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page updated: 10/12/09



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 9/29/09 - 9/1/09)


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(LATE UPDATE - 9/29/09 - 7 PM PDT)

Okay... we're just checking in with one last late post here today, to bring you my in-depth review of Warner's terrific new The Wizard of Oz: 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition on Blu-ray. The discs are all-inclusive, the new HD remaster is jaw-droppingly awesome, and the added paper swag in the box is pretty cool too. I wish the discs-only Blu-ray were available more widely today (it's currently a Target exclusive), but on the whole it's pretty tough to argue with the quality of what you get in the box... somewhat pricey though it may be. The UCE versions arrived in stores today and are now available. Enjoy the review.

See you tomorrow!

(EARLY UPDATE - 9/29/09 - 1:30 PM PDT)

Afternoon folks! We've got a few pieces of news to report today, and then we'll be back a little later with a review of Warner's Wizard of Oz Blu-ray which streets today.

First, Dr. Jahnke has just posted an update of his Electric Theatre today, featuring his thoughts on Michael Moore's new Capitalism: A Love Story. He also looks at Across the Bridge on DVD in Tales from the Queue. Enjoy!

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

Now then... when you pick up a copy of Disney's Snow White on Blu-ray on 10/6 (review coming soon), you'll notice a trio of interesting trailers on there in full HD - the Beauty and the Beast: Diamond Edition (due late next year), a Dumbo: Special Edition (due early next year - Spring 2010) and Miyazaki's Ponyo (coming soon). All are expected on both DVD and Blu-ray Disc, and based on the HD trailer, all three are going to look spectacular.

In other news today, Image Entertainment has set Ride Around the World: IMAX for DVD and Blu-ray release on 12/1, followed by Knut & Friends on both formats on 12/8 and The Other Man on both formats on 12/15.

Meanwhile, Paramount has set The Tudors: The Complete Third Season for release on DVD on 12/15 (from Showtime).

Sony will release Rescue Me: Season Five, Volume Two on 3-disc DVD on 12/8 (SRP $49.95).

20th Century Fox has set The Marine 2 for release on both DVD and Blu-ray on 12/29.

And our friends at Shout! Factory have set 11/10 as the date that their 17-disc G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero - The Complete Series Collector's Set will be available in stores (SRP $179.99). Up until now, the set has only been available directly by mail from Shout! Factory.

Anybody want a signed copy of the Transformers films on DVD and Blu-ray? Director Michael Bay has offered to do it on his blog. It will cost you between $40 and $150 depending on which version you choose, but for that price you'll get the disc(s) with Bay's autograph and star Tyrese as well. Best of all, all the profits go to the Make a Wish Foundation. Very cool and very classy. You really have to give it to the Bay - that's an offer that makes fans happy and does some real good too. Very cool.

Finally, this is interesting: Sony is going to start including PSP playable digital copy versions of some of its films on their Blu-ray titles - files which can be transferred from the Blu-ray (via the PlayStation 3) to the PSP for portable playback. That's interesting, and makes a lot more sense than continuing to release separate PSP versions that just aren't selling. You can read more here at Home Media. Godzilla and The Ugly Truth will be the first Blu-ray titles to be so enhanced.

We'll leave you for now with a look at the just-released cover art for Warner's Terminator Salvation: Director's Cut on Blu-ray (due 12/1), along with Sony's The Legend of Zorro/The Mask of Zorro Blu-ray Double Feature (also due 12/1) and Showtime's The Tudors: The Complete Third Season on DVD...

Terminator Salvation: Director's Cut (Blu-ray Disc)The Legend of Zorro/The Mask of Zorro Blu-ray Double Feature (Blu-ray Disc)The Tudors: The Complete Third Season

Back later. Stay tuned...

9/28/09

Okay... first up today, we need to shout out some quick Happy Birthday wishes to our very own Adam Jahnke! The good Doctor turned 40 on Saturday, in honor of which a dinner party featuring much debauchery was appropriately held. A good time was had by all, as they say. Many happy returns, Adam!

Also today, we have a new Blu-ray Disc review for you this afternoon. Our own Jeff Kleist has taken an in-depth look at Paramount's new Star Trek: The Next Generation Motion Picture Collection. (It's now available in stores.) Virtually all the previous DVD extras have been included (save for the text commentaries) and there are new extras too. The HD transfers also fare somewhat better than the those in the previous Star Trek: Original Motion Picture Collection BD set. Check out the reviews and enjoy!

In other news today, there's confirmation that Sony's PS3 price cut has helped to drive sales. You can read about that here at Home Media.

And we'll leave with a little more new cover art: Here's Universal's Saturday Night Live: The Complete Fifth Season - 1970-1980 on DVD (due 12/1), as well as Eagle Rock Entertainment and IFC's Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyer's Cut) documentary on DVD and Blu-ray (10/27)...

Saturday Night Live: The Complete Fifth Season - 1970-1980Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyer's Cut)Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyer's Cut) (Blu-ray Disc)

Stay tuned!

9/26/09

Today's post is a quickie... but you Star Trek fans will probably appreciate it. We've got hints for you on how to find the 12 Easter eggs hidden throughout CBS's new Star Trek: The Original Series - Season 2 Blu-ray! A few are easy to find in the menus, but the others require you to enter a 4-digit code with your remote, which people would NEVER be able to figure out without a hint. So thanks to the powers that be, we have some clues for you. Click here for those, and good luck with your search!

We now return you to your previously scheduled weekend, already in progress...

9/25/09

First up this afternoon, we've got another new review for you from our own Jeff Kleist: Fox's new X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Enjoy!

Speaking of Wolverine, if you happen to be in the L.A.-area this evening, director Gavin Hood is going to be signing copies of the film on DVD and Blu-ray at Laser Blazer (10587 W. Pico Blvd, Los Angeles), from 7 to 9PM. We met Gavin at Fox's recent press event for the BD release, and he's a good guy, so be sure to drop on by and say hello.

Also today, we're closing in on the month of October... and you know what THAT means, folks! Yessireebob, it's almost time for Dr. Adam Jahnke's annual Hell Plaza Oktoberfest - his much-loved, month-long tribute to one of our favorite film genres on disc! Each day throughout the month of October, Adam will review a new horror title on DVD or Blu-ray. And to kick things off with a little teaser of what's to come, Adam's chosen a pretty nifty little gem of a flick that's just snuck out on DVD and Blu-ray from Lionsgate - Clive Barker's Book of Blood: Original Director's Cut - directed by our old friend John Harrison. So check out the review, enjoy the movie, and be sure to check back as the clock strikes Midnight on 10/1 for 31 days of terror-ridden fun in Hell Plaza Oktoberfest III!

Also today, Matt and I got into a pretty good conversation at the pub yesterday afternoon, on the subject of remastered special edition releases of great classic albums. Heck, the movie industry has milked just about all its classics to death with elaborate releases, so why doesn't the music industry do the same a little more often? Well, Matt's written up a nice editorial on the subject over at MusicTAP today, so do check it out. The gist is, the audience for SE editions of great albums from the 60s, 70s and 80s is starting to get a little long in the tooth. The music industry probably has - at best - some 15 to 20 years left to really capitalize on the idea by selling such releases to a willing (and cash ready) audience. But once that audience starts retiring in mass (and the oldest members already are), they're not going to have the money to spend anymore. What's worse, most of the under 35 crowd has little interest in classic album releases, much less pricier special edition classic album releases. So you record company guys need to get busy!

Okay... we've got a bit of release news to report to close out the week...

Severin Films has announced that their DVD and Blu-ray release of the sci-fi thriller Hardware (previously announced for 9/29) has been delayed until 10/13. Extras will include audio commentary with director Richard Stanley, an exclusive "making of" documentary, the early Super-8 version of Hardware called Incidents in an Expanding Universe, 2 other short films by Stanley (The Sea of Perdition and Rites of Passage), the Richard Stanley on Hardware 2 featurette, deleted, extended and behind-the-scenes footage, and the film's theatrical trailer.

And in other news (this kind of thing always makes me chuckle), industry market research firm Parks Associates has issued a report claiming that while BD player sales are up, they're "still not taking over the world." Meanwhile, NPD Group has their own report predicting that as BD player prices continue to drop (below $200), Blu-ray is likely to finally penetrate to mainstream consumers by the end of 2010. It just goes to show you, people can frame and spin such data in any way they wish. That said, NPD has been pretty good over the last few years in getting it right, so we wouldn't bet against them. My own personal feeling, is that for Blu-ray to continue doing as well as it has - after a nasty format war and in the midst of a serious recession - this format has good legs and some momentum going for it. Forget the naysayers still trying to fight the format war: BD is doing just fine and will continue to pick up steam in the months and years ahead.

Speaking of which, Toshiba is apparently delivering a new BD-equipped laptop soon. And Apple Insider is reporting that the company may be about to debut a new line of iMac computers equipped with - wait for it - BD drives. Fascinating. We'll see.

All right, that's all for this week. See you Monday with more. Peace out!

(LATE UPDATE - 9/24/09 - 6 PM PDT)

We've got one last update for you this afternoon (or evening, as the case may be) with a new Blu-ray Disc review: CBS' terrific new Star Trek: The Original Series - Season 2. It's every bit as good as the previous Season 1 release, and even includes a few surprises. Don't miss it.

Also today, we have one more bit of announcement news for you: Eagle Rock Entertainment and IFC have officially set the 6-part Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyer's Cut) documentary for DVD and Blu-ray Disc release on 10/27 (SRP $29.99 and $34.99). The DVD version will include 3 discs, while the Blu-ray will be 2 discs. They'll arrive just a week after the series' airing on IFC on 10/18. From the official press release:

"This six-part docu-series, with each episode clocking in at an hour, is the only official, authorized program to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of this series. These recent interviews from John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin, along with archival interview footage from the late Graham Chapman, will unveil the deeper truths behind the expertly executed buffoonery. Commentary is also included from Dan Aykroyd, Tim Roth, Phill Jupitus, Bruce Dickinson, Nick Mason, Eddie Izzard, Seth Green, Steve Coogan, Stephen Merchant, Simon Pegg, and others."

Extras will include tons of extended interviews, several classic sketches (including The Dead Parrot, The Spanish Inquisition, Fish Slapping Dance (a personal favorite of mine), The Ministry of Silly Walks, The Lumberjack Song, The Cheese Shop and SPAM), 11 deleted scenes from the documentary series and a gallery of Terry Gilliam photos. Sounds pretty terrific.

Okay, that's all for today. Back tomorrow with more. Stay tuned...!

(EARLY UPDATE - 9/24/09 - 12:30 PM PDT)

Well folks... it looks like your local Target store is going to have a couple of pretty cool and exclusive Warner Home Video Blu-ray titles on Tuesday (9/29): Gremlins (SRP $22.99) and a BD + DVD/Blu-case version of The Wizard of Oz (SRP $34.99, with no swag). These will only be available at Target for a limited time (likely a few months), after which we assume they'll be available everywhere. Proof will be available in Target's weekly newspaper circular this Sunday. We're also hearing (consider this Rumor Mill-worthy) that Target will have another pair of exclusives on 11/17: Gone with the Wind (in a similar BD + DVD/Blu-case configuration, sans all the big box swag) and Goonies. We'll confirm the latter as soon as we can.

By the way, a number of you have asked about the cut included on the new Watchmen: Ultimate Edition (due 11/3). We're told by the studio that it's the longer Director's Cut version of the film (186 minutes) with most of the animated Tales of the Black Freighter content (38 mins) worked in. Total run time is 215 minutes. (Note that the total combined run time of the two cuts would be 224 minutes, so we assume a little of the Tales footage has been trimmed out to fit the story into the DC edit.) Just FYI.

Also, we've asked Universal about The Wolfman: Special Edition - Legacy Series DVD that was obviously delayed from 9/15. The studio has "no information available" at the moment, but we'd be stunned if it wasn't delayed to better time the release with the theatrical debut of Joe Johnston's The Wolfman remake, due in February 2010, starring Benicio Del Toro. Watch for the DVD to get re-announced later this year.

Back later. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 9/23/09 - 5:30 PM PDT)

Okay... as promised, we're checking in today with a couple more Blu-ray Disc reviews: My own thoughts on Palm's awesome new Talking Heads: Stop Making Sense (with the help of former Bits staffer Dan Kelly) and Disney's new Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman (with added commentary by Todd Doogan). Enjoy!

Back tomorrow. Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 9/23/09 - 1:30 PM PDT)

There's more announcement news today...

Warner has officially set the DVD and Blu-ray release of Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut for 11/3. The DVD will be a 5-disc set (SRP $43.87), while the Blu-ray will be a 4-disc set (SRP $59.99). The film has all the Director's Cut content integrated with Watchmen: Tales from the Black Freighter. The running time is 215 minutes. Extras on both versions will include new audio commentary by Dave Gibbons and Zack Snyder, 5 featurettes (The Phenomenon: The Comic that Changed Comics, Real Super Heroes, Real Vigilantes, Mechanics: Technologies of a Fantastic World, Story Within a Story: The Books of Watchmen and Under the Hood), the Watchmen: Video Journals, My Chemical Romance's Desolation Row music video, the Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comics disc and a Digital Copy of the theatrical version of the film. The sets will be limited to 70,000 copies.

Warner has also announced the DVD and Blu-ray release of The Hangover on 12/15. Available on that day will be a single-disc DVD, a 2-disc Unrated DVD Special Edition and the Blu-ray. Additional details will follow shortly.

Not done yet: Warner has set Terminator Salvation: The Machinima Series for DVD release on 11/3 (SRP $12.97). Directed by Ian Kirby and Tor Helmstein, the title is (according to the press release) a "kick-'bot prequel filmed via the innovative Machinima process that turns video-game elements into a full-blown animated story. Moon Bloodgood reprises her T4 role, providing the voice of Williams as she takes on an explosive mission to track what or who is disrupting comm links during the Resistance's fierce guerrilla war against Skynet."

For Harry Potter fans, Warner is gathering the previous DVD and Blu-ray versions of the film and packaging them in new box sets with the new Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince discs. The Blu-ray version of this set will SRP for $134.99, while the DVD set will sell for $69.98. Street date is 12/8. Also for Potter fans and due on 12/1 (SRP $24.98) will be the Harry Potter DVD Game: Wizarding World, which is the set-top interactive sequel to the previous Harry Potter Hogwarts Challenge game. The new release integrates game elements from films 4, 5 and 6.

And for you NHL fans, Don Cherry's Hard-Hitting Hockey 3 streets on DVD on 11/17 (SRP $24.98) featuring 80 minutes of the best action from the 2008-2009 season.

Finally, a number of you have asked about the status of Universal's long-awaited The Wolf Man: Special Edition - Legacy Series DVD, which had been announced for release on 9/15 but was later quietly pulled from their release schedule. We've got an inquiry into the studio, so we'll let you know what's up as soon as they get back to us.

And in other news today, for those of you having problems with Lionsgate's Crank 2: High Voltage Blu-ray, the studio has created a page on their website to help you deal with the issue. Apparently, it only affects a couple models of profile 2.0 Blu-ray players, and all you need to do to resolve the issue is to make sure you have a memory card in your player. Players will built-in memory have no problems. The reason it's happening, is that the disc off-loads files to the player's memory to help the menus and navigation load faster. Those files get off-loaded to whatever memory is on hand, so if there's built-in memory or a card in the slot, no problem. If there's no internal memory and external memory isn't available, the disc hangs. Players compatible with profile 1.0 and 1.1 aren't impacted at all.

Also, those of you with Oppo's BDP-83 player may be having trouble with Fox's new X-Men Origins: Wolverine Blu-ray. Basically, the disc hangs during load-up. Apparently, the disc uses a new updated version of BD+, so Oppo is working on a firmware update to address the issue. In the meantime, you can still watch the disc on your player. All you have to do is install the current BETA firmware (dated 9/9 and available here - just follow the instructions), then reset the player to factory default settings, delete the persistent memory cache and temporarily disable BD-Live - all from the player's setup menus. Once you do that, the movie and all standard extras will play normally. You just won't be able to access the BD-Live IMDB content until the new firmware update is available. I have to say, I'm really impressed with Oppo's customer support. I sent them an e-mail on this issue yesterday morning, and I had a response WITHIN 30 minutes. Now THAT'S what I call service!

We'll leave you with more cover artwork today... here's Warner's Magnolia Blu-ray (1/19/10) and both versions of the Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut...

Magnolia (Blu-ray Disc)Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut (Blu-ray Disc)Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut (DVD)

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 9/22/09 - 2:30 PM PDT)

Okay, we've got a couple more things for you this afternoon...

First, we've got THREE more Blu-ray Disc reviews for you today... a look at Disney and Miramax's HERO by yours truly, along with Jeff's take on Iron Monkey and The Legend of Drunken Master. They're a bit of a mixed bag, I'm afraid. The new HD video presentations are major improvements over the previous DVD releases, particularly HERO, but the lossless audio tracks are English-dubbed only. Check the reviews for all the details. And Watch for Zatoichi and more new BD reviews tomorrow.

Also today, our own Dr. Adam Jahnke has turned in a new Electric Theatre column update, with reviews of The Informant!, now playing at your local shoebox google-plex, and also Frontier(s) on DVD. Enjoy!

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 9/22/09 - 11:30 AM PDT)

Okay... we've got a couple things to report this morning...

But first, we've just updated 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 Amazon through our links helps support our work here at The Bits and we really appreciate it.

Now then... we've got a follow-up on CBS' announcement yesterday of the Blu-ray release of Star Trek: The Original Series - Season Three on 12/15. I asked longtime Trek veteran Mike Okuda what Where No Fan Has Gone Before might be, and he responded thusly: "It is the original cut of Where No Man Has Gone Before, the second pilot episode. The reassembled original cut of The Cage is also supposed to be included." So there you have it, straight from the source.

In other news today, Synapse Films has announced the DVD release of the 1980 French horror film Night of Death on 10/27 (SRP $19.95).

Meanwhile, Anchor Bay has set Ashton Kutcher's Spread for DVD and Blu-ray release on 11/10 (SRP $29.98 and $34.98).

Lionsgate has announced the DVD only release of The Biggest Loser: Last Chance Workout and The Biggest Loser: 30-Day Jump Start on 12/1, followed by The Cove on 12/8 and Murder by Decree and Psycho Ward on 12/15.

And 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has set Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian for release as a single-disc DVD (SRP $29.98), a limited Monkey Business 2-disc DVD edition ($34.98) and a Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy combo pack ($39.99), all on 12/1.

Back in a bit with more. Stay tuned...

9/21/09

Hope you guys all had a great weekend! We've got some interesting release news for you today, but first other business...

We're pleased this afternoon to bring you a trio of brand new Blu-ray reviews. Barrie's given Summit's Knowing a spin for you (now available), and I've got reviews of Universal's Away We Go (due 9/29) and Warner's Fringe: The Complete First Season (now available). All three are well worth your time. Additional reviews will be posted throughout the week, so do check back.

Also here at the site today, we've kicked off a pair of new Giveaways, offering each of you the chance to take home copies of Lionsgate's Wallace & Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death on DVD. We're also pleased to be able to offer you a chance to win a copy of Warner's forthcoming Wizard of Oz: 70th Anniversary Ultimate Edition box set on Blu-ray! Entries will be accepted until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, September 29th. Click on the links to see how you can enter your name, and good luck!

One last note before we get to the release news. Over the weekend, I FINALLY completed my Battlestar Galactica viewing marathon. It took me a full two months, but I've now watched the entire series on Blu-ray, from pilot to finale - all the episodes, all the extended episodes, every deleted scene and every webisode. I think I drove Sarah crazy with the effort, but what a treat it was! The only other thing I can really compare it to, is seeing The Lord of the Rings Trilogy Tuesday with Matt a few years back - all three movies back to back in a theatre, surrounded by other diehard fans. It was that kind of thrill. One thing that really surprised me when re-watching Battlestar on Blu-ray, was how much I'd forgotten since the first time I saw some of the early episodes on SciFi. You know, they would run 12 eps or so, and then take 6 months off or more before running the next batch. The problem is, there are lots of little subtle details and connections you just forgot about in that time. So when the new episodes ran, as good as they were, there were things you'd just missed - hints and clues, etc. I was STUNNED at how well all the little pieces of the series fit together, from the pilot all the way to the end. And I was equally impressed at not only how well the show held up, knowing what all the surprises, twists and revelations would be already, but how much BETTER the experience actually was because of knowing! Ron Moore has said in interviews that he and the writers never really started thinking about how the show was going to end until well into the second season. Well, you'd never know it! So much of what plays out in the final episodes builds on tone, plot and character elements that were in place right from the very start. Rarely have I taken a journey in film or television that is as well-rounded, daring, complete and satisfying as Battlestar Galactica. As I said, Lord of the Rings is the only thing that really compares to it. The characters evolve and change, and yet stay true to themselves. Some are lost along the way. Unexpected events happen, and expected ones play out in COMPLETELY unexpected ways. Battlestar is just the greatest TV series I've seen... maybe ever. (It KILLS me that the show never got acknowledged with an Emmy, likely because of its name and the fact that it was on the SciFi Channel. I suspect the TV Academy will look back one day and realize what a mistake they made.) In any case, the thrill of watching it from start to finish in high-definition is a rare treat that everyone should get to experience at some point. I HIGHLY recommend it. This kind of thing is why we've loved DVD for more than a decade here at The Bits, and it's why we love Blu-ray so much now.

Okay... just had to get that off my chest. ;)

Now then... Warner has just officially announced the Blu-ray Disc release of another New Line catalog title... Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia on 1/19/10 (SRP $28.99). Included will be the Magnolia Video Diary, the Frank T.J. Mackey Seminar video, the Seduce and Destroy infomercial, Aimee Mann's One and Save Me music videos, and the film's trailers and TV spots. In short, the contents of the previous DVD release.

Also today, you Star Trek fans will be pleased to learn that CBS and Paramount's Star Trek: The Original Series - Season Three will arrive on Blu-ray Disc on 12/15, completing the release of the classic series on the format. As before, you'll get all the episodes in both original and remastered format - including the Where No Fan Has Gone Before alternate pilot episode (that's not a typo - that's what CBS appears to be calling the original unaired/unedited version of Where No Man Has Gone Before) - and 11 featurettes (2009 Convention Coverage (hosted by David Gerrold), Life Beyond Trek: Walter Koenig, The Anthropology of Star Trek (Comic-Con 2009 panel), Chief Engineer's Log, The World of Rod Roddenberry (Comic-Con 2009 panel), Memoir From Mr. Sulu, Captain's Log: Bob Justman, Collectible Trek, Star Trek's Impact, To Boldly Go... Season Three and Billy Blackburn's Treasure Chest: Rare Home Movies and Special Memories, Part 3), plus the BD-Live portal and preview trailers.

Also coming in December on DVD from Paramount is The Tudors: The Complete Third Season (for Showtime, due 12/15) and Taxi: The Final Season (due 12/22). CBS is also releasing (via Paramount) a Hogan's Heroes: The Complete Series - Kommandant's Kollection on DVD on 11/10.

Meanwhile, Sony has set The Mask of Zorro, a 2-pack of The Mask of Zorro and The Legend of Zorro, and Snatch for Blu-ray Disc release on 12/1.

And Disney has set G-Force for DVD and Blu-ray Disc release on 12/15.

Here's a look at cover art for CBS' Star Trek: The Original Series - Season Three on Blu-ray and Hogan's Heroes: The Complete Series - Kommandant's Kollection on DVD, along with Universal/Focus Film's Thirst on DVD (11/17)...

Star Trek: The Original Series - Season Three (Blu-ray Disc)Hogan's Heroes: The Complete Series - Kommandant's KollectionThirst

Stay tuned!

9/18/09

Afternoon, folks! Okay... we've got just a couple more items for you today, and then we're going to get back to working on those reviews so we can finally get them posted for you guys.

We do have a couple things for you today...

First, we've got photos of the expanded contents of those two new Harry Potter: Ultimate Editions due on 12/8 (the first two films, available in both DVD and Blu-ray versions). Here's what the contents of each BD box will look like (you can expect the DVD versions to be similar)...

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - Ultimate Edition (Blu-ray Disc)

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - Ultimate Edition (Blu-ray Disc)

Also, Sony has revealed the cover art for its Leon: The Professional Blu-ray (due 11/17). Here it is along with Paramount's DVD art for the Transformers: Two-Movie Mega Collection (10/20) and Criterion's final box art for that AK 100: 25 Films by Akira Kurosawa box set we mentioned yesterday (due 12/8)...

Leon: The Professional (Blu-ray Disc)Transformers: Two-Movie Mega CollectionAK 100: 25 Films by Akira Kurosawa

One note on the Criterion Kurosawa set: A few people have asked if this will ever been released on Blu-ray Disc. As you may know, select titles HAVE already been released by Criterion on BD, and it's possible that more will arrive in the months and years ahead. But our guess is it will be a while. Many of Kurosawa's films are being released on Blu-ray Disc in Japan in all-region Masterworks Editions, but our information is that these don't have English subtitles, so unless you speak Japanese, they're of little use. Looks like DVD is as good as it's going to get here in the States for the foreseeable future - especially some of the more obscure titles in the director's filmography.

Okay... it's back to work for us. Have a great weekend!

9/17/09

Okay folks... here's a title that Doogan and I have been hoping to see arrive on DVD for more than a decade now! Our friends over at Criterion have just announced that they're going to be releasing AK 100: 25 Films by Akira Kurosawa on DVD on 12/8 (SRP $399, but it's available for pre-order on Amazon for just $299). This extraordinary set will come enclosed in a linen-bound box and will include an illustrated companion book. Released on the 100th anniversary of the legendary Japanese director's birth, the set will include 25 of his films on 25 DVDs - the most complete such set ever released in the U.S. - 4 of which have never been available on the DVD format in this country. Included will be:

The Bad Sleep Well (1960), Dodes'ka-den (1970), Drunken Angel (1948), The Hidden Fortress (1958), High and Low (1963), I Live in Fear (1955), The Idiot (1951), Ikiru (1952), Kagemusha (1980), The Lower Depths (1957), Madadayo (1993), The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail (1945 - new to DVD), The Most Beautiful (1944 - new to DVD), No Regrets for Our Youth (1946), One Wonderful Sunday (1947), Rashomon (1951), Red Beard (1965), Sanjuro (1962), Sanshiro Sugata (1943 - new to DVD), Sanshiro Sugata, Part II (1944 - new to DVD), Scandal (1950), Seven Samurai (1954), Stray Dog (1949), Throne of Blood (1957) and Yojimbo (1961)

Each of these films is presented with a restored digital transfer, with audio in the original Japanese and English subtitles. The companion book features an introduction and notes on each of the films by author Stephen Prince (The Warrior's Camera: The Cinema of Akira Kurosawa) and a remembrance by author Donald Richie (The Films of Akira Kurosawa). Here's what this magnificent box will look like (note that the packaging isn't final, so what you see is subject to change)...

AK 100: 25 Films by Akira Kurosawa

AK 100: 25 Films by Akira Kurosawa

It's worth noting that of the Kurosawa's complete filmography, only The Quiet Duel (1949), Dersu Uzala (1975), Ran (1985), Dreams (1990) and Rhapsody in August (1991) are missing from this set. The U.S. release rights to each is owned by other studios as follows: The Quiet Duel (BCI/Eclipse), Dersu Uzala (Kino), Ran (Wellspring/Genius Products/now Vivendi??), Dreams (Warner) and Rhapsody in August (MGM). All are currently available on DVD separately.

Also today, Criterion has revealed that they'll release The Rolling Stones: Gimmie Shelter on Blu-ray Disc on 12/1 (Cat# 99 - SRP $39.95), featuring a new high-definition digital transfer of the uncensored thirtieth-anniversary version, remastered and restored from the camera original, exclusive Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 surround-sound mixes, audio commentary featuring directors Albert Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin and collaborator Stanley Goldstein, additional performances by the Rolling Stones at Madison Square Garden in 1969 (including Little Queenie, Oh Carol and Prodigal Son, plus backstage outtakes), excerpts from KSAN Radio's Altamont wrap-up (recorded December 7, 1969, with introductions by then DJ Stefan Ponek), an Altamont stills gallery (featuring the work of renowned photographers Bill Owens and Beth Sunflower), original and re-release theatrical trailers and a booklet with essays (by Mick Jagger's former assistant Georgia Bergman, music writers Michael Lydon and Stanley Booth, and film critics Amy Taubin and Godfrey Cheshire).

The Rolling Stones: Gimmie Shelter (Criterion Blu-ray Disc)A Christmas Tale (Criterion)A Christmas Tale (Criterion Blu-ray Disc)

Finally, Criterion is releasing Arnaud Desplechin's A Christmas Tale (Un conte de Nol) on both DVD and Blu-ray on 12/1 (Cat# 492 - SRP $39.95 each), featuring a restored high-definition digital transfer supervised and approved by director Arnaud Desplechin with a DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack, Desplechin's 2007 L'aime documentary about the selling of his family home, a new Arnaud's Tale documentary featuring interviews with Desplechin and actors Mathieu Amalric and Catherine Deneuve, original theatrical trailers and a booklet featuring an essay by critic Philip Lopate.

Here's more big news... Warner Home Video has set Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince for DVD and Blu-ray Disc release on 12/8. There will be a single-disc DVD (SRP $28.98), a 2-disc DVD ($34.99 - with Digital Copy) and a Blu-ray combo pack that includes DVD and Digital Copy versions ($35.99). Extras will include a pair of behind-the-scenes documentaries, including one on author J.K. Rowling's work writing the final book in the series, 2 short featurettes on the cast, deleted scenes, a look at Universal Orlando's new Harry Potter-themed attraction and more. Here's what the cover art for the two DVD versions will look like (Warner hasn't released the final BD cover yet)... [Editor's Note: Updated to include BD art just in.]

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (single-disc DVD)Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2-disc DVD SE)Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Blu-ray Disc)

That same day, Warner is also releasing a pair of titles we've known about for a while now, but we finally have more details on - new DVD and Blu-ray Ultimate Editions of the first two Harry Potter films, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (SRP $39.92 each on DVD and $49.99 on Blu-ray). Each will include both theatrical and "extended" versions of the films, 48-page photo books, new cast introductions, screen-test footage, all-new featurettes, Digital Copy versions and many (if not all) of the extras from the previous versions as well. You'll also get new In Movie Experience and Maximum Movie Mode options on the Blu-ray versions featuring director Chris Columbus, complete with PIP video, photos and artwork. Here's a look at the Blu-ray & DVD box covers - note that these are large, oversized box sets, not standard cases...

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - Ultimate Edition (Blu-ray Disc)Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - Ultimate Edition DVDHarry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - Ultimate Edition (Blu-ray Disc)

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - Ultimate Edition DVD

And here's more exciting news for you anime fans: Manga and Anchor Bay will be releasing the animated Blood: The Last Vampire and the original Ghost in the Shell: Version 2.0 on Blu-ray Disc on 11/14 (SRP $29.97 each)! Blood: The Last Vampire will include The Making of Blood the Last Vampire documentary and both HD and SD versions of the film. Ghost in the Shell: Version 2.0 will include The Making of Ghost in the Shell 2.0 documentary, subtitled commentary with director Mamoru Oshii and animation director Toshihiko Nishikubo, and an interview with the director. Here's a look at the cover art...

Blood: The Last Vampire (Blu-ray Disc)Ghost in the Shell: Version 2.0 (Blu-ray Disc)

And in other news today, it appears that there's a problem with Lionsgate's Crank 2: High Voltage Blu-ray on some models of BD player - particularly those without a memory card. Apparently, the disc tries to read data to your player's memory card when it boots and if this process fails, the disc plays incorrectly or not at all. Netflix has reported the problem to its customers and has pulled the disc from rental cues awaiting replacements. Lionsgate is apparently working on replacements and we'll update you on that when we have official word.

Stay tuned...

9/16/09

Here's some cool Blu-ray release news...

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has revealed that it's going to be releasing The Mel Brooks Collection box set on Blu-ray on 12/15 (SRP $139.99). The 9-disc set will include BD versions of Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs, Young Frankenstein, High Anxiety, History of the World, Part 1, Robin Hood Men in Tights, Silent Movie, To Be or Not to Be and Twelve Chairs. Of these, only Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs and Young Frankenstein have been released on the format previously. Here's a look at the cover art and contents of the box set...

The Mel Brooks Collection (Blu-ray Disc)Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian Triple Play (Blu-ray Disc)

The Mel Brooks Collection (Blu-ray Disc)

As you can see from the cover above, Fox has also announced a Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian Triple Play Blu-ray due on 12/1 (SRP $39.99), which will include the Blu-ray plus DVD and Digital Copy versions.

By the way, we've learned from industry sources that Fox will likely announce the release of Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge! on Blu-ray in the weeks ahead, and we've confirmed that the studio continues to work on The Alien Anthology Blu-ray box set for release in 2010.

And on the standard DVD front today, Warner has set E.R.: The Complete Twelfth Season for release on 1/12/09 (SRP $49.98), followed by Jonathan Creek: Season 4 on 1/19/10 (for the BBC - SRP $34.98).

Finally, we need to take a moment today to acknowledge the passing of actor Henry Gibson. Gibson's name might not ring a bell for you younger readers, but anyone who grew up in the 1960s will recall him as a member of the cast of Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In. My fellow Generation X-ers probably knew him best from Robert Altman's Nashville, as well as his turn as the head of the Illinois Nazis party in John Landis' The Blues Brothers. It might also surprise many of you to know that Gibson provided the voice of Wilbur the Pig in the animated Charlotte's Web. More recently, he had a recurring role as a befuddled judge on TV's Boston Legal and he also appeared in the big-screen comedy The Wedding Crashers. Gibson was 73.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 9/15/09 - 4 PM PDT)

We've got a couple more bits of announcement news to report today...

First up, Universal has set Bruno (DVD and Blu-ray - SRP $29.98 and $39.98), The Limits of Control (DVD only), Thirst (DVD only) and The Best of Monk (DVD only) all for release on 11/17. The Bruno Blu-ray will also include a Digital Copy version of the film.

Also today, Warner is finally making a pair of long-desired catalog films available on DVD via Manufacturing-on-Demand (MOD) from their Warner Archive program: Wrestling Ernest Hemingway and Men Don't Leave. Each is now available for $19.95. Also newly available on the Archive are a collection of the vintage Dogville Comedies, along with Airborne, Angus, Crossroads, Experiment Perilous, The Heavenly Body, I Take This Woman, Ice Palace, Killer McCoy, Penn & Teller Get Killed, a collection of 5 Randolph Scott Westerns (Carson City, Badman's Territory, Westbound, Return of the Bad Men and Trail Street) and The Search, as well as a collection of all 52 of the MGM Our Gang shorts.

You know, a few readers have expressed some irritation that these titles are only available via MOD, and are not being released into stores. But I must say, we really LOVE the Warner Archive philosophy. Part of the problem for Warner (and any studio) as they delve into their deeper catalog on DVD, is that most of these titles are only going to sell in relatively small numbers even in the best of times, to say nothing of the current recession economy - some probably in the hundreds of units at best. Once you add up the cost of telecine, remastering, packaging, manufacturing and marketing, there's just no profit to be made. This is, after all, a business like any other. To make matters worse, if any of you have spent much time at your local video retailer, you'll know that the selection of deep catalog at most retail outlets is pretty limited these days. Not many Best Buys, Targets or Wal-Marts want to devote valuable shelf space to a film like Killer McCoy, when they can more profitably use that space for extra copies of Star Trek, Wolverine or Terminator Salvation. So releasing deep catalog material on DVD can be a real challenge. By going the MOD route, Warner cuts down the costs to make the films available, and so creates a modest economic incentive for the studio to release them. And the bottom line is that the films are finally available for those fans who really want them. Everybody wins. The Warner Archive program has had its share of bugs to work out in terms of quality and pricing - and we wish they'd partner with Amazon.com to make titles more easily accessible - but all in all we think it's a great program for both the studio and movie fans alike. We suspect other studios will eventually follow Warner's lead and create their own Archive MOD programs in the months and years ahead.

Speaking of the Warner Archive... we'd LOVE to see Chevy Chase's Under the Rainbow and Peter Sellers' The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu released in the Archive in the months ahead. Just FYI, Warner. ;)

Finally today, there's word from Variety that while The Brothers Weinstein have sold the catalog video release rights to their films to Vivendi Entertainment (which means we might finally see the long-awaited ultimate versions of Kill Bill and Grindhouse on DVD and Blu-ray from Vivendi in the next year or two), they're holding rights for their new releases for partnerships with other studios. The first such case is Universal, which will be releasing Inglorious Basterds on DVD and Blu-ray later this year. (Street date TBA.)

That's all for now. Rest assured, reviews are coming. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 9/15/09 - 3 PM PDT)

We'll be back with more after a bit, but I just wanted to make a very quick update with some nice breaking news: A friend over at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has e-mailed me today with an update on the studio's forthcoming Blu-ray Disc release of The Professional (due on 11/17). The information on the studio's press site was apparently inaccurate. We're pleased to inform you all that Sony's confirmed that the BD release will actually be Leon: The Professional, and will include BOTH the much-loved international cut as well as the U.S. theatrical version. This is in addition to the extras we mentioned yesterday, which should include 3 featurettes (10 Year Retrospective: Cast and Crew Look Back, Jean Reno: The Road to Leon and Natalie Portman: Starting Young), as well as a BD-Java Fact Track. That's very good news indeed for fans, which we definitely are.

Also, I posted the wrong updated price last night for the Apple TV - it should be $229, not $299. I've updated the post below accordingly.

Back later... stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 9/15/09 - 12:01 AM PDT)

There's sad news to report this morning, as I suspect many of you have already heard. Actor Patrick Swayze has died. Swayze passed away late yesterday afternoon following a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was just 57. His list of film credits was long, most memorably including The Outsiders, Point Break, Dirty Dancing, Road House, Red Dawn and Ghost. Most recently, he appeared on cable TV on A&E's The Beast. It's always sad when someone whose work you've enjoyed over the years passes away, but from all reports Swayze was a pretty good human being too, making his loss just that much harder. But it goes without saying that he'll be missed.

Here at The Bits today, our own Dr. Adam Jahnke has posted another great new update of his Electric Theatre column, featuring reviews of the new CG-animated 9, now in theatres. He also looks at A Dry White Season on DVD in the Tales from the Queue portion of his column. Don't miss it!

Also this morning, we've once again updated the Release Dates & Artwork section with all the latest DVD and Blu-ray cover scans, as well as Amazon.com pre-order links. As ever, a small portion of anything you order from the retailer after clicking to them through our links goes to help support our work here at The Bits and we greatly appreciate it.

In other news today, Apple has apparently decided to lower the price of its 160GB Apple TV streaming video player to just $299. [Editor's Note: Actually it's now $229 - sorry about the confusion.] They've also dropped the 40GB model completely. You can learn more about the device here at Apple's official website. (It's also available here from Amazon.com for $199.)

In release news, Acorn Media has announced the DVD release of the original U.K. version of Life on Mars: Series 2 on 11/24 (SRP $59.99). Extras will include the 45-minute The Return of Life on Mars documentary, the 28-minute The End of Life on Mars featurette, additional behind-the-scenes footage for 3 episodes and a tour of the set.

Finally, Lionsgate has announced the DVD release of Dancing with the Stars: Dance Body Tone, Dancing with the Stars: Dance off the Pounds, YogaWorks: Beginners AM/PM, YogaWorks: Fit Abs, YogaWorks: Body Slim, Death Warrior and a Silent Night Deadly Night box set (includes Silent Night Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out, Silent Night Deadly Night 4: Initiation and Silent Night Deadly Night 5: The Toymaker - each released on DVD for the first time ever) all on 12/1. Note that the home video rights to the original Silent Night Deadly Night and Silent Night Deadly Night, Part 2 are owned by Anchor Bay and both films have been released on DVD previously.

Back later with more. Stay tuned...

9/14/09

Okay... let's start the new week with some new title announcements.

Sony has set The Ugly Truth for release on DVD and Blu-ray on 11/10 (SRP $29.96 and $39.95).

Speaking of Sony, it appears that the studio's The Professional Blu-ray will include just the U.S. theatrical cut - not the International version. Extras will include 3 featurettes (10 Year Retrospective: Cast and Crew Look Back, Jean Reno: The Road to Leon and Natalie Portman: Starting Young), as well as a BD-Java Fact Track.

Meanwhile, Paramount will release a Transformers: Two-Movie Mega Collection DVD gift set on 10/20. It will be a 2-disc set including both the DVD versions of the original Transformers and the new Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. We believe a 4-disc Blu-ray version is set for release on 11/3.

And Lionsgate is releasing a new film adapted and directed by an old friend of ours here at The Bits, John Harrison. His Clive Barker's Book or Blood: Original Director's Cut will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on 9/22 (SRP $26.98 and $39.99). Both will include a behind-the-scenes featurette and a trailer gallery. Audio on the Blu-ray is DTS-HA MA 5.1, while the DVD will feature Dolby Digital 5.1. Here's the cover art...

Clive Barker's Book or Blood: Original Director's Cut (Blu-ray Disc)Clive Barker's Book or Blood: Original Director's CutGodzilla (Blu-ray Disc)

As you can see, we've also posted Blu-ray art for Sony's Godzilla (due 11/3).

And in hardware news, a number of Blu-ray player manufacturers announced new models of player at the recent CEDIA convention in Atlanta, many capable of streaming online video content. Net-connected HDTVs were big as well. It also appears that 3-D was a big draw at CEDIA this year, and we expect it will be huge at CES this coming January. You can read more here and here at Home Media, as well as here and here at Twice.

Also this afternoon, it looks like Vivendi Entertainment (which owns Universal Music) just purchased the rights to the Genius Products catalog. You can read more more on this is available at Home Media.

Finally today, we wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the passing of Larry Gelbart, who helped create and produce one of the greatest TV series in the history of the medium... M*A*S*H. He also wrote a number of episodes of the series during its first four seasons, and later wrote scripts for such films as Tootsie and Oh, God! as well. He'll be missed.

We're working on a number of new disc reviews today, so we'll be back with those soon. Stay tuned!

9/11/09

First up this afternoon, here's the big news: Disney has officially announced a new Diamond Collection line of 14 marquee animated Blu-ray titles due for release in the years ahead. The line-up will be an upgrade of the existing Platinum Edition DVD titles, and will begin with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on 10/6. New Diamond Collection titles will street at a rate of about two per year, slated through 2016. Entries for 2010 will include Fantasia and Beauty and the Beast. (Fantasia 2000 will also street in 2010.) Future titles will include The Lion King, Bambi, Cinderella, Lady and the Tramp, The Little Mermaid, Peter Pan, The Jungle Book, 101 Dalmatians, Sleeping Beauty and Pinocchio. According to the studio's press release "these titles represent the highest level of picture and sound, feature groundbreaking, state-of-the-art immersive bonus content, and include unprecedented levels of interactivity, personalization and customization, only made possible by Blu-ray technology." You can read the studio's full press release here.

Speaking of Disney, the studio has teamed up with the folks at Panasonic again to promote the Blu-ray format during the upcoming holiday season. As part of this program, the studio is launching the DisneyUpgrade2Blu.com website in early October. (Note that it's not yet live as of this writing.) The site will offer consumers a coupon for $10 off the upgrade of Disney titles they currently own on DVD to existing and future Blu-ray versions. The program will start with Snow White and will expend to all catalog titles in the months ahead. Read more here at Home Media.

In more release news, Warner has announced the DVD and Blu-ray release of New Line's Four Christmases on 11/24 (SRP $28.98 and $35.99). Extras will include featurettes, deleted scenes, a gag reel and more.

We've also got a little more word on some of the featurettes to expect on Warner's forthcoming Terminator Salvation DVD and Blu-ray (due 12/1). According to the BBFC website, you can look forward to the likes of Reforging the Future, Creating the VLA Attack, Digital Destruction, Enlisting the Air Force, Stan Winston Shop, Building the Gas Station, Napalm Blast, Hydrobots, An Icon Returns, Terminator Factory, Molten Metal and the Science of Simulation, Exploding Seren's Lab in Miniature and The Moto-Terminator. More as we have it.

Not sure if we've mentioned this one before, but Universal has set Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Season Four as a 4-disc set for release on DVD on 11/24 (SRP $39.98).

In other news, Dr. Jahnke and I attended a special press preview of Fox's X-Men Origins: Wolverine Blu-ray yesterday (the title is due to street next Tuesday on both DVD and BD). The Blu-ray will feature an interesting new special feature - an interactive Live Lookup BD-Live mode. Have you ever wondered what other movies a particular actor has appeared in while watching a film? With Live Lookup, you'll be able to connect during the film to the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) for live, updated listings. You can select actors in the scene you're viewing by character name, actor name, the actor's face and more. The layout is very smart and intuitive, and the feature seems to work quite well. Each time you put the disc in your player (if you have an Internet-connected unit), it will download the updated information, so you can view it during the film. The data is stored in the memory, so you can view it when you're not connected to the Net as well. It's pretty cool. The press event at the Fox lot was attended by director Gavin Hood and producer Lauren Shuler Donner, who talked about the film, the character of Wolverine and the Blu-ray features in general. Hood in particular seems very excited by the Blu-ray format. "What's great about Blu-ray is that it really comes as close as possible to that first original screening [of your film]," he noted, after complaining about how often he's suffered through screenings of his films and been disappointed by the presentation quality, even in most theatres. I have to confess, I haven't seen the film yet myself (though Adam's reviewed it previously here), but I'm certainly looking forward to it more now than I was before. In addition to the usual commentary and deleted scenes, there are a number of behind-the-scenes featurettes on the Blu-ray in full HD, including a great one featuring comic legends Stan Lee and Len Wein talking about the origins of the character and more. We'll post a full review as soon as we get our hands on the disc.

Speaking of reviews, we're working on a whole bunch of them that we expect to roll out next week, so be sure to check back then.

We'll leave you today with a look at DVD cover art for Warner's Terminator Salvation and Universal's Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Season Four, as well as Sony's Whatever Works Blu-ray (10/27)...

Terminator Salvation DVDAlfred Hitchcock Presents: Season FourWhatever Works (Blu-ray Disc)

Okay, Matt and I will be eagerly rooting for our respective NFL football teams as the new season begins this weekend, and I'm sure many of you will be doing the same. So we wish you all a wonderful weekend, and good luck to your teams. (Except Cleveland, of course - go Vikings!)

See you back here on Monday!

9/10/09

Let's get an early start on things today, shall we?

Sony has just announced a new Blu-ray player featuring streaming Internet video at the CEDIA Expo. The BDP-N460 hits stores next month for about $250. In addition to the latest BD content, you'll be able to stream movies and TV programming on-demand via the Bravia Internet Video platform, along with video and music from YouTube, Slacker and (this fall) Netflix. The BDP-N460 also has a built-in wireless modem compatible with the Linksys Dual Band Wireless-N router. For more, you can read Sony's official press release here.

Meanwhile, we've got more new cover art for you to check out. Here's a look at Warner's The Green Berets Blu-ray (1/5/10), Sony's Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics I DVD box (11/3) and Sex, Lies and Videotape Blu-ray (11/17), and Anchor Bay's The Haunted World of El Superbeasto (9/22), Universal's live action Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (10/13) and Magnolia's The Girlfriend Experience (9/29) all on Blu-ray...

The Green Berets (Blu-ray)Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics ISex, Lies and Videotape (Blu-ray Disc)

The Haunted World of El Superbeasto (Blu-ray)Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Blu-ray Disc)The Girlfriend Experience (Blu-ray Disc)

Stay tuned...

9/9/09

Okay... what a busy day this has been! Whew!

Anyway, we've kicked off a pair of new Giveaways here at The Bits today, giving each of you the chance to take home copies of Universal's Heroes: Season Three on Blu-ray and The Office: Season Five on DVD. Entries will be accepted until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, September 20th. Click on the links and follow the instructions to enter and good luck!

Now then, here's some release news...

The BIG news today is that Warner Home Video has officially set Terminator Salvation for release on DVD and Blu-ray on 12/1 (SRP $28.98 and $35.99). There appears to be a single-disc DVD edition and a 3-disc Blu-ray. We haven't seen the official press release, but the Blu-ray version looks to include BOTH the theatrical and director's cut version of the film, Warner's Maximum Movie Mode, Focus Points, BD-Live, a Media Center, 2 featurettes (Re-Forging the Future and The Moto-Terminator), a Resist or Be Terminated Video Archive, the Terminator Salvation Official Movie Prequel Digital Comic Issue #1, a Live Community Screening option, a My Commentary option and a Digital Copy version of the film. Additional extras are still TBA.

Warner has also announced that the John Wayne classic The Green Berets will debut on Blu-ray on 1/5/2010 (SRP $28.99). Extras will include the vintage The Filmmakers: The Making of The Green Berets featurette. The title is already available on DVD.

20th Century Fox has set Aliens in the Attic for release on both DVD and Blu-ray on 11/3 (SRP $29.98 and $39.99). The Blu-ray will also include a DVD version and a Digital Copy version.

Lionsgate has also announced a number of new Ghost House Underground titles due on 10/6 on both DVD and Blu-ray, including Seventh Moon, Offspring, The Thaw and The Children (SRP $19.98 and $29.99). Also coming is The Gate: Monstrous Special Edition on DVD only (SRP $19.98).

Sony has revealed that Godzilla will street on Blu-ray on 11/10 (SLP $24.95) and will include commentary with visual effects supervisor Volker Engel and associate visual effects supervisor Karen Goulekas, 2 featurettes (Behind-the-Scenes of Godzilla with Charles Caiman and All Time Best-of Godzilla Fight Scenes), 3 short films (What Dreams May Come, Monster Wars: Part 1 and Where is Thy Sting), a photo gallery and the Wallflowers' Heroes music video. Exclusive to the new BD edition will be an Ultimate Godzilla Multi-Player Trivia Game, MovieIQ, cinechat, a sneak peek at Rolland Emmerich's 2012 and a Digital Copy.

Meanwhile, Mile Films has set Kent Mackenzie's 1961 film The Exiles for DVD release on 11/17 (SRP $29.99). The 2-disc set will include elaborate bonus features including audio interviews and commentary and several additional Mackenzie short films.

Hen's Tooth has also announced a new DVD version of The Asphyx (SRP $19.95) due on 10/27.

CBS and Paramount have announced a few DVD titles for release on 12/8, including Perry Mason: The Fourth Season - Volume Two, SpongeBob SquarePants: Season 6, Volume 1 and The Fugitive: Season 3, Volume 2.

Finally, our friends over at VCI Entertainment have provided us with more details on their forthcoming Buck Rogers: 70th Anniversary Edition DVD release (due on 11/3 (SRP $29.99). The classic 1939 serial has been remastered from the 35mm negative, and will come with a rare 1933 Buck Rogers short, 3 video features (The History of Buck Rogers by Clifford Weimer, Buster Crabbe: The All-American Hero and video of the 80th Anniversary Buck Rogers Panel at this past Comic-Con), liner notes by author Hank Davis, a photo gallery and the original theatrical trailer.

Here's a little bit more new cover art: Hen's Tooth's The Asphyx and VCI's Buck Rogers: 70th Anniversary Edition both on DVD, and your first look at the packaging for Fox's Fight Club: 10th Anniversary Edition on Blu-ray (due 11/17)...

The AsphyxBuck Rogers: 70th Anniversary EditionFight Club: 10th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray Disc)

Fight Club: 10th Anniversary Edition

Stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 9/8/09 - 6 PM PDT)

All right, here's a late post for you, but an important one. We've finally got an update for you on the status of Warner's Lord of the Rings: Theatrical Trilogy Blu-ray Box Set, which was unofficially expected to street on 11/3. As many of you know, the studio has been teasing it for months now via inserts in other BD packaging, a streamable HD trailer for the set on their BD-Live server and a pre-order entry on the Warner Shop site. Amazon and other retailers have a listing for the title too, and there's even cover artwork available as you can see here.

The Lord of the Rings: Theatrical Trilogy Blu-ray

More recently however, the studio has suspiciously failed to announce the title with an official press release, and the WB Shop entry for the release has now disappeared. All of this has left many of you understandably scratching your heads, and we've been getting dozens of e-mails from readers over the last couple days asking for an update.

So here's the deal: We've been talking throughout the afternoon with our sources at Warner Home Video (and elsewhere in the industry) to see what's up. You should all consider the following information Rumor Mill-worthy, as again the title hasn't even been officially announced. But here's what we can tell you...

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy Blu-ray release HAS been pushed into early 2010. Sources at the studio tell me that it's now tentatively set for release in March of next year. There's no official reason for the delay, because again the title hasn't even officially been announced. But the sense we're getting is that the studio already has a number of big 3rd and 4th quarter titles coming on Blu-ray this year - think Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, North by Northwest, etc - and they didn't want Rings to get lost in the crowd. Pushing it back five months into early 2010 gives them more time to prepare and promote the title, and there will be still more BD players in people's homes after the holidays anyway.

So there you go. All of this is subject to change, of course, but that's the unofficial official word for now: Reset your calendars for March 2010. Watch for WHV to make their formal announcement closer to the end of the year.

On a related note, all the studio/legal wrangling over the forthcoming Hobbit prequel films have now been worked out by the courts, so with a little luck pre-production can finally start in ernest. You can read more here at The Hollywood Reporter.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 9/8/09 - 12:01 AM PDT)

Morning, folks! Let's get an early start on things today, shall we?

As promised, we're back this morning with Barrie Maxwell's latest Classic Coming Attractions column, featuring reviews of 9 recent classic film releases on DVD, as well as a rundown of all the latest classic announcement news. Titles reviewed include Sony's Icons of Screwball Comedy: Volume One and Volume Two, Flicker Alley's Lost Films of John Gilbert, Legend Films' The Outlaw, VCI's Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theatre: Complete Season One, and the Warner Archive's Nora Prentiss, Juke Girl, The Man I Love, and The Hard Way. Enjoy!

Also this morning, we've updated the Release Dates & Artwork section with all the latest DVD and Blu-ray cover art and Amazon.com pre-order links. As always, a small portion of anything you order from Amazon after clicking to them through our links goes to help support our work here at The Bits and we appreciate it!

And in news from around the Net today, Home Media has just announced the results for the DVD Critics Awards, for which I was a judge and which also featured "Consumer Favorite" catagories for which (we hope) you all voted. For the first time ever this year, a TV title took the top honors. Here's a complete rundown of all the winners...

2009 DVD Critics Award Winners

Title of the Year: The Sopranos: The Complete Series, HBO
Best Theatrical Title: The Dark Knight, Warner
Best TV DVD: Mad Men: Season One, Lionsgate
Best Classic/Catalog Title: The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration Gift Set, Paramount
Best Collection/Multidisc Set: The Sopranos: The Complete Series, HBO
Best Nonfiction Title: Young @ Heart, 20th Century Fox
Best Animation Title: Wall-E, Disney
Best Kidvid Title: Tinker Bell, Disney
Best Nontheatrical Title: Stargate: Continuum, Fox/MGM
Best Extended Cut/Director's Cut: Step Brothers, Sony
Best Extras: Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Universal
Best Packaging: Masters of Horror: Season Two, Anchor Bay
Best Blu-ray Disc: Planet of the Apes: 40-Year Evolution, 20th Century Fox

Consumer's Choice Categories

Consumer Favorite DVD/Blu-ray Release: The Dark Knight, Warner
Funniest DVD/Blu-ray: Robot Chicken: Star Wars, Warner
Best Action Title: The Dark Knight, Warner
Best Sci-Fi Title: Wall-E, Disney
Best Superhero Title: The Dark Knight, Warner
Best Western Title: 3:10 to Yuma, Lionsgate
Best Period Piece: Band of Brothers (Blu-ray), HBO
Best Single Extra: The Making-Of Documentary on Sleeping Beauty: Platinum, Disney

Congratulations to all!

Back later with more. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 9/7/09 - 2 PM PDT)

Say Beatles fans... you guys interested in a copy of the A Hard Day's Night: Collector's Edition on Blu-ray? Well, you'll be able to pick up one THIS Wednesday morning... if you live in Canada. That's right, Alliance has the Canadian release rights and they're cranking it out on Blu just 2 days from now. Word is it's 1080i and Region A only, but still. The good news, however, is that U.S. fans can get a copy through Amazon.ca. Click here to pre-order your copy now (for just $19.95 Canadian dollars - or about $18.51 U.S. dollars)...

A Hard Day's Night (Canadian Blu-ray)The Beatles: Rock Band

As many of you know, this is timed to coincide with the release of The Beatles: Rock Band videogame this week (on Xbox 360, PS3, etc - see all the versions on Amazon by clicking here or on the cover above). Unfortunately, there's no word as to when the U.S. version will be released by Miramax, which owns the rights on THIS side of the border. ;)

It's all part of the service. Stay tuned!

(EARLY UPDATE - 9/7/09 - 1 PM PDT)

Afternoon, folks! And happy Labor Day for all those of you here in the States. Given that this is a big holiday here, and the last chance for millions of kids to have a little fun prior to school heading back into session, there's not much going on news-wise today. But as always, we do have a couple interesting things to report...

First of all, Sony has officially set Angels & Demons for DVD and Blu-ray release on 11/24. As always, there will be a single-disc theatrical edition DVD (SRP $28.96), a 2-disc extended edition DVD (SRP $36.95) and a 2-disc Blu-ray (SRP $39.95). By pricing the 2-disc DVD at nearly $40, the studio seems to be trying to encourage consumers to make the jump to high-def. Extras on the 2-disc DVD and Blu-ray will include 7 featurettes, a DVD-ROM score mixing option (featuring music from composer Hans Zimmer) and more. You'll also get Sony's MovieIQ BD-Live feature exclusively on the Blu-ray, as well as both the theatrical and extended editions, an interactive Rome map and a Digital Copy version of the film.

By the way, Sony has also announced the BD release of Sex, Lies and Videotape on 11/17, along with Luc Besson's The Professional (it's as yet unclear if this will include the theatrical version, the International cut, or both). The Spectacular Spider-Man: Volume 5 arrives on DVD on 11/17, and a 5-disc Film Noir Collection One: Collector's Choice box set (includes The Big Heat, 5 Against the House, The Lineup, The Sniper and Murder by Contract) streets on 11/3.

In news from around the Net today, Video Business is reporting that BD-Live usage has gone up recently as more discs and players offering BD-Live interactivity are released. According to Deluxe Digital Studios, which authors the discs and administrates many of the studios' BD-Live servers, consumers are connecting via more than 4 million BD-Live discs each month on average. The story features comments from an old friend of ours, Peter Staddon (formerly of Fox) and there's some interesting stuff in there, so do check it out.

Also, Eric Taub of The New York Times' Gadgetwise Blog has conducted an informal "Blu-ray vs DVD View-Off" and he's just posted a column based on his findings. Here's a couple of interesting comments:

"The difference in picture quality between Blu-ray and standard-definition DVD was very obvious. But the difference is accentuated when you get the chance to flip back and forth between the two."

"The cost difference between the two [DVD and Blu-ray] is barely more than $100, and once that declines even further, there will be little reason for the average consumer not to choose Blu-ray when looking for a DVD machine."


Well said, Eric.

And finally, it appears that the Blu-ray format just got another boost, in the form of a half-million new PlayStation Slim game systems. According to the folks over at VGChartz.com, the PS3 Slim sold over 500,000 units in its first week. Interesting.

We'll leave you today with a look at the cover art for all three versions of Sony's Angels & Demons. Behold...

Angels & Demons (Blu-ray)Angels & Demons (theatrical DVD)Angels & Demons (Extended DVD)

Back tomorrow with Barrie's new Classic Coming Attractions. Enjoy your last day of vacation and stay tuned!

9/4/09

There's not much news to report today, given the long holiday weekend, so we're doing a little behind-the-scenes work here at the site this afternoon. However, there are a couple of quick things worth mentioning...

Fox has released the Glee: Season One Pilot - Director's Cut on DVD exclusively at Wal-Mart stores. The DVD (SRP just $5) should now be available at Wal-Mart outlets. I have to say, Sarah arm-twisted me into watching this... and it's pretty damn funny. It's kind of a combination of Election, Ferris Bueller and a dash of High School Musical. But don't let that last one scare you. It's not sugar-coated exclusively for pre-teens. It's much more twisted, savvy and subversive. And surprisingly fun. You can watch it here online for free (or obviously get the DVD), so do check it out.

Also, Dark Sky Films has set Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer for Blu-ray release on 9/29 (SRP $29.98), complete with director's commentary, deleted scenes, documentaries and other extras. The film is already available on DVD.

And Shout! Factory is releasing Secret Policeman's Balls: The Secret Policeman Rocks! on DVD on 9/29 as well (SRP $14.99). This a "best of" disc, compiling some of the best musical performances from the Balls over the years. Performers include Sting, Eric Clapton & Jeff Beck, Pete Townshend, Phil Collins, Kate Bush, Mark Knopfler & Chet Atkins, David Gilmour, Dave Stewart, Bob Geldof, John Williams, Peter Gabriel and The Secret Police. You'll also get the new 80-minute The Secret Policeman's Private Files documentary.

In other news, we've have a little bit more new cover art to share with you today. Paramount's just released the artwork for their forthcoming Forrest Gump: 15th Anniversary - Life Is Like a Box of Chocolates box set due on 11/3. Here's the Blu-ray and DVD versions, as well as what the contents inside look like...

Forrest Gump: 15th Anniversary - Life Is Like a Box of Chocolates (DVD)

Forrest Gump: 15th Anniversary - Life Is Like a Box of Chocolates (Blu-ray Disc)

Forrest Gump: 15th Anniversary - Life Is Like a Box of Chocolates

We've also got newly revised and updated final cover art for Paramount's Star Trek DVD and Blu-ray (due 11/17). Here's the 3-disc Blu-ray, the 2-disc DVD and the single-disc DVD...

Star Trek (3-disc Blu-ray)Star Trek (2-disc DVD)Star Trek (single-disc DVD)

Now then, Barrie's submitted a new Classic Coming Attractions column, so we should have that for you early next week. In the meantime, all of you have a great Labor Day weekend.

Peace out!

9/3/09

Well, folks... this is officially a very big day in the high-definition and home video worlds. How so, you ask? Toshiba finally unveiled it's very first Blu-ray Disc player this morning. The newly-unveiled BDX2000 will carry an SRP of $249.99 when it arrives in stores in November. The player will feature full Profile 2.0 (BD-Live) functionality, an SD card slot for memory expansion, compatibility with all Blu-ray lossless audio formats (Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD, etc) and even AVCHD playback. Interestingly, it will NOT play Toshiba's own now-defunct HD-DVD software, nor does it feature Toshiba's much-ballyhooed XDE upconverting technology. However, it doesn't need to - as a Blu-ray player it's capable of upconverting standard-definition DVD material to 1080p 24fps. You can read more here via the company's official press release, and you can also read a little bit more on Toshiba's promotional splash page for the player. Meanwhile, here's what the BDX2000 looks like...

Toshiba BDX2000 Blu-ray Disc player

Welcome to Blu-ray, Toshiba! It's good to have you guys finally on the BD bandwagon.

In other news today, Warner and HBO have officially announced the Blu-ray Disc release of The Sopranos: The Complete First Season on 11/24 (SRP $69.98). The title is already available on DVD.

Also newly announced by Warner and HBO is the original Get Smart: Season Five on 12/8 (SRP $24.98).

Warner has also announced the DVD and Blu-ray release of My Sister's Keeper for New Line. Street date is 11/17 (SRP $28.98 and $35.99).

The studio has also set The Smurfs: Volume Three for DVD release on 11/17 (SRP $14.97).

Finally, Magnolia has set the documentary Food, Inc. for DVD and Blu-ray Disc release on 11/3 (SRP $26.98 and $34.98). Extras will include celebrity PSAs, 40 minutes worth of deleted scenes, and the Nightline: You Are What You Eat segment.

Here's a little new cover art... HBO's Get Smart: Season Five DVD and The Sopranos: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, along with Lionsgate's Requiem for a Dream Blu-ray (due 9/8)...

Get Smart: Season FiveThe Sopranos: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray Disc)Requiem for a Dream (Blu-ray Disc)

Stay tuned...

9/2/09

Okay... we've got a new High-Def Matters column from our own Barrie Maxwell. Included are Barrie's reviews of Criterion's For All Mankind, In the Realm of the Senses and The Seventh Seal, MGM's The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and The Man with the Golden Gun, HBO's John Adams, Warner's 2010, Image's Powder Blue, Disney's The Greatest Game Ever Played and Race to Witch Mountain, Paramount's Echelon Conspiracy and The Soloist, E1 Entertainment's What Doesn't Kill You and Sony's Starman, all on Blu-ray. Do check it out.

Also today, we've posted Jeff's own thoughts on Disney's Race to Witch Mountain
on Blu-ray. Enjoy!

The big news today, is that the BDA has set its minimum specs for adding 3-D to the Blu-ray format. The BDA will require 1080p image delivery to each eye, and 3-D discs must contain a 2-D version to ensure backwards compatibility for those Blu-ray players unequipped to handle 3-D. New players and displays will be required to handle the higher refresh rates required. You can read more at Home Media and Video Business.

Speaking of 3-D on Blu-ray, Panasonic is kicking off a 3-D Home Theatre Rolling Road Show tour to demonstrate their technology for displaying 3-D on the format. You can read more on the tour at Home Media, and you can visit the official website here (which will soon be updated with dates, locations and additional information). I can tell you from first-hand experience that their 3-D presentation is pretty fantastic, so be sure to check it out if you can. By the way, it's Panasonic that's working with director James Cameron on the 3-D presentation of Avatar in theatres.

In release news today, Fox has officially announced the DVD and Blu-ray release of Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs on 10/27. Look for a single-disc, movie only DVD (SRP $29.98), a 2-disc "Scrat Pack" DVD (SRP $34.98) and a 3-disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack (SRP $39.99). The single-disc DVD includes filmmaker commentary. The 2-disc DVD includes adds 2 Scrat shorts (Gone Nutty: Scrat's Missing Adventure and No Time for Nuts), 8 featurettes (The Sabre-Toothed Squirrel: Natures Nutty Buddy, Scrat: From Head to Toe, Scrat: Breaking Story, Scrat: News Report, Fox Movie Channel Presents: Making a Scene, Buck... Easel to Weasel, Falling for Scratte and Unearthing the Lost World), plus the Walk the Dinosaur music video and 3 interactive games (Scrat Pinball, Eggshell and Bubble Trouble). The Blu-ray will add an interactive Ice Age Story Maker, 2 unfinished deleted scenes, something called Evolution Expedition, 4 additional Fox Movie Channel Presents featurettes (In Character with John Leguizamo, In Character with Ray Romano, In Character with Queen Latifah and Making a Scene: Ice Age 2), plus the movie-only DVD and a Digital Copy version.

Finally this afternoon, while we've posted the DVD art for Ice Age III previously here's the Blu-ray cover art from Fox, along with BD art for Paramount's It's a Wonderful Life (11/3) and Image's The Echo (11/10)...

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (Blu-ray Disc)It's a Wonderful Life (Blu-ray Disc)The Echo (Blu-ray Disc)

Stay tuned!

9/1/09

Afternoon, disc fans!

First up today, the good Dr. Jahnke has posted a new update of his Jahnke's Electric Theatre today, featuring a review of Uli Edel's The Baader Meinhof Complex. Dare you to say THAT three times fast. Enjoy!

Also, our own Russell Hammond has once again updated the Release Dates & Artwork section with all the latest DVD and Blu-ray cover art and Amazon.com pre-order links. As always a small portion of anything you order from the retailer after clicking to them via our links helps to support our work here at The Bits, and we appreciate it!

Now then... 20th Century Fox has just officially announced the Blu-ray Disc release of David Fincher's Fight Club: 10th Anniversary Edition on 11/17 (SRP $34.99). It appears that the disc will include everything that was on the previous DVD edition, along with 2 new featurettes (A Hit in the Ear: Ren Klyce and the Sound Design of Fight Club and Flogging Fight Club), as well as the interactive Insomniac Mode: I Am Jack's Search Index (featuring Commentary Log and Topic Search) that allows you to easily access all the disc's special features. The A Hit in the Ear featurette is also interactive, letting you re-mix the surround sound of 4 key scenes with the help of Oscar-nominated sound designer Ren Klyce. Pretty cool.

Meanwhile, Sony has set The Three Stooges Collection: Volume 7 - 1952-1954 for DVD release on 11/10 (SRP $24.96), including 22 more remastered shorts on 2 discs.

Universal has set Saturday Night Live: The Best of Amy Poehler for release on DVD on 10/20 (SRP $19.98).

Lionsgate will release Battle for Terra on DVD and Blu-ray on 9/22 (SRP $19.98 and $29.99).

And Image Entertainment has announced a number of new Blu-ray titles, including Adam Resurrected (9/22), Management (9/29), Dinosaurs Alive! (IMAX - 10/6), American Violet and Kong: Return to the Jungle (10/13), The Crew (10/20), Mummies: Secret of the Pharaohs (IMAX - 11/3) and The Narrows (11/3). Some are already available on DVD, while the new release titles will also have a DVD release the same day.

Finally, Paramount and Amazon have a pretty cool exclusive version of the Star Trek (2009) Blu-ray (due on 11/17). For $90.99, you get the Star Trek: Limited Edition Replica Gift Set, which includes the 3-disc Blu-ray (includes Digital Copy) plus an 8.5-inch long textured steel and pewter replica of the Starship Enterprise modeled by QMx directly from ILM's visual effects files. It comes with a Certificate of Authenticity signed by ILM VFX supervisor Roger Guyett, and the whole package is a limited edition of just 5,000. Here's a look (you can pre-order it by clicking on the image). Absolutely badass...

Star Trek: Limited Edition Replica Gift Set (Blu-ray Disc)

We'll leave you today with new DVD and Blu-ray cover art for Sony's Night of the Creeps: Director's Cut (10/27), Blood: The Last Vampire (10/20) and The Taking of Pelham 123 (11/3)...

Night of the Creeps: Director's Cut (Blu-ray Disc)Night of the Creeps: Director's CutBlood: The Last Vampire

Blood: The Last Vampire (Blu-ray Disc)The Taking of Pelham 123The Taking of Pelham 123 (Blu-ray Disc)

We've got TWO new columns from Barrie coming this week, the first starting tomorrow. And watch for more reviews from Jeff tomorrow as well. As for me today, Sarah and I are celebrating our 19th anniversary this afternoon. So you know... you've gotta have priorities.

One last note: Let me know what you guys think about the Braveheart and Gladiator Blu-rays I reviewed yesterday, which hit stores today. Rest assured, if there are any studio developments regarding Gladiator this week, I'll be sure to update you all.

Everyone have a great day, and we'll see you back here tomorrow!


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