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page updated: 9/4/01



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 7/24/01 - 6/28/01)


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7/24/01

Sorry about the Trivia Contest delay! I discovered yesterday afternoon that the other thing I brought back from Comic-Con was a major head cold, which pretty well knocked me out. Today's post is going to be pretty light so that I might recover... but hey - the Trivia Contest is now up! Two lucky winners will each take home a brand new Dogma: Special Edition DVD, signed by director Kevin Smith. And it's a pretty easy contest this month, so be sure to get your entries in.

We've gotten word from our friends at the Home Theater Forum that their live chat with 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment's Peter Staddon has been postponed until Tuesday, July 31st. So please take note.

Speaking of 20th Century Fox, we've got word that The X-Files: The Complete Fourth Season will arrive on DVD on November 13th (SRP $149.98). All 24 episodes from the series' fourth season will be included in the 7-disc set, along with an all new 20-minute documentary entitled The Truth About Season Four, as well as exclusive bonus interviews, "behind the truth" segments, TONS of deleted scenes, special effects footage, TV spots, audio commentary on at least 2 episodes, DVD-ROM games and other cool special features. Season Four features some great episodes, including Tunguska, Terma, Momento Mori, Tempus Fugit, Max and Gethsemane. Here's a look at the DVD cover artwork...

The X-Files: The Complete Fourth Season

The X-Files: The Complete Fourth Season

Stay tuned...

7/23/01

Well... we're back from the show. And if I do say so myself, the DVD producers panel was a big success. Alita Holly, J.M. Kenny, Charles de Lauzirika, Van Ling, David Prior and Mark Rance were all in attendance, as were studio representatives from 20th Century Fox and MGM (Laurent Bouzereau was unable to make it at the last minute). We literally had a packed house - nearly 2,000 people in all to see the panel - and there were numerous industry types in evidence in addition to DVD and comic fans. We talked about some of the responsibilities and difficulties of a producer, what some of our panelists believe makes a good DVD special edition, and gave people a sneak peek at a bunch of titles that they're currently in production on. Best of all, we previewed 3 actual upcoming discs for the audience - Hannibal, Willy Wonka and the new Terminator: SE. Our 90 minutes were cut a little short, so we were a bit rushed at times. But all of us on the panel were pretty happy with the result. And judging by the number of people that came up to us after the panel (and throughout the weekend) to say how much they enjoyed it, the event was a big success. We also gave away a big box full of DVD special editions and box sets that our friends at 20th Century Fox brought along. And one lucky fan took home a brand new DVD player as well, thanks to DVD Planet. It's gonna take us a day or two to get the transcript completed and prepare all the images and DVD screen shots to post here, so please be patient. But by the end of the week, you'll be able to enjoy the same basic presentation that show goers did.

Meanwhile, it was a lot of fun walking around the massive show floor, meeting fans and colleagues alike, and attending some of the other panels (including the hilarious Mr. Show, which REALLY needs to be released on DVD... hear that HBO?). A number of our group also took in Steve Sansweet's Star Wars Connections presentation. It started off pretty slow, and we were shown several video clips that have been available on starwars.com for weeks. We were starting to wonder if we were going to see anything new at all. Then... Sansweet debuted a new video, which ran for a good 5 minutes or more, called Star Wars Connections. It looked at each major character in the saga, and started literally making the backstory connections that are going to become more clear in Episode II. Things like Amidala's character strengths and flaws (and how they affect her relationship with Anakin), Anakin and Obi-Wan's friendship (and how something will eventually go horribly wrong between them). We even got a taste of Jango and Boba Fett. There was lots of new interview and behind-the-scenes footage no one had ever seen before. It ended with Samuel L. Jackson talking about how this next movie is going to be darker and much better than Episode I. So we're thinking, "Okay... very cool." Then Sansweet had one last clip to show... a video cut to the celebration music at the end of Episode I. It was filled with NOTHING BUT behind-the-scenes footage from the filming of the new movie - glimpses of DOZENS of Jedi fighting with sabers, Jimmy Smits as Bail Organa, Anakin and Obi-Wan dueling unseen enemies with sabers, Amidala with a blaster, Owen and Beru Lars, Jango Fett, many new aliens - just TONS of cool stuff. You know... I'm one of the few people who actually managed to mostly enjoy Episode I (evidence: my laserdisc review). But I was a little concerned about what George Lucas would do next. Here, however, was evidence of what we'd hoped all along - that the next two films are going to be much darker, more ominous and definitely action packed. A couple of us went into this presentation as doubters, but are now VERY much looking forward to the 2002 debut of Star Wars: Episode II. Hopefully, the rest of you will soon be able to see this footage at the official site. The presentation also gave me the chance to meet several Lucasfilm staffers in person, including Jim Ward, which was a pleasure.

Finally, I attended a presentation on the upcoming Star Trek: The Motion Picture Director's Cut, with director Robert Wise. We saw glimpses of some of the new special effects shots. There are some 90 altered shots in all, 20% of which are completely new shots, while the rest are simply digitally cleaned and recomposited shots. The new Dolby Digital 5.1 mix includes many newlt added sound effects, but nearly all of them were originally created for the movie and were unused due to lack of time. Expect the 2-disc set to be officially announced in the next couple of weeks (for an expected November 6th street date).

Okay... enough for now. We'll be back with a new Trivia Contest later this afternoon. Stay tuned...

7/20/01

We're off to Comic-Con and DVD Producers 2001! After the panel, we'll be roaming around the show all weekend. But we'll be back on Monday with a brand new Trivia Contest (anyone wanna win a new Dogma: SE signed by Kevin Smith?). And sometime early next week, we'll post a complete transcript of the panel.

In the meantime, we've just posted an update to the Upcoming DVD Cover Artwork section, which features some 30 new cover scans, including much of Paramount's September slate. Enjoy.

Have a great weekend, and maybe we'll see you at the convention!

7/19/01

Well... you know what they say: No one expects a Spanish Inquisition. And anyone who got that reference will want to head on over to The Rumor Mill today for some very Monty DVD news of a completely Python nature. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge...

In other news, don't forget that tomorrow is our DVD Producers 2001 panel at Comic-Con in San Diego. If you're in the area and attending the convention, be sure to drop on by Room 6CDEF at 11 AM for all the fun. Click here for all the details. And don't forget that we'll be posting a complete transcript of the event here at the Bits next week, for those who are unable to attend.

Here's a look at Artisan's funky custom DVD packaging for their upcoming Total Recall and Basic Instinct special editions. Interesting...

Basic Instinct "Ice Cube" package

Total Recall "Mars" package

And finally this morning, we've just posted another new DVD review from our own Todd Doogan - a look at New Line's 15 Minutes: Infinifilm Edition. Enjoy!

Stay tuned...

7/18/01

Yep... it's true. Warner Home Video has just officially announced the DVD release of the David Lean classic Doctor Zhivago for November 6th! The 2-disc set (you heard right!) will feature over 6 hours worth of content, including a new video introduction by star Omar Sharif, a brand new, feature-length audio commentary by Sharif, Rod Steiger & Sandra Lean and the behind-the-scenes documentary Doctor Zhivago: The Making of a Russian Epic. The set will also include a new digital, anamorphic widescreen transfer of the film from restored elements, newly remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, 10 vintage documentaries profiling the production and its stars, a music-only audio track highlighting Maurice Jarre's Oscar and Grammy-winning score, vintage audio sound bites of cast/director interviews and the December 1965 New York premiere, cast and director career highlights and the film's theatrical trailer. The SRP for the DVD is $29.99. Damn... the second half of 2001 is gonna be a VERY expensive time for DVD fans! All those taking second jobs to afford the DVDs you're planning to buy, raise your hands...

Warner's Doctor Zhivago DVD

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 7/17/01 - 4 PM PDT)

Multiple sources are now reporting November 6th as the street date for DreamWorks' Shrek DVD. No word yet officially from the studio. Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 7/17/01 - 2 PM PDT)

We've just learned that Warner Home Video plans to release the entire, multi-part documentary series, The World at War, on DVD on November 6th (SRP $119.98). We've also learned that the studio's upcoming The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit animated DVDs will each feature full frame video (I'm not sure about Hobbit, but I believe LOTR's original aspect ratio was 1.85:1?), along with audio and subtitles in English, French and Spanish.

In other news, those of you who enjoyed When Dinosaurs Roamed America this weekend on The Discovery Channel will be happy to learn that it's coming to DVD from Artisan on August 7th. SRP will be $19.98. The documentary was shot in High Definition 24p, with audio mixed in full Dolby Digital 5.1 (no word on whether the DVD will be anamorphic widescreen). Extras will include two behind-the-scenes shorts, dinosaur facts, a dinosaur quiz and a photo gallery.

We've also got details for you on Fox's upcoming Phantom of the Paradise. The DVD will street on September 4th, for an SRP of $19.98. Extras will include a theatrical trailer, audio in English and French and Spanish subtitles. Here's a look at the cover art for that, along with Warner's The World at War, Volume 1:

Phantom of the ParadiseThe World at War, Volume 1

Stay tuned...

7/16/01

You know those scenes in the movies where someone is driving on the freeway and suddenly their brakes go out and they can't stop? Well... my wife and I were unlucky enough to play out that scene for real on Friday morning. No kidding. We were able to use the emergency brake to get off the freeway, but then couldn't stop for traffic lights and got into an accident. Everyone was pretty shaken up, and our car is a mess. Thus, no post on Friday. I'm not a superstitious guy, but the realization (after the fact) that it was Friday the 13th was a little troublesome. Anyway, it's all turning out okay, but it's keeping me pretty busy today, so my post if going to be brief.

First of all, look for Paramount to announce Tales from the Darkside: The Movie for DVD release on September 25th, possibly as early as today. The disc will feature anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, a new audio commentary by writer George Romero and director John Harrison, and a theatrical trailer. I was lucky enough to be on hand for the recording of the commentary, and we'll be posting a special feature on it very soon.

That same day, Paramount will release the classic When Worlds Collide, Friday the 13th: A New Beginning, Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, Along Came a Spider and Pet Sematary II. And on September 18th, the studio will bow Star Trek: The Original Series, Volumes 33 & 34, Let it Ride and Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles, along with Crocodile Dundee and Crocodile Dundee II. That's a nice batch for one month, and there are some titles a lot of people have been waiting for.

You should also be aware that Disney's Spy Kids is set for September 18th release on DVD, and Bridget Jones's Diary will follow on October 9th. And Fox's The X-Files: The Complete Fourth Season box set is expected to arrive on DVD on November 13th, for an SRP of $112.48.

Here's a look at the cover art for Spy Kids - enjoy!

Spy Kids

Back tomorrow. Stay tuned!

7/12/01

A couple things today. First of all, we've just posted Todd's look at all three titles in 20th Century Fox's new Die Hard: The Ultimate Collection, including the Die Hard: Five Star Collection and the special editions of the other two films in the series, dual-disc releases all. I've gotta say, I'm very impressed with Fox's Five Star Collection so far.

One thing I particularly liked on the new Die Hard disc, is something that may get overlooked. It's a brief video piece on Disc Two with producer David Prior, in which he explains why presenting a widescreen film on DVD in letterbox (and anamorphic) is invariably better than the alternative - the dreaded pan and scan. Using an actual example from the film, David shows you exactly what's lost when you manipulate the widescreen image to completely fill the 4x3 TV frame, and (more importantly, I think) how doing so compromises the director's original vision of the film. Given that DVD is catching on fast with mainstream consumers, and given all the complaints the studios are reportedly hearing from those consumers about letterboxing, I think EVERY DVD ought to have a feature like this, which explains the subject in easy-to-understand terms. The reason people complain about letterboxing is because they just don't understand it. They see black bars and think they're missing picture, when nothing could be further from the truth. And the studios continue to foster that belief by not making a better effort to explain it. So how about it studios? Up to the challenge?

Finally today, we've gotten word that Total Movie magazine is returning to life after a brief hiatus. Here's an excerpt from the press release:

"Versatile Media One, the publisher of InsideDVD, is proud to announce the relaunch of Total Movie magazine. Led by Mike Stokes, former Editorial Director of Cinescape and Wicked magazines, the new and improved TM2--Total Movie & Entertainment--will hit newsstands September 11th with its Oct./Nov. premiere issue."

And yes... each new issue will continue to feature an exclusive DVD full of trailers and other content. Good news for fans.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 7/11/01 - 4:30 PM PDT)

I just wanted to jump in here quickly to let you all know that our friends at The Force.net have made the Episode I DVD trailer available online. It was released on DVD as part of a give-away with the latest issue of the French DVD magazine Les Années Laser - it's where all those cool DVD screen shots have been coming from. The downloadable video clip runs about 3 minutes and 10 seconds, and if you're excited about the DVD release, it's well worth a look.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 7/11/01 - 11:30 AM PDT)

We've just updated the Rumor Mill with some very interesting details on upcoming titles from Warner and Fox. I think you'll be very interested in what's there - some very big titles - so don't miss it.

We also have a pair of new DVD reviews for you this morning - MGM's The Fall of the House of Usher and Columbia Music Video's Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band: Blood Brothers.

Around the Net today, it seems that the DVD capability of Sony's PlayStation 2 game console is considered a threat to national security. The U.S. and Japan have reportedly asked Sony to halt plans to manufacture the game console in China, due to fears that its DVD capability could be converted to military use. This seems a little odd however. More likely the reports are getting this wrong. It's more likely the graphics chips that are valuable for military applications. Still it's an interesting story.

Amazon.de is reporting an August 21st release date for The Final Countdown in Region 2. I don't believe that Pacific Family Entertainment owns worldwide release rights, so this is probably a separate company doing the DVD work for R2. Still, the late August date would seem to be in line with PFE's "couple of months" time scale for finishing their DVD.

We've been reporting since the last Studio Day event that Columbia TriStar was working on a 1776: Special Edition. Now NY Post gossip columnist Liz Smith's getting on the bandwagon. Check out her latest column for more.

Also today, Yahoo's got a good story up (from Forbes) on Recordable DVD from Panasonic. Check it out.

Finally, this morning, we figured you might enjoy a look at the DVD tin covers for Disney's upcoming Walt Disney Treasures Collection 2-disc DVDs, which street on December 4th. Mickey Mouse in Living Color will include some 26 original Mickey Mouse color cartoons. Disneyland U.S.A. will feature 4 vintage TV specials on the park. Silly Symphonies will include all of the original early animated shorts. And Davy Crockett will include all 5 episodes of the original Disney TV series. Each set will SRP for $32.99, and there will be many more to come.

Walt Disney Treasures: Micky Mouse in Living ColorWalt Disney Treasures: Davy Crockett

Walt Disney Treasures: Silly SymphoniesWalt Disney Treasures: Disneyland U.S.A.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 7/10/01 - 1:15 PM PDT)

Just a quick note - I've spoken briefly with the folks at Pacific Family Entertainment this afternoon, which owns the home video release rights for The Final Countdown. The DVD is currently in production, and should be ready "in a couple of months". They've promised to let me know when they've got something ready to look at. At the moment, however, there are no details as to specific disc specs. Just FYI.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 7/10/01 - Noon PDT)

We've just posted a trio of new DVD reviews for you to read this morning. Included are Fox's Point Break, Buena Vista's Dracula 2000 and MGM's horror classic The Pit and the Pendulum. We'll have more new reviews tomorrow.

Around the Bits, the CEA DVD Player Sales numbers have been updated to reflect the 398,940 units that were shipped to retailers here in Region 1 in the last week of June (ending 6/29). That makes the monthly total a whopping 920,839 players and it boosts the format total to date to over 18 million units.

Also, we've updated the AFI Top 100 Films on DVD list to reflect The French Connection's newly announced status. 76 of the top 100 films have been released here in Region 1, with another 16 announced or believed to be in production.

Around the Net, there's a good story up at Yahoo (via Reuters) on the upcoming film Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (which hits theaters tomorrow here in the U.S.). The story is notable, because it mentions the eventual DVD release, which: "will include features in which players can manipulate some scenes taken from the film." I have it on good authority from sources at Columbia TriStar that a 2-disc special edition of the film is already in production.

Daily Variety Editor-in-Chief Peter Bart also has a good editorial up on the situation in Hollywood following the recent successful agreements between Writers' and Actors' Guilds and the studios. There's also a mention of DVD's place in things. Which is basically that the studios have a "rigid formula for protecting 80% of revenues from video and DVD".

And finally this morning, do you hate this trend of rising movie theater ticket prices as much as we do? Well... an online consumer group is trying to send the big theater chains a message this Friday the 13th. The group, WeCanDoThis.com, is spreading the message via e-mail and its online website (ironically, not "wecandothis.com"). They're asking consumers to not see a movie Friday in order to protest the high (and rising) price of tickets, calling the effort the National Ticket Picket. Says spokesman Mark Jonathan Davis, "Hey, we [consumers] control our entertainment dollars, and we don't want to spend $10 at the boxoffice."

Here at The Digital Bits, we're tired of shelling out $15 for a single ticket and a medium stale popcorn... and then having to sit through 5 minutes of commercials before you even get to the previews. And since these big megaplexes usually only have one projectionist on call, what do you suppose happens if the projector goes out of focus of there's some other problem? You've got to go complain to the manager to get it fixed, missing part of the film. Just don't get me started on this. Anyway, we think this campaign is a great idea, and the staff here at the Bits is joining in, boycotting going to a film this Friday. Besides... like we said, Final Fantasy opens tomorrow (Wednesday). ;-)

Stay tuned...

(LATER UPDATE - 7/9/01 - 7 PM PDT)

The Force.net has posted screen shots from the Episode I DVD commercial, which reveal the titles of the 7 deleted scenes that will be included on Disc Two of the upcoming set. For what it's worth, they are as follows:

Complete Pod Race Grid Sequence
Extended Pod Race Lap Two
The Waterfall Sequence
The Air Taxi Sequence
Dawn Before the Race
Anakin's Scuffle with Greedo
Farewell to Jira

I'm sure we'll be hearing more about them in the coming months.

(LATE UPDATE - 7/9/01 - 2:30 PM PDT)

We've just posted a pair of new DVD reviews - Greg's look at Fox's Dude, Where's My Car? and Dan's take on Paramount's You Can Count on Me.

Fox has released details on their The French Connection: 5-Star Edition 2-disc set, which is set to street on September 25th. A 2-pack of The French Connection and The French Connection 2 will also street the same day (the latter film will initially only be available in the 2-pack). The French Connection: 5-Star Edition 2-disc set will SRP for $26.98. The film mastering is THX-approved, and is presented in all-new, director-supervised, 5.1 English Digital Surround sound and anamorphic widescreen video. Disc One features audio commentary by director William Friedkin and stars Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider, as well as the theatrical trailer. Disc Two includes the Fox Movie Channel original program Making the Connection: Untold Stories of the French Connection, the BBC documentary Poughkeepsie Shuffle, seven deleted scenes, a deleted scenes documentary hosted by William Friedkin, a behind-the-scenes still gallery, a trailer for The French Connection in English and Portuguese, and a trailer for The French Connection 2. The French Connection 2 (only available in the 2-pack of both films for an SRP of $39.98) is also THX-approved, and features anamorphic widescreen video. It includes two audio commentary tracks (one by director John Frankenheimer and star Gene Hackman, and another by producer Robert Rosen), a gallery with wardrobe photos and storyboards, a behind-the-scenes photo gallery and the theatrical trailer in English, Spanish and Portuguese. Here's a look at the cover art for the first film:

The French Connection: 5-Star Edition (2 discs)

Speaking of cover art, we've updated our Upcoming DVD Artwork section with some 13 new cover scans, including The Best of Benny Hill, Def-Con 4, Hellbound: Hellraiser 2, Halloween: Extended Edition, The Blob (1988), The Hobbit (animated), The Lord of the Rings (animated), Just Visiting, The Mummy Returns: Collector's Edition, the final Dumbo: 60th Anniversary Edition art, MacArthur, the Midway: Collector's Edition and of course, The French Connection: 5-Star Edition. Also, keep in mind that clicking on each cover takes you to the pre-order page for that particular DVD at our software partner, DVD Planet. And they're just reinstated their 30% off on all pre-ordered titles policy, so you'll get a great price too. Be sure to check them out.

In other news today, Artisan Entertainment has just announced their Basic Instinct: Special Limited Edition for September 18th. Here are some highlights from the press release:

"On September 18, 2001, Artisan Home Entertainment is proud to present the Basic Instinct Special Limited Edition DVD in a collectible clear-colored "ice" package with an "ice-pick" pen inside containing real red ink that is available for a limited time only, and available to consumers in two versions - an unrated Director's Cut and the released R-rated version. The Director's Cut features an unrated version of the film that includes more explicit scenes of the erotic suspense thriller that the director was forced to cut, plus a commentary from director Paul Verhoeven and director of photography Jan De Bont. Both special edition DVD versions also include a documentary on the making of the film, a montage titled, "Cleaning up Basic Instinct" that details the cutting of the theatrical release for television viewers, a commentary with noted feminist critic Camille Paglia and storyboards. The Basic Instinct Special Limited Edition DVD (SRP $26.98) will be released on September 18, 2001.

Other Basic Instinct Special Limited Edition DVD highlights on both versions include a photo gallery, interactive menus, production notes, scene access, cast and crew bios, and the original theatrical trailer. The DVD also features 2.35 letterbox format, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and Dolby Stereo 2.0, English, French and Spanish subtitles."


Of course, no word on anamorphic widescreen. We'll try to find out for you.

And finally today, as many of you know, in addition to my work as the Editor of the Bits, I'm also the Inside DVD Contributing Editor for Widescreen Review magazine. And so I wanted to let you all know that WSR is holding a special seminar on acoustics, for you hardcore home theater buffs, at their new Temecula, CA facility on Tuesday, July 24th. Renowned acoustic scientist Dr. Peter D'Antonio will discuss the "The Causes and Cures for Acoustical Distortion in Home Theatres". Space is limited and there is a fee for attending. Click here for the complete details on the event. If you do attend, you'll get to check out WSR's new "holosonic home theater lab" in person, which is easily one of the best home theater systems on the planet. 'Nuff said.

Stay tuned...!

(EARLY UPDATE - 7/9/01 - 11 AM PDT)

We'll be back in a little bit with a larger post, but I just wanted to jump in here quickly and give you all a look at the cover artwork for Universal's upcoming MacArthur and Midway: Collector's Edition, which street on October 30th. I'm attempting to determine if Midway will be anamorphic widescreen or the same letterbox-only transfer Image has released previously.

MacArthurMidway: Collector's Edition

I'm also working to determine if Artisan's new Total Recall: Special Edition is a new anamorphic transfer. Trade ads for the title seem to indicate that it is, but at least one studio source says no. We'll let you know...

Back soon!

(LATE UPDATE - 7/6/01 - 4 PM PDT)

We've just posted an early, first-look review of Vincent Pereira's A Better Place: Special Edition, which will be released by Synapse on July 24th. Todd's given it a spin and thinks it's definitely worth a look, especially for Askewniverse denizens.

Have a great weekend!

(EARLY UPDATE - 7/6/01 - 9:30 AM PDT)

Well... it's Friday. So what better day to make that announcement we told you about yesterday. We've been working for a few weeks now to pull together a very special DVD event, and we're pleased to say it's finally come together such that we can announce it officially. Here's the deal - I'll be moderating a 90-minute, DVD producers panel discussion at Comic-Con in San Diego, on Friday, July 20th. Seven top producers will be on hand to talk about their work, and to give you exclusive sneak peeks at a number of major upcoming DVDs. This is defenitely going to be a lot of fun, so if you can come down, you don't want to miss it. And if you're unable to attend, don't worry - we'll post a full transcript of the panel here at the Bits following the show. So click here for complete details on the DVD Producers 2001 event!

So there's the big announcement. Now then... we've just gotten the most complete details we've seen yet for the Episode I DVD. Much of this text matches what's listed on the back of the DVD's cover artwork. Here goes:

2 DISC SET SRP $29.98-(2 Versions)
English/French -Star Wars: Episode 1- The Phantom Menace DVD English/Spanish -Star Wars: Episode 1- The Phantom Menace DVD
DVD Contents DISC ONE:

-Commentary by George Lucas, Rick McCallum, Ben Burtt, Rob Coleman, John Knoll, Dennis Muren and Scott Squires

-Anamorphic Widescreen (Aspect Ratio 2.35:1)

-Sound: English Dolby 5.1 Surround EX English Dolby 2.0 Surround Spanish Dolby 2.0 Surround (French Dolby 2.0 on Canadian version)

-Subtitle: English

DISC TWO:

·Exclusive Deleted Scenes Documentary features seven new sequences completed just for this DVD release

-All-new hour-long documentary film culled from over 600 hours of footage, "The Beginning," takes you where few people have been before-inside Lucasfilm and ILM during the production of Episode I

-Multi-angle storyboard to animatic to film segment featuring the Submarine and Podrace Lap 1 sequences

-Five Featurettes explore The Phantom Menace's storyline, design, costumes, visual effects and fight sequences

-Award-winning twelve-part web documentary series that chronicles the production of Episode I

-"Duel of the Fates" music video featuring John Williams

-Never-before-seen Production Photo Gallery with special caption feature

-Theatrical posters and print campaign from around the world

-Theatrical teaser and launch trailers, and seven TV spots

-"Star Wars: Starfighter-The Making of a Game" featurette from LucasArts

-DVD-ROM weblink to exclusive Star Wars content


Don't forget, we've also got pretty good info that the disc will feature an Episode II preview as well. And we'll post more details on the deleted scenes as they come in.

Now.... two last things this morning. First of all, we've confirmed that Fox will release their The French Connection: 5-Star Edition on September 25th. Details on the release will follow, but that's definitely confirmed. Also, SURPRISE... Warner has revealed that they plan to release the animated version of The Hobbit on September 11th, the same day that they release The Lord of the Rings! We thought you'd enjoy a look at the cover art for the release, along with art for Buena Vista's Just Visiting (which streets the same day):

The Hobbit (animated)Just Visiting

Note that Disney's Spy Kids will be released on September 19th, and Bridget Jones's Diary is also soon to be announced (street date TBD).

We'll be back later this afternoon with those reviews. Stay tuned...

7/5/01

This afternoon, we're very pleased to present to you an interview with DVD producer J.M. Kenny, who was responsible for many of the special edition materials you'll find on Warner's upcoming Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: 30th Anniversary Edition DVD (street date August 28th). J.M. talks about the challenges of gathering interviews with the film's director, actor Gene Wilder and other creative people involved in the making of the film. He also describes the effort to travel to New York to record a special audio commentary track with all five of the child stars of the film. I think you'll find it well worth a read, especially if you're a fan of the film.

Also today, we've announced the 10 winners of the Trivia Contest, so be sure to check that out. More than 1,000 people entered, so thanks all around to those who participated. And the next contest will be very cool - anyone wanna win a Dogma: SE DVD signed by Kevin Smith? Well, we've got 2 of 'em to give away... so keep checking back.

Many of you will be thrilled to learn that Artisan has just announced their Total Recall: Special Limited Edition DVD, which will street on September 18th (SRP $26.98). Here's some details from the press release:

"This collectible, limited edition DVD is presented in a round, metal "Mars" DVD case, designed to look like the "Red" planet complete with a bumpy surface featuring "the face" of Mars. The tin rests on top of square bottom packaging that fits easily on display merchandisers. The digitally re-mastered Total Recall Special Limited Edition DVD also features the "Imagine Total Recall" documentary that takes you behind-the-scenes with the film's stars, including a new rare Arnold Schwarzenegger interview, and special effects wizards. It also includes a special feature called "Rekall's Virtual Vacation" that is a selection of mini visual vacations and relaxing images and the "Visions of Mars" featurette. The DVD is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound."

A couple of last things - we've got 3 or 4 cool DVD reviews that we'll post for tomorrow, including a couple of very cool surprises.

I also wanted to let you know that I've contacted Pacific Family Entertainment about the status of their Final Countdown DVD, so I'll let you know the story as soon as they get back to me. I know a LOT of you are interested in that title, judging by the number of e-mails I've been getting about it!

Many of you have been asking if there's a number you can call to get the Alex Ross illustration card that's missing from a number of the Unbreakable: Vista Series DVDs here in the U.S. and Canada. BVHE Customer Relations WILL replace it for you free of charge if you call them at 1-800-477-2811. In Canada, you can call 1-888-877-2843.

Also, Amazon.com is reporting a September 25th street date for Fox's The French Connection: 5-Star Edition. We'll try to find out if that's real or bogus.

Finally, we'll be making a special announcement tomorrow, about a very cool live DVD event that we're putting together, which will take place later this month here on the West Coast. This thing's gonna be a lot of fun, for those who are able to attend. And we'll be covering it here at the Bits as well, for the rest of you. So be sure to check back for the big news... ;-)

See you tomorrow, same Bat time, same Bat channel!

7/4/01

Okay... I know I said there would be no update today, but we just couldn't resist this. We've just gotten our hands on the DVD cover artwork for Universal's The Mummy Returns: Collector's Edition (street date 10/2, SRP $26.98) and Warner's animated The Lord of the Rings (9/11, $19.98). I know some of you have been waiting a long time for that last one especially, so here you go...

The Mummy Returns: Collector's EditionThe Lord of the Rings (animated)

How long do you suppose it will be until Universal announces The Mummy Returns: Ultimate Edition? You just know one's probably coming in 2002...

Anyway, have a great holiday!

7/3/01

In honor of Sunday's Kevin Smith signing, we've got a review of the new Dogma: Special Edition DVD for you today. If you're a fan of the film, this new 2-disc set is definitely a must-have for the 100 minutes of deleted scenes alone. Do check it out.

Speaking of the signing, I got an e-mail from Linda Lukas of Dave's Video this afternoon, and she wanted me to let you all know how much they appreciated everyone who came down and how polite everyone was, despite the fact that discs ran out, the line was long and it was hotter-than-you-know-what outside. Here's Linda with more:

"...we estimate there were 1,000-1,500 people through the store yesterday. And on the hot day it was, everyone kept their cool. Everyone seemed to understand that yesterday was a day that was a record breaker. And when we ran out of product, everyone was cool about it. I want to thank all the customers for their outstanding behavior and understanding. They all were just awesome."

So kudos to all of you who were there and played nice. Oh, heck... kudos to all of you! It's just that kind of day, you know?

Around the site, we've updated the CEA DVD Player Sales numbers to include the 125,249 units that shipped to retailers in Region 1 in during the week ending June 22nd. That makes the grand total for the format to date nearly 18 million players. All charts have been updated accordingly.

Don't forget that tomorrow is your last chance to enter the Trivia Contest and win some great Fox DVDs. You've got until 7 PM PDT tomorrow night.

And that's all for now. For those of you here in the States, have a great Fourth of July holiday! We'll be dark tomorrow, but we're already hard at work on Thursday's post, which will feature a special interview about a very fun upcoming DVD title, along with several new disc reviews and more. See you then!

7/2/01

Well... a LOT of people made it to the Kevin Smith signing at Dave's Video yesterday. It was a lot of fun meeting some of you, and Kevin was cool as always. We managed to take a bunch of pictures of the event, for those of you who couldn't be there. Be sure to check 'em out!

The Hollywood Reporter is saying that actors and the studios are close to signing a new three-year, film and TV deal. Apparently however, the actors were "unable to achieve any changes in the video/DVD residual payout, under which companies exclude 80% of revenues as manufacturing costs, and no language promising the companies will take steps to stop runaway production." Runaway DVD production... as a bad thing? Interesting.

There's also a story up, via Daily Variety, about the recently announced DVD release of Citizen Kane. Fox's upcoming Willow DVD is mentioned in the text of the article as well.

More soon...!

6/29/01

How's about an early update for a change, eh? We've got a bunch of ground to cover this morning, so let's get right to it...

First of all, MGM sent over something a little unusual - a transcript of the first few minutes of director Rob Reiner's audio commentary on the new Princess Bride: Special Edition (street date 9/4). So if you just can't wait to listen to it on the DVD, you might want to check it out.

Also this morning, we've updated our Upcoming DVD Cover Art section AGAIN with some 20 plus new scans! We've got a bunch more MGM titles, including Home for the Holidays, Little Man Tate, Quigley Down Under, the movie-only RoboCop and the Fiddler on the Roof: Special Edition. We've also got ALL of Universal's Classic Monster Double Feature DVDs, including Dracula's Daughter/Son of Dracula, Son of Frankenstein/Ghost of Frankenstein, Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman/House of Frankenstein, The Mummy's Ghost/The Mummy's Curse, The Mummy's Hand/The Mummy's Tomb and The Werewolf of London /The She Wolf of London. And we threw the just-announced Citizen Kane in there for good measure. All of the new art appears on pages 5, 7 and 8... just FYI. And be patient while they load, 'cause there's getting to be a LOT of art on some of those pages!

Greg Suarez has checked in with a review of Dimension's Reindeer Games: Director's Cut. And we expect to have a steady stream of NEW and UPCOMING disc reviews starting on Monday. I can almost hear the masses cheering now... (yes, I KNOW we haven't been doing as many reviews lately as normal). ;-)

Also, our authorized mirror copy of Jim Taylor's Official DVD FAQ has been updated to the most recent version, dated June 22nd. It also will take time to load - that baby's grown to almost half a meg now!

In terms of new DVD announcements, Columbia TriStar has officially unveiled their Tailor of Panama: Special Edition, which will street on September 11th. The DVD will SRP for $24.95, and will include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, audio commentary by director John Boorman, The Perfect Fit: A Conversation with Pierce Brosnan and Geoffrey Rush featurette, an alternate ending (with optional commentary), theatrical trailers, filmographies and production notes. Also, don't forget to check out the details on Warner's newly-announced Citizen Kane: 60th Anniversary Special Edition in case you missed them last night.

For you Star Wars fans, there's a French website that's posted screenshots of what appears to be a legit commercial or promotional video for the upcoming Episode I DVD. There's a ton of cool images, so click on the shots below to check them out. If anyone has a copy of this actual video, drop me an e-mail. We'd love to check it out...

Promo Screenshots Page 1Promo Screenshots Page 2

A sad note this morning. We at The Digital Bits would like to tip our caps in memory of actor Jack Lemmon, who passed away yesterday here in L.A. at the age of 76. Many of his best performances can now been seen on DVD, including his turn in MGM's just released Some Like it Hot. We can't think of a better way to remember him than by giving the disc a spin this weekend. Hey... maybe Warner will finally get around to releasing the Grumpy Old Men series on DVD in WIDESCREEN?

Finally this morning, I wanted to remind all of you that director Kevin Smith is going to be signing copies of his Dogma: Special Edition DVD at Dave's Video - The Laser Place here in L.A. on Sunday (from Noon to 2 PM PDT). I'll be there for the fun, as will the disc's producer, J.M. Kenny. So if you're in the area, be sure to drop on by. Dave's is located at 12144 Ventura Blvd. in Studio City, California. See you there!

Okay... that's enough for one day. You guys should get out... get some fresh air... maybe see a movie. Don't forget - Steven Spielberg's A.I. opens today, so that ought to keep you busy (and keep you thinking, from what I hear). Have a great weekend!

(LATE UPDATE - 6/28/01 - 5:30 PM PDT)

Holy rosebud! We've just gotten details from Warner Home Video about their upcoming Citizen Kane: 60th Anniversary Special Edition. And damn... this should be a great two-disc set! You read that right - a two-disc set. It's set to street as predicted on September 25th for an SRP of $29.99. The film has been carefully restored over a period of 3 years, using the "latest digital technologies". But not only do you get the film, you also get the terrific, Oscar-nominated documentary, The Battle Over Citizen Kane! Here's the cover art for the DVD and the complete features breakdown:

Citizen Kane: 60th Anniversary Special Edition

Disc One features Citizen Kane in its original full frame aspect ratio, with breathtakingly restored picture and audio (digitally remastered video from the highest quality surviving elements), two full-length audio commentaries (one by noted film critic Roger Ebert, and the other by writer/director and Welles biographer Peter Bogdanovich), the 1941 New York movie premiere newsreel, a photo and art gallery (of storyboards, rare production photos, call sheets and other memorabilia), the original theatrical trailer, subtitles in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

Disc Two features the two-hour documentary, The Battle Over Citizen Kane, featuring interviews with Welles, the stars of Citizen Kane and associates of both Welles and Hearst, rare footage from Hearst's San Simeon estate and Welles' historic The War of the Worlds broadcast and biographical profiles of Welles and Hearst.

ROCK ON! I am SO jazzed about this set, I can't even tell you. Warner just made my day... ;-)

Stay tuned!


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