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





page updated: 4/21/10



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 4/15/10 - 3/15/10)


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4/15/10

Okay... a couple things today...

First, Criterion has announced more great new titles coming to the Collection in July on DVD and Blu-ray, including Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's The Red Shoes (Catalog #44 - due 7/20 on DVD & Blu-ray) and Black Narcissus (#93 - also due 7/20 on DVD & Blu-ray), as well as Abdellatif Kechiche's The Secret of the Grain (#524 - due 7/27 on DVD & Blu-ray). Also coming is The Only Son/There Was a Father: Two Films by Yasujiro Ozu (#524 - due on 7/13 on DVD only).

Second, this is rather interesting: Samsung has issued a warning of sorts advising pregnant women, children and teens and anyone under the influence of alcohol or with a history of epilepsy that they might be "susceptible to health issues associated with viewing in 3D" on Samsung's 3D HDTV displays. So the future is here... but it might cause epileptic seizure, stroke or a case of the spinnies. I guess we shouldn't be surprised - a good action film 3D experience (like Avatar) is akin to a ride on a rollercoaster, with all the good and bad that comes with it.

All right... now for the main topic of today's post...

Every great once in a while, you learn something that just blows your mind. You know, changes your perspective. Shifts the landscape. Rocks the ground beneath you. Lifts the veil and reveals Truth. Well... something like that happened to me yesterday. You see, I'm a Tombstone fan (coming to Blu-ray in on 4/27 in what is essentially a movie-only edition). It's one of my all-time favorite films. But somehow - maybe because those involved worked hard to keep it secret for many years, and the secret was "kept" by Disney's Vista Series DVD release a few years back... I don't know - somehow, I had no idea that it was Kurt Russell who essentially directed the film, not George P. Cosmatos as credited.

Now, a few of you are probably going, "Yeah, dude... where have you been?" And a few of you may not care about the film to begin with. But I suspect that the rest of you, who ARE fans of Tombstone, might be as stunned as I was. All I can say is, now that I know, all these dominoes have suddenly fallen into place in my mind... and the shock of it has rendered me pretty much incapable of getting any work done today. I'm not kidding: My head is spinning with this revelation. I am in dire need of, and will shortly join my old pal Matt Rowe at the local pub to have, a beer or two to commiserate on the subject.

Upon learning the truth of this film's production late yesterday, I've discovered some interesting reading (with the help of readers) that hints at the film's fascinating behind-the-scenes story - a story that has yet to be properly told on disc. First, Entertainment Weekly magazine published a piece (back in December 1993) about the film's production just prior to its initial theatrical release, which reveals some of the shooting difficulties and battles on the set. (Thanks to Bits reader Ian C. for the link.) Several months later, EW published a second story (in July 1994) on how poorly Kevin Costner's Wyatt Earp film did in the wake of Tombstone's earlier release. Reading the first story, you do learn that Russell stepped in as director for a time, but the full extent of his efforts aren't fully revealed. Both stories hint at Costner's efforts to kill Tombstone, but also don't fully illuminate the situation. Then in late 2006, Henry Cabot Beck (who had visited the set of Tombstone briefly) wrote a surprising piece on the film's production for True West Magazine (the October issue), based on an interview he'd conducted several months earlier (during the shooting of Poseidon) with actor Kurt Russell. Keep in mind that Cosmatos - the credited director of Tombstone - had recently passed away (in April 2005). So in the new True West piece, Russell essentially revealed for the first time in public that yes, he had in fact essentially been the real director of Tombstone, but he'd promised Cosmatos that he wouldn't say anything about it while Cosmatos was still alive. The True West article was also referenced in an online story by Hollywood Elsewhere in September, in which a little background on the interview itself was revealed. Now let me tell you... if you love Tombstone as I do, I strongly encourage you all to check out these articles. They're absolutely fascinating. I should also note that these articles refer to Kevin Jarre's original script for the film. You can read that here at The Daily Script if you're interested. You gotta love the Internet!

Now, here's the thing... there is clearly an amazing and as-yet-untold story behind the making of this film. And these articles suggest that Russell has a ton of outtake and deleted footage from the film, so there's the potential for him to create a whole new and longer cut of the film - a TRUE Director's Cut. In my review of the new Blu-ray, I observed that 2013 is the film's 20th Anniversary. Of course, you know what this means. There absolutely MUST be created, for the anniversary, a new Tombstone: Ultimate Collector's Edition box set on DVD and Blu-ray, with Russell himself directly involved. I'm talking an all-out, balls-out, in-depth, Blade Runner-style special edition. Call it the O.K. Coral edition, package it with a replica of Russell's U.S. Marshal's badge from the film... what have you. But it's gotta have Russell's involvement and commentary, maybe his new cut or at least deleted scenes, and especially an elaborate behind-the-scenes documentary on the true story behind the film's production.

It. Simply. Must. Happen. The movie gods demand it.

Hey, Disney? You guys better get ready, 'cause you're gonna be hearing from me on this one... ;)

All right. That's it for today. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 4/14/10 - 2:30 PM PDT)

There's more great catalog news today...

20th Century Fox has just announced plans to release more of its major catalog titles on Blu-ray (and DVD) this year, as part of its 75th anniversary celebration. Specifically, the studio has confirmed that its 3rd and 4th quarter Blu-ray slates will officially include The Alien Anthology box set (all four films restored in a new 6-disc set packed with extras - including EVERYTHING from the Quadrilogy DVD box and new content as well), The Rocky Horror Picture Show: 35th Anniversary Edition (including new special features, live cast re-enactments and karaoke), The Sound of Music: 45th Anniversary Edition (restored with 7.1 lossless audio, and new features), William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet (with a new HD transfer and BD-Live features), Moulin Rouge! (also a HD transfer with BD-Live content) and The Last of the Mohicans (in an all-new director's "definitive cut" with new features including an interview with star Daniel Day Lewis). There's also a massive DVD box set of Fox films coming this fall, and more. Some of those BD titles we knew about already, and some are new, so good news all around. We'll post additional details as they come in over the coming months.

By the way, I've updated the Tombstone Blu-ray with (*ahem*) an interesting footnote. If you're a fan, do check it out.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 4/14/10 - 1:30 PM PDT)

Okay... I've got those reviews for you: My own look at Disney's new Blu-ray editions of Armageddon and Tombstone, due on 4/27. There's good news and bad news. One of the two is well worth your money, with a gorgeous new high-definition transfer. The other is not so much. Read on.

Now then... some more release news...

Criterion has just released their Essential Art House: Volume V DVD box set (SRP $99.95), including David Lean's Brief Encounter, Federico Fellini's , Yasujiro Ozu's Floating Weeds, François Truffaut's Jules and Jim, Gillo Pontecorvo's Kapò and Milos Forman's Loves of a Blonde.

And Warner Home Video has just announced a big new Elvis 75th Anniversary promotion arriving on 8/3, including the Elvis on Tour documentary on DVD and Blu-ray (SRP $19.97 and $34.99 - the Blu-ray in Digibook packaging), the Elvis BD Collection (SRP $49.99 - includes Elvis on Tour, Viva Las Vegas and Jailhouse Rock), and a 17-film Elvis: 75th Anniversary - Ultimate Collector's Edition DVD box set (SRP $74.92). The 17-film box set includes Jailhouse Rock, It Happened at the World's Fair, Kissin' Cousins, Viva Las Vegas, Girl Happy, Tickle Me, Harum Scarum, Spinout, Double Trouble, Stay Away, Joe, Speedway, Live a Little, Love a Little, Charro!, The Trouble with Girls, Elvis: That's the Way It Is - Special Edition, Elvis on Tour and This Is Elvis, along with a collectible concert photo book and 10 "reproduction memorabilia pieces", including studio correspondence and signed Elvis Presley checks.

Also newly announced by Warner and TCM for release on DVD on 8/3 is an Errol Flynn Adventures box set (SRP $49.92), including Desperate Journey, Edge of Darkness, Northern Pursuit, Uncertain Glory and Objective, Burma!

Here's a little more new cover artwork for you, including DVD art for Sony and Weinstein's The Road (due 5/25), along with Sony's Bad Boys (6/1) and Lionsgate's Dirty Dancing: Limited Keepsake Edition (5/4 - which we hear has a brand new HD transfer) on Blu-ray...

The Road (DVD)Bad Boys (Blu-ray Disc)Dirty Dancing: Limited Keepsake Edition (Blu-ray Disc)

Stay tuned...

4/13/10

Evening, folks. I had a lot more planned for today, but I'm working on a couple of Blu-ray Disc reviews, and it's just taking a lot longer than expected to go through them. So I should have those for you tomorrow.

In the meantime, our own Dr. Jahnke has a new Electric Theatre column for you today, featuring reviews of Date Night (now in theatres) and also Dead Snow (on DVD in Tales from the Queue). Enjoy!

Also today, our own Russell Hammond has completed the weekly update of our Release Dates & Artwork section as well, featuring lots of new DVD and Blu-ray cover art and Amazon.com pre-order links. As always, a portion of anything you order from Amazon after clicking through to them from our links goes to help support our work here at The Bits and we really appreciate it.

And in release news, Warner Home Video has set No Time for Sergeants for DVD release on 5/4.

Also, Fox has set The Illusionist for Blu-ray + DVD combo release on 6/8 (SRP $24.99), followed by Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief for release on DVD and Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy on 6/22 (SRP $29.98 and $39.99). Extras on Percy will include 10 deleted scenes, 6 featurettes (Secrets of the Gods, The Book Comes to Life, Inside Camp Half-Blood, On Set with Brandon T. Jackson, Meet the Demigods and Composing for the Gods: A Conversation with Christophe Beck), along with the Discover Your Powers Quiz.

Here's a look at the cover art for Universal's In Bruges (7/13), MGM's Showgirls (6/15) and Fox's Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief, all on Blu-ray...

In Bruges (Blu-ray Disc)Showgirls (Blu-ray Disc)Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief (Blu-ray Disc)

Don't forget that Glee returns tonight on Fox. See you tomorrow with those reviews...

4/12/10

Well, folks... the 3D revolution has officially arrived. I was surfing through the guide on our Cox HD cable box this weekend here in Orange County, and came across a brand new channel: Masters3D. Now, I don't have a 3D-ready HDTV yet and I don't know when I'm going to make that upgrade (probably sooner rather than later, but not for at least a few months). But there it was regardless. If I'd had one, I'd have been watching The Masters in 3D. Admittedly for probably less than 10 or 20 minutes, because I'm not a golfer and have almost zero interest in the sport, even in 3D. But again, there it was. And to its credit, our cable company was among the first to offer 3D content. There are strange and wondrous times we live in folks.

All right... let's get caught up on all the latest release news, shall we?

The big news from Friday was that MGM is releasing a Showgirls: 15th Anniversary Sinsational Edition Blu-ray Disc on 6/15 (SRP $29.99). So Showgirls on BD... check. Escape from New York? Not so much. MGM is so frustrating with their BD catalog releases these days. Anyway, the release will be a 2-disc set, with the movie only on Blu-ray and the previous DVD version too, so you'll retain the extras on that edition, including Pole Dancing: Finding Your Inner Stripper, Lap Dance Tutorial Featuring the World-Famous Girls of Scores, The Greatest Movie Ever Made (a commentary by David Schmader), Showgirls Fact-Up Trivia and A Showgirls Diary.

Meanwhile, Sony has set Youth in Revolt for release on DVD and Blu-ray on 6/15 (SRP $28.95 and $34.95). Extras will include director and Michael Cera commentary, deleted scenes, deleted and extended animated sequences, and audition footage. The Blu-ray will also add movieIQ+sync.

Universal has added Assault on Precinct 13, Alpha Dog and In Bruges to its catalog Blu-ray slate for 7/13.

Lionsgate has set Mystery Team and Rain Fall for DVD release on 5/25. The studio will also release Jimmy Hollywood and Ladybugs on Blu-ray Disc on 7/6, along with Six Gun on DVD.

Acorn Media will release Six Centuries of Verse, A Voyage Round My Father and Murphy's Law: Series 2 on DVD on 4/27, followed by On the Road with Charles Kuralt: Set 2 and Murdoch Mysteries: Season Two on 5/4, George Gently: Series 2, Testament and A Cold War Spy Collection: The Glory Boys & The Contract on 5/25, and Foyle's War: Set 6, Hope Springs, Midsomer Murders: Set 15 and We'll Meet Again on 6/1.

Warner has set TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: War (Battle of the Bulge, The Dawn Patrol, Gunga Din and Operation Pacific) and TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: Westerns (Chisum, Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid, The Stalking Moon and Ride the High Country) for DVD release on 5/4 (SRP $27.92 each). Warner has also set the animated Titan Maximum: Season One for release on DVD on 8/10.

Magnolia Home Entertainment has DVD box sets of their own coming on 5/11, including Thriller Triple Feature (Outlaw, Dead Man's Shoes and Red), a second Thriller Triple Feature (Flawless, Quid Pro Quo and Boarding Gate), Action Double Feature (Dynamite Warrior and Exiled) and Horror Double Feature (Pulse and Sick Nurses).

Image Entertainment has set Crimes of Fashion for DVD release on 4/20, followed by Disgrace for release on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 4/27.

And IFC Films and MPI Media Group are releasing Mary and Max on DVD and Blu-ray on 6/15.

Stay tuned...

4/9/10

Okay... it's another slow news day, and what little news there is we'll catch you all up with on Monday. In the meantime, I've got a couple more disc reviews for you...

In particular, I wanted to spotlight 3 titles on disc today, specifically representing a pair of great TV shows that every geek among you ought to be watching (if you're not already). First up is my take on NBC's Chuck - both Season One and Season Two are now available on Blu-ray Disc (and DVD) from Warner Home Video, and Season Three is currently winding down nicely each Monday night on NBC (check your local listings). Also today, I'm reviewing a title that might come as a surprise to some of you: Fox's Glee: Season 1, Volume 1 - Road to Sectionals. Yeah, I know - just trust me on this one. The show's first 13 episodes are now available on DVD, and the next batch of episodes is about to start airing on Fox this coming Tuesday night (again, check your local listings). We suspect a Blu-ray will follow once the entire first season has aired, though one hasn't yet been announced. So that's a great show for all you movie/computer/comic-book geeks... and one for you band/music/theatre geeks too - a little "geek" something for everyone. Enjoy!

That's it. Have a great weekend, folks... ;)

4/8/10

We're working on more new reviews, so today's update is going to be a quickie...

...BUT, we do have a couple of those reviews for you to check out this afternoon. First, Jahnke and I have tag-teamed a look at Universal's forthcoming Dune Blu-ray (due on 4/27). We've also got Tim's take on Sony's recent District 9 Blu-ray (now available). Enjoy!

And stay tuned...

4/7/10

Well... judging by the reader reaction e-mailed to me overnight, it seems to be much as we predicted: A lot of people out there today are wondering what all the fuss was about with regard to early reviewer complaints about The Lord of the Rings Blu-rays. To the extent that a few people are still disappointed over the discs, it's that they don't also include the Extended Editions of the films. But even those folks seem to be pleased with the video and audio quality, which is seen as a significant improvement over the previous DVDs regardless of display size. Readers are noting, as I did, that Fellowship looks a little softer than the other two, but that all three are as good or better than they expected. I've since learned that Fellowship was about 70% Digital Intermediate (D.I.) in its post-production, while Two Towers and Return of the King were 100% D.I. in post. That means that in preparing the Blu-ray masters, while Warner could go to the original D.I. for Towers and King, they had to run a new print for Fellowship, and that alone could account for the discrepancy in image detail and crispness. In any case, most of you seem quite happy with these Blu-rays, and that's what counts. As I've said before, I'm certainly happy to have them available - something to tide me over until the Extended Editions are released in HD in a couple years. Theatrical Rings on Blu-ray is certainly better than NO Rings on Blu-ray.

Here's something interesting: Universal Studios Home Entertainment is currently running a Facebook poll asking fans to choose which of several catalog titles they want to see the studio release on Blu-ray. When you vote, you get a $5 coupon off Universal BD titles. Among the titles listed: Back to the Future, Backdraft, The Big Lebowski, The Blues Brothers, The Breakfast Club, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Lost in Translation, Meet the Parents, National Lampoon's Animal House and Psycho. See... we TOLD you Back to the Future was in the future for Blu-ray! Man, lotta great titles in that list. Blues Brothers? Big Lebowski? Bring 'em! I just wish Steven Spielberg's 1941 was in there too. Get on over there and make your choice known. Our bet is that they'll all be released on Blu-ray sooner rather than later.

In release news today, Warner has set Cartoon Network Hall of Fame: Courage the Cowardly Dog - Season One for DVD release on 7/20 (SRP $24.98).

And Paramount has set The Cry of the Owl for DVD release on 6/8, followed by Pretty Bird on 6/29.

In other news, Dr. Jahnke has begun posting a photo poll down memory lane over on his Electric Theatre Facebook page. Be sure to check out his Electric Gallery, where you can view Jahnke and myself on the set of Troma's Citizen Toxie with Lemmy from Motorhead and Eli Roth. It boggles the mind.

And while we're mentioning all these Facebook pages, we'd like to invite you all to join us over on The Digital Bits' Facebook page! We're answering questions over there, discussing titles and upcoming releases and more. It's a lot of fun, so do check it out.

Finally, here's a little something for you geeks to smile about from fellow Bits reader "Eggman": Some guy in New York state went and made himself a street legal Viper. No... not a Dodge Viper - a Viper from Battlestar Galactica! I'd love to see the heads turn when this guy cruises down the street. Thanks Eggman!

All right... I'm off to work on new Blu-ray reviews. Stay tuned!

4/6/10

Well... today's the day you all get to finally see The Lord of the Rings on Blu-ray for yourselves. Check out my review again and send over your thoughts when you've had a chance to see the discs. I'm curious to see what you all think.

Today's also baseball opening day. I love the start of a season in one of my favorite sports. The Twins finally have a new ballpark. And maybe you've heard of this this morning? Some young rookie for the Atlanta Braves hit a 3-run homer on opening day... in his first major league at bat... on his first swing! Now there's a cool moment.

Here at The Bits today, 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 portion of anything you order from Amazon after clicking through to them through our links goes to help support our work here at The Bits. We appreciate it!

Also, Dr. Jahnke has posted a new Electric Theatre update this afternoon, featuring his thoughts on the remake of Clash of the Titans now playing at your local google-plex in faux 3D, along with The Silent Partner on disc in his Tales from the Queue. Enjoy!

In other news, those of you who can't wait for more information on the theatrical and home video release of the new restoration of Fritz Lang's Metropolis will be pleased to know that Kino's new website for the release will go live on 4/15. The film makes its U.S. theatrical debut at the TCM Festival in Hollywood on 4/25. The DVD and Blu-ray release is currently planned for November. Check this story at AICN for a little more today, and be sure to check out the official website on 4/15 for LOTS more.

Meanwhile, Warner Home Video has set New Line's Undisputed III: Redemption for DVD and Blu-ray Combo Pack release on 6/1 (SRP $27.95 and $35.99).

Here's something I meant to post on Friday: U2.com has announced that the band's Rose Bowl concert from last year will arrive on DVD and Blu-ray Disc from Mercury Records on 6/3 (as U2360° at the Rose Bowl). There will be a single-disc DVD (SRP $14.95), a 2-disc DVD Deluxe Edition (SRP $21.95) and a single-disc Blu-ray (SRP also $21.95). The single-disc DVD will include the full 23-track concert. The 2-disc DVD Deluxe Edition will add the Squaring the Circle: Creating U2360 documentary, U2360° Tour Clips, a bonus concert track (Breathe) and a Berlin Timelapse Video, along with 6 music/behind-the-scenes videos (Get on Your Boots, Magnificent, I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight: Animated, I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight: Live at Barcelona, The Making of Get on Your Boots and The Making of Magnificent). The Blu-ray includes all of that, plus video footage from the forthcoming 2010 US and European Tour will be continually added and viewable via BD-Live. There will apparently also be a 2-disc DVD Super Deluxe Box Set with additional swag items (TBA). This is the second time a U2 live show has appeared on Blu-ray (the first is Paramount's currently available Rattle and Hum BD).

And the Home Theatre Forum has posted the transcript of their chat with Warner on TV and animated titles. Sadly, the official studio answer to member questions about when this or that TV or cartoon series were coming to DVD or Blu-ray seemed to be "No plans at this time." about 98% of the time. But check it out - I suppose there might be something in there of interest to you. There's apparently some consideration being given to releasing select DC animated titles on Blu-ray - think Batman: The Animated Series, etc. The studio also indicated that Friends is a possibility for Blu-ray. And, reportedly, there's talk of "more TV shows on Blu-ray this Fall." But that's about all the news that came of it, which isn't much sadly.

Stay tuned...

4/5/10

Hope you all had a great holiday weekend! Things were a little crazy here in So-Cal yesterday, as you might have heard. The ground did a little bit of rocking and rolling. Actually, more than a little! A 7.2 magnitude quake is nothing to sneeze at, but most of the worst effects were centered south of the border. Hope everybody's okay down there. More proof that it's always something...

In announcement news today, CBS and Paramount have set Have Gun - Will Travel: Season Four, Volume Two and The Game: The Final Season for DVD release on 7/6.

Fox has set Flicka 2 for DVD release on 5/4. And don't forget, Fox has High Anxiety, History of the World, Part I and Robin Hood: Men in Tights set for Blu-ray release on 5/11 - these three films were previously only available on Blu-ray in The Mel Brooks Collection set.

Meanwhile, Warner Home Video has set Garry Marshall's Valentine's Day for DVD and Blu-ray Combo Pack release on 5/18 (SRP $28.98 and $35.99). Warner has also announced the DVD release of The Film Noir Classic Collection: Volume 5 on 7/13 (SRP $49.92). The set will include 4 double-feature discs, including 8 films all: Cornered/Desperate, The Phenix City Story/Dial 1119, Armored Car Robbery/Crime in the Streets and Deadline at Dawn/Backfire.

And Disney has set Cougar Town: the Complete First Season and Ugly Betty: The Complete Fourth Season for DVD only release on 8/17, followed by Brothers and Sisters: The Complete Fourth Season on DVD on 8/31.

In other news today, the BDA has approved two new BD disc configurations for specific commercial and consumer uses. The first, BDXL, is meant for industrial/commercial data storage uses, with disc capacities of 100GB and 128GB on write-once media, and 100GB on re-writable media. The other, IH-BD, allows consumers to record select personal information on a writable portion of a disc that already has pre-recorded read-only content. This could be used for gaming or archiving purposes, select interactive features and also for copy-protection. You can read more here at PC Mag. From a general consumer standpoint, neither of these formats is compatible with existing Blu-ray players - they're intended more for BD-R drives, industrial data storage systems, future gaming hardware and for regions like Japan where consumer Blu-ray recorders have already taken off. We suspect the greatest impact in the near-term will be the use of BDXL for commercial video, archiving medical records and the like.

Also this afternoon, Apple is reporting that some 300,000 iPads were sold over the weekend, which would put the launch in the neighborhood of the first days of the iPhone. I have a sneaking suspicion that iPad - and in fact the whole media tablet category - is going to be huge, and that most every major computer manufacturer is going to have their own touch-screen tablet device within the next year or two.

Finally today, our friends over at The Home Theatre Forum are hosting a chat tonight with Warner Home Video reps on the subject of television and animation. The chat will take place between 5-8 PM PST this evening. Click here to participate. Note that we will NOT be posting a transcript of this event.

And one more completely unrelated thing today: Space Shuttle Discovery blasted off early this morning on a mission to continue construction of the near-complete International Space Station. After this flight, there are just three shuttle missions left. It was a gorgeous pre-dawn launch. I saw it this morning on HDNet and wish I'd been there. Hats off to the folks at NASA for the successful start of another flight! I'll tell you, having seen a shuttle launch up close and personal, it's something I absolutely recommend everyone take the opportunity to do before they're done. There are just three launches left before the shuttle program is finished, so don't wait. Take the kids and make a fun trip of it. There's lots of cool stuff to see at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

Stay tuned!

4/2/10

Afternoon, folks! Well, another week is almost in the can. We do have a couple of interesting things for you today though...

First, here at The Bits today, we have a pair of new Giveaways running, offering each of you a chance to take home a copy of Comedy Central and Paramount's South Park: The Complete Thirteenth Season on Blu-ray as well as Discovery's Man vs. Wild: Season Four on DVD. Click here to get started.

Some cool info broke on the Net today, thanks to our friends over at TVShowsonDVD.com: Universal has finally cleared the U.S. home video release rights to The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman (they've resolved the legal dispute with the author of the original Cyborg novel upon which the shows were based), and is currently working to bring them to DVD. Rumor is, at least one third-party distributor will involved, possibly Time Life. What's more, Kenneth Johnson (a producer and writer on both shows) has just confirmed on his website that he's participating in new on-camera interviews and commentaries for the sets. Now obviously, all this should be considered a Rumor Mill-worthy until official announcements are made. But I will say that TVShowsonDVD is very reliable on this kind of thing. What's more, consider this Rumor Mill-worthy as well, but I CAN confirm that Universal has cleared the rights to both shows. Over the past several months, we've had multiple industry sources tell us that Universal was accepting and considering bid proposals from third-party production companies and distributors to work on both titles. We didn't post the information at that time, because we didn't want the news going public to get in the way of these sensitive deals being made. Obviously, the process is now farther along, and since the information is getting out elsewhere anyway, we're happy to confirm it. Hats off to Dave Lambert for a bit of good detective work!

In announcement news today, Infinity Entertainment Group has set Bing Crosby: The Television Specials, Volume One for release on DVD on 5/25. Included will be specials from 1954, 1959, 1962 and 1970.

Any fans of the animated Drawn Together out there? The Drawn Together Movie: The Movie! will street on DVD and Blu-ray from Comedy Central and Paramount on 4/20, as a Best Buy-exclusive title.

Meanwhile, Magnolia has set District 13: Ultimatum for DVD and Blu-ray release on 4/27.

And MDV Visual has set John Lennon: Rare and Unseen for DVD only release on 5/18. It will feature "a collection of rare footage, original rare film and videos of the band, newsreels and photographs from private collections," including Man of the Decade (aired once in 1969 and unseen since), Aquarius (unseen since the 70s), Weekend World (thought wiped and unseen outside of the U.K.), Frost (never released on DVD) and opinions from Phil Collins, Len Goodman and Tony Barrow.

Also today, I don't know if you saw this, but there was a pretty amusing April Fool's gag over at Shout! Factory: A listing for The Hurt Locker: The Animated Series. Check it out, it's pretty funny. Don't go giving people ideas like that guys!

And here's something interesting... those of you picking up Apple's first models of iPad this weekend will be pleased to learn that they come shipped with a Netflix app that lets you rent and view movie content. Pretty interesting. I have to say, I'm intrigued by the iPad. I've actually really been waiting for a device that bridges the technology sweet spot between a smart phone and a Netbook. I've been looking at the Kindle for a while, but I have a hard time justifying the cost for a device that essentially just reads books. But if I could read books, plus write content, use apps, watch media content on a better screen, browse the Net, etc, etc... now that would be useful.

Finally today, another sad note: We must acknowledge the passing yesterday of actor John Forsythe. Fans will remember him for his role on TV's Dynasty and as the voice of Charlie on Charlie's Angels, as well as MANY other film and TV appearances. He was 92.

And that's all for this week. We want to wish a Happy Easter to all those of you who celebrate, and a wonderful weekend to all of you!

4/1/10

Afternoon, disc fans! We've got some announcement news for you today...

And I've decided to save the best for first. No, this isn't an April Fool's thing... Fox and MGM are officially releasing The Man with No Name Trilogy on Blu-ray Disc here in the States on 6/1 (SRP $69.99). The 3-disc set will include A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More and the previously released The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Most (if not all) the extras from the previous DVD editions will likely be included. Scroll down for a look at the cover art.

Fox has also set Tooth Fairy for release on DVD and Blu-ray on 5/4 (SRP $29.98 and $39.99).

Meanwhile, Lionsgate has released their June release slate, including Small Town Saturday Night, The Three Musketeers/The Four Musketeers 2-Movie Collection and Thomas & Friends: The Greatest Stories on 6/1, From Paris With Love (DVD and Blu-ray), Coach, Jim Henson's Dog City: The Movie and Shaun the Sheep: One Giant Leap for Lambkind on 6/8, Happy Tears and Circle of Pain (DVD and Blu-ray) on 6/15, and The Good Guy and Wolf Moon on 6/22.

Warner and HBO have set Temple Grandin for DVD release on 8/17.

Warner has also announced another series of double feature catalog Blu-rays are release on 7/6, including Dr. Giggles/Otis, Funny Farm/Spies Like Us, The Getaway (1972)/The Getaway (1994), The Last Boy Scout/Last Man Standing and Practical Magic/Witches of Eastwick. The studio has also set The Superfriends (1973-74): Season One, Volume Two for DVD only release on 7/20.

Finally, we wanted to acknowledge the passing of writer/producer David Mills, whose work included Homicide, The Wire, E.R. and Picket Fences. Mills passed away of a brain aneurysm on Tuesday. He was just 48. Mills was also the co-producer of HBO's new series Treme, which debuts on 4/11.

Here's a look at the cover art for MGM's The Man with No Name Trilogy, as well as Fox's Tooth Fairy (5/4) and Criterion's Red Desert (6/22)...

The Man with No Name Trilogy (Blu-ray Disc)Dear John (Blu-ray Disc)The Karate Kid II (Blu-ray Disc)

Don't forget Warner's Sherlock Holmes BD-Live event tonight. Stay tuned...

3/31/10

Afternoon, folks! Today's post is a quickie, but we've got something good for you...

Our very own Barrie Maxwell has a new Classic Coming Attractions column for you, featuring 25 new DVD, Blu-ray reviews! He looks at the Universal Vault/Create Space titles Ruggles of Red Gap, The House of Seven Gables and Dragnet, Warner Archive's Confessions of a Nazi Spy, Mission to Moscow, They Won't Forget, The Iron Mistress, The Badlanders, and The Fastest Gun Alive, Sony's Bad Girls of Film Noir: Volume 1 and Volume 2, MGM/Create Space's The Group and Trapeze, Infinity Entertainment Group's America's Sweetheart: Gale Storm and A Gospel Calling: Mahalia Jackson Sings, Restored Serials Super Restoration's The Green Hornet Strikes Again (on DVD-R and BD-R) and The Green Archer (on BD-R), VCI's A Walk in the Sun and Island of Desire, Paramount's The African Queen (on Blu-ray) and Have Gun - Will Travel: Season Four, Volume 1, The Ladykillers (on Blu-ray) from Lionsgate, and Alliance Canada's All Hell Broke Loose and Come Hell or High Water. Whew - enjoy!

We'll be back tomorrow with our usual news update. See you then!

3/30/10

Afternoon, folks! We've got a couple things for you today...

First of all, our own Russell Hammond has once again 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 after clicking to them through our links goes to help support our work here at The Bits and we really appreciate it!

Also today, we've launched a new Digital Bits Fan Page over on Facebook. We started as a group page over there, but we've learned that the fan page is really the way to go. Who knew? Anyway, you'll be able to get updates when we post news and reviews, you can participate in discussions and ask questions, and we'll have all kinds of interactive DVD, Blu-ray and movie fun. The whole Bits team will be on-hand on a regular basis to chime in and chat. So we hope you'll join us!

In announcement news today, Universal has set The Wolfman for release on DVD and Blu-ray on 6/1. You'll be able to watch both the theatrical cut and a new director's cut by Joe Johnston. Now... you'd THINK this would be a great time to also include the original classic Wolfman on Blu-ray. Sadly no, but Universal is letting fans "stream" the original film via BD-Live from the Blu-ray. Ugh. Other extras on both versions will include extended and deleted scenes. Exclusive to the Blu-ray will be two alternate endings, 4 featurettes (Return of The Wolfman, The Beast Maker, Transformation Secrets and The Wolfman Unleashed), socialBlu, pocketBlu apps for your "iPhone, iPod touch, Blackberry, Android, PC and Macintosh" (including advanced remote control, a video timeline and mobile-to-go, browse titles, keyboard chat). There are also two U-Control features - a Werewolf Legacy, Lore and Legendinteractive viewing mode on "wolfman" mythology and film history, and a Take Control PiP "visual commentary" viewing mode where the director and filmmakers will actually take control of your player and guide you through the film. Yeah, that's interesting and all, but we really wish Universal would focus a little less on all the geekBlu interactive stuff and more on just releasing a LOT MORE GREAT CATALOG TITLES ON BLU-RAY. You know, like all the classic Universal Monsters titles. We're just saying.

Speaking of that, consider this Rumor Mill worthy, but industry sources are telling us that Universal's major catalog titles planned for release on Blu-ray later this year include Psycho and Back to the Future.

In other news, Warner has set Preacher's Kid for release on DVD and Blu-ray (plus DVD plus Digital Copy Combo Mega Bundle) on 5/4, followed by Valentine's Day on 5/18.

Don't forget that Warner is holding their Sherlock Holmes BD-Live community screening and live chat with actor Robert Downey, Jr on Thursday night (9PM EST/6PM PST). You can register here.

Finally, in completely unrelated yet geekish-cool matters, the physicists at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland last night ramped up their atom smasher and blasted particles apart at the highest energies ever - 7TeV (teraelectron volts). That's a big bang. You can see the results here. Pretty freakin' cool. And the world is just fine. I still strongly suspect the Higgs boson. We'll see...

Here's a look at the DVD and Blu-ray versions of The Wolfman, along with Universal's Warehouse 13: Season One DVD (due 6/29)...

The Wolfman (Blu-ray Disc)The Wolfman (DVD)Warehouse 13: Season One (DVD)

Stay tuned!

3/29/10

Afternoon, folks! We've got some new announcements to start the week with, so let's get to it...

First, Warner Home Video has set Christopher Nolan's Insomnia for release on Blu-ray Disc on 7/13 (SRP $24.98). all the extras from the DVD will carry over, including the deleted scene, the two commentary tracks, 4 featurettes and the theatrical trailer.

Meanwhile, Sony has set Dear John for DVD and Blu-ray release on 5/25 (SRP $28.95 and $34.95). Blu-ray extras include deleted and alternate scenes, an alternate ending, outtakes, 5 featurettes (A Conversation with Channing Tatum, Amanda Seyfried and Lasse Hallstrom, Transforming Charleston, Military in Movies: Dear John's Military Advisors, Mr. Tyree, The Mule, and Benny Dietz and The Story of Braeden Reed), along with movieIQ+sync and BD-Live.

Not the Messiah follows on both formats from Sony on 6/8, along with Shinjuku Incident on DVD.

Paramount has set Lewis Black: Stark Raving for DVD release on 6/15, along with My Three Sons: Season Two, Volume Two. Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Complete Book I: Collector's Edition follows on DVD on 6/22.

Disney has just officially announced their Beauty and the Beast: Diamond Edition for release on Blu-ray Disc on 10/5. The Blu-ray will be a Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack (SRP $39.99 - 2 BDs and 1 DVD). The 2-disc DVD only version will follow on 11/23 (SRP $29.99). Specific extras have yet to be revealed, but according to Disney's press release: "The Blu-ray transformation reveals the magic, music and majesty of the film as never before experienced with state-of-the-art picture restoration, pristine 7.1 Digital Surround Sound and hours of additional viewing experiences that include behind the scenes features, deleted scenes, enhanced music tracks, immersive games and more."

And here's something interesting: Fox and MGM have officially announced a Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western Trilogy for Blu-ray release in the U.K. on 6/7, including A Fistful of Dollars, the previously released The Good, The Bad and the Ugly and For a Few Dollars More. In fact, it's available for pre-order now on Amazon.co.uk. I've contacted Fox here in the States for word about a U.S. release and they haven't responded yet, but we'll keep on them to find out. This title ABSOLUTELY NEEDS TO BE RELEASED IN THE U.S. TOO! We'll post an update as soon as we have anything new.

In other news, there's been some controversy in the various online forums about Warner's forthcoming The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy Blu-ray box set, which hits stores on 4/6, so I've updated my in-depth review to address the issues with a little badly-needed perspective. 'Nuff said.

Finally, here's something we've been meaning to mention for a while: Our old friend Guido Henkel has released the third and fourth installments of his Jason Dark: Ghost Hunter pulp/e-book series! Volume 3: Ghosts Templar and Volume 4: Heavens on Fire are now available for the Kindle for just $2.99 on Amazon.com. Be sure to visit his website here.

We'll leave you with a little new Blu-ray cover art: Disney's Beauty and the Beast, and Sony's Dear John and The Karate Kid II (due 5/11)...

Beauty and the Beast: Diamond Edition (Blu-ray Disc)Dear John (Blu-ray Disc)The Karate Kid II (Blu-ray Disc)

Stay tuned...!

3/26/10

Afternoon, folks!

We're closing out the week with a pair of additional Blu-ray Disc reviews for you. I've given Disney's The Princess and the Frog: 3-Disc Combo Pack a look (now available), as well as Universal's forthcoming Apollo 13: 15th Anniversary Edition (due 4/13). Enjoy!

In announcement news today, Universal has announced a Bob Hope: Thanks for the Memories Collection DVD box set for release on 6/8 (includes Thanks for the Memory, The Cat and the Canary, The Ghost Breakers, Nothing But the Truth, The Road to Morocco and The Paleface).

Sony has set Bad Boys for Blu-ray release on 6/1, along with Wild Things: Foursome (DVD and Blu-ray) and Drop Dead Diva: Season One (DVD only) the same day.

Warner Home Video has set Cartoon Network Hall of Fame: Johnny Bravo - Season One for DVD release on 6/15 (SRP $24.98).

And Fox and MGM have set Hang 'Em High for Blu-ray + DVD Combo release on 5/11 (SRP $24.99), along with The Magnificent Seven Collection (SRP $69.99) and The Man in the Iron Mask Blu-ray + DVD Combo (SRP $24.99). I wish they'd get around to the rest of the Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns. Here's a look at the cover art for all three...

Hang 'em High (Blu-ray Disc)The Magnificent Seven Collection (Blu-ray Disc)The Man in the Iron Mask (Blu-ray Disc)

Have a great weekend, everyone!

3/25/10

Okay, we've got more release news for you today...

First of all, we have word on the extras you'll get on Fox's Crazy Heart DVD and Blu-ray. The DVD will include 6 deleted scenes and alternate music cuts (Bad Plays "Somebody Else" in Santa Fe, Jean Helps Bad Pack Up, Bad Visits Tommy Backstage, Bad and Jean in Taos, Encouragement from Wayne and Bad Relapses). The Blu-ray will include that, along with 4 more deleted scenes and alternate music cuts (Bad Visits His Son, Bad and Jean Talk About Her Career, "I Don't Know" Alternate Cut and "Brand New Angel" Alternate Cut) along with a featurette with actors Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Robert Duvall talking about What Brought Them to Crazy Heart. The Blu-ray will also include a Digital Copy version of the film.

Also today, Sony has announced the DVD and Blu-ray release of Michael Haneke's The White Ribbon on 6/29 (SRP $28.95 and $38.96). They also have Mr. Bump Presents: Planes, Trains and Dillymobiles due on DVD on 5/18.

There's word today as well that Disney will be releasing an all-new CG-animated film on DVD and Blu-ray on 9/21 - Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue. More details will follow soon.

Meanwhile, Evil Toons: 20th Anniversary Edition will street on DVD on 5/4 from Infinity.

Vivendi and the Weinstein Company will release Cheech & Chong's Hey Watch This on DVD and Blu-ray 4/20 (SRP $19.93 and $24.99).

Severin Films will release Patrice Leconte's acclaimed documentary Dogora on DVD on 4/27.

20th Century Fox and MGM will release "the first gay-themed film DVD collection from a major motion picture studio" on 6/8 - The Cinema Pride Collection. The box will include 10 films (The Children's Hour, La Cage Aux Folles, My Beautiful Laundrette, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert: The Extra Frills Edition, The Birdcage, Bent, The Object of My Affection, Boys Don’t Cry, Kissing Jessica Stein and Imagine Me & You) and carry an SRP of $49.98.

This is also kind of cool: It looks like a group of filmmakers are self-distributing their own horror movie on Amazon.com - Infection: The Invasion Begins. It's been touring the film festival circuit and word is it's pretty good. It'll be available on DVD on Amazon starting on 4/13.

And in hardware news, Pioneer Electronics has followed up the announcement of new 3D-ready 5.1 receivers with word of new 3D-ready 7.1 receivers as well. The VSX-920-K (SRP $399) and VSX-1020-K (SRP $549) will be due in April or May, while the new flagship unit, the VSX-1120-K (SRP $749), will arrive in June. All will feature full compatibility with the iPhone, allowing you to control the receiver from the iPhone, Bluetooth audio streaming, HDMI 1.4a (for full Blu-ray 3D compatibility) and more. The VSX-920 and VSX-1020 each feature 110 watts per channel, while the VSX-1120 will offer 120 watts per channel. You can view the full press release here, and watch a preview video from Pioneer on these new units here. Meanwhile, here's a look at the VSX-1120-K and the new iPhone iControl app...

Pioneer's VSX-1120-KiControl app

Back later with some reviews. Stay tuned...

3/24/10

Well... today's a bit of a day off around here, what with out having just completed reviews of 30 Kurosawa films and also the Lord of the Rings Blu-rays. I've been burning the candle at both ends for a few weeks too long. Time for a nap! ;)

In the meantime, Dr. Jahnke has just completed a new Electric Theatre column, featuring reviews of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (now in theatres) and a Tales from the Queue look at The House of the Devil on VHS. Yes, that's right... VHS. Enjoy!

We also have a little bit of release news for you today, as follows...

Warner Home Video has set Nip/Tuck: The Sixth and Final Season for DVD release on 6/8 (SRP $59.98), followed by NHL Stanley Cup Champions 2009-2010 on 7/20 (SRP $24.98). Warner has also announced Cats & Dogs for Blu-ray release on 7/20 (SRP $24.98).

Meanwhile, Universal has set The Ultimate Sci-Fi Movie Marathon for DVD release on 6/1 (including The Android Affair, It Came from Outer Space II, Deep Red, Evolution's Child, Night Visitors and Control Factor), followed by Eureka: Season 3.5 and Warehouse 13: Season One on 6/29.

20th Century Fox has finally set Crazy Heart for release on DVD and Blu-ray on 4/20.

And in case we haven't mentioned this before, Fox has set Ally McBeal: Season Two for DVD release on 4/6.

In other news today, Home Media has a report up on an L.A.-area Avatar press event from yesterday, with a little bit of new information about the forthcoming DVD and Blu-ray releases.

Anyone interested in a $60 Blu-ray player? Amazon.com has one available right now: Sylvania's NB530SLX. It's only profile 1.1 (Bonus View, but not BD-Live), but that's still about as cheap as they come - more than $140 off the original SRP.

And finally this afternoon, some sad breaking news: It seems that actor Robert Culp has died after a fall in L.A. today. Fans will no doubt remember his work in TV's I Spy, The Greatest American Hero and (more recently) Everybody Loves Raymond. He was 79.

We'll be back tomorrow some more Blu-ray reviews, including both Toy Story films. Stay tuned...

3/23/10

We come to it at last!

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of the legendary Japanese filmmaker, Akira Kurosawa. As expected, it's also the day we've chosen to honor him by wrapping up our look at his body of work on DVD and Blu-ray. Reviewing The Films of Akira Kurosawa in total, from his debut with 1943's Sanshiro Sugata to his final turn behind the camera in 1993's Madadayo, has been a dream of ours since we first started The Bits back in 1997. But it wasn't until Criterion's December release of the excellent AK100 box set that we finally had a collection of most of Kurosawa's films on DVD in once place, including the last few titles that hadn't been available in the U.S. previously.

For this special occasion, we've saved for last a pair of films that bookend Kurosawa in a unique way - not so much in time, but creatively. Seven Samurai is Kurosawa at his finest, in his highest creative moment. This 1954, B&W classic is not only one of his best films, we'd argue that it's one of the best films in the history of the cinema. Our review today includes both the original Criterion DVD release, the more recent - and exceptional - 3-disc Criterion special edition, and the new AK100 disc. As you'll see, the other of his films that we've chosen to review today represents Kurosawa at his most raw, in arguably his darkest hour - Dodes'ka-den. Made in color in 1970, it's one of his least successful films commercially, but is also among his most personally revealing. We look at both the stand-alone Criterion DVD and the AK100 disc.

We hope you've enjoyed our look at The Films of Akira Kurosawa on disc. For us, this journey through his work and his art has been challenging at times, but also immensely rewarding. We've come to appreciate Kurosawa now more than ever, and we hope some of you have too. It's been our privilege.

Happy Birthday, Senai!

By the way, for those of you who aren't Kurosawa fans (Shocking, but we know there's probably a few of you!)... we've got something for you guys today as well: A review of a little something called The Lord of the Rings Trilogy on Blu-ray Disc. coming on 4/6 from Warner Home Video. We've tacked on a review of Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox on Blu-ray as well, from... er, Fox. Anyone interested in either of those titles? We thought so. Enjoy!

And as always, our own Russell Hammond has once again updated the Release Dates & Artwork section with all the latest DVD and Blu-ray cover scans and Amazon.com pre-order links. Per usual, a small portion of any purchase you make from Amazon after clicking to them through our links goes to help support our work here at The Bits and we do appreciate it.

Stay tuned...

3/22/10

Morning, folks! Couple more new announcements today...

Sony has officially set The Road for DVD and Blu-ray release on 5/25 (as we've been saying - SRP $27.96 and $34.95). Extras will include audio commentary by director John Hillcoat, The Making of the Road documentary, deleted and extended scenes, and a pair of theatrical trailers. The Blu-ray will add movieIQ+sync and BD-Live.

Also coming from Sony on 6/1 is the DVD release of The Three Stooges Collection: 1955-1959 (3-disc set). It will include the shorts Bedlam in Paradise, Blunder Boys, Creeps, Fling in the Ring, Husbands Beware, Flagpole Jitters, Gypped in the Penthouse, Hot Ice, Of Cash and Hash, Stone Age Romeos and Wham Bam Slam. Rescue Me: The Complete Fifth Season is coming to DVD on 6/1 from Sony as well.

Meanwhile, Lionsgate's May release slate will include Francis Ford Coppola's Tetro (DVD and Blu-ray), a Dirty Dancing: Limited Keepsake Edition (DVD and Blu-ray), Cold Storage, Wolverine and the X-Men: Revelation, Care Bears: Share-a-Lot in Care-a-Lot, According to Jim: The Complete Second Season and Dirt: Season Two on 5/4, Daybreakers (DVD and Blu-ray), My Wife and Kids: Season 2 and Raising the Bar: The Complete Second Season on 5/11, The Spy Next Door (DVD and Blu-ray Combo Pack), Barney: Let's Play Outside, Being a Friend and Gunfight at La Mesa on 5/18, and Mystery Team and Rain Fall on 5/25.

And Warner Bros has set The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo for DVD release on 6/29. And you fans of Mel Gibson will be pleased to learn that his Edge of Darkness will arrive on DVD and Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy Combo Pack on 5/11 (SRP $28.98 and $35.99). Blu-ray extras will include deleted scenes and the Past and Present of Edge of Darkness "Focus Point" viewing option, with 9 video pods (Scoring the Film, Revisiting the Edge of Darkness Mini-series, Edge of Your Seat, Making a Ghost Character Real, Adapting the Edge of Darkness Mini-series, Director Profile Martin Campbell, Boston as a Character, Mel's Back and Craven's War of Attrition).

Also this morning, a number of Bits readers have reported to us overnight that Universal in Canada DOES have the replacement Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series packaging for DVD and Blu-ray. If you're a Canadian fan who purchased the previous box set and want the new packaging, all you have to do is e-mail this address and ask about the program: universalcanadahomevideo@nbcuni.com. They'll get back to you with all the instructions you need to get your new box. Thanks to several readers who sent this in!

We'll leave you this morning with new cover artwork for several of the titles we've mentioned above, along with Sony's The Karate Kid (due 5/11) and more...

Edge of Darkness (Blu-ray Disc)Daybreakers (Blu-ray Disc)Tetro (Blu-ray Disc)

Karate Kid (Blu-ray Disc)Dirty Dancing: Limited Keepsake Edition (Blu-ray Disc)The Spy Next Door (Blu-ray Disc)

We may check back in later today with more, but if not we've got some VERY cool stuff for you tomorrow, including our final tribute to Akira Kurosawa. So stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 3/19/10 - 12:15 PM PDT)

We've got just a couple last things for you this afternoon, and then we're gonna go ahead and call this week a wrap...

First up, Warner Home Video has just announced that they're going to be holding one of their Live Community Screening events for Sherlock Holmes via Blu-ray on 4/1 (9 PM Eastern/6 PM Pacific). The guest of honor is none other star Robert Downey, Jr., who will watch with you and answer some of your questions! All you have to do is register your Blu-ray and sign-up online to participate, and you'll be able to submit questions both before and during the event. As you watch the film during the screening, you'll actually be able to hear Downey answer the questions. On screen text will also be posted. Let me tell you, the new Sherlock Holmes is a pretty darned good little film. I actually enjoyed it a lot more than I expected to. So do check it out!

Speaking of Warner, the studio has also just announced the DVD and Blu-ray+DVD+Digital Copy Combo versions of The Book of Eli, due on 6/15 (SRP $28.98 and $35.99). Extras will include 3 featurettes (The Lost Tales, Starting Over and Eli's Journey), along with a piece on the soundtrack and additional scenes. The BD will add a Maximum Movie Mode and the bonus copies.

Also newly announced by Warner is Supernatural: The Complete First Season on Blu-ray on 6/15, and How the Earth Changed History on DVD and Blu-ray on 6/29 (for the BBC).

In other news, Bits reader Michael W. has learned that Canadian customers who purchased Universal's Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series on DVD and Blu-ray MAY also be able to arrange the new packaging swap by contacting this e-mail address: universalcanadahomevideo@nbcuni.com. Give it a shot. Can't frakkin' hurt to try, right?

Finally, all of us here at The Bits today would like to tip our coon-skin caps in honor of the passing of actor Fess Parker, better known to millions of kids in the 1960s and early 70s as TV's Daniel Boone and Disney's big screen Davey Crockett. Can't get the song out of my head: "Kilt' him a bar when he was only three!" Or how 'bout this one: "Daniel Boone was a Man... he was a BIG Man!" Brings me back.

We'll leave you with a little more cover art: Both versions of Warner's The Book of Eli and the Blu-ray art for Sony's The Young Victoria (due 4/20)...

The Book of Eli (DVD)The Book of Eli (Blu-ray Disc + DVD Combo)The Young Victoria (Blu-ray Disc)

Have a great weekend, everyone!

(EARLY UPDATE - 3/19/10 - 12:01 AM PDT)

Well... we're really getting down to it now, folks. We're very pleased this morning to present our final Friday review wave of The Films of Akira Kurosawa on disc!

Included in today's batch are Doogan's thoughts on Kurosawa's 1957 classic Throne of Blood (both the AK100 and stand-alone Criterion DVDs) and his 1993 final film, Madadayo (the AK100 and Wellspring DVDs). Barrie checks in too this morning with one last Kurosawa review: 1985's Ran (including the original Criterion DVD, the earlier Wellspring DVD and the new Blu-ray Disc from StudioCanal/Lionsgate). And I've got my own contributions again this week, starting with 1960's The Bad Sleep Well (the AK100 and original Criterion DVDs). I've also reviewed Adam Low's 2001 Kurosawa documentary (available on DVD from Wellspring) and the Amazon-exclusive Kurosawa DVD Collection (also produced by Wellspring) from way back in 2002.

Now... you might notice, if you happen to glance at our index of the director's films, that we have two titles left to review... the 1954 bit of cinematic perfection that is Seven Samurai and 1970's Dodes'ka-den. Rest assured, we haven't forgotten about them! We've been saving them for last, as a way to celebrate the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Kurosawa's birth, which occurs this coming Tuesday (3/23). That's a day we think is well worth honoring, so that's when we'll finish our tribute.

In the meanwhile...

Thanks to the crafty "ask"-manship of Bits reader Thomas R., we now know when Disney tentatively plans to release its new Blu-ray edition of the original Tron! Look for it in November (a month before the theatrical debut of the new Tron Legacy sequel), or so says Jeremy Sheer who administers the Disney Movie Rewards program's Facebook site. He also posts word there that Disney currently has The Lion King set for BD release in October of 2011. Bang-up job, Jeremy!

We'll be back later this morning with any late-breaking news for the week. Stay tuned...

3/18/10

Okay.. we're hard at work this afternoon as we get ready to bow our final wave of Kurosawa disc reviews tomorrow. So today's post is going to be another quick one.

The main thing we wanted to offer you this afternoon is a look at Universal's newly-redesigned packaging for Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series on Blu-ray. This is the box that you'll get if you take the mail-in offer to replace the original Blu-ray packaging. It's also the box that the new, reissue Complete Series Blu-rays will be released in starting on 4/6 (at a lower SRP). We expect the DVD box will follow the same basic format.

Basically, you've got a metallic outer slipcase with the cast members on it (the bottom panel lists basic disc specs). This holds four cardboard and plastic Digipack-style cases - one for each season - plus the existing BD case packaging for The Plan (a case for The Plan is actually included in the box when you send away for it, minus the cardboard slipcase - the one pictured here is from my previous copy). As previously reported, there are no booklets for these discs... BUT, it turns out that's not a problem. Universal has cleverly included a disc-by-disc breakdown of the episodes and basic extras on the cases themselves. So no booklet is needed.

Here's a look at the packaging from a few different angles, along with a look at one of the individual season cases (Yes, that's Season Four all in one package)...

New BSG Complete Series packagingNew BSG Complete Series packaging

New BSG Complete Series packaging

New BSG Complete Series packaging ,.

I have to say, I quite like the new box. It's very compact (just 5.25 inches wide for the ENTIRE box), seems to hold the discs securely and it looks terrific on your shelf. It's certainly a vast improvement over the previous box. Thumbs up from this Battlestar fan. And our thanks to Universal for making it available to those who have already purchased the series on Blu-ray or DVD (though we do wish non-U.S. consumers could participate as well). If you did buy the earlier version, I definitely recommend you take advantage of the offer. To get started, just e-mail Universal's customer service department (USHE.ConsumerRelations@bydeluxe.com) and ask about the Battlestar Packaging Replacement Offer. They'll reply with all the details you need to get your own copy of the new packaging.

[Editor's Note: We've learned that Canadian residents MAY be able to take advantage of this offer as well by e-mailing this address: universalcanadahomevideo@nbcuni.com. Thanks to Bits reader Michael W. for the heads-up.]

Back tomorrow. Stay tuned!

3/17/10

Okay, today is going to be just a quick news round-up, while we work on reviews.

First though, we've kicked off a pair of new Giveaways, offering each of you the chance to take home copies of Universal's The Fourth Kind on DVD, as well as cool "Cheshire Cat" baseball caps from New Era. Entries will be accepted until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, 3/21. Click on the links to get started and good luck!

Now then... Bloomberg says Panasonic got off to a strong start with their Blu-ray 3D and 3DTV last week. The manufacturer claims they've sold out of their entire available stock. Not that the stock was likely large, but it would seem to bode well for interest in the category. Word is, Panny hopes to sell 1 million 3DTVs in their first year. The story also includes word that Samsung's first 3DTV is now available as well, and Sony's entry date into 3D remains June (as we learned back at CES).

In title news, Warner Home Video has set Clint Eastwood's Invictus for DVD and Blu-ray (plus DVD & Digital Copy) release on 5/18 (SRP $28.98 and $35.99). Extras will include 4 featurettes (Matt Damon Plays Rugby, Vision, Courage and Honor: Clint Eastwood and the Power of a True Story, Mandela Meets Morgan and The Eastwood Factor) and a "music" trailer.

And this one pains me to mention, but Warner will release NFL Road to Super Bowl XLIV: New Orleans Saints on DVD and Blu-ray on 6/1. Enjoy it, Who Dat Nation! ;)

Also newly announced from Warner is E.R.: The Complete Thirteenth Season for DVD on 7/6 (SRP $49.98).

Meanwhile, CBS and Paramount will deliver I Love Lucy: The Movie on DVD on 4/27 (SRP $19.99). This is a 1953 film edited together from several first season episodes of the series (along with never-before-seen footage), that was shelved at the time. The disc will include vintage featurettes, TV appearances and more.

Also today, we've checked with the studio and have learned that James Cameron's Avatar will be presented on Blu-ray in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio, with DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio. Run time is 162 minutes, which appears to be the theatrical cut. Now, before anyone gets their panties in a bunch that it's 1.78 and not 2.35... our information is that the 1.78 ratio is the preference of Cameron. In his mind, the IMAX presentation is the preferred theatrical ratio - not the 2.35 ratio seen in traditional theatres. By using 1.78, all of that original IMAX presentation image area can be presented. So essentially, you're not losing anything in the image by having it 1.78 vs. 2.35... you're actually gaining more image. So that's the deal. The DVD and Blu-ray are NOW AVAILABLE for pre-order on Amazon.com.

Here's a little something cool: A short, 8-minute featurette on the tremendous restoration effort involved in bringing Paramount's The African Queen to DVD and Blu-ray! The title streets on this coming Tuesday on 3/23. In the meantime, enjoy the vid:



Finally today, here's a little something for you Lord of the Rings fans: Actor Ian McKellen claims (on his blog) that filming on the new Hobbit films begins in June, and will take a full year. VERY exciting.

We'll leave you with some more new BD cover art... here's Universal's Darkman and Flash Gordon (due 6/15), as well as Sony's The Natural (4/6)...

Darkman (Blu-ray Disc)Flash Gordon (Blu-ray Disc)The Natural (Blu-ray Disc)

[Editor's Note: The Natural IS the theatrical cut according to both Sony and the disc's actual back cover art. I know it's confusing because Sony has used the Director's Cut art for the BD release, and Amazon claims it's the Director's Cut in their pre-order listing, but it's not. It's the 138 original theatrical version.]

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 3/16/10 - 1:15 PM PDT)

Boy... my sleeping schedule is all messed up right now. First we had Daylight Savings this weekend. Then I ran four miles last night, which you'd think would exhaust a person... but just as I was falling asleep, we were woken up by an earthquake in the wee early morning hours. Not a big one, but it was definitely enough to leave me tossing and turning the rest of the night. Ugh. Life's little troubles. What are you gonna do? Coffee up - that's what I say! Little steaming Kona blend makes everything seem better.

ANYWAY... as expected, Fox has officially announced the DVD and Blu-ray release of Avatar on 4/22 in the U.S. and Canada. There's no SRP listed on the press release, but as we said last night, the L.A. Times was given $29.98 and $39.99. Again, there are no extras. Fox's international street dates for the title are: France, Belgium, Spain and Netherlands: 4/21, China, Russia, Brazil and North America: 4/22, Germany, Japan, Switzerland and MExico: 4/23, U.K.: 4/26, Denmark: 4/27, Norway, Sweden, New Zealand and Australia: 4/29, Finland: 4/30 and finally Italy: 5/6. Again, here's the final North American cover art for both formats (DVD and Blu-ray + DVD Combo):

Avatar (DVD)Avatar (Blu-ray Disc + DVD Combo)Caddyshack (Blu-ray Disc)

We're also getting reports that select countries and retailers will have special Steelbook packaging. As you may have noticed, we also included cover art there for Warner's new Caddyshack Blu-ray, due on 6/8.

In other news today, Universal has announced a pair of new catalog Blu-ray titles that have us pretty excited: Darkman and Flash Gordon are expected to street on 6/15. Looks like everything from the previous DVDs will be included... which is to say not much. Darkman has nada, while Flash will include a pair of featurettes (Alex Ross, Renowned Comic Artist, On Flash Gordon and Writing a Classic: Screenwriter Lorenzo Semple, Jr.) and the first episode of the classic Flash Gordon 1936 serial. Now, if Universal wanted to do something REALLY cool, they should include the ENTIRE 1936 serial in HD. I'm just saying. I'd LOVE to have that on Blu-ray. Anyway... audio will be DTS-HD MA for both.

Image Entertainment has set Deadliest Catch: Season Five for DVD release on 3/30 (SRP $29.98). The set is dedicated to the memory of Captain Phil Harris of the crab fishing vessel Cornelia Marie (one of the stars of the show), who passed away in February.

Speaking of reality TV shows, Bravo is rolling out The Real Housewives of New Jersey: Season One on DVD on 4/6 (SRP $29.95).

Vivendi and Weinstein have announced the DVD release of the Shaw Brothers' Return of the One-Armed Swordsman on 6/8 (SRP $19.93), as part of their Dragon Dynasty line.

IndiePix has set the quasi-Bollywood comedy Loins of Punjab Presents on DVD on 4/6 as a 2-disc special edition. Extras will include behind-the-scenes featurettes, interviews and more (SRP $24.95).

Also, Criterion has announced one more new Blu-ray for June: Luchino Visconti's The Leopard (Cat #235) due on 6/29. Thanks to Bits reader Lars T. for the catch!

And remember how I told you that there would likely be a lot of third-party companies making 3D glasses once the market really got going? Well the first, XpanD, just announced its new X103 "Universal Active 3D Glasses Revolution" available in 12 different colors. From the press release: "The XpanD X103 glasses are designed to work seamlessly within XpanD cinema and with almost all the new 3D-ready TVs of all brands, allowing XpanD X103 to use their personal glasses with their friends 3DTVs, 3D computer monitors and XpanD cinema." There's no word yet on availability and price. Here's what they look like in orange...

XpanD X103 3D glasses

Speaking of 3D, our old friends over at The Home Theatre Forum were in attendance at Samsung's New York City 3D demo last week, and they've got some interesting photos and observations that I thought were worth sharing with you. Do check it out.

And finally today, our own Russell Hammond has once again updated the Release Dates & Artwork section with lots of new DVD and Blu-ray cover scans, and Amazon.com pre-order links. As always a portion of anything you order from Amazon after clicking through to them from our links goes to help support our work here at The Bits and we really appreciate it.

Here's cover art for Sony's Legion (due 5/11) and Nine (5/4), as well as DreamWorks' War of the Worlds (6/1), all on Blu-ray...

Legion (Blu-ray Disc)Nine (Blu-ray Disc)War of the Worlds (Blu-ray Disc)

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 3/16/10 - 12:01 AM PDT)

Call it the worst kept secret on the planet... but here you go: 20th Century Fox is about to officially announce the DVD and Blu-ray release of James Cameron's Avatar on 4/22. Yes, that's a Thursday, but it's Earth Day, which is the point. Don't expect any extras, however, because you won't get any - just a menu. According to The L.A. Times late yesterday, that's being done to maximize the video and audio quality by devoting all the available disc space to it. Here's the thing though: The studio obviously already knows its going to be double-dipping on the title later this year with a more elaborate multi-disc special edition (due in November according to the Times piece)... which shouldn't come as any surprise to you. But neither this round, nor the November version, will be 3D. That'll likely come in a third dip a year or two from now. You see, in order to sell more than a few dozen copies in 3D, Fox needs the market for 3D on Blu-ray (meaning capable players and displays) to... well, frankly EXIST... first. So for now, it's movie-only versions on Earth Day, more elaborate versions in November and no 3D this year. But don't expect a movie-only price for round one. The SRP for this first version will reportedly be $29.98 for the DVD and $39.99 for Blu-ray + DVD Combo. Of course, there will certainly be TONS of sales and discount pricing, but still... ouch. Anyway, we'll confirm all this when the official press release sizzles off the wire, likely later this morning. In the meantime, check out the Times piece.

Speaking of Fox (and MGM), they're also about to announce the April something-or-other release of Crazy Heart, for which Jeff Bridges just won the Best Actor Oscar, on DVD and Blu-ray Disc (SRP $29.98 and $39.99). We don't have the exact street date yet, but here's the cover art. You can pre-order it now on Amazon...

Crazy Heart (DVD)Crazy Heart (Blu-ray Disc)Avatar (Blu-ray Disc + DVD Combo)

As you can see, we also included the Blu-ray + DVD Combo art for Avatar as posted by the L.A. Times.

Finally this morning, did any of you happen to check out the start of HBO's The Pacific miniseries this past weekend? Well, any doubts as to whether or not it's going to be released on DVD and Blu-ray (if there ever were any) can be laid to rest: The title is already available for pre-order at HBO's online store (SRP $79.98 and $99.98). There's no street date listed, but we'd be stunned if it wasn't on store shelves by Memorial Day (5/31). DreamWorks' Saving Private Ryan hits BD on 5/4 (that's when all of Sony's catalog war DVDs street too), so we'd bet you'll see The Pacific around then as well. We'll let you know as soon as HBO makes its official announcement.

Back later. Stay tuned!

3/15/10

Afternoon folks! Welcome to a new week. Did you all survive Daylight Savings? Man, I remembered, but the change really screwed me up. I ended up sleeping in WAY later than normal this morning.

Anyway, we've got a BUNCH of new announcement news to cover for you this afternoon, so let's get right to it...

First up, Warner Home Video has officially announced the Blu-ray Disc debut of Caddyshack on 6/8 (SRP $24.98), just in time for the film's 30th Anniversary. The film had been previously released in HD-DVD, and has long been available on DVD. The new edition will include all the special features from the previous editions, along with the all-new Caddyshack: The 19th Hole documentary, as well as the film's theatrical trailer. From the press release, the 37-minute doc will include "featuring hilarious outtakes, rare footage and interviews with stars Chevy Chase and Cindy Morgan, producers Jon Peters and Mark Canton, and director Harold Ramis, along with other cast and creative team members recalling their on-set experiences." This new edition will also be released on DVD the same day (SRP $12.97).

Meanwhile, Criterion has just announced their June DVD and Blu-ray Disc slate, including Jan Troell's Everlasting Moments (Cat #520 - 6/15 - DVD), Jim Jarmusch's Mystery Train (#521 - 6/15 - DVD & Blu-ray), Michelangelo Antonioni's Red Desert (#522 - 6/22 - DVD & Blu-ray) and Carol Reed's Night Train to Munich (#523 - 6/22 - DVD).

Lionsgate has set The Spy Next Door for DVD and Blu-ray release on 5/18, as well as Coach on 6/8.

Sony has just announced the DVD and Blu-ray release of Legion on 5/11 (SRP $28.95 and $34.95). Extras will include 3 featurettes (Creating the Apocalypse: Behind the Physical Effects, Humanity's Last Line of Defense: The Cast and Characters and From Pixels to Picture: A Look at the Visual Effects). The Blu-ray will add a PiP viewing option, movieIQ and BD-Live.

Sony is also re-releasing Extraordinary Measures on Blu-ray on 5/18 (SRP $34.95), and is expected to release The Road on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 5/25 (SRP $28.95 and $34.95) as part of their recent distribution deal with The Weinstein Company. The Road is already available for pre-order on Amazon by clicking on the links.

Also today, Shout! Factory has Father Knows Best: Season Four coming to DVD on 3/23 and Rhoda: Season Two on 3/30. Shout! has also officially announced the 5/4 DVD release of Marcus Welby, M.D.: Season One. The 7-disc set will include 26 episodes (including one directed by a young Steven Spielberg) as well as the 2-hour TV movie A Matter of Humanities. SRP is $49.97.

And finally, we wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the passing of actor Peter Graves, who starred in Mission Impossible, Airplane! ("Roger, Roger. What's our vector, Victor?"), The Winds of War, Stalag 17 and many, many more TV shows and films. We also wanted to note the recent death of Merlin Olson, the former Hall of Fame NFL football player who turned actor and appeared in such TV series as Little House on the Prairie and Father Murphy. Both will be missed.

Stay tuned...


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