All right... first up here at The Bits today, our own Russell Hammond has once again updated the Release Dates & Artwork section with all the latest Blu-ray, DVD and Video Game cover art and Amazon.com pre-order links. As always, a portion of ANYTHING you order from Amazon after clicking to them through our links goes to help support our work here at the site and we REALLY do appreciate it.
Now then... it took a little while to finish, given all of the elaborate content and extras on the set, but I've finally just posted my full and in-depth review of Fox's 3-disc James Cameron's Avatar: Extended Collector's Edition Blu-ray (due in stores on 11/16)! So is it worth the upgrade from the previous movie-only BD? Yes, especially if you're a serious fan. The new versions of the film and the deleted scenes are well worth seeing all on their own, and there are extensive bonus features - two full BD discs worth in all. Even casual fans will grow to appreciate this film more by watching the documentaries and featurettes included here. The 3D process is arguably the least impressive of the numerous technical achievements that happened during this film's production, and that's saying something. For you detail fans, there are scripts, the Pandorapedia and extensive art galleries. And all of the set's content looks great in full HD. There are a couple of minor omissions, but on the whole the set is absolutely worth your time and money this holiday season, so do check it out. Enjoy!
Also, in announcement news today, Warner Home Video has FINALLY set John Boorman's long-awaited Excalibur for Blu-ray release on 3/8/11. The title, which had previously appeared on HD-DVD, will include all the extras from the DVD release, including audio commentary by Boorman and the film's trailer.
I'd say that's about enough for the moment. I'll be back to check in with additional release news tomorrow.
I've got a few more bits of information for you from last week's Blu-Con conference, and then I've got to get working on a major Blu-ray review that I hope to post later this evening or early tomorrow morning.
I hope you all had the chance to check out the video of my panel discussion (from Blu-Con) on bringing classic films to Blu-ray. (See Friday's post.) Those of you interested in the topic will be very pleased to learn that, in one-on-one discussions with many of the studio reps on hand at the event, I was told almost across the board that 2011 is going to see significant increases in efforts to deliver deeper catalog titles and classic films on the Blu-ray format. The general belief among studio decision-makers seems to be that we're now crossing a threshold or tipping point for the market. Catalog sales are increasing (reportedly double-digit growth) and enough Blu-ray players are now in the hands of consumers to warrant greater catalog efforts. I don't think it's any mistake that studios like Universal have recently stepped up their catalog BD efforts, and I would expect that trend to continue from all the major studios going forward. Certainly, the recent announcement that the Star Wars films are coming to the format next year can only help encourage this.
Now then, during the afternoon session at Blu-Con, Andy Parsons (SVP of Pioneer Electronics and chair of the Blu-ray Disc Association's U.S. Promotions Committee) gave a presentation on the current state of the Blu-ray format that included some statistics and information I thought you might all be interested to hear. Andy was kind enough to provide me with a copy of his report (Thanks, Andy!), so here at the specifics...
By the end of 2010, there are expected to be 25 million U.S. households with TV-connected Blu-ray playback devices, including stand-alone players and PS3. (Source: Adams Media Research) Considering that there are currently some 115 million U.S. TV households (estimated by Neilsen), that means Blu-ray is installed in over 1/5 (and is approaching 1/4) of all U.S. TV households.
The adoption curve for Blu-ray is fairly consistent with that of DVD in its first 5 years (there were roughly about 30 million DVD players in U.S. homes at the end of the same period, including stand-alone players and PS2).
By 2015, Blu-ray format penetration is expected to hit 45% in the U.S., with some 20% of that capacity BD3D capable.
There are currently over 3,000 Blu-ray software titles available in the States. At the same time, the unit sales numbers for Blu-ray software are effectively doubling every year. This year, they're up 116%, or 94% for 2009. (Source: Adams Media Research)
BD player sales in Europe are increasing steadily as well, with a current 10.9 million installed players today, and a projected 30.7 million installed by 2014. (Source: Futuresource Consulting)
BD players also dominate in Japan - 65% of all videodisc hardware in the country is Blu-ray, compared to 35% standard DVD. (Source: GfK Japan)
On the Blu-ray 3D front, 19 models of BD3D player are now available, with more due at CES. The expectation is that by the end of next year, anyone buying a new, affordable Blu-ray player model will have a hard time finding one that DOESN'T have 3D capability.
Currently, there are 1.8 million 3D HDTVs in the U.S., compared to 39.3 million regular HDTVs. By 2015, there are expected to be 27.1 million 3D HDTVs in the U.S. compared to 45.3 million regular HDTVs. (Source: Futuresource Consulting)
What this means (in my own opinion) is that 3D is definitely here to stay, but (as I've said often) it's going to have a very slow adoption curve. At Blu-Con, Avatar director James Cameron suggested that autostereoscopic 3D display is possible, and is certainly the future, but deploying the technology widely is probably a good 8-10 years away. It's likely to require a doubling of display resolution to achieve it. (Note this Wired article from 2008 about a Philips technology demonstration of the technology.) In any case, at some point in the mid-term future, this technology will go widespread. When it does, 3D will become standard, completing the transition that's just now really getting slowly started.
Speaking of Avatar, some interesting notes on Fox's Avatar 2D Blu-ray: 20% of ALL sales of the title were on Blu-ray. That's 5 million copies sold in the U.S. and 8 million worldwide.
Some 24 BD3D titles are expected to be released before the end of the year, not including titles tied to hardware as exclusives, so those 1.8 million 3D households will at least have something to watch. (Source: DEG - Digital Entertainment Group)
By the way, for data recording purposes, the BDA added two new recordable BD specs this past year (for both BD-R and BD-RE) - multi-layer BDXL discs, capable of recording 100GB (RE) and 128GB (R).
One other issue: Compared to downloading and streaming, BD provides more than 10x the data rate of the average U.S. household's broadband connection, currently estimated at 4.6Mbps. (Source: Akamai)
Bottom line: The Blu-ray format is doing quite well compared to standard DVD, and especially well given the recent recession. Home video sales in general are also finally starting to recover from the recession.
All right... so that's the latest on the Blu-ray format from last week's Blu-Con 2010 industry conference.
A couple of other notes this morning...
We finally have an anticipated street date for Disney's Bambi: Diamond Edition Blu-ray. Look for it to arrive in stores on 3/1/11.
Meanwhile, Sony has set Easy A for Blu-ray and DVD release on 12/21 (SRP $28.95 and $34.95), followed by Animal Kingdom on both formats on 1/18/11 (SRP also $28.95 and $34.95).
And Paramount and Comedy Central have set Gabriel Iglesias: I'm Not Fat... I'm Fluffy for Blu-ray release on 1/11/11.
Here's a look at the cover art for DreamWorks' Dinner for Schmucks (due 1/4/11), along with Sony's Easy A and El Mariachi/Desperado: Double Feature (also 1/4/11)...
Finally this morning, we'd like to take a moment to acknowledge the passing of actress Jill Clayburgh, who died on Friday after a long battle with chronic leukemia. Her film credits include An Unmarried Woman, Silver Streak, Luna, Gable & Lombard and First Monday in October. She was 66.
Okay, with a little luck I'll be back later tonight (definitely by tomorrow morning) with that big new Blu-ray title review. The aforementioned James Cameron MIGHT have had a little something to do with it. Stay tuned...
Okay, more interesting announcement news today...
First, DreamWorks and Paramount have officially announced the Blu-ray and DVD release of the comedy Dinner for Schmucks on 1/4/11. Extras will include deleted scenes and 5 featurettes (including The Biggest Schmucks in the World, The Men Behind the Mouseterpieces, Meet the Winners, Schmuck Ups and Paul and Steve: The Decision), all in HD. The DVD will include just the deleted scenes and 2 featurettes (The Biggest Schmucks in the World and Schmuck Ups).
Also, Warner Home Video has just announced The West Wing for high-def digital distribution via iTunes, Amazon and various VOD providers, though no Blu-ray release has yet been announced. I know there was at least some talk within the studio of releasing The West Wing on Blu-ray, but there's been nothing since.
We've got a couple additional follow-up notes about MGM's new MOD program that we mentioned the other day. First, the initial plans call for the program to feature MGM catalog titles only. Also, there are no current plans to add Fox titles, though that could obviously change in the future. The first titles will go on sale around mid-December. And Fox is currently working to enlist specific retailers to the program, so we'll know more in a few weeks which will be carrying the titles (Amazon, Best Buy, etc). Rest assured, we'll post additional details as they come in.
And one follow up to the Ben-Hur Blu-ray art post from yesterday. Yes, we're aware that Ben-Hur came out in 1959, so 2011 can't be the 50th Anniversary release. As I noted in yesterday's post, the cover art is subject to change and likely will. Keep in mind, if you'll recall from our past discussions with WHV, Ben-Hur was originally planned to be released on Blu-ray in 2009 or 2010, but the studio decided that they really needed to take the time to redo the film's HD transfer right for Blu-ray release. In any case, we're likely still at least a few months away from the official announcements of these titles. Rest assured, we'll post more details as they come in.
Now then, I'll have more to say about Blu-Con next week. But as many of you know, I moderated a panel discussion at the event this past Tuesday, entitled Film Classics: New Opportunities for Blu-ray Catalog. My panelists included Jeff Baker (Executive Vice President & General Manager of Theatrical Catalog at Warner Home Video), Rita Belda (Director of Asset Management for Film Restoration and Digital Mastering at Sony Pictures Entertainment), Bob Buchi (Senior Vice President of Marketing at Paramount Home Entertainment) and Dave Shaw (Senior Vice President Marketing at Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment). We only had about 40 minutes, and it's pretty tough to really go in-depth on such a complex subject with so little time. Still, we managed to cover a wide range of topics related to bringing classic catalog titles to the Blu-ray format, and I think it was a pretty interesting discussion.
As it happens, our old friends Ron Epstein and Adam Gregorich from the excellent Home Theater Forum we on-hand to cover the event. Not only did they post an excellent live report on Blu-con over at the HTF, they also managed to capture pictures AND video of my panel. So here they are for all of you to check out! Do keep in mind that Blu-Con is a conference for industry insiders - not consumers - so my questions to the panelists reflect that fact. My moderating approach at these kinds of industry events is very different that it would be, say, at Comic-Con. Still, I think you'll find what the panelists had to say pretty interesting. So I hope you enjoy it. Note that the video is available in 5 parts on YouTube, of which the clip below is the first (the other 4 parts should appear for selection when this first clip finishes, and you can also find them here on YouTube: 2, 3, 4 and 5)...
I'd like to express my thanks to Jeff, Rita, Bob and Dave for a great panel, to Mark, Lyndsey, Amy Jo and everyone at Blu-Con for the opportunity to moderate again this year, and especially to Ron and Adam for their excellent coverage.
Finally today, I wanted to let you all know that - even though the DVD and BD street dates are still a week or two off - the first chance for most of you to see The Complete Metropolis in high-def happens THIS WEEKEND! Those of you who have Turner Classic Movies on your cable or satellite service will be pleased to know that The Complete Metropolis makes its U.S. TV debut Sunday at 8PM on TCM. More here on the TCM website. Don't miss it!
Have a great weekend, everyone!
(LATE UPDATE - 11/4/10 - 4 PM PDT)
All right... just one more quick update for you today. We're working on more reviews, so little rest for the weary...
We've got a couple of additional title announcements for you this afternoon...
Warner and HBO have set Funny or Die Presents: Season 1 for DVD release on 1/11/11 (SRP $29.98).
Warner and the BBC will release MI-5: Volume 8 on DVD on 1/25/11 (SRP $39.98), followed by Diana Rigg at the BBC on 2/15/11 (SRP $49.98).
And Warner has also set the animated Batman: The Brave and the Bold - Season One, Part Two for DVD on 3/15/11 (SRP $19.97).
Also, we have final cover art for Warner's The Town Blu-ray for you (due 12/17), along with the revised art for Paramount's True Grit (12/14) and Fox's Hope Floats (1/4/11)...
Finally today, I wanted to take a moment to tip my cap in memory of meteorologist Matt Hughes, who was one of the stars of Discovery Channel's Storm Chasers - long a favorite show of mine. Matt apparently passed away on May 26th, but most fans only became aware of it when watching last night's episode, which was dedicated to him. Matt was one of many professional scientist-storm chasers around the country who risk their own lives attempting to gather valuable research on tornadoes - research that might save the lives of others. There are reports that he suffered from depression, and that it may have contributed to his death. All I know is, he was a smart young man, who clearly loved (and was great at) what he did. And I and many others have really enjoyed watching him do it these past couple seasons. Matt was just 30, and left behind a wife and two sons. Discovery Channel has put up a tribute page in his honor, where you can make donations to benefit his family.
(EARLY UPDATE - 11/4/10 - 11:30 AM PDT)
Morning, everyone! I've got a cool cover art surprise for you this morning...
At the Blu-Con event on Tuesday, Warner Home Video - in an effort to tease a couple of their biggest 2011 catalog Blu-ray releases to attendees - included a small sneak peek at the packaging in the event program. Naturally, as these titles are SO big and long-anticipated, I knew you guys would love to see the images too. Warner kindly provided this art to me in higher quality, so that all of you might get a peek at it too! So here's an exclusive first look at the preliminary box art for a pair of what promise to be VERY exciting Blu-ray event releases from the studio next year: The Citizen Kane: Ultimate Collector's Edition and the Ben-Hur: 50th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition!
Note that the packaging is still early and obviously subject to change, and the exact street dates have yet to be locked down. Right now, just plan on both as TBA 2011 releases. Still, they're pretty damn cool to see. This 4th quarter has really been strong with great catalog Blu-ray titles, and it's looking like next year is going to be even better. Thanks again to WHV for providing the images!
Evening, folks! Sorry this post is so late, but as you know I spent all day at Blu-Con yesterday... and got only 4 hours of sleep the night before... so I was pretty wiped out today. You've got to catch up on sleep sometime, right?
But for those of you who hung in there today, I've got a nice surprise for you: Kino just sent over their forthcoming Blu-ray version of The Complete Metropolis! The moment I opened the package from the mail... well, it was clear that I was going to have to drop everything and work on my in-depth review. I've always loved this film, and loved seeing the newly-complete version at the TCM Festival even more. So my review is now up for you all to check out. I think - with a couple of qualifications - most of you will really enjoy the disc. It streets on 11/16 on DVD, and the Blu-ray follows a week later on 11/23. Enjoy!
All right, we've got some BIG news for you today...
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment and Allied Vaughn have finalized an agreement that will allow retailers to offer an expanded range of MGM's Limited Edition Collection film titles on DVD via Manufacturing on Demand (MOD)! Each disc will sell for $19.98 SRP. Some will include the original theatrical trailer. Over 50 films will be available in the short term, with a plan to expand to more than 400 titles within 18 months. The initial wave of film titles will includes: Bad Jim (1990), By Love Possessed (1961), Diary of a Madman (1963), Futureworld (1976), The Hawaiians (1970), Rolling Thunder (1977), The Satan Bug (1965), The Spikes Gang (1974), Still of the Night (1982), Vigilante Force (1976), The Witches (1968), The 7th Dawn (1964), 99 River Street (1953), Captain Kidd and the Slave Girl (1954), Crusoe (1989), Flight from Ashiya (1964), Leo the Last (1970), Big House, U.S.A. (1955), Callie & Son (1981) and The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover (1977). We expect more details soon on which retailers will be making these titles available and when they'll go on sale, so stay tuned. It's definitely great news for deep catalog fans!
Moving on, there's big release announcement news today as well...
First, Warner Home Video has just announced the Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD release of Ben Affleck's outstanding crime drama The Town. Look for it in stores on 12/17 (SRP $35.99 and $28.98). The Blu-ray includes BOTH the theatrical cut and a new 17-minute longer extended version. You also get audio commentary with Affleck on both versions, a 6-part Ben's Boston "making of" documentary (including The Cathedral of Boston, Pulling Off the Perfect Heist, The Town, The Real People of The Town, Nuns with Guns: Filming in the North End and Ben Affleck: Director & Actor) and a Digital Copy of the theatrical cut. The DVD includes the theatrical cut only, along with commentary and 2 of the Ben's Boston featurettes (The Real People of The Town and Ben Affleck: Director & Actor).
Warner has also announced the Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD release of Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole on 12/17. You'll be able to buy the film in a Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack, a regular Blu-ray Combo Pack and on DVD (SRP $44.95, $35.99 and $28.98 respectively). Both Blu-rays will include the Explore the World of Ga'Hoole WB Maximum "Kid" PIP viewing mode, the True Guardians of the Earth featurette, 4 artwork galleries (The Guardians, The Locations, The Villains and Soren & Friends), Owl City's To the Sky music video, the Rise of the Guardians illustrated story, the Looney Tunes short Fur of Flying (in 3D on the BD3D version) and 2 interactive games (Armor Up with Soren & Eglantine and Match the Owl Treats), as well as a Digital Copy. The DVD will include the True Guardians of the Earth featurette and the Looney Tunes short.
Meanwhile, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has announced Robert Rodriguez' Machete for Blu-ray and DVD release on 1/4/11 (SRP $39.99 and $29.98). Extras on both will include an audience reaction track and deleted scenes. The BD will also include a Digital Copy.
And Fox and MGM have set a Dances with Wolves: 20th Anniversary Edition and Raging Bull: 30th Anniversary Edition for release on Blu-ray on 1/11/11 (SRP $29.99 each). Dances with Wolves will be the extended cut of the film, with 7.1 DTS-HD MA audio. Most of the previous DVD extras will be included on these Blu-rays, along with newly-produced material. I'll have a more detailed list of the contents for you tomorrow.
[Editor's note: Thanks to all the readers who let me know that I'd inadvertently spelled Raging Bull as 'Raging Bill'! Yeah, I was tired yesterday. What can I tell you? And 'U' and 'I' are right next to each other on the keyboard. Still, funny. But now fixed.] ;)
Here's the cover art for Fox's Machete, MGM's Dances with Wolves: 20th Anniversary Edition and Raging Bull: 30th Anniversary Edition, Warner's The Town (DVD - BD art coming soon) and Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole, and Blue Underground's Daughters of Darkness (due 2/22/11)...
Finally this evening, I've added some additional comments to my review of A&E's The World at War on Blu-ray, as posted yesterday. I've also updated the links here on the home page so it's easier for all of you to check out our newly-improved Release Dates & Artwork section, now featuring BOTH Blu-ray & DVD and Video Game listings.
Okay... I'm officially exhausted. I'm off to bed. Rest assured, I'll be back tomorrow with more release news and what-have-you, including some thoughts on Blu-Con.
In the meantime, stay tuned!
All right... first up this morning, I've whipped up three more Blu-ray Disc reviews for you guys to check out, including Criterion's Paths of Glory (now available in stores), Warner's The Goonies: 25th Anniversary Edition (streets today) and A&E's The World at War (due 11/16). Paths of Glory is terrific, The Goonies is a serviceable upgrade of the DVD (though most of the new material is of the "paper in the box" variety) and The World of War is good but complicated on Blu-ray. Check out the reviews for all the details.
Also today, our very own Russell Hammond has once again updated our Release Dates & Artwork section with all the latest Blu-ray and DVD cover artwork and Amazon.com pre-order links. And the BIG news is that we've just upgraded the section to include a new Video Games option as well! Using the links provided in the section, you can now switch back and forth from Blu-ray & DVD to Video Games. Whichever you choose, there's a little magnifying glass icon underneath each cover - hovering your mouse pointer on this will allow you to see a better look at the cover art for the title. Clicking on it (or the regular art) takes you to the title's Amazon.com order page. As before, you can sort the Blu-ray & DVD section by Top 40 sellers, Top 100 sellers and High-Def, and arrange the results by Bestselling or Alphabetical. And in the new Video Game section, you can sort the game and accessory listings by sales and system (Top 40, Nintendo, Xbox/Xbox 360, PlayStation 2/3 and Windows) and again you can arrange the results by Bestselling or Alphabetical. A LOT of hard work has gone into this (as many of you have asked for the section to be upgraded to include video games as well as movie titles), so we really hope you enjoy it! Remember - a portion of ANYTHING you order from Amazon after clicking through to them from our links goes to help support our ongoing work here and The Bits, and we REALLY do appreciate it. In this tough economy, every little of that support helps us keep doing our thing here at the site. So do check it out, make good use of it and we really hope you enjoy it. Thanks!
Now then... I'm off to Blu-Con up in Los Angeles, where I'm due to moderate a studio panel discussion on bringing classic films to Blu-ray. Maybe I'll see you there. If not, I'm sure I'll have at least a little to say about the day's events in tomorrow's post. ;)
A quick reminder: Today's obviously Election Day here in the States (though given all the irritating TV ads, SPAM e-mail and junk flyers, I doubt any of you could forget), so be sure to get out there and vote as you will. Then, as a reward, stop off at your local video store on the way home and treat yourself to factory-fresh copies of Toy Story 3, The Pacific, The Sound of Music and/or any of the other cool DVD and Blu-ray releases that hit store shelves today.
In release news today, Sony has just set Robert Rodriguez' El Mariachi Trilogy for release on Blu-ray Disc on 1/4/11. El Mariachi/Desperado and Once Upon a Time in Mexico will each be available individually for SRP $19.95. El Mariachi/Desperado will include a Cutting Room editing option, commentary with Rodriguez, movieIQ, a 10-minute Film School, Rodriguez' Bed Head student film, the 10 More Minutes: Anatomy of a Shootout featurette and 2 music videos. Once Upon a Time in Mexico will also include a Cutting Room editing option and commentary with Rodriguez, along with deleted scenes, 6 featurettes (Ten-Minute Cooking School, Film is Dead: An Evening with Robert Rodriguez, The Good, the Bad and the Bloody: Inside KNB FX, Ten-Minute Flick School, Inside Troublemaker Studios and The Anti-Hero's Journey).
Sony has further set Resident Evil: Afterlife for release on Blu-ray 3d, Blu-ray and DVD on 12/28 (SRP 39.95, $34.95 and $28.95). Extras on the Blu-rays will include commentary, the Undead Vision: PIP viewing mode, deleted scenes, outtakes, 7 featurettes (Back Under the Umbrella: Directing Afterlife, Band of Survivors: Casting Afterlife, Undead Dimension: Resident Evil in 3D, Fighting Back: The Action of Afterlife, Vision of the Apocalypse: The Design of Afterlife, New Blood: The Undead of Afterlife, Playing the Undead: Gamers of the Afterlife), movieIQ and the usual BD-Live options. We suspect the Blu-ray 3D version will also include a 2D version. The DVD will include only the commentary and 2 featurettes. Here's a look at the cover art for all three...
Sony has also announced the Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D and DVD release of Piranha on 1/11/11 (SRP 39.95, $34.95 and $28.95). The Blu-ray 3D version will include audio commentary with the filmmakers, 10 featurettes and a 2D version. The regular Blu-ray will include the commentary and the 10 featurettes, plus deleted scenes, deleted storyboard sequences, a storyboard gallery and trailers and TV spots. The DVD will include the commentary and 5 featurettes only.
Meanwhile, Infinity Entertainment has set Steel Gaze: An Unauthorized Story on Clint Eastwood for DVD release on 11/23.
Lionsgate has set Boy Meets World: The Complete Fourth Season for DVD release on 12/7.
Lionsgate also has The Last Exorcism for release on DVD and Blu-ray+DVD Combo Pack on 1/4/11.
Image Entertainment has set Turning Green for DVD release on 12/21.
Brink DVD will release The Zookeeper on DVD on 11/23.
And Blue Underground has set the B-vampire classic Daughters of Darkness for Blu-ray release on 2/22/11 (SRO $29.98). Extras will include 2 audio commentaries, 3 featurettes (Locations of Darkness, Playing the Victim and Daughter of Darkness), radio spots and theatrical trailers.
Also Kino Video has delayed the Blu-ray release of The Complete Metropolis from 11/16 to 11/23, so adjust your plans accordingly. Note that the DVD is still expected to street on 11/16 as planned.
Finally today, we wanted to take a moment this afternoon to acknowledge the sudden passing of filmmaker George Hickenlooper. His Casino Jack, starring Kevin Spacey, is due for theatrical release in December. But most of you will know him as one of the men (along with Fax Bahr) who helped turn Eleanor Coppola's on-set footage into the acclaimed Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse documentary, which was just released in high-definition on Lionsgate's' Apocalypse Now BD release. He was just 47.
Now then... I'm going to be moderating a panel discussion tomorrow at the Blu-Con conference up in L.A., but I'll have at least a couple more Blu-ray reviews for you regardless. So stay tuned!
Friday at last!
We're thrilled today to present Mad Dr. Jahnke's final review of the Hell Plaza Oktobefest season! We're also, of course, saddened that all the spooky, creepy DVD and Blu-ray fun is nearly finished for yet another Halloween. Still, how better to close out this year's Fest-ivities than with a review of Warner's new Blu-ray release of The Exorcist? See... Jahnke saved the best for last!
Congrats to Dr. Jahnke for all his hard work again this year. Matt and I bought him a drink and some cheese-dipped tater tots last night at the pub to celebrate, but if you're of a mind, drop him an e-mail and let him know how much you appreciate all his Oktobefest efforts. There's nothing like a little reader feedback to show the love.
In announcement news today, Warner Home Video has set Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore for release on DVD and Blu-ray on 11/16. You'll be able to buy the film as a Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack, a regular Blu-ray Combo Pack and a DVD (SRP $40.99, $35.99 and $28.98). Extras will include a classic Looney Tunes short, Coyote Falls (in 3D on the BD3D set), outtakes and a gag reel, a couple featurettes and a preview of the new Yogi Bear live-action/CG theatrical film.
A new Yogi Bear live-action/CG theatrical film. I ask you, what the hell could possibly be scarier than that going into Halloween weekend? I STILL find it hard to believe that no one's done a Jonny Quest film yet, but wait long enough and I'm sure it will come. What could possibly be next? Hong Kong Phooey? Speed Buggy? The Herculoids? Bah!
In other release news today, we finally have a street date for Disney's Alice in Wonderland: 60th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray. Look for it on 2/1/11. All the extras from the previous DVD release should carry over, along with new content created just for BD. Here's a look at the cover art...
As you can also see, we've included the cover art for Disney's The Sorcerer's Apprentice on both DVD and Blu-ray Combo as well (both due on 11/30).
Meanwhile, Warner and the BBC will release Merlin: The Complete Second Season on DVD on 1/18/11.
And Passion River Films has set the documentary What's the Matter with Kansas? for release on DVD on 1/25/11.
In other news today, industry sources are telling us that if you buy any qualifying Panasonic 3D product after December 1st, you'll be able to get a Blu-ray 3D copy of Avatar in the mail for your troubles. We're waiting on official terms and conditions, and no we don't know for sure yet which specific hardware devices will qualify and whether legacy Panny 3D hardware owners can get the disc as well. We'll post an update when we have more details - it should be in the next couple of weeks. Our guess would be that more information will appear here on Panny's website soon.
Also today, the official Otakon anime convention website has posted a nice tribute to the late director Satoshi Kon, giving you the opportunity to send letters of sympathy to his family, etc. Do check it out.
Finally, we'd like to tip our hats to the memory of cartoonist Alexander Anderson, the creator Rocky the flying squirrel, Bullwinkle Moose, Dudley Do-Right and Crusader Rabbit, who passed away on 10/22 at the age of 90. More here at Time magazine.
All right... I'm going to try to pop in later with a couple of those reviews we've been working on, but if not I'll definitely have a few for you on Monday. Some good titles, so do check back.
In the meantime, have a happy and safe Halloween! And don't forget: AMC's The Walking Dead premieres on Sunday night!
Okay, just two more Hell Plaza Oktoberfest reviews to go this season, and the first of them is Dr. Jahnke's take on one of Sony's new Screen Classics by Request MOD titles - Nightwing! So does Sony's Manufacturing on Demand program deliver? Sounds like yes, in Jahnke's opinion. Read the review to find out more. And be sure to check back tomorrow for his Oktoberfest grand finale!
A couple more announcements for you today...
According to Peter Bowen over on the Focus Features blog, Focus and Universal will be releasing Anton Corbijn's The American, starring George Clooney, on Blu-ray and DVD on 12/28. Extras will include audio commentary by the director and the half-hour Journey to Redemption: The Making of The American featurette. And as it happens, here's the DVD and Blu-ray cover art too. Thanks to our old friend Michael S. for the heads-up!
Uni also has Nanny McPhee Returns due on DVD and Blu-ray on 12/14, as you can see by the cover art above.
And Lionsgate has announced their first three January 2011 titles due on DVD on 1/4: The Lena Baker Story, Barney: Musical Zoo and Thomas & Friends: Wobbly Wheels and Whistles. Don't laugh, I'm sure SOMEBODY out there was freaking out wondering when Barney: Musical Zoo was streeting. So there you go.
Also, in other news today... mixed blessings for 3DTV and Blu-ray 3D: First, Zagat says that 65% of customers they surveyed aren't interested in 3DTV. Meanwhile, NPD says that 42% of the consumers they've surveyed say that they're somewhat interested in watching 3D movies at home. On top of this, a survey conducted by the International 3D Society says that 60% of adults in their poll say they have yet to watch a film in 3D, either at home or in a theatre. But hey - if you DO dig 3D, Oakley is making their own cool $150 3D glasses, themed to Disney's new Tron Legacy. Here's what they look like. One caveat - they're passive/polarized lenses, currently for select theatrical use only, not home 3D use. (However according to Oakley's press release, they're working with manufacturers of passive systems for possible future home 3D compatibility.) What's the message in all this 3D news? 3D is probably here to stay, but it's going to be a LOOOOOONG, slow road to widespread adoption. Read more via the linked stories at Home Media.
Finally this morning, we've been getting a number of reports from Sony Blu-ray player owners who say they're having problems playing Fox's Alien Anthology discs. Specifically, they can play the first disc fine, but the Disc Unbound or Mother Mode option seems to be choking their players when they try to switch to another disc from the set. If you're having problems with this or ANY Blu-ray title, be sure to contact your player's customer support service ASAP. The more people who contact them quickly when having a problem, the faster these issues can be resolved via new firmware updates. You'll find Sony's here, Oppo's here, Panasonic's here, Samsung's here (etc - a quick web search can uncover all the rest).
All right, back later. Stay tuned...
(LATE UPDATE - 10/27/10 - 5 PM PDT)
Well... I'm sure there will be Battlestar fans who are disappointed at the breaking news that Syfy has decided not to renew its BSG-prequel series Caprica for a second season. (See reports here, here and here.) But I have to be honest, for my part (as an admittedly HUGE Battlestar fan), and say that mostly my own disappointment is that I just didn't like the series better. Some fans have said that Caprica should have been a war story, like Galactica was, but that's not my problem with it. Caprica was certainly an audacious effort on the part of its writers and producers to present a culturally and morally complex, intriguing world - a backstory worth of Galactica. But as I said in my recent review of Universal's Caprica: Season 1.0 on DVD, my own issue with the show - and it's a BIG one - is that I just didn't like any of its characters. Now, it's not necessarily required for a viewer to like all of show's characters, but you DO need some kind of emotional investment by an audience for the drama to really matter. And it's been terribly hard to become invested in these people, because few seem to have any redeeming qualities. You've got industrialists screwing each other over, lawyers working for mob bosses, thug enforcers, teens-turned-terrorist, a religious zealot with delusions of grandeur, an emotionally frail mother in mourning and a couple of dead girls playing ninja in the Caprican equivalent of the Matrix - these aren't exactly the kind of people who inspire likability. Apparently, the remaining episodes of the show will now be aired early in 2011. Universal had just today announced the DVD release of Caprica: Season 1.5 on 12/21 - one wonders now if that will be delayed until after the episodes air, and if the studio will even bother with a Blu-ray release. (We'll try to find out.) Thankfully, Syfy has already greenlit work on another new prequel, Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome, which will follow the adventures of a young William Adama as a Viper pilot during the first Cylon War. (Inspired, no doubt, by the flashback scenes in Razor.) Yes, that's a war story... so Battlestar fans might warm up to it a little better. Personally though, I just REALLY hope that Caprica's producers learn the key lesson in all this. Next time, let's have at least a couple likable characters. Please?
(EARLY UPDATE - 10/27/10 - 1:30 PM PDT)
Okay, the early post will be a quick one so that I can get some more Blu-ray reviews up later today...
In announcement news today, Lionsgate has just set The Last Exorcism for DVD and Blu-ray release on 1/4/11 (SRP $29.95 and $39.99), along with After Dark Horrorfest Blu-ray Double Features: Volumes 1-4 on BD (SRP $19.99 each). They'll include Volume 1: The Gravedancers/Wicked Little Things: Unrated Director's Cut, Volume 2: Borderland: Unrated Director's Cut/Crazy Eights, Volume 3: The Broken/The Butterfly Effect 3: Revelations and Volume 4: The Graves/Zombies of Mass Destruction.
Fox has set Archer: The Complete First Season for DVD only release on 12/28 (SRP $29.98).
Warner Home Video has set NFL Super Bowl XLV for DVD and Blu-ray release on 3/8/11.
Warner and the BBC have announced Doctor Who: The Movie - Special Edition and Doctor Who: Ep. 63 - The Mutants for DVD only release on 2/8/11.
And Warner and New Line have set Going the Distance for release on DVD and Blu-ray+DVD+Digital Copy Combo Pack on 11/30 (SRP $28.98 and $35.99).
Meanwhile, Universal has announced Caprica: Season 1.5 for DVD release on 12/21 (no word yet on a full season Blu-ray, but I'd be stunned if there wasn't one coming), followed by Airwolf: Season Four on 2/1/11 and a Columbo: Mystery Movie Collection 1991-1993 on 2/8/11.
And Paramount and Nickelodeon have set SpongeBob SquarePants: Season 6, Volume 2 for DVD release on 12/7.
In other news today, it looks as though Warner and the NZ government have come to some kind of agreement that's made the studio decide to keep the production of Peter Jackson's two Hobbit films in New Zealand. Word just broke a couple hours ago. More here and here. Good news indeed!
Okay, let's blast you with a bunch of cool new cover art! Here's Warner's All the President's Men, Network (both due 2/15/11) and 10 (2/1/11) on Blu-ray, Universal's Caprica: Season 1.5 on DVD, and Sony's The Other Guys on Blu-ray (12/14) and The Official 2010 FIFA World Cup Film in 3D on Blu-ray 3D (11/16)...
Now, I'm putting my nose back to the review grindstone. Back later this evening with more...
All right, we've got another early post for you this morning...
First up, Dr. Jahnke's Hell Plaza Oktoberfest review of the day is a film on DVD from Breaking Glass Pictures called Someone's Knocking at the Door. And Jahnke's is a particularly amusing review, because he's friends with the filmmakers, and so his review is... well, mostly about WHY he doesn't like to review his friends' movies. It's pretty good - the review I mean - so give it a read.
Also here at the site today, our own Russell Hammond has once again updated the Release Dates & Artwork section with all the latest Blu-ray and DVD cover art and Amazon.com pre-order links. As always, a portion of anything you order from Amazon after clicking through to them via our links goes to help support our work here at the site, and we really do appreciate it.
In release news this morning, here's something of interest: I'm currently working on a review of Disney and Pixar's Toy Story 3 Blu-ray, which should be up for tomorrow. The reason I mention this this morning, however, is that the Blu-ray includes new teaser trailers (and a promotional pamphlet) that indicate that Pixar's The Incredibles is finally coming to Blu-ray this Spring. Also, it reveals at least a release month for Disney's Bambi: Diamond Edition Blu-ray - March 2011. Plan accordingly!
Warner has set The Ricky Gervais Show: The Complete First Season for DVD release on 1/4/11 (SRP $29.98).
Finally, MTV just set Jersey Shore: Season Two for DVD release on 12/28. United States of Tara: The Second Season will also street on DVD that day from Showtime. Also, CBS will release Mannix: The Fourth Season on DVD on 1/4/11. All three titles will be distributed by Paramount.
Back later. Stay tuned...
(LATE UPDATE - 10/25/10 - 1 PM PDT)
Boy the responses over the weekend to our Alien Anthology review have been through the roof! Looks like you guys are very excited for the release, which streets tomorrow, and I sure don't blame you. It's pretty damn awesome, and you'll soon see for yourself. In response to a couple of questions sent in by readers (like: "What happened to the James Remar footage?"), I've updated the review text here and there since I first posted it on Friday, so you may want to check back for the details - look for the yellow text. Also, several of you have asked about the final part of our interview with the special edition producer of the set, Charlie de Lauzirika. We wanted to wait to finish that until Charlie had had the chance to see the final product for himself. Rest assured it's still coming, and even after you have the discs on hand, it'll still be worth reading.
We've got a bit of major announcement news for you today...
First, Warner Home Video has announced the Blu-ray release of All the President's Men and Network on 2/15/11. All the President's Men will include 40-page BD Book packaging that includes an investigative timeline of the real events (SRP $34.99). Meanwhile, Network will arrive in standard Blu-ray packaging (SRP $19.98). All the extras from the previous DVD releases will carry over.
Also newly announced for Blu-ray release by Sony - just as we predicted a few months back - is the notorious Ishtar, starring Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman. It's due on 1/4/11 (SRP $24.95). No word yet on extras, if any.
Sony has also announced the Blu-ray 3D only release of The Official 2010 FIFA World Cup Film in 3D on 11/16 (SRP $39.95).
On DVD only from Sony, look for Good Neighbor Sam, PHFFFT!, Under the Yum Yum Tree, The Notorious Landlady and Operation Mad Ball on 1/4 (SRP $14.94 each).
And Ticking Clock has been set for DVD and Blu-ray release by Sony on 1/4 as well (SRP $24.96 and $30.95).
Meanwhile, the music documentary Bee Gees: In Our Own Time will arrive on both DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 11/16 from Eagle Rock Entertainment (SRP $14.98 and $19.98).
Shout! Factory is releasing ABC Family's Greek: Chapter Five - The Complete Third Season on DVD only on 1/11/11 (SRP $44.99). Extras include featurettes, cast and crew audio commentaries, a music video and gag reels.
Finally, Image Entertainment is releasing the horror/thriller Harpoon: Whale Watching Massacre on DVD, Unrated DVD and Unrated Blu-ray on 12/7 (SRP $27.97 for the DVDs and $29.97 for the Blu-ray). The film stars Gunnar Hansen.
And before we leave you today, our old friend Michael Coate has written up some good anniversary retrospectives for Back to the Future (for its 25th), The Sound of Music (for its 45th) and for The Alamo (in honor of its 50th). Be sure to check them out at the links provided.
(EARLY UPDATE - 10/25/10 - 4 AM PDT)
Morning, folks. Well... Halloween is almost upon us, so you know what that means. Yes, the final week of Hell Plaza Oktoberfest is about to begin! Dr. Jahnke's really been putting his nose to the grindstone, reviewing appropriately-themed DVDs and Blu-rays for you. To kick off this last week of the Fest, he's turned in a look at E1 Entertainment's Night of the Demons on DVD! Hope you enjoy it!
Meanwhile, in the interest of full disclosure, we should admit that Jahnke himself suffered a terrible reviewing accident over the weekend. Seems ol' Doc's Blu-ray player blew a gasket and threw a disc... right into his skull! Turns out those DVDs are pretty indestructible.
Don't worry though. It's really only a flesh wound. Jahnke heals fast. Fortunately, he'd nearly finished his reviews for the week before he lapsed into a disc-induced coma. All that remains is his final review of the season. And the good news is, he's at least semi-conscious and can talk - well... backwards. But still, that ought to be good enough! His lovely wife (the former Dr. Girlfriend) can transcribe it all bedside and send his final review in just in time for Friday! Now that's dedication, folks! Dr. Jahnke's a real go-getter. If you've been enjoying his Oktoberfest this year, be sure to drop him an e-mail and send him the love. We're sure he'll really enjoy... er, having your messages read to him.
On a related note, any of you know where we might obtain a lightly-used brain on the cheap? Human preferably (but that's not a deal-breaker)? Funny story... turns out you CAN'T just find 'em on Craigslist. Anyway...
In case you missed it when I posted it on Friday evening, I've completed our full and in-depth review of Fox's long-awaited Alien Anthology Blu-ray box set. The good news is, if you (like us) didn't think the Alien Quadrilogy DVD box set could be improved upon... think again! That's six discs of BD badass right there...
And here's a bit of good news from around the Net for you Battlestar fans: Syfy just greenlit a new series prequel pilot called Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome! It's the adventures of a young "Husker"-vintage Adama during the first Cylon War - essentially, the Razor flashback writ large. This was that project that was originally going to be an online web series, but apparently the network liked the idea so much they want to air it straight up and maybe turn it into a full series. Guess they've been watching Caprica too...
We'll leave you this morning with a look at the cover art for a few recently announced Blu-ray catalog releases: Universal's Ray (due 2/1), New Line's Pleasantville (2/1) and Criterion's Army of Shadows (1/11)...
(LATE UPDATE - 10/22/10 - 8 PM PDT)
Whew! It wasn't easy, folks, but I've now combed through all SIX discs and sampled every damn feature and extra - AND compared it disc by disc with the previous DVDs - and now my review is finally live: Fox's amazing Alien Anthology Blu-ray set is here at last! This bad boy streets next Tuesday (10/26) and it's real format heavyweight. The stunning new HD transfers of Alien and Aliens alone are almost worth the price of admission all by themselves, not to mention ALL of the previous Quadrilogy extras plus literally HOURS of all-new content created just for this BD release. I'll tell you: Blu-rays just don't get much better than this. I'm sure someone out there could theoretically create a more elaborate and comprehensive special edition than this... but I'm not sure how. After digesting the already massive Alien Quadrilogy DVD box set, I didn't think I could be surprised anymore. Well, color me surprised. One thing's for sure: You Alien fans are going to absolutely lose your cool over this set. I'll personally be watching this baby for DAYS. Somewhere in there, I might even sleep a little. But I doubt it.
Enjoy the review... and have a great weekend!
(EARLY UPDATE - 10/22/10 - 11 AM PDT)
All right, this Friday early post is going to be a very quick one, as we just got our hands on Fox's Alien Anthology Blu-ray box set! I'm going to try to get a review up by this evening, so do check back later.
Meanwhile, our mad Dr. Jahnke has delivers his Hell Plaza Oktoberfest review of the day for you, in the form of Shout! Factory's new Roger Corman's Cult Classics DVD release of The Slumber Party Massacre Collection! As it says right there on the packaging, these are "The Ultimate Driller Killer Thrillers!" You've got to love it when B-horror titles aspire to something, you know? Anyway, enjoy!
In release news today, IFC has set Marina de Van's Don't Look Back for DVD release on 11/16, followed by Johnnie To's Vengeance Kristian Levring's Fear Me Not, Andrew Cull and Steve Isles' The Possession of David O'Reilly and Stuart Hazeldine's EXAM on 11/16.
Sony has also confirmed Mother and Child for DVD and Blu-ray release on 12/14.
And Adult Swim's Freaknik: The Musical streets on DVD on 10/26 (via Warner).
All right, check back later today - probably later in the afternoon or early evening - and I just might have a review of Alien Anthology up for you.
All right... first up today, we hope you'll enjoy Dr. Jahnke's Hell Plaza Oktoberfest review for the day, which is none other than MGM and Fox's Invasion of the Body Snatchers on Blu-ray+DVD Combo! This is the fine Philip Kaufman remake from 1978, and it's a great little horror gem. It also looks fantastic on Blu-ray, so do check it out.
Now then, while we're talking Fox... the studio has informed us that there are brand new bonus features you can access on your original Avatar Blu-ray via BD-Live right now, today. If you have a BD-Live capable player with a network connection, when you insert your disc into the player a LIVE EXTRAS option will appear in the main menu. If you select this, new content will quickly download, allowing you to access preview video clips from the forthcoming Avatar: Collector's Edition Blu-ray. Among the videos you can watch now are a clip from a new CE extended scene (part of Jake's bar fight from the alternate - and I think much better - opening to the film), a clip from the CE's User's Guide for Avatar Deleted Scenes, and a Kauai clip from one of of the documentaries on the new set. Two more exclusive preview clips will be available on 10/26, two more on 11/2 and three more on 11/9. You'll get more exclusive new content each week leading up to the 11/16 release of the Collector's Edition itself. And you can chose to either download the clips to your player in high quality, or stream them for faster access. I've watched it myself today and it's pretty cool stuff. Do check it out.
Speaking of Avatar, I actually just attended James Cameron's Avatar Media Day for the upcoming release, so I'll have more on all this very soon.
And in a bit of other news today, DreamWorks' How to Train Your Dragon is apparently selling very well... as it should, given that it's a great little film. More here at Home Media.
For today's installment of the Hell Plaza Oktoberfest, Dr. Jahnke offers up a nice Twilight alternative for you: E1 Entertainment's Suck on DVD. Nice title. Right to the point. Plus, it's got Malcolm McDowell, so you know. Jahnke says it's well worth a look.
Also here at the site today, we've kicked off a new Giveaway, offering each of you the chance to take home copies of Warner's Harry Potter: Years 3 & 4 Ultimate Collector's Editions on DVD! Entries will be accepted until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, October 31st. Click on the links for instructions on how to enter and good luck!
Before we dive into the release news this afternoon, we're getting a lot of reports from Canadian readers that their version of the Apocalypse Now Blu-ray (produced by Lionsgate but released by Maple Pictures in Canada) has problems, including missing booklets and incorrectly labeled discs. Maple is already recalling and repressing the discs and will be making the corrected versions available within a couple weeks. I've contacted them to get a customer service address for you, and they've asked me to have any Canadian readers having problems with the Blu-ray release to e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please be sure to include your name, full mailing address and phone number. They'll be sending out the fixed discs as soon as possible. They seem like very nice people in the contact I've had with them, so I don't doubt they'll make it right for everyone.
Now then... in announcement news today, 20th Century Fox has finally set The A-Team for Blu-ray and DVD release on 12/14, just as we expected (SRP $29.98 and $39.99). Both will include the original theatrical cut and a new extended edition of the film. The DVD will also include audio commentary with director Joe Carnahan and an A-Team Theme Mash-up. The Blu-ray will add deleted scenes, 4 featurettes (The Devil's in the Details: Inside the Action with Joe Carnahan, Plan of Attack, Character Chronicles and Visual Effects Before and After with commentary by Visual Effects Supervisor James E. Price), along with a gag reel, the theatrical trailer and a bonus Digital Copy. Here's the cover art...
As you can see, Fox has also set Ever After for Blu-ray release on 1/4/11.
MGM will also release Rob Roy on Blu-ray Disc (via Fox) on 1/11/11.
Meanwhile, Universal has set Ray to for release on Blu-ray on 2/1/11.
Image Entertainment has announced The Lightkeepers and 16 Wished for DVD and Blu-ray release on 11/16, followed by Gerry Anderson's Space Precinct: The Complete Series on DVD only on 11/23.
Infinity is releasing Presenting Roger Corman's... Best of the B*s Collection 3: Escape from Prison on DVD on 11/23, including the films Swamp Women (1955), High School Big Shot (1959 - as a bonus), Women in Cages (1971), The Big Bust Out (1973) and The Hot Box (1972).
And Maya Entertainment has set Across the Line: The Exodus of Charlie Wright for DVD and Blu-ray release on 12/7.
Finally, a tip of the hat this afternoon to actor Tom Bosley, of Happy Days fame, who passed away yesterday at the age of 83.
All right... we've got a couple Halloween-themed reviews for you today...
First, Dr. Jahnke's delivered his daily Hell Plaza Oktoberfest reviews and it's a pretty interesting one if you haven't seen it: Warner's Splice on Blu-ray Disc. It's definitely one of the more unique such recent horror tales to roll out on disc in high-definition, so don't miss it.
Also today, our own Tim Salmons has checked in with a review of an oldie but a goodie on Blu-ray: Lionsgate's The Monster Squad: 20th Anniversary Edition! How can you go wrong with Stan Winston's take on the great classic Universal horror monsters? Answer: You can't. Enjoy!
And elsewhere here at the site today, Russell Hammond has once again updated the Release Dates & Artwork section with all the latest Blu-ray and DVD cover art and Amazon.com pre-order links. As always, a portion of any purchase you make from Amazon after clicking to them through our links goes to help support our work here at The Bits and we truly do appreciate it.
In release news, Possible Films is delivering Hal Hartley's first film, The Unbelievable Truth on DVD today, available exclusively from possiblefilms.com. Extras will include a never-before-seen documentary "featuring many of the director's most memorable collaborators like Martin Donovan, Thomas Jay Ryan, Robert John Burke, and the late Adrienne
Shelly." SRP is a substantial $35.99.
Image Entertainment has set the Australian horror import Damned by Dawn for release on DVD and Blu-ray on 11/9 (SRP $27.97 and $29.97). Extras will include audio commentary, a "making of" featurette and the trailer.
Acorn Media has a number of interesting DVD titles coming out on DVD and Blu-ray over the next month, including 20th Century with Mike Wallace: Politics & Presidents and A Mind to Kill: Series 2 on 10/19 (both DVD), Slings & Arrows: The Complete Collection (Blu-ray), Agatha Christie's Poirot: The Murder on the Orient Express (Blu-ray), Poldark: Series 2 (DVD) and Charles Kuralt's On the Road: Set 3 (DVD) on 10/26, Cadfael: The Complete Collection, Midsomer Murders: Village Cases Files, Agatha Christie's Marple: The Geraldine McEwan Collection and The Red Green Show: The Toddlin' Years (all DVD) on 11/2, and Bill Moyers: Genesis - A Living Conversation and Bill Moyers on Faith & Reason (both DVD) on 11/9.
And Sony has changed the street date for its The Films of Rita Hayworth DVD collection (Tonight and Every Night, Salome, Cover Girl, Gilda and Miss Sadie Thompson) to 12/21. Adjust your plans accordingly.
Finally, here's something cool: Shout! Factory and Rainmaker Entertainment are launching a contest related to the forthcoming release of ReBoot. They're looking for the most unique fan rendition of their favorite characters from the show. Fans have until 12/3 to submit their entries and the show's original production designer, Brendan McCarthy, will select 5 to be showcased on the DVD releases in 2011. Winners will be notified on 12/13 and will get a free copy of the complete series DVD set next year. Click here for more details at the official ReBoot website.
(LATE UPDATE - 10/18/10 - 4 PM PDT)
Just a couple more things for you today...
First, Sony has confirmed Salt for DVD and Blu-ray release on 12/21. There will be both theatrical and Unrated DVDs (SRP $28.95) as well as an Unrated Blu-ray (SRP $34.95). Extras on the Blu-ray will include multiple audio commentary tracks with the filmmakers, a Spy Cam PiP viewing mode, 6 featurettes (SALT: Declassified, The Ultimate Female Action Hero, The Real Agents, Spy Disguise: The Looks of Evelyn Salt, The Modern Master of the Political Thriller: Phillip Noyce and False Identity: Creating A New Reality), a Phillip Noyce radio interview and the usual BD-Live and movieIQ options.
Also, 20th Century Fox has set Laugh It Up Fuzzball: The Family Guy Trilogy for release on DVD and Blu-ray on 12/21 (SRP $34.98 and $39.99). The set will include Blue Harvest, Something Something Something Darkside and It's a Trap!
And a bit of sad news today, actress Barbara Billingsley, best known for the role of June Cleaver on TV's Leave It to Beaver, has passed away at the age of 94. More here at CNN.
Here's a little bit more new Blu-ray cover art: Universal's TEMP art for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and A Beautiful Mind (both due 1/25/11) and Fox's Laugh It Up Fuzzball: The Family Guy Trilogy...
(EARLY UPDATE - 10/18/10 - 12:01 AM PDT)
Greetings, everyone! And welcome to your Monday morning, already in progress...
So, Matt and I are not ashamed to admit we checked out a screening of Jackass 3D on Saturday. Yes, in actual 3D. I suspect one or two other Bits staffers saw it as well over the weekend. I don't think I'll ever watch the film a SECOND time, as the shock value just isn't the same on repeat viewing. But there were some darned good laughs there, as was the case with the previous films. Obviously, there's stuff that's WAY over the top too, but that's just all part of what you expect with Johnny Knoxville and the boys. And hey - the film was shot in NATIVE 3D! None of this 2D up-conversion business! Anyway, it's not for the faint of heart or the weak of stomach, but again... a couple laughs. Plus, Jared Allen of the Minnesota Vikings makes a cameo, which always works for this Vikes fan.
Oh God... do you suppose Paramount is going to release this one on Blu-ray 3D?! Well, the film made $50 million this weekend, so I'm betting yes... ;)
Anyway, I thought we'd check in early this morning with Dr. Jahnke's latest Hell Plaza Oktoberfest review, which is none other than Severin Film's Crucible of Terror on DVD - an oldie but a goodie! Jahnke's got another good line-up of titles to cover this week, so check back daily. Enjoy!
Back later with the usual news update and more. Stay tuned!
(LATE UPDATE - 10/15/10 - 4 PM PDT)
We don't often dabble in upcoming film release news, but as you may know we're pretty big fans of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings films around here. So this is just too good not to mention: Variety is now reporting that The Hobbit has just officially been given a greenlight by Warner and MGM to begin production with Jackson directing in February, with scheduled theatrical release dates of December 2012 for Part I and December 2013 for Part II. The films will be shot natively in 3D. The labor/union issues still have to be resolved, but still... not a bad way to start a weekend, yes?
(EARLY UPDATE - 10/15/10 - 2:30 PM PDT)
Afternoon, folks! Hope this post finds you all well.
In announcement news today, our friends over at Criterion have set their January DVD and Blu-ray slate, and it's another darned good one. Look for new Blu-ray upgrades of Army of Shadows (#385) and Robinson Crusoe on Mars (#404) on 1/11/10 (SRP $39.95 each), followed by upgraded versions of Sam Fuller's The Naked Kiss (#18) and Shock Corridor (Cat #19) on both DVD and Blu-ray on 1/18/11 (SRP $29.95 and $39.95 each), and James L. Brooks's Broadcast News (#552) on DVD and Blu-ray on 1/25/11 (SRP $29.95 and $39.95 each). Also, Eclipse Series 25: Basil Dearden's London Underground streets on DVD on 1/25/11 as well (SRP $59.95), featuring the films Sapphire, The League of Gentlemen, Victim and All Night Long. Excellent batch! Could Broadcast News be more relevant today? Here's some of the Blu-ray Disc cover artwork for you...
As you can see, we've also posted the cover art for Warner's Once Upon a Time in America (1/11/11) and Paramount's True Grit (due 12/14).
Meanwhile, Sony has set Mother and Child for DVD and Blu-ray release on 12/14.
Fox has set the animated The Dolphin: The Story of a Dreamer for DVD only release on 12/7.
Grindstone Entertainment will release The Hitmen Diaries: Charlie Valentine on DVD only on 10/19.
And there's a cool new indie start-up entering the Blu-ray arena: Midnight Legacy! They're currently working on their first Blu-ray release, Alien 2: On Earth, which will be coming out in a few weeks. We hope to see lots of great stuff from them going forward. Check out their website here.
Okay, that's it for this week. See you all on Monday!
Dr. Jahnke's Hell Plaza Oktoberfest review for the day is none other than Shout! Factory's next Roger Corman's Cult Classics double feature DVD: The Evil/Twice Dead! We're sure loving the work Shout! is putting into these little B-grade gems. Enjoy!
In release news today, 20th Century Fox has set Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8 Motion Comic Blu-ray + DVD Combo for release on 1/4/11 (SRP $34.99). "Wait," you say... "Buffy never HAD a Season 8!" Ahh... this is a virtual Season 8 done in semi-animated motion comic format, based on the recent Dark Horse comic series. Interesting, no? Extras on this release will include trivia, artwork galleries and a couple featurettes. Apparently, it's been available on iTunes for a few months already.
Speaking of Fox, the studio has also set Cyrus for DVD and Blu-ray release on 12/14 (SRP $29.98 and $39.99). Extras will include deleted scenes, a director's Q&A and multiple featurettes.
Fox has also announced a couple more catalog Blu-ray releases for January - Hope Floats and A Walk in the Clouds, both due on 1/4/11 (SRP $24.99 each).
Also today, it turns out that we were right - Warner's Inception BD/DVD/Digital Copy Combo WILL be released in special "limited" edition packaging internationally. It streets on 12/6 in the U.K., packed in a briefcase that includes a bonus booklet, collectible art cards and a replica top. Click the link to pre-order. It will also be available in France, and word is Germany will get a Steelbook case version. Again, there MAY also be U.S. availability at exclusive retailers, still TBA. Thanks to Bits reader Mišo K. for the link!
Meanwhile, Warner and TCM have announced a trio of new DVD collection releases due in stores on 12/28 (SRP $27.92 each). Included will be TCM Greatest Classic Legends: John Ford Westerns (She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Three Godfathers, Cheyenne Autumn and Wagon Master), TCM Greatest Classic Legends: Jean Harlow (Dinner at Eight, Libeled Lady, China Seas and Wife Versus Secretary) and TCM Greatest Classic Legends: Errol Flynn (The Adventures of Robin Hood, Captain Blood, The Sea Hawk and Adventures of Don Juan).
And while we're talking Warner, the street date for their My Dog Skip Blu-ray has been pushed back from 10/19 to 1/4/11. Adjust your plans accordingly.
Here's a look at the cover art for Warner's Inception (12/7), Sony's Salt (TBA) and Fox's Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8 Motion Comic, all on Blu-ray...
Back in a couple hours with reviews of DreamWorks Animation's How to Train Your Dragon and Universal's Back to the Future: 25th Anniversary Trilogy on Blu-ray! Stay tuned...
(LATE UPDATE - 10/13/10 - 6:30 PM PDT)
We've got one last quick update for you this evening with a bit of major release news: Warner Home Video has just officially announced the Blu-ray and DVD release of Christopher Nolan's Inception on 12/7. Look for a single-disc DVD edition (SRP $28.98) and a Blu-ray+DVD+Digital Copy Combo Pack (SRP $35.99). There were rumors for a while of a special "ultimate" edition packaged in a replica briefcase with additional swag, but that hasn't been announced. Our guess is that's being held back for a future UCE release (or it might be an as-yet-unannounced retailer-exclusive). Extras on the DVD will include 4 Focus Points featurettes (The Inception of Inception, The Japanese Castle: The Dream is Collapsing, Constructing Paradoxical Architecture and The Freight Train). The Blu-ray will add an interactive Extraction Mode "in-movie" viewing option, the Dreams: Cinema of the Subconscious featurette, the Inception: The Cobol Job animated prequel short, an interactive 5.1 Inception Soundtrack option with composer Hans Zimmer, a gallery of conceptual and promotional artwork, trailers and TV spots and the Project Somnacin: Confidential Files BD-Live option. Plus, there's this...
"Starting November 15th, consumers can receive exclusive, never-before-seen Inception content on their camera enabled mobile devices via Inception Snap Tags that will be placed on various Inception advertising materials. Consumers only have to snap a photo of the Snap Tag with their camera phones and send the photo via MMS to 95871 (for AT&T, Verizon, and Alltel customers) or as an email to email@example.com to get a reward. Different rewards will be offered on a weekly basis until December 7th when the final reward offered will be tied to the Blu-ray Combo Pack."
Yeah... this consumer's not likely to Snap-Tag anything, but whatever. There you go.
Back tomorrow. Stay tuned...
(LATE UPDATE - 10/13/10 - 4 PM PDT)
All right... we promised you another Blu-ray Disc review today, and here it is: Lionsgate's long-awaited Apocalypse Now: Three-Disc Full Disclosure BD! Yes, it's WELL worth the wait, so be sure to check out the review and do NOT miss the set itself. It arrives in stores next Tuesday (10/19).
Speaking of which... Lionsgate's Apocalypse Now Blu-ray includes a teaser trailer for Oliver Stone's The Doors "coming soon to DVD and Blu-ray" - meaning presumably a new special edition, since the film has been available on Blu for a while now. Better still, it also confirms that Lionsgate and American Zoetrope are working on a Blu-ray release of Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation for release in 2011 - excellent news indeed! [Editor's Note: I've contacted the studio and learned that The Doors is simply a reissue of the previously released edition.]
Okay, back to work for me. More BD reviews are coming tomorrow, including Universal's Back to the Future Trilogy, so stay tuned...
(EARLY UPDATE - 10/13/10 - 10:30 AM PDT)
All right, today is going to be review day here at The Bits!
And we're kicking it off with Dr. Jahnke's Oktoberfest title for the day - a review of none other than Universal's long-awaited Psycho: 50th Anniversary Edition on Blu-ray! From his review, it sounds like the disc has been worth the wait, so read on and enjoy!
Now then... be sure to drop in again later this afternoon for at least a couple more long-awaited Blu-ray title reviews. Good titles, I'm talking. You'll definitely want to check them out.
Really quick today - Bits reader Michael R. has just sent in a good piece of news for you Gladiator fans. Amazon.com apparently now has the corrected Blu-rays in stock and is shipping them out. He just got one mailed to him from the online retailer, and sure enough it has the YELLOW UPC on the back indicating the fixed version. So if you've been waiting for that confirmation to order yourself a copy, you need wait no longer. Thanks for the heads-up, Michael!
Here's a cool bit of release news from the fine ToonZone website that our own Todd Doogan (and a couple other readers) sent over: At New York Comic-Con this past weekend, Warner had a booth on hand to promote their Warner Archive line. The studio revealed that they're FINALLY going to be releasing "The Censored Eleven" on DVD via the Archive sometime in 2011. For those of you in the know, The Censored Eleven are a batch of vintage Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies animated shorts that haven't been seen since the late 1960s due to "offensive" content (including racist imagery and stereotypes, etc). They include Hittin' the Trail for Hallelujah Land, Sunday Go to Meetin' Time, Clean Pastures, Uncle Tom's Bungalow, Jungle Jitters, The Isle of Pingo Pongo, All This and Rabbit Stew, Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs, Tin Pan Alley Cats, Angel Puss and Goldilocks and the Jivin' Bears. That's certainly good news for fans of rare and vintage animation. We always hate it when a studio tries to sweep its past warts under the rug. In our opinion, it's best to just air them out and address them head on. Make it a learning moment, or what have you. [Editor's Note: Toonzone and the NY Post now say Warner's decision isn't firm: They MAY release these titles via Archive - it's not for sure. Let's hope someone at WHV grows a set of "balls that clang" on this one, because this kind of release is LONG overdue...]
Meanwhile, Fox has set Joel Schumacher's Twelve for DVD and Blu-ray release on 12/28 (SRP $22.98 and $29.99).
And finally this morning, 20th Century Fox and Fathom events are hosting a series special Sound of Music "sing-along" screenings around the country on 10/19. These will be digital screenings of the fully-restored film, designed to promote the upcoming DVD and Blu-ray Disc release on 11/2. Click here for details on the screenings and how to attend, and click here for a short video (over on Facebook) detailing the new restoration process for the film. Special thanks to our own Rob Siegel, whose Golden Hollywood column will be returning to The Bits soon.
Back this afternoon with those reviews, so stay tuned...
Also today here at the site, our own Russell Hammond has once again updated the Release Dates & Art section with all the latest Blu-ray and DVD cover art as well as Amazon.com pre-order links. As always, a portion of anything you order from Amazon after clicking to them through our links goes to help support our work here at The Bits and we surely do appreciate it!
Meanwhile, Lionsgate has set The Heavy for DVD only release on 12/21, followed by Fireman Sam: Ready for Action, Bob the Builder: The Golden Hammer - The Movie and Legendary Assassin on 12/28.
Cartoon Network Enterprises is releasing TNT's Men of a Certain Age: Season 1 on DVD on 11/9 (SRP $39.98). The 2-disc set includes all 10 episodes along with audio commentary by stars Ray Romano, Andre Braugher, Scott Bakula and series co-creator Mike Royce, deleted scenes, a gag reel and behind-the-scenes footage. The show's second season starts airing on TNT on 12/6.
Sony has set Sally Potter's Orlando for Blu-ray release on 12/21. They've also set Mother and Child for DVD and Blu-ray release on 12/14.
And here's an interesting release, no doubt timed to take advantage of the Coen Brothers' forthcoming remake: Paramount has just set the original True Grit for Blu-ray release on 12/14. Extras will include audio commentary by Jeb Rosebrook, Bob Boze Bell and J. Stuart Rosebrook, 4 featurettes (True Writing, Working with the Duke, Aspen Gold: Locations of True Grit and The Law and The Lawless) and the film's theatrical trailer.
By the way, CBS and Paramount have also set Gunsmoke: The Fourth Season, Volume Two and Hawaii Five-O: The Tenth Season for DVD release on 12/14, followed by The Andy Griffith Show: 50th Anniversary - The Best of Mayberry on 12/21.
(LATE UPDATE - 10/11/10 - 12:30 PM PDT)
We've got a couple more bits of announcement news for you...
First, Warner Home Video has announced the home video release of the comedy The Other Guys on 12/14. You'll be able to buy a theatrical cut DVD, an unrated DVD, and Unrated single-disc Blu-ray and an Unrated Blu-ray Combo pack (SRP $28.96 each for the DVDs, $34.95 for the single-disc BD and $38.96 for the combo). Extras on the Blu-ray include "The Mom-mentary" featuring commentary with the mothers of actors Will Ferrell, Adam McKay and writer Chris Henchy - no kidding - deleted and extended scenes, alternate action, Line-O-rama, Cee-Lo and Eva Mendes' Pimps Don't Cry music video and 6 behind-the-scenes featurettes (Wasn't That???, Crash and Burn!, Why Are There Brits on This Movie?, Rob Riggle Like to Party, We Shouldn't Kiss a Chicken and Mark Wahlberg's Eating Contest Entourage), plus the usual BD-Live offerings.
Also, Lionsgate has set The Gunslingers for DVD and digital download release on 11/16. The studio also has The Lena Baker Story coming on DVD and digital download on 1/4/11.
In other news, turns out that there are even more classic Universal titles up for pre-order on Amazon.com. In addition to the titles we mentioned this morning, we've now spotted Dazed and Confused, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Babe, Ray, Out of Sight, Blue Crush, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Billy Madison, A Beautiful Mind and Happy Gilmore. Keep in mind, all these are still unofficial and haven't yet been announced by the studio. Still, it would be good to see them finally arrive on Blu-ray, given that all of them were released by the studio on HD-DVD (along with about 50-60 more, still MIA on Blu). [Editor's Note: I've just confirmed directly with Universal that all these titles - and those mentioned this morning as well - are indeed scheduled for Blu-ray release by the studio in late 2010 and the first half of 2011. Expect them to be announced in progressive waves over the coming weeks and months.]
In OTHER other news, our friends over at the Home Theatre Forum are holding a live chat tonight with Kenneth Johnson, the creator of The Bionic Woman, in honor of Universal's release of the first season on DVD. The chat begins at 5:30-7:30pm PST/8:30-10:30 EST. Click here for more information. FYI, we will NOT be hosting a transcript, so if you want to check it out, do so at the link.
Hope your weekend was terrific. Sarah and I managed to take in a screening of The Town, and darned if it isn't one of the better films I've seen this year. Ben Affleck is definitely for real as a director. I'm actually really looking forward to seeing this one again on Blu-ray... and also seeing what Affleck's next project might be.
We've got a couple interesting items for you early this morning...
First, our own Dr. Jahnke kicks off the second week of his Hell Plaza Oktoberfest with a review of Severin Films' Psychomania, now available on DVD. Three words: British zombie bikers. 'Nuff said.
In news today, Disney has set The Sorcerer's Apprentice for release on DVD, Blu-ray+DVD and Blu-ray+DVD+Digital Copy Combo on 11/30 (SRP $29.99, $39.99 and $44.99). Extras on the Blu-rays will include 5 deleted scenes, 6 featurettes (The Making of The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Magic in the City, The Science of Sorcery, Making Magic Reel, The Encantus and The World's Coolest Car), outtakes and more.
Meanwhile, Synapse has set Vampire Circus for Blu-ray release on 12/14.
And here's something very interesting on the Blu-ray front that falls into the "unofficial" category, at least for the moment. A Blu-ray pre-order listing for Universal's 1962 classic To Kill a Mockingbird has just appeared on Amazon.com. (Thanks to Bits reader Pete G. for spotting this one.) Digging a little further, Amazon has also just posted Blu-ray pre-order listings for The Blues Brothers, National Lampoon's Animal House, American Graffiti and Hitchcock's The Birds. No street dates are yet listed, but SRP is $26.98 each (just $18.99 on Amazon). Now... Universal has hinted that at least a few of these titles were coming, but they've made no official announcements yet. Still, detailed Amazon listings are usually a pretty good indicator that discs are indeed on the way. Fingers crossed, the studio might FINALLY be getting a little more serious about their catalog releases. It'd certainly be good to see more classic films on Blu-ray from them. Anyway, we'll let you if and when the official announcements happen. In the meantime, might as well get those pre-orders in... ;)
Here's fresh cover art for DreamWorks' Shrek: The Whole Story Blu-ray and Shrek Forever After on DVD and Blu (all due 12/7)...