Okay, lot of stuff going today. I'll be working on the columns and reviews later this afternoon and this evening, so something should be up later tonight or early tomorrow morning.
In the meantime, some title updates and announcements...
First, I've got word for you on the extras you can expect on the rest of those Warner/New Line sci-fi Blu-rays. We posted details on THX 1138 on Tuesday, but here's the others (titles with links are now available for pre-order on Amazon.com)...
Forbidden Planet - deleted scenes and lost footage, 2 Robby the Robot guest appearances (The Invisible Boy feature film and The Thin Man TV series episode Robot Client), the Watch the Skies! Science Fiction, the 1950s and Us TCM documentary, 2 featurettes (Amazing! Exploring the Far Reaches of Forbidden Planet and Robby the Robot: Engineering a Sci-Fi Icon), excerpts from The MGM Parade TV series, theatrical trailers of Forbidden Planet and The Invisible Boy
Lost in Space - audio commentary (by Stephen Hopkins and Akiva Goldsman), audio commentary (by Angus Bickerton, Lauren Ritchie, Peter Levy, Ray Lovejoy and Carla Fry), 2 vintage featurettes (Building the Special Effects and The Future of Space Travel), deleted scenes, Apollo Four Forty's music video, theatrical trailer
Mars Attacks! - no extras (movie only, like the previous DVD release)
A Scanner Darkly - (same as currently available BD) audio commentary (by director/screenwriter Richard Linklater, Keanu Reeves, Isa Hackett Dick, producer Tommy Pallotta and Jonathan Lethem), The Weight of the Line: Animation Tales featurette, theatrical trailer
The Matrix Reloaded - will include all the same extras that were on the previous Blu-ray release of the film from The Ultimate Matrix Collection Blu-ray box set.
Meanwhile, Warner (via the New Line label) will release Kevin Smith's Cop Out: Rock Out with Your Glock Out Edition on DVD and Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy on 7/20 (SRP $28.98 and $35.99). I haven't seen the film yet, but just typing that made me laugh. The DVD will include deleted scenes. The Blu-ray will add a Maximum Comedy Mode viewing options with Kevin Smith and Seann William Scott, Focus Points and the Wisdom from the Shit Bandit featurette, along with the DVD and Digital Copy versions.
Also today, we have details on Paramount and DreamWorks' Road to Perdition Blu-ray (due 8/3). The disc will include an introduction by director Sam Mendes (HD), audio commentary by Mendes, 1 HD featurettes (A Cinematic Life: The Art & Influence of Conrad Hall), 2 SD featurettes (The Library: A Further Exploration of the World of Road to Perdition and The Making of Road to Perdition), deleted scenes (with optional commentary by Mendes) and the theatrical trailer (HD).
And Lionsgate has set Henson's Place for DVD release on 8/3 (SRP $14.98), along with Open House on DVD and Blu-ray (SRP $26.98 and $29.99).
Finally, our good friends over at Kino Lorber have announced some absolutely GREAT new classic titles for DVD and Blu-ray release in July! Look for a 2-disc Lost Keaton: Sixteen Comedy Shorts 1934-37 DVD set on 7/6 (SRP $34.95), along with a Steamboat Bill, Jr: Ultimate Edition on both DVD and Blu-ray the same day (SRP $29.95 and $34.95). On 7/20, look for Nollywood Babylon on DVD (SRP $29.95). Finally, the French dramedy Home will arrive on DVD and Blu-ray on 7/27 (SRP $29.95 and $34.95). Lost Keaton: Sixteen Comedy Shorts 1934-37 will include all 16 Educational Pictures shorts (14 of which have never been available on DVD until now) including The Gold Ghost, Allez Oop, Palooka from Paducah, One Run Elmer, Hayseed Romance, Tars and Stripes, The E-Flat Man, The Timid Young Man, Three on a Limb, Grand Slam Opera, Blue Blazes, The Chemist, Mixed Magic, Jail Bait, Ditto and Love Nest on Wheels. You'll also get a stills gallery, film notes by David Macleod (author of The Sound of Buster Keaton) and more.
Here's a look at the cover art for Road to Perdition Blu-ray, along with New Line's Cop Out (both formats) and Kino's Lost Keaton: Sixteen Comedy Shorts 1934-37 DVD and the Steamboat Bill, Jr: Ultimate Edition (both formats)...
Don't forget the two-part season finale of Fringe starts tonight! Stay tuned...
(LATE UPDATE - 5/12/10 - 4:30 PM PDT)
Okay, more new announcements today...
A company called Well Go USA has set the DVD and Blu-ray Disc release of the Hong Kong actioner IP Man for 7/27. There will be standard and Collector's Editions on each format (SRP $19.98 & $24.98 on DVD and $26.98 & $32.98 on Blu-ray). Extras on the Collector's Editions will include interviews with the director and actors, including 20 Minutes with Donnie Yen, The Making of IP Man featurette, deleted scenes, a photo gallery, trailers and TV spots and a sneak peek at IP Man 2.
Meanwhile, Magnet Releasing and Magnolia will release Power Kids on both DVD and Blu-ray on 6/8.
RHI and Vivendi will release Acceptance on DVD on 7/27.
Sony has set Drop Dead Diva: Season One for release on DVD on 6/1.
Eagle Rock has set The Shadows: The Final Tour for release on 6/15 (SRP $19.98), followed by Emerson, Lake & Palmer: Live at Montreux 1997 and The Moody Blues: Threshold of a Dream - Live at the Isle of Wight Festival on 6/22 (SRP $19.98 each), all on Blu-ray Disc.
Criterion has announced a new Eclipse series DVD set: Eclipse Series 22: Presenting Sacha Guitry, due on 7/27 (SRP $59.95). The set will include the films The Story of a Cheat, The Pearls of the Crown, Désiré and Quadrille.
Universal has announced a few new TVD releases, including Psych: The Complete Fourth Season on 7/13, Mercy: The Complete First Season and Saturday Night Live: The Best of Will Ferrell - Volume 3 on 8/3, and Trauma: Season 1 on 8/10.
On a personal note, this one got me excited: WHV and the NFL will release NFL History of the Minnesota Vikings on DVD on 9/14 (SRP $26.95). The 2-disc set will chronicle the Vikings from their debut in 1969 to last season's run at the Bowl with Brett Favre. FINALLY, Vikes fans get some love!
Warner has also set Batman: The Brave and the Bold - Season One, Part One for DVD release on 8/17 (SRP $19.97). The set will include 13 episodes on 2 discs.
Our own Dr. Jahnke just moments ago alerted me to this article over on the New York Post, which includes details on some new titles coming to the Warner Archive on 5/18. I'm particularly excited about the arrival of The Fiendish Plot of Fu Manchu, but there are some other great titles in there as well, including a new Classic Musical Shorts from the Dream Factory 1928-48 set. Do check it out!
And Warner Home Video has revealed yet another version of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest on DVD and Blu-ray... a new 35th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition box set (due on 9/7, SRP $39.92 & $49.99). It's essentially the same edition already available on DVD and Blu-ray, with a couple newly added features: a new Completely Cockoo feature-length documentary and a new
interview with Michael Douglas. It's also packed in a collector's box with new paper swag, including such as playing cards, posters, character cards, pre-production correspondence and fascinating movie trivia.
And in news today, Fox is reporting that combined DVD and Blu-ray sales of James Cameron's Avatar have topped 20 million units (not sure if this is worldwide or U.S. only), 6.2 million of them on Blu-ray. More here at Home Media.
Also, the WirelessHD Consortium has finalized the next generation of its WirelessHD in-room cable-replacement technology, with its new 1.1 spec, which reportedly has bandwidth enough to be compatible with HDMI 1.4a and 3D. Pretty interesting. It sure would be nice to save money on cables if the quality is good enough. More here at TWICE.
We'll try to get Barrie's column posted tomorrow, so stay tuned...
(EARLY UPDATE - 5/12/10 - 1:15 PM PDT)
Okay folks... Paramount has just issued an official statement about the Saving Private Ryan BD audio sync issues. Yes, there IS a problem, but the positive development is that a replacement program is now in place AND fixed discs should be in stores by this time next week. Good on the studio (and Technicolor) for jumping on this so quickly. Here's their statement...
PARAMOUNT HOME ENTERTAINMENT RECALLING SAVING PRIVATE RYAN SAPPHIRE SERIES BLU-RAY DISCS
Replacement Product to be Available at Retail by Tuesday, May 18
HOLLYWOOD, CA (May 12, 2010) - Paramount Home Entertainment today announced that it is recalling the Sapphire Series Blu-ray edition of Saving Private Ryan recently released in North America, the United Kingdom and the Benelux countries due to an audio synch error that occurred during Technicolor's authoring process. Although Technicolor employs comprehensive quality control measures, in this instance the issue was not detected prior to replication.
"Technicolor has been a valuable partner to Paramount Home Entertainment, and both Paramount and Technicolor are committed to providing the highest quality product to consumers," said Dennis Maguire, President, Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment Worldwide. "Our Sapphire Series was created to present our greatest films with the finest picture and sound quality available. Saving Private Ryan is a five time Academy Award® winning film including Best Director from one of America's most acclaimed filmmakers so we are recalling this edition to ensure that every Blu-ray disc honors Steven Spielberg's vision."
Technicolor has set up the following toll-free numbers for consumers who have already purchased the Saving Private Ryan Sapphire Series Blu-ray, which provides details on how they can receive a replacement copy -- US and Canada: 888-370-8621, UK: 08000-852-613. Consumers can also return the Blu-ray to the stores where they purchased the product to receive a replacement. Technicolor expects to have replacement discs available at retail no later than Tuesday, May 18.
Editor's Note: I've confirmed with Paramount that the corrected Blu-ray discs will have a YELLOW UPC code/symbol on the back. That's how you'll know you're getting the fixed Blu-ray.
Back with more later. Stay tuned...
Okay, we've got a couple things for you early this morning...
First, 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 your order from Amazon after clicking through to them from our links goes to help support our work here at The Bits and we appreciate it!
Speaking of cover art, we've got art for 5 of those new Warner/New Line catalog sci-fi Blu-rays that were announced yesterday for release on 9/7. Here's what they look like...
As you can see, we also posted cover art for Fox's new Predator: Ultimate Hunter Edition Blu-ray due on 6/29. This will be a 2-disc set (SRP $29.99) containing over 5 hours of special features, including an in-depth documentary, director's commentary, never-before-seen bonus footage, behind-the-scenes featurettes and more. You'll also get Movie Money good toward the price of a ticket to the new Predators sequel in theatres on 7/9.
Back on the Warner/New Line titles for a moment: A Scanner Darkly is NOT a new release, it's just a re-promote of the same Blu-ray that came out in 2007. Likewise, The Matrix Reloaded is the same version as was released previously in the Matrix box set, now available as a BD single for the first time.
In terms of extras, we're still waiting to hear about Forbidden Planet, Mars Attacks! and Lost in Space, but we have confirmed that the THX 1138: The George Lucas Director's Cut will include most everything from the DVD, including audio commentary with George Lucas and Walter Murch, a Theater of Noise sound effects only track, 5 featurettes (Master Sessions with Walter Murch, A Legacy of Filmmakers: The Early Years of American Zoetrope, Artifact from the Future: The Making of THX 1138, Electronic Labyrinth THX 1138 4EB and BALD) and the film's original theatrical and re-release trailers. No word on the Easter eggs. We'll post more on these titles as soon as it comes in.
Meanwhile, we also have an update today on Paramount and DreamWorks' Saving Private Ryan Blu-ray Disc. The studio has unofficially confirmed that there IS a sound sync issue on current copies, and Amazon has just temporarily pulled the disc from sale. We're told that the studio IS working on fixed discs for retail, and they're expected to soon announce a replacement plan for those who already have the bad copies. For those who may not be aware, audio sync issues appear to start around Chapter 15 - certain lines of dialogue appear out of lip-sync with the film. Again, we'll post more on this as it comes in.
In announcement news, Image Entertainment has revealed that the Boris Karloff classic Thriller: The Complete Series is coming to DVD in October in a new 14-disc DVD box set, complete with hours of bonus features. Very cool news indeed. We also hear that the classic The Twilight Zone is currently planned by Image for Blu-ray release in the coming months as well. Good news indeed!
Also, Universal has set Nanny McPhee for DVD and Blu-ray Disc release on 8/17, along with the Blu-ray release of Battlestar Galactica: Season Three on 7/27.
And in news from around the Net, Deadline Hollywood has an interesting story up on a recent FCC decision to allow movie studios to stream first-run films directly to consumers via secure cable or satellite BEFORE their release on DVD and Blu-ray. I suspect theatre chains aren't too happy with this. Though having recently paid $12 for a matinee ticket to see Iron Man 2, I'm not too happy with theatre chains at the moment either.
Finally, do we have any baseball fans in the house? You might get a kick out of this - video of the debut of pitcher Billy-Ray "Ro-Jo" Johnson for the minor league Round Rock Express from this past weekend. For those of you thinking he looks suspiciously like Will Ferrell... that's because it IS Will Ferrell! Apparently it was a promotional stunt for a local charity golf tournament. Pretty funny!
Afternoon, folks! Anyone go see Iron Man 2 this weekend? For myself, I certainly enjoyed it just fine. I wasn't blown away, and thought the film is a little padded in the middle, but for my money the cast and many little dialogue moments - the interplay between the characters - really elevates what would otherwise be a fairly average action/superhero film. Don Cheadle is a particularly good addition to the cast, and Mickey Rourke is very enjoyable as Whiplash. If you liked the first one, I suspect you'll like this one too. There are lots of references to other superhero franchises to come (be sure you stay through the end credits again), and some good cameos too. Of those, I particularly liked Stan Lee as Larry King! Actually, the biggest problem I had while seeing the film wasn't the film itself - it's the fact that I spent $12 for a matinee ticket! $12 for a MATINEE!? Insane.
Anyway, the good Dr. Jahnke has just updated his Electric Theatre with his own thoughts on Iron Man 2 and I can't say I disagree with him in the slightest. He also looks at Timecrimes on disc in his Tales from the Queue, so don't miss it.
The big release news today, is that Universal has officially announced that Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho will street on Blu-ray Disc on 10/19. The film is being released in honor of its 50th Anniversary. The Psycho: 50th Anniversary Edition will be digitally remastered and feature a new DTS HD 5.1 sound mix (thankfully, the original mono will be included as well). Extras will include audio commentary with historian/author Stephen Rebello, the feature-length The Making of Psycho documentary, 4 featurettes (Psycho Sound, In the Master's Shadow: Hitchcock's Legacy, The Shower Scene and The Shower Scene: Storyboards by Saul Bass), vintage Hitchcock/Truffaut interviews, vintage newsreel footage, text production notes, The Psycho Archives production photo
gallery, additional galleries of posters, ads, behind-the-scenes photos and lobby cards, and the film's theatrical trailer. You can read the full press release here.
The OTHER big release news today, is that Warner Home Video has set no less than SIX classic sci-fi catalog titles for Blu-ray release on 9/7 (SRP $24.98 each), including Forbidden Planet, Tim Burton's Mars Attacks!, George Lucas' THX-1138: Director's Cut, Lost in Space, A Scanner Darkly and Matrix Reloaded (previously only available in the Matrix Blu-ray box set). We're trying to confirm with WHV whether all of the previous DVD extras will included on these titles, and if A Scanner Darkly is somehow different that the Blu-ray version released in 2007.
Warner and TCM have also set a pair of new DVD box sets for release on 9/7 (SRP $27.92 each). Look for TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: Gangsters (includes High Sierra, Little Caesar, The Public Enemy and White Heat) and TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: Hammer Horror (includes Horror of Dracula, Dracula Has Risen from the
Grave, The Curse of Frankenstein and Frankenstein Must be Destroyed).
Meanwhile, Sony has set The Bounty Hunter for DVD and Blu-ray Disc release on 7/13, followed by The Wronged Man, The Bannen Way and My Boys: The Complete Second & Third Seasons on DVD on 7/20.
Paramount has set the comedy She's Out of My League for release on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 6/22.
And Fox has announced a Predator: Ultimate Hunter Edition Blu-ray for release on 6/29 (SRP $29.99). No details yet on extras are available, but presumably the disc will include all of the previous DVD's special features that the original Blu-ray release of the film lacked. This is obviously timed to coincide with the theatrical release of Robert Rodriguez's Predators sequel on 7/9.
Also, you may recall that I mentioned on Friday a few Criterion Blu-ray titles now available for pre-order on Amazon that are yet to be officially announced. Well... Bits reader Darryl G. pointed out one more: Seven Samurai. Now THAT we can't wait to see. Watch for official details soon.
Finally today, we should take a moment to acknowledge the passing of the renown singer and actress Lena Horne and the legendary fantasy illustrator Frank Frazetta. Horne was a recording and Broadway star, was a regular presence on TV screens in the 1960s and 70s and appeared in a number of films over the years, including The Wiz. She was 92. Frazetta's magnificent cover paintings will be known to anyone familiar with the characters Conan the Barbarian and John Carter of Mars, the bands Nazareth and Molly Hatchet and more. If I'm not mistaken, his most recent work was the album cover for Wolfmother's self-titled 2006 release. If you haven't seen it yet, we highly recommend the documentary Frazetta: Painting with Fire on his work. He was 82.
Back tomorrow with new disc reviews, and we have a new Classic Coming Attractions from Barrie due later this week as well. Stay tuned...
Holy cheesy-awesome sci-fi, Batman! That's right old chum... our friends over at Shout! Factory are going all HARD-CORMAN in July, with new DVD AND BLU-RAY special editions of Roger Corman's Forbidden World and Galaxy of Terror on 7/20!!
The Forbidden World: 2-Disc Special Edition DVD and Blu-ray (SRP $19.93 & $26.97) will include a new anamorphic widescreen transfer of the film from the original interpositives (1.85:1, full HD on Blu-ray), the never-before-seen unrated Director's Cut version (1.33:1, in SD), audio commentary by director Allan Holzman, a new interview with producer Roger Corman, interviews with the cast and crew (including Holzman, composer Susan Justin and actor Jesse Vint), a look at the film's special effects (with John Carl Buechler, Robert Skotak, Tony Randal and R. Christopher Biggs), a gallery of stills and poster artwork, the original theatrical trailer and additional New World trailers. On the Blu-ray version, everything will be included on the BD disc except the Director's Cut and audio commentary, which will be on the included DVD disc.
The Galaxy of Terror: Special Edition DVD and Blu-ray (SRP $19.93 & $26.97) will include a new audio commentary with the cast and crew, 7 featurettes - New World (producer Roger Corman, screenwriter Marc Siegler and director Bruce D. Clark discuss the origins of the film), The Crew of the Quest (actors Robert Englund, Sid Haig, Taaffe O'Connell and Grace Zabriskie discuss their experiences), Planet of Horrors (a detailed look into the creation of the film's memorable sets and alien landscapes), Future King (the cast and crew recall working with then co-production designer James Cameron), Old School (a journey into the complicated mechanical and makeup effects with artists Allan A. Apone, Douglas J. White, Alec Gillis and others) and Launch Sequence (co-editor R.J. Kizer walks us through postproduction and a profile on composer Barry Schrader), the film's theatrical trailer (with commentary from writer/director Joel Olsen, courtesy of TrailersfromHell.com), additional theatrical trailers, extensive photo galleries including posters, production sketches and designs and the film's original screenplay.
In addition to all that, Shout! Factory has announced that future installments of its Corman line will include Attack of the Crab Monsters, the original Not of This Earth (1957), Piranha (directed by Joe Dante), Humanoids from the Deep (starring Doug McClure and Vic Morrow), Deathsport (starring David Carradine and Claudia Jennings), Battle Truck (released in the U.S. as Warlords of the 21st Century) and more. YES!
Shout!'s not done yet, folks... they've also officially announced the DVD release of a 6-disc Leave it to Beaver: Season Three set on 6/15 (SRP $39.97) and a 37-disc Leave it to Beaver: The Complete Series box set on 6/29 (SRP $199.99 - including the previous Universal seasons). The Season Three set will include new audio interview with stars Jerry Mathers and Frank Bank from Shokus Internet Radio's Stu's Show. The Complete Series box set will include an exclusive bonus DVD disc of extras, among them the original It's A Small World pilot episode, 3 featurettes (Forever the Beaver: The Cleavers Look Back, Ken Osmond and Frank Bank Remember and The Drum Major of the Toy Parade), a special film made for the U.S. Treasury featuring the Cleavers, and original network promos. The set's other discs also include 6 episodes of Stu's Show (featuring members of the cast) presented as a sort of commentary track on various episodes. And the box will include a reproduction of the original Hasbro board game as well. It's also worth nothing that BOTH DVD releases are newly remastered. The first two seasons of the show were released previously on DVD by Universal, but these Shout! Factory editions feature new presentations of ALL the episodes, mastered from new HD transfers.
Let me just say it right out, for those who haven't recognized it yet: Compared to a number of the major studios, Shout! Factory is kicking some serious ass right now. Well done, guys!
Speaking of kicking ass, our friends at Blue Underground are doing a little of that too. They've just announced the DVD and Blu-ray Disc release of Machine Gun McCain on 8/24 (SRP $19.98 & $29.98 - extras include an interview with director Giuliano Montaldo and both the English and Italian trailers).
Here's the cover art for all the Shout! Factory titles mentioned above...
One last thing for you today, before we sign off for the weekend: This is unofficial, but still interesting. Amazon is now taking pre-orders on new Blu-ray Disc titles from Criterion, including The Thin Red Line and The Darjeeling Limited (incorrectly labeled Express). It's possible these are mistakes, but it's more likely that these are place holder entries for real titles soon to be announced. We'll give you all the details when and if they are. Stay tuned!
All right, that's it for today. Frankly, I'm exhausted after all that. Have a great weekend, folks! Go see Iron Man 2 or something... ;)
More new announcements today...
Lionsgate has set their July DVD and Blu-ray slate, and it includes some gems. Look for Six Gun, Ladybugs (DVD & BD), Jimmy Hollywood (BD), LeapFrog Double Feature Learning Set: Let's Go to School & Talking Words Factory and LeapFrog Double Feature Learning Set: Math Adventure to the Moon & Letter Factory on 7/6, followed by Caught in the Crossfire, Sesame Street: 20 Years... and Still Counting!, Thomas & Friends: Creaky Cranky, Saturday Night Live: Best of Will Ferrell and Saturday Night Live: Best of Tracy Morgan on 7/13, Ninja's Creed and The Professional on 7/20, and Neighbor, Johnny Handsome (BD), a Rambo: Extended Cut (BD), Lock Up (BD), a Rambo: The Complete Collector's Set (BD) and Barney: Furry Friends.
The Rambo: Extended Cut Blu-ray (SRP $19.99) will include a 9-minute longer cut of the film, as well as an all-new, 90-minute Rambo: To Hell and Back video production diary.
The Rambo: The Complete Collection Blu-ray box set (SRP $54.99), contains all four films with extras (as previously released on the format), including the theatrical cut of Rambo.
Meanwhile, Warner and the BBC are releasing Days That Shook The World: The Complete Series and Days That Shook The World: Season Three on DVD on 8/3.
We have updated details on Universal's DVD and Blu-ray release of Greenberg, announced yesterday for 7/13. Extras on both versions will include 3 featurettes (A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Greenberg, Greenberg Loves Los Angeles and Noah Baumbach Takes a Novel Approach). The Blu-ray will add all the usual BD-Live, U-Control and pocketBLU widgets, wingdings and whatnots.
MGM has announced the DVD spoof The 41-Year-Old Virgin Who Knocked Up Sarah Marshall and Felt Superbad About It for release on 6/8. Yeah... I don't know that we really need to say anything more about that one.
And while we're talking MGM (and Fox), the always excellent and reliable James Bond site MI-6 has revealed that the long-expected Quantum of Solace: Definitive Edition will arrive on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 7/28. Look for audio commentaries and more new and exclusive bonus features, along with lenticular packaging. Sadly, there's no word on the Blu-ray release of the remaining, as-yet-unreleased classic Bond films, but our sources tell us that MGM, which is in the midst of financial difficulties, is likely waiting to release them until closer to the next Bond film. Which sadly, has gotten delayed, also due to the studio's financial problems. Hopefully, Time Warner will end up purchasing the studio once more - not necessairly an ideal situation, but at least some of this projects will start moving forward again.
Also, Paramount and DreamWorks will soon announced the comedy She's Out of My League for release on DVD and Blu-ray Disc, likely in July. We'll post additional details as they become available.
Finally, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has set Not the Messiah (He's a Very Naughty Boy) for DVD and Blu-ray release on 6/8 (SLP $24.96 & $30.95). For those unfamiliar with this, it's a recording of a one-time-only live performance of a "song oratorio inspired by" Monty Python's Life of Brian, featuring Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, and Terry Gilliam, at the Royal Albert Hall in London on October 23rd, 2009. Extras will include 3 featurettes (The Road to the Albert Hall, Showtime! and The Bright Side...) along with 6 sing-a-long songs. The Blu-ray will add BD-Live and movieIQ+sync.
Now maybe Sony will consider releasing Monty Python and the Holy Grail on Blu-ray soon?
And in other news today, Bits reader Eddie M. sent over this link to a story at Creative Cow about the Library of Congress' plans to archive classic films for the long term. And by long term, we're talking hundreds or even thousands of years - no kidding! It's pretty fascinating stuff, so if you're into film preservation, we highly recommend it. Thanks Eddie!
We'll leave you with a little more new cover art... Lionsgate's Rambo: Extended Cut and Rambo: The Complete Collection, along with MGM's Hot Tub Time Machine (6/29), all on Blu-ray...
We've got more new announcements today...
First though, we've kicked off another new Giveaway, offering each of you the chance to take home copies of Anchor Bay/Starz's The New Daughter on Blu-ray Disc. Entries will be accepted until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, May 16th. Click on the links for instructions on how to enter and good luck!
Warner Home Video has announced the DVD and Blu-ray release of Bored to Death for 9/14, and have set HBO's Flight of the Conchords: The Complete Collection for DVD only release on 8/24.
Meanwhile, Universal has set Noah Baumbach's Greenberg for DVD and Blu-ray release on 7/13. Additional details will follow soon.
Universal has also set The Allnighter, Cross My Heart, Going Berserk, The Great Waldo Pepper, The Greek Tycoon, Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn and 'Night Mother for DVD release on 8/3.
Also today, Fox has set The Simpsons: Season 13 for release on DVD and Blu-ray on 8/25 (SRP $49.98 & $59.99). Extras will include commentary on each episode.
Fox has also set Our Family Wedding for DVD and Blu-ray release on 7/13 (SRP $29.99 and $39.99).
Fox and MGM have also announced the DVD and Blu-ray release of SG-U Stargate Universe: Season 1.5 on 7/27 (SRP $29.98 & $39.99). The Blu-ray will be a 3-disc set, include episode commentaries, lots more Kino Video Diaries and 15 featurettes (David Blue: An
Interview with the Creators of SG-U, Designing a New Race: Space Aliens, Tanked! Elyse Levesque Goes for a Swim, Chatting with the Cast: Peter Kelamis, Alaina Huffman: An Interview with the Creators of SG-U, Chatting with the Cast: Jennifer Spence, A Behind the Scenes Look at Incursion, Two-for-One: Behind the "Incursion" Double Ratchet Stunt, Chatting with the Cast: Patrick Gilmore, Brian J Smith: An Interview with the Creators of SG-U, The Destiny of General O'Neill, A Day in the Life of Louis Ferreria, Chatting with the Cast: Julia Benson, Out for a Spacewalk with Jamil Walker Smith and Finding Destiny: A Tour of the Destiny Set with Chris Beach).
Vivendi is releasing the new Riverworld on DVD and now Blu-ray on 6/22 (SRP $19.97 and $24.99). This is the recent 2010 SyFy miniseries remake of the original 2003 Sci-Fi Channel film.
And E1 Entertainment will release Sanctuary: The Complete Second Season on DVD and Blu on 6/15.
In other news today, we're hearing scattered reports of audio sync problems with Paramount and DreamWorks' Saving Private Ryan on Blu-ray. We haven't experienced the problems ourselves, but we'll keep an eye on the situation and update you when there's anything official.
And we'll leave you with more new cover art today... Fox's The Simpsons: Season 13, Fox and MGM's SG-U Stargate Universe: Season 1.5 and Vivendi's Riverworld, each on both formats...
Well... it's another typically busy afternoon here at The Bits. We've got more behind-the-scenes work going on here, on the site itself and also research into a couple of much-loved films that may soon be coming to DVD and Blu-ray. We're actually lobbying for certain films to get released, as we've always done here. When we're able to talk more about any of it, rest assured we will.
In the meantime, 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 the retailer after clicking through to them from our links goes to help support our work here at The Bits and we really appreciate it.
Also today, our good Dr. Jahnke has updated his Electric Theatre with more new film reviews, including the new remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street (now playing at your local google-plex) and The Last of Sheila on DVD. Don't miss it!
In release news today, MGM has officially set Hot Tub Time Machine for release on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 6/29 (SRP $29.98 and $39.99). Boy, that was FAST! Anyway, both will be released in Unrated editions. The DVD will include deleted scenes and the film's theatrical trailer. The Blu-ray will add 4 "promotional spots" and a Digital Copy version of the film.
Also coming from Warner, Discovery and the BBC are the documentary series LIFE (6/1 - DVD & Blu-ray) and Oceans (6/8 - DVD only), and - from Warner and National Geographic - How the Earth Changed History (6/29 - DVD & Blu-ray).
In other news today, here's something fun: The folks at Lucasfilm and JibJab have teamed up to celebrate this year's 30th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back, by creating a funny animated version of the film's plot. And here's the best part - you and THREE friends can upload your own pictures to star in the short as Luke, Han, Leia and Lando! It's pretty funny and surprisingly clever, so do check it out.
Finally today, I mentioned earlier that we do a lot of lobbying for specific titles to get released on disc. One of those titles I DO want to talk about this afternoon. I'd like to add "my two cents" to those of Harry over at AICN. Harry was recently talking about new DVD and BD releases, including Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan. In the course of this, Harry mentioned that the Spielberg film he'd REALLY like to see on Blu-ray is 1941. So say we all! Many of us here at The Bits have loved that film since we first saw it in theatres back in 1979. And the fact is, the last - hell, the ONLY - official DVD release of the film from Universal presented the film in non-anamorphic widescreen. That's right, it's NEVER been given even a standard definition 16x9 transfer. We think it's about time Wild Bill Kelso flies high... def! We've start planting seeds in the right places, but do us a favor: If you want to see this classic updated on disc too, let the folks at Universal know! May we suggest politely making a pro-1941 post on their Facebook site or sending them a message there (and elsewhere)? Spread the word!
Afternoon folks! Hope your weekend was a good one. We've got some release news for you today...
Sony has set A Single Man for DVD and Blu-ray release on 7/6, followed by To Save a Life on both formats on 8/3.
Paramount (and DreamWorks) have set Sam Mendes' Road to Perdition for Blu-ray Disc release on 8/3. Extras will include everything from the previous DVD release. Hawaii Five-O: The Ninth Season also streets on DVD that day from CBS and Paramount. Meanwhile, Sgt. Bilko: The Phil Silvers Show - The First Season hits DVD from CBS and Paramount on 7/27.
Fox has set White Collar: Season 1 for DVD and Blu-ray release on 7/13 (SRP $59.99 and $69.99).
Also today, we have more confirmation that the Back to the Future films are coming to Blu-ray later this year. Bits reader Billy P. attended the screening of the trilogy at the Egyptian in Hollywood this past weekend, and both Lea Thompson and Claudia Wells were on hand to do Q&A. According to Billy, "One audience member asked Claudia if she knew when the Blu-ray versions were going to come out. She said she had filmed some interviews along with James Tolkan (Strickland) in NY for the Blu-rays and that it would definitely be out this year." That's not official, obviously, but it follows in the wake of reports from our own industry sources that the trilogy is in the works for Blu-ray release this year. We'll post additional information as it becomes available. Thanks to Billy P. for the report!
And in other news, Movie Gallery has announced that it's closing all of its stores nationwide and shutting its doors for good. The brick and mortar rental-er just couldn't compete with the download services. The question now is: Will this help ailing Blockbuster... and for how long? Read more here and here at Home Media. Tiny bright spot: Those of you looking to buy cheap movies on disc might want to attend one of their liquidation sales.
If you guys are in the neighborhood of Whittier, California - and you're Cheech & Chong fans - you might want to drop by the Blockbuster Video location at 11815 Whittier Blvd between 5 and 7 PM (Pacific). They're going to be on hand signing copies of their new Cheech & Chong's Hey Watch This DVD and Blu-ray.
Finally, a couple sad notes: Actress Lynn Redgrave has passed away. She appeared over the years in TONS of films and especially TV shows and films over the years, notably Gods and Monsters, and was a veteran of the stage. She was also twice nominated for an Oscar. Lynn was the younger sister of Vanessa Redgrave. She was 67.
Also, NASA's original "pad führer", Guenter Wendt, has died today. Wendt was the guy who sealed all the astronauts into their rockets and ran the launch pad during the pre-launch process. In his later years, he was also a technical consultant on HBO's From the Earth to the Moon. And you might remember a nice moment from Ron Howard's Apollo 13 about Guenter - a line spoken by Tom Hanks as astronaut Jim Lovell: "I Vonder vere Guenter Vent?" (The "w" is pronounced like a "v" in German.) He was 85.
Here's more new cover art: Anchor Bay's The Crazies on DVD and Blu-ray (due 6/29) and Image's The Long Good Friday Blu-ray (8/24)...
Don't forget: There's another new Chuck on NBC tonight! Deadline Hollywood says the show may be close to renewal, but the ratings will make all the difference, so be sure to tune in. Speaking of... you can make your very own Nerd Herd I.D. badge here.
So here's a bit of good news today...
This past weekend, film critic Leonard Maltin introduced a screening of the 1933 King Kong up at the TCM Festival. Then on Monday, he revealed on his blog that the film would be coming to Blu-ray later this year from Warner Home Video. Well... we have now confirmed directly with representatives from WHV that a new King Kong Blu-ray WILL in fact arrive in stores later this year, in time for the holidays. No additional details are as yet available, and keep in mind that the title hasn't been "officially" announced anywhere by the studio. But a senior WHV rep has confirmed with me today that it IS coming. So start planning accordingly.
Also coming later this year is a Blu-ray of New Line's Se7en, though that's almost an anti-climax given that it's already available on BD in Europe and Canada. But watch for an official announcement in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, Image Entertainment has revealed a number of new Blu-ray Disc releases as well, for release in July and August. Among the titles you can expect are Don McKay on 6/29, Larry the Cable Guy: Git-R-Done and Love and Other Disasters on 7/6, Middle of Nowhere, Gabriel Iglesias: Hot and Fluffy and Eyeborgs on 7/13, Just Another Day, Black Narcissus (for Criterion), The Red Shoes (for Criterion), Evil Aliens and
UFC Presents World Extreme Cagefighting: Aldo vs. Faber on 7/20, Steve Byrne: The Byrne Identity, Accidents Happen, Victor Victoria: The Broadway Musical and The Secret of the Grain (for Criterion) on 7/27, Splinter on 8/3, Multiple Sarcasms and In the Shadow of the Moon on 8/10, Skellig: The Owl Man on 8/17, and Time Bandits, Withnail and I, $5 a Day, The Long Good Friday and Mona Lisa on 8/24.
Here's a look at the cover art for In the Shadow of the Moon, Time Bandits and Withnail and I...
One last thing today for you fans of NBC's Chuck: In an effort to encourage the network to review the show for a fourth season, a whole bunch of fans are getting together in select cities around the country on Monday to stage public "flash mobs" in support of the show. Word is, they're all going to dress up in Buy More or Nerd Herd employee uniforms! Now THAT I would love to see. You can read more here at ChuckTV.net, which also has instructions for participating. You go, Herders!
Okay... more on Monday. See you then!
Pretty slow news day today, which is good because I'm busy working on a bunch of behind-the-scenes stuff this afternoon. In any case...
Warner has announced a pair of DVD releases for the BBC due on 8/17 - A History of Scotland and Simon Schama: A History of Britain - Special Edition.
Speaking of Warner, for those of you interested in "motion comics" the studio has just released Jonah Hex Motion Comics for download via iTunes and elsewhere.
Also, Eagle Rock Entertainment has set the documentary When You're Strange: A Film About The Doors for DVD and Blu-ray release on 6/29.
Finally, Infinity Entertainment has set the Smithsonian Networks documentary White House Revealed for release on DVD on 7/20.
See? Told you it was a slow one.
In other news from around the Net today, Roger Ebert has written an editorial for Newsweek on his (*ahem*) lack of enthusiasm for 3D. I'm of more mixed feelings on the matter, but he does make some interesting points.
Afternoon, folks! So I had an interesting opportunity last night. Director James Cameron and a group of planetary scientists from Caltech/JPL held a public panel discussion, called Is Pandora Possible?, in Pasadena on the Caltech campus (an event sponsored by Fox Home Video obviously to promote the DVD and BD release of Avatar). Now, normally I'm not big on these kind of promotional events, no matter who's involved. But the science geek appeal was just to strong for me to resist here, so I was happy to attend. Any excuse to visit Caltech or JPL is okay by me.
Joining Cameron were Dr. Robert Hurt (visualization scientists for NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope), Dr. Jared Ledbetter (environmental microbiologist), Dr. John Grotzinger (planetary geologist and Opportunity Mars rover team member) and Dr. Jess Adkins (oceanographer). The discussion was geared more towards the public on hand, and there was predictably a bit of a "gee whiz" aspect to the conversation early on as the scientists talked about how cool they thought Cameron's creation was, but when they got into some actual science it was pretty fascinating - the kind of thing you long for in a good audio commentary track, which obviously isn't on this version of the Blu-ray.
But among the interesting bits of "creative science" that Cameron conjured for the film and revealed on the panel are these little tidbits: 1) Pandora orbits a gas giant planet called Polyphemus in the Alpha Centurai A/B star system, just 4.5 light years away - the closest star to Earth. 2) There's no hyperspace or warp drive - it takes Earth ships about 5 years to travel to Pandora at 75% the speed of light, requiring much of the crew to be frozen for the journey. 3) The ships involved use laser energy beamed
from Earth into a light sail on the ship for outbound propulsion, and a form of anti-matter fueled fusion engine to slow down for arrival. 4) "Unobtanium" is a room temperature superconductor not found on the Earth, so it's incredibly valuable to Earth's energy economy (power generation and transmission, etc). 5) Pandora has incredibly strong magnetic fields, and the floating mountains have a high "Unobtanium" composition, thus allowing them to be levitated off the surface. 6) Most animal life forms on Pandora have six limbs, except for the higher primate forms like the Na'vi, which have just four. 7) There is a whole different phyla of life on Pandora that is part plant and part animal... etc, etc. When each piece of information was revealed (and illustrated by clips from the Blu-ray played for the audience), the scientists addressed what they thought was interesting about it, or how it might be based on the real science NASA has learned in the study of Earth and other planets in our own solar system in recent years.
Anyway, as I said, this discussion was EXACTLY the kind of thing I think many of us be interested in seeing on an eventual special edition version of this film. (Some of this sort of background information is now available only on the film's promotional website.) One would hope that the November release will be heavy with it. In any case, here's a couple of photos that Sarah took last night that we thought you might enjoy...
In announcement news today, Warner Home Video has set Batman: Under the Red Hood for release on DVD, DVD Special Edition and Blu-ray on 7/27 (SRP $19.98, $24.98 and $29.99). The special editions (DVD and BD) will include 2 featurettes (Robin's Requiem: The Tale of Jason Todd and Robin: The Story of Dick Grayson), 2 bonus episodes of Batman: The Animated Series - Season 1 and the DC Showcase: Jonah Hex animated short.
And in other news, there's word at Home Media that the DEG has just launched a new 3D promotion group and also an event in June to tackle 3D issues and get the word out to consumers. More here.
(LATE UPDATE - 4/27/10 - 3:15 PM PDT)
This is just a quick update with word from Warner Home Video that their DVD releases of Ben-Hur and Citizen Kane are about to go on moratorium, meaning they'll no longer be available in stores. Kane stops selling on 5/10, followed by Ben-Hur on 7/12. That's the bad news. The good news is that WHV has officially announced that both films will return in late 2011 to celebrate "a confluence of events: anniversaries, stunning remasterings, and spectacular new Blu-ray debuts." Both films are currently undergoing comprehensive restorations, and much new content is being created for their 2011 re-issues on both DVD and Blu-ray. Ben-Hur in particular is set to receive Ultimate Collector's Edition treatment. Make your plans accordingly. (Note that if you can't wait, and want to purchase the current DVD releases before they're gone, you can find them here and here on Amazon at a good price - Ben-Hur in particular is a whopping 60% off at the moment.)
Okay, folks... we've got a couple interesting things for you today.
First, though 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 Amazon after clicking through to them from any of our links goes to help support our work here at The Bits, and in these tough economic times, we surely do appreciate it.
All right... on to the news: It's come to our attention that a number of people are having playback problems with Fox's Avatar Blu-ray+DVD set. Specifically, the Blu-ray itself will not load, takes a long time to load, or has major functionality problems if it does load. Our sources are telling us that the reason is all about BD-Plus DRM (Digital Rights Management). Avatar uses the newest, latest version of BD-Plus, and not all players are fully compatible with it without firmware updates. I have the Oppo BDP-83 (with the latest firmware update) and it works fine. But for many models, you need to do a firmware update. Most major manufacturers issues a firmware update for this exact title in the last couple weeks before its release, but obviously not all consumers have run the update yet. (This can be done either online via your BD-Live connection, or you can download the firmware
update from your manufacturer's website and burn it to a CD-R... OR you can get an update disc directly from the manufacturer's customer service department.)
Speaking of Avatar, our old friend Bob Morris e-mailed us to say that the Blu-ray has a bit of a hidden feature. It's not really an Easter egg per se, but if you wait a few moments after the credits finish rolling at the end of the film, you'll get to see THX's fairly recent Amazing Life logo trailer (also viewable here), the style of which fits nicely with the theme of Avatar. So just don't hit stop when the final credit rolls away, and you'll see it after a moment. It's pretty gorgeous. Thanks Bob!
In announcement news today, Universal has officially set Green Zone for release on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 6/29. Both versions will include audio commentary with Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass, deleted scenes, 2 featurettes (Matt Damon: Ready for Action and Inside the Green Zone) and a Digital Copy. The Blu-ray will add a whole range of BD-Java and BD-Live features, including Pocket BLU, social Blu and U-Control features like a video version of the commentary and a Picture-in-Picture viewing mode.
And Warner Home Video has set Justice League: The Complete Series for release on DVD on 5/25 (SRP $99.98). [Editors's Note: It appears that this is simply a re-issue of the existing DVD set, not a new edition.]
Also today, we've learned (from Disney's Movie Rewards Facebook page) that the long-awaited Fantasia Blu-ray Disc finally has a street date: December 7th. Presumably, Fantasia 2000 comes out that same day.
Also, the official Mark Knopfler website has posted news that Dire Straits' Alchemy is coming to DVD and Blu-ray on 5/10. Looks like there's a lot of great content added, so do check out the report at this link.
And Fangoria is reporting that our friends over at Synapse will be releasing a trio of old Hammer horror classics on DVD (and quite possibly Blu-ray) this Fall. Included will be Twins of Evil, Hands of the Ripper and Vampire Circus. Synapse will apparently also be releasing the 13-episode The Hammer House of Horror TV series on disc. Click here for more. (Registration required - thanks to Bits reader J.B. for the heads-up.)
Here's a look at the cover art for Universal's Green Zone (both formats), along with Sony's Youth in Revolt Blu-ray (6/15)...
Afternoon, everyone! Hope you all enjoyed your weekend. I certainly did...
Sarah and I, joined by our good Dr. Jahnke and his lovely wife Meegan, had the rare pleasure of attending last night's TCM Festival closing night event at the Chinese Theater up in Hollywood - none other than the North American debut screening of the newly-restored Metropolis, with a new musical score performed live by the Alloy Orchestra! Now... before I continue, here's Kino's official web page for the film (DVD/BD release coming in November - where you'll find clips, information on the restoration and more), along with the film's re-issue trailer (click play below and select the best resolution) and a link to the Alloy Orchestra's own website...
Let me just say that the new restoration has absolutely exceeded all my expectations. The newly-restored footage encompasses about 25 minutes of added material in all - individual shots and entire scenes - found throughout the film's running time. (Apparently, a few minutes remain "lost" because one scene on the 16mm print recovered recently in Buenos Ares was simply beyond restoration, and a tiny bit of its original footage was cut by Argentinean censors back in 1927.) The quality of the new material is a bit rough, and because it was in 16mm format, the aspect and image area isn't quite the same as the previously restored footage, so there are occasional black bars around the edges of the frame to retain the proper scale. Nevertheless, the digital restoration has rendered this footage entirely watchable, and its impact on the overall story is immense. First, the recovered print allowed the restoration
team to properly edit the film to match its original cut - the previous edit was assembled according to the best available notes (and the original script) and some of it was conjecture. Next, what you realize when watching the film with this new footage, is that the editing was extraordinary for the time. Few other films of the era use quite the same aggressive pace of cutting, and this really enhances the dramatic experience. Finally, you're actually getting to see HUGE portions of the story that had previously only been told with descriptive title cards. This is because there are key scenes for which only a few shots were previously available to the restoration team. Without the ability to reconstruct the complete scene visually, many of these scenes were simply cut and replaced with descriptive text cards for the 2002 DVD. So what's been added? More of the Yoshiwara nightclub sequences are now available. The character of The Thin Man becomes a much greater and more menacing presence in the new cut - not only tracking down Josaphat and 11811, but also appearing as a monk to Freder and revealing a Bible image of the Seven Deadly Sins that is visually identical to Mel-Maria's frenetic dance. In the previous cut, you'd see title cards when the workers storm the M-Machine, when Freder and Josaphat break through the bars of the air shaft to free the children, when Rotwang kneels before his monument to the real Hel, when the worker mob finds and chases Maria, etc - now you get to see all of that. The result is that you FEEL the tension build - the film experience is much more dramatic and gripping now. (A complete list of newly restored shots and scenes is available here in PDF form on the Kino website.) As was the case with the original King Kong, film audiences back in 1927 must have just been completely freaked out by Fritz Lang's Metropolis. It's still a pretty extraordinary experience today, some 83 years later, and with this new restoration that's more true now than ever.
I also can't stress more highly how cool it was to have the Boston-based Alloy Orchestra on hand to perform a score for the film. I say "a" score rather than "the" score, because Alloy performed their own new composition, not the original Gottfried Huppertz music. But their score is just absolutely thrilling - pounding drums, accordion, clarinet and a whole variety of metallic-based percussion. (You can hear parts of it here on the WBUR website, along with a very recent radio interview with the Orchestra as they prepared for the TCM Festival performance - click LISTEN NOW at the top of the page.) It's so good, in fact, that I ABSOLUTELY DEMAND that Kino include the Alloy score as an optional audio track on the November DVD and Blu-ray release! Yes, it's that good. (If you agree, let Kino know on their Facebook site for the film.) It really draws you into the tension and action. I got chills down my spine on more than one occasion, and the Orchestra received a huge and well-deserved standing ovation from the packed Chinese Theater audience when the performance was over. What a extraordinarily cool thing to experience live! I feel very lucky to have had the chance to see this screening. This was a historic event, and it's certainly going to rank as one of the highlights of my lifetime of film experiences.
By the way, TCM host Robert Osborne also confirmed (during his introduction to the screening last night) that this year's first-ever TCM Film Festival was highly successful, and WILL return again next year to Hollywood. Additional details will be announced in the coming weeks and months, I'm sure.
One last Metropolis note: As I mentioned, our very own Dr. Jahnke was also in attendance last night, and he's posted his own thoughts on the screening in a new installment of Jahnke's Electric Theatre today, so do check it out!
In announcement news today, Sony has set Jason and the Argonauts for release on Blu-ray Disc on 7/6 (SRP $24.95). Extras will include The Harryhausen Legacy featurette and a new Harryhausen interview by director John Landis.
Sony has also set The Last Station for DVD and Blu-ray release on 6/22 (SRP $27.96 and $34.95). This is the recent film about the last days of Russian author Leo Tolstoy. Extras will include audio commentary with Christopher Plummer and Helen Mirren, a second commentary with director Michael Hoffman, deleted scenes, The Missed Station Outakes, A Tribute to Christopher Plummer and the usual movieIQ+sync and BD-Live features.
And Sony has announced the DVD release of the 5-disc Film Noir: Collector's Choice - Collection Two set (SRP $59.95) as well, which will include Human Desire, Pushover, Nightfall, The Brothers Rico and the 1958 version of City of Fear.
Meanwhile, Anchor Bay has set the DVD and Blu-ray release of the recent remake of The Crazies for 6/29 (SRP $29.98 and $39.98). Looks like the disc is going to be pretty loaded: You'll get audio commentary with director Breck Eisner, 5 featurettes (Behind the Scenes with Director Breck Eisner, Paranormal Pandemics, The George A. Romero Template, Make-up Mastermind: Rob Hall in Action and Visual Effects in Motion), 2 episodes of The Crazies Motion Comic, trailers and TV spots, an Easter egg, a gallery of behind-the-scenes photos and the film's screenplay and storyboards.
Finally, The Weinstein Company (likely via Vivendi) is FINALLY bringing Fanboys to Blu-ray Disc here in the States on 7/27 (SRP $19.97). It's available for preorder on Amazon.com now. of course, the title has been available on BD for months already as a Canadian import. But there it is.
And in other news today, Avatar continues to sell explosively on both DVD and Blu-ray. There are official press releases today proclaiming the title the biggest seller on Blu-ray of all time, etc. I wouldn't read too much into all the hype, but I suppose it will continue to drive BD format sales overall, which is a good thing. Even if there weren't already on-the-record comments from both Fox and director James Cameron to that effect, I think you could safely assume this means the title will be "re-dipped" multiple times on both formats, and that Avatar 2 is already well on the way. More here at Home Media.
Speaking of Avatar, our friends at The Home Theatre Forum are holding a live chat with producer Jon Landau on Tuesday night (tomorrow). Click here for the details.
Finally this afternoon, our readers have begun reporting that there's a new problem with The Lord of the Rings Trilogy on Blu-ray. (Check out our Friday interview with Michael Pellerin on this set here.) Apparently, select new copies of the set now arriving on store shelves only include 6 discs (the 3 Blu-rays and 3 DVD special feature discs) - no Digital Copies. We suspect that the Digital Copies were intended as a "limited time only" thing, except that the packaging still claims the Digital Copies are in the box. It looks as if you can identify the affected copies of the set by the fact that the packaging is thinner. If you have one of these new sets and you want the Digital Copy versions, either try to exchange it with the retailer or contact WHV Customer Service here.
Guess that's enough for one day! Don't forget, new episodes of Chuck return to NBC tonight! Stay tuned...
Online discussion about Warner's recent Blu-ray release of The Lord of the Rings films has been pretty active in the last couple of weeks. So we wanted to try to find out a bit more about the release - what work was done on the new BD A/V presentations, what the potential future is for the trilogy on the format, etc. So we turned to Michael Pellerin, the original special edition producer of the previous 2 and 4-disc DVD releases of the films. We've known Michael for many years now, and he's been kind enough to write up a few words for our readers on the subject. So we hope you find them interesting.
And now... I'm making it my personal mission this weekend to RELAX. Recharge the batteries, so to speak. Something I don't do often enough.
In the meantime, I bid you all a delightful weekend! Stay tuned...
Afternoon, folks! Well... if you're an NFL Football fan, today is all about tonight's 75th annual NFL Draft in 3D! Okay, I'm kidding about the 3D, but you know what I mean. Meanwhile, if you're a movie or Blu-ray fan, today is all about Fox's special Earth Day release of James Cameron's Avatar on DVD and Blu-ray in 3D! Okay... not so much with the 3D here either. But again, you know what I mean. It's a big deal, and it's going to sell millions of copies on disc in good old-fashioned 2D. And then it's going to sell millions more in special edition 2D later this year (reportedly November). And it'll sell fairly well a third time (I suspect) in a few years on Blu-ray 3D too.
Meanwhile, 2D is the thing today, so that's what we get for the time being. And since Fox was a little earlier than expected with review product this time, I'm pleased to offer you my more-in-depth-than-I-expected review of James Cameron's Avatar on 2D Blu-ray+DVD. The crib notes version is that it looks very, very good, and sounds damn near perfect. Is it worth the money for a movie-only title? That depends on you. Read on, and I hope you enjoy it... or at least find it mildly enlightening.
Speaking of Avatar, the disc includes a $25 rebate offer for those of you who buy the Blu-ray with a Panasonic Blu-ray player or home entertainment system. The coupon is right in the package. Home Media has more details.
And here's a little something to get yourself into the spirit of the day: Photos from Fox's Avatar special "tree planting" event this morning, with James Cameron himself and star Sigourney Weaver, up at the 20th Century Fox lot in L.A. (courtesy of Fox and Business Wire)...
As far as I know, this is just your garden variety tree - no "Flux" field involved. But green as can be, so there you go!
Back tomorrow. Stay tuned...
(LATE UPDATE - 4/21/10 - 1:30 PM PDT)
Okay, I've got a couple of additional things for you guys this afternoon...
First... some of you may be wondering, whatever happened to the DVD release of Richard Linklater's Me and Orson Welles? The film appeared in theatres in November in limited release, but has since dropped off the radar. We've done a little bit of digging, and have confirmed with the studio that New Line (and thus Warner Home Video) has the U.S. video release rights, and will be handling the eventual DVD release. There's no official announcement yet, but we expect one in the coming weeks, so we'll post more details when we have them.
Second today, a number of you have been asking why the major Hollywood studios seem to be dragging their feet with regard to releasing more catalog titles on Blu-ray Disc - particularly deeper catalog titles and older films. The usual questions are: Why isn't _____ on Blu-ray? Or, why is _____ Blu-ray movie-only? Or we're often asked, why aren't the classic Universal Monsters titles coming? Why isn't Escape from New York coming? Where are the rest of the Bond titles, etc? It seems that every reader of The Bits has a favorite catalog title they want on Blu-ray that's as yet MIA on the format - even many well-loved classics. And even when they do appear on Blu-ray, many of them are decidedly lackluster or lacking in extras. Some are essentially movie-only - a major peeve of movie collectors. A couple of studios are still being fairly aggressive with their catalog titles. Warner has notably been very good about releasing double feature versions of catalog titles that might not do well by themselves on Blu-ray. Universal seems to be starting to do a little more (even though many titles they released on HD-DVD are still missing on BD). But when you look at the catalog release slate so far in 2010, other than some very nice highlights - usually big marquee titles - when you start talking about deeper catalog, the offerings really decline steeply.
We've been asking around at the studios, and while none seem to really want to go on the record on the issue, what we've essentially been told is that catalog titles just aren't selling very well right now - not on DVD or Blu-ray. Even digital download sales have tapered off in the last year. So the studios are struggling to justify the higher spending required to really properly remaster some of these titles for high-definition, and to create new bonus content... or even port over everything from the DVD. Of course, this introduces a bit of a chicken/egg problem: The studios are leery of spending too much money to really add value and new extras on BD catalog titles, because of lackluster sales. But consumers, on the other hand, aren't buying them BECAUSE they really don't have much in the way of extras. On top of this, it seems that nearly every catalog Blu-ray that DOES come out gets sharply criticized on enthusiast forums - sometimes for good reason, but often unjustly because of unrealistic expectations and a lack of understanding about the nature of older film stocks and the limits of remastering - for having an HD transfer that disappoints. (Actually, the usual tone is more like: "This disc sucks!! ______ is SCREWING US AGAIN!!) This has happened even in cases when the studio HAS actually spent a lot of money to remaster the film in question. They're getting slammed no matter what they do, so in many cases they're simply choosing, for the time being, NOT to release much-loved catalog titles that they feel will receive too much criticism no matter how remastered. The hope is that as the recession gradually wanes, consumer spending on catalog titles will improve and then the studios will get a bit more aggressive again.
Obviously, there are exceptions: Fox has the elaborate Alien Anthology box set coming later this year. DreamWorks (via Paramount) is about to release Saving Private Ryan. And Warner is soon to bow Dr. Zhivago and other classics on Blu-ray. But again, these are key titles. In general, the studios tell me, it's easier for them to justify spending a little more money on fewer but more A-list/marquee catalog titles, than it is to really take a risk on a larger number of B and C-list titles that are more likely to draw enthusiasts' fire.
On the other hand, consumers ARE entirely justified in complaining about another studio practice with regard to their catalog Blu-ray titles: Potential double-dipping. It was one thing when studios released the same film in 2, 3 or even 4 or more editions on DVD over the years, but the idea that they'd repeat the practice on Blu-ray too - which is marketed and priced as (and is intended to be) a premium product - has many film fans and avid disc buyers rightly incensed, especially in these tough economic times. But that's a whole other story...
In any case, what we have right now is just a difficult situation all around with regard to catalog Blu-rays - one that I think we all hope will improve soon. But a lot of you have been asking about this subject in recent weeks, so I've investigated a bit and I'm just telling you what I'm hearing privately from my studio sources.
(EARLY UPDATE - 4/21/10 - 11 AM PDT)
Morning, folks! Okay... we've got some more announcement news for you today...
Warner Home Video has officially set National Lampoon's Vacation, National Lampoon's European Vacation and Peter Bogdanovich's What's Up Doc? for Blu-ray Disc release on 8/10 (SRP $24.98 each). Vacation will include audio commentary with Chevy Chase, director Harold Ramis and others, along with a Family Truckster featurette gallery. European Vacation will include commentary by Chase. What's Up Doc? will include scene-specific commentary by Barbra Streisand, feature-length commentary by Bogdanovich and a vintage featurette. Here's the cover art...
Meanwhile, Lionsgate has set Sesame Street: 20 Years and Still Counting and Caught in the Crossfire for DVD release on 7/13.
Musician Johnny Legend has announced the Blu-ray release of James Landis' The Sadist (SRP $29.95). The disc is now available complete with a bonus DVD disc of extras.
Also, We've mentioned these before, but Disney has set Cougar Town: The Complete First Season for DVD release on 8/17 (SRP $39.99), along with Ugly Betty: The Complete Fourth Season that same day (SRP also $39.99). Lost: The Complete Collection streets on DVD and Blu-ray on 8/24 (SRP $229.99 and $279.99), along with Lost: The Final Season also on both formats (SRP $59.99 and $79.99). Brothers and Sisters: The Complete Fourth Season for DVD release on 8/31 (SRP $45.99). Grey's Anatomy: The Complete Sixth Season is expected to arrive on DVD on 9/14 (SRP $59.99), followed by Castle: The Complete Second Season and Desperate Housewives: The Complete Sixth Season on DVD on 9/21 (SRP $45.99 each).
Finally this morning, our good friend Alec Peters, who runs the outstanding PropWorx site, is now working with a fellow by the name of Dan Benton to kick off The Prop Blog.com - THE definitive source for movie and TV prop and costume news. Do check it out!
Don't forget, tomorrow is the big day. Yes... Earth Day. But as such, it's also Avatar Release Day! The biggest movie of all time hits DVD and Blu-ray Disc tomorrow. Now... Fox doesn't send out screener product before street date, so we're not going to get a look at the disc until probably Friday morning. But with a little luck, we should have a review of the disc up by Friday afternoon, for those of you who want our opinion prior to purchasing. Just wanted to give you the the heads-up. [Editor's Update: Scratch that! The disc is in hand now, so watch for our review Thursday afternoon.]
Also here at The Bits today, our good Dr. Jahnke has screwed in the bulb on a brand new Electric Theatre column, featuring his thoughts of Exit Through the Gift Shop and Kick-Ass, both now in theatres. And he turns in a new Tales from the Queue review of She's Having a Baby on DVD too. Enjoy!
Don't forget, we also have our weekly update of the Release Dates and Artwork section from our own Russell Hammond, featuring all the latest DVD and Blu-ray cover art and Amazon.com pre-order links. As always, a portion of ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING you order from the retailer after you click through to them through one of our links goes to help support our work here at The Bits and we really do appreciate it!
Still not done: We also have a new Giveaway running here at The Bits, offering each of you the chance to take home copies of Universal's It's Complicated on Blu-ray! Entries will be accepted until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, May 2nd. Click on the links to get started and good luck!
In release news today, Warner and the BBC have set Being Human: Season 1 for release on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 7/20, along with Look Around You: Season One and Desperate Romantics on DVD only that same day.
New Video has the documentaries William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe and Milton Glaser: To Inform and Delight coming out on DVD on 4/27. Also coming from them on 4/27 (but as an Amazon.com exclusive) is No Kidding! Me 2!! on DVD.
Infinity Entertainment Group has set The Real Story: Escape from Alcatraz for DVD release on 6/15, followed by Soul of a People: Writing America's Story on 6/29.
And on the music front, Eagle Rock Entertainment has a ton of live concert and performance releases coming on CD, DVD and Blu-ray, including Michael Bolton: Live at the Royal Albert Hall (DVD & BD) and Tracey Ullman: State of the Union - Season 2 (DVD) on 5/4, Tupac: Live at the House of Blues (BD) on 5/25, The Shadows: The Final Concert (BD) on 6/15, The Rolling Stones: Stones in Exile (DVD), Emerson, Lake & Palmer: Live at Montreux 1997 (BD), The Moody Blues: Live at the Isle of Wight Festival (BD) and This Is the Blues: Volumes 1 & 2 (CD) on 6/22, Black Sabbath: Classic Albums - Paranoid (DVD & BD) and The Doors: When You're Strange (DVD) on 6/29, Ringo Starr: The Anthology... So Far (CD) TBA in June, This Is the Blues: Volumes 3 & 4 (CD) and Jackson Browne: Going Home (DVD) on 7/20, Nils Lofgren: Rockpalast (DVD) TBA in July and finally Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers: Classic Albums - Damn the Torpedoes (DVD & BD) on 8/3.
Speaking of music, the folks at La La Land Records are cranking out TONS of great new soundtrack CD releases for vintage movies. Newly available on their website (as of today) are composer David Arnold's 2-CD Independence Day: Limited Edition and John Williams' The Poseidon Adventure. They've also recently released CD scores for Dragonslayer, Eraser, Dutch and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.
Also, our friends over at First Look Media will be releasing Tim Sullivan's 2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams on both DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 7/20. Available will be the 84-minuted rated edition and an 88-minute unrated edition. Extras will include the 2001 Maniacs: Behind the Screams "making-of" featurette, a 30-minute Shock 'n' Roll slide show (chronicling the day by day making of the film and accompanied by music from the soundtrack), and an audio commentary track with Tim and members of the cast and crew. By the way, Tim tells me there are no deleted scenes... because there actually ARE no deleted scenes - he used them all in creating the unrated version! Sounds pretty cool, so do check it out.
In other news this afternoon, those of you hoping to take advantage of Universal's DVD and Blu-ray Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series packaging exchange program have until 5/31 to do so. That's when it ends. So be sure to get yours while you still can. Just e-mail [email protected] to get started.
Elsewhere today, VBS.TV, the online video site for Vice Magazine, has a REALLY fascinating set of video reports up on a fascinating and rarely heard of genre in world film - the Russian "Parallel" film movement of the late 1970s and 1980s. One word of caution though - the VBS.TV site can occasionally feature some VERY graphic imagery, and we aren't responsible for any it. So if you click through, just be advised.
And while we're issuing warnings, Red Letter Media has recently posted Plinkett's review of Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones. All 9 parts and 90 minutes of it! Again... it's pretty funny. As usual, his film criticism is second to none. But again... if you're offended by Plinkett's whole misogyny/serial murderer shtick, you might want to steer clear. He plies it on pretty thick this time, but at least it does pay off in the end. So again, you've been advised.
Hey, WTF... seems like every time we post some link to another website, there's one person who gets offended by something there and fires off an angry e-mail. Whaddya gonna do?
Don't forget, there's a new episode of Glee tonight on Fox - watch it with your teens and they'll either love you for it... or suddenly decide that Glee is way uncool. One of those. Either way, you'll catch 'em off guard.
All right... have yerselves a darned good day, disc fans! Stay tuned...
Morning, folks... okay, we've got a few catalog and new release announcements to report today...
First up, Paramount has officially set Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island for DVD and Blu-ray Disc release on 6/8. The DVD appears to be essentially a movie-only release, while the Blu-ray will be a 2-disc set, including the film plus the Behind the Shutters and Into the Lighthouse documentaries.
Paramount has also announced The Lucy Show: The Official Second Season for DVD release on 7/13 (for CBS), followed by Jersey Shore: Season One Uncensored (for MTV) and Matlock: The Fifth Season (also for CBS) on DVD on 7/20.
Meanwhile, Warner Home Video has confirmed William Shakespeare's Hamlet for Blu-ray Disc release on 8/17 (SRP $34.99), directed by Kenneth Branagh. This ought to be a stunner, as it was shot in 65mm and the staging and production design is lavish. Extras will include audio commentary with Kenneth Branagh and Russell Jackson, an introduction by Branagh, the To Be on Camera: A History with Hamlet documentary, a 1996 vintage Cannes Film Festival promo and the film's theatrical trailer.
Sony has set The White Ribbon for release on DVD and Blu-ray on 6/29 (SLP $28.95 and $38.96). According to the studio's press release, the Blu-ray "will include four exclusive featurettes that focus on the making of the film, an interview with the director, the presentation of the film in Cannes and a piece on the career of Michael Haneke called My Life."
Also newly announced by Sony is Unthinkable, due on DVD and Blu-ray on 6/15 (SRP $24.96 and $30.95). Extras will include director's commentary, an alternate ending and movieIQ + sync.
And longtime Bits reader Lito Velasco has just completed co-producing a new definitive documentary on the Nightmare on Elm Street films, called Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy! It features "exclusive new interviews with cast and crew spanning all eight Elm Street films, as well as rare, never-before-seen photographs, storyboards, conceptual art, publicity materials, archival documents, and behind-the-scenes footage." It will arrive on DVD on 5/4, but you can pre-order it right now on the official website. Sound pretty cool! Lito also e-mailed to let us know that he and the other documentary filmmakers will be appearing in-person at Dark Delicacies (in Burbank, California) on 5/1, along with cast and crew members from the Nightmare series. You can find all the details on the appearance here.
In other news, there's been no additional commentary from Lucasfilm's Steve Sansweet about the Blu-ray release of the Star Wars films (which, as we reported Saturday, are likely due in October 2011). However, a bit of interesting information has come to light from Bits reader Jay W.: October 2011 is when the newly overhauled Star Tours (Star Wars-themed) ride is tentatively set to re-open at Disneyland. In addition, 2012 is the original film's 35th anniversary, so releasing all six films on Blu-ray in time for the holidays would be a great way to kick off the celebration.
Finally today, we've got a bit of cool news for you Zatoichi fans: Criterion has just apparently gotten the release rights to the rare 14th film in the series: Zatoichi's Pilgrimage! Now, it hasn't yet been announced for DVD release, but Criterion has made it available for FREE viewing on Hulu, along with many of the other films in the Zatoichi series! (Here's the actual Hulu link for the film.) I've got a bootleg DVD of this film, but here's hoping that Criterion releases it on DVD (along with anamorphic versions of the first two films in the series) in the months ahead.
Here's a look at the Blu-ray cover art for Paramount's Shutter Island and Warner's Hamlet, and the DVD art for Never Sleep Again...
Back with a little more later this afternoon. Stay tuned!
This is a rare Saturday post with some important breaking news: Lucasfilm's Steve Sansweet has reportedly confirmed, during a panel today at the C2E2 comic convention in Chicago, that the company is now working on a Blu-ray Disc box set of all six Star Wars films loaded with extras, for release "in the not too distant future." We're awaiting any kind of official statement from Lucasfilm - one MAY appear on Star Wars.com in the coming days. Nonetheless, MANY people who were in the panel began Tweeting reports of the news almost the moment the words left Sansweet's mouth. IGN has also reported the news with an actual quote from Sansweet: "We have been at work for a couple of years working on - I won't call it the Ultimate Set because we keep finding stuff - but, a very full set of all six movies on Blu-ray with lots of extra material. We're finding all kinds of scenes from dailies that have never been seen before. Beyond all of those things that you know about... there are some real treasures." There is no other official information at this time, but we'll post additional details when and if they come in. HOWEVER...
Consider this Rumor Mill-worthy, but our own industry sources have actually been checking in with us in recent weeks on this very subject. Our latest information is that Lucasfilm tentatively plans the official Blu-ray release to happen in October 2011. Now, we've been hearing reports like this on and off for years, and until now little has come of it. So we've been waiting to say something here on The Bits until we had a hint of more official confirmation. But now that Sansweet has begun talking about the release, we feel more comfortable reporting on the word from our sources. Plans could obviously change and again, even though Sansweet has hinted that it's coming, none of this constitutes an official announcement. But if current plans remain unchanged, our sources say you'll be enjoying The Force in 1080p next October.
Again, we'll post additional updates as they come in. Stay tuned...
Afternoon, folks! Thanks for all your e-mails about my Tombstone post yesterday. Sounds like there's a LOT of you who, like me, are fans of that film.
Also today, there's a couple new announcements to report...
Lionsgate has set the Charles Darwin biopic Creation, starring Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly, for DVD only release on 6/29.
New Video is releasing Joss Whedon's Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog web-series for release on Blu-ray on 5/25, with more than 90 minutes of extras. You'll get commentary with the cast and creators, the 42-minute Commentary! The Musical ("all new music where the cast and creators ignore the movie and sing about the writers' strike and each other"), behind-the-scenes featurettes, Easter eggs and more. Sounds pretty cool if you're a fan. SRP is just $19.95.
True Story films is releasing the Blood Into Wine documentary on DVD and Blu-ray on 9/4.
Finally, Disney has officially set the DVD and Blu-ray release of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland for 6/1. Available that day will be a 3-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy), a 1-Disc Blu-ray and a 1-Disc DVD (SRP $44.99, $39.99 and $29.99 respectively). The DVD will include 3 featurettes (Finding Alice, The Mad Hatter and Effecting Wonderland). The Blu-ray will add 9 more featurettes (The Futterwacken Dance, The Red Queen, Time-Lapse: Sculpting the Red Queen, The White Queen, Scoring Wonderland, Stunts of Wonderland, Making the Proper Size, Cakes of Wonderland and Tea Party Props) along with the usual BD-Live content and more.
The film, one should mention, is presented 2D... which is fine by us, as it was originally produced in 2D.
Don't forget that Fox's Avatar hits DVD and Blu-ray next Thursday (on Earth Day). We'll have a review copy on street date (or shortly thereafter) so we'll post our thoughts then. But we hear it's pretty great looking, the lack of 3D and extras aside.
Finally, for all you L.A. area film fans, the fine Spudic's Movie Empire video store up in Van Nuys is hosting a special DVD signing event tomorrow afternoon (4/17) with directors Joe Dante (Gremlins) and Mick Garris (Sleepwalkers). The event celebrates the DVD release of the extremely cool The Best of Trailers From Hell, Volume 1. The signing will take place from 1 to 3 PM. Spudic's Movie Empire is located at 5910 Van Nuys Blvd - see their website here. Tell 'em The Bits sent you!
We'll leave you with a little more new cover art. Here's Sony's The Road on Blu-ray (5/25) along with Disney's DVD and Blu-ray art for Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland...