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page updated: 7/14/04



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 6/29/04 - 6/14/04)


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6/29/04

Howdy, kids! How's your news? I don't know, for whatever reason I'm just in an irrationally good mood today. Best not to question it, right?

Todd's column will be a little late. It's his birthday, so you know... gotta cut him some slack. We'll probably post it tonight for tomorrow. He promises it'll be packed and so worth the wait.

Meanwhile, we've got a very cool announcement to make today. We're going to be back at ComicCon in San Diego this year! Todd and I will both be on hand for our DVD Producers 2004 panel discussion. Scheduled to participate with us this year are producers Charles de Lauzirika (Alien Quadrilogy, Spider-Man 2), J.M. Kenny (Footloose: SE, Troy), David Prior (Panic Room: SE, Master and Commander), Javier Soto (Devil's Backbone, Hellboy) and Robert Burnett (X2, The Chronicles of Narnia). We'll talk about the DVD format in general, our panelists will discuss projects they currently have in production, and we'll have LENGTHY Q&A with the audience. We're even going to give away a DVD player and great movie discs. This is your chance to ask questions and give feedback to the people behind some of your favorite DVD special editions. The panel will be held on Thursday, July 22nd from 1:30 to 3:00 PM at the San Diego Convention Center (Room 6AB). We're told that no MAJOR events are going on at the same time as us this year, so you don't have to worry about missing Lucasfilm's Star Wars panel or anything. Better still, we're told that right after us, in the very same room, some of the producers and cast of Freaks and Geeks will be on hand to talk about their recent (and amazing) DVD release of the complete series. It's going to be a lot of fun, so if you're a DVD fan and you're going to be in the area, you don't want to miss it. Hell, it's only going to be Doogan's second public appearance as a Bits co-editor in like 7+ years, so you can't miss that, right? We hope to see you all there!

Now then... we've got some great new Paramount art to show you today - Happy Days: The Complete First Season, Laverne & Shirley: The Complete First Season (both 8/17) and Star Trek: The Next Generation - Jean-Luc Picard Collection (8/3)...

Happy Days: The Complete First SeasonLaverne & Shirley: The Complete First SeasonStar Trek: The Next Generation - Jean-Luc Picard Collection

We've also got a line on MGM's catalog DVD release slate for October. Look for Stargate: SG-1 - Season 7, Alexander the Great, the Species: Special Edition, Charly, The Garden of Allah, I'll Be Seeing You, Intermezzo, Made for Each Other, Portrait of Jennie, Michael Crichton's Pursuit, Ruby Gentry, Since You Went Away, Straw Dogs, They Shoot Horses, Don't They? and The Young in Heart, all on 10/19. MGM has also added two new titles for September - Bookies and two special edition versions of Soul Plane, the theatrical edition and an unrated edition. Look for both titles on 9/7.

Over at his Cartoon Brew website, Jerry Beck (one of the main creative forces behind Warner's Golden Age of Looney Tunes DVDs) has confirmed that the second set of classic shorts will street sometime in November. Slide on down to the bottom of the page for his brief comments. Jerry does a helluva job on these, so we can't wait! Thanks to Bits reader Scott G. for that link.

We've got another look at a new DVD-Audio disc for you from our TAP crew today - Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells 2003. Thanks to reviewer George Bennett for that.

One last comment today - a number of readers have reacted to our report on the possible forthcoming Universal special edition of David Lynch's Dune (from The Rumor Mill yesterday). They've reminded us that Lynch has commented many times that he never wants to touch the film again, and that he hates it. That's absolutely correct of course, but it's really a shame. If ever a film deserved the kind of in-depth, special edition treatment Criterion gave to Terry Gilliam's Brazil, it's Lynch's Dune. Even if it is terribly flawed, it's an amazing conceptual piece of work. It's also a fascinating study of a troubled production. Like Brazil and David Fincher's Alien³, it deserves serious examination on DVD. We hope it receives just that someday. Anyway, just our two cents.

Stay tuned...

6/28/04

We've got a lot of interesting ground to cover today, so let's get started with the big news. Warner Bros. has announced the anniversary DVD re-release of The Shawshank Redemption for 10/5 in two separate versions. First up is the 2-disc The Shawshank Redemption: Special Edition (SRP $26.99), which will include the film in newly-remastered anamorphic widescreen video (1.85:1) with audio in Dolby Digital 5.1. Extras will include newly-recorded audio commentary by director Frank Darabont, 2 documentaries (running about 90 minutes in all), a recent Charlie Rose Show segment, storyboards, a photo gallery, the theatrical trailer, DVD-ROM extras and the Shark Tank Redemption spoof. Also available will be The Shawshank Redemption: Deluxe Limited Edition (SRP $44.99), which will include all of the Special Edition contents plus the film's CD soundtrack and a book about the film's production by historian Mark Kermode. You'll find the cover art for both editions a little lower in this column.

Speaking of Warner, MSNBC has a great story on the former chief of home video at the studio (and the acknowledged Godfather of DVD) Warren Lieberfarb. Specifically, the story details how he successfully championed the DVD format to Hollywood, resulting in a transformation of the film industry and billions of dollars in new revenue for the studios, and has now been screwed by Warner out of his much deserved reward (his DVD bonus was paid in stock options which evaporated when the disastrous AOL/Time Warner merger went down). Lieberfarb is suing the WB to be paid that bonus in real currency, and we hope he wins. Hollywood... you ungrateful bastards. You might not love this guy, but you damn well owe him big time. Warren... you go boy. Our hats off to you.

In other DVD release news, Entertainment Weekly magazine posted a short blurb in their June 19th issue about what we can expect on the forthcoming The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - Special Extended DVD Edition (which arrives in December - street date TBA). Look for the film to be a whopping 49 minute longer, complete with more than 300 new FX shots completed just for this release. Among the new scenes you'll see will be Gandalf facing down the Witch King at Minas Tirith, the Mouth of Sauron taunting Aragorn and company at the Black Gates, Aragorn tending to Eowyn at the House of Healing, and Gandalf's final confrontation with the wizard Saruman. You'll also get more audio commentaries from everyone involved, two discs worth of exclusive, in-depth documentaries and (we've heard) a pretty funny Easter egg or two. Look for the 4-disc set's faux leather slipcase to be blue. We'll post further details as they become available.

Be aware that Universal has moved the street date for its forthcoming trio of Law & Order full season DVDs to 9/14 (from 9/7). So it's a delay, but only of a single week.

Universal will also release the American Dreams: Season One - Extended Music Edition on 9/7 (SRP $89.98). The 7-disc set will include all 25 first season episodes of the show with the full performances by each episode's musical guest stars (not seen in the original broadcasts on NBC). Additional extras will include audio commentaries by Dick Clark and the cast, a gag reel, a music video featuring the cast with Stacie Orrico, and a documentary look back at American Bandstand with Dick Clark.

In other news today, L.A.-area fans of King of the Ants director Stuart Gordon will have a chance to meet him at a special signing event at the Dark Delicacies bookstore in Burbank, CA (4213 W. Burbank Blvd.). The event will be held tomorrow (Tuesday, June 29th - the day of the film's release on DVD from DEJ Productions) starting at 7:30 PM PDT. Also on-hand for the signing will be actors Chris McKenna, George Wendt, Vernon Wells and Lionel Smith. Sounds like a pretty cool time, so be sure to drop on by (tell 'em The Bits sent you).

Remember those deluxe Japanese releases of Kill Bill, Volume 1 and Alien Quadrilogy we mentioned a few months ago? Well, looks like Japanese fans of Godzilla and Star Trek: The Original Series are getting similar treats on DVD this year.

First up, our own Jeff Kleist reports that Toho is releasing a Godzilla Final Box: 50th Anniversary Perfect Collection on 1/11/05. This massive set will feature all 27 films including the Emmerich Godzilla and the U.S. version of the first film, 3 discs of dedicated bonus material, a book, a Godzilla Symphonic Fantasy CD, and space in the case for Godzilla Final Wars (the "last" movie) when it's released on DVD later in the year. The slipcase itself will be covered in a latex, hand-painted Godzilla "skin". All this can be yours for the delightfully wallet-friendly price of 99,750 Yen ($1000 U.S. by the time you ship it). Click here for all the details (in Japanese of course) along with a photo of the box.

Also, a number of Bits readers have learned that the entire Star Trek: The Original Series (all three season sets) will be released in Japan in a special display case that also includes a tricorder replica that doubles as a radio. The set will street on 12/10 with a 94,200 Yen price tag (nearly $900 U.S.). Here's a link to the Amazon Japan page for the release. And here's a look at the package with and without its plastic covering. Keep in mind that the complete series will be released in the U.S. as well on 12/3, but without the case and tricorder.

Star Trek: The Original Series - Limited Japanese box set

We've got a lot of great information for you in The Rumor Mill today, including word on possible catalog special editions from Universal and the forthcoming The Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 2.

We're also pleased today to bring you Robert Harris's latest Yellow Layer Failure, Vinegar Syndrome and Miscellaneous Musings column here at The Bits. In this edition, Robert talks Disney's recent Walt Disney Treasures titles, the films of producer Ismail Merchant, director James Ivory and screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala on DVD, recent Ingmar Bergman releases and Universal Westerns too. Don't miss it.

Here's some of that cover art we mentioned earlier - Warner's dual editions of The Shawshank Redemption (10/5) and the Taking Lives: Unrated Director's Cut (8/17), Universal's American Dreams: Season One (9/7), Fox's Angel: Season Four (9/7) and Paramount's Twisted (8/31)...

The Shawshank Redemption: Special Edition The Shawshank Redemption: Deluxe Limited EditionTaking Lives: Unrated Director's Cut

American Dreams: Season One - Extended Music Edition Angel: Season FourStar Wars: Episode VI - The Return of the Jedi

We've kicked off FOUR more new Contests this morning, giving each of you a chance to win copies of Miramax's Cold Mountain, Fox's Buffy: Season 6, Angel: Season 3 and The Simpsons: Season 4, Paramount's South Park: Season 4 and Shout Factory's Punky Brewster: Season 1. All of these contests will run for TWO weeks, until Noon PDT on Saturday, July 12th. Good luck!

Finally today, Sarah and I managed to view a screening of Michael Moore's scathing Fahrenheit 9/11 on Friday, which topped the box office this weekend by taking in more than $21.8 million (despite having opened on just 868 screens) - the first time a documentary film has ever debuted as Hollywood's top weekend film. Having finally seen the film after all the hype and the partisan mudslinging, I can tell you one thing about it with confidence. Like it or not, Fahrenheit 9/11 is Moore's most entertaining and effective film to date. Believe me, there's good reason Rotten Tomatoes has this film listed at over 80% "fresh" (at last glance).

Yes, the film is completely non-objective, but Moore is right up front with this - the film is his argument, agree with it or not. And yes, there are some occasions where Moore plays loose with the facts to make his argument (an example is his claim that Saudis and Bin-Laden family members were allowed to sneak out of the country without being screened or questioned in the days immediately after 9/11 - the reality is all were cleared by the FBI, according to then White House counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, and all were understandably concerned for their safety). But what makes this film most damning is that Moore doesn't HAVE to play loose with much to make his argument effective. Most of the material included in this film is taken from the public record, so it's really only the meaning of it all that's subject to interpretation. Moore tells you what he thinks it means certainly, but you're able to make up your own mind as to whether you agree with him or not.

Unlike his previous documentaries, Moore remains largely behind the lens in this film, choosing to narrate and only occasionally appear on camera. Quite simply, the stars of this film are George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, John Ashcroft (and others in the administration) speaking in their own words... and, in most cases, hanging by them. Certainly, some of these clips are taken out of context (thereby allowing Moore to put his own spin on them), but it's stretching credibility to argue that all of them are. And if you've been paying attention to the news over the last year or so, you'll already know the context of most of this anyway.

Whether you agree with Fahrenheit 9/11 or not, it remains a very effective piece of filmmaking. You will likely leave it feeling angry, either at George W. Bush or Michael Moore. In any case, whether you're Republican, Democrat, Independent or apathetic, it's sure to get you talking, thinking and arguing with your friends and neighbors about the direction our country is headed and what its place in the world should be. In a healthy democracy, that's never a bad thing.

Just FYI, according to Moore (speaking to the USA Today) the film will be available on DVD by September and will include new footage and commentary not in the theatrical release. "Among scenes being considered: additional footage of U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and man-in-the-street interviews Moore commissioned in 30 countries in which participants are asked what they love - and hate - about the USA."

Later this week I'll talk about Spider-Man 2, which opens in theaters on Wednesday. Sometime this week or next, I'll also give you my two cents on the film I've been most looking forward to this summer, Before Sunset, director Richard Linklater's long-awaited sequel to the charming 1995 classic, Before Sunrise.

All right... barring major/breaking DVD news, we're done for today. We'll be back tomorrow with Todd's Weekly Release Roundup and more.

Stay tuned...

6/25/04

Well... what's a Friday without a little more Star Wars DVD news? Specifically, we're pleased to say that Lucasfilm has revealed the final, official cover art for the individual movie DVDs. It's basically the same as what we've shown you before (with the sole difference of the WIDESCREEN notation across the top), except that now we have the art for the fourth DVD of bonus material as well, along with the individual disc label art. Better still, all of it is in much higher quality than what we've posted previously. So here it is...

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New HopeStar Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes BackStar Wars: Episode VI - The Return of the Jedi

Star Wars Trilogy: Bonus MaterialStar Wars Trilogy disc art

It's nice to see that the DVD sleeves are similar in style to the Episode I & II packaging, and that the discs themselves use the original theatrical poster art from the films. Click on this link to visit the relevant page over at Star Wars.com, which has further information on the artwork and packaging design, along with even larger images to look at.

If we don't have any additional news to post later today, we'll be back on Monday with a new column from Robert Harris. We've got a new Classic Coming Attractions column from Barrie for early next week as well, along with Todd's Weekly Release Roundup and lots more news and reviews.

Stay tuned, and have a great weekend!

(LATE UPDATE - 6/24/04 - 1 PM PDT)

We're back with two more new DVD reviews this afternoon. Our own Adam Jahnke's taken a closer look at two of the new Walt Disney Treasures releases - The Chronological Donald, Volume One and Tomorrowland - Disney in Space and Beyond. Enjoy!

Also, here's a little more upcoming DVD cover art today... Miramax's Rounders: Special Edition (9/7), New Line's The Twilight Zone (9/7), Warner's Alfred Hitchcock Signature Collection (9/7), Universal's Dawn of the Dead: Unrated Director's Cut (10/5), and Lions Gate's Late Night with Conan O'Brien: 10th Anniversary Special and The Best of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog (both 8/10)...

Rounders: Special EditionThe Twilight ZoneAlfred Hitchcock Signature Collection

Dawn of the Dead: Unrated Director's CutLate Night with Conan O'Brien: 10th Anniversary SpecialThe Best of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog

New Line's Twilight Zone will include all 43 episodes of the re-made UPN series on 6 discs (SRP $59.98). The episodes will be presented in anamorphic widescreen video, with audio in Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1, along with Dolby 2.0 Surround. No word yet on extras, if any.

Stay tuned!

(EARLY UPDATE - 6/24/04 - 12:01 AM PDT)

We'll be back with more later, but I wanted to chime in early today with word that 20th Century Fox has announced more new titles for their September slate. To start with, look for Angel: Season 4 on 9/7. Lost in Space: Season 2, Volume 1 will follow on 9/14, along with Love Comes Softly and Simpsons Gone Wild (a sort-of episode sampler which includes Homer's Night Out, Sunday Cruddy Sunday, The Mansion Family and Homer the Moe with the featurette Krusty the Clown: King of Comedy). Finally, on 9/28, the studio will release Hunting of the President.

In one other early note this morning, Miramax will release a Rounders: Collector's Edition on 9/7.

Stay tuned...

6/23/04

Today's post is all about DVD reviews. So to kick things off, we're pleased to present the latest installment of Todd Doogan's Weekly Release Roundup. In this edition, Todd checks out 8 new DVD releases in stores this week, including Columbia TriStar's Secret Window, Public Media's The Line King: The Al Hirschfeld Story, Criterion's The Lower Depths and Mamma Roma, Home Vision's Savages, Bloody Territories and Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter, and Razor Digital's SuperGuy: Behind the Cape.

Next up, we've got a new TAPNotes column from Matt Rowe, featuring reviews of 6 great music DVD releases, including The Doors of the 21st Century: L.A. Woman Live, The Cult: Live Cult - Music Without Fear, Show: A Night in the Life of Matchbox Twenty, Saturday Night Live: 25 Years of Music, Wishbone Ash: Classic Rock Legends and Go West: Kings of Wishful Thinking - Live.

And if all that isn't enough for you, George Bennett of our MusicTAP crew has checked in with a look of Everclear's So Much for the Afterglow on high-resolution DVD-Audio format.

There's something for everyone in that batch of reviews, so enjoy!

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 6/22/04 - 4:45 PM PDT)

Here's an update you guys are going to love! We've got official street dates, straight from the studio, for major releases through the end of 2004. There are some titles here that you've been waiting for a long time. Here goes (note that some of these dates are in addition to titles we've already mentioned as announced in this column - all dates are subject to change)...

9/14 - Friday the 13th: From Crystal Lake to Manhattan - The Ultimate DVD Collection (includes the first 8 films, plus a bonus disc of extras)

9/28 - Footloose: Special Collector's Edition

10/5 - The Untouchables: Special Collector's Edition, Bebe's Kids, Black Beauty, All I Want for Christmas, The Godfather, Part II, The Godfather, Part III

10/12 - The Stooge, The Delicate Delinquent, The Ladies' Man, The Patsy, Cinderfella, The Bellboy, The Errand Boy, The Family Jewels, The Disorderly Orderly, The Nutty Professor: Special Collector's Edition (that's the classic Jerry Lewis original)

10/19 - Deep Impact: Special Collector's Edition, Explorers, Fire in the Sky, Conquest of Space, D.A.R.Y.L.

10/26 - The Thing Called Love, Brain Donors, Jimmy Hollywood

11/9 - Last Train from Gun Hill, Ace High, Arrowhead, The Naked Jungle

11/16 - Testament, Bopha!, Ragtime, 1492: The Conquest of Paradise, Foul Play, Top Gun: Special Collector's Edition

11/30 - Racing with the Moon, The Lords of Discipline, It's All True, The Keep

12/21 - A Show of Force, Distant Thunder

This of course is only the catalog film titles. Look for additional TV and new film releases to be announced as well. Now if we could just squeeze Robinson Crusoe on Mars outta Paramount... hint, hint.

Back tomorrow with Todd's column and more. Stay tuned!

(EARLY UPDATE - 6/22/04 - 12:01 AM PDT)

I'm afraid we have some bad news for you David Lean fans. We've just gotten word from MGM that "the David Lean Collection has been removed from the MGM Home Entertainment schedule indefinitely." No reason for this delay was given, and there's no word on a new street date (the set and individual titles had been slated for release on 9/7). We'll keep you up to date on this as new information comes in.

But here's a very cool bit of great DVD news: Anchor Bay Entertainment has just announced their George Romero's Dawn of the Dead: The Ultimate Edition 4-disc DVD for release on 9/7 (SRP TBA). Disc One will include the original, 127-minute, unrated U.S. Theatrical Version in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) with audio in Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0, DTS 5.1, Dolby 2.0 Surround and the original mono. Extras will include audio commentary by director George Romero, assistant director Chris Romero, make-up artist Tom Savini and moderator Perry Martin. Also included will be theatrical trailers, TV and radio spots, a poster art galley, a bio of George Romero and a comic preview. Disc Two will include the 139-minute Extended Version in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) with audio in the original mono. Extras will include audio commentary with producer Richard Rubinstein and moderator Perry Martin, the Monroville Mall commercial, galleries (of behind-the-scenes photos, memorabilia and production stills). Disc Three will include the 118-minute European Version in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) with audio in Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0, as well as the original mono. Extras will include audio commentary with actors David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott H. Reiniger and Gaylen Ross, international theatrical trailers, U.K. TV spots, galleries (of international lobby card, poster and pressbook images), soundtrack artwork and a Dario Argento bio. Finally, Disc Four will include Roy Frumkes' original Document of the Dead documentary, the all-new, 75-min The Dead Will Walk documentary, on-set home movies with audio commentary by zombie extra Robert Langer, and a tour of the Monroville Mall with director George Romero. Now THAT is one seriously bad-ass DVD release! We'll post cover art when it's available. For more on this release, visit this link at the Anchor Bay website. Thanks to Bits reader Mike S. for the heads-up.

In other news this morning, Variety has just filed a story on Sony in which it's claimed that "the company was recently in exclusive talks to acquire MGM, including the Lion's impressive film library, for an estimated $5 billion, though the deal-making has come to a standstill, and MGM has opened up the table to other companies, such as NBC and Time Warner." We'll keep you informed on this front as well.

Miramax will release Shaolin Soccer on DVD on 8/24. There's no word yet on extras.

Columbia TriStar has announced the following titles for release on 8/31: Ike: Countdown to D-Day, Annie: A Royal Adventure, Physical Evidence, Relentless and Relentless 2: Dead On.

Finally, here's a look at more new DVD cover art - Universal's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (9/28), Miramax's Shaolin Soccer and Warner's Martin Scorsese Collection box set (8/17)...

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless MindShaolin SoccerMartin Scorsese Collection box set

Back later. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 6/21/04 - 2:30 PM PDT)

Sooooo... guess what I did today? Folks, your erstwhile Bits editor is seriously beat right now. I'm talking dead tired. Let me tell you though, having just been up all night and driven some 120 miles on no sleep, I'd do it again in a heartbeat. As you've probably guessed by now, I made the long pilgrimage out to the Mohave desert from Orange County, in the wee hours of Monday morning, to see the world's first private manned spaceflight. Why? Because as those of you who've been reading The Bits for any length of time know by now, I'm a total frickin' space geek. And while I'm too tired to tell you much about my little trip right now... I've brought back pictures! I figured some of you would get a kick out of seeing a little of the goings-on this morning. On the remote chance that you weren't one of the tens of thousands who camped out in the desert all night, the flight was broadcast live on CNN, it will be on all the evening news shows tonight and the Discovery channel is filming a documentary on the event (and you can read about it here, here, here, here, etc). In the meantime, however, take a look at these snappy photos (all but one of which were taken by yours truly). Enjoy!

I'll back tomorrow (after about 12 hours of sleep) to tell you all about it. Plus, you know, maybe we'll have some DVD news for you too. Later.

(EARLY UPDATE - 6/21/04 - 12:01 AM PDT)

Morning, folks! Hope you all had a great weekend.

I wanted to let you know that I've OFFICIALLY confirmed the specs for the Star Trek: Generations - Special Collector's Edition (from Friday's post) with Paramount, and updated them accordingly. Both Dolby Digital 5.1 EX and DTS 5.1 audio WILL be included.

Also, be aware that retail sources have given us the street dates for the rest of the Star Trek DVDs due in 2004. Star Trek: Voyager - Season Three is due on 7/6, with Season Four on 9/28, Season Five on 11/2, Season Six on 12/7 and Season Seven on 12/21. After Star Trek: The Original Series - Season One hits stores on 8/31, watch for Season Two on 11/2 and Season Three on 12/7. Complete series sets will be released (or re-released) as well - The Original Series (12/7), The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine (both 10/26) and Voyager (12/21). And don't forget, Enterprise (and possibly The Animated Series) is coming in 2005, along with a Star Trek: First Contact - Special Collector's Edition. Insurrection will likely get 2-disc collector's edition treatment later in 2005 as well. Any way you slice it, that's a lot of Trek on DVD.

The other big piece of news that seems likely to break this week (and it is BIG, let me tell you) is starting to slip out now: Sony is reportedly close to completing their deal to buy MGM for a reported $5 billion, and some sources are saying the ink is already drying on the paperwork. As you may recall, we mentioned this possibility a couple of months ago (click here and slide down a little to see our original new story). So what's this all about? We said it in April and we'll say it again now... Blu-ray, baby. If this deal pans out, Sony gains access to Hollywood's largest library of films for exclusive release on Blu-ray Disc, giving their high-definition format an even greater edge (than it already has) in the brewing battle with HD-DVD. With all due respect to Warren Lieberfarb, this whole format "war" is looking a little one-sided right now. Can you imagine James Bond in high-definition? That day might not be far off, folks. James... meet Spider-Man. Spidey... 007. Everybody play nice now. You can be sure we'll watch this little sitch-E-ation VERY closely, so stay tuned.

By the way, those of you who haven't yet seen Lucasfilm's Star Wars Trilogy DVD trailer can do so now for free at this link at Amazon.com (in .asx format).

Around the site this morning, we've got another big Upcoming DVD Cover Art update for you this morning. Well over 150 new scans have been added, thanks in large part to the efforts of Russell Hammond (our resident artwork sleuth). There's lots of great art and we guarantee you haven't seen some of it before, so be sure to check it out.

We've also kicked off FOUR new Contests today, giving each of you a chance to win copies of Miramax's Badder Santa, Universal's Field of Dreams and Along Came Polly, Paramount's Reno 911!: The Complete First Season and Columbia TriStar's Secret Window. The contests will run until Noon PDT on Saturday, June 26th. Good luck!

I wanted to take a moment to encourage you all to check out the work of our Artist of the Month for June (if you haven't done so already). Canadian born Mark Baylin is a wonderful photographer with over 25 years of experience at his craft. His work focuses mainly on abstract objects, urban and rural scenes, and relics. Mark tries to get to the heart of whatever his subject matter is, bringing out fascinating textures and patterns in the process. Be sure to take a look at his stuff when you've got a moment. We think you'll enjoy it.

Finally today, I've been after my wife Sarah to write reviews for The Bits for I don't know how many years now (she currently does all the contests here on the site, and handles a lot of the business side of things). So imagine this: she's finally written something... and it's for our MusicTAP affiliate site! Matt bribed her with Journey concert tickets recently, so the two of us took in the show, and now Sarah's posted a full report. She'll probably be after a Rolling Stone gig next. Sheesh! Anyway, enjoy. ;-)

We now resume your regularly scheduled Monday morning, already in progress.

(LATE UPDATE - 6/18/04 - 3 PM PDT)

Gosh... we must be suckers for this DVD stuff. Can't seem to walk away from the job today! Anyway, because we love you (and because we can't seem to go more than a day without some kind of Star Trek news), here's the final cover art for Paramount's 2-disc Star Trek: Generations - Special Collector's Edition (SRP $19.99 - due 9/7).

Star Trek: Generations - Special Collector's Edition

The 2-disc set will include the 117-minute film in anamorphic widescreen video (2.35:1) with English Dolby Digital 5.1 EX, DTS 5.1 and Dolby Surround audio (also French Dolby Surround). Disc One will include audio commentary by screenwriters Brannon Braga and Ron Moore, along with another text commentary by Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda. Disc Two will include The Star Trek Universe section (A Tribute to Matt Jefferies, The Enterprise Lineage, Captain Picard's Family Album and Creating 24th Century Weapons), the Production section (Uniting Two Legends, Stellar Cartography: Creating the Illusion and Strange New Worlds: The Valley of Fire), the Visual Effects section (Inside ILM: Models and Miniatures and Crashing the Enterprise), the Scene Deconstruction section (Main Title Sequence, The Nexus Ribbon, Saucer Crash Sequence), the Deleted Scenes section (Orbital Skydiving, Walking the Plank, Christmas with the Picards and Alternate Ending) and an Archives section (storyboards, a production gallery, and the teaser and theatrical trailers). All in all, looks like a damn fine DVD.

That's it! Stick a fork in us... we're done. See you Montag!

(LATE UPDATE - 6/18/04 - 1:15 PM PDT)

Okay, NOW we're talking. Thanks to Bits reader Chris J., we're able to bring you a much better look at the individual DVD cover art for the Star Wars Trilogy discs. Looks like the Empire and Jedi covers were reworked a little more from that image we posted earlier this morning. Here you go...

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New HopeStar Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes BackStar Wars: Episode VI - The Return of the Jedi

By the way, we have a look at a Lucasfilm marketing tearsheet for the DVD release for you as well. Enjoy.

One other note today - Buena Vista has delayed the second wave of Miyazaki DVDs, which had been slated for release on 8/31 (My Neighbor Totoro, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and Porco Rosso). We'll give you the new date as soon as it becomes available.

See you Monday (unless something else pops up first)!

(LATE UPDATE - 6/18/04 - 10 AM PDT)

Well, we've been waiting for our first look at the individual DVD cover art for the discs contained in the Star Wars Trilogy box set (due 9/21)... and here it is. This image has been floating around a number of Star Wars fan sites this morning (including this one), and apparently leaked from Europe. It's only a glimpse, but I'd say it speaks for itself...

Star Wars Trilogy DVD - inner packaging

Thanks to Bits reader Ian J. (and all of the many, many readers) who sent this in this morning.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

(EARLY UPDATE - 6/18/04 - 12:01 AM PDT)

Man, I can't tell you how long I've been waiting for this one. I've just posted my in-depth review of Miramax's new 2-disc The English Patient: Collector's Series DVD (street date - 6/29). If you love the film as much as I do, you're going to be very happy with this release, let me tell you.

Also today, we have more confirmation on the street date for Shrek 2 in The Rumor Mill, along with a mess of Star Wars rumors including word on a possible DVD release of the animated Star Wars: Clone Wars series of shorts seen recently on the Cartoon Network. Miss it not, young Padewan.

We've got a last bit of new cover art for you to check out today. Here's a look at Touchstone's The Alamo (9/28), Rhino's My Favorite Martian: The Complete First Season (9/14) and 20th Century Fox's The Girl Next Door: Unrated Version (8/24)...

The AlamoMy Favorite Martian: The Complete First SeasonThe Girl Next Door: Unrated Version

My Favorite Martian will include 37 original, uncut episodes on 3 DVDs, and will come in reflective foil packaging (SRP $39.95).

The Girl Next Door will be available in both the theatrical and unrated versions (SRP $27.98). Each disc will contain its particular version of the film in both full frame and anamorphic widescreen (on opposite sides of the disc), along with audio commentary by director Luke Greenfield, a subtitle trivia track and the Revealing the Girl Next Door featurette.

Okay... unless something Earth-shattering happens this afternoon, that's it for this week. We've got lots more stuff coming next week, including new columns from Robert Harris and Matt Rowe, Todd's Weekly Release Roundup, another big Upcoming DVD Cover Art update and more reviews too. In the meantime, I'm gonna go catch a screening of Riddick... or something. Can't decide at the moment.

Anyway, have a great weekend and we'll see you Monday!

6/17/04

We've got another cool upcoming DVD announcement for you today. 20th Century Fox will release Tony Scott's Man on Fire on 9/14 (SRP $29.98). The disc will including the film in anamorphic widescreen video with audio in both Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1. Extras will include audio commentary by producer Lucas Foster, screenwriter Brian Helgeland and actor Dakota Fanning, "making of" featurettes and more.

On a related note (this would normally go in The Rumor Mill, so take that into consideration), we suspect Buena Vista may reschedule the new special editions of Tony Scott's Crimson Tide and Enemy of the State (which were indefinitely delayed a number of months ago) to coincide with the release of Man on Fire, as well as Scott's TBA Top Gun: Special Edition from Paramount. We'll post any details we learn on this as they become available.

Speaking of The Rumor Mill, we have reliable word today on the street date for Paramount's soon-to-be-announced Star Trek: Generations - Special Collector's Edition. How reliable you might ask? Well, it comes straight from the film's co-writer, Brannon Braga. Be sure to check it out.

Also on the Star Trek front this morning, Paramount will release a 2-disc Star Trek: The Next Generation - Jean-Luc Picard Collection on 8/3 (SRP about $19.99). The set will include the episodes The Big Goodbye, Sarek, Family, The Drumhead, Darmok, The Inner Light and Tapestry, along with the 42-minute From Here to Infinity documentary on space exploration. The documentary is the only new-to-DVD item on the set (and it has nothing to do with Star Trek other than the fact that it was narrated by actor Patrick Stewart - just FYI).

While we're on a Paramount bender today, how about your first look at more new cover art from the studio? Here's Paramount's newly announced United States of Leland, Murder on the Orient Express (both 9/7), Orca and I Married a Monster from Outer Space (both 9/14), along with Criterion's Slacker (8/31) and Universal's Dazed and Confused: Flashback Edition (9/14)...

United States of LelandMurder on the Orient ExpressOrca

I Married a Monster from Outer SpaceSlacker (Criterion)Dazed and Confused: Flashback Edition

Stay tuned...

6/16/04

Damn if my Internet connection hasn't been a little buggy in the last 24 hours... but at last, here's Doogan's latest Weekly Release Roundup. At least a few interesting titles find their way onto your local store shelves this week, so be sure to check them out.

I don't know HOW this one managed to slip under our radar, but HBO has just released a film we've had on our "dying to get on DVD" list for a while now... the cable TV classic By Dawn's Early Light. It should be in stores now (street date was 6/1). The film stars Martin Landau, James Earl Jones and Powers Boothe. It's B-grade, World War III fun in the same vein as The Day After and Fail Safe, so do check it out. Here's a look at the cover art...

By Dawn's Early LightSouth Park: The Passion of the JewLand of the Lost: The Complete First Season

Thanks to Bits reader Kirk H. for alerting us to the release. Speaking of B-movies we want on DVD, we're angling for Hangar 18, Robinson Crusoe on Mars, Joe Camp's The Double McGuffin and Mad Magazine's Up the Academy next. It'd be great to get anamorphic upgrades of Capricorn One and The Arrival too. Both were Artisan titles, which was just taken over by Lions Gate. Hey, Lions Gate! You guys paying attention? While you're at it, kick out those Speed Racer discs a little faster too!

You may have noticed cover art for Paramount's South Park: The Passion of the Jew (due on 8/31). It contains the episode of the show spoofing Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ (which, not coincidentally, is also due on 8/31) along with two bonus episodes. Also shown is Rhino's Land of the Lost: The Complete First Season (6/29), which we can't wait to get our hands on (look for all 17 episodes plus hours of bonus material including audio commentary, deleted scenes and more).

Speaking of Paramount, the studio has just announced the following new titles: Murder on the Orient Express, United States of Leland and Whispers in the Dark (all for 9/7), and I Married a Monster from Outer Space, Orca: The Killer Whale, Body Parts, Bug, G.I. Joe: Valor vs. Venom and 7th Heaven: Complete First Season (all for 9/14).

In other news today, New Line will street Laws of Attraction on 8/24, with both full frame and widescreen versions on the same disc. Look for at least some deleted scenes to be included as well. SRP is $27.95.

And here's something cool for you. News Askew has posted details on the forthcoming 3-disc, 10th anniversary edition of Kevin Smith's Clerks (due 9/7 - appropriately titled Clerks X). The disc will include the 93-minute theatrical cut (with the audio commentary from the original DVD release), the 103-minute first cut (with new audio commentary), the 95-minute Snowball Effect: The Story of Clerks documentary, the MTV Jay and Silent Bob shorts, the Arclight 10th anniversary Q&A session and just an absolutely silly amount of additional bonus material - enough to please almost any Smith fan. Be sure to visit the link for a complete list of the extras and an early look at prototype packaging for the set.

DreamWorks' Envy has been re-announced for a 9/28 street date (just FYI).

By the way, in the rush to get the specs up yesterday, we mistakenly listed the street date for Star Trek: The Original Series - The Complete First Season and Trekkies 2 as 8/21. The correct date is 8/31, and we've fixed it in yesterday's post.

Finally today, we've kicked off a new Contest this afternoon giving you all a chance to win one of FIVE copies of Anchor Bay's Xena Warrior Princess: Season Four. The contest will run until Noon PDT on Sunday, June 20th. Good luck!

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 6/15/04 - 3:30 PM PDT)

Hey... more great Star Trek news today! Paramount has finally announced the DVD release of Star Trek: The Original Series - The Complete First Season for 8/31. The 8-disc set (no SRP, but expect the price to be about $100) will include all 29 episodes of the show's first year in broadcast order (full frame video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio). Extras on the first season will include the The Birth of a Timeless Legacy featurette (on how the show began), the Life Beyond Trek: William Shatner featurette (an interview with the actor who played Kirk on how the show has affected his life), the To Boldly Go... featurette (a discussion with cast and crew members on key episodes of the season), the Reflections on Spock featurette (a similar interview with actor Leonard Nimoy on how the role has influenced him), the Sci-Fi Visionaries featurette (on some of the famous Sci-Fi writers that have contributed to the series), original preview trailers for each episode and a photo 'log' (gallery). All these extras are contained on the 8th disc. In addition, the episodes Where No Man Has Gone Before, The Menagerie, Part I, The Menagerie, Part II and The Conscience of the King will all feature text commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda.

The studio has also announced the DVD release of our old friend Roger Nygard's new film, Trekkies 2. Look for that on 8/31 as well (for about $19.99). The film will be presented in its original full frame aspect ratio with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include audio commentary (with filmmakers Roger Nygard, Denise Crosby and Mike Leahy, and composers JJ Holiday and Billy Sullivan), 20 deleted scenes, 2 short films by Trek fans Brian Dellis and Gabriel Koerner (both of whom appear in Trekkies 2), and the trailer for Roger Nygard's Six Days in Roswell as well as a clip from another Nygard film, Suckers.

We'll follow these Trek developments closely, but in the meantime, here's the DVD cover art for Star Trek: The Original Series - The Complete First Season, Trekkies 2 and (at last) Star Trek: Voyager - Season Six (street date TBA). Below that, you'll also find an "exploded" view of the Star Trek: TOS packaging. Enjoy!

Star Trek: The Original Series - The Complete First SeasonTrekkies 2Star Trek: Voyager - Season Six

Star Trek: The Original Series - The Complete First Season

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 6/15/04 - 2 PM PDT)

We're also pleased today to finally bring you Barrie Maxwell's latest Classic Coming Attractions column. This time, Barrie takes a look at the many big-screen collaborations of actor John Wayne and director John Ford over the years. As always, he also runs down the latest classic DVD release announcements. Barrie's columns are great reads and are packed with information - this one is no exception. We hope you enjoy it.

We'll be back tonight with Todd's Weekly Release Roundup. See you then!

(EARLY UPDATE - 6/15/04 - 12:30 PM PDT)

Afternoon all! We're pleased to bring you an interview our own Adam Jahnke did last week with DVD producer Dave Bossart, who was the creative force behind Disney's recent Walt Disney Treasures: Walt Disney on the Front Lines collection (you can also review Adam's review of this great release here).

In terms of news today, our friends over at TVShowsOnDVD.com have new word on the possibility of Miami Vice and more classic Universal shows finally coming to DVD. Lots of TV news these days.

Just FYI, we've also updated all of the DVD format sales and rental data we track (above), including the CEA DVD Player Sales numbers.

Back in a little while with more. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 6/14/04 - 5 PM PDT)

We've been chasing down a couple of interesting DVD stories today, so we're going to post Barrie Maxwell's new Classic Coming Attractions column tomorrow morning. We'll have an interview Adam Jahnke did with Walt Disney on the Front Lines DVD producer, Dave Bossert, tomorrow as well.

In the meanwhile, we do have Adam's in-depth DVD review of Walt Disney Treasures: Walt Disney on the Front Lines for you now.

We also have one of those interesting DVD stories for you this afternoon in The Rumor Mill. It's a story you Trek fans will want to pay attention to, as it pertains to Enterprise and The Animated Series finally making their way to our favorite format. Don't miss it.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 6/14/04 - 3 PM PDT)

Universal has announced that they'll release the remade Dawn of the Dead on 10/5 (SRP $29.98). Extras will include audio commentary with director Zack Snyder and producer Eric Newman, deleted scenes with commentary by the director, 3 featurettes (The Lost Tape: Andy's Terrifying Last Days Revealed, Special Bulletin: We Interrupt This Program!, and Surviving Dawn of the Dead) and DVD-ROM extras. Full frame and anamorphic widescreen versions will be available, each with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.

Universal will release the 7-disc American Dreams: Season One - Extended Edition on 9/7 (SRP $89.98). There are no details yet on extras, if any.

Universal will also release Santa vs. the Snowman 3D on 10/12 (SRP $14.98) complete with 4 pairs of 3D glasses.

Finally, look for DreamWorks to reschedule the postponed Envy soon. We'll post the new street date when it becomes available.

Here's a look at some more new DVD cover art, including FINAL revised art for Miramax's Kill Bill, Volume 2 (we hope - street date 8/10) and Ella Enchanted (8/24), Universal's Night Gallery: The Complete First Season (8/24), Columbo: The Complete First Season and Magnum P.I.: The Complete First Season (both 9/7), and Buena Vista's The Ladykillers (9/14)...

Kill Bill, Volume 2Ella EnchantedNight Gallery: The Complete First Season

Columbo: The Complete First SeasonMagnum P.I.: The Complete First SeasonThe Ladykillers

More to come. Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 6/14/04 - 1 PM PDT)

We'll be back several times throughout the day, but I wanted to jump in here first with word that the DVD Forum has finally approved Version 1.0 of the official technical spec for blue laser-based HD-DVD, specifically the ROM version (or read-only, which is what would be used for pre-packaged high-definition films on disc). Interestingly, the spec requires three different video codecs be built-in for compliance to the format, including current MPEG-2, MPEG-4 AVC (H.264) and Microsoft's VC-9 (which is a component of their Windows Media 9 format). You can read more in this story here at CNet.

There are two interesting aspects to this final approval. First of all, it finally gives the HD-DVD camp something tangible to talk about with regard to their technology, and we'll now (at last) start seeing technology demonstrations of the final spec. Lately, the news has been all Blu-ray Disc, which is getting ready to roll out the first products based on the BD-R (recordable) and BD-ROM specs later this year in the U.S. (some are already available in Japan). Second, it will be interesting to see if the inclusion of MPEG-4 AVC and VC-9 will force the Blu-ray Disc camp to include at least one "higher efficiency" codec as well. Currently, the Blu-ray Disc format is based solely around current MPEG-2, and uses a greater capacity physical disc to store more data (single-layered BD-ROM discs can contain about 27GB of data, while dual-layered discs contain 50GB). HD-DVD, on the other hand, uses the higher compression of MPEG-4 and VC-9 to squeeze more video data onto a physical disc with less storage capacity than Blu-ray Disc (single-layered HD-DVD-ROM discs are designed to hold only 15GB of data, with dual-layered discs holding 30GB). It should be noted that both formats store far more data than current DVD (which holds a measly 4.37GB for single-layered discs, and 15.9GB for dual-sided, dual-layered discs).

This is definitely going to become more and more interesting, and contentious, before it's all over. We'll post more on the Blu-ray Disc/HD-DVD format war in the weeks again, you can be sure.

In terms of interesting DVD news today, we have word that Disney's The Black Hole (8/3 - $19.99) will include a featurette on the film and the original "extended" theatrical trailer. The film will be anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.

One other interesting bit of news for you this afternoon - Universal will release Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind on 9/28 (SRP $29.98). No word yet on extras.

Back with lots more over the next few hours. Stay tuned...


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