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page updated: 10/7/02



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 9/4/02 - 8/13/02)


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(LATER UPDATE - 9/4/02 - 6 PM PDT)

Okay... we've posted a trio of new DVD reviews for you this afternoon, as expected. First up, Dan Kelly takes a look at HBO's recent Sex and the City: The Complete Third Season on disc. Next, Graham's got his thoughts on Fox's Someone Like You. And finally, Todd and I check in with a tag-team review of Fox's upcoming 24: The Complete First Season (street date 9/17).

I have to tell you... I originally started to watch 24 when it was broadcast on Fox earlier this year, but I stopped after missing a couple of episodes. I kept taping the show however, figuring I'd just watch them all at once when the season was done. So the finale finally airs, and just as I'm getting ready to watch the tapes, Fox announces that they're releasing the series on DVD! Well, the discs finally showed up last week and I put one in. Before long, I was hooked. I watched the ENTIRE first season, episode after episode, in about three days. I swear, I haven't been that addicted to watching a TV series on DVD since the first Sopranos box came out! Make no mistake... 24 on DVD is like serious drugs. And I'm completely addicted. Fox's plan in releasing these episodes was to get people to tune in for the second season. Well, it's worked. I'm DEFINITELY tuning in... ;-)

Last, but not least today, we've got word in The Rumor Mill that should make you Star Trek fans happy. Live long and prosper.

Back tomorrow!

(LATE UPDATE - 9/4/02 - 2:30 PM PDT)

We'll be back with more soon, but first I wanted to give you all an update on the HD-DVD: One Format Only! campaign. As of this afternoon, the following sites and organizations have joined The Digital Bits in the effort to promote the creation of a single, unified format for high-definition DVD:

The Cinema Laser
DVD Angle
The DVD Cyber Center
DVD File
DVD Insider
DVD Review
DVD Talk
The Home Theater Forum
IGN DVD

In addition, a story on the campaign is expected to appear in an upcoming issue of Video Store magazine. And we expect to have an official website for the campaign online in the next few days. In the meantime, ANYONE wishing to participate in the campaign should read our temporary information page. All you have to do to join is:

1) Place one of the campaign logos prominently on your website and...

2) Link the logo back to the information page (eventually, all links should go to the official campaign site)

Easy as pie. And I think I speak for all of us participating in this effort when I say that we're thrilled to see such united support from the online DVD community!

Back soon...

(EARLY UPDATE - 9/4/02 - 9:30 AM PDT)

Hey gang! Hope you all had a great long holiday weekend. We're back a day later than expected, but for good reason. This weekend my wife, Sarah, and I celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary by driving up to the central coast of California. Just beautiful... and relaxing too!

Anyway, I wanted to let you know that we'll be back this afternoon with a number of new DVD reviews. We've got enough completed to post several a day for the rest of the week. So that's exactly what we'll be doing. Check back later for the first batch.

I also wanted to address a sad note this morning. Word arrived this weekend that legendary filmmaker J. Lee Thompson passed away in Canada at the age of 88. As many of you know, among the many films Thompson directed are The Guns of Navarone, the original Cape Fear and two of the Planet of the Apes sequels (he once even owned the successful franchise). In June of 2000, I had the great pleasure of interviewing J. Lee as part of our coverage of Columbia TriStar's DVD release of Guns of Navarone. And I must say, speaking with him was one of the great pleasures of my work here at The Bits so far. He was a true gentlemen... charming, intelligent and completely generous and genuine. All of us here at The Digital Bits will miss him. Give the interview a read and spin a copy of Guns in his honor.

Back later. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 8/30/02 - 3 PM PDT)

We've got no less than FOUR new DVD reviews for you this afternoon. Our own Brad Pilcher has checked in with a look at the new documentary release, WTC: The First 24 Hours, as well as Disney's 2-disc Atlantis: The Lost Empire - Collector's Edition. And Graham Greenlee has reviews on Miramax's 2-disc Amélie and Paramount's Soapdish.

In other news today, we've launched a page that explains the mission of the HD-DVD: One Format Only! Campaign. The logo you see under the button bar is now linked to this page. We're proud to welcome DVD Review and The Home Theater Forum to this effort.

We've also updated the CEA DVD Player Sales numbers and the VideoScan DVD Sales chart above.

And finally today, we have word that ADV has set Farscape: Season Two, Volume 3 for 10/15. Buena Vista will release Bad Company on 11/12, with Reign of Fire following on 11/19. And Paramount's Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season Six is officially set for 12/3.

With that, we consign another week to the annals of history. Have a great Labor Day weekend and we'll see you back here on Tuesday!

(EARLY UPDATE - 8/30/02 - 11:45 AM PDT)

Thanks to everyone who sent in details on Disney's Lilo and Stitch DVD. Unfortunately, there have been a LOT of questions, so we went straight to Disney to confirm the following information. Set to street on 12/3, this SINGLE-disc set (yes, that's right - SINGLE-disc) will include anamorphic widescreen video (1.66:1 aspect ratio), Dolby Digital 5.1 audio along with deleted scenes (presented in various states of completion), both new and old InterSTITCHals (aka teaser trailers), a featurette with country star Wynonna, the A-Teens music video for I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You, interactive games and the interactive DisneyPedia: Hawaii (featuring a behind the scenes look at the production and the island settings). SRP is $24.99. I also know that a number of features created for this disc, including director's commentary and the film's original "747" ending, are NOT on this edition. So I'm STILL left wondering if a 2-disc collector's edition isn't planned for 2003. I'll post more when I can confirm it.

In other Buena Vista news, their Miramax division will be releasing Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures on 9/24 (SRP $19.99) in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. This is the 109-minute cut of the film.

Also on 9/24, you'll find the new Swingers: Collector's Series DVD (SRP $19.99). The disc will include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, audio commentary with director Doug Liman, "illustrated action" commentary with actors Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn, 5 deleted scenes, the Making it in Hollywood documentary, concept art and storyboards and the short film Swingblade.

Finally, Miramax will also debut The Grifters: Collector's Series DVD (also 9/24, SRP $19.99) in anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Bonus features include audio commentary with director Stephen Frears, screenwriter Donald Westlake and actors John Cusack and Anjelica Huston, as well as The Making of The Grifters featurette, a featurette on novelist Jim Thompson and The Grifters scrapbook.

We also have details on the 11/26 release of Men in Black II from Columbia TriStar (SLP $26.98). The 2-disc special edition (available in both full frame and anamorphic widescreen versions) will include Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, , "intergalactic" production featurettes, "alien creature" featurettes, an "alien broadcast", an alternate ending, a blooper reel, audio commentary with director Barry Sonnenfeld with optional "telestrator" diagrams, theatrical trailers and one-sheets, filmographies, Will Smith's Black Suits Comin’ (Nod Your Head) music video, a multi-angle scene deconstruction, and DVD ROM features (including an interactive game, screen saver, concept designs, the MIB II script and weblinks).

And Artisan's hard at work on a High Noon: 50th Anniversary DVD (street date 10/22), which will include the film in a remastered transfer (aspect ratio 1.37:1), Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, audio commentary with Tim Zinnemann (the son of director Fred Zinnemann), Johnathan Foreman (the son of co-writer Carl Foreman) and Maria Cooper-Janis (the daughter of Gary Cooper) among others. Look also for a new documentary, a featurette the trailer and more.

By the way, in case you hadn't heard (and you care) Major League Baseball players and owners officially reached an agreement that will avert a strike, which had been set for today. As a fan, however, I can't help still being a pissed off that there was even talk of a strike given the kind of money that's being made here. Despite being a fan whose Minnesota Twins were almost contracted before the season (and who are now leading their division and headed for the playoffs), all this nonsense has almost complete killed my interest. Good grief...

Anyway, back this afternoon with new DVD reviews. And don't forget that our two Trivia Contests end tonight - get your entries in quick!

(LATE UPDATE - 8/29/02 - 12:45 PM PDT)

Okay folks... as it was with Divx and anamorphic widescreen, it's time early adopters, home theater buffs and DVD fans got active on the HD-DVD front. So, just as we did with the campaign against Divx and in support of anamorphic widescreen, we've created a logo for you to post on your websites to show united support for a single HD-DVD format. The HD-DVD: One Format Only! logo is now available (below) for both white and black backgrounds. Use it freely, spread it widely and we don't care about credit or a link - that's not what this is about.

HD-DVD: One Format Only!HD-DVD: One Format Only!

The bottom line is that the power of the online DVD community has been used before to benefit everyone, and it's time it was used again. The industry needs to know how YOU feel... and that you WILL NOT tolerate a format war.

In other site news this morning, I wanted to let all of you know that we've got a number of new DVD reviews that we'll be posting tomorrow morning. And we're still working on the transcript of our Comic-Con DVD Producers Panel, so never fear. Since audience Q&A was an extensive part of the discussion, the process of transcribing the recording is VERY slow going. But rest assured, we'll get it up as soon as we can.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 8/29/02 - 11:45 AM PDT)

The industry wrangling over the shape of the next generation, high-definition DVD format has been "kicked up a notch" today. As many of you know, some in the industry (led by Warner Bros) have been pushing hard for a red-laser based format, using discs of similar capacity to today's existing DVD discs, and simply with higher compression to fit high resolution video onto the discs. The idea is that these discs could take advantage of existing manufacturing resources and thus be brought to market faster. Then there is also the Blu-Ray format proposed by Sony and Panasonic, which would take advantage of the finer wavelength of the blue laser and a physical disc capable of storing much greater information.

Well, this morning, Toshiba (which was one of the leading companies behind the development of current DVD) and NEC officially announced that they have proposed a different spec to the DVD Forum - one also based on the blue laser. According to Toshiba, its format could be ready for launch as early as next year, and the players would be backwards compatible with existing DVD discs. They also claim that the new format could still use existing DVD manufacturing plants. And it would also be ready for video recording (you can read more about this announcement here, here, here and here).

What we're starting to see is the development of the kind of format war that resulted in VHS vs. the now defunct Sony Betamax format, and the current confusion of DVD-Audio vs. Sony's SACD, which has significantly hurt the move to high-resolution audio.

At The Digital Bits, we absolutely back a blue-laser based HD-DVD format. In our opinion, if the industry is going to launch an HD-DVD format, they should do it right, rather than simply rushing an inferior red-laser based format to market. But the industry also needs to get its ducks in a row. With current DVD selling like gangbusters, ANY HD-DVD format is going to be a tough sell to consumers who have just made the move from videotape to disc. The success of a unified DVD format and the lack of interest in DVD-Audio and SACD should be a warning. Whichever HD-DVD format is chosen, ONE FORMAT NEEDS TO BE CHOSEN. If two competing HD formats are launched at the same time, HD-DVD will be dead on arrival. Sony, for one, has never shied away from going it alone by launching its own competing formats - think Betamax, DAT and MiniDisc. We've got nothing against Sony or any other manufacturer. But a format war absolutely CAN NOT HAPPEN. So our advice to the industry is to sit down, talk it out and negotiate a single, unified format like they did with standard DVD. Our advice to Hollywood is to then get on board that unified format. And, most importantly, our advice to all of our readers is this: get active, get vocal and DEMAND that a single unified format be chosen. Let the DVD Forum know that you simply won't tolerate a format war.

Let me state this bluntly: it's time the entertainment industry and the electronics industry got their shit together. And it's time consumers let them know it.

Back with more later...

8/28/02

Okay... back in action. As I rolled our of bed this morning, I swear I could hear some crazed voice shouting, "It's alive... it's ALIVE!!" Nothing like a summer head cold to really throw you for a loop.

Anyway, this morning we've got word on the DVD release of Disney's Lilo and Stitch. The disc will street on 12/5, unfortunately only as a single-disc edition. There's no word yet on features, but we happen to know that a lot of special edition material was produced for the title. So the question is, will there be a more ultimate, 2-disc edition to follow?

Also in December, Disney is set to "disappear" several of their animated DVD releases, placing them on moratorium on 12/31. These include Peter Pan, Peter Pan: Return to Never Land, The Little Mermaid II, Beauty and the Beast: Platinum Edition (less than 90 days after its initial release) and Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas.

In other news this morning, we've got details on the contents of Warner's Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood DVD, which streets on 11/5 (SRP $26.98). Look for anamorphic widescreen or full frame video (your choice), Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, additional scenes not seen in theatres, two commentaries (one with director/screenwriter Callie Khouri and actor Ashley Judd; the other with Khouri, producers Bonnie Bruckheimer and Hunt Lowry, executive producer Lisa Stewart, editor Andrew Marcus and composer T-Bone Burnett), the Unlocking the Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood documentary, an interactive scrapbook and the Alison Krauss music video for Sitting in the Window of My Room. So heads up guys - bring home a copy of Ya-Ya for the wife or girlfriend when you're out getting Spider-Man, Babylon 5: Season One, Band of Brothers and X-Files: Season Six, and just MAYBE she'll look the other way when you also buy Star Wars: Episode II, Lord of the Rings, South Park: Season One, Sports Night, Ice Age and MIB II later in the month! Anyone out there taking a second, part-time job just to buy DVDs this holiday season? Seems to be becoming a yearly tradition for a lot of readers. ;-)

Warner's Scooby-Doo: The Movie streets on 10/11 (SRP also $26.98), and will include anamorphic widescreen or full frame video (your choice), Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, deleted scenes, 4 mini-featurettes, the Outkast music video, a behind-the-scenes documentary, 2 audio commentaries from the cast and the filmmakers, DVD-ROM games, a 2-player "Scooby arcade challenge", hidden extras and more.

Also this morning, Criterion has announced a new batch of DVD releases. Down by Law and The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp are due on 10/22. And Contempt and Solaris follow on 11/12. SRP for each of these discs is $39.95.

Here's a look at the DVD cover art for Lilo and Stitch and the Criterion titles. Titles with links can be pre-ordered now at DVD Planet.

ContemptSolaris

Down by LawThe Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

Lilo and Stitch

Finally this morning, our own Adam Jones was fortunate to attend a screening of Quitting at Sony Pictures last week. Here's what he has to say:

"Quitting is a remarkable film which is to be released later this year by Sony Pictures Classics. It's a true story that traces seven years of Jia Hongsheng, once a prominent Chinese movie star who has succumbed to drug and alcohol addiction. Distraught by Jia's current mental and physical state, his parents literally pack up everything they own from the small town in Northeast China and travel to Beijing to be with their son. The film explores Jia's spiritual journey from his saddening downfall into a contemptible, rotten individual, his inner conflict with himself and his parents and eventually his redemption in rediscovering himself and the value of family.

Quitting is unique in its unorthodox approach to the material. Instead of delving into the seedy, often surreal world of drugs, it remains grounded on a human level by having the entire cast, including the most minor roles, are all real people portraying themselves. Director Zhang Yang isn't interested in scenes of people shooting up, utilizing nifty camera tricks, or characters experiencing trippy hallucinations. We've seen Trainspotting. We've seen Requiem for a Dream. Yang wisely opts for the spiritual angle which in turn keeps the subject fresh. All the actors, or I should say "people", in the film are nothing short of extraordinary, courageously reliving a dark period in their lives to play on film. It's real. It's unflinching. It's damn good. Be sure to look for it at your local art house theater. I guarantee you will be hearing about this film at the next Academy Awards."


Stay tuned...

8/27/02

Hey Gang... I wanted to make a quick post here just to let you all know that I'm down with a bit of a head cold today, and so am taking the day to rest up. But we'll be back tomorrow with our usual batch of news, reviews and more.

Stay tuned... (which, if you all could HEAR me right now, would sound something like this: "Sday tuuuud...")!

8/26/02

Well... the week begins anew. It's so far a slow news day, but we do have a pretty interesting link for you. The New York Times online has a big article on DVD today, and how it's quickly relegating VHS to the dust bin (we understand it's also on the paper's front page). In order to read the online version, you have to register for the online service, but it's free (you can also read it online here). And as it's a pretty extensive article, it's well worth a look. Here's an interesting quote:

"Some recent hit films, like The Fast and the Furious and Training Day, have earned more money from their DVD releases than from their first-run theater engagements. And for the first time, DVD sales have surpassed those of videocassettes, even though DVD players are in only about a third of American households, compared with a saturation of more than 90 percent for videocassette players."

And here's another even more interesting quote from Martin Greenwald, the president of Image Entertainment:

"The initial release of the motion picture in movie theaters is becoming, to a large extent, little more than a preview trailer for the subsequent purchase of the DVD."

Also today, we've updated the CEA DVD Player Sales numbers to include the 121,965 players that shipped to retailers here in Region 1 in the second week of August, ending 8/9. All charts have been updated accordingly.

And finally this morning, we have more upcoming DVD announcements for you. Artisan will release Derailed on 10/15 and Don't Look Down, Shipment and Wishmaster 4: Prophecy Fulfilled on 10/22. BFS has Dangerous Lady and Wives of Henry VIII set for 10/8. Columbia TriStar has added Mysterious Island and Soul Assassin to their 10/29 slate. Cramer Productions will release Boston Red Sox: 100 Years of Baseball History on 9/24. Goodtimes has announced The Sopranos: Unauthorized for 9/24. Kino International will release The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (silent - 1919), The Golem (silent - 1920), Nosferatu (silent - 1922) and Waxworks (silent - 1924) all on 9/24. New Line's Lord of the Rings: Special Extended Edition is officially set for 11/12. Pioneer's Silent Mobius: DVD Collection #3 is due on 10/22, with Armitage III following on 11/5. Rhino will release First Works on 10/8 and Gigantor, Simply Red: Live in London and Wild Style on 10/22. Sony will release the 1957 version of Dr. Seuss: How the Grinch Stole Christmas on 9/24, along with Lamb Chop's Chanukah and Passover Surprise, Madeline's Christmas, Madeline's Winter Vacation and Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol. 20th Century Fox's The Red Curtain Trilogy is due on 9/10. Universal's Baretta: Season One and Best of Beretta street on 10/29, with Land Before Time II: The Great Valley Adventure, Land Before Time III: The Time of the Great Giving and Land Before Time IV: Journey to Big Water following on 12/10. Universal Music will release Brenda K. Starr: All Time Greatest Hits and Tricky: A Ruff Guide/Naked and Famous on 9/17, and Nanci Griffith: Winter Marquee and Raffi: Raffi in Concert on 9/24. VCI's Jungle Jim (1936 serial), Return of the Street Fighter, Sister Street Fighter, Street Fighter and Street Fighter's Last Revenge all street on 9/24. And finally, Warner will release Magic School Bus: The Holiday Special on 10/8, with dual full frame and widescreen versions of Eight Legged Freaks on 10/29.

Stay tuned...

8/23/02

Our friends over at the R-2 Project have been posting screen shots from the international version of the upcoming Black Hawk Down: Special Edition DVD. The international version is a 2-disc release with the following extras (this may not be a totally comprehensive list): anamorphic widescreen video (2.35:1), Digital Digital 5.1 sound, audio commentary with director Ridley Scott and Jerry Bruckheimer, audio commentary with author Mark Bowden & screenwriter Ken Nolan, audio commentary with real Task Force Ranger veterans MSgt. Matt Eversmann, Col. Tom Matthews (Ret.), Col. Danny McKnight (Ret.) and Col. Lee Van Arsdale (Ret.), The Essence of War: Making Black Hawk Down documentary, Designing Mogadishu featurette, production design archive, storyboards, Ridleygrams, Jerry Bruckheimer's BHD photo album, photo galleries, title design explorations and 6 deleted scenes plus a narrated opening and an alternate ending (with optional audio commentary by Ridley Scott).

Keep in mind that the U.S. release (expected early in 2003 from Columbia TriStar) will include ALL of the above, plus a THIRD disc of extras (trailers and lots more) as well.

In other news, we've got new details for you on Buena Vista's effort to exchange your defective Jackie Brown: Collector's Edition DVDs. For the record, the problem is that on the "trivia" text option, the subtitle stream loses sync between Chapters 10 & 11. The studio is working on a solution and expects to begin manufacturing fixed discs soon. Exchanges can be arranged when the discs are ready by calling Buena Vista's customer service department at 1-800-477-2811. Thanks to Bits readers Jeff K. and Justin M. for reporting on their experiences with BVHE on this.

Also this morning, our own Adam Jahnke just had the chance to view a press screening of Godfrey Reggio's Naqoyqatsi. Here's what he had to say about it:

"OK, this is gonna be short and sweet. If you're a fan of Koyaanisqatsi and Powaqqatsi (not to mention Anima Mundi, the cute 'n' cuddly baby brother of the Qatsi series), suffice it to say that Naqoyqatsi is in every sense the movie you've been waiting 14 long years for. If you think those are just elaborate typos instead of movie titles up there, then you owe it to yourself to get on board and discover three of the finest art films ever made.

Naqoyqatsi is a Hopi word that roughly translates as "war as a way of life" (and, by the way, it's pronounced nah koy kahtsee). With the first two movies in the Qatsi series, Godfrey Reggio examined the ongoing struggle between man, nature, and technology. With Naqoyqatsi, it seems technology has won... but we're not evolving fast enough to keep up with it. In an intentionally ironic move, Reggio has used cutting-edge digital technology to create the film (and believe me, the irony is not lost on me that you're reading this little review on a computer right now). The result is a transcendent, spellbinding movie unlike anything you've seen before, including the first two Qatsi pictures.

Philip Glass's score (which features cello solos by Yo-Yo Ma) ranks with the best work he's ever done, whether for film, opera or insane multimedia event. Quite simply, this is one of those rare films that literally makes you look at the world around you in a whole new way. It's easily one of the best movies I've seen this year and I encourage each and every one of you to check it out. It's scheduled to open on October 18 in selected cities. As David Letterman would say, I just pray your city has been selected."


Here's a link to the film's official website with more information on potential screenings in your area. And don't forget that Koyaanisqatsi and Powaqqatsi are being released on DVD by MGM on 9/17. Naqoyqatsi will likely follow next year.

Around the Net today, our own Matt Rowe (also editor of MusicTAP) sent over a link to a great business article on MSN on the alleged woes of file sharing and the REAL problems the music industry is facing - problems definitely of their own making. Good reading.

We've got two more pieces of upcoming DVD cover art for you today - Columbia TriStar's Mad About You: The Complete First Season and Warner's Eight Legged Freaks (both due on 10/29). Both can be pre-ordered now at DVD Planet.

Mad About You: The Complete First SeasonEight Legged Freaks

And finally this morning, Wellspring has announced a few new upcoming DVDs. Look for The Doe Boy, Girls Can't Swim and a pair of Fassbinder titles, The Marriage of Maria Braun and Katzelmacher, all on 9/24.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 8/22/02 - 2 PM PDT)

The winners of the 5th Annual DVD Awards were announced last night at the DVD Entertainment 2002 conference in Hollywood, in a special ceremony hosted by film critic and historian Leonard Maltin. I was honored to serve as a judge for these awards, so I'd like to extend my personal congratulations to all the winners. And here they are...

Best Packaging
Evil Dead: Book of the Dead, Anchor Bay Entertainment

Best Menu Design
Star Wars: Episode I, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Best Restoration
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs , Buena Vista Home Entertainment

Best Authoring
Star Wars: Episode I, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Best Video Presentation
Shrek, Dreamworks Home Entertainment

Best Audio Presentation (Tie)
Star Wars: Episode I, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Pearl Harbor: Vista Series, Buena Vista Home Entertainment

Best Educational/Documentary
Ken Burns: Jazz, Warner Home Video

Best DVD-ROM Content

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Warner Home Video

Best Music Release
U2 Live From Boston, Dreamchaser Productions

Best DVD-Audio
Queen - A Night at the Opera, DTS Entertainment

Best Special Edition
The Godfather Collection, Paramount Home Entertainment

Best Standard Release
Legend of 1900, Image Entertainment

Best of Show
Citizen Kane, Warner Home Video

Viewer's Choice
Star Wars: Episode I, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Special Achievement Award
John Q: Infinifilm, New Line Home Entertainment

You can find the complete list of nominees here. Special thanks to Guido Henkel of DVD Review for all his hard work in organizing these awards.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 8/22/02 - NOON PDT)

We've got another Rumor Mill update for you this afternoon, with a rundown of MGM's anticipated DVD release list for December. You Steve Irwin fans should be happy, we've confirmed The Producers and there are other great classic titles as well. Don't miss it!

Watch for our new Trivia Contest later today...

(EARLY UPDATE - 8/22/02 - 12:01 AM PDT)

We've got some news today that is going to get you fans of classic Universal TV shows excited. The studio has officially announced that it is releasing Law & Order: The First Season (6 discs, SRP $99.98, all 22 episodes with introduction by producer Dick Wolf) on 10/15. Baretta: Season One will follow on 10/29 (3 discs, SRP $39.98, all 13 episodes), as will The Best of Baretta (SRP $19.98, includes the series pilot and 2 "bonus" episodes featuring Sammy Davis Jr).

Better still, Universal is hurriedly working to bring eight of its other classic series to disc as well. Slated for DVD release in the near future (late 2002 and early 2003) are Battlestar Galactica, Quantum Leap, Earth: Final Conflict, Sliders, Emergency, the original Dragnet, Magnum P.I. and The Rockford Files.

We're not done yet. Rhino will be delivering a Gigantor boxed set on 10/22 (SRP $59.98, 4 discs, 26 uncut, black and white episodes, interview with director/producer/writer Fred Ladd, director's commentary, photo gallery and more), a Mystery Science Theater 3000 boxed set on 11/12 (SRP $59.95, featuring the films Catalina Caper, The Creeping Terror, Bloodlust and Skydivers with AND without MST3K commentary, plus trailers), and The Transformers: Season Two boxed set also on 11/12 (SRP $59.95, 4 discs, 24 episodes plus extras and special features).

We also have word of MORE great Rhino TV series DVDs that are in production for 2003 in The Rumor Mill this morning, along with some Star Trek news as well. Don't miss it!

Wanna better look at the 4-disc Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring - Extended DVD Version due on 11/12? Here you go (click the pic to preorder now at DVD Planet)...

Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring - Extended DVD Version

Anyone a fan of the The Chronicles of Narnia? Home Vision and the BBC are releasing a 3-disc set (containing all 3 films, plus extras) on DVD on 8/27 ($69.95).

Finally this morning, we've got word that MGM will finally release the 1968 Gene Wilder/Mel Brooks classic The Producers as a DVD special edition on 12/3 (SRP $24.98). And Kino is reporting that its restored Metropolis is expected on DVD on 2/18/03. How that for good news to go with your morning caffeine?

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 8/21/02 - 10 AM PDT)

Hey gang! We've got a quick survey for you R2 DVD fans. Fox in the UK is trying to gauge the level of support for the release of Malcolm in the Middle there. They've asked the R2-Project to do a survey, and they need your help. So if you're a Region 2 DVD fan, and you want Malcolm on disc, get on over there and let Fox know.

And by the way... you fans of Glengarry Glen Ross will be pleased to learn that Artisan is finally delivering a special edition of the film on DVD on 11/19 (SRP $26.98). No word on extras yet but we'll let you know.

By the way... those xXx temporary tatoos I mentioned last night? Turns out they're already available when you buy the CD soundtrack. They apparently fall out of the case when you first open it! Funny! Thanks to Bits reader Dennis S. for that tip. ;-)

(EARLY UPDATE - 8/21/02 - 12:01 AM PDT)

We've got more DVD reviews for you today. Matt Rowe's taken a look at the recent Nine Inch Nails - Live: And All That Could Have Been, Graham Greenlee's got reviews of The Curse of the Jade Scorpion and Along Came a Spider, and we're hittin' ya with a pair of titles from "Weird Al" connoisseur Jeff Kleist too... Weird Al Yankovic: Live! and Weird Al Yankovic: The Videos. Outta be something for everyone in that buffet. Just add coffee, two sugars... and enjoy.

We also updated our authorized mirror copy of Jim Taylor's Official DVD FAQ to its most recent version, dated 8/15. Be sure to give Jim some love.

By the way... wanna see a fun little flick? Go see xXx. Someone finally figured out that the only way to make the bone-tired Bond formula work is to kick it in the ass, pump it full of adrenaline and play it all off with a wink and a smile. It's damn good fun. Should make a great movie only DVD from Columbia TriStar. And then a 2-disc special edition. And then a 2-disc SuperBit edition. And then a multi-disc boxed limited edition with exclusive collectible extra perks (xXx temporary tatoos anyone?) thrown in for good measure. And then a... ;-)

Stay tuned...

8/20/02

We're doing some housekeeping around The Bits today, so posts will be minimal. But we do have word that Warner is releasing Extremes and In Betweens: Chuck Jones - A Life in Animation on 10/22 (and for those of you waiting for classic Looney Tunes on DVD, the studio IS working to restore the shorts for eventual DVD release). Warner will also street Eight Legged Freaks in both widescreen and full frame on 10/29.

There's word in The Rumor Mill today about Stargate SG-1: Season Three, Lilo & Stitch and The Lion King coming to DVD, so be sure to check that out.

Around the Net today, there's a report from Video Business that Fox is definitely finding a welcoming market for TV series product on DVD. According to Fox chairman Peter Chernin, "DVD sales of our TV shows is a $100 million business and growing."

Also today, those of you looking forward to Kino's theatrical and DVD re-release of Fritz Lang's Metropolis can check out an online trailer at the official website. Issues of frame-rate aside, I'm REALLY looking forward to seeing this on the big screen and DVD.

And Yahoo's got a brief story on the continuing effort to fight piracy in Asia. Officials in Thailand recently staged a public event where thousands of pirated CD, CD-ROM and DVD discs were destroyed.

We've got a couple more pieces of Upcoming DVD Cover Art for you today - Warner's Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (11/5), Warner/BBC's The Young Ones: Every Stoopid Episode (9/17), Warner's Extremes and In Betweens: Chuck Jones - A Life in Animation (10/22) and HBO's In Memoriam: New York City 9/11/01 (9/3). All of them can be preordered now from our sponsor, DVD Planet.

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya SisterhoodThe Young Ones: Every Stoopid Episode

Extremes and In Betweens: Chuck Jones - A Life in AnimationIn Memoriam: New York City 9/11/01

And finally, we've updated the CEA DVD Player Sales numbers to reflect the 318,359 players that shipped to retailers here in the States in the week ending 8/2. All charts have been updated accordingly.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 8/19/02 - 4:30 PM PDT)

As promised, we've just updated the Upcoming DVD Cover Artwork section with nearly 70 new pieces of cover artwork from virtually all the major studios. We've also updated the links so nearly all of the titles can be pre-ordered now from DVD Planet. You'll find The Sum of All Fears, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, all the new Walt Disney Treasures titles, Men in Black II - you name it. Virtually every page of the section has been updated with new art, so be sure to check it out.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 8/19/02 - 1 PM PDT)

We've got a look for you at the contents of Columbia TriStar's Spider-Man: Limited Edition boxed set (street date 11/1). In addition to the widescreen version of the DVD, you'll get an exclusive comic book, Stan Lee's Mutant's Monsters & Marvels DVD, a film cell, an art print and more. Here's a look at the package and contents:

Spider-Man: Limited Edition boxed set

The SRP is $49.99 and you can order it online now from our sponsor, DVD Planet, by clicking on the picture above.

Also this afternoon, I wanted to recommend an excellent article on the subject of digital technology in Hollywood filmmaking. I've long been a subscriber of MIT's Technology Review magazine (the ONLY magazine I simply can't do without every month - how's that for an unpaid testimonial?). In this month's issue (September 2002), the cover story is Digital Cinema, Take 2, by Michael A. Hiltzik. It's well worth a read, as Michael looks behind the scenes at Kodak's Cinesite facility and addresses the many ways digital processes are used in filmmaking today, both in new film production and in film restoration. You can find the magazine on newsstands now, or you can read the article itself online at technologyreview.com. Good stuff.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 8/19/02 - 10:45 AM PDT)

We've got a couple of interesting tidbits this morning. Back to the Future writer/producer Bob Gale has confirmed that the U.S. version of the Back to the Future Trilogy on DVD (due 12/17) will NOT feature DTS audio tracks. The reason is that the removal of the tracks is allowing the inclusion of as much as 30 minutes of additional bonus material per disc. And Gale has indicated that, in sampling the Dolby Digital and DTS tracks, he found little difference between the two. That's no a bad compromise in our book, but we're sure some DTS fans will take exception. You can read the complete details over at this link at BTTF.com.

In other news this morning, the BBC has an online story on DVD region coding and, specifically, how the need for it is beginning to disappear. The article hints that region coding could evaporate altogether, now that theatrical release windows around the world are getting closer to their U.S. domestic counterparts, and more and more people seem able to get around the coding restriction with all-region DVD players.

And finally this morning, U.K. retailer BlackStar is reporting a 12/9 street date for the R2 version of New Line's Austin Powers: Goldmember. We'll have to watch out for an official announcement in the coming weeks.

Back with cover art and more this afternoon...

8/16/02

So... to close out the week, we've got another four new DVD reviews for you to peruse. Adam Jahnke takes a look at another recent 2-disc set this afternoon (and one of my favorite recent films) - Criterion's The Royal Tenenbaums. Graham Greenlee's taken Columbia TriStar's The Princess and the Warrior out for a test drive. And Dan Kelly's our anchor man today, having checked in with reviews of MGM's just-released The Business of Strangers and Lion's Gate's The Cat's Meow (which streets on 8/20).

And while it's a slow news day, we've got word that actor Seth Green has recorded an audio commentary for Fox's in-production Buffy Season Four on DVD (click here for the skinny via Video Store).

We do also have some newly announced DVDs to report today. A&E will release Secret Agent (Danger Man): Sets 4 & 5 on 9/24. Anchor Bay will release Fear in the Night, Mad Mission, Mad Mission #2: Aces Go Places, Mad Mission #3: Our Man from Bond Street, Spontaneous Combustion and To the Devil a Daughter on 10/8. BMG Music's Neil Young: Rust Never Sleeps is due on 9/24. Buena Vista has added The Grifters to its 9/24 slate. Classic Rock Productions will release Black and Blue: Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult - Live on 10/8. As we've posted previously, Columbia TriStar will debut Mad About You: The Complete First Season on 10/29. Criterion/Home Vision have added The Specialist, Zatoichi #3: Blind Swordsman - New Tale of Zatoichi and Zatoichi #4: Blind Swordsman - The Fugitive to their 10/22 slate. Dreamworks will release full frame and anamorphic widescreen versions of Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron on 11/19 (November just gets more expensive). Goodtimes has Elvira's Haunted Hills set for 10/1 (pun intended I suppose?). Kino International will release Cosmos on 9/24. Lion's Gate's Fangs is due on 9/24 as well. MGM will release Pumpkin on 11/5. Paramount has added The Day Reagan Was Shot to its 10/29 releases, and Blues Clues: Get to Know Joe and Spongebob Squarpants: Sea Stories to 11/5. Pioneer will debut Genesis: The Way We Walk on 9/24, with Ringo and His All-Star Band following on 10/1 and Come Together: A Night for John Lennon on 10/8. Universal will release Caught in the Draft/Give Me a Sailor, Demon Within (aka: The Sculptress), Gen-Y Cops, Louisiana Purchase/Never Say Die, Monsieur Beaucaire/Where There's Life and Sorrowful Jones/Paleface on 10/8. Universal Music will debut Scorpions: A Crazy World on 8/20. And Warner Bros will release Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood in both full frame and anamorphic widescreen on 11/5, with Main Event, Nuts, Up the Sandbox and What's Up Doc following on 11/12.

Now then, we'll be back with lots more next week, including more new reviews, an Upcoming DVD Cover Artwork update and our Comic-Con DVD Producers Panel coverage. And watch for a new Trivia Contest to begin this weekend as well.

So have a great weekend and stay tuned...!

8/15/02

We've got four more DVD reviews for you today. Adam Jahnke's taken an in-depth look at Universal's recent Legend: Ultimate Edition, Dan Kelly's got some thoughts on Warner's new The Swarm, Graham Greenlee's given Miramax's Kate & Leopold a spin for you and Jeff Kleist rounds things out this afternoon with a look at Pioneer's Free Enterprise: Special Edition.

In other news today, we've got word from Babylon 5 creator/executive producer J. Michael Straczynski that Warner will be following the release of Season One (set for 11/5) with Seasons Two and Three next year (reportedly in April and November of 2003, respectively). And Warner's launched an official website for the series on DVD as well.

Here's something that would normally go in The Rumor Mill, but it's brief, so here it is (all the usual disclaimers apply): Paramount's tentatively slated Ridley Scott's The Duelists for December release.

And finally, my oldest friend on planet Earth - Dave Hovde (that's him up in the corner there) - sent me a link to one of the funniest video game reviews I've ever read. It's Bill Simmons' preview of EA's Madden 2003 football game over on ESPN. As a couple of guys who first met in junior high in Fargo, North Dakota way back in the very early 80s, and shared a common love of all things football (and Minnesota Vikings football in particular), Dave and I have had our share of videogame grudge matches. Simmons' review hits WAY too close to home, as I'm sure a lot of you guys out there (and football widows) will agree. It had me rolling - funny stuff.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 8/14/02 - 2 PM PDT)

Okay, we've got a trio of new DVD reviews for you this afternoon. Jeff Kleist looks at MGM's UHF and Graham Greenlee checks in with his take on Warner's recent Showtime (widescreen edition of course), both recent releases on disc. And the mysterious Donald V. Day's got a few things to say about Anchor Bay's forthcoming DVD release of Near Dark, which streets on 9/10. Enjoy!

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 8/14/02 - 12:01 AM PDT)

Morning all! We've got some good news in The Rumor Mill this morning that should make you fans of director Akira Kurosawa, the original animated Speed Racer, the 1939 Wuthering Heights and Steven Spielberg's Minority Report happy (not necessarily in that order).

Here's an interesting bit of news (from our own Matt Rowe) on the file-sharing front. While the recording industry seems to think that file-sharing is at the root of all their woes (read: declining record sales), new market data collected by Forrester Research indicates otherwise. Here's a quote:

"Based on surveys of 1,000 U.S. on-line consumers, Forrester said it sees no evidence of decreased CD buying among frequent digital music consumers and said the record labels could restore industry growth by making it easier for people to find, copy, and pay for music on their own terms."

Gee... haven't we been saying that for a while? It's no coincidence that in the years prior to - and post - Napster, record sales declined, while during the year that Napster was in operation, CD sales increased markedly. Hhhmmmm... maybe people were file-sharing to sample music that they later purchased legally. Maybe, via file-sharing, people discovered music they wouldn't have otherwise and, again, purchased CDs accordingly. Imagine that!

Somehow, we doubt the record industry will be impressed with this new data. Can't wait to see what the RIAA has to say about this... if they say anything at all. You can almost hear the crickets chirping.

One quick note - a lot of you have asked about the rebate coupon that's supposed to be included in the 2-disc Lord of the Rings DVD, which gets you $5 off the 4-disc release in November. Many people seem to be missing their coupons. Not to worry. I'm told New Line is putting all the details on the offer on-line soon. We'll be sure to post a link as soon as they send us one.

Back this afternoon with reviews. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 8/13/02 - 1:45 PM PDT)

We've got another DVD review for you today - Todd Doogan's look at Miramax's excellent Jackie Brown: Collector's Edition. It's definitely not to be missed if you're a Tarantino fan. And we've got more reviews on the way for tomorrow and the rest of the week, including Todd's look at Artisan's new Reservoir Dogs DVD.

Also, just for fun, we thought we'd give you a peek at the cover art for Fox's 6-disc The X-Files: The Complete Sixth Season, which streets on 11/5. Once again, look for anamorphic widescreen video, audio commentary on select episodes, deleted scenes and other supplemental material.

The X-Files: The Complete Sixth Season

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 8/13/02 - 11:45 AM PDT)

Back in the late 70s and early 80s, Jack Valenti and the MPAA led the political charge against the VCR, decreeing that it would mean The End of the Film Industry. It was as if the sky were falling and Jack were Chicken Little. Ultimately, he turned out to be more like the boy who cried "Wolf!"

Here's a quick sampling of Jack's own words before Congress in 1982, so you can see for yourself what he had to say...

"American films and television dominate the screens of the world and that just didn't happen. It happened because of the quality and caliber and the imagination and the way people construct fragile imaginings that we call the American film. But now we are facing a very new and a very troubling assault on our fiscal security, on our very economic life and we are facing it from a thing called the video cassette recorder and its necessary companion called the blank tape. And it is like a great tidal wave just off the shore. This video cassette recorder and the blank tape threaten profoundly the life-sustaining protection, I guess you would call it, on which copyright owners depend, on which film people depend, on which television people depend and it is called copyright."

And here's more...

"Because unless the Congress recognizes the rights of creative property owners as owners of private property, that this property that we exhibit in theaters, once it leaves the post-theatrical markets, it is going to be so eroded in value by the use of these unlicensed machines, that the whole valuable asset is going to be blighted. In the opinion of many of the people in this room and outside of this room, blighted, beyond all recognition. It is a piece of sardonic irony that this asset, which unlike steel or silicon chips or motor cars or electronics of all kinds -- a piece of sardonic irony that while the Japanese are unable to duplicate the American films by a flank assault, they can destroy it by this video cassette recorder."

You see... blame the Japanese. And there's more...

"Now, these machines are advertised for one purpose in life. Their only single mission, their primary mission is to copy copyrighted material that belongs to other people. I don't have to go into it. The ads are here. Here is Sony that tells you that you can record one channel while watching another. You can program to record a variety of shows on four different channels for up to 14 days in advance if you like."

OH MY GOD - SAY IT ISN'T SO, JACK!

"Now, the question comes, well, all right, what is wrong with the VCR. One of the Japanese lobbyists, Mr. Ferris, has said that the VCR -- well, if I am saying something wrong, forgive me. I don't know. He certainly is not MGM's lobbyist. That is for sure. He has said that the VCR is the greatest friend that the American film producer ever had. I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone."

Wow. No shit - he actually said that before Congress (go to this link and you can read the full transcript of Jack's testimony, circa 1982). Of course, Congress wisely took such impassioned ravings as... ahem... overkill. And since Jack wrote the book on what I like to call the "copyright fire drill", the VCR went on to almost single-handedly save the motion picture industry, by creating a vast, voracious and untapped market for the consumption of films in the comfort of home. Guess Mr. Ferris was right, Jack.

Now here we are, some twenty years later, and the RIAA and MPAA and yes... even Jack Valenti... are sounding the same impassioned copyright siren song. This isn't about copyright... it's about control. If the entertainment industry had its way, we'd be living in a world where you didn't own a copy of a movie or CD... you'd have to download it from them and pay for every listen. So what is the entertainment industry doing to keep that control? For one, they've crafted a bill that's going through the House now, that would allow them to legally hack into peoples' computers and cause disruptions if they suspect that file sharing is going on. This in a time when fears about cyber-warfare are at an all time high, for good reason. Hollywood wants to be able to go to digital war, against some of its most loyal consumer supporters, and get the government's blessing to do so. This bill is a nightmare.

Now, we're all for the rights of copyright holders to protect their works. But there's GOT to be a better solution than letting Hollywood start legally exacting vigilante justice. And we're wondering if our already log-jammed legal system would be negatively impacted by the fact that the record industry is considering filing lawsuits against individual on-line file-traders. Let's see... Napster had 50 million users. Morpheus has 90 million registered users. Kazaa has 75 million. Message to Hollywood and the record industry: It's time to get real, folks. In the post-9/11 world, I think the Justice Department and American legal system have better things to do.

There's a rational way to survive the era of digital file-sharing and broadband distribution, just like there was a way to survive the VCR and cassette recorder. And strong-arming everyone isn't it. In fact, as it was with the VCR, I'll bet there's a way to make loads of money with these same technologies that you're now decreeing as The End of the Industry - money beyond your wildest dreams. Think about it! You've got a pipeline that leads directly into the computers of your most fervent consumers... and you want to hack and sue them?

It's time for consumers to get active on this. Write to your elected officials, folks. Weigh in. Because the entertainment industry is OFFICIALLY out of control.

That's just my two cents. Back with more later.


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