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page updated: 10/7/02



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 9/25/02 - 9/5/02)


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(LATE UPDATE - 9/25/02 - 12:30 PM PDT)

Okay... another DVD review for you today. Adam Jahnke's got his thoughts on MGM's recent Blue Velvet: Special Edition. It's a great film and is definitely worth a look on disc. And lest you think it's all retro reviews this week, we'll be back tomorrow with reviews of some new and yet to be released DVDs. Finally!

See you then!

(EARLY UPDATE - 9/25/02 - 11:30 AM PDT)

Lucasfilm has officially confirmed the list of deleted scenes that will be included on Disc Two of the Episode II DVD. Sadly, the're not as cool as we would have hoped. Most of the rest of the scenes feature Padme's family, and not additional material from the action scenes at the end of the film. Here's the full, confirmed list:

1. Padmé Addresses the Senate
2. Jedi Temple Analysis Room
3. Obi-Wan & Mace - Jedi Landing Platform
4. Extended Arrival on Naboo
5. Padmé's Parents' House
6. Padmé Bedroom
7. Dooku Interrogates Padmé
8. Anakin and Padmé on Trial

Also this morning, we're kicking off a new Trivia Contest, in which five lucky winners will take home copies of Fox's The Mary Tyler Moore Show: The Complete First Season on DVD. The contest is nice and easy, and runs until 12:01 AM PDT on Sunday. Get your entries in!

And we also want to let you L.A. area DVD fans know that Dave's Video - The Laser Place will be holding another signing event on Sunday, September 29th. From 1-3 PM (PDT), Victor Spinetti, John Junkin and Martin Lewis will be signing copies of Miramax's new DVD release of the Beatles classic A Hard Day's Night. Spinetti played the TV Director in the film, Mr Junkin played Shake and Lewis is a noted Beatles historian, who also produced this DVD. Should be a fun afternoon, so be there if you can. Dave's Video - The Laser Place is located at 12144 Ventura Blvd. in Studio City, CA.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 9/24/02 - 6 PM PDT)

Wouldn't you know it! I spent a bit of this morning's column talking about my enjoyment of the new Peter Gabriel CD, UP, which was just released today. Come to find out that UP is officially the first major-label album to be made available for download online in 5.1 surround sound! The music plays via Windows Media Player 9, which is itself a free download (you'll also need surround sound speakers connected to your computer, or you'll only hear stereo). You can download the entire album in 5.1 and preview the tracks for 14 days, after which time, you have to purchase them for about $18. Then you can burn them to disc and listen as you like. And for those of you who would rather wait to buy a physical disc, UP will also be available on DVD-Audio and SACD in January (click here for more). Very cool.

(LATE UPDATE - 9/24/02 - 5 PM PDT)

We've got a trio of DVD reviews for you this afternoon, as promised. First up, Graham Greenlee takes a long overdue look at Warner's Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: Special Edition (widescreen version of course). Then, Matt Rowe weighs in on another music title, Victory Records' Victory Video Collection. And finally, a new addition to The Bits staff, Robert Smentek, checks in with his first review, none other than MGM's recent Return of the Living Dead.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 9/24/02 - Noon PDT)

Ah, yes. Another new release Tuesday filled with shiny, factory-wrapped DVDs and CDs is here, and this one brings with it a real treat for me. I had to stop at my local Tower this morning to pick up the first new Peter Gabriel CD in some ten years... UP. And as I type these words, Gabriel's once again won me over with his richly-layered, multi-textured soundscapes. Truly incredible. You long-time Gabriel fans probably know exactly what I'm talking about. Though not as commercial as his last two CDs, UP is sure to be ranked as one of the great listening experiences of the year.

I've also been reading your e-mails regarding my rant yesterday, and it seems that while most of you agree with my points, those of you who don't feel quite strongly too. My main position is that I am absolutely against anyone but the director altering the presentation of a film. Especially when, these days, directors are fairly willing to make alterations for TV and airline exhibition themselves. That's why I'm against MovieMask and similar technologies, why I'm against colorization and why I'm against altering the theatrical aspect ratio. Look... I don't love DVD because it's a fun time in the living room, or because it makes my home theater look and sound great. I love DVD for the SOLE reason that I love FILM. And DVD is the best way to view films at home, in as close to the original theatrical experience as possible. Anything that deviates from that is unacceptable to me. That's what this is all about kids. Sure... full frame versions and "clean" edits are a necessary thing these days. And I can accept that, as long as the filmmakers are given the option of control over the process of creating them. But this idea of people being able to make their own versions of films, tailored to their own particular tastes and moral bent, is patently absurd. Seriously folks, as a filmmaker, what's the point of MAKING a film, of telling a story as you want it told from your particular perspective, if anyone can just create and distribute whatever custom version of it that they want to later? I mean really... who objects to the swords in Princess Bride so much that they'd rather their kids see lightsaber blades instead? Well, someone apparently does, because the MovieMask people show this very change in their demo reel. Maybe instead of movie "cleaning" software, what these people should buy are a good pair of rose-colored glasses. Art is a form of expression, whether its an individual art (like a painting) or a collective one (like a film). What right does anyone have to alter that expression just because they don't agree with it or parts of it? If you don't like it... don't watch it. It's that simple.

But no one can stop you from making your own Phantom Edits in your own home, for your own use. Moral arguments aside, here's the real issue to all this. Whether or not it's right for you to alter a copy of an artistic work that you own, is it right for anyone to alter a work and then profit by doing so? That's what MovieMask and these other conpanies are doing. They're altering the presentation of films, without the filmmakers' permission, and making money doing so. And that's the rub.

All right.. on to real business. There are more new upcoming DVD announcements today. Anchor Bay will release Highlander: Season One on 11/12, followed by Grand Tour: A Disaster in Time, Making Contact and Noah's Ark Principle on 11/19. BFS Entertainment will release Doctor Finlay on 10/22. BMG Music has Blue Oyster Cult: A Long Day's Night, Gov't Mule: Rising Low and Kirk Franklin: The Rebirth of Kirk Franklin Beggars Banquet/Matador due on 10/8, with Pavement: Slow Century following on 10/22. Capitol-EMI has Keith Richards and the X-Pensive Winos and N.W.A.: Efil4zaggin: The Only Home Video due on 10/8. Columbia TriStar will release Love and a Bullet and Trois 2: Pandora's Box on 11/26. Dreamworks' Minority Report arrives on 12/17 in both full frame and widescreen versions. Kino International will release Counsellor at Law, Good Fairy and Love Trap/Directed by William Wyler on 11/5. And finally, Pioneer's added Live at Knebworth to its 11/12 slate.

Also, HBO has just announced the DVD release of Oz: The Complete Second Season for January 7th. The 3-disc DVD release will include all 8 episodes (SRP $64.98), along with The Museum of Television & Radio Seminar Series: Oz (featuring commentary from series creator Tom Fontana as well as director Nick Gomez, producer Bridget Potter and cast members Edie Falco, Terry Kinney, Ernie Hudson, Kirk Acevedo and Dean Winters), an exclusive "behind the scenes" short, a Season One recap, a Season Three preview, Easter eggs, episodic previews, cast and crew bios, web links, an episode index, chapter selections, audio in English Dolby 5.1, English Dolby 2.0 and Spanish Mono, and Spanish subtitles.

Back with reviews soon. Stay tuned...

9/23/02

Another week begins, and we've done some updating to the various charts and data points (see above) that we keep track of here at The Bits. We've also announced the winners of the Trivia Contest. Thanks to all 3,312 people who entered and congrats to the winners!

We're working on a whole mess of new DVD reviews for you this afternoon, which will be posted throughout the week. So we're going to spend the rest of the day on that. But first, there are a couple of important things we wanted to bring to your attention.

First of all, there's a great article on the effort to negotiate the spec for HD-DVD over at Medialine News, and the possibility of eventual competing formats vying for the attention of consumers. The article does mention our joint One Format campaign and includes an important clue as to the temperament of the studios on this issue:

"Studios, none in any hurry to fundamentally alter their booming DVD business, are also trying to steer discussions onto a calmer one-format course."

So maybe there's hope that Hollywood will arm-twist the manufacturers into a single format spec. Keep your fingers crossed.

Also today, we at The Digital Bits feel it's time we weighed in on another hotly-debated issue that's cropped up related to the home video industry. There are a number of companies that are trying to promote the use of special digital software packages to "clean up" or "mask" certain portions of Hollywood movies that are deemed "offensive". MovieMask has a technology that allows you to watch any movie on your PC "without exposing you and your family to the objectionable content contained in that film". So, for example, instead of blood splattering when people get hit by gunfire in The Matrix, you see a shower of sparks instead. Don't want your kids seeing Kate Winslet's "assets" in Titanic? No problem - this software will put a dress on her. Oh, but it's not all about censorship. No... this software can also insert clickable hyperlinks to retail stores into movies. Really like that dress Meg Ryan's wearing? Click here to order online now. There are also online stores (click here and here) that offer "edited" movies for rent. And the Arizona Republic recently did a story on the growing trend.

We side firmly with the Directors Guild of America on this one folks. Editing a movie without the filmmaker's knowledge, permission and supervision is absolutely, unconditionally and completely wrong. This is every bit as bad as colorizing a black and white film, or showing a 2.35 film in pan & scan. You don't like the violence or sex in a film? Then don't watch it! Read a book, for God's sake! I frankly can't believe this is even an issue.

At a recent DVD event, someone came up to me and said, "Gee... you know, I'm a parent and I love movies. And there are just tons of films I'd love to start exposing my kids too, like The Godfather and Saving Private Ryan, if only I didn't have to worry about them seeing all the sex and violence and swearing. What can I do?" Well... I do have an answer to that question, and I'll say it right out in plain language: You have absolutely no f#@king business showing a film like The Godfather to your kids until they're old enough to see it (and understand it) the way it was originally meant by the director to be seen. Period. There are PLENTY of films out there to watch with your kids. But altering a film just to conform to your own personal tastes and morality is absurd and wrong. You wouldn't pull a pair of Fruit of the Loom boxers over Michaelangelo's David and then say, "Look kids... that's a Renaissance sculpture! Isn't that great art?" Why not just paint dresses on all of Picasso's nudes? How about we just let everyone rewrite sections of classic books to take out whatever they find personally offensive? Maybe Harry Potter would read better to religious conservatives if Harry were simply a "boy scout" rather than a "wizard"? Maybe every reference to the character of Jim in Huck Finn should read "disadvantaged African American" rather than "nigger"? Where does this stuff stop?

People might argue, "But this is a movie! It's NOT the same thing as a Picasso or a Mark Twain novel!" But it IS exactly the same thing. Movies are one of the dominant art forms of our time. Some are good and some are bad. And yes... some depict sex and violence. But that doesn't give ANYONE (other the creators) the right to change them. 'Nuff said.

Stay tuned...

9/20/02

In keeping with our efforts to bring to your attention movies other than just your typical Hollywood blockbusters and obvious DVD purchases, today we offer you reviews of a trio of unlikely and offbeat films. Adam Jahnke offers his thoughts for you on Image's The First Nudie Musical: 26th Anniversary Special Edition and New Line's The Mack: Platinum Series, both of which are recent DVD releases of older, non-mainstream films. And Graham Greenlee checks in with a look at Warner's A Walk to Remember - a mainstream film that many dismissed as fluff, but which some of your (particularly those of you looking for family-suitable films with a good message) might find worth a look. And we have many more reviews on tap for next week, including (with any luck) a few from Todd and I.

In other news today, DreamWorks has revealed that Steven Spielberg's Minority Report will arrive on DVD on December 17th (SRP $29.99) in both widescreen and full frame versions. Word is that DVD producer Laurent Bouzereau was on set during the production gathering material for eventual use on the disc. Look for two featurettes (From Story to Screen and Deconstructing Minority Report) as well as pieces on the film's stunt work and visual effects, interviews with Spielberg and star Tom Cruise, storyboards, artwork, production notes, cast and crew bios and more.

You fans of TV's American Idol can rest easy... a DVD version of the (I hesitate to call it this) highly popular reality TV series IS on the way. On October 15th, Ventura Distribution will release a single-disc special edition packed with "over 60 minutes of bonus footage", all for only $19.99. I wonder sometimes... is there anyone under 30 that DOESN'T want to be a star these days?

Video Premieres (an occasional print companion to industry trade Video Business) has confirmed that Disney is currently working on a 2-disc DVD special edition of Who Framed Roger Rabbit for next year, which will include new animation of many of the characters in the film. Look for the title to be released sometime in the first half of 2003.

By the way, I wanted to reassure all those of you who have been waiting for our Comic-Con DVD Producers Panel transcript that we ARE still working on it. There was a lot of audience Q&A during the panel, and the tape recorder didn't catch some of the audience questions as clearly as I would have liked, making the transcribing process a real tough slog. But I promise to have it done as soon as I possibly can (while still keeping my sanity intact).

All right kids... go have yourselves a helluva good weekend and we'll see you back here on Monday. Peace.

9/19/02

We've got two great reviews of two great films on DVD for you this afternoon. Dan Kelly's checked in with his look at one of my favorite films of 2002, Bill Paxton's Frailty (distributed on DVD by Lion's Gate). And Adam Jahnke's given director Michelangelo Antonioni's L'Avventura an in-depth review, as seen on DVD from Criterion. I think you'll enjoy them both (and both films are now available).

Be sure to check back tomorrow for more new DVD reviews as well. Stay tuned!

9/18/02

Morning, gang! As you may have noticed, we kicked off the latest Trivia Contest last night, which gives each of you a chance to win one of FIVE copies of Fox's new 24: The Complete First Season on DVD. It's a nice easy contest, and it runs until Friday, so get your entries in quick!

This morning, we're pleased to bring you the transcript of a recent roundtable interview with actor/director Jodie Foster. The roundtable was held for various members of the press (our own Jeff Kleist included), to promote the DVD release of Panic Room (available now) and The Dangerous Lives of Alter Boys (street date 11/5) from Columbia TriStar. We think you'll find it worth a read.

Also, we've been informed that Synapse Films will release the "unclassifiable" erotic cult classic Bacchanales Sexuelles on DVD on 12/7 (SRP $24.98). Look for anamorphic widescreen video (1.66:1 aspect ratio) and original French audio with newly translated English subtitles. The film will also be the uncensored version, containing almost 30 minutes of additional footage.

And A&E has a whopping cool slate of just-announced upcoming titles. On 10/29, look for A&E's original The Lost World miniseries in a 2-disc special edition (SRP $39.95), featuring anamorphic widescreen video and more than 2 hours of bonus documentary programming from both A&E and The History Channel. That same day, you'll also get the A&E original movie Lathe of Heaven, based on the sci-fi novel by Ursula Le Guin (SRP $19.95). We're not done yet - how about Shaka Zulu: The Complete Mini-Series? Yep... the complete 1983, 10-hour mini-series by director William C Faure will arrive as a 4-disc set from A&E, also on 10/29 (SRP $79.95). Oh, but we've saved the best for last. A&E will round out its 10/29 offerings with Courageous Cat: The Complete Series! You heard that right - all 130 episodes of the classic 1960s animated series (which was developed by Bob Kane, the legendary creator of Batman, as a parody of the caped crusader) will arrive on DVD as a 4-disc set (SRP $79.95). They'll be presented digitally remastered and uncut, in their original broadcast order.

Now... for those of you who may be wondering what the definition of cool is on DVD... THAT'S it right there. Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse on DVD. Just imagine it.

I wonder how many of you are old enough even to have heard of Courageous Cat. This is the real deal, kids... back from a day when Saturday morning still meant cartoons that weren't designed just to sell action figures. Do they even HAVE cartoons on Saturday mornings these days? Nuff said.

Stay tuned!

9/17/02

We're very pleased today to bring you a new special feature here at The Bits. Our own Adam Jahnke spoke yesterday with director Michael Apted, whose many films include Enigma, The World is Not Enough, Nell, the 7 Up series and one of my favorites, Thunderheart. So here's the complete account of Adam's interview... The Enigma of Michael Apted.

In other news today, 20th Century Fox - fast on the heels of having condensed many of their excellent 2-disc special editions into single disc re-releases - has announced that they're kicking off a new line of discs - Fox Studio Classics. These will be tied in with next year's 75th anniversary of the Academy Awards. On January 14th, Fox will release a trio of newly restored and remastered Best Picture-winning films, including All About Eve, Gentleman's Agreement and How Green Was My Valley. Then, on the first Tuesday of every month thereafter, Fox will release another film on DVD (as part of this line) that either won or was nominated for an Oscar. Other titles in the series will include Viva Zapata, The Grapes of Wrath, Anastasia and Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing. SRP will be $19.98. You can read more here via Yahoo.

In another bit of Fox news, fans of the FX series The Shield will be happy to learn that the entire first season of the series (all 13 episodes plus extras) will be released on DVD on January 7th (the same day the show's second season debuts on cable). Each episode will feature commentary by writers, producers, directors and cast members. The 4-disc set will carry an SRP of $59.98, and will also include audition reels of every main character in the series.

And finally this afternoon, Warner Bros has officially announced the DVD release of Chuck Jones: Extremes and In-Betweens, A Life in Animation for October 22nd. This documentary DVD looks back on the life and career of the pioneering animator, and features two of his classic Looney Tunes shorts: Feed the Kitty and Duck Dodgers and the 24 1/2th Century. And as we mentioned in The Rumor Mill recently, we believe this is just the prelude to a larger plan for the Looney Tunes catalog by the studio in 2003 and beyond.

We'll be back with that Trivia Contest later this afternoon. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 9/16/02 - 3 PM PDT)

We've just posted a major update of the Upcoming DVD Cover Artwork section. We've added more than 50 new pieces of cover artwork, including Reign of Fire, Law and Order, Minority Report, Stuart Little 2, Down by Law, Solaris, Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, Mad About You, Bad Company, The Complete Monterey Pop Festival, all of MGM's recently announced November and December titles (including The Producers), The Duellists, Serpico, Lilo & Stitch, The Thief of Bagdad, the revised final Lord of the Rings: Extended Edition art and more. And you can order each of the titles right now from DVD Planet by clicking on the cover links.

Now then... we've got a new Trivia Contest coming for tomorrow, giving you all a chance to win a copy of Fox's 24: The Complete First Season. And we have a new special feature planned as well.

Stay tuned...!

(EARLY UPDATE - 9/16/02 - 11:45 AM PDT)

Morning all! We're kicking off the new week with a big update of The Rumor Mill. We've got details on the Back to the Future Trilogy DVDs, what could be the final deleted scene list for the Episode II DVD, word on a possible street date for New Line's Goldmember, news on a big iron giant returning to DVD and even possible word on Bugs, Daffy and the gang finally hitting disc. Don't miss it!

Back with more soon...

(LATER UPDATE - 9/13/02 - 2:30 PM PDT)

Okay... last post for today. We're closing things out for the week with a pair of new DVD reviews. Graham Greenlee's taken a look at HBO's The Sopranos: The Complete Second Season on disc. And Dan Kelly's given MGM's new The Fog: Special Edition a spin on your behalf. Be sure to give both reviews a read.

Now then... we'll be back next week with a very cool special feature, a big Upcoming DVD Artwork update and more new DVD reviews.

Have a great weekend and stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 9/13/02 - 1 PM PDT)

Well... the product demos have begun. On Wednesday, Sony showed off a technology demonstration of their Blu-Ray player/recorder at the Sony Dreamworld 2002 show in Japan. As expected, the machine uses a high-capacity optical disc contained in a cartridge.

Sony's demonstration Blu-Ray player/recorder

Click here for a report on the show (in Japanese) that features several more pictures of the deck and discs. Thanks to Jeremy of IGN for the heads-up.
Also this afternoon, we've got a sneak peek at the main menu screens for New Line's forthcoming 4-disc The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring DVD (street date 11/12).

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring menu animation

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring menu animation

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 9/13/02 - 11:45 AM PDT)

We've got a whole slew of new upcoming DVD announcements for you this morning.

Buena Vista will release Disney's Very Merry Christmas Sing-Along-Songs on 11/5. Columbia TriStar has officially announced 13 Conversations About One Thing and Sunshine State for 11/19, with My Girl 2 and Where Sleeping Dogs Lie following on 12/3, and Stuart Little 2 on 12/10. Criterion will release the Complete Monterey Pop Festival on 11/12, along with Contempt and the original 1970's Solaris on 11/26. Kino International has Piano Teacher set for 11/5. MGM hits hard in November and December with Decameron, Great Wall, Madame Bovary, My Father's Glory, My Mother's Castle, Spetters and Too Beautiful for You due on 11/5, Gangster No. 1 due on 11/8, and Alphabet City, Bad Influence, Blue Steel, Body of Evidence, Children's Hour, Company Business, Dead of Winter, Kiss Before Dying, Legend of the Lost, Marlene Dietrich: Her Own Song, Miami Blues, The Producers, Road to Hong Kong, Rush, State of Grace, Thief of Bagdad, Where's Poppa? and Whistle Blower all on 12/3. Rhino has set Rock, Rhythm and Doo-Wop: The Greatest Songs for 11/12. And Warner will release Scooby-Doo: Winter Wonderdog on 10/8, with Skinwalkers following on 11/26.

Around the site this morning, we've updated Jim Taylor's Official DVD FAQ to its latest version, dates 9/11. And we've updated the CEA DVD Player Sales charts to reflect the 500,484 players shipped to U.S. retailers in the week ending 8/30. For the record, the format is now over 35 million players here in the States.

Also this morning, you may have seen the rumors around the Net regarding the October 2003 release of The Indiana Jones Trilogy on DVD from Paramount and Lucasfilm, as reportedly announced at the Deauville Festival by a studio spokesperson. As of right now, that's all this is... a rumor. I've spoken with the studio and they're not even sure who this "studio spokesman" was. That's not to say that this isn't possible. But until we hear more, let's not get our hopes up.

Back with more soon...

9/12/02

Doogan's back! Yessir... our own Todd Doogan has checked in with his first new Doogan's Views column in quite some time. This time, Todd's got a look at our latest list of Movies That Damn Well Ought To Be On DVD. We're already five years into this format, but we think this list proves that there's still plenty of work left for the studios to do...

Stay tuned...

9/11/02

Morning everyone. I suppose I would be remiss not to make note of the day today. One year later here in the U.S., I think many of us are feeling a little on edge and unsure about what the appropriate thing is to do today, particularly with TV and radio giving us non-stop coverage related to last year's terrible events. So here at The Bits, we'd just like to say that we're very glad this day seems to be passing uneventfully, and we wish all of you peace and happiness whereever you may be.

We're also pleased to present you with another column from our own Robert Harris today. This time around, Robert takes a look at a pair of films that have touched him in some way. So here's his column, entitled... Films are Personal. And don't forget, when you're done, you can visit this thread at The Home Theater Forum to discuss the column with Robert and others.

And you Star Wars fans will be pleased to know that the preview trailer for the Episode II DVD is now online at IGN (the Windows Media Viewer is required). Based on the trailer, we've identified at least five of the eight deleted scenes that will be included on Disc Two of the set. These include Anakin and Padme on trial on Geonosis, Padme addressing the Senate, Obi-Wan visiting the Jedi temple analysis room, Mace Windu and Obi-Wan discussing Anakin on the starfighter platform and at least some of Anakin and Padme in her family home on Naboo. I would guess the remaining three scenes include more of Padme's family (there was a brief dinner scene) and the cut action scenes of the Jedi assault on the droid control ships during the last battle. We'll post more when we can confirm it. Let's all hope there wasn't a deleted *NSync musical number... ;-)

We'll be back tomorrow with new reviews and more. Stay tuned.

9/10/02

Well... the first news story about the HD-DVD: One Format Only campaign is now out. Enrique Rivero of Video Store magazine put together a look at the campaign right as we were just kicking things off. You can find it online now, and it's also in this week's print issue of the magazine (Sept. 8-14) for those who have access to it.

The main thing I want to stress, is that while I worked to get the campaign started, this has really become a group effort. John Randall of The DVD Cyber Center and Paul Russell of DVD Angle in particular have been working very hard on the website, graphics and other issues related to the effort. So thanks to them and EVERYONE who is participating!

In other news on the HD-DVD front, there's a great article from the EE Times with specific details on the various specs that have been proposed for HD-DVD, with particular focus on the recent Tohsiba/NEC announcement. VERY good reading. And there's a second story from The Toronto Star on the brewing HD-DVD format battle as well.

In other news this morning, we've announced the winners of the Trivia Contest, so thanks to everyone who entered and congratulations to those of you taking the Soprano family home. ;-)

Also this morning, we've got a look at the DVD cover artwork for Paramount's upcoming The Duellists: Special Collector's Edition and Serpico (both street on 12/3). Both titles can now be ordered online at DVD Planet.

The Duellists: Special Collector's EditionSerpico

Finally today, we're getting reports that there are now pirated bootleg discs in circulation, mastered directly from Disc One of the official Attack of the Clones DVD, which was apparently stolen from the replication plant. A number of readers have reported seeing these available both online and in person in parts of Asia. Here's what one had to say:

"I don't know how secure the plants Lucasfilm uses to make the discs but over here in Kuala Lumpur, the pirated first disc is already selling. From the looks of it, it seems that they copied it from the original disc. How'd they get that original disc, I have no idea. But it's out and it's being replicated by the thousands. I only saw it being played by the vendor... and they were very cautious over people who asks too many questions. These kinds of leaks have happened before on various titles - Blade II, Session 9, Lord of the Rings and perhaps the other bigger blockbusters. It just sounds like the pressing plants have a habit of missing discs."

And here's another report:

"The original disc is a DVD-9, but the "pirated" disc doing its rounds on the net is a DVD-5 (as are the DVD-R discs used in PC DVD-R/RW drives). Therefore, the pirates have downsampled, or better yet, re-encoded the MPEG-2 data to fit the movie on a DVD-5. Because of that, one should expect some degradation of the picture quality compared to the official release... the pirated DVD has the original Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX soundtrack as well as the commentary track. All other audio tracks have been removed. DVD credits featuring some outtakes are present, but other possible extras have been removed."

You know... it's really a shame that someone would do this. The REAL disc is but two months away, but people are paying money for a poor quality copy? Sad. But I suppose... to be expected. Thanks to Petri, Fuad and everyone else who sent in e-mails on this.

Stay tuned...

9/9/02

Morning film fans! We've got some very interesting news from around the Net today. First of all, a small handful of copies of the first disc (the movie disc) from Lucasfilm and Fox's upcoming Star Wars: Episode II DVD have apparently been "leaked" to online movie reviewers. Now... according to Lucasfilm, these discs are "stolen" property - they were obtained illegally (likely from the replicator) and given without authorization to those that have them. It's also possible that they were "leaked" deliberately to get a buzz for the DVD going, particularly since only the first disc was sent out (remember how some reviewers were "allowed in secret" to see the near complete film on VHS before it was released in theaters?). With that spiffy, all-digital transfer, what better way to start getting DVD fans (who have thus far been talking almost exclusively about Spider-Man and Lord of the Rings) excited about Ep II? Whatever the story may be, news is news. So if you want to get a bit of a better look at what you can look forward to on 11/12, click this link.

Episode II DVD main menu

Also this morning, our own Matt Rowe forwarded me a link to a really great story from the National Journal's Technology Daily on the battle between Hollywood and the Silicon Valley over copyright issues and the Internet. It's called Digital Divide, written by Drew Clark and Bara Vaida. You will not read a better and more in-depth look at the long-standing animosity between those who create content and those who create technology, and their political and legal wrangling that continues today. More importantly, it perfectly frames many of the issues we've been talking about here at The Bits, like file-sharing, and recordable and high definition DVD. Make no mistake... the outcome of this battle will effect you in ways we can only begin to imagine, from how we watch TV and movies on DVD, to how we listen to music, to the ways we access the Net and beyond. Do give it a read.

And don't forget - our Sopranos Trivia Contest ends tonight, so get those entries in fast!

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 9/6/02 - 10:30 PM PDT)

Yes... you read that right. The frell-nicks in programming at the Sci-Fi Network have opted out of their just-signed contract for seasons five and six of Farscape at the 11th hour, meaning that after the rest of season four airs in January, the best science fiction show on television is effectively cancelled. The news was announced this evening in a live chat at Sci-Fi.com with series executive producer David Kemper and star Ben Browder. As Jon Stewart might say, "Whhhhhhaaaaaaaaa?"

Now... here at The Bits, we're not normally of the sort to raise a stink about a TV show being cancelled. That's just life, right? And it doesn't really have much to do with DVD (other than the fact that we're all really enjoying the first and second seasons on DVD from ADV, thank you very much). But this one does stick in our collective craw. Now... we recognize that some of you may not care. But if (like us) you do, the show's producers have asked for help in convincing Sci-Fi of the error of their ways. Contact Sci-Fi and politely let them know how you feel.

Sci-Fi's programming department email: program@www.scifi.com
Comment line: 212-413-5577
General Line: 212-413-5000
Address: The Sci-Fi Channel
1230 Avenue of the Americas, F115
New York, NY 10020-1513

And for more information on what you can do, visit this website.

Anyone at UPN or Fox in the mood to pick up an already critically-acclaimed hit show?

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 9/6/02 - 7:30 PM PDT)

We've got those reviews for you - 4 in all this evening. Brad Pilcher's checked in with a look at Universal's Spy Game: Collector's Edition (widescreen of course), as well as Warner's America: A Tribute to Heroes and Disney's TRON: 20th Anniversary Edition. And Graham Greenlee's got a review of MGM's Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

Have yourself a great weekend and see you back here on Monday!

(LATE UPDATE - 9/6/02 - 1 PM PDT)

Okay... we got us a Trivia Contest! Five lucky winners will take home copies of HBO's The Sopranos: The Complete Third Season on DVD. The contest is easy, but you've only got until 7 PM PDT on Monday, September 9th to enter, so get started.

We've also updated the CEA DVD Player Sales charts to reflect the 237,378 players that shipped to U.S. retailers in the week ending 8/23.

And we've got some new DVD announcements for you as well. ADV Films will release Dragon Half #1 on 9/24, with Sailor Moon #11: The Ties That Bind and Sailor Moon #12: The Wrath of the Emerald following on 11/26. A&E's World Trade Center: In Memoriam streets on 9/24. Alpha Video will street Atom Age Vampire, Carnival of Souls, Charade, Corpse Vanishes, Dick Tracy's Dilemma, Golem (silent-1920), Kid Dynamite, Little Lord Fauntleroy, Little Shop of Horrors, My Dear Secretary, Phantom from Space, Radar Men from the Moon, Part 1, Radar Men from the Moon, Part 2, Santa Fe Trail, Shock, Smart Alecks, Walk in the Sun and Wasp Woman all on 9/24. Anchor Bay's October titles will include Mad Mission Box Set (includes Mad Mission #4, which cannot be purchased separately) on 10/8, and the Carry On: Box Set on 10/22. Artisan Entertainment will release Dog Soldiers: Special Edition, Honeybee and Legion of the Dead on 11/5, along with 'R Xmas, Call Girl (aka: Nighttime Lover), Carolina Skeletons, Getting Gotti, Glengarry Glenross: Special Edition, Harts of the West, The Hit, Lap Dancer, Last Seduction, Last Seduction II, Oblivion, On the Streets of L.A., Robin Cook's Invasion, Rosewell: The U.F.O. Cover-Up, Subspecies, Sweet Bird of Youth and Tropical Tease on 11/19. Buena Vista has Spider-Man: The Return of the Green Goblin on 10/29, Frank McKlusky C. I., Heroic Trio and Victory on 11/19, and Undisputed on 11/26. Capitol-EMI is releasing Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music - Video Collection, Crowded House: Dreaming, The Videos, Pat Benatar: Best Shots - The Videos, Peter Tosh: Captured Live, Queensryche: Building Empires, Red Hot Chili Peppers: What Hits? and Tina Turner: Simply the Best, all on 10/1. Columbia TriStar will release Armed and Dangerous, Cold Steel, Spider's Web and What to Do in Case of Fire on 11/12. Lion's Gate has set Dead Zone for 11/5, A Shot at Glory for 11/19, and Shark Attack 3: Megalodon for 11/26. Via Trimark, Lion's Gate will release Under Hellgate Bridge on 11/12, Rhapsody on 11/19 and Lovely and Amazing on 11/26. Paramount upcoming titles include Diva's Christmas Carol on 11/19, Ridley Scott's The Duellists: Special Edition, Serpico: Special Edition and War and Peace on 12/3, and MTV Jackass 2 & 3 on 12/10. Showtime's Off Season and Red Sneakers are due on 11/19, with Amy's O (aka: Amy's Orgasm) following on 11/26. Universal is releasing Fraternity on 11/5 and Harrison's Flowers on 12/24. And Warner Bros will release Powerpuff Girls: The Movie on 11/5, with Mountain Gorilla: IMAX and Secret of Life on Earth: IMAX due on 10/8 and Larryboy: The Cartoon Adventures - The Yoder Napper on 11/26.

Image Entertainment also has a new slate of titles announced. Look for Beast of Blood: Special Edition, Blood of the Vampires: Special Edition, Cult: Live Cult - Music Without Fear, Kidsongs: A Day at the Circus, Kidsongs: Country Sing-A-Long, Kidsongs: I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing, Kidsongs: Yankee Doodle Dandy, Marquis de Sade's Justine, The Westside and Widespread Panic: The Earth Will Swallow You on 11/5, Bach: St. Mathew Passion - Neubeuem Choral Society, Brain of Blood: Special Edition, Cocaine Cowboys, Daniel Barenboim: Berliner Luft, Godthumb, Hooked Generation/The Psychedelic Priest, Mozart: Le Nozze di Figaro - Drottingholm Court, Puccini: La Boheme - Opera Australia and Tobacco Roody/Southern Comforts on 11/12, Cruel Romance: Special Edition, Dauria, Ice-T and SMG: The Repossession Live, Juvenile and UPT: Live in St. Louis, Passions, Peculiarities of the National Fishing and Pirates of the XXth Century on 11/19, and Captain Fracasse (silent - 1929), Hollywood Hot Wheels, Mahabharata, Making the Misfits, Mauvaise Graine, Shoeshine, Velasquez: The Painter of Painters, Verdi's MacBeth - Zurich Opera House, White Knuckle Extreme: Black Out, White Knuckle Extreme: Disorder #3 - Freewheel Burning and Visions and Voyeurism: Pandora Peaks on 11/26.

We'd also like to take a moment to thank Ralph Tribbey for mentioning the HD-DVD One Format Only campaign in the latest issue of the DVD Release Report, which is circulated widely throughout the industry. Much appreciated!

We'll be back with those reviews later this evening. Stay tuned!

(EARLY UPDATE - 9/6/02 - 12:01 AM PDT)

Morning all! We'll be back with our usual post later this morning, including reviews. But first, we wanted to let you all know that the official website for the HD-DVD: One Format Only campaign is now online. And new sites continue to join (if you're an avid follower of the online DVD community, all your favorites are likely now part of this effort). Be sure to check it out!

Back soon...

(LATE UPDATE - 9/5/02 - 4:30 PM PDT)

Hey gang... developments with the HD-DVD: One Format campaign have keep us pretty busy this afternoon, so we're going to wait until tomorrow to post those reviews. But we'll have several then, along with a new Trivia Contest. Anyone want to win a copy of Sopranos: Season Three? Check back tomorrow! In the meantime, check out the campaign temp page for the latest details there...

(EARLY UPDATE - 9/5/02 - 11:45 AM PDT)

Morning all! We've got a few more DVD reviews on the way this afternoon, but first I wanted to jump in with some general site update stuff and a few bits of DVD news.

First up, we've added a list of Top 10 Rental DVDs to our charts above, with weekly updated from VSDA's VidTrac service. Just FYI.

Also, we've had a TON of websites e-mail to say they're joining the HD-DVD: One Format Only campaign, and judging form the e-mail I'm getting from some of the other webmasters involved in the campaign, their readers are getting on the bandwagon too. We'll let you know when the main campaign site is up. And in case you didn't see it, we've added The Cinema Laser to the list of major online DVD sites that are now part of the effort. The fact the virtually the entire online DVD community is getting behind this speaks volumes about the need for this effort.

In other news, we've received word that Pink Floyd Live at Pompeii: The Directors Cut is coming to DVD in March of 2003. And don't forget... David Gilmour in Concert streets on 11/5 from Capitol.

In other DVD-related music news, Billboard is reporting that Neal Young's Rust Never Sleeps concert film will be released on DVD on 9/24 from Sanctuary. They're also reporting that when the CD release of U2: The Best of 1990-2000 happens on 11/5 from Interscope, the 3-disc set will include 2 music CDs (one the 16-track "best of" and another 14-track disc of B-sides) as well as a bonus DVD disc with exclusive content, including the History Mix of U2 in the '90s. Very cool. And don't forget that an additional pair of U2 DVDs are on the way as well - the U2: The Best of 1990-2000 (featuring all their music videos) on 12/3 and a live concert DVD of a recent performance at Ireland's Slane Castle sometime next year.

Finally this morning, AudioRevoution.com is reporting that BMG Music is finally getting on the DVD-Audio bandwagon. This would be good news for those of you who favor DVD-Audio in its on-going battle with Sony's SACD for the hearts and minds of the few early adopters who are willing to brave the high-resolution audio format wars. So the score card is as follows - BMG, AOL TimeWarner and EMI back DVD-Audio, with Sony and Universal backing SACD. But word is, Universal hasn't ruled out DVD-Audio support as well. Which is good, because frankly, I'm just so sick of these little format turf wars killing a perfectly good idea.

Stay tuned...


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