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(Archived Posts 6/8/06 - 5/19/06)
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UPDATE - 6/8/06 - 5:30 PM PDT)
We covered high-def in our earlier post today, so now it's time for a
standard DVD release news update. There's certainly plenty of it, so
here goes (in no particular order)...
First up, New Line has set Hoot
for release on 8/15. The DVD will include anamorphic widescreen video,
Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, commentary with director Wil Shriner and Carl
Hiaasen, 6 behind-the-scenes featurettes, a blooper reel and a trio of
interactive "animal" games.
Universal has revealed the "forthcoming" DVD release of Inside
Man. We don't have an official street date yet, but we expect
it to arrive sometime around 8/8. The title will be available in both
anamorphic widescreen and full frame (SRP $28.98 each). A Backdraft:
Anniversary Edition is currently set for release on 9/12 (SRP
$19.98), along with Bad City and
Las Vegas: Season Three. The
previously announced Boris Karloff,
Chucky and Inner
Sanctum Mysteries collections follow on 9/16. Kevin Bacon's
Loverboy is now set for release on
9/26. One last Universal update... the street date for the Double
Indemnity: Special Edition has now been moved up a week from
8/29 to 8/22.
Sony has revealed that they'll release L'enfant
(The Child) on 8/15, along with
The Flying Nun: The Complete Second Season
and The Jeffersons: The Complete Fifth Season.
On 8/8, look for Don't Come Knocking
and Beautiful People: The Complete Series.
Also, as you might have guessed based on the Blu-ray Disc release date,
The Benchwarmers is due on 7/25.
Those hoping for new UMD news from Sony will be comforted to learn that
the studio will release The Benchwarners
on 7/25 and Leon: The Professional
on 8/15. We've updated the
Release List accordingly.
20th Century Fox, meanwhile, has added Arrested
Development: Season Three to its 8/29 release slate. Prison
Break: Season One arrives on 8/8. Fox has also announced a
decent September DVD slate, set to include Frankenstein
Unbound, a Shock Treatment:
Special Edition, a Rocky Horror
Picture Show/Shock Treatment 2-pack, Jesse
James (1939), The Return of Frank
James (1940) and The True Story of
Jesse James (1957) on 9/5, Black.
White., The Laurel & Hardy
Collection: Volume 2 (including A-Haunting
We Will Go, The Dancing Masters
and Bullfighters), Cameron
Diaz: The Celebrity Pack (including In
Her Shoes, There's Something About
Mary and A Life Less Ordinary),
Martin Lawrence: The Celebrity Pack
(including Big Momma's House: Special Edition,
Rebound and Black
Knight), Michael Douglas: The
Celebrity Pack (including Don't
Say a Word, Wall Street
and War of the Roses), Sandra
Bullock: The Celebrity Pack (including Speed,
Hope Floats and Love
Potion #9), a Taps: 25th
Anniversary Edition and the new 2-disc DVDs of Star
Wars - Episode IV: A New Hope, Episode
V: The Empire Strikes Back and Episode
VI: Return of the Jedi on 9/12, Bob
Newhart: Button Down Concert and The
Family Guy: Volume 2 on 9/19, and finally Behind
Enemy Lines II: Axis of Evil and a Behind
Enemy Lines Box Set (containing both the sequel and the
original) on 9/26.
Buena Vista will release Dimension and Miramax's Scary
Movie 4: Unrated & Uncensored on 8/15 (SRP 29.95). Both
full frame and anamorphic widescreen versions of the 91-minute extended
cut DVD will be available, as well as a full frame 84-minute theatrical
cut DVD. All three will include 15 deleted and extended scenes with
optional director's commentary, bloopers, audio commentary with director
David Zucker and others, 6 behind-the-scenes featurettes, the film's NBA
TV spot and more.
Moving on today, you fans of classic Saturday morning fare will be
pleased to learn that BCI Eclipse is releasing Prince
Valiant on 7/4, and both She Ra
Princess of Power and Ultra Man
on 7/18! Prince Valiant will be a
5-disc set containing the first 33 episodes, along with "interviews
with the creators and directors, episode specific commentary and a
slideshow gallery of the Humanities award-winning episode The
Flute." She Ra Princess of
Power is a 2-disc set due to contain the "top five fan
selected episodes, the Secret of the Sword
theatrical film, the I Have the Power
music video as well as Easter eggs and commentary from the creators. The
custom packaging includes never before seen art card renderings from
renowned comic artists Brandon Peterson and Joe Chiodo." Finally,
Ultra Man will include 20 uncut
and remastered episodes on 3 discs, with audio available in both the
original Japanese (with English subtitles) and dubbed English (as
originally recorded by the U.S. voice cast of Speed
Finally today, Paramount has set Beavis &
Butt-head: The Mike Judge Collection - Volume 3 for release
on 8/1. Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector
follows a week later on 8/8, along with Laguna
Beach: Season Two. New catalog single-disc releases of Some
Kind of Wonderful and Pretty in
Pink arrive on DVD on 8/29 (extras, if any, are still TBA).
We'll be back tomorrow with those new columns and still more new DVD
release news. Also, just to let you know, we have a new Upcoming
DVD Cover Art section update in the works, to be posted once
the server move is complete.
(LATE UPDATE - 6/8/06 - 1
Okay... we've just posted
complete transcript of the online chat that our friends over at
Home Theater Forum held with representatives of Warner Home
Video on Tuesday night. As expected, there's some great information
contained in the chat. Among the big news revealed is that Warner will
be releasing all of the classic King Features Popeye
cartoons on DVD in 2007. This will include all of the original
theatrical shorts made from 1933 to 1957, along with the more recent
made-for-TV shorts seen in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. They are also
announcing disc replacement programs for The
Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 2 (Disc 4 - some of
the shorts were included in interlaced rather than progressive video
format) and also the Tom and Jerry Spotlight
Collection: Volume 2 (some of the shorts were the censored
versions and should have been uncensored). They also expect to have an
exchange program in place for the censored discs in Tom
and Jerry Spotlight Collection: Volume 1 soon (we'll post the
details of these exchange programs as soon as they're available). You'll
quick summary of the information learned at the end of the chat.
is reporting that Universal currently plans to street Battlestar
Galactica: Season 2.5 on 9/19, featuring the second half of
the show's sophomore season (episodes 11-20). Look for the set to
include over 10 hours of exclusive bonus content (including deleted
scenes and producer Ron Moore's "podcast" commentaries), as
well as the extended version of the mid-season finale episode Pegasus.
Video will be anamorphic widescreen with audio in Dolby Digital 5.1.
Keep in mind that this information has yet to be officially announced,
so consider it Rumor Mill worthy
in the meantime.
(EARLY UPDATE - 6/8/06 -
12:15 PM PDT)
We start today with news that Toshiba has officially announced the
first firmware update for its HD-A1, HD-XA1 and HD-D1 HD-DVD players
(the HD-D1 is the all-black Wal-Mart version of the HD-A1). This update
is V1.2, and it reportedly "addresses certain disc playback and
HDMI/DVI issues identified by Toshiba." This includes the problems
many (including us here at The Bits)
have had with discs freezing, skipping and losing audio sync during
playback, as well as issues of poor HDMI connectivity with HD monitors
and projectors. You can find the official details
Toshiba's HD-DVD website (look under "Support"). The
firmware update is available either via the player's Ethernet connection
(see your player's manual and follow the instructions carefully - it
takes about 30 minutes to download and install) or you can request a
firmware update disc via the mail-in card that came with your player
(you can also call 800-319-6684 if you have any questions). I'll be
personally trying the update tonight and then testing it over the
weekend as we complete a bunch of in-progress HD-DVD reviews. I'll let
you know how (and if) it works on Monday. Early reports from a couple of
our readers, however, are that it's a pretty effective fix.
Speaking of HD-DVD, Warner has officially announced the 6/13 release of
16 Blocks on the format as an
HD-DVD/DVD combo disc (SRP $39.99), day and date with regular DVD. We've
Release List accordingly.
Meanwhile, Pioneer has revealed that they're delaying the debut of
their BDP-HD1 Blu-ray Disc player until September to allow for more
compatibility testing with software. The company is also dropping the
expected retail price from $1,800 to $1,500. The player had initially
been expected to street this month. Sony has also delayed their first
Blu-ray Disc player, the BDP-S1, until August for similar reasons.
However, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is moving ahead with plans to
begin releasing the first Blu-ray Disc movie titles later this month,
for use in compatible PC and laptop Blu-ray drives, which will be
available this summer.
While we're talking Sony's Blu-ray Disc releases, we should inform you
that the company has just announced the release of The
Benchwarmers on 7/25 (day and date with regular DVD), with
the catalog titles The Big Hit,
Black Hawk Down, Memento,
Sense and Sensibility following on
8/15. They've also delayed the new Underworld:
Evolution Blu-ray Disc from its original 6/6 release date to
Also, Sony BMG Music Entertainment has revealed that it expects to
release its first two music titles on Blu-ray Disc format sometime this
summer (the specific dates are still TBA). These include Rod
Stewart: Live at Royal Albert Hall and John
Legend: Live at the House of Blues. Again, we've updated the
Release List accordingly.
Back with more shortly. Stay tuned...
(EARLY UPDATE - 6/8/06 -
11 AM PDT)
Okay... looks like we're back and good to go. The server move is still
ongoing (we expect it to be completed this weekend), but we at least
have upload access to update the site again. So we'll be making multiple
posts today and tomorrow to catch up on all the latest DVD and HD news.
We'll also be posting those new columns from Barrie and Adam. And watch
for the HTF Warner chat transcript
to go live shortly. Thanks for your patience as we get back to normal
around here - it's very much appreciated.
Hi, Everyone! Quick update on the server move. It should be happening
any time now. There's work going on here to make the transition occur
smoothly, but there's bound to be a few bumps, so we appreciate your
patience. We should be back with a post tomorrow and Tuesday, and we'll
keep you up to date. Watch for new columns from Barrie Maxwell and Adam
Jahnke in the next couple of days, and the first of many long-overdue
HD-DVD format reviews later in the week. We'll also catch you up on all
the latest DVD and high-def news.
Also this afternoon, we wanted to inform you that our friends over at
The Home Theater Forum are holding
live chat with representatives from Warner Home Video tomorrow
night (Tuesday, June 6th), from 8-5 PM Pacific. This chat is designed to
focus exclusively on the subjects of animation and TV product only, but
there's lots of great questions to ask there. We should learn more about
Get Smart, maybe what's happening
with the Batman live-action TV
series (which has been tied up in a rights dispute between Warner and
Fox) and lots more. Click on the link for all the details on how to
participate. As always, we'll have the complete text transcript of the
chat here at The Bits on Wednesday
morning in case you miss the event itself.
Thanks again for your patience and stay tuned!
Hi, Everyone! I just wanted to jump in here with a quick update to let
you know that we're going to be moving The
Bits to a new server this weekend. So be aware that the site
may be down from time to time over the next few days. We hope to be back
up and running by Monday, or Tuesday at the latest. We'll let you know
as soon as we're back. Thanks for you patience in the meantime.
Have a great weekend!
Today's update is going to be a quickie due to family stuff going on
around here at The Bits - West,
but we do have a little bit of DVD-related news and cover art for you,
plus word on a cool book signing event here in L.A. this weekend.
First up, The Weinstein Company will be releasing Lucky
Number Sleven on DVD on 8/22.
First Look Pictures has The Breed
due on 8/22 as well.
Our very own Adam Jahnke and Tromatic director Lloyd Kaufman will be
joining The Toxic Avenger himself (and the Tromettes!) for a book
signing this Saturday (6/3) here in the L.A. area. They'll be signing
copies of their new book,
Toxic Avenger: The Novel, at the Dark Delicacies book store in
Burbank (4213 W. Burbank Blvd.) starting at 7 PM (Pacific). You can
visit Adam's My
Space page and blog
for all the details. Should be a lot of fun, so if you're in the area,
do check it out!
And here's that cover art... Warner's Knute
Rockne All American (8/15) and the new HD-DVDs of The
Perfect Storm, Firewall
and Constantine (due next Tuesday,
6/6), Paramount's Mission: Impossible - The
Complete First TV Season (due 9/12) and Universal's Surface:
The Complete Series (8/15)...
Told you it was a quickie!
Well... the big news today is that MGM has decided to move the domestic
home video distribution of its films from Sony Pictures Home
Entertainment to 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment (which already
handles MGM's international distribution). This now means that MGM's
films will be released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc by Fox. Sony, however,
still retains its 20% ownership of the studio. We're as yet unsure when
the actual transition will take place, and if the initially announced
Blu-ray titles from MGM (currently set to be released by Sony) will be
affected. We've also heard that EXTENSIVE work has been underway at the
studio to release a series of "ultimate" James Bond DVDs and
Blu-ray Discs later in 2006, and we don't know how this will be affected
either. In addition to moving it's home video home, the studio is
expected to reestablish its TV division as well. You can read more
at Video Business and also
at Yahoo. We do hope that with Fox handling the distribution,
we'll FINALLY see those awesome 2-disc special editions of Sergio
Leone's Fistful of Dollars, For
a Few Dollars More and Fistful of
Dynamite that came out in the U.K. in 2005, but were delayed
here in the States due to the Sony takeover. Those are WAY overdue.
While on the Sony front, the studio has announced a pair of new DVD
titles for release on 8/8. These include Don't
Come Knocking and Beautiful
People: The Complete First Season. They've also set To
Live and Die in L.A. for release on UMD format on 8/8 as
Also, Sony BMG will be giving Transformers:
The Movie a more deluxe treatment on DVD in November (street
date also TBA), timed to start the promotional push for Michael Bay's
forthcoming Transformers live
action film, due next year. The new DVD release will include
never-before-seen footage, interviews, interactive games and collectible
packaging, along with the film's soundtrack on CD.
Warner has added Smallville: The Complete
Fifth Season to its 9/12 slate, with Gilmore
Girls: The Complete Sixth Season following on 9/19 and One
Tree Hill: The Complete Third Season due on 9/26. On the
theatrical side, A Slight Case of Murder
(1999) is due on 9/26. A double feature DVD of National
Lampoon's Vacation: 20th Anniversary Edition and National
Lampoon's European Vacation is also due on 9/12. The studio
has set a new Ace Ventura: Deluxe Double
Feature for release on 9/5 (SRP $19.97), which will include
newly-remastered versions of Ace Ventura: Pet
Detective and Ace Ventura: When
Nature Calls in anamorphic widescreen, with remixed Dolby
Digital 5.1 audio and a bonus disc containing select episodes of Ace
Ventura: The Animated Series.
Anchor Bay has announced that they'll be releasing the 2-disc
retrospective documentary DVD Halloween: 25
Years of Terror on 7/25, along with Halloween
4: The Return of Michael Myers and Halloween
5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (SRP $19.98 each). The
documentary set will include interviews with more than 80 different
filmmakers, convention and panel footage, on-set footage from Halloween
5, galleries of artwork and production photos, a comic book
Meanwhile, (consider this Rumor Mill-worthy)
we're hearing that Fox is planning M*A*S*H:
The Complete Eleventh Season for release in November (street
date TBA), along with a deluxe box set of the complete series with at
least a few newly-created extras.
Mill-worthy note, our friends over at
Shows on DVD have confirmed something we've posted recently,
namely that Paramount's Star Trek: The
Animated Series is due to be released in November. Specially,
they've learned that the tentative street date is 11/21.
also reporting that the classic series Get
Smart is going to be released by Time-Life later this year.
Finally, we've kicked off FOUR new
today, giving each of you the chance to win copies of Universal's
5 Movie Collection, Warner's
Davis Collection: Volume Two box set and
The Dukes of
Hazard: The Complete Sixth Season, Anchor Bay's
Unplugged on UFOs and Bandai's
Ghost in the
Shell: S.A.C. 2nd Gig - Volume 5 Special Edition. Each of the
contests will run until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, June 11th. Click on
the links to enter and good luck!
Morning, everyone! Boy, what a crazy weekend this has been. If our
posts get a little patchy this week, it's because my family is here in
town this week - for about the next 10 days actually. So Sarah and I
have a full house around here, and have naturally had to spend most of
the weekend cleaning and getting ready.
Matt and I did have time, however, to slip away and catch X3
on Sunday morning. Matt liked the film more than I did, but still...
anyone who tells you this is a bad film is probably heavily invested in
the original Marvel comic books. I read more than a few of those in my
day, but not enough to really find my opinion overly influenced. X3
is actually reasonably entertaining. The problem, however, is that while
it's not bad, it's also not the great third film that this series
deserved. Much of the character depth and intellectual momentum that had
been building in the first two films is squandered here, so that while
the action pays off with big mutant-on-mutant fight sequences, the film
doesn't really pay off emotionally in any satisfying way. It's a shame
too, because X3 starts off very
well, first re-introducing a lot of the personal conflicts and the
larger philosophical/moral conflicts, and then setting them up to
develop further. Then it simply forgets them all for most of the rest of
the film in favor of action. There are also a couple major leaps of
logic that you're asked to make that don't quite follow from what we've
seen in the two previous films. Even the sacrifices that are made in
this film are undermined by the fact that obvious story outs are left in
place to reverse them in future sequels. All of these problems are more
script-related than a result of Brett Ratner's direction. While Ratner
isn't on the level of X-Men and
X2 director Bryan Singer, his work
here is capable enough. Ratner has basically been made the fall guy by a
lot of critics of this film, and I think had Fox execs not rushed the
production (and what else did you expect from the crack theatrical
development team that ruined Daredevil,
Fantastic Four, Electra,
the theatrical version of Kingdom of Heaven
and even the Alien and Predator
series with the low-brow AVP and
soon AVP2?), a lot of X3's
problems could have been fairly easily fixed in the writing. So anyway,
if you think you might be interested in seeing it, just know that X3
isn't a bad movie... it's just rather disappointing if you really loved
the two films that came before it.
By the way, when you go to X3,
you may get to see a new Superman Returns
trailer (cool but it gives away WAY too much of the film), as well as a
Ghost Rider teaser trailer. Looks
interesting. Cross your fingers that Sony Pictures doesn't screw the
pooch on that one.
Alright... we've got a few new announcements to report today.
First up, Universal has set The Boris
Karloff Collection, Chucky: The
Killer DVD Collection and Inner
Sanctum Mysteries: The Complete Movie Collection for release
on 9/19. The Boris Karloff Collection
(SRP $29.98) will include The Black Castle,
The Climax, Night
Key, The Strange Door
and Tower of London. Chucky:
The Killer DVD Collection (SRP also $29.98) will, as you
might guess, include Bride of Chucky,
Child's Play 2, Child's
Play 3 and Seed of Chucky.
Inner Sanctum Mysteries: The Complete Movie
Collection (SRP $29.98 as well) will include Calling
Dr. Death, Dead Man's Eyes,
The Frozen Ghost, Pillow
of Death, Strange Confession
and Weird Woman.
Also on the way from Universal is Brick
on 8/8 (SRP $29.98) and some more new HD-DVD releases. Ray
will arrive on HD-DVD on 8/8, while The Bone
Collector, Spy Game and
The Interpreter will follow on
8/22 (SRP $34.98 each). All will include the same extras that were
available on their previous DVD releases. We've updated the
Release List accordingly.
Meanwhile, Buena Vista has set Disney's direct-to-dvd Brother
Bear 2 for release on 8/29 (SRP $29.99). Extras will include
a "behind the music" featurette and an interactive trivia
Here's cover art for all of those new HD-DVD releases from Universal,
along with Sony's Ultraviolet
(6/27) and Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction
(7/11) on Blu-ray Disc format.
Finally this morning, Warner is kicking off yet
DVD Decision online poll (this one over at Amazon.com), giving you
all the chance to decide which films you want to see released on disc
from a list of several classic catalog titles. The 30 possible choices
include such films as Al Capone,
Hand, Operation Crossbow,
Up Periscope, Cimarron,
The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing,
Angels in the Outfield and Blume
in Love among others. Ten titles will ultimately be selected
(by you) and will be released in December and January respectively.
Okay... with a little luck, we'll be back with more later. Stay
So... you remember how we said that for every piece of good DVD news
this week, there was a piece of bad news? Well... how 'bout we end the
week on a REALLY great note, sans the dark could? You may have heard the
Variety this morning. Yes... Ridley Scott's Blade
Runner is FINALLY, officially, coming to DVD. It's going to
be coming to HD-DVD. And it's going to be coming to Blu-ray Disc as
well. This is real... it's happening... and it's going to be very, very
First a bit of background on the reason for the title's delay. Warner
had been planning a 2-disc special edition of the film early last
year... but suddenly realized that their rights to the title were about
to lapse. However, the studio ponied up the big bucks to get back what
is arguably one of their primo Cadillac catalog titles (dare you to say
that three times fast). The ownership situation now resolved, Warner has
set in motion plans to really do something special with the film. You
might recall back in January when I asked them about the film at their
2006 catalog press event, they hinted that things were looking good for
a 2007 release. Privately, we were told that there were BIG things in
the works, but were also told that if we leaked too much about the
project, we might end up like Fredo Corleone (or WORSE, that the project
itself could be complicated). Needless to say, though we've been dying
to talk about this for months now (and we get about two e-mails a day
asking about the title), we've kept largely silent on the subject. Now
that the project is finally out in the open, however, we can finally say
a few things. Keep in mind that the major portion of the release is
still over a year away. But here's the basic plan...
This coming September, there will be a new limited DVD release (HD-DVD &
Blu-ray Disc are also planned) of the restored 1992 Director's
Cut (you know... the one that isn't really a director's cut).
This will be available for just four months. We believe this is
basically the 2-disc release that Warner had originally planned to bow
Then next year, just in time for the film's 25th anniversary, Ridley
Scott's ultimate Blade Runner: The Final Cut
will hit theaters for a limited run. This will be a REAL director's cut,
with restored scenes and more - all the stuff that Ridley's always
wanted to do with the film but hasn't really been given the chance to do
before. That will be followed later in the year by an Ultimate
Blade Runner DVD release. You can expect a multi-disc box set
(again, likely with a simultaneous HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc release) that
will contain at least four different versions of the film... ALL in full
anamorphic widescreen, we might add. You'll get the film's original U.S.
theatrical cut, you'll get the expanded international theatrical cut,
you'll get the 1992 Director's Cut
and you'll get the new Final Cut
as well. Now... we realize at this point, you may have questions. Keep
in mind, there's a TON of additional material that's going to be
included in this set that hasn't been announced and can't be talked
about yet - all-new material that you've never seen before. The set is
pretty early in the planning and production stage, so it's way too early
to talk details, but trust us... some very cool stuff is in the works.
These extras will likely be different from the September '06 release, so
if you buy both you'll at least be getting your money's worth.
Imagine that... anamorphic widescreen AND real value in a DVD release!
Hey... are we being punked?
You veteran Bits readers will
also be thrilled to learn that longtime Ridley Scott DVD producer
Charles de Lauzirika and his team are involved in project, and have
already been working on the set for a while now. Lauzirika, as you may
know, was the producer responsible for Fox's 9-disc, massively
comprehensive Alien Quadrilogy box
set, as well as the multi-disc special editions of Scott's Gladiator
(from DreamWorks), Black Hawk Down
(from Sony) and Kingdom of Heaven
(recently available from Fox), among others. You should also know that
Lauzirika and his team are big fans of Blade
Runner themselves. Rest assured that they know what you guys
all want to see on this release, and they're working very hard to make
it as good as it can be. Trust us when we say that this project is in
EXACTLY the right hands.
Alright, Replicants... here's a little eye candy from
Drew Struzan to salve yer synthetic souls in the meantime...
So how's that for a helluva great ending to a strange week? Gosh... we
feel like we should be tipping the masseuse or something. In fact, we
don't think there's anything else to say for it except that we'll see
you back here on Tuesday (Monday being a work holiday here in the
States) with a bunch of those new HD-DVD reviews...
... and stay tuned!
(LATE UPDATE - 5/25/06
- 2 PM PDT)
Just a quick update with an interesting bit of news for you gamers...
Nintendo has officially confirmed rumors that its forthcoming Wii game
system will retail for not more than $250 in the States, and that it
will be available "sometime in the 4th quarter." You can read
at MSNBC. It's a pretty savvy pricing move, given the SRPs of the
more expensive Xbox ($299 and $399) and the even more expensive PS3
($499 and $599). We're betting Nintendo sells a LOT of units at $250.
By the way... one other quick update on a topic we've mentioned
and many other major retailers have finally gotten more copies of the
2-disc limited edition of Universal's Munich
back in stock. It was in very limited supply there for a while. Just
(EARLY UPDATE - 5/25/06
- 12:01 AM PDT)
Well... wouldn't you know it. For every bit of good DVD news this week,
it seems as if there's bad to go along with it. First it was Star
Wars, then The Tick.
Now it seems as if Anchor Bay's The Man from
U.N.C.L.E. has fallen victim. No sooner did we post the news
to The Bits yesterday, we got an
update from The Bay's PR firm indicating that the 7/25 release of the
series' first season has been pulled indefinitely. Word is, there's a
dispute over who actually owns the home video rights to the series. So
the planned 4-disc set is cancelled for now... at least until the whole
mess can be sorted out. D'oh!
We do have some more firm DVD release news to report today, however.
First up, Lionsgate has announced the 5/30 release of ALF:
Season Three and ALF: The Animated
Universal has set a 21 Grams: Special
Edition for release on 10/3 (SRP $19.98). They've also
announced that House: Season Two
will street on 8/22 (SRP $59.98 - with video in anamorphic widescreen
this time, unlike the first season).
We've got a bunch of interesting (and unofficial) Paramount DVD release
info in The
Rumor Mill today - too much to run down here, but trust us,
it's worth checking out. You'll also find a bit of Fox, Buena Vista and
Universal release info in there too.
Meanwhile, Buena Vista has announced that it's now releasing its Commander
in Chief in two separate volumes. The 2-disc Commander
in Chief: The Inaugural Edition - Volume 1 will street on
6/27, and will contain the first 10 episodes in anamorphic widescreen
video. Volume 2 will follow on
10/3, and will contain episodes 11-18 (the remainder of the series) also
in anamorphic widescreen, along with bloopers, deleted scenes, an
interview with Geena Davis and a behind-the-scenes featurette. The sets
will sell for SRP $29.99 each.
Warner has just announced the DVD release of Henry
Fonda: The Signature Collection for 9/19 (SRP $39.92). The
4-disc set will contain Advise and Consent,
Battle of the Bulge, Mister
Roberts and The Wrong Man,
each of which will also be available separately.
Also newly announced by Warner for release on 9/26 is The
Batman: The Complete Second Season and Teen
Titans: The Complete Second Season (SRP $19.98 each).
Here's some interesting news for you fans of Asian action flicks... The
Weinstein Company is reportedly launching a new Dragon Dynasty DVD
label, through which it plans to "become the
largest holder and distributor of Asian DVDs in North America"
report at Home Media Retailing). Director Quentin
Tarantino is reportedly involved in helping to craft the label's line of
titles, which are expected to include a series of special edition and
2-disc "platinum" editions, featuring lots of extras. Jet Li's
Fist of Legend and Tai
Chi Master are among those titles slated for release. Some 50
Shaw Brothers titles are also expected, along with 43 titles from
Fortune Star Entertainment, additional titles from Tartan's Asian
Extreme line and other Asian classics like The
Bullet in the Head, A
Better Tomorrow 1 & 2, Ong Bak
2, The Protector, Born
to Fight, SPL, Seven
Swords and Dragon Squad.
Given what we've learned previously about the film's rights history (click
here for more on that), we have a strong suspicion that the long
missing Zatoichi's Pilgrimage
might eventually be part of this line as well. Cross your fingers. All
of these DVDs, of course, will be distributed by Genius Products.
For those of you who haven't gotten enough Star
Wars DVD news in the last couple of weeks,
Media Retailing has just posted an online story on the
controversy. For the record, yours truly was interviewed for the piece
along with Ron Epstein of the
Theater Forum and Lucasfilm's Director of Publicity, John
Singh. We mention the topic on this particular Thursday morning, of
course, in honor of the theatrical debut of the original Star
Wars 29 years ago today. If you're having trouble recalling
those carefree good times, we refer you to our friend Michael Coate's
on the subject over at From Script to DVD.com.
On a related note, the
website has posted the text of a form letter that Lucasfilm is sending
out to its fans (those who've e-mailed the company to complain about the
lack of anamorphic enhancement on the original film version "bonus"
DVDs). None of it is going to make those of you who are already upset
any happier. In any case, Lucasfilm will do what they will do. We've
certainly said our piece and, ultimately, it's your $90 to spend (or
not). So, barring any late-breaking developments, we're done with the
subject of Star Wars DVDs for a
Seems like we say that about once a year, don't we? ;)
Alright... back to working on those HD reviews. Stay tuned!
Okay... we start today with a follow-up on Buena Vista's The
Tick: Season One for 8/29, which we mentioned yesterday. As
it turns out, it's no longer going to be called The
Tick: Season One... but instead, The
Tick: The Belated 10th Anniversary Edition. The revised press
release indicates that the 2-disc set is only going to include 12 of the
first season's 13 episodes. One of the episodes was apparently derailed
from inclusion on the DVD release due to legal complications. That's
really a shame. We hope to have exact details as to which episode had to
be dropped and why soon.
We've got some Anchor Bay news for you. The company will deliver The
Man from U.N.C.L.E.: The Complete First Season on DVD as a
4-disc set on 7/25. We're told at least some extras will be included.
The Bay also has the horror classic It Waits
set for release on 5/23.
For those of you who follow industry goings-on,
word today that the VSDA (Video Software Dealers Association) is
merging with the IEMA (Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association)
to become the EMA (Entertainment Merchants Association). Just FYI (For
Our own Russell Hammond has posted
over at DVD Fanboy that select copies of Fox's Boston
Legal: Season One purchased at Best Buy stores will include a
bonus disc featuring four episodes of The
Practice (BL's parent
series) in which William Shatner's Denny Crane makes a guest appearance.
Anyone in the mood to take your DVDs on the run... literally? Sony has
just unveiled a pretty cool little DVD Walkman, featuring a 7-inch LCD
screen and both Dolby Digital and DTS capability. You can see more
at Digital Lifestyle. It's no iPod, but that's still a
pretty darn sexy little box. Do you suppose a Blu-ray Walkman's on the
How about a little new cover art to close out the morning? Here's a
look at MGM and Sony's A Fish Called Wanda:
Collector's Edition (8/1), Fox's standard packaging for The
Simpsons: The Complete Eighth Season (8/15), Warner's The
Spirit of St. Louis (8/15), Universal's Radioland
Murders and This Island Earth
(both due on 8/29) and finally, Buena Vista's The
Tick: The Belated 10th Anniversary Edition (also 8/29)...
And here's a little tease of the key art for a forthcoming animated
release that we know a lot of you have been waiting for. There's no
official details available yet, but we suspect Paramount will announce
the set in next few weeks for release in September. This should get yer
Trekkie blood pumping in the meantime...
Okay... now we're off to go work on some new HD-DVD reviews. Uni's The
Chronicles of Riddick looks awfully damn good, I'll tell you.
It's about time the serious eye candy titles started arriving on this
format! Back tomorrow with more on the subject.
We hope you've enjoyed today's 100% Midichlorian-free DVD news report.
We're sorry to note, however, that many Bothans died to bring you this
First up today,
Business has just posted a story on the Star
Wars DVD issue. There are some quotes and comments in there
that are probably going to piss a lot of you off. According to the
piece: "[Lucasfilm] felt there was little
need to invest resources into sprucing up films that have already been
restored to pristine form." Says Lucasfilm spokesperson John
Singh: "The late '90s theatrical versions
represent George's vision for Star Wars. We hoped that by
releasing the original movies as a bonus disc, it would be a way to give
the fans something that is fun. We certainly didn't want to be become a
source of frustration for fans." Hoooo-boy. Well... so much
for that idea. You know what they say: If wishes were horses, we'd all
be covered in hoofprints and dung.
The story further indicates that Lucasfilm will be contacting its fans
directly (probably via their Star Wars.com
website and newsletter) to explain the situation. In other words, their
corporate spin machine is about to start telling you why they're doing
you such a big favor, and why you shouldn't care that the original
versions of these films are being handled so shoddily. ('Cause... you
know... it's not like they REALLY exist anymore anyway, right?) And oh,
by the way, would you all please quit yer bitching and just fork over
another $90 already? Because, you see, George urgently needs to build
the Skywalker Ranch - East out in The Hamptons or the Lucasfilm Empire
will collapse. And just for you Jedi loyalists, every paying Hyperspace
member that owns at least 10 different copies of these films on VHS,
Betamax, SelectaVision, Laserdisc, VideoCD, DVD (and eventually HD-DVD,
Blu-ray Disc and LucasDigital 3D-matic Download)... gets the EXCLUSIVE
opportunity to purchase them all again, this time dipped in 12-karat
gold (along with a special bonus disc featuring video of George Lucas
telling you why making these movies was all just a big waste of his time
and nobody should ever have liked them in the first place)!
We overstate, of course... but only a little. You know... as much money
as Lucasfilm rakes in from Star Wars,
you think they could treat their fans (and their films) with just a
little more respect.
Hhmmmm. This all reminds us of a line from a little art flick we liked
back in the day. Lesseeee... we think it went something like...
"Buy more. Buy more now. Buy more and be happy." - THX-1138
Moving on to some release news, Sony has set I'll
Always Know What You Did Last Summer, a box set of all three
I Know What You Did films, Good
Times: The Complete Sixth Season, Hazel:
The Complete First Season and My
Summer Story all for release on 8/1.
Over at Universal, the studio has just revealed a bunch of interesting
new catalog DVD releases for 8/29. Look for Radioland
Murders, This Island Earth,
The Wizard and State
of the Union to hit stores on that day (SRP $14.98 each).
Radioland Murders and The
Wizard are anamorphic widescreen and the other two are
included in their original full frame aspect ratio. So Lucasfilm's Radioland
Murders is going to be anamorphic widescreen on DVD... but
the ORIGINAL versions of the Star Wars
films will not. How do you like them apples?
In terms of new films, Universal is releasing the direct-to-video Bring
It On: All or Nothing on 8/8, with Conviction:
The Complete Series following on 8/22. FYI, Dave
Chappelle's Block Party is also on the way for 6/13, just in
case we haven't already mentioned it.
You Will & Grace fans will
probably be pleased to learn that Lionsgate is releasing the just-aired
series finale episode on DVD on 5/30.
New Line has set Antonio Banderas' ballroom dancing flick, Take
the Lead, for release on 8/29.
And here's something that will get you animation fans in a tizzy (the
good kind): Buena Vista has officially announced the DVD release of The
Tick: Season One for 8/29 (SRP $34.99). Also on the way from
the studio on 8/29 are Talespin: Volume One
and Darkwing Duck: Volume One
(also SRP $34.99 each). There's no word yet on the extras that The
Tick: Season One might include (if any), but we do know that
the release is timed to celebrate the series' 10th Anniversary.
By the way, there's one last piece of standard DVD news today... First
Run Features has announced that they'll be releasing Michael Apted's
highly-anticipated 49 UP
documentary into a limited theatrical run on 10/6, with a DVD release
set to follow on 11/14. If you haven't heard of the films before, the
UP series is easily some of the
most extraordinary and ambitious documentary filmmaking you will ever
see. Basically, Apted interviewed a group of 14 British seven-year-olds
back in 1964, and asked them about their lives and who they wanted to be
when they grew up. The resulting program, Seven
UP, appeared on TV in the U.K. shortly thereafter. Then,
every seven years, Apted went back to interview the same children, to
see what they'd been up to. He's been doing it for nearly 50 years now.
The complete series includes Seven UP,
7 Plus Seven, 21
UP, 28 UP, 35
UP, 42 UP and now 49
UP. The series is quite literally the story of these 14 (now
adult) lives, some of which have turned out well... and some not so
much. It makes for remarkable viewing. All of the titles in the series
up to this point
available on DVD from First Run as part of a 5-disc box set, and
we highly recommend it.
We've also got an update for you today on one of those Warner HD-DVDs
that was announced late yesterday. It seems that Constantine
will be the first Warner HD-DVD release to include a feature called "In-Movie
Experience," which is basically a super-über Follow the White
Rabbit or Infinifilm-style interactive option that lets you access all
kinds of supplemental material while you're watching the film itself.
We'll be curious to see how much the IME really improves on this kind of
interactivity and how much of it is really just a reinvention of an
already functional (and been done) wheel.
Around the site today, we've kicked off TWO new
giving each of you the chance to win copies of Warner and the BBC's
Britain: The Complete Second Series, as well as Anchor Bay's
two new Master of Horror titles,
Cosarelli: Incident On and Off a Mountain Road. Both contests
will run until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, May 28th. Click on the links to
enter and good luck!
One last thing before we sign off today... we've had a lot of you
reporting that the animated banner we've been running for Warner's Samurai
Jack: Season Three has been crashing Firefox browsers. We'll
be pulling the banner soon while our ad service looks into the problem.
Thanks for letting us know about this issue and sorry for the
inconvenience. Aku strikes again!
(LATE UPDATE - 5/22/06 -
5 PM PDT)
This is just a quick update to let you all know that Warner Home Video
has just announced three more HD-DVD releases for 6/6. Two are catalog
titles, Constantine and The
Perfect Storm, and will sell for SRP $28.99 each. One is a
new release, Firewall, which will
be available on the HD-DVD/DVD combo format day and date with its
separate, standard DVD version. The combo disc will sell for SRP $39.99.
All of the extras on the DVD versions will be included on the HD-DVDs.
Meanwhile, Sony has announced the Blu-ray Disc release of Basic
Instinct 2: Risk Addiction on 7/11, day and date with its
standard release. The DVD will be available in both R and Unrated
versions (SRP $26.96 each), while the Blu-ray Disc will strangely only
be available in the R-rated version (SRP $38.95). You'd think Sony would
load the Blu-ray Disc up for $12 more. Extras on the R-rated discs will
include a director's commentary and a making-of documentary. The unrated
DVD will also include deleted scenes and additional features.
Naturally, we've updated the
Release List accordingly.
(LATE UPDATE - 5/22/06 -
10 AM PDT)
Hey everyone! We've got a little more new DVD announcement news for you
First though, a follow up on our Night
Stalker signing post from earlier this morning. The signing
events is on May 30th... so NEXT Tuesday... not tomorrow. Just FYI.
Don't want anyone showing up a week early! I've corrected the text
below, but please adjust your plans accordingly.
Okay... Sony has announced a pair of new DVDs for release on 8/1. The
first is producer Irwin Allen and director Harry Harris' live-action
version of Alice in Wonderland
(SRP $19.94), starring Shelley Winters, Ernest Borgnine, John Stamos,
Beau Bridges, Pat Morita and Ringo Starr. Interesting, no?
Well, it gets better. Word of this second title has made our day here
at The Bits. It's a 2-disc A
Fish Called Wanda: Collector's Edition (SRP $24.96). The set
will include the film in anamorphic widescreen video, audio commentary
by star John Cleese, 30 minutes of deleted and alternate scenes, the
A Message from John Cleese
introduction video, the Kulture Vulture
and Something's Fishy
documentaries, John Cleese's First Farewell
Performance, something called Farewell
Featurette: John Cleese (don't know if that's the same or
different as the last one, but that's what the press release says), a
text trivia track, a photo gallery, Easter eggs, the original theatrical
trailer, and an insert booklet. Very cool news indeed. My favorite line
in the whole film: REVENGE!!! We've been waiting for this SE for a long
Alright. 'Nuff for now. Stay tuned...
(EARLY UPDATE - 5/22/06 - 12:01 AM PDT)
Well... another Monday, another work week and probably lots more DVD
Speaking of news, word about the forthcoming original theatrical Star
Wars DVDs using an recycled 1993 laserdisc transfer (rather
than offering a new anamorphic widescreen transfer) is quickly finding
its way around the Net. Many are not happy about it - neither Star
Wars fans nor the home theater crowd. For the record, you can
now find stories about this up at
it Cool News,
and, of course, Original
Trilogy.com to name just a few. It's also a hot topic of
Home Theater Forum,
Forum and even on the
Wars.com message boards. Sooner or later, one suspects that
word of the fan dissatisfaction will start appearing in the mainstream
press as well. We'll keep you posted.
On a brighter note this morning, for those of you who are fans of ABC's
short-lived Night Stalker TV
series (a revival of the infamous 1970s series Kolchak:
The Night Stalker) and who happen to live in the L.A. area...
we've got a DVD signing event to report. Next Tuesday (May 30th) from
7-9 PM (Pacific), producer Frank Spotnitz (who also produced The
X-Files) will join series star Stuart Townsend (and possibly
Gabrielle Union) at the West Hollywood Best Buy store to sign copies of
Buena Vista's new Night Stalker: The Complete
Series DVD set. The store is located at 1015 N. La Brea, at
the corner of Santa Monica and La Brea. If you're a fan, you definitely
don't want to miss it.
In a bit of announcement news, Paramount has currently set a 2-disc set
of The Animation Show for release
on 9/5, featuring some of the best animated shorts as presented by Mike
Judge and Don Hertzfeldt.
word from Video Business that Sony DADC has officially
started its Blu-ray Disc replication lines here in the States. Titles
are being manufactured now in anticipation of next month's format
By the way, there's a cool new Superman
Returns trailer online today for those of you who might be
here to see it in Quicktime). The trailer for Oliver Stone's
Trade Center is now online as well.
We'll be back with more later, so stay tuned...
We want to take a few moments this morning to post some follow-up
thoughts on our Star Wars DVD
editorial from yesterday. Since
first posted the DVD transfer information, and especially after
comments of yesterday morning, we've received many hundreds of
e-mails from Star Wars fans, home
theater enthusiasts and industry insiders (our sincere thanks to all of
you for your thoughts), nearly all of whom agree with our sentiments,
specifically that if Lucasfilm is going to release the original
theatrical versions of the Star Wars
films on DVD, they should at least present them in anamorphic widescreen
to ensure some semblance of acceptable video quality for fans who may
wish to purchase them. Still, a few people felt we were making mountains
out of molehills.
Whatever your personal opinions, however, there remains a reality that
is hard to deny, which is this: Anamorphic enhancement is the widely
accepted industry standard for the presentation of widescreen films on
DVD. This is not pie in the sky 'unobtanium' technology that costs
untold millions to implement... it's a basic technique that is standard
practice on DVD and has been for many years now, since the fairly early
days of the DVD format back in 1997. Keep in mind, we're not asking for
4K high-definition presentation at this point. We're simply asking that
Lucas - who has in the past been so focused on the quality presentation
of his films that he created THX (and the THX certification process) to
ensure it - expend a little more effort and money to ensure that the
Star Wars DVDs planned for release
on 9/12, which are already set to offer the original theatrical versions
of these films, offer them in reasonably acceptable video quality that
is commensurate to the minimum level that's considered standard for the
DVD format today.
Now... we've heard all manner of excuses and contradictory official
statements as to why this can't happen: 1) the original film negatives
are gone, 2) the other existing original elements have deteriorated too
badly, 3) there are just no quality film elements remaining anywhere
that could be used, 4) the 1993 laserdisc masters are the best source
material that can be found for use on DVD after exhaustive searches of
the Lucasfilm Archives, etc. Some of these excuses run from the unlikely
to the absurd, and all of them strike us as publicity machine spin.
We've debunked all of these excuses previously but, for the record,
let's do so again:
1) The original negatives are gone, destroyed as
part of the process of creating the 1997 special edition versions.
We're inclined to believe this is true. Still, the original negatives
are not the only viable elements that can be used to transfer the films
for home video release. There are numerous interpositive prints. There
are the separation masters. Worst case, there are a number of high
quality release prints available. In short, other elements exist that
can be used for this purpose.
2) The other existing original elements have
deteriorated too badly to be used.
We'll come back to this one in a minute.
3) There are just no quality film elements
remaining anywhere that could be used.
See our answer to #1. Even if it's true that Lucas and his staff
destroyed all of the original negatives, it's unlikely in the extreme
that they also destroyed all of the interpositives, all of the
separation masters, and all of the release prints. In fact, we know that
they didn't. Where, for example, would the anamorphic footage of the
original 1977 opening text crawl from A New
Hope - the footage that appeared in the Empire
of Dreams DVD documentary - have come from if not from
quality surviving film elements? Still, even if Lucas did destroy every
single scrap of original film available in the Lucasfilm Archives... we
know for a fact that high quality die transfer release prints exist in
the hands of a number of archives and private collectors. While not
ideal, any of these could be given a high-definition transfer, a bit of
digital clean-up and color-timing, and could be presented on DVD in
anamorphic widescreen in quality that would be superior to a 1993
non-anamorphic laserdisc transfer.
4) The 1993 laserdisc masters are the best source
material that can be found for use on DVD after exhaustive searches of
the Lucasfilm Archives.
See our answer to #3. This is flatly absurd. If this were true,
Lucasfilm's archivists should be ashamed of themselves. We know of few
professionals tasked with the preservation of film materials that would
allow such critically important film elements as the original Star
Wars films to be lost, to deteriorate or be wholesale
destroyed. And again, even if Lucasfilm's vaults were so woefully
incomplete, we know for a fact that quality elements exist elsewhere.
Given 48 hours notice, we could track them down ourselves. Surely, with
its significant resources and influence, Lucasfilm could do the same. If
the 1993 laserdisc masters are really the best that Lucasfilm can do,
it's disturbing. If not, a statement like "We
returned to the Lucasfilm Archives to search exhaustively for source
material that could be presented on DVD..." seems terribly
disingenuous - the corporate PR equivalent of "I'm so sorry, but
the dog ate my homework."
But let's get back to #2...
2) The other existing original elements have
deteriorated too badly to be used.
It just so happens that one of our regular contributors here at The
Bits, the author of our ever illuminating
Layer Failure, Vinegar Syndrome and Miscellaneous Musings
column, is something of an expert on the subject of film preservation
and restoration. Robert A. Harris, in point of fact, is one of the
world's best known motion picture archivists, and has does significant
work in this field through his company, Film Preserve. Robert's
experiments in color technology and more recent advances in the digital
domain have set standards in the industry. His reconstruction and
restoration efforts, primarily in the large format field, have brought
back to the screen some of the most important films ever produced,
including Lawrence of Arabia, Spartacus,
My Fair Lady, Vertigo
and Rear Window.
We asked Robert what might be done with the original surviving elements
of the Star Wars films in order to
rejuvenate them and present them in high quality on DVD. Here's what he
had to say on the subject:
"Bill Hunt has asked for an opinion
regarding the element problems which we have been told exist in the
various Star Wars films, and if they might be fixed.
We're aware of the extent of the problems, going back to fading of the
original CRI sections - a problem shared with Close Encounters of
the Third Kind - as well as the various cuts, re-cuts, etc. which
have changed the conformation of the film elements.
Over the past few years we have been experimenting with various means
of handling and interrelating differing film elements, and what we have
accomplished would enable us to bring Star Wars back to
virtually its original state.
In all deference to Lucasfilm, there is no reason that they would be
aware of our latest experiments, or how they might apply to Star
Essentially, the project would be a reconstruction concurrent with
We can state with absolute certainly that we would be able to deliver
fully restored quality elements as might be requested by Lucasfilm,
inclusive of a pristine quality high definition video master as well as
a full resolution 35mm preservation negative, if so directed.
It would be both a pleasure and a challenge to bring these films back
to virtually their original state, and given a proper budget,
commensurate with the work entailed, we would be willing to take on the
assignment from Lucasfilm, and deliver elements which would make the
release of the original trilogy to DVD as startlingly beautiful an event
as it should be.
These films are extremely important both cinematically and as cultural
icons, and deserve to be seen in the finest quality possible.
So there you have it. It seems to those of us here at The
Bits, that the only reasonable obstacles to Lucasfilm in
releasing the original versions of the Star
Wars film on DVD in high-quality are the will do to so and
the willingness to spend a reasonable sum of money, such as might be
required to get the job done properly. Certainly, any number of existing
quality elements could be utilized for the purpose (and digitally
cleaned up as needed) without breaking the bank. But considering the
cinematic and cultural significance of these films, does it not seem
reasonable and prudent to do so?
In any case, we sincerely hope that those in charge at Lucasfilm will
reconsider their decision to use lackluster 1993 laserdisc masters to
present the original Star Wars
films on DVD in 2006. The films deserve better, and we believe it's the
right thing to do for the fans. It might require a little more effort, a
little more money spent up front. But we have to believe that it would
be a significantly profitable enterprise... that countless life-long
fans of the original films would thrill at the possibility of finally
owning them on DVD in good, reasonable and acceptable quality.
It should be done. It CAN be done.
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