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-Newsletter est. 4/15/97-
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page updated: 3/13/07



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 3/2/07 - 2/5/07)


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3/2/07

We're pleased to kick off another Friday afternoon with Barrie's latest 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 Blue 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 here.

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, Phantasm, Phantasm III, Survival Quest, a Highlander Series: Best of the Best Box Set, Masters of Horror - Season Two: Family (John Landis), Noein: Volume Three and Kidnapped.

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...

The QueenDeadwood: The Complete Third SeasonMario 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, folks!

Stay tuned...

3/1/07

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 in 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 Episodes (5/11).

Now then... we promised you a big 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 (TBA)...

Chips: The Complete First SeasonA Darren Aronofsky Collection: Requiem for a Dream and PiSmokin' Aces

Is it just me, or does Larry Wilcox look a lot like Brett Farve on that Chips cover? HHhmmmm...

Stay tuned!

2/28/07

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 Confidential.

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 on 6/19.

Speaking of Warner, we thought you might like a quick rundown of the best news from their chat with HTF on Monday night. There's a 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...

VolverLittle ChildrenNotes on a Scandal

Back tomorrow with a big Rumor Mill update! Stay tuned...

2/27/07

Morning, everyone! As promised, we're very pleased today to bring to the 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 6/12.

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 here 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).

Stay tuned...

2/26/07

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 Oscar.com.

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 $26.99).

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 here at Video Business.

Meanwhile, here's that Nielsen VideoScan data we promised you on Friday from 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.

Neilsen VideoScan - Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD

Around the site today, we've kicked off THREE new Contests, giving each of you the chance to take home copies of Warner's Alexander Revisited: The Final Cut, For Your Consideration, Infamous and Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo, the BBC's Hustle: Season 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 luck!

Finally today, Adam has turned in a new edition of The Bottom Shelf, in which he reviews a trio of new horror titles on DVD including Anchor Bay's Masters of Horror: Pelts and Night of the Living Dorks, as well as Tartan's Sheitan. Enjoy!

Don't forget, our friends at the 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!

Stay tuned...

2/23/07

News from the underground...

First up today, our friends at the 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 yet again.

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 The 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.

Finally today, there's 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)...

Fail SafeWW II Collection: Volume 2 - Heroes Fight for FreedomNight at the Museum

Back on Monday with news, a new Barrie Maxwell column and more.

Stay tuned!

2/21/07

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, Unrest, Penny 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 $29.98).

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.

Stay tuned...

2/20/07

Afternoon, folks! As expected, we're very pleased today to present you with our own Adam Jahnke's latest edition of The Bottom Shelf, in which he reviews a pair of documentaries on DVD, including Sony's American Hardcore and Magnolia's Cocaine Cowboys. Adam also has a 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 out.

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 Other Adventures.

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 DVD-ROM.

One more completely unrelated but interesting note today: Satellite radio providers XM 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)......

Mission: Impossible - The Second TV SeasonJason of Star Command: The Complete SeriesTideland: 2-Disc Collector's Edition

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... ;)

Stay tuned!

2/19/07

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 you.

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 Home 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 formats).

Neilsen VideoScan - Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD

By the way, I've still been getting TONS of e-mail about my format war editorials from last week (click here and here, 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: Robert 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!

Stay tuned...

2/16/07

Well... as expected, I've received a flood of e-mails over the last day or so in response to my 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
(818) 777-4400
Studio website - E-mail 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 theatrical trailers.

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 has 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 Window.

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 theatrical trailer.

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...

The Last King of ScotlandArmy of Shadows (Criterion)The Third Man (Criterion)

Alright... that's enough for this week. We'll be back on Monday with a whole buncha Jahnke.

Stay tuned!

2/15/07

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 Scarlett, Undercurrent 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, Dodgeball, Commando, The Thomas Crown Affair and Dances with Wolves from March, and Tristan & Isolde, Dude Where's My Car?, The Fly, Turistas, Hannibal, Silence 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). Next 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.

Meanwhile, Newsweek 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 InfoWorld and here at engadget.

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 here.

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.

Stay tuned...

2/13/07

As promised, we're pleased this morning to bring you Barrie Maxwell's latest installment of High-Definition Classics and Beyond! In this edition, Barrie runs down his picks for the best HD-DVDs of 2006, and reviews 10 HD-DVD titles, including Warner's Casablanca, Mutiny on the Bounty and Forbidden Planet, Universal's Spartacus, Casino, Field of Dreams, The Interpreter and King Kong, and Paramount's Black Rain and World 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 trailers.

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 Vu (4/24)...

EragonCurse of the Golden FlowerThe Natural: Director's Cut

The Pursuit of HappinessNot Just the Best of The Larry Sanders ShowDeja Vu

Stay tuned...

2/12/07

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 official tour 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 Story' Story).

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 follow.

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 (available here online):

Neilsen VideoScan - Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD

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 more)...

Rocky BalboaWKRP in CincinnatiChildren of Men

Barrie's new column will follow later this evening (for tomorrow's early post), so stay tuned...

2/9/07

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 new edition of Adam Jahnke's The Bottom Shelf, featuring reviews of the EIGHT films in Anchor Bay's recent The Wim Wenders Collection DVD box set, which includes The Scarlet Letter, Wrong Move, The American Friend, A Lightning Over Water, Room 666, Tokyo-Ga, Notebook 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 here.

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!

2/8/07

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...

2/7/07

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 (2/20).

Here's cover art for Zatoichi and the last two...

Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman - Volume SixThe Devil's DenNight of the Living Dorks

We've got a quick update of The 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, including the CEA 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) as well.

Finally today, we've also done a bunch of archiving, and have added more than FIFTY new disc reviews to our Reviews 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.

Stay tuned...

2/6/07

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 on 5/29.

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 Contests, giving each of you the chance to take home copies of Warner's Crossing Delancey, Miracle in the Rain, The Clock and Gymkata, Manga's Tactics: Volume 3, and Anchor Bay's Hellboy 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), including the CEA 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.

Stay tuned...

2/5/07

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)...

Spider-Man 2.1: Extended CutTo Catch a Thief: Special Collector's EditionSolarbabies

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 (available here online):

VideoScan HD software sales data

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 group website:

"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.

Stay tuned...


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