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Site created 12/15/97.




page updated: 4/13/99



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 3/18/99 - 2/26/99)


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(LATE UPDATE - 3/18/99 - 6:45 PM PST)

No doubt you've heard the rumors circulated by the newswires today: from Yahoo, CNet and others, comes word that Circuit City's corporate stock has jumped to an all time high, on rumors that Blockbuster Video may be about to buy a share of Divx. The $200 million spent on Divx has been a serious financial drain for Circuit City, and the electronics retailer has been scrambling to find an investor to help defer these costs. No doubt they're eager to get a deal done before the company must make its report to stockholders early next month. Neither Circuit City, Divx, Blockbuster or Viacom (Blockbuster's parent company) will acknowledge these rumors. Notice however, that Viacom's stock is down slightly as a result. And as a matter of perspective, I'd also like to call attention to the fact that Circuit City competitor Best Buy's stock is doing quite well at the moment. "Best Buy Co. is the No. 1 consumer-electronics retailer in sales," according to even these same stories on the alleged Divx deal.

One must wonder what interest Blockbuster would have in the pay-per-use format, which actually discourages return trips to the video store - something Blockbuster and other video retailers thrive on. Several of the stories have suggested that Blockbuster fears the loss of business to Divx, and wishes to buy in before all is lost. But given Divx's poor showing as compared to open DVD, I'd seriously doubt that - you'd have to hope that Viacom can see past Divx's smoke and mirror "successes" (as reported at CES). One can only speculate as to what they must be thinking, IF the rumors are even true. I would like to think their interest is to shut Divx down (hey, if I'm Blockbuster, and I could purchase a significant interest in the greatest threat to my business for a few 100 million, I might do it too). On the other hand, one could also speculate that Blockbuster might be interested only in Divx's encrypted, pay-per-use technology (and not necessarily the rental disc model), to develop their own alternative to video-on-demand, which is being pushed by the telcos and cable companies (see this story on CNet). Once again, all we can do is speculate as to what may be afoot - certainly we'll hear nothing official until a deal is either made or falls through.

In any case, I'd suggest you let Viacom and Blockbuster know EXACTLY how you feel about Divx, using the following contact information:

Viacom
1515 Broadway
New York, NY 10036
(212) 258-6000
e-mail: info@viacom.com

Blockbuster
McKinney Headquarters
Customer Service
3000 Redbud Boulevard
McKinney, Texas 75069
(800) 800-6767
e-mail: customer.service@blockbuster.com

In the meantime, there's no reason to panic either way. Just get those phone calls, faxes and e-mails in, and let's see what happens. Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 3/18/99 - 11 AM PST)

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending a special event sponsored by New Line Home Video - Pleasantville Editor's Day. Held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles, the event was a chance for entertainment reporters to meet some of the folks involved in the production of the new Platinum Series DVD.

New Line's Pleasantville Editor's DayPleasantville DVD

We were taken through many of the special features on the DVD (and there ARE many). The event was also a chance to learn about the technical details of the production, and that of the film itself. As New Line's Evan Edelist explained, the Pleasantville DVD is actually considered (by those involved in the production) to be the, "most representative of director Gary Ross's vision of this film."

One of the reasons for this, is that all of the film's 1,700 effects, were done digitally. The film itself was scanned into the digital realm by a device known as a Spirit Datacine. Once all of the effects were completed, the same device was used to return the image to film - an optical camera negative. Since the film has many scenes in black and white (part of the motif of the film is that some things appear in color and some in B&W), this created a problem in theaters. When you create release prints with black & white images, using color film stock, the B&W image often takes on a slightly green or magenta tone - it's unavoidable, because that's how color stock reacts chemically. For the DVD however, the chroma information can simply be removed from the video signal, resulting in a visual experience on this format that is truer, even than the theatrical experience, to what the director originally intended.

I had the opportunity to talk with several of the New Line staff over lunch, and I must admit, I'm very impressed by their dedication to quality on all their DVD product. They're also committed to DVD-ROM features (and their are several on Pleasantville). One interesting bit of trivia revealed during the day, is that some 20% of the Lost in Space discs sold, were eventually used in DVD-ROM drives (this can be determined by tracking access to the disc's special content on the Internet). That number surprised many, and speaks to the tremendous impact DVD-ROM will have on this format in the coming years. I've had two major concerns with the idea of including extra content on the Internet: it's thus far been PC-only, and there's no way of knowing how long that content will remain available. However, both questions were answered for me yesterday: New Line is working to provide Macintosh users full capability, and they plan on maintaining all online content in perpetuity. Very nice to hear indeed.

I was also very pleased to meet one of my fellow webmasters at yesterday's event - Jeff McNeal of The Big Picture. There are a small handful of DVD web sites out there that I really enjoy for their quality and professionalism, and Jeff's is definitely one of them. We had a great time talking DVD, and swapping webmaster war stories. We both agreed that it's an interesting business we're in, to say the least. Anyway, Jeff's a great guy and it was good finally meeting him. Be sure to check out The Big Picture tomorrow, for Jeff's in-depth feature on the New Line event, including lots more pictures. And I'll be back tomorrow, with my full-length review of the Pleasantville disc.

By the way, I've finally heard back from the MPAA's anti-piracy people about their investigation of that Titanic bootleg. They've traced the disc to a factory in Hong Kong (apparently, the same people who created the Star Wars boot as well). The factory was licensed to create legal laserdisc and video CD titles, and apparently decided to branch out into pirate DVD all on their own. The trick now, is getting the Chinese authorities to do something about it - it's become a State Department matter, which means that it may be a while before anything happens. The MPAA does, at least, appear to be encouraged, in that other than these titles and a handful of others, there doesn't seem to be a lot of bootlegging of DVDs going on yet.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention - at yesterday's event, we also got a chance to see New Line's Show West reel, which included the new Austin Powers 2 trailer. Let me just say, it looks like this film could be even better than the original. Some very funny stuff. Try this moment on for size:

Felicity: "My name is Felicity Shagwell. Shagwell by name... shag VERY well by reputation..."

Austin: "Oh, BE-HAAAVVE!"

Ditto. See you tomorrow... ;-)

3/17/98

We've got another review for you today, and in the spirit of Oscar month, Doogan's taken a look at 1978's Best Picture-winning film, The Deer Hunter.

The folks at MGM have just purchased their way out of their DVD distribution deal with Warner, and all of the Turner catalog has reverted back to Warner as part of the deal. Warner will continue distributing MGM DVD product until January 31, 2000, to facilitate the transition, at which point MGM will take over fully. Hopefully, that means that MGM has plans to seriously kick their DVD production up a few notches - critical (in my opinion) given all the great Polygram titles they now control. You can read the press release here.

I received this press statement this morning from the folks at Sharpline Arts, who are involved in producing the special edition content for a number of previous laserdisc projects, and are now working in the DVD world, having just completed Artisan's Ramling Rose:

"Glendale, California ­ (March 17, 1999) In 1992, FoxVideo released the benchmark Special Edition Laser Disc of Ridley Scott's ALIEN, for which Sharpline Arts' extensive supplemental presentation set a standard for the medium. Since then, Sharpline Arts has been called upon to preserve and enhance the gems of the Fox catalog, its staff having produced distinguished Laser Disc special editions for ALIENS, THE ABYSS, THE SOUND OF MUSIC, and THE KING AND I, and best-selling soundtrack albums for THE STAR WARS TRILOGY SPECIAL EDITION. Now, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment will celebrate the 20th anniversary of ALIEN with the DVD debut of all four films in the series and a VHS Collector's Set, to be released this summer, and they have again turned to Sharpline Arts for the supplemental programming. This time, the rare outtakes, photographs, and behind-the-scenes footage presented on the Laser Disc have been incorporated into a comprehensive 68-minute documentary on the making of ALIEN, produced by David C. Fein and directed by Michael Matessino. New interviews and additional never-before-seen material will be featured, and the DVD will contain a running commentary with director Ridley Scott and many more exclusive surprises. Like its Laser Disc predecessor, ALIEN on DVD is poised to set a new standard for the format, and is certain to be one of the most anticipated releases of the year."

So now you know who's doing the special edition content for the Alien DVD. By the way, Charlie is thrilled with all of those Alien comments you've been e-mailing in, so keep them coming.

I wanted to point out that E-Town has finally overhauled their DVD discussion forum, so that you have to create a unique identity, and log in, to post. It's also being heavily moderated (to the point of staffers even creating discussion threads themselves), so hopefully things will get a lot more civil over there. Time was, E-Town was a good place to talk DVD with your fellow fans - maybe it will be again.

Back with more tomorrow...

3/16/99

Congratulations to the winner of our March Trivia Contest, Stephanie Mah! Her entry was picked, out of the 1,036 we received, and was announced last night. She won the Pioneer DV-414 DVD player, a Trio for DVD kit, and 6 discs. Nicely done, Stephanie. And to everyone else... hang in there - we're giving another player away next month!

We're very pleased today to be able to bring you an advance, full-length review of DreamWorks' awesome new ANTZ DVD, which streets later this month. I'm gonna go out on a limb here, but the image quality on this DVD is so good, that I expect it will become favorite demo material for a long while. You're really going to be impressed by this one...

We've also got more upcoming DVD artwork, this time from MGM (and one from Fox), so dive into that. You'll notice that we have two pages of artwork now, and we'll be adding more as it comes in.

Thanks to everyone who has sent in comments about our interview with Charles de Lauzirika, on the forthcoming Alien DVD. Charlie would love to hear from you Alien fans out there, so if you e-mail me with your 2 cents, I'll be sure to forward your messages on to him. See - the studios do listen to their consumers!

Speaking of the Alien DVDs, we have a very interesting (and very tentative) bit of scuttlebutt in today's Rumor Mill, so be sure to check that out.

Some of the industry trade papers have been reporting that DVD rentals are finally beginning to build, no doubt due to the increased number of players out there. And it isn't just the big boys who are enjoying increased rental business - Rain City stores (a Seattle-area chain) says that DVD rentals are now approaching 10% of their business. And, across the board, DVD rentals are much more brisk than laserdisc.

In another interesting note, Circuit City is now claiming that Divx-related costs are going to reduce overall earnings in the fourth quarter by some 31 cents a share. Their fiscal year ended on February 28th, and the actual results will be reported in the first week of April. I bet those shareholders are happy campers now.

Stay tuned...

3/15/99

How was the weekend, everyone? Did everyone check out the Ronin online event last night? All of the content should now be available to anyone who logs on to the site with the disc in their DVD drive.

We at the Bits have been very disturbed over a legal ruling, that's made headlines recently. A lawsuit has been filed against director Oliver Stone and Time-Warner, over two kids in Louisiana, who claim that watching Natural Born Killers 20 times made them take arms against a convenience store clerk. Gotta love the old, "the movie made me do it" excuse. You can read Doogan's thoughts on this case in his latest editorial.

We've got a sneak peek at the DVD cover artwork for a whole bunch of upcoming Buena Vista DVDs, including A Bug's Life and that Criterion Armageddon. We're planning to grow this page into a whole new section, where we'll post such art in the future.

The CEMA DVD sales numbers have been updated today, to reflect the 19,243 players sold to retail in the first week of March (week ending 3/5). The grand total in the U.S., with almost 2 years behind the DVD format, is 1,648,575 players sold. The chart above, and the full page, have been updated accordingly.

Be sure to check out Laserviews, which has posted another big update that includes the Alien films, Waking Ned Devine, Elizabeth, and a bunch of Buena Vista DVDs.

We'll be back tonight, to announce the Trivia Contest winner. We'll also be back bright and early tomorrow, with a full-length, advance review of DreamWorks' upcoming ANTZ! DVD! See you then...

3/12/99

So is there anyone online today, or are you all in line for Wing Commander to see the new Star Wars trailer? Well, for those of you who may be hanging around, we've got more coverage of Alien today. You'll find Todd Doogan's retrospective look at the original Alien, which talks about the film's development history, and runs down some of the deleted scenes we might get to see on the upcoming DVD. You die hard fans can also download a larger version of that new Alien Legacy logo. And, if you missed it yesterday, be sure to check out our interview with Charles de Lauzirika, who is personally supervising the DVD's production for director Ridley Scott.

In some housekeeping work, we've also updated Jim Taylor's Official DVD FAQ to the latest version (which has LOTS of new information), and we've updated the Top 10 Selling DVD list as well.

Have a great weekend!

(LATE UPDATE - 3/11/99 - 3:45 PM PST)

So has everyone seen the new Phantom Menace trailer yet? Once again, I'm absolutely blown away by the work of Lucas and company. It looks to be a much darker film than we've seen before - and VERY cool. Don't miss the trailer, either in theaters tomorrow, or online (you'll find the links in today's early post, below). Fox definitely has a hit on their hands with this flick...

Speaking of Fox, remember the other day, when I said I'd been doing some behind-the-scenes DVD work? Well now you'll finally learn what I was talking about. I've had the recent privilege to sit down and talk with Ridley Scott's personal supervisor on the new Alien DVD, Charles de Lauzirika. He's a very talented young filmmaker, and a great guy to boot, who is working hard to make sure the DVD meets everyone's high expectations. You can read a full transcript of our discussion today, and I think you'll find it fascinating. There are some great insights into what we can look forward to on the DVD, and you'll get your first look at the awesome new Alien Legacy logo, courtesy of Fox. Absolutely don't miss it!

Also, speaking of Fox, the studio confirmed to me that The X-Files DVD has been delayed at least a few days, to resolve come technical problems with the commentary track. I'm told that the new street date of May 4th, which is being reported by DVD.com, is tentative. But Fox assures me that they're working hard to get the disc out as soon as possible, with quality being their first priority.

In other news, not a day after I mentioned all those Universal titles in yesterday's Rumor Mill, many of them have been confirmed by a new update of Laserviews' DVD News page. There are some other good titles listed there, including those Fox Lorber Truffaut discs we mentioned yesterday, so be sure to check it out.

MGM has confirmed those WWII DVDs they've got planned for May, as reported recently in The Rumor Mill. Look for Battan, Pork Chop Hill, Run Silent, Run Deep and They Were Expendable, all on May 18th. Also, the studio has confirmed that the oft-delayed Kingpin DVD will finally be released on May 4th, and it will include both standard and widescreen versions, as well as new audio commentary by Peter and Bobby Farrelly, the original theatrical trailer, and an 8-page booklet. The disc will also feature a raunchier, R-rated version, with even more tasteless footage restored to the film. I had tears in my eyes after seeing the original version in theaters, so I can't wait. For those of you who haven't seen it, think There's Something About Mary, but even more tasteless! Should be a treat.

We'll be back tomorrow with lots more!

(EARLY UPDATE - 3/11/99 - 10:30 AM PST)

This is just a quick early update to let everyone know that Star Wars.com and several other sites on the Internet now have the new Star Wars: Phantom Menace trailer available for download. You can also try this link at Apple.com. We'll be back later with our regular update.

3/10/99

Searching for that great Francois Truffaut film on DVD? You wont have to wait much longer. Fox Lorber has just announced that they are releasing 6 of the director's films on DVD on April 27th. The titles include The 400 Blows, Shoot the Piano Player, The Last Metro, Confidentially Yours, Love on the Run, and Two English Girls. All will be released to coincide with a 40th anniversary celebration of the director's first feature film, and all but 400 Blows are new to DVD. The 400 Blows is expected to include commentary by film critic Glen Kenny (of Premiere magazine), trailers and more. All will retail for a $29.98. Six more Truffaut films will be released in August, including Jules and Jim, Bed and Board, Stolen Kisses, The Woman Next Door, The Soft Skin and a disc of two short films, Antoine and Collette and Les Mistons.

We've got more upcoming DVD title information in today's Rumor Mill update, so be sure to check that out. You'll find info on Paramount, Universal and Artisan this time around.

Alien Legacy VHS package concepts The Fox web site had a very brief online poll the other day, allowing fans to choose the package design they preferred for their new Alien Legacy VHS boxed set. The poll was only up for a very brief time. I'm told that the DVD package may be somewhat different than either of these, but they're cool nonetheless. Word is the "egg field" concept won out.

Some other news today: DTS has announced its own entry in to the 6.1 digital surround sound arena - DTS-ES. This is no doubt an effort to not be left behind by Dolby's forthcoming Dolby Digital-Surround EX. What is this - the Cola wars? Fear not DVD fans, there's plenty of life yet to 5.1...

Have you heard? Divx supporter Future Shop is indeed closing all of their U.S. stores. Gosh, I'm bummed... (wink wink). You can read the press release here. It really begins to beg the question: with all of the major DVD releases currently in the works, and with all of the major Hollywood studios ramping up their DVD plans, is Divx even really a factor anymore? We'll have more on this soon. Also PC game developer Psygnosis is working hard on their first DVD-based computer game, entitled Lander. Sounds cool, so check out the press release for the details. Broderbund and The Learning Company are also developing DVD versions of some of their Creativity Line of software titles (see details).

Finally today, I'd like to congratulate Peter Bracke on the new, revised launch of his web site, DVD File.com. Looks great, Pete!

3/9/99

Reviews at last, reviews at last... thank God almighty... we've got reviews at last! Yes indeed, we've finally got some of those DVD reviews we promised last week up today. You can read our full-length looks at a pair of new hit DVDs, Ronin and Rush Hour. And in honor of this month's Academy Awards, we're taking a look at 1996's Best Picture film The English Patient. More reviews are on the way tomorrow.

We had a very busy weekend (which pushed right into Monday as well) here at the Bits. We had the opportunity to do a little behind-the-scenes work up in L.A. yesterday, and you'll be seeing the result of that soon. I'll tell you more about it as soon as I can, but we're all pretty excited about it around here.

A couple of weeks worth of CEMA DVD player sales numbers have just arrived. The week ending 2/19 saw 23,592 players sold into retail, and the following week (ending 2/26) saw another 54,516 sold. The grand total is now 1,629,332 sold since Day One. We've updated the listing above, and the full chart, accordingly.

Around the Net, Laserviews has updated their DVD News page to include some new titles. And Capitol Records has announced a day-and-date release of the Radiohead DVD, Meeting People Is Easy.

We were all very surprised and saddened about the death, over the weekend, of director Stanley Kubrick. The news has certainly hit the Internet film community hard - Yahoo has a whole page of links to various stories on his death. And there are some... well, plenty silly posts about this around the Net as well. Personally, I can't think of a better way to remember the man, than to go out and spin a few of his films in your DVD player. If you're looking for some good ones to watch, I'd like to refer you to our reviews of two of my favorite Kubrick films on DVD - 2001: A Space Odyssey and Dr. Strangelove. Thankfully, Warner is preparing several more of his films for DVD release later this summer. And what greater final gift can Kubrick have given the world, than one last film - the just-completed Eyes Wide Shut? Our own Todd Doogan has a couple of final things to say on this subject today, with a heavy heart to be sure, but thankfully, with his wits about him (click here for his editorial).

Finally today, I'd like to tip my baseball cap to recognize the passing of Joltin' Joe DiMaggio, whose 1941 56 consecutive game hitting streak has never been equaled. Swing on, Joe.

See you all tomorrow.

3/8/99

Sorry for the lack of updates the last few days. I've had some very interesting things come up (DVD-wise) that I'm having to devote my attention to. But I'll be back late tonight or early tomorrow morning, with those reviews and an update on everything. See you then...

3/5/99

Well, it's very early in the morning, and I've got the first of those reviews posted - a look a Fox's new Ever After DVD. Since I'm getting this post out of the way early, I'll be spending the whole day working on the rest of those reviews, so look for more to appear this afternoon.

In the meantime, I've got a bunch of ground to cover today. First of all, I've gotten a look at those Die Hard DVDs, and I can tell you that the discs are all RSDL dual-layered. They each include a "making-of" featurette and a slideshow of production photos, as well as theatrical trailers. All feature fully-animated menu screens, and the quality appears to be excellent.

It seems we can't escape the building Star Wars hype. You fans will want to read this transcript of a Yahoo on-line chat with Phantom Menace producer Rick McCallum. Despite what McCallum says about "no date yet being set" for the release of the second Episode I trailer, we at The Digital Bits have confirmed that it will be attached to Fox's Wing Commander, which opens on March 12th. So get ready for LONG lines. By the way, we've heard the new trailer will blow people away...

Speaking of Star Wars, we've had tons of people asking us if we can confirm the E! Online story about the DVD versions of the trilogy being announced in March and released in May. This is completely false. We've said this before, and we'll probably have to keep saying it - while the film transfers have likely been completed, work on the DVDs has NOT yet begun. Trust us on this one - there's NO way the discs will appear in May. Look for them in the fall or shortly before the holidays.

We've got some really terrific new information in today's Rumor Mill update, about a host of exciting, upcoming Paramount titles, and a few other things as well. You definitely won't want to miss it.

Remember that company, Digital Versatile Disc, that brought you the DTS Legend of Mulan? Well they're gearing up to release a game called Shadoan to DVD, based on the arcade game Thayers Quest. It's an interactive animated adventure, very similar to Dragon's Lair (in fact, its designer is none other than the co-creator of Dragon's Lair, Rick Dyer). The release will include dual DVD-ROM and DVD-Video versions on the same disc, and will be compatible with all current DVD players. It will also include DTS 5.1 sound, as well as a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. Other features include score memory, subtitles in seven languages, IBM ViaVoice enhancement (DVD-ROM only), and a free strategy guide. No word yet on a firm street date.

Finally today, we'd like to thank the folks at Audio Magazine, for the nice mention of The Digital Bits in their March issue. There's a whole feature story on surfing the Net for audio and DVD information, and the Bits is mentioned as a good place to point your browser. There's even a nice screen shot of our home page. We're really honored to be recognized by such a well-respected publication. Our congrats also to DVD Resource, Home Theater Forum, and DVD Post, who also got mentioned.

Stay tuned for more reviews, and have yourselves a great weekend!

3/4/99

Gods, another busy day of phone calls and faxes! The reviews will be posted this evening - I'm going to be working on them all afternoon, so they will definitely be posted tonight.

However, I'm pleased to say that I can officially kill another bogus rumor which is circulating around the Net today. There have been rumors of a street date change for The X-Files DVD. This is not so. The disc is on target to street, as expected, April 20th. I'm also please to be able to announce that the DVD will include not just one theatrical trailer, but all three of the trailers that were (are are currently) available on the film's official web site. I know several people have e-mailed me to ask about that.

You may also have heard that The Siege is expected to street on April 20th as well, which is true. The latter film is not expected to be in anamorphic widescreen. I've also been checking with Fox as to whether True Lies will be anamorphic. I've been told that that may still be up in the air - the transfer that will be used for the DVD has not yet been done. I'll keep you up to date on this.

By the way, True Lies was listed in the Laserviews 3/2 update. Laserviews made another update yesterday, with additional titles from Image.

In other news, Warner has announced the skinny on their forthcoming You've Got Mail DVD, and thankfully, AOL will not be bundled with it! There will, however, be lots of cool features on the disc. Check out Warner's official press release for the details. On the hardware side, Sony has announced plans for a hefty new piece of equipment - a 200 disc DVD changer. Be sure to read their press release as well. Also, Sonic Solutions is now shipping the world's first DVD-Audio authoring software package. Talk about fast. Again, you can read the details in their press release.

I'll be back with those disc reviews tonight. See you then!

3/3/99

Nothing like fact checking and chasing down rumors to eat up your time. I've been stuck doing a bunch of research today, on DVD issues which came up suddenly yesterday, so the reviews I promised yesterday are getting bumped until tomorrow.

Until then, Laserviews has been updated with some interesting new titles, including True Lies from Fox, so be sure to check that out. Pioneer Entertainment is holding a massive mail-order laserdisc sale - hundreds of titles at $10 each. Check their web site for the details. Roger Waters has announced that Pink Floyd's The Wall is currently in production at the Sony DVD center, being transferred from a newly-discovered print of the film. Very cool.

Finally today, there has been a rumor spreading around the Net, which I've received several e-mails about, to the effect that DreamWorks' ANTZ DVD would also be a straight digital transfer (from the original digital animation files) like Disney's A Bug's Life. I've checked with DreamWorks on this issue, and that is absolutely untrue. ANTZ will be the first full-length, fully-CGI film on DVD, but the transfer was done using the standard telecine process. It will however, be anamorphic on DVD, which A Bug's Life will not. I'm not sure who started this rumor, but it's completely bogus.

Back tomorrow...

3/2/99

We're very happy today, to feature an interview with Dave and Linda Lukas, the owners of Dave's Video - The Laser Place. You may recall that we mention Dave's Video from time to time here at the Bits. Dave's is the venue of the famed Studio Day event, here in L.A. every year. They also host lots of great signing events with feature film directors and other talent. Dave and Linda have a lot of history with the film biz, so I think you'll find the interview an interesting read.

Also today, we're pleased to be able to give you all a look at the box art and features on Fox's upcoming The X-Files DVD. I'm a big fan of the show, so I can't wait for this title. Wouldn't you know it, Buena Vista e-mailed over those screen shots from Criterion's upcoming DVD of Armageddon. We missed them last week, due to a technical glitch, and they've previously been posted on DVD Resource. But if you haven't seen them yet, you'll definitely want to check them out now (click here, and be patient, as they'll take a minute to load).

Film scholar David Skal sent me a nice e-mail yesterday, saying that he's already well into production on those great, classic horror DVDs over at Universal. You may recall that we've reported previously, that David is producing the collector's edition DVDs, which include both film versions of Dracula, The Mummy, Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein and The Wolf Man. David tells me that the first of the series will be Frankenstein, which should street sometime in August. Can't wait!

In other industry news, you videogame fans will be happy to learn that Sony has revealed some of the details of their next generation game console (aka PlayStation 2), and it WILL use DVD as the heart of the system (very cool!). Look for a US market arrival in the fall of 2000. It's beginning to look as if Saving Private Ryan will find its way to video as a rental title in May - no word yet on a DVD version. We've heard that MGM is going to begin packaging their DVDs with anti-theft tags, starting in April (makes good sense to us). Also, when Warner's You've Got Mail hits DVD on May 4th, the disc will include a bunch of cool special features, including interviews with director Nora Ephron, and links to real online chat rooms. But I'll cringe if it comes bundled with AOL 4.0... Finally today, Troma is giving away a trip to the Cannes Film Festival. Be sure to stop by their B-Flicks.com web site for more details.

We'll be back tomorrow with full-length reviews of some great new DVD titles. So we'll see you then!

3/1/99

All of a sudden, it's feeling kinda March-ish, isn't it? So how was everybody's weekend? Mine, of course, was spent preparing for the upgrade to version 2.0 of the Bits. Things are coming along fairly well, and the weekend seems to be the best time to get all of the odds and ends wrapped up on the upgrade. We should be just a couple weeks away from rolling it out now - we'll keep you up to date.

I've been getting a lot of e-mail asking what Todd's been up to. Well... you can read his latest Doogan's Views column today, and find out for yourself. We've also got the March Trivia Contest going today, which will give you the chance to win another DVD player, and six movies. Sarah's been working on the new crossword puzzle, and it's a tough one. Oscar is the theme of the contest this month, and we think you'll enjoy it.

Star Wars bootleg DVD Remember that bootleg Titanic DVD that we told you about a few months ago? Well the digital pirates are at it again. One of our readers sent us scans of an illegal DVD of Star Wars now available for sale in Asia and Australia. As with the Titanic disc, it appears to have been mastered from a laserdisc, and is of poor quality. And again, the pirates have made plenty of errors on the disc packaging and on the disc itself. You can see a larger scan of the cover, and the disc, by clicking here (be patient - it will take a minute or two load). Somehow, I don't think Universal is behind this (as the edge of the disc claims). Thanks, Niklas!


Home Theater Forum had another on-line chat with DVD producer Jonathan Gains, and we've got the transcript up - definitely worth a read. For those of you who may not know who he is, Jonathan is producing the upcoming Ronin live event. Around the Net this weekend, DVD Resource has got some menu screens up from Criterion's new Armageddon DVD, so be sure to check that out. Also, be sure to congratulate Pete over at DVD File on getting his review database going. The guy's been hard at work on it for some time, and it seems to work pretty well.

See you back here tomorrow!

2/26/99

Some exciting Alien series news for you today. We've gotten a good look at the set of features on the upcoming Alien Legacy series, and we think you'll be impressed. Here's just SOME of what you can look forward to:

Alien - THX, 16x9, new film transfer, full-length audio commentary with Ridley Scott, interviews with crew, deleted scenes, original storyboards, production stills, 30 min + behind-the-scenes documentary, booklet with production notes

Aliens - THX, 16x9, new film transfer, director James Cameron's longer director's cut, production artwork from the collections of Cameron, Ron Cobb and Syd Mead, original advertising materials, annotated history, production photographs, interview with Cameron, production notes in booklet

Alien 3 - THX, 16x9, new film transfer, 23 minute behind-the-scenes documentary The Making of Alien 3, interviews with cast and crew, production notes in booklet

Alien: Resurrection - THX, 16x9, new film transfer, booklet with production notes, 3 minute featurette

Let me stress that this list is definitely incomplete. There are other features that are still in development. Much of what was included in the laserdisc SEs of Alien and Aliens will be included here, along with new material being created specifically for the DVD release. Also, those of you who buy the Alien Legacy 4-pack, will be rewarded with a set of 9 collector's cards, not available anywhere else. Look for all of them to street on June 1st. We'll have more on this set as we can.

In the meantime, we've also confirmed the features that will be included on The X-Files DVD, due on April 20th. Unfortunately, no other deleted scenes or alternate ending will be included, other than the scene that was already added back in for the home video release. But, you will get full length audio commentary from Chris Carter and director Rob Bowman, a 30 minute documentary, and the original theatrical trailer. By the way, Fox tells me that April 20th is still a good release date, despite rumors of a delay reported elsewhere on the Net.

Also today, we have the details on Buena Vista May DVD plans, and I think you'll be somewhat excited. It definitely looks as though The Mouse is ramping up their DVD output. Look for 8 titles from the studio in May. You can read more about them in today's Rumor Mill update.

Have a great weekend!

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