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

Site created 12/15/97.




page updated: 2/19/01



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 1/10/01 - 12/4/00)


Back to Previous Archives

Back to Current Posts

1/10/01

We're back from Vegas and the weekend was... well, interesting. This year's Video Software Dealers Association show was probably the most lackluster it's ever been. First of all, you know you're in trouble when the Adult Video News porn convention (which is always held at the same time as VSDA) is 3 times as big and WAY more busy. While the VSDA floor held little of interest, with most major studios opting for private meeting spaces instead of a floor presence, the porn room was an outrageous mix of adult stars, nakedness and various surly shenanigans. Naturally, that's where everyone wanted to be. And naturally, almost everything that was going on there isn't the kind of thing we can talk about here. But suffice it to say that most VSDA attendees did a quick tour of the more upstanding, Hollywood studio displays, then did a quick hustle over to watch mostly-naked women performing all kinds of simulated acts. The whole thing was really something of a joke.

There were also very few really good upcoming title announcements made at the show, other than Columbia TriStar's revealing that their 2-disc Lawrence of Arabia: Limited Edition will street on April 3rd (SRP $39.95). And Universal made it known that April 24th will see a 2-disc The Mummy: Ultimate Edition ($29.98 SRP). We do have some additional upcoming title information, but most of the good stuff we've already talked about in The Rumor Mill last week.

Also, with the Consumer Electronics Show on at the same time, most everyone opted to spend time there instead - including a lot of the video industry press. DVD-Audio seemed to be the talk of the town (at least that's what the industry wants you to talk about). But is it really ready for prime time? We'll take a closer look at that in our report. And several companies are finally bringing DVD-R to market in the States in 2001, but again, is it ready? Or perhaps the better question to ask is - Are consumers ready for either DVD-Audio and DVD-R?

One of the side effects of having VSDA, CES and AVN going on all at the same time, was that it was virtually impossible to get around town and see everything we wanted to see. Still, we did make an effort to check out the things we figured you'd all be interested in as best we could. So we'll begin filing our report on the weekend's events, probably tonight. I think we've got a few interesting things to show you and talk about, and we've got some artwork for upcoming titles too. You'll also get to see if things went to hell in a handbasket when Todd and I met in person for the first time. Don't want to miss that, do you?

Bits Editors Bill Hunt and Todd Doogan
L to R: Digital Bits editors Bill Hunt and Todd Doogan at VSDA

So stay tuned and we'll be back with more soon...

1/6/01

Okay... we just HAD to squeeze in one more Rumor Mill update to hold you until we get back from VSDA. We've got a slew of last minute, official DVD announcements from Image, Artisan, Buena Vista, Paramount, Troma and others - some good titles mentioned. We've also gotten wind of a couple of big Disney animated DVDs slated for late 2001. And we've got details on Artisan's upcoming Frank Herbert's Dune (as well as a look at the cover art). Don't miss it!

Now then... we'll see you back here on Tuesday afternoon. Have a great weekend! Go Vikes!

1/5/01

Well... we're off to CES and VSDA! Saturday morning I'm gonna get up, watch my Minnesota Vikings stomp the New Orleans Saints in the playoffs (hopefully) and then hop on a plane to Las Vegas. Todd gets in from Atlanta that evening, and we'll meet for the first time in person, despite having worked together here on the Bits for almost 3 years! So if we don't come back next week, you can safely assume that Todd and I clashed like matter and anti-matter, decided we hate each other's guts and are calling it quits. Kidding. We'll be back Tuesday and we'll make at least a small post that evening, followed by our full report on the show beginning on Wednesday.

In the meantime, we know that's a long time to wait, so we've packed today's update as full as we could. First up, we've got reviews of 4 new DVD titles. Todd's got reviews of both the 1974 and 2000 versions of Gone in 60 Seconds (DVDs by Navarre and Buena Vista, respectively) and Dan's checked in with a look at Artisan's new The Way of the Gun and Paramount's The Virgin Suicides.

Mmmm... but that's not all. We've also updated the Rumor Mill with information on MGM's expected DVD slate for May. Anyone care to spin The Magnificent Seven and more Stargate SG-1 episodes in their DVD players? And while we're on the subject of MGM, here's what to expect in terms of extras from their April titles:

Rocky: Special Edition (anamorphic widescreen, English DD 5.1, French & Spanish DD mono, 33-min video commentary with Sylvester Stallone, "behind-the-scenes" featurette with interviews and "never-before-seen" footage, tributes to Burgess Meredith and James Crabe, audio commentary with director John Avildsen, the producer and cast members, trailer, original advertising materials and more, SRP $24.98, street date 4/24), Rocky Gift Set (all 5 films for $89.98 - Rocky II-V will only be available in this set, street date 4/24), How I Won the War (letterboxed widescreen, English & Spanish DD mono, trailer, $19.98, 4/10), Boxing Helena (letterboxed widescreen, English DD 2.0, trailer, $19.98, 4/10), Tank Girl (anamorphic widescreen, English & French DD 5.1, Spanish DD 2.0, trailer, $19.98, 4/10), The Adjuster (anamorphic widescreen, English DD 2.0, trailer, $19.98, 4/10), Live Flesh (anamorphic widescreen, Spanish DD 5.1 with English subs, trailer, $19.98, 4/10), King of Hearts (letterboxed widescreen, English, French & German DD mono, trailer, $19.98, 4/10), Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (anamorphic widescreen, English, French & Spanish DD mono, trailer, $19.98, 4/10), Fellini's Satyricon (anamorphic widescreen, English & Italian DD mono, trailer, $19.98, 4/10), Fellini's Roma (letterboxed widescreen, French & Italian DD mono with English subs, trailer, $19.98. 4/10)

MGM has also announced the DVD release of Hendrix (full frame, English DD 2.0, $24.98, 3/27) and The Fantasticks: Special Edition (anamorphic widescreen, audio commentary by director Michael Ritchie, 30 minutes of deleted footage including deleted & extended songs and an alternate ending, English DD 5.1, French & Spanish DD 2.0, trailer, $24.98, 2/27). You may also be happy to learn that MGM will include English subtitles on all future DVD releases (something they've omitted on occasion recently).

Finally today, we've updated our Upcoming DVD Artwork section yet again, this time with cover art from MGM's April slate (all the titles listed above are included), as well as Artisan's Requiem for a Dream and your very first look at Fox's Cleopatra: 5-Star Edition 3-disc set, which is expected (unofficially) on April 3rd. Here's an even closer look...

Cleopatra: 5-Star Edition (3-disc set)

Now then... are we happy campers yet? ;-)

We'll see you all when we get back from Vegas. So until then, have a great weekend and stay tuned...!

1/4/01

We've got three new DVD reviews for you today - Greg Suarez has given all 4 discs of HBO's The Sopranos: The Complete First Season a spin. If you haven't picked up this set yet, let me tell you personally - you have no idea what you're missing. Sarah and I had seen a few second season episodes on HBO and liked the show a lot, so when we got this boxed set, we started watching them right away. We ultimately burned through the set's 13 episodes in less than a week, and we were bummed to finish them. We're totally hooked. Absolutely don't miss this set.

Brad Pilcher also has something for you John Woo/Hong Kong action fans - reviews of Anchor Bay's new A Better Tomorrow I & II DVDs, which feature the films in anamorphic widescreen.

Also today, we've added 10 more cover scans to the Upcoming DVD Artwork section: Paramount's Alfie, Terms of Endearment, The Evening Star, Mother, Real Life and Star Trek: The Original Series, Volumes 19 & 20, as well as Criterion's Double Suicide, I Know Where I'm Going and Fiend Without a Face. Be sure to check 'em out.

We'll be back with more reviews tomorrow, so stay tuned...!

(LATE UPDATE - 1/3/01 - Noon PST)

Hey... what can we say? We're not making this stuff up! We've got even more upcoming title information in the Rumor Mill this afternoon, with details on Charlie's Angels and A Passage to India, and that's not all. We'll be back with the contest soon...

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/3/01 - 2 AM PST)

We're starting early again today with lots more DVD news and artwork. First of all, we've got another Rumor Mill update with word on tentative street dates for a slew of upcoming Fox DVDs (like Cleopatra, Die Hard and X-Files: The Complete Third Season), as well as other great titles (like Speed Racer, Madadayo and Quadrophenia). And don't forget that we posted two Rumor Mill updates yesterday as well. There's a lot in there to check out, so don't miss it!

Also today, we've updated the Upcoming DVD Artwork section yet again, to add some 30 more DVD covers, including the final Clerks: Uncensored cover, Being There, A Walk in the Clouds, Speed Racer: The Movie, Mo' Better Blues, Bless the Child, Cherry 2000, The Little Vampire, Remember the Titans, Omega Man and more.

Around the Net today, Variety (via Yahoo) has a story on how many Academy members are requesting their Oscar screeners on DVD these days. According to Oscar consultant Judi Schwam, last year some 300 screener requests were for DVDs. This year, that number has shot up to almost 2,400. Just another sign of the times. And Bruce Kirkland of the Toronto Sun has another DVD story up at Canoe.com, this time on DVD special editions. It's definitely worth a quick read.

And finally this morning, we've learned of a cool new DVD release that we hadn't even been aware of until just recently. Carl Sagan's complete, 13-episode PBS series Cosmos has been released on DVD (SRP $169.95), as a 7-disc DVD boxed set. It features updated footage and information, is all-region compatible and boasts remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. 10% of the proceeds of the sale of these DVDs will be donated to the Carl Sagan Foundation. Now... we haven't seen these discs (which were produced by "Cosmos Studios"), so we can't vouch for their video & audio quality. But the show was awesome, and on DVD, it can only be even better. You can click here to order the disc from the Carl Sagan.com website (you'll find more information on the discs there as well). Here's a look at the set's cover art...

Cosmos 7-disc DVD boxed set

I'll refrain from the "Billions and billions" jokes. ;-)

We'll be back later this morning to kick off our new Trivia Contest. Stay tuned...!

(LATE UPDATE - 1/2/01 - 3:30 PM PST)

We've contacted Columbia TriStar and gotten the official from the studio on their Dogma: Special Edition DVD. Numerous readers e-mailed us this morning with word that Amazon.com was informing customers (who preordered the disc) that the title has been delayed. The studio HAS confirmed to us that there is a delay. The DVD was finished, however "issues beyond the studio's control" may result in changes to the 2-disc set's content. This delay is temporary only, and the studio will contact us as soon as they have an update. They hope the problem will be resolved this week, and we'll let you know when a new street date is determined.

Now then, we've got another Rumor Mill update today, to give you the early word on more upcoming DVDs from Warner Bros. for early 2001. Among those we've got listed are The World According to Garp, Being There and Get Carter (2000). We also have word on a possible delay for Paramount's Ordinary People, so don't miss it.

And finally, we've just updated our Upcoming DVD Artwork section with 13 more great DVD covers, including many of the Warner titles you'll find listed in the Rumor Mill. And we've moved the Wonder Boys and Dogma: SE discs into the TBA category to reflect their now uncertain street dates.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/2/01 - Midnight PST)

Welcome to the New Year (and the real new millennium for you math geeks)! This is a quick early post to let you all know that there have been a couple of more DVD announcements for the 1st Qtr of 2001. Look for Columbia TriStar's The 6th Day, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, on March 13. The video will be rental-priced, but the DVD will be sell-through for an SRP of $27.96. Also, USA Entertainment has set February 27th as the street date for their Nurse Betty, starring Renee Zellweger, Greg Kinnear, Morgan Freeman and Chris Rock. And the hit British TV series Absolutely Fabulous will arrive on DVD from Warner on March 13th. The series' 18 episodes will be available on 3 discs (with 6 episodes each, photo galleries and outtakes) for $29.98 each. There will also be a boxed set of all 3 discs (plus a 4th bonus disc) for $99.98.

And while we're at it, how about we take a look at some other titles that are currently in production for DVD - you'll find that in today's update of The Rumor Mill. Citizen Kane anyone?

We'll be back with more later. Stay tuned...

12/29/00

Boy... we're keeping some weird holiday hours, aren't we? This update is late in the day, but again, I think you'll really enjoy it. Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to speak with Hollow Man director Paul Verhoeven. Those of you who know his work know that the man is not without controversy. His films, which include Starship Troopers, Robocop and Showgirls to name a few, definitely provoke strong reactions - and not always favorable ones - from critics and audiences. Here at the Bits, we dig Starship Troopers and Robocop (we won't talk about Showgirls, although I know Todd has a definite jones on for the flick). But I have to tell you, Verhoeven's a fascinating man to talk with and I really enjoyed our discussion. I think you will too. So check out our transcript and see for yourself... ;-)

Now then... it's true (if not yet official) - The Godfather Trilogy is on the DVD release slate over at Paramount for late 2001. How do we know? Well... those hard working types up at Canoe recently spoke with staffers at Coppola's American Zoetrope DVD Center, who let it be known that they're currently working to restore the classic film trilogy for DVD release in the fall of next year. Also on tap is a newly-restored, special edition of Apocalypse Now, with more than an hour of deleted footage added back in. Look for a theatrical rerelease to precede the disc. Thanks to all the readers who send this in, and to the author of the article, John McKay, for a good read. Can't wait!

All right... we're officially done for 2000! We'll be back in the New Year (that's Tuesday - and we mean it this time!) with lots more great DVD coverage. We've got TONS of reviews on the way, as well as another great director interview to kick 2001 off right. We'll get our next Trivia Contest going next week as well. And then, before you know it, we'll be off to the Consumer Electronics Show and the Video Software Dealer's Association convention, both of which are being held at the same time in Vegas during the first weekend in January. As if that weren't enough, Todd Doogan and yours truly (who have been working together on this site for more than two years now) will meet in person at the show for the first time - EVER. See? We're definitely keeping it interesting for ya here at the old Bits, baby! Then, maybe in February, Todd and I will jump the Snake River Canyon on a tricycle, while juggling flaming knives blindfolded! And then...

From all of us to all of you, a very happy and safe New Year. See ya!

12/28/00

We're back! Sorry we were gone a couple of days longer than expected, but we've spent the last two days working on something that you're gonna love - a MASSIVE update of the Upcoming DVD Cover Artwork section. And not JUST an update, but a complete revamping of the whole area. You'll now find titles sorted by street date, and the cover art is now much larger than before. We've got cover artwork for Thunderbirds 1 & 2, Farscape 1 & 2, Legend, Space Cowboys, Almost Famous, all the Hitchcock titles, Survivor, TONS of MGM titles, Battlefield Earth, Dogma: Special Edition, Cecil B. Demented, Glory: Special Edition, Battle Beyond the Stars, Space: 1999 1 & 2, Rated X, Dr. T and the Women, Michael Jordan: To the MAX, the Porky's and Revenge of the Nerds double feature discs, Highlander: Endgame, Clerks Uncensored and LOTS more. Don't miss it!

Speaking of Highlander: Endgame, we've gotten word that the 2-disc set, which streets on February 20th, will include the original theatrical cut of the film AND a new director's cut. You'll also get director's audio commentary, deleted footage, behind-the-scenes featurettes, Easter eggs, an interactive game, DVD-ROM content and more. SRP is $29.99. Should be cool if you're a fan.

Also today, we've got word that DreamWorks has announced some more great upcoming titles. Almost Famous is slated for March 13th, Meet the Parents is expected on March 6th and The Contender is due on February 27th. And Artisan Entertainment has announced the DVD release of Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows, also for March 13th.

One last note - A&E's Thunderbirds - Sets 1 & 2 are expected on February 27th. Each set will include 2 discs (4 volumes), with 3 episodes each (the first 12 episodes in all) as follows:

Volume 1 - Trapped in the Sky, Pit of Peril, City of Fire

Volume 2 - Sunprobe, The Uninvited, The Mighty Atom

Volume 3 - Vault of Death, Operation: Crash Dive, Move and You're Dead

Volume 4 - Martian Invasion, Brink of Disaster, The Perils of Penelope

More volumes will follow in early 2001 (ultimately, the whole series will be released on DVD). And look for UFO and Captain Scarlet to follow later in the year.

Now then... we'll be back tomorrow with reviews and more, so stay tuned!

12/23/00

As promised, we've got some great holiday DVD reviews for you to help get you in the spirit of the season - Brad Pilcher's look at The Santa Clause, Dan Kelly's take on National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and Greg Suarez's 2 cents on Miracle on 34th Street and Scrooged. And don't forget, we've got lots of other holiday titles already in the review index, including the classic It's a Wonderful Life and more.

We've also announced the winners of our Trivia Contest today, so be sure to check that out. Our next contest will start right after the holiday and we're giving away a DVD player among other great prizes, so be sure to stay tuned for that.

Now then... we'll be back on Tuesday with more DVD news and reviews. So from all of us here at The Digital Bits, Happy Holidays to you and yours!

12/22/00

This is just a quick update to let you all know that our last post before Christmas will be tomorrow. In the spirit of the season, we'll have a number of holiday-themed reviews for you to check out. We've also today updated the AFI Top 100 Film on DVD list to reflect the official announcement of Universal's Rear Window and Warner's Ben Hur. And when we get back from the holiday, we'll have more on the Warner TV on DVD situation and a couple of fun special feature stories as well.

One funny thing to note from around the Net - be sure to visit Star Wars.com for a very funny animated holiday card. It's definitely work a look. ;-)

Now then... for all of you who are travelling today to be with family and friends, may you have a safe and hassle free journey and a wonderful time wherever you're headed. Happy Holidays from all of us at The Digital Bits!

(LATE UPDATE - 12/21/00 - 11:30 AM PST)

As promised, we're back with another review of another great DVD. This time around, it's Todd Doogan's take on Miramax's terrific Princess Mononoke. You remember - the film that was supposed to be out on disc months ago, without the original Japanese language track, and which (after fans protested) Miramax delayed in order to include said track. Well, you've really got to give the studio credit, because not only did they include the original Japanese audio, the video quality of this film on DVD is nothing short of breathtaking. If you haven't seen it yet, you're doing yourself a major disservice by not buying or renting the disc and checking it out. And before you think you're going to have to watch a film with subtitles, be aware that the English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio features some serious Hollywood vocal talent, including the likes of Gillian Anderson, Minnie Driver, Billy Crudup, Claire Danes, Jada Pinkett Smith and Billy Bob Thornton. Don't miss it.

Looks like Gladiator is well on its way this awards season - this morning the film picked up no less than 5 Golden Globe nominations. It was nominated for Best Motion Picture - Drama, along with Billy Elliot, Erin Brockovich, Sunshine, Traffic and The Wonder Boys. Click here to see the full list of nominees.

Now then... I wanted to talk a little bit about Warner Bros. this morning, and the studio's stance towards releasing TV product on DVD. Ever since Warner took over for Rhino in releasing South Park on DVD, I've been hearing from upset fans. For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, Rhino made a practice of releasing South Park episodes on DVD in sequence, starting with the first episode of the series and working in order through all the episodes. But when Warner took over the Comedy Central license, the first thing they did was to release a pair of compilation or "best of" DVDs, selecting episodes with a Christmas or Chef theme and releasing them on two discs. This really outraged fans. Would Warner go back to releasing the episodes as Rhino did, or would they screw up what Rhino had started (and done right in the minds of fans)? Then, more recently, Warner announced plans to begin releasing episodes of the smash TV hit Friends on DVD. And, once again, fans were outraged to learn that what they were going to get was a pair of "best of" discs. It's particularly irritating, given that in Region 2, almost the ENTIRE series of Friends has been released on DVD, in season by season boxed sets (click here to see for yourself). To make matters worse, South Park is also being released season by season on DVD in R2 (click here). Literally dozens of our readers have purchased all-region "hacked" players just to import these discs.

We at the Bits share our readers frustration at Warner's handling of their TV product. Some studios have figured out the proper way to do TV on DVD. HBO has been very diligent about releasing its Sex and the City and The Sopranos a season at a time, and no studio has done more to promote this idea than Fox, which continues to release The X-Files in season by season boxed sets (which are selling very well, I might add). In fact, Fox likes the idea so much, that they're prepping The Simpsons, the original M.A.S.H. and Buffy the Vampire Slayer to be released on DVD in the same way, and will likely continue on with such shows as Millennium and others in the future. A&E is going so far as to release more offbeat TV shows on DVD, whole runs of episodes at a time, including Monty Python's Flying Circus, The Avengers, The Prisoner, Space: 1999 and the Thunderbirds. Even MGM is getting into the act - we've got reliable word that the studio has plans to release more first season episodes of Stargate: SG1 on DVD in May (4 more discs in all, in addition to the one already available - virtually the entire first season of the show). There will also be a gift set of all 5 discs.

Look... we really love Warner's Best of Friends 2-disc set (our review is forthcoming). The episodes look and sound great and the extras (including unaired footage) are nifty. But what is Warner's reluctance to do more with TV on the format? What will become of Friends, South Park, Babylon 5, Scooby Doo and all those Looney Tunes classic shorts? Remember... those fantastic Golden Age of Looney Tunes laserdisc collections were released by MGM... not Warner. So are we forever doomed to releases like The Road Runner's Greatest Escapes?

I spoke with the studio this morning about this issue, in an effort to try to understand Warner's position on releasing TV properties on DVD. Their feeling seems to be that they're really in a position of testing the waters with TV product on disc right now. They know there's an interest in it, but just how much? It's definitely fair to say that what the studio does next with its TV product will be greatly influenced by how the current "best of" discs sell. The studio assured me that more TV product is definitely coming on DVD. The question is, will it be more "best of" releases or the complete seasons of shows we know fans really want. We can only hope Warner figures out what many other studios already have: if fans are interested enough in a TV show to want it on DVD, odds are they don't just want a few "best of" discs - they want the whole series. As for all of us here at The Digital Bits, we think "best of" compilations are better left to VHS. It's time for Warner to start giving its fans what they want, and they can start by releasing Friends: The Complete First Season and picking up where Rhino left off with South Park. That's just our two cents...

We're still working on the Upcoming DVD Artwork section, so stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 12/21/00 - 1:30 AM PST)

I thought I'd sneak an early update by you this morning. We've just posted a review of all three versions of the animated classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas that have been released on DVD, thanks to our own Brad Pilcher. Nothing like a little Grinch to get you in the holiday spirit. Speaking of which, you might want to check out the new live-action, Jim Carrey version of the story, now in theaters. Bring the kids and you'll have plenty of fun - there's actually one or two really good laughs in there.

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

12/20/00

We're working on a big update (and reformatting) of the Upcoming DVD Artwork section today, but there's just so much new art that it's taking a LOT longer than we expected it would. With any luck, it will be up by tomorrow. I think you'll really enjoy what we have to show you - some great upcoming DVD covers.

In the meantime, we've gotten word that A&E will be releasing a pair of 2-disc sets of episodes of the British TV classic Thunderbirds. The sets should arrive on February 27th, for an SRP of $39.95 each. We'll post details as soon as we get them.

There have been rumors lately, started by the latest issue of the European version of The Official Star Trek Magazine, that Paramount's Star Trek: The Motion Picture - Special Edition would be released here in the States in January (appropriately on 1/7/01 - a date Trekkies will no doubt get the significance of). Unfortunately, it was just a rumor, and not an accurate one at that. We spoke with the studio this morning, and the DVD is still not slated to arrive until mid-2001. You can put your phasers away until then.

FYI, we've also heard back officially from MGM on their upcoming Terminator: Special Edition. The title's release date has NOT been moved up. It's still slated to be a 3rd or 4th Qtr 2001 DVD release here in the States. And until the studio announces the final spec list for the disc, I'd take the list of details you're seeing for the early 2001 Region 4 disc with a grain of salt. We don't doubt that they're accurate for R4, and the U.S. disc may very well include those extras (or similar). But the Region 1 release may also include material not made available on the R4 release, due to licensing issues. Anyway, I know that people were starting to get excited about it, given the published R4 cover artwork. But it's probably a bit too early to start thinking about it here in the States...

In other (sort of) DVD news, there's a story over at WorldNet Daily that the reason some of you here in the States may not be getting your PlayStation 2 game system this Christmas, is that Saddam Hussein's men are buying as many as they can here and then shipping them to Iraq. The reason? Well... given the system's powerful CPU and graphics processing capabilities, it seems the consoles can be networked into a crude supercomputer (of sorts) for military applications. This is kind of funny if true. Apparently, U.S. investigators believe as many as 4,000 PS2s have been shipped to Iraq. The crafty bastard. Bet he kept one to play Madden 2001...

Finally this afternoon, IFILM.com's got an interesting story up on the dozen most wanted DVDs, and why they're not on disc yet. It's actually been up for a while, so you might have seen it already. But if you haven't, check it out and you'll learn exactly why Universal's Back to the Future DVDs were delayed (we hear they ought to be Summer 2K1 releases, if not sooner). Can you say, Eric Stoltz?

We've got a couple of reviews for you for tomorrow and, hopefully, the Upcoming DVD Artwork section will be done. By the way... what do you think of our new holiday logo? Stay tuned... ;-)

12/19/00

All right... today we've got that special feature we mentioned yesterday about Showtime's upcoming Rated X DVD. The film stars real-life brothers Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez as Artie and Jim Mitchell, a pair of would be filmmakers who revolutionized the porn industry in the 1970s by proving that you could make serious money doing it. In fact, their biggest film, Behind the Green Door, has made many tens of millions since it was first released in 1971 - back when porn on home video had yet to appear on the scene. Rated X was also directed by Estevez. The DVD streets on February 6th, and we recently had the chance to chat with Charlie and Emilio as they were preparing to record a commentary track for the disc. I think you'll enjoy what they have to say. So check out Putting the "X" on DVD.

In other news, Warner has officially announced their DVD release of Ben Hur on March 13th. The disc will SRP for $24.98. The film was shot in MGM Camera 65, which is the widest film aspect ratio ever used theatrically at 2.76:1. The DVD will include the original, restored widescreen version of the film, enhanced for anamorphic displays. The disc will also include newly remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound, a new audio commentary track with Charlton Heston, newly-discovered screen tests of the final and near final cast, including Leslie Nielson, Cesare Danova and Haya Harareet, the addition of the seldom-heard Overture and Entr'acte music, the behind-the-scenes documentary, Ben-Hur: The Making of an Epic, the original theatrical trailer and an on-the-set photo gallery featuring Wyler, producer Sam Zimbalist, cameraman Robert Surtees and others. This should truly be a fantastic DVD release. Can't wait!

And in other news, there's an effort to create a single, MultiPlay standard for disc-recorded music on CD and DVD, and CD and DVD-ROM as well. The idea is to end compatibility issues where, for example, you burn a disc on your DVD-R drive, but you can't play it on your car stereo. It sounds like a good idea, but it isn't without its critics. We'll have to wait and see what happens with it.

Finally today, there's been a lot of rumors around the Net lately about MGM's Terminator: Special Edition. It seems there's word that the disc will be released in Australia (Region 4) in March. The website Dark Horizons even has cover artwork up of the R4 disc. Keep in mind that release dates often differ between regions. Everything we've heard officially about this disc from MGM indicates a 3rd or 4th Qtr 2001 release here in the States (Region 1). Nevertheless, we've got a call into the studio to see if there's been a change of plans.

Stay tuned...

12/18/00

Yep... it's that time of year again. The snow is falling... the cold wind blows... the holidays are almost here... and the Minnesota Vikings begin their inevitable crumble from serious Superbowl contention. Hey... I still have hope. So what does that have to do with DVD? Absolutely nothing. Just had to get it off my chest. ;-)

We do have a cool new review for you today. Todd's taken a look at Columbia TriStar's forthcoming Godzilla 2000 DVD, which streets on 12/26. Finally... a Godzilla film that's worth watching! Don't miss it.

In other news, Hollywood's been dealt a setback in their anti-DeCSS piracy case in California. It seems that the state's Supreme Court has issued an order that could see many of the defendants dropped from case (ultimately as many as 18, because they do not reside in California). Click here for more on that via Yahoo.

Also today, Artisan Entertainment has revealed March 20th as the official street date for their Frank Herbert's Dune: Special Edition. The 2-disc release is expected to include the complete mini-series along with a host of behind-the-scenes material (although there's no word as to whether it will be anamorphic widescreen, or if the extras will be the same was those that were released on DVD with the behind-the-scenes book).

And another image has leaked from Paramount's upcoming Star Trek: The Motion Picture - Special Edition DVD (which is slated for mid-2001). The new image, which was posted to IGN's Film Force website, shows the changes made to the scene with Spock on surface of Vulcan. VERY cool. The disc should be well worth the wait.

And finally this afternoon, Image Entertainment has once again updated their DVD News page to include details on more upcoming titles. Among those listed are Anchor Bay's C.H.U.D. and Manhunter: SE, Columbia TriStar's Dr. T and the Women: SE and Urban Legend: The Final Cut, Fox's Demetrius and the Gladiators, the classic 12 Angry Men (and the rest of the March DVD slate from MGM), Paramount's The Original Kings of Comedy, Showtime's Rated X and Universal's Meet the Parents.

Speaking of Rated X, we recently had the chance to speak with Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen about their film, which chronicles the lives of 70s porn kings the Mitchell Brothers. We'll have the text of that conversation for you tomorrow. And don't forget that our big Holiday Trivia Contest will start soon - in the meantime, be sure to enter the current contest for a chance to win DVD copies of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman.

Stay tuned...

12/14/00

We're very pleased to present you with another of our special features today - Greg Suarez's recent interview with Exorcist director William Friedkin. Greg gets Friedkin to talk about his films, his new version of The Exorcist and his feelings about DVD as well. And Friedkin even reveals his next major (and soon to be released) DVD special edition. We think you'll really enjoy the interview, so don't miss it.

Naturally, to go along with the interview, we've just updated our review of The Exorcist to include all three DVD versions - the original 1997 release, the 25th Anniversary Special Edition and the new Version You've Never Seen. Enjoy!

Finally, around the site today, we've updated our authorized mirror copy of Jim Taylor's Official DVD FAQ to the most current version.

Stay tuned...!

(LATE UPDATE - 12/13/00 - 3:15 PM PST)

All right - we've just posted two new reviews. First up is Todd's take on Warner's new The Art of War, starring Wesley Snipes. The disc streets on December 26th. And Greg's buried himself in Disneyana to give you his in-depth look at Disney's massively elaborate and exhaustively amazing Fantasia Anthology 3-disc set, which includes the Fantasia: 60th Anniversary Edition and Fantasia 2000, as well as a disc of bonus material called Fantasia Legacy. There is something like 16 hours of content on the third disc alone. Heck - it'll probably take you an hour just to read the review! This is definitely not a set to miss.

In more DVD news today, Columbia TriStar has announced their In the Line of Fire: Special Edition for February 27th. The disc will feature new audio commentary with director Wolfgang Petersen, deleted scenes, the documentary The Ultimate Sacrifice, the Showtime special Behind the Scenes with the Secret Service, 2 featurettes (How'd They Do That? and Catching the Counterfeiters), TV spots, theatrical trailers, talent files and production notes. SRP will be $29.95.

Also this afternoon, I thought I'd give you a look at the details for ADV's first Farscape DVD, which streets on February 3, 2001 (SRP $24.98). The disc will feature the episodes Premiere and I, E.T, with footage never seen by American audiences due to Sci-Fi Channel commercial limitations. Included is an actor profile on Ben Browder (Crichton), 5.1 and 2.0 Dolby Digital audio tracks, web links and an exclusive Making of a Space Opera featurette. Better still, Browder joins series creator Rockne S. O'Bannon and executive producer Brian Henson for a commentary track on the episode Premiere, while I, E.T. features audio commentary by Claudia Black (Aeryn Sun) and Anthony Simcoe (D'Argo). The second Farscape disc is expected on March 20th, and will include the episodes Exodus from Genesis and Throne for a Loss. Features are TBD.

One last note this afternoon - we've FINALLY gotten a hold of the CEA DVD Player Sales numbers for the complete month of November - 866,507 players were shipped to retailers in Region 1. That pushes the format-to-date total over the 13 million mark here in the States. And given that the first week of December saw 510,272 units shipped, we could peak 14 million before the year is done. Whew! All charts have been updated accordingly (and we'll try to keep them that way). ;-)

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 12/13/00 - 8 AM PST)

We've got a good update of the Rumor Mill for you this morning, with word on MGM's expected April DVD slate, as well as info on Close Encounters and more. If you're a fan of Stallone or Woody Allen, you don't want to miss it...

We're almost ready to post that interview we mentioned yesterday afternoon, and more reviews, so do check back later today. In the meantime, we've got something interesting for you Kevin Smith fans. If you chance on by Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash, you'll find a very unusual DVD boxed set. Why is it unusual? Well... 'cause you're gonna pay $35 for just a box - no DVDs. But the box is pretty sweet, because it's all done up in metallic silver, and it's designed to fit the three "Jersey Trilogy" movies on DVD (Clerks, Mallrats and Chasing Amy). Hey... if you're a SERIOUS fan, why the hell not? Here's a look at the "raw art". Enjoy.

Image Entertainment's updated their DVD News page again, with details on a ton of upcoming titles (among them Space: 1999, Smilla's Sense of Snow and Battlefield Earth). Also, click here for more great titles you might have missed while we were down (like Ordinary People, Terms of Endearment and all those Hitchcock titles). And click here for a listing of Image-exclusive titles for February (including Lilith Fair: A Celebration of Women in Music and the classic Things to Come).

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

12/12/00

All right... all the bugs are worked out, so let the uploads begin. First up, we've got a pair of new DVD reviews for you, of a pair of really great films. Todd's got a look at DreamWorks' Chicken Run and Dan Kelly's chimed in with his take on the latest David Lynch film from Buena Vista, The Straight Story. Both are absolutely not to be missed, and I really liked The Straight Story in particular. It's a big little film, as they say.

In other news, Columbia TriStar has announced a special edition version of Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove. The disc will street on February 27th, and will include The Art of Stanley Kubrick: From Short Films to Strangelove featurette, the Inside the Making of Dr. Strangelove documentary, an original split-screen interview with Peter Sellers and George C. Scott, a gallery of the film's original advertising artwork and more. Shoot - a feller could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas will all that stuff! SRP is $29.95. This is great news for Kubrick fans. Hopefully, 2001 will see Warner revisit some of it's Kubrick titles as special editions as well.

Columbia TriStar will also release Minnie Driver's Beautiful on February 20th, with anamorphic widescreen video and a $25.95 SRP.

ADV Films will debut their second disc of Farscape episodes to DVD on March 20th. It will include the episodes Exodus from Genesis and Throne for a Loss. We've also been able to confirm that March is the expected release timeframe for Artisan's Frank Herbert's Dune: Special Edition. Details should follow soon.

We'll post more later this afternoon or early this evening, including two more reviews and that interview we mentioned yesterday. Stay tuned...!

12/11/00

We're back! We spent our weekend doing a lot of behind-the-scenes testing and tweaking here at the Bits, and the site seems to be fully back to normal now. In fact, it actually seems to be running a little faster than usual - go figure.

Anyway, we're making a few changes and doing a little updating around the site - you may have noticed the new Upcoming DVD Art button on the navbar on the top left side of the page. We're going to be updating, overhauling and expanding that popular area of the site this week, and the new button will give you more direct access to it. It replaces The Editors Speak, which is a section that had sort of fallen by the wayside anyway. You can still access that section (and the older editorials it contains) from the FAQ & Archive page.

Now then... we'll be posting our regular update in just a few hours, which will include new reviews and a special feature interview as well. So thanks for your patience and stay tuned...!

12/8/00

Okay, how ironic does this seem to you. It's December 7th... and our servers crash? Hhmmmm.... Yes indeed, the Internet backbone of our ISP took the opportunity yesterday to crash resoundingly, knocking us off the Net along with our friends over at the Home Theater Forum. Things seems to have settled down now and we're at least back online. We're going to try to get the post we had planned for yesterday up this afternoon, but we're still having a hard time uploading to the server. So if it isn't up until this weekend, you'll know why. Hey - if NASA can crash a multi-million dollar Mars probe, I suppose we oughta be able to take a dive now and again, right?

So give us a few hours to get back up to speed, and we'll have a post up for you soon. In the meantime, here's something we thought was pretty funny. So what do you do after you retire as President of the Russian Republic? Well... if you're Boris Yeltsin, you catch up on all those great DVDs you missed. It seems old Boris is a sucker for Celine Dion, Sting and George Michael concerts on disc. You can read more here. We'd like to think he's checked out the Bits over a good stiff shot of Stolichnaya, but sadly (according to the article), "...grandson Boris once tried to help Yeltsin log on to the Internet, but the screen bothered his eyes too much." Ah well. Do you suppose he orders his DVDs online? Can you imagine former KGB agents browsing the racks at Best Buy for him? "Da - Britney Spears! Boss vill like dat one." Keep spinning those discs, Boris!

Stay tuned... ;-)

12/6/00

We've been doing a little digging over at Universal, and we've confirmed that the only way to get the 2nd, 3rd and 4th volumes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents episodes is in the three upcoming DVD boxed sets. As with the first volume, there are no plans at this time to offer them separately. That means if you're a Hitchcock fan who wants them, and you've already purchased the Universal Hitch films already available on DVD... you're screwed. The studio's gonna make you buy them all over again just to get the TV episodes. This, I'm sure, was the brilliant idea of some studio marketing type, but you can be sure that it will NOT sit well with fans. Universal can be so inconsistent with their DVD product. Every now and then you'll get a great Collector's Edition from them, and then the rest of their titles are cookie-cutter. We wish they'd just figure out a game plan on how to do this format right... and stick with it. Anyone else feel the same?

Just FYI... we're doing some year-end site maintenance work, which we should finish today. We'll be back tomorrow with our usual mix of news and reviews. Stay tuned...

12/4/00

Well Hitchcock fans, looks like you're gonna be happy campers come March 2K1 - Universal is releasing several new Hitch films on DVD, as well as 3 new DVD boxed sets. On March 6th, you'll get Shadow of a Doubt, Rope, Rear Window: Collector's Edition, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Family Plot, Topaz, Saboteur, The Trouble with Harry, Torn Curtin, Frenzy and Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Volumes 2-4. SRP for each is $29.99. Here's a look at what the 3 new boxed sets will contain:

The Best of Hitchcock #1 will include 8 titles - Shadow of a Doubt, Rope, Rear Window: Collector's Edition, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Psycho: Collector's Edition, Topaz, Family Plot and Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Volume 2, containing the TV series episodes Revenge, Breakdown, Wet Saturday and Mr. Blanchard's Secret. SRP is $174.98. Street date: March 6th.

The Best of Hitchcock #2 includes 7 titles - Saboteur, The Trouble with Harry, Vertigo: Collector's Edition, The Birds: Collector's Edition, Marnie, Torn Curtain, Frenzy and Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Volume 3, containing the TV series episodes Poison, The Perfect Crime, A Dip in the Pool and One More Mile to Go. SRP is $174.98. Street date: March 6th.

The Hitchcock Collection #2 includes 3 titles - Rear Window: Collector's Edition, The Man Who Knew Too Much and Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Volume 4, containing the TV series episodes Arthur, The Crystal Trench, The Horseplayer, Mrs. Bixby and the Colonel's Coat and Bang! You're Dead. SRP is $64.98. Street date: March 6th.

Damn - that's a lotta Hitch! While we're at it, I've got new upcoming DVD cover artwork for you for the Rear Window: Collection's Edition, as well as those three Coffin Joe titles I mentioned last week (street date April 3rd). Enjoy...

Rear Window: Collector's EditionCoffin Joe: At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul

Coffin Joe: Awakening of the BeastCoffin Joe: This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse

How that for a strange batch? Now then... in keeping with the theme of March Madness (and I don't mean the basketball variety), MGM is set to release The Greatest Story Ever Told on DVD on March 6th. The disc will feature an anamorphic widescreen presentation of the film, restored to its original theatrical roadshow version (from the film's original re-timed negative, restored at a cost of $400,000). The disc will also include English Dolby Digital 5.1 (and French surround) audio, along with two documentaries and special behind-the-scenes footage, all for an SRP of $26.98. Now... I know MGM's had a bunch of quality problems with a few of their recent DVDs. But you've really gotta give them credit for trying. We're betting they'll hit their stride big time in 2001. Keep your fingers crossed.

Anyone else out there enjoying Sci-Fi's Dune miniseries as much as I am? The effects aren't quite feature film quality, and the whole thing has a bit of a theatrical feel to it. But I'm still enjoying it immensely. For those who care, parts 2 & 3 air several times each tonight and Tuesday night, and the whole mini-series will be rebroadcast in its entirety on December 10th. Plus... I'm now DEFINITELY looking forward to that DVD version from Artisan in March (note that the VHS version will street 1/23/01). And one last note - if you like what you see, I really recommend the book The Secrets of Frank Herbert's Dune (which I mentioned the other day), if only for the 80-minute DVD that comes with it. The disc includes tons of behind-the-scenes interviews and several galleries of production photographs (covering effects, casting, costumes, effects, production design and more). You can view each piece separately, or you can watch them back to back (it plays like an 80-minute documentary). It's pretty well done - I suspect this disc will make a perfect companion to the film on DVD when it's released. And given the book's $19.95 SRP, that's a steal. Do check it out.

One last note this morning... there's a newswire story up on that Gladiator event from last week (via Hollywood Reporter).

That's all for now. Stay tuned...


More Archived Posts

Back to Current Posts


E-mail the Bits!


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