We've got a bunch of stuff for you today. First of all, we have details
on Fox's upcoming DVD release of Tim Burton's Planet
of the Apes. The 2-disc set is expected to street on November
20th, for an SRP of $29.98. The disc will include anamorphic widescreen
video, audio in Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1, audio commentary by director
Tim Burton (which studio sources tell me may be his best commentary
yet), an "enhanced" viewing mode that lets you access
behind-the-scenes materials as you watch, an isolated score/commentary
track by composer Danny Elfman, 5 extended scenes, makeup, group and
movement tests, a gallery of multi-angle features that "lets the
viewer climb into the director's chair for several key scenes",
theatrical trailers, a music video, television spots, a concept art and
design gallery, the HBO: First Look
special, behind-the-scenes featurettes: Simian
Academy (Ape Movement), Face Like
a Monkey (A Day in the Make-Up Chair), Costume
Tests, On Location in Lake Powell,
Chimp Symphony Op. 37 (Behind the
Scenes on Scoring the Film) and Swinging from
the Trees (Stunt Work), 2 Easter eggs, Nuon features, DVD-ROM
access to the screenplay, a novella and weblinks and more. We've got a
look at some of the menu screens for the 2-disc set for you today -
here for that.
Mill update features word on a couple of Fox TV titles that
may be waiting in the wings for January and February release.
We'd also like to welcome Troma's Adam Jahnke to our full time review
staff here at The Bits. Adam had
been a guest reviewer for some time, but now comes on more regularly.
You can read his review of Buena Vista's Unbreakable:
Vista Series today. Both Adam and our own Brian Ford Sullivan
have new e-mail addresses here at The Bits
- Adam's is [email protected]
and Brian's is [email protected].
Drop 'em a line and say hello. And by coincidence, today is also Adam's
birthday - you know what to do!
We've got word on street dates for a few more titles today. Warner is
debuting Osmosis Jones and Uprising
on 12/18. Columbia TriStar has The Glass
House on January 4th. They've also confirmed the new SuperBit
versions of Bram Stoker's Dracula,
Gattaca and The
Patriot on 12/11, along with Casualties
of War, Sahara and Waterdance.
Their Vertical Rays of the Sun is
due on 12/18. Artisan has announced that Twin
Peaks: Episodes 1-7 is due on 12/4. And look for the
following on 11/20 from Anchor Bay: Bad Taste,
Daleks Invasion of Earth 2150 AD,
Doctor Who and the Daleks, Dr.
Jekyll and Sister Hyde, Learning
Guitar for Dummies, Lust for a
Vampire and Stunt Man.
And don't forget that the debut of Paramount's new Star
Trek: Enterprise series is tonight on your local UPN
stations. Should at least be worth a look.
Okay... it's back to work for me, while jamming to the new Tenacious D
CD. Stay tuned...!
(LATE UPDATE -
9/25/01 - 4:30 PM PDT)
Just a quick update to give you a look at the new and final DVD cover
artwork for MGM's The Adventures of Buckaroo
Banzai: Special Edition. The new art is on the left (the
original art, adapted from the VHS release, is on the right). I think I
liked the original better...
Just FYI, I've also been told that MGM's Jeepers
Creepers will be an early January DVD release as well. We
hope to have artwork on that and Mad Max
(LATE UPDATE - 9/25/01 - 12:30 PM PDT)
MGM's just officially announced both special edition DVDs of Mad
Max and Buckaroo Banzai!
Anyone want details? Here goes...
The Mad Max: Special Edition
streets on January 4th (yes, that is a Friday) for an SRP of just
$19.98. The film will be included in anamorphic widescreen, and the
original Australian English audio, remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1. This
means that Mel Gibson's dialogue will be heard, as spoken by him, for
the first time in the U.S. (his dialogue was dubbed by an American actor
in previous releases). Mono English (Australian) and English (American)
audio will also be included. The disc will feature over 2 hours of bonus
material, including the Mel Gibson: Birth of
a Star bio-documentary, a "making of" documentary
entitled Mad Max: The Film Phenomenon,
audio commentary by special effects coordinator Chris Murray,
cinematographer David Eggby and production designer Jon Dowding, an
animated trivia game and more.
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Special
Edition will also street on January 4th (note that for a
time, it was going to street on January 1st, but the 4th is now final)
for $19.98. This disc will also include anamorphic widescreen video and
remixed audio in Dolby Digital 5.1. Extras will include audio commentary
by director W.D. Richter, John Lithgow, Peter Weller and Jeff Goldblum,
a rare prologue sequence with Jamie Lee Curtis, deleted scenes with
director's commentary, a "making of" documentary, trailers and
more. The disc will also feature Nuon enhancements, including
pre-selected zooms, behind-the-scenes facts and a condensed version of
the film with selected scenes only. But you have to be one of the .1% of
DVD player owners with Nuon capability to view any of that (and I don't
mean that as a jab - just the facts). I also hear the interactive menus
for this disc rock. Both DVDs should be a lot of fun, and kudos to MGM
for going the extra mile with a pair of fan fav films. We hope to have
final artwork for you soon.
from director Kevin Smith on his
website is that Columbia TriStar will release the DVD version of
Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back
on February 12th. No further details are available at this time. Thanks
to Ross for the heads-up.
And from the "way cool" files today, New Line has released
the final theatrical trailer for their forthcoming The
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, which debuts
in theaters on December 19th.
here to visit the trailer download page, and
to visit the film's official website. Trust me... it's worth the wait. I
am so ready to see this flick, I can't even tell you...!
(EARLY UPDATE - 9/25/01 - 11 AM PDT)
We'll have more this afternoon, but we've got a clarification this
morning on the John Landis signing at Dave's Video here in L.A. on
Friday. It's actually a signing with not only John Landis, but also
special make-up effects guru Rick Baker! The signing will run from 7 to
9 PM at the store. As always, they'll sign 2 items, one of which must be
a copy of American Werewolf in London
purchased at Dave's.
In other news, we've got news for you on the return of Total
Movie magazine. If you subscribe to the newly-relaunched
magazine, they'll give you an instant library of 40 great movies on DVD
to jump-start your collection! Here are the details from their press
"The 40 movie bundle includes Classics,
Westerns, Noir, Sci-Fi, Cult, Animation and even French New Wave; from
directors including Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, Francis Ford Coppola
and Frank Capra; starring actors including Jack Nicholson, Marlon
Brando, Cary Grant and contemporary fave John Travolta."
And as always, Total Movie will
continue to include a bonus DVD disc with every issue. Be sure to visit
Movie website for more information. Great to have 'em back!
Well, we've got another week ahead of us, and we wanted to start it off
by letting all of you who live in the Los Angeles area know that there's
a couple of good DVD events you may want to take in this weekend. First
of all, on Friday evening, Dave's Video will be holding a charity DVD
signing with director John Landis, in honor of the release of
Universal's An American Werewolf in London.
And then on Saturday (starting at 10 AM), Dave's will hold its annual
Studio Day event, where consumers can talk one-on-one with
representatives from many of the major studios about their DVD work.
Also, that afternoon (from 1 to 3 PM), I'll be moderating another DVD
producers' panel discussion in the store. Scheduled to participate are:
David Prior, Charles de Lauzirika, Van Ling, Alita Holly, Jeff Lerner,
Jeff Kurtti, Steve Gustafson, Perry Martin, Jeffrey Schwarz and David
Naylor. It promises to be a lot of fun, so hopefully we'll see you
there. Dave's is located at 12144 Ventura Blvd. in Studio City, CA.
In other news today, we've got a look at the final packaging and
details for Universal's Jurassic Park III:
Collector's Edition and the Jurassic
Park Trilogy box set (street date for both: December 10th).
The Jurassic Park III: Collector's Edition
will carry an SRP of $26.95. You'll get the expected anamorphic
widescreen transfer and Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 audio options, along
with a plethora of extras. Included will be an audio commentary with
director Joe Johnston, The Making of Jurassic
Park III production featurette shot on set, additional
featurettes on the special effects (including The
New Dinosaurs of Jurassic Park III, A
Guided Tour of Stan Winston's Studio and A
Visit to ILM), a Dinosaur
Turntable (providing a 3D look at the creatures themselves),
a production photo gallery, storyboard sequences, the Jurassic
Park III Archives, theatrical trailers and more. As is par
for the course with Universal these days, there will be multiple
versions of the title released the same day. You'll be able to buy the
film in full frame if that's what you prefer, or you can buy a box set
of all three films, entitled The Jurassic
Park Trilogy, for $76.95. This new box set will reportedly
contain a bonus disc of previously unreleased material, The
Jurassic Park Franchise. And if you already own the movies on
DVD, you can get the new disc without buying the box set. This comes
from the studio's press release:
"Consumers purchasing Jurassic Park III
who already own Jurassic Park and The Lost World DVDs
may receive a collectible Jurassic Park DVD slipcase and Bonus
Disc allowing them to complete their own "Jurassic Park
Trilogy Collection" via mail for only $6.95."
That's very cool - kudos to Universal for doing this.
And finally this morning, did any of you watch the America:
A Tribute to Heroes telethon on Friday night? I have to say,
I let my ReplayTV record it and watched it later. It was worth seeing
for an incredible live performance by U2 (of their song Walk
On) alone, not to mention the many other artists who
participated, including Sting, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Neil
Young, Sheryl Crow, Eddie Vedder and others.
is now that there are tentative plans to release a DVD and music
CD featuring the performances. Count me in.
We've got several things for you in today's post. First up is a
detailed look at DreamWorks' forthcoming Almost
Famous: Untitled - The Bootleg Cut, which streets on December
4th (SRP $26.95). The 2-disc set will contain both the original
theatrical version of the film and a new, 30-minute longer director's
cut, both in anamorphic widescreen. Audio will be available in both
Dolby Digital and DTS formats. The new director's cut will feature audio
commentary by Cameron Crowe, a special "behind-the-scenes"
featurette which includes rehearsal footage from Stillwater's San Diego
show, original Rolling Stone
articles from the 1970s penned by Cameron Crowe with an introduction by
Crowe, Cameron Crowe's Top Ten 1973 album picks, the film's screenplay,
animated menus featuring original music by Nancy Wilson, deleted scenes
with commentary (including Pete Droge and Elaine Summer singing Small
Times Blues in its entirety), production notes, the
theatrical trailer and cast & crew bios. You'll also get a bonus CD
featuring Stillwater's Cleveland concert, which includes 6 songs
performed live. Here's a look at the cover artwork for the release. This
promises to be a fun DVD...
I suppose you've noticed that second DVD cover there? Yep... Disney's
rolling out a brand new special edition of their animated classic Peter
Pan on February 12th. Details on specs and price will follow
Also today, we've got no less than 4 new DVD reviews for you. First up
are Todd's thoughts on Universal's
American Werewolf in London: Collector's Edition (available
now) and Fox's
Simpsons: The Complete First Season (street date 9/25). And
Greg's checked in with looks at Image's Behind
the Planet of the Apes: Special Collector's Edition (also
available now) and Fox's
French Connection: Five Star Collection (also 9/25).
And one last note - DVD International has informed me that Digital
Video Essentials is being delayed from its original November
14th street date (as mentioned yesterday), and will now be released in
the 1st Qtr of 2002. Just FYI.
So there you go - another week is history. Have a great weekend and
we'll see you Monday!
We've got more
DVD Cover Artwork for you this morning. We've just added some
9 new covers of forthcoming Criterion titles, including 8
1/2, That Obscure Object of Desire,
Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages,
The Last Wave, Le
Trou, The Lady Eve and
The Ruling Class. You'll find
those on the
pages respectively. We've also moved MGM's Fiddler
on the Roof: Special Edition to the
page, and updated the cover for A&E's Pride
& Prejudice: Special Edition (on the
Also this morning, we've got word that DVD International's much-lauded
and highly-useful Video Essentials
DVD is soon to be no more. The disc, which is used to properly calibrate
your home theater equipment to maximize your picture and sound quality,
has been discontinued. But don't fret, because on November 14th, it's
being replaced by Digital Video Essentials.
The new disc will SRP for only $24.99 (the original Video
Essentials carried a hefty $49.99 price tag). Created by Joe
Kane Productions, the disc will be the first ever created using true "Progressive
Mastering". It will reportedly contain far more information that
the original Video Essentials, and
will be easier to use. It will still feature all of the calibration
patterns we've come to rely on here at the Bits,
along with a wealth of new demonstration material and new programs on
Dolby Digital and DTS sound. Both NTSC and PAL versions will be
produced, and localized versions will be available in German, French,
Spanish, Italian, Korean, Japanese and Portuguese. Joe Kane is nothing
if not a crusader for quality and a stickler for detail, so I fully
expect this disc will live up to the hype. You can preorder the title
this link at DVD Planet.
Finally this morning, we've gotten word that Anchor Bay is recalling
all copies of Dario Argento's Opera.
Apparently, due to a manufacturing defect, some copies of this disc will
not play properly in many DVD players. The disc is being fixed and will
soon be made available. If you currently have a defective copy of this
this link at Anchor Bay's website for instructions as to how to
exchange it for a new copy.
(LATE UPDATE - 9/19/01 - 8 PM PDT)
Okay... we've just kicked off our new
where you'll get a chance to take home great DVDs from MGM, Paramount
and 20th Century Fox. 3 lucky people will win 7 discs each, and 2 more
will win 10 discs each! You've got until 7PM PDT on Sunday, September
30th to enter. So what are you waiting for? ;-)
Also this evening,
posted the transcript of a live chat our friends over at
Theater Forum held on Tuesday night with Michael Flesher of
Anchor Bay Entertainment. There's lots of information on titles that
they're working on, so if you're a fan of the Bay, don't miss it!
Finally this evening, we've got good news for you Star
Trek fans. Paramount's official
website is currently running a very in-depth survey to see what fans
might want from upcoming boxed sets of Star
Trek: The Next Generation, Star
Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star
Trek: Voyager episodes on DVD. So if you want your voice
heard, head on over there and participate.
(LATE UPDATE - 9/19/01 - 3:45 PM PDT)
More updates around The Bits
today... we've just posted some 50 new pieces of cover artwork to our
DVD Cover Artwork section. Among the new titles are The
Matrix: Revisited, Cats & Dogs,
Cats: Ultimate Edition, 6 new Cirque
du Soleil titles from Columbia, The
Prince of Tides, America's
Sweethearts, Tomb Raider,
Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes,
Planet of the Apes: The Complete TV Series,
We Fall, Willow: Special Edition,
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure,
Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey,
Inherit the Wind, The
Lover, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,
Fritz the Cat, The
Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat, Jurassic
Park III, Princess Diaries,
Scary Movie 2, Blankman
We've also updated
Taylor's Official DVD FAQ to the most recent version, which is
dated September 19th.
We'll be back with one more update this afternoon, to post a new Trivia
Contest and the transcript of a chat that our friends at the
Theater Forum did with Anchor Bay last night. And then we'll
have several new DVD reviews for you tomorrow.
(EARLY UPDATE - 9/19/01 - 1:30 PM PDT)
We've got word in today's
Mill of more SuperBit DVDs from Columbia TriStar, a pair of
animated titles from Disney and a studio-confirmed street date for MGM's
long awaited Buckaroo Banzai. Most
of it is confirmed, but we put it in
Mill just to be safe. Be sure to check it out.
(LATE UPDATE - 9/18/01 - 4:15 PM PDT)
One last thing for you this afternoon. We've got the final artwork for
Warner's The Matrix Revisited,
which streets on November 20th (SRP $19.98). The same day, you'll also
be able to buy the title in a 2-pack with the original The
Matrix DVD (SRP $39.98).
(LATE UPDATE -
9/18/01 - 3 PM PDT)
Big news today - according to
latest numbers from the Consumer Electronics Association, the DVD
format has officially crossed the 20 million player mark! As of the week
ending September 7th, some 20,235,574 players had been shipped to
retailers in Region 1 since the debut of the DVD format back in 1997.
Obviously, there's no way to predict how recent events will affect
consumer buying habits and manufacturer shipments, but this is clearly
good news for the format. You'll find all the details on our
tracking page, and all charts have been updated accordingly.
In other news, we've got an early look at the final DVD cover artwork
for Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes,
which streets from 20th Century Fox on November 20th. We've also got a
look at the art for MGM's Bill & Ted's
Excellent Adventure and Bill &
Ted's Bogus Journey (both due on December 4th) and Columbia
TriStar's America's Sweethearts
(due on November 13th).
Rumor Mill this afternoon with the latest updates on a number
of Miramax titles that are currently in production, as well as a
long-awaited Hollywood Pictures title from Buena Vista. Don't miss it.
And one last note - we've just updated our review of
Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace with information on how
to access all of the Easter eggs on the 2-disc set. Now you just have to
wait a month to get your hands on the DVD... ;-)
(EARLY UPDATE - 9/18/01 - Noon PDT)
Okay... we're almost back to normal. I'll be posting a larger update
later today. In the meantime, I just wanted to let everyone know that
I've looked at both the Neverending Story
and Neverending Story II discs
from Warner, and you'll be happy to know that both are in anamorphic
widescreen. There's been some confusion about this, but they are
definitely 16x9. Just FYI.
Scott Hettrick posted an interesting story which kind of got lost
in last week's craziness. It seems Lucasfilm spent some $4 million to
produce the extra for the upcoming Phantom
Menace DVD - money which particularly went to pay for
completing the disc's deleted scenes.
I bet you're wondering where we've been today. You know how they say
bad things happen in groups, all at once? Well, I was working on a large
update for the site last night, when I heard a loud "snapping"
noise and my computer fritzed out. Moments later, wisps of smoke started
to waft from my computer's tower case. Turns out my power supply fried,
taking my video card with it. Luckily, that was all that got damaged. So
I've been doing electronic surgery all day, and will be at it pretty
much all night tonight as well. We should be back to regular operation
around here sometime tomorrow afternoon. So thanks as always for your
patience. Anyone want a slightly charred silver box with a lot of wires
dangling out of it and an equally useless video card? I'll give you a
great price. ;-)
Open the pod bay door please, HAL. Can you hear me, HAL? HAL?
(LATE UPDATE - 9/13/01 - 12:30 PM PDT)
Todd forwarded me something this morning that I wanted to share with
all of you. It's a link to
editorial by Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr. And
I think it perfectly express what I and probably all Americans are
feeling in wake of what happened here this week. I thought some of you
might find comfort, solace and strength from it.
(LATE UPDATE -
9/13/01 - 11:30 AM PDT)
So it's time to get back to business as usual here at the Bits.
And here's a great way to do it. We've learned that 20th Century Fox
Home Entertainment's going to be releasing a 4-disc Planet
of the Apes: The Complete TV Series DVD. The title will
street on November 20th, for an SRP of $49.98. How cool is that? Very,
that's how cool. Damn, I loved that show when I was a kid! The street
date coincides with the studio's just-announced 11/20 street date for
Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes
(SRP $29.98). The art you see below is final for the TV series, but not
final for the movie, just FYI. We also have the studio temp artwork for
Universal's upcoming Jurassic Park 3
DVD (street date 12/11 - it will have a DTS soundtrack). Titles you see
here with a weblink can now be preordered at
DVD Planet. Here
According to its press release, Tim Burton's Planet
of the Apes will be "one of the most ambitious and
technically-advanced DVDs ever produced, providing unprecedented
interactivity for viewers. Presented in Anamorphic Widescreen (Aspect
Ratio 2:35:1) with English 5.1 DTS, English 5.1 Dolby Digital and
Spanish Dolby surround sound, both Special Edition discs contain a
multitude of bonus features."
Disc One will include an enhanced viewing mode that enables you to
choose when to go behind-the-scenes, search cast and crew biographies,
or view the special effects, an audio track by composer Danny Elfman, 2
Easter eggs, DVD-ROM screenplay/script/storyboard comparison,
NUON-enhanced features such as Viddies and Cool Zooms and animated
Disc Two contains the HBO First Look
special, 5 extended scenes, multiple featurettes (including Simian
Academy, Face Like a Monkey,
Costume Tests, On
Location in Lake Powell, Chimp
Symphony Op. 37 and Swinging from
the Trees), makeup, group and movement tests, a gallery of
multi-angle features that lets the viewer climb into the director's
chair for several key scenes, theatrical trailers, a music video,
television spots, a concept art and design gallery and additional
DVD-ROM features including a novella and weblinks. So there you go.
By the way, we've confirmed that Warner's animated The
Lord of the Rings is anamorphic widescreen. Note that The
Hobbit and The Return of the King
are full frame, which is their original aspect ratio. Maybe Warner's
starting to get the message...
We've also gotten word today that Fox's Moulin
Rouge DVD will street on December 18th now, and it will
apparently include a DTS soundtrack. Also, look for The
Score on 12/11 and Made
(EARLY UPDATE - 9/13/01 - 1 AM PDT)
Okay... we'll be back later this morning to get down to business as
usual here at the Bits. But first
I want to share something. We've now heard from several readers who were
directly involved or affected by this week's tragedy. And obviously,
we're all indirectly affected in some way. It means a lot that you've
shared your experiences with us. You know, for Todd, myself and the rest
of the staff here, the Bits is
really a labor of love. But the main reason we do it at all is because
we know that there are a lot of people out there who get a little bit of
enjoyment from reading the site each day. You guys are important to us.
You're family. So just know that we're thinking about you. And thanks to
reader Kris for the new graphic underneath our button bar. I think we'll
keep it up for a while...
(LATE UPDATE - 9/11/01 - 9:45 AM PDT)
to the tragedy that's happened this morning here in parts of the
United States, we'd like to ask any of our readers who are able,
and particularly those in the New York or Washington areas, to consider
donating blood. Literally thousands of lives have been lost today, and
The American Red
Cross is going to need all the blood they can get. Our prayers out
to all involved.
(EARLY UPDATE - 9/11/01 - 12:01 AM PDT)
Okay... at long last,
special coverage of the DVD release of Star Wars: Episode I - The
Phantom Menace is now online! We've been to the Skywalker
Ranch and back and we've got a complete transcript of the Q & A with
Van Ling, Rick McCallum, Richard Dean, Pablo Helman, Jon Shenk and
George Lucas! We've also got a look at the menu screens on the DVD! And
you definitely don't want to miss
in-depth review of the DVD itself! So what are you waiting for?
Check it out and enjoy.
Meanwhile, once you've read our coverage of the disc, you'll probably
notice that we didn't talk much about the experience of visiting the
Skywalker Ranch itself. That's deliberate. But we know lots of you love
to live vicariously, so I'll give you a few details here.
I started my journey to the Ranch on Thursday morning. As I waited for
my plane in Orange County, CA, I discovered that one of my fellow DVD
webmasters, Guido Henkel of DVD
Review, was on the same flight. I was already planning to meet
up with Pete Bracke from DVD
File and Jeff Rauter (the
Man) when I stepped off the plane in Oakland, so when we
arrived, it seemed only natural that all four of us share a rental car
for the hour-long drive to the Ranch. We spent the drive catching up on
the latest DVD news, and musing on what the next two days held in store.
Without revealing its location, suffice it to say that the harrowing
road that takes you from civilization to the remote Ranch is quite the
sweaty-hands adventure, especially for a boy who grew up on the flat
plains of North Dakota. But once you drive onto the Ranch, you'd never
guess that some 300 people are hard at work on Episode
II there. It looks more like a national park. The whole place
is very in tune with its natural surroundings. There's a vineyard and an
olive orchard. Eagles soar gracefully overhead. And at one point, as we
drove up to the Victorian-style main house, a herd of deer crossed the
road in front of us. When we finally stepped out of the car, the first
thing that struck all of us was the absolute, peaceful quiet that hovers
over the place. It's really an amazing atmosphere.
We were greeted at the main house by Lucasfilm staffers. We waited in a
gorgeous parlor, complete with elaborate, hand-carved woodwork, as the
rest of our band arrived - some 20 other webmasters from DVD websites
and Star Wars fan sites (too
numerous to mention here but be sure to visit your favorite sites online
for their own coverage). Then we were treated to a tour of the main
house, and a first screening of several scenes in the film on DVD,
hosted by Lucasfilm's Jim Ward (you may recall
recent interview with him). The home theater system in use for
this demo was set-up just for this event by THX, and it featured a
complete Dolby Digital EX configuration. The remainder of the afternoon
was spent in a large DLP-equipped theater in the main house, where we
screened the complete deleted scenes, The
Beginning documentary and were given a tour of both discs. At
one point in the documentary, there's a scene in which Lucas and company
screen the first rough cut of Episode I.
We realized at once that the theater they were using was the same one we
were currently sitting in, making for quite the amusing moment. After
several hours of this, the day wrapped with a visit to the General
Store. And following a long drive back to our hotels, about six of us
went out to dinner together to discuss the day's events.
Our second day at the Ranch began with a visit to the Technical
Services building, where Skywalker Sound is located. And in the main
theater there, we were joined by about 15 more members of the electronic
press, for the Q & A session (a transcription of which you'll find
which lasted the remainder of the afternoon. The highlight, of course,
was being able to speak with George Lucas himself, and - at long last -
getting our hands on the DVD. I'm sure I wasn't the only one who spent
the rest of the weekend playing with the 2-disc set, following a quick
evening plane flight back home.
So that's about it. Most of us took pictures of the Ranch, but we're
not allowed to post them for obvious reasons. Suffice it to say that the
Ranch is every bit as cool as you imagine it to be and then some.
Personally, I'm looking forward to going back when the Episode
II DVD comes out... but that's an adventure for another day.
Let me just close by saying that all of us had a great time, and I
especially appreciated getting to spend time with some of my fellow DVD
webmasters. Their friendship is one of the nicest benefits to this job.
Thanks also to everyone at Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox Home
Entertainment for inviting us to spend some time in Lucas-land. I think
I speak for everyone when I say that the opportunity was much
(LATE UPDATE -
9/10/01 - 3 PM PDT)
While we're waiting for the Midnight deadline to post our Star
Wars DVD coverage, anyone out there care for a look at the
DVD cover artwork for 20th Century Fox and Lucasfilm's other big
upcoming title... Willow (street
date 11/27)? Here it is...
(EARLY UPDATE - 9/10/01 - 10 AM PDT)
Well... we're back from the Ranch, and we're happy to report that we
weren't banned from ever returning! We did get Q&A time with George,
we did get the Episode I DVD, and
we have spent all weekend playing with it. And the good news is that we
know when the next Star Wars film
is coming out on DVD. The bad news is that we can't tell you anything
until tomorrow. Everyone who attended signed an agreement saying we'd
all wait until a specific time to post our reports. So if you check back
with us at 12:01 AM PDT tonight, we should have a detailed review of the
disc itself, along with a complete transcript of the Q&A session
with DVD producer Van Ling, Star Wars
producer Rick McCallum, George Lucas himself and others. And with luck,
we may even have a few pictures to show you. So do check back then...
In the meantime,
got word from Variety (via Yahoo) that Fox plans to debut
Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes on
DVD 2 days before Christmas. The 2-disc set will SRP for $29.98 and is
expected to include some 13 hours worth of material, including 28 bonus
programs and several multi-angle featurettes.
Anyone want to see the DVD cover artwork for Paramount's Tomb
Raider (street date 11/13) and Columbia TriStar's A
Muppet Family Christmas (11/6), Emmet
Otter's Jig-Band Christmas (also 11/6) and John Carpenter's
Ghosts of Mars: Special Edition
(12/4)? Here you go (note that you can already pre-order 3 of these
discs from DVD Planet - just click on the cover to visit their page for
that particular title)...
We'll be back this afternoon with more, and don't forget to check back
this evening! Stay tuned...
(LATE UPDATE - 9/5/01 - 9:30 AM PDT)
This will be our last update until Monday. Gasp! "Say it isn't so!"
you cry! Yes, it's true... and no, we're not slacking off. We're off to
Skywalker Ranch to take part in a special 2-day, Lucasfilm-hosted press
event to promote the upcoming DVD release of Star
Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace. George Lucas himself
will answer our DVD questions, along with DVD producer Van Ling and
others involved in the creation of the 2-disc set. A lot of fellow
online press will also be there, and you can be sure we'll have complete
coverage of the event, along with a detailed review of the disc itself,
when we return next week.
So until then... stay tuned... ;-)
(EARLY UPDATE - 9/5/01 - 12:01 AM PDT)
We figured we'd get ahead of the game today, and get our daily post up
early for a change! We posted seven new DVD reviews last night and we've
got three more for you today. This time, we're taking a look at a trio
of films from director Brian De Palma: MGM's new
Special Edition and
to Kill: Special Edition, along with Criterion's
More reviews are in the works, including some major new and upcoming
titles, so stay tuned.
We've got some interesting news to report this morning. First up, it
looks as if the Back to the Future Trilogy
may finally show up on DVD in 2002.
BTTF.com website recently conducted an interview with Back
to the Future co-screenwriter Bob Gale, in which he reveals
that Universal has been waiting to release the trilogy on DVD until a
deal that gave foreign rights for the studio's films to Columbia expires
(reportedly at the end of this year). If true, that would clear the way
for the DVD release to happen in 2002. The films had previously been
reported delayed because of legal issues surrounding the use of screen
test footage of actor Eric Stoltz in the title role.
National Post is also reporting this story, adding that
Universal Studios Home Video president Craig Kornblau has confirmed that
Back to the Future, Schindler's
List and E.T. the
Extra-Terrestrial are all on Universal's production slate.
According to Kornblau, E.T. is set
for a theatrical re-release next spring, to celebrate the film's 20th
anniversary, and a DVD release will follow. Here's a quote:
"Our approach is to create an event ideally
around an anniversary of a film or re-release like E.T.. We don't want
to just throw a DVD title out there." Very cool... just so
long as we don't get three different versions of the film on DVD,
followed a few months later by an Ultimate Edition...
In other news, actor
Jon Favreau is reporting that the DVD version of Made
will arrive sometime in mid-November (we're hearing November 13th).
According to Jon, the disc will reportedly include "over
an hour of additional material including outtakes, deleted scenes, a
documentary, and the screenplay on DVD-ROM. For those who have come to
expect a lot from your DVD's, we have hours of commentary from Vince and
myself as well as plenty of other goodies." The disc is
being produced by Alita Holly, who you may remember from our recent
Producers 2001 panel discussion at Comic-Con. Better news
still is that, after Made, they'll
be working on a Swingers: Special Edition
for release on DVD next year.
Oh... but we're still not done. We've got word that Ivan Reitman's Evolution
is coming to DVD on November 13th from Columbia TriStar.
Official Weird Al Yankovic website is reporting that Al's UHF
is seriously being discussed at MGM as a special edition DVD release for
the summer of 2002. You may not know this yet, but The
Muppet Show is now on DVD as
exclusive from Time-Life. Some 30 episodes are available on 10
DVDs, which you can buy monthly or in sets of your choosing. Or you can
buy the whole collection in one shot for $175.
Official Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson website is
offering a 3-disc set called The Ultimate
Johnny Carson Collection, which features some of his best
moments on the show over the years. It's selling for $89.99 ($79.99 if
you order online before September 30th). The Backstreet Boys are
releasing a greatest hits DVD, tentatively titled Chapter
1, on October 23rd to accompany a "best of" CD of
the same name (read
the story via Yahoo here). And finally, The
Who and Special Guests, Live at the Royal Albert Hall is set
to arrive on DVD on September 25th, featuring performances by The Who
with Pearl Jam vocalist Eddie Vedder, Oasis songwriter-guitarist Noel
Gallagher, Bryan Adams, Kelly Jones, Kennedy and Paul Weller (click
here for that story).
(LATE UPDATE - 9/4/01 - 8 PM PDT)
Okay... we've posted SEVEN new DVD reviews for you to check out this
evening. Todd's checked out Pioneer's new
Special Edition, Greg's got his thoughts on
Goonies from Warner, and we've got Dan's take on the complete
Allen Collection, Volume 2 from MGM, which includes
and Fog. Enjoy!
Back with more tomorrow. Stay tuned...
(EARLY UPDATE - 9/4/01 - 10:30 AM PDT)
Welcome back from the holiday! So did everyone enjoy their extra day
off (those of you in the U.S. anyway)? We're rested and raring to go, so
we thought we'd kick off the morning with the latest upcoming street
date information. You'll find that in today's update of
Mill. And we'll be back later with a bunch of new DVD reviews.
Enjoy and back soon...
Well here's great way to end the week - info on the street dates for a
whole bunch more cool upcoming DVDs! Let's get right to it, shall we?
Buena Vista has announced that November 27th is the day Scary
Movie 2 will his store shelves. Columbia TriStar's confirmed
that November 13th will see America's
Sweethearts. A classic, 1922 Rudolph Valentino film, Blood
and Sand, will street from Kino International on October 9th.
ADV's got more Farscape coming
your way - Farscape #6: Till the Blood Runs
Clear/Rhapsody in Blue (September 4th) and Farscape
#7: The Flax/Jeremiah Crichton (October 16th). DreamWorks has
confirmed that their Almost Famous: The
Bootleg Cut will street on December 4th - still no official
word on details. On December 4th, MGM will release Bill
& Ted's Excellent Adventure, Bill
& Ted's Bogus Journey and Dirty
Rotten Scoundrels. They'll follow on December 11th with The
Handmaid's Tale, The Defiant Ones,
the Cat, The Indian Runner,
Inherit the Wind, Look
Back in Anger, The Lover,
Separate Tables, Witness
for the Prosecution, Topkapi,
The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat
and The Party. And Paramount's
added Road Rage to its October
30th slate, along with Bridge of the Wind
on November 13th. Look also for National
Geographic: Pearl Harbor - Legacy of the Attack on November
6th. Finally, Wolfe Video will release Queer
as Folk 2 on September 4th.
We'll be back with a TON of review after the holiday. Everyone have a
We mentioned this the other day, but it's worth mentioning again,
because it's now official - Paramount will deliver a loaded Tomb
Raider: Collector's Edition on November 13th. The disc will
include director's commentary, behind-the-scenes featurettes, an
interactive game and more. Better still, Paramount's very long-awaited
What's Eating Gilbert Grape
finally arrives on November 27th. And Frankie
& Johnnie is set for December 4th. Buena Vista's crazy/beautiful
is due on November 13th. MGM will deliver Legally
Blonde on November 6th. And other just (or soon to be)
announced titles from Columbia TriStar include several Cirque
du Soleil discs, among them Baroque
Odyssey, Cirque Reinvente,
Journey of Man, Magie
Continue, Novelle Experience
and Saltimbanco (all 10/30). Look
also for The Point Men (11/13),
The Breed (11/20), The
Owl and the Pussycat (11/27) and Mixed
Nuts, Sheena, Silent
Rage and Weekend at Bernies II
We've got word on several more major upcoming DVDs in today's
Mill post, so don't miss it.
In other news, Winstar's The Power of Myth
has been pushed back until September 24th. Just FYI.
Also, director Dennis Przywara e-mailed me this morning to let me know
that his Starwoids will soon be
released on DVD. As you may know, the film takes an amusing look at all
those guys who stood in line for the theatrical release of Star
Wars: Episode I (I know a few of 'em myself). The disc is
coming in the first week of October (street date is 10/9) and it'll
include deleted scenes, director's commentary, an interview with Kevin
Smith about Star Wars and much
more. Click here
for the official Starwoids
We'll be back to announce the winners of the
in a couple of hours. Stay tuned...
(LATE UPDATE - 8/29/01 - 5:30 PM PDT)
DVD Cover Art is now online, and you've got more than 60 new
scans to check out. Included are The Legend
of Hell House, Shadow Magic,
Pride and Prejudice, The
Prisoner, Set 5, Airheads,
The Scout, Pink
Flamingos/Female Trouble, all 5 SuperBit titles, Dr.
Doolittle 2, Jabberwocky,
Monty Python and the Holy Grail,
From Here to Eternity, See
No Evil, Hear No Evil, Exorcism,
all the new Woody Allen titles, Dominick and
Eugene, Of Mice and Men,
Now, Voyager, Little
Women (1933), Ocean's 11,
Sudden Impact, Magnum
Force, Babylon 5, all
of MGM's November titles, The Princess
Dairies, revised art for Driven
and The Tailor of Panama and much
See you tomorrow... ;-)
(EARLY UPDATE - 8/29/01 - 1:15 PM PDT)
We're working on a huge
DVD Artwork update for later this afternoon, so be sure to
watch for that. But we wanted to jump in quick with some street date
We've just gotten word that Paramount's Apocalypse
Now: Redux DVD will be released on November 20th. Look for an
official announcement soon. Also, Columbia TriStar is releasing John
Singleton's Baby Boy: Special Edition,
A Muppet Family Christmas and Emmet
Otter's Jug Band Christmas on November 6th. Moscow
on the Hudson will follow on November 27th, and both John
Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars and Spacehunter:
Adventures in the Forbidden Zone are expected on December
And don't forget - tonight's the deadline for entering the
Get your entries in quick!
Hi all! Sorry for the extra day off yesterday. I've had a lot of family
visiting in the last couple of weeks and needed a little extra time to
decompress. We're going to be doing a lot of housekeeping around the
site today, and we'll have more for you tonight and tomorrow.
In the meantime, Video Store
magazine, to which Todd and I are regular contributors, has announced
the winners of their 4th Annual DVD Awards.
As in our own
this year, Toy Story: The Ultimate Toy Box
walked away with the top honors, winning in the Best
of Show category. Bits
editor Bill Hunt (that's me, in case you didn't already know that)
served as one of five judges for the event. For a complete list of all
We have more on that Almost Famous: SE.
First of all, the street date for the title is expected to be announced
as December 4th. We've also heard that some of the details we listed in
our last post are still tentative, so just be aware of that.
Here's a bunch more newly announced street date information.
Paramount's Tomb Raider: Collector's Edition
is due on DVD on November 13th. New Line's Rush
Hour 2: Infinifilm Edition will street sometime in December.
Universal's Jurassic Park III: Collector's
Edition and Fox's Planet of the
Apes are also likely December releases. DreamWorks' A.I.
Artificial Intelligence is due very early in 2002. MGM's Legally
Blonde is due on November 6th. Fox's Dr.
Doolittle 2 streets on October 23rd (as their second
Nuon-enhanced title). Note that Warner is now considering releasing a
widescreen version of Cats & Dogs,
thanks to pressure from consumers. The full frame disc streets on
October 16th. Also, look for a 5-film Dirty
Harry collection and a 3-film Rat
Pack collection from Warner on November 23rd (tying into
Warner's remake of Ocean's Eleven).
The original Ocean's Eleven is
also on the way to DVD.
You fans of Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous
should be happy soon. We just got this info yesterday:
Almost Famous Untitled: The Bootleg Cut
(Director's Edition) is a 3-Disc set (2 DVDs and 1 music CD)
that includes a NEW Director's version, the original Academy Award
winning version and an additional music CD of 6 never before released
songs by Stillwater! Available at the S.R.P. of $34.99, the Director's
Edition includes 36 minutes of never before seen footage!
Exciting new bonus features on the DVD include a new director's
commentary, cast audition tapes, deleted scenes, the shooting script,
new menu music by Nancy Wilson and much more.
I'll try to have a street date for you soon. Note that the 6-song
Stillwater CD was originally created by director Crowe as a wrap party
gift for the cast and crew. Very cool!
This next news comes official from Warner. Bowing to pressure from
DVD's core fans, Warner Home Video has announced plans to release a
widescreen version of theWilly Wonka &
the Chocolate Factory: 30th Anniversary Edition. The disc
will street on November 13th (SRP $24.98), and will include everything
that was on the other, full frame-only version. It's nice to see that
they've decided to listen to the more than 11,000 fans who signed the
Widescreen petition. But Cats &
Dogs and their animated Lord of
the Rings DVDs, both upcoming, are still due to be full frame
only. Come on Warner... you're almost there. And just to make sure
Warner gets the message, here are links to online widescreen petitions
that you can sign about
& Dogs and
of the Rings. We know that they're not as popular as Wonka,
but we ask EVERYONE who feels strongly about this widescreen on DVD
issue to sign both of these petitions. The Hollywood studios need to be
sent a message by widescreen fans, or this is just going to keep
Here's my 2 cents on this whole thing. I don't mind at all if Warner
and other studios release full frame versions of their films on DVD. As
the format expands into a larger, more mainstream market, I understand
that many people prefer full frame. I get many e-mails a day now asking
"Why the black bars?" I think the fault here lies with the
studios in not making a better effort to explain widescreen to its
consumers. But whatever - there's no doubt that the studios will have to
release some titles in full frame. BUT NEVER ABANDON YOUR CORE, ORIGINAL
CONSUMERS! Warner... you were the driving force behind DVD, and it's
shameful if you make any move to dumb down the format as it gets
popular. The people who prefer anamorphic widescreen ARE THE VERY PEOPLE
WHO MADE THIS FORMAT A SUCCESS by supporting it from Day One, and by
spreading the word of mouth about how great DVD was to anyone who would
listen. If you're going to release full frame titles... fine. BUT ALWAYS
RELEASE A WIDESCREEN VERSION AS WELL. Better still, do what many other
studios have done and include both aspect ratios on the same disc, or in
the same 2-disc set. NEVER FORGET who the core DVD consumers are, and
what they want. Period. And if you do, you can bet we'll be there to
remind you. Enough said.
In other news, Columbia TriStar will release a Boys
'N the Hood: Special Edition on November 6th. And Luc
Besson's Subway will street the
same day. Also Buena Vista is prepping both The
Princess Diaries and Crazy/Beautiful
for release in December.
Anime fans, our friends at Urban Vision tell us that the national
premiere for the new Vampire Hunter D:
Bloodlust is tonight at Hollywood's Egyptian Theatre (7 PM
PDT). Tickets are almost gone. After the film, you can stop next door at
Hollywood's famous Pig 'N Whistle, for your chance to meet all the
talented individuals who made the film. Discuss the movie, have drinks,
meet celebrities, get stuff signed or just hang out. Masao Maruyama will
be there, as well as Kawajiri (director of Ninja
Scroll), Minowa and d'Ambrosio! Who knows - you may catch a
glimpse of Carl Macek (Robotech)
or Peter Chung (Aeon Flux)
attending, among others. Don't miss it.
And finally this morning, Synapse has just announced the DVD release of
Jess Franco's Exorcism. The disc
will street on October 30th, and will include a brand new anamorphic
widescreen (1.66:1) digital transfer, reversible double-sided cover
artwork (so you can choose which artwork you Prefer), an English
language version, the first ever commentary from director Jess Franco,
an alternate "clothed" opening sequence, liner notes from film
historian Tim Lucas, a still gallery and the film's theatrical trailer.
We've got something pretty exciting for you to check out today. How
about a downloadable video trailer of footage from Warner's upcoming
Matrix: Revisited DVD? The clip is
in Real Media format (get
a free Real Player here) and runs about 2 minutes. It's available
optimized versions, to ease download times (300k is obviously the
highest quality). So pick your download and enjoy. These files may not
be published elsewhere online without permission. Thanks to Thomas for
We've also pleased to give you another new DVD review - Greg's look at
Paramount's awesome new WWII thriller,
at the Gates. I have to say, the film is not without its
faults. But if you can overlook them, I think you'll really enjoy it a
lot. It delivers good acting, great cinematography and plenty of
dramatic tension. Best of all, it's in stores now. Don't miss it.
On the news side of things, we've got word that Columbia TriStar is
going to be releasing St. Elmo's Fire
on DVD on November 20th. And speaking of Columbia, here's a look at the
DVD artwork for the studio's first batch of SuperBit DVDs, due to street
on October 2nd.
Around the Net today,
a great story at Yahoo (via Reuters) about a new war between the
Hollywood studios and video retailers like Blockbuster over revenue
sharing and DVD.
And look for the new Trivia
Contest to start later this afternoon, giving you all a chance
to take home copies of both MGM's new Silence
of the Lambs and Hannibal
special editions on DVD.
(LATE UPDATE - 8/21/01 - Noon PDT)
We've got two new DVD reviews for you from Todd. First up is one that I
know you're all waiting for: MGM's
Terminator: Special Edition, which streets on October 2nd. I
think you'll find that, for the most part, it's been worth the wait. The
other new review is Columbia TriStar's just released
And around the site this afternoon, we've updated the
DVD Player Sales numbers to include the 115,414 players
shipped to retailers here in the States in the second week of August
Speaking of the CEA (Consumer Electronics Association), we've gotten
some interesting numbers from them which reveal just how well DVD
hardware product is selling these days. Sales of stand-alone DVD players
in 2001 thus far currently sit at some 4,347,258 units, compared to
2,683,334 by this time last year. That's a 60% increase over 2000.
Integrated systems with DVD players built-in have sold some 418,976
units this year, compared to only 93,416 by this time in 2000 (a 348%
increase). And mobile and portable players have sold 100,320 units so
far in 2001, compared to only 17,605 in 2000 (a 469% increase). Over
all, sales of all product categories of DVD players are up some 74% in
2001 from last year. And keep in mind that none of this includes the
increasing sales trends in PCs and laptops with DVD-ROM drives or video
game consoles with DVD playback capability. Note also that these numbers
reflect the U.S. domestic market only.
(EARLY UPDATE - 8/21/01 - 11 AM PDT)
Could Paramount be about to go back and give the deluxe treatment it's
giving Star Trek: The Motion Picture
to all its Trek franchise films?
That's the word according to
new article over at CNN (via Reuters). Here's the relevant
"Paramount senior VP of marketing Michael
Arkin said that since the studio released standard DVD versions of the
Star Trek movies in reverse order of their theatrical release,
the studio is considering working its way back through the series in
chronological order with special DVD editions of each."
And that's what we've been hearing from our sources as well. Star
Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is up first, as a 2-disc special
edition sometime early next year. How freaking cool is that? We've also
heard that the complete first season of Star
Trek: The Next Generation will be released shortly after the
first of the year, with Voyager
and Deep Space Nine likely to
follow (along with additional seasons of TNG)
later in 2002. It's definitely a good time to be a fan of Trek
In other news this morning, you fans of Sting have a DVD treat on the
way. The ex-Police front-man-at-large is set to record an intimate, live
performance at a villa in Tuscany, Italy on September 11th. The
performance will then be released simultaneously as a live CD and DVD in
to VH1.com, the audience will be made up of about 200
family and friends and the concert "will likely feature guest
performers." Reportedly, Sting will perform "new arrangements
of Police classics and solo material." As a HUGE fan of The Police
going back to their days as a punk rock band, it sure would be cool if a
couple of those guests just happened to be Stewart Copeland and Andy
Summers. Speaking of which, when is Universal Music/A&M gonna get
off their butts and release The Police: The
Synchronicity Concert on DVD? Or ANY Police stuff for that
matter? I'd pay good money for that...
Moving on, here's
a Star Wars DVD story via our friends over at The
Force.net that's worth reading, even if you REALLY have to
file it in the "dubious rumor" category. According to one of
their sources, George Lucas may continue releasing Star
Wars movies on DVD in the meantime, but his ultimate plan is
to release an Achival Editions box
set of all six films on DVD when they're done. But these would be no
regular special editions. Reportedly, Lucas wants to shoot additional
scenes that would be added into the existing films (Phantom
Menace, Star Wars, Empire
Strikes Back and Return of the
Jedi). I guess the idea would be to tie the stories together
even more, by adding little details and scenes here and there. Once
again, this is VERY sketchy info, but it's an interesting idea none the
less. I guess we'll have to wait until 2006 to see. In the meantime,
here's to hoping that the original Star Wars
comes out on DVD next year in honor of the film's 25th Anniversary.
Maybe we'll learn more soon...