Click here to learn more about anamorphic widescreen!
Go to the Home Page
Go to The Rumor Mill
Go to Todd Doogan's weekly column
Go to the Reviews Page
Go to the Trivia Contest Page
Go to the Upcoming DVD Artwork Page
Go to the DVD FAQ & Article Archives
Go to our DVD Links Section
Go to the Home Theater Forum for great DVD discussion
Find out how to advertise on The Digital Bits

Site created 12/15/97.




page updated: 10/4/00



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 7/26/00 - 7/5/00)


Back to Previous Archives

Back to Current Posts

(LATE 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 This 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... Van 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 FAQ & Archives and Reviews sections).

So have a great week. And as always... stay tuned!

(EARLY UPDATE - 7/26/00 - almost Midnight PDT)

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?

A View to a KillDiamonds are Forever

From Russia with LoveThe Living Daylights

OctopussyYou Only Live Twice

How's that? Still want more? Okay... click here and here 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 each.

In other news today, we've got TONS of street dates for you in the Rumor 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, TrekWeb.com 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 Rumor Mill update.

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!

The Ultimate Toy Box

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 Destination (9/26).

Battlefield EarthFinal Destination

We'll be back with more later, so stay tuned...

7/24/00

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?

2600.com's Eric Corley has taken the stand in that New York DVD piracy case, and things are heating up again in the courtroom. Click 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...

7/22/00

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, Parallel, This 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 this 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 FYI too.

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 website TrekWeb.com 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 DVD 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 miss it.

See you Monday!

7/21/00

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 Dark Horizons. Cinescape.com has been covering the rumors of director Ridley Scott stepping into the big chair for Terminator 3 - wouldn't that be cool? Reel.com 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 JurassicPark.com 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 Napsterization: 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 stay tuned...!

7/20/00

We've got another interesting batch of disc reviews for you today. First up is my look at MGM's classic and much-anticipated The 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 Topsy-Turvy. And our last review today is... well, it ain't for the faint of heart, that's for sure. It's called Nekromantik, 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 courtroom! Click 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. Click here to read the whole article, again over at Yahoo.

Stay tuned...

7/19/00

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 Star 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.

Ricardo Montalban

Ricardo Montalban poses with "the crew".

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 The 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., Cleopatra, The 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 complete 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!

Stay tuned...

(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 The Castle of Cagliostro (an anime by the same guy responsible for Princess Mononoke - just FYI), the exploitation classic Switchblade Sisters and Fox's The 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… or failure… 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 impressive.

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 that… 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
billhunt@thedigitalbits.com


Stay tuned...

7/17/00

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:

Lunar Edition logo

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 (10/3)

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 Nightmare (8/22)

Paramount - Dead Zone, Passion of the Mind, Pet Sematary, Star Trek: The Original Series 15&16

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.

Image Entertainment has again updated their DVD 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, CNet 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 everywhere. And 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.

Stay tuned...

7/16/00

How about that? A special Sunday update of the Bits! Anyway, I've finally got the complete 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 our VSDA coverage!

We've got a quick update of the Rumor 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 CEA 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 that above.

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 a 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!

A flight of B-25s filming Pearl Harbor footage.

A flight of B-25s filming Pearl Harbor footage.

A flight of B-25s filming Pearl Harbor footage.

7/14/00

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...

7/13/00

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 the 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 stay tuned.

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)

Our exclusive VSDA 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 updated our CEA 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...

Our 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 The 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 DVD 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 and more.

Also today, word 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.

Remember our interview 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 the Synapse website for updates. You can also visit the film's official website. Six Days is a very funny film and we lobbied hard to get it on DVD. We can't wait for the disc!

And finally this morning, we've updated our recent review of Universal's Jaws: 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!

7/11/00

We've just posted the first half of our special coverage of VSDA. The first part of our report on the show is called The 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!

7/10/00

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 moment.

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...

Toy Story/Toy Story 2 - 2-disc edition

Toy Story/Toy Story 2 - 3-disc edition

7/7/00

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 Tuesday.

Before we go, we're gonna leave you with one more review - Todd's take on Image's new Cannibal 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: one on upcoming Fox DVDs, one on American Beauty and one 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.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 7/6/00 - 12:15 PM PDT)

Kevin Brass, my editor over at Video Store magazine, has written a 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, Video 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 AFI Top 100 Films on DVD list has been updated accordingly... ;-)

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 7/6/00 - 10:45 AM PDT)

We've announced the winners of our Tagline Trivia 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 stay tuned...

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 Paramount's new The 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 endings. Enjoy!

ETown's 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. ETown 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 Etown during the show - they may be updating live. And Yahoo should have the latest news as it happens too.

Stay tuned...

(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.

Stay tuned...

(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...

Edward ScissorhandsTitus

Rocky Horror Picture ShowArmy of Darkness: Director's Cut

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...

Jurassic Park: Collector's Edition (DTS)The Lost World: Collector's Edition (DTS)

Now then... Image Entertainment has updated their DVD 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.

There's an 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?

There's also an 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 Trivia Contest 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.

Stay tuned...


More Archived Posts

Back to Current Posts


E-mail the Bits!


Don't #!@$ with the Monkey! Site designed for 800 x 600 resolution, using 16M colors and .gif 89a animation.
© 1997-2002 The Digital Bits, Inc., All Rights Reserved.
billhunt@thedigitalbits.com