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(Archived Posts 12/19/06 - 11/15/06)
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UPDATE - 12/19/06 - 6 PM PST)
Okay... let's catch up with some DVD announcements. We'll start with
Universal. The studio has set The Return
for release on 2/27, along with The Rockford
Files: Season Three. Also, the studio has Hollywoodland
due on 2/6 in both full frame and anamorphic widescreen DVDs, as well as
a DVD/HD-DVD Combo disc.
Paramount has officially set Twin Peaks: The
Second Season for release on 4/10 (see cover art below). Also
due on 4/17 are Happy Days: The Complete
Second Season, Laverne &
Shirley: The Complete Second Season and Mork
& Mindy: The Complete Second Season.
Meanwhile, Disney is prepping a Peter Pan:
2-Disc Platinum Edition for release on 3/6.
Sony has announced Stranger Than Fiction
for release on 2/27.
Lionsgate's January slate will include Dark
Portals: The Chronicles of Vidocq and Balzac
(1/2), Crank (DVD and Blu-ray),
Murder Set Pieces and Live
Nude Girls (1/9), Saw III
(DVD and Blu-ray), Doodlebops Superstars,
Last Light, Rubberface
and a Marvel Animated Features Collector's
Gift Set featuring Ultimate
Avengers: The Movie, Ultimate
Avengers 2 and The Invincible Iron
Man with an Iron Man bust (1/23), The
Invincible Iron Man (1/27) and UFC
7 Classics, UFC 8 Classics,
Unhitched and El
20th Century Fox has set The Addams Family:
Volume Two and The Shield: Season
Five for release on 3/27. They also have The
Full Monty: Fully Exposed Edition due on 3/6, as well as Stargate:
Atlantis - Season Two.
And Warner has set The Departed
for release on 2/13 in single-disc and 2-disc special edition DVD
versions (SRP $28.98 and $34.99 respectively). There's no word yet on
extras. We expect HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc versions to be announced as
well. Other newly announced DVDs from Warner include Ed,
Edd 'n' Eddy: The Complete Second Season (due 4/24), George
Lopez: The Complete First & Second Seasons (4/17), The
Science of Sleep (2/6), Tom Goes
to the Mayor: The Complete Series (4/3), and Infamous
On the high-def front today, Buena Vista has set The
Prestige, Reign of Fire
and Ladder 49 for release on
Blu-ray Disc format on 2/13.
We've also finally heard back from Warner per our high-def inquiry from
early last week. We've spoken today with Warner Home Video's VP of HD
Media Development, Dan Silverberg, about the studio's support of both
the HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc formats moving forward. Here's what he had
"WHV's objective is to have triple day and
date releases for all new theatrical titles on DVD, HD DVD and Blu-ray
Disc. We began this with The Lake House and more recently Superman
Returns and Ant Bully. As for our catalog titles, we would
like to have simultaneous HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc releases. Again, this
is something we have done recently with National Lampoon's Christmas
Vacation and A Christmas Story, and will be doing with Scooby-Doo
and Alexander: The Director's Cut, as well as recent DVD
releases coming soon to high def like Wickerman and Beerfest,
both being the unrated versions.
We also plan to make every effort to "catch-up" the 2006
titles currently only out on HD DVD with the Blu-ray versions in 2007.
There are two reasons that the discrepancy exists. One has to do with
the interactivity layer for BD with respect to picture-in-picture
functionality. Some of our titles like Batman Begins and V
for Vendetta have extensive interactive experiences and we don't
want the Blu-ray consumer to have a "lesser" experience. We
expect that this enhanced interactivity will be ready on the Blu-ray
side soon. The other reason had to do with length of movies and the
availability of 50 GB discs. That situation has already improved, as the
releases of Unforgiven, Last Samurai and Goodfellas
(1/16) show. We are also working on Enter the Dragon and a few
others for early 2007 Blu-ray release as part of that "catching up"
Silverberg also informed me that Warner will be confirming continued
support of both high-def formats at CES early next month, and expects to
announce "some titles of interest" at the show (as will a
number of the other high-def supporting studios, as we reported here at
The Bits last week).
Okay, we'll leave you this evening with a look at some more new DVD
cover art, hot off the wires. Here's Warner's The
Departed: Special Edition, Paramount's Twin
Peaks: The Second Season and South
Park: The Complete Ninth Season (3/6), Universal's Hollywoodland,
Disney's Peter Pan: Platinum Edition
(temp/marketing art) and Fox's The Shield:
Back tomorrow. Stay tuned!
(EARLY UPDATE - 12/19/06
- 3 PM PST)
We're back! Or rather I'M back... from visiting family in North Dakota
over the weekend. Thanks for your patience while I slipped away for an
early Christmas holiday for a few days. It was certainly fun to see the
old homestead again. As it happens, on the night my brother and I
arrived back in frozen (but surprisingly un-snowy) Valley City, we were
treated to an AMAZING display of the Northern Lights. Apparently there
was a solar flare or something earlier in the week, and the result was
the best display I'd ever seen by far. Jason (my brother) happened to
have his camera along, so the two of us dragged our dad out into the
country and took some 30-second, long-exposure pictures. I thought some
of you might get a kick out of seeing a few of them, so here you go...
Those first three were taken with the camera pointed down close to the
horizon, while in the last one it was pointed straight up. Obviously,
that's myself, dad and Jason in that first picture. The shots are a
little blurry, but this was just one of those spur of the moment
opportunities, plus we were struggling to work the tripod in the dark
with frozen hands. Anyway, a good time was had by all... as you can
We'll be back in a little while to start catching you all up on the
latest DVD and high-def news. Tomorrow morning, we're also going to be
posting one last 2006 edition of Classic
Coming Attractions from Barrie Maxwell, in honor of the
holiday season. In the meantime, I'll be trying to catch up on some of
the 3500 e-mails that came in over the weekend while I was away, and
sorting out the wheat from the chaff (or the spam) so to speak.
First, however, we want to acknowledge the passing yesterday of
Hollywood animation legend Joe Barbera. Barbera was the co-creator (with
Bill Hanna) of such beloved classic characters as Fred Flintstone,
George Jetson, Jonny Quest, Tom and Jerry, Scooby-Doo and Yogi Bear. He
was 95. We can't think of a better way to remember him than to enjoy
some of his work on DVD. Thankfully, MANY of these great vintage shows
are now available on disc from Warner. Barbera will certainly be missed.
Back in a bit, so stay tuned...
Just a couple new DVD announcements to report today. Warner has set
Emperors of the Ice for release on
3/20 (for National Geographic). They also have The
Batman: The Complete Third Season and a 3-pack of The
Batman: Seasons 1-3 due on 4/10, as well as Adam
Bede and Daniel Deronda
due on 4/17 (for the BBC).
Also, MGM will be releasing (via Fox) a new Silence
of the Lambs: Collector's Edition on 1/30 (SRP $26.98). The
film will be included in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital
5.1 audio. Extras will include the Inside the
Labyrinth: Making of The Silence of the Lambs documentary,
the 2-part The Silence of the Lambs: Page to
Screen documentary, the 3-part Jonathan
Demme & Jodie Foster documentary, the Scoring
the Silence featurette, the original 1991 featurette, deleted
scenes, an outtakes reel, a phone message by Anthony Hopkins as Lector,
a photo gallery, TV spots and theatrical trailers. MGM also has The
Hannibal Lector Collection Giftset due on 1/30 (SRP $29.98)
containing single-disc editions of The
Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal
And that's going to do it for us here at The
Bits until next week. I'm taking my Christmas holiday a
couple weeks early, and travelling back to North Dakota this weekend for
a surprise visit with my family. Never fear, we'll return on Tuesday,
December 19th with all the latest DVD news and more. Hope you guys all
have a great weekend and we'll see you then!
Hey - not so fast.....it's Sarah here, while I'm uploading this post
for Bill, he may be away, but I will be back with a special giveaway
from Sideshow Collectibles and a little story about a trip to Las Vegas
last November BEFORE Tuesday, so you might want to check back for that.
Especially if you are eagerly awaiting a certain film to open next week,
you'll want to check it out!
We've got some sad news to report today. Veteran film and TV actor
Boyle has passed away at the age of 71. Boyle's list of credits is
surprisingly long and deep, but it's for his appearance as The Monster
in Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein
that he first gained notoriety. Most people, of course, will know him
best as Ray's dad, Frank, on TV's Everybody
Loves Raymond. I have to say, though, I think my favorite of
all of Boyle's roles over the years was Clyde Bruckman, the reluctant
psychic with the power to foresee how people will die, on the classic
X-Files episode Clyde
Bruckman's Final Repose. Character acting just doesn't get
much better than that. Our friend Moriarty over at AICN
has written a
nice remembrance of Boyle today that's worth checking out. We'll
miss you, Peter.
Here at The Bits today, we've got
Todd Doogan's latest
Release Roundup for you. Todd runs down the major DVD releases
that have arrived in stores this week, and gives you his quick take on
which are worth your time.
As is to be expected occasionally in mid-December, there's little real
DVD news to report today. The only high-def news worth mentioning is
that Sony's first Blu-ray Disc player, the long-delayed BDP-S1, is
finally shipping to retailers (read more
at Home Media Retailing). Toshiba's second-generation
HD-DVD players (the HD-A2 and HD-XA2) should also now be available in
One other quick note today... I was able to slip away last night and
catch a screening of Mel Gibson's Apocalypto
with Matt Rowe of our MusicTAP
affiliate site. I have to admit, it's not really a film I was looking
forward to. What with all the hype, and all the bad press Gibson's
gotten recently, neither of us was quite sure what to expect. Turns out
it's a pretty damn good film. The story is compelling, it's well written
and shot, the characters are interesting and the tension builds nicely.
It's violent to be sure, but not nearly as much as I expected based on
some of the recent media comments (I suppose it shouldn't be too
surprising that the film's violence, like so much else, has been
overblown by the media). There are a couple of extremely unlikely and
convenient turns in the plot, but when you get right down to it, it's a
good piece of work. I wouldn't call it great... but it's well worth
seeing. As Matt noted, the theater was awfully full for a Tuesday night
(and for a film all in Mayan no less). Whether you like Gibson
personally or not, one thing's for sure: The man knows how to make an
Okay... we're pleased today to bring you
latest installment of Barrie Maxwell's Classic Coming Attractions.
In this edition, Barrie reviews 15 new and recent classic DVD releases,
Noir: Volume 2 and
Noir: Volume 3, 20th Century Fox's
Rodgers & Hammerstein Collection, Warner's
Cooper: The Signature Collection,
Picture Masterpieces box set,
Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume Four, the
& Rogers Collection: Volume 2, Paramount's
Martin & Jerry Lewis Collection: Volume One,
Andy Griffith Show: The Complete Seventh Season,
Andy Griffith Show: The Complete Final Season and
What a Lovely War: Special Collector's Edition, Criterion's
Canterbury Tale and Questar's
in America's Western Parks. As always, Barrie also runs down
the latest classic release announcements. Enjoy!
Elsewhere around The Bits today,
we've kicked off TWO new
giving each of you the chance to win copies of a TON of great Warner
titles, including The
Hollywood: Volume 1,
A Star Is Born,
The Ant Bully,
Dukes of Hazzard: Season Seven,
Without a Santa Claus and
Season Five, along with Warner's
Volume Two and
the Brain: Volume Two. The contests will run until Noon
(Pacific), on Sunday, December 24th. Click on the links to get started
and good luck!
In DVD news today, Universal has set Alias
Smith and Jones: Season One for release on 2/20 (SRP $39.98).
They've also set Barbie Fairytopia: Magic of
the Rainbow for release on 3/6, with The
Land Before Time XII: The Great Day of the Flyers expected on
Geneon Entertainment will release Trigun:
Volume 6 on 1/2, with Fighting
Spirit: Volume 16 following on 1/9, and Gun
Sword: Volume 5 and The Law of
Ueki: Volume 5 due on 1/16.
Meanwhile, Paramount has announced The
Untouchables: Season One, Volume One (the Robert Stack
series) and The Streets of San Francisco: The
First Season, Volume One for release on 4/3, with Bang
the Drum Slowly, Fear Strikes Out
and Talent for the Game following
on 4/6. They've also officially announced the Comedy
Central Roast of William Shatner - Uncensored! for release on
3/20, as well as I Love Lucy: The Complete
7th, 8th & 9th Seasons which is expected on 3/13.
In other release news, New Line has announced Tenacious
D in The Pick of Destiny for release on 2/27 (SRP $27.95).
Extras will include audio commentary, deleted and extended scenes,
featurettes, a behind-the-scenes documentary, a music video and more.
MGM (via 20th Century Fox) has also announced a Fiddler
on the Roof: 2-Disc Collector's Edition for release on 1/23
(SRP $26.98). Extras will include audio commentary with director Norman
Jewison and actor Topol, deleted scenes, a documentary, 6 featurettes,
interviews, photo galleries, trailers and more.
Speaking of Fox, an L.A.-area judge threw out yesterday a lawsuit by a
pair of fraternity brothers (featured in a rather embarrassing scene in
the film) that could have delayed the DVD release of Borat.
You can read more
at MSNBC and
There's more high-def news to report today as well: 20th Century Fox
has just announced the Blu-ray Disc release of Ice
Age, Mr. & Mrs. Smith,
Dodgeball and Commando
on 3/13 (SRP $39.98 each). Mr. & Mrs.
Smith will feature AVC compression, while the rest will be
MPEG-2. All will have 5.1 DTS HD Lossless audio and at least a few
extras each (repurposed from the DVD releases).
Meanwhile, Universal Home Entertainment has gotten back to us this
afternoon with a bit of news regarding their high-def plans. Vivian
Meyer, the studio's Senior VP of Publicity, has informed us that the
studio will continue exclusively backing the HD-DVD format in 2007 and
expects to make a number of major HD-DVD release announcements at CES
Finally today, here's more new cover art... Paramount's The
Wild Wild West: The Second Season (3/20) and the Ghost:
Special Collector's Edition (3/13), along with MGM's Fiddler
on the Roof: 2-Disc Collector's Edition...
Afternoon, folks. There's some interesting DVD announcement news to
report today, and we've got a high-def follow-up from Friday's post as
well. Let's start with the DVD news...
First, Warner Home Video has announced the 3/27 debut of a 5-disc Errol
Flynn: The Signature Collection, Volume 2 box set. The set
will contain Adventures of Don Juan
(1948), The Charge of the Light Brigade
(1936), The Dawn Patrol (1938),
Dive Bomber (1941) and Gentleman
Jim (1942). All of these films will also available
individually for SRP $19.97 each. Adventures
of Don Juan will include audio commentary by director Vincent
Sherman and historian Rudy Behlmer. All of the titles except The
Dawn Patrol will include Warner Night at the Movies short
subjects. All will include theatrical trailers. And Gentleman
Jim will include an audio-only feature: a radio show
adaptation of the same story featuring Errol Flynn, Alexis Smith and
Ward Bond (with subtitles).
Sony has announced American Hardcore,
of Fury, Walking Tall: The Payback,
The Three Stooges: Hapless Half-Wits
(colorized), A Man for All Seasons: Special
Edition, a Final Fantasy VII:
Advent Children - Limited Edition Collector's Set (that
includes a bonus disc, the script, a book and postcards) and a Blu-ray
Disc version of Vertical Limit,
all for release on 2/20.
Meanwhile, Universal has announced a Family
Favorites 4-Movie Collection (3/20 - SRP $26.98) set to
include Casper, Flipper,
Leave It to Beaver and The
The latest e-mail newsletter from Criterion hints that the company will
be releasing more classics from filmmaker Ingmar Bergman on DVD in early
2007. At least five more titles are apparently in the offing.
And our friends over at Media Blasters have sent us word that they're
releasing Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman -
Volume Six on 1/30. This will complete the DVD release of the
classic Japanese TV show's first season. Media Blasters is currently
evaluating whether they'll continue with seasons 2-4. We certainly hope
they do! FYI, Volume Six will
include episodes 22-26 (Song of the Father
and Son, Suicide Song of Lovers,
The Coming of Spring, Way
of the Yakuza and Traveling Alone).
Okay... now for a bit of high-def news. I said on Friday that you can
expect some major title announcements at the Consumer Electronics Show
(CES) in January. Well, I wasn't kidding and we've got a bit of
follow-up for you.
I've just spoken today with Eric Maehara, VP of Communications for
Buena Vista Home Entertainment. He informed me that the studio is
planning to announce a MAJOR Blu-ray Disc release line-up for the first
half of 2007 at CES. In addition, he reiterated to me in no uncertain
terms that BVHE has no plans to support HD-DVD, despite persistent
online rumors to the contrary.
I've also spoken this afternoon with Steve Feldstein, Senior VP of
Corporate and Marketing Communications for 20th Century Fox Home
Entertainment. He likewise confirmed that Fox has no plans to support
HD-DVD, and that the studio will also be announcing additional Blu-ray
Disc titles at CES.
Paramount's Senior VP for Worldwide DVD Production, Jeff Radoycis, has
informed me that the studio is currently focusing on new release titles,
but is also busy evaluating a number of major catalog titles for their
readiness to be released on HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc in the year ahead.
The studio definitely expects to continue supporting both high-def
formats equally in 2007.
And on Friday afternoon I spoke with a press representative of New Line
Home Entertainment regarding their future high-def releases. The latest
official word is that the studio is currently still evaluating their
plans as far as which format(s) they might support and what titles they
might want to release. For now, don't expect anything from them on
either format until probably mid-2007.
We've got follow-up inquiries in to Warner, Universal and Sony with
regard to their forthcoming high-def announcement plans, in particular
whether they plan any major announcements at CES or not. We'll post the
details of their responses as soon as they come in.
Okay... we'll leave you today with more new cover art. Here's Media
Blaster's Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman -
Volume Six, Criterion's Green for
Danger (2/13) and Universal's The
Mummy Returns HD-DVD (1/16)...
We'll be back with Barrie's new Classic
Coming Attractions column later tonight or early tomorrow AM.
Well... looks like we're going close out the week with some major
high-definition news. Buena Vista Home Entertainment has announced (via
website) an updated January 2007 Blu-ray Disc release slate. Due
on 1/23 are Casanova, Chicago,
The Guardian and The
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. All will be 50GB titles,
most of which will SRP for $34.99 each.
Lionsgate has confirmed their 1/23 Blu-ray release of the Saw
III: Unrated Edition (SRP $39.99). Extras will include audio
commentary with director Darren Lynn Bousman, writer/executive producer
Leigh Whannell and executive producers Peter Block and Jason
Constantine, a second commentary with producers Oren Koules and Mark
Burg, a third commentary with Bousman, editor Kevin Greutert and DP
David A. Armstrong, deleted scenes and 5 featurettes (The
Props of Saw III, The Details of
Death: The Traps of Saw III, Darren's
Diary: Anatomy of a Director, Amanda:
Evolution of a Killer and The
Writing of Saw III). The
Release List has been updated accordingly.
Pioneer has also just released Ghost in the
Shell: Innocence on Blu-ray Disc in Japan (you'll find it at
Japan - $70 U.S. dollars).
Meanwhile, Warner has informed me that the studio is committed to
catching up with their Blu-ray Disc releases in 2007, so that all
previously released HD-DVD titles will be available on Blu-ray as well,
and future titles will be released on both formats simultaneously.
While we're talking Warner HD-DVD, the studio has released Harry
Potter and the Goblet of Fire on that format in the U.K.
(you'll find it at
UK) and reports from readers indicate that it plays flawlessly on
U.S. players. The U.S. release of the title is expected to be announced
early next year. In fact, watch for a number of major high-definition
release announcements to be made by the studios at the Consumer
Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas next month (January 8-10). Some big
catalog titles are in the wings for release in early 2007 on both
One last bit of high-def news today. There's apparently a report that's
been issued by the marketing research firm Cymfony, in which "enthusiast
sentiment" about both high-def formats has been measured... sort
drowning in negative buzz" says the headline at arstechnica.
Basically, Cymfony conducted an informal survey of enthusiast websites,
blogs and other places where people are talking about the new HD
formats, and found 46 percent more "positive discussions"
about HD-DVD than about Blu-ray. Reportedly, this is not because of any
complaints about technical deficiencies of the Blu-ray format, but
rather because home theater enthusiasts and gamers seem to have a more
negative attitude towards Sony right now (for having launched many
failed formats in the past, for delaying the PS3 and bumping up the
cost, and for a general perception of corporate arrogance). I've had a
few people e-mail this to me this morning, some of them claiming it as
proof that HD-DVD is winning the format war (in the same way that select
people regularly e-mail me the list of top selling high-def titles on
Amazon as proof of one format or the other winning - I can tell you from
personal experience that the Amazon numbers are almost meaningless in
terms of judging actual strength of sales). Frankly, I wouldn't read too
much into any of this, though I'm sure some folks will anyway.
This report is certainly interesting, but it's not really anything new
or surprising. It's also not really a fair comparison. The fact is,
HD-DVD beat Blu-ray to the market by several months and the HD-DVD
supporting studios have released more titles on that format, so it's
only naturally going to have more positive buzz. What's more, not only
has the Blu-ray camp been slower with both hardware and software, the
delay and higher price of the PS3 has drawn loud complaints from gamers,
which has skewed the buzz negative. Frankly, I'll be more interested to
see measurements of enthusiast sentiment next year, once Warner's
Blu-ray slate has caught up to its HD-DVD slate, once Fox, Disney, MGM,
Sony and Lionsgate have begun releasing many more exclusive Blu-ray Disc
titles (major catalog releases along the lines of the Bond films, Alien,
ID4 and the Disney animated
films), once there are several million PS3s sold, once Sony and
Pioneer's players have finally arrived in stores and once you start to
see hardware prices come down a bit.
As I've said before, BOTH formats can (and usually do) deliver
outstanding picture and sound quality. Don't let anyone tell you
otherwise. The slight differences in video quality some perceive between
the two have less to do with individual format specs, and more to do
with quirks or deficiencies of the early players and the different video
compression schemes being used to encode the films. Personally, I've
discovered that I tend to have a preference for AVC and VC1, which
HD-DVD uses exclusively. Most early Blu-ray Discs have been encoded in
MPEG-2 which, while adequate, seems to lend a slightly softer look to
the resulting image. But more and more Blu-ray titles are being encoded
in AVC and VC1 these days, so that difference is starting to become
irrelevant. And the more hardware that becomes available for each
format, the better one is able to judge overall format quality vs.
Based on what I'm being told by industry sources, Blu-ray Disc should
start to close the gap in early 2007, both in terms of hardware
availability and the sheer number of titles released. Sales of Blu-ray
software are reportedly already on the rise, likely triggered by the
debut of the PS3 (although NEITHER camp is yet willing to release
specific hardware or software sales figures yet, which tells you a lot
about consumer interest in HD discs overall).
I'll be the first to admit that, prior to either format launching, I
felt Blu-ray Disc had the clear edge in studio and hardware support.
I'll also be the first to admit that I've been VERY impressed with
HD-DVD so far, and in particular with the efforts of Warner and
Universal to release tons of great catalog titles on the format.
However, the Blu-ray studios are only now just starting to really ramp
up their catalog release slates, so we haven't yet seen a level playing
field between the two formats. That will change in 2007, when both camps
will be finally be bringing their A-games to this competition. Only then
will enthusiasts be able to make truly fair comparisons between the two
formats in terms of hardware and software... and we'll see what happens.
It's certainly going to be interesting.
Okay... it's mostly quiet on the standard DVD front again today, I'm
afraid. We do have word, however, that Universal has announced the
release of Northern Exposure: The Complete
Sixth Season on 3/6.
has begun taking preorders for MGM's Stargate
Atlantis: Season Two, with the street date listed as 3/6 (SRP
$49.98). We expect an official announcement soon.
And BCI has officially announced the DVD release of the animated Ghostbusters
on 2/27. Filmation's Ghostbusters: Volume One
will be a 6-disc set (SRP $39.98) that includes the first 32 episodes
along with new interviews with the show's creators, an anti-drug PSA,
the original 10-minute presentation/promo pilot episode, a storyboard
slideshow, an image gallery, Easter eggs and trivia, and a bonus
Elsewhere here at The Bits, we've
posted another update of
Rumor Mill featuring a few more new anticipated street dates
for early 2007 DVD releases. Don't miss it.
And we've got a bit of new DVD cover art for you to check out today as
well. Here's Fox's Trust the Man
(2/6), Sony's Gandhi: 25th Anniversary
Edition (2/13), BCI's Ghostbusters:
Volume One, Criterion's 49th
Parallel (2/13), Pioneer's Ghost
in the Shell: Innocence Blu-ray (Japan only) and Warner's
Poseidon HD-DVD (12/31)...
Okay... that's all for now. If we don't post again today (for lack of
news), have a great weekend and we'll see you back here on Monday with a
new Classic Coming Attractions
column from Barrie Maxwell, and more new disc reviews (including some
Blu-ray and HD-DVD reviews). Stay tuned...
It's another typically slow December news day DVD-wise here at The
Bits. Hardly anything's getting announced at the moment it
seems. The studios are all waiting until next month to really start the
big early 2007 announcements, and they're waiting for CES to announce
any big HD-DVD or Blu-ray Disc news. So we're going to go work on more
disc reviews today for posting soon. There's never a lack of titles to
review, that's for sure.
I've also been busy debugging a troublesome computer - scandisking,
defragging and, of course, the endless struggle to create more free
space on the hard drives. So if for some reason you've been trying to
contact me, just know that I probably won't be able to access my e-mail
until tonight. Ugh.
There is one big bit of news in the industry today, which is that
Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's
Chest sold a whopping 5 million copies on DVD on just its
first day of release. Industry analysts are expecting it to be the
biggest release of the year when all is said and done. The studio also
held a promotional event this week in Hollywood which fans were made to
"walk the plank." You can read more at
Afternoon, folks! As promised, we've got more new DVD reviews for you
today, including my thoughts on CBS/Paramount's new
Trek: The Animated Series, 20th Century Fox's 36-disc
The Martinis & Medicine Collection and Universal Music's
18: Singles - Limited Edition (CD/DVD) and
Zoo TV Live from Sydney - Limited Edition. All of these titles
are now available in stores.
Also as promised today, we've got Todd's quickie
Roundup of the latest DVD releases in stores this week.
There's some good new classic film box sets in particular that arrived
in stores yesterday, so don't miss it.
As we've said before, December is typically a very slow month for new
announcements, but we do have a few to report today. First, 20th Century
Fox has set Anything But Love: Volume 1
for release on 2/6. That's the TV series staring Jamie Lee Curtis and
Richard Lewis. They've also set Lillian
Russell (1940) and The Gang's All
Here (1944) for release on 2/20. Finally, they're planning a
new Romeo + Juliet: Music Edition
on 2/6 as well - that's the Baz Luhrmann film, by the way. No word yet
Finally, Warner has announced One Foot in
the Grave: Season One, One Foot in
the Grave: Season Two, The Cherry
Orchard (1981/1962), The Judi
Dench Collection and Clarkson:
Heaven and Hell for release on 3/27 (all of them BBC titles),
along with NBA Los Angeles Lakers 1985
Champions: Return to Glory, Full
House: The Complete Sixth Season and a Full
House: Seasons 1-6 gift pack.
Back tomorrow. Stay tuned!
Okay... sorry today's post is a little late, but we're getting ready to
unleash a barrage of disc reviews. We'll start this evening with a look
at Disney and Pixar's
(the widescreen version, of course), along with Universal's
Galactica: Season 2.5 and BCI Eclipse's
II: The Complete Series. Then we'll be back with at least
three more DVD reviews tomorrow, along with Todd's latest Weekly
Release Roundup. We'll also have more high-def reviews by the
end of the week as well, so be sure to watch for them.
Some quick DVD announcements today... Universal has set Man
of the Year and Curious George's
Zoo Night and Other Animal Stories for release on 2/20, with
Kettle of Fish following on 3/6,
and Sex Sells due on 3/27.
Also, Warner has announced four more high-definition titles for release
on 1/16: Scooby-Doo: The Movie on
both HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc, GoodFellas
on Blu-Ray Disc and Poseidon on
HD-DVD. Each will carry an SRP of $28.99, and will include all of the
bonus materials that were offered on the standard DVD releases. Poseidon
will also include a new In-Movie Experience (IME), in which actor Josh
Lucas discusses "the challenges of creating
special effects and action on a water drenched set." Should
be riveting. The
Release List has been updated accordingly.
Back with more tomorrow, so stay tuned!
Afternoon, folks! We've got a few interesting new DVD announcements to
report, including a title coming in a couple of weeks that almost
slipped by our attention.
I'm speaking of Lionsgate's The Doors:
15-Year Anniversary Edition, due on 12/12 (SRP $19.98). The
set includes the film in both full frame and newly remastered anamorphic
widescreen (I believe this is the first time this film has been
available in anamorphic), with audio in both Dolby Digital 5.1 EX and
DTS 6.1 ES. Extras include a new one-on-one interview with director
Oliver Stone, 3 documentaries (The Doors in
Los Angeles, The Jim Morrison
Phenomena in Paris and The Road to
Excess) and some 43 minutes worth of additional scenes and
Also coming from Lionsgate on 12/26 is The
Descent. The title will be available Unrated anamorphic
widescreen, Unrated full frame and R-rated full frame editions (SRP
$28.98 each), as well as a Blu-ray Disc edition that includes both
versions of the film in 1080p widescreen (SRP $39.99). The Unrated DVDs
will include audio commentary with the director and cast, a second
commentary with the director and members of the production crew, The
Descent: Beneath the Scenes documentary, deleted and extended
scenes, outtakes, the DesENDING
interview with the director, storyboards and scene comparisons, a stills
gallery, and cast and crew biographies. The full frame R-rated edition
will include only the audio commentary with the director and cast. The
Descent Blu-ray Disc will include both versions of the film
via seamless branching, 6.1 PCM uncompressed audio and Dolby Digital 5.1
EX audio, all of the Unrated DVD extras, plus an in-movie interactive
experience called The Gate (that
lets you view behind-the-scenes material while watching the film) and a
short featurette called Caving in
In other news today, Paramount will release Penn
& Teller: Bullshit!: The Complete Fourth Season on 2/20.
Also, Sony has set Zoom: Academy for
Superheroes, Half Nelson,
The Quiet, All
in the Family: The Complete Sixth Season, Grosse
Pointe: The Complete Series, a 2-disc Gandhi:
25th Anniversary Collector's Edition and Marie
Antoinette, all for release on 2/13.
Finally, 20th Century Fox has just announced a new 2-disc Passion
of the Christ: Definitive Edition for release on 1/30 (SRP
$26.98). Disc One will include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby
Digital and DTS 5.1 audio, two versions of the film (the original and a
"recut" edition) via seamless branching and 4 audio commentary
tracks (the first three available only on the original edition of the
film - filmmaker commentary with Mel Gibson, Caleb Deschanel and John
Wright, production commentary with Stephen McEveety, Ted Rae and Keith
Vanderlaan, theologian commentary with Gibson, Father William J. Fulco,
Gerry Matatics and Father John Bartunek, and selected scenes music
commentary by John Debney). Disc Two will include the feature-length,
multi-part By His Wounds We Are Healed:
Making The Passion of the Christ documentary, a panel
discussion, the multi-part The Legacy
documentary, deleted scenes, galleries of production art, historical
texts and other images, and the theatrical trailer.
Here's a look at the cover art for The
Descent, The Doors and
Passion of the Christ...
Back with more later. Stay tuned...
Afternoon, lads and lasses! Well... just found out I'm doing the
PetSmart Santa thing again this weekend, plus the wind and snow's
blowing like crazy in a lot of places and poor ol' Doogan's been knocked
silly with a cold. Must be December. Bbbbrrrrrr!
Speaking of Doogan, despite being a little under the weather, he's
turned in his
Roundup for this week, running down all of the week's
new-in-stores DVD releases. Drop him
an e-mail if you get
the chance and give him a little pick-me up to cut through all the
mucous and whatnot.
Not much news today, but Warner has announced that they're releasing
the following titles for HBO in early 2007: Russell
Simmons Presents Def Poetry: Season 4 and Russell
Simmons Presents Def Poetry: Seasons 1-4 Pack (both 2/27),
followed by The Affair, Age
Old Friends, The Image,
of Emergency and Women & Men 2
Also, Universal has unveiled the 1/30 release of a Half
Baked DVD/HD-DVD combo disc. The
Release List has naturally been updated.
Lack of announcements aside, we do have a
Mill update that you'll dig if you're interested in tentative
street dates for Flushed Away,
Shut Up & Sing, Borat,
A Good Year, Twin
Peaks: Season 2, For Your
Consideration and more. Don't miss it.
And that's about it. We'll have some new DVD reviews for you on Monday,
plus any late-breaking news and the usual hijinks. Don't forget the new
Battlestar on Sci-Fi tonight. And,
or course, have a great weekend!
We've got one new announcement to report for you today: Buena Vista has
set Andrew Davis' The Guardian for
release on 1/23. You'll get audio commentary with Davis and the
screenwriter, deleted scenes, an alternate ending and two featurettes (The
Guardian: Making Waves and Unsung
Heroes: So Others May Live).
We've got a few more Superman
disc replacement notes today as well. First, Canadian readers are
reporting that they're able to use WHV's 800 number, so if you're north
of the border that should be good news. Second, a number of retailers
have apparently pulled the 14-disc Superman
box set from their shelves and are waiting for updated sets, presumably
to avoid having to deal with lots of complaints and returns. Other
retailers are already sold out of their initial shipments. So if you're
having a hard time finding it, that's why. New sets should start
arriving in 2-3 weeks. In addition, a couple of U.K. readers who
pre-ordered the R1 sets via Amazon have reported receiving e-mails from
Amazon telling them to expect their sets to ship in early-to-mid
December... and they're supposedly going to be the corrected sets. So
that's another bit of good news for at least some of you international
Also today, we wanted to address some rumors that are apparently
circulating on various discussion forums regarding Buena Vista's Pirates
of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest DVD. The rumor apparently
says that there's a 3-disc special edition version of the title planned
for next May. We've contacted the studio and they swear to us that the
2-Disc Collector's Edition (due next week on 12/5) is the ONLY one
currently planned. No doubt there will be a box set of all THREE films
late next year, after Pirates of the
Caribbean: At Worlds End hits theaters (we also expect
Blu-ray versions eventually), but for now the studio tells us the 12/5
release is the big one. Just FYI.
A quick correction from yesterday's post - we mistakenly got the street
date wrong for Warner's Justice League
Unlimited: The Complete Second Season and Batman
Beyond: Season 3. It should be 3/20 (we've corrected the
earlier post). What can we say... brain fart. It happens. ;)
Around the site today, we've updated some of the DVD format stats we
We've also updated the
Release List with newly announced titles, street date changes
and Amazon purchase links. The updated titles are in ORANGE
text. In addition to the recently announced titles that we've mentioned
here in the daily column in the last few days, Genius Products has
announced revised street dates for a number of Weinstein Company HD-DVD
releases, including Derailed, Wolf
Creek, Scary Movie 4
and The Matador (all now due on
12/19), and Clerks II, Pulse
and Lucky Number Slevin (due on
We'll be back tomorrow with Todd's new Weekly
Roundup, some Rumor Mill
info and maybe even a few more disc reviews. Stay tuned...
Okay... we're kicking this off this afternoon with a pair of new DVD
reviews, both titles we enjoyed a great deal. The first is Sony's new
Evening with Kevin Smith 2: Evening Harder, which just arrived
in stores on Tuesday. The second is Universal's long awaited
Night Live: The Complete First Season, which streets on 12/5.
Don't miss either title (and enjoy the reviews).
There are a few DVD announcements to report today: 20th Century Fox has
set Flyboys for release on 1/30.
There will be a standard edition DVD in full frame and anamorphic
widescreen (SRP $29.98), a 2-disc Collector's Edition (SRP $39.98) and a
Blu-ray Disc release (also $39.98). The single disc DVD will include
Dolby Digital and DTS audio, audio commentary with director Tony Bill
and producer Dean Devlin, 15 minutes of deleted scenes, 3 featurettes (Real
Heros: The True Story of the Lafayette Escadrille, Taking
Flight: The Making of a Flying Sequence and Life
of a Miniature Stunt Pilot) and trailers. The 2-disc set adds
2 more featurettes (Whiskey and Soda: The
Lion Mascots and The Real Planes
of Flyboys), a DVD-ROM game and more. The Blu-ray Disc will
have all this along with DTS 5.1 "lossless" audio and a pop-up
Also just announced for DVD release by Fox are One
Night with The King and both R and Unrated editions of Marine
(both 1/30), as well as Trust the Man
Fox has also announced more Blu-ray Disc releases, including Marine
(2/13) and Hart's War (1/30).
Meanwhile, Paramount has officially confirmed Hawaii
Five-O: The First Season for release on 3/6, along with Sabrina,
The Teenage Witch: The Complete First Season and South
Park: The Complete Ninth Season. Following on 3/13 are Bosom
Buddies: The First Season, a Ghost:
Special Collector's Edition, I
Love Lucy: The Complete 7th, 8th & 9th Seasons and Max
& Ruby: Easter with Max & Ruby. On 3/20 look for JAG:
The Complete Third Season, Sleeper
Cell American Terror: The Complete Second Season and The
Wild Wild West: The Complete Second Season.
Can't recall if I've mentioned it before, but BCI will release Space
Academy: The Complete Series on 1/16 (SRP $29.98). You'll get
all 15 episodes on 4 discs, plus the Back to
School with Space Academy documentary, 2 audio commentaries,
scripts, art galleries and more. Can Jason of
Star Command be far behind?
Finally, Warner has set Justice League
Unlimited: The Complete Second Season and Batman
Beyond: Season 3 for release on 3/20. They also have Without
a Trace: The Complete Second Season due on 2/6 and HBO's Sex
and the City Essentials: The Best of Fashion due on 12/6.
Around the site today, we've also kicked off FIVE new
giving you all the chance to win copies of Warner's
box sets, the Kirk Alyn
and the new Astaire
& Rogers box,
four great anime
titles from Anchor Bay including
of Cagliostro, Image's
Francisco Ouch! Live from San Jose, HBO's
Rodriguez and Anchor Bay's
Season 6. The contests will run until Noon (Pacific) on
Sunday, December 10th. Click on the links to get started and good luck!
Here's cover art for Flyboys,
BCI's Space Academy: The Complete Series
and Hawaii Five-O: The First Season...
We're busy working on some more disc reviews this afternoon, for
posting over the next few days, but we wanted to pop in here with a
couple of quick follow-up comments on WHV's Superman
disc replacement program.
First, operators are basically just taking your names and phone numbers
at this point. It will be a few days before all the details are in
place, and they know when discs will be available. Discs are being
replicated now, but it takes time. And if you get put on hold or have a
hard time getting through, be patient. They're getting a LOT of calls.
Just to be precise, the 1978 Superman theatrical edition disc (Disc One
of the Ultimate Collector's Edition)
is supposed to have the revised 5.1 audio (edited down from the 2001
Extended Edition's 5.1 remix) and the ORIGINAL THEATRICAL 2.0 audio.
That's what the corrected discs will contain (right now, the 2.0 is the
remix also rather than the original theatrical audio).
WHV tells me that corrected DVDs and sets will eventually find their
way into stores (as a 'running' production change) once the current
stock sells out. They'll have new SKU numbers to distinguish them from
the current ones - don't know what those are yet.
Finally, for you international (non U.S.) customers who may have
purchased the Region 1 sets online via Amazon, Warner is checking with
Amazon to confirm arrangements to make the corrected discs available to
you. We're waiting to hear back from WHV to see if there will be a phone
number or mailing address that other international customers (who may
have purchased R1 sets online) can use to get the corrected discs. We'll
try to let you know.
Moving on, we've got a little bit of release/announcement news today.
We've confirmed that Sony's Open Season
will be released in 4 versions on 1/30 - full frame DVD, anamorphic
widescreen DVD, Blu-ray Disc and UMD. The studio has also announced that
it will release Boynton Beach Club,
Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles,
About You: The Complete Third Season and Here
Comes Mr. Jordan on 2/6. Also streeting on 2/6 are Blu-ray
Disc releases of Glory and The
Tailor of Panama. The Grudge 2
is expected to be released on 2/6 as well, but details have yet to be
Meanwhile, Universal has set Catch a Fire
for release on 1/30, with Emergency!: Season
Three following on 2/13, Private
School following on 3/6 and the W.C.
Fields Comedy Collection: Volume 2 (SRP $59.98, containing
Never Give a Sucker an Even Break,
Man on the Flying Trapeze, The Old
Fashioned Way and You're Telling
Me!) arriving on 3/20.
(LATE UPDATE - 11/27/06 -
8 PM PST)
Okay, folks. Here's Warner's official statement on the Superman discs:
"Bonus content was omitted from the Superman
III Deluxe Edition in the 14-disc Superman Ultimate Collector's
Edition. Furthermore, disc one of Superman: The Movie Four Disc
Special Edition did not include the Dolby Digital 2.0 mix. Neither
disc is known to be physically defective in any way.
Warner Home Video wants to extend apologies to all of our loyal
Superman fans who've waited so patiently for these great collections and
has taken immediate steps to correct these errors with the intention of
standing behind our product 100%.
Replacement discs can be obtained by calling: 800-553-6937. The
exchange program applies only to purchases of the Superman III
Deluxe Edition in the Superman Ultimate Collector's Edition
and to disc one of Superman: The Movie Four Disc Special Edition,
available as a single title, as well as in The Christopher Reeve
Superman Collection and in the Superman Ultimate Collector's
Just so you know, we're trying to find out if and when future corrected
sets might arrive in stores, and if this replacement program will work
for international customers (who may have purchased the R1 sets via
Amazon) as well. We'll let you know when we hear anything on these
(LATE UPDATE - 11/27/06 - 4 PM PST)
Here's the deal - we've just spoken with Warner Home Video. They ARE
going to be issuing corrected discs for both Disc One of the Superman:
The Movie - Four-Disc Special Edition (also Disc One of the
Superman: Ultimate Collector's Edition
14-disc set) AND Disc Eight of the Superman:
Ultimate Collector's Edition. Disc One will feature the
CORRECT original 2.0 audio track for Superman:
The Movie and Disc Eight will feature the new Superman
III: Deluxe Edition. ALL of the other discs streeting
tomorrow are correct. The mistakes in the Superman:
The Movie - Four-Disc Special Edition and the Superman:
Ultimate Collector's Edition were apparently just honest
authoring/replication errors - not deliberate decisions - and Warner is
already in the process of correcting them. NO recall of existing sets is
planned at the moment, but we'll have an 800 number shortly that you can
call and arrange to have the corrected discs sent to you via mail. The
official statement from Warner will follow shortly, so be sure to check
back in a little while.
(LATE UPDATE - 11/27/06 - 3:30 PM PST)
Okay... we've just posted an in-depth review of Warner's new 14-disc
Ultimate Collector's Edition box set, which streets tomorrow.
As we note in the review (and in our earlier post from today), there are
a pair of very serious problems with the otherwise excellent set. We've
been in touch with Warner reps today, and have been told that the studio
will be making some kind of official statement as to how they intend to
address these two problems very soon... possibly before the end of the
day today. AS SOON as word reaches us, we'll post the details here. We
expect that some kind of mail-in disc replacement program will be
Meanwhile, enjoy the review and stay tuned...
(EARLY UPDATE - 11/27/06 -
11:30 AM PST)
Morning, everyone! Welcome back from the holiday! Hope you all had a
great time with your families and friends this Thanksgiving... ate lots
of turkey, saw lots of movies, got all your shopping done, etc.
We've got some news to catch you up on, but first a couple of quick
notes. We'll be back later today with a DVD review or two, including a
look at Warner's 14-disc Superman: Ultimate
Collector's Edition box set, which streets tomorrow. It's a
pretty great set... BUT there's a couple of major issues with it. First,
the 1978 Superman theatrical
edition DOESN'T have the original 1978 audio - it's got an edited down
version of the irritating remixed audio from 2000, complete with all the
awful new sound effects. Also, in at least some sets, the Superman
III disc included is mistakenly the previous movie-only
version, NOT the new Deluxe Edition that's supposed to be in the set.
We're waiting to hear back from Warner as to how they're going to handle
the situation, and we'll let you know.
Also, there's more news about The Hobbit
to report today. It seems that producer Saul Zaentz, the owner of
Tolkien Enterprises, has chimed in with interesting new word that Peter
Jackson might STILL be the director of the films. It seems that the film
rights revert back from New Line to Zaentz next year, and Zaentz has
every intention of asking Jackson to direct. You can read more
at The One Ring.net. The site also has
list of contact information you can use if you'd like to POLITELY
let New Line and others involved know how you feel about the idea of
Jackson NOT being involved.
One other thing before the news... Matt and I happened to catch a
screening of Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain
this weekend. It's a fascinating film, and I applaud Warner's decision
to support it, even if it isn't the most commercially viable project.
It's visually stunning, and the subject matter is meaningful and likely
to spark good conversation. Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz play basically
the same characters in three different time frames, spanning some 1000
years of history. The story itself is about love and death, and the
search for the mythical fountain of youth. The film was originally going
to star Brad Pitt, and the script was apparently much longer, but the
story was ultimately pared down when Warner cut the budget after Pitt
departed the production. It's a shame, because I have a feeling that a
lot of the raw emotional appeal of the film was lost in the editing. As
it is, it's intellectually quite interesting, but you aren't able to
really get invested in the characters enough for the film to have its
full intended emotional impact. Still, hats off to Aronofsky for
championing what is obviously a deeply personal film, and to Warner for
supporting it. It's nice to know that there are still young filmmakers
out there looking to explore deeper issues on film, and studios willing
to take a chance on that. Do check out The
Fountain if you can. Whether you end up liking it or not,
it's well worth seeing.
Now then... some DVD news. Universal has announced the DVD and
HD-DVD/DVD Combo format release of Focus Films' Hollywoodland
on 2/6. The DVD will be available in both anamorphic widescreen and full
frame editions (SRP $29.98 each). The HD-DVD/DVD Combo (with Dolby
Digital Plus audio) will carry an SRP of $39.98. Extras are TBA.
Universal has also announced a new line of digitally-remastered "Cinema
Classics" on DVD, the first wave of which (due 2/6 - SRP $14.98
each) will include All Quiet on the Western
Front, Arabian Nights,
Going My Way and The
Criterion has announced their February DVD slate. Look for a Paul
Robeson: Portraits of the Artist box set (Cat #369), which
includes Body and Soul/Borderline
(#371), The Emperor Jones/Paul Robeson:
Tribute to an Artist (#370), The
Proud Valley/Native Land (#373) and Sanders
of the River/Jericho (#372). Also coming are Vittorio De
Sica's Bicycle Thieves (#374),
Sidney Gilliat's Green for Danger
(#375), Mikio Naruse's When a Woman Ascends
the Stairs (#377) and Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's
49th Parallel (#376). With that
lot, we CONTINUE to be impressed by Criterion's selection of titles here
at The Bits. How many people would
EVER see some of these films if not for Criterion's efforts? Very nice.
Meanwhile, Sony has set the animated Open
Season for release on 1/30 (details are not yet available,
but we expect both DVD and Blu-ray Disc editions). Also coming on that
day are Facing the Giants, It's
a Big, Big, World: The Sky Above, It's
a Big, Big, World: Investigate Your World, a single-disc
edition of Stealth and a 9-disc
Pedro Almodovar Classics Collection
(including Women on the Verge of a Nervous
Breakdown, All About My Mother,
Talk to Her, The
Flower of My Secret, Live Flesh,
Law of Desire, Matador
and Bad Education, along with an
exclusive bonus disc).
Interestingly, 20th Century Fox is preparing to release 24:
Season 6 Premiere on 1/16 (SRP $14.98). It includes the first
four hours of the new season (which debut on Fox on 1/14 and 1/15), plus
a 12-minute preview of the next episode. What a cool idea! Big
Valley: Season 2, Volume 1 follows on 1/30. The studio also
has Idiocracy set for 1/9, and
Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea: Season 2,
Volume 2 due on 2/20.
Finally this morning, Warner (for HBO) has announced the Blu-ray Disc
release of The Sopranos: Season 6, Part 1
(SRP $129.95). The 4-disc set (all BD-50s) is due on 12/19 (the HD-DVD
version is already available).
Back with those reviews later this afternoon. Stay tuned!
Well... as you've probably already heard by now, we've lost a legendary
filmmaker and a Hollywood original.
Altman passed away yesterday, at the ripe age of 81. That's
actually a rather extraordinary thing. I was talking with our own Robert
Harris this morning, and he reminded me that Altman had actually had a
heart transplant about a decade ago (something he only revealed earlier
this year, when he accepted his honorary Oscar). The fact that he was
able to continue his filmmaking career for so long given this condition
is amazing and is nothing less than a gift to his fans. Best of all, as
our own Adam Jahnke notes today in
special tribute edition of his Bottom Shelf column, Altman
definitely went out on a high note. He'll be missed.
Here at The Bits today, we're
pleased to bring you two more columns for your pre-turkey entertainment:
Todd Doogan's usual
Release Roundup and a short new
Layer Failure from the aforementioned Mr. Harris. We hope you
We'll be back tomorrow with one last DVD news wrap-up before the
Thanksgiving holiday, so don't zone out on tryptophan just yet. But for
those of you who are about to begin your travels home to see family and
friends, we wish you a safe journey and a happy holiday!
Back tomorrow. Stay tuned...
Afternoon, folks! Well, this was quite the weekend. Not only did we get
a new Bond and the PS3, no sooner did some get their new PS3's plugged
in, many of them were back in line to get the Nintendo Wii on Saturday
night! I happened to stop by our local Target here in Irvine, and there
were nearly 100 people camped out overnight, waiting for the store to
open on Sunday morning. Amazing. We certainly hope all those of you who
wanted a Wii got your hands on one.
Speaking of Bond, Matt and I took in an afternoon screening of Casino
Royale on Sunday (Todd saw it on Saturday, and I expect he'll
have something to say about it in his column this week). I have to tell
you, I was pretty damn impressed. I think anyone who doubted that Daniel
Craig had what it takes to play 007 was immediately reassured. He's
simply perfect in the role, and I think he's potentially the best Bond
since Connery. He's got just the right look - just the right sparkle in
his eye, that's both amused and deadly serious. He's the most dangerous
Bond in a long time, and I think that razor's edge is what's been
missing from the franchise. It's strange, because while Casino
certainly feels like a Bond film, it's missing much of the obvious
formula that we've come to expect from the franchise - the scene where
Bond gets the gadgets and makes glib jokes, the scene where the
super-villain unveils his entire plot for Bond, the high-tech
superweapon that can destroy the world, etc. We've become so conditioned
to expect those things from Bond, that it's going to take a little
getting used to their absence. To be fair, the film is a little long,
and loses its focus a bit somewhere in the middle. Most of the twists
are fairly predictable. Still, there are a number of tightly-paced
action scenes, the occasional bit of playful yet restrained humor here
and there, the obligatory hot girl or two (good actresses, not overblown
stars), the classic opening credits and a genuinely creepy villain. Todd
enjoyed the film. Matt (a die-hard Connery fan) was skeptical yet
open-minded going in, but ended up liking Casino
Royale more than he expected. He thought it owed a lot to the
recent Mission: Impossible films.
To me, if you're looking to make a comparison with this film, the Bourne
series would probably be closer. In any case, call it a reboot, call it
what you will. I really like this new Bond, and I've got high hopes for
the next one. I give it a solid B.
There's another bit of film-related news to report today, but I'm
afraid it's not at all good. In fact, we'd call it rather seriously
depressing. It seems that Peter Jackson will not be making a big-screen
version of The Hobbit to go along
with his Lord of the Rings films.
There's been reports recently that Jackson, New Line and MGM were in
negotiations to do a pair of films based on The
and Fran Walsh just sent The One Ring.net an e-mail report
that addresses the current situation. The gist is that New Line has
apparently decided to pass on having Jackson direct the film, due to a
lawsuit his company filed over the studio's accounting practices on the
previous Rings films. We
understand that business is business, but that's just about the WORST
film-related news we've heard in a long time here at The
Bits. If New Line brings another director and writing team in
to make The Hobbit over Jackson,
it'll be the greatest cinematic injustice since the Salkinds fired
director Richard Donner from Superman II.
If you care about this project at all, we encourage you to POLITELY make
your feelings known. Damn. Thanks to everyone who sent this news in -
we're as bummed about it as you are.
There's not a lot of DVD or high-def news to report today. With
Thanksgiving coming up later this week, Hollywood is definitely winding
down for the holiday.
However, there is a report today from Video
Business that Nintendo is planning to add software DVD
playback capability to its new Wii videogame system next year.
Apparently, Sonic Solutions is providing the software upgrade, and the
news was released by them in a press release. You can read more
There's also a
at Home Media Retailing today that many retailers,
including Best Buy stores, are reporting a very cool reception for
HD-DVD and Blu-ray Discs thus far. The reason for the tepid response is
just what you'd expect... the fact that there are two competing formats.
It will be interesting to see if Blu-ray Disc software sees a spike in
sales in the coming weeks due to all those new PS3s out there in
consumer hands. We expect at least a little bump, but we also expect
that most people are going to use the PS3 for gaming purposes rather
than watching movies. We'll see.
We'll be back shortly with a new column from Robert A. Harris, so stay
So how many of you braved lines last night to get your hands on a PS3?
Seems like it's getting a little crazy in these old videogame wars.
Money's got an interesting review of the system, based on
initial impressions of the machine. There are much more in-depth reviews
as well around the net (including
at Gamespot), from the hardcore gaming perspective. I
continue to hear from industry sources that the PS3 is not just a good,
but the BEST Blu-ray Disc player available at the moment, and it's also
the cheapest by several hundred dollars... if you can find one. 88,000
sold in Japan in the first couple of days it was out last week, and
reports indicate that just 400,000 are available in North America for
today's launch, most already spoken for by pre-orders. Still, given that
Sony and Pioneer keep delaying their stand-alone players, that adds an
interesting wrinkle to the Blu-ray saga.
On the HD-DVD front, there's good news and bad news too. First, we're
hearing very positive things about the HD-DVD add-on drive that
Microsoft just launched for the Xbox 360. It's cheap (under $200), it
seems to work well and now we're hearing that it might even work with
your PC (click
here for more on that). Now for the bad news...
has just announced that they're delaying the launch of their 2nd
generation stand-alone HD-DVD players, the HD-A2 and the HD-XA2. Both
were expected to be available now, but the A2 has been pushed back until
mid-December and the XA2 is expected at the very end of December. We
should be getting our hands on an XA2 for review, so we'll let you know
how it works. If it operates faster and smoother than the A1 and XA1, it
ought to be a pretty nice machine.
Ah well... nobody said embracing new technology was easy.
There's just one bit of standard DVD news today, but it's a good one:
Paramount has revealed that they'll be releasing the classic Hawaii
Five-O TV series on DVD in 2007. Hawaii
Five-O: The First Season is tentatively expected to street on
2/27. Details and artwork will follow.
We've got one other interesting thing for you today:
Sarah took last night at Warner's DVD release party for Superman
We'll be back on Monday with a new column from Robert Harris, along
with lots of reviews, including new DVD, HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc titles.
In the meantime, don't forget: There's a new Battlestar
on SciFi tonight AND Casino Royale
debuts in theaters today. We're looking forward to seeing how Daniel
Craig plays as 007.
Have a great weekend and stay tuned!
We've got some new announcements to report today. First up, New Line
has set Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The
Beginning for release on 1/16, in separate R and Unrated
editions. Extras will include deleted and extended scenes, audio
commentary from director Jonathan Liebesman and a behind-the-scenes
Paramount has announced a number of new titles, including Broken
Bridges (1/9), Abandon
(1/26), Rob & Big: The Complete First
Season and Zoey 101: Season 1
(both 2/13), Girlfriends: The Complete First
Season (2/27), South Park: The
Complete Ninth Season and Sabrina,
The Teenage Witch: The Complete First Season (both 3/6), and
Run's House: The Complete Seasons 1 and 2
Universal has announced a pair of new HD-DVD titles for release on 1/16
- The Sting and The
Mummy Returns. Universal has also set the DVD release of the
spoof Disaster! for 2/6, with Planet
Brooklyn following on 2/27. Speaking of Universal, they've
kicked off an
interesting online game to promote the 11/12 DVD and HD-DVD
release of You, Me and Dupree. A
few readers have reported that it's kind of cool, in case any of you
want to check it out.
Meanwhile, Warner has announced the DVD release of Walkout
(for HBO - 3/6), The World's Most Dangerous
Gang (for National Geographic - 1/16) and Baby
Looney Tunes: Volume 3 (3/13).
Finally, Sony's delayed the release of its previously announced Crouching
Tiger, Hidden Dragon Blu-ray Disc, and replaced it on the
1/16 schedule with Resident Evil: Apocalypse.
We expect Crouching Tiger to be
re-announced shortly. Our
Release List has been updated accordingly. Sony has also
announced the 1/23 Blu-ray Disc, DVD and UMD release of Gridiron
Gang, as well as the standard DVD release (that same day) of
Night Skies, The
FIFA 2006 World Cup Film: The Grand Finale, The
Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss: The Cat's Family and Friends,
Don't Knock the Rock/Rock Around the Clock
(Double Feature) and Don't Knock the
Twist/Twist Around the Clock (Double Feature).
We've also kicked off FIVE new
here at The Bits, giving each of
you the chance to take home copies of Warner's
Returns: SE and
Superman: Seasons 5 & 6 along with a
Collection gift certificate, Warner's
Mile: SE, Universal's
Extended Edition, Paramount's
Inconvenient Truth and Shout! Factory's
Actors Studio: Icons and
Actors Studio: Dave Chappelle. The contests will run until
Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, November 26th. Click on the links to get
started and good luck!
Finally today, our own Todd Doogan has checked in with his latest
Release Round-up, running down the latest DVD releases that
hit stores on Tuesday. Todd offers his thoughts key titles as well, so
don't miss it!
Okay, folks... it's been a crazy couple of days around here. I meant to
pop in yesterday with an update, but we're trying to get some MAJOR new
DVD releases reviewed here at The Bits,
so yesterday's post ended up being bumped to today. But I think you
won't mind when you see what we've got for you.
We've just posted in-depth reviews of BOTH Warner's new
Returns: Two-Disc Special Edition and the long-awaited new
II: The Richard Donner Cut! I think you'll enjoy both discs
when they street on 11/28.
We'll be back later this afternoon with Todd's Weekly
Release Round-up, and we'll be recapping some news as well.
So enjoy the reviews and stay tuned!
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