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page updated: 9/17/03



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 8/11/03 - 7/23/03)


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8/11/03

Hope you all had a great weekend. We've got some sad news to report today: actor/dancer Gregory Hines passed away over the weekend. You can read more on that here at CNN.

Around the Bits this afternoon, we've updated the CEA DVD Player Sales stats to be current with the latest released numbers (for the week ending 7/25). The month of July saw a total of 999,508 players shipped from manufacturers to retailers here in the States, taking the Year to Date total for the format to 8,859,369 players, and the Format to Date total up to a whopping 52,578,107 players. All charts have been updated accordingly. And just FYI, we've also updated all the other data charts we track above.

We've announced the winners of our latest Trivia Contest, so congratulations to them and thanks to all 2,913 people who entered. We've got another contest about to start, so be sure to check back.

We're pleased to offer you another new DVD review this afternoon. Our own Brad Pilcher has checked in with a look at Touchstone and Buena Vista's recent Who Framed Roger Rabbit: Vista Series DVD.

We also have some new cover art for you as well... Warner's Friends: The Complete Fifth Season (11/4), HBO's The Sopranos: The Complete Fourth Season (10/28) and Fox's 28 Days Later: Special Edition (10/21).

Friends: The Complete Fifth SeasonThe Sopranos: The Complete Fourth Season28 Days Later: Special Edition

Also today, we have some new upcoming DVD announcements for you. ADV Films will release the Power Dolls: Complete Collection on 10/21. A&E has announced Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman: The Complete Season Two, Mayor of Casterbridge, Mr. Bean: The Animated Series #1 - It's Not Easy Being Bean, Mr. Bean: The Animated Series #2 - Bean There, Done That and Victory at Sea: The Complete Series all for 9/30, Brooklyn South: The Complete Series and Homicide: Life on the Street - The Complete Season Three following on 10/28. Blue Underground is releasing Blood of Fu Manchu, Castle of Fu Manchu, Circus of Fear and a Christopher Lee Collection (which includes the three previous titles, plus a bonus disc only available in this set - The Bloody Judge), all on 9/30. Columbia TriStar will release Afterglow, Cirque Du Soleil: Dralion - Superbit, Cromwell, Hollywood Homicide, Home Room, Les Miserables: Superbit, Man Without a Past and Riverdance: Live from New York - Superbit all on 10/7, with Anatomy 2, Men of Respect, Owning Mahony and Storyville following on 10/14. Criterion has announced Le Cercle Rouge, Schizopolis and Tokyo Story for 10/14. Funimation is releasing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1: Attack of the Mousers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #2: Meet Casey Jones on 9/2, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #3: The Way on Invisibility and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #4: The Shredder Strikes on 10/28. And HBO has announced The Sopranos: The Complete Fourth Season for 10/28.

Image has a batch of newly announced titles. Look for Extra Weird Sampler, Hip-Hop and Rock, Playboy: Complete Inside Out, Playboy: Women of Starbucks and Secret Cellar on 10/7, The Alien Saga, Heroes of Horror, Omen Legacy, Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma, Thirsty Dead/Swamp of the Ravens, TV Guide Looks at Christmas, WC: Bandana Swingin' and Zodiac Killer/Sex Killer/Zero in and Scream all on 10/14, AKA: Girl Skater, Disposable Heroes, Modus Mix, Blues Legends: Freddie King Live in Europe, Buster Keaton Double Feature: The General/Steamboat Bill, Dick Van Dyke Show: Season One, Dick Van Dyke Show: Season Two, Elaine Stritch at Liberty, Penthouse: Scarlet Villa, Wild Shots: Oldies and Goodies and Xtreme Nostalgia: Vintage Drag Racing all on 10/21, and Global Destinations: Passport to the World, Inside Hip-Hop and Jin: The Making of a Rap Star all on 10/28.

You may have noticed a couple of particularly interesting titles in the Image list to genre fans. Image is releasing both The Alien Saga and Omen Legacy documentaries on DVD on 10/14 (SRP $19.99 each). The Alien Saga recently appeared on AMC, and is being released just in time to make a nice match with the TBA year-end release of Fox's Alien Quadrilogy box set.

The Alien SagaOmen Legacy

Moving on, New Video will release Scared Straight/Scared Straight 20 Years Later on 8/26, with Decade Under the Influence following on 9/30 and Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment, Primary and Smashing Machine on 10/28. Pacific Family/Triumph will release Convoy and The Final Countdown on 8/19, The Boys in Company C and Savannah Smiles on 10/21 and Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park, Mazes and Monsters, Monster Squad and Night of the Comet on 10/28. Red Distribution has set Atomic Kitten: Right Here, Right Now - Live, Peter Green Splinter Group in Concert, Pink Floyd: The Dark Side of the Moon and Sinead O'Connor: Goodnight, Thank You for 8/26, The Pretenders: Loose in LA for 9/9, and Eric Clapton and Friends: Live - 1986 for 9/23. 20th Century Fox will release Wrong Turn on 10/14, 28 Days Later: Special Edition (full frame & widescreen) on 10/21, and The X-Files: The Complete Eighth Season on 11/4. And Warner has added What's New Scooby-Doo?: Space Ape at the Cafe to its 8/19 slate, with The In-Laws following on 10/7, Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, Black Scorpion and Valley of the Gwangi due on 10/21, Best of Friends: Season 4, Dark Passage, Friends: The Complete Fifth Season, High Sierra, They Drive by Night and To Have and Have Not following on 11/4 and Little Polar Bear on 12/2.

And finally today, Warner has made available an online video preview of The Matrix Reloaded on DVD. Click here for that (via Windows Media).

That's all for now. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 8/8/03 - 4 PM PDT)

As promised, we have no less than FIVE new DVD reviews this afternoon, all of them new or upcoming releases. And our old pal Todd Doogan's back to take 'em on. His new Doogan's Views column takes a nice, close look at Media Blaster's Versus, Unearthed Films' Junk, Warner's The Omega Man, Synapse's Stacy and Anchor Bay's long-awaited Divimax edition of George Romero's Day of the Dead. Detect something of a theme there? Think "undead" and you're on the right track. Zombies, baby yeah!

And speaking of zombies, we've confirmed that 20th Century Fox will release 28 Days Later on 10/21 (SRP $27.98). The film will be presented in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include an audio commentary track with the director and writer, 3 alternate endings, deleted scenes, the Pure Rage: The Making of 28 Days Later featurette, a production stills gallery with director commentary, a Polaroid picture gallery with director commentary, the Jacknife Lee music video, animated story boards and the film's teaser and theatrical trailers.

We'll be back on Monday with lots more DVD fun, so have a great weekend and we'll see you then!

(EARLY UPDATE - 8/8/03 - 12:30 PM PDT)

We're going to check back in this afternoon with a new Doogan's View column, including a number of new DVD reviews, so be sure to watch for that.

In the meantime, we've gotten updated word from multiple independent sources on street dates for Fox's 28 Days Later, X-Men 2: X-Men United and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. You'll find that in The Rumor Mill. Keep in mind, these dates aren't official until Fox makes their announcement.

Also today, we've gotten more details from Lucasfilm on the Indy DVDs. They are indeed streeting on 10/21 now. We also have more specific information on the bonus disc contents. Here's what to expect, direct from the official press release:

Indiana Jones: Making the Trilogy - Documentarians raided the Lucasfilm archives for an unprecedented behind-the-scenes look at movie-making history. More than two dozen new interviews were conducted with the talented cast and crew of the Indiana Jones trilogy - some of whom were interviewed for the first time since the films were originally released. Making the Trilogy is a completely unique tour through the rough-and-tumble world of the films’ creation. Complete with never-before-seen footage, outtakes, screen tests, production drawings and photographs direct from the Lucasfilm archives, it's the most detailed exploration of these classic films ever produced.

The Light and Magic of Indiana Jones - The visual effects wizards from Industrial Light and Magic bring new insight into how they created the unique world of Indiana Jones. Their groundbreaking techniques in visual and mechanical effects came in an era before computer-generated effects existed, offering unique challenges and spectacular results. ILM technicians explain how miniatures, matte paintings, morphing and more made Indy's spectacular quests and supernatural adventures into unforgettable film experiences.

Taking an in-depth adventure in sound, The Sound of Indiana Jones joins Academy Award®-winning sound designer Ben Burtt as he reveals the crucial role that sound effects and editing played in the Indiana Jones films, while also providing an aural history behind some of the most talked-about scenes.

The Stunts of Indiana Jones goes behind the scenes to witness the intense coordination required by the entire production team to make certain a death-defying scene looks convincing on film. This documentary reveals how the Indy films paid homage to the past and were pivotal to the future of heart-stopping, perilous movie stunts.

Venture on a musical journey with John Williams as he reminisces about his collaboration with Steven Spielberg and George Lucas and The Music of Indiana Jones. Viewers will learn how one of the most iconic movie themes of all-time, The Raiders March, was conceived and gain insight into how the music uniquely compliments the theme and mood of each adventure.

Original theatrical teasers and trailers for the Indiana Jones movies, along with a trailer for the Indiana Jones and The Emperor's Tomb video game from LucasArts.

Exclusive DVD-ROM access to exclusive Indiana Jones content, available through a special DVD-ROM web site. An additional link to the Indianajones.com web site (the official site for Indiana Jones fans) will offer daily features and updates on the upcoming Indiana Jones 4.


So there you have it.

Back later with more. Stay tuned...

8/7/03

We've got a pair of new DVD reviews for you today. I've given Warner's new The Thing from Another World a spin, and Matt Rowe checks in with a review of Universal/Interscope's The Jam: The Complete Jam on Film 1977-1982.

We've got several more reviews on the way for tomorrow, so be sure to stay tuned.

(LATE UPDATE - 8/6/03 - 1:15 PM PDT)

It's official, folks. Paramount has just confirmed to us that the street date for their Indiana Jones DVDs has been moved up from 11/4 to 10/21. That's good news for you Indy fans. You have nearly two weeks less to wait!

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 8/6/03 - 11 AM PDT)

Okay... a couple of quick updates this morning for you.

First of all, Paramount has confirmed that Star Trek: Voyager is coming to DVD in 2004, as we first reported last year in The Rumor Mill, and as confirmed by our friends at IGN this week. The series will be released, like TNG and DS9, in complete season sets throughout the year. There's no confirmation as yet on plans to repackage The Original Series episodes in season sets in 2005, or what plans may be for The Animated Series or the current Enterprise.

You know... personally, I think Paramount is missing the boat on Enterprise. The latest series has suffered chronic drops in ratings in its first two seasons, so bad that Season Three (which starts in September) is going to feature a "bold new direction" in its story. The fact is, it seems a lot of Trek fans have checked out of the series. And because it's on UPN, there are many markets around the U.S. that simply don't get to see it. I'm even told the series is often preempted by high school sports in some areas of the county.

So what's the answer? Simple... use the successful strategy developed by 20th Century Fox (a studio that pioneered the TV on DVD push and continues to do it better than anyone). Release the first season of Enterprise on DVD ASAP. It worked for 24. When Fox released 24: Season One on DVD last summer, it was THE DVD to get. As a result, a bigger audience than ever tuned into Season Two when it was broadcast on TV. The strategy is going to work for Alias (Buena Vista is releasing BOTH Seasons One and Two of Alias before the end of the year). So why can't it work for Enterprise?

Release Enterprise: Season One on DVD in time for Christmas. Include the episodes in anamorphic widescreen video (a first for a Trek TV series on DVD) and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Pick the best three or four episodes of the season and have the actors record audio commentary (say, the main three on one episode, the other four on another). Have the series producers do a commentary on a couple of episodes too (like the pilot), and maybe even get some writers involved. Create the kind of behind-the-scenes features that you can ONLY do on-set, with a show that's currently in production. Create a lengthy documentary looking at 24 hours in the life of Enterprise, or the making of a complete episode from start to finish. What are the actors up to? What are the writers doing? What's cooking in the special effects department? You get the idea. Include outtakes, bloopers, gag reels and DELETED scenes - things Star Trek fans have been clambering for on DVD for years. Create animated, 3-D fly-arounds of the starships and props, and even interactive tours of the sets, that you can navigate with your remote control. You can even tease what's coming in Seasons Two and Three. Make the DVDs so cool, that not only will every Star Trek fan have to have them, but the home theater crowd's gotta have 'em too. Trek fans will have a chance to get reinvested in the show, and you'll pick up new fans too. Best of all, people who have missed the show thus far, for whatever reason, will get the chance to catch up when it might actually do the ratings some good.

That's just some free advice for you Trek execs at Paramount from your pals at The Digital Bits.

Okay... moving on today, T3 director Jonathan Mostow recently gave a video interview (at the London premiere of the film) in which he talks about plans for the eventual Warner DVD release. You can view the complete interview (in MPEG format) at TheArnoldFans.com. Here are the relevant passages:

TAFs: Were there any scenes that were cut from T3 that you would love to see back on the DVD?

Mostow: No, you know what, the director's cut of the movie is shown in that theatre tonight. So there's nothing else I want to add.

TAFs: So what else can fans expect on the DVD? Because you must have something special for us!

Mostow: Well, we have some cool things for the DVD. Of course we have the commentaries, but these commentaries are maybe going to be a little bit more interesting then you're used to. I am really encouraging the people that I worked with on the movie is to really get specific about the nuts and bolts on what they do and how they contributed to the movie. We've got some great features on the movie that show behind the scenes, how we made the special effects, and I was thinking of making a DVD where you can actually build your own visual effect with materials of the movie. So I am kind of exited how it's going to be. It's really cool.


Thanks to Bits reader Allen for pointing this out.

Finally this morning, you film fans in the L.A. area are in for a real treat next month. The World 3-D Film Expo is going to be held from September 12th to the 21st at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood. 33 feature films and some 21 short subjects will be screened, all in dual projection Polaroid 3-D! It Came from Outer Space, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Robot Monster, Dial M for Murder... the list of 3-D films on the docket is long and varied. Be sure to visit the Expo's official website for more information. There's only one way to have more fun in the dark (and it's generally not legal in public)! So be sure to check out some of these great flicks if you can.

Back with more later. Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 8/6/03 - 12:01 AM PDT)

The producers of the 6th Annual DVD Awards with Leonard Maltin have announced the nominees in this year's awards. The DVD Awards are produced by the International Recording Media Association (IRMA) and Medialine magazine, and The Digital Bits is one of the media sponsors (Bits editor Bill Hunt served on the judging committee). The titles in the list below are all in the running, and the winners will be announced on Wednesday, August 20 at the DVD Entertainment Conference & Showcase in L.A., in a special ceremony hosted by Maltin. But YOU can decide the winner of this year's Viewers' Choice award. All you have to do is click here, or on any of the Viewer's Choice Award banners we have running around the site, to make your choice. It's easy, it's free and it's a great way to show your appreciation for all the hard work that goes into your favorite discs. So be sure to cast your vote ASAP!

Now then... here are the nominees:

Best Restoration

E.T. - The Extra Terrestrial - Collector's Edition (Universal)
Singin' in the Rain: Special Edition (Warner Bros.)
Sunset Blvd.: Special Collector's Edition (Paramount)
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Special Edition (Disney)
West Side Story: Special Edition (MGM)

Best DVD Audio

Brian Bromberg: Jaco (Future Disc)
The Concert for World Children's Day (Executive Visions, Inc.)
Frank Zappa: Halloween (DTS Entertainment)
Queen: The Game (DTS Entertainment)
Sheila Nicholls: Wake (DTS Entertainment)

Best SACD

Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon (Sony Music)
Alison Krauss + Union Station - Live (Sony Music)

Best DVD-ROM Support

Pulp Fiction: Collector's Edition (Miramax)
Spiderman: Widescreen Special Edition (Canned Interactive)
Standing in the Shadows of Motown (Artisan)
Stuart Little 2: Special Edition (Columbia TriStar)
Terminator 2: Judgment Day - Extreme DVD (Artisan)

Best Bonus Game Feature

Beauty & the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas - Special Edition (Disney)
Monsters, Inc. (Disney)
Monsters, Inc. DVD Read-Along (Future Disc)
Return to Neverland (Disney)
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? - Vista Series (Touchstone)

Best Audio Presentation

Akira: DTS Version (Pioneer)
Black Hawk Down (Columbia TriStar)
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring: Extended Edition (New Line)
Minority Report (DreamWorks)
Star Trek: Nemesis (Paramount)

Best Authoring

Band of Brothers (HBO & Laser Pacific)
Blade II (New Line)
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring: Extended Edition (New Line)
Monsters, Inc. (Disney)
Terminator 2: Judgment Day - Extreme DVD (Artisan)

Best Menu Design

Band of Brothers (HBO)
Beauty & the Beast: Special Platinum Edition (Disney)
Minority Report (DreamWorks)
Monsters, Inc. (Disney)
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? - Vista Series (Touchstone)

Best Video Presentation

Blade II (New Line)
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring: Extended Edition (New Line)
Monsters, Inc. (Disney)
Terminator 2: Judgment Day - Extreme DVD (Artisan)
XXX: Superbit (Columbia TriStar)

Best DVD-Video Music

The Concert for World Children's Day (Executive Visions, Inc.)
Herbie Hancock: Future2Future Live (MX Entertainment)
Melissa Etheridge: Live & Alone (Bitmax, LLC)
Miles Davis Live in Munich (Pioneer)
Tipper: Surrounded (MyUtopia Recordings/5.1 Entertainment)

Best Educational/Documentary Title

Chicago: City of the Century (American Experience/WGBH Boston)
Schoolhouse Rock: Special 30th Anniversary Edition (Buena Vista)
Inside Trinidad & Tobago Carnival 2K3 (Advance Dynamics Ltd)
Lost in La Mancha (New Video/Docurama)
Standing in the Shadows of Motown (Artisan)

Best Standard Release

Catch Me if You Can (DreamWorks)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Warner Bros.)
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (New Line)
Monsters, Inc. (Disney)
Panic Room (Columbia TriStar)

Best Special Edition

Black Hawk Down: Deluxe Edition (Columbia TriStar)
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring: Extended Edition (New Line)
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Special Edition (Disney)
West Side Story: Special Edition (MGM)
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? - Vista Series (Touchstone)

Back with more later. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 8/5/03 - 5:30 PM PDT)

Okay... reviews at last! This afternoon, we have four DVD reviews for you. Adam Jahnke checks in with a look at Anchor Bay's Murder by Decree and 20th Century Fox's The King of Comedy. And Graham Greenlee turns in a pair as well with Universal's About a Boy and New Yorker's The Price of Milk. And tomorrow, we'll have reviews of some NEW and upcoming titles. So there. ;-)

See you then!

(LATE UPDATE - 8/5/03 - 12:30 PM PDT)

Good news for you Sopranos fans this afternoon. HBO has officially announced the DVD release of The Sopranos: The Complete Fourth Season on 10/28. The 4-disc set (SRP $99.98), will include all fourth season episodes in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include audio commentary on Episode 4 with writer Terence Winter, audio commentary on Episode 6 with writer/actor Michael Imperioli (who also plays Christopher), audio commentary on Episode 8 with writers Robin Green & Mitchell Burgess, audio commentary on Episode 13 with series creator/writer David Chase, Easter eggs, episode previews and recaps, and more. We'll post art when it's available.

Also today, we're getting a lot of reports from retail sources that Paramount has moved the street date for its The Adventures of Indiana Jones: The Complete DVD Movie Collection up to 10/21 (from 11/4) to avoid competition with Disney's Finding Nemo. We've got a call into the studio and we'll let you know when we have final confirmation either way.

In other news today, Video Store has an interesting report from last week's VSDA on a studio panel on the subject of high-definition video discs. All the studios seem to agree that HD on disc is the future, but disagreement starts to happen when you talk about which format will be adopted. According to Sony's Michael Fidler, Blu-ray Disc could arrive in late 2005. And there are at least four other proposals out there.

On a related note, we have word that the Hollywood studios are forming a Hollywood Advisory Committee to make their voices heard with manufacturers on the issue of developing next-generation, high-definition video discs, and to help try to cut through the confusion of all the competing format proposals.

Back with more soon. Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 8/5/03 - 10:30 AM PDT)

Morning everyone! We got a bunch of proofed book pages back from the publisher yesterday, and approving them unfortunately took most of the day. So those reviews we'd planned for yesterday will get posted later today. And be aware that we've got a number of NEW and upcoming title reviews coming tomorrow and throughout the rest of the week. Thanks for your patience.

In the meantime, we've uncovered a major snafu involving Universal's on-again, off-again DVD release of Steven Spielberg's Duel. The title, which had been expected to ship last month, was pulled from the slate by Universal. But at least a few of those people who pre-ordered the disc on Amazon.com actually received their copies. Now, Amazon is saying that the title is not currently available. DVD Planet is reporting an 8/12 street date, but Universal's press site has no new street date confirmation. So if you're one of the few who got your hands on the disc, hang on tight... you may have a collector's item. We'll post an update when new information becomes available.

Finally this morning, we've kicked off our Artist of the Month program - our very own effort to take advantage of our extra banner space to support the arts - with a look at the work of illustrator M. Jason Reed. Be sure to check out his stuff!

Back later. Stay tuned...

8/4/03

Morning, folks! Hope you all had a great weekend. We've got a few new DVD reviews for you today, which will be posted late this afternoon. First though, we've got some new upcoming DVD news for you.

20th Century Fox has just announced the specs for The X-Files: The Complete Eighth Season, which is set to street on 11/4 (SRP $149.98). All twenty-one eighth season episodes will be included on six discs. Look for anamorphic widescreen video (1.78:1), Dolby Surround audio, an audio commentary track on the episode Alone by director Frank Spotnitz, international clips from Within, Via Negativa, The Gift, Three Words, Essence and Existence, deleted scenes from Sure Kill, Badlaa, Per Manum, Empedocles and Existence, The Truth About Season Eight featurette, The X-Files Profiles featurettes (about the characters Gibson Praise, John Doggett and Alex Krycek), twenty-one TV spots, special effects outtakes from seven episodes by Matt Beck (commentary by Paul Rawin) and a new DVD-ROM game called Existence. We'll post art as soon as it's available.

Also, just FYI, a number of retail sources have informed us that Warner's Friends: The Complete Fifth Season is set to street on 9/2. We're waiting for confirmation from the studio.

Stay tuned...

8/1/03

Today is a quick post while we working on reviews for next week. But we've kicked off our new Trivia Contest this afternoon, giving all of you a chance to win four great DVDs from 20th Century Fox - Solaris, Phone Booth, M*A*S*H: Season Four and Brigham Young.

Also this afternoon, we have official details from Universal on the specs for The Hulk. Set to street on 10/28, the title will be available in both anamorphic widescreen and full frame editions (SRP $26.98 each). Each 2-disc set will feature audio in Dolby Digital 5.1, audio commentary with director Ang Lee, deleted scenes, 6 featurettes (Hulk Cam: Inside the Rage, Superhero Revealed: The Anatomy of the Hulk, Hulkification, Evolution of The Hulk, The Incredible Ang Lee and The Making of Hulk), an analysis of the "dog fight" scene, a look at Ang Lee's editing style, cast and filmmaker bios, theatrical trailers, DVD-ROM features and more.

Finally, if you check back tonight, we'll be kicking off our Artist of the Month program with our first featured artist. Don't miss it!

Back Monday with reviews! See you then!

(LATE UPDATE - 7/31/03 - 12:15 PM PDT)

What do you know... right after we complete the update of our Upcoming DVD Cover Art section, we get final art for Universal's The Hulk! So here's that along with Will and Grace: Season One (8/12) and A&E's Victory at Sea (9/30).

The HulkWill and Grace: Season OneVictory at Sea

Enjoy and stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 7/31/03 - 12:01 AM PDT)

We know you guys are always dying to see more DVD cover art, so we've taken the liberty of updating our Upcoming DVD Cover Art section with nearly 125 MORE new cover scans. There's just way too much new art to list here, so be sure to check it out.

Also this morning, we've got some new details on a few upcoming releases. Let's start with Warner's A Christmas Story: 20th Anniversary Special Edition. The 2-disc set (10/7 - SRP $26.99) will feature anamorphic widescreen video,

the Another Christmas Story documentary on the making of the film (narrated by Peter Billingsley), feature-length audio commentary with cast members and director Bob Clark, 2 featurettes (A History of The Daisy Red Ryder an Get a Leg Up: A Shining Light of Freedom), the Triple Dog Dare interactive trivia game, a "decoder match challenge" game, the Jean Shepherd Radio Program (featuring the author/narrator of A Christmas Story reading the holiday stories from his book In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash which served as the basis for the movie), Easter eggs and more. With new SEs of both A Christmas Story and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on the way, we're just tickled pink here at the old Bits, let me tell you.

Buena Vista has revealed the tentative specs for their Alias: Season Two DVD (12/2 - SRP $69.99). The 6-disc set will include all 22 second season episodes of the series in anamorphic widescreen and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include The Making of The Telling documentary (on the season finale), the Undercover: The Look of Alias featurette, a season two gag reel, a Monday Night Football parody, a look at the making of the videogame, deleted scenes and audio commentary with members of the cast and crew. Note that a few of these details may be subject to change.

And just to make things interesting, retail sources are telling us that Universal plans to debut full frame and widescreen versions of The Hulk: Collector's Edition on 10/28 (SRP $26.98 each). The DVD Answers website has posted some nice screen shots of the menus.

Finally this morning, we have word on Criterion's expected DVD slate for October. Look for Jean-Pierre Melville's Le Cercle Rouge, Steven Soderbergh's Schizopolis and Yasujiro Ozu's Tokyo Story, all on 10/4 (SRP $39.95 each).

Stay tuned...

7/30/03

We've got some good stuff to go with your morning coffee today. To start with, our own Robert A. Harris, who happens to be one of the leading film restorers in the business, is finally able to talk about his work on Columbia TriStar's forthcoming Lawrence of Arabia: Superbit DVD! As you may know, Robert was involved in the original restoration of the film in 1988, during which he worked closely with director David Lean and cinematographer Freddie Young. For this new Superbit release, Robert was invited to come back in and sweat the details with the studio's high definition and DVD teams, making various tweaks and adjustments to ensure that the film looks as close as possible to what Lean and Young intended. The release promises to be the best presentation of Lawrence on home video ever, so click here to learn about Robert's work on the title.

Also this morning, we're pleased to announce the addition of another new review staffer to our ranks here at The Digital Bits... Rob Hale. Rob checks in with his first three reviews this morning, including George Romero's The Crazies (as released by Blue Underground), and Fox's recent DVD versions of the Coen Brothers' Barton Fink and Miller's Crossing. Welcome aboard, Rob!

And finally, we have official details for you on MGM's forthcoming Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: Special Edition (SRP $29.98) due on 11/25. The 2-disc set will include LONG overdue anamorphic widescreen video (aspect ratio 2.20:1, mastered from a new high-definition transfer of the film), Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, the Remembering Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with Dick Van Dyke documentary, 4 featurettes (A Fantasmagorical Motorcar, The Ditchling Tinkerer, The Potts Children and a Dick Van Dyke archival featurette), original Sherman Brothers music demos for 14 songs, a sing-along option, a read-along option, 2 interactive games (One Person's Junk is Another Person's Jalopy and Toot Sweet Special Delivery), coloring pages, an archival advertising gallery and a 32-page "storybook" booklet.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: Special Edition

Have a great day!

(LATE UPDATE - 7/29/03 - 4:45 PM PDT)

You fans of 007 will be pleased to learn that MGM is going to be re-releasing all 20 films in the Bond series on DVD this November. On 11/18, MGM will release three new special edition gift sets (SRP $124.96 each). The James Bond Collection, Volume 1 will include Dr. No, Goldeneye, Goldfinger, License to Kill, Man with the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me and Tomorrow Never Dies. The James Bond Collection, Volume 2 will include From Russia with Love, You Only Live Twice, Diamonds are Forever, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, The Living Daylights and The World is Not Enough. And The James Bond Collection, Volume 3 will feature Thunderball, Octopussy, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Die Another Day, Live and Let Die and A View to a Kill. These are the same special edition DVD releases that have been available previously, with the same extras. All of these titles, except Die Another Day (also available separately) will be available until 1/19/04, when they'll return to moratorium status until sometime after the next Bond film hits theaters.

Back tomorrow with reviews and more. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 7/29/03 - 1:45 PM PDT)

The winners of the 2003 Home Entertainment DVD Technical Awards were announced today at the Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) show in Las Vegas. Both Todd and I served as judges for the event, along with other DVD experts from a variety of publications and websites. Here's the rundown of the winners:

Best Overall DVD Presentation - Theatrical Release: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - Special Extended Edition - New Line Home Entertainment

Best Overall DVD Presentation - Non-Theatrical Release: Band of Brothers - HBO/Warner Home Video

Best Overall DVD Presentation for Adult Product: Gladiator: Special Collector's Edition - Private North America

Best DVD Commentary: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - Special Extended Edition - New Line Home Entertainment

Best Use of Menu Features: Who Framed Roger Rabbit - Buena Vista/Touchstone Home Entertainment

Best Audio Presentation: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - Special Extended Edition - New Line Home Entertainment

Best Overall Use of DVD-ROM Features: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - Warner Home Video

Best Re-Mastered DVD: Singin' in the Rain - Warner Home Video

Best Direct Digital Transfer: Ice Age - Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment

Best Video Transfer From a Non-Digital Source: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - Special Extended Edition - New Line Home Entertainment

Best Supplementary Material Presentation: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - Special Extended Edition - New Line Home Entertainment

Best Easter Egg: Spider-Man - Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment

Best Music DVD - Theatrical Release: The Last Waltz: Special Edition - MGM Home Entertainment

Best Music DVD - Non-Theatrical Release: Miles Davis: Live in Munich - Pioneer Entertainment

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 7/29/03 - 1 PM PDT)

Columbia TriStar has officially announced the DVD release of Charlies Angels: Full Throttle for 10/21. The disc will be available in both rated and unrated versions (SRP $27.94 each). The unrated version will include additional scenes. Both discs will feature a "telestrator" commentary by director McG, which gives a play-by-play dissection of specific scenes, a Cameo-Graphy to test viewer’s knowledge of all of the A-list celebrity appearances, Pink’s music video, Feel Good Time, featuring William Orbit and more. We'll post art when it becomes available.

Speaking of Columbia TriStar, they've also announced Another Meltdown, Hollywood Homicide, The Man Without a Past, Cirque du Soleil: Alegria, Cirque du Soleil: Varekai, Cromwell, and Sanford and Son: The Complete Third Season for 10/7.

Here's the cover art for Hollywood Homicide, as well as the Rudy: Deluxe Edition (9/30) and Warner's 2-disc A Christmas Story: Special Edition (10/7 - in, say it, anamorphic widescreen!).

Hollywood HomicideRudy: Deluxe EditionA Christmas Story: Special Edition

The Beast from 20,000 FathomsLooney Tunes: Stranger Than FictionLooney Tunes: Reality Check

And yes, that is Warner's The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (10/21) and the final cover art for Looney Tunes: Stranger Than Fiction (10/28) and Looney Tunes: Reality Check (also 10/28). Most of these titles can be pre-ordered now from DVD Planet.

Back with more soon - stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 7/28/03 - 2:30 PM PDT)

Disney has revealed the details of their Finding Nemo: Collector's Edition DVD (SRP $29.99). Set to street on 11/4, the 2-disc DVD will include the Knick Knack Pixar short, anamorphic widescreen and full frame video, filmmakers' "visual commentary", deleted scenes and recording sessions, the Exploring the Reef featurette with Jean Michel Cousteau, the "Fisharades" game, character interviews, design galleries, Mr. Ray's Encyclopedia, a behind-the-scenes tour of Pixar, the Making Nemo documentary, "virtual aquarium" animation, The Art of Nemo production artwork galleries (narrated by the artists themselves), theatrical trailers, "Fishy Facts" trivia, a sneak peek at The Incredibles and more.

Finding Nemo: Collector's Edition

Thanks to Bits reader Kevin M. for the link. Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 7/28/03 - 12:30 PM PDT)

Welcome back from the weekend, folks. Unfortunately, we have some sad news to report today. As you may have already heard, Bob Hope passed away on Sunday at the ripe old age of 100. Hope was a legend in the entertainment industry if ever there was one and he'll be missed. We should also take a moment today to honor director John Schlesinger, best known for his Midnight Cowboy and Marathon Man, who died on Friday.

Now then, we start today with a new Rumor Mill post, which includes tidbits from our sources on X-Men 2, The Hulk, Firefly and My Darling Clementine. Do check it out.

And we're pleased today to present you with another new Classic Coming Attractions column from our own Barrie Maxwell. This time around, Barrie reviews no less than NINE recent classic film releases on DVD, including The Tenant, Don't Raise the Bridge, Lower the River, The Flight of the Phoenix, Brigham Young, The Long, Hot Summer, Le Mans, Is Paris Burning?, The Desperate Hours and The Mouse That Roared. Barrie also runs down all the latest announcements of upcoming classic releases, and his database (MS Word doc format) has been updated as well.

You'll be happy to know that Todd's working on a new Doogan's Views for later this week, and you'll even see more DVD reviews this week (gasp!).

Stay tuned... ;-)

7/25/03

Afternoon folks! As promised, in the interest of getting back on the review wagon, we've got a look at another DVD for you today. And it's a good one too - good enough that we decided to dust a little more of the cobwebs off Todd for the occasion. So enjoy his look at Columbia TriStar's awesome, 3-disc Black Hawk Down: Deluxe Edition. It's easily one of the best discs released this year. And watch for more new reviews next week.

Also today, we've got a look at the cover art for a pair of new titles... Universal's Babe: Widescreen Special Edition (9/23) and Miramax's Naqoyqatsi (10/14).

Babe: Widescreen Special EditionNaqoyqatsi

And there's one little bit of bad news on the Universal front today... Steven Spielberg's Duel has been postponed again. There's no word yet on a new street date, but we'll let you know when one is announced.

Have a great weekend and see you Monday!

7/24/03

Didn't we just say MGM was getting ready to announce their Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: Special Edition in The Rumor Mill the other day? Well they have. The 2-disc special edition will street on November 25th (SRP $29.98) and will include anamorphic widescreen video, a 32-page booklet with archival photos, a new documentary on the film with star Dick Van Dyke and more. For the kids, look for sing-alongs, read-alongs, interactive games and coloring pages. We'll post more details soon.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: Special EditionChitty Chitty Bang Bang: Special Editionht

Okay... very quickly this afternoon, we've got a trio of new upcoming DVD cover scans for you to enjoy: Wellspring's Russian Ark (9/9), Pioneer's The Who: The Kids Are Alright - Deluxe Edition (9/30) and MGM's City of Ghosts (10/28).

Russian ArkThe Who: The Kids Are AlrightCity of Ghosts

Now then... we've got the very latest details for all of you on our new book, The Digital Bits: Insider's Guide to DVD. All of the writing is done and it's currently in production at McGraw-Hill. Wanna know what you're gonna get for your money? Okay... here goes...

Click here to buy The Digital Bits: Insider's Guide to DVD!

Part I - Understanding DVD

We explain the DVD format in plain talk so that everyone can understand - what is it, how it works and what it all means. We tell you about the video and audio side of things, explain the features, talk about the advantages of widescreen aspect ratios (vs. full frame) and what anamorphic means, explain surround sound and audio formats, menus and authoring, the various packaging types - you name it. And all of this is written in a very user friendly way. The idea is that you could give this to your grandma and she'd get it. If you've ever read our Ultimate Guide to Anamorphic Widescreen DVD, you'll know exactly what to expect. And we throw in more than 60 graphics and screen shots from actual DVD to illustrate everything.

Part II - Building a Home Theater Made Simple

Here, we offer our advice on how to purchase home theater equipment - what features to look for and what are just bells and whistles. We talk about the different components of a home theater - the video display, the receiver, the DVD player, the speakers, cables... you name it. We also give you tips on the things you need to do with your equipment right out of the box, like video and audio calibration, and explain why those are important. And we break it all down based on three different budget levels, so you can build a good home theater and not sink your kids' college funds.

Part III - Inside the Alien Quadrilogy

We take a look at the hard work involved in putting together a great DVD special edition. Our friends at Twentieth Century Fox have allowed us to go behind-the-scenes on the making of their forthcoming, 9-disc Alien Quadrilogy special edition box set. We've done an extensive, in-depth interview with DVD producer Charles de Lauzirika, in which you'll learn about the process of producing, the exciting and never-before-seen extras included on the set, the participation of the actors, directors and other talent, and the creation of new special edition versions of the films. You'll also learn about the effort to reconstruct the original cut of Alien³, and the new special effects work that was required to finish deleted scenes for Alien, Alien³ and Alien: Resurrection. And that's just for starters. We also interview Alien director Ridley Scott, reveal interesting production facts and stats, take you behind-the-scenes on a typical audio commentary session with cast members and more. This section also features all-new, behind-the-scenes photos of the work and those involved.

Part IV - DVD Reviews

Now that you've got an idea of what goes into the making of a special edition on disc, we take an in-depth look at more than 125 great DVDs that we think deserve your attention. We break them all down in typically thoughtful Bits style, and in a whole variety of genres - THE must-have special editions, guy movies, DVDs for little kids, DVDs for big kids, comedies, scary movies, all-time classics, science fiction films, westerns and fantasy films, music titles, anime and even documentaries. We look at TV on DVD, great discs you might have missed and bad movies that make surprisingly good DVD special editions. And each review has cover art so you can identify them at your local video store.

Part V - The Future of DVD

Finally, we look at the future of digital home entertainment with the latest information on recordable DVD, broadband-enabled DVD players, the status of high-definition on disc (including both Blu-ray and HD-DVD), the alternative D-VHS format, trends in videogaming related to DVD and even the new SACD and DVD-Audio high-resolution audio formats. We'll offer our opinions on each new technology development and give you a sense of where all this is going in the future, so you can make smarter buying decisions now.

On top of all that, we'll cover a little of the history of the DVD format, and even toss in a glossary of common terms you're likely to encounter as you wade into the world of DVD and home theater, all explained in plain English. McGraw is still formatting the text, but we think it's gonna be well over 400 pages in all.

Not bad for $17.95 (even less on sale at Amazon and other retailers), huh? Todd and I have really worked hard to make this book as good as it can be - the perfect guide to help ANYONE, from the newest newbies to more experienced users, enjoy the DVD format to the fullest. If you've never picked up a DVD before in your life, this book will get you started. And with our DVD reviews and look at the production of Alien Quadrilogy, there's something for you longtime Bits readers as well.

We're really proud of this book, and we hope you'll all pick up a copy. The Digital Bits: Insider's Guide to DVD is packed, it's cheaper than a single disc and we think you'll really enjoy it. We'll post another update when the final page count and street date is confirmed (it's tentatively set for 9/1 at the moment, but that may shift a little as production continues). So thanks again for all your support, folks!

See you back here tomorrow (maybe even with a review or two)... ;-)

(LATE UPDATE - 7/23/03 - 3 PM PDT)

We're back today with a brand new column from our own Robert A. Harris. In this new column, Robert takes a look at the three-strip Technicolor process and films that used it, the films of actor Paul Newman, the quality of some recent DVD releases and more. We hope you enjoy it!

Also this afternoon, we'd like to take a moment to introduce our new Artist of the Month program here at The Digital Bits. With online advertising down, Sarah came up with the great idea of using our surplus banner rotation space to help promote the work of artists of all kinds! So each month, starting in August, we'll feature a new artist and expose their work to our vast audience of readers around the world, including a Who's-Who of Hollywood and entertainment industry readers. So if you're an artist interested in getting lots of eyeballs on your work, click here to learn more about the program and sign up!

Back tomorrow. Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 7/23/03 - 11 AM PDT)

Morning, folks! We're going to be posting a new column from our own Robert A. Harris in a couple of hours, but first we just had to kick in here with a look at fresh new Zatoichi artwork just in from our friends at Home Vision. As you may know, we're big fans of the Blind Swordsman here at The Bits, and these are a trio of great titles. So here's Zatoichi 9: Adventures of Zatoichi, Zatoichi 10: Zatoichi's Revenge and Zatoichi 11: Zatoichi and the Doomed Man, all due 8/19.

Zatoichi #9: Adventures of ZatoichiZatoichi #10: Zatoichi's RevengeZatoichi #11: Zatoichi and the Doomed Man

Around the site this morning, we've updated our mirror copy of Jim Taylor's Official DVD FAQ to its latest version, dated July 11th.

We've also got a couple of interesting bits of news this morning. First of all, the SACD format seems to be stepping up the attack on DVD-Audio. According to High Fidelity Review, the second-generation, SACD II format is set to be introduced later this year. This will be basically identical to current SACD, but will add enhanced video features like current DVD-Audio, and will also add even more robust copy-protection measures.

In addition, in a move to build on SACD's already impressive success, producers and hardware manufacturers have organized a semiformal cross-industry forum of music labels. This new SACD "forum" will work to create and promote more music releases on the format. Click here for more on this via The Hollywood Reporter.

And The Who's The Kids are Alright arrives on DVD on 9/30 from Pioneer, with restored image and both Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 audio. Two editions will be available - a single-disc standard edition and a two-disc Deluxe edition with lots of extras. Click here for more details from Billboard.com.

Finally, AOL/Time Warner has sold its disc replication business (a.k.a. WAMO or Warner Advanced Media Operations) to Canadian replication giant Cinram as part of a deal worth $1.05 billion. As part of the deal, Cinram will enter exclusive long term arrangements with Warner Bros, Warner Music and New Line to manufacture, print, package and distribute DVDs and CDs in North America and Europe. You can also read about the deal at CNN Money.

Back soon. Stay tuned...

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