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page updated: 6/17/04



Rumor Mill
(Archived Posts 4/23/04 - 10/13/03)


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4/23/04

First up... some interesting Kubrick information. It seems that Warner Bros. might have changed their minds about releasing the director's last film, Eyes Wide Shut, in its original uncut version. Bits reader Josh L. e-mailed us last night with the following:

Tonight I was fortunate enough to see Leon Vitali in person at a special screening of Barry Lyndon at the University of Colorado. In his discussion, Mr. Vitali revealed that Warner Bros. is planning to release the uncensored international version of Eyes Wide Shut here in the States, sometime next year. Not sure if this was already officially announced or not.

Very cool news if true. We'll definitely look into this. Thanks, Josh! By the way, click here to read an archived interview we did with Leon Vitali in May of 2001.

Moving on, earlier this week in the daily column, I mentioned that director David Lynch had revealed that his Wild at Heart: Special Edition will be released on DVD later in 2004. We've checked in with our industry sources, and sure enough... MGM is currently planning to debut the title on disc in December, along with a price reduction on Blue Velvet. No word yet on the extras, which are in production as we speak, but you can definitely expect anamorphic widescreen video and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.

Speaking of MGM... we've got a heads-up on some of the titles the studio is tentatively planning for September release. Look for a Judgement at Nuremberg: Special Edition, a David Lean Collection featuring Blithe Spirit, Brief Encounter, Great Expectations, In Which We Serve, Madeleine, Oliver Twist, Passionate Friends and This Happy Breed, a 2-disc release of The Martain Chronicles mini-series and The Burning Bed, Gotham (aka The Dead Can't Lie - 1988 TV movie), Moving Target and Pursuit. Beyond that, as we've mentioned previously, the studio is working on a Species: Special Edition, as well as... wait for it... Robert Rossen's 1956 Alexander the Great. Cool beans.

Stay tuned...



4/8/04

Okay kids... so you want proof that further changes are being made to the Star Wars films for the forthcoming DVD release? Well, this COULD be it...

Ian McDiarmid in Empire Strikes Back for DVD?

That top image is, supposedly, an actual shot of Ian McDiarmid as Emperor Palpatine, newly inserted into The Empire Strikes Back in place of the original actor (bottom image). This pic has been circulating around the Net for a few days now. The split screen comparison you see here was created by someone on one of the Star Wars fan boards (click here for the original post of the image, along with endless fan debate). But the image at the top (at least the actual face shot of McDiarmid) reportedly leaked from someone involved with the production. We had pretty much dismissed it... BUT. The interesting thing is, we've shown this image to insiders we know have seen the real work (three separate sources now), and they've independently confirmed that the scene HAS changed and that the top image (of McDiarmid in make-up) is authentic. One other scene we've heard is being revamped is the CGI Jabba scene from A New Hope. Look for the digital Jabba to be replaced by a much better looking CG version (likely based on the Episode I digital model of the character).

Tell you what... if this pans out, I don't mind either of these changes. Better still, I'd eat a whole freakin' herd of Bantha if Lucas would just restore the Han/Greedo scene in A New Hope so that Han shoots first again. Anyone care to join me? Cross your fingers, folks... and fire up the barbecue pit.

By the way, we've also been told by sources that the list of Trilogy 4th disc DVD extras circulated by FYE, Best Buy and other online retailers recently (and reported here by The Bits) is "not entirely correct". Like that original prototype DVD packaging from a few weeks ago, it looks like this WAS an early spec list for the disc, but it's not the final one. Hopefully, we'll get official details in the coming weeks.

Stay tuned...



4/1/04

Okay... here's the skinny on some great forthcoming (and many yet to be announced) DVDs on the way from MGM. In June and July, look for Barbershop 2 (6/8), Touching the Void and Dead Like Me: Season 1 (6/15), Kotch, Lovers and Other Strangers, Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came, Take the Money and Run and The Charlie Chan Collection 6-disc set, including The Chinese Cat, Charlie Chan in the Secret Service, The Jade Mask, Meeting at Midnight, The Shanghai Cobra and The Scarlet Clue (7/6), Agent Cody Banks 2 (7/13), Intermission, Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Kids and Stellaluna (7/20) and Saved, Showgirls: VIP Edition, the Thunderbirds Collector's Edition 2-disc set, including Thunderbirds Are Go and Thunderbird Six (7/27). Then in August, look for HI5: Volumes 1-3 and Walking Tall (8/3), The Woods (8/10), Angel of Death, Dorm Daze, Luther, Unspeakable and Whore (8/17) and Clownhouse, Swamp Thing, The Night Stalker/The Night Strangler and some great 1970s flicks including The Apple, Chastity, Electra Glide in Blue, Good Times, Joyride, Roller Boogie, Small Circle of Friends, Smile and Zachariah (8/24). Finally, just to give you a taste of titles coming this fall, anyone interested in The Manchurian Candidate or The Martian Chronicles mini-series?

'Nuff said. ;-)



3/22/04

Some interesting news for you Seinfeld fans today. Word from The Globe newspaper (via the Seinfeld Blog) is that the cast of the series has finally made their peace about royalties, meaning that all four of the show's stars will be involved in the production of the DVDs, the first season of which is due later this year.

Also today, there's new word on the release of the next batch of animated Hayao Miyazaki DVDs from Buena Vista. Apparently, FYE and Suncoast stores are reporting August 31st street dates for Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind, Porco Rosso and My Neighbor Totoro.

Thanks to the many Bits readers who e-mailed us about these stories. Stay tuned...



3/18/04

Yeah, we know this is going to get some people's undies in a bunch again... but we can say with some confidence now that when Lucasfilm and Fox release the Star Wars Trilogy on DVD in September, the films ARE going to include new footage. We've confirmed "unofficially" with three separate sources, each in positions to know, that at least SOME new footage is being added to the films, and that more special effects enhancements, tweaks and fixes are being done. We're also told that Lucasfilm MAY include additional deleted scenes for the trilogy on the bonus disc, separate from the material added into the films themselves (rather like they've done with Episodes I & II). We've been told of at least a few changes that are being made, but we're going to wait to confirm them better before we post anything. Keep in mind that we have no idea how extensive or minor the whole of the additions and changes will be. Hopefully, we'll learn more from Lucasfilm in the near future. So, okay... we're now officially intrigued. We'll post more when we can.

In just another quick bit of Fox news today, word is that the studio will release The Simpsons: The Complete Fourth Season on DVD on June 15th. Just FYI.

Stay tuned...



3/9/04

Here's a bit of info from industry sources that's likely to get the undies of some fans all in a bunch. Word is that George Lucas' THX-1138, which is currently being prepared for DVD release later in 2004 by Lucasfilm and Warner Bros, is going to feature more than 100 new visual effects shots. Look for digitally-enhanced skylines and other additions and alterations.

We've have some cool information from Paramount today. These titles have yet to be announced, but we have confirmed with the studio that they ARE finally in the works for DVD release... D.A.R.Y.L., Explorers and Fire in the Sky. I know a lot of you out there are interested in Fire and Explorers in particular, based on the number of inquiries we get about them. Also, soon to be announced by Paramount are first season DVD box sets of Happy Days, Mork & Mindy and Laverne & Shirley. Look for those Summer 2004. Better still, we've been told to expect Star Trek: The Original Series - Season One to arrive on DVD in the 3rd Quarter of this year.

In other interesting tidbits today, retail sources have been told to expect Columbia TriStar's Monster, for which Charlize Theron just won the Best Actress Oscar, on DVD in early June.

And Buena Vista is expected to announce the DVD release of Miracle for May 18th. Extras on the 2-disc set will include featurettes with the real hockey players and actors, outtakes, director's audio commentary and a tribute to coach Herb Brooks (who was killed last year in a car crash in Minnesota).

Stay tuned...



3/8/04

We've gotten more info from our retail sources on expected street dates for some major, as-yet-unannounced titles. If they bear out, look for Girl with a Pearl Earring on 5/4, 50 First Dates on 5/11, Mystic River on 5/18, You Got Served on 5/18 and Barbershop 2 on 6/29.

Also, we've heard a reader who recently had the chance to talk with Star Wars sound designer Ben Burtt about the upcoming DVD release. Here's the info (special thanks to our reader for sending this in):

I spoke with Ben Burtt recently. He mentioned the upcoming Star Wars DVDs. It seems that they were able to go back and digitize all of the original tracks and rebuild the show from scratch. For the previous Theatrical Special Editions they were only able to go back and re-mix and edit from the pre-mixes which were sonically limited by the analogue recording and reproduction systems of the time. Since Ben was responsible for archiving all of the sound on A New Hope, all of the sounds were able to be found except for a couple of foley tracks which I'm assuming will be re-done. So it seems that we will be hearing Star Wars in a way we've never heard it before. He did not mention if Empire and Jedi would be receiving the same treatment.

Stay tuned...



3/1/04

We've talked about the title before, and now we're hearing from retail sources that Chris Carter's Harsh Realm: The Complete Series will arrive on DVD on May 26th. No word yet on extras.

Meanwhile, we have word that Warner Bros. is already hard at work on The O.C.: The Complete First Season, which will be released later this year as a 6-disc box set (featuring all 27 episodes plus extras).

Stay tuned...



2/25/04

We've got word from our nefarious and sundry industry sources on some great MGM titles that are on the way for later this year. They've confirmed that the Bubba Ho-Tep: Special Edition is coming for 5/25. Anyone interested in The Day After miniseries? Watch for it in May as well. We're also told that a Showgirls: VIP Edition is in the cooker for summer release with tons of... shall we say fascinating... extras (and a new anamorphic widescreen transfer). Also on tap for summer are Thunderbirds are Go and Thunderbirds Six (just in time for the new movie version).

This next bit is sort of a rumor, because the title hasn't yet been announced by the studio. But it comes straight from our old friend Roger Nygard. You might member Roger as the director of Six Days in Roswell and Trekkies (you can read an interview we did with him back in 2000 here). Roger wanted to let us know that he's completed work on the Trekkies 2 DVD, which is going to be released later this year by Paramount. For the sequel, Roger and host Denise Crosby went international to interview Trek fans all over the world, as well as former and current cast members. The DVD is expected to include clips from fan-made Trek films, as well as a 45-minute concert featuring 5 Star Trek-themed bands. Sounds like fun. Roger promises to keep us up to date on the title, so we'll post more details as they become available. Click here to visit the film's official website.

Finally this morning, there's word from Tippett Studios that Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation (directed by Phil Tippett) will be available on DVD on June 8th, after premiering on the Starz network's Action Channel on April 24th.

Stay tuned...



2/24/04

We're being told by retail sources to expect Fox's In America to be released on DVD on May 11th.

We're also hearing from a number of industry sources, as well as readers who apparently participated in an online DVD survey with Warner Home Video, that Warner will release a number of new 2-disc special editions in May, including Purple Rain, Blazing Saddles, Wyatt Earp, Heat and Around the World in 80 Days. We'd heard that many of these titles were in production last month (click here for the original story), so this confirms at least a few.

Stay tuned...



2/13/04

If you're a fan of Chris Carter TV series, you'll be thrilled to know that 20th Century Fox will wrap up the adventures of Mulder and Scully on DVD in November, with The X-Files: The Complete Ninth Season. Around that time, Fox is also planning to deliver the complete Harsh Realm and the first season of Millennium to DVD.

Something you should also be aware of... The Lone Gunmen is being considered for DVD release depending on how well Harsh Realm and Millennium sell. Also being considered for DVD release on this same basis is Glen Morgan and James Wong's Space Above and Beyond. Cross your fingers.

Stay tuned...



2/9/04

While many of us are waiting to see if Lucasfilm makes their big Star Wars DVD announcement tomorrow, we've got a bit more on The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. It seems cover art that might be the U.K. theatrical edition DVD has started circulating around the Net. If it is the real deal, the disc specs for the 2-disc set will include anamorphic widescreen video, English Dolby Digital 5.1 EX and 2.0 Surround audio, 3 documentaries (On the Set - The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Battle for Middle Earth and The Quest Fulfilled), 6 A Final Look at Middle-Earth featurettes created for lordoftherings.net (Digital Horses, Eowyn White Lady of Rohan, Minas Tirith, Aragorn's Destiny, Battle of the Pelennor Fields and Samwise the Brave), Trilogy outtakes and bloopers, original theatrical trailers and TV spots, Annie Lennox's Into the West music video, EA's The Lord of the Rings Trilogy videogame preview, and a preview of the Special Extended DVD Edition.

Stay tuned...



2/6/04

This falls in the category of rumor, because New Line has yet to officially announce the title. But we've heard from a number of retailers, indicating that they've been told by the studio to expect the theatrical version of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King on May 25th. This confirms what we've been hearing as well.

This is also supported by a recent Video Business article (in the Feb. 2 issue), in which both director Peter Jackson and various retail sources are said to have confirmed that the theatrical version of the film will be released in May, and that the extended edition would follow in September. According to recent interviews by Jackson, the longer version reportedly clocks in at 4 hours and 10 minutes. New Line also reportedly says they won't announce the title until after the Oscars at the end of this month.



2/5/04

Remember last week how we told you to expect Lucasfilm's announcement of the release of the Star Wars Trilogy on DVD sometime between now and May? Well... you MIGHT not have to wait as long as May after all.

Both The Force.net and Rebel Scum have today posted a rumor that Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox will be making their official Star Wars DVD announcement next week, likely on Tuesday. Their information again confirms that the films will be released in a 4-disc set, like the Indiana Jones DVDs, and that the street date is set for 9/21/04.

The interesting thing is, we'd actually heard this same information from some of our industry sources a few weeks ago - folks who have been extremely reliable over the years. But we know this subject is a real hot button with DVD fans, so in the interest of not getting everyone worked into a frenzy, we've been sitting on it until we could confirm it better. So is it the real deal? Well... keep in mind that announcements like this are never set in stone until they're set in stone, so to speak. I would still absolutely regard this as tentative. Lucasfilm could announce Monday instead of Tuesday, or they could wait until the following week, or the end of the month. That said, it's definitely our belief here at The Bits, based on the best information we have, that an official announcement of some kind is very close.

So let's wait and see what next week brings, shall we? Just maybe good things. Stay tuned...



1/30/04

Yep... Star Wars time again. The Rebel Scum fan website is reporting that in recent presentations at London's Toy Fair event, Lucasfilm marketing partner TLC Marketing revealed once again that Lucasfilm plans to release Episodes 4, 5 and 6 on DVD format in October or November of 2004. This is just one more piece in a puzzle that's now growing very large and surprisingly clear. Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox aren't commenting on the rumors about the DVD release of the original trilogy, but our industry sources are just giving us too much independent confirmation that the release is in the works. We feel very confident now that it's the real deal - that the Star Wars films ARE finally coming to DVD later in 2004.

Just to update you, we've heard a variety of rumors in terms of what might be included on the set (going all the way back to September of last year, when we first posted word of it here in The Rumor Mill), but the best of our intelligence is that they'll be released as a 4-disc set, with 3 movie discs (1 for each film) and a disc of bonus materials, much like last year's Indiana Jones Trilogy DVD release. Lucas has repeatedly said not to expect the original versions of the films on DVD, so we're betting on the much-rumored "Archive Editions", which would basically be the Special Editions released in the 1990s, only with further tweaks, changes, enhancements and additions to bring them more into line with the new prequels. Still, the list of specific changes that's been circulating around the Net for a few months reads more like a fanboy wishlist, so it should probably be considered dubious at best. I suspect we won't know anything more until the titles are officially announced.

Speaking of that, IF this DVD release is really happening (and keep in mind that for all our sources - and the widespread information being reported around the Net - this is STILL only a rumor), Lucasfilm would probably want to announce the release sooner rather than later, to give retailers and marketing partners enough time to gear up for it. It would easily be the biggest DVD release of 2004, and arguably one of the biggest (if not THE biggest) releases of all time for the format. By comparison, Lucasfilm announced the November 4th, 2003 DVD release of the Indiana Jones Trilogy on May 5th of last year (the street date was later moved up to October 21st). That's 6 months of lead time. If Lucasfilm holds true to that with the announcement of Star Wars, assuming a September-November window (has as been rumored), that would mean that we could reasonably expect the official announcement sometime between now and May.

So, as we say so often here at The Bits, we suggest you stay tuned. We're betting it's gonna get pretty interesting in the coming months.



1/28/04

Our friends over at the TVShowsonDVD.com website have been chasing a rumor that Universal is planning on releasing Buck Rogers in the 25th Century on DVD later this year, in time for the series' 25th Anniversary. It seems it's the real deal. Word is that several fans who have had contact with series actors Gil Gerard and Erin Gray lately have learned that both have been tapped to record audio commentary for some of the episodes. We've managed to confirm with our industry sources that the DVDs are indeed in production, along with the film of the same name (that started it all... at least in the 1970s). Just goes to show you, ya can't keep a good astronaut on ice.

Just FYI, TVShowsonDVD.com is also reporting that Everybody Loves Raymond DVDs are in the works as well.

Stay tuned...



1/13/04

A while back here in The Rumor Mill, we told you that Warner Bros. was finally going to get more serious about releasing their animated product on DVD, particularly TV series animation from their new and classic lines. Well, we've been hearing from some very good sources recently, who tell us that the folks at WB are hard at work on The Flintstones: Season One, The Jetsons: Season One and Jonny Quest: The Complete Series! That last title has us particularly excited here at The Bits. No release timetable has been set other than probably late 2004 or early 2005. Other full season animated titles are planned, we're told, including the recent Batman: The Animated Series and more. We'll post additional details when we have them.

Stay tuned...



1/7/04

We've been hearing more about this title in the last week or so, so now seems as good a time as any to talk about it here. Columbia TriStar has been working on a new 3-disc Panic Room: Special Edition with the assistance of director David Fincher. We expect it to be officially announced in the next few weeks for release in early in the year (we're hearing March or April). The set is expected to include the film on Disc One in anamorphic widescreen (with audio in Dolby Digital 5.1), audio commentary with Jodie Foster, Dwight Yoakam and Forest Whitaker, and a second audio commentary with Fincher. Disc Two will feature an in-depth look at the pre-production and shooting of the film, including in-depth documentaries and multi-angle features. Finally, Disc Three will look at the post-production process, including editing, visual effects, sound design and more.

The disc was produced by our old friend David Prior, who hand-crafted Fox's awesome special edition of Fincher's Fight Club (we've interviewed Prior twice in the past, for Fight Club and his earlier DVD production of Ravenous). I happen to know that he's been working himself into a frenzied, Gollum-like state over this release for well over a year now, so expect a winner. ;-)

Also today, The Force.net is reporting an interesting George Lucas quote in a new book that's been released. Interviewed for Robert J. Emery's The Directors: Take 4, Lucas reportedly says that when the original Star Wars Trilogy is released on DVD, he'll finally be able to release the films the way he originally intended. The site concludes that this confirms more changes to the original films as we've reported in the past. We'll just have to wait and see. September 2004's getting closer and closer every day.

Stay tuned...



1/6/04

Okay, we've heard from no less that three retail sources in the last 48 hours, so this seems to confirm what we'd heard in December. Best word is, Warner's Matrix Revolutions will street on April 6th. So there you go. We'll post official details as soon as Warner makes them known.

Stay tuned...



1/2/04

We've learned from our friends at The R2 Project that Warner has revealed the Region 2 DVD release of a number of new, previously unannounced titles for 2004 (many are long-awaited special editions). These include:

June - THX-1138, The Searchers: SE, Blazing Saddles: SE, Three Godfathers, Mogambo, Shalako, Wyatt Earp, The Hunger, Fearless Vampire Killers

July - Heat: SE, Goodfellas: SE

August - Jailhouse Rock, Viva Las Vegas, Tarzan the Ape Man, a Johnny Weismuller Box Set, Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Enter the Dragon: SE, Cleopatra Jones, Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires, Purple Rain: SE, Under the Cherry Moon, Graffiti Bridge

September - After Hours, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, Who's That Knocking at My Door?, The Lost Boys: SE

It's likely that those titles above that haven't yet been released in R1 will debut here later in 2004 as well. We've also confirmed with our sources that Warner is working on 2-disc SEs of Forbidden Planet and King Kong for 2004. We'll let you know when any official announcements get made.

This is MUCH more tenuous information, but a Brazilian industry contact has informed us that Warner's told him to expect the following additional DVD releases in 2004:

May - Matrix Revolutions

June - The Last Samurai, The Marx Brothers Collection

July - The Name of the Rose: SE

September - Smallville: The Compete Second Season

October - Troy, The Errol Flynn Collection

November - Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Gone With the Wind: SE

We'll try to confirm some of this with our own sources in the weeks ahead, so stay tuned.

We've heard from additional retail sources that New Line is telling them to expect the 2-disc The Return of the King theatrical version on DVD on May 25th, and the 4-disc extended version in the August-November timeframe. Of course, we'll let you know when we have official confirmation.

Also today, we've spoken with our sources at Paramount, and have learned that Ragtime, Day of the Locusts, Goodbye, Columbus, Rustler's Rhapsody and The Winds of War are all on the way for early summer 2004. You should also be aware that Star Trek: Voyager - Season Two has been delayed until May, which means that seasons 3-7 will be released on a more compressed schedule throughout the rest of the year.

We posted the rest of this in the daily column a few days ago, but it bears repeating again here:

Confirmed by Paramount to be coming in March are Sightings: Heartland Ghost, Dora the Explorer: Dora's Egg Hunt, Nick Jr. Celebrates Spring, SpongeBob SquarePants: SpongeBob Goes Prehistoric, Brother Sun, Sister Moon, The Ten Commandments: Special Collector's Edition (3/9), Resurrection Blvd.: The Complete First Season, Beyond Borders, The Singing Detective and The School of Rock. We're hearing 3/2 as the street date on School of Rock, featuring audio commentary with Jack Black and director Richard Linklater, commentary with the kids in the film, an interactive Dewey Finn's History of Rock and the featurettes Lessons Learned in School of Rock, Jack Black's Pitch to Led Zeppelin and Kids' Video Diary: Toronto Film Festival Piece. We're also expecting C.S.I.: The Complete Third Season in March (we're hearing 3/30 on that).

We've also been told by industry sources that more Comedy Central product is on the way from Paramount in 2004. For next summer, look for Reno 911!: The Complete First Season, The Joe Schmo Show: Uncensored, The Comedy Central Roast of Dennis Leary and That's My Bush!. And in the fall, you'll get Strangers with Candy: The Complete Third Season, Crank Yankers: The Complete First Season and South Park: The Complete Fourth Season. Plus, there's still a Top Gun: Special Edition in the works as well, although don't expect this before the end of 2004 at the earliest.

Stay tuned...



12/19/03

Ain't it Cool News is reporting a that rumor that New Line is balking on the price WETA Digital is charging to finish the effects for the extra footage that Peter Jackson plans to add back into The Return of the King for the extended edition DVD. The thought is that the studio might be planning to cheap out and use a budget-rate American effects house to finish the shots. We can't vouch for the validity of the rumor, but if it's true, we'll be seriously pissed here at The Bits. New Line... if you're reading this, don't even think about it. You've got a good thing going and these DVDs have really been a cut above the usual studio cookie cutter fare. This is NO time to try to shave a little more profit out of it. Let Jackson and WETA do whatever the hell they want to with the DVD and that's that. They've earned the right. We'll look into this and try to find out if it's really something the studio is considering. If it's true, someone's gonna get an earful from us.

Ain't it Cool is also reporting a list of the scenes to be added back into the film for the extended DVD. These include Gandalf confronting Saruman at Isengard, Merry pledging allegiance to Theoden at Edoras, Aragorn using the Palantir to reveal himself to Sauron, the Witch King confronting Gandalf during the battle of Pelennor Fields, the Houses of Healing scene in which Faramir and Eowyn meet, Frodo and Sam joining a column of orcs on the way to Mt. Doom and the infamous 'Mouth of Sauron' scene at the Black Gates. Glimpses of a few of these appeared in trailers for the film. We've also heard that the drinking game at Edoras between Gimli and Legolas will be added back in, along with possibly more footage showing other characters going into the West at the end of the film. Peter Jackson has said that approximately 65 minutes of material was cut from the film for its theatrical release, so a good portion of that could find its way back into the extended cut. We'll post more when we hear it.

Stay tuned...



12/16/03

Multiple retail sources have contacted me in the last 24 hours to say that they're being told to tentatively expect Warner's Matrix Revolutions on DVD on April 6th. No further information is available at this time, so take that for what you will.

Stay tuned...



12/8/03

We've got a few interesting rumors to report around the Net today. These don't come from our sources, but are interesting nonetheless.

First up, the Montreal Gazette recently interviewed Ngila Dickson, who was the costume designer for The Lord of the Rings films. In the interview, Dickson briefly reveals that she's heard of a "vast, gigantic" future DVD release of the entire trilogy. We all suspected New Line was probably going to release one eventually, but this is the first reasonably credible word we've heard about it.

In other news, The Force.net is reporting new rumors about next year's DVD release of the original Star Wars trilogy. Their sources have the DVDs streeting on November 4th as separate releases - not a box set. They're also reporting a rumor that Young Indy is coming soon. The Star Wars DVD info is different from what our sources have been reporting, but it does go toward proving that something IS definitely in the works.

Finally, Cinescape has picked up a Dark Horizons story that more Babylon 5 DVDs are on the way in 2004 (along with a possible new project related to the series).

Stay tuned...



11/20/03

IGN Film Force is reporting that Warner plans to release Matrix Revolutions on DVD on January 6th... something of a surprise given that it's a very short theatrical to home video release window. Reportedly this early release decision was made due to the film's dramatic domestic box office drop-off.

Anyway, just so you know, this is not official until Warner makes its announcement public, but a few of our retail sources are also reporting this 1/6 street date to us. We're being told to expect another basic movie-only edition with few extras, like Matrix Reloaded, and then possibly a special edition box set of all three films later in 2004. Again, this is very early information.

One other note today... we've heard from a number of interesting (and we believe reliable) inside sources that Lucsafilm is currently making major new changes to the original Star Wars films - the kind of changes he began a few years ago with the theatrical "Special Edition" releases. These changes include new special effects, revised and updated shots and scenes, and new footage shot with actors Hayden Christensen (Anakin) and Ian McDiarmid (the Emperor) that would flesh out moments with their characters in the original films. For example, an aged and scarred Hayden now appears as Anakin at the end of Return of the Jedi when Luke removes Vader's helmet. Among the other changes reportedly being made are the restoration of the original "Han shoots first" moment from Star Wars and a revamped lightsaber fight between Obi-Wan and Vader. What we've heard meshes with what we've been told before, which is that Lucas has always planned to release ultimate, "Archive" editions of these films that tie in better with the new prequels. The main question in our minds now is this: will these changes be completed in time to appear on the DVD releases planned for next September, or will we have to wait until after Episode III hits theaters to see them? And if we have to wait, what versions will appear on the DVDs? Time will tell.

Stay tuned...



11/18/03

We have word from studio sources on that Godfather DVD re-issue rumor that's been going around. There will be another Godfather DVD out next year, but it will ONLY be the first film, as a single-disc release. This will be basically the same disc that's currently in The Godfather DVD Collection, with the Coppola audio commentary. The only difference will be that the film's digital video file is being given an additional clean-up pass by Lowrey Digital. Watch for it in May 2004.

In an additional bit of Paramount info, we've confirmed that a special edition box set of all the Friday the 13th films is definitely in production, with bonus materials currently being assembled. No release date is set at the moment.

Finally, industry sources are telling us to expect Miramax's Kill Bill: Volume One on DVD on February 3rd. No word yet on extras, but you can reasonably expect this to be a special edition.

Stay tuned...



11/17/03

We've got some details for you on yet-to-be announced upcoming titles. First up, you'll be happy to know that Ralph Bakshi is soon to record audio commentary for the long-awaited DVD release of his animated Wizards, due next year from Fox.

Also on the commentary front, director Anthony Mingella has recently completed the recording of a new audio commentary track for the forthcoming special edition of The English Patient, also due early next year.

MGM is working on a new special edition of Sergio Leone's The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, which will include a new anamorphic widescreen transfer. With any luck, they'll do Fistfull of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More and A Fistful of Dynamite as well.

Paramount's Top Gun: Special Edition is still in production for release sometime in 2004. Look for a new anamorphic widescreen transfer, along with commentary, documentaries and more. Actor Tom Skerritt is among those interviewed on camera so far for the new disc.

Anchor Bay looks ready to bow a new Divimax special edition of Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits on DVD on January 27th. The title hasn't officially been announced yet, but you can already pre-order it on Amazon.

Also available for pre-order on Amazon, studio unknown, is a new DVD release of The Gods Must Be Crazy. Look for that on February 3rd. And the long-awaited The Final Countdown: Special Edition from Blue Underground is also available to pre-order on Amazon. It's due to be released on March 23rd, and will include both anamorphic widescreen and full frame video, as well as Dolby Digital 5.1 EX and DTS 6.1 ES audio. Extras are TBD. Watch the Blue Undergroun site for more on this.

Stay tuned...



11/6/03

Well, we've finally heard from our sources on that meeting that Lucasfilm held yesterday at the Presidio with their retail partners. Here's the skinny, and you guys are gonna love it... Star Wars: Episodes IV, V & VI are coming to DVD in September of 2004. The animated series of Clone Wars shorts appearing soon on the Cartoon Network will also be released on DVD, possibly before the end of this year. The teaser campaign for Episode III will begin in January of 2005, leading up to the May theatrical release. Finally... Episode III will hit DVD in November of 2005. This is going to be all over the Net soon, and you can already read more about it at Ain't it Cool News. Keep in mind that none of this is official until Lucasfilm publically announces it... but this is certainly, at long last, the real deal.

Stay tuned...



11/5/03

This is just a very quick update, but it's news we know a lot of you will be excited about.

First of all, Amazon.com is reporting a 2/3/04 street date for Buena Vista's delayed Ed Wood DVD. With any luck, this will be the fully-loaded special edition we've all been waiting for.

Also today, in a discussion forum post on the topic of a Marvel licensing conference call at News-a-Rama.com (a View Askew site), Toy Biz's Alan Fine is reported to have let slip that New Line's The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King will be released on DVD in May in 2004. This would presumably be the 2-disc version, with the 4-disc extended edition likely following later in the Summer or Fall. Just FYI, Toy Biz is the maker of all those Rings action figures. Keep this in the MAJOR rumor category until we've got confirmation from our sources. Interesting nonetheless.

Thanks to Bits readers Brendan S. and Nathan D. for the links.

Stay tuned...



10/31/03

According to information released on a German DVD forum, Warner Europe has announced the DVD release of several new titles for R2. It's possible these are soon to be announced by the studio for R1 release as well. Here's the list (thanks to Bits reader Christian L. for the tip).

3/18 - My Fair Lady: Special Edition

TBA - Mutiny on the Bounty, The Great Ziegfeld, Gaslight, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, Grand Hotel, Mrs. Miniver, Tom & Jerry: The Classic Collection, Volumes 1 & 2 and Kung Fu: Season One

Not done yet... we also have a list of upcoming Paramount catalog titles for early 2004. No street dates yet, but these are reportedly all in the works: Top Gun: Collector's Edition, We're No Angels (1989), Permanent Record, Brother Sun, Sister Moon, The Ten Commandments: Collector's Edition, The Greatest Show on Earth, The Little Prince, Half a Sixpence, Fat Man and Little Boy, The Molly Maguires and My Side of the Mountain.

Stay tuned...



10/21/03

This is a quick update to let you know that we heard an actual street for Universal's upcoming Schindler's List DVD. Word from retailers in the know is that Universal expects to release the DVD-18 disc on March 9th of next year. They've also been informed by the studio that The Sugarland Express and Duel will follow in 2004, so good news for you Spielberg fans.

Universal is also expected to release The Rundown in March as well.

Stay tuned...



10/15/03

This is just a quick update on Miramax's plans for The English Patient: Special Edition. Work is apparently well underway. Look for a brand new anamorphic widescreen transfer of the film, and some great extras, including newly recorded audio commentary with director Anthony Minghella. We've been told by sources at the studio to expect the DVD release sometime in early to mid 2004, timed to coincide with the DVD release of director Anthony Minghella's forthcoming Cold Mountain (due in theaters in December).

Stay tuned...



10/14/03

According to Nausicaa.net, Buena Vista has revealed the U.K. DVD release dates for the following Studio Ghibli titles:

April 2004 - Porco Rosso (Miyazaki), Whisper of the Heart (Screenplay by Miyazaki)

September 2004 - Only Yesterday (Isao Takahata), Pom Poko (Isao Takahata)

November 2004 - Nausicaa Valley of the Wind (Miyazaki), My Neighbour Totoro (Miyazaki)

It stands to reason that the U.S. will see a similar schedule, especially since Porco and Whisper are confirmed to have been dubbed already, Porco having a premiere at the Austin film fest on Tuesday. Since Howl's Moving Castle, Miyazaki's new film, will supposedly be released in fall 2004 in the U.S. only months after its July Japanese premiere, his two most popular films would make a good pairing to help promote that. Those with region free DVD players can take advantage of the entire Ghibli library on DVD in R2 and R3, all titles featuring English subs and, in some cases, English dubs.

Films still orphaned without U.S. release dates include My Neighbors the Yamadas (Takahata), I Can Hear the Sea (Ocean Waves) and The Cat Returns (a pseudo-sequel to Whisper of the Heart).

Stay tuned...



10/13/03

We have more evidence for you that the Star Wars Trilogy is coming to DVD in 2004. First of all, IGN Games has posted a story about the Rogue Squadron trilogy of games (previously exclusive to Nintendo) coming to the Xbox platform in 2004. Word is this is being timed to coincide with the release of the original films to DVD. Also, the Yakface.com website (which is dedicated to Star Wars memorabilia collecting) has learned that Lucasfilm is inviting its many corporate partners to an event at the Presidio (in San Francisco) on November 5th. The invitations read: "Lord Vader is planning a major assault. He summons you to share his top secret battle plans." With Episode III still nearly two years away from theaters, it's entirely possible that this meeting is intended to announce the DVD release plan to retailers for next year. Thanks to everyone who sent these stories in.

Also today, we have official confirmation from Lucasfilm's Jim Ward, via the Indy DVD event we attended on Saturday, that The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles TV series is currently in production for DVD release. There's no street date yet, but late 2004 is certainly possible.

You'll also be happy to know that we've confirmed with Paramount that special editions of The Untouchables, Top Gun, South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut and Titanic are on the studio's DVD production slate. Untouchables and Top Gun are planned for 2004, with Untouchables at least due early in the year. Don't expect Titanic before the end of 2004 at the earliest however. And yes, these will all feature anamorphic widescreen transfers.

Stay tuned...


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