Well... as you might expect the discussion today is all about Star Wars on Blu-ray. Predictably, a LOT of fans bemoan word that Lucasfilm is only including the special edition versions of the film, and not the theatrical cuts. It could easily be done via seamless branching, much like we're seeing on Fox's comprehensive Alien Anthology or as Sony did on their Close Encounters Blu-ray. It seems the sad reality is that creator George Lucas just doesn't want to include them. That's really a shame, and I'm sure Lucasfilm will be hearing an earful from fans. Still, as I said on Saturday, I am at least encouraged to finally see more of the vintage deleted material from the original films. Again, I just personally hope all the DVD color timing issues will be fixed (more in line with that of the the original Star Wars laserdisc box set) and that the Episode IV soundtrack issues will be fixed (the reversed score in the surrounds and the missing/dialed back trumpet fanfare when the X-Wings first dive to attack the Death Star). I guess we all have our nits to pick.
Speaking of deleted material, it's worth pondering at this point exactly what that deleted footage might be. There's little doubt we'll finally see the fully-digital Yoda in Episode I, and if I'm not mistaken an unfinished deleted scene from Episode II (in which group of Jedi led by Ki-Adi Mundi and Plo Koon attack the Droid Command Ship on Geonosis) appeared on Star Wars.com briefly. Maybe that will be included as well. From the original Star Wars, there's all that infamous deleted footage of Luke on Tatooine watching the space battle with binoculars (see image below), then telling his friends (in Anchorhead) about the battle and having a lengthy discussion about joining the Rebellion with Biggs. Plus there are shots of Han with a woman in the cantina in Mos Eisley. All of that appeared on the Star Wars: Behind the Magic CD-ROM, so it's reasonable to assume it could be on the Blu-rays. For Empire,
there's the infamous "Wampa attack" on the Rebel Base material, and there was an alternate Han/Leia scene at Cloud City in the Empire of Dreams documentary. And for Jedi, we've just seen the scene in which Vader talks to Luke via the Force and Luke finishes building his lightsaber. (The footage is linked in Saturday's post.) There's also a missing scene in which - having just freed Han and Leia from Jabba the Hutt - everyone returns to the Falcon and Luke's X-Wing on Tatooine in the middle of a sandstorm (again, see image below). There are many other rumored scenes as well, so it'll be VERY interesting to see how much of it we'll finally get to see on the Blu-rays, and just how finished/polished the scenes will be. For those interested in the topic, Wookieepedia has a list of these rumored scenes, and T'Bone has a pretty good page dedicated to known details about the cut scenes (with photos) as well.
Anyway, more about these Blu-rays will obviously be revealed in the months ahead, and I imagine the part excited/part irritated buzz will only continue to build over the next year, as we learn more about what will be included in the box set. By the way, Star Wars.com has a short video up today of Lucas and Jon Stewart from the Saturday main event (along with a full text play-by-play - LOVE that Stewart Trooper action figure!), along with clips from the whole Celebration V weekend. Looks like it was a lot of fun for the fans. Do check them out.
Following up on a title announced last week, we've got details for you on the extras you'll get on Disney's Toy Story 3 discs. The single-disc DVD ($29.99) will include the Day & Night short, an Epilogue and 6 featurettes (Toys!, Buzz Lightyear's Mission Logs: The Science of Adventure, Paths to Pixar: Editorial, Studio Stories: Cereal Bear, Studio Stories: Clean Start and A Toy's Eye View). The 2-disc Blu-ray (SRP $39.99) will add to this a Cine-Explore viewing mode with director Lee Unkrich and producer Darla Anderson, the Beyond the Toy Box alternate technical/story commentary, 9 more featurettes (The Gang's All Here, Beginnings: Setting a Story in Motion, the Bonnie's Playtime roundtable, Roundin' Up a Western Opening, Goodbye Andy, The Accidental Toymakers of Pixar, Life of a Shot, Making of Day & Night and Studio Stories: Where's Gordon?), plus a Toy Story Trivia Dash game. The Blu-ray will also include both 5.1 and 7.1 DTS-HD mixes. Finally, the 4-disc Blu-ray Combo Pack (SRP $45.99) will include all the DVD and Blu-ray extras, plus a Digital Copy of the film.
In other release news today, Lionsgate has set Let's Spend The Night Together for DVD release on 11/2, followed by Locked Down Presented by TapouT on DVD and Blu-ray on 11/9. Lionsgate will also be releasing The Legend of Bruce Lee on DVD on 9/21.
Our friends over at Kino have a bunch of cool stuff coming over the next few months. Videocracy ("a queasy-funny and unapologetically biased look at the televisual world that the Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, has created") is due on DVD on 9/7 (SRP $29.95). Louis Feuillade's Fantômas series will be released as a 3-disc DVD set on 9/21 (SRP $34.95), including Fantômas in the Shadow of the Guillotine, Juve vs. Fantômas, The Murderous Corpse, Fantômas vs. Fantômas and The False Magistrate, plus rare bonus films, audio commentary and more. Also due on 9/21 is a 5-disc The Films of Nikita Mikhalkov: Volume 1 DVD box set (SRP $79.95), including A Slave of Love (1976), Without Witness (1983), Five Evenings (1979), Oblomov (1980) and Burnt by the Sun (1994 - via special arrangement with Sony). And the documentary Nightmares in Red, White and Blue: The Evolution of the American Horror Film is due on DVD on 9/28 (SRP $29.95). In October, look for the KIMJONGILIA documentary on North Korea on 10/12, along with The Gates that same day (SRP $29.95 each). Theatre of War will follow on 10/19 (SRP $29.95), and Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin' About Him)? will round the line-up out on 10/26 (SRP $29.95 - the film will also run in limited release in theatres starting on 9/10).
Meanwhile, HBO is releasing In Treatment: The Complete Second Season on DVD on 10/12 (SRP $59.99).
Fox will be releasing the unaired Family Guy episode, Partial Terms of Endearment, on DVD on 9/28 in completely uncensored form (SRP $14.98). One wishes the South Park guys could do the same thing with their episode 300. The DVD will include 2 featurettes (The Seth and Alex Almost Live Comedy Show and Family Guy: Live and Uncensored Table Read), an animatic, 9 original songs composed for the series and a Digital Copy.
Speaking of Fox, the studio has also set How I Met Your Mother: Season 5 for 3-disc DVD release on 9/21 (SRP $39.98). You'll get all 24 episodes, along with bloopers, a gag reel, 3 featurettes (Making of Super Date, 100th Episode Behind the Scenes and Series Recap), a Wedding Bride Trailer and 3 music videos.
Disney has set Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam for DVD and Blu-ray release on 9/7.
Eagle Rock Entertainment has set Electric Light Orchestra Live: The Early Years for DVD release on 8/24 (SRP $14.98).
Universal will release 30 Rock: Season 4 on DVD on 9/21. Extras will include 2 extended episodes, feature commentaries, 2 behind-the-scenes featurettes (I Do I Do and The Moms Episode), an Ace of Cakes episode (in which they make a cake for use in a 30 Rock episode), the Tennis Night in America promo in its entirety, deleted scenes and a photo gallery.
Also, Warner is re-releasing the live action Scooby-Doo with Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed as a Blu-ray double-feature on 11/9 ($24.98), the same day as their Scooby-Doo Where are You! Complete Series DVD release.
Warner has also set Yogi Bear's All-Star Comedy Christmas Caper for DVD release on 12/7 (SRP $14.97).
Sony has announced the DVD release of Mrs. Miracle on 11/2.
And Anchor Bay has set the thriller Altitude for DVD and Blu-ray release on 10/26 (SRP $34.99). Extras will include audio commentary with director Kaare Andrews, 2 featurettes (Altitude: Behind the Scenes and Green Storm) and an original concepts gallery.
Here's a look at cover art for Universal's 30 Rock: Season 4 and Caprica: Season 1.0 (due 10/5) on DVD, along with Sony's The Karate Kid Blu-ray (2010 - due 10/5)...
Wait... was that a Star Wars reference? Does that mean...? Could it be...? You bet your asteroids, kids! Today at the Star Wars Celebration V convention in Orlando, the bearded one himself officially announced that the Star Wars films will be coming to Blu-ray Disc next year! No kidding! This comes on the heels of recent remarks by Lucasfilm fan relations guru Steve Sansweet that the Blu-rays would be coming in the "not too distant future." We figured that probably meant late next year, and sure enough that "not too distant future" is now officially set for Fall 2011. (Of course, all this WOULD happen on the ONE day I'm sitting at the beach out of contact with the world. Guess my midichlorian count's out of whack or something.)
Anyway, today's main event at the convention was an appearance by none other than Star Wars creator George Lucas, who was interviewed about the films by The Daily Show's Jon Stewart. And at the end of their Q&A, Lucas revealed the big news... with the help of actors Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher. See, here they are...
Lucasfilm issued an official press release moments later, and here's the full text for you...
"FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER, THE FORCE WILL BE WITH YOU ON BLU-RAY!
STAR WARS SAGA
Highly Anticipated Complete Star Wars™ Saga Readied for High Definition Blu-ray Debut
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (August 14, 2010) - Today at Star Wars Celebration V, Lucasfilm Ltd. and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment announced that the complete Star Wars Saga will come to Blu-ray Disc with a worldwide release in Fall 2011. The Star Wars Blu-ray Box Set will feature all six live-action Star Wars feature films utilizing the highest possible picture and audio presentation, along with extensive special features - including documentaries, vintage behind-the-scenes moments, interviews, retrospectives and never-before-seen footage from the Lucasfilm archives.
"Blu-ray is the absolute best way to experience Star Wars at home - in pristine high definition," said George Lucas, creator of the Star Wars Saga. "The films have never looked or sounded better."
As you'd expect, there's lots more reportage on the official Star Wars website, and also here at the L.A. Times and elsewhere. In fact, the news has predictably set portions of the Interwebs ablaze. Obviously, there's little official word as to what specifically will be included in the set other that what's hinted at in the text above. (Rest assured, as more information becomes available from official sources, we'll let you know.) However, Lucas did apparently confirm that the set WILL finally include significant deleted footage from the Original Trilogy, recently dusted off the shelves in the Lucasfilm Archives. Not only that, Lucas actually previewed one of the deleted scenes from Return of the Jedi for the many fans on hand. It was quickly uploaded to YouTube, so here it is for your viewing enjoyment. Enjoy it while it lasts...
Now, I don't care how jaded you are about Star Wars: If THAT doesn't get you longtime fans just a little bit excited, you should check your pulse.
Still, upon hearing this news, I'm sure lots of you have more questions. Like: Are the original theatrical versions going to be included too? Answer: Don't know. (But I would personally guess probably not.) [Late Update: Lucas to N.Y. Times - only SE versions in the box set. Don't kill the messenger.] Will all the previous DVD extras be included? Don't know. What other new content will there be? Don't know. In other words, not much else is officially known at the moment. Somehow, I suspect that while many of you are thrilled, a few of you older fans are probably already grumbling to yourselves. That vintage deleted footage is what interests me personally, and I would like to think the color timing for the films will finally be done right on Blu-ray... and maybe the Episode IV DVD audio issues will be fixed too. In any case, about the only thing we can be reasonably sure of here at The Bits is that, no matter what's in this Blu-ray box, some fans will not be satisfied.
I guess after all these years, my own feeling is that if you really want a TRULY ultimate Star Wars box set, here's what you need to do: Go find a big box, and fill it with every copy of the Star Wars films you already own on whatever format... along with all the related and spin-off DVD titles, all the bootlegs you may have (including those "unofficial" DVD copies of the Star Wars Holiday Special and the From Star Wars to Jedi: The Making of a Saga documentary - come on, I KNOW a lot of you guys have them because I certainly do), plus all the "making of" books, the soundtrack CDs, etc... then put the lid on the box, apply a Star Wars logo sticker on top and write the words "Ultimate Box Set" in Sharpie underneath. Voilà.
In any case, start warming up the old hyperdrive motivator... 'cause the Star Wars Blu-ray countdown has officially begun. T-minus 365-something days and counting...
As promised this morning, our own Dr. Adam Jahnke has turned in a new Blu-ray Disc review for his Bottom Shelf column - a look at Shout! Factory's new Death Race 2000 special edition in sparkly, fancy pants 1080p! We bet Roger Corman never imagined his library would look and sound so good at home one day. Enjoy!
In other news today, we hear tell that Disney and Pixar's Toy Story 3 is about to get officially announced for release on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 11/2. The announcement could come as early as today. So, we've decided to post the rest of the cover artwork we've gotten from retail sources: Here's a look at the DVD version (SRP $29.99), the 2-disc Blu-ray version (SRP $39.99) and the 2-disc Blu-ray+DVD+Digital Copy version (SRP $45.99 - We posted the cover yesterday as well, but here it is again for completeness sake.). All 3 are now available for pre-order on Amazon.com...
We'll post an update later this afternoon with all the specs and features if the studio's official press release happens to sizzle across the news wire today.
Also today, we've heard from a couple Canadian Gladiator BD fans who report that they tried calling the U.S. Paramount customer service number (888-889-9456) and were told they TOO could send their original Disc One to the U.S. address for exchange. So, to repeat: For U.S. AND CANADIAN consumers, mail Disc One of the old Blu-ray ONLY to...
c/o Deluxe Media Mgmt
PO Box 801464
Valencia, CA 91380-1464
Enclose your name, address and phone number. They'll send you back the new remastered Disc One in about 4 weeks. Hope that helps you readers North of the border.
Moving on, consider this Rumor Mill-worthy, but it comes from a top notch source. Our friend Anthony over at Trek Movie - while reporting on last weekend's big Star Trek convention in Las Vegas - learned from CBS Consumer Products VP John Van Citters that CBS is currently considering releasing Star Trek: The Next Generation on Blu-ray Disc. There are obviously major challenges as, while the show was shot on film, all the effects and post production was done on SD analog video. So (in our
opinion) in order to convert the series to HD and really do it right, all the original camera negatives would have to be scanned in HD resolution, and then all of the special effects and post production would have to be completely redone in HD via a similar CG upgrade process as was done with the remastered Star Trek: The Original Series. You'd basically have to rebuild each episode for HD. At least we HOPE that's what they'd do, because if they just simply digitally upconverted from 480i to 1080p, there's NOBODY who would want to buy that on Blu-ray. But rebuilding the show in HD is obviously a time consuming and expensive process. Nevertheless, Citters told the crowd at the Con, "It is being worked on and I expect it will happen, it is just a technical challenge." It's interesting this topic comes up again now: A couple months ago, we at The Bits began hearing new reports from our sources that a fresh round of tests and discussions on TNG HD was going on at CBS, but we certainly didn't expect that CBS would say anything in public about this yet. So I would say that there's a pretty good chance this is seriously going to happen, but don't start holding your breath just yet. Anyway, Anthony's original report is here.
In announcement news today, Carson Entertainment Group has revealed that they're going to be releasing a series of DVDs featuring classic episodes of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. They're also working with Respond2 Entertainment to release an elaborate Tonight: 4 Decades of The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson DVD box set featuring more than 50 classic episodes, along with never-before-seen interviews with actress Loni Anderson, comedian David Brenner and animal handler Jim Fowler. It's expected to sell for around $120. Street date is TBA. You can read more here at Home Media.
Speaking of Home Media, Chris Tribbey has also posted an interesting story on a new legal ruling on DRM copy protection that could have far-reaching implications for DVD and Blu-ray, as well as future digital distribution. Do check it out.
That's all for now. Stay tuned...
Okay... we've got a TON of announcement news for you today, so hang on tight...
First up today, we've been doing some digging, and have learned from official studio sources that the Machete trailer IS on the forthcoming Grindhouse: 2-Disc Collector's Edition Blu-ray set. As was the case with the previous DVD and Blu-ray, the trailer is actually PART of Planet Terror so it's there but just not listed in the special features. We've also confirmed that the films are the theatrical versions only. Before anyone starts petitions about this, it's simply a matter of disc space. Even though both discs in the set are full BD-50s, it was decided that including both versions of the films plus all the extras would have compromised the A/V quality. And the reality is, the extended cuts have already been released on DVD and Blu-ray in the past. Just think... there were those during the format war who swore up and down that no one would EVER need all the added space a 50GB disc can provide, much less 2 50GB discs (or even more, as is the case with Fox's upcoming Alien Anthology). Yeah, we knew that was B.S. right from the get go and I'd bet a lot of you did too. Anyway, special thanks to those well-placed Weinstein studio folk who helped us confirm this.
Now then, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has set The Experiment for release on DVD and Blu-ray on 9/21 (SRP $24.96 and $30.95).
Warner's having a big announcement week: They've just set Jonah Hex for release on DVD and Blu-ray Combo on 10/12 (SRP $28.98 and $35.99). Extras on the DVD will include deleted scenes. The Blu-ray will add 2 featurettes (The Inside Story of Jonah Hex and The Weird Western Tales of Jonah Hex), along with bonus DVD and Digital Copy versions.
Warner has also announced the DVD release of the Secret Origin: The Story of DC Comics documentary, narrated by Ryan Reynolds, which "takes viewers behind-the-scenes of the iconic company with unprecedented access to the Warner Bros. and DC Comics archives." The disc streets on 11/9 (SRP $24.98).
Warner has also set a DC Showcase Original Shorts Collection for release on DVD and Blu-ray on 11/9, which will include the previously released 10 to 12-minute animated shorts The Spectre, Jonah Hex and Green Arrow, along with the debut of Superman/Shazam! The Return of Black Adam (SRP $19.98 and $29.99). The DVD also includes an hour of additional extras, while the Blu-ray includes 2 1/2 hours of additional content.
Not done with Warner yet: The studio has set new versions of the Rankin/Bass classics The Year Without a Santa Claus and 'Twas the Night Before Christmas for release on 10/5. The Year Without a Santa Claus will be released on Blu-ray+DVD Combo (SRP $24.98), and will include the Rudolph's Shiny New Year and Nestor the Long-eared Christmas Donkey specials, as well as 2 documentaries (We are Santa's Elves and School of Stop Motion). Meanwhile, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas will arrive in a new DVD Deluxe Edition (SRP $19.97) and will include the Christmas: A Global Holiday animated comic.
And Warner has set Nip/Tuck: The Complete Series for DVD release on 11/2 (SRP $198.70). The 35-disc set will include all 100 episodes along with 11 featurettes, unaired scenes and gag reels - in short, all the features from the individual season DVDs.
Meanwhile, HBO (distributed by Warner) will release Sex and the City: The Complete Collection on DVD on 10/26 (SRP $249.99). This 20-disc set will include the ENTIRE TV series along with BOTH feature films, plus a new bonus disc containing 90 minutes of interviews with series creator Michael Patrick King and the series' writers. Packaging will be a white case featuring "a glimmering New York City skyline" along with a book of photos and liner notes.
This makes sense because Warner is also releasing Sex and the City 2 on DVD and Blu-ray Disc Combo on 10/26 (SRP $28.98 and $35.99). The DVD will include 2 featurettes (Revisiting the 80s and Sex and the City 2 Soundtrack: Behind-the-Scenes with Alicia Keys). The Blu-ray will add 4 more featurettes (So Much Can Happen in Two Years, Styling Sex and the City 2, Marry Me Liza! and The Men of Sex and the City), along with commentary on the film by director Michael Patrick King and bonus DVD and Digital Copy versions.
Paramount and CMT has set the Petty Blue documentary for DVD release on 9/21 (SRP $19.99). Narrated by Kevin Costner, it tells the definitive story of NASCAR driver Richard Petty and his legendary family.
On 10/26, Image Entertainment will release a 5-disc The Twilight Zone: Fan Favorites DVD tin set containing 19 classic Twilight Zone episodes (SRP $29.98). Among them will be Night of the Meek, The Odyssey of Flight 33, A Passage for Trumpet, The Invaders, Steel, Long Distance Call, Nothing in the Dark, A Game of Pool, I Sing the Body Electric, Time Enough at Last, Walking Distance, The Lonely, Nightmare at 20,000 Feet, Kick the Can, Probe 7 - Over and Out, Mr. Dingle the Strong, The Four of Us are Dying, Two and The Monsters are Due on Maple Street.
Image has also just officially announced the Blu-ray release on The Twilight Zone: Season Two on 11/16 (SRP $99.98). All 29 episodes will be included with uncompressed PCM audio. Most of the bonus features from the Season Two DVD release will carry over, including commentaries, vintage audio recollections, 22 isolated scores, sponsor billboards, Rod Serling promos and more. Newly-added for Blu-ray are 25 new audio commentaries by author Marc Scott Zicree with various historians and writers, interviews with actors Joseph Ruskin and H. M. Wynant, the Suspense episode Nightmare at Ground Zero written by Rod Serling, vintage audio interviews with director of photography George T. Clemens and makeup artist William Tuttle, and 15 radio dramas (featuring Daniel J. Travanti, Jim Caviezel, Jason Alexander, Ed Begley Jr., Fred Willard, Jane Seymour, Michael York, Chris McDonald, Henry Rollins, Stan Freberg and others). Sounds pretty great!
Any Bigfoot fans in the house? MDV Visual Entertainment has set Assault of the Sasquatch for DVD release on 10/19.
Fox will release The League: Season 1 on DVD and Blu-ray on 9/14 (SRP $29.99 and $34.99). Extras on both will include seamlessly-branched extended episodes, a blooper reel, deleted scenes, and 5 video clips/featurettes (Alt Nation, Mr. McGibblets Fun House and Dojo, Three Penis Wine Infomerical, Vaginal Hubris Extended and Birthday Song). The Blu-ray will add 2 more (Legalize Kevin's Pubic Smoke and Andre: Dress with Style, Win with Style) along with a "Bonus Feature from FX: Archer pilot episode."
Fox has also officially set The Last of the Mohicans for Blu-ray release on 10/5 (SRP $34.99). The disc will include the Director's Definitive Cut of the film (only - not theatrical cut) with optional commentary by Michael Mann, The Making of the Last of the Mohicans documentary and theatrical trailers.
Eagle Rock will release Jane's Addiction: Live Voodoo on DVD and Blu-ray on 8/31.
Lionsgate has set Highlander and Highlander 2 for Blu-ray Disc release on 11/2. From the press release, the "Highlander Blu-ray features the director's cut of the film and audio commentary with director Russell Mulcahy and producers Peter S. Davis and William N. Panzer, while the Highlander 2 disc adds enhanced and re-imagined visual effects, four featurettes, an alternate ending , the original Cannes film festival promotion reel, an alternate ending and the original theatrical trailer."
For you U.K. readers, Optinum Releasing will bow Roman Polanski's The Ghost on DVD and Blu-ray on 11/20.
Shout! Factory is releasing The Psycho Legacy: 2-Disc Special Edition on DVD on 10/19 (SRP $19.93). This is an all-new 90-minute documentary on the Psycho films by filmmaker Robert V. Galluzzo. The set also includes more than 3 hours of bonus material: extended interviews, video of a panel discussion with Psycho star Anthony Perkins, the Psycho on the Web featurette, a tour of the Bates Motel and more.
Universal has set the documentary Babies for DVD and Blu-ray release on 9/28.
And Universal and TCM Archives have just released The Further Adventures of the Kettles, featuring the final 2 films in the Ma and Pa Kettle series, The Kettles in the Ozarks (1956) and The Kettles on Old MacDonald’s Farm (1957). It contains rare extras (original movie posters, lobby cards, color publicity stills, behind-the-scenes photos and more) and is available on DVD exclusively from the TCM Vault Collection.
In other news today, Home Media has finally announced the winners of the Sixth Annual DVD Critics Awards, looking at the best DVD and Blu-ray titles of 2009. Warner's Wizard of Oz: 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition won Best Catalog Title, Best Blu-ray Disc and Title of the Year. Paramount's Star Trek took Best Theatrical Title and Universal's Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series won Best TV DVD. A lot of deserving titles clinched awards, so click here to see the full list and congrats to all the winners!
And finally today, we wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the passing over the weekend of actress Patricia Neal, who was 84. Neal appeared as the original Olivia Walton in the series' pilot film, A Homecoming, and shined in scores of other film and TV roles, including turns in Hud, The Fountainhead, The Day the Earth Stood Still and A Face in the Crowd. Neal was also the wife of writer writer Roald Dahl. You can read more here at the L.A. Times.
Here's cover art for Warner's Jonah Hex and Sex and the City 2, Image's Twilight Zone: Season Two, final art for Fox's The Last of the Mohicans, the inside art (the key art inside the plastic case sleeve - the previous art we posted was the set's outer slipcase) for Weinstein and Vivendi's Grindhouse: 2-Disc Collector's Edition... and finally a tease from retail sources of the cover art for Disney and Pixar's soon-to-be-announced Toy Story 3 Blu-ray (expected 11/2 - watch for the official announcement any day)...
Okay, since there was SO much news today, we'll post Dr. Jahnke's new Blu-ray review tomorrow. Stay tuned...
Afternoon, folks! Okay, I'm back from my visit with family, so thanks for your patience. As it happens, I traveled back to North Dakota for the weekend. I'd barely stepped off the plane when I saw signs announcing a big "Lobster and Lefse Festival" in Fargo this coming weekend. That certainly put a smile on my face. Of course, now safely back in Southern California, I'm sadly unable to attend, but if any of you local readers do, you must report back to me on the proceedings.
During my stay up in NoDak, I was pleased to once again lay eyes on the sight of a land so flat and sparsely populated that you can see all the way to the horizon, and even slightly over it - you can actually see the curve of the Earth. Patchwork that land with green, gold and yellow fields of soybeans, wheat and sunflowers, and build big mountains of cloud in the sky over it, and you've got one of the prettiest landscapes on the planet. While there, I also stood amid a vast field of spinning windmills - another pretty sight - and had the chance to tour the "Oscar Zero" ICBM launch facility at the "Oscar Zero" Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile State Historic Site. I even ate a piece of rhubarb pie and some pretty darned good walleye too. What a strange and wonderful place North Dakota is.
Anyway, here at the site today, 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 to them through our links goes to help support our work here at The Bits and we really appreciate it.
Now then... let's catch up on some of the release news from the last couple days...
The Weinstein Company and Vivendi Entertainment have officially announced the Blu-ray Disc release of the COMPLETE Grindhouse: 2-Disc Collector's Edition experience on 10/5 (SRP $39.95). The 2-disc Blu-ray set will include Planet Terror and Death Proof along with ALL of the previously released DVD and Blu-ray extras. All-new content for this set will include Robert Rodriguez's 10-Minute Cooking School, intermission cards, almost all of the "fake" trailers (including Don't, an extended version of Don't with commentary by director Edgar Wright, Thanksgiving, Werewolf Women of the S.S., and an extended version of the Werewolf Women of the S.S. trailer with commentary by director Rob Zombie), "making of" featurettes for Don't, Werewolf Women of the S.S. and Thanksgiving, a Don't storyboard comparison with commentary by Wright, a gallery of poster images and storyboards for Don't, 4 featurettes (Hot Rods of Death Proof, From Texas to Tennessee: The Look of Death Proof, New York Times Talks with Quentin Tarantino and Lynn Hirschberg and Comic Con 2006 Featuring the Directors and Cast of Grindhouse), plus Hobo with a Shotgun produced by Rob Cotterill and directed by Jason Eisner (Grindhouse trailer contest winners). Some of you may be wondering, where's the "fake" trailer for Machete? Rest assured, it'll be on the future DVD and Blu-ray release of the actual Machete feature film it inspired, on its way to theatres from 20th Century Fox on 9/3. [Editor's Note: There seems to be a bit of outrage, generated by this post, about the fact that the Machete trailer doesn't seem to be included in the set, to the effect that Weinstein must be ripping people off by not including it. It's not on the press release's list of extras, but I've asked for an official confirmation that it's not there. Here's the thing: If it's NOT there, it MAY be because Weinstein doesn't own the rights anymore. As I mentioned, Fox is releasing the Machete film, and they likely now own the property outright... INCLUDING the fake trailer. So don't necessarily assume Weinstein is cutting corners - it may have been out of their control. We'll try to find out and let you know.]
Meanwhile, HBO is releasing Deadwood: The Complete Series on Blu-ray on 11/23 (SRP $209.98). All of the extras from the previous full season DVD sets will be included, along with a DVD bonus disc that offers 4 additional featurettes not included in the individual season DVDs (The Meaning of Endings, The Real Deadwood: Out of the Ashes, a Cast/Creator Q&A Session at the Paley Center, a Deadwood 360 Tour and the Al Swearengen Audition Reel as performed by Titus Welliver). The bonus disc is the same one that was included with Deadwood: The Complete Series DVD set. I'm really glad to see this show finally hit Blu-ray, but I sure wish HBO would allow creator David Milch to shoot an actual finale for the series one of these days.
Universal has officially set Caprica: Season 1.0 for 4-disc DVD-only release on 10/5. Never fear, Blu-ray fans... Universal will almost certainly release a Complete Season 1 Blu-ray around Q2 next year, when the eventual Season 1.5 DVD arrives. (Syfy will start running the remaining Season 1.5 episodes starting in January - click here to see the preview from Comic-Con.) Meanwhile, extras on the 1.0 DVD will include all 10 episodes, Video Blogs, all the Syfy.com podcast commentaries, an Unrated Extended Edition of the pilot with commentary (by director Jeffrey Reiner and executive producers Ronald D. Moore and David Eick), commentary on Reins of a Waterfall (by Moore), commentary on Gravedancing (by executive producer Jane Espenson), 3 featurettes (The Caprica Dynasty, The Look of Caprica and Creating a World) and a Season 1.5 Sneak Peek.
Universal has also announced The Bing Crosby Collection, as part of their Universal Backlot Series, featuring 6 rare films (College Humor, We're Not Dressing, Here is My Heart, Mississippi, Sing You Sinners and Welcome Stranger). Look for it on DVD on 11/2.
Sony has set The Karate Kid (2010) for DVD and Blu-ray Disc release on 10/5. You'll be able to buy the film in DVD, a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack and Blu-ray only versions (SRP $28.96, $38.96 and $34.98 respectively). Extras on the DVD will include 2 featurettes (Chinese Lessons and Just for Kicks: The Making of The Karate Kid), along with the Never Say Never music video by Justin Bieber featuring Jaden Smith. To this, the Blu-ray will add the On Location: The Karate Kid Interactive Map of China, an alternate ending, Production Dairies hosted by Jackie Chan and a "play all" option also hosted by Chan. You'll also get movieIQ+sync and a PS3 wallpaper theme. And of course, the Blu-ray and combo versions will include Digital Copy.
Also newly announced for DVD and Blu-ray release on 9/28 by Sony is Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky (SRP $27.96 and $34.95).
In other news, Spelling Entertainment and Paramount have set Tales from the Darkside: The Final Season and a Tales from the Darkside: Complete Series pack for DVD release on 10/19, followed by Paramount's War of the Worlds: The Final Season and War of the Worlds: The Complete Series on DVD on 10/26.
Any Mad Max fans out there? Well, MGM and Fox are finally releasing the original 1979 classic on Blu-ray+DVD Combo Pack on 10/5 (SRP $24.99). Don't expect much in the way of extras, but it will be good at least to finally have an HD transfer of the film on disc. Were it any other Mel Gibson film, this would be galactically bad timing given recent... *ahem* news. But with Max Max, it's somehow oddly appropriate.
Speaking of MGM, we've already mentioned the RoboCop Trilogy coming to Blu-ray on 10/5 (SRP $59.99), but all 5 classic Rocky films are coming as individual Blu-ray+DVD Combo Packs on 10/5 as well (SRP $21.99 each). Fox and MGM are also re-releasing This Is Spinal Tap on Blu-ray on 10/19 (SRP $34.99) with a DVD bonus disc containing the "Stonehenge" Performance at the 2007 Live Earth concert and a National Geographic Stonehenge interview with Nigel Tufnel from Canal Plus. [Update: It's the exact same BD as before, which also included the bonus disc. Just FYI.]
Finally, Warner has set the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory for Blu-ray re-release on 11/16 (SRP $24.98) in a standard blue BD plastic case. (It had previously only been available in BD "book" packaging.) And from Warner's New Line label, look for Rush Hour on Blu-ray on 12/7 (SRP also $24.98). All the standard DVD extras should carry over.
Here's a look at the Blu-ray cover artwork for Criterion's The Darjeeling Limited (due 10/12), Vivendi's Grindhouse: 2-Disc Collector's Edition, MGM's Mad Max, New Line's Rush Hour, HBO's Deadwood: The Complete Series and DreamWorks' How to Train Your Dragon (due 10/15). A few are now available for pre-order on Amazon.com by clicking on the covers...
I'm still going through all the e-mails and press releases that came in while I was away, so rest assured there's lots more to come tomorrow morning. We'll have another Corman Blu-ray review from Dr. Jahnke too, so stay tuned!
In release news today, Warner has set Gossip Girl: The Complete Third Season for DVD only release on 8/24 (SRP $59.98). Extras will include 2 featurettes, unaired scenes, a gag reel and 2 exclusive music videos.
Universal has set another catalog title for Blu-ray release on 11/9: Tremors. I'm still hoping for Blues Brothers, 1941 and Lost in Translation among others, but it's good to see a few more titles trickling out. By the way, I wanted to take a moment here to say I think Universal did a nice job on the new HD transfer for The Breakfast Club on Blu-ray. It's not a film that's likely to blow anyone away in the A/V department, but the transfer looks nicely film-like and certainly better than I've ever seen it. Here's hoping it's the start of a trend.
In other release news, BrinkDVD has set The Zookeeper, starring Sam Neill, for DVD release on 10/19.
Eagle Rock has set Black Label Society: Doom Troopin' Live - The European Invasion and The Pixies: Acoustic & Electric Live for Blu-ray Disc release on 8/24 (SRP $19.98 for the former and $24.98 for the latter).
42 Productions is releasing Woodshop on DVD on 9/7, starring Jesse Ventura. No kidding.
Image Entertainment has set Kings of the Underground: The Dramatic Journey of UGK for DVD release on 8/10.
And Absurda, Industrial Entertainment and First Look Studios have set Werner Herzog's My Son, My Son What Have Ye Done for DVD release on 9/14 (SRP $24.98).
On another note this morning, a few of you have asked if there's going to be a Canadian exchange program for the Gladiator Blu-ray... and the answer is I have no idea, but I'll try to find out. If anyone hears of one in the meantime, please let me know.
Finally today, I wanted to let you all know that there will be no posts on Monday and Tuesday. And no, it's not because Madden NFL 11 comes out on Tuesday. (Though rest assured, that fact has not slipped past this Vikings fan's notice and my copy is already pre-ordered - no Favre jokes please!) No, as it happens, several of our staffers are taking off this weekend anyway for various fun reasons and activities, and I myself am going to be enjoying a nice relaxing visit with family for the next few days. Actually, Matt (alias Mr. MusicTAP) and I already kicked the weekend off early by enjoying a couple of beers at the O.C. Fair the other night - not a bad way to spend an evening by any stretch! Anyway, rest assured we'll be back here at The Bits on Wednesday to catch you up on all the latest news and more.
We'll leave you today with a look at the cover artwork for Universal's Tremors and Fox's Marmaduke (due 8/31) on Blu-ray, along with Absurda's My Son, My Son What Have Ye Done on DVD...
Have a great weekend and (to amuse you John Landis fans)... See You Next Wednesday!
All right... just quick update this morning, but we've still got a couple more fun things for you...
First, we're pleased to present the last part of our vintage 2003 Alien Quadrilogy coverage, featuring facts on the production, a look behind-the-scenes at a commentary recording session, a funny story and a brief interview with director Ridley Scott. So here's Part III. And be sure to watch for our update on the new Blu-ray in the next couple weeks.
Also this morning, we've also got another new Bottom Shelf column from Dr. Jahnke for you, featuring a review of yet another new Roger Corman's Cult Classics Blu-ray title from Shout! Factory: Joe Dante's Piranha. Enjoy!
(LATE UPDATE - 8/4/10 - 1 PM PDT)
We've got a quick update for you this afternoon...
A lot of readers who have successfully contacted the Gladiator BD exchange program have sent us the instructions they've been given. For U.S. consumers, mail Disc One of the old Blu-ray ONLY to...
c/o Deluxe Media Mgmt
PO Box 801464
Valencia, CA 91380-1464
Enclose your name, address and phone number. They'll send you back the new remastered Disc One in about 4 weeks. For U.K. consumers, mail Disc One of the old Blu-ray ONLY to...
Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd
80-110 New Oxford Street
Again, enclose your name, address and phone number. The remastered Disc One will be sent back in about 4 weeks. Thanks to the many readers who have sent this in.
Also today, we have a look at the final cover art for Warner's The Goonies: 25th Anniversary Edition on DVD and Blu-ray, both of which are now available for pre-order on Amazon.com...
As you can see, we've also included art for Fox's Family Guy: It's a Trap on Blu-ray (12/21).
Finally, special thanks to the Bits reader who sent in this photo of a retail sign announcing Toy Story 3 DVD and Blu-ray pre-orders with an 11/2 street date...
(EARLY UPDATE - 8/4/10 - 12:01 AM PDT)
Morning, folks! We've got another early post for you today to start the morning off right...
First, as expected we're pleased to offer you all Part II of our look Inside the Alien Quadrilogy - the rest of the original interview with DVD producer Charles de Lauzirika from our 2003 book. And we'll have Part III tomorrow, featuring facts on the production, a look behind-the-scenes at a commentary recording session, a funny story and a brief interview with director Ridley Scott. Enjoy!
Also here at The Bits today, our very own Dr. Adam Jahnke has turned in a new Bottom Shelf review of Shout! Factory's awesome new Galaxy of Terror Blu-ray Disc. More Corman reviews are on the way from the good Doctor, so do keep your eyes peeled for them.
In release news today, Universal Studios Home Entertainment has revealed that Get Him to the Greek will arrive on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 9/28. Three versions will be available - a single-disc DVD, a 2-disc DVD Collector's Edition and a 2-disc Blu-ray Collector's Edition. All will include both the original theatrical edition and a new unrated edition of the film. Extras on the 2-disc DVD and Blu-ray will include audio commentary (with director Nicholas Stoller, cast members Jonah Hill, Russell Brand, Rose Byrne, Elisabeth Moss and producer Rodney Rothman), a gag reel, deleted, extended and alternate scenes, 3 documentaries (Getting to Get Him to the Greek, Getting in Tune with the Greek, and The Making of African Child), 5 music videos (featuring Aldous Snow, Infant Sorrow and Jackie Q), musical performances from Infant Sorrow's triumphant 1999 Greek Theater Concert and 2009 Comeback Concert (plus a peek at their infamous World Tour and the 2002 London Concert), Line-O-Rama, a promo for Blind Medicine (Sarah Marshall's new TV series) and a Digital Copy. To this, the Blu-ray Disc will add additional extended scenes, musical performances from The Today Show and VH-1 Storytellers, a 15-song Karaoke option, cast auditions, the usual BD-Live and BD-Java options and streaming online viewing access (via BD-Live or smart phone) to 3 additional Universal comedies (Uncle Buck, Dazed and Confused, and Life).
Also newly announced by Fox for Blu-ray Disc release on 9/14 (SRP $24.99) is Brian Helgeland's The Order, starring Heath Ledger. The disc will feature deleted scenes with optional commentary, daily footage and the theatrical trailer.
Any Marmaduke fans out there? The film of course, not the infinitely more awesome vintage comic strip. Anyway, Fox has also set that film for DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo release on 8/31 (SRP $29.98 and $39.99). The DVD will include 2 featurettes (Cowabarka! Surfing Dogs and Canine Casting) along with deleted scenes. The Blu-ray will add Puppy Marmaduke and Kitty Carlos: Home Movies and a Marmaduke Mayhem! gag reel, plus a bonus DVD copy.
Meanwhile, Lionsgate has set Killers for DVD and Blu-ray release on 9/7, along with the DVD releases of Doc West, Jillian Michaels: Shred-It with Weights, Boy Meets World: The Complete Season One, The Complete Season Two and The Complete Season Three, Less Than Perfect: Season One and Fierce People. Lionsgate has also set both the fantastic Winter's Bone and a Santa Claus: The Movie 25th Anniversary Edition for DVD and Blu-ray release on 10/26.
Shout! Factory has set Marvel Knights Animation: Astonishing X-Men for DVD release on 9/28 (SRP $14.97).
And Paramount and Nickelodeon have set Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles Forever for DVD release on 8/24 (SRP $16.99).
Finally today, we're getting widespread reports from readers that the remastered Gladiator Blu-ray is starting to appear at Best Buy, Frys and other retail locations. Here's the thing: Paramount says that the new discs will have a yellow UPC, but they don't yet. The way people are identifying them now is two things: First, the top of the case for the new remastered Blu-ray doesn't have the typical white security sticker. Second, the cardboard sleeve on the back is missing the text "2-DISC SET" above the Paramount logo in the bottom right corner. (See image below) We want to caution you, WE CAN'T GUARANTEE that this is a 100% foolproof way to spot the new version. So as always, caveat emptor! But the overwhelming number of Bits readers reporting in to us today tell us that this is how they spotted the new BD, and upon buying the disc and getting it home, sure enough it's the new transfer. Here's the visual comparison of the new remastered Blu-ray slipcover (on the left in the image below) and the original one (on the right). This is the best information we can currently give you to help you spot the new disc...
Also... please try to keep in mind, The Bits doesn't run Paramount's customer service operation, so if they haven't responded to you yet, we can't explain to you why that is. All we can tell you is to keep trying. We also don't know yet if Amazon has the new version in stock, so you'll have to contact them to ask. If we DO hear that Amazon has started shipping the new version, we'll let you know.
All right, we'll leave you today with a look at the cover artwork for all three versions of Universal's Get Him to the Greek...
Morning, folks. We've got something special for you all to check out today - especially you Alien fans. We also have a bit of very cool catalog BD release news. Unfortunately, we have a bit of sad news to report this morning as well. But more on all that in a moment.
First... our own Russell Hammond has posted the weekly update of the Release Dates & Artwork Section, featuring all the latest DVD and Blu-ray cover art and Amazon.com pre-order links. As always, a portion of anything you purchase 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!
Now then... some of you may be aware that back in 2003, Doogan and I wrote a DVD book... The Digital Bits: Insider's Guide to DVD. An entire section of that book was devoted to an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at the making of Fox's Alien Quadrilogy DVD box set. As you should all be aware, Fox's is releasing the Alien Anthology on Blu-ray in October... and you'll be pleased to know that ALL of the content from the Quadrilogy is carrying over to the new BD box set. So for those of you who haven't read the book, we've decided to post the ENTIRE chapter on the making of the Alien Quadrilogy online here on The Bits for the very first time! We have an in-depth interview with set producer Charles de Lauzirika (filled with lots of detail about the production effort), a brief interview with director Ridley Scott, behind-the-scenes photos of the production and much more - you Alien fans will really enjoy it I think. We're going to post it in THREE parts, over the next three days, so you can all check it out. Do keep in mind this is the 2003 Alien Quadrilogy production... BUT, here's the even better news: We're already hard at work on a new follow-up interview with Lauzirika on all the updates he and his team have returned to do with Fox for the new Blu-ray set! We'll have that for you soon. In the meantime, here's the first part of our exclusive look Inside the Alien Quadrilogy. Enjoy!
All right... the big release news this morning is that Fox has finally announced, through the excellent official fan site, the long-awaited Blu-ray Disc release of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Due on 10/19 in a new 35th Anniversary Edition (SRP $34.99), the disc will include a 4K/2K HD transfer from the original camera negatives with 7.1 DTS-HD MA lossless audio. Extras on the new edition will include The Midnight Experience: The Late Night, Double Feature, Picture-in-Picture Show Vintage Callback Track (unrated) with Prop Box and Trivia Track, a Rocky-oke: Sing It! karaoke option, audio commentary by Richard O'Brien and Patricia Quinn, deleted musical scenes and outtakes, an "alternate credit" ending and "misprint" ending, the Rocky Horror Double Feature Video Show, a Time Warp music video (from the Beacon Theater in NYC), 3 documentary featurettes (Don't Dream It, Be It: The Search for the 35th Anniversary Shadowcast - Part I, An-tic-i-pation: The Search for the 35th Anniversary Shadowcast - Part II and Mick Rock: A Photographer), the Mick Rock's Picture Show gallery, a pressbook and poster gallery, and BD-Live Live Lookup. The disc will also come packaged in a 24-page book featuring Mick Rock's legendary photography from the production. You can read the official press release here. Thanks to RockyHorror.com webmaster David Shetterly for the heads-up!
Also today, following up on a release news item from yesterday, retail sources are telling us that Disney and Pixar's Toy Story 3 will hit DVD and Blu-ray on 11/2. Watch for the official announcement soon.
Finally, the sad news... the L.A. Times is reporting that screenwriter/script doctor Tom Mankiewicz has died. I actually met him on a couple of occasions in recent years connected to Warner's various DVD and Blu-ray releases of Richard Donner's Superman, which he helped rewrite. He was a fascinating character, and a true gentlemen. In addition to Superman, Mankiewicz also rewrote the script for the Bond film Diamonds Are Forever, and wrote original scripts for Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun. He was involved in the writing of some 20 film scripts in all, and directed the 1987 comedy Dragnet. He was just 68, and we'll certainly miss him.
Here's a look at the cover art for the Rocky Horror Picture Show: 35th Anniversary Edition on Blu-ray, along with Shout! Factory's StarCrash on both DVD and Blu-ray (due 9/14). All are now available for pre-order on Amazon.com by clicking on the covers...
Afternoon, folks! Hope you had a great weekend.
In title news today, retail sources are telling us that Disney and Pixar will soon announce the DVD and Blu-ray release of Toy Story 3. Word is there will be 5 versions - a single disc DVD, a 2-disc DVD Special Edition, a 2-disc Blu-ray, a 4-disc Blu-ray (which includes DVD and Digital Copy) and the 4-disc Blu-ray packed in a Gift Set. No word yet as to whether any of these will include Blu-ray 3D. Watch for official details in the next couple of weeks.
Speaking of Disney, the studio has officially announced the DVD and Blu-ray release of Prince of Persia on 9/14. Look for a single-disc DVD (SRP $29.99), a single-disc Blu-ray ($39.99) and a 3-disc Blu-ray Combo Pack ($49.99). The DVD will include the An Unseen World: Making Prince of Persia featurette. The single-disc Blu-ray will add a deleted scene. The Blu-ray Combo will further add the CineExplore: The Sands of Time interactive viewing option with more than 40 segments, along with the DVD and Digital Copy versions. Again, this CineExplore mode is ONLY available in the Blu-ray Combo Pack - not the single-disc Blu-ray.
Also today, Warner Home Video (for their New Line label) has announced the DVD and Blu-ray+DVD+Digital Copy Combo release of the newly-remade A Nightmare on Elm Street on 10/5 (SRP $28.98 and $35.99). Extras on both will include the Freddy Krueger Reborn featurette, a deleted scene and an alternate opening and ending. The Blu-ray will add an interactive Maniacal Movie Mode viewing option.
And Fox has set The League: The Complete Season One for DVD and Blu-ray release on 9/14.
In other news this afternoon, a couple of Bits readers over the weekend have reported to us that they've found the new remastered Gladiator Blu-ray in their local Best Buy stores. Interestingly, there was no yellow UPC, but as I originally reported (and as was the case on my copy), the new disc was missing the words "2-DISC SET" over the Paramount logo on the bottom right of the back of the package. Seeing this, two readers took a chance on it and purchased the disc. Upon getting it home and comparing it to their original copy, sure enough it was the new transfer which blew them away. So just be aware that it's starting to trickle out there. Thanks to Bits readers Frank C. and Jim L. for reporting in! One side note to this, I've personally enjoyed the new Gladiator Blu-ray transfer so much that on Friday night I ended up watching the ENTIRE extended edition of the film - something I couldn't make myself to do with the original Blu-ray. I think you guys are really going to appreciate it.
Here's something interesting... Disney has just sold Miramax Films to an investor group, Filmyard Holdings LLC, for $660 million. The rights to more than 700 films go with it. This should tell you something about what Hollywood feels is the value (or lack thereof) of catalog titles at the moment.
And in fact, there's a follow up story on Home Media today that suggests a "bottom" may be forming in the value of studio catalog holdings. We certainly hope so. I continue to believe that the studios need to start treating their Blu-ray catalog releases as more special than just movie-only, throwaway slate filler, in order to increase the consumer perceived value of their releases. And as in all things, quality is king. At the very least, my hope is that this perceived lack of catalog value will encourage the major studios to start licensing out more of their catalog films to smaller, boutique companies - like Criterion - that will really do something special with them on Blu-ray.
One other piece of industry news: Redbox is about to start renting Blu-ray titles for $1.50 in more than half of its rental kiosk machines. More here.
Here's a look at cover art for both versions of A Nightmare on Elm Street, along with Fox's Dollhouse: Season 2 on Blu-ray (due in stores on 10/12)...
Okay... we've got just a couple more updates for you to close out the week... but they're GOOD ones!
First, Shout! Factory has just unveiled the 2-disc DVD and Blu-ray Disc release of Roger Corman's StarCrash: Special Edition on 9/14 (SRP $19.93 and $26.97). Aspect ratio will be 1.85:1 with DTS-HA 5.1 audio on Blu-ray and Dolby Digital 5.1 on DVD. Extras will include interviews with writer/director Luigi Cozzi and actress Caroline Munro, 2 feature-length commentaries by historian Stephen Romano (one on the history and making of the film and its importance in 1970s fantastic cinema, and one with scene-by-scene trivia, anecdotes and critical analysis), 17 deleted and alternate scenes, 2 featurettes (StarCrash: The Music of John Barry and The Making of the Special Effects of StarCrash), a 20-minute behind-the-scenes footage reel with commentary, galleries of behind-the-scenes images, artwork, promotional artwork and fan art, the theatrical trailer (with commentaries by Eli Roth and filmmaker/editor Joe Dante), TV and radio spots, and the complete, original StarCrash screenplay (illustrated with original storyboards and early, full-color concept art).
Also coming soon to DVD only from Shout! Factory's Corman line are The Intruder on 9/21, and The Slumber Party Massacre Collection triple feature and The Evil/Twice Dead double feature on 10/5.
Next, here's some AWESOME news: Amazon.com is now taking pre-orders on a Blu-ray version of Sir David Lean's Bridge on the Kwai from Sony (SRP $34.95, but Amazon has it for just $24.49). There's no street date listed yet, but we'll post more details as they come in. [Editor's Note: I HAVE just confirmed with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment that Bridge on the River Kwai IS coming to Blu-ray Disc this year. Watch for an official announcement in the coming weeks.]
Meanwhile, Lionsgate has revealed their October release slate as follows: On 10/5, look for Blue Mountain State: Season One (DVD and Blu-ray), The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss: There is Nothing to Fear in Here, The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss: The Cat's Musical Tales and The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss: The Cat's Adventures. Following on 10/12 are Manson, My Name is Evil and Kung-Fu Master. And on 10/19, as we've reported, look for the Apocalypse Now: 2-Film Set and Apocalypse Now: Full Disclosure Edition (Blu-ray) along with Agora and The Hitmen Diaries: Charlie Valentine on DVD.
Also today, Screen Media has set The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond for DVD and Blu-ray release on 9/7 (SRP $24.98 and $29.98).
Finally, Warner and the BBC has set Being Human: Season Two for release on DVD and Blu-ray on 9/21.
Have a great weekend and we'll see you back here on Monday!
(LATE UPDATE - 7/29/10 - 2 PM PDT)
Couple of quick updates for you this afternoon...
First, for those of you trying to get a hold of Paramount's customer service to arrange your Gladiator BD swap, the phone number is still working but they're pretty overloaded so they would prefer people e-mail them (firstname.lastname@example.org) to setup the exchange.
Also today, Universal has set It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie for DVD release on 10/12.
Speaking of Universal, here's a look at the DVD cover art for their Smokey and the Bandit: The 7-Movie Outlaw Collection (due 10/12) and The Bionic Woman: Season 1 (10/19), along with DreamWorks' How to Train Your Dragon single-disc DVD (due Friday, 10/15)...
Also, an Alien update: We've just learned that when ordering the new Alien Anthology Blu-ray limited edition set on Foxconnect.com, if you type in the coupon code "COMIC" (a reference to Comic-Con), you'll get 10% off the total after tax. It's good only until 7/31/10. Thanks to Bits reader Steve K. for the heads-up! [UPDATE: We've learned that the "COMIC" or "QC12YT9EA" 10% off codes are already included in the $149.99 online ordering price, so no need to use them.]
Finally, any fans of director Guillermo del Toro out there? Yeah, us too. So how cool is this news? Nikki Finke's Deadline is reporting that he may be teaming with James Cameron to finally bring H.P. Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness to film for Universal! Word is Guillermo will direct with Cameron producing and the film will be shot in native 3D, a-la Avatar. Yeah, baby! Now THAT's the film we want to see him tackle if he can't do The Hobbit.
(EARLY UPDATE - 7/29/10 - 12:01 AM PDT)
So... is anyone out there interested in a look at one of the few booths on the show floor at Comic-Con that really got attendees buzzing? Well, here you go. The winner for "coolest interactive experience" was definitely 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment's promotional tribute to the upcoming Alien Anthology Blu-ray. Their booth featured 4 full-sized but appropriately claustrophobic cryosleep chambers, just like those seen at the beginning of Ridley Scott's original Alien. Attendees could line up (sometimes for hours) for a chance to be "frozen" in one of the pods, during which time you watched a short promotional video for the Blu-ray set, including a look
at the MU-TH-ER mode interface. When it was over and the lid lifted on your coffin, you walked away with a black Alien Anthology T-shirt with the slogan "Need a Hug?" on the front and the words Alien Anthology on the back. (When you turned the shirt inside out, you found a facehugger printed on the inside.) Fox reps were also passing out fan-like cardboard "facehuggers on a stick" promoting the set, and the booth featured a continual promo video for the release. Pretty damn cool.
Meanwhile, the two trailers everyone was buzzing about at the Con - trailers revealed exclusively at Comic-Con for the first time - were new previews for Tron: Legacy (coming to theatres on 12/17) and Zack Snyder's Sucker Punch (due in theatres next year). Click on the links to see them for yourself in full HD at YouTube - be sure to select 1080p for the best quality. I'm not sure quite what to make of Sucker Punch. I really want to love it, but it seems like a LOT of different genres and story threads to pack into one film. We'll see. Zack's a great guy and a talented filmmaker, so I have no doubt it will be jaw dropping. I really want him to score with this, his first totally original film. Fingers crossed it rocks.
Here's something else that was being talked about at Comic-Con, especially if you went to the Caprica panel... word is that Syfy is considering green-lighting a "Young Adama" themed Battlestar Galactica webseries called Blood & Chrome - 10 episodes of 10 minutes each. If successful, it would essentially be a backdoor pilot for a brand new, full-on Young Adama TV series, set during the First Cylon War. Now THAT I'd like to see! Maureen Ryan at the Chicago Tribune has more on this, including an update on the return of Caprica later this fall.
Also today, we've got a quick Apocalypse Now BD release update for those who missed this information when we first posted it yesterday afternoon: Both the 2-disc 2-Film Set and the 3-disc Full Disclosure Edition will feature DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. And as we noted yesterday, the Full Disclosure Edition will include the Hearts of Darkness documentary in full 1080p HD, framed at the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio (pillar-boxed).
Finally this morning, we're pleased to offer you a first look at the cover artwork for all 3 versions of Universal's Robin Hood, due on single-disc DVD, 2-disc DVD Special Edition and DVD/Blu-ray Combo on 9/21...
(LATE UPDATE - 7/28/10 - 2 PM PDT)
Okay... we've got one more news update for you today...
First, we're getting reports from readers that Paramount's customer service phone number (to arrange the Gladiator Blu-ray exchange) is no longer working. [UPDATE - there is a NEW toll-free number to call: 888-889-9456] We're checking with the studio to see what alternate arrangements they're making, but in the meantime, you should still be able to use this e-mail address (email@example.com) to set up the exchange. I'm guessing they just underestimated the number of people who would want to make the exchange. We're checking with them and as soon as they get things all ironed out we'll let you know. As we said the other day, when the BD copies with the new transfer arrive in stores they'll have a YELLOW UPC symbol on the box. If any of you hear from Amazon that they have the new copies in stock, please let us know so that we can inform all our readers.
Now then... IGN has confirmed our news from a few days ago, that Lionsgate's Apocalypse Now will be coming to Blu-ray Disc on 10/19. There will be two versions - a 3-disc Full Discolsure Edition (SRP $59.99) and a 2-disc Two Film Set (SRP $39.99). Both the 1979 Theatrical Cut and the Redux version will be included, and here's the great news: Both will presented at their original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, with DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. (We've confirmed this - it's no joke. None of this reframed 2.1 "Univisium" crap of previous home video releases. You'll get the CORRECT original theatrical aspect ratio.) More than 9 hours of bonus material will be available. Both versions will include A Conversation with Martin Sheen (interview by Francis Ford Coppola), An Interview with John Milius (interview by Francis Ford Coppola), the Complete Francis Ford Coppola interview with Roger Ebert at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival, the Monkey Sampan "lost scene", additional scenes, the "Destruction of the Kurtz Compound" end credits with audio commentary by Francis Ford Coppola, The Hollow Men (video of Marlon Brando reading T.S. Eliot's poem), 8 featurettes (The Birth of 5.1 Sound, A Million Feet of Film: The Editing of Apocalypse Now, The Music of Apocalypse Now, Heard Any Good Movies Lately? The Sound Design of Apocalypse Now, The Final Mix, Apocalypse Then and Now, The Color Palette of Apocalypse Now and PBR Streetgang), the Ghost Helicopter Flyover sound effects demonstration and The Synthesizer Soundtrack article by music synthesizer inventor Bob Moog. To this, the 3-disc Full Discolsure Edition will add a 48-page collectible printed booklet (with special note from Francis Ford Coppola, never-before-seen archives from the set, behind the scenes photos and more), a John Milius script excerpt with Francis Ford Coppola notes, a Storyboard Gallery, a Photo Gallery (with images from photographer Mary Ellen Mark), a Marketing Archive (of trailers, TV spots and promotional artwork)... AND the acclaimed Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse documentary (including optional audio commentary with Eleanor and Francis Ford Coppola). And here's something that hasn't been revealed anywhere yet but we've officially confirmed it here at The Bits: Hearts of Darkness, which was originally filmed in 16mm, has been scanned in HD and will be presented in full 1080p on Blu-ray! (Look for it to appear in its original 1.33 aspect ratio.) The Full Disclosure Edition will also be packaged in a keepsake case featuring archival poster images designed by Japanese artist Eiko Ishioka.
Here's a look at the cover artwork for both versions (I kind of wish the poster art were used for BOTH versions - I like the 2-disc artwork much better than the 3-disc). Both are now available for pre-order on Amazon.com by clicking on the covers...
As you can see, we've also included artwork for Sony's Tommy on Blu-ray Disc (due 9/7).
Speaking of Sony, the studio has announced Community: Season 1 for DVD release on 9/21, along with The Secret in Their Eyes on DVD and Blu-ray also on 9/21, a Super Size Me: Anniversary Edition for DVD release on 9/28, and Hand in Hand and Woke Up Dead both for on DVD on 10/5.
Meanwhile, DreamWorks has officially set How to Train Your Dragon for DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray/DVD Combo release on 10/15. (It's available for pre-order here on Amazon.com - cover art coming soon.) Yes, that's a Friday. Extras will include filmmaker commentary, deleted scenes, trailers and a DAW Jukebox, 8 featurettes (Legend of the Boneknapper Dragon, Tech of Dragon, Viking: Sized Cast, The Way We See It, Meet Cressida Cowell, Going for the Gold, How to Draw a Dragon and Dragon Training Final Exam). The Blu-ray will exclusively include a trivia track and an interactive Animators' Corner option.
Also today, Paramount (along with PBS, CBS, Showtime, etc) has set a Ken Burns' Baseball: The Tenth Inning for DVD and Blu-ray Disc release on 10/5, along with a new DVD box set of the original Baseball series that includes The Tenth Inning on DVD. Also coming on 10/5 are DVD releases of Gunsmoke: The Fourth Season, Volume One, Medium: The Sixth Season, Lock 'N Load, a Jackass Unrated 3-Pack (includes The Movie, Number Two and 2.5), Ugly Americans: Volume One, Olivia: Merry Christmas and Penguins of Madagascar: I Was a Penguin Zombie. Following on 10/12 are CSI: Miami: The Eighth Season, Ghost Whisperer: The Final Season and The Tudors: The Complete Final Season.
Finally, Warner will release V: The Complete First Season on DVD and Blu-ray on 11/2 (SRP $39.98 and $49.99). Extras will include commentary with executive producers Scott Rosenbaum and Steve Pearlman, bloopers, deleted scenes and 4 featurettes (The Actor's Journey from Human to V, An Alien in Human Skin: The Makeup FX of V, Breaking Story: The World of V and The Visual FX of V).
Warner has also announced a partnership with Sony and LG to make available a series of Blu-ray 3D title bundles with the purchase of Blu-ray 3D players, 3D TVs and 3D projectors. Titles include IMAX Under the Sea 3D, IMAX Space Station 3D and IMAX Deep Sea 3D. The offer is good now - for the LG deal, details will soon be available online. For the Sony deal, word is there will be a mail-in coupon in the packaging of eligible products with the details.
Back tomorrow with more. Stay tuned...
(EARLY UPDATE - 7/28/10 - 12:01 AM PDT)
Morning, folks! Sorry we were MIA yesterday. We had a little server work going on and it didn't quite get finished in time for the planned post to go up. So today's includes yesterday's news & more.
As expected, we've got lots more new release announcements to catch you all up on today, but 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 you order from Amazon after clicking to the through our links goes to help support our work here at The Bits, and we really appreciate it.
All right... Universal Studios Home Entertainment has officially set Ridley Scott's Robin Hood for release on DVD and Blu-ray on 9/21. You'll be able to purchase a single-disc DVD, a 2-disc DVD Special Edition and a 3-disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo edition. The Blu-ray/DVD Combo version will include both the original theatrical edition (141 minutes) and a longer Unrated edition (156 minutes) on both Blu-ray and DVD. Extras will include a Digital Copy of the Unrated version, deleted scenes with introduction & commentary by editor Pietro Scalia, the 3-part Rise and Rise Again: Making Ridley Scott's Robin Hood documentary (which we previewed during our panel at Comic-Con - includes Ballad, Legend & Myth: Pre-Production, The More the Merrier: Production and No Quarter Given: Post Production) and a Marketing Archive. The Blu-ray will also exclusively include an interactive Director's Notebook and The Art of Nottingham, plus the usual BD-Live and BD-Java options. Audio will be DTS-HD MA 5.1 on the Blu-ray and Dolby Digital 5.1 on the DVD. The single-disc DVD will include both versions of the film. The 2-disc DVD Special Edition will include that plus the Digital Copy and the non-BD exclusive extras listed above.
Meanwhile, Warner Home Video has set Splice for release on DVD and Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy Combo Pack on 10/5. Extras on the Blu-ray will include the interactive A Director's Playground: Vincenzo Natali on the Set of Splice.
Also coming from Warner are Scooby-Doo Where Are You!: The Complete Series on DVD on 11/9 (an 8-disc set packed in a replica of the Mystery Machine van) and Batman Beyond: The Complete Series on DVD on 11/23. And for the BBC, look for the next installment of Wallander as a 3-film combo pack on DVD and Blu-ray on 10/19 (including the films Faceless Killers, The Man Who Smiled and The Fifth Woman).
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has set Family Guy: It's a Trap! for release on DVD and Blu-ray on 12/21. As if you couldn't guess, this is Seth MacFarlane's animated spoof of Return of the Jedi, and is the third in a series of Family Guy Star Wars spoofs. In addition to buying the spoof on its own, you'll also be able to buy it in a 3-spoof combo pack on DVD or Blu-ray with the previous Family Guy: Blue Harvest and Family Guy: Something, Something, Something Dark Side.
Fox has also set Mirrors 2 for DVD and Blu-ray release on 10/19. You'll get a single-disc DVD, a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack and a 2-DVD Combo Pack with both Mirrors 2 and the original Mirrors.
And they're releasing Buffy: The Vampire Slayer - Season Eight on DVD on 1/4/2011. Yes, you read that right. Fox and Dark Horse Comics are working together to continue the original TV series where it left off as a new motion-comics series. All 19 episodes will be available on disc on 1/4... OR you can start watching them right now on iTunes.
Moving on, Blue Underground has announced Salon Kitty for Blu-ray Disc release on 11/23. They also have the Maniac: 30th Anniversary Edition coming to both DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 10/26.
Image Entertainment has set Fingerprints and Sisters (2008) for DVD and Blu-ray release on 10/6, followed by Bangkok Adrenaline, Kevin Hart: I'm a Grown Little Man and Callas Forever on both formats on 10/12.
Lionsgate has set Kung-Fu Master and Manson, My Name is Evil for DVD release on 10/12.
Vivendi Entertainment and RHI Entertainment have slated The Diplomant for DVD/Blu-ray Combo release on 8/10 (SRP $19.93).
Genius Products and Vivendi Entertainment have set The Killing Room for release on Blu-ray Disc on 8/17 (SRP just $14.97).
Barnholtz Entertainment has set The Lena Baker Story for DVD only release on 8/31.
And our friends over at TVShowsonDVD.com have posted additional details about the extras that will be included in Universal's The Bionic Woman: Season One DVD on 10/19. Looks like all the Six Million Dollar Man crossovers will be on board, among other extras.
Here's cover art for Universal's MacGruber (due 9/7), Warner's Splice and Criterion's Paths of Glory (10/26) all on Blu-ray, along with a beauty shot of the Mystery Machine packaging for Warner's Scooby-Doo Where Are You!: The Complete Series on DVD...
(LATE UPDATE - 7/26/10 - 11:45 AM PDT)
Okay... we've got a bunch more new release information for you this afternoon...
First though, thanks to all of you who dropped by our Digital Bits DVD/Blu-ray Producers Panel on Thursday. We showed off cool clips from such upcoming titles as Robin Hood and the Rambo: Director's Cut, discussed a few interesting Blu-ray related topics and took questions from the audience. Unfortunately, Doogan and I had to be on another panel 30 minutes after ours ended, so we didn't have a lot of time to talk with readers in the hall afterwards, but it was really great seeing all of you and we appreciate your taking the time to drop by and participate. Thanks to all of you for coming, and a very special thank you again to all our panelists. Here's a group shot we took afterwards (L to R: Todd Doogan, Charles de Lauzirika, Cliff Stephenson, Dr. Adam Jahnke, Bill Hunt, Javier Soto and Brian Ward)...
Next this afternoon... we've got a quick update for you on Gladiator: Paramount has now informed me that the new revised Blu-ray with the vastly improved HD transfer WILL have a YELLOW UPC symbol on the packaging, as was the case with Saving Private Ryan. So that's how you'll recognize it in stores. Just ignore that "2-Disc Set" text thing I mentioned earlier this morning, as it may not apply. Let me know if you see the new version in stores, and I'll try to keep up all up to date as it rolls out. [UPDATE - there is a NEW toll-free number to call: 888-889-9456]. A few of you have reported trouble getting through, or that the voicemail box is often full, so please just be patient and try again over the next few days. They're getting a LOT of calls as you can imagine, so they're pretty slammed. You can also try this e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Just be aware that they're getting lots of e-mails too, so it's going to take time for them to get back to you. Also, a number of U.K. readers are reporting that an exchange program is happening there as well from NBC Universal - you can contact their customer service at the following e-mail address (mention the Gladiator BD exchange) and they'll send you the instructions: email@example.com. Thanks to all of you who have sent this in.
Couple updates on titles we mentioned last week...
A&E Home Video tells me the official announcement of the Blu-ray release of Space: 1999 - Season 1 isn't quite ready yet, as they're still working out the details on the extras to be included. But pre-orders are already being taken and watch for the official details in the next few weeks.
Also today, we have more on Lionsgate's Apocalypse Now. As revealed today in a small blurb in print edition of the USA Today, the title will OFFICIALLY street on Blu-ray Disc on 10/19. Two versions will be available - a 2-disc set (SRP $39.99) that includes both Apocalypse Now: The 1979 Cut and Apocalypse Now Redux, as well as a 3-disc Full Disclosure Edition (SRP $59.99) that includes both films and more! More than 9 hours worth of bonus material are being created for these sets, and we hear the much loved Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse documentary WILL be included. How do you like THEM apples? ;)
In announcement news today, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment has set Dollhouse: Season Two for DVD and Blu-ray release on 10/12 (SRP $49.98 and $59.99). Extras will include a retrospective featurette with Joss Whedon, a cast roundtable about the series, a gag reel and deleted scenes, along with a 28-page comic book from Dark Horse Comics.
Here's something you guys have been waiting a long time for! Universal recently announced that The Bionic Woman: Season One was coming to DVD on 10/19. Well, they're now teaming with Time Life for the release of The Six Million Dollar Man: The Complete Series on DVD! The 40-disc set, due in November (exact street date TBA) will include all 100 episodes of the show along with 15 hours of bonus features. Among them you'll get all-new cast and crew interviews, featurettes and documentaries featuring Lee Majors, Richard Anderson and others, 3 TV pilot movies, the 3 reunion movies, the Bionic Woman "crossover" episodes and more! Additional details will be posted as we have them. The packaging will even include a lenticular hologram and an audio chip!
Meanwhile, Universal has set a Monk: The Complete Series Limited Edition Box Set for DVD release on 10/5. The 32-disc set will include hours of behind-the-scenes features along with a 32-page Defective Detective Handbook.
Also, Magnolia Home Entertainment has set George A. Romero's Survival of the Dead for DVD and Blu-ray release on 8/24. You'll be able to get a single-disc DVD, a 2-disc Ultimate Edition DVD and a single-disc Ultimate Edition Blu-ray.
Warner has set The new Adventures of Old Christine: The Complete Third Season for DVD release on 7/27 (SRP $24.95), though ONLY via Warner's disc-on-demand service through the Warner Shop website.
And Sony has set Monster House for Blu-ray 3D release on 9/14 (SLP $39.95), followed by Community: The Complete First Season for DVD release on 9/21. Monster House will include a 2D version of the film as well, along with audio commentary, the Inside Monster House and Evolution of a Scene featurettes, the Art of Monster House photo gallery and more.
Okay... lots more news and Con updates tomorrow. Stay tuned!
(EARLY UPDATE - 7/26/10 - 12:01 AM PDT)
Morning, folks! So... we're back from the Con, and the long process of "Con recovery" is now well underway. That may sound a little silly to those of you who've never been through the fun but exhausting ordeal that is Comic-Con, but trust me... it's entirely appropriate.
I'll be back this afternoon with more on the Con itself, our panel there and also a bunch of DVD and Blu-ray news from the last few days, but I've got a couple things for you now. You know... to start the new week off right.
First, let's talk Alien Anthology. Fox's Blu-ray packaging is quite cool looking. It was on display in Fox's booth at Comic-Con floor, so here's some pictures for you of the regular and "limited edition" versions side by side...
The regular version (on the left) is a traditional Digipack with outer slipcase. Sideshow's limited edition sculpture (on the right) looks even better in person and it lights up from the inside. A smaller Digipack containing the discs slips into the base. Here's the catch about the one on the right: Here in the States, there are only 5,000 numbered limited editions available, and you can only get them by pre-ordering on Foxconnect.com (they were also available for pre-order at the Con). The limited edition will NOT be available in stores or on Amazon.com. And once the 5,000 are gone, that's it. So if you want one, you can get one for $149.99 (25% off the $199.99 SRP) here while supplies last. Judging by the buzz in the Fox booth... well, let's just say that if you want one, I wouldn't wait too long to get your order in.
And for those of you who may have worried that any of the films will suffer the same DNR-ed fate as the recent Predator Blu-ray, I've heard from multiple sources directly involved now that such fears are unnecessary. All four films have been given brand new HD transfers and the masters reportedly look fantastic. In fact, we've been told that when James Cameron viewed and approved the new Aliens master (Aliens being the most troublesome looking film of the series in the past quality-wise), he was VERY pleased with the results. We'll have more on this set in the days and weeks ahead.
Now then... here's the other thing I wanted to mention this morning, while we're on the subject of new HD masters: I have a copy of the newly remastered Gladiator Blu-ray. In short, the new HD presentation is SPECTACULAR. When the film was originally released on Blu-ray last year, I was so disappointed by the lackluster quality of the master (especially compared to the stunning Braveheart: Sapphire Series Blu-ray released the same day) that I could barely stand to watch it. Well... I can't STOP watching the new one. I've just spent well over an hour sampling the quality of the new transfer (and comparing it to the old one) and the more I've watched, the more I've wanted to watch. Contrast is wonderful, with deep dark blacks. The image is crisp without appearing edgy. Detail is abundant, with nuanced and subtle textures. Very, very light film grain is detectable throughout - just enough to render a lovely (and correctly) film-like appearance. Colors are accurate and pleasing. It's just an absolute joy to behold... just as we KNEW the film could look on Blu-ray and SHOULD have looked the first time. If you're a fan of Gladiator, do NOT hesitate to call Paramount's customer service number [UPDATE - there is a NEW toll-free number to call: 888-889-9456] to get your hands on a copy of the proper version.
If, on the other hand, you're a reviewer of Blu-ray or otherwise claim to be a good judge of the visual quality of films presented in high-definition on the format... whether new to the task or experienced... here's my recommendation: You should also get the new disc, but KEEP the original one too. Gladiator should be your go-to reference title for seeing, understanding and explaining to others how a film can either be done poorly or done exceptionally well on Blu-ray. This is NOT a matter of preference or taste, as a few out there would have you believe. When you personally view and compare the transfers on these two copies side by side, in your own viewing space, it's stunningly clear that one of them is mediocre... and one is damn near as close to perfect as state of the art HD mastering can deliver. And if you ever show them to a buddy who then says, "I don't see the difference..." or worse, "I actually like the first one better..." tell them to just save their money and stick with DVD. They're overpaying for quality they're just never going to appreciate. ;)
As far as spotting the new Gladiator Blu-ray in stores, it appears the only difference on the packaging is this: On the back of the slipcase and disc cover insert, there's a little white Paramount logo on the bottom right corner. Right above that on the ORIGINAL Blu-ray are the words "2-DISC SET". On the NEW Blu-ray, those words are missing. That's it. The new disc IS of course still a 2-disc set, so no worries. Rest assured, I'll double-check with the studio later today to make SURE that's the tell. Since I have a copy of the new disc in hand, I'm going to assume the studio will start sending them out to those requesting replacement copies any day. And I'd expect them to start appearing in stores over the next few weeks.
Okay, that's it for now. Like I said, I'll be back later this afternoon with more. For those of you who've e-mailed me over the last few days... it's going to take a few days to get back to you all. I've got a bit of a backlog of messages, as you might imagine.