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page updated: 11/1/05



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 10/17/05 - 9/20/05)


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10/17/05

Morning, folks! Got your coffee and danish handy? Good... let's start with some new DVD announcements today then.

Warner Bros. has revealed a new 4-movie box set, The Peckinpah Collection, for release on 1/10/06 (SRP $59.98). Included will be a new 2-disc Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid: Special Edition (available separately on 1/10 at SRP $26.99) and The Wild Bunch: Special Edition (also $26.99 separately), along with The Ballad of Cable Hogue and Ride the High Country ($19.97 each by their lonesome).

Warner has a trio of new TV titles on the way as well. The Flash: The Complete Series will hit shelves on 1/10/06 (6-discs, SRP $59.98). Following on 1/17 are The Adventures of Superman: The Complete Second Season (5-discs, $39.98) and Lois & Clark: The Complete Second Season (6-discs, $59.98).

Disney has released two more Walt Disney's Classic Cartoon Favorites DVDs (they were released on 9/27 - SRP $19.99 each). Volume 8: Holiday Celebration with Mickey and Pals includes the shorts Mickey's Good Deed, Peculiar Penguins, The Clock Watcher, Rescue Dog, Corn Chips, Lend a Paw and Toy Tinkers. Meanwhile, Volume 9: Classic Holiday Stories features The Small One, Pluto's Christmas Tree and Mickey's Christmas Carol.

The studio also has Walt Disney's Timeless Tales, Volume 3 set for 1/3/06 (SRP $19.99). Included will be Casey at the Bat, Little Hiawatha, The Wise Little Hen, The Golden Touch, Morris the Midget Moose and Ben and Me.

For you camp classic fans, Buena Vista recently acquired the Roger Corman library, so they expect to deliver a trio of Corman titles as special editions on 12/13 (SRP $19.99 each). They'll include Rock 'n' Roll High School, Death Race 2000 and Big Bad Mamma. Each will include retrospective featurettes, audio commentary with Corman and cast members and more. Corman's latest producing effort, Dinocroc, will also street on DVD on 12/13. Note that Rock 'n' Roll High School and Big Bad Mamma will also be available on UMD format for Sony's PSP (we'll update our PSP Release List tomorrow).

Around the Net today, there's a couple interesting stories over at Video Business. The first piece deals with how some TV shows get their later season releases delayed if the first season's release on DVD underperforms. The second reveals that Paramount is planning to premiere 6 to 9 movies a year directly to DVD (bypassing a theatrical release).

Back here at The Bits today, our very own Barrie Maxwell has checked in with another of his great Classic Coming Attractions columns. In this edition, Barrie reviews Warner's outstanding new Ben-Hur: 4-Disc Collector's Edition, along with Universal's recent The Bela Lugosi Collection and Paramount's Anything Goes. All are now available in stores.

We've also got another installment of Jahnke's Electric Theatre for you today. This one's a BRAND NEW edition, featuring Adam's thoughts on four films currently in theaters, including Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Capote, Good Night, and Good Luck and In Her Shoes. He even tosses in a review of the classic Shane just for good measure.

In case you missed it on Friday afternoon, I've posted my own in-depth review of Paramount's new Titanic: Special Collector's Edition 3-Disc Set (due on 10/25). I know some of you have been looking forward to that review, so be sure to check it out.

We've also updated all of the DVD hardware and software stats we track here at The Bits (above), including the complete CEA DVD Player Sales numbers for the month of September (some 2,065,892 units were shipped as of 9/30). All of our charts have been updated accordingly.

And we've even kicked off SIX new Contests today, giving you the chance to win Warner's Batman Begins, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and Veronica Mars: The Complete First Season, HBO's Unscripted, Universal's The Big Lebowski: Collector's Edition, Anchor Bay's 3rd Rock from the Sun: Season Two and a whopping EIGHT anime titles from our friends over at Geneon! The contests will run until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, October 23rd. Click on the links to get started good luck!

Before we go, a quick personal note: Let me just say congratulations to our own Matt Rowe on his beloved White Sox finally making it to the World Series. Matt's been waiting a LOOOOONNNNGGGG time for this to happen, let me tell you. That's the kind of pain you endure as a dedicated sports fan, so I'm hoping good things are in store for Matt. As for me, well... my Minnesota Vikings are... well... man, I don't even know what to say about the Vikings at the moment. Just when you think they can't stoop any lower, they find a new bottom to hit. Ugh. Can anyone out there spare a decent head football coach? And about 20 law-abiding, controversy-free players? Maybe a decent stadium to play in? Sheesh. I am one disgruntled Vikes fan right now, let me tell you. I think I'm gonna jump on Matt's baseball bandwagon for a few weeks to get me through the purple doldrums. I'm sure he'll make room on the ol' buckboard for a pal. ;-)

Back tomorrow with more. Stay tuned!

10/14/95

Okay... we've got two quick things for you to end the week right.

First up, a bit of DVD release news: Universal has announced a new Repo Man: Special Edition due to hit stores on 1/24/06 (SRP $19.98). The disc will include the film in anamorphic widescreen video, with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras are yet to be announced, but are expected to include audio commentary, deleted scenes, a theatrical trailer and at least 2 featurettes (Up Close with Harry Dean Stanton and Repossessed).

And FINALLY today, we're pleased to present you with my in-depth review of Paramount's new Titanic: Special Collector's Edition 3-Disc Set The video and audio quality is excellent, and there's a LOT of bonus material to go through on the DVD release (which is due to street on 10/25). Thankfully, it's mostly good stuff. There are a couple of disappointments, however. It's best to just check out the review for yourself and you'll see what I mean.

Have a great weekend, folks, and we'll see you all back here on Monday with more from Adam Jahnke and Barrie Maxwell. Best!

10/12/05

Afternoon, folks! We've got some good reviews for you all today. No, we haven't got Titanic done yet. Turns out there's a lot more content on the 3-disc set than I could watch in one evening, so I'll be back with that review late tomorrow.

However, we're not going to leave you hanging today. Our own Adam Jahnke has just sent in his latest installment of The Bottom Shelf, in which he reviews 6 recent DVD releases, including Fox's Fever Pitch, New Line's Monster-in-Law: Platinum Series, Warner's Alexander: Director's Cut and Million Dollar Baby: 3-Disc Deluxe Edition, Sony's xXx: State of the Union, and Lions Gate's Crash. At least a FEW of those films (and DVDs) are worth your time and money.

Also today, we've posted three more installments of Jahnke's Electric Theatre, featuring Adam's thoughts on scores of recent theatrical film releases. It's good fun, so do check them out. Just look for the columns marked as NEW.

And yes... as promised today, we've FINALLY posted some of those Skywalker Ranch photos for you to check out - four pages in all from our visit there last week. We've even thrown in a few shots of George Lucas' new Letterman Digital Arts Center at the Presidio in San Francisco. So enjoy those. ;-)

See you back here tomorrow!

10/11/05

Boy... have we EVER heard from Bits readers regarding the problem of older Universal DVDs no longer working on newer model DVD players. We've gotten hundreds of e-mails from you guys about this issue. It certainly seems that this is no isolated problem. We're going to dig into this and post more over the next few days, so stay tuned...

We've got a lot of new title announcements to report today. First up, Warner Bros has announced The Dukes of Hazzard remake film for 12/6. The film will be available in both PG-13 (full frame) and Unrated (full frame and widescreen) editions (SRP $28.98 each). Extras will include additional scenes, gag reels, the theatrical trailer, Jessica Simpson's These Boots are Made for Walking music video and 4 featurettes (Daisy Dukes: The Short Short Shorts, The General Lee Lives, How to Launch a Muscle Car 175 feet in 4 Seconds and The Hazards of Dukes: Behind the Scenes).

Also announced by the studio for release on 12/20 is Must Love Dogs (SRP $28.98) in separate full frame and anamorphic widescreen versions). Extras will include additional scenes, a gag reel and more.

Disney has set Benji the Hunted, The Devil and Max Devlin, My Dog, The Thief and Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken for release on 1/17, with the animated Bambi II (SRP $29.99) for release on 2/7/06.

Meanwhile, 20th Century Fox will release Alien Nation: Season One and Cloud 9 on 1/3/06, American Women on 1/10, Mary Tyler Moore: Season Three on 1/17, Hill Street Blues: Season One and Time Tunnel: Volume One on 1/24, and finally Love's Long Journey on 1/31. Alien Nation will include audio commentary by Kenneth Johnson on the 2-part pilot, while Time Tunnel will include the series' unaired pilot episode, along with Irwin Allen home movies, network promo spots, radio spots, an FX camera test, galleries of production art, production and merchandise photos, and a comic book.

And Paramount has announced a pair of titles for you Gunsmoke fans: Gunsmoke: 50th Anniversary Edition, Volume 1 and Gunsmoke: 50th Anniversary Edition, Volume 2. Each is a 3-disc set (presumably containing a "best of" selection of episodes) due on 1/3.

You fans of Peter Jackson should appreciate this: a look at the packaging and bonus items that will be included in Universal's 2-disc King Kong: Peter Jackson's Production Diaries box set (due on 12/13 - SRP $39.98), which packs booklets, production artwork prints and more.

King Kong: Peter Jackson's Production Diaries

We've also got more cover artwork for you today. Here's a look at Universal's Battlestar Galactica: Season 2.0 (12/20) and SeaQuest DSV: Season One (12/26), along with Warner's The Dukes of Hazzard: Unrated Edition...

Battlestar Galactica: Season 2.0SeaQuest DSV: Season OneThe Dukes of Hazzard: Unrated

We'll have those Skywalker Ranch photos for you soon. And if you're lucky, I just MIGHT get my review of Paramount's long-awaited, 3-disc Titanic: Special Collector's Edition up for tomorrow.

Stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 10/10/05 - 3 PM PDT)

There's a lot of sad news today here on planet Earth, what with 30,000 reported dead in that earthquake in Pakistan. As with the hurricanes relief effort here in the States, we encourage you to be generous in helping those who are affected by donating to the American Red Cross, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent and other charitable organizations involved.

In the film world today, there's also the sad news that the Aardman Animations building in the U.K. was destroyed by a fire, resulting in the loss of virtually the company's entire stored history of artwork, props and the like. Yeah, I know it's not the same as 30,000 people dying, but it's still disheartening to fans of Wallace and Gromit, Chicken Run and the company's other animations. Ironically, the just released Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit feature film was the #1 film in the U.S. over the weekend.

We'll post those Skywalker Ranch photos tomorrow. Turns out Sarah took a LOT more than I suspected, so there's a lot to go through in picking the best ones for you to see. ;-)

In the meantime, we've kicked off FIVE new Contests here at The Bits today, giving each of you the chance to take home copies of Fox's Kingdom of Heaven, four TV anime titles from Geneon, Capital Entertainment's Count Duckula: The Complete First Season, Universal's Land of the Dead: Unrated Director's Cut, Unleashed: Unrated Edition and Imagining Argentina, and five great UMD titles from Anchor Bay! Entries will be accepted until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, October 16th. Click on the links to get started and good luck!

One last note today... we've noticed a strange thing here at The Bits. In going back to a lot of our very early Universal DVD releases (released in 1997 and 1998), we've discovered that many of those discs have simply stopped working in our DVD players. We don't know if the discs' bonding layers have gone bad, or if they're simply not compatible with newer players, or what. Affected so far are our original copies of the special collector's editions of Apollo 13, Psycho, Vertigo and others. We recommend that you check the older Universal titles in your own collections for similar problems. Let us know if you're encountering this as well.

Back tomorrow. Stay tuned...

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

Morning everyone! I hope you all had a great weekend. I did my share of relaxing these last couple of days - slept in for a change and even found time to catch a movie at the local google-plex. Not too bad.

As you may have noticed, we made a surprise post on Friday afternoon with our in-depth review of Lucasfilm and Fox's 2-disc Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith DVD, which hits stores on 11/1. It's going to blow you away in the picture and sound department, let me tell you. Do check out the review and enjoy.

On the news front this morning, we have word that Universal has announced the DVD release of a recent favorite of mine, Steve Carrell's The 40-Year-Old Virgin, for 12/13 (SRP $29.98). There will be three versions available on DVD - an anamorphic widescreen unrated edition with 17 minutes of additional footage, and full frame versions of the theatrical cut and the unrated version (as with Romero's Land of the Dead, the theatrical cut will not be available in widescreen). Extras will include a gag reel, additional footage from the You Know How I Know You're Gay? scene, Line-o-Rama (featuring a look at the cast saying their lines in different ways) and more. The unrated edition will add additional deleted footage (under the label Andy's Fantasies) and My Dinner with Stormy (a featurette in which actor/co-producer Seth Rogen has dinner with porn star Stormy Daniels).

We also have confirmation on some of the extras to be included on Universal's Battlestar Galactica: Season 2.0, due on 12/20. You WILL get all of producer Ron Moore's podcast commentaries, along with over 40 deleted scenes and a preview of the second half of the season. We're also told (although this part is yet to be confirmed) that the mid-season finale episode, Pegasus, will be presented in an extended version on DVD (12-15 minutes longer than the broadcast version). Nice.

We'll be back later today with some pictures from our trip to Skywalker Ranch last week, as well as some new Contests.

In the meantime, we'll leave you with new DVD cover art. Here's a look at Universal's The 40-Year-Old Virgin: Unrated Edition and The Island (12/13), as well as Disney's Kronk's New Groove (also 12/13).

The 40-Year-Old Virgin: Unrated EditionThe IslandKronk's New Groove

Stay tuned!

10/7/05

We've got a surprise treat for you Star Wars fans today to close out the week. Sarah and I made the quick plane hop up to San Francisco yesterday, to attend the Episode III DVD press event at the Skywalker Ranch. As today marks my 38th year on this planet, it was quite the nice way to spend an afternoon. I'll tell you more about it all (and post some pictures Sarah took) on Monday.

One interesting note from the event: Producer Rick McCallum and ILM animation director Rob Coleman confirmed that Lucas has continued to digitally massage the other Star Wars films. Specifically, Coleman indicated that the puppet Yoda from Episode I has been replaced with a digital Yoda that matches the character as seen in Episodes II and III. The CG performance was specifically tailored to match to Frank Oz's puppet performance. You'll be pleased to know that Coleman also told me, in no uncertain terms, that Oz's puppet work in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi will NEVER be replaced with CG. So you fans can rest easy. You'll get to see the new changes on a future, as-yet-unscheduled box set release of the entire Star Wars saga on DVD and/or HD.

One other interesting item to report from the event: McCallum expects there to be 22 Young Indiana Jones Chronicles DVDs in all, 3 of which have been completed. The discs will include some 66 historical featurettes, now in production. Work has been ongoing for about 18 months on the Young Indy DVDs, with about another 18 months worth of work yet to be done. If all goes well, the plan is to tie the DVD release to the theatrical debut of Indy IV (the script for which Lucas is expected to finish this Sunday).

Anyway, as you're probably hoping, I've just posted my in-depth review of the 2-disc Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith DVD, which streets on 11/1. If you thought the video and audio quality on the previous Star Wars DVDs was impressive, just wait until you get your hands on this.

So you guys go enjoy that. Meanwhile, I'm taking the rest of the day off to relax. ;-)

Have a great weekend and we'll see you back here on Monday!

10/6/05

Morning, everyone. We're checking in early today with some good stuff, so let's get right into it.

But first, a quick reminder: In case you missed them yesterday, be sure to check out my reviews of Warner's 2-disc Batman Begins: Deluxe Edition (street date 10/18) and Paramount's 2-disc Star Trek: Nemesis - Special Collector's Edition (now available). 'Nuff said.

Now then... we're very pleased this morning to present you with Adam Jahnke's interview with special effects guru Tom Sullivan! Adam chats with Tom about his career, his work on the Evil Dead films and his creepy new packaging for Anchor Bay's Evil Dead 2: Book of the Dead 2. It's a fascinating interview, so be sure to check it out when you've got a moment. And watch for Adam's review of the DVD release itself in a forthcoming edition of The Bottom Shelf.

Around the Net today, there's some breaking news on the Blu-ray Disc/HD DVD front. Business Week is reporting something that we've been expecting for a couple days now, namely that Warner Home Video is about to announce that they're going to follow Paramount's lead and support BOTH the HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc high-definition formats when they debut next year. If this happens, and we expect it will (we also expect Universal to follow suit as well), the writing may be on the wall for HD DVD. All of the major Hollywood studios will have announced support for Blu-ray Disc, while only Paramount, Warner, New Line, HBO and Universal have proclaimed support for HD DVD. We'll have to wait and see how this plays out over the next few days and weeks, but it's definitely a BIG deal (not to mention an interesting development). Stay tuned on that.

Now then... some DVD release news. Universal has officially announced some major new titles for December and January. First up, look for Michael Bay's The Island on 12/13 (SRP $29.99). Separate anamorphic widescreen and full frame versions will be available, each with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras are still TBA, but we expect them to include audio commentary with Bay, several behind-the-scenes featurettes on the stunt work and more.

Next up is a title that had been previously announced by Universal, but was then pulled for a time. David Lynch's Dune: Extended Edition will now officially street on 1/31/06 (SRP $27.98). The 2-disc set will include both the original theatrical version (137 minutes), plus an all-new "extended version" (177 minutes) in anamorphic widescreen video, with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras are currently expected to include deleted scenes with introduction by Raffaella De Laurentiis, 4 behind-the-scenes featurettes (including Designing Dune, Special Effects, Models & Miniatures and Wardrobe Design), a gallery of production photos and production notes. We don't yet have official word from Universal as to whether or not Lynch himself participated (the title was originally delayed in the hopes that he would agree to be involved). We'll try to find out and let you know in the next few days.

Meanwhile, Universal has also announced School of Life for release on 1/3/06, with Phil the Alien following on 1/31/06.

We're not done yet with Universal. If you check out The Rumor Mill today, you brown-coat Joss Whedon fans may just find a little somethin' somethin' about the soon-to-be-announced DVD release of Serenity. Don't miss it!

One last bit of DVD news: The Criterion Collection has revealed that it will release Akira Kurosawa's The Bad Sleep Well (cat #319) in January, along with John Ford's Young Mr. Lincoln (#320), Ingmar Bergman's The Virgin Spring (#321) and Vittoria De Sica's The Children Are Watching Us (#323).

Before we go, given all of the HD DVD/Blu-ray Disc hype, news and controversy lately, we thought you might enjoy your first look at an actual piece of HD DVD hardware - something that you should actually be able to buy early next year. This is the manufacturing prototype for Toshiba's HD-XA1 HD DVD player. There are no official specs yet, and both the street date and retail price are TBA, but current plans call for it to arrive in stores in the 1st Qtr of 2006 (look for it to be priced somewhere between $1000 and $1500). We understand it's a solid, weighty unit, and the while faceplate rises to allow you to insert the disc and access hidden playback controls. That blue light under the display tells you it's playing back a disc.

Toshiba's HD-XA1 HD DVD player

We'll leave you today with a look at some more cover art. Here's Universal's Dune: Extended Edition, along with Rhino's Still Growing Up: Peter Gabriel Live & Unwrapped (due 11/15) and Criterion's The Bad Sleep Well (due in January)...

Dune (Extended Edition) (1984)Still Growing Up: Peter Gabriel Live & UnwrappedThe Bad Sleep Well

Back tomorrow. See you then!

10/5/05

Greetings, Bat fans! How's your Wednesday afternoon shakin'?

Seems like I promised you a couple of new DVD reviews, didn't I? Well, okay then... here you go. Now available here at The Bits, you'll find my very own, in-depth reviews of Warner's 2-disc Batman Begins: Deluxe Edition (street date 10/18) and Paramount's 2-disc Star Trek: Nemesis - Special Collector's Edition (now available). Both titles are well worth your time DVD-quality wise, while Batman Begins is obviously the better film of the two by a wide margin. So there you go. Enjoy!

By the way, I went out last night to get my hands on a copy of The Police: Synchronicity Concert, which was supposed to hit stores yesterday, and was unable to find it anywhere. Go figure. According to Amazon, however, the title IS now available, so I went ahead and ordered a copy. I'll try to post a review when it comes in.

We'll be back late tonight with a special new feature interview by our own Adam Jahnke. We'll also catch you up the latest DVD news, so stay tuned...

10/4/05

We're going to wait until tomorrow to post my DVD review of Paramount's 2-disc Star Trek: Nemesis - Special Collector's Edition, which streets today. What you need to right now (before you rush out to buy it this morning) is that it includes EVERYTHING that the previous DVD release had extras-wise, plus a lot more. It also improves upon the previous DVD release's already great video and audio quality. We'll have all the details for you tomorrow, along with that other review we promised as well.

The reason for the delay of MY reviews, is that our own Barrie Maxwell has checked in with a big new Classic Coming Attractions column this morning! In this edition, Barrie runs down all the latest classic release announcements. He also reviews more than 30 new and recent classic film DVDs from 20th Century Fox, including Brigham Young: Special Edition, The Detective, Tony Rome, Lady in Cement, A Farewell to Arms (1957), The Frogmen, Broken Lance, Drums Along the Mohawk, Forty Guns, In Old Arizona, Buffalo Bill, The Man Who Never Was, The Shirley Temple Collection: Volume 1 (which includes new DVD versions of Curly Top, Heidi and Little Miss Broadway), Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte, In Old Chicago, Dressed to Kill (1941), the Sherlock Holmes classics Terror by Night and Prelude to Murder, House on Haunted Hill, A Guide for the Married Man, Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation, A Man Called Peter, The Cabinet of Caligari (1962), The Innocents and a trio of film noir classics including The House on 92nd Street, Somewhere in the Night and Whirlpool. If you love vintage films, there's definitely something in Barrie's column for everyone. We hope you enjoy it!

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

10/3/05

In case any of you missed it yesterday, Paramount's officially announced that it will support BOTH the HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc formats when they launch in early 2006 - a rather surprising development to be sure. We're watching this situation closely, so stay tuned for more on the high-definition format front in the coming days.

We've got some DVD release news for you this morning. First up, Universal has bumped the street date for its 3-disc Miami Vice: Season Two from 11/22 to 12/13. Revise your purchase plans accordingly.

Next, Paramount has announced three titles for January '06: Hustle and Flow and a repackaged Election will street on 1/10, with Avatar Book 1, Volume 1 following on 1/24.

Finally, 20th Century Fox has set American Women for release on 1/10/06 as well.

Also today, remember that Rumor Mill post from the other day about the possibility of a Superman II: Director's Cut coming to DVD in 2006? Well, we've been able to confirm with our sources that there's definitely something to the story. Warner is hard at work on BIG promotion and tie-in plans for the theatrical and DVD release of Superman Returns, and new special edition DVDs of the original Superman II, III and IV are definitely among them. We'll post more as it comes in.

And for you Lord of the Rings fans, we've got some interesting soundtrack news: Reprise Records is going to be releasing all 180 minutes worth of music recorded by composer Howard Shore for The Fellowship of the Ring. The 4-disc The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - The Complete Recordings will arrive in stores on 11/22 (SRP TBA). The first three discs of the set will contain the score in CD stereo format, while the fourth disc will be a DVD containing the complete score in 5.1 surround sound. Other extras will include artwork and a booklet of liner notes entitled The Music of The Lord of the Rings Films - Part I: The Fellowship of the Ring, written by Doug Adams. Nice. Thanks to Bits reader Patrick J. for the heads-up on this. You can read the company's official press release here at Market Wire.

Around The Bits today, we've got a pair of new DVD reviews for you to check out from yours truly: Rhino's Genesis: The Video Show and A&E's The Boston Red Sox: 2004 World Series - Collector's Edition. Both are now available. I'll be back with more new reviews tomorrow, including Star Trek: Nemesis and at least one other big forthcoming title, so be sure to check back then.

Meanwhile, here's a look at some hot new cover art... Disney's Toy Story 2: Special Edition (12/26), Dimension's Sin City: Uncut, Extended, Unrated (12/13), 20th Century Fox's The Shield: Season 4 (12/27), Disney's Valiant (12/13), and New Line's Wedding Crashers: Uncorked and Dumb and Dumber: Unrated (both 1/3/06)...

Toy Story 2: Special EditionSin City: Uncut, Extended & UnratedThe Shield: Season 4

ValiantWedding Crashers: UncorkedDumb and Dumber: Unrated

Stay tuned...

10/2/05

Well... here's a surprise weekend development. Paramount Home Entertainment announced on Sunday morning that it will support Blu-ray Disc in addition to its already announced support for HD-DVD. This makes Paramount the first major Hollywood studio to support BOTH of the rival high-definition disc formats expected to launch in early 2006. You can read more at these links at Video Business and Home Media Retailing. Blu-ray's support in the Sony PS3 was apparently a factor in this decision.

In addition to Paramount's announcement today, there seems to be a feeling in the industry that Warner and Universal may soon follow Paramount's lead in supporting both formats. The move almost certainly gives Blu-ray Disc an advantage in the format war, particularly if Warner and Universal do follow suit.

This is just getting uglier and uglier, isn't it? What's been going on these last few weeks is classic PR brinksmanship by both camps, each trying to intimidate the other into blinking.

You know, I really hope that retailers just come out and say, "We aren't carrying either of these formats until you guys get your crap together."

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

9/29/05

We've got some interesting things for you to check out this afternoon, so let's get to it.

First up, we're pleased as punch to present the debut of Jahnke's Electric Theatre here at The Digital Bits. For about a year now, two or three times a month, Adam's been e-mailing some of us around here this little newsletter that includes his thoughts on the latest movies he's seen in theatres. We've really been getting a big kick out of Jahnke's cinematic musings... and it finally occurred to us: Why not share them with all of YOU as well? So we've added Jahnke's Electric Theatre as a new regular feature here at The Bits, in addition to Adam's existing (and wildly popular) Bottom Shelf column. Adam's three most recent installments are now available for your reading pleasure. We'll add new ones every few days until the entire sordid history of his Electric Theatre is permanently archived here at the site. There are seventeen back issues in all, each containing an average of five or six films reviews. And we'll post new installments as Adam sends 'em out into the ether. We hope you enjoy it ('cause we sure do)!

Some DVD announcement news today: Disney will release its animated Valiant on 12/13.

Universal has announced the DVD release of SciFi's Battlestar Galactica: Season 2.0 on 12/20. The 3-disc set (SRP $49.98) will include the just aired first half of the show's second season - 10 episodes in all, plus extras. As with the first season, the episodes will be presented in anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. We expect the bonus material to include all of Ron Moore's podcast commentaries, deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes featurettes and an extended version of the mid-season finale, Pegasus (that according to Ron himself). FYI, the latter half of the second season debuts on SciFi in January.

Universal has also announced the release of a fascinating DVD title... King Kong: Peter Jackson's Production Diaries. The 2-disc limited edition set is due to street on 12/13 (SRP $39.98) and will include 54 production diaries (in anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio), an 80-page scrapbook, 4 exclusive art prints, "collectible packaging" and more. It's a sort of pre-release, pre-DVD release I guess. We believe the dairies are the same ones some of you have been enjoying on the Kong is King website.

Around the Net today, Ain't It Cool News has posted screen shots of some of those deleted scenes we talked about yesterday from the Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith DVD (due 11/1). They're definitely worth a look.

Our friends over at The Home Theater Forum have posted their coverage of this year's CEDIA convention, which includes streaming video of a special conference session entitled Direct from Hollywood: The Prospects for Next-Generation Media. For all those of you interested in HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc, it's well worth viewing.

Also today, iFMagazine.com has just posted a good interview with Ghost Lake director Jay Woelfel on the process of making an independent horror film in HD. You can read our review of the DVD release here.

We'll be back with more tomorrow, including (just maybe) a new DVD review or two from yours truly.

Stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 9/28/05 - 1 PM PDT)

We've gotten word from 20th Century Fox and Lucasfilm that they're going to be releasing the Star Wars Trilogy: Limited Edition on DVD on 12/6, in separate widescreen and full frame versions (SRP $49.98 each). This will be a repackaging of the previous movie DVDs, simply without the 4th bonus disc. We've confirmed that these will be the "special edition" versions of the films. Here's a look at the cover art for each set...

Star Wars Trilogy: Limited Edition (widescreen)Star Wars Trilogy: Limited Edition (full frame)

Also this afternoon, the official Star Wars website has FINALLY posted more details on the extras that you'll find on the Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith DVD (due 11/1). The 2-disc set will include a newly recorded audio commentary (featuring Lucas and key members of the movie's crew), the Within a Minute feature-length documentary (chronicling the years-long effort to create a single 49-second sequence of the film, from pre-production to final footage), several deleted scenes finished with complete visual effects and audio mixing (including Anakin and Obi-Wan infiltrating Grievous's battle cruiser, multiple scenes of the formation of the Rebel Alliance with Padme, Bail Organa and Mon Mothma, Grievous killing Shaak Ti and Yoda's arrival on Dagobah), The Chosen One featurette (focusing on Anakin Skywalker's transformation into Darth Vader), the It's All for Real featurette (on the stunt work involved in creating the climactic lightsaber duel between Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi), the 15-part web documentary on the making of the film, theatrical trailers, TV spots, Easter eggs and more.

We'll be getting our first look at this new 2-disc set very soon, so be sure to watch for our complete coverage of the release.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 9/28/05 - NOON PDT)

We've got another follow-up story for you on Microsoft and Intel's announcement yesterday of support for HD DVD, this one from business news service Bloomberg. Of note in the piece is the finally open admission by Sony president Ryoji Chubachi of something that we've suspected for a while now - specifically, that his company isn't interested in format unification. Here's his statement to reporters yesterday in Tokyo: "We at Sony don't believe that a unified standard is possible. We will continue to push and persuade HD DVD supporters that Blu-ray is better. Ultimately the winner will be decided by the consumer." So... format war, here we come.

Microsoft and Intel's support is no surprise, as Microsoft in particular has been working with the HD DVD camp on their spec for a long time now. They were co-developers of the iHD interactivity layer, based on XML, which only HD DVD chose to implement (Blu-ray Disc instead went with a Java-based scheme called BDJ). Tom's Hardware Guide has a good interview today with Jordi Ribas, Microsoft's director of technology strategy for Windows Digital Media (and also one of Microsoft's lead representatives on the DVD Forum Steering Committee) about exactly why the company believes HD DVD is the better option. More to the point, Ribas talks about exactly why Blu-ray Disc failed Microsoft and Intel's key tests. It's well worth a read, so do check it out.

One of the interesting reasons is that, just yesterday, "two of the world's leading China-based DVD player production facilities announced their support for HD DVD over Blu-ray," reportedly citing the relative openness of the DVD Forum compared to the Blu-ray Disc Association. This gives HD DVD advantage in the cost of manufacturing hardware (some 75% of the DVD players sold in the U.S. are made in China). Even more surprising however, is Blu-ray Disc's supposed disc capacity advantage. The HD DVD camp is close to demonstrating, in actual production situations, the manufacture of 30 GB discs (see news story). Blu-ray has yet to be able to get their 50 GB discs out of the lab (the best they've reportedly replicated under actual production conditions is 25 GB). The gist of all of these things means that HD DVD technology is actually more proven and tested than Blu-ray Disc, and in many ways closer to market. We'll have more on all this in the next few days.

Also this morning, we've got word on Get Smart and a possible Superman II: Director's Cut in The Rumor Mill.

Finally, we want to thank all those of you who were involved in our Digital Bits Art Auction on eBay - all of the artists who donated items to the auction, and everyone who placed bids. We raised more than $1400 for charities that benefit the hurricane relief effort, so thanks very much to all of you! And congratulations to all the winners.

Back later with more, so stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 9/27/05 - 1:30 PM PDT)

Well... the big news today is that the HD-DVD format has gotten a bit of a much needed boost: Microsoft and Intel have officially endorsed the format. That's not too much of a surprise, but it does give the HD-DVD folks a little something to crow about, given all the recent Blu-ray Disc news. You can read more here at CNN Money.

Let's catch up on some DVD release news shall we?

Universal has finally rescheduled their delayed The Return of the Pink Panther for release on 1/10/06.

Sadly, there's no word yet on Sony's delayed Pink Panther animated collection. Meanwhile, Sony HAS set the following for release on 12/6: Ladies in Lavender, Green Acres: The Complete Third Season (4 discs), The Magnificent Seven: The Complete First Season (2 discs), A Fine Mess, Arizona, Belle of the Yukon, Kid Galahad, Kid Millions, Konga, Land Raiders, the Matt Helm Lounge box set (4 discs, including Silencers, Wrecking Crew, Ambushers and Murderer's Row), Ride Beyond Vengeance and The Shadow Riders. Also coming on 12/6 are: All the King's Men (repackaged), a Boyz 'N The Hood/Baby Boy/Poetic Justice box set, a 12-disc Cirque du Solei: The Anniversary Collection box set, Fun with Dick and Jane (repackaged) and the Pam Grier Collection box set (including Foxy Brown, Coffy, Sheba, Baby and a new bonus disc).

New Line has announced a Dumb and Dumber: Unrated Edition for release on 1/3/06. The studio will also release a number of new UMD titles on 1/3 as well, including Wedding Crashers, Dumb and Dumber: Unrated, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, Rush Hour, Rush Hour 2, Friday and Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.

Meanwhile, Warner will release the BBC's Walking with Monsters: Before the Dinosaurs on 1/17/06. We've their previously announced DVD release of The Last Days of Pompeii, which had been set for release on 11/22, WILL be happening as expected. There was some concern that it might have been delayed, but we've confirmed with the studio that it's still on.

And in light of Matt's U2: Vertigo Live announcement news (it's due on 11/15 - read more at our MusicTAP site), I wanted to mention a trio of additional music titles that are now available or are on the way. First, you can now finally order A&M's The Police: Synchronicity Concert on Amazon (the title is due to street on 10/4). Another favorite of mine, Peter Gabriel, is the subject of two more DVDs. The documentary Peter Gabriel: The Growing Up on Tour - A Family Portrait is available now. And streeting on 11/15 is the 2-disc Peter Gabriel: Still Growing Up - Live & Unwrapped concert DVD.

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

(EARLY UPDATE - 9/27/05 - 12:01 AM PDT)

Okay... FINALLY. I'm starting to get caught up again. We've got a MESS of new DVD reviews for you to check out today.

But first, we want to remind you that our Digital Bits Art Auction for charity on eBay ends today. Most of the items close this later this morning, and the last two close this afternoon. Remember, it's for a good cause. All of the proceeds from the sale of these items benefit the American Red Cross and other charities assisting in the hurricane recovery efforts in the Gulf. This is your last chance to bid, so please bid generously!

I'm afraid we have some sad news to report this morning, that really hits home with us here at The Bits. Don Adams has passed away here in L.A., at the age of 82. As most of you know, Don was best known as the infamous Agent 86... Maxwell Smart on TV's Get Smart. He was also the voice of the title characters in the animated Inspector Gadget and Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales. I'm not even going to say it, because you KNOW we'll miss him something awful. Sure would be nice if whichever studio it is that owns Get Smart and The Nude Bomb feature film would get around to releasing them on DVD, wouldn't it? Hhmm...

Now then... as I mentioned, we've got a whole bunch of DVD reviews for you to check out today. Our own Adam Jahnke has done the impossible, and sat through a whopping twenty-three recent and classic horror flicks on your behalf, and he's lived to tell the tale. Or more precisely, he's lived to tell you what he thinks of them. So here's his latest edition of The Bottom Shelf, featuring reviews of Universal's White Noise, 20th Century Fox's Hide and Seek, Sony's Boogeyman: Special Edition, Lions Gate's Saw, Heretic Films' Cold Blood and Red Cockroaches, New Line's The Mangler, The Guyver and The Guyver 2: Dark Hero, Tartan Asia Extreme's Tetsuo: The Iron Man and Wishing Stairs, and Anchor Bay's Fright Pack #1: The Devil Made Me Do It and Fright Pack #2: Campy Classics, containing The Antichrist, Fear No Evil, Hell Night, The Church, To the Devil... a Daughter, Curse of the Devil, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, Return of the Killer Tomatoes, Transylvania 6-5000, Return to Horror High, Sleepaway Camp and Vamp.

Around the site today (technically yesterday), we've kicked off ELEVEN new Contests, giving each of you the chance to win copies of Warner's Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants and Gilmore Girls: The Complete Fourth Season, five Warner TV Favorites including Chico and the Man, F-Troop, The Dukes of Hazzard, Maverick and Cheyenne, Geneon's Chick Corea: Akoustic Band and Joe Zawinul and Weather Update, a pair of Spanish Plaza Sesamo titles from Ventura along with the Billy Jack: 35th Anniversary Ultimate Collection, Tartan's The Coast Guard and Face, Universal's Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Season One, Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection box set, The Interpreter, My Summer of Love and Law & Order SVU: The Second Year, Anchor Bay's Man with the Screaming Brain, Bandai's Cowboy Bebop: Remix 1, Rhino's The Right Spectacle: The Very Best of Elvis Costello - The Videos and finally five copies of Anchor Bay's Evil Dead 2: The Book of the Dead 2 signed by special effects designer Tom Sullivan! These contests will run for TWO WEEKS, until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, October 9th. Click on the links to get started and good luck!

We'll be back later this morning to catch you up on the latest DVD release news, so stay tuned...

9/26/05

Hey guys. Sorry today's update is late. I've just gotten slammed by about 10 things all at once in the last 24 hours, and I'm struggling to catch up. Today's post should be up in a few hours, so thanks for your patience.

In the meantime, one thing that IS at least going smoothly today... our charity art auction on eBay. There's only one day left, so please do get your bids in. Take home a nice piece of art, and do a little good for those in need at the same time.

Back later. Stay tuned.

9/23/05

Well... we've reached the end of yet another week. My, how they do fly by.

We've got a bit of news and some reviews for you here at the Bits today. Let's start with that news.

New Line has officially announced the DVD release of Wedding Crashers for 1/3/06. There will be two versions... an R-rated theatrical edition and a 9-minute longer Uncorked edition (SRP $28.98 each). Each will include anamorphic widescreen video (the Uncorked edition will also be available separately in full frame). Among the extras to expect are audio commentary with director David Dobkin, another commentary with stars Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn, deleted scenes, 2 featurettes (A Crash Course in Wedding Crashing and Event Planning), the Wedding Crashing interactive game, an "interactive soundtrack promo", The Sights' Circus music video and the film's teaser and theatrical trailers. The Uncorked edition will add the 99 Red Balloons scene and "test audience reaction to specific scenes."

By the way, New Line will release Wedding Crashers on UMD format the same day (SRP also $28.89). Are people REALLY paying the same prices for UMD releases with no extras as they would for a fully-loaded DVD of the same film? Damn. Anyway, our UMD Release List has been updated accordingly.

Now then... we've got a new addition to The Bits' staff today! Greg Brobeck checks in with his first reviews here at the site, including Universal's Adam-12: Season One and Emergency!: Season One, and Paramount's Fraiser: The Complete Sixth Season and Cheers: The Complete Sixth Season. Be sure to drop Greg an e-mail and give him the Bits reader howdy-do. Welcome aboard, Greg!

While we're talking DVD reviews, it's time to set the ol' Wayback machine for 2004, because we've got Rob Hale's take on Universal's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind too. It's a nifty little flick if ever there was one, and it's well worth a spin on disc.

Don't forget to check out our Digital Bits Art Auction on eBay, 100% of the profits from which will be donated to charities involved in the Hurricane Katrina relief effort, including the American Red Cross. We've got 12 great items up for auction now, including original pieces of artwork from some of our many Artists of the Month and more. The auction runs until Tuesday, so be sure to get your bids in soon if you're interested (and remembering the cause, please bid generously)!

Look for more new DVD reviews on Monday from Adam Jahnke. You can also look forward to another new Classic Coming Attractions column from Barrie next week, and much more. I'll also tell you all about the HD-DVD goings-on from that Digital Hollywood conference I attended earlier this week.

So with that, have a great weekend and we'll see you Monday! And you kids down in the Gulf Coast, try to keep your heads down and your feet dry, okay? Stay safe...

9/22/05

We've got a pair of new DVD reviews for you this afternoon. Our own Barrie Maxwell has checked in with a new Classic Coming Attractions column, featuring reviews of the BBC's As Time Goes By: Complete Series 8 & 9 and the hefty BBC History of World War II box set. Both are now available on disc, distributed by Warner here in the States.

In other news today, we've got some new details on a few previously-announced upcoming DVD releases. First up, we've learned that Paramount's Four Brothers (due on 12/20) will include audio commentary by director John Singleton, 9 deletes scenes, 5 behind-the-scenes featurettes and the film's theatrical trailer.

Paramount's remake of The Bad News Bears (due 12/13) will include audio commentary by director Richard Linklater and writers Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, 6 deleted scenes, 3 outtakes, 4 behind-the-scenes featurettes, the film's theatrical trailer and "video baseball cards."

Also, we seem to have missed this one, but 20th Century Fox has announced a 40-disc Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Chosen One collector's set (due 11/15 - SRP $199.98). The box will include all seven seasons of the series, along with an exclusive bonus disc that contains an introduction by Joss Whedon and 7 all-new featurettes (Back to the Hellmouth: A Conversation with Creators and Cast, Breaking Barriers: It's Not a Chick Fight Thing, Love Bites: Relationships in the Buffyverse, Evil Fiends, Buffy: An Unlikely Role Model and Buffy Cast and Crew: Favorite Episodes).

Also, do we have any Bruce Campbell fans in the house? Yeah... I KNOW we do. You'll all be pleased to learn that Campbell is going to be doing a series of West Coast signing events next week to promote the audio CD release of his Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way, due on 9/27 from Rykodisc (a hardcover book version is already available). Here's where you can find him:

Tuesday, September 27th - 6:00pm
Tower Records - 8801 Sunset Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA 90069

Wednesday, September 28th - 6:00pm
Tower Records - 2568 Jones Street
San Francisco, CA 94133

Thursday, September 29th - 6:00pm
Scarecrow Video - 5030 Roosevelt Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105

Friday, September 30th - 6:00pm
Music Millennium - 801 NW 23rd Avenue
Portland, OR 97210

No doubt you'll be able to get him to sign copies of Anchor Bay's The Evil Dead 2: Book of the Dead - Limited Edition as well, which is also set to street on 9/27. If you're in the area and you can make it to any of these events, don't miss it!

Here's a look at more new cover artwork: Paramount's Four Brothers, The Bad News Bears (2005) and MTV's Jackass: The Box Set (12/6), along with Warner's just announced March of the Penguins (11/29) and Fox's Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Chosen Collection complete series box set (11/15). And this one isn't new, but we haven't posted it here in the daily column yet - Universal's The Frighteners: Peter Jackson's Director's Cut (11/19)...

Four BrothersThe Bad News Bears (2005)MTV's Jackass: The Box Set

March of the PenguinsBuffy the Vampire Slayer: The Chosen CollectionThe Frighteners: Peter Jackson's Director's Cut

Back tomorrow with still more DVD reviews, including new TV titles from a recent addition to The Bits staff... Greg Brobeck. Stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 9/21/05 - 6 PM PDT)

We've just gotten official word from Warner Home Video that they'll be releasing the hit documentary March of the Penguins on DVD on 11/29. Separate anamorphic widescreen and full frame versions will be available (SRP $28.98 each). Extras will include 2 behind-the-scenes featurettes (Crittercam: Emperor Penguins and Of Mice and Penguins), the classic Looney Tunes animated short 8 Ball Bunny and a preview of Warner's feature-length animated Happy Feet (coming to theaters in 2006).

Now then--

Holey moley... was that a pig that just flew past my office window?!

It can only mean one thing. Yes... our own Todd Doogan has finally uncloaked here at The Bits today with a brand new Doogan's Views column. In this rarified edition, Todd waxes philosophic in reviews of a pair of great anime releases on disc from the fine folks at Bandai Entertainment, including the complete Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (all seven volumes - both the Standard and Special Editions) and the spiffy new Cowboy Bebop: Remix 1 DVD.

How do ya like them apples?

We've got more new DVD reviews coming tomorrow, so stay tuned!

(EARLY UPDATE - 9/21/05 - 1 AM PDT)

Morning, Bits-ers. Got your coffee in hand and your perky morning faces on? Good, 'cause we've got some new DVD announcements to report today.

First up, we've have an update on the Frank Miller's Sin City: Recut & Extended Edition, due from Dimension on 12/13. The extended edition of the film will include expanded versions of each of the film's four individual segments (Customer Is Always Right, The Hard Good-bye, Big Fat Kill and That Yellow Bastard) split out into short films on their own, each with their own title cards. You'll be able to watch them each separately, or in any order you like.

Now then... Sony has announced a number of new titles for release on 11/29, including a Legends of the Fall: Deluxe Edition, the A River Runs Through It: Deluxe Edition, Death to the Supermodels, Lila Says and Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo. Also coming on 11/29 from the studio are Joe Dirt, White Chicks and Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo on UMD format for the Sony PSP. Our UMD Movie Release List has been updated accordingly.

Universal has revealed a 2-pack of King Kong vs. Godzilla and King Kong Escapes for release on 11/29 as well (SRP $19.98). Both titles will be in anamorphic widescreen.

By the way, while we still have no official word on the extras on Universal's The Frightners: Peter Jackson's Director's Cut (also 11/29), we do know that the disc will include more than four hours worth of bonus material produced by Jackson himself.

Meanwhile, Miramax has finally announced the revised street date for Chicago: The Razzle-Dazzle Edition. You can now look for the 2-disc set on 12/20.

In Disney news, the studio has officially revealed the animated Pooh's Grand Adventure: The Search For Christopher Robin, which will street on 3/14. Meanwhile, the straight-to-video sequel Kronk's New Groove is due on 12/13. For animated TV fans, Chip 'n' Dale Rescue Rangers: Volume One and Duck Tales: Volume One will street as twin 3-disc sets on 11/8 (SRP $39.99 each).

Buena Vista will release an Oprah Winfrey Presents title, Their Eyes Were Watching God, on 11/29.

And in a bit of Warner news, the studio appears to have indefinitely delayed its release of The Last Days of Pompeii, which had been expected on 11/22. It's no longer in Warner's system, no retailers have it listed for sale and we have no further word at this time.

Around the Net today, the official Roger Moore website has indicated that Sir Roger has just begun recording new audio commentary tracks for the seven Bond films in which he starred. His first recording session, for A View to a Kill, was completed this last weekend. Word is, these tracks will be included on new Ultimate Editions of the Bond films set to be released by Sony in 2006 (and no doubt timed to coincide with the theatrical debut of Casino Royale). You can bet they'll likely be issued on Blu-ray Disc format in addition to standard DVD.

Bringing it back here to The Bits, we've updated all of the DVD sales and rental data we track this morning (above), including the CEA DVD Player Sales numbers for the complete month of August (note that the numbers for the first two weeks of August have been revised). All charts have been updated accordingly.

Anyone interested in a little more cover art? Here's a look at some TV DVD titles - Fox's 24: Season Four, Universal's The Rockford Files: Season One and Warner's The West Wing: The Complete Fifth Season (all three are due on 12/6)...

24: Season FourThe Rockford Files: Season OneThe West Wing: The Complete Fifth Season

In case you missed it yesterday, just a reminder that we've kicked off a Digital Bits Art Auction on eBay, 100% of the profits from which will be donated to charities involved in the Hurricane Katrina relief effort, including the American Red Cross. Several of our Artists of the Month have generously donated their own works and other items for the auction. It's a good opportunity to take home a great piece of artwork, and to lend a helping hand to those who desperately need it. Given that there's another hurricane bearing down on the Gulf Coast, these relief groups are going to need all the help they can get. So please bid, and bid generously (and thanks in advance for doing so)!

We'll be back later this morning with a bunch of those new DVD reviews, so stay tuned...

9/20/05

We've got some exciting things for you here at The Bits today!

First of all, we'd like to announce the start of The Digital Bits Art Auction on eBay. Given all the destruction in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, and the huge number of lives that have been disrupted, we wanted to do everything we can to help the relief efforts. After a lot of thought, Sarah had a pretty wonderful idea. She contacted our past (and current) Artists of the Month to see if they might be willing to donate a piece of their work that we could auction off to raise money. Several of them were kind enough to provide pieces of artwork and other items. This auction will run for seven days (it will close on Tuesday, September 27th). 100% of the profits will be donated to charities involved in the relief effort, including the American Red Cross. So here's a chance to take home a great piece of artwork, and to lend a helping hand to those who desperately need it. Please check out the auction, bid of you can... and bid generously!

We'd also like to announce another new regular feature here at The Digital Bits today. Our own Russell Hammond, whom you may already know from his heroic work on our Upcoming DVD Cover Art section, has begun an effort to compile a list of retailer DVD Exclusives & Bonus Discs. Love them or hate them, there are a LOT of exclusive bonus items out there from such retailers as Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Target and others. Most are only available for a very limited time. Some of the bonus discs include nifty extra features not available anywhere else, so here's a great way to keep track of them all. We think you'll find the list useful. Be sure to e-mail Russell to tell him know what you think of the section, and also to let him know about other exclusives not yet included in the list. He'll be updating the section regularly. Enjoy!

Speaking of exclusives, we've just gotten word that Wal-Mart is going to be offering an exclusive with Lucasfilm & Fox's forthcoming Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith DVD (due on 11/1). If you buy the disc at Wal-Mart stores, you'll get a bonus disc called The Story of Star Wars. It includes the hour-long R2-D2 & C-3PO's Chronicles of Luke and Anakin Skywalker documentary. You can visit this page at Wal-Mart for more. Here's a look at the artwork:

Episode III - Wal-Mart exclusive bonus DVD

Okay... around the site, we've kicked off FIVE new Contests today, giving each of you the chance to take home copies of Warner's The Outsiders: The Complete Novel and the BBC's Peep Show: The Original UK Series, along with Universal's Mallrats: 10th Anniversary Extended Edition and Battlestar Galactica: Season One, Paramount's Star Trek: Enterprise - The Complete Third Season and five great anime titles from Geneon, including Tokyo Underground Vol. 4, Fighting Spirit Vol. 7, Stellvia Vol. 6, Kyo Kara Moah Vol. 3 and Petite Cossette Vol. 1! The contests will run for a week, until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, September 25th. Click on the links to get started and good luck!

Now then... we'll be posting more of those DVD reviews tonight (for tomorrow). Also, I learned a lot of interesting things about HD DVD at the Digital Hollywood conference yesterday, so I'll be talking more about that in the next couple days as well.

Stay tuned...


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