-Website est. 12/15/97-
(Archived Posts 2/20/08 - 2/8/08)
to Previous Archives
to Current Posts
Okay, 20th Century Fox has just announced that the DVD and Blu-ray
Disc release of Juno are due
on 4/15. The single-disc DVD (SRP $29.98) will include audio
commentary by director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody,
11 deleted scenes, a gag reel, a "gag take", screen tests
and a "cast & crew jam". The 2-disc DVD special
edition ($34.98) will include all of the above, along with Digital
Copy and 4 featurettes (Way Beyond Our
Maturity Level: Juno - Leah - Bleeker, Diablo
Cody Is Totally Boss, Jason
Reitman for Shizz and Honest
to Blog! Creating Juno). The 50GB Blu-ray Disc ($39.98)
will also include Digital Copy and all of the above, along with the
Fox Movie Channel Presents: World
Premiere - Juno and Fox Movie
Channel Presents: Casting Session - Juno featurettes. The
Blu-ray video will be AVC with English 5.1 DTS HD Lossless Master
Also newly announced by Fox is The
Savages, due on DVD on 4/22.
Meanwhile this morning, Warner has set Sublime:
Uncut (Raw Feed) and Thieves
and Liars (Lightyear) for release on 4/22, with Inside
the Vietnam War (National Geographic) following on 4/29,
Botched: Uncut on 5/13, Absolutely
Fabulous: Absolutely Everything and The
Buddha of Suburbia (both BBC) due on 5/27, CHiPs:
The Complete Second Season due 6/3, Sea
Monsters (National Geographic) and The
Dukes of Hazzard TV Double Feature (includes The
Dukes of Hazzard: Reunion! and The
Dukes of Hazzard: Hazzard in Hollywood) due 6/10, and
finally Ganges (BBC - Blu-ray
and DVD) on 7/1.
Speaking of Warner, our very own Barrie Maxwell chimes in today
with this little gem of a news nugget for you classic film fans:
Warner Bros. has Quo Vadis in
the lab now and a 2008 release is planned, most likely in the fourth
quarter. Raintree County is
less certain as to timing as the studio is intent on releasing the
road show version. To that end, it has involved dealing with a
collector's print and marrying various portions to Warners' master.
The studio continues to look for even better elements, so at this
time it is impossible to gage the release date. A BD release for
these titles cannot yet be confirmed, but it is Warners' intention
to release as many special editions day and date SD and BD as
Both of these titles are examples of the imprecise timeline that
bringing classic titles to market is subject to. Warners has tried
to be candid about their release plans and sometimes it's been to
the studio's detriment as classic enthusiasts get wedded to a
specific release year or quarter that the studio has mentioned in a
chat and then are upset when a particular title doesn't appear. Such
changes are due to any number of things including legal issues,
imprecise restoration and remastering timelines, element
surprises/availability, market opportunities, and so on. Classic
fans should be aware that the studio is intent in bringing the many
classic titles that they are looking for to the market as quickly as
it can and in a condition that fans will be happy with.
Warners has also confirmed that they are working on This
Is the Army right at this time. Quite a bit of work is
needed, however, so release timing is not possible to tell at
Thanks, Barrie! We get a lot of questions about these titles, so
it's good to know what's happening.
In other release news today, Sony has set Hero
Wanted for DVD on 4/29.
And Universal has set Big Rig
for DVD on 6/3.
By the way, Paramount has now pulled those Indiana
Jones: Special Editions we mentioned yesterday from their
online press website (due 5/13), along with Jericho:
The Second Season (6/10), so we're guessing the studio
wasn't ready for the news to leak yet. Oh well. You know they're
coming. We'll keep you updated as official details are released.
Here's some new cover art for you to check out... Fox's single and
2-Disc versions of Juno,
Genius Products/The Weinstein Company's The
Mist: 2-Disc Collector's Edition (3/25), Buena Vista's
The Muppet Show: Season Three
(5/20), Fox's Lars and the Real Girl
(4/15) and Paramount's 2-Disc Sweeney
Todd: Special Edition (4/1)...
Here Be High-Def Dragons...
We've got just a few things to report this morning on the high-def
is reporting (registration required) that Onkyo is following
Toshiba's lead and will no longer produce HD-DVD players. They're
expected to announce as much in the next few days.
is also reporting that the falling price of HD-DVD recorders
and failing Hollywood studio support are what led Toshiba to pull
the plug on the format. From the piece:
The U.S. movie industry wished to end the
format war as soon as possible. DVD software accounted for 44% of
movie-related income at six major studios in 2006. But the following
year, the proportion of next-generation DVD software came to just 1%
as consumers stayed on the sidelines to see how the format war
Nevertheless, the Sony camp will continue to face downward pressure
on prices even after the end of the format war, which has set the
stage for next-generation DVDs to gain momentum. In this sense, the
Hollywood studios appear to be the real victors.
The Blu-ray Disc camp DEFINITELY needs to keep prices going down on
both players and software in order to get mainstream consumers to
jump in with the format. Ideally, there should be at least a few
entry level players priced at $299 or better by Christmas. And
profile 2.0 support needs to become mandatory and industry wide to
end profile/feature confusion. Wouldn't hurt for studios to lower
the SRP of movie software $5 either.
In other high-def news,
is holding a blow-out sale on all of their existing HD-DVD
titles - they're now just $6.95 each (or you can get all 7 for
As you might have guessed, there's still no official word yet from
Paramount about Blu-ray and HD-DVD, but then they're probably
talking to DreamWorks and CBS and whatnot, so these things take
(LATE UPDATE -
2/19/08 - 1:30 PM PST)
Business now has a report up on the Toshiba/Universal news
today, and there's a couple new bits of information.
First, Warner has said that there are currently no changes planned
in its release schedule as a result of Toshiba's decision. The
studio will continue releasing HD-DVD titles until May.
Also, Toshiba has said that it will continue to provide "ongoing
product support and after sales service" for those with HD-DVD
players via this phone number: 1-888-MY HDDVD (1-888-694-3383).
Finally, the Blu-ray camp has issued a number of statements today.
Here's the BDA's comment:
"We in the Blu-ray Disc Association are
very happy that this long format war is officially over. Now the
task ahead for our member companies is to promote the Blu-ray Disc
format as the best way to bring premier quality high-definition
content into consumers lives." - Andy Parsons,
Blu-ray Disc Association U.S. Promotions Committee chairman and
Pioneer Electronics senior VP
Here is Sony's official statement:
"Overwhelming support from all the
relevant industries, including Hollywood studios, consumer
electronics and IT companies, retailers and video rental stores, is
clear proof that consumers have chosen Blu-ray as the
next-generation optical disc format. We believe that a single format
will benefit both consumers and the industry and will accelerate the
expansion of the market."
And here's the Entertainment Merchants Association statement:
"Now that consumer confusion concerning
dueling formats has ended, it is time for suppliers and retailers to
redouble their efforts to bring home the message that Blu-ray discs
deliver the finest viewing experience for the world's best
entertainment. It is critically important for all content companies
to deliver their best new releases and their rich catalog slates to
the market in Blu-ray strategically. We believe there is pent up
demand for high-definition optical discs in thousands of
applications." - Bo Andersen, EMA president
(EARLY UPDATE -
2/19/08 - 11:30 AM PST)
We interrupt our end of the format war coverage for some DVD news
for you good standard-definition folk. And very patient folk today
too, we might add.
Genius Product and The Weinstein Company have announced the DVD
release of a The Mist: 2-Disc Collector's
Edition for release on 3/25.
Buena Vista has set The Muppet Show:
Season Three for release on 5/20 as a 4-disc set. Look
for Fozzie Bear on the cover.
In what may be the fastest theatrical run ever, Liberation has
revealed that Paris Hilton's The Hottie
and the Nottie will hit DVD on 5/6. Look for Fozzie Bear
on the cover. No, just kidding. That's an insult to Fozzie.
MGM has set Lars and the Real Girl
for release on DVD on 4/15. Extras will include 2 featurettes and a
Sony has set Loch Ness Terror
for DVD release on 4/14, with Hero Wanted
following on 4/29.
Warner has just announced that their first Raw Feed title to arrive
in high-def streets on 4/22 on Blu-ray and 5/13 on HD-DVD... Sublime:
Uncut Version. FYI, we've asked Warner if Toshiba's
announcement will impact their plans to continue releasing HD-DVD
titles until the end of May. We'll let you know when they get back
to us on it.
And Paramount has also just announced Sweeney
Todd for release on single-disc DVD, 2-disc DVD and
2-disc HD-DVD on 4/1, followed by There
Will Be Blood also on single-disc DVD, 2-disc DVD and
2-disc HD-DVD on 4/8. The studio has also set American
Gangster: The Complete Second Season, Mannix:
The First Season and My Three
Sons: Season One, Volume One for DVD release on 6/3,
followed by Boys in the Band,
Comedy Central's Home Grown,
Comedy Central's TV Funhouse,
Jericho: The Second Season,
The Fugitive: Season Two, Volume One
and The Odd Couple: The Fourth Season
on 6/10. Paramount has also announced the Indiana
Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark: Special Edition,
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom:
Special Edition and Indiana
Jones and the Last Crusade: Special Edition for DVD
release on 5/13.
It also remains to be seen how Toshiba's announcement will affect
Paramount's HD-DVD title plans. We do expect some kind of Blu-ray
announcement very soon from Paramount, so be sure to check back
(EARLY UPDATE -
2/19/08 - 10:30 AM PST)
Well... now there's only ONE major Hollywood studio left
uncommitted to Blu-ray Disc. And the surprise is, it ISN'T
Universal. That's because Universal has just announced that they've
already begun preparing Blu-ray Disc releases. Uni's Craig Kornblau
has this to say this morning, according to
While Universal values the close
partnership we have shared with Toshiba, it is time to turn our
focus to releasing new and catalog titles on Blu-ray, said
Craig Kornblau, president of Universal Studios Home Entertainment.
The path for widespread adoption of the
next-generation platform has finally become clear, Kornblau
said. Universal will continue its aggressive efforts to
broaden awareness for high-def's unparalleled offerings in
interactivity and connectivity, at an increasingly affordable price.
The emergence of a single, high-definition format is cause for
consumers, as well as the entire entertainment industry, to
Amen, brother. Glad you've seen the light.
Okay, Paramount. Your turn.
One other note this morning: Our own Russell Hammond has, per
usual, updated the
DVD Cover Art section with all the latest DVD and Blu-ray
cover art, as well as Amazon pre-order links. We expect there may be
a few HD-DVD deals in there as well. As always, when you order
anything through our links, it goes to support our efforts here at
The Bits and we certainly
(EARLY UPDATE -
2/19/08 - 12:01 AM PST)
It's official. It's over. At a press conference with reporters just
moments ago at the company's Tokyo office, Toshiba president
Atsutoshi Nishida waved the white flag, confirming that his company
is shutting down its HD-DVD operations. Here's the
press release (also available
Toshiba Announces Discontinuation of HD
Company Remains Focused on Championing Consumer Access to High
TOKYO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Toshiba Corporation today announced that it
has undertaken a thorough review of its overall strategy for HD DVD
and has decided it will no longer develop, manufacture and market HD
DVD players and recorders. This decision has been made following
recent major changes in the market. Toshiba will continue, however,
to provide full product support and after-sales service for all
owners of Toshiba HD DVD products.
HD DVD was developed to offer consumers access at an affordable
price to high-quality, high definition content and prepare them for
the digital convergence of tomorrow where the fusion of consumer
electronics and IT will continue to progress.
We carefully assessed the long-term impact of continuing the
so-called 'next-generation format war' and concluded that a swift
decision will best help the market develop, said Atsutoshi
Nishida, President and CEO of Toshiba Corporation. "While we
are disappointed for the company and more importantly, for the
consumer, the real mass market opportunity for high definition
content remains untapped and Toshiba is both able and determined to
use our talent, technology and intellectual property to make digital
convergence a reality.
Toshiba will continue to lead innovation, in a wide range of
technologies that will drive mass market access to high definition
content. These include high capacity NAND flash memory, small form
factor hard disk drives, next generation CPUs, visual processing,
and wireless and encryption technologies. The company expects to
make forthcoming announcements around strategic progress in these
Toshiba will begin to reduce shipments of HD DVD players and
recorders to retail channels, aiming for cessation of these
businesses by the end of March 2008. Toshiba also plans to end
volume production of HD DVD disk drives for such applications as PCs
and games in the same timeframe, yet will continue to make efforts
to meet customer requirements. The company will continue to assess
the position of notebook PCs with integrated HD DVD drives within
the overall PC business relative to future market demand.
This decision will not impact on Toshibas commitment to
standard DVD, and the company will continue to market conventional
DVD players and recorders. Toshiba intends to continue to contribute
to the development of the DVD industry, as a member of the DVD
Forum, an international organization with some 200 member companies,
committed to the discussion and defining of optimum optical disc
formats for the consumer and the related industries.
Toshiba also intends to maintain collaborative relations with the
companies who joined with Toshiba in working to build up the HD DVD
market, including Universal Studios, Paramount Pictures, and
DreamWorks Animation and major Japanese and European content
providers on the entertainment side, as well as leaders in the IT
industry, including Microsoft, Intel, and HP. Toshiba will study
possible collaboration with these companies for future business
opportunities, utilizing the many assets generated through the
development of HD DVD.
We'll have additional details as they come in.
being reported by Nikkei this morning (registration
required) that some Toshiba executives actually considered suing
Warner last month in response to what they considered the studio's
betrayal. However (according to the article text):
But the firm realized that such action was
impossible "without preparing for the worst, considering
Hollywood's overwhelming influence on the U.S. industry," said
one executive. America is Toshiba's main market for core operations
like computer chips and nuclear power. A misstep there could easily
cost a huge amount of business.
The piece also confirmed that as early as February 4th, Paramount
was still willing to stick with Toshiba and HD-DVD, but a
"sense of crisis grew" at
Toshiba nonetheless. From the text:
In visits to U.S. firms in the HD-DVD camp
and listening to what was being said between the lines, the
executive sensed that things had changed.
Not surprisingly, the position now being adopted by at least one
company executive is that "The new
generation of DVD will be short-lived. There will be no winner."
We imagine that said exec would be singing a slightly different tune
were Toshiba in Sony's position this morning. In any case, now that
HD-DVD is done, one would expect that Paramount, DreamWorks and
Universal will announce their official changes of heart soon.
Oh, by the way...
Castro also just resigned as president of Cuba. No, seriously.
I'm not kidding. Busy day.
(LATE UPDATE -
2/18/08 - 4 PM PST)
Japanese news site
has just announced that Toshiba's plan is to immediately stop
manufacturing all HD-DVD products (both players and recorders), and
to stop selling them at end of March. The official announcement will
happen at the press conference set for 5 PM Tokyo time. We'll be
back with Toshiba's official statement as soon as it comes in.
Thanks to Keiko S. for the translation and links. Stay tuned...
(LATE UPDATE -
2/18/08 - 3:30 PM PST)
Okay... things are moving very fast now. Industry sources are
telling us that Toshiba has a press event scheduled for tomorrow
afternoon (Tuesday 5 PM Tokyo time), at which they're expected to
make the announcement that they're quitting the HD-DVD format.
That's just 8 1/2 hours from now. Rumor is that hardware and
software sales will be discontinued in early March, but we expect
official details soon. We'll post more on this as it comes in.
Also, we haven't confirmed this with the studio yet, but it seems
War Central is reporting that a Technicolor insider has
informed them that work has stopped on CBS and Paramount's Star
Trek: The Original Series Remastered - Season Two HD-DVD
release. They're saying that Toshiba was financing the production as
part of an exclusive arrangement to have the title on HD-DVD only,
and they've now pulled the plug.
We expect that Paramount and Universal may have official comments
of their own as early as tomorrow morning.
In the meantime, be sure to check back with us this evening for
Toshiba's official press release as soon as it hits the wires. Stay
(LATE UPDATE -
2/18/08 - 11:45 AM PST)
As promised, we're back this morning with a brand new
Coming Attractions column from our own Barrie Maxwell. In
this latest installment, Barrie reviews a number of classic titles,
including 20th Century Fox's
Chan Collection: Volume 4, MGM's
Apartment: Collector's Edition and
the Heat of the Night: 40th Anniversary Edition,
of Television, Universal's
of Life: Two-Movie Special Edition and VCI's
G-Men of the Air. He also reviews a trio of new western
titles, including Warner's
Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,
Moon. Barrie runs down the latest classic release
announcement as well, and he's updated both the
release databases too. There's something for everyone, so do check
it out. Enjoy!
Meanwhile, Reuters has posted a few more stories on Toshiba's
impending exit of HD-DVD over the last few hours (click
has a new story up as well on the positive financial industry
reaction to Toshiba's plans.
Media are now also covering the story (both pieces feature
a bit of Microsoft reaction to the news, specifically how the
fallout might affect their Xbox 360 sales... or not).
(EARLY UPDATE -
2/18/08 - 12:01 AM PST)
Okay... here's an early morning update with the latest news, and
there are a few new pieces of information.
is now reporting 1) that the publication has confirmed today
(Monday) with Toshiba that they're considering bowing out of the
next-generation videodisc business, and that 2) the news has "met
with approval from analysts and investors". And in what may be
a bit of a silver lining in all this, Toshiba shares have apparently
surged 5.9% on the news so far in afternoon trading today in Tokyo.
From the text:
Cutting its losses on HD DVD could boost
Toshiba's operating profit by 20% in the next fiscal year, Nikko
Citigroup analyst Hiroyuki Masuko said Monday. He raised his rating
on the stock to "buy" from "neutral."
Wall Street Journal is reporting that the announcement
will likely happen "early this week." Here's a key new
piece of information found in the WSJ
If Toshiba withdraws from the HD DVD
business, Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures and General Electric
Co.'s Universal Pictures, both of which support the format
exclusively, would be immediately released from their commitments,
one of the people familiar with the situation said. Warner Bros.,
which is obligated to sell HD DVD movies through May under its
contract, would also be freed from those terms. All three studios
couldn't be immediately reached for comment.
We do, however, expect some kind of official statement from these
studios in the next few days. Also reported in the WSJ
Toshiba will likely continue to provide
customer support for HD DVD players that it has sold, but it had no
compensation plans in mind for consumers who have already purchased
The folks over at
technica have some interesting new information on this
today as well, including word that Toshiba's decision to bring an
end to HD-DVD was in the works BEFORE the Netflix, Best Buy and
Wal-Mart announcements last week, and that those companies were
aware of the plans when they made their announcements.
Obviously, this is going to be the major topic of discussion in the
industry over the next few days, so we ask your patience as we (and
assuredly many others) follow new developments as they unfold.
We'll be back later this morning with any additional breaking news,
as well as Barrie's new column. Stay tuned...
Just a quick update... CNBC
is now confirming NHK's story (from
morning) that Toshiba is planning to pull out of the HD-DVD
business. Here's the relevant text:
A source at Toshiba confirmed an earlier
report by public broadcaster NHK that it was getting ready to pull
the plug. "We have entered the final stage of planning to make
our exit from the next generation DVD business," said the
source, who asked not to be identified. He added that an official
announcement could come as early as next week.
Additional reporting in the Japanese media suggests that Toshiba
management is considering three options this week: 1) Continue
selling HD-DVD players but stop manufacturing recorders, 2) Abandon
the U.S. and Japanese markets and concentrate on Europe, and 3) Pull
the plug on HD-DVD completely in all markets. Multiple industry
sources are now telling The Bits
that the third option is almost certainly the one Toshiba will take
in order to cut their losses. An official press conference is
expected likely within a week.
Reaction around the Net from enthusiasts is about what you'd
expect. We've gotten a lot of e-mails over the last couple of days,
and most people seem as glad as we are that the format war is
finally over. A couple people (who one can only assume didn't heed
our advice on the matter) e-mailed the usual knee-jerk "F--k
you! Your site sucks!" One of them less than politely suggested
that we'd "obviously sold our journalistic integrity to Sony."
Given how many pay-offs HAVE happened in this format war, I suppose
one shouldn't be surprised that some see such things everywhere they
As it happens, here's what integrity means according to Merriam
Webster: "Firm adherence to a code of especially moral or
artistic values." And here's a code that's of particular
importance to us here at The Bits:
We have always sought to stand up for what we believe are the best
interests of the majority of our readers.
Hey... this format war was forced on us all by the CE industry. We
said from the very start that it was going to divide enthusiasts and
really be all around generally unpleasant. But make no mistake...
the result of it was ALWAYS going to be that one of these formats
would eventually fold like a cheap suit, or they both would. It was
just a matter of time. Once both of these formats launched and were
proven to deliver basically an equally good quality A/V experience,
we here at The Bits wanted to
make sure that our readers weren't going to get stuck with the new
Betamax. So we carefully considered all the facts, and called things
the way we saw them. We advised people to sit on the sidelines until
it was all over, but also said that Blu-ray was ultimately the
better bet in our opinion. Eventually, when things started to get
silly, we just finally backed Blu-ray officially. You can be sure
that those Bits readers who
listened to us are today very glad they did. And for those who
purchased HD-DVD instead, well... you can't say we didn't warn you.
We certainly did our best. We really honestly did.
Has it been irritating and tiresome at times? Absolutely. Have we
been a little overbearing on occasion? Yeah, probably. Not on
purpose, but when you believe in something strongly as we do, it can
happen. And we certainly believe in trying to watch out for our
readers. The simple fact is, we've now called not one but TWO format
wars right on behalf of our readers, and we did so not at the 11th
hour but early on, even when it wasn't always a popular thing to do.
We examined all the facts, logically weighed the case for both
sides, and ultimately used our best judgement to make the call. Then
we stood by it, continuing to monitor and assess all the facts,
staking our own good name and reputation on it. Turns out we were
right. Both times. That's two for two.
So if a few people think we "suck" for giving our best
advice in this format war to our readers, well... that's a shame,
but I think we can live with it. I suspect our readers can certainly
live with it. What's that they say? The proof of the pudding is in
the eating? Well, the waiters are bringing it around to your tables
now. You decide.
Tell you what WOULD really suck - having to go three for three.
Let's hope Hollywood and the CE industry have learned their lessons
from this thing. One format war per decade is more than enough,
thank you very much. Thankfully, we can all very soon get back to
just talking about great movies on DVD and now, obviously, on
Blu-ray. 'Cause we're as sick of this format war as you are, believe
me. You have no idea. So hang in there... shouldn't be much longer
Back tomorrow morning with Barrie's new Classic
Coming Attractions column... and yeah, I suspect a little
more breaking news too. Stay tuned...
(ORIGINALLY POSTED 11:30 AM PST - UPDATED 1:30 PM PST)
There's MAJOR breaking news today in the high-def format war:
is reporting that Toshiba has decided to exit the HD-DVD
business. The company has apparently stopped further HD-DVD
development and will close its factories in Aomori Prefecture, in
has picked up this story as well, and you'll find it
at Yahoo news and elsewhere. It was also being widely reported
in the evening news across Japan last night.
According what we've been able to gather from various stories in
the Japanese press (here,
Toshiba management was meeting very soon anyway (probably next week)
to officially pull the plug, but the timetable may have been moved
up given last week's retailer announcements. Someone at Toshiba HQ
apparently leaked the information to the Japanese media Saturday
afternoon (Tokyo time) and the thought is that leaking it early will
make it easier for the company to make an official announcement,
possibly as soon as Monday (thanks to Keiko S. for the links and
All that's left now IS for Toshiba to make an official statement,
followed (or perhaps preceded) by long-awaited announcements of
Blu-ray Disc support from Universal and Paramount, which we now
expect very soon. Word is that Paramount will be able to quickly
shift gears back to Blu-ray, as they already have experience working
with the format (and some unreleased BD titles have already been
replicated - think the titles that were cancelled last year at the
last minute when the studio abandoned Blu-ray - or at least have
finished masters ready for replication). Universal on the other
hand, will take longer to ramp up, as they're at least two years
behind the other Hollywood studios in working with the format
(though one would expect the BDA to provide them help in getting up
to speed as quickly as possible).
On that note, we've suddenly begun hearing from multiple retail
sources that new Paramount Blu-ray titles have just begin appearing
in their inventory software as "on order" or "available
for pre-order," including Blades of
Glory and (apparently) Transformers.
Yes, you read that right. We have yet to officially confirm this,
but we're working to get more information on it. For the record, I
was unable to get a response from Paramount on Friday (they seem to
be in a bit of a media "lockdown" mode at the moment -
which is probably no surprise given last week's events).
By the way,
New York Times has a new story up on last week's news, but
it was written BEFORE today's breaking news.
This is it folks. This thing was messy and costly and, in many of
the online enthusiast forums, at times mean-spirited and downright
bloody. But it's OVER. And as far as we're concerned here at The
Bits... IT'S ABOUT DAMN TIME!!!
Pardon the French (and the pun), but damn. TWO YEARS of this
We'll bring you more as it comes in. Stay tuned...
(LATE UPDATE -
2/15/08 - 3 PM PST)
Here's a pair of new DVD reviews for you: Peter Schorn has checked
in with his thoughts on Warner's
Also today, we've kicked off THREE new
giving each of you the chance to take home copies of Fox's
Placid 2: Unrated and
Comebacks: Unrated on DVD, along with THQ's
All Humans! Big Willy Unleashed videogame for the Nintendo
Wii! Entries will be accepted until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday,
February 24th. Click on the links to get started and good luck!
Here Be High-Def You Know What...
We've got just a few more high-def notes today, unless there's
still more breaking news...
is reporting that J.D. Power and Associates and Market Force
Information have recently completed a secret shopper survey of
retail salespeople across the country, and found that 9 out of 10 of
them are strongly recommending Blu-ray to their customers over
HD-DVD. We had a feeling after the Warner announcement that
retailers would start calling this format war for Blu-ray (click
for our comments on the subject at the time), but we didn't expect
it to happen quite so quickly. Nevertheless, it's clearly happening.
On that note, more media reports on the Wal-Mart news are coming
in, including MSNBC,
And here's something that's perhaps even more telling in terms of
what Toshiba is planning: It seems that the company may have started
denying fulfillment of their "five free disc" offers. Bits
reader Greg M., who has purchased players on both high-def formats,
sent us this e-mail this afternoon:
"I received a letter back from the
Toshiba fulfillment house denying my five free discs. They stated
that my invoice was not within the time period of the offer. My
invoice from Amazon.com was dated Dec 9th, 2007, clearly within the
Oct 1, 2007 to Feb 28, 2008 range they gave on their offer flyer.
What is more insidious is the invoice I sent them and they sent back
to me was marked up with a ballpoint pen to cross out the date. When
I called them at 800-405-7520 to try to get some understanding of
why my five free disc offer was rejected... I was informed that I
would have to resubmit it. I told them to go &*%$ *%$ I do not
have time for their petty games."
Oh my. Finally, to top it all off this week, the Blu-ray Disc
Association has just issued this statement:
"Retailers have a tremendous impact on
consumer preferences, and as the world's largest retailer,
Wal-Mart's reach and leadership are unparalleled. Their decision to
support only Blu-ray, particularly in light of the string of similar
announcements from the content and retail communities over the last
six weeks, seems to us to be a very clear statement that Blu-ray
Disc has emerged as the format of choice for high definition home
entertainment." - Andy Parsons, chairman, Blu-ray Disc
Association US Promotions Committee.
It's been quite a week. The simple fact is, this format war is
over. It doesn't matter what Toshiba does now, Blu-ray has been
chosen by mainstream retailers as THE next-generation high-def disc
format. It's almost unprecedented - I can't remember the last time
the retail community weighed in this publicly on a format war, in so
short a span of time. I don't even recall retailer reaction being
this swift back when standard DVD banished Divx a decade ago. What
this means is that Paramount and Universal now have no choice but to
make Blu-ray Disc support announcements of their own and soon, as
they're currently backing a format that retailers will no longer
carry. As such, you can expect those announcements VERY soon, almost
certainly in the next few weeks. Frankly, we'd be surprised if the
final scene of this messy opus took longer than the end of March to
play out. Will anyone out there be as glad as we'll be to stop
talking about this silly format war? Good grief. Almost there,
Anyway, we'll be back on Monday with a new column from Barrie
Maxwell. Until then, stay tuned...
(LATE UPDATE -
2/15/08 - 12:45 PM PST)
Okay... now that this format war mess is nearly done, let's get
back to the business of posting reviews and covering release news.
Release news first... Sony has just set First
Knight for DVD and Blu-ray Disc release on 4/29 (SRP
$28.95 for the Blu-ray, $19.94 for DVD). The discs will include
audio commentary with director Jerry Zucker and producer Hunt Lowry,
a second Arthurian Legend
commentary track and 3 featurettes (The
Quest for Camelot, In Shining
Armor and The Creation of a
Kingdom), along with deleted scenes and outtakes.
Meanwhile, Lionsgate's April release slate has just been announced.
Look for Christie's Revenge
and My Training Methods: Alex Kovalev
on 4/1, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:
Season 6 on 4/6, Retribution,
The Backwoods and The
Minus Man on 4/15, Séance
and Starting Out in the Evening
on 4/22, and Knock Knock, Angelique:
The Complete 5-Film Collection (includes Angelique,
Angelique: Road to Versailles,
Angelique and the King, Untamable
Angelique and Angelique and
the Sultan), Dead Man's Bounty,
Harlequin Triple Feature: Volume Three
(includes A Change of Place,
The Waiting Game and Diamond
Girl) and Harlequin Triple
Feature: Volume Four (includes The
Awakening, Broken Lullaby
and Loving Evangeline) on
4/29. Blu-ray titles are TBA.
Universal has delayed the DVD release of Transformation:
The Life and Legacy of Werner Erhard, which had been set
for 5/13. A new street date has not been confirmed.
And finally, BCI Entertainment will release ABC's Day
Break on DVD on 3/11 (SRP $39.98). The 4-disc set will
include all 13 episodes (only 6 of which were aired originally) as
well as cast and crew commentaries and interviews.
Here's a little bit more new cover art... Sony's The
Water Horse: Legend of the Deep on DVD and Blu-ray (due
4/8), and MGM's The Pink Panther and
Friends: Classic Cartoon Collection, Volume 6 - The Inspector
Back with reviews in a bit. Stay tuned...
(STILL EARLY UPDATE -
2/15/08 - 11:30 AM PST)
Here's Wal-Mart's press release:
Wal-Mart Moving Exclusively Toward Blu-ray
Format Movies and Players
Bentonville, Ark., Feb. 15, 2008 - Wal-Mart Stores, U.S. today
announces that its 4,000 Wal-Mart and Sams Club stores will
move forward this year with one hi-definition movie and hardware
format: Blu-ray. The change will take place quickly over the next
several months whereby the retailer will phase out HD DVD offerings
and reorganize shelf space. By June, Wal-Mart stores, Sam's Clubs,
www.walmart.com and www.samsclub.com will offer only Blu-ray movies
and hardware machines, as well as standard definition movies and DVD
players, and up converts.
"We've listened to our customers, who are showing a clear
preference toward Blu-ray products and movies with their purchases,"
said Gary Severson, senior vice president, Home Entertainment,
Wal-Mart, U.S. "With the customers best interest in all we do,
we wanted to share our decision and timeline with them as soon as
possible, knowing it will help simplify their purchase decision,
increase selection, and increase adoption long term. We anticipate
enhancing our selection with continued great values in hi-definition
Blu-ray products, so our customers can further enhance their
entertainment experience at home."
Wal-Mart will continue to sell through remaining HD DVD product,
but in less than 30 days customers will see a more predominant move
toward Blu-ray in stores, clubs and online. As the nation's largest
retailer, Wal-Mart thoughtfully reviewed all areas and impact in
making its decision, and is excited to move forward with one format
and share its future plans with customers.
You can find the original text
on Wal-Mart's Facts site. And the reaction from the media is
exactly as you'd expect. See
Today (who commented even BEFORE the Wal-Mart news broke)
and you can expect hundreds more like them over the next few days.
Here's our reaction...
To quote Forrest Gump: "That's all I have to say about that."
(EARLY UPDATE -
2/15/08 - 11 AM PST)
Well, folks... here's the last piece of the retail puzzle for
to CNN Money, Wal-Mart has today announced that
they're only going to be carrying Blu-ray Disc in all their stores,
and will gradually phase out all HD-DVD product over the next
several months. Combined with the loss of Best Buy, that's the
shooting match right there. From CNN's piece:
"We've listened to our customers, who
are showing a clear preference toward Blu-ray products and movies
with their purchases," said Gary Severson, Wal-Mart's Senior
Vice President of Home Entertainment in a statement.
We'll post the press release as soon as we have it. Bottom line:
Now matter how you slice it, this thing is over. All that's left is
Toshiba waving the white flag, and Paramount and Universal
announcing their Blu-ray plans. I'm betting those things happen
sooner rather than later, given the rapid pace at which events are
(LATE UPDATE - 2/14/08
- 5:30 PM PST)
Here Be High-Def Dragons...
Here's some late-breaking news for you, and this is ALL high-def
Hollywood Reporter is indicating that "reliable
industry sources" say Toshiba is getting ready to drop the
HD-DVD format. According to the story, Toshiba's Jodi Sally wouldn't
confirm but "hinted that something's in
the air" given recent developments. It seems that the
retail defections have, predictably, taken their toll. From the
"An announcement is coming soon,"
said one source close to the HD DVD camp. "It could be a matter
The story is by T.K. Arnold and Erik Gruenwedel, and can also be
Media. Calls to Microsoft's Kevin Collins and Universal's
Ken Graffeo (also co-president of the North American HD-DVD
Promotional Group) for the piece were apparently not returned.
For what it's worth, our own sources have been telling us recently
that Paramount could make an announcement relating to a return to
Blu-ray support as soon as late March or early April, though that
was before this new report broke. Both Paramount and Universal have
denied any change in their high-def support in recent weeks, or
simply declined to comment. It's worth noting, however, that
Universal hasn't announced any new HD-DVD titles since American
Gangster, and it cancelled two titles (Dazed
& Confused and Land of the
Dead) that were previously released as DVD/HD-DVD combo
discs and were going to be re-issued as HD-DVD only titles on 3/11.
There have been additional (though COMPLETELY unconfirmed) reports
in the last few days that Toshiba may be preparing their own Blu-ray
Disc player models. You can read more on that
at 1080 Living. It would certainly make sense. With
over 90% of all high-def format sales in Japan Blu-ray, Toshiba
needs to do something there or risk being left completely behind in
their own backyard. Again, though, we have yet to hear anything like
this from our own sources, so season this particular rumor liberally
Regardless... hang tight, folks. This thing could soon be
officially over. Either way, it's certainly getting interesting (as
if it wasn't already fascinating enough). Stay tuned...
(EARLY UPDATE -
2/14/08 - 1:45 PM PST)
Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! So I presume you all saw the Indiana
Jones 4 trailer this morning? If not,
find it here. Looks pretty good to me - certainly gets the
Here at the site this this afternoon, our very own Adam Jahnke has
new edition of The Bottom Shelf, featuring DVD reviews
of a trio of very good films a bit off the beaten path. Included are
20th Century Fox's
as well as New Line's
King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. Two columns in as
many days from Jahnke?! I think something must have gotten into the
Doctor's Kool-Aid. Enjoy!
In release news today, Fox has just announced the DVD and Blu-ray
debut of Alien vs. Predator: Requiem
on 4/15. The Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem
- Extreme Unrated Special Edition will be available on
2-disc DVD (SRP $34.98) in anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital
5.1 and DTS 5.1 audio. Extras will include audio commentary by
directors Colin and Greg Strause and producer John Davis, a second
commentary with creature effects designers Tom Woodruff Jr. and Alec
Gillis, 5 featurettes (Prepare for War:
The Making of AVP-R, Fight to
the Finish: The Making of AVP-R, AVP-R:
The Nightmare Returns - Creating the Aliens, Crossbreed:
The PredAlien and Building the
Predator Homeworld), 7 still galleries (Designing
the Predator, Designing the
Alien, Designing the PredAlien,
On Set: The Rooftop, On
Set: The Sewer, On Set: The
Hive and On Set: Cast &
Crew), the film's theatrical trailers (including the "redband"
trailer) and a Digital Copy version of the film. Single-disc R-rated
and Unrated DVD editions will also be available, with only the
commentaries (SRP $29.98 each). The Blu-ray Disc version (SRP
$39.98), will include all of the DVD extras along with both the
theatrical and unrated versions in AVC 1080p video via seamless
branching, the PiP Weyland-Yutani
Archives BD-Java feature and audio in DTS 5.1 HD.
Meanwhile, Warner will release Bernard
and Doris on DVD on 4/29 for HBO, along with The
Buddha of Suburbia, Daphne,
Stonewall and Tchaikovsky
all on 5/27 for the BBC. Warner has also changed the street date for
The Song Remains the Same in
high-def. The Blu-ray Disc is due on 2/26, and the HD-DVD will
follow on 3/18.
Sony has also changed the street date for Final
Season on DVD to 4/15.
Here's a look at the cover art for Fox's The
Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem - Extreme Unrated Special Edition
DVD and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance
Kid Blu-ray (May), Criterion's Blast
of Silence DVD (4/15), Sony's Walk
Hard: The Dewey Cox Story on DVD and Blu-ray (4/8) and
Paramount's The Kite Runner
Back with more new reviews tomorrow, so stay tuned...
(LATE UPDATE - 2/13/08
- 4:30 PM PST)
Okay, let's have a news round-up...
First up, there's been some question as to the release status of
ThinkFilm's In the Shadow of the Moon,
which was supposed to street yesterday on DVD (distributed by
Image). The studio's PR agency tells me that there is no change in
the street date. There may have been a slight delay getting product
to stores, but it should be available shortly everywhere. Amazon has
apparently listed the street date as 3/15 just to play it safe, but
you should soon find the disc widely available. And it's pretty
great. I'll be reviewing it in the next couple days.
Meanwhile today, Paramount has announced the DVD and HD-DVD release
of The Kite Runner on 3/25
(SRP $29.99 for DVD, $39.99 for HD). Extras will include audio
commentary with director Marc Forster, screenwriter David Benioff
and author Khaled Hosseini, along with a variety of featurettes.
Paramount is also about to announce the 4/1 DVD and HD-DVD release
of Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd.
Watch for details soon.
And 20th Century Fox is preparing a Blu-ray Disc version of Butch
Cassidy and the Sundance Kid for release in May, along
with Master and Commander: The Far Side
of the World and other catalog titles.
Around the Net this afternoon, our friend Dave over at
Shows on DVD has learned more about the future plans for
Battlestar Galactica - both
SciFi's final season broadcast and its eventual release on DVD from
Universal. Get ready for Season 4.0
and Season 4.5. It's a good
read, so do check it out.
Here Be High-Def Dragons...
So here's a pisser... Universal's new DVD/HD-DVD combo format
release of Ridley Scott's American
Gangster contains both the 158-minute theatrical cut AND
the 177-minute extended cut, right? But here's what sucks... the
extended cut is only on the DVD side, and the theatrical version on
the HD side only has Dolby Digital Plus audio. What's more,
overcompression is an issue on both sides, obviously due to lack of
disc space. Ugh. Just think, Universal could put BOTH versions in
high-def on a 50GB Blu-ray with seamless branching. Hhhmmm...
Also today, director Michael Bay is speaking out again about the
format war and his preference for Blu-ray. It's pretty amusing - you
can read more
at Home Media. Among the interesting tidbits is word
that Armageddon is going to
require a new high-def transfer for Blu-ray, as the previous digital
master was damaged by a fire. For the record, Buena Vista tells me
that it's definitely coming, but it's going to take some time.
And TG Daily has
new opinion piece on the format war that's worth reading
today, along with
that retailer Wal-Mart has begun phasing out the RCA HDV5000
and Venturer SHD7000 HD-DVD players in all their stores, though it
will continue to stock the Toshiba HD-A3 for at least 4 months
Don't forget about the Indy 4
teaser trailer's debut tomorrow morning on ABC's Good
Morning America. We'll be back later tomorrow with some
new disc reviews and a new column as well.
'Til then... stay tuned...
(EARLY UPDATE - 2/13/08 - 12:01 AM PST)
We'll be back with more later today, but we wanted to check in
early this morning to let you all know that our very own Dr. Adam
Jahnke has just posted
update of The Electric Theatre, featuring his thoughts
on the recent passing of actors Heath Ledger and Roy Scheider, as
well as comic book writer Steve Gerber. We hope you all enjoy what
he has to say. The Doctor is most assuredly in.
(LATE UPDATE -
2/12/08 - 12:15 PM PST)
Okay... we've got a little more release news for you this
First, Universal has set The Eddie
Murphy Comedy Collection for DVD on 5/27 (SRP $19.98).
The 2-disc set will include The Nutty
Professor, Nutty Professor II:
The Klumps, Bowfinger
Also, Warner has set the BBC's Cranford
(2007) and The Elizabeth Gaskell
Wives & Daughters and North
& South) for release on 5/20, both for the BBC.
Around the Net today, Lucasfilm and Paramount have confirmed that
the first teaser trailer for Indiana
Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull will debut on
Good Morning America on
Thursday morning (2/14 - between 8 and 9 AM), and it will be
available on Indiana
Jones.com shortly thereafter. Gotta tell you, I'm really
looking forward to this movie. Just thinking about it is enough to
put a smile on your face.
Here Be High-Def Dragons...
And on the high-def front this afternoon,
and other sites have picked up the Best Buy story from yesterday.
posted a story yesterday that some took to mean that Universal
is about to go Blu-ray. We do expect Universal to announce support
for Blu-ray some time later in 2008, but not for a while yet. For
the record, when we contacted the studio about this story, this was
their reply: "USHE has not commented on
such rumors or speculation and did not speak to EGM for this piece."
So take that as you will.
Meanwhile, it seems that Samsung is being sued over their early
Blu-ray players - including the BDP-1200. I had the BDP-1000 myself,
which was their first player, and it was a bit of a mess. I had
similar problems with Toshiba's original HD-A1 early on. Both were
very buggy when they first launched. Unfortunately, Samsung hasn't
been quick with necessary firmware updates. Anyway, you can read
at ars technica. Such are the problems faced by early adopters
of new formats.
By the way, if you're interested in Blu-ray and you're looking for
a recommendation of Blu-ray players, we heartily recommend
Panasonic's new BD-30, which is profile 1.1 ready. We've had it for
a while now, and it's rock solid, just as their BD-10 was before it.
Also, Panasonic's new BD-50 will be out later this year (around May
or June) which will be profile 2.0 compatible.
(EARLY UPDATE -
2/12/08 - 12:01 AM PST)
We've got a few new announcements to report today. But first, we
wanted to acknowledge the passing of another person whose work you
may know fondly: artist John Alvin (click
here for details from The New York Times). Alvin
painted some 153 movie posters over a 35-year career in the
industry. You'll know his iconic images in the posters for such
films as Blade Runner, E.T.:
The Extra-Terrestrial, Young
Frankenstein, The Lion King
and more. He was 59. You can visit
Also this morning, here at the site, Russell Hammond has updated
Upcoming DVD Cover Art section for this week with all
the latest DVD, Blu-ray and HD-DVD cover art and Amazon pre-order
links. As always, there's lots of great new titles to see, so do
check it out.
Now for those announcements: First up, Fox has set In
the Name of the King for DVD release on 4/15 (SRP
$27.98). Uwe Boll's quick-through-theatres Dungeon
Siege Tale will be presented in anamorphic widescreen
with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include deleted/extended
scenes, a behind-the-scenes featurette, trailers and more. No
Blu-ray Disc version has yet been announced.
Meanwhile, Sony has set The Water Horse:
Legend of the Deep for release on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on
4/8. The 2-disc DVD (SRP $28.96) will contain both full frame and
anamorphic widescreen video, along with deleted scenes and 6
featurettes (Creating Crusoe,
Myths and Legends, Setting
the Scene, The Characters,
The Story and Water
Work: Creating the Water Horse). The Blu-ray version (SRP
$38.96) will include all of the above, along with the Water
Horse: Virtual Crusoe game.
Anchor Bay will release the unrated Tripping
the Rift: The Movie on DVD on 3/25 (SRP $26.97),
including a "making of" featurette.
And Warner will release Party of Five:
The Complete Third Season as a 5-disc set on 2/25 (SRP
$39.95). All 25 episodes will be included, along with 2 "minisodes"
episodes of other series (Silver Spoons:
Boys Will Be Boys and The
Facts of Life: And Into the Frying Pan). Warner has also
announced the DVD release of Bet Your
Life on 5/13 (for Polychrome), The
Bill Engvall Show: The Complete First Season on 5/20, and
If Love Hadn't Left Me Lonely
on 5/27 (also for Polychrome).
(LATE UPDATE -
2/11/08 - 1 PM PST)
Here Be High-Def Dragons...
Well, folks... we've been saying that a retailer move like this was
coming for weeks now, and here it is: Best Buy has just announced
that, starting in early March, they're going to start officially
recommending Blu-ray to their customers as "the Customers
Digital Format Choice" and will emphasize the format
prominently in all their stores. They're not going to stop carrying
HD-DVD immediately, but the sales push in their retail locations
will be all Blu. Here's the full text of their press release...
Best Buy to Recommend Blu-ray as the Customers
Digital Format Choice
MINNEAPOLIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE: BBY) is
taking a step forward in addressing consumer confusion about
high-definition formats. Beginning in early March, the leading
consumer electronics retailer will prominently showcase Blu-ray
hardware and software products in its Best Buy retail and online
channels in the United States.
Consumers have told us that they want us to help lead the
way. We've listened to our customers, and we are responding. Best
Buy will recommend Blu-ray as the preferred format, said Brian
Dunn, Best Buy's president and chief operating officer. Our
decision to shine a spotlight on Blu-ray Disc players and other
Blu-ray products is a strong signal to our customers that we believe
Blu-ray is the right format choice for them."
Dunn continued, Best Buy has always believed that the
customer will benefit from a widely-accepted single format that
would offer advantages such as product compatibility and expanded
content choices. Because we believe that Blu-ray is fast emerging as
that single format, we have decided to focus on Blu-ray products."
With the explosion of HDTVs, customers are hungry for
quality, high definition content. We believe our move to feature
Blu-ray should help consumers feel confident in their hi-def content
choices, said Mike Vitelli, Best Buy's senior vice president,
Home Solutions. Best Buy is excited by the next generation of
digital products and we know our customers are too. We are excited
about helping customers find the right mix of products and services
to make the next generation of high definition entertainment
technology come alive for them. We believe that Blu-ray is the right
solution for consumers."
Best Buy currently carries a wide array of Blu-ray hardware and
software products. The company noted that it will continue to carry
an assortment of HD-DVD products for customers who desire to
purchase these products.
So why a preference recommendation for Blu-ray rather than simply
dropping HD-DVD? There's a couple reasons this makes sense. First,
they've been selling HD-DVD players for a while, so they have an
existing customer base for that format that they don't want to
completely alienate. The more important reason though is that they
have a long-standing business relationship with Toshiba that they
want to preserve. Framing their preference this way (along with
participating in the recent 50% off sales of HD-DVD players) helps
Toshiba save face. However, given that Best Buy is arguably the
leading retailer of consumer electronics equipment in North America,
they don't make such format support decisions lightly. As such, this
announcement tells you everything you need to know about the
viability of HD-DVD going forward. Watch for Circuit City and other
retailers to follow Best Buy's lead, either with public
announcements or simple in-store support emphasis, in the weeks
This news also comes in the wake of
announcement this morning that they're dropping HD-DVD
support. Netflix's move is particularly telling, as Netflix CEO Reed
Hastings last year joined the board at Microsoft (click
here for more on that), and there's a close relationship
between the two companies. Just a few weeks ago, prior to CES, one
could easily have imagined Microsoft working hard to change
Netflix's mind. Now it seems they've lost interest in the format war
and are focusing instead on their Yahoo plans.
One quick bit of site business this afternoon: The
Bits will be down for a few hours tonight for routine
server upgrade/maintenance work. Just so you know.
(EARLY UPDATE -
2/11/08 - 11 AM PST)
Well... obviously there's some good news and some sad news to
report from over the weekend.
The good news first: It looks like the writers strike IS finally
over, which means that some show runners could head back to work as
early as today. You can read more
via Daily Variety. Regardless, a few shows are down
for the count (Bionic Woman)
and a few more (like 24)
probably won't be back until 2009. But hey, at least Ron Moore and
the gang can get back to work on the last season of
Galactica (which officially begins on SciFi on 4/4, with
catch-up specials on 3/28 - more
at TV Guide). You "nutters" out there will
no doubt already be aware that
comes back tomorrow night to begin its new season on CBS. And
at least Friday
Night Lights is still going, which is easily one of the
best shows on TV. Seriously, those of you who haven't seen it should
give it a shot (you can watch free episodes
online). It's got a great cast, outstanding writing, and it
also offers one of the best depictions of a married couple in any
drama. It's arguably the best show you AREN'T watching, so do give
it a chance.
Now for the sad news... actor Roy Scheider has died at the age of
75 (more from CNN
You'll no doubt remember him from such films and TV series as The
French Connection, Blue
Thunder, 2010, RKO
281, All That Jazz,
SeaQuest DSV, Romeo
Is Bleeding, Sorcerer
and Marathon Man. But
obviously it's for his starring role in Steven Spielberg's Jaws
that he'll best be remembered.
Another actor has passed away recently as well: Barry Morse (click
here to visit his
official website). He appeared in tons of TV and theater
projects over the years in Canada, the U.K. and here in the States,
including The Martian Chronicles,
The Winds of War and The
Fugitive. I'll remember him fondly from Space:
And while we're at it, former ABC News reporter John McWethy has
here for the details). For anyone my age, who watches a lot of
news, the words "This is John McWethy at the State Department"
were all too common over the years. There are very few really good
old-school journalists left these days, and John was one of the
All will be missed.
Now then... let's have some DVD and high-def release news...
First up, Sony has just announced that the DVD release of Steep
will happen on 3/18, but the Blu-ray Disc will arrive a few days
later on 3/25. Meanwhile, the studio has set Walk
Hard: The Dewey Cox Story for DVD and Blu-ray release on
4/8. And Impulse will follow
on DVD only on 4/15. Walk Hard
will be available on DVD in 2 versions - a single-disc R-rated
version (96 minutes) and a 2-disc unrated edition (120 minutes).
Extras on the unrated edition will include audio commentary with
Jake Kasdan, Judd Apatow, John C. Reilly and Lew Morton, deleted and
extended scenes, Line-O-Rama,
song performances, song demos, 8 featurettes (The
Music of Walk Hard, The Real
Dewey Cox, The Making of Walk
Hard, The Last Word with John
Hodgman, Tyler Nilson: A
Cockumentary, Bull on the
Loose, A Christmas Song from
Dewey Cox and Dewey Cox's Last
Interview), as well as Cox
Sausage Commercials with outtakes and more. The Blu-ray
(SRP $43.95) will include all of the 2-disc unrated extras.
By the way, Warner has revealed that Led Zeppelin's The
Song Remains the Same concert film will be released on
Blu-ray and HD-DVD on 2/26 (SRP $28.99 each). It will also be
available in 2 DVD versions: a Two-Disc
Special Edition (SRP $20.97) and a Collector's
Edition (SRP $44.98). From the press release:
"The Collector's Edition
includes a T-shirt, news articles, concert reviews, reproductions of
original premiere invitations, collectible lobby cards and free
And Lionsgate will release Bella
on DVD on 5/6 (SRP $27.98).
Here Be High-Def Dragons...
In news from the front lines of the format war,
is reporting that the latest NPD Group hardware sales numbers
(for the week ending 1/26) show that Blu-ray continues to dominate
HD-DVD in unit sales by a 65% to 28% margin (the missing percentage
is combo players). The piece features all kind of quotes (especially
from Toshiba marketing VP Jodi Sally: "I
feel it's important to point out...") cautioning
everyone from rushing to judgement.
Apparently Netflix didn't get the memo. The company has just
announced that it's no longer going to carry the format, opting
instead to focus on Blu-ray Disc. From the press release:
"With the industry now having picked a
winner in the face-off between the two competing high-definition DVD
formats, Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX), the world's largest online
movie rental service, today said that it will move toward stocking
high-def DVDs exclusively in the Blu-ray format." You
can read more
at The New York Times, as well as
company's press release here.
Okay, we've got some interesting new announcements for you today.
First up, Universal has set The Classic
Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection: Volumes 1 & 2 for release
on DVD on 5/13 (SRP $59.98). The set will feature 10 films on 6
discs, including Tarantula,
The Mole People, The
Incredible Shrinking Man, The
Monolith Monsters, Monster on
the Campus, Dr. Cyclops,
Cult of the Cobra, The
Land Unknown, The Deadly
Mantis and The Leech Woman.
All will be in their original aspect ratios, and the widescreen
films will be anamorphic.
Meanwhile, Fox has announced the DVD and Blu-ray release of Alvin
and the Chipmunks on 4/1, followed by the DVD release of
Music Within on 4/8.
Warner will release Studio: Hip-Hop Task
Force, Volume II (4/29 - for Lightyear), Waiting
for God: Season Three (5/6 - for the BBC), Bet
Your Life (5/13 - for Polychrome), If
Love Hadn't Left Me Lonely (5/27 - also Polychrome) and
Doctor Who: Beneath the Surface
(6/3 - also BBC).
And Criterion has announced that the 10th entry in their Eclipse
series will be Silent Ozu: Three Family
Comedies (including I Was
Born, But..., Passing Fancy
and Tokyo Chorus).
In news around the Net today, Image Entertainment has called off
their planned merger with BTP. You can read more
at Home Media.
Here Be High-Def Dragons...
On the high-def front this morning, word is Microsoft has cut the
price of the Xbox 360 HD-DVD add-on drive (click
Scott Hettrick has contributed
new piece to Home Media, revealing that even with the
format war, high-def discs are already double the size of the
downloading market. Hettrick has also reported on the Warner 85th
Anniversary press event at the Blu-ray backed
in High-Def site, and included this interesting tidbit:
"Word working its way around the Warner
Bros. 85th anniversary event on the studio lot Tuesday night was
that some electronics retailers are being flooded with returns of HD
DVD players. In fact, so many are being returned that some retailers
are in possession of more returned HD DVD players than new stock. I
won't tell you who said what or which retailers we're talking about,
but I will tell you that execs from Amazon.com and Best Buy were in
It's true, this was indeed buzzing around the event among members
of the press and other attendees. This also corroborates the many
similar reports we've been getting from our own retail sources over
the last few weeks.
Finally today, the Nielsen VideoScan software sales numbers for the
week ending 2/3 are now in. Here's they are...
One last note today: Special thanks to Bits
reader Matt S., who sold me his used Ace
Combat 6 flight stick set for a nice price. I've had the
throttle open wide ever since. Thanks, Matt!
And that's all for now. Have a great weekend, folks. See you
to Current Posts