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page updated: 10/4/00



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 9/18/00 - 8/25/00)


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(LATE UPDATE - 9/18/00 - 3:15 PM PDT)

Okay... we've heard from Fox about their upcoming X-Men DVD and the DTS issue. First of all, be assured that their position has always been that video and audio quality supercedes any other considerations when it comes to releasing their films on DVD. At the same time, they also know that it's important to include supplemental material on a DVD of a film as big as X-Men. As we mentioned earlier this morning, the decision to drop the DTS soundtrack was based upon the review of check discs to ensure quality. With the two soundtracks included on the same special edition disc, the video quality was noticably compromised, particularly in the darker action sequences. Keep in mind that this is a single-disc release (this is NOT a 2-disc set) and there's only so much room on a disc. The studio regrets the need to omit the DTS track - they are aware that a lot of you were looking forward to it, and they want you to know that the decision wasn't made lightly. But the good news is that the final disc will feature excellent quality anamorphic video and Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. Now then... here's the final, approved list of the disc's contents, direct from Fox:

Feature - Aspect ratio 2.35:1, Enhanced for Widescreen TV's Running time 104:16 (Theatrical length including credits).

Extended Branching version - Six additional scenes (two of which are extensions of existing scenes) are included on the disc. They can either be viewed individually, or viewed within the context of the movie using a "White Rabbit" feature which can be activated from the features menu. The scenes were not put back in via seamless branching per director Bryan Singer, who wanted this disc to reflect the movie that he released.

Fox Mutant Watch - 30 minute "making of" documentary.

Bryan Singer interview - Director Bryan Singer talking on The Charlie Rose Show about X-Men and the making of a "studio film".

Hugh Jackman's Screen test

Theatrical trailers and TV Spots

Art Gallery - Featuring both production design stills and character design and development stills, including several characters that were ultimately not included in this film.

Animated storyboards - Two CGI animated storyboards used to visualize the look of scenes before shooting (for the Train Station & Statue of Liberty fight scenes).

THX Optimode

And Finally... could it be that Spiderman makes a very brief appearance somewhere on this disc? Hhhhmmmm...

Anyway, hopefully this information will ease some of the rumors circulating around about the contents and specs of this disc. You can expect an official statement from Fox sometime in the next few days, and we should have official DVD cover artwork to show you very soon.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 9/18/00 - 11:30 AM PDT)

A few interesting pieces of DVD news have come in today, but first we've got an important update from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment on their forthcoming X-Men DVD. As all of you know, the disc will street on November 21st for an SRP of $29.95. It will include the film in anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. Also included will be about 10 minutes of deleted scenes, a behind-the-scenes featurette, screen test footage, the trailer, animatics, a gallery of conceptual artwork, a "Spidey" Easter egg and excerpts of director Bryan Singer on The Charlie Rose Show. Note that the studio HAD originally planned to include both Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks on the disc, but for quality reasons, they've decided against including the DTS. Apparently, when they viewed the check discs with both Dolby Digital and DTS sound on them, the studio noticed a significant degradation in video quality. It was therefore decided to drop DTS at this time to allow for a higher video bit rate. As they say... there's only so much room on the disc. It's too bad that there will be not DTS, but you have to at least appreciate the integrity of Fox's difficult decision - quality must come first. We expect to have an official comment on this situation from Fox this afternoon, and we'll post it as soon as it comes in.

Now then... it's true what you've heard - Survivor is coming to DVD (aaarrggh!). Apparently Paramount is hard at work on the disc, which is expected to debut early next year, complete with "exclusive, never-before-seen footage". Hopefully, it isn't more of Richard sans clothing. Anyway, you can read the story here. Frankly, I'd rather eat a dead rat than sit through that celebration of greed-as-entertainment again. But I must say, I did find Susan's "Black Bart" speech worth a laugh. And I do like the show's creator's new idea for a contest where the winner gets a real trip into space. But would a trip to the Russian Mir space station be a prize or the banishment?

Salon magazine's got an interesting article online about the DeCSS decision, which forbids websites from linking to the DeCSS code online. But these sites have already cleverly gotten around the ruling by removing the actual, clickable link and instead posting the URL (which you can then copy & paste into your browser and off you go). The writer also talks about loopholes in the ruling. I tell you... these clever kids...

CNet has a pair of stories (click here and here) about the pricing troubles Amazon.com's had with their DVD product in the last few weeks - troubles that had people paying different prices for the same discs. Picture Homer Simpson as I say this... "Doh!"

Finally today, Image Entertainment has updated their DVD News page again to include the details on many more upcoming discs, including (finally!) Buena Vista's terrific The Straight Story, Columbia TriStar's Three Stooges: Nutty But Nice and Running Free, DreamWorks' Chicken Run, Fox's Ed Burns Box Set: Stories From Long Island, X-Men, Wall Street and Romper Stomper, Warner's Pokemon 2000, Bataan and Viva Las Vegas and lots more.

Stay tuned...

9/16/00

Well, how do like that? No sooner do we and other websites begin posting DVD cover artwork for Gladiator, we come to learn that this artwork is NOT the final approved cover. We've received word from both DreamWorks and Scott Free that the true cover will be slightly different in appearance from the art we posted yesterday. What we have was apparently an early design that wasn't finalized (we saw something similar to this with early artwork for the Toy Story discs). In any case, I've been told that the studio expects to announce the disc officially early this coming week, and we'll have the final artwork then. So stay tuned, and we hope you're enjoying your weekend!

(LATE UPDATE - 9/15/00 - 11 PM PDT)

Time for another late evening update. We've got a look at the DVD cover artwork for DreamWorks' Gladiator 2-disc set, along with word that the disc will street on November 21st, as expected. Look, Ma - no spoilers on the cover!

Gladiator

And speaking of spoilers, did we EVER touch a nerve with our rant on DVD cover artwork this morning! It seems that not only do you agree with our point... a LOT of you agree. I've received a total of 463 e-mails on the subject as of 10 PM this evening. We got lots of great reminders about other real DVD covers that ruin the ending of the films, as well as a lot of suggestions for more of our "custom" spoiler covers. Our little exercise in Photoshop doctoring appears to have been a big hit. Nothing like a good laugh to start the weekend, right? That's what we figured, anyway.

We'll be updating this with more of your suggestions in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, I wanted to add one real spoiler cover that I'm ashamed I forgot about. So now, DON'T CLICK HERE unless you want the ending/surprise ruined for The Empire Strikes Back, Titanic, Rudy, The Usual Suspects, Planet of the Apes, Braveheart, Scream, The English Patient AND Dr. Strangelove. Ride 'em, Slim! And thanks to Bits reader Steve Berger for reminding us about that one... ;-)

Have a great weekend, everybody!

(EARLY UPDATE - 9/15/00 - 3 AM PDT)

Here's something we think is pretty cool. We've got your first look at the DVD artwork for Columbia TriStar's Bridge on the River Kwai. A 2-disc limited edition version streets on November 21st for an SRP of $39.95. A single-disc, movie-only edition will also be released that same day for $24.95. November can't come fast enough for us...

Bridge on the River Kwai

There's not a lot of other news today, so I'm going to take this opportunity to rant a little bit. Todd and I had an interesting discussion about something yesterday, and we were wondering how many other people feel the same way about it. Frankly, we're tired of studios creating DVD cover artwork or menu screens that give away the ending or surprise of a film. You'd think this wouldn't be a big deal, but regardless of how old or popular a film is, there are always people who still haven't seen it. What are studio marketing people thinking?! It's bad enough that movie trailers these days give away too much, but the trend is starting to spill over into DVD as well. Why not just use the movie poster artwork for the cover? In most cases, it's better looking anyway.

We're so irked at this trend, that we decided to poke a little fun at Hollywood over the issue. So we've made up a few of our own spoiler covers, and mixed in a couple of real ones to prove our point. It's worth a laugh or two, and maybe you studio marketing types out there will get the hint! But first, a word of warning - DON'T CLICK HERE unless you want the ending/surprise of the following films ruined for you: The Empire Strikes Back, Titanic, Rudy, The Usual Suspects, Planet of the Apes, Braveheart, Scream and The English Patient. So there... I don't wanna get any angry e-mails from people because we blew the surprise. You've been warned! ;-)

And be sure to let us know if you can think of other REAL cases where a DVD's cover gives away the ending - we'll mention them here at the Bits.

Anyway... have a great weekend. We'll be back with a bunch of reviews on Monday - see you then!

9/14/00

We've got a bunch more stuff for you today, starting with three new DVD reviews. Todd's given Universal's new The Lost World: Jurassic Park: Collector's Edition a spin, Dan's got a review of Paramount's Nashville and Greg chimes in with a look at Universal's The Big Kahuna, starring Kevin Spacey. And more are on the way.

Also today, we've got some more details on DreamWorks' Chicken Run release, which we mentioned yesterday. Here's the text from the press release (note that it doesn't give specific video and sound information, but talks more about the supplemental material):

"Like the film, the Chicken Run DVD offers something for everyone from an insightful audio commentary by the film's directors and stop motion animation pioneers, Peter Lord and Nick Park, to fun-filled games for kids and families. In addition to the commentary, Aardman fans and adults are treated a behind-the-scenes featurette entitled The Hatching of Chicken Run and a Making Of special - each unveiling the never-before-seen techniques used in the production of this uniquely crafted movie.

With the family DVD market continuing its "egg-celerated" growth, Chicken Run DVD is loaded with hours of family entertainment. A DVD-ROM component features two "egg-cellent" interactive games, Escape the Pie Machine and Whack a Tweedy, offering "Grade AAA" fun on the family PC and the one million Sony Playstation II units newly delivered to the marketplace. The DVD offers a few fun "Easter eggs" laying hard to crack trivia questions. Highlighting the chicken's hysterical call to action from the movie -- "We Mustn't Panic" -- the DVD offers a screaming chicken panic button. In addition, Chicken Run themed downloadables such as screen savers, desktop icons and pets, poster sets and a calculator are included. The DVD also features cast and crew bios, production notes, trailers and more!"

Sounds very cool! Now then... HBO has finally announced the DVD release of The Sopranos: The Complete First Season. The 4-disc collector's edition will street on December 12th for an SRP of $99.98. The DVDs will be presented in anamorphic widescreen(!), and will feature an exclusive interview with creator David Chase. Shot on the set in Tony Soprano's kitchen and conducted by actor/director Peter Bogdanovich, the one hour and seventeen minute long interview explores the making of the critically-acclaimed series. Other exclusive features include an audio commentary track for the first episode by Chase and Bogdanovich, two behind-the-scenes featurettes, episodic previews and recaps, cast bios, weblinks, an episode index, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Surround Sound and Spanish mono audio tracks. We first mentioned this months ago in the Rumor Mill and frankly we were starting to wonder if plans had been dropped. We're glad to see they haven't. This should be an awesome set. We're told to expect additional seasons of both The Sopranos and Sex and the City in 2001.

In other news, Sony Classical is releasing The Three Tenors Christmas to DVD on October 31st. The program, featuring the vocal talents of Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti, was recorded in Surround Sound, and the DVD features Dolby Digital 5.1 Discrete Surround Sound.

The Sony Pictures DVD Center is about to open their Sony DVD Center Europe (Sony DCE) in Austria on September 18, 2000. That's good news for you folks in R2 - there's NO ONE doing DVD compression and authoring better than the folks at Sony.

Video Business has a story on Disney's head DVD honcho who has left the studio to go work on Microsoft's new X-Box game platform. Maybe now we'll stop having to sit through mandatory commercials at the start of every disc?

And there's change happening for Universal's Touch of Evil: Collector's Edition. Specifically, it's no longer going to be a collector's edition. The reason is that the studio had planned to include the documentary Reconstructing Evil: The Making of Touch of Evil on the disc, but for whatever reason (probably a legal snag) they're no longer able to. But the disc is still expected to street on October 31st for an SRP of $29.98.

Finally today, how about more upcoming DVD artwork? We've got Artisan's Bob Roberts (street date 10/17) and The Doors: Special Edition (12/5), Warner's Mr. & Mrs. Bridge (10/24) and A&E's The Life of Python (10/31). Enjoy!

Bob RobertsThe Doors: Special Edition

Mr. & Mrs. BridgeThe Life of Python

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 9/13/00 - 6 PM PDT)

Just a quick late update this evening to let you all know that DreamWorks has officially announced Chicken Run for DVD release. The disc will include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS EX 6.1 audio, a commentary track, two documentary programs and more. Street date is November 21st (as expected) and the disc will SRP for $26.99. And while we're talking about the disc, how about a look at its cover, along with DVD cover artwork for Fox's Big Momma's House (November 14th) and Wall Street (November 7th), and Criterion's The Blob (September 19th)?

Chicken RunBig Momma's House

Wall StreetThe Blob: Criterion

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 9/13/00 - 2 PM PDT)

Okay... we've got some ground to cover today, kiddies, so hang on to your hats. First of all, no sooner did we mention the impending European/Region 2 release of the TV version of Dune (which is in PAL format), we got all kinds of e-mails letting us know that a Japanese/Region 2 DVD also exists of the longer version of the film. And being a Japanese release, it's in NTSC format, which is compatible with US television. Sadly, however, the disc will set you back like $110 clams depending on where you order it. In any case, Universal? What's up, guys? Here's a look at the Japanese disc...

Dune - TV Version (Region 2 /Japanese/NTSC release)

Now then... this last Sunday, a special signing event took place at your favorite L.A.-area DVD retailer and mine, Dave's Video - The Laser Place. The event was held in honor of director Robert Wise's 86th birthday and the release to DVD of his classic The Sound of Music (from Fox). Wise was on hand to sign copies of the disc and to enjoy some reportedly awesome B-Day cake, as was actress Charmian Carr (who played Liesl von Trapp). We were unfortunately unable to attend at the last minute, but as they used to say in the social column of my hometown newspaper, "A good time was had by all!" Congratulations to Dave and Linda Lukas and the staff at 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment (some of whom are pictured in the group shot below - FYI that's Peter Staddon 2nd from the right in the back row) for holding yet another a great Dave's event. And Happy Birthday, Robert!

Director Robert Wise and actress Charmian Carr
Director Robert Wise and actress Charmian Carr

Front L to R: Robert Wise, Charmian Carr - Back L to R: Deedee Sadler, David C. Fein, Mike Matessini of Robert Wise Productions, Mrs. Millicent Wise, and Peter Staddon and John Papapavlos of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Front L to R: Robert Wise, Charmian Carr - Back L to R: Deedee Sadler, David C. Fein, Mike Matessini of Robert Wise Productions, Mrs. Millicent Wise, and Peter Staddon and John Papapavlos of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Now then... we've been getting reports from readers that the "corrected" version of Spinal Tap, which streeted yesterday, is... well... fixed. But the way MGM fixed it AND meet street date was to include the captions, which were originally burned into the film image, as another subtitle track - one that automatically defaults to "on" when you first play the disc. Some will find this unacceptable, while others will probably not mind overmuch. In any case, while this was clearly the easy way out of the problem, the captions ARE there if you want them.

On the subject of corrected DVDs, 9/18 should see the first shipments of the "fixed" version of Columbia TriStar's Leon: The Professional. By fixed, I mean to say that they've fixed the 5.1 sound problem that some had reported with the original release of the disc. To identify the new disc, look for this UPC number: 043396061965 and this catalog ID number: COL06196DVD. I don't know if the studio is exchanging defective copies, but I'm sure you can get exchanges done at the retailer you purchased them from originally.

Oh... but we're not done yet. We've got some more upcoming DVD artwork for you today - the new cover for Columbia TriStar's The Patriot: Special Edition (which streets 10/24 - I liked the movie poster artwork better), New Line's new cover for their Frequency: Platinum Series (which streets 10/31 - I liked the movie poster artwork better), and Paramount's Star Trek: The Original Series - Volumes 15 & 16 (which street on 9/19 - I liked the... well, I guess there's no original poster art, but are you sensing a trend?). Enjoy!

The Patriot: Special EditionFrequency: Platinum Series

Star Trek: The Original Series, Volume 15Star Trek: The Original Series, Volume 16

And finally today, Image Entertainment's once again updated their DVD News Page to include lots more upcoming DVD titles, including Artisan's The Doors: Special Edition (with Oliver Stone commentary), BMG's N'Sync: Live At Madison Square Garden (you knew it was coming), super-duper Perfect Storm and Time Machine boxed editions from Warner and Creative Design, Fox's Big Momma's House, a DTS Prince of Egypt from DreamWorks and lots more.

Todd and I are gonna get busy with some DVD reviews over the remainder of this week, so look for a number of big new reviews in the next few days, including Men in Black, The Lost World and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Stay tuned...

9/12/00

Well, how do you like that? No sooner do we go and post an update of titles coming late this year and early next year, we get more information to post. So once again, check out The Rumor Mill for the latest. There's more on several big summer movies coming to DVD, including the likes of Scary Movie, Me, Myself & Irene and Shaft 2000, so don't miss it.

In other news, you Dune fans are gonna love this... or maybe not. Actually, it's kinda like mud in the eye. If you live in Region 2, or have an all-region capable DVD player, you'll soon be able to get the 180-minute Television version of the film, directed your favorite and mine, "Alan Smithee". Check out this page at Blackstar and see for yourself. Sure wish Universal would let Criterion do Dune up like their excellent Brazil 3-disc set. In the meantime, you can bet I'll be putting in my order. One note - look for the release to be full frame, like the Japanese laserdisc version.

We've been hearing more buzz around the Net about eventual Star Wars DVDs. Apparently, there was a blurb in the Official PlayStation Magazine about a "top secret" effort to release the films on DVD before the end of the year as a 4-disc boxed set. And of course, several Star Wars-themed websites (like this one) have picked this up. Yeah right. If this happens, I'll eat my laserdisc collector's edition set. Look... the Bits helped spearhead the Star Wars on DVD campaign, and now we know old George has got his people working on the discs. But last we heard, Episode I was considered a likely 2001 release and the original Trilogy was more than a year away. We'd love the films on DVD as much as anyone, but we personally consider the likelihood that this story is true to be about the same as the likelihood of Jabba the Hutt winning the Gold in the Men's Decathlon in Sydney. It ain't gonna happen, folks. Olympic Womp Rat Pie Eating... now, that Jabba would take. Maybe PlayStation Magazine should stick to PlayStation news...

Hey... anyone else think adding Dennis Miller to Monday Night Football is the frickin' coolest thing ever? For those of you who answered no to that question, didjya get the Dick Fosbury joke last night? Just wondering. God, I love football. And my Vikes are 2-0 too... ;-)

And one last thing that has absolutely nothing to do with DVD, but is just too damn cool not to mention. Any Speed Racer fans out there? Ever dreamed of owning your own Mach V? Well now you can, my friend... for just $72,000. 100 replica Mach Vs are being produced by Speed Racer Autoworks, based on a Corvette chassis, complete with periscope, retractable saw blades and an estimated top speed of 185 mph. Needless to say, they probably aren't street legal. $72,000 is about $72,000 out of my price range, but a guy can dream, can't he?

Stay tuned...

9/11/00

It's another slow news day for DVD - seems like Mondays are always a bit on the slow side. But we've got word on several upcoming DVDs currently slated for the end of the year and early 2001. There's word on big summer hits, classic favorites and lots of music titles, so do check out The Rumor Mill today for that.

Also, a few days ago we listed the DVD specs for all of MGM's December titles. Well now we've got some artwork for you to check out as well. You'll see the covers for Universal's Screwed (which streets on September 26th) and Buena Vista'a Keeping the Faith (street date October 17th) as well. Enjoy!

BAT21Gorky Park

The Mouse on the MoonSid & Nancy

Keeping the FaithScrewed

And we've got one last piece of upcoming artwork to leave you with today - a look at the cover for Buena Vista's Fantasia: 60th Anniversary Edition. And don't forget the artwork for Fantasia 2000 and the Fantasia Anthology (3-disc set) which we've posted previously.

Fantasia

Stay tuned...

(LATE, LATE UPDATE - 9/8/00 - 9 PM PDT)

Okay... I discovered something today that a few of you out there may already know about. But for a lot of you, I suspect this slipped under the radar, so I'm mentioning it here. Normally, I'm not in the habit of promoting magazines and the like on this site, but this is just too freakin' cool not to say something. The October/November 2000 issue of Total Movie magazine (now on newsstands) comes with a pretty sweet little bonus - a DVD full of nifty goodies (see picture below). There are trailers for some 18 movies, including Pearl Harbor, Blair Witch 2, Gladiator, X-Men and more. There's a bunch of stuff sampled from various DVD special editions currently in release including Any Given Sunday and Romeo Must Die, as well as an interview with Trey Parker and Matt Stone (of South Park fame). But best of all, there are two short films on the disc - Kevin Rubio's funny Star Wars/Cops spoof, Troops, and a short called The Dancing Cow. The video and audio quality is surprisingly good on pretty much everything and the disc performed just fine on my Sony 7700. Total Movie magazine sells for $7.99 and I was happy to pay that just to get Troops on DVD. Funny thing is, the magazine is published by Imagine Media, with whom we used to be affiliated until the Imagine Games Network broke away from the company and became IGN.com. Go figure. Anyway, if you can get your hands on a copy of the magazine (and thus the disc) we think you'll be glad you did. Just look for Liz Hurley and her snake on the cover. And to you DVD-heads at Total Movie - cudos from the staff of the Bits. Very cool idea, guys... very cool indeed.

Total Movie magazine DVD with Troops

(LATE UPDATE - 9/8/00 - 5 PM PDT)

Our review of Universal's terrific new Jurassic Park: Collector's Edition is now up and I think you're all gonna really dig this disc. I've been enjoying it quite a lot myself - I've watched it twice already. We'll have the review of The Lost World up early next week, and we'll have DTS version reviews as soon as we get the discs. Don't forget that both discs street on October 10th. Get in line now... ;-)

Also this afternoon, we've updated our CEA DVD Player Sales chart to include the players sold into retail in the first week of September - 236,180. At this rate, we're looking at not only another record month of player sales, but the possibility of 10 million players in the U.S. market by October. Swweeeeet.

Before we go, here's a little piece of space trivia that I bet you weren't aware of. Last Friday, the Earth had a near-miss with a half-kilometer wide asteroid. The object passed within 6 million miles of us. And here I am, not even an Armageddon fan. Oh... and congrats to you guys at NASA on another flawless space shuttle launch this morning (I know we've got a lot of NASA staffers who read the Bits). For those who are interested, you can watch the entire mission live on the Net over at one of my favorite sites, Space.com. Very cool.

Have a great weekend, and we'll see you on Monday!

(EARLY UPDATE - 9/8/00 - 1:15 PM PDT)

Well... the situation with Concentric seems to have stabilized for the moment, meaning that I don't think we're going to go down completely at least for the next week. Access times may be a bit slow however, and the situation is still pretty fluid, so please bear with us. In any case, we've been receiving several generous offers from ISPs who wish to donate web hosting services, and we appreciate them very much. One way or another, the Bits will continue.

First of all today, I wanted to make a quick clarification on the specs for Legend, which we mentioned yesterday. Our understanding is that only the new Director's cut of the film will feature Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 sound. The American version may only include Dolby Surround. I edited my comments from yesterday, but I wanted to reiterate the point to avoid confusion. And our understanding is that X-Men will feature DTS 5.1 sound as well. That's just FYI.

Also today, we've got an update on MGM's expected DVD release list for December. Here's what to look for (with known specs):

December 5th - The Alamo (16x9 WS Eng/Fr/Span Lang. Fr/Span Subs Docu/Trailer/Booklet), At Close Range (16x9 WS/P&S Eng/Fr/Span Lang. Fr/Span Subs Trailer), Bat 21 (16x9 WS/P&S Eng/Span Lang. Fr/Span Subs Trailer), Breaker, Breaker (16x9 WS/P&S Eng Lang. Fr/Span Subs), Breakheart Pass (16x9 WS/P&S Eng/Fr/Span Lang. Fr/Span Subs Trailer), Rancho Deluxe (16x9 WS/P&S Eng/Fr/Span Lang. Fr/Span Subs Trailer)

December 19th - Gorky Park (16x9 WS Eng/Fr/Span Lang. Fr/Span Subs Trailer), House of Games (WS/P&S Eng/Fr/Span Lang. Fr/Span Subs Trailer), Kill Me Again (P&S Eng/Fr Lang. Fr/Span Subs Trailer), The Mouse on the Moon (WS/P&S Eng/Fr/Span Lang. Fr/Span Subs Trailer), Sid & Nancy (16x9 WS/P&S Eng Lang. Fr/Span Subs Trailer)

It does look as if MGM's talk of getting more serious about anamorphic widescreen isn't just talk - they're backing it up with 16x9 discs. Glad to see it.

Finally this morning, I wanted to let you know I'll be back in a few hours with my review of Universal's forthcoming Jurassic Park: Collector's Edition. And we should have a review of The Lost World for Monday. We've all waited a long time for these movies on DVD, and I don't think anyone is going to be disappointed. So stay tuned...

9/7/00

We're back... at least for a day or two. The Digital Bits is having MAJOR problems with our hosting service, Concentric Network. The Bits started on the Internet with a co-located server hosted by a little company here in Orange County called Anaserve. It was a great relationship - they gave us great service and we had a deal with them that gave us a discount on bandwidth in exchange for the advertising tags you see for Anaserve on the bottom of every page of the site. But about a year ago, Anaserve was purchased by Concentric and the difficulties began. Service became spotty, and site access times increased (as did server crashes). Now when we call for tech support, we speak to a "technical bureau" out of state. And here's the kicker - a month ago, they just discovered that we were still paying for service based on our existing Anaserve rates and they want to get us converted to a Concentric contract... at three to five times what we've been paying. Then, yesterday, I was mysteriously unable to access my server to upload our update for the day. Needless to say, the arm-twisting hasn't exactly made us happy Concentric customers and we are currently investigating our options. What all this means to you is that there is likely to be down time over the next week or two. So we're gonna ask you to once again be patient with us while we try to improve things on our end. Stay tuned on that front.

In the meantime, here's our update for today (much of which was supposed to get posted yesterday). We've got three new DVD reviews for you. The first is my review of a great, soon-to-be-released music DVD - Sting: The Brand New Day Tour - Live From the Universal Amphitheatre (street date 9/26). Next up is Todd Doogan's look at New Line's terrific 2-disc Magnolia: Platinum Series (now available). And finally, Todd's also given Fox's new The Omen: Special Edition a spin (also now available). Don't miss 'em!

Also today, we've got word on a couple of major upcoming DVDs. First of all, although an official announcement hasn't yet been made, we've got the details on Fox's X-Men: Special Edition. The disc will street on November 28th for an SRP of $29.98. It will include 10 minutes of deleted scenes, a gallery of production art (including some 150 images), the theatrical trailer, interview footage with director Bryan Singer and TV spots. Also coming from Fox the same day is Big Momma's House, for an SRP of $26.98. And as we may not be up and running when the announcements happen, look for both Ridley Scott's Legend and Gladiator to be officially revealed by the end of next week. We've already revealed what to expect from Gladiator in our interview with Scott Free DVD producer Charles de Lauzirika. Here's what you can look forward to from Legend - a 2-disc special edition containing both the 89-minute American theatrical version of the film (with music by Tangerine Dream) and the never-before-released, 113-minute Director's cut (featuring the Jerry Goldsmith score). Also on tap will be a great hour-long documentary on the film with new interviews with the cast & crew, a great director's commentary, trailers and more. Both films will be in anamorphic widescreen. The audio on the Director's cut will be in Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 (the sound on the American version is TBD). How's that for cool?

We're pleased today to also be able to feature the complete text of a chat that the Home Theater Forum held last night with Paramount Home Video's Martin Blythe and Michael Arkin. I think you'll find it well worth a read.

We've spoken with the folks at Columbia TriStar regarding the audio problems some of you are reporting with the 5.1 soundtrack on the new Léon: The Professional disc. They've informed us that they are officially looking into it, and expect to have more to say soon.

And finally, we've got a brand new Trivia Contest up today sponsored by our friends at Etronixs.com. Two lucky winners will take home a great prize each. One will get a brand new Pioneer DV-434 Progressive Scan DVD Player and the other will win a fully-programmable RTI T2 Remote Control (which you can setup to control every device in your home theater - even the lights!). The contest itself is a summer movie quiz and it should be fun. Keep in mind that if the Bits does go down, when we get back we'll extend the contest accordingly to make sure everyone has a chance to enter.

So there you go! Thanks everyone for your patience, enjoy today's update and hopefully we won't be out of commission for too long. Stay tuned...

9/5/00

As we reported a few days ago, MGM has officially recognized the Spinal Tap DVD problem and had taken steps to correct it. We received this statement from the studio this morning:

"MGM Home Entertainment has discovered a manufacturing error on the VHS and DVD of the film, This Is Spinal Tap. The problem was recently discovered on test and review copies of the film. The error has been corrected and MGM expects to deliver the product on or near the street date of September 12, 2000. All product available at retail outlets will be the corrected version."

Very cool. Now... here's some more upcoming DVD artwork for you today - a look at Buena Vista's Fantasia Anthology 3-disc set, New Line's Love and Basketball: Platinum Series, and Universal's Born on the Fourth of July and But I'm a Cheerleader. Enjoy!

Fantasia AnthologyBorn on the Fourth of July

But I'm a CheerleaderLove & Basketball: Platinum Series

Warner has just announced that HBO Home Video's When It Was a Game 3 will be available on VHS and DVD on November 21st. SRP is expected to be $19.95. And 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has just signed an exclusive, 2-year deal for Cinram to manufacture and distribute all its DVD product in the U.S. and Canada.

Stay tuned...

9/4/00

Hollywood takes a holiday seriously. You'd be hard pressed to find anyone working in Movietown U.S.A. today. So there's very little news per say. But there are a couple of interesting things to report.

First of all, there's a report that director Keenen Ivory Wayans is re-dubbing a line in his film Scary Movie for it's DVD and home video release. The offending line is a tongue-in-cheek poke at actress Gwyneth Paltrow's performance in Shakespeare in Love. The film is a Dimension movie (owned by Miramax), and the change comes at the request of Miramax chief Harvey Weinstein. Fascinating...

Best Buy's earnings are up for the 2nd Qtr, in part based on the strength of DVD player sales so far this year. Speaking of Best Buy, good luck finding a copy of Braveheart on DVD at the retailer. Every store I've checked has been out since Tuesday, the morning the disc streeted.

There's also a story today on Sega's bid to conquer the gaming world by establishing an online gaming network that would allow friends to play games online via their Dreamcast machines. In light of the much-anticipated and DVD-capable PlayStation II (which starts shipping in the States on October 26th), Sega's outlook isn't exactly rosy.

See you back here with a full update tomorrow...

9/1/00

We're hearing very early rumblings that MGM is planning to recall their This is Spinal Tap DVD in order to correct the missing captions problem. This is not yet official word, but sources are telling us that it's in the works. The move would mean that the DVD, which is currently slated to street on September 12th, would probably be delayed a short time. Stay tuned on this...

Now then, we would like to congratulate the winners of our Name That DVD Trivia Contest - Jeff Autor of Houston, TX, Nicole Hubbell of Baltimore, MD and Shaun Ballew of Las Vegas, NV. All three win a Matinee Poster Frame and a DVD Marquee for their home theaters, thanks to Show Off Displays. Thanks also to all 501 people who entered. The answers to this contest are now available. Stay tuned, because the next contest will start on Monday and it should be a great one!

In other news today, there's word that Kieslowski's Blue, White & Red are finally in the works for DVD from Miramax. You'll find that in today's update of The Rumor Mill, so don't miss it.

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has released the final weekly DVD Player Sales numbers for August. Some 191,140 players were sold in the week ending August 25th, making the total for the month a whopping 557,617 - even higher than July's total. At this rate, we the DVD format in Region 1 could pass 11 million players by the end of the year.

Finally today, Image Entertainment yesterday updated their DVD News page again with details on a number of upcoming titles, including Halloween 4 & 6 from Buena Vista, Animal Factory, Donnie Brasco: SE and Bridge on the River Kwai: SE from Columbia TriStar, American Pimp from MGM, Michael Moore's The Awful Truth: The Complete First Season (very cool!) from New Video, Mission: Impossible 2 and She's Having A Baby from Paramount and lots more.

Now then... the really important stuff. Sarah and I are off to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary today. It's amazing how time seems to fly sometimes, isn't it? Seems like just yesterday that she and I met in the movie soundtrack section of a Musicland store in Minneapolis (true story) and before we knew it, we were headed off to college together. So let me just take a moment here to tell my wife how much I love and appreciate her. I have to say that the one thing I really enjoy most about running the Bits is that I get to work with Sarah every day. Some days I feel like Jimmy Stewart at the end of It's a Wonderful Life - the luckiest man alive. Anyway, Sarah and I are gonna have some fun this weekend, and I hope all of you do the same. So best wishes, have a safe holiday and see you Monday!

(LATE UPDATE - 8/31/00 - 3 PM PDT)

Here's something bothersome. Todd's been looking at his review copy of MGM's This is Spinal Tap again... and he's noticed what looks like a problem. If you're familiar with the film, you know that there are a number of captions that appear throughout the film, which tell you where you are, who's talking or being talked to, etc.... Apparently, when MGM went back to the original negative for the DVD transfer, they neglected to include those captions. Todd's got a call in to MGM and those involved in the DVD's production and hopefully we'll hear something more about this soon. Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 8/31/00 - 12:15 PM PDT)

A couple of interesting things have crept up today. First of all, Buena Vista has revealed more of their October DVD slate. Here's what to expect: Beowulf, Committed, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Meyers, Hellraiser: Bloodline, Hellraiser: Inferno, Keeping the Faith, Shanghai Noon, James & the Giant Peach: Special Edition, Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas: Gold Edition, The Nightmare Before Christmas: Special Edition, The Black Cauldron: Gold Edition, Toy Story 2-pack and The Ultimate Toy Box.

We've got more upcoming cover art today - Buena Vista's Shanghai Noon, Columbia TriStar's Fail Safe: Special Edition and two holiday titles from Warner, the Partick Stewart/TNT version of A Christmas Carol and the TV classic The Year Without a Santa Clause. Enjoy!

Shanghai NoonFail Safe: Special Edition

A Christmas CarolThe Year Without a Santa Clause

That rumor you've been hearing is true - Warner has obtained the U.S. domestic home video distribution rights to the BBC catalog of documentaries and television programs. The first such title to be released under this new arrangement is Walking with Dinosaurs. The title has been a Fox property, but starting on September 8th, it will be re-released under the Warner label. The 2-disc set's contents will remain the same, and the SRP will be $34.98. Look for other BBC properties, including Dr. Who and Ab Fab, to be released by Warner in the future.

In other news, fans of director Godfrey Reggio's film Koyaanisqatsi can get it on DVD now... for a price. It seems that the company who owns the rights, the Institute for Regional Education, is in the midst of a legal battle over the these rights, which are clouded because the ownership of the film has passed through so many hands over the years. But they've commissioned a limited number of DVD versions of the film, and are selling them to help raise money for the legal fight. For a tax-deductible donation of $180 (USD), you can get a copy signed by Reggio himself. And remember, the money goes to ensure that the film will soon be available to everyone on our favorite format. Check out this link to learn more.

Todd's been a busy Internet beaver these days and has stumbled on another very cool website, this time promoting a movie we can't wait to see. One of our favorite new filmmakers, Darren Aronofsky (have you seen his earlier film Pi? If you haven't, you should - it's a great DVD), has a new film coming out called Requiem for a Dream. The movie looks just cool as hell. Check out the film's official website at http://www.requiemforadream.com, but be prepared to spend some time and click on everything. The more time you spend on the site, the more things become available to you. And FYI... the website was created by the folks at Artisan who kicked Internet promotion up a notch with The Blair Witch Project. So don't miss it.

Finally today, a reminder. This is the last day of our current Name That DVD Trivia Contest, so get those last-minute entries in quick!

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 8/30/00 - 2:30 PM PDT)

Whoops! Did I say it was a slow news day? Well, it's still a slow news day. But I do have some cool upcoming DVD artwork for you. Here's a look at the final packaging for the Toy Story 2-Pack and the James and the Giant Peach: Special Edition, both from Buena Vista. Enjoy!

Toy Story 2 PackJames and the Giant Peach: Special Edition

(EARLY UPDATE - 8/30/00 - 12:15 PM PDT)

Can you say SSSLLLOOOOWWWW news day? There's not much at all to post in the way of news, so I'm going to babble a bit. Kidding... but I do have a few things to tell you.

First of all, it look as if you DVD fans up north are getting the short end of the stick when it comes to the new T2 DVD. Apparently, many retailers in Canada haven't received their shipments of the disc yet, as retailers in the States are being serviced first. Also, we've heard from at least one owner of the new T2 2-disc version, who claims that with the two discs and the fat collector's booklet, you can't close the case. As Homer Simpson might say, "Doh!"

Yahoo's got a funny little story up today on the Star Wars films coming to VHS again. It's a pretty good read. You've got to wonder just how many times Lucasfilm is gonna re-release these damn films on videotape. I mean, anybody with half a whisker of interest must already have at least 2 versions of these films on tape or laserdisc. And anyone with more than a whisker of interest is jonesin' for the DVDs. Do you think that if we all gathered up our old tapes and stacked them 40 or 50 high, could we surround the entire Skywalker ranch with wall of VHS and barricade the staff inside until they come out with a DVD? Now THAT would be a cool protest.

And in other non-news today, Doogan saw this on the Net and we think it's pretty funny. There's a guy with a serious Jesus complex in Northern Virginia who's looking for love. You gotta admire the guy's originality. You can "shower with Jesus" to promote good hygiene and (our favorite part) have a beer with him - "When I thirst (John 19:28), nothing satisfies me more than a crisp pint of Guinness." What does this have to do with DVD? Nothing, but it sure is worth a laugh. And the guy's website is probably going to get like a half a million visits 'cause we mentioned it. Hope you find that soul mate, Big Guy...!

We've got a little information on that new Sting DVD - Sting: Brand New Day at Universal Ampitheatre. It will run $24.95 and was recorded in L.A. on October 30th, 1999. The tracks included are: A Thousand Years, If You Love Somebody (Set Them Free), After The Rain Has Fallen, We'll Be Together, Perfect Love... Gone Wrong, Seven Days, Fill Her Up, Every Little Thing She Does is Magic, Ghost Story, Moon Over Bourbon Street, Englishman in New York, Brand New Day, Tomorrow We'll See, Desert Rose, Every Breath You Take, Lithium Sunset, Message in a Bottle and Fragile. Thanks to Angel for the info. Now if the guy would just get off his #@% and do a Police reunion - I'd pay money to see that.

I also want to thank Mike Sayers (aka Mr. Moody) who took that T2 2-disc picture from yesterday.

Don't forget that tomorrow is the last day for the Trivia Contest, so get yer entries in fast, 'cause time is running out.

And finally today, I wanted to let you all know that we're doing a lot of work behind-the-scenes to improve the website over the next few weeks. You won't notice anything right away, but the changes will be apparent soon enough. And we're doing some work on our servers over the next 7 to 10 days, so if you notice any delays, or if we go down for an hour or two, please bear with us. Thanks!

So how's that for non-news? See ya later and stay tuned... ;-)

8/29/00

We've got some new information in today's Rumor Mill post about work on an eventual DVD release of Paramount's The Untouchables. Don't miss it.

The P.T. Anderson website has posted an interview with Mark Rance, who has been very busy working on New Line's new Platinum Series DVD of Seven. There's some word as to what kind of extras the new two disc set will include, so you might want to check it out.

As you may know, the Star Wars Trilogy is being re-released on VHS again on November 21st. I can almost see the ad campaign now - "GET IT NOW... FOR THE FIRST TIME THIS CENTURY!" There will, however, be no DVD release. You should know that Lucasfilm IS hard at work on the DVD version of Episode I, which is expected sometime in 2001. Episode I will definitely be the first of the series to reach the format, and I wouldn't expect the other three films to find their way to DVD until 2002 at the earliest, due to ongoing work on the second film. You may remember that our joint Star Wars on DVD Campaign is what helped to trigger work on Episode I (be aware that the petition is no longer active). But frankly, the fact that no DVDs are coming with this next VHS release is just going to piss off a lot of fans. So while we're pretty much done with trying to get these discs out any faster, our official opinion on this issue hasn't changed much.

There have been a number of reports that Artisan's T2: The Ultimate Edition DVD isn't shipping in huge quantities at the moment, and may be hard to find. That's because of manufacturing trouble producing enough of the DVD-18 discs to meet demand. In order to offset the underage, we've been told that Artisan has decided to produce later runs of the title as two DVD-9 discs (which are easier to manufacture), rather than a single DVD-18. One of our readers (thanks Nicolas!) has found a picture of the new 2-disc version for you all to see (thanks also to whoever posted this on the newsgroups). Keep in mind that this is still the same special edition - there's no difference as far as content. It's just that some of you will get it on 2 discs instead of one.

T2: Ultimate Edition (2-disc version)

Finally today, Image Entertainment has again updated their DVD News page to include details on several upcoming releases including Buena Vista's Fantasia, Fantasia 2000 and The Fantasia Anthology (3-disc set), Columbia TriStar's Fail Safe: SE, MGM's Escape from New York, Paramount's Airplane, Airplane 2, Star Trek Volumes 17 & 18 and Tucker: The Man and His Dream and the animated X-Men: Phoenix Saga from Universal.

Stay tuned...

8/28/00

We've had a few things come up that we need to deal with today, so the panel transcript is being delayed a bit. Never fear - it's still on the way. But we've got a couple of other pieces of interesting news for you this morning anyway.

First of all, we've got word that Fox's X-Men is going to be announced this week. That's in the Rumor Mill this morning, along with a sneak peek at some of the features to expect on the disc.

In other news, there are a few good articles online today that I think are worth reading. First of all, the L.A. Times has an interesting story on Napster and how it is forcing the music industry to change its ways or become extinct. And according to ZDNet, a number of tech groups are filing briefs in the Napster case, saying that the judge's ruling against Napster is too broadly worded - which could result in all sorts of unintended consequences later. It's an interesting article. ZDNet also has an interesting story up on the slow growth of DVD-ROM. And finally, our friend Andy Patrizio has filed a story with Wired.com from the DVD 2000 Conference on DVD copy-protection efforts that are being devised to protect the format from hackers and pirates in the near future. The keyword here is watermarking.

Now then... for anyone who missed it on Friday, be sure to read our in-depth interview with Scott Free's Charles de Lauzirika, who talks with us at length about DreamWorks' upcoming DVD version of Ridley Scott's Gladiator and a new Blade Runner: Special Edition that's currently in development at Warner. I think you'll definitely find the interview with a read.

Stay tuned...

8/26/00

Thanks for all your kind comments on the interview we posted yesterday with Scott Free's DVD producer Charles de Lauzirika. Looks like a LOT of you are looking forward to Gladiator and Blade Runner. As we said in the article, we'll be posting more on Legend in the next week or two, so be sure to stay tuned for that.

Just a couple of quick things today. First, some of you may remember how much I enjoyed the film Six Days in Roswell, which was produced and directed by Roger Nygard and Timothy B. Johnson - the same creative team behind the hilarious Trekkies. I enjoyed the film so much that we recently interviewed Roger and helped him to arrange DVD distribution for the film with our friends at Synapse Films (the special edition disc streets on November 14th). Well, if you're in the L.A. area and you can't wait to see the film on DVD, there will be a screening of it tomorrow night (Sunday, August 27th) in Pacific Palisades as part of the Pacific Palisades Film Festival. The showing will be at 7:00 PM, at the Theater Palisades on Tesecal Canyon Road, 100 yards south of Sunset, on the east side of the street (how's that for directions?). I really laughed hard at this flick, and if UFO kooks and alien abduction shenanigans crack you up, bring your friends and don't miss it.

And finally today, we've just launched the new Trivia Contest, and Sarah's cooked up a fun one - Name That DVD! Three lucky winners will take home a Matinee Poster Frame and a DVD Marquee for their home theaters, thanks to Show Off Displays! The contest will run until 7 PM PST on Thursday, August 31st. And all the answers can be found here at the Bits. So Click here to enter and good luck!

8/25/00

We've got something really special for you today. But first, we've got a couple of quick announcements. We've just updated the CEA DVD Player sales page with the numbers for the week ending August 18th - 124,124 players sold into retail. And with that, the number of DVD players in Region 1 has officially passed the 9 million mark! The stats above have been updated accordingly. Now that's just extremely cool - what a great time this is for DVD.

Also today, Paramount has made their official Mission: Impossible 2 announcement and we've got the details. As mentioned yesterday, the disc will street on November 7th, for an SRP of $29.99 (note that the VHS will be priced for rental - only the DVD is sell-through). The disc will include anamorphic widescreen video and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Also on board will be animated menus, a section called Behind the Mission (which includes 15 minutes of exclusive cast and crew interviews), a 5-minute Mission Impossible stunts featurette, a 39-minute featurette called Impossible Shots (which shows how 11 stunts sequences were created, with interviews by John Woo, Tom Cruise and stunt coordinator Brian Smrz), a feature-length director's commentary with Woo, Metallica's I Disappear music video, an alternate title sequence, and the MTV Movie Awards show parody, Mission Improbable, with Tom Cruise, Ben Stiller and John Woo (which is EXTREMELY funny - trust me on this). Also included will be DVD-ROM extras such as dossiers on the characters, details on the filming locations, a look at the equipment and gadgets, interactive games, a photo gallery, screen savers and weblinks. It will undoubtedly be Paramount's most ambitious DVD to date.

Don't forget that tonight at 6 PM PDT, DVD fans on the Net will have the opportunity to watch Warner's Three Kings in your DVD-ROM, while chatting with Mark Wahlberg and director David O. Russell online. You simply sign up for the event and log in at the right time. Warner will send out a signal to start everyone's movies at the same time - everyone will watch the film together, including Wahlberg and Russell, and they'll answer questions. Visit this website to sign up and for more information: http://www.warnervideo.com/threekingsevents/

And just to let you know, we'll be starting a brand new quick contest tomorrow morning, which will run over the weekend. Then, on Monday, we'll kick off our regular, full-fledged Trivia Contest. So check back for that.

Now then... we've saved the best part for last. As the next in our ongoing series of DVD producer interviews, today we're very pleased to present an in-depth chat with Scott Free's Charles de Lauzirika. You may remember that we've spoken to him previously regarding Fox's Alien DVD. This time, Charles and I talk at length about a whole series of Ridley Scott films that are coming soon to DVD. The article includes some early word on the work that's currently underway regarding Warner's Blade Runner: Special Edition. But here's the best part - we've got exclusive, OFFICIAL details on DreamWorks' upcoming Gladiator DVD. There's information on the title's special edition content and some great behind-the-scenes stories on the production of the disc. If you're a fan of director Ridley Scott, this is one interview that you'll definitely not want to miss. So with that, we give you Scott Free DVD: A Chat with DVD Producer Charles de Lauzirika. Enjoy!

And we'll be back on Monday with that DVD 2000 panel transcript and more. Have a great weekend and, as always, stay tuned...


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