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page updated: 1/5/01



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 12/1/00 - 11/3/00)


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(LATE UPDATE - 12/1/00 - 5:30 PM PST)

This is just a quick late update to let you know that we've picked the winners for our Turkey Day Trivia Contest. Thanks to everyone who entered and be sure to click here to see the list of winners (and the answers). The December contest will start soon, so keep your eyes peeled...

Also, we've just learned that Warner Bros. has officially set January 16th as the street date for Battlefield: Earth (no word on whether it will include John Travolta's desired edits). Even better (actually, a LOT better) the studio will release Ben Hur and The Old Man and the Sea on March 13th. Ben Hur will be a special edition, with a new anamorphic transfer, audio commentary by Charlton Heston, the documentary Ben-Hur: The Making of an Epic, newly-discovered screen tests, the film's theatrical trailer and more. How awesome is that? And, while we're at it, how about a look at the artwork for those titles, along with Oliver Stone's America (which will be available in the Oliver Stone Collection in January)? Enjoy...

Ben HurThe Old Man and the Sea

Battlefield: EarthOliver Stone's America: The Oliver Stone Collection

20th Century Fox has also announced that February 13th will see the release of Michael Jordan to the Max and two "double feature" DVDs. The first will feature Revenge of the Nerds and Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise, while the second will include Porky's and Porky's II: The Next Day. And on March 13th, you'll get Grand Canyon, The Ice Storm, Inventing the Abbots, Paradise Road and Smilla's Sense of Snow. Artisan Entertainment is also set to release Cecil B. Demented on 1/23. Sweeeet...

Have a great weekend!

(EARLY UPDATE - 12/1/00 - 2 PM PST)

Wow... is it December already? Has this year just flown by or what? And what a good year it's been for DVD.

Let's get the business out of the way first - we've just updated the Rumor Mill with more word on Artisan's upcoming Dune DVD, as well as a bit or two on Paramount's The Untouchables disc. And could David Fincher's The Game be coming to DVD as a deluxe special edition? Read the Rumor Mill and find out...

Don't forget that Universal's Jurassic Park III live event will be held on December 4th (Monday) at 5 PM PST. Stan Winston will give a sneak-peek at some of the dinosaurs appearing in the new movie, live from the film's set. Then at 5:30, there will be an exclusive live chat with Winston, accessible only via the DVD-ROM link on the Jurassic Park and The Lost World: Jurassic Park DVDs. It should be a lot of fun, so don't miss it. Click here for more details.

Some upcoming title news today - Fantoma Films will be releasing a cool trio of horror discs on April 3rd, 2001. The three are Coffin Joe: At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul, Coffin Joe: This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse and Coffin Joe: Awakening of the Beast. They'll all feature new transfers, interviews with the cast & crew, trailers and reproductions of the original Coffin Joe comic books (a different one with each disc). Todd is psyched about these DVDs. The lead character is apparently a nasty who dresses all in black with a top hat, a bushy beard and long creepy fingernails. Says Todd, "Most of these films were banned by the Brazilian government, forcing director/star Jose Mojica Marins to travel the countryside in a makeshift theater caravan, showing his films to whomever was willing to pay." Okay... I'm intrigued. The DVDs should definitely be worth looking forward to if you like horror.

Anchor Bay is also working on a bunch of cool titles. On December 12th, they're releasing Mr. Bill's Classics! - the complete collection of Mr. Bill shorts from Saturday Night Live... along with audio commentary by Mr. Bill (moderated by Mr. Hands, of course). How do you not like that? Also coming from them on January 16th is John Woo's A Better Tomorrow and A Better Tomorrow II, starring Chow Yun Fat (both with new anamorphic widescreen transfers). And on February 13th (just in time for Valentine's Day and the release of Ridley Scott's Silence of the Lambs sequel, Hannibal), Anchor Bay will debut director Michael Mann's film version of the Thomas Harris "prequel" novel Red Dragon. Manhunter will be released in both regular and limited DVD editions. And while we're taking about these discs, how about a look at them?

Mr. Bill Classics!Manhunter: Limited Edition

A Better TomorrowA Better Tomorrow II

Now then, speaking of Ridley Scott... last night, I attended a special Gladiator celebration that DreamWorks held at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The event was huge, and was officially planned to celebrate the release of the DVD, which (as many of you know) has become the single biggest title in the history of the format to date (3.6 million initially shipped discs, with more being pressed even as you read this). Unofficially, however, the event was also designed to kick off the studio's Oscar push for the film, which is considered by many to be a favorite for Best Picture. The studio rolled out the red carpet for director Ridley Scott and star Russell Crowe, who were on hand as special guests. Also in attendance were numerous other cast & crew members from the film, studio representatives, members of the press and tons of Academy members - I'd say there were some 1,500 people in all.

The evening started out with a private reception with the cast & crew, with plenty food and drink. Then, at 7PM, we filed downstairs into the main Academy theater (where the stage is flanked by giant Oscar statuettes), to join the rest of the attendees for a special screening of the film. I can't express how much fun it was to Gladiator on the big screen, in fantastic surround sound. As great as the DVD is, there's just something about that larger canvas that adds a more visceral quality to the experience. The theater is naturally state-of-the-art, and the crowd was very enthusiastic, even to the point of cheering during the film. Adding to the atmosphere, was the fact that cast & crew were all around (including editor Pietro Scalia, writer David Franzoni, director of photography John Mathieson and actors Tomas Arana (Quintus) and Ralph Moeller (Hagen) - the film's composer, Hans Zimmer, was sitting right in front of us). Then, after the film played out, director Ridley Scott and star Russell Crowe were introduced to a standing ovation, and took the stage for a Q&A/discussion moderated by a representative from Variety magazine. Ridley and Russell told some interesting and funny behind-the-scenes stories about the production, and Ridley provided "live" commentary to three or four clips of the film that were shown. The clips, which included the Germania battle, Commodus' arrival in Rome, Maximus' entrance into the Coliseum and the digitally constructed scene with Proximo, illustrated the amazing special effects wizardry involved in the film. Russell's stories, in particular, we're especially amusing (and off-color) and included one in which he and Richard Harris apparently got Joaquin Phoenix drunk one night to help him loosen up and relax on the set (he was nervous about playing Commodus). Russell's a good bloke - very funny. And at the end of the Q&A, the audience sang Happy Birthday to Ridley, who turned 63 yesterday.

Then, everyone filed down to a large reception area on the building's main floor, where tons of props and artwork from the film were on display, and there was more food and drink to be had. Along with some of those who worked on the DVD, I watched as the film's storyboard artist cranked out a sketch of a gladiator in his helmet. And we had a great discussion with the film's special effects supervisor, who talked about the panic caused when actor Oliver Reed (Proximo) died, and how they were able to digitally build the scene where he releases Maximus (and sacrifices himself) from alternate takes and unused footage of other scenes - amazing. All in all, it was a fantastic evening. Don't be surprised if you see clips from the event on Entertainment Tonight... well, tonight.

So will Gladiator win Best Picture? We'll have to wait and see. But I'll tell you this... I certainly wouldn't bet against it.

Don't forget - there's just a few more hours to get your Trivia Contest entries in! We'll announce the winners this evening, and you've got until 5 PM PST to enter.

Have a great weekend and stay tuned...

11/30/00

We've got another DVD review for you today... MGM's long-awaited Escape from New York. I know MGM is trying hard to do a Fox-like turn around with their DVD product, and they're really ramping up the number of titles they release. But they really need to focus a LOT harder on the quality of those titles, because Escape is probably going to disappoint a lot of fans. Let's hope future titles from the studio fare better.

Speaking of MGM, we've got some more upcoming DVD artwork for you today, including a look at MGM's River's Edge (1/23) and The Abdominable Dr. Phibes (2/20), along with Paramount's Death Wish (1/16), Warner's Heaven and Earth (1/16), ADV's Farscape, Volume 1 (2/6) and one to make the wives and daughters happy... BMG's N'Sync: Making the Tour (12/12).

River's EdgeThe Abdominable Dr. Phibes

Death WishHeaven and Earth: The Oliver Stone Collection

Farscape, Volume 1N'Sync: Making the Tour

Stay tuned...

11/29/00

Great Scott!! It's The Blob!! No... not the toy stuff that comes in a plastic container with little plastic eyes and other creepy stuff in it. We're talking about the new special edition DVD from our friends at The Criterion Collection. Don't miss Dan Kelly's review, 'cause this disc is sure to please fans of B-movies on DVD.

We're continuing to work on site maintenance today, but we've also got the latest update of Jim Taylor's Official DVD FAQ for you. The guy definitely knows his DVD. This latest update is dated 11/27, so be sure to check it out if you've got a baffling technical question about your favorite format.

Looks like DreamWorks' Gladiator DVD has done even better than expected. The title shipped a whopping 3.6 million units, with 2 million of those already sold to consumers over the Thanksgiving holiday week. That is nothing short of amazing. Anyone still doubt that DVD's gone mainstream? You can read more here via Yahoo.

There also a new update of Image Entertainment's must-read DVD News page, with the details on lots of upcoming titles. Among them are A&E's The Great Gatsby, Artisan's Cecil B. Demented, Columbia TriStar's Get on the Bus, Glory: Special Edition and School Daze, Double Suicide from Criterion, DreamWorks' What Lies Beneath, New Concorde's Battle Beyond the Stars: Special Edition (gasp!), Affair of Love and Five Senses from New Line, Red Letters from Paramount, Trimark's Steal This Movie, Universal's Harvey and The Lost Weekend and the whole Oliver Stone Collection from Warner. And those are just the highlights.

Finally this morning, don't forget that our Turkey Day Trivia Contest comes to a close on Friday. It's a pretty easy one, so there's no excuse for not entering, especially when you consider the cool prizes we're giving away. Get your entries in fast!

Stay tuned...

11/28/00

We've got a little more upcoming DVD news for you today. But first, we've just updated the CEA DVD Player Sales statistics for the first half of November, and darned if the DVD format didn't pass 12 million players shipped here in the States. Looks like we might even it 13 million before Y2K is history. All our stats above have all been updated as well.

Now then... ADV is releasing their first disc of Farscape TV episodes on 2/6. The first disc will include the episodes Premiere and I, ET, along with commentary and other behind-the-scenes material. SRP is $24.98. Look for additional discs to follow. Buena Vista is prepping Clerks: Animated Series Uncensored for release on 2/20. The disc will include all 6 episodes of the series for an SRP of $29.99. Disney has more classic/animated titles coming to DVD in early 2001. Look for Lady and the Tramp 2: Scamp's Adventure on 2/17. Bedknobs and Broomsticks and The Sword in the Stone follow on 3/20 (those are in addition to Pete's Dragon, which we mentioned yesterday). A&E will release The Best of the Original Avengers on 1/2, featuring 6 classic episodes on 2 DVDs, hand-picked by Patrick Macnee himself (aka John Steed). And Columbia TriStar has announced the DVD release of Cirque du Soleil's Dralion on 1/23. The DVD will feature anamorphic widescreen video and a behind-the-scenes featurette (all for $24.95).

Now then... I think you need more upcoming DVD cover artwork. So here are Paramount's The Untouchables (street date 1/16), Warner's The Oliver Stone Collection (1/16), MGM's Untamed Heart, Mystic Pizza and I'm Gonna Git You Sucka (all 1/9) and DreamWorks' Small Time Crooks (12/19). Enjoy...

The UntouchablesThe Oliver Stone Collection (10 discs)

Mystic PizzaUntaimed Heart

I'm Gonna Git You SuckaSmall Time Crooks

FYI - if you're looking forward to the Sci-Fi Channel's upcoming Dune miniseries (which we mentioned yesterday in the Rumor Mill), you might be surprised to know that there's a book currently available, called The Secrets Behind Frank Herbert's Dune (see image here), which includes a bonus DVD disc featuring behind-the-scenes video and "special edition" material from the production (my copy is on order now). The disc is available on Amazon.com and elsewhere, and retails for $18.95. Thanks to Mark for the heads-up!

One last note - our friends at the Home Theater Forum have just published a full report and photo album of their recent California trip, which included behind-the-scenes visits to several studios and DVD production facilities. Be sure to check it out.

We're going to be doing some site maintenance and archiving work for the rest of the day today, but we'll be back tomorrow with reviews and more.

Stay tuned...

11/27/00

So did everyone have a good holiday? We've got a LOT of upcoming title ground to cover today, so let's get right to it.

First of all, we've got word that the Sci-Fi Channel's 6-hour Dune mini-series is coming to DVD in 2001. Check the Rumor Mill for that.

We have news on a title that a LOT of folks have been waiting for from Miramax - one which caused a heap of controversy not too long ago. Princess Mononoke will finally arrive on DVD on December 19th, and the studio's official press release (you'll be happy to know) proclaims that it WILL include the original Japanese language track. The DVD will feature anamorphic widescreen video (1.85:1), a 5.1 English track and separate Japanese and French tracks. You demanded it, and the Mouse is giving it to you.

Love's Labour's Lost is also coming to DVD from Miramax on 12/19. The DVD is expected to include deleted scenes, outtakes and behind-the-scenes footage. December 12th will see the DVD release of the comedy Human Traffic from the studio. And Jet Li's The Legend debuts the same day (you will also be able to buy The Legend in a Dimension Jet Li Collection with The Defender, Jet Li's The Enforcer, Fist of Legend and Twin Warriors). You might be surprised to know that Dimension is also working on a Reindeer Games: Exclusive Director's Cut, featuring 20 minutes of never-before-seen footage, for release on December 12th. Disney's Air Bud: World Pup also arrives on 12/12.

And, in the last of the Disney news, the studio has announced the first of its classic Gold Collection titles for 2001 - Pete's Dragon, which will street on January 16th. The DVD will include the never-before-available, 1946 animated Donald Duck short, Lighthouse Keeping, along with trailers and TV spots, a 26-minute featurette on the Loch Ness Monster called Man, Myth and Mysteries, a showcase of Disney artist Ken Anderson (who worked on the film), still frame galleries of concept art, promotional stills and behind-the-scenes photos, and the Where's Elliot "disappearing dragon game". SRP is $29.99.

DreamWorks will be releasing their DVD version of Harrison Ford's What Lies Beneath on January 30th. Director Robert Zemeckis will provide an audio commentary for the disc.

Paramount's announced some of their February DVD slate. Among the titles expected are Bless the Child (2/13), along with Alfe, The Evening Star, Ordinary People and Terms of Endearment (all 2/27). Stock up on Kleenex, guys. Before I forget, Star Trek: The Original Series, Volumes 19 & 20 are due 2/13 as well.

Look for Warner's Bait on 1/23 (but where's Space Cowboys?). FYI, we've heard rumors that the DVD delay with John Travolta's godawful Battlefield: Earth has to do with the star's desire to re-edit the film for home video release to "make it better". Good luck, John. And surprise! Warner's releasing The Best of Friends, Volume 1 on DVD on 12/19. I sure wish that the studio would get with the program and just release TV product like Fox does - a season at a time. They screwed up Rhino's great treatment of South Park, and now Friends? Ouch. This "best of" crap is for the birds. Anyway, the disc will feature audio commentary, a featurette, extended takes and 180 minutes worth of episodes (including the Pilot, The One with Two Parts 1 & 2, The One with All the Poker, The One Where Ross Finds Out and The One with the Prom Video). SRP is $19.98. That same day will also see The Best of Friends, Volume 2 with more episodes (including The One Where No One's Ready, The One with the Embryos, The One with Ross's Wedding 1 & 2, The One with All the Thanksgivings and The One Where Everyone Finds Out).

Here's a bunch of upcoming artwork for some of the titles we've mentioned today (and in previous posts)...

What Lies BeneathThe Exorcist: The Version You've Never Seen

The Best of Friends, Volume 1The Best of Friends, Volume 2

Natural Born Killers: The Oliver Stone CollectionJFK: Special Edition Director's Cut: The Oliver Stone Collection (2-discs)

And no... I don't know for sure which version of Natural Born Killers will be on the DVD (although I suspect it will be the theatrical version). The Oliver Stone titles street on January 16th, with The Oliver Stone Collection.

Columbia TriStar has also announced Solomon & Gaenor for DVD release on January 30th. The disc will include anamorphic widescreen video, writer/director commentary, talent files and trailers. SRP is $29.95. That same day, look for If Lucy Fell, with full frame and widescreen video and talent files (SRP $24.95). And the studio will release a Jackie Chan Gift Set on DVD 1/30, which will include Gorgeous, Jackie Chan's Who Am I and Miracles. The set will have an SRP of $53.95

Finally this morning, a little holiday story. My family and I spent our Thanksgiving in Las Vegas (a turkey buffet has got to be the ultimate cheesy way to celebrate the day, but watching the Vikings game at the Mirage sportsbook was too cool). Anyway, we went there to celebrate Sarah's grandmother's 90th birthday, and more than a dozen family members were there for the fun. It was really a great time - everybody won a little money (including Gram), we all ate a little too much and a good time was had by all. So on the way back, my wife, her mother and grandmother and I are checking in at the airport for our America West flight back to Orange County, CA, when we discovered that the airline had severely over-booked the flight, and we only had 3 guaranteed seats. I volunteered to ride stand-by and had to wait while everyone else boarded. Luckily, I was able to get on at the last minute. And who do you suppose got on right after me, and sat right next to my mother-in-law? Rudy Ruettiger. Any of you see the movie Rudy (which we just reviewed recently here)? Well, the real Rudy Ruettiger apparently lives in Las Vegas and is now a motivational speaker. I recognized him from the featurette on his life on the DVD, and said hello. And darned if he wasn't one of the nicest guys I've ever met. He was travelling to visit family in Orange County, and we got to talking about the business and so forth. When he found out what I do for a living, he excitedly took down the website address for the Bits (and said he'd be checking it out), and give me his contact information to keep in touch. You know... the word hero doesn't seem to mean much these days. But here's a guy who, because of his hard work and determination, has inspired lots of kids to get good educations and chase their dreams. So Rudy, if you're reading this, it was an honor to meet you. What a nice way to end an already fun weekend. ;-)

As always... stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 11/22/00 - 10 AM PST)

WOW! Was yesterday a big day for DVD? You might as well ask if the sky is really blue. I've gotten reports that there were lines at Best Buy stores around the country yesterday morning, with people waiting to take advantage the retailer's $14.99 price on Gladiator. The title was sold out at tons of retailers by noon. And while Gladiator was the first title people picked up, it wasn't the last. X-Men, Bridge on the River Kwai and Chicken Run all flew off the shelves as well. I can't wait to see what the sales numbers for yesterday look like. If this isn't a sign that DVD has gone mainstream, I don't know what is.

Now then... need a movie to get yourself into the Thanksgiving spirit? Well, how about Paramount's Planes, Trains & Automobiles, starring Steve Martin and John Candy. That's as classic and good a Turkey Day movie as you'll find anywhere. And we've just posted Greg Suarez's full review. Also today, we've got Todd's review of Criterion's awesome new Beastie Boys Video Anthology. If you're a fan of music on DVD, this is a MUST have disc. Criterion has definitely set a new standard for presenting music on our favorite format. Very cool.

As seems to happen once every couple of months, a few websites have commented again on rumors of Star Wars coming to DVD. And, as expected, we've gotten a flurry of concerned e-mails from Star Wars fans letting us know that the subject has come up again, and what's the deal? It seems that several Fox executives in Europe have let it slip that Star Wars: Episode I might be arriving on DVD in November 2001. Of course, Lucasfilm and Fox aren't commenting. And WE'RE getting tired of commenting on rumor after rumor started by other websites. Here's the official story (which hasn't changed since the last time we posted it): Star Wars: Episode I is officially "in production" for DVD, as it as been for many months. It will likely be released sometime in 2001, but no official date has been set. Also, don't expect the original Star Wars Trilogy in the foreseeable future. Are you guys as sick as we are of all this? When the DVDs finally do show up, it's almost going to be anti-climactic. Hopefully, this is the last time we'll have to comment on this subject until there's real news to report. Which may be quite a few months, at this rate. Definitely enough said.

Now then... this is our last report until after the Thanksgiving holiday. Have a great and safe time, best to you and yours and remember... turkey makes you sleepy (so don't eat and drive). ;-)

Happy Holiday!

(EARLY UPDATE - 11/22/00 - 1 AM PST)

Remember how we said the other day in the Rumor Mill that the British Sci-fi TV series Space: 1999 was coming to DVD in Region 1 from A&E sometime in Q2 2001? Well... we were wrong. It's coming in January! The first two 2-disc sets will be released on January 30th, for an SRP of $39.95 each. The episodes have been digitally remastered from the original 35mm negatives, and will contain additional footage not seen in U.S. TV broadcasts. Set 1 will include 2 discs with 3 episodes each (the episodes are Breakaway, Matter of Life and Death, Black Sun, Ring Around the Moon, Earthbound and Another Time, Another Place). Set 2 will also include 2 discs with 3 episodes each (the episodes are Missing Link, Guardian of Piri, Force of Life, Alpha Child, The Last Sunset and Voyager's Return). Additional sets will follow later in 2001. This is cool news - as cheesy as this show was, I have to confess to being a big fan. You can pre-order the discs online now. And before I forget, here's a look at the discs' cover artwork. Sweet!

Space: 1999 Set 1Space: 1999 Set 2

We also have word that A&E has plans to release the complete Thunderbirds series on DVD later in 2001. And MGM is apparently expecting to release the two Thunderbirds feature films (Thunderbirds Are Go and Thunderbird 6) next year as well. F.A.B., baby...!

We'll be back with more later this morning - stay tuned...

11/21/00

We've got two things for you today. First of all, we've just launched our "Turkey Day" Trivia Contest, giving you all a chance to take home one of 13 great prizes. We've got 4 copies of the Jurassic Park 2-pack from Universal, 5 copies of The Rolling Stones: Gimmie Shelter from Criterion, a copy of The Perfect Storm signed by director Wolfgang Peterson from Warner Bros., 2 Atlantic DVD-360 storage shelves for your home theater from ShowOff Displays, and the grand prize, a fully-programmable RTI-T2 remote control unit, thanks to contest sponsor Etronixs.com! Whew! The contest will run until Friday, December 1st, so you have plenty of time to get your entries in over the holiday. And given that this is Thanksgiving, the contest might have a little something to do with "turkeys" - you know... the movie kind. So click here to enter and enjoy!

The other thing we have for you today, is a detailed look at Paramount's January DVD release slate. Here's what to expect (including detailed specs):
January 9th

Survivor Season One: The Greatest and Most Outrageous Moments - 16x9 enhanced widescreen, Dolby Digital 2.0 sound (English), cast profiles, island map, voting histories, polling histories, interviews with creator Mark Burnett and host Jeff Probst, English subs, never-before-seen footage including emotional confrontations, voting confessions, intimate conversations and exit interviews

Wonder Boys - 16x9 enhanced widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1 and French 2.0, A Look Between the Pages featurette with cast interviews, interactive Pittsburgh map, singer/songwriter profiles, Bob Dylan Things Have Changed video, trailer, English subs

Kiss Me Guido - 16x9 enhanced widescreen, commentary by writer/director Tony Vitale, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English subs

January 16th

The Untouchables - 16x9 enhanced widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1 and French 2.0, trailer, English subs

Death Wish - 16x9 enhanced widescreen, English and French Dolby Digital mono, trailer, English subs

Juice - 16x9 enhanced widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English subs

The Warriors - 16x9 enhanced widescreen, English and French Dolby Digital mono, trailer, English subs

January 30th

Necessary Roughness - 16x9 enhanced widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1 and French 2.0, English subs

The Longest Yard - 16x9 enhanced widescreen, English and French Dolby Digital mono, English subs

North Dallas Forty - 16x9 enhanced widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English subs

Red Letters - 16x9 enhanced widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English and Spanish subs, commentary with writer/director Bradley Battersby and writer Tom Hughes, trailer, biographies

I'm definitely glad to see Untouchables in that mix, but I wish it had more in the way of features. Paramount really needs to start doing a little more with their discs. I'd like to see at least one good (real) special edition title out of them a month. Anyway, there you go.

Stay tuned...

11/20/00

Everybody have a good weekend? As we head into Thanksgiving week here in the States, there are a whole slew of great DVDs coming into stores. Tomorrow, film fans will be cueing up to buy Gladiator, X-Men, Bridge on the River Kwai and more. It's gonna be an expensive day. But hey - we think watching movies on DVD with family and friends is a pretty darned nice way to spend the holiday. And there's always the Vikings vs. the Cowboys on turkey day. ;-)

We've got three new DVD reviews for you today. Todd's given New Line's The Cell: Platinum Series a spin (street date 12/19), along with Fox's 2-disc Gladiator tie in, Romper Stomper (also starring Russell Crowe - streets tomorrow). And Dan Kelly's got a look at Fox's 2-disc The Sound of Music: Five Star Collection as well.

We've also got early word on MGM's expected February & March DVD slates - you'll find that in today's update of The Rumor Mill. Some good titles are on the way from the Lion. We just hope their Quality Control people have been working overtime. Check the post out, because there's also word on a pair of February Universal titles and Space: 1999 as well.

And in other DVD news, Columbia TriStar has announced the DVD release of Spike Lee's Get on the Bus and School Daze. The 2 discs will street on January 30th, in honor of Black History Month. Both discs will feature audio commentary with Lee and will SRP for $24.95. Now if we could just get She's Gotta Have it on DVD, with those Lee directed Nike commercials in the bonus section. That'd be cool.

Finally, this afternoon, we've got a look at some cool upcoming DVD cover artwork for you: Columbia TriStar's Hollow Man (street date 1/2/01), DreamWorks' Road Trip (12/10), Universal's The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle (1/23) and Paramount's Shaft 2000 (12/12). Enjoy.

Hollow ManRoad Trip

The Adventures of Rocky & BullwinkleShaft 2000

We'll be posting the Trivia Contest very soon, so stay tuned...

11/17/00

There's been a lot of rumors flying around the Net over the last few days regarding Columbia TriStar's upcoming Godzilla 2000 DVD (street date 12/26). Here's the deal, straight from the studio this morning. Columbia TriStar had planned to include both the U.S. domestic and the original Japanese version of the film (with Japanese audio) on the disc, but the licensor (Toho) couldn't provide the necessary elements in time to meet street date. So as it stands, the disc will now include widescreen and full frame versions of the U.S. domestic cut of the film only (with English 5.1 audio), along with an audio commentary track with Michael Schlesinger and about 2 minutes of behind-the-scenes B-roll footage showing the actor in the Godzilla suit being directed on set. This is the definitive word on the disc. Here's a look at the disc's cover, along with a look at Fox's Me, Myself & Irene (street date: 1/23/01).

Godzilla 2000Me, Myself & Irene

Also, members of the Home Theater Forum visited Paramount during their L.A. trip last week and heard that the studio is currently working on Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West for DVD. I've spoken with the studio personally, and I'm very happy to be able to confirm this. This is one of Todd and my favorite all-time westerns, and we've been lobbying hard for it to be released. I can't tell you how thrilled we are that it's coming to DVD. The disc should be out sometime in 2001, along with a number of other Paramount westerns. And by the way, while talking with the studio, I lobbied hard for the original, 20-minute longer version of the film, that's been broadcast on TNT and TBS. "Did you bring a horse for me?" AWESOME!

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

11/16/00

Anyone interested in talking X-Men with director Bryan Singer and creator Stan Lee? Well, that's exactly what we got the opportunity to do last Friday, when we attended a special event at the Fox lot to promote the upcoming DVD release of the film. We've just posted our full report on the day, including lots of pictures, so be sure to check it out. We'll also give you a sneak peek at some of the DVDs Fox has in the works for 2001, in case you missed our Studio Day 2000 report. Enjoy!

Also today, Todd's got a review of Criterion's new music-related title, The Rolling Stones: Gimme Shelter. Greg Suarez has taken a break from playing with his new PlayStation 2 to review Paramount's terrific (but often overlooked) Deterrence. And Brad Pilcher chimes in with a pair of reviews today, as well - DreamWorks' Joseph: King of Dreams and Warner's Pokémon: The Movie 2000. That last title is a dirty job, but someone's gotta do it... ;-)

And finally today, we've been hearing rumors that the animated Lord of the Rings may be on its way to DVD - look in the Rumor Mill for more on that.

Stay tuned...!

11/15/00

There are a lot of you out there who have been waiting a long time to get your hand on Sony's new PlayStation 2. The DVD based game system, which just debuted here in the States last month is in very short supply. But is it worth the wait? Are the early games any good? How does it handle playing DVD-Video discs and music CDs? Our own Greg Suarez had his PS2 reserved in March, and he was one of first in line to get his hands on the system. Greg's put his PS2 through the paces, and you can now read his in depth report here at the Bits. From set-up and game play to CD and DVD-Video handling, Greg gives you a good layman's first look at the Sony PS2. I think you'll be even more eager to get one when you're done reading his review. But with supplies so low... you're probably looking at 1st Qtr 2001 at the earliest.

In other news today, Warner Bros. has just announced their new DVD version of The Exorcist... The Exorcist: The Version You've Never Seen. The disc will street on December 26th for an SRP of $24.98. The new DVD includes a new anamorphic transfer of the longer version of the film, with re-mixed audio in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX. Also on the disc is a new audio commentary featuring director William Friedkin, trailers, TV and radio spots and more. I may never have seen this version before, but this will be the THIRD different Exorcist DVD released by Warner (and we hope the last).

A lot of you have e-mailed me to ask if our CEA DVD Player sales numbers include the DVD-capable PlayStation 2. The answer is no - PS2 and DVD-ROM is NOT included.

And just a quick note - Universal is getting ready to launch their Jurassic Park III live event. As promoted on their recent DVDs, this will be a live chat with the cast and crew on the set of JP3, which is currently in production on the Universal Studios lot in Hollywood, California. All you have to do is buy either Jurassic Park or Jurassic Park: The Lost World and log onto Universal's JP website for all the details. Remember - you'll need a DVD-ROM and Internet access drive to participate.

Stay tuned...!

11/14/00

All right - we've just posted our complete report on our visit to Dave's Video for Studio Day 2000. There's lots of news on upcoming DVD titles for next year, some of which we've covered before. But there's lots of new information as well. 2001 is shaping up to be an even bigger year for DVD than 2000! So enjoy the report.

Also this morning, we've just posted our long-awaited review of New Line's Frequency: Platinum Series DVD. More reviews are on the way.

We've updated our mirror of Jim Taylor's Official DVD FAQ, as well as the sales numbers above. And we've finally gotten an update from CEA on the DVD Player Sales numbers for the complete month of October. For the week ending October 20th, some 156,450 players were shipped to retail here in the States. And in the week ending October 27th, a whopping 768,381 units were shipped. That makes October the second highest month for DVD players yet, with some 1,236,658 units shipped. And that takes the format's grand total here in the U.S. to 11,752,733 players. Anyone doubt that the format will hit 12 million by the end of 2000?

We've got Greg's PlayStation 2 report on the way, so stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 11/13/00 - 4:30 PM PST)

We're still working on our main post, but there's been some announcements today that we figured you'd want to know about. First of all, Columbia TriStar has officially announced their Glory: Special Edition for release on January 30th. The 2-disc set will SRP for $29.95 and will contain anamorphic widescreen and full frame video, English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, French and Portuguese Dolby Surround 2.0 audio, audio and "picture-in-picture" commentary by director Edward Zwick, The Voices of Glory featurette, deleted scenes with optional commentary, a second "original" featurette, trailers, production notes and talent files.

Also announced today by Warner Bros. is something you've all been waiting for - The Oliver Stone Collection. Expected on January 16, this boxed set will contain the new 2-disc Any Given Sunday: Special Edition Director's Cut, the new 2-disc JFK: Special Edition Director's Cut, Heaven and Earth, Natural Born Killers, Universal's Talk Radio and Born on the Fourth of July, Fox's Wall Street, Buena Vista's new 2-disc Nixon, Columbia TriStar's U-Turn, Artisan's new 2-disc The Doors: Special Edition and a special bonus disc featuring the documentary Oliver Stone's America. The set will be available in 2 editions - the 10 movie box (with the movies listed above and the bonus disc for SRP $199.92) or a "Warner only" 6-movie box (with the Warner titles only and the bonus disc for SRP $119.92).

The Any Given Sunday: Special Edition Director's Cut can only be found in the new boxed set, and includes 6 minutes of footage not seen in theaters, the Full Contact: The Making of Any Given Sunday featurette, the LL Cool J Shut em' Down music video, the Jamie Foxx Any Given Sunday and My Name is Willy music videos, two feature-length audio commentaries (one with Stone and one with Jamie Foxx), more than a dozen deleted/extended scenes with optional commentary by Stone, Jamie Foxx's audition tape and screen tests, a gag reel and football outtake montage, a photo and advertising materials gallery, a music-only track and more. The JFK: Special Edition Director's Cut includes a new digital transfer, 17 minutes of new footage not seen in theaters, feature-length audio commentary by Stone, deleted/extended scenes with optional commentary by Stone, an interview with Fletcher Prouty (the ex-government official who inspired Donald Sutherland's character), multimedia essays updating the debate on the Kennedy assassination, biographies and filmographies, trailers, an exclusive second Stone commentary that links from the Internet to the DVD via DVD-ROM, weblinks and DVD-ROM essays on the JFK assassination and Stone's movies. Heaven and Earth will include feature-length audio commentary by Stone and deleted/extended scenes with optional commentary by Stone. Natural Born Killers will include everything that is on the current release, but will also include an exclusive Charlie Rose interview with Oliver Stone. If you're a fan of Stone, this is the kind of thing you live for. And even if you aren't, some of the new material in this set is pretty compelling. All that in one boxed set? Must be a conspiracy.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 11/13/00 - Noon PST)

This is just a quick note to let you all know that we're working on a big update that we'll be posting this evening and tomorrow. We'll be including an update on the goings on at Studio Day 2000, as well as a report on our visit to Fox on Friday morning to attend their X-Men presentation. We've also got a few reviews for you and Greg Suarez's report on the PlayStation 2. So check back tonight and tomorrow for all that. Stay tuned...

11/10/00

Well, we're off to Fox. But to keep you going while we're away, here's Todd Doogan's review of Paramount's cool new Mission: Impossible 2 DVD. How's that for a nice chaser our Gladiator: Signature Series review from last night? Enjoy! And we'll be back this weekend with Greg Suarez's look at the new PlayStation 2, so be sure to check back.

Have a great weekend and stay tuned...! ;-)

(LATE UPDATE - 11/9/00 - 7:30 PM PST)

The wait is over folks! We've just posted our review of DreamWorks' Gladiator: Signature Selection (street date 11/21), and I think you'll be extremely happy with this release. The 2-disc set simply rocks. Speaking of Gladiator, DreamWorks is reporting that the title has set a new initial shipment record here in North America, with some 2.6 million units on the way to retailers.

Also, we have two other reviews for you this evening. I've done a comparison between Fox's original and new DVD versions of The X-Files: Fight the Future (the new disc features dual Dolby Digital and DTS sound and a new anamorphic widescreen transfer - street date 1/23/01). And Brad Pilcher's given Rhino's new DVD release of G.I. Joe: The Movie a spin.

In other news today, Columbia TriStar has officially announced their Dogma: Special Edition DVD for release on January 23rd. The 2-disc release will retail for $29.95 and will include a cast and crew audio commentary track by director Kevin Smith, Ben Affleck, Jason Lee, Jason Mewes, producer Scott Mosier and Vincent Pereira, a technical audio commentary by director Kevin Smith, producer Scott Mosier and View Askew historian Vincent Pereira, the Judge Not: In Defense of Dogma documentary, storyboards from 3 major scenes, 100 minutes of deleted scenes with View Askew crew intros, a weblink to the official View Askew site, cast and crew outtakes, "Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash Spot", "Saints and Sinners" Talent Files, "Follow the Buddy Christ" feature and lots more. This should be a very cool set.

Now then, tomorrow we're going to be attending a special press event for the X-Men DVD at Fox studios, featuring director Bryan Singer and producer Stan Lee. Then, on Saturday, we'll be in attendance at Dave's Video: The Laser Place for their annual Studio Day event. Lots of studio DVD people will be there to answer questions, along with other members of the DVD press and plenty of DVD fans as well (including members of the Home Theater Forum, who have travelled to L.A. to attend from all over the world). It should be a lot of fun and it's open to the public. The event will be held from 10 AM to 1 PM PST. Dave's Video - The Laser Place is located at 12144 Ventura Blvd. in Studio City, CA. We'll feature both events here on the Bits next week. See you at Dave's!

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 11/9/00 - 10:30 AM PST)

Hi everyone. As you may have noticed, The Digital Bits was down for much of the day yesterday due to network problems. Those problems not only meant that the site was offline, but they also prevented us from making posts to the server even when it was back online. Those problems appear to have been resolved this morning and, finally, we can upload to the server again. So we should be back to normal this afternoon, with our "regularly scheduled programming". Gotta love technology. ;-)

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 11/7/00 - 1:30 PM PST)

Could there be another X-Men DVD in 2001? Director Bryan Singer has been quoted in the New York Post as saying that a second version of the film will be released on DVD next year, which will include many more deleted scenes (including two that the director will be allowed to shoot that were never finished) in a longer, seamless branching version of the film. Also included will be a documentary using video taken behind-the-scenes, and a commentary track. These comments confirm information we've heard from our sources unofficially. We understand that the decision to release two versions had to do with the fact that there just wasn't time enough to get a more deluxe version done in time for street date. We'll be visiting with Fox and Singer in person on Friday, so we'll be sure to find out more.

In other Fox news, we've confirmed that the U.S. DVD release of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete First Season has been delayed unti later in 2001. The UK DVD release will go forward as planned in January (the U.S. release had been slated for 1/9/00). The reason for the delay here has to do with the complicated nature of the U.S. domestic syndication rights, in which Warner Bros. is obviously involved. The DVDs will be released eventually, and will hopefully be the better for the delay (perhaps that will give Fox time to negotiate for the rights to include the unaired pilot episode?), but again, not until later in the year. Just FYI.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete First Season

And finally, we have street dates for those six Fox DTS releases. There will be 2 waves of 3 discs each. The first wave will street on 12/26, and will include Courage Under Fire, Predator and The Siege. The second wave will feature The Last of the Mohicans, The Thin Red Line and The X-Files: Fight the Future on 1/23/00. All 6 discs will feature new anamorphic transfers, and dual Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 soundtracks. Speaking of X-Files, we'll have a complete review of The X-Files: The Complete Second Season and the new DTS version of the movie for you tomorrow. And here's a little tidbit for you: look for anamorphic, Dolby Digital/DTS, 5-Star editions of the entire Die Hard Trilogy sometime early in the new year... ;-)

Now then... here are a couple reviews for you of classic Japanese films. Todd's given Criterion's Kwaidan a spin, as well as Image's new DVD release of the Akira Kurosawa classic Dersu Uzala. Don't miss 'em!

We'll be back with more tomorrow, so see you then! And remember... rock the vote, baby!

(EARLY UPDATE - 11/7/00 - 8:30 AM PST)

So did everyone have a good weekend? Sorry we took an extra day. It just so happened that Sarah and I spent our weekend visiting Madison, WI and hanging out on the campus of our alma mater, the University of Wisconsin. Wouldn't you know it? There's a place that specializes in DVD rentals right there on State street, just a block from the university. So you Badgers around campus have no excuse for not diving heavy into DVD. Drop on by State Street DVD and tell 'em Bill from The Digital Bits says hello.

After the nice relaxing (long) weekend, we've got a bunch of stuff coming in the next couple of days for you. We'll have some reviews for you later today and a bunch more tomorrow, including (with a little luck) one you've been waiting for featuring a bad-ass gladiator. Stay tuned for that.

Now then... believe it or not, there are more important things than DVD today (gasp!). Today is, as I'm sure you realize, Election Day here in the States. Living here in America, we all enjoy a lot of pretty amazing freedoms that most of us sadly take for granted. All of the fighting and dying for those freedoms was done by our grandfathers and greatgrandfathers, so we've all had it pretty good - particularly you Gen Xers and Yers out there. As Americans, most of us don't seem to think those freedoms come with any responsibility. But if you don't get out and VOTE, then you don't deserve those freedoms - you haven't earned them and you have no right to sit around complaining about the government and taxes and politicians. So we here at the Bits want to ask everyone out there to put the DVD player in pause mode for a hour or so, log on to the Internet and read up on your local issues (try your favorite local newspaper's website, which should have all the information you need), and get out there and exercise your right to VOTE! This presidential election's gonna be VERY close, and if you don't think your vote will count... you're just not thinking very hard. We don't care who you vote for, just VOTE! Enough said.

And when you've pulled those levers and punched those ballot cards, come on back here and we should have some new reviews for you to read later this afternoon. Stay tuned...

11/3/00

We're working on a couple of things for next week, along with a bunch of new DVD reviews, so today's post is going to be a little light. But I wanted to give you all an early look at the cover artwork for 6 upcoming Fox DVDs. All of them are re-issues of films that were released previously, many with non-anamorphic transfers. These new DVDs will all feature new anamorphic widescreen transfers, along with dual Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks. The street dates are mostly TBD, but look for the titles to arrive in December and January. Here are Last of the Mohicans, Predator, The Siege, The Thin Red Line, Courage Under Fire and The X-Files: Fight the Future.

Last of the Mohicans (DD & DTS)Predator (DD & DTS)The Siege (DD & DTS)

The Thin Red Line (DD & DTS)Courage Under Fire (DD & DTS)The X-Files: Fight the Future (DD & DTS)

In other news, Image Entertainment's got a new update of their DVD News page posted, which includes titles like The Best of the Original Avengers, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Coyote Ugly, The Crow: Salvation, The Kid, Lady and the Tramp 2, Hollow Man, Road Trip, Benny and Joon, In the Heat of the Night, When Harry Met Sally, Mystic Pizza, The Cell, Se7en, The Art of War, Cannonball Run and lots more. Do check it out.

The AP newswire's got a brief story up comparing the Sony PlayStation 2 to Sega's Dreamcast system. And Yahoo's also got a story on how these two game systems are just the start of a new gaming war, with Microsoft's X-Box and Nintendo's GameCube coming in 2001.

Finally today, to promote their Perfect Storm DVD, Warner's launched a "forward this e-mail" campaign, and is donating money to the American Red Cross for each e-mail sent. Click here for more on that, or to participate. Also, in a totally non-DVD related note, the American Red Cross is in desperate need of people to donate blood for use in emergencies. So if you're feeling like you've got an extra pint or two and you're feeling generous... well, you know what to do. ;-)

Now then... have a great weekend and we'll see you back here next week with lots more reviews of great upcoming DVD titles, a new Trivia Contest and a very special feature story. Stay tuned...!


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