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(Archived Posts 4/17/06 - 4/3/06)
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UPDATE - 4/17/06 - 6:30 PM PDT)
We're back with
new Classic Coming Attractions column from our own Barrie
Maxwell. In this edition, Barrie takes a look at a number of British TV
and film DVD releases, including Acorn Media's
Hanging Gale and
Perfect Spy, A&E's
Python's Flying Circus: Terry Jones' Personal Best and
Best of Not the 9 O'Clock News, Blue Underground's
in Britain, and Paramount's
Blitz: London's Longest Night (released for PBS). He also
reviews 20th Century Fox's
Laurel and Hardy Collection, Volume One. And, as always, he
runs down the latest classic film DVD release announcements. Enjoy!
Back tomorrow afternoon. Stay tuned...
(EARLY UPDATE - 4/17/06 -
1 PM PDT)
Morning, folks! Hope you all enjoyed the weekend. Matt (Mr.
is STILL enjoying the weekend... lucky bastard.
Well... we've been getting a lot of nice comments today about
words of wisdom (from Friday) regarding the HD-DVD format's official
launch this week, so thanks for that.
For the record, we've been able to confirm that HD-DVD IS now
officially launched... sort of. Several Best Buy stores here in Orange
County, CA now have the Toshiba HD-A1 player in stock (SRP $499). Some
stores have already started selling them, while others are waiting until
tomorrow (Tuesday). We've been getting reports from Bits
readers and Best Buy employees around the country all weekend confirming
that players are now available (or about to be available) in their area
as well. Several Best Buy employees have also told us that their stores
now have the first four HD-DVD releases in their stockrooms, and they're
getting ready to begin selling them tomorrow. There aren't going to be a
lot of HD-DVD players available however. Virtually every store we
checked with this weekend says they only have (or only expect to have) 3
or 4 players available to sell to consumers this week. So if you've
really got to have a player this week like your life depends on it,
you'd best be waiting outside your local Best Buy's front door at 10 AM
when they open tomorrow. We don't expect format sales to be outrageous
(keep in mind that there's only a few thousand players expected to be
available in the entire U.S. this week in all), but in some markets with
a lot of early adopter types, 3 players per store could sell out pretty
By the way, we expect Toshiba to make some kind of official
announcement about this week's launch either today or tomorrow. We'll
let you know if there's any developments.
Now then... we'll be back with more later, but first, we've got a
completely non-DVD related announcement that we're pleased to be able to
make. Actually, it's our very own Adam Jahnke who is best equipped to
tell you about it, so here he is:
"Hi, Bits-ers. Bill has graciously
allowed me to intrude on his two cents to ask for a few of yours. My
second book with Troma president Lloyd Kaufman is about to be released
(and is apparently already shipping from Troma.com and Amazon). Unlike
our last one, the popular and critically-acclaimed (no, really!) Make
Your Own Damn Movie!, this one's a novel.
The Toxic Avenger: The Novel is more than just a regurgitation
of the classic 1985 movie (although, this being Troma and all, there is
some regurgitaton in it). In fact, I think I can safely say that this is
unlike any novelization you've ever read. It includes the secret history
of Tromaville, untold tales of Toxie's past, and "guest narrators"
including J.D. Salinger, Oliver Stone, and James Ellroy. Lloyd, Toxie
and I are all very happy with how it turned out and we think you'll dig
it, too. The Toxic Avenger: The Novel. Ask for it by name.
You'll be glad you did."
Bill here again. Here's the cover art, complete with a link to purchase
the book on Amazon.com:
Now how can you resist a page-turner with a cover like that? Ain't that
a thing of beauty? Don't it just make you weep with... er... joy, or
something? And she's only $11 on Amazon too. Anyway, we're proud as
punch of ol' Adam, so do the brother a favor and buy his new book if
you're of a mind. Odds are, Adam's never gonna get more'n a few cents a
copy for all his hard work, but hey... it'll make him feel all warm
inside to know that a few of the Bits
faithful checked it out. If you do, be sure to
drop him an e-mail and
let him know what you think.
Okay, 'nuff with the book shilling. We'll be back later, so stay
We've got a few new DVD release announcements to report today.
First up, Warner Bros. has revealed that they'll debut 16
Blocks on 6/13 (SRP $28.98). The film will be available in
dual anamorphic widescreen and full frame versions, each with Dolby
Digital 5.1 audio. Extras on both discs will include an alternate ending
that can be viewed separately or branched seamlessly from the film,
deleted scenes with optional commentary by director Richard Donner and
writer Richard Wenk, the film's theatrical trailer and more. There's no
word yet whether Warner is preparing an HD-DVD version of the film, but
we suspect it's likely that they'll announce one at a later date.
Meanwhile, Universal has announced the release of Munich
and Nanny McPhee today (for 5/9),
as well as The Incredible Hulk: The Complete
First Season (for 7/18). Munich
will be released in three versions - full frame and anamorphic
widescreen standard editions (SRP $29.98 each) and a 2-disc limited
edition (No SRP set). There's no word yet on the extras, but we expect
that to be available soon. Nanny McPhee
will also be available in both full frame and anamorphic widescreen
versions (SRP $29.98 each). The Incredible
Hulk: The Complete First Season will be a 4-disc set (SRP
$39.98), with video in the original full frame.
We've posted artwork already for the standard edition of Munich,
but here's art for the limited edition, along with The
Incredible Hulk: The Complete First Season and Universal's
yet-to-be-announced Something New...
Also today, 20th Century Fox has announced the release of Aquamarine
for 6/20 (SRP $29.98). The teen mermaid movie will include both
anamorphic widescreen and full frame on different sides of the same
disc, along with cast and crew commentaries, deleted scenes and behind
the scenes featurettes.
Fox has also announced a series of "celebrity packs" for
release on 6/3, each collecting a trio of films of a particular actor or
actress (SRP $29.98 each). They'll include Angelina Jolie (Mr.
& Mrs. Smith, Pushing Tin,
Life or Something Like It), Arnold
Schwarzenegger (True Lies, Predator,
Commando), Colin Farrell (Tigerland,
Daredevil: Director's Cut, Phone
Booth), Denzel Washington (Man on
Fire, Courage Under Fire,
The Siege), Drew Barrymore (Fever
Pitch, Never Been Kissed,
Ever After), George Clooney (One
Fine Day, Solaris, The
Thin Red Line), Jennifer Aniston (She's
the One, Picture Perfect,
Object of My Affection) and
Natalie Portman (Anywhere But Here,
Garden State, Where
the Heart Is). These are all the existing DVD versions of
these films (no new transfers) so it looks like Fox is trying to get rid
of their stock of catalog titles. Hey... it's not a bad price for three
films, if you happen to like any of them and haven't added them to your
Finally today, on the announcement front, Fantoma Films is releasing
Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Why Does Herr R.
Run Amok? on 5/30 (SRP $19.98). The release will include a
new digital transfer of the film, with improved English subtitle
translation and an interview with cinematographer Dietrich Lohman.
By the way, that cover artwork we posted yesterday for Genius Product's
TransAmerica (due 5/23)? As we've
mentioned before, there's actually a lenticular hologram on the front,
which "transforms" actress Felicity Huffman (or should we say
Filliam H. Muffman, for you Colbert Nation faithful) into the character
she plays in the film. We've had a few people in the last day e-mail us
going, "What the hell is Felicity doing on the cover as herself?!"
Yeah, we think it's strange too, but there you go. Chalk it up as one of
those ideas that probably looked a lot better in the marketing plan...
And with that... another week's come to a close. But with the long
anticipated debut, this coming Tuesday, of the HD-DVD format (including
the first four titles and... possibly... the first players from
Toshiba), we stand here at a bit of a crossroads. So we wanted to take a
moment to offer a few words to help put it all into perspective for you.
As you can imagine, a lot of readers have been asking us in recent days
if they should consider HD-DVD, or wait for Blu-ray Disc instead, or
just sit the format war out entirely. A lot of people have even wondered
if this means that DVD is going to be obsolete soon.
First things first... while we've seen both HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc in
multiple demonstrations now, we haven't had the chance yet to get our
hands on final product for either format, to really evaluate the
hardware and software and give the tires a good kick. We hope to be able
to do that with HD-DVD very soon. We expect to have software in hand in
the next couple days, although Toshiba isn't able to confirm yet if
they'll have players in stores next week for sure, much less when the
media will get to test drive them. So at this point, it's very hard to
give you a fully-informed opinion about either format.
That said, the most reasonable advice we can give you is just to wait
on buying HD-DVD (and Blu-ray Disc as well) for the time being. The
bottom line is that unless you really have to try out all the latest
technology, you have a lot of money to blow, and/or you don't mind
buying hardware and software today that could become worthless in a year
or two... you should just sit tight. The longer you wait, the more we'll
know about how well these formats work and how well they'll be supported
with software. The longer you wait, the clearer the picture should
become in terms of which format has the edge in the high-def format war.
The longer you wait, the cheaper the hardware and software will get.
Even more importantly, the longer you wait, the better the hardware and
software will be in terms of quality and features. Let the early
adopters deal with all the technical problems that are inevitably going
to crop up - that's what they do. By this time next year, all of those
issues should be worked out. Plus, good old regular DVD looks and sounds
just great and it's going to be around a long time.
DVD is currently the single biggest source of income for the Hollywood
studios, bringing in far more profit than even theatrical presentations.
There are currently more than 100 million DVD players in homes in the
U.S. alone, not to mention many millions more computers equipped with
DVD-ROM drives and videogame systems that can play DVD discs too. Just
as VHS has been around since the 1980s (that's more than 20 years - many
of you still have VHS players in your houses and lots of old home movies
on videotape), DVD is going to be around and supported by the Hollywood
movie studios for many more years to come. Our guess is at least 10
years, and maybe even 15 or more.
Soon enough, we here at The Digital Bits
(and lots of other respected and knowledgable reviewers too) will have
the chance to test drive the hardware and software. You can bet we'll
have plenty to say about HD-DVD (and eventually Blu-ray Disc) - we'll
give you our informed opinions and call things like we see them. If you
absolutely must have HD-DVD immediately, then more power too you. As for
the rest of you... relax. Enjoy your current DVDs, and don't worry about
it. We'll straighten all this stuff out for you in time.
Actually, if you've really got an extra couple $1000 burning a hole in
your wallet, and you think you might be interested in HD-DVD or Blu-ray
Disc down the line, then the best thing you can buy today is a new
high-definition TV (widescreen, of course, and one equipped with an HDMI
input). Your existing anamorphic widescreen DVDs will all look better
than ever on it, and there's lots of great content you can watch in
high-definition now, available via over-the-air broadcast or from your
digital cable or satellite provider. And when the dust does finally
settle in the HD-DVD/Blu-ray Disc scuffle, you'll be all set to take
advantage of whichever format should happen to survive it.
So there you go.
Happy Easter to all those of you out there who celebrate it! We hope
all of you have a great weekend, and we'll see you back here next week
to talk about the debut of HD-DVD... maybe. We think, if it actually
happens. We'll see...
There's lots of news to report today, so let's get right into it.
Let's start on the high-definition front. Toshiba is apparently hoping
to have at least some HD-DVD players in stores this coming Tuesday (or
shortly thereafter) to accompany Warner and Universal's first releases
on the format. The studios expect to ship between 7,000 and 10,000
copies of the initial titles due on 4/18, and Toshiba hopes to ship
between 10,000 and 15,000 players. The hardware information comes from
retailers - we're waiting for official confirmation from Toshiba. You
can read more
at Video Business.
Also today, Universal has officially announced two more waves of HD-DVD
titles, set for May. May Wave 1 is due on 5/9 (SRP $34.98 each) and will
include Assualt on Precinct 13,
Cinderella Man and Jarhead.
May Wave 2 will follow on 5/23 (SRP $34.98 each) will include The
Bourne Supremacy, The Chronicles
of Riddick: Unrated Director's Cut, U-571
and Van Helsing. As with the
previous releases, they'll all be "HD-30" (single-sided)
format discs, and will include English, French and Spanish audio in
English Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 Surround, with English SDH and French and
Spanish subtitles. Additional extras, if any, are TBA. Our
Release List has been updated to reflect this. Here's a look a
the cover art...
As you can see, we've also included art for a pair of standard DVD
releases as well... Genius Products' TransAmerica
(5/23) and another title we're going to talk about in a moment.
By the way, we have a follow-up on a bit of news we posted
other day, namely that Genius Production would be releasing The
Libertine on 6/27. It's the 130-minute, R-rated theatrical
edition. Just FYI.
Now then... Warner has announced a Grand
Prix: Two-Disc Special Edition for release on 7/11 (SRP
$20.97). We're waiting on details as to the extras, but expect
documentaries, featurettes and more. Also newly announced by the studio
are new DVD versions of The Big Sleep,
Dark Passage, Key
Largo and To Have an Have Not
for 7/25 (SRP $19.97 each), a pair of new TV titles - La
Femme Nikita: The Complete Fourth Season and Tales
from the Crypt: The Complete Fourth Season - also on 7/25,
and Mrs. Harris (for HBO) and How
Art Made the World (for BBC) on 8/1. By the way, those Bogart
and Bacall films are individual releases of the same discs that are
included in the forthcoming Bogie &
Bacall: The Signature Collection box set. Amazon has the set
due on 4/25 (SRP $39.92), but Warner doesn't have it in their official
release database yet. For that reason, we believe the set will be
released on 7/25, with the individual discs. We'll let you know for sure
as soon as Warner confirms this.
Meanwhile, 20th Century Fox has set Date
Movie and Date Movie: Unrated
Edition for release on 5/30, The
Hills Have Eyes and The Hills Have
Eyes: Unrated Edition for 6/20, an Independence
Day: 10th Anniversary Edition and Find
Me Guilty on 6/27, Voyage to the
Bottom of the Sea, Volume 2 and The
Black Swan on 7/11, and The
Shirley Temple Collection, Volume 4 (including Captain
January, Just Around the Corner
and Susannah of the Mounties, also
available separaetely) and The Will Rogers
Collection, Volume 1 (including Life
Begins at Forty, Steamboat 'Round
the Bend, Doubting Thomas
and In Old Kentucky) on 7/25.
FYI, the Independence Day: 10th Anniversary
Edition (SRP $19.98) seems to just be a rehash of
previously-released material, as it's set to include anamorphic
widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, a branching viewing option
that lets you watch either the theatrical cut of the extended cut, scene
specific audio commentary with director Roland Emmerich and producer
Dean Devlin, and a second commentary with FX supervisors Volker Engel
and Doug Smith. Seems to us that ALL of this content has been available
on earlier DVD editions.
The Hills Have Eyes will be
released in separate 108-minute theatrical and 111-minute unrated
editions (SRP $29.98 each). Each will include anamorphic widescreen
video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, audio commentary (by director Alexandre
Aja, Gregory Levassuer and Marianne Maddalena), the Surviving
the Hills: Making of The Hills Have Eyes featurette,
production daries, the Fox Movie Channel:
Casting Session special, a music video and more.
Also, Sidney Lumet's Find Me Guilty
will include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, 5
behind-the-scenes featurettes (A Conversation
with Vin Diesel about Character, A
Conversation with Sydney Lumet about the Film, Body/Make-up
Work, The History of the Film
and Meeting Jackie DiNorscio) and
the film's theatrical trailer.
Finally, Paramount has announced Failure to
Launch for release on 6/27.
Okay... that's pretty good for now, I'd say. Stay tuned...
(LATE UPDATE - 4/12/06 -
5 PM PDT)
Okay... one MORE last update today. And it's a cool one. 20th Century
Fox has just announced the DVD release of Timur Bekmambetov's Night
Watch (Nochnoi Dozor) for release on 6/20 (SRP $27.98). The
double-sided release will include the film in anamorphic widescreen
video in two versions on the same disc... the original Russian Dolby
Digital 5.1 with English subtitles (on Side B), and dubbed English Dolby
Digital 5.1 as well (on Side A). Extras on the Russian side will include
audio commentary with Bekmambetov and a second commentary with novelist
Sergei Lukianenko (both subtitled in English, Spanish and French).
Extras on the English side will include an extended ending (with
optional subtitled commentary), an additional extended ending (The
Roof), and the Night Watch Trilogy
featurette. We'll post cover art as soon as it's available. Night
Watch is a pretty great little film - well worth seeing. We
can't wait for the DVD release. You read my comments about the film
Okay... now Matt and I are off to go catch a retro screening of Army
of Darkness. How cool is that? Don't forget, there's a new
South Park tonight - part two of
last week's episode.
See you tomorrow!
(LATE UPDATE - 4/12/06 -
1:30 PM PDT)
Just a quick last update this afternoon...
we predicted last week, Lionsgate has officially confirmed that
they're going to be delaying their first two waves of Blu-ray Disc
titles. Their first wave (Crash,
Lord of War, The
Punisher, Saw and Terminator
2: Judgment Day), which had previously been announced for
release on 5/23, will now be released on 6/27. Their second wave of
titles (The Devil's Rejects, Reservoir
Dogs, Total Recall,
Stargate and Frank
Herbert's Dune), which had been expected on 6/13, will be
delayed until probably July (they'll be re-announced at a later date).
So there you go. The delay is designed to better coordinate Lionsgate's
high-def movie software with the U.S. debut of the first Blu-ray Disc
player - Samsung's BD-P1000 - now set for 6/25. You can read additional
Business. As you'd expect, our
Release List has been updated to reflect this.
Can't say we didn't warn ya.
(LATE UPDATE - 4/12/06 -
11 AM PDT)
Disney has just announced the DVD release of the Academy Award winner
for Best Foreign Language Film, Tsotsi,
on 7/18. We expect to have more details soon.
predicted, Universal has finally officially announced their first
three HD-DVD titles for release later this month. "Wave 1"
(due next week on 4/18 - SRP $34.98) will include Joss Whedon's Serenity.
"Wave 2" (following on 4/25 - also SRP $34.98) will include
Ron Howard's Apollo 13 and Andrzej
Bartkowiak's Doom: Unrated Extended Edition.
All three releases will be "HD-30" (single-sided) format, and
will include English, French and Spanish audio in English Dolby Digital
Plus 5.1 Surround, with English SDH and French and Spanish subtitles.
Additional extras, if any, are TBA. We've updated our
Release List accordingly.
Here's a look at the official cover art...
(EARLY UPDATE - 4/12/06 -
12:01 AM PDT)
We have an update from our industry sources as to the status of 20th
Century Fox's yet-to-be-announced Blu-ray Disc release plans. You'll
find that in
Rumor Mill this morning.
While we're talking Fox, you should be aware that readers are reporting
that SOME copies of the studio's recent Mel
Brooks Collection DVD box set contain a version of Young
Frankenstein that's non-anamorphic widescreen, while other
copies contain an anamorphic widescreen version. All of the films in the
set SHOULD be anamorphic widescreen. If you get a non-anamorphic copy of
the film in your set, we suggest you take it back to the retailer it was
purchased from and try to exchange for one with the correct version.
We're trying to determine if there's any way to identify the correct
version on the outside of the package. If there is, we'll let you know.
By the way, we should also let you know that the set includes the
movie-only version of Blazing Saddles,
so don't sell your existing 30th Anniversary
Special Edition thinking you'll get a even trade-up on the
Meanwhile, Genius Products and The Weinstein Company have announced the
release of The Libertine on DVD
for 6/27 (SRP $28.99). The film will be available in anamorphic
widescreen format only.
Universal has announced an NBC TV series title that I can't imagine
anyone but those who have appeared on it would want to own... Fear
Factor: The First Season. I guess if you like watching people
eat bugs, you'll have a blast when the set hits stores on 6/27. Also
newly announced by Uni are Stoned
(for 7/4) and Mee-Shee: The Water Giant
(7/25). And still I keep asking, where's more Baa
Baa Black Sheep?
Here's a nifty bit of news: While we don't have specific release dates
yet, you 007 fans will certainly be interested to know that Sony's new
Fun with Dick and Jane DVD
includes a teaser trailer for a "coming soon" re-release of
the Bond films on disc, recently acquired as part of the MGM catalog.
I'll bet good money that you'll see at least a few Bond flicks on
Blu-ray Disc before the end of the year as well. Thanks to Bits
reader Zac F. for that eagle-eyed spot!
On the UMD front this morning, Sony's The
Pink Panther (2006), recently announced for release on DVD on
6/13, will be debut on the UMD format that same day.
Finally this morning, speaking of UMD, you should be aware that Warner
seems to have quietly cancelled all of their remaining,
previously-announced releases on the format. Affected titles include
and Scooby-Doo: The Movie
(previously announced for 4/4), NBA Furious
Finishes and NBA
Hardwood Classics: Michael Jordan: His Airness
(previously announced for 4/18), Ocean's
Eleven (previously announced for 5/9), and True
Romance and The Matrix Reloaded
(previously announced for 6/6). We updated the
Release List with all of the above news accordingly.
We've got a pair of interesting new standard DVD release announcements
to report this morning from 20th Century Fox. The studio has revealed
that they'll bow Mark Robson's Valley of the
Dolls: Special Edition and Russ Meyer's Beyond
the Valley of the Dolls on 6/13. Each will be a 2-disc set
(SRP $26.98 each). Valley of the Dolls
will include the film with audio commentary by Alonso Duralde, a second
commentary with members of the cast, Gotta
Get off this Merry-Go-Round: Sex, Dolls and Showtunes, Pill
Pop-Up Karaoke: Follow the Bouncing Doll, The
Divine Ms. Susann, Doll-a-Palooza:
Addicts Forum a Go-Go, Translate
French Porn Movies, a What's My
Line? episode, screen test footage for several cast members,
trailers and TV spots, archival featurettes and much more. Meanwhile,
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls
will include audio commentary with screenwriter and film critic Roger
Ebert, a second commentary with the cast, Above,
Beneath and Beyond the Valley, Look
on Up at the Bottom, The Best of
Beyond: Psychedelic Scrapbook, Sex,
Drugs, Music & Murder: Signs of the Time, Baby, Z-Man's
Far Out Party Favors, event footage from S. Perry-Z-man's
boobs, trailers and TV spots, more screen test footage, an archival
promotional piece and more. Here's the cover art for both titles...
As you can see, Fox has also announced a new Betty
Grable Collection, Volume 1 for release on 6/13 (SRP $59.98),
that will include My Blue Heaven,
The Dolly Sisters, Moon
over Miami and Down Argentine Way.
Also today, Paramount has announced a new What's
Eating Gilbert Grape: Special Collector's Edition for release
on 6/20. The film will be presented in anamorphic widescreen video with
Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include audio commentary by
director Lasse Hallstrom and writer Peter Hedges, 3 featurettes (The
Characters of Gilbert Grape, The
Voice of Gilbert Grape and Why We
Love Gilbert Grape) and the film's theatrical trailer.
Here's cover art for that, along with Paramount's Strangers
with Candy: The Complete Series (6/27) and Rawhide:
The Complete First Season (7/25)...
While we're showing you cover art, we've got three more pieces of
Blu-ray Disc art for you this morning from Sony (and MGM). Here's a look
at Species, The
Terminator and Stealth,
all due on 6/13.
And while we're on the subject of Blu-ray Disc, we've gotten an update
from our industry sources on that possible delay
mentioned last week in the release of Lionsgate's first titles on
the format. You'll find that in
Rumor Mill, along with word on a new DVD special edition that
Paramount's working on.
Finally this morning, we've updated our
DVD Player Sales numbers to include the players shipped into
retail in the third and fourth weeks of March. All charts have been
Whew! Not bad for one morning. Okay, back to work with you.
(LATE UPDATE - 4/10/06 -
12:15 PM PDT)
We've got a quick update for you this morning... Sony has officially
announced the DVD release of filmmaker Eugene Jarecki's Why
We Fight on 6/20 (SRP $24.96). I have to say, this
documentary is both fascinating and deeply unsettling... and yet
surprisingly even-handed. The whole premise of the film evolved from a
stern warning that then-outgoing Republican President (and former WWII
Army General) Dwight D. Eisenhower gave in a speech in 1961, about the
dangerous potential impact the "military-industrial complex"
could have on the future of our nation, both in terms of politics and
daily life. It won the Grand Jury prize at last year's Sundance Film
Festival, and it's one of the most interesting films I saw all last
year. The DVD release will include extended scenes, the Military
Industrial Complex: A Brief History of Time featurette and
audio commentary with Jarecki. You can visit the film's website
Also today, Genuis Products has announced the DVD release of The
Weinstein Company's TransAmerica,
directed by Duncan Tucker and staring Felicity Huffman, for 5/23 (SRP
And 20th Century Fox has officially confirmed the release of the recent
The Hills Have Eyes remake on
6/20. Look for the release to include audio commentary with director
Alexandre Aja, a production diary, the Surviving
the Hills: Making the Hills Have Eyes featurette and The
Finalist's Leave the Broken Hearts
Before we go, we've announced a trio of new
today, giving each of you the chance to win copies of Warner's
Season Two, Volume One and
The Complete Third Season, along with Mute UK's
Moby: Live -
Hotel Tour 2006. How's that for a diverse trio of discs? The
contests will run until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, April 23rd. Click on
the links to get started and good luck!
(EARLY UPDATE - 4/10/06
- 11 AM PDT)
Morning, all. We've got a few new DVD announcements to report for you
First up, Sony has announced a trio of new TV DVDs, including Newsradio:
The Complete Fourth Season, King
of Queens: The Complete Fifth Season and Married...
with Children: The Complete Fifth Season, all for release on
Fox has set Imagine Me and You
for release on 6/27.
And Paramount has set Rawhide: The Complete
First Season for release on 7/25.
There's a hint in their latest newsletter that The Criterion Collection
is going to be getting a graphic make-over soon (think new logo), and
will be announcing a new line of DVD releases as well. Should be
interesting to see what they have up their sleeves.
Meanwhile, on the high-def front, Universal still has yet to officially
announce their first, already confirmed to retailers HD-DVD titles (as
of this morning), but when they do announce them, expect them to carry a
banner that looks a little something like this...
We'll leave you this morning with some new cover artwork. Here's Sony's
Black Hawk Down: Extended Cut
(6/6) and When a Stranger Calls
(5/16), along with MGM's Platoon: 20th
Anniversary Edition (5/30)...
(LATE UPDATE - 4/7/06 - 5
We've got one last thing to share with you today... new cover art for
more of Sony's upcoming Blu-ray Disc titles (along with a couple new DVD
covers too). Here's Kung-Fu Hustle,
and Legends of the Fall (all
Blu-ray titles, due on 6/13), along with Fox's Charlie
Chan Collection: Volume 1 box set (due 6/20) and temp art for
Disney's The Little Mermaid: Special Edition
Okay... NOW we're done for the day. Have a great weekend!
(LATE UPDATE - 4/7/06 - 1
We've gotten word that Magnolia has set The
World's Fastest Indian for release on 6/13.
Also, we've gotten confirmation from our sources today on those initial
Universal HD-DVD release dates - those are the dates the studio is
giving to retailers, even though the titles have yet to appear on their
press website. So we feel comfortable updating our
Release List accordingly (the updates are in ORANGE
And speaking of high-definition releases, we've learned that a number
of them are finally (actually) available for pre-order at Amazon.com,
including Sony's first wave of Blu-ray Disc titles. Keep in mind that
doing so through our links (below) helps to support our going work here
at The Bits (and we appreciate
it). We're updating the links from all our cover art as well. Here's a
list of what's now available, for those eager to get them ordered:
Warner HD-DVD titles:
of the Opera (2004)
Universal HD-DVD titles:
Sony Blu-ray Disc titles:
of Flying Daggers,
of the Fall,
MGM Blu-ray Disc titles:
Lionsgate Blu-ray Disc titles:
2: Judgment Day
Goldhil Entertainment titles:
HD-DVD Digital Reference Series Edition
Blu-ray Disc Digital Reference Series Edition
Back Monday! Stay tuned...
(EARLY UPDATE -
4/7/06 - 1 AM PDT)
Anyone out there anticipating the opportunity to compare the same movie
titles in both HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc formats? You'll likely get the
chance this summer. In a new
Business story confirming that Samsung's first Blu-ray Disc
players will be pushed back until June 25th, Warner Home Video's Steve
Nickerson suggested that his studio will likely have their first Blu-ray
titles available around the same time. He also noted that there would be
"some overlap" with the titles it releases on HD-DVD, several
of which should already be available in April and May. It's worth noting
that I was able to confirm with WHV execs,
their 2006 catalog slate event in January, that the studio has no
plans to favor one format over the other. All titles they release should
(eventually) be available on both HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc. If Warner is
already planning to have Blu-ray Disc titles available by June, you can
bet a lot of people (ourselves included here at The
Bits) are going to be very eager to start directly comparing
similar titles across both formats. At which point, this format war is
gonna get a lot more interesting...
This next bit would normally go in The Rumor
Mill so do take it in that context. Our sources are
suggesting that Lionsgate may delay their already announced slate of
Blu-ray Disc releases (currently due on 5/23 and 6/13) until later in
June, to coincide with Samsung's new player release date. Note that I
said MAY. A lot is obviously in flux at the moment with regard to the
high-def formats. As of yesterday afternoon, Lionsgate's plans were
officially unchanged. Sony still plans to have their first Blu-ray Disc
titles available on 5/23 as well, regardless of player availability.
We'll update you if any of this changes.
By the way, we're also being told that Universal is very close to
announcing their first wave of HD-DVD titles, expected to include Serenity
on 4/18, with Apollo 13 and Doom:
Unrated Edition following a week later on 4/25 (SRP $34.98
each). These dates are already starting to appear on various online
retail stores, including Amazon.com. Consider all of it rumor, however,
until the studio gives the official word. You can be sure we'll let you
Finally this morning, in a
Mill follow-up from yesterday, there are trailers for The
Little Mermaid: Special Edition (due 10/3) on several of
Disney's recent DVD releases. However, specific details as to the extras
are still yet to be announced by the studio. We probably should have
posted the information in here in the daily column rather than in The
Rumor Mill to avoid confusion, but now you know. Yes the
title is official, but the features are still TBA.
Well... gotta tell you, today is a terribly slow news day. Just not
much happening in the DVD world this afternoon, announcement-wise. So
I'm going to take the day to continue working on a new feature here at
The Bits that we hope to launch
next week. 'Nuff said for now.
We do have some interesting news for you on the extras you can expect
on Disney's forthcoming The Little Mermaid:
Special Edition, planned for release later this year (on
10/3). You'll find that in
Rumor Mill today.
Also today, we're pleased as punch to present you with another fine
Electric Theatre, featuring Adam's thoughts on Slither,
Inside Man and Thank
You for Smoking (now playing at your local google-plex),
along with Proof and October
Sky (on DVD). Enjoy!
On a final note today, while there might not be a lot of DVD news,
there is some interesting TV news...
Galactica and South Park have both just won well-deserved
Peabody Awards. We gladly doff our caps to the creative staffers
of both series. Bravo!
We'll be back tomorrow with more. Stay tuned...
Afternoon, folks. We've got some DVD release news to report today.
20th Century Fox has announced the release of The
Omen: Collector's Edition for 6/20 (SRP $26.98). The 2-disc
set will include the film in anamorphic widescreen video, with English
Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo and the original English, French and Spanish
mono. Extras will include audio commentary director Richard Donner and
editor Stuart Baird, a second commentary with Donner and writer/director
Brian Helgeland, 6 featurettes (including Curse
or Coincidence, Jerry Goldsmith on
the Omen Score, 666: The Omen
Revealed, The Omen Legacy,
David Seltzer on Writing The Omen
and An Appreciation: Wes Craven on The Omen),
an introduction to the film by Donner, a deleted scene, a stills gallery
and the film's theatrical trailer.
Also coming from Fox on 4/25 (SRP $29.98) is Tristan
+ Isolde, which will include anamorphic widescreen and full
frame video, Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 audio, audio commentary by
executive producer Jim Lemley and co-producer Anne Lai, a "making-of"
featurette, a stills gallery and Gavin de Graw's We
Belong Together music video.
Meanwhile, New Line has announced the DVD release of a 2-disc Final
Destination 3: Trill Ride Edition for 7/25 (SRP $29.93). The
film will be available in separate full frame and anamorphic widescreen
versions, each with Dolby Digital 5.1 EX and DTS 6.1 ES audio. Extras
will include the Choose-Their-Fate
interactive viewing option, audio commentary by director and co-writer
James Wong, co-writer Glen Morgan and director of photography Robert
Mclachlan, the Kill Shot: The Making of Final
Destination 3 documentary, the It's
All Around You animated short, 2 featurettes (Dead
Teenager Movie and Planned
Accidents), a deleted scene and the film's theatrical
trailer. I'll tell you, I haven't seen this film yet, but I didn't
realize that Wong and Morgan were behind it. That alone is enough to
make me want to give it a spin. By the way, also on 7/25, you'll also be
able to purchase a Final Destination Thrill-ogy"
3-Pack of all three films in the series on disc (SRP $59.85).
Here's cover art for all three of the titles we just mentioned...
Now then... last night, Matt and I had the chance to take in a
screening of Ridley Scott's extended cut of Kingdom
of Heaven at the Arclight in Hollywood (hosted by our friends
over at Collider.com).
Let me tell you, you just haven't really seen this film yet. If you've
review of the 144-minute theatrical cut on DVD, or my initial
comments about the film from last year, you'll know that while I really
wanted to like Kingdom of Heaven,
I felt that there was just too much missing from the story. Too many
thing happened too quickly to the character of Balian (Orlando Bloom),
and so many of the other characters either lacked motivation or had
unresolved stories when the film concluded. At the time, I noted that
over 40 minutes had actually been trimmed out of Scott's original cut of
the film in order to create a version that the studio considered more
theater-friendly. Well, let me tell you, those cuts REALLY hurt this
film. I couldn't make myself give the theatrical cut more than a C+. It
was a beautifully-lensed, but woefully incomplete story. This new
191-minute extended cut, on the other hand, is a truly great piece of
work. I'd give it an A-, maybe even a solid A.
Finally, you understand more of what motivated Balian - you see more of
his life and circumstances in France. You see his wife briefly in
Balian's memory, and understand his grief better. You learn that he's
fought in war previously, and was an experienced engineer, so his
cleverness later in defending Jerusalem makes more sense. You learn more
of Godfrey of Ibelin (Liam Neeson)'s own connections to Balian's home
and his village, and why he would not only return to find Balian (his
son) but also why the local lord's men would attack them later (it's
another family connection). The animosity between Balian and his
brother, a local priest, is shown in greater clarity. Once Balian
arrives in the Holy Land, you learn that Sibylla's marriage to Guy de
Lusignan is really one of convenience only, which puts Sibylla and
Balian's romantic relationship into better context. You learn that
Sibylla has a son (who was completely cut out of the theatrical
version), and that her love of her son motivates almost every action she
takes (which in turn makes sense out of her bizarre behavior late in the
film). You see more of Balian's interactions with King Baldwin, and
their developing respect for one another. And, at last, you not only
understand why Guy de Lusignan hates Balian (it isn't just about
Sibylla), but their animosity for one another actually pays off in a
final confrontation that, again, is completely missing from the
I can't stress enough how different this version of the film is, and
how much better and more rewarding an experience it becomes, with the
restoration of the trimmed minutes. The 191-minute cut makes its home
video debut on Fox's forthcoming 4-disc Kingdom
of Heaven: Extended Edition (due in stores on 5/23 -
here at Amazon.com), and as far as I'm concerned, it's worth
owning just for this cut of the film alone. Add to that what promises to
be an outstanding batch of special features (produced by Scott's
longtime DVD producer, Charles de Lauzirika, and his team), and it's not
to be missed.
(LATE UPDATE - 4/4/06
- 11 AM PDT)
We've got a quick news update for you today.
First, we have word that Samsung has decided to delay the release of
its first Blu-ray Disc player, the BD-P1000 (retail price around $999),
from May 23rd to June 25th. The company reportedly wants to better test
its compatibility with the first batch of Blu-ray Disc software titles.
And on the HD-DVD front, it looks as if Toshiba's advertising blitz has
officially begun. I was listening to my Sirius satellite radio this
morning, and heard an ad spot telling me to "Buy a Toshiba HD-DVD
player before May 31st and get a $20 DVD coupon! Toshiba HD-DVD - in
stores now!" Well, in stores now... give or take a few weeks. Guess
the coupon means we won't get a bundled HD-DVD title here in the States?
By the way, we've learned that Toshiba expects to launch HD-DVD in
Canada this month as well. Both the HD-A1 and HD-XA1 will be available
later in April up in the Great White North (for approximately $699 and
$999, respectively). Just FYI. Click
to read the press release.
Also... a quick follow-up on a title we reported on the other day. Echo
Bridge is releasing Hallmark Entertainment's The
Poseidon Adventure (as seen on NBC in November) on 5/9. This
is apparently just a price drop/re-promotion of the original DVD release
from 2/7/06 (the price is dropping from $28.98 to $14.99).
(EARLY UPDATE - 4/4/06 -
12:01 AM PDT)
We're pleased today to bring you
new edition of Barrie Maxwell's Classic Coming Attractions
column here at The Bits. In
today's installment, Barrie reviews 14 new and recent classic DVDs (some
21 films and TV series in all), including 20th Century Fox's
on Telegraph Hill,
Way Out and
and Bathsheba, Grapevine Video's
Luck/Up in the Air double feature, Paramount's
Andy Griffith Show: The Complete Fifth Season,
17: Special Collector's Edition and
Ten Commandments: 50th Anniversary Collector's Edition,
Abbott and Costello Show: Volumes One and
Cowboy: Collector's Edition and Universal's
Lombard: The Glamour Collection box set. As always, he also
runs down the latest classic release announcements. Enjoy!
Sony has announced more DVD releases today. First up, Boondocks:
The Complete First Season, the Pink
Panther: Classic Cartoon Collection, Volume 4 - Swingin' in the Pink,
the Sandler Collection box set
(including Mr. Deeds, Big
Daddy and 50 First Dates)
and repackaged versions of all eight seasons of Stargate
SG-1 will all street on 6/13.
On the UMD front, Sony has announced Boondocks:
The Complete First Season, Anger
Management and The Princess Bride
for 6/13 as well. We've updated our
Release List accordingly.
Also, while we knew they were coming, Sony has finally (officially)
announced to retailers its second wave of Blu-ray Disc releases for
6/13, including Kung Fu Hustle,
Legends of the Fall, Species
and The Terminator (the last two
titles for MGM).
Meanwhile, we've gotten word from Goldhil Entertainment that their Chronos:
HD-DVD Digital Reference Series Edition, which had been set
for release on 3/28, is now expected to street on either 4/18 or 4/25.
Goldhil, like the rest of the industry it seems, is waiting on players
to be available before streeting titles on HD-DVD. We'll post the final
street date when it's official (our
Release List has been updated).
Speaking of high-def, we have cover artwork for you today for all of
Lionsgate's 5/23 Blu-ray Disc releases, including Crash,
Lord of War, The
Punisher, Saw and Terminator
2: Judgment Day. Here you go...
In other news today, Universal is reporting that it sold a whopping 6.5
million copies of Peter Jackson's King Kong
on DVD in its first week of availability (click
here for more from Home Media Retailing).
Guess all those people who didn't go see the film in theaters last year
were just waiting for the disc. Speaking of which - and this is Rumor
Mill-worthy so take it accordingly - Jackson has confirmed in
recent interviews that Universal plans to release a more elaborate 3 or
4 disc version of the film on DVD later in 2006. Apparently his audio
commentary, several deleted scenes and other choice extras have been
deliberately held back for inclusion the better version. Just FYI.
By the way, while it's not specifically DVD-related, you may have heard
that a lot of the studios today began offering their films for broadband
download over the Internet. Universal, Warner Bros., MGM, Sony, 20th
Century Fox and Paramount will all offer their films via Movielink,
while Sony, MGM and Lionsgate will deliver them through CinemaNow.
Prices per film are generally comparable to (or less than) DVD and will
be available on the same day as the DVD version. If you download them
from Movielink, you'll be able to copy them to two other computers and
make a DVD backup (but one that's only playable on your computer - not
your regular DVD player). CinemaNow downloads will only be playable on
the computer you first downloaded them onto for now. You can read more
at Video Business.
What I find most interesting about these "legal" movie
downloading services is the timing for their debut. They're starting up
just as both high-definition videodisc formats are preparing to make
their big launches. There's been a lot of talk in the industry about how
the future of enjoying movies at home is Video-on-Demand rather than
packaged media. So is this timing a coincidence? Maybe, maybe not. In
any case, while we're not terribly interested in downloading movies here
at The Bits (we prefer the
freedom, superior quality, personal control of content and special
features that discs offer), you certainly can't say that the studios
haven't been trying to provide consumers with a lot of choices. Maybe
too many... DVD, UMD, downloading, cable and satellite VOD, HD-DVD,
Blu-ray. Tell you what, if I were a theater owner, I'd be more than a
little concerned about the future of my business right now.
(LATE UPDATE - 4/3/06 -
12:30 PM PDT)
We posted a few new Sony announcements earlier this morning, but we
wanted to let you know that Sony has also just announced the DVD release
of a new The Princess Bride: Collector's
Edition on 6/13 (SRP $24.96). The 2-disc set will include
anamorphic widescreen video and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will
start with those that were on MGM's previous special edition release
(including audio commentary with director Rob Reiner, audio commentary
with writer/screenwriter William Goldman, the As
You Wish: The Story of The Princess Bride documentary, Cary
Elwes home movies, the original 1987 The
Making of the Princess Bride featurette, another vintage
making-of documentary and the original theatrical trailer). You'll also
get all-new content, including the Dread
Pirate Roberts: Greatest Legend of the Seven Seas featurette,
the Love is like a Storybook Story
documentary, the Miraculous Make-up
featurette, The Quotable Battle of Wits
trivia game and the 8-page Fezzik's Guide to
Florin booklet. The Princess Bride
is a title I'd like to see on Blu-ray Disc, but one unfortunately hasn't
been announced as yet (hint, hint). FYI, the packaging will be available
in two versions: Buttercup and the Dread Pirate Roberts. Here's a look
As you can see, we've also posted the cover artwork for Paramount's
Ren & Stimpy: The Lost Episodes
(formerly Adult Party Cartoon from
Spike TV) due on 7/18. The 2-disc set will include 198 minutes worth of
unrated episodes, along with 17 animatcs, 3 pencil tests (including Naked
Beach Frenzy), tons of model sheets and background art, and
the rough cut of Ren Seeks Help.
Also newly announced by Paramount is director Doug Pray's documentary
on the grunge movement, Hype! (due
on 7/18), as well as Laguna Beach: The
Complete Second Season (due on 7/25).
And Echo Bridge has just set Human
Trafficking and Mystery Woman:
Mystery Weekend for release on 5/2, with The
Poseidon Adventure (as seen on NBC in November) following on
By the way, don't forget that Toshiba wraps up its cross-country HD-DVD
tour over the next couple weeks with demo dates in Pennsylvania and
here and click "HD-DVD Tour" to see the exact store
(EARLY UPDATE - 4/3/06
- 12:01 AM PDT)
Well, it's back to the old grind for another week. Hope you all had a
great, fun, relaxing or at least tolerable weekend. Mine was spent doing
things around the house, 'cause you know... hanging that new mirror in
the bathroom for my wife was only going to wait so long, you know?
By the way, I should have mentioned on Friday that this weekend was
Daylight Savings/clock forward an hour time here in the States (or most
of them at any rate). Man, I HATE losing an hour. I'm routinely up until
like 2 AM every night anyway, what with working on the website and all
(it's just a nice, quiet time to get a lot of work done). But man... I'm
doing my thing in the wee hours of Sunday morning there, and suddenly -
WHAM - I look up and it's like 4 AM. Ouch. Even for a night owl like me,
it kinda blows to be going to bed as the sun's rising. Ah well.
Anyway, speaking of Friday, I assume you all saw the late-breaking
news. But if you didn't, Toshiba officially began
selling its HD-XA1 HD-DVD player in Japan on Friday. The HD-XA1,
along with the HD-A1, will be available here in the States sometime in
the next 3 or 4 weeks (the HD-A1 isn't being released in Japan, by the
way). For those of you wondering what people might be playing on their
brand new HD-XA1s, according to Toshiba's press release:
"Initial shipments of HD-AX1, until April
27, will bundle two complimentary HD DVD movie discs, Resident Evil
and a Japanese film, Moonlight Jellyfish." A nice
touch - hats off to Toshiba on that. Gotta give the people SOMETHING to
watch, right? Wonder if they'll do that here in the States too...
By the way, I just can't make myself call the format HD DVD, sans the
dash. Something seems cosmically more correct about typing "HD-DVD."
So that's what we're going to do here at The
Bits. What can I tell you? It's just the way we roll.
Some specs to keep in mind about the HD-XA1: It will output video in
480i, 480p, 720p and 1080i resolutions, and will play audio in Dolby
Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital-Plus 5.1, Dolby TrueHD (2-channel
only), DTS-HD 5.1 and L-PCM 5.1 formats. Also, in addition to HD-DVD and
DVD-Video (and hybrids thereof), it will play DVD-RAM, DVD-RW, DVD-R,
music CD, CD-R and CD-RW format media.
Now then... back to regular DVD news, we've got a few new announcements
to report for you this morning.
First up, Sony will release their recent When
a Stranger Calls on DVD on 5/16. The studio has also set The
Three Burials of Melquiades for release on 6/6. And just
announced for release on 6/13 is The Pink
Panther - the new version, starring Steve Martin.
Meanwhile, Paramount has set Perry Mason:
Season One, Volume One for release on 7/11 (5 discs
containing the first 19 episodes... and lots more to follow, you can be
Home Vision has the German film Boat is Full
due on 6/27.
Genius Products has announced the animated Doogal
for release on 5/16.
And, on the topic of animation, Sony Music has set The
Best of Boris and Natasha: Volume 1 for release on 5/9.
By the way... while we're talking about upcoming DVDs, here's a new
cover I'll bet a few of you have been looking forward to seeing: Fox's
Boston Legal: Season One (due on
5/23). You'll also find the final cover art for Neil
Young: Heart of Gold and The Dean
Martin and Jerry Lewis Collection: Volume One box set from
Paramount (both 6/13):
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