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page updated: 9/7/09



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 8/31/09 - 7/31/09)


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8/31/09

Afternoon, folks! Today is a quickie - I've gotta go watch Brett Favre and the Vikes tonight on ESPN. ;)

HOWEVER... I've been working hard all weekend, and all this afternoon, to bring you the following: My full and in-depth reviews of Paramount's new Gladiator: Sapphire Series and Braveheart: Sapphire Series on Blu-ray. Both street tomorrow. As you'll know doubt already know from my comments on Friday, Braveheart is spectacular all the way around. Gladiator delivers great audio quality and suburb extras, but the video quality leaves much to be desired. I'm hopeful that Universal and Paramount will take steps to correct that, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the reviews.

By the way, in news from around the Net today, there's word that Disney has agreed to buy Marvel Entertainment for a reported $4 billion. Word is this will not affect Marvel's existing film deals with Universal, Paramount and Fox. You can read more on all this here.

We'll be back with more news and reviews tomorrow, so stay tuned!

8/28/09

Okay... so, I've seen Gladiator and Braveheart on Blu-ray this afternoon. I should let you know that I tried to get the discs from Paramount directly. They're usually very helpful and responsive in such situations, but they genuinely don't seem to have them available to send them out until early next week, for whatever reason. Given the controversy around the Net regarding the Gladiator transfer, however, I still wanted to be able to see the discs today myself - rather than comment on all this screenshot silliness - to make my own judgments and report here in time for you all to have fair warning prior to street date (9/1 - this coming Tuesday). It's your money, and you want to spend it wisely. You need information in order to do that.

Let me first comment on the whole issue of screenshots. Judging a disc based on a few screenshots is, I think, silly. A screenshot represents 1/24 of a second of film. For a 2-hour film, that just 1/172,800th of the total visual information. You just can't properly judge a transfer based upon that little information. Screenshots CAN be illustrative of various kinds of image-related problems. But you really have to see the image in full motion to judge the complete context and impact of anything you see in a single frame grab. There's also the problem of potential alterations or artifacts that result from the frame-grabbing process itself, not to mention any changes resulting from image compression/editing software used by the poster - no matter how well intentioned - to present the frame-grab online. Finally, I've seen enough deliberately Photoshop doctored frame-grabs posted in discussion forums in my day that I just don't trust them. Ultimately, the only real way to judge these things properly is with your own eyes, first-hand, in context, in full motion, presented on proper equipment. Period.

That being the case, an exhaustive search of retailers and rentailers in my area turned up a "mom and pop" rental shop nearby that had both Blu-ray titles available for rent prior to street date. I was able to pick up the discs this morning, and I've since gone through the transfers in some detail. I'm not going to talk about the extras - I'll do that in more detail next week, and I can tell you with confidence that the extras on both discs are absolutely first-rate. No complaints there whatsoever. As for the A/V quality, however, here's my two cents...

Upon first glance, and as expected, the HD presentation quality of Gladiator isn't as bad as some online would have you believe. Color and contrast is fine at all times. The problem is with the level of detail. The vast majority of the film has a slightly digital-looking quality to it, and there's clear edge-enhancement "haloing" visible. The extended edition scenes, however, look fine - no halos, no digital patina - they're very natural looking. If the whole film looked like the extended scenes, we wouldn't be having this conversation. What it looks like to me (though it's impossible to be sure, obviously), is that someone at Universal (keep in mind, it's Universal that controls the Gladiator assets for DreamWorks - not Paramount), decided to re-use the original digital master of the HD transfer done back in 2000 for the very first DVD release. Now, that transfer was state of the art for its day, and it was approved by director Ridley Scott, but obviously it's a far cry from the quality of new HD transfers done today, in 2009. One of the biggest problems is that until fairly recently, video mastering engineers were still applying edge-enhancement to their digital masters knowing that they were going to be used ultimately for standard-definition DVD release, and also analog VHS and laserdisc. It took the mastering community a long time to break the habit. In this Gladiator transfer, you can see it in the image. It's also clear that the 2000 digital master has been digitally-filtered to reduce the haloing and other artifacts - the signs of DNR are not hard to miss. That's in contrast to the extended edition scenes, which were transferred in HD in 2005 and so look much better. They're still not quite up to today's standards, but they look far superior to the rest of the film and there's no edge-enhancement or obvious filtering visible. The footage simply looks natural - as it should. There's been some talk of DNR being so excessive that - for example - arrows and fireballs disappear from one frame to the next. This IS an issue, but the fact is that when you watch the image in full motion it's not something you really notice. The arrow or fireball is highly visible in one frame, less so in the next, more so in the third, etc. You still detect the object in motion, so you don't go, "Oh my god, that fireball just disappeared!" The image just looks generally digital and lacking in fine detail. Overall, I would grade the A/V quality of the Gladiator Blu-ray thusly:

Gladiator
Video: 15.5 (theatrical footage)/17 (extended scenes)
Audio: 18


Let me be clear: Gladiator on Blu-ray is quite watchable - especially if you have a smaller screen. On the comparative grading scale we use for Blu-ray, the very best DVD video and audio quality would be graded a 10. So it's definitely an improvement over the previous DVD releases. The problem is, the best Blu-rays - most high-quality titles on the format these days - score in the 18-19 range. So while this disc is watchable, that's just not good enough, either for the format as a whole or for most fans and enthusiasts.

And here's the bigger problem: Gladiator streets on the same day as Braveheart, both as part of Paramount's new premium "Sapphire" series of Blu-ray releases. I doubt there are very many Blu-ray fans who would ideally, all other considerations aside, pick up one of these titles but not the other. So most Blu-ray fans are going to buy both discs, and be somewhat disappointed by Gladiator. Then they're going to pop in Braveheart. And they're going to forget all about Gladiator for a couple hours... then be doubly disappointed by it when they compare the two discs.

The video and audio quality of Braveheart on Blu-ray is... in a word... breathtaking. The colors are lush and accurate. Contrast is spot-on perfect. And the detail visible in the image is just wonderful. The quick flit of arrows, the glint of individual links of chainmail armor, the subtle textures of leather and cloth... it's all just delightful. By the time Wallace and his men ride onto the field of battle at Stirling, and you see the crumbled blues of the war paint on their faces, you will be absolutely won over by this presentation. I've simply never seen the film looking this good before. Not once, even in theatres. It's just perfectly nuanced and natural looking - absolutely first-rate for a catalog title of this relatively recent vintage. If you're a fan, it's COMPLETELY pleasing, such that you'll have a strong emotional response to the quality as you watch. And that's EXACTLY as it should be. Here's how I would grade Braveheart on Blu-ray:

Braveheart
Video: 18.5
Audio: 18.5


I MIGHT even go as high as 19 on the video end - I need to watch the disc some more. The practical upshot of all this, is that I have copies of both Gladiator and Braveheart on Blu-ray sitting in my home theater right now. Having looked at both discs... I have no desire whatsoever to watch Gladiator. But I can't WAIT to watch Braveheart, from start to finish. In fact, as soon as I finish writing this and post it on The Bits, that's EXACTLY what I'm going to do. I don't know who at Universal was responsible (for DreamWorks) for signing off on (and delivering to Paramount) the Gladiator HD master. They should be embarrassed -- though I'm WILLING to entertain the idea that this was some kind of simple oversight or mistake. I know for a fact that mistakes like this CAN and DO happen, though it's still absolutely no excuse. Braveheart, on the other hand, is just spectacular. A big hats off from me to everyone and anyone responsible (I suspect especially at Icon) for that HD master.

In the end, Paramount and Universal have a big decision to make. The uneven video quality of these two titles really damages the launch and reputation of Paramount's new Sapphire Series, and it should never have happened that way. But a "premium" label on the cover of a Blu-ray Disc means nothing if the disc doesn't deliver the quality it should. Somehow, Gladiator slipped through the cracks. Again, it's not terrible. But compared to Braveheart especially, it's utterly disappointing. The real shame is, had the title simply been delayed for a few months, the studios could have prepared a new state-of-the-art HD transfer befitting both the Sapphire label and the film itself, and then released Gladiator has a 10th Anniversary Sapphire Edition early next year. As things are, Paramount and Universal are obviously going ahead with the release of both Gladiator and Braveheart on Tuesday. What I HOPE happens - what I STRONGLY encourage - is that the studios immediately run a new HD transfer, and then either recall the disc or make it a running production change. Either way, they should arrange an exchange program for those fans who purchase the disc on Tuesday in the meantime. IF the studios take quick steps to correct the disc and make things right with fans who purchase it, that will go a very long way toward restoring confidence in the Sapphire line. So that's what I HOPE the studio decides to do. With luck, we'll learn more next week.

In the meantime, forewarned is forearmed. Braveheart is spectacular and is well worth your money, in terms of video, audio and extras. The audio and extras for Gladiator are first rate, but the video quality is WELL below average for the Blu-ray format. Adjust your purchase plans accordingly.

Rest assured, I'll stay in contact with sources at Paramount over the coming days and let you know what happens with regard to the Gladiator disc. As I said, hopefully, we'll know more next week. I'll post full reviews of both titles then (including comments on the special features, which are excellent on both titles).

Until then, strength and honor! Stay tuned...

8/27/09

Okay... I'm doing a lot of work behind-the-scenes today, working the phone, e-mail (etc) to investigate a few different things. So it's a little busy here. In the meantime, we've got a couple of things to mention today...

First, in response to Sony's PS3 price cuts from last week, Microsoft has now cut the price of its Xbox 360 models. The 360 Elite has been cut by $100 (to about $300) and the 360 Pro has been cut by $50 (to about $250). The price for the 360 Arcade model remains at about $200. You can read more here at Home Media. Now I just wish all these companies would drop the price of their game software by $5 or $10. Not likely, but still.

In announcement news today, Anchor Bay has officially set the spoof Stan Helsing for release on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 10/27 (SRP $26.97 and $34.98). Extras on both versions will include audio commentary with writer/producer/director Bo Zenga and actors Kenan Thompson and Desi Lydic, the Killer Parody: The Making of Stan Helsing featurette, deleted, extended and alternate scenes, outtakes, a still and storyboard gallery and a theatrical trailer.

Also, I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before, but Criterion has set Arnaud Desplechin's A Christmas Tale for DVD release on 11/10 (Cat# 492, SRP $39.95).

Here's a look at the cover art for Paramount and DreamWorks' Galaxy Quest Blu-ray (11/17), as well as preview art for Fox's forthcoming Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs on DVD (TBA) and Criterion's A Christmas Tale also on DVD...

Galaxy Quest (Blu-ray Disc)Ice Age: Dawn of the DinosaursA Christmas Tale (Criterion)

Stay tuned...

8/26/09

Today's a bit of a slow news day, but there are a couple things worth mentioning.

First up, Warner Home Video has announced that the Blu-ray releases of Heat, The Negotiator and Logan's Run have been moved to 11/10 (from the previously announced 11/3).

Warner has also announced the DVD release of Robot Chicken: Season Four on 12/15 (SRP $29.98).

And around the Net today, there's word at Video Business that Warner, Paramount, Sony and Lionsgate have just signed a deal with a company called Film Fresh to deliver movie downloads (in the Divx codec) that can be burned to DVD-R and BD-R media for playback on Divx-compatible disc players. Pretty interesting. I wonder how long it will be before they make HD content available for burning.

Also today, he should take a moment to acknowledge the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy and author Dominick Dunne. There's plenty being said elsewhere today about both men, so we'll let that coverage speak for itself. Our hats off to the memory of both of them.

Stay tuned...

8/25/09

Okay... first things first today. We've been getting a lot of e-mails from readers complaining about the video quality of Paramount's Gladiator Blu-ray... which is curious because the disc doesn't street until 9/1. Apparently, a number of retailers have gotten the disc early and have broken street, and fans who dislike the video quality have posted screenshots on the Net, etc. The complaints are the usual suspects: edge-enhancement and excessive DNR. Paramount hasn't sent out review copies yet, so we don't have the disc on hand to check for ourselves. Consequently, we can't comment on it yet. So just be advised that there MAY be a video quality issue with Gladiator. The Braveheart Blu-ray reportedly looks great, but again we haven't seen the disc ourselves yet. When we do, rest assured we'll let you know.

Now then... here at the site today, our very own Dr. Jahnke has turned in yet another fine installment of The Electric Theatre, featuring his thoughts on Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, which is now playing at your local google-plex. Do check it out.

Also, we've once again updated the Release Dates & Artwork section with all the latest DVD and Blu-ray cover scans and Amazon.com pre-order links. And as always, a portion of anything you order through our links goes to help support our work here at The Bits and we appreciate it.

In terms of new release announcements today, Universal has set Saturday Night Live: The Complete Fifth Season for DVD release on 12/1 (SRP $69.98). The 7-disc set will include all episodes complete with the original musical performances featuring the likes of Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Randy Newman, The B-52s, The J. Geils Band, Anne Murray, Grateful Dead, Blondie, Paul Simon and James Taylor.

Meanwhile, Lionsgate has set John Huston's The Dead for DVD release on 11/3.

Sony has set The Shield: The Complete Series for DVD release on 11/3 as well (SRP $159.95 - 23 discs). Also due on DVD on 11/3 from the studio are a remastered Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, a remastered All About My Mother, Matador, Law of Desire, Hardwired and The Accidental Husband.

Warner Home Video has set National Geographic's Darwin's Darkest Hour for DVD release on 11/17 (SRP $19.98).

Fox has announced the 19-disc Futurama: The Complete Collection for DVD release on 10/13 (SRP $199.98). All 72 episodes will be included, along with 4 feature-length films (Bender's Big Score, The Beast with a Billion Backs, Bender's Game and Into The Wild Green Yonder), with all previous extras and a letter from creator Matt Groening and producer David X. Cohen. All of this will come packaged in a collectible Bender head case, including a detachable rubber antenna. Only 25,000 will be produced. Here's what it looks like...

Futurama: The Complete Collection

Fox has also set I Love You, Beth Cooper for DVD and Blu-ray release on 11/3.

And finally, CBS and Paramount have announced The Best of Star Trek: The Original Series - Volume 2 and The Best of Star Trek: The Next Generation - Volume 2 for DVD release on 11/17. According to our friends at Trek Movie, the former will include the episodes Where No Man Has Gone Before, Space Seed, A Piece of the Action and Journey to Babel, while the latter will include Relics, The Inner Light, Cause and Effect and Tapestry.

Here's a little more cover art for you to check out: CBS's revised art for Star Trek: The Original Series - Season Two on Blu-ray (due 9/22 - it now features the Sciences insignia - presumably the Season Three art will feature Engineering), along with Criterion's The Golden Age of Television DVD (11/24) and Paramount's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen movie only DVD (10/20)...

Star Trek: The Original Series - Season Two (Blu-ray Disc)The Golden Age of TelevisionTransformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Stay tuned...

8/24/09

Afternoon, folks! Boy, I sure went through the ringer late last week. I had some kind of flu for about 48 hours there, and it really knocked me on my ass, which explains the lack of a post on Friday. Don't know if it was swine flu or bird flu or alien flu, but ugh. Fortunately, I'm feeling 100% today, so it's back to business.

Luckily, I was feeling recovered enough late this weekend to venture out for a screening of Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds with Matt. Gotta tell you... I think it's one of his best films to date. It was very different than what I expected. Imagine vintage Tarantino, only less derivative and more restrained. I was expecting the usual orgies of violence - and there were some to be sure - but much more of the film is given over to a series of psychological, dialogue-driven duels between a twisted Nazi SS officer (played with great delight by Christoph Waltz) and various adversaries, leading up to Brad Pitt's Lt. Aldo Raine. ("You men join my squad and ya'll owe me a deb-et of 100 Nazi scalps. And I want my scalps!) It was a damn fun flick, I must say, and Tarantino even managed to highlight his love of the cinema in a new and much more interesting way. I highly recommend the film.

All right, so today, I have some reviews for you. Barrie Maxwell has chimed in with reviews of the BBC's Bleak House and Sony's The Class on Blu-ray. And Jeff Kleist has a review of Paramount's I Love You, Man BD as well. More reviews are coming later this week, so watch for those. And enjoy!

In release news this afternoon, Fox has set Family Guy Presents: Something, Something, Something, Darkside for release on DVD and Blu-ray on 12/22 (SRP $22.98 and $29.99). This is a spoof of The Empire Strikes Back and the follow up to Family Guy Presents: Blue Harvest. There's a Return of the Jedi spoof in the works as well, set to be called Family Guy Presents: We Have a Bad Feeling About This. Extras on Something, Something will include commentary, deleted scenes, The Darkside of Poster Art featurette, animatics, pop-up video and a Digital Copy.

Also today, Warner has set Ben 10: Alien Swarm for release on DVD and Blu-ray on 12/1.

Paramount has officially announced a title we've mentioned in The Rumor Mill - It's a Wonderful Life will street on Blu-ray Disc (and DVD) on 11/3. Each will be a 2-disc set including both the original B&W and a colorized version. Also included will be the theatrical trailer in HD, and The Making of It's a Wonderful Life documentary. The DVD is a re-issue of the last DVD version.

Paramount will also release a Transformers: Gift Set Blu-ray on 11/3 as well. We'll post more details as they're available.

And the studio has set Galaxy Quest for Blu-ray Disc release on 11/17. It looks like everything from the previous DVD releases will be included - even the Thermian language audio track.

Speaking of Paramount, they'll also release Beverly Hills 90210: The Eighth Season and Melrose Place: The Fifth Season, Volume Two on DVD on 11/24.

Finally, here's some cool catalog news... MGM will release (via Fox) a Rocky: The Undisputed Collection box set on Blu-ray Disc on 11/3 (SRP $99.99). The set will include all 6 films in the series, including Rocky, Rocky II, Rocky III, Rocky IV, Rocky V and Rocky Balboa, along with a Rocky Anthology bonus disc. It looks as if all the previous DVD extras will be included along with some new extras - we'll post the complete list as soon as it's confirmed.

And in other news today, the Digital Entertainment Group has just reorganized itself and refocused its efforts on promoting Blu-ray... at a press event that the swine/bird/alien flu sadly prevented me from attending. D'oh! You can read more here at Home Media.

Also, our friend T.K. Arnold over at Home Media has confirmed information we posted in The Rumor Mill earlier this year, specifically that Warner is working on a new Exorcist Blu-ray. It was originally planned for this year, but it looks like the studio has worked with director William Friedkin and director of photography Owen Roizman to create new HD transfers of both the 1973 theatrical release and 2000 extended director's cut. New extras are also being produced, and the idea is to have it available for release by next Halloween.

By the way - completely unrelated: Is anyone else watching SyFy's Warehouse 13 or ABC's Defying Gravity? I've been checking them both out, and I have to say, I've been enjoying both a lot more than I would have expected. Warehouse 13 is sort of X-Files meets Raiders of the Lost Ark and it's pretty entertaining. I think it's already been renewed for a second season. Defying Gravity unfortunately is struggling in the ratings (no surprise - genre material always struggles on network TV), but I have to say I'm starting to really like it. It was billed as a sort-of sci-fi Grey's Anatomy with astronauts, which I would say is generally accurate. But what's interesting is that the characters (including Office Space's Ron Livingston) are getting more interesting and likable every episode, and the production design is absolutely superior for TV sci-fi. As you all know, I'm a bit of a spaceflight aficionado, and I'm telling you... the design team has really gotten all the little details right. And what isn't accurate is more about dramatic license than lack of research. I suspect we'll be lucky to get 12 episodes out of Gravity, but it's surprisingly intelligent and just... different than the usual show of it's type. Not overly self-important, high concept or heavy handed. It's kind of refreshing actually - just a story about people who happen to be on a space mission. I hope it sticks around a while. You can watch every episode of both shows via the links above, so do check them out. If you do, let me know what you think.

Okay... here's cover art for MGM's Rocky Blu-ray box set and Fox's Family Guy presents Something, Something (Etc) on DVD and Blu. All are now available for pre-order at Amazon.com...

Rocky: The Undisputed Collection (Blu-ray Disc)Family Guy Presents: Something, Something, Something, DarksideFamily Guy Presents: Something, Something, Something, Darkside (Blu-ray Disc)

Stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 8/20/09 - 1 PM PDT)

Here's one more quick post early this afternoon with a link to something extremely cool. The official teaser trailer for James Cameron's long-awaited, much-hyped Avatar is now available... and darned if it isn't pretty amazing. The link takes you to the Apple Quicktime site for the film, where you can watch the trailer in SD or full HD. We heartily recommend the latter. Enjoy!

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 8/20/09 - 12:15 PM PDT)

Well, it seems that all these weeks of burning the candle at both ends - not to mention having guests parading in and out - seem to have taken a toll on me. I've come down with some kind of cold. Woke up this morning feeling like a bus had run me over, then backed up and run me over again for good measure. I'm going to get those reviews up as soon as possible, but it might be much later today, because I SERIOUSLY need a few hours of sleep. So I really appreciate your patience.

In the meantime, however, there is some great release news to report this afternoon...

First up, Palm Pictures has just officially set a Talking Heads: Stop Making Sense - 25th Anniversary Edition for release on Blu-ray Disc on 10/13 (SRP $34.99 - note that the title is already available on DVD). Audio will be available in DTS-HA MA 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0. Extras will include footage of a previously unreleased Talking Heads press conference, 2 bonus songs, the David Byrne Interview... David Byrne video short, a storyboard/staging comparison and trailers. Here's a look at the cover art...

Stop Making Sense: 25th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray Disc)Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - 2-Disc Special EditionTransformers: Revenge of the Fallen - 2-Disc Special Edition (Blu-ray Disc)

As you can see by the other art we've posted, Paramount and DreamWorks have also officially announced the DVD and Blu-ray release of Michael Bay's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on 10/20. Available will be a single-disc DVD (SRP $19.99) as well as 2-disc DVD and Blu-ray special editions (SRP $24.99 and $29.99 respectively). The 2-disc special editions will include audio commentary by director Michael Bay and writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, the multi-part The Human Factor: Exacting Revenge of the Fallen documentary (includes Seeds of Vengeance: Development and Design, Domestic Destruction: Production - United States, Joint Operations: Production - Military, Wonders of the World: Production - Middle East, Start Making Sense: Editing, Under the Gun: Visual Effects and Running the Gauntlet: Post-Production and Release), 2 additional featurettes (including A Day with Bay: Tokyo and 25 Years of Transformers), the interactive NEST: Transformer Data-Hub conceptual artwork gallery, the multi-angle Deconstructing Visual Bayhem with commentary by Pre-Vis Supervisor Steve Yamamoto feature, extended scenes and Linkin Park's New Divide music video. In addition, the Blu-ray will exclusively add The ALLSPARK Experiment interactive feature (which allows you to customize vehicles to unlock secret messages), the Giant Effing Movie featurette, The Matrix of Marketing archive of trailers, poster art and more, and exclusive NEST: Transformer Data-Hub options including 3D spin galleries of each robot and a timeline for each character charting its origins, back story and design evolution from toys to animated series to comics and finally feature films. All of these extras were created by our old friend Charles de Lauzirika, the producer responsible for the amazing Blade Runner: The Final Cut special edition, so you can bet they'll be worth checking out.

By the way, all of the titles pictured above are now available for pre-order from Amazon.com by clicking on the cover art.

Okay, that's all for now. Back later. Stay tuned!

8/19/09

Evening, folks!

Before we get started today, we've kicked off THREE new Giveaways, offering each of you the chance to take home copies of Warner's Two and a Half Men: Season Six, Smallville: The Complete Eighth Season and Scooby-Doo Where are You?: Volume 3 - Hello Mummy!, Universal's Last House on the Left: Unrated Edition and Fighting: Unrated Edition, and Paramount's SpongeBob Squarepants: To Squarepants or Not to Squarepants on DVD. Entries will be accepted until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, August 30th. By the way, the La-La Land Records Battlestar/Caprica CD soundtrack collection giveaway will continue until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, August 23rd. Click on the links and follow the instructions to enter. Good luck!

Now then... the big news today is that Sony has announced the release of a new PlayStation 3 "Slim" model, due in stores on 9/1 (SRP $299). The unit will be thinner and lighter than the previous models (which have been priced-reduced today at many retailers) and it boasts a 120GB hard drive. As with the previous models, the PS3 Slim will play CD, DVD and Blu-ray software. You can read Sony's official press release, complete with detailed technical specs, here. You can also read more here at CNet. And here's what the new model will look like...

Sony PlayStation 3 Slim

In release news today, Universal has set Sam Raimi's Drag Me to Hell for release on DVD and Blu-ray on 10/13 (SRP $29.98 and $39.98). The film will be presented in a home video-exclusive Unrated version, along with the theatrical edition. Extras on both formats will include over 30 minutes of behind-the-scenes Production Video Dairies. The Blu-ray will also add BD-Live connectivity, a Digital Copy version of the film and a new Universal Ticker feature (which seems to allow Universal to promote forthcoming titles and the like during your viewing experience).

Also, word is that Paramount's Imagine That is now set to be the second studio Blu-ray title slated to be made available at retail before the DVD version hits stores. You can read more here at Home Media.

In other news this evening, when Disney and Pixar's Up arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on 11/10, diehard fans will be able to get the Blu-ray in a special Limited Edition Luxo Jr. Premium Combo Pack (SRP $199.99 - $139 on Amazon), which includes a replica of the infamous Luxo Jr. lamp character. It seems this is only available with Blu-ray, not DVD. Here's a look at the packaging...

Up: Limited Edition Luxo Jr. Combo Pack (Blu-ray Disc)

Finally today, our old friend Mojo has a great new post over on his blog that's his tribute of sorts to the late, great John Hughes. Mojo actually met Hughes once a number of years ago, and he's got a great story (and more) to share with you. Soundtrack fans should get a big kick out of it. Enjoy!

We'll leave you with more new cover art... here's final art for Sony's Labyrinth Blu-ray (9/29), along with the DVD and Blu-ray art for Universal's Drag Me to Hell...

Labyrinth (Blu-ray Disc)Drag Me to HellDrag Me to Hell (Blu-ray Disc)

Back tomorrow with new reviews from Barrie Maxwell. Stay tuned!

8/18/09

Okay... today is going to be a VERY quick post for a couple reasons. The first is that Sarah and I have had family and friends staying with us for about a week and a half now. And we've had a lot of fun with all the visitors, let me tell you. But the last of them left the house for the airport at around 3 AM last night to catch a 6 AM flight. So needless to say, not much sleep was gotten and I'm pretty wiped out here this afternoon.

The other reason is entirely more distracting: Some guy named Furor... or is it Favor?... just signed up to play QB for the Vikings this season. Pfftt... rookies! You longtime readers know how serious I am about Vikings football. So... suffice it to say, I'm really having a hard time concentrating on anything else today for watching all the ESPN. What can I say? I'm clearly going to be a basket case for the next several months as this little experiment plays out. Uf-da!

On a related side note... here's a funny Favre joke courtesy of Weatherman Dave: Question - Why did Brett Favre cross the road? Answer - He didn't. He thought about it but then changed his mind. He might do it later if he feels up to it.

Hooo-leeeee-crap.

Anyway, I'll be back tomorrow with the regular post and lots of news, reviews, etc. But never fear - we DO have a couple things for you this afternoon...

First, we've updated the Release Dates & Art section with all the latest DVD and Blu-ray cover scans and Amazon.com pre-order links. Remember that a portion of ANYTHING you buy from Amazon after clicking through to them via our links helps support our work here at The Bits and we appreciate it.

And finally, our own Dr. Adam Jahnke has once again updated his Electric Theatre column with reviews of District 9 and Miyazaki's Ponyo. It's another great column and Jahnke is spot-on as usual, so don't miss it!

Back tomorrow! See ya then...

8/17/09

Morning all! So... Matt and I checked out District 9 over the weekend. And I'll tell you... we were both very impressed. If you like great sci-fi, this is one not to miss. And frankly, it's just a great drama - first-rate storytelling any way you slice it. Word is it was shot for just $30 million, and it looks like it cost a lot more than that. Definitely don't miss it.

In announcement news today, Criterion has set Matteo Garrone' Gomorrah (Cat# 493) for DVD and Blu-ray Disc release on 11/24. Also coming from Criterion on DVD only is Costa-Gavras's Z (#491 - 10/27), Arnaud Desplechin's A Christmas Tale (11/10 - $39.95), Michael Ritchie's Downhill Racer (#494 - $29.95) and a collection of vintage kinescope TV teleplays gathered in a 3-disc set called The Golden Age of Television (#495 - $49.95). Included among them will be Marty (1953), Patterns (1955), No Time for Sergeants (1955), A Wind from the South (1955), Requiem for a Heavyweight (1956), Bang the Drum Slowly (1956), The Comedian (1957) and Days of Wine and Roses (1958). Commentaries will be included by the likes of directors John Frankenheimer, Delbert Mann, Ralph Nelson and Daniel Petrie, and you'll get interviews with key cast and crew members. Sounds pretty damn cool.

In other news today, the back of the packaging for Warner Home Video's Heat Blu-ray (due 11/3) reveals that the 2-disc set will include "new content changes supervised by director Michael Mann" which amounts to about 2 minutes of trims. The set will also include 11 deleted scenes, theatrical trailers and 5 documentaries (including True Crime, Crime Stories, Into the Fire, Pacino and De Niro: The Conversation and Return to the Scene of the Crime).

Meanwhile today, Universal has announced more new catalog Blu-ray releases, including Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas (10/13), Waterworld (10/20) and Love Actually (11/3). The Waterworld Blu-ray includes the theatrical cut only.

Sony has announced a number of new DVD and Blu-ray releases, including Adoration (10/13 - DVD and Blu-ray), An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving (10/13 - DVD), Easy Rider (10/20 - Blu-ray with Booklet), The William Castle Film Collection (10/20 - DVD - includes 13 Frightened Girls, 13 Ghosts, Homicidal, Strait-Jacket, Mr. Sardonicus, The Old Dark House, The Tingler and Zotz!), Night of the Creeps (10/27 - DVD and Blu-ray), the Sam Fuller Collection (10/27 - DVD - includes It Happened in Hollywood, Adventure in Sahara, Power of the Press, Shockproof, Scandal Sheet, The Crimson Kimono and Underworld U.S.A.), The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009 - 11/3 - DVD and Blu-ray) and Whatever Works (10/27 - DVD and Blu-ray).

Finally, Disney has announced Legend of the Seeker: The Complete First Season for DVD release on 10/23. Better still, the studio (with Miramax) has set Kevin Smith's Chasing Amy for Blu-ray release on 11/17 (SRP $39.99) including over 4 hours of new BD exclusive content. Also coming to Blu-ray that day is Smith's Clerks (SRP $39.99), including 90 minutes of new content. You'll also be able to buy both titles, along with Smith's Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back on Blu-ray, in the Kevin Smith 3-Movie Collection (SRP $89.99).

Here's a look at some new cover art... Universal's Land of the Lost on DVD (due 10/13) as well as Love Actually and Waterworld on Blu-ray, and temp art for Disney's Chasing Amy, Clerks and the Kevin Smith 3-Movie Collection on Blu-ray. All are now available for pre-order on Amazon.com by clicking on the covers...

Land of the Lost DVDLove Actually (Blu-ray Disc)Waterworld (Blu-ray Disc)

Chasing Amy (Blu-ray Disc)Clerks (Blu-ray Disc)Kevin Smith 3-Movie Collection (Blu-ray Disc)

Stay tuned...

8/14/09

Okay... let's have some reviews to close out the week, shall we? Our own Jeff Kleist has taken a look at Fox's Dollhouse: Season One and Magnolia's Mutant Chronicles on Blu-ray. And I've chipped in with a quick review of Alliance Atlantis' Canadian import Blu-ray of one of my favorite films... The English Patient. Enjoy!

In release news today, here's some great catalog Blu-ray news: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment will release Fight Club on Blu-ray on 11/17. Extras will include commentary with director David Fincher, commentary with Fincher, Brad Pitt, Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter, commentary with Chuck Palahniuk and Jim Uhls, and commentary by Alex McDowell, Jeff Cronenweth, Michael Kaplan and Kevin Haug, 7 deleted and alternate scenes, multiple featurettes (A Hit in the Ear: Ren Klyce and the Sound Design of Fight Club, Welcome to Fight Club, Angel Faces Beating, The Crash, Tyler's Goodbye, Work: Production, Visual Effects, On Location and more), an Insomniac Mode viewing option, Guys Choice Award, an Edward Norton interview, a music video, 12 TV spots, trailers (including the 8 Rules of Fight Club), promotional and art galleries, Internet spots and more.

Fox has also set It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: It's a Very Sunny Christmas for DVD release on 11/17.

Meanwhile, Lionsgate has announced that its October slate will include HIT Favorites: Frosty Friends, The Gate: Special Edition, The Children: Ghost House Underground (DVD and Blu-ray), Offspring: Ghost House Underground (DVD and Blu-ray), The Thaw: Ghost House Underground (DVD and Blu-ray) and Seventh Moon: Ghost House Underground (DVD and Blu-ray) on 10/6, Bob the Builder: A Christmas to Remember, Bob the Builder: Building Crew Holiday Collection, Barney: Christmas Star, Barney: Tee-riffic Holiday Collection, a Marvel Animation 6-Film Set, the Thomas & Friends: Sodor Friends Holiday Collection and Gotta Catch Santa Claus on 10/13, and finally the Stargate: 15th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray on 10/27.

And Warner has set Trick R' Treat for release on DVD and Blu-ray on 10/6, a Peanuts 1970s Collection: Volume 1 (includes You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown, There's No Time for Love, Charlie Brown, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, It's a Mystery, Charlie Brown and It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown) on 10/20, Justice League: The Complete Series on 11/10 and Superman: The Complete Animated Series on 11/24.

And we've got a little more cover art for you... Classic Media's forthcoming Godzilla (1954 - due 9/22) on Blu-ray, as well as Lionsgate's Stargate: 15th Anniversary Edition, A&E's The Prisoner: The Complete Series on Blu (due 10/27), Sony's Year One (10/6) and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (also 10/6), and Warner's Peanuts 1970s Collection: Volume 1...

Godzilla (Blu-ray Disc)Stargate: 15th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray Disc)The Prisoner: The Complete Series (Blu-ray Disc)

Year One (Blu-ray Disc)Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (Blu-ray Disc)Peanuts 1970s Collection: Volume 1

That's all for this week. Have a great weekend! Go see District 9 or something. We hear it's pretty good. ;)

8/13/09

Afternoon all. Sarah and I have family visiting at the moment, so today's post is going to be VERY brief. But I'll be back tomorrow morning with the latest news updates, and maybe even some new Blu-ray and DVD reviews.

The main thing today is this: Thanks to our good friends over at La-La Land Records, we're very pleased to offer a great new Giveaway - one you fans of the new Battlestar Galactica will really appreciate. Each of you has the chance to win one of FIVE COMPLETE SETS of the soundtrack CDs for the series, including Battlestar Galactica: The Miniseries (composed by Richard Gibbs), Battlestar Galactica: Season One, Battlestar Galactica: Season Two, Battlestar Galactica: Season Three and the just-released 2-disc Battlestar Galactica: Season Four... PLUS the soundtrack for the Caprica pilot (all composed by Bear McCreary)! All you have to do to enter is click here and follow the instructions. Entries will be accepted until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, August 23rd. Good frackin' luck!

Back tomorrow with more. Stay tuned...

8/12/09

Afternoon, folks! We've got a couple new announcements for you, but first a bit of site business...

Our very own Dr. Adam Jahnke has just posted another fine update for his Jahnke's Electric Theatre column, featuring a nice look back at the work of the recently late filmmaker John Hughes. It's well worth your time. Also included is a Tales from the Queue review of Vibes on DVD. Enjoy!

Okay... now for a couple announcements...

First, Shout! Factory has just announced that Takashi Miike's cult horror classic Audition is coming to both 2-disc DVD and Blu-ray on 10/6 (SRP $24.99 and $29.99). Both will include an introduction with director Takashi Miike and star Eihi Shiina, newly-recorded audio commentary with Miike and screenwriter Daisuke Tengan, new interviews with cast members Ryo Ishibashi, Eihi Shiina, Renji Ishibashi and Ren Osugi, international trailers and a booklet with an essay by Tom Mes (author of Agitator: The Cinema of Takashi Miike). Both are mastered from a new 1080p high definition transfer from the inter-negative, and feature a new 5.0 digital soundtrack mixed from the original Japanese audio elements. Miike doesn't do commentaries very often, so having this new one is awesome.

In other news, Legendary Heroes has set Highlander: Season One for Blu-ray Disc release on 9/15 (SRP $49.95). All 22 episodes are included along with substantial extras. You can see the complete list (and pre-order the title) here, directly from Legendary Heroes.

On 10/20, Warner and the BBC are re-releasing some classic British television shows in newly remastered DVD editions, including the Fawlty Towers Remastered: Special Edition (3-discs, SRP $49.98, with all-new commentary from John Cleese), and BlackAdder Remastered: The Ultimate Edition ($79.98, with new interviews and commentaries). Individual seasons and specials of BlackAdder will also be available remastered on DVD for $19.98 each.

Anchor Bay has set the early 90s teen classic Where the Day Takes You for release on DVD on 10/13 (SRP $14.98).

And finally today, Home Media magazine's DVD Critics Awards are now on, and this year's awards are open to votes from YOU, the DVD and Blu-ray enthusiasts! All you have to do is visit this website and make your picks from the available selections in the Reader's Choice categories. Your votes will be tabulated (along with those of industry critics including yours truly) and the final winners will be announced later this year.

Here's a look at the covers for both versions of Shout! Factory's Audition and the final art for Paramount's Forrest Gump: Sapphire Series Blu-ray (due 11/3)...

Audition (Blu-ray Disc)Audition DVDForrest Gump (Blu-ray Disc)

Stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 8/11/09 - 12:30 PM PDT)

Okay... here's something it give us great pleasure to report. Toshiba has just officially announced that they've applied for membership to the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) and that they intend to begin releasing BD players by the end of the year. Here's the official press release from Toshiba:

"Tokyo--Toshiba Corporation (TOKYO: 6502) announced today that the company has applied for membership of the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) and plans to introduce products that support the Blu-ray format.

As a market leader in digital technologies, Toshiba provides a wide range of advanced digital products, such as DVD recorders and players, HDTVs and notebook PCs that support a wide range of storage devices, including hard disk drives (HDD), DVD, and SD Cards. In light of recent growth in digital devices supporting the Blu-ray format, combined with market demand from consumers and retailers alike, Toshiba has decided to join the BDA.

Toshiba aims to introduce digital products that support the Blu-ray format, including BD players and notebook PCs integrating BD drives, in the course of this year. Details of the products, including the timing of regional launches, are now under consideration. We will make announcements in due course."


Also, we've just posted the weekly update of the Release Dates & Art section, featuring lots of new Blu-ray and DVD cover and Amazon.com pre-order links. As always, a portion of anything you order through our Amazon links goes to help support our work here at The Bits and we appreciate it!

Stay tuned!

(EARLY UPDATE - 8/11/09 - 11:45 AM PDT)

Here's some exciting news for you... Disney and Pixar are finally releasing Monsters, Inc. on Blu-ray Disc on 11/10 (SRP $45.99). The release is a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy combo pack. New Blu-ray based extras will include a Filmmaker's Round Table, Roz's 100-Door Challenge Game and Monsters, Inc. Ride and Go Seek: Building Monstropolis in Japan. All of the previous DVD bonus features will be included as well. I have no doubt that it will be a great Blu-ray release, but I do think that $45.99 is a little pricey. There ought to be a Blu-ray only option, for those who don't want to pay extra for the DVD (which fans may already have) and Digital Copy discs. We've heard a lot of complaints from readers that $46 is a lot of money for what is essentially a catalog title, and we agree. The good news, however, is that Amazon has it up for pre-order now for $28, and several other retailers will have dramatic sale prices available as well.

In other news, Universal has set the new Land of the Lost for DVD and Blu-ray release on 10/13 (SRP $29.98 & $39.98). Extras on the DVD will include audio commentary with director Brad Silberling, deleted scenes, the A Day in the Life of a Big-Time Movie Star featurette and a Devil's Canyon Gift Shop Commercial and Tour video. To this, the Blu-ray will add 3 featurettes (Dr. Marshall's Food Diaries with commentary by director Silberling, This Is Not a Routine Expedition: Making Land of the Lost and Bradley, Sid and Marty: A Conversation with the Krofft's), D-Box enhancement and BD-Live connectivity.

That same day, Universal will release classic Land of the Lost: Seasons 1, 2 & 3 individually on DVD (SRP $26.98 each).

Speaking of Universal, we finally have DVD and Blu-ray cover art for Universal's Battlestar Galactica: The Plan (due on 10/27). Here's what they'll look like...

Battlestar Galactica: The Plan (Blu-ray Disc)Battlestar Galactica: The Plan DVDMonsters, Inc. (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy)

As you can see we've also included the final art for Disney's Monsters, Inc. Blu-ray.

In other release news today, Lionsgate has set Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Season 8 for DVD release on 9/1. Also coming from the studio in September are Crank 2: High Voltage (DVD and Blu-ray) on 9/8 and Shrink on 9/29.

Sony has set the new Blood: The Last Vampire live-action film on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 10/20 (SRP $24.96 and $34.95).

Paramount has announced that their Forrest Gump Blu-ray (due on 11/3) will be available individually and also in a Forrest Gump Chocolate Box Giftset on both DVD and Blu-ray (SRPs TBA). The Blu-ray, as it happens, will include audio commentary (with Robert Zemeckis, Steve Starkey and Rick Carter), audio commentary (by Wendy Finerman), 6 featurettes (Greenbow Diary, The Art of Screenplay Adaptation, Getting Past Impossible: Forrest Gump and The Visual Effects Revolution, Musical Signposts to History: Music as "Chronological Set Design" for the Times of Forrest, Introduction by Ben Fong-Torres, Little Forrest Gump and An Evening with Forrest Gump), Easter eggs and all the archival special features from the DVD.

Meanwhile, CBS has set JAG: The Ninth Season and Mission Impossible: The Final TV Season for DVD release on 11/3 (via Paramount) as well. Following on 11/10 are Hogan's Heroes: The Complete Series, Nash Bridges: The Third Season, SpongeBob SquarePants: Truth or Square and The Untouchables: Season Three, Volume Two.

Fox has set It's a Very Sunny Christmas for DVD and Blu-ray release on 11/17, and The Marine 2 for DVD and Blu-ray release on 12/29.

Stay tuned...

8/10/09

Morning, folks! Hope your weekend was fine, as always. We've got some good new announcement news for you today, so hope your coffee's handy...

The big deal today is, Warner Home Video has officially announced the Gone with the Wind: 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition for release on both DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 11/17. There will be a 2-disc DVD version (SRP $24.98), a 5-disc DVD Ultimate Collector's Edition box set (SRP $69.92) and a 2-disc Blu-ray Ultimate Collector's Edition box set (SRP $84.99). The 2-disc DVD will include the remastered film with audio commentary by historian Rudy Behlmer, split over both discs. The set will also include a limited mail-in offer for a reproduction of the original 1939 poster. The 5-disc DVD will include the 2-disc content, along with...

Disc Three - About the Movie (includes The Making of a Legend 1989 TV documentary, the Restoring a Legend featurette, the Dixie Hails Gone with the Wind 1939 premiere newsreel, the Atlanta Civil War Centennial 1961 premiere newsreel, the 1940 MGM historical short The Old South, the film's international prologue, foreign language version sample scenes and theatrical trailers)

Disc Four - About the Cast (includes the exclusive 2004 Melanie Remembers: Reflections by Olivia de Havilland documentary, 2 Cast Profile featurettes - Gable: The King Remembered and Vivien Leigh: Scarlett and Beyond - and 17 additional Supporting Players featurettes on other cast members including Thomas Mitchell, Barbara O'Neill, Evelyn Keyes, Ann Rutherford, Hattie McDaniel, Oscar Polk, Butterfly McQueen, Leslie Howard, Rand Brooks, Carroll Nye, Laura Hope Crews, Eddie Anderson, Harry Davenport, Jane Darwell, Ona Munson and Cammie King)

Disc Five - New Bonus Disc (includes the all new Warner Bros. Home Entertainment presents 1939: Hollywood's Greatest Year documentary, the Gone with the Wind: The Legend Lives On documentary, the 1980 Moviola: The Scarlett O'Hara Wars WBTV Special - never before seen on home video - and more trailers)

The Blu-ray version will include all of the above content on 2 BD-50 discs. Both the DVD and Blu-ray UCE versions will come packaged in a limited and numbered velvet keepsake box, which will include a 20-page reproduction of the original and complete 1939 souvenir program, a 40-page production history book with photos and production notes, 8 frameable 5x7 art prints and an 8-track CD soundtrack sampler. The Blu-ray version will add the MGM: When the Lion Roars documentary DVD. Note that The Making of a Legend documentary will also be available separately on DVD for SRP $14.97. Here's a look at the Blu-ray UCE packaging...

Gone with the Wind: UCE box contents (Blu-ray Disc)

Also, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has set Lost: The Complete Fifth Season for DVD and Blu-ray release on 12/8. That's not the news. The news is that the Blu-ray version (SRP $79.99) will include an exclusive BD-Live interactive feature called Lost University. From the press release:

"Viewers will be able to join Lost executive producers Carlton Cuse, Damon Lindelof, the cast of Lost, and a panel of esteemed experts for a vast array of courses at Lost University, delving into the themes and storylines regularly explored on the groundbreaking television series. Through this robust, engaging, multi- semester experience, students will gain a better understanding of the story, unique insight to the mysteries of Lost, and perhaps even valuable clues as the show heads into its final season. Lost University will be accessible through several portals, starting now with www.lostuniversity.org, where Lost fans can enroll beginning September 22, 2009, months before the university goes completely live on December 8, 2009. The main campus of Lost University will live on the Lost: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray Disc and will be powered by BD-Live.

Each visit to Lost University through the Lost: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray Disc will connect viewers to a unique and exclusive experience, powered by BD-Live technology. Upon launching the innovative interface, students immediately get access to their personalized lesson plans, compelling HD Audio-Visual presentations and communication from the Lost University faculty and staff. Like any real university, campus life at Lost University is not solely focused on higher learning, pop quizzes and homework. Through an extended web experience, students will be able to pay visits to the campus bookstore to purchase Lost U merchandise, or discuss their school experience and Lost theories through study-groups on the Lost University message boards. Potential students will even have the opportunity to prep for the Lost U experience in advance on www.lostuniversity.org with story and character refresher courses and advanced reading suggestions... all providing information vital to getting up-to-speed with the world of Lost as it heads into its final season.

Lost University expands the world of Lost - viewers won't just visit that world, but begin to understand it. Every semester, Lost University brings students deeper into the mythology, the history, the philosophy, and the mysteries of television's ultimate mystery.

Lost University will offer a wide variety of entertaining and informative courses including... Introductory Physics of Time Travel, History, Family Psychology, The Languages of Lost, Jungle Survival Basics, Deciphering Hieroglyphics, Art of Lost seminar, Philosophy 101 and more."


Fascinating. So... you have to get Lost, so you don't get Lost in Lost. Check!

One last announcement this morning... Fox has set My Life in Ruins for DVD and Blu-ray release on 10/6 (SRP $29.98 and $39.99). Extras will include audio commentary (with actress Nia Vardalos, director Donald Petrie and writer Mike Reiss), delete scenes, an alternate ending and the Everybody Loves Poupi featurette.

Okay, that's it for now. Go get to work. Stay tuned... ;)

8/7/09

Okay, we've finally got some official details on Disney's forthcoming DVD and Blu-ray release of Up, thanks to the Disney Store website! (And special thanks to Bits reader Michael M. for spotting this.) According to the store listing, look for a single-disc DVD (SRP $29.99) and a 4-disc Blu-ray (SRP $45.99). The Blu-ray will include a 2 Blu-rays, the DVD version and a Digital Copy disc. Additional versions MAY also be available. The Blu-ray Disc will include a Cine-Explore viewing option with director Pete Docter and co-director Bob Peterson, the all-new Dug's Special Mission animated short, the Partly Cloudy animated short seen in theatres before the film, 9 behind-the-scenes featurettes and documentaries (including Adventure is Out There, The Many Endings of Muntz, Canine Companions, Geriatric Hero, Russell: Wilderness Explorer, Our Giant Flightless Friend, Kevin, Homemakers of Pixar, Balloons and Flight and Composing for Characters), the Married Life alternate scene, a montage of trailers for the film and the Global Guardian Badge BD-Live Game.

Here's a look at the cover art (note that it's still subject to change). Both are now available for pre-order on Amazon.com...

Up (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy)Up DVD

Finally this afternoon, in news from around the Net, The L.A. Times has a good story up today on how the DVD business is down... but not for the biggest titles. And the Blu-ray market is apparently still growing fast even during the recession. Thanks to Bits reader Marshall C. for the link.

Have a great weekend, Everyone!

(LATE UPDATE - 8/6/09 - 2:15 PM PDT)

We've got some breaking - and VERY sad - news for you: The AP is reporting that director John Hughes has died. Sources indicated that he suffered a heart attack while taking his morning walk in New York City. If you came of age during the 1980s, as I did, Hughes' movies had a major impact on you. Among his films are The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Planes, Trains & Automobiles and She's Having a Baby. But that's not all - as a writer, Hughes worked on such classics as Christmas Vacation, Some Kind of Wonderful, Weird Science, Pretty in Pink, Home Alone and many, many more (see his IMDB page for the complete list). He was just 59 years old.

(EARLY UPDATE - 8/6/09 - 2 PM PDT)

We've got more new announcements to report today...

Now then, Fox has just announced the DVD release of Ally McBeal: The Complete Series on 10/6 (SRP $199.98). The 32-disc set includes all 5 seasons, a new Retrospective featurette, 5 vintage featurettes (Season 2: Fox Behind-the-Scenes, Season 2 TV Special: Life and Trials of Ally McBeal, Season 3 Featurette, Behind-the-Scenes of Season 5 and Season 5: Goodbye, Ally), as well as the Axe Murderer episode of The Practice and The Best of Ally McBeal soundtrack CD. Here's what it looks like (we've also includes artwork for Universal's 30: Rock: Season 3, due 9/22)...

Ally McBeal: The Complete Series30: Rock: Season 3

Also today, Warner and HBO have just announced the DVD and Blu-ray Disc release of Rome: The Complete Series on 11/17 (SRP $99.98 and $139.99). All 22 episodes are included, along with commentaries and featurettes. The Blu-ray also includes an interactive historical guide.

Also coming from Warner and HBO on DVD only is Will Ferrell: You're Welcome America - A Final Night with George W. Bush, Ferrell's first-ever HBO special. It's due on 11/3 (SRP $19.97).

Rome: The Complete Series DVDRome: The Complete Series (Blu-ray Disc)Will Ferrell: You're Welcome America - A Final Night with George W. Bush

Warner has announced the DVD release of Superman: The Complete Animated Series on 11/24 as well (SRP $53.82). All 54 episodes will be included, along with commentary by Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, Alan Burnett, Dan Riba, Glen Murakami, Curt Geda, Jason Hillhouse, James Tucker, and Butch Lukic on many episodes, selectable pop-up trivia tracks and 5 featurettes (Superman: Learning to Fly, Building the Mythology: Superman's Supporting Cast, Menaces of Metropolis: Behind the Villains of Superman, Superman: Behind the Cape and Look, Up in the Sky! The Amazing Story of Superman). You'll also get an exclusive bonus disc including the all-new documentary, The Despot Darkseid: A Villain Worthy of Superman.

Finally, we have full details on the extras you'll find on CBS' 7-disc Star Trek: The Original Series - Season Two on Blu-ray (due on 9/22 - SRP $118.99). Extras will include preview trailers for each episode, a new audio commentary on the episode Trouble with Tribbles with writer David Gerrold, the More Tribbles, More Troubles episode of Star Trek: The Animated Series (in HD) with Gerrold audio commentary, the Trials and Tribble-ations episode from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (in HD), 12 featurettes (Billy Blackburn's Treasure Chest: Rare Home Movies and Special Memories - Part 2, Trials and Tribble-ations: Uniting Two Legends, Trials and Tribble-ations: An Historic Endeavor, Star Trek: The Original Series on Blu-ray, To Boldly Go... Season Two, Designing the Final Frontier, Star Trek's Favorite Moments, Writer's Notebook: D.C. Fontana, Life Beyond Trek: Leonard Nimoy, Kirk, Spock & Bones: Star Trek's Great Trio, Star Trek's Divine Diva: Nichelle Nichols and Enhanced Visual Effects Credits), Starfleet Access viewing mode on 2 episodes (Amok Time and The Trouble With Tribbles), BD-Live connectivity, Mobile Blu enhancement (which allows you to use your iPhone as a remote) and Mobile Blu Content to Go for the iPhone (including Writing Spock, Creating Chekov, Listening to the Actors and Spock's Mother). In other words, this set seems to include everything that was on the original DVD release, with the exception of the Red Shirt Log Easter eggs (those may be made available online via the BD-Live access, as they were for Season One). By the way, the Star Trek's Favorite Moments featurette was previously available only on the Best Buy-exclusive bonus DVD, so including it is a nice touch.

It's also very interesting that an episode each from The Animated Series and Deep Space Nine are included here in full 1080p. The Animated Series would simply have required an HD transfer of the original master print, but Deep Space Nine - like The Next Generation and Voyager - was finished in 480p resolution, so you'd think this episode would have required a complete rebuild from the original camera negatives with newly-rendered special effects. This COULD be a test for future HD rebuilds of these series on Blu-ray down the line. (Note that The Animated Series and Enterprise are essentially already good to go in HD, so you will likely see them released on Blu-ray first.) [Editor's Note: We've confirmed with CBS/Paramount that this is merely a 1080p upconvert from the original 480 digital master - not a full HD rebuild, a la TOS Remastered. Just FYI.]

We can't wait to get our hands on the set, as it should be as fun as Season One was! You can pre-order it from Amazon.com at this link.

Stay tuned...

8/5/09

Afternoon, kids! Well, it's a REALLY slow news day today.... so you know what that means: Time to pluck a pigeon!

But first, one Blu-ray announcement: Lionsgate has just set a Stargate: 15th Anniversary Edition for release on Blu on 10/27 (SRP $29.99). You'll get both the theatrical and extended cuts of the film via seamless branching, along with audio commentary by director Roland Emmerich and producer Dean Devlin, The Making of Stargate documentary and the Is There a Stargate? featurette. You'll also get a 3 all-new featurettes (Deciphering the Gate: Concepts and Casting, Opening the Gate: The Making of the Movie and Passing Through the Gate: The Legacy), a gag reel, the BD-Java Master of the Stargate interactive trivia game and the Stargate Ultimate Knowledge PiP viewing mode.

Now then, back to that pigeon...

It seems that ZDNet's ever-amusing Robin Harris (alias The Monarch - "I'll get you yet, Blu-ray!") has written yet another anti-Blu-ray diatribe, thrilling to the news that Toshiba has licensed its dead HD-DVD technology to Chinese manufacturers for consumption in the Chinese market only as a new "CBHD" format. Man, I love this guy. Seriously, he's always good for a laugh. Naturally, Harris ignores the fact that Blu-ray dominates HD disc delivery everywhere else in the world. Toshiba's move is smart in that it will help recoup their massive HD-DVD financial losses, but the company isn't going to be funding world domination anytime soon with the profits. You see, Chinese consumers, long accustomed to dirt-cheap pirated VCD and DVD media, aren't exactly rushing to adopt HD discs. Not to mention, CBHD is heavily subsidized by the Chinese government... and we all know how well that government's last two attempts at a China-only disc format, SVCD and EVD, went over. DVD's done just fine regardless. Harris also forgets that Hollywood isn't going to allow their titles to be released on the Chinese CBHD format ANYWHERE outside of China. Meanwhile, Toshiba is planning its own Blu-ray player for release everywhere else - you know, THE ENTIRE REST OF THE WORLD. Once again, in the whole history of the format war, from start to finish, Harris wasn't right about ANYTHING. He's a data storage guy (as he admits in his bio on ZDNet) with no experience in the home video industry. By the way, before you take ANYTHING he says seriously, it's well worth checking out the disclosure page on his blog, as well as this page on his own website, where he says he can help your company... wait for it... Harness the Blogosphere!

"The internet allows you to engage directly with prospects - if you invite them in. All kinds of people are out there: harried sysadmins; analytical architects; C-level execs; bored analysts; not to mention your competition. I can help you to use these new tools to reach prospects, position your company and win mindshare. Ask me how."

Yeah, he did it so well during the HD format war, that even after it's long over and done with he's still trying. Let's make a nice cozy campfire and Uncle Robin can thrill us all with his tales of "winning mindshare" on the blogosphere!

Meanwhile, back in the Real-o-Sphere, the facts on the ground haven't changed one bit. This guy's like the Samuel L. Bronkowitz of the Internet. Next he'll claim that Blu-ray will finally get "kicked to the gutter" because the world will end in 2012. See? Here's the proof...



It's a disaster!

BTW, don't you just wanna go out and see that film right now? We'll see you in line at the theatre.

Stay tuned... ;)

8/4/09

We've got more announcement news and cover artwork for you today, so let's get to it.

First up though, Russell has completed the weekly update of the Release Dates & Artwork section with all the latest DVD and Blu-ray cover scans and Amazon.com pre-order links. As always, a portion of anything you order from the retailer after clicking to them though our links goes to help support our work here at The Bits, and we greatly appreciate it!

And our own Dr. Adam Jahnke has just turned in his latest Electric Theatre column, featuring reviews of (500) Days of Summer now in theatres and Gas, Food, Lodging on DVD. Enjoy!

Now then... Universal has just announced the DVD and Blu-ray Disc release of Focus Films' Away We Go on 9/29 (SRP $29.98 and $39.98). Both versions will include 2 featurettes (The Making of Away We Go and Green Filmmaking) and audio commentary with director Sam Mendes and Writers Dave Eggers & Vendela Vida. The Blu-ray will add BD-Live access.

Criterion has announced that the next installment in its Eclipse line of DVD releases - Eclipse Series 18: Dušan Makavejev Free Radical (which includes the films Man Is Not a Bird, Love Affair, or The Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator and Innocence Unprotected) - will street on 10/13 (SRP $44.95).

Warner Home Video has set New Line's Secondhand Lions for Blu-ray release on 12/1.

And Sony has set the catalog titles The Craft, Wolf and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein for Blu-ray Disc release 10/13 (each is already available on DVD). Also coming from the studio on 10/13 is Adoration (DVD and Blu-ray) and a number of DVD-only releases, including An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving, Assassination of a High School President, Playmobil: The Secret of Pirate Island, Married... with Children: The Complete Eleventh Season.

We've also got a little more cover art for you to check out today. Here's a look at Universal's Away We Go on DVD and Blu-ray, along with Disney's Scrubs: The Complete Eighth Season (11/17), and Lionsgate's Wallace and Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death (9/22), Shaun the Sheep: Little Sheep of Horrors (9/1) and Mad Monster Party (9/8) on DVD...

Away We Go (Blu-ray Disc)Away We GoScrubs: The Complete Eighth Season (Blu-ray Disc)

Wallace and Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and DeathShaun the Sheep: Little Sheep of HorrorsMad Monster Party

Stay tuned!

8/3/09

Holey moley, is it August already? Man, this summer's apparently burning on the short fuse. Anyway, I hope you all had a great weekend.

We've got a little news from around the Net for you this morning, and some more cover art...

First up today, Video Business is reporting that Paramount is adopting a new release date strategy for select DVD and Blu-ray titles, starting with the forthcoming Dance Flick. The Blu-ray version will be available on 9/8, as will DVD and Blu-ray rental versions. However, the retail DVD version won't street until 4 to 8 weeks later. The goal is to encourage consumers to start moving to Blu-ray by giving that format a head start at retail. Future titles may be released with this strategy as well, but that will be decided on a title by title basis.

In hardware news, LG has just announced a new line-up of displays and other home theatre equipment to go with their latest Blu-ray Disc players, the BD370 and BD390 (available since May). Both players are fully profile 2.0 compatible, allow streaming/rental connection with Netflix, CinemaNow and YouTube, and decode all the latest lossless audio formats. The BD390 adds wireless networking capability, as well as 1GB built-in memory and discrete 7.1 analog audio outputs. You can read more on the new gear here.

Also, we're starting to see reports from various retail sources online that Disney and Pixar's Up will arrive on DVD and Blu-ray on 11/10, but we haven't yet confirmed that with our sources, so add much salt. More as it comes in.

Here at the site this morning, we've kicked off a new Giveaway, offering each of you the chance to take home copies of Warner and the BBC's The Mighty Boosh: Seasons 1-3 on DVD. Entries will be accepted until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, August 16th. Click on the link for instructions on how to enter your name for the drawing. Good luck!

Also, special thanks to Bits reader Matthew P., who sent in the Battlestar "ears and tails" logo for all of you to use in your custom Complete Series packaging. It's the one found on the front sticker and spine label. I've added it to the insert zip file (along with inserts for the 2CD Season Four soundtrack set), but if you've already downloaded that and just want the logo, here it is. Here's what it looks like (you'll need to size it yourself to fit your binder labels)...

BSG "ears and tails" logo

Also, Bits reader Dan W. has found a great online U.S. source for the Axcess binders - Brodart! All colors are in stock (including Black and Frost covers) and they're selling them for 60% off at the moment.

We'll leave you this morning with that new cover art we promised you... a look at Lionsgate's Wallace and Gromit: The Complete Collection on DVD (9/22), Universal's The Wolf Man: Special Edition - Legacy Series DVD (9/15) and the final cover for CBS's Star Trek: The Original Series - Season Two on Blu-ray (9/22)...

Wallace and Gromit: The Complete CollectionThe Wolf Man: Special Edition - Legacy SeriesStar Trek: The Original Series - Season Two (Blu-ray Disc)

Stay tuned...

7/31/09

Boy, this week sure has flown by! We've got a little more release news to report today, and we've got a bunch of new cover artwork to show you as well.

First though, a lot of you have been e-mailing me wanting to replicate my custom Battlestar DVD/Blu-ray packaging, and it seems that you're having trouble finding a good online source for purchasing the binders. Let me help you... suppliers in the U.S. seem to be few and far between, but Amazon.co.uk carries the binders under the name "Guildhall GLX Ergogrip Binder", and they ship worldwide. (Note that the European binders tend to be 4-ring, while U.S. binders are usually 3-ring, so just make sure your CD inserts accommodate both formats or at least the one you plan to buy. FYI, I purchased CD insert pages that hold 2 discs vertically per side, NOT the wider 4 per side - see pictures here.) Also, Bits reader Dan W. has found a great online U.S. source for the Axcess binders - Brodart! All colors are in stock (including Black and Frost covers) and they're selling them for 60% off at the moment. The binder I used is about 2" thick (so a binder of 50-60mm thickness is about the size you want). I don't have the Battlestar Galactica "ears and tails" logo used on the front and spine, but if anyone does have it in a high-quality scalable/printable format, if you e-mail it to me I'll add it to the zip file for the inserts. [Editor's Note: Thanks to Bits reader Matthew P, who sent in the logo in PNG image format. I've added it to the insert zip file, but if you've already downloaded that, you can download just the logo itself here.] Good luck to all of you on your custom binder projects! Send me pix when you're done so I can see how they all came out. Don't forget, Propworx has great reference images here.

Now then, let's talk new announcements...

20th Century Fox will release a Say Anything: 20th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray on 11/3. Also coming that day on Blu is Two Girls and a Guy.

Meanwhile, Warner Home Video has set the comedy Observe and Report (with Seth Rogen) for release on DVD and Blu-ray on 9/22.

Warner has also set the all-new animated Ruby Spears' Superman for DVD release on 11/3.

And Warner has finally revealed details of its next Looney Tunes release... the 2-disc Looney Tunes Spotlight Collection: Volume 7 will street on DVD on 10/13 (SRP $26.99). The set will contain 26 classic shorts (all previously released on the older Golden Collection sets), including Baseball Bugs, Rabbit Seasoning, Long-Haired Hare, High Diving Hare, Bully for Bugs, Beep Beep, Going Going Gosh, Zipping Along, Stop! Look! And Hasten, Ready Set Zoom, Guided Muscle, Gee Whiz-z-z-z, There They Go-go-go, Scrambled Aches, Zoom and Bored, Daffy Duck and the Dinosaur, Super-Rabbit, Drafty Daffy, Falling Hare, Steal Wool, Birds Anonymous, No Barking, Rabbit Punch, Odor-Able Kitty, Walky Talky Hawky and To Beep or Not to Beep.

There are apparently no plans to release additional Looney Tunes Golden Collections on DVD, and (as we said) the shorts above appear on previous Golden Collection releases. But (and file this in The Rumor Mill-worthy category) sources tell us that there's a chance you MIGHT start seeing classic Looney Tunes product on Blu-ray from WHV in 2010 and beyond. Fingers crossed...

Also, Magnolia is releasing Steven Soderbergh's The Girlfriend Experience on both DVD and Blu-ray on 9/29.

And Lionsgate is expanding their Ghost House Underground line with 4 new titles on both DVD and Blu-ray on 10/6, including Seventh Moon, The Thaw, Jack Ketchum's Offspring and The Children.

Now for that new cover art... we'll leave you today with a look the just-released covers for Fox's Say Anything: 20th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray, Warner's Looney Tunes Spotlight Collection: Volume 7 DVD, A&E's Farscape: The Complete Series DVD box set (11/17) and both the DVD and Blu-ray versions of all of Paramount's new 2009 edition Star Trek movie singles (due 9/22). Most are now available for pre-order on Amazon.com by clicking on the images below...

Say Anything (Blu-ray Disc)Looney Tunes Spotlight Collection: Volume 7The Claudette Colbert Collection

Farscape: The Complete SeriesStar Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (2009 DVD)Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (2009 Blu-ray Disc)

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (2009 DVD)Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (2009 Blu-ray Disc)Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (2009 DVD)

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (2009 Blu-ray Disc)Star Trek: First Contact (2009 DVD)Star Trek: First Contact (2009 Blu-ray Disc)

Have a great weekend! See you Monday.


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