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No doubt you've all heard the news by now of the passing of veteran Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert yesterday, at the age of 70, due to a return of the cancer he'd been fighting for many years. I had a whole regular news post prepared to go up this morning, but somehow it just didn't seem appropriate anymore.
I think lot of us today - certainly many of us here at The Bits and I'm sure at other movie and DVD/Blu-ray news sites around the Net too - have been a little surprised by how hard the news has hit us, but it makes perfect sense when you think about it. So many of us who write about film and videodiscs online have fond memories of meeting Roger in person at film festivals and screenings or talking about our favorite movies and filmmakers with him via e-mail. What a thrill it was to discover that Ebert had Tweeted a link to a post you'd written or mentioned it on his blog! Somewhere in my digital archives are a goodly series of e-mails we shared during two videodisc format wars discussing the future of the medium we both cared about so deeply. When I first learned back in 1998 or 99 that Roger was a Bits reader... well, I'll tell you, I felt like I'd finally arrived. If your thoughts about film mattered to Roger, then they mattered period. I know that many others out there in the online film and videodisc community have felt similarly honored by him over the years.
Roger Ebert was someone who spent his whole life sharing his passion for cinema with others, and that made him one of us - family in real and important way. Plus he wrote a Russ Meyer film, dammit, and that made him cool. So I'll simply close today's post, which we dedicate to his life and memory, by saying this:
Thank you, Roger. Thumbs up, from all of us!
- Bill Hunt
We’ve got a little more announcement news for you today, but first…
Our own Tim Salmons has turned in a review of Disney’s new Who Framed Roger Rabbit: 25th Anniversary Edition on Blu-ray Disc. Enjoy!
In announcement news this morning, Warner Home Video has set Everybody Loves Raymond: The Complete Ninth Season for DVD release on 4/16, followed by a 4 Film Favorites: John Wayne DVD box set (includes The Searchers, The Shootist, El Dorado and The Sons of Katie Elder) on 6/4, Misfits: Season Three, Doctor Who: Ep. 56 – The Mind of Evil, Doctor Who: Inferno – Special Edition and Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited: 1-4 on DVD on 6/11 (all for the BBC), Orphan Black: Season One on Blu-ray and DVD on 7/16 (also for the BBC) and finally Superjail!: Season Three on DVD on 7/23 (for Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim).
And Fox and Anchor Bay have set the CG-animated Escape from Planet Earth for Blu-ray and DVD release on 6/4.
Also today, Bits reader Brian T. e-mailed to say that he’s learned that William Friedkin’s restored version of Sorcerer will be screened at the Chicago Film Critics Association’s first annual Chicago Critics Film Festival on 4/14. Friedkin will attend the event in person and will participate in a Q&A after the film. Additional details and tickets are available here.
Here’s a look at the BD cover artwork for Lionsgate’s Snitch (due 6/11), First Look’s Upside Down (6/25) and Magnolia’s Into the White (also due 6/25)…
- Bill Hunt
We’ve got just a couple more quick announcements for you today…
Lionsgate has set Lord of Darkness for DVD only release on 6/25.
Lionsgate has also set the action thriller Snitch (starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) on 6/11. Extras will include the 50-minute Privileged Information: The Making of Snitch multi-part documentary, audio commentary with director Ric Roman Waugh and editor Jonathan Chibnall, and delete scenes.
BBC Home Entertainment will release Spies of Warsaw on Blu-ray and DVD on 4/16.
And Wolfe Video has set the drama A Portrait of James Dean: Joshua Tree, 1951 for DVD only release on 6/4.
Also today, Amazon.com is now taking pre-orders on the Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray and DVD versions of Paramount’s G.I. Joe: Retaliation, though there’s no street date yet available.
And with the passing of Jess Franco yesterday, I forgot to mention this, but yesterday was the 45th anniversary of the theatrical release of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. My old friend Michael Coate has posted a nice history of the initial release of the film over on Cinema Treasures. Enjoy!
We’ll leave you with a look at the Blu-ray artwork for Paramount’s G.I. Joe: Retaliation, as well as Lionsgate’s Betty & Coretta on DVD (due 6/11)…
- Bill Hunt
Afternoon, folks! Hope you guys all had an enjoyable and relaxing weekend.
Sarah and I actually spent our day Sunday in Palm Springs, CA, visiting with a vacationing Sue Maxwell… the wife of our dear friend Barrie Maxwell, the longtime Bits columnist who passed away last year. I’ll tell you… it was really great spending time catching up, reminiscing and of course talking about Barrie. Sue is doing well and mentioned to us again how much she appreciated it when so many of you guys sent kind e-mails and messages of support about Barrie’s passing. It meant everything to her and to Barrie’s whole family. Sue’s been staying in California for a few weeks visiting with family and friends – a trip she and Barrie had planned to make together at one point. So it was sure great to see her.
Here at The Bits today, our own Russell Hammond has updated the Release Dates and Artwork section with all the latest Blu-ray, DVD and Video Game cover artwork and Amazon.com pre-order links. As always, a portion of everything you order from Amazon after clicking through to them from our links goes to help support our work here at the site and we sure do appreciate it.
In announcement news today, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has revealed that it will be releasing the Netflix original series House of Cards on Blu-ray and DVD on 6/11 (SRP $65.99 and $55.99). The series stars Kevin Spacey. We’ll post details on extras, if any, as they come in.
Meanwhile, Universal has set Identity Thief and Mental for Blu-ray and DVD release on 6/4. The studio has also set Covert Affairs: Season Three and Suits: Season Two for DVD only release on 5/28.
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has set Burn Notice: Season Six for release on DVD on 6/11, followed by Wilfred: Season Two on both Blu-ray and DVD on 6/18.
Image Entertainment and RLJ Entertainment are releasing Sony’s Peggy Sue Got Married on Blu-ray Disc for the first time on 7/30, along with BD re-issues of Arlington Road on 7/16 and Gattaca on 7/9.
New Video has set Absence for release on Blu-ray/DVD Combo on 8/6.
A company called Section 23 will release Patlabor TV: Collection 1 on Blu-ray on 7/16.
And Wolfe Video and Sundance are releasing Mosquita y Mari on DVD only on 6/4.
Finally today, we must take a moment – sadly, to be sure – to acknowledge the passing of the legendary and prolific Spanish filmmaker Jess Franco, who help pioneer the low-budget cult/horror genre (fighting censorship every step of the way due his signature use of gore, violence and sex), with such classics as Dracula vs. Frankenstein, Vampyros Lesbos, Necronomicon, Oasis of the Zombies and Count Dracula. He died in Malaga, Spain, after suffering a stroke. The bit of silver lining in all this is that many of his best films are now available (or are coming soon) to Blu-ray and DVD from the folks at Kino Lorber, so they can be enjoyed for years to come. Franco was 82. Rest in peace.
We’ll leave you with a look at the BD art for Fox’s Wilfred: Season Two, as well as Sony’s Breaking Bad: The Fifth Season (due 6/4) and Parker (5/7)…
- Bill Hunt
All right, not much going on this April Fool’s Day, but we do have a couple of bits of announcement news for you. Rest assured, no foolin’ here.
First, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has set AMC’s Breaking Bad: The Fifth Season for Blu-ray and DVD release on 6/4 (SRP $65.99 and $55.99). The 2-disc BD and 3-disc DVD will each include 8 episodes, plus a ton of extra features including Inside Breaking Bad “making of” featurettes for every episode, audio commentaries on every episode with the cast and crew, deleted scenes, outtakes and 12 additional featurettes (The Master Cleaner: John Banks as Mike, Scene by Scene: Directors Discuss Memorable Moments, Making the Train Robbery, Gallery 1988 Art Show, Jesse Plemons Audition Footage, Laura Fraser Audition Footage, Writers’ Room Timelapse, Prison Stabbing Scene Rehearsal, Chicks ‘N’ Guns: Behind the Scenes, Chicks ‘n’ Guns Exclusive Scene: Chicks ‘n’ Guns, Chris Hardwick’s All-Star Celebrity Bowling and The Writers of Breaking Bad).
Sony has also set Absolute Deception and Beverly Lewis’ The Confession for release on DVD on 6/11.
Meanwhile CBS has set CSI: NY – The Ninth Season for DVD release on 6/25.
Twilight Time is taking pre-orders for Major Dundee (1965) on Blu-ray (street date TBA – SRP $34.95 – limited to 3,000 copies). The film stars Charlton Heston and Richard Harris. The 2-disc set will include both the theatrical and extended cuts, plus an isolated score track, silent extended outtakes, an excerpt from the exhibitor promo reel, an extended scene, and incomplete deleted scene and the original theatrical trailer.
And Disney has set Private Practice: The Complete Sixth and Final Season for DVD release on 5/7, followed by Perception: The Complete First Season on DVD on 5/21 and Red Widow: The Complete First Season on DVD on 5/28. The studio has also set Body of Proof: The Complete Third Season for DVD only release on 6/18.
Finally, we’d like to take a moment to acknowledge the passing of British actor Richard Griffiths, best known to American audiences as Uncle Vernon in the Harry Potter films. He passed away on Friday at the age of 65.
Back tomorrow with more. Stay tuned…
- Bill Hunt