Today, Todd and I are very pleased to bring you something special: a
full length review of MGM's recent (and excellent)
Special Edition DVD, and a fascinating
with the film's director, Don Coscarelli. As you know, Todd and I
have been very busy conducting a number of interviews with those
involved in DVD, and the film industry (believe me, there are definitely
more on the way). This time around, we give you a look at a filmmaker
who works outside the Hollywood mainstream. Don's got some interesting
things to say, and a pretty cool perspective on his work, and the
business in general. We hope you enjoy the interview!
And speaking of interviews, all of the people we've chatted with
Coscarelli, as well as DreamWorks'
Jr., and DVD producers
de Lauzirika) would love your feedback about their work, and what
they had to say in their interviews. By all means, feel free to
e-mail us with your
comments (just be sure to tell us who you're addressing in the subject
line), and we'll be happy to pass them along. Like Todd and I, they all
thrive on feedback, so start feedin' back folks! ;-)
Speaking of Todd and I, we've been so wrapped up in site work and
interviews, that we've been a little lean on DVD reviews as of late.
Since Todd and I do most of the work here at the Bits
(with occasional contributions from Frankie, Sarah and others), it's
tough to keep all our bases covered. But rest assured, we're gearing up
to deliver lots more reviews soon, so hang in there!
One other site note: we've just updated our mirror copy of Jim Taylor's
DVD FAQ to it's most current version (October 4th). It's
definitely a must read if you haven't checked it out yet.
In other news, that Fortune
magazine article on DVD we were mentioned in (it's in the November 8th
issue) is finally available on the Internet. And thankfully, they've
gotten our URL correct (yeah!). So enjoy
Shalt Buy DVD. And thanks to Fortune
for the reference.
I don't know how many of your were aware of MGM's official
Bond website, but you might find some of the questions in our
Trivia Contest answered there (hint, hint...). There's also an
Jones website up now as well.
One of our site sponsors,
Express, was recently honored by Forrester Research PowerRanks as
the Number One online retailer for delivery in the books, music and
video category (see
release). Congrats guys - I know you've been busy beavers over
Looks like you British DVD fans out there are going crazy over Warner's
recent Region 2 release of The Exorcist.
The disc has reportedly set a new U.K. DVD sales record (see
Steve Gustafson over at DreamWorks has informed me that the DTS version
of Saving Private Ryan HAS
shipped. Supply may be short at the moment, but they're working hard to
make enough discs to meet demand, so you should find them on store
shelves soon. We'll post a comparative review in the next week or so, so
Columbia TriStar has informed us that they'll be releasing The
Big Brass Ring on DVD on January 11th, 2000. The disc will
include audio commentary with director George Hickenlooper and co-writer
F.X. Feeney, six deleted scenes, talent files, trailers and more. SRP
will be $27.95.
And finally today, Image
Entertainment has updated their
news page, to include a host of new Image-exclusive titles,
including (gasp! - and I mean that in a good way) a DVD of eight Davey
& Goliath episodes, an original Flash
Gordon serial with Buster Crabbe, and more Twilight
Zone episodes. VERY cool.
As always, thanks for reading the Bits!
And stay tuned...!
(EVEN LATER UPDATE - 11/2/99 - 5 PM PST)
This is just a quick update - Andy Patrizio just let me know that he's
follow-up article on Wired, about the DVD hackers who
cracked the CSS encryption, and how they did it. There's also a hint at
initial industry reaction to the situation - the DVD Forum has issued a
brief statement on the subject. I think you'll find it interesting.
Also, a Bits reader e-mailed me
this afternoon with an interesting comment about all this (thanks for
your thoughts, Dan):
"I found several articles about the CSS cracking just yesterday,
and I want to point out something you may have missed. A significant
portion of the work done to break the CSS scheme was performed to create
a player that would run on Linux. Due to the nature of the CSS code,
there was no way the Linux community would be able to redistribute any
code, if they were to license the required information. I mention this,
not to defend anyone, but to point out that the goal of the principal
parties involved is to be able to watch DVDs on their PC, using the OS
of their choice."
(LATE UPDATE - 11/2/99 - 2 PM PST)
All right... the new Trivia Contest we
promised yesterday is now on! Actually, we're doing something a little
different this month. We're going to be running a new contest each week
in November, and we're starting things off by giving away a copy of the
Bond DVD Gift Set. We've got lots of other great DVDs to give
away this month, and of course, another DVD player. We figured that by
doing a new contest each week, more people would have an opportunity to
win. We'd like to thank Ken
Crane's for sponsoring the November contests. They've got a
couple of stores right down the freeway from me here in Orange County,
CA. I'm definitely a regular customer - it's a great place to buy
hardware and software. This first contest will run until Sunday
afternoon (5 PM PST), and then we'll announce the winner, and start the
next contest up. So get your entries in fast!
By the way, I discovered a couple of technical errors in my post
earlier on DVD piracy, about how CSS encryption works. The errors have
been corrected, so you might want to read over the post again to get the
updated facts. Thanks!
(EARLY UPDATE - 11/2/99
- 8:30 AM PST)
By now, you may have heard that
has run a story - by our friend Andy Patrizio no less - that
digital pirates have managed to find a way to crack DVD's CSS encryption
scheme. And I've received several panicked e-mails, from people fearing
that this is "the end of DVD". So I'm gonna address this
issue, and try to calm the waters a bit. First of all, some explanation
as to how the pirates were able to do this.
DVD's CSS (Content Scrambling System) works like this: all of the audio
and video content on a DVD disc is encrypted using a 40-bit encryption
scheme. The keys for decrypting this content are stored on the same disc
(and are also encrypted, using the same 40-bit scheme). Each player (be
it a software DVD-ROM player, or a stand-alone hardware DVD player) then
has its own activation key (also encrypted) coded into its decoder,
which ensures that the device is authorized to read the disc's content.
This is an oversimplification, but basically what happens, is that when
the encrypted content data on the DVD disc is discovered, the player
decoder's activation key is authenticated, which in turn activates the
decryption key on the disc, thus allowing the decryption of the program
The CSS algorithm and keys are supposed to be secret, but as Jim Taylor
(author of the Official
DVD FAQ) says in his book DVD
Demystified, "anyone who thinks it will remain secret
for long is delusional." And such as come to pass. Being the clever
chaps that they are, a group of hackers in Scandinavia started looking
at the many software DVD players (for computer DVD-ROM drives)
available. All of these players are supposed to encrypt their built-in
activation keys, so hackers can't get at them. This is yet to be
confirmed, but according to Patrizio, apparently one (the
player) didn't do this properly, and the activation key was easily
extracted from the program's code. The result is a small utility, now
available on the Net, which strips away the CSS encryption, leaving an
unencrypted (and massive) audio/video file on your hard drive. This
knowledge in hand, these hackers were then able to successfully guess at
other activation keys.
Now before everyone starts panicking, and thinking this is the end of
the world, let's get a few things straight. First of all, these tools
have apparently been available on the Net for several months at least,
on pages loaded with "DVD Ripper" utilities. And no one is
churning out perfect DVD copies, that you can spin in your DVD players.
These files are 600 MB+ in size. So what some people have done, is to
convert this audio/video file (the .vob file) into more traditional
Internet movie file formats (.avi or .mpg, for example), at a
substantial reduction in quality, and copy them onto VCD-formatted CD-R
discs. In most cases, this is little better quality than you can get
from doing the same thing from a VHS or laserdisc source. If you tried
to copy the .vob file itself, and run it in your DVD player, you'd need
like 10+ CD-R discs per movie. It also begs the question, why would you
want to do this in the first place? What's the advantage of taking a DVD
movie, and turning it into a VCD of much less quality? Or simply
splitting a DVD movie in higher quality into 10+ discs? Well, there
isn't really any reason, unless you're a Hong Kong pirate, and you
routinely make lots of illegal VCD movies anyway - this just gives you
another tool to do so.
The real problem, will be DVD-R drives, and recordable stand-alone
DVD-R players (expected in the first few months of next year), which
generate discs that can be played in all current DVD players. These
would allow people to copy complete .vob files onto one disc. Now keep
in mind, that this hacked software doesn't copy and emulate all of the
authoring, so there's no menus and interactivity. But sooner or later,
these hackers will probably create their own custom authoring software
(if they haven't already), remedying this problem. It remains to be seen
how the Hollywood studios will react to all this. This isn't the end of
DVD as we know it, folks - I'm told by reliable industry sources that
there are a number of measures that can be taken to solve this problem.
But I would be surprised if the first move Hollywood makes isn't to put
the brakes on the introduction of recordable DVD, until such a time as
stronger safeguards can be put in place to prevent this kind of piracy.
Rest assured, we're working closely with some of the players involved
in this issue, and we'll have in-depth follow-up in the coming weeks.
And we'll be back later today with more, so stay tuned...
So did everyone have a great Halloween weekend? I wish I had a dime for
every copy of The Blair Witch Project
that probably sold or rented this weekend. And everyone remember to set
your clocks back?
We're wrapping up the hardware and software upgrades on the site this
afternoon, and we'll be back tomorrow with a full post to catch up.
We'll also be back tonight, with a brand new Trivia
Contest to kick off the new month. We're going to be doing a
new contest EVERY week this month, so there will be lots of chances for
you to win great prizes in November - a DVD player, the James Bond DVD
collection, copies of many of the Disney animated discs, and lots more.
I hope everyone enjoyed the
we did last week with Steve Gustafson of DreamWorks, about Saving
Private Ryan. I'm sure lots of you are waiting, money in
hand, to get your own copy of the disc tomorrow, and I don't think
you'll be disappointed. Todd and I have more good interviews in the
works for the coming weeks, so stay tuned...
And finally today, we wanted to thank all of you for your support of
the Bits. We found out this
weekend that we were mentioned in the November 8th issue of Fortune
magazine, as "a great site for news and well-written reviews of DVD
titles." The issue features a very pro-DVD article on page 201
(called Thou Shalt Buy DVD) - it's
definitely worth a look. Unfortunately, Fortune
posted our website address incorrectly (they left out the "the"
in "thedigitalbits.com"), but we appreciate the spirit and the
mention anyway. We work hard on the Bits,
but we believe it's our readers who make what we do possible, and
worthwhile. So, as always, thank you.
We'll be back tonight with the contest, and tomorrow with lots more.
See you then!
Today, we're pleased to present a
Q&A session, with DreamWorks DVD producer Steven Gustafson.
Steve answers some of our questions about the studio's DVD work, and
their upcoming Saving Private Ryan
disc, and more. It's an interesting discussion, and we think you'll come
away with a greater appreciation for the approach that DreamWorks takes
when it comes to the DVD format. We hope you enjoy it!
Now then, down to other business. You should know that Buena Vista Home
Entertainment confirmed with us yesterday, that BOTH the movie-only and
special edition versions of their upcoming Tarzan
DVD will be in anamorphic widescreen. That's music to our ears (even if
the premium price they're charging for these discs strikes something of
a sour note here at the Bits).
So you think two Episode I
bootlegs isn't enough? Okay... we're hearing about a THIRD now. Bits
reader Rick Siote sent us this scan of the cover of another bootleg
version, with different markings than the other two. This is just
getting more and more interesting, no? Thanks for the scan, Rick!
Sony Music also e-mailed us yesterday, with a list of the DVD titles
they're working on, and street dates as well:
Ricky Martin - The Ricky Martin Video
- Christmastime in Vienna, and Sesame
Street: Do the Alphabet (all 11/9), Donna
Summer - VH1 Special, Ruffhouse:
10th Anniversary Special, MTV -
The Real World: Hawaii, and Sesame
Street - 123 Count with Me (all 12/7), Ricky
Martin T.V. Special, Pink Floyd -
The Wall, MTV - Grind Workout: Tai
Funk Aerobics, George Michael -
Ladies & Gentlemen: the Best of George Michael, The
Family Values Tour, Kathy Smith
Personal Trainer, and Stevie Ray
Vaughan - Live At The El Mocambo (all 12/14), and Mariah
Carey - #1's, Woodstock '99,
Celine Dion - All The Way...A Decade of Song,
Black Sabbath - The Last Supper,
Andy Kaufman - Midnight Special,
MTV - Classic Moments, and MTV
- Finest Moments (all 1st QTR 2000)
And one of our readers just e-mailed us, to say that he spotted that
Saving Private Ryan DVD ad (in
review is quoted - there's also a VHS version) during the last
game of the World Series last night. Wouldn't you know - we completely
missed it! Still, we're kind of blown away by the whole thing. Not like
Todd and I are the Siskel and Ebert of DVD or anything, but we're still
honored by the mention - definitely a first for the Bits
on TV. And that's a LOT of people who may have subliminally seen our
website address! ;-) Our thanks to Chris for the spot.
We're going to be doing more behind-the-scenes work on the website
between now and the weekend, so updates may be spotty. But Todd and I
have lots more great stuff in the works, including more interviews, so
(LATE UPDATE - 10/27/99 - 10:30 PM PDT)
This is just a quick update to announce the winner of this month's
Congratulations to Harrison Shinn of Pearl City,
Hawaii! His name was chosen at random, from the entries of those
who correctly guessed all of the covers in our Name
That DVD puzzle. Thanks to all 1,141 of you who entered.
We're going to be doing multiple contests in November, giving away
another DVD player, and lots of great DVD movies, so check back soon for
your next chance to win!
(EARLY UPDATE - 10/27/99 - 12:45 PM PDT)
Today, we're pleased to finally bring you that interview we've been
talking about - a chat with the producer of the Ravenous
DVD, David Britten Prior. Todd and I think you'll find it an interesting
look into the process of producing for DVD, some of the difficulties and
challenges involved, and the reasons one goes through all of the trouble
in the first place. We talked with David for a good long while on a lazy
Saturday afternoon a couple of weeks ago, and we covered some pretty
wide ground - it was a lot of fun. David even gives you a sneak peek at
a couple of VERY cool DVDs he's working on right now with Fox, so you
definitely don't want to miss this (here's a hint - Brad Pitt's in one
of 'em). So it's our pleasure to give you,
But that's not all - we've also updated the
Mill today, with some just-in information from our sources, on
several good upcoming DVD titles that we can expect for the 1st quarter
of 2000. And our friend Reto Waeffler has sent along a scan of the
actual Phantom Menace bootleg DVD
- the new one we mentioned yesterday. Sure enough, it looks like a
completely new disc. You can get a closer look at the
Episode I bootleg here, and compare it to the
And around the Net today, there's a couple of press releases up at Yahoo
which confirm the information we reported a few days ago, about Tarzan
premiering on DVD on February 1st, 2000. This will be a movie-only disc,
for $39.99 (SRP). In addition, a Tarzan:
Collector's Edition DVD, will street on March 21st (for a
whopping SRP of $49.99), including audio commentary and lots more. We're
also hearing that it will be anamorphic (no word if the movie-only
release will be 16x9 as well). An Extremely
Goofy Movie will also be released on DVD on Leap Day -
Tuesday, February 29th.
And speaking of the Episode I
Force.net has a poll up right now, asking readers if they
would be willing to wait until 2006 for official Star
Wars DVDs, or would they be willing to buy a bootleg in the
meantime. Thus far, 28% would buy a bootleg, and another 23% would
consider it based on cost.
Finally today, is anyone else as surprised as I am, that Fox Television
has decided to cancel Chris Carter's Harsh
Realm after airing only three episodes (see
item)? The show got little promotional support, and you can't
really judge a show's ratings after only 3 episodes, in a tough Friday
night time slot. I mean, come on - there's nobody at home watching TV on
Friday nights. Even The X-Files,
which debuted in that slot, took almost 2 years to really catch on. This
smells suspiciously like someone at Fox harbors a grudge against Carter.
I actually watched the premiere, and thought it wasn't half bad -
hopefully another network will pick it up. Oh, well...
We'll be back to announce the winner of the Trivia
Contest tonight - you have until 7 PM Pacific to get your
entries in. Stay tuned...!
(LATE UPDATE -
10/26/99 - 4 PM PDT)
This just in - a Bits reader has
just informed us that he's seen yet another bootleg DVD version of Star
Wars: Episode I. Reto Waeffler, the owner of a
installation company in Switzerland, e-mailed me today with a
cover scan (NO, he doesn't sell it, and he can't tell you where to get
it, so don't spam him with e-mails asking). What we know at the moment
comes from his e-mail:
"Even though the cover says 5.1, the DVD features only 2.0 Dolby
Digital, no French Subtitles, but two different permanent subtitles I do
not know. The format is 2.35:1 and low quality, at about 3 MB/s (Pioneer
DVD player rating). I couldn't find the trailer either, but as the MENU
language is CHINESE or whatever FAR EAST language, I was not able to
read and navigate. There are six chapter on the DVD and the DOLBY City
We aren't sure if this is the same disc as
other Episode I bootleg we've mentioned, or just new
packaging for the same disc. But we will investigate, and will have all
the details soon. In the meantime,
here or on the image below for a closer look. Looks like
Lucasfilm's gonna have their hands full. Thanks again, Reto!
(EARLY UPDATE - 10/26/99 - 11:45 AM PDT)
Nope - we haven't disappeared. Sorry for the lack of an update
yesterday. We're installing some new software here at the Bits
- new ad banner software, and new webmaster screens, and it's talking a
lot of work to get it done. Part of the improvements we're doing a
little at a time here.
We've got that interview transcript ready to go - we're just waiting
for one necessary piece of information to come in before we can post it,
and as soon as we get it, we'll put it up for you. Todd and I have been
VERY busy, over the last couple of weeks, doing lots of new interviews
here at the Bits. Takes a lot of
time to research a good interview, then fact check and get everything
transcribed. But we're definitely working to bring lots of fun new
content to the site.
Over the weekend, I had the distinct pleasure of attending a get
together of Orange County, CA members of the excellent
Theater Forum. The event was hosted by Kevin Sorkin, and there was
a terrific turnout. We had great food, great discussion, and lots of
people brought prizes to raffle off - discs and things. I also gave
those attending an early sneak preview of
Private Ryan, and
Orbison Black & White Night, and let them see what a real
bootleg DVD looks like -
Titanic disc from way back. Anyway, I really had a great
time, and got to meet some good people, many of them loyal Bits
readers, and talk DVD with them. What could be a better way to kill an
afternoon? Thanks for all the hard work, Kevin! We'll have to do it
Entertainment has updated their
News Page, to include American Pie,
Men, Fast Times at Ridgemont High,
the original Dracula and more from
Universal, and lots of other good titles as well. Do check it out.
Thanks for your patience as we get some much needed upgrading done
around the site. We'll be back with more as soon as possible, so stay
Okay, we've finally got that review up. In keeping with their push to
release TONS of music DVDs, Image Entertainment is about to release the
live concert program,
Orbison: Black & White Night on the format (street
date 11/9). And the disc is one of the very first concert discs to
feature both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 on the same disc (and you can
switch between tracks on the fly)! I think you'll enjoy both the review
and the disc, so do check it out.
Speaking of Image, they've again updated their
News page, to list a number of new titles, including a Disney
Animated DVD Gift Set, and lots of Columbia/TriStar discs.
Disney's also creating a time capsule to commemorate the first-ever DVD
release of Pinocchio (see
release). In other news today, CEMA has reported their DVD player
sales numbers for the 2nd week of October - 30,856 units sold into
retail (we updated the listing above and the
I DVD auction on Ebay is up to over $300 clams - yikes. And
got some actual
screen shots of the disc (just slide about halfway down the page).
Finally today, the
Today has an article up on how the Academy of Motion Picture
Arts and Sciences has set guidelines for studios to send Oscar voters
DVDs to screen Academy Award candidates.
One important note: Buena Vista Home Entertainment has provided me with
their Consumer Hotline phone number, that those with the Halloween
H2O disc can call to resolve their situation: 800-723-4763.
That interview transcript we mentioned yesterday is being pushed until
Monday, but it will definitely be ready by then. Trust me... it will be
worth the wait. In the meantime, have a great weekend everyone! Stay
First things first - we've got a pair of VERY cool DVD reviews for you
Blair Witch Project: Special Edition, and Fox's
This has been a crazy couple of days around here (more on that in a
minute), but we've got another cool review almost finished - a look at
Image's new Roy Orbison: Black & White
Night, which includes BOTH Dolby Digital and DTS on the same
disc. We'll be posting that as soon as we can. Tomorrow, with any luck,
we'll have that cool interview ready for you (that we've alluded to
Well, you may have noticed some changes around the website. We've been
planning on rolling out a true Version 2.0 of the Bits
for some time now, but our daily work has kept us so busy, that we
haven't been able to do it all at once. So onto Plan B - a gradual
transition to 2.0!
Here's what we've done so far: the background has been changed, to be a
much smaller graphics file (thus loading faster!), and we've changed the
button bar on the left somewhat. Specifically, we've reordered the
buttons from top to bottom, to reflect what people are looking for most
of the time. We've also added a button that takes you to our
page, and we've done away with the Studio &
DVD News button. In fact, we've done away with that whole
section of the site. The reason for this, is that all of the DVD news we
post here at the Bits, tends to go
into one of two sections. Official information is posted in this column
on a daily basis, and unofficial (specifically yet-to-be-announced)
information always goes in the
We hadn't updated the studio pages in months, and having so many pages
to update every time news came in was really putting a damper on the
amount of stuff we could post every day. Plus, we were having a few
people e-mail us and say, "Why haven't you updated your website in
months?" Which would cause us to scratch our heads, and think, "Huh?"
So now, when you go to one of the old studio pages, you get a
redirecting you here. We've also made some changes to the
section, condensing some of the alphabetized listings, and adding
a page for special
reviews, like our recent
We're planning other site upgrades as well, such as a search engine to
access our old articles and all of our reviews more easily. Don't expect
them anytime in particular - we're going to just add and change and
tinker with things now and again until we're happy. And then we'll call
it 2.0! But the result should be a faster-loading, easier to use Bits,
and one that should be easier for us to maintain, letting us concentrate
on doing more reviews and feature stories. Also, I think we've decided
to avoid going to frames here on the site - it's just too much of a pain
in the you know what, and lots of people still have trouble with them
Yesterday, we talked about the possible release of Disney's Tarzan
on DVD next year. Word from a loyal Bits
reader, is that the new Winnie the Pooh
holiday video includes a trailer for Tarzan,
and says, "Coming to video and DVD February 1, 2000."
One last thing today - you may want to check out our fellow IGN
Force.net, which did a
editorial about the lack of Star Wars
on DVD yesterday. The editorial was prompted by
recent revelation of bootleg Episode I
DVDs appearing here and there. They also find it inconceivable that
Lucas wishes to wait until after Episode III
is done before releasing the series on DVD. Demand for the DVDs is high,
and people will fill it any way they can - even buying bootleg discs.
The bootleg disc has even appeared on Ebay
Well, have a good evening, and we'll see you back here tomorrow! Stay
We've waiting to hear back from Buena Vista Home Video, but it looks as
if they've got plans to release Tarzan
on DVD next year, probably day & date with VHS. The evidence for
this comes from
official DVD website, over at Disney.com. Slide on down the page,
and you'll see that they've got Tarzan
listed as coming soon, along with Inspector
Gadget (which is a December title). I think most of us
expected this - look for the DVD to be released sometime early next
We've got a bunch of upcoming DVD title information in today's Rumor
Mill, so do check it out.
Retailer Video City has announced plans for an aggressive rollout of
DVD products in their nationwide locations (some 77 in all in the U.S.).
here to read their press release.
Hollywood Video is hosting a video premiere party for The
Blair Witch Project tomorrow night (10/21) at their Wilshire
Blvd. store in Los Angeles. Directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez
will be there in person, and the event is being webcast live on the
here for all the details.
Don May, Jr. has sent over more cover art and menu screens for you to
sneak preview, this time for their upcoming DVD release of
Deadbeat at Dawn (click
here for all the details from Synapse). Here's the artwork for
Finally today, we thought we'd follow up yesterday's post on the
I bootleg with a cool casting idea for Episode
II. There's been a lot of criticism about The
Phantom Menace, for not being dark enough (or serious enough)
for adult fans - in short, just too much kid's stuff. So imagine casting
Chow Yun-Fat in Episodes II & III,
A) a Jedi Knight
B) a Sith Lord
C) Boba Fett
Chew on that one for a while, and let me know what you think... ;-)
Those of you who are thinking of picking up Halloween:
H20, should be aware that the disc DOES NOT include the DTS
soundtrack or the director's commentary track mentioned on the sticker
labels or the packaging. Buena Vista has gotten back to us on this, and
they tell us that the error is one of a packaging misprint. These extras
were apparently dropped from the disc quite a while ago (for whatever
reason), and the people who were doing the cover artwork and packaging
were not made aware of this. Buena Vista will be reprinting the disc
artwork, and they will handle the situation for consumers in one of
three ways: 1) you will be able to exchange your incorrect case
insert for a corrected one, 2) you will be able to get a
complete refund for returning the disc if you so choose, or 3)
you will be able to exchange the disc for another title of similar
price. All of these options will be handled by mail, and we'll have the
address and return/exchange information for you as soon as Buena Vista
is ready and makes it available. Most importantly, Buena Vista wants you
to know that this was completely unintentional, and they apologize for
the error and any inconvenience it's caused.
Now then... on to business. We've got Bond pretty well covered now,
folks. As promised, our full-length review of MGM's
to Kill: Special Edition is now available, completing our look
at this first set of
Bond Special Edition DVDs (which streets today). Todd has also
got a look at the latest entry in Universal's Classic Monster
collection, with his review of
Wolf Man. Speaking of classic monsters,
Bride of Frankenstein also streets today. And that cool Image
Animation Marvels is also now available.
FYI - Image Entertainment's
News page was again recently updated to include several more New
Line titles (Drop Dead Gorgeous
among them). And did you know that Disney's got a special DVD offer
going right now? If you buy all 9 of their upcoming classic animated
titles, they'll give you two others free.
here for all the details.
Finally today, we've had a LOT of people ask where you can purchase
I bootleg DVD. The Digital Bits
cannot (and will not), endorse the sale of bootleg discs, and so we do
not plan to provide that information. While I agree that George Lucas
could go a LONG way toward discouraging the sale of bootleg DVDs of the
Star Wars films by releasing even
basic editions of them, the sale and purchase of these unauthorized
discs hurts the format, and all of us in the long run. But you folks at
Fox and Lucasfilm take heed - to date, almost all of the films that have
been pirated on bootleg DVDs, have been pirated because of the very fact
that NO AUTHORIZED DVD IS AVAILABLE! If George decides to wait, as he
claims, until Episode III is done
before releasing any of the films on DVD, this problem is going to
explode. Heck - I'd even consider picking up a bootleg copy if the
alternative is having to wait until 2003! This is silly. Do you know how
many people would shell out for even basic movie-only versions of the
Star Wars films on DVD right now?
Pretty much everybody with a player. Hell, I'll get in line right now if
you tell me when and where. And I'll have no problem also paying $200
for Lucas' DVD special edition, blue laser, packed-to-the-gills,
ultimate smack-down, kick-ass boxed set of all of the films in 2003, or
whatever the hell. But enough is enough. Give the people what they want,
George. Don't string us along - you're the one who got us all hooked in
the first place. Well, now we've got our lunch money ready, and we want
the goods. It's time to deliver. Or else, your faithful fans will get it
somewhere else, inferior quality be dammed. And judging from the
HUNDREDS of e-mails I've gotten begging for information on how to buy
these bootlegs, they will find a way to get them eventually. Enough
Everyone have a great weekend? As you might have heard, we had little
rocking and rolling going on here in Southern California early Saturday
morning. Nothing like a little earthquake to get your blood going. It's
amazing how many people I talk to, who don't live in California, who ask
how we can deal with earthquakes. Californians, on the other hand,
always marvel at how anyone else can deal with tornadoes and hurricanes!
Guess no place is perfect, and it's all what you're used to.
Today's post is late thanks to more cable modem problems, but I've got
a full-length review of MGM's re-issue of the Tomorrow
Never Dies: Special Edition now posted. It's actually a
composite review, which also looks at the earlier DVD releases of this
film. And our look at the entire First Wave of the
Bond DVD Collection will be complete tomorrow, when we post
our review of Licence to Kill, so
One last quick note before I head off and start working on tomorrow's
post (the work is never done it seems) - I received a copy of Columbia's
new Muppets From Space DVD today,
and what a blast it is! The disc includes Ghostbusters-style
live commentary, except that this time around, it features director Tim
Hall, along with Kermit the Frog, Rizzo the Rat and Gonzo. It's almost
as entertaining as the film itself. This is a fun disc, and you can
expect a full review to be posted here very soon.
We've got come nifty DVD stuff to cover today around the Internet.
First of all, Warner held a brief chat with some of the folks who worked
on The Matrix DVD - you'll find
the complete transcript over at their
Virtual Theater. Keep in mind, that the biggest event by far
is yet to come - on November 6th, you can chat live with the Wachowski
Brothers (who wrote and directed the film) themselves! All the details
can be found on the site, so definitely don't miss it! You can read a
release on this event as well.
Our friends over at IGN.com
(of which the Bits is an affiliate
site) have managed to get themselves an
Fight Club trailer, created by David Fincher himself, for
all of you to check out. Can't wait to see this flick.
Express has a fun
promotion going on. If you buy any two DVDs from them that ship in
October, you'll get a Halloween PEZ dispenser free along with 'em. Cool!
We've updated our CEMA DVD player sales numbers, to include the 40,475
units sold in the first week of October (week ending 10/8). Check the
chart and the listing above for the details.
Finally today, we'd like to send out a note of thanks to the folks at
DreamWorks. We just heard from them today, that they've created TV spots
specifically for the Saving Private Ryan
DVD, which will start airing on your favorite shows as early as next
week. And they'll include a quote from our
of the disc here at the Bits.
What can we say but thanks, and we're VERY honored!
We've got a whole lot of great stuff lined up for you for next week,
including lots more reviews, and even some nifty interviews. We'll be
wrapping up our look at the Bond discs, as well taking a look at
Warner's new Wizard of Oz, and
Universal's The Wolf Man. We'll
also give Fox's Ravenous a close
look, and feature an exclusive interview with disc's producer. And we've
got another special interview in the works, that you will definitely not
want to miss.
So have a great weekend, and stay tuned!
Our look at MGM's upcoming
Bond DVD Collection continues today with a full-length review
of Roger Moore in For
Your Eyes Only: Special Edition. And we've updated our
look at the Episode I bootleg DVD, with a full-size scan
of the actual disc itself, so do check it out.
Entertainment has updated their
News page again, to include a host of upcoming titles. Among the
titles listed are The General's Daughter,
Presidio and Stalag
17 from Paramount, Mickey Blue
Eyes and a slew of National
Graphic DVDs from Warner, Farewell
My Concubine, Rogue Trader,
Summer of Sam, Supercop
2 and more from Buena Vista, and special editions of The
7th Voyage Of Sinbad, Dick
and Easy Rider from Columbia
we've got a few more
DVD Cover scans, including Mickey's
Once Upon a Christmas, Summer of
Sam, The Very Thought of You,
Supercop 2 and more. And we've
shots of the menu pages from the upcoming Disney animated DVDs,
this time with Peter Pan, The
Lion King 2, Lady & the
Tramp, and 101 Dalmatians.
Finally today, Don May Jr. has sent over the cover artwork for
upcoming Vampyros Lesbos DVD,
which is expected in November. The special edition DVD will feature a
new digital widescreen transfer, uncut German dialogue version with
new English subtitles, the "groovy" world famous dance
soundtrack (as heard in Quentin Tarantino's Jackie
Brown), and lots of other supplemental materials. All you "Psycho-Sexadelic
Horror Freak-Out" fans, look out!
(LATE UPDATE - 10/13/99 - 2:15 PM PDT)
At last, we've got some Bond for you! Our full-length review of MGM's
Special Edition is now up, and we'll be posting the rest
throughout the day. Be sure to check our special
Bond DVD Collection page for the others as they become
There are a couple of things I wanted to mention to all of you -
has the complete video of the spoof short film George
Lucas in Love available for viewing on their site. If you
haven't seen this, it's a very funny parody of the life of young USC
filmmaker George Lucas, as he struggles to write Star
Wars, done a-la Shakespeare in
Love. You can watch it via Real Video, or Windows Media
Player, so get on over there, and don't miss it!
The USA Today has another one of
DVD technical problem stories available, and the New
York Times has a
look at the differences between DVD-Audio and SACD.
Finally today, I'd like to point out some news that I find really
exciting (even though it isn't exactly DVD related). New Line Cinema has
officially announced the start of production on a trio of films based on
the J. R. R. Tolkien classic The Lord of the
Rings novels! Filming commenced on Monday (10/11) in New
Zealand, with director Peter Jackson (The
Frighteners and Heavenly Creatures)
at the helm, and Saul Zaentz (The English
Patient and Amadeus),
and Bob and Harvey Weinstein (co-chairmen of Miramax) as executive
producers. You can get all of the details at the production's
website, including last week's
release, which reveals the film's impressive cast and crew, and
ambitious production plans. As some of you may know, The
Lord of the Rings actually encompasses 3 novels - The
Fellowship of the Ring, The Two
Towers and The Return of the King.
Believe it or not, New Line is actually shooting all three films at the
SAME TIME (and not one after the other, like Back
to the Future 2 & 3) - the first time it's ever been
done. I can't wait to see what they come up with. Given the talent
involved, and the state of CGI effects, can you imagine how amazing
these films could be? Very cool.
As always... stay tuned!
(EARLY UPDATE -
10/13/99 - 3:30 AM PDT)
While up late working on the Bond reviews (what is it - like 3AM?), I
received something VERY interesting via e-mail that I had to share with
you immediately. You remember that Star Wars
Episode I bootleg DVD that I
while back? Well a Bits
reader has managed to get his hands on a copy, and he sent along a
long-awaited cover scan. Click on the image below for a much large, more
detailed look at it.
We'll have more details on this as soon as they come in. Just thought
you'd find this interesting. I know lots of you Lucasfilm guys read this
page every day - give me an e-mail
on this one and let's chat, shall we? Thanks to John for the scan, and
Fredric for first reporting it to us!
Back later with more...
The Bond reviews are almost done, folks. I want to post them all at
once, and I've got 4 reviews for you in all - Goldfinger,
Licence to Kill, For
Your Eyes Only, and Tomorrow Never
Dies (which is simply a reissue in new packaging). I've been
working hard on them, and will get them up as soon as they're finished.
And you can look forward to screen shots of the nifty menus on all these
discs, just like before.
In the meantime, we've posted Todd's look at New Line's
Corruptor (Platinum Series), starring Chow Yun-Fat and Mark
Wahlberg. I watched this disc myself recently, and I can tell you that
it looks and sound gorgeous - there's some really vibrant color in this
picture. It's a fun film too.
In other news,
is reporting from the Tokyo Electronics Show, and has word that
Panasonic intends to be selling recordable DVD in the U.S. by Spring
2000. Toshiba and Hitachi also announced recordable players for next
year. And you may be aware that last night in New York, Panasonic, Sony
and Toshiba accepted Emmy awards for technical achievement, for the
development of the DVD format (see
- note that Toshiba's statement also mentions their upcoming progressive
scan players). The most interesting thing I noticed in all of this
hoopla, is the glaring omission of DVD-Audio in the Sony statement, made
by Sony Electronics president and CEO, Dr. Teruaki Aoki. Here's the
quote: "This award is important because it not only recognizes
Sony's role in the standardization of the format, but our ongoing
commitment to the technology,'' Aoki said. "From DVD-Video and
DVD-ROM hardware products, to digital content creation, DVD authoring
and distribution, we have embraced DVD like no other company.'' Anybody
else find the omission interesting? I have 4 letters for you: SACD.
Guess they're not quite as supportive of the WHOLE DVD format as they
Finally today, we've got some interesting scuttlebutt for you on a pair
of major Fox DVDs, a "super" Warner flick, and a much-desired
Paramount series as well - look for it all in today's
This is just a quick update, to let you all know that our October
Trivia Contest has now started. We've
been so busy that we missed the September contest, and boy did we ever
hear about it! Seems a lot of people out there enjoy doing Sarah's
puzzles. This month, she's cooked up another of those "Name That
DVD" challenges. And we're very pleased to welcome aboard a brand
new sponsor for our Trivia Contest
- Access DVD.
I first became acquainted with Access DVD back when I was doing the Digital
Man Radio Show every week - Access DVD was a major sponsor of
the show. They're great folks, and they've got excellent prices and
service, so if you're looking to buy movies online, do check them out.
As for prizes, we're giving away a Pioneer DV-525 DVD player this month,
and the entire first season of Monty Python's
Flying Circus on DVD (look for our review soon)! The contest
will run until 7 PM PDT, on Wednesday, October 27th - we'll announce the
winner that evening. It's a fun one this month, so be sure to get your
entries in for you chance to win!
We'll be back later today with more. And just to let you know, the Bond
reviews were delayed over the weekend - Todd and I were instead
conducting a tag-team phone interview with an L.A.-area DVD producer,
who is currently working on some very cool upcoming titles. We'll have
the full transcript of the interview later this week. In the meantime,
I'll be working to post the Bond reviews later today. So check back
soon, and thanks for your patience!
Wow - I guess we didn't realize that September had 5 weeks, so CEMA
numbers just came in for week 5, and we've just set a brand new DVD
player sales record (and how!): 501,502 players shipped into retail in
just 1 month! The grand total for Region 1 thus far, is now: 3,725,207.
We've updated our
page, and the listing above. 4 million here
Those of you who read my Joan
or Arc review yesterday, know that I'm a big fan. Well, we've
got a cool link for you. CBS has their
of Arc website still up, and it's got some special edition
materials that weren't on the disc: lots of still photos, video
highlights, Real Audio clips of director's commentary on the battle
scenes, and an interview with the producer. Thanks, James, for the tip!
I'll be posting those Bond reviews starting this evening, so keep your
eyes peeled for them. In the meantime, Doogan's taken a good look at
of Frankenstein, so do check that out.
Entertainment has updated their
News page once again, and you'll find the latest on new titles
from Warner like Before Sunrise
(in 16x9!), The Big Sleep, Black
Beauty, Deep Blue Sea,
and lots more from New Line, HBO and other studios.
And none other than Don May, Jr. himself has informed us that
has just announced the DVD release of Organ,
by filmmaker Kei Fujiwara. The disc will SRP for $29.98, and is expected
in January 2000. It'll include:
· Uncensored Version Re-Mastered from Original Film Elements
· Presented Full-Frame in the Original 1.33:1 Theatrical Aspect
· Japanese Language Edition with English Subtitles
· An Exclusive Look at Scenes from Organ
As you can probably guess from the title, Organ
isn't for the faint of heart! Thanks to Don for the info!
We'll be back later today, and throughout the weekend with the Bond
stuff. And look for the October Trivia
Contest to start this weekend as well. By the way, thanks to
everyone who send birthday wishes via e-mail. Yes, I am an old man, and
yes, I had a great day! Thanks and stay tuned...
We've got another big update for you today. First of all, Todd and I
have each posted new DVD reviews. Todd chimes in with his look at Fox's
Days, and I've got the skinny on a pair of easily overlooked
(but absolutely not to be missed) new discs:
& Gromit and Artisan's new Joan
And we've posted more
DVD Cover Art as well. This time around, we've got some 20 new
scans, including a look at such forthcoming titles as Chinatown,
Wild Wild West, Creepshow,
South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut,
The Great Santini, Last
of the Mohicans, Patton,
Muppets From Space, Notting
Hill, Hideous Kinky,
Falling Down, Clan
of the Cave Bear, Star Trek: The
Original Series, Volumes 5 & 6 and more. Don't miss it!
Around the Net, be sure to stop on by
Entertainment, who have updated their
News page to include lots of upcoming DVDs from Paramount,
Columbia TriStar (can't wait for Heavy Metal),
Disney and more (including a slew of Image exclusives). And Sony Music
is bursting with good holiday cheer for their upcoming DVD lineup, which
includes family classics (see this
release), as well as lots of music DVDs (and
We got a nice surprise in the mail yesterday - screener copies of the
remainder of the films in MGM's upcoming
Special Edition DVD Gift Set. This new batch is as
impressive as the first (you should SEE the cool menus!), and they're
equally loaded with extras. We're already hard at work on our reviews,
and you can bet we'll be back tomorrow with full-length looks at Goldfinger,
For Your Eyes Only, and Licence
to Kill. I'm telling you, this Bond set packs some serious
bang for your buck - I'm really impressed.
Now then... I'm off for a rare day of fun and relaxation. I turn 32
today, so I'm gonna mull over the passing of another year, by sharing a
pizza and beer with my wife and some friends. Well, okay... I'm the only
one who'll be having a beer, but you get the idea. So while I'm out
enjoying the day, I hope you all have a great one as well.
Oh, one last thing - thanks to everyone who sent Todd e-mails while he
was out on tooth patrol. He got some 300 messages in all, and he says it
made his day. Seems like everyone's got a horror story about getting
their teeth pulled!
Todd, Frank and I will see you back here tomorrow. Until then... best
-----crackle of static-----
Hey everybody, this is Todd -- I'm breaking through Bill's Two
Cents to raise a cheer for my faithful leader on this site.
It's Bill's birthday today, and if anyone in my life deserves a spirited
birthday greeting it's good ol' Billy Boy. I really love this guy, and
I'm honored to be working with him, as well as Sarah and our newest
acquisition Frank Ortiz. Join me in singing a round of Happy
Birthday to Bill, on his 32nd year on this blue rock we call
home. Happy Birthday, Bill... keep spinning those discs!
-----we now return you to your regularly scheduled program-----
Today, we've got the first installment of our new
Notes editorial column. I wonder how many of you knew that you
can all enjoy the benefit of DVD Audio quality sound on your current DVD
players? Well you can - several companies are releasing 96/24 music
discs, that ONLY be played on your DVD player (but here's the thing -
they can be played on almost ALL current players). They aren't 5.1, but
having heard a demonstration, I can tell you that 2.0 stereo audio in
96/24 is damn near live-sounding. Anyway, Frank will tell you all about
it. Welcome aboard, Frank!
We've got another DVD review for you today - Todd's latest installment
on Elm Street series. This time it's
on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master.
Mill post includes a ton of new title information, including
word on Before Sunrise, Deep
Blue Sea and more. And we've got the scoop on what's
happening with a Chasing Amy
special edition - will it be a Miramax: SE or Criterion?
There are a number of DVD news stories and press releases available
today. First of all Reuters has run a
story on the problems people have been having with The
Matrix. Video City and Warner Bros have reached the
first-ever DVD revenue sharing agreement (see
release). And Bits sponsor
Express has officially launched its studio store (see
where you can purchase film-themed posters, hats, clothing and other
First of all today, we'd like to send our congratulations out to the
Bits' own DVD music guru, Frank
Ortiz. Frank and his lovely wife Jill are celebrating three years of
marriage today, and we think that's pretty damn cool. Way to go guys!
And speaking of Mr. Ortiz, he's been pretty busy around here lately.
We've got four new music-related DVD reviews for you from Frank today:
& Nancy, Palm Pictures'
King: Live in Africa, and Sony Music's
Jam: Single Video Theory. And Frank will be back tomorrow, as
well, with his first Frank's Notes
editorial column - don't miss it!
screen shots for Disney's upcoming Hercules
to the shots we posted the other day from Mulan
and Pinocchio, so do check them
Around the Net today, CEMA is trumpeting the excellent DVD player sales
in the first 9 months of this year - more than 2 million players sold in
all (see the press
release). And Fox is pulling out all the stops for their goofy 25
1/2 Anniversary re-release of Young
release). They air-dropped "The Flying Frankensteins"
into the tiny hamlet of Frankenstein, Missouri, and they're even
renaming the town! One thing to note: other than a new cover, the disc
is identical to the previous DVD version. Not to be a party pooper or
A couple of things you should be aware of: first of all, Buena Vista's
new DVD version of Who Framed Roger Rabbit
claims to include a theatrical trailer - it doesn't. The film has also
been edited, to remove a frame or two of "objectionable"
material added by the film's animators as a joke - it's not a big deal,
but it is altered from its theatrical release version. And Warner's new
DVD re-release of A Christmas Story,
which was originally going to include the anamorphic widescreen that the
previous MGM pan & scan copy lacked, apparently doesn't. Gggrrrr...
Our friends over at Columbia TriStar have informed us that the Ray
Harryhausen classic The 7th Voyage of Sinbad
is due to hit DVD on November 30th. The disc will SRP for $27.95, and
will include The Ray Harryhausen Chronicles
documentary, two interview featurettes (A
Look Behind the Voyage and Jason
and the Argonauts), This is
Dynamation SFX featurette, the original theatrical poster
artwork, several awesome trailers (The 7th
Voyage of Sinbad, 20 Million Miles
to Earth, Jason and the Argonauts,
Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, The
Three Worlds of Gulliver, It Came
From Beneath the Sea, and The
Golden Voyage of Sinbad), and talent files. I absolutely
can't wait for this DVD!
We've had several people ask when Image's Computer
Animation Marvels (which we
yesterday) will be available. FYI - it streets on October 19th.
Finally today, Jim Taylor (Microsoft's DVD Evangelist and author of the
DVD FAQ) e-mailed me yesterday, to let me know that the
article we mentioned yesterday was in error. Forbes
apparently didn't do its homework, because Pioneer and Philips already
unveiled the first DVD recorders a month ago. According to Jim,
Pioneer's recorder is based on DVD-RW (which is incompatible with MEI's
DVD-RAM), and Philips' recorder is based on DVD+RW (also incompatible).
Jim says (and I quote), "Recordable DVD is going to be an unholy
mess!" I couldn't agree more.
See you tomorrow...
Hope you all had a great weekend. I took some time to catch a couple of
great new movies: Happy Texas and
American Beauty. Happy
Texas is about a pair of prison escapees, who hide out in a
little Texas town, and... well I don't want to give anything away. But
you should definitely check it out - VERY funny with plenty of laughs.
It features William H. Macy, as a hick sheriff - a role that's almost as
good as his turn in Fargo. American
Beauty is a little tougher to describe. It's an extremely
well-created (and very biting) commentary on the modern Nuclear family.
And while it's well done, with some great laughs, it's more disturbing
than anything else, and I don't think it's as good as everyone is
saying. My biggest problem with it, is that the end is just WAY too
predictable - I mean, I saw it coming from a mile away. Still, Kevin
Spacey and Annette Bening are amazing. Just don't go looking for a happy
time at the movies.
There's word (via
an article in Forbes) that
Matsushita (aka Panasonic) will unveil the world's first DVD-Video
recordable decks at the upcoming Japan Electronics Show. According to
the story, product will hit store shelves in 2001.
We've got some great new reviews for you today. Todd Doogan (fresh from
tooth removal recovery) checks in with looks at
Arizona, and Image Entertainment's cool new
Animation Marvels. We've also got a look at some
shots from Disney's upcoming Mulan
and Pinoccho DVDs.