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page updated: 7/18/02



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 6/10/02 - 5/6/02)


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(LATE UPDATE - 6/10/02 - 2:30 PM PDT)

In other TV news today, you Doctor Who fans will be happy to know that Warner is releasing a lot more episodes of the classic British TV series this fall. On 8/6, look for The Ark in Space and The Tomb of the Cybermen. Then on 10/3, look for The Pirate Planet, The Power of Kroll, The Ribos Operation, The Stones of Blood, The Android of Tara and The Armageddon Factor (SRP $24.98 each). The 10/3 set will be available in a Doctor Who: The Key to Time giftset as well (SRP $124.98).

Also this afternoon, we've got word in The Rumor Mill about New Line's Blade II from our retailer sources, as well as Warner's Queen of the Damned.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 6/10/02 - 9:45 AM PDT)

Good news today for you Babylon 5 fans. News that the series was in production for DVD leaked via the rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated newsgroup group, so creator/executive producer J. Michael Straczynski this weekend confirmed that Warner and company are working on the first season of the TV series for DVD release this fall. Here's a quote:

"Season One will be out in a boxed set this Fall, and they're going to be including at minimum two commentaries from me, probably on Signs and Portents and Chrysalis (it's a matter of how much time and energy I can give to it given that there's no fees involved and I'm in the midst of Jeremiah), and if possible, Babylon Squared, maybe Sky Full of Stars. They'd also like to film an on-camera intro by me (but I guess folks will buy it anyway, even with that particular horror included). They're pulling together a lot of stuff on this release so that there are plenty of extras this time around, now that the value of the DVDs has been shown by the first release."

Should be very cool indeed. We'll have to wait for Warner's official announcement for the complete details. I might not have cared for Harry Potter, but I have to give Warner a LOT of credit - they've got some great stuff in the works these days. Thanks to Bits reader Geruk G. for the heads up.

And in other news this morning, the official Lord of the Rings website has released a partial list of the specs for their upcoming 4-disc extended edition (due 11/12). Here's what we know so far:

Discs One & Two - The Film

A unique, 208-minute version of the epic adventure (with over 30 minutes of never-before-seen footage incorporated into the film and new music scored by Academy Award-winning composer Howard Shore) in anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) with Dolby Digital EX 5.1, DTS ES 6.1 and Stereo Surround audio, four audio commentaries by the director and writers, the design team, the production team and the cast featuring more than 30 participants (including Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen and Academy Award winners Richard Taylor, Andrew Lesnie, Howard Shore, Jim Rygiel, Randy Cook… and many more).

Disc Three - From Book to Vision

Includes features on adapting the book into a screenplay an planning the film, designing and building Middle-earth, storyboards to pre-visualization, a visit to the Weta Workshop (an up-close look at the weapons, armor, creatures and miniatures from the film), an Atlas of Middle-earth (tracing the journey of the Fellowship), an interactive map of New Zealand highlighting the location scouting process, galleries of art and slideshows with commentaries by the artists, a guided tour of the wardrobe department, footage from early meetings, moving storyboards and pre-visualization reels and much more.

Disc Four - From Vision to Reality

Includes features on bringing the characters to life, a look at a day in the life of a hobbit, principal photography: stories from the set, Scale: creating the illusion of size, galleries of behind-the-scenes photographs and personal cast photos, editorial and visual effects multi-angle progressions, a sound design demonstration and much more.

Once again, these are only some of the confirmed features that will be found on the 4-discs of this set. And already, the set's looking like a potential best release of 2002. Stay tuned for more official details from New Line as they're announced.

Back later with more... same Bat channel...

(LATE UPDATE - 6/7/02 - 3 PM PDT)

We've got a couple more CONFIRMED details for you on the E.T. Ultimate Collector's Gift Set. The set WILL INCLUDE ALL of the extras that are on the Limited Collector's Edition DVD (basically, you get the same disc), along with the original theatrical version of the film on a separate disc, the script, the soundtrack CD and the senitype. Both versions of the film in the Gift Set will be anamorphic widescreen, in case you were wondering. And again, this is direct from Universal.

Also this afternoon, we've gotten additional word that New Line's The Lord of the Rings: the Fellowship of the Ring - Special Extended Edition 4-disc set (due 11/12) WILL feature a DTS ES 6.1 soundtrack in addition to the Dolby Digital EX 5.1 option. The studio has yet to officially confirm this, however, so we'll have to wait and see if this holds up.

Now then, we've got a trio of new DVD reviews for you today. From Universal, we've got Dan Kelly's take on the Gosford Park: Collector's Edition (street date: 6/25) and a long-overdue look at The Mummy: Ultimate Edition from Adam. We've also got Dan's take on New Line's Happy Campers (street date: 6/18).

More upcoming DVD announcements: Artisan has set National Lampoon's Van Wilder for release on 8/20 (in both R and Unrated versions). Columbia TriStar has announced Maggie and the Ferocious Beast for 8/6, Brotherhood of Satan, Curse of the Demon, 976-EVIL, Last Orders, The New Guy and Pauline and Paulette for 8/13 and The Sweetest Thing for 8/20. HBO has added Dandelion Dead and Rumpole of the Bailey: The Complete First and Second Seasons for 8/27. 20th Century Fox will release Kissing Jessica Stein on 8/13. Warner will debut Showtime on 8/13, with Queen of the Damned and Are You Being Served, Volumes 1-6 following on 8/27, and Alaska, Amazing Panda Adventure, Barfly, Cats Don't Dance, Deja Vu, Enemies: A Love Story, Gypsy Moths, Little Big League, Oliver Twist (1974 - animated), Ninth Configuration, Sheltering Sky, Treasure Island (1973 - animated), Wanderers, South Park: Ghouls, Ghosts and Underpants Gnomes and The Yearling all following on 9/3.

Also, Image Entertainment's August releases will include Alanis Morrisette: Live in the Navajo Nation, Hercules in the Haunted World, Man of the Century: Special Edition, Mighty Gorga/One Million AC/DC, Speed Gone Wild: Deadly Decisions, Speed Gone Wild: Killer Krashes, Speed Gone Wild: Maximum Impact, Thumb Wars/Thumbtantic: Double Feature and Unearthly (on 8/6), The Day it Came to Earth, Deep Purple: Perihelion, The Giant Gila Monster, Kronos Quartet: Kronos on Stage and Love Reinvented (on 8/13), Copacabana, Hyper Police #1, Revenge of the Stolen Stars and Todd Rundgren: Live in Japan (on 8/20) and Dave Mason: Live at Sunrise, Deftones: Live in Hawaii, Diary of a Nudist/Naked Venus, Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jac DeJohnette: Standards, Notorious Concubines, Secret Sex Life of Romeo and Juliet/Notorious Cleopatra, Sideswalks of Bangkok and Verdi: Il Trovatore (on 8/27).

And finally this afternoon, we've launched our next Trivia Contest, which will give you all a chance to take home a copy of HBO's Sex and the City: The Complete Third Season on DVD.

Have a great weekend, everyone, and we'll see you back here on Monday morning!

(EARLY UPDATE - 6/7/02 - 10:30 AM)

We thought you guys would enjoy a look at the cover artwork for a couple major upcoming DVDs from Warner - the Friends: The Complete Second Season box (9/3) and Ken Burns' The Civil War box from PBS via Warner (9/17).

Friends: The Complete Second SeasonKen Burns' The Civil War

We've talked about Friends before, but The Civil War will include the original full frame video, audio commentary with director Ken Burns, a newly remastered Dolby Digital 5.1 audio mix, the Behind the Scenes: The Civil War Reconstruction documentary, interviews with Civil War scholars George Will, Shelby Foote and Stanley Crouch, biography cards and interactive maps (SRP $129.98).

Just FYI, we'll have a lot more new artwork for you next week.

We've also got word today that Buena Vista's upcoming Ed Wood DVD (8/13 - SRP $19.99) will include anamorphic widescreen video, a music video, the Pie Plates Over Hollywood featurette and (best of all) audio commentary with director Tim Burton and actor Martin Landau.

Finally, we've got something for you Beatles fans this morning too. The 2-disc A Hard Day's Night: Collector's Series arrives on DVD from Miramax on 9/2 (SRP $29.99). Expect "enhanced picture", "new footage" and the "digitally restored soundtrack". We'll post official details when they become available.

A Hard Day's Night: Collector's Series

Back with more this afternoon...

(LATE UPDATE - 6/6/02 - 2 PM PDT)

We're very pleased this afternoon to bring you the second part of Robert Harris's continuing series of special features here at The Digital Bits. This time around, Robert discusses about the death of DIVX, the growth of DVD and the early history of color processes used in filmmaking. We think you'll find it fascinating as always... and you'll even learn a thing or two along the way. So, with that, we give you Home Theater: An Archaeology - Part Two. Enjoy!

One other quick note - we've revised our E.T. DVD information for greater accuracy. Please check the Noon post again. Sorry for the confusion, but at the time we first posted the story, we hadn't yet received Universal's official press release. Here's a look at the cover artwork for the 2-disc E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: Limited Collector's Edition:

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: Limited Collector's Edition

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 6/6/02 - Noon PDT)

We've got word today that Universal's forthcoming E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: Limited Collector's Edition DVD (which is expected on 10/22 - SRP $29.95 - available in dual widescreen and full frame formats) will be a 10-week only limited release. The 2-disc set will include the new anniversary version of the film, along with some 10 hours of extras. You'll get video of director Steven Spielberg talking about the film (20 Years Later with Steven Spielberg), deleted scenes, composer John Williams' score on an isolated audio track and video of him conducting a 100-piece orchestra at this year's premiere, a 50-minute The Evolution of E.T. documentary, the cast & crew Reunion Featurette, galleries of production photos and artwork and more. There will also be an E.T. Ultimate Collector's Gift Set that same day ($69.98 SRP), which will include BOTH the original theatrical version and the 2002 theatrical version, along with the CD soundtrack, the original script and a collectible senitype. This more expensive set is the ONLY way to get both versions of the film. Just more must-have discs in an already crowded 4th quarter. It's gonna get VERY expensive this holiday season for you DVD fans.

Also, we're getting reports from readers who have contacted Pacific Family Entertainment in the last 24 hours, who are being told that, in fact, The Final Countdown DVDs have NOT been shipped yet. So frankly, we have no idea what's up with this title. And we're pretty sure PFE doesn't either, because it appears their customer service people are the source of the conflicting information. One thing we do know for sure - this disc has been a major cluster-%#@! right from the start. Too bad Image or Synapse couldn't have gotten the rights. This could be a really hot-selling little DVD if PFE could just get their ducks in a row...

Back with more soon - stay tuned!

6/5/02

You fans of The Dave Matthews Band will be pleased to learn that when they release their next album, Busted Stuff, on July 11th, the CD will come with a bonus DVD disc as well that will include live footage of DMB performing the track When the World Ends, an audio clip of Bartender live, and a 5.1 audio mix of the studio version of Bartender. The CD disc will also feature the ROM ability to unlock a special online website with more exclusive content from the band. A similar DVD disc was also included with Eminem's new album. All this is being done by RCA in an effort to give fans (and music consumers) more value for their money when buying CDs, and therefore to fight digital piracy. We think it's a pretty swell idea... as long as they don't start charging more for the discs. You can read more here via Billboard.

In other news, Buena Vista has been allowed by Major League Baseball to include footage of the real Jim Morris's big-league debut with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 1999, in the extras of the upcoming DVD of The Rookie (due 8/27). The film stars Dennis Quaid as Morris, who was a high-school baseball coach before he got a late shot at the majors. Other extras will include deleted scenes, audio commentary by Quaid and director John Lee Hancock, real coaches providing tips on pitching and hitting and a featurette on the real Morris. I saw this film in theaters and darned if it wasn't pretty good. Should be a fun disc. Read more on this here via Yahoo.

Also this morning, there's word that the official debut of D-VHS is near. The first four titles are expected to launch on June 10th, including DreamWorks' The Peacemaker, Fox's X-Men, Universal's U-571 and Artisan's Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Each is expected to SRP for $35 to $45 each. Other titles on the way include The Haunting, Galaxy Quest, Independence Day, Fight Club, Backdraft, End of Days, The Terminator and Dirty Dancing. Click here to read more. We at The Digital Bits expect to begin reviewing D-VHS titles soon, so watch for that in the coming weeks.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 6/4/02 - 1:30 PM PDT)

We're back with those reviews for you. First up is Adam Jahnke's take on both versions of Columbia TriStar's Memento on DVD. Next, we have Dan Kelly's take on New Line's An Affair of Love. And finally, we round things out with Adam's look at MGM's The Magnificent Seven: Special Edition.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 6/4/02 - 11:15 AM PDT)

Morning everyone! Okay, we've got a quick correction from yesterday. We had posted that MGM would be releasing Original Sin on 9/3. Many of you correctly pointed out that the disc has already been out since March of this year. What we meant to say is that on 9/3, both versions of the disc will be repriced to an SRP of $14.95 (from the current $26.98).

Also this morning, we've got word that Artisan's Reservoir Dogs: Ten Years Special Edition (due on 8/27 - SRP $26.98) will actually boast FIVE different outer covers. In addition to Mr. White, Mr. Blonde, Mr. Pink and Mr. Orange, you'll be able to get Mr. Brown (Quentin Tarantino) too. Thanks for the e-mails on that.

We also want to mention today that, according to a number of readers, Pacific Family Entertainment began sending out final copies of The Final Countdown on DVD (to those who ordered it) this weekend. Now... let me be clear that this is second-hand information, received from people who called PFE to find out what was up with the disc, and that's what they were told. PFE's customer service on this disc has been pretty much a disaster from the start, so I'd take this with a grain of salt. That said, if any of you do start receiving your discs (for real this time), let us know so we can post it here.

In other news, Warner's announced details on their Collateral Damage DVD, which arrives on 7/30 (SRP $26.98). In addition to anamorphic widescreen video and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, look for audio commentary by director Andrew Davis, 2 documentaries (HBO: First Look and The Hero in a New Era, featuring interviews with Schwarzenegger, Davis and the producers), additional scenes, the theatrical trailer and more.

And finally, we've announced the winners of our Mr. Show Trivia Contest. The next contest will start soon, so be sure to check back.

We'll return with a trio of DVD reviews this afternoon, so stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 6/3/02 - 12:15 PM PDT)

More new DVD announcements today. MGM will release Deuces Wild on 8/6 (SRP $26.98) with director's commentary and both full frame and anamorphic widescreen video. And that same day, the studio will debut The Business of Strangers (SRP $22.50) with both full frame and anamorphic widescreen video.

A&E has also announced UFO, Set 1 (7/30 - SRP $79.95), complete with the first 13 episodes of the series on 4 discs. For you die-hard Thunderbirds fans, there's The Complete Thunderbirds DVD Megaset (also 7/30 - SRP $179.95), which features all 32 episodes in full frame with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio on 12 discs, along with interviews, a documentary short, photo galleries and more. Finally, A&E will deliver The History Channel's Founding Brothers on 7/30 (SRP $39.95).

And for you anime fans, Bandai will release Escaflowne on 7/23 (SRP $29.98). That same day, you'll also be able to get the Escaflowne: Limited Edition (3-discs, SRP $54.98).

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 6/3/02 - 11:30 AM PDT)

Okay... we've got a MASSIVE upcoming DVD announcement update for you this morning, so pay close attention. ;-)

To start with, there's a lot of new TV product on the way. Columbia TriStar is debuting Sanford & Son: The First Season on 8/6 (SRP $29.95). The 2-disc set will contain all 13 episodes from the show's first year. The studio will also be releasing The Jeffersons: The Complete First Season on 8/6 ($29.95), again on 2-discs with 13 episodes total. There are no extras to speak of, but fans of either show probably won't mind given how surprising it is for them to be released on disc at all.

Anyone want to turn the world on with their smile? Well, Fox is giving it their best by releasing The Mary Tyler Moore Show: Season One on DVD on 9/24. Produced by series star Ed Asner, his son Matthew and Danny Gold, the 4-disc set features all 24 episodes from the first season of the series, along with a feature length documentary on the making of the show, a trivia challenge, audio commentary (for 3 episodes), original CBS promos and more. SRP is $49.98.

A&E has revealed details on more of their British TV offerings. Space: 1999, Sets 7 & 8 will be released on 6/25 (SRP $39.95) completing the release of the series on DVD. In addition, A&E will also debut Captain Scarlet: The Complete Set on 6/25, which will feature all 32 episodes of the show (SRP $79.95). The set will include audio commentary by creator Gerry Anderson on 2 episodes, photos and artwork, vehicle guides and character bios and more.

Not to be outdone, Warner's released details on their 4-disc Friends: The Complete Second Season DVD (street date 9/3), which includes all 24 episodes, each containing additional, never-before-seen footage (SRP $69.98). Special features include commentary from the show's producers (Kevin S. Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane) on 2 episodes, Open House at Monica and Rachel's (an interactive tour of their apartment), Friends of Friends (a video guide to season two's special guest appearances), a How Well Do You Know Your Friends? video trivia challenge, video character bios and a DVD-ROM link to the Friends website.

On the non-TV front, Universal has checked in with word of their Elvis: His Best Friend Remembers DVD, which will street on 7/30. Look for it to include hundreds of rarely-seen photos, home movies, press conferences, film clips, newsreels, classic performances and interviews with Elvis' best friend, "Diamond Joe" Esposito, and others.

New Line is releasing the John Q: Infinifilm Edition on 7/16 (SRP $26.98). The disc will include audio commentary by the director, screenwriter, DP and producer, along with actress Kimberly Elise, deleted and alternate scenes, the theatrical trailer and press kit, the script-to-screen feature (and other ROM content) and 2 documentaries (Behind the Scenes of John Q and Fighting for Care). Video is anamorphic widescreen and audio will be DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1.

Artisan will debut their Reservoir Dogs: Ten Years Special Edition on 8/27 (SRP $26.98). The set will be available with four different versions of the outer packaging, one each for Mr. White, Mr. Blonde, Mr. Pink and Mr. Orange. Inside, they'll all feature the same keep case art. The 2-disc set will include anamorphic widescreen and full frame video, DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, a new interview with director Quentin Tarantino and actors Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Chris Penn, Steve Buscemi, Michael Madsen and others, deleted scenes, new documentaries and featurettes and more.

And in other news, Anchor Bay will release Delirium, Demons of the Mind, Hitch-Hike, Mad Monster Party, Straight on Till Morning, Thomas and Friends: Best of Percy, Thomas and Friends: Cranky Bugs and Thomas and Friends: Races, Rescues and Runaways on 7/23. Buena Vista has added Heavenly Creatures and the Swingers: Special Edition to its 9/24 slate. Columbia TriStar will debut Dogtown and Z-Boys on 8/6 and The New Guy on 8/13. MGM's upcoming releases will include The Fog: Special Edition, Deranged/Motel Hell, The Oblong Box/Scream and Scream Again, Teen Wolf/Teen Wolf Too, The Masque of the Red Death/The Premature Burial, What's the Matter with Helen/Who Slew Auntie Roo, The Attic/Crawlspace, Needful Things, Vampire's Kiss, The Last House on the Left, The Return of the Living Dead, Edge of Sanity and The Believers (all on 8/27), Outer Limits: New Series - Sex & Science Fiction, Outer Limits: New Series - Time Travel and Infinity, Outer Limits: Original Series - Season One, Stargate SG-1: Season Two (5-discs), Stargate SG-1 #3, Stargate SG- 1 #4 and Stargate SG-1 #5 (all on 9/3) and Flirting, High Season, Knack... and How to Get It, Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance, The Long Goodbye, The Moderns, Onion Field: Special Edition, Powaqqatsi: Life in Transformation, Pride of the Yankees, Stormy Monday, Texasville, Unbearable Lightness of Being and Valmont (all on 9/17). Paramount will debut We Were Soldiers on 8/20, with Daria, The Movie: Is it College Yet? and Spongebob Squarepants: Halloween following on 8/27. Sony Music has Ozzy Ozbourne: Live at Budokan due on 6/25. 20th Century Fox is releasing Super Troopers on 8/6, Wild in the Country and Flaming Star on 8/13, Joe Somebody on 8/20 and High Crimes on 8/27. Warner's Collateral Damage will arrive on 7/30. And PBS will release (via Warner) the long awaited Ken Burns' The Civil War on 9/17. That's a LOT of upcoming DVDs!

Back with more this afternoon. Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 6/3/02 - 12:01 AM PDT)

Morning everyone! Just wanted to drop in early to let you all know that the staff of The Digital Bits has officially returned from our much needed break, and we're rarin' to go. We'll be back later this morning with a news update of DVD announcements made while we were away, and we've even got a couple of new disc reviews to kick the week off right. And don't forget that our current Trivia Contest runs until tonight at 7PM, so get yer entries in quick!

As we've been known to say... stay tuned!

5/24/02

We've got a couple more new DVD reviews for you today - Dan Kelly looks at Paramount's new releases of Stephen King's Silver Bullet and Graveyard Shift. Both discs street on 5/28.

We've also updated the CEA DVD Player Sales charts this morning to include the 237,689 players that shipped to retailers in Region 1 during the week ending 5/3.

We've got word from a Bits reader about a special screening of Back to the Future at USC yesterday, with director Robert Zemeckis. After the film was shown, there was a Q&A session with the director which was apparently recorded for the Region 1 DVD audio commentary track. You'll find more about that in The Rumor Mill today. Screenings and Q&A's for Back to the Future 2 & 3 will be held next week (you can read more about that at BTTF.com).

And we've launched a new Trivia Contest, which will run until June 3rd, in which you all have the chance to win one of FIVE copies of HBO's Mr. Show with Bob and David The Complete First and Second Seasons on DVD (read our review here)! It's nice and easy, so get them entries in kids!

There's also some new upcoming DVD announcements to be mentioned today. A&E will release Founding Brothers on 7/30. Artisan is releasing Con Express, Hell's Gate, Jacked Up and Moby Dick: The True Story on 7/23, with Dinotopia following on 7/30. Buena Vista's The Count of Monte Cristo will arrive on 9/10, with The Santa Clause following on 10/29. Columbia TriStar's Contract Killer debuts on 7/30. First Run's The Fluffer will street on 8/20. HBO will release The Stranger Inside on 7/16. MGM's The Business of Strangers is due on 8/8, with The Fog: Special Edition, The Believers, Needful Things, Deuces Wild, The Last House on the Left, Return of the Living Dead, Edge of Sanity, Vampire's Kiss, Masque of the Red Death/Premature Burial, Attic/Crawlspace, Deranged/Motel Hell, Teen Wolf/Teen Wolf Too, Oblong Box/Scream and Scream Again and What's the Matter with Helen?/Who Slew Auntie Roo? all following on 8/27. New Line will street Monkey Trouble, Mr. Nanny, Suburban Commando, Surf Ninjas, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3 on 9/3. 20th Century Fox will release Hot Shots and Hot Shots, Part Deux on 8/6. And Universal's K-9: P.I. will arrive on 7/30.

Now then... I wanted to let all of you know that the staff of The Digital Bits is going to be taking next week off (we'll be back on June 3rd). The last few months have been a hectic and stressful flurry of server issues, reorganizing and other general chaos and scrambling. So now that we're finally settled in and running smoothly, we're all badly in need of a breather. But when we get back, we've got a LOT of things lined-up, including many more DVD reviews, more special feature stories, new staffers, an in-depth interview or two and our long-overdue Bitsy Awards (which would normally have happened around Oscar time, but got pushed back during our move). So thanks for understanding while we recharge our batteries for the exciting months ahead. The rest of 2002 is gonna be huge for DVD, so be sure to stay tuned!

Peace out. ;-)

5/23/02

We're very pleased today to bring you the first installment of a continuing series of special feature articles from film producer, historian and preservation expert Robert Harris. In the weeks and months ahead, Robert will be addressing a number of topics related to the past, present and future of home theater. He'll talk about film preservation as it relates to home viewing, various technical and quality issues, aspect ratios and a host of other issues. Robert begins this afternoon with a look at the history of home theater, from its humble beginnings to the dawn of our favorite format, DVD. So we hope you enjoy Home Theater: Part One - An Archaeology. And we'd officially like to welcome Robert to The Digital Bits!

Don't forget - once you've had a chance to read the article, you can click on over to THIS OFFICIAL THREAD hosted by our friends at The Home Theater Forum, to discuss the article online with Robert and other home theater enthusiasts.

I also wanted to alert you to a couple of good sources of information on digital projection. There's a good article over at Box Office Prophets, and there's some good information over at How Stuff Works too.

Enjoy!

5/22/02

We've got another new review for you today, and this time it's my in-depth look at Artisan's new 3-disc Frank Herbert's Dune: Special Edition - Director's Cut (street date 6/11). I've made no bones about the fact that I'm a fan of this miniseries. But as many of you know, I really disliked Artisan's original DVD release. So does the new one meet my expectations? Well, I think it's safe to say that fans are going to be mostly very happy with this new DVD. Click on over to the review and see what I have to say.

Also, we've got a couple of Star Wars DVD notes for you today. First of all, Lucasfilm and InterActual have created new online DVD-ROM content for those of you with the Star Wars: Episode I DVD. You can now access a special text commentary of facts and trivia about the film. I must confess, I'm not a big online/ROM content fan - I'd rather have it all on the disc and all accessible in my home theater, not my computer. But if you are a fan of such material, click on this link at Star Wars.com to learn how to access the new text commentary.

And in our other Star Wars note today, Cinescape has posted a note about a recent interview with George Lucas in Star Wars Insider magazine, in which he seems to indicate that the original theatrical versions of the Star Wars Trilogy will not be released on DVD eventually, basically because he doesn't feel that they exist anymore. In other words, his revised special editions, however they ultimately turn out, will be the final versions of these films. Strangely, we've heard many reports of comments to the contrary by producer Rick McCallum from his presentation at the recent Star Wars Celebration convention in Indianapolis. With all this confusion, we're naturally getting all kinds of e-mail from people wanting to start petitions about this.

Look... these eventual DVDs are more then 3 years away. Let's just wait and see what we hear as time goes on. I ABSOLUTELY BELIEVE that it would be a crime not to at least preserve the original theatrical versions of these films on DVD. The bottom line, whether Lucas likes it or not, is that those original versions are the ones we all grew up with and loved. And whether he likes it or not, he owes it to fans, and to cinema history, to preserve that original experience in digital quality on DVD (and not just VHS and laserdisc). I may the only one who can't wait to see these revised, CGI-enhanced "ultimate" editions of the Star Wars movies, but no one except George will be happy with those alone on DVD. NO ONE. If that were to happen, fans would probably storm the Skywalker Ranch in protest. That said, there's plenty of time to worry about this as we get closer to a time when those eventual DVDs are seriously in production. Frankly, I'm not convinced that anything is set in stone yet. So let's just wait and see, and look forward to Episode II on DVD in the meantime (come to a DVD player near you on 11/26).

Stay tuned...

5/21/02

Three more new DVD reviews for you today. First up, we've got a look at Criterion's new 2-disc Traffic DVD from Todd (which streets 5/28). Strangely enough, Todd checks in with this review a year to the day after he reviewed the original USA version of the film on DVD - go figure! We've also got Greg's take on Columbia TriStar's Not Another Teen Movie: Special Edition and Jeff's review of the recent anime version of Metropolis, also by Columbia TriStar.

We've also updated Jim Taylor's Official DVD FAQ to the most recent version, dated 5/14.

Enjoy!

(LATE UPDATE - 5/20/02 - 12:30 PM PDT)

As promised, we've got a trio of new DVD reviews for you today. First up is Greg Suarez's take on Paramount's new Vanilla Sky DVD, which streets tomorrow. We've also got Dan Kelly's look at one of Fox's recent additions to their Marilyn Monroe: The Diamond Collection - the classic Niagara. And we're pleased to introduce another new reviewer this afternoon - Jeff Kleist - who kicks off his work here at The Bits with a look at ADV Films' anime Spriggan. Be sure to drop him a line and say hello. Welcome aboard, Jeff!

Also this afternoon, several of our retailer sources have checked in with MAJOR upcoming DVD street dates for HUGE titles in the 4th quarter of this year. Think Episode II, Spider-Man and Men in Black II and you're in the right league. Definitely don't miss it - you'll find that in The Rumor Mill.

More reviews are coming tomorrow, so stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 5/20/02 - 9:45 AM PDT)

So did any of you happen to see this weekend's series finale of The X-Files? I'm still trying to decide what I thought of it. The whole military trial thing worked as a way to provide fans with all the answers about aliens and the conspiracy, but it was cheesy. I very much liked the end though - Mulder's finally found his truth and realizes he can't do anything about it. So he "wants to believe" in what Scully had all along - faith. Nicely poetic, bringing these characters full circle, but leaving them almost right back where they started in terms of anything accomplished. I will say one thing though - if Chris Carter doesn't deal with the whole alien invasion thing in the upcoming movies, fans are gonna go crazy. If I see another monster-of-the-week (or now monster-of-the-year) story, it's gonna get ugly.

Also this weekend, I had the opportunity to see Space Station in IMAX 3D. Let me just say, it's one of the most amazing films I've ever seen... of any kind. First of all, virtually all 40 minutes was shot in space by the astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle. So already you're seeing things that have never been shown on film before. Add to that the fact that this is simply the best 3D footage I've seen created to date (you wear glasses to achieve the effect), and you've got a really unique and rewarding film-going experience. If you've ever wanted to travel in space, this film is as close as you can get without being an astronaut or paying $20 million to the Russians. And I suspect it's pretty damn close. It's extraordinary and definitely worth a trip to see it. So if you have an IMAX theater in your area, take whatever time and effort is necessary to see Space Station. You'll be glad you did.

Now then... we'll be back soon with a number of new DVD reviews. Stay tuned.

5/17/02

Just FYI, the Region 4 (Australian) release of The Back to the Future Trilogy 3-disc DVD set has been officially announced for August 21st. That means the Region 1 (U.S.) release is not far behind. It's tentatively expected to be released by Universal in the States in December, so I would watch for announcements over the next couple of months.

Also today, Warner Bros. has just announced the DVD release of Friends: The Complete Second Season for 9/3 (SRP $69.98), with all 24 episodes included in full frame video. We should have more details for you on extras next week.

Meanwhile, we have word on some other upcoming DVDs that have been announced here in R1. Buena Vista has added The Rookie to its 8/27 slate. Columbia TriStar has just announced Punchline for 7/9, No Contest and Robin and Marian for 7/16, The Eddie Duchin Story for 7/23 and The Principal and Resident Evil: Special Edition for 7/30. Newly announced Criterion/Home Vision titles include Comic Book Confidential, Twist and Poetry in Motion for 7/23. And Paramount's Clockstoppers is due on 8/13, with Pretty in Pink, Some Kind of Wonderful and True Colors following on 8/20.

Around the net, there's a news story at Yahoo confirming the Episode II DVD. And there's word that Harry Potter is the hottest selling DVD in the UK.

Now then... we've got a lot of stuff in the works for Monday, including a whole mess of new DVD reviews. So have a great weekend and we'll see you back here bright and early Monday. Stay tuned!

5/16/02

Given that today marks the debut of the all-digital Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones in theaters, we thought it only appropriate to give you all a rundown of the Star Wars DVD situation. There are many "new" reports appearing in the press about this (stirred up for obvious reasons), but there's no real news to be found. At least nothing those of you who have been following the subject forever don't already know.

But for the rest of you, the basic story is this. Elements of the Episode II DVD have already been in production for many months. The DVD will be a 2-disc release, patterned very closely after the recent Episode I DVD. That means you can expect the film in anamorphic widescreen video on Disc One, along with Dolby Digital 5.1 EX surround sound and THX-certification. Word is Lucas and company are also planning another trip to the audio commentary booth for the DVD. Disc Two is likely to feature another "behind-the-scenes" documentary (we confirmed during our trip to Skywalker Ranch last year that one was being created), along with a number of deleted scenes completed for the release, trailers and TV spots, the Episode II web documentaries and more. The title IS expected to be released later this year, probably in October or November (latest word is you'll have it before Thanksgiving). Lucasfilm has also basically suggested that it's likely Episode III will be released on DVD without delay after that film appears in theaters in 2005.

As for the original Star Wars films, Lucas has himself confirmed that he's filmed additional scenes (during the production of these prequels) that he intends to add into Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi to "complete the Saga the way he always envisioned it". He's also expected to enhance and/or replace more special effects sequences with CGI and make other refinements to the original films. These "ultimate" versions are what will eventually find their way to DVD (there's no word as to whether or not he'll also include the unaltered theatrical versions - those of us who grew up with them certainly hope so). Lucas has also stated recently that he and his crew didn't create as much "making of" material during the production of the original trilogy, so it will take time to compile new material for the eventual DVD release. And while he's working on the prequels, time is something he doesn't have a lot of. What that means, is that you shouldn't expect the original films to appear on DVD until sometime after the release of Episode III in 2005.

And that is, more or less, the best and most up-to-date information available on the subject of the Star Wars films on DVD. We'll be sure to keep you appraised as the production of the Episode II disc continues. You can reasonably expect official details to begin appearing from Lucasfilm later this summer.

Cheer up - with a little luck we might get the Indiana Jones films on DVD in the meantime. Maybe Raiders next year? Paramount? You hearing us?

Stay tuned...

5/15/02

Afternoon everyone! Today's post is a little later than usual, but it's a good one. We've just updated the Upcoming DVD Cover Art section with more than 100 new cover scans. Among the new titles you'll find are Slackers, The Joy Luck Club, The Scarlet Letter, Will Penny, Real Genius, The Vagina Monologues, Rollerball, The Majestic, The Affair of the Necklace, A Beautiful Mind, Gosford Park, Gardens of Stone, Hearts & Minds, The Importance of Being Ernest, Tokyo Olympiad, 1776, Jimmy Neutron, The Royal Tenenbaums, Charlotte Gray, Innerspace, Hart's War, My Favorite Year, Amelie, A Nous la Liberte, Black Sheep, Gung Ho, Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy, Red Beard, Top Secret, It Came from Hollywood, Under the Roofs of Paris, The Great Mouse Detective, Speed: Five-Star Collection, M*A*S*H: Season Two, The Time Machine, Resident Evil, Clash of the Titans, Exorcist II, Star Trek II: Director's Edition, Them!, The Swarm, Time After Time, Wolfen, V: The Final Battle, In the Bedroom, Gremlins 2, Pretty in Pink, Jackie Brown: CE, Pulp Fiction: CE, Peter Pan: Return to Neverland, The Fog, Sopranos: Season Three, The Count of Monte Cristo, all the final Lord of the Rings packaging and more. Virtually every page has been updated, so be sure to check them all out. And don't forget - if you preorder any of them from our software partner, DVD Planet, you'll get 30% off and you'll be doing us a big favor as well.

Now then... raise your hands if you're calling in sick to work tomorrow to go see the new Star Wars movie. Well, some 2.5 million of you are expect to do so. Maybe we'll see you at a Midnight show... ;-)

Stay tuned!

5/14/02

As promised, we've got our review of Warner's new 2-disc Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone DVD for you today (widescreen version of course). And well... you'd better read this before you pick up a copy. I don't think Todd and I are exactly alone is saying we're a little bit tired of bells and whistles on DVD, but you'll definitely be tired of them after you peruse Disc Two of this set. Nuff said.

Stay tuned...

5/13/02

Yes indeed, HBO has officially announced the DVD release of The Sopranos: The Complete Third Season for August 27th ($SRP 99.98). All 13 episode will be included in the 4-disc box set, in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include three exclusive audio commentaries delivered individually by writer/actor Michael Imperioli (Episode 9 - The Telltale Moozadell), episode director Steve Buscemi (Episode 11 - Pine Barrens) and series creator David Chase (Episode 12 - Amour Fou), a behind the scenes featurette (a day on the set of The Sopranos), recaps of seasons 1 & 2, episodic synopses, video previews and recaps, cast and crew bios and a web link.

Also this morning, we've got word from Leonard Maltin on the next wave of Walt Disney Treasures DVDs. You'll find that in today's update of The Rumor Mill.

In addition, we've updated the latest CEA DVD Player Sales numbers to include the complete month of April. And with that, we're pleased to announce that the DVD format has officially crossed 30 million players in the States! Very cool indeed.

And finally this morning, we've announced the winners of our ShowOff Displays Quick Contest. Congrats to all the winners and thanks to all of you who entered!

Just so you know, we're going to wait and post the Potter review tomorrow, so we can add some last minute details. Stay tuned...

5/11/02

Hey... a weekend update! Must be good news, right? Well it is... especially for you Star Trek fans. The official Star Trek website just announced Paramount's DVD release of the Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan - The Director's Edition for 8/6 (SRP $29.99). The 2-disc set will include a new 116-minute cut of the film (expanded to add the footage shown previously only on ABC TV broadcasts) in anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. Extras will include audio commentary by director Nicholas Meyer, text commentary by Trek Encyclopedia co-author Michael Okuda, theatrical trailers, storyboards, The Captain's Log featurette (includes new interviews with Meyer, stars William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Ricardo Montalban and writer/executive producer Harve Bennett), the Designing Khan featurette (includes interviews with Meyer, Bennett, graphic designer Lee Cole, costume designer Robert Fletcher, production designer Joe Jennings and more), The Visual Effects of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan featurette, original interviews from 1982 with the cast and crew (including the late DeForest Kelley) and The Star Trek Universe - A Novel Approach by Authors Julia Ecklar and Greg Cox featurette (interviews with Trek novelists). Here's the final cover art for you to check out.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan - The Director's Edition

And watch for Star Trek III before the year is out! Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 5/10/02 - 2 PM PDT)

We've got just one last post for you this afternoon and it's directed at you X-Files fans. You'll be happy to learn that the packaging for The Complete Fifth Season includes a small flyer that indicates November as the release window for The X-Files: The Complete Sixth Season on DVD. So the truth is out there. It's coming slowly, but it's out there... ;-)

Okay... we'll throw in one more thing. Warner's just announced the DVD release of Charlotte Gray for 7/9 (SRP $26.98). The disc will include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, audio commentary with director Gillian Armstrong, two behind the scenes featurettes and the trailer. Now we're done.

Have a great weekend!

(EARLY UPDATE - 5/10/02 - 10 AM PDT)

We've got more new upcoming DVD announcements for you this morning. Columbia TriStar has added Beijing Bicycle, Harry and Walter Go to New York, Sunset Park and ZigZag to its 7/9 slate, with New Best Friend following on 7/16 and Resident Evil: Special Edition on 7/30. Goodtimes is releasing Tales from the Neverending Story: The Beginning on 6/4. Koch International has Ani DiFranco: Render due on 6/11. New Line is releasing John Q: Infinifilm and Storytelling on 7/16. Paramount's Crossroads has been set for 7/23. 20th Century Fox has slated Fathom, In Like Flint, Our Man Flint and Modesty Blaise for 7/16. And Universal's Dragonfly is due on 7/30.

Also today, we have word on the official DVD specs for the international version of Universal's Back to the Future Trilogy (the R1 specs should be similar). You'll find that in The Rumor Mill.

And we've just kicked off a Quick Contest that's easy to enter, but you've only got until Sunday night. Click here for the details.

Back Monday with our review of Harry Potter and more. Have a great weekend and stay tuned...!

5/9/02

Big news today! Remember those Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown special editions we've been telling you for MONTHS were in the works at Miramax? Well Buena Vista has finally, officially announced them!

Pulp Piction: Collector's EditionJackie Brown: Collector's Edition

The Pulp Fiction: Collector's Edition will street on 8/20 (SRP $29.99). The 2-disc set will include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, 5 deleted scenes with introduction by director Quentin Tarantino, trailers and TV spots, a "behind the scenes" featurette, a still gallery (of hundreds of photos, poster art, memorabilia, blueprints of Jack Rabbit Slim's and more), Siskel and Ebert's The Tarantino Generation, Michael Moore interviewing Tarantino, producer Lawrence Bender and Samuel L. Jackson for the Independent Spirit Awards, the Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or Award ceremony and acceptance speech, The Charlie Rose Show interview with Tarantino, the Tarantino Fiction original documentary, a featurette on production design, DVD-ROM screenplay access and more.

The Jackie Brown: Collector's Edition will also be a 2-disc set, arriving on 8/20 (SRP $29.99). Look for anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, an introduction by director Quentin Tarantino, the How it Went Down documentary, an interview with the director, the Chicks with Guns full-length video, 6 deleted/alternate scenes with director introduction, Siskel and Ebert's review, trailers and TV spots, Jackie Brown on MTV, still galleries with hundreds of photos, DVD-ROM screenplay access and more.

And we have details on Buena Vista and Criterion's The Royal Tenenbaums (street date 7/9). You'll get anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 audio, the With the Filmmaker: Portraits by Albert Maysles feature on director Wes Anderson, video interviews and behind-the-scenes footage with Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow and more, audio commentary with Anderson, The Peter Bradley Show featurette, The Art of the Movie featurette on art direction and production design, outtakes and deleted scenes, theatrical trailers and a booklet with liner notes by the director (SRP $29.99).

Other BVHE titles announced today include The Adventures of Tom Thumb & Thumbelina (8/6), the Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas: Special Edition (11/12), The Santa Clause: Special Edition (10/29), 40 Days and 40 Nights (9/17), Rolie Polie Olie: The Great Defender of Fun (8/13), In the Bedroom (8/13), Winnie the Pooh: a Very Merry Pooh Year (11/12) and The Count of Monte Cristo (9/10).

Around the Net today, there's an almost funny error over at IMDB.com. The site claims that Sales of Star Wars DVDs Soar in light of the approaching release of Episode II. If only it were so. Here's a hint - they mean VHS videotapes. Thanks to Aaron B for the tip!

Also today, as promised we've got a couple of new DVD reviews for you. First up, our own Adam Jahnke's checked in with a look at Warner's recent Training Day - the film that won Denzel Washington a Best Actor Oscar. And we're very pleased to introduce a new reviewer today who will be focusing on music-related titles: Matt Rowe. Matt's the editor of the music news and review website MusicTAP.net and he's a good friend of The Digital Bits. We're very excited to have him aboard. You can read his first DVD review for us right now - Warner's Eastwood After Hours: Live at Carnegie Hall, which is currently available in stores. Be sure to drop him a line and give him a big Bits welcome: mattrowe@musictap.net

Stay tuned...

5/8/02

We've got a look at some new upcoming DVD cover artwork for a few great Criterion titles that are in the works. Here are Red Beard (due in July), The Importance of Being Ernest (6/25), The Royal Tenenbaums (July) and Tokyo Olympiad (6/25).

Red BeardThe Importance of Being Ernest

The Royal TenenbaumsTokyo Olympiad

Other Criterion titles on the way include General Idi Amin Dada (5/14), Traffic (5/28), The Horse's Mouth (6/4), Hearts and Minds (6/25), À Nous la Liberté (July) and Under the Roofs of Paris (July).

Watch for new DVD reviews coming tomorrow...

(LATE UPDATE - 5/7/02 - 6:15 PM PDT)

I'm back, my young Padawans. Yes... I have seen THE FILM, in digital projection to boot. Yes... it IS better than Episode I. And no, I'm not gonna make you wait to read my two cents on it. Just so you know, I've tried VERY hard in my review to discuss the film in a vague enough way that you shouldn't be spoiled to anything that you don't already know from the trailers. That said, if you don't want to know ANYTHING, you might want to hold off on reading the review until after you've seen Attack of the Clones yourself. There's just no way to discuss it without at least describing the basic plot. But again, there's nothing in the review that you don't already know if you're A) a fan, or you've B) seen the trailers and TV spots. So there you go. Now that we've got that out of the way... here's my review of Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones. And just FYI... I do believe that digital projection of this film is worth checking out if you can. I'll post more comments on that after I've had the chance to see it digital a second time. I was really focusing solely on the film itself this time out. Anyway, enjoy the review!

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 5/7/02 - 12:01 AM PDT)

Okay... two things this morning. First of all, the folks over at AudioRevolution have written up a great story on the DVD-Audio and SACD formats, which seem to be pretty dead on arrival. Part of the problem is that consumers are reluctant to buy into formats with uncertain futures and few decent software titles. The fact that there are two competing high-rez audio formats, and few players that support both, doesn't help. And the record companies seem to have a very definite lack of interest in promoting the formats much beyond the connoisseur market, probably owing to nervousness about digital piracy. But there's another problem too, which the article discusses. Simply put, there's a lot of disagreement about how best to create multi-channel, 5.1 audio mixes of older 2.0 stereo studio recordings. The article is well worth a read, so be sure to check it out.

The other thing we want to mention this morning, is that we've added the ability to search our sponsor DVD Planet's online catalog of titles to this site. Our friends at DVD Planet have really gone out of their way to support our work here at The Digital Bits both through advertising and in other ways. So we hope you'll all encourage them to continue doing so by placing your online DVD orders with them. Our work here at The Bits doesn't come cheap, but we want to make sure that it stays free for all of you. The best way you can help us do that is to support our sponsors whenever possible. I can't stress this enough - it REALLY means a lot to us. And we wouldn't be working with DVD Planet if we weren't certain they'll do right by all of you with good customer service, shipping and prices. So thank you all very much in advance for your support!

Back tonight to talk Episode II - stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 5/6/02 - 4 PM PDT)

Just a quick update to let you all know that DreamWorks has just announced the DVD release of The Time Machine for July 23rd (MAP $19.95). Features will include anamorphic widescreen video, audio in Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 flavors, a behind-the-scenes featurette on the movie’s creatures (featuring an interview with Stan Winston), audio commentary with director Simon Wells and editor Wayne Wahram, a second commentary by producer David Valdes, production designer Oliver Scholl and visual effects supervisor James E. Price, a newly-created animated sequence featuring a selection of Simon Wells’ original storyboards set to music, a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the "time machine" prop, a deleted scene featuring Guy Pearce and Phillip Bosco, an in-depth look at the film’s visual effects and more.

The Time Machine

One last note on Harry Potter. We received a copy of the disc at a studio demonstration on Friday and we've completed our review. But Warner contacted us this evening and asked that we hold off on posting it until next Monday, which is the press embargo date. Of course, they neglected to tell those of us who attended the event about the embargo (including Pete Bracke and me), so I almost posted my review anyway and DVD File did have theirs up for a while. Sorry to tease you guys with it in the meantime. Watch for it in a week.

And never fear, gang... we've still got our Star Wars: Episode II review coming tomorrow night. ;-)

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 5/6/02 - 1:45 PM PDT)

We've got another new DVD review for you today - Michael Wiese Productions' new Hardware Wars: Special Edition, which is now available exclusively from their website.

We've also posted the winners to our Trivia Contest, and updated the CEA DVD Player sales chart to reflect the U.S. player sales numbers for the 3rd week of April.

Around the Net today, there's word that Columbia TriStar's Spider-Man broke all previous first-day and weekend box office records, taking in more than $114 million in three days (Harry Potter held the record previously at $90.3 million). Wait 'til you guys see the DVD!

Speaking of Harry, be sure to watch the site tomorrow morning for our review of Warner's new Harry Potter 2-disc set. And if you tune in tomorrow night, we'll tell you what we thought of Star Wars: Episode II! So get yer lightsabers humming, kids. ;-)

Stay tuned...


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