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(Archived Posts 3/2/07 - 2/5/07)
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We're pleased to kick off another Friday afternoon with Barrie's
Classic Coming Attractions column, in which he runs down
the latest classic film DVD and high-def release announcements. Barrie
will be back next with more release announcement news and some disc
reviews too. Enjoy!
Also, Lindsay Planner over at MusicTAP
has posted a review of Columbia/Legacy's
Öyster Cult: Some Enchanted Evening - Legacy Edition CD
and DVD set.
In new announcement news today, Buena Vista and Miramax have confirmed
that The Queen will be released on
both DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 4/24. Both will feature anamorphic
widescreen video, with extras set to include the Making
of The Queen featurette and audio commentary with director
Stephen Frears, writer Peter Morgan and British historian/Royal Expert
Robert Lacey. The DVD will be priced at SRP $29.99.
Also, Touchstone's Déjà Vu
will be released on Blu-ray as well as DVD on 4/24.
While we're on the subject of Buena Vista and Blu-ray, I've learned
today that the forthcoming release of Cars
and the Pirates of the Caribbean
films will include so much material that they'll be 2-disc sets (BD50s).
Cars is expected to be released in
late June. Official details should be announced in the next few weeks.
And on the HD-DVD front today, there's a new firmware update from
Toshiba for the HD-XA2, HD-A2, HD-A2W and HD-D2. According to the
company, the update (version 1.3) "addresses
certain disc playback and HDMI/DVI related problems identified by
Toshiba". You can download the update
It's a little slow on the standard DVD side today, but we do have word
that HBO will release Longford on
6/19 (SRP $26.98).
And Anchor Bay Entertainment has announced that their April DVD slate
will include a Mario Bava Collection: Volume
One (Black Sunday, Black
Sabbath, The Girl Who Knew Too
Much, Knives of the Avenger
and Kill, Baby... Kill!), Roseanne:
Season Seven, Dead and Deader,
III, Survival Quest, a
Highlander Series: Best of the Best Box Set,
Masters of Horror - Season Two: Family
(John Landis), Noein: Volume Three
Here's some more new cover art... Miramax's The
Queen, HBO's Deadwood: The
Complete Third Season (6/12) and Anchor Bay's Mario
Bava Collection: Volume One...
Well... it's off to see David Fincher's Zodiac
for all of us here at The Bits.
We've been looking forward to that for a while. Have a great weekend,
Okay, we've got a couple of quick bits of new release news today.
First, Warner has officially announced the Blu-ray Disc release of The
Dirty Dozen and Enter the Dragon
on 4/17 (SRP $28.99 each). All the DVD extras will be included. Both
titles are already available on HD-DVD.
You'll also be happy to know that we've checked with Warner and have
confirmed that a Bonnie and Clyde: 40th
Anniversary Collector's Edition is being worked on for
release sometime later this year, with the full participation of Warren
Beatty. The subject of the film's planned DVD re-issue wasn't raised
the HTF chat from Monday, so a LOT of you have been
e-mailing me to ask about it. There you go!
Also, HBO has announced Deadwood: The
Complete Third Season for release on 6/12 (SRP $99.98), as
well as Ghosts of Abu Ghraib (6/5)
and Russell Simmons' Def Comedy Jam: All 11
Now then... we promised you
Rumor Mill update today, didn't we? Well, you've got one.
Anyone waiting on the DVD release of Apocalypto
will be pleased. We've also got LOTS of upcoming Universal release news,
for both DVD and HD-DVD titles too. Just because we think Blu-ray is
going to win the format war, doesn't mean we don't have love for you
HD-DVD guys. This is your big Uni HD news for the year, so enjoy it.
Here's more cover art... Warner's Chips: The
Complete First Season (6/5), Lionsgate's A
Darren Aronofsky Collection: Requiem for a Dream and Pi
(3/17) and Universal's Smokin' Aces
Is it just me, or does Larry Wilcox look a lot like Brett Farve on that
Chips cover? HHhmmmm...
Afternoon, Bits-ers. We've got a
few more new announcements to report today.
20th Century Fox has set Notes on a Scandal
for release on 4/17, with extras set to include audio commentary by
director Richard Eyre, 3 featurettes (Notes
on a Scandal: The Story of Two Obsessions, Notes
on a Scandal: Behind-the-Scenes and In
Character: Cate Blanchett), "exclusive webisodes"
and the film's theatrical trailer.
Also newly announced by Fox for release on 5/22 is Kitchen
Sony has revealed that Volver
(due 4/3) will include audio commentary with director Pedro Almodovar
and star Penelope Cruz, The Making of Volver
featurette, director and cast interviews and more.
And Warner has announced a Romance
Collection (The Lake House,
Phantom of the Opera and You've
Got Mail) and a Romantic Comedy
Collection (Must Love Dogs,
Rumor Has It and Sisterhood
of the Travelling Pants) for release on 5/1, Spark
for 5/15, The Nancy Drew: Original Mystery
Movie Collection (Detective,
The Reporter, Troubleshooter
and The Hidden Staircase) for
6/12, and finally Animaniacs: Volume Three
and Pinky and the Brain: Volume Three
Speaking of Warner, we thought you might like a quick rundown of the
best news from
chat with HTF on Monday night. There's
detailed summary at the end of the transcript, but here's some
cool highlights: The ultimate Blade Runner
edition will be released on DVD, HD-DVD and Blu-ray before the end of
the year including "all the different iterations of the film"
as well as Ridley Scott's new Final Cut.
Quo Vadis is expected in 2008. A
Road Warrior: Special Edition is
set to be announced soon. Rio Bravo
will be re-released as a new 2-disc special edition. Orson Welles' The
Magnificent Ambersons and Journey
into Fear will finally be released in 2008. The new Stanley
Kubrick special editions will be released by the end of the year,
including DVD and both high-def formats. A Deliverance:
35th Anniversary Edition is coming to all formats this year.
A second Busby Berkley Collection
will be out in 2008. A new Poltergeist:
Special Edition is coming to all formats. Heat
will be released on both HD formats in 2008. The
Jazz Singer will finally be released this year for its 80th
anniversary. Branagh's Hamlet is
done and will finally be released this summer on all formats. Royal
Wedding has been rescued from public domain hell and is
coming. Also, Warner confirmed that it will continue to support both HD
formats equally, and will release everything that's been issued already
HD-DVD on Blu-ray Disc (presumably later in the year, that equal support
will come in the form of dual-format TotalHD discs). And that's just the
highlights. Check the links above for much more!
We'll leave you today with new cover artwork for Sony's Volver,
New Line's Little Children (5/1)
and Fox's Notes on a Scandal...
Back tomorrow with a big Rumor Mill
update! Stay tuned...
Morning, everyone! As promised, we're very pleased today to bring to
complete transcript of last night's live Home Theater Forum
chat with the folks at Warner Home Video. There's lots of good
information in there - TONS of news about great upcoming DVDs and
high-def titles - so do check it out. As always, thanks to Ron, Parker,
Crawdaddy and everyone at the HTF
for another great event!
Also today, some announcement news: Universal has just revealed that
Children of Men will street on DVD
and HD-DVD/DVD Combo format on 3/27. The DVD will carry an SRP of $29.98
and will include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio,
deleted scenes, the Possibility of Hope
documentary and 4 featurettes (Theo and
Julian, Futuristic Designs,
Visual Effects: Creating the Baby
and Men Under Attack: Children of Men).
The HD-DVD version will add a U-Control option, picture-in-picture video
and "Ads & Propaganda". This is a great, great film and
we're certainly looking forward to it on disc.
Also newly announced on HD-DVD by Universal today (for release on 5/22)
are The Hurricane, The
Skeleton Key and Smokey and the
Bandit (SRP $29.98 each).
And in standard DVD news, Uni has set The
Hardy Boys Nancy Drew Mysteries: Season Two for release on
While we're on the high-def front today, word has arrived that Sony
will bow a less expensive, second generation Blu-ray Disc player this
summer. The BDP-S300 will carry an SRP of $599 (expected to drop below
$500 by the end of the year) and will offer 1080p output via HDMI. You
can read more
at Home Media Retailing.
Meanwhile, Sony has announced the Blu-ray Disc release of the Donnie
Brasco: Extended Cut and a Revenge:
Director's Cut on 5/8. Also coming that day from Sony on
standard DVD are the delayed 2-disc versions of Bridge
on the River Kwai, The Guns of
Navarone and Lawrence of Arabia
(could the Blu-ray versions finally be planned for that day as well?),
along with DVDs of the Donnie Brasco:
Extended Cut, the Revenge:
Director's Cut and The Caine
Mutiny: Collector's Edition.
HBO (via Warner) has announced the release of The
Hard Easy on 5/22 (SRP $19.97).
Finally, also coming from Warner on 5/15 is Carlos
Mencia in: The Best of Funny is Funny (SRP $19.98).
Well... the Oscars were handed out last night, and it sure was nice to
see Martin Scorsese finally get a Best Director statue. And from friends
Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas no less. But oh
my god was that a long and boring telecast. You know something's amiss
when Al Gore (sort of) getting an Oscar is one of the night's more
exciting moments. Other than Scorsese, about the only really
entertaining thing that happened was the musical performance of those
songs from Dreamgirls. Otherwise,
every time they cut to the audience, you could see even the Hollywood
folk falling asleep. I mean, come on... what was with that Mumenchance
shadow stuff? Yikes. For anyone interested in the list of winners, visit
There's a little bit of DVD release news to report today: First up,
Universal has set Coach: The Second Season
for release on 5/15 (SRP $26.98).
Sony has set Catch & Release
to debut on 5/8. Additional details are TBA.
Buena Vista has announced The Queen
for release on 4/24. Extras are TBA but are likely to include audio
commentary and a "making of" documentary.
The Weinstein Company will release Black
Christmas on 4/3, with Bobby
following on 4/10 and Arthur and the
Invisibles expected to follow on 5/15.
And Warner has announced a 2-disc Powerpuff
Girls: The Complete First Season for release on 6/19 (SRP
In high-def news today, the HD-DVD supporters are crowing about the
news that Circuit City has decided to carry HD-DVD players and software
in addition to the Blu-ray players and software they already carry. You
can read more about that
at Video Business.
Meanwhile, here's that Nielsen VideoScan data we promised you on Friday
Home Media Retailing. According to the data for the week
ending 2/18, Blu-ray Disc has now officially erased the software sales
lead enjoyed by HD-DVD since it launched months earlier in 2006.
Around the site today, we've kicked off THREE new
giving each of you the chance to take home copies of Warner's
Revisited: The Final Cut,
Titans: Trouble in Tokyo, the BBC's
Two and Rhino's
The Best of
the Flip Wilson Show. All of the contests will run until Noon
(Pacific) on Saturday, March 3rd. Click on the links to enter and good
Finally today, Adam has turned in
new edition of The Bottom Shelf, in which he reviews a
trio of new horror titles on DVD including Anchor Bay's
of Horror: Pelts and
of the Living Dorks, as well as Tartan's
Don't forget, our friends at
Home Theater Forum will be holding a live, online chat
with Warner Home Video tonight (from 5-8 PM Pacific). Everyone can
participate and ask questions, so be sure to do so. As always, we'll
have a full transcript here at The Bits
tomorrow morning. Don't miss it!
News from the underground...
First up today, our friends at
Home Theater Forum will be holding a live, online chat
with the gang over at Warner Home Video on Monday evening (2/26 - 5-8 PM
Pacific). So here's your big chance to ask about TotalHD, the studio's
equal Blu-ray and HD-DVD support, the forthcoming release of Hamlet,
Blade Runner, the Stanley Kubrick
special editions and all the rest. As always, we'll have a full
transcript here at The Bits on
Tuesday morning. Should be a great chat, so do check it out.
Next, as you probably already know, this is Bald Britney weekend. Er...
wait. No, this is Oscar
weekend. That's what I meant to say. So tune in on Sunday night to catch
vacuous entertainment reporters on the red carpet asking the Hollywood
glitterati if they're going to shave their heads too. "Brad,
Angelina! Ever been to rehab? Who's that you're wearing? Whatcha eat for
breakfast?" I suppose it's not all bad. We'll see if Martin
Scorsese and Peter O'Toole finally get to be brides... or bridesmaids
And when the Oscars roll around, you know what that means. That's
right... The Bitsys are coming! We
haven't set the exact date yet, but we're already hard at work on the
awards, so we'll probably give you the heads-up next week. Consider that
your FYI on the FYI. Hey - people have been asking. ;)
Here's the part of today's post I'm not so enthused about mentioning
this morning. It seems there may be yet another DVD disturbance in the
Force brewing. Ugh. It's in
Rumor Mill so... you know.
Now then... some new announcements. Universal has set Alpha
Dog and The Hitcher for
release on 5/1. Both will be offered in full frame and anamorphic
widescreen DVD versions, as well as HD-DVD/DVD Combo discs.
Sony has set Motives 2: Retribution
for DVD release on 5/1 as well, and it looks like Volver
is going to be released on 4/3 (details TBA).
Meanwhile, Fox has set Van Wilder Deux: The
Rise of Taj Badalandabad - Unrated for release on 3/27. Try
saying that ten times fast.
Warner has announced a WW II Collection:
Volume 2 - Heroes Fight for Freedom box set on 6/5 (SRP
$59.92) including 36 Hours, Air
Force, Command Decision,
Hell to Eternity, The
Hill and Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo
(each also available separately). Also newly announced by Warner for
release on 5/15 are Simon Schama's The Power
of Art and Dance with Len Goodman.
American Pastime follows on 5/22.
And here's cool news: The long-delayed George Clooney TV version of Fail
Safe finally debuts on DVD on 6/5 as well.
word from Nielsen VideoScan and Home Media Retailing that
Blu-ray Disc has officially surpassed HD-DVD in Format(s) to Date
software sales. According to the data for the week ending 2/18, Blu-ray
Disc has now sold 100 units for every 98.71 HD-DVDs sold since the
formats launched last year. The linked story at HMR
includes blustery spin from all parties concerned, so it's sure to pour
gas on the already fiery discussion boards. We'll update our official
tracking numbers (above) on Monday.
We'll leave you today with more cover art. Here's Warner's Fail
Safe and the WW II Collection:
Volume 2 - Heroes Fight for Freedom box set, as well as Fox's
Night at the Museum (4/24)...
Back on Monday with news, a new Barrie Maxwell column and more.
There's a little more DVD and HD release news today...
Lionsgate's March release slate looks like this: Care
Bears: Friends Forever, The
Miracle Maker: The Story of Jesus - Special Edition, SNL:
The Best of Steve Martin, Moonlighting:
Season 5 and Ed Gein: The Butcher
of Plainfield (all 3/6), Blood
Trails, Matando Cabos
and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Vol. 4
(all 3/13), St. Peter and Return
of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave (both 3/20), and A
Darren Aronofsky Collection: Requiem for a Dream and Pi, School
for Scoundrels, Lock Up,
and 7 of the After Dark Horrorfest
films including Reincarnation,
Dark Ride, The
Hamilons, The Gravedancers,
Dreadful and Wicked Little Things
(all 3/27). The Horrorfest titles
will sell for SRP $19.98 individually, and there will be a box set
available that day as well with all 7 for SRP $139.86. The 8th title,
Snoop Dogg's Hood of Horror, will
be released soon by Xenon (street date TBA).
Meanwhile, Warner has announced the following standard DVD releases:
Franklin and the Turtle Lake Treasure
(5/22), Robin Hood: Season 1 (6/5
- for the BBC, 5 discs, SRP $79.98), The
Original Nancy Drew Movie Mystery Collection (6/12, SRP
$24.98 - contains Nancy Drew, Detective,
Nancy Drew, Reporter, Nancy
Drew, Troubleshooter and Nancy
Drew and the Hidden Staircase) and Welcome
Back Kotter: The Complete First Season (6/12 - 4 discs, SRP
Warner has also officially announced the simultaneous HD-DVD and
Blu-ray Disc release of A Scanner Darkly
and Dog Day Afternoon on 4/10 (SRP
$28.99 each). All standard definition DVD features will be included.
Afternoon, folks! As expected, we're very pleased today to present you
with our own Adam Jahnke's latest edition of
Bottom Shelf, in which he reviews a pair of documentaries on
DVD, including Sony's
Hardcore and Magnolia's
Cowboys. Adam also has
few words to say about the recent death of Anna Nicole Smith. What
with all the "Who's the baby daddy?" coverage in the
mainstream media these days, Adam figured someone needed to raise the
bar a little bit, so he willingly stepped up to the task. Do check it
Adam's not done yet today though - not by a long shot. We're also very
pleased this afternoon to announce the debut of his brand new
Jahnke's Electric Theatre,
Version 2.0! We've moved the Theatre
to its very own section of The Bits
- Adam's own little sandbox to play in as he wishes - and you can get
there from a variety of links here at The
Bits and also via his own adamjahnke.com
web address! Adam kicks off his new Theatre
with a piece entitled Annual
#2: Gathering the Words, in which he looks back at the best
films he saw in 2006. And what would the Theatre
be without the Hell Plaza Octoplex?
Yep, that's right - Adam looks back at the worst films of 2006 as well.
Be sure to drop Adam a line
and tell him what you think! Just don't hassle him about the whole HD
format war thing. He couldn't care less and we love him for it. Enjoy!
Now then... we have some new DVD announcements to report today. First,
Universal has revealed a John Wayne: Screen
Legend Collection for release on 6/12 (SRP $26.98), which
will include Hellfighters, Reap
the Wild Wind, Rooster Cogburn,
The Spoilers and The
War Wagon. Reap the Wild Wind
and The Spoilers are presented in
the original full frame, while all the others are anamorphic widescreen.
Also due on 6/12 is a James Stewart: Screen
Legend Collection (SRP $26.98), including The
Glenn Miller Story, Next Time We
Love, Shenandoah, Thunder
Bay and You Gotta Stay Happy.
Next Time We Love and You
Gotta Stay Happy are in the original full frame, the others
are anamorphic widescreen. Also newly announced by Universal for release
on 5/15 is Curious George: Rocket Ride and
In other announcement news today, Paramount has set Rawhide:
The Second Season, Volume One for release on 5/29. They've
also set a number of great titles for release on 6/5, including Hogan's
Heroes: The Sixth Season, Mission:
Impossible - The Second TV Season, Welcome
Home, Roxy Carmichael, The Best of
Chappelle's Show, Maui Fever: The
Complete First Season, Max &
Ruby: Summertime with Max & Ruby, SpongeBob
SquarePants: Bikini Bottom Adventures, a Jackass
the Movie Unrated/Jackass Number Two Unrated 2-Pack and the
Martin & Lewis Collection: Volume 2,
which will include Living It Up,
You're Never Too Young, Artists
and Models, Pardners
and Hollywood or Bust. Finally,
the studio has announced Bam's Unholy Union:
The Complete First Season, Diagnosis
Murder: The Second Season and Walker,
Texas Ranger: The Third Season for release on 6/12.
And here's great news for you fans of 1970s Saturday morning fare...
BCI has finally announced the DVD release of Jason
of Star Command: The Complete Series on 5/8 (SRP $29.98). The
3-disc set will include all 28 episodes, along with the all-new The
Adventures of Jason of Star Command documentary, audio
commentary on two episodes (with producer Lou Scheimer, actors Craig
Littler and John Berwick, hosted by DVD producer Andy Mangels), a
special effects commentary track on one episode (with visual effects
supervisor Chuck Comisky, stop motion animator Jim Aupperle and live
action creature effects artist John Carl Beuchler, hosted by Mangels), a
special effects demo reel, galleries of promotional and
behind-the-scenes photos, a gallery of cast and crew reunion photos, a
gallery of art for a proposed animated series, a booklet with trivia and
an episode guide, Easter eggs and scripts for a number of episodes via
One more completely unrelated but interesting note today: Satellite
and Sirius have announced plans to merge and create a single
service. Just so long as the First Wave channel on Sirius sticks around,
okay by me.
Here's a look at the cover artwork for Paramount's Mission:
Impossible - The Second TV Season, BCI's Jason
of Star Command: The Complete Series and Terry Gilliam's Tideland:
2-Disc Collector's Edition (due 2/27 from ThinkFilm)......
We'll probably have a little more HD news and commentary tomorrow, but
I though some of you might appreciate a post without mention of the
words HD-DVD or Blu-ray for a change today. Oh, the troubled home video
times we live in... ;)
Well... wouldn't you know it. I went and forgot that this is a national
holiday here in the States, so most of our Team America readers are
decidedly 'off campus' today. Hollywood is empty as a ghost town too
(the stars and suits are all out shopping for Oscar-wear today). So to
be fair to Jahnke, and to make sure that his wondrous prose tickles the
most eyeballs, we're going to wait until tomorrow to post a bunch of new
material from him.
But hey... wipe away those tears. There's still a little bit of news to
report today. Not much, admittedly, but we've got a little something for
First up, First Look has announced the DVD release of The
Dead Girl on 5/8 (SRP $24.98).
Paramount's Freedom Writers is
due on 4/17 (SRP TBA) and will include deleted scenes, the Making
'A Dream", Freedom Writers
Family and Freedom Writers: The
Story Behind the Story featurettes, a photo gallery and the
film's theatrical trailer.
ThinkFilm has set Candy for
release on 3/27 (SRP $27.98). Extras will include audio commentary with
writer/director Luke Davies, the Making of
Candy and Writing on the Wall:
Candy's Poem in Motion featurettes, and trailers.
And for you Milla Jovovich fans, ThinkFilm will release .45
on 4/24 (SRP $27.98). Extras will include audio commentary and trailers.
Image Entertainment has set The Hunt
for release on 3/20 (SRP $26.99). This 'alien stalker in the woods' film
was directed by Fritz Kiersch of Children of
the Corn fame.
New Line has set Who the #$&% Is Jackson
Pollack? for release on DVD on 5/1 (SRP $27.95).
And Lionsgate has just announced a Shanghai
Surprise: Special Edition for release on 4/10 (SRP $19.98).
Yes, that's the 1986 Sean Penn and Madonna film. You'll get the film in
anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, the 'Fans Unite!'
commentary, and what look to be a trio of featurettes including Lights,
Camera, Shanghai!, Madonna: 1986
(is that anything like Galactica: 1980?)
and I Love Shanghai Surprise.
Apparently none of the participants wanted to revisit the project. But
hey - you get cool foil packaging!
In other news today, we have the latest Nielsen VideoScan HD-DVD vs.
Blu-ray Disc numbers for you from
Media Retailing. As you can see below, Blu-ray Disc is still
outselling HD-DVD Year to Date by a 2 to 1 margin, which increased every
so slightly for the week ending 2/4 (about 1%). The Format(s) to Date
gap also closed by about the same margin. It'll be interesting to see
what happens to these numbers when Casino
Royale and Rocky Balboa
street next month. It'll also be interesting to see if we're presented
with any numbers as to whether Paramount's Babel
and Warner's The Departed sell
more copies on HD-DVD or Blu-ray Disc (they're available on both
By the way, I've still been getting TONS of e-mail about my format war
editorials from last week (click
in that order). I am trying to read them all and reply to as many as I
can. As you can imagine though it's pretty slow going. Still, I continue
to be surprised by the general positive tone of your responses. And for
those of you who do disagree, I'm happy to say the tone has gotten a lot
more polite and the counter arguments more substantive, which is
appreciated. I'll try to summarize and address the better and more
interesting comments later this week.
Finally this morning, we wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the
passing of a man to whom we all owe a massive debt:
Adler died last week at the ripe old age of 93. Who was Robert
Adler you ask? Why, he's the man who co-invented the TV remote control
among many other things. Speaking of him with CNN, his wife Ingrid said,
"He was more of a reader. He was a man who
would dream in the night and wake up and say, 'I just solved a problem.'
He was always thinking science." Well, we are grateful for
it. The staff of The Bits raises
our remotes today in a sincere farewell salute. Many thanks, Robert!
Well... as expected, I've received a flood of e-mails over the last day
or so in response to
high-def format war comments of yesterday. And as expected, those
who have firmly attached themselves to HD-DVD weren't terribly pleased
with my arguments. The interesting thing, however, is that none of these
people could logically refute my reasoning, and very few even attempted
to do so. In fact, while some of the responses from HD-DVD supporters
were polite and thoughtful, most were defensive, overly emotional or
even downright hostile. A couple e-mails were so nasty that I can only
wonder at the mental stability of their authors. All of this suggests to
me that even these people are starting to suspect that the writing is on
the wall for HD-DVD.
I was pleasantly surprised, however, at how many readers responded to
say that they generally agreed with my assessment of the situation. And
it wasn't just Blu-ray supporters who reacted positively. A surprising
number of retailers and industry insiders expressed relief that we had
finally said what they WANTED to say, but weren't in a position to do
so. I was also struck by how many people that agreed with my comments
said they hadn't yet adopted either format, instead having decided to
remain neutral until a choice was more clear. But many of those folks
told us that they were now close to jumping into the high-def arena, and
Blu-ray was where they were headed. The responses as a whole were
certainly fascinating, and they have done nothing but convince me
further that this format war needs to end now, before the early adopter
market gets even more fractious and divisive.
So what, or who, could end this format war? Simple: Universal. If
Universal were to suddenly announce support for Blu-ray Disc in addition
to HD-DVD, or if they were to adopt Warner's TotalHD combo disc, that
would be the end of it. You would suddenly have every major studio in
town releasing Blu-ray titles (except for DreamWorks, and our sources
tell us that the studio is simply waiting for one of these formats to
start selling serious numbers before getting involved). By the end of
the year, cheaper second generation Blu-ray hardware will available, and
that's the ballgame. That's not to say that Microsoft and Toshiba would
stop pushing HD-DVD anytime soon. And I'm sure some of the HD-DVD
supporting studios would continue releasing titles, at least for a
while. But why would any average consumer want to buy an HD-DVD player,
even a very cheap one, when you can't get Disney movies, you can't get
Pixar films, you can't get the Bond films, you can't get the Spider-Man
films, etc, etc, etc. Universal has the power to end this format war
tomorrow. We certainly hope a lot of people, both inside the industry
and film fans as a whole, are making efforts to POLITELY convince them
to do so. Here's how:
Universal Studios Home Video
70 Universal City Plaza
Universal City, CA 91608
form on website
While we're on the subject, here's more evidence of Blu-ray's
advantage: Blu-ray almost completely dominates the Japanese market now (click
here for more on that), and has a clear edge in the Australian
market as well (click
here). In fact, one of Australia's leading consumer electronics
retailers, JB Hi-Fi, has announced that they won't even carry HD-DVD in
their stores (click
here). Why? Because they, like many others, simply don't see how
HD-DVD can overcome the overwhelming studio support behind Blu-ray Disc.
JB's marketing director, Scott Browning, put his company's position this
way: "We don't want to be selling $1000
clocks." Ouch. Any way you slice it, this whole format war
situation is just getting silly.
By the way, for you HD-DVD fans out there who are running around online
today claiming that I'm somehow getting paid to endorse Blu-ray (rather
than coming to the rather obvious logical conclusion all on my own),
I'll bet you this: If, in the next few months, the HD-DVD camp suddenly
gets all those Blu-ray exclusive studios to start releasing titles on
their format, and if all those electronics manufacturers who have
released Blu-ray players start releasing HD-DVD or combo players too,
I'll will happily and publicly revise my opinion. I'll even exclude Sony
on both counts. But I'm betting it isn't going to happen.
Okay, enough high-def talk for today. We've got a few new standard DVD
announcements to report this afternoon, as well as details on features
and extras on a few previously announced releases. So let's get to it...
First up, we have word that Fox's Last King
of Scotland (4/17) will include audio commentary by director
Kevin MacDonald, 7 deleted scenes with optional commentary by MacDonald,
the Capturing Idi Amin
documentary, the Forest Whitaker
and Fox Movie Channel Presents: Casting
Session - The Last King of Scotland featurettes and two
Meanwhile, The History Boys (also
due 4/17 from Fox), will include audio commentary with director Nicholas
Hytner and writer Alan Bennett, the History
Boys Around the World: Tour Diaries and the Pass
it On: The History Boys on Screen featurette.
Speaking of Universal, the studio has set Focus Films' The
Secret Life of Words for release on 5/8 (SRP $29.98).
There's some exciting DVD news from Criterion today: The company
just announced that it's May slate will include Jean-Pierre
Melville's Army of Shadows (Cat
#385), Shohei Imamura's Vengeance Is Mine
(#384), Kenji Mizoguchi's Sansho the Bailiff
(#386) and a new 2-disc special edition re-issue of Carol Reed's classic
The Third Man (#64).
Also today, Sony has set Until Death
for release on DVD on 4/24, along with a Blu-ray version of Secret
And finally, New Line has set Fur: An
Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus for release on 5/8 (SRP
$27.95), including audio commentary with director Steven Shainberg,
deleted scenes with optional commentary by Shainberg and the film's
Here's a look at the cover art for Fox's The
Last King of Scotland, as well as Criterion's Army
of Shadows and The Third Man...
Alright... that's enough for this week. We'll be back on Monday with a
whole buncha Jahnke.
Morning, folks. Hope you all had a swell Valentine's Day. We've got
some ground to cover today, so let's get right to it.
First, let's get some DVD announcement news out of the way. 20th
Century Fox has revealed the 4/17 release of Notes
on a Scandal, The Last King of
Scotland and The History Boys.
Also, they've set Cagney & Lacey: Season
One for release on 5/8, with American
Dad: Volume Two following on 5/15.
Warner has set Chapters for
release on 4/17, with a Films of Faith
Collection: Volume Two box set (including Hometown
Legend, Pay It Forward
and A Walk to Remember) and The
O.C.: The Complete Fourth Season following on 5/22, The
Lost Language of Cranes (BBC), The
Naked Civil Servant (BBC) and a Katharine
Hepburn Collection (including The
Corn is Green, Dragon Seed,
Morning Glory, Sylvia
and Without Love - each also
available separately) set for 5/29, and Doctor
Who: Episode 115 - The Keeper of Traken, Doctor
Who: Episode 116 - Logopolis, Doctor
Who: Episode 117 - Castrovalva and Doctor
Who: New Beginnings all following on 6/5 (all for the BBC).
Also, Media Blasters has announced that the street date for Voltron:
Collection Three - Green Lion has been pushed from 2/27 to
5/8 due to production issues. Rest assured that it's still coming and
I've been told by the company that the set will be "just
as great as our previous Voltron releases."
And BCI Eclipse has announced the DVD release of The
Ghost Busters: The Complete Series on 4/17 (SRP $29.98). The
2-disc set will contain all all 15 episodes of the classic live action
series plus interviews with producer Lou Scheimer and "gorilla"
star Bob Burns, rare footage, scripts for all the episodes, production
photos and more.
Now then... in high-def news today, Fox and MGM have informed us of the
specific Blu-ray Disc titles that they've had to delay temporarily due
to production issues. They include Ice Age,
The Thomas Crown Affair and Dances
with Wolves from March, and Tristan
& Isolde, Dude Where's My Car?,
The Fly, Turistas,
of the Lambs and To Live and Die
in L.A. from April. New street dates for these titles are
expected to be announced shortly, so we'll let you know.
In other high-def news, we've got the first reports on actual unit
software sales numbers, though the numbers come from Sony Computer
Entertainment America (which has an obvious bias).
Generation magazine has reported Sony's claim that 439,000
Blu-ray movie discs have sold in the U.S., while 438,000 HD-DVDs have
sold. We believe these numbers are format to date. It will be
interesting to see if any third party tracking companies release unit
sales numbers to confirm Sony's claims. Still, they don't seem out of
line with the data we've seen from Nielsen VideoScan recently.
magazine has posted an interesting story recently that has
relevance to the HD format war. The piece indicates that the adult film
industry is in the middle of its worst software sales slump in years, in
part impacted by the sheer volume of free adult content available
online. That would stand in sharp contrast to the notion that the adult
industry is powerful enough to influence the HD-DVD/Blu-ray format war.
In fact, despite the free content that's already online, industry
analysts see the most profitable part of the porn market moving from DVD
directly to the Internet... bypassing HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc entirely.
Several adult producers have told us here at The
Bits that the ultimate goal is to deliver high-definition
adult content directly to computers and DVRs via broadband, without any
physical media involved.
Here's yet another major HD story, and it's breaking news: A hacker or
hackers on the Doom9 forums are reporting that they've actually managed
to discover the so-called "processing key" that allows them to
circumvent the AACS DRM protection on ALL HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc
software. Naturally, the AACS Licensing Administrator is "investigating
the claims." This could end up being a MAJOR story, so we'll watch
how it develops. Reminds me of a classic Scotty quote from one of the
Trek films: "The
more they over think the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the
drain." You can read more here at
and here at
Finally today, I'm tickled to learn that I'm not the only media analyst
that's earned the ire of a select group of... shall we say,
passionate?... early adopters on the Net. CNet
executive editor David Carnoy has apparently been flamed too by HD-DVD
enthusiasts online for daring to suggest that HD-DVD may not have a rosy
future. You can read his amusing editorial reaction
You know, the funny thing about all this is that I really like both
HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc just as video formats. They both deliver
fantastic quality and features. But technically and quality-wise, this
format war is basically a wash. Therefore, it's reasonable to assume
that if this battle is going to be decided by anything, it will be other
factors. Like which studios support each format, which manufacturers
support each format, what the software and hardware sales trends are,
etc. And in each of those areas, Blu-ray has developed a clear edge.
Let's look at these simple facts: Of the 12 major and mini-major
Hollywood studios (Fox, Disney, MGM, Sony, Lionsgate, Paramount, New
Line, HBO, Warner Bros, Universal, DreamWorks and The Weinstein Company)
9 support Blu-ray, 5 of them exclusively. Only 6 support HD-DVD, just 2
of them exclusively (one studio, DreamWorks, remains uncommitted). Not
counting computer hardware or budget brands, Blu-ray Disc has 9 major
set-top hardware manufacturers behind it (Sony, Pioneer, Samsung,
Philips, Panasonic, LG, Mitsubishi, Thomson, Sharp), while HD-DVD boasts
just two (Toshiba and now LG). HD-DVD is an add-on to Microsoft's Xbox
360, while Blu-ray is built into EVERY Sony PlayStation 3. Nielsen
VideoScan is reporting that in software sales, Blu-ray has virtually
erased the sales lead enjoyed by HD-DVD since the formats were launched,
and is now outselling HD-DVD by a 2 to 1 (and growing) margin.
I can understand that some people just love HD-DVD and have had great
experiences with it. We have too. I understand that some people hate
Sony for perceived corporate arrogance. I'm not a big fan of their
tactics either, particularly how they went around the DVD Forum to
develop their format. But let's face it - the biggest corporate
cheerleader for HD-DVD seems to be Microsoft, which isn't exactly
comforting either. All of those issues aside, however, how do you argue
with the facts that are clearly becoming obvious - namely, ALL those
things I just mentioned above? Frankly, the best sales pitch the HD-DVD
camp seems to be able to make right now is: "Hey, we've got DVD
right in the name! Plus cheap off-brand players are on the way! And
porn!" I guess I have to be the guy who states the obvious, but
doesn't that seem a little odd to anyone?
The cheap players thing is worth addressing here. The reality is, price
sensitivity isn't an issue in the first year or so of any new format.
It's mostly just the early adopters who are interested at that point
anyway. By the time a wider consumer base is starting to get interested,
2nd and 3rd generation players have entered the market and they're
inevitably cheaper. What surprised me most at CES is just how
aggressively the HD-DVD camp seems to be trying to drive their format's
hardware prices as low as possible by bringing off-brand Asian
manufactures into their fold. The arrival of ultra-cheap $100 and $50
players in the DVD industry is what spelled the end of DVD hardware
profitability for the major CE manufacturers. So why INVITE this
situation before your format is even a year old? It makes no business
sense that I can see, unless it's a desperation play - a last ditch
effort not to lose.
I've also heard people cite universal players as the answer to having
two formats. But the problem with universal players is that while they
make life easier for early adopters, they do nothing to clear up the
mass consumer (or mainstream media) perception of a format war, so those
folks still remain on the sidelines. In addition to that, universal
players tend to cost more, which again doesn't affect early adopters
that much but is one more strike against adoption by consumers at large,
who are price sensitive.
As for porn... I've addressed that issue in the past, and you saw the
Newsweek story posted above.
Unlike the situation back in the days of VHS versus Betamax, cheap porn
is already available everywhere on DVD and online. Porn is not going to
decide this format war.
As I've said before, I like both HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc. They're both
great - they both deliver the goods. But there just isn't room for TWO
great formats. And at this point, I just don't see any likely
circumstance in which HD-DVD can evolve into a viable mass market
consumer video format. I certainly can't recommend in good conscience
that Bits readers commit to HD-DVD
right now. I tell most readers who ask me about the format war to just
stick with DVD, and wait until it's all over. But if they're prepared to
risk their money now, and are eager to do so, I have to tell them that
Blu-ray is the better bet.
Frankly, I wish this format war had never happened. I am SO sick and
tired of endlessly debating the merits of one of these formats versus
the other. I'm tired of talking to reps for studios that are sitting on
the fence or straddling both formats, who gamely spout the diplomatic
company line about how great both formats are on the record, but off the
record tell you how sick they all are of the situation and how much more
hassle and headache it's caused them having to support THREE formats
(including standard DVD). And I'm tired of watching early adopters
backbiting each other at every turn. I'd rather just be talking about
all the great films being released on disc in high-definition. I truly
don't care which format wins, as long as one wins. But as long as there
are two competing formats, we ALL lose. Period. The home video industry
is not like videogaming. People do not have the patience for two or
even three separate formats. They want to go to the store, buy a disc
and know that it's going to work when they get home. It's that simple.
They don't want to have to worry about having to buy the red box, or the
blue box... or even the red AND blue box.
I'd hate for the high-definition video format war to have the same
outcome as the high-resolution audio format war did. DVD-Audio versus
SACD ended in a stalemate, and most people just stuck with CDs or moved
to MP3 downloads. But mark my words, if the HD-DVD/Blu-ray war lingers
on, that's exactly where we're headed. All you enthusiasts that have
trenched in to support your particular format of choice come hell or
high water had better enjoy the movies you're getting now, because if
both formats fizzle out, forget about ever getting deep catalog, or
older classics that cost money to restore for HD - money that would have
come from software sales that aren't happening because too many people
stubbornly stuck to their guns and the format war dragged out until
nobody cared anymore. I think Stephen Colbert said it best when
predicting the future of the HD format war: "The
winner will be the one you DON'T buy." There could be a lot
more "truthiness" in that statement than some want to believe.
For the good of the video industry as a whole, and for the benefit of
film fans everywhere, this format war needs to end and SOON. So how long
do we all have to wait before we start acknowledging the elephant in the
room: One of these formats is already winning... and, for better or
worse, it isn't HD-DVD.
As promised, we're pleased this morning to bring you Barrie Maxwell's
latest installment of
Classics and Beyond! In this edition, Barrie runs down his
picks for the best HD-DVDs of 2006, and reviews 10 HD-DVD titles,
on the Bounty and
Kong, and Paramount's
Trade Center. Enjoy!
In forthcoming title news today, Fox has announced the 3/20 DVD and
Blu-ray Disc release of Eragon.
The DVD will be available in single-disc full frame and anamorphic
widescreen editions (SRP $29.98), as well as a 2-disc Eragon:
Special Edition (SRP $34.98). Disc One on all the DVDs will
include the film with audio commentary by director Stefen Fangmeier.
Disc Two on the special edition will include the multi-part Inside
The Inheritance Trilogy: The Magic of Eragon documentary, the
first two chapters of Eldest (the
second novel in the trilogy), 7 deleted/extended scenes, 6 character
profiles, an interview with author Christopher Paolini on the next film,
19 visual effects showcase segments, an anamatic sequence, a conceptual
art gallery, an animation guide, a pronunciation guide, storyboards for
10 sequences (including 4 deleted scenes), a videogame featurette and
trailers. Audio on the DVDs will be Dolby Digital 5.1. The Blu-ray Disc
(SRP $39.98) will include the film (MPEG-2) with DTS HD 5.1 audio and
Around the site today, we've kicked off a new Power
Buy on Pioneer's Elite Pro-FHD1 plasma! Click
here for more details.
And here's a look at more new cover art for Fox's Eragon,
Sony's Curse of the Golden Flower
(3/27), The Natural: Director's Cut
(4/3), The Pursuit of Happiness
(3/27) and Not Just the Best of The Larry
Sanders Show (4/17), and Buena Vista's Deja
Okay, so... I have to apologize for something. I'm a little distracted
today. Frankly, a lot distracted. I don't know how many of you Police
fans got the chance to see the band's tour announcement event this
morning, but... WOW. The event was broadcast live on VH1 Classics from
the Whisky in L.A., and let's just say... this is going to be a VERY
good year for Police fans. There's a world tour, maybe even the
tantalizing possibility of some new music. The band answered questions
and played a few songs. Hell... they even cranked out Voices
Inside My Head. No kidding. And they sounded fantastic doing
it! Anyway, you'll just have to forgive me for my lack of focus today.
This is a rather big deal for me personally, so my head is most
decidedly not in the game today. You can learn more at the band's new
website (good luck getting in though, it's swamped with traffic).
Anyway, that doesn't mean we don't have some news for you. First up
this afternoon, a Blu-ray Disc update. There have been a few reports
today that Fox and MGM have cancelled a bunch of their upcoming Blu-ray
Disc titles. I spoke with a senior Fox rep a short time ago, and this is
completely untrue. What's happening is that they're moving some dates
around. Nothing is being cancelled per se. Some titles are moving up,
some are being pushed back. There's just a bit of fluidity to the
schedule due to authoring and replication issues, and it should all
settle down again soon. I'm sure there are those hyping this as "the
end of Blu-ray" online, but the reality is far from it. We'll post
more details on the revised street dates when they're available.
Speaking of Fox, the studio has just announced that WKRP
in Cincinnati: The Complete First Season will street on DVD
on 4/24 (SRP $39.98). The 3-disc set will include all 22 first season
episodes, along with audio commentary on two episodes by show creator
Hugh Wilson and star Loni Anderson, and 2 featurettes (Do
My Eyes Say Yes? and A 'Fish
Meanwhile, Sony has officially announced the DVD (SLP $28.95) and
Blu-ray Disc (SLP $38.96) release of Rocky
Balboa on 3/20 as we expected. Extras will include audio
commentary with Sylvester Stallone, deleted scenes including an
alternate ending, boxing bloopers, and 3 featurettes (Skill
vs. Will: The Making of Rocky Balboa, Reality
in the Ring: Filming Rocky's Final Fight and Virtual
Champion: Creating the Computer Fight). All of the extras
will be in high-def on the Blu-ray version.
In addition, Sony has set Curse of the
Golden Flower for release on DVD on 3/27 (SLP $28.95). Extras
will include the Secrets Within
featurette and footage of the Los Angeles premiere. Blu-ray details will
Sony has also announced One Day at a Time:
The Complete First Season for release on 4/24, along with
Kidnapped: The Complete Series.
Also today, Buena Vista has officially set Deja
Vu for release on 4/24 (SRP $29.99). Extras will include The
Surveillance Window featurette, deleted scenes and more.
And Paramount will release the new live action Charlotte's
Web on 4/3.
A lot of you have asked about Universal's recently announced The
40-Year-Old Virgin: Unrated Special Edition, which streets on
DVD and HD-DVD on 5/22. Here's the deal: Yes, there was an Unrated
DVD released previously, but it was just a single disc. This is a new
2-disc DVD special edition. So presumably there are a lot of new extras.
According to Universal, the release will include "Hours
of Never-Before-Seen Bonus Features, such as All-New Hilarious Deleted
Scenes." So there you go.
In other news today, the latest Nielsen VideoScan numbers for Blu-ray
and HD-DVD are in. For the week ending 1/28, the data indicates that
Blu-ray is continuing to widen its software sales margin over HD-DVD,
both for 2007 and format(s) to date. Here's the latest chart scanned
from the new issue of Home Media Retailing
We'll leave you today with cover art for Sony's Rocky
Balboa, Fox's WKRP in Cincinnati
and Universal's Children of Men
(TBA for 3/27 - extras will include deleted scenes, featurettes and
Barrie's new column will follow later this evening (for tomorrow's
early post), so stay tuned...
Today's update will be brief, as we're working on content for next
week, and also doing some behind-the-scenes investigating of a few DVD
and HD-related stories.
But we do have one major bit of announcement news for you: Universal
has just announced the 2-disc DVD and single-disc HD-DVD release of The
40-Year-Old Virgin: Unrated Special Edition on 5/22. There's
no word yet on extras.
Around the site today, we've posted a brand
edition of Adam Jahnke's The Bottom Shelf, featuring
reviews of the EIGHT films in Anchor Bay's recent
Wim Wenders Collection DVD box set, which includes The
Scarlet Letter, Wrong Move,
The American Friend, A
Lightning Over Water, Room 666,
on Cities and Clothes and A Trick
of Light. Enjoy!
Don't forget that Sunday night is the long-awaited reunion of The
Police on the Grammy Awards. They're expected to open the show, and the
broadcast will be in HD and Dolby Digital 5.1 where available. Also
Sunday night, there's a new episode of Battlestar
Galactica. And for those of you who have been watching the CG
remastered Star Trek: The Original Series,
one of the show's best episodes, The Doomsday
Machine, arrives this weekend as well. You can see a preview
and some screen shots
Have a great weekend, and we'll see you back here on Monday with a new
column from Barrie Maxwell and much more. Stay tuned!
Are you guys ready to hit the road with Ponch and Jon? Yes, it's true:
CHiPs: The Complete First Season
has just been announced for release on 6/5 by Warner Home Video. The
6-disc set (SRP $39.98) will include all 22 first season episodes along
with the CHiPs: The Ride out of Spanish
Harlem featurette (featuring new interviews with star Erik
Estrada), as well as video introductions on selected episodes by
Estrada, who provides trivia and anecdotes. Hey Warner, here's some
suggestions for must-have extras on future seasons: bonus cop shades,
the Ponch's Little Black Book,
Whatever Happened to Seven Mary Three?: On
the Ranch with Larry Wilcox and How
to Play the CHiPs Theme on Electric Guitar featurettes and,
of course, Michael Dorn audio commentary on two episodes. 'Nuff said.
Also today, Koch Entertainment and Cinema Epoch will be releasing an
interesting Chinese silent film from 1927, Romance
of the Western Chamber, on 3/13 (SRP $19.98). The disc
features an original score by composer Toshiyuki Hiraoka.
A&E will release the original British Who's
Line Is It Anyway?: The Complete Seasons 1 & 2 on 3/27.
Also coming that day from A&E are The
History Channel's Engineering an Empire, Origins
of the Mafia, Shootout: Seasons 1 &
2, and a trio of new World Series
Highlights DVDs for The Detroit
Tigers: 1945, 1968 & 1984 Series, The
Anaheim Angels: 2002 Series and The
Toronto Blue Jays: 1992 & 1993 Series. And for you
Minnesota Twins fans, you'll be pleased to know that A&E and Major
League Baseball are releasing The Minnesota
Twins: 1987 World Series - Collector's Edition on 3/27 as
well, just in time for the series' 20th anniversary. The 7-disc set (SRP
$69.95) includes every game uncut and much more - over 17 hours of fun
in all. My only complaint is that I really want the 1991 Series against
the Braves. Guess we'll have to wait until 2011 for that. Ah well. Never
look a gift Series in the mouth.
In other news, BCI has set Happy Tree
Friends: Season One, Volume Two for release on 4/3 (SRP
$14.98). The disc includes 9 more episodes, audio commentary,
storyboards and more.
And Microcinema International has announced the release of five films
by indie filmmaker Su Friedrich on 3/27, including The
Ties That Bind, Damned if You
Don't, Sink or Swim,
Hide and Seek and The
Odds of Recovery.
Also, a quick reminder: Anchor Bay Entertainment just released the 1983
HBO special Eddie Murphy: Delirious
on DVD for the first time ever. All I can say is, thank god those first
cable boxes were so easy to hack. Weatherman Dave and I quickly figured
out how to get free HBO back in the day, and Murphy promptly blew our
enterprising 16-year-old minds with this special. Quick Flashback Quote:
"Your wife's a Bigfoot, isn't she?" Funny stuff.
Back tomorrow with a new column from Adam Jahnke! Stay tuned...
Afternoon, folks! We've got more news and other updates for you today.
First up, Universal has officially set the DVD and HD-DVD/DVD Combo
release of The Good Shepherd for
4/3. The DVD will be available in full frame and anamorphic widescreen
versions (SRP $29.98 each), while the HD-DVD/DVD Combo release will be
anamorphic widescreen (SRP $39.98). Both will include some 16 minutes
worth of deleted scenes among other extras (TBA).
Also today, Warner has announced What's New
Scooby-Doo?: The Complete Second Season for release on 6/5
(SRP $19.98) as a 2-disc set. Other titles newly announced by Warner
include Moral Orel: Volume One - The Unholy
Edition (4/24), an Eleanor &
Franklin Double Feature (5/1 - for HBO), Charlie
& Lola: Volume 4 (5/29 - for the BBC) and Waiting
for God: Series 2 (6/12 - also for the BBC).
Meanwhile, Fox has announced Copying
Beethoven for DVD release on 4/3, with The
Sandlot: Heading Home following on 5/1. By the way, Fox's 4/3
release of Bedazzled is the 1967
Stanley Donen version starring Dudley Moore.
Just a quick heads-up: Media Blasters' Zatoichi:
The Blind Swordsman - Volume Six is now in stores, completing
the release of the classic Japanese TV series' first season on DVD.
Let's hope for the second season to follow soon.
Also soon to be released are a trio of new horror titles from Anchor
Bay - Masters of Horror: Pelts
(2/13), The Devil's Den (also
2/13) and Night of the Living Dorks
Here's cover art for Zatoichi and
the last two...
We've got a quick update of
Rumor Mill for you today, with a few new street dates for
upcoming (TBA) releases. There's some major titles in there, so be sure
to check it out.
We've updated all of the DVD and HD format stats we track again today,
DVD Player Sales numbers for the first three weeks of January
2007. As you can see, we've added the VideoScan Blu-ray Disc vs. HD-DVD
Software Sales data to our home page (above)
Finally today, we've also done a bunch of archiving, and have added
more than FIFTY new disc reviews to our
archive, including DVD reviews from recent columns by our regular
staffers, as well as many music DVD reviews from our friends over at
MusicTAP. We've got
nearly 3,100 disc reviews here at The Bits
in all now.
We've got a few new announcements to report today. First, Universal has
announced Gangs of the Dead for
release on 5/1, followed by The Foursome
For you classic TV animation fans, Warner has officially announced Wait
Till Your Father Gets Home: The Complete First Season for
release on 6/5 (SRP $44.98).
Paramount has set Rawhide: The Second
Season, Volume One for release on 5/29. The
Andy Griffith Show: The Complete Series will be released as
an 8-season box set that day as well. Watch out for a Summer
School: Special Collector's Edition on 5/22 - yes, the Mark
Harmon film. The studio will also release a Grease:
We Go Together 2-Pack on 4/42, including both the Grease:
Rockin' Rydell Edition and Grease
2 in the same package.
And 20th Century Fox has just officially announced Turistas
for release on 4/17 on DVD (Unrated) and Blu-ray Disc.
Around the site today, we've kicked off FOUR new
giving each of you the chance to take home copies of Warner's
in the Rain,
Volume 3, and Anchor Bay's
Animated: Sword of Storms. All of these contests will run
until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, February 18th. Click on the links to get
started and good luck!
We've also updated all of the format stats we track (above),
DVD Player Sales numbers through the end of 2006.
Finally today, we've been informed by industry sources that the jump in
the HD-DVD numbers in the Nielsen VideoScan data we posted yesterday
(from Home Media Retailing) was
not due to an increase in HD-DVD sales, but rather because the HD-DVD
numbers up to that point did not include sales of HD-DVD/DVD Combo
Format discs. Those numbers have now been added into the data as of the
week ending 1/27. Just FYI.
Well folks, the year's Spidey blitz has officially begun. Sony has just
officially announced that a Spider-Man 2.1:
Extended Cut DVD will be released on 4/17 (SLP $19.94). The
2-disc set will include 8 minutes of new footage added back into the
film. Video will be anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.
Extras will include an introduction by producers Grant Curtis and Avi
Arad, the Inside 2.1 featurette,
audio commentary by producer Laura Ziskin and screenwriter Alvin
Sargent, and an exclusive sneak peak at the upcoming Spider-Man
3. There's no word yet on a Blu-ray Disc release. Here's a
look at the cover art, along with Paramount's To
Catch a Thief: Special Collector's Edition (5/8) and MGM's
re-issue of Solarbabies (TBA)...
Sony has also revealed that Volver
will street on 4/3, along with Attack of the
Gryphon, The King Maker,
the previously announced The Natural:
Director's Cut and a Blu-ray Disc release of Identity.
The Pursuit of Happiness has been
confirmed for release on 3/27, along with a new Warriors
of Heaven and Earth Blu-ray Disc. The
Holiday has also been confirmed for 3/20. Expect Blu-ray
versions of most (if not all) of the new release titles to be announced
at a later date.
In terms of new standard DVD announcements from Sony, look for National
Lampoon's Pucked, Not Just the
Best of The Larry Sanders Show (for HBO) and The
Marsh on 4/17. Not Just the Best
of The Larry Sanders Show is a 4-disc set (SRP $49.95) that
includes 23 episodes, The Making of The Larry
Sanders Show documentary, 10 featurettes, 8 exclusive
celebrity interviews (Personal, Intimate,
Indulgent Meetings With My Friends That Are Meant Only for Me to See),
deleted and extended scenes, alternate takes and audio commentary on 4
episodes by Garry Shandling and others.
Meanwhile, Warner has announced a 7-disc Roots:
30th Anniversary DVD release on 5/22 (SRP $59.98). Extras are
still TBA, but are expected to include audio commentary and
behind-the-scenes featurettes. We'll post more when it's available.
Also newly announced by New Line is Code
Name: The Cleaner for release on DVD on 4/24 (SRP $28.98).
In other news today, the latest unit sales data from Nielsen VideoScan
indicates that Blu-ray is continuing its software sales advantage over
HD-DVD. In the week ending 1/21, the data indicates that for every 100
Blu-ray Discs sold, just 50.51 HD-DVDs were sold - exactly a 2 to 1
margin. The HD-DVD numbers are up slightly from the previous week, which
seems to indicate that the numbers are sensitive to specific title
releases and other factors. Here's the latest chart scanned from the new
issue of Home Media Retailing
While we're talking high-definition, the HD-DVD Promotions Group caused
a stir recently when it added a number of Steven Spielberg titles to the
"coming soon" list on their HD-DVD promotional website,
including Jaws, E.T.
and the Jurassic Park films.
Apparently they were counting their chickens a little too soon. This
statement was just posted on their
"The inclusion in the January 29 update of
our "Coming Soon List" of three Steven Spielberg classics was
an error on our part. The HD DVD Promotion Group expresses sincere
apologies to Steven Spielberg, Universal Studios Home Entertainment and
HD DVD fans for this mistake. We will endeavor to prevent any similar
mistake and to provide accurate information."
We suspect that Spielberg is waiting until the format war is settled to
release his films on disc in HD, or that at the very least he's waiting
for a large enough number of high-def players to be available such that
his titles will be able to sell in significant numbers. You might recall
that both Spielberg and George Lucas followed much the same strategy
prior to releasing their biggest films on DVD. It's worth noting that
Spielberg's DreamWorks remains the sole remaining major studio not yet
committed to releasing titles in either HD format.
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