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page updated: 5/21/02



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 4/15/02 - 3/29/02)


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(LATE UPDATE - 4/15/02 - 12:15 PM PDT)

We've got additional word today on upcoming Buena Vista live action DVDs, in addition to those we mentioned earlier this morning. On July 2nd, look for Temptress Moon, The Harmonists and Kolya in addition to titles previouslly announced. On September 3rd, look for Captain Ron, Celtic Pride, The Program, The War at Home, Prefontaine, My Boyfriend's Back, Betsy's Wedding, Mr. Destiny, Disorganized Crime, Washington Square, Ernest Goes to Camp, Ernest Scared Stupid, Ernest Goes to Jail, Ernest Saves Christmas, First Do No Harm, The Puppet Masters, Indian Summer, Spaced Invaders, Aspen Extreme, Heartbreak Hotel, Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend, Cabin Boy, Gross Anatomy and Swing Kids. That same day, you'll also get Basquiat, Iris Blond, Children of Heaven, Hard Boiled, The Killer and Hidden Assassin. Then, on October 8th, look for Billy Bathgate, Houseguest, Kazaam, Alive, The Grifters, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Two Bits, Of Love and Shadows, Unhook the Stars, Since You've Been Gone, The Muppet Christmas Carol, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Honey, I Blew Up the Kids, Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves and Jungle 2 Jungle. Before you ask, there's no word yet on features on these discs, particularly whether or not they will be released in their original widescreen aspect ratios.

(EARLY UPDATE - 4/15/02 - 11:30 AM PDT)

We've updated the CEA DVD Player Sales charts today with player sales numbers from the last two weeks of March (245,433 and 359,241 units respectively). With those additions, the grand total for the format to date has officially passed 29 million DVD players in the United States. At this rate, the format is well on track to reach 40-45 million units by the end of the year. And THOSE are impressive numbers.

In news which some may find good (and others bad), Disney has officially acquired the theatrical and home video release rights to Hayao Miyazaki's animated feature Spirited Away, which has become the highest-grossing Japanese film of all time. That means you can expect it to find its way to DVD this year or early next year, following in the footsteps of Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke. Unfortunately , it also means that, like Mononoke, the DVD will probably be as thread-bare as a stripper on a Saturday night. You can read more on this via Yahoo.

And finally this morning, some upcoming release street dates. A&E will release The Saint, Volumes 5 & 6 on 5/28, with Space: 1999, Volumes 7 & 8 following on 6/25. Buena Vista will release Another Stakeout, Beaches, Big Business, Can't Buy Me Love, Cocktail, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Ed Wood, Loaded, Love Serenade, Preacher's Wife and Stakeout on 8/13, with Peter Pan II: Return to Neverland expected on 8/20. Columbia TriStar has added Mo' Money, Mountain Men, Snake in the Eagle's Shadow and Zebrahead to its 6/18 slate, with Gardens of Stone and Last Command due on 6/25. HBO will release The Vagina Monologues: Eve Ensler on 6/11. And Universal Music is releasing Rossini: La Cenerentol - Cecilia Bartoli on 4/23, The Carpenters: Greatest Hits on 4/30, 98 Degrees: The Collection and Blink 182: Uretha Chronicles #2 on 5/7 and Bryan Adams: Unplugged, Jethro Tull: Living in the Past and Mussorgsky: Boris Godunov on 5/14.

And I think we've mentioned this before, but here's just another reminder that DVD really is out of this world. Word is the crew of the International Space Station chills out when their work day is done by watching movies from the station's growing DVD library. This includes a complete set of Fox's Alien movies starring Sigourney Weaver. Says astronaut Dan Bursch, "I kind of thought the best one was the first one, and they kind of went downhill from there..." That's what we need... an astronaut review staffer for The Bits! Any of you space guys interested? ;-)

Stay tuned...

4/13/02

Here we are on a balmy Saturday afternoon for a rare weekend post. A lot of people have been asking us about Universal's recent DVD release of David Lynch's Mulholland Drive. So Todd wanted to address your questions about the disc:

Todd here. I just want to make two quick notes about Mulholland Drive. First, there are no chapter stops on the DVD. It's NOT a defect of the disc. Lynch has said in the past that films aren’t books and therefore shouldn't have chapters. His films will all be offered on DVD without chapter stops in the future. The old version of Blue Velvet is the exception, but that will be replaced soon. Second, there's the issue of the blurring of Laura Herring's nether region during the first love scene between Rita and Betty in Drive. I personally think it was done during the original theatrical printing and no one noticed. It's a very dark and quick shot - even my wife originally thought she saw something and when we went back she was shocked to see a quick blur. Even if it wasn't done theatrically and was done for the DVD, David Lynch himself said he did it personally and he did it to keep people from downloading and spreading the image online. On Lynch's own site he recently discussed the issue and when asked if the new Blue Velvet DVD will be censored as well (for Isabella Rossellini's full frontal nudity) he said no, because the technology wasn't available back then. Confusing, but I think with that statement he confirms that he did the blurring in Drive for the original prints of the film. As further fortification, I found a children's protection website (see this link) that notes an instance of "silhouette/shadowed nudity", and if they didn't catch full frontal nudity, then I believe it wasn't there.

Of course, if you feel the need to debate this issue, head over to our friends at Twin Peaks Gazette and their forum on the subject and debate away. Thanks to Jordan and The Gazette for pointing us to the forum.

Okay... Bill here again. One other thing I wanted to mention today - Columbia TriStar sent over this statement regarding their forthcoming Black Hawk Down DVD:

"As announced last week, Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment is releasing Black Hawk Down on DVD and videocassette on June 11. In addition, CTHE and director Ridley Scott are in the process of creating a special-edition DVD of the critically acclaimed film. In addition to the film itself and a behind-the scenes documentary, both of which are included on the June 11 DVD, this new special edition of Black Hawk Down will feature a wide range of added-value elements, including a feature-length commentary by Mr. Scott and other behind-the-scenes material that bring new insight into this important film. The release date for the special-edition DVD of Black Hawk Down will be announced in the future."

So there you go - don't say Columbia TriStar didn't warn you that another version is coming. I can tell you that some of the stuff they're putting into the TBA special edition is pretty amazing. I have no doubt it will be well worth the wait.

Okay - that's all. Have a great weekend and see you back here on Monday!

4/12/02

We're closing out the week today with more DVD reviews! We've got a look at Buena Vista's Dick Tracy from Greg, along with New Line's Highway and Warner's Thir13en Ghosts from Todd. And on Monday, watch for reviews of A&E's Shackleton and more.

Have a great weekend and stay tuned!

4/11/02

We've got a pair of new DVD reviews for you today. Dan Kelly's given Buena Vista's New Port South a spin, and I've got a look at HBO's upcoming Mr. Show with Bob and David: The Complete First and Second Seasons (street date: 6/11).

We've also got a couple of news items to report today. First up, Microsoft has officially chosen sides in the recordable DVD wars. They've come down on the DVD+RW side (joining Philips, Sony, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Ricoh, Yamaha and others). You can read more here. Also today, Sony has sued Apex for DVD patent infringement (you'll find that story here). As you may remember, Apex made those DVD players that could be made all region by a special "hidden" menu option.

Back with more reviews tomorrow. Stay tuned...

4/10/02

Widescreen advocates are up in arms with Buena Vista this week. A number of the studio's upcoming titles (among them Max Keeble's Big Move) are being released full frame only on DVD. According to calls to the studios consumer hotline (1-800-72-DISNEY), this is due to complaints from the masses (read: soccer moms) who don't like black bars. Scuttlebutt is that the final edict apparently came down from Eisner himself to give 'em what they ask for. Since the studio rarely includes both widescreen and full frame on the same disc, that means a choice must be made on a title by title basis. In recent conversations with studio representatives, only very kid-focused films will be released full frame only. Other titles, and particularly classics (like Pollyanna and the studio's other upcoming Disney live action classics), will all be in their original widescreen aspect ratio on DVD. Still, many DVD fans are concerned and even upset. Word is that the consumer hotline has been flooded for a couple days now with their complaints. Give 'em a call and let the mouse know how YOU feel if this is important to you. Just remember... be POLITE. You can also e-mail them at: disneyinfo@disneyhelp.com

In other news today, Synapse has announced the DVD release of Invasion USA (5/7) and Castle of Blood (7/2). Invasion USA (SRP $24.98) will include a brand new windowboxed (1.33:1) digital transfer, two original Civil Defense Department audio recordings on the alternate DVD audio tracks (The Complacent Americans & If the Bomb Falls: A Recorded Guide to Survival), the 1956 re-issue theatrical trailer, the original controversial “Red Scare” short film Red Nightmare (starring Jack Webb), the Conelrad 100: Film Encyclopedia of the Top 100 Best Atomic Films Ever Made and new video interviews with stars Dan O’Herlihy, William Schallert and Noel Neill, made specifically for this DVD release. Castle of Blood (also $24.98) will feature the uncensored international version containing scenes removed from the original U.S. theatrical release, a brand new digital 1.78:1 transfer enhanced for widescreen televisions, English and French audio with new English subtitles for the newly restored French language footage, the original U.S. theatrical trailer, the original U.S. opening credit sequence, a still gallery and liner notes from film historian Tim Lucas. Here's a look at the cover art for both titles...

Invasion USACastle of Blood

Also this afternoon, an update on The Final Countdown. Pacific Family Entertainment is now saying the disc will ship sometime this month. We'll see.

Stay tuned...

4/9/02

All right, I'm starting to feel more human again, so tomorrow's post will be more normal in terms of content. But I wanted to post a couple more quick notes today.

First of all, a lot of people have been wondering about Pacific Family Entertainment's The Final Countdown DVD, which was to have been shipped early this year but which still hasn't been received by those who ordered it. I wish I could help you on this, but PFE isn't returning my calls. There is some speculation that since the company handled promoting the title so poorly, they didn't get as many orders as they might have, and so had to wait until after they had received everyone's payment to have the discs pressed. The official story seems to be that there was an error in the disc that's being corrected. Be that as it may, a lot of people have been charged for the disc and PFE isn't being very good about letting them know the reason for the delay. In any case, if it starts shipping soon, I'll be sure to let you know.

In other news today, we've got more good resources for you to check out on the digital copyright issue I mentioned yesterday and the efforts to protect your rights of fair use. First up is the Home Recording Rights Coalition, which lobbies in Washington to protect your right to but and use audio and video recorders, players and computers. Next, you'll find DigitalConsumer.org useful in reading up on the issues and latest news. There's an FAQ, a consumer technology "Bill of Rights" and a list of ways you can get involved in the effort to protect them. Finally, there's news at USA Today online that a new HDTV advocacy group is being created to weigh in with Washington and the industry on behalf of consumers, particularly in an effort to kick the slow HDTV rollout in the pants. The story also talks about Hollywood's effort to frame the battle over copy protection as, "You're either in the camp of the pirates or in the camp of Hollywood." As DigitalConsumer.org co-founder Joe Kraus says, "There is a difference between copying and piracy. Making a copy of a song from your CD to take to the gym or in your car is not piracy." But not if the entertainment industry gets its way (here's one last link for you at MSNBC on the subject).

On that very note today, BMG has announced that it will begin using "copy-protected" CDs when it sends out discs for promotional purposes (click here for more). The problem with these CDs is that in some cases, the digital watermarking technology either detracts from the quality of the music or renders the disc unplayable in regular CD players and PC computer drives. When new CDs by Natalie Imbruglia and Celene Dion were rolled out in Europe last month, there were reports that some even crashed computers and damaged stereo equipment. The madness continues...

Thanks to Bits reader Frank T. for many of the links above!

And finally, the first people who took advantage of Universal's Jurassic Park bonus disc offer are starting to report that they're finally beginning to receive their discs. Just FYI.

Stay tuned...

4/8/02

Morning all! Hope you had a great weekend, and that you remembered the whole clock forward thing on Sunday. Nothing like losing an hour of sleep, but gaining an hour of daylight again!

I seem to have picked up a touch of the flu this weekend unfortunately, so today's post will be brief. But we do have word that at next week's National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show in Las Vegas, a new kind of DVD will be shown off - holographic DVD! InPhase's new storage format can hold as much as 100GB of data on a single disc. Other next-generation disc formats that will be on display include Matsushita's two-sided optical rewritable disc (using violet lasers) as well as Fluorescent Multi-layer Disc (FMD) technology. Both of those formats can handle data in the neighborhood of 100GB per disc as well. What does all this mean for you? Well... HD-DVD as a practical format is well on its way to becoming a reality. Click here for the whole story via CNet.

Also today, there's a good editorial over at Yahoo on a bill by Senator Fritz Hollings [D-S.C.], that would boost the growth of broadband by prohibiting the sale or distribution of almost all computer devices and software that display copyrighted work unless they include government-mandated copyright-protection restrictions. That's due to the belief that Hollywood's fear of making copyrighted content (read: movies) available online is what's causing all the problems. You should be very concerned about this, because if Hollywood gets its way, the online landscape will be a very different place.

There's an even better editorial on the issue of the entertainment industry and copyright in the digital age over at Arts & Farces. It's written by Michael Fraase, and I think it's a must read for everyone who loves digital entertainment, be it music on CDs, movies on DVDs or what have you. This is a huge issue, that will have a tremendous impact on the course of digital entertainment in the 21st Century. As citizens, you should decide how you feel about it and act accordingly. Here at The Bits, our feeling is that this effort by the entertainment industry to eliminate nearly all your rights as consumers of copyrighted digital entertainment is outrageous. You think Divx was bad? That's nothing compared to what's coming if this bill or others like it should pass. Whether you agree or not, you should definitely educate yourself about this issue - it's that important.

In other news this morning, there's word that the theatrical re-release of Steven Spielberg's E.T. has been a major bust. Despite all the hype surrounding the re-release, the film has taken in only $25 million in ticket sales in the last three weeks. Universal is now hoping the title will fare much better on DVD. And I believe it will... but making sure the DVD includes BOTH the new version and the original version is critical to winning over collectors (that is what is expected to happen according to recent comments by both Spielberg and producer Kathleen Kennedy). That's a piece of advice Star Wars creator George Lucas should heed as well, when he eventually delivers the original Trilogy on DVD (sometime after the release of Episode III). Film fans don't seem to have too much of a problem with filmmaker revisionism as long as the original theatrical experience is preserved as well. Although we at The Bits still think George's made Star Wars fans wait long enough for the original films on DVD. A basic, movie-only release would suit us just fine for now, until he has time to work on his super-deluxe DVD plans for the films. If Episode II is any good, we may have to start banging that drum again but good.

One last note this morning. A buddy of mine in the industry (whose opinion I trust) has seen a bunch of the new Spider-Man movie, and claims that what he's seen so far pretty much rocks. Can't wait for THAT disc! 2002 is shaping up to be a really amazing year for both rollercoaster/popcorn films and DVD! ;-)

Damn, look at that. And I planned to keep my comments brief today. Doh! Stay tuned...

4/5/02

We have word this afternoon on some major upcoming MGM titles for June and July. First up, look for the Rollerball: Special Edition on June 18th (SRP $26.98). The disc will feature anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, "the Horsemen" cast audio commentary, the Future Sport and Stunts of Rollerball featurettes, a Rollerball interactive yearbook, the Rob Zombie music video and more.

On June 25th, MGM will release A Rumor of Angels (SRP $22.50) with anamorphic widescreen and full frame video and Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround audio. And in July, the two main new DVD releases you can look for are No Such Thing and the Hart's War: Special Edition. Both of those should be announced in a couple of weeks. A lot of previously released MGM DVDs will be repriced in July as well.

Here's a look at the cover artwork for a few of the above titles...

Hart's War: Special EditionRollerball: Special Edition

A Rumor of Angels

Also this morning, we've got tentative details on some of the specs for a few recently announced Buena Vista DVDs. The Shipping News (6/18 - $29.99) will include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, the Dive Beneath the Surface of the Shipping News featurette, a photo archive and audio commentary with the filmmakers. In the Bedroom (8/13 - $29.99) will include anamorphic widescreen video an Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, along with a French audio track. And Iris (8/20 - $29.99) will feature anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, a French track and the A Look at Iris featurette. All other features are TBA.

In other news, Paramount has set 6/18 as the street date for its Orange County. As we've mentioned in The Rumor Mill recently (on 3/15 and 3/26), I Love Lucy - Season One, Volumes 1 & 2 will street on 7/2, along with Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius.

And finally today, we've got some new DVD reviews for you, including Todd's look at New Line's Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me and Universal's Mulholland Drive, as well as Dan's take on New Line's Bones: Platinum Edition and Greg's review of all three versions of The Usual Suspects from MGM and Polygram (including the new special edition). And with those new entries, we're proud to say that The Digital Bits has officially topped 1,000 DVD reviews. Enjoy!

Have a great weekend!

(LATE UPDATE - 4/4/02 - 11:30 AM PST)

A couple more things for you today... we've got artwork for Warner's 2-disc V: The Final Battle DVD which streets later this year (date TBA).

V: The Final Battle

We've also confirmed that the studio will release a Blazing Saddles: Special Edition DVD sometime in 2002 as well, along with Strange Brew, new Poltergeist and Gremlins DVDs, Gremlins 2 and Meet Me in St. Louis. Good news to be sure!

In other news, we've contacted Buena Vista and be aware that there is no delay in shipments of Dick Tracy on their end. It may just be that some retailers are slow to get them out to stores and on to shelves.

And finally, speak of Buena Vista we've updated The Rumor Mill with word of their upcoming Walt Disney Treasures, Wave 2 DVDs, which are expected late in 2002!

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 4/4/02 - 12:01 AM PST)

We've got details for you this morning on a pair of newly announced DVD releases. First up is Miramax's Amélie, which is due on July 16th (SRP $29.99). Look for anamorphic widescreen video, French Dolby Digital 5.1 audio with optional English subtitles, The Amélie Effect and A Look at Amélie featurettes, The Fantasies of Audrey Tautou, Q&A with the director and cast, cast audition footage, a storyboard comparison, An Intimate Chat with Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Inside the Making of Amélie home movies, the A Quai music video, trailers and TV spots, The Amélie Scrapbook featuring behind-the-scenes photos and artwork, The Garden Gnome's Travels and storyboards and more. Note that many of the video extras are in the original French audio, with English subtitles.

Also on the way is Lion's Gate's Monster's Ball, which streets on June 11th (SRP $24.99). The disc will feature anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, audio commentary by director Marc Forster and director of photography Roberto Schaefer, a second audio commentary by Halle Berry, Billy Bob Thornton and director Marc Forster, deleted scenes, outtakes, the Making of the Music featurette, the theatrical trailer and more. Gotta say, I'm really looking forward to that actors' commentary. Bravo to Halle and Billy Bob for agreeing to do it.

In other upcoming DVD news, we've gotten word that USA's already announced releases of Gosford Park and Orgazmo have been put on temporary hold. As we've mentioned recently, USA Home Entertainment is being folded into Universal, which is re-evaluating the release dates for the USA's previously announced titles. Look for new street dates to be announced soon.

Those of you waiting for Digital Cinema to make film go the way of the dodo at your local cineplex will be happy to learn that a new coalition of Hollywood's seven major studios has been formed to establish technology standards (see this link for details via Yahoo). There are a lot of issues to be resolved, including just who will fund the conversion of theaters to digital. Current digital projectors cost more than $150,000 each, but that price is expected to decline as manufacturing gets more active. Right now, only 27 screens here in the U.S. are so equipped, a number that's expected to rise at least slightly in time for the May 16th debut of Star Wars: Episode II, which is the first major film to be shot totally digitally (click here for more on that from MSNBC). Those of you who have seen a digital projection know that while it doesn't look quite as good as film yet, the day will come (sometime in the not too distant future) when it's film's equal. You can't beat the fact that the film looks great every time you see it, free of scratches and other wear and projection related problems. And you guys thought it was just TV that was going digital!

Speaking of digital projection, film critic and famous thumb Roger Ebert's not exactly a fan of the trend (read his rant on the subject here). Gotta say, I couldn't disagree with you more, Roger. I appreciate your points, but I know you agree with my belief that desktop digital filmmaking is allowing a whole new generation of young filmmakers to express themselves, injecting the industry with a badly needed hit of creativity. Sure, some will suck like bad cable access, and there will be way too many Star Wars & Star Trek fan films. But one only needs to look at such big-budget studio fare as Battlefield: Earth to realize that Hollywood's already perfected the art of sucking with $100 million budgets. Who knows? The next Kubrick, Kurosawa or Spielberg might be reading these very words. And digital projection is only the natural extension of that process. Maybe it's been a while since you've been to a theater where 20 screens are being run by one poorly paid, teenaged projectionist, but projection quality is really suffering at a lot of places these days. All that said, I'd love to see that MaxiVision48 system myself. ;-)

Speaking of Episode II, the line at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood officially begins this evening at 7 PM PST, just FYI. No kidding (click here for details). 42 days and counting...

And finally this morning, we've added more new Upcoming DVD Cover Art for you to enjoy (on pages 4, 5, 9 & 10), including Monster's Ball, Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season Four, S.O.B., Victor/Victoria, Skin Deep, South Park: Insults to Injuries, Wolfen, Time After Time, the rest of the Warner art from yesterday, the final Kate & Leopold art and new temp art for other titles yet to be announced (but slated for this year) including the Star Trek II: Collector's Edition, E.T. and A Beautiful Mind.

A big shout out to all our DVD homies. And for you readers in the Holy Land on both sides of this mess (and I know there are at least a few of you), please keep your heads down and stay safe. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 4/3/02 - 1:30 PM PST)

One last post today barring some surprise announcement. We've got the final DVD artwork for Columbia TriStar's Black Hawk Down movie-only edition (6/11), along with a sneak peek at artwork for a trio of upcoming Warner DVDs (street date TBA) - Clash of the Titans, Collateral Damage and The Majestic. Enjoy!

Black Hawk DownClash of the Titans

Collateral DamageThe Majestic

You'll also be happy to learn that Warner plans to release The Iron Giant: Special Edition and a Gremlins: Special Edition later this year, along with DVD editions of Time After Time and Wolfen.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 4/3/02 - 11 AM PST)

We've gotten details on Columbia TriStar's Black Hawk Down DVD (street date 6/11). The initial release will be basically a movie-only edition, including anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, an On the Set featurette, theatrical trailers and filmographies (SRP $27.96). Fans of the film may want to hold off however, as a more elaborate special edition version of the film on DVD is already in the works for late in the year or early next year. You'll get audio commentaries and lots more if you're patient. Just FYI.

Columbia TriStar's DVD release strategy these days seems to follow this pattern - a standard edition initial release, followed by a special edition later and eventually a SuperBit or SuperBit Deluxe release for some select titles. And that would be fine... if they told you they were doing it so you could wait for the version you want, rather than buying multiple versions of the same film on DVD. Is it driving anyone else crazy? Let's hope this doesn't hold true for Panic Room and Spider-Man.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 4/3/02 - 10:30 AM PST)

A lot of people have been asking why they can't find Buena Vista's Dick Tracy DVD in stores this week (it was supposed to street yesterday). I'm looking into this with the studio as we speak, but I expect the disc to arrive in stores any day. We've gotten a few e-mails from readers who have gotten copies at CostCo stores, just FYI. But you'll be happy to learn that when you do get your hands on the disc, you'll find both Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 audio options AND anamorphic widescreen video. I checked this myself, with my copy. Watch for a review soon.

Also this morning, we've got word on Columbia TriStar's 2-disc Starship Troopers: Special Edition DVD (street date 5/28, SRP $27.95). The disc will include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, audio commentary by Paul Verhoeven and cast members, a second commentary by Paul Verhoeven and Ed Neumeier, the film's isolated Score, cast and crew filmographies, deleted scenes, the Death from Above documentary, a "behind-the-scenes" featurettes, screen tests, scene deconstructions by Paul Verhoeven and special effects comparisons for eight sequences. Hoo-rah, marines!

And here's a cool surprise - Wellspring is working to replace Fox Lorber's crappy old DVD version of Akira Kurosawa's Ran with a new Ran: Masterworks Edition. No word yet on features (except 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen video), and the disc won't be available until 2003... UNLESS you happen to preorder their Limited Edition Kurosawa Collection boxed set which is only available on Amazon.com (street date 9/9 - SRP $129.98 - Amazon's price is $99.89). This 3-disc set will include the Ran: Masterworks Edition, along with Madadayo and the Kurosawa documentary (Madadayo is already out and Kurosawa streets separately on 4/23). You'll also get a Ran mini-poster, 4 5x7 photographs, a multi-page booklet, a Japanese-style miniature shoji screen and a certificate of authenticity. Only 5,000 numbered limited edition sets will be made, so pre-order yours quick! Thanks to Jason M. for the heads up!

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 4/2/02 - 4 PM PST)

To finish off our update for today, we've got lots more Upcoming DVD Cover Artwork for you to check out. Almost every page of the section has been updated with new art, including Thumbtanic, Not Another Teen Movie, Macbeth, Corky Romano, Memento: Limited Edition, Men in Black: Deluxe Edition, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town: Keepsake Edition, Starship Troopers: Special Edition, Muppet Treasure Island, The Shipping News, 20 Million Miles to Earth, Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season Three, The Imposter, Tarzan & Jane, the new SuperBit titles, The Lord of the Rings and more. We've also got temporary artwork in place for titles like Black Hawk Down and Amelie that have been announced, but that have no official cover art yet. Enjoy!

Zatoichi 1: The Tale of ZatoichiZatoichi 2: The Tale of Zatoichi Continues

Also this afternoon, we've got details on Home Vision's planned DVD release of Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman. The first five episodes (of seventeen total) will be released this year, including 1. Zatoichi Monogatari (The Life and Opinion of Masseur Ichi), 2. Zoku Zatoichi Monogatari (The Return of Masseur Ichi), 3. Shin Zatoichi Monogatari (Masseur Ichi Enters Again), 4. Zatoichi Kyo Jyo Tabi (Masseur Ichi, the Fugitive) and 5. Zatoichi Kenka-Tabi (Zatoichi on the Road). The first two titles (see artwork above) will street on May 14th, with the other three following in October and the rest in 2003. Expect each disc to include restored video in the original aspect ratio, remixed sound, a collectable poster and a stills gallery (SRP $19.95 each). More details will follow when they become available.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 4/2/02 - 1:30 PM PST)

We've got official street dates on several Oscar-nominated Buena Vista titles. Look for Amélie on 7/16, In the Bedroom on 8/13 and Iris on 8/20.

And there are lots of other recently announced DVDs too. Columbia TriStar upcoming titles include Mr. Deeds Goes to Town: Keepsake Edition (5/21), Real Genius (6/11) and 20 Million Miles to Earth (6/25). A&E has added The Avengers '68, Sets 3 & 4 to its 4/30 slate. Artisan will release John Wayne's Dakota on 5/21. HBO's War Stories is coming on 5/21 (and yes, they will release Band of Brothers on DVD later this year). Trimark will bow Monster's Ball on 6/11. MPI has a Dark Shadows 4-disc set due on 5/28 (DAMN I'd love to see that!). And Rhino will release Death Machines and Super Chick on 5/14.

Around the site today, we've updated the AFI Top 100 Films on DVD list (to make red The African Queen) and the CEA DVD Player Sales chart (with March week 3 numbers), so do check them out.

Back soon with more...

(EARLY UPDATE - 4/2/02 - 12:01 AM PST)

Okay... I'm officially falling out of my seat laughing. I can't believe how many e-mails I got from people either complaining about the features on the A Beautiful Mind: Collector's Edition Full Screen DVD Interactive Playset, or excited about the Supertrain DVD "news". Seriously, I'm not kidding - a lot of people didn't get that it was an April Fools joke. Which, frankly, is funnier than the joke itself as far as we're concerned! Go back and read it a little closer folks... ;-)

We'll be back later this morning with our usual post. Stay tuned.

4/1/02

Hey, gang! Hope you all had a great holiday weekend. In the spirit of the day today (wink!), we've just gotten the complete list of details on Universal's forthcoming A Beautiful Mind: Collector's Edition Full Screen DVD Interactive Playset, which streets on 6/12 (SRP $99.95).

A Beautiful Mind: Collector's Edition Full Screen DVD Interactive Playset

Special features include a new high-definition, digital transfer of the PG-13, 134-minute cut in rental friendly full screen (1.33:1 aspect ratio - because Blockbuster demanded it), custom "pop-up" playset packaging recreating three scenes from the film: John's Game Theory (move the characters in on the cute blonde girl), Charles and John Desk Throw (Charles and John throw a desk out of a window) and John and the Baby (move Alicia to the tub to take the baby out of the water), HBO Spotlight on Location featurette, 3 deleted scenes (including John and Bender sharing an intimate kiss, a conversation between William Parcher and John about John's fear of deli meat and Clint Howard playing one of John imaginary friends), Gag Reel (featuring Russell Crowe and company breaking out in hysterics while Ron Howard talks about directing Eat My Dust), Crowe meets Nash featurette (featuring Russell Crowe meeting John Nash for the first time and the subsequent "altercation"), Make-Up Application and Design featurette (showing the elaborate Oscar nominated make-up work of Greg Cannom), Window Math photo gallery (an in-depth look at the window math created by the set department with Do Your Own Window Math tutorial), Visual Effects breakdown for "Pentagon Office" sequence, the Are You Schizophrenic, Are You Schizophrenic Too? featurette (Dr. Harold Rosenfeld walks you through a series of Rorschach Tests to help you both determine if you might need professional help), My Mind is Beautiful music video by Dwight Yoakam, Beautiful Day music video by U2, multi-angle footage of John Nash's actual Nobel Prize acceptance speech and Russell Crowe as Nash giving same speech from film, complete text of Russell Crowe's BFI Best Actor acceptance speech including his reading of Sanctity by Patrick Kavanagh, John Nash's Top 10 Rejected Truly Original Ideas, 2 Universal Theme Park commercials, By the Numbers fact sheet, theatrical trailer, production notes, cast and crew bios, recommended titles, DVD newsletter, John's Playhouse section with human calculator game and secret code Easter eggs (look through magazine articles for clues to unlocking additional bonus material on the DVD), How to Find Things on This DVD menu instructional overview, Ron Howard's Baseball Caps interactive dress-up game, DVD-ROM features (including A Beautiful Mind X-Box "first person shooter" game demo, weblinks and screen savers), DVS (Descriptive Video Service) audible menu navigation feature, animated film-themed menu screens with sound, audio in English (DD & DTS 5.1) and French (DD 5.1) and English subtitles. The packaging also includes a wax crayon and a set of collectible, limited edition flash cards depicting potential imaginary friends of your very own. Should be a hoot! ;-)

Also this afternoon, there's very nearly unreliable word that a classic NBC TV series may be on its way to DVD... Supertrain: The Complete First and Only Season! More on that next April 1st.

And in a more reality-based note today (seriously), there's word that Warner is planning a restored DVD re-release of Singin' in the Rain for the film's 50th Anniversary. Look for the disc to include a new documentary as well, and to street this fall. Click here for more on this via Yahoo.

One last note... our e-mail's been a little buggy this weekend and today, so be patient if you're trying to contact us.

Stay tuned...

3/29/02

All right. First up, Greg and Dan have checked in this afternoon with a pair of new DVD reviews - Dimension's Iron Monkey and New Line's Gummo.

Also today, our own Todd Doogan's got another Doogan's Views column for you. This week, he debuts the first of our new videogame reviews, this time for the XBox. Todd looks at All Star Baseball 2003, Blood Wake, Dead or Alive 3, Genma Onimusha and RalliSport Challenge. Once a month he'll take a look at more games, and every now and then we'll review PS2 and GameCube titles as well. Look for those in the new videogame section of our Review Page.

Todd's also got his List of 10 DVDs Coming Next Week, so be sure to check it out.

We've been getting a few e-mails from readers mentioning that the Region 2 press releases for The Lord of the Rings 4-disc edition claim that DTS will be on the discs. These readers are therefore assuming it's a certainly that DTS will be on the discs. Keep in mind that... well, DVD spec information often gets released awfully early in R2. In my opinion, far too early to be accurate. New Line is still working on these discs. They've indicated that their plan is to add DTS on the 4-disc set, but this is only tentative at the moment. They'll confirm when they can. Unless the people who wrote the press releases in R2 are working on the discs, which I very much doubt, I'd say we ought to give New Line the benefit of the doubt and just be patient. I know that's tough for some to do, but there it is.

Now then... please have a safe and happy holiday weekend, whether you celebrate Easter or Passover or what have you. Don't eat too much candy, give your loved ones a hug and take the time to really appreciate what's most important to you. See you back here on Monday. ;-)


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