As promised today, we're pleased to present you with the final format
of Robert A. Harris' regular column here at The
Digital Bits, entitled
Layer Failure, Vinegar Syndrome and Miscellaneous Musings.
Clicking on the link will take you to an index/introduction page, that
will allow you to access all of Robert's past and future work here at
week, he talks about Eastman color, dye fade, yellow layer
failure... and how all that relates to the process of restoration. We
think you'll find it well worth a read, as usual. Enjoy!
And just FYI, I'll be back tomorrow with in-depth reviews of a trio of
the first releases available on the new D-VHS format: X-Men,
U-571 and Terminator
2. Is D-VHS as good as you've been hearing? How does it
compare with D-VHS? And what does this new format mean for DVD? We'll
get into all of that tomorrow, so don't miss it.
One last note - we've announced the winner of our latest
Contest. Thanks to everyone who entered!
(LATE UPDATE - 6/28/02 - 5 PM PDT)
As a last post for the week, we thought you all might like to read some
of Universal's official press release for The
Back to the Future Trilogy on DVD:
"It's a blast from the past, present and
future this holiday season as Universal Studios Home Video releases the
Back to the Future Trilogy on DVD for the very first time on
December 17, 2002 for $39.95 MAP. An absolute must-have for any
collection, the three-disc boxed set contains Back to the Future,
Back to the Future II and Back to the Future III with
newly re-mastered audio soundtracks and is fully loaded with an array of
never-before-seen bonus features. Pre-order close is October 29. In
addition, the VHS boxed set is priced at $24.95 MAP with an order close
date of November 12.
Befitting the prestige of its DVD debut, the Back to the Future
Trilogy features exclusive new interviews conducted this year with
actor Michael J. Fox, director Robert Zemeckis, screenwriter Bob Gale
and producer Neil Canton, as well as newly discovered deleted scenes,
behind-the-scenes footage, a featurette on the making of the films with
interviews of the cast and crew, a live audio commentary session
conducted at the USC Film School, a Michael J. Fox Parkinson's Disease
Foundation PSA, and other bonus materials associated with each of the
The magic and wonder of the entire Back to the Future trilogy
films is explored in the three disc set that includes over 10 hours of
all-new, never-before-seen bonus materials. Presented in a holographic
foil embossed pack that communicates the fun, exciting, fast-paced
breakthrough adventure-comedy of the films, the collection is sure to
please the most demanding fan. Trilogy bonus features include
the Universal Animated Anecdotes, in which consumers can watch the
feature film and simultaneously learn over 150 fun facts, including
trivia and hilarious bloopers; Storyboards to Final Feature Comparison
will allow viewers to experience the filmmaking process through
storyboards and compare storyboards to the final feature sequence. In
addition, the unique DVD-ROM destination, Universal Studios Total Axess,
will provide viewers the opportunity to see behind-the-scenes footage,
interviews, original scripts, and participate in fan mail and
There you have it. Have a great weekend!
(EARLY UPDATE -
6/28/02 - 12:01 AM PDT)
We're gonna close out the week with a series of "retro"
reviews. And we'll throw in a new title just for good measure. First up
are Greg Suarez's looks at 20th Century Fox's
Knight (the new title), along with Universal's
'Burbs and Warner's
Brad Pilcher chimes in with a review of Fox's
Me Crazy. And Adam Jahnke rounds out the day with his take on
Like it Hot: Special Edition and Paramount's
Season One: The Greatest and Most Outrageous Moments.
Sometimes, you just gotta go "retro"... you know? Take
stock... look back at what's come before. And hey - they were clogging
up the review folder on my harddrive. ;-)
You'll be happy to learn that Universal has officially confirmed 12/17
as the street date for The Back to the Future
Trilogy 3-disc set (MAP $39.95). The discs will include both
anamorphic widescreen and full frame video, and the official press
release notes the following extras for the set: all new audio commentary
(with actor Michael J. Fox, director Robert Zemeckis, producer Neil
Canton and producer and screenwriter Bob Gale), outtakes from all three
films, deleted scenes, The Hover Board test, The
Making of Back to the Future featurette, The
Secrets of the BTTF Trilogy segment, Universal
Animated Anecdotes (fun and interesting facts about the
film), Huey Lewis music video, production archive, teaser, original
theatrical trailers and much more. And
art we posted a few days ago is indeed the final cover art for the
box. Just FYI.
Around the Net,
has a great AP story on DVD offering directors a chance to revisit
their films. There are some interesting comments in the text (from the
likes of Giuseppe Tornatore, Francis Ford Coppola, Peter Hunt and Steven
Spielberg), so it's worth a quick look.
Also today, we've got a Babylon 5
on DVD update. Creator/executive producer J. Michael Straczynski has
made another Usenet report on the status of the discs:
"On the DVDs, last I heard they'll be out
around mid-November, with the whole first season at about a hundred
bucks. I did the commentaries on Signs and Portents and Chrysalis,
and an on-camera intro and interview. They've also done new interviews
with Rick Biggs, John Lacovelli, John Copeland, Stephen Furst, Jerry
Doyle and others. So it should be a pretty big deal overall, much better
than the movie DVD."
Thanks to Bits reader Greg W. for
passing this along to us.
We've got a sneak peek at some new upcoming DVD cover artwork for you:
Paramount's Grease (9/17), Changing
Lanes (9/10) and We Were Soldiers
(8/20), Buena Vista's Ed Wood
(8/13), MGM's Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of
Balance (9/17) and Universal's Brotherhood
of the Wolf (10/1). Covers with a link can be preordered now
at DVD Planet.com.
And finally today, we've created a new way to access
archives of all my daily My Two Cents columns, dating way
back to December 1997 when this website was launched (prior to that,
The Digital Bits was an e-mail
newsletter). There's a new link at the bottom of the index page that
will take you to the archives, as well as a link in the column header (above)
and a link from the FAQ
& Archives page as well. So now it's easier for you
newbies to journey back to the VERY early days of DVD, to a time when a
small, brave group early adopters fought and won a desperate battle to
shape the future of the DVD format. Gotta say... there's some
fascinating reading in there. Brings back a LOT of memories. Any of you
long-time readers remember our FREE DVD/FIGHT DIVX Campaign? ;-)
We'll be back on Monday with the next special feature column from
Robert Harris. And we'll finally get to that big upcoming DVD artwork
update next week too. Plus, we'll roll out a few new reviews and maybe
surprise or two as well.
So have a great weekend and we'll catch ya on the flipside!
(LATE UPDATE - 6/27/02 - 12:30 PM PDT)
We've got details for you on a pair of upcoming prehistoric-themed
releases. First up is Hallmark and Artisan's Dinotopia
(7/30 - SRP $19.98). The 2-disc set will include the original full frame
aspect ratio video, hidden footage and deleted scenes, a trivia game, a
"making of" featurette, a 3-D Motion picture gallery, dinosaur
facts and sounds for kids, a "Skybax Pilot" PC game and other
The other upcoming title is Fox's Ice Age:
Special Edition (11/26 - SRP $29.98). This 2-disc set will
include both anamorphic widescreen and full frame video, along with
audio in Dolby Digital 5.1. Among the extras will be audio commentary by
the directors, The Making of Ice Age
documentary, the HBO First Look
special, "Sid on Sid Silhouette" on scenes, 6 deleted scenes
with director's audio commentary, a multi-angle animation progression,
Scrat interstitials, the Sid character development featurette, the Blue
Sky featurette, the Bunny animated
short, a design artwork gallery, 3 set-top games, 2 DVD-ROM games,
DVD-ROM "printables" of characters and more, international
clips, trailers, TV spots and Easter eggs.
Here's a look at the DVD cover artwork for both titles...
(EARLY UPDATE - 6/27/02 - 10:45 AM PDT)
First it's 9/3... then it's 8/30... then it's 8/20. Well, we've
contacted New Line and the company's PR firm and both are saying that,
in fact, the street date for Blade II
is 8/30 as we originally reported. Yes, that's a Friday. And no, the
street date NEVER was 8/20 - that was erroneous information coming from
a retailer or some other unofficial source.
In other news this morning, it seems like there are people all stirred
up over this 24fps DVD version of Metropolis.
"It's a travesty!" says one guy. "It's as bad as
colorizing a black and white film!" says another. "It's NOT
what Lang intended!" says still another. Everybody calm down. The
bottom line is that silent films were often exhibited at varying frame
rates. Sometimes even specific scenes were shown at faster frame rates
than the rest of the film. Just this morning, I got an e-mail from
Robert Harris to the effect that, during the restoration of the Metropolis,
those involved found notes indicating that the film was run at speeds of
up to 28fps. So before we get all wound up on this, let's just wait and
see what Kino has to say.
Also today, Buena Vista and Miramax have
new website dedicated to the upcoming Pulp
Fiction and Jackie Brown
special edition DVDs. Be sure to check it out.
And finally this morning, Lucasfilm's Rick McCallum has commented on
the possibility of DVD releases of the Ewok
movies and Droids cartoon series
the official Star Wars site for those who are interested.
Thanks to Lane A for that.
(LATE UPDATE - 6/26/02 - 5 PM PDT)
Just one more quick update today. Frtiz Lang's 1927 Metropolis
will be coming to DVD next year from Kino,
following a theatrical/art house re-release in about 100 markets around
the country. While there are many incomplete, poor quality, bargain-bin
copies of the film on DVD, this one will be different. Metropolis
recently underwent a complete digital restoration and now contains
scenes that were cut after the film's original premiere, compiled from
every archived original print known to exist, as well most of the
original camera negative. You can read more about this at
Omega (the people who did the restoration work), as well as
official site for the project.
Now, I'm going to try to get these technical details right (if I don't,
I'm sure I'll hear about it). The new version of the film technically
runs 147 minutes - close to the "official" original German
version, which was 153 minutes (Lang's original director's cut was 210
minutes, but this version is lost). As a clarification to that, however,
the running times of the film are a matter of question. The times I've
just given are at the film's original silent projection speed of 20fps
(it was originally shown with a live orchestra playing in
accompaniment). For its wide release, however, the restored version of
the film features a new recording of the original orchestral score by
Gottfried Huppertz, produced by The Radio Sinfonieorchester Saarbrücken
(with a 65-piece orchestra). This makes the need for live accompaniment
unnecessary, but it also means that the film must be projected at sound
speed of 24fps, which makes the same 147-minute film appear to be
118-minutes in length. A more accurate way to determine the completeness
of this film is its length in feet. This version is the longest restored
version of the film yet at some 10,928 feet (for comparison, the 1984 "Moroder"
version was 7,469 feet, the 1987 "Munich" version was 9,608
feet, while Lang's original cut - the lost cut - was 13,701 feet).
There is some question as to whether the DVD should be transferred at
20 or 24 fps, but that's a technical debate we're not going to get into
now (rather like whether 1.66 films should be 16x9 on DVD - there are
opposing views). The point of all this is to let you know that Metropolis
is finally coming to DVD in the quality it deserves.
(LATE UPDATE - 6/26/02 - 1:30 PM PDT)
We've just posted two more new DVD reviews for you. The first is my
look at Paramount's
Trek: The Next Generation - Season Three box set, which
streets on 7/2. Also, we've posted Adam Jahnke's final entry in our look
Films of John Waters on DVD. It's his review of
John Waters DVD Scrapbook, which is only available as a
mail-away bonus from New Line if you buy their other Waters sets on
Also this afternoon, I wanted to clarify a bit of news we posted
earlier in the week. On 6/24, we mentioned that Paramount is offering an
exchange for those of you who are having trouble with the bonus disc
from The Godfather Collection. You
should know that the disc itself is NOT defective. It's just that some
DVD players are having trouble playing it due to complicated spec
conformity issues. If you're not having any problems, then don't worry -
you don't need to exchange your disc. This offer is just for the small
number of people whose players are having difficulty with it.
(EARLY UPDATE - 6/26/02 - 12:01 AM PDT)
We've gotten word from several readers that Amazon.com is already
taking preorders for Fox's 24: Season One,
which it claims will street on 9/17 for an SRP of $59.98. In addition,
the online retailer is also taking orders for Universal's Back
to the Future Trilogy (street date 12/17, SRP $54.98). Just
Also, ADV has announced the DVD release of a Farscape:
Season One box set to street on 10/29 (SRP $149.98). The set
will feature all 22 episodes on 11 discs, packaged in 6 keep cases with
a newly-designed slipcase box. Extras include episode commentaries,
conceptual drawings, video profiles. Note that these are the same discs
already available individually. And if you just want the best of Farscape's
first season, you can buy... you guessed it... Farscape:
The Best of Season One on 7/9 (SRP $44.98). The 3-disc set
includes 6 featured episodes along with select special features. On the
other hand, if you're like me and you'd rather just get on with the
business of the show's second season on DVD, you can pick up Farscape:
Season Two, Volume One (SRP $39.98 - available now) - a
2-disc set containing the first 4 episodes of the season, along with
deleted scenes and other bonus material. I'm hoping ADV picks up the
pace a little with season two... just a suggestion. It took FOREVER to
get season one out.
One last note this morning - for those of you who have been waiting for
the Highlander: Season One box set
to arrive on DVD in stores (and not just for order online), you'll be
happy to learn that Anchor Bay will be distributing the title to
retailers before the year is out.
We've confirmed with MGM that they'll be re-releasing the first wave of
their James Bond Collection titles
on October 22: Dr. No, Goldfinger,
Spy Who Loved Me, The Man with the
Golden Gun and Tomorrow Never Dies.
Each will SRP for only $19.98 each. They'll also be available in a the
James Bond Collection - Volume One
boxed set for $124.96. Additional waves of Bond titles will be released
each fall for the next two years. See
link at Video Business for more information.
In other news, there's word that Warner has been sued over the special
edition material included on its Superman
DVD. A British film company "alleges that Warner included archival
material for the DVD re-release of the 1978 movie starring Christopher
Reeve, including actors' screen tests and special effects test footage,
without obtaining permission."
here to read more via Yahoo.
Also today, you Dave Matthews fans will be pleased to know that the
band is planning another live CD/DVD release for the holidays.
here for more on that via Excite.
And you Lord of the Rings fans
will be happy to learn that New Line has released the new teaser poster
for The Two Towers. Visit the
site for that.
Around the Bits today, we've
DVD Player Sales numbers to include the 408,452 players that
shipped in the first week of June (technically the last week of May, but
counting in June), ending 5/31. All charts have been updated
In a follow-up to that Panic Room
SuperBit news from yesterday, we've learned that Columbia TriStar will
also release Snatch and The
Mask of Zorro as SuperBit Deluxe discs on 9/17.
And we've got more Fox and MGM news for you today in
Rumor Mill - word on the DVD release of a classic Robert Wise
sci-fi film, as well as a series of Coen Brothers discs, a new Ridley
Scott special edition and even a classic Wim Wenders tale. Be sure to
check it out.
(LATE UPDATE - 6/24/02 - 1:30 PM PDT)
We've got exciting new word for you on several upcoming Columbia
TriStar DVDs. We've confirmed that the studio's Panic
Room DVD, which is expected to street on 9/17, will be a
SuperBit title. In addition, the studio will release the classic Earth
vs. the Flying Saucers that same day. Other new upcoming
Columbia TriStar titles include The Road to
Wellville (9/10), The Revenge of
Frankenstein (8/13) and Return of
the Vampire (also 8/13). Cool and all, but I still want Wind.
Anyway, here's a look at the DVD artwork for Earth
vs. the Flying Saucers...
And yes... that IS the artwork for Universal's E.T.
Ultimate Gift Set as well (street date 10/22).
Also today, we've gotten word that New Line has once again revised
their Blade II: Platinum Edition
street date. It was 9/3, then it was 8/30... now it's 8/20. Just FYI.
UPDATE - 6/24/02 - 10:45 AM PDT)
We've spoken to Paramount on behalf of all those of you who report
having trouble with your Bonus Disc
from the studio's Godfather DVD Collection.
The studio will be happy to exchange the disc for new ones, if for some
reason your player is having trouble playing it. To receive a
replacement, mail your disc (and only the disc) in a jewel case to:
Paramount Home Entertainment
5555 Melrose Avenue
Hollywood CA 90038.
If you have any questions, you may call the consumer hotline at
Now... in other news today, we've got word on several upcoming Fox
DVDs, including a DVD release of 24
and more. We also have word that some Musicland Group stores are already
taking pre-orders for Episode II
on DVD. You'll find all of that in
Rumor Mill, so don't miss it.
Also today, we've reorganized the
Archives section here at The
Digital Bits. As most of you should know, that's where pretty
much everything that we post here at The Bits
(except news and reviews) gets archived permanently. So we've broken up
the section into separate pages for interviews, special feature stories,
special event coverage and the like, to make it easier for you to find a
specific article that you might be looking for. It's amazing how many
great stories and features we've done in the last five years. There's
some good stuff in that section - things we're really proud of. Be sure
to check it out when you get the chance.
Hey! Another rare weekend update - imagine that! I wanted to check in
here with a couple of quick notes. First of all, a company called
has received their allotment of Final
Countdown DVDs from Pacific Family Entertainment and people
who ordered the disc from GeoData have begun receiving them. Don't get
too excited though, because it looks very much like PFE screwed up the
title as expected. The discs arrive in letterboxed widescreen only
(non-anamorphic), with Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo only (not the expected
5.1), no extras and no chapter stops (although the case says there
should be chaptering). Lovely. So where does that leave people who
ordered from PFE directly? Well, we've been hearing from readers that
are beginning to receive their copies now. But at this point, if I'd
ordered the disc and waited all this time for this piece of crap, I'd
probably send it back and demand a refund. We've been hearing that Mel
Gibson's ICON may own video rights to this film too - maybe they'll do a
better job someday. Anyway, here's the PFE cover art.
Surprise - that may indeed be the final R1 artwork for Universal's Back
to the Future Trilogy on DVD (expected street date: 12/17).
We'll let you know when we can confirm it. Thanks to Bits
reader Johan A. for sending that.
See you tomorrow!
(LATE UPDATE - 6/21/02 - 4 PM PDT)
Oh, hell... one last update for you. New Line would like everyone to
know that the street date for their Blade II:
Platinum Edition has been moved up from the original 9/3 to a
new date of 8/30. Yep - you read that right. Friday, August 30th.
Okay... I'm exhausted. That's it for the day. Promise!
(LATE UPDATE - 6/21/02 - 2 PM PDT)
Couldn't resist one last update this afternoon to let you all know that
Universal has officially confirmed 10/1 as the street date for their
Brotherhood of the Wolf DVD. The
studio is also releasing a Cat People:
Special Edition and The Game
on 8/27. That later release is probably timed to take advantage of the
DVD release of Columbia TriStar's Panic Room
(TBA), also from David Fincher. I have no other details on these discs
at the moment, but I'll post specs when they become available.
Now... have a good weekend!
(LATE UPDATE -
6/21/02 - 10 AM PDT)
The big news today is all from Paramount. Yes indeed, the studio has
officially announced the DVD release of their long-awaited Grease
on September 17th. Look for the disc to be available in your choice of
anamorphic widescreen and full frame versions, and to include
retrospective interviews (with John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John,
Stockard Channing, Jeff Conaway, Didi Conn, director Randall Kleiser and
producer Allan Carr), the theatrical trailer and the songbook (on-packed
while supplies last). Grease
carries an MAP of $19.95.
Oh, but that's not all. Saturday Night Fever
will follow on October 8th, available in anamorphic widescreen only with
commentary by director John Badham, highlights from VH1's Behind
the Music documentary and 3 deleted scenes that appeared only
in the PG-rated TV version. MAP is $17.95.
And that's STILL not all. The studio will also release Flashdance,
Cowboy and Staying Alive
on October 8th (MAP $17.95). All of these titles will be anamorphic
widescreen only. Urban Cowboy will
include outtakes of Travolta and Winger dancing, rehearsal footage of
Travolta and Winger on the mechanical bull and the film's theatrical
trailer. The other titles are movie only (but word is they may see
eventual special edition release a ways down the road).
By the way, all of these Paramount music titles will feature Dolby
Digital 5.1 audio tracks, just FYI.
Also today, we've got word on a long-awaited Ridley Scott film that's
coming to DVD from Paramount. And there's word on Bond on DVD too.
You'll find that in
Rumor Mill, so don't miss it.
And finally, hats off to the U.S. soccer team for delivering a great
run at the World Cup. It was a lot of fun watching them and they gave it
their all, despite a 1-0 loss to Germany this morning. This soccer
thing's a very cool game. ;-)
All right - gotta go catch Minority Report
this weekend. Just gotta.
Have a great weekend, folks!
(EARLY UPDATE - 6/21/02 - 12:01 AM PDT)
I've got a quick note early this morning to let all you LA-area DVD
fans know that director Guillermo del Toro will be at Dave's Video on
Saturday 6/29, from 1-3 PM, signing copies of The
Devil's Backbone. The usual rules will apply - 2 items will
be signed per person, one of which must be a copy of the DVD purchased
at Dave's. And a portion of the profits will be donated to a charity of
the guest's choice. Dave's Video - The Laser Place is located at 12144
Ventura Blvd. in Studio City, CA. Should be a cool event, so drop on by!
Back later this morning - stay tuned...
(LATE UPDATE - 6/20/02 - 6 PM PDT)
Just wanted to chime in here with a late update. Universal's officially
announced the DVD release of The Scorpion
King for 10/1 ($SRP 26.98). The disc will be available in
anamorphic widescreen or full frame video versions (your choice) with
extras to include audio commentary with director Chuck Russell, a "making
of" documentary, an "enhanced viewing mode" that allows
you to access alternate versions of key scenes in the film, a sneak peek
at Helldorado, a look at the fight
choreography, a discussion with the film's visual effects team and the
I Stand Alone music video by
Godsmack. Also available that same day will be a Special
Edition Scorpion King DVD+CD (SRP $39.98), that will include
the DVD along with a bonus CD soundtrack featuring three
never-before-released live tracks by Godsmack.
The studio is also re-releasing their live action How
the Grinch Stole Christmas on DVD on 11/5, in a brand new
2-disc Deluxe Edition (SRP
$29.98). Just FYI.
Back tomorrow morning with more!
(EARLY UPDATE - 6/20/02 - 11:45 AM PDT)
Okay... LOTS of stuff for you today, so let's get started!
First up, I've posted a review of 20th Century Fox's upcoming
Five Star Collection, which streets on 7/30. And Adam's look
Films of John Waters continues with new reviews of New Line's
Flamingos on disc, along with Fox Lorber's
We've also updated our authorized mirror copy of
Official DVD FAQ to the most recent version, dated June
And we've kicked off a brand new
giving one lucky winner the chance to take home FIVE of the 100
Greatest Love Stories of All Time, in honor of
Years... 100 Passions television event.
Not bad for a morning's work. ;-)
(LATE UPDATE - 6/19/02 - 2:30 PM PDT)
We've got more DVD reviews for you this afternoon. Our own Adam
Jahnke's kicked off a look at
Films of John Waters on DVD, which includes new reviews of
Living, all released by New Line. Also, Matt Rowe's checked in
with a review of a new music release from an independent label -
Saunders: Bimini Nights.
We'll have more Waters DVD reviews tomorrow, along with reviews of
other new, upcoming DVD releases and a new Trivia
(EARLY UPDATE - 6/19/02 - 12:15 PM PDT)
So are you ready for this? Artisan's upcoming National
Lampoon's Van Wilder DVD (street date 8/20) is going to come
in dual 2-disc versions - R-rated and Unrated. The Unrated version gives
viewers a choice of "censored" or "uncensored"
menus. All the menu options are printed on T-shirts worn by star Ivana
Bozilovic (who plays Naomi in the film). If you select the "uncensored"
version, menu page changes happen as she takes off one shirt - going
momentarily topless - and puts on another with a different set of menu
options. The "censored" version will feature a black bar over
the... well you know... when she switches shirts. In the immortal final
words of Captain Kirk... "Oh, my."
For you music DVD fans, Journey will be offering a special DVD on June
28th - the 1984 Frontiers and Beyond
documentary. It runs approximately 90 minutes, features some 30 minutes
of concert footage, and will be available in its original full frame
aspect ratio with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. It will ONLY be available via
the band's online
store (I'm told it will appear there for preorder in the next week
Back soon with more...
More good news today in
Rumor Mill. We've got details on what to expect in Universal's
Brotherhood of the Wolf,
indications of a DVD version of Fox's 24
and at long last... Grease is the
word! Don't miss it!
(EVEN LATER UPDATE - 6/17/02 - 8:45 PM PDT)
Okay... the complete text of my
interview with Dune writer/director John Harrison is now
online. If you're a fan of the miniseries, Frank Herbert's book or just
filmmaking in general, I think you'll find it well worth a read. Enjoy!
(LATE UPDATE - 6/17/02 - 11:45 AM PDT)
Here's a funny story that defines irony (as our old buddy Andy Patrizio
said when he e-mailed me the news this morning):
City is no longer going to be carrying VHS. Yes, the company that
tried to shove the DIVX pay-per-view competitor to DVD down your throats
now apparently realizes that (gasp!), "Consumers want DVD, and we
want to meet that demand." You can't see it, but I've got one
helluva grin on my face right now. And it's gonna be a while before it
We've got some new Paramount and Fox information in
Rumor Mill, so be sure to check that out. We've also got word
in there on possible street dates for Back to
the Future and Brothehood of the
Wolf from Universal, so don't miss it.
Back later. Stay tuned...
(EARLY UPDATE -
6/17/02 - 11 AM PDT)
Boy... these late night World Cup soccer matches are killing me! Anyone
else stay up late to see the U.S. beat Mexico and advance to the "round
of eight" for the first time since 1930? Probably not. Like me for
years, most people in this country don't care much for the sport, or
simply don't know much. But a couple of weeks ago, I decided to watch a
first round match. And then I watched another. And now I'm hooked. The
thing I love about this sport is that it isn't spoiled by greedy
ownership and player strikes and outlandish salaries. These guys play
their asses off for 90 minutes and they do it with heart. There aren't
many sports left where you can say that. So hats off to you soccer fans
everywhere. I finally understand what you're all about. ;-)
Anyway, this isn't a sports page, it's a DVD page. So here's some new
information on upcoming DVDs. Columbia TriStar has added Rough
Magic to its 8/6 slate, Angels
over Broadway and The Razor's Edge
to 8/20, new SuperBit versions of Anaconda
and A Knight's Tale to 8/27, along
with Crush, The
Day the World Ended, Three
Stooges: Cops and Robbers and the movie-only versions of Close
Encounters of the Third Kind, Lawrence
of Arabia and Final Fantasy
that same day (given that they're on a single disc, those must be
UnderBit titles? Kidding). Criterion has added Hopscotch
and Ratcatcher to its 8/20 slate.
Goodtimes is releasing J.R.R. Tolkien: Master
of the Rings on 6/25. HBO has Jeff
Foxworthy: Totally Committed on 8/20. New Line is releasing
All About the Benjamins on 8/20,
with Blade II and The
Mack following on 9/3. Paramount's got April
Fool's Day, Don't Look Now,
Friday the 13th, Part VII: New Blood,
Friday the 13th, Part VIII: Jason Takes
Manhattan , My Bloody Valentine,
The Tenant, No
Way to Treat a Lady and Star Trek:
The Next Generation - Season Four all due on 9/3, with Changing
Lanes following on 9/10. Sony is releasing Casper
and Wendy's Ghostly Adventures on 7/30, along with Dr.
Seuss: ABC, Dr. Seuss: Best Busy
People, Dr. Seuss: Best Mother
Goose, Dr. Seuss: Best Silly
Stories, Dr. Seuss: Cat in the Hat
and Dr. Seuss: Green Eggs and Ham,
all on 8/13. Universal will release NBA
Finals 2002: Official Championship and Seduced:
Pretty When You Cry on 7/23, with Butt-Ugly
Martains: Best of the Bad Guys, Butt-Ugly
Martains: Hoverboard Heroes and Stanley
Cup 2002: Official Championship on 7/30, Rock
My World on 8/20, Big Fat Liar
on 9/24, along with a reissue of the live action How
the Grinch Stole Christmas on 11/5. Warner has added The
Best of the Bachelor to 9/30. And Warner Music is releasing
Charlatans UK: Just Lookin' 1990-1997
and Sparks: Live in London on
Okay then... we'll be back with a brand new special feature later this
afternoon, so stay tuned!
Hey - imagine that! A rare weekend post here at The
Digital Bits! I had to jump in here quickly to let you all
know that we've got some "this just in" information about new
upcoming TV product on DVD. You'll find that in
Rumor Mill , so don't miss it.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend!
(LATE UPDATE - 6/14/02 - 2:30 PM PDT)
Just to let you know, we've announced the winners of our
the City Trivia Contest . Congratulations to them and thanks
to everyone who entered this time around.
And that's it for this week. Be sure to check back on Monday, because
we're going to be posting a brand new special feature - an in-depth
director interview that we think you'll all enjoy. Plus, we'll have the
usual mix of DVD news, reviews and commentary.
Have a great weekend!
(EARLY UPDATE -
6/14/02 - 11:30 AM PDT)
Okay... we've got a bunch of stuff to cover this morning, so buckle up.
First up, Todd reminds me to mention that the new Pearl
Harbor 4-disc set includes a certificate for $10 off for
those of you who already purchased the 2-disc version. That's a nice
little bone to throw to fans who take the leap and buy both.
Also, word Jeff wants all of you to know that an insert in the Buffy
the Vampire Slayer: The Complete Second Season foretells the
release of The Complete Third Season
sometime in "Winter 2003". That likely means January or
In other news, on 8/27, Columbia TriStar is going to be releasing
single-disc versions of some of its recent 2-disc special editions
(priced at $19.95 SLP). These will include Lawrence
of Arabia, Close Encounters of the
Third Kind and Final Fantasy: The
Spirits Within. Note that the 2-disc versions will continue
to remain available.
Artisan's Stargate: Ultimate Edition
will be released on 10/22. Thanks to Bits
reader Henry U. for the heads-up. There are no details yet on extras,
but anamorphic widescreen video is almost a given. We'll let you know
when we can confirm more.
is praising the growth of the family market for DVD these days.
According to their estimates, more than 60 million homes will be
equipped to spin discs by the end of the year (40 million via standard
players and another on 20 videogame systems). Best of all, their
research indicates that 2/3rds of DVD consumers believe special features
are "very or somewhat important". Interesting.
Also this morning, for you tech-heads,
& Video magazine has a good online story with more details
on the 24P high-def cameras used to film Episode
II. Thanks to Mark B. for that.
Warner Home Video has aligned itself with Eagle Rock Entertainment (a
leading programmer of live concert performances) to develop, acquire and
distribute music DVDs. WHV plans an aggressive rollout of top-talent
releases, the first of which is Janet
Jackson: Live in Hawaii on 9/3. There are no details yet on
the disc specs. Note to Warner: If you really want to capture our
attention with music releases, two things are of utmost importance on
future titles: anamorphic widescreen video and dual Dolby Digital and
DTS 5.1 surround sound. 'Nuff said.
In other Warner news,
word that the studio didn't bother to protect the Harry Potter
DVD with Macrovision, which has long been a standard practice to
prevent video piracy. Industry analysts believe the studio did this to
save a few cents per copy, and to test whether this would negatively
impact sales of the title.
In still more Warner news, the studio has officially announced their
Gremlins and Gremlins
2 for 8/20 (SRP $19.98 each). Each disc will feature
anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, trailers,
never-before-seen footage and audio commentary by director Joe Dante
(also joined by cast members on the original film).
And in one last Warner note (or more accurately stated, PBS via
Warner), final details have emerged on Ken Burns' The
Civil War (9/17 - SRP $129.98). The good news is that the
5-disc set will include digitally remastered full frame video and a new
5.1 mix of the original mono soundtrack. And the extras are pretty
great, including the Behind the Scenes: The
Civil War Reconstruction documentary, five hours of audio
commentary from Ken Burns, additional interviews with Burns, writers
George Will, Shelby Foote and Stanley Crouch and musicians Jay Unger and
Molly Mason, biography cards (that showcase the most integral figures of
the Civil War), interactive battlefield maps, The
Civil War Challenge trivia game and two additional
featurettes with Burns on the filmmaking process. BUT... the bad news is
that it looks like Warner and PBS have abandoned the classy keep case
packaging they've used for every other Ken Burns title, in favor of the
dreaded monstrosity Artisan recently used for The
Rambo Trilogy and Frank Herbert's
Dune (see picture below). It's flimsy, easily damaged,
doesn't stay closed and doesn't even hold the discs securely. I'll be
damned if at least one disc isn't always loose and damaged inside this
packaging at all times. If it's not too late, I'd like to IMPLORE Warner
to change this back to keep cases. Hell, I'd rather The
Civil War be released in Snappers than this piece of do-do. I
don't know what the industry name for this packaging is, but it's second
only to those early, oversized Polygram jewel cases in terms of how much
we've come to hate it. And that's after ONLY TWO titles released in it.
(LATE UPDATE - 6/13/02 - 5 PM PDT)
We're back as promised with Jeff Kleist's in-depth review of Buena
Vista's amazing new 4-disc
Harbor: Vista Series Director's Cut (street date 7/2). And I
have to say, while I'm not a big fan of the film, this is as impressive,
well-planned and thoughtful a DVD special edition as I've seen in a long
time. Not only do you get reference quality picture and sound, the
multitude of extras here should impress even the most jaded of DVD
connoisseur. I'm guessing only New Line's The
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - Special Extended Edition
4-disc set has the chance to be a more satisfying DVD release this year.
In any case, Buena Vista's latest Vista Series release is extraordinary
and well worth having in your library.
(LATE UPDATE - 6/13/02 - 2:30 PM PDT)
Here's the first of the DVD reviews for you. Matt Rowe's given
the Road with Duke Ellington a look. Greg Suarez has turned in
his two cents on Fox's
Hal. And Jeff Kleist brings you his review of Fox's
the Vampire Slayer: The Complete Second Season, along with a
recent Emmy screener disc of the Buffy
musical episode Once More with Feeling.
It's not available for sale in stores, but it was sent out to many
subscribers of Daily Variety
magazine, and MANY copies have found their way to Ebay recently. So for
those of you who may be thinking of buying one, Jeff wanted you to know
what you're getting into.
Also today, a quick personal note. We just wanted to send out a quick
hello to Todd's wife, Erin, and my wife, Sarah, who both celebrated
their birthdays recently. We appreciate you more than you'll ever know.
Speaking of which, it's Father's Day this weekend, so take Dad to a
baseball game or something to show him you care. Or get him a DVD.
Anything but another tie. ;-)
Back with that review of Buena Vista's new Pearl
Harbor: Vista Series later this afternoon.
(EARLY UPDATE - 6/13/02 - 10:30 AM PDT)
Before we start posting all those reviews, I wanted to jump in here
with a few quick items. So let's get started...
First of all, we've got the specs on New Line's Blade
II: Platinum Series DVD. The disc will street on 9/3 as
expected. Look for a 2-disc set, to include the film in anamorphic
widescreen video and both Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 audio. The first
disc will also deliver audio commentary with director Guillermo Del Toro
and writer David Goyer, a second audio commentary with producer Peter
Frankfurt and Wesley Snipes and an isolated score. The supplemental disc
will add an interactive "director's notebook" with intro by
Del Toro, an interactive collection of original documentaries on various
aspects of the production, a production art gallery, the original
theatrical press kit, deleted/alternate scenes, the Blade
II video game survival guide, Cypress Hill and Roni Size's
Child of the Wild West music
video, theatrical trailers and (via DVD ROM) the screenplay and original
website. SRP is $29.95.
And here's the details on Warner's Queen of
the Damned (street date 8/27). The disc will be offered in
dual anamorphic widescreen and full frame versions (SRP $26.98 each).
Both discs will include Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, 30 minutes of
additional scenes, 3 behind-the-scenes featurettes (Aaliyah
Remembered, The Music of Lestat
and Creating the Vampires), audio
commentary by director Michael Rymer, producer Jorge Saralegui and
composer Richard Gibbs, 4 music videos, 2 extended concert sequences, a
gag reel, a production book still gallery (including storyboards,
artwork, sketches, designs and costumes), the theatrical trailer,
filmographies and other DVD-ROM features.
We also have the scoop on Warner's Showtime
(8/13), which will also be released in dual anamorphic widescreen and
full frame versions (SRP $26.98 each). Extras will include Dolby Digital
5.1 audio, additional scenes (including "hilarious" improvised
Eddie Murphy booth confessionals) and 3 extended scenes, audio
commentary by director Tom Dey, producer Jorge Saralegui, the HBO
First Look: The Making of Showtime featurette and a
Here's a look at the artwork for Blade II,
Queen of the Damned and Showtime,
along with 20th Century Fox's The Mary Tyler
Moore Show: The Complete First Season which streets on 9/24.
Oh, hell - let's keep going. Here's also the artwork for Fox's Kissing
Jessica Stein (9/17), along with The
Red Curtain Trilogy boxed set (9/10).
The Red Curtain Trilogy box set
will contain the recent DVD special editions of all three of director
Baz Lurhmann's hit films, Strictly Ballroom
(from Buena Vista), Romeo+Juliet
and Moulin Rouge (note that these
are the exact same discs already released). The set will also include a
special Behind the Red Curtain
bonus disc of extra materials exclusive to this box set. Among the
extras on the bonus disc are Red Curtain
Cinema (including 3 levels of branching and more than 20
pieces of video), House of Iona,
the One Day I'll Fly Away music
video, the final script for Moulin Rouge,
5 versions of the Strictly Ballroom
script, the Romeo+Juliet script,
Dubsy's Dirt, Toulouse
Tonight and other extras via DVD-ROM. Audio for the extras
disc will be Dolby Digital 5.1 with video in various aspect ratios. Note
that the box set will be available for a limited time (until Valentine's
Day, 2003) for an SRP of $69.98.
Also this morning, we've got good news for you South
Park fans in The
Rumor Mill. Don't miss it!
And in other news around the site, we've updated the
DVD Player Sales charts to include the 244,760 players shipped
in the 4th week of May (ending 5/24). We've also added some 230,311
DVD/VCR combination players which, as of May, are being included by CEA
in the DVD stats. The month of May finishes with some 941,673 players
shipped to dealers. And that takes the format-to-date number for the
U.S. up to a grand total of 31,333,050 players.
Back with the first of those DVD reviews in a little while. Stay
Hey gang - just wanted to give you all a quick update. I'm busy working
on a pretty lengthy interview transcript today (to be posted VERY soon),
so that's keeping me occupied. Also we've got several new DVD reviews
being done this afternoon, including Buena Vista's new 4-disc Pearl
Harbor: Vista Series DVD. So please excuse the lack of a
substantial update today, and watch for a big one tomorrow.
Lots of good stuff on the way, so stay tuned!
(LATE UPDATE - 6/11/02 - 10 AM PDT)
For those of you who are interested in developments in digital
filmmaking, there's an interesting story over at
Wars.com. It seems producer Rick McCallum is talking with Sony
and Fuji about the next generation of high definition digital cameras
that might be available for use in filming Episode
III next year. Apparently, the 24p high-def video cameras
used for Episode II had a 2.2
million pixel resolution. However, the cameras in development now will
boast a resolution of 10 million pixels. Damn, I would LOVE to see a
demonstration of a 10 million pixel camera... VERY interesting.
(EARLY UPDATE - 6/11/02 - 8 AM PDT)
Paramount will today announce a slate of classic horror films for
release on 9/3. The titles include Friday the
13th, Part 7, Friday the 13th,
Part 8, April Fool's Day,
Don't Look Now, The
Tenant, My Bloody Valentine
and No Way to Treat a Lady.
Also, we have reliable word that once the studio has released Friday
the 13th, Parts 7 & 8 (which complete the series on DVD),
they'll begin looking at what to do with the future of the franchise on
disc. That could eventually mean special editions of some sort if the
titles continue to sell well. Patience is required by fans, however,
because nothing is set as yet.
And in another bit of Paramount news, we've confirmed with the studio
that Star Trek III will be
released as a collector's edition - but NOT a new director's cut -
before the year is out.
In other news today, you can file this in the "at least someone
has some common sense" category:
fans in Australia have been returning their copies of Harry Potter,
not because it's widescreen (and they hate the black bars), but because
Warner actually released the title full frame only and fans aren't too
happy about it! You go, kids. You're our kinda DVD people.