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Site created 12/15/97.




page updated: 7/18/02



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 7/1/02 - 6/11/02)


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7/1/02

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 Yellow 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 The Bits. This 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 Trivia Contest. Thanks to everyone who entered!

Stay tuned...

(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 three films.

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 sweepstakes."


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 Black Knight (the new title), along with Universal's The 'Burbs and Warner's Maverick. Brad Pilcher chimes in with a review of Fox's Drive Me Crazy. And Adam Jahnke rounds out the day with his take on MGM's Some Like it Hot: Special Edition and Paramount's Survivor 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 that art we posted a few days ago is indeed the final cover art for the box. Just FYI.

Around the Net, Yahoo 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.

GreaseChanging Lanes

We Were SoldiersEd Wood

Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of BalanceBrotherhood of the Wold

And finally today, we've created a new way to access the 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 DVD-ROM features.

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...

DinotopiaIce Age: Special Edition

Stay tuned...

(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 a 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 on the official Star Wars site for those who are interested. Thanks to Lane A for that.

Stay tuned...

(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 Alpha Omega (the people who did the restoration work), as well as Kino's 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.

Stay tuned...

(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 Star 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 at The Films of John Waters on DVD. It's his review of The John Waters DVD Scrapbook, which is only available as a mail-away bonus from New Line if you buy their other Waters sets on disc.

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.

Stay tuned...

(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 FYI.

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.

Stay tuned...

6/25/02

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, Goldeneye, The 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 this 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." Click 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. Click 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 film's official site for that.

Around the Bits today, we've updated the CEA 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 accordingly.

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 The 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.

Stay tuned...

(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...

Earth vs. the Flying SaucersE.T. Ultimate Gift Set

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.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY 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:

Liz Haggar
Paramount Home Entertainment
5555 Melrose Avenue
Hollywood CA 90038.

If you have any questions, you may call the consumer hotline at 323-956-8070.

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 The Rumor Mill, so don't miss it.

Also today, we've reorganized the FAQ & 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.

Stay tuned...

6/23/02

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 GeoDataSys.com 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.

The Final CountdownThe Back to the Future Trilogy box set

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, Footloose, Urban 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 The 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 Speed: Five Star Collection, which streets on 7/30. And Adam's look at The Films of John Waters continues with new reviews of New Line's Female Trouble and Pink Flamingos on disc, along with Fox Lorber's Divine Trash documentary.

We've also updated our authorized mirror copy of Jim Taylor's Official DVD FAQ to the most recent version, dated June 14th.

And we've kicked off a brand new Trivia Contest, giving one lucky winner the chance to take home FIVE of the 100 Greatest Love Stories of All Time, in honor of AFI's 100 Years... 100 Passions television event.

Not bad for a morning's work. ;-)

Stay tuned...

(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 The Films of John Waters on DVD, which includes new reviews of Pecker, Hairspray, Polyester and Desperate Living, all released by New Line. Also, Matt Rowe's checked in with a review of a new music release from an independent label - Nathaniel Saunders: Bimini Nights.

We'll have more Waters DVD reviews tomorrow, along with reviews of other new, upcoming DVD releases and a new Trivia Contest.

Stay tuned...

(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 or so).

Back soon with more...

6/18/02

More good news today in The 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!

Stay tuned...

(EVEN LATER UPDATE - 6/17/02 - 8:45 PM PDT)

Okay... the complete text of my in-depth 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!

Stay tuned...

(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): Circuit 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 comes off.

We've got some new Paramount and Fox information in The 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 7/23.

Okay then... we'll be back with a brand new special feature later this afternoon, so stay tuned!

6/15/02

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 The 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 Sex and 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 February.

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.

Disney 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, Film & 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, there's 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. Blecch!

The dreaded packaging.

Stay tuned...

(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 Pearl 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.

Back tomorrow!

(LATE UPDATE - 6/13/02 - 2:30 PM PDT)

Here's the first of the DVD reviews for you. Matt Rowe's given Docudrama's One the Road with Duke Ellington a look. Greg Suarez has turned in his two cents on Fox's Shallow Hal. And Jeff Kleist brings you his review of Fox's Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete Second Season, along with a look at the 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 theatrical trailer.

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.

Blade 2: Platinum SeriesQueen of the Damned (widescreen)

Showtime (widescreen)The Mary Tyler Moore Show: The Complete First Season

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).

Kissing Jessica SteinThe Red Curtain Trilogy

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 CEA 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 tuned...

6/12/02

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 Star 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.

Stay tuned...

(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: DVD 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.

Stay tuned...


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