicated that there will be no Blu-ray Disc version this year. We expect the official announcement to be made shortly, so we'll post all the details as they come in.

Also, Buena Vista has officially announced the release of Disney Adventures of the Gummi Bears: Volume One for 11/14, a Grand Theft Auto: Tricked Out Edition for 11/21, and the animated The Fox and the Hound 2 for 12/12.

Meanwhile, Warner has announced the release of Lightyear's Jailbait on 10/24, HBO's Angel Rodriguez on 11/28, and for their own bad selves, What's New Scooby-Doo? Volume 10 on 12/5.

Around the site today, we've kicked off SIX new Contests giving each of you the chance to take home copies of Warner's Poseidon: SE, The Old Grey Whistle Test, Vol. 3, The Brak Show: Vol. 2 and Sealab 2021: Season 4, Paramount's South Park: Season 8 and Apocalypse Now: Complete Dossier, Universal's Bring it On: All or Nothing, the Bill Cosby Show: Season 1 and Radioland Murders, New Line's Hoot and Rhino's Duck Season. All of these contests will run until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, August 27th. Click on the links to get started and good luck!

Finally this morning, we've got some new cover art for you to check out. Here's Paramount's M:i:III: Special Collector's Edition (10/30) and Oh! What a Lovely War: Special Collector's Edition (11/7), along with Sony's Click: Special Edition (10/10)...

M:i:III: Special Collector's EditionOh! What a Lovely War: Special Collector's EditionClick: Special Edition

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 8/21/06 - 4:30 PM PDT)

Well... it's been a bit of a busier day than we expected. Paramount has just officially informed us of the details of its first full waves of catalog Blu-ray Disc releases. And you probably won't be too surprised as to which titles they've chosen. Due on 9/26 (SRP $29.99 each) are Tomb Raider, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Four Brothers and Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow. Following on 10/10 are Sahara, U2: Rattle and Hum, Æon Flux and The Italian Job (SRP also $29.99 each). Due on 10/30, of course, is the already announced M:i:III. According to the studio's press release, "Paramount Home Entertainment plans to support the Blu-Ray format with a strong slate of titles moving into 2007." Like the HD-DVD releases before them, don't expect these titles to include any real extras. However, audio on all of these releases should include both Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 and DTS 5.1.

The High-Def Release List has been updated accordingly.

Back tomorrow. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 8/21/06 - 3:45 PM PDT)

Just a quick late update this afternoon, to let you all know that Fox has just revealed the 12/12 release of Volumes 3 and 4 of their James Bond Ultimate Collection box sets. Volume 3 will include Goldeneye, Live and Let Die, For Your Eyes Only, From Russia with Love and On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Volume 4 will round out the presentation with Dr. No, You Only Live Twice, Octopussy, Tomorrow Never Dies and Moonraker. Like the first two, these sets will carry an SRP of $89.98 each.

There's no word yet on a Blu-ray Disc high-definition release of these films, but as they've all recently been given new HD transfers, it's certainly possible once Fox reveals their BD plans.

Also newly announced for re-release for MGM by Fox on 12/5 is The Rocky Anthology 5-film box set (SRP $49.98), just in time to promote the December theatrical release of Rocky Balboa.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 8/21/06 - 1:15 PM PDT)

Well... hope you all had a great weekend, because we've got some interesting news for you today. 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has just announced its first DVD releases on behalf of MGM, and they're some damn good ones.

First up on 11/7, Fox will release MGM's The James Bond Ultimate Collection - Volume 1 (SRP $89.98, including The Man with the Golden Gun, Goldfinger, The World Is Not Enough, Diamonds Are Forever and The Living Daylights) and The James Bond Ultimate Collection - Volume 2 (SRP $89.98, including A View to a Kill, Thunderball, Die Another Day, The Spy Who Loved Me and License to Kill). No additional details have yet been made available, but we'll let you know when we have specs and other information.

Also newly announced for release on 10/3 by Fox (for MGM) is Stargate SG-1: Season Nine, followed by The Addams Family: Season One (SRP $29.98) on 10/24.

Meanwhile, Paramount has set Once Upon a Christmas, Twice Upon a Christmas and Richard Attenborough's Oh! What a Lovely War: Special Collector's Edition for release on 11/7. The studio will also release Survivor: Vanuatu - The Complete Season on 12/5.

And Sony officially announced Adam Sandler's Click for release on 10/10 on DVD, UMD and Blu-ray Disc. We've updated the UMD and High-Def lists accordingly.

Sony has also announced the TV scare-fest Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America on 10/31. Beware the birds!

Be sure to check the Upcoming DVD Cover Art section today for a look at some of the great DVD titles that hit store shelves tomorrow. We've nearly got a new update of that section ready, so watch for that soon.

Finally today, we're very pleased to offer a new Yellow Layer Failure column from our own Robert A. Harris. In this installment, Robert talks with Ned Price, Vice President of Mastering for Warner Bros. Technical Operations, about the new DVD and HD-DVD release of The Searchers. I think you'll enjoy it, so do check it out.

Back later with some new Contests. Stay tuned!


Morning all! We're doing some archiving and catch-up work here at the site today, starting with all of the DVD format stats we track (above) and including the CEA DVD Player Sales numbers. We've added the sales data for the complete month of July and the first week of August. Just FYI.

Elsewhere around The Bits today, Adam Jahnke has checked in with a new edition of The Electric Theatre, including reviews of Little Miss Sunshine, The Descent, Scoop and World Trade Center. Do check it out.

Over at our website, Lindsay Planner has delivered reviews of four new music DVD releases, including Velvet Underground: Under Review and Captain Beefheart: Under Review from Sexy Intellectual, Glen O'Brien's TV PARTY from Brinkfilm, and Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock 'n Roll - The Ultimate Collector's Edition from Image Entertainment. Matt's got some new CD reviews over there too.

On the DVD release news front today, Genius Products will deliver The Gathering for The Weinstein Company on 10/3.

Eagle Rock Entertainment has set Pixies: Live at the Paradise in Boston for release on 10/3 as well.

Universal's The Break-Up has been confirmed for release on 10/17. Waist Deep streets on 10/10. The studio has also just announced a Holiday Inn: Special Edition for release on 10/10 (SRP $19.98), as well as a day-and-date DVD/HD-DVD combo format release of Slither on 10/24.

Lionsgate has set Hard Candy for 9/19, with Drop Dead Sexy following on 9/26, and both House of Blood and Invader due on 10/3. Lionsgate has also announced that they'll finally release Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs on Blu-ray Disc on 10/24. We've updated the High-Def Release List accordingly.

Finally, Paramount will be releasing a South Park: The Hits, Volume 1 - Matt and Trey's Top Ten DVD on 10/3.

Here's a look at the cover art for South Park: The Hits, Volume 1, along with Universal's Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels: Locked 'N Loaded Unrated Director's Cut (10/3) and Criterion's The Double Life of Véronique (11/21)...

South Park: The Hits, Volume 1 - Matt and Trey's Top TenLock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels: Locked 'N Loaded Unrated Director's CutThe Double Life of Véronique (Criterion)

By the way, we ordered a copy of that A Fish Called Wanda: Collector's Edition from Amazon. It just came in today and it IS indeed the new 2-disc set that's been pulled by Sony. So if you don't want to wait for the Fox release in October, order away. We've only checked out a little of it so far, but John Cleese's audio commentary is pretty good. Oh... almost forgot: Paramount's Star Trek: The Animated Series is finally available for pre-order on Amazon as well. Thanks to Bits reader Erik S. for the heads-up!

Have a great weekend. See you Monday!

(LATE UPDATE - 8/17/06 - 11:30 AM PDT)

We've got another quick update for you this morning. Warner has just informed us that in addition to the new Blu-ray Disc releases they announced earlier, they'll also be releasing 4 more HD-DVDs on 9/12 (SRP $28.98 each). The titles expected are Troy, Lethal Weapon 2, House of Wax (2005) and Space Cowboys. Troy will include the In-Movie Experience (IME), which "has director Wolfgang Petersen and his creative team leading the viewer on an audio-visual tour of their epic recreations of Greece and Troy." All of the HD-DVDs and Blu-ray Discs announced today will include all of the previously released DVD features. The High-Def Release List has been updated.

While we're talking HD again, Home Media Retailing is reporting that the HD-DVD format's backers are selling more players, but the Blu-ray Disc format's backers are actually making more money on hardware. For what it's worth.

Also this morning, those of you interested in getting your hands on a copy of Sony's recently pulled A Fish Called Wanda: Collector's Edition (actually delayed until 10/10, when it will be released by Fox for MGM instead of Sony) might want to place a quick order for it with right now. Turns out Amazon has gotten its allotment of the discs and is actually selling and shipping them. We've had several readers confirm that they've already gotten copies of the SE, as ordered from the online retailer. Don't know how long that situation will last, so if you just can't wait until October, click here and get your order in quick.

Just a reminder... we've got a new Artist of the Month for you to check out, and he's got some pretty unique and fascinating stuff. Marc Sky actually makes tiny little sculptures out of dollar bills. I'm not kidding - like Alien Queens, Yodas, all kinds of animals and movie characters. Be sure to check out his website, and I think you'll be amazed.

Finally today, we've updated our Digital Bits Power Buy today, offering you great prices on the Pioneer Elite DV-79AVi DVD player, as well as the entire line-up of new Pioneer Elite A/V receivers. We also have, for a very limited time, an even lower Power Buy price on the Pioneer Elite 1080P 50" PRO-FHD1 Plasma TVs. Click here for all the details.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 8/17/06 - 1 AM PDT)

Morning, all! We've got a few more DVD release announcements for you today, and some other random bits of DVD-related news to report.

First up, we've have a few details for you on the contents of Paramount's single-disc Nacho Libre: Special Collector's Edition, due on 10/24. Expect audio commentary with star Jack Black, director Jared Hess and co-writer Mike White, multiple behind-the-scenes featurettes (over an hour's worth in all), deleted scenes, a Nacho Libre comic book and a "Luchador Mask Creator."

You Melrose Place fans will be interested to note that Paramount has also issued new DVD cover artwork for Melrose Place: The Complete First Season (due 11/17). What did they change you ask? Heather Locklear's picture. That's it. Here's the new cover (you'll find the old one in this post). Somebody's agent must've made a few calls...

Melrose Place: The Complete First Season (revised art)The Thing (HD-DVD)Spartacus (HD-DVD)

Thought some of you might also enjoy a look at the HD-DVD art for Universal's The Thing and Spartacus (due 10/24).

While we're talking high-definition, Warner has just updated their release plans with regard to Blu-ray Disc. Four new catalog titles have been announced, including Blazing Saddles, Firewall, Full Metal Jacket and Lethal Weapon, for release on 9/5 (all are already available on HD-DVD). The High-Def Release List has been updated.

Back on the standard DVD front, Warner has just confirmed a BIG bunch of new releases that should get a lot of you excited. On 11/7, look for Gary Cooper: The Signature Collection (SRP $49.92 - includes Dallas, The Fountainhead, a Sergeant York: Special Edition, Springfield Rifle and The Wreck of the Mary Deare), The Marlon Brando Collection (SRP $59.92 - includes The Formula, Julius Caesar, the Mutiny on the Bounty: Special Edition, Reflections in a Golden Eye and Teahouse of the August Moon) and separate releases of The Fountainhead, Julius Caesar, the Mutiny on the Bounty: Special Edition and the Sergeant York: Special Edition. On 11/14, watch for Adventures of Superman: The Complete 5th & 6th Seasons and an Adventures of Superman: Seasons 1-6 4-pack, Lois & Clark: The Complete Fourth Season and a Lois & Clark: The Complete Seasons 1-4 4-pack, The Paul Newman Collection (SRP $59.92 - includes The Drowning Pool, Harper, The Left Handed Gun, The Mackintosh Man, Pocket Money, Somebody Up There Likes Me and Young Philadelphians) and a separate release of Harper. Following on 11/21, you'll get a trio of classic comedy double-feature DVDs including Abbott & Costello: Lost in a Harem/Abbott & Costello in Hollywood, Laurel and Hardy: Air Raid Wardens/Nothing But Trouble and The Three Stooges: Meet the Baron/The Gold Raiders (1951), as well as a Classic Comedy Teams Collection containing all three of the just mentioned double-features. Then on 12/5, watch for Animaniacs: Volume 2 and an Animaniacs: Volumes 1 & 2 2-pack, Pinky and the Brain: Volume 2 and a Pinky and the Brain: Volumes 1 & 2 2-pack, Greatest Moments in NBA History, NFL Hall of Fame: Complete History and NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers Giftset (still no Vikings!). Finally, on 12/19, you'll get ER: The Complete Sixth Season and an ER: The Complete Seasons 1-6 6-pack. We've mentioned a few of those titles before, but still. Whew!

While we're posting cover artwork today, how's about a look at Warner's Sergeant York: Special Edition, Julius Caesar and Mutiny on the Bounty: Special Edition? Here you go...

Sergeant York: Special EditionJulius CaesarMutiny on the Bounty: Special Edition

Finally this morning, while it's not DVD-related, we find it interesting nonetheless. Remember how we all learned that there were 9 planets in our solar system? Yeah, well... maybe not so much any more. Soon, the official number is likely to be bumped up to 12. Read more here. The times they are a-changin'.

Stay tuned...


More new DVD release announcements today...

Universal has set Hip Hop Life to street on 11/21. Also due on that day is the 7-disc Preston Sturges: The Filmmaker Collection (SRP $59.98) which will include Christmas in July, The Great McGinty, The Great Moment, Hail the Conquering Hero, The Lady Eve, The Palm Beach Story and Sullivan's Travels, all in their original full frame aspect ratio with Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono audio.

Disney has an Escape from Witch Mountain 2-Movie Collection due on 9/5 that will contain both Escape from Witch Mountain and the sequel Return from Witch Mountain.

Paramount has finally officially announced the DVD release of their Nacho Libre: Special Collector's Edition for 10/24, as we first reported they would last month. Additional details will follow, but here's a look at the cover art...

Nacho Libre: Special Collector's EditionTransformers: The Movie - 20th Anniversary Special Edition (alternate)12 Monkeys (HD-DVD)

We've also included the alternate cover art for Sony BMG's 2-disc Transformers: The Movie - 20th Anniversary Special Edition (due 11/7 - the cover will transform back and forth from this image to the image we posted previously, via a lenticular hologram cover) and Universal's HD-DVD release of Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys (10/24)...

By the way, Paramount also has Flavor of Love: The Complete Second Season due for 10/17... which is just about as disturbing as it gets. Do you suppose it'll come packaged with a schwanky clock?

In a little more exciting news (sorry, Flav), our friends over at Criterion have announced a cool new slate of DVD releases expected in November, including Carol Reed's The Fallen Idol (#357 - due 11/7), Krzysztof Kieslowski's The Double Life of Veronique (#359 - 11/21) and G. W. Pabst's Pandora's Box (#358 - also 11/21). Alfonso Cuarón's Sólo con tu pareja (#353 - 10/17) has also been added to the October slate.

On the high-def front, it looks like Image Entertainment is going to be releasing its first titles on the HD-DVD format on 11/7 (SRP $24.99 each). All three are music releases, including Barry Manilow: Manilow Live!, Chicago and Earth, Wind & Fire: Live at the Greek and Heart: Alive in Seattle. We've updated the High-Def Release List accordingly. Tell you what... we want to see some of those Image IMAX titles in HD, like Super Speedway or Fighter Pilot. Now, that'd be pretty cool...

Finally today, we're sorry to say that we have another death to report: Actor Bruno Kirby has passed away at the age of just 57, from complications related to leukemia. Among his large list of film and TV credits are such classics as City Slickers, When Harry Met Sally, This Is Spinal Tap and The Godfather, Part II. He even recent appeared in an episode of HBO's Entourage. He'll be missed.

Stay tuned...


Universal has just announced a new batch of both DVD and HD-DVD releases. First up, look for Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Season Two on DVD on 10/17, followed by Columbo: The Complete Sixth and Seventh Seasons, Northern Exposure: The Complete Fifth Season and Quantum Leap: The Complete Fifth Season on 11/14.

And on the HD-DVD front, they've set 12 Monkeys, Out of Sight, Spartacus and The Thing for release on 10/24, and rescheduled the recently delayed The Interpreter for that day as well.

Also on the HD-DVD front today, Warner Bros is advertising a number of new TV properties soon to be released on the high-def format, in recent promotional inserts with such TV DVD releases as Invasion: The Complete Series. Among the titles listed as coming to HD-DVD soon are Smallville: The Complete Fifth Season and The West Wing: The Complete Seventh Season. Personally, we're most excited about the idea of Universal's new Battlestar Galactica in HD, which we hear is already in the works. We've updated the High-Def Release List accordingly.

One last high-def note today. Paramount informed us this morning that the M:i:III HD format spec list they sent us, which we posted yesterday, contained a couple of errors. The Inside the IMF featurette is in standard definition video, not high-def, on both HD versions. Also, the audio on the Blu-ray Disc will be Dolby Digital, while the audio on the HD-DVD will be Dolby Digital Plus. We've updated the spec list below. Adjust your purchase plans accordingly.

Here's some news you fans of The Police are going to get excited about. We've got details for you on Universal Music's 9/12 DVD release of drummer Stewart Copeland's Everyone Stares: The Police Inside Out documentary, which was a hit at the recent Sundance Film Festival (the doc is also being seen on Showtime throughout August and September). The disc will include the film in anamorphic widescreen video, mastered from an HD transfer of the original Super-8 film (culled from over 50 hours of such film). Audio will be available in both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 options, as well as PCM 2.0 stereo. Extras will include audio commentary with ex Police-men Copeland and guitarist Andy Summers, and over 20 minutes of bonus footage added exclusively for the DVD. The film has also been scored by Copeland with 7 previously-unreleased "derangements" of classic Police studio and live tracks, along with many more familiar tracks throughout the film.

Here's a look at the DVD cover art, along with art for Paramount's Jackass: The Movie - Unrated Special Edition (9/5) and Universal's DVD/HD-DVD Combo release of George Romero's Land of the Dead (9/26)...

Everyone Stares: The Police Inside OutJackass: The Movie - Unrated Special EditionGeorge Romero's Land of the Dead (DVD/HD-DVD Combo)

Speaking of cover art, be sure to check out the Upcoming DVD Cover Art section today for a look at all of the great DVD releases that hit stores today. A major art update is coming soon, just FYI.

By the way, if anyone wants to see just how bad high-def video can look, I sure got a taste of it last night watching ESPN Monday Night Football. Ugh... that had to be the most digitally over-compressed HD image I've seen yet. Sure hope the regular season broadcast isn't that bad. I don't know, maybe it was Cox here in Orange County that crunched it all to hell, but ugh.

In an interesting business development today, Image Entertainment has just signed a 10-year distribution deal with Relativity Pictures, the L.A.-based production company whose recent films include Inside Man, Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. The deal will give Image distribution rights to future Relativity productions on DVD, the new high-def discs and other digital formats, starting in 2007. This is part of an effort by Image to ward off a takeover bid by Lionsgate. Image is a good company - nice folks over there. We hope this works out well for them. Seems to us that there's enough companies being gobbled up by other companies these days. Anyway, you can read more about this here.

Finally this morning, we wanted to take a moment to mention the passing of legendary TV talk show host Mike Douglas last week. He was 81. I remember watching The Mike Douglas Show when I was younger, and it was always entertaining. Anyone who has seen clips of that episode with John Lennon and Jerry Rubin will know what I'm talking about. Fascinating stuff. Douglas will be missed.

Stay tuned...

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