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-Newsletter est. 4/15/97-
-Website est. 12/15/97-






page updated: 2/27/06



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 2/16/06 - 1/31/06)


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2/16/06

We're kicking things off today early with word from Variety and Video Business that Sony, Paramount and Warner are all throttling back on UMD movie releases for Sony's portable PSP game system due to software sales falling below expectations. There's apparently some hope, however, that a new PSP upgrade that Sony Electronics is preparing will boost sales again. The device, expected to be available soon, is an adaptor that will allow the PSP to connect to a standard TV set for UMD movie playback on larger screens. We've had a feeling here at The Bits that this format was going to cool off sooner rather than later. In the meantime, you can expect most studios to focus on comedy UMD titles, which are apparently among the biggest sellers on the format.

Speaking of UMD releases, Fox has set X-Men, X2: X-Men United, Family Guy: The Freakin' Sweet Collection and Grandma's Boy for 5/9, with Donnie Darko following on 5/23. Apparently they didn't get the UMD slowdown memo over there yet.

On the good old standard DVD front today, we have word that Warner has announced the release of Tristam Shandy: A Cock & Bull Story for 5/16 (SRP $27.95). Look for the disc to include audio commentary by Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, deleted and extended scenes, behind-the-scenes featurettes, an interview with Coogan and theatrical trailers.

The studio has also announced The Dirty Dozen: Special Edition for 5/23 (SRP $26.99). The 2-disc set will include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio and extras TBA. We'll post more details when we have them.

Not to be outdone on the World War II movie front, 20th Century Fox has set new 2-disc special editions of Tora! Tora! Tora!, Patton and The Longest Day for release on 5/23 as well (SRP $19.98 each). Each will feature anamorphic widescreen video. Patton will include an introduction and audio commentary by filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, a photo gallery with audio essay, The Making of Patton documentary, the History Through the Lens: Patton: A Rebel Revisited and Patton's Ghost Corps featurettes, a production stills gallery (accompanied by Jerry Goldsmith's complete musical score) and the film's original theatrical trailer. Tora! Tora! Tora! will include commentary by director Richard Fleischer and Japanese film historian Stewart Galbraith, the Day of Infamy documentary, 3 behind-the-scenes featurettes, 10 original Movietone News historical shorts and the film's theatrical trailer. Finally, The Longest Day will include historical audio commentary, 5 featurettes, a stills gallery and the film's theatrical trailer.

Be sure to stop by The Rumor Mill this morning for an update on Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet, as well as Universal's The Producers.

And don't forget to check out Barrie's latest Classic Coming Attractions column, featuring 15 new classic DVD reviews, which we posted last night!

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 2/15/05 - 5 PM PST)

Just a quick late update... we've just posted Barrie Maxwell's latest Classic Coming Attractions column today, featuring reviews of 15 new, recent and forthcoming classic film DVD releases, including Mackinac Media's Industrial Strength Keaton and Stooges: The Men Behind the Mayhem, Grapevine Video's The Girl from Calgary/Girl O' My Dreams, Warner's The Champ, Captains Courageous and Kitty Foyle, Sony's The Cary Grant Box Set (including The Awful Truth, Holiday, Only Angels Have Wings, His Girl Friday and The Talk of the Town), Fox's Week-End in Havana and Island in the Sun, Universal's re-issues of Shadow of a Doubt, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Marnie, Torn Curtain and Family Plot, and VCI's Beyond All Limits. Barrie also updates the latest classic release announcements and reviews Warner's recently-announced classic DVD plans for 2006. Don't miss it!

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 2/15/05 - 12:45 PM PST)

We've got some interesting TV show release updates for you today. First, however, you'll definitely want to check The Rumor Mill for the latest street date information on Syriana, Casanova, Shopgirl, Brokeback Mountain and more.

Also today, there's some major HD format news. Ars Technica is reporting that the final spec for the Advanced Access Content System (AACS - due to be used on both HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc) has been delayed once more. The delay is expected to last at least a month, meaning that the March launch of HD-DVD will likely now have to be pushed back until April or May (about the same time that Blu-ray was expected to hit store shelves). This HD-DVD delays occurs despite the fact that the final haggling with regard to the AACS spec is strictly related to a dynamic Blu-ray encryption protocol called BD+, which would allow the BD Group to change the format's encryption scheme at any point down the line, if an earlier scheme should be cracked (thus preventing the crack from working on all BD format software). HD-DVD has to wait for the AACS spec to be finalized too, so you know the folks at Toshiba have to be pulling their hair out over this. Apparently, the various members of the AACS licensing authority couldn't agree on the final spec last week, thus causing the delay. Could the disagreement simply be a delaying tactic by the Blu-ray camp to wipe-out HD-DVD's anticipated first-to-market edge? Well... I certainly wouldn't put it past them. All's fair in love and format war, right? We'll keep our eye on this, rest assured.

Now then... that TV news. HBO will release Deadwood: The Complete Second Season on 5/23 (SRP $99.98). The 6-disc set will include 12 episodes in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, several audio commentaries with cast and crew members, and a number of new featurettes.

Meanwhile, 20th Century Fox has announced a 5-disc The Big Valley: Season One set for release on 5/16 (SRP $39.98).

Universal has set both Coach: The First Season and The Rockford Files: Season Two for release on 6/13. Coach will be a 2-disc set (SRP $34.98) and will come with or without limited edition packaging. The Rockford Files will be a 3-disc set (SRP $39.98). No word yet on extras for either title if any.

Also today, Anchor Bay Entertainment's Tripping the Rift: The Complete Second Season (due on 4/4, SRP $29.98) will be a 2-disc set including 13 episodes, the Tripping the Rift Season 2: Where No Chode Has Gone Before featurette, outtakes and bloopers, and a Eureka promo.

And there's a bit of feature film DVD news today as well. Fox has set The Family Stone for release on 5/2 (SRP $29.98), while a Grandma's Boy: Unrated Edition will follow on 5/9 (SRP $27.98). The Family Stone will be available in separate anamorphic widescreen and full frame editions, with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include audio commentary with stars Sarah Jessica Parker and Dermot Mulroney, a second commentary with director director Thomas Bezucha and members of the production crew, 6 deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes featurettes, outtakes and much more. Grandma's Boy will include both the theatrical version of the film and a new unrated version on the same disc via seamless branching, along with audio commentary, deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes featurettes, a gag reel and more.

Here's more new cover art... Sony's Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (4/25), Fox's The Laurel and Hardy Collection: Volume One (4/11) and Anchor Bay's Tripping the Rift: The Complete Second Season...

Final Fantasy VII: Advent ChildrenThe Laurel and Hardy Collection: Volume OneTripping the Rift: The Complete Second Season

By the way, you can find more interesting TV DVD release news and rumors today from our friends Gord and David over at TVShowsonDVD.com.

We'll be back later this afternoon with a new Classic Coming Attractions column from our own Barrie Maxwell. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 2/14/06 - 2:15 PM PST)

We've just posted the latest edition of Jahnke's Electric Theatre here at The Bits, featuring Adam's thoughts on some of the films now playing at your local cineplex, as well as on DVD.

Amazon.com is indicating that 20th Century Fox will release Ridley Scott's 191-minute Kingdom of Heaven: Director's Cut on DVD on 5/23 (as a 4-disc set). The studio has yet to release official details on this, but we expect confirmation very soon.

Also this afternoon, retail sources are telling us to expect New Line to release Terrence Malick's The New World on DVD on 5/30. We've confirmed this with sources, but be aware that the studio still has yet to make its official announcement.

We've got word today on a possible King Kong: Extended Edition (as in the Peter Jackson version). You'll find that in The Rumor Mill today.

Around the site today, we've kicked off FOUR new Contests today, giving you the chance to take home copies of Warner's Eros and North Country, Anchor Bay's 3rd Rock from the Sun: Season Three, White Star's Enzo Ferrari and a February Fun Giveaway including a Sony DVD player, an Apple iPod Nano and six great DVDs! All of these contests will run until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, February 26th. Click on the links to get started and good luck!

Finally this afternoon, we want to take a moment to acknowledge the passing of Jaws author Peter Benchley on Saturday. He was 65.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 2/14/06 - 1:30 AM PST)

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

Boy... you wonder why it's taking us so long to get the rest of our CES stuff up? Every time we turn around there's some major new announcement or news story to chase down! Not surprisingly, today is no exception.

We've been expecting it for weeks now, but Universal has finally (officially) announced the DVD release of Peter Jackson's King Kong for 3/28. Three versions will be available - single-disc full frame and anamorphic widescreen standard editions (SRP $29.98 each) and a 2-disc anamorphic widescreen Special Edition (SRP $30.98). Audio for each will be Dolby Digital 5.1. All of the versions will feature the same 188-minute cut seen in theaters. Specific details on the extras to be included have yet to be released, but you can reasonably expect audio commentary and lots of those behind-the-scenes production dairies we listed in The Rumor Mill the other day.

Not to be outdone today, 20th Century Fox has announced a few new titles as well. First of all, on 5/9, look for The Poseidon Adventure: Special Edition and The Towering Inferno: Special Edition. Each will be a new 2-disc set with the film in anamorphic widescreen video (SRP $19.98 apiece).

The Poseidon Adventure will include audio commentary (with Ronald Neame, Pamela Sue Martin, Stella Stevens and Carol Lynley), the Follow the Escape "interactive" featurette, 7 behind-the-scenes featurettes (including The Cast Looks Back, Falling Up with Ernie, The Heart of Disaster: Stirling Silliphant, The Heroes of the Poseidon, The Morning After Story, The R.M.S. Queen Mary and AMC Backstory: The Poseidon Adventure), 3 Ronald Neame featurettes (including Sinking Corridor, Generations of Fans and Turning Over the Ship), storyboard comparisons for 3 scenes, the original 1972 promotional featurette, the film's teaser and theatrical trailers, a trailer for The Towering Inferno, an interactive American Cinematographer article and galleries of marketing, publicity and behind-the-scenes images.

The Towering Inferno will include audio commentary with film historian F.X. Feeney, scene-specific commentary by special effects director Mike Venzina and stunt coordinator Branko Racki, 10 behind-the-scenes featurettes (including Inside the Tower: We Remember, Innovating Tower: The SPFX of an Inferno, The Art of Towering, Irwin Allen: The Great Producer, Directing the Inferno, Putting Out Fire, Running on Fire, Still the World's Tallest Building, The Heart of Disaster: Stirling Silliphant and AMC Backstory: The Towering Inferno), more than 19 deleted/extended scenes, theatrical trailers and galleries of marketing, publicity and behind-the-scenes images.

But wait... there's more from Fox. On 5/16, the studio will release Napoleon Dynamite: Like the Best Special Edition Ever! The 2-disc set (SRP $26.98) will include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, audio commentary (with director/co-writer Jared Hess, actor Jon Heder and producer Jeremy Coon), 4 deleted scenes (with optional commentary), additional never-before-seen deleted scenes and outtakes, a stills gallery, the Peluca short film (with optional commentary), the The Wedding of the Century! featurette, all of the MTV on-air promos, a featurette on the making of the promos, The Real Napoleon Dynamite all-new documentary, Napoleon Sightings clips, additional promo clips from ESPN and TRL, the SNL opening with Jon Heder, the MTV Movie Awards clips, Cartoon Network's Napoleon Bonomite, Teen Choice Awards clips and more. Whew!

Then a week later, on 5/23, Fox will release The Boondock Saints: Unrated Special Edition on both DVD and UMD formats. On the DVD, the film will be available in both full frame and anamorphic widescreen versions, each with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include audio commentary with writer/director Troy Duffy and actor Billy Connolly, deleted scenes, outtakes and trailers.

Finally, Sony has announced some more new DVD releases for 4/24, including new titles, new versions of catalog films and TV series releases as well. These will include Bachelor Party Vegas, The Detonator, Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer, Odyssey 5: The Complete Series, Casualties of War: Extended Cut, Crumb: Special Edition, Guys and Dolls: Deluxe Edition, The Replacement Killers: Extended Cut and The Patriot: Extended Cut.

Sony has also set a UMD version of Stripes for release on 4/24, along with DVD/UMD 2-packs of The Fifth Element, Snatch, Ghostbusters and Mad Max.

Okay... let's take a look at cover art for a few of the just-announced titles, shall we? Here's both versions of Universal's King Kong, along with Fox's Napoleon Dynamite: Like the Best Special Edition Ever!, The Boondock Saints: Unrated Special Edition, The Poseidon Adventure: Special Edition and The Towering Inferno: Special Edition...

King KongKing Kong: Special EditionNapoleon Dynamite: Like the Best Special Edition Ever!

The Boondock Saints: Unrated Special EditionThe Poseidon Adventure: Special EditionThe Towering Inferno: Special Edition

Stay tuned for more later this afternoon, after I manage to cram in a little sleep...

2/13/06

We've got some interesting stuff for you DVD-wise today, but first... a brief rant.

I've gotta tell you, I love watching the Winter Olympics. Maybe it's because I come from a cold weather climate myself, and maybe it's because the winter sports are just so extreme. Luge? That's a sport invented by the insane, for the insane. I'm addicted and it's all the better in high-def. I must say, however, that what NBC calls high-def leaves something to be desired. It's 1080i, sure. But talk about digital compression! If you want to know what extreme examples of compression artifacting look like, watch NBC's Winter Olympics coverage. You'll see it just about any time something large moves too fast, or when you get a ton of little somethings moving all at once. When everything's still, the image looks great. But when it gets busy... it's a blocky, UG-LY mess. NBC take note. Broadcasters are just WAY over-compressing their HD signals these days, and it's a real shame.

Bob Costas and Katie Couric are also a real shame, but that's a whole other topic. I'm just saying.

Anyway, let's get to that DVD news, shall we?

First up, we told you it was coming... and now 20th Century Fox has OFFICIALLY announced that they'll release Boston Legal: Season One on DVD on 5/23 (SRP $39.98). The 5-disc set will include all 17 first season episodes of the show in anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround audio. Extras will include audio commentary on the episode Death Be Not Proud, on-camera interviews with the cast and writers, and the Court Is Now in Session: How Boston Legal Came to Be featurette.

Other TV titles newly announced by Fox for release in May include King of the Hill: Season 6 (on 5/2), That 70's Show: Season 4 (5/9), Hill Street Blues: Season 2 (5/16) and M*A*S*H: Season 10 (5/23).

Here's another title we're pleased to say has finally been announced (we just mentioned how hard Sony was working to get it done a couple weeks ago - down near the bottom of our 1/31 post)... Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children has been slated for DVD release on 4/25 (SRP $26.96) as a 2-disc special edition. You'll get anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, deleted scenes, a story digest, a "making of" featurette, Venice Film Festival footage and a sneak peek at upcoming games in the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII videogame series. FYI, a UMD version for the PSP will be available on 4/25 as well.

Sony has also announced Fun with Dick and Jane for release on both DVD and UMD formats on 4/11 as expected. The DVD (SLP $28.95) will include both full frame and anamorphic widescreen on the same disc, along with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include audio commentary with director Dean Parisot and screenwriters Judd Apatow and Nicholas Stoller, a gag reel, deleted scenes and a video of funny moments and outtakes from the film's press junket. You'll be able to buy the UMD version separately for the same price, or bundled with the DVD version for $39.95.

Elsewhere around The Bits today, we've updated The Rumor Mill with information of potential interest to you Chronicles of Narnia fans, along with word on another upcoming title as well. Don't miss it.

Also this morning, Criterion has let it be known in their latest e-mail newsletter that they'll be releasing director Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused on DVD this summer.

Speaking of newsletters, our old pal Frank Ortiz e-mailed me over the weekend to say that Circuit City's already promoting Blu-ray Disc in their latest e-mail blasts. The retailer claims that Samsung's BD-P1000 will be the first Blu-ray player available to the public and that they'll have it in stock "in early spring" for $999. It's not yet available for pre-order, but you can click here to view the Blu-ray page at their website.

Around the Net this morning, Video Business is reporting that Best Buy and Amazon.com will be among the first retailers to carry HD-DVD hardware and software in March. The story also notes that shipments of software from Warner and Sony (both HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc when it's available) are going to be closely allocated to stores carrying hardware as well in order to ensure a strong presence for the formats at retail locations. The first HD-DVD titles are tentatively expected from Warner on 3/28, but no specifics have been given to distributors, retailers or the media as yet. We'll let you know when that changes.

In other news today, CNN has posted an interesting story on a new practice being used by Netflix called "throttling," which basically means that different customers get different quality of service. Frequent renters are penalized by having their disc shipments delayed and by being placed in the back of the waiting line for the hottest and newest titles. It's a move designed to protect profit margins, but it's sure to make some long-time customers upset.

Okay... are any of you interested in seeing more cool cover art today? Bits reader Aaron P. clued us in that Fox's art for Walk the Line is finally available (and that we haven't posted it yet), so here's a look at it. That 2-disc collector's edition cover is pretty badass. The title was originally due to street on 2/28, although we're hearing that there may now be a delay. We'll look into it and let you know.

Walk the LineWalk the Line: 2-Disc Collector's Edition

Finally this morning, it seems that DreamWorks has been soliciting advice about the cover artwork for Munich (TBA, but we expect it to be announced soon for release on 5/9 via Paramount). Bits reader Ed K. participated in an online survey last week, in which he was asked to select his favorite among the following five choices (keep in mind all of these are early mock-ups only)...

Munich #1Munich #2Munich #3

Munich #4Munich #5

I don't know about you guys, but I kinda like that first one (top row, left), although the third one over is on the right track too. Anyway, I expect we'll see the final design fairly soon, but this is at least an interesting look at the effort the Hollywood studios often go through when creating cover art for their DVD releases. Thanks again to Ed K. for sending these over.

Okay, that's enough to chew on with your coffee and danish. We'll be back later this afternoon (and this evening) with more, so stay tuned...

2/10/06

We've got still more new DVD announcements to report for you today.

20th Century Fox will release Johnny Knoxville's Special Olympics comedy The Ringer on 5/16 (SRP $29.98). The disc will include both full frame and anamorphic widescreen video (on opposite sides of the disc), with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, director's commentary, deleted scenes, a gag reel, trailers and a Special Olympics PSA.

Fox has also set Cheaper by the Dozen 2 for release on 5/23 (SRP also $29.98). This will also be a flipper disc with anamorphic widescreen on one side and full frame on the other. Audio will be Dolby Digital 5.1, and extras will include director's commentary, the FOX Movie Channel: Casting Session special, 3 behind-the-scenes featurettes and trailers.

Meanwhile, Buena Vista has announced a Con Air: Unrated Extended Cut, as well as an Enemy of the State: Unrated Extended Cut, both for release on 5/16 (SRP $19.99 each). Con Air will include anamorphic widescreen video and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, but no details as to the extras have yet been announced. Enemy of the State will also include anamorphic widescreen video and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, and extras will include deleted scenes, The Making of Enemy of the State documentary, an All Access: The Showdown Scene feature and the original theatrical trailer.

On the TV front, Buena Vista has announced the 3-disc Golden Girls: Season Five, along with the 3-disc Scrubs: Season Three, both due 5/9 (SRP $39.99 each).

Buena Vista has also finally (officially) announced the DVD release of Walt Disney Pictures and Walden Media's The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe for 4/4. The single-disc version (SRP $29.99) will be available in either full frame or anamorphic widescreen, and will include audio commentary with director Andrew Adamson, production designer Roger Ford and producer Mark Johnson, a second commentary with Adamson and the film's child stars (Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, William Moseley and Anna Popplewell), a text trivia track option, and bloopers. The 2-disc Special Collector's Edition version will include anamorphic widescreen video, and all of the special features from the single-disc version. Additional extras will include the Chronicle of a Director video diary, The Children's Magical Journey set tour, 8 different Cinematic Storytellers video diaries, 3 behind-the-scenes featurettes (including Anatomy of a Scene: The Melting River, C.S. Lewis: From One Man's Mind and the interactive Creating Creatures), Creatures of the World biographies, an interactive 3D Narnia map and the Legends in Time timeline. Audio for both editions will be available in a Dolby Digital 5.1 "Home Theater Mix" and DTS 5.1. Note that the studio is releasing a UMD version for the PSP on 4/4 as well (SRP $29.99) which will include bloopers.

Here's the preliminary cover art for Buena Vista's new unrated extended editions of Con Air and Enemy of the State, along with the final art for their unrated extended edition of Crimson Tide (also due on 5/16)...

Con Air: Unrated Extended EditionEnemy of the State: Unrated Extended EditionCrimson Tide: Unrated Extended Edition

Finally today, we now know when the United States is expected to make the final switch from analog to digital broadcasting... and it's just three years away. Signed into law by President Bush on Wednesday, the The Budget Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 includes a provision that sets 2/17/09 as the date when analog TV signals are planned to cease. So you know... plan accordingly. You'll need to buy Digital TVs by then, or a yet-to-be-designed converter box that will allow your regular analog TVs to keep working. You can read more here at Video Business.

Now then... we've got some great stuff all lined up for posting on Monday, including new features from Adam Jahnke and more (you might even see some of that CES coverage at long last).

So have a great weekend and we'll see you then!

2/9/06

We've got some interesting stuff for you today.

First up, hot on the heels of having released the 2.35:1 aspect ratio film Lord of War on DVD reformatted to 1.78:1, we're getting word now from retail sources (though we have yet to see the disc ourselves - it streets on 2/14) that Lionsgate's Saw II (a 1.85:1 film) has also been reformatted to 1.78:1 for DVD. Lionsgate informed us (click here and slide down a few paragraphs) that the Lord of War decision was made by the film's production company. There's no word yet on the reasons for the Saw II reformatting.

Also today, we've got word in The Rumor Mill on expected street dates for Syriana, Shopgirl and Casanova, along with some of the extras planned for Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Don't miss it.

On the UMD front, Warner has officially announced that they'll release True Romance and The Matrix Reloaded for the PSP on 6/6. Our UMD Movie Release List has been updated accordingly.

By the way, we mentioned yesterday that Paramount will be releasing Wings: The Complete First Season on 5/23. We should have said Wings: The Complete First and Second Seasons. Thanks to everyone who caught that error. ;-)

Interested in some more new cover art? Universal has yet to make their official announcement, but here's what the German art for the 2-disc Peter Jackson's King Kong: Limited Edition is going to look like. Here's also Sony's artwork for Memoirs of a Geisha (3/28) and Paramount's Wings: The Complete First and Second Seasons...

King Kong: Limited EditionMemoirs of a GeishaWings: The Complete First and Second Seasons

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 2/8/06 - 12:30 PM PST)

We've got some great news for you Planet of the Apes fans. We've learned that 20th Century Fox's new Apes DVD sets, including the Legacy and Ultimate collections and the single disc title as well, will include the longer, 92-minute "extended TV version" of Battle for the Planet of the Apes. The theatrical version (86 minutes) is all that's been available here in the States to this point, but the longer version has been available in Japan previously. Finally, on 3/28, you'll get it here too. Note that we have confirmed this directly with Fox Home Video, so it's the real deal, and it's good news indeed.

Also today, Sony has officially announced its pricing structure for Blu-ray Disc titles. Catalog BD titles will be released at a wholesale price of $17.95. New release BD titles will wholesale for $23.45. That should mean that the top prices for Sony titles on the format will top out at about $29 (for catalog) and $35 (for new releases). The first titles are expected from the studio early this summer (think May or June). In addition, the studio has suggested that it may bundle Blu-ray Disc titles with versions of the same film compatible with other formats. So you might be able to buy a combo pack that contains both Blu-ray and UMD versions of the film, or Blu-ray, DVD and UMD all in one pack. The studio has already announced DVD/UMD combo packs of several titles, as we reported a few days ago (click here and slide down a paragraph of two). Ultimately, the studio may offer you a way to... say... buy the Blu-ray Disc version physically, along with the option to download the film in other formats. You can read more here at Home Media Retailing. A similar story is available at Video Business as well.

FYI, the only word we have yet on HD-DVD format pricing comes from our Warner coverage last week, in which we learned that the studio's catalog HD-DVD releases would be priced at around $29.98. What that means is that while title pricing for BOTH of the new high-definition formats is going to be slightly higher than standard DVD, it will still be comparable to what DVD was priced at when the format first launched back in 1997.

By the way, you fans of The Muppet Show and Kill Bill are going to want to check our second Rumor Mill post today. 'Nuff said.

Finally, I'd like to encourage you all to take a moment to check out the work of our new Artist of the Month here at The Bits... Jarrod Eastman. He works in paints and canvas, and his stuff is just very cool and original. It's well worth your time to give it a look. Be sure to visit his page here at The Bits, and also his own website to see it all.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 2/8/06 - 12:01 AM PST)

We've got more interesting DVD news to report this morning.

First of all, you'll find details about the forthcoming DVD release of The Matador in The Rumor Mill, along with a bit of information about Terrence Malick's The New World... AND an interesting omission from that list of Kong DVD extras in yesterday's Rumor Mill post. Don't miss it.

Sony has announced a new Moonstruck: Deluxe Edition for release on 4/18 (SRP $19.94). The disc will offer anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, audio commentary with Cher, director Norman Jewison and screenwriter John Pat, the Moonstruck: At the Heart of an Italian Family documentary and 2 featurettes (The Music of Moonstruck and Pasta to Pastries: The Art of Fine Italian Food).

In April, Paramount is re-issuing Congo (on 4/18) and Mission: Impossible 2 (4/11) on disc. M:I-2 MAY be a new version, but it looks like Congo is simply the same disc as before with new packaging. We'll post more details as we have them. The studio is releasing a 2-pack of the new Mission: Impossible - Special Collector's Edition and Mission: Impossible 2 on 4/11 as well. And on the TV front, look for a 3-disc Sgt. Bilko: The Phil Silvers Show - 50th Anniversary Edition on 5/9, with Wings: The Complete First Season following on 5/23.

Meanwhile, Anchor Bay has announced that Masters of Horror: John Carpenter - Cigarette Burns and Masters of Horror: Stuart Gordon - Dreams in the Witch House will street on 3/28 (SRP $16.98 each). The Bay will deliver Tripping the Rift: Season Two on 4/4 (SRP $29.98). Also streeting on 4/4 will be The Long Good Friday (SRP $19.98) and the 1967 Hammer classic The Anniversary (SRP $14.98).

We've gotten word from one of our readers that Fox's The Abyss: Special Edition - Award Series (the one with the gold cover art) claims on the back of the packaging to be an anamorphic widescreen transfer, but is in fact the same non-anamorphic letterboxed widescreen transfer that's been available on DVD previously. Just FYI. Thanks to Bits reader Robert S. for that heads-up.

Finally, Moriarty over at AICN has turned in a brief interview with Superman director Richard Donner, in which he talks about his involvement (or lack thereof) in Warner's new "Donner" cut of Superman II. Donner seems to have given the cut his blessing at least (it's being cut by long-time associate Michael Thau), so here's hoping that he'll maybe do an audio commentary or something for the DVD release in November. For those of you wondering what the hell I'm talking about, be sure to check out our coverage of Warner's 2006 DVD release plans from last week. The part you want is near the bottom of that day's column (but you'll definitely want to read the whole thing).

We'll leave you this morning with a little more new cover art... Sony's Moonstruck: Deluxe Edition, Warner's The Lucy and Desi Collection (5/9) and Universal's The Ice Harvest (2/28)...

Moonstruck: Deluxe EditionThe Lucy and Desi CollectionThe Ice Harvest

Back later. Stay tuned...

2/7/06

Well, I'm sitting here in our Irvine, CA offices today... and through my window I can see (and worse, smell) the smoke from those wildfires that are burning in the Anaheim hills nearby (see CNN link). We're good - no danger here now and we're far enough away from the hills that there isn't likely to be - but damn that smell is unnerving. Sadly, a lot of homes ARE being evacuated right now, so our best to everyone that's been affected by this. Hopefully, the fires will be out soon.

On top of all that, our Internet connection has been dead all morning, so it's only just Noon here and we're already playing catch-up. D'oh!

Anyway, we've got a sneak peek at some of the extras you can expect on Universal's soon-to-be-announced DVD release of Peter Jackson's King Kong. You'll find that in The Rumor Mill today, so be sure to check it out.

Back later, so stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 2/6/06 - 11:30 AM PST)

Just a quick update for you... as we first reported in The Rumor Mill, Sony has officially announced the DVD release of Memoirs of a Geisha for 3/28 (SLP $28.96). The 2-disc set (available in separate anamorphic widescreen and full frame versions) will include audio commentary (with director Rob Marshall and choreographer John DeLuca), a second production audio commentary (with costume designer Colleen Atwood, production designer John Myhre and editor Pietro Scalia) and 11 behind-the-scenes featurettes (including Sayuri's Other Journey: From the Novel to the Screen, The Road to Japan, Geisha Bootcamp, Building the Hanamachi, The Look of a Geisha, The Music of Memoirs, A Geisha Dance, The World of Geisha, The Way of the Sumo, Rob Marshall and A Day with Chef Nobu Matsuhisa). A UMD version for the PSP will also be available the same day.

Also newly announced by Sony for release on 4/18 (per an earlier Bits report) is Eli Roth's Hostel (SLP $28.95). The DVD will include anamorphic widescreen video, 4 audio commentary tracks (one with Roth, a second with Roth and executive producer Quentin Tarantino, Boaz Yakin and Scott Spiegel, a third with Roth, producer Chris Briggs and documentarian Gabriel Roth, and a fourth with Roth and Harry Knowles), the Hostel Dissected featurette and the Kill the Car multi-angle featurette. A UMD version will also be available the same day.

In addition, 20th Century Fox has announced the DVD release of Walk the Line for 2/28. As we reported on 1/20, you'll be able to buy single-disc versions in either anamorphic widescreen or full frame (SRP $29.98), along with a 2-disc Collector's Edition (SRP $39.98). Click the report link for details on the extras.

By the way... an update from earlier this morning. We've confirmed (again as reported in The Rumor Mill a couple weeks ago) that Paramount's 2-disc Event Horizon: Special Collector's Edition (4/18) will include include audio commentary by director Paul W.S. Anderson and producer Jeremy Bolt, the 5-part Making of Event Horizon documentary, The Unseen Event Horizon featurette (on an unfilmed rescue scene, featuring conceptual artwork), The Point of No Return featurette (on the filming of the movie itself), the original theatrical trailer and a video trailer.

Note that The UMD Movie Release List has been updated accordingly with these new PSP titles.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 2/6/06 - 2:30 AM PST)

Morning, everyone! We've got a couple DVD news items to report early for you today.

First up, we've confirmed that Paramount's Event Horizon (due on 4/18) is going to be a new 2-disc Special Collector's Edition. We'll have details on the extras soon. The studio also has the 1970 version of Julius Caesar (starring Charlton Heston, Jason Robards and Richard Chamberlain) due on 3/28.

Sony has announced the 4/18 release of Breakfast on Pluto.

Meanwhile, Warner will release Sally Field's Sybil (1976) on 5/23. A week later, on 5/30, they'll release Stephen Poliakoff's Gideon's Daughter and Friends and Crocodiles for the BBC. And on 3/28, look for a trio of single-disc Friends "best of" collections (SRP $14.97 each) including Friends: The One with All the Babies, Friends: The One with All the Weddings and Friends: The One with All the Birthdays.

Here's a look at the new revised cover art for Paramount's Event Horizon: Special Collector's Edition and Julius Caesar, along with Fox's Robert Altman Collection box set (4/25 - containing a single-disc version of M*A*S*H, as well as A Perfect Couple, A Wedding and Quintet)...

Event Horizon: Special Collector's EditionJulius CaesarRobert Altman Collection

Around the site this morning, we've kicked off four new Contests today, giving each of you the chance to take home copies of a number of Warner TV titles including Blue Collar TV, Growing Pains, Living Single and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Universal's Dune: Extended Edition, more anime titles from Geneon including new volumes of Viewtiful Joe, Tenjho Tenge and Tetsujin 28, Echo Bridge's recent TV version of The Poseidon Adventure. All of the contests will run one week, until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, February 12th, except the Echo Bridge contest which will run for TWO weeks, until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, February 19th. Click on the links to get started and good luck!

Also today, we want to take a moment to recognize the passing of actor Al Lewis this weekend. Lewis, better known as Grandpa Munster (from TV's The Munsters), was 95.

Back with more later this afternoon, so stay tuned...

2/3/06

We've got a couple new announcements to report today.

The big one is Disney's revelation that The Little Mermaid is due to be their next classic animated title to receive Platinum Edition treatment. Look for the 2-disc set to hit stores on 10/3 (SRP $29.99). This is the first time in 7 years that the film will be available on DVD. Expect deleted scenes, audio commentaries and behind-the-scenes featurettes, along with archived art materials and musical-based features as well. Both the film and its soundtrack are being digitally restored for the release. There's no word yet on a possible Blu-ray Disc version of the film, but we consider it very possible. You can read more at this link at Home Media Retailing.

In other news, Criterion is soon to announce the DVD release of Yasujiro Ozu's Late Spring (#331) for April or May. Thanks to Bits reader Charlie F. for the heads-up on that.

Also, Lionsgate has revealed at Home Media Retailing that Speed Racer: Volume 5, which will complete the series on DVD, won't hit stores until 2007 - an entire additional year's wait for just 8 more episodes. Lionsgate claims in the piece that the sales success of the title has been a direct result of their stingy release strategy, but we argue that the title has succeeded in spite of it. It doesn't take a genius to figure out why it's selling well. Speed Racer isn't just any anime, it's THE original anime, at least for most Gen-xers here in the States. One can only imagine how much better the title would have done if there'd been a real effort to include better extras (and maybe not take FIVE years to release the complete series on disc). Our good friend Dave Lambert over at TVShowsonDVD.com feel the same way we do. It just really makes you wish that someone with a little more knowledge of the series and connection to (or even awareness of) the fans was involved in the decisions on this title. So do you suppose we'll get Speed Racer: The Complete Series on Blu-ray from Lionsgate in 2008... or just an Blu-ray version of Speed Racer: Volume One (packaged with an action figure or something)? Ah well. I have tremendous respect for the folks at Lionsgate (due, in no small measure, to their release of the 3-disc Frank Herbert's Dune and their plans to release it on Blu-ray as well), but on this title we'll have to agree to disagree.

On a related note, anyone out there got an extra Speed Racer: The Signature Series box set they want to part with (for sale or trade)? Drop me an e-mail. ;-)

We've got a little UMD for PSP news for you today as well. Sony is going to be releasing 2-packs of a number of their popular titles on 3/28 (SRP $28.96 each), which will include the DVD version of the film along with a UMD version of the same film for playback in Sony's PSP hand-held game system. These will include Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, The Grudge, Resident Evil, Underworld and The Terminator. The studio will also release a UMD-only version of 50 First Dates on 4/4.

Warner has also announced some new UMD releases for 4/4, including Heat, Goodfellas and Scooby-Doo: The Movie. They'll also street Ocean's Eleven (2001) on UMD format on 5/9. We've updated the UMD Release List accordingly.

We've got one last bit of release news for you today (and this is Rumor Mill-worthy, so salt to taste accordingly)... our industry sources are telling us that Universal plans to release Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain on 4/4. We also expect Dreamworks (via Paramount) to bow Steven Spielberg's Munich on 5/9.

Okay... that's it for now. We're going to work on that Mark Knox interview this weekend, as well as the CES report, to get both ready for posting early next week. We've also got a lot of new DVD reviews on the way from our staff next week, so watch for those.

Enjoy the SuperBowl (those of you who care about such things at least) and have a great weekend. See you Monday!

2/2/06

Aaahhhhhh... Mother Nature and her infinite mysteries.

Things are a little strange around the ol' Bits' today. Remember back in late 2001 & early 2002, how we had that problem with bees in the attic walls of our house? And we had to have The Bee Man come and tear a hole in our wall to remove the decades-old honeycomb that kept attracting more bees back like a red light outside an Amsterdam brothel? Yeah. Well... funny story. The bees, thankfully, plague us no more. Now we've got another kind of vermin in our house. Raccoons.

I kid you not, we've got a family of raccoons living in our chimney. BIG-ass raccoons. We've seen them around the neighborhood and we've been hearing them at night scuttling across our roof. Our cats have even heard them through the open fireplace, but we've never been able to catch them actually going into or out of the chimney. The other day though, our neighbors came over (all laughing and amused) to say that THEY'D seen them going into the chimney. Go figure.

So... you know... there's only one thing to do in a sitch like this. You call Brian... alias The Chimney Man (I'd have called him The Raccoon Man, but now I respect him too much for that). As I knew some of you would get a pretty good laugh out of this, I thought I'd indulge you by documenting the "removal" process...

Raccoon removal... Bits-style

Only a single raccoon was actually in the chimney at the time, thankfully. 'Cause the first thing Brian and I were thinking after flushing the one out was, "Ah hell... what if there's babies?!" Fortunately, our final coon-count peaked at just the one. Believe me, we checked.

Here's the getaway... and Brian, The Chimney Guy, laughing his ass off afterwards...

The get-away... and Brian, The Chimney Guy, laughing his ass off.

For the record, we at The Digital Bits recommend a trail of cheese pieces (Brian, The Chimney Man, favors cheddar) and rap music blasting at full volume from a boombox placed strategically in the fireplace opening (speakers pointed up, of course) in order to ensure the successful removal of your average North American raccoon from a chimney. And don't forget to clean and cap the chimney when you're done.

The joys of home ownership, let me tell you.

Needless to day, the flushing out of the raccoon has pretty well taken up the entire day around here. That said, we have managed to pull together a couple DVD-related news notes that need reporting.

First, just a heads-up... those cheaper season sets of The X-Files that Fox is selling now (seasons 1-3 are in stores for $49.98 each, seasons 3-7 follow on 3/28) aren't the same as the original DVD releases - the bonus discs have been omitted (the final disc in the original sets, with all the TV spots and documentary material). Any episodes that were on the final discs have been moved to the previous disc. So just know that if you want ALL the extras, don't assume you'll get them in the new sets (you won't).

Also, as it turns out... Universal's DVD-18 Dune: Extended Edition isn't so problem free after all. A lot of people are reporting glitches (likely related to defects in the DVD-18 bonding process) in various makes of players. If you do get a defective disc, try to exchange it for a working copy at the retailer you bought it from. My copy seems to work just fine, so good copies ARE out there.

Finally, Paramount has announced that it will release Neil Young: Heart of Gold on DVD in May (street date TBA), along with a 200 Cigarettes reissue (5/2) and Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist - Season One (5/9).

By the way, if anyone hears word of ex-Police drummer Stewart Copeland's new documentary - Everyone Stares: The Police Inside Out - coming to DVD, please let me know. Our sources are telling us that Universal Music might be releasing the film on disc later in 2006, but there's nothing official yet. The film is making the festival rounds now, and this Cops fan is dying to lay eyeballs on it.

Here's poster art for that and Neil Young: Heart of Gold, along with DVD cover art for New Line's The Wedding Singer: Totally Awesome Edition (due on 4/25)...

Everyone Stares: The Police Inside OutNeil Young: Heart of GoldThe Wedding Singer: Totally Awesome Edition

Anyway, that's just another typically strange afternoon here at The Bits Home Office (Left Coast Division). We'll resume our regularly-scheduled DVD coverage tomorrow and... assuming no more raccoons... we should have our final CES report and the interview with Toshiba's Mark Knox (re: HD-DVD) on Monday.

Cheers 'til then!

2/1/06

Okay... we've got some new announcements for you today.

First up, Universal has set Kate & Allie: Season One, Leave It to Beaver: The Complete Second Season and Whirlygirl all for release on 5/2. They also have set Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan: The Complete First Season for release on 5/23.

Sony, meanwhile, has set a 3-disc Windtalkers: Director's Cut re-issue, The Dark and Cirque du Soleil: Corteo for release on 4/11.

Disney has announced that when their Bambi II arrives on DVD on 2/7, you'll have just 70 days to pick up a copy before the title goes out of print on 4/18. So, you know... plan your next few months accordingly.

Paramount, meanwhile, has a repackaged DVD release of Ghost set for 5/2. There's no word yet on extras. The studio has also announced a 3-disc American Heroes Collection for release on 5/9, that will include In Harm's Way, The Bridges of Toko-Ri and Hell is for Heroes.

Finally, our friends over at Synapse Films will be releasing a new DVD version of Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will on 3/28 (SRP $34.95). The release will include a new digitally re-mastered windowboxed transfer of the film from a 35mm fine grain element, audio in the original German with newly translated (and removable) English subs, Riefenstahl's short film Day of Freedom and audio commentary with historian Dr. Anthony Santoro.

By the way, yesterday I mentioned that Warner's George Feltenstein told me he and other WHV execs would be participating in another online chat over at The Home Theater Forum. I've confirmed that the event will be held on the evening of 2/21. That's a Tuesday. So save up all your best Warner DVD questions for the event, and then be sure to check The Bits the following morning for the complete transcript. We'll post more details as we get closer.

Lost in all our Warner catalog coverage yesterday were the Oscar nominations that were finally announced. Crash, Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Munich and Good Night, and Good Luck are all officially in the running for Best Picture. For those who may be interested, the complete list of nominees can be found here (the big night itself is on 3/5).

We've kicked off FOUR new Contests today, giving you each the chance to take home copies of Warner's The Corpse Bride, a trio of anime titles from Geneon including Samurai Champloo: Volume 7, Magnolia's The War Within and Eagle Vision's Cher: Live at the Mirage. The contests will run until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, February 5th. Click on the links to get started and good luck!

We've added to our Digital Bits Power Buy again as well today, so be sure to check that out. Those of you looking to buy the Pioneer Elite Pro-1130HD plasma display might find a good deal in there...

On a more off-beat note, Todd's pretty sure he's figured out who director Robert Rodriguez has in mind to play Ava in A Dame to Kill For, the prequel/sequel to Sin City. I think maybe he's on to something there. You'll find that in The Rumor Mill this morning, so let the buzzing begin.

Finally today, just in case you missed it, we strongly recommend that you check out our coverage of Warner's 2006 catalog release announcement event from yesterday's post. There's a TON of great DVD news in there - MANY cool titles were revealed for the months ahead and there's definitely something for everyone. You fans of Blade Runner and Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children might even have reason to smile (and yeah, we know Final Fantasy's not a Warner title - read ALL the way to the very end for that).

Stay tuned...

1/31/06

Afternoon, everyone!

Well... I have to tell you, Warner's got some great stuff on the way for 2006. Some very exciting titles were revealed last night at their press event at the studio. Warner Home Video's Senior VP for Theatrical Catalog Marketing (George Feltenstein), newly-minted VP for Publicity and Promotion for Theatrical Catalog (Ronnee Sass) and other senior Warner execs were on hand to announce that over 200 new-to-DVD catalog titles will be released by the studio on DVD in the new year.

Warner was quick, and right, to stress that "the death of DVD has been greatly exaggerated." The Warner film vaults contain some 6,600 theatrical film titles... only 1,200 of which have been released on DVD thus far. That leaves over 5,400 titles for the studio to choose from when it comes to catalog DVD releases, so there's PLENTY of great films left to mine in the years ahead.

Another thing that Warner noted, and I asked them specifically about this issue, is that many of the titles that they have planned for release on DVD in 2006 will be released day-and-date on HD- DVD format as well. Warner execs were also careful to stress that while some of their HD titles will enjoy a brief period of exclusivity on HD-DVD, given that the format is launching first, every title that's released on HD-DVD will also be released on Blu-ray Disc when that format finally launches later this year. I also learned that while some extras will be exclusive only to the HD formats, Warner is going to be careful to make sure that all of the extras available on regular DVD will also be included on HD... so you can replace your regular DVDs with either HD-DVD or Blu-ray if you so choose. Look for the first Warner HD-DVD titles in late March, with another wave of catalog titles in early April. Note that Warner's catalog titles on HD-DVD are going to be priced at a very wallet-friendly SRP of $29.98 (though new films may cost more).

Now then... let's talk titles. Warner claims to have invented the 2-disc special edition with their 2001 DVD release of Orson Welles' Citizen Kane. They plan to continue their line of 2-disc special editions in 2006. All of these titles will feature newly-remastered HD transfers (and again, many will be released simultaneously in HD-DVD):

Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) - with a new feature-length documentary and audio commentaries

Forbidden Planet (1956) - with a new feature-length documentary

The Maltese Falcon (1941) - packaged with The Maltese Falcon - Dangerous Female (1931) and Satan Met a Lady (1936)

The Dirty Dozen (1967)

Look for 4 new Stanley Kubrick SEs including 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), A Clockwork Orange (1971), The Shining (1980) and the original unrated version Eyes Wide Shut (1999). Each will include new documentaries and never-before-seen footage blessed by the Kubrick Estate (although don't look for deleted scenes - Stanley himself never wanted them released).

There's a new John Wayne/John Ford Collection on the way, which will include The Searchers: 50th Anniversary Two-Disc Special Edition (1956), along with a Stagecoach: Two-Disc Special Edition (1939), Fort Apache (1948), The Long Voyage Home (1940), The Wings of Eagles (1957), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), They Were Expendable (1945) and 3 Godfathers (1948).

There's also The John Ford Collection that will include The Lost Patrol (1934), The Informer (1935), Cheyenne Autumn (1964), Mary of Scotland (1936) and Sergeant Rutledge (1960).

Now... here's a look at some more of the 200 new-to-DVD titles coming in 2006:

Grand Prix: 2-Disc Special Edition (1966)

The Astaire and Rogers Collection, Volume 2 - featuring Flying Down to Rio (1933), The Gay Divorcee (1934), Roberta (1935), Carefree (1938) and The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939)

The Busby Berkley Collection - featuring Footlight Parade (1933), Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933), Dames (1934) and Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)

The Warner Tough Guys Collection - featuring 'G' Men (1935), Bullets or Ballots (1936), San Quentin (1937), A Slight Case of Murder (1938), Each Dawn I Die (1939) and City for Conquest (1940)

Knute Rockne All American (1940) - just for you Notre Dame alumni!

The Marlon Brando Signature Collection - featuring Julius Ceasar (1953), Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967) and The Formula (1980)

The Bette Davis Collection, Volume 2 - including a new Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?: Two-Disc Special Edition (1962 - with new and vintage documentaries and never-before-seen footage), Jezebel (1938), Old Acquaintance (1943), Marked Woman (1937) and The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942).

The Lucy and Desi Collection (due 5/9, SRP $29.92) - featuring The Long, Long Trailer (1954), Forever, Darling (1955) and Too Many Girls (1940)

The Tennessee Williams Film Collection (due 5/2, SRP $79.92) - featuring A Streetcar Named Desire: Two-Disc Special Edition (1951), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof: Deluxe Edition (1958), Sweet Bird of Youth (1962), Baby Doll (1956), The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1961) and The Night of the Iguana (1964).

Additional DVD box sets will be released featuring (known titles listed as follows, but more are TBA):

Clark Gable - including Mogambo (1953), Dancing Lady (1933) and Boom Town (1940)

James Stewart - including The Spirit of St. Louis (1957) and The Naked Spur (1953)

Humphrey Bogart - including Passage to Marseille (1944), Action in the North Atlantic (1943) and Across the Pacific (1942)

More Film Nior titles including Lady in the Lake (1947)

Paul Newman

Taylor & Burton

Gary Cooper - including Sergeant York (1941) and The Hanging Tree (1959)

Already announced for 4/18 is a TCM Archives: The Laurel and Hardy Collection (SRP $39.92), including Bonnie Scotland and The Devil's Brother (both 1933), along with vintage excerpts and the Added Attractions: The Hollywood Shorts Story feature-length documentary.

On 4/25, look for the Classic Musicals from the Dream Factory Collection (SRP $59.92) including It's Always Fair Weather (1955), Summer Stock (1950), Three Little Words (1950), Til the Clouds Roll By (1946) and Ziegfeld Follies (1946).

TCM Achives will also release a whole new series of Forbidden Hollywood Collections. The first release will include Baby Face (1933), Red Headed Woman (1932) and Waterloo Bridge (1931 - unseen since its original theatrical release) along with a new feature-length TCM documentary.

Warner is also going to launch a new series of Ultimate Collector's Editions, patterned after last year's deluxe version of King Kong. These will include tons of bonus features, books and booklets, production art cards, soundtrack CDs, souvenir programs and more.

The first of these will be John Wayne and John Ford's The Searchers (already mentioned above).

Late in 2006 (tentatively in November, timed to coincide with the DVD release of Bryan Singer's Superman Returns), look for a 14-disc Superman: Ultimate Collector's Edition box set. This will feature new deluxe editions of all four of the original feature films, including a Superman II: Special Edition with something called The Donner Cut. This is being assembled by editor Michael Thaw based on the film's original shooting script and Donnor's original notes. At least 50% of the film will be footage you've never seen, more than 70% of it directed by Donner. You'll also get Richard Lester's final theatrical cut of the film. The Donner Cut will only be available on DVD in the Ultimate Collector's Edition box set, although it will also be released in HD-DVD (and likely Blu-ray Disc if that format is available).

We were actually shown a clip of the new Donner Cut at the event - the original opening to Superman II, in which Lois Lane notices a picture of Superman in a copy of The Daily Planet... and then she looks at Clark Kent standing nearby... and she begins drawing glasses, a suit and hat on the picture of Superman. She figures it out. Then she tells Clark she knows who he really is... and jumps out Perry White's office window to prove she's right. Clark runs at super-speed downstairs, and blows up at the falling Lois to slow her fall. She lands safely in a fruit stand, by which time Clark has already run back upstairs to preserve his identity. Someone asks him where Lois is, and he replies, "Uh... she just stepped out for a minute."

An interesting thing to note however, is that it seems Richard Donner himself hasn't yet been involved (and is not involved in cutting the new version of the film). During the event, I chatted with AICN's Drew McWeeny (well known as "Moriarty" over there) who told me that he's been interviewing Donner recently (watch for that to be posted on AICN soon). The director has reportedly told Drew that he's not really interested in revisiting the film. When asked during the event what Donner's involvement was (whether or not he'd do commentary, etc), Warner execs said, "That's still to be decided." Our guess is that the studio is still negotiating with Donner to participate, and that it's merely a matter of a dollar figure that everyone is happy with. Cross your fingers on this, because it'd be a real shame if he declined to be involved. FYI, IGN also has a brief interview with Donner that touches on this.

Some other interesting Warner release news... look for a movie-only version of King Kong to be released on 3/28 (SRP $14.97). That same day, Warner will package the Kong tin set together with Mighty Joe Young and Son of Kong for SRP $49.92.

The studio is also continuing its series of Action and Family Double Feature DVD releases in 2006.

A Cool Hand Luke: Special Edition (1967) is tentatively being planned for 2007.

Quo Vadis (1951) is being considered for future DVD release, but the Technicolor classic is going to require Ultra-Resolution restoration. Given the film's length, that's going to take significant time and be VERY expensive.

And finally, here's a bit of news that's going to get a lot of you excited (and I made a point to specifically ask about this title, believe me)... Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (1982) is currently on track for release as a multi-disc special edition in time for its 25th anniversary in 2007. The release is far from certain (as usual, there's a lot more that I can't post about this title yet - think of the old saying, "Loose lips sink ships"), but Warner says that work is proceeding, most of the key players are involved and things are "looking good" for release next year. We'll see.

At the conclusion of the event, I had the chance to speak with both Ronnee Sass and George Feltenstein directly. I've known Ronnee since the early days, and it turns out that George is a big reader of The Bits (we're glad to have you, George!). You'll be glad to know that George, Ronnee and some of their fellow WHV execs are going to be participating in another live online chat with The Home Theater Forum soon, so you'll have the chance to ask them questions of your own. I'll confirm the date with Ron and Parker and let you know. As always, we'll have the complete transcript here at The Bits the following morning.

Now then... after the Warner event, I made my way over to the plush Beverly Hills home of CAA for that "Future of Media" panel discussion I mentioned yesterday. I've known the other panelists - Charlie de Lauzirika, Mike Stradford and Mike Mulvihill - for several years now, so it was nice to catch up with them and talk shop a little bit. The discussion was lively, there were lots of questions asked and, as they say, a good time was had by all. If you were there, I hope you enjoyed yourselves as much as we did. Special thanks to David Zucker of Scott Free, and everyone at the Northwestern University Entertainment Alliance for the invitation to participate.

By the way... you fans of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children will be pleased to learn this. Mike Stradford told me that Sony's working hard to get the film released on DVD here in the States by the end of 2006. Apparently, it's taking a little extra time to work with the director to get all the supplemental elements finished, but the title is on track for release sometime later this year. I seem to get at least one e-mail asking about Advent Children a day, so there you go!

Back with more soon. Stay tuned...


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