OK, let's get right to the meat of today's post, 'cause based on all of
the e-mails I've been getting, I know there's a lot of confusion about
all of the Star Wars DVD rumors
flying around in light of the big event in Denver this weekend. We've
got the scoop on all of the latest news in today's
Mill post, and we try to cut through all the bull, to sort
things out for you based on what we've heard from our sources, and what
we know to be true (and false). We've also got the scoop on a bunch of
Fox titles for September and beyond - basically the big stuff they're
planning through the end of 1999. We've even got tentative word on some
Buena Vista stuff we're told is in the planning stages for the fall.
Today's update there is big, so you definitely don't want to miss it.
We also have a pair of new DVD reviews for you today. You'll find my
full-length take on Fox's excellent new
X-Files: Fight the Future, and Doogan gives you a look at
Pig in the City. Both discs hit stores Tuesday.
Want another sign that DVD is a hit with consumers? Player sales are
very strong going into the typically weak Spring and Summer season, and
CEMA's latest numbers indicate 82,870 players shipped to retailers for
the week ending April 23rd. That makes almost 2 million players in the
U.S. market to date (1,911,927 for those who are counting). See the
above listing and the
chart for the details.
FYI - the Trivia Contest for May
will be starting on Wednesday, and will run for two weeks, ending on May
19th... the day Star Wars: Episode I
premieres in theaters. You can be sure this month's contest will have a
little something to do with the Trilogy,
so stay tuned.
Finally, you can now find the latest installment of
Digital Man Radio Show saga available for download as a Real
Audio file (click
here for the 5M file of Sunday's episode).
See ya back here tomorrow (and by the way... I hope you all had a great
Want some great news? At the Star Wars
Celebration event in Denver this weekend, Episode
I producer (and Lucas right-hand man) Rick McCallum was asked
about George's DVD plans for the Trilogy
(a question which apparently drove the fanboy crowd nuts).
Here's what he said: "I know George has very special plans for the
DVD." McCallium also mentioned that the DVD release will be an
event like no other for that medium, and that it will be "beautiful"
when it finally arrives. Makes you feel all warm doesn't it?
Speaking of Star Wars, I happened
to get a hold of my copy of The Phantom
Menace soundtrack CD this weekend (it streets Tuesday). All I
can say is... wow! Fans of John Williams will really dig his latest
work, from the trumpet and chorale Duel of
the Fates, to the sweet Anakin's
Theme, with its hint of Vader's Imperial
March. There's some serious lightsaber-dueling music on this
We'll be back tomorrow with new DVD reviews of Fox's excellent The
X-Files: Fight the Future and Babe:
Pig in the City. See ya then!
All right, there are three more reviews up for you to check out today,
as Doogan takes a look at more Criterion DVDs:
Naked Kiss, and
Killer. Look for several more reviews of new DVD releases over
the next few days.
has posted a large update to their
News page, including a host of great new titles. Among those
listed are the complete Kubrick Collection,
Billy Jack, Cannonball
Run 2, The Hitcher,
Hurlyburly: SE, Just
Cause, Murder In The First,
Power Of One, Sour
Grapes, Sweet Dreams,
and Witches (from Warner and its
distributed labels), Thin Red Line
(from Fox), The Associate, A
Civil Action, Cool Runnings,
Dangerous Minds, Down
In The Delta, Enemy Of The State,
The Faculty, I
Love Trouble, Little Buddha,
Little Voice, The
Mighty, Mr. Holland's Opus,
& Michele's High School Reunion, Rushmore,
She's All That, Smoke
Signals, Spy Hard, What's
Love Got To Do With It, and Wings
Of A Dove (all June and July releases from Buena Vista), Bataan,
Killer's Kiss, The
Killing, Paths Of Glory,
Pork Chop Hill, Run
Silent, Run Deep, and They Were
Expendable (from MGM), and a new version of Dr.
Strangelove with corrected aspect ratios (from Columbia
While I'm very happy to see so many more DVDs in production from Buena
Vista (particularly Rushmore, The
Mighty and Smoke Signals),
I have to say that I'm a bit disheartened to see that STILL they have no
plans to adopt anamorphic widescreen as a feature on their DVDs. And
most of these discs will be paltry, movie-only DVDs. Disappointing. As
least their Clerks disc is still
coming - look for it later in the summer, instead of on its original
6/29 street date.
So what incentive does Buena Vista have to give us 16x9 on their DVDs?
Probably none, sadly. Why, you may ask? Well people seem to be buying at
least some of their discs in spades.
an article that indicates that according to VideoScan, A
Bug's Life has already become the number 10 best selling DVD
of the year, in just a week of release. Go figure.
Have a great weekend!
We've just posted four new DVD reviews for you to read today, including
Joe Black, Paramount's
Eyes, and Criterion's
400 Blows. And we've got more reviews coming tomorrow.
I had a nice conversation with the folks at Warner Bros. this morning.
We talked about the upcoming Kubrick collection DVDs, as well as the
reasons behind the delay of some titles we know you're all waiting for.
According to Warner, the reason Full Metal
Jacket and The Shining
are being released in full frame, is that's how director Stanley Kubrick
intended the films to be seen theatrically (and were in European
release). In the States, the films were matted to create a widescreen
image. So you should know, that all of the DVDs will be released exactly
as Kubrick would have wanted.
I also learned this morning, that Heat,
Shawshank Redemption and Excalibur
were all delayed so that the best quality could be ensured on the DVD
release. The Heat DVD is still in
development, so features are as yet undetermined, but Shawshank
and Excalibur will both feature
new 16x9 transfers and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio when they are finally
released. Excalibur will also have
a commentary track with director John Boorman. And I've been assured
that all three films WILL be released on DVD this year, in the 3rd or
4th Qtr. You fans out there should know that Warner is definitely aware
that you want these films - they just want to make sure to give them to
you in the best DVD quality possible.
I also spoke with Columbia TriStar briefly, regarding Men
In Black. There are apparently still no "official"
green-lights on this title in any region, but this could change at any
time. With any luck, however, it should be out on DVD this year.
Finally today, I have a request for you. I'm going to have the
opportunity in the coming weeks to interview Alien
director Ridley Scott, and Warner Home Video president Warren
Lieberfarb, so if any of you have DVD-related questions (or others)
you'd like asked of them, please forward them to be via
e-mail, by this
weekend. I'll be taking some of the best questions sent in, and asking
them along with my own. Many thanks!
OK, we've got reviews of
Bug's Life and
Girls today, and several more are in the pipeline for
tomorrow, including an in-depth look at DreamWork's Amistad,
the first new Spielberg film to hit the DVD format. We've also got some
Columbia TriStar information up in today's
Mill, including word that Men In
Black has been slated for DVD... sort of. Be sure to check it
Well, there's good news and bad news. The arrival of visiting family
from out of state means that we'll be unable to post an update today.
But we will be back tomorrow with some news, Rumor
Mill information, and a host of new DVD reviews that we've
built up over the weekend.
Have a good day, and we'll see you tomorrow!
(LATE UPDATE - 4/26/99 - 5:30 PM PDT)
Ah, yes... I've just spent another long day of fighting technical
problems. I had thought I'd tackled all of the gremlins that crept into
my computer equipment following the move, but alas, my scanner decided
to fritz out today. That's what delayed posts over the weekend, and
today's as well. That sound you hear is me smashing my scanner to bits,
a la Office Space...
Anyway, on to the day's news. In the wake of the Littleton, Colorado
shooting, MGM had hoped to recall the VHS and DVD versions of Basketball
Dairies. The rights to the title were recently acquired from
Polygram. Unfortunately, the rights remain with Polygram through June
30th, so they are unable to pull it. Read the whole story
Something tells me we may not see the Buena Vista-owned Natural
Born Killers on DVD any time soon...
Around the Net, Laserviews
has updated their DVD
News page with some new titles. DTS
has announced that it will be releasing several more titles on DVD,
including some from DreamWorks, the second major studio to support the
sound format on DVD. Every title currently available from DreamWorks
will be released with DTS later this year.
this page at DTS for the full list and schedule.
So have you heard The Duel of the Fates
on radio yet? KFGO didn't play it after all, but you can download it
here as a 3
meg MP3 file (other download locations are listed at
article over at the Boston
Globe Online on John Williams, and The
Phantom Menace scoring sessions. A small
Real Audio clip
of the sessions, including brief interviews with Williams, Lucas, and
Steven Spielberg, and some bits of new music, can be found
It's also available as an MP3
In other Star Wars news, there's
a great interview with George Lucas in the current issue of
Moyers talks with Lucas about the myth and meaning in the Star
Wars films, and particularly Episode
I. This has a very similar feel to Moyer's interviews with
Joseph Campbell, on PBS's The Power of Myth
series. The interview is available online
One last Star Wars-related item:
Tonight's Leonard Maltin will be interviewing George Lucas on
May 5th, and he's asking for the Net-savvy to submit questions. You can
send in yours vis
page on the ET Online site. I think just about everyone is
asking, "When will Star Wars
be on DVD?"
Finally today, you can listen to this last Sunday's episode of The
Digital Man Radio Show via Real Audio, by clicking
It's a good 5 meg download, but if you have the time and bandwidth, you
might find it interesting. Given recent events, we talked about recalled
DVDs, and how the media (movies and video games) may or may not affect
violence in society. Pete Bracke was on for longer this time too, so
give it a listen if you dare.
See you tomorrow...
(EARLY UPDATE - 4/26/99 - 10 AM PDT)
All right, we've got more later, but I wanted to get a quick update
done now, to let all of you Star Wars
fans in on something. As you may know, the Phantom
Menace soundtrack CD will be released on May 4th. But
Lucasfilm has today just released a broadcast radio single of one of the
featured tracks on the film, The Duel of the
Fates. It is now available as a 3 meg MP3 file
here, and you
can check for other download locations at
After two listens now, I can tell you that the track is VERY cool -
thunderous war drums, blaring horns, haunting choral vocals and all.
Don't miss it.
Be back soon...
All right, we've got those reviews coming, so check back over the next
few days. In the meantime, I just received a ton of new upcoming DVD
street dates, that I wanted to get posted in the
Mill today. We've got the scoop on almost every major title
through September, so you definitely wont want to miss it.
Also today, comes
from Wired.com, that Blockbuster Video plans to start
renting...gasp!... pay-per-use PC games in their stores. The games would
be encrypted, and must be unlocked for a fee (via the Internet or a
modem) prior to playing. The games can be used on all current computer
hardware... but don't you find the whole pay-per-use concept irritating?
Divx was just the first such plan, I fear.
In other news around the Net, our friends at Image Entertainment's Ken
Cranes are partnering with RCA, to do a special DVD hardware/software
promotion. With each player purchased between June 1st and August 16th,
consumers will get to pick 5 free movies, and will receive 12 free
rentals from online rentailer NetFlix. You can read the press release
If you're up for some tech talk, don't forget to give Josh and I a call
on Sunday morning, on the CNN Radio Network's Digital
Man Radio Show in Atlanta. We'll be on from 11AM to Noon
Eastern (8-9AM Pacific), and you can us at 404-898-0680.
Have a great weekend!
Good news today! Remember all those late June and July Paramount DVDs
we told you about in the
Mill a few weeks ago? Well
has posted confirmation on them, including word on something else we
told you about a few months ago - DVDs of Star
Trek episodes! The specific titles in question are Varsity
Blues, Witness, School
Ties and Gallipoli on
June 29, and Payback, Congo,
King Kong and Heaven
Can Wait, plus two sets of original Star
Trek episodes, on July 27. More episodes are expected later
in the year, along with episodes of The Next
Generation as well. FYI - Barbarella,
Nick of Time, A
Simple Plan and The Parallax View
have already been announced for June 22nd (and all are 16x9 enhanced).
Those of you who are dying for a look at the upcoming Ghostbusters
DVDs, should check out this
link over at the Columbia
TriStar Home Video web site. There are pictures of the disc, along
with a list of the features. I still have every reason to believe that
Ghostbusters will rank right up
there as one of the most impressive DVDs yet released.
You L.A.-area fans of director Michael Bay should get yourselves over
to the Virgin Megastore on Sunset Boulevard this weekend. The director
will be signing 2 items per person, one of which must be a copy of the
new Criterion Armageddon DVD,
purchased in store. The signing starts at 2 PM this Saturday (4/24), so
get there early!
Finally, it seems like every day, there are a dozen new DVD web sites
out there. But there's one I quite enjoy -
JoseQ, who runs the site, recently interviewed yours truly for a regular
column he has, so if you're just dying to read about me (not that you
are, of course - this ain't no ego fest!), you can check out the
transcript. Jose has interviewed several other DVD webmasters as
well, so do give his cool site a look-see.
Well be back tomorrow with... gasp... reviews!
As yes... it's Spring, and the sounds of young love are in the air. No,
I'm not about to tell you that Love American
Style is coming to DVD. We're just kinda light-hearted around
here this afternoon, as the Bits'
own Todd Doogan is gettin' himself hitched to a sweet Southern girl
today. Sarah and I have been married for almost nine years now (very
happily, of couse), so we couldn't be more excited for the newlyweds.
Now, on to business. Anchor Bay has informed me that those of you who
are unable to return your defective Black
Hole DVDs to your local store, can do so online. Check the
Bay web site for the complete details. In short, all you have to
do is call Barbara at Anchor Bay (1-800-233-3738 ext. 4136), to make the
Just a day after all that Kubrick news, comes Warner's official press
release on the subject (you can read that
via Infoseek). And speaking of the Kubrick DVDs, I received this
e-mail from a reader which might help to explain the choice of full
frame on The Shining and Full
Metal Jacket (thanks for the clarification, Pete):
"The Shining and Full
Metal Jacket were both filmed full Academy ratio (I ran both
films theatrically and the prints were full-frame 1.37) and soft-matted
to 1.66 (Europe) and 1.85 (US) for theatrical release. The full frame
versions are NOT pan and scan, and are the way Kubrick intended the
films to be seen at home. Also, 2001
is now completely controlled by Warner (fallout from the MGM/Turner
deal), MGM no longer has the rights to this movie. The MGM version is
now discontinued, replaced by the Warner version (although it's the same
My friend Jeff McNeal has posted a
editorial on Buena Vista and DVD over at The
Big Picture today - I recommend it as a good read. Here's a
wild idea Disney - how about establishing a Consumer DVD Hotline,
just like Paramount, so people can give you direct feedback? In fact,
EVERY studio should do something like this, either as a phone line, or
an online feedback page. I'd like to take a moment to praise Paramount
Home Video for starting all this, which to me, indicates a genuine
concern for their consumers. Bravo, Paramount! As for you readers, be
sure to keep those calls coming into their Hotline (323-956-8070) - with
any luck, we might get them to give Titanic
more satisfying treatment. But be polite, and remember to pat them on
the back for discs they've done that you liked. I for one, am very glad
they've returned to anamorphic widescreen for so many releases.
Speaking of anamorphic, I've had a lot of you new readers ask what
anamorphic (or 16x9 enhancement) means on a DVD, and why most of us
think it should be included on all widescreen releases. I wrote a
lengthy editorial on this subject last year, called
Squeeze, which should help to explain things. It's a bit of an
oversimplification in technical terms, but I've had a lot of people say
it helped them to better understand the subject. So do check it out.
See ya tomorrow...
Well, the big news today is Warner Bros. intention to release a DVD
boxed set of the late Stanley Kubrick's films. You'll find that
information in today's Rumor
Mill update, along with a mild rant on the recent quality of
Warner's DVD work, and a couple of other upcoming titles tidbits.
You can also find some of the Kubrick DVD artwork up in our Upcoming
DVD Artworkpage (click
here for the specific page).
Video Store magazine this week has
a story on how widescreen VHS tapes seem to be selling less and less
these days - the studios believe most of the market for them is moving
to DVD. Many studios may stop releasing widescreen VHS tapes as a result
of this. And the studios say that the preference for widescreen among
DVD consumers right now is at about 50%, with the rest (a growing
percentage) preferring full frame. But most of them agree that the
debate will very soon become moot, as widescreen digital televisions
make widescreen versions essential.
Columbia TriStar has announced several new DVD titles to street on June
15th, including Dancing at Lughnasa,
Never Talk to Strangers, and a
double feature DVD of Matinee Idol
and Frank Capra's American Dream.
All will carry an SRP of $24.95.
In other news, Simon Marketing has joined with Artisan Entertainment to
help the independent market their DVD product (see
You want to start out your Monday right? We've got some great new
upcoming DVD information in today's Rumor
Mill, including the scoop about just when Fox's ID4
and The Abyss should grace store
shelves. We've also got word in there today of a tentative street date
Speaking of Paramount, those of you who wish to voice your requests to
the studio regarding DVD, can do so using their new Home Video DVD
Consumer Hotline. The number to call is (323) 956-8070, and you'll
be able to leave a message with your requests and opinions. How about
you tell them you want an anamorphic widescreen special edition DVD of
Titanic for starters?
Speaking of Fox, wouldn't you know it? They've gone and changed the
cover art to
+ Juliet (just click the links to see the new art). We've also
posted the correct art for Buena Vista's Clerks:
Miramax Collector's Edition (what we had before was apparently
temp art using VHS graphics, and not final press art), and we've got
Better Place up as well.
CEMA's DVD Player sales data for the week ending April 9th is now
available - 31,206 players sold into retail. The above summary
chart have both been updated accordingly.
Josh and I would like to thank those of you who called us up on The
Digital Man Radio Show on Sunday morning. We had at least two
or three Bits readers dial up to
say hello, and talk tech. You can now download and listen to
complete show as a Real
Audio file (note that it's a good 5 megs in size). If you do,
you'll also get to hear phone-in appearances by Joel Silver, president
of the Imaging
Science Foundation, and my buddy Peter Bracke, editor of DVD
File.com. Just keep in mind that good old Digital Man, while
he may be a wiz at many things technical, is still a little rusty on his
phone switchboard technique...
Finally today (and speaking of DVD File),
everyone here at The Digital Bits
would like to congratulate the esteemed Mr. Bracke on his site's recent
1st anniversary. Well done, Pete!
See you tomorrow.
Hey everyone - hope you all got your taxes mailed off yesterday. I
actually spent my nite rewiring my home theater system - surprisingly
the last thing to be done after the move. Man, what a chore! I swear
there's more wires behind my TV, than in your average, mid-sized
All right, just in case you missed it last night, we announced the
winner of our April Trivia Contest, so
be sure to check that out, and thanks again to all who entered. Also,
Doogan's been a busy guy, today throwing in his look at Adam Sandler in
Waterboy, in addition to the
six Best Picture
films he reviewed yesterday. And darned if we don't have
new DVD art AGAIN today - this time it's Clerks,
The Punisher and The
Finally, I'd like to mention something new that I've been up to lately.
Many of you may know my cohort in crime, Josh Lehman (aka Digital
Man). Josh got his online start here at the Bits,
answering home theater and DVD tech support questions for our readers
for free. The service was so successful, that Josh and I created
Man, a unique web site that still provides the best in free
online tech support on a whole mess of technical topics. But Josh's
super-human online work isn't done yet - he's also known to
readers as Doc
DVD. Yep, it's true. Clark Kent, eat your heart out.
As if all that isn't enough, the Atlanta-based Digital Man has taken
tech support to the air waves. The Digital
Man Radio Show can now be heard every Sunday morning on WCNN
News Radio 680 AM in Atlanta, sponsored by our friends at
Here's the show's official promo-speak:
"The Digital Man Show on the
CNN Radio Network in Atlanta. Join Josh Lehman, the Digital Man, and
Bill Hunt, of The Digital Bits,
for the latest home theater and home entertainment news, reviews, and
tech support. Call 404-898-0680 11AM to 12PM Eastern Time, 8AM to 9AM
I guess you could say I'm Digital Man's sidekick - the straight man,
the show's Andy Richter... uh, yikes... scratch that. My role defies
explanation. But you'll find me there live, most every weekend anyway,
shooting the breeze with DM and helping to answer questions.
So I'd like to officially invite readers of The
Digital Bits to give us a call on Sunday. You can ask us
questions about DVD, home theater and other subjects, get advice with
technical problems, and just plain talk tech. Keep in mind, the call
isn't toll-free - we're working on getting an 800 line, and eventually
letting people submit questions via e-mail. But this is your chance to
talk one-on-one with Josh and I. If you live in the Atlanta area, do
give us a call, and definitely listen in. For those of you who aren't so
"optimally located", you can still call in. You can also
listen to a recording of the previous week's episode via
download, by going to the Ask
Digital Man site (click on the Digital
Man Radio Show button). The very first episode is now
available for your listening pleasure (note that it's a good 5 meg
download - we ain't streaming yet). You can also listen to a Real Audio
clip the show's promo spot (only 30k) by clicking
We're still working out the bugs so to speak, but the show is good clean
fun (come on - it IS Sunday morning, after all). I hope you'll tune in.
Have a great weekend!
(LATE UPDATE - 4/15/99 - 9 PM PDT)
The April contest winner has been announced (click
here)! We've also revealed all the mystery faces from our contest,
including those two bonus faces. You'll find them posted
Thanks to everyone who entered!
(EARLY UPDATE - 4/15/99 - 4:45 PM PDT)
As promised, Todd's weighed in today with a bunch of new DVD reviews,
and we're trying out a new review format. We're still calling it a
capsule review, but it's a bit more in depth on the film and the disc,
and includes our quick Disc Ratings, as well as the specs. We like it
quite a lot, and it should really allow us to cover more discs each
week. Don't worry, we'll still be doing our regular full-length reviews
for discs that we think really deserve it. Let us know what you think.
In any case, Todd's taken a look at six previous Best Picture winning
films, including Annie
Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The
Cowboy, and West
Side Story. Check 'em out!
Also today, we've received new DVD cover scans, for 3 upcoming
Universal titles: Battlestar Galactica,
Gods and Monsters and Patch
Adams: CE. You can find them
Word is that Battlestar Galactica
will feature a 1.1 soundtrack, which replicates the original theatrical
"Sensurround" experience - should be cool.
posted a big DVD
News update, listing lots of new titles, including some of those
Universal DVDs. See... we TOLD you Xanadu
Just to let you all know, we'll be back later this evening, to announce
the winner of the Trivia Contest, so
check back at around 9 PM Pacific time.
Finally today, we'd like to welcome
Express to the Bits' family
of sponsors. You'll notice their spiffy new logo at the top of this
page, as well as banners rotating throughout the site. We've been
talking with 'em for a while now, and even recently paid a visit to
their spanking new facility, deep in the heart of Hollywoodland. We're
proud that they support our work here at the Bits,
and look forward to a long relationship. Welcome aboard, guys!
Today's update is a bit later than usual, because we've just spent
HOURS transcribing Columbia
TriStar's massive new press release on their upcoming Ghostbusters
DVD, which debuts on June 19th. This press releases is packed with
interesting details on the disc, which should be the studio most
impressive thus far... BY far! Animated 3D menus (one of which features
the StayPuft Marshmallow Man - cool!)? "Live" commentary (you
can actually watch the silhouettes of the writer, director and producer,
laid over the film, watching the film as they talk, a la Mystery
Science Theater 3000). Two featurettes, tons of SFX material?
Damn - I can't wait for this DVD!
We've also got more upcoming DVD artwork today, including Criterion's
Brazil and Henry
V (1944), Pioneer's Tenchi Muyo
Ultimate Edition, Star Trek V
and more (the new art is on
And, last but not least, we've got lots of new upcoming DVD information
in today's Rumor
Mill update. There's a lot of stuff here from the independent
labels, a bevy of titles. Oh heck, let's call it a whole darn slew of
titles. Anyway, check it out - Plan 9 from
Outer Space is coming.
A reminder - today's your last day to get your entries in for our
Trivia Contest. We're giving away that
code-free Pioneer DV-414 tomorrow night, so don't delay!
All, right... my fingers are tired from all this typing. Doogan and I
will be back tomorrow with some disc reviews. Catch ya then!
Yeah, we interviewed the folks from Pixar yesterday, just like everyone
else on Earth. The Buena Vista publicity mill was definitely churning at
high speed on Monday. Quick survey - anyone who DIDN'T speak with Pixar
yesterday, raise your hands. Seriously, the folks from Pixar were
extremely gracious, and spoke with us at length about their work
recomposing A Bug's Life for home
video and DVD, and other minutia. With any luck, we asked some questions
not asked elsewhere, and managed to glean some information not gleaned
elsewhere (yadda, yadda, yadda...), so check out our
transcript if you dare.
We managed to haul in another net full of
DVD cover artwork scans today, including True
Lies, Artisan's new Arrival /
Arrival 2 double feature DVD, a host of Fox musicals, and
even The Cat from Outer Space.
There's 17 more covers in all, so do take a gander.
Speaking of True Lies, we've got
a bit of info on the upcoming DVD in today's Rumor
Mill, along with some other assorted tidbits, and an
interesting Divx puzzle if you will.
'Round the Net, DVD
Express has gone public (see
story), DVD players are "on the rise" over at News.com
and HOLY MOLEY, are people waiting in line for Phantom
Menace tickets already!? Yep, and you can "virtually"
stand in line with them over at
Hell, you can even watch 'em camping out via webcam, and talk to them
via ICQ and (how retro) a nearby pay phone. Yikes, man. Just yikes.
Stay tuned... (especially you guys in line over at Mann's Chinese
Theater in LA, and the Mann's Village Theater in Westwood, 'cause I'm
guessing you have a LOT of time on your hands)!
So did everybody have a good weekend? I spent most of mine settling
into the new office, but I did have a chance to catch a couple of new
movies. The Matrix was impressive,
to say the least. I wouldn't give it an A, but it's a good solid B+, in
terms of sci-fi action. I always have to give a film credit, when it
lays out a bold, high-concept idea, and just really goes for it. So few
films these days even try to deal with ideas anymore. Keanu is actually
OK, and Laurence Fishburne is excellent. Plus, the look is sexy-cool
stylish, the effects work is first-rate, and the action looks like
something out of a John Woo Hong Kong flick, with some interesting
twists. I'd compare it to Dark City
- bold, different, and definitely worth seeing. I also happened to catch
Never Been Kissed, which is good
for some funny moments, and light-hearted diversion.
I've been hearing from a lot of you, that you really like it when we
post artwork from upcoming DVDs. Well look no further - we've got nearly
20 new DVD
cover scans from upcoming titles for you today, including the
whole Alien Legacy series, La
Bamba, Apt Pupil, The
Siege, and lots more. You'll definitely want to feast your
We also have some new information in today's Rumor
Mill update, including word of a new Ridley Scott film coming
to DVD, as well as the early scoop on details of the Titanic
DVD. The latter news is actually a bit depressing, but you should read
it for yourself. I suppose we can always hope Paramount comes through
with a better disc than what seems to be in the works at the moment. In
any case, you may want to make your opinions on it known...
In other news, as if to bolster DVD's already strong position, Best Buy
is saying that they believe DVD will outsell VHS in their stores next
year. The electronics retailer is already considered to be the largest "brick
and mortar" retailer of DVD in the U.S., with more than 3.5 million
discs sold thus far. In the week after Christmas last year, Best Buy
sold more DVD product than VHS ($1.2 million in DVD software the day
after Christmas alone), and the retailer plans to reduce its VHS
inventory next year, to increase DVD sales space yet again. Also, around
the Net today, Laserviews
has posted another DVD
News update, with lots of new Image DVDs listed.
Just a reminder, the Trivia Contest for
April ends this Thursday, so get those entries in for your chance to win
a code-free Pioneer DV-414 DVD player!
Have a good Monday, and we'll see you tomorrow...
All right boys and girls... we've got some swell new info about
forthcoming DVDs in today's Rumor
Mill. There's a big harry ape coming to DVD this summer from
Paramount, and we don't mean Mighty Joe Young. Some kid named Jason with
an attitude (not to mention a goalie mask and some serious cutlery) is
also gonna hit DVD soon, and did we mention a swingin' little sci-fi
flick with Jane Fonda? How 'bout the possibility of that hanky-wavin'
Scottsman and a horde of city-destroying aliens coming to DVD this
summer? There's some new DreamWorks information as well, so don't miss
Want your smile for the day? Doogan forwarded me a goofy pic of
himself, doing a fanboy-cameo routine in an upcoming straight-to-DVD
flick from Atomboy! I'd best let him explain it:
[Doogan] Well, you all know what Bill's ugly mug looks like -- so by
popular demand, you can now see my even uglier mug. This is coming
courtesy of Atomboy
Filmworks. Atomboy is a independent production company based in
Atlanta, GA, and they're making a daring leap into direct-to-DVD
features. This movie still is taken from their latest feature, Save
Your Self, which is directed by head Atom Richard
Fortenberry. Richard unwittingly cast me as a mariachi for one of the
opening scenes of the film. Apparently this picture is the stuff of
legend at the Atomboy studio, where it graces a screensaver (and most
likely a dart board). Like I said, the film is a direct-to-DVD release
scheduled for later this year, and once I get more information about how
to get one for your player, you'll be the first to hear about it. Don't
Back to Bill...
OK, Bill here. Well, now that you've heard from El Doogan (and you've
finally stopped laughing), there's another bit of good humor for you
today, courtesy of The
Big Picture. Apparently, Divx is more dangerous than we
imagined. Check out Jeff's site, for a look at next week's issue of "The
National Enquizer". The screenwriter in me says there's
a B-movie in this somewhere - Divx Ate My
Speaking of Divx, Circuit City released their financial numbers for
fiscal year 1998, and took a hit in their profits due to Divx (see
here). They still claim to be up 37%. The
New York Times has a story on the high price of Divx for the
electronics retailer (see that
You can read another story on that Titanic
DVD today (click
And Panasonic is helping to launch the first-ever car theater, featuring
DVD, complete with in-dash screen (click
Something tells me that's not good for road safety...
has announced that good news, in honor of their birthday. Their
rental periods are now two weeks (instead of one), their rental price
has been lowered to $3.49 per disc, they have new "value packs"
for buying multiple disc rentals at a discount (as low as $2.99 each).
Even their shipping and handling charges are lower. Not to shabby.
Have a great weekend!
You want confirmation of that
Mill story we had last month about Titanic
coming to DVD in September? Try this little news snippet on for size:
Thursday April 8 5:07 AM ET
Fox To Jump Into DVDs With Titanic Release
By Marc Graser - HOLLYWOOD (Variety) - Twentieth Century Fox plans to
sail into the international DVD marketplace in September with its first
As opposed to many DVD releases, which feature director commentaries
and behind-the-scenes featurettes, the Titanic
release will include only the picture and trailers, due to its length.
Pricing has not yet been set.
Paramount Home Video is planning to berth the film on DVD in the U.S.
in September as well, simultaneously with its international release.
Again, pricing has not yet been finalized. Additional features besides
the trailer may be included, sources said.
Paramount has domestic rights to the maritime blockbuster, while Fox
Cool no? There's no word yet on specifics, but my sources tell me that
dual full frame and widescreen versions are in the works. Let's hope one
thing - ANAMORPHIC WIDESCREEN! And how about this for an idea Paramount:
include a bunch of extras, like deleted scenes, trailers, a behind the
scenes documentary, etc... on a second disc, and package them like that
Ten Commandments DVD. The first
DVD could hold the film, and perhaps a director's commentary track,
and/or an isolated score. Just some ideas fer ya, guys...
In other news, we've got a nifty Bond rumor in today's Rumor
Mill. If it pans out, look for more 007 to arrive on DVD in
November, just as Bond 19 hits
Our friends at
are going to have some big news up soon, so be sure to check their web
site through Monday. We can't say what it is yet, but it's very good
news for you online DVD renters out there. We'll post the details here
as soon as we're able.
has unveiled a new portable DVD player, the DVD-L50 Palm Theater, an
update of their popular L-10 model. You can read a
CNet news story on
Have I mentioned how much I hate moving? Well I hate moving. There - a
catharsis. I feel better now. What a hassle! We had planned on moving
the old home office on Saturday, but when we got to the new location, we
discovered it had yet to be cleaned, and repainted! So we had to wait
for the painting to be done (late in the day), and do most of the
cleaning ourselves. Alas, we didn't get to move in until Sunday, and
then our cable modem service wasn't restored until very late yesterday.
I spent most of last night trying to sort through boxes of recently
received press releases and faxes, to see what's happened in the last
few days DVD-wise. But finally, the new office is at least workable -
still boxes everywhere, but we're settling in.
As if the moving delay wasn't bad enough, we had to have our phone
number changed, despite the fact that we'd moved less than 2 miles. But
good old Pacific Bell neglected to tell us that our spiffy new number
was just one digit different than the number you call to get the local
time. So with Daylight Savings Time kicking in on Sunday, we got some
100 calls from people looking for the correct time. But did they say
they had a wrong number? NOoooo... they just hung up. It got so bad,
that we nearly ripped the phone off the wall, and we had the number
changed AGAIN on Monday. So for all you industry types who have been
scratching your heads at our multiple phone number changes, now you know
why. We definitely appreciate your patience.
Wow - sure feels good to be back. Thanks to everyone for hanging in
there, while we make this transition. Let's get started with the news of
the day, shall we?
We've got a bunch of new and revised DVD street dates for titles
expected to be released later in the Summer and Fall, including some
good new Universal information. We've posted that in today's Rumor
Mill update. We've also posted a bunch more
DVD artwork, including all of Buena Vista's May DVD releases.
Also, we've got Anchor
Bay's official statement on their defective The
Black Hole DVD, which has been recalled. Although it isn't
mentioned in the statement, Anchor Bay has related to me that anyone
with a defective disc should return it to the store where it was
purchased, if possible. If you'd rather exchange it for a good one,
fixed copies of The Black Hole
should begin shipping later this month (after April 19th). Finally,
we've updated the
DVD player sales chart to reflect the 37,481 players sold in the
week ending March 26th. The running total is now officially in excess of
1.75 million players shipped into retail.
Around the Net today, Laserviews
has updated their DVD
News page with some new street dates, and a few new title
announcements. Also, Warner Bros., Columbia TriStar, New Line and
Artisan have teamed up for a major DVD promotional push, starting on
April 30th. Some $10 million in advertising has been purchased on TV,
and in major magazines, to help the DVD industry reach its goal of 4
million installed DVD players by the end of the year. As part of the
promotion, consumers will receive five free DVD movies with the purchase
of one of 35 DVD players made by the four manufacturers involved,
including Sony, Toshiba, Panasonic, and Philips Magnavox. You can read
press release here.
And even Buena Vista and Paramount have gotten into the DVD advertising
game, believe it or not. I last night saw commercials for both Mighty
Joe Young, and The Rugrats Movie,
both or which mentioned, "available on VHS and DVD." How's
that for a change in policy?
See you tomorrow!