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page updated: 6/18/08



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 6/5/08 - 5/16/08)


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6/5/08

Today is a bit of a slow news day, but we're working on a few things behind-the-scenes here at The Bits, including a new Golden Hollywood column from our own Rob Siegel. Watch for that soon.

Meanwhile, HBO has announced that it's finally releasing the classic Get Smart series on DVD in stores. Get Smart: Season One will street on 8/5 as a 4-disc set. The series has previously only been available as a complete series box set from Time Life. Presumably, the remaining seasons will follow in the months ahead.

Also, Universal has announced a box set of The Office: Seasons 1-4 on DVD on 9/2 (SRP $149.98). Also coming from the studio on 8/19 is a box set of House: Seasons 1-4 (SRP $189.98). Interestingly, Universal's press site seems to indicate that season one will be anamorphic widescreen (the original release of season one wasn't anamorphic). We'll work to confirm that.

And this is interesting: Video Business has a story on a new NPD report that would seem to indicate that the difficult economic times might actually help home video sales - as people cancel trips and travel, some polled consumers say they're going to spend more on buying and renting movie discs instead. It will be interesting to see how Blu-ray might benefit as player and disc sales drop in the months ahead.

Stay tuned...

6/4/08

Hey, what do you know? Our very own Dr. Adam Jahnke has just posted a new installment of Jahnke's Electric Theatre today, with reviews of Iron Man, Speed Racer (with a special comment by the mysterious Dr. Girlfriend!) and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Enjoy!

Also today, we've kicked off new Digital Bits Power Buys this afternoon, featuring special deals on Pioneer's forthcoming line of Kuro receivers. Also, there are only a few slots left for the soon-to-be-released Kuro plasmas, so act fast if you're interested. Click the link for all the details.

And we've got one more Brain Trust announcement for you today: For those of you bidding on our exclusive Blade Runner Premium Pass/Studio Tour auctions on eBay, we've got one more cool bit of news. The single highest bidder in these ten auctions will receive TWO special items. The first we can reveal right now: It's John Alvin's stunning "I've Seen Things" limited edition Giclee print donated by our good friends from Sideshow Collectibles (see details here and a high-resolution image here), and it will be signed by everyone from the cast and crew in attendance at the screening. The other item is still top secret - we can't reveal it yet. Rest assured, however, it will be VERY cool.

Okay... let's have some announcement news. Paramount has just set The Ruins for release on 7/8. Look for theatrical and Unrated DVD editions, as well as an Unrated Blu-ray Disc. Extras on the theatrical edition will include an alternate ending, 3 deleted scenes, 3 behind-the-scenes featurettes (Making The Ruins, Creeping Death and Building The Ruins), the theatrical trailer and audio commentary with director Carter Smith and editor Jeff Betancourt. The Unrated edition will add the original theatrical ending (in addition to the alternate ending). Running time on the theatrical edition is 90 minutes and the Unrated is 3 minutes longer. Audio on the DVDs will be Dolby Digital 5.1. The Blu-ray will feature Dolby TrueHD 5.1.

Meanwhile, Paramount's Beowulf Blu-ray Disc (due 7/29), will include the BeoWulf in the Volume interactive viewing option, 16 featurettes (A Hero's Journey: The Making of Beowulf, Beasts of Burden: Designing the Creatures of Beowulf, The Volume, "T" Time, What is the E.O.G.?, Lay of the Land, Givin' Props, Scanners, Stunts and Rigs, Plan of Attack, Fight Me, Baby It’s Cold Inside, The Origins of Beowulf, Creating the Ultimate Beowulf, The Art of Beowulf and A Conversation with Robert Zemeckis), deleted scenes, theatrical trailers and Easter eggs. All the video features will be full HD. Audio is Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Dolby Digital Plus 5.1.

Also, on the Jack Ryan front, Paramount is officially bringing all four films - The Sum of All Fears, The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger - to Blu-ray Disc on 7/29. We're waiting on official details, but we do know that the Patriot Games Blu-ray will include the Patriot Games Up Close featurette (SD) and the theatrical trailer (HD), with English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 as well as French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. We suspect the other films will include all of the previous DVD extras that were listed (but left off) the HD-DVD versions. This would include the Beneath the Surface featurette, audio commentary by director John McTiernan and the theatrical trailer on The Hunt for Red October, the Behind the Danger featurette and the theatrical trailer on Clear and Present Danger, and the two commentaries, 2 featurettes (The Making of The Sum of All Fears and Creating Reality: The Visual Effects of The Sum of All Fears) and the theatrical trailers on... yes, you guessed it... The Sum of All Fears.

What's more, whereas the HD-DVD version of Top Gun from Paramount was movie-only, the Blu-ray version (also 7/29) will be the full Top Gun: Special Collector's Edition with virtually all of the 2-disc DVD extras, including audio commentary by producer Jerry Bruckheimer, director Tony Scott, Jack Epps, Jr. and naval experts, the 6-part Danger Zone: The Making of Top Gun documentary, multi-angle storyboards with optional commentary by Tony Scott, 3 featurettes (Best of the Best: Inside the Real Top Gun, Behind-the-Scenes and Survival Training), interviews with Tom Cruise, TV spots and 4 music videos (Kenny Loggins' Danger Zone, Berlin's Take My Breath Away, Loverboy's Heaven in Your Eyes and Harold Faltermeyer and Steve Stevens' Top Gun Anthem). All the features are standard definition. Audio on the Blu-ray will be English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and DTS-MA 6.1, with French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1. Isn't it amazing how the Blu-ray version has room for all these extras and the HD-DVD didn't? I'll tell you, it sure is gratifying to see Paramount getting back on track with their high-def releases.

On the standard DVD front today, we've got some official details on Universal's The Big Lebowski: 10th Anniversary Edition (9/9 - SRP $19.98). It actually looks pretty cool. The 2-disc set will include the film in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include the introduction to the film by Mortimer Young, 5 featurettes (The Dude's Life, The Dude Abides: The Big Lebowski Ten Years Later, The Making of The Big Lebowski, The Lebowski Fest: An Achiever's Story, Flying Carpets and Bowling Pin Dreams: The Dream Sequences of the Dude), an interactive map, a photo gallery, production notes and the theatrical trailer. There's also something called Jeff Bridges Photo Book. I REALLY wish this was coming to Blu-ray Disc too, but given the less-than-stellar quality of the HD-DVD transfer, maybe they need to do more work on it.

Meanwhile, Warner has officially announced the DVD release of the Warner Gangsters Collection: Volume 4 on 9/23 (SRP $59.92). The set will include The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse, The Little Giant, Larceny, Inc., Invisible Stripes and Kid Galahad.

The studio is also re-issuing Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants on DVD on 7/29 (timed to promote the release of the sequel into theaters on 8/8). There's no word yet on a possible Blu-ray version.

Also today, BCI Eclipse has set John waters' 'Til Death Do Us Part: The Complete First Season for release on DVD on 7/1 (SRP $29.98).

And on the TV front, Arts Alliance America has set The Donna Reed Show: The Complete First Season for release on 8/28, in celebration of the program's 50th anniversary television debut. Season Two will reportedly street in 2009 (there were eight seasons in all).

Also, HBO (via Warner) will release Entourage: The Complete Fourth Season on DVD on 8/26 (SRP $39.98). The 3-disc set will reportedly include audio commentary on select episodes, interviews and a music video.

Finally, in other news, Wal-Mart will reportedly be offering a $100 gift car with the purchase of any Blu-ray Disc player from June 8th to June 14th as part of a Father's Day promotion.

Here's a look at some new cover artwork...HBO's Entourage: The Complete Fourth Season and Universal's The Big Lebowski: 10th Anniversary Edition on DVD, and Blu-ray Disc artwork for Paramount's Beowulf: Director's Cut, Shine a Light, The Ruins: Unrated and the Top Gun: Special Collector's Edition...

Entourage: The Complete Fourth SeasonThe Big Lebowski: 10th Anniversary EditionBeowulf: Director's Cut (Blu-ray Disc)

Shine a Light (Blu-ray Disc)The Ruins: Unrated (Blu-ray Disc)Top Gun: Special Collector's Edition (Blu-ray Disc)

Stay tuned!

6/3/08

Okay, first things first this afternoon: Paul's Brain Trust has officially kicked off the Blade Runner Premium Pass auctions on eBay today, with all the proceeds set to benefit our friend Paul Prischman. These passes include the screening, the exclusive guided tour of the Blade Runner locations on the Warner backlot hosted by director Ridley Scott, and a pair of gift items to include the Blade Runner: Five-Disc Complete Collector's Edition on Blu-ray Disc as well as an exclusive Blade Runner umbrella, featuring a light-up handle, just like the ones used in the film! Don't forget - the top bidder in these auctions will also receive an extremely cool, one-of-a-kind piece of Blade Runner history (to be announced soon)! The auctions will run until Sunday, June 8th. Click here (or on the image below) to view our auction page on eBay, and good luck!

Bid on our Blade Runner Premium Passes on eBay!

One other Brain Trust note: We've been asking people who purchased tickets for the Blade Runner screening to RSVP using a hotline phone number. However, people have been having trouble getting through, so the Brain Trust has created a special e-mail address for people to use instead (please include your contact information and the names of all people who will attend - one for each ticket purchased): bladerunnereventrsvp@gmail.com

Now then... we're pleased today to offer you Barrie Maxwell's latest Classic Coming Attractions column here at The Bits, featuring a Western Round-up of reviews, including Fox's Fox Western Classics (The Gunfighter / Rawhide / Garden of Evil) and The Big Trail, Universal's James Stewart: The Western Collection, VCI's The Phantom Empire and Cisco Kid Western Triple Feature, Hermitage Hill's The Scarlet Horseman, Warner's Tom Selleck Western Collection and The New Maverick, Sony's The Shadow Riders and Paramount's The Wild Wild West: Fourth Season, Rawhide: The Third Season: Volume 1 and Gunsmoke: The Second Season, Volume 2. Barrie also provides a short overview of the popular B western series The Three Mesquiteers, including reviews of all the double feature discs available from VCI. Finally, he also runs down the latest classic release announcements as usual. Enjoy!

And before we sign off, we've kicked off three new Giveaways here at The Bits today, giving each of you the chance to take home copies of Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Show from New Line, The List from Fox and even a trio of books for those of you interested in a good read: Jimmy Buffet's Swine Not?, Sebastian Faulks' Devil May Care (the new James Bond novel) and Stephenie Meyer's Host. All of these giveaways will open for entries until Noon (Pacific) on June 15th. Good luck!

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 6/2/08 - 5:30 PM PDT)

Okay... our own Russell Hammond has completed his weekly update of the Upcoming DVD Cover Art section, featuring lots of new DVD and Blu-ray Disc cover images, along with Amazon pre-order links. As usual, anything you order from Amazon through our links helps to support our work here at the site (and we appreciate it!).

Now then... we've got another big Blu-ray Disc announcement to report today. Buena Vista Home Entertainment has just revealed that they'll be delivering Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas: Collector's Edition on both DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 8/26. Both will include a Digital Copy version of the film as well (the studio is calling it a "DisneyFile"). The DVD will be a 3-disc set (SRP $32.99) - 2 DVDs and a third DVD disc with the DisneyFile. The Blu-ray Disc version (SRP $39.99) will be 2-disc - 1 BD and a DisneyFile DVD. For the serious Nightmare fan, there will also be an Ultimate Collector's DVD Gift Set (SRP $179.99) that will include the 3-disc DVD set plus "an individually numbered hand-painted bust of Jack Skellington in all his gory glory equipped with a Jack's 'Sandy Claws' hat and beard, a sound chip that plays memorable lines from the film and a letter of authenticity."

Extras on the DVD will include audio commentary by producer and writer Tim Burton, director Henry Selick and composer Danny Elfman, deleted scenes, 4 featurettes (The Making of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Worlds of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, What’s This?: Jack’s Haunted Mansion Holiday Tour and Introduction to Frankenweenie!), Tim Burton’s Original Poem (that inspired the film, narrated by Christopher Lee), storyboard to film comparisons, original theatrical trailers, a gallery of poster artwork and finally Tim Burton’s complete short film Vincent. The Blu-ray Disc will include all of this, as well as an all-new introduction to the film by Tim Burton. Video on both editions will be 1.66:1 aspect ratio anamorphic widescreen (the Blu-ray obviously in 1080p). Audio on the DVD will be Dolby Digital 5.1, while the Blu-ray will include Dolby TruHD 7.1, as well as Dolby Digital 5.1 (48/24).

In other announcement news today, Sony has set Maximum Risk, Half Past Dead, 7 Seconds and xXx: State of the Union for Blu-ray release on 8/12, along with the DVD release of Berenstain Bears: Always Look on the Bright Side, Berenstain Bears: Family and Friendship, Holly Hobbie & Friends: Fabulous Fashion Show, Holly Hobbie & Friends: Hey Girls!, Felon and The Art of War II: Betrayal (all due the same day).

In addition, Paramount has set just Martin Scorsese's Shine a Light concert film, featuring The Rolling Stones, for DVD and Blu-ray Disc release on 7/29. Both will include a behind-the-scenes featurette and 4 music videos (Undercover of the Night, Paint It Black, Little T&A and I'm Free).

Finally, Warner (for HBO) has set Recount for DVD only release on 8/19 (SRP $19.98).

Back tomorrow with more, so stay tuned!

(EARLY UPDATE - 6/2/08 - 11:45 AM PDT)

Morning, folks. Welcome to June! We've got a couple of news items to report this morning, and then we'll be back with more later this afternoon.

First, just a quick word of notice: Paul's Brain Trust will start the eBay auctions for the 10 Blade Runner screening Premium Passes tomorrow (Tuesday, June 3rd). We needed another day to finalize all the details. So be sure to check the link tomorrow.

Now then... here's the big release news today: I received an e-mail this morning from the folks at Paramount - they're now ready to OFFICIALLY confirm that Michael Bay's Transformers will arrive on Blu-ray Disc on 9/2 (SRP $39.99). And here's the official press release...

"FROM DIRECTOR MICHAEL BAY AND EXECUTIVE PRODUCER STEVEN SPIELBERG COMES THE HIGHLY-ANTICIPATED BLU-RAY RELEASE OF THE BLOCKBUSTER HIT

TRANSFORMERS

Arriving September 2, DreamWorks Pictures and Paramount’s #1 DVD Release of 2007 With Immersive Experiences for Fans of All Ages

HOLLYWOOD, CALIF. – TRANSFORMERS, the $700+ million smash hit from DreamWorks Pictures and Paramount Pictures, in association with Hasbro, rolls out in a fully-loaded, two-disc Blu-ray presentation on September 2, giving fans the chance to discover that there’s definitely “More Than Meets The Eye” to the legendary AUTOBOTS and DECEPTICONS. The highly-anticipated release is Paramount Home Entertainment’s first to incorporate BD Live capabilities.

The massive production exploded onto screens last year from the creative minds of director Michael Bay and executive producer Steven Spielberg, taking audiences by storm and becoming the top-selling DVD of 2007. The first live-action film based on the enduringly popular “robots in disguise”, TRANSFORMERS features the ultimate battle between good and evil, as the peace-loving AUTOBOTS seek to protect humanity from the evil forces of the DECEPTICONS. The action-packed film stars Shia LaBeouf (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), Josh Duhamel (“Las Vegas”), Tyrese Gibson (Four Brothers) and Megan Fox (“Hope & Faith”, as well as seasoned performers such as Jon Voight (National Treasure) and John Turturro (The Good Shepherd). Still, the biggest stars are the TRANSFORMERS robots themselves – including fan favorites OPTIMUS PRIME, MEGATRON, BUMBLEBEE, RATCHET, JAZZ and more – brought to life by revolutionary VFX techniques developed by the innovative digital wizards at Industrial Light & Magic (ILM).

The TRANSFORMERS Blu-ray presentation offers consumers an incredible movie experience, packed full of bonus material that delivers excitement and fun for long-time fans, as well as for viewers who are new to the TRANSFORMERS universe. Among the extensive special features, viewers can access commentary from director Michael Bay along with two documentaries that provide an in-depth look at the human elements of the film as well as the phenomenal robot stars. Presented in multiple parts, “Our World” and “Their War” include segments with Steven Spielberg discussing his love for the franchise and the early concept for the movie. The segments also cover the extensive casting process, the training, consultants and real-world weapons provided by the military to lend authenticity to the film, the evolution of the robots from Hasbro’s iconic toy line to big-screen stars, the unique vehicles created for the movie, a discussion with ILM’s legendary digital artists and much more.

The discs go even further behind-the-scenes with early sketch concepts of the robots and an in-depth look at the making of the SKORPONOK attack from writing and conceptualization through the creation of the stunning visual effects.

Out-Of-This World High-Def Content:

In addition to superior picture, sound and bonus material presented in high definition, the Blu-ray presentation provides consumers with sensational BD-Live features, allowing for compelling experiences around the film and the opportunity to maintain engagement with fans. Features include a TRANSFORMERS Intelligence Mode in which an on-screen dashboard over the film provides information about the robots and weapons, their strength levels, character updates, a GPS Locator and more. The TRANSFORMERS Profiler can be activated at any time during the film and allows viewers to access detailed information about the cast, voice talent and filmmakers including biographies and filmographies, as well as extensive production notes on the movie itself. The Menubots can be downloaded through BD-Live and give fans the option to customize their in-movie menus with Optimus Prime, Megatron or Bumblebee themes.

Additional on-disc features include the TRANSFORMERS H.U.D. (Heads Up Display), which lets viewers access running text commentary while watching the film and even view relevant behind-the-scenes footage in a picture-in-picture window; and the Tech Inspector, which delivers 360 detailed, high definition views of the heads, torsos and bases of six of the TRANSFORMERS with rotational capabilities.

TRANSFORMERS BLU-RAY

The Blu-ray disc is presented in 1080p High Definition with English in Dolby True HD, and French and Spanish versions in 5.1 Dolby Digital. The TRANSFORMERS Blu-ray includes the following special features:

Disc 1:

- Feature film

- Commentary by Director Michael Bay

- TRANSFORMERS H.U.D. (Heads Up Display)—In this mode, viewers can access running text-based behind-the-scenes background information on the production during the feature. Users can also watch relevant picture-in-picture b-roll and video with Bay, Spielberg and other filmmakers during select sequences.

- BD-Live Features: TRANSFORMERS Intelligence Mode, Menubots, TRANSFORMERS Profiler

Disc 2:

OUR WORLD

- The Story Sparks - Steven Spielberg discusses his love for the franchise and early concept art for the film. Explores how the writers adapted the cartoon into a live-action movie and why Michael Bay is the perfect director for the film.

- Human Allies - A look at how the actors were selected and their experiences on the set.

-I Fight Giant Robots - An exploration of the military training that Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson underwent for their roles and the various stunts that the actors were asked to perform.

-Battleground - A piece on the senior officials from the Department of Defense and Air Force who consulted on the film to give it authenticity and the key locations that the U.S. government provided access to.

THEIR WAR

- Rise of the Robots - Explores the interaction between Hasbro designers and Michael Bay to bring the toy line roaring to life.

- AUTOBOTS Roll Out - Michael Bay discusses working with Chevy and its designers and the modifications that were made to the cars seen in the film.

- DECEPTICONS Strike - The film’s military advisors discuss the “toys” they allowed the production to borrow: F-22 Raptors, Ospreys and A-10 Warthogs.

- Inside the AllSpark - ILM’s digital artists discuss the challenges of bringing the TRANSFORMERS to life.

- TRANSFORMERS Tech Inspector - Gives viewers an unprecedented look at the TRANSFORMERS robots through the exquisitely detailed models created by ILM artists. Users can zoom in on each detail for a closer examination and pause and change the rotation of the models.

MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE

- From Script to Sand: The SKORPONOK Desert Attack - An in-depth look at the making of this particularly epic and challenging scene from initial storyboarding through production and visual effects.

- Concepts - Early sketch concepts of the robots.

- Theatrical Trailers

Synopsis:

From director Michael Bay and executive producer Steven Spielberg comes a thrilling battle between the AUTOBOTS and the DECEPTICONS. When their epic struggle comes to Earth, all that stands between the evil DECEPTICONS and ultimate power is a clue held by Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf). Join the fight for mankind in the extraordinary adventure that “features some of the most spectacular action and effects sequences of any movie of its kind and will appeal to the kid in all of us” (Claudia Puig, USA Today)."


---END---

Finally this morning, we'd like to take a moment to acknowledge the passing of Robert H. Justman, who was a producer on Star Trek: The Original Series back in the day. It's been a tough couple of weeks for Trek fans it seems. Also gone today is guitarist Bo Diddley. Both will be missed.

Back later... stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 5/30/08 - 3:30 PM PDT)

WOW... that sure didn't take long! Our Blade Runner benefit screening with Ridley Scott for Paul's Brain Trust is now officially SOLD OUT. On behalf of Paul Prischman and his family, and all of us at the Brain Trust, thank you VERY much guys. Seriously, this means so much to all of us, and the money we've raised from ticket sales (with your help) will make a real difference. Not to mention, this event is going to be SERIOUSLY cool.

If for some reason you missed out on tickets, we are maintaining a wait list in the event that a few more tickets become available. Just e-mail this address to be added: braintrustwaitlist@gmail.com

Don't forget, if you DID get tickets, you still need to call the reservation line to RSVP for the event. We'll be posting a master list of all confirmed attendees on the screening page once everyone has checked in with the reservation line.

Our eBay auctions for the 10 Premium Screening/Tour Passes will begin on Monday, and again we're very pleased to announce that RIDLEY SCOTT himself will be leading the backlot tour for the winners, making this truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a few lucky Blade Runner fans.

And don't forget, you can still make a donation anytime (via PayPal) to help Paul and his family by visiting this link.

Our HUGE thanks once again to all of you who purchased tickets or donated to the Brain Trust. And to all the rest of you, thanks for your patience this week while we kicked off this effort on behalf of our friend.

Have a great weekend. See you Monday!

(LATE UPDATE - 5/30/08 - 3 PM PDT)

Okay guys, this is it: We are down to LESS THAN 20 TICKETS LEFT for the Blade Runner benefit screening. It looks like we WILL be selling out today, sometime in the next hour or two. So this is the last call for tickets if you want to be there! Note that we plan to maintain a wait list in the event a few tickets become available again (details to follow).

Also, in addition to director Ridley Scott, we're pleased to confirm that these members of the production team for the film plan to attend the event: Hampton Fancher (screenwriter), Syd Mead (visual futurist) and David Snyder (art director). Additional guests will be announced soon.

Finally, we're VERY pleased to reveal the identity of our special guide for the Premium Pass walking tour of the Blade Runner locations on the Warner backlot. It's none other than RIDLEY SCOTT himself! The eBay auctions for these 10 PREMIUM PASSES will start on Monday (6/2), so be sure to visit this link at the Brain Trust website in the next couple of days for more details. If you're lucky enough to win one of these passes, it'll be just you, nine of your fellow Blade Runner enthusiasts and Ridley on the tour, and if you're a fan of this film, it doesn't get any better than that.

We'll be back one more time today with the final announcement that tickets have sold out once it happens. And again, the Premium Pass auctions will begin on Monday.

Also on Monday, here at The Bits, we'll have a new column from Barrie Maxwell, and we've got additional columns from Rob and Adam coming next week as well, along with a number of new disc reviews.

Stay tuned!

(EARLY UPDATE - 5/30/08 - 2 AM PDT)

Morning, everyone. We've got a quick Brain Trust update, and then we'll have the regular DVD and Blu-ray news for you.

It looks like the Blade Runner screening event for Paul's Brain Trust is going to sell out sometime this weekend (possibly as soon as today). As of early this morning, we've sold about 75% of the available seats. So once more, if you want to be a part of the event, don't hesitate. Also, just a heads-up... it looks like we're going to kick off the eBay auctions for the ten Premium Passes on Monday. Again, these will allow you to attend the screening itself, followed by a personally guided walking tour of the Blade Runner locations on the Warner backlot. We'll be announcing the identity of our tour guide later today, so be sure to check back.

Now then... there's more sad news to report today. You may already have heard, comedian and actor Harvey Korman died yesterday. I'll always remember him fondly for his big screen collaborations with Mel Brooks, including Blazing Saddles, High Anxiety and History of the World, Part 1, not to mention his own TV work alongside Carol Burnett, Tim Conway and others. I'd forgotten, however, that his was the voice of The Great Gazoo on The Flintstones.

Also, I'm not sure how we missed this, but Laugh-In's Dick Martin has passed away too. Some of you are probably too young to remember him, but Martin was a fixture on TV screens in the 1960s and 70s. You can bet your sweet bippy he'll be missed.

Sadly, Joseph Pevney is gone as well. You might not recognize the name, but he directed some 35 feature films, as well as several of the best episodes of the original Star Trek TV series, including The City on the Edge of Forever.

That's a lot of talent right we've lost right there.

On a somewhat brighter note, and by way of announcement news, our friends over at Blue Underground have just... er, gone Blu(er). It's hard to remember that there was once a time, not so very long ago, when we thought we'd never even see The Final Countdown on DVD, much less in high-def, but it's now officially coming to Blu-ray. Hey - I think I just saw a pig fly past my office window! Also on the way are The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, The Stendhal Syndrome, Maniac, Vigilante, Fire and Ice, Dead & Buried, Two Evil Eyes, Uncle Sam and a whole bunch more. All will have DTS-HD and Dolby TruHD audio, some will include D-Box motion code and look for lots of extras. There is just one word for this news: NICE! I think it's safe to say, when The Final Countdown hits Blu-ray, the format has officially arrived.

In other announcement news, Lionsgate has set Belly and The Doors for Blu-ray release on 8/12 (SRP $29.99 each). Belly packs a deleted scene, a music video and several featurettes, while The Doors will feature Oliver Stone commentary, 2 documentaries (The Doors in L.A. and Jim Morrison: An American Poet in Paris) and 40 minutes worth of deleted and extended footage.

Meanwhile, Universal has set Life: Season One for release on 9/2 (SRP $29.98). Extras will include audio commentaries, deleted scenes (including one with a multi-angle option), a blooper reel and several featurettes.

And Warner Home Video has just set Lost Boys: The Tribe - Uncut for release on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 7/29 (SRP $27.95 and $35.99). Extras include alternate endings, G Tom Mac's Cry Little Sister music video, 3 Yeah Whatever music videos (Downfall, Hell Is Fun and It's Over Now) and 2 featurettes (Lost Boys: The Tribe - Action Junkies and Edgar Frog's Guide to Coming Back Alive). Here's the cover art, along with art for Sony's Vantage Point on Blu-ray (due 7/1)...

Lost Boys: The Tribe - UncutLost Boys: The Tribe - Uncut (Blu-ray Disc)Vantage Point (Blu-ray Disc)

Finally, don't forget that there's a new Battlestar Galactica on Sci-Fi tonight. We're also pleased as punch to finally be able to say that The Venture Bros. returns this Sunday to the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block (you'll be able to watch it online at Adult Swim.com later tonight). In the meantime, we invite you to enjoy the Ten Best Brock Sampson Beatdowns to whet your appetites. Oh, pretzel-bender! Yeah... that's good for a laugh.

New Battlestar... check. New Venture Bros... check. Final Countdown on Blu-ray... check. Life is good. It's the little things, you know?

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 5/29/08 - 5 PM PDT)

Afternoon, folks!

First, just a quick bit of business about the June 14th Blade Runner benefit screening with Ridley Scott for Paul's Brain Trust. WELL over half of the tickets for this event have sold in less than 24 hours, and they're going fast today. So if you're interested in attending, we would humbly suggest that you act quickly. Please though, we ask that you only purchase tickets if you actually plan to attend the event itself. If you just want to donate to the Brain Trust to help Paul and his family, you can do so here. Also, I wanted to mention that the eBay auctions for the 10 premium event passes (which include the exclusive guided walking tour of the Blade Runner locations on the Warner backlot) are set to begin on Monday. We'll be announcing the identity of the tour guide very soon.

Okay, now then... let's have some announcement news. Paramount has set the DVD release of Stop-Loss for 7/8.

On the Blu-ray front, Paramount seems also to have set (we believe officially this time, but we're working to confirm that) the Beowulf: Director's Cut for release on 7/29, along with the Patriot Games: Special Collector's Edition, The Sum of All Fears and the Top Gun: Special Collector's Edition. We're waiting for official details from the studio now as to the specs and extras, so stay tuned on that.

Speaking of Blu-ray... consider this Rumor Mill worthy, but we hear there's a good chance of Hellraiser coming to the format this fall from the good folks at Anchor Bay. I'm just saying.

Meanwhile, 20th Century Fox has set Nim's Island for release on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 8/5. Extras will include 3 featurettes, deleted scenes, commentary with stars Jodie Foster and Abigail Breslin, and a second commentary with directors Mark Levin and Jennifer Flackett.

We've got more details for you today on Sony's Starship Troopers 3: Marauder on DVD and Blu-ray Disc (due 8/5). Both will include the Evolution: The Bugs of Starship Troopers 3: Marauder and Enlist: Marauder's Mobile Infantry featurettes, an extended version of the It's a Good Day to Die music video, filmmaker commentary with writer/director Ed Neumeier, producer David Lancaster, and effects supervisor Robert Skotak, and a second commentary with Neumeier and actors Casper Van Dien and Jolene Blalock. The DVD will include a Digital Copy version as well, while the Blu-ray will add a picture-in-picture Marauder Mode viewing option, and BD-Live extras including additional featurettes and Put Yourself in the Film: Join the Fight!, which allows you to "upload your photo, become a trooper and insert yourself into key scenes in the film using BD-Live." Presumably, you'd create a user account and upload your photo online via your computer, then you can call up the account with your Blu-ray player and view the film with your image in it. SLP for Marauder on DVD is $27.96, with the Blu-ray clocking in at $38.96. The Starship Troopers Blu-ray Trilogy box set will carry an SLP of $89.95. While we're at it, here's a first look at the cover art...

Starship Troopers (Blu-ray Disc)Starship Troopers 3: Marauder (Blu-ray Disc)Starship Troopers Trilogy (Blu-ray Disc)

Reno 911! Miami - More Busted Than Ever Unrated CutBeetlejuice: 20th Anniversary Deluxe EditionBeetlejuice: 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (Blu-ray Disc)

As you can see, we also posted cover art for Fox's Reno 911! Miami - More Busted Than Ever Unrated Cut DVD (due 9/9), as well as both versions of Warner's Beetlejuice: 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (due 9/16).

Speaking of which, we've got some details for you on Beetlejuice as well. The DVD (SRP $19.96) will feature the film fully remastered in anamorphic widescreen video, and will include Danny Elfman's score as a music-only track, the film's theatrical trailer and 3 episodes of the Beetlejuice animated series (A-Ha, Skeletons in the Closet and Spooky Boo-tique). The Blu-ray (SRP $34.99) will include all of the same, with video in 1080p high-def and audio in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Dolby Digital Plus 5.1.

That's all for now. Stay tuned!

(EARLY UPDATE - 5/29/08 - 11 AM PDT)

Hey... so a funny thing happened yesterday after we posted that news about the Transformers Blu-ray being official. Paramount e-mailed me to say something on the order of, "Hey, where did you get that news? Because we haven't announced it yet." To their great surprise, the answer was their own home video press website. Chalk this up to a case of: Sometimes the left hand doesn't know what the right hand... etc. Anyway, so here's the deal: The news IS real, as it came right from the source. But it seems the source wasn't quite ready for the news to go out yet, and some of it is subject to change. It happens - no biggie. So that's where it sits. The OFFICIAL official announcement should happen soon, so until then, sit tight. At least you all know it's coming.

Okay, so we'll be back a little later with the usual announcement news and whatnot, but first... there's some sad news from the Trek world to report. Original Series composer Alexander Courage has passed away at the age of 88. Not only did he original the theme to classic Star Trek, he contributed music to such shows as Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Lost in Space, The Waltons, as well as many films. Our friend Jeff Bond (also our editor over at Geek Monthly) has written an appreciation of Courage over at TrekMovie.com, so do check it out. He says what we'd say, better than we'd say it. We'll simply leave you with this...



Back later this afternoon. Stay tuned...

5/28/08

Okay... it's Noon. And we promised you a big fundraising event announcement for Paul's Brain Trust, didn't we? Okay, here it is (our regular post begins after this)...

Paul's Brain Trust is pleased to present a fundraising event that's sure to become legend...

The Ultimate Screening of Blade Runner: The Final Cut, presented in stunning 2K digital projection in the state-of-the-art Stephen J. Ross Theatre on the Warner Bros. Studios lot in Burbank, California! The screening will take place on Saturday, June 14th at 2PM (Pacific), and will be be followed by Q&A with director Ridley Scott and members of the cast and crew (TBA). Everyone who attends will receive a limited edition Blade Runner collectible courtesy of Warner Home Video. Tickets are just $50 each.

We will also soon be auctioning (through eBay) TEN Premium Passes for an amazing opportunity that no serious Blade Runner fan will be able to pass up: A private walking tour of the Blade Runner locations on the Warner Bros. backlot, hosted by one of our special guests from the film. Premium pass holders will also receive a Blade Runner gift bag, including a rare collectible item, and our top bidder will win a one-of-a-kind piece of Blade Runner history!

All proceeds from tickets sales and will go straight to help Paul Prischman and his family.

Click here (or on the graphic below) to visit the official event page, where you can purchase Blade Runner screening tickets. And be sure to visit the Paul's Brain Trust website in the coming days for details on when the Premium Pass auction will open for bidding.

Paul's Brain Trust presents Blade Runner with Ridley Scott!

See? Told you the event was going to be cool! The Blade Runner screening is just the first of several fundraising events the Brain Trust has cooking, so thanks for checking it all out. And we hope to see you there!

Okay... now for our regular post...

First up today, our own Russell Hammond has once again updated the Upcoming DVD Cover Art section with all the latest DVD and Blu-ray cover art, as well as Amazon preorder links. There are lots of great new titles in there, so do check it out.

Let's have some DVD and Blu-ray announcement news...

Here's the biggie: Paramount and DreamWorks have officially confirmed that Michael Bay's 2-disc Transformers: Special Edition is coming to Blu-ray Disc on 9/2. It looks as though the set will include nearly everything that was on the HD-DVD version (including the Heads-up Display option), along with BD-Live features to be announced. All the video extras will be in full HD. Get this... audio will be available in Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital Plus 5.1, Dolby TrueHD 5.1 AND Uncompressed PCM 5.1. Again, we're told that the film itself also has a new video encode, optimized for Blu-ray, supervised by Bay himself. Nice. We'll post more details and artwork as they come in from the studio.

By the way, Paramount and DreamWorks have also set Madagascar and Shrek the Third for Blu-ray release on 9/16. Again, we'll post more details as they come in.

Transformers fans will also be pleased to hear that Paramount will release the most recent Transformers: Animated Season One as a 2-disc set on standard DVD on 8/19.

Also coming on 9/2 from Paramount are Cheers: The Tenth Season and Ghost Whisperer: The Third Season (Bay's Transformers will be repromoted on standard DVD then as well). On 9/9, look for Alvin and the Chipmunks Go to the Movies: Daytona Jones and the Pearl of Wisdom, Medium: The Fourth Season, Wings: The Seventh Season and a repromotion of Zodiac on DVD (which makes us wonder if the studio isn't about to announce the film on Blu-ray for 9/9 as well). Following on 9/16 are Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Complete Book 3 DVD Collection Box Set, Criminal Minds: The Third Season and a Star Trek: Alternate Realities - Fan Collective box set (includes 20 episodes from all five Trek series plus exclusive extras). Finally, This American Life: The First Season streets on 9/23.

Meanwhile, Fox has just set Reno 911!: Miami - Movie: More Busted Than Ever Unrated Cut for release on DVD only on 9/9 (SRP $19.98). The disc will contain an 83-minute unrated version of the film in anamorphic widescreen video, along with a 68-minute "Lost Version" that the producers prefer. The Lost Version features an introduction by the cast, audio commentary by writer/director Robert Ben Garant and writers Thomas Lennon and Kerri Kenney-Silver, extended scenes with optional commentary, a blooper reel, 3 PSAs, a trailer, an Easter egg and a Digital Copy version of the film.

Fox is also releasing Shutter: Unrated on DVD and Blu-ray on 7/15.

Sony has officially announced Starship Troopers for release on Blu-ray Disc on 8/5. Extras will include Blu-ray exclusive FedNet "Bonus View" Picture-in-Picture mode and an interactive Recruitment Test, along with audio commentary by director Paul Verhoeven and writer Ed Neumeier. Starship Troopers: Marauder is also coming to DVD and Blu-ray on 8/5, as is a Starship Troopers 3-Film Box Set on both DVD and Blu-ray (it includes all three films - the only way to get Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation on Blu-ray for the time being).

Also announced by Sony for release on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 7/22 is the Vegas card-caper flick 21, directed by Robert Luketic.

Universal has set a number of catalog titles for release on DVD on 8/5, including a Weird Science: Flashback Edition, a Sixteen Candles: Flashback Edition and The Breakfast Club: Flashback Edition (SRP $19.98 each), as well as a High School Flashback Collection box set containing all three films (SRP $39.98). Universal has also announced The Office: Season Four for DVD release on 9/2 as a 4-disc set (SRP $49.98), as well as The Big Lebowski: 10th Anniversary Edition on 9/9. SRP for Lebowski is $19.98 for the 2-disc set and $34.98 for the set in "limited edition bowling packaging." We suspect these catalog titles are simply re-issues of the previous DVD versions, but we'll work to confirm that.

Finally, Warner has announced (for its New Line label) the 7/29 DVD and Blu-ray Disc release of Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay. Look for an R-rated standard DVD edition, and 2-disc Unrated DVD and Blu-ray editions.

Here's something very cool as well: Warner has set a Beetlejuice: Deluxe Edition for release on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 9/16. Fans have been waiting a long time for that. More details tomorrow.

And other titles newly announced by Warner for DVD release include One Tree Hill: The Complete Fifth Season on 8/26 and Two and a Half Men: The Complete Fourth Season on 9/23.

In news from around the Net today, fans of Sci-Fi's Battlestar Galactica might want to check out this interview with series producer Ron Moore on Wired.com. Pretty good stuff in there.

Video Business has a story up on how Paramount has returned many of its older catalog Blu-rays to store shelves, much to the delight of retailers.

Also, those of you who followed the Phoenix Mars Lander's touchdown this past weekend might be dazzled by the image linked here. NASA had another probe that's orbiting the red planet (the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter) take a stunning photo of Phoenix as it drifted down to the surface on its parachute. The difficulty of getting this shot - of remotely pointing a camera on a fast-moving spacecraft at exactly the right spot to catch this image of another fast-moving spacecraft - is huge. The fact that they actually pulled it off is equally impressive. Amazing stuff.

And back on a movie-related topic, our friend Mojo has updated his blog again with something you Star Wars fans might be interested in. Remember The Phantom Edit? Well, it turns out the editor who created it, Mike J. Nichols, did a second such edit of Attack of the Clones. And it turns out that, like Episode I, cutting out all the fat and slapstick makes Episode II even better. Check it out.

Finally today, a little more sad news: If I could whistle the theme to The Andy Griffith Show for you right now, I would. Why? Well, the fellow who originally whistled it back in the day has passed away. His name was Earle H. Hagen, and he was a prolific composer, whose TV work included the themes to I, Spy, The Mod Squad, The Dick Van Dyke Show and many more. You can read more here via CNN.

Stay tuned!

5/27/08

Morning, everyone. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend.

Unfortunately, we come back to you this morning with some very sad news. Word came in late yesterday that actor and director Sydney Pollack has died. He was 73. Apparently, he was diagnosed with cancer just 9 months ago, and it's taken his life. Pollack directed such classics as Three Days of the Condor, Out of Africa (for which he won an Oscar), Tootsie, Jeremiah Johnson, The Way We Were and The Electric Horseman, to name but a few. As an actor, he appeared in many other films, including Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut, The Majestic, Changing Lanes and most recently Michael Clayton. You can read more here at CNN.

News of Pollack's passing (and particularly the cause of it) makes my next comments that much more relevant, so please indulge me for a moment in this...

A couple of months ago, I received a phone call from a good friend of mine, a fellow by the name of Paul Prischman. I've known Paul for... wow, ten years now? To call him a friend of The Bits would be a significant understatement. I first met him back in 1998, when he was working at Dave Video: The Laser Place, a beloved (and now defunct) haunt for every L.A. area movie fan back in the day. Paul used to coordinate a lot of the DVD signing events for Dave's, as well as the infamous Studio Day events, at which I was a regular figure. When Dave's closed a few years back, Paul began working with another old friend of ours here, DVD producer Charles de Lauzirika. At the time, Charlie was working to finish the Alien Quadrilogy box set, so he brought Paul on to help with that. That was, I think, 2003? They've been working together on DVD projects ever since, with Paul serving as an associate producer on such special editions as Kingdom of Heaven (both versions), the Spider-Man 2: Special Edition, the Gladiator: Extended Edition and most recently, the outstanding Blade Runner: Ultimate Collector's Edition box set.

Anyway, so back to Paul's call. He'd been working from home in the previous weeks, feeling under the weather, but doctors hadn't been able to figure out what was wrong... until they finally did. He'd called to say that he'd been diagnosed with cancer, which turned out to be a really aggressive brain tumor, and that he was about to have it removed. What do you say when your friend tells you something like that? I think I swore a couple of times, and just listened as he talked about how upbeat he was, and that he had the best doctors and a great treatment plan. And all I could think about was my friend, and his wife Cristin and their two young daughters. Soon I called Charlie, who had been talking to a pair of Paul's other friends, Christopher Drake and Jared Rivet, both obviously determined to help Paul in any way they could. As it happens, Paul's insurance (not surprisingly) was only going to cover a small portion of the treatment he needed, which meant that Paul and Cristin were facing serious debt. What came out of all this was something called Paul's Brain Trust, an organized effort by Paul's friends to help raise money for him and his family.

We've established a website with information about Paul (hosted here at The Bits), where you can donate money to help his family through PayPal. We're also going to be hosting online auctions of one-of-a-kind movie collectibles (props, signed art and the like, donated by Paul's many friends throughout the film industry). What's more, tomorrow at Noon (Pacific) we'll be announcing the first of several fundraising events for Paul here in the L.A. area. What we're announcing tomorrow is EXTREMELY cool - a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will be of interest to almost any movie fan.

Paul has given so much to movie fans around the world through his film and DVD work over the years, that it's our hope those fans will want to give a little something back to help Paul in his time of need. So we hope you'll visit the Paul's Brain Trust website to learn more about him, that you'll consider making a donation, and that you'll help spread the word. And be sure to check back both here and on the Brain Trust site tomorrow at Noon (Pacific) for our special event announcement. If you're a fan of big screen science fiction, you're not going to want to miss it. And on behalf of Paul, and his many friends and family, thanks for listening.

Support Paul's Brain Trust!Help Paul with a donation via PayPal

Now for some more upbeat news: The official WETA website has posted the transcript of a great online chat with directors Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro, in which they answer many questions about their collaboration on the forthcoming Hobbit films, for which writing and preproduction has already begun. There's a TON a great information in there for Rings fans, but perhaps the best bit for fans of those films on disc is direct confirmation that Jackson and company have already begun working on Blu-ray Disc versions of The Lord of the Rings films with Warner Home Video. Before you get your hopes up too high, however, our sources tell us you may not see them in stores until around the time the first Hobbit film hits in theatres in 2011. But that could change, so keep checking back here for updates.

Finally this morning, our sources also tell us to expect an official announcement from Paramount and DreamWorks VERY soon regarding Michael Bay's Transformers coming to Blu-ray Disc later this year. We even hear the film is getting a new encode, optimized for the Blu-ray format. We'll see.

Stay tuned...

5/26/08

Morning, folks! Hope you're all having a nice Memorial Day weekend. A special shout-out to you veterans today, as well as all you folks serving overseas - we hope this day finds you all well.

So Matt and I, along with our wives, happened to catch Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull yesterday morning. I'm sure you've seen or read a million reviews by now. Turns out, the film is (thankfully) much better than I was expecting. It's not great or amazing or anything, but I guess liked it as much as I liked the last two films, so you know... you don't go into an Indy film expecting Shakespeare. All of the classic Indy charm is there, and Harrison Ford really delivers. I suspect he hasn't had this much fun working on a film in at LEAST a decade, and it shows on screen. What's more, Cate Blanchett chews up the scenery as Irina Spalko, and as Matt noted after the screening, she's the most purely perfect thing in the whole film. Her character would have been right at home in ANY of the Indy films, much less this one, so casting her turned out to be a real coup. For the entire first half of Indy IV, you're thinking, "Okay... I remember this" and it's a really good feeling, like putting on an old comfortable pair of jeans. You know the kind - they're worn out and they've got a couple of holes in them, but you just kind of smile fondly every time you put them on before you go about your business. The first half of this film is kinda like that. The thing I REALLY dig here is that Spielberg and DP Janusz Kaminski not only shot this on film, the cameras and film stock they chose have the effect of perfectly recreating the vintage look that all the Indy films had. Indy IV looks like it could have been shot back in the 1980s, and the feel is perfect. I've heard that Lucas tried to get them to shoot this digitally, and thank god Spielberg had other plans. To all you guys bitching about grain on Blu-ray, listen up: You want to know what film is supposed to look like? Go see Indy IV.

On the down-side, Kingdom does have some pacing issues that start to show up once the globe-trotting begins. Remember how those early trailers for the film exhibited serious editorial problems, where the beats were all wrong and the timing of the jokes was off? Well, the good news is that the film is much better than that. The bad news is that the editing is still off just enough to really suck some of the dramatic tension and energy out of even the most fast-paced action scenes. The other problem with the film is that this story is really the worst-kept secret in Hollywood. Unless you're an Internet or movie geek newbie, there are absolutely no surprises in this film that you either A) didn't already know about or B) couldn't see coming from a mile away. About ten years ago, I read a script for an Indy IV by Jeb Stuart, subtitled The Saucer Men from Mars, and much of this film covers the same ground. Bits of the other infamous drafts appear as well, and the amalgam is at times rather clunky, with a little too much exposition weighing things down. Still, for all its flaws, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is an enjoyably familiar experience. Like warm milk on a sleepless night, it goes down easy and somehow always manages to do the job. As Todd said of the film the other night after he'd seen it, "It's totally watchable." Or as my Mom put it the other day, after she'd seen it (before me, I might add, which is something she'll be razzing me with for months), "Oh wow, it's REALLLLY great!" And I think that pretty much says everything you need to know about Indy IV. I have a feeling we haven't seen the last of Henry Jones, Jr. and his dusty hat. Lucas had better grease up the scriptwerks, however, because if he takes as long with the next screenplay as he did here, Shia LaBeouf will be an old man before we see it.

There's not much on the news front today, given the holiday weekend. There is one thing worth mentioning though. Consider this Rumor Mill-worthy until it's officially announced, but our industry sources have checked in with confirmation that Paramount is readying a new Blu-ray edition of Michael Bay's Transformers for release in the 3rd quarter (the unofficial street date is 9/2, but that could change). We know the studio has been working on the title for a while now (think of it as Paramount's OTHER worst-kept secret), and the rumors are further backed by the fact that the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) has just cleared some of the special features due to be included on the set. Transformers, Top Gun, the Godfather films and the Indy films? This could be a BIG Blu holiday for Paramount.

By the way, the Phoenix Mars Lander touched down safely yesterday afternoon, and has started sending back the first pictures of the Martian arctic. Pretty cool stuff. Indy would be impressed. Hats off to all you folks at JPL, the CSA and the University of Arizona (etc) who are involved in the project. Time to start scooping some dirt!

We'll be back tomorrow with more, and we've got a couple new reviews and columns from our staff writers coming this week as well. 'Til then, stay tuned...

5/23/08

Afternoon everyone! We've got a couple cool things for you today to close out another week.

First, our very own Adam Jahnke has turned in his Bottom Shelf column for this week, featuring a review of David Lynch's long-awaited Lost Highway, now available on DVD from Universal. Adam loves the film, but was somewhat less than impressed with the disc unfortunately. Do check it out.

In announcement news today, 20th Century Fox has set Tru Calling: The Complete Series as an 8-disc set for DVD release on 8/12 (SRP $59.98). Fox has also set an Alice Faye Collection: Volume 2 for release on 8/26 (SRP $49.98), due to include The Great American Broadcast, Four Jills in a Jeep, Rose of Washington Square, Hollywood Cavalcade and Hello, Frisco, Hello. Each will also be available separately. Also available individually on 8/26 will be The Gang's All Here, Lillian Russell (1940), On the Avenue and That Night in Rio (1941).

Universal has set House: Season Four for DVD release on 8/19 (SRP $59.98). The 4-disc set will offer video in anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include a gag reel, audio commentaries with members of the cast and crew, 5 featurettes (New Beginnings, Meet the Writers, The Visual Effects House, Anatomy of a Crash and My Favorite Season 4 Episode) and a sneak peek of Season 5. Also coming from Universal on 9/9 is Barbie & The Diamond Castle.

And here's the big news today... Warner Home Video has just announced the DVD and Blu-ray Disc release of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles - The Complete First Season for 8/19. The DVD will be a 3-disc set (SRP $29.98) with all 9 episodes in anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. The Blu-ray Disc will also include all 9 episodes on 3 discs (SRP $39.99) in full 1080p video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio (we're working to confirm the audio spec). Extras on both versions will include episode audio commentaries (by executive producers Josh Freidman and John Wirth, along with cast members Summer Glau, Thomas Dekker and more), deleted scenes, a gag reel, cast audition video (for Lena Headey, Thomas Dekker and Richard T. Jones), video of Summer Glau's dance rehearsal, a storyboard animatic, the Creating the Chronicles featurette and an extended cut of the episode The Demon Hand.

Warner has also announced Pushing Daisies: The Complete First Season for release on 9/16 on both DVD (SRP $29.98) and Blu-ray Disc (SRP $39.99). Each will be a 3-disc set containing all 9 episodes. Extras on the DVD (and we suspect on both versions) will include the Pie Time: Time for Pie interactive featurette and something called Cast/Creative Team Members Dishing Forkfuls of Series Secrets.

Still not done with Warner... the studio has also set Torchwood: The Complete Second Season for DVD release as a 5-disc set on 9/16 for the BBC. No Blu-ray has been announced. But here's the kicker, Warner and the BBC HAVE announced the Blu-ray Disc release of Torchwood: The Complete First Season on 9/16. That will be a 6-disc set with (it appears) all of the extras from the previous DVD edition. Audio will be DTS (at least according to Warner's press site). We'll post more on the extras and specs as soon as they're announced and confirmed.

Here's cover art for both the DVD and Blu-ray Disc versions of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles - The Complete First Season, the DVD art for both Pushing Daisies: The Complete First Season and Torchwood: The Complete Second Season, and both versions of Lionsgate's The Bank Job (7/15)...

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles - The Complete First SeasonTerminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray Disc)Pushing Daisies: The Complete First Season

Torchwood: The Complete Second SeasonThe Bank JobThe Bank Job (Blu-ray Disc)

In news around the Net today, Video Business is reporting that high-end electronics retailers expect Blu-ray players to begin outselling DVD players by August, as the supply of new models grows enough to meet demand.

Finally, VB is also reporting that both Target and Borders stores are increasing their shelf space for Blu-ray Disc titles. Though the story doesn't mention it, Barnes and Noble is starting to do the same. I was at a BN store in Newport Beach, CA the other day which had a big "Blu-ray Disc is Here!" sign in the front window.

Just FYI, there's no new Battlestar tonight - the next one is next Friday. Monday is Memorial Day, so there's not likely to be much news, but we'll probably check back in with an update anyway. Don't forget: The Phoenix Mars Lander touches down on Sunday night. Looks like the Discovery Science channel will be carrying the event live, and you can watch online as well. In the meantime, we wish all of you a great (and safe) holiday weekend with your family and friends. Go see Indiana Jones or something (you can bet we will).

Stay tuned!

5/22/08

Okay, first up today, here at the site we've kicked off a new Digital Bits Power Buy on Pioneer's new 60" and 50" Kuro plasmas, and updated our pre-order deal on Pioneer's forthcoming BDP-05FD flagship Blu-ray Disc player. Click here for all the details.

In Blu-ray hardware news, a few days ago we reported that Wal-Mart is about to begin selling a Magnavox-branded Blu-ray Disc player (made by Funai in Japan) for just $298. You might be interested to know that Best Buy will soon be selling essentially the same player, branded with its own Insignia label, for $348.

Also, Matt over at MusicTAP sent me this today: TWICE is reporting that Denon is considering making a Blu-ray Disc player that offers DVD-Audio and SACD playback capability.

Meanwhile today, on the software front, Universal has released a little more information about its 7/22 Blu-ray slate, set to include The Mummy, The Mummy Returns and The Scorpion King (SRP $29.98 each). The Mummy and The Mummy Returns will be BD-50 discs, The Scorpion King will be BD-25. All will offer DTS HD Master Audio, as well as tickets to see The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. The Mummy will include deleted scenes, audio commentary with director/writer Stephen Sommers and executive producer/editor Bob Ducsay, a second commentary with actor Brendan Fraser, a third commentary with actors Oded Fehr, Kevin J. O'Connor and Arnold Vosloo, 4 featurettes (Visual and Special Effects Formation, An Army to Rule the World, Part 1, History of "The Mummy" Franchise and Building a Better Mummy), a storyboard to film comparison, a photo montage and a sneak peek of The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. The Mummy Returns will include outtakes, audio commentary with director/writer Stephen Sommers and executive producer/editor Bob Ducsay, 5 featurettes (An Army to Rule the World, Part 2, Unraveling the Legacy of The Mummy, Visual and Special Effects Formation, An Exclusive Conversation with The Rock and Spotlight on Location), a storyboard to film comparison, Live's Forever May Not Be Long Enough music video and a sneak peek of The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. This makes both titles essentially identical to the new Deluxe Edition DVDs that street on 7/8. Also, The Scorpion King Blu-ray will include audio commentary with director Chuck Russell.

Warner has set the American Girl: 3-Pack for release on standard DVD on 6/17 (SRP $59.42). The set will include Felicity: An American Girl Adventure, Molly: An American Girl on the Home Front and Samantha: An American Girl Holiday. Also newly announced by Warner for DVD release is I-See-You.com: Uncut on 9/16 (SRP $24.98). Extras will include additional scenes, cast and crew interviews and the trailer.

Lionsgate has revealed their July DVD and Blu-ray release slate, set to include Care Bears King of the Moon, Dead and Gone, Mad Men: Season One (DVD and Blu-ray), Only the Valiant, Tyler Perry's Meet the Browns, Wide Awake, Bob the Builder: Let's Build the Beach, Fireman Sam to the Rescue and House of Payne: Volume 2 all on 7/1, Bone Eater and Dungeon Girl on 7/8, Trapped Ashes, The Bank Job, a Held Up re-issue, a Secretary re-issue, Monsieur Vincent and Bratz Interactive: L'il Bratz Party Time on 7/15, Twin Daggers, Un Flic and the Andre Techine 4-Film Collection (includes Wild Reeds (Les Roseaux Sauvages), My Favorite Season (Ma Saison Préféree), I Don't Kiss (J'Embrasse Pas) and Hotel America (Hôtel des Ameriques)) on 7/22, and Hopeville, Side Sho, Extasis, Barrio and a Permanent Midnight re-issue on 7/29.

Also, fans of Top Gun who are looking for Paramount's long overdue Blu-ray version take note: Amazon has just listed the street date for the Blu-ray version as 7/29. We expect an official announcement from the studio shortly.

And we have more details for you today on Image Entertainment's DVD and Blu-ray Disc release of The Discovery Channel's When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions miniseries (visit the official website here), which will air on the network beginning on 6/8. The series has been created to celebrate NASA's 50th Anniversary, using stunning, remastered high-definition film and video footage from the space agency vaults. The Discovery Channel Store says the DVD will be available on 7/10 (SRP $69.95) and the Blu-ray version on 7/24 (SRP $79.95), though we have OFFICIALLY confirmed with Image Entertainment that both the DVD and Blu-ray will street on 9/30, so disregard the July dates. In any case, both versions will include all 6 episodes (Ordinary Supermen, Friends and Rivals, Landing the Eagle, The Explorers, The Shuttle and A Home in Space), covering everything from the very first NASA crew selections to the moon landings, the construction of the International Space Station and beyond. Also available in both versions will be an additional 5 hours worth of bonus features including more digitally-restored NASA film footage, mission clips and astronaut interviews (with John Glenn, Buzz Aldrin, Charlie Duke and others). Here's a sneak peek at the early cover art for the DVD version...

When We Left Earth: The NASA MissionsNHK Kaguya/Earthrise (Blu-ray Disc)The BBC High-Definition Natural History Collection (Blu-ray Disc)

As you can see, we've also included the Blu-ray art for the NHK's Kaguya/Earthrise Blu-ray (6/18) and also The BBC High-Definition Natural History Collection (distributed by Warner, due 7/22).

While we're talking space, and as it's my job to keep you plugged into all the cool space-related news, you might be interested to learn that NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory are getting ready to land a new spacecraft on the surface of Mars this weekend. NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander will hopefully touch down on the north pole of the red planet on Sunday, shortly before 5 PM (Pacific). You can watch the events in JPL's Mission Control live on NASA TV, starting at 3:30 PM (Pacific).

Meanwhile, there's an appropriations bill working its way through Congress right now (read more here) that would name NASA's future Moonbase. Some of you may be aware that the space agency is currently planning to return humans to the Moon by 2020, and the idea is to stay this time, by building a research station. If the bill passes, that station would officially be named the Neil A. Armstrong Lunar Outpost. Nice. Can you imagine how cool it's going to be to watch people return to the moon in 1080p high-definition?

Speaking of the Moon, anyone want to send their name there? Visit this page on NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) website and you can add your name to a database that will be carried aboard the spacecraft later this year.

Finally, let's bring all this back to DVD, shall we? Have you ever wondered what it might be like to watch a movie in space? Well, from GovernmentAttic.org, here's a complete list (PDF format - as of June 2008) of all the books and DVDs currently aboard the International Space Station for the astronauts and cosmonauts to enjoy in their free time. Some good stuff up there. No Big Lebowski, but Fargo and O Brother at least. I suppose it's not a bad way to spend a weightless evening's entertainment, though I think I'd rather look out the window instead.

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

5/21/08

Okay... we're back to normal here at The Bits' West Coast offices. Thanks for your patience these last few days while my family's been visiting. We spent a lot of time at the beach (a big deal when you live in North Dakota) and a good time was had by all, as they say. So... let's catch you all up on the latest news.

First though, we've kicked off FIVE new Giveaways, offering each of you the chance to take home copies of The Judi Dench Collection, Helen Mirren at the BBC, Cranford, Daphne, Stonewall, the Sinatra: Two-Disc Collector's Edition, Tchaikovsky: The Tragic Life of a Musical Genius, The Buddha of Suburbia, The Bill Engvall Show: The Complete First Season and Darfur Now all from Warner and the BBC, Anchor Bay's Girls Just Want to Have Fun and The Lather Effect, Sony's Saawariya, Paramount's Avatar: The Last Airbender - Book 3: Fire, Volume 3 and, finally, Shout! Factory's Stargate Infinity: The Complete Series. Entries will be accepted until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, June 1st. Click on the links to get started and good luck!

Also today, our own Russell Hammond has once again updated the Upcoming DVD Cover Art section with all the latest DVD and Blu-ray cover scans. All of the titles listed can be pre-ordered from Amazon.com, and doing so through our links helps support our work here at The Bits. As always, we greatly appreciate it.

Now then... in announcement news today, Buena Vista has revealed that they're re-releasing The Fox and the Hound: 25th Anniversary Edition on DVD in September, along with The Fox and the Hound 2, the Robin Hood: Most Wanted Edition, Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas and Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas.

20th Century Fox has set My Sassy Girl for DVD release on 8/19 (SRP $27.98). The film stars Elisha Cuthbert and Jesse Bradford, and is based on the Korean graphic novel by Kim Ho-sik (as well as a Korean film version of the same). Fox has also set a Tyrone Power Matinee Idol Collection box set for DVD release on 7/29 (SRP $49.98) featuring Luck of the Irish, This Above All, Love Is News, Johnny Apollo, Girl's Dormitory, Day-time Wife, I'll Never Forget You, Second Honeymoon, Café Metropole and That Wonderful Urge.

Lionsgate has announced The Bank Job for release on 7/15. Single-disc DVD (SRP $29.95), 2-disc DVD ($34.98) and 2-disc Blu-ray ($39.99) versions will be available. Both 2-disc versions will include extended scenes, the Inside The Bank Job and The Baker Street Bank Raid featurettes, the theatrical trailer and a Digital Copy version of the film (on the second disc).

New Line has set Legend of the Shadowless Sword for DVD release on 8/12 (SRP $19.97).

Paramount has revealed that Drillbit Taylor will be released on DVD on 7/1, in two DVD editions - a Drillbit Taylor: Extended Survival Edition and a standard theatrical edition. Both will feature audio commentary by Steven Brill, Kristofor Brown, Troy Gentile, Nate Hartley, David Dorfman, a second The Writers Get a Chance to Talk commentary with Kristofor Brown and Seth Rogen, 13 deleted and extended scenes, Line-o-Rama and a gag reel. The Extended Edition will feature a longer version of the film (109 minutes vs. 101 minutes for the theatrical version) as well as 5 additional featurettes (Bully, Rap Off, Sprinkler Day, Directing Kids and The Real Don: Danny McBride). A Blu-ray Disc edition will also be available on 7/29 and will include all of the Unrated DVD features in HD. We believe the delay on the Blu-ray is simply a result of the BD taking longer to author and produce, as the studio works to catch up on its BD slate. It's not any kind of effort by the studio to bias sales against the high-def version. We expect that once the studio's BD efforts are fully up to speed, future titles will be day and date on both formats.

Meanwhile, Sony has announced a number of new DVD catalog re-releases that have been upgraded with Digital Copy. Due on 7/29 (SRP $14.94 each), they include The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, Talladega Nights, The Messengers, The Contractor, Wind Chill, Bobby Z, Hostel, Part II and Rise: Blood Hunter.

Universal has set Life: Season One for DVD release on 9/2 (SRP $29.98).

And Warner has announced three new Blu-ray Disc releases: Smallville: The Complete Seventh Season (due 9/9, SRP $59.98), a One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest: Special Edition (due 7/15, SRP $34.99) and Cool Hand Luke (due 9/9, SRP $28.99). One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest will include audio commentary by director Milos Forman and producers Michael Douglas and Saul Zaentz, 8 deleted scenes, the film's theatrical trailer and a 36-page book (part of the Digibook packaging). Cool Hand Luke will include audio commentary by writer and Paul Newman biographer, Eric Lax, the A Natural-Born World-Shaker: Making Cool Hand Luke featurette and the film's theatrical trailer. Smallville will include 2 featurettes (Jimmy on Jimmy and Supergirl) as well as the Smallville Legends Mobisodes.

Warner has announced a number of new standard DVD titles as well, including the BBC's Oscar Wilde Collection on 6/24 (includes An Ideal Husband, The Importance of Being Earnest, Lady Windermere's Fan and The Picture of Dorian Gray), a Batman Beyond: The Return of the Joker/Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman Double Feature, a Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School/Scooby-Doo and the Legend of the Vampire Double Feature, Supernatural: The Complete Third Season and The Big Bang Theory: The Complete First Season all on 9/2, Legion of Superheroes: Volume Three, the Cool Hand Luke: Deluxe Edition (same features as the Blu-ray), Smallville: The Complete Seventh Season (also same features as the Blu-ray), In Treatment (for HBO) and Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries: Season One all on 9/9, Scooby-Doo and the Goblin King, The Busby Berkeley Collection: Volume Two (SRP $39.92 - includes Gold Diggers in Paris, Gold Diggers of 1937, Hollywood Hotel and Varsity Show, each also available separately for SRP $19.97) and The NFL's Funniest Players: Hosted by Michael Strahan all on 9/16, and finally The NFL History of the Dallas Cowboys on 9/23.

Here's some cover art for you... both versions of Warner's Cool Hand Luke, Warner's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest: Special Edition on Blu-ray and all three versions of Paramount's Drillbit Taylor...

Cool Hand Luke: Deluxe EditionCool Hand Luke (Blu-ray Disc)One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest: Special Edition (Blu-ray Disc)

Drillbit TaylorDrillbit Taylor: Extended Survival EditionDrillbit Taylor: Extended Survival Edition (Blu-ray Disc)

Finally today, a quick note: For those of you interested in Blu-ray and/or what Todd and I are up to in our regular column in Geek Monthly magazine, our GeekBits piece in the latest issue (June 2008 - the one with Wall-E on the cover) features a 4-page Blu-ray Disc: State of the Union (or Blu-nion, so to speak), in which we run down all the latest developments on the format and look ahead at what's coming later this year and beyond. Do check it out if you're interested. The June issue of Geek Monthly is on newsstands now.

Okay, that's it for today. Have a great one and stay tuned!

5/19/08

Morning all! Hope your weekend was great as usual.

My family is here for another couple days, so today's post is going to be brief. We also seem to be having a few server burps this morning, so we're working to resolve all that today as well.

In the meantime, however, we're very pleased to bring you the second Golden Hollywood column from our own Robert Siegel. In this edition, Rob goes in-depth on a pair of classic films that have recently appeared on DVD... 20th Century Fox's The Virgin Queen and MGM's Deep in My Heart. As always, Rob delivers tons of great artwork from the films to check out, as well as plenty of interesting history and production detail. Enjoy!

Stay tuned...

5/16/08

Afternoon, folks! Sorry about the lack of an update yesterday. My folks just arrived in town, so I spent the day yesterday cleaning house in advance of their arrival. You know how that goes, I'm sure.

We're pleased this afternoon to bring you a new edition of The Bottom Shelf from our very own Adam Jahnke. This week, Adam spins Sony's new The Adventures of Baron Munchausen: 20th Anniversary Edition on Blu-ray Disc and offers his thoughts on the experience. Enjoy!

I'm going to try to post some Blu-ray reviews next week as well. Paramount's Next and Face/Off just showed up here at the office, and in today's mail was Fox and MGM's latest batch of war movies too. It looks like Fox has REALLY gone the extra mile with Patton and The Longest Day. I've only sampled both, but each title seems to include everything that was on the previous Cinema Classic Collection DVD editions, which is something we really appreciate. Plus, Patton looks fantastic. I haven't checked out Battle of Britain or A Bridge too Far yet, but right up front the discs only include the film - none of the extras from the previous Collector's Edition DVDs are here. I hope MGM starts raising the bar a little bit on that score in the months ahead. Movie-only Blu-rays just don't cut it.

In announcement news today, Lionsgate has set Belphegor: Phantom of the Louvre, Sunset Tan: Season One, Bobby Jones Comedy All Stars: Volume 2, Bram Stoker's Dracula's Guest, Carmen and Fortress all for DVD release on 8/5.

Kultur International Films will debut The Noel Coward Trilogy: Boy Actor, Captain Coward and Sail Away on DVD on 5/27 (SRP $24.99).

Here's something I wish was coming to Blu-ray... Universal has set a Brotherhood of the Wolf: Director's Cut for DVD release on 8/26 (SRP $19.98). The 2-disc set will include a 151-minute version of the film, along with over 4 hours worth of extras including documentaries, deleted scenes and storyboards. I've got the elaborate Canadian release from a few years back, but it would be cool to see this in high-def.

Speaking of Universal, here's the temp art for their forthcoming Doomsday Blu-ray Disc (due 7/29), along with the DVD art for Paramount's South Park: The Complete Eleventh Season (8/12), the Blu-ray art for Sony's Persepolis (6/24), and Warner's Chuck: The Complete First Season (9/16), Gossip Girl: The Complete First Season and It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown: Deluxe Edition (9/2)...

Doomsday (Blu-ray Disc)South Park: The Complete Eleventh SeasonPersepolis (Blu-ray Disc)

Chuck: The Complete First SeasonGossip Girl: The Complete First SeasonIt's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown: Deluxe Edition

As you can see, Warner has set Gossip Girl: The Complete First Season for DVD release on 8/19 (SRP $59.98). The 5-disc set will include all 18 episodes in anamorphic widescreen, plus extras TBA. You know you love it. Relax, I'm not gonna do the whole 'XOXO' thing. That just isn't cool.

Also today, our friend Mischa from the Twin Peaks Archive website e-mailed us to inform us that director David Lynch has said in a live appearance recently that he's currently working on DVD editions of Hotel Room and On the Air. Consider that Rumor Mill-worthy, but we have no reason not to believe it and it's certainly good news if it pans out. Thanks Mischa!

And finally today, Criterion has just announced their August DVD slate, which will include Guy Maddin's Brand upon the Brain! (Cat #440), Pier Paolo Pasolini's Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (an upgrade of #17), Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger's The Small Back Room (#441) and Keisuke Kinoshita's Twenty-hour Eyes (#442 - a.k.a. Nijushi no hitomi). They've also announced Eclipse Series 11: Larisa Shepitko, which will feature two films by the acclaimed Soviet-era filmmaker, The Ascent and Wings. I'll tell you, Criterion just keeps blowing us away here at The Bits. That's another nice batch of titles.

Don't forget... there's a new Battlestar tonight. Everyone have a great weekend and we'll see you back here on Monday!


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