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page updated: 3/6/03



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 2/22/03 - 2/3/03)


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2/22/03

As promised, we've kicked off our new Trivia Contest (actually two of them) this morning! You'll have the chance to win One Hour Photo (5 copies) and 101 Dalmatians II (10 copies in all). You've got until 12:01 AM PST on Tuesday, February 25th to enter. And we'll have another contest starting next week as well.

Paramount has announced, on the official Star Trek website, that their Star Trek: Nemesis DVD will street on 5/20. The disc will be available in both anamorphic widescreen and full frame versions, and will feature audio in Dolby Digital 5.1. Extras will include 7 deleted scenes, audio commentary by director Stuart Baird, 4 "making of" featurettes (New Frontiers: Stuart Baird on Directing Nemesis, A Bold Vision of the Final Frontier, A Star Trek Family's Final Journey and Red Alert! Shooting the Action of Nemesis) and a photo gallery.

Also this morning, we thought you might enjoy a look at the cover art for MGM's Dances with Wolves: Special Edition and 3-disc Windtalkers: Director's Edition (both of which were announced yesterday). Both titles are also due on 5/20 and can now be pre-ordered at DVD Planet (just click on the covers). Star Trek: Nemesis is here as well.

Dances with Wolves: Special EditionDances with Wolves: Special Edition

Windtalkers: Director's EditionStar Trek: Nemesis

By the way, a lot of people have been asking about Zulu and Battle of Britain, both of which were also announced by MGM yesterday for 5/20. Both discs will be presented on DVD in their original 2.35:1 widescreen format (anamorphic of course), and both will feature the original mono audio. Look also for each disc to feature the original theatrical trailer for the film.

Have a great weekend!

(LATE UPDATE - 2/21/03 - 1 PM PST)

Well... I got so caught up in watching a new DVD last night that I haven't had the chance to post the new Trivia Contest! So watch for it tomorrow morning at the latest. But the good news is that I've got a review of that new disc for you, and I think it's that a title a lot of you are excited about... Columbia TriStar's new SuperBit release of Das Boot: The Director's Cut (street date 3/4). I've personally been waiting for this disc for ages, and as I was checking the vastly improved picture and sound quality, I got so engrossed in the film that I couldn't help watching the entire thing! So enjoy the review and we'll have many more for you next week, along with new columns, news and other fun stuff.

In DVD news today, MGM has officially announced the release of their long-awaited Dances with Wolves: Special Edition. Set to street on 5/20 (SRP $29.98 SRP), the 2-disc set will include the extended (236-minute) version of the film in anamorphic widescreen, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, new audio commentary with director/star Kevin Costner and producer Jim Wilson, new audio commentary with the D.P. and editor, The Creation of an Epic documentary, the original "making of" featurette and music video, a photo montage, a poster gallery, TV spots, trailers and more.

Also announced for May is a 3-disc Windtalkers: Director's Edition (5/20 - $39.98), which will feature a 20-minutes-longer version of the film, 3 audio commentary tracks and extensive historical and behind-the-scenes documentary material among other extras.

Additional May releases from MGM will include 633 Squadron, Attack!, Battle of Britain, Mosquito Squardon, Operation Amsterdam, War Hunt, Zulu, Duel at Diablo, Five Guns West, The Indian Fighter, The Ride Back!, Terror in a Texas Town and The Unforgiven (1953). Street date for all is 5/20 (SRP $14.95 each).

Then on 6/3, watch for The Sum of Us, It's My Party: Special Edition, Wigstock, Jeffrey, Bent, My Beautiful Laundrette and The Hanging Garden (SRP $19.98 each), Half Moon Street, Shattered, Slam Dance, The House on Carrol Street, Seven Hours to Judgement, Defense of the Realm and Miracle Mile (SRP $14.95 each) and Stargate SG-1: The Complete Third Season (street date 6/17, SRP $69.96).

We'll have more details and cover art on these titles on Monday. Have a great weekend and stay tuned!

(EARLY UPDATE - 2/21/03 - 12:01 AM PST)

We have an update for you on those Back to the Future box sets with the mis-framed Part II & III discs. The corrected discs will be available by mail sometime in March. They'll also be issued to stores. Here's what Universal has been telling their customers, via e-mail, about how to identify the fixed sets:

"The new packaging will have a "V2" printed near the bottom of the screen format/bar code sticker. This will indicate that the set contains the remastered versions of BTTF II and BTTF III. The same "V2" will also appear on the new discs after the copyright language line."

For those of you who have already purchased the set, click here for details on how to arrange getting your discs replaced. Thanks to Bits reader Robert N. for sending this in.

Back with more later...

(LATE UPDATE - 2/20/03 - 12:30 PM PST)

We've just posted a new high-resolution audio review today - Matt Rowe's look at Rhino's Yes: Fragile on DVD-Audio. Watch for more new DVD-Video reviews tomorrow. And watch for a new Trivia Contest to start later this evening.

By the way, we inadvertently neglected to include a category in our Bitsy Awards when we posted on Tuesday, so we've added it this afternoon... BEST USE OF DVD FEATURES. Just FYI.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 2/20/03 - 12:01 AM PST)

Another new DVD announcement today. Columbia TriStar has officially announced The People vs. Larry Flynt: Special Edition for 5/6 (SRP $29.95). The disc will include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, audio commentary with the cast (Woody Harrelson, Edward Norton and Courtney Love), audio commentary with the writers (Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski), deleted scenes with optional filmmaker commentary, the Free Speech or Porn? and Larry Flynt Exposed featurettes, filmographies and a photo gallery.

We have some details for you on Warner's upcoming Babylon 5: The Complete Second Season (street date 4/29 - SRP $99.98). The 6-disc set will include all 22 second season episodes in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include an introduction by series creator/producer J. Michael Straczynski and various cast members, episode commentaries by Straczynski and cast members Bruce Boxleitner, Claudia Christian and Jerry Doyle, the Building Babylon: Blueprint of an Episode featurette, the Shadows and Dreams: Honors of Babylon featurette, The Universe of Babylon 5 technical files, a gag reel, a series timeline and episode promos.

In other news this morning, we've confirmed with MGM that Die Another Day will street in June. Watch for an announcement soon.

We also have word on possible street dates for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers in today's Rumor Mill update.

And we've updated the CEA DVD Player Sales charts to include the 262,031 players that shipped to retailers here in the States in the last week of January (ending 1/31).

Finally this morning, here's a look at the DVD cover art for Warner Bros' Ghost Ship: Widescreen Edition (3/28), Columbia TriStar's It Came from Beneath the Sea (5/6) and Paramount's Cheers: The Complete First Season (TBA).

Ghost Ship: Widescreen EditionIt Came from Beneath the SeaCheers: The Complete First Season

We'll be back this afternoon with more, so stay tuned...

2/19/03

We've got some nifty upcoming DVD announcement news today. Columbia TriStar's got a very busy slate set for May. On 5/6, look for Dream with the Fishes, The Greatest 70's Cop Shows, It Came from Beneath the Sea, King Rat and Naked Lies. And on 5/13, the studio will release Borderline, Commandos Strike at Dawn, Full Contact, Hellcats of the Navy, The Jeffersons: The Complete Second Season, Talk to Her, The War Lover and The Three Stooges: Go Around the World in a Daze. That same day, Columbia TriStar will also release 4 new SuperBit titles... Men in Black, Men in Black II, Bad Boys and xXx. Sweet news indeed for you SuperBit fans. I'm still drooling over the studio's new Das Boot: SuperBit disc - a MUCH improved picture over the original release. Watch for a review soon.

You Beatles fans will be thrilled to learn that EMI is releasing The Beatles Anthology on DVD on 4/1 (SRP $79.98). All 8 of the original programs will be included on 4 discs, along with more than 80 minutes of additional rare and never-before-seen material added just for this DVD release. Audio for the set will be Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 and PCM stereo. That's official.

By the way... we have additional music DVD news in The Rumor Mill today. You Tenacious D and Dave Matthews Band fans will definitely not want to miss it.

How about some new cover art? Okay... here a look at Artisan's T2: Extreme Edition (tentatively set for June release), along with Criterion's The White Sheik and The Adventures of Antoine Doinel box set (both 4/29).

T2: Extreme EditionThe White Sheik (Criterion)The Adventures of Antoine Doinel (Criterion)

And we have a few more upcoming DVD announcements as well. Buena Vista will release Equilibrium, The Hot Chick and Jerry Seinfeld: Comedian on 5/13, with 25th Hour and Jackie Chan's Project A2 following on 5/20. Criterion/Home Vision will release Zatoichi #6: Zatoichi and the Chest of Gold, Zatoichi #7: Flashing Sword and Zatoichi #8: Fight, Zatoichi Fight, all on 4/29. Lions Gate/Trimark will release Loving You on 2/25, with R and Unrated versions of Sex and Lucia following on 3/25. Paramount has added The Way Home (aka Jibeuro) to its 5/6 slate. Showtime has set Red Shoe Diaries: Some Things Never Change and Red Shoe Diaries: The Hotline for 4/29. They also have Barhopping set for 5/6. SlingShot Entertainment will release Little Shop of Horrors: 3D, Night of the Living Dead: 3D and Seven Doors of Death: 3D on 3/11. And Warner Home Video has set dual full frame and anamorphic widescreen versions of Analyze That for 5/13.

And finally today... the UK DVD website DVD Answers.com has posted details on the Region 2 release of Die Another Day, which was officially announced by Fox in London yesterday (Fox owns the R2 release rights). We expect a Region 1 DVD announcement from MGM any day now (for an expected June release). Extras on the U.S. disc should very closely parallel the R2 disc (but will probably not be completely identical). We'll have the official details as soon as they're available.

Stay tuned...

2/18/03

They're here! The 4th Annual Digital Bits Bitsy Awards are now online! Join contributors Todd Doogan, Adam Jahnke and yours truly, as we recognize the best (and worst) that the DVD format had to offer in 2002! We've got a lot of ground to cover, so what are you waiting for? Enjoy!

Also, before we go another step further, we feel it necessary to make a brief but important announcement here today. This is our commitment to you, our loyal readers, and we feel very strongly about it. Whatever happens in the months and years to come, you can count on one thing here at The Bits.

No Michael Jackson specials. Ever.

Anyone else think that SEVEN HOURS of prime-time network Jacko in one week is going overboard?! We got space shuttles blowing up, a possible war coming on and people duct-taping themselves into a paranoid frenzy... and the TV news runs with Michael Jackson? Doh!

And in a final note this morning, a lot of people have e-mailed us to say that there's an error on the Indiana Jones DVD cover art we posted yesterday. Raiders of the Lost Ark is listed as Chapter 24 in "The Complete Adventures of Indiana Jones", while Temple of Doom is 23 and The Last Crusade is 25. Die-hard fans of the films will no doubt be aware that Temple of Doom actually takes place BEFORE Raiders. Just FYI.

Stay tuned...

2/17/03

Okay... we had planned to run The Bitsy Awards today. Unfortunately, somebody (that would be me) forgot that today is a holiday for many people here in the States. Virtually everyone at the Hollywood studios has the day off today. So we're going to post bump The Bitsys 24 hours. Watch for them at 12:01 AM PST tomorrow morning. Please forgive us if you just can't wait. But... we've got something REALLY cool to make it up to you. Here goes...

This would normally be posted in The Rumor Mill, so take it with an appropriate grain of salt. That said, we've got a look for you this morning at what we believe is Paramount's tentative DVD cover artwork for the Indiana Jones Trilogy. We have pretty good information that this set is coming late in 2003. The art below was allegedly scanned from Paramount's European 2003 DVD promo sheet to retailers (it comes to us via DVDDOO.dk - a retail site based in Denmark, which apparently obtained it from studio reps in Europe). We're waiting for official confirmation from Paramount, but we do believe that this is the real deal. Keep in mind, this art is very tentative... just a mock-up for the retail sell-sheets. We expect the final package design to be pretty special. But this does seem to support what we've been hearing from a LOT of sources, which is that the films are coming to DVD before the year is out. And if the text on the discs is accurate, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles may be coming to DVD as well. Click on the image for a closer look at the original scan.
Paramount's Indiana Jones Trilogy... coming to DVD in 2003!

And in other news this morning, Sony is officially going ahead with its Blu-Ray competitor for HD-DVD. The companies behind the format, Hitachi, LG Electronics, Matsushita Electric Industrial, Pioneer, Royal Philips Electronics, Samsung Electronics, Sharp, Sony and Thomson officially begin licensing the format today. Just FYI, we have word from the DVD Forum that the official HD-DVD spec is expected to be finalized in March.

Watch for The Bitsys tonight! Stay tuned...

2/14/02

We've announced the winners of our latest Trivia Contest this afternoon. Congratulations to them, and thanks to all 2,236 people who entered. Watch for the next contest to start early next week.

And our own Todd Doogan's checked in today with another new Doogan's Views column. This time he's reviewed 11 new DVDs including: Columbia TriStar's Gloria, Anchor Bay's Spontaneous Combustion, Elite's Puphedz: The Tattle-Tale Heart, Criterion's new Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Ernest Hemingway's The Killers, Buena Vista's Daredevil vs. Spider-Man and Home Vision's Zatoichi 1: The Tale of Zatoichi, Zatoichi 2: The Tale of Zatoichi Continues, Zatoichi 3: New Tale of Zatoichi, Zatoichi 4: The Fugitive and Zatoichi 5: On the Road. Enjoy!

In a brief update on the whole Universal Back to the Future DVD fix issue, we've been informed that the studio expects replacement discs to be available by mail in March (click here for specific details on the problem and how to exchange your defective discs). There's no word yet on whether the fixed discs will be re-issued to stores, and how to identify them. We'll post more as soon as we have it. Just FYI.

And finally this afternoon, we have the final DVD cover artwork for Universal Music's The Police: Every Breath You Take - The DVD (due in stores on 3/18). By the way, Matt's reporting in his TAP column today that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, at which The Police will perform for the first time in many years, will be broadcast on VH1 on 3/19 (the ceremony itself takes place on 3/10).

The Police: Every Breath You Take - The DVD

That's it for this week. Happy Valentine's Day and have a great weekend! We'll see you back here for The 4th Annual Digital Bits Bitsy Awards on Monday!

2/13/03

As promised, we've got more new DVD reviews for you today. I've taken a look at Paramount's Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - Season One (street date: 2/25) and HBO's The Gathering Storm (now available). Our own Robert Smentek has reviewed an older title today as well, Miramax's Hard Core Logo. And be sure to check back tomorrow for another Doogan's Views column, in which Todd will check out a number of new discs for you.

Also today, Miramax has sent over the final artwork for the upcoming Hayao Miyazaki titles (due on 4/17). The changes from what we've posted previously are slight, but definite.

Spirited AwayKiki's Delivery ServiceCastle in the Sky

Around the Net today, Video Store magazine has a story up on Buena Vista's upcoming Who Framed Roger Rabbit DVD (due 3/25).

Also, in the category of "they're at it again", it seems Blockbuster Video is continuing to push for a DVD rental window. You can read a little more on this in a brief story at IMDB.

Don't forget, our Trivia Contest ends tonight (technically tomorrow morning) at 12:01 AM PST. Get those entries in quick!

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 2/12/03 - 2:30 PM PST)

Okay... first things first. We've posted three new DVD reviews this afternoon. Jeff Kleist has checked in with his thoughts on Fox's new Angel: Season One (now available). And Adam Jahnke's taken a look at a pair of older titles, Image's The Legend of 1900 and New Line's Hedwig and the Angry Inch: Platinum Series. More reviews are on the way for tomorrow, including my own take on Paramount's upcoming Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - Season One, so be sure to check back then.

The Bitsys are coming!

Now then... it's awards season here in La-La-Land. And you know what that means. Yep - it's time for another Digital Bits Bitsy Awards! We're giving you all the official heads-up that this coming Monday (2/17), we're going to be taking our annual look back at the DVD year in review. We'll run down our own picks for the best... and worst... discs of 2002. The Bitsys are always a lot of fun for us around here, and we look forward to sharing them with you each year. So we'll see you then!

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 2/12/03 - 11:30 AM PST)

Morning folks. We're going to kick things off here today with a look at the final cover artwork for a few upcoming Paramount titles, direct from the studio. We've got The Hunt for Red October: Special Collector's Edition, Patriot Games: Special Collector's Edition and the Clear and Present Danger: Special Collector's Edition (street date 5/6 for all). And we also have a look at the yet-to-be-announced Star Trek: Nemesis DVD (we've heard 5/13 will be the street date, but that's not official).

The Hunt for Red October: Special Collector's EditionPatriot Games: Special Collector's EditionClear and Present Danger: Special Collector's Edition

Star Trek: Nemesis

In other quick news, we have word that Krzysztof Kieslowski's The Decalogue will be re-released on DVD this summer by New Yorker Video. Thanks to Diana M. for that. Also, Bits reader Tim D. has sent in word that Fox's new Angel: Season One box set includes an insert that advertises Season Two of the series on DVD in September. Just FYI.

Back with reviews soon. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 2/11/03 - 2 PM PST)

We've got a follow up with official details from Artisan on that Speed Racer: Collector's Edition this morning. The disc, which streets on 4/22, will come in a "real rubber tire packaging" and will feature the first 11 of the 52 episodes of the series. The disc will also include interactive Mach 5 control demonstrations, a theme song "sing along", a villains gallery and production notes. Video is the original full frame, with Dolby Digital mono audio. SRP is $22.98. As we reported last night, additional episodes will follow later. Here's the final cover art:

Speed Racer: Collector's EditionMonster's Ball: Lion's Gate Signature Series

Also, as you may have noticed, we've posted art for the Monster's Ball: Lion's Gate Signature Series due on 2/18. This is just part of a whole new series of Signature Series discs that Lion's Gate is working on. Other titles will include "O", Amores Perros and Eve's Bayou (all on 2/18), along with Cube and Lolita (both due 4/15). The SRP for these titles varies between $14.99 and $24.99 and many will feature brand new special edition materials. Monster's Ball, for example, will include a longer cut of the film (not seen in theaters), new audio commentary by director Marc Foster and writers Milo Addica and Will Rokos, cast & crew interviews and the Sundance Channel's Anatomy of a Scene.

In other news today, Video Store magazine is reprorting that, according to Pixar CEO Steve Jobs, the company's upcoming Finding Nemo CG-animated title will arrive on DVD in the 4th Qtr of this year. Pixar also reportedly sold more than 11.4 million copies of its Monsters, Inc. on DVD in the States last year, with another 3.7 million around the world. Interestingly, Video Store also ran a brief story on the whole Star Wars DVD controversy from last week.

And finally this afternoon, a LOT of you have been asking about HBO's Mr. Show with Bob and David. Specifically, many of you are dying to know when the remaining seasons of the series are going to be released on DVD. I've spoken with HBO, who assures me that they do intend to release the rest of the series on disc. There's no final details yet on timing, features, etc, but it is in the works, so rest easy fans. Now if only New Line would release Run Ronnie Run...

Back tomorrow with a mess of new DVD reviews. Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 2/11/03 - 12:01 AM PST)

Are there any fans of Star Trek V out there? Must be one or two. You'll be interested to note that director (and star) William Shatner was interviewed for the February issue of SFX magazine, and he talks about the upcoming DVD release. Specifically, he talks about how he wasn't allowed by Paramount to create a new director's cut of the film... and give the ending an overhaul. You can read more over at TrekToday. All I can say is, it would have taken a LOT of work to redeem that flick. Ugh.

And for you 'racing' fans this morning, we have word that Artisan's upcoming Speed Racer: Collector's Edition (due 4/22), will include the first 11 episodes of the classic Japanese animated series, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 audio and with something called the Speed Racer Files, which is an "interactive gallery" of favorite characters and facts about the series. Best of all comes word that if sales of this disc are good, the rest of the series (the remaining 41 episodes) will follow. Tough break for you guys who spent $300 on that limited edition DVD box set from Speed Racer Enterprises.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 2/10/03 - 2:30 PM PST)

Just a quick update to let you all know that we've kicked off another new Trivia Contest this afternoon. You've got a chance to win Buffy: Season Three, M*A*S*H: Season Three and Angel: Season One from Fox, so do check it out.

Also, after posting my review of Columbia TriStar's The Fast Runner DVD on Friday, we've had a number of readers inform us that Alliance Atlantis has released a full-on, 2-disc special edition DVD of this film in Canada. It's a Region 1/NTSC disc, so if you like the film as much as we do, it's well worth a look.

By the way, we should also let you all know that tomorrow morning in Hollywood, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will announce the nominations for the 75th annual Academy Awards. The announcement will be on TV and you can be sure they'll be everywhere in the media by tomorrow afternoon. Just FYI.

And finally, we have an update on Universal Music's upcoming The Police: Every Breath You Take - The DVD (due 3/18). As we've reported before, the disc will include the original music videos for Roxanne, Can't Stand Losing You, Message in a Bottle, Walking on the Moon, So Lonely, Don't Stand So Close to Me, De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da, Every Little Thing She Does is Magic, Invisible Sun, Spirits in the Material World, Every Breath You Take, Wrapped Around Your Finger, Synchronicity II and Don't Stand So Close to Me '86, all with newly remastered audio in Dolby Digital 5.1 & 2.0 and DTS 5.1 formats. Bonus features will include Can't Stand Losing You and Next to You as performed live on the BBC's Old Grey Whistle Test program, The Police in Montserrat (a 45-minute, behind-the-scenes documentary on the making of the Ghost in the Machine album, featuring Demolition Man, One World (Not Three), Spirits in the Material World and Every Little Thing She Does is Magic), the Studies in Synchronicity album promo featurette and a complete discography of the band (which includes the new remasters and SACDs). The disc is NTSC, encoded for all regions. This information is official from the U-Music. Here's the tentative cover art (we'll post better quality when it comes in):

The Police: Every Breath You Take - The DVD

And speaking of The Police, Matt's been listening to early test versions of the new CD remasters, and he's pretty blown away. Check out his thoughts in his MusicTAP.

Back tomorrow. Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 2/10/03 - 11:45 AM PST)

Morning folks! Well... as one would expect, my Star Wars rant on Friday generated a huge response. All weekend, I was bombarded by literally hundreds of e-mails from Bits readers and Star Wars fans. My comments were intended primarily to express my own personal frustration with the original trilogy DVD issue these days, and I think the frustration of many other fans like me. Sure enough, the e-mails were vastly in favor of my comments, save for one or two people who said, "Relax... it's only a movie." To each his or her own, I guess. The bottom line is that if the original Star Wars that I remember from my childhood ceases to be, for whatever reason, that'll be a terrible disappointment to me personally. And I'm certainly not alone in that sentiment. That said, it's not my intention that The Digital Bits become the forefront of a new campaign to get the original films on DVD. We tried that once, in a joint campaign with DVD File, and all it got us was Episode I on disc. But we'll be happy to support the efforts of others. To that end, I'd like to direct all of you to visit the OriginalTrilogy.com website, and to sign up for their e-mail newsletter. They're planning on launching a major effort (letter/e-mail campaign, online petition, etc) to preserve our favorite films on DVD. And we're going to be backing their efforts wholeheartedly. The whole site isn't live yet, but I think you'll find the temp page comforting. Damn right Han shoots first... ;-)

Now then, Columbia TriStar has announced a few new titles. On 4/22 the studio will release Ignition, Immediate Family, Mad About You: The Complete Second Season and Once a Thief. Following on 4/49, look for Darkness Falls, Lockdown, Atlantis, The Swimmer and Walk Don't Run. And on 5/6, look for Chances Are.

Warner Bros will release the BBC's Daniel Deronda on 4/1, Prehistoric Planet: The Complete Dino Dynasty on 4/8, The Singing Detective on 4/15, High Society, Les Girls, Kiss Me Kate, Silk Stockings and Broadway Melody of 1940 on 4/22, The Main Event, Nuts, Up the Sandbox, What's Up Doc? and Barbara Streisand DVD Giftset on 4/29, The Mission: Special Edition, Battle Cry, The In-Laws, Objective, Burma!, Operation Pacific and Campion: The Complete First Season on 5/13 and Surviving West Point: National Geographic on 5/20.

Other upcoming titles include A&E's Ronald Reagan: A Legacy Remembered, Secret Agent: Set 6, Teddy Roosevelt: An American Lion and Tess of the D'Urbervilles on 3/25. Artisan will release Behind the Lines, Children on Their Birthdays, Deadly Species, Drug Wars: The Camarena Story, Livin’ Tha Life, Monster Garage, O Pioneers!, Quest for the True Cross, Scarlet and the Black, Speed Racer: Collector's Edition, Standing in the Shadows of Motown and Young Guns: Special Edition, all on 4/22. Buena Vista will release The Other Side of Heaven on 4/1. HBO has set Tempted for 3/18 and Path to War for 3/25. Rhino will release Kimba, The White Lion and The Lone Ranger (both 4-disc sets) on 3/25. 20th Century-Fox has added Drumline to its 4/15 slate. And Universal will deliver Casual Sex/Cold Comfort Farm and The George Burns Triple Feature (Here Comes Cookie, Love in Bloom and Six of a Kind) on 2/4, and Bend of the River, Coal Miner's Daughter, Come September, Destry Rides Again, Duel at Silver Creek, The Far Country, Law and Order (1953 version), Night Passage, Redhead from Wyoming, Shenandoah, Two Mules for Sister Sara and Winchester 73, all on 5/6.

We've got a look at the packaging for Paramount's The Jack Ryan Special Edition Collection (due 5/6). We expect the individual title art sometime soon, so be sure to check back for that. Also shown below are Warner's The Mission: Special Edition and Kiss Me Kate (street date listed above). Titles with links can be pre-ordered now at DVD Planet.

The Jack Ryan Special Edition CollectionThe Mission: Special EditionKiss Me Kate

Around the site this morning, we've updated the CEA DVD Player Sales charts to include the 226,797 players that shipped to retailers in the States in the week ending 1/24.

And finally this morning, I wanted to let you all know about a cool thing our friends over at DVD Review have put together. It's a downloadable e-book (in PDF format) that tells you how to access the Easter eggs and other hidden features on literally hundreds of your favorite discs. I've seen it myself, and I can tell you that it's pretty comprehensive. It costs $9.95 to download, but if you're a fan of DVD Easter eggs, you might want to check it out.

And that's all for now. We'll be back later this afternoon with a new Trivia Contest, so be sure to check back...

2/8/03

Just wanted to make a quick post to let you all know that we've announced the winners of our Trivia Contest. Congratulations to all of them and thanks to all 686 who entered.

See you Monday!

(LATE UPDATE - 2/7/03 - 6:30 PM PST)

We've just posted two new disc reviews from yours truly, including a look at Columbia TriStar's The Fast Runner, as well as Warner Music and Rhino's DVD-Audio version of R.E.M.'s classic Automatic for the People.

And here's a DVD announcement to leave you this evening... Paramount has just announced The Jack Ryan Special Edition DVD Collection for release on May 6th. The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger will each feature new bonus material, new anamorphic transfers and both Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 sound (SRP $19.99 reach). The discs will be available separately as well as in a 4-disc box set (SRP $70-80) with The Sum of All Fears: Special Edition. The Hunt for Red October will include audio commentary by director John McTiernan, the Beneath the Surface featurette (new interviews with Alec Baldwin, James Earl Jones, screenwriter Larry Ferguson and producer Mace Neufeld) and the theatrical trailer. Patriot Games will have the Patriot Games Up Close featurette (new interviews with Harrison Ford, Anne Archer, James Earl Jones, producer Mace Neufeld, director Phillip Noyce, associate producer Lis Kern and screenplay writer W. Peter Iliff) and the theatrical trailer. And Clear and Present Danger will include the Behind the Danger featurette (new interviews with Harrison Ford, Anne Archer, James Earl Jones, Henry Czerny, Miguel Sandoval, Joaquim de Almeida, Donald Moffatt, producer Mace Neufeld and director Phillip Noyce). Not a lot extras-wise, but the anamorphic video and DTS audio should satisfy most of you home theater buffs.

Don't forget that our Trivia Contest ends tonight (okay... tomorrow morning) at 12:01 AM PST. Be sure to get your entries in quick.

And with that... have a great weekend everyone!

(EARLY UPDATE - 2/7/03 - 10:30 AM PST)

We've got a couple of reviews coming later this afternoon. But first, I feel a rant coming on and I've just got to let it fly. So indulge me if you will. You Gen-Xers will understand this. You Gen-Y and Z guys just hang tight for a minute okay?

I wanted to comment on a story that's been posted at Ain't it Cool News this morning (also reported on The Force.net). Star Wars creator George Lucas appeared last night at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood in honor of the opening night of a week-long tribute to ILM and Skywalker Sound by the American Cinematheque. According to many that were there, Lucas reportedly confirmed that the original theatrical versions of the Star Wars movies (as we all remember them from 1977, 1980 and 1983), will never appear on DVD. They're lost to time, replaced by his new and still-in-development ultimate, final "super special editions". The outraged reaction from fans is, of course, predictable... and entirely justified.

This plan isn't particularly new - Lucas has vaguely (and not so vaguely) hinted several times in recent years that this was his intent. But if that turns out to be his final decision, the result would be that the original experience that captured the imaginations of an entire generation of moviegoers would be lost forever. How can that make any Star Wars fan anything but sad... and absolutely, downright, steaming, pissed-off angry. Given the almost complete lack of charm the new prequels have compared to even the first edit of the rough-hewn, original film, the fact that Lucas would fail to preserve the original experience of Star Wars shows how utterly and completely he's lost sight of the point over the years.

Filmmakers have a responsibility to their audience and to cinema history. Lucas owes it to every single Star Wars fan that ever paid $5 for an action figure or $8 for a theater ticket to preserve the original experience. I don't care if he doesn't like them. We love them. I don't care if he owns them. In a equally real and important way, we own them too. They're part of our childhood! Steven Spielberg understood the importance of saving the original version of E.T., including it on DVD recently along with his "better" 2002 version. Lucas needs to follow his lead. Hey... don't get me wrong. I'm dying to see the new CGI-finished versions too. It's his right to remake the films the way he always wanted to in the first place, and I'm all for it. But he still needs to preserve the original versions. He owes it to the fans, he owes it to everyone who ever worked on the films and he owes it to generations of film lovers as yet unborn.

You might have built the Empire, George... but your fans paid for it. While you're making us wait for YEARS for these fabled super-boffo special editions of the original films on DVD, WHY IN THE HELL don't you release a set of movie-only DVDs of the original theatrical versions?! Every Star Wars fan on Earth would gladly shell out their hard-earned cash for the original versions now. And then, in 3 years or 5 years, they'd all be happy to buy the super-deluxe versions too!

If you have the gall to tell me that these films that were so much a part of my childhood don't exist as I remember them anymore, that's just fine. But then I want a refund for every movie ticket, every poster, every T-shirt, every book, every piece-of-crap action figure and every single God-damned bubble-gum card I ever bought as a kid. I'll send you the bill.

I'll tell you this: I WILL NEVER BUY A DVD OF THESE FILMS THAT DOESN'T INCLUDE THE ORIGINAL VERSIONS. I WON'T EVER REVIEW IT. I WON'T EVEN GIVE IT SO MUCH AS A GLANCE. If you're a fan and you're reading this right now and feel the same, you should speak out. Write letters, make phone calls, send e-mails... let George know exactly how you feel.

But as for me.... whatever. I've been a fan of Star Wars since I first saw it in 1977 as a fresh-faced, 10-year-old. It's been much more than a movie for me - it opened my eyes and fired my imagination. But I am SO done with it. What charm was left for me is finally gone. Lucas has officially killed it. I've been trying to hang with these new films, and have even defended them in my reviews of the DVDs. But now... you can count me out.

Back later...

2/6/03

Afternoon folks! We're in disc review mode for the next couple of days (yes, we know... it's about time!). Kicking things off, I've given Buena Vista's Sports Night: The Compete Series a spin on disc. New reviewer Jason Smith's turned in his thoughts on HBO's My Big Fat Greek Wedding. And our own Matt Rowe's got another SACD review for you - Blue Öyster Cult's Agents of Fortune from Sony Music. We'll be back with more reviews tomorrow, including Columbia TriStar's new The Fast Runner. We'll also be reviewing Paramount's upcoming Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - Season One and other titles next week.

Around the Net today, Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment's got a new poll running on their website asking you which of several TV series you'd like to see get the DVD treatment from them. They also want to know what format you prefer - "best of" collections or full seasons. Our vote is always for the full season option... and we're very much hoping The Tick hits our favorite format soon. Get on over there and cast your votes.

Sarah's got a couple pictures she took at that Matrix studio event the other night for you to check out. Clockwise from the top left are Laurence Fishburne and his wife Gina Torres (who you may recognize from the now-defunct Firefly), producer Joel Silver, Carrie-Anne Moss and Keanu Reeves.

Laurence Fishburne with wife Gina TorresMatrix producer Joel Silver

Keanu ReevesCarrie-Anne Moss

If you want to see more photos of the event and view streaming video clips, head on over to Latino Review and Lights Out Entertainment. And a quick shout out to Ronnie Adams and Brian Balchack from those sites - nice to finally meet you guys!

Elsewhere in cyberspace today, there's a brief story on MGM's just-released Thelma & Louise: Special Edition over at Yahoo, which features a few quotes from director Ridley Scott. There's also word that Universal's forthcoming DVD release of 8 Mile (3/18) will feature five new "rap battles" included just for the disc.

And finally this afternoon, it's come to our attention that some of you may be receiving spam e-mails, including viruses, from Digital Bits e-mail addresses. Please know that they're NOT actually coming from us. Unfortunately, one of the hazards of running a popular and well-trafficked website is that spammers harvest our e-mail addresses and use them to bombard others with unwanted junk. We've been told by several other DVD and movie news webmasters that they're experiencing the same thing. So please be patient with this, make sure your virus protection software is kept up to date... and know that it's not us. We're definitely aware of the problem, but unfortunately there's not much we can do about it.

Back tomorrow with more, so stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 2/5/03 - 10 AM PST)

In light of the Matrix news we posted early this morning, we thought it only fair to hit you all with a first look at the cover art for both Matrix titles. And while we're at it, we've got Universal's Fahrenheit 451 and The Andromeda Strain as well (both due on 4/1)!

The Matrix: Special Edition (Revised)The AnimatrixFahrenheit 451

The Andromeda Strain

I'm gonna say it right now... it's a pretty sad state of affairs that "From the Creator of Jurassic Park" carries more cache than, "From the Director of The Day the Earth Stood Still". Anything to pump another Universal title I guess. I mean, yeah... Day isn't a Uni flick. But I think it sucks that Robert Wise doesn't get top billing. I'm just saying. One other thing... this art comes from the studio but it's not final... thus the misspelling of Jurassic as Jurrasic. I'm sure it will be fixed on the final release.

Also this morning, we've got the CEA DVD Player Sales numbers for the first three weeks of January, ending 1/17. All charts have been updated accordingly.

We've got lots of new DVD reviews coming tomorrow, so stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 2/5/03 - 12:01 AM PST)

Okay kids... rumors have been swirling around for a couple of weeks now. But we've got OFFICIAL Matrix: SE and Animatrix DVD details for you this morning - everything that's fit to print and more, direct from Warner Bros! So let's get right to it...

On April 29th, Warner Bros is releasing a brand new, revised and upgraded Matrix: Special Edition DVD. The 2-disc set will SRP for $27.95, and will come in "collectible foil" packaging. The revised DVD is timed to promote (and take advantage of) the release of The Matrix Reloaded into theaters on May 15th.

Disc One is the same special edition DVD disc that was available previously (see our review here), including the film in anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio (sorry guys, no DTS), audio commentary (by star Carrie-Anne Moss, effects guru John Gaeta and editor Zach Staenberg), the Making the Matrix featurette, a music-only track with commentary by composer Don Davis, 9 Follow the White Rabbit interactive featurettes, 2 hidden Take the Red Pill documentaries and numerous DVD-ROM features.

Disc Two is the original Matrix: Revisited DVD (see our review here), upgraded with several new bonus features. The new material includes Preload: On the Set of Reloaded (an exclusive behind-the-scenes preview of the new film), an extended trailer for The Animatrix with previews for every short film (more on that in a moment), the Marilyn Manson music video for Rock is Dead, the What is the Game? teaser for the new Enter the Matrix videogame, a preview of upcoming TheMatrix.com website and numerous theatrical trailers and TV spots. All of the contents on the original Matrix: Revisited disc are here as well, including 6 behind-the-scenes featurettes on the first film (2 hours total), 3 hours of music/audio tracks, The Art Revisited art galleries (with over 800 drawings and still images) and more.

Then, on June 3rd, Warner Bros will release The Animatrix (SRP $24.98). The DVD includes 9 short films directed by some of the most talented artists working in Anime and CG animation today, written and conceived by the Wachowski Brothers and set in the same universe as The Matrix feature films. The shorts take place in parallel to the stories depicted in the feature films, and tie into them in many ways. One of the shorts, the 9-minute The Final Flight of the Osiris (directed by Andy Jones, animation by Square USA, Inc), is actually a prelude to The Matrix Reloaded. You'll have the chance to see it in theaters on March 21st, attached to Warner's Dreamcatcher. We were able to screen it last night, at a special preview event at the studio for the Enter the Matrix video game. It's a pretty incredible piece of photo-realistic CG animation - think Final Fantasy and you're in the right ballpark (Square produced that film as well).

In addition to The Final Flight of the Osiris, you'll get The Second Renaissance: Parts 1 and 2 (directed by Mahiro Maeda (of Blue Submarine No. 6 fame), animation by Studio4°C, Tokyo), Kid's Story (directed by Shinichiro Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop), animation by Studio4°C), Program (directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri (Vampire Hunter D and Ninja Scroll), animation by Madhouse Studios, Tokyo), World Record (directed by Takeshi Koike (lead animator on Wicked City), animation by Madhouse Studios), Beyond (directed by Koji Morimoto (animation supervisor on Akira), animation by Studio4°C), Detective Story (directed by Shinichiro Watanabe, animation by Studio4°C) and Matriculated (directed by Peter Chung (creator of MTV's Aeon Flux), animation by DNA, Seoul).

The Animatrix will also include Scrolls to Screen: The History and Culture of Anime, 7 behind-the-scenes featurettes, audio commentaries for The Second Renaissance: Parts 1 and 2, Program and World Record (all in the original Japanese audio with English subtitles), and a look at the making of the Enter the Matrix game, featuring interviews with Jada Pinkett and Carrie-Anne Moss. Audio will be English & Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1. At least some of the shorts (if not all) are anamorphic widescreen. Get all that? Whew!

By the way... if I got any of those names wrong, my apologies to you Anime fans. And just FYI, you can view The Second Renaissance: Part 1 online right now, along with a preview trailer for The Animatrix, by clicking here.

While were on the subject, the Enter the Matrix video game (coming this summer from Atari for virtually video game platform known to Mankind - see the official website here) picks up right where the story of The Final Flight of the Osiris ends, and takes you through a series of game play adventures that tie into the plot The Matrix Reloaded (again much of the game was written and conceived by the Wachowski Brothers, and filmed by them as well). When you "succeed" in the game, the events will affect the storyline of The Matrix Reloaded, running in parallel with the film's plot.

As a caution, we should say that given that the release dates for these two DVDs are three and five months away respectively, some of the details listed above may be subject to change. But again, this is all direct from Warner Home Video.

So... you think there's gonna be enough Matrix to go around in 2003? ;-)

In some non-Matrix news, we have details straight from Universal Music on the upcoming The Police: Every Breath You Take - The DVD (due on 3/18). The disc will include the original music videos for Roxanne, Can't Stand Losing You, Message in a Bottle, Walking on the Moon, So Lonely, Don't Stand So Close to Me, De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da, Every Little Thing She Does is Magic, Invisible Sun, Spirits in the Material World, Every Breath You Take, Wrapped Around Your Finger, Synchronicity II and Don't Stand So Close to Me '86, all with audio in both Dolby Digital and DTS formats. But that's not all Cops fans! You'll also get Can't Stand Losing You and Next to You as performed live on the BBC's Old Grey Whistle Test program, along with The Police in Montserrat (a 45-minute, behind-the-scenes documentary on the making of the Ghost in the Machine album), as well the Studies in Synchronicity album promo featurette and a complete discography of the band. How hard does that rock? Clue = VERY!

Speaking of The Police, you can get a first look at the covers for all their upcoming SACDs releases in today's installment of Matt Rowe's MusicTAP column.

And let's round out things here in the wee hours of Wednesday morning with your very first look at the DVD cover artwork for Fox's soon-to-be-announced Coen Brothers DVDs, Barton Fink and Miller's Crossing (street date TBA), as well as the studio's upcoming Sink the Bismarck (due 5/20).

Barton FinkMiller's CrossingSink the Bismark

Not a bad way to start the day, eh? Back with more later this morning...

2/4/03

We've been getting a lot of e-mails from people who are suddenly worried about "DVD rot" affecting their movie collections. It seems a recent article in The Sydney Morning Herald addressed the issue, claiming that it affects between 1 and 10% of all DVD discs. First to explain... "DVD rot", or any kind of optical disc rot, is something that can occur when the bond between the different layers of a disc fail, a process called delamination. This tends to happen most frequently with rental discs, that are put through extreme wear and are often poorly handled.

Of course, this story has a lot of you freaked out and checking your movie libraries. Can DVD rot occur? Yes, in limited cases. But I can tell you that we've never experienced this here at The Digital Bits, and we've looked at literally thousands of discs. More often than not, we believe that what's happening is that people buy a new DVD player, and go back to watch older discs in their collection on it. Each DVD player reacts a little differently, and sometimes a disc that had no problems in the past can cause a pause, or freeze on a different player. Also, these things can be caused by scratches on the disc's surface - scratches which can be repaired by kits available on the market. To test this, you need to make sure the error is repeatable, and that it happens the same on more than one model of player. Again, this isn't to say that DVD rot isn't possible or that some people aren't experiencing it. It's just to say that you shouldn't start worrying too much. If you are concerned, pick a sampling of the oldest titles in your collection and watch them. But generally, we believe the problem isn't large enough that people need to worry.

Now then... another story this morning that has some of you concerned. CNN ran a story yesterday about the family of filmmaker Orson Wells suing Turner and RKO over the rights to two of his best known films, Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons. Some of you are afraid that it may affect the availability of Warner's recent 2-disc Citizen Kane: Special Edition DVD, and you've been asking us if you should run out and get a copy. The long answer to that question is that we've checked in with Warner. They can't comment on litigation, but as far as they know, the disc will remain available. The short answer is absolutely you should go out and buy the disc... NOT because of fears that it might go away, but simply because it's a great DVD that belongs in the collection of every serious film fan. Forget all the litigation talk and go buy the disc for heaven's sake! You won't be sorry you did.

Back with more later. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 2/3/03 - 1 PM PST)

We're very pleased today to bring you a brand new regular column here at The Digital Bits - Brad Pilcher's Games People Play. Brad's a longtime staffer and DVD reviewer here at The Bits, and he's no stranger to videogaming. In his new column, Brad'll take a look at some of the latest trends and issues in videogaming, preview upcoming titles and even review some of the latest games for PS2, GameCube and X-Box. Do check it out.

Also today, I want to mention another recently added section here at The Digital Bits - Matt Rowe's MusicTAP. Matt's been a DVD music reviewer for us for some time now, and he even worked as a concert promoter back in the late 1970s and early 80s. Suffice it to say, Matt definitely knows his way around the music industry. Matt's area of The Bits is all about music news and reviews, with a particular emphasis on DVD-Audio, Super Audio CD and independent releases. I think you'll find his work to be very helpful as we move into the high-resolution audio world. Best of all, his column will be updated every week day.

We're very proud to have both Brad and Matt on our staff, so please check out their work and drop 'em a line to say hello and give feedback. Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 2/3/03 - 12:01 AM PST)

Well... another Monday's here. And along with it comes more new DVD announcements. So brew up some coffee and let's run 'em down.

Columbia TriStar has added First Shot to its 4/8 slate. Lions Gate will release Secretary on 4/1, with Rip it Off following on 4/22. Upcoming Lions Gate/Trimark titles include Hit Me on 4/8, Cube: Special Edition and Lolita: Special Edition on 4/15, Believer on 4/22, and 100 Girls and Cube 2: Hypercube on 4/29. Paramount has set Bloody Sunday for 4/22 release. Rhino will deliver G.I. Joe: The Original Mini-Series - Real American Hero/Revenge of Cobra, Gigantor: Set 2, Mystery Science Theatre 3000, Set 2 (Pod People, Cave Dwellers, Angels' Revenge and Shorts #1) and Simply Red: Greatest Video Hits all on 2/11. Look for The Mission: Special Edition on 5/13 from Warner.

And on the Image Entertainment front, the company has announced David Allan Coe: Live at Billy Bob’s Texas, Ironman: Erotic Fantasy Workout #1, Life and Passion of Jesus Christ/From the Manger to the Cross, Merry-Go-Round, Millay at Steepletop/The Last Train and Mozart: Die Entfuhrung Aus Dem Serail (all for 4/8), Angels/Getting Into Heaven, Hyper Police #5, New Adventures of Pinocchio, Olga’s Triple Feature (White Slaves of Chinatown, Olga’s Girls and House of Shame), Olivia, Pinocchio in Outer Space, Ryan Adams: Live in Jamaica, Tito Puente: Live in Montreal, Penthouse: Pet of the Year Play-Off 2003, Tomcat: Steppin’ Up #1 and Wailers: Live (all 4/15), Benny Hill’s World Tour: New York, Chinese Chocolate, Destiny of a Man, White Knuckle Extreme: Props - Passport 2002, White Knuckle Extreme: TO' Day of Days and Operation Y (all 4/22) and Heart: Alive in Seattle, Darkroom, Jessica: A Ghost Story, Naked Truth, Zero Boys, Rockthology #7 and Rockthology #8 (all 4/29).

Back with more later this morning, so stay tuned!


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