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page updated: 3/3/04



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 2/24/04 - 2/2/04)


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2/24/04

Yeah, okay... despite being all tuckered out over yesterday's Bitsys Awards, we just couldn't leave you completely hanging today without a post. We've decided to check in with some cool upcoming DVD news.

First up, Columbia TriStar has announced the DVD release of Party of Five: The Complete First Season for May 4th. The 5-disc set will include all 22 episodes along with audio commentary with the cast and creators of the show, the 9-part Party of Five: A Family Album "making of" documentary, the Party of Five: A Look Back featurette and more. SRP is $49.95.

Also coming from the studio on May 4th is The Triplets of Belleville, which is nominated for two Academy Awards including Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song. The film will be presented in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include 5 featurettes (The Cartoon According to writer/director Sylvain Chomet, The Making-of The Triplets of Belleville, Opening Sequence, Restaurant Performance and Tuning the Wheel - some of which will feature optional commentary) along with the theatrical trailer.

In other news today, Warner Bros will release Torque on DVD on May 18th. Universal will release Law & Order: The Second Year on May 4th. And Paramount has officially confirmed that May 18th is the day to expect Star Trek: Voyager - Season Two on disc.

We have word in The Rumor Mill today about Fox's In America, and a number of awesome new special edition titles on the way from Warner Bros. Don't miss it.

Over at our MusicTAP site, Matt's got a report from a reader who has tried one of the new "DualDisc" music releases, which include both high-resolution DVD-Audio and standard CD versions of an album on the same disc. This is designed to emulate SACD hybrid discs which also feature both high-resolution and standard CD music on the same disc.

We've also kicked off a new Contest today that gives you all a chance to win copies of Buena Vista's Spy Kids 3-D on DVD. That will run until Saturday, February 28th, so get your entries in.

Finally today, here's the cover art for Triplets of Belleville, Party of Five and Torque, along with Universal's Win a Date with Tad Hamilton (4/20), and Fox's Cheaper by the Dozen (4/6) and Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete Sixth Season (5/25).

The Triplets of BellevilleParty of Five: The Complete First SeasonTorque

Win a Date with Tad HamiltonCheaper by the DozenBuffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete Sixth Season

Stay tuned...!

2/23/04

We're done! We've been wringing our hands for weeks over the nominees, we've polished up the virtual statues and at long last, the winners are in. Yes... The 5th Annual Digital Bits Bitsy Awards are here! We've been up all night tweaking the text, and we've got some very sore fingers and tired brains. But we think all the hard work was worth it. You may not always agree with our picks, but we think you'll find them fascinating as we honor the best and worst that the DVD format had to offer in 2003. And we hope you'll be exposed to some great titles that you might have overlooked last year as well.

Just FYI, as you may have noticed, traffic's a little high right now. So just be patient if you're trying to get to all the Bitsy goodness. It'll still be there tomorrow. ;-)

We, however, will not. We're going to take the day off tomorrow for some badly needed rest. So enjoy this year's awards, and we'll see you back here on Wednesday!

(LATE UPDATE - 2/20/04 - 3 PM PST)

Okay... we just want to remind you to check back in on Monday morning. Why you ask? Well... how about The 5th Annual Digital Bits Bitsy Awards? We'll announce our picks for the best DVDs of 2003, and take a look at both the good and bad the format had to offer. It's always a lot of fun, so don't miss it.

The 5th Annual Digital Bits Bitsy Awards

So as not to leave you without any DVD news this afternoon, we've got word that DreamWorks and Universal will release Win a Date with Tad Hamilton on April 20th (SRP $26.99). Extras will include a gag reel, deleted scenes and "outtakes featuring celebrity Paris Hilton". Kinda sad to think that's an actual selling point these days. It's funny... the guy who plays Tad Hamilton - Josh Duhamel (also on NBC's Las Vegas) - is actually from the same small town in North Dakota I'm from. I find it interesting because... you know... you can count on one hand the guys from North Dakota who work in Hollywood. Time to pass the rhubarb and/or lutefisk!

Anyway... a couple other bits of DVD news today. Record companies and movie studios are soon going to start putting FBI warning stickers on all CDs and DVDs, in yet another effort by the entertainment industry to scare their own customers. You can read all about that here.

Also today, a federal court has ruled in favor of the MPAA in their lawsuit against 321 Studios. The ruling means the company must stop selling their DVD copying software. You can read more on that here.

Okay... 'nuff for today. See you back here on Monday for all the award show fun! Have a great weekend!

(EARLY UPDATE - 2/20/04 - 12:01 AM PST)

Morning folks. I wanted to jump in early with a bit of interesting news from director Guillermo del Toro about the forthcoming DVD release(s) of the forthcoming Hellboy. In an interview over at Countingdown.com, del Toro reveals that the film will be released as a movie-only edition in August, and then as a fully-loaded 2 or 3-disc special edition in December. The SE will also include a longer version of the film, as well as "a special box with a bust of Hellboy with the gun." Nice. Here's to hoping the flick rocks. Cudos to Bits reader Imran H. for the spot and link.

Tune in later for more. Same Bat channel...

2/19/04

Afternoon, folks! We've got a few new goodies for you to check out today, so we'll get to that in a minute. But first, we're pleased to learn that our new DVD book, The Digital Bits: Insider's Guide to DVD, has gotten some nice recognition in the press. If you're a big movie-goer north of the border, you'll know all about Tribute magazine. It's a movie magazine that's distributed in many movie theaters in Canada. In the publication's Oscar issue (the February issue), The A-List column has recommended our book. Here's a look at the cover of the issue, and the actual mention in the column:

Tribute magazineOur book in Tribute magazine!

Thanks very much to the folks at Tribute, and to Bits reader Dan C. for letting us know about it!

By the way, if you've purchased our book, thank you! Every book that sells helps fund this website, so we really appreciate your support. Second, if you've found the book worthwhile, we'd appreciate it if you'd give it a review on Amazon.com and particularly Amazon.co.uk (there are almost 40 reviews at Amazon, but only 1 at Amazon.co.uk). We're not exactly getting Oprah Show-style promotion - it's word of mouth that means everything. So if you like the book, please spread the word!

Now then... we're pleased to bring you another Bottom Shelf column from our own Adam Jahnke. This time around, Adam takes a look at short-lived TV shows that deserve their moment in the DVD sun. He also reviews Warner's recent The Ben Stiller Show.

Rob Hale has checked in today with new DVD reviews as well. He's taken a look at a pair of films from director Hal Hartly, now on disc from Columbia TriStar - Amateur and Henry Fool.

Finally, we've got a new DVD-Audio review from our MusicTAP crew - Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac Live at the BBC (newly released by Silverline).

Speaking of TAP, Matt wanted me to let you know that it might be a couple of days before he makes another post. He unfortunately got hit with a nasty new virus that's wreaking havoc on his computer. So wish him luck as be gears up to do battle with his digital dragons.

One last thing for you TV DVD fans today. Here's the cover art for Universal's Quantum Leap: The Complete First Season (6/8), along with Warner's Babylon 5: The Complete Fifth Season (4/13) and Columbia TriStar's Charlie's Angels: The Complete Second Season (4/6)...

Quantum Leap: The Complete First SeasonBabylon 5: The Complete Fifth SeasonCharlie's Angels: The Complete Second Season

Back with more tomorrow. Stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 2/18/04 - 2 PM PST)

We've just confirmed that those Return of the King DVD images we posted earlier this afternoon are indeed the real deal. There's a pop-up on this page over at the official Lord of the Rings website, which indicates that an announcement is going to be made about the DVD release on March 8th. There's also a slightly larger version of the image below.

And here's another Rumor Mill-worthy bit of info. The Force.net has gotten wind that Lucasfilm's French press release for the Star Wars Trilogy DVDs says the set will include "exclusive cut scenes." Also, actress Carrie Fisher was apparently on U.K. TV yesterday, and reportedly confirmed that she's going to be doing audio commentary for the release. With any luck, Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford will chime in as well.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 2/18/04 - 12:30 PM PST)

We've got a bunch of cool new title announcements for you today, so let's get to it!

HBO has announced the DVD release of Six Feet Under: The Complete Second Season for 6/8 (SRP $99.98). The 13 episodes will be presented in their full frame aspect ratio, with audio in English, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0. Extras will include audio commentary on 5 episodes with the cast and crew, the Anatomy of a Stiff documentary and more.

Columbia TriStar has also announced the DVD release of Tim Burton's Big Fish for 4/27 (SRP $28.95). The film will be presented in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include audio commentary with director Tim Burton, 3 "character journey" featurettes (Edward Bloom at Large, Amos at the Circus, and Fathers and Sons), 4 "filmmakers' path" featurettes (Tim Burton: The Storyteller, A Fairytale World, Creature Features, and The Author's Journey), an interactive trivia quiz and bonus trailers.

Also streeting on 4/27 from the studio are The Statement, Like Father, Like Son and Vice Versa.

Oh... we're not done yet. Universal has announced the DVD release of its recent, live-action Peter Pan remake for May 4th (SRP is $26.98). The video will be in anamorphic widescreen (a separate full frame version will also be available) with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include alternate endings, deleted scenes, outtakes and more.

Any Northern Exposure fans out there? Good, 'cause Universal's bowing Northern Exposure: The Complete First Season to DVD on 5/25. Extras will include deleted scenes, a documentary, "mock movie" footage and "unexposed" footage. You'll also get some pretty interesting, "zippered" packaging.

Universal is also officially releasing Quantum Leap: The Complete First Season on DVD on June 8th (SRP $59.98). Click here to see the title listed on the studio's consumer video website.

Here's a bunch of cover art for you, 'cause we know how much you all like that. We've got Big Fish, Northern Exposure, Six Feet Under and Peter Pan, as well as Universal's Love Actually (4/27) and Zatoichi in Desperation (now available from AnimEigo).

Big FishNorthern Exposure: The Complete First SeasonSix Feet Under: The Complete Second Season

Love ActuallyPeter PanZatoichi in Desperation

This would normally go in The Rumor Mill, so all disclaimers apply. But TheOneRing.net posted cover artwork the other day - that they claim came from the official Lord of the Rings website - which seems to show the full frame and anamorphic widescreen versions of The Return of the King (theatrical edition), as well as the VHS version. We can't find it over there, so while this looks like the real deal, we'll have to wait until New Line announces the title to be sure.

Return of the King cover art?Toy Fair 2004 sign

On another Rumor Mill-worthy Rings note, the Galactic Hunter website (a Star Wars toy collecting site) has posted an image that's been circulating around the net (see above left). It's a Rings tie-in promotion sign from this year's Toy Fair. Of note on the sign is notice that The Lord of the Rings DVD Trilogy is coming in 2005. This likely means a box set of all three extended editions, along with some new material (rumored to be a bonus disc of additional deleted scenes that weren't restored to the films for the longer versions). A box set release is logical and should come as no surprise to anyone, but again nothing is official until New Line announces it.

Finally today, we're pleased to present the complete transcript of that live chat with Lee Kline of The Criterion Collection that was held on the HTF on Monday night. There's some new title announcements in there (including word that Stray Dog, Tin Drum, Testament of Dr Mabuse, The Leopard, Mamma Roma, Smiles of a Summer Night and A Woman is a Woman are all coming this summer), as well as updates on a lot of great titles that are in various stages of production. Thanks to Ron Epstein and his crew for sending it over.

We'll be back tomorrow with another new column from our own Adam Jahnke, as well as a few new DVD reviews. And just to let everyone know, The 5th Annual Bitsy Awards will be held on Monday. We're just polishing up the statues now, and... you know... writing that lame banter for our presenters. ;-)

Stay tuned...

2/17/04

We've got another great Classic Coming Attractions column for you today, from our own Barrie Maxwell! We know how much a lot of you have come to enjoy Barrie's column, and we're proud to feature it here at The Bits. In this edition, Barrie takes an in-depth look at the long history of famous sleuths on film, including the likes of Sherlock Holmes and Charlie Chan. As always, he also looks ahead and runs down the latest classic DVD release announcements. So enjoy Sherlock Holmes and Other Detectives!

If this is your first day back after the long President's Day weekend, be sure to check out yesterday's post as well, which included a big Upcoming DVD Cover Art update and lots of new DVD news too.

Speaking of cover art, we've got word that the cover for Warner's The Last Samurai is going to be changing, so we'll post the revised art later this week. In the meantime, here's a look at Paramount's Star Trek: Voyager - Season Two (5/18 - tentative), Warner's Marx Brothers Collection (5/4), and HBO's Angels in America (6/1).

Star Trek: Voyager - Season TwoMarx Brothers CollectionAngels in America

Okay... now while you guys are catching up at the office, I'm off to the dentist. So have a great day (or at least a better one than me, which shouldn't be all that hard).

Stay tuned.

2/16/04

Well... most of you probably have today off, at least here in the States. But we're busting out a post anyway, for the rest of you poor bastards who are stuck in the office today. Don't say we never do anything fer ya. ;-)

First up today, we've added more than 80 new cover scans in the Upcoming DVD Cover Art section. There's some great stuff, including titles you might not have seen before - so many we can't begin to list them all. Special thanks to Bits reader Johnnie Young for his continued assistance in gathering the artwork.

Now then... let's hit some news. MGM has informed us that the transfers of two of their new Bergman titles were formatted at the wrong aspect ratio, so the discs have been recalled. Hour of the Wolf and Shame will be re-released on 4/20 in the correct ratio. The Ingmar Bergman DVD Collection has also been pulled and will be re-released on that date as well. Here's the studio's official statement:

It has come to our attention that the transfers utilized for the release of Ingmar Bergman's Hour of the Wolf: Special Edition DVD and Shame: Special Edition DVD are not representative of the intended theatrical presentation. In order to provide customers with the best quality product available, we are recalling the product at retail and will be releasing both films in a 1:37:1 aspect ratio on April 20, 2004. The Ingmar Bergman DVD Collection will also be available on that date. MGM Home Entertainment always strives to provide the highest standard of product and customer care. For additional information or comments, please contact our customer service at 877-646-4968.

We've also gotten word today that Paramount has moved up the street date on Timeline. It had tentatively been set for 4/27, but now look for it on 4/13. Also, we've got word that the studio is highlighting some great Western-themed titles in May. On 5/11, look for Have Gun Will Travel: The Complete First Season (6 discs, 39 episodes), Posse (Kirk Douglas, Bruce Dern), Rustler's Rhapsody, The Tin Star, Gunsmoke: Return to Dodge, Gunsmoke: The Last Apache and Gunsmoke: To the Last Man.

AnimEigo has just made more of their Samurai Cinema titles available for sale exclusively on their website (SRP $25.48 each), including Zatoichi in Desperation, Lady Snowblood, Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril and Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades. They'll be available on Amazon and at your local video store later this year.

This next bit would normally go in The Rumor Mill, but just for ease of posting, it's going here today. The boys over at Ain't it Cool News have word that MGM is going to be releasing Bubba Ho-Tep on 5/25. Word is that the extras will include an audio commentary with Bruce Campbell in character as Elvis. Nice. Too bad the film wasn't a little better.

Around the site today, we've updated all of the format stats we track, including the CEA DVD Player Sales numbers (which includes the complete sales figures for January), the DVD title sales and rental data and the AFI Top 100 Films on DVD list.

We also wanted to call your attention to our latest Artist of the Month - Matt Wolf! Matt does some great comic book art and other illustrations, so be sure to check 'em out.

Finally today, we've kicked off a pair of new Contests, which give you all a chance to win copies of Rhino's H.R. Pufnstuf as well as Warner's NBA Street Series: Dunks! Volume 1 and NBA Street Series: Ankle Breakers Volume 1 on DVD. You have until Saturday to enter, so get your entries in!

Don't forget, the Home Theater Forum is holding a live chat with Lee Kline, the Technical Director for The Criterion Collection, at 6 PM PST tonight (9 PM EST). Click here for all the details.

Stay tuned...

2/13/04

We've got a little something for you Star Trek fans today. I've given Paramount's new Star Trek: Voyager - Season One DVD a look. The DVD streets on 2/24.

Also today, we've got information on a number of Chris Carter TV series coming to DVD, including word on the final X-Files DVD release. You'll find that in The Rumor Mill. There's also word on when we might expect another great Fox SciFi series on DVD - Space Above and Beyond - so don't miss it.

Finally, Warner Bros. has officially announced the DVD release of Smallville: The Complete Second Season for May 25th (SRP $59.98). The 6-disc set will include all episodes in anamorphic widescreen video, with Dolby Digital 2.0 surround audio. Extras will include deleted scenes and audio commentary on several episodes, behind-the-scenes featurettes (including The Chloe Chronicles, Faster Than a Speeding Bullet: The Visual FX of Smallville and Christopher Reeve: Man of Steel) as well as a gag reel. Here's the cover artwork:

Smallville: The Complete Second Season

Now then... that's all for this week. We've got a LOT of stuff coming for next week, including a new column from Barrie Maxwell, another big Upcoming DVD Cover Art update, several new DVD reviews... AND (if all goes well)... The 5th Annual Digital Bits Bitsy Awards!

Have a great Valentine's Day weekend, and we'll see you back here on Monday.

2/12/04

You wanted my thoughts on the Star Wars thing. You've got 'em. If you've been following the whole saga of these films on DVD here at The Bits over the years, you'll probably want to check it out. That is, unless you're sick of the whole thing already. ;-)

Just a quick bit of news this afternoon - our friends at the Home Theater Forum are going to be holding a live chat with Lee Kline, who works as the Technical Director for The Criterion Collection. That's this coming Monday, February 16th, at 6 PM PST (9 PM EST). Click here for all the details.

Back tomorrow. Stay tuned...

2/11/04

Afternoon, folks. We've got another big DVD announcement for you today, which is that Warner has revealed the DVD release of The Last Samurai for May 4th. The disc will be released in separate anamorphic widescreen and full frame editions, both of which will feature Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include audio commentary by director Ed Zwick, deleted scenes, the History vs. Hollywood: The Last Samurai History Channel documentary, the Edward Zwick: Director's Video Journal (narrated by Zwick and Tom Cruise), multiple featurettes (including Tom Cruise: A Warrior's Journey, A World of Detail: Production Design with Lilly Kilvert, Silk and Armor: Costume Design with Ngila Dickson, Imperial Army Basic Training: From Soldier to Samurai - The Weapons and Making an Epic: A Conversation with Edward Zwick), footage from the Tokyo & Kyoto premieres, DVD-ROM features and more.

Here's the cover art for Last Samuari, along with art for Buena Vista's Bad Santa (6/22), The Haunted Mansion (4/20) and ESPN Playmakers (4/20), as well as Columbia TriStar's Eating Raoul (4/13) and A League of Their Own: Special Edition (4/20).

The Last SamuraiBad SantaHaunted Mansion

Eating RaoulA League of Their Own: Special EditionESPN Playmakers

Now then... predictably, we've been getting a TON of e-mails about yesterday's Star Wars DVD announcement. I'm talking many, many hundreds of messages. A lot of people are furious about the lack of the original theatrical versions, many feel ambivalent about the SE versions and many more have unanswered questions about the release. It seems everyone has an opinion, and a lot of you have asked what my opinion is about the release. Well... I've been doing some research, and looking back over the long and arduous history of this title in relation to DVD. So tune in tomorrow, because I'll tell you exactly what I think... not just about this release, but what I think is coming next as well.

In the meantime, there's no shortage of interesting stories on this subject on the Net today, including a story I was interviewed for at The Boston Globe, as well as another interesting roundtable discussion on the DVDs at Ain't it Cool News.

Until tomorrow, stay tuned...

(LATER UPDATE - 2/10/04 - 10:30 AM PST)

Okay, I've just spoken with Lucasfilm's Vice President of Marketing and Distribution, Jim Ward, and I can confirm some details about the Region 1 DVD release of the Star Wars films, which will arrive in stores on September 21st. What follows is everything that's specifically set as of this time.

The release will be a 4-disc set, encompassing 3 movie discs and a 4th bonus disc of supplemental material. All three films will be digitally-remastered and THX-certified, and will be available in anamorphic widescreen video (there MAY also be a separate full frame edition, but this is still TBD). The audio for the films will be English Dolby Digital 5.1 (they may also be EX, although again this is still TBD), with subtitles in English, French and Spanish. The films will also be closed-captioned. Each film will include new audio commentary with creator George Lucas, along with various members of the cast and crew (the specific participants will be announced at a later date). The highlight of the bonus disc will be an all-new, feature-length documentary about the making of the films, which will include never-before-seen footage and other material. There may also be DVD-ROM weblinks to the official Star Wars website (TBD). There WILL be additional supplemental features, which will be announced at a later date. The films will only be available as a box set, the retail price for which has yet to be decided (despite reports to the contrary). I have officially confirmed that the films will be the 1997 Special Edition versions, as determined by Lucas himself. You should also know that, as with the Indiana Jones DVDs, the folks at Lowry Digital are once again involved in the remastering process. They're doing digital restoration and clean-up work on the new masters.

So there you have it. We expect cover art to be available in the months ahead, as the packaging is finalized. We'll keep you up to date on all the bonus material details as soon as they become available.

Also today, we're pleased to be able to bring you Todd's review of AnimEigo's hot-off-the-presses Zatoichi: The Festival of Fire DVD. So we now have reviews of every Ichi film that's currently available on DVD (you can find the complete list here).

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 2/10/04 - 8:30 AM PST)

Just so you don't think it's all Star Wars around here today, we've got three new pieces of cover art for you to check out. Here's Fox's Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (4/20), Buena Vista's Calendar Girls (5/4) and Paramount's Timeline (4/27)...

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the WorldCalendar GirlsTimeline

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 2/10/04 - 7 AM PST)

The Star Wars Trilogy on DVD 9/21/04

Hey, what do you know?! Lucasfilm FINALLY went ahead and did it! Just as we'd been hearing from our sources in the last few weeks, The Star Wars Trilogy was officially announced this morning for release on DVD on 9/21. And as we've been saying in The Rumor Mill since last September, it's going to be a 4-disc set of all 3 films - one per disc - plus a 4th disc of all new bonus material, which will include an newly-produced documentary on the making of the films.

That's the good news. The bad news is that the press release was pretty short on details - things like specific disc specs (other than that the films will be THX-certified, will have Dolby Digital 5.1 EX audio, and will only be available as a set). There's no list of the supplemental materials, no cover art and (most importantly) no official word on which version of the films will be released on the discs - the original theatrical versions, the 90s special editions or the ultimate "archive" editions. But we'll have more on that in a minute. Here's the exact text of the press release so you can all read it yourselves:

The Star Wars Trilogy on DVD
February 10, 2004

The most requested films for the DVD format will finally become a reality this September as Lucasfilm Ltd. and Twentieth Century Fox present the eagerly-awaited Star Wars Trilogy for the ultimate home entertainment format. The four-disc collection will be released on September 21 in the U.S. and Canada, with international release dates following closely.

"We know how long fans have waited for this release and how much they have been looking forward to it, so everyone has been working overtime to make sure that the Star Wars Trilogy on DVD is an awesome experience," said Jim Ward, Vice President of Marketing and Distribution for Lucasfilm Ltd. and the DVD collection's Executive Producer.

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and Episode VI: Return of the Jedi will be available in a four-disc set that includes a bonus disc filled with all-new special features -- including the most comprehensive feature-length documentary ever produced about the Star Wars saga and never-before-seen footage from the making of all three films. Each of the three films in the Star Wars Trilogy has been digitally restored and re-mastered by THX for superior sound and picture quality.

"First and foremost, the DVDs will deliver the very best possible sound and picture and take advantage of everything the medium can offer. On top of that, we are creating added-value material that gets inside the creation of the Star Wars films in a fresh and fun way," Ward said. "We want watching this DVD collection to be as memorable as seeing the movies for the first time."

The films of the Star Wars Trilogy will be available exclusively as a collection and will feature Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX. All three films are closed-captioned and subtitled in English, French and Spanish in the U.S. Internationally, sound and subtitling specifications will vary by territory.

Keep checking starwars.com over the coming months for more specific details about the content of this must-own DVD set.


Click here to see the announcement on the official Star Wars website.

Now then, Variety has posted a quick story on the announcement, which includes a few more details (although until it comes straight from Lucasfilm, it's not official). According to the story, the DVDs will feature new audio commentary tracks with members of the cast and crew, including George Lucas. The story also says that the films will be "special edition versions" (although what that means exactly has yet to be determined) and that the original theatrical versions of the films will NOT be included (which is pretty much what we expected). Finally, word is the set will be priced around $50.

As you can imagine, we'll be watching this story pretty closely. We'll bring you all the details as they come in. Tell you this much... these DVDs had darn well BETTER be worth the seven year wait. We wanna see some deleted scenes, flyboy.

See? And I'll bet some of you guys thought we were pulling your leg again with all these Star Wars DVD rumors!

Stay tuned...

(LATER UPDATE - 2/9/04 - 5 PM PST)

Okay... we've got one last update for you today, with word on some new 20th Century Fox DVD announcements.

Fox will release Stuck on You on 4/27 (SRP $27.98), in both full frame and anamorphic widescreen versions with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include audio commentary with Peter and Bobby Farrelly, 3 behind-the-scenes featurettes (including It's Funny: The Farrelly Formula, Bringing Stuck on You to the Screen and The Makeup Effects of Stuck on You), 8 deleted scenes, a blooper reel, the film's teaser and theatrical trailers, and promo trailers for Man on Fire and Day After Tomorrow.

The studio will also release Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World on 4/20 (SRP $29.98), also in seperate anamophic widescreen and full frame versions with Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 audio. The following extras have been announced for Region 2, so it's reasonable to assume they'll be on the R1 disc as well: the The Hundred Days, Peter Weir on Directing, Sound Design and Canon Sound: Interactive Sound Recording featurettes, the Cinematic Phasmids: Special Effects documentary, an HBO First Look special, The Last Battle multi–angle studies, camera setups and split screen vignette, still galleries, and bonus trailers for Man on Fire, Day After Tomorrow and I Robot. We'll confirm the R1 extras when the info comes in from the studio.

Also, you Buffy fans can look forward to Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete Sixth Season on 5/25 ($59.98). The 6-disc set will include all episodes in full frame format with Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround audio. Extras will include audio commentaries on select episodes (by Joss Whedon, Marti Nixon, David Fury, Drew Z. Greenberg, David Soloman, Rebecca Rand Kirshner, Rick Rosenthal, Diego Gutierrez and James Contner), behind-the-scenes featurettes, Easter eggs, outtakes, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences panel discussion, 3 music videos (I've got a Theory/Bunnies/We're Together, I'll Never Tell and Walk Through the Fire), an interactive game trailer and DVD-ROM material.

Okay... that's it for today. Check back tomorrow morning, and maybe we'll have some Star Wars news. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 2/9/04 - 1:30 PM PST)

We've got some more new DVD announcements to report this afternoon. First up, Columbia TriStar will release Tube, Wild Things (Unrated), Wild Things 2, a Wild Things/Wild Things 2 2-pack, A League of Their Own: Special Edition and King of Queens: Season Two on 4/20.

Paramount has announced the DVD release of Timeline for 4/27 in both full frame and anamorphic widescreen editions. Extras will include the Making Their Own History, The Knights of La Roque and Setting Time featurettes and more.

HBO has set their epic, 6-hour Angels in America for DVD release as a 2-disc set on 6/1 (SRP $39.98).

James Cameron's Ghosts of the Abyss (4/27) will include the original 62-minute version, along with an extended 92-minute version, and a multi-angle exploration of the Titanic shipwreck.

Buena Vista will also release ESPN's Playmakers: The Complete First Season on 4/20.

Blue Underground is working on David Cronenberg's Fast Company for 4/27.

20th Century Fox has set As Young as You Feel, Let's Make it Legal, Love Nest and We're Not Married for 4/20.

Finally, Warner Bros and the BBC will release The Office: Season Two on 4/20.

And around the site this morning, we've kicked off a 3 of new Contests, giving you a chance to win copies of Xena: Season Three, The Lion King 1 ½, Capturing the Friedmans and American Splendor. You have until Saturday, February 14th to enter.

Be sure to check back tomorrow to see if Lucasfilm finally announces Star Wars on DVD. Stay tuned!

(EARLY UPDATE - 2/9/04 - 12:01 AM PST)

We've got more information for you today on upcoming Buena Vista and Disney DVD releases for 2004, including word on extras (these titles are in addition to Calendar Girls, Bad Santa and Aladdin, which we've already mentioned). Let's run 'em down.

The Haunted Mansion (4/20) will be available in separate anamorphic widescreen and full frame versions, and will include a virtual tour of the mansion, bloopers, a deleted scene, the Superstition music video, production featurettes and more.

The Osbournes 2 ½ (5/4) will be a 2-disc set of the second half of Season 2. Extras will include a never-before-seen "Lost 200th episode" (unaired on MTV), censored and uncensored audio tracks, interactive games and more.

Spider-Man: The '67 Classic Collection (6/29) is a 6-disc set that includes all 52 episodes of the classic animated TV series, fully restored for DVD. Nice.

Spider-Man vs. Doc Ock (6/29) in a new animated feature release. The DVD includes a classic 1967 episode featuring Doc Ock, an introduction by Stan Lee, Stan Lee's Soapbox, and a preview of the upcoming Spider-Man: The Venom Saga.

Felicity: Season 3 (7/20) includes 17 episodes on 5 discs, plus audio commentaries, outtakes, behind-the-scenes featurettes, a "where are they now" retrospective and more.

Popular: Season 1 (7/20) is a 6-disc set of all the first season episodes, also including audio commentaries, outtakes, behind-the-scenes featurettes, a "where are they now" retrospective and more.

The Three Musketeers (8/17) is a new animated musical adventure starring Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy. Extras will include interactive games, song selection, featurettes and more.

Boy Meets World: Season 1 (8/24) will include all the first season episodes, plus audio commentaries, outtakes, behind-the-scenes featurettes, a "where are they now" retrospective and more.

The Lion King II: Simba's Pride - Special Edition (8/21) is a new 2-disc special edition of the previously released, direct-to-video sequel. Extras will include all the usual games and interactive features for the kids and a new short from the makers of The Lion King called One by One.

Finally, Alias: Season 3 (9/7) will be a 6-disc set including all 22 third season episodes, along with the Burbank to Barcelona production design featurette, deleted scenes, outtakes, a look at the creation of the show's gadgets, a "script scanner", audio commentaries (including one featuring the "biggest Alias fan" - oh joy - who will be chosen in a contest), The Alias Diaries featuring the craftsmen and technicians who work on the show and more.

In terms of catalog releases, we should also let you know that the original Freaky Friday and Ernest Goes to School are on the way for June, The One and Only Genuine Family Band, The Three Lives of Thomasina and The Ugly Dachsund are coming in July, Darby O'Gill and the Little People, The Shaggy Dog, The Black Hole and Dr. Syn, Alias the Scarecrow will follow in August, and The Island at the Top of the World (a big fave of mine when I was a kid), Tex and The Christmas Star will round things out in September.

Also today, we've got a possible spec list in The Rumor Mill for the R2 theatrical version release of New Line's Return of the King, based on what may be the R2 cover artwork. Don't miss it.

Back with more later. Stay tuned...

2/6/04

Well... the big news today is that Buena Vista has officially announced the DVD release of the Aladdin: Platinum Edition for October 5th. The 2-disc special edition DVD will retail for $29.99 (SRP). Extras will include the deleted song Proud of Your Boy (by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken) featuring newly produced animation, 2 audio commentaries, a virtual carpet ride, a 3-D tour of the Genie's lamp, interactive games, a "pop-up" trivia track, musical postcards, sing-along songs, the A Whole New World music video (featuring Disney Channel stars) and more. We expect to have cover artwork next week. Here's an interesting passage from the Variety article:

"The 1992 film, which has been off the market entirely for 10 years, has been newly restored for its inaugural digital presentation and 5.1 surround sound and enhanced home theater sound mix. To accommodate the sharper DVD image quality, more than 20% of the original artwork has been enhanced, with some characters redrawn to add more facial detail, and background colors in many scenes touched up for color and for detail. Stars in the sky presented perhaps the biggest challenge, with a total of 92 star scenes reworked to be more believable on the TV screen."

One thing's for sure - there's no shortage of big DVD announcements at the moment. Aladdin today, Star Wars likely on Tuesday, all the recent Warner animated releases. 2004 might end up being the most expensive year for DVD fans ever. Seems like we say that every year, and every year it turns out to be true!

Speaking of big titles soon to be announced, we have word in The Rumor Mill today of a street date for Return of the King, along with additional information. Don't miss it.

Around the site today, we've posted 6 new Zatoichi DVD reviews for you to check out, including Zatoichi and the Chest of Gold, Zatoichi's Flashing Sword, Fight, Zatoichi, Fight, Adventures of Zatoichi, Zatoichi's Revenge and Zatoichi at Large. While we're on this note, Miramax has just released the trailer for the new Beat Takashi Zatoichi remake, which is due in theaters here in the States this summer. Very cool! Yeah... we do like our favorite blind swordsman here at The Bits, we surely do.

Finally, our MusicTAP affiliate has a new DVD-Audio review for you today - T. Rex's Electric Warrior.

And that's all she wrote. I'd say it's been a pretty good week here at The Bits! An interview, a feature story, some reviews, an artwork update and a BUNCH of great news and Rumor Mill items. Not too shabby.

Have a great weekend, folks! And get your lightsabers humming, 'cause next week might see a pretty serious disturbance in the Force.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 2/5/04 - 6 PM PST)

Okay... we've just updated the Upcoming DVD Cover Artwork section with more than 50 new cover scans. And this is just the first of several such updates - we'll have more next week (over 150 more covers still to post!). Our plan is to update this section once a week, so we'll see how this works out.

Also this evening, we have a couple of new announcements. Buena Vista will release Bad Santa on June 22nd (SRP $29.99) in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include deleted scenes, a behind-the-scenes featurette, outtakes and bloopers, a special tribute to John Ritter and more.

Also on the way from the studio is Calendar Girls on May 4th (SRP $29.99), also in anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras include The Naked Truth documentary, deleted scenes and a behind-the-scenes featurette.

Back tomorrow!

(EARLY UPDATE - 2/5/04 - 3 PM PST)

Howdy, kids! There's some news and rumors floating around this afternoon that we wanted to jump in here to post ASAP.

First up, Warner Bros. has announced the DVD release of the Samurai Jack: Season One - Collector's Series on 5/4 (SRP $29.98). The 2-disc set will include all 13 episodes in their original full frame aspect ratio with Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround audio in English, French and Spanish. No word yet on extras if any. Here's the cover art:

Samurai Jack: Season One - Collector's Series

Next up, Criterion has just announced a pair of new DVD releases for April, as well as a re-issue of a previously available title. On April 20th, look for Robert Altman's 3 Women (SRP $39.95 - Cat # 230) in anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 1.0 mono audio, audio commentary by the director, a photo gallery and the theatrical trailer. Next up is Yasujiro Ozu's A Story of Floating Weeds/Floating Weeds (SRP $39.95 - Cat #232) both in their original full frame with Dolby Digital 1.0 mono audio, audio commentary by Japanese film historian Donald Richie (on A Story of Floating Weeds) and another with film critic Roger Ebert (on Floating Weeds), a new score by silent-film composer Donald Sosin (also on Floating Weeds), and a theatrical trailer. Finally, April 20th will also see the re-issue of Stanley Donen's Charade (SRP $39.95 - Cat #75) with all the same extras as before. However, this new version will feature a new anamorphic widescreen transfer (the original release - still available on Amazon - was letterbox widescreen only). Here's the cover art for those:

3 Women (Criterion)A Story of Floating Weeds/Floating Weeds (Criterion)Charade (Criterion)

And now we get to the big one today... we've got word on when Star Wars is going be announced for DVD release. If it's true, a September DVD release will be official before the end of next week. We've got that for you in The Rumor Mill today. I'm just guessing most of you don't want to miss it. ;-)

So there you go. Back in an hour or two with that Upcoming DVD Cover Art update. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 2/4/04 - 4 PM PST)

Yes, it's true... Universal has announced the DVD release of Love Actually on April 27th (SRP $26.98), in both anamorphic widescreen and full frame versions. Special features will include audio commentary with director Richard Curtis and some of the cast, deleted scenes, The Music of Love Actually featurette and (as they say) more. We'll post cover art as soon as it comes in.

As we mentioned this morning, we have that new special feature for you this afternoon. Matt Rowe (who runs our MusicTAP affiliate) and I have been wading through the wild and wonderful world of satellite radio for a few months now. We even did a little investigating at CES on the subject, in between all those HD-DVD and SACD happenings. So we're pleased to bring you the result: Are You Sirius? A Look at Satellite Radio. It should give you a pretty good idea of how a subscription satellite radio service works, and what the average experience with the technology is like. So enjoy!

Are You Sirius? A Look at Satellite Radio

Back tomorrow with that long-overdue Upcoming DVD Cover Art update. No really, we're not kidding! ;-)

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 2/4/04 - 12:01 AM PST)

Okay... we have a couple of new announcements for you this morning. First of all, Warner Bros. has officially announced the DVD release of The West Wing: The Complete Second Season for May 18th (SRP $59.98). The 4-disc set will include all the episodes in full anamorphic widescreen video (the second season was when the production began post-producing the show in widescreen for HD broadcast) along with audio in English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround (with subs in English, French and Spanish). Extras will include audio commentary with the producers, directors, writers and cast members on 4 episodes, deleted scenes, the Correspondent's Dinner documentary, the Constructing Two Cathedrals featurette (with Aaron Sorkin, Tommy Schlamme, Martin Sheen and others), the Access Granted featurette, the Gag Order gag reel and more. NICE. Here's the cover art... along with Universal's Gray Lady Down (5/25) and HBO's And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself (5/11)...

The West Wing: The Complete Second SeasonGray Lady DownAnd Starring Pancho Villa as Himself

In other news, Columbia TriStar has announced the DVD release of Eating Raoul, She's Out of Control, Velocity of Gary, Booty Call: The Bootiest Edition and Tokyo Godfathers. All are expected to street on April 13th.

And Universal has announced a whole new slate of catalog titles for June. On June 1st, look for Albuquerque, No Name on the Bullet, The Plainsman, The Spoilers, War Arrow, When the Daltons Rode, Whispering Smith, Coogan's Bluff and Breezy (all SRP $14.98 each). Also coming on that date for an SRP of $19.98 is The Adventures of Francis the Mule: Volume 1 (which includes Francis the Talking Mule, Francis Goes to the Races, Francis Goes to West Point and Francis Covers the Big Town).

We've also got a little more information on a few of those May 4th Universal titles we mentioned last week. The Best of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello: Volume 2 (SRP $24.98) will include Hit the Ice, In Society, Here Come the Co-Eds, The Naughty Nineties, Little Giant, The Time of Their Lives, Buck Privates Come Home, The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap and Abbott and Costello Meet Jerry Seinfeld. On the Road with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby (SRP $24.98) will include Road to Singapore, Road to Zanzibar, Road to Morocco and Road to Utopia. Finally, the The Adventures of Ma and Pa Kettle: Volume 2 (SRP $19.98) will include Ma and Pa Kettle at the Fair, Ma and Pa Kettle on Vacation, Ma and Pa Kettle at Home and Ma and Pa Kettle at Waikiki.

That's it for now. If you missed it yesterday, be sure to check out Adam Jahnke's interview with director Francis Ford Coppola. Just to let you know, we've got another special feature coming for you this afternoon, so fill up your coffee cups and stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 2/3/04 - 4 PM PST)

We've got one last update for you today, and it's a pretty decent one if we do say so ourselves. Our own Adam Jahnke just had the good fortune to conduct a new interview with director Francis Ford Coppola about the DVD release of his One from the Heart from Zoetrope and Fantoma. We think you'll enjoy it.

Director Francis Ford Coppola on One from the Heart

And when you're finished with that, don't forget to check out Adam's review of the DVD as well.

Finally today, we have one last bit of news for you. We've just heard from our friends over at Spacecraft Films about the next pair of NASA Archives DVD releases they're working on with 20th Century Fox. On April 13th, look for the following:

Apollo 15: Man Must Explore - a 6-disc set with the complete television transmissions, on-board film, footage from training, suit-up, rollout, multi-angle launch, recovery, features over 21 hours of material from the first lunar mission to carry a rover.

The Mighty Saturns: The Saturn V - a 3-disc set featuring an original 43-minute documentary with new interviews with Saturn veteran engineers, footage from every Saturn V launch, plus engine testing, onboard pod cameras, and an extensive collection of pad camera footage, all made from new transfers and with reconstructed Saturn launch audio.

It's a pretty good time for NASA buffs, I think. For more information on these releases, be sure to visit the Spacecraft Films website.

Back tomorrow. Stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 2/3/04 - 12:30 PM PST)

Okay... we've got another post coming later this afternoon. But in the interest of helping as many of you find copies of the Ed Wood: Special Edition as possible, without having to buy it on eBay for $100+ from would-be profiteers (which is just plain wrong), we wanted to update you on where readers are finding it. Supposedly, Borders and Blockbuster have put it up for sale, along with many Costco locations (and probably other warehouse retailers as well). We've had readers tell us that a few Best Buys locations have also made it available for sale. Some Fred Meyer store locations apparently have it available, and many of those who were smart enough to pre-order the disc on Amazon are being told via e-mail that their discs have shipped. The message is that the disc is out there, and you should act fast if you want it.

Just FYI, Buena Vista has finally spoken on the record with Video Business, and claims that they're looking for a "better date to release the DVD". Given the amount of money the studio and retailers stand to lose by pulling the disc at the 11th hour, it stretches credibility to believe that's the only reason. We've now heard off the record from sources that the title was pulled over a rights issue regarding material that was included in the supplements. If that's true, it would mean that any future release will likely be altered in some way (some extras might be edited or dropped entirely from the disc). VB has also apparently heard a rumor that director Tim Burton wasn't happy with the extras. In any case, it seems likely that whatever the reason is, the disc will be released again in the future but not with the same bonus material. So use that information as you will.

Back soon with more.

(EARLY UPDATE - 2/3/04 - 12:01 AM PST)

Yet another Ed Wood update: we've now heard from a few Best Buy store managers, who tell us that they too have been told not to place copies of the Ed Wood: Special Edition on their shelves for sale later this morning. It seems that the circulars were printed weeks ago, prior to the recall going into effect. So while I suspect there will be retailers who missed the memo and start selling the disc tomorrow, you'll be hard pressed to find copies at Best Buy or any of the Musicland Group stores (Suncoast, Sam Goody, etc). In any case, if you're going out looking for it, good luck. And we'll post anything we heard from the studio as soon as it comes in.

Back with more later. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 2/2/04 - 4:30 PM PST)

We have a late update for you on the Ed Wood DVD. Several store managers and staffers have e-mailed us this afternoon, since our last post, with word that Suncoast locations HAVE been told NOT to put copies of Ed Wood on the floor for sale tomorrow. Word is, the stores will be sending back the copies they received in the next couple of weeks. Just FYI. Thanks to everyone who e-mailed us with this information.

(LATE UPDATE - 2/2/04 - 3 PM PST)

How's this for a screwed up situation? Despite Buena Vista's insistence to us that the Ed Wood: Special Edition has been indefinitely postponed, it seems that several retailers may still be planning on putting it up for sale tomorrow. Best Buy has been advertising it in their weekend circulars, and it seems likely that other chains will have copies for sale as well. All this despite the fact that it's no longer available from many online retailers.

Honestly, we have no idea what to think at this point. Buena Vista STILL hasn't issued an official public statement, or given a reason for the supposed postponement. So the best we can tell you is, if you want the disc, get out to your local retailers tomorrow morning. You may just get lucky.

Stay tuned...


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