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page updated: 4/18/05



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 4/1/05 - 3/7/05)


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4/1/05

Morning, folks. There's some new and recent upcoming DVD announcements worth mentioning today.

First, Warner has announced the release of a series of World War II-related documentaries from the BBC on 7/19. These include Battle of the Atlantic, D-Day to Berlin, Horror in the East, The Nazis: A Warning from History and The War of the Century (SRP $19.98 each). All will be available together in the massive, 12-disc BBC History of World War II box set (SRP $149.98), due the same day.

Also today, MGM has announced their May, June and July DVD slates. Some titles are already known, but much of this is new information. In May, look for the Spaceballs: Collector's Edition (5/3), Kart Racer (5/10), Dance with Me Henry, I'll Take Sweden, The Noose Hangs High, The Princess and the Pirate, The Steve McQueen Gift Set (including The Magnificent Seven: Special Edition, The Great Escape, The Thomas Crowne Affair - with a new transfer - and Junior Bonner), Escort West, Hour of the Gun, Invitation to a Gunfighter, More Dead Than Alive, Sam Whisky, The Hunting Party and The Scalphunters (all 5/17), and Fascination and Throw Momma from a Train (5/31).

In June, look for Be Cool, Stargate Atlantis: Pilot Episode, Fireball 500/Thunder Alley, Morons from Space/Alien from L.A., The Mini-skirt Mob/Chrome and Hot Leather, Never Let Go, The Blockhouse, The Naked Truth and What's New Pussycat? (all on 6/7), and The Outer Limits: New Series (including Death & Beyond, Mutation & Transformation, Aliens Among Us and Fantastic Androids & Robots), Loch Ness and Starchaser: Legend of Orin (all on 6/21).

And in July, look for Bill & Ted's Most Excellent Collection (including Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey plus an exclusive bonus disc), The Garbage Pail Kids Movie, The Magic Sword, Sinbad of the Seven Seas, Hercules/Hercules II: The Adventures of Hercules, Illegally Yours, Love at First Bite, National Lampoon's Class Reunion, National Lampoon's Movie Madness, Teen Witch, Weekend at Bernie's and The Party Animal (all on 7/12), Dead Like Me: Season Two (on 7/19), and Errol Morris' First Person: The Complete Series, The Errol Morris DVD Collection (including Gates of Heaven, The Thin Blue Line and Vernon, Florida), Bolero, Mata Hari, Wild Orchid 2: Blue Movie Blue, Warm Summer Rain and Lady Chatterley's Lover (all on 7/26).

In addition to the two movies and the bonus disc, Bill & Ted's Most Excellent Collection will include The Original Bill & Ted: In Conversation with Chris & Ed, The Most Triumphant Making-of Documentary, Score! An Interview with Guitarist Steve Vai, an air guitar tutorial with Bjorn Toroque & The Rockness Monster, The Hysterical Personages of Bill & Ted (in 3 Minutes or Less), One Sweet and Sour Chinese Adventure to Go, Bill and Ted's Excellent Comic Book and radio spots.

Also today, Criterion has added François Truffaut's Jules and Jim (#281) to its May slate, and Ernst Lubitsch's Heaven Can Wait (#291), Robert Bresson's Au hasard Balthazar (#297), Kô Nakahira's Crazed Fruit (#295) and Anthony Asquith's The Browning Version (#294) to its June slate. Criterion has also revealed that Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (co-issued with Buena Vista) will carry the landmark catalog number of #300.

And around the site this morning, we've updated the DVD software sales and rental charts (above), along with the CEA DVD Player Sales numbers for the last week of February and the first two weeks of March.

We've also have a brand new Artist of the Month for April - Brett Underhill. Brett's a great illustrator and painter from Madison, Wisconsin - one of my favorite places on the planet. Brett's work has great dramatic flair and a wonderful sense of humor, so please take a moment when you can to check out his artist page here at The Bits and visit his Porkchop Bob Graphics website.

Okay, before I close today... there's obviously been a lot of sad news this week, given the Terri Schiavo controversy, the terrible earthquake in tsumani-ravaged Indonesia and now reports that the Pope's condition is worsening this morning. I think it's made a lot of us consider our own mortality. Without trying to sound preachy, it's worth remembering at a time like this that we probably all need to tell the people we care about, our family and friends, how much we appreciate them more often.

With that in mind, I'd like to take a moment today to say just how much we appreciate all of you out there who read this site. Many of you have been with us since we first started back in 1997. Some of you may just have discovered us recently. Know that we're honored to count you all among our readers. The Bits is a labor of love, and you guys make all the work worthwhile. So on behalf of all of us here at The Digital Bits (myself, Todd, Sarah, Matt, Adam, Barrie, Robert and all the rest), best wishes for the weekend and we'll see you back here on Monday.

Oh... and to you hardy folk who are tomorrow officially starting the line-up to see Star Wars: Episode III on May 19th up at the Chinese Theater in L.A. (no kidding - we're six weeks out and the line starts tomorrow)... a little good Force vibes out to you all from your friends at The Bits!

Someone save me a seat, will ya? ;-)

3/31/05

We've got a couple of quick news follow-ups for you today.

First, during Tuesday night's chat at the HTF, reps from Warner Home Video indicated that their Best Picture-winning Million Dollar Baby will be announced "soon". Good to know, as we've been getting a LOT of questions about the title. You can be sure we'll post the official details as soon as they're available.

Next, we've followed up with our Universal sources and have now been told that director David Lynch's participation in the Dune: Extended Edition isn't a done deal yet. It IS the reason the title was delayed, but the details about Lynch's involvement are apparently still in discussion. So we're going to suggest that our previous post is best considered Rumor Mill-worthy for the time being, until things are more official. We've amended the earlier post accordingly. I don't want to get anyone's hopes too high, but I have to tell you mine are pretty well into the stratosphere at the moment. Let's all cross our fingers on this one, because Lynch's Dune ranks right up there with Ridley Scott's Blade Runner at the top of the list of films that most deserve revisiting by their directors on DVD. We'll keep you posted.

Finally today, I'm very pleased to present you with an in-depth review of Paramount's forthcoming Star Trek: Enterprise - The Complete First Season on DVD (street date 5/3). As many of you know, Enterprise is a show that's near and dear to my heart. I personally lobbied the studio long and hard to get the show released on DVD... ultimately effectively... so they were kind enough to allow me the first look at (and review of) the finished discs. My original idea was that the DVDs be used to help boost the show's ratings (much like 24 and Alias did with their DVD releases), thus helping to keep it going for another season. Ah well... at least the DVDs are coming, and they're darned cool. You're in for the best extras on any of the Trek TV sets to date - audio commentary, outtakes, deleted scenes (surprisingly, all the stuff I pushed for). Plus you get anamorphic widescreen video and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. It's a great little set, even if the first season of Enterprise itself was a little... wanting. I can't wait for Seasons Three and Four though. It's nice to get what you ask for once in a while, you know? Anyway, I hope you enjoy the review.

Stay tuned, all ye DVD faithful...

3/30/05

As promised today, we're pleased to present the complete transcript of The Home Theater Forum's live, online chat last night with Warner Home Video. There's a TON of news in the chat about great upcoming DVD releases planned for this year and beyond by the studio. For example, anyone interested in a 2001: A Space Odyssey - Special Edition in 2006 (along with other Kubrick SEs)? That's just a meager sliver of the great news you'll learn in this chat, so absolutely DO NOT miss it.

Speaking of Warner, the studio has just announced the DVD release of A Pup Named Scooby-Doo: Volume 1 and A Pup Named Scooby-Doo: Volume 2 (both 7/19), and Sealab 2021: Season 3 (7/12).

Also, New Line has announced the release of Paul Weiland's For Rosanna and John Waters' A Dirty Shame (in both R and Unrated editions) for 6/14.

Sony will release Imaginary Heroes (Jeff Daniels, Sigourney Weaver) on 6/7, with Hitch (Will Smith, Kevin James) following on 6/14 and Man of the House (Tommy Lee Jones) due on 6/21.

And Universal has slated Monk: Season Three for release on 7/5.

Around the Net today, there's possible news on the DVD release of Twin Peaks: Season Two. Moviehole is reporting that Paramount will release the season on disc in two volumes, but not before extensive digital clean-up and remastering work is done. Consider that rumor until confirmed by the studio, but still good to hear.

We've also got a little new upcoming DVD cover art for you this morning... here's Universal's Northern Exposure: The Complete Third Season (6/14), Buena Vista's Father of the Bride: 15th Anniversary Special Edition (6/7), Miramax's Sling Blade: Collector's Series (6/7), Sony's Tears of the Sun: Director's Extended Cut (6/7), Paramount's The Machinist (6/7) and Fox's The X-Files: Abduction (6/7)...

Northern Exposure: The Complete Third SeasonFather of the Bride: 15th Anniversary Special EditionSling Blade: Collector's Series

Tears of the Sun: Director's Extended CutThe MachinistThe X-Files: Abduction

We'll be back tomorrow with a special review of an upcoming DVD release. Stay tuned...

3/29/05

Oh man... have we got some GREAT news for you Dune fans today! We've done some digging with our sources at Universal, and we've learned the real reason behind their delay of the Dune: Extended Edition (previously announced for 5/10, but then pulled "indefinitely" with no explanation given). Those of you who are familiar with the film know that there's a longer version that's been shown on TV, credited to director Alan Smithee (a pseudonym used by directors when they want to distance themselves from a project for whatever reason). Well get this... after years of saying he would never revisit Dune, at the 11th hour director David Lynch apparently decided that he might want to be involved in the new DVD after all. Which means that when it's eventually released, not only is the DVD going to include the original theatrical version of the film... it may also include a brand new "director's extended cut" edited by Lynch himself. No kidding. [Editor's Note - we've been told by studio sources that this isn't a done deal. It IS why the disc was delayed, but Lynch's involvement is still in discussion and no work has been started yet. So cross your fingers and let's hope it comes to fruition.]

By the way, I was also able to confirm with Universal that a Flash Gordon: Special Edition is currently in production. No specs or release information is available yet, but it's good to know that the 80s sci-fi/camp classic is finally getting the long-awaited attention it deserves on DVD. We'll post more as soon as we hear anything.

Also, I'm waiting on confirmation of the extras set to be included on the forthcoming Jaws: 30th Anniversary Edition (due 6/14). I know a lot of you are hoping for Laurent Bouzereau's unedited The Making of Jaws documentary (the original, longer version of which was included on the laserdisc release, but was edited down for the first DVD edition). We should know more on that in a week or two.

Don't forget to check out that Warner Home Video chat tonight at the Home Theater Forum. We'll have a full transcript up tomorrow.

Stay tuned!

3/28/05

Afternoon, folks. Hope you all had a great weekend. We've got some good DVD release news to cover today, so let's get started.

Sony (Columbia TriStar) has revealed a big slate of new DVD releases for 6/7. Among them are the D.E.B.S: Special Edition, Dragon Tales: Playing Fair Makes Playing Fun, Imaginary Heroes, new individual DVD editions of The Karate Kid, Part II, The Karate Kid, Part III and The Next Karate Kid, a new The Karate Kid: Special Edition, a new Matilda: Special Edition, a new Stripes: Extended Cut (containing 18 minutes of new footage - man, am I looking forward to that!) and a new Tears of the Sun: Director's Extended Cut.

Universal has announced a couple new titles for July. On 7/5, look for Strange Bedfellows (SRP $27.98). Following on 7/26 is Fighting Tommy Riley (SRP also $27.98).

We've got some new details on a few upcoming Paramount titles today. Danger: Diabolik will street on 6/14 (SRP $14.99) with commentary by actor John Phillip Law and Tim Lucas (director Mario Bava's biographer), the From Furnetti to Film featurette, The Beastie Boys' Body Movin' music video (with commentary by Adam Yauch) and the film's teaser and theatrical trailers. Also on 6/14, you'll get Adam at 6 AM, Prime Cut, Target, The Reivers and The Lightship (SRP $14.99 each). And on 6/21, look for Hustle, I'm Dancing As Fast As I Can, Lifeguard and Starting Over (SRP also $14.99 each).

Remember how (a few months back) I asked when someone was going to release one of my favorite B-grade camp classics from the 1980s... the docudrama Sasquatch, The Legend of Bigfoot? Well, leave it to our friends over at Image Entertainment to step up to the plate! On 6/14, look for their Sasquatch Horror Triple Feature (SRP $19.99), which will include Sasquatch, The Legend of Bigfoot, Snow Creature and Snow Beast. Count me in, baby! Image has also set The Twilight Zone: The Definitive Edition - Season 3 for release on 6/28 (SRP $119.99). The 5-disc set will include audio commentaries (by Billy Mumy, William Windom, Leonard Nimoy, Cliff Robertson and others), excerpts from audio interviews with cast & crew members, more isolated music scores, Rod Serling promos, Serling's guest appearance on The Garry Moore Show and more. Look also for The Twilight Zone: Seasons 2 & 3 (1986-1989) on 6/28 (SRP $69.99), a 7-disc set including audio commentaries and deleted scenes.

Also today, MGM has announced the DVD release of Be Cool for 6/7 (SRP $27.98). Special features will include deleted scenes, the Be Cool, Very Cool documentary, gag reels, the You Ain't Woman Enough to Take My Man music video (featuring The Rock as Elliot Wilhelm), a Close-Up of the Dance Partners featurette (featuring The Rock, Andre 3000, Cedric the Entertainer and Christina Milian) and the film's theatrical trailer.

And in honor of the Easter holiday this past weekend, Star Trek.com has posted a lengthy guide to all of the DVD Easter eggs on the various Star Trek TV and film DVD sets. The guide also includes details on the various Best Buy bonus discs that were offered with many of the Trek DVD releases, and what specifically was included on each of them. The guide will be updated as future DVDs are released (including Enterprise and the remaining film discs).

Around the site today, we've kicked off a pair of new Contests giving each of you the chance to take home copies of Universal's Murder, She Wrote: The Complete First Season and Orgazmo: Unrated Special Edition, along with Showtime's Queer as Folk: The Complete Fourth Season - Collector's Edition. Entries will be accepted until Noon PST on Sunday, April 3rd. Click on the links to get started and good luck!

On the review front, Lindsay Planner of our MusicTAP crew has checked out a few more music-related DVD-Video titles, including Island's The Cranberries: Live, Polydor's ABBA: Super Troupers and Hip-O's Roxy Music: The High Road.

Don't forget... tomorrow night (Tuesday, March 29th) our friends over at The Home Theater Forum are hosting their live, online chat with senior members of the DVD team from Warner Home Video. The chat will run from 5:00 to 8:00 PM (PST). Click here for all the details on how to participate. As always, we'll have a complete transcript of the chat for you here at The Bits on Wednesday.

We'll leave you this afternoon with a look at some new cover art. Here's 20th Century Fox's I, Robot: All Access Collector's Edition (5/24), Sony's Stripes: Extended Edition and the inner keepcase art for Criterion's 2-disc The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (5/10). Nice.

I, Robot: All Access Collector's EditionStripes: Extended EditionThe Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (inner packaging art)

Back tomorrow with more. Stay tuned...

3/25/05

Afternoon, folks. We've got an interesting new DVD announcement for you today. Do the words "You're gonna need a bigger boat..." mean anything to you?

Yeah... hot on the heels of CBS's Spring Break Shark Attack (no coincidence I'm sure), Universal has officially announced the DVD release of a Jaws: 30th Anniversary Edition for 6/14 (SRP $22.98). This will be a 2-disc set containing the film in anamorphic widescreen video, with both Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 audio. The second disc will be all extras (no word yet on what they are). Word is you'll also get something called Jaws: The Commemorative Photo Journal - probably a commemorative book. This 2-disc set will also be available in a full frame version, and it looks as though a single-disc Jaws: Anniversary Collector's Edition version will also be available in full frame and anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 and anamorphic widescreen with DTS 5.1 (SRP $14.98). So let's get this straight... there are 5 DVD versions in all. 2-disc Wide (DD/DTS), 2-disc Full (DD/DTS), 1-disc Full (DD), 1-disc Wide (DD) and 1-disc Wide (DTS). Whew.

A little more on the Blu-ray Disc/HD-DVD front today. There's another good article over at SoftPedia News on the two different formats and the futility of a format war. Worth a read.

Finally today, we're pleased to bring you a few more new DVD reviews. Our own Adam Jahnke's checked in with a look at Fox's Best Picture-nominated Sideways (which streets on 4/5). And I've posted my thoughts on Urbanworks Entertainment's Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids: The Original Animated Series - Volume 1 and Fat Albert's Easter Special (both now available). Hey, hey, hey!

Okay... barring some major announcement or bit of breaking news, that's it for this week. We've got more reviews in the works, so be sure to check back on Monday. Have a great weekend and Happy Easter to all those of you who celebrate it.

Courage!

Boy... those Rather-isms just don't fly, do they?

(LATE UPDATE - 3/24/05 - 2:30 PM PST)

Okay... we're back as promised this afternoon, and we're very pleased to present you with Robert Harris' first new Yellow Layer Failure column of 2005! In this edition, Robert talks about the growing trend of studios to re-release the same films again and again on DVD, he takes a look at what's happening with the format as a whole in this first quarter of 2005, he addresses box set pricing "madness", he offers a few words on the restoration efforts of Roger Mayer, he conducts a follow-up interview with Columbia Pictures' Grover Crisp and more. As always, his column is well worth a read, so we hope you enjoy it. And when you're done, you can head on over to this thread at the Home Theater Forum to discuss it with Robert and fellow DVD enthusiasts.

In other news today, Warner has moved their DVD release of Jean-Pierre Junet's A Very Long Engagement to 7/12 (SRP $29.95). The title had been original slated for release on 5/24.

Warner has also announced the DVD release of the BBC's All Creatures Great & Small: The Complete Series Five for 7/19 (SRP $79.98).

In addition, Reuters has revealed that Warner expects to release The Film Noir Classic Collection, Volume Two on 7/5 (SRP $49.92). The set will include Robert Wise's Born to Kill (1947), Fritz Lang's Clash by Night (1952), Edward Dmytryk's Crossfire (1947), Max Nosseck's Dillinger (1945) and Richard Fleischer's The Narrow Margin (each also available separately for SRP $19.97). Also coming on 7/5 will be John Boorman's Point Blank (1967), featuring audio commentary with Boorman and Steven Soderbergh.

You know, something just occurred to me. It's a bit of a surprise that we haven't yet seen Warner announce the DVD release of its Best Picture-winning Million Dollar Baby. I've got no evidence of this - it's just my speculation. But one wonders if the reason it hasn't be announced yet has to do with the current... well, let's just say a certain controversial topic that's been in the news for the last couple of weeks. I don't want to say too much more or get specific, because I suspect that there are some of you who still haven't seen the film yet. In any case, it will be interesting to see when the announcement finally does come.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 3/24/05 - 11:30 AM PST)

We'll be back with more later this afternoon, we we HAD to jump in early with this. According to an IDG News Service story (available here at Macworld), Sony hasn't closed the door to the possibility of joining forces with its HD-DVD rivals. Here's the relevant quote:

"Listening to the voice of the consumers, having two rival formats is disappointing and we haven't totally given up on the possibility of integration or compromise," Ryoji Chubachi, Sony's president-elect, said at a news conference Thursday in which he discussed the company's performance and future strategy.

Later, the story goes on to say...

While Sony's technological and engineering base is sound, the company must ensure that its products are aligned with the wants of consumers, Chubachi said on Tuesday. Sony's engineers have traditionally been regarded within the company as heroes and the creators of new markets, but recently their ideas have not always led to products that matched consumers' needs, he said.

WOW. Could it be that there's FINALLY a hint of common sense in the consumer electronics industry? Let's hope those in the DVD Forum get the message and offer an olive branch of their own. Who knows? MAYBE we can still get these folks to sit around a table and hash out a SINGLE, unified HD disc format. Wouldn't that be something? Definitely stay tuned on this.

Back in a bit...

(LATE UPDATE - 3/23/05 - 3 PM PST)

So... I suppose I don't need to tell you long-time Bits readers that I'm a bit of a space nut. But for you newcomers... well, I'm a bit of a space nut. I was there when John Glenn flew back into space on the shuttle back in 1998 (here's me in a Life Magazine photo that made my day), and I drove all night into the California desert to watch the first civilian space flight in person last summer. I collect the original mission patches made for the astronauts and cosmonauts (including a couple of flown ones). I'm one of those guys who could take you outside with binoculars on a summer evening and show you the space station as it passes overhead. You know... a nut. Let's just say that in the unlikely event that NASA ever called and offered me a seat on the next shuttle flight, I'd turn The Bits over to Todd, kiss my wife Sarah good-bye and be on a plane to Florida before the papers in my office had even settled.

Sarah (mostly) thinks it's cute. Todd thinks I'm crazy (but then it takes one to know one). With this in mind, I'm sure, Universal invited my wife and I to a special IMAX screening they held last night in honor of next Tuesday's DVD re-release of Apollo 13 (which also happens to be the 35th anniversary of the mission itself). The event was held simultaneously on two coasts - audiences gathered at both the California Science Center in Los Angeles and the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida to view the film and to participate in a special Q&A session afterwards, hosted by film critic Leonard Maltin. On hand in L.A. were the film's producer Brian Grazer and stars Kathleen Quinlan and Tom Hanks. Here's a picture Sarah took....

Apollo 13 producer Brian Grazer and stars Kathleen Quinlan and Tom Hanks

Also participating in the Q&A via satellite from Florida were director Ron Howard and Captain Jim Lovell (pictured below - photo provided by Universal), the actual astronaut who commanded the mission.

Apollo 13 director and Astronaut Jim Lovell

And here's another shot Sarah took in L.A. (proof that I've hooked one of the good ones). That's Lovell on the IMAX screen, with Hanks and Grazier during the Q&A.

Astronaut Jim Lovell (onscreen) with Tom Hanks and Brian Grazer

Hanks talked about the challenges of playing a real life person, the research involved in getting the details of being an astronaut right onscreen and his life-long interest in spaceflight (Hanks is a fellow space junkie, like myself). Howard and Grazier described the challenges of filming and what had inspired them to make the film in the first place, while Lovell talked about his real experiences during the mission.

Hanks actually recounted a very funny story about the time he first met Lovell. Some of the cast and crew had gone down to the Johnson Space Center in Houston to do research for the film, and Hanks had wanted to know more about what life was like for Lovell and his wife during that time. It turns out that, the night before, Lovell had driven out to the house they'd lived in at the time, introduced himself and asked its very surprised current resident if he could bring a few Hollywood types by the next day to see the place. The woman said yes, so the next evening Lovell pulls up with Tom Hanks, Ron Howard and about 30 other people in a bus and gives them the complete tour. Can you imagine? You're just living your life one day... and the next thing you know a bus pulls up to your curb and you've suddenly got Tom Hanks standing in your kitchen?

Anyway, I've shown my geek enough for one day. Suffice it to say, the event was good clean fun. Thanks to the folks at Uni for the invite.

On that note, here's my in-depth review of Universal's Apollo 13: 2-Disc Anniversary Edition, which streets this coming Tuesday (3/29). All in all (with just a couple of caveats), it's a nice upgrade to the original DVD release of the film. I've also reviewed Spacecraft Film's new 3-disc Apollo 13: The Real Story - The Complete TV and Onboard Film today. It's now available, and let me tell you... once you've enjoyed the Hollywood version, the real thing on DVD makes a nice chaser.

Okay, no rest for the weary. Gotta get more reviews done.

I feel like I should say, "Live Long and Prosper" or something. Ah, whatever. ;-)

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 3/23/05 - 1 PM PST)

Afternoon, folks. We've got a couple of quick DVD announcements for you...

The Kevin Spacey/Bobby Darin bio-pic Beyond the Sea will street on 6/7 from Lions Gate.

The Tyler Perry's Diary of a Mad Black Woman arrives on 6/28, also from Lions Gate. Coming on that day as well are DVD versions of several of Perry's plays, including I Can Do Bad All by Myself, Madea's Class Reunion, Madea's Family Reunion and Meet the Browns (previously available only on TylerPerry.com).

I believe we've already announced it, but just in case... Paramount's releasing Coach Carter on 6/12 (SRP $29.98).

And Sony will release Will Smith in Hitch on 6/14 (SRP $28.95).

By the way (this is Rumor Mill worthy, so take note accordingly), we've checked with our sources... Fox has no immediate plans to re-release James Cameron's True Lies and The Abyss on DVD in new, anamorphic widescreen editions. All the focus is currently on getting Titanic done to everyone's satisfaction in time for the October release. Once that's done however, you never know. Maybe you'll see them in 2006. We'll keep you posted as always.

Speaking of Titanic, our pal Ron Epstein over at the Home Theater Forum called yesterday to tell me that our report on the Cameron DVD press conference was mentioned last night on XM satellite radio's Cinemagic channel. Thanks to the folks at XM for the kind words, and to Ron for calling from his car while in New York traffic to say he'd heard it! Much love back 'atcha from your friends at The Bits.

We'll be back in a little bit with that Apollo 13 review and a report on Universal's screening last night in honor of the DVD release. Stay tuned...

3/22/05

We're pleased today to present you with Adam Jahnke's latest installment of The Bottom Shelf. In this edition, Adam appeals to Hollywood for the release of the overlooked films he most wants on DVD, and offers some suggestions (from loyal readers of The Digital Bits) for other great titles that have yet to grace our favorite format. If you think that everything worth watching has already been released on disc, you're sorely mistaken. So enjoy Adam's 12 & America's Most Wanted: An Open Letter to DVD Studios & Producers. You Hollywood types... be sure to pay attention, will ya?

We'll be back tomorrow with a review of the Universal's soon-to-be-released Apollo 13: 2-Disc Anniversary Edition and more. Stay tuned...

3/21/05

There's some good news today for fans of TV's The Cosby Show. Ventura has announced that it's going to begin releasing the series on DVD on 8/2. In addition, the company will begin releasing its spin-off series A Different World in January 2006. Both series will be released under the company's UrbanWorks label. Just last week, Ventura announced a deal with Anchor Bay to handle the DVD release of two additional NBC series, Roseanne and 3rd Rock From the Sun, later this year.

In other DVD news today, Universal has also announced some new TV series titles for 6/7. On that date look for Dragnet '67: Season 1 and the you-knew-it-was-coming Father of the Pride: The Complete Series. Also announced for 6/14 is another Focus title, Rory O'Shea Was Here.

Columbia TriStar today has announced the Boogeyman: Special Edition, Submerged, Banjo Hackett: Roamin' Free, Diamond Head, Gun Fury, a Major Dundee: Extended Cut and Texas Cyclone, all for 5/31.

Meanwhile, New Line has set Black Cloud and Steve McQueen's classic Wanted: Dead or Alive TV series (36 eps on 4 discs) for release on 6/7.

Not to be left out of the TV gold rush, 20th Century Fox has announced a 4-disc The X-Files: Abduction set for 5/17 (SRP $39.98), including 16 of the series' classic alien "mythology" episodes from the first three seasons in full frame video with Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround audio. Extras will include audio commentaries on select episodes, along with part one of Chris Carter's all-new Threads of Mythology documentary. We suspect this means you can look forward to a second collection of "mythology" episodes on DVD later in 2005.

Also today, Home Media Retailing (formerly Video Store) has a pair of interesting stories to check out, the first on how Sony Pictures Home Entertainment plans to absorb MGM's Home Entertainment division, and the second on how retailers are excited about the potential for high-definition on disc, but are much less than enthusiastic about the idea of two competing formats. No surprise there. Both stories are worth a read.

Around the site this afternoon, we've posted four new Contests, giving you the chance to win copies of Warner's The Flintstones: The Complete Third Season and The Best of the New Scooby-Doo Movies, MGM's The Dust Factory, Fox's live-action Fat Albert and Universal's Kojak: Season One. Entries in these contests will be accepted until Noon PST on Sunday, March 27th. Click on the links to get started and good luck!

We're chasing down some interesting release rumors today, so those DVD reviews we mentioned on Friday will be posted over the next couple of days. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 3/18/05 - 1:30 PM PST)

Just a quick heads-up... Paramount has informed us that their June DVD slate will include The War of the Worlds: Special Collector's Edition, along with The Machinist, The Amazing Race: The Complete First Season, MacGyver: The Complete Second Season, The Brady Bunch: The Complete Second Season, Fraiser: The Complete Fifth Season, The Ren & Stimpy Show: Seasons Three and a Half-ish and Reno 911!: The Complete Second Season. We'll have exact street dates and details as they come in.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 3/18/05 - NOON PST)

Morning everyone! Some interesting news for you Star Wars fans today. Remember how we said (on Tuesday) that James Cameron and George Lucas were going to be part of a digital 3-D projection presentation at ShoWest this week? Well, it happened yesterday. Joseph Kleiman of the World Enteractive was there and posted a report on his site. Joining Cameron and Lucas on stage were filmmakers Robert Zemeckis, Robert Rodriguez and Randall Kleiser, along with Doug Darrow, Business Development Manager for TI DLP Cinema. During the presentation, Lucas announced his plans to re-release the Star Wars Trilogy in 3-D for the original film's 30th anniversary in 2007.

Some other interesting news today. Fox plans to release The Simpsons: Bart Wars on 5/17, just in time to capitalize on the theatrical release of Star Wars: Episode III. SRP will be $14.98. In addition to the main program, the disc will include 4 bonus episodes, plus the The Making of Bart Wars: The Simpsons Strike Back featurette.

Disney has launched their official website for the 10/4 DVD release of the 2-disc Cinderella: Special Edition. There's still no cover art for the title, but you can at least view the trailer for the release at the website. Thanks to Bits reader Esteban S. for the link.

Also today, Showtime has announced the DVD release of Queer as Folk: The Complete Fourth Season on 4/5 (SRP $109.99).

And for you folks looking forward to Robert Rodriguez Sin City, Yahoo Movies has a 10-minute behind-the-scenes video on the making of the film. Our own Todd Doogan had the chance to see a sneak preview screening of the film yesterday. Drop him an e-mail and maybe he'll post his thoughts on his blog.

Our crew over at Matt's MusicTAP has turned in a number of new music-related reviews. Now available are their thoughts on KISS: Kiss My A**, KISS: Konfidential & X-Treme Close Up, SCTV: Volume 3 and Nightwish: From Wishes to Eternity - Live on DVD, along with Elton John: Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy on SACD and The 5 Browns' self-titled debut release on the new DualDisc format (CD+DVD).

Finally, around the site today, we've posted updated all of the DVD hardware and software sales data we track (above), including the CEA DVD Player Sales numbers for the first three weeks of February. By the way, we know the numbers for the first three weeks of February don't add up correctly. CEA apparently adjusted the week one or two numbers and we're waiting to see what those changes were. We'll make the corrections as soon as we have that data. [Editor's Note - the corrected data is now in place. Feb. Week 1 was revised from 158,985 to 122,823 units shipped.]

We'll be back on Monday with a number of new DVD reviews, plus we've got new columns from Robert Harris, Adam Jahnke and more on the way. See you then!

3/17/05

This just in... Warner Home Video has announced the DVD release of The Aviator for 5/24 (SRP $29.95). The 2-disc set will include anamorphic widescreen video and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, audio commentary by director Martin Scorsese, deletes scenes, the 45-minute History Channel documentary Modern Marvels: Howard Hughes, 6 featurettes (including A Life Without Limits: The Making of The Aviator, The Role of Howard Hughes in Aviation History, An Evening with Leonardo DiCaprio and Alan Alda, The Affliction of Howard Hughes: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, The Age of Glamour: The Hair and Makeup of The Aviator and The Visual Effects of The Aviator), video of a panel discussion with Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Scorsese and Howard Hughes' widow Terry Moore, a photo gallery and more.

Just a heads-up... watch for Warner to announce both Alexander and Million Dollar Baby very soon.

Also this morning, Buena Vista has announced a new batch of forthcoming catalog titles. On 6/7, look for a Sling Blade: Director's Cut - Special Edition, a Father of the Bride: 15th Anniversary Special Edition, a Gone in 60 Seconds: Unrated Director's Cut and a Coyote Ugly: Unrated Special Edition (SRP $19.99). On 8/16, you'll get The World's Greatest Athlete, Johnny Tremain, Toby Tyler and The Boatnicks. And on 8/30, look for Lilo & Stitch 2.

Here's cover art for The Aviator, Disney's Vintage Mickey (7/12) and Universal's Baa Baa Black Sheep: Volume 1 (5/24)...

The AviatorVintage MickeyBaa Baa Black Sheep: Volume 1

Stay tuned...

3/16/05

We've got more new announcements for you today...

Buena Vista has revealed that it plans to release a trio of Disneyland 50th Anniversary titles on 7/12, including The Best of The Mickey Mouse Club (vintage Club - SRP $14.99), Mickey Mouse Club: The Best of Britney, Justin and Christina (more recent Club that you HAD to know was coming sooner or later - SRP $14.99 as well) and Vintage Mickey (SRP $19.99). The latter title will feature a small collection of classic shorts, including Steamboat Willie.

Lions Gate has announced the DVD release of Moonlighting: Seasons One and Two (street date 5/31, SRP $49.98). The 6-disc set will include cast and crew commentaries on several episodes with series creator Glenn Gordon Caron and stars Cybill Sheperd and Bruce Willis, deleted scenes, a gag reel and bloopers, The Moonlighting Phenomenon featurette and the 2-part The Story of Moonlighting documentary.

Also newly announced is Sony's 4-disc Seinfeld: Season 4 (5/17, SLP $49.95). As with the previous season DVDs, the extras will include The Breakthrough Season documentary, cast and crew commentaries, deleted scenes, bloopers, promos and more.

In other DVD news today, SonyBMG has announced that the soundtrack CD for Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith will street on 5/3. So why is this DVD news? Well, as it turns out, the CD will include a bonus DVD-Video disc that will feature a 70-minute presentation of some 16 newly-created music videos of composer John Williams' signature themes from all 6 Star Wars films (set to footage from the films) that takes viewers chronologically through the entire saga. Each will be introduced by actor Ian McDiarmid (Senator Palpatine) and will feature the music along with dialogue and sound effects excerpts in full Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. The package will also include a booklet with liner notes by George Lucas and a poster. Frankly, I'm as excited to hear this music as I am to see the film.

Let's see... what else today. Warner has advised us that the street date for The Essential Steve McQueen Collection box set has moved to 5/31. Update your plans accordingly. The set will include a 2-disc Bullitt: Special Edition along with The Getaway: Deluxe Edition, Papillon, The Cincinnati Kid, Never So Few and Tom Horn (SRP $68.92).

On the TV front, Warner has also announced the 6-disc Lois & Clark: The Complete First Season for 6/7 (SRP $59.98), which will feature the episodes in their original full frame aspect ratio with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio and several behind-the-scenes featurettes.

Speaking of Warner, our longtime friends over at The Home Theater Forum have re-scheduled their live, online chat with DVD staffers from Warner Home Video for Tuesday, March 29th. The chat is currently set to run a whopping 3 hours (from 5 to 8 PM PST). Among those expected to participate are Mike Radiloff (VP Theatrical Catalog Marketing), George Feltenstein (SVP Classic Catalog) and Rosemary Markson (Executive Director Franchise, TV). Click here for more information. As always, we'll have a complete transcript of the event here at The Bits the following day.

Finally this afternoon, in the "around the Net category", Noel Murray of The Onion A.V. Club has just posted an excellent 3-part DVD feature comprised of interviews with Warner's Feltenstein, Home Vision's Lee Ferdinand and Something Weird Video's Mike Vraney. It's a great read, with lots of interesting information. Included in the Feltenstein piece is word that Warner has just gotten their hands on a high-quality element of the original King Kong from Europe (apparently the main reason behind the delay of the film's highly-anticipated DVD release). On a brief side note, The Onion is a publication close to my heart, as it was launched in Madison, Wisconsin back in 1988, while I was a student at UW-M. Why... I recall reading the very first issue over a beer at the Rathskeller. Good times indeed.

Back tomorrow. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 3/15/05 - 5:30 PM PST)

Well... I've just gotten back from Paramount and 20th Century Fox's special press event this afternoon in Beverly Hills. Director James Cameron and producer Jon Landau were on hand (as were Paramount CEO Rob Friedman and Fox chairman Jim Gianopulos) to announce the DVD release of the long awaited Titanic: Special Collector's Edition. As we first reported here at The Bits in February, there will be two versions... a 2-disc release and a 4-disc release, both of which will street on the same day in October. The exact street date and SRP are both still TBA (Paramount will release the discs in the U.S. and Fox will release them internationally on the same day). Just so you all can relax, the 2-disc version will basically be identical to the first two discs of the 4-disc release, so there's no need to buy both. If you buy the 4-disc release, you'll get ALL the extras and supplemental content available. Longtime readers of The Bits will be pleased to know that Van Ling, a regular collaborator with Cameron on his past DVD releases, has been tasked with supervising the production of this new edition.

Titanic director James Cameron (left) and producer Jon Landau at the DVD press event

Cameron and Landau (pictured above) revealed some details about the DVDs during the press conference, and I was able to get additional information during the Q&A session that followed their presentation. Both versions will feature the original theatrical cut of the film, which Cameron considers to be his 'director's cut'. He's just supervised and approved a new high-definition transfer of the film, so you can expect it to be presented (at long last) in anamorphic widescreen on the DVDs. Both DVDs will feature Dolby Digital 5.1 EX audio (DTS MAY be included as well, but this has yet to be decided - it's an issue of how much content needs to be included on the discs, and how much room will be available once all the extras are finalized). As with the recent 4-disc Lord of the Rings DVDs, the film itself will be split over the first two discs to allow for the highest possible video and audio quality. I was also able to learn that the film discs will likely include multiple audio commentary tracks - certainly one with Cameron, but also separate tracks with various crew members and possible a cast commentary as well.

In terms of bonus features, the film discs will offer a special 'branching' option (similar to what Fox has used on its complete season sets of The X-Files) that allows you to jump out of the film at various points (when an icon appears on screen) to view footage that was deleted from that particular point in the film. Some 58 minutes of deleted scenes will be available in all. Keep in mind, this will NOT be edited back into the film. The deleted scenes will be offered separately on the discs (in addition to their accessibility via the branching feature while viewing the film). The deleted scenes will reportedly have special video lead-ins and optional Cameron commentary that explains why the footage was cut. The deleted material is reportedly fairly substantial and will include a number of nice character moments with Jack and Rose, as well as additional less important (but historically accurate) footage. Cameron is currently making the creative decisions necessary to 'finish' this footage in order to bring it up to release quality (including any visual effects that might need to be completed, as well as supervising sound mixes and scoring the material).

Other extras you can expect on the new DVDs include a wealth of rare behind-the-scenes footage from the Lightstorm vaults - 2 full discs worth. This will include time-lapse footage of the massive set and studio construction, new and vintage cast and crew interviews and other never-before-seen material. Nearly 400 hours of behind-the-scenes footage was shot during the production of Titanic in all. Another long-time Cameron collaborator, Ed Marsh (who shot much of this footage originally), is sorting through it all to produce a definitive, feature-length documentary on the making of the film, taking you from the very beginnings of the idea with Cameron pitching the concept to the studio, through all of the stress, angst and criticism generated by the production, to the film's eventual release and massive worldwide success. Along the way, you'll hear from literally everyone involved in the production, including all of the major cast and crew. Both Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio have agreed to participate in the DVD production, for interviews and possibly commentary if schedules permit. By the way, you should already be familiar with Ed Marsh's work - he's the man who created the outstanding Under Pressure: Making The Abyss documentary on Fox's previous The Abyss: Special Edition (both the laserdisc and later DVD).

James Cameron at the DVD press event

After the press conference, I had the chance to speak with Cameron directly for a few minutes. Asked about his take on the looming format war between HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc, Cameron said that he'd seen demonstrations of both formats, and has looked at each critically with an eye toward spotting artifacts and other quality related issues. He's impressed with both HD-DVD and Blu-ray, and feels that it's a bit of a wash in terms of which format has the technical edge. Although Cameron is looking forward to a future high-definition release of Titanic (and the new transfer of the film was done in HD), he's not planning an HD release anytime soon. This new SCE will be standard DVD only. When asked if he has a preference for either HD-DVD or Blu-ray, he wisely noted that he's letting the industry and the market decide which format will prevail, although he does hope that a single, unified format will be adopted by the industry sooner rather than later.

Interestingly, Cameron also said that there were two main reasons why it took so long for a special edition DVD of Titanic to happen. The first is that the previous movie-only version is still selling quite well (meaning there was no urgent economic pressure to get a more elaborate version done before this). The other is that the process of making the film was such a grueling experience that most involved needed to leave the project behind for a few years in order to feel the desire to revisit it again for a worthy special edition. That said, Cameron and Landau have been planning this new edition for nearly two years, and have put a great deal of thought into what they want to include for the film's many fans.

On an interesting side note, Cameron also spoke about his passion for 3-D filmmaking. He and fellow director George Lucas are spearheading an effort to get movie theaters around the world to upgrade not only to digital projection, but also to add the capability to exhibit films in 3-D format. In fact, Cameron and Lucas are hosting a demonstration of the 3-D process for theater owners at the ShoWest convention in Las Vegas this week (in addition to CG-animated 3-D films, Lucas's people have reportedly developed a way to render 3-D versions of existing 2-D films). Cameron says that this is the main reason he's waited so long to begin production on his next major theatrical film - a live action version of the Japanese anime Battle Angel Alita. Cameron plans to shoot the film digitally in 3-D format. What's more, he says that Lucas and other filmmakers (like Robert Zemeckis and possibly Peter Jackson too) are also planning to shoot 3-D films in the future. They expect that the availability of good 3-D feature film content will drive interest in the 3-D experience theatrically, and that in turn could fuel demand for bringing the 3-D process into the home as well. Cameron noted that both HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc (and current DVD as well) could be adapted to deliver 3-D footage, but that the main obstacle to high-quality 3-D at home is the low refresh rate of current TV monitors. Displays offering much higher rates (96Hz) will be needed in the future to show flicker-free 3-D images in your living rooms.

So there you have it. All the available details regarding the forthcoming Titanic: Special Collector's Edition and some other interesting stuff too, all straight from The Man himself. I have to tell you, I really enjoyed the opportunity to speak with Cameron in person. He's clearly very thoughtful and savvy in terms of the latest developments in film and video technology, and I found him to be both genuine and personable. I look forward to having the chance to speak with him at greater length in the future. I also chatted with Ed Marsh for a few minutes about his currently on-going work on the DVDs. You can expect to hear more from him here at The Bits in the months ahead as well.

Just so you know, there's no cover art available yet for these DVDs, and all of the specific disc specs are still being worked out. You can be sure that we'll get them to you as soon as they're finalized by the studio. I hope you've all enjoyed the report.

Until tomorrow... stay tuned, DVD faithful!

(LATE UPDATE - 3/15/05 - 8 AM PST)

This just in: We've gotten word that Universal has delayed their Dune: Extended Edition DVD until further notice. The title had been expected to street on 5/10. Unofficial word from our sources is that the delay will be several months at least, but there's no word as to why.

Back with those Titanic details later this afternoon. Stay tuned.

(EARLY UPDATE - 3/15/05 - 1 AM PST)

We're pleased this morning to present you with Barrie Maxwell's latest Classic Coming Attractions column here at The Bits. In this edition, Barrie reviews 14 classic titles recently released on DVD, including Reelclassicdvd.com's Grandma's Boy and The Langdon Collection, Milestone's Piccadilly, MGM's Arrowsmith and Dead End, Warner's Stage Door, Bringing Up Baby: Special Edition, Easter Parade: Special Edition and The Band Wagon: Special Edition, VCI's Holt of the Secret Service, Fox's Call Northside 777 and Panic in the Streets, Paramount's All in a Night's Work and a PAL/R2 DVD release from Wild Side Video in France... The Dark Mirror.

We've got something cool for you L.A.-area readers today. Disney and Pixar are holding a special DVD signing event at The Virgin Megastore in Hollywood tonight (8000 W. Sunset Blvd), in honor of the DVD release of The Incredibles. The event will run from 6 to 8 PM PST this evening. On hand will be story supervisor Mark Andrews, composer Michael Giacchino and other members of the film's creative team from Pixar. Incredibles-related prizes will be awarded at the event as well. If you're in the area and you can make it, be sure to drop on by.

There's a little bit of DVD news for you this morning... Rhino Home Video will be releasing Alanis Morissette: VH1 Storytellers and Natalie Merchant: VH1 Storytellers on 4/26 (SRP $14.99 each). Now if only they'd release The Police: Behind the Music on disc, I'd really be happy.

Around the site today, we've kicked off FIVE new Contests giving each of you the chance to win copies of Warner's La Femme Nikita: The Complete Second Season, the BBC's Red Dwarf: Complete Series Five & Six, Fox's What the Bleep Do We Know!?, a Universal prize pack including Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (along with a T-shirt, poster and CD soundtrack), and finally a pair of awesome new samurai titles from AnimEigo... Incident at Blood Pass and Samurai Assassin! Entries will be accepted until Noon PST on Sunday, March 20th. Click on the links to enter and good luck!

Finally this morning, the big news today certainly has to be Paramount and 20th Century Fox's announcement of the worldwide DVD release of the Titanic: Special Edition later this year. We're going to be attending the press event today, so we'll be back later this afternoon with all the details.

Until then, stay tuned...

3/14/05

Afternoon, Bits-ers! Sorry we disappeared on Friday. I expected to post some new DVD reviews Friday morning, but Sarah and I have had family visiting all this last week, and things got a little crazy.

To make it up to you, I've got a trio of new DVD reviews for you today - my fairly in-depth looks at Warner's Heat: Special Edition, Paramount's Star Trek: First Contact - Special Collector's Edition and 20th Century Fox's The Lone Gunmen: The Complete Series. Heat is now available. Star Trek: First Contact streets tomorrow. The Lone Gunmen is set to arrive in stores on March 29th.

Just FYI, our goal for this week is to catch up on a lot of our review work, so look for several more reviews later this week.

In news today, Fox has announced their initial DVD release slate for June. On 6/7, look for The Driver, The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox, House of Bamboo (1955), Julia, Kiss Me Goodbye, The Man Who Never Was, Nightmare Alley (1947), The Secret Agent, Unfaithfully Yours (1984), Vital Signs and Worth Winning.

Columbia TriStar will release Are We There Yet? on 5/24, along with The Big Town, Physical Evidence, The Brooke Ellison Story, the long-delayed News Radio: The Complete First and Second Seasons (3 discs) and Richard Pryor: Stand Up (a 2-disc set including Here and Now and Live on The Sunset Strip).

Also, Universal has added Law & Order: The Third Year to its 5/24 slate.

We'll be back tomorrow morning with a bit of news, and then late tomorrow afternoon with all the details on Paramount's Titanic: Special Edition announcement (I'll be there in person at the announcement event, so maybe we'll even have a pic or two).

Meanwhile, we'll leave you with a little more new DVD cover art. Here's Touchstone's Lost: The Complete First Season (9/6) and Desperate Housewives: The Complete First Season (9/20), along with Criterion's Hoop Dreams (5/10)...

Lost: The Complete First SeasonDesperate Housewives: The Complete First SeasonHoop Dreams

Stay tuned...

3/10/05

Some more major news today. The Blu-ray Disc Association has announced that Apple Computer has become its latest member, making Blu-ray Disc its choice in the coming next-generation optical disc format war. You can read more at these links at News.com and the MacNewsNetwork. Apple CEO Steve Jobs issued this quote today: "Apple is pleased to join the Blu-ray Disc Association board as part of our efforts to drive consumer adoption of HD. Consumers are already creating stunning HD content with Apple's leading video editing applications like iMovie HD and are anxiously awaiting a way to burn their own high def DVDs."

This is a big deal, folks. The Blu-ray Disc Association already has the support of PC giants Dell, Sony and HP. It's long been our belief that on the technical merits of the Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD specs alone, Blu-ray is the clear winner. It seems that most of the computer and electronics industries agree. Keep in mind that Sony's forthcoming PS3 videogame platform is going to use Blu-ray Disc as its storage format. It seems now that the only real war between these two formats is going to be waged in Hollywood between the studios already supporting Blu-ray (Disney, Sony, MGM and possibly Fox, which we hear is leaning toward Blu-ray) and those supporting HD-DVD (Warner, Universal, Paramount and New Line). There are also rumors that a number of major retailers like WalMart and Best Buy may be planning to carry one format or the other exclusively. It's gonna get very ugly before all this is over, folks.

We've got some release news as well today. Warner has announced the DVD release of Jean-Pierre Junet's A Very Long Engagement for 5/24 (SRP $29.95). Look for the film in anamorphic widescreen video with French Dolby Digital 5.1 audio (and English subtitles). Extras if any are TBA.

Also, Columbia has set Are We There Yet? for release on 5/24 as well. Look for their Boogeyman to street on 5/31.

Back tomorrow with some new DVD reviews. Stay tuned...

3/9/05

We've got some BIG DVD news for you today. Paramount is holding a special event next week to announce the fall DVD release of the Titanic: The Definitive Special Edition. We expect to have all the details on Tuesday afternoon, but as we've reported in The Rumor Mill recently, our sources tell us to expect a 2-disc and 4-disc set, patterned after New Lines Lord of the Rings DVD releases. The 4-disc will have the film spread over 2 discs for maximum anamorphic widescreen video quality, along with deleted scenes, literally hours of behind-the-scenes material, audio commentary and much more. Stay tuned on this!

A follow up on yesterday's mention of Disney's forthcoming Cinderella: Special Edition - DVD Platinum Collection. A trailer for the release on the new Bambi DVD indicates that the 2-disc title will street in October (on 10/4 according to Amazon.com). Just FYI.

Universal has announced more interesting TV product, and a recent feature as well. TV product first: Look for the studio's Dragnet '67: Season 1 and Quincy, M.E.: Seasons 1 & 2 on 6/7 (SRP $39.98 each). Dragnet is a 2-disc set, Quincy is 3 discs. Dragnet will also include a special bonus CD, containing recordings of the original Dragnet radio show. Following these on 6/14 will be Northern Exposure: The Complete Third Season (3 discs, SRP $59.98). Finally, Universal's recent In Good Company will street on 5/10 (SRP $29.98) in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include audio commentary with director Paul Weitz and actor Topher Grace, deleted scenes with optional Weitz commentary, a number of featurettes (including Stars, Youth, Getting Older, Real Life, New York Locations, Editing and Story), cast and crew bios and more.

And here's a bit of news that has me very excited this morning: Warner has just announced the DVD release of IMAX: Space Station and IMAX: L5 - First City in Space for 6/7. Space Station (SRP $19.98) is a fantastic documentary film narrated by Tom Cruise. It was originally presented in 3-D in theaters, although both titles are presented in 2-D/full frame only on DVD (with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio). Extras on Space Station will include over an hour of previously unseen footage, audio commentary by astronaut Ed Lu, an 18-minute Audio/Visual Tour of the Space Station (narrated by Shuttle/ISS astronauts Dom Gorie, Linda Godwin, Mark E. Kelly, Daniel Tani and Frank Culbertson Jr.), the 23-minute Adventure in Space featurette (including interviews with Tom Cruise, director Toni Myers, and astronauts Marsha Ivins, Brian Duffy, Susan Helms, Jim Voss and astronaut/cameraman James Neilhous), a photo gallery and more. L5 is movie-only (SRP $14.97).

I do wish Warner would at least include a 16x9 version as well (in addition to the critically important original full frame presentation) on their IMAX DVDs, if not TRY actual 3-D. Image Entertainment included both 4x3 and 16x9 options on their recent Super Speedway re-issue. IMAX in the original full frame is great in an IMAX theater, where the screen is so massive that it draws you in. But the effect is lost on the average 4x3 TV, which isn't nearly big enough to convey all the majesty of the presentation. By also including a 16x9 enhanced version (IN ADDITION to the full frame - not as a replacement for it), those with very large widescreen displays and front projection systems could get at least SOME of the original effect back. I'm hoping Warner will see the value of adding an anamorphic version to their IMAX DVDs in the future.

By the way, a number of readers have e-mailed to to say that Baa Baa Black Sheep was the original name of Black Sheep Squadron, something I'd forgotten. The name was apparently changed in the second season and for syndication. Thanks for the heads-up!

Here's a little new cover art... Paramount's Star Trek: Insurrection - Special Collector's Edition (6/7), New Line's The Sea Inside (5/17), Warner's IMAX: Space Station and Universal's Quincy, M.E.: Seasons 1 & 2, Airwolf: Season One and In Good Company...

Star Trek: Insurrection - Special Collector's EditionThe Sea InsideIMAX: Space Station

Quincy, M.E.: Seasons 1 & 2Airwolf: Season OneIn Good Company

Okay, we're off to work on some new DVD reviews. Have a great day and stay tuned...

3/8/05

Morning folks! We've got a few new DVD announcements for you today.

Universal just announced a TV title I've been absolutely dying for on DVD: The Black Sheep Squardon starring Robert Conrad on 5/24. They're calling it Baa Baa Black Sheep: Volume 1 and selling it for $39.98. Whatever, man. As long as it's the classic 1970s TV show about Major Pappy Boyington and his World War II Marine fighter squardon (and it is), I'm a happy, happy camper. By the way, also coming on 5/24 from the studio is Airwolf: Season One (SRP $39.98). Both are 2-disc sets. Now if someone would just release The Rat Patrol... we'd be stylin'.

Also, Urbanworks Entertainment is releasing Fat Albert's Easter Special and Fat Albert and the Cosby kids: The Original Animated Series, Volume 1 on 3/8. The series set will include the first 12 episodes from the classic animated show, along with a 12-track CD of music from the series. Hey, hey, hey!

In other DVD news, Columbia TriStar has set the Anders Thomas Jensen comedy Green Butchers for release on 5/17.

Disney has revealed that their Cinderella: Special Edition - DVD Platinum Collection (SRP $29.99) is on the way for later in 2005. We'll give you a street date and specs as soon as they're announced. The studios' Walt Disney's Cartoon Classics: Wave 2 is also set for 5/31 (SRP $14.99 each). Look for Volume 5: Extreme Sports Fun, Volume 6: Extreme Music Fun and Volume 7: Extreme Adventure Fun. They also have a straight-to-video Bambi sequel... Bambi and the Great Prince of the Forest... on the way for Spring 2006.

Finally, New Line has set both Alejandro Amenábar's Academy Award-winning drama The Sea Inside and the somewhat less critically acclaimed Son of the Mask: Platinum Series for release on 5/17 (SRP $27.95 each).

By the way, there's a badass new trailer for the forthcoming Sin City available at the Moviephone website. I'm getting more excited about this film the more I see it. Visually stunning stuff.

Stay tuned...

3/7/05

You've asked for them! You've waited for them! The 6th Annual Digital Bits Bitsy Awards have arrived!

We've worked long and hard these last few weeks to narrow down the best and worst that the DVD format had to offer in 2004, and we're very pleased today to present you will all our final choices (for your enjoyment or protection as the case may be). Whether you agree with our selections or not, we think you'll concur that this past year was an interesting one for our favorite video format. And with both Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD set to debut by the end of 2005, things are going to get more interesting still in the year to come. Will these competing high-definition disc formats boom or bust? Has DVD finally reached its peak? Can the Vikings ever win a Superbowl without Randy Moss? Only time will tell.

Of course, all of that's in the future. For today, let's take a ride in the Wayback Machine and consider the DVD year that was. So pour yourself a steamin' cuppa jo, sit back in your nondescript office cubicle and let the feeling of over-caffeinated euphoria sweep you away. Life is good. The Bitsys are here!

And just so you know... any errors or omissions in The Bitsys are entirely due to lack of sleep. Or Jahnke. Whichever you prefer.

Just kidding, Adam. ;-)


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