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





page updated: 4/11/08



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 4/4/08 - 3/11/08)


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4/4/08

Okay, today's post is gonna be short and sweet, but there's good stuff here!

First, Buena Vista will be releasing the Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert - The 3-D Movie on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 8/19. Word is both versions will include extended footage, both 2-D and 3-D viewing options (presumably with 3-D glasses), behind-the-scenes footage and a sing-along feature. So those of you who have been waiting to see what 3-D might look like on Blu-ray need only wait until August. Personally, I'm hoping to see U2 3D on Blu-ray like this eventually.

Also today, Warner Home Video has set Fool's Gold for release on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 6/17.

Echo Bridge Home Entertainment has set the comedy Military Intelligence and You! for DVD release on 5/6.

And we have some VERY exciting news for you today in The Rumor Mill. Let's just say that it's an offer you can't refuse. Be sure to check it out.

On a completely different note, here's something that needs saying: The design team that creates the DVD cover artwork for The Criterion Collection is off the hook. I've been meaning to say this for a while. Just look at these covers! They're classic, tasteful, stylish. They evoke emotion and set a mood, without offering spoilers. They don't hit you over the head with the usual garish star promotion. Some of these covers are so gorgeous, I'd like to hang them on the wall as prints. Seriously, hats off to you folks in the Criterion art department from everyone here at The Bits.

Before the Rain (Criterion)Classe Tous Risques (Criterion)Mishima (Criterion)

The Furies (Criterion)Patriotism (Criterion)Meet the Spartans

Okay, I know... Meet the Spartans doesn't exactly belong in that company. But I figured some of you would enjoy seeing its cover too. It streets on 6/3.

So hey... here's a question: Are any of you ready for Blu-ray Disc Audio? As our own Matt Rowe first posted on MusicTAP the other day, Metal God Entertainment and rocker Rob Halford (of Judas Priest) are releasing Halford Live Insurrection: Remixed and Remastered on CD and Blu-ray Disc on 9/23 (view the official press release here). The Blu-ray version will feature 5.1 high-resolution audio. I think this is potentially a great idea, but I don't expect the record industry will have the balls or common sense enough to really embrace the idea, especially since they let DVD-Audio and SACD wither on the vine.

Finally today, don't forget that tonight is the debut of the final season of Battlestar Galactica on the Sci-Fi Channel (at 10 PM - 9 Central - visit the official website here). The episode is called He That Believeth in Me, and early word from reviewers is that it's well worth the wait. You know... it's the little things that really make life special. We hope you enjoy it, 'cause we certainly will.

All of you have a terrific weekend, and we'll see you back here on Monday. Stay tuned...

4/3/08

There's great news for you fans of Friday Night Lights today. NBC and Universal have announced a deal with satellite television provider DIRECTV to finance a third season of the critically acclaimed series. As part of the arrangement, 13 new episodes will begin airing on NBC in early 2009, though DIRECTV subscribers will get to see them first on the service's channel 101 starting in October. You can read more here at the excellent Futon Critic site run by our old friend Brian Ford Sullivan.

In terms of announcement news this afternoon, Warner has set Mama's Boy for DVD release on 6/3.

Lionsgate will release The Eye on DVD on 6/3 as well.

Genius Products has set an I'm Not There: Two-Disc Collector's Edition for release on DVD on 5/6.

And on the Blu-ray Disc front today, Tai Seng will release Dragon Tiger Gate on 5/27.

Speaking of Blu-ray, media research firm Interpret is reporting that 60% of U.S. households are now aware of Blu-ray Disc, and 10.3 million U.S. homes now have a high-definition disc player (including PS3s, representing 9% of all households). You can read more here at Home Media.

And around the site today, we've updated many of the DVD and high-def format stats we track (above). Some of you have been asking why the DVD player sales data hasn't been updated in several months, and the answer is that we're having trouble getting the information from the CEA. They seem to have stopped releasing the weekly data. We're working on it.

Stay tuned...

4/2/08

Okay... we've got some interesting release news for you today, so let's get to it.

First up, 20th Century Fox has just announced the DVD and Blu-ray Disc release of Jumper on 6/10 in single-disc DVD, 2-disc DVD and 2-disc Blu-ray editions (SRP $29.98, $34.98 and $39.98 respectively). The single-disc DVD will include both anamorphic widescreen and full frame video (on different sides of the same disc), along with audio commentary by director Doug Liman, writer/producer Simon Kinberg and producer Lucas Foster, and 3 featurettes (Jumping from Novel to Film: The Past, Present & Future of Jumper, Making an Actor Jump and Previz: Future Concepts). The 2-disc DVD version will add 2 more featurettes (Doug Liman’s Jumper: Uncensored and Jumping Around the World), the Jumpstart: David’s Story animated graphic novel, and 6 deleted scenes, along with a Digital Copy version of the film. The Blu-ray Disc will include all of the above, along with an exclusive BD-Java PiP version of Jumping Around the World. Here's a look at the cover art for both the single-disc DVD and Blu-ray editions...

JumperJumper (Blu-ray Disc)Batman: The Movie

As you can see, we also included the final cover art for Fox's Batman: The Movie on Blu-ray Disc (7/1).

In other news, Warner Home Video has announced a number of new DVD releases, including Steven Spielberg presents Freakazoid!: The Complete First Season and Steven Spielberg presents Tiny Toon Adventures: Season 1 on 6/24, Witchblade: The Complete Series on 7/22, Steven Spielberg presents Tiny Toon Adventures: Season 1, Volume 1 and Birds of Prey: The Complete Series on 7/29, and The Wire: The Complete Fifth Season on 8/12. Warner has also given us a little bit of cool Blu-ray Disc news that you'll find in today's installment of The Rumor Mill.

Fans of CBS's Jericho might find some small consolation in knowing that the forthcoming Jericho: The Complete Second Season DVD release (due 6/17) will include multiple episode audio commentaries by series creators Dan Shotz and Jon Steinberg, along with the unaired alternate ending from the series finale and 2 featurettes (Rebuilding Jericho and Nut Job).

Meanwhile, BCI Entertainment has announced the DVD release of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: Volume 2 on 5/27. The set will include episodes 14-26 from the 2002 revival, along with commentary tracks, a Villains sketch gallery, animatics for selected episodes and more.

Also, our friend Mark Gray over at Spacecraft Films has revealed that they'll release a 6-disc Space Shuttle: First Flights collection on DVD soon, and that the original documentary that's part of the set has been produced in full high-definition, so it will be released on Blu-ray Disc as well. We'll post more details in the coming weeks.

Finally, around the Net today, those of you who enjoyed Star Trek: Enterprise might find this interesting: I just wrote an exclusive piece for Trek Movie.com previewing the forthcoming Star Trek: Enterprise - Kobayashi Maru relaunch novel from Pocket Books, which is being written by Michael A. Martin and our old friend Andy Mangels.

Stay tuned...

4/1/08

You didn't really think we were going to keep the monkey up all day, did you?

You know, I'm not usually one for April Fool's Jokes. Especially on a site that's talked about DVD and high-def as long as we have. I mean, what are you gonna do? "STAR WARS ANNOUNCED FOR BLU-RAY DISC!!!" Yeah, right. It gets old. But then Todd sent me an e-mail yesterday morning, all excited about this video he'd found of a monkey riding on a little tiny motorcycle. What can I say? You saw the video. It rocks (we'll leave it up here at this link for your continued amusement). Then, later in the day, Todd calls and says, "You know what you need to do for April Fools..." So that's how it happened. If you liked it, it was Todd's idea. And if you didn't, likewise... El Doogan. Hey, it was a good excuse to dust off the original Bits logo for a few hours. Anyone remember it? That was the very first logo we ever used here at the site, more than a decade ago now. Time does fly.

By the way, did you see the little teaser of the new season of The Venture Bros. that Adult Swim ran last night without announcement? I'm a bit of a night owl (an understatement) and I happened to be watching the network last night. I was surprised to see the preview appear about a quarter past Midnight - thank goodness for DVR. They played a rough cut sequence from the forthcoming episode The Doctor is Sin, with dialogue but without music and effects. It was pretty funny. The episode features the return of Doctor Henry Killinger and his "magic murder bag." The Venture Bros. is one of the best damn shows on TV. If you haven't seen it, it's a sort-of spoof of the old Jonny Quest cartoon, and I think it ranks right up there with South Park and The Simpsons. The first two seasons are out on DVD now, and Season Three starts in June on the Cartoon Network. Check it out - I think you'll really get a kick out of it (here's the official site, and the Wiki entry has everything you need to know). As you'll quickly discover, Brock Samson rules. Think Quest's Race Bannon, but much tougher and with a shorter fuse, voiced by the guy who played the live-action Tick. Now THAT'S a great cartoon character.

Brock Samson rules!

Anyway, still no Blu-ray announcements from Paramount and Universal, but my sources continue tell me they're coming soon. And no, I'm not kidding about that.

Here at the site this afternoon, our own Russell Hammond has updated the Upcoming DVD Cover Art section with all the latest DVD and Blu-ray Disc cover scans and Amazon pre-order links. As always, we appreciate the support you provide us when purchasing DVDs, books and other items through our links.

In release news today, Fox has finally officially revealed the DVD debut of Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs on 6/24 (SRP $29.98). The disc will be presented in anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include audio commentary with Matt Groening, David X. Cohen, Billy West, John DiMaggio, Maurice LaMarche, Michael Rowe, Claudia Katz, Peter Avanzino and Lee Supercinski, Futurama: The Lost Adventure (a long-lost, full-length adventure produced for the Futurama video game, also featuring audio commentary By Matt Groening, David X. Cohen, Billy West, John DiMaggio, Maurice LaMarche, Michael Rowe, J. Stewart Burns and Lee Supercinski), the Meet Yivo!, A Brief History of Deathball and Blooperama: The Futurama Cast at "Work" featurettes, 3D models with animator discussion, a storyboard animatic (for The Beast with a Billion Backs, Part One), deleted scenes/storyboard sequences for 5 additional scenes, and a sneak peek at the next adventure, Futurama: Bender’s Game. Here's a look at the cover art...

Futurama: The Beast with a Billion BacksThe Gangs of New York (Blu-ray Disc)Youth without Youth (Blu-ray Disc)

As you can see, we've also included cover art for Buena Vista's The Gangs of New York (due in July) and Sony's Youth without Youth (5/13), both on Blu-ray Disc.

Also today, Universal has announced the DVD release of Super High Me on 6/17, and Eureka: Season Two on 7/15.

And yeah, that's pretty much it. Be sure to check out Barrie's latest Classic Coming Attractions column if you missed it when we posted it late yesterday afternoon. You'll find 11 reviews of new and recent classic releases therein.

Stay tuned!

3/31/08

Afternoon
, folks! Hope you all had a fine weekend.

I think I asked this last week as well, but are any of you guys watching the new John Adams miniseries on HBO? It continues to be pretty great, I have to say. It'll make a fantastic Blu-ray at some point. The acting and writing remain superb, but of all things it's the special effects that are most surprising in that, quite often, you have no idea that what you're looking at is a special effect. It's very well done. Home Media has a piece up on the DVD release (expected on 6/10), that also hints that HBO has a Band of Brothers Blu-ray Disc release planned for later this year.

Speaking of great shows with great special effects, don't forget that this Friday night, Battlestar Galactica returns to begin its final season on the Sci-Fi Channel. You can bet your asteroids I'm not making any other plans for the evening.

Here at The Bits today, we're pleased to bring you a new Classic Coming Attractions column from our own Barrie Maxwell. In this installment, Barrie review 11 classic films recently released on DVD, including Warner's Joan Crawford Collection: Volume Two, Forbidden Hollywood Collection: Volume Two and Warner Bros. Pictures Gangsters Collection: Volume Three, Hermitage Hill's The Sign of the Wolf serial, MGM's 12 Angry Men: Collector’s Edition, Milestone's The Dragon Painter, Flicker Alley's Saved from the Flames, Universal's Portrait in Black/Madame X double feature, and Fox's Daisy Kenyon, Dangerous Crossing and Black Widow. Enjoy!

In announcement news today, Fox has set Bonneville for release on DVD on 6/24. Meet the Spartans has been set for DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 6/2, each as an Unrated "Pit of Death" Edition. And in case we haven't mentioned it before, 27 Dresses will debut on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 4/29.

Meanwhile, CBS and Paramount have announced the DVD release of Jericho: The Second Season and Jericho: The Complete Series on 6/17. Also newly announced are a Walker, Texas Ranger: The Fifth Season set and a Walker, Texas Ranger: 6-Pack, both on 7/1, with The Best of Manswers: Season One's Top 25 Manswers and Evening Shade: Season One following on 7/15.

Sony has announced a trio of western titles for release on Blu-ray on 6/10, including The Professionals, The Missing and Broken Trail. On standard DVD, look for Boondocks: Season Two, My Boys: The Complete First Season, Soap: The Complete Series (12 discs), What's Happening!: The Complete Series (9 discs) and a 2-disc Icons of Adventure set (includes Terror of Tongs, Devil-Ship Pirates, Pirates Blood River and Stranglers of Bombay) street on 6/10 as well.

Also, Troma is about to release a 7-disc Complete Toxic Avenger box set (due 4/30 - SRP $55), including all the films in the series along with the Toxic Crusaders animated series and the feature-length documentary Apocalypse Soon: The Making of Citizen Toxie.

In other news, according to Video Business, video retailer F.Y.E. is selling many new Blu-ray Disc releases at bargain prices, including Disney's Enchanted and Fox's Juno and Alien vs. Predator: Requiem.

There's also word that replicators are experiencing a little bit of growing pains with regard to Blu-ray Disc, in that many smaller outfits bet on HD-DVD instead. You can read more here at Home Media.

Home Media also has a story on the various TV catalog DVD releases coming in the next few months, tied to the debut of Warner's new Get Smart feature film.

Speaking of which, here's a look at the cover art for Universal's The Nude Bomb (6/17) and Journey to the Far Side of the Sun (6/24), along with CBS's Jericho: The Complete Second Season, all on DVD...

The Nude BombJourney to the Far Side of the SunJericho: The Complete Second Season

While we're at it, let's have a little Blu-ray Disc art too. Here's your first look at Warner's Batman Begins: Limited Edition Blu-ray Gift Set (due 7/8)...

Batman Begins: Limited Edition Blu-ray Gift Set

Finally, our friend Ron Epstein over at the Home Theater Forum wanted me to ask those of you that have already registered for our EMA 2008 event to resubmit your information. Due to a hard drive crash, he needs to make sure that he has a record of everyone's registration. Here once again are the original details:

During the week of June 24th-26th, members of the Home Theater Forum, The Digital Bits, TV Shows on DVD and other online communities are being invited to participate in EMA's Home Media Expo, an event not open to the general public. This year's event is bering held at The Palms, Las Vegas. The spotlight will be placed upon this group of attendees as they meet with studios and companies in an effort to offer a "voice" that is representative of the consumer market. All attendees will receive a complimentary "all access pass" to all seminars, events and parties with special discount lodging at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino. If you're interested in attending, visit the event page here.

Stay tuned...

3/28/08

Today is a slow news day so far, and I'm on my way up to Hollywood this afternoon to catch up with some old friends. So the post this morning will be brief.

But first, Warner Home Video has just announced the DVD and Blu-ray Disc release of The Bucket List on 6/10.

Better still, The Wachowski Brothers' V for Vendetta has FINALLY been announced for Blu-ray Disc release on 5/20 by the studio (SRP $28.99), presumably to take advantage of all the Speed Racer theatrical hype. We'll post additional details soon. Can The Matrix films be far behind?

Also today, Magnolia Home Entertainment has informed me that they currently have two titles slated for release on Blu-ray Disc this summer, including apocalyptic cult hit The Signal on 6/10 (subject to change) and The Life Before Her Eyes on 8/19 (DVD versions street at the same time). Additional titles are in the works.

If you're a spaceflight enthusiast like myself, you'll be pleased to know that Mark Gray of the excellent Spacecraft Films recently e-mailed me to say that he's soon to begin work on his first high-def release on Blu-ray Disc. We'll post more details as soon as they're available.

And if you've ever had trouble with a firmware update on HD-DVD or Blu-ray Disc hardware (or any other hardware for that matter), you'll appreciate this post by our friend Moriarty over at Ain't it Cool News. Our own Jeff Kleist certainly knows what it's like to have a 'bricked' player. I don't think he had his Toshiba HD-A2 more than about 10 minutes before it was suddenly rendered useless by a failed firmware update. These things are rare, fortunately, but they do happen. Such are the perils of living in the new digital age.

We'll leave you this week with a bit more cover art. Here's Sony's Square Pegs: The Complete Series (5/20) and Untraceable (5/13) on DVD, as well as Warner's V for Vendetta on Blu-ray Disc...

Square Pegs: The Complete SeriesUntraceableV for Vendetta (Blu-ray Disc)

We'll be back next week with lots more news, and we'll have a new column from Barrie Maxwell for you too. Have a great weekend (I'll be watching college basketball - Go Badgers!) and stay tuned!

3/27/08

Well... it looks like fallout from the HD wars has begun. Universal Studios Home Entertainment has just officially announced that their executive VP of HD strategic marketing, Ken Graffeo, will be stepping down from the position (though he may still remain at the studio in another capacity). Details are available here at Video Business. We'd heard this was coming about a week ago, and though this may surprise some of you, I think it's a real shame. Contentious though the format war was, and though he was a key supporter of the HD-DVD format (as head of the North American HD-DVD Promotional Group), Ken is a genuinely good guy. I've known him going back to the early days of DVD, and have a tremendous amount of respect for him. All of us here at The Digital Bits wish him well, and hope he'll find another worthy position within the industry.

Speaking of HD-DVD, Video Business is also reporting that at least one L.A. area Best Buy store has now cleared out all of its HD-DVD software inventory. In fact, several Best Buy staffers have informed us here at The Bits that all Best Buy store locations nationwide were ordered to return their remaining unsold HD-DVD inventory, effective yesterday.

Meanwhile, Home Media is reporting that Blu-ray Disc software sales have spiked sharply in recent weeks, since the end of the format war. It's a trend that reflects consumers who are becoming more willing to embrace Blu-ray now that HD-DVD is out of the picture, and it's likely to continue and even increase as we head toward the holiday season.

In announcement news today,Sony has set First Sunday for DVD and Blu-ray Disc release on 5/6. Both will include audio commentary with director David E. Talbert, deleted scenes with optional commentary by Talbert, a gag reel, outtakes, Talbert's wrap speech, a trivia track and the Hood Robbin' with the First Sunday Cast & Crew featurette. The Blu-ray will add a BD-Java enhanced version of the trivia track.

Sony will also release director Francis Ford Coppola's Youth Without Youth on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 5/13. Both will include audio commentary with Coppola and 3 featurettes (The Making of Youth Without Youth, The Music for Youth Without Youth and Youth Without Youth: The Makeup).

Meanwhile, Lionsgate has announced some new DVD releases for June, including the Diva: Meridian Collection and The Red Violin: Meridian Collection on 6/3 (SRP $26.98 each), the Catherine Deneuve: 5-Film Collection and the Sophia Loren: 4-Film Collection on 6/10 (SRP $39.98 each), and Caramel (SRP $27.98) and Alive or Dead (SRP $26.98) on 6/17. The Red Violin will include a digitally remastered transfer with new 5.1 Dolby Digital Sound, 2 new featurettes and filmmaker audio commentary. The Catherine Deneuve 3-disc set will include the films Le Sauvage, Hôtel des Amériques, Manon 70, Le Choc and Fort Saganne. The Sophia Loren 3-disc set will include the films I Girasoli, Carosello Napoletano, Attila and Madame Sans-Gene, along with the new Sophia Loren: La Diva Popolana featurette. Caramel includes an interview with director Nadine Labaki and the film's theatrical trailer.

Fox has set director Gary Wheeler's The List (based on the novel by Robert Whitlow) for release on DVD on 6/10 (SRP $26.98). Meanwhile, Ace of Hearts is on tap for DVD on 5/6.

And finally, Warner is releasing the BBC's Robin Hood: Season Two on DVD on 7/29 (SRP $79.98). It hasn't yet announced a Blu-ray Disc version, but we think one is likely at some point, because Warner has also announced a Blu-ray Disc version of the BBC's Robin Hood: Season One for that same day (SRP $99.98 - it's already available on DVD). That's certainly cool news, though we have our hopes set on Torchwood and the new Doctor Who on Blu-ray one of these days.

[Editor's Note: Okay... so like a million people have e-mailed to say that the new Doctor Who isn't shot in HD, just standard definition anamorphic. So there's no point in a Blu-ray release. Go figure.]

Here's a look at some cover artwork... the BBC's Robin Hood: Season One on Blu-ray and Robin Hood: Season Two on DVD, as well as Sony's A Passage to India: Collector's Edition on Blu-ray (4/15)...

Robin Hood: Season One (Blu-ray Disc)Robin Hood: Season TwoA Passage to India: Collector's Edition (Blu-ray Disc)

Stay tuned...

3/26/06

Boy, it seems that we really touched a nerve with our rant about the decline of Network TV the other day. We've gotten hundreds of e-mails in the last couple days from people just as pissed, peeved and put-off as we are about the way the big broadcast networks continue to shuffle and abandon decent dramas and comedies these days, without actually giving them a shot to find an audience. We appreciate all your comments, and they've certainly been interesting reading.

In release news today, Anchor Bay Entertainment has set Girls Just Want to Have Fun for DVD release on 4/29, with Abominable (the Sci-Fi Channel movie, complete with unrated footage) following on 5/1. They also have an Incredible Hulk Double Feature due for release on DVD on 5/13 (SRP $9.98), including the TV movies The Incredible Hulk Returns and The Trial of the Incredible Hulk.

Also, Universal will release Lipstick Jungle: Season One on DVD on 5/27 (SRP $29.98). The 2-disc set will include anamorphic widescreen video and exclusive deleted scenes.

Warner has delayed the DVD release of the Cartoon Network special Robot Chicken: Star Wars from 5/20 to 7/22. According to Video Business, this was done to coordinate the release with summer convention promotional opportunities (think San Diego Comic-Con), and to tie the release close to the theatrical debut of the CG animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars film on 8/15.

And Warner has announced a number of additional DVD titles, both new and repromoted (some tied to the release of the new Dirty Harry special editions). They include The Closer: The Complete Third Season and DogTown: Second Chances on 7/1, Fastlane: The Complete Series and His Holiness the Dalai Lama Speaks: Peace and Prosperity on 7/8, The Batman: The Complete Fifth Season, Teen Titans: The Complete Fifth Season, Bird (A Film by Clint Eastwood), Blues in the Night, Pete Kelly's Blues and Round Midnight on 7/22, and Sensitive Skin: Complete First and Second Seasons on 8/5. Word of advice: Don't ever accuse Dirty Harry of having sensitive skin.

In other news today, a new report by industry research firm Strategy Analytics predicts that Blu-ray Disc hardware penetration could reach 29.4 million homes worldwide this year, and as high as 132 million homes by 2012. This includes stand-alone BD players, Sony's PS3 and computers equipped with Blu-ray drives. More here at Video Business.

Finally today, actor Richard Widmark has passed away at age 93. His many film appearances included such varied classics as Kiss of Death, Night and the City, The Alamo, How the West Was Won, Judgment at Nuremberg, Alvarez Kelly, Madigan, Murder on the Orient Express, Coma, The Swarm, Against All Odds and most recently True Colors - truly a long and diverse career.

Stay tuned...

3/25/08

Okay... first up this afternoon, some site business. We've just kicked off a new Giveaway, offering each of you the chance to take home copies of Sony's Conspiracy on DVD. This giveaway will remain open for entries until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, March 30th. Click on the link to enter and good luck!

Also this afternoon, our own Russell Hammond has once again updated our Upcoming DVD Cover Art section with all the latest DVD and Blu-ray Disc cover scans and Amazon pre-order links. As usual, anything you order through our Amazon links helps to support our efforts here at The Bits and we thank you for it.

Now for some news. First up, as expected, Sony has just made its profile 2.0/BD-Live firmware update for the PlayStation 3 available for downloading - version 2.20. A number of readers have already updated their systems and have reported that afterwards, when you view a Blu-ray Disc, the system asks you if you want to allow certain Blu-ray Disc titles to be able to access online content when available. It'll be interesting to see what that content is over time.

In other news, Fox has just officially announced a Blu-ray Disc title that we hinted at last week... the Batman: The Movie - Special Edition. Due on 7/1, the disc (SRP $39.98) will include the film in 1080p with audio in English 5.1 DTS MA Lossless, along with English and French Dolby Digital mono and subtitles in English, French and Spanish. Extras will include audio commentary with actors Adam West and Burt Ward, a second commentary with screenwriter Lorenzo Semple, Jr., Nelson Riddle's original score as an isolated track in 5.1 DTS MA Lossless (a first for high-definition), 3 high-def featurettes (Batman: A Dynamic Legacy, Caped Crusaders: A Heroes Tribute and Gotham City’s Most Wanted), a 35th anniversary retrospective from 2001 featuring interviews with West and Ward, 2 additional featurettes (The Batmobile Revealed with George Barris and Batman on Location: Mapping the Movie), a 360-degree BD-Java interactive tour of the Batmobile, a pop-up trivia track, the original teaser and theatrical trailers, and 6 interactive photo galleries. Sounds pretty cool to us. Our friends over at TV Shows on DVD have a little more today as well.

In standard DVD news, Universal has just set Psych: The Complete Second Season and Monk: Season Six for release on 7/8.

And Warner has set Clint Eastwood Presents Tony Bennett: The Music Never Ends as a 2-disc DVD release on 7/22 (SRP $24.98).

Finally today, we're hearing some reports that there may be problems with the DTS MA decoders in a number of new audio receivers - one that causes loud pops when listening to select DTS MA audio tracks. These pops are loud enough that they can cause damage to your speakers. A number of readers have reported this problem, and it's being discussed in various online forums as well. We're attempting to learn more on this, so just be aware of the issue and check back over the next few days for the latest updates.

That's all for now. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 3/24/08 - 2:15 PM PDT)

Last week we updated you on some of Fox and MGM's upcoming Blu-ray release plans for later in 2008. Now, Buena Vista Home Entertainment has just sent over its updated Blu-ray Disc release schedule for the next few months. As you know, Hidalgo, M. Night Shyamalan's Unbreakable and the Coyote Ugly: Double Shot Edition street on 4/1. The theatrical version of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is tentatively due on 5/13 (the street date may change slightly). The National Treasure: Collector's Edition and National Treasure: Book of Secrets both follow on 5/20. June will see the Blu-ray release of The Recruit and M. Night Shyamalan's Signs, both on 6/3. Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York is now confirmed for Blu-ray release on 7/1. And Sleeping Beauty is currently set for 10/7. Additionally, the straight-to-video sequel Tinkerbell is due in October as well. Obviously, a number of new theatrical films will also be released on Blu-ray Disc in 2008. But here's a few new titles for you: Studio sources have confirmed that a Nixon: Election Year Edition and Good Will Hunting are both on the way for later in 2008. We've also learned that Kill Bill 1 & 2 and Finding Nemo are now being planned for release in 2009 on the format. You probably have questions about these titles, particularly Kill Bill, but no more information is available at this time. Obviously, it's way too early to talk about specific street dates, version and special features. Just know that they ARE on the way. And again, even though this information comes directly from studio sources, you should still consider it Rumor Mill-worthy until the titles are officially announced.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 3/24/08 - 12:15 PM PDT)

Jericho fans have heard the news by now. CBS has cancelled the beleaguered series again, after fans had convinced the network to give it a second try (click here and here for more). Apparently, ratings for the brief second season were even worse than the first season. You know, I don't know about the rest of you guys, but I'm about done with network TV. The fact is, viewership for the networks has been declining for years. The only thing surprising about that is that the network executives have the nerve to wonder why. Cable is a big factor, of course. About 80% of what I watch is on cable at this point and the reason is simple: That's where all of the most intelligently written and original dramas and comedies are. I'm frankly sick to death of reality TV, and the writer's strike didn't help network viewership either. But here's THE big reason why we've given up on network TV in our house: We're tired of being asked to watch and support shows that the network ends up canceling after a single season, or sometimes even after a single episode! Almost every time Sarah and I find a network show that either (or both) of us even remotely like, the network pulls the plug. Jericho, Quarterlife, K-Ville, Lipstick Jungle, Journeyman, The Black Donnellys, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Traveler, What About Brian, Invasion, Over There, E-Ring, American Dreams, Star Trek: Enterprise, Ed, Boston Public, Sports Night, I could go on and on and on (those are just a few we liked - there are MANY more). Another favorite, Friday Night Lights, is in danger of getting canned. It's not worth tuning in anymore, because you can't count on anything you see sticking around for more than five minutes, and it's just too damn aggrivating when they disappear. And the way these panicky network executives juggle their schedules, even when the show IS still on the air, you never know when it's actually gonna be on. It's better, and easier, to just wait for the show to arrive on DVD so you know you can actually watch a few of them at a time. An all-time classic series like The X-Files would NEVER have a chance in today's TV climate. The X-Files didn't get popular until well into its second season, but Fox would never have the patience to stick with it that long today. Shows get pulled on cable too (The 4400, Deadwood, Farscape, etc), but the so-called "major" networks are by far the worst offenders, and I think most people - especially anyone under 45 - is just done with them. CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox and the UPN/WB/CW whatever the hell it's called are steadily becoming obsolete. And the networks have no one to blame but themselves.

All right, enough of the TV rant. Let's have some announcement news...

Sony has just announced a 3-disc Casino Royale: Collector's Edition for release on DVD on 6/3. Extras will include audio commentary by members of the crew, deleted scenes, 3 documentaries (The Road to Casino Royale, Becoming Bond and James Bond: For Real), 8 featurettes (Paying Taxes, Rescue & Recovery, Old Boyfriend?, James Bond in the Bahamas, The Art of the Freerun, Death in Venice, Catching a Plane: From Storyboard to Screen and Ian Fleming: The Secret Road to Paradise), the Bond Girls are Forever TV special, a storyboard sequence for the Freerun Chase, filmmaker profiles and Chris Cornell's You Know My Name music video. There's no word on a Blu-ray version.

Also due on DVD from Sony on 6/3 are Rescue Me: The Complete Fourth Season (again, no word on Blu-ray), American Crude and Get Smart: The Complete Series... not THE complete series, but the 7-episode revival series from 1995 (the original is already available on DVD online from TimeLife and we expect it to be available in stores soon). Wieners follows on DVD on 6/10. And Anger Management will street on Blu-ray Disc on 5/20.

Meanwhile, BCI is delivering a Don’t Go in the Woods... Alone: 25th Anniversary Edition on DVD on 4/29. Extras include 2 audio commentaries, a still gallery and an hour-long documentary.

HBO will deliver its John Adams 7-episode miniseries on DVD on 6/10. It's pretty good so far - Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney are both excellent. Extras will include the David McCullough: Painting with Words documentary and a making-of featurette.

And New Line (via Warner) will release Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Show: 30 Days & 30 Nights - Hollywood to the Heartland on DVD on 6/3. Semi-Pro will street on 6/3 as well, in single-disc DVD (in full frame and anamorphic widescreen versions) and 2-disc Let's Get Sweaty Unrated DVD and Blu-ray Disc editions. Here's a look at the cover art...

Semi-Pro DVDSemi-Pro: 2-Disc Let's Get Sweaty Unrated EditionSemi-Pro: 2-Disc Let's Get Sweaty Unrated Edition (Blu-ray Disc)

Stay tuned...

3/21/08

We've been getting a lot of questions from readers over the last few weeks as to what some of the various studios are working on with regard to Blu-ray Disc, especially now that the format war is officially over. There haven't been all that many new title announcements in the last month or so, and so people are naturally wondering what's up. They're especially wondering when Paramount and Universal will finally show their BD cards.

To be able to give you a better sense of what's going on, I've been making some calls to the various studios and support companies on the subject this week. So here's a bit of what I've learned...

First up, it seems that now that the format war is over, there's a lot of 'making nice' going on in the industry, especially between the studios that had previously been on opposite sides of the format dispute. I'm also told that the BDA and its various members are working to help studios that had previously backed HD-DVD get fully up to speed with regard to Blu-ray authoring and production (in some cases even specifically making room for them in replication lines), and also to ensure that there's enough replication capacity available to meet demand for 3rd and 4th quarter titles.

Each studio is currently busy planning and preparing its BD release slate for the rest of the year. I can tell you that there are a LOT of titles in the works for Blu-ray release later this year, but also that the general sense in the industry is that the floodgates are really going to start opening up in 2009, after the Blu-ray format is able to make its holiday sales pitch to consumers unopposed for the first time. In fact, I've learned that there are some very exciting titles set to debut in the 1st quarter of 2009. Unfortunately, we can't really talk about them right now, as specific titles, schedules and features are shifting around a lot at the moment. While many 2009 releases are already in production, that's still a long ways off in terms of actual release dates.

More immediately, Warner Home Video has already given hints as to its Blu-ray plans in the year ahead, which we've reported on at some length (here and here). Image is working on titles. Genius Products has let it be known that they'll start releasing on the format in the second half of 2008 (including Weinstein Company titles). Disney and Sony are also working on lots of new titles. And I can tell you with confidence that Paramount and Universal have many titles already in the works as well. Part of the problem, particularly for Paramount, is that they're well aware that they've upset many high-def consumers in recent months. There are also, as we've said previously, some remaining contractual and financial issues being resolved with Toshiba as well. The main thing is that both studios want to make a big positive splash with their Blu-ray efforts going forward, and so they're taking their sweet time to frame their plans. Neither studio wants to start announcing titles and dates until they're completely ready to make good.

Meanwhile, what about Fox and MGM? Some of their release plans (through May and June) are already known. However, I'm told that many more catalog titles are in the works for possible release by the end of 2008, including such films as Walk the Line, the classic Batman: The Movie, The French Connection, Super Troopers, Fargo, the X-Men trilogy, the original Planet of the Apes, possibly Young Frankenstein and maybe even MGM musical titles, not to mention the expected new release films. And there are some great 2009 titles already being planned. Note that this information comes directly from studio sources, though the specific title slate and street dates are all fluctuating and are yet to be announced, so you should consider this Rumor Mill-worthy until official announcements are made.

We'll have more for you on the Blu-ray front next week, so be sure to check back then.

On the standard DVD front today, our friend Dave Lambert over at TV Shows on DVD is reporting that Paramount has told retailers to expect Star Trek: The Original Series Remastered - Season Two to arrive on standard DVD on 8/5. Like Dave, we believe all three seasons will eventually be released on Blu-ray Disc as well, when CBS and Paramount solidify their plans for the format.

One last note this afternoon: Amazon is currently running a "one day only" sale on the Blu-ray Disc versions of Buena Vista's National Treasure and National Treasure: Book of Secrets. For today only, you can buy BOTH titles for just $39.99, which is $30 off the regular SRP. The titles street on 5/20.

Okay, that's it for now. Happy Easter to those who celebrate it, a great weekend to all of you and we'll see you back here on Monday. Stay tuned...

3/20/08

Anyone ready for profile 2.0 Blu-ray machines? Well, they'll be here soon. In fact, Sony has just announced that it will update the PlayStation 3 game system to full profile 2.0 (BD-Live) compatibility with a firmware update later this month (possibly within the next few days - watch for a firmware update labeled ver 2.20). This will allow Internet connection features and other options on new and future Blu-ray Disc titles. Lionsgate has already released a couple of BD-Live titles, including War and Saw IV. The next such titles will street from Sony on 4/8 and will include Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story and The 6th Day. Standalone players with profile 2.0/BD-Live functionality are coming too. Panasonic's BD-50 is expected to arrive in stores in May or June, and Pioneer, Sony and other manufacturers have compatible players on the way as well. You can read more here at Video Business.

In release news today, Warner has announced the DVD release of the classics A Date with Judy and Merrill's Marauders (1962) on 4/22. They'll also release Wild China (for the BBC), Aria and Heaven (for Lightyear) on 7/1, with
Dallas: The Complete Ninth Season following on 7/15.

In other news, those of you who may have missed the cast of Battlestar on Letterman last night can view the complete Top Ten list here. Pretty good stuff. April 4th can't come fast enough - that's when Season 4 (the show's final season) starts on Sci-Fi. And don't forget, Season 3 is now in stores on DVD.

Also, Sarah wanted me to let you all know that we've got another new Digital Bits T-shirt design available. Artist Ryan Agadoni's comic/cartoon take on the format war (two giant monsters fighting it out in "Consumerville") proved quite popular with our readers. So now he's created a limited edition follow-up design - a Format War: The Sequel shirt, if you will - and we think you'll get a kick out of it, particularly if you liked the first shirt. Here's what it looks like (you can click on the image or the links above to pre-order one). You know what they say: Some days, you eat the bear...

Format War: The Sequel

Stay tuned!

3/19/08

Here's some good news if you were a casualty in the format war - at least some of you anyway. Best Buy is rewarding customers who purchased an HD-DVD player or drive anytime before 2/23/08 with a $50 gift card, as a nice way of helping to soften the blow of having picked the losing format. Word is the cards will be coming in the mail. Reward Zone members should receive them automatically, but anyone who purchased a player in the qualifying time period should be eligible to get one. You can contact Best Buy at 888.BEST.BUY (888.237.8289) to check to see if you have a gift card coming. You may need to provide proof of purchase, a receipt or credit card documentation proving you qualify. You can read more here at Video Business.

Also today, Toshiba is claiming that it will lose approximately $665 million in 2007 due to the failure of HD-DVD. More at Home Media.

In announcement news this afternoon, Warner has set Killing Zelda Sparks for DVD release on 5/20 (for Lightyear).

And that's about it, other than that Sony has also pushed the street date for A Raisin in the Sun to 5/13.

Light news day, what can I say.

Here's something cool for you Battlestar Galactica fans, though. A friend of The Bits who works on the staff over at The Late Show with David Letterman sent this in: Tonight's episode is going to feature the cast of BSG, in costume as their characters, reading the list of Top Ten Reasons to Watch the New Season of Battlestar Galactica! Be sure to tune in for it if you're a fan. Thanks for the heads-up, Jay!

Finally this afternoon, you can now pre-order that NHK Earthrise Blu-ray Disc from Pony Canyon (that we mentioned the other day) from Amazon.co.jp and also CD Japan (note that if you order from CD Japan, there's a coupon code available here good for 500 yen, or about $5, off your order). The disc itself is officially called Kaguya Tsuki Sekai Hiko (Kaguya is the name of the JAXA probe that shot the video) and it will include 17 minutes of high-def footage of the Moon and Earth set to classical music. It'll set you back about $45, but some of you (like me) might find it worth the cost. Special thanks to all the readers who sent in these links. For the record, here's a taste of what you're going to see...

Earthrise in HD

And while we're posting images, we'll leave you with a little bit more cover art. Here's Paramount's Indiana Jones: The Adventure Collection (street date 5/13), MGM's WarGames: The Dead Code (6/10) and Disney's The Sword in the Stone: 45th Anniversary Edition (6/17)...

Indiana Jones: The Adventure CollectionWarGames: The Dead CodeThe Sword in the Stone: 45th Anniversary Edition

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 3/18/08 - 3:30 PM PDT)

I'm sorry to say that there's more sad news to report this afternoon. It seems that legendary science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke has passed away today in Sri Lanka. Clarke wrote over 100 books and novels in his long career, including Childhood's End, Rendezvous with Rama and The Sentinel, the latter of which was the inspiration for Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (Clarke co-wrote the screenplay). He is also credited with the idea for geostationary satellites, and first described the concept of a space elevator (which may one day become reality) in detail in his 1979 novel The Fountains of Paradise. He was 90.

(EARLY UPDATE - 3/18/08 - 1:30 PM PDT)

Afternoon, all! Our own Russell Hammond has updated the Upcoming DVD Cover Art section today with all the latest DVD and Blu-ray Disc covers and Amazon pre-order links. There's lots of new titles, so do check it out.

In announcement news today, Paramount has revealed its first July DVD titles, including The Streets of San Francisco: The Second Season, Volume One on 7/1, and Cannon: Season One, Volume One, Jake and the Fatman: Season One, Volume One, Soul Food: The Series - The Final Season, Soul Food: The Complete Series and Backyardigans: Mighty Match-Up! on 7/8.

Meanwhile, Universal is re-releasing Heroes (1977), Journey to the Far Side of the Sun and Man of a Thousand Faces on DVD on 6/24.

Buena Vista has set Home Improvement: The Complete Eighth Season for DVD release on 6/10 (SRP $23.99). The 4-disc set will include all 28 episodes of this, the final season of the series, along with the Tim Allen’s User’s Guide to Home Improvement reunion documentary and a blooper reel.

We have more details today on Buena Vista's The Sword in the Stone: 45th Anniversary Special Edition DVD, which is due in stores on 6/17 (SRP $29.99). The film will be included in anamorphic widescreen video (1.66:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, along with The Sword in the Stone Scrapbook interactive gallery feature, the Music Magic: The Sherman Brothers featurette, 2 animated shorts (Knight for a Day and Brave Little Tailor), a song selection option, the Merlin's Magical Academy interactive game and more.

MGM has set Carve Her Name with Pride, Day of the Outlaw, Gunfight at Dodge City, Man of the West, Morning Departure, Navajo Joe, The One That Got Away, Secret Invasion, Secret of Santa Vittoria, The Way West and The Westerner for DVD release on 5/13.

We also have word that Japanese studio Pony Canyon will be releasing that awesome high-definition Moon and Earthrise footage on Blu-ray Disc on 6/18 in Japan. The release had been planned for the HD-DVD format, but that version was cancelled. It's also coming out on standard DVD in Japan on 7/16. The footage was shot by the NHK and JAXA (the Japanese Space Agency) via the Kaguya probe. You can read more about the Blu-ray Disc release here at AV Watch (text in Japanese). Thanks to all the Bits readers who sent this in. If you see or hear of a place to pre-order the title as an import, please let me know. I'm dying to have a copy!

Now then... there's been a lot of talk online in the last couple of weeks about when (and if, in some alarmist reports) Blu-ray Disc prices will drop, now that the format war is over. There have even been reports that player prices have gone up since the first of the year (see this piece at TG Daily). Here's something to keep in mind - a lot of those lower prices last year were sales prices over the holidays, and many of them ended in January. Here's something else to keep in mind, lots of new models of Blu-ray players are coming later this spring and over the summer, which means the previous models will be price reduced. You can also expect retailers and the various manufacturers to offer major discounts and other incentives to encourage people to buy Blu-ray players as we head into the holidays later this year. You'll see outright sales, you'll see combo offers where when you buy a new HDTV you'll get a free or discounted Blu-ray player (and keep in mind, with the FCC mandated switch to all-digital broadcasting next February, lots of people will be looking at HDTVs in the coming months). Sony has said that it expects to see at least a few Blu-ray player models priced as low as $299 later this year, with prices possibly under $200 next year (see this piece at The New York Times). And here's something interesting.... Warren Communications News (subscription required) is reporting that Samsung is planning to have a Blu-ray player available for less than $250 at Wal-Mart stores later this year, probably in the third quarter. So if you're interested in a Blu-ray player but price is an issue, just relax. The prices will continue to drop later this year, and plenty of great deals will be available in the coming months.

In other news from around the Net today, Home Media is reporting today that the first Blu-ray Disc titles from Genius Products (including some presumably from The Weinstein Company) will ship in the second half of 2008. Word apparently came to analysts and investors during a conference call yesterday with the company's CEO, Trevor Drinkwater.

Over at Variety, there's a report that Paramount is planning a new big-screen adaptation of Frank Herbert's Dune, with Peter Berg attached to direct. I'm just not sure what I think of that. Unless it's a very long film, or it's split into two parts, I'm not sure a single film could ever do the novel justice. The best version, as far as I'm concerned, is still John Harrison's 2000 Sci-Fi Channel miniseries, though I love the look and feel of the Lynch film from 1984. The good news, however, is that it seems Harrison and Richard Rubenstein (who produced the Sci-Fi version) are attached to this new project. So there's hope at least it will be done right.

Finally today, there's some sad news to report - director Anthony Minghella has died (see this story at CNN). He apparently suffered a brain hemorrhage following a surgical procedure. Minghella was the director of The Talented Mr. Ripley, Cold Mountain, Truly, Madly, Deeply and one of my favorite films, The English Patient. Most recently, he was an executive producer on Michael Clayton. He was just 54.

Stay tuned...

3/17/08


Howdy, folks! Hope you all had a fine weekend, as usual.

First up this afternoon, a quick note: If any of you have been trying to e-mail me lately, please know that I'm migrating to a new PC this week, and it's taking time to get all my files transferred over, and also to get all my software up and running properly on the new system. So I ask for your patience over the next several days as I get up to speed.

We've got some good announcement news today. Paramount has just set the DVD release of Cloverfield for 4/22. The disc, available in anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, will include audio commentary by director Matt Reeves, 4 featurettes (The Making of Cloverfield, Cloverfield Visual Effects, I Saw It! It's Alive! It's Huge and Clover Fun), 6 deleted scenes including 2 alternate endings, and no less than 11 hidden Easter eggs. No word yet on a Blu-ray Disc version, but we presume one will be announced soon, when Paramount finally gets around to making Blu-ray announcements. Here's the cover art...


CloverfieldThe Adventures of Young Indiana Jones: Volume Three - The Years of ChangeDirty Harry: Two-Disc Special Edition

As you can see, we also included the art for Paramount's The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones: Volume Three - The Years of Change (due 4/29) and Warner's Dirty Harry: Two-Disc Special Edition (6/3). And the following is a beauty shot of the contents of the Dirty Harry: Ultimate Collector's Edition DVD box set (also 6/3 - the swag content of the Blu-ray version of this box set is the same)...

Dirty Harry: Ultimate Collector's Edition

In other news today, Sony has set Youth without Youth for release on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 5/13, followed by the DVD release of Short Circuit 2, The Take, Cleaner and The Three Stooges Collection: 1937 - 1939 on 5/27.

Also, the good folks over at The Criterion Collection have announced their ambitious DVD slate for June. Look for Paul Schrader's 2-disc Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (Cat #432), Domoto Masaki & Yukio Mishima's Patriotism (#433), Claude Sautet's Classe tous risques (#434), Anthony Mann's The Furies (#435) and Milcho Manchevski's Before the Rain (#436).

Finally this afternoon, we've got a rundown of Image Entertainment's Blu-ray Disc release plans for the next few months. Look for Before the Devil Knows You're Dead and Mariah Carey: The Adventures of Mimi on 4/15, Company and Short Circuit on 5/20, The Air I Breathe on 5/27, Fearless Planet on 6/3, Chicago and Earth, Wind & Fire: Live at the Greek and Heart: Alive in Seattle on 6/10, and The Moody Blues: Lovely to See You - Live and Roy Orbison: A Black and White Night on 7/8. Still TBA are the IMAX titles The Alps, Coral Reef Adventure, Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag (should be awesome in high-def) and Mystery of the Nile. Also note that Suburban Girl was released on Blu-ray on 2/5, along with Breaker Morant.

Stay tuned...

3/14/08

First of all this afternoon, a special thanks to all of you who have sent in e-mail about The Bitsy Awards. We got a lot of nice comments, and we certainly appreciate them.

Here's some big release news: Warner Home Video has just revealed that Batman Begins will finally arrive on Blu-ray Disc on 7/8 in two editions - a single-disc version (SRP $28.99) and a new 2-disc limited edition gift set (SRP $49.99). The set will include a lenticular motion film image (probably like the one that was in the Blade Runner box set), along with photos, script pages, storyboards, 5 artwork postcards and a $7.50 "movie cash" coupon to use when you see The Dark Knight, which arrives in theatres on 7/18. Both versions of the Blu-ray will also include an exclusive comic book, the story of which serves as a prologue to The Dark Knight. Warner will also re-release the film on DVD that same day, in a gift set edition ($39.92) that includes all the content from the previous 2-disc DVD, along with a 128MB flash drive, the 5 art postcards and movie cash coupon. Finally, the studio will debut the direct-to-disc animated anthology, Batman: Gotham Knight, on DVD and Blu-ray on 7/8 as well (single-disc DVD is $24.98, 2-disc DVD special edition is $29.98 and Blu-ray Disc is $34.99). We'll have more details on the Blu-ray features soon, along with specs and artwork. You can read more here at Home Media.

A couple more Warner announcements: Look for Darfur Now on 5/27, Popeye & Friends: Volume One and E.R.: The Complete Ninth Season on 6/17, and National Geographic's Birth of Civilization on 6/24.

Meanwhile, Sony has set Untraceable for release on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 5/13. Both versions will include audio commentary by the filmmakers and 4 behind-the-scenes featurettes. The Blu-ray will add the Beyond the Cyber Bureau picture-in-picture viewing mode.

Universal has set The Incredible Hulk: The Complete Third Season and The Incredible Hulk: The Complete Fourth Season for DVD release on 6/3 (SRP $39.98 each). Both will include lenticular covers and tickets to see the new The Incredible Hulk feature film. Extras on the Third Season will include the Remembering The Incredible Hulk: An American Classic featurette and a preview for the new film. The Fourth Season will include audio commentary on the 2-part season premiere, Prometheus, with creator/producer Kenneth Johnson, a Prometheus photo gallery and the Creating an Iconic Character: The Hulk featurette.

MGM is planning to release a City Slickers: Collector's Edition on 6/3, complete with audio commentary by director Ron Underwood and stars Billy Crystal and Daniel Stern, 4 featurettes and deleted scenes. MGM also has a 2-disc WarGames: 25th Anniversary Edition set for 6/10, featuring audio commentary by director John Badham and writers Walter F. Parkes and Lawrence Lasker, the Loading WarGames documentary, 3 featurettes (Attack of the Hackers, Inside NORAD: Cold War Fortress and Tic Tac Toe: A True Story), the film's trailer and a preview of WarGames 2: The Dead Code. Speaking of which, WarGames 2: The Dead Code streets on DVD on 6/10 as well.

Finally, Buena Vista has set Army Wives: The Complete First Season for release on DVD on 6/10. On 6/17, look for The Sword in the Stone: 45th Anniversary Special Edition on DVD. The Jungle Book 2: Special Edition returns to DVD on 6/17 as well for a limited time. On the Blu-ray front, Buena Vista will also release M. Night Shyamalan's Signs in June (SRP $34.99 - street date TBA).

A little bit more news from around the Net today: Japanese newspaper Nikkei is apparently reporting that Toshiba's loss of the high-def format war could cost them as much as $1 billion, though Toshiba itself isn't commenting. You can read more at Home Media.

NPD Group is reporting growing consumer interest in Blu-ray Disc since the format war ended, according to Video Business. In a recent survey, more than 10% of consumers polled said they planned to buy a Blu-ray player in the next six months - a very good sign for the format's future.

Meanwhile, Best Buy is reportedly increasing its Blu-ray merchandising space in many stores.

And Classic Media apparently has big plans for the 50th anniversary of Gumby on DVD.

We'll leave you this week with some new cover art. Here's MGM's The Rat Patrol: The Complete Series (5/13) and the WarGames: 25th Anniversary Edition, Lionsgate's Rambo: The Complete Collector's Set (in metal tin packaging) on DVD and Rambo on Blu-ray Disc (both 5/27), and Sony's The Adventures of Baron Munchausen: 20th Anniversary Edition (4/8) and The Devil's Own (5/6) on Blu-ray.

The Rat Patrol: The Complete SeriesWarGames: 25th Anniversary EditionRambo: The Complete Collector's Set tin

Rambo (Blu-ray Disc)The Adventures of Baron Munchausen: 20th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray Disc)The Devil's Own (Blu-ray)

Okay, that's it for now. Everyone have a great weekend and we'll see you back here on Monday! Stay tuned...

3/13/08

Yep... it's that time of year once again, folks! We've gone through hundreds of DVD, Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD releases, looking for the best that 2007 had to offer. We made our lists and checked them twice. And now we've finally selected the winners - our picks for the best of the best - and we offer them up for your reading pleasure. I'd personally like to say thanks to the entire Bits staff for all their hard work, help and input again this year, and a special word of thanks to our own Dr. Jahnke who, like The Dude's rug, really ties the room together. Adam definitely keeps things on track with this process, and he puts a lot of hours into the writing side of it all too, which we appreciate. You might agree with our picks and even disagree with a few of them, but one thing's for sure - we've gone to great lengths to recognize as much hard work from as many talented people in the home video industry as possible. With luck, we'll even shine a deserving light on some great titles you may have missed last year too. I'll tell you... 2007 was a tough year to judge, what with no less than three formats and TONS of new and interesting features and releases to choose from. So without further beating around the bush, we humbly present to you...

The 9th Annual Digital Bits Bitsy Awards!

We certainly hope you enjoy it. If there are errors in the text (and there may be, as we've been working on this around the clock for a couple days now) let us know and we'll fix 'em. One final note: Throughout the awards, we've included Amazon order links for each title (in each format in which it's available). Anything you order through these links helps to support our ongoing efforts here at The Bits, and we appreciate it as always. Enjoy!

3/12/08

Well, folks... it's a REALLY slow news day so far, which is probably a good thing, because we've got a lot of work to finish on The Bitsy Awards if we're going to post them here tomorrow, which we are. There are a couple of quick things worth mentioning, however.

First up, Paramount has set The Spiderwick Chronicles: 2-Disc Special Edition for release on DVD on 6/24, along with full frame and anamorphic widescreen single-disc versions.

Also, we have some official details from Warner Home Video on their plans for Dirty Harry on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 6/3. The Dirty Harry: 2-Disc Special Edition DVD (SRP $20.97) and Blu-ray ($34.99) will include audio commentary by film critic Richard Schickel, 3 featurettes (The Long Shadow of Dirty Harry, Dirty Harry: The Original and Dirty Harry's Way), an interview gallery (included are Patricia Clarkson, Joel Cox, Clint Eastwood, Hal Holbrook, Evan Kim, John Milius, Ted Post, Andy Robinson, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Robert Urich), the 1993 TV Special Clint Eastwood: The Man from Malpaso and a trailer gallery for the Dirty Harry films.

The Dirty Harry: 2-Disc Special Edition will be available by itself, and also in Dirty Harry: Ultimate Collector's Edition, available as a 7-disc DVD box set (SRP $74.92) and a 5-disc Blu-ray box set ($129.95). The new Deluxe Editions of the other films in the series will ONLY be available in these box sets. In addition to the other films in the series, the box sets will also include the bonus feature-length documentary Clint Eastwood: Out of the Shadows, a 40-page hardcover book, a replica wallet (with metal badge and removable laminated I.D. card), a set of 5 reproduction lobby poster cards (5" x 7") plus an exclusive UCE card, a Scorpio Portrait of a Killer poster-sized (19" x 27") map of San Francisco detailing Harry's hunt for the killer and never-before-seen production correspondence. In terms of the other films, here's what each will include...

The Magnum Force: Deluxe Edition will include audio commentary by writer John Milius, 2 featurettes (A Moral Right: The Politics of Dirty Harry and The Hero Cop: Yesterday and Today) and a trailer gallery.

The Enforcer: Deluxe Edition includes audio commentary by director James Fargo, 2 featurettes (The Business End: Violence in Cinema and Harry Callahan/Clint Eastwood: Something Special in Films) and a trailer gallery.

The Sudden Impact: Deluxe Edition includes audio commentary by film critic Richard Schickel, The Evolution of Clint Eastwood featurette and a trailer gallery.

Finally, The Dead Pool: Deluxe Edition includes audio commentary by producer David Valdes and cinematographer Jack N. Green, The Craft of Dirty Harry featurette and a trailer gallery.

Around the Net today, Video Business has an interesting story up on Hollywood's fear - or more specifically, their lack of fear - about downloading taking over the packaged media business anytime soon. It's well worth a look to get a sense of what the current prevailing wisdom of the studios is about the future of physical media.

Finally, we want to take a moment to acknowledge the death of Dave Stevens, who passed away after a long fight with leukemia. He was just 52. Dave was a well-known comic artist and illustrator, who started his career as a storyboard artist for Hanna-Barbera. He went on to create scores of well known images, particularly "pin-up" art of Bette Page and other women. But he's best known by far for having created The Rocketeer, a character that was turned into a live-action feature film by Disney (which, by the way, needs a really good special edition treatment on DVD one of these days - maybe on Blu-ray too). Dave was a regular fixture at Comic-Con every summer, and he will absolutely be missed.

Okay, barring any late-breaking major news, we'll see you again tomorrow morning for The Bitsy Awards. Stay tuned until then...

3/11/08

Afternoon, folks! We hope all is well with you today.

First up here at The Bits, we've just kicked off FOUR new Giveaways, offering each of you the chance to take home DVD copies of Anchor Bay's Sands of Oblivion, New Line's Love in the Time of Cholera, Universal's Atonement and Franklin Film's John Tesh: Alive Music & Dance. Each of these giveaways will be open for entries until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, March 23rd. Click on the links to enter and good luck!

Also today, our own Russell Hammond has updated the Upcoming DVD Cover Art section per usual with all the latest DVD, Blu-ray and HD-DVD (what titles remain) cover art. As always, anything you order on the site through our links goes to support our work here at The Bits and we appreciate it.

In release news today, we finally have more details on Lionsgate's planned release of Rambo on 5/27. There will be a single-disc edition (SRP $29.95 - available in full frame and anamorphic widescreen), a 2-disc Special Edition ($34.98) and a 2-disc Blu-ray Special Edition ($39.99). The 2-disc DVD will include audio commentary by writer/director/star Sylvester Stallone, deleted scenes and 6 featurettes (Legacy of Despair: The Struggle in Burma, It's a Long Road: Resurrection of an Icon, A Score to Settle: The Music of Rambo, The Art of War: Completing Rambo, The Weaponry of Rambo and A Hero's Welcome: Release & Reaction), as well as a Digital Copy version of the film on the second disc. The Blu-ray Disc will add a Bonus View option to the commentary featuring picture-in-picture "exploration into the film's casting, locations and other filmmaking secrets," a MoLog option and a Rambo film series trailer gallery. Audio on the DVD will be Dolby Digital 5.1 EX, while the Blu-ray will feature DTS HD 7.1 Master Audio and Dolby Digital 5.1 EX. Also available on 5/27 will be a Rambo: The Complete Collector's Set on DVD and a Rambo I-III: Blu-Ray Disc Box Set, as well as individual Blu-ray releases of Rambo: First Blood, Part II and Rambo III.

Meanwhile, Sony has set Anger Management for release on Blu-ray on 5/20. The studio has also set Cleaner for release on DVD on 5/27, with American Crude following on 6/3.

Buena Vista has announced the DVD release of Minutemen on 5/27, including a never-before-seen alternate ending.

Universal has reconfirmed Charlie Wilson's War for DVD release on 4/22 in full frame and anamorphic widescreen versions. The HD-DVD release has been cancelled and a Blu-ray version is yet to be announced.

And Warner Home Video has set a Batman: Gotham Knight - 2-Disc Collector's Edition for release on DVD on 7/8 (SRP $29.98). The studio has also confirmed that the Dirty Harry: Ultimate Collector's Edition box set will street on DVD (SRP $74.92) and Blu-ray Disc (SRP $129.95) on 6/3. We'll have more details on the Dirty Harry discs soon.

Finally, Image Entertainment has cancelled its plans for further releases in the HD-DVD format. The company is, however, working on a number of new Blu-ray Disc titles, including Devil (due 4/15 on DVD and Blu-ray). The planned 4/8 HD-DVD release of IMAX titles The Alps, Coral Reef Adventure, Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag and Mystery of the Nile will now likely street on Blu-ray instead. Image will also be distributing ThinkFilm's Taxi to the Dark Side documentary on DVD in the 4th quarter. The doc recently won the Oscar for Best Documentary. You can read more at Home Media Retailing. Speaking of Image, the company just released the terrific Australian film Breaker Morant on DVD and Blu-ray Disc, and they're worth a look if you love the film as we do.

Okay, how about some artwork? Here's a look at Warner's Dirty Harry: Ultimate Collector's Edition box set, Lionsgate's Rambo: 2-Disc Special Edition, Hamburger Hill: 20th Anniversary Edition (5/20) and Speed Racer: The Next Generation - The Beginning (5/6), and Universal's The Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection: Volumes 1 & 2 (5/13) all on DVD, as well as Fox's The Longest Day on Blu-ray Disc (6/3)...

Dirty Harry: Ultimate Collector's EditionRambo: 2-Disc Special EditionHamburger Hill: 20th Anniversary Edition

Speed Racer: The Next Generation - The BeginningThe Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection: Volumes 1 & 2The Longest Day (Blu-ray)

Speaking of Speed Racer, there are a couple of great new international trailers for the upcoming Wachowski Brothers live-action movie over at The Movie Box.net. All I can say is... WOW. I'm getting more intrigued and excited by this film all the time. Can you imagine what the Blu-ray Disc is going to look like? If Warner works their technical magic properly, they might just have THE high-def video and audio reference disc of the year on their hands. I wish Lionsgate would finally release a complete box set of the original Speed Racer animated series, with some new (and worthy) extras. Cross your fingers.

One last note this afternoon: It looks like we're going to have The Bitsy Awards ready for posting on Thursday, so be sure to check back for them then.

Stay tuned!


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