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page updated: 9/6/05



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 8/27/05 - 8/8/05)


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8/27/05

Hope you're all enjoying those lost Blues Brothers songs we posted yesterday as part of our DVD review. After all these years, and all the rumors about whether they survived or not (particularly the infamous Sink the Bismarck), it's sure fun to finally be able to hear them.

We're making a rare Saturday update of the site to post some new Buena Vista news. First up, BVHE will release Touchstone's Dark Water on DVD on 12/26 (SRP $29.99). Also, though it hasn't technically officially been announced yet, if you purchase the awesome new 2-disc Toy Story: 10th Anniversary Edition (watch for a review soon), you'll find an insert in the packaging that reveals that Disney will release a 2-disc Toy Story 2: Special Edition on 12/26, also with ultra-high video bitrate, and both Dolby Digital and DTS audio. We expect to have more details soon on both titles.

Enjoy the rest of you weekend and we'll see you Monday!

8/26/05

Okay... we promised you a treat for today, didn't we? Well, we've sure as hell got one for you today here at The Bits! Boy do we EVER!

Do we have any fans of The Blues Brothers in the house? We'll we've just posted our review of Universal's The Blues Brothers: 25th Anniversary Edition, which streets next Tuesday (8/30). The new DVD includes BOTH the previously released extended cut of the film, along with the original theatrical edition which has never appeared on DVD before. But that's not the good part. Wanna know what is?

We've just located THREE LOST AUDIO TRACKS from The Blues Brothers film, including the original soundtrack recording of the legendary, "missing" performance of Sink the Bismarck by Jake, Elwood and The Blues Brothers Band at Bob's Country Bunker! We've also got two rare tracks by Murph and The Magic Tones (direct from The Armada Room), including the complete version of Quando, Quando, Quando and a vocal performance of Just the Way You Are! Here's the best part - we're offering them for download free today, for your listening enjoyment (and for as long as our server can handle the strain), in HIGH-QUALITY MP3 format. Just click on our review of the new DVD, and you'll find the full story, along with a link to a zipped file containing all three tracks. These rare tracks haven't been heard by most fans of the film in decades, so don't miss this chance to get your hands on them!

And please... for your own sanity and for the common good of all Mankind... enjoy them sensibly. ;-)

Okay then... looks like our work is done here for yet another week. Have a great weekend, and we'll see you back here on Monday! Peace out.

8/25/05

We've got a couple cool things for you this afternoon...

First up, Universal has officially announced the DVD release of Leave It to Beaver: The Complete First Season for 11/29 (SRP $49.98). The 3-disc set will arrive in two versions: a regular edition and the same DVD included in a Limited Edition Gift Set (SRP $69.98) that comes packaged in a lunch box and includes a Cleaver family photo album. There's no word yet on extras, if any.

Universal has announced The Land Before Time: 2 Mysteries Beyond the Great Valley for 11/29 as well (SRP $19.98). The double feature release includes both The Land Before Time Volume VI: The Secret of Saurus Rock and The Land Before Time Volume VII: The Stone of Cold Fire in the same package.

Also, we have official details on the extras to be includes on the studio's The Big Lebowski: Collector's Edition due on 10/18 (SRP $19.98). The disc will include digitally-remastered anamorphic widescreen video and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. A separate full frame version will also be available. Extras on each will include an introduction to the film by Mortimer Young, a gallery of photos taken by Jeff Bridges during the production, the Making of The Big Lebowski featurette and production notes. Also available for a limited time will be The Big Lebowski: Achiever's Edition Gift Set (SRP $49.98) which will include the widescreen DVD along with a collectible bowling shammy towel, coasters (that feature photos and quotes from the film) and a set of photo cards featuring more of Bridges' photography. We're sure that, as always, the Dude will abide.

In other news, we've got word from our industry sources on street dates for The Devil's Rejects, Skeleton Key, War of the Worlds (2005), March of the Penguins and more. You'll find that in today's update of The Rumor Mill.

I also wanted to take a moment today to mention our Artist of the Month for August... Danny Burk. Danny is a mighty fine photographer, whose work is pretty breathtaking. Be sure to take a moment to visit his page here (and also his own website) to soak in some of his amazing imagery.

Here's cover art for Universal's The Big Lebowski: Achiever's Edition (10/18) and Leave It to Beaver: The Complete First Season, along with Fox's Elektra: Unrated Director's Cut (also 10/18)...

The Big Lebowski: Achiever's EditionLeave It to Beaver: The Complete First SeasonElektra: Unrated Director's Cut

Now then... we're working on something REALLY special for you that we expect to post tomorrow morning. If you're a fan of the film in question, you definitely won't want to miss it (trust me on this).

Stay tuned!

8/24/05

We're back this morning with another new DVD review. Peter's checked in again today with a look at Paramount's Sahara on disc (street date 8/30). I've also updated my DVD review of DreamWorks' Gladiator: Extended Edition with comments on the audio/video quality of the disc, and also a few other new and interesting details about the title. Be sure to check it out.

There's been more news around the Net over the past couple of days that compromise talks between the HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc camps have broken down again. No surprise there. You can read more here, here, here, here and here. Interesting in all this is are repeated comments in the linked stories (attributed to various industry spokespersons) that there's still hope for a single, unified format to emerge. We'll see.

There's also another bit of sad news to report today, I'm afraid: Actor Brock Peters has died at the age of 78. While he was probably best known as Tom Robinson from To Kill a Mockingbird, Peters' list of credits was long and diverse, including such classics as Porgy and Bess, Carmen Jones and Soylent Green, TV roles on As the World Turns and Roots: The Next Generation and even a couple appearances in the Star Trek feature films. He'll be missed.

We've got a few more new DVD announcements for you today. Universal will release Murder, She Wrote: The Complete Second Season on 12/6.

Sony will release Heights, American Chopper: The Series - Season Three, Monster Garage: Season Three, Fame: Season One, MGM's The Outer Limits: Season One (that's the new series), Bush Christmas, a Big Fish: Special Edition (with collectible book), a Steve McQueen Box Set (with Baby the Rain Must Fall and The War Lover) and the Robert Rodriguez Mexico Trilogy Box Set (with the El Mariachi: Special Edition, the Desperado: Special Edition and Once Upon a Time in Mexico), all on 11/1.

Also, Warner has announced the release of Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Volume 4 for 12/6.

And New Line has officially revealed its 7-disc Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection Giftset for release on 11/15 (SRP $89.85), featuring more than 25 classic Lloyd comedies along with an exclusive bonus disc of extras.

By the way, our old pal Matt over at MusicTAP has finally unearthed a street date for The Police: Synchronicity Concert DVD we revealed a couple weeks ago. It officially hits stores here in the States on 10/11 from A&M (via Universal Music). Now if only Sting would come to his bloody senses and reunite the band for one last tour...

On the UMD front, Sony will release The Fifth Element, Good Times: The Complete First Season and Sanford and Son: The First Season on 11/1, with MGM pitching in Ronin and Mad Max. We've updated our PSP Release List accordingly.

Now then... guess what's FINALLY available for pre-order on Amazon.com? That's right. Your favorite giant ape flick! There's the 2-disc version, the 2-disc version in a tin with bonus items, and the 2-disc version packaged with Son of Kong and Mighty Joe Young. Plus there's The Last Days of Pompeii (which along with Son of Kong and Mighty Joe Young should also be available separately soon). You can click on the cover art below to get your orders in, which helps support The Bits (and we definitely appreciate it).

Son of KongMighty Joe YoungThe Last Days of Pompeii

Son of KongMighty Joe YoungThe Last Days of Pompeii

Stay tuned...

8/23/05

We've been promising you some new DVD reviews for a while now, so how about FIVE new ones this afternoon? Specifically, we've got my review of DreamWorks' new Gladiator: Extended Edition, as well mine and Todd's thoughts on Sony's Steamboy: Director's Cut. We've also got a trio of reviews from a new addition to The Digital Bits staff... Peter Schorn. Peter checks in for the first time around here with a look at Sony's Layer Cake: Special Edition, and Home Vision's Bottom of the Sea and Three Men and a Cradle. Some of these titles are worthy of your attention... some not so much. Gladiator and Layer Cake street today. The rest are already available.

We hope you enjoy the reviews. If you've got a moment today, be sure to drop Peter an e-mail to say hello. Welcome aboard, Pete!

By the way, we've been getting a lot of questions about this from panicked fans: Disney's upcoming Muppet feature film DVDs (The Muppet Movie, The Great Muppet Caper, Muppet Treasure Island and The Muppet Christmas Carol - due 11/19) will each include BOTH full frame and anamorphic widescreen video. That's confirmed, direct from the studio. So endeth the controversy.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 8/22/05 - 12:15 PM PDT)

We expect to be back with at least one more post today, but this was too good not to post right away.

First, we've confirmed that 20th Century Fox's forthcoming Sound of Music: 40th Anniversary Edition DVD (due on 11/15) will feature a new, remastered anamorphic widescreen transfer, correcting the awful transfer offered on the previous DVD release. Let the rejoicing commence.

We've also learned, from our ever resourceful industry sources, the anticipated street date for Fox's Fantastic Four. You'll find that in The Rumor Mill today.

Finally, we've got some more new cover art for you. Here's a look at Fox's Space Above and Beyond: The Complete Series (a Best Buy-exclusive on 9/6, then available widely a couple months later) and the Edward Scissorhands: Anniversary Edition (due 11/8), along with Universal's Land of the Dead: Unrated Edition (due 10/18)...

Space Above and Beyond: The Complete SeriesEdward Scissorhands: Anniversary EditionLand of the Dead: Unrated Edition

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 8/22/05 - 12:01 AM PDT)

No, we haven't fallen off the face of the Earth. We got caught up Friday in that little project we've been working on here at The Bits, which we'll be able to tell you more about soon. That and a visit to the doctor's office for my annual check under the hood pretty much washed out the whole day around here. What can you do, you know? That's life fer ya.

Matt and I did get the chance to take in a showing of The 40 Year Old Virgin on Friday night with our wives. Let me tell you, it's one of the funniest movies I've seen this year. Steve Carell co-wrote and stars in it, and if you don't already love him from his time on Comedy Central's The Daily Show, or his stint in the film Anchorman, you will once you've seen him in this. It might be a bit too raunchy for some, but I'll tell you... it's funny, good natured, intelligent and surprisingly sincere. It's a great two hours in a theater.

We've got a bit of DVD news for you to start the week... but first, we wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the passing of someone whose name you might not recognize, but whose work you surely will. Joe Ranft, who was the head of story writing at Pixar Animation Studios (and a huge part of their creative team), sadly died last week as the result of a car accident. He was just 45. You can read more here at the San Francisco Gate's website. Just last month I saw Joe at Comic-Con, where he was participating in a panel discussion on the upcoming Toy Story: 10th Anniversary DVD. In addition to his work behind-the-scenes, fans of Pixar's A Bugs Life will know Joe as the voice of Heimlich the Caterpillar. Animation guru Jerry Beck has been running some nice tributes over at his Cartoon Brew website, and I recommend you take a moment to check them out (just slide on down the page and you'll find several entries about him). Our hats off to Joe, his family and all you folks up at Pixar, who knew and loved him.

Now then... the DVD news. Disney has officially announced the re-release (technically Disney's first release) of four of the Muppet feature films on 11/29 (two classics and two less so): The Muppet Movie, The Great Muppet Caper, Muppet Treasure Island and The Muppet Christmas Carol. All four are single-disc releases, and they're being pegged as 50th Anniversary Editions in honor of the creation of Jim Henson's most famous Muppet character, Kermit the Frog ("Celebrating 50 years of being green," as Disney's market materials trumpet). Each DVD carries an SRP of $19.99, and is being promoted as "fully restored and remastered," with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Special features on these discs, if any, have yet to be announced.

Also announced for release on 12/20 is Disney's Once Upon a Mattress (SRP $19.99).

Buena Vista will street The Golden Girls: The Complete Third Season and Home Improvement: The Complete Third Season on 11/22 (SRP $39.99 each). Extreme Makeover Home Edition will also street that day (SRP $29.99).

Meanwhile, Miramax will release Project Runway on 11/29 (SRP $39.99).

In other news today, Anchor Bay will be releasing Tipping the Rift: The Complete First Season on 10/25, containing all 13 episodes as broadcast on the Sci-Fi Channel.

Around the site today, we've kicked off FIVE new Contests, giving each of you the chance to win copies of Warner's The O.C.: The Complete Second Season, Universal's Adam 12: Season One, Shout! Factory's The Dick Cavett Show: Rock Icons, Capital Entertainment's Oliver's Twist 2 and Punk: Attitude, and 20th Century Fox's Futurama: Monster Robot Maniac Fun Collection, The Adventures of Ociee Nash and The Transporter: Special Delivery Edition. The contests will run until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, August 28th. Click on the links to get started and good luck!

We've also got a little bit of new cover art for you this morning. Here's Sony's Bewitched: Special Edition (10/25), MGM's A Bridge Too Far: Collector's Edition (also 10/25) and Universal's Unleashed: Unrated (10/11)...

Bewitched: Special EditionA Bridge Too Far: Collector's EditionUnleashed: Unrated

We'll be back with more this afternoon, so stay tuned...

8/18/05

We've got a few more new announcements for you today, as well as more cover art.

The big one is this: Universal has announced George A. Romero's Land of the Dead for release on 10/18. There will be three different versions of the film on disc (SRP $29.98 each). Look for the R-rated theatrical cut in full frame only, while an Unrated director's cut will be released in both full frame and anamorphic widescreen. Audio on all three versions will be available in both Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1. There's no word yet on extras.

Universal has also announced that both George A. Romero's Land of the Dead and Shaun of the Dead will be released on UMD format for Sony's PSP on 10/18. Our UMD Release List has been updated accordingly.

In other news, Paramount will release Mad Hot Ballroom on 10/18 (SRP $29.99).

Also, Bandai and Manga have announced the release of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - 2nd Gig, Volume 1 on 9/27. The DVD includes the first 4 episodes of SAC's second season (aka 2nd Gig). It will be available in two versions: a single-disc regular edition (SRP $24.98) and a 3-disc Special Edition (SRP $49.98). The regular edition will include the episodes in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. The Special Edition will include the regular edition as Disc One, the same episodes in anamorphic widescreen with DTS 5.1 audio as Disc Two, and a soundtrack CD as Disc Three. The Special Edition will also come packaged in a collectible tin.

Also coming from Bandai on 9/13 is Cowboy Bebop: Remix, Volume 1 (SRP $29.98), which will include the first few episodes of the classic anime series remastered and with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. I'm personally a big fan of Cowboy Bebop. If you haven't seen it yet, you must. And if you're unfamiliar with anime, this series is a great place to start.

Finally this afternoon, we've gotten word that Palm Pictures is going to be releasing The Director's Label Box Set, Volume 2 on 9/13 (SRP $79.98). The set will include new DVDs dedicated to the work of directors Anton Corbijn, Jonathan Glazer, Mark Romanek and Stéphane Sednaoui. From Palm's press release: "These DVDs are a unique director-created and compiled series featuring music videos, shorts and commercials, special features including interviews, alternate versions, unseen short films & documentaries, behind-the-scenes footage and commentaries from various featured artists and collaborators. They are specially packaged with never-before-seen photographs, storyboards, drawings and interviews and have helped define what is expected of today's music DVD releases."

Here's that cover art we promised: Warner's Batman: The Motion Picture Anthology 1989-1997 box set (10/18), Bandai & Manga's Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - 2nd Gig, Volume 1, Bandai's Cowboy Bebop: Remix, Volume 1 and Universal's Kolchak: The Night Stalker (10/4), American Gothic: The Complete Series and The Munsters: The Complete Second Season (both 10/25)...

Batman: The Motion Picture Anthology 1989-1997Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - 2nd Gig, Volume 1Cowboy Bebop: Remix, Volume 1

Kolchak: The Night StalkerAmerican Gothic: The Complete SeriesThe Munsters: The Complete Second Season

We're working on a number of reviews that we hope to post by Monday. We're also working on a couple of big things behind the scenes here at the site. We'll tell you more about that when we can.

Stay tuned...

8/17/05

Disney has officially announced the next wave of their Walt Disney Treasures titles for release on 12/6 (SRP $32.99 each). They include The Chronological Donald, Volume Two: 1942-1946, Disney Rarities, Celebrated Shorts: 1920s-1960s, Elfego Baca and The Swamp Fox: Legendary Heroes and The Adventures of Spin & Marty, The Mickey Mouse Club. Like the previous releases, each of these Wave 5 titles will be a 2-disc set packaged in a collectible tin.

In other news this morning - and this is rather interesting - Hollywood mini-major Lions Gate has officially chosen a side in the forthcoming HD format war, coming down in favor of Blu-ray Disc. Studio president Steve Beeks cited the format's more robust copy-protection measures as a key factor in making the decision (you can read more at Home Media Retailing and Video Business). This news comes just a day after the Universal Music Group also joined the Blu-ray camp (read more here), adding their support to Blu-ray backers Buena Vista, Sony Pictures, Sony Music, MGM and 20th Century Fox.

Also, Matt's finally gotten his computer working again, so he's back over at MusicTAP with all the latest music release news. He's also posted a new DVD review by Lindsay Planer for Shout! Factory's The Dick Cavett Show: Rock Icons.

How about some more new cover artwork? Here are the Walt Disney Treasures covers, along with Synapse's Effects (tentatively due on 10/25), Disney's Aliens of the Deep (11/1), Fox's Mr. & Mrs. Smith (11/29), Paramount's SpongeBob SquarePants: The Complete Third Season (9/27) and Universal's The Coen Brothers Collection (10/18)...

The Chronological Donald, Volume Two: 1942-1946Disney Rarities, Celebrated Shorts: 1920s-1960sElfego Baca and The Swamp Fox: Legendary Heroes

The Adventures of Spin & Marty, The Mickey Mouse ClubEffectsAliens of the Deep

Mr. & Mrs. SmithSpongeBob SquarePants: The Complete Third SeasonThe Coen Brothers Collection

We'll be back with more later. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 8/16/05 - 1:30 PM PDT)

We've got a couple more things for you this afternoon. First of all, we have the final specs for Anchor Bay's forthcoming Evil Dead 2: Book of the Dead 2 - Special Edition (due on 9/27 - SRP $39.98). The disc will include the film in anamorphic widescreen video, mastered from a new HD DiviMax transfer personally supervised by director Sam Raimi. Audio will be available in Dolby Digital 5.1. Extras will include audio commentary (with Raimi, co-star Bruce Campbell, co-writer Scott Spiegel and special make-up effects artist Greg Nicotero), the Evil Dead 2: Behind-the-Screams and The Gore the Merrier featurettes, the film's theatrical trailer, talent bios and all-new illustrations by Evil Dead special effects artist Tom Sullivan (part of the custom "fleshy" packaging he's created for the new set).

Also today, those of you who happened to pick up 20th Century Fox's The Simpsons: The Complete Sixth Season today will find a little card inside your packaging... "For all those that fear change." Basically, if you don't like the new "character head" packaging, Fox is offering to send you (for the cost of the postage) replacement packaging for the Season 6 set that matches the packaging for Seasons 1-5. All you have to do is call 1-800-223-2369 for instructions (yes 1-800 - the 800 number has finally been activated), OR visit the special simpsonsbox.com website the studio has created to handle the replacement program. You know, I have to give Fox a lot of credit, both for trying something new with their packaging AND for offering to take care of the fans who preferred it the old way. Very nice indeed.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 8/16/05 - 10 AM PDT)

How about some more new announcements? Sony's made some good ones this morning.

Due on 10/25 from the studio are the Bewitched: Special Edition (the new 2005 version), a Bewitched: Special Edition/Bewitched TV Sampler 2-Pack, Left Behind: World at War, Sex and the Teenage Mind, Single White Female 2: The Psycho, a Single White Female/Single White Female 2: The Psycho 2-Pack, Bewitched: The Complete Second Season (5 discs - Black & White), Bewitched: The Complete Second Season (5 discs - Colorized) and Hart to Hart: The Complete First Season (6 discs). My mom will be thrilled about that last one. Seems like EVERYONE'S mom loved Hart to Hart.

The studio will also release Bewitched and Heavy Metal on UMD format for Sony's PSP that same day.

Sony's announced some good MGM titles for release on 10/25 as well, including Captain John Smith and Pocahontas, a 2-disc Battle of Britain: Collector's Edition and a 2-disc A Bridge Too Far: Collector's Edition. Which is very cool - I can't get enough of those World War II flicks, let me tell you.

In the same spirit, Sony has two different World War II 60th Anniversary Commemorative Box Sets planned for 10/25, each containing four films and a scrapbook. The first will include Das Boot, Anzio, The Caine Mutiny and Dead Men's Secret. The second will include The Guns of Navarone, From Here to Eternity, Bridge on the River Kwai and Weapons at War.

Finally, MGM will be releasing Species, Hackers, Kalifornia and The Terminator on UMD format for Sony's PSP on 10/25. We've updated the UMD Release List accordingly.

In case you missed them late yesterday, we posted reviews of Sin City, The Muppet Show: Season One and Hostage.

Back with more later. Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 8/16/05 - 12:01 AM PDT)

Well... Warner's finally gone and done it. They've officially announced the DVD release of Batman Begins for 10/18, as we've been expecting. You'll be able to buy a single-disc regular edition (SRP $28.98) and a 2-disc Deluxe Edition (SRP $30.97). Each will include the film in anamorphic widescreen video (2.40:1), with English and French Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. We believe there will be a full frame version of the regular edition as well.

We don't have all the details yet, but we do know that the 2-disc Batman Begins: Deluxe Edition will feature 8 documentaries (including Genesis of the Bat: Batman Incarnations from the Mid-1980s to the Present, The Journey Begins: Creative Concepts, Story Development and Casting, Shaping Mind and Body: Fighting Style, Gotham City Rises: Production Design, Cape and Cowl: The New Batsuit, The Tumbler: The New Batmobile, Path to Discovery: Filming in Iceland and Saving Gotham City: The Monorail Chase Sequence), several Confidential Files featurettes (broken into Characters and Weaponry), an interactive Inner Demons comic book, theatrical trailers, a photo gallery, Easter eggs and DVD-ROM features (including a Batman Begins "mobile game demo"). The set will also include an exclusive 72-page comic book containing 3 reprinted issues/stories that influenced the film (including Detective Comics #37, Batman: The Man Who Falls and Batman: The Long Halloween). There's no word yet on possible audio commentary, and additional extras are likely TBA.

Here's a look at the cover art for both editions. Each is available for preorder now at Amazon.com (just click on the cover art)...

Batman Begins: Deluxe EditionBatman Begins (Regular Edition)

In other DVD news today, Buena Vista has announced the release of Disney's Herbie: Fully Loaded (for 10/25) and Touchstone's Dark Water (for 12/26 - yes, we know that's a Monday but that's what we're being told). Both will be released in DVD only. There will be no VHS version of either title.

Back later. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 8/15/05 - 5 PM PDT)

We're back as promised this afternoon with a trio of new DVD reviews from yours truly. We've got a look at Dimension's Sin City (our own Todd Doogan actually checks in on that one), Buena Vista's The Muppet Show: Season One and Miramax's Hostage. For the record, Sin City streets tomorrow. The other two titles are already available.

We'll be back tomorrow with more new DVD reviews, so stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 8/15/05 - 12:01 AM PDT)

We wanted to check in early this morning with a look at the new cover artwork for Fox's Office Space: Special Edition with Flair (11/1) and Paramount's War of the Worlds: The Complete First Season (a 6-disc set, also due 11/1). We've also got Criterion's forthcoming edition of The Man Who Fell to Earth (due 9/27)...

Office Space: Special Edition with FlairWar of the Worlds: The Complete First SeasonThe Man Who Fell to Earth (Criterion)

Anyone remember the 1988 War of the Worlds TV series? For whatever reason, I never really watched that one myself, so I only vaguely recall it. Anyway... what this means is that you can likely expect Steven Spielberg's recent film remake to hit DVD on or about 11/1 as well. We'll let you know as soon as we hear anything official.

Also this morning, DreamWorks has announced the DVD release of the animated Madagascar for 11/15. You can read more here at Home Media Retailing, in an article about how crowded the 4th Qtr is becoming with first-release titles. The story also notes that Warner is expected to release its recent Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on 11/8, while 10/18 is deemed likely for Batman Begins as we've been expecting (both titles remain as yet unannounced).

Meanwhile, Video Business is reporting that many of the Hollywood studios are scaling back on VHS releases. HBO has discontinued VHS altogether, and Disney has apparently told retailers not to expect any major VHS promotions in 2006. And here we thought tape was ALREADY dead. Go figure. Hey... the format's been around since 1977. It's been a good run, you know? But 28 years is enough. At that rate, DVD will still be with us until at least 2025. And you know what? It probably WILL be around at least that long, even with new HD formats waiting in the wings. Guess we'll have to wait and see.

By the way, Matt had a nasty tangle with Microsoft's new Internet Explorer 7 (Beta 1) this weekend, which left his PC running about as well as a one-legged dog. The upshot of this, of course, is that it might be a few days before his next MusicTAP update. We'll keep you up to date.

Okay, that's enough for now. Drink your coffee and go about your business. We'll see you back here later on this afternoon.

8/12/05

We've got more good new announcements for you this afternoon to round out the week.

First up, Universal has announced Unleashed for release on 10/11 in both R and Unrated versions (SRP $29.98 each). Also coming on 10/25 is American Gothic: The Complete Series (SRP $49.98) - something I know a few of you have been waiting a while for. The 3-disc set will include all 22 episodes of the series, including 4 that were never aired during the show's original run, as well as over 45 minutes of deleted scenes.

Meanwhile, 20th Century Fox has announced its Edward Scissorhands: Anniversary Edition for release on 11/8. There will be 3 versions - separate full frame and anamorphic widescreen editions (SRP $14.98), as well as the anamorphic widescreen version packaged in a collectible tin (SRP $19.98). Extras will include audio commentary by director Tim Burton, audio commentary by composer Danny Elfman, a short featurette on the making of the film, interview clips )with Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Dianne Weist, Tim Burton, Caroline Thompson, Alan Arkin, Vincent Price and Danny Elfman), trailers, TV spots and a video gallery of concept artwork.

Meanwhile, Disney has announced a few new DVD releases as well including James Cameron's Aliens of the Deep for 11/1 (SRP $29.99). The DVD will include both the 47-minute theatrical cut of the film and a new 99-minute extended cut on the same disc, both in anamorphic widescreen video (1.78:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras if any are TBA.

Disney has also announced some new TV DVDs, including Chip 'N Dale: Rescue Rangers, Duck Tales and Tales from Avonlea: Season One. These are each 3-disc sets due to street on 11/8 (SRP $34.99 each). Also coming from the studio is Five Mile Creek: Season One (a 4-disc set also due on 11/8 - SRP $39.99).

Meanwhile, New Line has announced Chained Heat 2, Excessive Force II: Force on Force and Felony for release on 10/18 (SRP $19.97 each).

And we have some very interesting UMD (for Sony's PSP) news today. Sanctuary Visual Entertainment has announced that they're going to be releasing a number of interesting titles on the format in the U.K., timed to coincide with the 9/1 debut of Sony's PSP system in Europe and Australia. The first, Iron Maiden: Rock in Rio, will be available on 9/1. INXS: Live Baby Live and Bob Marley: Live from Santa Barbara will follow on 9/12. Here's where it gets interesting... Sanctuary will release a couple of movie titles as well on UMD on 10/2... David Lynch's Dune and Blue Velvet. You can click here for more information. Our UMD Release List has been updated accordingly.

Around the Net today, Sin City director Robert Rodriguez has revealed that there's a 2-disc deluxe edition of the film coming to DVD "fairly quick". You can read more on that at this link at IGN. So for all those of you chomping at the bit to buy the basic, movie-only edition available in stores this coming Tuesday... well, the phrase "caveat emptor" might be appropriate. Just FYI.

Okay... barring any big announcement or cool new piece of cover art too cool to wait on, that's it for this week. We'll be back here on Monday and with any luck, I'll have a bunch of new DVD reviews for you from yours truly. Have a great weekend and we'll see you them.

8/11/05

Okay... we've got more new announcements for you today, and I think some of you TV DVD fanatics are really going to dig 'em.

Universal has officially announced the DVD release of Kolchak: The Night Stalker for 10/4 (SRP $39.98). The 3-disc set will include all 20 episodes from the series' 1974-75 season on ABC. Video will be the original full frame, with Dolby Digital 2.0 mono audio. The studio promises that the episodes have been "digitally restored for maximum clarity." Kolchak, which starred Darren McGavin, was one of the inspirations for Chris Carter's The X-Files, so this is very cool news indeed.

Also coming from Universal on 10/25 is another long-awaited title... The Munsters: The Complete Second Season. Also a 3-disc set (SRP $49.98), the release will include 32 episodes in the original B&W full frame, with Dolby Digital 2.0 mono audio. Extras will include a 4-part documentary (including America's First Family of Fright, Fred Gwynne: More Than a Munster, Yvonne De Carlo: Gilded Lady and Al Lewis: Forever Grandpa). All of this will be wrapped in "collectible Herman Munster packaging." Nice.

Around the site today, we're pleased to bring you another Bottom Shelf column from our own Adam Jahnke. In this edition, Adam reviews 6 new documentary titles on DVD, including Docurama's Noam Chomsky: Rebel Without a Pause, Other Cinema's The 70s Dimension and So Wrong They're Right, Disinformation's Desperately Seeking Seka, NY After Midnight/Blue Underground's The Midnight Blue Collection, Volume 1: The Deep Throat Special Edition and Capital Entertainment's World War I in Color. Adam's columns are always worth a read, so don't miss it. For the record, So Wrong They're Right streets on 8/30, and the rest of the titles are already available.

Also today, we've kicked off a whopping TEN new Contests, giving each of you the chance to take home copies of Warner's Dallas: Season 3, Kung Fu: Season 3, The Dukes of Hazzard: Season 4, The Thin Man Collection and Alexander: Director's Cut, the BBC's Benny Hill; The Lost Years, Sony Music's Undeclared: Complete Series, Universal's Columbo: Season 3 and McMillan & Wife: Season 1, Anchor Bay's Profit: Complete Series, Fox's Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, In Old Chicago, The Simpsons: Season 6 and Big Black Comedy Show: Volume 3, a Jerry Garcia DVD and CD from Rhino and a limited edition Silver Screen Frankenstein figure from Sideshow Collectibles! The contests will all run until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, August 21st. Click on the links to get started and good luck! Just FYI, the winners of the previous contests are now up on The Winner's Circle.

We'll leave you this morning with a little more new artwork. Here's a peek at Fox's Melinda and Melinda (10/25), as well as Sony's Sabata Trilogy and Dark Shadows: The Revival (both 10/28)...

Melinda and MelindaSabata TrilogyDark Shadows: The Revival

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 8/10/05 - 4 PM PDT)

Did I say that the last post was going to be it for today? Ah well... I'm making a liar of myself I'm afraid, 'cause I figured you'd want to see this: official cover art from Warner for all four Batman: The Motion Picture Anthology 1989-1997 titles due on 10/18. We've also got Sony's Batman: The Complete 1943 Movie Serial Collection (also due 10/18) and Warner's Imagine: John Lennon - Deluxe Edition DVD which we mentioned earlier is coming on 12/6. Enjoy.

Batman: Two-Disc Special EditionBatman Returns: Two-Disc Special EditionBatman Forever: Two-Disc Special Edition

Batman & Robin: Two-Disc Special EditionBatman: The Complete 1943 Movie Serial CollectionImagine: John Lennon - Deluxe Edition

Okay... THAT'S the last post for today. See you in the morning!

(LATE UPDATE - 8/10/05 - 2:45 PM PDT)

Wow... it's been a busy afternoon here at The Bits. This will probably be our last update of the day, but we couldn't resist checking in with this... a look at the official cover art for Warner's Son of Kong, Mighty Joe Young and The Last Days of Pompeii (all due on 11/22). Enjoy!

Son of KongMighty Joe YoungThe Last Days of Pompeii

Back tomorrow. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 8/10/05 - 2 PM PDT)

Today's issue of the Wall Street Journal features an article on HD-DVD, which indicates that the HD-DVD camp seems to be scaling back its 4th Qtr launch. Only Toshiba will likely have a player available in time for the holiday season launch, which at least Circuit City will carry (the exact date of availability has yet to be announced, but expect the price to be over $1,000). While Paramount had promised to issue some 20 HD-DVD titles for the debut, they now say they won't release any in 2005. Universal has trimmed back from 16 to 12 titles. Warner hasn't yet announced its HD-DVD software plans, reportedly waiting to see if there's an 11th hour compromise between the HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc camps. From the story: "If there is a unification of formats, we would want to work toward that," said Jim Cardwell, president of Warner Home Video, who didn't rule out a holiday-season launch for Warner movies on HD-DVD.

Home Media Retailing's T.K. Arnold has posted a similar story, adding that Warner Home Video may now wait until the 1st Qtr of 2006 to launch software titles on HD-DVD format. Another quote: “We are considering rolling back our launch in the hopes of a last-minute compromise, which would avoid two formats straining the marketplace,” said Jim Cardwell, president of Warner Home Video."

What's more, according to another story at HMR, new market studies conducted by Jupiter Research indicate that consumer interest in these new HD formats is still very low.

We believe here at The Bits that a compromise at this point is unlikely, although we haven't given up hope. We expect that both the HD-DVD and Blu-ray camps are getting an angry earful from retailers about the inconvenience of having to carry two new HD disc formats in addition to regular DVD. Whatever happens, WE STRONGLY ENCOURAGE ALL OUR READERS, PARTICULARLY EARLY ADOPTERS, TO SAVE YOUR MONEY. We know that some of you out there are excited about the prospect of HD on disc, and already have your own particular preference of the two formats, but if sales of both HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc are weak in the initial weeks and months after the launch of each format, the two camps will feel increasing pressure to sit down and seriously talk about a compromise. DON'T ENCOURAGE THE FORMAT WAR.

[Editor's Note: Earlier we'd posted the link to the HD-DVD: One Format Only Campaign site, along with some comments. The Digital Bits is currently talking with the editors of other DVD websites about updating and refocusing the effort to be more specific to the HD-DVD/Blu-ray Disc format war, as the original campaign was launched before either of the two competing formats was officially announced. Never fear - you can definitely expect The Bits and other sites to get active on this issue. Stay tuned to this column in the coming days and weeks for more information. We'll keep you up to date as things progress.]

Special thanks to Bits reader Karl D for the link to the WSR story.

(LATE UPDATE - 8/10/05 - 11:45 AM PDT)

Warner Home Video has just announced a whole mess of new action titles (including a few starring Chuck Norris) for release on 12/6 including Hellbound, The Hitman, Delta Force 3, Chain of Command, American Samurai, American Kickboxer 1, American Ninja 4: The Annihilation, American Ninja 5 and Fifty/Fifty (SRP $14.95 each). Note that many of these titles are now available exclusively at Best Buy stores (until the 12/6 date).

Also newly announced by Warner for release on 12/6 are A Star is Born (1976), director Gerry O'Hara's 1993 The Mummy Lives and a title that should make you Beatles fans excited... Imagine: John Lennon - Deluxe Edition.

Imagine (SRP $19.97) will include the film in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. Extras will include never-before-seen additional footage (of the Island House), a subtitle trivia track, BBC radio interviews with John and Yoko, an interview with William Ernest Pobjoy (headmaster at John's grammar school), the Tribute to John Lennon: The Man, the Music, the Memories featurette, a DVD-ROM guide to Lennon's music and Acoustic Imagine (a previously unreleased live performance recorded at the Apollo Theatre in New York City, Dec. 17, 1971).

Home Vision has announced a few new releases including Face (Kao), The Tunnel (both 10/4), Black and White and a box set containing Five Children and It and The Return of It (both 10/18).

On the UMD (for PSP) front, Paramount has announced Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider - The Cradle of Life and The Warriors (for 10/4), South Park: When Technology Attacks and Chappelle's Show: Season 1, Volume 1 (10/11) and The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie and U2: Rattle & Hum (10/25).

Universal has also announced a few new UMD titles, including 2 Fast 2 Furious, Pitch Black and American Pie 2 (for 9/20) and American Wedding (10/11). Our UMD Release List has been updated to reflect the new announcements.

Also this morning, we've updated the CEA DVD Player Sales numbers to reflect the units shipped during the week ending 7/22. All charts have been updated accordingly.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 8/10/05 - 12:01 AM PDT)

Somebody mention cover art around here recently? Oh yeah... we promised you a update of the Upcoming DVD Cover Art section, didn't we? Okay, then. You wanted an update... you've got one, thanks to the tireless efforts of our very own artwork guru, Russell Hammond - a man who's afraid of neither man nor beast nor long hours in front of a computer monitor. Well, okay... that Evil Dead 2 cover maybe creeps him out just a little. I don't know exactly how big the update is, 'cause I got tired of trying to count all the new covers. But let's just say it's probably our biggest art update yet. There's TONS of great new artwork in there - something for everyone and lots of stuff you likely haven't seen before. As always, when you click on our cover art and pre-order the DVDs through our Amazon links, it goes a long way toward helping support our work here at The Bits, and we surely do appreciate it. Speaking of appreciation, be sure to drop Russell an e-mail and thank him for all his hard work. He loves seeing all that shinny new artwork as much as you guys do.

Before we go this morning, a quick Contest note: We'll post the winners of the just completed contests, and kick off some new ones, later tonight.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 8/9/05 - 6:30 PM PDT)

We've got some news for you about upcoming 20th Century Fox TV releases that I think a lot of you are going to be pleased about. In a promotional insert included with Fox's new DVD of the pilot episode of Over There, the studio lists a number of upcoming TV titles of interest. According to the insert, you can expect 24: Season Four to be released on DVD in December, along with The Simpsons: The Complete Seventh Season, M*A*S*H: Season Nine and Reba: The Complete Second Season. NYPD Blue: Season 03 is listed as coming in January. The Shield: Season 4 is expected "in Winter". And here's perhaps the best news. The following TV series are all listed as "coming soon" to DVD from Fox: Alien Nation, Hill Street Blues, Over There, Time Tunnel and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. The pamphlet also lists Space: Above and Beyond and The White Shadow, which have already been confirmed. Good news, no?

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 8/9/05 - 1:30 PM PDT)

We're nearly finished with a major update on the Upcoming DVD Cover Art section, and we're also working on a number of new DVD reviews for later this week, but today we have more new DVD announcements for you.

First up, Universal has announced Cinderella Man for release on 12/6. There will be a regular edition (SRP $29.98) as well as a more elaborate limited collector's edition ($44.98). Both will include anamorphic widescreen video and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, along with audio commentary by director Ron Howard, additional commentary by writers Akiva Goldsman and Cliff Hollingsworth, deleted scenes with optional commentary by Ron Howard, 5 featurettes (including The Fight Card: Casting Cinderella Man, The Man, The Movie, The Legend: A Filmmaking Journey, For the Record: A History in Boxing, Ringside Seats and Jim Braddock: The Friends & Family Behind the Legend) and more. The collector's edition will include all of the above, along with a bonus disc and a collectible book. The bonus disc will offer additional deleted scenes with optional commentary by Ron Howard, 6 more behind-the-scenes featurettes (including Pre-Fight Preparations, Lights, Camera, Action: The Fight From Every Angle, The Sound of the Bell, Braddock vs. Baer Fight Footage, Russell Crowe's Personal Journey: Becoming Jim Braddock and The Human Face of the Depression), and a photo montage.

Universal has also announced House of Voices and The Coen Brothers Collection for 10/18. The Coen Brothers Collection (SRP $39.98) will include The Big Lebowski: Collector's Edition (the new edition) along with the existing Blood Simple, Intolerable Cruelty and The Man Who Wasn't There DVDs (all in anamorphic widescreen).

In other release news, 20th Century Fox has finally announced their new 2-disc Sound of Music: 40th Anniversary Edition for 11/15 (SRP $26.98). We believe this will include the film remastered in anamorphic widescreen (2.20:1), along with English Dolby Digital 4.0 and 5.1 surround, as well as French and Spanish mono (with subtitles in English, French and Spanish). Disc One will offer an introduction by Julie Andrews, audio commentary by director Robert Wise, additional audio commentary with Andrews and Christopher Plummer, the film's score on an isolated track, a special song-access chapter listing (with a "play all" option) and sing-a-long subtitles in English, French and Spanish. Disc Two will add a second introduction by Julie Andrews, the A Few of My Favorite Things retrospective documentary, 3 additional featurettes (including On Location with the Sound of Music, From Liesl to Gretl: A 40th Anniversary Reunion and When You Know the Notes to Sing: A Sing-Along Phenomenon) a storyboard gallery, additional galleries of production photos as well as lobby card and one-sheet art, street test footage, and scores of theatrical trailers and TV spots (both new and old).

Fox's Shirley Temple Collection, Volume 2 will street on 11/22 (SRP $29.98) and will include Baby Takes a Bow, Bright Eyes and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (once again, with both the original B&W as well as new colorized versions).

Fox is re-issuing or re-promoting a number of great catalog titles in November, including the original Fight Club: Collector's Edition on 11/29 (SRP $26.98) and the Alien Quadrilogy box set on 11/22 (SRP $79.98). Fox is also re-releasing the Star Wars Trilogy box set on 11/1 (SRP $69.98), along with Episodes I & II (SRP $19.98 each) as part of a cross-promotion with the new Episode III DVD (available the same day - SRP $29.98).

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 8/8/05 - 3 PM PDT)

Feast your eyes on this film fans... fresh from Warner Home Video, the official cover art for ALL THREE VERSIONS of King Kong on DVD, due on 11/22...

King Kong (all 3 versions)

Isn't that just a sight for sore eyes?

(LATE UPDATE - 8/8/05 - 12:30 PM PDT)

Okay... we have FINAL King Kong details for you. Warner has sent over their official press release with all the specs on the release, so here they are:

The King Kong: Two-Disc Special Edition (SRP $26.99) will include the 104-minute restored and remastered B&W film on video in its original full frame, with Dolby Digital 2.0 mono audio and English, French and Spanish subtitles. Extras will include audio commentary (by Ray Harryhausen and Ken Ralston, with Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack, Ruth Rose, Fay Wray and Robert Armstrong), the 2005 I'm Kong: The Exploits of Merian C. Cooper documentary, a gallery of trailers for other films by director Merian C. Cooper, the new RKO Production 601: The Making of Kong, Eighth Wonder of the World documentary by Peter Jackson (featuring the following featurettes: The Origins of King Kong, Willis O'Brien and Creation, Cameras Roll on Kong, The Eighth Wonder, A Milestone in Visual Effects, Passion, Sound and Fury, The Mystery of the Lost Spider Pit Sequence and King Kong's Legacy) and Creation test footage (with commentary by Ray Harryhausen).

The King Kong: Two-Disc Collector's Edition (SRP $39.98) will include all of the above in limited tin packaging that also features a 20-page reproduction of the original 1933 souvenir program, King Kong original one-sheet reproduction postcards and a mail-in offer for a reproduction of a vintage theatrical poster.

The King Kong Four-Disc Collector's Set (SRP $39.92) will include the King Kong: Two-Disc Special Edition along with The Son of Kong and Mighty Joe Young. It will NOT include the extras in the Collector's Edition tin.

Fortunately, The Son of Kong and Mighty Joe Young will also be available separately (as will The Last Days of Pompeii, also by Kong directors Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack) for an SRP of $19.97 each.

The Son of Kong will include the 70-minute restored B&W film on video in the original full frame, with Dolby Digital 2.0 mono audio and English, French and Spanish subtitles. Extras will include the theatrical trailer.

Mighty Joe Young will include the 94-minute restored B&W film on video in its original full frame, with Dolby Digital 2.0 mono audio and English, French and Spanish subtitles. Extras will include audio commentary (by Ray Harryhausen, Ken Ralston and Terry Moore), 2 new featurettes (Ray Harryhausen and The Chioda Brothers and Ray Harryhausen and Mighty Joe Young) and the film's theatrical trailer.

Finally, The Last Days of Pompeii will include the 96-minute, B&W film on video in the original full frame, with Dolby Digital 2.0 mono audio and English, French and Spanish subtitles. There are no extras.

We're waiting on high-quality cover art for any and all of the above. We'll post it as soon as it comes in.

In other news this morning, we've got word that Sony's new Ghostbusters 2-pack says on the back of the packaging that one of the films is full frame, while the other one is widescreen. Rest assured, this is just an error. BOTH films are anamorphic widescreen. Just FYI.

Also, Capital Entertainment has announced that they're going to be releasing Count Duckula: The Complete First Season on 10/4 (SRP $39.98). The 3-disc set will include all 26 episodes of the 80s British animated series' first year uncut and restored, along with an interview with the show's creators (including Brian Cosgrove), as well as a photo gallery, a featurette on how to draw the Count Duckula character and original artwork from the series’ development stages.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 8/8/05 - 1:30 AM PDT)

We've got a sad bit of news this morning I'm afraid. Yeah, it's not really DVD-related, but some things need to be acknowledged. Longtime ABC World News Tonight anchor Peter Jennings has died of lung cancer. He was 67. It probably comes as a surprise to many of you. It certainly surprised me. Apparently Jennings himself only learned of the diagnosis a few months ago, and made a public announcement during a broadcast. You know... given how much info-tainment, fear-mongering, spin-doctoring and just plain airtime-filling passes itself off as journalism these days, particularly on TV, it's truly disheartening to lose someone like Jennings. A broadcaster of the old school, you know? Those no-nonsense types who followed the creed and who believed in fairness, accuracy, responsibility and the public trust. Journalists who knew that news was supposed to inform you, not entertain you. Where are those guys today? Cronkite, Sevareid, Murrow. We need them now more than ever, but there just aren't many like them left on the air anymore. Instead, the airwaves are clogged with empty-headed teleprompter readers who specialize in inane banter and the cute segue, and blowhard commentators claiming to be fair but grinding an agenda and labeling anyone who disagrees with them as "un-American". Jennings wasn't perfect, but he was a man of integrity. He was the real deal: A news man. We respected him here at The Bits, and we think the profession is lessened by his absence. Peter, you'll most certainly be missed.

(EARLY UPDATE - 8/8/05 - 12:01 AM PDT)

Morning all. Hope the weekend treated you right. I spent mine watching discs for reviews to come later this week. Work, work, work...

We've got a few quick new DVD announcements for you from Sony to start the new week off right. On 10/18, look for the studio to release Blood of Beasts, Eternal (2004) and Saving Face. Also coming on that day are The Batman: The 1943 Serial Collection, Dark Shadows: The Complete Revival Series (on 3 discs), The Sabata Trilogy Collection (including Adios Sabata, Return of Sabata and Sabata), a new The Mask of Zorro: Deluxe Edition and finally a new MGM American Movie Musicals Collection (released by Sony of course) containing West Side Story, Guys & Dolls and Fiddler on the Roof. FYI, The Mask of Zorro will grace the UMD format on 10/18 as well.

For King Kong fans today, Video Business has a nice new story up on the 11/22 Warner release with a few additional details about the DVD. Definitely worth checking out.

We've also learned from Paramount that the studio has revised the official cover artwork for the Titanic: Special Edition (10/25). It now features both the signature and likeness of director James Cameron, in addition to the images included previously. I dunno... I kind of liked it the way it was before better. Anyway, here it is...

Titanic: Special Edition (Paramount 3-disc Region 1) - REVISED ART

Back later. Stay tuned...


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