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page updated: 4/21/04



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 4/8/04 - 3/18/04)


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(LATE UPDATE - 4/8/04 - 4 PM PDT)

We've got something VERY interesting for you Star Wars fans this afternoon. Do check out The Rumor Mill, won't you? ;-)

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 4/8/04 - 12:30 PM PDT)

This is just a quick update for now, to let you know about a few new announcements.

First up, Warner Bros. has announced a 5-disc 50th Anniversary of Rock and Roll box set for release on 6/29, which will include all 10 hours of VH-1's History of Rock and Roll documentary (SRP $99.98). The set will feature collectible packaging with a metallic embossed outer cover, as well as a 24-page booklet.

In other news, 20th Century Fox has announced M*A*S*H: The Complete Sixth Season for release on 6/8. The set will include all 24 episodes on 3 discs (SRP $39.98).

Buena Vista will release the Bad-er Santa: Unrated Version (to go with the R-rated edition) on 6/22.

Just FYI, the Schindler's List: Collector's Gift Set now sells for the lower price of $34.98 (SRP).

Stay tuned...

4/7/04

Afternoon, folks! We've got a bunch more interesting stuff for you today, so let's get right to it. First up, some new announcements.

Buena Vista has finally revealed a few more "movie showcase" titles that are headed to DVD in August (street date 8/3). These include The Black Hole, Jack, The Shaggy D.A. and The Shaggy Dog. No word yet on extras.

Criterion has announced more titles for June release to DVD. Look for Jean-Luc Godard's A Woman is a Woman (catalog # 238), Pier Paolo Pasolini's Mamma Roma (#236) and Akira Kurosawa's The Lower Depths (#239 - which had original been slated for release late in 2003). Note that The Lower Depths will also include the Renoir version as well. The street date for all 3 is 6/22.

MGM has officially announced the DVD release of the Barbershop 2: Special Edition for 6/29 (SRP $19.95). The disc will include deleted scenes, outtakes, cast audio commentary, 2 music videos and more.

HBO will release George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh's political insider series K Street on 7/20 (SRP $24.98). The 2-disc set will include the entire series, plus extras.

Docurama will deliver the Academy Award-nominated documentary The Weather Underground to DVD on 5/25 (SRP $24.95). Extras will include commentary with former Weathermen Bernardine Dorn and Bill Ayers, filmmaker commentary, original Weatherman audio "communiques" and more. THAT should be a fascinating package. Matt and I saw the film recently, and it's pretty compelling to say the least.

And here's my favorite new announcement of the day - Artisan/Lion's Gate (actually just Lion's Gate, since it took over Artisan recently) will release the Speed Racer: Limited Collector's Edition, Volume 2 on DVD on 5/18 (SRP $22.98). This will pick up where the previous volume left off, offering the next 12 episodes of the classic Japanese animated series in order (specifically episodes 12-23) in their original full frame video with Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio. The disc will arrive in collectable packaging that, at the touch of a button, plays the Speed Racer theme song and features illuminating Mach V headlights. That's great news, but my message to the folks at Lion's Gate is PLEASE release these sets at a better rate than one per year! There are 52 episodes in all, so at the current rate it will take 2 or 3 more years to get them all on disc! There's no reason these can't come out faster. Anyway, I can't wait for this one. I've been watching reruns of this show on the Speed Channel lately - I'm addicted.

Anyway, here's cover art for Speed Racer, plus revised art for The Station Agent (6/15), and the aforementioned A Woman is a Woman, Mamma Roma, The Lower Depths and The Weather Underground...

Speed Racer: Limited Collector's Edition, Volume 2The Station AgentA Woman is a Woman (Criterion)

Mamma Roma (Criterion)The Lower Depths (Criterion)The Weather Underground

In terms of reviews today, Adam Jahnke has taken a look back at a title Universal released last year - 2 Fast 2 Furious. Also, Matt Rowe's given Sanctuary's The Allman Brothers Band: Live at The Beacon Theatre DVD a spin on your behalf.

Finally today, we're very pleased to welcome back our own Robert A. Harris! Robert's work in the film industry has kept him pretty busy these last few months, but he's just checked in again with a new Yellow Layer Failure column. In this edition, Robert takes a look back at some of the great DVDs that have streeted while he's been away - titles that are definitely worth a look on disc. Don't miss it!

Back tomorrow with more. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 4/6/04 - 1 PM PDT)

We're back as promised this afternoon with Todd's latest Weekly Release Roundup, which runs down the many great titles hitting store shelves this week. Don't miss it!

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 4/6/04 - 11 AM PDT)

We have even more detailed information from retail sources this morning on the content to be included on Disc Four of the Star Wars Trilogy (due 9/21). According to FYE, the disc will include:

Star Wars: The Independent Films feature length documentary - The story of Star Wars is the story of the most successful independent series film ever produced. It's the story of a Hollywood outsider named George Lucas and a low-budget labor of love space saga that defied the odds and reinvented the rules. It's the story of a revolution born of a dream. It's the story of an independent filmmaker who had to innovate and invent an entirely new way of creating motion pictures. It's the story of a fundamental paradigm shift in the creative process made, not by the studio system, but by a single filmmaker with a simple dream. (150 min.)

The Evolution of Characters featurette - Get an in-depth look at how all your favorite characters came to be with exclusive concept art and discussion with George and the people who shaped what ultimately became our favorite heroes and villains. Includes a separate still/video gallery cut to Star Wars music with access to artwork and classic scenes for each major character. (30 min.)

The Influence of Star Wars featurette - The groundbreaking special effects that were pioneered to make Star Wars movies not only helped viewers escape to a galaxy far, far away, but they changed the way every movie was made thereafter. Experience never before seen effects innovations from the films and learn how pivotal the films were to modern effects wizards and filmmakers. (20 min.)

Lightsabers/Fights featurette - Forget laser pistols, the lightsaber is the coolest weapon in the Star Wars galaxy. What were George's influences for creating the lightsaber? How did Mark Hamill, Alec Guiness, and Darth Vader stunt people approach wielding a saber? How did the effects guys figure out the lightsaber beam? How did each fight escalate from the previous one? And what influences did this creation have on movies thereafter? (10 min.)

1977 Featurette - Transport people back in time to the opening of each Star Wars film. Menus will showcase all the pop culture features from the 1977 opening such as: TV references, toy ads, promotional partner commercials, news clips, songs inspired by Star Wars, Star Wars magazine and newspaper coverage, classic video game demos. (20 min.)

Star Wars Battlefront X-Box Video Game Demo (15 min.)

Teasers and Trailers from the original theatrical releases of each of the movies along with the 1997 re-releases. (15 min.)

TV Spots from the original theatrical releases of the movies along with the 1997 re-releases (5 min.)

Episode III Behind the Scenes Preview -- Section One: The Creator - Finally the birth of Vader. George talks about finally bringing Vader back to the series and teases about Anakin's descent to the Dark Side and the powers of seduction in play. Section Two: The Costume - Black is back. For the last Star Wars movie ever and the birth of the ultimate villain, a new costume was forged. This segment answers some key questions: who created it? was it made for Hayden? Section Three: The Actors - Finally I get to become Vader. Key interviews with the cast (including Hayden) and crew sharing their thoughts and experiences about working on the last Star Wars film and finally seeing the completion of the Saga. (10 min.)

Stills - A comprehensive gallery of posters from around the world, classic artwork, and never-before-seen photos from all three films (approximately 300 images.)

DVD-ROM Features - DVD ROM link to exclusive Star Wars website.

So there you go... certainly sounds interesting. By the way, each of the movie discs will also reportedly include a credit roll Easter egg. Just so you know, all of this does jibe with what we've heard from other retailers recently, so it sounds like the real deal. Throw in the audio commentaries we've reported on previously, and you've got a nice little package.

In other news today, you Farscape fans can rejoice a little. The 4-hour mini-series Farscape: Peacekeeper War will debut on the SciFi Channel this fall. Dumb f__ks never should have cancelled it in the first place. Guess Tremors: The Series didn't quite fill the void. Read more here.

In terms of DVD announcements, Columbia TriStar will release 50 First Dates on 6/15 (SRP $28.95). Extras will include deleted scenes, a blooper reel, behind-the-scenes featurettes and audio commentary from Adam Sandler and director Peter Segal.

Also, be aware that HBO will release Da Ali G Show: The Complete First Season on 7/20 (SRP $29.95). Extras will include additional scenes, audio commentary on episodes 1 & 2, the Ali G Spyz Movie featurette, an interview with Ali G, the Ali G glossary and a View-by-Character feature.

We have an adjustment to the Contests to report this morning. Warner has asked us to suspend the Matrix and Gothika contests for now for some unknown reason, so we have. Sorry for the inconvenience. We've also added 20th Century Fox's Cheaper by the Dozen to the list of win-able titles. Just FYI.

Back with more in a little while, including Todd's Weekly Roundup. Stay tuned...

4/5/04

Morning, Bits-ers. Everyone remember to set your clocks ahead this weekend? We've got a bunch of stuff for you this morning, so fill your coffee mug and off we go!

First up... we've got three new disc reviews for you to check out today. Rob Hale has delivered his thoughts on Ar-nuld in Pumping Iron: The 25th Anniversary Special Edition. Over at out TAP site, Matt's posted his take on one of my favorite albums, Roxy Music's Avalon, on high-resolution SACD. Reviewer George Bennett's given The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds a spin on DVD-Audio format as well.

You might be interested to know that Columbia TriStar wants your opinion on their forthcoming Spider-Man DVD releases. They've posted an online survey with all sorts of questions on the new Spider-Man: Deluxe Edition as well as the eventual Spider-Man 2 DVD. Be sure to check it out. Thanks to Bits reader Scott D. for the link.

Also today, we're very pleased to present a brand new special feature for you! Our old friend David Prior, who you may remember as the producer of the awesome 2-disc Flight Club: Special Edition (see our in-depth interviews on that title here), has been hard at work on yet another great DVD release of a Fincher film. David's spent the two years putting together the fantastic 3-disc Panic Room: Special Edition, which is now in stores from Columbia TriStar. He's created a production journal covering his work on the title, and we've got Part One of the journal for you here. We'll post Part Two, along with a review of the DVD itself, in the days ahead. Enjoy!

We've posted no less than FOUR new Contests this morning, giving you all the chance to win some really great DVDs. You'll have a shot at taking home one of five copies (each) of Warner's Friends: The Complete Seventh Season and Kung Fu: The Complete First Season, as well as Shout! Factory's Freaks and Geeks: The Complete Series and... for the ladies... Buena Vista's Hope Springs (click on the titles to go to the individual contests). The contests will run until Noon PDT on Saturday, April 10th, so get your entries in!

Finally this morning, a quick update to a couple of the street dates we posted in The Rumor Mill on Thursday. We've been told that MGM's Barbershop 2 has been moved to 6/29 (from 6/8), while their Agent Cody Banks 2 will now street on 7/29 (bumped from 7/13). Just FYI.

Stay tuned...

4/2/04

First things first today - we've got more Star Wars DVD news for you. Specifically, we've got a list of what may be actual supplements on the set's 4th disc, which will contain all of the bonus material. According to the listing for the title on the Best Buy.com website, Disc Four will contain the feature-length Star Wars: The Independent Films documentary, 3 production featurettes (including The Evolution of Characters, The Influence of Star Wars and Lightsabers/Fights), a vintage 1977 "making of" featurette, a comprehensive gallery of posters and production artwork and the Star Wars: Battlefront Xbox videogame demo. Hhmmmm... not sure what to think. We'll have to see if and when Lucasfilm and Fox confirm this. Anyway, thanks to an anonymous Bits reader for the heads-up.

Now then... not a day after we mentioned it in The Rumor Mill (as coming this Fall), MGM has officially announced the DVD release of The Manchurian Candidate: Special Edition, with an earlier than expected street date of 7/13. The disc will carry an SRP of $14.95, and will include the film in anamorphic widescreen video, with audio in Dolby Digital 5.1 and mono. Extras will include audio commentary with director John Frankenheimer, the Exclusive Interview with Frank Sinatra, George Axelrod and John Frankenheimer featurette, the Queen of Diamonds featurette interview with Angela Lansbury, the A Little Solitaire featurette interview with William Friedkin on Frankenheimer, 2 Easter eggs, an animated photo gallery and the theatrical trailer.

In another Rumor Mill confirmation, MGM has also announced the DVD release of The Charlie Chan Chanthology 6-disc set on 7/6 (SRP $69.96). The set will include the films The Chinese Cat, Charlie Chan in the Secret Service, The Jade Mask, Meeting at Midnight, The Shanghai Cobra and The Scarlet Clue, all of which will also be available separately for $14.95 each. All are in their original full frame aspect ratio with mono audio.

Confirmed for 7/27 by MGM are Gerry Anderson's Thunderbirds Are Go! and Thunderbird 6. The films are available separately or together in an International Rescue Edition gift set. Both films are in anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1 and mono audio. Extras on Thunderbirds Are Go! will include audio commentary with director David Lane and producer Sylvia Anderson, the History and Appeal documentary, the Factory of Dolls and Rockets and Epics in Miniature featurettes, a trivia quiz, 2 Easter eggs, an animated photo gallery and the theatrical trailer. Thunderbird 6 will also feature audio commentary with director David Lane and producer Sylvia Anderson, along with the Lady Penelope, Building Better Puppets and Tiger Moth featurettes, a trivia quiz, 2 Easter eggs, an animated photo gallery and the theatrical trailer.

And announced for 7/6 by MGM are a number of comedy "classics" including Kotch (letterboxed widescreen), Take the Money and Run (full frame), Lovers and Other Strangers (full frame) and Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came? (letterboxed widescreen). All feature mono audio (SRP $14.95 each).

Now then... around the site today, we've updated all of the DVD stats we track (above), including the CEA DVD Player Sales data.

And finally today, our own Adam Jahnke has delivered a new Bottom Shelf column this morning, featuring DVD reviews of no less than FIVE 2-disc special editions released by Warner Bros. in the last few months. These include Singin' in the Rain, JFK: Director's Cut, The Right Stuff, The Color Purple and One Flew Over the Cockoo's Nest. Enjoy!

We've got some great stuff coming next week, including a long-awaited new Yellow Layer Failure column from our own Robert A. Harris, a special feature on a new DVD release and lots more reviews. So have a great weekend and we'll see you Monday!

(LATE UPDATE - 4/1/04 - 1 PM PST)

Okay... we've finally figured out the deal with Columbia TriStar's forthcoming Spider-Man: Deluxe Edition (due on 6/1 for SRP $24.95). When we first posted the disc specs, a lot of you complained that it was identical to the original 2-disc special edition. That's because the 2-disc special edition that was already released IS included in the new deluxe edition. BUT... you also get a 3rd disc of all new, never-before-seen bonus features, including a sneak peak at Spider-Man 2, multiple playable levels of the new Spider-Man 2 videogame from Activision, and more (TBA). You'll also get a free movie ticket to see Spider-Man 2. We should also point out that the Spider-Man: Superbit edition streeting on 6/1 will include an exclusive audio commentary with star Toby Maguire. So if you want to get everything, you'll have to buy both titles... AND you'll be re-buying a disc you already own. Commence the angry e-mailing.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 4/1/04 - Noon PST)

No kidding... we have a few Star Wars Trilogy details direct from Fox (confirmed at this link from Amazon). Disc One of the 4-disc set will include Star Wars IV: A New Hope with audio commentary by creator/director George Lucas, Ben Burtt, Dennis Muren, and Carrie Fisher. Disc Two will feature Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back with audio commentary by creator/producer George Lucas, director Irvin Kershner, Lawrence Kasdan, Ben Burtt, Dennis Muren and Carrie Fisher. Disc Three will include Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi with audio commentary by creator/producer George Lucas, Lawrence Kasdan, Ben Burtt, Dennis Muren, and Carrie Fisher. And Disc Four will include "the most comprehensive feature-length documentary ever produced on the Star Wars saga; and never-before-seen footage from the making of all three films, and much more." Depending on which version of the set you buy, you'll get the films in either anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) or cropped full frame (both THX certified), with audio in English Dolby Digital 5.1 EX and Dolby 2.0 Surround, as well as Spanish and French Dolby 2.0 Surround, and English subtitles. And that's the end of what we know for sure at the moment. Still, not bad. One would hope that maybe Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford would chime in a little on the audio commentary as well. We'll see...

Moving on today, 20th Century Fox has also officially announced the DVD release of Jumpin' Jack Flash and The Snake Pit (both 6/1), M*A*S*H: The Complete Sixth Season (6/8), The Simpsons: The Complete Fourth Season (6/15) and Garfield as Himself (6/29).

By the way, The Simpsons 4-disc set (SRP $49.98) will include commentary and "optional audio features" on Kamp Krusty, commentary, 4 deleted scenes (with optional play), Easter egg bonus commentary and sketches on Homer's Triple Bypass, commentary and Easter egg bonus commentary on Marge vs. the Monorail, commentary and 6 deleted scenes (with optional play) on The Front, commentary and Easter egg bonus sketches on Krusty Gets Kancelled, commentary on A Streetcar Named Marge, Homer the Heretic, Lisa the Beauty Queen, Treehouse of Horror III, Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie, Marge Gets a Job, Kid on the Block, Mr. Plow, Lisa's First Word, Selma's Choice, Brother from the Same Planet, I Love Lisa, Duffless, Last Exit to Springfield, So It's Come to This: A Simpsons Clip Show, Whacking Day and Marge in Chains, an Animation Showcase on each disc featuring picture-in-picture, storyboards, The Animatic (with or without "illustrated" commentary), A Word from Matt Groening, the promotional syndication reel, the Bush vs. Simpsons featurette, 1 color animation and 4 commercials. Video will be in the original full frame with audio in English Dolby Digital 5.1, and Spanish and French Dolby 2.0 Stereo.

Also today, MGM has finally announced a title that we revealed in The Rumor Mill a few weeks back. The Showgirls: VIP Edition box set will street on 7/27 in anamorphic widescreen video and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio (SRP $39.98). DVD extras will include a subtitle trivia track, the Lap Dance Tutorial Featuring the World-Famous Girls of Scores featurette, the Showgirls Diary animated storyboard-to-film comparison, audio commentary by Showgirls "expert" David Schmader and video commentary by the Scores girls on the "Cheetahs Club" scene. The box set will also include the Pin the Pasties on the Showgirl game (complete with blindfold, rules, 2 pasties and a poster pin-up of star Elizabeth Berkley), two Showgirls shot glasses, a deck of Showgirls playing cards, 6 photos of Berkley, and 4 party games (including Sip or Strip, Showgirls A to Z, Bad Tipper and Champagne Room). So basically this is your wholesome, family-friendly DVD release. I'm surprised it doesn't come with a bottle of Jack and a coupon for three free hours. Maybe that's in the Big Spenda Edition.

While we're on the subject of MGM, we've got a look at their Summer 2004 DVD plans in today's edition of The Rumor Mill. Some great titles in there, so don't miss it.

Finally today, we have word that Warner Bros will release Friends: The Series Finale on 5/11 (SRP $14.97), just 5 days after its NBC broadcast. The broadcast version of the 2-part episode will ONLY be available on this DVD, which will also include the series pilot episode, as well as the longer DVD version of the finale with additional, never-before-seen footage. You'll also get music videos for the Rembrandts' I'll Be There for You and the Flaming Lips' Phoebe Battles the Pink Robots.

By the way, we would caution you about believing anything you read on the Net today. There's about a million joke April Fool's DVD announcements, leaks and other silliness, and our e-mail boxes are full of people who actually seem to believe some of them. Seriously guys.

Back tomorrow with more DVD reviews from our own Adam Jahnke and maybe some cover art too. Stay tuned...

3/31/04

Well... this should come as no surprise to any of you, but Columbia TriStar has officially announced that it plans to support the Blu-ray Disc high-definition format with movie titles. The studio will begin launching all its new titles on Blu-ray Disc (which was co-developed by parent corp Sony) starting in 2006. In addition to this announcement, many of the major Hollywood studios are working behind-the-scenes with the Blu-ray Group on the final details of the format spec, as pertains to prepackaged films and other copyrighted material. Because of this, look for Blu-ray Disc's official launch to happen no sooner than the end of 2005, and probably early 2006. So where does this leave HD-DVD? Well... it looks like we're definitely going to have a format war, but I'll tell you, Blu-ray Disc definitely seems to have the upper hand at the moment. Frankly, I'm not so sure that isn't a bad thing. Blu-ray technology represents a somewhat more advanced approach to presenting high-definition video on disc than HD-DVD, and players for both formats are virtually guaranteed to be able to retroactively play all your existing DVD discs. One thing's for sure - the race is definitely going to heat up as we move through 2004. It'll be interesting to see where it all ends up. You can be sure The Bits will be there to cover it all.

In the mood for another new DVD review today? Good, 'cause Todd and I have laid out our thoughts on Quentin Tarantino's latest opus, Kill Bill, Volume 1, as delivered to disc by the folks at Miramax. Look for the DVD to street on April 13th, just a scant three days prior to the theatrical release of Kill Bill, Volume 2. Count us in.

By the way, this review takes us to a whopping 107 individual titles we've examined on DVD in the month of March, either separately in-depth, in one of our regular columns or in Todd's Weekly Roundup. Not too bad for government work.

Stay tuned...

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

We're back as promised, and we've got the latest installment of Todd's Weekly Release Roundup! Todd gives you his two cents on 21 new DVDs that hit store shelves this week, including some real gems like the awesome new Panic Room: Special Edition 3-disc set. As always, you can order (from Amazon) any of the titles profiled in the Roundup by clicking on the cover art.

Also today, we've have one more bit of upcoming DVD news. If you visit the official Bob and David website, you'll get the skinny on the forthcoming Mr. Show: The Complete Fourth Season, which is now in production for DVD release later this year. Bob, David and the whole Mr. Show gang just recorded new audio commentary for the set. Todd and I are very excited about this - we barely even knew there was a fourth season. Can't wait! Thanks to Bits reader Stephan F. for the heads-up!

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 3/30/04 - 12:01 AM PST)

Okay... we've got some big new announcements for you today. First up though... the Star Wars Trilogy is now officially available for pre-order at Amazon.com (SRP $69.98 - Amazon's price $41.99) for 9/21. Any purchase you make through our links to Amazon goes to support our work here at The Bits, so we appreciate it! FYI, the images below are the same widescreen version 4-disc set (you're seeing the front and the back of the package here).

Star Wars Trilogy (front side of widescreen packaging)Star Wars Trilogy (reverse side of widescreen packaging)

Now then... announcements. Let's start with Warner... the studio has finally revealed that they'll release Mystic River on DVD on 6/8, in no less than three different versions. You'll be able to buy single-disc standard versions in both full frame and anamorphic widescreen (SRP $27.95 each, in Snapper packaging), as well as a 3-disc deluxe edition (SRP $39.98, in Digi-pack packaging). The deluxe edition will contain the film in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, and audio commentary with Tim Robbins and Kevin Bacon on Disc One, the Beneath the Surface documentary on the making of the film, an episode of Bravo's From Page to Screen on the film, segments from the Charlie Rose Show including interviews with Clint Eastwood, Tim Robbins and Kevin Bacon, and the theatrical trailer on Disc Two, and the film's soundtrack on CD as Disc Three.

Also newly announced by Warner are Wonder Woman: The Complete First Season (6/29) and Everybody Loves Raymond: The Complete First Season (7/13). Wonder Woman will be a 3-disc set (SRP $39.98) containing all 14 first season episodes (actually 13 episodes and the 90-minute pilot) in their original full frame video with Dolby Digital mono audio. Extras will include audio commentary (with Lynda Carter and producer Douglas S. Cramer) and the Beauty, Brawn and Bulletproof Braclets: A Wonder Woman Retrospective featurette. Raymond will be a 5-disc set containing all 22 first season episodes we believe in widescreen video (but we have yet to confirm this) with Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround audio. Extras will include audio commentary with members of the cast and crew (specific participants TBA) and a behind-the-scenes featurette.

Now a bit of Columbia TriStar news. The studio has announced the DVD release of Just Shoot Me: The Complete First and Second Seasons (4 discs), Tour of Duty: The Complete First Season (5 discs) and Who's the Boss?: The Complete First Season (3 discs) all on 6/8. Also streeting on that day are Love Letters and Perfect Husband: The Laci Peterson Story (oh, how far Dean Cain's star has fallen). Just to confirm again, Monster will street from the studio on 6/1 in anamorphic widescreen, with a behind-the-scenes featurette and the theatrical trailer. The real life story that inspired the film is told in the Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer documentary, which will be available separately on 6/1 as well. If you'd care for a double feature, you'll also be able to buy both titles as a 2-pack.

Here's cover art for the widescreen standard and deluxe editions of Mystic River, Wonder Woman, Raymond, Monster and (my favorite of this batch) the Das Boot: Original Uncut Version (6/1):

Mystic River (widescreen standard)Mystic River: Deluxe Edition (3-discs)Wonder Woman: The Complete First Season

Everybody Loves Raymond: The Complete First SeasonMonsterDas Boot: Original Uncut Version

Also this morning, guest reviewer John D. Babcock III has given Shout! Factory's 3-disc The Jack Paar Collection a spin for you. Be sure to check out his thoughts.

Back with Todd's Weekly Release Roundup later this morning. Stay tuned...

3/29/04

We've got some great stuff for you today, from our very own Barrie Maxwell. First up, we've got the latest installment of Barrie's Classic Coming Attractions column, in which he follows up on detective series DVDs and runs down the latest classic release news.

Next, Barrie's reviewed three recent DVDs from the folks at Disney, including the Frank and Ollie: Special Edition, Walt Disney: The Man Behind the Myth and the Alice in Wonderland: Masterpiece Edition.

Finally, Barrie's conducted an interview with the director of Frank and Ollie, Ted Thomas.

No bad for one day, huh? Great work, Barrie!

Also this afternoon, we've kicked off 2 new Contests, giving each of you a chance to win a trio of great Zatoichi DVDs from our friends at AnimEigo (Zatoichi at Large, Zatoichi in Desperation and Zatoichi: The Festival of Fire), as well as Disney's Brother Bear: Special Edition and Winnie the Pooh: Springtime with Roo. Those Zatoichi titles aren't even available in stores yet! You've got until Noon PST on Saturday, April 3rd, so get your entries in!

We'll be back tomorrow with Todd's latest Weekly Release Roundup and more reviews.

Stay tuned...

3/26/04

Morning, folks! Hope you all are enjoying your day... and looking forward to a nice weekend off. As promised, we've got a new Upcoming DVD Cover Artwork update for you today. We've added more than 75 new cover scans, including such "hot off the presses" gems as the Ali: Director's Cut, all the Herbie the Love Bug sequels, revised Cold Mountain art, tons of new Criterion art, the new Cop Land: Director's Cut, Dead Like Me: Season One, the Star Wars Trilogy and much more.

In terms of new announcements, retail sources have been informed that Columbia TriStar will release Patty Jenkins' Monster, staring Charlize Theron, on June 1st.

New Line has also revealed that they'll release The Butterfly Effect: Infinifilm Edition on July 6th (SRP $27.95). The disc will include both the theatrical cut and a new director's cut in anamorphic widescreen video, with Dolby Digital 5.1 EX and DTS 6.1 ES audio. Extras will include audio commentary with the director and screenwriters, deleted/alternate scenes, featurettes on The Creative Process, Visual Effects, The Science and Psychology of the Chaos Theory and The History and Allure of Time Travel, a subtitle trivia track, a storyboard gallery and the theatrical trailer, in addition to DVD-ROM extras (including a script-to-screen feature of the director's cut, a commentary digest, a production gallery, "scene medleys" and weblinks). Here's the cover art for that...

The Butterfly Effect: Infinifilm EditionSamurai Trilogy box set (Criterion)Have Gun Will Travel: The Complete First Season

As you can see, we've also posted the cover art for Criterion's Samurai Trilogy box set (due on 5/4 - a classic trilogy of Japanese films that Todd's reviewed here), and Paramount's Have Gun Will Travel: The Complete First Season (5/11).

A couple of other announcements for you today - Artisan's Speed Racer: Collector's Edition - Volume 2 is expected to street on May 18th. And we have word that Fox's The Simpsons: The Complete Fourth Season is due on June 15th.

Also today, our MusicTAP crew has kicked out another new DVD-Audio review... The Flaming Lips' Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots from Warner Music. As you'll see, this release not only sounds great, but features a truly surprising amount of extras, beyond the actual album itself. It's definitely worth a look for high-resolution audio fans.

And that's it for today. Next week, we've got a great new Classic Coming Attractions from Barrie, a new Weekly Roundup from Todd, a great special feature story, and plenty of news and DVD reviews. So don't miss it!

Have a great weekend and we'll see you on Monday!

3/25/04

We've got a couple of things for you today, and then we're doing a lot of behind the scenes work here at the site - archiving, etc - to get ready for a big cover artwork post tomorrow, and great new columns and special features for next week.

First up, the Star Wars Trilogy is finally listed at Amazon.com for 9/21. It's not available for pre-order yet, but we expect it to be soon. Just FYI.

In terms of new announcements today, Warner Bros. has officially revealed its Blazing Saddles: 30th Anniversary Special Edition for release on 6/29 (SRP $19.97). The disc will include anamorphic widescreen video (2.40:1), Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, scene-specific audio commentary by director Mel Brooks, a cast and crew reunion documentary, the Intimate Portrait: Madeline Kahn Remembers featurette, the 1975 Black Bart TV pilot inspired by the film and "additional" scenes. How's about some more beans, Mr. Taggart?

Also coming from Warner on 6/29 are Brooks' Dracula: Dead and Loving It (SRP $19.97) and the animated X-Men Evolution: Enemies Unveiled (SRP $14.97). Following on 7/27 are the BBC's original mini-series Pennies from Heaven (SRP $59.98) and the 1981 Steve Martin film version of Pennies from Heaven (SRP $19.97) it inspired.

Also, Buena Vista has announced the DVD release of The Barbarian Invasions for 7/13 (SRP $29.99).

Around the site today, we've updated all of the DVD format stats we track with the most recent data, including the CEA DVD Player Sales chart and top disc sales and rental listings (above). We've also updated our mirror copy of Jim Taylor's Official DVD FAQ to its most recent version (dated March 21st).

And if you check out our Review section, you'll notice that we've significantly revised the index of all the titles we've reviewed on The Digital Bits. On the left-hand side of the page, we list all of the most recent, in-depth DVD reviews we've done. On the right-hand side, we're now listing all of the titles covered in the last 30 days of Todd's Weekly Release Roundup. Beneath that, as always, we list the most recent DVD-Audio, SACD and D-VHS title reviews we've done here at The Bits and at our MusicTAP site. Finally, we've added two new categories to our complete review index at the top of the page - Misc. (covering products, laserdiscs, etc) and Audio (a complete listing of all DVD-Audio, SACD and other audio format reviews). This should make it easier for you to quickly find titles that you might be looking for. In the coming weeks, we're going to be restoring the search functions to the site as well.

Finally this morning, here's a look at the cover art for Blazing Saddles, Paramount's Survivor: The Complete First Season - Broneo (5/11), and Fox's forthcoming The Simpsons: The Complete Fourth Season (TBA)...

Blazing Saddles: 30th Anniversary Special EditionSurvivor: The Complete First Season - BroneoThe Simpsons: The Complete Fourth Season

Stay tuned...

3/24/04

We'll be back with more later, but first we wanted to check in with word that Universal has officially announced the DVD release of The A-Team: Season One for June 8th. No kidding. The 4-disc set will include all 14 episodes from the show's first season (SRP $59.98) in their original full frame video and Dolby Digital 2.0 mono audio. Just FYI, Uni has also announced Eurotrip for June 1st.

Also this morning, Warner Bros. has moved up the street date for their Smallville: The Complete Second Season to May 18th. The set had previously been scheduled to street on May 25th. So a bit of good news for you Krypton-ites.

Since we're on the TV subject, we should also mention that Shout! Factory and Sony Music are releasing a Punky Brewster: Season One 4-disc set on June 1st (SRP $34.98). The set will include all 23 first-season episodes, 4 episodes of the animated spin-off It's Punky Brewster and interviews with actors Cherie Johnson and Ami Foster, creator/executive producer David W. Duclon and writer Barry Vigon (guess Soleil Moon what's her name wasn't available).

Okay, so let's see if we've got this straight. Punky Brewster's on the way to DVD... and STILL we wait for The Greatest American Hero, Get Smart and Lancelot Link? Gaahhh!

DVD can be such a cruel mistress.

Anyway, here's cover art for HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Second Season (6/15), Universal's animated prequel Van Helsing: The London Assignment (5/11) and... wait for it... The A-Team. We pity the fool.

Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Second SeasonVan Helsing: The London AssignmentThe A-Team

One last note... some of you have asked about the specs on Columbia TriStar's Ali: Director's Cut (6/1). So here goes. The film itself will run 165 minutes. Look for anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, audio commentary with director Michael Mann and The Making of Ali documentary.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 3/23/04 - NOON PST)

We've very excited to say that entertainment wire editor Randy A. Salas has recommended our new DVD book, The Digital Bits: Insider's Guide to DVD, in today's issue of the Minneapolis Star Tribune! You can read his thoughts in print on page E3 (in the Extras column), and at this link online. We've also got a scan of the print version here. Our sincere thanks, Randy - we're very glad you liked it!

Also today, we know how much you guys love it, so we're pleased to bring you another edition of Todd Doogan's Weekly Release Roundup. As always, Todd runs down the best of the DVD releases that arrive on store shelves this week, and tells you what you can expect from each. Enjoy!

Finally this afternoon, we've got a new DVD review from our old friend Brad Pilcher. Brad's taken a closer look at Universal's new Beyond the Mat: Ringside Special Edition - Unrated Director's Cut. Don't miss it.

Back tomorrow. Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 3/23/04 - 12:01 AM PST)

We've got a little bit more Star Wars news for you this morning. Variety is reporting that producer Kevin Burns has been tapped to create the new feature-length documentary on the creation of the Star Wars films for the upcoming DVD release. Other such projects Burns has been involved in include the DVD documentaries Cleopatra: The Film That Changed Hollywood and Marilyn Monroe: The Final Days. Given that the set streets in (almost exactly) 6 months, Burns had better get busy. You know... I wonder if someone else wasn't already working on the documentary but fell out of favor, making Burns a replacement. That's just my own speculation, however I find it hard to believe that work wasn't already in progress before now, what with schedules being as tight as they are. It's either that, or Lucasfilm hired Burns months ago and is just announcing it now. Anyway, I imagine a lot of people will be curious to see what Burns comes up with. It's safe to say, there's a LOT riding on this release for fans.

Columbia TriStar has announced some very exciting new DVD releases for June 1st. Look for The Company, Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation - Special Edition, Spider-Man: Superbit, Spider-Man: Deluxe Edition, Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles - Trackers, Ali: Director's Cut, J.W. Coop, Spider-Man: The New Animated Series - The Mutant Menace, Spider-Man: The New Animated Series - High Voltage Villains, Spider-Man: The New Animated Series - The Ultimate Face-Off and Das Boot: The Original Uncut Version. The studio will release separate movie-only versions of The Gods Must Be Crazy and The Gods Must Be Crazy II on 6/1 as well. That's a SERIOUS batch of titles for one day.

Want some specifics? Disc One of the Spider-Man: Deluxe Edition will feature anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, a subtitle trivia track, audio commentary (with director Sam Raimi, star Kirsten Dunst, producer Laura Ziskin and co-producer Grant Curtis), a second commentary (with special effects designer John Dykstra and members of the visual effects crew), branching "web-i-sodes", the Hero and What We're All About music videos, trailers and TV spots, and DVD-ROM extras including a comic-to-film comparison, the ability to record your own audio commentary, a countdown to Spider-Man 2 and weblinks. Disc Two will add HBO's The Making of Spider-Man special, the Spider-Mania: An E! Entertainment Special, the Director Profile: Sam Raimi and Composer Profile: Danny Elfman featurettes, screen test footage for Tobey Maguire, J.K. Simmons and the CGI Spider-Man character, costume and makeup tests, a gag/outtake reel and a conceptual art and production design gallery.

The Spider-Man: Superbit Edition will be a movie-only release featuring the film in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 audio tracks.

And the Das Boot: The Original Uncut Version will be a 2-disc set featuring the original mini-series version that was produced for German TV broadcast in 1981 (running time: 293 minutes). The video will be anamorphic widescreen, with audio in English and German Dolby Digital (note that you'll get the restored original stereo audio as well as a newly created 5.1 mix - in GERMAN we hope). A behind-the-scenes featurette is also included. Can't WAIT for this!

Here's cover art for the two Spider-Man DVDs, as well as Starship Troopers 2...

Spider-Man: Deluxe EditionSpider-Man: Superbit EditionStarship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation - Special Edition

Moving on this morning, we've officially confirmed with Paramount that the following titles will street in June on DVD: Tupac: Resurrection, The Perfect Score, Back to the Beach, Funny About Love, Summer School, Goodbye, Columbus, The Day of the Locust, The President's Analyst, Fancy Pants, Here Comes the Groom/Just for You, The World of Suzie Wong, SpongeBob SquarePants: Sponge Guard on Duty, Dora the Explorer: Super Silly Fiesta, Reno 911!: The Complete First Season, South Park: The Complete Fourth Season, The Joe Schmo Show: Season One Uncensored, C.S.I. Miami: The Complete First Season, The Official 2004 NCAA Championship DVD, Rebels & Redcoats: How Britain Lost America (PBS), Liberty! The American Revolution (PBS) and Three Blind Mice.

In other news, not a day after we posted word of this in The Rumor Mill, we've gotten official confirmation from Buena Vista that Wave 2 of the Miyazaki Collection will street on August 31st. Miyazaki's Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind, Porco Rosso and My Neighbor Totoro will be released as 2-disc special editions (SRP $29.99 each). All three titles will feature newly produced English language voice tracks as well as the original Japanese audio. Also included will be complete storyboards, behind-the-scenes featurettes and more. All three films will be presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1 aspect ratio). My Neighbor Totoro and Porco Rosso will feature Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, while Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind will be mono.

And finally, we wanted to let you know, before you rush off to pick up Buena Vista's new Ransom and Splash special editions today, that Ransom is NOT presented in anamorphic widescreen. It's just letterboxed only - the same transfer that was on the original DVD release (can you say "lame-ass"?). So buyer beware. Just FYI, Splash IS anamorphic.

Back later with more, including Todd's Roundup. Stay tuned...

(LATELY UPDATE - 3/22/04 - 3:15 PM PST)

Just to let you all know, we've kicked off three new Contests today, giving you a chance to win great new DVDs from BBC, Buena Vista and Anchor Bay. Get your entries in quick!

Back tomorrow with Todd's latest Weekly Roundup! Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 3/22/04 - 12:01 AM PST)

Well... it's early, and we haven't heard any official word from 20th Century Fox or Lucasfilm yet, but the cover artwork is all over the Net this weekend, so we're going to post it here now. This was made available on Friday as a Star Wars.com Hyperspace exclusive. We expect the title to be available for pre-order later today. Anyway, as you might have guessed, here's the final cover art for the Star Wars Trilogy 4-disc DVD box set, due on September 21st. As you can see, the widescreen version is platinum colored, while the full frame is gold. You're looking the front side, and then the reverse side, of the packaging (note the 3-D views below)...

Star Wars Trilogy (front side of widescreen packaging)Star Wars Trilogy (reverse side of widescreen packaging)Lord of the Rings: Return of the King 2-disc (revised packaging)

Star Wars Trilogy (3-D view of widescreen packaging)

Star Wars Trilogy (3-D view of full frame packaging)

Whatever new details become available about the set's contents today, if any, we'll let you know.

As you may have noticed (see above), we've posted the revised cover artwork for New Line's The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King 2-disc theatrical edition (due May 25th). The only change is a note (on the bottom of the cover) about the film's 11 Academy Award wins, including Best Picture.

Also today, we have new updates in The Rumor Mill featuring good news for you Seinfeld fans eagerly waiting for the forthcoming DVDs. There's also word on possible street dates for the next batch of Hayao Miyazaki DVDs from Miramax and Buena Vista. Don't miss it!

Stay tuned...

3/19/04

Yes, it's true. We expect to have final cover art for Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox's Star Wars Trilogy 4-disc box set on Monday, when the title become available for pre-order (for a 9/21 street date). But... if you're a paid member of Star Wars.com's Hyperspace fan club, you can sign in and see it right now. The packaging features a metallic slipcover, platinum for the widescreen editions and gold for the full frame, that's embossed on one side with the heroes of the original films (positioned to recall the original film's theatrical release poster), and on the other side with the mask of Darth Vader. This holds four keep cases (one each for the films and one for the bonus disc), the cover art for which is styled to match the previous Episode I and Episode II DVDs, so they'll all fit together on your video shelf. Anyway, with any luck, we'll have more details on the set's contents on Monday as well. So check back then.

Also today, I'm pleased as punch to say that Buena Vista and Miramax have FINALLY announced a disc I've personally been waiting a long time for, The English Patient: Miramax Collector's Series, for June 29th (SRP $29.99). The 2-disc set will feature the film in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include newly recorded audio commentary with director Anthony Minghella, a second commentary with the "filmmakers and members of the cast", a featurette on Michael Ondaatje (the writer of the original novel), the 24-minute A Passionate Journey documentary (ported from the Criterion laserdisc release), video interviews with Minghella, Ondaatje and producer Saul Zaentz, deleted scenes and more. In case you hadn't guessed, the 6/29 street date is shared with the release of Minghella's Cold Mountain on DVD.

Not much else to report today, so we'll leave you for the week with a new SACD review from our TAP crew... The Who's Tommy: Deluxe Edition. Just the ticket for all you high-resolution pinball wizards out there.

With that, have a great weekend. Go catch that new zombie movie. See you Monday!

(LATE UPDATE - 3/18/04 - NOON PST)

Looks we'll finally be able to cross another much-wanted DVD off our wish list. Warner Bros. has just announced the release of Jean-Jacques Annaud's The Name of the Rose, staring Sean Connery and Christian Slater, for July 6th (SRP $19.98). The disc will include both anamorphic widescreen and full frame transfers, plus Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.

Also on the way from Warner on July 6th is Red Sonja, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Brigitte Nielsen. Look for anamorphic widescreen video and Dolby Digital mono audio (SRP $14.97).

Meanwhile, Lion's Gate will release Girl with a Pearl Earring on May 4th, in anamorphic widescreen video and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio (SRP $26.98). Extras will include the Anatomy of a Scene featurette.

Due to street on June 29th from Buena Vista/Miramax is the Cold Mountain: Collector's Edition (SRP $29.99). Extras will include two audio commentary tracks (which director Anthony Mingella, stars Nicole Kidman and Jude Law, and editor Walter Murch), deleted scenes, a behind-the-scenes documentary, video of a live performance of some of the film's soundtrack music (featuring Alison Krauss, Sting and Jack White, along with readings from Kidman and Law), interviews with some of the musicians involved in the soundtrack, and storyboard-to-film comparisons.

Buena Vista/Miramax will also be releasing new special editions of Cop Land and Flirting with Disaster on June 1st (along with the Trainspotting: Special Edition we've mentioned before). The discs will include audio commentary, deleted scenes, interviews, outtakes and more. Trainspotting will SRP for $29.99, while the other two will SRP for $19.99 each.

Finally today, Columbia TriStar has announced the DVD release of Cruel Intentions 3, You Were Never Lovelier and the Underworld: Unrated Extended Cut 2-disc set, all for May 25th. The studio will also release a Spider-Man: Deluxe Edition on June 1st (SRP $24.95). Details are sketchy at the moment on Spider-Man, but one hopes it will finally be the in-depth, meaty special edition we all wanted in the first place. We do know that Columbia TriStar produced a wealth of extras that director Sam Raimi nixed for the original edition, so cross your fingers that they'll finally see the light of day. The release is timed to promote the arrival of Spider-Man 2 to theaters. We'll post details when we have them.

Here's the cover art for The Name of the Rose, Red Sonja, Girl with a Pearl Earring, Flirting with Disaster, Disney's The Lion King II: Simba's Pride - Special Edition (due August 31st) and Warner's 2-disc Enter the Dragon: Special Edition (due on May 18th):

The Name of the RoseRed SonjaGirl with a Pearl Earring

Flirting with DisasterThe Lion King II: Simba's Pride - Special EditionEnter the Dragon: Special Edition

Stay tuned...


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