UPDATE - 7/26/00 - 1 PM PDT)
We've flooding out as much good stuff for you today as we can. We've
just uploaded Todd Doogan's early review of MGM's new
is Spinal Tap DVD, and it's well worth a look. Whether you own
the original Criterion DVD release or not, you'll definitely want this
new disc (street date September 12th).
But that's not all - we've also just posted an in-depth interview with
DVD producer Van Ling. Van is the man responsible for the recent DVD
versions of The Abyss, Independence
Day and the upcoming T2: Ultimate
Edition. He's also had a long and successful career in the
film industry, working closely with director James Cameron on several of
his films and on the special effects for numerous other projects as
well. He's an interesting guy and I think you'll find his thoughts on
DVD well worth a read. With that, we give you...
Ling on DVD.
Now then... the staff of The Digital Bits
is going to be taking a much needed week's vacation, starting tomorrow.
But trust me on this... when we get back, we'll have plenty of goodies
for you. We've been working hard on some very special feature stories,
and we'll start posting those when we return. We'll also have lots of
new reviews, a special contest or two and lots more. If you're new to
the Bits, now might be a great
time to read some of the many past features and reviews we've done
(which you can find by browsing our
So have a great week. And as always... stay tuned!
(EARLY UPDATE - 7/26/00 - almost Midnight
Okay... it isn't quite Midnight, but I'm posting this and calling it
Wednesday anyway. Editor's privilege. First up, we've got more upcoming
DVD artwork for you. How about a look at all the upcoming James
Bond Wave 3 discs?
How's that? Still want more? Okay...
to view full page scans of MGM's sell sheets for these titles, complete
with a list of the extras on each disc. They're about 200k each, so be
patient while they load. All of the discs street on 10/17. The set of
all 6 films will SRP for $134.96, while individual discs will be $26.98
In other news today, we've got TONS of street dates for you in the
Mill... including an update on Gladiator,
Mission Impossible 2, The
X-Men and more. It's a big update, so don't miss it.
Technicolor reports that the number of DVD titles available in Region 1
has passed the 7,000 mark (with 7,184 to be exact). Just FYI.
And that's about all she wrote for now - stay tuned...
(LATE UPDATE - 7/25/00 - 12:45 PM PDT)
Well, we've got some more interesting stuff for you this afternoon.
First of all,
has a second update on the changes being made to Star
Trek: The Motion Picture for DVD by director Robert Wise and
Paramount (including more pictures). We're also hearing that the street
date for the title has been unofficially pushed into very early 2001 due
to the amount of work involved. Stay tuned on that.
We've got some information from retail sources today about a possible
street date for DreamWorks' Gladiator,
as well as information on Universal's Pitch
Black. You'll find that in today's
After my comments yesterday about disliking the Super Jewel Case, I got
an avalanche of e-mails from European DVD web sites and fans. The gist -
"We don't like the Super Jewel Case here in Europe either!"
Sorry SJC - it's nothing personal. ;-)
Finally this afternoon, a question. Are you looking for some seriously
good entertainment? 'Cause if you are, then you absolutely MUST head on
over to 2600.com,
where you can read the complete, day-by-day court transcripts from the
DeCSS trial in New York. Regardless of your personal or professional
position on this issue, these transcripts are great reading. There's
your typical courtroom sniping by lawyers, there's great drama, there
are great technical discussions about various aspects of DVD technology
and (most importantly) some of this stuff is downright hilarious. I
haven't laughed this hard in a while. It is painfully clear that some of
the prosecution's lawyers just don't have a clue as to how (and more
precisely WHY) computers, the Internet and DVD work the way they do. As
important as this case is... hell, I wish it was on Court
TV, 'cause this is great fun. Really, if you start reading
this stuff, I can almost guarantee you'll be hooked. Do yourself a favor
and check it out.
We'll be back again later, so stay tuned...
(EARLY UPDATE - 7/25/00 - Midnight PDT)
I wanted to jump early this morning to give you a first look at the
artwork for the upcoming Toy Story
3-disc set - The Ultimate Toy Box.
The set will retail for $69.99 SRP and will include both films as well
as a whole disc of supplemental features. Keep in mind that the art may
be preliminary, and is still subject to change. Man... October 17th
seems a LONG way off!
I've also got a little more upcoming art for you today - your first
looks at Warner's Battlefield Earth
(street date TBD) and New Line's Final
We'll be back with more later, so stay tuned...
Those of you who found yourselves at ComicCon in San Diego over the
weekend had the opportunity to view the Blade
Runner documentary first-hand. It was revealed that, indeed,
an expanded version of the documentary will appear on the forthcoming
special edition DVD of the film (set for sometime mid to late next
year). Author Paul Sammon (whose excellent book Future
Noir remains THE definitive look at Blade
Runner - I highly recommend it) presented the first American
screening of the piece, which was followed by a brief panel discussion.
Very little was said about the DVD release, other than that there's a
LOT of work to be done, and that the producers hope to make it THE
ultimate special edition on the film. Stay tuned.
From Video Store magazine comes
word that the Jaws: SE has shipped
over 1 million units, becoming the 6th Universal distributed DVD title
to do so (after The Mummy, American
Pie, End of Days, Galaxy
Quest and Saving Private Ryan
- the latter two titles distributed by the studio for DreamWorks).
Video Store also has word that the
makers of the dreaded Super Jewel Box are trying to gain more market
share with the U.S. studios. I say dreaded, because while the box is
popular in Europe, the vast majority of DVD fans here in the States
prefer the Amaray and Alpha keep cases. No offense to the Super Jewel
people, but maybe DVD-Audio is the best place for the case?
Corley has taken the stand in that New York DVD piracy case, and things
are heating up again in the courtroom.
here to read the story via Yahoo. And the industry is targeting
another piracy site as well (click
here for that story).
And Columbia TriStar has revealed the details on The
Big Blue: Special Edition. The disc streets on August 15th,
and will include anamorphic widescreen, the longer "international"
director's cut, Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 audio, a gallery of photos and
international poster artwork and the film's isolated music score. The
SRP for the disc will be $29.95.
Now then... we're working on a special feature story that may be up as
early as tomorrow, so stay tuned...
How about a little weekend DVD news? I wanted to check in with a couple
of things. First of all, that Blade Runner
documentary I was talking about yesterday was shown on Channel 4 in the
UK - not the BBC. Just FYI.
Now then... Warner is going to be releasing a series of R.E.M. films to
DVD on August 22nd. They are Pop Screen,
Film is On and Tourfilm.
They include live concert footage, music videos, outtakes and more -
should be cool. Warner is also going to be releasing the original 1950
classic Annie Get Your Gun on DVD
on November 14th. The film has been out of circulation for years due to
a legal conflict, which has recently been resolved. Check out
press release for the details.
Thank God Prince has changed his name back to Prince, because I don't
have that funny symbol on my keyboard. Anyway, his New Year's Eve
special, Rave Un2 The Year 2000,
is coming to DVD on Halloween (oddly appropriate somehow). That's just
Word is apparently leaking out of the California-based effects house
Foundation Imaging about some pretty cool work that's being done to
restore lost and incomplete scenes from Paramount's forthcoming Star
Trek: The Motion Picture DVD. The disc will be a special
edition of sorts, with a brand new edit of the film from director Robert
Wise and a documentary by our friends at Sharpline Arts. There's no word
yet on a release date, except that it should come out in the 4th
quarter. Anyway - back to those lost scenes. The Trek-themed
has all the details on scenes that are being restored, as well as images
of the lost footage. Be sure to check it out.
And finally, Image
Entertainment's again updated their
News page to include a slew of new titles. Among those listed are
Sin: The Motion Picture, Bob
Roberts: Special Edition, The
Craft: Special Edition, Faraway,
So Close: Special Edition, The
Dirty Dozen: Collector's Edition Deluxe Boxed Set, Planet
of the Apes, The James Bond
Collection Wave 3, Final
Destination, Any Given Sunday
and LOTS more. It's a major update with disc spec information, so don't
See you Monday!
Ahhhh... rumors swirl and whirl today... along with a bit or two of
actual interesting news. There is word that Fox has "announced"
the street date of The X-Men DVD
as November 23rd. The date may in fact be true, but Fox hasn't said
anything official on it at all. The rumor comes from
has been covering the rumors of director Ridley Scott stepping into the
big chair for Terminator 3 -
wouldn't that be cool?
reports that the director mentioned the possibility while being
interviewed for a new documentary on Blade
Runner being shot for the BBC, called On
the Edge of Blade Runner. Musta happened at the same time
that he let slip that he believes Deckard's a replicant (no surprise
there). By the way - that documentary? It might just find it's way onto
that special edition Warner's got planned. HHhhhmmm.... Have you heard
the news that Robert Patrick (T2)
is joining the cast of The X-Files
as a skeptical, blue-collar agent assigned to help Scully find Mulder?
It's true - even the
official site says so. Just might be what the show needs to give
it a boost in the arm. Talk about a role-reversal - Scully as the
believer? Interesting. Any of you watch The
West Wing? Yesterday it garnered some 18 Emmy nominations,
tieing with HBO's The Sopranos for
the most for a given show. I'm a fan of both shows (look for The
Sopranos to arrive on DVD later this year from HBO).
Panasonic and Universal are going to be offering consumers 2 free DVD
movies if they purchase a Panasonic DVD player and both Jurassic
Park film on disc - the details will be available on
closer to street date.
And finally this morning, CNN's Technology section has an interesting
story up on the difficulties of protecting digital copyright. Called
Music was just the beginning, the story deals with the fact
that the file sharing of movies and music is almost inevitable given the
Internet and developing technology. One of the things I find
interesting, is that one of the pieces of software being used to copy
movies... is called DivX (a direct shot at the industry's failed
pay-per-use format). I think the industry is just going to have to
tolerate some digital file-sharing... just like it currently tolerates
limited VHS and audiotape copying among consumers. Does that infringe
upon an artist's rights of copyright? Sure it does. But it's going to
happen, and all the lawsuits in the world are NOT going to stop it. It
doesn't matter how hard you try to make it - some 14-year-old kid will
crack the code and find a way. That's just how life in the digital age
works. Better the industry levies its legal weight against those who
would pirate as a means of profit - there, they would actually be able
to do some good. The industry might even be able to make some money on
all this, if they adopt a smart strategy and get into the file-sharing
business themselves. And the reality is that the industry will have to
change the way it operates... like it or not. For example, if a studio
were to release a DVD version of a popular film in all regions at
once... the desire to pirate it will simply evaporate. What would be the
point, from the pirate's perspective? The same is true for theatrical
releases. Remember this - Hollywood made all the same blustering
protests when VCRs first appeared... and now home video is their biggest
source of revenue. Do you see a pattern here? Anyway, that's just my two
cents on it.
Now then... Todd and I are off to work on some more reviews, and a
couple of feature articles for the site. So have a great weekend and
We've got another interesting batch of disc reviews for you today.
First up is my look at MGM's classic and much-anticipated
Princess Bride on DVD. All I can say is that if you're a fan
of this film, this DVD is going to leave you in a bad mood. I don't want
to get into a rant here, 'cause I work up a pretty good head of steam in
the review. Just don't miss it. We've also got Dan Kelly's two cents on
one of last year's best films on disc - USA's
And our last review today is... well, it ain't for the faint of heart,
that's for sure. It's called
and if you have no idea what the film's title means... then I suggest
you bail on it now. At the very least, be warned that the subject matter
of the film would be considered questionable to 99% of the human race.
So now you're all probably so intrigued that you're all gonna click on
over to Todd and Florian's tag-team review, right? Well, like I said...
I warned you. If I start getting a bunch of e-mails saying, "Sir, I
am outraged!" I'm just gonna delete 'em. I've given you a parachute
- if you choose not to use it, that's your own fault. ;-)
In other news today, it looks as if things are heating up in that New
York court case I mentioned the other day (Hollywood vs. 2600), with
that old thorn in the MPAA's side, DeCSS, taking center stage once
again. Bickering and legal maneuvering apparently ruled the court on
Tuesday. Lawyers man... you know how they are. Who needs Big
Brother - I wish they had an Internet camera on this
here for the details via Yahoo.
There's also word today that Blockbuster Video is making a move to get
busy with the electronic delivery of entertainment directly into
consumer homes via high-speed phone lines. The Blockbuster Entertainment
On-Demand service is expected to be available in 20 to 30 markets by the
end of 2001... but DVD fans needn't worry - it's not expected to impact
our favorite format.
here to read the whole article, again over at Yahoo.
We've got two things for you this afternoon. First up, we've got
pictures from the Ricardo Montalban signing from last week. It was held
on Tuesday evening at the Sam Goody in the Universal City Walk, here in
L.A.. Montalban signed copies of the just released
Trek II DVD, and posed with fans for pix. Gotta say... the guy
looks pretty damn good all these years later. I wanted to be there, but
frankly, VSDA kicked my butt. But it looks like it was a great event.
Here are a couple of pictures - thanks to our friends at Paramount for
sending them over.
Now then... we've got something really special for you today. Last
evening, Fox Home Entertainment's Peter Staddon participated in a live
online chat with our friends at
Home Theater Forum. And what a chat it was! Peter stayed on for
more than 3 hours answering questions... and dropped the first word on a
whole slew of upcoming Fox titles. I mean, he covered almost everything
you can imagine. There are a TON of great titles coming to DVD from the
studio. I was just psyched to hear that The
X-Files: Fight the Future is being re-released later this
year with anamorphic widescreen and DTS 5.1... and that was one of the
lesser titles discussed! There's word on M.A.S.H.,
French Connection, The X-Men,
Titan A.E. and a LOT more. If
you're a Fox fan now... just wait until you read this. So here's a
transcript of the Fox chat on the Home Theater Forum! Our thanks
to Ron and the guys at HTF for the transcript. Remember - you can get to
HTF anytime just by clicking on our "DVD Discussion" button in
the button bar at the left of every page of the Bits.
And also our thanks to Fox's Peter Staddon... just for loving DVD as
much as we all do. Keep up the great work, Peter!
(LATE UPDATE - 7/18/00 - 8:30 PM PDT)
It's funny how things go some days. This update isn't quite as I
expected it would be. I started writing it with the intention of letting
you all know that we've just posted 4 new DVD reviews... and then all
the power went out in my office. So here I am, writing this on my laptop
until I start digging in the fusebox to try and figure out what the heck
happened. Home ownership man - gotta love it.
Anyway, we've got 4 new DVD reviews for you this evening! Our staff of
writers has been extremely busy churning out reviews over the last month
or so... and Todd and I have been so busy with VSDA and working on other
special feature stories that we've been remiss in getting them posted.
To be fair to Todd... it's actually all my bad. But no longer! Today,
we've got reviews of Dimension's Scream
3: Collector's Series, Manga's
Castle of Cagliostro (an anime by the same guy responsible for
Princess Mononoke - just FYI), the
exploitation classic Switchblade
Sisters and Fox's
Beach (yep... Leo's back). There's something for almost every
taste in that bunch.
And speaking of Princess Mononoke,
we've got an update for you on the situation. Video retailers today
received this bulletin from Buena Vista Home Entertainment, regarding
the DVD release:
"The scheduled 8/29 release of the DVD
version of PRINCESS MONONOKE has officially been cancelled. Princess
Mononoke will be released to rental VHS on August 29, but the DVD
version will be held until further notice. No new release date has yet
been set. Rationale for this decision is based on the anticipation of
the availability of the original Japanese language track and possible
additional bonus materials."
What that means is that the DVD is STILL going to be released... but
not until the studio can include the original Japanese soundtrack and
more substantial extras, which fans of the film wanted and requested.
I'm guessing it will come out at the same time it does in Japan, but
that's just speculation. So there you have it - consumers have spoken
and the studio has listened! For those of you who were part of the
campaign to get this done... you might want to let Buena Vista know that
you appreciate their having taken your concerns seriously. A little
courtesy goes a long way.
So there you go. Enjoy the reviews, and we'll see you back here
tomorrow. Hopefully, not from the laptop... ;-)
(EARLY UPDATE - 7/18/00 - 11:15 AM PDT)
I'm going to have reviews to post later this afternoon. But first I
wanted you to be able to read something I wrote a while back. A few
months ago, I was asked by The
DVD Entertainment Group to write a guest editorial for the first
issue of their new quarterly newsletter, DVDetails.
The newsletter goes out to professionals throughout the industry, and
includes such things as format status updates, "talking points"
to promote to the press about the format, rundowns of recent group
meetings and schedules of upcoming industry events. And there's a guest
column. I had been invited to speak at one of their meetings in the
past, and I guess I didn't make a fool of myself, because they asked me
back (so to speak) for this editorial. When I actually spoke at the
meeting, I took the opportunity to address some of the concerns I've
heard from you through your e-mails. Anamorphic was something I hit
hard, as well as standardized labeling of features on discs. With this
editorial, I decided to raise some new issues - DVD-Audio and recordable
DVD. The reality is that this website has huge industry readership as it
is. But any chance to help make a point that might do some good... well,
how can I resist? So here's the text of my editorial. Put it in the
category of, "Fighting the good fight." I'll be curious to
know what you think...
My Two Cents - By Bill Hunt
My how far we've come. It was just three short years ago that many in
the industry were wringing their hands over the impending success
of the DVD format. At this time in 1997, DVD players
weren't even available nationwide yet, still confined to a handful of "test
markets". Divx was yet to become famous (or infamous) for their
months-early product announcement. Several studios had yet to commit to
DVD, and speculation was rampant as to when that might change. There was
a lot of apprehension in the industry, and when pushed, many admitted
that they thought DVD would just be another laserdisc, with limited
success as a "niche of a niche" market.
But there was one place where DVD's success was already considered a
foregone conclusion - the early adopter community on the Internet.
DVD-focused websites were beginning to spring up here and there (mine
included) and the newsgroups were blazing with chatter. All anyone
really wanted to know was, "When are the studios going to release
my favorite movie?" There were simply no doubts in my mind about
DVD's success when, after buying my parents back in North Dakota a
player as an anniversary gift, I heard Mom say, "The picture is
just so clear! Why would you ever want to watch videotapes again?"
Someone should have tapped her to do a commercial.
And here we are today, enjoying the most successful consumer
electronics product launch in history. More than seven million players
have shipped into the U.S. market. Nearly twice that number of DVD-ROM
drives are now installed in PCs, and people are viewing movies on them.
One only needs to board a commercial airliner to find a score of
businessmen watching DVD movies on their laptops. There are more than
six thousand DVD titles currently available. And several models of DVD
player can be purchased for the same price as a VCR. Now, that's
The future for DVD looks bright indeed. The upcoming holiday season
should see record sales of players and software. At long last, some of
the most highly-prized Hollywood films are arriving on DVD, including
Jaws, Braveheart and Independence Day (with such
titles as Toy Story and Jurassic Park expected before
the end of the year). 2000 should see the debut of recordable DVD
players and DVD-Audio. And probably the single biggest push for the
format is expected to come on October 26th, when Sony's DVD-based
PlayStation 2 game system debuts in the States. Not only will it set new
standards in gaming, each and every unit will be a fully functional
DVD-Video player with the ability to play movie titles. Make no mistake
- that will be huge.
Sure, there will be some obstacles to cross. The industry needs to work
hard to avoid the appearance of a format war between DVD-RAM, DVD+RW and
DVD-RW (although this much is certain - recordable DVD must be
compatible with current players to succeed with consumers). The industry
forces behind DVD-Audio also need to get their act together. A lot of
interested DVD-philes are scratching their heads right now, at the
puzzling lack of information about the Audio format. That needs to
change, with definitive word on a release schedule for the hardware and,
more importantly, the software that will be available at launch - the
key to success. And there are some in the industry who see Digital VHS
(not DVD) as the future of home entertainment, for its compatibility
with HDTV. First of all, HDTV is going to have to become a lot more of a
factor in American homes to make a difference. And as far as DVD
consumers are concerned, videotape is out of the question. It just isn't
as durable as their favorite 5-inch digital disc.
The fact is, DVD is here to stay. The format is quickly, and
inevitably, becoming mass market. Casual, rent-a-movie-a-week consumers
are becoming more and more DVD savvy. They're renting and buying more
titles, building inexpensive (yet high quality) home theater systems and
demanding more of those elaborate special editions. DVD is sprouting up
everywhere. The bottom line is simply this - the consumers are there and
they're ready to spend money. The time for holding back certain titles
and promoting format wars is over. But the most important thing to
remember, is that the industry must learn to communicate with its
consumers more clearly. DVD, DTV, HDTV, DSS, digital this and digital
with so many technologies vying for their attention, the
industry has to avoid confusing people even more in order to take the
format to the next level. Now if we could just get the studios to start
labeling the features on their DVD packaging more clearly, we'd really
be in business
As always, I welcome your comments.
Bill Hunt, Editor
The Digital Bits
Full Moon's about to get busier with DVD. The company is gearing up to
launch their Lunar Edition series of special editions. First up on
September 29th are Lunar Editions of No
Angels.com, Voodoo Academy
and Witchhouse 2: Blood Coven
(from their regular, Surrender Cinema and Cult Cinema lines). Each of
these discs will include tons of extras - more than 3 hours in all on
each release - such as commentary tracks, blooper reels, outtakes,
featurettes and lots more. Just look for this logo on the box:
There's some more new DVD release information today, so let's run it
all down, studio by studio:
A&E - Longitude
(8/29), Avengers '63: Complete Sets 1&2
Anchor Bay - Halloween 5: The Revenge
of Michael Myers (8/22), Evil Dead
2 (revised), Santa Claus: The
Movie, Scandal, Strapless
(8/29), The Beyond (9/19)
Artisan - Bob Roberts
(9/12 - cool!)
New Line - Freddy's Dead: The Final
Paramount - Dead Zone,
Passion of the Mind, Pet
Sematary, Star Trek: The Original
Roan Group - Captain Kidd,
Chamber of Horrors, Ghost
on the Loose, Invisible Ghost,
Mysterious Mr. Wong, Radar
Men from the Moon (12 episode serial - all 7/25)
In other news, Columbia TriStar has announced DVD versions of I
Dreamed of Africa, Stand By Me
and Girl for August 29th. I
Dreamed of Africa will SRP for $29.95 and will include an
isolated score and a making-of featurette. Girl
will SRP for $24.95 and will include two audio commentaries and a making
of featurette. And finally, the Stand By Me:
Special Edition will SRP for $29.95 and will include a
commentary by Rob Reiner, an exclusive documentary Walking
the Tracks: The Summer of Stand By Me, a music video, the
isolated music score, trailers and more.
Entertainment has again updated their
News Page to include the details on several upcoming titles. Among
them are Edward Scissorhands: Special Edition,
Rocky Horror: Special Edition,
This is Spinal Tap: Special Edition,
all the Peanuts titles from
Paramount, American Beauty: Special Edition
and many, many more.
And around the Net today,
has a story up on how computer laptop users are snapping up DVD movies
to watch on the go. I can't think of the last plane trip I went on
where I didn't see a bunch of business types watching movies - they're
Yahoo has a bit (via Reuters) on how Eric Corley, publisher of the
Internet hacking champion 2600,
is about to stand trial in New York for distributing the DeCSS DVD
hacking software online.
How about that? A special Sunday update of the Bits!
Anyway, I've finally got the
transcript of the DVD director's panel from VSDA up. It took
forever, but I think you'll find that it was worth the wait. The panel
was moderated by Leonard Maltin and features John Landis, George Romero,
John Waters, David Zucker and Rob Minkoff... who basically crack jokes
the whole time and tell some very interesting stories as well. Plus,
there's plenty of good conversation on DVD. You definitely don't want to
miss it. And that officially wraps up
We've got a quick update of the
Mill today, with word on a long-awaited movie trilogy coming
to DVD soon. No, not THAT trilogy... and not the other one either. But
I'd say you might want to charge up your flux capacitors...
Also today, I've updated the
DVD Player Sales chart again to add the 45,592 players that
sold in the first week of July to the running total. All charts have
been updated accordingly. And the latest DVD title numbers for Region 1
(from Technicolor) have the format just about to break the 7,000 title
mark - not bad for a format that's less than 4 years old. You'll find
Finally today, a funny story. I was sitting here in my office on Friday
evening, working away on the director's panel transcript, when I
suddenly heard this thunderous engine noise from outside. It sounded
like a plane was going to crash on my house. I looked out the window,
and noticed that some of our neighbors were outside looking up at the
sky. So I went outside, and looked up just as a flight of old World War
II B-25 bombers comes roaring right over the house. There were 4 of them
in all - just gorgeous to see. But loud! We live in Irvine just a few
miles away from the old El Toro Marine base. You know - the one that
gets blown up in Independence Day?
Well they've recently decommissioned the base, but they used to have the
El Toro Air Show there every year, so I'm figuring that they're still
doing some kind of show. But one of my neighbors remembered that he'd
seen something about it on the news - they were filming a movie on the
Doolittle Raid over at the base this week. I got to thinking about it
for a few minutes, and it comes to me - Michael Bay's Pearl
Harbor. And sure enough, that's what it was (here's a link to
local newspaper story). They were shooting aerial footage of the
actors inside the planes in flight, with the sky and the other B-25s
visible outside the cockpit windows. Chalk it up to the strange things
you see when living in Southern California. In any case, they did this
for about three evenings, right at the "magic hour" just
before sunset. They just flew lazy circles around Irvine, giving us all
a mini air show. And I, for one, didn't mind a bit. So I'm gonna leave
you this evening with a few pictures I took with our digital camera.
Hope you're all having a great weekend, and I'll see you tomorrow!
Just a quick update - the Director's panel transcript is taking forever
to finish, but I'm working on it steadily. I should have it up by
tomorrow morning. Just wanted to let you know the status. I'm not going
to post again until it's done, so stay tuned...
Well... what do ya know? My VSDA Director's Panel recording DID turn
out after all! So I'm spending my day (and well into the evening, I'm
sure) doing a transcript of the panel discussion for you for tomorrow. I
think you'll find it interesting. In the meantime, I've just posted
full text of a chat that The Home Theater Forum held yesterday
with the folks from Criterion. Thanks to Ron Epstein for sending
that over. We'll definitely be back tomorrow with goodies for you, so
And on a personal note, I want to wish my brother Jason back in
Minneapolis a Happy Birthday!
Anyone know a cure for sore typing fingers? ;-)
(LATE UPDATE - 7/12/00 - 3 PM PDT)
2000 Picture Gallery is now up! We've gathered 50 of the best
photos taken during the show and present them here for your enjoyment.
You'll get a look at the show floor, a few of the show events and some
of the celebrities who made appearances to sign autographs and promote
movies on VHS and DVD. Enjoy!
(EARLY UPDATE - 7/12/00 - 10 AM PDT)
Another milestone for the DVD format has been crossed. We've just
DVD Player Sales chart to include sales of players to retail for
the last two weeks in June. That makes the monthly data complete at
654,687 players sold, which is a new all-time monthly record. And that
boosts the DVD format total overall to over 8 million players in the
U.S. - 8,124,725 to be exact. And keep in mind that that doesn't include
the 15-20 million estimated DVD-ROM drives currently in the market.
There's just no way around it - all the DVD news these days is good.
Anyone remember a time when we were still wondering if studios like
DreamWorks, Paramount, Universal, Buena Vista and Fox were ever going to
do DVD at all? And now the next six months are gonna give us Braveheart,
Jurassic Park, Gladiator,
Toy Story and more X-Files.
Take a moment to stop and appreciate this, because it doesn't get much
better. These are the salad days, as they say...
coverage of VSDA will continue this afternoon with our VSDA
Gallery, filled with photos taken on the show floor and at
other events. It's almost ready to upload. In the meantime, I hope
you're all enjoying our report on
Buzz at VSDA 2000 - a look at the news and other interesting
information we gathered at the show this weekend.
In other news, Image
Entertainment's updated their
News page to include more upcoming title information. Included are
Big Blue, Leon,
Element of Crime, Good
Morning, Hamlet (1948),
Flesh Gordon, 3
Strikes, Delivery, Held
Up, Shania Twain: Live
has come that Sharp is teaming up with Pioneer to further develop
and market their DVD-RW recordable format. It will be interesting to see
if that has any effect on the launch.
with Trekkies director Roger Nygard, and how we recently
told you that Roger's latest film
Six Days in
Roswell would soon be coming to DVD? Well, we just got the
official press release from Don May, Jr. at Synapse. The special edition
DVD will include a brand new digital transfer in the film's original
1.33:1 aspect ratio, commentary with producer Roger Nygard, director
Timothy B. Johnson and star Richard Kronfeld, deleted scenes, The
Making of Six Days in Roswell featurette, Nygard's first 8mm
film Practical Joker's Last Joke,
funny videos by the director and Kronfeld, and other special features
that should make you Trekkies fans
happy. The disc will street on November 14 for an SRP of $29.98. Visit
website for updates. You can also visit the
website. Six Days is a very
funny film and we lobbied hard to get it on DVD. We can't wait for the
And finally this morning, we've updated our recent review of
Anniversary Collector's Edition to include the separate DTS
audio version as well. Do check it out.
We'll be back in a few hours with the VSDA
Gallery - stay tuned!
We've just posted the first half of our
coverage of VSDA. The first part of our report on the show is
Buzz at VSDA 2000. We'll take you studio by studio through all
of the cool upcoming DVD release information we gathered at the show and
give you a first look at some upcoming cover artwork as well (including
complete full-page scans of the Toy Story/Toy
Story 2 sell sheet!). We'll talk about all of the latest DVD
trends and run down sales data for the first half of 2000, as well as
give you some industry predictions for the next 6 to 12 months. You'll
get look at the director's panel, learn about the looming spectre of
rental pricing for DVD and get our general impressions of the show. And
we've even got some very exciting news about the long-awaited debut of
DVD-Audio. I think you'll find our coverage well worth the wait. We'll
also be back tomorrow with our annual VSDA
Picture Gallery, featuring lots of photos taken on the show
floor. So enjoy today's report... and stay tuned!
We're back from VSDA, and we're already hard at work on our full
update. We'll be posting our coverage starting late tonight and through
tomorrow, so check back from time to time for updates. We do have
something to tide you over in the meantime, which we'll get to in a
Some initial thoughts: every year VSDA seems to become more
unnecessary, which is a shame. After three days of meetings, events,
parties and walking the floor... we really didn't learn too much about
upcoming titles or announcements that we didn't already know. In fact,
the only real title to be announced for VSDA was DreamWorks' American
Beauty. And much of what we did learn was off the record. But
the show wasn't completely a wash as far as DVD news. We did learn that,
after a long period of seeming inactivity, DVD-Audio is going to launch
big time in the 4th quarter of this year. And there should be LOTS of
software titles available for the debut. I was also told that there is
at least one big title announcement forthcoming in the next couple of
weeks. I'm expecting it to be DreamWorks' first 2-disc special edition
DVD release - Ridley Scott's Gladiator.
But we'll have to wait and see...
In any case, we did come away from the show with lots of upcoming DVD
artwork, which we'll be posting through tomorrow. But we thought we'd
kick it all off now, with your first look at Disney and Pixar's 2 and
3-disc releases of Toy Story and
Toy Story 2, expected October
17th. So here they are - enjoy. And stay tuned, 'cause we'll be back
with more soon...
Well, we're off to VSDA. The show starts Saturday afternoon at 4 PM and
runs through Sunday until Monday evening. All of the good DVD action
happens on Sunday morning, when Entertainment
Tonight's Leonard Maltin hosts the show's DVD Festival, which
includes a director's panel on the format. I've been told that George
Romero, John Waters and John Landis will be among those talking about
DVD. Then, on Monday morning, I'll be attending the DVD Festival Awards
presentation as one of the judges of the competition. Should be
interesting. When we get back on Monday, I'll work up a post on the
announcements at the show, and we should have our photo gallery up on
Before we go, we're gonna leave you with one more review - Todd's take
on Image's new
Ferox. It's surprising how many extras the disc includes given
the kind of flick it is. Check it out.
And finally, Yahoo has a couple of interesting DVD stories:
on upcoming Fox DVDs,
on American Beauty and
on Buena Vista's success with The Sixth Sense.
See you back here Monday night, after the show. Have a great weekend!
(LATER UPDATE - 7/6/00 - 5:30 PM PDT)
We've just gotten the official press release from DreamWorks for their
disc version of last year's Best Picture. American
Beauty: The Awards Edition DVD will street on October 24th
for an SRP of $26.99. Look for the disc to include the following extra
features: audio commentary with director Sam Mendes and screenwriter
Alan Ball, exclusive "storyboards" with commentary by Mendes
and D.P. Conrad Hall, The Making of American
Beauty featurette, DVD-ROM script to screen feature (allows
you to read the script while watching the film), production notes, cast
& crew bios and 2 theatrical trailers - some 3 and a half hours
worth of extras in all. It will also feature English 5.1 audio in both
Dolby Digital and DTS on the same disc. And the video will, of course,
be in anamorphic widescreen.
The press release also mentions that the VHS and DVD release of the
film will be promoted via "trailering" on Universal Studios'
Pitch Black and U-571.
So I think that you can safely assume that both of those titles will be
available on DVD in September or early October at the latest.
(LATE UPDATE - 7/6/00 - 12:15 PM PDT)
Kevin Brass, my editor over at Video Store
magazine, has written
pretty good little editorial on recordable DVD in his Brass
Tacks column in this week's issue. It's available online at
the above link, so you might want to check it out. I think it helps to
put things in perspective.
Also in the trades this week,
Business has a story on director Steven Spielberg's DVD
turn-around, which includes word that Universal is working on DVD
versions of both E.T. and Schindler's
List for late 2001. There's also word that Columbia TriStar
may finally get the green light to release their Close
Encounters DVD next year. 'Bout damn time! In any case, our
Top 100 Films on DVD list has been updated accordingly... ;-)
(EARLY UPDATE - 7/6/00 - 10:45 AM PDT)
We've announced the winners of our
Contest! Congratulations to Christopher
David Canary of Indianapolis, IN, who took home the grand prize.
And congratulations also to all the runner-up winners. You can see a
list of them, as well as the answers to the contest,
by clicking here.
Thanks to all 1,652 who entered. Our next contest will start soon, so
Now then... it's occurred to me that we haven't posted quite as many
reviews over the last couple of weeks as we normally do. As I mentioned
a while ago, Todd and I have been very busy working on a series of
special feature stories, the next of which should be ready very soon.
We've definitely got some good stuff on the way! Anyway, those things
have taken up so much of our time, that our staff of reviewers has
created quite a stockpile of reviews that are just awaiting editing so
they can be posted. I'm gonna try to get them up a little more
frequently. So today I've got the first - Dan Kelly's look at
Talented Mr. Ripley, starring Matt Damon.
Speaking of Paramount, we've had lots of people say that they HAVE
found the alternate ending Easter Eggs in Clue,
but some are having trouble. So here's how to get at them: You have to
choose the "random ending" on the main menu, go to the end of
the film and then return to the main menu. Now you will see a magnifying
glass that is the Easter Egg. It enables you to access any of the three
got a really interesting story on Sony's efforts to create a
DVD-like recordable format for HDTV. There's also talk of a new
high-density disc format called FMD. These new discs wouldn't be
compatible with current players, but the new players would be able to
play DVD discs. Keep in mind however, that any high-definition disc
format is still quite a few years away from finding its way to a store
near you. HDTV itself is still many years away from the kind of public
acceptance that current TV broadcasting enjoys. So don't sweat your
current DVD player becoming obsolete any time soon.
also has a good story up on the DVD+RW recordable format - do
check it out.
There's not much happening in the way of news today, but we're getting
ready to head off tomorrow to the Video Software Dealer's Association
convention in Las Vegas this weekend. It remains to be see what
announcements may be made at the show, but I'd be shocked if Buena Vista
didn't start crowing hard about their Toy
Story and Toy Story 2
releases. As for other news, we'll just have to wait and see. Our
attendance at the show means that our post tomorrow will be light. We
will not be going live from the show floor this weekend, but we will
post an update on the DVD announcements and other news on Monday
evening, as soon as we return from Vegas. And we'll do our usual picture
gallery as well. Do keep an eye on
during the show - they may be updating live. And
should have the latest news as it happens too.
(LATE UPDATE - 7/5/00 - 1:15 PM PDT)
U.S. fans of the Sci-Fi Channel/Henson Productions hit series Farscape
are going to be happy campers soon. Wasn't it just the other day that I
was talking about how much I was enjoying my Region 2 DVDs of episodes
of the series? Well... soon the rest of us here in Region 1 will get the
same opportunity to enjoy the show on DVD. I've just gotten off the
phone with A.D.
Vision, Inc. (which is a major distributor of anime on VHS and
DVD) and have confirmed that the company HAS indeed obtained the VHS and
DVD distribution rights to Farscape
here in the States. They're currently working on their release plans,
such as how many episodes will be included per disc, what the extras
will be and the like. But they hope to be able to announce details and
release dates soon. I'm a big fan of Farscape,
so this is pretty cool in my book.
(EARLY UPDATE - 7/5/00 - 11:15 AM PDT)
We've got something pretty cool for you today - a look at the DVD cover
art for a few much-asked about titles that are coming from Fox and
Universal. Here you go...
And just to reassure all you Jurassic Park
fans out there that there are indeed DTS versions of the two films that
are going to be available on DVD, here's the covers...
Now then... Image
Entertainment has updated their
News page again to include the details on a whole slew of Image
exclusive titles for September. Among the titles listed are Short
Circuit: Special Edition, American
Yakuza, Beware! The Blob!,
First Spaceship on Venus, Necromancer,
Pot O' Gold, Taste
of Blood: Special Edition, just about every Sports
Illustrated Swimsuit video for the last five years, Twilight
Zone, Volumes 32 & 33 and lots more.
interesting story on the AP wires on how DVD players are a
difficult sell in Japan right now. Go figure. Apparently, they're still
pretty expensive at the moment - both players and movies. But I'm
guessing that the real problem is PlayStation 2. With so many of those
sold into the Japanese market - some 2 million, all of which are
fully-functioning DVD players - why would anyone over there want to buy
a separate player?
article over at Yahoo from the wires on how the DVD format is set
for confusion again this fall, when recordable players start arriving in
the market... in 3 different flavors. There will be the lame-ass DVD-RAM
(which is not compatible with current players), as well as DVD-RW and
DVD+RW, both of which are at least somewhat compatible with current
players. Consider this our official word to the industry: forget DVD-RAM
and for god's sake, decide upon a SINGLE acceptable recordable DVD
format! Consumers got screwed over enough with the whole DVD/Divx thing.
They're gonna have to be convinced to add DVD-Audio when it happens, and
now you want to confuse them over recordable? Smarten up, folks! If you
botch this recordable thing, I've got an alternative for you: Digital
VHS. Now, we don't want that to happen, and neither do you. So get with
the program! Enough said.
Moving on... has anyone out there figured out how to access the
alternate ending Easter Egg on Paramount's Clue
yet? We don't want to spoil it for you, but let us know if you're
getting to it. If not, we'll let you know how to check them out soon...
Don't forget - today is your last day to enter our
to win 10 DVDs of your choice - you've got until 7 PM PDT, so get your
entries in quick!
Finally today, some quick upcoming street date updates... Buena Vista
has set John Cusack's High Fidelity
for September 19th (a great flick). And their Dimension label has a From
Dusk Til Dawn: Collector's Series slated for September 26th.
VCI is releasing the 12-chapter Buck Rogers
serial on August 29th (I wish Image would release that, 'cause they'd
probably do a better job), along with Gorgo.
Warner's ponying up on October 3rd with Scooby
Doo and the Alien Invaders and Tom
Thumb. They'll follow on October 24th with Batman
Beyond: Return of the Joker. And look for New Line to release
all their remaining Nightmare on Elm Street
films (2-6, which have previously been available only in the boxed set)
as single serving discs on August 22nd.