Well, the response to
Star Wars on DVD signature drive has been astounding.
We're still trying to tally up the number of people who have signed thus
far - it's a HUGE number, with four massive pages of signatures so far.
And hundreds more are coming in every hour. Please know that due to the
heavy demand, the petition page may be slow to access and respond. And
we've had one or two bugs in the petition page which we're working to
fix, so please be patient (Pete actually says things should be working
okay now). But we're very proud of the tremendous support all of you are
showing for our efforts.
We've had a whole slew of you ask us to invite our friends at fellow
Force.net to join us in this campaign. We did approach them.
They didn't reply to our e-mails, but in response to lots of you who
contacted them, they posted a note on their site yesterday to the effect
that they felt we were beating a dead horse. With all due respect, Pete
and I don't agree. The bottom line is this - a LOT of you people have a
LOT you want to say on this subject. And we want to make sure that
Lucasfilm and Fox know just how MANY of you there are out there, and
just how STRONGLY you really feel about this. Do we expect we'll change
Lucas' mind about this? No, not really. But we want to make sure he gets
the message, and we want to make sure that message is a powerful one.
Already, we've had an effect. Just yesterday afternoon, in reaction to
our efforts and the
Letter we published in Variety, the
Wars website posted this Q & A with producer Rick
"Q: So many fans want Episode I and then the
Classic Trilogy on DVD. It doesn't make sense to us that you aren't
going to release at least Episode I. Whats going on?
A: Well theres no conspiracy at work here, I assure you. It's
really about exploiting an exciting medium in the best possible way.
George hopes to do something special with the DVD release but he isnt
available to work on it right now since were in pre-production on
Episode II, with principal photography scheduled to begin this summer in
Australia. Until George has some time to concentrate on it, we don't
anticipate releasing any of the Star Wars movies on DVD in the
Let me make something clear, and I hope both Rick and George get this
message. We really appreciate that Lucas wants to do something special
with the DVDs, and we know there's been talk of "super special
editions" on DVD once Lucas has time to work on them, after the
completion of all the Star Wars
films. Frankly, we can't wait to see what he's got planned. But why does
there have to be only ONE DVD release of these films? Why not put the
existing films in the series on DVD now as relatively standard editions?
What we're hearing from people, is that the vast majority would be happy
just to have the movies on DVD, in anamorphic widescreen with Dolby
Digital 5.1 surround sound. With THX involved, and new high-def
transfers, we know the movies would look and sound spectacular. Throw in
some trailers, maybe a few "making of" featurettes (that would
be easily produced by the staff at Lucasfilm without Lucas'
involvement), and some nifty menus, and most of us would gladly pay $29
a film. This approach was good enough for Steven Spielberg with his
recent (and excellent) Saving Private Ryan
DVD, so what can't Lucas try it? Then in 5 or 6 years, when Lucas has
completed all of the films in the series, he can sit down and work on
his amazing super deluxe DVDs, and I don't think anyone would hesitate
to buy those as well.
Look - nobody is trying to be a pain in Lucas' side. But if there's
TONS of people who are willing to buy the films on DVD now - why not
take advantage of that? Why is the home video industry the only business
where customers ACTUALLY HAVE TO BEG to get the kind of products they
want? In any other business, the customer is always right and you work
to satisfy them. What's wrong with this picture? Countless numbers of
people are waiting to buy the Star Wars
film on DVD. And if you told them that the discs will be out in three
months, many of them would get in line now, money in hand.
You've got a team of pretty incredible people working for you at
Luacsfilm, George - why not let them work on the discs while you keep
doing your thing on Episode II?
You'd make a lot of people very happy indeed. That's not so much to ask
for, is it?
We're very pleased today to announce the launch of The
Star Wars on DVD Campaign, a joint effort by The
Digital Bits, DVD
File.com and Digital
Man Interactive. We've got a bunch of related items for you to
see today, not the least of which is
Open Letter to George Lucas, which we jointly published in
today's issue of Daily Variety
magazine to help get the message heard. We'd like to get everyone's help
in this - if you run a web site, we need you! And if you want your copy
of Star Wars on DVD, we need your
signature in our online petition drive. Click on The
Star Wars on DVD Campaign link to learn more about our
efforts, and to sign up. Uncle Obi-Wan wants YOU!
We hope you all had a great weekend. Our own Todd Doogan unfortunately
had one he'd like to forget. You see, Todd lives in Atlanta, which was
hit with a huge ice storm on Sunday. So when spoke with him last night
on the phone, he didn't have power in his house. And he was all set to
watch The Simpsons and the Golden
Globe Awards last night too. Bummer. But never fear - we're
pretty sure that Todd was able to rub a couple of sticks together and
get a fire going. Once he shakes the icicles off his nose, he'll be just
Speaking of the Golden Globes,
you can drop on by the
official site to get the recap on who won last night in case you
missed it. As for me, I watched football and The
X-Files - my traditional Sunday staples. Okay... I checked
out the awards too. And I was particularly happy to see Toy
Story 2 win Best Motion Picture Comedy. Speaking of which,
I'd like to send out my congratulations to the good people at Pixar. And
I'd like to pass on a personal note as well. This isn't going to mean
anything to most of you, but if any of you reading this now work at
Pixar, please pass the word on to Lee U. (and Laura too) that Bill Hunt
says howdy. Congrats you two - saw you both on TV last night. Laura, you
gotta give me an e-mail
so we can catch up! It's been way too long since Madison... ;-)
Okay - moving on. One of our readers mentioned this, and we thought it
worth repeating. On Friday's episode of The
Rosie O'Donnell Show, Rosie had Julie Andrews and Christopher
Plummer (who starred in The Sound of Music)
as guests. She's apparently a big fan of the movie, and talked about how
great it was to see it on DVD. She talked briefly about DVD with her two
guests, and then announced that the whole studio audience was getting a
copy of the film on DVD. There's just one problem - The
Sound of Music isn't on DVD yet. Just kinda makes you scratch
Finally this morning, comes word that another judge has ruled in favor
of the MPAA and the Hollywood studios in the DeCSS legal debacle. A
judge in Santa Clara County (California) Superior Court issued an
injunction on Friday, preventing web sites from offering the DeCSS
software. You can
the story here at Yahoo. There's also
second story via Yahoo from Retuers.
Okay everyone... take another hit of that bad office coffee and get
back to work! We'll be back later with more. Enjoy your Monday, and stay
Well, we've got some pretty cool stuff for you to check out today.
First of all, we've got a big
Mill update with tentative DVD release information for such
titles as The Insider, Princess
Mononoke, Being John Malkovich,
End of Days, Man
on the Moon, Sleepy Hollow
and lots more. If you've got a favorite film from last year, it's
probably listed there somewhere - don't miss it!
Also, we figured you might dig an early sneak peak at the cover artwork
for those just announced Warner titles, Eyes
Wide Shut, Three Kings
and Diner. So here ya go...
There's big changes in store for DVD Express. After their recent merger
with Maximum Holdings, DVD Express has paid $2 million to purchase the
domain name Express.com,
which they will become soon. And they'll be adding computer games, music
and more to their line-up of offered products. Guess they're gonna be
going after Amazon before long...
Express, they're running a special right now where you don't have
to pay for shipping on discs you buy until tomorrow night (at Midnight
PST). That shapes up to be a pretty good deal, so you might want to head
on over there if you've got some DVDs to buy in the next 24 hours or so.
FYI - our friends over at Trimark have asked us to remind you all that
they're holding a live online chat with actor Tom Sizemore on Tuesday,
January 25th (the street date for Natural
Born Killers) at 7 PM PST. Head on over to the
Pictures DVD web site for all the details.
Entertainment's gone and done it again - they've updated their
News page with lots more great titles. Included this time are Never
Cry Wolf (love that flick), Dave
Matthews Band: Listener Supported, The
Astronaut's Wife, Diner,
The Maltese Falcon, Key
Largo and more.
Finally today, the MPAA and the Hollywood studios seem to have won
their first victory against those who would distribute the DeCSS
out the story at Yahoo (via Business Wire). A judge in U.S.
District Court has granted an injunction against three Internet web site
operators in New York, forcing them to remove the hacking software from
has more on the case, which is just one of two Federal cases
Have a great weekend!
Okay... we've got those reviews for you! First of all, Todd's checked
in with a look at Fox's
and Columbia TriStar's
Soldier: The Return. Yessir... Van Damage is back! (and we've
added this new title to our
reviews on his films on DVD).
But that's not all - for just 3 payments of $19.95, we'll send you this
matching set of steak knives! Okay, we're kidding. But we do have one
more review for you today, and we think it's pretty exciting. How about
a First Look at Trimark's new director's cut DVD of
Born Killers? Cool, no?
Unfortunately, when I first saw NBK
in the theater, I had a splitting headache going in. So you can imagine
what I thought coming out. And having just recently seen Any
Given Sunday (how the HELL can you screw up a football movie
starring Al Pacino?), I personally think Oliver's taken one too many
hits off the bong. But I'm gonna take another look at NBK
on DVD, and see if (as Todd would say) I've been too hasty in judging
Mr. Stone's most controversial work. Love it or hate it, it's worth
spinning on DVD at least once.
In other news, we've got a look at some of the other cool titles that
Trimark has in the works in today's update of
Rumor Mill. And we're gonna have bigger update in there
tomorrow, with the latest on the forthcoming DVD release of some of your
favorites from last year. Don't miss it!
And just in case you haven't seen it yet,
a link to that Wired story on SpectraDisc (those new DVDs
with the self-destructing coating). And as predicted, the reaction among
Bits readers so far to Andy's
story ranges from outright anger ("NOT DIVX AGAIN!?") to
indifference. I'll be interested to see what the studios think about the
Our update is a bit late in the day, but we'll be back earlier tomorrow
with some new DVD reviews. In the meantime, we've got a massive new
DVD Cover Art update for you. We've just posted more than 60
new cover scans from forthcoming titles, and there are some great ones
in the mix. Among those included are 187,
Astronaut's Wife, The Bear,
The Big Sleep, Double
Jeopardy, Brokedown Palace,
Force 10 from Navarone, Galaxina,
The End of Violence, The
Maltese Falcon, Othello,
& Jerry, The Sixth Sense,
The Story of Us and the new "Gold"
editions of Mulan and Pinocchio.
today for an interesting story on the new move by the
DVD Copy Control
Association (DVDCCA) to obtain a preliminary injunction against
those distributing the CSS-encryption hacking software. Apparently, the
judge in the case is reviewing relevant information, and needs more time
to make his decision.
Also, our friend Andy Patrizio's gonna have another interesting story
tomorrow over at Wired,
on a new kind of "time-limited" DVD disks. The discs have a
special clear coating on them - the laser in your player starts a
chemical reaction that slowly turns the coating blue, which eventually
blocks the laser from reading the disc. So once you get the disc home
and start playing it, you have a limited window in which to watch it
before it doesn't work anymore. Then you just throw it away. Basically,
this is the Divx concept without the specially-equipped player and the
phone line. I'm skeptical on the idea, especially in light of the
reaction to Divx and its timely death. But I'd like to hear what some of
you think. Look for Andy's story, and give me an e-mail.
(LATE UPDATE - 1/18/00 -
2:35 PM PST)
This just in: we've just gotten word that Warner Home Video has set
March 14th as the street date for VHS and DVD versions of Stanley
Kubrick's final film, Eyes Wide Shut.
Warner has also slated Three Kings
for VHS and DVD release on April 11th. There's no word on potential
extras on Eyes, but Three
Kings will include deleted scenes and a director's commentary
track, and will also be "web-enabled". Both discs will carry
an SRP of $24.98, with an MAP of $19.95.
(EARLY UPDATE - 1/18/00 - 1:15 PM PST)
Not much happening news-wise today, so we'll make this quick and get
back to work on some other goodies we've got planned for the next few
days. But Todd Doogan has checked in again today with three more new DVD
reviews. He's given Columbia TriStar's
Blue a spin, as well as Fox's
Placid and MGM's remake of
Thomas Crown Affair. Todd says Lake
Placid is a better little B-movie than it got credit for in
the press, and all three discs are worth a look.
Also Synapse has announced the DVD release of the sequel to Vampyros
Lesbos... She Killed in Ecstasy.
The disc will SRP for $29.99 and is expected on June 6th (tentatively).
It will include a new widescreen digital transfer of the uncut version
of the film (in the original 1.66:1 aspect ratio), and the original
German audio with removable English subtitles.
Well, I hope you all had a good weekend, and that lots of you here in
the States are off on this Martin Luther King Day. Otherwise, I imagine
you're sitting in your office or cubicle with that first cup of coffee
in hand, just trying to face the new week, right? Let me tell ya... I
feel your pain. My Minnesota Vikings lost this weekend in the playoffs,
and it's time to start the annual "maybe next year" mantra. If
someone had told me at the beginning of the year that the NFL conference
championship games would be played by St. Louis, Jacksonville, Tampa Bay
and Tennessee, I'd have told 'em to have their head examined. Go figure.
Anyway, if you're back at work and/or recovering from football
withdrawal, we've got some stuff for you to waste a little company time
with and maybe start the week off right.
First of all, for those of you who don't read on the weekend, we posted
1st Annual Digital Bits Bitsy Awards very early on Saturday
morning. It's definitely a must-see, and we think it's well worth the
Next up, we've got
second Message to George Lucas on behalf of Star
Wars fans with DVD players. By the way... if any of you know
of Star Wars DVD bootlegs out
there OTHER than the ones you'll see by clicking on the message, please
e-mail us good quality cover scans of them (don't compress them or size
them small - we need high quality). We've counted 9 different bootlegs
so far, but we know there's more. And we're trying to make a point...
Todd's got a new reviews for you today. He's looked at Columbia TriStar
new DVD version of Dick.
This comedy is definitely worth a look.
We've also gotten the first
DVD Player Sales numbers for the new year - some 44,191 players
were sold in the week ending January 7th.
Around the Net, Image
Entertainment has again updated their
News page with details on several new titles. Paramount's got El
Dorado, True Grit, The
Adventures of Sebastian Cole and Star
Trek, Volumes 9 and 10 on the way. USA (formerly Polygram) is
rolling out The Muse, Universal's
got Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor
Dreamcoat on the way, and there's more.
Okay... go get yourself another cup of coffee and have a great week!
1st Annual Digital Bits Bitsy Awards are now online! (piped-in
sound of a massive crowd cheering) Yeah, I know... they're like a day
late. But not from lack of effort. We really had no idea how much work
it was gonna take to get them all sorted out, and to get the pages
formatted. Case in point - I have yet to sleep tonight. Or this morning.
Is it morning? Yikes... it is. Well anyway, I digress. The point is that
Todd, Frank and I worked very hard on them, and we think you'll find
them worth checking out. We give you our picks for the Best and Worst
DVD had to offer in 1999, and unlike other awards... we tell you why we
picked 'em. And even if you don't agree with us, it's at least good
water cooler fodder for Monday morning. Plus, we think the little Bitsy
award dude we created is pretty neat. ;-)
Did you hear that all seven of the major Hollywood studios filed
separate lawsuits on Friday to stop distribution of the CSS-hack? It's
out this press release...
this one too. I'm frankly too tired to care at the moment.
This just in from Doogan: "We just found out that if you head over
Express and preorder the new DVD of
Better Place (and you're one of the first 1000 to do so) your
copy will come signed by producer Kevin Smith and writer/director
Vincent Pereira... AND will come with a piece of the work print for you
to love and cherish. Good luck - it's apparently going fast."
Also, remember that
Todd did on Big Bad Jim Van Bebber? Well click on over to the
- Don May, Jr. has put up
version of the story... along with downloadable MP3 files of Jim's
actual ranting phone messages to Don! I listened to just one and...
well, if this weren't so scary, it would be pretty funny. Hell - it is
funny. But there's some pretty nasty language used, so the easily
offended need not listen. But everyone else should get a kick out of
Finally, a little nod to one of our sponsors -
Amazon.com. Did you
know that their CEO Jeff Bezos was named
Person of the Year for 1999? I don't know where our heads have
been (buried up to our eyeballs in DVDs, I suppose), but we think it's
pretty cool that an Internet type gets a mention. Congrats, Jeff!
Well, that's all for now. Enjoy our
awards, and we'll see you Monday. After much sleep. GO VIKINGS!
At last -
coverage of CES 2000 is complete! We've just posted my complete
commentary to go along with all those pictures, and we've updated
Notes with his thoughts on the event as well. Do check them
We've also updated our
DVD player sales chart with information for the last week of 1999
- 164,242 players were shipped into retail in the States. That makes
646,290 for December. And with that, the numbers for all of 1999 are
complete as well. The yearly total? 4,019,389 players, bringing the
total number of players shipped into Region 1 to 5,423,786 - almost 5.5
million! I think it's safe to say that 1999 was the Year of DVD. We've
updated the listings above as well.
Around the Internet today,
Entertainment has updated their
News Page again with news of lots more DVD titles from Disney,
Warner and Artisan, just to name a few. There are some good titles
mentioned here, including The Sixth Sense,
Splendor In The Grass and The
Limey: Special Edition, as well as updated information on
Troma's Cannibal! The Musical and
Killer Condom special editions.
Speaking of Troma, we've got fun little special report coming soon, so
Also today, there's a
new article over at Video Business that seems to refute
some of what we've been hearing about the long wait for the Star
Wars films on DVD. Here's the quote:
"The Lucasfilm spokeswoman shot down the rumor that Lucas intends
to hold off releasing the trilogy on disc until all three installments
have completed their theatrical runs, saying Lucas simply "hasn't
made up his mind yet" about the timing of Phantom
Menace's DVD release."
I suppose we should take that with a grain of salt, but maybe there's
reason to hope. Keep your fingers crossed.
This just in from Doogan: "A little bird tells me that Synapse is
about to announce the production and release onto DVD, of one of the
best Japanese horror films (and a personal Oliver Stone favorite), Evil
Dead Trap. God only knows when it will finally street, but
it's a pretty cool announcement anyway..."
And finally today, you've heard of the Oscars and Emmys, and you know
the Grammys and Golden Globes. We'd like to introduce you to the Bitsys!
Tomorrow, we're going to debut the 1st Annual
Digital Bits Bitsy Awards, to recognize that best (and worst)
that 1999 had to offer for DVD fans. Don't miss it!
See you tomorrow...
(LATE UPDATE -
1/11/00 - 4:30 PM PST)
Just a quick update - keep your eyes peeled for the new TV commercials
for today's video release of Toy Story.
According to the TV ads now running, Toy
Story is "Now available on Video and DVD." As we
all know, there IS no DVD version of currently available. It's coming,
but it's gonna be a while. Somebody in Disney marketing made a big
(EARLY UPDATE - 1/11/00 - Noon PST)
The CES stuff is almost done, including Frank's 2 cents on what he saw
(and heard) at the show. We should have it us later this afternoon. But
we wanted to jump in earlier with a couple of interesting things.
First of all, Doogan's been following a controversy that's just erupted
over Synapse's about-to-street DVD of Deadbeat
at Dawn. Apparently, director Jim Van Beeber is none too
pleased with the DVD... and no one involved in the disc can figure out
what he's talking about. Todd's got his perspective on the whole thing
in today's new
Views column. Weird, man.
Columbia TriStar has set DVD versions of The
Bear in the Big Blue House and IMAX's Thrill
Ride: The Science of Fun to street on March 14th. Bear
in the Big Blue House will include three episodes of the
popular Jim Henson show, along with six sing-along songs. SRP is $24.95.
And Thrill Ride includes talent
files and a "making-of" featurette, also for $24.95. In
addition to those two titles, the studio is releasing a DVD of Indochine
on March 21st. This will include the extended international version of
the film, along with talent files, for an SRP of $27.95.
Finally this morning, given all the hostility that seems to be brewing
around the Net among those angry about George Lucas' decision to wait on
DVD releases of the Star Wars
films, we wanted to make a statement of our own on the subject. Remember
Lucasfilm took a poke at Godzilla's "Size Does Matter"
campaign prior to the release of Episode
I? Now it's OUR turn to take a poke -
here for The Digital Bits's message to George re: DVD. We
just couldn't resist - hope he gets it! By the way, anyone who wants the
image can take it and repost it as you will (we only ask that you leave
it unedited, and maybe give us a link as credit). You can be sure that
this isn't our last word on the subject. ;-)
As you've probably noticed,
the pictures we took at CES 2000 are up on the site. We've had
lots of people asking us questions about them, and you should be aware
that the commentary will be online soon to complete our coverage of the
In the meantime, Todd's been busy looking at more discs. Today, he's
checked in with his thoughts on Dimension's
Mrs. Tingle, which has dual DTS and Dolby Digital soundtracks.
And he's also taken a look at one of the more strange and interesting
films either of us have seen on DVD in a while - Werner Herzog's
Dwarfs Started Small from Anchor Bay. Be sure to check 'em
Entertainment's weighed in with another of their
News updates. This time around, they've got the skinny on a ton of
And those of you who care about the Star
Wars DVD controversy will be delighted to learn that
been covered by E! Online. George... we know you'd like to do
something special with the DVDs yourself, and make those ultra
super-cool DVD special editions when you've got the time. But in the
meantime, how 'bout you pass the task off to some of your well-trained
and highly-paid staff... and let them give us non-special edition discs
now? Just give us anamorphic widescreen, 5.1 sound and a heap of
trailers, and most will be plenty happy. But trust us on this - if you
wait until 2005 to release these films on DVD, the balance of the Force
among your loyal fans is gonna shift to the Dark Side. And I mean FAST.
2000 Picture Gallery is now online! We've got almost 80
pictures of everything DVD we could find at the show and then some.
You'll see DVD-Audio players, DVD-Video players, progressive scan
players, portables and combinations thereof. You'll also see technology
demonstrations of DVD-R and HD-DVD. There's plasma screen digital sets,
rear-projection digital, direct-view digital, "mobile" home
theater - you name it.
The pictures took forever to get prepped for the site, but they're all
there complete with captions. I'm still compiling my notes from the show
- literally a WHOLE notebook full - so you'll notice that in between the
pictures are lots of fill-in text chunks that look like this: sdfsdfsdf.
Sometime this weekend, they'll be replaced with my commentary on the
pictures, including information on lots of cool items NOT pictured -
demonstrations and the like. I'd hoped to have it all up at once, but
with the pictures done, I figured you'd waited long enough. So just be
aware that if you have questions after looking at all the pix, they'll
probably be answered by the commentary when it goes up. In addition,
Frank's working hard on his thoughts for a new Frank's
Notes column, which should be up sometime on Monday. He's
going to give you his comments on the audio-related stuff at the show,
specifically his opinion on direct comparisons between Sony's SACD and
DVD-Audio. Note that you can also visit our friends at
all the daily news from the show floor.
So enjoy the pix, and check back for all our notes and commentary over
the next couple of days. We'll also be back on Monday with a full
update, including more DVD reviews from Todd. Have a great weekend, and
(LATE UPDATE - 1/7/00 - 10 PM PST)
I'm working on it... the CES coverage is coming! It turns out Frank and
I took 114 pictures at the show yesterday, and we've weeded 'em down to
about 80 that we like. But just getting them transferred from the
digital camera took a good hour! I've been working hard to get 'em all
cropped, cleaned up and compressed for the Net, and to get my thoughts
together to go along with them. It's coming along, but it will probably
be the wee early hours of Saturday morning before they're posted. But
we've got LOTS of new DVD players and equipment to show you, so it's
worth the wait.
In the meantime, we've posted the answers to
Contest, and announced the winners as well.
on over there to see who won, and thanks to everyone who played!
Back in a bit...
(EARLY UPDATE - 1/7/00 - 11:45 AM PST)
Whew! What a day yesterday was...! After a handful of hours of sleep,
Frank and I blew through the Las Vegas Convention Center like a couple
of barnstormers, taking in all the sights and sounds. And it was a
surprisingly interesting show.
Usually, when you walk around CES, all you see are super-gadgets and "magic"
box devices that you know will never see the light of day. If you're
lucky, you might find a handful of devices that are practical, and will
actually be made available to consumers. But this year, both Frank and I
were struck by just how many of the products on display were not only
practical, but useful, and already on the way to store shelves. Given
that we were looking at DVD-related devices, there were a surprising
number of cool new features and capabilities. DVD-Audio was in evidence
at several manufacturers' displays, as were DVD-R capable players. There
were a TON of new portable players to see, and lots of nifty little
Frank and I covered a LOT of ground yesterday, and took nearly a
hundred pictures. After a long day on the show floor, we caught the
Group's annual reception at the Bellagio, which was packed
wall-to-wall with industry executives and reporters. Then we high-tailed
it out of there for the 4-hour drive back to Los Angeles. We got in very
early in the morning, managed to catch a few winks, and now I'm hard at
work on our full report. It's going to take quite a while to go through
all the pictures, and get them all ready for the Net, so be patient. But
when I get the report up later today, we think it will be worth the
In the meantime, I thought it would be interesting to let you know
about developments revealed at the Video Group reception last night. A
number of interesting facts and figures were announced. First of all,
the gathering was told that some 4 million DVD players were shipped in
the States in 1999 alone. And the growth curve for the format is
expected to accelerate dramatically. In January of 1999, there were 1.4
million players in the U.S. market. Now, there are some 5.25 million
(nearly 5 million of which are believed to be IN homes, generating $1
billion in retail hardware sales in 1999). And by January of 2001, the
industry expects 12 million players to be "installed" in
consumers' homes. That would represent 10% of the VHS households in the
States. Note that the industry believes that there are also 10 million
DVD-ROM drives currently installed, in addition to the 5 million
stand-alone players. That's 15 million DVD-capable devices in homes.
These numbers make DVD the single most successful consumer electronics
product launch ever.
And the good news isn't only on the hardware side. Some 100 million
units of DVD software shipped in 1999 (10 million in Qtr. 1, 15 million
in Qtr. 2, 25 million in Qtr. 3, and a whopping 50 million in Qtr. 4).
That adds up to $2 billion in software sales for the studios in 1999
Ah... but that's not all. The DVD Video Group dramatically gave notice
of its commitment to the forthcoming DVD-Audio format as well. The DVD
Video Group last night officially changed its name to the DVD
Entertainment Group (their new slogan is "DVD: The Medium of the
Millennium"). It was further announced that all 5 major music
companies (Warner Music, Universal, Sony Music, BMG and EMI) are now
members, in order to ensure the smooth rollout of DVD-Audio as part of
the DVD format standard. Sony Music has long been a member of the Group
(as have a couple of the others). What does this mean for Sony's
projections for their Super Audio CD (SACD) technology, previously seen
as a competitor to DVD-Audio? The only thing we can say for sure is that
Sony will definitely be supportive of DVD-Audio.
As for the software side of DVD-Audio, Warner Music's special DVD
consultant (and the founder of Elektra Records), Jac Holzman, said that
he expects musicians and the music industry as a whole to embrace
DVD-Audio enthusiastically. "Any artist can get up to speed on 5.1
recording in 2 hours. DVD-Audio brings the poetry back into music
All right kids - I've got to get back to work on the CES report. I'll
get it up as quickly as I can, without cutting corners on quality or
content. Look for it later today. And we'll be back later also to
announce the 20 winners of
Contest. You can enter until 7 PM PST today, so get crackin'!
See you later...
Okay campers... it's the wee small hours of the AM and The
Digital Bits is in Vegas baby! Our DVD-Audio guru Frank Ortiz
and I are gettin' ready to make the rounds at CES later today, and get
an up-close look-see at what's coming in the way of new equipment for
our favorite format. It's going to be a very busy day, so this update
will be brief. But back at the Bits'
East Coast office in Atlanta, Todd's working hard on lots more reviews
for you all. Today, he's taken a look at Synapse's new
Lesbos. It ain't for the kiddies, but for you fans of grade-B
European lesbian vampire flicks, this disc will make you happy, happy,
happy. And we KNOW you're out there...!
Anyway, we'll be back tomorrow with our report on the show and more.
We're gonna try to get lots of pictures of the players and other goodies
on display - even brought extra batteries for the digital camera! So
until then, watch the news services (like Yahoo)
for all the latest press releases from the show.
Hey... did you know that the Vikings are at 6 to 1 odds to win the
Superbowl? You just KNOW I had to check the sportsbook for the odds on
(LATE UPDATE - 1/5/00 - 3 PM PST)
All right - Doogan's back today with a trio of DVD reviews to kick off
the New Year. You'll find his take on Disney's
and the Tramp, Universal's
Red Violin, and Columbia TriStar's
Lola Run. Don't miss 'em!
Also, we wanted to let you know that the latest issue of Video
Business has confirmed that story we had
in the Rumor
Mill last month about Disney dropping their DVD prices. Buena
Vista has indeed quietly dropped the list price of their forthcoming
Tarzan DVD to $34.95 from $39.95.
The studio has also indicated that this lower DVD pricing may become
permanent soon. And other studios are following suit. Columbia TriStar
has reduced the SRP on several of their upcoming titles by $2-5, while
Universal has also reduced the price of several of their Collector's
Edition DVDs by some $3. Says Universal Home Video prez Craig Hornblau.
"I think now the consumer base is larger and we're past the core
videophile willing to pay more."
(EARLY UPDATE -
1/5/00 - 1:30 PM PST)
There's a bunch of news today, so let's do a quick rundown. First of
all, CEA has forwarded us their DVD player sales numbers for the 4th
week of December - 110,005 units sold into retail. With just one week
left to report for 1999, the format's already grown to 5.25 million
players in the States. Be sure to check the listing
full chart, which have both been updated accordingly.
Now then... the official word is in. According to Fox and Lucasfilm,
there will be no Star Wars DVDs in
Star Wars website has issued a statement confirming that
while April 4th, 2000 is the video release date for VHS, (as
we reported back in November) don't expect a DVD. There's no word
on a laserdisc version. You can also
the story via Yahoo. Looks like the bootleg DVD business just got
a huge shot in the arm...
may have heard this already, but Warner and CNN have teamed up to
release VHS and DVD versions of the network's Millennium
2000 coverage. The tape and disc should have gone on sale
yesterday at a store near you... although given what a snooze the whole
thing was, why you'd want to own a copy, I don't know.
Columbia TriStar has announced a DVD version of Jakob
the Liar, starring Robin Williams. The DVD will street on
March 21st, and will SRP for $27.95. Look for it to include a making of
featurette, the isolated score, and a director's commentary by Peter
Media forecasters over at InfoTech
made their predictions for DVD in 2000, and things look rosy. They
believe that DVD penetration into U.S. households will exceed 10% this
year. If sales continue at the current rate, I'd say that's a safe bet.
And news is already starting to come in from CES: Panasonic has
announced the debut of their DVD-Video recorders. Their first unit, the
VDR-10000, "can record 2 hours of high-quality motion video in the
SP mode and maximum 4 hours recording in the LP mode." Be sure to
full press release. And a company in my neck of the woods, called
announced a DVD changer that can play both sides of your DVDs,
eliminating the need to flip them. Cool.
The Digital Bits will be at CES
all day tomorrow, and we'll be going around to take a look at all the
latest DVD-related gadgets and gizmos. We'll be taking lots of pictures,
and when we get back on Friday afternoon, we'll post our report on what
In the meantime, we'll be back later today with those reviews. Stay
(LATE UPDATE - 1/4/00 - 1:30 PM PST)
Okay... we've just updated the
Mill today with lots of just-announced upcoming DVD
information from several studios. There are some good titles here,
including The Limey, Anna
and the King, Hook and
Key Largo, so don't miss it.
Also, I just want to make sure all of you saw our
post from 12/29, about all those new Disney classic animated films
that are on their way to VHS and DVD later this year. There are a bunch
of great classics listed, and we even have word on Toy
Story. Do give it a read if you missed it over the holiday.
We've got a bunch of Image
Entertainment news for you. According to Technicolor, Image
was the biggest DVD title producer of 1999, with some 447 titles
released during the year (Warner came in second with 262). And they've
got lots of great titles coming in the new few weeks.
First of all, their
The Second Coming and
Crow: Rockin' the Globe Live discs are due to street today. On
January 11th, they'll be releasing Another
Man's Poison with Bette Davis - one of Davis's only films
(1952) that has never seen a North American home video release. It
co-stars Gary Merrill and was produced by Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. in
England. January 11th will also see the release of Flash
Gordon: Space Soldiers, a 245 minute collection of classic
Buster Crabbe Flash Gordon serials
from the 1930s. Three new Buster Keaton DVDs also street on the same
day, The Saphead (paired with The
High Sign and One Week),
Seven Chances (paired with Neighbors
and The Balloonatic) and College
(paired with Hard Luck, The
Blacksmith and The Electric House)...
all Keaton classics. January 18th will see the next two volumes of their
Twilight Zone series released.
Volume 16 features the episodes
And When the Sky Was Opened, In
His Image and The Last Night of a
Jockey. Volume 17
includes What You Need, What's
In the Box, The Mirror
and The Old Man in the Cave. And
for kids and nostalgia-fans, Image will be releasing a Davey
and Goliath DVD on January 25th.
February 1st will see Cornel Wilde, Richard Conte and Brian Donlevy in
1954's noir-classic, The Big Combo.
February 8th will see three more Chaplin DVD classics: City
Lights (featuring the original mono soundtrack and a
newly-recorded digital stereo recording of the original score), The
Kid and A Dog's Life
(on one disc), and The Circus.
Also that day is Mike Nichols and Miranda Richardson in The
Designated Mourner, based on the Wallace Shawn play. The DVD
contains an audio commentary by Shawn. Classic
Albums: Meatloaf - Bat Out of Hell and Classic
Albums: Phil Collins - Face Value will also be released on
February 8th. February 15th will see two more Twilight
Zone discs. Volume 18
will include Shot An Arrow Into the Air,
Death Ship and Still
Valley. Volume 19 will
include A Most Unusual Camera,
The Jungle, The
7th is Made Up of Phantoms and Uncle
Simon. February 15th will also be the release date of four Ed
Wood movies: Bride of the Monster,
Jail Bait, Glen
or Glenda and Plan 9 From Outer
Space. Plan 9 also
includes the 2-hour long retrospective documentary, Flying
Saucers Over Hollywood: The Plan 9 Companion, featuring
interviews with stars Gregory Walcott, Carl Anthony, Paul Marco, Vampira
and Conrad Brooks, U.S. sci-fi historian Forrest J. Ackerman and
directors (and fans) Sam Raimi and Joe Dante. One of the first IMAX
films ever made, Beavers, will
also appear on the 15th. And finally, on February 22nd, the Grandfather
of Gore comes to DVD! H.G. Lewis's Blood
Trilogy will be released in newly remastered special editions
(Blood Feast, Two
Thousand Manicas and Color Me
Blood Red). Whew!
We've got lots of good stuff coming for you tomorrow, including several
new reviews and more. See you then!
(EARLY UPDATE - 1/4/00 - 10:30 AM PST)
We've got a larger update coming in a little while, but I wanted to
jump in early to point out that you CAN NOT purchase those Star
Wars bootleg DVDs from the
website we mentioned yesterday. Since we linked to their site yesterday,
they have been inundated with requests to purchase the discs. They DO
NOT sell them, and they can't point you to a site that does. They simply
have pictures of the discs for you to look at for information purposes
only, rather like the
the Force article we did a while back on the Episode
I bootleg. Apparently,
yesterday said that the site is actually selling the discs, and it's
causing lots of problems. DVD Inside
has asked me to ask all of you to please not e-mail them wanting to buy
We'll be back with more soon, including more upcoming title
information. Stay tuned...
Ah yes... back to the old grind. We know it's tough to come back to
work after a nice long holiday, so we've got a little something to
soften the blow for some of you - the first
Mill post for 2000! Today, we have information for you on MGM
and Paramount's tentatively planned May releases, as well as a laundry
list of what Rhino has coming for early 2000. Bond, Elvis and a certain
vengeful Scotsman are the order of the day...
It's a very slow news day, as just about everyone it seems is wading
very carefully into 2000. So there's not much to report. And everyone is
also busy getting ready for the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas
this week, which promises to have lots of new DVD gear in the spotlight.
We're going to be at CES for a day later this week, and we'll be giving
you all a close-up look at the latest DVD technology, as always.
In the meantime, there are a few links worth checking out today. First
of all, I recently found
God & Devil Show online, and man... is it ever funny. It's
an animated interview program, where God and The Devil talk to various
celebrities. The current episode features a chat with Walt Disney's
cryogenically frozen head. But if you click on
Reruns section, you'll find a must-watch episode with George
Lucas. Trust me - it's worth at least a smile...
Speaking of Lucas, the DVD
Inside website (located in Germany) has just posted pictures
from those Star Wars bootleg DVDs
(including screen shots and menu pages), for those who are curious. Just
scroll down the page a little for the links.
DreamWorks and Universal have launched their
web site, although there's not much on it now except the trailer.
Sure looks cool though!
In response to my New Year's comments, it seems we CAN indeed do better
than the new VW Bug in terms of creating Jetsons-like
flying cars. At least, there are a few people who are trying. Check out
groovy new M400
Skycar. Thanks to everyone who sent that link!
And finally today, if you're looking for a great new movie to see, I'd
like to recommend The Cider House Rules
to you. It's one of the best films I've seen recently, and I have to
tell you... the audience at the screening I went to this weekend
actually applauded after the film was over. I don't want to spoil it by
saying too much, but it's well worth a watch, and I hope it doesn't get
overlooked at Oscar time.
1/1/2000 - Happy New Year!
See... it's 2000, and we're still here just the same as always! Okay...
maybe not EXACTLY the same. If 20th Century Fox can become Fox 2000, we
can at least change our logo, right? We had to do SOMETHING to
commemorate the occasion. And sadly that trip to the Moon some of us had
hoped as kids to be able to take by the year 2000 just wasn't happening.
Where are all those Jetsons hover
cars we were supposed to have by now, huh? That's what I wanna know. Is
the new VW Bug REALLY the best we can do? Ah well... a fella can still
From all of us here at The Digital Bits
to all of you, have a happy and safe New Year!
See ya Monday!
Boy... that spiffy Y2K feeling sure does wear off fast when you start
thinking about having to go back to work, doesn't it? ;-)
We've announced the winner of the December
- congratulations to Ingrid Stamatson of Wichita,
Kansas! Ingrid correctly unscrambled all the names in the puzzle,
and was selected in our drawing as the winner.
Click here to
see all of the answers - the names unscrambled. We had a record number
of entries this time, with 1,864 in all! We got some great comments
along with all the entries - everyone seems to really be enjoying the
contests, and Sarah very much appreciates all your kind words. She
definitely works hard on them, and she's got lots more in the works for
next year. The next one will start in January, but you still have a
chance to win some cool Columbia Records music DVDs in
Contest, which runs until January 7th.
Thanks for playing! See you in 2000!
Whew! Stay tuned...
We've got some good information in today's
Mill - you'll definitely not want to miss it. Some of our
sources have been talking recently about director Steven Spielberg, and
his plans for the DVD format, now that the market has topped 5 million
players. Think you'll be happy campers after reading what they've been
telling us. Here's a hint: objects in mirror ARE closer than they
The December Trivia
Contest ends at 7 PM PST tonight, so be sure to get your
entries in fast for your chance to win that Pioneer DVD player! And
Contest, which runs until January 7th - 20 people will take
home a Columbia Records DVD, so get those entries in as well!
There's not much in the way of news today, except that the judge in the
DeCSS lawsuit yesterday denied an industry motion to slap a temporary
restraining order against those distributing the hacking software. Round
One goes to the hackers... but it's only the opening salvo in a LONG
battle. There's a few stories on this, first
brief one from Yahoo, and
longer one from them as well. And as always,
folks at Slashdot have something to say on the subject.
Apparently, the defendants in court yesterday made their point by
passing around copies of the DeCSS software on disc RIGHT THERE IN THE
COURTROOM, which resulted in big laughs. Oh my....
(via Yahoo) has a list of the Top 5 Biggest Events (in
computing and technology) of the Past 1,000 Years, as well as the Top 5
Flops. Divx definitely made that second list.
Well, other than that we'll be back tonight to announce the winner of
the Trivia Contest, this is our
last Bits update for 1999. So
assuming we all survive the Y2K bug, having to watch a fossilized Dick
Clark act like a fool for one more year, and drinking way too much...
we'll see you back here bright and early Monday, January 3rd! Be sure to
watch out for guys with dynamite strapped to their bodies. And for the
more impressionable of you out there, remember... the world isn't going
to end tomorrow night. I don't know about you, but I plan to wake up at
about Noon on Saturday morning and watch the Badgers stomp Stanford in
the Rose Bowl. So any fire and brimstone had better wait until after the
game... go Wisconsin! ;-)
From all us to all of you... have a Happy New Year!
Here's news we couldn't wait to post, and it's going to make a lot of
you very happy indeed. Disney has revealed that they have plans to
release a bunch more of their animated classics simultaneously on VHS
and DVD in 2000!
Many of the non-moritorium animated favorites are being re-released as
special "Gold" editions next year. Here's a list of what to
expect (subject to change). Note that only titles for which a DVD
release is confirmed are noted as such. However, Disney has said that
their plan is to release a DVD version of all their animated films
day-and-date with VHS whenever possible, so you can reasonably expect
that most (if not all) of the titles below will include DVD editions.
January 11th - Toy
Story (VHS only at this time - see below)
February 1st - Mulan
(VHS and re-packaged DVD)
March 7th - Pinocchio
(VHS and NEW DVD with the missing "making of" documentary seen
previously on laserdisc)
April 4th - The
Aristocats (VHS & DVD)
May 2nd - The
Fox and the Hound (VHS & DVD), The
Three Caballeros/ Saludos Amigos, A
June 6th - Make
Mine Music/ Melody Time
June 20th - A
Goofy Movie, Fun & Fancy Free
July 4th - Pocahontas,
Alice in Wonderland, Mary
July 18th - The
Rescuers Down Under, Robin Hood
August 1st - Hercules
September 5th - Pocahontas
October 3rd - The
Black Cauldron, The Adventures of
Ichabod & Mr. Toad
November 7th - The
Sword in the Stone, Oliver &
Company, Bedknobs &
Broomsticks, Pete's Dragon
December 5th - The
Hunchback of Notre Dame
As far as Toy Story, I'm told
that Pixar is working on creating a new DVD master directly from their
digital animation files, as was done on A
Bug's Life. But to do so requires that all of the files be
recalled from data storage, and rebuilt in Pixar's computer systems for
the transfer. In addition, a recomposed full frame version must also be
created. And both of these processes are going to take time. The same
holds true for an eventual release of Toy
Story 2, although since work was only recently completed on
this film, all of the data is currently available for use in mastering a
DVD version. So while there will be DVD versions of both films, they may
not appear until mid-2000 or later.
to this link on the Disney.com website for more
information on Disney's Gold Collection.
Also, you should be aware that many of the titles we've recently
mentioned as being "in the works" from the studios for
February and March have now been officially announced (such as MGM's
slate). Check our Rumor
Mill posts for the past six weeks or so for lists of all the
specific titles (starting with our
In other news, there are a flurry of new reports on the Net today about
that DeCSS lawsuit. Check out these articles from
(via Yahoo) for the latest.
It's going to be extremely interesting to see how all this plays out.
You can be certain that Hollywood and the major DVD manufacturers are
going to be extremely aggressive in pressing their legal attack against
those involved in the hack. But there are complicated issues at play
here. There's the free speech argument - but free speech is limited in
cases where a person is knowingly breaking the law, or encouraging
people to do so (as is the case with the websites that offered the DeCSS
software or links to it). What about the hackers who reverse-engineered
the software itself? Is that illegal? Well... under U.S. law,
circumventing copy-protection technology IS now illegal. But it's not
against the law to purchase a product, reverse-engineer it to find out
how it works, and then to make that information public... in the
non-digital world at least. With software, it becomes more complicated.
And with encryption-related issues, it's even more so. Add to that the
fact that the alleged wrong-doers reside in multiple countries, the
sheer amount of money involved (DVD is fast-growing into a major
industry), and the likelihood that this incident (and the legal actions
that result from it) will set a major precedent for digital
copy-protection legislation and enforcement in the future (which is only
going to become a bigger issue as time goes by)... and what you have
here is a quagmire of anamorphic proportions.