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Site created 12/15/97.




page updated: 5/27/99



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 5/3/99 - 4/7/99)


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5/3/99

OK, let's get right to the meat of today's post, 'cause based on all of the e-mails I've been getting, I know there's a lot of confusion about all of the Star Wars DVD rumors flying around in light of the big event in Denver this weekend. We've got the scoop on all of the latest news in today's Rumor Mill post, and we try to cut through all the bull, to sort things out for you based on what we've heard from our sources, and what we know to be true (and false). We've also got the scoop on a bunch of Fox titles for September and beyond - basically the big stuff they're planning through the end of 1999. We've even got tentative word on some Buena Vista stuff we're told is in the planning stages for the fall. Today's update there is big, so you definitely don't want to miss it.

We also have a pair of new DVD reviews for you today. You'll find my full-length take on Fox's excellent new The X-Files: Fight the Future, and Doogan gives you a look at Babe: Pig in the City. Both discs hit stores Tuesday.

Want another sign that DVD is a hit with consumers? Player sales are very strong going into the typically weak Spring and Summer season, and CEMA's latest numbers indicate 82,870 players shipped to retailers for the week ending April 23rd. That makes almost 2 million players in the U.S. market to date (1,911,927 for those who are counting). See the above listing and the full chart for the details.

FYI - the Trivia Contest for May will be starting on Wednesday, and will run for two weeks, ending on May 19th... the day Star Wars: Episode I premieres in theaters. You can be sure this month's contest will have a little something to do with the Trilogy, so stay tuned.

Finally, you can now find the latest installment of The Digital Man Radio Show saga available for download as a Real Audio file (click here for the 5M file of Sunday's episode).

See ya back here tomorrow (and by the way... I hope you all had a great weekend)!

5/2/99

Want some great news? At the Star Wars Celebration event in Denver this weekend, Episode I producer (and Lucas right-hand man) Rick McCallum was asked about George's DVD plans for the Trilogy (a question which apparently drove the fanboy crowd nuts). Here's what he said: "I know George has very special plans for the DVD." McCallium also mentioned that the DVD release will be an event like no other for that medium, and that it will be "beautiful" when it finally arrives. Makes you feel all warm doesn't it?

Speaking of Star Wars, I happened to get a hold of my copy of The Phantom Menace soundtrack CD this weekend (it streets Tuesday). All I can say is... wow! Fans of John Williams will really dig his latest work, from the trumpet and chorale Duel of the Fates, to the sweet Anakin's Theme, with its hint of Vader's Imperial March. There's some serious lightsaber-dueling music on this one, folks!

We'll be back tomorrow with new DVD reviews of Fox's excellent The X-Files: Fight the Future and Babe: Pig in the City. See ya then!

4/30/99

All right, there are three more reviews up for you to check out today, as Doogan takes a look at more Criterion DVDs: Salo, The Naked Kiss, and The Killer. Look for several more reviews of new DVD releases over the next few days.

Laserviews has posted a large update to their DVD News page, including a host of great new titles. Among those listed are the complete Kubrick Collection, Billy Jack, Cannonball Run 2, The Hitcher, Hurlyburly: SE, Just Cause, Murder In The First, Power Of One, Sour Grapes, Sweet Dreams, and Witches (from Warner and its distributed labels), Thin Red Line (from Fox), The Associate, A Civil Action, Cool Runnings, Dangerous Minds, Down In The Delta, Enemy Of The State, The Faculty, I Love Trouble, Little Buddha, Little Voice, The Mighty, Mr. Holland's Opus, Pallbearer, Patriot, Restoration, Romy & Michele's High School Reunion, Rushmore, She's All That, Smoke Signals, Spy Hard, What's Love Got To Do With It, and Wings Of A Dove (all June and July releases from Buena Vista), Bataan, Killer's Kiss, The Killing, Paths Of Glory, Pork Chop Hill, Run Silent, Run Deep, and They Were Expendable (from MGM), and a new version of Dr. Strangelove with corrected aspect ratios (from Columbia TriStar).

While I'm very happy to see so many more DVDs in production from Buena Vista (particularly Rushmore, The Mighty and Smoke Signals), I have to say that I'm a bit disheartened to see that STILL they have no plans to adopt anamorphic widescreen as a feature on their DVDs. And most of these discs will be paltry, movie-only DVDs. Disappointing. As least their Clerks disc is still coming - look for it later in the summer, instead of on its original 6/29 street date.

So what incentive does Buena Vista have to give us 16x9 on their DVDs? Probably none, sadly. Why, you may ask? Well people seem to be buying at least some of their discs in spades. Here's an article that indicates that according to VideoScan, A Bug's Life has already become the number 10 best selling DVD of the year, in just a week of release. Go figure.

Have a great weekend!

4/29/99

We've just posted four new DVD reviews for you to read today, including DreamWorks' Amistad, Universal's Meet Joe Black, Paramount's Snake Eyes, and Criterion's The 400 Blows. And we've got more reviews coming tomorrow.

I had a nice conversation with the folks at Warner Bros. this morning. We talked about the upcoming Kubrick collection DVDs, as well as the reasons behind the delay of some titles we know you're all waiting for. According to Warner, the reason Full Metal Jacket and The Shining are being released in full frame, is that's how director Stanley Kubrick intended the films to be seen theatrically (and were in European release). In the States, the films were matted to create a widescreen image. So you should know, that all of the DVDs will be released exactly as Kubrick would have wanted.

I also learned this morning, that Heat, Shawshank Redemption and Excalibur were all delayed so that the best quality could be ensured on the DVD release. The Heat DVD is still in development, so features are as yet undetermined, but Shawshank and Excalibur will both feature new 16x9 transfers and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio when they are finally released. Excalibur will also have a commentary track with director John Boorman. And I've been assured that all three films WILL be released on DVD this year, in the 3rd or 4th Qtr. You fans out there should know that Warner is definitely aware that you want these films - they just want to make sure to give them to you in the best DVD quality possible.

I also spoke with Columbia TriStar briefly, regarding Men In Black. There are apparently still no "official" green-lights on this title in any region, but this could change at any time. With any luck, however, it should be out on DVD this year.

Finally today, I have a request for you. I'm going to have the opportunity in the coming weeks to interview Alien director Ridley Scott, and Warner Home Video president Warren Lieberfarb, so if any of you have DVD-related questions (or others) you'd like asked of them, please forward them to be via e-mail, by this weekend. I'll be taking some of the best questions sent in, and asking them along with my own. Many thanks!

More tomorrow...

4/28/99

OK, we've got reviews of A Bug's Life and Beautiful Girls today, and several more are in the pipeline for tomorrow, including an in-depth look at DreamWork's Amistad, the first new Spielberg film to hit the DVD format. We've also got some Columbia TriStar information up in today's Rumor Mill, including word that Men In Black has been slated for DVD... sort of. Be sure to check it out.

Stay tuned...

4/27/99

Well, there's good news and bad news. The arrival of visiting family from out of state means that we'll be unable to post an update today. But we will be back tomorrow with some news, Rumor Mill information, and a host of new DVD reviews that we've built up over the weekend.

Have a good day, and we'll see you tomorrow!

(LATE UPDATE - 4/26/99 - 5:30 PM PDT)

Ah, yes... I've just spent another long day of fighting technical problems. I had thought I'd tackled all of the gremlins that crept into my computer equipment following the move, but alas, my scanner decided to fritz out today. That's what delayed posts over the weekend, and today's as well. That sound you hear is me smashing my scanner to bits, a la Office Space...

Anyway, on to the day's news. In the wake of the Littleton, Colorado shooting, MGM had hoped to recall the VHS and DVD versions of Basketball Dairies. The rights to the title were recently acquired from Polygram. Unfortunately, the rights remain with Polygram through June 30th, so they are unable to pull it. Read the whole story here. Something tells me we may not see the Buena Vista-owned Natural Born Killers on DVD any time soon...

Around the Net, Laserviews has updated their DVD News page with some new titles. DTS has announced that it will be releasing several more titles on DVD, including some from DreamWorks, the second major studio to support the sound format on DVD. Every title currently available from DreamWorks will be released with DTS later this year. Check this page at DTS for the full list and schedule.

So have you heard The Duel of the Fates on radio yet? KFGO didn't play it after all, but you can download it here as a 3 meg MP3 file (other download locations are listed at The Force.net). There's a great article over at the Boston Globe Online on John Williams, and The Phantom Menace scoring sessions. A small Real Audio clip of the sessions, including brief interviews with Williams, Lucas, and Steven Spielberg, and some bits of new music, can be found here. It's also available as an MP3 here.

In other Star Wars news, there's a great interview with George Lucas in the current issue of Time. Bill Moyers talks with Lucas about the myth and meaning in the Star Wars films, and particularly Episode I. This has a very similar feel to Moyer's interviews with Joseph Campbell, on PBS's The Power of Myth series. The interview is available online here. Absolutely fascinating.

One last Star Wars-related item: Entertainment Tonight's Leonard Maltin will be interviewing George Lucas on May 5th, and he's asking for the Net-savvy to submit questions. You can send in yours vis this page on the ET Online site. I think just about everyone is asking, "When will Star Wars be on DVD?"

Finally today, you can listen to this last Sunday's episode of The Digital Man Radio Show via Real Audio, by clicking here. It's a good 5 meg download, but if you have the time and bandwidth, you might find it interesting. Given recent events, we talked about recalled DVDs, and how the media (movies and video games) may or may not affect violence in society. Pete Bracke was on for longer this time too, so give it a listen if you dare.

See you tomorrow...

(EARLY UPDATE - 4/26/99 - 10 AM PDT)

All right, we've got more later, but I wanted to get a quick update done now, to let all of you Star Wars fans in on something. As you may know, the Phantom Menace soundtrack CD will be released on May 4th. But Lucasfilm has today just released a broadcast radio single of one of the featured tracks on the film, The Duel of the Fates. It is now available as a 3 meg MP3 file here, and you can check for other download locations at The Force.net. After two listens now, I can tell you that the track is VERY cool - thunderous war drums, blaring horns, haunting choral vocals and all. Don't miss it.

Be back soon...

4/23/99

All right, we've got those reviews coming, so check back over the next few days. In the meantime, I just received a ton of new upcoming DVD street dates, that I wanted to get posted in the Rumor Mill today. We've got the scoop on almost every major title through September, so you definitely wont want to miss it.

Also today, comes news from Wired.com, that Blockbuster Video plans to start renting...gasp!... pay-per-use PC games in their stores. The games would be encrypted, and must be unlocked for a fee (via the Internet or a modem) prior to playing. The games can be used on all current computer hardware... but don't you find the whole pay-per-use concept irritating? Divx was just the first such plan, I fear.

In other news around the Net, our friends at Image Entertainment's Ken Cranes are partnering with RCA, to do a special DVD hardware/software promotion. With each player purchased between June 1st and August 16th, consumers will get to pick 5 free movies, and will receive 12 free rentals from online rentailer NetFlix. You can read the press release here.

If you're up for some tech talk, don't forget to give Josh and I a call on Sunday morning, on the CNN Radio Network's Digital Man Radio Show in Atlanta. We'll be on from 11AM to Noon Eastern (8-9AM Pacific), and you can us at 404-898-0680.

Have a great weekend!

4/22/99

Good news today! Remember all those late June and July Paramount DVDs we told you about in the Rumor Mill a few weeks ago? Well DVD.com has posted confirmation on them, including word on something else we told you about a few months ago - DVDs of Star Trek episodes! The specific titles in question are Varsity Blues, Witness, School Ties and Gallipoli on June 29, and Payback, Congo, King Kong and Heaven Can Wait, plus two sets of original Star Trek episodes, on July 27. More episodes are expected later in the year, along with episodes of The Next Generation as well. FYI - Barbarella, Nick of Time, A Simple Plan and The Parallax View have already been announced for June 22nd (and all are 16x9 enhanced). Very cool!

Those of you who are dying for a look at the upcoming Ghostbusters DVDs, should check out this link over at the Columbia TriStar Home Video web site. There are pictures of the disc, along with a list of the features. I still have every reason to believe that Ghostbusters will rank right up there as one of the most impressive DVDs yet released.

You L.A.-area fans of director Michael Bay should get yourselves over to the Virgin Megastore on Sunset Boulevard this weekend. The director will be signing 2 items per person, one of which must be a copy of the new Criterion Armageddon DVD, purchased in store. The signing starts at 2 PM this Saturday (4/24), so get there early!

Finally, it seems like every day, there are a dozen new DVD web sites out there. But there's one I quite enjoy - DVD Views. JoseQ, who runs the site, recently interviewed yours truly for a regular column he has, so if you're just dying to read about me (not that you are, of course - this ain't no ego fest!), you can check out the interview transcript. Jose has interviewed several other DVD webmasters as well, so do give his cool site a look-see.

Well be back tomorrow with... gasp... reviews!

4/21/99

As yes... it's Spring, and the sounds of young love are in the air. No, I'm not about to tell you that Love American Style is coming to DVD. We're just kinda light-hearted around here this afternoon, as the Bits' own Todd Doogan is gettin' himself hitched to a sweet Southern girl today. Sarah and I have been married for almost nine years now (very happily, of couse), so we couldn't be more excited for the newlyweds. Congratulations, kids!

Now, on to business. Anchor Bay has informed me that those of you who are unable to return your defective Black Hole DVDs to your local store, can do so online. Check the Anchor Bay web site for the complete details. In short, all you have to do is call Barbara at Anchor Bay (1-800-233-3738 ext. 4136), to make the exchange arrangements.

Just a day after all that Kubrick news, comes Warner's official press release on the subject (you can read that here, via Infoseek). And speaking of the Kubrick DVDs, I received this e-mail from a reader which might help to explain the choice of full frame on The Shining and Full Metal Jacket (thanks for the clarification, Pete):

"The Shining and Full Metal Jacket were both filmed full Academy ratio (I ran both films theatrically and the prints were full-frame 1.37) and soft-matted to 1.66 (Europe) and 1.85 (US) for theatrical release. The full frame versions are NOT pan and scan, and are the way Kubrick intended the films to be seen at home. Also, 2001 is now completely controlled by Warner (fallout from the MGM/Turner deal), MGM no longer has the rights to this movie. The MGM version is now discontinued, replaced by the Warner version (although it's the same disc presentation)."

My friend Jeff McNeal has posted a good editorial on Buena Vista and DVD over at The Big Picture today - I recommend it as a good read. Here's a wild idea Disney - how about establishing a Consumer DVD Hotline, just like Paramount, so people can give you direct feedback? In fact, EVERY studio should do something like this, either as a phone line, or an online feedback page. I'd like to take a moment to praise Paramount Home Video for starting all this, which to me, indicates a genuine concern for their consumers. Bravo, Paramount! As for you readers, be sure to keep those calls coming into their Hotline (323-956-8070) - with any luck, we might get them to give Titanic more satisfying treatment. But be polite, and remember to pat them on the back for discs they've done that you liked. I for one, am very glad they've returned to anamorphic widescreen for so many releases.

Speaking of anamorphic, I've had a lot of you new readers ask what anamorphic (or 16x9 enhancement) means on a DVD, and why most of us think it should be included on all widescreen releases. I wrote a lengthy editorial on this subject last year, called The Big Squeeze, which should help to explain things. It's a bit of an oversimplification in technical terms, but I've had a lot of people say it helped them to better understand the subject. So do check it out.

See ya tomorrow...

4/20/99

Well, the big news today is Warner Bros. intention to release a DVD boxed set of the late Stanley Kubrick's films. You'll find that information in today's Rumor Mill update, along with a mild rant on the recent quality of Warner's DVD work, and a couple of other upcoming titles tidbits.

You can also find some of the Kubrick DVD artwork up in our Upcoming DVD Artworkpage (click here for the specific page).

Video Store magazine this week has a story on how widescreen VHS tapes seem to be selling less and less these days - the studios believe most of the market for them is moving to DVD. Many studios may stop releasing widescreen VHS tapes as a result of this. And the studios say that the preference for widescreen among DVD consumers right now is at about 50%, with the rest (a growing percentage) preferring full frame. But most of them agree that the debate will very soon become moot, as widescreen digital televisions make widescreen versions essential.

Columbia TriStar has announced several new DVD titles to street on June 15th, including Dancing at Lughnasa, Never Talk to Strangers, and a double feature DVD of Matinee Idol and Frank Capra's American Dream. All will carry an SRP of $24.95.

In other news, Simon Marketing has joined with Artisan Entertainment to help the independent market their DVD product (see press release here).

More tomorrow...

4/19/99

You want to start out your Monday right? We've got some great new upcoming DVD information in today's Rumor Mill, including the scoop about just when Fox's ID4 and The Abyss should grace store shelves. We've also got word in there today of a tentative street date for Titanic.

Speaking of Paramount, those of you who wish to voice your requests to the studio regarding DVD, can do so using their new Home Video DVD Consumer Hotline. The number to call is (323) 956-8070, and you'll be able to leave a message with your requests and opinions. How about you tell them you want an anamorphic widescreen special edition DVD of Titanic for starters?

Speaking of Fox, wouldn't you know it? They've gone and changed the cover art to The X-Files and Romeo + Juliet (just click the links to see the new art). We've also posted the correct art for Buena Vista's Clerks: Miramax Collector's Edition (what we had before was apparently temp art using VHS graphics, and not final press art), and we've got A Better Place up as well.

CEMA's DVD Player sales data for the week ending April 9th is now available - 31,206 players sold into retail. The above summary and full chart have both been updated accordingly.

Josh and I would like to thank those of you who called us up on The Digital Man Radio Show on Sunday morning. We had at least two or three Bits readers dial up to say hello, and talk tech. You can now download and listen to yesterday's complete show as a Real Audio file (note that it's a good 5 megs in size). If you do, you'll also get to hear phone-in appearances by Joel Silver, president of the Imaging Science Foundation, and my buddy Peter Bracke, editor of DVD File.com. Just keep in mind that good old Digital Man, while he may be a wiz at many things technical, is still a little rusty on his phone switchboard technique...

Finally today (and speaking of DVD File), everyone here at The Digital Bits would like to congratulate the esteemed Mr. Bracke on his site's recent 1st anniversary. Well done, Pete!

See you tomorrow.

4/16/99

Hey everyone - hope you all got your taxes mailed off yesterday. I actually spent my nite rewiring my home theater system - surprisingly the last thing to be done after the move. Man, what a chore! I swear there's more wires behind my TV, than in your average, mid-sized spacecraft...

All right, just in case you missed it last night, we announced the winner of our April Trivia Contest, so be sure to check that out, and thanks again to all who entered. Also, Doogan's been a busy guy, today throwing in his look at Adam Sandler in The Waterboy, in addition to the six Best Picture films he reviewed yesterday. And darned if we don't have more new DVD art AGAIN today - this time it's Clerks, The Punisher and The Jazz Singer.

Finally, I'd like to mention something new that I've been up to lately. Many of you may know my cohort in crime, Josh Lehman (aka Digital Man). Josh got his online start here at the Bits, answering home theater and DVD tech support questions for our readers for free. The service was so successful, that Josh and I created Ask Digital Man, a unique web site that still provides the best in free online tech support on a whole mess of technical topics. But Josh's super-human online work isn't done yet - he's also known to DVD.com readers as Doc DVD. Yep, it's true. Clark Kent, eat your heart out.

As if all that isn't enough, the Atlanta-based Digital Man has taken tech support to the air waves. The Digital Man Radio Show can now be heard every Sunday morning on WCNN News Radio 680 AM in Atlanta, sponsored by our friends at Access DVD. Here's the show's official promo-speak:

"The Digital Man Show on the CNN Radio Network in Atlanta. Join Josh Lehman, the Digital Man, and Bill Hunt, of The Digital Bits, for the latest home theater and home entertainment news, reviews, and tech support. Call 404-898-0680 11AM to 12PM Eastern Time, 8AM to 9AM Pacific."

I guess you could say I'm Digital Man's sidekick - the straight man, the show's Andy Richter... uh, yikes... scratch that. My role defies explanation. But you'll find me there live, most every weekend anyway, shooting the breeze with DM and helping to answer questions.

So I'd like to officially invite readers of The Digital Bits to give us a call on Sunday. You can ask us questions about DVD, home theater and other subjects, get advice with technical problems, and just plain talk tech. Keep in mind, the call isn't toll-free - we're working on getting an 800 line, and eventually letting people submit questions via e-mail. But this is your chance to talk one-on-one with Josh and I. If you live in the Atlanta area, do give us a call, and definitely listen in. For those of you who aren't so "optimally located", you can still call in. You can also listen to a recording of the previous week's episode via Real Audio download, by going to the Ask Digital Man site (click on the Digital Man Radio Show button). The very first episode is now available for your listening pleasure (note that it's a good 5 meg download - we ain't streaming yet). You can also listen to a Real Audio clip the show's promo spot (only 30k) by clicking here. We're still working out the bugs so to speak, but the show is good clean fun (come on - it IS Sunday morning, after all). I hope you'll tune in.

Have a great weekend!

(LATE UPDATE - 4/15/99 - 9 PM PDT)

The April contest winner has been announced (click here)! We've also revealed all the mystery faces from our contest, including those two bonus faces. You'll find them posted here. Thanks to everyone who entered!

(EARLY UPDATE - 4/15/99 - 4:45 PM PDT)

As promised, Todd's weighed in today with a bunch of new DVD reviews, and we're trying out a new review format. We're still calling it a capsule review, but it's a bit more in depth on the film and the disc, and includes our quick Disc Ratings, as well as the specs. We like it quite a lot, and it should really allow us to cover more discs each week. Don't worry, we'll still be doing our regular full-length reviews for discs that we think really deserve it. Let us know what you think. In any case, Todd's taken a look at six previous Best Picture winning films, including Annie Hall, Rocky, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The Sting, Midnight Cowboy, and West Side Story. Check 'em out!

Also today, we've received new DVD cover scans, for 3 upcoming Universal titles: Battlestar Galactica, Gods and Monsters and Patch Adams: CE. You can find them here. Word is that Battlestar Galactica will feature a 1.1 soundtrack, which replicates the original theatrical "Sensurround" experience - should be cool.

Laserviews has posted a big DVD News update, listing lots of new titles, including some of those Universal DVDs. See... we TOLD you Xanadu was coming!

Just to let you all know, we'll be back later this evening, to announce the winner of the Trivia Contest, so check back at around 9 PM Pacific time.

Finally today, we'd like to welcome DVD Express to the Bits' family of sponsors. You'll notice their spiffy new logo at the top of this page, as well as banners rotating throughout the site. We've been talking with 'em for a while now, and even recently paid a visit to their spanking new facility, deep in the heart of Hollywoodland. We're proud that they support our work here at the Bits, and look forward to a long relationship. Welcome aboard, guys!

Stay tuned...

4/14/99

Today's update is a bit later than usual, because we've just spent HOURS transcribing Columbia TriStar's massive new press release on their upcoming Ghostbusters DVD, which debuts on June 19th. This press releases is packed with interesting details on the disc, which should be the studio most impressive thus far... BY far! Animated 3D menus (one of which features the StayPuft Marshmallow Man - cool!)? "Live" commentary (you can actually watch the silhouettes of the writer, director and producer, laid over the film, watching the film as they talk, a la Mystery Science Theater 3000). Two featurettes, tons of SFX material? Damn - I can't wait for this DVD!

We've also got more upcoming DVD artwork today, including Criterion's Brazil and Henry V (1944), Pioneer's Tenchi Muyo Ultimate Edition, Star Trek V and more (the new art is on pages 5 and 6).

And, last but not least, we've got lots of new upcoming DVD information in today's Rumor Mill update. There's a lot of stuff here from the independent labels, a bevy of titles. Oh heck, let's call it a whole darn slew of titles. Anyway, check it out - Plan 9 from Outer Space is coming.

A reminder - today's your last day to get your entries in for our Trivia Contest. We're giving away that code-free Pioneer DV-414 tomorrow night, so don't delay!

All, right... my fingers are tired from all this typing. Doogan and I will be back tomorrow with some disc reviews. Catch ya then!

4/13/99

Yeah, we interviewed the folks from Pixar yesterday, just like everyone else on Earth. The Buena Vista publicity mill was definitely churning at high speed on Monday. Quick survey - anyone who DIDN'T speak with Pixar yesterday, raise your hands. Seriously, the folks from Pixar were extremely gracious, and spoke with us at length about their work recomposing A Bug's Life for home video and DVD, and other minutia. With any luck, we asked some questions not asked elsewhere, and managed to glean some information not gleaned elsewhere (yadda, yadda, yadda...), so check out our interview transcript if you dare.

We managed to haul in another net full of upcoming DVD cover artwork scans today, including True Lies, Artisan's new Arrival / Arrival 2 double feature DVD, a host of Fox musicals, and even The Cat from Outer Space. There's 17 more covers in all, so do take a gander.

Speaking of True Lies, we've got a bit of info on the upcoming DVD in today's Rumor Mill, along with some other assorted tidbits, and an interesting Divx puzzle if you will.

'Round the Net, DVD Express has gone public (see newswire story), DVD players are "on the rise" over at News.com (see snippet), and HOLY MOLEY, are people waiting in line for Phantom Menace tickets already!? Yep, and you can "virtually" stand in line with them over at Countdown.com. Hell, you can even watch 'em camping out via webcam, and talk to them via ICQ and (how retro) a nearby pay phone. Yikes, man. Just yikes.

Stay tuned... (especially you guys in line over at Mann's Chinese Theater in LA, and the Mann's Village Theater in Westwood, 'cause I'm guessing you have a LOT of time on your hands)!

4/12/99

So did everybody have a good weekend? I spent most of mine settling into the new office, but I did have a chance to catch a couple of new movies. The Matrix was impressive, to say the least. I wouldn't give it an A, but it's a good solid B+, in terms of sci-fi action. I always have to give a film credit, when it lays out a bold, high-concept idea, and just really goes for it. So few films these days even try to deal with ideas anymore. Keanu is actually OK, and Laurence Fishburne is excellent. Plus, the look is sexy-cool stylish, the effects work is first-rate, and the action looks like something out of a John Woo Hong Kong flick, with some interesting twists. I'd compare it to Dark City - bold, different, and definitely worth seeing. I also happened to catch Never Been Kissed, which is good for some funny moments, and light-hearted diversion.

I've been hearing from a lot of you, that you really like it when we post artwork from upcoming DVDs. Well look no further - we've got nearly 20 new DVD cover scans from upcoming titles for you today, including the whole Alien Legacy series, La Bamba, Apt Pupil, The Siege, and lots more. You'll definitely want to feast your eyes.

We also have some new information in today's Rumor Mill update, including word of a new Ridley Scott film coming to DVD, as well as the early scoop on details of the Titanic DVD. The latter news is actually a bit depressing, but you should read it for yourself. I suppose we can always hope Paramount comes through with a better disc than what seems to be in the works at the moment. In any case, you may want to make your opinions on it known...

In other news, as if to bolster DVD's already strong position, Best Buy is saying that they believe DVD will outsell VHS in their stores next year. The electronics retailer is already considered to be the largest "brick and mortar" retailer of DVD in the U.S., with more than 3.5 million discs sold thus far. In the week after Christmas last year, Best Buy sold more DVD product than VHS ($1.2 million in DVD software the day after Christmas alone), and the retailer plans to reduce its VHS inventory next year, to increase DVD sales space yet again. Also, around the Net today, Laserviews has posted another DVD News update, with lots of new Image DVDs listed.

Just a reminder, the Trivia Contest for April ends this Thursday, so get those entries in for your chance to win a code-free Pioneer DV-414 DVD player!

Have a good Monday, and we'll see you tomorrow...

4/9/99

All right boys and girls... we've got some swell new info about forthcoming DVDs in today's Rumor Mill. There's a big harry ape coming to DVD this summer from Paramount, and we don't mean Mighty Joe Young. Some kid named Jason with an attitude (not to mention a goalie mask and some serious cutlery) is also gonna hit DVD soon, and did we mention a swingin' little sci-fi flick with Jane Fonda? How 'bout the possibility of that hanky-wavin' Scottsman and a horde of city-destroying aliens coming to DVD this summer? There's some new DreamWorks information as well, so don't miss it.

Want your smile for the day? Doogan forwarded me a goofy pic of himself, doing a fanboy-cameo routine in an upcoming straight-to-DVD flick from Atomboy! I'd best let him explain it:

[Doogan] Well, you all know what Bill's ugly mug looks like -- so by popular demand, you can now see my even uglier mug. This is coming courtesy of Atomboy Filmworks. Atomboy is a independent production company based in Atlanta, GA, and they're making a daring leap into direct-to-DVD features. This movie still is taken from their latest feature, Save Your Self, which is directed by head Atom Richard Fortenberry. Richard unwittingly cast me as a mariachi for one of the opening scenes of the film. Apparently this picture is the stuff of legend at the Atomboy studio, where it graces a screensaver (and most likely a dart board). Like I said, the film is a direct-to-DVD release scheduled for later this year, and once I get more information about how to get one for your player, you'll be the first to hear about it. Don't laugh...

The Bits' own Todd Doogan

Back to Bill...

OK, Bill here. Well, now that you've heard from El Doogan (and you've finally stopped laughing), there's another bit of good humor for you today, courtesy of The Big Picture. Apparently, Divx is more dangerous than we imagined. Check out Jeff's site, for a look at next week's issue of "The National Enquizer". The screenwriter in me says there's a B-movie in this somewhere - Divx Ate My Brain, anyone?

Speaking of Divx, Circuit City released their financial numbers for fiscal year 1998, and took a hit in their profits due to Divx (see story here). They still claim to be up 37%. The New York Times has a story on the high price of Divx for the electronics retailer (see that here). You can read another story on that Titanic DVD today (click here). And Panasonic is helping to launch the first-ever car theater, featuring DVD, complete with in-dash screen (click here). Something tells me that's not good for road safety...

Finally today, NetFlix has announced that good news, in honor of their birthday. Their rental periods are now two weeks (instead of one), their rental price has been lowered to $3.49 per disc, they have new "value packs" for buying multiple disc rentals at a discount (as low as $2.99 each). Even their shipping and handling charges are lower. Not to shabby.

Have a great weekend!

4/8/99

You want confirmation of that Rumor Mill story we had last month about Titanic coming to DVD in September? Try this little news snippet on for size:

Thursday April 8 5:07 AM ET

Fox To Jump Into DVDs With Titanic Release


By Marc Graser - HOLLYWOOD (Variety) - Twentieth Century Fox plans to sail into the international DVD marketplace in September with its first release, Titanic.

As opposed to many DVD releases, which feature director commentaries and behind-the-scenes featurettes, the Titanic release will include only the picture and trailers, due to its length. Pricing has not yet been set.

Paramount Home Video is planning to berth the film on DVD in the U.S. in September as well, simultaneously with its international release. Again, pricing has not yet been finalized. Additional features besides the trailer may be included, sources said.

Paramount has domestic rights to the maritime blockbuster, while Fox has international.

--end--

Cool no? There's no word yet on specifics, but my sources tell me that dual full frame and widescreen versions are in the works. Let's hope one thing - ANAMORPHIC WIDESCREEN! And how about this for an idea Paramount: include a bunch of extras, like deleted scenes, trailers, a behind the scenes documentary, etc... on a second disc, and package them like that Ten Commandments DVD. The first DVD could hold the film, and perhaps a director's commentary track, and/or an isolated score. Just some ideas fer ya, guys...

In other news, we've got a nifty Bond rumor in today's Rumor Mill. If it pans out, look for more 007 to arrive on DVD in November, just as Bond 19 hits theaters.

Our friends at NetFlix are going to have some big news up soon, so be sure to check their web site through Monday. We can't say what it is yet, but it's very good news for you online DVD renters out there. We'll post the details here as soon as we're able.

Panasonic has unveiled a new portable DVD player, the DVD-L50 Palm Theater, an update of their popular L-10 model. You can read a CNet news story on it here.

Stay tuned...

4/7/99

Have I mentioned how much I hate moving? Well I hate moving. There - a catharsis. I feel better now. What a hassle! We had planned on moving the old home office on Saturday, but when we got to the new location, we discovered it had yet to be cleaned, and repainted! So we had to wait for the painting to be done (late in the day), and do most of the cleaning ourselves. Alas, we didn't get to move in until Sunday, and then our cable modem service wasn't restored until very late yesterday. I spent most of last night trying to sort through boxes of recently received press releases and faxes, to see what's happened in the last few days DVD-wise. But finally, the new office is at least workable - still boxes everywhere, but we're settling in.

As if the moving delay wasn't bad enough, we had to have our phone number changed, despite the fact that we'd moved less than 2 miles. But good old Pacific Bell neglected to tell us that our spiffy new number was just one digit different than the number you call to get the local time. So with Daylight Savings Time kicking in on Sunday, we got some 100 calls from people looking for the correct time. But did they say they had a wrong number? NOoooo... they just hung up. It got so bad, that we nearly ripped the phone off the wall, and we had the number changed AGAIN on Monday. So for all you industry types who have been scratching your heads at our multiple phone number changes, now you know why. We definitely appreciate your patience.

Wow - sure feels good to be back. Thanks to everyone for hanging in there, while we make this transition. Let's get started with the news of the day, shall we?

We've got a bunch of new and revised DVD street dates for titles expected to be released later in the Summer and Fall, including some good new Universal information. We've posted that in today's Rumor Mill update. We've also posted a bunch more upcoming DVD artwork, including all of Buena Vista's May DVD releases. Also, we've got Anchor Bay's official statement on their defective The Black Hole DVD, which has been recalled. Although it isn't mentioned in the statement, Anchor Bay has related to me that anyone with a defective disc should return it to the store where it was purchased, if possible. If you'd rather exchange it for a good one, fixed copies of The Black Hole should begin shipping later this month (after April 19th). Finally, we've updated the CEMA DVD player sales chart to reflect the 37,481 players sold in the week ending March 26th. The running total is now officially in excess of 1.75 million players shipped into retail.

Around the Net today, Laserviews has updated their DVD News page with some new street dates, and a few new title announcements. Also, Warner Bros., Columbia TriStar, New Line and Artisan have teamed up for a major DVD promotional push, starting on April 30th. Some $10 million in advertising has been purchased on TV, and in major magazines, to help the DVD industry reach its goal of 4 million installed DVD players by the end of the year. As part of the promotion, consumers will receive five free DVD movies with the purchase of one of 35 DVD players made by the four manufacturers involved, including Sony, Toshiba, Panasonic, and Philips Magnavox. You can read the official press release here.

And even Buena Vista and Paramount have gotten into the DVD advertising game, believe it or not. I last night saw commercials for both Mighty Joe Young, and The Rugrats Movie, both or which mentioned, "available on VHS and DVD." How's that for a change in policy?

See you tomorrow!


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