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page updated: 2/16/12



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 1/16/11 - 12/16/11)


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1/16/12

All right, let's kick off the new week here at The Bits with a new column from one of our excellent contributing editors...

Our very own Dr. Adam Jahnke has checked in with a new Jahnke's Electric Theatre looking back at his picks for the best films of 2011. It's well worth a look, so do check it out. You might even be surprised by a few of his choices - especially his #1 pick (which I agree, completely kicks ass)! Anyway, it's another great column so do give it a read and let us know what you think on his Facebook page.

In announcement news today, Criterion has official revealed its Blu-ray and DVD release plans for April! It all starts with A Hollis Frampton Odyssey (includes all 24 films by the avant-garde American filmmaker Hollis Frampton) on both Blu-ray and DVD on 4/10 (Cat# 607 - SRP $39.95 and $29.95). Then on 4/17, look for Hal Ashby's Harold and Maude (Cat# 608) and Robert M. Young's ˇAlambrista! (Cat# 609) on both Blu-ray and DVD (SRP $39.95 and $29.95 each), as well as Yasujiro Ozu's Late Spring on Blu-ray only (Cat# 331 - SRP $39.95 - DVD already available as part of the Collection). Finally, on 4/24, look for Mario Monicelli's The Organizer on both Blu-ray and DVD (Cat# 610 - SRP $29.95 and $19.95) and the DVD only release of Eclipse Series 32: Pearls of the Czech New Wave (SRP $69.95 - includes Vera Chytilová's Daisies, Jan Nemec's A Report on the Party and Guests, Evald Schorm's Return of the Prodigal Son, Jirí Menzel's Capricious Summer and Jaromil Jireš's The Joke).

Here's a look at the Blu-ray cover art for three of the new Criterion titles...

Harold and Maude (Criterion Blu-ray Disc)Late Spring (Criterion Blu-ray Disc)A Hollis Frampton Odyssey (Criterion Blu-ray Disc)

Also, Universal has officially set The Quest and Dragonheart for release on Blu-ray on 3/27.

Sony has announced a 20-disc Three Stooges: The Ultimate Collection DVD box set release on 3/27 as well (SRP $159.99). We believe this is just a repackaging of their existing Stooges DVD releases, but if there's any new content we'll let you know as details come in.

And 20th Century Fox has set The Killing: The Complete First Season for Blu-ray and DVD release on 3/13.

Finally this morning, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has created a new website to make it easier for those of you looking to exchange your defective copy of West Side Story on Blu-ray for the new fixed version. You'll find that here. Thanks to Bits reader Josh V. for the heads-up.

Back with new reviews tomorrow. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 1/13/12 - 5 PM PST)

All right, we're going to wrap up our CES 2012 coverage here at The Digital Bits today by presenting a rundown of the latest Blu-ray format and related market data from the BDA and DEG.


According to the Blu-ray Disc Association:

Blu-ray has now reached 36 million homes in the U.S., which represents about 33% of all U.S. TV households. There's been a 40% increase in 2011 over 2010. (IHS Screen Digest)

40 million Blu-ray capable devices are now in U.S. households. The difference between 40 million units and the 36 million homes figure cited by the BDA is that some homes have multiple devices. (DEG)

Blu-ray software sales increased 33% in 2011 over 2010. (IHS Screen Digest)

Of the Top Ten Home Video Software Titles in 2011, over 40% had a Blu-ray Disc in the package (standalone BD movies and BD/DVD Combos). That's a 27% jump over 2010. (IHS Screen Digest)

U.S. Consumer spending on Blu-ray software topped $2 billion in the U.S. alone for the first time. (DEG)

It's estimated that by 2013, virtually all new Blu-ray players sold will have 3D capability. (Futuresource)

Nearly 75 million U.S. homes now have HDTVs. That represents about 65% of U.S. TV households. (Futuresource)

By 2014 over half of all new HDTV displays will have 3D functionality. (Futuresource)

The initial 3DTV adoption rate is exceeding that of regular HDTV. (Futuresource)

Blu-ray 3D titles sales increased tenfold in 2011. (Futuresource)

The number of 3D titles available increased to 89 in 2011, as opposed to just 31 in 2010. (Futuresource)

The BDA reps we spoke with at CES also offered a couple of other interesting piece of information:

BD-R media costs are now low enough that they're one of the most affordable means of long-term data storage (video, photos, etc). Data recorded on high-quality BD-R media (from leading manufacturers) is specked to remain stable for decades. Sony in particular guarantees that recordings on their BD-R media will last for 25-30 years.

Blu-ray Disc players remain a better value than streaming media players, as they offer compatibility with nearly all recorded discs formats as well as offering the same streaming media and playback functionality for the same price.


Some additional market data provided by the DEG:

"Blu-ray Disc and EST continued to perform remarkably well with consumer spending on Blu-ray sellthrough up 20 percent and EST up nine percent for the year. Additionally, consumer spending on VOD was up seven percent."

"Blu-ray Disc has evolved to become the standard for home entertainment. Impressively, both new release and catalog sales saw double digit growth of 20 percent in 2011."

"Increasing the value of ownership for movie lovers, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Universal Studios Home Entertainment and Warner Home Video launched their first Blu-ray Disc titles with UltraViolet in 2011. The DEG estimates that more than 100 UltraViolet titles will be available in 2012. Lionsgate and Paramount Home Media Distribution also have plans to launch titles in 2012."

An additional note on UltraViolet: It's now compatible with both Android and iOS/Apple devices through downloadable apps (though not with iTunes). Also, UltraViolet aims to begin adding special features to its movie content later in 2012, including commentaries and more.


And finally, the Digital Entertainment Group celebrated its 15th anniversary at CES 2012, by announcing the following winners in their annual DEG Creative Excellence Awards:

Theatrical Title of the Year - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (WHV)

Classic Title of the Year (TIE) - Ben Hur: Ultimate Collector's Edition (WHV) & Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Fox)

Music Title of the Year - AC/DC: Let There Be Rock (WHV)

3D Title of the Year - Rio (Fox)

Other DEG Awards this year:

Retailer of the Year for Hardware - Best Buy

Retailer of the Year for Software - Target

Digital Retailer of the Year - Apple

And the DEG Emiel N. Petrone Digital Innovation Awards:

Best Physical Media Product - Panasonic's DMP-BDT310 3D Blu-ray Disc Player

Best Digital Media Product - Pioneer's X-SMC4-BK Elite Music Tap System

Most Innovative Home Entertainment Product - Sony's VPL-VW1000ES 4K Projector

--

All right, that wraps our Digital Bits coverage of CES 2012! Hope you've found it interesting. We'll be back on Monday with the latest release news and more, so have a great weekend and we'll see you then!

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/13/12 - 2:30 PM PST)

All right... for the first our last couple of CES 2012 posts here at The Bits, I'll start with some general thoughts, then offer a rundown of some of the new Blu-ray players that were on display at the show.

The thing Adam and me were most surprised about was how little truly buzz-worthy gadgets were on display at the show, at least from the home theatre perspective. Mostly what we saw was refinements of existing technology. For HDTVs, larger screen sizes were popular (Mitsubishi had a 92" 3DTV on display and there were larger ones as well), as were ever thinner displays (as thin as 0.4mm in the Samsung booth). Organic LED (OLED) made a big splash, as did demonstrations of 4K and even 8K in the Sharp booth and elsewhere. On the resolution front, 8K (a.k.a. HNK's Super Hi-Vision) was impressive but it seemed to both Adam and myself that it wasn't quite as good as we expected, probably because there are still significant refinements needed to both the display and camera equipment. What I mean by not as impressive as we expected, is that they just didn't seem to over as much improvement over the 4K displays as 4K seems to offer over traditional 1080p HD. To be fair, thought, that could also have been the choice of 8K demo video. By contrast, the 4K displays in the Sharp booth showing actual native 4K imagery (pastoral scenes, fields of flowers and the like) were stunning - almost like looking out a window.

Also on display at CES 2012 were LOTS and LOTS of 3DTVs, using both active and passive glasses. I'll give the active manufacturers credit - they're getting better. My problem with active is that, even though they deliver true 1080p, the glasses can be bulky and I actually have tended to notice eye strain when using them. This year through, the active glasses are significantly lighter and less cumbersome. They're also cheaper. Best of all, the active processing seems to have been improved to the point where - if you control the viewing space properly to completely eliminate screen reflections and other unwanted distractions - the viewing experience causes much less eye strain. Still, the passive 3D people are making great strides as well. Certainly it's still not a full 1080p 3D experience, but a couple of the manufacturers we spoke with suggested that this problem could be overcome with 4K displays using passive glasses. Virtually all of the 4K displays we saw at CES this year (and even a couple Blu-ray players - more on that in a moment) offered 1080p upconverting to 4K, with digital processing designed to enhance detail. The upconverting wasn't perfect, but it was pretty damn impressive. With proper calibration, 4K displays could really make a splash with 1080p Blu-ray content, even without native 4K material to view.

Of course, the thing we were most looking forward to seeing at the show this year is autostereoscopic 3D demonstrations, and there were several on the show floor from many manufacturers, including prototypes from Sony (24" and 46"), Toshiba (55") and others. Our general impression was that these autostereo demos were definitely better than last year, but still a few years away from being ready for primetime. The effect of depth was good, but if you shifted your head from side to side there were noticeable banding artifacts. And the whole experience was still too much like looking at one of those lenticular hologram cards. So slow progress, but progress none the less. Sony did have one other interesting thing on display on the autostereo 3D front - a Sony VAIO desktop with an autostereoscopic 3D screen that they claim will be available later this year.

Also on the 3D front was a lot more 3DTVs (and again the odd Blu-ray player) that can convert 2D high-def material to 3D "on the fly". And there was one company, Ultra-D, that was not only doing on the fly 3D conversion but also showing it on their own autostereoscopic displays. Again, the results are mixed at best, but it seems that this is going to be a major growth area going forward. And as the processing and glasses-free 3D displays get better, it could start to get interesting.

Naturally, the biggest in-roads in HD displays this year seems to be in the area of ever greater connectivity, Wi-Fi, "Smart TV" functionality, smoother and more intuitive UI and app driven content. So much was on display in this area, in fact, that it's hard to really know where to begin in describing it. There were literally hundreds of models on display on the CES 2012 show floor, and each manufacturer seems to be pushing into different areas. Samsung is using apps to drive TONS of programming and content - including 3D material (notably NBC Universal's Battlestar Galactica TV series upconverted to 3D was on display in their booth) - to their displays. Sony tends to push the social networking experience on their displays. All of them seem to be trying to blur the lines between smartphones, tablets, PCs, HDTVs and the Internet to the point that you can access virtually any content you want on any device, you can communicate with them, they can all talk to and coordinate data each other, and the "smart" device learns your preferences and gets better at recommending content.

On the Blu-ray Disc player front, again the trends were all about smaller and slimmer size profiles, more apps and "Smart" connectivity, 3D upconverting of 2D and even upconverting of 1080p to 4K.

Sony offerings included the BDP-S320 (due Feb - includes Wi-Fi, network connectivity for streaming video and music and smartphone remote functionality), the BDP-S590 (Feb - adds 3D to the S320's features), the BDP-790 (Apr - all of the above plus "Super Bit Mapping", 4K upconverting and Skype), the BDP-SX910 (Spring - portable with a 9" display) and the NSZ-GP9 (early Summer - 3D, touch pad remote with 3-access motion and finger gesture control, Android app store and Google TV). According to Sony, Super Bit Mapping employs 14-bit HD video processing which "improves color processing and results in smoother color gradations" over the standard 8-bit processing in most BD players.

Panasonic meanwhile offered up a whopping NINE new models at CES 2012, including 4 3D models with Wi-Fi, Viera Connect and apps - the DMP-BDT220, DMP-BDT500 (adds a touch pad remote), the DMP-BDT320 (all of that plus slot-loading) and the super slim DMP-BBT01 (a small slot-loader about the size of a trade paperback book). For 2D fans, there's also the DMP-BD77 (Wi-Fi ready) and DMP-BD87 (full Wi-Fi). Then they also added a trio of "home theatre in a box" models, including the SC-BTT490, SC-BTT195 and SC-BTT190 (all expected in April). The SC-BTT490 offers a pair of additional HDMI inputs.

Samsung meanwhile, is launching new BD players with a feature they call "Disc to Digital" that allows consumers to use their Blu-ray and DVD discs to unlock UltraViolet digital copy versions of those same films "in the cloud" for viewing anywhere. Two models in particular were on display in their booth, both of which are also 3D and Wi-Fi capable - the BD-ES6000 (with a super-small, cubic form factor) and the high-end BD-E6500 (which includes a pair of additional HDMI inputs for "pass-through" connectivity of additional HD devices to your HDTV through the player, like videogame consoles, cable boxes, etc).

Pioneer released a number of new Blu-ray player models late last year, so at the CES 2012 they choose to focus on BD burners. Notably, they unveiled the world's smallest external Blu-ray Disc burner, the BDR-XD04, at the show.

Toshiba had 4 new models on hand, including the BDX-2300 (Wi-Fi ready), BDX-3300 (Wi-Fi), BDX-4300 (Wi-Fi ready and 3D) and BDX-5300 (Wi-Fi and 3D).

Finally, Vizio announced the 3D capable VBR-370 as well as the VBR-430, which is a streaming media player that includes an on-board Blu-ray player.

So that's a rundown of the key and most notable Blu-ray player offerings and CES 2012. Pictures of at least some of them (as well as HDTVs and more) can be found on our new CES 2012 Photo Gallery on The Bits' Facebook page.

Back later with a quick wrap-up and some comments on the latest Blu-ray format data from the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) and the Digital Entertainment Group (DEG).

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 1/12/12 - 2:15 PM PST)

Afternoon, folks! Still working on more CES coverage here, but in the meantime we thought you might enjoy this. It's the complete video of the Bond Director's Panel from CES on Tuesday afternoon (also available here from UStream).



Enjoy and stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/12/12 - 12:01 AM PST)

All right, we've uploaded a gallery of Digital Bits @ CES 2012 photos to Facebook (on my personal page and also The Digital Bits page). These were mostly taken on (and around) the show floor on Monday and Tuesday afternoon. There's a few interesting things in there, so feel free to check them out if you like.

Meanwhile, let's wrap up the rest of the new and recent Blu-ray and DVD announcement news from the past couple of days here...

Paramount has announced the recent remake of Footloose for release on Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy Combo and DVD on 3/6. Extras on the Blu-ray will include audio commentary by director Craig Brewer, 4 featurettes (Jump Back: Re-Imagining Footloose, Everybody Cut: The Stars of Footloose, Dancing with the Footloose Stars and Footloose Rap), deleted scenes with optional commentary and 3 music videos (Footloose by Blake Shelton, Fake ID by Big & Rich and Holding Out for a Hero by Ella Mae Bowen). The DVD version will include only the commentary, deleted scenes and Fake ID video.

Also on 3/6, Paramount will deliver Like Crazy on Blu-ray and DVD.

Meanwhile, Comedy Central and Paramount have set South Park: The Complete Fifteenth Season for Blu-ray and DVD release on 3/27. Extras will include deleted scenes, the 6 Days to Air: The Making of South Park documentary and the Behind-the-Scenes of City Sushi featurette.

And CBS (also via Paramount) will release Bob: The Complete Series on DVD on 4/3, followed by Laverne & Shirley: The Fifth Season on DVD on 4/10.

In other release news, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has set Tarsem Singh's Immortals for Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack, Blu-ray and DVD on 3/6. The Blu-ray versions will include an alternate opening, 2 alternate endings, deleted scenes, 2 featurettes (It's No Myth and Caravaggio Meets Fight Club: Tarsem's Vision) and the Immortals: Gods & Heroes graphic novel.

Warner will be re-releasing the Citizen Kane: Ultimate Collector's Edition in Blu-ray Book packaging sans swag next week on 1/17 (SRP $35.99). Warner has also announced a new TV DVD title for release on 4/17... Eight is Enough: The Complete First Season. The 2-disc set will include all 9 episodes (SRP $24.98). And look for Happiness is... Peanuts: Team Snoopy on DVD only on 5/8 (SRP $14.97).

Universal has set the Easter, CG-animated film HOP for release on Blu-ray/DVD Combo and DVD on 3/23. Extras will include the new Phil's Dance Party short, The World of HOP interactive map experience, 6 featurettes (All Access with Cody Simpson, Russell Brand: Being the Bunny, Russell Brand's Kid Crack Ups, Carlos on Carlos: The Premiere According to Carlos, Emotion in Motion: The Dance of Ken Daurio and Post Coup Commentary: Carlos & Phil Tell All) and 3 interactive games (E.B.'s Candy Challenge, Drum Along and Pink Beret Skill Tester), plus Digital Copy and UltraViolet versions and the usual BD-Java and BD-Live extras.

Universal also has Columbus Circle due on Blu-ray and DVD on 3/6.

Here's something fun for you classic animated TV fans: Shout! Factory has announced the DVD release of Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales: The Complete Collection on 3/6! The 6-disc set will include all 70 classic episodes, a featurette, commentaries (with voice actors Larry Storch and Bradley Bolke, co-creator Buck Biggers and author Mark Arnold) and a 20-page book. From the press release: "The box set contains the first season of Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales, from 1963, in its entirety, assembled to mirror the program’s original run, which included The King and Odie and The Hunter cartoons. The Tennessee Tuxedo episodes from Seasons Two and Three have been recreated to include the Tooter Turtle and Klondike Kat cartoons, rounding out this collection of classic animated TV."

Lionsgate has set Wallace & Gromit's World of Invention for Blu-ray and DVD release on 3/13, along with Stuck Between Stations on DVD only. That will be followed by Snow White: A Deadly Summer on DVD only on 3/20 and the Breaking Wind: Unrated Director's Cut on DVD only on 3/27.

Bravo is releasing a number of TV DVD titles on 2/7 exclusively at Target stores, including Tabatha's Salon Takeover: Season Two, Real Housewives of Orange County: Season Six and The Rachel Zoe Project: Season Four.

And Film Chest is releasing the cheesy, 1971 sci-fi film ZAAT (a.k.a. The Blood Waters of Dr. Z) on Blu-ray/DVD Combo on 2/21 as part of their CULTRA and HD Cinema Classics Labels (SRP $19.99). And yes, it's remastered and restored. Fish men beware!

Here's a look at the BD cover art for Fox's Immortals, Paramount's Footloose (2011) and Universal's Harvey and Out of Africa Blu-rays (due 3/6), as well as DVD art for Shout! Factory's Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales: The Complete Collection and Underdog: The Complete Series (due on 2/12)...

Immortals (Blu-ray Disc)Footloose (2011 - Blu-ray Disc)Harvey (Blu-ray Disc)

Out of Africa (Blu-ray Disc)Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales: The Complete Collection (DVD)Underdog: The Complete Series (DVD)

We'll be back later this afternoon with another post or two about CES - some general impressions, comments on things we saw at the show, a bit of assorted hardware news and fresh Blu-ray format data from the DEG.

See you then!

(LATE UPDATE - 1/11/12 - 2:30 PM PST)

All right, we've already talked about Bond 50 but we've still got quite a lot of new announcement ground to cover this afternoon, so let's keep going...

First, an update on a title we mentioned last week: Sony has informed us that they jumped the gun a little bit on the Monty Python and the Holy Grail Blu-ray information. The info we posted on Friday came straight from their home video press site, but apparently it wasn't supposed to be there quite yet and some of the details were incorrect (for example, it's not a 35th Anniversary Edition). The upshot is this: The title IS definitely coming very soon and it's expected to be officially announced in the next week or so. Also, there will apparently be some newly-created special features that were not mentioned in our Friday post. So just press the "hold" button on that one for a few days or so and we'll have all the official details and artwork probably next week.

Now then, here's another biggie: Universal has officially unveiled their 100th anniversary celebration logo and released some initial details about their catalog restoration and Blu-ray release plans for this year. Specifically, some 13 key classics are getting fully remastered and restored over the course of 2012, including To Kill a Mockingbird, All Quiet on the Western Front, Out of Africa, The Birds, Buck Privates, Dracula (1931 - both the U.S. and Spanish versions, so two titles there technically), Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, Jaws, Schindler's List, Pillow Talk and The Sting. Many of these films will also be released on Blu-ray Disc as part of this effort (the first three already announced are To Kill a Mockingbird for 1/31, All Quiet on the Western Front for 2/14 and Out of Africa for 3/6 - we've posted art and specs previously). E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial is also officially confirmed to be coming this year on Blu from the studio, along with additional special edition releases on Blu-ray and DVD, as well as the long-awaited debut of major Blu-ray collections including Universal's Classic Monster and Alfred Hitchcock series. Street dates for most are still TBA. The studio has also created an official website for information about the anniversary celebration - Universal 100th.com. Here's a look the spiffy new logo...

Universal 100th logo

Now then... probably the announcement that's going to get many of you most excited next (after Bond and Universal 100), is that Anchor Bay has officially revealed that they're bringing Kinju Fukasaku's legendary Battle Royale to Blu-ray and DVD here in the U.S. on 3/20! The original film was released in Japan in 2000, based on a novel by Koushun Takami, and was followed by a sequel, Battle Royale II: Requiem, in 2003. But the films have never been released on disc here in the States before until now. Anchor Bay will bring BOTH unrated films together in their Battle Royale: The Complete Collection on Blu-ray and DVD (SRP $49.99 and $44.98). The original Battle Royale will also be released separately on Blu-ray and DVD on 3/20 as well (SRP $29.99 and $24.98). Back to Battle Royale: The Complete Collection - both versions will be 4-disc sets. Disc One will include the Battle Royale: Director's Cut (122 mins). Disc Two will include the Battle Royale: Theatrical Cut (113 mins). Disc Three will be offer the Battle Royale II: Requiem - Director's Cut (133 mins). Those discs will be BDs or DVDs depending on which version you purchase. Audio on Battle Royale will include Japanese and English Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks on DVD (with optional English subtitles) and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 7.1 and English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 on Blu-ray (again with optional English subs). Battle Royale II will offer only Japanese audio with English subs. Then Disc Four in both versions will be a special features DVD disc that includes The Making of Battle Royale and Battle Royale documentaries, 8 featurettes & video clips (Battle Royale Press Conference, Instructional Video: Birthday Version, Audition & Rehearsal Footage, Special Effects Comparison, Tokyo International Film Festival 2000, Basketball Scene Rehearsals, Behind the Scenes and Filming On-Set), the original theatrical trailer, a "special edition" TV spot and the "Tarantino Version" TV spot. Here's a look at the cover artwork for both versions of Battle Royale: The Complete Collection and both the Blu-ray and DVD versions of Battle Royale by itself...

Battle Royale: The Complete Collection (DVD)Battle Royale: The Complete Collection (Blu-ray Disc)Chinatown (Blu-ray Disc)

Battle Royale (DVD)Battle Royale (Blu-ray Disc)Wizards: 35th Anniversay Edition (Blu-ray Disc)

Next up (as you can see from the cover art above), Paramount has just announced Roman Polanski's Chinatown for Blu-ray release on 4/3 (SRP $24.99). Extras will include audio commentary with Robert Towne and David Fincher, the 3-part Water and Power HD documentary (includes The Aqueduct, The Aftermath and The River & Beyond), 4 featurettes (Chinatown: An Appreciation, Chinatown: The Beginning and the End, Chinatown: Filming and Chinatown: The Legacy - all SD) and the film's theatrical trailer in full HD. Audio will be Dolby TrueHD in 5.1 and restored mono.

Also, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has finally set Ralph Bakshi's Wizards for release as a 35th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Book on 3/13 (SRP $19.99). The book will include 24 pages of never-before-seen artwork and a special message from Bakshi himself. Note that this film has been available on Blu in the U.K. for some time in standard BD packaging.

And not to be outdone today, Warner Home Video has officially announced their long-awaited Camelot: 45th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Book for release on 4/24 (SRP $35.99). The film has been newly-remastered and will include audio commentary, the all-new Camelot: The Fallen Kingdom featurette, 3 legacy featurettes (Camelot: The Castle That Never Was, The Story of Camelot and The World Premiere of Camelot) and the film's theatrical trailer. The book will offer 36 pages of photos and information, as well as a 4-song soundtrack CD sampler disc. Here's a look at the cover art that (as well as another peek at MGM's Bond 50 BD cover art)...

Camelot: 45th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray Disc)Bond 50 box set (Blu-ray Disc)

Lots more announcements and CES reporting news still to come. More later and tomorrow morning...

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/11/12 - 12:30 PM PST)

Well... we're back from CES and I'm now hard at work on a news post with details, plus pictures from the show. First up today will be a summary of all the Blu-ray and DVD software announcements made over the last 24-48 hours (James Bond, Battle Royale, Camelot and so forth), so check back in just a little bit for that.

Meanwhile, this is too important NOT to post ASAP: Amazon is now taking pre-orders for MGM and 20th Century's Fox's Bond Blu-ray box set, called Bond 50: Celebrating Five Decades of Bond 007. All 22 films in the series will be included in the package, and Amazon has it NOW for just $199 (SRP $299). Keep in mind, at $199 that's just $10 per film. Not bad at all. We don't have a lot of details, except that at the official announce event yesterday at CES I was able to learn from studio execs that the set will include 130 hours of special features, which should include all of the existing 2-disc DVD (and BD) extras as well as some newly-created and exclusive content. Also, though the official street date wasn't given, I was told that "Fall 2012" is the expected time frame. Retail sources have already told us that they expect it to arrive in late September or very early October (some retailers say 9/20 - which is a Thursday - while Amazon.uk lists a date of 10/1). Whatever the date, expect it to be timed to coincide with the publicity lead-up to the theatrical debut of the new Bond film, Skyfall, on November 9th. I've asked studio execs (because I know many of you will want to know) whether they have plans to sell the films individually or in smaller units this year, so that those of you who already have the Bond titles previously released on BD can just buy the ones you need. I don't have the answer to that yet, but if and when I get it I'll be sure to let you all know. (The TCFHE people I spoke with yesterday didn't have that answer yet, but they were going to try to find out for me.) I think you can reasonably assume they will ALL be released individually eventually, but it's possible that it might not happen until NEXT year, after full box sells through the holiday season. We'll see. In any case, Fox and MGM will release further details about this set and its contents over the coming weeks and months. Meanwhile, here's a look at the packaging (click on it for the Amazon.com pre-order link), as well as a photo from yesterday's announce event at the Panasonic booth at CES 2012...

Bond 50 box set (Blu-ray Disc)

Bond 50 press event at CES 2012 (Blu-ray Disc)

Pictured above are (L to R) IGN's Chris Carle (the panel moderator) and directors John Glen (For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, A View to a Kill, The Living Daylights and License to Kill), Michel Apted (The World is Not Enough) and Martin Campbell (GoldenEye, Casino Royale).

Here also is the official promotional trailer shown at the event...



Back in a little bit with a lot more. Stay tuned...

1/10/12

All right, as promised we've got a couple more Blu-ray reviews for you today.

Specifically, Tim's turned in his thoughts on a pair of older catalog BD titles, Kevin Smith titles both - Sony's Dogma and Lionsgate's Chasing Amy. Enjoy!

Don't forget to follow Adam and me at CES on Facebook - Adam on his Electric Theatre page and me on my own personal page as well as The Digital Bits page.

Back tomorrow afternoon with a CES news, announcement and commentary round-up, as well as our usual weekly Release Dates & Artwork update.

See you then!

1/9/12

Morning, folks! As always, I hope your weekend was a fine one.

Today's post is going to be a quick one, as will tomorrow's. The reason, of course, is that Dr. Jahnke and I are headed to Las Vegas to take in the sights and sounds of the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show. Our coverage of the show will be fairly low-key this year. Frankly, our goal is really to experience the show in a more relaxed fashion that we typically get to. As is the case these days, virtually all of the big hardware and software announcements made at (or in conjunction with) CES will be available everywhere online within moments of the press releases hitting the wires. So a quick search of places like Engadget, Ars Technica, Wired and CNet should uncover them all. Meanwhile, we'll likely be posting pictures and making occasional comments on our Facebook pages - Adam on his Electric Theatre page and me on my own personal page as well as The Digital Bits page. So you're welcome to follow us there if you like. Naturally, when we get back on Wednesday, I'll post my thoughts here on The Bits of some of the more interesting things we saw, a round-up of any Blu-ray announcements that may have happened, plus the usual format sales statistics and other general comments. I'll have the weekly Release Dates & Artwork update up then as well.

That said, we do have a couple of things for you today, including a pair of new Blu-ray reviews. Our own Barrie Maxwell has checked in with his thoughts on HBO's Mildred Pierce miniseries. And Tim Salmons has delivered a look at Lionsgate's Evil Dead 2: 25th Anniversary Edition. We'll have a couple more BD reviews tomorrow as well, so do check back then.

Also today, a quick update: I've gotten the chance to check out a copy of MGM and Fox's revised West Side Story Blu-ray in person, kindly provided by the studio. Interestingly, my copy has the new UPC (88390424523082) attached to the back of the plastic BD case via a white sticker that covers the original UPC on the actual back cover art insert. (Note that the last two digits - 82 - are located at the top right of the sticker above the bar code.) Upon examination, the revised disc does indeed correct and remove the inappropriate "fade to black" when the opening title transition to the film's first shot of the New York City skyline. I haven't looked at the rest of the disc yet, but rest assured that at least that issue has been fixed.

And that's all for now. Again, check our CES posts over the next 30-odd hours at the Facebook links provided above and be sure to return here tomorrow for more reviews.

Stay tuned...!

1/6/12

All right, we've got some more good catalog Blu-ray release news today...

First... BRING OUT YOUR DEAD!! Yes, Sony has finally, officially announced the 35th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray release of Monty Python and the Holy Grail on 3/6 (SRP TBA). Looks like it will carry over almost everything from the excellent previous DVD edition, as extras will include audio commentaries by Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones (plus "General Complaints and Back-Biting by John Cleese, Eric Idle and Michael Palin"), outtakes introduced by Terry Jones, The Quest for the Holy Grail Locations documentary (featuring Palin and Jones), the Japanese version, the LEGO version, a cast directory photo gallery, 3 "Mindless Sing-Alongs", the How to Use Your Coconuts (An Educational Film) short, 8 featurettes (BBC Film Night, Terry Gilliam Introduces His Lost Animation Reel, Meanwhile, King Arthur & Sir Bedevere..., Elephant & Castle, Run Away!, The Tale of Sir Robin, The Tale of Sir Lancelot and Henry 4th) and Blu-ray credits.

With this announcement, all that's missing now on Blu-ray from the Python cannon are And Now for Something Completely Different (Sony) and Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (Universal). The latter was released on HD-DVD by Universal, so it's POSSIBLE we might see it this year as part of their 100th Anniversary push. Rest assured we're looking into it. And you never know - it's possible you might one day see the original Monty Python's Flying Circus released on Blu-ray. Some of the series was shot on film, while some was shot on video. The series could potentially be beneficially upconverted for HD syndication and BD release, as was Farscape recently. We'll see.

Meanwhile, also on the catalog front, Warner Home Video is releasing Sydney Pollack's Jeremiah Johnson (1972) on Blu-ray on 5/1 (SRP $19.98).

Image Entertainment has set The Double for release on Blu-ray and DVD on 1/31 (SRP $29.97 and $27.97). Extras will include an interview with the producer, the trailer and commentary by director Michael Brandt.

On the Rumor Mill front, reliable studio and retail sources tell us 3/20 is the expected street date for Disney's The Muppets on 3-disc Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy Combo, 2-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo and DVD. Watch for an official announcement in the next couple of weeks.

For you music fans, Universal Music is releasing the U2: From the Sky Down documentary on Blu-ray and DVD on 1/24 (it's already available internationally). The film was directed by Davis Guggenheim, and examines the making of the band's landmark 1991 Achtung Baby album. It's previously only been available as part of their recent (and expensive) Achtung Baby anniversary "Super" and "Uber" deluxe edition CD/Vinyl box sets.

And don't forget, Universal's The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption streets on Blu-ray and DVD next Tuesday, 1/10.

Here's a look at BD cover art for Image's The Double, U-Music's U2: From the Sky Down and Disney's The Muppets (all now available for pre-order on Amazon)...

The Double (Blu-ray Disc)U2: From the Sky Down (Blu-ray Disc)The Muppets (Blu-ray Disc)

Have a great weekend, folks! See you back here on Monday. Peace out...

1/5/12

Another quick announcement news update for you...

First, Universal has set Out of Africa for Universal 100th Anniversary Collector's Series Blu-ray/DVD combo release on 3/6. We've asked the studio whether this is a new transfer or just a re-issue of the existing version, and HAVE CONFIRMED that this is a newly-remastered version that should be far superior to the existing disc. Here's hoping they revisit Kubrick's Spartacus soon as well. Speaking of catalog BDs, the studio has also set The Deer Hunter, The Nutty Professor, Parenthood and Harvey (1950) for Universal 100th Anniversary Blu-ray release on 3/6 as well. And for you vintage TV DVD fans, Night Gallery: Season Three is finally due on DVD only on 4/10.

Meanwhile, Cartoon Network will release It Came From the Nightosphere on DVD only on 3/6, including all 16 episodes for SRP $19.82.

Also, Tempe Video has set the superhero spoof titles The Amazing Bulk for DVD release on 4/17, followed by Thunderstrom: Return of Thor on 5/1.

Eagle Rock will release The Doors: Mr. Mojo Risin' - The Story of L.A. Woman on Blu-ray and DVD on 1/24.

And Image Entertainment has set Girls Just Want to Have Fun (1985) for Blu-ray release on 4/3.

Meanwhile, we have Blu-ray and DVD cover art for Warner's J. Edgar (due 2/21), as well as Sony's Anonymous (2/7)...

J. Edgar (DVD)J. Edgar (Blu-ray Disc)Anonymous (Blu-ray Disc)

And in other news, there's word from CNN Money that digital music sales have for the first time topped sales of physical media. More here.

Stay tuned...

1/4/12

Afternoon, everyone.

The big release news today is that Warner Home Video has revealed director Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar for release on 2-disc Blu-ray/DVD/Ultraviolet Combo on 2/21 (SRP $35.99). We expect cover and and details on the special features in the next day or so.

Also, Sony will release the comedy Jack & Jill on Blu-ray/DVD/UltraViolet Combo, Blu-ray/UltraViolet Combo and DVD on 3/6. Extras on all versions will start with 4 featurettes (Here Comes Jill, Laughing is Contagious, Look Who Stopped By and Boys Will Be Girls). The Blu-ray versions will add 2 more (Stomach Ache and Don't Call It a Boat-Royal Caribbean).

Sony has also set Mick Garris' Bag of Bones for DVD release on 3/13. Also coming to DVD only on 3/6 are The First Ride of Wyatt Earp and Wyatt Earp's Revenge.

Meanwhile, Anchor Bay will release The Terror Experiment on Blu-ray and DVD on 4/12 (SRP $24.99 and $19.98).

Eagle Rock Entertainment will release The Richard Thompson Band: LIve at Celtic Connections on Blu-ray and DVD on 1/31.

And Shout! Factory will release JEM and the Holograms: Season Two on DVD on 2/14, along with Rocko's Modern Life: Season Two on 2/7.

Here's a look at the cover art for Sony's Drive (due 1/31), along with Lionsgate's Reindeer Games: The Director's Cut and 54 (both due on 3/6)...

Drive (Blu-ray Disc)Reindeer Games: The Director's Cut (Blu-ray Disc)54 (Blu-ray Disc)

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 1/3/12 - 1 PM PST)

Okay... a couple more bits of news and updates...

First, as expected, our own Russell Hammond has posted the weekly Release Dates & Artwork update with all the latest Blu-ray, DVD and Video Game cover artwork and Amazon.com pre-order links. As always, a portion of anything you order after clicking through to them from our links helps to support our work here at The Bits and we appreciate it! And don't forget that they're running a whole lot of great Blu-ray and DVD deals at the moment, so do check them out.

Also, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has given us a new customer service phone number for people to call to arrange a West Side Story Blu-ray replacement. It's 888-223-4369. The support@foxcustomercare.com e-mail address remains the same. Be sure to spread the word. [Editor's Note: We're getting reports that the customer service people on the other end of the FIRST phone number we were given by TCFHE have no idea what any of this is about, so be sure you call the NEW number we've just listed. And lest ANY of them give you a line of B.S., tell them that the details we've posted here were given to The Digital Bits directly by senior TCFHE personnel. It appears customer service is still getting their act together on this...]

In announcement news, Universal has set Tower Heist for release on Blu-ray/DVD Combo and DVD on 2/21. Extras will include a pair of alternate endings, deleted scenes, a gag reel, the Plotting Tower Heist featurette and commentary with director Brett Ratner, editor Mark Helfrich and co-writers Ted Griffin and Jeff Nathanson. The Blu-ray will exclusively add the Tower Heist Video Diary, and interactive PiP and Music of Tower Heist U-Control options. The studio has also set Columbus Circle for Blu-ray and DVD release on 3/6.

Meanwhile, HBO has set The Sunset Limited for Blu-ray and DVD release on 2/7 (SRP $24.99 and $19.97), with audio commentary from Tommy Lee Jones, Samuel L. Jackson and author Cormac McCarthy, and The Making of The Sunset Limited featurette.

And Blue Underground has set Killer Nun for release on Blu-ray on 4/24 (SRP $29.98). The film is already available on DVD. Extras will include the From the Secret Files of the Vatican interview with co-writer/director Giulio Berruti and the film's theatrical trailer.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/3/12 - 12:01 AM PST)

All right, let's get an early start today, shall we?

I hope you all had a wonderful New Years. My old friend Weatherman Dave Hovde came down from San Luis Obispo and spent the weekend with Sarah and myself. We saw some good movies, had a few nice meals, watched the Vikings end another grueling season. Also on the football note, the Rose Bowl game sure was fun last night! Turns out the Badgers just didn't quite have enough defense, but it was close. And I it's been like 90-some years since Oregon won the Rose Bowl, so I guess they were due. Anyway, all in all we had a nice holiday break here.

Meanwhile, the BBC's Sherlock began its second season last night in the U.K., with the first of three new episodes shown on BBC One and BBC HD on Sunday. The second and third episodes of the season (the third also being the end of Series Two) will run across the pond over the next two Sundays. American audiences will have to wait until May to watch them on PBS (unless you view them by "other" online means), with a U.S. Blu-ray release likely for Summer. Series One is already available on Blu-ray here in the States. You can order it on Amazon.com here. If you haven't seen it yet, I can't recommend the show more highly.

There's not a lot of release news yet to report this morning, but with CES rapidly approaching we expect there will be at least a few interesting announcements made this week. Meanwhile, there is one thing worth mentioning now...

We're getting a few reports that corrected copies of Fox and MGM's West Side Story Blu-ray (with the new UPC numbers - see the 12/30 post below) are starting to appear in stores, specifically at some Best Buy locations. Don't forget, you can also exchange your bad discs with Fox and MGM - contact them to arrange a disc swap via 888-223-4369 (M-F, 8 AM-5 PM PST) or support@foxcustomercare.com. [Editor's Note: This is a NEW revised number to call for disc replacement, provided by Fox Home Entertainment today.] For those of you who are wondering what the difference is, this clip on YouTube shows you what the Blu-ray SHOULD look like (see 4:35 for the transition in question). There should be no fade to black (the original/error BD version does have one here).

Also here at the site, our own Russell Hammond should have the weekly Release Dates & Artwork update available later this morning, so we'll make sure to get it up as soon as it comes in.

And we'll be back later this morning with any breaking announcement news if and when it comes in.

Cheers and stay tuned...!

12/30/11

Okay... we've got one important bit of news to bring you today, which is that we've finally heard back from 20th Century Fox and MGM as to how you can go about exchanging your copy of West Side Story on Blu-ray for a fixed one with the corrected opening titles, and also how you'll be able to spot the fixed version "in the wild".

To request a replacement copy of MGM's West Side Story Blu-ray, please call 888-223-4369 (M-F, 8 AM-5 PM PST) or email support@foxcustomercare.com. They'll arrange a way to make the swap.

As for fixed discs in stores, there is no call out on the packaging to distinguish versions, so you'll need to check the UPC barcodes. The corrected versions carry the following codes:

For the Blu-ray Single: UPC #88390424523082
For the Blu-ray Box Set: UPC #88390424521681

So there you have it. Thanks to our friends at Fox and MGM for providing the information.

Also today, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has confirmed that they're releasing a Blu-ray version of Jeff Nichols' Take Shelter (starring Michael Shannon) on 2/14 with the already announced DVD.

Now then, we've got one last release news update for you. Raro Video has just announced its January 2012 slate, as follows: Alberto Lattuada's The Overcoat will arrive on DVD on 1/17. That will be followed by Ubaldo Terzani Horror Show and Steam: The Turkish Bath on DVD only on 1/31. The Fernando Di Leo Crime Collection Box Set: Special Edition will also street on Blu-ray Disc on 1/31, including Caliber 9 (1972), The Italian Connection (1972), The Boss (1973) and Rulers of the City (1976).

And here's some new and recent cover artwork: Paramount's Transformers: Dark of the Moon - Ultimate Edition and Transformers Limited Collector's Edition Blu-ray Trilogy (both due 1/31), the Paranormal Activity 3: Unrated Director's Cut (1/24) and DreamWorks Animation's Puss in Boots Blu-ray (2/24)...

Transformers: Dark of the Moon - Ultimate Edition (Blu-ray Disc)Puss in Boots (Blu-ray Disc)Paranormal Activity 3: Unrated Director's Cut (Blu-ray Disc)

Transformers Limited Collector's Edition Blu-ray Trilogy (Blu-ray Disc)

And that's all for 2011! From all of us here at The Digital Bits, we hope you have a wonderful and safe New Year, and that 2012 brings nothing but the best to you and your family and friends. We also just want to say how much we appreciate all of you who read The Bits each day, both you longtime readers and those of you who have joined us more recently. Cheers, and Happy New Year!

See you back here on Monday, 1/2. Peace out...

12/28/11

All right, I hope you guys are all enjoying the long holiday break. We've got some pretty darned good release news for you today. But first...

Our own Russell Hammond has 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 through to them from our links goes to help support our work at The Bits and we truly do appreciate it.

Now then... we've got a bit of interesting release news leaking from retail sources today. Wal-Mart has just listed Sony's long-awaited Monty Python and the Holy Grail for 35th Anniversary Edition release on Blu-ray Disc on 3/20! The SRP is listed as $19.99. One would expect an official announcement from Sony soon. It's available for pre-order on Amazon as well, so no worries that it's exclusive.

Also, Sony has officially set Hawthorne: Season Three for DVD release on 3/6. They've also revealed several new MOD DVD-R titles for release on 2/7, including the Grace Kelly TV movie, Bless the Beasts and the Children, The Virgin Soldiers, Who's Minding the Mint?, Yesterday's Enemy, The Last Posse and Rules of Engagement: Season Five.

Meanwhile, the BIG announcement news today is that Paramount has officially set Transformers: Dark of the Moon for 4-disc Ultimate Edition Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy Combo release on 1/31. Disc One includes the film in 2D high-definition. Disc Two is a special features disc with over 4 hours of content including the 5-part Above and Beyond: Exploring Dark of the Moon documentary (includes Rising from the Fallen: Development and Design, Ready for Prime Time: Filming Across America, Battle in the Heartland: Shooting in Chicago, Attack of the Birdmen: Aerial Stunts and Shadow of the Sentinel: Post-Production and Release), the Uncharted Territory: NASA's Future Then and Now featurette, 4 Deconstructing Chicago: Multi-Angle Sequences (Previsualizations with optional commentary by director Michael Bay and previsualization supervisor Steve Yamamoto, Previsualizations/Final Shot Comparison with optional commentary by director Michael Bay and previsualization supervisor Steve Yamamoto, Visual Effects with optional commentary by visual effects supervisors Scott Farrar and Matthew Butler and Visual Effects/Final Shot Comparison with optional commentary by visual effects supervisors Scott Farrar and Matthew Butler), the Art of Cybertron gallery (including Autobots, Decepticons, Environments, Weapons and Gear and Ships), The Dark of the Moon Archive (including 3D: A Transforming Visual Art, Moscow World Premiere, Birdmen Featurette, Cody's iPad and The Sound of Transformers: Dark of the Moon) and The Matrix of Marketing (including trailers and a Marketing Gallery). Disc Three is a Blu-ray 3D of the film. And Disc Four is a DVD with the film in standard definition and also a standard Digital Copy compatible with iTunes and Windows Media. According to the studio's press release, you'll also get an UltraViolet digital copy as well. SRP is $39.99.

And if you want all the Transformers money can buy, Paramount is also releasing a 7-disc Transformers Limited Collector's Edition Blu-ray Trilogy for $99.99 that includes the 2-disc Special Edition Blu-rays of Transformers and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, along with the 3-disc Transformers: Dark of the Moon combo (including the 3D disc, the 2D disc and the special features disc). All this comes in special packaging with an exclusive plaque of movie images signed by director Michael Bay. You can pre-order the 4-disc Blu-ray here and the 7-Disc Blu-ray Trilogy here.

Paramount and DreamWorks Animation have also set Puss in Boots for release on Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy Combo, Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy Combo and DVD on 2/24. The DVD is also available as a 2-pack with the all-new animated The Three Diablos (the short is included on the Blu-ray versions in HD).

Moving on, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment will release Rebound and Lego Star Wars: The Padawan Menace on Blu-ray Disc on 2/7, followed by Thumbelina, Aquamarine, The Man from Snowy River and Ferngully: The Last Rainforest on 3/6.

Magnolia has set the Blu-ray and DVD release of Lars Von Trier's Melancholia for 3/13 (SRP $29.99 and $26.98).

Intervision Picture Corp will be releasing The Burning Moon on DVD on 3/14, complete with a 45-minute making-of documentary.

And Image has set Betty White: Champion for Animals for DVD only release on 3/27.

Finally, in other news today, the Wall Street Journal has a new article up about the refocused MGM and its goals as a studio. The piece is intended for subscribers only, but we assume it's worth a read if you can.

That's all for now - not bad for one morning. Stay tuned!

12/23/11

All right... it's the Friday before Christmas! Man, is anyone else surprised by how quickly this year has gone? Seems like we were just reporting on CES, and then Comic-Con and now 2011 is already almost over.

I expect most of you have checked out the Prometheus trailer by now? Any doubts that it's an Alien prequel should be wiped aside after a quick viewing. Lots of visual ties to that original film. Fingers crossed it'll be worth the wait.

Not a lot of release news today, as you'd expect given the holiday. However...

Warner Home Video (for their New Line label) has set A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas for release on 2/7 on Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray/DVD/UltraViolet Combo, Blu-ray/DVD/UltraViolet Combo and DVD. The Blu-ray versions will include the extended cut of the film.

Yeah, and that's pretty much it for this week! We'll be off for the holiday weekend, obviously, but we'll check back in next week to catch you up on any interesting release news that might bubble up.

Meanwhile, from everyone here at The Digital Bits, we want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas! Safe travels, eat lots of great food, have a great time with your family and friends and enjoy all the new holiday movies. We'll see you back here next week.

Peace on Earth (or at least in your particular neck of the woods)... and cheers!

12/22/11

All right... slow news day today, as you'd expect as we approach the Christmas holiday weekend.

Still, a couple things today...

First, it looks as if there are going to be a whole host of cool retail exclusives with HBO's Game of Thrones: Season One Blu-ray and DVD release. In the U.K., Play.com will be selling the Blu-ray with an exclusive photo book. HMV will have exclusive packaging featuring the House Stark 'direwolf' family sigil. And Amazon.co.uk will have an exclusive Bonus Disc with the 18-minute documentary Creating the Visuals. We expect U.S. retailers will have their own set of exclusives when the title streets on 3/6 - let us know if you see any posted online.

A&E and the History Channel have set Frozen World: The Story of the Ice Age for DVD release on 1/10, along with King Arthur and Medieval Britain. Following on 1/24 are Ancient Aliens: Season Three (what that has to do with history I'll never know) and World War II in 3D on Blu-ray 3D format - which apparently features lots of Allied and Axis captured 3D stereographs and other images, as well as actual 3D film shot by the Nazis in 1943. Interesting.

And Dark Sky Films and MPI Group have set Cold Sweat for DVD only release on 1/17. The film was apparently a big hit at this years SXSW festival.

Also, it seems that the U.K. retailer MovieMail has announced the DVD only release of Carol Reed's Outcast of the Islands on 1/23. It's likely region coded, but if you have the ability to watch it, it's a good chance to see a classic.

Don't forget to keep checking Apple's trailer site and YouTube for the debut of Ridley Scott's Prometheus trailer today. It isn't up yet as of 10:30 AM Pacific, but I don't imagine it will be long. [Scratch that - it's up NOW. Run, don't walk! Pretty effen cool...] Apple also has the trailer for Warner's Dark Knight Rises up now. Looks like 2012 could be a big year for movies - and just maybe a few good ones for a change. We'll see...

Stay tuned!

12/21/11

All right, we've got a couple things for you today...

First, our own Barrie Maxwell has just turned in a fine Classic Coming Attractions column for you guys to enjoy after all your last-minute holiday shopping! Included are a pair of new classic disc reviews - the Warner Archive DVD release of The Andy Hardy Collection: Volume 1, Warner's Blu-ray release of the 1962 Mutiny on the Bounty and the BBC's BBC Holiday Comedy & Drama Gift Set also on DVD - along with a rundown of the usual classic release news. Enjoy!

Also today, we've got a couple other of bits of release news too...

First, Universal has set Johnny English Reborn for release on Blu-ray/DVD Combo and DVD on 2/28. Extras on both will include deleted/extended scenes with introduction, audio commentary with director Oliver Parker and screenwriter Hamish McColl and The Wheelchair Chase featurette. The Blu-ray will add 4 featurettes (The English Files: The Making of Johnny English Reborn, Working with Rowan, Gadgets and English in Hong Kong), along with an UltraViolet Digital Copy, BD-Live and the usual interactive features. That same day, the original Johnny English also comes to Blu-ray from the studio.

As it happens, Universal also has Andrew Lloyd Webber's Love Never Dies set for release on Blu-ray and DVD on 5/29.

And speaking of Universal, sources are telling us that the studio is tentatively expecting to release Steven Spielberg's Jaws on Blu-ray on 8/14/2012. We've also been told that at least some of the sequels may be released on Blu-ray on the same day, including Jaws 3D on Blu-ray 3D. And on the catalog film note, we're also hearing that Universal is working on plans to release a Blu-ray box set of the classic Universal Monsters films in time for Halloween 2012. This is actually something I talked about with USHE president Craig Kornblau back at Blu-Con 2010. I mentioned to him that a lot of our readers would love to see those films in high-definition, but the studio's concern was that - believe it or not - sales of those titles haven't been very good on DVD over the years. So I suggested doing them all as a big Blu-ray box set and making it sort of a special event release to generate sales and interest. Then they could always release singles later if the numbers justified it. Anyway, it looks like that might be what's in play for later in 2012, so fingers crossed. We'll post more details as we have them, of course, but keep in mind this information should be considered Rumor Mill-worthy until we hear from the studio directly.

Also today, Sony has set Retreat for DVD only release on 2/21.

And our friends over at Synapse Films have announced Thou Shalt Not Kill... Except! for release on Blu-ray and DVD on 3/13. The film actually stars Sam Raimi. Extras will include the original Super 8 short film Stryker's War (starring Bruce Campbell), a pair of audio commentaries featuring director Josh Becker, Bruce Campbell and Star Brian Schulz, a delete scene with optional commentary, and alternate title sequence, the Made in Michigan: The Making of Thou Shalt Not Kill... Except! featurette, an all new interview with Campbell, the original theatrical trailer and reversible cover art. Should be interesting!

In other news today... what did you guys think of that Hobbit trailer? Are any of you as excited as I am? I'll tell you, you can bet that Matt Rowe and I are going to be lined up next December 14th to see that film. We absolutely can't wait.

Speaking of trailers, it's already started to appear in theatres with early screenings of David Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo... but if you visit Apple's trailers site tomorrow, you'll get your first look at the teaser trailer for Ridley Scott's Alien prequel, Prometheus, which opens in theatres next summer (on 6/8). And yes, it IS an Alien prequel. Of that I can absolutely assure you. Enjoy!

Here's a look at the Blu-ray cover art for Synapse's Thou Shalt Not Kill... Except!, Sony's The Rum Diary (due 2/14) and Fox's In Time (1/31)...

Thou Shalt Not Kill... Except! (Blu-ray Disc)The Rum Diary (Blu-ray Disc)In Time (Blu-ray Disc)

Stay tuned!

12/20/11

All right, we've got a few more new announcements for you today...

First though, our own Russell Hammond has updated the Release Dates & Artwork section with all the latest Blu-ray, DVD and Video Game 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 appreciate it!

Now then, announcement news...

Paramount Home Entertainment has announced the Blu-ray/DVD Combo release of Paranormal Activity 3 on 1/24 (SRP $39.99). You'll get the theatrical and unrated versions of the film, Lost Tapes and a Digital Copy. A Paranormal Activity Trilogy DVD set will also be available on 1/24 exclusively at WalMart, which includes the theatrical and unrated versions of all three films plus all previous content. Paranormal Activity 3 will also be available in its theatrical version as a DVD only release nationwide on 2/14, as well as in an unrated DVD only version on 2/14 exclusively at WalMart.

As anticipated, Disney has officially set The Lion King 1 1/2 and The Lion King 2 for Blu-ray/DVD release on 3/6 (SRP $39.99 and $29.99). It appears that most of the previous DVD bonus features will carry over.

Sony has set The Rum Diary for release on Blu-ray and DVD on 2/14 (SRP $35.99 and $30.99). Extras will include the A Voice Made of Ink and Rage: Inside The Rum Diary featurette and The Rum Diary Back-Story documentary.

Sony has also announced the Blu-ray and DVD release of London Boulevard on 2/21 (SRP $35.99 and $30.99). The only extra will be The Making of London Boulevard featurette.

Fox has announced the Blu-ray and DVD release of Martha Marcy May Marlene on Blu-ray and DVD on 2/21. Extras will include a number of featurettes, a music video and the trailer.

And Millennium Entertainment has set the comedy High Road for DVD only release on 3/6.

In other news today, it appears that 20th Century Fox and MGM are going to be previewing (or making) its big 2012 James Bond Blu-ray celebration announcement at CES next month. The excellent MI6 website has revealed that the studios are hosting a Bond Director's panel in Vegas on 1/10, set to include John Glen (For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, A View to a Kill, The Living Daylights, Licence to Kill), Martin Campbell (GoldenEye, Casino Royale) and Michael Apted (The World Is Not Enough).

Finally today, don't forget that tonight Peter Jackson's first trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is expected to debut online (sometime after 7PM Pacific). You can reasonably expect it to appear here first, and rest assured it will be on YouTube and everywhere else fairly soon afterwards. [Editor's Note: Here it is on YouTube (see below) and here's the Apple iTunes trailer link - be sure to select 720 or 1080 for best quality. Man, December 2012 can't come fast enough!]



HELL YEAH! Stay tuned...

12/19/11

Afternoon, folks! Hope your weekend was swell, as always.

First up today, our own Dr. Adam Jahnke has just turned in a new Bottom Shelf column in which he takes a good look back at the best of video disc releases - both Blu-ray and DVD - over this past year. It's well worth a read, as he highlights some interesting (and quite welcome and unexpected) titles. Do give it a look!

Now then... let's get to some release news...

20th Century Fox has set the sci-fi thriller In Time for release on Blu-ray and DVD on 1/31. Extras will include deleted and extended scenes. The Blu-ray will also have an exclusive featurette and access to a mobile game app.

Warner Home Video will release Scooby-Doo! Music of the Vampire on Blu-ray and DVD on 3/13. This is a newly-produced animated feature - part of their online Warner Premiere effort.

Warner and the BBC will also release Doctor Who: The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe on Blu-ray and DVD on 2/14.

Here's something cool: Paramount has announced another classic film Blu-ray for release on 3/6: Alfred Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief! Extras will include audio commentary by Hitchcock film historian Dr. Drew Casper, 8 featurettes (A Night with the Hitchcocks, Unacceptable Under the Code: Film Censorship in America, Writing and Casting To Catch a Thief, The Making of To Catch a Thief, Behind the Gates: Cary Grant and Grace Kelly, Alfred Hitchcock and To Catch a Thief: An Appreciation, Edith Head The Paramount Years and If You Love To Catch a Thief, You'll Love this Interactive Travelogue), galleries and the theatrical trailer. You'll find the cover artwork below.

Meanwhile, Sony has set Take Shelter for DVD only release on 2/14.

Anchor Bay has set Texas Killing Fields for release on both Blu-ray and DVD on 1/31.

Twilight Time has announced that it's releasing the classic films The Picnic (1955) and The Roots of Heaven (1958) on Blu-ray Disc on 1/17 - again, see cover art below. Already available from the company are BD releases of Fight Night (1985), Rapture (1965), Mysterious Island (1961) and The Egyptian (1954). Thanks to Bits reader Roger M. for the heads-up.

Also, Shout! Factory has set The Adventures of Tintin: Season Two for DVD only release on 3/20 (SRP $19.93). The 2-disc set will include 13 more episodes.

And Inception Media Group will release The Space Between on DVD on 2/21.

In related news, based on unofficial information leaking from retail sources, it's looking as if select versions of Disney's forthcoming The Muppets on Three-Disc Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy and DVD will not include an actual soundtrack CD but rather a Soundtrack Download Card. Worth noting. Thanks to several Bits readers who pointed this out over the weekend.

And speaking of unofficial information, 20th Century Fox's 1953 version of Titanic just went up for pre-order on Amazon.co.uk. You can almost certainly expect it to be released in the States around then as well, or possibly a month or two later with James Cameron's Titanic hits Blu-ray from Paramount (following its 3D theatrical run).

And while we're talking U.K. Blu-ray pre-orders, some other very interesting titles are now up for pre-order on Amazon.co.uk, including Cleopatra (1963 - due 1/30), the new Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (1/30), Lars Von Trier's Melancholia (1/23), Two-Lane Blacktop (1/23), Repo Man (2/20) and others. With luck, you'll see U.S. announcements in the weeks ahead too. Thanks to Bits reader Roger M. for the links.

And here's some good news for your fans of director Peter Jackson and his Lord of the Rings films: It appears as if the first trailer for The Hobbit films will officially be attached to the forthcoming theatrical release of Jackson and Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin on 12/21. The trailer is also expected to appear online a day earlier, on 12/20.

Not only that, we've learned that the trailer for Ridley Scott's Alien prequel, Prometheus, will debut online on 12/22. (Note that if you visit the Apple link right now, there's a little behind-the-scenes preview clip that's WELL worth checking out.) Thanks to Bits reader Curtis S. for that!

We'll leave you today with a look at the cover art for Paramount's To Catch a Thief and Twilight Time's Picnic and The Roots of Heaven all on Blu-ray...

To Catch a Thief (Blu-ray Disc)Picnic (Blu-ray Disc)The Roots of Heaven (Blu-ray Disc)

Stay tuned!

12/16/11

All right, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows open up today in theatres, so I know many of you guys are rushing off this weekend to see them. Let us know if you happen to catch any Prometheus trailers when you do, yeah?

Before we get started, a quick question: Do any of you out there own DVD copies of the Japanese editions of the Zatoichi films or TV series? I'm trying to find out what the quality is like, etc. I've been hoping that Home Vision would release films #1, 2 and 15 (which they own the U.S. rights to) on DVD in anamorphic widescreen, but no joy so far. They're all on Hulu, but I want to complete my set of DVDs. So now I'm considering going the import route. Also, Media Blasters was releasing the TV series on DVD for a while, but they stopped after the first season. Apparently, sales were not what they hoped. But Zatoichi fans here at The Bits (specifically Doogan and myself) would very much like to watch the complete run of 100 episodes, so apparently drastic steps must be taken. Anyway, if you've got any of these discs, we'd love to hear what you think of them.

Now then... a couple of quick notes...

First, it's not really much new information, but CBS has officially announced that Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Complete First Season will be available on Blu-ray "later in 2012" and that the entire series WILL be released on Blu-ray over the next few years. Don't forget - the demo Blu-ray Disc streets on 1/31 for just $21.99 SRP (just $14.99 as linked on Amazon).

Also, for you Lion King fans, Amazon.com is now taking pre-orders on The Lion King 1˝ and The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride on Blu-ray. Both are set for release on 3/6.

Speaking of Amazon, the online retailer also has Disney's The Muppets available for pre-order, though no date is yet listed. No doubt it will street sometime in Q1 2012. Looks like there will be movie-only DVD and Blu-ray versions, along with the DVD + Soundtrack CD and a Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy/Soundtrack CD Combo. Now if Disney would only release the last two seasons of the TV show on DVD, we'd be in business. (Thanks to Bits reader Bill M. for the links!)

Finally today, Universal has set their live action Dr. Suess' The Cat in the Hat for release on Blu-ray Disc on 2/7.

Here's a look at the DVD cover art for Warner's Logan's Run: The Complete Series (due 4/10) as well as Universal's Johnny English (2/28) and Disney's The Muppets on Blu...

Logan's Run: The Complete Series (DVD)Johnny English (Blu-ray Disc)The Muppets (Blu-ray Disc)

Have a great weekend and back on Monday!


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