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





page updated: 2/13/07



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 2/2/07 - 1/16/07)


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2/2/07

Afternoon, folks!

Some of you may have been wondering why we haven't posted a lot of high-def reviews yet here at The Bits. Well, part of this is wanting to familiarize ourselves with the quirks of each format. But we've also been upgrading our video displays such that we'd be able to fully appreciate all the benefits that 1080p video can offer. I've personally been using a Panasonic PT-L500U LCD front projector for DVD reviews, but for HD I've been reverting back to my old Mitsubishi 65" rear projection HDTV. The 500U has been a great projector, but its LCD panel is only 1280x720 native, so it just doesn't perform up to full HD standards. But as I've been pleased with the performance of Panasonic's projectors thus far, particularly given their surprisingly budget-friendly prices, I wanted to at least investigate the brand's new full-1080p offering. So for the last few weeks, I've been demoing Panasonic's new PT-AE1000U LCD projector, featuring native 1920x1080. And I can sum up my reaction in just one word... WOW. Here's a picture we took of the unit at CES...

Panasonic's new PT-AE1000U LCD projector

I fully anticipated that I'd appreciate and notice the resolution difference the AE1000U offers. What I didn't expect was such dramatically improved brightness and stunning color reproduction. And the contrast! How does an 11,000:1 contrast ratio sound to you? We're able to fully control the brightness in our home theater space here at The Bits with thick red theater curtains, so ambient light isn't a problem. Let me tell you, this unit delivers blacks so deep and true, you can hardly believe you're viewing LCD projection. The AE1000U first became available in December, and some of the very early demo units had issues with the image being too soft. Panasonic quickly corrected this on the production units, however, and the one I have is completely problem free. The HD-DVD and Blu-ray images it throws up onto my 110" DaLite screen are the most clear, natural and film-like I've ever seen in my home theater. Even with broadcast HD, the difference is obvious. Sarah and I were watching 24 a couple weeks ago, and she actually commented out loud: "Wow, this looks really great." My wife is pretty down to earth and is not easily impressed. She's also no A/V gear-head. So when she notices the quality, that's saying something. The AE1000U is a dream, and with a typical sale price of just $3,999 ($2,000 under its original $5,999 MSRP), it's also a fantastic value. I'm going to post a more detailed review in the next couple of weeks. I know a lot of people are all excited by plasmas and flat screens these days, but I'll tell you... if you want an incredibly theater-like experience in your home in full 1080p resolution, you'd be very, VERY hard pressed to find a better one at that price.

Okay... in DVD announcement news today, Universal has revealed two new catalog collections for release on 5/15 (SRP $29.98 each)... a Michael J. Fox Comedy Favorites Collection (including For Love or Money, Greedy, The Hard Way and The Secret of My Success) and a Denzel Washington Spotlight Collection (including The Bone Collector, The Hurricane, Inside Man and Mo' Better Blues). The titles that were anamorphic widescreen previously are also anamorphic here. Unfortunately, the titles that weren't (like The Secret of My Success) aren't in the new sets.

In other release news, Warner Bros. has announced the horror film Delivery for on 5/1 (SRP $19.97).

And in case we haven't mentioned it before, Buena Vista has The Prestige due on DVD (SRP $29.99) and Blu-ray Disc (SRP $34.99) on 2/20. Extras will include the multi-part The Director's Notebook: The Cinematic Slight of Hand of Christopher Nolan documentary and The Art of The Prestige interactive gallery.

Here's the cover art for both versions of The Prestige, as well as Disney's Peter Pan: Platinum Edition (3/6)...

The PrestigeThe Prestige (Blu-ray Disc)Peter Pan: Platinum Edition

Finally today, this weekend brings us the Superbowl. Our old pal Matt Rowe and his clan are hosting a massive, pro-Bears, food and drink binge-fest on Sunday, so Sarah and I will be there in support of our friends. Though it's terribly unnatural for any Vikings fan to root for the Bears, I'll do it for Matt this weekend, because that's what friends do. I suspect, however, that the Bears are going to have their hands full during the big game. My armchair analysis tells me that for the Bears to win, Rex Grossman will need to have a monster first half and score a LOT of points. If it's even remotely close at halftime, the Colts offense will probably wear the Bears "D" down in the second half and Peyton Manning will open up a can of whoop-ass in the fourth quarter. But we'll see. I'm hoping that it's a competitive game, and of course there's always the commercials. In any case, whatever your team of choice is, I hope you sports nuts out there enjoy all the fun as much as we will.

Alright... have a great weekend, and we'll see you Monday. Peace out!

(LATE UPDATE - 2/1/07 - 4:30 PM PDT)

We've been saying for a while now that this HD format war is going to come down to the software. So we though you might like to see the cover art for a few. Here you go...

Babel (Blu-ray Disc)The Good Shepherd (HD-DVD)Casino Royale (Blu-ray Disc)

The Game (HD-DVD)Hoosiers (Blu-ray Disc)Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (HD-DVD)

Stay tuned!

(EARLY UPDATE - 2/1/07 - 1:30 PM PDT)

Ladies and gentlemen, yesterday I saw something truly extraordinary. As I worked in my office here at The Bits, I watched Wolf Blitzer, the city of Boston, and the Department of Homeland Security freak out over Lite-Brites flashing a cheesy cartoon character. Lite-Brites that, as it turns out, had been in place all over the country for three weeks already. Hundreds of police officers and FBI agents were involved, even the Pentagon was monitoring the situation. The Governor of Massachusetts declared sternly: "It's not funny!" Look man, I understand that fears were heightened and millions of dollars were wasted. But come on... space-suited bomb squad guys blew up what was obviously a low-rez cartoon character flipping everyone the bird. The only way this thing could have been MORE absurd would have been if the character had been Cartman from South Park. I mean, seriously people. Perhaps this is a sign that we all need to just take a deep breath and come back to our senses. Duct tape and plastic sheeting will not save us from our own silliness. I think we've learned a couple things from the events of yesterday. First, nobody from Homeland Security watches The Cartoon Network. Second, we Americans have officially gone right round the bend. Pifffsshhewww...!

Beware the Mooninites!

[Editor's Note: The rude Mooninite gesture pictured above in no way represents the opinions of the editorial staff of The Digital Bits, the family, friends and pets of the editorial staff of The Digital Bits, the DVD industry at large, DVD fans as a whole or Wolf Blitzer. Well... okay, we can't speak for Wolf Blitzer.]

Okay... let's have some DVD news, shall we? Paramount has announced the release of Mork & Mindy: The Complete Second Season on 4/17. The 4400: The Complete Third Season and a new To Catch a Thief: Special Collector's Edition are due on 5/8, with Frasier: The Ninth Season and Wings: The Fourth Season set to follow on 5/15.

Also today, 4Kids Entertainment Home Video and FUNimation Entertainment will release Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Fast Forward: Future Shellshock on 2/6 (SRP $14.98). The 2-disc set will contain the first 13 episodes of season one, which debuted on FOX this past Fall.

BCI will release Shadow Warriors: The Complete First Season, starring martial arts icon Sonny Chiba, on 4/17. The 7-disc set will include all 27 episodes of the show's first season (SRP $79.98). Extras will include a new interview with Chiba, a 12-page booklet on the series by Patrick Macias. Audio will be Dolby Digital 2.0 in the original Japanese with English subtitles.

Finally, Starz Home Entertainment is re-releasing Werner Herzog's Little Dieter Needs to Fly on DVD on 3/27 (SRP $14.98). The film will be presented in anamorphic widescreen video and will include production notes and a Herzog bio.

Feeling artsy today? Well, here's some more covers fer ya... Paramount's The 4400: The Complete Third Season, Criterion's Overlord (4/17) and BCI's Shadow Warriors: The Complete First Season...

The 4400: The Complete Third SeasonOverlord (Criterion)Shadow Warriors: The Complete First Season

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 1/31/07 - 4:30 PM PDT)

The first official retail tracking data from Nielsen VideoScan seems to show Blu-ray Disc outselling HD-DVD in unit software sales by a more than 2 to 1 margin, and the gap is widening. According to data reported in Home Media Retailing (you'll find it on page one of the digital edition available on their website) for the week ending 1/7/07, Year-to-Date tracking indicated that for every 47.14 HD-DVDs sold there were 100 Blu-ray Disc titles sold. Just a week later, ending 1/14/07, the same YTD tracking indicated just 38.36 HD-DVDs sold for every 100 Blu-ray Discs sold. What's more, tracking by Nielsen VideoScan since the inception of both formats appears to indicate that Blu-ray Disc is quickly erasing the sales lead HD-DVD enjoyed as a result of launching months earlier in 2006. On 1/7, HD-DVD's lead was 100 discs for every 85.05 Blu-ray Discs sold, while just a week later on 1/14, that lead had been reduced to 100 HD-DVDs for every 92.40 Blu-ray Discs sold.

VideoScan HD data

VideoScan HD data

Specific unit volume numbers are not available, but one would guess they're still fairly low. No doubt much of the sales surge has to do with the arrival of Sony's PS3 game system in November. We'll have to watch closely over the next few months to see if these trends are affected by specific new software/title releases on both formats from week to week. Still, this data seems to bear out claims made by the BDA at CES, to the effect that their format was outselling HD-DVD as of December 2006 and that the margin could grow to as much as 3 to 1 in early 2007. It'll be interesting to see how continuing sales of the PS3 (and new dedicated players for both formats) impact these numbers as well.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/31/07 - 1:45 PM PDT)

We've got a few new DVD announcements to report today. First up, Warner has set F-Troop: The Complete Second Season on 5/29 (SRP $39.98). The 6-disc set will include a featurette.

Other newly announced titles from the studio include a series of Coleccion Pedro Infante releases (Ustedes Los Ricos, Sobre las Olas, Pepe el Toro, Nosotros los Pobres, Las Islas Marias, La mujer que yo perdi, El Seminarista, Dicen que soy mujeriego, Cuando lloran los valientes, Asi era Pedro Infante and Angelitos Negros - SRP $14.98 each) on 4/10, Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry Season 5 (for HBO) on 5/1, Everybody Loves Raymond: The Complete Eighth Season, In the Womb: Multiples and In the Womb: Animals (both National Geographic), and Little Britain Live and Clatterford: Season 1 (both BBC) on 5/8, Martin: The Complete Second Season on 5/22, Wide Awake (HBO) and The Closer: The Complete Second Season on 5/29, and Path to Paradise, The Infiltrator, Deadly Voyage and Ambushed (all HBO) on 6/5.

In more TVD news, Universal has set the release of Airwolf: Season Three for 5/22 (SRP $39.98). Where the heck is Baa Baa Black Sheep: Volume Two? That's what I want to know.

IFC Films and Genius Products have announced the DVD release of Adam Del Deo and James D. Stern's So Goes the Nation on 2/13 (SRP $24.95). The documentary looks at American politics in the 2004 Presidential Election.

Palm Pictures has set the release of Paul Morrison's Wondrous Oblivion for 3/20 (SRP $24.99). Extras will include audio commentary track with the director, a behind-the-scenes featurette and the U.S. theatrical trailer. Audio will be DTS 5.1.

Also, Anchor Bay has just set Masters of Horror: Season Two - John Carpenter's Pro-Life for release on 3/20 as well (SRP $14.98). Video will be anamorphic widescreen. Extras will include audio commentary with director John Carpenter and writers Drew McWeeny and Scott Swan, the Final Delivery: The Making of Pro-Life and Demon Baby: Birthing the FX Sequence featurettes, a storyboard gallery, a director bio and the screenplay (via DVD-ROM).

On the HD front today, the Advanced Access Content System License Administrator (AACS LA) has confirmed the breach to HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc security that we reported on a few weeks ago. You'll find a little more on that at Home Media Retailing.

Also at HMR today, there's an interview with the founder of the industry research firm Understanding & Solutions, in which he makes a strong argument that Blu-ray Disc "has the strongest possibility to dominate the market quickly" in the HD format war. It's interesting reading.

Finally today, we've got another quick Rumor Mill update today, and I think you fans of director Guillermo del Toro will be pretty happy with it.

Stay tuned!

1/30/07

Morning, everyone! Well, it's official. The Police's first public appearance will be at the Grammy Awards on February 11th. The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences made the official announcement last night, and the story is now spreading from the New York Times, AP, Retuers and other sources (thanks to all those of you who sent links). No official news yet about the reunion tour, but industry folk tell me one will be announced in the next few weeks. Add to that planned reunions this summer by Van Halen (with David Lee Roth, but minus Michael Anthony who apparently became too friendly with Sammy Hagar for Eddie's taste) and other 80s acts, and it's likely to be an exciting summer for live music! 'Nuff said.

Also today, Warner has just released an official statement about their Tom & Jerry Spotlight Collection: Volume 1 replacement program. Here's the details....

"Previously, Warner Home Video had advised consumers who purchased Tom and Jerry Spotlight Collection: Volume 1 DVD that certain episodes on Disc 1 had an alternate picture/audio track. Warner Home Video offered to replace Disc 1 with a disc that had the original picture/audio track, which some consumers requested. Those consumers were inadvertently sent an incorrect replacement disc.

Consumers who recently received the incorrect replacement disc, and any other consumers who still wish to have Disc 1 replaced with the original picture/audio track, should contact Warner Home Video at 1-800-553-6937 so that a self-addressed stamped envelope can be sent to you for return of your current disc. Please note that the replacement disc will be sent to you in approximately 4-6 weeks."


Okay, let's have some DVD release news, shall we? Universal has just announced a TON of new catalog titles. Coming on 5/1 are a Clint Eastwood: Western Icon Collection due to include High Plains Drifter, Joe Kidd and Two Mules for Sister Sara (all in anamorphic widescreen). On 5/8, look for a Classic Western Round-Up: Volume 1 (including Canyon Passage, Kansas Raiders, The Lawless Breed and The Texas Rangers), a Classic Western Round-Up: Volume 2 (including California, The Cimarron Kid, The Man from the Alamo and The Texans), and a Pirates of the Golden Age Movie Collection (including Against All Flags, Buccaneer's Girl, Double Crossbones and Yankee Buccaneer). On 5/15, watch for The Rockford Files: Season Four. And on 5/22, the studio will release more Universal Cinema Classics titles, including No Man of Her Own, Scarface (1932), So Proudly We Hail and Unconquered.

The studio has also announced the 4/24 release of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Nutty Professor on HD-DVD.

Also today, Warner has announced The Waltons: Season Five for release on 5/8. 'Nite John Boy.

We've got more anticipated street dates for upcoming titles in The Rumor Mill for you today, including some major titles like Children of Men, Volver and Eragon. Don't miss 'em.

Let's give you a look at more cover art today. Here's Paramount's The Brady Bunch: The Complete Series (4/3), Happy Days: The Complete Second Season (4/17), Laverne & Shirley: The Complete Second Season (4/17), An Officer and a Gentleman: Special Collector's Edition (5/1) and Melrose Place: The Second Season (5/1), along with Universal's The Good Shepherd (TBA but antictpated for 3/2)...

The Brady Bunch: The Complete SeriesHappy Days: The Complete Second SeasonLaverne & Shirley: The Complete Second Season

An Officer and a Gentleman: Special Collector's EditionMelrose Place: The Second SeasonThe Good Shepherd

Back with more later. Stay tuned...

1/29/07

Afternoon, folks. We've got lots of DVD release announcements for you today.

First up, Universal has set a 3-disc, 5-movie Columbo: Mystery Movie Collection for release on 4/24 (SRP $26.98). The specific movies are TBA. Universal has also announced a Fletch: The Jane Doe Edition DVD for 5/1 (SRP $19.98). The film will be included in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio and all-new special features (also TBA).

20th Century Fox has announced some new catalog DVD releases for April, including Royal Flash (1975) and S*P*Y*S (1974) on 4/3, The True Confessions on 4/17, and Les Miserables (2 discs - 1935 and 1952 versions), Jane Eyre (1944), Anna Karenina (1915 and 1948 versions), Fixed Bayonets! (1951), I Deal in Danger (1966), Man in the Middle (1964), The Purple Heart (1944), Sailor of the King (1953) and Tonight We Raid Calais (1943) all on 4/24.

Sony has revealed Barry Levinson's The Natural: Director's Cut for release on 4/4 (SRP $24.94). The 2-disc set will include the film with 15 minutes of added footage, the 4-part Extra Innings documentary, the 3-part When Lightning Strikes documentary, 3 featurettes (A Natural Gunned Down: The Stalking of Eddie Waitkus, Clubhouse Conversations and Knights in Shining Armor: The Mythology of The Natural) and a new video introduction by Levinson. According to the studio's press release, the documentaries and featurettes include "new interviews with Robert Redford and Glenn Close, as well as professionals from the sports broadcasting and baseball world."

There's also more great news from Criterion today. As we've reported previously, the first entry of their new Eclipse line, the 5-disc Early Bergman (SRP $69.95), will be released on 3/27. Better still, Criterion has just announced the second entry in the series, The Documentaries of Louis Malle. The 6-disc set (SRP $79.95) will street on 4/24 and will include Vive le tour (1963), Humain, trop humain (1972), Place de la République (1972), Phantom India (1969), Calcutta (1969), God's Country (1985) and And the Pursuit of Happiness (1987). You'll find cover art below. Can't wait for it!

Meanwhile, Warner has announced the DVD release of Blood Diamond on 3/20. Three versions will be available - single disc anamorphic widescreen and full frame editions (SRP $28.98), as well as a 2-disc special edition in anamorphic widescreen (SRP $34.99). The 2-disc set will include audio commentary with director Edward Zwick, the hour-long Blood on the Stone documentary, 4 featurettes (Becoming Archer, Journalism on the Front Line, Jennifer Connelly on Women Journalists at War and Inside the Siege of Freetown) and Nas' Shine on Em music video. No word yet on high-def versions.

Other newly announced Warner DVD releases include Marcus (3/6), Age Old Friends, The Image, State of Emergency and a Women & Men Double Feature (all on 4/17 for HBO), Creepshow 3 and Casi Casi (both 5/15 for HBO), Prince of the City: Special Edition, Steelyard Blues, Straight Time and Whose Life Is It Anyway (all 5/22), Big Train: Season One and Two (5/29 for the BBC) and a series of new catalog box sets (all due 4/24) including Essential Classic American Musicals (featuring The Music Man, Meet Me in St. Louis and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers), Essential Classic Dramas (with The Maltese Falcon, Citizen Kane and Ben-Hur), Essential Classic Family Films (with Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, The Goonies and The Wizard of Oz), Essential Classic Musicals (with My Fair Lady, Singin' in the Rain and Gigi) and Essential Classic Romances (with Casablanca, Gone with the Wind and Doctor Zhivago).

Also, New Line has set the DVD release of Little Children for 4/24 (SRP $27.95).

In high-def news today, Warner has announced the HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc release of March of the Penguins on 3/27 (SRP $28.99 each).

And CBS Paramount officially announced on Friday that the digitally-remastered Star Trek: The Original Series - Season One will be released on HD-DVD/DVD Combo format "in the fourth quarter 2007" though no other specific details were available in their press release. Judging by the surprising number of complaints we've been getting (via e-mail) from Blu-ray fans over the weekend, we hope a Blu-ray version is forthcoming as well.

Finally today, a follow-up on my comments about The Police from last week. No sooner had I posted word that they might be reuniting on Friday, I began getting e-mails from readers - particularly Canadian readers - and from music industry insiders as well. It seems that newspapers up north are reporting that Sting, Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers have gathered at Lionsgate Studios in Vancouver to begin rehearsing for a huge reunion tour of the U.S., the U.K. and Japan this summer. Trucks apparently began arriving at the studios last Wednesday filled with shipping cases covered with Police band logos, and the band members themselves have been sighed around town. Official word is expected to break any day now of the tour, and the most surprising news is that the band may make their first public performance at the Grammy Awards on 2/11 - word is they'll open the show. My mind reels... REELS, I tell you! That's the best news I've heard in a long, long time. Freaking AWESOME. You can read more here, here and here.

Wait... one more thing: I'd be remiss if I didn't congratulate my old pal Dave Hovde (aka Weatherman Dave, of KSBY TV in San Louis Obispo, CA) today. Dave won a Golden Mike award over the weekend for Best Weathercast from the Radio & Television News Association of Southern California. He even got to meet Vin Scully at the awards ceremony, and he's a Police fan too, so it was a pretty damn good weekend for ol' Dave. Well done, my friend.

Okay, we'll leave you today with a look at some new cover art: Eclipse's The Documentaries of Louis Malle, Warner's Blood Diamond: Special Edition, New Line's Little Children, Universal's Fletch: The Jane Doe Edition, MGM's Night of the Comet (3/6) and Sony's Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman: Volume 1 (3/27)...

The Documentaries of Louis MalleBlood Diamond: Special EditionLittle Children

Fletch: The Jane Doe EditionNight of the CometMary Hartman, Mary Hartman: Volume 1

Back tomorrow with more. Stay tuned!

1/26/07

Okay... last update for the week. We've been REALLY busy behind the scenes here at The Bits these last few days, the result of which is that we've got some interesting interviews coming for you next week, and in the weeks ahead. But more on that later. There's never a dull moment around here, I'll tell you.

First things first today: I've got GREAT news for you Disney fans. I've just confirmed this morning with Buena Vista Home Entertainment that their much loved Walt Disney Treasures line of DVDs has NOT been cancelled. In fact, I'm told that at least a couple more waves of releases in the line are planned, with the next due in time for the holidays this year. We'll post additional details as they become available, but rest assured this news comes straight from the studio and it's the real deal. So there you go, folks!

We've got a little more for you today on Universal's HD-DVD release plans for 2007. Following up on their announcement from yesterday, our friends over at The Home Theater Forum have posted the text of a short Q&A they've just done with Universal Studios Home Entertainment EVP Ken Graffeo. There's some interesting new information in there, and you can discuss it all with fellow enthusiasts in the thread below. Thanks to Adam Gregorich, Ron Epstein and Parker Clack for that. Keep in mind that we'll have our own follow-up interview with Universal posted here at The Bits next week, so be sure to watch for it.

Finally today, as some of you may know, we're big fans of the band The Police around here. And as some of you may also know, there's finally serious talk about the band reuniting this year to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their first single, Roxanne. This MAY even include a reunion concert (or concerts). There's also word from Stewart Copeland's website that A&M and Universal Music are planning to celebrate the anniversary by releasing a DVD version of The Police Around the World, as well as a new CD box set, Message in a Box: Volume Two. Sting has recently commented on all this in the USA Today (click the link and slide down a bit): "We started 30 years ago, so it would be nice to do something to celebrate. We don't quite know what, but we're talking about it." Man, let me tell you... my mind reels at the very prospect. Seeing The Police play live is something I missed out on in the 1980s, and it's high on my list of things to do before I die. Fingers crossed. In any case, cool DVD and CD release news for sure. By the way, if you're a Police fan, I highly recommend guitarist Andy Summers' new bio, One Train Later. The second half is all about his time with the band and it's nicely unvarnished, including interesting stores about brushes with actor John Belushi and legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix. It's a fascinating read.

Okay, it's back to work for me. Have a great weekend and we'll see you Monday.

Cha! (sorry... it's a Sting thing)

(LATE UPDATE - 1/25/07 - 4 PM PST)

Afternoon, everyone. I just wanted to jump in here with some late-breaking high-def news. Universal, presumably to make up for their relative silence at CES, has just announced that they're planning more than 100 exclusive releases on the HD-DVD format in 2007... and they've revealed at least a few new titles that are on the way (if not specific release dates). The first 40-50 of these will be available in the first half of 2007, starting with Brokeback Mountain (now available) and Hollywoodland (on 2/6). Also on the way to HD-DVD in 2007 according to the studio (90% of the titles as DVD/HD-DVD Combo releases) are new films like Children of Men, The Good Shepherd and Smokin' Aces, as well as classic catalog titles like Scarface, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Bruce Almighty, The Bourne Identity, Meet the Fockers, American Pie, Inside Man, Pride & Prejudice, The Big Lebowski, Liar Liar, Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, Brazil, Erin Brockovich, Shaun of the Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Slap Shot and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The studio also confirmed that the first season of Sci-Fi's new Battlestar Galactica will be released on HD-DVD this year, as well as additional TV series titles yet to be announced. There's definitely some cool titles in that list, and presumably more (and more details) will be announced at a later date. It'll be great to see Lebowski and Brazil in HD, that's for sure... and the prospect of Battlestar has us pretty excited too.

By the way, as it happens today, I had the chance to speak directly with senior Universal reps this afternoon for a story about their HD-DVD support and the format war in general. So watch for lots more on this subject here at The Bits next week.

Stay tuned...!

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/25/07 - 12:01 AM PST)

Morning, folks! It took a little longer than anticipated (we got sidelined tracking down release rumors yesterday), but here's Barrie's latest Classic Coming Attractions column for you. In this installment, Barrie runs down his picks for the best classic releases of 2006. He also reviews some 25 classic DVD releases, including 20th Century Fox's The Laurel and Hardy Collection: Volume Two, The Charlie Chan Collection: Volume Two and the Will Rogers Collection: Volume Two, CBS/Paramount's Perry Mason: Season One, Volume Two, Mission: Impossible - The Complete First TV Season and Gunsmoke: The Directors Collection, Sony Pictures' The Premiere Frank Capra Collection and the Dean Martin Double Feature, Universal's Preston Sturges: The Filmmaker Collection, the Bing Crosby: Screen Legend Collection, the Cary Grant: Screen Legend Collection, the Rock Hudson: Screen Legend Collection and Flower Drum Song, VCI's Long John Silver, the Joe E. Brown Comedy Collector's Set, the Legendary Outlaws Collector's Set, Western Film Noir: Volume One, the George Reeves Double Feature, the King Dinosaur 50s Sci-Fi Double Feature, Overland Mail and Raiders of Ghost City, and Warner's Forbidden Hollywood Collection: Volume One, the Tarzan Collection: Volume Two, the Classic Comedy Teams Collection and Superman: The Theatrical Serials Collection. As always, Barrie also runs down the latest classic release announcements. There's definitely something in this column for everyone. And don't forget that every one of those titles can be ordered from Amazon.com by clicking on our cover art links. Doing so helps support our work here at The Bits, so we appreciate it very much.

You'll find lots more Amazon purchase links in our latest update of the Upcoming DVD Cover Art section today. Our very own Russell Hammond has just added over a hundred new cover scans to the section for you to check out, including tons of forthcoming DVD, HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc titles. Imagine that... two updates in a month! You can thank Russell for all his hard work by clicking on some of those Google ads throughout the section (which, again, we appreciate). Enjoy the art!

For you TVD fans today, we've got a Twin Peaks update in The Rumor Mill you might want to check out.

Finally, we wanted to steer you towards a good article over at Audio Video Revolution on the HD format war. It's by columnist Jerry Del Colliano, who gets something that a lot of people covering this format war seem to keep overlooking: A home video format is only as good as the movies you can watch on it. That means this war is going to be won or lost based upon the available software... specifically, which format has the best (and most) titles. It should be no surprise that Colliano gets it - the folks at AVR were, like us here at The Bits, well plugged into the winner-less high-resolution audio war. Did no one else learn from the DVD-Audio/SACD debacle? Anyway, it's a good piece so do check it out.

Stay tuned!

1/24/07

Okay... we'll be back shortly with Barrie's new Classic Coming Attractions column, but first we've got a bit of DVD release news for you.

First, some possible sad news... we've been told by a number of sources that Buena Vista is discontinuing their much loved Walt Disney Treasures line of DVD releases, as of the December 2006 Wave Six titles. The news reportedly comes from film critic Leonard Maltin himself, who has been the host of the series. We're waiting to hear official confirmation from the studio. Reportedly, the decision was made not due to a lack of sales, but rather in favor of focusing on new product lines like the Disney Legacy Collection. We'll let you know what the studio says when they get back to us, but it's a real bummer if true.

In other news today, Sony has released details as to the extras that will be included on the DVD and Blu-ray Disc releases of Casino Royale (due on 3/13). Both will include a trio of documentary featurettes (Becoming Bond on how actor Daniel Craig handled stepping into the role, James Bond: For Real which looks at the action and stunt work, and Bond Girls Are Forever which looks at the history of the Bond girls), as well as Chris Cornell's You Know My Name music video. The 2-disc DVD will carry an SRP of $28.96, the Blu-ray Disc will be $38.96 and a UMD version (for Sony's PSP) will be available for $28.95.

We've spoken to Warner Home Video and want to update you as to the Superman replacement disc issue. Warner says the replacement program is working smoothly - correct discs are being shipped out now to all those who have requested them and have sent their incorrect discs in for exchange (via the envelope provided by the folks at the 800 number - 800-553-6937). We've been told that all of the product currently on store shelves is still the original product. To simplify the replacement situation, Warner is letting that product sell out as it is (rather than pulling it), and is then arranging replacement discs for those who request them. All discs now being manufactured however are correct, and sometime later in 2007 new corrected product will be released to stores of the 14-disc Ultimate Collection, the Superman: The Movie 4-disc set and the Christopher Reeve box set. Warner will make official announcements in a few weeks as to precisely when this product will be available in stores and how you'll be able to identify it from the previously released DVDs (at the very least, the new corrected product will have new UPC or SKU numbers). Warner's promised to provide The Bits with all the important details, so rest assured that we'll tell you as soon as they tell us.

Speaking of Warner, you Bears and Colts fans might want to take notice: The studio has announced the release of NFL Super Bowl XLI Champions on 2/27 (SRP $24.98). In addition to a cut-down version of the big game, the DVD will include interviews with key players and coaches, a behind-the-scenes look at the Super Bowl, regular season and playoff highlights for the winning team and a collectible insert with the team record, photo and stats - three hours worth of content in all.

On the TVD front, our friends over at TVShowsonDVD.com have learned that Warner will be releasing the classic Wait Till Your Father Gets Home: The Complete First Season on DVD on 6/5 (SRP $44.98). Click the link for more info.

Also, Manga Entertainment and Anchor Bay have confirmed that Ghost in the Shell: Solid State Society - Volume 1 will be released on DVD on 7/3. Look for both regular and special edition versions. No HD-DVD or Blu-ray Disc version is currently planned (despite rumors to the contrary).

Finally, Anchor Bay has also announced the release of a 2-disc H.P. Lovecraft's Re-Animator: Limited Edition DVD on 3/20 (SRP $24.98) - the first release in the new "Anchor Bay Collection" line of premium DVDs. Just 50,000 copies will be available, complete with a collectible syringe-shaped highlighter pen. The DVD will include a new anamorphic widescreen transfer approved by director Stuart Gordon, remastered audio in Dolby Digital and DTS, 2 audio commentaries (featuring Gordon, producer Brian Yuzna and actors Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott and Barbara Crampton), the new feature-length documentary Re-Animator Resurrectus, new video interviews with the cast and crew, deleted and extended scenes, trailers and TV spots, multiple still galleries, and the original H.P. Lovecraft short story and screenplay adaptation on DVD-ROM. Ah yes... I remember all those exploding intestines fondly: Re-Animator has the unlikely honor of being the first film my wife and I ever saw together in a theater. And here we are, still together more than 20 years later! FYI, the Anchor Bay Collection titles will all feature restored picture and sound, and newly-produced extras. According to the studio, "future Anchor Bay Collection releases include Don Coscarelli's 1978 cult favorite Phantasm, the 1994 sequel Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead, and an upcoming Hammer Films box set." Here's a look at cover art for the Re-Animator Limited Edition and that cool pen...

H.P. Lovecraft's Re-Animator Limited EditionRe-Animator syringe pen

Back in a bit. Stay tuned...

1/23/07

We've got a few additional bits of announcement news this afternoon. First up, though, for those who pay attention to such things, the Oscar nominations were announced today in Hollywood. Up for Best Picture this year are Babel, The Queen, The Departed, Letters from Iwo Jima and Little Miss Sunshine. You can read more here.

Now then... we have a quick Fox update for you today. Amazon has a Borat Blu-ray Disc listed for release on 3/6. Fox tells me that's an error - there's no Blu-ray version set to be released yet. Just FYI.

Anyone want some Muppet Show news? Check The Rumor Mill today for word on the DVD release of Season Two, along with anticipated street dates for a trio of major Disney Blu-ray titles.

BCI's making DVD release news today: They've just announced Defenders of the Earth: Volume Two for 4/3 (SRP $34.98). The 5-disc set will include the last 32 episodes of the classic animated series along with a ton of new special features, including interviews with the creators, an audio commentary track on the episode Return of the Sky Band (with the producers, editors, writer and voice actors), the 90-minute Defenders of the Earth: The Story Begins bonus film, a bonus episode of the Flash Gordon animated series, character profiles, an original model sheet gallery, 2 exclusive art cards, an episode guide booklet, and episode scripts and storyboards (via DVD-ROM).

Also coming from BCI on 3/27 is The New Adventures of He-Man: Volume Two (SRP $49.98) - a 6-disc set containing the final 32 episodes, along with 2 documentaries (The Fans of He- Man and the Masters of the Universe and The Power of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe), 50 character profiles, 2 art cards, an episode guide booklet and Easter eggs.

Wolfe Releasing will debut 3 Needles on DVD on 4/3 (SRP $24.95). Extras will include behind-the-scenes interviews (with actors Lucy Liu, Shawn Ashmore and Chloë Sevigny), trailers, a photo gallery, deleted scenes and 2 featurettes (China AIDS Initiative with Magic Johnson and Yao Ming and House on Fire: AIDS in America).

Warner has also just announced the release of Billy and Mandy's Big Boogey Adventure (on 4/3) and Ed, Edd, n Eddy: The Complete Second Season (4/24). And I'm not sure if we've mentioned it previously, but Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo is on the way from Warner as well (2/6).

On the HD-DVD front today, Universal has announced the release of the Steve Martin comedy The Jerk and David Fincher's The Game on 4/17. The Jerk will be a DVD/HD-DVD Combo title, and will include the Learn How to Play: Tonight You Belong to Me and The Lost Filmstrips of Father Carlos Las Vegas De Cordova featurettes, production notes and the theatrical trailer. The Game will include just a theatrical trailer. Too bad it's not a special edition, but still it'll be very cool to have The Game in HD. How about The Big Lebowski and The Blues Brothers?

By the way, following up on the HD porn thing from yesterday, Vivid has confirmed with Video Business that Debbie Does Dallas - Again will be released on BOTH HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc format on 3/28 (SRP $39.95 each).

Finally, here's a little more new cover art to check out: BCI's Defenders of the Earth: Volume Two and The New Adventures of He-Man: Volume Two, along with Sony's Casino Royale: 2-Disc Widescreen Edition (3/13)...

Defenders of the Earth: Volume TwoThe New Adventures of He-Man: Volume TwoCasino Royale: 2-Disc Widescreen Edition

We'll be back tomorrow with a new Barrie Maxwell column. Stay tuned!

1/22/07

Well... it was quite the weekend here in the O.C., especially for our old pal Matt Rowe (of MusicTAP). You see, Matt's a diehard Chicago Bears fans - a Chicago EVERYTHING fan, really (save for the Cubs - he's a White Sox man), so he and his brood were in seventh heaven this weekend as they watched their team win a spot in the forthcoming Superbowl. I'm a long-suffering Vikings fans, as many of you already know, but at his encouragement I joined Matt and company at a local "chicken wings and beer establishment" (read: Wingnuts) in support of the NFC Norris division. Matt had so many Fat Tires to settle his nerves that I'm frankly surprised he even recognized me by the end of the game, but I've seldom seen that boy happier. The lucky bastard. Anyway, to pay off a bet we made a while back about who's team would get to the Superbowl first, here's a couple pictures...

Evidence of debauchery.

More evidence of debauchery.

There's one where I had to kiss his Bears cap too, but I'll let him post that crap on his website where it belongs. Your time will come my friend! Anyway, congrats to Matt and Bears fans everywhere. Congrats to you Colts fans too - that AFC Championship was a helluva great game.

Okay, 'nuff with the football talk. Around the site today, we've posted our own Adam Jahnke's latest edition of The Bottom Shelf, in which he reviews four recent DVD releases, including Warner's The Ant Bully, Anchor Bay and Manga's The Castle of Cagliostro: Special Edition, BCI Eclipse's Dungeons & Dragons: The Complete Animated Series and Universal's King Kong: Deluxe Extended Edition. Enjoy!

We've also kicked off FOUR new Contests, giving each of you the chance to take home copies of Warner's Dallas: Season Six, The Waltons: Season Four and the Robert Mitchum: The Signature Collection box set, the BBC's Doctor Who: Series Two and Fantoma's The Films of Kenneth Anger: Volume One. The contests will all run until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, February 4th. Click on the links to get started and good luck!

In DVD announcement news today, Warner has set The War at Home: The Complete First Season for release on 5/15 (SRP $39.98). Confessions of a Thug will street on 3/27. They'll release Tsunami: The Aftermath for HBO on 4/24. And as we've reported previously, The Departed will street on 2/13 in full frame and anamorphic widescreen DVD editions, as well as HD-DVD and Blu-ray. The DVD versions (SRP $28.98 each) will include a theatrical trailer only. We also have details on Warner's The Venture Bros.: Season Two release for Cartoon Network's Adult Swim (due 4/17, SRP $29.98). Look for the 2-disc set to include all 13 episodes, episode audio commentaries and a tour of the show's Astro-base Go! production studios. Nice. Now if we could just get Warner to release the second season of Jonny Quest from 1986...

Also today, Criterion has revealed that their April DVD slate will include Mathieu Kassovitz's La Haine (#381), Stuart Cooper's Overlord (#382) and Jules Dassin's Brute Force (Cat #383). Their latest newsletter also hints that Chris Marker's La Jetée and Sans soleil are on the way (thanks to all the Bits readers who e-mailed us about this).

On the high-def front this afternoon, we wanted to get to the bottom of what's going on with the whole "porn has chosen HD-DVD" brouhaha of late. I've spoken with a number of industry insiders today, including Sony Pictures EVP of Advanced Technologies, Don Eklund, to get their take on things. According to Don, the situation is pretty straightforward. Sony places absolutely no restrictions Blu-ray authoring or licensing that would prohibit adult material from appearing on the format. Others we've spoken with today tell us that some of the major disc replicators (including Sony DADC) simply have a general policy that they don't handle adult material. In the past, with VHS and DVD, that's never been a problem because there are lots of smaller replicators that are willing and able to serve the adult community. But at the moment, there may be fewer replicators here in the States capable of doing Blu-ray that are willing to do so. These replicators have the capacity to do adult product in addition to major Hollywood fare, but choosing not to is simply a matter of policy for them. We do know, however, that there ARE major replicators that currently do adult product on DVD AND that are capable of manufacturing Blu-ray titles, including Ascent Media, Deluxe and others. So far as we can tell, however, Sony is not working to prevent porn on Blu-ray, despite such claims in the press recently.

We've seen additional claims in the media (we've reported on them ourselves) that Disney may have provisions in their own contracts with replicators that specify that no adult material can be handled by them if they produce Disney Blu-ray titles. However, a number of industry sources that we've spoken with today (speaking off-the-record) said that's not the case, arguing that one company contractually restricting a second company from doing business with a third is against the law. Back in the VHS days, Disney would at times specify that replicators use new VHS stock to manufacture Disney titles on tape (to prevent stock that may have been used to replicate adult or other material, but that wasn't degaussed or erased properly, from appearing in Disney packaging - recall the infamous "Aristocats incident" from about a decade ago), but there are no Blu-ray related restrictions imposed by Disney.

To the degree that the adult community may be migrating toward HD-DVD at the moment, we suspect it's because they're more easily finding smaller replicators capable of working on that format that are willing to handle adult material. Based on our research today, it also seems possible that the HD-DVD camp is making an active (and understandable from a business perspective) effort to reach out to the adult community with incentives and assistance in authoring and releasing titles on HD-DVD - reaching out in a way that is not being matched by the Blu-ray Disc camp. There are, however, adult titles being released on Blu-ray Disc format in Japan which means that, at the very least, there seem to be replicators outside the U.S. that are willing to work with the adult community. This would explain recent press comments by Vivid Entertainment Group founder Steven Hirsch, to the effect that he's been able to secure authoring and replication for his company's forthcoming Blu-ray product.

The whole situation is nothing if not confusing. There's a lot of hype and bluster out there on the subject of adult content on high-def discs. Rest assured, we'll keep looking into the situation... and keep reporting what we learn here.

By the way, for those of you who are audiophiles, Don Eklund told us that Sony chose to go with 16bit 48kHz uncompressed LPCM audio on their early Blu-ray Disc titles, rather than Dolby TrueHD or DTS HD, because of the lack of hardware decoders for those formats in consumer hardware. But as more hardware begins to support those audio formats, Sony will support them as well. FYI, we've heard this same reasoning from Paramount reps too re: the high-resolution audio on their titles on both high-def formats.

Back tomorrow. Stay tuned...

1/19/07

Boy have we got some great DVD news for you film geeks today! ABKCO Films and Anchor Bay Entertainment have just announced a pair of titles that we've been waiting for on DVD since Day One of this format... El Topo and The Holy Mountain! No kidding! Anchor Bay will release a special limited edition collector's box set, The Films of Alejandro Jodorowsky, on DVD on 5/1 (SRP $49.98). The set will contain El Topo, The Holy Mountain and Fando Y Lis on DVD, fully restored and remastered from new HD transfers in anamorphic widescreen video, with Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 audio (El Topo is 125 minutes in Spanish, The Holy Mountain is 114 minutes in English, Fando Y Lis is 93 minutes in Spanish). The box set will also include 2 music CDs containing the soundtracks for El Topo and The Holy Mountain, as well as a DVD of Jodorowsky's never-before-released first film, La Cravate. El Topo and The Holy Mountain will also be available separately (SRP $24.98 each). The El Topo DVD will contain audio commentary by the director, the original theatrical trailer (with English voice-over), a 2006 on-camera interview with the director as well as an exclusive new interview, a photo gallery and original script excerpts. The Holy Mountain DVD will include audio commentary with the director, deleted scenes with commentary, the original theatrical trailer (with English voice-over), the Tarot short with commentary, a restoration process short, restoration credits, a photo gallery and original script excerpts. Fando Y Lis will include audio commentary with the director and the La Constellation Jodorowsky documentary. Subtitles on the discs will be available in English, French, Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese. Awesome news indeed! To which Todd adds, "Aaaahhhhhhhhhhhh!" and faints dead away in shock. This is, you see, his long awaited Holy Grail of DVD.

Here's a look at the preliminary cover art for the Jodorowsky box set and El Topo, along with 20th Century Fox's A Good Year (2/27)...

The Films of Alejandro Jodorowsky box setEl TopoA Good Year

If that doesn't get your blood pumping (and it damn well should), maybe this will: I happened to be watching PBS HD the other day, and saw a preview for Ken Burns' new multi-part documentary series, The War. Premiering on PBS in September (click here for the official website), the seven-part series "tells the story of the Second World War through the personal accounts of nearly 50 men and women from four quintessentially American towns." I'll tell you, about the only thing better than a new Ken Burns documentary... is a new Ken Burns documentary on World War II! Nice.

On the HD front today, there are reports that LG's new BH100 Super Multi Blue HD-DVD/Blu-ray Disc combo player might be headed for trouble. Early reviews indicate that the player has a lot of problems with the HDi interactivity on HD-DVD discs. That comes as no surprise to us: We learned at CES that the unit was originally intended to be a Blu-ray Disc player only, but that HD-DVD compatibility was added at the 11th hour. Kevin Collins, Director of HD DVD Evangelism at Microsoft, believes that since the unit doesn't fully support HDi, LG can't claim it to be officially HD-DVD compliant. Which means that the DVD Forum may pursue legal action against LG for calling it an HD-DVD compatible player and selling it with the HD-DVD logo on the cover. Oh, the humanity. You can read more here at X-bit Labs.

There's another fly in the HD ointment today as well. It seems that recent post-CES press reports that the porn industry has decided to release adult films only on the HD-DVD format were somewhat premature. According to a pair of stories at Gizmodo and DailyTech, it seems that Sony isn't trying to stop porn from appearing on Blu-ray per se. In fact, a number of adult titles have already been released in Japan. However, Sony isn't actively giving Blu-ray production assistance to adult film companies, and they're preventing any replicator that produces Disney Blu-ray Discs from working on adult titles. Given that, adult companies like Vivid have had to find other replicators to work with. So right now, HD-DVD is the easier format to work with of the two. However, Vivid Entertainment Group founder Steven Hirsch expects that his company will release films on both HD formats. Says Hirsch, "It seems to me that Blu-ray has the momentum right now, due to the release of the PlayStation 3 adding a lot more players to the market." Just when you think things are starting to become clearer with regard to this format war, they end up getting even more complicated.

Before we sign off today, I wanted to take a moment to recommend a few great films that are deserving of your attention in theaters right now. A couple weeks ago, Matt and I went matinee crazy and saw four films in a single weekend: Guillermo Del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth, Zhang Yimou's Curse of the Golden Flower, Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men and Sylvester Stallone's Rocky Balboa. I've praised Rocky Balboa before. This was my second viewing and it's one of my favorites of last year. Curse of the Golden Flower was interesting, but both Matt and I found it to be a bit over the top and heavy handed. It's worth seeing, but I don't think it's quite up to the level of Zhang's previous work. Pan's Labyrinth, however, is an extraordinary piece of filmmaking - imaginative, spell-binding and absolutely uncompromising in its sensibilities. It's the kind of film that Ridley Scott's Legend wanted to be back in the 1980s, and I don't say that lightly. I also don't say this casually: Children of Men is absolutely my favorite film of 2006. It's a near-future cautionary tale that merits consideration alongside such classics of the genre as Blade Runner and Brazil. I'll tell you, there's a scene in the film that made the hairs on my arms stand on end. The point of my saying all this is to remind you that there's a LOT of great cinema in your local theaters right now, and you should go see as much of it as you can. You might have to go looking for some of these films, and drive a few extra miles to find them, but they're worth the effort.

By the way, don't forget that Battlestar Galactica returns to Sci-Fi Channel with new episodes starting this Sunday night (1/21) at 10 PM Pacific. Word is that renewal for a fourth season depends on better ratings in the new Sunday time slot, so if you care about the show, rally the troops and get everyone you know to tune in. 'Nuff said.

Okay, we'll be back on Monday with some new disc reviews from our own Adam Jahnke, and of course the usual DVD and HD news updates. We've also got other exciting stuff in the works for next week as well.

As always, have a great weekend and stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 1/18/07 - 12:30 PM PST)

We've got one more quick bit of DVD and high-def news for you today. Warner Home Video has just officially announced the DVD and HD release of a new unrated version of Oliver Stone's Alexander. The new version, called Alexander Revisited: The Final Cut, is some 45 minutes longer than the previous versions. Stone apparently wasn't happy with either the original theatrical version or the previous director's cut of the film. Says Stone of the new Revisited cut: "Over the last two years I have been able to sort out some of the unanswered questions about this highly complicated and passionate monarch -- questions I failed to answer dramatically enough. This film represents my complete and last version, as it will contain all the essential footage we shot. I don't know how many filmmakers have managed to make three versions of the same film, but I have been fortunate to have the opportunity because of the success of video and DVD sales in the world, and I felt if I didn't do it now, with the energy and memory I still have for the subject, it would never quite be the same again. For me, this is the complete Alexander, the clearest interpretation I can offer." Warner will release the DVD version on 2/27 (SRP $24.98) as a 2-disc set, complete with a new introduction to the film by Stone. The film is presented in anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, and it's split over both discs with an intermission. High-definition HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc versions will follow in May (street date TBA). Here's a look at the DVD cover art:

Alexander Revisited: The Final Cut

I have to admit, I'm officially intrigued. That's a badass cover shot in any case.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/18/07 - 11:45 AM PST)

We've got a bit of follow-up on yesterday's Star Trek news for you this morning. We're still waiting to hear back from CBS Paramount as far as The Original Series (and other Trek TV properties), but Paramount Home Entertainment's Vice President of Publicity, Brenda Ciccone, told me last night in no uncertain terms that when the Star Trek feature films (which Paramount specifically controls) are released on disc in high-def, they will each be released on both HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc, in keeping with Paramount's stated commitment to support both formats. The studio is working to evaluate its catalog titles for high-def release now. So you Trekkers on both sides of the HD format war can all live long and prosper... on that score at least.

In other release news today, Buena Vista has announced the DVD release of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey's Great Clubhouse Hunt on 3/20 (SRP $26.99). The all new animated feature film will include unique interactive features that allow "young viewers to join in the action." Also included are the never-before-seen Donald's Hiccips episode of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse series and a new song.

Meanwhile today, Sony has added Big Fish to its 3/20 Blu-ray slate, along with repackaged 2-disc DVD versions of The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Guns of Navarone and Lawrence of Arabia (see cover art below). Also coming on 3/20 is a new single-disc DVD reissue of The Caine Mutiny.

Don't know if we've mentioned this before, but Fox has set Ridley Scott's A Good Year for release on 2/27.

Lionsgate has set Man About Town for release on 2/13.

And BCI Eclipse will release She-Ra: Princess of Power: Season One, Volume Two as a 6-disc set on 4/3 (SRP $49.98).

Also, Warner has announced a number of new DVD releases today including Diamonds of War: Africa's Blood Diamonds (National Geographic) and Burning Annie (both 3/20), Relentless Enemies (National Geographic - also on HD-DVD and Blu-ray) and Deep Sea IMAX (all 3/27), Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!: The Complete Third Season (it's also the final season - on 4/10), and E.R.: The Complete Seventh Season, an E.R.: The Complete Seasons 1-7 pack, A Pup Named Scooby-Doo: Volume 6, Tex Avery's Droopy: The Complete Theatrical Collection and Tom and Jerry: Tales Volume 2 (all 5/15). The studio has also announced the HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc release of the Steve McQueen classics Bullitt and The Getaway on 2/27.

And this would normally go in The Rumor Mill (so treat it accordingly) but industry sources are telling us to expect Fox's Night at the Museum to street on 3/20 (on DVD and Blu-ray Disc).

Here's a bit more DVD cover art for you today - those three Sony reissue classics mentioned above:

The Bridge on the River Kwai: CELawrence of Arabia: CEGuns of Navarone: CE

Stay tuned!

1/17/07

We've got new information on Star Trek coming to high-def for you today. The Hollywood Reporter and Home Media Retailing quote CBS Home Entertainment head Ken Ross as saying that Star Trek: The Original Series is going to be released on DVD/HD-DVD Combo format at the end of 2007. "The reason we chose to do that is to give us the ability to make high-definition transfers of the show available to people who don't yet have high-definition players," Ross says in the interview. However the same piece also notes that while a Blu-ray Disc release hasn't yet been scheduled, CBS will support both formats like Paramount does. So, to cut through all the hype, this likely means that while the HD-DVD camp can probably accurately say that The Original Series will be an HD-DVD exclusive in 2007, the release almost certainly won't happen until the very end of the year (simply due to the fact that it's going to take that long to finish at least a season's worth of remastered episodes) and a Blu-ray Disc release probably won't be far behind. Rest assured, we're looking into this further to confirm all the available details.

Now for the other big sci-fi saga everyone loves... Star Wars. Several readers have e-mailed us today with a link to images of a "Star Wars 11 DVD Ultimate Complete Collection Deluxe Box Set" available from an online DVD retailer. It's bogus - absolutely not authentic. Your first clue should be that the discs feature subtitles in Chinese, Thai and Korean in addition to English, French and Spanish. This is a bootleg all the way. It's basically a repackaged set containing all of the legitimate Star Wars DVDs that have been released thus far (or copies of them), along with the Star Wars: A Musical Journey program, all in custom Digipack packaging. Our sources tell us that there is likely a big official DVD release of the Star Wars films planned for later in 2007 by Fox and Lucasfilm... but this isn't it. One would expect that it would have to be announced in the next couple of months, however, so watch this space for more.

Anyway... some new DVD announcements: Universal has just set Succubus: Hell-Bent for release on 4/17. So you Succubus fans can all sleep easy now.

Fox has also added Little Robots: Reach for the Sky to its 4/3 slate.

And on 2/13, Warner is releasing the first four discs in a new Director's Showcase line (SRP $19.97), featuring new transfers, audio commentaries and new bonus materials. The first titles will include Neil Jordan's The Butcher Boy, Federico Fellini's Ginger & Fred, Tony Richardson's The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner and Nicolas Roeg's Performance.

Here's more cover art for you to enjoy today: Fox's Borat (3/6), and MGM's Stargate: Atlantis - Season Two (3/6) and The Addams Family: Volume 2 (3/27)...

BoratStargate: Atlantis - Season TwoThe Addams Family: Volume 2

As always, stay tuned...

1/16/07

Afternoon, folks! Sorry about the lack of an update yesterday. Even though it was MLK Day here in the States, I'd planned to post a small update, but poor Sarah came down with the flu so I spent the day yesterday ferrying her to the doctor and picking up medicines and so forth. Anyway, she's starting to feel better, so thanks for your patience.

Okay, first up today, we've just posted the complete transcript of a chat that our friends at the Home Theater Forum hosted last night with Microsoft's Kevin Collins (the company's Director of HD-DVD Evangelism) on the subject of HD-DVD. There's some interesting things in there. If Kevin is to be believed, Paramount is going to be releasing the Star Trek feature films as HD-DVD exclusives in 2007. That's certainly unexpected, given Paramount's stated support for both Blu-ray and HD-DVD. We've already got a call into Paramount to confirm this one way or the other, so stay tuned. Man... this format war is so F-ing stupid, I can't even tell you. Everyone involved should be ashamed of themselves for putting consumers and enthusiasts through this mess. Anyway, it's a good chat regardless, so thanks to Ron, Parker and the whole crew at HTF for the transcript, and to Kevin Collins as well. Can't fault a guy for doing his job. ;)

In terms of standard DVD announcements today, Universal has just revealed a new Harry and the Hendersons: Special Edition for release on 4/24, along with a new Parenthood: Special Edition. Also coming from the studio is Opal Dream on 4/3 and Murder, She Wrote: The Complete Sixth Season on 4/17.

Paramount has set Foxworthy's Big Night Out: Season One for release on 4/10. Happy Days: The Complete Second Season, Laverne & Shirley: The Complete Second Season and Mork & Mindy: The Complete Second Season will all follow on 4/17. Meanwhile, NCIS: The Third Season and the classic The Odd Couple: The First Season street on 4/24.

Also, BCI and Freemantle Entertainment have just signed an exclusive distribution deal that gives BCI the DVD release rights to classic game shows like The Price Is Right and Family Feud, the British sitcom The IT Crowd and the series Prehistoric Park.

Warner has just announced the DVD release of George Lopez: The Complete First and Second Seasons on 4/17. They've also announced a new James Cagney: The Signature Collection for release on 4/24 (SRP $49.92), including the new-to-DVD films The Bride Came C.O.D., Captain of the Clouds, The Fighting 69th, Torrid Zone and The West Point Story (also also available separately for SRP $19.97).

Meanwhile, Sony has set The Jeffersons: The Complete Sixth Season for release on 3/27, along with Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman: Volume One, Tempest and Pumpkinhead: Ashes to Ashes. The Curse of the Golden Flower and The Pursuit of Happyness are also set for release on 3/27 - more details on those titles will follow soon. Sony has also moved the street date for the Gandhi: 25th Anniversary Collector's Edition to 2/20.

In other news, The Criterion Collection has posted official word of the debut of their new Eclipse DVD line on their website, featuring details on the 5-disc first release, Series 1: Early Bergman, which streets on 3/27 and will include the films Torment, Crisis, Port of Call, Thirst and To Joy. Very cool indeed.

Finally, Lionsgate has set The Last Unicorn: 25th Anniversary Edition for release on 2/6.

Here's a little bit of new cover art, including Early Bergman, Universal's Arabian Nights: Cinema Classics (2/6) and Paramount's Babel (2/20). I love how the Eclipse logo plays off the recently-revised Criterion logo. They're some cool cats over there at Criterion...

Early Bergman (Criterion Eclipse)Arabian Nights: Cinema ClassicsBabel

Stay tuned...


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