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page updated: 3/26/04



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 3/18/04 - 2/25/04)


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(EARLY UPDATE - 3/18/04 - 10:30 AM PST)

So... where will you be at 5:08 PM EST? Well, if you're in the southern hemisphere, or happen to live in Europe or Asia, grab a pair of binoculars and look up at the night sky. You might be able to spot an asteroid as it make the closest recorded pass to Earth by such an object ever (other, of course, than those that have hit us in the past). The 100-foot diameter space rock will pass (read: miss) by just 26,500 miles. That means the object will pass well inside the Moon's orbit (which averages about 238,000 miles distant from us). To give you a sense of scale, the Earth itself is about 7,900 miles in diameter. So, cosmically speaking, that's very, very close (click here for a graphic showing its path, and another story from Space.com). If that's not reason enough to start spending serious bucks on Buck Rodgers, I don't know what is.

Speaking of rocket boys, after we posted the news of that Region 2 Dune: Special Edition yesterday (which, by the way, we hear may be coded Region 0 with video in PAL format), a number of you e-mailed to tell us about a Region 2 Flash Gordon: Special Edition that's already available in France from Studio Canal. We're told that the film is presented in remastered anamorphic widescreen video and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, with audio commentary by director Mike Hodges, a 32-minute interview with the director, a photo gallery, cast filmographies and the theatrical trailer. It also includes the soundtrack CD.

Flash Gordon: Special EditionDune Der Wüstenplanet: Paradise EditionDune Der Wüstenplanet: Perfect Collection

Back on Dune for a moment, we've learned from our readers of two more Region 2 DVD releases of the film. We're told that a 3-disc Dune Der Wüstenplanet: Paradise Edition is available in Germany (coded Region 2 and also in PAL format). This set contains the theatrical version in anamorphic widescreen on the first disc, the longer "Alan Smithee" TV version in full frame on the second disc, and a disc of extras that includes 2 trailers, The Making of Dune documentary, a photo gallery, cast & crew bios, "film script information", the Dune Themepark, Cooking with Spice and A-Z of Dune featurettes and an Atreides family tree. There's also another German edition called Dune Der Wüstenplanet: Perfect Collection, which contains 3 discs and a bonus soundtrack CD. It sucks, but you just know that I'm clearly going to have to buy Flash, and one or both of these Dune DVDs. Can anyone out there tell me what language the extras are in on the above discs, and if there are English subtitles? For more information on the Dune discs, visit this link at Dune Info.com. And you can find more info on all three titles (at various international Amazons) by clicking on the covers above.

Universal, what the hell are you guys waiting for on this?! Hire up a first-rate independent producer and get busy! Or give Criterion a call, would you? Sheesh!

Anyway, to wrap up our little space opera theme this morning, we've got word you Star Wars Trilogy fans are definitely not going to want to miss in today's edition of The Rumor Mill. 'Nuff said.

Finally today, as many of you know Microsoft's Windows Media 9 compression format was recently selected by the DVD Forum to be part of the official spec for forthcoming HD-DVD. And while HD-DVD may still be a couple years away, the first player to take advantage of WM9 is set to arrive later this year from a company called KiSS Technology. Click here to read their official press release. Word is, the player will be able to play the WM9 files included as DVD-ROM extras on a few already released DVDs (like Artisan's Terminator 2: Extreme Edition and Standing in the Shadows of Motown), in addition to all your regular DVDs. Thanks to Bits reader Brad H. for the heads-up on that.

Stay tuned...

3/17/04

Damn... here's a title we wish Universal would get around to releasing on DVD here in the States. You U.K. fans are in for a treat at least. Sanctuary Visual Entertainment is working on a Dune: Special Edition for release in Region 2 (PAL format) on April 5th. The disc will include the film in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, the 40-minute Impressions of Dune documentary, an interview with Frank Herbert, a vintage promo featurette, the theatrical trailer and a 32-page booklet. This is a nice release, and is certainly better than we have in Region 1, but it could still be better. Dune is a film that's in desperate dire need of a serious special edition release if ever there was one. Can you imagine if Universal let Criterion do a really nice multi-disc edition, like they did with Brazil? It could have the original theatrical edition, the 'Alan Smithee' television version and the original (and much longer) director's cut. Todd and I would pay a few nickels for that, I'll tell you. So too would a LOT of other fans out there. Anyway, here's the cover art...

Dune: Special Edition (Region 2)

While we're on the topic of special editions Universal really needs to get around to, how about 1980's Flash Gordon, starring Sam Jones, Max Von Sydow and Timothy Dalton? Nuff said.

In other news today, Anchor Bay has finally revealed a little more about their forthcoming, multi-disc Dawn of the Dead DVD. Tentatively set for September, the set will reportedly include multiple versions of the film, audio commentary and more. Click here for future updates. Note that the Bay seems to be having a little trouble with their site at the moment, so be patient if it doesn't appear right away.

And in the realm of The Rumor Mill (but not posted there because it's midnight and there's not enough coffee in the world at the moment), our friends over at TheOneRing.net have posted elaborate details on what MIGHT be included in the forthcoming The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - Special Extended DVD Edition cut (due from New Line later this year). Some of it is based on inside info, and some is just speculation, but it's interesting reading in any case. Also, sources for The Force.net are suggesting that when the Star Wars Trilogy arrives on DVD in September, it will include a special sneak preview of 2005's Episode III. Certainly makes sense. We'll see.

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

(EARLY UPDATE - 3/16/04 - 2 PM PST)

Okay... Todd Doogan's latest Weekly Release Roundup is here! As always, Todd takes a look at some of the great DVD releases that should have arrived on store shelves today. Don't miss it.

Also this afternoon, we've kicked off no less that FOUR new Contests. Anyone interested in winning copies of Universal's Schindler List, Universal's Veronica Guerin and other great DVDs? Then get you entries in quick!

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 3/16/04 - 2 PM PST)

As promised, we've just posted our reviews of the first of Warner's long-awaited Hanna-Barbera animated box sets - The Flintstones: The Complete First Season and Scooby-Doo Where Are You!: The Complete First & Second Seasons. You'll find both at your local video store today. The short of it is that the episodes look and sounds great, but don't expect much in the way of extras (although of the two releases, The Flintstones does fare a little better in that respect). Still, both are worth a look for fans.

We'll be back with Todd's Weekly Roundup in a little while. Stay tuned...

3/15/04

Hope you all had a great weekend. My brother was here for a couple of days, so we had a good time catching up on things. Matt and I also checked out a screening of Columbia TriStar's Secret Window, which is an adaptation of a Stephen King short story. Star Johnny Depp was excellent as always, but while the film is genuinely creepy and atmospheric, it's also VERY predictable. The film telegraphs its twists badly, which is a shame.

Anyway, we've got a new DVD review for you today. Adam Jahnke's checked out MGM's recent Fargo: Special Edition DVD. Also today, Lindsay Planer over at our MusicTAP site has reviewed The Mavericks on DVD-Audio from Silverline.

Tomorrow, we'll have another Weekly Release Roundup from Todd, as well as two new reviews of DVDs that street tomorrow - Warner's The Flintstones: The Complete First Season and Scooby-Doo Where Are You!: The Complete First and Second Seasons. Don't miss it!

In DVD release news, we have word that those forthcoming Buena Vista special editions of Enemy of the State and Crimson Tide have been delayed from their original May 4th street date. There's no word on why, or when they'll be rescheduled.

Around the Net today, there's a feature on the future, next-generation DVD formats over at The Wall Street Journal (registration is required, but look for the story titled DVD Succession Race Heats Up - it's in the print edition as well). Also, Variety is reporting that Disney is expanding the test marketing of their EZ-D disposable disc format to Florida and three additional cities, "with a more sharply defined distribution strategy and significant new support from major convenience chain 7-Eleven and Papa John's restaurant franchises. This seems like a desperate attempt (our opinion) to keep EZ-D going, given that the product has done relatively poorly so far in test markets in Missouri, Texas and Illinois, with consumers and retailers showing little interest in the disposable concept.

Also, for you high-end home theater buffs, our friends at Better Cables have announced a new line of Digital Magic and Display Magic HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) cables. Click here for all the details, specs and prices from their website. For what it's worth, we use Better Cables here at The Bits, and have been very happy with them.

Back with more tomorrow. Stay tuned...

3/12/04

Afternoon all! We're got a few new DVD announcements to cover today, so let's get started.

First up, 20th Century Fox has officially announced the DVD release of Welcome to Mooseport on May 25th (SRP $27.98). The DVD will be available in both anamorphic widescreen and full frame versions. Extras will include director's commentary, 6 deleted scenes with optional commentary, an outtake reel, the "Soova" commercial and 2 Easter Eggs.

In Paramount news today, Tupac Resurrection has been set to street on 6/15. The DVD will include audio commentary from Tupac's mom, director Luren Lazin and "surprise guests", deleted scenes, never-before-seen interviews and more.

Look for Reno 911: The Complete First Season from Paramount on 6/22. The release will include all 14 episodes on 2 discs, along with alternate scenes and audio commentary from the entire cast.

Also on 6/22 from Paramount, watch for The Joe Schmo Show: Season One Uncensored, which will include 8 episodes, audio commentary from executive producer Rhett Reese and Matt Kennedy Gould, never-before-seen eviction ceremony interviews, the extended and unblurred "chocolate sauce on models" sequence, deleted scenes and more.
Finally, look for The President's Analyst, Goodbye Columbus and The Day of the Locust from the studio, all on 6/8 (SRP $14.98 each).

Here's art for Mooseport and AnimEigo's last Zatoichi release, Zatoichi Meets the One-Armed Swordsman, which will be available soon from their website.

Welcome to MooseportEd Wood: Special EditionZatoichi Meets the One-Armed Swordsman

Yep... that's also the artwork for Buena Vista's Ed Wood: Special Edition. We keep hearing that it's on again, then off again, and we STILL haven't been given an official reason why this thing was pulled at the 11th hour. But Amazon has started taking pre-orders for the disc once more (click on the cover art). There's still no official street date yet, but maybe the pre-order thing is a good sign. We'll see.

We'll be back on Monday with a host of new DVD reviews. See you then!

3/11/04

Afternoon all! Sorry for our absence yesterday, but we got caught up in some behind-the-scenes work here at The Bits. Never enough hours in the day around here.

Anyway, we're back today with two new DVD reviews for you to check out. I've given one of my favorite films of 2003 a spin on DVD, in the form of Universal's Lost in Translation. I've also posted my thoughts on Beyond Borders, Paramount's latest Angelina Jolie star vehicle.

We have one other thing for you today as well. Remember the other day, when I said that Todd and I were wagering that when Howard the Duck eventually came to DVD, producer George Lucas would replace Howard with an entirely CG-animated character? Well, we were half-joking, but it seems Lucas has already entertained the idea! Click here to download a ZIP file containing a minute-long MP3 audio clip of an interview Lucas did with Robin Williams for Audible.com on this exact topic. Special thanks to Bits reader Quinton B. for sending this in.

Oh, the humanity!!

Back tomorrow. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 3/9/04 - 11:45 AM PST)

Here's something you definitely don't want to miss out on!

DVD executives and staffers from Warner Home Video participated in a live chat on The Home Theater Forum last night. The 3-hour long Q&A session revealed a TON of information about upcoming DVDs that are in the works from Warner for the next few years. I'm talking a TON of information! Seriously, if you miss this, we can't be responsible for your DVD lovin' soul.

Here's a link to a complete transcript of the chat itself, as well as a summary of all the titles mentioned/revealed during the chat. And HTF has also posted an informal survey on Warner titles you'd like to see receive 2-disc special edition treatment.

Thanks as always to Ron Epstein, Parker Clack and everyone at HTF for the transcript, for all their hard work, and for a great chat. While we're at it... Happy Birthday, Parker!

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 3/9/04 - 12:01 AM PST)

Morning, folks! We've got a lot for you today, so let's get started.

Universal has announced the Field of Dreams: 2-disc Anniversary Edition for release on June 8th (SRP $26.98). The DVD will feature anamorphic widescreen video, audio commentary (with Kevin Costner, director Phil Alden Robinson and producers Lawrence and Charles Gordon), newly discovered deleted scenes, 3 featurettes (From Father to Son: Passing Along the Pastime, Galena Illinois Pinch Hits for Chisholm Minnesota and The Diamond in the Husks), the A Look Inside Field of Dreams documentary, Bravo's From Page to Screen: Field of Dreams, stadium facts and photos, baseball trivia and more. Here's the cover art for that, as well as Universal's Pitch Black: The Chronicles of Riddick (6/1) and Buena Vista's Miracle (TBA - see today's Rumor Mill post). Note that, as before, there will be 4 separate versions of Pitch Black - R-rated and Unrated, each in both anamorphic widescreen and full frame. Extras are likely to be near identical to the previous release, likely along with new preview material for the upcoming Chronicles of Riddick films.

Field of Dreams: 2-disc Anniversary EditionPitch Black: The Chronicles of RiddickMiracle

It might not be the ultimate "überset" mentioned in yesterday's post, but you WILL be able to buy the complete theatrical edition of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy as a 6-disc DVD set from New Line on May 25th (SRP $89.98).

Columbia TriStar has announced the You Got Served: Special Edition and The Gene Krupa Story, both for May 18th.

And Warner will release The Dukes of Hazzard: The Complete First Season on 6/1. Also on the way from the studio (and its BBC and HBO licensees) are The Dame Edna Experience: The Complete Series One (6/8) and Nip/Tuck: The Complete First Season, Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Second Season and To the Manor Born: The Complete Series (all 6/15). More artwork...

Lord of the Rings Trilogy (theatrical edition box set)The Dukes of Hazzard: The Complete First SeasonThe Dame Edna Experience: The Complete Series One

We've got some very interesting stuff today in The Rumor Mill - word on changes being made to George Lucas' THX-1138 for its DVD release (groan), as well as information on several long-awaited Paramount titles and more. You definitely don't want to miss it.

You know... Todd and I are betting that when Howard the Duck is finally released on DVD, Lucas will have replaced Howard with an entirely CG animated duck. Any takers?

Moving on, we have Todd's latest Weekly Release Roundup for you this morning, which takes a look at some of the great DVDs that are due on store shelves today.

As promised, we've updated the Upcoming DVD Cover Art section today with more than 75 new cover scans. Tons of stuff, so check it out and enjoy. As always, any titles you preorder by clicking on the links to Amazon help to support our work here at The Bits. We appreciate it!

And we're pleased to offer another Digital Bits Power Buy this morning as well - a super low price on Hitachi's 42HDT50, one of the finest 42" plasma HDTVs available today, just for readers of The Digital Bits! We also have nearly 30 other great pieces of home theater equipment available at special prices for our readers. Click here for more on our continuing Power Buy discounts.

In news from around the Net today, there's word from the BBC on a possible DVD release of the 1985 Live Aid concert. Word is the proceeds from the release will go to the Band Aid Trust, "which still exists to relieve poverty and hunger in Ethiopia and the surrounding area."

That's plenty for now, I'd say. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 3/8/04 - 11:30 AM PST)

We've got more upcoming DVD announcements for you today. Paramount has revealed that John Woo's Paycheck: Special Collector's Edition with street on May 18th in both anamorphic widescreen and full frame versions. Extras will include audio commentary, deleted scenes and a "making of" featurette.

Also on the way from Paramount on May 25th is a 6-disc edition of Herman Wouk's The Winds of War miniseries. Have we said lately how expensive May 25th is becoming? TONS of great titles are streeting on that day.

One more - coming from MGM on April 27th is the Golden Globe winner for Best Foreign Language Film, Osama. Here's a look at the cover art for all of the above...

PaycheckThe Winds of WarOsama

We've also got possible street dates for a number of other upcoming titles, including Mystic River and 50 First Dates, in today's Rumor Mill update. There's a bit of Star Wars DVD info in there too.

And here's another big of interesting Lord of the Rings DVD news, from Video Store magazine. Word from New Line Home Entertainment's senior VP of marketing, Matt Lasorsa, is that there are as yet no plans for the "überset" boxed release of the entire Trilogy on DVD. Here's a quote from Lasorsa:

“We need materials compelling enough for the überset. Even if we can find and compile those materials, we are looking at something at least a couple of years away. We would make it significantly different. We want consumers to feel it is worth it."

I think I speak for fans everywhere when I say... very glad to hear that.

We'll have that big Upcoming DVD Cover Art update tomorrow. We're bumping it a day, because we just got a bunch more art, so we want to get it all ready for you.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 3/8/04 - 12:01 AM PST)

Well, it's official. As we expected, New Line has announced the DVD release of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King on May 25th. The 2-disc theatrical edition will be available in both anamorphic widescreen and full frame versions (SRP $29.95 each), with audio in English Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 Surround (as well as English and Spanish subtitles). Extras will include 2 documentaries (The Quest Fulfilled: A Director's Vision and A Filmmaker's Journey: Making The Return of the King), the National Geographic: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King special, 6 A Final Look at Middle-Earth featurettes created for lordoftherings.net (including Digital Horses, Eowyn White Lady of Rohan, Minas Tirith, Aragorn's Destiny, Battle of the Pelennor Fields and Samwise the Brave), 2 theatrical trailers, 13 TV spots, the Lord of the Rings Trilogy "supertrailer", and a promotional featurette for EA Games tie-in videogames called The Battle for Middle-earth Continues. The running time for the film is 200 minutes. Can't wait to see how they managed to compress that onto a single disc! The 4-disc extended edition will follow later in 2004 (word is November). Here's the cover art for the 2-disc set, as well as a look at the main menu for Disc One...

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - 2-disc Theatrical EditionReturn of the King - Main Menu

Around the site today, we've updated all of the DVD sales and rental stats we keep in the charts above, as well as the CEA DVD Player Sales numbers.

We've also kicked off 2 new Contests this morning, thanks to our friends at Warner Bros and 20th Century Fox. Anyone interested in winning copies of Looney Tunes: Back in Action, Planet of the Apes: 35th Anniversary Edition, Futurama: Volume Three and more? Well... you've got until Saturday, March 14th to enter, so get going!

We have a new Artist of the Month for you to check out as well. Danny Beck is an amazing illustrator who specializes in character design - trust me when I say the guy's got serious skills. Check out the link for more about Danny and cool samples of his work, as well as a link to his official website.

Don't forget, The Home Theater Forum will be holding a live chat with DVD executives from Warner Home Video tonight (5 PM PST/8 PM EST). We'll have a complete transcript of the chat tomorrow.

Back with more later this morning. Stay tuned...

3/6/04

Hey... what do you know? A rare Saturday update to The Bits! We just wanted to jump in here quickly with a couple of things. First of all, we've got some new cover art that's too hot to hold off on until Monday... Disney's Aladdin: Platinum Edition (due 10/5). We have two versions, one which appeared on Disney.com (thanks to Bits reader Jean-Francois A. for sending it in), and another that's been appearing in trade materials (thanks to Mark B. for that). We don't know which (if either) is final, but it's all good. We also have revised cover art for HBO's Sex and the City: Season Six - Part One (5/18), James Cameron's Ghosts of the Abyss (a DVD-only release from Buena Vista due on 4/27), Fox's Independence Day: Limited Edition (5/11), and AnimEigo's new Zatoichi's Conspiracy (available now exclusively through their website).

Aladdin: Platinum EditionAladdin: Platinum EditionSex and the City: Season Six - Part One

Ghosts of the AbyssIndependence Day: Limited EditionZatoichi's Conspiracy


Also today, we wanted to let all of you know that our friends at The Home Theater Forum are going to be holding a live chat on Monday with DVD executives from Warner Home Video. The chat will be held at 5 PM PST (8 PM EST). Click here for details on how to participate. We'll have a complete transcript of the chat on Tuesday, just FYI.

Have a great weekend!

3/5/04

Afternoon, gang! I told you yesterday that we'd be back today with another DVD review... and here it is. Todd Doogan's checked in with a look at Anchor Bay's forthcoming Dawn of the Dead: Divimax Special Edition (which streets on Tuesday - 3/9). This disc contains the U.S. Theatrical Cut of the film, along with audio commentary and other extras. You should know, however, that a more elaborate, multi-disc special edition of the film is currently being prepared for release later this year. Still, I think you'll find this disc worth a spin if you're as much a fan as we are.

We have one other quick bit of news for you today... we've received e-mails from a number of retail sources, saying that Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox's Star Wars Trilogy DVD box set will become available for pre-order on March 20th. Just FYI.

Don't forget, New Line will be announcing the DVD release of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King on Monday, so check back then for all the details.

Also on Monday, we'll have a new Upcoming DVD Cover Art update, updated stats and more DVD release news. We also have a number of great new DVD reviews coming next week - some awesome titles that you don't want to miss. So have a great weekend, and we'll see you then!

Stay tuned...

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

Some of you out there have been waiting for this disc for a very LONG time. Here at The Bits, we've certainly been following the tumultuous saga of its journey to DVD for quite a while now. Thankfully, I'm pleased to say that the wait is over... and you will NOT be disappointed. I've just posted my in-depth review of Blue Underground's new The Final Countdown: 2-Disc Limited Edition, which streets on March 30th. If you're a fan, you're going to love it. Trust me.

Back tomorrow with yet another new DVD review. Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 3/4/04 - 11:30 AM PST)

We're going to have a later post today with that review I mentioned yesterday, so be sure to check back this afternoon. In the meantime, we've got some interesting studio announcements to cover today, so let's get those out of the way first.

First up... New Line. Once again, we have confirmation from retailers that The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King will arrive on DVD on May 25th (SRP $29.95). Watch for the official announcement on Monday morning - we'll have all the details and cover art then.

Next up today... 20th Century Fox. We have word that new Studio Classics DVDs for 2004 will include Desk Set (5/4), The Snake Pit (6/1), The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (7/6) and Zorba the Greek (8/3). All will include audio commentary (Brodie & Zorba are director commentaries) and all SRP for $14.98.

Fox will release In America on May 11th, with both anamorphic widescreen and full frame on the same disc, along with director's commentary, an alternate ending, 9 deleted scenes, and a "making of" featurette (SRP $27.98).

The studio will also release a number of War classics on May 25th (SRP $14.98), including Crash Dive, Morituri, What Price Glory, The Enemy Below, The Hunters and The Sand Pebbles. That same day, look for more martial arts titles, including Game of Death II, Operation Scorpio, The Prodigal Son, Royal Warriors and The Young Master (all $9.98 each). Finally, look for 300 Spartans, Robin Hood (Patrick Bergin & Uma Thurman) and Prince Valiant (James Mason) on May 11th (SRP $14.98 each).

Now... Miramax. We have word that the studio (as usual through Buena Vista) is re-releasing Cop Land, Flirting with Disaster and Trainspotting as special editions on June 1st, as part of 'Miramax Collector Series DVD - Wave 1'. Also, look for Cold Mountain on July 6th.

Universal has announced a Reality Bites: 10th Anniversary Edition for June 8th. They'll also bow Monk: Season One on June 15th, and a Shrek/Shrek 3-D 2-Pack on May 11th. By the way, we understand that The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury (due June 15th) is an direct-to-video animated prequel to the upcoming Riddick Trilogy films. Just FYI.

Finally... Warner Bros. Warner will release Mandy Moore's Chasing Liberty on May 4th, featuring commentary by Moore and director Matthew Goode, a gag reel, a full concert performance of The Seed by The Roots, additional scenes, behind the scenes featurettes, a "Passport to Europe" and more.

Around the Net today, we found it kinda cool that IMDB mentioned The Bits in its Studio Brief column, re: that leaked Star Wars DVD box art. You can read the story they're referring to here, in case you missed it.

Just to let you know, a LOT of the titles we've mentioned in the last week or two are now available for pre-order from Amazon.com. That includes the Saving Private Ryan: D-Day 60th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, the Bubba Ho-Tep: Special Edition, Cold Mountain and Wizards.

And before we go, here's some new DVD cover art for you to chew on... Warner's Wyatt Earp and Around the World in 80 Days (both 5/18), Columbia TriStar's Japanese Story (5/11), Universal's Along Came Polly (6/8) and Monk: Season One (6/15), and Fox's In America (5/11).

Wyatt Earp: Special EditionAround the World in 80 Days: Special EditionJapanese Story: Special Edition

Along Came PollyMonk: Season OneIn America

Back later with that review. Stay tuned...

3/3/04

Sorry it took so long to get this posted, but we think you'll really enjoy it. Our own Barrie Maxwell has kicked off a new Classic Reviews Roundup today, to supplement his regular column. In today's Roundup, Barrie reviews no less than 21 new and recently released DVDs, including Image's Something to Sing About, Back in the Saddle and Under Fiesta Stars, Warner's Goodbye, Mr. Chips and Mrs. Miniver, Idem's Swing Era: Nat King Cole, Swing Era: Sarah Vaughan and Swing Era: Louis Jordan, Falcon's 1950s TV's Greatest Westerns, Criterion's Diary of a Country Priest, Columbia TriStar's The Prisoner, 20th Century Fox's Peyton Place and Planet of the Apes: 35th Anniversary Edition, MGM's The Best of Mister Ed: Volume One, Pressure Point, For Love of Ivy, The Wilby Conspiracy and The Sidney Poitier Collection and Paramount's This Property Is Condemned, The Great Gatsby and Frasier: The Complete Second Season. Whew!

We'll be back tomorrow with a very special review of an exciting upcoming DVD release. Stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 3/2/04 - 1:30 PM PST)

Afternoon, kids! We have a couple of things for you this afternoon.

First of all, we've spoken with those in the know (the right people, you'll have to trust us on this) and have learned that the Star Wars DVD box art that's been circulating around lately is "work in progress" ONLY stuff that should NEVER have leaked on the Net. These are apparently very early concepts - stuff that we weren't meant to see - and the final packaging is likely to be quite different. This kind of thing happens all the time - that a company working on marketing designs for packaging, or even poster or cover art, will do many, many different concepts as they hone in on the final design. So while these packages are sort of the real deal, they're really not if you get our meaning. Anyway, that's the unofficially official word - take it as you will. We will, of course, post the final box art as soon as it's released by Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox.

The other thing we have for you this afternoon is a new Doogan's Views column. Yeah, we know... Todd's had a bit of attention deficit disorder with regard to his column lately. But starting with today's post, he's worked up a new regular feature that we think you'll find useful. It's a Weekly Release Roundup, highlighting the best DVDs that are coming to stores each Tuesday. So watch for that to be posted each Monday.

We're doing some behind the scenes work today, as well as a little investigative reporting. We'll be back with Barrie's reviews later this evening. Stay tuned...

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

Morning all! We'll be back later this morning with a proper post, including new reviews from both Barrie and Todd. But first, I wanted to check in with something that will definitely interest you Lord of the Rings fans out there. Last night, TheOneRing.net hosted a special Oscar party in Hollywood for 1,500 fans of the films, and many of the cast and crew who were at the Oscars (some with statues in hand) dropped by to say hello. Director Peter Jackson was among them, and while addressing the crowd, he had some very interesting things to say about the forthcoming DVD release of King. Here's a quote:

"I'm sure most of you have heard me blabbing off in the past few weeks but we've just finished the extended cut of the DVD. I finished the edit before I came over here - these poor bastards at Weta have got another 350 effects shots to do! They're well on the way. Elijah's seen the extended cut. New Line have announced some box set that's supposed to be coming out which I didn't know anything about. When I've done King Kong I'd like to do a proper box set and we've got a whole bunch of material - not of the movie but we've got a whole lot of bloopers out there! When King Kong's out the way I'd like to do a really high definition version with the best possible picture quality."

Now there's good news if ever we heard it! Rings in high-def? Count us in! The extended DVD is obviously for Return of the King (due in November), while the box set he's talking about would feature the entire Rings trilogy (New Line already has one planned for 2004, but it sounds as if Jackson didn't know about that, and would rather do a more comprehensive HD set at a later time). There were other interesting DVD-related quotes from Jackson and company made at the event as well, including inside word on a funny Easter egg that's planned for the extended DVD. There even a little talk of an eventual film version of The Hobbit. You can read them all here.

By the way, in case you missed it the other day, New Line is expected to announce the DVD release of The Return of the King this coming Monday (3/8).

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 3/1/04 - 1:30 PM PST)

We've got a few more new DVD announcements to report today. First up, Columbia TriStar will release Errol Morris' Oscar-winning documentary, The Fog of War, on May 11th (also coming that day will be Japanese Story and The Code). Additional details will follow later, but here's a look at the cover art...

The Fog of WarThe Testament of Dr. Mabuse (Criterion)Stray Dog (Criterion)

Also today, as you can see, we have news that Criterion will release more great new DVDs in May. They include Volker Schlöndorff’s The Tin Drum, Fritz Lang's The Testament of Dr. Mabuse, Ingmar Bergman's Smiles of a Summer Night, Luchino Visconti’s The Leopard and Akira Kurosawa's Stray Dog.

Warner Bros. will release The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer, Destination Tokyo, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, My Favorite Wife and Night and Day on June 1st.

MPI is going to be releasing ABC Primetime's Mel Gibson: The Passion interview with Diane Sawyer on DVD on March 8th (SRP $19.98).

Buena Vista will release more catalog titles on July 7th, including Balloon Farm, The Cat from Outer Space, Charlie, The Lonesome Cougar, Greyfriars Bobby, Hot Lead & Cold Feet, Napoleon & Samantha, Never a Dull Moment, No Deposit No Return, The North Avenue Irregulars, The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band, The Three Lives of Thomasina and The Ugly Dachshund.

And Universal will release Along Came Polly on June 8th (SRP $26.98). Extras will include audio commentary with director John Hamburg, and alternate opening, deleted scenes (with optional director's commentary), outtakes, The Making of Along Came Polly featurette, the Rodolfo Goes Hollywood featurette, the theatrical trailer and cast and filmmakers bios.

A lot of you have been asking us about a James Bond: 40th Anniversary DVD Collection from MGM, various packaging designs for which appear on the Neuron Syndicate wesbite. We honestly have no idea what this might be. Keep in mind that the 40th anniversary of the film series would have been 2002, so it's likely that this was just a mock-up for a product that was never actually released. Just FYI.

Finally today, we've kicked off a pair of new Contests, giving you a chance to win copies of Warner's Super Bowl XXXVIII DVD and Buena Vista's Duplex and Cold Creek Manor.

We have a bunch of new DVD reviews for you tomorrow from Barrie, so stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 3/1/04 - 12:01 AM PST)

Well... it sure made for a boring Oscar telecast, but The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King swept the night, justly (in our humble opinion) winning in all 11 categories in which it was nominated, including Best Director and Best Picture of the Year. That last, ultimate Oscar makes King the first science fiction/fantasy picture to be so honored by the Academy. The film's total domination of this year's ceremony is evidence that many in Hollywood were hoping that the trilogy's best had been saved for last, in order to honor this truly astounding filmmaking achievement. They clearly weren't disappointed, and neither were we. Our hats off to Jackson and company for the best time we've had in a movie theater in a very long time. Can't wait for that 4-disc DVD! And to you guys at New Line and MGM... I think we speak for a lot of people when we say we'd sure appreciate it if you'd work out your business so Jackson can tackle The Hobbit after he wraps King Kong.

But hey... there were other winners last night too. Also taking home awards on the evening were Sean Penn for Best Actor, Charlize Theron for Best Actress, Tim Robbins for Best Supporting Actor and Renée Zellweger for Best Supporting Actress. We was also pleased to see Sofia Coppola win an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for Lost in Translation. You can click here for a complete list of all the winners.

Now then... we've got some interesting business to report this morning. First up, an L.A. company called Neuron Syndicate, which apparently is working on the packaging design for the upcoming Star Wars Trilogy DVD release, inadvertently leaked images of three different versions of the packaging on their website over the weekend. The photos were only up for a very short time before they got yanked (no doubt after a frantic call from Fox and/or Lucasfilm), but a few of our readers managed to download them, and naturally they're starting to appear on Star Wars fan websites and BBS boards all over the Net. We might post the original images at a later time, but for now you can view them at this French fansite (until they get yanked again, of course). Basically, there are three different versions - the "Final Conflict" box (featuring Darth Vader's helmet - my personal favorite), the "Imperial Collection" (featuring various images from the film including a Star Destroyer) and the "Jedi vs. Darkside" design (the most colorful but least classy of the three). We have no idea which of the three will be chosen as the final design, if any. All three look like Digipack and slipcase affairs, none of which match the previously released Episode 1 & 2 DVDs' spine format. Ah well.

In other Fox news, the studio has announced that The X-Files: The Complete Ninth Season will street on May 11th. The 7-disc set (SRP $99.98) will feature all 19 episodes of the show's final season in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround audio. Extras will include 10 deleted scenes (with optional commentary on Disc Six by Frank Sponitz and Chris Carter), international clips, several Special Effects featurettes by Matt Beck (with commentary by Paul Rabwin), audio commentary on Improbable by Chris Carter, audio commentary on Jump the Shark by Vince Gilligan, John Shiban and Frank Spotnitz, audio commentary on The Truth by Kim Manners, The Truth about Season 9 documentary (30 mins), The Making of The Truth documentary (90 mins), 4 X-Files Profiles featurettes (including Monica Reyes, Brad Follmer, Cake Cutting and On Location), 20 TV spots, the Secrets of the X-Files documentary (45 mins), the More Secrets of the X-Files documentary (45 mins), the Tribute to the X-Files featurette (20 mins) and DVD-ROM features including weblinks and The Truth interactive game.

Fox has also announced the release of their next Studio Classics title, the Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy comedy Desk Set, for May 4th (SRP $14.98). Streeting on that same day is Fox's The Bernie Mac Show: Season One (SRP $49.98), which will include audio commentary by Bernie Mac on several episodes. Finally, Fox will release an Independence Day: Limited Edition on May 11th (SRP $19.98). The release will include both the theatrical and special edition versions in anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, scene specific commentary by Richard Emmerich and Dean Devlin (on the SE version only), an additional commentary by FX supervisors Volker Engel and Doug Smith, and the Inside Look: Day After Tomorrow sizzle reel. It also includes a coupon for a free ticket to see Day After Tomorrow (also directed by Roland Emmerich), which opens in theaters on May 28th. So think of this a "light" version of the previous 5-Star release.

That's just about all for now... except that we have word in The Rumor Mill this morning on more cool TV DVD releases that are on the way later in 2004. Don't miss it.

To all you Kiwi's out there, good on ya, mate! We have no doubt there's a lot of folks down under who'll be up all night celebrating. So greet the dawn with good cheer... you guys ARE the first to see it after all.

Stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 2/27/04 - 2:30 PM PST)

Oh, hell... we've got MORE DVD news for you today, and we just couldn't hold it until Monday.

First up, The Godfather movie-only re-release will street on May 11th. We have officially confirmed with Paramount that it's the same anamorphic widescreen transfer that appeared in The Godfather DVD Collection - literally it's the exact same disc that was in the box set, just released as a single for those who want only the film. There had been talk of additional digital clean-up passes by the folks at Lowry Digital, but it didn't happen and the studio is not commenting further on the subject at this time.

Speaking of Paramount, we have word on more new DVDs from the studio. The Gunsmoke Movie Collection (Return to Dodge, The Last Apache and To the Last Man) will street on 5/11. Star Trek Voyager: Season Two will appear on May 18th (including 26 episodes, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio and 8 featurettes). Back to the Beach, Funny About Love and Summer School are on the way on June 1st. A 6-disc The Winds of War release will street on May 25th (which is shaping up to be a HUGELY expensive day for DVD releases). And John Woo's Paycheck will arrive on May 18th, including audio commentary with Woo and screenwriter Dean Georgaris.

Next up, we have word from Video Business that 20th Century Fox has agreed to distribute Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ on DVD. There's no word yet on a street date, but you can bet it won't take too long to get the film out on disc, given the film's $26.6 million opening on Wednesday.

And finally today, this would normally go in The Rumor Mill, because the title hasn't been officially announced. But it's so brief that I figured this was as good a place as any. Here's the deal - a representative of Artisan Entertainment has informed me that Speed Racer: Volume 2 will street sometime later this year, featuring the next batch of episodes of the classic Japanese animated series. Frankly, I wish the studio would just hurry up and release all the remaining episodes, 'cause that stupid $300 limited edition box set on eBay is calling my name like crazy. But the studio seems determined to stretch this out as long as possible, so there it is. Anyway, told you it was brief.

Okay... that's really it for this week. Have a great weekend, enjoy the Oscars and we'll see you Monday!

(EARLY UPDATE - 2/27/04 - 12:01 AM PST)

Morning, folks! We've got more details for you on the extras to look for on Universal's forthcoming Saving Private Ryan: D-Day 60th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, which we mentioned yesterday. The 2-disc set will boast 5 featurettes (including A Look Inside with the Filmmakers, Looking Into the Past: The Research, the Vision and the Screenplay, The Making of a Platoon, Boot Camp for the Cast and Re-Creating D-Day: Omaha Beach). Additional features are TBA.

As we said yesterday, the 2-disc set will also be available in The World War II Collection box set, which will include two additional documentary DVDs. The Price for Peace: From Pearl Harbor to Iwo Jima DVD includes an introduction by Steven Spielberg, 5 featurettes (National D-Day Museum: An Introduction, Stephen Ambrose: About the War Experience, The National D-Day Museum Montage, Tom Brokaw Presents... Price for Peace and WWII Dog Handlers) and a photo gallery. The second DVD, Shooting War: World War II Combat Cameramen is a 2-hour documentary hosted by Tom Hanks. Here's the cover art for the box set and both bonus discs...

The World War II CollectionPrice for Peace: From Pearl Harbor to Iwo JimaShooting War: World War II Combat Cameramen

In other news, 20th Century Fox will release Ralph Bakshi's animated Wizards on May 25th. The film will be presented in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio. Extras will include audio commentary with Bakshi, the Ralph Bakshi: The Wizard of Animation featurette, 2 theatrical trailers, a TV spot, and a still gallery with some 300 images.

Here's the cover art for that, along with Fox's already announced Stuck on You (4/27) and Paramount's forthcoming movie-only release of The Godfather (street date TBA, due this spring). Note that the film is the exact same version as the one that appeared in The Godfather DVD Collection.

WizardsStuck on YouThe Godfather (movie-only)

We have word from Spacecraft Films that those two new From the NASA Archives DVDs, Apollo 15: Man Must Explore and The Mighty Saturns: Saturn V, will street on April 13th (distributed by Fox).

Also today, Universal will release The Chronicles of Riddick: Pitch Black (which we assume is a repackaging of the existing disc) on 6/1, followed by something called the The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury on 6/15. And for those of you into high-definition videotape, the studio will release About a Boy, American Pie 2, The Contender, Forces of Nature, The Mummy Returns and Notting Hill on D-VHS format on 3/23 (SRP $44.98 each).

Finally, as you know, the 76th Annual Academy Awards will be broadcast on Sunday evening. Our advice - either TiVo the damn thing so you can skip right to the good stuff, or pump up on coffee. 'Cause, you know, the show is like 18 hours long these days. May all your favorites win!

Back on Monday with several new DVD reviews. See you then!

2/26/04

Yes indeed, Steven Spielberg's World War II opus is returning to DVD on May 25th. The Saving Private Ryan: D-Day 60th Anniversary Commemorative Edition will be a 2-disc special edition (SRP $26.99) featuring many new extras (still TBA). The film will be anamorphic widescreen with both Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 audio. The set will also be available in The World War II Collection with two additional war films/documentaries on disc (Price for Peace and Shooting War) and a collectible book (SRP $49.99). Here's the cover art for the 2-disc version...

The Saving Private Ryan: D-Day 60th Anniversary Commemorative EditionBubba Ho-Tep: Special EditionThe X-Files: The Complete Ninth Season

Yeah, that's also the cover art for MGM's Bubba Ho-Tep: Special Edition, which is also coming May 25th (SRP $27.98). Word is the disc is going to include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, three audio commentary tracks including one with director Don Coscarelli, one with cast members Bruce Campbell and Ossie Davis, and another with Campbell in character as Elvis, deleted scenes, several behind-the-scenes featurettes and interviews, and... you know... more.

We've also included the hot of the presses cover art for Fox's The X-Files: The Complete Ninth Season, which will conclude the series' release on DVD. There's no street date yet (rumor is it's not streeting until later in 2004 - we'd heard November, but that could get moved up). There's also no specific word on extras, but we're hoping the studio has something special in the works for the set.

Just for fun, here's a look at more cover art - Fox and Spacecraft Films' new From the NASA Archives DVDs, Apollo 15: Man Must Explore (6-discs) and The Mighty Saturns: Saturn V (3-discs). There's no specific street dates yet, but we'll post more details as they become available. We've also added Fox's cover artwork for The Grapes of Wrath, which streets on April 6th.

Apollo 15: Man Must ExploreThe Mighty Saturns: Saturn VThe Grapes of Wrath

Not done yet, folks! Warner has just announced a Tarzan Collection box set featuring 6 classic films for June 8th (SRP $59.92). Included will be Tarzan the Ape Man, Tarzan Escapes, Tarzan and His Mate, Tarzan Finds a Son, Tarzan's Secret Treasure and Tarzan's New York Adventure (1942). The films will be arranged 2 per disc, and the set will include a 4th disc of just special features, among with you'll find a feature-length documentary on Johnny Weissmuller and the history of the Tarzan character. Also coming on 6/8 are Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan and Tarzan, the Ape Man (1981).

Warner also has more great titles on the way in June, including Coupling: The Complete Third Season, The Emerald City of Oz, The Marvelous Land of Oz, Ozma of Oz, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and Manchester United: Play Like Champions (all on 6/1), and Last of the Summer Wine, Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Volume 2, Sealab 2021: Season 1, The Thin Blue Line and To the Manor Born: The Complete Series (all on 6/15).

Still not done - here's more new cover art. Street dates and features are all still TBA, but this is official art for Miramax's Cold Mountain, The Human Stain and The Station Agent.

Cold MountainThe Human StainThe Station Agent

By the way, Miramax is also working on a Trainspotting: Collector's Series DVD for June, and there DVD of Jackie Chan's Dragon Lord DVD coming as well.

Finally today, we've got even MORE cover art for you. The Upcoming DVD Cover Art section has been updated to include some 70 new scans, including the revised art for The Last Samurai. Enjoy!

Okay... we're really done now. So there. Stay tuned...

2/25/04

We've got a LOT of ground to cover today, so hold on tight!

First up, just a day after our Rumor Mill story, Warner Bros. has officially announced the DVD release of Around the World in 80 Days, Wyatt Earp and Enter the Dragon, all as 2-disc special editions, on May 18th (SRP $26.99 each).

Around the World in 80 Days will be presented in its original, uncut 182-minute version. Extras will include introductions by film historian Robert Osborne, audio commentary by BBC Radio's Brian Sibley, Georges Melies' original 1902 A Trip to the Moon, outtakes, a stills gallery, the 1956 original and 1983 reissue theatrical trailers, the 1968 Around the World of Mike Todd documentary (narrated by Orson Welles), experts from Playhouse 90's Around the World in 90 Minutes, 1957 Academy Awards highlights, newsreel footage from the film's the Los Angeles premiere and the opening in Spain, and a DVD-ROM link to Michael Todd's Around the World in 80 Days Almanac.

Wyatt Earp will include 11 deleted scenes, the vintage Walk with a Legend documentary and the newly-produced It Happened that Way documentary.

Finally, Enter the Dragon will include audio commentary by producer Paul Heller, the Blood and Steel: The Making of Enter the Dragon documentary, the vintage Bruce Lee: In His Own Words featurette, a Linda Lee Cadwell "interview gallery", the Lair of the Dragon featurette (which includes a Backyard Workout with Bruce Lee), the vintage Bruce Lee: A Warrior's Journey and Curse of the Dragon documentaries, theatrical trailers and TV spots.

Warner has also finally announced the DVD release of The Jetsons and Jonny Quest! Both titles will street on May 11th (SRP $64.92). The Jetsons: The Complete First Season will feature all 24 episodes on 4 discs. Extras will include audio commentary by Janet Waldo (Judy Jetson) on 2 episodes, 3 featurettes (The Jetsons: Family of the Future, Space Age Gadgets and Rosie the Robotic Maid) and more. Jonny Quest: The Complete First Season will feature 26 episodes on 4 discs, and will include featurettes on the animators among other extras. Can't wait! Here's the cover artwork...

The Jetsons: The Complete First SeasonJonny Quest: The Complete First SeasonRobocop Trilogy Box Set

As you might have guessed by now, MGM's has announced a Robocop Trilogy box set for release on June 8th (SRP $36.96), featuring a Robocop: Extended Version, as well as both sequels (all remastered in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio). Extras will include deleted scenes, audio commentary, 3 featurettes, storyboards, photo galleries and more.

MGM will also release Deja Vu, Dream Lover, For Queen & Country, Masquerade, Perfect Strangers and Special Effects on June 1st, Robocop 2 and Robocop 3 (separate editions) on June 8th, and The Belly of an Architect, John Huston's Moulin Rouge, Prick Up Your Ears, The Raggedy Rawney, The Wedding Banquet and The Wild Party on June 15th.

And if you think that's cool, we've got more information on in-the-works MGM titles in The Rumor Mill this morning, along with word on Trekkies 2 and Starship Troopers 2 as well.

Now then... this is either going to excite you, or piss you off, depending. But word from HMV is that Universal is releasing a Kill Bill: Volume 1 - Premium Box in Japan on April 16th (Universal owns the international release rights to the title). The set is limited to 30,000 copies (6,840 yen). The video will be anamorphic widescreen (Region 2 coded) with audio in English and Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1, as well as English DTS 5.1 (with English and Japanese subtitles). The set will apparently include a "murder bride" Be@rbrick figure, an Okinawa T-shirt (size large), a Hattori-Hanzo replica sword (1/10 scale) and a 24-page booklet. Click here for a look at the set at the HMV website. It's probably the exact same disc as we're getting in R1, but those swag items are really going to appeal to some fans. Thanks to Mark W. of newmusicmachine.com for the details.

Finally today, we've got a pair of cool pictures for you from a special event held by Paramount last Thursday night at the California Science Center. The event was to honor the U.S. space program and the folks at NASA, and to help launch Star Trek: Voyager on DVD. The top picture features Voyager stars Ethan Phillips, Tim Russ, Garrett Wang and Robert Picardo with shuttle astronaut Dr. Janice Voss, while the second is astrophysicist Dr. Sallie Baliunas, Voss and Majel Roddenberry. You can read more about the event at the NASA website and Star Trek.com.

Voyager stars Ethan Phillips, Tim Russ, Garrett Wang and Robert Picardo with shuttle astronaut Dr. Janice Voss.

Dr. Sallie Baliunas, Voss and Majel Roddenberry.

Okay... I'd say that's pretty good for one day! We've got another Upcoming DVD Cover Art update coming tomorrow, and we have more reviews on the way as well later in the week. Stay tuned!


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