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Site created 12/15/97.



page updated: 9/3/98



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 7/25/98 - 6/20/98)


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7/25/98

Sorry there were no updates yesterday. I spent my afternoon checking out what could be a very big story next week (more on that in a minute), as well as seeing Saving Private Ryan.

I'll make my Oscar pick right now: barring any surprisingly good films later this year (and none look to be forthcoming) Saving Private Ryan will be the next Best Picture, and Tom Hanks should walk away with another Best Actor statue. I know there are lots of people out there who are saying that the film is just too violent, and that no one under 18 should see it. But I think that anyone who lets their children play video games like Mortal Kombat, should make their children see this. They might learn something that too many kids these days haven't - the value of life.

Believe the reports you've been hearing - Saving Private Ryan is definitely the most accurate depiction of war ever filmed. It's brutal in its realism and honesty. As I walked out of the theater, I found myself wondering what twist of fate it was that allowed me to be born in a relatively peaceful time. Just 50 years ago (an eye-blink in all of history), an entire generation of young men from around world risked and lost their lives, so that we can enjoy the freedoms we have today. I wonder how many of us really appreciate this sacrifice? Saving Private Ryan is definitely a must-see.

OK, enough waxing philosophic. Check the Rumor Mill today for some interesting information I learned Thursday - could be a big DVD story next week. There's also some good upcoming DVD title information. Also, I'd like to send out a thank you to the good folks over at Cinescape, who made a nice reference to the Bits on their site yesterday. Stay tuned...!

7/23/98

OK, I managed to find that Seattle Times article from earlier this month, in which Chris Carter lets it slip that a DVD version of X-Files: Fight the Future is being prepared. Be sure to read it in the Rumor Mill. There's a brief note about the upcoming Paramount DVD title announcement too.

Also, after completing my Super Speedway review, I've been informed of two new pieces of information by Image's Garrett Lee. The disc is expected to retail in early September. Also, the disc has received the THX seal of approval, and its packaging will include the THX label. It really is a don't-miss DVD. More later...

7/22/98 - LATE UPDATE (11 AM PST)

Here's a hot update... one of my contacts has come through with a list of MGM DVD releases scheduled through the end of the year. There are some absolutely terrific titles on this list, so be sure to check it out in today's Rumor Mill update...

EARLY UPDATE (7/22/98 - 1 AM PST)

All right - the Super Speedway preview is now up! This DVD is really special - arguably the best DVD demo material yet produced to show off your home theater system. It will be available later this Summer (or early Fall) from Image Entertainment, so keep your eyes peeled for it.

I've also posted a new hardware review from Digital Man, of the Kenwood VR 2090 (a combo Dolby Digital / DTS receiver). Enjoy!

7/21/98

Just a quick note to let you all know that I just posted a DVD preview of Blues Brothers 2000, and I'm working on the preview of Super Speedway now (should be up tonight). Stay tuned...

7/20/98

So how was everyone's weekend? I spent my time upgrading my PC to Windows 98 (which I really dig so far), and watching stack of very interesting demo DVDs. I'll get to those in a minute. First, there's some interesting information in today's Rumor Mill about a possible Mallrats DVD. Also, the Trivia Contest for July is now up, giving everyone a chance to win a copy of Boogie Nights on DVD. Three runners-up will win the disc, and the grand prize winner will win the DVD, plus a CDPlayRight Trio for DVD Care Kit. So be sure to get your entries in. Now, on to the discs...

The first disc I watched this weekend, is the oft-mentioned POP Cineram DVD Center Demo Disc, which includes the clips from Independence Day, Volcano and Star Trek: First Contact (all of which look terrific - these titles should make great DVD releases... when they're finally released). These clips aside, the disc provides a brief glimpse at the DVD authoring and compression process.

Next on my watch list this weekend was Quantel's Looking Good on DVD (which does indeed look good). The disc is designed to illustrate just how good DVD video can be delivered. All of the film clips shown on the disc were scanned and converted directly into digital data - no telecine was involved. In addition the video runs at an average bit rate in excess of 9Mbps, with 2.0 Dolby Digital audio running at 192Kbps. It really is an outstanding demonstration of the format's capabilities.

Finally, Garrett Lee of Image Entertainment sent me the final v2.0 beta test pressing of their upcoming IMAX Super Speedway DVD. If you've read Image's Preview magazine recently, you'll know that Garrett believes this disc will be the demo disc to run on your home theaters. And after watching it, I'd have to agree with him. This disc looks and sounds awesome. Not only is the video terrific, but the 5.1 Dolby Digital surround mix is perhaps the most dynamic and immersive I've yet experienced on DVD. And the disc even has a 'making-of' documentary to boot. I'll post my full review of this title in tomorrow's update, so stay tuned...

7/18/98

Well, I've got to watch a stack of new DVDs this weekend, so I can start getting a lot more reviews up on the site (finally). But I wanted to post that George Lucas quote from American Cinematographer re: Star Wars on DVD (in today's Rumor Mill). I think you'll find it interesting, especially given that it was published all the way back in February of 1997. Always on the cutting edge, George was already thinking DVD way back then. Special thanks to Bits reader Grant Peterson for digging it up and transcribing it for all of us to enjoy. You'll also find a few new snippets of Paramount DVD information in today's post as well.

More later this weekend...

7/17/98 - LATE UPDATE (11:30 AM PST)

There's a new DVD-related article over on Techweb by Andy Patrizio. Entitled DVD, HDTV Gaining Consumer Favor, I think you'll find it interesting reading.

Also, I'm proud to say that the Bits is now listed as a source for DVD industry news and movie reviews at Apple's home page. My thanks to all those who made that possible.

PREVIOUS UPDATE (7/17/98 - 3 AM PST)

There are a couple of very exciting things to be found in today's update of the Bits.

First of all, you'll find just about everything you want to know about the disc features on Paramount's upcoming DVD titles in the Rumor Mill. Just as exciting, I was recently able to get my hands on an advance copy of Republic's It's a Wonderful Life DVD. The disc streets officially on August 18th, but you can get your first look at it here. Here's a hint - this is one disc you won't want to miss!

Whew... not bad for one day, huh?

7/16/98

No sooner do I post the Paramount information, word of the first possible Fox DVD titles comes my way. This situation should be interesting, and I'll be following it closely (as I'm sure all of you will as well). Check the Rumor Mill today for the scoop.

I've been getting a lot of e-mail asking about Fox DVD plans, and why they didn't announce at VSDA. Those who want to know exactly what's going on with Fox, should read my Thursday, July 9th report from VSDA (posted on the 12th). Official word from Paramount on their DVD product is covered in the Wednesday, July 8th update (see Page 2). Also in the VSDA coverage is a detailed look at the other studios' upcoming DVD titles, so be sure to check it out.

Finally, there are a trio of interesting articles on Divx (directly and indirectly) on the Net, that you all might want to check out. Here are the links:

From USAToday - Digital quality may come with a price
From News.com - IBM, NEC to secure DVD
From CNet - Divx: new convenience or digital disaster?

Best until tomorrow!

7/15/98

Well, I've got a list of at least a few of the titles I'm told Paramount is working on for DVD release starting in September. Check them out in the Rumor Mill today.

Thanks to everyone who sent comments on our VSDA coverage here at the Bits. From the overwhelming response, it sounds like a lot of you enjoyed the reports, despite the delays. I'm finally rested and recovered from the experience, so expect more activity around here in the next few days!

And remember, please try to be civil if you decide to communicate your desire for DVD support to Fox and DreamWorks, all right? You might be surprised at the result.

7/14/98

You can now see just about everything that happened at the convention in the VSDA '98 Picture Gallery. Be sure to check it out and keep those VSDA coverage comments coming.

In other, non-VSDA news, CEMA numbers indicate that more than 625,000 DVD players have been sold into retail as of July 3rd. I'm working on some new DVD reviews, including a very exciting title that's yet-to-be-released! Also, the July Trivia Contest will be up in the next few days, so stay tuned...

7/12/98 - LATE UPDATE (9PM PST)

All right! All of the VSDA reports are now on-line! Gods, am I tired! Well, enjoy the reports, and be sure to e-mail me to let me know what you think. I'll try to respond to everyone... after I get about 15 hours of sleep!

One quick word of warning - there is a just-released DVD version of Fritz Lang's Metropolis (from Madacy Entertainment) now appearing in stores for only $9.99. Don't bother with it - the transfer is terrible, and looks like it was done by a monkey! The frame is cropped too closely and slightly off to one side, making all of the title cards virtually unreadable. Also, this edition is only 115 minutes long - the full-length running time of Metropolis is 120 minutes. Don't waste your $$$.

More as soon as I recover from VSDA! Best Wishes!

PREVIOUS UPDATE (7/12/98 - 8 AM PST)

Sorry to keep everyone waiting for the remainder of the reports from VSDA. The problem has been the tremendous amount of time required to load all the pictures we shot for the reports (some 70 per day) from the digital camera to the laptop, then choose the ones we want to use, and convert them to web-ready .jpg files for the page. The actual reports are written already. Sorry about the delay - I know I promoted the VSDA coverage as daily, but it just look far longer than expected. I also had to spend most of my actual time at the show running around doing the physical legwork of reporting. So please bear with me - I really am doing the best I can here... it's just a LOT of work! All the remaining reports (Thursday, Friday & VSDA Picture Gallery) will be up later today, so stay tuned, and thanks for your patience!

7/9/98 - LATE UPDATE (11:55 PM PST)

OK, the Wednesday report is finally up. Click here to check it out. It includes an inside report on the DVD Video Group's luncheon, as well as a look at what happened on the show floor on Day One. There's some interesting DVD info in the report. The only big DVD news to come out of the show on Wednesday however (as you no doubt have heard), is the official announcement of Warner's new three-tiered DVD pricing. You'll find the press release on the Warner page of the Studio News section. Stay tuned for Thursday and Friday reports, and a VSDA Picture Gallery, coming soon...!

PREVIOUS UPDATE (7/9/98 - 5 PM PST)

Sorry for the delay with the first two reports. No sooner had I uploaded my 7/7 report, a technical glitch fritzed out my laptop, and prevented me from sending the 7/8 update last night! Must be a Divx 'ghost in the machine' - go figure! Anyway, the problem was quickly corrected this morning, but I had to leave early to sit in on a VSDA panel discussion on DVD (entitled DVD Video: The Future is Now) with Widescreen Review editor Gary Reber. On the panel were Warren Lieberfarb of Warner, and Ben Feingold of Columbia/TriStar. I took lots of notes, and some pictures, so it should make a nice companion to my upcoming report on the DVD Video Group's luncheon on Wednesday. I will have the 7/8 report up soon, and today's report early tomorrow morning. I'm also going to create a picture album, featuring lots of images taken during the show, which will be up this weekend, following my Friday 7/10 report. So hang in there and here's to hoping there's some kind of DVD announcement made tomorrow. I'll have some insights on Paramount and Fox in tonight's report however. Stay tuned...!

7/8/98

Well, doing the web site via laptop has proven more of a challenge than I anticipated... meaning that it's taking me a LOT more time than I expected! But I've got the first update (a recap of Tuesday night's Image Entertainment party) up now, and I'm working (even as you read this - trust me, it's like 2AM right now) on the Wednesday recap. There will be lots of pictures, so I think you'll find it interesting. I also attended the DVD Video Group luncheon on Wednesday, so there's some very interesting DVD info coming your way. I'll note it here as soon as the Wednesday update is posted. In the meantime, the Wednesday link is live, but will be broken until it's up. Click here to start reading. And check back soon!

7/7/98

OK, I'm off to Vegas! Just to let you know, all updates to the Bits the next few days will be made on the VSDA page, so be sure to check there for daily news.

I've decided to save the Score Card for the weekend - that way I can include each studio's DVD announcements from the show in the ratings and comments. If I posted it now, the information would be obsolete before the week was done.

In the meantime, hang in there! Try to remain calm, and hopefully we'll all be pleased with the DVD news of the next few days. Best Wishes!

7/6/98 - LATE UPDATE (2:30 PM PST)

Well, just two days from VSDA and already the press releases are flying! Buena Vista Home Video just issued a statement to the effect that they are partnering with Warner Bros to launch their DVD product in Europe. More importantly, the press release reveals their plans to release animated classics like Dumbo and Alice In Wonderland to DVD very soon. Read their full announcement here.

I've just been sent information on the September release lineup from Columbia/TriStar and MGM. Check the Rumor Mill for the latest.

Also, I'm beginning to archive several pages of the Bits to improve low-bandwidth load times. I've started with the Rumor Mill, and will be doing the home page as well. Let me know how it improves things. Thanks and stay tuned...!

7/6/98 (8 AM PST)

OK, the Studio Score Card is almost complete! I've had to go through comments from some 600 readers on the various studios' DVD releases, so it's taken me quite a lot of work. I should have the Score Card up late tonight, so be sure to check back in the morning. I've included my opinions and evaluation of each studio, given each a rating, and included a sample of readers comments. I'm also giving some feedback on the DVD format in general (based on my impressions and readers' comments) - what we like, what we don't, the definition of a good and bad DVD, and the direction we'd like to see the format go. So check back tomorrow morning!

Finally, updates will be sparing the next day or two, as I prepare to head to Las Vegas for the Video Software Dealers Association convention. However, I will be updating the Bits direct from VSDA, each weeknight of the show (Wed - Fri)! Armed with a digital camera and my trusty laptop, I'm going to try to give all of you a look behind the scenes at the convention. And of course, I'll be sure to recap all of the big DVD news of the day. Updates should be posted by 10 PM (PST) each night. It promises to be an exciting week, so be sure to tune in starting Wednesday night! Best until then...!

7/4/98

Go figure! The moment I try to do the responsible thing and caution all of you not to expect a Fox DVD announcement next week, what happens? I get info that they may announce after all! This sudden barrage of inside info can only mean one thing - VSDA is near! Check the Rumor Mill for the details...

Sorry for the delay on my Studio Score card. I've had a sudden flurry of last minute comments from readers, that I wanted to go through before posting. And Independence Day has naturally gotten in the way (and I don't mean the alien invasion flick!). I will definitely finish it over the weekend, and have it up by Monday (just in time for VSDA).

I hope all you Yanks out there have a great 4th of July holiday, and for everyone else... have a great weekend!

7/3/98

Before I start off on Armageddon, let me tell you all that today's update of the Rumor Mill has a brief summary of what I'm told is likely to come out of the forthcoming VSDA convention. Bits reader Herman Fung sent me a .jpg file of the Open DVD Billboard in San Francisco, so be sure to check it out (thanks Herman!). And the long-awaited Studio Score Card should be up by later this evening.

Now, on to business. I saw Armageddon yesterday, and well... it was really bad. All right, as Dennis Miller says, "I don't mean to get off on a rant here, but..." Armageddon is pretty much a disaster (no pun intended).

OK, I liked about 30 minutes of it - 15 minutes at the beginning, when a meteor shower was destroying lots of stuff ('cause the effects were terrific), and 15 minutes right around the launch of the shuttles ('cause anyone who's read my Apollo 13 review will know that I just really dig the 'can-do' astronaut stuff). Billy Bob Thornton is always terrific, and definitely delivers here. I'll even admit that Bruce Willis gives it his best in Armageddon.

But there are two things that really irk me in a movie: 1) scenes that are staged solely for the purpose of tugging heart strings and pushing emotional buttons, and 2) events that are so implausible that they defy my ability to suspend belief, even in a big-budget Hollywood action movie. Now either one of these, found sparingly, is acceptable. But Armageddon shamelessly and repeatedly employs both time and time again.

Stages scenes abound in this flick. How about Liv Tyler standing doe-eyed and downcast (her most common expression) in front of the American flag as her loved ones are blasted into space? Or a crowd of Hindus raising their hands to the sky in tribute? Or the kids riding their space shuttle go-carts in a happy little town in the happy little heartland of America? Or the kids running with their space shuttle toys past a large picture of John F. Kennedy? Or, worst of all, the sappy montage of his life that passes before Willis' eyes at the end? I could go on and on...

Anybody find it hard to believe, that with only 17 days left until doomsday, NASA would waste time giving physical and psychological exams to the only people capable of saving the Earth? "I'm sorry Mr. Stamper. You and your men are our only hope, but you failed your Rorshack tests, so I guess we're all screwed." Anyone else think that launching two space shuttles (carrying nuclear warheads) nearly simultaneously from launch pads only a few hundred yards apart constitutes a bit of a flight safety hazard? There's even a shot where the first shuttle's solid rocket boosters fall away... and nearly hit the second shuttle! I'm supposed to believe that they were able to transfer 90% of their needed fuel in the 6 seconds before things started going wrong on the Russian space station (what was that all about, anyway)? And as they slingshot around Moon at 10 Gs, Steve Buscemi and company are cracking jokes! At 10 Gs, the pressure against your chest would make breathing difficult, much less talking. And the loose skin on your face would start to pull back, making you look like a character in a Bill Plympton cartoon. Could anyone really survive crashing into an iron asteroid at 22,000 miles an hour? Anyone else think carrying a loaded gun on a spacecraft pressurized against vacuum is a bad idea? And what was with that Evil Knievel Snake River Canyon jump on the asteroid, anyway? Yikes man!

I'm really disappointed in director Michael Bay. The Rock wasn't a great film, but it was great action, and it worked from beginning to end. Nothing was so over the top that I couldn't buy into it for the sake of the rollercoaster ride. Armageddon, on the other hand, was just too much. Funny thing is, the most plausible thing in the movie was that an asteroid really could hit the Earth and wipe out all life. There are thousands of them out there. And the total number of people working to find them all, would barely staff an average-sized Dairy Queen.

My prediction... $80,000,000 in the first weekend. Oh well.

7/2/98

A major new piece of information was passed to me yesterday about Warner's DVD plans, that if true, is really terrific news. It pertains to their DVD pricing structure, and includes tentative release information for a number of upcoming titles. Check the Rumor Mill today for the whole scoop...

I've got a couple of requests to make of readers in the Divx test markets (San Francisco and Richmond). First of all, I've been getting lots of good information, from consumers and employees of Circuit City and Good Guys stores, about Divx's sales activities. But you can never have too much information. So if you happen to drop by one of the stores selling Divx, or work in one, please e-mail me with a report.

Second, a number of people in the Bay area have been telling me that there's a big open DVD billboard there, similar to the one I mentioned in yesterday's post (click here to see it). I'd like to ask if someone could take a photograph of it, and either send me the picture via snail mail, or send me a large .jpg file of it to post here. It's apparently located next to Highway 101, as you enter San Francisco from the south. There's also another (or perhaps the same one, I don't know the area) located near the 80/1 split near downtown. If you can help in this 'quest', I (and the 10,000 - 20,000 other readers who visit the Bits every day) would really appreciate it!

Just to let you know, in addition to receiving a free DVD, one lucky winner of the July Trivia Contest will also recieve a CD PlayRight Max Kit for DVD! You may remember that I recently reviewed this product, and found it to be a terrific way to protect and repair your DVDs. The July contest should be up shortly after I return from VSDA, so stay tuned!

There is a bunch of new DVD title information in the Studio & DVD News section, from MGM and Warner Bros, so be sure to check it out.

And finally, I'll have the Studio Score Card up by tomorrow - promise. Best Wishes until then...!

7/1/98

Wow is it July already? Time sure flies, doesn't it?

First off, I'd like to congratulate the three winners of the June Trivia Contest, who each won a DVD copy of L.A. Confidential. And I'd also like to thank the other 188 readers who participated. I though it was a pretty fun contest this month - what did you think? The July contest will start as soon as I return from VSDA, so be sure to check back.

Some great news! You might remember that in a May update of the Rumor Mill, I broke the news that Target would be carrying DVD, starting in late June. Well, I have just returned from my local Target store (for those in Orange County, CA, it's the one at the corner of Culver and Barranca in Irvine), and surprise - they've got DVD! They apparently just put the product out yesterday - 3 different players and 50-60 movie titles! You'll find a Phillips Magnavox model (I believe it's the DVD400AT) for $379.99, and both the Panasonic A105 and Toshiba SD2107 for $399.99. The best news... the DVD title selection is excellent and prices range from $19.99 to $24.99! They even had a fair-quality display running - the Panasonic player connected to a 25" TV, and signage featuring the DVD logo and all the selling points. For the record, Spice World (yick) was playing. With more and more mainstream retail chains carrying DVD, anyone who doubts that it's here to stay had better begin to reevaluate their position...

Finally, wanna see the World's Biggest DVD Player? Then waste no time, and click here!

Have a great July 1... more tomorrow!

6/30/98

Some exciting news for DVD fans in Europe - Warner is planning to release a bunch of new discs there on September 25th. Check the Studio & DVD News section for the latest.

I will have the Studio Score card up by tomorrow, so keep giving me your comments on what you like and don't like about the quality of the various studios' DVD releases.

We're gearing up for VSDA here at the Bits. I will be attending the show from Tuesday night, through Friday (7th - 10th) of next week. I'm going to be meeting with representatives from the studios, taking lots of pictures and (hopefully) doing daily updates from the show each day. Note: If you represent a studio or other organization that will be exhibiting there, send me an e-mail. My goal is to give Bits readers a look at the show, and what goes on there. So stay tuned!

Also, I will be announcing the winners of this month's Trivia Contest later this evening, so be sure to check back, and thanks to all who entered!

6/28/98

OK, finally... I've got it right. I neglected to mention that I was using AFI's list of 400 nominees when calculating my list of DVDs, not the Top 100 list - yikes! Guess my enthusiasm got the best of me! Thanks to everyone who pointed this out. I'm the first to admit when I'm wrong, so there it is! I have since recalculated the list based on the correct Top 100 list, and removed my earlier errors. Here is the official AFI Top 100 Films list, in order of selection. Films in Bold face type have already been released to DVD (as of 6/28, there are 33):

1. Citizen Kane
2. Casablanca
3. The Godfather
4. Gone With the Wind
5. Lawrence of Arabia
6. The Wizard of Oz
7. The Graduate
8. On the Waterfront
9. Schindler's List
10. Singin' in the Rain
11. It's a Wonderful Life
12. Sunset Boulevard
13. The Bridge on the River Kwai
14. Some Like it Hot
15. Star Wars
16. All About Eve
17. The African Queen
18. Psycho
19. Chinatown
20. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
21. The Grapes of Wrath
22. 2001: A Space Odyssey
23. The Maltese Falcon
24. Raging Bull
25. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
26. Dr. Strangelove
27. Bonnie & Clyde
28. Apocalypse Now
29. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
30. Treasure of the Sierra Madre
31. Annie Hall
32. The Godfather, Part II
33. High Noon
34. To Kill a Mockingbird
35. It Happened One Night
36. Midnight Cowboy
37. The Best Years of Our Lives
38. Double Indemnity
39. Doctor Zhivago
40. North by Northwest
41. West Side Story
42. Rear Window
43. King Kong
44. The Birth of a Nation
45. A Streetcar Named Desire
46. A Clockwork Orange
47. Taxi Driver
48. Jaws
49. Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs
50. Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid
51. The Philadelphia Story
52. From Here to Eternity
53. Amadeus
54. All Quiet on the Western Front
55. The Sound of Music
56. M*A*S*H
57. The Third Man
58. Fantasia
59. Rebel Without a Cause
60. Raiders of the Lost Ark
61. Vertigo
62. Tootsie
63. Stagecoach
64. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
65. The Silence of the Lambs
66. Network
67. The Manchurian Candidate
68. An American in Paris
69. Shane
70. The French Connection
71. Forrest Gump
72. Ben-Hur
73. Wuthering Heights
74. The Gold Rush
75. Dances with Wolves
76. City Lights
77. American Graffiti
78. Rocky
79. The Deer Hunter
80. The Wild Bunch
81. Modern Times
82. Giant
83. Platoon
84. Fargo
85. Duck Soup
86. Mutiny on the Bounty
87. Frankenstein
88. Easy Rider
89. Patton
90. The Jazz Singer
91. My Fair Lady
92. A Place in the Sun
93. The Apartment
94. Goodfellas
95. Pulp Fiction
96. The Searchers
97. Bringing Up Baby
98. Unforgiven
99. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
100. Yankee Doodle Dandy

You can certainly see why this list was controversial. How did Shawshank Redemption, Touch of Evil, Meet Me in St. Louis, Blade Runner, Gandhi and All the President's Men not make the list? Oh well - it's only 100 films. It was, no doubt, a difficult task, and I admire AFI for trying. At least It's A Wonderful Life is on its way to DVD. And hopefully Warner will get the hint and finally release Citizen Kane to DVD. I've been asking them about it for a long time...

As a follow-up to the main list, I decided to post a second list - AFI Top 100 Films coming to DVD. All of these films have either been officially announced, have mentioned in press conferences or press releases as being in development for DVD, or have been revealed to distributors. They are presented here in no particular order:

1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (#22 - 8/25 - MGM)
2. Dances With Wolves* (#75 - 3rd or 4th qtr - Image)
3. It's a Wonderful Life (#11 - 8/18 - Republic)
4. An American In Paris (#68 - no date - MGM)
5. My Fair Lady (#91 - no date - Warner)
6. Casablanca (#2 - November - MGM)
7. Ben-Hur (1959 - #72 - no date - MGM)
8. Some Like it Hot (#14 - no date - MGM)
9. From Here to Eternity (#52 - no date - Columbia)
10. Easy Rider (#88 - no date - Columbia)
11. Gone With the Wind (#4 - November - MGM)
12. Doctor Zhivago (#39 - 7/28 - MGM)
13. The Gold Rush (#74 - 8/4 - DDED)
14. American Graffiti (#77 - 9/15 - Universal)

*Note: although Dances With Wolves has been previously released as a special promotional DVD with RCA players, it has not been officially been released at retail, and thus does not belong on the list of available titles.

I also have unofficial information on at least 3 other titles from the AFI Top 100 list, that I'm told are currently in development for DVD. I won't mention them here until I have more reliable confirmation, but a thorough read of the Rumor Mill from the last month or two will reveal a few of titles.

Stay tuned...!

6/26/98

A correction to something I posted in the Rumor Mill yesterday. Warner's new SRP for Sphere and U.S. Marshals will be $19.99, making the street price for consumers $16.99. No confusion was intended. I've reworded my original post. This news is official by the way, so I've also posted it on the Studio & DVD News Section.

You will also find some interesting new rumors on Divx and Titanic in today's update of the Rumor Mill. Stay tuned...!

6/25/98

Due to the tremendously overwhelming response to this month's Trivia Contest, I've decided to give away two more copies of the L.A. Confidential DVD (for a total of three)! So keep the entries coming, and thanks to everyone who is participating!

I've done a little research, and added a couple of new tracking categories to the DVD Sales Stats section. The first is Estimated Canadian DVD Player Sales, which is calculated at 10% of U.S. domestic sales (as suggested by an number of manufacturers I contacted). By adding that number to the U.S. sales number, you get a better picture of Region 1 market size. The other new statistic, is the Number of AFI Top 100 Films on DVD. The second number (in brackets) is the number of additional AFI Top 100 titles my sources indicate are in the works for this year. I'm pleased to report that nearly a third of these films are already spinning in DVD players!

Finally, my sources have been able to confirm Warner's upcoming price reduction. I'm digging for official info, but in the meantime, you'll find it in the Rumor Mill, along with some interesting info on Divx's supposed day-and-date Titanic release that's come my way... Stay tuned!

6/24/98

Well, it looks as if the Divx test launch isn't exactly all Circuit City hoped it would be. Several 'moles' within Circuit City and Good Guys stores in the test markets have been reporting to me on the launch progress, and it doesn't look good for Divx. The full report is in today's Rumor Mill.

I've been hearing that the lack of new DVD title announcements the last couple of months, will be more than made up for by the titles you'll see from all the studios this fall. Summer is typically a slow time in the home video industry anyway, as studios concentrate on gearing up for the 3rd and 4th quarter sales seasons. If what the studios are telling me is true, some very big titles will be hitting DVD later this year. I don't have any specifics other than what I've posted in the Rumor Mill recently, but definitely stay tuned. There should be big news coming out of VSDA...

Just in case you didn't know it already, EMA Multimedia is holding their first annual DVD Awards. Everyone is invited to vote for their favorite DVDs at the official awards site. The winners will be posted in August, so be sure to start getting your votes in. As many of you know, EMA has produced some of the best looking interactive menus for DVDs, thus far.

Finally, the American Film Institute recently announced their choices for the 100 greatest American films of all time. You can see the results at their web site. Of interesting note, is that quite a number of them have already been released to DVD, or are in the works. Anyone out there have specific numbers on this? More tomorrow...

6/22/98

Some interesting information on Fox's reported first DVD titles has just come my way. You'll find it in today's Rumor Mill. The June Trivia Contest is now open, giving you all a chance to win a DVD copy of L.A. Confidential. The contest is a fun one this month, so be sure to check it out.

Hope you all had a good weekend! I capped off Friday morning's viewing of the X-Files movie, by attending a taping of HBO's Dennis Miller Live, featuring Ed Harris of The Truman Show. Dennis usually has a theme for each episode, and this week's was... conspiracies, of course! I also managed to sneak in a showing of Six Days, Seven Nights, which was an entirely charming Sunday afternoon's diversion.

I'd like to send a quick congratulations to my friend Frank, who just received his Master of Fine Arts degree from UCLA. Well done Frank!

Finally, I'd like to send my sincere thanks out to all the readers who voted for the Bits in the Internet Top 100. I learned last night, to my great surprise, that the Bits is now #1 on the list! I really am grateful to all of you, and honored that you enjoy reading the Bits. Stay tuned, and I'll try to keep it interesting...!

6/20/98

The Truth is Out There... at a theater near you! OK, here's my nickel review of the X-Files: Fight the Future. Please note that I will not review the plot, and I won't give too much away (I refuse to spoil it for those who have yet to see it):

First of all, the film does stand on its own. You don't have to know anything about The X-Files to enjoy the film. The bad guys are clearly bad guys, the good guys are engaging, and the plot's got plenty of mystery and action. I went with my wife and brother (neither of whom are fans of the show) and both of them really enjoyed the film.

The cinematography is really fantastic - all the dark, dynamic imagery we've come to expect from the show, looks great on the wide screen. The effects are very good, until near the end, where a couple of shots don't quite measure up (you'll know what I mean). But it still works pretty well. The film visits locations unlike any seen in the show before, which I'm told, is a taste if what we can expect from the show from now on, now that the production is moving here to L.A.

The acting is all first rate: Martin Landau and Armin-Mueller Stahl, in particular, are fantastic additions to the gallery of spooks and wierdos that populate the X-Files mythology.

We do get to see a little more deeply into the lives of Mulder and Scully than ever before. I won't say much about 'the kiss' except that it's handled very well. Suffice it to say that the events of the film serve to very much deepen their relationship, and to reinvigorate their determination to seek the truth.

As for what secrets you do and don't learn... you will leave the theater with a complete understanding of the Conspiracy and the alien's insidious plan for the Earth. You will understand what the black oil is all about (which I think is a pretty cool idea) and what all those bees are for. You will learn a lot more about the aliens themselves, and even see a few. But you won't learn what happened to Samantha, and nothing is revealed about Cancer Man. I let you know this to prevent you from hoping for too much from the film.

That, I think, is the key to really enjoying this film. If you go in expecting to be blown away by an awesome film, you'll be disappointed. On the other hand, if you go in expecting a really big, grand two-hour episode of the series, you'll really dig it. This isn't so much a criticism of the film, rather it's more a testament to the terrific quality of the series week in and week out.

Bottom line: X-Files: Fight the Future was, for me, an entirely satisfying first trip to the big screen. Mulder and Scully work just fine up there on the larger canvas. The film gives you everything you've come to expect from good X-Files and more. It very much energizes the series as it enters the 6th season, a year in which (I'm told) we will learn more about Cancer Man, Agent Spender, Agent Fowley, Samantha and maybe even Area 51 to boot. Cudos to Chris Carter and company for a fun first flick. I, for one, am looking forward to many more.

Bill Hunt, Editor
The Digital Bits


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